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)

ersatz-pseudo-quasi-emotions

roz-chast-updated-versions-of-the-stick-figure-smiley-s-new-yorker-cartoon

One of many problems with living within the patriarchal paradigm—be you female, male, flora or fauna—is that our emotional worlds are demoted to a second class, non-logical, weak place never to be visited. The ridiculousness of that stance can be illustrated by suggesting that eyes are superior to mouth or that fingers are better than toes. They’re all interdependent and anyone proposing that logic, without emotion, is the intelligent way to live isn’t participating in a functional relationship with themselves.

Simply put, the amygdala—part of the Limbic system—deals with fear responses, hormones, pleasure, aggression and emotional memories. The frontal lobe is equated with expressive language, motor skills, socialization, reasoning and higher level cognition like planning and impulse control. Pure intellect is unintelligible. How can the rational brain think or pursue a logical line of thought if it were not extensively in touch with our desires, fears, values, intentions?

Long-term stress predisposes changes in the amygdala and the frontal cortex which lead to anxiety and poor decision-making. This explains why decisions we make when we’re stressed out appear brilliant, but usually promise regret.

So what does this have to do with pseudo emotions? Well, if it’s unsafe to have real emotions, you’ve two basic choices: hide them or subconsciously fabricate look-alikes to appear to have them. Like Republicans who sport punk dress or the iconic wolf wearing a sheepskin or Chast’s “smileys” above, what passes for feelings in this narcissistically twisted “rational” world are head-based emotions.

All true feelings are experienced in the body.* Hence, when one is in genuine fear (not anxiety) the gut is often the physical base of fear. Love is often experienced as warmth in the stomach, not the over-sweet mind drivel that fashions fantasies of white knight heroes and male-sexualized women.

Here’s a list of ’emotions’ I believe originate in the mind and are commonly pawned off as authentic feeling:

  • sentimentality vs. love
  • doubt vs. questioning (quest)
  • guilt vs. responsibility (ability to respond)
  • duty vs. compassion
  • judgmental separation vs. personal boundaries
  • manipulation/withdrawing vs. connection
  • dread vs. fear
  • remembering vs. sensing
  • regret vs. understanding/lesson absorbed
  • victim-hood vs. hurting

Experiencing yourself as a victim is not being in your feelings. Just because you hurt doesn’t mean another has actually produced that ‘injury.’ Fear of pain is not the same thing as actual pain. An authentic threat will generate adrenaline but fear of fear is not authentic feeling, just a head-thought masquerading as emotion.

A paradigm that dismisses a cogent connection between heart and head is SO irrational that it logically could only have lead to this trashed planet forming the messy, indulgent, addicted, violent, cruel culture most of us are forced to interact with.

You’ll have to spend time rationally ruminating over the difference between real and perceived feelings since most of us are conditioned early on to ignore our physical signals in favor of head thought. We’ll need to harmonize the brain and the heart if we want accurate cognition and not ego/mind-driven lives. The body will be our guide.

*This doesn’t mean head-emotions don’t confuse or overburden the body and cause disease.

eeeeeee! it’s a spider!!! it’s a muslim!! it’s a hoodie!

Here in the “Inland Northwest” United States, Spring comes a bit later than I’d like. But all it takes is one 60 degree (15.5 C) day and the insects flutter and wriggle to life.

Based upon the accuracy of the available measurements, we can say that there are between 150 million and 1.5 billion insects for every woman, child and man: 148,574,965.09 insects per human.

Please don’t stomp, spray, poison, squish, burn them. Leave them alone or put them outside. Please! They’re necessary for the health of the planet. Your fright doesn’t give you license to kill others and this includes insects.

I realize how absurd that sounds given the state of human global warring of tribe upon tribe, country upon country, “collateral” damage, not to mention the utilitarian objectification and subsequent subjugation of animals, ditto for plants and trees, systematic destruction of plant and animal habitat for human “growth,” the war on the earth itself with fracking, drilling, mountain top removals, bulldozing…

The myth of scarcity, the anxiety of consumerism in all its manifestations of commodities and experiences, the panic of “never enough,” that someone will destroy, steal or otherwise harm you or your stuff is a driving force beneath the patriarchal paradigm. Fear is the seat of it all.

But fear cannot be the be-all-end-all. It shouldn’t trump introspection, kindness or fairness—though it does—and it’s the biggest drug pushed across the U.S. and much of the rest of the world disguised in words like: “homeland security” “health” “progress” “restoring our neighborhoods” “smart defense” “humanitarian intervention” “surge” “terrorist” “ambition.”

Don’t be fooled. Fear is behind xenophobia and homophobia, sexism and racism, all “-isms” and phobias. Phobia means fear, people; there’s a phobia for everything.

Fear doesn’t have to be the only thought, or even the first. Just because something could happen or has happened before doesn’t mean it will. Doesn’t mean your fear is rational. Justifications are just that. Rajneesh once said, “If you want security, get in the coffin.”

A man in a turban is usually just a man in a turban. A teenager in a tight skirt is still a girl. Neither is about you. If you’re afraid of the first and titillated by the second, deal with it within yourself. Don’t project your alarm or “need” outward. That’s YOURS! It’s NOT them. Difference is not an evil or an object.

If a spider crawls out from under your stove or a honey bee is working your flowers or a yellow jacket is circling your picnic or a black boy—wearing a hoodie and carrying a pack of Skittles—is walking toward you, that’s YOUR terror talking. That’s NOT reality no matter how real it feels to you.

Conceivably one day your fear of others’ power to “get” you or your goods will subside by starting small. Begin with gentleness to the ubiquitous insects by letting them exist, and move from there. Maybe then you can allow other cultures, species, people different from you to exist, too.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

wanting for want or how to find your lost self

IMG_0389

Sometimes I think of all the things I could’ve been, could’ve chosen but didn’t. Not with regretful longing but with a curiosity of what might have been if I hadn’t heard my own voice louder than society’s blitz.

Such as the night I was studying with a college mate while she bar-tended and I inadvertently met the father of my children. Or the time I nervously wrote an email to someone I’d met just once but intuitively felt compelled to know better; he’s now one of my best friends. What if I’d been too timid to email or been overly insular with that college mate?

Many adults don’t actually choose thingsat least not from the heart—because they can’t hear their Selves. They live by default, going with what’s nearest or easiest instead of from existing eagerness and, regrettably, they teach their kids the same strategy.

With my clients, the most common dilemma—besides loneliness/emptiness, which is directly tied to what I’m discussing—is that they don’t know what they really want.

It is difficult to differentiate since most aren’t raised to come from the inside out but from the outside in, becoming prey to recurrent worlds of advertising, movies, TV, etc. bombarding them with ‘wants.’ The real truth is that inauthentic wants—even if they’re great for others—will never fill that hole.

I also repeatedly encounter a cellular fear-memory of eschewing wants for dread of rejection, ridicule or even abuse; they’d learned it was safer to settle. Unfortunately, settling is like breathing through one congested nostril: you get enough air to survive but it’s not sufficient to live.

Many people ‘deep-six’ who they intrinsically are before the age of two. Later they squander large amounts of money and time traversing the world in search of the perfect place to live, the ideal mate, the extreme experience, the ‘right’ career, ad nauseum, or they suffocate their spirit with diverse addictions.

Until they can’t. That’s when they show up in my chair and devote lots of energy and years peeling off life’s opaque paint trying to uncloak their original Selves.

For this reason I routinely ask these clients to go back to childhood enthusiasms as that’s where genuine wants were abandoned for approval and/or survival. Those desires have usually changed form but the sincere yearning is ‘vibrating’ nearby.

For instance, my first encounter with art, beauty and philosophical Truth was in the catholic church and I was awed. From that, I wanted to know everything. So—at age three—I decided I wanted to be god. (I dream big) My older brothers scoffed and dismissed that idea outright and, sadly, I accepted their elder “wisdom” as impossible.

Well, they were wrong. I muffled that want for two decades, but when it resurrected—guess what? I found ‘god’ within, and she’s one voice-y little hellcat who surrounds herself with animals, flowers, art, books and music and takes big, deep non-catholic breaths.

“do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

…so says Modest Mouse, nailing his generation’s main failing, IMHO: capriciousness.

It’s not what people pronounce they stand for that I value, it’s what they actually do. And not just “right now,” but consistently. You can’t expect others to trust and believe in you, if you abandon your convictions whenever they get slightly burdensome or you compromise when you’re afraid or lackadaisical.

How many people do you know who fervently state that they’re vegetarians or never eat sugar until they’re at a potluck or restaurant with little options, those who say they only eat organic and local but usually shop at Slave-way cause it’s near their house, denounce spanking but slap their children for “talking back” or maintain that we should speak calmly with kids but scream at them for spilling their juice or coming home late?

The truth of trust lives in your actions, dependable actions. This is what makes those around you feel secure. Holding to one’s principles doesn’t mean doing so only when convenient; it’s the opposite. Courage isn’t undertaking difficult things, it’s undertaking difficult things while holding hands with your fear.

You don’t have to be perfect but you can’t be “consistently inconsistent” and call yourself integris. To be “gently” principled doesn’t have to signify fickleness only that you aren’t dogmatic or expect others to live as you do. Still, that should be the rarity, not the norm. As Oscar Wilde says, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

Personal inauthenticity is a fatal disease; it kills you one day at a time. If you say you’re going to do something, follow through. Stand on your beliefs—don’t throw a rock and hide your hand. Do what you do with passion, integrity and pluck!

the ladies’ loo, part one

disposable-toilet-seat-cover

As people mature, many realize that if they dwell on what they fear, those fears are given more power to manifest. The New Agers discuss the power of intention all the time, right? Plus fear can be contagious and infect others. Think Bush administration; think Tea Partiers.

And this is why I love paper toilet seat covers in women’s public restrooms…even though I don’t use them.

A pet peeve of mine is a curiously American fear of germs that I often encounter in a variety of manifestations. [my Italian mamma used to rail on this topic] None worse than women’s fear of “dirty” toilet seats. Gawd, have they ever been in men’s public restrooms? There’s a concrete fear for you. But I disgustedly digress.

Due to this toilet-germ-fear, countless women crouch just above the seat so none of those loathsome microorganisms can touch their tushies and thereby sprinkle said seat with urine for the next non-germaphobe to unwittingly sit upon and get her butt revoltingly wet. Those unsuspecting people are often little kids…and me.

But since the advent of toilet seat covers, I’ve hardly ever have to look at the seat before I sit because the fearful among us use the seat covers!

A product I could’ve scoffed at is now one that in the future I’ll fully squat for, with deference. If only the manufacturers would make them out of unbleached, recycled paper…