Adult Ballet.5 The Dreams of our Elders

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As I wrote in my first Ballet blog, Edwige, introduced me to her Adult Ballet class and started me on my ballet journey.

How thrilled I was when I was sent a link to a lovely short film by Sarah Marquelle Kruger and Paul Antico about her beginning ballet at the age of 70.

It’s only four minutes long. Treat yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKya793A_Cg

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There is a place in Death Valley called Amargosa, where Marta Becket refurbished an old Opera house. She painted her audience on the wall and danced there until she was 83. She lives out there still, rescuing burros and horses, she is 91. I know they have been having funding trouble and it seems her website is now down.

Here is a trailer to an Oscar winning movie that was made about her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkIS6_nIEtQ

You can rent the full movie here for .99

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KSvfq02QSI

Marta Becket article 1970 National Geographic

 

Adult Ballet.4 – Brain to Brain

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In my last post I wrote about how my legs had always felt heavy, probably due to the splints I wore as a baby. My teacher, Bjarne, read the post and came up to me after class.

And this happened.

Bjarne said that he could help me with the idea that my legs feel heavy. (BTW, this is a man who floats around as if gravity bypassed him)

He stood in front of me and said, ‘Just imagine that there is a cloud above your head. Let yourself go up into the cloud’. I let myself imagine and felt myself drifting up into the cloud. Then a space opened up in the middle of my chest as a density dropped down. Tears flowed out of my eyes.

That was it. Something shifted.

I thought maybe I had let go of an ancient concern/effort I had always carried about while trying to crawl and walk while braced. I don’t know.

What I do know is that my legs are now light. The change is so dramatic that sometimes I get a wave of fear that I might have a wasting disease. At times I feel that I might be unstable or that my muscles aren’t strong. But I am the same in terms of my slowly developing technique. New issues on the front burner now.

But here is the take away.

Joseph Chilton Pearce writes that the brain is designed to entrain and learn from being in the presence of other brains. I am sure that people can learn from the internet and books but the gold standard is to be in the room with great teachers.  What happened to me happened not so much because of what Bjarne said to me but because of what he lives and knew how to share. 

When my son was learning to read we would have a practice session during his bedtime story. He was almost there and then the next night he would be back to where he was. I felt frustrated and that was not a good feeling to have about my child’s efforts. I looked at myself and thought, what it I hold in my brain what it is like for me to read when we read together instead of trying to get something to happen.

When I made that small adjustment he started to read with ease. He got it.

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Adult Ballet. 3 – The Image

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So the ‘Beauties’ fresh from ‘Align 2’ Workshop have arrived in our class. Bjarne’s arms and head requirements gave them a bit of a jolt and I wonder if any were on the verge of tears as I was in my first class. One delicate dancer was gripping the bar so hard it was squeaking and rattling.

I am happy that the class is a little slower because I have so much to work on and I can address my ‘to do’ list better when I go slowly. My list is;

– be as free of the bar as possible.

– let the dance be in my whole being

– let legs be as arms

‘Let legs be as arms’ has been a mystery to me my whole life. My legs seem heavy to move around and yet I see dancers (like Bjarne) toss them around as easily as their arms. I struggle to lift those babies. And coming back to dance after more than thirty years it has been very humbling to ask my leg to extend away from me and it just doesn’t go. I have lost much. But if I am to build again I want to do it differently or there is no point.

Bjarne talks about using an image to balance. Ballet is filled with one leg balances on the ball of your foot. I have had moments of understanding when he first explained it, ‘Look slightly up and let your body be lifted and held by your inner vision’. When I gave myself over to the image it worked like a charm. But I haven’t been able to repeat enough to make it mine.

Yes, it takes time to built the muscles in my feet and calves but the hardest thing of all for me is surrendering completely to the image. Even though I have done it and when it works, it’s easy and thrilling. As if I live in a room and when the image is applied I live on the window ledge with the wind in my hair.

How I want that. Why don’t I let it be easy? Am I battling my logic that an image can hold me? When the image leads my whole body comes under one director. My body understands how to bring all its parts together when an image is clearly applied.  I know this image space is where the dance lives.

So I seek an image for moving my legs like arms. Something that will unite my body and engage the right muscles. I have to be patient as I need the muscles to be developed inch by inch as I search to connect to the right image.

This is so important to me that I would not take class without trying to implement this goal. Perhaps feeling like my legs are a burden started when I was a baby. I was born with a floppy foot and had aluminium splints put on both my legs from the time I was 6 months to 18 months and my crawling and and walking impulses were lived out with bound legs and feet. Can the image be stronger than cellular habit? Will awareness and use of image overcome an old and no longer relevant idea? We shall see. Inch by inch.

  • The photo below is of a window on Beverly Blvd near Kings Rd in Los Angeles where old point shoes go to rest.




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Adult Ballet.2

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So I have had twelve ballet classes and now I have a choice. Do I repeat Align 1 or Align 2 or do I leap into an Open Class where the assumption is that you have a pretty solid basis what a ballet bar is and and can take some challenges.

Even though it had been thirty years since I’d struggled through a class my excitement and perhaps hope/delusion led me to take the leap into an open Align 2 class. I knew it would be fast and more challenging but hey I’d had twelve classes over twelve weeks, bring it.

Michael Cornell had hired a new teacher and had sung his praises. His name was Bjarn Hecht and had been the principal dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet for ten years. Apparently he was all about the arms and head.

Bjarn is in his 50’s with a perfect dancers body.  I believe I remember hearing that at first he thought it was a ridiculous idea to teach ballet to adults but has since been won over. He has been dancing since he was a little boy and it all came easily to him. He moves like a dream. When he hits a perfect postion it’s as if the lights in the room have been turned up a notch. It makes you understand what physical geometry is about. And he wants the arm and head working in the classical way right from the first plie.

By the third exercise my brain was tired from trying to keep up and I felt that horrid feeling in the centre of my chest, thobbing confusion followed by shame leaving me overwhelmed and lagging behind, I felt like crying. I scrambled to keep up but it was too late as I had slipped off the calm and clear perch I had walked in with and was swimming around in a panic.

My hand, sweaty with fear clung harder to the bar, my vision blurred as I looked around for someone to follow so I wouldn’t look like a fraud. But I wasn’t a fraud, I was a student, and I was in the process of learning. Bjarne wasn’t criticizing me, no one was judging me (not 100% certain of that) they were busy with their own concerns. Sure I was overwhelmed but I was doing what Michael believes in, making the shapes as best I could, focusing on how I get from position to position, knowing that my brain would wire them in. Not today but someday the language of ballet would come easier.

Neuro Plasticity is now a thing, even though the brain was capable of doing it for years before it was ‘discovered.’ What we are told about how are bodies work informs us so much vs. what it actually is. A nod to those outliers who live beyond cultural expectations. How much can the aging body respond? How much can I persist? Yet to be known.

Bjarne, asks us to focus on ‘the dance’. Reach, extend, have a story. And I am touched by how truly he delights in moments of grace we manage to exude. He is a Master teacher.

Next week will have dancers come to our class that are fresh out of an Align 2 workshop. I have seen them, they are a bouquet of wild flowers who are thrilled beyond to be doing ballet. They have the outfits, they have the awe, the laughter and an amazing camaraderie. They even presented Michael with a bouquet when they finished their workshop. Come to us ladies, you will be in good hands.

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Adult Ballet.1

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How surprised I am to find myself nine months into Adult Ballet classes. I struggled painfully through ballet classes as a teenager while loving modern dance class. I considered ballet a hip destroyer that expresses movement from an era we should leave behind. Grinding your body into grid like perfection while on the outside trying to be ‘pretty, little and quick’.

And then…

I was at a neighbours annual Xmas party last year when a woman came up to me all aglow and told me she was finally living her childhood dream of taking ballet. She had been studying for a year and had just gotten point shoes! I was intrigued. This enchanting woman was in her 70’s.

An itch I had never properly scratched floated up from my subconscious. Ballet – the struggle not to be awkward and stupid and shamed. Was there something to be solved here, something to be faced, and if not conquered, at least met with the perspective that thirty years can inform?

I looked up the classes where my friend studied, ‘Align Ballet’. It was down the street and I signed up for ‘Align 1’, a workshop for beginners. I was comforted by the idea of it – a ballet bar gone over in minute detail, something for a true beginner. I wouldn’t be expected to know anything. The class held almost thirty women and men ranging in age from early 20’s to mid-60’s. Some had already done some serious shopping and wore backless lace leotards with matching skirts and leg warmers and some wore sweats. I had on some ancient leggings, a t-shirt and brand new ballet shoes where my feet felt trapped and longed to feel the floor.

An ex-ballet dancer named, Michael Cornell, developed the technique and taught the class. Not having a classical ballet body, he struggled to develop one and after many years of dancing professionally he moved into personal training. He believes that if you start teaching ballet by simply copying the shape, the movement, all else will follow. ‘I can make that shape, no big deal.’ Then adjustments get made once the brain starts to wire in the shapes and get comfortable with making them. Yes, I can make that shape, I can copy the movement.

And then there is the music, mostly classical, some modern lyrical. I felt my old dance neurons start to fire and feel the joy of moving in rhythm with a roomful of people. My legs and feet felt almost dead. Numb stumps that were being asked to articulate and respond in a sophisticated way. But they wanted to, they wanted to answer the call and have that lovely liquid energy flow through them as they were being challenged to be more alive, to carry me, hold me, turn me. Inside, I felt moments of floating and connecting to the music and moving with hard working strangers. On the outside, when I glanced in the mirror I would see what looked like an animal being slowly poisoned as I did my best to ‘make the shapes’. Michael is telling us how beautiful we look and it sounds like he believes it. I know he means the good kind of beautiful – pure human effort and I deeply appreciate his perspective, we all do.

After six weeks in ‘Align 1’ I moved on to ‘Align 2’ which finishes up what a ballet bar is and adds a few movements in the centre. About ten of the people have dropped out. Ballet is a language, like math, it’s not for everyone. I didn’t think it was for me but I find myself committed to solving something I know I will never solve. Facing ‘the Fool’ that all beginners are faced with I have decided to dance while Rome burns. In this mad world, I only have my body and what it houses so taking moments to meet a poetic self seems like a life line.

*Next up ‘ALign 2’ – open classes and a new teacher, Bjarne Hecht.

Here’s a Sample of what it’s like to be a Woman

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Here you have a sporting event. It’s the UFC. Highly skilled women have dedicated years to intense training. Some are State, National, World and Olympic champions in various sports. Amazing athletes!

Wait what’s this!

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Here is a lovely lady who is hired to walk around in a bikini to let you know what round it is. What is her outfit designed for? What are her breasts saying as she walks around and blows kisses to the audience?

Now look back at the women putting their hearts, souls and training into a world class competition…Yeah.

How about some ‘Sexy’ guys letting you know what round it is for their bro’s – elite fighters.

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Why Not?

A Women’s Body is the Breadbasket of the World

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Everyone that ever lived was formed inside a women’s body. We owe our physical form to a woman. We nestled inside her and lived off 25% of her blood supply. We all emerged from a woman whose body is designed to care for us. One would think that a culture would have developed to learn from and nurture this form, in turn, building a world that respected her what she produced from her body – people!

Instead we grew to battle against the truth of our bodies because we are enslaved by cultural ideas that shame and control a woman’s body robbing us of the intimacy, grace and appreciation of our true home.

How is it we all share this first home but evolved not to ask mothers how we should be to ourselves and others? Why didn’t we value her innate wisdom and build upon her ideas about how to get through a day, plan a community, share our food supply?

How perverse we have become, hurrying our children to fit into a society that values our shopping ability over our humanity. Unconnected to our subtle instincts we push our biologies like machines, then medicate them. A greater crime than polluting the earth is how we have polluted the body of women – her image used for sexual fuel to be judged as to how much she is getting everyone off. And then we ask her to be silent. Who can listen to ideas while masturbating?

The programming is deep and often subtle. I participate in it as well as I am raised in it. To know it and to live it are a chasm apart.

Are women even inside women anymore?

Yes, they are. Their bodies know. Under the fashion and nail polish and dieting every woman is gifted with the voice of biological creation. There lies our hope.

Here’s the book for more;

 http://www.amazon.com/What-Woman-Because-Absurd-Planet/dp/0692245146/ref=la_B00MFRRKQS_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417552473&sr=1-1

OR in Canada you can order it here;

http://www.amazon.ca/What-Woman-Because-Absurd-Planet/dp/0692245146/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417553755&sr=1-1&keywords=pinkyluxschoolforgirls

Onward!

Epstein, Ghomeshi and Cosby Walk into a Bar…

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…and Charlie Rose is there waiting to interview them. That would be no joke.

Jeffery Epstein is a convicted pedophile, Jian Ghomeshi is about to go to trial for  multiple sexual abuses and Bill Cosby has been accused of raping and drugging women.  These three men have been collectively accused by more than seventy young woman. Google these men, all three are very current affairs.

Seventy young women. What do you think? Are they all lying? Even if some are, how many others didn’t come forward? If you think most are telling the truth what is going on in our culture? Are women’s voices finally been taken seriously? Is this an opportunity to realize how we look at our values, what is sex, what is power, what is a girl? Are we raising young girls, to accept being in service to men’s objectification in hopes of obtaining their own money and power? What does this do to our boys who become our men?

The young women’s stories are of being hunted and groomed to satisfy a fetish. A culture that uses sex to sell, fame like a religion and money as it’s highest goal should expect nothing less.

Young girls without aware parenting and grounded role models see their image as their power and sex as a commodity. And that the way that they look and trade pleasing for approval is the currency of being female.

The world that a parent prepares a child to come into should welcome the uniqueness and respect the nature of what that child is becoming. How quickly children become wards of consumerism and distort themselves to fit in. These young girls/women did not become victims overnight, they were bred, by all of us.

And now they speak up and are heard, so many at the same moment. But if Charlie Rose interviewed these three men it would be a joke – they and their high priced lawyers would deny all these women’s voices and things would go on as before.

And now Fifty Shades of Grey is about to open. Gee, Golly, Hollywood after years of seeing thousands of screen images of women being tortured, raped and killed now get a movie where a woman actually likes being tied up and screwed – oh, and the man is a billionaire btw. What progress.

Wendel Meldrum is the author of ‘What is a Woman’ Because it’s Absurd to Be One on Planet Earth, etc.”

Give the Gift of ‘Women Explained’ – Finally!’

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What better Gift for a Man, Woman, Teen, Couple or Undeclared Human than to finally unravel the idiotic ideas about women that have been masquerading as Fact.

Don’t allow yourself or a loved one to go into 2015 carrying around the same old crap in their bonnet.

Get the book!

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If you order from me in the next two weeks (until Dec. 16th) I will wrap your book(s) in this lovely pink ensemble;

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And include a message of your choice on this lovely note paper;

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So email me at wendel@wendelmeldrum.com OR in the US go to Amazon;

 http://www.amazon.com/What-Woman-Because-Absurd-Planet/dp/0692245146/ref=la_B00MFRRKQS_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417552473&sr=1-1

OR in Canada you can order it here;

http://www.amazon.ca/What-Woman-Because-Absurd-Planet/dp/0692245146/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417553755&sr=1-1&keywords=pinkyluxschoolforgirls

Onward!

Why, As a Woman, I love the UFC.

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1) Yes, I know that UFC is violent and people get hurt. Sports are risky. 30% of synchronized swimmers at the national level have to leave the sport due to concussions.

2) I do not love the way it’s hyped, as if all fans are meatheads needing to be psyched for a ‘war’.

3) I competed as a gymnast and performed as a dancer. I spent six years studying martial arts. I love the endless mystery of movement.

I began studying marital arts when my son was five years old. His father lived out of the country ten months of the year and I could feel that he needed something I couldn’t give him. I chose a dojo near our home and went to watch a class. The Art was called ‘Ninpo’ which is Japanese for Ninja. Everyone wore black gis, there were no mirrors and no fake sparing, as that would train the body to pull short when in a real  situation.

As I sat and watched the students I heard the voice of my Homeopath recommending that I study Martial Arts in order to help shift nightmares I was having of being chased by killers. I joined the dojo as well. The goal of the Art was that you would never have to fight. You would develop into a person that could sense danger before it happened and leave the situation.

This Art was developed so that little people could protect themselves if accosted by bigger people. It was perfect for a woman. There is no escaping the biological reality that  a man and a woman of the same size are not equally matched. 

Although I was athletic I grew up only with sisters and our fights were done with claws and verbal cruelty. I couldn’t even throw a ball. There were times in the training that I would sit quietly in the corner crying as I was overwhelmed and disoriented by all the punching going on in the class.

After about three years I did a self defense course at the dojo. The graduation is fighting, full out, a man in a padded suit who attacks you from behind when your eyes are closed. When I was grabbed an electricity snapped through my being and I fought this giant with a force so much faster and quicker that any thought could travel. I knew in my body absolutely that it is my right to fight for myself – something that my culture and upbringing had not encouraged in me.

I was training five days a week for almost six years. One Saturday after class I was lying on my back chatting with someone with my hands under my head, looking to my left. A Black Belt standing out of sight on my right quickly and playfully jumped onto my stomach. I didn’t flinch, I just kept talking but my stomach tightened naturally, he stood on me for a few seconds then got off. I realized then that I now knew what was killing intent and what wasn’t.  I could walk with a confidence that I didn’t know I didn’t have.

So the UFC is a place to experience the meeting of two equalling matched, highly trained athletes getting a chance to test themselves, to innovate, to surrender to the chaos after rigorous preparation. It’s the evolution, the innovation, the visceral grit and mental readiness  that reminds me that I am a fighter too.

And now there is a women’s division. And yes, it took the supremely talented Rhonda Rousey who is also a classical beauty to create the division. And we watch women fight. And maybe now men will start to experience woman as fierce unique competitors with bodies that have skill and not as objects here for their own judgment and pleasure. And maybe women will start to carry in their bodies a knowing about their own fierceness, their right to be clear, be heard and be safe.

Because we are the weaker sex we are encouraged to use our sexuality to manipulate  for power, for safety, for defense.  How’s that going for everyone?

And yes, we do need men to come to the aid of women but abuse of women rarely happens when other men are around. We need your change of perception not just your brawn.

In the words of Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda from his book ‘Law of Success’ –“always give one more punch”.

Hey UFC, now that there is a women’s division how about promoting the ring girls to front office jobs and having past champions carry the round numbers around the ring? Yeah, that’s what it feels like.

Wendel Meldrum is the author of ‘Pinkylux School for Girls presents ‘What is a Woman’ because it’s absurd to be one on Planet Earth’. Available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Woman-Because-Absurd-Planet/dp/0692245146/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415212707&sr=1-1&keywords=pinkyluxschoolforgirls

Stranded between Religion and Science

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Teaching Science, teaches thinking through a system of demonstrable facts. This system can be quite shocking when applied to religion.  All sorts of mental gymnastics ensue when trying to fit the mythology of religion into a scientific structure. Trying to prove religion can often lead to launching logical thought off of unfounded premises giving the appearance that logic and reason are in the house.

This also happens with science. Much of science that is bandied around in the culture such as quantum physics and the big bang theory are just that theories, not facts. Yet absolute beliefs in the way that life works eg: the creating your own reality cults that have sprung from quantum theory are acting more like a religion than a science in many cases.

Religion comes from ancient texts that are finite. We watch science evolve before our very eyes and our belief systems adjust as we learn more. In our lifetime the shifts in perception that genetics alone has given us are breathtaking eg: all biological organisms carry DNA, all humans came out of Africa, and until recently our culture believed we were at the mercy of our genes alone and now we know that genes get turned on and off from external experiences. Imagine if we had stopped science at the point where we had learned we were at the mercy of our genes? That would be a religion in the making and a false one that would lead to limitations and prejudices.

But in our culture science is owned by corporations. Discovery not for it’s own sake but funded to be commodified. It too often carries the stamp ‘how much money can be made from this, what drugs can we develop from this new discovery, can this be a tool for war,’ not ‘who are we, what is the world?’.

What do we hang onto then? Why are so many taking medications for this plague of depression and anxiety? Has leaving religion and embracing science, which is owned by the corporate sector, left people without basic human comfort. Because there is such a stigma on religion and science is a part of commerce and commerce about positioning, networking, winning, filling our minds with ‘how to get’ rather than ‘how to be’ we have become a nervous mess. What are we missing?

In their pure form outside their use to manipulate for gain, the feelings of faith, patience, kindness, comfort, generosity, empathy, love, grace, peace and wonder, are there for us to have.  They offer us nothing except the experience themselves – the reward of patience is patience. Though we often associate them with religion they were not invented by religion but are states innately available to all that have been given names and context through culture and religion. Turning away from religion and into a cynical society focused on gain have we left behind those states of being because they can’t push our agenda forward and are associated with dead religions?

Certainly this planet goes on and on despite what religion is in vogue, what government is in power, what is being taught in schools. Whatever we discover about the macro world, the micro world or our inner world we are all just riding on planet earth with our feelings of love, peace and wonder available for our pleasure, for their own sakes. Lucky us, at least we have that.

Science is always on the move and requires us to remain fluid. It is only limited by our questions. It is not an absolute and never can be as questions are infinite. That makes Science an Art. Let’s not treat it like a religion or only for the sake of the market.

Reclaim your birthright of faith, hope, peace and love. Do it with Art – poetry, painting, singing, dancing and science. That’s what Art is there for.

Arts in school? Yes but for their own sake not to please a parent, win a prize or groom a child for the marketplace but to allow them to remember their nature and to stir kindness and generosity in with their school work. Art is medicine.

How’s your ‘Dog on Dog?’ The Ghomeshi Scandal as Evolutionary Tool.

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By ‘Dog on Dog’ I mean our innate ability to sense another being through our whole body. Go to the dog park and marvel at the honest way dogs sniff, lick, tail tuck, snarl, snap, hump,rub, wag, play, bark, when meeting another dog. What are their bodies telling them – Is it safe? Can I play? Am I in danger? Should I run? Initiate a Game? Walk away?

We have our own ‘Dog on Dog’ response to ‘the other’ as well. Our challenge is our own unique imprinting through our ancestry, our family, our education, our community, our generation and our experiences that we have through those lenses. Our survival has many complex layers and filters that often contradict and override our bodies instinct. And unlike an animal we scent ourselves with deodorants, hair and body products, perfumes and colognes to mask our ‘smell’ which contains many secrets that ‘our animal’ can read with ease.

‘Am I safe’ can be filtered through an opportunity to get a job over our personal safety. The hope of ‘being connected’ to a life we dream of can erode our standards of behavior. The dream of ‘finding love’ can mask our gut instincts.

Our immune system has one basic job, to determine what is self and what is non-self. Air, food and drink comes in and gets sorted into ‘Yup, this is health building or nope, not a healthy item, sending it out.’  Our immune system weighs and measures itself against our most precious gift – our homeostasis, our innate equilibrium. Our whole being mimics this process as we build our unique selves.

We spend much of our lives discovering who we are not. Which actions, decisions and thoughts are ‘who am I’ and which are ‘who am I not’. Recovery from being a victim of a sexual assault (yes, it happened to me too) is a deep and profound rising up, peeling away, re-grounding of what it is to be ‘Walking While Woman.’

I hope we are not just waiting for the next newsy soundbite in the Jian story or the next shocking news story to take our attention for a few days. Beyond justice and victim/perpetrator identities are the voices of women to be heard in how we educate, govern and treat people. Because a woman’s body is designed for patience and survival through nurturing she asks not what is good for the economy but what is good for humanity.

Can women even hear their own deep wisdom anymore?

The answer is yes, yes they can.

If they listen for it.

If you listen for it.