When you think about the words that you’ve seen in some girls’ bathroom stalls, what do you normally think about? Words that typically come to my mind are vulgarity, nastiness, foolishness, offensive… lots of these types of adjectives come to mind. Of course, then there are all the phone numbers revealing personal data about people who had no intention of sharing that information.
Who would think that one could receive wisdom from a girls’ bathroom stall? And yet, that’s exactly what was found in a university restroom, in response to the disclosure of some tragic and terrible life experiences, written in a single stall.
That someone took the time out to thoughtfully respond is remarkable. Her words are inspiring – for anyone.
Take a look at the story, with an image of the actual note, here.
TED.com is a website that I became acquainted with through one of my teaching colleagues. According to the website:
“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.
You can find talks about various topics, from education to religion to technology to entertainment…Lots of very intriguing speakers, some who are well-known, such as Al Gore, to less well-known people, who, in their talks, inspire us, teach us, persuade us, fascinate us…
I came across a new TED talk today that I felt I had to share. This talk was given by Tony Porter at the first TEDWomen conference held just this past month. Mr. Porter is the co-founder of A Call to Men, a non-profit organization “committed to ending violence against women.” In his presentation, he discusses the “Man Box,” and how living in the “Man Box” causes men to live in bondage to what some men think being a man is all about. He discusses how much of living in the “Man Box” leads to violence against women. Nonetheless, he concludes his talk with a profound statement of liberation that we all, men and women, must hear.
Below is the video of “Tony Porter: A Call to Men.” Play it for every man you know. But as a woman, I feel it is also a call to me – to further understand these issues so that I can understand that there are other men who are trying to break free of the “Man Box.” I need to understand these issues so that when my husband explains the “Man Box” to our daughter, that I will be able to understand right along with her.
I am the wife of a man who has long broken out of the “Man Box.” Nonetheless, let us all seek to understand the men in our lives to support them breaking out of their own “Man Box.”
Poetry slammer Katie Makkai gives voice to how we – as parents, as teachers, as those concerned with the tender hearts of our young people – should respond to the insecurities our girls carry as a result of listening to and watching what the media deems to suggest what’s right for them. It is absolutely powerful.
I’m guilty. Yes, I have talked on my cell while driving. Yes, I thought I had it under control. And while I didn’t text while driving (now THAT one I don’t quite understand), I would, periodically, start a text at a stop light, stop when I began moving, and try to continue the text at the next stop light. Yes, that, in my mind, was okay to do.
So how often do we observe cell phone use while driving? In the Atlanta area, all the time. And although inherently I believed it was a dangerous practice, I sometimes felt I had to call my husband on my way home from work, or call a friend because the 35-40 minute commute was the most convenient time to have a conversation.
That was before I watched Oprah’s episode on what Oprah refers to as “America’s New Deadly Obsession,” cell phone use while driving, when it first aired a couple of weeks ago. As I listened to the stories about people losing their lives because someone, whether it was the person killed or someone in another vehicle, was using a cell phone while driving, I was convicted. And I thought to myself, “That could’ve been me. I could’ve caused an injury or death at any time.” So I acknowledge I’ve been fortunate. My angels have been looking out for me. But after that episode, I promised I would never use my cell phone for anything as I drive.
I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I am driving. I will ask other drivers I know to do the same. I pledge to make a difference.
I know we are all busy. We try to cram as much into a day as possible, because there are ONLY 24 hours in a day. But seriously, is phone use while driving really worth the lives we put at risk when we engage in what Oprah calls “America’s New Deadly Obsession”? Is it worth your son or daughter losing their mother or father? Is it worth losing the loved ones who ride with you each day? Is it worth taking the life of someone’s daughter or son? Rhetorical. No need to answer.
Oh, by the way, check out this statistic: we are four times more likely to have an accident if driving and talk on our cell phones. That is the equivalent of a driving with a blood alcohol of .08, the limit at which one is charged a DUI. Even worse, we are eight times more likely to have an accident if we text while driving.
Unfortunately, not too long after the episode aired, it was reported that a 19-year old man sending a text slammed into a telephone pole here in Atlanta.
My parents had me when they were in their late 30s. As I grew older, I was always proud to talk about my parents’ age, because they aged so well. My mom always looked at least 10-15 years younger than she was, and she acted youthfully as well. She was so active, so vibrant – until she developed lung cancer in 2000 and passed away in 2006.
After my mom’s death, my father remained “youthful” (he also looked at least 10-15 years young than his age) and independent, in spite of him being diagnosed type-2 diabetic several years ago. He carried on well, keeping active, maintaining his friendships. Because my mother passed and my dad had no family in Milwaukee (where he lived for 60 years), I asked him to move in with my husband, daughter, and me last year. He has family down here in the Atlanta area (he is originally from the Macon, GA area), so I didn’t think it would be that major. But major it would be for him, so he decided to stay in Milwaukee. I explained to him that if he developed illness that required hospitalization or anything like that, there was nobody there to care for him, and it would be hard for me to travel to Milwaukee to take care of him. Nonetheless, my father said no to the idea, at least for the time being. I don’t blame him for his decision – 60 years is a long time to live somewhere, develop friendships, and then leave it to start over again in your early 80s. Talk about change!
With the exception of pains associated with getting older, my dad was generally healthy, at least we all thought, until August 8, 2008. It was on that afternoon, right before I was getting ready to go back to school and teach for the academic year, that I received a phone call from the hospital in Milwaukee. My dad had had a stroke that morning – a massive stroke – that caused whole left side weakness/paralysis. And it was that day that everything changed not just for him, but for us as well.
We moved my father to the Atlanta area at the end of September. He went into a “sub-acute rehabilitation facility” – code name for nursing home – to get “rehabilitated” at the beginning of October. The facility was supposed to get him strong enough where he could walk on a hemi-walker and function around our – and now his – home. Things took a turn, however, where his care began to decline and his condition began to deteriorate. My dad wasn’t himself anymore, not because of any depression or any cognitive failures (as the facility claimed). He wasn’t himself anymore because he was overmedicated.
I began to learn a lot about how our government and many nursing facilities do not care well for the elderly. My father experienced first-hand the lack of care common in nursing homes. I experienced the stress of not knowing what was really going on with him in the home. I discovered that Medicare benefits are limited, and if my dad needed further care beyond what Medicare pays for, he would have needed to qualify for Medicaid, which presents a whole set of more than just challenges and difficulties. To qualify for Medicaid he would have had to “spend down” the assets he has that can be liquidated before he could begin to get benefits, which means that essentially, he would have had to go broke, spending all of which he spent years working for, to get a measly benefit that guarantees him substandard care in a nursing home facility. What I’ve just described happens every day here in the great United States of America.
What I realize now is that I was completely unprepared for my father becoming ill to the point where he would need round the clock care. In fact, I would watch news reports of elder abuse in nursing homes, or reports of the difficulty of growing old, and not really see my father in that same position. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I had always wanted to remember my dad as being the fun, independent person he always had been, and that desire to remember the good prevented me from seeing that anything could happen.
So if you have aging parents, please take steps to prepare for the possibility that your loved one could get ill, and you are responsible for caring for him or her. What are those steps? My husband, Manchild, discovered a wonderful blog, A Caregiver’s Journal, where Valerie posts about issues related to becoming a caregiver for a loved one. It’s a great blog, and Valerie provides so much great information about this so very important topic. She says, “One of the reasons I blog about caregiving is to encourage people to prepare in advance for their aging family members.”
I’d like to direct you to peruse the entire blog, but take a look especially at “Caregiving for Aging Parents Can Catch You Off Guard,” where Valerie gives us advice on how to prepare for this life changing event. It’s a great article, and provides a good place to start. Then go through the rest of the blog. Valerie talks about the issue from the perspective of one who is going through it. And she has taken the time (I don’t know how) to regularly share with her readers great tips and advice on how caregivers can provide care and take care of themselves as well. I’ve become an email subscriber so that I can get her posts as soon as they come out.
By the way, my father is doing much better because my husband, Manchild, is loving on my dad by staying at home with him during the day to rehabilitate my father to get him to a point where he can walk around the house and take care of himself (I realize this is not an option everyone can take). He said to me in December, “KWiz, let’s get him out of that facility. Let’s bring him home.” I am so grateful to him, and because of him so graciously and lovingly caring for my dad during the day (and during the night – it’s a 24-hour “job”), my father is no longer on the anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs the nursing home was giving him. He’s gained weight that he lost since he had the stroke. We’ve learned how to manage his diabetes where he’s down from taking four insulin shots to 1-2 shots. He’s actually down to taking only three prescription medications (not including his insulin) and vitamins. My dad has his good days as well as not so good. But overall, it’s worth having him at home. That’s my dad. He’s the only dad I will ever have.
Get ready, people! Take a look at The Caregiver’s Journal and get some tips on getting prepared to be a caregiver. Don’t get caught off guard!
As many of you know, I teach high school – grades 9 and 12.As they often share with me different aspects of their lives, I am increasingly flabbergasted at the amount of time children spend online.I am actually floored that their way of making friends and interacting with those friends is no longer face to face, but through mediums such as Facebook and MySpace.I am amazed that young people feel a sense of loss when they don’t have access to these sources of relationships.I’m looking back at those last three sentences as I describe how I feel about this online world in which our children engage – flabbergasted, floored, amazed…
(Actually, I shouldn’t be all that amazed.Email has become a vital method of communication in our offices and businesses as well as between our families and friends.)
Maybe I’m overreacting.After all, our daughter will be four years old this spring, and naturally she is increasingly interested in computers, particularly in viewing videos online (since her daddy and I spend a lot of time at the computer).I often think about how we’ll navigate that world with her as she begins elementary school in less than two years.
I was recently made aware of a PBS Frontline program that will air tonight entitled “Growing Up Online,” where “Frontline Investigates The Risks, Realities And Misconceptions Of Teen Life On The Internet.”And lest you think that the only concern is encountering sexual predators online, this program will also discuss “cyber-bullying” and achieving “instant ‘Internet fame’.”
Here are a few quotes from the program’s press release:
“Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as ‘Autumn Edows,’ an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. ‘I just became this whole different person,’ Jessica tells FRONTLINE. ‘I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.’”
Through social networking sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.”
John Halligan’s son was cyberbullied for months—first at school, then online—before he ultimately hanged himself just weeks into the start of eighth grade.”
Whether we’re parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or mentors of young people, this should be of interest to all of us. What do you think? Are our children growing up too fast in this online world? What should be done about it? And do you plan to watch the program? (Note: the program will re-air several times and also appear online – according to pbs.org.)
We live in a fast-paced society. We want things quickly. We want them now. We want to arrive at our destinations quickly. We want to lose weight quickly. I personally want those 15 pounds off RIGHT NOW!
Change can’t happen soon enough. We want to be more loving – now! We want to be more compassionate – now! We want to be more patient – now!
And what happens when it doesn’t happen – now? We are unkind to ourselves. We beat ourselves up. We say to ourselves, “This is just the way that I am. I can’t change.” And so we give up. We don’t give ourselves the space to just be. To allow God to do His work in us.
I read a poem the other day while I was walking down a hallway filled with high school kids. And after I read it, I could only say, “Wow” (one student actually thought I was talking about him – I had to quickly clarify). I think it expresses this idea that we must be patient with ourselves as we go through processes of change.
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
I know the topic I’m about to broach is sensitive. For Christians, at least. And for others, it may be mildly amusing. Yet, it’s something that has bothered me for a few years now, and it really just sort of came to a head this evening (I started this post Thursday evening, May 10th) as I watched Tammy Faye Bakker Messner on “Entertainment Tonight” comment on the colon cancer she’s been battling now for several years.
For those of you who don’t know, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, along with her then-husband Jim, were popular televangelists with a large media empire that, according to Reuters, “brought in close to an estimated $130 million annually at its height in the 1980s and reached 13 million homes daily.” Yet, as Reuters reports, “It all came crashing down amid sex and financial scandals that landed Jim in prison for five years. Tammy Faye divorced Jim and married his best friend.”
Sadly, Tammy Faye was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996. In 2004, she disclosed that she was cancer free; however, the cancer returned the same year, this time in her lungs. “Entertainment Tonight” reported that she remarked, “‘The doctors have stopped trying to treat the cancer and so now it’s up to God and my faith,’ she writes [on her website]. ‘Please continue to pray for the pain and sick stomach.’” And yes, I pray that God will alleviate her pain so and sick stomach. I pray that she not suffer anymore.
What really upset me is that she blamed the fact that she has cancer on the devil. It’s the devil that’s making her sick, and she, as a Christian, is not going to let the devil win this battle.
Her statement is related to the popular doctrine (in some Christian “circles”) that asserts if you’re “faithful,” you are immune from sickness, disease, financial difficulties, and hardship. According to this belief, referred to as “The Prosperity Gospel” or “Name It And Claim It,” illness and other hardships are not of God. And if they’re not of God, they’re from the devil (or you’ve been in some way unfaithful to God, which opens the door to the devil to do his dirty work in your life). And because Christians (who espouse this doctrine) have “authority” over God’s creation and the devil, they can pray for whatever they want (according to Mark 11:23-24 and other taken-out-of-context scripture passages) and it will be given to them. And so what adherents of this “gospel” teach is that if you’re sick, pray and have enough faith and God will heal you. Take authority over the devil, because “[God has] given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Therefore, if God doesn’t heal you, it’s because you don’t have enough faith.
Essentially, what preachers of this “gospel” have done is taken several scripture passages way out of context to develop a teaching that tickles the ears and makes people feel good.
The problem with this doctrine is that it is so very false! God, nor Jesus, never taught that Christians would never endure hardship. For example, the author of the book of Job discusses this issue at length – it’s referred to as theodicy, which asks the question, “why do the righteous suffer?” If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Job is a righteous man who walks in the ways of God. Ha-Satan (the Accuser) approaches God and asks the question, “Will Job serve God for nothing? Doesn’t he only serve You because You’ve blessed him?” God tells the Accuser that he can test Job to see if, indeed, Job will only serve God because God’s blessed him. The Accuser kills Job’s children, destroys his possessions, and afflicts him with boils from head to toe. In most of the remainder of the book, Job and his “friends” try to make sense of Job’s suffering.
In Job 38-41, as God finally addresses Job and his question of “why am I suffering when I’ve done nothing wrong?” we find that the question of theodicy is not answered. As Job has asserted his innocence throughout the book, he seeks answers about his adversity, complaining to God, “I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me” (Job 30:20). Yet, God does not answer the question. No one knows why the righteous suffer.
And yet, they do. The Bible records many who have. Some preachers forget about these key figures. God made them promises, yet, they did not live to see the fulfillment of those promises. And these people had great faith. Check out what the author of Hebrews 11 says about these faithful people:
…By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:29-40, emphasis mine)
And so, you ask, what is my issue? My mother passed away last summer from living with lung cancer for over six years. And I know for a fact that it was not the devil’s doing. Nor was it an issue that she wasn’t healed because she didn’t have enough faith.
“I have a dear friend who is critically ill. . .she will struggle with her sickness for the rest of her life and will continue to deteriorate physically. She has chosen to believe in the ‘prosperity gospel’ and decided that if she truly has faith she would choose to give up her walking cane (which she needed to walk) as well as refuse normal medical treatment (or even alternative treatments). Sadly, as a result of her decisions, she has caused her own deterioration to speed up…”
Please understand, I am not coming down on Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. What I am protesting is the fact that people who are seriously and gravely ill (and people who know people who are seriously and gravely ill) are espousing this doctrine as truth. What happens is that when they don’t receive their bodily healing, they and others conclude they didn’t have enough faith to take authority over the devil and the disease. This is erroneous. This is wrong. It is more than a travesty. It is heretical. And it puts God, Jesus, and Christians in a bad light.
This post is longer than I’ve wanted it to be, yet, it is so very important. I will conclude it tomorrow.
In the meantime, what do you think of the prosperity “gospel”? What do you think about people who believe that their faith will cure them of sickness and disease?
(If you are new here and you are interested in this study, please page down to the “Article Series” link below, or “Women Who Run With The Wolves” in the Category section in the sidebar to the right to view previous reflections.)
As stated in the last post in this series, Vasalisa, the tale from which this analysis comes,
“…is a story of handing down the blessing on women’s power of intuition from mother to daughter, from one generation to the next. This great power, intuition, is composed of lightning-fast inner seeing, inner hearing, inner sensing, and inner knowing.”
And as I stated as we proceeded through the week’s study,
“[Chapter 3 - Nosing Out the Facts: The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation of Women Who Run With the Wolves] consists of nine tasks for women to complete to regain the intuitive nature, to regain the ability and “skill” to reset that instinctual power that enables us to walk through life with clear thinking and powerful knowing of not only what’s inside, but what’s outside as well.”
We examined the first three tasks in that last post. Let’s move forward and take a look at the next three tasks.
Task #4 – Facing the Wild Hag – The activities which must be taken on in this stage include:
“Learning to face great power – in others, and subsequently one’s own power.”
Remember that there is a “Baba Yaga” character that is central to this tale. She is, as Estes says, the “Wild Hag,” which sounds like a pejorative, yet, it carries the meaning of being wise and having “joyous and wild life force.” It is the opposite of that which “creeps up on us till we have a routine life, and a lifeless life without our really meaning to.”
Once women realize they are living in the mundane, the mediocre, it is time to recover. It is time to recover and face the formidable power within oneself that causes us to be “alive, bursting with enthusiasm, with joyous life.” What does this all mean? To tell you the truth, I can’t put my finger on this one. I don’t know how this would manifest itself in my own life. Dr. Estes summarizes this task by stating,
“It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”
Yet, that statement is elusive to me. Someone out there, please give me a clue!
Task #5 – Serving the Non-Rational – In this stage, the following activities are important (but check the chapter to get a complete listing):
“…Coming to recognize her (your) power and the powers of inner purifications; unsoiling, sorting, nourishing, building energy and ideas…”
What is involved in this task is the “ordering of the house of the soul.” There are three things involved here:
Washing the laundry – in other words, learning to “witness, examine, and take on” that which is strong and enduring.
Sweeping the premises – keeping one’s space uncluttered and working to ensure that we complete what we starts. This involves the consistent ordering of one’s life.
Cooking for Baba Yaga – feeding the wild woman inside. This involves cooking up the new and original, creating great ideas, nurturing and exploring our yearnings and longings, burning with the desire of those things we truly love.
Remember, though, the key to “succeeding” in these activities is consistency. We must regularly “cleanse our thinking” and “renew our values” so that we will learn to “measure things at a glance…, weigh in an instant…, clear off the debris around an idea…, clear one’s psyche of trivia, sweep one’s self, [and] clean up one’s thinking and feeling states…”
Task #6 – Separating This from That – some of the activities necessary in this stage include:
“…learning to make fine distinctions in judgment. Observing the power of the unconscious and how it works even when the ego is not aware…”
Dr. Estes indicates,
“The sorting spoken of in the tale is the kind which occurs when we face a dilemma or question, but not much is forthcoming to help us solve it. But leave it alone and come back to it later and there may be a good answer waiting for us where there was nothing before. Or ‘go to sleep, see what you dream…’”
How do we see this type of activity manifest itself? Estes says, “It is an observable phenomenon that a question asked before bedtime, with practice, often elicits an answer upon awakening…Reliance on this attribute is…part of the wild nature.”
Or as the psalmist puts it,
“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7)
I’ve heard how people will pray for direction about an issue before they enter sleep at night, and will wake up with a solution to the issue. I can’t say this has ever happened to me, but as Dr. Estes notes, this type of guidance can happen to a person when someone is consistent to practice seeking this guidance. Maybe that is why it doesn’t “work” for me. I’ve not been consistent in seeking the help I need daily.
I struggle with much of what these tasks entail. First, the fourth task I mentioned above is a little confusing for me, so if someone can shed some light on that, please do (phaenix_ash, can you help me here?). I know I need to work on uncluttering and organizing myself so that I will feel less muddled and messy. And I know I need to work on seeking guidance consistently, daily, to learn how to listen to myself (and for me, this is God and what He gives to me) when I encounter problems and situations with which I need help.
What about you? What do you need to work on in order to continue reclaiming yourself?
We’ll complete the final tasks next week so that we can move on to the next chapter. I’m excited about the next chapter, because in it we move beyond our individual selves and begin talking about our relationships with men and how men can understand women and their inner lives.
(If you are new here and you are interested in this study, please page down to the “Article Series” link below, or “Women Who Run With The Wolves” in the Category section in the sidebar to the right to view previous reflections.)
Finding That Intuition (Part 2)
As I stated in the last article in this series, “Oh, how I’ve been waiting to get to this place!” Please click here if you haven’t read the story of Vasalisa (upon which this chapter is based).
I found this story to be very sweet, yet complexingly strong and slightly intimidating. After the conclusion of the story of Vasalisa, Dr. Estes begins her analysis saying,
“Vasalisa is a story of handing down the blessing on women’s power of intuition from mother to daughter, from one generation to the next. This great power, intuition, is composed of lightning-fast inner seeing, inner hearing, inner sensing, and inner knowing.”
The analysis of this tale is very straightforward, very easy to understand. It consists of nine tasks for women to complete to regain the intuitive nature, to regain the ability and “skill” to reset that instinctual power that enables us to walk through life with clear thinking and powerful knowing of not only what’s inside, but what’s outside as well. In this post, we’ll take a look at the first five of those tasks. We’ll complete this chapter’s study by completing the remaining four tasks next week.
Task #1 – Allowing the Too-Good Mother to Die – The activities which must be taken on in this stage include:
“Accepting that the ever-watchful, hovering, protective psychic mother is not adequate as a central guide for one’s future instinctual life…Taking on the task of being one’s own, developing one’s own consciousness about danger, intrigue, politic. Becoming alert by oneself, for oneself. Letting die what must die…”
In this first stage of reclaiming one’s intuition, we, as females, must grow up. We must grow more astute, more aware, viewing the world with our eyes wide-open instead of our mothers doing it for us. This is the ideal for all young girls moving into adolescence. Nevertheless, this growth process may not have occurred for some girls because of:
Psychological hardship early in one’s life
Continuing influence from the overprotective mother
Not enough of the mother’s good influence
I know early in my own life, I didn’t get a sense of who I really was from my parents. I didn’t get the sense that I was pretty enough or good enough. That’s not to say my parents didn’t love me; but they really didn’t have a good sense of who they, themselves, were as human beings. So I wasn’t affirmed as a beautiful, smart young lady who didn’t have to settle for hound dogs. Moreover, my mother (father too) didn’t teach me how to make good decisions. Although she always bragged on me to her friends about how nice I was, the only advice my mother gave me regarding how to make decisions was “Just don’t get pregnant.” The decision to make there was to eventually start birth control. But what did that decision do for me? No, I didn’t get pregnant. But that wasn’t the point. What was I supposed to look for in boys? How were they supposed to treat me? How was I supposed to act in their presence? I’m not making excuses here; I’m just saying that I understand how this process of intuition development can be stunted and arrested – it was in me. (This will NOT happen to my daughter.)
Nevertheless, it is necessary for women “to let die the values and attitudes within the psyche which no longer sustain her. Especially to be examined are those long-held tenets which make life too safe, which overprotect, which make women walk with a scurry instead of a stride.” As women, we must
“…set for (ourselves) a something in life that (we) are willing to reach for and therefore take risks for. It is through this process that (we) sharpen (our) intuitive powers.”
Task #2 – Exposing the Crude Shadow – In this stage, the following activities are important (but check the chapter to get a complete listing):
“…Experiencing directly one’s own shadow nature, particularly the exclusionary, jealous, and exploitative aspects of self [and] [a]cknowledging these unequivocally. Making the best relationship one can with the worst parts of oneself…Ultimately working toward letting the old self die and the new intuitive self be born.”
This task is related to the role of the stepmother and stepsisters in the story. In this stage of initiation of the intuitive life, these “family members” represent
“…aspects of oneself which are considered by the ego to be undesirable or not useful and are therefore relegated to the dark…They enter as a chorus of unredeemed hags who taunt, ‘You can’t do it. You’re not good enough. You’re not bold enough. You’re stupid, insipid, vacant. You don’t have time. You’re only good for simple things. You’re only allowed to do this much and no more. Give up while you’re ahead.’”
Oh, this so resonates with me. But what really hit a nerve in the story was the father’s response to the stepmother and stepsisters’ ill-will toward his daughter – NOTHING! As Dr. Estes notes, “…the father of the psyche doesn’t notice the hostile environment…and has no intuitive development himself.” I know all about this – my father is highly naive, and as Dr. Estes remarks,
“It is interesting to note that daughters who have naive fathers often take far longer to awaken.”
I’ve suffered the consequences of having a father who didn’t teach me what I know my husband is intent on teaching our daughter. If there are any men and fathers reading this post, please, please, please,
FATHERS, PLEASE DON’T CRIPPLE YOUR DAUGHTERS BY REMAINING NAIVE AND UNKNOWING. TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTERS, TEACH YOUR DAUGHTERS, LOVE YOUR DAUGHTERS BY TELLING THEM THE TRUTH!!!
In spite of her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ ill-intent, Vasalisa tries her best to remain nice and accomodating. She submits and complies to their requests in the midst of their oppression of her. After awhile,
“the stepwomen so squeeze the burgeoning psyche that through their machinations the fire goes out. At this point a woman begins to lose her psychic bearings. She may feel cold, alone, and willing to do anything to bring back the light again…Vasalisa, like us, needs some guiding light that will differentiate for her what is good for her and what is not…Women who try to make their deeper feelings invisible are deadening themselves. The fire goes out…”
But for many,
“…when the fire is put out, it helps to snap Vasalisa out of her submission. It causes her to die to an old way of life and to step with shivers into a new life, one which is based on an older, wiser kind of inner knowing.”
I’m there! I’m with her! So now, on to the next task…
Task #3 – Navigating in the Dark – some of the activities necessary in this stage include:
“Learning to develop sensitivity as regards direction to the mysterious unconscious and relying solely on one’s inner senses…Learning to feed intuition…”
Before she died, Vasalisa’s mother passed on to Vasalisa a doll (you’ve got to read the story!). This doll represents “the inner spirit of us as women; the voice of inner reason, inner knowing, inner consciousness…It is our helper which is not seeable, per se, but which is always accessible.” And according to Dr. Estes, this is so important for daughters as,
“There is no greater blessing a mother can give her daughter than a reliable sense of the veracity of her own intuition. Intuition is handed from parent to child in the simplest ways: ‘You have good judgment. What do you think lies hidden behind all this?’”
This statement was revelatory to me. My parents didn’t do this for me; yet, my husband and I do this for our daughter when we say, “You make good choices” when she actually does, or just in the course of our daily activities.
But intuition must be fed. And how do we feed our intuition?
“…[B]y listening to it and acting upon its advice…it is like the muscles in the body. If a muscle is not used, eventually it withers. Intuition is exactly like that: without food, without employment, it atrophies…but with exercise it will come back and become fully manifested.”
“We, like Vasalisa, strengthen our bond with our intuitive nature by listening inwardly at every turn in the road. ‘Should I go this way, or this way? Should I stay or go? Should I resist or be flexible? Should I run away or toward? Is this person, event, venture true or false?’”
Well, we’ve taken a lot in with the first three tasks. This post is longer than I intended in examining the first three tasks. So instead of reviewing the first five tasks, I’m going to cut it off here for this week. I think there is much to reflect upon here, and so I’d like to continue to do over the next several days. Next week, we’ll examine the next three tasks (if you’ve been reading along in the book, you know what the tasks are; if not, you’ll have to get the book or just wait!!!) in reclaiming our intuition.
What do you think? Where are you in your reclamation process? Have you made it? Have you arrived? If so, let us know how you did it. If you’re still on the journey, share with us how you’re making it along the way.