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“Embracing the paradox that we simultaneously are and are not our story is precisely what enables us to keep writing new ones. My story about the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me. Of course, I sometimes spiral back into trauma; unlike the self-help pundits who say it’s possible to simply let go of the old hurts by cleansing them with a dose of love and light. I know that even as the impact fades, this experience is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

That said, healing is not a linear journey. Old trauma is wrapped up in the fabric of the new stories I’ve created for myself, and the resulting pattern is not nice and clean and neat. In fact, the deeper we all go, the messier and more chaotic it will get. It is the contrasting loops of darkness and light, life and death, defeat and triumph, that make the human story such a compelling and gorgeous one…”

 

-Kelly McNelis

(~an excerpt from ‘Women for One’ founder Kelly McNelis’s new book, ‘Your Messy Brilliance’)

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A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING -Jeff Foster

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A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING
Life,
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don’t spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
Amen.
Jeff Foster

In Praise of Slowness-Carl Honore

“Now the time has come  to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly.  Speed is not always the best policy.  Evolution works on the principle of survival of the fittest, not the fastest.  Remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare.  As we hurry though life, cramming more into every hour, we are stretching ourselves to the breaking point.

Before we go any further, though, let’s make one thing clear:  This is not a declaration of war against speed.  Speed has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating.  Who wants to live without the Internet or jet travel.  The problem is that our love of speed, our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time, has gone too far; it has turned into an addiction, a kind of idolatry. Even when speed starts to backfire, we invoke the go-faster gospel…. Yet some things cannot, should not, be sped up.  They take time; they need slowness.  When you accelerate things that should not be accelerated, when you forget how to slow down, there is a price to pay.”

Carl Honore (excerpt from In Praise of Slowness)

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“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenager girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls.

So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. It shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’  is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ’violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them. Men aren’t even a part of it.”

-Jackson Katz

I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Jackson Katz until I researched him after reading the above quote last night. A quote that to me is so incredibly profound. It highlights the need for more careful language that shifts the blame to the actual perpetrator, not the victim as regularly occurs.

What an incredible bio he has. Katz, a former football star, a TED Talk speaker, and I now know, is one of the most prominent voices in the pro-feminist men’s movement. His agenda is to educate men, particularly in college age campus settings, on what they can do to end sexual voilence.  Katz is also the co-founder of MVP Strategies (Mentors in Violence Prevention), one of the longest-running intervention training programs in the U.S. He has also created training materials for universities and school districts, NFL teams, several Major League Baseball teams, and even the U.S. Navy.

We all know that sexual voilence and harrassment isn’t a Hollywood issue. It is a societial issue that affects females from all walks of life, regardless of age, income and workplace. Perhaps the most promising thing that could come out of the Weinstein coverage is for more men to understand that harassment from males, of all ages and positions, happens to females of all ages and positions. Perhaps this nature of giving men like Weinstein a free pass will end.  It’s time to stop blaming the victims and start taking the issue seriously.

 

 

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Robert McCammon, Boy’s Life

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‘You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.’

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“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

-Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life

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“ITS ALL YOUR PROJECTION!” Erm.
No. It’s not always your projection.

Sometimes the other person
really IS angry, or sad, or scared,
or judging you.
Or lying.

Or fleeing themselves
by shaming you.

Sometimes you really CAN trust
your feeling, your gut intuition,
your instinct.

Sometimes it’s not a question of working on yourself more, clearing up your projections, but of simply standing in your truth, knowing yourself more deeply, validating your own vulnerable human experience.

And yes.
Sometimes you’re totally projecting.
Sometimes you aren’t seeing clearly at all.

Sometimes it really is YOUR anger,
sadness, fear.
It’s your own incorrect thinking.
It’s your own unmet material
thrown onto the ‘other’
(really yourself). You must look for the truth
in each and every moment.
There’s no formula. No map.

Truth is alive!

So stay mindful, present, aware.
Don’t settle for easy answers.
Be willing to LOOK.
With humble, open eyes.

– Jeff Foster

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Digital Art by Tony Ariawan

“The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible, and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us. This brings to mind the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, the stubborn, hard king who sought to ask the Immortal One the secret of life. He was told that there would be stones on his path to guide him. But in his urgency and pride, Gilgamesh was annoyed to find his path blocked, and so smashed the very stones that would help him. In his blindness of heart, he broke everything he needed to discover his way. With the same confusion, we too break what we need, push away those we love, and isolate ourselves when we need to be held most. There have been many times in my life when I have been too proud to ask for help or too afraid to ask to be held, and in the frenzy of my own isolation, like Gilgamesh, I have smashed the window I was trying to open, have split the bench I was trying to hammer, and have made matters worse by bruising the one I meant to be tender with. The live bough bends. The dead twig snaps. We are humbled to soften from our griefs, or else, in brittle time, become the next thing grieved.”

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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“Every crack is also an opening. When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually, the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world. Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles through the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment—growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking—the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn’t die, but falls into the world.”

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have