Thursday, September 30, 2010

Messages of Hope

Messages of Hope Poem #160:

Tempers flare, passions rise
In the heat of anger.
Healing wounds should be your goal
Whenever there is rancor.

There is no need for enmity,
No sense in feeling hate.
So patch up all your differences
Before it is too late.

For love’s a very precious thing,
The most treasured gift you’ve got.
And when you waste your time with hate
You wither on the spot.

Your time on earth is very short,
Oft measured just in hours.
So spend it exercising love--
The strongest of your powers.

Hate and fear will weigh you down,
But love it has no weight.
You’ll feel the lightness of the air
When you do banish hate.

So pack your bags.
The trip you’re on has many twists and turns.
But joyous is the journey
For he who this lesson learns:

Love’s the only thing that’s real.
It lies there at your core.
Your job’s to bring it to the light
And shine forever more.

By Suzanne Giesemann

(this means loving yourself too y'all!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Force is With You

I love it when my geekitude and spiritual study collide.

Last Sunday our message from Roger Teel was about empowered consciousness. I just about squeed out loud when he began to quote and draw comparisons from Empire Strikes Back. Luke can't wrap his mind around the possibility of using the force to move an entire craft from the bog. He has limited thinking which keeps him from achieving the power of that connection to the spiritual force.
[Using the Force, Yoda effortlessly frees the X-Wing from the bog]
Luke: I don't, I don't believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

If you are open minded, you can see that The Force, Connection to Spirit, God's Power, The Source - whatever you want to CALL it; the BELIEF in those similar concepts are what gives it power. What you call something doesn't give it power. As Louise Hay says, "you don't get wet from saying the word 'water'."

I've seen a lot of reference to belief in various ways in our culture... (reminded of Firefly/Serenity quotes such as: Shepherd Book: "Why when I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?" and "I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it.") All the affirmations in the world aren't going to do you any good if you don't believe what you're saying. The emotional connection to our beliefs is very powerful.

I found this article in which spiritual teachers like Wayne Dyer and Carlos Castenada refer to "the force."
Carlos Castenada said there's an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans called "intent" and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is connected to it. You can call it spirit or soul or consciousness or universal mind or source. It is the invisible force that intends everything into the universe. It's everywhere. This source is always creating, it is kind, it is loving, it is peaceful. It is non-judgmental, and it excludes no one.

[. . . .] Whenever we are in harmony with that source from which we all emanated, which everything came from, we have the powers of the source (Interview of Dyer by Lisa Schneider, "The Force of the Universe is With You").

For those Christians thinking this is all a little too new-agey; this is similar to saying that God lives in our hearts and if we believe and connect to that power and let that be the guiding force in our lives, that enlightened consciousness can take us to unlimited possibilities (Philippians 4:13 (King James Version) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.")

Buddhists and other spiritualities use meditation as a way to let the mind quiet and feel that connection to the source/force/God (again whatever you want to CALL it). The enlightenment, peace and joy that comes from that quiet yet powerful connection is fantastic. Feeling good = feeling God.

So really, the force is with all of us. The question is, do we believe and will we quiet the ego's negative thoughts to shift to that empowered consciousness?

What are the Jedi but spiritual warriors? I'm not saying we'll all be able to move objects telekinetically... but imagine that positive power on your side and all you may achieve. We might actually accomplish the things we are passionate about instead of listening to our negative thoughts.

Also, I don't believe the Dark Side really has cookies. When did you see Darth Vader eat? ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

where have all the heroines gone?

I have always been drawn to any TV show or movie starring and revolving around Super Heroines. In my youth obviously I was captivated by the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter. Many hours were spent spinning & fueling the imagination with our adventures together. My grandparents had audio records of the Wonder Woman comic that completely captivated me. I became entranced with the idea of a woman super hero who didn't have to rely on men; she could rescue herself as well as others.

I enjoyed The Bionic Woman as a child but not in the same way I looked up to a traditional Super Heroine (keeping with the league of many male characters). The 2007 Bionic Woman remake was enjoyable at first (especially because of kick-ass characters like Katee Sackhoff joining in). But repetitive story lines and uninteresting characters couldn't keep my attention (or apparently anyone else's).

I've done a lot of searching in TV & movies and probably watched most of what's out there to offer in terms of female super heroes (every version of Cat Woman, Wonder Woman, vampire fighter, etc). Though there are some in my queue to see still such as Birds of Prey & Witchblade, the options left to me are fairly cheesy and overly-sexualized, almost parodies of female heroes.

Doing a basic web search for 'super hero' versus 'super heroines' or 'women super heroes' finds drastically different results. Most all of what you see image and content-wise for the female search is practically all sexualized. Web results yield the top SEXIEST heroines and places to buy the lingerie-styled costumes.

Many search results after the sexy sites was this article discussing the anti-hero of the stories, the "non-extraordinary" half of the duo in superhero movies. So it basically details the perils (and hidden strengths) of the damsel in distress. NOT what I was looking for - I want the women who save the day (in the fun, fantasy sense, not the literal grassroots people of the U.S. That's another blog post).

I think the largest contributing factor is that historically comics were written predominantly by men, who were playing out their sexual fantasies through female super hero characters. I'm not bashing that, it's probably in large part thanks to that expression that female superheroes continued to endure.

Compelled to search on, I refined my search words and came across a complete list of Super Heroines. Though I don't consider that a really accurate list considering they list The Queen of Swords, which is from a tarot deck, not the heroine universe. The concept is generalized a bit much but at least it's a jumping off point to make some more discoveries.

I'm disappointed in you Hollywood movies. Where is Wonder Woman? Joss Whedon would have ROCKED that movie but you passed on it. Probably because it was variant on what the masses conceptualize. Perhaps she had too sharp a wit? (Obviously I still haven't gotten over that particular loss).

Women AND girls need super-heroines; not only in obscure comics but mainstream movies and TV. The strongest representation we've had in a while was Hit Girl, who completely dominated the whole "Kick-Ass" movie with ruthless, R-rated force. Yet she doesn't share billing with the star "Kick-Ass" even though he really needed Hit Girl to teach him the ropes.

The emerging feminine nerd collective is gaining strength. (just see who I follow on twitter :) There IS an audience for true super-heroines, despite what market research appears to show.

Essentially what we are teaching our little girls now (with the exception of Hit Girl) is that our abilities center around wielding the power of our sexuality and sexual prowess.

I think every female should create their own Super Heroine, just for kicks and a fun exercise. I've joked that Hips of Fury is my alter ego and in a sense she is. She's the best parts of myself combined into a form containing special abilities and powers. Plus she's a fascinating character and fun to write!

However, I hope the female geek collective (and awesome male geek collective too) are able to gang up enough on Hollywood to get a proper super-heroine movie made. My vote is @JaneEspenson to write an authentic heroine perspective - don't ya think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Equality, kinda Now

For the first time in my career I'm experiencing sexism. Considering this career period of time spans over a decade, that's pretty darn lucky and for that I'm grateful.

It's a very challenging position to be in, as I do not enjoy conflict and would have difficulty saying anything. I'm not going to divulge the details of the situation here as I don't feel it's professional (though extremely tempting to vent).

It's been months now of showing that I work hard, show up early and stay late if necessary and can do what is asked of me. Yet the situation remains the same. I have so much professional knowledge I'd like to contribute yet there is never opportunity. So I begin to feel like less of a professional and occasionally question my expertise in the field for which I was hired. That's fear doing the thinking; fear of judgement, failure, etc. But I digress.

This situation caused me to do a little feminism research because I realize my position could be SO MUCH worse. The women who first fought discrimination had such a harder trail to blaze.

Yet these stereotypes persist. People would rather talk to a man in IT than a woman in IT, at least in my current environment. Prior work experience at a university was a wonderful example of equality in gender treatment. The IT women I met there inspired me and taught me so much.

We are now in the third wave of feminism, in response to the backlash and failings of the 60s/70s feminist movement. There isn't one all-encompassing idea for this but rather an attempt to cohesively examine all the changes, complications and diversity.

Many women (sometimes myself included) don't want to refer to themselves as feminists because of the negative stereotype that term conjures up for many men. But all that really means is equality of genders; equal treatment between men and women. I don't want special privileges, I simply want to be as respected as my colleagues.

The reason for this post is to vent slightly and an attempt to get it out of my system and move on. Each moment has the potential to be better than the last and feeling offended and hurt is just going to perpetuate the problem.

Rather than feeling hostile and bitter, I choose to examine my approach and what I might do to command the respect tactfully. It helps to remember past employment to a time when I felt very valued; and critically examine my skills, how I might improve and where I have strengths. Sometimes it even takes an affirmation internally (corny as it may seem): "I am a knowledgeable, savvy, versatile woman with a myriad of skills to offer."

It also helps to remember the people who do stand up for equality and to support organizations such as Equality Now. This is Joss Whedon's charity of choice (those who read this blog should understand my Whedon obsession :) and his considerable fan-base participate yearly raising money for this charity.
In his famous Equality Now tribute he responds to the question he gets asked the most:
"So, why do you write these strong women characters?
Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and women who’s confronted with it. We need equality, kinda now."

I'm working to examine my stereotypes and encouraging you to do the same. Not just about women but about EVERY group we label with certain terms or attitudes. Equality begins with the belief that we all have the same basic wants and needs in life and are deserving of having those needs met. We can't change others but we can change ourselves and work to understand the root of these conflicts.

"We often think the only way to create happiness is to try to control the outer circumstances of our lives, to try to fix what seems wrong or to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the real problem lies in our reaction to those circumstances. What we have to change is the mind and the way it experiences reality." ~Chagdud Rinpoche