2022-PowerfulWomenBlog-1

The Divine Feminine: What the World Needs to Create a Just and Balanced Future

If you remember your early American history, you may recall a letter which Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, who had finally managed to wrangle out of a cranky Congress a declaration of independence from Great Britain. Part of what Mrs. Adams wrote was this: “In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Apparently, Abigail’s letter fell on deaf ears. And that ladies’ rebellion she referenced? Well, it still hasn’t really happened. As a result, yesteryear’s women lived in the shadows. And sadly, today’s women haven’t yet walked entirely free of them. It has been an uphill climb, gals, there’s simply no skirting around that fact. (no pun intended ☺︎)

A key reason for this fact is that our academic and mass media-driven western cultural history has, until relatively recently, been entirely white male-defined and dominated. Only recently has there been any backlash against the authorities who ordained and established the practice of the male “white”-washing of history.

In school history books in the United States women, people of color, Native Americans, and non-European immigrants occupy the back seat behind the exploit of white men. That’s why we learned more about John Adams than his wife Abigail, more about Charles Lindbergh than Amelia Earhart, more about John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy than their wives, daughters, sisters or nieces who also dedicated their lives to public service, and more about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than his mother, Althea, who was also assassinated and a major influencer and contributor to the movement at the time.

In fact, among the scant few times when women’s activities have been mentioned in western histories are the instances in which they were accused (at the time) of behaving in an “unwomanly” manner (as witches, “possessed of the devil,” or as prostitutes, contrarians, or out-and-out insane). The homemakers, children raisers, and life partners of most men have come and gone from the world largely unheralded, undocumented, forgotten. I am reminded that my poor mother, may she rest in peace, had a terrible time keeping me in the Catholic boarding schools that she favored for high school. After I had been unceremoniously expelled from yet another high school, worse, in the final year, she arranged an interview for me at a prestigious school run by some nuns in San Francisco. My mother and I arrived, all white gloved and hatted for the interview, and the sisters suggested I go into a side room for half an hour and write a little piece on any topic I desired while they and mother had tea in the parlor. I brought my little piece back shortly after, and read it aloud: in it, I took the position that Joan of Arc was more than a saint – she was a transgender war hero, or whatever the polite word at the time was that would convey that concept. My mother and I were quickly escorted off the property and the next interview was at a decidedly not Catholic high school for young ladies of refinement.

Throughout our history, noteworthy women have (during their times) been egregiously mischaracterized as outlaws or outliers of patriarchal white society: from Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, to Gertrude Stein, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Jane Fonda. These women, as well, as other human rights and women’s advocates and activists, are often castigated as contrary, anti-patriarchy individuals because they dare to present themselves as equal members of, and contributors to, the human race. As singer/songwriter Caryl Simon wrote, “A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.”

It is a sad fact that until the mid-20th century, outspoken women were frequently committed to mental hospitals for refusing to silence themselves and adhere to their male-designated second-class status. Among the reasons stated for committing women to asylums — are you ready for this? — were ill treatment by husband, intemperance, immoral life, jealousy, laziness, masturbation, suppressed masturbation ( that is, damned if you do, damned if you don’t!), novel reading, overaction of the mind, tobacco use, political excitement, excess religiosity, inadequate religiosity, loss of law suit, desertion of husband, bad habits, decoyed into the army, domestic trouble, epilepsy, excessive sexual abuse, women troubles, superstition, feebleness of intellect, and hard study. The list goes on, and most of it is similarly unbelievable. Freud originally announced to an alarmed male audience of fellow physicians that his research had revealed that most women who were accused of the crime of “hysterics,” were in fact victims of sexual abuse by a family member, most often, their own father. He was castigated so severely by his colleagues and threatened with the immediate end of his career for taking that position that he promptly retracted this position, never to voice it again.

If we have any doubts about the position of women, they didn’t even win the Constitutional right to vote across the United States until 1920. And the Equal Rights Amendment still sits in the wings, waiting to be enacted.

What western history books and Judeo-Christian holy books have neglected to mention (except to decry them as superstitious pagan cultures) is that there have been a great many matriarchal societies on Earth, and many patriarchal societies with female Goddesses. In passing, I should mention that the Vedic culture I’ve immersed myself in is one such heavily patriarchal society that, like Catholicism with its Mary figure, has many female gods that soften the story but don’t, in fact, give women any sort of equality in real time.

As a sad result, we’ve been taught far less than half of the human story, which has made far more than half the human population appear to be less consequential, less powerful, and therefore less visible than we instinctively know them to be, and which is why movies that correct the history books to include brave, valiant and powerful women, and why superhero movies like Mulan, Wonder Woman, and Black Widow, and why authors like Maya Angelou (the beloved author of the poem “And Still I Rise”) and researchers and scientists like Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Katherine Johnson, make us want to offer fist bumps and high fives to their high-profile notoriety and courageous contributions. As Marge Piercy once wrote, “A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined shall not be done.”

Now is the perfect time to revisit The Divine Feminine and The Divine Masculine, two energies that exist in all of us and which (when balanced) create a culture in which everyone can thrive. These two energies are the perfect antidote to the toxic masculinity that has marginalized and minimized the contributions of literally billions of people across time and that is so visible today.

The Divine Feminine is a both a spiritual energy and a concept which serves as a counterbalance to the patriarchal historical and worship structures that dominate Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The Divine Feminine goes beyond a single belief system, so it can be embraced by anyone who is interested in co-existing in peace with others.

Despite its gendered name, The Divine Feminine is an aspect of every human being, as is the Divine Masculine. These complementary energies exist in all of us humans. The Divine Feminine is characterized by receiving, doing, and acting in powerful, loving, and caring ways. (Mother Mary and Eleanor Roosevelt are representatives of this type of energy.)

The Divine Masculine, on the other hand, is characterized by giving, doing, and acting in powerful, loving, and caring ways. (Abraham Lincoln and the Dali Llama are representatives of this type of energy.)

But when masculine energy is toxic/aggressive, it goes beyond mere assertiveness, determination, and action- and goal-oriented practices, which all too often results in environmental degradation, societal segregation, and national disintegration.

The Divine Feminine, when it dominates or becomes toxic, although less destructive (because it isn’t driven to compete or to assert), allows phrases like “boys will be boys” and “as long as there are greedy people in high places, there will always be wars and injustice” to enter the vernacular to help convince ourselves that “it is what it is and no one can change it,” which is patently untrue and reduces the desire to work to make things better. The Divine Feminine is immensely powerful and change-making, but only when it’s named, claimed, and activated by intention.

Given this refreshing new perspective, the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, when in balance, are the perfect solution to the troubles and challenges that face us as a species and as a planet.

Those of you familiar with Chinese philosophy will recognize the similarity to the yin and yang energies. The yin and yang symbol, in which the black and white shapes swirl into and out of each other instead of appearing as harshly bordered no-fly zones, show us in visual form that the divine masculine and feminine complement and balance each other. It is when one side dominates that a culture suffers from imbalance and injustice.

Again, masculine, and feminine energies are ever-present inside every individual, at every moment, everywhere on earth. When they’re divinely inspired by Spirit/Source, they work together to create cultures of lovingkindness and practices that restore and replenish the planet.

National divine feminine conversations and actions revolve around caring for the earth and its inhabitants (human and non-human), promoting racial and gender equity, and advocating universal health care. Each of these conversations and actions emphasize nurturing and creating balance within a supportive society built on lovingkindness and the recognition that other human beings exist and are rightful heirs to identical rights and needs, and that denying one is an abrogation of our responsibilities to care for all. Amy Tenney wrote, “The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build up others, who will love and be loved, women who live bravely, both tender and fierce, women of indomitable will.”

And harking back to the wild, wild west, Calamity Jane said, “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she better start now.”

That’s the spirit, and the formula! High vibrational energy, can-do/will do attitude, and pure intention – the three key ingredients to making sure the things happen that you want to have happen!

The Divine Feminine is active, loving, compassionate, and forward-looking. It anticipates the next best thing that can occur and works to ensure its fruition. It nurtures, fosters, and promotes wellbeing and lovingkindness. It doesn’t compete: it completes.

With that being said, to find balance in all aspects of your life, it is necessary to focus on both energies. And our bestselling Awakening the Divine Feminine course can help you do just that. If you’ve ever felt that something in your life just isn’t right – out of balance – then this might just be the solution that you’ve been searching for. Click here to learn more about this course >>

abortion

Back to Coat Hangers and Back Alley Abortions

abortion

When Roe v Wade became law back in 1973, I was in my last year of law school. For those of you who have read my first book Truth Heals, a national bestseller, you know I wasn’t in a good place emotionally, having been sexually assaulted by my father since early childhood.

But, given my youthful experiences with sexuality, by the time I reached the age of consent, I certainly realized the immense power that sexuality held over men, and I used mine to pole vault higher and faster than many of the men in my class. (There were very few women in law school at the time)

I knew the key to power wasn’t just brains and good grades. I knew that short skirts, and more, would aid men in positions of power to help me up the corporate ladder. I eventually outgrew the technique when cancer came calling at age 25, and I realized that what Daddy had taught me was on course to kill me.

In my earlier years, I suppose (and I confess my unwillingness to admit this) I wasn’t terribly different from notable powerful men who flaunt their sexuality, men like Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

But of course, the rules are different for men

Men’s excesses – even when blatantly coercive and unsought — are explained and excused as “young men simply sowing their wild oats,” innocent of any true intention to subjugate their conquests, while I was enlisting my sexuality as a useful tool to get ahead. I remember well my mother excusing the boys and men in our family for any indiscretions, with her offhand “boys will be boys” remarks. Men can use their bodily autonomy to press their power and manhood, no matter the cost to the women they mistreat, while I was negotiating with men who knew exactly what they wanted. (For me, it was Let’s Make a Deal, as opposed to Let’s Take From Women What We Want!)

Imagine what could have become of me had I become pregnant during the times I was “negotiating” my way to early career success, had there been no Roe v Wade ruling to ensure another medically safe way to set myself free of the results of my father’s early training? I would have had to drop out of law school and the trajectory of my life would have taken a tumble that may well have been impossible to recover from.

Fortunately, I never had to make such a gut-wrenching decision due to my bodily autonomy, but millions of women have, and I am firmly in their court because I could have ended up standing in their shoes, and I know it would have been a dismal and shame-inducing decision, no matter which way I decided. I would have felt obligated to hide that decision from nearly everyone else for my entire life.

My story isn’t unique. A friend of mine back then was able to get a medically safe, legal abortion when she needed one, thanks to Roe v Wade. She went on to have four children later in life after she could afford to raise them. (Her husband, a freelance illustrator, raised the children while she brought home the bread and bacon that sustained them all those early years, before his career took off.) She does not regret her early abortion decision.

The Defining Difference

For men, youthful indiscretions get “attaboys” in this patriarchal culture, while sexually active women get branded as “sluts,” “gold diggers,” “seductresses,” or “party girls.”

This twisted and bizarre prevailing attitude — that men should be able to do whatever they want with their bodily autonomy, but if what they do results in a pregnancy, then the women they impregnate should carry their pregnancies to term — has brought us perilously close to losing our precious (and hard-fought) right to remain the masters of our fate. Are you aware that, already, in 31 states, rapists can gain visitation or custody rights to the children produced by their felonious conduct? Can you imagine the emotional upheaval that rulings like these cause the female victims of their violent acts? It’s enough to turn your stomach.

If “settled law” can be overturned (which the present majority of Supreme Court Justices deemed Roe v Wade to be during their confirmation hearings, but have since conveniently forgotten), so can marriage equality, the rights of LGBTQIA+ folks, and even women’s voting, credit card, and property-owning rights.

We already see what’s being done right now to keep people of color from voting in so many states. Individual “settled case” human rights laws which are subsequently deemed by the powers to be “federal overreach” are also on the chopping block. Where will it all end? I shudder to think.

Suddenly, Margaret Atwood’s description of a society in which women fall under the total control of autocratic white men, as seen in the TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, appears to be on the cusp of coming to life, step by calculated step.

The right to bodily autonomy, as determined by the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, is a single domino. But watching it fall into additional human rights dominoes will be our undoing. We are an exceedingly fragile democratic republic. It’s rulings like these that will determine our ability to remain so. Autocracy is waiting in the wings to replace what we’ve been on course to correct and perfect for hundreds of years.

If Roe v Wade is Overturned

If the pending decision can’t be overturned, there needs to be an immediate outcry over the three most recently appointed Supreme Court Justices who intentionally misled Congress on their way to their present positions.

Additionally, there needs to be the first steps toward an increase in the number of Supreme Court Justices which a President who is in touch with the wishes of the American people can put into place to counteract the extremist positions that threaten women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

Something to consider: Establishing mandatory vasectomies for unmarried, financially insecure men would violate bodily autonomy, too — no one gets pregnant without sperm — and I don’t see a single law on the books, or pending, that subjects men to any such responsibility constraints. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. That’s what equality is all about.

And — parenthetically — why is the Equal Rights Amendment still not the law of the land? Is it because equality scares men who want to control women’s bodies and fates? It’s time to push back.

The Supreme Court has recently been barricaded against a potential backlash

The Capitol police are anticipating fired up women doing what the former president’s mostly-male adherents did in Washington D.C on January 6th, 2021. If ever there was sufficient justification for such an action, this might be it. But invasion and violence aren’t options; they just inflame and solidify positions.

Consider Laci Wooten-Holway who has been bravely protesting outside Brett Kavanaugh’s home. She is going it alone (usually) and she is being both applauded and vilified.

She is taking a terrible chance. 

But it is long past time — for those of us who believe that women should not be dictated to when it comes to their bodily autonomy — to take some terrible chances, and I applaud her courage.

With Laci’s courageous, unilateral act in mind, I encourage those of you who can, to show up at local and regional protests in your area. There are many happening in the next few days. Here is a link to help you find out more about them. The protests started on Mother’s Day and will go for a week. I urge you to join one near you. Do a search on “Roe V Wade protests” and your zip code to find the one(s) nearest you.

And join me on Facebook where you can comment on a post and thus stand up and be counted.

The Bottom Line

Every child who is born should be wanted, cherished, and adequately supported by their parents. Sadly, if Roe v Wade is overturned, unwanted and inadequately supported children will be the result. I simply can’t imagine a worse fate for them, or for the world.

There are enough humans already, and far too many of them already feel marginalized, abandoned, and hopeless. Overturning Roe v Wade will only compound the tragedy.

If you’re with me on this crucial issue, please don’t sit this one out.

Woody Allen Family

The Arc of Justice

Woody Allen indicted in the court of public opinion

I can’t imagine watching a Woody Allen movie these days.

Everywhere you look, there are fingerprints of a finely-hidden monster, scrawled like graffiti tags, pulsing in the background of every film.

Barely ten minutes into his old comedy, Bananas, he makes a joke about “advanced child molesting.” And that’s not the only instance, not by a longshot. His scripts are peppered with disturbing and obsessive jokes about abuse, sexual and familial. It’s a real red flag.

I can’t watch his movies anymore, but I did watch Allen v. Farrow – the new HBO docuseries that takes a much-needed critical eye to the story of Woody Allen’s abuse of Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.

Now, many of you may not remember, but news of Woody Allen’s abuse hit the press back in 1992. At the time, this was a strange and salacious case, filled with “he said’s,” and “she said’s,” and “oh, she’s been coaching her,” and “this is blown out of proportion,” until the whole thing became a weird, unresolved footnote.

Woody Allen kept making movies and winning Oscars. Mia Farrow dropped out of the public eye. Then, in 2014, Dylan Farrow published a letter in The New York Times, pressing her case that Woody Allen had abused her. Again in 2018, she went public, detailing Allen’s abuse and asking, “Why hadn’t #MeToo come for Woody Allen?”

Now, three years later, here we are, with a withering documentary that strips away all of the “he said’s” and “she said’s” to reveal a stark and unflinching view of Woody Allen as a predator and a master manipulator. This is a chilling story of much more than rapacious pedophilia; it’s the story of the unbridled abuse of power.

It starts with Mia.

As I watched the documentary, I was struck by how insidiously Woody Allen dismantled Mia Farrow’s agency over their relationship. Over their thirteen years together, Woody cast Mia in thirteen of his movies. At first glance, that sounds innocuous. But then you realize that Woody Allen was Mia Farrow’s boss. He was writing and directing these movies, which meant he could nix her at any time. He changed her working arrangement so that his agent represented her. Think about that: her husband was now her boss, and she was required to use his agent.

He effectively had her under his thumb. Any money Mia Farrow made was through a Woody Allen project. This is a classic tactic of an abuser: cutting off independence.

Of course, as we know, it doesn’t stop with Mia Farrow. Through the documentary, it is clearly shown how Woody abused Dylan and then orchestrated a clever and forceful PR campaign to hamstring the investigation. To pre-empt the story of child abuse, Woody went public with his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn – Farrow’s other adopted daughter. This PR coup allowed Woody to reframe the abuse allegation as a form of retribution by Mia Farrow: the “spurned woman” who was trying to get revenge against Woody. For having sex with his other daughter. Seriously.

Look at that: Woody Allen turned an abuse allegation against himself into a weapon to hurl back at Mia Farrow. This is abuse of power on steroids.

It is difficult to parse out all of the wrinkles and turns in the investigation, but it becomes quite clear that the vaunted Yale-New Haven Hospital report, which proclaimed that Dylan Farrow was not a credible witness, was a sham. Nine times, a seven-year-old girl was forced to be interviewed by investigators about Woody Allen’s abuse to determine if her story had “any inconsistencies.”

Nine times!

If the story matches nine times out of nine, they cry “coaching.” If anything is inconsistent, they cry “she made the whole thing up.”

Tellingly, all the notes from each of these interviews were destroyed – something very much out of the ordinary. As this part of the documentary aired, it became quite clear that there were serious missteps in the execution of this report. While the documentary hints at potential cover-ups and potential political pressures by the Dinkins mayoral administration in New York City to quash the Allen inquiry, we don’t have the evidence . . . yet.

Woody Allen weaponized this Yale-New Haven Hospital report. He wielded it like a cudgel, suing Farrow for full custody of their children, and suggesting Farrow had coached Dylan and was an unfit mother. The judge, thank God, would have none of it; the court confirmed Mia as a fit parent and said Woody was a threat to Dylan Farrow’s safety.

Look at that. When Allen’s smoke-and-mirror defenses were put before a court of law, they came crumbling down. Which is why it was so disturbing that Woody Allen has never been tried and convicted. For the last thirty years, he’s used his celebrity power to dodge the court of law and has confused the court of public opinion.

This is why Allen v. Farrow is such an important documentary. Through this unflinching lens, the series dismantles Allen’s defenses on small screens across the country, cutting his defenders off at the knees.

It is said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Woody Allen has managed to keep that arc at bay for thirty years. But thanks to perseverance from Dylan Farrow, and the investigative journalism of Allen v. Farrow, that moral arc has broken back toward justice. Once again, the court of public opinion has become the court of last resort.

When Mia Farrow and Woody Allen were in the midst of separating, he told her that she’d never work in this country again. He blacklisted Mia Farrow for speaking out against his abuse. To this day, she still fears him.

Now, the truth has finally caught up to him. As a result, he’s not found an American distributor for his recent movies. His publishers have pulled out of book deals. I don’t know if he’ll ever see the inside of a jail cell, but, with this documentary, that’s okay, as sunlight is the best disinfectant. The light of truth is wiping away the obfuscation of his abuses against Mia and Dylan. And in bringing these charges to light, Allen’s power withers away.

I invite you all to watch Allen v. Farrow to fully understand how serious and credible these allegations are. Then shake your head that, once again, we, for a bit, let celebrity trump our own instincts for truth. Now, may the truth heal Mia Farrow and her children.

Yantra mantra meditation

A Yantra in the Snow

Yantra mantra meditation
Artist: Simon Beck

It was a cold, bitter day, many years ago, that I found myself walking through New York City during a snowfall. For those of you who haven’t seen New York in a snowfall, it’s beautiful for about ten minutes. Then it melts into a mudslide. Suddenly, there’s brown and black mud-snow everywhere. Cars whoosh it up onto the sidewalks. Slurries pool at crosswalks, threatening to engulf any pair of shoes (and half of your pants) as you foolishly plunge in.

I didn’t know this. But I quickly learned when a pair of my jeans went from indigo to khaki thanks to a speeding cab. And I was not happy. My energy field, in retrospect, became muddied, as I repressed these feelings of irritation. As I walked through the streets of New York, I found myself becoming more frustrated. Colder, wetter, dirtier. Not a hot chocolate or caroler in sight.

Fran Lebowitz on her new Netflix special said, “it would only take one subway ride to turn the Dalai Lama into a raving lunatic.” Friends, I’m not proud to say it only took a few blocks walking to make me feel the same.

That is, until I happened upon Lincoln Center. I was walking up Broadway, battling the muck, when I looked to my left and saw a scene practically out of a snow globe. A perfectly framed plaza, covered in sugary snow, flanked by the ballet on one side, Juilliard on the other. Holding the whole scene together: The Metropolitan Opera, gleaming with its modernist arches and welcoming glass.

I didn’t know where I was. I looked to my right, and all I saw was a streaming line of cabs, brown snow, and palpable anxiety. To my left: a pristine palace. I meandered on over, kicking my way through the snow, across the plaza and into a grove of trees, bereft of leaves. I looked down: where my feet had not yet stepped, the snow lay as pure as pristine powder. I looked behind: where my feet once were, the snow had been compressed. Compressed, but still pure and white.

I don’t know what energy came over me, but I put my foot out, and began moving it across the snow. Slowly. Slowly in deliberate lines, I found myself weaving a geometric picture underneath the trees. A picture of a few interlocking triangles, then a star.

The drawings didn’t stem from my conscious mind; rather, it was the pull of my unconscious that manifested onto the snow.

You’ve heard of the term mantra. Mantra refers to a word or sound that is repeated in meditation. What you may not have heard of is yantra. Yantra is a mystical diagram used as an aid in worship, ritual, or meditation. While the term comes from India, we certainly could use “yantra” to describe mystical symbols we create all the time. A drawing of the cross. The Star and Crescent. The Star of David. Magic Circles. When we focus our energy through these drawings, we augment our own energy as well, as tap into sacred energies beyond ourselves. The act of drawing and ruminating upon the drawing is ritual. It is meditation. Connection.

And that is what I was doing, moving my feet in the snow. I was drawing upon that clean, unvarnished energy to clear, charge, and balance my energy field that had been contaminated by my unprocessed emotions. I was channeling myself into this subconscious yantra: blessing myself, blessing the land, and giving thanks to this respite in the middle of Manhattan.

The snowfall quickened as I finished my design, and even the prettiness of Lincoln Center couldn’t thaw my frozen fingers, so I bid adieu to the plaza, and headed back uptown to my hotel.

As I walked away, with the snow quickening, I couldn’t help but wonder, “would anyone happen upon my drawing?” If they did, would they appreciate it? Would this design grant them the same serenity that it had granted me?

Or, perhaps, would it be best that it be covered with new snow and washed clean again? Would it be best that it be returned to a blank slate so that another weary traveler could marvel at the unexpected grace of an undisturbed block of New York in snowfall?

Give thanks for the unexpected. Embrace the energy of a gift freely given. Plant the seeds of another for a stranger.

Be the snowfall in a forest. Be radiant. Be peace.

Collective Unconscious

The Collective Unconscious – Our World Tree of Emotions

Collective Unconscious

I was driving through Colorado last year, on my way to a wedding. I love weddings: young love in full bloom, familial love growing stronger; weddings are beautiful celebrations of love’s connectivity. The love is infectious.

As I was driving to the wedding, driving away from Denver and into the thin air of the Rockies, I passed groves of aspen trees. Thin, white, spindly. Like a whispering wood of spirits that guarded over the mountains themselves.

I had seen these groves before, and I certainly wasn’t the first to be moved by their quiet gravitas – John Denver beat me to it in Aspenglow by a few decades. But as I passed the aspen, I couldn’t help but feel that there were fewer groves than I’d seen previously. Where once there were ranks of groves of aspen – like a silent army of trees – there now appeared sparser outcroppings – a scouting party of aspen.

It turns out that aspen trees aren’t individual organisms. In a grove, each “tree” is a genetically identical “shoot.” All shoots are connected through an extraordinarily rich and detailed root structure. When you look at a grove of aspen, what you’re actually seeing is one giant organism – one giant tree dispersed among the thousands of shoots.

Aspen have been fading in Colorado mostly due to severe drought. When the waters dry up, the aspen die. Because they are interconnected, death affects the entire grove. The pain is experienced by the whole, connected organism – not just the individual shoot.

We wouldn’t know this simply by looking at the trees. We’d simply marvel and wonder how all these individual trees died all at once. Because we’re only looking at the surface. It’s only when we dig deep enough to see the vast, collective consciousness of these aspen can we see how they live and thrive and wilt and die as one.

I am reminded of the retreating aspen when I think about us today. We, all around the world, are hurting. Many of us are sick. Many have died. And many of us mourn the loss of the ones we love. We’re suffering. And while we know that there are millions around the world – just like us – carrying this burden of suffering, we somehow believe that our pain is contained only within ourselves. Our sickness is contained in just our own little shoot. Even though the shoot next to us is also in pain. All the shoots are sick. But we believe that the pain, the grief, the anguish is individual.

Carl Jung, one of the founders of psychology, posited that there existed a vast collective unconscious. Each individual’s psyche was a persona that emanated from this collective unconscious. This “world spirit” was the birthplace of our archetypes of father, mother, safety, danger, hero, and countless others. We, then, are primed to analyze our world through these hard-wired archetypes.

I want to take this one step further. This collective unconscious isn’t merely responsible for how we perceive the world; it’s a profound energy feedback loop that connects us all with each other. It’s our aspen root network. Look around: even in people who have been lucky enough to avoid the coronavirus, rates of mental illness have been skyrocketing. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse have all increased. As individuals, we suffer when the whole of the world suffers.

There is a blight upon our connected unconscious – a blight that began with a virus whose initial pain sent shockwaves and secondary tremors through our collective psyche. We’re feeling the anxiety of the world.

Why is it hard to recognize this? Perhaps it’s because we’ve come to respect our own crucial roles in this pandemic. Each of us knows to mask up, wash our hands, stay six feet away from each other. We’re critically in tune with our own, singular bodies. But because we’ve been so focused on how we operate as individuals, we’ve lost sight of how we operate as a collective. And therefore we get surprised and confused when anxiety or depression is upon us. “I’m healthy,” we think. “I exercise, I wash my hands. I do yoga and take my probiotic. So why am I so scared?”

We’re scared because the grove is scared. We’re anxious because a soul we’re connected to is anxiously awaiting to see if her mother will make it off a ventilator. We’re depressed because another connected soul can’t see his grandchildren for the holidays. We’re sad because our collective soul is sad.
So what do we do when we know that there is a blight upon our grove?

I think back to my trip to Colorado, about driving away from the aspen and up to the wedding. I think about all the smiles, the tears, the dancing, the kisses, and the relationships strengthened at this celebration of love.

And I remember feeling invigorated and filled to my fingertips with love and generosity.

So my answer is to love. Love yourself, love your neighbor. Love your dog, your cat. Push the love out there like rain in a drought. Replenish your grove, because it’s the only grove we’ve got.

Join me, if you can, on a journey where I show you how to focus the energy of love and light into healing. Our medical intuition course will help you activate your higher heart, so that you can share that positive healing light with the world. Our class just began, but there’s still time to jump right in! We’re saving you a seat!

Connect with yourself. Connect with the world. And let the healing begin.

Blackkklansman

BlacKkKlansman Review

Blackkklansman

It’s summertime (still!) and a great time to catch a fun movie: director Spike Lee really hits an all-time high with his BlacKkKlansman, now at a Cineplex near you. Bringing home once again that old saw that truth is stranger than fiction, the film tells the story of Ron Stallworth, played by John Davis Washington – who, back in the 70’s, becomes the first black cop in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Even more improbable, when Ron gets bored working in the records department, he manages to talk his way into a job undercover, and infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Sounds wild and it is!

I promise, you will not be bored: it starts off with a clip from Gone with the Wind (my favorite book and film as a child) revering the Confederate flag, and moves on to Alec Baldwin delivering a white supremacist tirade. It’s a dramedy of the highest order: be prepared to both laugh your head off and boil in anger all at the same time as you roll along with Ron and his sidekick, Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman, brilliantly played by Adam Driver. (It’s pretty hard to watch Driver without laughing, no matter the role).

Officer Stallworth manages to strike up a phone acquaintance with none other than the infamous David Duke, head of the White Nationalists, and incredibly creepy in his suit and tie and normalness. You’d think the whole thing just too ridiculous if the image of a group of angry young white men marching with torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us” wasn’t seared in your memory from just last summer.

 

The movie runs pell-mell to an incredible climax, again, truth way stranger than any fiction could be written; you will not believe your eyes.

I suppose I could find fault in some of the film’s timing – it’s a little uneven – but hey, I enjoyed it way too much for that. It is truly one of the best films of this year – it’s the work of a cinema giant. As I walked out I turned to the man next to me and blurted out “I’ve got to do more!” and he said “me too!” Go see the film and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – you’ll want to do more too!

Open Borders

Love vs. fear – which is guiding us

Open Borders

As a spiritual teacher, I’ve long taught there are two basic emotions – love and fear, and every emotion and action can be tracked to either one or the other.

If you prefer, call them good and evil, hope and hopelessness, the best of us and the worst of us, but know this: whatever the literary context, it always comes down to right and wrong.

When the border crisis is dismissed as “just political,” I feel compelled to speak. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A humanitarian crisis of historic proportion is unfolding at America’s borders. No ifs, ands, buts, or maybes, the stories aren’t fake but painfully real. It’s not about votes or nightly soundbites, but mothers and children, families and values.

Some things are simply too abhorrent to defend and most of us learned long ago that defending the indefensible will never work out. Coming to terms with a crisis like this is neither easy nor optional. We’ll either figure it out and learn from it or, failing that, risk the moral undoing of who we are and all we aspire to be.

As a horrified world watches America default the moral leadership that has inspired hope and set us apart for nearly two and a half centuries, it’s important to look beyond politics to fully understand what is occurring and what it means in human terms.

We have long stood for the country that takes all – the inscription on the Statute of Liberty reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

It’s impossible to reconcile those sentiments with our current stance at the border. We have refugees seeking a better life here, and we are suddenly turning them into criminals and taking away their children in the process.

This can’t be sugar-coated or explained away.

There is nothing political in a baby ripped from her mother’s breast, a toddler sleeping on concrete under a mylar blanket in a facility reminiscent of a jail, or a stunned teenager frightened at a separation he can’t possibly understand.

This emphasis on fear isn’t new, take a look at what’s happening right now in France, German, Italy, and the Netherlands, where fear about the “otherness” of immigrants is being pushed. Around the world people are being manipulated by fear. Emotions are weaponized to trample human values. Ends justify the means as people are used heartlessly as pawns in a much bigger game. That the powerful blame the powerless to stay in power is an old story. Leveraging the emotional vulnerability of the weak to further an agenda is a new wrinkle on an old evil.

Blaming those with different ideas or viewed as threats is a proven technique shamefully enhanced. Look to the language used to justify inexcusable actions, how it expertly stokes fear to manipulate and encourage us to close our eyes to what we see and accept it as okay. Words like “crisis, disaster, an out-of-control influx of criminals pouring over open borders, drug dealers, thieves, rapists” – language meant to incite and further an ugly narrative.

We are told these are people we shouldn’t want or welcome. English isn’t their first language and their skin is often darker than ours. We’re warned that what they want is ours – told their gain is our loss – and it must be stopped.

There are a number of truths here. First, this is a real disaster. Second, it’s a crisis that didn’t have to be; it was discretionary. Third, we have more than enough room for immigrants, as we are a much less dense population than other countries and our population is declining. We should be eager to have these hard-working, highly motivated people who have a lower crime rate, higher marriage rate, and are more church-going than our own citizens, all values we claim to cherish.

Sadly, the tragedy is that there appears to be no carefully thought-out next step, no skillfully-exercised solution conceived to undo the damage done. We can imagine an ever-increasing number of children and families left in limbo for months. The human collateral damage is simply incomprehensible.

By leveraging immigration fears, we’re asked to turn our backs on refugees fleeing tyranny, ignoring our most basic, admirable American values.

I’ve always believed in the idea that there is enough, more than enough, for all of us. Plus, we all learned as children we must give to get. And there is no more basic teaching than the Golden Rule, telling us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. The answer to our biggest problem lies within us.

Reject fear, choose love.

Value humanity above all else; in the end that’s our best and oldest defense.

Defend against fear by rising above it and meeting it with love.

That isn’t politics. It couldn’t be more human. Or divine.

Children at the border

Why How We Behave at the Border Matters

Children at the border
photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

I was truly moved by the First Lady this morning. She spoke eloquently about immigrant children separated from their parents at the border. Mrs. Trump, following similar guidelines of other former first ladies, urges us to govern with heart.

This crisis at our border is not about politics; it’s about us—our behavior and our core values. It doesn’t matter what laws we have on the books, who put them in place or when. Children are being hurt right in front of our eyes, and we must not allow it.

In a lifetime of teachable moments, I most cherish these precious and rare opportunities to share something of human value empowering the best in us; moments that attest to our highest purpose which naturally inspire our spiritual growth.

This is one of those.

Our values are expressed by our behavior and we can’t ignore the consequences of our actions. The way we behave impacts the behavior of others, which in turn influences their treatment of others. We choose how to create our world.

Because behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it makes a public statement, serving as a lens into our heart that showcases our values. Our actions, even small ones viewed as inconsequential, can have profound consequences. No one is exempt from the impact of his/her own behavior. Sadly, learning to take personal responsibility for how we behave may be one of life’s most urgently needed but difficult to learn lessons.

When we allow what is happening to innocent children at our borders, when we hear doctors and psychologists describe the lifelong damage it causes and remain silent, and when our response to such cruel behavior is to do nothing or worse, argue about who’s fault it is, what does that say about us?

As a spiritual teacher, I counsel against accepting less of ourselves, and to demand more. Each of us makes that choice and our behavior tells the world the choice we’ve made. And, in the end, our behavior reveals our humanity and core values defining our moral compass.

Whether we are red or blue, black or white, rich or poor, young or old, we must choose to protect innocent children being ripped from their mothers’ arms. Here’s a moment to make our world a better place, defined by the best we have to offer, instead of debasing the world with the worst .

It’s what these children and our future world deserve.

billcosbyguilty

Cosby Conviction a Victory for Women and Men

It’s nothing less than a seismic cultural shift, perhaps the greatest our generation will ever witness.

Twelve men and women comprising the jury in a Norristown, Pennsylvania courtroom did the unthinkable on Thursday, convicting Bill Cosby, now 80 years old, of drugging and sexually molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. The verdict was met with cries of relief and joyful celebration. It changes everything, and not just for women, but for everyone. Its significance cannot be overstated, because this is about more than any one man, any one case, or any one movement.

#MeToo will garner much of the credit for changes in attitude that brought the man down. The movement was certainly a catalyst, and deserving of credit, but what’s bigger this time is that it’s about all of us. Understanding it requires putting the man, his groundbreaking life, the broken and shattered lives of millions of women throughout history, along with the movement, into context.

Bill Cosby was nothing less than an American icon; wildly popular stand-up comic that broke ground in the 50’s and 60’s and never stopped. The first African-American to star on a national network’s television series, I Spy in 1965. He won Emmy’s, three consecutively.

“The Cosby Show,” a staple on NBC from 1984-1992, featured America’s first affluent and educated black family. Here he became America’s Dad. With “I Spy” some had called Cosby the Jackie Robinson of TV, and there was truth to that. In “The Cosby Show” he became the black Marcus Welby and during its run there was no bigger star on TV.

Cosby’s wealth and influence grew along with his fame. He was revered, respected, trusted and handsomely paid. His voice could be heard on Saturday morning children’s television, and for years, he was the famous spokesperson for no less an American institution than Jello Pudding.

Now, his name and face are infamous, and he has become a national pariah synonymous with something evil and wrong that has gone on for the past 5,000 years + of patriarchy. Molesting Andrea Constand was no isolated event. Dozens of accusers had made similar charges over decades against the comedian, television star, and professor, that had embodied what we considered good and admirable in our society for over half a century.

Constand’s case, however, was the only one where the statute of limitations hadn’t yet run. She deserves our thanks and admiration for her courage and commitment to finding justice.

And so, last Thursday, in a retrial after a hung-jury couldn’t reach a verdict in a trial last year, America’s most famous dad became America’s most infamous felon.

The thunder of hooves you hear is the stampede of corporations, universities, the rich, the famous, and the rest of us, cutting financial and emotional ties with a man that had been part of American life for most of our lives. The silence is the absence of his sitcom reruns no longer airing.

Women around the world are celebrating and this is proper given the conviction of a man of such stature that did unconscionable evil.

What Harvey Weinstein ignited fueled movements and a meteoric cultural recalibration. Cosby’s conviction is the best worst-case example of how society’s bullet-proof protections for sexual predators have disappeared; perhaps, at last, forever. What was once okay is no longer okay and will no longer be ignored and swept under the rug. At last, a woman’s voice can be heard.

The movement, like the Cosby conviction, should be considered not only a game-changing, needle-moving event, but also a moment and opportunity for national healing.

After experiencing sexual abuse as a child, I’ve worked through it all my life as a writer, speaker, and spiritual teacher. I wrote my first book, Truth Heals, because healing should be our highest priority. Even now. Especially now.

The verdict isn’t just a victory for #MeToo, and it’s much more than a victory for women. It’s a victory for all of us, women, and men, too.

Equality of rights, opportunities and treatment under the law – for everyone.

Perhaps it’s time for #MeToo to consider a companion movement.

We could call it #AllofUs.

We’d love to read your comments.

DKC_GunViolence

Only in America: Gun Horror
Where Leadership Has Failed Us

The latest school shooting in Florida today is just that – only the latest. 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of the year. Since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 239 school shootings, with 438 people shot, 138 dead, and the rest of us numb.

The uncomfortable truth is that nowhere else in the world is the problem so severe, so out of control, and seemingly so hopeless. The statistics are indisputable, yet nothing seems horrific enough to move us Americans to act.

The murder of innocents defies party and political agenda, but the fact is that the NRA has highjacked our safety and peace of mind with a distortion of the 2nd Amendment. Read the Amendment – it’s not about the right to bear arms but the right for states to raise a militia. It has been used for generations as a scare tactic to avoid discussion of responsible gun sales and ownership.

Only in America are AR-15s and similar weapons of war freely available as commodities, and that is morally irresponsible, shameful and unacceptable madness. Yet politicians for years have been beholden to the NRA. Every politician that chooses to be a willing beneficiary of their dollars does so at the cost of American safety and has the blood of our children on their hands.

After each tragedy, we wonder if it’s finally enough to bring our leaders to their senses and do what’s right, not expedient or politically safe.

After each tragedy, politicians spout the canned, “our hearts are broken … the victims and their families are in our prayers.”

President Trump had a huge opportunity this morning to think beyond party, his base, his donors, and what’s convenient and safe. His short speech was full of platitudes, skillfully drafted to say all the politically correct things.

Yet it was what he failed to say that spoke loudest of all: nothing about spearheading legislation to address the gun problem in the United States. He failed to address what everyone knows is one of America’s most urgent challenges. It was time to say what needs to be said. It was time for true leadership when we need it most.

Trump said none of that, failed the test, and as our leader, failed all of us. Again.

The time has come for Americans of all political parties to demand better. We need to require a background check on every gun sale; 34% of mass shooters would have been prohibited from owning a gun with a background check. We need to ban ownership of any and all military-style weapons; a hunter doesn’t bring down a deer with an AR-15 nor does the homeowner need it next to his bed to ward off an intruder.

Let’s get serious about solving this problem by voting in to office only those who stand for sensible gun safety laws. Let’s quit settling for being the only supposedly civilized nation in the world that allows this kind of carnage.

Our children’s very lives depend upon it.

Join the Conversation

Do you agree with me? Disagree? Or have a personal story about guns you’d like to share?

An open dialogue is crucial to finding solutions to these “hot” issues. However, please be respectful of one another – foul language and bullying are not tolerated under any circumstances.

tim-marshall-114623

#MeToo 2.0: The Movement’s Painful Next Step

MeToo

Before offering my take on #MeToo v2.0, first things first.

It’s only fair to tell you where I stand, what I think needs to be said and should happen next, and why keeping silent on that subject screams loudly to all of us that know better. This is because silence threatens the very values under attack that we’re all seeking to protect.

As a victim of sexual harassment that spoke out many years ago, my heart is with the movement, it aches for the suffering of so many, and is in awe of their courage. From my own childhood and adult experiences, I wrote a New York Times bestselling book and spoke around the country and around the globe about finding the strength and path to healing, encouraging others to do the same.

I’d never claim that it’s easy, but I’m living proof that it’s possible.

It’s true now, more than ever, the cultural paradigm has shifted, the needle has moved, and thankfully, there’s no going back.

Yet, where we’re going can’t be assumed or short-shifted, it must be thoughtfully weighed.

In the wake of so many of ‘the mighty men’ that have justly fallen, are two crucial questions that thus far have been largely ignored, but must be answered. Especially considering Dr. Larry Nassar, Senator Al Franken, and the horde of entertainers, politicians and countless regular folks receiving their payback.

First, we all agree that sexual harassment in any form is unacceptable, but does that inarguable fact justify a one-size-fits-all penalty matrix? When are just desserts just and when are they over-reactions we’ll regret in the future and look back upon as cringeworthy moments we’d rather not revisit? We can’t allow ourselves to ignore the obvious fact that not all bad behavior is equally bad. These are the degrees that HBO’s Bill Maher so aptly ascribed to an enlightened society.

And secondly, what about redemption and forgiveness, which are the hallmarks of advanced civilization, underpinning the social, religious and democratic fabric of our society, and can’t be permitted to become casualties of indiscriminately meted wrath, however heinous the offense.

The path should be: Awareness >Acknowledgment > Appropriate Punishment > Forgiveness > Redemption.

Granted, some offenders are easier to forgive than others, and others are so vile, it’s hard to even think of forgiving them. Yet, shouldn’t we lean toward forgiveness and redemption more than cold-blooded execution that’s hellbent on righting the wrong that can’t ever be righted?

I’m not advocating leniency for serial offenders that defy words like Dr. Larry Nassar, but the presiding judge seemed more a hangman then a defender. Justice may have been served for the victims and their families, but with such retribution came no spiritual salve for the perpetrator or for the rest of us. And the way we treat him does matter as, ultimately, it impacts us as a whole.

Senator Al Franken was embarrassed, apologized and resigned with barely a whimper. Yet, in the scheme of things, and on the Missing-in-Action Scale of Bad, his crimes were more moments of profoundly poor judgment, incomprehensible thick-headedness, and stuff that, for a very smart and funny guy, was more fatally dumb and criminally unfunny.

Hollywood stars like Kevin Spacey and Lewis C.K. have fallen to earth and will never rise again. Media titans like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly made swift, albeit enormously ‘well-endowed’ exits, protesting the injustice every step of the way as they were shown the door. With one notable, high-profile and apparently (so far) bullet-proof exception, despite shocking numbers, habitual frequency, hush money and a graphic self-narrated video, many politicians have seen their politicking days come to an early end, never to return, and good riddance.

Look, I’m not calling for anyone’s head but for all of us to realize that it makes no sense to crucify some while we wink at others. Truth like fairness, shouldn’t be selective.
Just as important, justice should be just. Some offenders deserve no more than a humiliating slap on the wrist, while guys like Larry Nassar should never again see the light of day.

At the same time, I want the Larry Nassars to get the opportunity for redemption; I would love to hear a year from now that Larry is tirelessly serving the poorest and sickest inmates in his prison as his path to redemption.

Who gets what matters, because degree of guilt matters. It always has, and it always will.

#MeToo must accept that speaking-up was the easy part. Now coming to terms with a most uncomfortable fact is much harder: all the guilty aren’t necessarily equally guilty and even the guilty need the opportunity for redemption.

Which in no way diminishes the violation and the pain so many of us have suffered, it prioritizes our ability to see beyond and rise above, especially when it’s hard and inconvenient.

Just desserts must include degree of guilt, redemption, and forgiveness.

Without them, we’ve all lost something truly precious.

divine feminine

Comments

I’d love to hear more about your thoughts and feelings around the #MeToo movement. Do you agree with my article? Disagree?

All voices and opinions are welcome, just please be respectful to one another.