Standing in Our Power

Me
A Younger Me

The Republican candidate for President is in trouble for his sexist behavior again. An old tape has surfaced. On the tape, Trump can be heard bragging about how he can grope any woman he wants. He boasts that he is rich, so he can simply grab women “by the pussy.”

When women across America express their disgust and outrage, Trump dismisses his comments as “locker room talk.” According to him, what he said was no big deal – “just words, people.”  Trump claims lots of men talk like this. And the most bizarre part? Many men (and even some women) in this country agree with Trump and dismiss his vile comments as simply dirty talk.

1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Assaulted… But grabbing women by the pussy is apparently no big deal to a lot of people. And if a woman objects to Trump’s comments?  Well, she is simply “overreacting.”

Kelly Oxford knows better. She was quite disturbed by Trump’s comments. So she went on Twitter last Friday night and asked women to tweet to her about the first time they were assaulted.  “They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12,” she wrote.  By the next day, Oxford was receiving  a flood of first-person accounts of sexual assaults. And by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Oxford’s Twitter page.

(Source: NY Times article by Jonathan Mahler,
For Many Women, Trump’s ‘Locker Room Talk’ Brings Memories of Abuse)

What is a woman to do in the face of this endless stream of sexist abuse? How will this ever stop?  And what do I tell my daughter?

Anyone who reads my blog, knows that I am a big proponent of love. I write often about the healing power of love. But what can love do in the face of this aggressive sexist behavior?  And what is the best response a woman like me can make in this situation? These are the questions I have been chewing on for the past few days.

Here is where I am at today:  Yes, we absolutely need to come from a place of love — this world desperately needs more love. But we must love ourselves first.

We must love ourselves from a place of POWER — a place where we stop minimizing ourselves by apologizing for our own needs, feelings, and opinions. We must love ourselves deeply, and own our power. Then, and only then, will we stop allowing other people to trivialize us.

We matter. Our needs, feelings and opinions matter. It is time for us to embrace how wise and powerful and important we truly are to the world.

Our time has come. We must not be silent any longer. It is time for us to stand up and say NO MORE!  This crap is NOT OK.  It is time for us to stand in our power and say NO to this type of bullshit.  And you know what else? This is exactly what will change the world – woman after woman standing in her power and speaking her truth.

Can we love ourselves enough to stand in our power and DEMAND honor and respect?  It is time. We must do this, for ourselves, and for each other.

Saving the World

2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Disaster
2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Disaster

“So, the world is fine. We don’t have to save the world—the world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about, is whether or not the world we live in, will be capable of sustaining us in it.”

~Douglas Adams

I hiked into Sanitas Valley last weekend. It was so gorgeous that I decided to stop and sit on the east ridge for awhile. I found a big rock high on the ridge and sat surrounded by scraggly pine trees clinging to the rocks. And I could feel layer after layer of tension melt away as I sat in the afternoon sun.

As the sun dropped lower, I walked across the valley and sat under a huge old ponderosa pine on the west side of the valley. I closed my eyes and listened to the wind blowing through the grass; I felt so grateful to be in this beautiful place. The wind danced around me. Wind seemed thrilled to have one person listening and a little bit aware, if only a little.

I sat and day-dreamed about everything this valley has witnessed; dinosaurs roamed here billions of years ago when it was a swamp on the edge of an inland sea. Later the Arapaho tribe hunted and camped in the shelter of this valley. And now every weekend, thousands of people roam here in tennis shoes and hiking boots and flip flops. Many of the trails are eroding away from too much foot traffic. We risk destroying the valley we all love.

Personally I don’t believe that Mama Earth is in any real jeopardy, she will be just fine. Even though we pollute, misuse and mistreat Earth, she has proven powerful enough to shift and accommodate every change humans throw at her.

Our Earth will continue to flow and teem with life, despite our inept treatment of her. It is people who risk annihilation; it is people who need to be reminded how to live in nature’s flow. We act as if we believe we can rule over Mama Earth and bend her nature to our will, but history has proven that idea to be folly again and again. We mistreat Earth at our own peril.

We’re not killing our Earth. We’re killing ourselves.

The Solution to the Problem

Oil Spill photo by Gay, AP May 28, 2010
Oil Spill  by Gay, AP May 28, 2010

It does not take a genius to know that this country is in a deep financial mess; billion dollar bank bail-outs, massive numbers of mortgage foreclosures, record debt levels for both individual Americans and our government as a whole – we have dug quite a deep hole for ourselves. And it’s not just America, the crisis is worldwide.

And it is not just financial news. Add to that my worries about the sickening state of this country’s food supply and healthcare system, and oh yes, let’s not forget global warming and the state of the world’s oceans. Just 15 minutes with the news and I may decide to curl up fetal and never leave my bed again.

How does a reasonable adult deal with the state of our world today? What can I possible do that will help turn this mess around? Anyone with a firm grasp of reality would look around and be very worried. But spending my days in a stressed out, worried state is NOT going help me or anyone else. And I don’t want to ignore the problems either. That would be like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. So, what’s a woman to do?

Well, my solution is mostly spiritual; I spend way more time in prayer and meditation. I increase my connection time to God. That might seem to some people like running away from the world and our problems. But I think it’s just the opposite. Connecting with God or Spirit calms me and keeps me grounded in a reality beyond all the horrible news. It reminds me that I never see the entire picture and that God has got this. God has got this under control, even when it looks like everything is going to Hell.

The other thing that happens when I take time to meditate or prayer is that my mind clears; I stop pinging from one problem to the next. And I find that I can calmly get out of bed and happily go out into the world and face our global problems without panicking. But if I don’t stay “prayed up”, I am constantly freaking out about the future and predicting gloom and doom. Connection time with God is key.

One of the thoughts that keeps coming to me in meditation is that the solution to our problems will not be logical at all. The solution to this mess will NOT come from logical, linear thinking. A right-brained, holistic view of this mess is needed before the solution will become apparent. My left brain looks at the mess we’ve created and screams in panic because the hole we’ve dug is so deep that my logical brain cannot conceive of a solution. But my right brain intuitively KNOWS that there is a solution to every problem – even this one. My right brain also knows that the Universe is a helpful place, not a malicious torture chamber. We will figure a way out of this mess. And the solution will holistic, global, non-linear.

I look around at my kids and their friends and I see the PERFECT minds to tackle these global problems. Please don’t send the straight-jacket, I am totally serious. This is a generation that excels at right-brained thinking. They may lack in the linear thinking department, but right-brained networked thinking is their forte. Attention Deficit Disorder gets a bum rap, in my opinion. ADD should be called Extraordinary Right-brained Thinking! It is a strength, not a weakness. Unfortunately our schools are using 19th century methods to teach 21st century thinkers.

This generation surfs the internet and intuitively knows that there are no national boundaries. They know that we are all in this mess together. My suburban kids have friends from every ethnic group and sexual persuasion. A global economy makes complete sense to them. A global solution will come naturally to them.

So, I read the news and still I am filled with hope. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next. God (and my kids) have got this one under control.

Progress?

 

Over the past 2 years I have been watching a huge compound of office space, apartments and retail stores being built less than a mile from my house. It’s called Lenexa City Center, although it lies nowhere near the center of my town. I guess they mean “center” in some metaphorical sense that I don’t quite understand. Here is what the official web site has to say about the City Center development:

“Lenexa City Center is an exciting mixed-use urban development that is being built on all four corners of 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard, in the center of Lenexa.

Born out of the community-driven Vision 2020 planning process, Lenexa City Center will be a key destination area that will combine a mix of shopping, restaurants, entertainment, office, residential, hotels, and public gathering areas such as parks, plazas, and a civic center all in a pedestrian-friendly, high density, new urbanism development.

At build-out, Lenexa City Center is expected to offer about 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development on 200 acres in the I-435 corridor.”

A slow economy and the overwhelming volume of commercial real estate that currently sits empty all over Kansas City with no tenants in sight has not deterred Lenexa from building a new City Center. And each edition of my city newsletter relays the latest news of this important development. Apparently this is “PROGRESS” for our city and we should all be thrilled.

But I for one have sadly watched their “progress” over many months; first the area was bulldozed and stripped of all trees, bushes, grass – anything remotely resembling life. Then the land was reshaped and reformed until it no longer even looked like its former contours. That phase was rough for me because the old land had been a mix of pasture and trees that I enjoyed checking out every time I passed. And am I the only bleeding heart who wonders what happens to all the squirrels, bluebirds, deer, turkeys, hawks, fireflies, worms, spiders, raccoons, coyotes and other creatures that lived where a new strip mall now rises? Do we humans REALLY want to shove all other life out of the way for ourselves?

My family took a vacation road trip to Wyoming earlier this month. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks on the western edge of Wyoming hold some amazing scenery and wildlife. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. This gorgeous spot was partitioned off into two National Parks over a hundred years ago so we wouldn’t be tempted to try and improve it and civilize it right out of existence (Thank you Teddy Roosevelt!). “Progress” tends to be deadly for wildlife and gorgeous scenery in every part of the country.

To get to Wyoming from KC is quite a haul by car, but I kept imagining what it would have been like to travel the 1,100+ mile distance by wagon a hundred and fifty years ago. Two days in the car is nothing compared to 6 months bumping across roadless prairie. We’ve made “progress” when it comes to fast, safe travel, haven’t we?

We drove through the Black Hills of South Dakota on our way to Wyoming. Back in 1868, the U.S. government “gave” the people that lived in the Black Hills long before white guys showed up (mainly the Lakota tribe) a small piece of the hills and grassland that the tribe held as sacred ground. Our government signed a treaty with the tribes and promised that the land would belong to them in perpetuity. But then gold was discovered in the Black Hills about 5 years later and in perpetuity didn’t mean much. Jeez – talk about indian givers! I felt like personally apologizing to every single Native American on earth after I read what my ancestors did to the Black Hills.

White guys (and I include myself in that label) have a long history of shoving others out of our way in the name of “progress”. If our kids shove others out of their way on the playground or take some other kid’s stuff, we “civilized” adults cry foul and lecture them on the error of their ways. But if our culture does it to another culture (or to another species), or if one corporation does it to a competing corporation, we label it survival of the fittest and claim that it’s “progress” towards a better, brighter future.

I think “progress” may actually just be a polite way of saying we get to do what we want and take what we want because we’re bigger and more powerful and we’re in charge.

Back home at Lenexa City Center, a complex of buildings that looks like offices and retail store space appears to be complete. But the huge parking lot outside the complex sits empty month after month. I ask that you insert Joni Mitchell singing ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ at this point in your reading for the desired effect. Meanwhile the latest city newsletter holds yet another update on the exciting developments at our new City Center.

And what does City Center “progress” look like from here? Well, “progress” is a group of empty buildings, a hideous manmade pond with prefab concrete sides and some spindly trees planted in little islands of dirt in the empty parking lot. But hey, I read yesterday that the developers plan to add a “large green space and walking trails” in the future. This must be to simulate the natural green space they bulldozed to build City Center in the first place…Hmmm. I guess it all doesn’t have to make sense to me. Just as long as I keep paying my taxes…

prog-ress n 1. Movement toward a goal. 2. Development; unfolding. 3. Steady improvement of a society or civilization.
Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.

The Coming Storm

Last week I went for a walk in the woods. There is a path near my house that I love. It winds through the woods next to an untamed year-round creek. I’m wandering down the creek path and I know a big thunderstorm is coming. I saw the storm brewing before I left home, but I love my time on this trail, so I risk a walk in the woods anyway.

I am walking and keeping an eye on the storm clouds that are rapidly building in the north sky. But I’m enjoying my walk so much that I extend it a bit, and then a bit more. I get cocky and misjudge how fast the storm is rolling in. And for my cockiness I ended up getting rained on. Not drenched, just a little damp. Just a gentle schooling from Mother Nature, thank God!

That’s how I hope to weather all the storms in my life; maybe just a little damp but not drenched and no permanent structural damage. I don’t want to end up in chaos at the epicenter of any storm – I have no desire to end up like those Japanese fishermen downwind from a broken nuclear power plant, or those folks in Joplin with no basements where the tornados decided to touch down a few weeks ago. Most of us really cannot handle being at the epicenter, can we? Most of us have no urge to fly right through the eye of the hurricane in a small metal plane. Oh yes, the epicenter is exciting and enticing. Some people love hanging out there. It whispers a siren song that I definitely hear. I’m the one walking in the woods with a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon.

This is one lesson that I have learned the hard way when doing energetic healing work. How close do I want to be to the center of the action, the center of the storm? Through years of trial and error, I have learned that I cannot stay healthy and alive if I hang out in the epicenter of a client’s healing storm. My job is to be an anchor point of calm, on the edge of the action rather than trying to ride the wild energies at the epicenter. I stay healthy and my clients do amazing healing work when I anchor and hold the edges of their dance floor. A client who is emotionally or mentally thrashing through a traumatic release or change needs a calm, deep anchor NOT a dance partner. I picture a giant old sycamore tree anchored in the earth next to this path I love. She’s a calm anchor!

I go visit Grandma Sycamore every time I walk the Mill Creek path. She’s a very cool tree. But on this particular walk, on this particular day, I notice a big chunk of bark lying behind her trunk. When I stop to examine the trunk, I see that the core of Grandma Sycamore is now decaying, rotting away. She has a huge hole at her center. Her time is almost finished here at the edge of the path. Soon she will fall and make way for new trees. I am sad to see this – I have grown to love this tree – I will miss her. She had many years here; wide and tall, majestically anchoring this piece of earth. Now her time is ending.

The same organic cycle of birth, growth and decay happens with everything in Nature. EVERY living thing – including the civilizations that man builds – springs up from the decaying earth left behind from those who came before. We are born, we grow and flourish, then decay and die out. Life on Earth is all about cycles.

Change is inevitable. And change can be very scary, like a huge thunderstorm brewing on the horizon. But If I get still and watch and listen – if I use my senses to really observe, I begin to notice that change is coming before it gets here and I can protect myself. When I slow down and look, I notice that the core of the tree is rotting long before it gets so unstable that it falls on me. In stillness I can see the change coming just like a big storm building  on the horizon.

I see a storm coming for my country. I am troubled by the chaos that the US seems to be spiraling into. A US dollar with no gold behind it, massive debt, medical treatments that make people poorer and sicker, grocery stores full of food that isn’t really food, politicians that pontificate and never really change anything – it is so easy to turn into a completely paranoid pessimist. Yet even my more rational optimistic self cannot deny the growing rot at the core of our economy, of our food supply, of our healthcare and our political structures. Beautiful proud strong Grandma Sycamore weakens with age and eventually rots at the core and falls to make way for new life. And our proud beautiful strong US culture seems ready to do the same just like the Mayans and the Romans and the European empires of earlier times. I try to remember that it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is; cultures grow and flourish and then die out just like trees.

I stop and look around and see a world that has swung so far into the yang, active, doing energies. We are too active, too busy, too focused on owning and controlling everything we see. America has spent so much energy trying to conquer and master everything.  Straightening rivers, digging holes in the earth to pull out energy to burn, building more and more of the biggest vehicles and buildings in the world even though they consume energy like some giant ravenous beasts, processing the fruits of nature until they don’t even resemble fruit anymore… I could rant on and on. This country is so deep in Yang energy, it cannot seem to stop to even catch a breath!

US cities like Chicago and LA and New York feel like Yang energy on steroids to me; busy little ant humans running here and there on foot – or even more Yang yet, zooming from place to place in little metal cars and big metal planes. We get instant news and entertainment 24/7 on our TV’s and computers and iPod’s and Blackberries. Could we be less still, less receptive??

It is the nature of all organic systems to pendulum back and forth between yin and yang states, constantly seeking a balance point somewhere in the middle. And Western civilization is an organic system; civilizations seek balance and homeostasis just like our own body systems do. So a pendulum shift in this country away from yang seems obvious and inevitable to me. The obvious correction for this organic system is to pendulum back toward yin receptive quiet energies, qualities or ways of being. And the pendulum swing is inevitable; ALL organic systems do it. So I look around and know a shift is coming our way. And I also sense that this cultural shift could get quite chaotic and messy. I want to spiritually embrace and encourage this worldwide natural shift back into receptive mother yin energy. And I also want to protect my family in what could be a wild chaotic storm.

So I close with the questions that my husband and I find ourselves wrestling with this year; What can I do to help my family prepare for this storm? What can I do NOW, before the storm gets here, so that my family can emerge from storm just a little damp? How do I best help my friends and neighbors do the same?

And just as important to me; what do I want to shift towards? Even in the worst storm I have choices about what’s best for me, my family, my country. What is the new vision I want to anchor in and hold for my family, for everyone I love, for America? What seeds can I plant now so that they will sprout into life and flourish after this storm passes?

“We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us”

Pogo Earth Day Poster by Walt Kelly 1971

I sit here sipping my favorite Chai and surfing through a pile of news from the last few days. And I come across a CNN report on a research study the links ADHD in children to common pesticides:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html

I take another sip of Chai and think about the pesticide that was sprayed all over the CORN that created the high fructose corn syrup base of my favorite Chai. Darn it! This Chai does taste good even when I know it is horrible for me. I keep waiting for a third arm to sprout out of my shoulder like one of those frogs that gets exposed to these pesticides. But I was happy to see that I still had only two arms this morning when I woke up… so far, so good…

But if the human consequences of sucking down mass quantities of food sweetened with corn syrup were that obvious, I would be freaked out enough to stop eating it immediately. And I would NEVER let my kids have it. Unfortunately the real consequence takes years to develop and we humans have VERY short attention spans (from pesticide exposure!).

The consequences of putting corn syrup in everything are way more subtle than growing an extra limb. It’s problems like ADHD or decreased fertility or increased breast and prostate cancer. And need I mention that the corn growers’ lobby will tell you that “there is no definitive research linking corn syrup ingestion to cancer”? Yeah and by the time the definitive research is done, all our kids might be sterile. Did anybody else wonder if they were seeing their kids’ future in the movie “Children of Men” or am I alone in my mommy paranoia?!

At the same time, I must admit that I’ve known for years that high fructose corn syrup is toxic crap, and yet I still WANT MY CHAI EVERY DAY! Do you think high fructose corn syrup could be both toxic AND addicting??? I’m just asking.

I’m old enough to have read Pogo comics as a kid. (I was still in diapers at the time, but I loved Pogo – LOL)
And the 1971 Earth Day Pogo comic says it so well;

We have met the enemy and he is us.

We humans are gloriously inconsistent creatures. We can create something as amazing as the Taj Mahal in Agra, India or the Apple iPhone on my desk, but we will probably end up killing off the entire human race in our quest for ever more yummy snack food.