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Unfurl: to make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, especially in order to become open to the wind. Unfurling is my word for 2024, an intention with an unlikely beginning, the first Montana Tango Festival.

If you would have asked me in the fall of 2023 how much alignment was present in my life, I would have told you I was nearly fully aligned. I was able to believe this because of my work, which is deeply meaningful and satisfying to me. In my business my gifts and values are on full display, I use my voice with authority, and alignment is, indeed, abound. Because my work fills so much of my soul, I allowed it to fill my attention, as well, and I felt like a fairly complete version of myself.

Enter, tango. This isn't where Argentine tango enters my story, but it is where I attend my first tango festival, in September of 2023. For five days I was utterly removed from my work, and utterly immersed in my personal element. I was surrounded by friends, in a city whose energy resonates with mine, taking in food and experiences that landed deliciously in my body. I was engaged physically and mentally, learning, and enjoying being literally held by men and women from all over the world as we shared a common love and experience. Sitting in my best friend's kitchen just before leaving for home, I sighed deeply and announced "I am replete."

I felt full to overflowing, and as I drove the 120 miles to return home I realized I was full in areas where I had so long been empty that I'd utterly forgotten this sensation of profusion. My time away from home and the sheltering distraction of my work, combined with new experiences, new faces, and a new enviroment had fallen into my life like rain into a desert. After this life-affirming monsoon I could no longer deny the existence of the desert. There was deep alignment in my my work life. But I had allowed my life outside of work to shrink and whittle, becoming a small, pale shadow of the bold, bright energy that defines me.

Once seen, this became a thing I could not unsee. Nor did I care to. Once the rains fell lush and damp within me, I felt no desire to return to desert status. I immediately began asking myself what needed to change to keep the rain falling, to stay verdant and inundant. I also pondered how the desert had come to be. How did a woman whose work was utterly focused on alignment become so misaligned?

The answer brought me to places within myself that were small and cramped, spaces where I had continually folded myself down into smaller and smaller shapes to better fit the world around me and the expectations of people in it. Like origami, these parts of me where tightly constricted into pleasing shapes, creased by a thousand folds, sharp with countless corners. Each of these internal shapes presented small and neat, but within was trapped an expanse. Vast swaths of me had been folded again and again, creating the illusion of a petite and pleasing form from what had once been immense.

As I considered where to focus my inner energies in 2024, I could see no better aim than to unfold these spaces, to return them to their former, expansive glory. To spread out, to be open to the winds of change. To unfurl. I began looking at these carefully closed spaces within myself, asking them to come forward, to be seen, named, known. These are the areas where I seek unfurling.

My sensuality. Not sexuality. At least not entirely. This cramped space holds the part of me that delights in sensory experienes. This part I made small by closing myself off from touch, from rich foods, sumptuous textures, fine things, bold and stimulating conversation. This darkened corner of my inscape had become like a tiny kitten, eyes unopened, mewling pitifully while I turned a deaf ear. As I immersed myself in the festival, this area roared like a lioness to be dressed in beautiful clothing, to be held tightly in so many arms, to be moving in rhythm with music, to be connected with nearly 200 souls all doing the same.

Sensuality: the condition of being pleasing or fulfilling to the senses. This is what I long for, for my senses to be ignited. In some ways, I need only to bring more attention to the sensory experiences already available to me. I need to literally slow down and smell the flowers (and trees, and earth). I need to bring conscious attention to my meals, to take the time to fill my diffusers with essential oils, to notice the feeling of emolients or clothing against my skin.

And also, I need more. I need other humans to touch and hold me. I need to see beatiful sights that are new to my eyes. I need to experience new sensations, try new foods, hear new music. And speaking of needs...

The part of me that desires has also been stifled. Over the years I have learned not to want, or at least to utterly deny my desires. This enfolded center aches deeply, swollen to bursting with requests denied and those never given voice. I have allowed myself to put others' desires and goals ahead of my own, and to believe I needed the support and input of others to bring my desires to life. I have put so many of my wants on a shelf that the ledge long ago collapsed, leaving a heap of broken dreams beneath.

Here is where I will spend the initial hours and attention of my unfolding. This is the first area where I welcome expansion and opening. My desires are mine alone, to define and to pursue. The time of waiting has passed. I will look deeply into the eyes of my own yearnings, I will invite them forward, I will dance with them joyously and allow them to lead me forward, in whichever direction they should choose. When I think of life under their leadership, laughter rises within me like a great, yellow balloon. I feel it bursting inside of me, like champagne bubbles inside of my skin. This part of me, the part that wants, is wise. I have missed her wisdom and welcome her ascension to her rightful place.

Alongside her, the peaceful warrior within. This part of me did not become small in this life. I came into this incarnation with my warrior self cramped and constricted. It was not this mind or life experience that collapsed this space within, but it will be in this life that she is unfurled.

This part of me longs for the balance between feminine and masculine, between doing and being, sun and moon, hot and wet. In this space wait my most peaceful and powerful bondaries, my ability to walk away, my sword and shield alongside my prayer shawl. When this part of me is fully free, I will never stay where I am unwanted, never question who belongs walking beside me, never find my own back turned towards me. I will be fair and fierce, bold and boundless, regal and respected.

My creator energy, too, longs to be unwound. This is the area where my work has perhaps most confounded my compression, as I am deeply creative in my professional time. It took me long hours of looking to see the bends and breaks in this part of me, the need for creativity to flow beyond my office and work hours and throughout my life.

This part of my runs alongside my sensuality, seeking bright colors and varied textures. It seeks creation as an end, rather than a means. It longs to make delightful things, the delight springing from the making, rather than what is made. This part of me was boundless in my childhood and calls me back now to this youthful energy, asking me to release the need for productivity and embrace the pure joy of play.

And all of these crimped and creased areas are folded around a central structure, an area which society instructed me long ago to rein in and make more presentable: my voice. As a child I was "a good student, who talks too much." As a young adult, I was teased for always having something (too much something) to say. In my marriages I have been told I ask for too much. This world detests a noisy woman, and I have felt that hostility all of my days. This is the tie that binds, the central block that will fell the entire tower when it is removed.

It is the shrinking of my voice that keeps me from being expansive in my sensuality, that stops me from speaking my wants to the Universe, that binds the hands of my warrior self, that holds me back from unbridled creativity. And here the unfurling began long ago. As I continue to loosen the strictures on my voice, I hasten the unfolding of every part of who I am. I unleash my greatest gift, and align more deeply with the cycle shattering, pattern disrupting, world breaking purpose I've come here to fulfill.

I will be riotous. I will be magnetic. I will be free. And I will be repulsive. There will be those who find this unfurled woman beyond distasteful, utterly unbearable. And truly, this is an integral part of the objective. The more authentic I (or you) become, the easier it is for the people, experiences, and opportunities that are meant for me (and you!) to find us. Part of this ease comes from the polarity of a strong force, one that is equally attractive and repulsive, fully balanced in its integrated wholeness.

The complete unfurling of this force is my intention for this, my 49th year. As I unfold these areas which I've allowed life and time to make small, may I become ever more recongizable, both to what is meant for me, and what is not. May my expansive self draw to me everything I am seeking, while simultaneously driving away everything that is not for me. May this process become like breathing, so natural to me that I don't even notice it is happening. This is the wind into which I unfurl.

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