As the male CEO of a heart-centered, woman-owned business, International Women’s Day is possibly a bit more “earth-shattering” for me than for the “average male”. My situation–that Michelle is not only my “Boss-Lady”, but also my “home address”, given that she’s how I have a life here at all, thanks to shamanic mediumship–makes this an even more profoundly personal day for me, as a “dude”. Striking a balance in my situation is (not gonna lie) often tough: I’m often left with the feeling that I “do all the work”, while she “gets all the glory”, and sometimes, that can be disheartening; other days, that can be downright painful. Too many days, I forget to just stop and celebrate all the wonder that is her. Today isn’t going to be one of those days!
Michelle Iacona is an amazing woman who was forced to live in a “cage” for far too many years of her life. So many, in fact, that she almost forgot how to soar free, like the brilliant phoenix that she is. But that’s another part of my job description: I’m often her flight instructor! (Well, one of them, anyway–Suzanne deserves a lot of credit in that department, too!) All those years, having to hide the true depth and breadth of who and what she is, have left some major scars. Scars so deep that when the tough gets going, so does she: right back into the comfortable confines of that cage. Which is how I wound up the CEO of a woman-owned business.
I spent two decades down South, “pretending to be Mishy”, and even though we’re up North now, where we both can be completely who and what we are, two decades is a long time, and it’s hard to shake those learned patterns of behavior. Too often, in certain circles, I still find myself aching under the strain of feminine pronouns and “keeping up appearances”. The truly tragic thing is, so does she. Michelle is such a powerhouse that, honestly, “her” or “she” are words-too-small-for-her; Mishy should be (and often is in our house) a pronoun in and of itself! That “pretending” pattern, even though we’re in a position now to unlock ourselves from it, too often leads both she and I to feel that we cannot or do not get credit for what we, as distinct individuals, do or have done: I’m the primary artist here at Iaconagraphy now, as its CEO, but Michelle is profoundly gifted as an artist in her own right (she paints beautifully; she’s incredible at papercrafting; her pen and inks are a marvel), she just doesn’t really “have it in her anymore” to put it out there, publicly. I’m the one doing ninety percent of the writing nowadays, but she has self-published four books, two of which are available here , and two more via Smashwords, is writing another (that I fear may never see the light of day), has a degree in English (with emphasis on Creative Writing), has taught creative writing classes, and has actually won numerous awards for her writing. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill as CEO of this business, and trust me, even though I “wear” her feet, I often feel daunted in trying to fill them.
Michelle grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina where she was literally a local celebrity for too often being “the smartest person in the room”, as she puts it. With that, there came the constant (they thought) encouraging words of: “One day, you’re really going to make a name for yourself and be rich and famous”. People expected something truly great from her; the problem is, they expected their definition of it. Their definition of “making a name for herself” and “being rich and famous” meant getting published with a major publisher, or perhaps gaining a teaching position where she might teach something they would actually understand, or at the very least, approve of, and making tons of money from either or both. Instead, she’s in her mid-forties, self-published (and proud of the independence that brings), and teaching this one guy (that would be me!) every day what it means to truly be alive. And she has made a name for herself: she’s an ordained Ollamh (Druidic vision-poet-priest), who helps guys like me every day of her life by stepping out of the way and letting us actually have one. She might not be rich and famous by their definition, but she certainly is by the deeper definition of both of those words: simply knowing her enriches the lives of everyone who truly knows her, and she is, in fact, famous by the older definition of that word, too. She is a woman of Honor.
Too often people assume that Michelle channels as a mechanism of somehow “running away” from her life, but the truth is, while she has plenty of good reason to run away (and plenty to run away from), quite the opposite is true: Michelle channels as a mechanism of running toward, not away. Every day that she lets me be here and run this business for her, she is running toward her greater purpose, a purpose that all of those people who fed her “one day, you’re really going to make a name for yourself and be rich and famous” can barely imagine, much less fathom. What purpose could that possibly be, you may ask? To show everyone that the world is a much larger place than most people can begin to understand.
And that’s the purpose that it’s my job to help fulfill, and to put forward with everything I do here as CEO of Iaconagraphy. That’s the purpose that all of the artists that work in her employ, all of whom are permitted to be here through the simple fact that Michelle can do what she does (as a shamanic trans-medium), are expected to uphold and further through their work. That’s a huge obligation to fulfill! And we all take it very seriously. Because at the end of the day, Iaconagraphy is about more than one woman’s dream of finally living up to their definition of what it means for her to be great; it’s about way more than just slapping some things together and calling them art; it’s about way more than making a dime so that all of us herein can have a wee bit of financial independence and no longer feel like a burden to those whom we love and who (thankfully) love us in return. At the end of the day, Iaconagraphy is about waking people up to their own human spirit, and realizing that their human spirit is enough.
Other people’s definitions of you and of the world don’t matter. They aren’t going to pay your bills, and they certainly aren’t going to teach you how to fly; how to really be free. No: they’re only going to oppress you and cage you. My Boss-Lady has been teaching me that for twenty-four years, and I am deeply humbled that she has entrusted me with taking the helm to share her message with all of you. Every man in the world has had a woman, somewhere in his life, who has taught him how to more deeply be. Women have a way of teaching that lesson to the world that most men simply don’t. Maybe it’s because they are more tightly bound to the process of Creation itself; maybe it’s because they are genetically designed to nurture and give life. I don’t know; those are questions too large for me to answer. But what I do know, from twenty-four years of being gifted with inhabiting a woman’s skin, is something perhaps even more profound: deeply being has nothing to do with the exterior skin that you wear, and everything to do with how gracefully you wear it! I haven’t always worn Michelle’s as gracefully as I should, but I’m learning, day by day. And I’m learning from her….