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