There's something to be said for Kitchen Table Wisdom - you know, like in the old days when people sat around the kitchen table after a meal and talked about life, the universe and the meaning of it all - as well as the gossip doing the rounds in town...

Well, that's what this place is - a place to share common wisdom, thoughts and feelings about things important and unimportant, that bring us joy, laughter and happiness and that trouble, sadden, confuse and anger us ...

What I write here is what's 'real' for me. It won't always be PC or 'nice'. We're missing out on true connection and chances to grow and change because there's too little authenticity, too little honesty, too much holding back what we really feel and mean.

Welcome to my world...

I used to have a copyright claim here, but I've removed it...

Ideas don't belong to anyone -

they come to those who are receptive and are to be used for the well being of all...

I find images and movies and music all over the web

and I use them to accent/expand on my thoughts and understandings...

If you feel you have experienced or received something of value in reading my posts,

please consider either:

Giving a Koha/Love Offering Here - Donate with WePay

or paying it forward to those who need

material and emotional/spiritual sustenance in this world...

Thank You

As You Think, So It Is - Your Beliefs Create Your Reality

If your Reality isn't Working for You, Create a New One!

Life Unlimited!


(the Divine in me, recognises and honours the Divine in you)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finding & Living Your Own Spiritual Truth

I'm a shaman...

At some point on my journey, I felt I was being asked to choose whether I wanted to be apprenticed to a particular lineage of teachings or whether I was going to walk this path as a solo practitioner...

I chose to walk my own path.

I've studied religions/spiritual traditions from many cultures; at heart, they each say the same thing - the only real difference is the terminology...

I've taken from those teachings what feels 'true' to what I've personally experienced on a mystic level,  I've synthesised what I've learned and now have my own world view that works for me...

That's all that's important really - whatever works to connect me with the Divine and whatever works for you;  all the rest is about power and control and inserting an artificial (and unnecessary) intermediary between humans, the rest of life and the Sacred...

Monday, May 24, 2010

A World Without Flags, Borders and Anthems

It's been in my thinking for a long time now (perhaps because I've been an immigrant all of my life, so far living in five countries), how ridiculous and anachronistic it is that we have borders.

Where's the logic and the sanity and the compassion in a world that is divided up into regions by invisible lines in the sand and ocean?

Where one's lot in life is basically decreed by a geographical accident of birth?

Where, if you're born one foot on this side of that invisible line you have a certain kind of life, and if you're born one foot on the other side of that line you have another kind of life?

And where some people get to control the majority of the resources on the planet and others get to do without?

Where's the equity and compassion in all of that?

And borders and flags and anthems and patriotism all lead us to separate ourselves from the 'others' and give us cause to make the other an enemy and to criticise and to disparage and to exploit and to fight and to exterminate.

Where's the compassion in all of that?

Isn't it time we did away with this ridiculously outdated notion of countries and national interests?

We're living in an interconnected web.   What we do, how we live here in the web affects someone, something elsewhere in the web.   Because we're living in a closed system, when we take more than we need on a moment by moment basis, when we claim our 'rights' to a certain piece of land or a body of water, to a certain lifestyle and degree of comfort, someone, somewhere else has to pay the price, do without.

Where's the compassion in that?

Who thinks about that when they're shopping at Walmart or Costco?
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

~John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980), English musician and singer-songwriter, political activist...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Attraction - What Is It?

Attraction is such a fickle phenomenon, really...

It's not the looks that make the impression necessarily - it's the 'energy', the body language, what's in the eyes (the windows to the soul), what's in the mind, what's in the spirit...

It's how a person carries himself/herself, whether they take the time and trouble to present themselves to you respectfully.   

And show they respect themselves by dressing appropriately for the place/occasion, bathing, shaving, wearing matching socks and holding up their trousers with a belt and not the bungee cord I keep in my car!

Average or even ugly  (who defines all these terms anyway - they're purely subjective experiences, 'beauty being in the eye of the beholder' and all that) - is totally transformed by eyes that shine with intelligence and humour and goodwill, by a body that walks confidently and yet not arrogantly, by good manners that demonstrate consideration, by language that articulates learning, wisdom, understanding and respect for others, by spirit that emanates love, acceptance and generosity...

Attraction is all pretty idiosyncratic and without any logic...

For myself, I'm not attracted to 'fleshy' faces and ears.   I know why I have that preference, I realise its not fair or valid to apply that as a blanket criteria to all men...and it just won't go away...not very mature of me, but there you go.

And badly stained, crooked or missing teeth are a distraction that I have to fight against to give a person my full attention.

And bad teeth make me reluctant to think about kissing him...

And greasy hair - I do not want to run my fingers through a man's greasy hair - natural grease or product...

And the smell/taste of cigarette smoke on his skin and clothes - yuck!

The smell of too much alcohol, especially beer, is a turn-off, as is Old Spice after-shave!

And I'm short and round - I prefer to be with men who are at least my height, preferably taller.

I dated a 'little person' once.   I was curious to find out  what were my prejudices.   I met with him several times.  We had interests in common.

It was cool sitting with him at dinner and talking.   Great conversation.   We were at an equal height...

It was very weird standing up from the table and looking around and down for him.   "Where did he go?" was my internal reaction, kinda like looking around for one of my children...

I was used to being the smaller person... and I couldn't visualise the mechanics of making love together...

It didn't go anywhere partly because he wanted to move too fast, and partly because I couldn't get past the height difference... some might call that being shallow and prejudiced and they'd be right ...

Volunteering - Service or Exploitation?

I'd like to make a point about volunteering.
I've done my share of volunteering in my life; however, I've always thought that volunteering was a double-edged sword.   

Volunteering ensures that our world keeps running in a somewhat humane manner, that the social supports are there to help those who can't help themselves.

In fact, volunteering and other unpaid work is an entire economy unto itself, without which much of this world would cease to function. 

And there are some economists  (Marilyn Waring for example, in her book "Counting for Nothing") who've made the point that our current national accounting systems seriously misrepresent what's really going on in our world by not counting volunteering and unpaid work, undertaken mostly by women and children. 

Volunteering lets society and its institutions off the hook in fulfilling essential functions/delivering essential services to its citizens, and is also exploitative of people.

I see many non-profits operating from a commercial business model, but paying their staff relatively low wages/salaries.   They claim lack of funds for this disparity in pay between the private and non-profit sector.   

And there's an underlying implication that people ought to be OK about being paid less because its for a 'worthy cause', they're giving of themselves and a degree of altruism is required to prove they're sincere in their motivation.

I think this contributes to the continuation of the imbalance we have in our world.

Firstly because it sends the message that someone else will come along and clean up the mess...

And secondly, those issues are not important anyway, because we use volunteers so much and don't pay staff enough to show we value the work.

Innovation: Competition versus Collaboration

I've been part of a discussion amongst social entrepreneurs about what drives innovation?

Many people are still stuck in the 'free market' model, thinking that its the only one that fosters true innovation.

I disagree that competition in and of itself drives innovation.   Innovation basically is problem solving, curiosity manifested in creating something new.   It doesn't only happen in a competitive environment.   I believe its an inherent drive within the human spirit to create something new/different; its an extension of our need to express ourselves and it has little do do with what's going on in the outside world/market.

I think competition restricts innovation because there is so much at risk in daring to think outside the box - profits, reputation, social position, livelihood. That's why we have so much of the same thing with only minor variations available to us as consumers - small (often only cosmetic) changes are hailed as being highly innovative.

I think true innovation happens in an environment which is supportive, where there is no economic/political attachment to the outcome.   Innovation is an organic process.   Think of children being creative - how many children can think freely when they are under time or other constraints?    How many artists or authors can come up with their best work if the clock is ticking and their publisher is pushing them to meet a spring deadline because another popular author has a new book due out then?    How well do you do, if someone is standing over your shoulder, demanding that you produce something entirely original by a particular day/date, meeting highly defined criteria, using a tightly controlled set of resources?   If you can't do it, you and the process are termed 'failures'.

How much more likely is innovation to occur, if you could talk/collaborate with all the other people working in the same field, no matter what they're doing and for whom they work?    Imagine the incredible outcomes that might spontaneously present themselves out of the synergy of working without boundaries?

I come from a space where I'm not interested in competing with anyone.    There is no need - there's enough to go round (its an issue of ownership and distribution) and competing sets limits, boundaries, conditions and chokes off the ability to be innovative, expansive.   

I'm interested in collaboration and cooperation.   I'm into 'synergy' and 'synchronicity'.   I'm a natural networker - information and people cross my path, I keep tabs on who's doing what and where I see synergy I connect people and resources.   They go off and 'make wonderful music together' and I keep on with my own interests. 

I do this informally (because I would get bored and feel fenced in, and it would spoil the INTENT and the organic spontaneity of it) usually without any recompense or ongoing stake in the outcome - which some would say is foolish, naive, self-sabotaging and will keep me poor!

One of the major reasons I do this in just this way is because I see the spectrum of wealth-poverty we have in the world, even here in the West, and I think the imbalance we have going now is shockingly immoral and indefensible.   

Doing business as a social entrepreneur, using the existing competitive business/economic model, does not do enough to redress that basic imbalance - in fact, one could argue that it enables and perpetuates the imbalance.

I don't think things will change until individuals (as well as corporations) recant their involvement in competition and in the drive for personal wealth - when is enough enough, on a personal and societal level?   How much money can any one person spend in a lifetime, and how much stuff can you fit into your coffin? And who/what really paid for all those beautiful things we beautiful people surround ourselves with?   What was given up/lost so that we could enjoy the kind of life we do?

Social entrepreneurship is a laudable pathway IF we take it down to the personal level and consider our own, individual, daily lives part in the equation.   If we don't do that, then we're pretty much being hypocrites, aren't we?

Mars and Venus - Do Looks Matter?

Why do women say looks don't matter, but then they don't give us average guys a chance?"   This complaint/question was the topic of a conversation I was involved in a while ago with some younger men...     
It seems to me we have some double standards operating here.   I've heard very few men say that for them 'looks don't matter' when they're talking about what it is they want in their 'ideal' partner.

But they do seem to have different criteria for women they're considering as their potential mates to those with whom they're having a casual relationship.

I remember a conversation with my first husband when we began to get serious; we were talking about former boyfriends/girlfriends and the whole sex thing.

We were discussing attraction - what was necessary to develop any kind of relationship and whether there was a difference in what men were looking for if sex was the only thing on their minds.   One of his previous 'connections' was mentioned during this conversation. I remember asking him if he had been attracted to this person. As a young woman, I was quite shocked and upset to hear his reply that the general consensus amongst his peers was:
"One doesn't look at the mantelpiece when one is stoking the fire"

I find it a little confusing to hear surprise and an "it's not fair, what about the average guy?" lament expressed when men find that women can also have preferences.

Men have been judging women in the looks department for the entire history of the human race and have been refusing to date women who don't look like "Barbie", or Bo Derek or Naomi or whoever is the latest airbrushed fantasy doll.

Remember all the women down through the ages who were considered 'homely', who were the wallflowers at the local dances - trying to believe their elders telling them that it wasn't their looks that counted but what's on the inside and that a genuine person would see that in them and be attracted to them.

So many women living in fear of being that dreaded class - spinsters - because men didn't find them attractive.

I notice on many men's dating site profiles that they are quite picky and detailed in what they find attractive/acceptable/unacceptable about a woman's looks.

Some men are quite specific in their criteria; I've seen men write that they like their women to be all 'girly' - makeup, mini skirts, and high heels.   One person was really specific - the heels, he stated, needed to be more than two inches high, and the woman should wear them on casual occasions also.   Men have no idea what it takes to maintain that look or what kind of restrictions it puts on your life and activities, or how bad it is for your back and feet to be wobbling along on stilts that pinch your toes all day.

It seems to me these men don't want to be real - have a real relationship with a real, living, walking, talking, feeling human being. They want to live in an illusion.   Good luck to them and pity the women they connect with, having to maintain that facade for him for the rest of their lives; the minute they forget to put on their lippy one day and the wrinkles come, he'll be off looking for a younger,'taut and terrific' version (see movies such as The First Wives Club)

Times have changed.   Most (western) women don't need partners to survive in life, so maybe they aren't accepting whatever's on offer just out of desperation, and now many men are finding out what it feels like to be judged in a superficial manner.

Love it - Karma - what goes around comes around.   Now that the boot's on the other foot, is this complaint sour grapes because some young men don't have the brawn to make the football team (and score with the cheerleaders) or the brains to get into Harvard where all the thinking chicks will line up and fight for them and hang on every word they utter?

And the serious side of that is that this is an opportunity for men and women to move beyond the surface of both themselves and of each other, for growth and understanding and acceptance (not just tolerance) of diversity.   

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Competition is Driving Us to Extinction - And We're Taking Much of the Planet With Us

I wrote this piece on an Open Standards thread at the My Social Actions site.

I don't have much knowledge about Open Standards in technology, except that wherever possible I use Open Source software.  And I have talked casually to senior government and business leaders from around the world about the need for IT companies to break away from proprietory software and hardware competition/branding and to collaborate, if they truly want to create ubiquitous connectivity using cloud computing.

I'd like to comment on the idea of open standards and collaboration across all of society.

I think the Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' competition model our economic and social worlds are built on is leading us to extinction, dragging with us many of the planet's other inhabitants.

I don't believe we can afford to be participating in that model, at any level, any longer and the sooner large businesses and governing institutions can accept that reality and move into collaboration, the better.

For some more ideas around this, I'd recommend that people read Peter Senge et al's "Presence", which really is a distillation of the knowledge contained in most of the world's spiritual (not religious) traditions, especially in the indigenous cultures. 

For me its interesting that Senge - an MIT professor specialising in systems theory/organisational management - has come to these same conclusions that many spiritual traditions have been espousing for thousands of years.   

Buckminster Fuller also said a long time ago, that we are now in the age of collaboration, not competition; that we have the technological means to provide for the needs of every human on the planet so competition is no longer necessary or useful.

Competition is killing too many of us, and the fact that we still have to fight each other for basic life-giving and supporting resources such as food, water, shelter, clothing, moving up the scale to education and medical care etc, is a completely immoral and unjustifiable state of affairs in the 21st Century.

Juxtaposing the consumerism and waste of the west with the poverty and death in the east for example - where is the sanity in that?    

Taking it down to the most basic level, how can the west justify the idiocy of multiple brands of laundry detergent lining supermarket shelves, for example, when its confronted daily in the media about the reality of life and death struggles undergone by billions of other people in other places on the planet?    

Within its own borders, how does the US justify the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, and the lottery system that's in place that determines whether or not a child will be given the opportunity to mature into his/her full potential?

It seems to me to be a completely irrational economic argument that the free market and competition are the mechanisms that best encourage prosperity. Capitalism, by its very nature, is exploitative, driving up the cost of finite resources with the winner being the person/entity at the end of/controlling the 'value-added' chain.

Its non-sustainable - look at the cycle of expansion and contraction, growth and depression - the system keeps imploding on itself and only those very few at the top are immune to the effects of that cyclical binge and bust phenomenon.

Look at the pyramidic wealth structure that exists in the west, notice the fact that 90% of the wealth is controlled by 3% of the population; competition actually costs incalculable amounts of money, resources, time and energy in lost human potential and 'ambulance at the bottom of the cliff' measures to contain the societal damage and dysfunction of a system which is in reality, the ultimate hybrid Pyramid-Ponzi scheme...

Remember the Reagan and Thatcher economic battle cries of the 80s - be patient and wait for the trickle down effect?  Statistically and in real terms, people are worse off now than they were post WW2.    How many years of economic decline does it take before people realise there never has been, and never will be, a sharing of the profits from the top down to the middle and bottom? 

Running out of people and resources to pull into the bottom of the pyramid?    Easy - sell the 'dream/fantasy' offshore and suck people into the pyramid from there - globalisation.... 

Limited resources on the earth?   Easy - start claiming ownership of the water and the air and the fuel and the medicinal plants and the trees and the minerals and now even human genomes and make people pay for use and access... 

Natural resources becoming rare or too expensive from which to make a profit?    Easy - start planning to go off planet - see

And then we have the nonsensical accounting structures we have in place in measuring costs and profits.   Goods are sold at a fraction of the real costs of production.   We don't count the costs of environmental degradation for example, and we seem to think it justifiable to pay some people less than a living wage to produce goods and services which then are sold at 200+% the cost of production.

Referring again to Buckminster Fuller, he estimated that the actual cost of production of a gallon of gas over the millions of years it took to form in the earth was more than $1,000,000 and he said commuting to work could not be justified.

For a more detailed, scholarly look at this issue, I'd recommend people read Marilyn Waring's "Counting for Nothing".   Marilyn's an internationally-respected New Zealand economist.    She was at one time the youngest member of New Zealand's Parliament and brought down her National Party government led by Robert Muldoon.
There is nothing in all of this enthusiasm about capitalism and the free market about equity, stewardship, collaboration and sharing.   And none of this will change until major businesses and governments turn their backs on the current paradigm, turn their backs on the idea of competition being a good thing and commit to equity and sustainability.   

And the cynic in me sighs and says "yeah, and pigs might one day fly"... One can live in hope, can't one?   After all, what else is there?

Have You Dated Somone With The Same Name As Your Ex?

I have to admit that when I come across the dating profile of people who have either of my exs' names (or my father's), I pass right on by, even though I might be really interested in what they write about themselves.

Guess its quite immature and unreasonable and shallow, and I'm unfairly tarring them with the same brush, but I'm kinda superstitious about this and don't want to be hit by lightning twice, and it would be too creepy to call them by the same kind of nicknames, terms of endearments etc.

But - there are also other names that have nothing to do with exs, which I'm just not attracted to, in fact, which are an actual turn-off - Bruce, Dwayne, Murray, Colin and some others... 

I used to have men with those names in my broader working life and while they were OK guys, I just was not physically or emotionally connected to them, even in a platonic sense, and found it hard to give them their due.   Unfortunately, those men spoiled it for all others of the same name who have come after.   I'm sorry guys -  its nothing personal really, just me having a shallow moment...

Realities of Dating After 50

Whoever wrote about first dates these days being more like (informational) interviews had it right on! 

I had one of those a while ago.   I felt I was being asked the kind of questions I would have been asked if I was applying for a job - did I qualify for this person to spend more time with me?   I think I failed the interview - haven't so far been asked back for a second (no contact at all), but that could also be because I told him in my 'thank you' note that was what the experience felt like for me!   Not sure he was real enough to go there with me!

I think I'm way behind the 8-ball in this dating thing.   I'm 51, have a young child and little child-free time and, for my son's emotional and physical safety, until I really get to know someone, I keep my 'personal' life separate from my family life. 

It seems there are not many men in my age range who want to do this particular dance with me and I understand that.   While I think I'm a wonderful human being and a great catch(!), in many respects my circumstances are not an attractive proposition.   Potential mates are footloose and fancy free, hot-to-trot with money in their pockets and lots of time and freedom and few responsibilities - I can't match that.

I'd like to get to know someone casually - spend time doing grown-up things, get to know each other and let it develop from there, if its going to.   I don't see how I could effectively and fairly manage the parameters of a fiery, intense 'got-to-spend-every-minute-I-can-with-you' encounter, which seems to be what a lot of men want.... 

Maybe if it happened, I would find a way.   Maybe there's an exceptional man out there who has the stretch to accommodate the realities of my life without getting bent out of shape and becoming resentful that I have a prior commitment to another human being.   

But the pragmatist/realist in me worries that, under the current conditions operating in my life, no-one would be really satisfied and happy.   And for the next few years, the needs and best interests of a youngster are going to over-ride the desires of the adults in this equation.

Do Women Initiate Break-Ups More Often than Men?

A man complained plaintively on another blog a while ago:

"Why do women initiate break-ups more often than men?"

I don't know if it is true that women initiate more break-ups than men...

However, in my experience (20-year first relationship, 4-year second), I did call it quits first.

In my first marriage, after many years of minor-level dissatisfaction, my husband called me on it the day after our 18th wedding anniversary, saying "why don't you just be honest and say you want out?"...

So I said I did...

Problem was, I didn't really...

I wanted him to say:

"Honey, I love you so much that yes, we'll go to counselling and work this out".

He didn't, and three weeks later started dating other women. I think I gave him his excuse to move on - he hadn't had the " balls" to make the move to split.

In my second relationship/marriage, I ended it because there was abuse going on; marriage counselling didn't help (it doesn't in domestic violence cases because the problem isn't within the relationship - it lies within the abuser who has an overwhelming need to exercise power and control) and there was the well being of a young child to consider.

In my opinion, men act like ostriches with their heads in the sand about things that aren't working in the relationship, and then act all surprised and hurt when the woman finally calls a halt.

It seems that they don't hear, or attach any importance to, a woman articulating that from her perspective things are not going well, that issues need attention or else a break-up is likely.

I don't know why men want to ignore obvious red flags; maybe they don't have the nerve to face the challenge of working something through - its too hard; it requires that they'll have to open up, communicate, be willing to be vulnerable. Or they might have to alter the 'status quo' which might have been working in their favour.

Maybe they're being dismissive about a woman's concerns, putting it down to her being too emotional, not rational or logical, or that its because it's 'that time of the month'. Perhaps they hope that if they ignore it, it will all blow over and everything will be honky-dory again.

Well, guys - hate to tell you this... but not facing up to it is the surest path you could ever take to a split. And by not wanting to deal with the small stuff, you end up cutting off your nose to spite your face and losing the whole relationship.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life, Education and Corporatist Education 'Reform'

HEALTHY LIVING IS FOSTERED BY LIFE-LONG LEARNING AND COMMUNITY, not by a narrowly-defined curricula having little relevance to the parameters of daily life, taught over a limited number of years, that is designed primarly to turn out people who will fit with the minimum of fuss, bother, protest and COST into a narrowly-defined range of 'useful', 'productive' (as in profit-making) occupations... 

Which is how corporatist education reformers think the world should be run - teach children what they need to know to be good workers and good consumers and to do that with the minimum of deviation from the norm, minimum individuality, minimum dissent...

The problem with life in a 21st century western capitalist economy fashioned by corporations, is that PEOPLE, even the young and very old - are seen as units of economic production...

Society (or rather big business) is willing to invest just enough in these people (in some countries more than in others - such as basic infrastructure, public health and public education) to get them to maturity, where they will become 'productive' units - working and creating a profit for their private industry employers, paying taxes and consuming goods created via the process of exploitation of natural and human resources... 

Adults are expected to bring a Return on Investment (ROI) for society/corporations; if they don't/wont' fit the mould, are temperamentally unsuited or are too ill/unstable, then they're considered to be worthless, a drain on resources, a DOG in Boston Consulting Group product matrix terms, rather than a STAR or a CASH COW...

And of course, this 'moulding' of people is not a natural, organic, healthy expression of the human spirit, so what the corporatists see as 'dysfunction' breaks out and increases as the pressure to fit square pegs into round holes is increased. This is not dysfunction at all, but a completely predictable expression of a natural response to unnatural pressures and expectations... 

Corporatists are willing to allow some of that 'dysfunction' and rebellion to continue only as long as it doesn't affect profitability beyond a certain point. There's a certain level of acceptable loss in 'human capital' they're willing to carry...

We've had that cycle occurring over the past 200 years.   Public education sprang up in response to the need to convert and move a rural agrarian labour pool into the cities, to man the factories and keep the machines of the Industrial Revolution running...

Over time, profits grew, standards of living generally improved.   But there was an (unintended) side effect of universal education.   Workers - thanks to education giving them the ability to read - developed an independent mentality and wanted a greater share of the pie their sweat created for their bosses.   There was an increase in rebellion and the ability to communicate and mobilise that rebellion into action

And what were once the favoured positions of the upper middle and upper classes, began to be infiltrated by people who came from much 'humbler' roots... the rich were being told to move over and share...

The problem with that is that the rich don't want to share.   Capitalism is the ultimate pyramid-ponzi scheme, sucking up wealth from the base and middle of the pyramid and concentrating it at the top.  And those at the top - quite naturally really, if you think about - don't want to move down the ladder or move over to share their place in the sun with the masses.

That period of liberal education and associated rebellion culminated in the 60s and early 70s, at which point business got seriously worried and decided to take back control of public education.   

The current CORPORATIST EDUCATION REFORM movement is headed by the Billionarie Boys' club of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, convicted junk bond king Mike Milken, economist Milton Friedman, the Waltons and a handful of others, plus banks and hedge funds.   They're working to privatise public education, deprofessionalise the teaching corp, and resegregate schools across the country, hurting mostly children of colour and low income communities through Race to the Top and the viral spread of charter schools.

The movement has been working quite deliberately behind the scenes to push its agenda into public education.  See this from the Broad Foundation’s Annual Report for 2009:

“The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments - charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards - the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”

As Dora Taylor wrote on the Seattle Ed 2010 blog
"If anyone ever doubted that our Secretary of Education has the same agenda as the Broad Foundation, I believe the above quote will dispel any such thoughts. The relationship between the Broad Foundation and Arne Duncan started when Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, if not earlier, and according to Eli Broad, it is blossoming for him and other education reformites.

If the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Broad has spent and urged others to spend on this movement had instead been spent on school districts, more teachers to create smaller class sizes, and curriculum materials that are lacking in the classroom, we would all be much farther ahead without people who have no idea about what goes in a classroom dictating to others who do how they should teach and instead creating a high-pressure, factory like atmosphere in our schools."

See here, for the 'how to' for would-be reformers to get involved in shaping public education, while AT THE SAME TIME MAXIMISING THEIR ROI IN SELLING PRODUCTS INTO AND PRIVATISING THE SAME PUBLIC EDUCATION...
It makes me sick to my stomach... 

The Key to the Door at 51

I think/feel like I am finally an adult - at the ripe young(old?) age of 51!

Until a couple of years ago, I still felt like I was 17 on the inside... that I was faking/bluffing my way through life and that I'd be caught out soon!  And it was always such a puzzling experience to see the face and body in the mirror that didn't match up with the felt/mental/emotional sense of self...

I would never have believed anyone who told me my life would be like it is today - never in a million years.  I thought I'd still be married to my first husband, watching the grown kids produce their offspring, sitting by the fire like Derby and Joan.  In fact, close friends cried when I left that relationship because it seemed so 'perfect' from the outside (think they cried because when I stopped pretending that it was working for us, they realised they were in deep s**t!!!).

And now here I am with three grown kids far away and a 6.5 year old from a second brief relationship, in a new country, and I think - how the heck did I get here?

I was joking with women friends the other day that I wanted my life back... that I closed my eyes for a second and it kinda slipped off into another dimension... could just see it sliding by... Was joking that I wanted to tell the universe that OK, enough's enough, can I have it back now please!!! They too have a lot of very 'out of the so-called norm' stuff happening in their lives and also want to know what happened in those few moments when they took their eye off the ball...

BUT... if I leave off attaching descriptors like 'good' and 'bad' to the experience, its been the most amazing journey... 

I'm into looking at things on multiple levels and there's so much going on in terms of it being an exploration of human archetypes, of the mythic process ... 

I've learned so much about myself and I see so much interconnectedness and meaning that while some of it is/has been very hard, its also very fulfilling... and I cant imagine my life having meaning any other way... and I am finally living who I really am...

No idea where this is going and how its all going to end up... have given up the need to plan and control and have almost lost the fear - well, on some days anyway!    F
or the reward of the experience, I couldn't have  planned it any better if  I had tried anyway...

The Laws of Attraction and Manifesting Abundance: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

So many of us have been working hard on mastering the Laws of Attraction and manifesting material abundance. We have many resources available to support us in this process including books and films such as The Secret, teachers such as Abraham Hicks, Wayne Dyer, Michael Bernard Beckwith and so many others. 

Some few of us are experiencing a degree of success, while many others are floundering, feeling stuck, feeling like failures because there's been no outward change in our circumstances despite all the visioning, affirmations, visualizations and trying to move our financial ‘set points’ and core beliefs about worthiness. Why might this be?

My guidance tells me that we're missing a piece of the puzzle. The concepts in the teachings are real and true. They're necessary for us to master so that we move out of our sense of victim-hood and helplessness and into our true heritage as divine, sacred, omni-creative beings –  in essence, God.

But there's another realization that needs to come once one begins to understand and play with these concepts. And that's an understanding about what true abundance is, why we want to manifest it and what are we going to do with it once we achieve that mastery?

Many of us want to manifest material abundance to fill a hole in ourselves. We want abundance to fill the hole of fear, the hole of lack, the hole of anxiety, the hole of low self confidence, the hole of separation, the hole of feeling 'less than'. We want material abundance to give us a sense of security that we're in control and safe in our world, that we'll finally be recognized as being someone worthwhile.

Unfortunately, all of these things we are chasing are illusions. All we have is the 'now', this very moment that I'm writing these words and you're reading them. This 'now' might be followed by another moment of 'now', a series of moments of 'now', but there's no guarantee of that, no foreknowledge of when the end of my physical journey will come – in the next 30 seconds or in 20 years' time.

So perhaps there's not so much sense in trying to create and store up security for the future, in amassing material abundance as a hedge against uncertainty and anxiety? Besides, how much of what we create can we fit in our coffins? How many rooms in your house can you physically occupy, in any one moment? How many pairs of shoes can you wear at any one time? How many pairs of shoes can you wear out in your lifetime? How many cars can you drive? How much food can you eat at any one meal, how many books can you read and CDs can you listen to, in any one moment?

Did you know that most indigenous people lived within their environments taking only what they needed and using every piece of whatever they took? And they did this in a sacred manner, asking permission and giving thanks to the energy that was giving up its life so that they could live.

How often do you drive by those storage complexes dotted along most major arterial roads and think about the origin of the resources spent in creating them, and about the waste of all that 'stuff' gathered inside those units? How often do you think about the feelings and life events of the people who have shut away these parts of their lives but, for whatever reason, are not ready or willing to let these aspects of themselves go? Is this where things are at with you, or someone close to you?

The greatest, most powerful manifestor ever to have lived on Earth was the man/prophet called Jesus. He performed 'miracles', turning water into wine at a wedding feast and feeding thousands at a gathering from a few loaves and fishes. But did he manifest a position of power and social acceptance for himself? Did he manifest lavish homes, an extensive wardrobe, hire servants or a donkey and cart to travel around? Did he align himself with the rich, the powerful and the merchants and extol the virtues of material possessions? He didn't. Instead, he lived a humble life, moving from moment to moment with the flow of his journey, walking lightly on the Earth, trusting that his needs would be met and giving what he could to those who had even less than he did, those needing love and healing. The Buddha walked a similar path – he gave up all his riches, all his material possessions and lived most simply. And yet he did not appear to experience lack.

My guidance tells me that yes, we can master the techniques of manifesting abundance and this is a good thing – abundance brings the capacity to have more choices. But with that power comes responsibility and a requirement to be conscious of the consequences that come with the act of creating.

When we step into our creative, manifesting power, we step into new realities or paradigms on the spiritual, intellectual and emotional levels. But we don’t step into a new physical, Planet Earth, we don’t teleport into a parallel universe, a new 3D reality. We are still living here, sharing this time and space with 6 billion other humans and countless other life forms. And this planet, energetically and physically, is a closed environment/system.

We are all connected in this web of life. What I do, what I create, what I CAUSE in my little corner of the web, has ramifications, consequences, EFFECTS in other parts of the web. According to Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist, if the entire earth’s human population were to live as we do here in the West, we would need the resources of five or six Earths. And that’s not a possible reality we can co-create, no matter how spiritually aware, conscious, mature, adept we are.
When I take from the web more than I need in the moment, someone, something elsewhere in the web has to do without, has to pay a cost. When I buy in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco, I am encouraged by a false sense of security and plenty to use wastefully, to forget about the natural and human energies that were spent in producing what I am using so carelessly. I am encouraged not to think about the person who was paid less than a living wage to enable me to use more than my share, more than my need in precious resources.

Some would argue that people in other parts of the world, in other parts of the web, live different lives and have different needs. Is it not more of a ‘truth’ that often they need more than they have and we, even many of the ‘poor’ amongst us in the West, need less?

Perhaps, when we are feeling discouraged about our ability to manifest ‘plenty’ in our lives, we might choose to spend some time thinking about what real, lasting ‘plenty’ means and why we are desiring so much more than what we need in the moment. Perhaps we might choose to acknowledge and be truly grateful for the ‘plenty’ we already do have. Perhaps we might choose to focus more of our time and energy manifesting and sharing abundance with the other travelers – human and otherwise - co-journeying through life with us…

Mars and Venus on Sex

I've been reading and hearing different perspectives on the role of sex in committed relationships and it seems there's a difference in attitude between men and women.

According to what I've read, (some) men feel that women participating in sex with them is an affirmation that she's saying "I love you", and that the absence of sex means she is indifferent.

Some say that by committing to a relationship, especially a marriage, a man has the right to sex on demand - that that is the one benefit a man gains in committing to a monogamous relationship.   

Some even go so far as to say that a woman in a marriage has no right to with-hold sex; that if she does, its part of a power play and she's using sex to control her partner.

I'm going to leave aside the issues of personal, physical and emotional sovereignty and a woman's right to decide where, when and with whom she shares her body - those principles should be a given, especially in a 21st Century world.
There's an adage that says that my responsibility for my words and actions ends with the doing and the saying.   How someone perceives them is not anything I can control, is their choice and their responsibility...

So a man's perception that a woman choosing not to engage with them in sex means that she is indifferent (to him and/or the relationship) is just that - his perception, not necessarily her intention or the reality...

In my opinion, women generally don't think that having sex is the primary way of saying 'I love you' and not engaging in sex does not mean she is indifferent.   This  comes back to the 'need sex versus want sex' argument where the two genders apparently also see things from different perspectives...

There are many, many different reasons why a woman might not want to engage in sex with her partner.   And many, many of those reasons don't have anything at all to do with him personally, so why he would take her expression of reluctance personally, I don't know.

Most women pour their expression of love for their mate (and their families if they have one) into doing the things they do for that person - besides usually having a job, running a household (research tells us women still do the majority of housework), cooking anything at all, let alone a more than basic meal, doing laundry, matching socks, ironing shirts, going to see sports games they aren't interested in, running errands, grocery shopping, picking up the dry-cleaning, taking the kids to the doctor, remembering special occasions, organising birthday and holiday get-togethers... 

Women don't necessarily do these things because they 'have to', or because they love doing them - who wants to be an unpaid char lady or PA, after all?    They do them because they are nurturing and caring for their partners and families, trying to make life more liveable for the person(s) they love, maintaining the life that is the arena for/reflection of the relationship.   And yes, men contribute similarly to a shared life. 

My point is that actions speak louder than words and the positive effects of these ongoing actions (if one is conscious and not taking them for granted as one's right or expectation within the 'roles' of the relationship) I would say are more pervasive and enduring than sex.

I know many women who do not feel cherished and validated in the relationship, especially when things have been difficult all day, there is tension, there has been little or no positive emotional connection.   Then their mate comes up to them in the evening and proposes that they have sex, often using the argument that it will help them feel closer, that it will 'feed' the relationship, the 'us'... 

It's still all coming back to it being a case of the male need and the male idea/style of building and maintaining relationship being the one that is set as the standard to be adopted...

I just cant help feeling that this male perspective is a very 'self-centred' one. Maybe that egocentricity is male hard-wiring?   It reminds me a little of my sons when they were around 4 years old - at the developmental stage where everything is still about them, that the world and everything that happens in it is directly related to their existence, and what they want, they want now... and they can't/won't accept willingly, reasons why that is not possible or appropriate...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Art of Sarcasm - Knowing When You've Gone Too Far

I have this thing about teasing, which I guess relates to the sarcasm thing also...

A long time ago, I realised that teasing was about superiority - having 'fun' at someone else's expense, and the object (victim) of the teasing was supposed to be all mature and grown up about it and laugh along with it.   If the person didnt respond well, they were told they were 'too sensitive' and to grow a thicker layer of skin...

But, its not about fun or camaraderie, and it doesn't matter how small or apparently insignificant the teasing remark is - at its core, its a power play and a put down...

I like humour that points out the inconsistencies in situations and in life and I like self-deprecating humour - we have the right to make fun of ourselves, we don't have the right to make fun of others...

Spirituality and Enlightenment

Some religious traditions suggest that God created man in His own image.   Now, that idea has never sat well with me; I always thought that if that was true, God must be a very ordinary and flawed being and that didn't match the claims made about his infinite power.   Rather, I came to think, unimaginative humans created God in their own image, as an anthropomorphic projection of ourselves.

The ideas about the Divine and Sacred that work for me are based on the holographic principle - the sum of the whole is contained in each of the parts.   

Therefore, if one believes in a Creative Life Force, which is all-knowing, all-powerful, then by extension, we as Its creations are also It - with all that knowledge and all that creative power.   We are each God (I don't usually use that term - its too loaded), but it will do for general understanding.

Once one takes that view on board, it's no longer possible to create excuses, no longer possible to refuse to take responsibility, to be held accountable, to live up to one's full potential - or at least attempt that; and sad to say, there's no going back - once you cross this threshold, you cant pretend you don't know and understand your part in this wondrous co-creation.

And I've had experience in meditation, very early on in my 'awake and aware' journey, of having the boundaries of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self expand into infinity and being all of creation - through boundless space, time, the dimensions - being and knowing and understanding all things that were, are and shall be, feeling this most amazing, huge, overwhelming LOVE and the power of that love... and yet at the same time, feeling all of that contained within my smaller human self.

And from my perspective, we are each of us a manifestation of the Life Force, (kinda like a segment of an orange), which desires to explore, express, experience and understand itself in all of its infinite potential.   And in our living, we bring back to the whole that experience and understanding and add to new and greater levels of being.

All of this happens both in linear time and simultaneously - and we each are individuals but we also are each other and everything else in creation at the same time....

I don't think there are values such as good/bad, right/wrong etc.   I think those terms are human-created in an effort to set a baseline for understanding and to appease our need to define, so that we stay in comfort and delude ourselves that we have control.... 

I don't think the Life Force exerts judgment in that way - things just 'are'.   I think/feel/know It just revels in the joy of infinite expansion, experience and understanding.

Oh, the Power of the Word

In the beginning there was the Word, and the word was God….

That’s very old code for: You are the creator of your own life and experience, and the thoughts and words you use create that reality…   Powerful concepts, filled with the wonder and thrill of endless creativity, but also with the responsibility for the consequences that come with the act of creation…

I’ve been playing with words a lot lately, and the idea of truth telling…

Do you speak what’s real for you and can you just let that out, or do you censor yourself, choose the words and the timing of saying what it is you have to say?

Words have power – the power to create or destroy, nurture or wound, empower or disempower…   How much do you think about that power that you’re wielding every time you open your mouth to let out those small or big , hard or soft words?

It seems to me that for many of us the challenge is to move from a place where we were too intimidated to speak up and speak out to one where we are committed to expressing who we are and what we really think.   For others, it might be the reverse – learning, deciding that at this point in our lives we might become quieter, more deliberate, more reflective…

Where are you on that continuum?

Capitalism, Systems Theory and Sustainability

When I was living in Australia, I was involved with a social change group called Reworking Tomorrow/Australia Connects, and we were discussing community and social systems other than the current ones in place, that might bring a more healthy human and natural environment into being... 

There was a a lot systems theory debating going on, as well as discussion about sustainable community, human affairs/decision making management models... the concept of the empty centre, where there is no leader or group of leaders, but where the community is involved in all decision making and concensus decisions arise organically from respectful discussion and listening and more discussion...

I personally am interested in the idea of 'all for one and one for all' because under systems theory, the needs of the individual are made subordinate to the needs of the group... something that is accepted in many eastern cultures and is the complete opposite of the individualism that is so widespread in the west...

But I can't agree that the needs of the group/society should take pre-eminance over the needs of the individual, as speaking of an organic model, if there is dysfunction/dis-ease in a component of the group, there is dysfunction in the whole, it being the web of life and we all being connected etc... I think there needs to be some sort of balance between the individual and society...

Its interesting that the 'West' has moved so far from community and extended family/clan as a way of living... and we have moved so far that even the nuclear family no longer exists... I see the US and its political and social systems as being a very clear example of that and the subsequent consequences... this society is one of the most stridently individualistic; there is no community and no coherent social framework - its a loose grouping of fractured cells really...

There's a huge cost to the whole in that reality... we prosper or we fail mostly by our own efforts... when we prosper, we, rather than the group, profit by the results... when we fail, it costs the group an enormous amount in social and financial terms... and as the group (body) has a vested interest in the wellbeing of its members (cells), one would think the group would see the wisdom in supporting the members to achieve their greatest potential... but in this society, where profit is the ruling ideology, that very self-evident truism, is (purposely) overlooked ... because if capitalism - the ultimate form of individualism - took that thinking on board, it would have no justification to exist as a political and monetary system...

Its kinda weird and doesnt make any sense... capitalism is shooting itself in the foot because this form cannot continue indefinitely... because its based on the exploitation of resources, ultimately its a closed entropic system which will collapse in on itself...

Real Women - What Are Men Afraid Of?

I think human beings don't like to remember that biologically we are animals, we are related to the apes and apes are more or less hairy! 

Heaven forbid that we acknowledge that we have bodily functions, that we sweat and secrete fluids from various orifices and that those fluids have their own, unique scents that have a multitude of functions, one of them being to attract potential mates!

I think we like to forget our 'beastly' (dirty) primal nature and so to enable our denial, we cover ourselves up, primp and preen (grooming - as the apes do for each other) and have elaborate ideas/standards/techniques/rituals that distance us, take us away from the 'real' states of our bodies. 

Then I think there's a subconscious thing happening on the part of many men who are afraid of adult, powerful women, and so they want to have a relationship with someone with the pre-pubescent look of a bare female child body - only a step or two away from pedophilia, in my opinion...

Most fashion designers are (gay) males who don't like women and are designing for pre-pubescent boy figures.   How can any 'normal' woman fit that physical shape? They can't - only starving models can.   And our young girl children - already sexualised by the fashion industry and media - are learning that's how a woman's body is supposed to look and work and they become victims of eating disorders in an effort to be acceptable.

I think its really sad that women have been brainwashed to think that their normal, natural bodies are ugly and disgusting and unappealing/unattractive...

And then there's the money - billions and billions of dollars being spent in telling women how they have to look, and in creating mostly unhealthy, if not carcinogenic, ecologically damaging products that they need women to buy...

And now you have men buying into that - why men shave/wax their legs/arms etc I don't know... that whole buffed look, the exaggerated abs, the biceps, the product or bleach in the hair...

As a woman I know how much time it takes to maintain that look - and if a man is so into himself and/or so insecure about himself that he needs to go to these lengths to believe himself attractive or to make a statement... then I'm not interested... life's too short to spend so many hours looking in the mirror!

I want to be real, and so I rarely shave... used to and also used to wax... but a challenging life period and other more important things got in the way... didn't have the time or the money to get waxing done professionally (and not enough of a masochist to do it myself!) and got sick of getting the razor out each morning...

And I rebelled against the marketing campaigns that tell a woman she's only desirable if she's totally nude (except for a head full of luscious, flowing shoulder-length curly hair, preferably without any grey in it!) with a painted mask on her face, thin as a rake, with legs up to her armpits and watermelons for breasts ...

But I have to admit I am not at peace with myself over this - the marketing and 'stigma' has had its effect, and I too, fancy that, want to be seen as attractive. Its hard for me to go bare legged in summer, and I wear opaque tights or trousers in winter.   And menopause and changing hormone levels are facts in my life and there are those odd stray hairs appearing on the upper lip and on the chin that come with the wisdom years, that get tweezered out... I hate it that I sometimes still feel ashamed of/insecure about something that is a fact of nature and is not abnormal....

I have some older women friends - true crones - who are wild and natural and sexy and don't give a damn about what anyone thinks, do what they love, are fulfilled in their lives and are truly happy in their 'natural woman' skins - hair and all!

And I want to grow up to be like them - living life free of artificial constraints and standards, living real... and I want that for my daughters... and I want to be with a 'wild' (yet sophisticated and elegant! - no, they are not mutually-exclusionary qualities) man that knows and values that place of freedom and realness for himself, for me and for all living beings...