30 July, 2009
Ecstatic Dance as Moving Meditation
Come fly with me
come on, come on, come
dance with me
come on, come on, come fly
come on and dance with me
Dance is a dynamic tool for awakening and stirring up the subtle forces and energies of life. It is an outer expression of an inner spirit. Dance and movement are natural to the universe. Plants will move gracefully to face the sun and wave in the breeze. Birds and animals display magnificent arrays of plumage and posture for everything from courtship to aggression. Dance is natural and vital to us as well.
We are all musical. We all have rhythm. Anyone can dance. We live in a time when we are too self-conscious and caught up with how we might look when we dance.
Ecstatic dance is a moving meditation. It is not a dance to do with someone else unless that is what you want. It is not a dance designed to “look” good. It is free flowing. It is aware. It is between your spirit and the music.
How do you do it? Anyway you want. Anyway you feel the music. The idea is to let the music in, feel it, and release it through yourself in movement. Whatever movement “feels” natural to you.
The choice of music is also up to you. There are many selections available that are designed to be used for movement, but you need to select what appeals to you.
Find a time that you can be undisturbed. Wear clothes that you like and feel good in, and that allow you to move comfortably. Whatever appeals to you that will not restrict your movement. Clear an area. It does not have to be a large area because the dance is really happening within. It is a good idea to be barefoot. I very seldom move my feet at all. It’s about moving the body. Put on your music. Begin your movements slowly, warming up to the music. Breath naturally and easily, focusing on the music. Allow your body to seek a place in tune with what you feel. Get loose.
Begin to warm up by focusing on a body part. Say, first, your neck. Move it in time with the music. Get loose. Now, move your shoulders, your spine, your hips, and your knees. Continue focusing on different areas of your body until you have loosened up all over.
You should really be into your dance at this point. No one is looking. Free yourself. Become the music!
Ideally, your ecstatic dance session should last at least twenty minutes. Most of mine last close to an hour.
When I first started doing this, it was with a group women and we all wanted to experiment. We wore blindfolds. By using a blindfold we were freed from the idea of someone looking at us. Amazing! You can’t see anyone else, nor can they see you! This is not about how it looks. This is about how it feels. Try it! Listen to the music. Act out how it makes you feel. Your imagination is a wonderful tool. Let it make pictures in your mind. Become the music. The first time we tried it, we danced for an hour; one hour of being completely unaware of anything but the music, your mind, and your movement.
Ecstatic dancing comes more easily to some than others. It is particularly difficult for those of us who have allowed ourselves to become slaves to time, machines and consensus reality. Many of us have become victims of our left-brain logic and have stress-related disorders. If this describes you, as it did me, at least try ecstatic dancing. It is a great adventure and an opportunity to meet a part of yourself, which has been dormant for a long time.
The ways and means for achieving altered states are many. Every culture around the world has developed many effective methods. Examples briefly are Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and shamanic journeying. Explore what works for you.
I cannot stress strongly enough, that a meditation practice is essential to your spiritual development. Your journey will unfold in a better way. You will come to know self in ways not thought of and you will tap into your own Goddess Wisdom fully as you walk through this life.
Excerpt from Dancing with Goddess by Deanne Quarrie available at http://www.lulu.com/applebranch
"If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I shall never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation." ~Anais Nin~ (Yes, that's how I feel, too)!~~ This has also been published at skirt.com
~This poem, by the remarkable Maya Angelou, is one of my all time favorites. The first time I read it, I exclaimed loudly, “THIS IS ME!” Thus-- the poet’s job is to cause the reader to find herself someplace within the words. I have continually met myself inside Angelou’s delicious verse and prose.
~For those of you who have not experienced “Phenomenal Women” I envy you reading it for the first time. Quite sincerely, she is writing about every woman, everywhere, or at least, how we’d like to see ourselves!
Suggestion: This poem is meant to be read aloud for one to fully appreciate the rhyme and rhythm. The words are syrup surging into the atmosphere.
~ By Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
but when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
just as cool as you please,
and to a man,
the fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
a hive of honey bees.
it’s the fire in my eyes,
and the flash of my teeth,
the swing in my waist,
and the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
what they see in me.
They try so much
but they can't touch
my inner mystery.
When I try to show them
they say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
it ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
28 July, 2009
Intuition is a tool that so many people fail to use when making decisions in their lives. I recently interviewed Tara Crawford Roth, an intuitive coach, and she is sharing her thoughts on intuition and ways for people to tap into their intuitive side. So sit back and get real clear about what you want in your life and then ask your intuition what is the best path to take. You just might be surprised to find out that the answers do lie inside you!
ec: Before we delve into the subject of Intuition and how it has impacted your life, in all areas of your life, can you give us your definition of Intuition? I think there are still some who feel that getting in touch with your inner voice only happens in a smoked filled backroom with a woman named Mistress Sylvia and a crystal ball.
TR: Well that has been known to work but there is a better way. My definition of intuition is that still inner voice within that we all have but have learned to discount. Einstein called intuition the highest form of knowing. The word intuition means "in to you" in Latin. It is the voice of inspiration or sudden insight that comes from out of the blue. It's been called the sixth sense, an inner knowing or divine guidance. My experience is that it is an incredibly valuable resource that helps us live our lives more fully once we learn to recognize how it communicates with us.
ec: When did you realize that you were receiving intuitive hits and were not just someone with a vivid imagination? Was your reaction one of embracing this gift or were you fearful that something was off? I would imagine it had to be a little unsettling at first.
TR: When I was really young, I could communicate with animals but it wasn’t til later I realized this was unusual. I was the kid who liked to dress up as gypsy and read your fortune with the Magic 8 Ball for a nickel. I thought it was mysterious and fun. Sometimes, when I would get an intuitive hit, it was confusing, especially if I got one that was incorrect. Over time, I learned to pay more attention and notice when it was really my intuition and when it was “just” my imagination.
ec: Being intuitive from an early age, when did you reveal this side of you to your family and what was their reaction? Somehow I don’t think this would have fallen into the same category as discovering that you have a strong backhand for tennis or that your singing ability rivaled Aretha Franklin’s?
TR: Well it certainly wasn’t something you bragged about to the neighbors. I was deemed “sensitive” by my family at an early age; at first that was code for too emotional. Later it had to do with sensing things others missed. I kept this all to myself until I was a teenager and was noticed I was having prophetic dreams. The one that stands out the most is when I dreamt I met Paul McCartney and he asked me for a date. I met him the very next day in Central Park but he was with his new wife Linda, so I guess he couldn’t ask me out in front of her! I shared this story with my family only to find out my grandfather occasionally had “visions”. He was afraid of them so it was a family secret.
ec: So intuition is something we are born with? Like getting your father’s blue eyes or your grandmother’s wide forehead – we are all intuitive souls?
TR: It is something we are all born with and some families who understand it encourage the gift. Most people have no frame of reference for it and discourage it or call it imagination. Ever listen to some of the things kids will tell you? I had a cousin who at the tender age of 5 started telling my aunt stories about her own mom who had died long before she was born. She “knew” about her life growing up in the UK, pet names she called her and other events that occurred. My aunt was amazed and had to acknowledge the accuracy of the information.
ec: Tara, how do we develop our intuition? Are there actual exercises that people can do to sharpen their intuitive skills?
TR: The first thing you need to do is commit to pay attention to the nudges, quiet voice or feelings you receive and acting on them. Intuition is like a muscle that needs exercising and committing to listen for it is the best way to begin. There are many exercise and techniques you can use (many are in the audios on my website) but a daily centering and practicing stillness ritual is critical. You need to “”tame” the monkey mind so to speak to be still so you can hear the guidance of your intuition. Once you have done that you want to start asking your intuition questions every day and then expecting to get an answer. When you expect an answer, you are “tuned in” at some level all the time and open to the guidance.
ec: People who have intuitive hits will say that they had a feeling, they heard a word or a phrase, saw some type of picture pop up in their mind or they just knew. These intuitive hits do have “official” names besides butterflies fighting in the abdomen, hearing the lyrics from a Steely Dan song, a photo of a mountain on fire or being Miss Know It All. Can you please share what they are and it is true that some people pick up their guidance through smell?
TR: There are 4 main ways people receive their intuition and most people have at least two of them operating in their life. They are called the “clairs” meaning clear. There is clairvoyance, clear seeing, clairaudience, clear hearing clairsentience, clear feeling and claircognizance, clear knowing. To give you a little more information clairvoyance is seeing vision, pictures or images both literal and symbolic in your mind and includes prophetic dreams. It is not just seeing full blown 3D visions or dead people! Clairaudience is hearing voices inside or just outside your head and not that kind that require medication! This clair is prevalent in people with musical ears and can include hearing song lyrics that convey a message or a random comment that answers a question you had.
Clairsentience, clear feeling is a very physical form of intuition and includes a gut feeling, goose bumps or butterflies in the tummy. Many people with this clair are empathic which means they are very sensitive to the feelings and energy of those around them. Claircognizance, clear knowing is the most common form of intuition and the easiest to overlook because you “just know” something. Ideas pop in your mind full blown or you get an inspiration or insight out of the blue. Einstein said this was the way his intuition worked.
Two more obscure ones are clairaugustus, clear tasting and clairfragrance, clear smelling. I have never experience the first of these but when my dad, who is deceased comes around I smell smoke. It is his calling card.
ec: Okay, so now we are feeling our intuitive side coming to life, but how do you separate what our heart is telling us vs. what our egos demand?
TR: You know this is the classic struggle we all face. What part of ourselves are we giving power to- our mind or our heart? Your intuition is always positive and leaves you feel expanded with a sense of possibilities. It is supporting, loving and persistent and will address you in the 3rd person. Even when your intuition is warning you of danger it will do so with positive information and action such as: turn left, go faster, or look behind you.
When your ego is giving you “guidance” it is characterized by many things including negativity and fear. It can have a demanding tone and be judgmental. You may feel discouraged or pressure in your chest. It will tell you how you can’t do this or that or remind you of all the times things have not worked out. It is a little tyrant!
ec: What are some ways that people can “set their intentions” when it comes to asking their intuition for answers?
TR: Setting intentions is as simple as focusing on what you want. Remember, we see the things we focus on and not the rest of what is around us. If you don’t believe me try NOT to think about pink elephants for the next 10 seconds. You can’t do it!
I tell students to set their intention to be intuitive all day, ask questions of it and then expect the answers to arrive. Keeping your focus on your intuition allows you to experience it more easily.
ec: What do you think has happened in our society that people are now taking a look at intuition with new eyes? It is amazing to hear people now say that they are tuning into what their intuition has to say. I am hearing that all the time now. Of course, I am asking people and am thrilled to see that intuition is now becoming one of the tools of choice to use when making personal and professional decisions.
TR: It is time I think we have truly entered the Age of Aquarius where people are recognizing that everything is energy. Through movies and the net, people are exposed to these ideas and science has finally caught up. Quantum physics proves that everything has an energetic makeup, our bodies are composed of energy and so are our thoughts and emotions. Once you can work with that concept, intuition is easier to understand. It is about feeling the vibrations and the energy. I am expecting this shift to increase in the next few years and expect to see intuition become as accepted as any other sense. Won’t that be fun?
ec: As an intuitive business coach, do you see things or get feelings about what is going on with your clients? Do you share these intuitive hits with them?
TR: I do get intuitive hits when I am coaching clients, sometimes even in between sessions! I keep track and share them with clients, if it is appropriate to what we are working on, but the key is I have no attachment to being right. If I share an intuitive hit and it does not resonate with the clients, we move on. Coaching, as you know, is about serving the client and what they need in the moment.
ec: Why do you think tapping into our intuition is so important? Couldn’t we do just fine without listening to it? Or are you seeing an acceptance from people who happen to be CEOs, budding entrepreneurs, artists and even other life coaches?
TR: You know many CEOs I know tell me, in confidence, that they are intuitive. It is like having an extra edge on the competition and they have learned to trust their hunches. I believe science is helping intuition become more accepted among the left brained, logical population. Artists and coaches tend to be more creative to begin with and use the right side of the brain where intuition resides.
ec: Alright, so people are ready to start using their intuition as another skill – do you suggest they start off with the small stuff and then work up to the big issues?
TR: You want to start small. You wouldn’t begin an exercise program by going to the gym and lifting 100 pounds! Start by asking questions that are not emotionally charged like who is at the door, how many pieces of mail do I have, what road has less traffic or what task shall I tackle next? If you ask when will I meet my soul mate, chances are you will not get a clear answer this early in the process because you are too attached to the outcome. You can work your way up to more challenging questions after you are clear on how your intuition “speaks” to you.
ec: Tara thanks so much for explaining how intuition can bring more joy, satisfaction and personal and professional growth in our lives. I bet a lot of people may still have more questions. How can people contact you to learn more about becoming friends with their intuitive gifts?
TR: They can visit my website at TaraRoth.com There they can sign up for my bimonthly ezine Intuitive Insights and listen to archives of my radio show Intuitive Living. Or they can email me here. I would love to hear from them.
I heard something very interesting on the radio this morning as I was driving to work. The morning show host had read a study recently that found women today are overall more unhappy than women of past generations. The host was surprised, because (more or less) "with the whole feminist movement and more options we have, how can we be unhappier? It must be divorce."
I am not surprised at the study, actually. And no, I don't agree with divorce being the cause. True, the divorce rate is higher now than in past generations, but how many women then were hopelessly stuck in unhappy marriages? There isn't a stigma attached to being a divorced woman any more. So no, I don't think that is the reason.
I love that the feminist movement has given women so many options for what to do with our lives! We can have successful careers, go to any college we want, raise a family (or not, it's our choice), and do basically whatever we choose! Heck, a woman could even be president and a few generations ago we weren't even allowed to vote.
But - I think this is the root of our unhappiness. Instead of feeling like we have a choice, too many women feel pressured to "do it all" and do it all perfectly. We must go to college, get regular promotions at work, marry, have children, raise those children to be perfect, maintain a spotless home, cook nutritious, organic meals, and look good doing it. We feel this pressure from television, magazines, our families, and ourselves. Out of these, I don't think our families are malicious with the pressure, but want "what is best" for us. But who knows what is best for us more than ourselves? Unfortunately, if other women are like me, we are our biggest critics. The outside influences, on the other hand, don't care about us as individuals and press their own agenda: Buy our product! You MUST breastfeed or you are a bad mother! You MUST NEVER make mistakes in raising your children or you are a bad mother! You MUST be skinny and have your hair done in salons! Do it OUR way! Your way isn't good enough!
We need to stop listening to all the critics! Including our own inner critics. We are human, not superhuman. One woman cannot possibly do it all and do it all perfectly. Something has to give! If we keep trying, it is our health and our own happiness that gets lost in the shuffle. So stop, take a step back, and relax. And breathe.
My new mantra? I am good enough, just the way I am.
26 July, 2009
25 July, 2009
24 July, 2009
Losing my religion for equality
* Jimmy Carter
* July 15, 2009
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.
Pray to God you can cope
I stand outside
This woman's work
This woman's world
Oooh, it's hard on the man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the father
I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left
I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
All the things I should've said that I never said
All the things we should of done that we never did
All the things I should've given but I didn't
Oh darling make it go
Make it go away
Give me them back to me
Give that little kiss
Give me your hand
I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a little strength left
I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a little strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
Of all the things we should've said that were never said
All the things we should've done that we never did
All the things that you needed from me
All the things that that you wanted from me
All the things I should of given but I didn't
Oh darling make it go away
Just make it go away now
21 July, 2009
this is my first injury-sustaining, attorney consulting, my car will be in the shop for longer than two days accident. i'm feeling a bit traumatized.
the first thing i'm traumatized about is my loss of bumper stickers. no, seriously. when the collision and repair guy told me that due to the damage to my rear lift gate (i drive a 2003 Honda Pilot), that they would have to replace the lift gate, and 'i'm sorry, but you're going to lose your bumper stickers.' as if i wasn't crying enough already, well that just pushed me over the edge.
my bumper stickers were placed on my car, post divorce, and were there as an act of independence and defiance for me. my spiritual beliefs are not mainstream, as i am what my friend Rhi calls a 'moon sister'. i don't want to be so shallow as to say that my bumper stickers define who i am, but they are definitely a mark of 'hey, coming through.' one of the first things i'm doing when i get my car out of the shop is replacing my bumper stickers. heck, i may even add a few more.
the second thing i'm traumatized about is that i'm actually injured, and typing this with my left hand. after 3 trips to the emergency room last week, it was determined that i have a bulging disc in my neck, in between C3 and C4.
this is causing a particularly interesting condition called cervical radiculopathy. all of these catchy phrases and terms mean that basically i have a really, really bad pain in my neck, and from that, my right shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and hand are alternatively numb, tingling, tired, weak and painful. Yay, me!
i'm really trying to be a good sport about all of this and take it in stride, but it's really difficult. never having had anywhere close to a chronic pain filled condition, this hurting all the time thing is very, very frustrating. i've striving to remain hopeful and positive. i'm also getting new lessons everyday in how to do things left-handed, as my right hand is basically ineffectual. i'm typing this post left-handed, actually, and even though it's taken me nearly an hour to do it, i'm very happy that i am able to write it.
i am missing certain things though, like being able to pick up my children (i was told no lifting over 10 lbs). like crocheting, which for me is a sort of active mind meditation (and, i have one sock complete. the pair is ready to be finished.) i also can't paint, or write with a pencil and paper (i've always loved the tactile sensation of writing with a pencil and paper.) i'm having some difficulty staying at work and sitting at my desk, as the discomfort it causes, is, well, uncomfortable. the doctor's are making small noises about short-term disability, but for the time being, i'm not listening and just making an attempt to adapt.
on a very happy note, i found these lovely notes of affirmation at Kind Over Matter.
i have lots and lots of lovely ideas of what to do with them, but i may have to employ my dear hubby to cut them all out for me, as i know that is something i'm not even going to attempt to do left handed. what wonderful and amazing thoughts to create and share with the world! to the very talented ladies at Kind Over Matter, kudos!
17 July, 2009
i believe very strongly in grace, gratitude, and forgiveness. i think that carrying around darkness or very strong ill feelings in your heart towards others is just not good for you... that, and it strong messes with your ki, your chi, and whatever form of energy flow you happen to believe in.
so, i think that Friday is a good day, for me anyway, to forgive a few big things, or even the few little things that have led me away from my bliss this week.
1. to the check-in girl at the orthopedic office who was stoic in making every attempt to NOT help me yesterday.... you're young, pregnant, and just following the company line...i forgive you.
2. to my mother, who, no matter how much we can be at each others throats on any given day, is immediately there and available at the first sense she may be needed... i forgive you for always being so negative about things in my life of which you don't approve.
3. to my friend, who, during my most recent crisis, has been notably absent. i forgive you.
4. to myself... i'm way too hard on you, never really giving you an opportunity to either rest or, well do anything. i know nothing you ever do is good enough. i forgive you.
16 July, 2009
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms,
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers.
Thanks to your love a certain fragrance,
risen darkly from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride,
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where "I" does not exist, nor "you,"
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that your eyes close and I fall asleep.
15 July, 2009
send me the gift of a car accident (not my fault), and injure my right hand, so that i can't do anything but sit, and maybe read a little.
i am right-handed, so given the amount of pain and discomfort i have when i use my right hand, i, quite literally, can do not a damn thing while i'm recuperating. i'm even having trouble preparing food while my husband isn't here.
normally, when i have down time, i will paint, or fiddle in the garden, or crochet, and right now, it's uncomfortable to even hold a book, much less do anything else.
so, here i sit, doing nothing. i'm even typing this with my left hand, and it's taking me a fairly long time to hunt and peck with my inferior hand.
quite honestly, i feel like i'm about to just jump right out of my skin. i'm always doing something, finding some way to do something. even when i'm relaxing, my hands are busy.
it seems that the Goddess will handle those things for you that you can't seem to find a way to handle yourself.
a lot of different things that have been going on lately have put me in a spiritual funk, if you will. not necessarily a crisis of faith, but a frustrating cycle of what does all this crap mean? what is going on? did i do something wrong? what is this the karmic retribution for? all of that has been swirling around in my head for weeks now. and then yesterday, i had to take my car into a collision and repair center...
while i was there, i met two very different and very interesting people. the first was a hindu gentleman who studies hindi mysticysm. given that my patroness is Kali-Ma, i enjoyed every minute of the conversation with Mahesh. he offered insight into things i knew of, but told me more and encouraged me to study a little deeper with a little more diligence. the next gentlemen was a hermetic qaballist, and while i don't completely understand all of their beliefs and practices, it was an interesting conversation.
nonetheless, i distinctly felt like it was the universe's way of telling me to not give up, and to not let my current strife wear down my spirituality.
12 July, 2009
Recently, my buddy and I were discussing the benefits of Lysol and its germ killing capabilities during our mundane work day. I don’t use chemical cleaners anymore, and while I’m not positive, I don’t think they do at his house either. But, a mutual friend of ours has had a really long run of incredibly sick kids and now buys Lysol by the vat. My buddy posited (jokingly) that perhaps their children are allergic to Lysol.
Whilst we were chatting (via IM) about this, he googled, well, I’m not sure exactly what phrase he googled, but he came up with this:
Apparently, Lysol was once heralded as a douche.
I’m gonna let that sink in for a moment.
Lysol, the disinfectant spray and cleaner, was once heralded as a feminine hygiene product.
As I sat absolutely slack-jawed at my desk, thinking he’s pulling my leg, he sends yet another interesting piece of anecdotal information.
From wikipedia: In the US, from around 1930 to 1960, vaginal douching with a Lysol disinfectant solution was the most popular form of birth control. US marketing ads printed testimonials from European "doctors" touting its safety and effectiveness. The American Medical Association later investigated these claims. They were unable to locate the cited "experts" and found that Lysol was not effective as a contraceptive.
I’m sorry… WHAT?
Lysol was a popular form of … birth control?
How is it that, (forget possible) plausible?
My brain is literally stuttering as I type this, trying to wrap thought processes around this. It seems absolutely asinine and ludicrous that we, as women, would do this to ourselves, until someone made us stop (ie, the AMA stating that it wasn’t ‘effective as a contraceptive’). Forget that the chemical make-up could probably do some not too nice things to your innermost female workings, but it just wasn’t effective enough as a contraceptive.
Where did our respect for our bodies disappear to? Is this the kind of thinking that has led to the twisting of some of our young minds today? Did our maternal lineage feel so alienated from their womanly selves and so angered, (so threatened!) with their feminine wound that they felt it ok to do such potential damage to themselves? And by correlation, they passed that feminine wound onto each subsequent generation, until it reached us, and in some cases, our daughters.
The idea of the feminine wound is not a new one. As a grown woman, I realized I felt it, hell; I fed it, my entire life. My whole being was centered on being as good as the guys. It was only as an adult that I realized this was society’s problem, not mine. I read Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter”, the first weekend I spent alone after separating from my (now) ex-husband. This book is easily my favorite and most read book, full of underscores, highlighter marks and dog-eared pages. I push it onto any one who might be interested in reading it. All who have read it come away touched in some way (even the guys). In her book, she discusses at great length, the feminine wound and how it affected her. As I read, I cried, because I realized how much of it touched me, and how I had mothered my children (to that point).
The feminine wound is when we, as woman, feel inadequate, just because we are women. We feel lacking and decidedly less than, because we were not born male. It’s why countless women feel compelled to apologize for giving birth to daughters, not sons (as recounted in the first person, by Christiane Northrup in ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’) . Instead of being the best we can personally be, we strive to do it better than the boys. Because, of course, how the boys do it is the only measuring stick that has ever mattered.
But does the depth of that female wound mean that we have to deny who and what we really are, just to satisfy centuries of programming so deep it feels nearly genetic? At what point do we realize that the feminist agenda of our mother’s and grandmother’s may not be entirely on track with our beliefs, but it is much closer than denying our womanhood completely.
One of our first mistakes is trying to be all things to all people, and never being all we can be for ourselves. Believing in the ‘you can have it all’ propaganda has destroyed the womanhood of a generation of women. Yes, maybe we can, but do we really want it all? At what cost does having it all come? Countless women have had the corporate success, only to have familial issues at home because they spend so much time at work. Or, their work is considered mediocre, because they have to care for familial needs.
There is so much damage impressed upon us by ourselves. We beat ourselves up if the cupcakes for Johnny’s class party were purchased at the bakery and not homemade, like the ones that Susie’s mom brought. We have eternal debates over what is better for the child, a stay at home mom, or a mom that works, yet we never ask what is right for the mother. I always find it interesting and sometimes comical that once we become mothers, the life of the mother is then seemingly forfeit. The feelings, the yearnings, the desires, the goals, it all no longer matters. How does taking goals and dreams and desires away to be able to make the right kind of cupcakes make a mother whole and better capable of parenting our next generation of conscientious and contributing adults?
How much of our feminine right is sacrificed at the altar of twisted societal norms?
Women have strength and power and intelligence and natural born intuition. Too often, we stifle all those things so that we can go along to get along. I know I was guilty of that for the majority of my life. I think a lot of us did. For hundreds, if not a thousand, years, women have been disconnected from the true strength of their feminine life. They were led to believe that the very nature of just being a woman made them weak, thereby susceptible to less than virtuous behavior and generally treated as though we were less than intelligent, but a slight step above chattel. Historical and sociological studies prove this time and time again. Our own actions validate those studies on a daily basis.
I’m not stating that things don’t have to be done, that there no obligations we have to meet, but I’m suggesting maybe we choose them with a little more care. Decide what it is that you want from your life, and adjust your involvement and commitments from there. Yes, we all want to raise thoughtful, intelligent, productive, loving, nurturing children, but when they are grown, you are then left with your self and hopefully a life partner. Doesn’t it make sense that you continue to nurture yourself and your own inner growth chart, while nurturing theirs? I firmly believe that ‘empty nest syndrome’ comes from mothers not mothering themselves enough, and feel empty as women when the children are grown. They’ve lost themselves, going into a nurturing debt, if you will, to take care of everyone but themselves.
If you can’t walk away from obligations completely, cut back. If you find your child’s calendar is fuller than yours, most definitely cut back. Experience their childhood with them, not just be the chauffeur for their social and activity calendar. Take long walks, take art classes with them, or just finger paint on the dining room table. If you really don’t want to be team mom this year for (insert sport here), don’t. Taking license with one of my favorite Richard Bach quotes, ‘Argue your limitations (and obligations) and sure enough, they are yours.’ The point I’m trying to make is this… know and honor you. If you feel overtaxed and over committed, you probably are. Take, no make, the time to find your feminine wound and allow it to heal.
You are a beautiful, magnificent, powerful woman.
Do what feels good, laugh more, smile more, and for Goddess sake, put away the Lysol.
(Oh, and for the record, I throw and run like a girl and am damn proud of it.)
Let me clarify.I have no control over anyone but myself.Of course, you say, we all know that.We all know that none of us have any control over anyone but ourselves.And to that I’d say, well yes, you, we, are all consciously aware of it, but how many of us actually know it?
Not too many.
For those of you who are familiar with my blog, you are aware, more or less, with the journey that I’ve been on for the last several years.My life has been a series of lessons, of trials and tribulations if you will, through which I believe the universe has been guiding me ever closer to the source of my purpose.
Part of that journey has been a series of releases.Release. Letting go. Pruning.Call it what you will, but it’s been an ongoing process of studying and surveying what is important and why it is important.Getting to the bottom of what really matters and why.And in getting to the bottom of what is truly and essentially important in my life and leaving the superfluous by the wayside.
In the process of survey, question and release, there are items that come to the forefront that require additional thought and processing.This ‘should’ be important by society’s standards, but isn’t important to me… why?Why do I allow this person or this situation to continually vex me?What part in that continued frustration do I allow myself to, either consciously or subconsciously, play?
At what point is it okay to let go of anything that isn’t beneficial or fulfilling?How brave or courageous do we have to be to not only let go of those issues, but also of other people’s expectations of us in any given scenario?
How hard is it to relinquish the control that others attempt to have over us and be our authentic selves?
Buddhists have a philosophy/theory that Westerners refer to as practiced detachment.While going through my divorce, I became quite the student of practiced detachment, as it allowed me to deal with my now ex-husband without completely losing my mind.In the process of learning to cope with him on my own, through detachment, I also found a strong well of compassion for him, and for myself.I began to see how little control I had over anything outside of my own physical body and mind, and how much control he was trying to exert over our small situation.
You might ask how detachment and compassion can even be related.I certainly did.How can I feel compassion for this man who could make me cry with one glance, and yet, after much practice, detach myself from situations involving him in an instant, allowing me to think rationally and calmly?Doesn’t detachment infer some level of lack of compassion?No.Not at all.Studied detachment, which differs greatly from aloofness, allows you to take a step back, so to speak, to look at the situation/person/whatever, without emotional/mental issues that can cloud the judgment: possessiveness, defensiveness, jealousy, and passive aggressive behaviors, just to name a few.
What I began to see was that nothing I could ever do would have any effect on this man.
I had no control.
It was an earth-shattering revelation for me.Whaddya mean I have no control?I’m intelligent, witty and can argue anything with anyone.Yes, that’s all fine and good, but I still have no control.Nothing I do, NOTHING I could ever do, in attempting to control this man, or this situation, will ever work.
It was maddening, frightening, and yet utterly and completely liberating.
I sat back and pondered, why was I arguing to win?Win what? The marriage was already over; there was no value to proving a point other than fighting to be right.But…at what cost did I want to be right?
So, I stopped trying to swim upstream. What does that mean?I didn’t know at the time, I just knew that I didn’t want to fight anymore.I didn’t want to feel anger and resentment and hostility, towards anyone.I had had enough.Just because I knew I could be right, didn’t mean that I should be right, or that being right was worth the cost I had to pay.I was bone-weary of feeling what I thought was righteous and justifiable anger and resentment, but then feeling beat all to hell and back after proving my point of being right.
The only person I had control over was myself, and I made the conscious choice to not continue to swim upstream.Please don’t misunderstand, there were other control issues in my life.For the majority of my life, I lived life on someone else’s terms, living up to other’s expectations.When I started having these self-realizations about compassion and control and detachment and a million other things, I truly started seeing everyone, everything in my life in a different light. Others would try and tell me what they felt I was doing wrong, based on societal views, or lifelong views or their own personal expectations of me.
Quite simply, I didn’t want to hear it anymore.
It took a long time for me to both consciously understand and realize that I can be my highest, best self, and do it the way that I want to do it.I don’t have to follow anyone else’s conventions or theories to get there.I have to be still and listen.In the silence that follows, I have to actually hear my heart.In actually listening to my heart speak, I have to allow my intuition room to breathe and react and l have to listen to it as well.
For me, right now, in this moment, it’s all about not swimming upstream anymore.There’s a larger, metaphysical lesson I could go into here about vibrational energy and the laws of attraction and source energy, but I won’t.You can learn more about vibrational source energy and the laws of attraction, here.( I will briefly add this disclaimer.. it you are new to metaphysics, this all could sound a little weird, but if you give it a chance, it will probably make sense to you). Short version is this, when you consciously want something, when you positively affirm it in your continued thoughts on the subject, the universe/source energy hears you. When it hears you, it begins to actively work to give to you that which you want most.However, more often than not, we are the largest impediment to getting to where we want to be.We, most of us anyway, live life on someone else’s terms. We fight, upstream, to get where we are ‘supposed’ to go. To where other’s have told us we are meant to be.
Have you ever felt unhappy or beat up, or wondering why you are doing what you’re doing?Wondering to what end you continue to trudge in what has become the daily direction of your life?That’s what swimming upstream feels like.
When I stopped fighting upstream, against my natural current, I didn’t do anything drastic.I didn’t start immediately swimming downstream.I just let go of the fight.I relinquished control over those things/people/situations I can’t control, namely, everything and everyone outside of my physical mind/body.I still go to work, but I don’t stress over the people and situations that use to drive me batty. I still pay my bills, but I don’t stress over what I can’t pay.I can only do what I can do. I still parent my children, but I also am aware that, especially for my older kids, their path is their own.Outside of a guiding hand and love and compassion, they are on their own journey and as such, are out of my control.
What I’m finding, as I am guided downstream, is that life is easier.I’m living a more gentle life and as such, I’m happier.Life isn’t such a fight all the time.I’m being guided, when I listen, towards those things that truly make my heart and my soul, sing.I’m more in my element and able to stay a step removed from drama and doubt and worry. I see it, I acknowledge those situations for what they are, but I do my best to not consciously engage in the drama and the doubt and the worry.Why? Because I have no control over any of it, outside of my own self and my own actions. I can only control my responses to any given stimuli.
I’m still not actively swimming downstream. I’m going with the flow, if you will. I let go.And my life is still moving along at a fairly rapid pace, only this time, it’s moving more in the direction of my vibrational energy.As such, I get through my days feeling a hell of a lot less beat up.
And you know what?It feels kinda good to have no control…
it’s raining today. and it’s chilly. but i don’t mind. i have the door to my screened porch open, and i’m sitting in my kitchen, writing this. i can hear the rain falling on the roof. the soft sounds of it hitting leaves and branches and falling on the earth. i have the sound of benedictine monks chanting, coming from my beloved iTunes. i have a mug of green tea, with plenty of agave and lemon, and i couldn’t be happier.
the love of my life is here, my kids are asleep, i have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a job, and people who love and care for me. i have people i love and care for.
i am grateful.
i am humbled.
i am alive.
i was outside this morning, before the dawn, standing barefoot in the rain. i could feel the Mother’s touch in every drop. Her blessing and restoration pouring over me. the cold, wet earth beneath my feet was soggy, and soft, giving way with every step.
i am grateful.
i am humbled.
i am alive.
as i stood underneath the great oak tree in my back yard, in the rain, in his arms, under the darkness of the new moon, it felt very much a sacred space. not to be intruded upon by the likes of mere reality. his eyes, staring at me in a way that makes my knees go weak and my heart beat a little faster. his hand, that hold me up when i’m most weak. this soul, intertwined with mine...
i am grateful.
i am humbled.
i am alive.
there aren’t sufficient words, not in my vocabulary, to describe today. things are slowly beginning to come full circle. there is a peace and a hope that haven’t been there for a while. in the words of Ellie Arroway...’Some celestial event. No - no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should've sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful... I had no idea. ‘
i am grateful.
i am humbled.i am alive.
~indie arie – Testimony
16 years ago, standing in front of a high school, waiting, there was a brief conversation. It was a Beta Club meeting, or something like that, a chance encounter, nothing more. He was bound for West Point, always in a uniform, and she was ever the cheerleader, bound for college and sorority life. They didn’t travel in the same social circles.
He never finished West Point. She didn’t finish college (well, the first time). Life took them both in unintended directions.
But the conversation was remembered.
Fast foward 16 years. An email or two (Thank you Facebook) turns into ‘Can i have your number?’.
The first call, lasting nearly 3 hours, turns into a nightly routine. There are no boundaries, no limitations, nothing but freedom and joy... and laughter.
there was a rush decision to meet.. to see if the spark felt over the phone was really real. (Cause it really felt that surreal, as thought the faintest whiff of reality would take it all away.).
As soon as their eyes met, they both knew. An electric surge that intense couldn’t be anything other than real. His south to her north. Even now, she feels the flutter in her chest, remembering the intensity of his gaze.
From the very first time i rest my eyes on you, boy, my heart said ‘ follow through’.
Vowing to take it day by day, to over come the distance and the obstacles, they part. Painfully, excruciatingly, as though the soul connection they felt was being ripped by the very fibers making it up.
The next week passes more slowly than any in history, as they both wait for the time when they can see each other again. He’s up before the sun, driving to her. She’s up early in anticipation of his arrival. The day is their’s and never are they more than arm’s length apart. Laughter, and deep conversation, Indian food, coffee, and a museum. Her arm in the crook of his elbow, as though he’s escorting her, they walk through the museum. His free hand covers her hand on his elbow, and staring into her eyes, he speaks of neverending devotion, love, and a life together.
He speaks of planting a seed that will become their life, growing as an oak tree would. An oak tree that in time will provide them shade to sit under, and, in the joy of their years together, a remembrance of their life, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
In truth, he says it best when he says nothing at all. She knows, just from the intensity of his stare... the way his eyes can look into hers and never waiver... the pounding of his heart that she can feel when they are close... the way his hand tightly closes around hers when he speaks.
Parting was still as painful as before. But, there’s some solace behind it, as they now have each other. This ... this is real. This is the stuff fairy tales are made of.
He bears it better than she does, the distance between them, as he’s the strong one.
He’s the strong one.
Wow. She’s always had to be the strong one. This is new, and to a degree, she doesn’t quite know how to deal with it. When you’re used to carrying the weight of the world, and when most of the people in your life happily let you do it, how do you willingly let that burden pass to someone else?How do you allow someone to share in that weight?
How hard is it to just let go? How much courage must she have to allow this wonderful man into her life, letting him be the man in her life? He truly can be the stereotypical tough/tender man, when he needs to be. The burning question to her is this:
Can she... will she let him?
Never having been one to stand on typical gender roles, she’s not afraid of opening her own doors and doesn’t expect any man to stand when she enters a room. But he does both. Of his own accord. Without being sarcastic about it. He truly, genuinely respects her enough and is that much of a southern gentleman.
She can’t help but wait for the other shoe to drop. No, he’s not perfect. There are many obstacles to overcome, on both sides of the equation. At the root of all, he’s honest, and real, and solid. The rest of the games and issues and problems that have existed in the past, just aren’t there anymore.
The differences are many, but so are the similarities. Even the differences find similar truths, at their root. Their expressions are the same, their thought processes similar. The silence, when there is silence, is perhaps the most comfortable silence she’s ever felt.
She questions her courage, to love him, just as he is. Just as he loves her. Letting go of her fear of being hurt, letting go of the past and the past hurts is proving difficult for her. She finds herself taking many, many deep breaths every day, meditating more and more just to find that calm center. Just being, well, that just became a helluva lot more difficult.
Does she have the courage to not question? Does she have the courage to just accept?
Her day runs at 90 miles an hour, every day. She’s a fixer, a problem solver. Give her the problem and often she’ll give you the solution, whether you want it or not. Now she has a problem that only time can fix. She has to let go of her fear, of her pain, of her resolution to never let another man hold sway on her heart. She’s so tired of hanging onto every day, of having to dig ever deeper into that seemingly bottomless fountain of resolve that she has to dig into every day. She’s so afraid to let go of hope and just believe, convinced her heart can’t handle another breaking.
His pace is much slower, taking each step as it comes. Savoring the moments as they are, thankful for each and every one. He’s patient, and thoughtful.. steady.
Her logical mind tries to desperately reign in her heart... but it’s already gone.
And therein lies the issue. When the heart knows the truth, how do you convince the mind that all is well? That there is nothing to fear?
Her subconscious screams that patience is the way. Her heart already knows what her mind needs to wrap itself around. This is real. This isn’t going to go away.
If he hurts her.. he’ll make it right. She has no doubt of that.
The tears on her pillow are now from laughter, brought on by late night conversations, twisted inside jokes, or joy.
The distance between them will not always be there. Her mantra of late is that distance is a temporary variable.
Slowly, she’s starting to realize that maybe the other shoe isn’t going to drop, because both feet are already firmly planted on the ground.
i’m going to be rather quiet this week. my grandmother died.
no, it’s okay. i’m sad, but not cripplingly so. before you think ill of me, let me explain.
my grandmother was not an easy woman to love. she married and divorced multiple times. she complained about everything under the sun. she was not, by modern standards, a good mother. if my dad was around, i’d tell you to ask him. whenever she called our home, when i was a child, he was always ‘busy’, so as to never have to talk to her.
she was gossipy, and judgemental, and downright crotchety at times.
she was grandma.
and now she’s gone.
if i’m painfully honest, i haven’t spoken to her in over 2 years. we had a falling out over her rendition of my father’s passing; her idea that the pain she felt was the only pain that existed. that some how, everyone else’s pain was negated by hers. i don’t stomach melodrama well, even my own, and certainly not anyone else’s. so, i just stopped talking to her, rather than hurt her feelings.
i realized today when my mother called to tell me, that she didn’t even know i was now divorced. well, at least she’d not heard it from me.
and that thought made me very, very sad.
i know better than this. even if she was so lost in her own heartbreak and sorrow, and regrets in her life that she couldn’t see past any of it, i could. and i didn’t.
it was easier to NOT say anything, to just let the sore fester and slap a bandage on it, pretending it healed. it was easier to take the disapproving lecture from my great aunt when she realized i hadn’t spoken to grandma in ‘how long????’, than to pick up the phone and call. to hear my step-grandfather’s disapproving tone on the other end of the line, simply because it had been so long since the last time i called.
and now it doesn’t matter.
i can tell you of endless summers on james island, just outside of charleston. i can tell you of learning to surf on folly beach, and the guy, ‘Buddha’, who made my first surfboard. i can tell you of learning to swim in grandma’s pool. i can tell you of the horror of hurricane hugo. and the horror of her cooking. she had a baby grand piano, and couldn’t play it, but damn it looked nice in her living room.
i can recount endless tales she told of growing up poor in southern georgia, and watching her dance around memaw and big papa’s house at the holidays. i can tell you how she taught me how to play canasta, and how she couldn’t stand the catawba worms my big papa ‘grew’ for bait in the back yard. i can tell you of hours spent watching her put on jewelry, and playing in her jewelry box.
i can tell you of endless hospital visits, never knowing when that would be the last visit. i can tell you of pill cases and bottles and medicine reminders. i can tell you of worry and pain and sorrow.
but i can also tell you that i know nothing of her as a woman. not as i know the other women in my life. i don’t know why she married and remarried as often as she did. i don’t know about her deepest, truest love. i don’t know her favorite color. or her favorite scent, or if her horribly fat ill-mannered dogs are still around.
there are so many things that i don’t know, or have forgotten.
and now i’ll never get the chance.
no, she wasn’t my favorite person in the last few years. but now i’ll never get the chance to say all the things i wanted to say to her, to tell her. that no, grandma, i don’t have to marry a doctor or a lawyer to be successful. to tell her, that i understand, i think, her pain.
i’ll never be able to write the eulogy for her that i always wanted to.
and that breaks my heart.
i have to rant about this, it’s driving me crazy.
I am a woman of some physical substance, i’ll freely admit to that. but in that vein, i’m also very (very) curvy.
which is all fine and good. i’m beginning to learn to enjoy my womanly virtues, yes, even at my size, they can be considered virtues, while still working on improving my health.
i’ll even admit to owning a few bewb shirts, as they were so eloquently called in ‘must love dogs’.
but damn, really, just because i’m wearing one (aforementioned bewb shirt), does NOT give you the right to spend our entire conversation with your eyes bolted to my decolletage.
i find that this happens in conversations at work, at kids sporting events, anywhere where i’m wearing anything other than a t-shirt.
i’ve just about had enough. i spent an entire meeting today with two sets of eyes rapidly flitting just below the horizon and back again. a few weeks ago, my new boss came to my desk and while i was sitting and he was standing, the entire farging conversation was spent with me vacilating between, ‘do i laugh at his obvious staring’ and ‘ ohmigawd, i can’t believe he’s so openly doing that’. i wimped out and didn’t say anything, feeling all the more sleezy. before i go on, let me just clarify that this very obviously just isn’t about me. how many of us have had to watch your conversational counterparts eyes drift downward and stop, ever so delicately 6 inches below your neck, and then very rapidly move back to your eyes, only to act as though nothing happened. you can be honest, i know it’s happened to you, too. I have a very, very cute co-worker who can be downright sexy when she wants to be. she is also incredibly, fantabulously good at her job. but you can see the eyes of other co-workers looking her up and down when she walks by. it’s damn near infuriating, to me anyway.
why do guys think that this is ok? worse even, why do they think we are so dense that we either can’t see it or won’t say anything? (well, i didn’t say anything, but you get my point, right?)as brave as I pretend to be, I can’t even begin to imagine what to actually say to a co-worker or an acquaintance ogling the goodies. (if you have suggestions, lemme know, puhlease.)
really. do you think we can’t see that? honestly? like all women haven’t had to spend their lives dealing with being objectified to the point that we all recognize that look when we see it. and boys, yes, we do see it. we do, in fact, notice when you start mouth breathing, go all slack-jawed and the vacuous stare encroaches upon your whole face, nay, your entire being. shocking, i know, but the small portion of our brains that can function independently of our bewbs can actually reason and... AND put 2 and 2 together.
part of me wants to say, seriously guys, i’ve nursed 5 kids. without a good bra, the girls head south for the winter.even in the summer. keep it moving, nothing to see here, nothing to see.
is the fascination with breasts so great that they can’t even stop staring, right in the face of the object of their pseudo-affection? at what point it is not okay to ogle a woman in public? at what point does the respect of a job well done replace the desire to barely contain the drool collecting at the corner of your lip?
don’t get me wrong, i don’t mind when someone respectfully admires me. i think the female form is incredibly beautiful. there’s an art to the way it moves. but please, please, for all that is sacred and holy in the world, it is NOT okay to gawk at any woman over coffee in the break room. at the very least, if you’re gonna gawk, please make an attempt at being artful and discreet.
at what point must we sacrifice femininity to protect the girls from the scandalous glances we may or may not receive depending on the day’s attire? is a burqa the new black? must we have sister mary francis approve our clothing and give us an 18-inch ruler for personal space measurements before we leave the house anymore? maybe i’m just missing the boat and it’s de rigueur to be openly transfixed by the sight of a woman’s bosom.
i’m seriously to the point of attempting to flex my seemingly alluring pectorals, one after the other, like bodybuilders do, the next time i catch someone’s gaze drifting south of my hazel peepers.
All I could think was that there shouldn’t be silence. Why is there silence? All you could hear the rustle and whisper of cloth as the people in the room made inadvertent movements.
Suddenly the room was filled with a chaotic flurry of movement and noise, but it still sounded like silence to me.
She wasn’t crying. If she wasn’t crying, that meant she wasn’t breathing. Oh God, help me, she’s not breathing.
I lay there, helpless, so scared I wasn’t breathing anymore. He stood there, torn, between staying with me, or going with her. I still remember his face, the sheer panic. We were so young, I was barely 20 and he’d be 22 soon. Kids. Scared kids.
I screamed so loudly at him, to go, to go to her, that I think I scared the midwife and nurses. And then he was gone. they were gone.I remember sitting there, afraid to move to breath. I couldn’t pray hard enough or fast enough. I don’t remember rational thought.
i didn’t get to see her. to hold her.
This was 14 years ago today. Zoe was born and changed my life forever.
Her dad and I weren’t married when she was born. We were young and stupid, barely aware of who we were individually, much less as a couple. We’d only been dating a few months when I got pregnant. We moved in together, into a crummy little basement apartment in midtown Atlanta. It was before the Olympics and ensuing glut of reconstruction came to town. Meaning, broke college students could actually afford to live in midtown then. It was a one bedroom, with a kitchen barely big enough for the cockroaches. But it was ours.
We were both in the Greek system at school, and so on the night we finally went into labor, the waiting room was packed full to brimming with cigar smoking, whisky swilling frat boys, and giggly sorority girls. Actually, there were more frat guys there than sorority girls. The girls, by and large, stood in stoic judgment over me for getting pregnant, with more than one advising me to abort the baby. The frat boys.. well, they were just happy for us. Life was such a celebration to them, and to this day, every one of those men holds a special place in my heart. No child could be blessed with better uncles.
it was hours before they let me see her. they’re afraid she’s not gonna make it. my first glimpse of my first born was of a scrawny little baby, laying in an incubator, tubes and wires attached to her feet, her arms, down her throat and her nose. if he hadn’t been there holding me up, i would have collapsed. this is my child. God help me.
i was afraid to touch her. she looked so... fragile. it was surreal. she didn’t move. i still hadn’t heard her cry.
i finally screwed up the courage to sit down next to her and i touched her hand, and honey, momma’s here. her heart rate jumped. she moved. she’s alive. he and i stayed as long as they’d let us, eventually shooing us out so that she could rest.
overnight, she pulled out her own oxygen line, and she never looked back. 8 days and one heart monitor later, they let her go home.
she’s 14 now, and the oldest of 5 kids. after leaving the hospital that day, she’s never been back. (knock on wood), she’s never needed stitches or surgeries, and just got her first ear infection this past summer. she’s got a pain tolerance that would make most grown men wither.
(the long haired one on top is her... look at her biceps!!!)
the child is fearless. no, really. not in a reckless kinda way, but fearless as in nothing, and i mean NOTHING ever holds her back. she, quite literally, lives life at full speed and never apologizes for who she is.
she never meets a stranger and has friends far and wide. she excels at making you comfortable the minute you meet her. her laugh is infectious. it’s loud, and sometimes a little obnoxious (especially at midnight when you’re ‘bout ready to crash and she’s just gearing up), but it’s deep and full and hearty. and real.
she’ll tell you straight off that’s she’s a member of the nerd herd (her words, not mine). she’d rather be smart than popular, but she’s both. things just come to her. hell, 4 years ago while i was working on statistics homework, she came by and said, ‘oh, the answer is blah de blah.’ and damned if she wasn’t right. she loves her friends deeply and her family intensely.
she’s strong in ways i could never imagine at 14. carries herself with an honest way, but sees the world more for what it is than i ever could, up until a few years ago. she has grace and (thinks) she has style. she’s into skinny jeans and converse and gawd help me, she has an affinity for a purple lace glove, only one hand. and she’s starting to garner second glances.
i want her to grow up wise, not naive, but not too fast. i’m not naive enough myself to think that in this day and age she’s going to make it through high school without experiencing things, but i don’t want it to happen too soon, or too fast. she wants to go to Stanford, and i don’t want to send her away, into the big wide world too innocent. there are too many wolves out there that will eat her up. ‘and then the lion fell in love with the lamb’ is a nice story, but we all know the lion usually eats the lamb.
she’s an athlete, a state and national champion in wrestling and she practices ju jitsu and muay thai. she plays soccer, as well. she has Olympic aspirations in wrestling (which scares the hell out of me, but makes me incredibly proud at the same time). her dad works out with her in the garage, and i swear when she and i are playing around and she locks up with me, it hurts. i’ve seen stars more than once and she’s still laughing. off the mat, she’s as clumsy as they come, but on the mat, when she’s practicing or competing, she moves with the grace of a prima ballerina. (and i swear, if she read that comparison, i’d be dead).
she plays the violin, and the piano, and is learning the guitar. she makes jewelry. real, honest-to-gawd chandellier earrings that i wear everyday. she reads voraciously and can even cook, almost better than me (which granted, isn’t saying a whole lot).
(she doctored this image)
she’s my friend. and no, i’m not the kind of parent that wants to be friends with her kids. i do believe in that particular separation of church and state. but in the last year or so, i find that i like her as a person... a lot. we sit up late, when everyone else is in bed, watching sappy chick flicks, laughing and crying together. i taught her to crochet, and she’s teaching me to knit. she helps with the math homework that i can’t do. she enjoys a medium rare thick cut steak, but weeps at the sight of needless and disrespectful taxidermy. she’s an anachronism and a juxtaposition rolled into a cream puff.
i remember when her dad and i were separated, the weekend that i decided the kids and i had to move what she did for me. he had moved out, albeit temporarily, and was threatening to come home. i was at an orchestra competition with her, and my mom was at home with the rest of the kids, when i got the call from dad. waiting for a break in rehearsal, i told her what was going on and that i was going home so i could send her grandmother back up to be with her. i needed to figure out what was going on. she started to leave with me, saying she needed to be with me. i made her go back inside to finish the day. when she got home that evening with my mother, and i had already found the house and signed the papers. she took one look at the paper work and said, ‘where are the boxes?’, and set about packing. i swear to you, i packed my bedroom. she did most of the rest of it. wouldn’t let me touch a damn thing. maybe the fact that i could barely contain my tears had something to do with it, but nonetheless, it’s indicative of her strength.
she has the spirit of a warrior, this one. i don’t know why she chose to be be born to me and her father, when arguably, we have more to learn from her than we could ever teach her.
she’s my light, my heart. my angel in black converse. my ferocious kitten.
i read a blog last week that has stayed with me since reading it.
Swirly Girl’s Blog
it speaks of grace and gratitude and makes mention of the personifications of grace and gratitude.
there are several different definitions of grace, applicable in a multitude of scenarios.
the one that i feel particularly pulled to is:
a manifestation of favor
now, that favor doesn’t have to be granted by the Divine, it can come from another person. (although in some faith belief systems, we all carry the very nature of Divine love within us, so i guess that means it could come from the Divine... but i digress). grace can come from an unexpected smile, or a random act of kindness.
it could be a seemingly small act that reverberates through not only the person granted that grace, but through to the other’s affected by that grace.
grace, to me, also means wisdom. with wisdom, i think we are able to allow more grace to come into our lives, and by the same token, grant more grace to those we come into contact with. the fiery tempers of our youth can pass and the temperance of time and patience allow us to act more judiciously. to know where that junction of heart/mind/gut instinct resides within us, and to know when to follow that juncture through to its logical end.
i think that a lesson we sometimes either fail to learn, or fail to acknowledge is that grace can also mean knowledge. i’m thinking very specifically of the knowing one receives through time and experience; the knowing of what is truly important, and what isn’t.
grace can also be a countenance. if you carry yourself with grace, full of the knowledge and wisdom, and the ability to act in the manner of kindnesses that have been granted to you over time, you will notice a change in yourself. in finding that spirit of peace in that juncture of heart/mind/gut, when you’ve attuned yourself with yourself, there is just...
gratitude can be defined as:
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful
gratitude can be quiet, or it can be an all-encompassing soul wrenching affair. gratitude is just being thankful, something i know i don’t acknowledge nearly enough. being thankful for the dawn, being thankful for the simple things, being thankful for the grace that’s been shown me or others that i love.
we take so many things for granted in our day to day, not being thankful or even appreciative. more often than not, we are resentful of what’s not in our life, of what we’re missing, instead of having the grace to show our gratitude.
sometimes gratitude just needs to be verbalized. other times, it needs to be reciprocated. still others, exhibiting gratitude means acknowledging and learning a life lesson.
more often than not, grace and gratitude go hand in hand. we just need to find that juncture and join those hands.
I was at the beach last week, for thanksgiving.
I needed an escape, a sojourn for solitude.
I found it.
It was a beachfront hotel, with a room (and private balcony) facing the beach.As soon as I walked in, I dropped my bags and walked straight to the balcony, opening the door.The breeze immediately washed over me, the sound of the surf filled the room, and my ears, my heart, really, my very being.The seagulls squawking incessantly only added to nature’s narrative.
That door stayed open the entire time I was there.Even at night.My every moment was imbued with the sound of the pounding surf. Awake, asleep, there was always the surf. I only left the hotel property once, and that was because I ran out of Coke and beer. (don’t laugh).And even then, I ran to the corner store with the car windows and sunroof open, and had the surf with me the whole time. The sound of the surf was the physical reverberation of my spiritual side. Have you ever participated in guided meditation, with a drum in the background, helping you to focus on something other than your active mind? That is what this was like.The constant thrumming of the surf was ever present, ever ready to keep my mind focused on something other than active worries. Quieting and steady, the unending pattern of thump, whoosh, and then recession, thump, whoosh, recession, was a balm.
You might wonder why I had the door open the whole time.I’ve spent a lot of time pondering it on my return, as it wasn’t a conscious decision.I didn’t plan on going down there and leaving the door open for 4 days. On one level, it just felt right.the weather, outside of some rain on Saturday, was phenomenal and warm, so it hurt nothing to leave the door open.I went down with a cold and am attributing the balmy sea air with taking care of said cold before I returned back to Atlanta and the flurries (where of course, amongst cubicle hell and the office of sickos, I will pick up the first cousin my dearly departed cold within a few days).
On an unconscious level, I think it was about a physical manifestation of opening other doors, mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and allowing things to both come in and leave. I’ve discussed, ad-nauseum, the issues with my life for the last couple of years.I’ll spare you the rehashing and suffice it to say, it’s been a rough coupla years.But, as my own spiritual studies have increased both in knowledge and in frequency, and my knowledge of self is ever expanding, I know that things will get better.But, the clutter of my reality weighs on me at times, and as much as I’d love to live up in the ether, my wordly tethers remind me of issues to be dealt with, both other people’s and my own.I’d really like to just take my own issues out, like you do the garbage.Bag it up and just sit in on the curb. That’s part of what this weekend was for me.Having that door open for change, reminding myself that the door is there for me to walk through (and dropping the trash off on the curb on my way out said door).
Have you ever reached a point where you just want to go through your life, much like you might go throw a junk drawer, and pick and choose what you want to keep, what you want to get rid of, and just clean house? I find that I’m in constantly in that state of reassessment.Ever changing, ever growing, and constantly taking out the trash. I’m a little afraid to see what my emotional/mental/spiritual carbon footprint must look like. Eep.
Anyway, back to the balcony door… once there, after keeping it open, it felt like sacrilege to close it.Like I’d be cutting myself off from something, although I’m not quite sure what. My ethereal connection to the Mother. My connection to myself.I was loathe to close it, even when I slept.I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf, and the smell of the sea breeze.When I woke in the middle of the night, that door, that connection was still open, and the sound rocked me back to sleep.For the first time in a long time, the sound of silence (even though the sea isn’t silence, the constancy of the surf became as much a part of me as breathing) wasn’t disconcerting.I didn’t need music or the tv or the blackberry chirping.I could just be.Keeping that door open allowed me to maintain that connection to the me that could be.
Peaceful, centered, full in the silence.
The discontinuity of that statement is shocking to me as I sit here typing this. In my other life, the one before the divorce, in fact, my entire life before the divorce, I was never… soft. The oldest daughter of man’s man, with two younger brothers, I didn’t do soft.Yes, I did beauty pageants. Yes, I was a cheerleader.I did those things to fulfill a need for what I supposed to do, what I was expected to be.I stop short of saying I had a lust for violence, but that’s part of what drew me to wrestling.The power and beauty incarnate in a wrestling match, was like a ballet to me. The artistry of movement, the strength and skill inherent to be able to move and conquer and vanquish, just awed me. I loved boxing, and martial arts, and mixed-martial arts. I came to college, joined a sorority and worked out with the wrestling team. Cheering when one of my kids (meaning, one of the wrestlers I knew, what I used to call my children by-proxy) broke someone’s nose, well, I saw no problem with that.The ferocious intensity that I applauded in my own brood, was disjointed from the meek way in which I lived my life at home, as I couldn’t be intense. I wasn’t allowed to be other than what was expected from me, by either my parent’s or my (then) husband.I was the mom in psychedelic tights, a ‘shit happens in all religions’ t-shirt, and combat boots. When I drank, it was tequila, straight. I loved fiercely and intensely and my beliefs were never meek or up for discussion. My outward presentation was hard-core, but inwardly, I knew I was a coward, because of how cowed I felt at home. I can’t go back and completely analyze where I was then, but I think it had something to do with protecting myself. By projecting strength, maybe I would feel a strength I didn’t really have.
Over the past year, maybe longer, I’ve had issue with letting go of the ‘strength’, or at least the outward display of it. But the longer I’m on my own, the more I learn about myself, the more it doesn’t fit anymore.I don’t watch UFC as much as I used too, and I find I’m nurturing the creative side with my Herd, more than the athletic. And I’m having SUCH a problem it. With letting go.It feels right, but it also feels like I’m watching me from some other place. I’ve had more than one meaningful person in my life, those that I’ve let past the outer core, tell me that I’m full of shit, that I’m much more mushy on the inside than I ever let on, and that I don’t always have to be as strong as I try to make everyone think that I am. And I know that they are right. I know, in my core, that it’s time to let go of that and grow in a new direction.But how do you let go of an identity that’s been a part of you for so long? I don’t know how to be any other way, and even if continuing to be this way is dishonest, it’s comfortable and I’m scared to death to be any other way.
But that door, that balcony door, felt like a real doorway to me, not just out to the balcony, but maybe to the me that I need to be going forward.I have a new friend, let’s call her Z, whom I met through Red (my tarot reading, metaphysical friend). Z is psychic, although, I don’t think she would call herself that.She can hear her spirit guides.Guardian angels, spirit guides, both more or less are the same thing.So, anyway, when we all got together a couple weeks ago, she was there and we were talking about things and she was telling me about my spirit guides, and how right now, I have two. One, the one that’s been with me the longest, is male, and that he’s been with me most of my life, but that it’s time for him to move on to someone else.The newer one, is female, and she says is representative of the feminine side of me that needs to come forth.The side that I’ve been most out of touch with.
So, pondering that, I’m brought back to the balcony door. I kept it open, the whole weekend. Did I feel the need to keep it open so that I could better connect to the me on the other side? (not ‘that’ other side, but the possibility of a more feminine me)? Was I hoping that clarity would fly in and alight on the balcony railing? I don’t know. But I do know that the more I allow myself to be open to that possibility, of growing as a woman, the more right it feels.The more I kept the physical door open, the emotional door was open as well. When I was sitting in the tide pool puddles, letting the waves wash away my worries, the door was open.When I was sleeping, dreaming astral dreams of far-away lands, the door was open. When I was just sitting, reading, or crocheting or meditating, the door was open. Every so often, I felt a pull to walk through the doorway, and look out.And more often than not, I found a cloud formation, the sun glinting off the water, a happy child playing, something that delighted my soul.
When I left, yesterday morning, I loaded the car, with the door opened.I came back to the room, before checking out, and walked through the door.I stood on the balcony, straining to take every nuance into my memory to take back home with me.When I subsequently felt rooted to the balcony, I knew it was time to go.I walked back into the room, and I closed the door. When I crossed the threshold back into the room, I left my emotional/mental/spiritual garbage at the curb on the other side. And honest to goodness, I cried.I stood there, in that room, and I bawled like a baby.It was almost a physical loss. It was that palpable.I don’t know if it was tears because I had found a sense of peace that I hadn’t found in years (and thus, didn’t want to leave it), or it was fear of not being able to execute the change in me that I know I should. I don’t know what it was.But I stood there and grieved; closing the door was a loss.
In that loss, though, is an opportunity. All I have to do is reopen that door, here, in this reality, and walk through it.