Re-collect, Re-member, Re-create, Revive!

Sometimes we need to look back in order to move forward.

Sometimes, we need to re-collect the experiences of our past, pull them back together, re-member them—by pulling the often cast-off parts back toward the center. If we can do this, with the goal of assembling our life’s narrative, ordering it like plot points in a novel or film, it can give us some perspective. Perspective can help us to identify patterns in our lives, our thinking and our relationships, both positive and negative.

This lens of perspective gives us opportunity to identify our own self-assumptions. It can offer clarity. What do we want to keep, what is still serving us and useful and what needs to be left behind in the re-creation of ourselves and our lives?

Every day is a chance to explore, edit and re-create ourselves into our best, most fully-realized Self.

Check out my new website!  http://mythologicalmidlif.wix.com/heroinesjourney

“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” Joseph Campbell

Danger! Deep water—rip tides—dangerous surf

 

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What is it in your life that you keep pushing back under every time it surfaces?

The greatest accomplishments, the sweetest victories and even the pinnacles of success cannot be reached, thoroughly experienced and enjoyed without “Knowing Thyself.”

What good is it to be wealthy if you are alone and unloved? Where is the fulfillment of your gifts to the world if you are struggling everyday when you know you have so much to give?

We all have submerged wishes, desire, fears and faults.

If we are brave enough to take the journey into the deep

If we are brave enough to swim with them and give them a voice

If we are brave enough to face our deepest-selves, our own brokenness, and mortality

Then fear dissolves. Then real growth, movement, and fulfillment are possible.

You cannot say yes to the adventure and no to the dragons, they are the same thing.

 

50 Shades of Grey, or how sexuality dominates our lives, literally.

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SEX. Sex sells, sex traps, sex creates, sex liberates.

Sex is all around us, unless you happen to live in a conservative Muslim country. (Even there, where women are entirely covered, I would venture a guess that sex is on the mind.) The hijab, the burqa, and all the other garments are meant to conceal a woman’s image, face, body and gender from from any men other than her husband. It’s very existence makes one “imagine” what is underneath. This alone must give rise to sexual thoughts. What is hidden is mysterious and desirable.

Here in the West nothing is hidden and nothing is mysterious; we attempt to make everything desirable. Why? So you will buy something, consume something. We are shameless about the use of sexual imagery in advertising. We use it to sell everything from hamburgers, to bras and panties, from cars to cigarettes. But what does that mean, shameless? The Oxford English dictionary defines shames as:

  1. The painful emotion arising from the consciousness of something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one’s own conduct or circumstances (or in those of others whose honour or disgrace one regards as one’s own), or of being in a situation which offends one’s sense of modesty or decency.

Is shame the same as embarrassment? The Oxford English dictionary defines embarrassment as we understand it usually in common term as:

  1. Intense emotional or social discomfort caused by an awkward situation or by an awareness that one’s own or another’s words or actions are inappropriate or compromising, or that they reveal inadequacy or foolishness; awkwardness, self-consciousness. (Now the usual sense.)Freq. associated with particular bodily reactions, and expressed in terms of e.g. blushing (cf. quots. 1863,1947), squirming (cf. quot. 1911), or wincing (cf. quot. 2008with embarrassment. Typically distinguished from shame in being caused by something that is socially awkward or inappropriate rather than morally wrong or debasing.

The shame is the corruption of sexual intimacy. We are shameless, or Madison Avenue is shameless, or our engine that drives vapid consumerism is shameless, because it has cultivated no collective consciousness. It would have to acknowledge a conscious self-awareness in order for there to be an instance in which which a painful emotion might arise and be transformed. But is that really true? Do all the “Mad Men” & Women executives in the advertising agencies have no idea that their campaigns effect how women and girls view themselves? Sure they do, they just don’t care. Why? It’s all about money.  They will not own the conscious awareness that exploiting women and girls as sexual objects to sell a hamburger, or a bra, is in the long-run, detrimental to our culture, our country and the world. Giving credit where credit is due, there are some brands that are trying to counteract this destructive trend, Dove soap, for example.

There are many examples of people and organizations who have spoken out against this damaging trend. The female image of unattainable beauty and physical perfection sets up all women for failure. The damage to the psyche of the feminine is deep and ugly. All of this debasement of our very natures leads to a few damaging mind sets-

1. Women as objectified sexual objects. Check out this article, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-leo/five-trends-the-advertisi_b_149354.html

2. The removal of the sexual act from the context of a loving, supportive, mutually beneficial relationship.

What is wrong with sex? Nothing! What is wrong with wanting to enjoy sexual pleasure? Nothing! It’s all in the context. The Human body is magnificent.  So, let’s liberate sex and sexual relationships, the desire for sex, and the need to be and feel desirable, from a sales technique. ” If you wear this bra, all men will find you as beautiful and desirable as a Victoria’s Secret model.” “If you eat a huge hamburger while sitting on a car with a hose shooting forth water like ejaculate, you will be desirable and men will lust after you and want you.” This is where we have gone horribly wrong. By commodifying sexual attraction and the sex act itself, we belittle it, invert it and corrupt it.

Sexuality and it’s expression is natural. As a concept, that is true. Perhaps a little Romantic, but true at it’s core. However, in the living of it, it is no where near that simple.

The release of the film 50 Shades of Grey, is causing quite a stir. Have I seen it? No. Will I go see it? No. I am not eager to support a film that glorifies an abusive relationship on any level. I’m not talking about what two consenting adults like to do together in the bedroom, I’m talking about psychological abuse. Again, there is plenty written already on the pros and cons of this film. And yet the “bruh-ha-ha”, it has caused, brings again to the forefront the struggle of women in our society to have pride, self worth and agency, of any kind.

Why has sex become this HUGE THING in our collective consciousness? Maybe it has always been so. If we think about the beginnings of human kind, primitive man and woman lived in time of survival of the fittest. Anthropologists disagree about the finer points of human societal development. Did women band together and make demands of the men? Did they withhold sex for the food from successful hunts? Did men fight to assert primacy over one another for their females? Was the urge to protect ones young, (in males), the  pattern of nature protecting its gene pool? I’m not sure when the family unit as we know it evolved but much of the moralistic and shame thinking regarding the sexual act of intercourse came from religion. Here in the land of Judeo-Christian founding fathers, sex was/is looked on as a sin outside of marriage and sometimes even as a sin in marriage, unless for the sake of procreation. Masturbation, a sin. Same sex relations, a sin. Multiple partners a sin.

On the other side of the spectrum we have the Buddhist and Hindu traditions of Tantra. The studying and practice of the sacred tradition of sexual union as a way to evolve spiritually and transcend the lower worlds of karma and illusion. There have been great texts written on this tradition. Lady of the Lotus Born is one. There have been great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas who have transcended through this path.

Could these two cultural ideals of sexuality be any further apart?

Could the time have come for us to look at our sexuality differently? Is it time to evolve again? Primitive man evolved into societal groups, tribes and peoples. Each of these cultures comes with its own mythology, with rituals, and rich histories of cultural identity. Each culture with its mythologically prescribed rules, taming sexuality. Perhaps this time it is our consciousness that must evolve. We must out grow the idea that sexuality and sex between consenting individuals is “something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one’s own conduct.”

Our ideas of human sexuality, it’s expression and the container of marriage are due for an upgrade. Let’s take sex out of the dark closet of sin and honor it for the beautiful union it is. If sexual relationships are undertaken with mutual respect, safe practices,  kindness and attentiveness to the needs of the partner, with love and compassion, we might make a great leap forward. That which is burdened with guilt would be set free. Is it possible to have multiple partners, to love more than one person in a lifetime?  Perhaps we could explore different models of life, commitment and love? Could we have more than one commitment at a time, i.e. one to whom you bind yourself to have children and raise them, and others who fill unmet needs for companionship, love, or camaraderie, without all the guilt? Could we build a new set of relationship structures that free the ” guilty pleasures of sex” from thousands of year old constructs of traditional marriage?

By freeing sex and love from religion, we free ourselves from the hidden, dangerous, forbidden, and sinful perspective. What would happen to human sexuality when all this guilt is lifted? That which is no longer forbidden loses much of its fear and guilt. What is freely given cannot be stolen and cannot not be hidden.

Ginnette Paris, Ph.D, a practicing psychotherapist, wrote in a paper that she delivered to The Dallas conference on “Marriage, Intimacy and Freedom,”  “. . . one of the things wrong with our marriage—myth besides its psychology and its sociology, is its theology: one yin, one yang, and one God! It blurs the conscience. It is responsible for the fact that we ask of one man, or one woman, to be all, to be perfect, impeccable. . . .” In her papers she proposes three sacraments of relationship. “One, an intimate ritual, no contract, no witness, a private celebration of the eternal union of two bodies in lovemaking. A ritual as renewable as the sacrament of communion.”

The second,  a public ceremony with contractual obligations and legal agreements. ” . . . a sacrament that would unite . . . mother and father, forever linked to the child that is being conceived. Thus it would be clear that the making of a child is a lifelong commitment for which there is no divorce. And it would also be made clear that procreation implies the union of two families, two clans, two branches of ancestors that become forever part of the same family tree.”

Her third sacrament. ” It would clarify not only matters such as inheritances, family names, property titles, insurance benefits, scope and limit of the partners mutual financial responsibilities, but would also address the more profound aspect of the king and queen metaphor: that of the sharing of powers between two partners of equal strength and abilities in building their financial empire.

I for one am all for these kinds of marriage. It eliminates adultery. Leaving it to the partners to decide the boundaries of their relationships. It takes sex and sexual relationships out of the hands of the church , who reduced them to unnatural, of the devil, full of sin, temptation and the resulting guilt.

These ideas, radical as they may sound, still do not solve the problem of the images of women in the media and the cultural beliefs that tell us we are not enough, just as we are. But…. changing our deeply rooted, inverted and shaming notions of sexuality, relationship and marriage, will go along way to transforming our collective consciousness about each other and ourselves. I think that’s a great start.

(Photo:Kandariya Mahadev Temple, India)

 

If you’re interested in , check out my other blog, featuring my non-traditional business.   https://renewurbeauty.wordpress.com

Childhood Magic, what was it? Can we have it again? I believe we can.

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There was a post yesterday (10/31/14) on the Facebook Page “Humans of New York” where a gentleman was describing the loss of childhood wonder he said, “My happiest moments were way back in childhood. Everything was magical back then. All children are in a constant state of awe and everything is fantastic to them, but then the magical feeling dissipates and reality creeps in.”  the interviewer asked “When was the last time you felt that magical feeling?”
“Ha! Not since I’ve been an adult, that’s for sure.”

What happens to all that wonder and to the thrill of discovery?

First, I would like to mention that not everyone had a happy, wonder-filled childhood. Those of us who were fortunate enough to experience it, have wonderful memories of those times.

Whether or not you had a happy childhood the everyday stresses of living, paying the bills, going to work, and having little time for oneself can all add up to exhaustion and disillusionment. I think there are three prime drivers of misery in our culture— competition, acquisition and consumption.

As a society we are told that we need more, better, faster, shinier, newer, and better everything. What we have–should never, ever—be enough. We have to buy the newest model and if we don’t have the cash we should buy it on credit. Now.

We want everything immediately, and if we have to wait for it, or put some effort into getting it, it’s not worth it. We spend much of our time on devices, plugged in to the internet, computer, phone, I pad, gaming systems, televisions, entertainment on demand, Net Flicks, and on and on. Even blogging…..like now.

Don’t get me wrong, I use technology every day and I am grateful for the opportunities it provides me to learn, grow and connect with the world. However, like too much of any good thing, it can sap the life out of you. For those of us 50 or over, we did not grow up with the internet, cell phones, cable TV, gaming systems or personal computers.

What was it about childhood that was so wondrous? It was EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS.

I would like to offer three concepts for reactivation of experiences of joy and wonder for your consideration.

Imagination, Communication and the Natural World. Have you seen the FB/ You Tube video of the little girl running in her first rain? If you haven’t take a look   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxmmvHsDeuI

This is the wonder of childhood. Maybe we think we are too old for nature firsts, but give it a try. You’ve already seen rain, but when was the last time you purposefully took a walk in the rain, with out an umbrella…..? Go to a park and lie under a tree and took at the canopy and the sky, listen to your favorite music-or just listen to the wind and the sounds around you. Breathe in the scents of fresh cut grass, or central park after a rain, or piney woods, the beach, or a rose. Leave your phone at home, or turn it off if you must bring it!

Go for a hike, sit on the top of a hill and just be there. We have to stop rushing around and take time to look at the sunset, the stars. Make a plan, go somewhere you can be away from city lights and spend a night star gazing. There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on planet Earth!!!! Look up from your daily grind and contemplate that one for a while! How it all came to be and the enormity of the expanse of the universe should give you at least a twinkle of the wonder of the unknown and the unanswerable questions about life and our place in it. It is an adult equivalent to ” Daddy where is up? Why is the sky blue? Where do we go when we die?”

You see, a sense of wonder is, I think, one of scale and experience. When you were a child, everything was new. But each day as you grew, each experience you had the day before was no longer new, but known. The opportunity to have new experiences did not go away…. we just got distracted by daily life. School and formal learning became the path to new discoveries, while most often, imagination was relegated to a lesser function. Re-activate your imagination. Do it by yourself, with your kids, with your grandkids. Do something creative. It doesn’t matter what. The arts, music, writing, pretend, dress-up, and so on….choose one.

There are new experiences of the psyche, the soul, the cosmos, that we have no definitive answers for. Pondering the meaning of the entire world in a flower, as the Buddah did, or all life in a mustard seed as Jesus did…will stretch your wonder capacity.

We are enslaved to the maintenance of the physical body, our homes, our bills, or food, our transportation, health care and on and on. Even Plato long ago said,

“Wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and desires. All wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth, and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in it’s service.”

Whether you agree with Plato or not, if we didn’t feel the need to compete with our neighbors and co workers, for a better house or car, or salary…if we didn’t need to always acquire the newest gadget, if we didn’t participate in a overly consumptive, disposable society, maybe we would have a little more time to cultivate our unexplored human potential. If we can say what we have materially, is enough…maybe we would have more time and mental energy to contemplate the beauty of natural world and life itself. A marine biologist in Maui, Hawaii told me, that humpback whales from around the globe begin the year with different song, and by the end of the migration, all the whales sing the same song, even if the pods have never met. That sparks wonder in me.

If it was our parents and families that gave us the safe loving environment to have the wonder filled experiences of our childhoods, who will do that for us now? We must hold that space for each other, person to person. Connect with people, face to face, get off your devices and truly communicate. Spend time together, conversations will take you places you never expected. You will help yourself and others along the way. Listen. Be present.

Here’s to you finding Wonder and Joyful moments in your adult lives!

xxoo Andrea

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Photos

http://gallsource.com/nature-wallpaper/night-sky-tree-universe-hd-pictures.html

http://sites.psu.edu/bucketlist/2013/10/24/see-the-northern-lights/

http://whaleopedia.org/animalfund/baleen-whales/balaenopteridae-introduction/humpback-whale/humpback-whale-photo/

Your life is “A Hero’s Journey.”

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“Thinking in Mythological terms helps to put you in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell is one of my life’s heroes. The wisdom and insight that he gained though a lifetime of studying Mythologies from around the world has deeply influenced my thinking and perspective on life. In fact, it was his work that lead me to the grad school I am studying at, Pacifica Graduate Institute. Luckily for me they have all of his private library and archives of his personal papers!

Not everyone agrees with me regarding Joseph Campbell, usually you love him or hate him. Imagine that! In the tall Ivory towers of academia there are those who disagree with Campbell. The range of emotions begins with disgruntled scholars and runs the gamete through those who are dismissive of his theories, to down right hatred of the man. (They are, I believe, angry that he is so popular and he abandoned academia! When he found his passion and his advisors would not let him change his Ph.d. focus, he went off and followed his passion.)

Envy is a dangerous thing.

Within Mythology is the beginning of all stories. All narrative, novels, films, even the art of the pre-written cultural tradition of storytelling. It all begins with the Mythologies humans created or learned from the world around us. Mythologies give us an understanding of the world, the cosmos and our place in it.

If you haven’t read amy Campbell yet, I suggest you start with The Power of Myth  or The Hero with a Thousand Faces and find your way from there. We are each heroes on our own journey to becoming fully who we can be. It is up to us to walk out the door and find the paths to follow, with passion and dedication. Each life is made of of many large and small hero journeys, and it is not all flowers and sunshine, but if you meet the hard times head on and venture into the unknown spaces, it is often there that you will find the treasure you seek.

Through mythology and it’s Archetypes, we can see that we are not alone. The course of a life has built into it– stages and rites of passage– that are both thrilling and terrifying- everyone who lives, must pass through them. It is truth of the human journey from womb to tomb. We are all in this together. The only question is, will you say yes to your adventure?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, gone.

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Again we have lost another artist to a drug overdose. What is it in these peoples lives that leads them and other un-celebrated people, to use drugs for fun, excitement or escape?

After the long road to success they find out that $$$ and fame are not the answers to the holes in their hearts and lives. Our society, based on youth and wealth, offers few guides to the well-lived and deeply experienced human life.

The models of growth, transition, development, and ultimately transformation of personality, and psyche are few and far between. Instead of embracing the changes that come with the continuity of life, the inner natural changes of focus and meaning, we strive to remain adolescent in look, attitude and behavior.

The rapture, experience and understanding of the neuminal evade us as we race culturally for the next new gadget, car, or thing- the answers are not in things, or found in others who you hope to heal your wounds and make you whole.

The answers are as old as human history, they are available through the great mythologies and their traditions that provide a guide book to the human condition. The metaphors are all around us. Go find one.