Saturday, December 24, 2016

Back to the Goddess



Before Christ, and Christianity, there were goddess cultures. There is some speculation that the development of language in a culture lead to the demise of the goddess worship in that culture. In The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, Leonard Slain argues that learning written language, especially alphabetic language, changes the human brain in a way that emphasizes linear thinking over holistic thinking. As these changes occurred in cultures, the culture moved away from goddess worship and shifted towards a male deity. Patriarchy had to start somewhere, and this is as good a theory as I’ve found to explain this. 

I also believe that much of what passes for male and female traits is based on our brain hemispheric structure. Historically, that which is more left brain, literal, logical thinking has been assigned to male gender and that which is more right brain, creative, relational thinking, has been assigned to female gender. The thing is, though, most of us humans have both hemispheres. 

We seem to love to divide our parts up. For a while I divided up my own self into this quest for knowledge which left my body to fend for itself. And it did. It ate only when it could, since my brain did not plan out meals for it or think through what kind of nutrition it might need. It grabbed bags of mixed nuts and cartons of yogurt off the shelves and ate while sitting in classrooms. My brain told it that it didn’t need breakfast and was rarely hungry. Once I completed a couple of graduate degrees and decided that maybe my head was full enough, I took a look at my neglected body. 

The yoga practice that I had cultivated for years was long gone, as well as the circuit training and strength building I had done in my thirties and forties. I wasn’t riding bikes with my kids or taking long walks, or moving the lawn, or pulling weeds. My body became afraid to move and wasn’t eager to try to stretch again. I sat at a desk for my job, and sat for more hours in classrooms. The rise of kids getting diagnosed with attention deficit problems reinforced this idea that humans should be able to just sit around all day and take in information. Ugh. 

So what does this have to do with goddess culture? I think of goddess culture as one that nurtures body and mind, not just mind. I think of goddess culture as a way of life that embraces all of who we are, without making things separate. A way of living that is connected, my brain is connected to my body, they work marvelously together, they need each other. 

This morning, I did strength training and yoga, and ate a wonderful breakfast of sweet potato with yogurt and granola. I had to think ahead to have the food on hand that would both delight and nourish me. I’ve stopped telling myself that I don’t need breakfast. I love breakfast, and I love eating. I am learning about nutrition the way I’ve been learning so many other things, but this learning is incredibly personal, because it is about nurturing my own body. Not taking it for granted, nor looking at it as the marketing culture would have me do, but actually understanding the way this body is connected to the earth by way of what I eat and how I move. Realizing that how I am in my body, affects how I am in my mind and also in my life. How I move literally transforms how I move in the world. Strong, resilient, connected, goddess. 

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image; by American surgeon Leonard Shlain, published by Viking Press in 1998.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

You Can't Always Get

What you want, what’s that about? Seriously, what is what we want about? I’m been thinking about this lately. Thinking about what I want and how do I get what I want, and how important is this. I think it is important, and I’m not quite sure why, but it has something to do with efficacy. Efficacy literally means; the ability to produce a desired or intended result. If we don’t know what we want, how to we produce a life we desire, a life that is meaningful, intentional? 

Yet how many of us were told as we were growing up that we could indeed, have what we wanted? I know I wasn’t. I don’t even know if it was something that was possible. I rarely, if ever got what I wanted, and the one time I remember getting what I wanted, I was ridiculed over it. What I was taught, indoctrinated into really, was the idea of sacrifice. That this was the meaning of life. 

The Red Plaid Dress

When I was about 7 or maybe 8, I took the bus downtown with my mom to shop at Dayton’s department store. This was a big deal, shopping with mom was a treat, as one of eight kids, we rarely got one on one time with her. Dressing well was really important to my mom. When she was out of high school, she worked at both Donaldson's and Dayton's department stores, and knew what better dresses were. She told me often of the beautiful dresses she and her sister would buy when they were young. This was the 60's and looking well-dressed was probably the most important thing in her world. This was what the hippies soon rebelled against, and we may never again see the well-heeled world I as a youngster grew up in. 

I don’t remember the occasion, or much else about it, but I do remember trying on dresses; and then my mom asking what dress I wanted. I wanted the red plaid dress. My mom didn’t think it suited me, but I remember really wanting that dress, and so my mom broke down and bought it for me. On the bus ride home, my mother was upset that she’d let me have my way, and let me know that she thought it was a bad choice. I’d chosen the wrong dress. 

I don’t remember the actual event as much as I remember my mom telling this story about it, many times over. She was upset that she’d bought the dress for me; and then I never wanted to wear the dress, since it was associated with such bad feelings. And then, me not wanting to wear the dress, prompted the story that my mom would even tell to strangers on the bus. It seemed like that year, every time we went somewhere together, my mother would tell this story. The story about how I made such a bad choice, and how my mother bought this dress for me and then I never wore it. She would tell this story in front of me, and I would feel the pain and embarrassment, over and over again with each telling. 

So, now that my children are mostly grown, and I don’t have to devote almost all my energy to taking care of them, and I’ve worked toward a career that suits and supports me, what do I want? I feel a little trepidation even asking myself that, as if to want in and of itself is not cool. “Who me, no, I’m fine, I don’t want anything.” Cool as a cucumber in my not wanting anything. Yet this story haunts me lately, I think it has something to tell me. 

I don’t have the answers yet, on how this wanting is an important part of being human, but it’s on my mind. And I think if we let ourselves want what we want, we can be powerful in our lives. Which is yet another whole piece of the puzzle-- another emotion that we mostly don’t want children to feel: powerful. I'm relearning to let myself want what I want, to know what I want, and to feel powerful enough to believe I can have it, and then get it. We'll see where this goes. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bibliotherapy

Have you ever read a book that has changed your perspective? Maybe even changed your life? There are a few of these for me, one is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, in this book, Frankl reminds us that we always have choices, and I believe we find ourselves and create our lives by the choices we make.

A new book that is as helpful as it is beautifully written, is Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. It would make a wonderful holiday gift, for your friends, or for yourself. We all need a little advice sometimes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is this all there is?

Are you ready to start over? Ready for a change, in your marriage, in your family, in your life? Sometimes we try so hard to just make things OK, that we find somewhere down the line, that things aren't OK, and we're not even sure what OK is anymore. When you come in to talk with me, we can start with where you are and how you got there, and then by connecting to your heart again, figure out where you want to be, and where you hope to go.