On Friday afternoon I sat across from one of the boldest and most beautiful women I’ve

met. 25 years ahead of me on this journey of life, a dear friend and mentor, she is a

woman unto herself. She holds her place in this world in a beautifully powerful way and

invites me to do the same. We sipped on white wine and cozied up in her fabulous

home, an old converted gymnasium, with high ceilings and multi-colored walls covered

from floor to ceiling with art. As we sat around a coffee table covered with stacks of

books and sculptures, she allowed me the luxury of some unapologetic self-

examination, as she often does. I just got to talk about myself and the work I do as a

therapist. How I am great at what I do, and yet it is lonely and difficult work. How I am

confident in my skills and yet know how much more there is to learn and uncover. It

occurs to me why these conversations are so inspiring and heartening; we do not blush

as we talk about our power and beauty. We do not apologize for our wisdom and

success. It is one of the few relationships where I am able to boast of my own greatness

in a way that nurtures it and compels me to continue using it powerfully in my work and

in the world.

Kathy and I don’t do that thing I often do with other women. We don’t wax demure. We

offer our brilliance, brokenness and strength to one another and then celebrate it, toast

it, and bless it. And we must do this. We are both therapists. We have the responsibility

and the privilege to sit in the most sacred places of people’s lives, listen to their stories,

and guide them. We offer new pathways to healing and wholeness. We call ourselves

Intuitives and Healers. This work is so optimistic and bold. We must believe that we

have gifts to bring others. And we must not apologize for our own greatness.

This posture of holding ourselves does not deny our weaknesses or failures. It can hold

our extravagance and our poverty all in one hand. I see how different this way of

being is for me, in comparison to the way that I lived the first half of my life. I withheld

opinions, knowledge, and even my own beauty, in efforts to stay small as to not make

others uncomfortable. There were times I chose agreeableness over my own personal

authority and if I’m honest, I sometimes still do. But a little bit less than my younger

years. And certainly, in the company with others like Kathy, it is less terrifying.

In my counseling office, I see my clients doing the same thing. One by one, more and

more people are stepping in to their own lives with a sense of the space they get to take

up, without apologizing for it. This is not a reckless, self- centered act, but rather a

grounded purposeful knowing that comes from being really honest with who they are,

for good and for bad. In doing this, we make more room for others to do the same. It

invites rather than excludes. It is spacious, not small. It removes lines that keep people

separate, and makes room for more.

Imagine women becoming less apologetic for the beauty we poses and the wisdom we

inhabit. Imagine us celebrating ourselves together without a twinge of guilt or the need

to add a tag line about the ways we are still lacking. That guilt doesn’t serve anyone, it

keeps us small and contained. Celebration, however, is spacious and wild and invites

others to partake in the goodness. In the last decade I have found myself in a tribe of

amazing women who do just this, and I am profoundly grateful. But I want more. I want

more of us to pass each other on the street and glance approvingly at the other, not

competitively. I want the conversations to be about how awesome sex can be in our

forties, fifties and way beyond, not how our skin is sagging and our tummies aren’t as

firm. I want us to leave our gatherings with one another and not scroll through the

mental list of what we have said that night so we can call and apologize if we have

offended each other. I want us to call each other with our awards and promotions and

throw parties for ourselves. I want to dance more and play harder, unapologetically. I

make a commitment to be this kind of woman. A female manifesto; to be the friend that

others rush to call when they want to cry and mourn, but also when they want to throw

their heads back and laugh so loud that people in the restaurant stare. My we be bold,

beautiful, intelligent and may we be unapologetically extravagant.

Jayne Spear