There was a time when I used to buy flowers and hang them upside down for them to dry. I had a notion that I could have a small business making dried floral arrangements. This illusion did not last long.
These days I buy beautiful flowers and rush home to put them in water to keep them fresh. I take pains to prepare the water. I use a few drops of chlorine or a crushed baby aspirin in the water and I lovingly arrange the stems. I change out the water and try to make the flowers last as long as I can.
I realize that taking loving care of the flowers with preparing the water is a lot like raising children. We try to give them an environment where they will thrive and bloom and grow up to be strong and kind. We pay close attention to how we behave around them, except for when we don’t.
If we live in an environment where there is violence, be it emotional or verbal or physical, and we pretend that it does not affect our kids, we are deluding ourselves. This year on valentine day if you get flowers or buy them yourself, ask yourself if you care if they live or die.
If you don’t care then just throw them away.
If you do care, notice how much attention you give to them.
Our kids are our precious blossoms and they need nurturing and pretending that violence is not affecting them is lying to ourselves. Take a step back and access the situation and ask for help if you need it. It’s not easy to look at what’s really happening and making a few changes, but I guarantee you that it’s worth the time and effort.
Say NO to abuse. Don’t leave yourself unfinished. Inspired by business executive and author, Seth Godin. Read the post here.
If you don’t have time to clean up, you don’t have time to cook.
Professionals understand that the project is the whole project, not simply the fun or urgent or interesting part of the work.There are countless productive shortcuts along the way. But not finishing the project isn’t one of them.
I have been reading Seth’s posts for a whole year and I am amazed that his posts take the simplest things and make them mind blowing business advice.The above post made me realize this:If your lover/husband/anyone feels they have the right to hit you then you better feel you have the right to leave.
You see, when we stay inside of abuse we leave ourselves unfinished.We were sent into the world to work on ourselves and complete the work we need to do and accepting abuse is not part of a success scenario.
Getting hot or getting cold or getting burned is a never ending game with abusers.
I love a hot shower and I realize that it is a privilege to have both water and to have it hot.
This post is not about water privilege but I will use the mechanism of the water heater to illustrate some abusive behaviors. If I take a shower about 30-40 mins after a family member I can usually get a little bit of tepid water that is still in the pipes and if I forget that this is simply left over from the last person and jump in without thinking, sooner rather than later, I will be shocked with gallons of cold water coming out of the shower head. I have to have the presence of mind to allow the water to heat up again so that all the water I need or want is at the temperature that is comfortable for me.
If I am living with an abuser and he comes home in a good mood, it’s probably left over warmth from a work friend or his girlfriend and if I pretend that his “ warmth” has anything g to do with me, then I am in for a big shock. I might find myself saying things like “but you were in such a great mood” what happened?
The answer will be that the warmth left over from his friend has run thru his veins and his emotional distance has reappeared. If I push and push for the “warmth” to return, he may jump from ice cold to scalding hot in seconds. Scalding hot could look like punching, screaming, cursing or worse.
When we normalize abusive behaviors and pretend that we are strong enough to fix the chronic dysfunction, it’s like pretending that we don’t know that after the cold water runs out, the hot water will appear and we will get burned. I do not mean to suggest that dealing with these mood swings is easy, but pretending that the mood swings are not happening and continually bending over backwards and tying ourselves up in knots trying to figure out what we did wrong, it’s ignoring reality.
We need help and advice and we must be steady enough and grounded enough to look for it.
Can I tell you a secret?
Well, after I tell you, it’s no longer a secret! Here it is…I AM SICK of saying the same thing.
The ONLY thing that remains crucial to the health and welfare of the world and that is END VIOLENCE to WOMEN and GIRLS.Are you sick and tired of reading these messages from me? I would expect that you are. It’s Ok..I know you don’t mean you are sick and tired of me as a person.
If you are reading this, you probably like me. Know that I am also sick and tired of asking people to dissect their lives and find the ways where the violence is silent and insipid.
What areas? Here are just a few…Telling your daughter to lose weight because no boys will like her. Telling your self boys will be boys.Allowing your spouse to disrespect you.Allowing yourself to accept disrespect. Making excuses for religious institutions to treat women as second class citizens. Repeating lies like “ she must have been asking for it, look at how she was dressed” when you see or read about sexual and physical violence.
I could go on and on, but you are smart enough to get the idea. Take an action to end violence, please.
We teach young kids to take chances from a young age. We encourage them to take the next step and when they stumble we cheer them on. We try as best we can to allay the fears of middle schoolers who are afraid of a multitude of things, some real and some imagined. We ask our teenagers to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves. We recognize when humanity rises to challenges like defeating the Hitlers of our world and tearing down the stupid Berlin Wall and the greatly needed work that so many non- profits do in our ever-closer world.
The thing that still surprises us is when a BRAND like Nike uses controversy to do the right thing (Colin Kaepernick) and when Gillette puts out an ad calling for the males of the species to Be the best.Some people are very upset and vowing to never buy their product again. I am sure many new customers will. I plan to buy razors today to give as gifts!
Some of people are saying that their men are “fine.” Yes, many men are fine and many need to be reminded to be better. We can all be better.
If 1 in 3 women is being abused then as many men are committing the crimes. Visit UN Women for statistics if you want to challenge the above statistic.
We need more brands to use their powerful voices to move the needle on this issue. Now if only the feminine hygiene people could throw their weight behind ending violence to women. Maybe they can put ads on the packaging?
Well, until they do, the rest of us must use the platform we have.
On page 108 he talks about that cold January day when he saw the Challenger explode 73 seconds after launch. He reminds us that it was a rubber O-ring on one of the solid rocket boosters that failed. The rubber was compromised due to unusually cold weather.
Ok, so a small thing like a rubber O-ring brought down that massive piece of equipment and killed everyone instantly.
That gives us pause about the little things, right?
But wait, on page 109 he tells us that this was a MANAGEMENT FAILURE.
Engineers working on the solid rocket boosters had raised concerns multiple times about the performance of the O-rings in cold weather. In a teleconference the night before Challenger’s launch, they had desperately tried to talk NASA managers into delaying the mission until the weather got warmer. Those engineers’ recommendations were not only ignored, they were left out of reports sent to higher level managers who made the final decision about whether or not to launch. They knew nothing about the O-ring problems or the engineers’ warnings, and neither did the astronauts who were risking their lives.”
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with any of us mere mortals.
It has plenty to do with us. We rely on car makers to make safe vehicles and not lie about things like carbon emissions etc, and they fail us time and time again.
We depend on corporations to make their manufacturing plants safe so that we can not only work, but work safely, free from serious health risks, and yet we have many stories of corporations failing us.
We read about intimate partner violence and see the horror that abusers heap on women and children time and time again, and yet, we continue to believe (or pretend to believe) that it’s a private matter and not a public health epidemic. The world loses 5.2 trillion dollars every year due to violence to women.
We continue to hit and physically abuse (and pretend that it’s discipline) our children and wonder why our daughters accept violent boyfriends and why sons do not understand what violence is. (Listen to Indrani’s TedX talk:“Expressing Love With Violence is a Lie”)
If you are reading this then 2018 is at an end (or gone) and we are welcoming 2019, either eagerly or in some other way.
Please look for a moment at the photo. It is of the meditation pod at Auroville, outside of Puducherry India.
It is known as the Matrimandir.
Auroville, City of Dawn, is an intentional community. It was first envisioned by a guru called Mirra Alfassa. She was a European woman who devoted her life to spirituality.
The City of Dawn, is built on land that was “approximately 20 square kilometers of barren wasteland.”
The earth was unable to support both plant or animal life.
A small group of believers began (what must have looked like madness to the non–believers) to rehabilitate the land by planting trees. When I visited about 4 weeks ago, the area was a veritable forest. Species of plant life that had died out were flourishing. Animal life was abundant and humans from many countries were permanent residents in the village. Permanent residents are expected to work 8 hours daily in exchange for living there.
It seems to be flourishing by all accounts.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by 124 nations who sent delegates with gifts of their earth to be all placed together in one urn. It was held on Wednesday 28th, 1968.
On that day, I was living in Trinidad and was 15 years old. I was actively filling in to be the caretaker of an 11 year old brother and a 7 year old sister. I was in over my head.
I had no idea that on the other side of the earth, a small group of people were gathering to celebrate a vision of a future and that as a 65 year old in 2018, I would be lucky enough to visit.
That 15-year-old, was also unaware that she would go on to do some amazing things.
Things like finish a triathlon and marathon after she turned 50 or get a handle of clinical depression and make her pain the foundation of a nonprofit, or have a wonderful husband and children, or speak at the UN, or (and most importantly) end generational violence in her lifetime.
I was unaware of all of this and more.
As I write this message to you, I am blissfully unaware of what will happen tomorrow, next week or 10 years from now.
I am not worried about not knowing.
I have learned to trust and believe that if I follow my path to end violence to girls and women, I will be fully living my destiny. I also know that when I do not trust my gut, I get burned.
I did not always believe I had a destiny. I believe it now.
I am asking you to give yourself time to uncover your own destinies and to allow yourself to take small steps in the direction of what you know that destiny to be.
Some of the tools to help you uncover your destiny include physical exercise, yoga, meditation, gratitude journaling, setting and keeping healthy boundaries by saying No to things that do not support what you know your destiny to be.
I wish you a happy and joy-filled 2019. I wish you the clarity of mind to find joy in the midst of inevitable pain and I wish you the courage to love yourself as deeply as you love the most precious person on your life.
I stayed at a hotel recently and the key to the room was an electronic gizmo that looked like a key. It inserted into the lock like a key and turned like a key.
I wondered, “why the trouble to make this new technology look like old tech?”
Comfort to the guests. We all know what a key looks like. We are all creatures of habit and want to feel secure, so holding a key in our hand is a familiar feeling.
This key was different. It was embedded with the code to get into a particular room. Room 1167 would not be able to work on the lock for room 1624.
Makes perfect sense.
All the keys, however, were able to access the elevators that took each guest to any floor they wanted to visit. I have been in hotels where your room key only allowed you to access your floor, and if you had a friend on another floor they had to let you in.
This got me thinking about the symbolism and metaphors we have for keys:
The keys to our hearts.
The key to success.
The 5 or 10 or 100 keys to ______
The ONE key to happiness
Happiness is key to ________
Food is the key to a man’s heart
I am sure you can come up with other sayings.
When we allow people to enter into our lives, we give them a symbolic key of trust. We welcome them into our private spaces. We don’t say, “you are only allowed to use the kitchen but not the bathroom.” We ASSUME that they will respect the trust we have given.
However, when the people we trust take the key we have offered and turn it against us, we feel violated. We may say things like,
“I trusted you to not steal my money when we opened our joint account.”
“I trusted you to not have sex with my best friend when we went out last night.”
“I trusted you to not bash my face in when you are angry and blame all your failures on me.”
Each one of the above sentences represents a situation where we GAVE the key to our hearts and lives to another and they use that key to wreck our lives.
When this happens, we must find the courage to “lock” them out of our hearts. That, often feels quite impossible.
We feel like they know us too well for us to set any real boundaries. Often, they know us better than we feel we know ourselves, but that is not true.
We must find the courage to block the codes they have used to enter our private heart spaces. If we have values of love and bravery and courage, they know our strengths and may say “Well you say you have love as a value, but you can’t find a way to love me as I am. You must be a liar!”
When this happens, we may try to prove them wrong by showing them how much love we have and we may stay in unhealthy situations longer than we should.
What to do?
Turn those values of Love and Bravery and Courage back on yourself and show your own self that you have the only key to emotional freedom. Freedom to choose a healthy relationship over one that causes pain.
The other day I was preparing some small quilts to take with me to India for a program I planned to visit. The quilt squares had been decorated by children of the mothers who had been burned by fire or acid. I had met these kids years before and never got a chance to finish up the quilts. I was going to India in a few days so I was inspired to finish them. This work reflected all my hearts passions: meeting the survivors, speaking to the kids, remembering to bring them fabric swatches, saving the swatches for the right time to finish it and of course sitting at my beautiful machine and finishing the project.
All of a sudden, the machine would not work. The needle would not stay threaded.The bottom thread would not catch. I rethreaded it about 6 times and then I yelled, to no one really, “what the F is wrong with this machine?”
I began to hyper focus on the threading mechanism and tried to use a pen to poke the thread into one of the moving parts and of course it could not work. I had never threaded the machine with a damn pen before. Why was I trying to do that now? I have been sewing for 50 years. I used to make my own Catholic School uniform skirts. I KNOW how to thread a sewing machine.
Then a heard a voice in my head say “Indrani zoom out, close your eyes, and use muscle memory to do this. Nothing is wrong with you or the machine.”
I closed my eyes. I allowed my hands to float up to the machine and I held the thread a loft. I mimicked threading motions and saw that my left hand floated behind the presser foot to check if it was in the down position.
I opened my eyes.
The presser foot was NOT in the proper position.
I put the foot down and threaded the machine and finished the quilts.
Then, it dawned on me that this episode mimics what women do to themselves. We KNOW how to be in the world. We know how to be brave and courageous and yet, when we forget a simple thing (like lowering the presser foot) we begin to judge ourselves and we accept the judgment of others. I love that it was the “putting down of the foot” that brought me out of my trance of feeling inadequate and stupid for not successfully completing a task I have done 1000’s of times for 50 years. How can you use this in your life?
The next time you KNOW deep in your heart how to do something, or WHO you are at your core, put your foot down on the knowledge and do not allow any one (even your judgmental self) to convince you otherwise. If others in your life say unkind things, let if go in one ear and out the next. Put your foot down and don’t let others define you with their words. Maybe use a simple phrase like “I am not sure whom you are describing, but that’s not me.”
Believe the words. You know you!
Now, go be the full YOU. The world needs all of you.
My I phone was working well one minute and the next minute it was not working well.
Being the kind of self-blaming person that I am, I immediately assumed that I was doing something wrong. The phone was still making and receiving calls and I could still text and email and I could do an Internet search but when I clicked on a link, the phone would freeze. I recognized the “freezing,” but could not fathom what was going on. I assumed that I was at fault and all of a sudden I had forgotten how to use hyperlinks.
Why would I blame myself so quickly about something so “out of my control?”
The answer to this question is easy. I am used to being blamed for things that do not go well.
In my family of origin, it was always my fault if one of my younger siblings did something wrong. I was the oldest and it was MY responsibility to keep my siblings in line. No one had ever asked me if I wanted the job, I was simply given the responsibility without the power. In my own home I was also blamed if things did not turn out as they should have. I cooked the wrong food if the kids did not eat, or my cooking was not good enough. If a family member became upset with me and I defended myself, then I was somehow to blame for the rift in the family.
People would tell me, “That’s just how the family is.” But no one ever told me, “Well, we know how YOU are, and the thing that happened was NOT right.” Finally I got sick and tired of being blamed for things that were not my fault, and I began to set some boundaries. I have become really good at setting boundaries with others, but not so good with setting boundaries with myself.
Hence, I still succumb to self-blame.
This was the trap I fell into when my phone began to freeze at unexplained moments. I finally took the phone to the Apple Store and sheepishly asked if they knew what was happening. I never expected them to have any answers. I was wrong. The Apple helper immediately recognized the issue and said he could fix it. It would take five minutes. It was a software glitch that was causing the freezing behavior.
I was shocked. I was sad. I was sad because I had so easily accepted the blame of the phone issue. This issue that had absolutely NOTHING to do with me. I hope I remember this lesson the next time I accept blame for something that is not my fault. I encourage you to look at the blame that is freely given to you, and the blame you readily accept. You may even grab blame from others because it’s more comforting to put yourself down than build yourself up.
I hope you give yourself permission to investigate the relationship you have with blame.
Love and light,
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