New Beginnings: Re-Birthing Myself a Million Times and One by Elisabeth S.

Photo 2I think being a mother must be an amazing experience. I don’t really know the glimmers and shadows of any life but mine, even though I would be more than happy to listen. Recently, I’ve been reading the poems of Carol Ann Duffy, Scottish poet, U.K. Laureate, and once partner to poet Jackie Kay, and she writes something in one of her poems (“A Clear Note”) that I resonate with: “Never have kids. Give birth to yourself.” It is not Duffy, the narrator, who says this, but a character named Moll.

In the triptych poem, three women—Agatha, Moll, and Bernadette, three generations of women, speak to and about each other through time and space. The quote is just something Moll recalls saying to her daughter, Bernadette one night when she is drunk. I of course do not think a woman cannot give birth to herself if she has children. But it is certainly a good (in my opinion, for I wish it so) excuse for myself, revising this line of verse in my own voice: I will never have kids; I need the entirety of life to birth myself.

What a selfish, navel-gazing sort of statement for me to take on, isn’t it? Perhaps. I just think it is also a realistic one. I feel late coming on the scene of discovering what my path is. Now I have a vision and a drive, and I feel that all my sensationalist deep sea diving and surfing (metaphorically) has been both a distraction and the path on which a discovery was made. I feel quite strongly against saying “This [exhibit A] happened for a reason: [see exhibit B].” But all the decisions did sort of construct a path of materials I now have to work with.

I’m a part of a group on Facebook called She Hit Refresh, in which many women are hitting that button while moving across the country, changing careers, or re-locating to another continent (or at least taking a very long vacation to figure things out). I do not think people have to make big, material changes in their lives to “hit refresh.” Self-reflection, conversations with others, evolving viewpoints and perspectives, just expressing your thoughts more, unblocking your chakras. . . all this and more can be a new beginning. I think that our lives are exploratory and experimental. When I read the poems of Carol Ann Duffy, it feels like she has lived a million lives since she speaks so intimately from within the narratives she chooses to write about.

The new beginning for me is also action that I feel good about because I like it and it feels authentic: I’m posting my published poetry on Instagram and following lots of other writers on Twitter. I know I should be more face-to-face with people and nature, but I tend to isolate myself. Social engagement is something I have to work on. That new beginning is forthcoming, I guess. But having a vision for my career and then acting on it by submitting and applying, knowing what is practical and what is something not too far out of reach for me to work toward, that certainty is a new beginning for me.

I wonder what new beginnings you all are going through, even if it is evolving and transforming deeper into what is already your existence? Because I think moving in any direction is potential for re-birth. Of course, birthing children is a re-birth for those who will guide and love them. Despite all of the crisis and political despair that is out in the world, we can be sacred co-creators of our own lives and this world. I would love for the comment section on this post to become a sharing of all the beginnings we are experiencing and creating or co-creating in our lives, big or small. Also, I want to share a writing opportunity that I am thinking about submitting to. I’m not sure who is creating/editing it, but if I discover, I will edit this post and add them here. From the website:


From the Herstry website. 


Our very first in print collection of women’s stories. Our first anthology will be called Beginnings and will feature stories centered around the theme of Beginning. The anthology will be illustrated by our favorite artist Sarah Messina.

What we are looking for:

Raw, honest, true stories from women around the world

Previously unpublished stories

Stories should range in length from 1,000 – 8,000 words

Manuscripts should be well edited

Authors should submit their work in the form of a word document. Please no PDFs.

Authors should submit a short third person bio and an author photo along with their story

Authors should submit their work as follows: First Name Last Name Title

Stories should focus on the theme of Beginnings in some way

Stories must be true and about the author.

Submission deadline is May 1st, 2019.

Chosen authors will receive a payment of $10 for their story, a free copy of Beginnings: HerStry Anthology Volume One, a discount code for friends and family, and other great HerStry swag. The HerStry Anthology will be printed with an ISBN number as well putting the author and their work in the Library of Congress.

HerStry welcomes new and established authors. We believe every woman has a story worth telling. Women of color and LGBTQIA+ writers espcially encouraged to submit.

Submission Fees:

$4 From February 18th-March 11th

$5 From March 12th-April 21st

$6 From April 22-May 1st”

I hope you submit, and I hope you comment to tell me about your beginnings.

Elisabeth S., Ph.D., graduated in 2014 from the Women and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches online composition from a contemplative pedagogical approach at Oklahoma State University. Currently, she is working on a chapbook of poetry and traveling through Iceland, Spain, and Ireland. 

Categories: Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Foremothers, Gender, General, Gift of Life

Tags: , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. Thank you for this invitation. I look forward to more posts about all you are beginning i this new phase of your life.

    I am beginning a new novel, and it seems like I’ve been beginning it for months, over and over. The latest beginning feels promising. I have been writing novels for forty-three years, but I still and always feel like a beginner. I don’t know if I do it on purpose, but I seem to present myself with challenges I am not sure can meet. A day when I write a few paragraphs I might not toss out is a good day, and I feel more equal to other challenges (like living on this planet in parlous times). A day when I feel stuck is almost unendurable.

    Another new thing, I signed up for training to resist the XL pipeline. Construction may begin this June. I wonder if I will commit civil disobedience and be arrested. I don’t know yet. Taking the training may be the beginning of something….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kindness. I hope it will be a good one. They say that for Libras, our time comes in the 40s, the autumn of our lives. It feels true for me. If even after countless novels or whatever our task is, we can look at it anew. . . this sounds very present moment, like we’re opening ourselves up to what even we might be surprised by. I feel the hot rush of energy at you signing up for training and what you wonder about. Wow. We will all be here to support you. I send sensations of sacred creation for your new creation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am a Libra, too. The forties were an intense time. A lot happened. I am in my mid-sixties now. Novemberish. May your autumn, whenever that is, be sweet and fruitful.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow, maybe that’s why I feel we are kindred spirits. Thank you, and be well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. every spring – new beginnings but the yearly cycle is one that ironically brings on darkness..fear.. anger too

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every day brings new invitations and challenges. They are not planned “new beginnings” to do something necessarily unique or spectacular, such as write my best-selling autobiography. That plan is still in scattered sentences and incomplete paragraphs in a computer file somewhere in my desktop.

    But each day I encounter people or ideas that move me to “be a more authentic me”; to move out of my comfort zone and enter a different space. Sometimes it’s understanding an old idea in a new way, or realizing a need to move into it more deeply.

    Here in Canada, speeches, especially political ones, begin with acknowledging our presence on the Territory of the traditional Indigenous People. It’s starting to sound mechanical – a rote declaration without weight since we, the dominant society, fight to use/destroy that land for corporate profit. I’m interested in what Elizabeth wrote about training in resistance, and admire her action.

    My road is more “routine”, but not boring. I’m aware that I’m in the final stage of my life span. In my 80’s now, I presume I have another 10 years or so in this life. I’m preparing for that major transition we call “dying”. I picture it like the Autumn leaves falling to earth and becoming … something different. I don’t want to be a grouchy leaf, or hanging scared to an old limb. So I try to maintain a habit of “inner peace” even when I feel like raging. To enter into the experience of the moment. For all I know, it might lead to doing something that seems impossible to me right now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Sometimes it’s understanding an old idea in a new way, or realizing a need to move into it more deeply.” – Wow. Your whole post is so inspiring. I feel so honored with your sharing and knowing something about you that I didn’t before. The way you talk about aging sparks my curiosity and love. I can see what a “grouchy” falling leaf might look like and also a scared hanging one. I also believe we become something new, something different. I find it really interesting what you are encountering daily and also what you are creating space for, the seemingly impossible. Wonderful.


  4. A beautiful post, and very inspiring on a gray and snowy day here in New England when it seems like the new beginning of spring is very far away!

    One of the greatest gifts I’ve gotten from writers and others from women’s spirituality is the point of view of life as a spiral of birth/death/rebirth rather than a straight line from birth to death only as in most recent western thought. The spiral celebrates new beginnings as you move forward, but also the past as you move around again to somewhat the same space where you were before, but you now experience it more expansively as a different person. I’m experiencing something like that with something new in my life. When I was a child, I really wanted to be a drummer, but I was told “girls don’t drum” and rather than fight it, I moved on to other interests. Now, 50 years later, I’ve started drumming lessons on a real, full drum set and I make lots and lots of noise and have a lot of fun. I have no idea where that will go or how it will fit into the rest of my life – will I just enjoy taking lessons for another 20years, will I be part of some occasional women’s spirituality percussion ensemble (which I’ve already named – The Ancestors – because I was so old when I took up drumming …), will it be part of some encore career? Who knows? This is one new beginning that I’m just going to follow and see where it leads. That’s what I’ve found about new beginnings as you get older – if you look hard enough, you can see where the seeds were planted decades ago and that what may seem totally new is often really a new blooming from roots that go deep into your past.

    Elizabeth, I am totally excited about your new novel! I can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your beautiful sharing. I am compelled by the image of the spiral, and appreciate your articulation of always going toward the past as well, just as a new person. This is much like in Tarot where we take the journey repeatedly, always going back to the 0 Fool, but that doesn’t mean we are in the exact same place or have regressed. Love the idea of the drums. I pray to the goddess that The Ancestors will indeed manifest. The world needs that. I need that.


  5. Have begun on my project – ‘Turning My Life Around’. It’s like trying to turn around an ocean liner! I am determined, however and each new day/week is a resolve to swap from 80/20 time spent on Other Stuff vs Creativity respectively, to 20/80. Oh, and i keep giving up sugar…

    Liked by 1 person

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