About the Book
The Seven Stages in a Woman’s Spiritual Path, which became the seed for Remember Who You Are, began an animated conversation on an airplane ride between Delhi and Bangkok among Linda and her friends, photographer Karen Ruckman and therapist Ann Ladd.
They imagined creating a book together about outward and inward journeys, taking inspiration from their travels to Asia and their shared curiosity about women’s distinctive spiritual paths.
When Linda began to write the book, she realized that the poems which had been her steady companions throughout her life beautifully illuminated the various stages of a woman’s life journey.
Click to Read an Excerpt
A woman stands by a window on a sweet spring morning and she weeps for something she cannot name. She has everything she imagined she could ever want, yet on this day she is empty and filled with a yearning that has no face. Feeling in the world but not of it, she performs the tasks of everyday life in a solitude that enfolds her like a cocoon.
The woman in the window is not alone. No matter what culture or spiritual tradition we are born into, human beings share her yearning. Our universal legacy of poetry, myth, and story suggests we are born connected to something beyond what we consciously recognize as reality—often called Spirit, God, Higher Power, Intuition, Essence. It is this mysterious connection that William Wordsworth writes of in his “Ode to Immortality”:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home …
As we become part of the human community, we lose sight of our spiritual connection. Across cultures, in stories and myth, heroes and heroines search for this missing sense of “home.” Wordsworth describes this forgetting in this way:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
What is this “celestial light” we once knew? Why do we stop seeing it? How can we find it again?
We search for answers outside ourselves for a long time before we realize we are looking in the wrong direction. Legends portray the seeker climbing the tallest mountains and searching the deepest oceans for silver and gold. After a long and difficult passage, the heroine realizes the real treasure is something she had all along. The Holy Grail goes by many names, but it is her own spirit she seeks.
What is the human spirit? Spirit, the vital principle or animating force within living beings, is one of many words that attempt to grasp the enormity of what a person is beyond the narrative that defines him or her in a particular place and time. We refer to Spirit as a spark, perhaps because it reflects a glimmer of recognition that rises when we hear the word. Maybe it is a bit of brilliance from the place we come from.
Although definition eludes us, when Spirit fills us, we feel buoyant, complete, and alive. We have direction. Life is meaningful. And when we are empty of Spirit, we feel bereft, depressed, oppressed, and, like the woman in the window, lonely and longing. The deepest wish of the human heart is to know that Spirit, that essential, original self. If we can remember who we really are, the connection will sustain us through times of greatest challenge.
A Native American legend says we are born with an invisible golden cord that connects the top of our heads to the Spirit world from which we came. This cord of gold helps us in our passage to the human world. As infants, when we are frightened, tired, or bewildered, we draw strength from it. As the skin thickens, covering the fontanel on our infant skulls in the first months of life, the cord gets smaller. Finally it disappears. We forget all we have known of our own true self as we enter fully into the world of families, community, and culture. Remembering that essence, reestablishing connection to that “invisible Golden Cord,” is what I believe to be the purpose of each human life.
Experiencing our lives in a physical body, we are engulfed and encased by early events and circumstances. When we smile at Mother, she smiles back. That feels good, so we do it again. When we run into the street, Father gets upset. This is frightening, and we don’t repeat our mistake. Then influences beyond our immediate families develop the socialized person we are becoming. We learn more about life, love, and personal values from peers, school, movies, songs, and by watching the relationships around us. We create beliefs about who we are based on what we understand the world to be and what others tell us we are.
As we grow accustomed to the outside world of rules, beliefs, and structures, we forget that our Spirit has its own truth, set of laws, and wisdom, our essence. We often think all we are is a social construct. Though we may refer to our ‘origins,’ we stop short of the source of truth that resides deep and forgotten inside us. Yet this inner presence is the well from which our highest humanity and deepest wisdom is drawn. A woman’s rediscovery of her essence begins with a journey to remember and reclaim this source.
Home is a metaphor for our inner life. The woman in the window who has lost her way is every woman who longs for connection within. Paradoxically, a sacred relationship to our home—to ourselves and our inner lives—can begin with departure. We must leave home to come home. In leaving, we lose nothing, but in finding the home that was lost, we gain everything.
Praise for Remember Who You Are
“A rare and exceptional book that offers a wise and hopeful map of the geography of love. It will help you navigate the highs and lows of romance and sexual love, the quiet pleasures of friendship, and the abiding comfort of care.”
— Sam Keen,
philosopher and author of
Fire in the Belly and Hymns to an Unknown God
“A lovely, timeless meditation on what it means to be a sentient, spiritual woman at home in one's own body and mind.”
— Kaja Perina
Editor-in-Chief, Psychology Today
“This book's pages hold many treasures. Yet its most generous and most useful wisdom is this: it restores the reader continually to the spiritual source-spring that matters most—herself.”
— Jane Hirshfield
prize-winning poet author of
After and Given Sugar, Given Salt
"If you know anyone who needs to be befriended by her own story right now—who could use a little help accepting whatever difficult or unexpected things have come her way, as well as the blessings we often forget to notice enough or if that person is yourself—this is the book to hold close."
— Naomi Shihab Nye, author of
19 Varieties of Gazelle and Words Under the Words
"Absolutely exquisite! Remember Who You Are is a beautiful, practical, and inspiring guide for the journey of self-discovery."
— Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra Stone, Ph.D.,
authors of Partnering: A New Kind of Relationship