Archive for the 'breaking patterns' Category

28
Jan
15

Get out of your way!

Get out of your wayDo you find that most of the time the thing that stops you from pursuing your dreams or reaching your fullest potential is yourself?

It’s that one voice inside that tends to drown out all the others with words like can’t, don’t , shouldn’t, wouldn’t.  It tells us not to do it.  What is “it”?  Well, think back…when was the last time you wanted to do something that would help you grow or take risk (that wasn’t about being practical and responsible) and you didn’t do it?  Whatever it was, that was the “it.”  It could have been signing up for a class, starting a business or simply choosing to spend time or money investing in your own personal growth.

There are so many things that I want to do and experience in my life that I fear I won’t have the time to do them all.  I certainly don’t need to put another obstacle in my way, but it continues to be a battle to drown out that inner voice of doubt and judgment.  However, I recognize that I am not alone.  The universal power of this conflict was once again brought to my attention while reading a book about women in the mid 1960’s.  The overriding struggle of the women in the book was with that voice, but for them the voice was also more externally pronounced.  In the time during and after the Cold War, many women felt trapped by prescribed social roles and didn’t pursue their dreams for fear of looking like a bad mother, doing something at the expense of their family’s well-being or seeming unfeminine.  Does this still sound familiar?

Despite the fact that that way of thinking was over fifty years ago, it was still only fifty years ago.  In other words, it takes time to change the thinking and/or perception of a society’s gender norms.  And that change begins and ends with us.  We must be the first to believe and say “no” to that voice from the past which tells us no!  It’s a constant battle to retrain the brain.  Why does it seem easier to tell others what they should think or do?  Most times we can see things more clearly from the outside of a situation which is why it is vital to have trusted friends who can encourage us to combat old patterns of thinking.

We can’t erase the past, but we can recognize and identify our mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes it can be easier and safer to listen to that inner voice.  However, if we do, we not only deny  our true selves, but we perpetuate a false social philosophy which prevents us from obtaining the freedom which we all deserve.  If we are torn within ourselves, we will not be unified outwardly with others.

So let’s get out of our own way!

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08
Jan
15

Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon

 

Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

01
May
14

go ahead, just give up on humanity!

go ahead, give up on humanityGo ahead, just give up!  It’s not worth it!

Is that how you feel when you try to change things?  It’s so much easier to follow along with the status quo, but when we suffer the effects of our flawed society, we rethink our position.  Take for example our restricted binary gender roles and systems.  Why do we accept only two definitions of what it means to be a male and female/masculine and feminine?  Why do we even have to categorize it at all?

But instead of making the effort to expand our minds about humanity, we remain limited.  It’s too much work.  And why change it?  That’s the easy out attitude.  But what if you were transgender or someone who doesn’t fit into the either or system?  You’d feel rejected by society as even our language has nothing to communicate or identify oneself.  Even if your identity does happen to accommodate the current departmentalizing system, it still continues to force you to define yourself in a very confining way.

Will we ever redefine our society, our culture, our language to include everyone?  Many believe we’ve come so far but when I have friends who do not identify with the he or she pronoun, how can we say we’ve arrived?  We’re not even close.  People fear what they cannot classify.  But I believe that that only prevents us from growing and becoming so much more as human beings; not caught up in putting each other in a box but celebrating and exploring more and more of who we are and can become.

So is humanity worth it?  We must be the change.  Let’s keep fighting for it together.

30
Apr
14

double edged sword of sexuality

double edged sword of sexualityAre women sexual beings without men?

Women’s sexuality has been a source of war and peace (not to sound cliché).  At one moment a man finds comfort in a woman’s body and in another he abuses it.  A woman’s sexuality seems to be something that for centuries has been taboo; perhaps too dangerous to be out in the open like a man’s accepted, “natural” sexuality.  After all, women aren’t sexual beings unless men make them that way, right?

Within one day, I witnessed two perfect examples of our current patriarchal culture’s view on women’s sexuality.  In one class, we watched videos of various performance artists who do work that is very counterculture.  One man performed naked while literally creating art with his own blood.  But that wasn’t what was shocking to society.  What really got people in an uproar was a woman performing naked.  This was an abomination.  The same artist made some recordings which were sexually explicit and were also deemed extremely offensive (while rap artists have been sharing their highly sexual and violent songs for decades).  All I could think of is the contrast between the two; because one was a man it was acceptable and viewed as serious art while the woman was condemned, considered hypersexual and irresponsible.

Upon leaving class I overheard a group of girls talking in the hallway.  One of them said that she was thinking of bringing a man at her work up on sexual harassment charges.  Her friends seemed shocked by this until she shared the absolutely lewd comments made in her presence, commenting on her body with another coworker.  My thought was to ask what kind of work environment was this that made this male feel that it was acceptable to speak that way?

Women’s sexuality is a double edged sword.  We do not have the same freedoms as men to celebrate and embrace our sexuality without condemnation, but we also fight against man’s objectification of us as purely sexual objects.  So how do we navigate this injustice and redefine our sexuality outside the patriarchal society?  Or are we satisfied with remaining merely objects?

21
Apr
14

joy ride

joy rideHow do you live your life?  Do you allow your goals to determine your efforts or your efforts to lead you to a goal?

I’ve always been a planner.  I like to have everything organized and all the details in place.  There’s something satisfying about finding freedom in structure as well as anticipating something certain.  Most would say this makes me a bit of a control freak which is probably partly true, but the rest is probably a combination of a being overly responsible and needing stability.

However, I’ve recently discovered that when I set a plan, it tends to make me feel boxed in.  Instead of feeling secure and comfortable, I see the jail bars surrounding me.  So my goals in a sense close doors to other possibilities; ones that may be even better than my original plans.  Setting goals is healthy, but sometimes if we don’t allow anything to veer us off our course we miss out on the beautiful detours of life that can cause one to discover a new and perhaps more exciting path.

So what I’m learning about myself is that I would rather live my life allowing my efforts to lead me to a goal.  Perhaps that sounds a bit like letting life happen to me and not being proactive, but from my perspective it is quite the opposite.  I find that when I love making the effort, the goals or end point of those efforts become less important; the goal is more like a sign in the distance that is just out of sight that you can’t read what it says, but you know you’re headed in the right direction.  Then as you travel you’re not so focus on taking one course to get to your destination; instead the road becomes wider and full of amazing side streets full of possibilities along the way.

There’s something scary and liberating about not knowing the next step in the journey.  For me, I have found that it enables me to take more joy in the ride.

17
Apr
14

blazing the trail

blazing the trail041614It’s exciting to meet women pioneers.  Today I met such a one.

This is a woman director who has blazed a trail.  When I asked her how difficult it has been for her, she very honestly admitted that it’s been hard.  That it has taken her much longer to get to this point in her career and it will take us longer as well.  She shared how she notices when theatres announce their seasons the lack of women directors and playwrights.  And she encourages us to make noise; to bring this to their attention.

How can they not see it?  The absence of those who make up 50% of the earth’s inhabitants?  Looking through a patriarchal lens most wouldn’t notice it.  That’s where it becomes our responsibility to “make noise” as she calls it.  Many women do not like that idea; making noise.  It’s contrary to how we’ve been trained as women and how patriarchal society has defined femininity.  But we are obviously not being heard, so how else does our voice receive attention if we do not raise it?

There also still exists a severe lack of colorblind casting as well which needs to be addressed.  This too was presented through the patriarchal lens as white speakers thought the theatre’s come a long way, but minorities clearly disagreed.  It’s sad when the theatre, which I believe is made to look at all perspectives and stories, chooses to only see it from one limited point of view.

Despite all of this, I am very encouraged.  This female director’s example is a beacon of light to me and the other people that I have met, mostly men, have shown their openness to collaborate with artists of any gender.  This experience is giving me hope for the future as current and upcoming artists are open to new works with new messages to help shape and change our society.  I can only hope that I too can play a small part in blazing this trail to equality.