Ageless Archetypes

“As much as I loathe this aging thing, I'm beginning to recognize that I am now a healthier person in terms of self-worth and knowing who I am and where I fit in the world. That's been a good trade-off for the wrinkles.”

~ Patty Duke


It’s astonishing how strong is our instinct to pick a favorite archetype and ignore the rest. Especially since we associate Lover, Mother, and Sage in particular with specific ages and phases of life. Somehow the Warrior transcends, since most of us know we can fight ferociously for our beliefs at any age. But how can a woman who is only 17 relate to the Mother? How can a woman in her eighties connect with the Lover? How can a woman who just celebrated her 37th birthday call herself a Sage?

Here’s a gentle reminder that all four archetypes are present in ALL of us at all times. One may dominate for a while, but the others are still there, waiting to be called forth. And the key to a fulfilled, rich, rewarding life is to find ways to integrate all four into your core identity.

Lover and Sage: Vitality Versus Wisdom

You’ll see as you make your way through this book that these essential aspects should not always be interpreted literally. Yes, the Lover embodies physical attraction, lust, and sensuality … but that’s not all. She is also boldness, joy, and passion in any form, including artistic, intellectual, and scientific. The Sage represents wisdom, experience, and hard-won knowledge … but that’s not all. She is also intuition, savvy, and intelligence in any form, including emotional, mathematical, and cultural.

Yet these two can war within us. When we are young, we fight the idea that we have an old, wise person within us. And when we are old, we often feel embarrassed when our sensual urges begin to surface, as if the youthful aspects of our true selves have died off.

But the Lover and the Sage are actually perfect partners. Age is relative and flexible. How old we are is more solidly connected to how we’ve lived our lives than it is tethered to how many birthdays we’ve racked up. And when we work to integrate the Lover and the Sage, we embrace this spectrum with open arms.

When we are young and feel directly and naturally connected to the Lover, we can invite the Sage to express herself through us. Acknowledge that we are, in fact, aging and that the process is a natural, valuable, beautiful one. As we grow and learn, we distill and refine our personalities. We become more solid in ourselves, more uniquely individual. Tempting as it is to cling to youth, aging is a gift, an experience that enables us to become more interesting, multi-faceted, whole people. We are not wearing our bodies out, we are learning to stand tall in our true selves.

When we are old and feel directly and naturally connected to the Sage, we can invite the Lover to express herself through us. We can do our best to allow youthful hope, enthusiasm, and excitement into our lives, and resist the urge to default to cynicism or weariness. We can express our sexuality freely and in ways that energize us, shunning the idea that passion has an expiration date. Our bodies may feel old, but our souls are still young. We now have the life experience and wisdom to know when it makes sense to stick to tradition and formality, but we don’t quash urges to rebel or express our views. When those urges rise up, we accept and respect them. When life issues an invitation to be bold and loud and lustful, we accept it gladly. We are not failing to “act our age,” we are honoring the vibrant, vital aspects of our holistic selves.

Think of Queen Cleopatra; She is, undeniably, a venerable Warrior first and foremost. She overthrew all other claimants to the Egyptian throne, and did so in a time when it was quite common for siblings to marry and share power. But she was a legendary Lover as well, and knew how to leverage her innate sensuality to get exactly what she wanted. One of her most famous exploits involves her shrewd courting of Julius Caesar; Apparently, she wrapped herself in a rug and paid servants to smuggle her into Caesar’s sleeping quarters. There, she pled her case to him, convincing him to support her in the raging Egyptian civil war. And while she did this through outright seduction, can you see how the Sage was present, too? Cleopatra was wise enough to know that demanding an audience with Caesar wouldn’t be as effective as insinuating herself into his presence. She had experienced enough of life to understand that asserting herself as his equal would backfire and that, as a woman, she had a better shot at getting what she needed by playing up her feminine wiles. When you add in her Mothering desire to protect her mother country at any cost, Egypt, it’s safe to say that Cleopatra lived out all four archetypes in integrated harmony.

Mother and Sage: Compassion Meets Experience

It’s so easy to take the Mother literally; to consign her to bearing and rearing children and nothing else. And, of course, these activities are some of the most rewarding and fulfilling that we women can experience! But the Mother can use her caretaker energies to show love for friends, students, family members, even strangers. The Mother represents the nurturing, healing, empathetic side of a woman, and that side has many facets and many expressions.

Mother and Sage may seem like a more natural partnership than Lover and Sage, and there are some organic compatibilities there, to be sure. Both Mother and Sage tend to radiate serenity, gentle authority, and sympathy. But while the Mother is often selfless and focused on protecting the weak and vulnerable, the Sage may turn her energies inward. Exploring spirituality and accumulating wisdom—both Sage activities—are often done solo, and involve highly individual soul-searching. There’s also an age-based hang-up here; Mothers are generally younger women, and fertile. Sages are older and beyond their childbearing years. It can be challenging to find a place where those two stages of life overlap.

So how do we integrate these two successfully?

When we feel ourselves retreating into solitary, Sage-like contemplation, we call on the Mother to remind us that nothing great was ever kept secret. We transform studying alone or praying in silence into sharing, questioning, and exploring. And then we use what we’ve learned to help, support, and enlighten others.

When we feel ourselves giving to others in a Mother-like way until we’re overextended and depleted, we call on the Sage to help us create healthy boundaries. We remember that to honor ourselves, we must care for ourselves, and that means knowing when to say no, back off, and guard our energy. And then we recharge in our own time, making a wise, considered plan to avoid overextension in the future.

And when we feel weathered and worn and decidedly infertile, we remember that fertility can manifest in many ways. We may have a fertile imagination, a fertile social life, or a fertile mind as we enter our Sage phase.

And when we feel filled with the vibrant robustness of vital adulthood, we remember that moving toward old age means accumulating experience, insight, and wisdom. And that process is a tremendous blessing.

Biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson was a compassionate Mother, through and through. She was one of the first people to recognize that human activities were injuring and decimating the natural world, and she fought to protect the Earth. Her book Silent Spring is considered to be the spark that ignited the environmentalist movement of the 1960s, and without her fierce desire to nurture and care for our planet, this work might never have been published.

But Carson’s strong secondary archetype is the Sage. She was a trained and dedicated scientist who both valued research and sought to translate hard data into actionable recommendations. She was thoughtful and contemplative, and it was her intuition that led her to investigate the effects that the pesticide DDT was having on American wildlife. The Sage guided her to distill facts into wisdom, and the Mother fueled her instinct to protect our shared environment.

Rachel Carson never married, but tapped the Lover through her passionate dedication to her work and the creativity she employed in her eloquent writings. Silent Spring eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, but when it was released in 1962, Carson was brutally attacked in the press by chemical companies that wanted her work discredited. Calling on her inner Warrior, she fought back against these false claims and prevailed. Another great example of a woman who identifies strongly with two archetypes, but embodies them all!

Be a Lover of Life


 “Happiness is not a matter of events; it depends upon the tides of the mind.” Unknown

Are you a lover of life?

What turns you on??

Being a lover of life to me is living in my senses, as opposed to my mind.  While being more sensual will make me a better lover, it will also make me more present, creative, and vibrant.

How do you wake up your senses? What do you taste, hear, touch, see and smell that brings the lover out in you?? Do you turn on your favorite music, wear your favorite scent and lingerie, pour a glass of champagne?

How do you enjoy life even in the mundane? Yes I agree it’s hard to always find joy in life and it takes practice, so we don’t let life beat us down and kill the lover within.

Our jobs, duties, obligations, finances and illness all can interfere, but I don’t want these parts of life to win. I want to BE HAPPY!
I allow myself f to turn off my judgmental mind, through scuba diving, dancing, a relaxing meal, stroll, and being grateful.  I attempt to experiences each moment totally.

No action is too small to ignite our senses. Pleasure is in our mind. That’s what I’ve learned from dance. It celebrates women’s sensual energy at every weight, age and height.  If we as women feel great about ourselves, it’s easier to enjoy sexual pleasures and every aspect of our lives. The art of the tease, whether eating an orange or stripping for my lover or dancing the salsa is to move deliberately and slowly. Instead of quickly devouring my orange in the morning, I turn the process into an anticipatory experience. When I approach life in this manner, even the most simple activities like writting or sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe take on a heightened level of pleasure and satisfaction.

Be creative. Life is short so enjoy the sensual pleasures of life!

Again, love to hear what turns you on, how you find joy in your life, being a lover of life!


Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 3: Creating the Space for Your Story


Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about how to create the space in your mind and life that will allow creativity to flow in.


Creativity through stillness

If you walked through a mall or school or coffee shop or park, how many people would you see who are doing nothing? Staring into space, contemplating their tea, or gazing at the clouds? With the proliferation of mobile devices and a culture that increasingly encourages us to do something — anything! — every moment of every day, we are conditioned to keep our brains constantly active. My guess is that you wouldn't see a single person on your walk who wasn't absorbed in reading or typing something.

But if we want to allow our creativity to grow and blossom, if we want our inner selves to step forward and speak, we need pockets of stillness. We need quiet time without distraction or activity, meditative moments in which we let our rational mind sleep and invite our creative mind to awaken.

We also need to allow our minds to wander without judgment. Especially when we're returning to stillness after a long time away, it can be tempting to censor or evaluate all of the untethered thoughts that flow in. It's so easy to impose learned meaning and interpretations on the images and ideas that enter the stillness … but giving them time and space to settle is essential.

Here are some mediation and journaling exercises that will help you reacquaint yourself with stillness.


Meditation and journaling exercise 1: The language of imagery

Get your journal and pen and set them to the side. Sit or lie down and focus on the sound of your breathing. Concentrate on being in your body, think about relaxing each limb from your head to your toes, bit by bit.

Allow your mind to free-associate. In all likelihood, you will be visited by a stream of images. Some will be memories, some will be fantasies, some will be things you can't explain. Let them all flow through you unimpeded.


When one that feels particularly emotional or significant arrives, try to linger there. Let it unfold, explore it as deeply as you can. Then open your eyes, grab your journal, and write as much as you can remember. If you feel moved to do so, continue the action where your mind paused it. Write fluidly and without judging yourself. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or even if what you're writing makes sense. Just let it flow from imagination to paper.


Journaling exercise 2: Becoming a conduit

Pick a topic, scene, or story that you'd like to write and hold it in your mind. Then release it and make yourself present in your body for a few long moments. Close your eyes, breathe, let your mind wander. Then pick up your pen and begin writing whatever comes out, whether its related to your original topic or not.

By doing this, you are channeling more than creating; You are letting your subconscious do the driving. The words and images that flood your mind may seem unrelated to your pre-selected idea, but if you let them come naturally you're likely to see deep connections forming. Creativity does not travel in straight lines. It flourishes in the undefined spaces in between.


Journaling exercise 3: Tapping memories

Find a photograph of family members, a past lover, or a treasured memory. Gaze at the image in quiet contemplation, allowing your mind to drift into the past. Close your eyes and try to remember the smells, textures, and sounds from this scene. Write everything you recall and feel, focusing specifically on the emotions that return to you. Let go of your busy mind, sink down into your body, and allow the image to work on you.


Meditation and journaling exercise 4: Encountering your deepest desires

Close your eyes and concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. As you exhale, think or say aloud, “I release all fear of this inner journey.” Repeat this thought on the next two exhalations. Once you feel grounded, begin the next phase of this meditation.

Imagine yourself on a long and winding path. Perhaps it flows through the woods or across the mountains, in a place you know well or one you've never seen before. Travel the path in peace until you reach a large metal gate, sturdily locked and wound through with vines. Reach into your pocket and you will find a key, also metal, sturdy, and heavy. Insert the key in the gate's lock, turn it, and watch as the gate swings open. Breathe again, and release your fears. Walk through the gate.

Inside, you'll find a garden brimming with vibrant plants and flowers. Imagine the garden's layout and design in a way that feels welcoming to you; Perhaps it's an Asian garden with still pools and flowing bamboo, or a rambly English garden filled of bright blossoms.

Now imagine a house within the garden. This house holds your dreams, so create it as a place that is beautiful and comfortable to you. You approach the door and find it locked, but again find the necessary key in your pocket. Unlock the door, and enter.

Stand inside the house and breathe into the feeling of having come home. Find a spot, your favorite spot in the house, to settle and imagine a physical manifestation of your soul in the room with you. Many people envision an animal or bird, but you might see a flower or jewel or other precious object. Sit with your soul for a few moments and commune. Then ask it, gently, “What do you want most of all?”

Don't expect a simple or singular answer, but instead open a dialogue. What you hear and learn will not be the only or final answer for all time, simply the one your soul offers to you today.

Open your eyes, and write down anything that floods into your mind and heart. It often works best to begin by writing the question, “What do you want most of all?” Then write everything that comes to your mind, without thinking or judgment.


Re-learn trust

Many of us turn to meaningless busy-ness because we don't feel comfortable letting our minds wander. We fear what might emerge if we allow formlessness to take over. But re-learning to trust ourselves and our imaginations is essential to unlocking our deepest desires and essential stories. I hope some of these exercises help you begin to rebuild that trust yourself.

And if you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.


Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!

LOVER | Madonna | The Chameleon

“Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don't judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.”

~ Madonna



Controversial. Beloved. Misunderstood. Worshipped. As Lovers go, Madonna is definitely one of the most polarizing! This singer, dancer, actress, mother, and philanthropist has reinvented herself again and again, but somehow always stayed true to her authentic nature. Although her iconic name casts her as the perennial virgin and she was raised by a devout Catholic family, Madonna rejected the Church’s strict teachings from a young age. She knew her true vocation was being authentic to herself and embraced that instinct instead of following the script that was handed to her by her conservative upbringing. 


She’s been a rebel since the beginning, and now that she’s in her 60s, Madonna has grown into an inspiring example of a woman who owns her youthfulness and inner Lover regardless of age. She loves to have fun, wants to entertain and be entertained, but above all she wants to stay young and desirable. A force of nature, a deeply sexual being, and an astonishing chameleon of a woman, Madonna has remained hypnotically fascinating throughout her multi-decade career.


Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was a performer from day one, studying dance as a child and moving to New York as a teen to start her career in showbiz. There, she bopped from job to job, working as a backup singer, a drummer, and a dancer, taking full advantage of the electrifying underground club scene of the late 1970s.[1]But she felt certain that she was destined for something more. Madonna wasn’t going to be anyone’s background dancer; she was meant for the spotlight.



In 1981, she hired a powerful woman manager, Camille Barbone, to help kick her budding singing career into hyperdrive. Camille was a perfect partner, teaching Madonna to make her way through the male-dominated music business and training her to leverage her seductive charms in negotiations. And it worked: By 1982, her song “Everybody” hit number one on the charts.[2]She had transformed herself from a scrappy club kid into a bona-fide rock star.


Fans loved her music, but also adored Madonna herself. And no wonder! She was utterly original and undeniably bewitching. Her early looks were based on lace, lingerie, fingerless gloves, and fishnet stockings, and fans all over the world copied her provocative style.[3]Those same fans were fascinated by her open, almost aggressive sexuality. She created visually stunning, deeply sensual music videos to accompany songs from her second album, the worldwide hit “Like a Virgin.” When she saw that commanding her own sexuality both thrilled and angered people, she began to see the link between controversy and power. That link would guide her for decades to come.


Soon she began to explore emotional and contentious topics in her songs, like unwed motherhood (“Papa Don’t Preach”) and sexual liberation (“Express Yourself”). She continued to push boundaries with her music videos, too, including the wildly controversial 1989 hit “Like a Prayer,” which featured burning crosses and an eroticized black Jesus. She was a spokesperson for Pepsi at the time, but when the Vatican spoke out against the video, her deal was yanked![4]


Unsurprisingly, she would not be silenced. In fact, in the years that followed, Madonna focused her work more directlyon sex and sexuality. In 1991 she released the film “Truth or Dare,” a titillating backstage peek into her life and bedroom exploits during the Blonde Ambition tour. In her book Sex, she showcased herself in erotic poses and dabbled in soft-core pornography, once again claiming her sensuality and power. The book became the most successful coffee table book ever released![5]  



In 1996, at age thirty-eight, Madonna broke out of a decades-long acting slump and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her leading role in “Evita,” the story of Eva Peron (who is featured under Integrated Women in this book!) Her love for the story and the music that accompanied it pushed her to change and morph again, and surprise the world with the stunning results.


In recent years, she has dedicated herself to staying young, both mentally and physically. Madonna continues to dance and write and learn, all activities that keep dementia at bay. Unwilling to accept sagging boobs and wrinkles, she’s stayed incredibly fit; She continues to work out regularly and embrace modern medicine to improve her body. Some people hate her for it, while others are inspired by her example, but she is simply being true to herself, even if the masses says she should give up her youth and act her age. Madonna knows better; She knows that we should all have some say in how we age. She continues to show women everywhere that they can and shouldembrace their sensual selves and their inner Lovers with wide-open arms. 


“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” Madonna not only creates fashion, music, choreography, and movies, she lives a creative life reinventing herself to stay forever young. Whether you see her as trash diva, cyber-dominatrix, spiritual guru, or any of the other innumerable personas she’s adopted over the years, this ageless lover is not going lightly into the dark, forever young at heart.








LOVER: Dita Von Teese

“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.”

~ Dita Von Teese




When you think of Burlesque, what comes to your mind? A woman with a Mona Lisa smile sidling onto a smoky stage in a gorgeous satin bustier and sky-high heels? Watching her gracefully remove one article of clothing at a time, revealing the curve of her breast and alluring stretch of her thigh? If it weren’t for modern-day Burlesque pioneer Dita Von Teese, you might have envisioned something far less artful! This form of slow, tantalizing stripping focuses on seducing the audience through subtle but deeply sexual dancing ... but for decades people associated it with seedy carnivals and strip bars. Thanks to Dita, thousands of women have embraced Burlesque as a potent way to explore, own, and express their white-hot sexuality.


In 1974, Dita was born as Heather Sweet, and grew up in small-town Michigan and later Orange County, California.[1]Even as a young girl, she was mesmerized by the Golden Age of Cinema, images of voluptuous pin-up girls, and lacy vintage lingerie. So she set out to transform herself into a glamorous, sexy, powerful woman like those she admired.[2]


She recalls the first makeup moment that changed her life, saying, “I remember really vividly the first time I put a red lipstick on. I was maybe 13? It was the ‘80s ... and everyone was wearing that foil-y pink lipstick—Revlon Pink Foil. I loved that color, but I remember one time putting on a red and thinking, ‘This changes everything. This is all you really need.’”[3]


She kept experimenting with her image, dying her blonde hair black in honor of Bettie Page and refining her vintage-inspired fashion sense. By the age of 19, Dita was living in L.A. working as a go-go dancer; a few years later she had upgraded to stripping[4]; and by the early 2000s she was using her ballet training and passion for gorgeous costumes to thrill audiences all over the world![5]Today, Dita Von Teese is credited with single-handedly reviving the art form that is Burlesque.



And rightly so. Her touring acts are famous for pairing sensuality with glamour, titillation with class. Her famed “martini glass” routine involves her slowly revealing her alabaster skin and 

flawless figure, then climbing into an oversized martini glass to splash around[6]; deeply sexy, but also fun and playful. Classic Lover!


And like her idol, legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Dita has continued to practice the art of seduction well into her 40s.[7]What a powerful message to those of us cruising through the later decades of our lives: that being sensual, sexual, and attractive are about energy and attitude, not age.  


Dita Von Teese loves her job, and loves the sex-positive messages her glorious Burlesque act broadcasts to women the world over. She’s thrilled to see Burlesque classes popping up in cities everywhere, and hearing how learning this seductive art form is reconnecting women of all ages to their inner Lovers. She owns her power, as a sex symbol and a woman, and does it in the most inspiring way. In an interview with the L.A. times, she said, “I'm not the youngest. I'm not known for being at the forefront of the burlesque movement because I'm all those things. I'm there because I'm something different. Otherwise you'd be talking to an 18-year-old, beautiful, 5-foot-10-inch, leggy blonde girl that can high kick. Why aren't we talking to her? Because she didn't want it as badly as I did.”













The Sexy Senior Years


There’s straight sex, gay sex, group sex, bi-sex and tri-sex (I’ll try anything sex).

But let’s go for the ultimate in the closet taboo: Senior Sex! Can you think of a better example of the perfect oxymoron?

Our society is now accepting gay couples, but how do you feel about the subject of parental sex? Let alone grandma and grandpa?

We can be Fabulous at 50, sexy at 60, sin-sational at seventy, excellent at 80! Studies show that over 50% of senior citizens are sexually active.

Older people can and should have sex and any idea that they don’t is a misconception.

Here are 6 ways sexuality is alive and well in our silver years:

1.  Some put the “spice” in hospice. My dad’s girlfriend shared that when he was placed on hospice, he made love to her before hospice and my sisters arrived. Sex is correlated with liberation, vitality and vigor and we all want to hang on to this part of ourselves as long as possible.

2.  The mind is the major sex organ. If only the Playboy and G. Q centerfolds had sex, very few people would be engaging. But since sexuality is in our mind, we can all tap into a sensual and playful role at any age. We don’t stop playing when we get old; we get old because we stop playing.

Case in point: This photo of my Grandma her boyfriend snapped in her swinging seventies. She was not only sexual through her 80’s she was a strong, independent, and spiritual sage.

3.Age is in our mind and this is majorly reflected in our sexual attitude. Some people are old at 20 and others are young at 80. “Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got. “– Sophia Loren.

4.The need for intimacy and contact with another person doesn’t change with age. It’s a human instinct. And guess what? It’s happening all around us. Viagra is a multi-million-dollar company because it is fueled by men over 50 using its “enhancing” powers. There is a possibility that your elderly grocery clerk is getting more action than you! Don’t let the soft voice and sweet smile fool you. You are never too old for a little or a lot of intimacy.

5. Healthy sex for older as well as younger adults means generally better health. It helps their immune system, blood pressure, bladder control, heart attack risk AND counts as exercise. Just what the doctor ordered apparently.

6. The dating game is still alive and well –online dating sites for seniors has become a booming market. There are just as many opportunities for someone in their senior years to meet ‘that special someone’ (or ‘that special one-night’) than the rest of us!

So, can you enjoy sex without shame as you age? The answer seems to be YES. The older you get, the less you care what people think of you. This goes for any conquests or intimate endeavors, especially. Senior centers and over 55 Gated Communities are havens for this type of activity. Think “Melrose Place” with grandparents. It’s become so Spring Break-like that the medical community has even started making PSA’s around senior STD risks. Without the concern about potential pregnancy, many postmenopausal women find they enjoy sex more, thus do it more frequently, and thanks to Viagra, senior men can deliver those frequent needs.

There are even sexual position books designed for adults with arthritis, back pain, or other conditions.

Some quotes from some of our favorite naughty seniors:

I like to wake up each morning feeling a new man. “– Jean Harlow

Or as May West said,

I’m no angel, but I’ve spread my wings a lot.

The reality of the situation is this, if we are lucky, we will ALL one day be “old”. While we may not want to make it our next dinner conversation, at least stretch your thinking to be “ok” with the idea of senior sex. You once thought kissing was “gross” when you were younger and discovered just how wrong you were later, right?

After all, if the good die young, there’s a whole lot of “bad” to take advantage of.



Why it’s Essential to Meet + Know Our Archetypes


“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” 
~ Richard Bach

We are living in a time of great uncertainty. Every news cycle seems to produce a new story about a prominent man sexually harassing women in his orbit. No one knows who will be called out next, but we all know that this string of exposés is far from over.

I’ve found it interesting to hear from women who summoned up the courage to speak out only after hearing other women do so first. And even more interesting to hear that some of them didn’t understand that what they’d experienced actually was harassment until news stories broke about others enduring similar treatment. It’s like a part of our collective unconscious is waking up, and linking women all over the country in unexpected solidarity.

It might seem odd that anyone could lack the self-awareness to know she’d been violated, but it’s really not. We all strive to know and understand ourselves, but few of us achieve that knowledge and understanding beyond the surface level. We fail to identify and face our strengths, weaknesses, and defining traits, which leads us into the same behaviors and frustrations over and over again. Leadership expert Warren Bennis says that true self-awareness is “the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word.”

One of our strongest desires as human beings is to have the freedom to be ourselves, and when we do, we access the power to transform our passions into realities. But we may face obstacles, both internal and external, to this knowledge and freedom. We’ve all heard the parables; A fish swims in the ocean, but out of water he struggles. An acorn grows to be a towering oak tree, but only when given the proper nourishment.

To live the life we want we need to know ourselves. But this is easier said than done. 

Self-understanding through archetypes

“Extraordinary individuals stand out in the extent to which they reflect—often explicitly—on the events of their lives, large as well as small.”
~ Howard Gardner

Although we must explore and embrace our uniqueness, sometimes the things that unite us make us stronger. This has definitely been the case with women who are speaking up about sexual harassment; Their shared experiences have created a tidal wave of courage and support. Along these same lines, our individual quests for self-knowledge can be kicked into high-gear if we begin them by examining our relationships with timeless archetypes. By seeing ourselves in these eternal dimensions—Mother, Lover, Warrior, and Sage—we begin to unlock the tools we need to understand ourselves. And the deeper we dive, the more able we are to leverage these tools to grow our power and achieve our goals. These tools can help us live more productive lives, both professionally and personally. 

When we consider the four archetypes, we’re better able to understand ourselves. This self-knowledge is crucial because we can build happy lives only on the foundation of our own natures, our own interests, and our own values. With wisdom, experience, and insight from the four archetypes, we can use our time more productively, generate better ideas, suffer less stress, and get healthier.

Plus contemplation of the four archetypes helps us to better understand and engage with other people. We can live and work more effectively with others when we identify their archetypes. As coworkers and bosses, teachers and coaches, husbands and wives, parents and children, health care providers and patients, we live more harmoniously when we see and acknowledge each other on deeper levels.

Understanding the four archetypes gives us a richer, fuller understanding of the world.

Four faces in flux

When I describe the four archetypes, I sometimes get the impression that people want to identify with only one. But although some of us may resonate with one over the others, they are all part of us. The happiest, healthiest, most productive people are those who have figured out how to harness the strengths of each archetype, counteract the weakness of each archetype, and build their lives accordingly.

It’s also important to note that these faces are fluid. While one may emerge strongly during one phase of life, another may take over as time passes. We are a hybrid of all of them, and our expressions of Mother, Lover, Warrior, and Sage can emerge in isolated or blended ways. In my own life, I have seen my relationships with these four ebb and flow. I’ve sought to find balance among them, and doing so has helped me get in touch with my deepest desires and strive toward my loftiest goals.

Refine without confining

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

Bear in mind that the four archetypes framework is meant to help us understand ourselves more deeply, not to limit our sense of identity or possibility. Some people say, “When you define yourself, you confine yourself.” I’d argue that systems of self-definition are very helpful because they serve as starting points for our self-knowledge explorations. This framework isn’t meant to be a box that stunts our growth or a label that captures everything about us. Instead, conceptualize it as a spotlight that illuminates hidden aspects of our nature.

Think of exploring the archetypes as augmenting the best parts of yourself, supercharging traits and strengths that were always there. When your inner Warrior sets goals, she doesn’t just write the book, she gets it published. When your inner Mother gets promoted, she doesn’t just praise her direct-reports, she makes them feel deeply appreciated. When your inner Lover works the lunch shift at the diner, she doesn’t do it on auto-pilot, she speaks kindly to her patrons and gets bigger tips. When your inner Sage goes on her dream vacation, she doesn’t just take photos, she journals and meditates and uses the time to explore her internal landscape. Connecting with each of these aspects within yourself can help you build confidence, achieve more, and have a deeper impact on the world around you.

These archetypes have been a powerful influence on my life, and I’m currently working on a project that will help YOU dig deeper into your own understanding of them. Stay tuned for more posts on this topic, and a few hints about the larger archetype project!

Four Agreements Women Can Make With Themselves

Have you read Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements? This book is a total life-changer, so if you haven't encountered it yet, order up a copy as soon as you can! The ideas you'll find in its pages are based on ancient Toltec wisdom, and present a powerful code of conduct we can use to transform our lives for the better. Ruiz himself is a shamanic teacher and healer who is dedicated to helping readers create a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. His ideas have been healed wounds and sparked growth in people all over the world for more than 20 years. 

The subtitle to The Four Agreements is “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,” and that concept has been rolling around in my head for weeks now. So much life advice is vague or hard to apply, but Ruiz's ideas are refreshingly specific and pragmatic! I wanted to create my own version of the four agreements as a way to honor our four dimensions, the archetypes of Mother, Lover, Warrior, and Sage, and to keep that spirit of truly useful, down-to-earth advice in mind in doing so. As women, we are constantly pushed and pulled in many directions, and remaining true to ourselves can seem impossible. But I believe there are some simple ways to honor our essential selves, and learn and grow in the process.


The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word 
Archetype: LOVER

Ruiz says, “Everything you feel or believe or say that goes against yourself is a sin. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything. Being without sin is exactly the opposite. Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”

What could be more loving than embracing honesty without judgment? And yet this can be so hard to do, especially for women. We are taught that blaming ourselves is natural and normal, even when the true fault lies with someone else. But speaking with integrity and saying only what you mean are powerful ways to remain authentic to your inner beliefs.

To embrace the first agreement in the guise of The Lover, you can:
•    Take note of your internal dialogue. When you notice it becoming negative, put it lovingly on pause. Then say an affirmation out loud to re-center yourself.
•    Stop apologizing for everything! When you find yourself starting a sentence with “I'm sorry,” consider how else to introduce your ideas. Part of “not going against yourself” is standing tall inside your beliefs.
•    Slow down. We're living in a fast-paced world that encourages speaking without thinking. Breathe before you speak, make sure you know exactly what you want to say and why. 

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally 
Archetype: MOTHER 

The priceless nugget of truth here is that everyone in the world is self-centered, and their reactions to you are driven by their hopes and fears about themselves. It's so easy to take nasty comments to heart, or be hurt by accusations. But when you become immune to the opinions and actions of other people, you save yourself from needless suffering.
Mothers both know this, and teach it to their children. Understanding the motivations of other people and protecting yourself from their words helps mothers all over the world navigate their own family dynamics and shield their children from emotional pain.

To embrace the second agreement in the guise of The Mother, you can:
•    Practice empathy. If someone says something that stings, put yourself in her shoes. What might be motivating this negativity? Instead of feeling hurt, try to understand root causes.
•    Remember yourself. Opinions and observations can be especially hard to ignore when they've got a grain of truth in them. Be open to that. If someone tells you you're “stuck-up,” step back from the statement and examine its meaning. If what they're really seeing is pride in your accomplishments, that is nothing to feel ashamed of. Remember who you are to re-contextualize criticism. (You do this for your kids, now do it for yourself!)
•    Be patient. Living by this agreement is just plain HARD. Give yourself time to adjust to a new way of understanding people and the things they say. And if you feel wounded by a comment or judgment, go back to the first agreement and remember not to judge or blame yourself.


The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions 
Archetype: SAGE

It is so easy to slip into assumptions. We lead busy, full lives and often don't have time to investigate things as fully as we should, so we just take the tidbits we know and make some mental leaps. But this is disrespectful, to ourselves and to others. To channel the wisdom of The Sage, we must be patient, ask questions, and never assume that we possess knowledge we haven't earned.

To embrace the third agreement in the guise of The Sage, you can:
•    Be curious, not judgmental. This gem of advice comes from poet Walt Whitman! The antidote to judgment is curiosity, so embrace it. Ask questions instead of assuming you know the answers.
•    Check your prejudices. Did you know women can be sexist … against other women? Or that most of us have at least a few racist ideas floating around in our brains? If you find yourself jumping to conclusions about another person, be brutally honest with yourself about why. Again, don't judge or punish yourself, just be wholly honest. Then think about what you can do to be more open-minded about an individual or group in the future. 
•    Listen: Asking questions is an important start, but actually hearing the answers is just as crucial. Don't ask for the sake of asking. Listen actively and intently when someone honors you with a response.


The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best
Archetype: WARRIOR

Of this agreement, Ruiz says, “Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” 

So gentle and helpful! Of course you want to give your all to everything in your life, but your all will be different when you're sick, exhausted, or overwhelmed. Commit fully to your life, but with the understanding that your real capacity may vary. Just like that of a warrior, who is capable of ferocious battle at full-strength and far less when weary or injured.

To embrace the fourth agreement in the guise of The Warrior, you can:
•    Listen to your body. Our culture values strength and endurance, but sometimes at the expense of actual health! If you are tired, honor that and rest. If you are in pain, get the help you need to heal. And adjust your expectations for yourself when your body tells you you aren't at full capacity.
•    Push yourself. Gently. On the flip side, be aware of when you're phoning it in. (You know when and why it happens!) If you can do better, lean into that. If you need help getting motivated to step up your game, ask for it.
•    Reflect. Doing your best means understanding what “your best” looks like. Journal, talk with friends, or find some other creative way to self-assess your performance at work, in your hobbies, in relationships, and other important arenas of life. This is especially helpful to people who tend to go-go-go without pausing to process.


The strategies and advice found in The Four Agreements can be used by people of any gender, but I loved looking at this body of wisdom from a woman's perspective. As women we face specific and nearly endless challenges, but given the tools we need to remain true to ourselves, we can refashion those challenges into triumphs. I hope that thinking about how Ruiz's ideas relate to the four foundational archetypes will help you make key changes to how you think, feel, and react so you can be more fully present in your own life!