People Power and Women

 

 

Finally my series on women’s issues and my people power posts converge as I reach the point of advocating an overthrow.  Time for women to use their power to take charge.  Not just beg for an equal place in the patriarchy.  Overcome the patriarchy.

The last post I wrote in the Women series explored the exploitation of women in the sports world, with a long look at the Larry Nasser disaster at MSU and in U.S. Gymnastics.  The more I examined the shocking degree of sexual abuse happening across the country from early school through college and on into professional sports, the more dismayed I became at the lack of real protest.

When I talked to various women about the enormity of the problem, they were all distressed but also shrugged and assured me nothing would happen “because it’s sports…”  The  attitude from other feminists shocked me even more than realizing we have an epidemic of sexual abuse against women in the sports world (and of course beyond).

It was the first moment I began to understand how deeply immersed in the patriarchy we are.  Men can molest and abuse women starting in middle school and it’s not only covered up but only the parents of those molested protest.  Surprisingly the Moms are not sufficiently outraged by the treatment of girls to withdraw their children from sports activities.

At MSU women students did not immediately transfer in protest.  Parents did not take their daughters out of the school or refuse to allow girls to apply.  Other than some editorial letters and outraged phone calls I could find no sign of any large scale protest at MSU demanding policy changes and assurances of protection for the women who attend the school.

No parents organized a boycott of all MSU sports until action is taken.  Nothing.  Not even the parents of girls think girls count enough compared to male sports figures to stand up for them.  I could find not a single news story in the entire country about parents organizing any kind of major protest or boycott at any level at any school where widespread sexual abuse had been reported.

I haven’t stopped reeling at the comprehension of how very little value we women have in this society, even among women.

In the meantime, I watched the #metoo movement catch on and listened skeptically as various women talked about how we’d never go back now.  Been there, seen that in the ’70’s.  We thought the tide had forever turned.  Until we realized it turned back the other way.  By a year or so after the wave of “Me Too’s” peaked I started hearing about Wall Street firms stopping the hiring of women in order to avoid harassment claims.  T.V. sets where women complained of harassment and producers failed to even report the claims.

Oh boy are we deep in the patriarchy.

Then I read an amazing article, Men are 100% Responsible for Unwanted Pregnancies.  Step by step the author goes through an eye opening litany of the ways in which men are responsible.  Starting with the fact that women are only fertile about 24 days a year compared to a man’s 365 day fertility.  In wanted pregnancies, there is an agreement and both are participating in a decision.  In unwanted pregnancies there is at least a failure to prevent and at worst a cavalier irresponsibility on the part of the man who is inevitably part of the equation. Moving on to the horrible side effects of birth control pills compared to the relative ease of using condoms or getting a (reversible) vasectomy.  Well, please read the article in full.

Again I was left reeling at the depths of the patriarchy.

Even the Women’s Movement has failed us here in my opinion.  The strident insistence on protesting and taking stands about abortion is in itself a patriarchal position.  By fighting about abortion and women’s right to choose after they’re already pregnant, we completely sidestep around the real issue and behave as if women get pregnant by themselves.

If men were held responsible for their “boys will be boys” mentality and held to account for failure to take all precautions to avoid causing a pregnancy, abortion would not even be an issue.  Give men jail time and big fines for causing unwanted pregnancies and there wouldn’t be any.  End of abortion problem.  Should suit both the pro- and anti-abortion factions.  Yet no one even raises the possibility.

Because the patriarchy has such an insidious hold even feminists don’t really see it.

When I look at the years since we first took off our bras and marched around for women’s rights in the 70’s, I see:

  • no Equal Rights Amendment
  • women making less pay than men across the board
  • women being assaulted and raped while men for the most part go unpunished
  • men who truly do not understand why they should be punished
  • women coping with issues of pregnancy as if men have nothing to do with it
  • men getting away with abuse, inhumanity and heartlessness while exercising control over everything to see it doesn’t change

The more I look, the more I’m ready to take a radical leap.  It’s time for women to stop begging for a few more places at the table of patriarchy.  It’s time for us to quit hoping to be taken seriously enough to get paid the same.  It’s time for us to quit letting boys and men off the hook for sexual violence against women.

We need the feminine.  We need humanity and compassion.  When women rule, education, care, kindness ensue.  Men aren’t going to give it to us.  Men will fight for us not to have it.  It’s time to take over.

Yup, it’s time for women to revolt.  It’s time to quit messing around about equality in their world and in terms of what they’re wiling to “let” us have and be.  It’s time for women to take charge.  Question is, how many women are ready?  #WomenRevolt #BurnthePatriarchy #WomensRevolution

The Women posts:

People Power posts:

 

@Alyssa_Milano @marwilliamson @ewarren @GloriaSteinem @TaranaBurke @angelajdavis @scotusginsburg @Oprah @TheGirlMalala @MichelleObama @jameelajamil @justinbaldoni @MargaretAtwood @EmmaWatson @rgay @EverydaySexism

People Power: politics and changing the cultural base line

The deeper I move into this People Power series the more I realize how much we need a shift in our basic thinking on multi-levels and in multi-arenas.  Watching Marianne Williamson’s much-needed voice shaking up the political arena is fueling my sense of “time for change” even more. It’s time for us to take power back from global corporations and unscrupulous politicians and she’s calling out the need for these changes.

Her candidacy has left me doing a lot of deep ruminating.  Starting with the fact I’ve never particularly liked her.  And note I’m NOT saying I DIS-like her.  My instincts for which teacher or which book is for me are spot on and I just never felt drawn to her… for ME.  And I admit I’ve always pick up a frisson of something in her demeanor or energy that leaves me uneasy.

So I’m not an enthusiastic supporter of her as president.  But I’m an enthusiastic supporter of her important voice staying in the race long enough to start moving the conversation in the direction it needs to go. As far as her ultimately being the candidate, still mulling.

There’ve been a few really good articles about the importance of the conversation she keeps inserting into the political arena.  In this article in Harper’s Bazaar by Kerry Pieri, the writer asserts, “Williamson is trying to teach us that our mind-set needs a new baseline, one of true empathy…” And she argues this is so important in these times that people need to stop calling her crazy for trying to talk about love and peace.

And Erica Ariel Fox, in a Forbes article discusses how much we need to re-insert soul and spirit into our politics, telling Democrats they should learn from her.

The switch to moving from fear and war as our base of operations to love and peace is key and crucial but not the only one we need to make.  From our unconscious consuming habits to our reliance on federal government instead of moving to local power to our blindness to the power of corporations over our lives and our world, we need radical change in our base line of thinking.

And I”m thankful Marianne Williamson is standing up there, bravely facing ridicule, and loudly advocating positions we are not used to hearing from politicians.  These conversations need to become part of the cultural base line and consciousness in order for we the people to assert our power.

@MarianneWilliamson @2020Marianne

The People Power Series:

 

Circling back to Yoga Nidra

Long ago I wrote about a year of yoga nidra practice and my ongoing love of it.  At the time I began, the lingering effects of chronic fatigue still left me exhausted a good deal of the time and the “sleep” impact intrigued me.

The practice indeed helped remarkably with the constant fatigue and after the year I moved to spending more time on energy-building practices like Flying Crane Chi-Gung, the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites.  I still slipped yoga nidra in here and there but it became ever more sporadic.

As I struggle with the big shifts I’ve been trying to make, added to years of sleep deprivation due to my muscles, fatigue is more of a problem again and it finally occurred to me to circle back to yoga nidra.  In the time since I first began I’ve fallen in love with the short version on my preferred recording, Swami Janakananda’s Experience Yoga Nidra[On other recordings I’ve tried the long version isn’t as complete as this one and the short version is completely different]

I’ve hit the point in the shift where I’m finally getting up close to the time I’m aiming for, but then wandering around in a fog for hours as I’ve never had enough sleep (and I gather my internal clock hasn’t adjusted…).  So later in the morning I’ve been frequently doing one of the two versions of yoga nidra and it’s definitely helping by restoring some rest as advertised.

Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice and the claims regarding sleep equivalence vary widely.  Initially I was told that the long, 45 minute version equaled 6 hours of sleep, or 2 hours per 15 minutes.  Since then I’ve seen it estimated at more like 1 hour per 15 minutes and I’d say that corresponds more to my experience.  And there are other claimed variations from less to more.  At this point I usually say the long one equals 3 hours and the short, 20 minute, version nets around an hour.

I also love the practice (1) because there are a LOT of fast-moving instructions and if you want to experience all of it you really have to stay mindfully with it.  I’d say the year I spent practicing daily did more to help my mindfulness capacity than any mindfulness meditation I ever did and (2) because as your energy follows the flow you experience your whole body, shifting emotional states, chakras, connecting with nature and more, I feel a greater sense of detachment from my ordinary self than anything else has provided me.

I also like it because my low back has issues with sitting meditation practices and for yoga nidra you’re SUPPOSED to be lying down.  Yea!

In 30+ years of learning, doing and often discarding practices, I’d say this one ranks as one of my total faves.  There are some others I cycle in and out of, like the energy practices named above.  And yoga, of course, has remained a constant since I took my first class starting in July, 1986.

If you have any issues with being sleep deprived and/or fatigued, I highly recommend this.  Or if you need help with relaxation.  Or mindfulness.  What can I say, it’s an amazing practice! And I’m so happy to have cycled back to it.

Growing Pains?

In my last post, I was feeling a little down about my struggles with making a huge schedule change.  I’m happy to report I was soon back on track but I have to tell ya, shifting your entire schedule by several hours is harder than it sounds.

Right now I’ve landed in a place where I’m routinely somewhere in between the schedule I’m aiming for and the schedule I used to have.  I’m counting that as progress and an accomplishment.  But this in between place also has some issues.

Way back when school and then working outside the home forced a schedule on me, I routinely had to get up anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. in order to get ready and accomplish whatever commute required.  I’ve always been a night owl, so pretty much every night I was awake till midnight or one, slept till the alarm dragged me up and headed off.

Lots of coffee all day long helped me to pretend I had energy.  Weekends contained many extra hours of sleep, trying to catch up.  While many things contributed to chronic fatigue for me, I’m quite sure many years of sleep deprivation is one of the threads.  Once I no longer worked on somebody else’s hours, my pretty natural schedule was more or less 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.  But when a combination of kundalini, prana bursts and wild muscle activity started interfering regularly with sleep over some years that schedule slowly morphed to being awake often until 4 a.m. or 5 (and sometimes beyond) and sleeping until 12 or later.

I’ve hated that for many reasons, especially in winter and even more this past winter when night vision problems kept me from driving after dark.  But as long as the muscles mostly ruled my schedule and kept me utterly exhausted I didn’t feel up to trying to wrestle the schedule back.

Now that I’m back feeling quite a bit better and with restored determination, the old 1-9 a.m. seemed attractive and that’s my aim.  Oy, though, trying to shift that much while also changing liquid schedule to stop drinking anything several hours before bed has been far more huge than I imagined.  And yes, the muscles in my faces haven’t finished with me; some nights are impossible…

When I can get to the 1-9, many things have a natural spot and I can see how the schedule will work well, but this in between moment makes it so awkward!  While I long to complete the shift to the new dream schedule, right now I just try to take a breath and appreciate how much I’ve accomplished so far.

I love having extra hours of daylight.  I love being ready to head out for errands earlier.  I love having time to take a nap (so far it’s been easier to get up earlier than to make myself sleep earlier) and still have hours of light left to enjoy.

Just thought I’d let you know I’m done whining… for now 🙂

Hello Coyote

That ol’ trickster coyote showed up within a couple of days of my Determined Again post.  In the last 10 days or so muscle yanking left me with about 3 hours of sleep 5 times and another night a sudden 2 a.m. allergy attack deprived me of some more hours.

For the most part I’ve been pleased that, in spite of the disruption and sleeping later than the plan in order to sleep at all, I’ve still managed to drag up earlier than I had been.  It’s left the whole plan about early rising and re-doing the whole schedule of meals and drinking various things still constantly shifting instead of settling into the routine for which I long.

And today after 3 hours again and a number of things that went sideways, I finally threw up my hands on trying to force the new schedule.  It’s past 11:30 p.m. and I just finished by daily cup of turmeric ginger tea and am still sipping water, the final touch on a day of watching my new schedule go down the drain.

I knew when I started this shift it would be challenging given the muscle unwinding process has still not finished, but the muscles gave me a break in the first couple of weeks of the venture and I felt cautiously optimistic about succeeding sooner than I’d assumed.

Through much of the week I managed to remind myself I was still being earlier and managing a number of items on the shift to earlier list — if not as early as desired or even at consistent times, at least everything was in fact earlier.

I know with some sleep I’ll be in a better frame and one day of sideways won’t change the general trend,, but right now feeling a little down and very tired of coping with all this…

Determined again

In my younger days, determination was a fairly central feature of my personality.  I remember a long ago boyfriend telling me it was amazing how I would just decide I wanted to know how to do something and go about learning it.

The long journey through health problems eroded that determination and during these recent years when my muscles pretty much took control I seemed to lose that “now I’m gonna do this” spirit as to everything but healing.

There are ways in which the sidetrack into a life operating in some aspects out of my control was a good and necessary thing as I’d always been too in control.  I’ve learned a lot about letting go over years of having muscles operating on their own volition and on their own time schedule.  But sometimes it felt a bit like I wasn’t me any more; while in many ways that was a needed too, it also felt left me feeling lost.

Over the last couple of years as more energy and stamina have returned, I’ve been slowly picking up threads on getting things done.  And recently I’ve moved forward in a firm decision that muscles or no, it’s time to get some control over my schedule again.

With a caveat about surrendering to the muscles when they decide to do their thing, I started shifting my crazy sleep schedule.  Around the same time I also realized drinking too much liquid late at night interfered with staying asleep for long enough stretches, so I also started working on a hugely shifted schedule of when I drink what.  And then saw the sleep and drinking schedules impact one another a lot and the two wind up impacting just about everything.  So many things to shift!

So I’m setting an alarm for 3 hours earlier than when I’d been getting up and setting an alarm to signal when it’s time to turn all devices off and move to bed. Not actually getting up when the alarm goes off, but I’m up quite a lot earlier than before.  And working my way through the times many things need to happen through the day.

I know to most people these are small things, easily controlled, but for me, after years of being totally out of step with “normal” hours because of my muscles and fatigue, it has felt SO good to take charge and push for a big change.  Helps the muscles are somewhat cooperating. A couple of nights a week are lost which throws me off schedule, but I’ve even been managing to be earlier on those days.  And I can see the muscles and healing had to reach at least this stage of doneness for me to have the oomph to do this.

It’s clear it will be a while before I get everything moved to my ideal schedule but just operating on the determination to be earlier in everything and managing to accomplish a degree of it feels major.

It feels like me again.  A better, calmer, kinder me.  But me.  Maybe me 2.0?  Or maybe after all the transitions, me 10.1???

Getting Bigger

Many years back my insightful acupuncturist, Raymond Himmel (still practicing in Mill Valley, CA for anyone near enough) commented, “You know it’s okay for you to be big,” as he popped another needle in.  Me holding back my bigness in one way or another has come up often over many years on this journey and among my various spiritual teachers and alternative health practitioners, he was not alone in perceiving and pointing out that issue.

Over the years I’ve done lots of work around the ideas of making myself small and fear of being big, from digging around in the issue to release work to efforts at changing my negative thought patterns, particularly those I see as keeping me small.  For me it’s one of those major, pervasive issues with tendrils, and I imagine I will be circling back to it for the rest of at least this lifetime.

Years ago I understood the tight muscles all over my body created a defensive system almost like having body armor under the skin.  More recently, as the final throes of unwinding in my face move through, I’ve been also understanding the same tightness as part of being small.

In my early yoga training, my teacher talked to us quite a bit about how we can see many things about our personalities and our ways of being in how we feel about postures, and in our relationship with the difficulty or easiness of various postures.  I, for instance, did forward bend stretches with ease from the beginning.  An indicator of introversion or inwardness.

Back bends, on the other hand, were a strain.  Initially I could barely lift an inch off the floor into a cobra pose  An indicator of being afraid to be open and exposed in the world.  I didn’t exactly mind doing them but they were hard for me.  Since I knew being more open in the world was an issue, I concertedly kept working at back bends.

My ability to move farther into postures like cobra improved in a complementary fashion with my becoming more outward in the world.  Those are just a couple of examples, but it’s a lesson I’ve always carried and reflected upon periodically.  So as my head has finally opened up significantly the import of the squeezed up muscles became a subject of contemplation.

Increasingly I’ve understood that the super tight squeezing in all the muscles in my head and face (I’ve described it as feeling like a vice grip that could squeeze to the max from every direction) served to keep me small.  And as the muscles have opened up– and opened more of my body as the patterns in my head connected into and held up patterns all the way down — the feeling of being bigger has grown.

A few weeks ago while following along to one of Steve Nobel’s great meditations I suddenly opened into a sense of a big space in me while receiving a message that it’s time to be big, to let myself be all I came here to be.  For most of this journey I’ve  had visions occasionally of me in a much bigger, more out there life and, while excited, my main reaction has always been that it’s too grandiose, too much for “little ol’ me” to imagine I could be and do all that.  Without the opening in my muscles, I don’t think I could feel the bigness as I now do.

For the first time I felt this really big, impactful life truly is the one I came here to live.  I’ve been naming some well known teachers and saying I feel like I belong on the same stages they’re on.  This isn’t a sudden complete transformation.  Any given day (or even time of day) you could find me feeling anxious about stepping out like that or tearing up because it seems like too much.

But the rest of the time I’m mulling it and taking it in and telling myself, as Raymond so long ago told me, “It’s okay to be big.”