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Change the Pronoun – Change the Outcome

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. He was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent his entire childhood, growing into a young man wounded so deeply that he would bear the scars the rest of his life.

As an adult he could no longer stand the guilt of thinking that other children would suffer the same horror.  He spoke up. It was emotional, he felt ashamed for something he did not provoke, and at the end of it all, because he was believed, he began the real work of healing.

Does anyone remember the Penn State sexual abuse scandal? If not, refresh your memory.  Young men came forward reporting  sexual abuse, resulting in the prosecution of the perpetrator.

You’d have to have had your head buried in the sand if you haven’t heard of the reports of child abuse (overwhelmingly of boys)  reported in the Catholic Church and the  incredibly powerful conspiracy to cover that up. Overwhelmingly these young men came forward because they trusted that they would be believed.

Now read my first paragraph again with a different pronoun;

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. She was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent her entire childhood, growing into a young woman wounded so deeply that she would bear the scars the rest of her life. 

I was one of those girls. When I wanted to come forward (years later after much counselling and thought), to help other children who were exposed to this man’s reign of terror, I was told (by professional lawyers and psychologists) that despite my record of years of counselling ,  that it would be my word against his. Without any real physical proof (all those years later), he would not be prosecuted. Not only would he walk away without any repercussion for being a rapist and abuser, getting away with it would only reinforce his perversion.

I was told that should I break my silence in order to help the other kids at risk,  he would become bolder and continue to abuse and rape. This is the kind of support women of my generation had; none.  Not likely what those Penn State men were told.

men speak

The ‘Me Too’ movement has exposed the dirty underbelly of western misogyny. It has highlighted the history of fear-mongering and abuse of power. The frustrating and sad reality of it all is that because these victims are women, they are being poo-pooed, and condescended to by the very systems and people in power who have orchestrated silence of the vulnerable for centuries.

The common opposition about coming forward after years and years, and false accusations are non-arguments. Coming forward years later often happens after much difficult and heart-wrenching work, and with the hope of stopping the horror.

As for false accusations, I take that seriously. After all, I’m the mother of a son. It would break my heart to see his name dragged through the mud if he did not hurt someone.

Most women that you know have been sexually abused and raped. It’s a fact of life that we all know, yet our global culture shrugs it off. As North American women we set a standard for the rest of the women in the world.

In my own sphere, men often shrug it off by saying, I don’t know. It never happened to me. Well, lads, imagine being sexually assaulted and raped and then emotionally abused into being humiliated and shamed by the man or woman who did it. Would you think that they were capable of doing it again to someone else?

Remember that women (and men) report not out of vindictiveness, they report because they want to stop the cycle of abuse.

The problem is that society rallies behind sexually abused men and boys, while, by silence, apathy and blatant denial of the female voice, condoning the continued abuse of women and girls.

maya angelou quotes.jpg

Finally our voices are uniting, and are becoming stronger and louder than the din of the historical patriarchy.

 

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Posted in Advice for Women, books, Empty Nest, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Girl Stuff, Guy Stuff, Lean In Girl Stuff, Middle Age, Midlife, New Feminism, Personal Development, Professional Women, Social Commentary, Society, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, women, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

Are You There God? It’s Me. Where’s Margaret?

itsmemargaretFinding your father’s copy of Playboy. Playing two-minutes-in-the-closet. Wearing a bra for the first time. Buying your first maxi-pads.

Those were all of the things that made 11 year old Margaret Simon’s  character so relatabel in Judy Blume’s  ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.

I can’t remember who lent me the book, but I do remember hiding it from my parents and older sister.  Although the book was a decade behind (those girls had to wear belts with their pads),  it was as a staple in my generation’s pre-teen reading diet.  It was our porn.

Wanting to know about my changing body and emotions wasn’t easy. I was shy, a bookworm and a tomboy who was raised in a body-shaming-Baptist family.  Ballsy Margaret who crushed on Phillip and bought her own pads  from a boy cashier, was my hero.

How things have changed.

After having spent my adult years fully loaded up on contraception, today was the day that I would have my Mirena removed. This morning I stood in the drugstore looking at a wall of pads, tampons, and Diva Cups wondering just what the hell I was going to need. I would have loved to have had Margaret’s advice.

croneI no longer need birth control. What I need is to return to my feminine body. To experience the shift from motherhood to new-cronehood with some modicum of respect for the awesome female form that I inhabit.

I am from a generation of women who have been convinced that our natural cycles should be stunted. We are being convinced that unless we want to get pregnant, we need to saddle up on hormones and keep a constant, obedient level of functioning that does not include paying attention to the natural rhythm of our bodies to stop, rest, rage, weep and rejoice. We have been twisted into she-men.

If I could do it all over again, I would do it like a woman, and not try to be the she-man that our you-can-have-it-all-girl-boss-culture would like me to buy into. I would get pregnant again and rejoice in my body. I would revel in my sexuality. I would do so many things differently with regard to my divine feminine.

Much like young Margaret’s character, I’m wondering about what will happen next. Except I’m in my mid-forties.

I’m noticing changes in my body; less firm, more round, a greater comfort with my own self when I look in the mirror after I slip out of my clothes and into the hot bathwater.

I wonder what happened to ballsy, Margaret when she hit forty? I’d sure like to hear from her now.

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Do Not Wash the Floor: Putting on Your Big Hat

tiredwomanDoes it amaze you that the people you live with (aka your family) know where to go get stuff but they can’t remember how to put it away? It kind of makes you twitch doesn’t it? The high level of frustration which comes with lack of respect for your  time.

If I took a survey of all of my women-friends and asked how they were feeling, most of them would answer the same way; Tired.

I’m tired.

Fatigue. It seems to be a running theme among women in their 40’s. Most are smack in the middle of feeling the pressure of their long-forgotten wild selves tugging relentlessly at their heart-strings.  We’re now in the middle of our  lifetime on this earth, and we can feel it in our bones.

We can feel it slip away every time that we clean up someone else’s mess, and every time we sweep the floor.

Time seems to have accelerated just as we need things to slow down.  Something inside of us feels like it needs to be uncaged.  If we listen hard enough, we can hear our goddess call out from deep down in the dark visceral places of our suppressed soul: Let me out!

How the hell do we do that?!

We must use our precious energy to build firm boundaries and defend them with (and for) our lives. For the majority of women, the idea of leaving work, taking time to rediscover and recover their passions is an impossible ideal.  Yet, we must take time away to listen to our own intuition.

Another way to strengthen connection to intuition is to refuse to allow anyone to repress your vivid energies…that means your opinions, your thoughts, your ideas, your values, your morals, your ideals.

I’m a woman of strength and courage, and I even find that carving out time for this self-care is a tug-of-war. We all know that days off are filled with domestic chores which women are expected to do; organizing, planning and preparing meals, laundry, the never-ending business of tidying and picking up miscellaneous crap.

One day, years later, after washing the kitchen and living room floors by hand, she slipped into her very best silk blouse, buttoned her long skirt, and pinned on her big hat.  She pressed her husband’s shotgun to the roof of her mouth and pulled the trigger. Every woman alive knows why she washed the floors first.

Taking time to refresh your spirit in the privacy of your own thoughts is essential. Understanding where those thoughts are coming from, helps to understand why we’re so damn tired.

During busy times, creative pursuits may be put on hold, and our time even more precious. For these times, I reach for a book. A few minutes of quiet time to read words of wisdom from other women always sustains me.

For the these important moments during the day when you get to nourish your divine feminine, I suggest a few good reads;

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy
  3. Women & Power by Mary Beard
  4. Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes ( I confess, I can’t get enough of this book right now…reading and re-reading)
  5. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty & Change by Pema Chodrun

Whatever you do, do not wash the floors. Let someone else take a turn.

Put on your best silk blouse, button up your skirt, put on your big hat and go out into the world.

We need one another at this time in our lives more than ever before ladies, and we need to see our courage and hunger for life reflected back to us by our peers when we aren’t feeling that courageous ourselves.

All quotes taken from Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
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Sweet Summertime

Summer solstice is almost upon us. You know, the phase of this trip around that sun that marks the true onset of summer.

We’ve all seen the social media posts with funky patio lights and carefree al fresco dining; vintage glassware, impossibly perfect outdoor furniture (that would wither with one rainfall), and no mosquitoes.

This side of 40, we all know that it’s never that perfect. But it can come pretty damn close.  The secret to enjoying summer, or anything else at this stage of the game, is a certain dude-ish je ne sais quoi.  A few flowy, funky, retro tops to hide a multitude of middle aged sins, and plenty of liquids.

The idea of cottaging, camping and celebrating everything that can be celebrated is a great idea, but the reality can be a little tiny bit exhausting.

So I’ve created a little backyard oasis which includes a couple of sets of dated christmas lights which are now trendily referred to as ‘fairie lights’, a water feature from my partner’s ex’s house, and a load of carefree climbing vines.  I added a few palms just to remind myself that when winter arrives, so do the snowbird deals to the Caribbean.

Creating your own, personal oasis leaves plenty of time (no snakey fifty kilometre traffic nightmare into the muskokas or Haliburton Highlands) to tear off your work-a-day clothes, throw on something loose, pour an icy cold gin and tonic and turn up the Jimmy Buffett in the backyard (before and after work, although you might want to substitute coffee before work).

In order to make summertime a little bit more summery and a lot less hectic may I recommend a few of my mid-life-mid-summer-secrets?

  1. The muu-muu. Call it a caftan, or whatever you like, but it’s a lifesaver. No bra. No panties. No public entertaining in this either, but you will feel somewhat goddess like with a generous heap of nonchalant I-could-give-a-craplessness.  Mrs. Roper to the rescue.

2. An easy cocktail. I recommend a simple gin and tonic. Either Tanqueray with Lime, or Hendricks with cucumber. Either works. Poured over ice, it’s simple and refreshing.

gt

3. Non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s face it, middle-age and empty nesting lets us fall into a relaxed way of being that does not always require assistance. A simple pitcher of pink lemonade in the refrigerator or a sumptuous hot tea can do the trick. My favourites include T by Daniel’s Night in Rio, or Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.

yellowtea

4.  A damn good book that you can sink your teeth into. This could be a post unto itself, but I’m going to stick with just one book for now. If you are a mid-lifer, empty-nester, or a woman who feels like change is on the horizon, I highly recommend, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Reading this will make you 100% confident wearing your muu-muu. I promise. No gin required.

women who run with the wolves

5. Fire. Yes, that’s right you need some fire. It’s primal, it’s hypnotising, and it can bring you back to yourself after a long day at work. If you have the space, try a firepit, maybe a chimenea, and for smaller spaces, try a little fire-pot.

chimenea

6. Soundscaping. A water feature can add that lovely trickling sound that makes you think that you’re somewhere other than your urban cage. If there’s no room for that, or no budget, try some of the 1990’s Dan Gibson Solitudes tracks cranked up to drown out the neighbour’s nattering,

Celebrating the sunshine is quintessential to summertime, and creating your own oasis optimizes all of that joyous vitality that the season brings. Wishing you the relaxed kind of muu-muu, gin-drinking, pink lemonade, feminist-reading kind of summer you deserve.

Posted in Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Friendship, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Simple Living, The Art of Living, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Wellness, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

On Fat, Friendship & Flipping the Bird

laughing on the insideThe other day a friend of mine said something friends are not supposed to say;

“You know that picture you posted of yourself? You looked horrid, and fat and old.”

Thanks.

Like I didn’t already feel that way underneath the smile we’re all supposed to wear every day.  I mean really, who the hell thinks that’s ever ok to say? It’s not. It’s mean, and it lacks basic goodness.

“Let’s go for a walk, and do you have time to pop into the store with me.” Now there’s a healthy response to a friend who is stressed to the point her body is showing it.

I want to lay in bed and cover up my head and cry today….all day. But instead, I will put on my suit (that’s way too tight now), and head in to the office to compassionately take on the world’s grief. And therein lies the problem, doesn’t it ladies? It’s the expectation that we will care for everything and everyone, and whatever shitty chores no one else wants to do.

Here’s a newsflash; each day only has 24 hours in it, even for women.

dream bigLately, despite being fatter than ever, and pinched for time, I’ve been really satisfied with my accomplishments. My resolution this year was to complete a course that could actually help me achieve some financial freedom. And I did it!  I did it while working full-time, managing a relationship, keeping house, and moving my son back from his first year in university. I was feeling pretty happy with myself….and then someone felt the need to let me know I was ugly, another to remind me that I don’t make enough money, and perhaps I don’t look after every-single-fucking-person-animal-and-thing-in-my-life to their liking.

With friends like this, really, who needs enemies ladies?

So it’s on these days when we don’t want to face the world, when the self-esteem that we usually have without thinking about it makes a ragged and surrendered appearance, that we need to dig deep and look at what is important to us, not someone out there marking us like a french judge at a figure skating competition.

So today, after I’m finished with a good cry and a have plastered on my professional face, you can count on my doing two things; giving those negative assholes the finger and getting on with the things in my life that make me happy.

Posted in Columns, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Girl Stuff, Lean In Girl Stuff, New Feminism, Opinion, Professional Women, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, Women's March on Washington, Women's Rights, Working Women

It’s Time to Listen: A #MeToo Breakdown For Men

introverts

It’s my staunch belief that the #MeToo movement was born the moment Trump was elected POTUS. That was a bitter pill to swallow for everyone with a pussy to be grabbed.

The men in my life are wondering what the hell happened. Men are speaking up with sheer obliviousness about how they feel they no longer know how to communicate with women. Good.

Try listening. If you can’t listen, and you want to evolve past the shameful state of the pussy-grabbing POTUS, or even just avoid some life-ruining sexual harrassment lawsuit,  take some advice; Read a book and start listening.

Books are a good place to start.  As Elizabeth Renzetti is quoted as saying in a recent Toronto Star article by Tara Henley,

A book forces you to think deeply, to think profoundly, to think at length about issues that don’t just flash before your eyes as you’re scrolling through your phone. It forces you to actually confront, and acknowledge , and come to terms with, issues that are quite complex, and that need the space to be examined.

Women have lived their lives since the dawn of time, surrounded by Donald Trumps – affluent old pigs who get away with whatever they want because they pay for it.

Anger is just frustration that doesn’t feel heard.

And a lot of us are angry.

Saturday night I went to bed angry. My other half, who is obsessed with CNN, and therefore the asshat known as Donald-Useless-Twat-Trump, officially got on my last nerve.

“Turn that shit off! The last thing I need to listen too all weekend is CNN talking about Donald Trump fucking porn stars!” I stomped up the stairs, and before I slammed the bedroom door shut I finished off my rant with, “…and don’t you dare wake me up when you finally get enough of that garbage. I deserve to be able to relax too!” Slam.

With an icon of misogyny elected as the leader of the free world, it was really the last straw.  Seriously how much could any intelligent woman take? Pussy hats dotted the streets lined with millions of women for the Women’s March on Washington, and women everywhere started to speak up for one another.

The #MeToo movement was a tipping point for women to step forward into the light, and claim their power. As survivors of sexual abuse, we all know that speaking up has traditionally been taboo. No one wants to hear that stuff. It’s akin to the visual of watching someone be disemboweled.  The pain is incomprehensible, as is relating to the victim or the perpetrator.

The tsunami of women coming forward during the past year has been overwhelming. For most men, really thinking about their sisters, girlfriends or mothers being raped or assaulted, is nearly incomprehensible. But I guarantee you, a woman you love has experienced this.

Now is the time to listen.  We need to stop being distracted by sensationalism. Turn off the twaddle blaring from CNN and reflect.

Just listen.

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New Year – New You; When Did You Stop Dancing?

mirror heartThree days ago I danced naked in front of my bathroom mirror.

I watched as every ounce of my forty-three year old body jiggled and bounced. It wasn’t pretty by anyone’s standards, but it was joyful.

Until it wasn’t. As I took in my reflection, I wondered at how different my appearance is to the way I feel on the inside. What happened to my firm body? The one I used to work so hard, make love with, gave birth with, and adorned to glorify it?

It got caught up in all of the should’s, my anxiety, eating away at my piece of mind, padded my tushy, and provided a thicker layer of protection against a demanding world.

But three days ago I used it to dance.

And being the turn of the new year, I couldn’t help but want to love it a bit more. All of it. You know, let my bones rest from carrying so much should-shaming, and shake off the madness by dancing from the inside-out.

Yes, I do need to lose weight and get in shape. I really believe that it comes from the inside though. I never make resolutions, but this year will be an exception. 2017 saw an overhaul of my emotional landscape, and damn it, I’m going to celebrate!

This year I will dance; in the moment, not wishing to be anywhere but where I am. I will do my best to be joyful, and present, letting the discomfort of my patterns make me uncomfortable enough to explore outside of my comfort zone.

One of my gal-pal’s posted her word, “GLOW”, as her word for 2018, I had to nod my head in agreement.

If I have to narrow down one word for this new year, may I suggest, “DANCE”. Not the kind of dancing that will make you an overnight YouTube star, but the kind of dancing that starts in your soul and shines in everything that you do.

2018, I will delight in dancing within the moments you gift me by loving the body that carries me through it all.

Wishing you everything you need to dance.

when did you stop dancing