We so often see life as an either/or. Why can’t it be both/and? I want to protect myself—and—I want to open to new opportunities to grow myself without fear of being dependent. I want to take responsibility for valuing myself—and—I want to live in service to others without being manipulated.
Both scenarios require healthy boundaries; boundaries that support and protect me—and—are flexible and resilient in the face of life’s difficulties to allow for growing experiences that are sacred and revelatory.
Barbara Brennan speaks of the difference between the boundary of expansion and the boundary that we create in defense when “I” meet “You”. One holds the excitement of discovery, the other the separation and resistance to oneness or communion. One holds the uniqueness of a gift or invitation to love, the other a wall of anger, fear and pain. The one must encompass the other in compassion as we ground ourselves in our original nature, and learn to accept both as part of our worldly experience.
In a way, this both/and is a lot like the differences between men and women. We each have both energies—and—are healthiest when they are integrated within us. One day I was exploring my masculine energies and saw a magnificent Cottonwood tree. I took the opportunity to ask it: “You are an embodiment of focused power. What do you have to say to me?”
The Cottonwood replied immediately. “The source of my power and longevity is two-fold. It is in my rootedness and my nourishment. Ground down deep into Mother Earth, and drink up all you can from your network of support and words of wisdom. Keep an open mind to transform each situation into a new layer of growth—it’s not just your skin, your edge, that is of importance. It is your rings of substance that make all the difference.
“My growth is directional (masculine)—always toward the sun, or reaching deep below the ground. And yet at my core, my power is relational (feminine)—xylem and phloem bringing that nourishment, sun and earth, to the heart of my being. From there I flower and fruit to share with others. Your power to grow is masculine. Your power to love is feminine. And yet they are one and the same.”