Temenos Journal II

July 31, 2011

On Forgiveness & Making Up

When I first arrived in Reno I made friends with an interesting and funny guy, and friendship turned into romance. However, I didn’t want to hang with him all the time… just once in a while… and he got very pissed at me and decided to cut off all communication altogether. I was dumped and hated… and very bewildered. Because I lost a fun and interesting pal.

Soon after our break-up my friend decided to take a teaching job overseas and we ran out of time to heal our disconnect. I wrote this song to reach out to him one last time… but of course he was already gone.

But this song is not just about that guy. It’s how I feel towards all the loved ones with whom I’ve had a disconnect in the past that hasn’t quite completely healed.

Before You Go

(c) Copyright Genie Webster 2011

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July 30, 2011

Confessions of a Recovering Angry Feminist

RosieRiveterYes, I admit I am a recovering angry feminist.

I still abhor the patriarchal values that perpetuate a fear-based society, where money buys power and bullies rule.

I still get livid when a woman or child is abused — physically, mentally, or spiritually.

But I have changed my thinking in one major way…

During the 70s and 80s I worked very hard to prove that I could make it in a man’s world. I worked my way up in a nontraditional job in a piping construction firm — from clerical worker to project manager — and learned to wear a hard hat and read a blueprint.

Then I went into my own business. First I went into publishing, which evolved into graphics and printing. I negotiated contracts, raised working capital, and had power lunches with bankers, lawyers, and CEOs. I became a successful, prominent business woman who was often profiled in the press as a role model and a leader.

A big part of my mission was to help pave the way for other aspiring business women. I was a charter member and active leader in the local Women Business Owners Association and I organized a roundtable discussion group of successful business women. We learned how to network and make things happen alongside the good ol’  boys of the Cleveland business community.

We were the women who learned to compete and win in the male-dominated competitive and greed-driven business world. We (or most of us) had become part of the system. Right around the time that George Bush Sr. dropped the first bomb on Iraq… I realized that I no longer wanted to be part of that system. I felt something like ashamed.

That moment of epiphany was the beginning of the decision to leave the business world and become the artist and writer that I was born to be. I did not like what I would have had to become in order to go to the next level of success in business. I did not like playing by the rules that were invented by men in suits. I announced my decision to my friends in my business women’s roundtable and I had their full support.

As I began the process of easing out of business, I gained a new appreciation for what men have been accomplishing for so many centuries. As I slowed down, the numbness caused by the continual onslaught of adrenalin began to subside, and I started to realize how bone-weary I was. I ached from head to toe. My brain was worn out.

I remember thinking, “Men can have this. Running a business is for the birds.” I reflected on all the giant things that men have accomplished… building the railroads, building the bridges, inventing commerce, etc. This is way too much work and you really do need broader shoulders than I have or want.

I just wanted out of the game. It did not feel like defeat, it felt like liberation.

I am still a feminist. That is, I will always work for equal rights for women and girls. Thankfully, there’s not nearly as much work to do now as there was when I was starting out in business. But I am no longer an angry feminist.

I feel compassion for men, not anger. My mission has changed from “making it in a man’s world” to “changing the way we look at the world.” I have many male friends who share the same vision. Men are not our enemy. They are our brothers. The enemy is the patriarchal system, created before our grandparents’ time. The enemy is corporate greed, that holds so many of our men (and women) hostage.

We allow ourselves to look the other way and become numb so that we can provide a certain expected lifestyle for our families. Well, that’s a short-sighted sell-out because we lose our integrity in the process. We lose our health, our peace of mind, our self-respect, and ultimately our souls.

We need to participate more as conscious citizens who can think for ourselves and make up our own minds, instead of coasting along like passive consumers, most of whom are also self-medicating themselves just to be able to withstand the insanity.

As citizens, we need to stay vigilant to keep informed about what the prevailing game is, and to know the rules. If we don’t like the game, we don’t have to play. We can help invent a new game where the object is not necessarily to win — the object is to keep the game going. We need to revisit the rules every so often, so that we can change the rules when they no longer serve our highest collective good.

Yes, the angry feminist has mellowed. Now I am a spiritual activist. I don’t think we can change the world… but I think we can change our hearts. And so my work is to reach peoples’ hearts through my music and my writing and my art. Yes, I believe we can change the world by changing our hearts, one heart at a time. This is about as feminist and feminine as you can get, I think.

 

Related: On the Strategy of the Dolphin

Related: On Spiritual Activism

July 29, 2011

an Attitude of Gratitude… for Life

Universal Symbol for Gratitude

When I was in my 30s, I was in the hospital recuperating from emergency abdominal surgery. This was caused by a misdiagnosed ruptured appendix that had become abscessed and was speading like lava to other parts of my body.

I thought I was in hell. I rarely ever even caught a cold, and now I found myself immobilized with an open rotten belly (they didn’t stitch me up for five days), with needles in my arms and tubes down my nose and up my crotch.

Boy was I bitchy. I was in a room with two other ladies. One was in her 60s and was having trouble holding the enema they kept giving her for diabetes testing. There was crap everywhere. I could have endured this for one day, but the second day of flying crap when you’re immobilized began to grate on my nerves. The poor lady, by the way, was also suffering greatly, and she was so embarrassed and very apologetic.

The other lady in the room had to be 90-something and she, too, was miserable. She continually cried and moaned and yelled for the bed pan. The poor thing was having a lot of false alarms, so it seemed as though the nurses were now paying less attention to her calls for the bed pan. Of course, it was inevitable that there would be accidents, with all the confusion going on.

So I was trapped in an environment of random flying crap on both sides of me. I thought that being in that particular hospital room at that particular time was the worst luck in the world. Being one of those people with an acute sense of smell, I thought this must be what hell is like.

There was no privacy. Some of the nurses were rude and obviously hated their jobs. Some of the doctors would pat you on the knee in a condescending way and ask, “And how are we today?”

I wanted to say, “I’m fucking MISERABLE!” and I don’t even swear. I wanted to choke his stupid neck and slap him around, but of course I’m too polite to do that.

That is, I was polite until I started feeling stronger… about the 5th or 6th day after surgery. I started asking each doctor who came in, “When can I get out of here?” and their answer would always be some version of “not yet.”

This scenario went on day after day until one day I got quite belligerent and demanded that I be released from the hospital. I was miserable in this place and I wanted to recuperate at home. And another thing, take me off these horrible drugs — they are making me sick to my stomach and they’re making me hallucinate!

I will never forget my surgeon’s response to my demand.

“Now you listen to me. You are damn lucky to be alive. Your appendix was abscessed and had turned gangrenous. Your belly was so infected that we do not want to take any chances removing the IVs before we know that the infection is under control. You are healing quite satisfactorily, but we cannot rush these things. Do you understand?”

He didn’t holler at me, but he was stern. Of course I understood. I felt chastised, but, given the circumstances… that was the least of my worries.

The day before, a friend had brought me a copy of Louise Hay’s book, A Garden of Thoughts: My Affirmation Journal. The first page I opened had this affirmation:

I allow the love from my own heart to wash through me and cleanse and heal every part of my body and my emotions.

This touched me. Something opened up, like when your ears pop after being plugged by an altitude change. Well this was an attitude change, like Scrooge in the last scene of A Christmas Carol.

I smiled at the lady next to me, and appreciated the sweet person she really was. I even smiled at the next doctor who visited — I was healing! I caught a glimpse outside the hospital window of green leaves on a tree branch against the gray Cleveland sky and I thought it was the most beautiful nature scene I had ever seen. I was no longer irritated when the old lady began her hollering for the bed pan — at least I was alive and could hear her hollering! I could smell!

I was getting better, wasn’t I? I could stand it here for a few more days. I’m healing. Now the world took on more of a golden glow, and even the crap on the walls became more humorous than horrifying.

I believe I experienced, as they say, a spiritual awakening. I grew up a bit.

Since that day many years ago, the feeling of gratitude has continued to permeate every corner of my world. Gratitude has become my way of life.

So sometimes I seem less than sympathetic when a parent focuses on their child’s hyperactive nature as if it were a catastrophe. (The child is alive and healthy! Would you rather have a listless child with no spunk?)

Or you might think I’m callous if I don’t think it’s the end of the world because your son is skipping a year of college to travel across Europe with his girlfriend. (What a great adventure! How fortunate that he has the means and the health to do it! He can always return to college.)

And I may not sympathize when you complain about never having enough money, when you live in a 3-bedroom house, with two cars, multiple TVs, central heating and air conditioning… and a swimming pool!

A dear friend of mine used to talk about the “lottery of life.” We loved each other and he used to ask, “What are the odds that of all the millions of people in the world, you and I would meet? How lucky are we to have been born in the U.S., where there is an abundance of food and clean water and where we are free to do just about whatever we want to do? We are the winners in the Lottery of Life!”

What are the odds that of all the doctors in the world, that I would get one who would chew me out and change my whole perspective on life at the same time?  I feel like I won the lottery! (Although I didn’t even know it at the time.)

July 28, 2011

On Bullshit Busting and Allergic Reactions

nobull

Besides being allergic to cats and shellfish, I am allergic to bullshit. Cats give me hives and cause my eyes to turn red and burn and itch. Bullshit causes me to go insane. So, naturally, I avoid cats and I avoid bullshit, whenever possible.

Bullshit can be defined as “anything which impedes clarity.”

Perhaps someday I will be strong and solid enough so that bullshit will just roll off me like water off a duck’s back. But I hope I don’t become too desensitized. Even though I’ve been in recovery from codependency for many years, I’m still vulnerable to its seductive lure. I guess you could say that I am a recovering bullshitter myself.

My friends call me a bullshit-buster. That’s because I will expose bullshit when I encounter it (and my bullshit sensor is keen). I will invite it to either transform or leave. Or I will leave.

I’ve found that when you are dealing with other bullshit addicts (i.e., codependents) – especially if they are still in denial – to expose their bullshit is to invite intense defensiveness.  It will undoubtedly cause tension and sometimes an emotional reaction. This intimidates a lot of people and so they allow themselves to be manipulated into going along with the bullshit. Or they go away without at least trying to smooth the tension.

But I’m not easily intimidated. I stand up to it and call it what it is. Because I know that bullshit is only that… bullshit. Pshaw!

Bullshit takes many forms.

1. DRAMA

A few years back, a couple of girlfriends and I were planning a garage sale. Peggy, Maryann, and I decided on a date and a time for the event and then we went back to our busy daily lives. When Peggy called me to see if we could move the date back a couple of weeks, I agreed. I just assumed that Peggy would also call Maryann and check with her, too.

When I spoke with Maryann the following week, I discovered that she had not yet found out about the date change. “Oh… Didn’t Peggy call you about the date change?” No, she hadn’t. It was an unfortunate – though innocent – oversight, I thought.

Maryann did not think this was so innocent. She reacted in anger, insisting that she had been intentionally left out of the loop. I apologized for the oversight, but that did not satisfy Maryann. I asked Maryanne what I could do to help make amends for this mistake. She said, “I want you to admit that you didn’t call me because you have little regard for me as a person.” I thought to myself, “That’s bullshit.” And I answered, “No, Maryann, that’s not why I didn’t call you. I mistakenly assumed that Peggy was going to call you.” This only aggravated Maryann, who replied, “This conversation is going no place!” and she hung up the phone.

Maryann was determined to create a drama that would support her self-image as a victim. When I refused to participate in her drama, she left the friendship. (There was no garage sale.)

2. IMAGE CONTROL

A person will modify or cover up the facts in order to engineer a desired image – either for themselves or for someone they are protecting (for whatever reason).

To quote Anne Wilson Schaaf from her book When Society Becomes an Addict"":

Codependents refuse to see people or things as they really are. In doing so, we are fundamentally disrespectful of them. It is only when people are seen as they really are that they can accept and honor and take responsibility for themselves. It is only when they own who they are that they have the option to become something else.

3. OVERLY GULLIBLE

Codependents tend to trust people who are untrustworthy. This only contributes to perpetuating more bullshit in the world.

Bailing someone out is often a kind, compassionate thing to do. To bail out the same adult person over and over again is not helping them, it is hindering them… and it’s participating in the person’s bullshit that they are not capable of taking care of themselves.  It is hindering them from learning to take responsibility and become self-sustaining.

When I first met Connie, she confided that she struggles with a compulsion to rescue people. She liked to feel needed, especially by her children. She continued to send her grown son – an intelligent, capable, resourceful adult – money whenever he asked for it. “I believe in him,” she would say. But she really didn’t. Because if she truly believed in him, she would have allowed him to learn to live within his means. By continuing to bail him out, she was helping to perpetuate his bullshit – his lie about himself that he was not capable of taking care of himself. She robbed him of an opportunity to grow.

Another way to describe people who are overly gullible is to say they believe what they want to believe. “The polls are wrong,”  for example.

5. IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION

And then there is the bullshit of expecting instant gratification or quick-fix enlightenment. I know this one well. How many of us have gone from workshop to workshop, read book after book, tried one method after another… only to be disappointed that instant transformation or instant salvation did not magically occur?

So many seekers think that enlightenment is like instant mashed potatoes… no peeling, no boiling, no mashing… just add hot water and you’re done. Many are even reluctant to add the hot water! There are no shortcuts to an authentic and lasting bullshit detox. It’s an ongoing process and requires practice, like any life skill.

Step One = Stop bullshitting yourself. Take an honest moral inventory and start cleaning up your act. Simple… but not easy.

Group Bullshit

It seems so ironic that a person like me — who is allergic to bullshit – wound up in Reno, Nevada for 17 years… home of instant weddings, quickie divorces, neighborhood pawn shops, billboards promising the biggest  gambling pay-outs and the prettiest girls. This city depends on bullshit to sustain its very existence! The bullshit habit had become so ingrained in that city’s culture that lying (bullshitting) is not only tolerated… it’s expected and accepted… in its government, in its media, and its business climate.

I’ve heard that there are more nicotine addicts per capita in Reno than in any other city in the U.S. There are also multitudes of alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, and compulsive gamblers. For every addict there are the accompanying multitudes of codependents. It is a culture of denial, avoidance, and getting numb.

Naturally, such a culture makes an imprint on its inhabitants. The psychic atmosphere is so muddy there that you cannot help but get your feet dirty.

What if we made it less acceptable in our communities and tribes to tolerate bullshit? If we can’t do that in our homes and families and neighborhoods, then we can’t change the world. We have to start with cleaning up our own little circles. We can do that in our homes and our workplaces and communities by sticking with a very simple guideline:

  1. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  2. Be courteous and respectful.
  3. Take responsibility for your own equanimity. If you feel you can’t be kind and emotionally stable while being truthful, then walk away until you figure it out
  4. Don’t exaggerate. Be truthful and reasonable.

It’s a start.

 

You might also like: On Spiritual Activism

July 25, 2011

A David & Goliath Tale – No. 1

I’m not afraid to take on the big cats.

The first time I took an unpopular stand against a daunting authority figure was when I was 19 or 20… working for a company called Tube Craft in Cleveland, Ohio.

I was quiet and focused on the job then, just like I am now. I started out as a “shipping clerk.” I learned quickly and soon got promoted to something like a production expeditor (? I don’t remember…). I do remember that the guy who worked side by side with me and who trained me was a tall blonde young man around my age. He was a nice guy, happily married, and we became pals and sometimes went out to lunch together.

The company was expanding and soon there was another guy around our age… a dark-haired shorter Italian guy. This time I was the one who trained him and we all did the same kind of work and became pals and often went out to lunch together.

One day, the tall blonde guy was complaining that he had to ask for a raise. “My wife and I have a baby on the way. We can’t make it on $XX per week.”

I think he was making about 30-40% more than I was.

Now I had been a feminist since the 6th grade when I challenged the recess monitor, Mr. Lehman: “How come the boys get the good kickball field and the girls get the junky one?” It just so happened that when I got home from work that day, the headline in the Plain Dealer said something like “GE (or some other huge corporation) must pay ($ some huge amount) in back wages to female employees in class action pay discrimination lawsuit.” It was a huge victory for feminists who were working to achieve equal pay for equal work at the time.

The next morning, little soft-spoken Genie went in to see the immediate supervisor, Frank Petrovich. I showed him the headlines and asked him “Did you know that it’s illegal not to pay women the same wages for equal work?” Frank was a really nice guy and a great boss. He said, “I was wondering when you would bring that up. I’m sorry but I can’t do anything about it. You’re going to have to take it up with Mr. Wiley (the president of the company).”

Bruce Wiley was ancient, but authoritative and an intimidating figure. Everyone was afraid to talk to Mr. Wiley and I was no exception. Although he did have a soft spot for young girls like me. So when I asked to see him, I was given an appointment.

I brought the Plain Dealer headlines with me. He was friendly and all smiley with his pale complexion and fine white hair and he invited me to have a seat. I sat across from him at his huge shiny desk and I put the newspaper headlines down in front of him. He adjusted his wire-rimmed specs and took a look and his pale face turned a bright shade of pink and his smiley-smiley face went dark.

I bravely asked him, “Mr. Wiley, are you aware that it is illegal to pay women less than men when they are doing the same work?”

He was angry that I would even ask such a question. “Young lady,” (I’ll never forget his words) “In this company we compare the women with the women and the men with the men.”

“I know you do, Mr. Wiley. But now that’s against the law.”

Mr. Wiley was really angry now. “What makes you think you’re worth more than Viola May, or Betty Sadowski?!! I don’t care what the law is! We compare the women with the women and the men with the men here.”

Then I did something that amazes me now. I mustered up all my courage and I said, “With all due respect, Mr. Wiley, this practice is illegal, and I am going to take steps to protect my rights by the law.” (My heart was pounding!)

Mr. Wiley never spoke to me again and I became a pariah in that company. The guys wouldn’t eat lunch with me anymore. The women would avert their eyes. And I was just a sweet young girl!

I think I took a day off to go downtown to fill out a report at the Ohio EEOC. Long story short… I won the case. And Mr. Wiley’s Tube Craft had to pay me all the back pay which was the difference between the guys’ wages and mine. I think that was the first time I took on Goliath and won.

But it wasn’t the last time…

July 2, 2011

Prayer at the River

Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense (Mignon McLaughlin)

Another way to put this is that successful people are the ones who have made peace with ambiguity.

The majority of us are quite content when we know where we are going and we know how and when we are going to get there.

Really successful people know where they are going — at least they know how it will feel when they get there. They have a vision, a mission — but they don’t fret about the “how-to’s” and the  ‘when’s.” They trust that the details will take care of themselves.

That is not to say that successful people wait passively for their dreams to just happen. As the old saying goes, “God gives you the spade, but you’re the one who has to do the digging.”

Successful people consistently chip away at the digging, and they pay attention to the treasure map (which, by the way, often continually changes). This is the aspect of the journey that weeds out the also-rans.

Average people tend to get discouraged when the treasure map changes. They think it is the end of the road, when in fact it is only a fork in the road. You have the option of giving up at that point (and a good excuse to do so). Or you have the option of looking at the journey with a new perspective… one that allows you to see a new map.

I encountered such a fork in the road when I first came to Reno, with my sights set on starting a new career in music. I had relocated from Cleveland, Ohio, where I had been a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman.

I had done my homework and was prepared… I had my vocal demo, my promotional photos, I was in great shape, and I felt confident. I had my best friend by my side working as a coach and head cheerleader. I had everything going for me…. talent, preparation, and tools of the trade. Within ten days of landing in Reno, I had my choice of three job offers.

I chose the job that paid the most — a 3-month gig as the lead singer in a casino review. The other two jobs were also singing jobs, but they didn’t seem as secure or promising as the steady 3-month gig. Also, I have to admit that it appealed to me that I would be the “star” of the show (I figured that would look good on my resume!).

Well, the casino revue was a big flop… It closed after only two days. But I was fired after the first day. The producer pulled me aside after opening night (which was a disaster), and told me that I was being replaced. He told me they were going to rework the show overnight, rehearse the next day, and that they would have one more chance to save the show. They were replacing me with a singer from Vegas, in the hopes that they could save the show.

The following day, most of the other cast members avoided me, feeling awkward, I think, because I had been the only one fired. The youngsters in the group (most of the dancers were in their early 20s) wouldn’t talk to me. The older cast members, the ones in their 30s, were more philosophical. They had been through this scene before. “That’s show biz,” said one of them.

I sought out Daniel, a dancer I had made friends with. We had driven the 400 miles to this gig together and so we had kind of a bond. “You can tell me the truth, Daniel,” I said to him. “You’ve been in this business a long time. Is it me? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Am I not talented enough? Am I too old?” (I must have sounded pathetic!)

Daniel took a deep breath and looked straight at me. “You sing like a veteran professional. You carry yourself like a veteran professional. But… let me put it this way… You’re not tall enough, blonde enough, or busty enough.” Oh.

So I did the reworked show with the crew the second night, while they waited for my replacement to arrive. I fought tears the whole time, but I got through it. It was the single-most humiliating experience of my professional life. I felt old, dowdy, washed-up. I felt like I was in a bad movie. The show still sucked, and the show was canceled anyway… even after my replacement stepped in.

Two days later I drove back to Reno with Daniel, both of us stunned. Neither of us knew what we were going to do next. Both of us were filled with self-doubt. Daniel continued on to his home in Las Vegas and I knocked on my old roommate’s door, suitcases at my feet: “I’m ba-ack.”

I was so despondent that I did not leave the apartment the entire next week. I was too embarrassed and upset. I didn’t even go to the gym. I didn’t want to face anybody and be asked what I was doing back in town so fast. I just sat in the apartment and strung beads and made spider web designs with them.

Once a day, I would drag myself out of the apartment and walk across the street to sit on the rocks next to the river. I would sit on a rock and watch the Truckee River flow along. I would just sit there and watch, for an hour or two.

I would watch the river keep going… day in, day out, sunny days, cloudy days… it just kept going at a steady pace. I noticed how easily the water maneuvered around rocks and trees that had fallen into its course. It just continued to flow over, under, and around all obstacles. Effortlessly and painlessly. Its map changed continually… not only daily, but minute by minute. I watched the river keep on flowing with graceful motion.

The river knew exactly where it was going and so I asked it, “Can I sing? Am I on the right path? Am I fooling myself?” The river would keep on flowing and one day I understood its answer: “Just watch me! Pay attention! I will show you…”

The Truckee River flows right through the middle of downtown Reno. It’s a small river, which flows from Lake Tahoe, high up in the mountains, to ancient Lake Pyramid, which is a remnant from an inland sea.

The river became my friend. We would talk to each other. The river would reassure me when I was on the right path, and it would correct me when I got off the path, too. Like when I took the casino revue job in the first place… That would have been a terrific gig for a show singer, but that’s not me. The river reminded me to stick to my treasure map — that of an original artist and writer.

And so this is the song that was written on the rocks beside the river: Prayer at the Truckee River.

Read the lyrics: Prayer at the River lyrics

(c) copyright Genie Webster 2011. All rights reserved.

On Kali, Goddess of Destruction

Sooner or later, we come to understand Kali, the goddess of destruction and purification.

Like most women, I have resisted getting to know the energy of Kali because I was, and wanted to be… “nice.” Kali is not always nice, but she is always effective.

The first time I looked unwaveringly straight into the face of Kali — the first time I did not run to avoid the intensity of her energy — was at a gathering of twelve women at a spiritual retreat. It was called the “Women’s Wisdom Council” and we all had the opportunity to move beyond our limited perceptions of wisdom during that weekend (and hopefully beyond).

One of the women at the gathering insisted on recognizing and expressing the Kali energy present in the group. Leah was intense. Since I already knew Leah well, I trusted her wisdom in this matter, both from my experience with her good judgment and from my gut feeling. A lot of the other women were not so trusting.

Leah is a black woman, and she wanted the rest of us (all whites) to look at and acknowledge the rage within some of our black sisters. She described it as Kali energy, and tried to help us understand that it was ultimately purging and ultimately loving — necessary for the transformation of our society.

About three of the women in the group were openly opposed to allowing Leah’s open expression. They were offended that the “niceness” of the weekend was being threatened. They would rather keep things light and wanted to drop the topic.

Leah held her ground and refused to be dismissed, no matter how indignant and skillfully articulate the opposition became. I stepped forward to support Leah’s position and another woman joined us.

Three of us wanted to allow Leah to tell her story, and three were vehemently opposed. The remaining six women were noncommittal.

So here we were, a group of women on a spiritual retreat, at which one of the objectives was to build community among us… and we were bitterly divided. All because most of us were uncomfortable with Kali-type energy.

Unfortunately, there was no resolution by the end of the weekend. Many of the women grumbled that the retreat had been ruined for them. They had felt uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, was rejoicing because I had a breakthrough in understanding the energy of Kali. I finally “got it.” She is the loving destroyer. She is necessary for transformation.

It is easy to accept the concept of a goddess as a nurturer, a healer, or one of the muses of nature. It’s not so easy to accept a goddess as a destroyer.

Most of us live removed from nature, cut off from the experiences that constantly remind us that every act of creation is also an act of aggression. To plant a garden, you must dig out the weeds, crush the snails, thin the seedlings as they reach towards the light… Creation postulates change; and any change destroys what went before.  (Starhawk)

Until a woman is comfortable with and understands Kali energy, she is handicapped in fulfilling her potential. Because “nice” does not always survive. And we want to stay in the game. Even a dolphin is not always “nice,” and will kill when required (see On The Strategy of the Dolphin).

Gut-level anger can be a good thing. However, it can be scary because we associate anger with violence. Again, some wisdom from Starhawk:

It is a survival emotion, a warning that something in our environment is being threatened. Danger triggers a physical, psychic, and emotional response that mobilizes our energy to change the situation… Anger becomes a connecting force that spurs honest confrontations and communications…

Anger is not to be confused with temper. Anger is an honest emotion, even if we’re not always angry for the reason we think we are; temper is childish and often manipulative. Nor should Kali energy be confused with senseless acts of violence — that is unleashed fear. Kali’s energy comes from a necessity to transform. “This has got to go,” she says, and makes good on her promise.

Mother Nature is intimate with Kali and depends on her energy when radical change is required. Kali’s energy is behind earthquakes, floods, volcanoes… all transformative earth changes. “You’re out of balance,” she warns. “We need to make adjustments, fast.” We don’t always understand the necessity behind Kali’s destruction. But surely, Mother Nature must know how to heal herself, and we’ve got to respect that.

I called upon Kali when it was time to close my business after 13 years of being a slave to it. It was not going to die naturally. It had developed a life of its own. So I had to kill it. This act of destruction was against my nature… Kill something I had created out of nothing? I needed help.

So I called upon the spirit of Kali. I trained my mind to be brave and think in a new way. learned how to be effective, while not necessarily being “nice”… totally removed from my comfort zone.  But I got it done… I killed my business in order to make space for my transformation into an artist. It was the right thing to do for my soul.

Sometimes things can evolve gradually and predictably — as in the leaves on the trees that change through the seasons. But sometimes a leap in evolution is required. That’s where Kali comes in.

Kali is involved when a flash of insight occurs, shattering some tightly-held familiar beliefs. “Can we get past this?” she asks, “Or would you like to continue getting pounded on the head until you wake up?” You can choose to ride the wave of transformative energy, or stay stuck in resistance and rutsville.

I’ve made friends with Kali and the dolphins, and I’m glad they’re in my corner!

UPDATE: Here is an excellent article on Kali energy with relation to US elections https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/kali-takes-america-im-with-her-vera-de-chalambert/

July 1, 2011

The PIA* Quotient

Filed under: Business,Temenos Journal — by Genie Webster @ 2:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I was a band leader, I didn’t always choose the most talented musician to be part of any given music project. There are many aspects to consider… musicianship, experience, charisma, reliability, and that hard-to-define aspect which I call the PIA* quotient.

This same aspect is applicable in choosing players for any team… be it a creative team, business team, volunteer team, medical team, etc. etc.

Is the team member needy, always looking for attention? Do they often stir up tension or drama? Do they have a disruptive significant other or other baggage that comes with the package? Do they know how to behave in a professional situation? Do they do their homework? Do they read their emails? Do they require handholding? Do you like to hang out with them? Or… are they a PIA?

Most people can be a PIA now and then… I know I can be one sometimes. That’s where the quotient part of this aspect comes in. On a scale from one to 10, what is a potential team member’s PIA quotient.? Hopefully, with me, it is only a one or a two (sometimes higher, I admit).

If a person is highly qualified otherwise, and their PIA quotient is in the mid-range, like three to six, then they are still coachable (usually). A patient mentor can usually help improve a protegé’s PIA quotient.

However, I have concluded that it is just not worth the price in aggravation and disruption to hire a team member with a high PIA quotient. Not unless there is absolutely no one else available.

*PIA = Pain In the Ass

(c) copyright 2010

June 18, 2011

On Speaking Truth to Power

anitahillquote

I was spellbound by the Anita Hill hearings regarding the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court. I watched it every minute that I could be in front of the TV. To me, it was a bizarre drama that was being played out live in front of the entire nation (this was before “reality TV”). I knew this was was an important moment in our society.

I admit that I became fascinated with the cartoon-like drama being enacted by members of the senatorial committee, and the whole event had a big impact on me.

The senators were being confronted with having to deal with a woman who was not going to back down from her assertion of the truth. It was as if they had never confronted a situation quite like this before. And Anita came across with such dignity, intelligence, and grace… that the contrast caused the senators to come across as cartoon-ish caricatures of themselves.

Only Joe Biden stood out as human and real, from my perspective. If only he had been a stronger, more powerful influence in those days…

Orrin Hatch came across as sinister and adversarial, and Arlen Specter could have been cast as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham–he had that creepy vibe (at least on camera).

I remember thinking to myself, “These are our nation’s leaders??” What a bunch of pompous clowns. I couldn’t believe there was so much drama and posturing. I wondered why they just didn’t put on their white wigs and robes and admit that they were just going through the motions to make it appear as if they were giving Anita Hill a fair hearing. The decision had already been made by the powers-that-be to discredit her.

Anita Hill came across as real. She remained consistent and solid and her testimony rang true. I believed her then and I still do.

I remember when Anita Hill appeared at a big fundraising event in Cleveland in 1992. She appeared on the bill with Gloria Steinem and Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop chain. My then teen-aged daughter Melody and I went downtown to the Cleveland Music Hall to hear these prominent women speak.

They were all inspiring. But Anita Hill’s message was the most specific: “Speak out about your truth.” She said things would never change if we allow the truth to be swept under the carpet. “Speak out,” she kept saying. “You may pay a price, but the price is worth it.”

It was an important affirmation for me, as I was beginning a big transition in my life (although I did not know it at the time). I think Anita’s influence may have had an impact on my daughter, too, who courageously continues to speak out about the truth.

I was so impressed by Anita Hill that I bought a bumper sticker for my car, “I believe you Anita.” I didn’t know how else I could support her other than by sharing some of the heat.

Six years after the hearings, my hero wrote a book, Speaking Truth to Power. The book is about her experience before, during, and after the hearings. It goes a long way in helping the public get to know Anita Hill, and to better understand her motives in standing up for the truth, despite the punishment she had to endure for bucking the white male system (at the time).

She came forward with information that she, as a citizen, felt was vital in assessing Clarence Thomas’s character. If only Clarence Thomas had come forward with (something like): “I understand how my actions may have been construed as offensive or disrespectful. I will make amends for those past actions and I will be more conscious of being more respectful moving forward.” But, of course, he denied any responsibility at all. Even worse yet — Clarence Thomas, along with the senatorial committee — tried to get him off the hook by bullying the witness and trying to discredit her character.

Many of us can identify with Anita Hill. Our confrontations with denial systems may be on a much smaller scale, but the courage required to stand your ground despite punishment and attempts to discredit you is just as real. It astounds me to see the lengths to which some people will go to defend their version of reality, and how threatened they feel when challenged.

I am grateful to Anita Hill for telling her story, and for inspiring others to have the courage to stand up for their own truth.

I caught Anita on “Bookwatch” on C-Span when the book Speaking Truth to Power
came out in 1997. The interviewer asked her if she could ever forgive Clarence Thomas. She paused thoughtfully, then answered, “I’m not necessarily looking for an apology, but I would like some sort of acknowledgement that he understands what he did to my life by calling me a liar in front of the entire nation.”

I believe you, Anita.

June 8, 2011

The Weiner Admission

What strikes me about the Weiner Admission is how childish this guy is. No, he did not break any law (I don’t think). I don’t know if he broke any rules job-wise.

But he certainly revealed his true character. He certainly revealed what he focuses his mind on in his spare time (seems to have a lot of spare time, doesn’t he?)

It’s one thing to be emotionally immature… that’s his and his family’s problem. What concerns me is that I wonder if Mr. Weiner has control over his impulses. Shouldn’t he be focusing on his job? If he can’t control his impulses in his personal life… will he be able to control his impulses while he is representing the people of his district?

It all comes down to the Peter Pan Syndrome, which was explained in the 1983 book, The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up, by Dr. Dan Kiley.

The Peter Pan syndrome is a desire to remain young emotionally, and not face the responsibilities of being a grown-up. It’s like being in a juvenile rut. Although not wanting to grow up is usually a normal part of the adolescent mindset, it can become a problem if Peter Pan continues to shun adulthood emotionally in his “grown-up” years. He would rather… play.
 
Wendy: I guess it becomes clearer when you grow up.
Peter Pan: Well, I will not grow up. You cannot make me!
 
 

Hook: If I were you, I’d give up!
Peter: If you were me… I’d be ugly!

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