“The inclusion of women as spiritual leaders in cultures and religions, in my opinion, is really what’s going to bring about the change in the world.”
– Joanna Lindenbaum, founder of Soulful Coaching for Busy Women
Creator of The Women’s Intuitive Leadership Program
Joanna Lindenbaum is on a mission to help women reclaim their intuition and power in the world. “I believe with every fiber in my being that women have the power to transform the world,” says Joanna. As the founder of Soulful Coaching for Busy Women and creator of The Women’s Intuitive Leadership Program, Joanna has coached and taught thousands of women how to accomplish their big dreams and goals in alignment with their soul.
Joanna has participated as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and has presented over 200 thought-provoking workshops internationally, including seminars at Omega Institute, Renfrew Center, Womb & Belly Conference, Womongathering, among others.
This Brooklyn-based Goddess is committed to healing the world, one woman at a time.
Tabby Biddle: You have supported thousands of women to achieve success in their businesses and careers by teaching them to tap into their feminine wisdom and connect to their power. How would you describe feminine wisdom?
Joanna Lindenbaum: Your feminine wisdom is really the brilliance that is stored inside of you intuitively, and it’s been there since you’ve been born. It’s your birthright. It’s that part of yourself that knows exactly what’s right for you no matter what anyone or any institution from the outside is telling you. It’s that part of you that is innately connected to your body.
What I mean by that is that as women we have built inside of us this beautiful cycle. Each month we start something new in our wombs – we plant, and then it grows, and then something comes to fruition in one way or another, and then we release. That exactly mimics the cycles of nature and the rhythms of nature, which have innate wisdom. We have that built inside of ourselves. Those rhythms not only connect us to nature and the greater world, but also connect us to deeper truths and understanding.
Tabby: Many women come to you because they haven’t been able to fully claim their worth, their creativity and their highest level of talent. Why do you think women are challenged to claim their worth?
Joanna: I think that it’s because of the pervasive voices that are outside of us. For some women that starts at a really young age, like when they are infants, and then for other women who are a little more blessed, they don’t get exposed to this until they are in school. There are so many shoulds, have tos, need tos, and ought tos that come at us. Sometimes they seem so innocent. For example: “Oh you really should be a professional.” Or “You really have to wear your hair in braids because it keeps things neater.” Or “You really should finish all of your dinner.” As innocuous as some of those might seem, what that does is slowly eats away at that knowing we have inside of us – that feminine wisdom.
Sometimes it goes against what our bodies are telling us about when to stop eating, or what to eat. Then when we lose the confidence in that, we lose the confidence in ourselves. Or sometimes it goes against who we naturally feel attracted to, or who we are friends with, whatever it is – when the outside voices come in and tell us otherwise, we lose our sense of worth, and we lose our sense of self because we stop trusting ourselves.
Tabby: Do you think it’s different for women versus men, or girls versus boys?
Joanna: I think it is because of this one reason: So often those outside voices – the ought tos, the have tos, the shoulds – even if they are being told to us by women like our mother, our teacher, our sister – have really been handed down to those women via men at some point. So the whole game is slanted toward more of a valuing of the masculine, and a little bit of an undercutting of the feminine. With that being said, I think it happens to boys as well, just in a different way.
Tabby: You use something in your coaching and your programs called “Woman Wisdom Success Principles.” What are these and where did they come from?
Joanna: The Woman Wisdom Success Principles are based on ancient principles of the feminine, which by and large have been lost in today’s culture because of years of keeping them hidden and prioritizing masculine principles. The Woman Wisdom Success Principles are actually a mixture of masculine and feminine principles. It’s about bringing back a lot of the feminine, and showing how they can really work well with the masculine.
Tabby: Can you give me an example?
Joanna: Yes, for example, one of the principles we look at is befriending your fear. There was a time when it was understood that fear was part of the process of growth and change. Women innately knew that because of the ways their bodies changed either monthly, or through labor and birth. But through the centuries and millennia, fear has become kind of a taboo word, or something you are supposed to hide from or not look at. But the truth is that when you don’t look at your fears and understand them, then they sabotage you.
Another example is the Destruction Principle. For a long time – if we look at Goddesses from around the world – people understood that destruction was a natural part of life. Letting go. Releasing. Getting older. Death. Letting things fall apart that aren’t meant to be anymore. All of this is a part of life. But through the millennia, that became hidden. So that it’s become all about “new” and production, doing more and building up, holding on and safeguarding against loss. I’m all about new beginnings and creating more. I love those masculine principles, but you can’t have one without the other.
Tabby: I saw you recently posted on your Facebook page a quote by Erica Jong that says: “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.” What is your interpretation of this?
Joanna: The way I see it is that in any process of up-leveling or expanding, there is going to be fear that comes up. In other words, let’s say that you are a business owner and you really want to expand your business. You want to make more money. You want to bring your message out to more people. Inevitably, that’s going to bring something up for you.
Depending on who you are, it might bring up your fear of visibility. Or it might bring up your money story. Or it might bring up a fear of losing your parents because you’re letting go of some of their beliefs in order to expand, or you are surpassing them. Or it might just lead you to experience loss.
When you follow your talents and you bring your message out to the world, it ultimately creates so much, but you do have to move through those dark nights of the soul because that’s really your healing. That’s really the road to expansion.
Tabby: Speaking of healing, your Facebook Fan Page is called “Women Healing the World with Joanna Lindenbaum.” Tell me about the premise of this, and more specifically your view about women healing the world.
Joanna: I believe it’s the women who are primarily the ones that are leading the way right now. I believe the feminine principles of being, collaboration, and looking honestly at fears, and so many more, are coming up stronger and stronger in the world. I believe those are the principles – hand-in-hand with the masculine principles – that are really going to lead the change.
And of course men can do this as well, and there are men out there that do. But what I have seen is that it is primarily the women who are awakening the men, and leading the way.
What I’ve noticed in my coaching practice and speaking to so many women is that whether they are focused on their business, or their career, or their children, their family life, their marriage, or maybe a Board that they are on in their community – whatever their soul-centered project is – so many of the women are engaged and passionate about it not just because they sense how it’s going to change their lives, but because they see the ripple effect out into the world.
I believe you can be a woman healing the world whether you have a multi-million dollar business, or a book on the New York Times bestseller list, or if you are chaperoning on your kid’s field trip. The ripple effect is there and palpable.
Tabby: In your work, you talk about finding your inner voice and listening to your intuition. What has the process been like for you to find your inner voice?
Joanna: A little over 10 years ago, I was a curator in the art world. I loved what I did. I loved working with artists and putting together exhibitions. At the young age of 25, I was already in an amazing place in my career. I had just curated an exhibition, which landed my picture on the front page of the art section of the New York Times with a full-length article about it. I was publishing. I was traveling all over meeting artists. It was pretty amazing.
And yet, for all of this good in it, I was waking up day after day, knowing that there was something that wasn’t quite right. I was enjoying what I was doing, but I was also sleepwalking through a lot of it. I was rushing all the time. I wasn’t eating well. I was abusing my body a little bit. I was overworking, and things were a little meaningless to me. This went on for awhile, but I just ignored it.
I kept on having these voices that said, “This isn’t it. This isn’t it.” I knew that I was meant to work in a different way, and that I was meant to coach people and mentor people. But I just wouldn’t listen to the voices. I wanted the glory that came with being a curator at a major New York City museum. I wanted a salary that I could count on. I wanted health insurance. I wanted vacation days.
Until finally one morning I woke up, and the whole left side of my face wouldn’t move. I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t open my mouth to eat.
I thought I had a stroke. I went to the doctor, and they took one look at me and said it Bell’s Palsy.
Joanna: They said it’s a neurological disease, and we don’t really know where it comes from. But the only way that your face will look normal again is if you take these drugs. It was a whole cocktail of drugs. I was in shock. I had never heard of this disease before. There I was 25 years old. Looks really mattered a lot. I took the prescription crying.
That evening I took the first round that I was supposed to take. And as soon as a I gulped them down, a voice inside of me came up, and thank goodness I listened to it. It said. “This isn’t it. This medication isn’t going to do anything for you. It might make your face look better, but it’s not going to fix the problem.”
It was so difficult, but I decided to follow that voice and not take anymore of the medication. This was terrifying because the doctor said that there was a 99 percent chance that I would not recover unless I took the drugs. But I just I knew it was way bigger than that, and next time it was going to be something else.
I decided instead to do acupuncture, and start practicing yoga, and to change my eating habits. I also decided that I needed to take a look at what was going on with my career, and my life as a whole.
So I listened to that voice, and the more I listened to it, the more it told me to slow down, to trust myself, and that it’s okay to move careers and be in what I was sensing was my sacred purpose. The more it told me that it was okay to not do what my parents wanted me to do or what anyone else wanted me to do.
It did take a little longer for my face to recover than if I had taken the medication, but it recovered. Within eight months of having that experience, I left my job and I have never looked back.
Tabby: I know from our earlier conversations that you used to spend a lot of time leading Goddess Circles and Ritual. How did you first connect with the Goddess?
Joanna: I was in my early 20s. In New York, we have a place called the Open Center that has awesome workshops and lectures. I was flipping through the program for the upcoming season, and there was a description for this 8-week class called Woman Ritual. It was a very short paragraph description. I don’t even remember exactly what it said, but it said something about women have been the keepers of ritual for millennia, and something about opening to the sacred. Whatever it was, when I was reading that short paragraph, something inside of me woke up. I remembered the magic that I felt about myself and the world when I was a little girl.
I had to take the course.
In that course, I learned about how women are inextricably connected with the earth, and how that related back to the Goddess cultures, and how every religion on the earth at some point has had this, except for maybe Christianity. That was really my entrée into the Goddess.
And through this program, I went to my first woman’s ritual. It was for the Winter Solstice. We were invoking the dark goddesses. I remember sitting in that room and just saying thank goodness this isn’t just about the light part of me. This is something that touches all of me. It was one of the first moments that I accepted the darker parts of myself because I could see how innate it was, and how it went hand in hand with the light.
I fell into that community and it changed my life.
Tabby: You are participating as an expert in an upcoming telesummit called “The Prosperity for Women Telesummit.” What advice can you offer women in their approach to prosperity and abundance?
Joanna: Number one, when you are looking at abundance, no matter what your money story or money situation is – the first thing to do is to look at your fears around money. What are the fears? Are you scared of not having money? Are you scared of having money? That’s a huge one! Are you scared if you have a lot of money you are not going to have enough time for yourself or your family? Or you’ll lose touch with yourself? So number one is befriending your fears about money.
From there, what’s of utmost importance is to learn the feminine art of reception. You can have the best business plan in the world. You can be making a great salary. But if you aren’t comfortable with receiving, then the business plan is either never going to work, or you’ll bring the money in, but you’re going to squander it away or lose it.
We’ve been taught the side of do, do, do; more, more, more; and go, go, go. We haven’t so much been taught a part that goes hand in hand with activity, which is the being … the opening up to being a vessel … the being happy to receive, and to take in. Not feeling less than because of it, not feeling bad about it, and not feeling like you cheated somehow because you get to receive.
Tabby: Do you think it’s different for women and men?
Joanna: I think it’s more how we use the feminine and masculine principles. So for sure there are men out there that don’t know how to receive. I think it’s more that the feminine principles haven’t been honored in society.
What I will add is that traditionally women in the family have been the givers, not the takers. They are the ones providing support, but they are not the ones necessarily receiving support. Support goes hand-in-hand with receiving. So if you’re just used to giving, giving, giving — giving out more than you are taking in – that’s going to affect your ability to receive.
Tabby: You are co-chair of the Board and Director of Programs for the REVEAL conference. I loved reading on the website: “REVEAL wants for nothing but complete justice for women in the world especially in the realm of the sacred.” Can you say more about this?
Joanna: I think there are at least two aspects to that. The first is that for a very long time, in anyreligion you look at, either all of or most of the spiritual leaders have been men. That’s definitely changed a lot in the last 20 years, but there’s so much more to be changed there. The inclusion of women as spiritual leaders in cultures and religions, in my opinion, is really what’s going to bring about the change in the world. Bringing in that feminine wisdom. Bringing in the feminine principles is necessary – not that they are kicking out the masculine ones – they need to be there together – but women need to be there.
Then related to that, it’s important that women can see a reflection of themselves in God. However you want to define God – Spirit, Universe, Buddha, whatever it is – there needs to be a feminine face in it so that women are able to hold their bodies more sacred. So that they are able to hold their experiences more sacred; hold their emotions more sacred; and hold what they know inside more sacred.
Tabby: If you had a loudspeaker that could be heard by all women and girls around the world, what message would you want to impart?
Joanna: You matter, no matter what. You are sacred, and who you are is important.
To learn more about Joanna’s programs and events, visit www.soulfulcoach.com.
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Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, writing coach, and Goddess retreat leader dedicated to amplifying the voices of women changemakers. Her writing has been featured by The Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, UN Dispatch, NPR, Current TV, Gaiam and other popular online media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband, Lee Schneider, and kitty, Max Frederick. For more information, visit tabbybiddle.com.