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

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Danger! Deep water—rip tides—dangerous surf

 

  Humpback Whales

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

Darkest before the dawn…

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It is the longest night of the year. Literally and figuratively.

As a nation, we are experiencing a national, dark night of the soul.

In a time like this— when corporations are people, and their influence in the electoral process has taken political representation away from the people, empowering the biggest money donors and their agendas, leaving citizens without a voice,

in a time like this— when 41% of the world’s wealth is in the hands 1% of the people and “a new report released by the World Economic Forum, ranks rising inequality as the top trend facing the globe in 2015 ” (1), and the poor are getting poorer,

in a time like this— when racism and inequality have their smoldering embers fanned into roaring flames across the country, due in part to the deaths of three black men Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of three white men, and when one jury and two grand juries neither convict, nor indict the white neighborhood watchman nor white police officers for the deaths of the three men,

in a time like this— when citizens in cities across the country demonstrate against racism and police brutality, when medical students at Columbia, Brown and Yale Universities stage die-ins to protest racism and police brutality, and congressional staffers walk out of their jobs to stage a silent protest against the same, on the capitol steps with their hands raised,

in a time like this—when protests turned violent in Ferguson and businesses were destroyed, fires were set, and a peaceful protest in Berkley was turned into a melee by a splinter group of masked looters, smashing windows, looting stores and injuring police officers,

in a time like this—when two police officers were gunned down while sitting in their car on duty in NYC by a black man, who shot his girlfriend and was on a hunting expedition for white police officers to even the score,

in a time like this—when there has been a 31% increase of the deaths of police officers on the job from the same time last year and “Firearms were used in 69 percent of the nation’s murders, 40 percent of robberies, and 21.6 percent of aggravated assaults.” (2)

in a time like this—”The highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,501,043, … and… there were an estimated 79,770 rapes (legacy definition) reported to law enforcement.”(ibid)

in a time like this—we have to stop. On this, darkest, longest night of the year, we need stop to look deep within ourselves an Americans, beyond race, gender, sexual orientation and political affiliation to our common humanity.

In a time like this we have to ask, what are we doing to each other? We have to find a way to turn down the rhetoric and get the the heart of these difficult, vital issues and work together to find real solutions if we are to survive as families, neighborhoods, cities, a society, a nation and a species.

We have some really big issues to solve together if our children and their children’s children are going to be able to thrive. How can we ever hope to solve global warming, environmental pollution, world hunger, genocide, war, nuclear threats, find cures for diseases like Ebola, Cancer and AIDS if we can’t sit down at the table and respect one another?

We have to craft a modern day Round Table, where everyone can be heard, and progress can be made. We have to stop listening to pundits argue on the various news channels as they inflame the issues further. Eric Deggan wrote for NPR on the news coverage of recent months,

” . . .Trying to talk about systemic racial issues during a crisis is always much harder. Real progress on racial issues happens when people thoughtfully consider perspectives different from their own — and that’s much tougher in a crisis.. . . In truth, this study is the starting point of a conversation that should include the effects of poverty, urban gangs, aggressive drug enforcement and more. But when people are trying to make a point, such detailed discussion is often left behind. Cable news has sped up the path from news reporting to punditry with disastrous results.” (3)

We have to find a way to talk to each other. People need to have confidence in law enforcement. The officers need to be just in their dealings with citizens and they need to know that the people have a stake in their well being also. One hand has to help the other.

Please, please stop the blood shed. As Mahatma Ghandi, a leader in non violent revolution once said, ” A eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”  There is no way through the darkness but to move forward together, toward a new dawn. We have defeated dangerous enemies together in the past, let’s defeat the enemies within together and save our children and our future.

1.http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/11/08/with-41-of-global-wealth-in-the-hands-of-less-than-1-elites-and-citizens-agree-inequality-is-a-top-priority/

2. http://www.crimeinamerica.net/2014/09/06/56-percent-increase-in-police-officer-firearm-related-deaths/

3. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/12/06/368713550/four-lessons-from-the-medias-conflicted-coverage-of-race

One clear note begins a symphony of change.

This image was posted on Facebook last week and it kicked up a storm of comments.

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The division of opinion seemed to run across narrowly defined political party lines, with a fair share of mud-slinging on both sides. These basic human needs and the desire to meet them for all people is not singular to our nation, nor to our time in history. Each generation faces it’s challenges and passes on to the next its ideas, solutions and unsolved problems.

One of the greatest challenges of our time is the growing division between those who believe in self autonomy, “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” taking care of yourself and your own only and those who believe in taking care of those who either temporarily or permanently need help.

The main objection and concern seems to be how to pay for support and services in a time of economic recession and government debt. I don’t claim to have the answers to these difficult problems but I do know that tough problems take hard work to fix and no amount of complaining and backbiting is going to make any progress on anything.

This week we said farewell to an American Icon, Pete Seger. His life is a lesson in strength of conviction, tenacity and how little steps can lead to big change for all of us. Pete used his music as a catalyst for social change. He began his musical career trading songs for meals in the depression. He knew poverty. He traveled the country playing music and writing songs that represented his view of the need for social change. He supported the Labor movement in the 1940’s and 50’s. When he was charged with contempt of congress by the House un-American Activities Committee he kept singing. Shunned from mainstream media, he took to college campuses and small towns. He sang to support the civil rights and the anti-war movements in the 60’s and the beginnings of the environmental movement in the 70’s. He played for Farm Aid, Occupy Wall Street, after which he is quoted as saying “Be wary of great leaders, … Hope that there are many, many small leaders.” and at 90 years old played Madison Square Garden. He won numerous awards including  a Grammy, Kennedy Center National Medal of Arts Award, Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.

Awards are great, yet I feel his greatest gift to us was his music and his unswerving  belief  that, “Participation that’s what’s gonna save the human race.” He sang it, he walked it, he lived it everyday in poverty and success. Little steps collectively and individually lead to great change.

None of the great changes in the world have happened overnight. And none of them have happened without hard work and sacrifice, many people taking many small steps.  In 1776, at the birth of our nation, who would have dreamed that 233 years later we would elect the first Black President of the United States? The abolition of slavery seemed an impossible hurdle, civil rights was another long road that we walked as a nation together. The Great Depression, multiple wars, the creation of social security and Medicaid, Rowe vs. Wade, Gay Rights, same-sex marriage, all difficult issues that we have and must continue to face as a nation.

If the picture  at the top of this blog had been posted 200 years ago saying…

“Wanting everyone, of every color, and both sexes to have the right to vote, the right to interracial and same-sex marry, the right to a free, public, equal education, the right to use birth control, the right to have an individually funded retirement account managed by the government to prevent homeless poverty in old age- does not make you un-American it makes you a compassionate person.”

…we may have read in the local papers an outcry similar to what we hear today..

“Impossible!    Immoral !  Too costly!   It will destroy society!

I submit to you that all our most pressing problems can and must be solved.  “Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”

Providing Food, Water, Shelter, Education, Health Care, Dignity  to all people is a worthy mission-and possible, as well as making real progress on climate change, energy policy, environmental defense, money in politics, poverty,  privacy, education, terrorism, war and nuclear proliferation. We are going to have to make big changes in the way we think and act. We must consume less, reduce our carbon footprint, give more, help more, vote more, write more letters to congress, volunteer more, speak up more and care for and about each other a lot, lot more. This is it, there is no where else to go. No local planet yet to conquer. What do you want to leave as your legacy?

We can do it. We just have to make up our minds to do it. Little steps collectively and individually lead to great change.