How a Good Girl Goes Bad

August is a wicked month.
                                 --Edna O’Brien

Bad girl Berlin 1933.jpg

Reckless, wanton, sultry, too hot to handle. August is breathing down our necks and it’s not even noon.  Hold it right there.  When it’s 100 degrees in the shade and the heat shimmers off the blacktop, Babes turn bad, if they know what’s good for them.

“Bad girls make it happen.  A bad girl knows what she wants and how to get it.  She makes her own rules, makes her own way and makes no apologies.  She knows when to work a room, when to work the angles and when to work her curves or do all of the above,” Cameron Tuttle tells us in her cheeky Bad Girl Guide series.  “She’s attitude in overdrive, coast-to-coast confidence and fast-forward fun.  She’s your boldest dreams and your inner wild.  A bad girl is you at your best—whoever you are, whatever your style.”

And whatever your age.  That’s because “once you light your badness fuse, you’ll start to hear the muse—that sassy little voice inside your head reminding you to go for it [and] trust your instincts…”  Those of you who’ve read Simple Abundance know of my deep admiration for the bad girl in all of us (November 22).  “There are no good girls gone wrong,” Mae West confides.  “Just bad girls found out. “  Unfortunately, for too many of us, our Bad Girls stay in the closet in all their dazzling spandex splendor.  That’s because we often confuse bad girls with the archetypal feminine shadow—the brazen hussy.  The bitch.  The witch.  Strumpet, wench, trollop, tart, floozy, nympho, hooker, libertine.

Yes, historically that is what men have called women who rule, women they couldn’t control, and the women of rock and roll.  I call her our Swell Dame.  “Great women throughout history were bad girls.  They were passionate about what they wanted.  They were dreamers, risk-takers, and visionaries who defied the norm of their times,” Tuttle points out.  “They didn’t conform and they didn’t take no for an answer.  They weren’t afraid to break the rules or scare the hell out men to get what they wanted.  You don’t have to change the world to find your badness.  But you’ll definitely change yours.”

 Maire Curie was long considered a "bad girl".

Maire Curie was long considered a "bad girl".

When I think of my inner bad girl I think of “The First of Her Name” and “The Princess That Was Promised,” my personal icon Khaleeshi, the Mother of Dragons:  Daenerys Stormborn, as she was called for she “had come howling into the world in the greatest storm in the memory of Westeros; a storm so fierce that it ripped gargoyles from the castle walls and smashed her father’s fleet to kindling.”  Not a bad beginning for any woman destined to change not just world, but worlds.

 Emilia Clarke in  Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

As a “good girl” who grew up to be a well-behaved woman, I’ve tried to bury my passion for most of my life.  But when a “good” woman snuffs out the spark of wildness she was born with, the very nature she’s been endowed with as a blessing to keep her not just alive, not just surviving, but thriving, she turns her passion inwards and ends up “dead” in some sense, whether it’s through chronic depression, cringe worthy choices, debilitating illness, addiction, or by desperate measures, such as driving off a cliff.  A woman shouldn’t need to be diagnosed with breast cancer to take up mountain climbing or landscape design.  Nor should she find it necessary to pretend she’s having a root canal in order to get a haircut.  However, speaking personally, I’ve known one too many women who have done just that.

Perhaps we need to reconsider our “concept” of exactly what makes a Bad Girl.  Cameron Tuttle suggests we consider “Cleopatra cruising the Nile…Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin…Rosa Parks in the front of the buss… Miss Piggy hitting the high notes… Aretha Franklin getting some respect… Tina Turner strutting her stuff…”

How about Katniss Everdeen?  Or Lucy from Peanuts?  The turn of the century rebel rouser from Nova Scotia, Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables who confesses hopefully for all of us: “It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it.”  Gee, I wish I could at least try.
Personally my favorite Bad Girl is Tinker Bell.  This Babe was so bad, she’d just fall down, hold her breath and pretend to be dead until she got her way.  Jane Austen?  One of the most subversive women ever to lift a pen: “I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other.”

 Tinkerbell in  Peter Pan

Tinkerbell in Peter Pan

What about Marilyn Monroe?  Granted she remains the greatest sex symbol there ever was, but regrettably she wasn’t a Bad Girl.  She just wanted to be.  Really Bad Girls might wear only Chanel No. 5 to bed, but their survival instincts are powerful and admirable.
Still, for women of any age, whose deepest, unarticulated fear is that someday we will end up alone, friendless, homeless and on the street, the dark shadow of the fallen woman is menacing.   “The word shadow itself suggests a dark, secretive, possibly malevolent countenance that looms in in the background of our nature, ready to do harm to others as well as to ourselves,” the brilliant writer and pioneer in spiritual energy medicine, Carolyn Myss, explains in her book Sacred Contracts:  Awaking Your Divine Potential.   However, “a much more appropriate understanding of the shadow aspects” of our personalities is “that represent the part of our being that is the least familiar part of ourselves.”

And for too many women the least familiar part of ourselves is the girl who just wants to have fun.  It’s quite illuminating when you make the discovery that often that women call the search for true love really turns out to be the suppressed hankering to do something that she loves.  It’s not another person.  It’s something that makes her feel alive and joyful.  I’ve rarely had as much joy in my life as the weekend I spent learning on the job how to midwife 200 rare breed pregnant ewes by doing it, rubber gloves up to my shoulders.  Four days and 80 newborn lambs later, I could barely move and spent two days sleeping.  But it was the best sleep I’d had since the night after I gave birth to my own beautiful lamb, my daughter.  There’s a soulful connection there and as Heaven is my witness I’m going to find and make it again.

“Do you have the idea that it’s unladylike to want.  Snap out of it!" Cameron Tuttle urges us. “Don’t be afraid to want things, to yearn, crave or lust for anything.  And don’t be afraid to go after what you want.  If you can’t satisfy yourself, then how can you expect anyone else to satisfy you?”

In a note from my dearly beloved and sorely missed friend, the late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, he urged me to let loose the “natural wildness, wisdom and devilment of your soul” so that “the Great Spirit can grant you the deepest desires of your heart.”  That’s where my personal journey needs to begin and it’s about time I start over. What about you?  Sounds like just the nudge I need to go see the new movie “Wonder Woman.”

Sending you dearest love and encouragement to the girl who truly loves you, Babe.  Just look over your shoulder. She’s great fun to be around.  I do hope we can all become acquainted with her this wicked month.  Let’s give August something to talk about!
Blessings on your courage,