Cynthia Occelli

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How Femininity Healed My Life

September 20, 2012

Photo: The Siesta by Frederick Arthur Bridgeman


I grew up at a time when the pendulum of the women’s liberation movement had swung to an extreme. In my house, led by my mother and aunt, men were optional accessories to be carefully considered before being allowed to walk on the carpet. Husbands and fathers were unnecessary and men were responsible for nearly everything wrong in the world.

I watched the majority of women in my community raise kids alone, work multiple jobs, do handy work, and exercise sexual freedom without commitment. They had everything they were teaching me to want, but inexplicably all of them were exhausted and miserable. Betsey Stephenson and Justin Wolfers’ paper, “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness” would later reveal that what I witnessed wasn’t an anomaly. While women were making important gains in freedom and equality, they were becoming less happy.

I made a plethora of poor decisions as a teenager. I dropped out of 9th grade, hung around the worst crowds and ended up pregnant and on welfare at nineteen. The birth of my son triggered a cascade of powerful changes inside of me. I wanted to be a successful and happy mother. I wanted everything that liberated women had gained and the happiness they’d lost along the way. For the next ten years, I gave my very best efforts to achieving this end. With much failure and sublime success, I found the missing piece: my feminine essence.

The thing that my mother, aunt and their friends had lost was their connection to their feminine essence. They hadn’t just accidentally lost touch with it; they’d purposely locked it away. Feminine to them become synonymous with “weak” and they believed that to succeed in a man’s world women had to be more competitive, logical, aggressive, and dominant—they had to be better men.

Our feminine essence is not something we choose to have; it’s a part of us and while we may repress or deny it, we cannot eliminate it. The gifts of the feminine are anything but weak. It is powerfully intuitive, seeks to collaborate, cooperate, nurture, create and must feel inspired to really thrive. It appreciates the process as much as the outcome and values personal connections over victory. For the feminine essence to reach its greatest sense of fulfillment, the qualities of beauty, purpose, joy, and love must be woven into every aspect of life. These very qualities are what the world needs most right now.

Thankfully, the connection to my intuitive center was strong enough to recognize the needs of my feminine essence. It showed me the inimitable value of sharing my life and family with wonderful men. I realized that like the women who’d raised me I can do everything for myself, but it doesn’t make me happy. Allowing men to shoulder some of life’s burdens and take care of the heavier dirtier tasks seems to give many men a sense of satisfaction that they’ve never caused in me. With more time to focus on the desires of my heart, I’ve created a life that rewards me for doing what I love to do: support others in creating their dreams.

Last year, I wrote the manuscript for my upcoming book, Resurrecting Venus. It’s a woman’s guide to success in love, work, motherhood and soothing the ache that the women who raised me felt for so long. I shared early drafts of the work with my mother and her friends from her generation. Initially, some were put off and reacted defensively. None of us want to believe that a dominant theme in our lives may be flawed. In time, each woman contacted me and thanked me for inspiring them to reconnect with neglected aspects of themselves. Since then, I’ve watched in rapt amazement as they’ve softened and relaxed. They’re listening to their inner needs and giving their feminine essence permission to express its energy without judging or repressing it. They’re alive again.

~ Cynthia




4 responses to “How Femininity Healed My Life”

  1. Nancy Fairbrother says:

    What an inspiring and insightful post. I also went through what your mother, aunts, and other women of the time experienced. It was beyond stressful trying to be both a man and a woman. I am still learning to bring my feminine self forward and am feeling more and more at home with myself each day. Thank you for your work.

  2. Sandy Penny says:

    Cynthia, have you achieved happiness through your feminine? Just curious.

    • Sorry Penny, I just saw this. Let me share a draft of the section of my book called “About the Author.” I broke all the rules for what that section is supposed to be, but I wanted to answer that precise question. Here goes:

      About the Author

      I’m an avid reader of personal development books and I credit much of my success to their wisdom. Yet, I’d often wondered whether a book’s writer really lived the teachings they espoused. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to interact with a few popular authors in private settings. I discovered that they’re not super-human; they’re just people, like me.

      I’ve chosen to take this space, and instead of trying to impress you with my achievements, give you a peek into the unfiltered me, so that you’ll know that I am human–just like you.

      Not every day is a wonderful day for me. Sometimes, I’m tired, anxious, and impatient or have no interest in seeing another human being. I am not a perfect mother, daughter, lover, or friend, but I do my best. I cry, get angry, and on occasion the world gets the best of me and I take a soak in victimhood. Blessedly, these moments are increasingly rare. I read my own books and blogs and strive to always walk my talk. I make mistakes and I fail. I’m not perfect, but I like me.

      I’m a very friendly introvert. I love people intensely, but if there’s a crowd, chances are good that I won’t be in it. I speak publicly–not because I enjoy it, but because I feel compelled. My burning desire is to significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. It’s my way of transmuting loss and tragedy into love; I call it the alchemy of pain.

      I have a man who loves me the way every woman deserves to be loved (yes, just the way I described in Venus in Love). My children are the light of my life. I am fiercely independent and very attached to my mother. I’ve had the same best friend since I was twelve. I’d lay my life down for any one of them.

      I love animals and because I often work in my pajamas and wear them to pick up my daughter, you may well see me flailing about in the streets of Los Angeles trying to catch a shrew (my last rescue actually was a shrew, I named him Percy) and looking more like Sasquatch than Venus.

      I am the most powerful person in my life and on most days I wake up surrounded by beauty and filled with passion and love. It was not always this way. I am finally free, at home in my skin, and happier than ever before. My promise to you is this: I’ve built my life around the ideas contained in this book. They work. Take them and make them yours.

      With love,

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