Summer sleep away camp is a highlight of my kids’ year. They’ve all attended an outdoor adventure camp, 8,000 ft above sea level, in the Colorado Rockies for years.
It’s not cheap. So, in order to offset the price my husband and I, like many other frugal parents, work at the camp. This is my husband’s eighth year at camp, my second.
It was a hard shift from home life to camp life for me this year.
I’ll be honest - in general, I don’t transition very well. I envy people who are hearty, roll-with-it types. But over over the years I’ve learned a lot about how to be aware of, accept and take care of my needs. Drastic changes in routine, diet, sleep etc. throw me for a loop.
For almost the whole first week I felt disoriented and funky (and not in a good way). By the second week I started to get more into a routine. Part of that routine was a short 20 minute walk that looped by one of these majestic, postcard worthy Colorado mountains called Prospector.
Just moving my body, alone with my thoughts, with this expansive scenery was both opening and grounding. At the halfway point of this loop there was a sign, most likely painted by some campers, that seemed like it was placed there just for me. It was a quote from Proverbs 26:14:
A righteous man falls down seven times & gets up seven times
It was exactly what I needed to see.
It struck me enough that when I got back to my room I wanted to look it up. While there are many translations, the full Hebrew proverb says something like this:
For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise,but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.
Being a more happy, campy kind of sign it didn’t include this second part about the wicked. But it got me thinking about what is the difference between the righteous and wicked in regard to their ability to get up? How does it relate to my own life? What enables me to get up when I fall down and what makes it hard for me to get up?
For me, it comes down to worthiness. If I can connect to my self worth underneath the muck, I can get back up again. The less worthy I’m feeling the longer I stay down.
Feeling worthy does not always come easy to me.
Like so many of us, I can have a pretty nasty inner voice. It can sound like this:
See! Here you are again - you’re never going to make it, you always &*%# up in some way. This is who you really are. Did you really think that ….
The good news is, you don’t need to have a huge burst of worthiness to start to get up. Just as a small candle can bring a lot of light to a dark room, a little spark of worthiness goes a long way! It’s also good to know that you don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes we have to get a jump start from family, friends and even paid professionals like myself.
My next post will be on specific steps you can take to jump start your worthiness but until then I want to leave you with my own personal proverb:
She who sees herself as worthy can fall seven times and rise!
Bear with me a moment while I talk about road construction and Google maps. I promise, It will relate to your life!
If you live near any metropolitan area you know that there’s always road construction happening. I live outside of Boston, MA and recently a new exit was built on I-95 (which I seem to be on constantly).
There used to be exit 19A and exit 19B. Now, there’s also exit 19C. .
But it’s a bit tricky because the new exit, 19 C, is actually the exit formerly known as 19B.
And the new 19B is the exit formerly known as 19A.
And the new 19A is a brand new exit that didn’t exist before (using an old name that did exist before).
The problem is Google maps didn’t seem to know this. It kept telling me to get off at exit 19A when I really needed to get off at 19B (formerly known as 19A). Got it?
The map was not updated to the new reality.
Some version of this happens to us in our emotional lives all the time. We are often using the emotional map created in our childhood to navigate our adult lives. While some things may remain the same, these maps are often out of date and lead us in the wrong direction.
You may wonder, how do we create these maps in the first place?
Every child is a map maker. From birth, we start scanning the territory and taking note of everything around us. We are infinitely curious about the world and always questioning. As we explore our physical world we are also exploring our emotional world - unconsciously asking questions such as:
Am I safe?
Am I loved?
Is it ok to make mistakes?
Is it ok to be me?
Is it ok to say no?
Is there enough nourishment for everyone?
Do I belong?
Is it ok to feel sad? Angry? Happy?
Am I good enough?
Am I too much for others?
Can I get support?
Are my needs ok?
From the answers to questions like (but not limited to) these we start to create core beliefs and our map of the world.
Here’s an example of what that may look like:
A person is born into a family where the parents are consumed with their own lives to the point where they don’t just don’t give a lot of support. As a child they make a decision that there’s not a lot of support to be had in this family. They may choose to stop asking for support and to become independent and self-reliant at an early age. This self reliance serves them well in getting what they need and they are often praised for it. Self reliance becomes a habitual, automatic way of being.
As an adult, however, this self-reliance may start to cause them problems. This could look like their work life becomes overwhelming because they can’t delegate and think they have to do everything all by themselves. Or there’s a limitation to how vulnerable they can be with a romantic partner who, unlike their parents, wants to and is able to give support but they are not able to take it in.
The map starts to limit one's’ self-potential.
The good news is updates are available.
Using the Hakomi method, I guide my clients through four steps to update their emotional maps.
Awareness that this map is not taking you where you want to go. (This is what usually brings clients to me in the first place)
Assisted Self-study and self-discovery. Getting to know really well how this shows up in your life. This is done without judgement and with a lot of compassion.
Experiments in mindfulness to create a new experience. These experiments in mindfulness create new neural pathways (new roads!) in your brain.
Integration and taking the new map out into the world.
Through these steps a more realistic and satisfying way of being emerges.
Ready to update your emotional map? Be in touch for a free, no obligation, 20 minute chat to see if Hakomi is a good fit for you.
Here’s what clients are saying:
I put off giving myself this attention for a long, long, long time! I really feel like Ketriellah helped shift a place in me and the best way I can describe it is like a gentle internal massage. I stop and breathe more often. I ask myself, What am I needing in this moment? more often. I take walks and think it out more often. I continue to say to myself, Take care of yourself, girl! You freak'n deserve so much! more often. Thank you, Ketriellah, for holding my hand to get here.
Tamar Field-Gersh, Entrepreneur, Mother of three
I have been coming to Ketriellah for Hakomi sessions regularly for nearly 2 years. Every session is unique; every session, I feel I am being met with curiosity, compassion, wisdom, and humility. It takes a truly gifted practitioner to be able to roll with the unknown, without judgment, without an agenda, while still providing a strong container for growth. I would unequivocally recommend Ketriellah to anyone interested in exploring their inner life more deeply. She assisted me greatly in moving past stuck places, exploring memories and habits, and learning how to land in the present moment and be okay with myself just as I am. The work I have done with Ketriellah has been some of the most fruitful and spiritually connected self-exploration of my 36 years. I am deeply grateful to have had her as a guide.
Anne Zager, MSW student
Slow is a dirty word in our culture.
It’s a by-word for lazy. Slacker. For being somebody who gives up. Stupid.
However, many of us, in response to the crazy fast world we are living in, are reclaiming the word slow. I recently started a Facebook group called Slow Jewish Home. It’s a place for Jewish women to connect about how to live a life that is slow, mindful and authentic.
For some, even that can still sound a bit indulgent.
Just this week a client told me that she’s been following my posts on Slow living but she thinks that if everyone lived that way then nothing would ever get done!
It’s partially true. Slowing down does involve saying no. There are some things that won’t get done.
But here’s my question: What kind of things don’t get done unless you slow down?
In my own experience of being addicted to speed, the thing that most suffers from our inability to slow down is our relationships.
Our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with those we love, our relationship with the natural world and our relationship with the Divine are all cultivated when we take the time to slow down and be mindful of our present experience and our surroundings.
Carl Honore, the author of, In Praise of Slow shares this about his personal wake up call: When I caught myself admiring a book of one-minute bedtime stories (Snow White in 60 seconds!), I suddenly realised I was racing through my life instead of living it.
What slow is for me will be different from what slow is to you.
In order to find your own slow you have to work out what is important for you, strip away the things that take you away from the important stuff and then create a life where those important things are at the center. (Paraphrased from Brooke McAlary at Slow Your Home).
For now I’ll leave you with this:
In order to go slow, know when to say yes and when to say no.
Everywhere you look these days there's something about the positive effects of gratitude. Gratitude makes you happier, improves your relationships, helps you sleep, make more money and have better sex (OK, I made that one up but just for fun googled it and saw that indeed there are many articles on this topic).
Along with exercise and meditation, gratitude is the new darling of the positive psychology world. Likewise, similar to exercise and meditation, we know being grateful is something we should do and feel bad about ourselves when we don't.
Many years ago when I was pregnant with my first child (he's now 16) I experienced an extreme version of this. For the first three months of my pregnancy I thew up at least 5 times a day. Everything smelled horrible to me - even my new husband. We were living in a caravan (a.k.a. trailer) in a small village in Israel with no car, no air-conditioning and no trees for shade. I sometimes would lay in a cold bathtub and cry. I was experiencing severe prenatal depression and for the first time in my life was having regular suicidal thoughts. It's hard to even come close to conveying with words how miserable I was almost every second of the day.
I also felt shame that I was not more grateful. Grateful to be newly married. Grateful for my home. Grateful for the life that was growing inside of me. It didn't help that I was living in a spiritual community whose guiding principle was Mitzvah Gedolah L'hiot B'simcha Tamid (It's a great Mitzvah/commandment to always be happy).
Our Rabbi got wind of my bad state and came to visit. I told him how horrible I felt that I was not more grateful and happy. In response, he shared with me a great piece of wisdom that I continue to use until today.
You don't have to be happy about throwing up, or happy about your husband smelling or even happy about things you think you should be happy about. But can you let yourself be happy about the things that you still enjoy?
Basically, can you let youself have the happiness that is still there?
There wasn't much that I felt happy about but there was one thing. Every day at around 3:00pm a patch of shade would start to appear in front of my friend and neighbor's caravan. I would drag myself outside and lay down in that shade. Every once in a while the wind would blow. It was my deepest pleasure. I started saying to myself, I like a cool breeze on a hot day ...I like a cool breeze on a hot day... and I would let myself feel that tiny bit of gratitude.
You see, gratitude is a feeling. Yes, there are things we can do to cultivate gratitude but you can't fake it. Either you feel it or you don't. But sometimes we also squash down the actual gratitude that we do feel because we are too busy feeling bad about the gratitude that we don't feel.
When we let ourselves feel the small bits of gratitude we flex that muscle. Yesterday, I was in the shower using the Trader Joe's brand three-in-one shampoo/conditioner/body-wash when I felt a wave of gratitude for how much I like this product and that I didn't need to buy three different bottles but just one (I hate clutter). Then I remembered how much I love the sample sized cups of coffee they have at Trader Joe's (like, an oddly disproportionate amount), that led me to being grateful for how friendly the employees are! I then felt grateful for the fact that we had the money to go grocery shopping which led to me feeling great gratitude toward my husband who has been working extremely hard lately working more than full time while I grow my coaching business.
But, you see, I didn't start out by feeling gratitude toward my husband. I started by feeling grateful for the three-in-one body-wash. Letting myself fully feel the graditude for the body-wash ultimately led to my gratitude for my husband. It's counterintuitive but we often have to let ourselves feel grateful for the small things that are genuinely giving us pleasure before we can move onto the bigger things.
This week I invite you to notice what you genuinely feel (in your body, not your mind) grateful for. Can you let yourself fully have that feeling? When you stay with that feeling what wants to happen? Does it want to grow? Does it make you feel gratitude toward other things?
Please, let me know how it goes! I can't wait to hear from you!
I can still remember my wonder and delight the first time I logged onto Facebook in 2009. I was so happy to see and interact with friends from around the world in such a simple and easy way. However, the honeymoon didn't last. I soon started to experience the dark side of Facebook: the comparison. It started slowly, but the intensity of comparison kept creeping up until, one look at friend's picture, taken at her atest marathon, could send me into a tailspin of feeling crappy about myself for an entire day. The more I liked, the less I liked myself.
Thankfully, I was able to see that it was no longer a healthy choice for me, and in 2013, for my 41st birthday, I gave myself the gift of freedom from Facebook. I put my account into deep hibernation and it stayed that way for over three years. I didn't miss it.
A little over a year ago, I launched my coaching practice. Feeling like it was necessary for running a business in these times, I returned to Facebook. Many good things have come of it. I've connected with some of my clients through Facebook. I've used it as a platform to share my writing. I've been able to see what's going on with old friends (and genuinely celebrate their successes) and have also made some new online friends that have really enriched my life.
The dark side of comparison didn't show up right away, but the creep has started again. It's not logical. I know that no one s really iving life as summed up by their posts. We all show a curated view of ourselves to the world. I’d love to be the curated me of my posts! And still, sometimes I can even compare myself with people who are posting about their own pain caused by comparing themselves to others. Seriously. That just happened last week.
It's time, again, for me to stop looking over the fence
at what seems greener
and to water my own damn grass.
For me, that means getting back to the basics of what supports my life. Taking the time to menu plan and prepare food that nourishes me and my family. Meditation. Exercise. Writing. Housekeeping. Offering maximum value to my current clients. Saving most of my likes for the amazing humans that are in my very own home.
I'm not wanting to go into deep hibernation, there are a bunch of positives that I don't want to lose. However, I have to be honest about my capacity for comparison and compassionately make a plan for healthy Facebook use (most likely one that includes an app to limit my access).
Over the next month I’ll be exploring more about how comparison affects our lives and how we can thrive in our own domain. But for now, I'd love to hear from you! How does social media fit into your life? What do you love about it? What are your challenges? How can you engage with social media in a way that feels healthy and supportive?
Do you think I’m a good dancer?
My daughter asked me this question as we were talking about signing her up for an after-school dance program.
There is no good answer to the am I good at... question. Often when parents tell their kids that they are good at something - it will have the exact opposite effect (because telling someone they are good at something does not create an internal sense of competency). Of course, you’re also not going to say - no, you are a terrible dancer and squash their opportunity to learn.
But, we adults, also ask ourselves the am I good at question all the time. In fact, the older we get the more we limit ourselves to doing only what we think we are good at.
I’d like to ban the question entirely and propose these instead:
Do you love it? Or is it really important to you?
Do you love it enough to put in the time you will need to improve? Even when it’s not so fun?
Are you willing to make mistakes?
Are you willing to be vulnerable and possibly look foolish?
I’ve been sharing my writing publically for a little over a year now and it’s one of the most vulnerable things that I've ever done. Wanting to be good at it, I recently took out a bunch of writing books from the library: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and On Writing Well by William Zissner. (A favorite, that I already own, is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield).
The main point of every one of these books is this: To become a better writer you have to write. Every day. Whether you like it or not. Sitting in front of the computer or paper feeling totally stuck for hours counts as writing. Because stuckness is part of the process. Crappy writing also counts as writing (phew).
This is not rocket science and holds true for any endeavor.
How do you become a meditator? You Meditate.
A runner? You run. A dancer? You dance.
So, if it’s that easy, why isn’t it that easy?
I think it’s because we paradoxically think too much of ourselves and not enough at the same time.
We think we should be somewhere further down the path than we already are (too much of ourselves) -and since we’re not where we think we should be we spend precious time feeling bad about it or just stop trying (not enough of ourselves).
I think this quote, often attributed to Bill Gates, sums it up:
Most people underestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year.
I often feel like I should be able to sit down and write a blog post in one sitting. This is definitely not my reality. This post took a few hours of being stuck and a few more to write and edit. I'm also sure that once I send it out I'll find spelling mistakes and sentences that don't quite make sense.
And still, I’m a writer because I’m writing. I may never be good at it and I’m definitely not sure if I love it, but it somehow feels important to get my ideas on how to live a good life on paper. Writing reminds me of what's important - and I’ve heard from a few other people that it helps them too. For me, that’s worth it.
And as the Japanese proverb goes:
We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.
*The above picture is of one of my dearest friends, Ziesl, dancing in my kitchen on Purim.
In my last blog post I talked about how making a tiny goal can help you to fly under the radar of resistance (if you haven’t read it yet you can look here). I made the tiny goal to work on my blog for 30 minutes a day with almost no expectations that it will turn out well.
Here’s the thing: I wrote that blog post while my children were in camp (my husband and I were working at the same camp but we had a lot of free time to read, write etc). Once we all returned home, everything got thrown off. I didn’t write a thing for over a week. With each day that went by, it got a little harder get back with the program.
This is how life goes. It’s hard to get momentum because, well, life. Someone gets sick, there’s a holiday, you’re traveling - and it messes with your routine. As the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change.
So knowing this, how do we ride the waves of this erratic ocean called life?
Here’s one life surfing move you might try - I’ll call it a comeback.
If you’ve ever been in a meditation class I’m sure you’ve heard instructions that go something like this: Stay with the breath as it comes in and out through your nose. When you find your mind wandering, simply come back to the breath. WHEN you find your mind wandering. Not IF. WHEN. That’s how the mind works. It wanders.
Our lives are like one big mindfulness practice. It wanders. Just come back. Easy, right?
Not so much. The comeback is simple move but humans are hella complicated. The main thing that gets in the way of us coming back is our negative self talk. Our mind clutter. Our stories. We tell ourselves if we were only more X, Y or Z we wouldn’t have to come back - we would just always be able to stay with. Don’t believe it.
The real challenge in meditation and in living a mindful life is NOT the capacity to stay with the breath, or your writing or whatever your goal is with no wandering - it’s to come back as quickly as you can without beating yourself up.
This week I tried a new practice that has been very helpful to me. When I find myself going down the path of negative self talk, as soon as I notice, I sweetly say to myself (like a mother with wide open arms to her child) it’s ok honey, just come back. Just come back.
If you find that the comeback is not enough, and you still have a goal, that you more often than not, can’t reach, then you might need to make some tweaks. Is the goal realistic (is it tiny enough)? What might need to change internally or externally to make reach your goal? What kind of support do you need?
In order for me to reach my goal of writing for 30 minutes a day it meant shifting my schedule.
When the kids are in school my normal routine is to wake up, walk the dog, make the beds, unload the dishwasher, deal with any breakfast mess and start a load of laundry. I like starting the morning with a clean house - it’s calming to me. And it helps me to write.
But that routine was not working with my kids home because, well, kids.
Luckily I have teenagers that never leave their beds before 10am (at the earliest) So I realized that I have to write before they wake up. I can do all of those cleaning things while they are awake but in order to write I need to have no interruptions.
This week has been a comeback week for me. I went to a Yoga class for the first time since I had my appendix out a year and a half ago. I went swimming three times. I’m writing. Not every day - which is still my goal - but most days.
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
What do you want to come back to? What story are you telling yourself that’s making it harder to come back? What tweaks can you make to get more support for your goals?
I have a constant flow of blog ideas every day. In my head, they’re all amazing. Want to know how many I’ve written in the past year? Eight.
In one word, here’s why: Resistance.
In his highly entertaining and spot-on book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield introduces the concept of Resistance with this
The Following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:
1. The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or an creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2. The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3. Any diet or health regimen.
4. Any program of spiritual advancement.
5. Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
He goes on, but you get the point.
Here’s how Resistance plays out in my relationship to writing:
First, I’ll do just about anything else I can besides sit down and write. Laundry? That sounds like fun! I’ll do that instead. Seriously.
Then, once I do get over that first mammoth hurdle, and actually do sit down to write, I often feel paralysed. I can barely tolerate getting through those first excruciating moments when I feel that gaping hole between my fantasy version of myself and the reality of how hard it is for me to write. Nothing comes out nearly as eloquently on paper as it is in my head. My words feel clunky. The message unclear.
Some of us can spend a lot of time in our heads fantasizing about our exceptional selves but our commitment to practicing often falls short of our fantasized self image. Grandiosity and Resistance go hand and hand.
In the coaching world, there’s a recommendation that often shows up: Make an ambitious goal. The basic reasoning is that the excitement and pull of that ambitious goal will help you overcome the resistance. “Shoot for the moon,” the saying goes. “Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
But I’ve found that often the opposite is true. Sometimes you have to make a small goal. Really small. So tiny that it totally flies under the radar of Resistance.
Here’s an example: Maybe you think of yourself as a yogini but never make it to yoga class? Decide instead to subscribe to a YouTube yoga class but don’t do that either? How about bending over to touch your toes a few times a day? Can you do that? It’s laughable right? We think we’re too good for toe-touching. Touch. Your. Damn. Toes.
Making a habit of touching your toes every single day is going to do a heck of a lot more for your flexibility than your big dreams of getting to the yoga class every day.
You may be the type of person who already does get to the yoga class every day (jealous!) but I bet there’s another place in your life where the force of Resistance is strong. A place where a tiny goal might be needed.
So, I’m going to try an experiment. My tiny goal is to write for 30 minutes a day (which is often the extent of my attention span) with almost no expectations that it will turn out well. If I do that, my hypothesis is, I will have enough material to send out a blog post twice a month. That’s it. Just a little something that I’m thinking about that may turn out to be helpful to you as well.
I’m also going to touch my toes.
Are you willing to do this experiment with me?
What’s one small goal that you can make? Please, don’t make it a big deal. Make it as tiny as you can possibly make it. And then do it. Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it the day after that.
I’d love to hear how it goes!
** I wrote this while all of my kids were at camp. Since they've returned home I've had to adjust my goals to match my new circumstances. You too can check in with your goals and see how realistic they are and then adjust accordingly.
“When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
A few weeks ago I burned 30 years of journals and letters.
I've been thinking about doing this for years but the final push was, strangely enough, a bad haircut.
The day before my youngest daughter's Bat Mitzvah, we went to get her hair cut. You know how it goes: you tell the hair dresser the style you want many times (hair kept as long as possible with an ombre dye). Said hair dresser assures you that she undersands and shows you over and over again how long your hair will be. An hour later you leave shell-shocked with a totally different haircut (in my daughter’s case four inches shorter than expected).
The next morning, my daughter's sadness about her hair set in, and her should've, could've mind loop began . . . I should've just had her dye my tips and not do an ombre, I could've just had it straightened, We shouldn't have paid her . . . A good chunk of her morning was spent imagining that she could somehow magically go into the past and make a better decision with a better outcome.
As an adult I I recognized the dead-end nature of this type of magical thinking. Not because I'm above it, but because I've spent much more time than I'd like to admit thinking about the past and imagining how things would be different if I had made different choices —but as I grow older I'm able to catch myself a little quicker each time.
So, I wondered, what can this bad haircut teach us about becoming an adult? How can I take this hard situation and turn it into a teaching and blessing for my daughter on the auspicious day of her Bat Mitzvah?
As I sat with those questions, these words came to me: walk away and don't look back.
There's a well-known biblical story about a character named Lot and his wife. We are told that a pair of immoral cities (Sodom and Gomorrah) are set to be destroyed because of their utter wickedness. A man named Lot, his two daughters, and his wife will be spared. They are able to quickly gather themselves and flee their home with two angels by their side. The angels make it clear that Lot’s family must hurry and that they are being spared a certain death.
And as they brought them out, one (angel) said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away. (Genesis 19:17).
Lot's wife was unable to resist looking back and she was turned into a pillar of salt.
I know this to be true in my life as well. The more I'm thinking about the past, the more stuck I become.
I'm not saying that we can't be reflective or make amends — just that the bulk of our energy has to be oriented toward the present with future goals as our guiding light.
After my daughter had completed reading from the Torah at her Bat Mitzvah service I blessed her with all of my maternal love and wisdom to have vision that looks forward, instead of back.
As my daughter is moving into the beginning of her adulthood, I am also moving into a new phase of my life. I just turned 45 and have successfully raised all of my children to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah age. It feels big to me. The intensity of early child rearing has settled, and I have some ambitious projects that I'm excited to work on. I know that in order to succeed I have to bring all of my energy to this present moment. I'm ready to be a warrior in my own life.
For me that meant burning 30 years of journals and letters.
30 years of secrets, heartbreaks, yearnings, kvetches, prayers, dreams and grocery lists.
I had two friends with me to witness. I opened each journal and letter, read a piece aloud, and offered it onto the flames.
As I watched the papers burn, I said prayers that I learned from my teacher, Sara Yehudit Schneider:
After reading about a positive moment: Thank you for all the sweet experiences of my life but help me to stay in the present
And after the negative ones: Hashem (G-d) help me find a way of healing this memory, perhaps by just letting it go. In the mean time, help me to stay in the present
May it be so.
Being a child of the 70s, I’ve always loved Free to Be You and Me!*
This feminist manifesto, in the form of children’s entertainment, was created by actress and writer, Marlo Thomas, for her niece, in order to refute the gender stereotypes expressed in children's media of the period.
It teaches us things like it’s all right to cry, boys can have dolls and girls can choose if, when and who they marry (even if their father is a king) etc.
I love every quirky bell-bottomed and afro-ed bit of it except one poem called The Sun and The Moon.
It goes like this:
The sun is filled with shining light
It blazes far and wide
The moon reflects the sunshine back
But has no light inside.
I think I'd rather be the Sun
That shines so bold and bright
Than be the Moon, that only glows
With someone else's light.
My understanding of the poem’s message to girls is this: don’t just take on the role of supporting the men in your life - whether that be at home or at work - you have a light of your own - let is shine! Great message, right? Well, kind of.
While I’m in full support of women’s equal rights and equal pay (and can't believe we're still fighting for it today!) I think that the glorification of sun culture over moon culture comes with real costs.
Let me explain. In Jewish thought the Sun is associated with masculine energy and the moon with feminine (I believe that is true for many other spiritual teachings as well).
The sun is a constant shining force, while the moon moves through cycles.
We live in a culture that does not value the more feminine cycle. We are bombarded with messages every day that tell us we have to be “on” all the time. There’s one ad campaign by Ray Ban glasses that epitomizes this glorification of sun culture. The ad always features a person doing something incredibly bold, wearing sunglasses of course, with a caption that says NEVER HIDE. Being an introvert that sounds like a nightmare to me.
The truth is, whether you identify as an introvert or extrovert, a man or woman or somewhere else on the continuum, all human beings go through cycles. As we get to know and honor those cycles, we also grow in our capacity to have compassion for and connection to ourselves, others and to the Divine.
In my coaching sessions I use the Hakomi Sensitivity Cycle to help my clients understand their cycles and find out where they get stuck along the way.
The cycle, when working smoothly, goes like this:
Person becomes aware (gets clarity) concerning his/her/their own essential situation and needs.
Is able to take appropriate action based on this clarity.
Experiences satisfaction as a result of successful action.
Able to rest and regenerate in order to become aware and clear about what is needed next (return to step 1) (half moon waning)
However, often because of core limiting beliefs, we can get tripped up along the way. Some people struggle with clarity (Insight Barrier), for others it may be easy to become clear but hard to take action (Response Barrier), or they might find taking actions easy but they never feel satisfied (Nourishment Barrier), and for most of us (in our go, go, go culture) have a very hard time resting (Completion Barrier).
In my coaching sessions I use the sensitivity cycle as a diagnostic tool to help clients discover where they may be experiencing a barrier (getting stuck) along the way and work compassionately together to help create new possibilities for change and growth.
Ready to try applying the sensitivity cycle to your own life?
Here’s an exercise that you can try this week: Pick one simple problem in your life (like, I’m hungry!) then get clear (I want to eat a burrito, with black beans and green salsa), take action (make it or go to your favorite burrito hub), take the time to feel satisfied (yum!) and then take a moment - could even be one minute to rest before you get clear about what you want to do next.
As always, I’d love to hear from you! Is this a helpful way to explore your own cycles? Did you try the exercise? Where are you most likely to run into a barrier?
*If you are not familiar with Free to Be You and Me check out this gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUpLiJfV4_A