Grow Up!

“What is a woman’s role in regards to the immature males in her life, grown men who refuse to grow up and take responsibility?”

When I asked Daniel this question, he paused in deep thought before he answered. He reverted to the teachings of Vitvan. In this spiritual philosophy, woman is a representative of The World Mother. The World Mother has been defined as “the creator of all life, of the earth, there is no being greater than she, and her powers appear to be limitless. She is known as Mother to her children, of which there are more than there are numbers, but she is neither male nor female.”

If a woman is a representative of The World Mother, then her task, according to Daniel, is to step into the dignity of that role. Her task is to value herself, to elevate herself, to love herself. According to Daniel, the more that a woman can live from this place of self-valuing, healthy self-esteem, the less tolerance she is going to have towards the immature male. It is not her job to support his immature ways. The more that women across the planet can step into their true dignity and power, the more men will be forced to GROW UP!

That’s in a Utopian world, of course. Easier said than done. Change doesn’t occur overnight and we’ve got a long ways to go. Yet, change is imperative now. Climate change is demanding that humans become self-aware and understand how we are woven into the web of life.

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Whether or not I believe in Vitvan’s spiritual philosophy, I recognize the need for a woman to grow into esteeming and loving herself. This self-esteem and love of self is often hard won, as we are embedded in systems and creation stories that don’t favor women. Being that across the world patriarchal systems rule, our experiences from birth are steeped in that dysfunctional male paradigm. Women often see themselves through the eyes of the men in their lives. We dress and behave in ways to win his approval. We measure ourselves according to how well we follow the precepts of the male-crafted religions. We see ourselves according to how we fit into the established society or culture. We are conscious of how successfully we have adhered to what we learned from our parents. And, we also might see ourselves in reaction to what our parents taught by their words and/or through their example. Regardless, we are always in relation to this overriding male-created paradigm.

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I asked Daniel, if a woman can only love as mother, are men looking for a mother in a woman, their wife, partner, friend? With a slight hesitation, Daniel said “Yes, I think so…unconsciously. After all, that’s his first female experience…this is his initial introduction to life. [Ultimately], he has to break away. I feel that many men don’t because it’s an evolutionary step and they remain sons…it’s compounded by the fact, as Vitvan would say, that woman can only love as mother and then you have the ungrown child…”

My ex-husband was tied to his mother’s apron strings. There is the saying “your son is your son until he takes him a wife.” For her son to grow into a responsible husband and father, my mother-in-law needed to let him go. She never did. “My poor son, my dear son” was her refrain. He was always her son, her boy, and he never partnered equally with me, his wife. His mother hampered his growth into manhood. And I was groomed to let the man run the show allowing him to “have his cake and eat it too.” There were times I tried to put my foot down, but he had the power in the relationship until I grew in my own self-awareness.

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My sisters and I sometimes discuss male privilege. I asked Daniel “If the world is working for the man, what’s his incentive to change himself or the way that things are?”

What are your thoughts on that as a woman or as a man? Your comments are welcome.

Woman, “her real identity”

Daniel and I met in my small living room from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays for three months. I served tea and placed a recorder on the floor between us.

Daniel initiated the first conversation by asking me to state what I intended with these conversations. I said something to the effect that I hoped for a better understanding of how men and women relate. To notice the ways that we communicate with one another. To explore the similarities and the differences?

For our first conversation, Daniel came in with a prop. His spiritual teacher is a man named Vitvan (1883-1964). It appeared that he had the intention of instructing me in some of these spiritual teachings as pertains to the male/female relationship. And, who the woman is intrinsically, in her true nature. What he was about to share, he felt, was a vital premise, a basis for our discussion. Daniel had made photocopies of a few pages from Vitvan’s teachings. This particular teaching was about who a woman is from this spiritual perspective.

Daniel suggested that we could talk on a spiritual level or the human level of what happens between a man and a woman. In my mind, there isn’t a separation. The spiritual is human, the human is spiritual.

He read to me as I read along.

“On the higher mind level, where there is androgyny, there is no division between the genders. We are united. However, when we step down to the personal plane, there is a split in the androgyny. When the two try to unite on this plane, it is impossible.” However much we try, it’s never going to happen. “NEVER,” Daniel emphasizes. The reason is, according to Vitvan, a woman can only love as mother. The man’s ego might feel threatened if he were to realize this. The woman herself rarely has glimpses of this “fact“.

As Daniel finished reading the teachings, many of which were esoteric and beyond my understanding at the time, I pondered how that was relevant to my life. Where in my experience could I see the spiritual theory that a woman can only love as mother?”

I recalled when my first daughter was born. I felt the deepest love I’d ever experienced. It was not comparable to the love I had for my husband. It was impossible to describe to Daniel, although I tried.
Considering the three major relationships that I had with men, including my husband, their level of maturity dictated my behavior towards them. Two out of three men placed me in the mother role in relating to them. They were, as has been termed, “puer aeternus.” Also referred to as the Peter Pan Syndrome. “I won’t grow up, I’ll never grow up, not me!”

This brought up the question then,

“If women can only love as mother, are men unconsciously looking to a woman to mother them?”
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What do you think? What is your experience as a man or a woman in this regards?

Let’s Talk–between a man and a woman

Last week, when the smoke in the mountains of northern California cleared sufficiently, I sat outside in the backyard with a male friend. I mentioned that I had recently watched the film, The Princess Bride. One of the antagonists was boasting that he had a brain that could outwit Socrates and Aristotle. My friend wondered how it would be to engage in a conversation with Socrates and Aristotle. If they were there with us today, in my backyard in conversation, what would that be like? I said “First of all, being a woman, I wouldn’t be included in the conversation.” It isn’t big news that in Greek society, women had a place; it was in the home and their occupation was within that domain. To this friend’s credit, he said that I’d be included in the conversation if he had anything to say about it!
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Let’s back up to 2009. For several years, I’d been considering the possibility of conversations with a man. I didn’t have a particular man in mind. One day, at the local health food store, a man who actually had done some yard maintenance for me, stood behind me in the checkout line. I turned to him, his name is Daniel, and I nearly blurted out “Would you be interested in having some poetic conversations with me about the way that men and women relate?” Without hesitation he replied, “Christine, I’m your man.” For twelve weeks, we met once a week for an hour. Many more questions arose.  I recorded our conversations, made a cd for both of us so that in between meetings, we could review what was said and witness how we listened, how we spoke, and any other observations.

Premise for conversations:  Having survived a highly abusive childhood within a dysfunctional patriarchal family paradigm, I married young.  I stayed in this abusive relationship for nearly thirty years.  I was a battered wife.  Out in the dating world, I encountered some very immature men.  I had questions about men; about how men and women relate, about expectations in a relationship, about why men think that they have permission to behave in an abusive way towards women, to dominate them.  These are questions that every woman should be asking, if not for herself and her daughters, then for her nieces, her sisters, for the women across the earth that are disrespected by men in a patriarchal culture that disfavors women.

Highlights of Conversation One: 

As pointed out by great thinkers and authors, it is unlikely that Mars and Venus, through all of their grand efforts over time, are ever going to achieve a perfect unity.  In the film, Jerry Maguire, the male character played by Tom Cruise, gives his “I need you” speech.  One phrase that has been repeated over the years is his line “You complete me.”  It’s weird because I seem to remember her saying the line.  Regardless, I do remember cringing when he said it and thinking “DON’T FALL FOR IT.”  Had I become a cynical middle-aged woman who had seen too much of things gone wrong?

When, in our first conversation, Daniel said that he was an incurable romantic and that line, that thought that someone else completes him, enraptured him.  As a woman who had been beaten down by immature men, I was all for my own sovereignty.  Screw that.  I complete myself!  And, if a man brings something to the equation that doesn’t smack of co-dependency, then I might let him get a foot in the door.  Otherwise, no thank you.  My sovereignty had been hard won. 

Back to the thought that on this earth plane, according to some spiritual teachers and philosophers, men and women can never truly unite.  Isn’t that good?  When, I wonder, are we each going to find the value in what the other brings to the table and appreciate what we can create together.  Why create an opposition when there can be a cooperative? Women do not need to try to define themselves using masculine terminology.  Women don’t have to aspire to excel in left brain logic…leave that to the men.  Bring in our right brain wisdom to balance the logic.  Bring in the intuitive. Bring in the imaginative, the mythic.
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Ten years after these conversations, I asked myself what prompted me to want to engage this dialogue with a man (and a man I hardly knew)!  Where did I find the courage to initiate these conversations after the history I’d had with abusive men?  Where did my silenced voice emerge from and why then?  And, discovering that in his earlier life, this man had been verbally abusive to women and had no conscience about his behavior, made this all the more daring on my part.  As he began to “wake up” and do his own inner work, he became more approachable.
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In these times, the women of Afghanistan are facing the degradation and removal of their rights as human beings. Their rights to safely walk the streets, their rights to education, their rights to be represented at the bargaining tables and more. Where does this hatred of women stem from? Complex, right? Yet, there it is insinuated throughout known history and across cultures.

What can you trace in your family system that reeks of misogyny? When do we outgrow this crap!?

Is She a Victim?

(from a journal dated 04.26.2018)

Mother
comes with a built-in judgment
a plan for struggle
to fall and fail
Her platform, built by men
an ‘ideal’ that doesn’t allow her
to be whole.

While Mother has the most amazing qualities,
potential
–she is placed in a hotbed of
masculine insecurity and his misuse of power,
his idea that power means to overpower–
to oppress, suppress and make her subject to…
his unhealed places.

Her qualities, natural instincts of care, nurture
compassion
and feminine power
are contorted to fit into his world,
to meet his needs.


Mother is stolen from herself
and her children.
She is lost, she is sad.

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Today…03.11.2021
I have written about woman, wife, mother for most of my life. I am or have been all of these. Some humans would like to believe that we’ve evolved so much that there is no longer oppression and abuse of women. We hear world news rendering this belief as false. Yet, we hold onto the idea that it’s not happening here. Sadly, it is present today in our own country, our own community and our own families. Domestic Violence is real. It is mostly the abuse of women and children.

The woman victim often denies that she is a battered wife. There is a complex of qualities that create a circumstance for domestic violence. For the woman being abused, it can involve low self-esteem, trauma, shame, confusion, the desire to be loved and cared for, fear and more. There can be an economic component as to why a woman stays in an abusive relationship. There are always hidden reasons and causes, below the level of her awareness–often, she grew up in a household where this was modeled. The male abuser has likely been a victim himself–of trauma and having grown up in such a household. He has not learned to value a woman nor has he learned how to manage his own triggers, anger, past trauma.

When I moved to the mountains, twenty-plus years ago, I determined to write about the battered wife…her battle for sovereignty. When she recognizes that she has stayed too long in an abusive and demeaning relationship, how does she finally leave? My mother never left. She stayed true to the model of battered wife to the end. She stood by her husband despite the ongoing abuse. In the care home, I witnessed how my father finally had only to give my mother an icy stare for her to comply with his demands. The patterns were so well-established and neither of them knew how to extricate themselves from such a merciless cycle.

This is one of many tough topics. One that many people in my circles avoid. I understand why. It’s an ugly topic, isn’t it? It has ancestral roots. How does one change something that is so embedded? And, of course, how does the prevailing and entrenched attitude towards women as inferior to men begin to change? How does a woman change that diminished model within herself?

Sometimes, when a woman has experienced domestic violence over a long period of time, it is hard for her to talk about it. If she has left the situation, there is a part of her that wants to shrink away from it and ‘have a happy life now.’ However, the effects are lingering and the body has set up patterns of re-traumatization with the intention of protection. Reading about something along the lines of domestic violence, a woman can get triggered back into an event in her life. Fight, flight and freeze strategies are engaged. Conducting a normal life is unrealistic given this response to triggers.

This topic of Domestic Violence is up for me now as currently some of my family members are living through this nightmare. For one of them, it has been carried to the extreme and she is in the hospital fighting for her life. When and how does this change? First by shining a light of recognition on it. Bringing awareness to that which we would rather avoid. The world has been under the spell of man’s dominion over woman and nature long enough. We’re missing everything until we are inclusive of the wisdom that is innate when we embrace our interdependence on one another and the wholeness of life.




Writing My Way Through

Writing a blog, one can get stuck in a rut. Trying to hold true to an original intention for the blog, I encountered a block. While I loved what I was writing and sharing, was it making a difference for myself and others? Was their an evolutionary track to it? Perhaps, I’ve gone as far as I need to in that direction.

I paused the blog to grieve three intimate losses, to reencounter myself and rekindle a relationship with what has been a lifelong theme. That theme is the theme of woman/mother in a society that disrespects woman. As a girl with a mother who was virtually voiceless and invisible, I was impacted strongly. In her invisibility and silence, her effect upon me has been profound. How, then, did I find my voice? How did I allow myself to dare to go from invisibility to being seen?

As I write this, I ask myself “Do I want to share something this personal referencing my ongoing lifelong journey towards finding my voice, healing and wholeness?” I haven’t arrived there and I don’t necessarily feel secure or that I’m in a place of grounded strength and complete self-awareness. If I haven’t arrived, then how credible can I be? While I took a break from writing this blog to process grief, I realize that the period of healing, grieving, reclaiming and replenishing is ongoing.

In these times, each one of us has something that we are working on in the inner landscape of our individual lives. We are, each one of us, a microcosm with its own center and on our own evolutionary track. We do this, side-by-side, unaware of what our neighbor’s or our brother’s or our sister’s inner self is working on. If recognizing this helps me to access compassion, then I’ve come a long way.

We live in what has been termed “unprecedented times.” The challenges are great for us as individuals and as a society. There are a few people in my immediate circle with whom I reflect and share deeply. I admire those who can hold a positive attitude…although sometimes I wonder what channel they are tuned into as I don’t have the same consistent optimism. I do have hope, but I also am a witness to my own turmoil and the world condition. What is my small part in this great whole?

As I was walking in the late afternoon, it occurred to me that I could harvest writing from my journals, essays and non-fiction short stories to present the themes that explore a woman’s evolution from invisible and voiceless to “it is safe to be visible and to have a voice.” But there is something that I’m looking for in my own life and journey–what is the transformational piece? I don’t only want to present a problem…I want to consider “What is a possible way to transform what was or has been?”

I offer that question to you, the reader of this blog. Surveying your life, are you able to name a transformational piece? Certainly, there can be more than one.

Enjoy your day.

She Who Knows

SheWhoKnows.

There is the tale that is told so well by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her world-renowned book,  Women Who Run with the Wolves.  When I first encountered this book, I was in an independent bookstore, The East West Bookshop, down the Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I opened the book randomly and read a passage that was relevant to an experience that I recently had.  The hardbound book wasn’t in my budget.  I replaced it on the display table and walked away.  Then, after browsing for awhile, I was drawn back to the book.  Again, I randomly opened it and voila, another passage that claimed me.  I bought the book.  Every weekend, I’d read a chapter and integrate what I was discovering.  This book felt like a woman’s bible to me.  The mythology and tales that were woven in with a Jungian interpretation touched me deeply.  These tales, passed down from generation to generation, transported me into my own psyche in a way that had never happened before.

La Que Sabe, She Who Knows, was one of those stories.  The story goes…

“In the Southwest the archetype of the old woman can also be apprehended as old La Que Sabe, The One Who Knows. I first came to understand La Que Sabe when I lived in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico, under the heart of Lobo Peak. An old witch from Ranchos told me that La Que Sabe knew everything about women, that La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot: This is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything. This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had the ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiché tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking con los ojos vendados, with blindfolds on her feet.”
(excerpt from Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

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When I created this mixed media painting, I had no idea who or what was going to emerge.  But then, she did.  This painting is not about perfection of features…it became about expression of a deep feeling…the woman who has searched inside and encountered her own depths in search of her place in the world.  She does not feign timidity.  Pretense doesn’t work for her.  She decorates herself.  She is radiant and is comfortable with being in her own power.  She is not apologetic for being this powerful.

She has lived her life and learned from it.  She is present with you and deep seeing into human foibles and their underlying strengths.  She understands that wisdom is there for each one of us.  And, she holds patient compassion for herself and others as we sense into our own deep knowing.

Mystery

cat1a

It was strange to see this cat girl emerge.  She was painted just before the time that women were donning knitted pink cat hats.  They were called “pussyhats” and worn in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington DC.

A little recent history lesson from Google:

A pussyhat is a pink, crafted hat, created in large numbers by thousands of participants involved with the United States 2017 Women’s March. They are the result of the Pussyhat Project, a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect located in Los Angeles, to create pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact.[1]

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As an artist, have you noticed this…not only does your art respond to the political and socio-economic climate, but sometimes it is almost predictive.  Artists, poets, writers, creative beings have a heightened sensitivity.  It’s no surprise that they can tune into something before it hits the press.  And express it through their art.

Obviously, my girl’s hat isn’t pink–but the concept of woman merging with cat, with her wild nature–and yes, she has magic–are reminders to myself.  A woman is an enigma to the male of our species.  Rather than men fearing and trying to dominate what they don’t understand, why not honor her?  Why not seek her out for wise counsel?  Why not be curious to know her more deeply?  Why not recognize that she has gifts to share (that he does not possess) and lend value to them?

That men are making most of the rules, guiding the politics of our lives, belies the fact that women comprise over 50% of the population in America!  2019 census shows 168.08 million women versus 161.48 million men!  When are women going to realize that they have more power for change than they are exercising?

There are so many things in place in our society (and world) that we know are morally wrong and socially unjust.  Women know this deeply…if they could gather their courage and unify their voices, change for the good would occur.

What is something you, as a woman alive today, are called to take a stand on?  How are you going to align yourself with what you know to be true and correct?  Is there an action you know that you need to take?  One step at a time…dare to take the first one.

 

 

 

Queen of the Desert

Gertrude Bell, an amazing woman I recently encountered through another excellent Werner Herzog film, Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman.

In the film, Queen of the Desert, Gertrude Bell models a sovereign woman.  She was an English writer, traveler, explorer, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist.  She was a woman who thought outside the box of convention and culture.  She didn’t follow the rules of what a woman could aspire to within the confines of being born female in this time and place.  She has been called the female Lawrence of ArabiaIn the desert, she said that she found herself.  

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Do you know many sovereign people, male or female…the ones who have mastered themselves to such a degree that they are free to live the lives they have chosen and crafted?

Feminist Slogans…a few

An individual woman is going to have her personal interface with the feminist experience.  Continuing with the theme of Feminism…my granddaughter asked me:

“What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the advancement of women’s rights?”‘

These too familiar slogans came to mind:

burn the bra
free love
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Different but Equal

Women wanted equal opportunity for advancement on the job.  In the early 70’s, I worked in a corporate setting in a personnel office.  The male establishment often brought up the oppositional point that a woman would likely get married, then pregnant and leave her job and fall back on her husband for financial support.  They perceived this as some sort of logical reason not to advance a woman on the job.  That said, for many years now, the necessity of a two-income household is without question in order  to afford a certain lifestyle.

I lived in San Francisco at this time.  My ex-husband was in the fire department.  Women were fighting for the right to be firefighters.  There had been height, weight and physical agility requirements.  Most women and men of lesser build couldn’t meet these prerequisites. The requirements were modified to allow women in the department.  They still had to meet certain requirements, but these alterations in the standard entry test opened the door to women.  Whether or not they were capable of doing the job was going to be tested on-the-job.

The sexual harassment laws have been evolving since the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission began defining what that meant in the 1960’s.  It seems to be taking awhile for the male population to take this seriously.

There is the ongoing question around a woman’s right to make decisions about her body.  It seems that with each change of administration, the abortion laws come up for question and review.

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Women come of age at different times.  In our own individual lives as women, it seems to be part of our growth to recognize when we are disrespected, mistreated, devalued. We come to understand that we must first respect and value ourselves.  With the strides forward of the individual woman, the macroscm is affected.  How we esteem ourselves teaches others how we expect to be treated.  No small task.  Lots to undo.

Healing as a woman

Hard and Soft.Woman'sQualities

I was inspired to create a dress for an upcoming Fiber Arts Show.  I drew a design.  I purchased a square cut,  woman’s small, magenta tee-shirt and a dress form.  This picture illustrates the final outcome of my process.

Earlier in the year and for several months, I faced some big challenges.  I needed to tap into my courage and presence while offering support to others.  That became the intention for this dress.  A woman is called upon to be both hard and soft.  She needs to be tough while retaining her tenderness.  Woman as warrior, woman as fierce when necessary–woman in charge of her own body, her sexuality.  This art piece addresses the need for a woman to reclaim her birthright–to be a whole human female person.  Some of the embellishments have symbolic meanings.  I’ve written a few words or phrases on the  light pink fabric strips–these are some of the things that she reclaims–sovereignty, her voice, choice, the right to say yes or no,  freedom, connection, health, her body, courage, self-nurture, her right to thrive.  I’m certain that you can add to this list.

Healing as a woman is a journey unique to each woman in any culture and in a world that neither elevates woman nor her sacred tasks.

Writing Prompt:
As a woman, how do you express your hard and soft?  What in you needs to be healed and/or reclaimed?
As a man, how do you honor and encourage a woman’s empowerment?

NoteFor those of you local to Mt. Shasta or nearby, the Weston’s Fiber Arts Show 2018 Reception is today, Friday, the 22nd of June, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Snow Creek Studios Art Gallery on Mount Shasta Boulevard.  There are many amazing fiber artists exhibiting their work.  The show will be on display for approximately one month.  We hope to see you there.