you are your own damn permission slip

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I saw part of an interview between Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert and Gilbert said a thing that still nags me:

“For some reason, and this just boggles my imagination, there are still just huge swaths of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them.”

I know that feeling, as loathe as I am to admit it. I’ve struggled with self-esteem, and I’m increasingly aware of those places in my life where I “gave away my power” by looking outside myself for validation and authority. I have played small. I hide out.

As I get older it becomes more important for me to understand why – especially given my ambitious, competitive streak, or what my ex-husband always referred to as the fire in my soul: “You,” he once told me, “are no lamb.” click here

Oct 19, 2014 · 18 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to be a hero/heroine: the power of story + the quest for true self

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When I was in my early twenties, I had a moment where I thought I was going to die, and the thoughts that would have been my final thoughts surprised me.

I was teaching ESL in Japan and I was on a date. It was a first date, which was traumatic enough. We were sitting in the back of a mostly-empty Korean restaurant in the middle of nowhere, when a piece of meat lodged in my throat and shut off my breathing. I jumped from the bench and started flapping my hands at my throat, like I was doing some weird variation on the chicken dance, and waited for my date to manfully rescue me with the kind of expert maneuver you see in the movies. Instead, he sat there and looked at me and said, in a you are so embarrassing me right now kind of voice, “What are you doing?”

You hear a lot about bad first dates, but dying seemed excessive.

And what came to mind was this: the books I had not written, and the regret I felt at losing my chance to write them. How can I die, I thought, with my books still inside me?

Then, like a miracle, I felt the meat fall down my throat. And I could breathe.

My friend Todd Henry is an entrepreneur and author and creativity guru and he urges people to Die Empty. That’s the title of his book, DIE EMPTY. It did not thrill his publisher. But what he means is, don’t risk dying with your songs trapped inside you, whatever they might be or form they might take. Get them out into the world. It’s not enough to ‘find’ your voice – you must give it shape and substance in the world. The world requires it. Your soul requires it, and it will push you and nag at you and at the end of your life, it will hold you accountable.

I’m a writer and a woman, and writers and women are always being urged to find our voice. I’m lucky, because I started writing when I was too young to know that I was supposed to have a voice, so I never worried about losing it. As I grew up I lost other things instead, like passports, and car keys, and cars. You should never let me borrow your car.

To me, voice is another way of referring to your particular and highly personal stamp of creative intelligence. Your soul’s intelligence. Your soulprint. We define creativity as a special kind of problem-solving, and we live in a culture that judges how creative we are by how productive we are. We forget that creativity is not just doing, but being. It’s a state of mind that takes in the world and transforms it, invests it with meaning.

Because creative intelligence is especially concerned with solving problems of value and meaning.

Human beings have a deep need for meaning. It is right up there with water and oxygen and milk chocolate and Keanu Reeves. It is our quest for meaning that compelled our ancestors to clamber down from the trees. It gave rise to symbolic intelligence and the evolution of language. It stimulated the growth of the human brain. There’s that famous line from a movie, What’s it all about, Alfie? What does it all mean? I never saw the movie, but I know that line.

When that need for meaning goes unmet, we are highly dissatisfied individuals. Our lives seem shallow and empty and – meaningless. That’s when we turn to bad choices, addictive behaviors. I myself would go shopping. I would look for meaning in all the wrong places, like Neiman Marcus, and expensive footwear. click here

Oct 2, 2014 · 10 Comments / ADD YOURS

Emma Watson + why the Artemis archetype makes for awesome heroines

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Emma Watson gave a UN speech over the weekend in which she declared herself a feminist, called for women’s equality and a loosening of gender roles.

Emma represents an archetype emerging in this culture that – judging by the success of characters like Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander and Anastasia Steele – girls in particular are hungering for, a femininity with fire in its soul.

It was originally Jo from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel LITTLE WOMEN: the unconventional sister in the March family who had a temper, a desire for adventure and independence, and a fierce determination to be a writer. Like Katniss, Lisbeth and Anastasia – or Arya Stark, Sarah Conner, Ripley, Buffy, Xena – Jo embodies the Artemis archetype, characterized most of all by an indomitable will.

An archetype is a recurring pattern of human behavior shared across cultures and mythologies. Jung believed that archetypes live within the collective unconscious: we know them and respond to them on a deep level. We project them onto others; we sense them activated within ourselves. In her book GODDESSES IN EVERYWOMAN, Jean Shinoda Bolen put forth the major Greek goddesses as female archetypes, each one representing a different way of being in the world.

Although one archetype tends to be prominent at any given time, different stages of our lives can call forth different archetypes.

Everywhere you look – on billboards, in magazines, on Victoria’s Secret runways – you see sexy Aphrodite. In a recent issue of Esquire, Tom Junod drew some online fire with his In Praise of 42 Year Old Women, which was actually in praise of 42 year old Aphrodite women.

You see the goddess Demeter in the so-called soccer moms: packing their kids into minivans, running errands in yoga pants. click here

Sep 24, 2014 · 10 Comments / ADD YOURS

the woman in the water: how domestic abuse is psychological abuse

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“It’s very difficult for people to wrap their minds around the concept of a man actually balling up his fist and hitting a woman…The video forces you to take it in. There’s no escaping. You can’t dance around it, you have to deal with it. That’s why video really becomes crucial for this cause, the fight against domestic violence… People say: ‘That guy is so nice when he’s with me. What did you do? What did you say to him? He’s cool. I play golf with him. I can’t imagine him doing this.’ Women are simply not believed.” — Robin Givens

A woman with a famous and/or wealthy man is suspect.

I was a kid growing up in Canada when Wayne Gretzky announced that he was leaving the Edmonton Oilers for the L.A. Kings.

Let’s think about this: man decides to leave Edmonton, Alberta, to go live in one of the most exciting cities in one of the most charismatic states, and is paid an insane amount of money to do so. But rather than admitting that Gretzky might have been making a sensible decision, many people blamed –

his blonde, nubile, American-actress wife. I remember conversations on the playground in which kids denounced her as a slut and a whore. She was stealing Gretzky away from us! Never mind that Gretzky was a fully functioning, intelligent human being with a will and reason all his own. She was – say it with me, boys and girls – a golddigger, forcing him into the, uh, coal mines and general brutality of Beverly Hills.

The nerve.

I remember when Robin Givens admitted, on-air, that her husband, Mike Tyson, physically abused her. She was reviled and denounced as a – wait for it – golddigger. I remember thinking about Robin when a very pregnant Denise Richards left Charlie Sheen, practically fleeing in the middle of the night with a toddler in tow. Sheen had a well-documented history suggesting that he was, shall we say, a difficult personality. But in online forums and tabloid magazines, Denise Richards was the one at fault. Never mind his addictive tendencies: the gambling, the hookers, the cocaine. She was a golddigger.

Since the day that Eve manipulated Adam into eating the apple (no doubt by flashing her breasts and promising him a blowjob afterwards), women have been regarded as rather shady characters. If she’s not a virgin in white, she can’t be trusted. If she cries rape, she’s out for money or attention or revenge. If her sexuality is not safely contained within a monogamous relationship, she’s a homewreck waiting to happen. The combination of female sexuality, intelligence and autonomy especially unsettles us. There’s a name for those kinds of women: femme fatale. Whether it’s Jezebel or Glenn Close in the movie FATAL ATTRACTION, she will lure an innocent man to his doom (unless she’s thrown out of a tower window or stabbed and shot, respectively.)

Granted, Jezebel and the Glenn Close character are extreme examples – and fictional. Janay Rice is neither. She is a woman in an elevator who got cold-cocked by her famous boyfriend. Then he dragged her unconscious body out into the hall.
click here

Sep 14, 2014 · 16 Comments / ADD YOURS

11 ‘rules’ of seduction (for the maverick soul)

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True seduction is meeting the person where they already are, then leading them to a place where they didn’t know they wanted to go.

True seduction doesn’t involve pick-up lines. It is not one-size-fits-all.

True seduction involves the ability to see things from another person’s perspective, get inside their head, find points of genuine connection.

True seduction is about creating an experience for the other person that surprises and ultimately satisfies. Exploitation is about taking something from them, and ends in lack and regret.

Great storytelling is the best seduction of all.

Voltaire once said that the difference between conquest and seduction is that everybody wants, on some level, to be seduced.

True seduction involves the gift of artful and focused attention. We become what we see in others. We become what others see and call forth from deep in us. click here

Sep 12, 2014 · 3 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to make people *not* want to join your freaking tribe

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“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

I got a kick out of this short and punchy post by online maverick Ashley Ambirge.

As she explains:

The internet popularized the concept of “finding your tribe,” and while Seth Godin’s book by the same name is right on the money, the term itself has become cliché, stale, trite, boiler plate, and fucking offensive…

I’m tired of seeing my Twitter feed, my blog reader, and every single “newsletter” that comes into my inbox be another vomit party of #sameshitdifferentday. I’m tired of seeing yet another call to, “live your best life!” (give me a break), or “Join the tribe!”

I’ve also noticed all those calls to join someone’s “free community!” so I can self-identify as a [insert cute tribe name here] and buy their products and services. As with most of the clutter that fills up Internet airspace, I’ve made a habit of tuning them out.

Blame, if you wish, Lady Gaga, who rose to stardom partly on the brilliance of her social media savvy, galvanizing a deep online community of hardcore fans known as “Little Monsters”. Books on branding and marketing have done a deep-dive into the success stories of Gaga and other tattoo brands* —

*(By tattoo brands I mean: brands that people love and self-identify with so intensely that they tattoo the brand logo on a chosen body part. That is when you know you’ve truly made it: when someone immortalizes your symbol on their ass.) click here

Sep 5, 2014 · 11 Comments / ADD YOURS

thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence’s photos hacked + leaked online

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A young woman takes naked pictures of herself and texts or emails them to a lover, or keeps them for her own amusement. There is nothing wrong with this.

There is, however, something very wrong with anyone who seeks to exploit or humiliate that woman by violating her trust and/or basic right to privacy by splashing those images online.

Equality begins with a woman’s ability to have control over her own body (….including naked representations thereof).

I mean, I’m all for desire, and the things we do and the games we play when we’re caught in the zesty back-and-forth of mutual lust.

It’s human nature to find each other attractive.

It’s human nature to want other people to find you attractive.

But a person’s sexuality cannot be divorced from the person herself (or himself): that hot body comes complete with an inner life, a personality, hopes and dreams, a range of emotions, family and friends, an intellect, and the will to consent. Or not.

When you deny a person all that rich interiority – when you deny a specific group of people that, and you do it thoroughly and consistently – you strip them of their humanity. You flatten them out. You reduce them to a two-dimensional existence.

That’s when it becomes oppression. click here

Sep 1, 2014 · 40 Comments / ADD YOURS

it’s time for you to go on an adventure

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“It’s not what you’ve got. It’s about how brave you’re prepared to be.” — Seth Godin

It’s time for you to go on an adventure.

It begins
with the knowing
that ‘here’ is a place you can’t stay.

The journey owns you.

It’s time to go deep
and take back the gold in the dark.
The power and the light.
The power is your birthright. click here

Aug 23, 2014 · 6 Comments / ADD YOURS

the art of being a heroine

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Heroine.

The word makes you think, maybe, of a damsel in distress: flinging hand to forehead, getting tied to a railroad track somewhere by a villain with impressive facial hair.

Heroines provide opportunities for the hero to prove his heroism. They serve and support by acting as the hero’s moral conscience, or by serving as his muse, or by dying prematurely so that he can go after the bad guys and avenge her in manly ways.

“In the whole mythological tradition,” Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying, “the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to. When a woman realizes what her wonderful character is, she’s not going to get messed up with the notion of being pseudo-male.”

I don’t buy it. click here

Aug 13, 2014 · 9 Comments / ADD YOURS

I don’t care if you like it (guest post by Marianne Elliott)

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Last year I spent most of five months travelling through the US, Canada and Europe talking about my book, ZEN UNDER FIRE. At almost every book talk I gave, someone would ask me, ‘Weren’t you afraid to be in Afghanistan, such a dangerous country for women?’

My standard answer was that all countries are dangerous for women.

In Afghanistan I helped document more than 400 case reports of violence against women. They made me sad, mad and sometimes scared. But I also saw that they were not so different from the cases of violence against women I’ve documented or read in New Zealand, or in the US, or Canada, or Australia.

Why make the point about his happening everywhere? Why not just talk about violence against women in Afghanistan?

Because I wanted to own it.

I wanted to avoid the human tendency to want to believe the really ugly shit belongs to some place and someone else. I was saying, ‘This doesn’t only happen over there, it happens here too. It doesn’t only happen to someone else. It happens to us too.’

As my book tour continued, stories kept appearing across the US and Canada. Stories of girls who had been raped, blamed, shamed and shunned. Stories of boys who believed they had done nothing wrong. Stories of entire towns that stood in support of their ‘decent boys’ who had just made a stupid mistake. Stories that were as painful, to me, as anything I’d seen in Afghanistan.

Then I returned to New Zealand to more stories of girls and women being shamed and blamed for being raped. Stories of boys boasting on Facebook about the girls they had raped, and those girls being asked by police officers what they had been wearing at the time, or whether they had been drinking.

At a more subtle level, I saw women being judged for their dress sense, their looks, their figure, who they had or hadn’t slept with. I saw mothers judged for their choices to work, or not to work. When’s the last time any of us heard a man asked why he bothered having children if he was just going to keep on working?

Over and over again I saw that I was living in a world that was often hostile to women.

I asked myself: Where does this come from? How is it allowed to carry on? What can I do about it? click here

Jul 29, 2014 · 7 Comments / ADD YOURS
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