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Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Morning Blog

Just visited my sister's new website where she has posted some artworks created for her Master's degree in the UK. (link on side bar to Sue Raven Art)

We are both working on the sacred and profane images of women, from Mary Mother of God to naked female bodies for Sue, and for me, a search for the sacred feminine that includes sexuality, a la Mary Magdalene, Eve, early goddess figures, our first mothers.

How is it we both ended up pursuing this subject? both from Catholic home, check. both female, check. one a major in Creative Writing, one in Art - ok both artists of a sort. Check. But other than that, just serendipity.

I'm reading Mary Renault's The King must Die this morning, the story of Theseus, son of a King's daughter and possibly of a god. Born in Troizen. The author describes the earlier Shore People who were there before the Horse people, those nomads who came riding down from the steppes to the ocean's warmer climes and conquered or assimilated the goddess-loving people.

The symbols we take for granted are so ancient. The sacrifice of a king every few years reminds me of the election process, where a president must step down after two terms of four years. We don't kill them anymore, but we get rid of them just the same.

Where is the blessing of the god mother then? where is the power of the Earth invoked? tornadoes, storms, hurricanes, floods seem to be the only symbols we are afraid of anymore. The power of the earth to disrupt our 'orderly lives', our illusion of harmony and busy work ethic productivity. We do not offer sacrifice, we do not acknowledge a higher power, except in a very abstract way. But we cower in the face of the destruction of our homes by wind and rain.

So how gain back our harmony with mother Earth?

How renounce our conquistador ways and live in peace with the grass, crops, trees? I hear the bees are dying off because they are trucked around the continent to fertilize crop after crop, and it's not pollution that's killing them but all the disruption to their hives' life. Big agro-business means bigger, better, cheaper food, but if we kill all the bees that pollinate the crops, what next?

I think the Queen Bee is part of the answer. How do we find out who or what is at the center of the hive, keeping it alive with her honey-making, egg-laying energy? And who is the fertilizer of the Queen? How can we bring our energies back into balance?

Find the sweetness within.

Find Ariadne's thread in the dark labryinth.

Or failing that, ask for help to find it.

just a monday morning musing
jenn/musemother

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The body never lies

The most fascinating topic for me these days besides menopause, is how linked our emotions and our physical health are. The surprising thing is how long it has taken us to find out, or maybe people have always known but treated it in non-medical ways, through shamans or herbal healers, or medecine women.

I found the title "The body never lies" on a website called women to women (linked in a few blogs back), in an article about emotional health. It's the title of a book by Alice Miller, written over 50 years ago.

Once I have learned more about it, I also want to tell you about the eft technique (emotional freedom) based on acupuncture meridians in the body.

I tell you, there is so much old baggage and emotional distress stuffed inside of us, causing our bowels to be disrupted, our organs to be overloaded, and even our blood cells to be sluggish and slow.

If you are reading this post, and you want to check it out for yourself, here's the web link: http/:www.emofree.com. If the link doesn't work, type it in yourself - it's worth watching the introductory video and downloading the manual, even if it's a bit lengthy.

So, please consider this a heads up - if you don't do it already - take care of your emotional health today.

Another great resource is the book: The Heart of the Soul, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis.

They say that our emotions are part of our energy system, and that our thoughts are associated with specific emotions. We can learn to recognize our emotions and how they cause painful sensations in our bodies, ie solar plexus area or tightness in the throat. Often there are repeating combinations - emotion = pain or sensation in an area of the body, such as Anger: pain in the chest area.

"When you are aware of everything that you are feeling, all the time, you are in continual communication with your soul."

Now there's a novel thought - can't say more right now, but there's a lot to explore.

ps I share these resources with you without gaining a penny from it, because I don't need to. Don't you love the internet and all the free sources of information available?

I leave you with that for today,
musemother

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Inner voice and menopause

I was sitting with my journal the other morning and asking myself, what do I need to hear today? then actively listening for the small inner voice.

On my bedside table was a book called Beauty by John Donohue. Opening it at random to a page, I found this:

"In every heart there is a discerning voice." ..."against all odds, this still, small voice continues to echo the beauty of the human being... (it) carries the light of beauty like a magical lantern to transform desolation."

This inner whisper is covered over by the loudness of our busy selves, busy lives, exterior activities. It takes some quiet time alone to really listen, and some practice to pay attention. One way to access it is to become our own 'body whisperers', as an article in O magazine called it, comparing it to the phenomenon of horse whisperers who train horses by kindness not coercion. Learning wisdom from listening to our inner knowing, paying attention to our feelings, holding out for our own true knowledge within.

Sometimes it's the dark voice of criticism we pay more attention to. Harsh and unrelenting, nothing we do is every good enough for that voice.

The kindness and care of the healing voice of family and friends, the warmth of a caring presence that reaches us in our suffering, these voices bring back hope and love, and remind us of our divine nature, according to John Donohue.

A website called metavoice.org has an article called 5 Pathways to Listening to your Inner Voice with some practical steps you can take:

1. Put your hand over your heart and focus there - what does it tell you?
2. Self-massage - find out what your body is feeling, tightness in the chest or neck? gut feelings, butterflies, anxiety, fear, excitement.
3. Practise listening to your intuition, and trust it. In hindsight, you know it's always right.
4. Self-sabotage - the voice of the inner critic prevents you from taking risks and making changes. Recognize when this voice pops up. Separate yourself from it, it's not you.
5. Identify limiting beliefs. Such as, money is bad, I'll never be successful, I can't sing.
Fear produces constriction, lack of clarity, and creates obstacles. It prevents us from attracting what we want. It operates in black and white thinking, right or wrong.

So just for today, one day at a time, find out what that small, inner voice is whispering.
You may discover you are your own best friend.

namaste,
musemother

Thursday, June 14, 2007

poem for thursday

Happiness by Mary Oliver

In the afternoon I watched
the she-bear; she was looking
for the secret bin of sweetness--
honey, that the bees store
in the trees' soft caves.
Black block of gloom, she climbed down
tree after tree and shuffled on
through the woods. And then
she found it! the honey-house deep
as heartwood, and dipped into it
among the swarming bees--honey and comb
she lipped and tongued and scooped out
in ther black nails, until

maybe she grew full, or sleepy, or maybe
a little drunk, and sticky
down the rugs of her arms,
and began to hum and sway.
I saw her let go of the branches,
I saw her lift her honeyed muzzle
into the leaves, and her thick arms,
as though she would fly--
an enormous bee
all sweetness and wings--
down into the meadows, the perfection
of honeysuckle and roses and clover--
to float and sleep in the sheer nets
swaying from flower to flower
day after shining day.

may you be drunk in the sweetness
of the honey-house,

musemother,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Multitasking, menopause and stress

Just when you think your symptoms are over, no more hot flashes, night sweats or insomnia, something new pops up. Vaginal dryness, mood swings, adrenal fatigue, exhaustion....why does the Change have to last so long and take up so much of our energy?

Yesterday I was having an annual check-up with my G.P., (why are you so tired? she asked) and we started talking about multi-tasking and stress. Almost a year ago now, she had a heart attack - surprising for a healthy woman in her 50's who jogs daily. She was very lucky to completely recover. But she also has a very stressful job, working inside of a dysfunctional health care system and considers herself underpaid for the hours and heart she puts into her work. Ah, the heart ! She is wonderful doctor, encouraging, insightful, always ready to take a few minutes and ask how I am doing, how are my children, my husband, the big picture. Anyway, since her recuperation period, she is trying to learn to slow down, and even, imagine this, do one thing at a time. Instead of writing a prescription while talking on the phone, she is trying to focus on one task at a time.

As we hit menopause, our brains start crying out for help. Help with crossed wires, help with focus and concentration. Supplements may be one solution, but I think the best thing we can do is slow down and pace ourselves. Get out of the hurry-up habit, that in the end makes us less efficient as we correct the mistakes we made while rushing. How many emails have I sent off without the much needed attachment?

Well, here's an attachment right in the body of the text so you can't miss it - I just got Dr. Christiane Northrup's e-newsletter, and it had a bit of news about fish oil that caught my eye. I have some in my fridge, and maybe once a week I remember to take it. After reading this, I think I'll be reaching for it once a day. For my brain and my heart, I need to slow down, do one thing at a time, and take my fish oil capsules!

Fish Oil Cools Hot Tempers and Hot Flashes: excerpt from Dr. Christiane Northrup's e-newsletter
For years, the omega-3 fats found in fish oil have been shown to help postpartum women maintain a sunny disposition and also to modulate moods in more “mature” brains. Furthermore, research suggests that fish oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce the body’s negative response to psychological stress.

Some initial findings in a study done in Turin, Italy indicate that fish oil may be able to lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes by 25 percent over 24 weeks. The Italian doctors believe that the fish oil helps modulate neurotransmitters in the brain regulating its activity and increasing the “feel good” hormone serotonin. While the evidence is not conclusive yet, noted author Barry Sears, M.D. suggests that these results may also be due to a reduction in inflammation caused by eicosanoids (a type of prostaglandin), which he believes contributes to hot flashes.

So there you have it, today's musings on fish oil, multi-tasking and menopause.

have a sunny disposition kind of day,
musemother


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Journal Writing for Self-knowledge

My journal, my friend, my mirror.

This morning during meditation, I couldn't stop obsessing about something that needed doing. I kept telling myself to stop being a 'doer' and just sit with my being. Thoughts whirled and twirled and the caffeine I'd had earlier just boosted the speed at which they turned in my head. It was really hard to turn off the motor.

Note to self: herbal tea first, then coffee after meditating!

So, I got out my journal and started jotting down what was on my mind, and quickly filled four pages with thoughts, queries, things that upset me, things I've been pushing down and saying I shouldn't worry about. I realized all the stress had built up because I was holding onto stuff inside - trying to perform a task the way it was laid out for me, the way I thought anyway. I remembered my volunteer training, the day I finally blew up (day 4) after holding my questions, worries and things that bugged me inside, not being open and expressing them with the team.

I am learning something valuable about myself - at least it feels like a learning. I need to acknowledge my doubts, fears, questions, niggling feelings of 'something not right'. Otherwise, they blow up in my face, or usually, in somebody else's face who doesn't deserve it.

Blowing off steam in my journal allowed me to not 'flame' somebody in an email, or a phone call. It allowed me to look at several sides of the question, not assume that my way of seeing it is right. Maybe I'm just paranoid and defensive, or maybe something really is not right. Writing in my journal before leaping into action is a safety valve for my hot temper and 'get it done now' personality. (ok I'm a little bit Type A, and my masculine side is over-developed).

Blessings come in small packages, and this one is a red journal about 8 x 7 inches, that I have labelled my Erratical Sabbatical, for the year I am taking off from writing projects. I have many other projects, and am using my journal to brainstorm what the future project may be - a course on Mothering Ourselves or The Feminine Mysteries at a women's centre, or a book for young women on menstruation and the Curse, a couple of articles on self-care or menopause - many ideas are cooking in the journal, or simmering should I say.

I ignore and neglect my journal too, but I know it is always there, always open to listen to what I have to say, never judgemental. It offers me a reflection of where I was last week, last month, last year, and a tool for self-awareness. I love the me that is reflected in my journal, in all her ravings and fantasies and dream projects. She is helping me become the person I am, a person who takes the time to take care of her inner self, as well as her outer projects.

have a great Sunday, sunny and warm here by the pool,
musemother jenn

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sex drive and menopause

I went on a website yesterday that every woman going through menopause should check out. There's a personal profile you can fill out, find out if your hormones are really out of whack, and find a ton of good articles on all the funky symptoms you've been having.

This is an excerpt from one that pulled me to read it, for shall we say, obvious reasons.

"It’s been said that the brain is the most important sexual organ. Certainly we see in our patients that desire and satisfaction depend as much on emotional and psychological factors as on the purely physical – sometimes more so.

A woman’s sexuality often emerges as an issue in perimenopause. For many of us, our sexual identity is rooted in our sense of attractiveness to men, which is typically based on having a youthful body. As our bodies change at mid-life we may feel undesirable and therefore less interested in sex. Biologists say humans are the only species in which females are sexually aroused by their own pheromones — so “feeling sexy” is necessary to feel desire.

Some women were raised to believe that sexual desire is shameful or inappropriate as they get older. Women who’ve been unassertive about their sexuality in the past may prefer to sacrifice their sex lives rather than become assertive now about what’s required to satisfy their sexual needs. And women without partners may be daunted by the prospect of “dating” again and so just wall themselves up.

Your relationship with your partner may be a vortex of issues. If your needs aren’t being met in the relationship, if the two of you don’t deal with problems openly and constructively, if you aren’t treated with respect and fairness, if your partner is self-absorbed or self-destructive — these common patterns destroy the intimacy and trust that keep sexual desire alive over the long term.

Women ask us why they react so strongly now against behavior their spouse has exhibited for years. The reason is that in menopause women often stop putting the interests of others first, and start paying more attention to themselves — that is, they find their voices. If we don’t, among other things, it will adversely affect our health.

from Womentowomen.com

Explore this site - it's packed full of good information. Adrenal fatigue, progesterone, testosterone, fuzzy thinking, stress and overwhelm, it's all there.

Happy reading,
jenn

Monday, June 04, 2007

mini-retreat for Monday

Plus le vin est bon, moins la tete va mal,
il n'y a jamais trop de fetes!

May and June are really hectic months for busy moms; I've been away at singing competitions, atte3nding dance recitals, preparing graduation stuff, jet-setting to France, and this weekend we had three birthday parties at home, two for my husband and one for my 15 year old daughter. What was I thinking?

Anyway, this morning, feeling a little frazzled and confused, I decided to make myself a mini-retreat. (Original idea from Jennifer Louden, Comfort Queen who leads the writer's spa in Taos)

Here's what I did, just because it felt right. You may do things in a different order if you like.

Meditate in silence for one hour
Light a candle from Zena Moon candles http://www.zenamoon.com
Put on some soothing music (Eversound)
Stretch into yoga on the floor mat, open hips and legs and chest especially tight.
Open my Native American animals cards and do a Medecine Wheel Spread
(like a tarot deck, inner wisdom through our healer animal spirits)
Write in my journal, sit and feel whatever emotions arise.
Make a cup of herbal tea to calm stomach (next on my list).

I didn't turn on the computer or read emails until 11:00 a.m. (a rare thing for me).
I put off laundry and rushing anywhere, phone calls and all household duties.
Note: unplug the phone for real peace.

So there you have it, the ingredients for a successful inner peace retreat! It worked for me.

Through the Animal Medecine cards I found out Lynx at the center of the spread was calling me into inner stillness, and my keen Weasel ears and eyes observed the situations I get stuck in. Deer guided me towards love and compassion instead of fear, and Turkey reminded me that give-away generosity doesn't mean I have to give up Armadillo's need for safe boundaries - just keep the heart vulnerable and open, even while deciding what to take in, and what to exclude from my realm of experience.

have a beautiful day, a peaceful week
all you warriors of love,
musemother
p.s. aux amis qui me lisent en francais, un clin d'oeil :)

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