Passion isn’t nice.
We forget that.
We try to find “our passion” like it’s some cute and feisty pet.
At some point you learn that your passion is not your bliss. (Or your bitch.) It’s not anything so tame as what you might like or enjoy. It might bring no enjoyment at all — which doesn’t make it less compelling.
Passion is subversive.
It is your willingness to suffer for something (or someone), to risk the sacrifice: stability, peace of mind, happiness itself.
The color of passion is the color of blood. It marks the lovers and the rebels. It steps out of culture, jumps class, overturns tradition. It puts your house at risk.
It might lean in —
— to burn it down.
It strips you in winter. It picks at your scars and leaves you to shiver.
Passion won’t listen to reason. It transforms. It is hellbent.
It alienates you from those who no longer know who you think you are or where the hell you think you’re going.
(Do you know where you’re going?)
It knocks you off the path. (It was the wrong path.)
It makes you start again: the friendless city, the salary cut.
Passion has an edge of war. It points to what we want so much that we’re afraid to want it. The ambiguity of hope. The fear of not getting. The fear of getting.
It requires us to change when we’re so far from ready.
It returns you to your wounded place, the trauma you try to deny. It is the injustice that calls you to crusade. It is the loved one you lost, and now must save through saving others: from cancer or violence or addiction or corruption.
Passion lifts you high and drops you. It strands you on a rocky coastline, in a country whose name you can never pronounce.
It breaks up the stories you pretended weren’t broken.
It doesn’t care that you’re unprepared.
Passion stands behind you with a mirror. It wants to show you who you are.
All you need to do is turn around.
Sometimes the self-loving thing is to do what you fear. It is to make your own soul and pursue your own growth.
Growth is hard.
Growth is anxiety, mess, mistakes, discomfort and an edge. It is pain you must work through instead of shutting down or medicating away.
Self-love is about selfhood: identifying your gifts and cultivating your talents and learning to put them in service to the world, in response to a call of the time, in a way that lights you up instead of grinding you into despair. It’s the courage to show yourself to others, to be vulnerable, to create the authentic relationships so vital to well-being. It’s treating yourself with kindness and compassion while holding to a higher standard: getting to the appointment on time because you respect your time, going on a hike instead of to the movies because you respect your health, and your soul, and your need to feel yourself with nature.
We give ourselves away in all the wrong ways.
We don’t develop a self to sacrifice.
Self-love is to serve the world in a way that sustains you, to be compassionate, to make sacrifices for who and what we believe in enough to make sacred. It’s learning to be in the world and not just one room, with candles lit and Bach on the stereo. It’s mastering the art of healthy boundaries. It’s knowing when to throw open your doors, to let in the world, and the people you desire to be in your world.
Self-love is about love of your self, and that includes all of your self, all the time, everywhere you go, because there is never a moment when you are not yourself, even when pretending to be someone else.
What we think we want: to be happy.
What we don’t know we want: to be whole.
We have turned the pursuit of happiness into big business. The irony is that striving to be happy often makes us unhappy, partly because we don’t know what to want. We miswant, which is the word psychologists use when we want things that we mistakenly think will make us happy (winning the lottery) or know will ultimately make us less happy (feeding an addiction).
The pursuit of happiness also keeps us focused on our own damn selves, which dovetails nicely with a culture fueled by hyperconsumerism and narcissism. It brings us temporary pleasures, but no real joy, and leaves us disconnected and miserable. Even spirituality can turn into “spiritual materialism” when it becomes what Chogyam Trungpa calls “an ego building and confusion creating endeavor” (the main purpose of which is to feel good and escape suffering).
How is this working out for us?
Healthline reports that depression rates rise by 20 percent every year. When you think about the things we do to feel better (eating, shopping, cruising the Internet, sex, gambling) the soaring rates of obesity, addiction and consumer debt underscore the fact that we are not a happy people, no matter how many blog posts we consume or seminars and workshops we attend.
What if we accepted the fact that we are not meant to be happy all the time? Or even that, sometimes, happiness must emerge from periods of unhappiness?
What if we recognized the dark times as a process of initiation into a deeper wisdom, that can serve to heal others as well as ourselves? click here
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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
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
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
“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.
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.
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
“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
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