No doubt due to my Catholic upbringing, I hold Sundays as sacred even though I no longer subscribe to an organized religious dogma. In my youth, Sundays meant attending Sunday mass and getting Dunkin’ Donuts afterwards.
As a young wife and mother we made it family day and either went out for crepes or we brought them home. No matter the tradition, Sundays have always felt special. Like they were the one day of the week when All Possibilities were palpable.
Even as a college student at St. Teresa’s, in Winona, Minnesota it was a day to stay in pajamas, be cozy, and share with friends. We often took a walk around the lakes.
Sundays feel like clean slates.
Today, I reserve Sundays as Sacred Self-Care. There is no one particular tradition, other than I don’t work unless entirely inspired to do so. There’s no agenda on Sundays. What gets done, gets done. All the rest can wait until Monday.
Sundays are for resetting.
Monday through Saturday are work days. Whether it is working for your employer, your self, or keeping up with the household chores. Sundays should hold little to none of that. Sundays should be about fueling our souls. Connecting with our highest selves and recharging.
I find limiting my television watching on Sundays has spilled over into the week. Even ‘having it on in the background’ seems to take energy from the environment. Replacing that background noise with soothing new age music positively charges the air and nurtures the Spirit.
Reading books for leisure, and not work or research related, also is a nice activity for a Sunday. Especially those cold snowy Sundays, here in lower Michigan. I include in this category, pulling out old photo albums or scrapbooks and taking a stroll down memory lane. Double bonus points if you can find someone who will sit with you while you do it.
I work with Oracle Cards as well as other card decks and often do a reading for myself using one of my many decks. Journalling about each card, it’s message and how it pertains to my life is a very therapeutic use of a Sunday.
I rarely do small screens on Sundays. No computer. No internet. It is so freeing. No drama to get caught up in. No rabbit holes to go down. Just peace in my world.
I know it is Monday at the time of this posting, but perhaps you can think this week on how to make your Sundays more Sacred and let me know if it makes a difference next week!
My husband turned 70 this week and the pre-Corona plan was to throw him an Honor Dinner (or Living Memorial) to celebrate his life. Now you might be asking what is the difference between an Honor Dinner and a birthday party. Quite simply it is the sentiment expressed.
Let’s think about a regular memorial for a minute. A loved one has died, the family is grieving, there are pictures of the loved one set out. At some point there is conversation beyond awkward condolences and people start to reminisce. People share stories of the first time they met the loved one, and they share what this person added to their life.
For me, during a loss, this last part has always been my favorite. My favorite because it is here my healing begins. The knowledge that my loved one was loved by others is reassuring, consoling and comforting. I often find myself wondering though, “did she know they felt this way about her?”
I come from an English, German, Irish and Croatian cultural background. Take a look at those again. Not a single solitary culture that is known for expressing emotion! Stoic x4. On top of that our people tend to die suddenly in car accidents or from sudden illness. We aren’t prone to long term illnesses. While that is a good thing, the drawback is there is no anticipatory grief period, no forewarning that death is around the corner. Which means there is little time to prepare and say goodbye. So many loving thoughts remain unsaid until after death. Although that is very healing for the grieving loved ones to hear, the true power of those loving words lay in sharing them with people while they are alive.
Because of my history with these sudden losses, I am one to not leave things unsaid. My friends and family are accustomed to it, but for new friends it takes some getting used to. It is for this reason that I love Living Memorials. Not just for those who know death is around the corner, but for anyone! It’s not something you do at every birthday, but it is good for those big numbers.
Due to CoVid we had to do my husband’s Living Memorial online. I created a Facebook group and instructed people to create a video expressing their sentiments, toast him, roast him or share memories/stories. The point was to express more than simple birthday wishes. I wanted this man to know exactly what he contributed to the lives of others. I wanted him to see the expression on their faces and hear the inflection of their voice; not just read words on a screen. Having it in a group rather than on his page would enable him to use it like a memory book he could refer back to frequently.
While not everyone was comfortable being extremely sentimental, we had quite a few contributors. The look on his face as he watched each video and read each post was priceless. There are no words to accurately describe it. If I had to, I would say it was a mixture of appreciation, love and pride. He was truly touched that anyone would take the time to do this.
In retrospect I think a slightly modified structure would have rendered a result closer to what I intended. I think asking people to share their favorite character trait of my husband, along with their birthday greetings would’ve been less intimidating for guests. I also think that had we been able to do it in our initial format – an honor dinner – with similar instruction, it would’ve been easier for people to really share some more sentiment.
My husband is filled with joy for the experience and that was truly my goal. I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to provide a meaningful celebration for a loved one’s birthday.
In the end it doesn’t matter if it is called a Birthday Party, a Living Memorial, an Honor Dinner or a Hoe Down. If it is making memories, sharing emotion and making people feel loved then it is part of the living well path and that path leads to dying well.
In a country where hoarding is an epidemic, while simultaneously Marie Kondo has become a celebrity for downsizing, it’s important to understand the reason behind our attachment to possessions and the therapeutic value ‘things’ have in grieving.
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” 🎶 a popular lyric and a popular trend when I was growing up in the midwest. Beautiful, architectural, and historical buildings bulldozed, then replaced with parking lots and structures. The trend remains the same, it’s just a different kind of parking structure today…storage facilities.
When people’s attachment to things is such that they require separate housing for their belongings we have to start asking, “why?” It isn’t enough to just roll our eyes and say, ‘commercialism’, or ‘materialism’, or ‘gluttony’, as so often I’ve heard.
When people live in homes that have become unhealthy and deteriorated because attachment to their possessions has become unmanageable, we have do to more than give it a name and slap it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.
In a culture that denies death’s inevitability; that has sterilized death and dying care, by allocating it to institutions rather than family members; and has created fantasy worlds on television bombarding people with false notions and images of impossible idyllic life standards, it’s no wonder “things” become important.
Things don’t die and they don’t abandon us.
It’s no secret we don’t do death well in this society, but what is a secret is why we feel so attached to family heirlooms, gifts and mementos, sometimes to the expense of our wellbeing.
It’s more than just ‘sentimentality’. Objects hold energy. Our possessions (things we have owned) hold our energy very strongly because it was constantly bathed in our energy.
However, even store-bought gifts hold the energy of the giver even though it might not have been in their possession for very long. The intent or ‘thought’ behind the gift lives in the material of the gift.
Individuals who have strong attachments to people, and have suffered great loss, will often have stronger attachments to possessions than those who do not have strong attachments to people and/or have not suffered great losses. Holding onto belongings is a coping mechanism designed to exert some control over loss. The theory is ‘I love things because things don’t abandon me. They can’t die and they can’t walk out on me.’ Which is why then those individuals will be devastated if something of value gets broken or stolen (material versions of death and walking out).
When someone dies there are many who rush to get rid of the loved one’s possessions believing the things are painful reminders. They mistakenly believe getting rid of the belongings quickly will facilitate faster grieving. The truth could actually be the exact opposite. Holding onto belongings that hold the energy of the loved one keeps their individual signature vibration within daily life. This enables the relationship to reconfigure. Spoiler alert, we don’t have to stop having relationships with people just because they die.
We don’t stop loving someone when they transition to the next life, whatever you believe that life looks like. Love is energy and energy never dies. Our love just has to have a new focus of attention. Hence why some find visiting gravesites to be important and necessary. A focus. A new physical focus of the relationship.
Others choose to embrace personal belongings of the loved one. A healthy attachment to those things would be someone choosing several items of the person’s belongings to incorporate into daily life. An appropriate amount would be what can easily fold into one’s current living situation and serve a purpose. Serving a purpose is largely defined by the individual. A box of personal belongings that is taken out once every other year and brings comfort does indeed serve a purpose. The rest of the belongings then are easily, even joyfully shared with family, friends and the community by way of donations.
In extreme contrast, an unhealthy attachment to those things, of course, would be the inability to release any of the items to new homes and having the possessions overrun the home. The items cannot be incorporated into daily life, because there is no living actually happening when the possessions…well…take possession of the person. Excessive items stored, whether hoarded in a residence or locked away in a storage facility, are possessions in possession of people. Not a single item can be connected with or appreciated on a daily basis because it is not accessible. So you are paying rent for things to take up space in your life that are not adding quality to your life.
Having the deceased person’s belongings allows us to hold onto a physical representation of that relationship, yes, but it also allows us to continue a relationship with our loved one in a new way. Every time we wear that sweatshirt, we first feel the energy of our loved one that still lives in the material. When we feel that energy we are connecting with it, just as we did when they were alive. Then we might recall some memories. We feel again how we felt when they were alive – even if just for a moment. And whether we know it or not, we are making new memories with that person because we are doing new things while thinking of them.
This is so important. Not just right after a death, but for years going forward. After death, love and grief are forever intertwined. Grief doesn’t end. There is no finish line we magically cross. There is a difference between grieving and grief.
Grieving is the expression of the loss we feel for someone who has recently died. Grief is the cloak that love wears post death. Grieving ends. Grief does not.
Grieving is also called mourning. Its symptoms include but are not limited to sobbing, anger, depression, sadness, lethargy, insomnia, rage, and outbursts. Its cause is the loss of something/someone we love. Grief is loving someone who is no longer on this planet. Grief is the missing of someone. Therefore, we don’t grieve or mourn forever, but we feel grief forever. Many people do not understand this distinction and feel guilt when grieving ebbs, having associated their intense grieving with their intense love. Grieving is connected to the intensity of the loss of the love, not the intensity of the love itself.
When we incorporate loved one’s items into our daily life we are honoring them and ourselves. Instead of the empty place setting at the holiday table, we can focus on feeling their energy present at the table in the dishes they used or passed down to us. Someone’s clothes can be worn to provide us with a hug just when we need one. Clothes can also be made into blankets to promote that safe feeling someone gave us. Personal items can be pinned onto, sewn into or carried for a wedding ceremony as way to connect with them on that special day. Jewelry, as well as dishes, can be passed down for generations ensuring that the energy of the ancestors is prevalent and available for generations to come.
In recognizing the importance of personal items we have to understand our reaction then when these things wear out, get broken or lost. In many ways it is like losing that loved one all over again. We made the transfer from loving this person in body, to loving them in spirit with these items as a tangible tool. It can feel like losing that person all over again when these valued items are lost or broken.
It helps to remember that nothing is ever really lost or broken though. Broken dishes can be made into beautiful mosaic garden stones or even jewelry. Once more we need to make a transition from one physical focus to another. When we lose something of a loved one then it is a little harder to adjust, but it’s still a matter of perspective. You can view it as ‘the loss of one thing, makes room for another.’ Or it can be the impetus for you to take an action you otherwise wouldn’t have. Maybe acquire something of your own that holds as much energy for you. The situations are too numerous to go into in a simple blog post, but I hope you get the idea.
In the crystal gems world we believe that when a stone is lost it is either going on vacation for a much needed rest for a job well done, or it was needed elsewhere by someone else. A broken gem implies that someone you love needs the energy of that stone, thus it broke in order to be in two places at one time (or three or four). Something that shatters into pieces that are rendered unusable is considered to have served its purpose and is returned to the earth where it began. Quite often those pieces find themselves in potted plants where they still continue to be of service by nurturing the plant.
In this society we are too quick to judge…ourselves as well as our neighbors. We are too quick to judge someone’s home as cluttered simply because they have ‘more things’ than we choose to. If the things bring them pleasure and are easily incorporated into their living, then they have just the right amount of things for them. Instead of judging ask them about those things and the stories they hold. When they die you might just find that old cuckoo clock they spent the afternoon telling you about brings you comfort too…
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are. – Maya Angelou.
This short little quote helped me understand the ‘how’ of relationships. I kept expecting people to be true to their words, because I was true to mine. That’s just not how it goes with everyone. Many people mean what they say, when they say it, but give not much thought after that. So I was torn between believing what people said (because as an empath I didn’t feel they were lying) but then disheartened when they would yet again disappoint me.
I expected them to be who they wanted to be, rather than who they were.
When people show you who they are, believe them.
I have a rule of three and it applies in many areas of my life. But one I am most adamant about is giving people three chances. Sometimes mistakes are made. Anyone can have a misstep or poor judgment once. So long as it isn’t a deal breaker that gets foofed off as a “one off-er”. A freebie, so to speak. A brief conversation might be had, or it might just be dismissed.
The second time that thing shows up, it’s a deeper conversation and it’s noted, in a file, in a drawer, in a cabinet, in my brain. The third time that thing happens, I’m done. Like D O N E done. Three times? That’s a pattern my friend. You have just showed me who you are. Now, granted there are certain things that if done once they never get the chance to do a second time, but those things are big deal breakers and go without saying.
I think largely this quote is good guidance for people caught up in co-dependent relationships, with the repeating loop of “I’ll do better”, doesn’t do better, “sorry I didn’t do better.” However, sometimes this lesson isn’t about ending a relationship. It might be about ending your expectations.
People show us all the time who they are and we immediately discern whether or not they are someone we want to get to know better. Sometimes it is easy to decide, ‘no, I don’t feel compatible with that person’ and you move on. Other times though the relationship has no red flags or warning signs. It’s a perfectly good relationship. You might laugh together. Do activities or projects together, but maybe at some point you feel like you aren’t getting out of the relationship what you put into it.
Or maybe you just feel like you aren’t getting what you need from it…
That’s what I want to talk about today.
It is perfectly OK for you to know that you ‘deserve’ what you want from a relationship, be it romantic or friendship. The thing is just because YOU deserve it, doesn’t mean the person you want it from OWES it to you.
Even if you extend to them the same respect, effort or affection. Just because you give it doesn’t mean the other person is obligated to return it. That’s when you need to adjust your expectations to fit the relationship you are actually in, rather than the one you imagined yourself to be in.
People can only offer you what they have to give. No more. And if they offer you less, well then they are telling you something aren’t they? Either they are not capable or they are not willing. Either way, they are not optimal as partners in the relationship you thought you were creating. If you were intending to create a romantic or business relationship, it is probably advisable to end that versus just changing your expectations. However, if your intention was to create a friendship then you don’t have to end it, just change your expectations.
Friendships come in many shades. There are best friends who are confidantes where the bond runs deep. There are social friends who like to go out and do things socially without much deep conversation. There are work friends you never see outside of the workplace. And a hundred other kinds of friends in between. If you were going for ‘best friend’ and you aren’t getting back what you put in, don’t scrap the friendship, just adjust your expectations. Recognize what the other person is offering you and manage your expectations to that degree.
Now let’s end on a more positive note.
When people show you who they are, believe them.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, in one way or another, “I have trust issues”, or “People have to earn my trust.” I’m here to tell you that last one is backwards and the first one says more about you than anyone else.
We don’t ‘trust’ others, we trust ourselves to put our energies into the right places. Listening for who people show themselves to be is key in that. How many times did you ‘trust’ someone, get disappointed and then look back and see the warning signs you overlooked/didn’t listen to? They were there. You know they were. You just wanted what you imagined the relationship could be so much that you chose to be deaf and blind. If you think you have trust issues, it’s because you really have imagination issues.
You imagined a future relationship and confused that with present time. You overlooked and excused behavior because you didn’t want to give up the ‘potential’ the relationship has for the future. This is imagination at its finest. You IMAGINE that the relationship will become something else in the future and therefore trade your present for it and are surprised when the results are not what you imagined. It’s kind of like wanting to bake a cake, but don’t find all the ingredients for it in your pantry, so you put together what you have, stick it in the oven and expect it to still come out like cake.
People do not earn our trust. To really be authentic in relationships you need to have the approach of trusting someone until/unless they give you a reason not to – in other words, ‘until they show you who they are’ (or who they are not.)
When people show you themselves as honest, trustworthy, attentive and understanding, believe them. Don’t make them jump through hoops to prove themselves. Enjoy the even exchange relationship and don’t overthink it. However, do pay attention when if they begin showing you themselves to NOT be those things!
Too often we get hooked into someone because they intoxicate us. Maybe they are exciting. We feel a little small sometimes but they make us feel bigger. Maybe they give us really high-highs through their antics or their humor. But with those highs or feeling big we can feel the opposite sometimes. A relationship with those kind of ‘mood swings’ is not healthy.
Oh yes, every relationship has highs and lows over time, but the highs should outweigh the lows. No one should ever try to make you feel small – ever. This is not someone to be in partnership with at all. In a healthy relationship there should be more stability than highs. You can’t be high all the time. If you are seeking highs because you feel ‘bored’ in stability then it says quite a bit about you and your interpersonal dynamics, and some internal work is in order.
Remember, you are also showing people who you – and they will believe you, too.
Early on Life taught me that it had a set of bookends named Birth and Death. I was not afforded the luxury of death denial. I understood clearly that death was always part of the deal.
This perspective impacted my life in a deep soulful way. A way that made me seem odd in the eyes of my peers.
When I first heard the term, ‘End of Life Doula’ I thought, “this is what my whole life has been about.” Because death has had such a prominent place in my experience of life, I organically became the ‘death guru’ in both my personal and professional lives. Intuitively I understood what someone dying was seeking and what those who were grieving required. It isn’t something that can be taught, it must be lived through.
Death in our modern society is viewed as a medical opponent meant to be thwarted at all costs, yet the reality is that we all have two book ends. At some point we must come to acceptance that our time on Earth is finite and that treating death solely as a medical event, without proper attention to the spiritual and emotional needs, leads to regret and complicated grieving.
Because of my experiences I have learned how to walk with death while in the midst of living. I have discovered the sweetness this perspective brings to living and wish to bring it to others. This is why I suggest people begin looking at end of life issues as early as age 45 or with the first hint of a medical scare, rather than just when death seems imminent.
It is off-putting to some because our society has done such a good job of hiding death away in sterile environments and labeling any reflection as ‘morbid’ or ‘negative’. To the contrary, openly embracing the inevitability of death makes us appreciate life even more. We live deeper because we are not closing our eyes and lips in denial. When our eyes and lips are open, we place more value on our relationships and experiences and less on the pursuit of material gains.
The more we integrate discussions about dying preferences into medical treatment discussions the more informed each patient’s choices can be. Subsequently, the more discussions we have the less alone we feel.
This is not easy for most though and that is where I want to be of service. I want to be one to facilitate discussions, listen actively, offer inspiration and comfort in situations where others may not know how. To this end I have compiled my experience and education into an End of Life Planner that gives structure and direction through these waters. It serves as a guide for those who wish to explore their fears, preferences and beliefs around death and dying. I call this ’emotional estate planning’.
Through tragedies we are opened up to a new level of connection with others. Why wait until then, though? Why not open up to real connection talking about something so real and inevitable as death and our wishes around our care during that time?
When death comes we may never be ready, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be prepared.
When Death Comes by Jade Klemos
When Death comes, it is not convenient, or better, or easy. It doesn’t come with manners, etiquette or rules to follow. It doesn’t come bringing a gold leafed invitation you can decline, It comes with surgical steel precision dissecting your life.
Death may come in the quiet of night with a crash It may come at high noon with a silent breath. It may be welcomed like a soft bed of blankets after a long journey. It may be as disagreeable as a bed of nails.
Death comes without explanation, justification or reason. It comes without being fair, or just or reversible. It comes without your permission, approval or acceptance. It comes without an undo button or an option to refuse delivery.
When Death comes, it cares not what God you do or do not believe in; Whether you went to temple, church, mosque or Sunday brunch. It cares not what’s in your bank account, or on your to do list. It certainly cares not whether you are ready.
When Grief comes, it comes ripping shreds of flesh from emotional bones Filling them with marrow of sorrow. It cares not how many birthdays you’ve had Nor how many degrees hang on your wall.
Grief comes bringing unbelievable pain and intolerable numbness. It comes bringing more questions than answers. It may come as a gentle wave on the shore Or as a tidal wave tossing you under and over.
Grief comes without respect to place, or time or status. It wreaks havoc with equilibrium and motivation. It causes doubt, isolation and disorientation. It is unilaterally deaf to desperate pleas for mercy.
When Grief comes, it comes without kindness or compassion. It cares not that you are overflowing with it and unable to breathe. It cares not that it brands epitaphs on your heart. It cares only that it change you forever.
Talking about death and dying is considered taboo. It is as if we have this belief that we will manifest it just by speaking of it. This is no more true than speaking of the sunset causes the sun to dip below the horizon.
Death comes for all of us and yet even that is misleading. Death is not something that comes for us, but that which walks with all of us our entire lives; we merely choose to deny its presence.
Death has been a topic we cover on average once a week in our household; everything from a passing joke about who wants to go first, to a deep conversation about end of life care. I realize, of course, that we are not the norm.
But we could be – we should be.
Most people when they consider their end of life, discover they are more afraid of they dying part than the being dead part.
Dying is the elephant in the room.
With the introduction of hospice and palliative care starting in 1974, we have been cautiously bringing the elephant out from the closet and actually acknowledging it in the corner of the room. With the introduction of end of life practitioners, like sacred attendants and end of life doulas, we are calling the elephant by name to join us in the middle of the room.
Religions refer to ‘life after death’ and ‘eternal life’, which is not a bad perspective. However, focusing on the spiritual eternal life exclusively, often provides a wall of mirrors enabling one to ignore the necessary physical death that segues to that spiritual eternal life. It is a disservice to talk of one without talking of the other. Indeed, this perspective even bypasses the inevitable spiritual and emotional work of dying before the death.
Medical professionals often present treatment options in a ‘this or that’ formula. “Do this or die”, the implication being that “if I do this, I will not die”. Death is presented as an opponent to be overcome in battle at any cost.
But there comes a point in everyone’s life, when death wins.
Would it not be better to hold the truth every day that death will come? Would it not be better to live every day with the truth that one day we will have to surrender to death? And that holding that truth might give deeper meaning and richer context to the life we live, up until we die? And wouldn’t that start best with conversations long before we are given a terminal prognosis?
The message of death is around us from the moment of our birth. Each sun setting on a day is a death. Each new season is a sun setting on a phase in the year. Each New Year’s Eve is a societal sun setting on a year. Each birthday is a personal sun setting on a year. Each death of a loved one is a death of a part of ourselves, and of our life as we knew it, sometimes. Each illness -small or tragic- is a reminder of our mortality.
Acknowledging the presence of death throughout our lives brings a sweetness to each day and relieves us of regret during our dying.
Seeking out someone like a sacred attendant or end of life specialist, to facilitate conversations about end of life choices, long before a diagnosis or prognosis, can allow exploration of alternative treatment options, either along side or in place of traditional ones. It can alleviate making literal life and death decisions in the midst of a life or death crisis.
It can also result in sharing some of the most real moments of your life with your loved ones.
A daughter said, “we’ve never been here before.” Individually, we have limited experiences with death and even fewer experiences with dying, because in recent times it has been hidden away in hospitals and healthcare facilities rather than in the home.
Our ancestors taught their children that death was a part of life, because they took care of their own at home. Doctors made house calls. Hospitals were reserved for invasive interventions. Homes were built with parlors that were used to wake the body. Mourners were taken care of as well with neighbors tending to the fields of widows and bringing food. Outward symbols of mourning, like dressing in black, indicated to strangers, ‘understand I am grieving’.
That is all changed now.
Today death is seen as a medical event to be avoided, opposed or at least postponed. “Not today” always seems to be the thought, yet in a world where being present and living in the moment is being promoted, ‘today’ is all we have, so at some point, that ‘today’ will in fact, be today.
End of life practitioners have vast experience with many types of dying and death. Drawing on that experience can be priceless to you as you navigate these waters. Turn to palliative care and hospice professionals for end of life medical support. They can help you determine the appropriate course for managing the physical aspects of terminal illness. They also have support staff like chaplains and social workers to manage some of the spiritual and psychosocial aspects of terminal illness.
But not all deaths result from terminal illness.
A son recently said to me, “If someone had told us there was only a 30% chance of survival for my 80 year old mother, we would’ve made different choices. Why didn’t anyone tell us six months ago that this was the beginning of the end? We were robbed of the opportunity for six months of quality time.”
They had four days on hospice.
Would it have been better for someone to point out that the ability of an 80 year old to undergo aggressive interventions for declining functions was not optimal? Would it have been better for someone to point the way toward six months of ‘last days’ filled with bucket list checkmarks and quality memory making?
The other day a hospital chaplain dismissed the need for my ‘services’ as an end of life doula at their facility because they have an affiliation with a hospice. (Please refer to this page for further information. We seek to complement, not compete. https://willowsongmedicine.wordpress.com/home/ )
In the July 6, 2019 update of the article, The 4 Common Myths About Hospice Care, Angela Morrow, RN writes:
In 2015, the median length of service for hospice patients was 23 days. This means that of the estimated 1.6 to 1.7 million patients who received hospice services that year, half received hospice care for less than 23 days, and the other half received it for longer than that. In fact, the average number of days a patient received hospice care in 2015 was 69.5 days.
The Dying process takes time. Because of the highly skilled care that hospice workers can provide to their patients, hospice proves most effective when the caregiving team has time to deliver it. Patients and their loved ones need support, information and medical care. Social workers and chaplains need time to work with patients and their families to bring them to a place of acceptance. Nurses and doctors ned time to optimally manage the patient’s symptoms.
So, let’s look at exactly what that means in quality time.
The criteria for hospice admission is a prognosis of six months or less to live. So why is the average stay just 69.5 days?
In and of itself 69.5 days is not a long time. It is just over two months. Of the long journey many take with a life limiting diagnosis -some spanning years, others months- two months is nothing.
Many do not go into hospice as early as they could because they see it as ‘giving up’. Thus, many – if they’ve even heard of hospice – don’t choose it until they understand that death is imminent. By this time the symptoms of pain and discomfort have taken their toll. There is no opportunity for quality time with loved ones while you are in a state of suffering.
In their struggle, they haven’t been fighting the disease, they’ve been suffering the disease. By the time the hospice or palliative care teams come on board to manage symptoms and relieve that suffering, the worn out body relaxes and sleeps for the first time in a very long time.
The time and energy that could’ve been spent taking trips, having last conversations, writing memoirs, saying good byes, enjoying gatherings and celebrating a life well lived has instead been allocated to fighting the side effects of a treatment that did not deliver on the implied promise when the doctor said “do this or die”.
Because the doctor never said ‘you could do this and die anyway’.
Now you are (on average) 69.5 days – 9 1/2 weeks – from death once you’ve entered hospice. But those 9 1/2 weeks are not 100% full consciousness. It will take at least one week for the medications protocol to catch up to your pain and symptoms. Perhaps two. There is a lot of sleeping during this time.
Now you’re down to 7 1/2 weeks. People do not often (though it does happen) stay alert and communicative up until the moment of death. Dying takes time. The Hospice Patient’s Alliance states:
There are two phases which arise prior to the actual time of death: the “pre-active phase of dying,” and the “active phase of dying.” On average, the pre-active phase of dying may last approximately two weeks, while on average, the active phase of dying lasts about three days.
So, now you are down to 5 weeks of possible quality time and again you must allow for decline over that time. While at the beginning of those five weeks you might be alert 6 hours a day, towards the end of those five weeks you might only have 1 hour a day that you feel up to engaging. So, now we are down to hours…
I think you get the point. This is not the recipe for an ideal empowered transition.
But you might say, “no death is ideal”. Well, let me ask you this: If you accept that your life on Earth has an end time, and that end time is called death, how would you prefer to die?
Do you envision yourself physically drained, exhausted and unable to communicate the thoughts and feelings of your heart or engage with your loved ones? Do you see yourself connected to tubes and machines or to your loved ones? Do you see hospital staff, sterile environment and procedures, or your family and friends in familiar surroundings?
I once asked someone what kind of death he envisioned. He said, “fast and painless…but I don’t envision it.” I asked then how he decided what kind of death he wanted, “from seeing the deaths of others.”
There is a cost to every treatment. Sometimes that cost is money. Sometimes it is your hair. Sometimes it is quality time. Sometimes it is just time. There is never any guarantee that an aggressive treatment will give you more time. In fact, aggressive treatment not only impairs quality of life (even temporarily), but it often hastens death.
Just as everyone has a birth story that was written by their mother’s choices regarding pain medications, attendants and location as well as natural phenomena, so too are our death stories written.
There are a million choices between receiving a life limiting diagnosis and the moment of death; each choice is a page in your death story.
You can’t truly write your own narrative, unless/until you embrace the fact that this Earth adventure culminates in death. Unless/until you are aware of all the options available to you. Unless/until you acknowledge all possibilities. Unless/until you start having conversations about what resonates with you and what doesn’t.
Conversing and documenting your death vision years ahead of time, just like a will, relieves you of making those decisions under duress in a time of crisis. More importantly it relieves your loved ones of having to make those decisions for you under duress in a time of crisis.
But if you just can’t imagine doing that, then at least consider utilizing resources like end of life doulas when you have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness or have a significant decline in functioning; and palliative care and hospice when given a terminal prognosis.
Special note to doctors:
Please, be honest about probable survival rates and the quality of life costs related to the treatments you are suggesting.
Giving your patients and their families the full picture, is the most honorable thing you can do to enable them to make truly informed decisions. Do not rob them of four months of quality time for six months of extended suffering. Or worst, for two months of suffering.
Do not think that “hope” means four months of suffering aggressive treatment before death, instead of eight months of quality time while nature takes it’s course.
Explore all possibilities when you have to deliver a life limiting diagnosis. Explain the pros and cons to “doing everything”, “doing something” and “doing nothing”. Explain all the costs -mentally, emotionally, physically as well as financially. Explain that hope may be for survival in the beginning, but for peace in the end – and that is still hope. Explore all possibilities means having a plan b and a set point at which plan b might be enacted.
And if you cannot comfortably do that, be comfortable enough to bring in someone like an end of life doula to facilitate that.
Patients are not problems to be solved. They are not riddles you must figure out. People are social beings who thrive best, in the worst of situations, with open communication and the support of others. If they are kept in the dark, how will they get the support they actually need? Your patients depend on you for the truth to make the best choices for themselves. This is their only death. You owe it to them to give them all the information as soon as you have it. Remember that while they are not your only patient, you might be their only physician.
You are part of their death story (even when they survive and go on to die many years later), make sure you are an enhancement to it.
There are no losers when someone is referred to hospice early. There are no losers when palliative care is consulted right from the beginning. There are no losers when a death plan isn’t needed for several years. There are no losers when end of life doulas are facilitating conversations and memory making a year before someone is actively dying.
Conversely, no one wins when we prolong death by sacrificing quality of life.
If this resonates with you and you have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness, or a decline in health status, print this out and take it to your doctor as an indication that you want to have an honest conversation about your care.
Just as the Light has returned so has my faith, but it is not the same.
It has morphed and transformed into something more solid than before (and it was pretty solid before.) I find myself taking inventory of things “I still believe” and things that no longer seem valid with a whole bunch of things in between.
The first thing to show up in the newly risen sun is that the “Universe is always conspiring on our behalf.” What that meant to me before was that the Universe always took care of me. At the last second everything would fall into place and I could see clearly how I was loved and protected because things ‘worked out’. I had believed that so much that I rarely, if ever, worried about anything. Just trusting that the Universe would take care of it as long as I did everything right.
I no longer see it that way.
Now I understand it as “the Universe is always conspiring on behalf of our development“. ‘Development’ might mean a huge loss, or challenge, or disappointment just as easily as it might mean a crisis averted, amazing opportunity or wish fulfilled. It is my development that is the focal point, not the desired outcome.
“The Universe is always conspiring on behalf of our development”, that doesn’t mean it will conspire for things to work out like you think they should.
The Universe is neutral. It is neither positive nor negative. It just is. It has it’s cogs and wheels and churns out experiences based on it’s Algorithm. Efforts to raise your vibe, use positive thinking, repeat affirmations, etc. in order to bring about desired results are actually efforts to manipulate. You cannot manipulate the Universe. There is an underlying driving belief that ‘if I do it right, then everything will turn out in ways I like.” The Universe cannot be manipulated.
The Universe fills what is empty and empties what is full. This is something I knew before, but it was way back in my consciousness. I believe now that this needs to be brought to my forefront.
There is simply the process of evolution which requires ebb and flow, receiving and giving, highs and lows, back and forth…empty and fill. It has nothing to do with us at all. Things will be emptied even if we maintain the highest of vibes. Things will be filled even if we maintain low vibes. This is part of the formula of the Universe.
There is evidence of this everywhere. The sun comes up and goes down, as the moon goes down and comes up. This is not affected by anything anyone on Earth does or does not do. Does it make sense that this would be unique to the sun and moon? Doesn’t it make more sense that we would see this pattern in every aspect of life?
There is no good or bad. It’s easy to label rewards as ‘good’ and consequences as ‘bad’, but that is inaccurate. Who is to say what is bad? Yes, there are things that bring pain and most would agree those are bad, but what if something good comes of it? Does that change the value at all? How do you adjust accordingly?
If we toss the labels of good and bad then we are forced to look beyond feels good = good, feels bad = bad, to find a new way to define our experiences. If something doesn’t work out the way we intend, the way we dreamed, the way we hoped, but it works out in a different way that brings different rewards is that good because it brought rewards or is it bad because it didn’t bring what was wanted?
The Universal Laws for me now also have a different tone.
I still believe and understand that we are all one. Like the fingers on my hand are part of the One that is me, so too am I (and you) a part of the One that is the Universe. There have been no alterations to this one for me.
Everything is/has a vibration. Each one of us vibrates at our own special frequency. From that I have never wavered. Every thing has a vibration. Every thing. Not just people, plants and animals, but food, thoughts, words, choices and relationships as well.
When something feels comfortable/uncomfortable it is resonating with our vibration. “Comfortable” is not the same as “familiar”. When something feels comfortable it may not be familiar, but it intuitively feels right. We experience excitement, anticipation and maybe a little bit of nervousness. When something feels uncomfortable it is stretching us outside our comfort zone and challenging us. It is unfamiliar but still intuitively feels right…scary maybe, but right. When something brings discomfort it does not resonate with our vibration. When something brings discomfort it feels intuitively wrong, for reasons we may not even be able to verbalize.
Raising our vibration does not mean we magically attract/manifest all the things we want, but I think it does magically bring us the things we need. The things we want, may not be of high vibration. Or the things we want may be contraindicated to what we need. Or this thing we want now and this thing we want long term may be mutually exclusive. Also, things that are of higher vibration than we, can feel quite uncomfortable. So, how can we ever be sure that ‘this’, whatever ‘this’ is, isn’t actually high vibe after all? What we need may not feel good to us in the moment, but feel very good as events unfold. Raising our vibe does not mean that we will never be uncomfortable again; indeed it may mean that we will experience great uncomfortableness at times.
But raising our vibe is important in creating our experience of whatever comes our way. What happens, happens but how we experience that happening depends on our vibration and our vibration depends on our beliefs. So while raising our vibration does not mean our bank account magically rises, it does mean that we will feel more abundant with the amount that is currently in there.
I believe even more strongly after the Dark Night that it is not what happens to us but who we become through those experiences that matters. The events of our lives can be influenced by a myriad of variables.
They can be pre-destined, by us; orchestrated core events intended to give us the experiences we planned to explore before incarnated. They can be created by us in the moment by our choices and vibrations; a result of our thoughts, beliefs and actions that draw to us vibrations of the same frequency. They can be the result of someone else’s pre-destiny or choices and vibrations. Or possibly something called coincidence (which I don’t believe in.) Or something else entirely, I can’t even fathom right now.
And lastly, maybe even most importantly, I believe ‘reality’ is not validation of our Truth. I used to look at what was in my current reality as a reflection of my truth. After all, how many times have you heard ‘your outer world is a reflection of your inner world’? I believed that with my whole heart and so I would put great energy into adjusting my inner world according to what I was experiencing in my outer reality.
But based on the previous belief I outlined, that just isn’t so. This required a lot of recalibration on my part. I didn’t realize how deeply this belief went. That if I do all the right things, I will be rewarded. That things will come out right…and I had a very clear picture of what ‘right’ looked like and what it didn’t.
This caused me great suffering. Then I realized this was very much the same suffering I experienced when I believed in an all-powerful chess-playing God. The God that had a Plan, a Reason, a Will. I tried to appease Him, just as I had been trying to appease the Universe. It is all just manipulation. It has no merit in the System that We As The Creator have developed.
What does have merit is maintaining your Light when all about you is Dark.
Yes, that is the basis of my Faith now. The belief that no matter what comes to me, I maintain my Light. The belief that no matter what leaves me, I maintain my Light. It is not to bring to me all sorts of manifestations. Not to bring to me good jobs, wealth, health and opportunities. No. But to bring me Peace. Peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Peace that is not dependent on relationships. Peace that is not dependent on any thing of this world.
Peace that is reliant on only my Self.
That Peace will never again be contingent upon my external circumstances, but rather my internal experience to those circumstances, only. Only. ONLY. ONLY.
Therein lies power. The power to overcome any Dark Night of the Soul. Any, trying circumstance. In the movie Miracle On 34th Street, Doris Walker says, “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” Never have these words had more meaning for me than they do now. Common sense is an earthly attempt to navigate earthly events. Faith is an unearthly attempt to navigate earthly events.
There is Light after the Dark, my friends.
And like my friend, Glenda the Good Witch says, “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” I did…and I’m sure I will again.
As I read it, I heard loudly these words in response:
The past is your portfolio.
The future is your inspiration.
The present is your canvas;
Paint the shit out of it.
I am now spending the day reflecting on this. I love it. We cannot allow ourselves to be burdened with our past. We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by our past. However, in reality our past is the journey we took to get to who we are now. That deserves to be honored. It deserves a place of reverence and accommodation because without it you would be someone completely different and that is unacceptable because who you are right now, is simply amazing.
Today will be tomorrow’s Past. Can you stand to just let that be discarded? I mean what is the point of bettering ourselves if we completely discount who we used to be?
This might shock you, but I have a past. Some might call it sordid. Some might call it tragic. Some might find inspiration in it. Others might find it boring. But its mine and with it’s colors I have painted my life.
I have no shame in my game.
I am so much wiser for the experiences I’ve had. I have empirical knowledge of so many challenges that plague other people which gives me the advantage when asked for assistance.
I paint my canvas of today with the palette of colors I’ve collected along my journey. I choose to use some more than others, but I’m not afraid to color with any of them. I cherish each one for the depth it brings to my life.
The concept of our Past as a portfolio is delicious to me. I love that notion of a living breathing scrapbook to flip through creating no more shame than that of a third grade hairstyle in a school picture.
The notion that our Future is our inspiration is also very delicious to me. Each tomorrow is created from the vibration of the days before it. So it stands to reason that the future offers inspiration to create a Masterpiece of each and every day. The future is filled with the new colors of possibility and hope.
The Present is the only one of the three we hold in our hands – once a day for just 24 hours. The act of being present is the stroke with which we swipe the colors of our palette across the canvas. With it we create magnificence or mundanity.
We cannot create magnificence with blindfolds on. We cannot create magnificence with blinders on. We cannot create magnificence with dark colored sunglasses on. We can only create magnificence with our eyes wide, glasses off and hearts open. This is how we make the most of every canvas.
Paint the shit out of it! My most favorite part. What good is it if you are so careful that you miss the part of passion? The part that lies in the mess. The part that lies in between your fingers as the paint oozes through them. The part that lies in the unexpectedness of each moment and the subsequent color strewn across the blank canvas.
Take all the colors and make them sing! Use them sparingly or commandingly as you see fit. You and you alone are the Creator of this Masterpiece. You and you alone choose the colors. You and you alone choose the breadth, width and pressure of your stroke. You and you alone.
If I had to bottom line my take on living your best life, it would be this list.
#1 When People Show You Who They Are Believe Them
Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors and this is my favorite lesson from her. I used to really get caught up in what people told me. Their behavior would show me one thing, but their words would tell me another. I always believed their words. This made me easily manipulated.
When I started to put two and two together this quote really made sense to me. People can, and will, say anything to ‘keep’ you in their illusion.
#2 Rule of Three
The rule of three applies across the board for almost everything. What you put out into the world, comes back to you threefold. Third time’s the charm. But what I mean here is the pattern formula in relationships. The first time a behavior appears it can be a fluke or an error in judgement. The second time it appears is concerning and needs to be discussed. The third time is evidence of a pattern of behavior and if the behavior is a deal breaker, it is best to walk away. The pattern is difficult if not impossible to break without concentrated effort to change.
#3 Never Go Backwards
Ex’s are ex’s for a reason. What brought you together has deteriorated and you’ve grown in different ways in different directions or you wouldn’t have broken up. Don’t look back. Don’t buy into old patterns (see #2). The exception to this is time. If more than seven years have passed and you find yourself in different places at the same time, then explore! You are both different people. Give it a try. You never know what will happen. But make sure you keep #2 close to your heart because change many not have taken place after all.
#4 The Universe Is Conspiring On My Behalf
It is easy to believe this when events we deem good come our way. When in the midst of undesirable things however, this can be difficult to embrace.
You just have to look back over your life’s disappointments, heartaches and tragedies to see how they created openings for other wonderful things to enter your life. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t painful or hard. It doesn’t erase that pain or struggle, but it does help us heal from them. Life is filled with beginnings and endings; hellos and goodbyes; starts and stops.
Knowing that everything is perfectly perfect in its imperfection and all is in Divine Timing can get us through the most confusing times.
#5 Everything Happens As It Needs To
This flows perfectly from #4. Everything happens exactly as it needs to. Exactly. You can’t moan away hours whining that you ‘shoulda’ done something different. This moment of realization is brought to you courtesy of all the moments that came before it. Not everyone’s awakening/healing will happen in the same format. What is made available to you is done so when you are available to receive it and when it is most beneficial for you.
So often we lament over “I shoulda, woulda, coulda’s”. Nitpicking over every single memory inspecting where we went wrong or where we could’ve done better. It’s a waste of time. Bread is dough until it is fully finished baking. You want bread, my friend. Be bread. Embrace the bread. (Even if you choose gluten free!)
#6 Don’t Chase Anyone Who’s Walking Away From You
Rejection is a hard pill to swallow…so don’t. Rejection isn’t a thing except in your own mind. When someone is walking away from you, either at a cocktail party or after a 20 year marriage, it is not a rejection of you. It is an expression of their needs or wants. There is nothing lacking in you that you need to feel rejection over. Nothing.
And there is likely nothing lacking in that other person either. They just have indicated to you that connection lies elsewhere for both of you. A simple, ‘thank you for clarifying’, muttered under your breath is gratitude enough! You didn’t realize that lack of connection, so be grateful they did before you spent weeks, months or years figuring it out. Next!
#7 Always Follow Your Intuition
Ever say to yourself, “I KNEW it!” after something doesn’t quite go the way you expected? Or maybe it even did go as you expected. That is your intuition. It may not (and it does not) have logic or reason behind it, but it is as true as True North. You need to cultivate that. Don’t let your brain tell you that you must justify that niggle. That niggle is your built in navigation system. This is your direct line from your Source Self. It isn’t full of fallacy like the ego mind. It is pure and clean and accurate.
As we grow up though we may be surrounded by others who have ignored their intuition. They will convince you to turn yours off to, so if you are looking to turn it back on, it might take a bit to figure out the secret codes. How to decipher between your intuition and fear can be difficult. Here’s a tip: fear will move you away from something; your intuition will move you towards something.
#8 Your Life Is Created By Your Vibration
You may have heard this already – In fact, you may have heard all of these already – but you might not fully understand it. Maybe you don’t even understand vibration. Ok, let’s get personal for a moment.
Check into your body.
Think of the last time you were disappointed. How did that feel in your body? Was it heavy? Dense?
Now think of the last time you had an orgasm. How did that feel in your body? Not during, but after…the afterglow. Got it? How did that feel to you vibrationally? What words would you use to describe it?
How you feel after an orgasm is a moment of your highest vibration. You can feel the energy buzzing and humming throughout your body, under your skin long after the orgasm has past. You want to make choices, take actions and have beliefs that make you feel like that, rather than how you feel when you are disappointed. Being disappointed is a moment of your lowest vibration. If you can get your thoughts to a place where they make you feel your highest vibration (HV) you will attract things, people and events that match that. Then you will respond with HV which will cause more HV things to present themselves. Its an upward cycle. I don’t need to tell you there is an equal and opposite downward cycle with low vibration, do I?
Situations that bring your vibe down are inevitable, but you can switch on your highest vibration by revisiting HV thoughts and find the closest truest thought about the current situation. (If you’ve done ‘affirmations’ and they didn’t work for you, it is because you were missing this piece.)
#9 Eliminate “Should” From Your Vocabulary
As hinted at in #5 ‘should’ is a four letter word. Ok, it’s not, but it is profane in it’s manipulations. There is and never will be another you just as you are in this lifetime. Never. Not one. Therefore, these rules that surround ‘should’ are bogus. No one ‘should’ do or be or have anything specific at any given time.
Instead of shoulding yourself, “I should do this because it is the right thing to do”, say instead “I want (or need) to do this.” We all do things we don’t really want to do, for the sake of a healthy relationship. “I don’t want to go hiking, but I do want to participate in an activity that my beloved enjoys.” Should is a derivative of guilt and guilt needs to be a non-entity in your life.
#10 Let Go Of That Which No Longer Serves You
I remember the last nigh-nigh (pacifier) that my daughter had. She used them only when she went to bed, which is how they got their name. Nigh-nigh. At the point that I intuitively felt she could fall asleep without them, I stopped replacing them. By this time she understood the term ‘broken’ and that when things were broken we could not fix them and they went into the trash. So, as each nigh-nigh deteriorated I let her throw them away. One by one she let them go. They were no longer necessary. They no longer served her.
It is the same for many beliefs/thoughts/relationship/material possessions in our lives. We hold on, sometimes, just for the sake of holding on. We need to step back and see if something is serving us. We ask ourselves, ‘is this serving my highest good?’ ‘Is this taking me towards or away from my highest best life?’ And we let go of what isn’t and allow the Universe to present what is next.
#11 Fear Leads You Away From Something
I mentioned this in #7 but it is important enough to stand on it’s own as many of us cannot tell the difference between being cautious and letting fear get in our way. Now, I am not talking about the sort of fear that tells you not to go down a dark alley at midnight. I am talking about the kind that prevents you from expanding your wings and trying something new. The one that tells your heart, you can’t.
Intuition, says “meh, no not this, but maybe this”, while fear says, “oh no I can’t! That’s foolish! I could lose everything!” Intuition will always end with an alternate possibility and feeling elated, while fear will leave you in the exact same spot feeling defeated.
#12 Never Let Them Change Who You Are
Do you remember when someone first told you, ‘don’t sink to their level’? I do and I must confess it felt binding as well as vague. Internally, I wanted to hit them low when they hit me low. I wanted to impart pain in equal measure to what I’d experienced. When I did that though, it didn’t make me feel any better. The pain was still there and something else sat like sludge over the top of it.
Why? Because I was changing my nature to match someone else’s vibration. My higher self was conflicting with the lower expression of who I was. In short, I was letting them change who I was. That’s when you have lost…when you’ve lost who you are.
#13 Strive To Understand Before You Strive To Be Understood
I left this for last, because I want it to be the last taste in your mouth. I want it to hang off your lips and be the first to fall out. This is the key to successful relationships, no matter the relationship. Too many individuals are caught up in the power struggle to be ‘heard and understood’, because they feel like they have been voiceless. In a world where no one is listening that isn’t surprising.
I was raised Catholic and one of my very favorite songs is St. Francis’ prayer. It is filled with good advice that I have tried my best to live my life by. If you don’t know it, these are the words. And you can hear it here.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
I have long left my organized religious roots behind me. Or maybe they are just at the very root of who I became. I have taken the very best of what I’ve been taught and combined it with other teachings that resonated with Truth for me.
This, ‘to understand as to be understood’ is but one.
I leave you here, with this because there is no better way to leave you.
I understand, but I will never stop seeking to do so.
“Empowering Women” is big business right now. Or at least it is in my circles. I can’t scroll through Facebook without an add or a post from someone who describes their work as ’empowering women’.
These people seem to have successful businesses doing it. I say seem because who knows what is real. Anyone can say anything in their own advertising. Damn, you can even write your own testimonials. People are notorious for test driving fancy cars through fancy neighborhoods, taking a photo and presenting it as if it were their own manifestation. Yes, if you are paying attention, I am a little jaded – pun intended – on my own industry right about now. Because I don’t like tactics, or facades. I like real and authentic. But that’s another topic.
I do not and will not ever say I empower women. Women -actually, everyone – are born empowered. That Light that makes you alive is power. You always have it. You can’t lose it and I can’t give it to you. I can’t even do a ceremonial ritual to activate it in you. The very best I can do is ENABLE you to access it, because someone else DISABLED your access to it, prior. Honestly, all that disabling was an illusion anyway, so I’m really just pulling back the curtain. Its easier when you have the right tools, and I’ve been collecting them for a long time now.
What I’ve noticed lately in this empowerment culture, is a call to Sisterhood. What I’ve also noticed is that it is Sisterhoods run like The Boy’s Club. It is sisterhood as long as some one is doing poorly and those in power (hierarchy) can feel good about themselves lending a hand up.
Have you noticed that in a group of women when one puts herself down, makes herself small and criticizes herself, all the other women rally around and tell her how beautiful she is, how amazing she is, how much she has to offer and that she needs to find her voice to speak her truth?
Have you also noticed that, in that same group of women, when one who’s found her voice, speaks her truth compassionately, lends her educated opinion intelligently and offers to share her gifts generously, that same group of women put her ‘in her place’ and tear her down – telling her she is full of herself, opinionated, self-promoting and self-serving? “Polite” people will call her intimidating. (I’m not talking about those who practice the ‘fake it til you make it’ protocol. That is overcompensation, not authentic and not at all what I’m referencing here.)
I’ve watched it now, specifically for 6 months in various formats. So often I see women eager to raise up others they perceive to be beneath them, and tear down other women they perceive to be above them. Even more so, I see women aggressively tear down those they might feel are equal to them, because they see them as direct competition.
This is the Old Boy’s Club paradigm at work. They have divided us first from men, then from each other by race, religion and socioeconomic status. How smart that Boy’s Club is! We do all their dirty work for them! We take each other out for the smallest crumbs at the table. All they have to do then is take out the few that rise above the culling of the herd.
We have become our own worst enemy at exactly the worst time.
This world needs the Divine Feminine more than ever, but we have disabled ourselves. We have turned on each other and made it so we would each prefer to side with men, because at least there we know where we stand. We know what to expect. We know that we will be insulted to our face, not stabbed in the back. (And I think subconsciously, we think that is the path to power.)
Ever wonder why a woman would side with a man against all reason? Why when he treats her so poorly, she will stand with him against other women? Because of the Boy’s Club mentality. It is what has women support someone who openly admits that his power allows him to grab women by the pussy, and that those women think they are special because of it. It is why we immediately question a female victim’s motives, rather than supporting her in telling her story.
Like I said, the Boys did their jobs well.
It starts early and never seems to end. I experienced sexual harassment from a gang of girls in the sixth grade. My own mother threw me out of the house when she found out I’d reported my college teacher for sexual harassment. I experienced a gang of women chiding and making fun of me after I reported having been trapped in an office by a male co-worker unknown to me who made sexual references.
We have too much been told we are too much. We have too much been dimmed. We have too much wounded one another in the race to the top of the pyramid. Enough!
Enough of the school yard bullying. Enough of the board room bullying. Enough! If you are a woman than your first inclination towards another woman needs to be kindness not competition. Boys have pit us against one another for far too long…since grade school for many of us. Enough.
I see so many women calling themselves warriors, boss bitches and even some who call themselves ‘spiritual gangsters’. This is not the way to embrace and honor the Divine Feminine! These are all men’s pants that women are putting on! We need to be the gentler strength. We need to be Queens and Goddesses! We need to be Maids, Mothers and Crones!! We need to embrace the strong woman archetypes of all variations, not just the ones that exhibit Divine Masculine.
We need to ‘beat’ them at our game,not try to play theirs. I just watched the most heart wrenching video of one of the most heroic women I have ever heard of. She isn’t a politician. She isn’t telling her ‘me too’ story. She hasn’t gone to the board room and declared war.
She was held captive and beaten for two days by her boyfriend, before she convinced him to take her and her dog to the veterinarian’s clinic. She then got out of eyesight of her boyfriend, wrote a note and slipped it to a tech behind the desk. In the note she states that she’s being threatened and her boyfriend has a gun. The staff went into action, put them in an isolated room and called the police without alerting anyone. The arrest was made smoothly without incident to her. Then she broke down while she displayed her bruises.
It’s heart breaking but makes me so proud to be a woman. Never give up.
One woman had told her story in front of the nation and faced her accused abuser. I believe 100% of women need to support her, but I am shocked to find that not so. I do not understand.
And then today I see a video of a white woman who, without cause, barred a black gentleman from entering his own apartment building. And then I saw a post by a black woman who was reported to security and the police by a white man as she was going through her own trunk.
Underlying premise…people of color cannot have nice things.
What does that have to do with empowering women? 1) What if the roles had been reversed? What if he had done that to her? And if she truly thought he didn’t belong why did she willingly lock herself into a confined space with him? 2) That white male…would he have called the police if he’d seen that black woman being raped instead of rummaging in her trunk? Or would he have chosen ‘not to get involved’?
I do not understand the society mindset today.
Women. We need to have each other’s backs and we need to not become douchebags and call it ‘asserting ourselves’.