Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You have not danced so badly


"You have not danced so badly, my dear, trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One. You have waltzed with great style, my sweet, crushed angel, to have ever neared God's Heart at all.

Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow, and even his best musicians are not always easy to hear.

So what if the music has stopped for a while. So what if the price of admission to the Divine is out of our reach tonight. So what, my dear, if you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.

The mind and the body are famous for holding the heart ransom, but Hafiz knows the Beloved's eternal habits.

Have patience, for he will not be able to resist your longing for long.
You have not danced so badly, my dear, trying to kiss the Beautiful One. You have actually waltzed with tremendous style, Oh my sweet, Oh my sweet, crushed angel."

I Heard God Laughing, by Daniel Ladinsky.

Monday, September 21, 2009

International Day of Peace 2009

Celebrate World Peace. Click below for a message of peace from the children of the world:

Inner peace is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Click below for the website of Words of Peace Global, featuring video clips and information on the message that peace is possible:

What can you do for world peace today (and every day?)....give yourself a minute to absorb the message or prayer for peace in the heart.

Make room in your busy day for a moment of peaceful reflection, and act accordingly.

Breathe for peace. Do a yoga stretch for peace. Calm yourself for peace.

Plant a rock for peace?

There are many ways to experience peace - make a small step for peace today :)

ps It is also Leonard Cohen's Birthday, so Happy 75th Leonard. Your songs and poems bring peace and light to this darkened world.

put a little love in your heart,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Sport and femininity, motherhood

Muscular, athletic, strong, lean, bulky, fast, powerful, testosterone.....

Is there a feminine ideal in sports? An article in today's Globe and Mail, on women in sports suggests that stereotypes still abound.

When is a woman more like a man? When she is a champion athelete, do we need to test her hormone levels to determine if she is female or male? Androgny is still suspect. These days we call hermaphrodites, those born with sexual elements of both genders intersexuals (at least according to Wikipedia). Neither one nor the other.

"Women and men make the same hormones, just in different quantities" says the article, but bulky muscles and strength are usually built by the 'male' hormones such as testosterone. The South African runner Caster Semenya was recently tested to figure out if she is more male than women - and it's not just a matter of XX or XY chromosomes. Some women actually have higher levels of androgens, and therefore build muscle more easily.

Some athletes complain they are forced to wear short sexy skirts and butt-exposing shorts to play up to the cameras and gain media attention for their sport (think Beach Volleyball, track stars, tennis players). They don't want to be made to look "feminine".

Why can't a woman be more like a man? Henry Higgins opined. Well, because men don't want to date 'mannish' women, or because women themselves feel 'fat' if they are muscular and don't want to fit into backless ball gowns and show off their ripped muscles. Even Serena Williams say's she thinks her muscular arms are too thick!

Many athletes, however, report that their muscles make them feel more strong, more capable and powerful. And that's where the feminine-masculine divide is.

It's about power, it's about who's on top, it's still about operating in a masculine-centered world without threatening the power structure by being too "male". Too loud. Too strong. Too much woman for one man.

What if male tennis stars had to start dressing like beefy weight lifters to make them look more masculine, or shave their long locks into brush cuts to appeal to women viewers?

The flip side of being proud of our female power athletes, is that they have to be superwomen too. In the same G&M Life section are two articles, one about a woman who fought back from breast cancer and pancreatic cancer and is now "zooming back onto the court" to play tennis, the other about women who win championships in sports shortly after having children. Paula Radcliff won the NY marathon in 2007 only 9 months after giving birth. (She began jogging after 12 days, although she paid for it with a small fracture at the base of her spine....); Kim Clijsters won the US Open on Sunday, two years after giving up competitive tennis and giving birth.

It makes me proud for them that they can do this; however, it feels like an impossibly hard act to follow. Reality must be somewhere in the middle for most of us, who don't feel like rushing out to perform marathons after giving birth. Giving birth is a marathon.

I think sometimes we have it all wrong. Our feminine power is not in building bulky muscles (but, hey if that's your thing...), nor in imitating male versions of strength (shotput anyone?), but in accepting that there are different kinds of strength.

Harbouring a baby for nine months, going through hours of labour to give birth, pushing past all your emotional, physical and psychological limits to push that nine-pound baby out of your body, sacrificing your sleep, sanity and love-life to care of a vulnerable little one....these are not the only things that women can do. But they are a Lot! They make us strong and powerful, not to mention muscular (lifting a 30 lb toddler all day will do that). Putting up with whining, cling-ons and teething babies would drive most athletes (male or female) around the bend.

So start your endurance training, future mothers, get ready for the only female endurance sport that demands more energy than a triathalon, and lasts twenty years longer; although it should require rigorous training, none is offered or given, beyond pregnancy multi-vitamins.

Be muscular, lean, bulky, round, soft, strong, patient, powerful, and all feminine.



ps I invite your comments, this is only my opinion, what's yours?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Yoga, Cancer and Calm

Not only does staying calm help me get through the hectic back-to-school days, but staying calm is good for your health. The link below is to a Globe and Mail article from Thursday Sept 3

Scientists and researchers in Calgary are studying the effects of yoga on cancer survivors. The program is called Yoga Thrive and has proved to be an ideal practice for diminishing the side effects associated with chemotherapy : fatigue, nausea and depression.

Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts has also teamed up with doctors to integrate alternative healing practices into their medical practice. It turns out that yoga and healthy living are good partners.

There are several good articles on the Kripalu website, but here is one called The Future of Medicine: which explains how blindsided doctors get when we focus only on the symptoms and not on the underlying causes.

Yoga and meditation are not only about stress reduction and finding calm. They are tools for growing your awareness, your conscious choices, your way of living in the world.

Choose harmony, choose the path of least resistance, choose health.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Finding my still center of peace

What I need today is to find my still center of peace.

Yesterday I had such a hectic day, although it was Tuesday it felt like a Monday. Monday I was at a funeral in Toronto with family all day, and sort of in another world, off emails and phone calls, away from the list of chores and household stuff.

While I was driving into town to pick up a table yesterday, my mind still in a bit of a haze, the thought came to me that what I really want is to find that calm center inside of me, to weather the storm of activity.

I need to stay calm in the face of busy, scheduled days.
I need to stay calm for my teens, facing their return to or beginning of, college.
I need to stay calm to thinnk about what projects I want to work on today, out of the many options presenting themselves: poetry reviews, interviews, articles, course planning and research, blog writing and research, book draft to work into a final form, and meetings, rehearsals, singing practice and volunteer work.
I need to stay calm in the face of whining cats who are always hungry.
I need to stay calm in front of family members who irritate.
I need to stay calm for my own sanity and health.

I need to find my calm center as I drive, walk, eat, sing, talk, meet, rest.

There is no other thing (besides eating, breathing and sleeping) that I need to do more of.

So that's my focus for today, and maybe even, if I'm lucky and I remember, for the rest of the week.

Luckily, I had a yoga class this morning that reminded me of my calm center, and brought me there, as well as a meditation practice that roots me.

Happy September,