more power!!!*

American culture is obsessed with “power.” In politics, business dealings, weight lifting, visualizations, sacred circles, sex, pickup trucks, vitamins, parenting, love, torque, tools, speed boats, chain saws, intention, foods, drugs. Everything.

Everything except authentic power.

Marianne Williamson said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

The dictionary definition of power is the ability to act or accomplish something. I postulate that one exerts self-discipline in order to prepare for power. Hence, the word: disciple. This takes intention and consistent effort.

Control, exploitation, domination, manipulation are not interchangeable with power regardless of what the current paradigm posits. The former attributes are cold, narrow, “myth-of-scarcity-“ish and dis-integrated.

Power, on the other hand, can be tranquil, transmits by being, allows, has faith in and is integris with all of Self. It’s more about letting go not grasping. Control consists of constraint or supremacy over something or Self. Power inspires and influences; control dominates and bullies. The more control you brandish, the less actual power.

To confuse and misuse your power for selfish reasons, for greed, sex, money or out of fear is odious. More than just the physical and/or psychological damage it causes, it destroys trust. Not only to the victims but just as importantly, belief in one’s Self. These actions close doors to healing, spirituality, love. This is the archetype of the dark wizard, black magic, representative of those who don’t trust in their power as it is but believe the myth that one has to augment it (become controlling) or cheat to “win.”

But there’s the rub: “winning” is one of the biggest lies most of us don’t question. There is no actual WIN; there just IS. Yet people believe they can get the things they want by managing any challenge and controlling all aspects of it. When it doesn’t go their way, they get frustrated, blame someone/something and give up. What doesn’t appear to occur to them is that the only true way to claim their power is to align with their “higher” Self and… let go. Unfortunately, you can’t choose a choice you don’t see.

What can work?—in the genuine way of how things work, which is not foolproof? Like attracts like, a universal law of great magnetizing force. For instance, the healer’s power comes from seeing the wound, “matching” it in vibration (whether through talk, Reiki, herbs, acupuncture, homeopathic remedies or drugs, etc.) and harmonizing that vibration up to health.

We’re most effective when we engage in the “effortless effort” of focusing on the present moment, participating in the process—or with the person—while simultaneously holding the aim, but “out of sight” because it distracts us from the NOW. True triumph rarely comes from zeroing in on the win. Most champions, all holistically successful people have a “personal best” goal, not a competitive one.

Control steals our energy, obliterating the NOW. Real power resides in the Present, and in being present.

*(“Tim Taylor” of Home Improvement)

now we’re cooking with gas(lighting)

Francesco Pirrone

Anyone aware of the psychological term, “gas-lighting?” This is a common practice used by deceptive partners to control—actively or passive aggressively—a “situation,” which usually means the actual person, in order to cover their tracks so they don’t get caught at some hidden behavior or stealthy agenda and/or to get their partner to doubt her-Self and question what she sees or knows.

He can dismiss or discount what she feels by flat-out lying to her, say one thing then do another, discharge violent or semi-violent episodes around her, deny definite words spoken or behavior she saw him do and much more until the tortured partner can’t relax in herself or in the relationship. If the woman protests she’s often criticized as “too sensitive” “hostile” “crazy” “ranting” etc. The problem is that the ‘victim’ begins to believe him. I say ‘him’ as this behavior is profoundly lopsided when it comes to gender.

The difficulty with lies, especially multi-layered long term secrets, is that all her perceptions and feelings are dubious to her, not just the ones related to the lies. She ceases to trust herself in most interactions of life—until the miserable truth is discovered. By then it’s a long road back.

A second pitfall is the ‘victim’ might begin minor acting out due to the ‘weight’ of the unknown burden she’s unconsciously carrying. Even some couples-counselors won’t see this as his deep acting poison within her surfacing but will believe much of the responsibility for the rupture is the woman’s because his actions are hidden.

Another grave issue is that secrets can cause illness on a cellular level manifesting in chronic illness. Both for the one in control as well as the duped. Recently, there’s more research being done on the bodily harm of secrets & lies, something 12-steppers have known for years: You’re only as sick as your secrets. Carl Jung wrote:The possession of secrets acts like a psychic poison…”

There’s a big difference between privacy and secrets. Secrets are based in fear and have a foundation of shame. Privacy is more an act of choosing personal boundaries, and those are rarely hurtful to another. We all need privacy for our mental health but secrets are poisonous from the biological to the psychological. Addicts traffic in the realm of secrets as well as philanderers, abusive families, child molesters and lots more.

One major tool of the trade is gas-lighting. If you can get a person to doubt their Self, their spirit, you can manipulate and exploit them as needed. This is particularly horrible when used on children since they’re hardwired to trust.

And isn’t addiction about filling an emotional crater of emptiness, about feeling devoid in one’s true power coupled with the deluded belief that this perverted control they gain through con games and secrets is their power? I guess they get to feel “full”—for a minute.

See the polarity between power and control: more power!!!*

*photo credit: Francesco Pirrone

the trouble with having kids is that they grow up to be “people”

And…hell is other people, so says Sartre.*

The stresses of having children are not only when they’re young and you’re raising them but also as adults when they’ve developed into “other people.” That “other” is often not what we imagined when our new squirming bundle of possibility was initially cradled.

Many people think kids are born as a clean slate. Not true. They’re their own beings right from the start. They are more fluid as children—sure—and our influences do matter. As parents you can encourage or thwart, but you can’t fundamentally change.

My two adult kids are jewels; each unique with gorgeous facets which shine in their own exquisite ways—different than me. They have, do and will put themselves into “settings” I wouldn’t choose. Still lovely, just not a “bracelet” I’d buy.

When your kids are little, they don’t see you as a person in your own right, with fears and feelings; you’re an extension of them. When I work with teenagers, I deal with their parents too. My teen clients have no idea how over-anxious their parents are watching their “babies” roam away from family life into the world, often only seeing them as adults blocking their way. The inverse is true: the parents don’t see teenagers as “real” people either. They’re just kids.

IMHO, the goal of parenting is to make yourself nonessential, but not necessarily unwanted.

Your children are helpless beings at birth. You temporarily hold all the keys and all the power. Your job is to give each key back day by day, age by age until they reclaim their passkey of power.

Support yes; engage with them yes; control no. You must show yourself as a ‘person’ and relinquish ‘parent’ even if they don’t want you to. You’ve got to trust you gave them working, functional keys and then let them use them. By themselves. Without commentary, unless asked. Your time for major influence is over. [See: parenting grown-ups]

In Sartre’s play, No Exit, three dead characters find out that the afterlife is not fire & brimstone, but being locked together in a room for eternity. Once you have kids, there’s no escape from the room you entered when you birthed them, even when they’re grown up. And that’s not bad. It’s just that you don’t get to say anything.

*not to be interpreted that I don’t admire my adult kids or their choices

Fiber art: “Alchemy-Fire” by Aimee Reid-Rice



I hate surprises but I love the unknown. This isn’t a contradiction.

Most social events can make me flinch but nothing’s worse than the dreaded surprise party. This happened once when I hit a banner “decade” number but because it was exactly one of those dates that have no real validity—like agreeing paper dollars are worth more than plain paper—I knew if no one was planning something then there must be a “surprise” organized so I was ready, in response and “glee.”

Surprises are for the giver, not the receiver. The former is going for the “awesome” reaction, the acknowledgement, the glory. The recipient is supposed to feel appreciated and loved. This works best if you’re under the age of four and you still think your parents are gods, and that the world revolves around you—not the gods. Beyond that age, it just feels a bit artificial and managed.

The giver holds the power in surprise. The unknown is about trust; surprises are about control. Think practical jokes; think about the adulterating spouse. Both are about controlling timing, the other’s response and reaction and rarely there’s little merrymaking at hand, at least for the beneficiary.

The unknown can be surprising but in an open, serendipitous kind of way: anything is possible—detrimental as well as favorable—but it’s like floating down a smooth stream rather than rocky rapids. Choice is available for everyone, not just for one, and though the uncharted can make one anxious, it also is a time of great creativity.

The next time you decide to show up early, stop over without calling, pull a chair out from under someone, pay $5 to a popular sixth grader to ask a geeky fifth grader out, keep secrets from your spouse, spit in your sister’s milk or dumbfound your mate with “*A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” like a relaxing work vacation [wink, wink] at a Montana ranch or a **mass-market luxury cruise…well, think again.

*see DFW’s book entitled thus & **essay