Archive for the ‘women’s empowerment’ Category

The Secrets in a Rose

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Photo by Pamela Hale

What do you see when you look at the center of this rose? What emotions do you feel?

When it appeared as one of spring’s first offerings in my garden, I marveled at the perfection of the folds and their graceful sweep. And, I am drawn to the center, wondering in awe at the source of this creation.

The center of all flowers must contain the mystery, the source of their blooming, the secret behind their fragrance and the perfection of their beauty. And of course, if we were to tear the rose apart to discover the secret, we would destroy it. Somehow it is the very form the mystery takes that is part of its perfection. The mystery unfolds on its own, in its own time and in its own way. Just as we do. Just as life does.

I’ve long associated the rose with the power of the Virgin Mary, especially since I live in Tucson, a region where the Virgin of Guadalupe is very present. My husband and I have visited the chapel and shrine to her in Mexico, where a peasant named Juan Diego had an encounter with her and found an imprint of roses inside his poncho afterwards.

For me, the energy and power of the Virgin Mary is paired with Mary Magdalene and the other Marys in the Christian tradition, and the rose reminds me of all of them. They are, for me, aspects of the Divine Feminine that we need desperately now, regardless of our religious beliefs.

And so I was delighted, after I took this photo, to read this article (https://www.thoughtco.com/sacred-roses-spiritual-symbolism-rose-123989 )on the sacred symbolism of the rose that expanded its meaning for me. It turns out that the rose is a key symbol dating from pre-Christian times and associated with devotion to the goddess Venus. For Muslims, roses are symbols of the soul, and are sprinkled through the ecstatic poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Hindus and Buddhists consider than to be expressions of spiritual joy. And when the fragrance of the rose is present and roses cannot be seen, God is at work.

As for the “mystic rose,” as the Virgin Mary is called, I had never thought of the prayer Catholics offer to her being the “rosary.” The repetition of the rosary is meant to be like a “spiritual bouquet” offered to The Virgin. And since women are particularly devoted to her, she is a powerful spiritual ally for the feminine principle.

I learned that essential rose oil vibrates at 320 megahertz of electrical energy, the highest vibration of any oil. The nearest competitor is lavender at 118. It was humbling to learn that a healthy brain vibrates at a range of 71-90!

If a loved one gives you a rose, no wonder it’s considered a sign of true love. And pay attention to the color. White is said to represent purity, red represents sacrifice and passion, yellow suggests wisdom and joy, and lavender symbolizes wonder, awe and positive change.

I say, be your own lover and give yourself a rose. And you might consider that an invitation for a miracle or angelic encounter. When the deep power of femininity is called forth, mysteries can be solved, wisdom revealed, and the perfection of Beauty can become the medicine for all ills.

 

This post can also be seen on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58e17d4be4b03c2b30f6a7c2

Women Holding the Long Lens

Monday, January 11th, 2016

women

I’m visiting family and marveling at how long my grandchildren’s arms and legs have grown, how my daughter has become an inventive and creative cook, and how my ex husband has turned into a gentle friend. As this year just begins to unfold, I’m aware of the longer arc, and of the graceful way life changes the way the path looked …way back then.

I’m reminded of the story of how an apparent tragedy occurs, only to become s portal for a fortuitous event, that then morphs into the doorway for another downturn. Age at least provides a lens for the long story, and presents an option not to get too caught up in the drama and apparent truths of each chapter of this wild and beautiful journey.

On this annual solo road trip, I visit family, see old friends, and will end up with seven close women friends who have been a group for over 35 years. We’ve watched each other meet obstacles, embrace blessings, and survive dramas great and small. Perhaps to balance out the complexity of our own sagas, we always pepper our reunion with as many movies as possible, separated by walks on the beach, home cooked food and less wine than we used to drink.

In our seventies, we know we face losses in the upcoming episodes of our reunion series. One of us has already lost a partner to a sudden, deadly heart attack. Another is recovering from a knee replacement and can’t make it this year. What will it be like when our numbers thin? How will we all get to our destination if we’re disabled? Who will die first, and how will we deal with that?

These kinds of questions are a reality of aging, and yet so far there is a saving grace. We have each other. Friendships forged at a progressive Episcopal church we all attended back in the day, our shared values run deep. We taught each others’ children in Sunday school, and so we care who they’ve married and how their children are doing. We also care whether each woman is finding joy, discovering new meaning, and whether she can take a good joke.

We all have common political views, and so we complain about the state of the world. But these are women who are change-makers. We haven’t given up. Back in the 70’s we named ourselves the Women’s Quilting and Terrorist Society, which we thought was funny then. Now we just use the initials, but the desire to shake things up is still very much alive.

Everything has changed for the one whose husband turned out to be gay and still is her best friend. For the one who lives close to the bone, after using all her savings taking care of her father. For the one whose bitter divorce was healed by a surprise passionate romance and marriage, ending in her partner’s sudden death.

And nothing has changed. The big arc of our lives is trained by faith in the unseen. The dramas in each chapter have been tamed by good humor. And the shards of old stories are held in a sacred pot by women who will treasure them, laughing and crying together until we can’t do it in person any more

This year I salute these women and all women and men who come together in groups, urging you to put these meetings first, even when it’s hard to put the important ahead of the seemingly urgent. Every time you meet, you put money in the pot. And the older you get, the wealthier you feel, finding that life is made, after all, not of victories or defeats, but of the stream of love embedded in the entire adventure.

 

This post is also available on Huffington Post at my author archive, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-hale/. Your comments there or here are appreciated.

Is the Divine Feminine Working on Wall Street?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

woman in market

Seeing the global markets tumble is as unnerving as an earthquake. Beyond questions like, “Will I be able to retire?” and other understandable, personal fears, lie other more global and cosmic ones.

We’ve long suspected that the current way of running the world is not sustainable. And we know that if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be long before it begins to crumble. We’ve seen institutions and systems crumbling all around us. With them,  we can watch the crumbling of our illusions that the very ground beneath us and the climate around us are stable.

One way to frame this is to say that the energy responsible for the trouble we’re in is the energy of the wounded masculine. The predatory, win-at-all-costs, short-term way of “winning” through force, oppression and marginalization is the masculine in its most harmful form.

Like the masculine, the energy of the feminine has many forms. She is responsible for birth, but also death. Her realm is all matter and the passages it goes through: from seed to flowering, to dissolution, to decay, to rebirth. And so in many traditions, she has both a creative and a fierce aspect.

She is sometimes Kali, who wears the necklace of skulls. She roars onto the battlefield with a sword and cuts off heads of everything false. With the dead bodies strewn around her, she calmly sits down to nurse her baby.

In western culture, images like this one disturb most people.  When I traveled in Nepal, I saw shrines to the Divine Feminine in her fierce form everywhere. In the midst of the marketplace, many of them were covered with filth, and then strewn with flowers. They were honored just as they were, right in the center of human activity. They were not neat or pristine or protected. Many of them were destroyed in the earthquake. They are icons of the Hindu faith in the process of death and rebirth, the faith in destruction of the false as a path.

And so I look at this photo I took of a Nepalese woman in the marketplace of a little mountain village, and I wonder some things. How did she survive the earthquake? Can she still farm her vegetables and support her family? How well is the world and the marketplace supporting her? Is her faith sustaining her?

She is a reminder to me as I glance at the paper or hear the frantic debates in the media. What would be the saving grace of the Divine Feminine in this situation? What are the falsehoods the fierce feminine would destroy? What is trying to be born?

We know that our economy is largely built on a house of cards that is too false to be sustained. Our own welfare is complicated. We are in debt to the Chinese, and everyone is in debt to someone else. So the falsehood of the “dollar” will collapse at some point.

And what is trying to be born? Wall Street may be the most difficult arena for this, but the Divine Feminine in her Creative aspect is a birther, a nurturer. She is at the heart of Creation, and is the heart of Compassion.

And so as she works on Wall Street, she might be seeding a question: what would a compassionate economic system look like? What would truth look like translated into economic terms? It’s time to consider these questions.

Those men and women who are devoted to the Divine Feminine within us all can be devoted now to her re-emergence in the world. She is surely at work in the massive shift we are experiencing. Let us take a stand for her. Surely that could be the revolution that could save us all.

Ode to Serena and the Mastery of Power

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Serena+Williams+04

I’m a big tennis fan, and so Wimbledon on TV was a bonus during this time of recovering from foot surgery. Feeling rather powerless and in need of some inspiration, a second bonus was spotting the invisible battle going on while Serena was winning the singles championship at 33.

Watching the outer battle…I mean, wow. The woman is a national symbol of the potential for feminine power. I remember watching her play with her sister when they were teenagers, the only black feminine faces in a privileged white sport. Not only have they both risen through the ranks, Serena has navigated the politics of sports, become an international star, and now has maintained and surpassed herself. She has overcome injuries, illness, inevitable aging, incredible competition—and is dominant in the world of athletics. That’s power.

Still, in her final match I watched her battle the personal demons that have come out to haunt her on international television in the past. As she admitted in her interview, her biggest challenge is not physical, but mental. Despite all her achievement, training, hard work and success, mastering herself is the hardest work of all.

I have compassion for her in this struggle. Tennis was my sport, and my biggest enemy was myself. I could rip myself apart faster and more viciously than any critic could have managed. I never did master myself through the crucible of tennis.

Watching Serena reminded me of the Hindu story of Arjuna, Krishna and the chariot. Lord Krishna drives a chariot onto the battlefield and Arjuna is a passenger seated in the back. Arjuna represents the embodied individual soul and Krishna, the higher Self– going into the midst of a battle between the armies of our “lower nature” and our Divine nature, on the inner battlefield. The reins are the mind, the horses the senses. And the whole operation works depends on collaboration between them all. (https://chandrugidwani.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-significance-of-the-chariot-with-krishna-and-arjuna/)

I saw Serena’s real battle was to harness and channel the huge power she has amassed. It can be used, like all power, for destruction or for good. The bigger the power and the more fully we enter the bigger area, the more intense the tension gets. Looking through my lens it was not, “Will Serena beat Garbine Muguruza?” as much as it was “Will Serena let Arjuna keep the reins?”

Under pressure, we are all tempted to regress into the habit of allowing our ego or smaller self to grab those reins, triggered by whatever bugs us the most. When Serena’s serve goes sour, it must feel like her power is betraying and eluding her. Her ego must want to scream out obscenities and try to force the issue.

The maddening thing is, the opposite is required. The real battle is to create enough quiet to remain the neutral witness, to listen to higher instruction, to trust that magical flow is just outside our reach, possible once again if we relax and allow it. Letting go over forcing the chariot. Trust over fear.

It’s a mighty challenge for every one of us, collectively and individually. And at the top level of sports, we see the truth: that in a battlefield where every top player has already achieved top fitness, strategy and skill, it comes down to the inner stuff.

What we’re all after is Realization, or whatever you’d like to call it. Peace, happiness, joy, flow. We’ve all had it, and we’ve all lost it. Every one of us is on that battlefield and the skirmishes won’t stop, whether we’re playing on a tiny neighborhood court or in the halls of Washington.

Who’s driving your chariot, or piloting your plane? Are you even acquainted with that higher Self? You’ve met her in those moments where the magical flow just swept you along through difficulties you didn’t think you could master. That’s what I’d call your Arjuna, your Divine Self. You could just call it The Friend. I call it Big Pam, as opposed to Little One.

How can you allow the Friend to take the reins again? Well, I think the first step is always, Just STOP. When anger or panic or pushing or striving or forcing has got you by the throat, just STOP.

Now breathe. Just breathe right into the feeling, wherever it lives in your body. Give it a chance. Give it a little space, a little pat. It’s just your own private angry toddler. Surely you won’t let it drive. You know how that ends. DUI’s or worse.

Now ask. Ask your Self, your heart, for help driving this unruly vehicle. Ask, and it shall be given. Maybe you won’t win the match. But you will have practiced your power serve. You will be one step closer to what I see Serena mastering: authentic power.

Finally, thank your inner Self, your master charioteer. Serena thanks her Jehovah God, which used to annoy me. But now I get it. “It is His strength I rely on,” she confessed. You can call your charioteer Joe if you want, or Delilah. But when you have surrendered the reins and harvested the reward, give thanks and then try to keep doing that.

Your inner crowd will stand up and cheer.

 

How to Make a Great Decision

Monday, February 9th, 2015

path

Sitting in sacred circle with a group of women, I listened to stories told by a group ranging from 19-90. Do you resonate with some of what they shared?

“I’m bursting with energy, but confused. How do I prioritize all I want to do?”

“I have a list of things I love, but I’m not doing that list.”

“I’m so distractible, interested in everything. I need to focus.”

“I have physical symptoms that tell me I’m not on the right path, and it’s still hard to trust doing what I love and know to be true.”

So what is the theme? It sounded to me like the question, “How do we see our path, and then how do we follow it?” This is an important and recurring theme that follows us through life.

Is the answer to discipline ourselves? To crack down and force ourselves to focus and choose? I think not! That is the old way.

This circle, facilitated by dear friend Elise Collins Shields, was an honoring of St. Brigid, descended from the Celtic goddess of the hearth. And so I asked Brigid to whisper in my ear about what we as women leaders, who are immersed in complexity, need to do. How do we discern in the new way? Here is what I “heard:”

As goddess of the hearth, I say, build a fire within to warm and bless your heart’s home–the place inside where you are who you’ve always been and always will be. This is a place outside time and space, a place only the heart knows.

Sit by the hearth, the place of warmth, comfort and safety within your heart and have a fireside chat.

Say to the Universe, “In this great journey where there are so many possibilities to manifest, I wish to liberate myself from outdated stories and beliefs and embody the IAM, The One, the Beloved, the Truth.

Now ask–no, command that the Truth within you enter this room with eyes open, head held high, and speak what is next for you. Listen and “take it in.” Embody that Truth.

Then, rooted in and embodying that Truth, you will conduct a mediation with the mind, which will be a great help to the Truth in working out the third dimension details.

This is the right order of things.

This message from Brigid has stayed with me, and it reminds me of some important things I want to remember:

  1. The heart is the first place I want to go when making any decision. That is “the right order of things.”
  1. The heart is fearless about moving forward and telling me the Truth, and that will always come in Love.
  1. My mind is useful as well, and is a wonderful implementor. I don’t have to worry that my heart will lead me down a scary or impractical path, because the mind will always help with the strategic, clever and practical ways to manifest the heart’s truth in the “real” world.
  2. We all know more than our mind admits. So another question to ask   myself is, “What if I just did what I really know is next?”

This kind of discernment and decision-making is a great gift for a heart-centered leader. It will save time in the end, and move us forward in important ways.

Will you join me in making decisions in this way? Try it and let me know how it works for you.  I look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

Choosing Oxytocin

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Last weekend I surprised myself by getting scared on a routine flight with my husband in our Cessna 182. He had purchased a new gadget to increase our safety and he needed to test it. That meant I would be the co-pilot and observer, looking for traffic while he did some maneuvers.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to go in the first place. I knew when I asked him what maneuvers he’d be doing.

“Just some stalls,” he answered.

Stalls.  The S-word.  Especially accelerated stalls, my nemesis.

To practice a stall, you fly along and raise the nose higher and higher, ignoring the stall horn, which sounds when you’re about to force the airplane to stop flying. You keep raising the nose and then you can feel it fall, feel the airplane stop having lift. It’s not very comfortable.

Accelerated stalls are more uncomfortable than power-off stalls, because you’re going faster and the plane’s reaction is faster and more intense. My terror in flight training was not recovering fast enough and entering a spin.

Now, I trust my husband Jon as a pilot with every fiber of my being. An ex-Marine F-4 pilot who flew over 230 missions, he is fully capable of all these maneuvers, probably with his eyes closed.

But. It’s been 11 years since I had to do these stalls myself, and never have I had to sit in the right seat and be the passenger while he does them. So I didn’t like it. My stomach was rising to my throat and I felt light-headed and sensed a big lump forming in my throat.

“I’m not doing well,” I said. An understatement.

“It’s just a stall. Just breathe and get into it. You’ve done these a hundred times.”

“Not as a passenger,” I retorted, probably a little too sharply. He must have looked at my face, which had no blood in it, because he stopped.

There was no talking me out of it, because the fear reaction had already cascaded through my body. Adrenalin. Tension. No resuming a confident air at this point.

I tried my litany of techniques. “I’m just feeling fear,” I told myself silently. “I am not fear; I just have fear right now. I am the witness, the one observing myself having fear.” I shooed the fear energy away, asked it to return to earth.

My body didn’t buy this at all. It wanted to go home and take a nap. It wanted relaxation. It wanted oxytocin.

Oxytocin is the chemical we love to feel when we orgasm, or when we feel any other kind of intense pleasure. We can invite oxytocin instead of adrenaline by doing what Ellie Drake of Braveheart Women calls an “oxytocin breath.”

Right now, take in a big breath and feel it all the way down into your abdomen, which should rise. Now as you let it out, sigh your exhale out loud. Feel your body “let down,” releasing tension.

This is an important notion for me as a two-time cancer survivor. I believe the story Anita Moorjani tells in her book, Dying to Be Me. Her wondrous healing from a near-death experience taught her that fear not only stops us from performing; it can cause cancer. Or at least create the environment that allows cancer.

My advanced flying lesson was probably related to what I wrote about in Lesson #7, “Give Way to the Winds.” To recover from a stall in an airplane, you do what is counter-intuitive: you release pressure on the controls, even though your impulse is to keep pulling back, since you want badly to go UP.

To recover from a stall in life, you do the same. You release pressure.

I had to risk disappointing my husband, appearing to be  wimp, or suggesting to my critical self that I no longer had any piloting skills. I chose oxytocin.

“If we’ve done enough maneuvers,” I said to Jon, I’d like to go back now.” As I breathed my oxytocin breaths and took care of the “little Pam within,” the one who had regressed to the pressure of flight training a dozen years ago, Jon suggested I cure my ills by flying us home.

Dear Jon.  Getting back on the horse is a man’s method. That would produce more adrenalin. I choose to give way to the winds. I choose oxytocin. I need the feminine way. And so, I believe, does the world.

It doesn’t mean I won’t go flying again, or that I won’t ever be the observer when he does a stall. It just means I choose to allow my body to recover now, instead of pushing.

By the way, he’s forgiven me. It took me almost an hour to return to a relaxed happy state, and I think I was a lot nicer after that.

(Want more “flying lessons?” Order the book at FlyingLessonsForLife.com)

Taking the Pilot’s Seat: Bringing Forth Your Greatness

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The world needs your genius. You have genius, you know. Every one of us does. Your genius is your “original medicine,” as Angeles Arrien put it. It is unique medicine. So if you keep it from the world, the world will never see it again.

Taking the pilot’s seat means bringing out your genius. It means remembering what Marianne Williamson reminded the world about our greatest fear: that we are really great. Playing small, she reminded us, serves no one.

When we ask the biggest part of us—the oldest, most essential, wisest part of us—to be pilot of our lives, we invite our genius to be seen and to be at work in our lives.

It’s strange, isn’t it, that this invitation seems to require courage from us. How could raising the level of our performance and bringing out our greatness be a fearsome thing? Who is it who says it’s scary?

I think it is the child within, the egoic one who is afraid of being exposed, afraid of attack, afraid of shame, failure, and afraid its worse suspicions about our real nature will be proven right. But what does the one within you who is capable of observing this voice say about those arguments?

My larger voice—my essential self—says they are illusions. She says they are the energy of fear incarnate. And not the kind of fear that serves as a valid warning. The kind of fear that cripples.

And so, if there is an inner wrestling match about who should climb into the pilot’s seat and run our lives, how do we deal with this small, fearful one who would sabotage our authentic power? I think we just name her. And then recognize her need for comfort. Hold her as we would any child. Let her know this is not her decision. Let her know we will not leave her behind.

And then, as therapist Terry Real says, peel her sticky fingers off the flight controls, move her over to the passenger seat, and climb in and begin flying.

There’s no time to do otherwise. The world needs your essential self right now.

Qualities of feminine leadership: a love for beauty

Monday, June 7th, 2010

outrageous beauty

I’ve been inspired to write about the qualities of feminine leadership after seeing a wonderful exhibit in San Diego at the Mengei International Museum. It’s entitled Sonabai: A New Way of Seeing. Sonabai was a poor woman who lived in a remote village in central India and was married to a man who kept her imprisoned in their house for ten years. Unable to have contact with anyone but their small son, and able to only go out to their well, Sonabai went beyond surviving to thriving. She began to create.

When she discovered that she could sculpt the thick mud she scraped off the sides of their well, Sonabi began to make figures and animals to serve as toys. Next, it occurred to her to fashion a screen that would filter the hot sun beating down on one side of the house. She tied pieces of bamboo into small circles and connected them. She attached her screen to the house with wood, and covered the whole thing with mud. Next, she sculpted whimsical birds and figures to sit within the openings of the screen. She painted all her work with bright colors made of vegetal dyes. By the end of her decade, her whole house had become a work of art.

Sonabai created something completely unique without any training or any exposure to architecture or art. She had never seen or known about the elaborate screens that are part of the royal architecture in India’s cities. Yet out of the deep well of creative energy to which we all have access, she created outrageous beauty. Other women nearby had decorated their doorways, but in patterns and colors that stayed within the local traditions. Sonabai’s art was fresh, innocent, alive and original. Like the plants in the photo above, the details she chose, the colors and the variety of designs were delicious.

Sonabai wasn’t aware that she was going to become a leader, but she did. When she was discovered and her art was exhibited internationally, she received a grant to teach other Indian artists her methods. They have taken the basic folk art themes and developed their own styles and variations. Sonabai has left a legacy–not only of art, but a lesson about creativity and empowerment.

Perhaps the way we can all engage the creative power that lives within us, is to begin by thinking of what kinds of beauty we love. How can we create more experiences of these kinds of beauty? Some of us might not ever sculpt or paint, but we might create beauty with food or flowers or music or dance. We might recite poetry with passion or learn the forms of a sport in a way that feels beautiful to us. All these efforts are ways in which we can empower ourselves. We can do more than survive; we can thrive.

If you’re curious about Sonabai and the gorgeous exhibit created by anthropologist, photographer and curator, Stephen Huyler, go to http://www.sonabai.com/exhibition.html.

And then, I’d love to hear your comments about how you create beauty and how you feel that is related to the new feminine leadership!

3 Ways to become an empowered feminine leader

Monday, May 10th, 2010

blue wave

Today there is a new wave of opportunity for women who want to become empowered, conscious, evolutionary leaders who make a difference. Teleclasses abound. Just google Integral Enlightment or Feminine Power or Conscious Evolutionaries and you’ll see.  In the meantime, here are 3 principles to think about and practice:

1. Nourish yourself. This means on the level of mind, body and spirit. These are not times for wimps. We need to be strong. Gentle warriors, standing in our truth. If we don’t take care of ourselves, what good will we be for anyone else? So what is your premium fuel? Fill that tank.

2.  Ride the wave. The wave in the photo is a wave of light, a photo projected on the wall of an imaginative San Diego restaurant. Light is nothing but energy. You are nothing but energy and light. So ride the big wave of light, the one other “en-lightened” beings ride. Jump on. Meditate, pray, do yoga, eat spinach or do whatever else helps you stay on. Ride the wave of light.

3. Bring out your soul’s gifts. If you don’t bring them out, what in the world are they for anyway? They are your “original medicine” and if you don’t bring them out, they could disappear forever. This is the moment. We are the ones. We need whatever you can offer. Remember what Jesus said (according to the Gnostic gospels): “If you bring out what is within you, what is within you will save you; if you do not bring out what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” Sounds dramatic, but think about illness, crime and other tragedies. Could be as simple as this. Out. Into the world. Now.

The Dalai Lama said it best recently: “The western woman will save the world.” I guess it’s up to us. Let’s get started!

Vibrancy

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Marg

Allow me to introduce my mother-in-law, Margaret, the weekend after her 99th birthday. That’s right–this is the new 99! She has just walked down the steps on to the the lawn where her granddaughter will be married to the groom (on her right), in a service officiated by the woman on her left. Doesn’t she look like she’s dancing? Isn’t her outfit smashing? Can you believe her smile? You should hear her conversation. She is alive and vibrant. This is my definition of health. This is my dream for old age.

What might happen if we hold such an image in our consciousness right now, and ask to be informed about decisions we might make that will help this dream to come true? If we were consistent about it, I think that would have a tremendous influence over the result.

What do you think? What is your experience about the link between vibrancy, setting intentions and your health? Please comment!