Appreciating the Integrated Woman
With all the talk of Women Power at the Golden Globes, it makes us think about what that means?
In generalized terms, integration refers to the overall ability to blend into a larger whole and that makes a powerful woman!
When all the different parts of ourselves become balanced and thus strive to give energy to that equalized whole rather than individual segments of the persona we are powerful!
We all have our home life, work life, love life, how we connect with certain circles of friends, our family persona, our leader face and our cut-loose style to name a few personal segments. Basically, there are a lot of faces that we keep in the closet – and we know which face to grab when we are amidst certain situations, circles or individuals. This juggling act can create stress, resentment and even pain in our lives. The confusion of crossing faces can even spill over into our relationships and behaviors. But what if we could just have a “one face fits all” type presentation to the world? Is that realistically possible?
The relieving answer is YES. We are fully capable of developing enough comfort and confidence with the various sides of our character to showcase them as a whole instead of spotlighting ourselves as fragmented parts. Our values can hold a steady line instead of wavering on a situational scale.
Throughout our life, we are shaping our identity. This consists of clarifying interpersonal growth priorities and eliminating our personal defense mechanisms by countering those guards with opportunities to clear our resistance through growth work.
Integration bestows acceptance of our life events, traumas, and overall history. We fully acknowledge, embrace and connect with them instead of justifying, denying or holding onto the victim role and re-living the pain. Through the grace of integration, our thoughts, emotions and actions are essentially the same thing in different phases of manifestation.
Obviously, this is easier said than done and can take lots of practice (and even therapy). But that’s what role models are for, right? They show us these shifts are possible and they are vital to a life well lived. Oprah is a role model for many women and you may have someone else in mind too.
As we ourselves in other women they reflect a prism where our different sides come together to create a beautiful reflection of self-expression.
Through their example, we see how to overcome the events of our past, and achieve our various goals without the pigeonhole effect. They are able to blissfully blend various callings, convictions and qualities, allowing this combination of their powerhouse personas to bring their life to another level of attainable fulfillment. They are in a sense, our integrated icons.
Here’s one of my role models….
Katharine Hepburn: Liberated and Integrated
“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”
A key ingredient found in an integrated woman is a fierce independence.
And by fierce, we mean a woman with full confidence in her very spirit.
Screen legend Katharine Hepburn was such a woman, but she moved beyond a fighter to integrate her mother, lover and fighter instincts to live a colorful successful life. As a screen legend she broke barriers for women. And as an individual, she didn’t fall into the norms of what a women “should” be. Her individualization quality led her to be an icon. I picked her because she inspires me to be my best self and move beyond what is expected of a woman.
Not only was she self-assured in her acting abilities, she was also confident in her various convictions –whether they were popular or accepted by the general consensus.
She was gifted not only in her acting abilities but in having strong confidence in herself- sticking to her likes and convictions whether they were popular or not in her time. With her unconventional lifestyle and the independent characters she brought to the screen, Hepburn epitomized the “modern woman” in 20th century America and is remembered as an important cultural figure.
How often could we use a little pep talk towards owning our own passions and principles?
Here are 10 ways Katharine illustrated how to be an integrated woman who owns her convictions:
1. She refused to conform when it didn’t feel right. She listened to her inner wisdom. We all have this quality, but sometimes don’t tap into it to be our best selves. How often do we find ourselves making decisions based on what our mother, friends, or colleagues would do? We regularly place the reactions of others above our own satisfaction or beliefs. Have you ever bypassed an outfit you felt amazing in based on what you feared public perception would be? Katharine was wearing pants (“trousers”) long before it was socially acceptable for a woman to do so. Imagine the looks she garnered when she graced the room. Even as a young child, Katharine was bold in her persuasions, embodying a tomboy who cut her hair short and preferred to be called “Jimmy.” In an interesting twist, she ended up starring in a movie alongside Cary Grant as a woman who masquerades as a boy for the majority of the film (of course, she cut her hair short for the role). Later in life, she was cast in a film that was a frontrunner in dealing with interracial marriage “Guess who’s coming to Dinner.” She also became a supporter for birth control and a woman’s right to choose. Throughout her life, she followed the beat of her own drum.
2. She rose above criticism. While acting in theatre, Katharine was bashed by many critics for her “shrill” voice. Instead of cowering and letting that comment keep her from ever gracing a stage again, she took the criticism constructively and signed on with a voice tutor, continuing her acting endeavors all the while.
3. She dusted herself off after her mistakes. On the opening night of her first theatre leading role, Katharine showed up late, mixed up her lines, tripped on her feet, and spoke so fast the audience couldn’t understand her – and was promptly fired that night. Not to be deterred, Katharine sought and captured another leading role in a different play two months later. She then went on to be fired (for an assumed lack of talent) in four more plays, until her breakout performance in The Warrior’s Husband. In this role, all of her greatest attributes were finally able to shine. A Hollywood agent in the audience took notice. She was an instant success in the very first movie role she accepted. Had Katharine quit after her 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th dismissal, we may not have one of our most legendary icons, a woman we look up to today. It is often tenacity, more so than talent, which brings forth a star.
4. She never gave way to intimidation. When Katharine made the switch from performing in a theatre to film acting, the move was not without adaptations on her end. But she was notably never intimidated and went head to head with some of the industries leading stars, all while collecting raving reviews.
5. She wasn’t afraid to insist. When Katharine saw the script for Morning Glory on a producer’s desk, she instinctively knew she was born to play the central character, Eva Lovelace, and insisted that she be cast in the role. She went on to convince the producer, by using her lover and mother qualities kindly nurturing the producer to convince him she was right for the role. In my own life I live by “ you can get more bees with honey. “ I admire her for never appearing like a “ bitch” and yet she got her way. Yes, she ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actress, officially solidifying her as one of Hollywood’s key players.
6. She could brag about herself – and mean it. We tend to classify bragging about oneself as vain, but on the contrary, isn’t a good dose of self-appreciation excellent for the soul? Katharine sure thought so! Notably her favorite role was “Jo” in Little Women, and she was publically proud of her performance. She was once quoted as saying, “I defy anyone to be as good [as Jo] as I was.” Because she believed in herself, she supported herself financially. What freedom! “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.” This is not only sage advise, but it allowed her to be a lover and a mother. she nurtured all women to be independent and love who she wanted, not who she needed to support her.
7. She remained humble…not meek. Amidst her peak of fame, Katharine took a role in the film Spitfire. In it, she played an uneducated mountain girl named Trigger Hicks. Katharine is said to have kept a picture of her character (Trigger Hicks) in her bedroom to keep her humble and inspire her. Success never went to her head, even if she was mega confident! A sage quality is knowing we aren’t the center of the universe, but can still make a difference. I relate to this in that I want to hear and write inspirational stories. I’m writing about the wives of wounded warriors’. Finding unsung hero’s is humbling and motivating. Shining the light on them through a book or a movie inspires us all.
8. She wasn’t afraid to be the “bad guy.” If we are honest, a lot of our desires go unmet simply because we don’t want to be viewed as the bad guy in the situation. Katharine marched right over those self-imposed barriers and always remained true to what felt right for her. She refused to give interviews to the press and even once wrangled a camera from a photographer’s hand when he took an unauthorized photo of her. She opted not to speak to fans or give autographs, and distanced herself from the celebrity lifestyle as she thought the glitzy social scene was superficial. She rarely appeared in public and even chose not to frequent restaurants. She was extremely private but never felt the need to embark upon a justification tour. She wasn’t defensive, but very warm and more interested in others , the qualities of a lover and mother.
9. Age was never an excuse. At an age when most Hollywood starlets begin to slip quietly behind the curtain, Katharine took some of the biggest risks of her career and dove even deeper into her craft and pushed her comfort levels. These pivotal years are said to be the heart of her legacy. She inspires me that we don’t hit our peak at 30. If we are lucky enough to live until 80 we can have many peaks. I hear girls in their 20’s say it’s too late to go back to school or start a new career. She shows us that we can live out all our colors. Life doesn’t end at 40. If we allow our mother, lover, fighter and sage to shine life is fun.
10. She took responsibility for her controversy. And her way of living out her lover archetype. “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” Katharine partook in a long-standing, 27-year affair with fellow married actor, Spencer Tracy. While the two’s relationship spanned nearly three generations and nine films, she never once pressured him to leave his family even when his wife reportedly “encouraged” him to see other people and they remained separated in different homes for the majority of their marriage. Katharine never denied their relationship. She wasn’t the one who broke the contract, as she was single. She is also known for saying . “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything. “ and “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” She received all the romance and never the dirty laundry in her relationship with men. As a single woman I can relate to her. I admire her for paving the road for single women. I’m not a spinster and I’m not willing to settle just to look good to society, or not live alone. I love being single with romantic relationships.
11. She always pursued other passion outlets. Often times when we find our niche, we let that niche define us. Katharine, however, made it a priority to continue adding passions to her repertoire and was an enthusiastic swimmer, tennis player, and painter.
Thank you, Katharine, for paving such a spirited trail for other Integrated Women to follow!
With social media, society’s opinionated threshold is at an all-time high in influencing our attitudes and ideals. It’s easy to conform simply to avoid condemnation. What is a way you have stood up against an element of conformity in your own life? What is a way you wish to take a stand?
Katharine was a veteran at dusting herself off after perceived failures. What is a series of setbacks you have overcome?
Katharine insisted on the role that led to her first Academy Award. Have you ever felt so strongly about an intuition that you insisted upon it?
Katharine could brag about herself – it can be healthy! Go ahead and give yourself a hearty dose of brag. What trait, accomplishment or asset are you proud of? How can you be so grandiose to see your self in a famous icon? We all have Katharine’s traits, but the key is tapping into them to live the life we imagine. Can you be bold enough to live the life you want?