The Crone and I

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“All futures are tinted by the way in which you choose to view them.” Cat Hellisen ‘Mother, Crone, Maiden’

 

What image pops into your head when you hear the word ‘crone’? What characteristics do you associate with this female archetype? Does she remind you of the 3 witches in ‘Macbeth’, ‘fire burn and cauldron bubble’? If so, is she repugnant to you?

I first encountered the Crone in ‘Women who run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola EstesThis book is a study of the instinctual nature of women – a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing – and tells the story of 3 archetypes representing the stages of life – the Maiden, the Matron and the Crone. Of these archetypes, the Crone jumped out at me, calling me like a kindred spirit. I was 22.

The Crone is present in the myths of different cultures such as Baba Yaga in Slavic, Annis in Celtic, Elli in Nordic, and Kali Ma in Indian mythologies. For me, the Crone has never been the ugly old witch, in modern-day parlance. Neither is she beauty, especially ‘beauty’ as espoused in contemporary society.

The Crone represents a woman of wisdom, the old and wise one; she is an ageless Wisdom Goddess.

Wise woman

This image has stayed with me for a very long time.  Yes, I have been gently teased or unkindly mocked.  Comments like “you are born 40 after all”, “you are an old soul”, “you are all too serious”, “be careful you may become boring”. Well, perhaps I am one, some or all of these, honestly I do not mind.

Through the years, I have learnt the Crone is light-hearted but never flippant, she is gentle not weak, she is healing not malevolence, she is ageless not old, she is wise not (necessarily) intellectual – what an inspiration!  So I continue to embody these qualities… and the journey so far has been a blast! 🙂

Like the Pilgrim in Annie Dillard’s novel ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…

Women’s life, like the moon, wax and wane.  Let us embrace, revere and honour her – the Crone in our lives – for she must come to pass.

~ FlorenceT

A “nothing” massage?

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It hit me laying there still thinking (as the idea for this post popped into my head 🙂 ) about whether I should tell her to go hard. This session was meant to help and serve a purpose. And therefore she should ‘dig in’ to get rid of the knots that have formed.

Odd, but that’s how I and many of us approach our day to day life. To confront, to overcome, to get rid of, to manage… and the corollary, if we are not there yet, we had best work on getting to this ‘ability’ to confront, to overcome…

Really?

I have had strong massages, and they do serve a purpose – after a painful session and a couple of recovery days, I was finally able to feel my body and notice the knots had “miraculously” dissipated. The freedom is glorious.

There were also gentle massages for me, sometimes with the aromas of choice and, always focused on the healing touch of hands gliding. In that moment, to acknowledge the work we do often and to enjoy time for self, of not-doing…

And these are the times for deep breaths and non-thinking, of allowing things to unfold and appreciating them as they happen.

Even as the idea for this post popped into my head, I knew the session was for this. The decision was an easy one, to relegate my thinking mind elsewhere. Honestly, I didn’t care where it went at the time. Feeling myself drift in and out of consciousness, to be refreshed…

This is enough. There is freedom in this too.

 

Enough

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused again and again
Until now.
Until now.

by David Whyte

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

I exist…

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One must not only exist, one must be alive; live life to the fullest…

And so they say.

The narrative of striving and being more is around us, yet interpreted at times as an accumulation of status, power and material wealth.

Am I existing if I have the love of friends and family? Am I existing if I don’t have a dream? Am I existing if I am purposeful in my doing? Am I existing if I find meaning in my day-to-day life? Am I alive if I exist in the eyes of another? Am I alive if I find succor in nature? Am I alive in my aloneness?

What does existing really mean? What is at the intersect of existing and contentment?

 

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is
myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or
ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can
wait.

~ Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

A real occasion

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Authenticity – when your beliefs, your words and your actions are aligned. Be real, that’s the common understanding. Simple, isn’t it?

I do my best to be honest with my children, including about Santa or the Easter Bunny. I am not a “truth” activist, out seeking to destroy fantasies but when they were old enough to ask me the Question, I told them my perspective. The same goes for Mother’s Day. In one view, it is a social construct that we have a day dedicated to mothers. This is not a judgment on whether it should be celebrated or not, or of its ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. To be fair, at the time when it first began (in the US in 1914), perhaps it was needed to raise awareness of this important and valuable role women play. Just as special Days are now being “proclaimed”.

So what happens when these same now-teenage children tell me they don’t see the sense in Mother’s Day, that it is an advertising hoax?

I could take offense and judge their reasons or worse, them, for saying so; or feel unappreciated or unloved; or be compelled to “forgive” them because “they are just being typical teenagers” and we would love them no matter what (even though we didn’t like them much that day); or I could be thrilled that they are perceptive and aware of the potential “fakery” of the world we live in, but with a lingering sense of loss for the occasion.

With our expectations, the emotional reactions when confronted with this will be varied, and so are the words and actions we use to make sense of it all.

And my response? A little hurt, initially. I bet not many positive thoughts were running through your minds reading this. Here is the thing – this ‘poor me’ feeling didn’t sit well. Something nagged at me and it dawned on me; this feeling was a “you should feel” feeling as a reaction to an expected narrative of what ought to happen. But should I?

What was real for me is this. This isn’t about what they do, but about me (after all, it is “Mother’s Day”). I who choose to be a mother, I who choose to love and guide them in the way I do. I who choose to see the reality of a young man who made time to spend his day with me, despite his many commitments and protestations of the commercialism of the day. No grand gestures of flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed etc. I see a young woman contributing to the day in her usual sweet way, baking. I see these young persons who have been mindful and caring for my feelings, and not just on the day. And for these, I am loved and filled with gratitude.

Okay, the sense of occasion was still calling (I succumbed a little to the big hoo-haa after being bombarded by the media telling us the day had to be significant and “big”). The occasion I desired was to have a time of meaningful connection. Stepping into my authenticity and as any independent woman would, I asked for what I wanted. This was the result. I spent time with my family.

Ultimately, the motivation behind an occasion such as this matters. The real-ness is not about what prompted an occasion or how it is celebrated, it is in the ‘why’ of it. Why did you celebrate Mother’s Day, or any occasion? What feelings go with or into the occasion?

In a similar vein, why do we do any of the things we do each day? Does the doing match the values we hold and the words we expound?

Is what you do an authentic expression of who you are?

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Rejection is a blessing…

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Rejection…in whatever form, in whichever sphere, is never pleasant. For some, it reinforces the sense of unworthiness and the gap of disconnection widens. For what is rejection, except to say “you are not one of us”, thus conflicting with our human need to belong. Or is it?

A felt sense, rejection is a perceived condition. What would happen if we choose not to engage with it? That is to say, we choose not to believe we are unworthy to be liked, loved, respected etc. We choose to trust when someone says ‘no’ to us, it is because they can’t. How about if we respect the other well enough to honor their views or decisions. What if we choose not to mind the lost opportunity or potential, we never had it anyway so why are we so attached to it?

Sometimes it is true that someone does not see us as worthy of their time; and we get snubbed. Heck, so what? It may indeed be a blessing to be denied entry to that orbit. Things happen. We choose how we interpret it and what it means. Just as a chance reunion with an old friend means something, being refused has its meanings… of parting, of opportunity…; and it remains a path in our journey of life. Be patient. Let life unfold. Don’t force it.

Our ‘job’ in this one life is to keep doing what we are doing with love, grounded in our meaningful purpose, mindful that everyone has their own way of being, accepting it sufficiently to let go of our preconceived notions of “what should be or else…”.

Therein lay peace in being and gratitude for what comes.

 

Namaste!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Note to self

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I believe more in synchronicity than mere coincidence, and who am I to decide one or the other? Perhaps it is both, or neither, or everything in between.

I choose to believe there is meaning and purpose in my life, and to find meaning in its many moments, “meaningful coincidence” (as Carl Jung described synchronicity) resonates. Perhaps it is what Buddhists refer to as noticing and attending to…

Yet the universe speaks…

 

 

Namaste!
~ FlorenceT

Renewal and inspired, by whom?

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I crept into the back of the Hall as the speaker began. I had made sure I would be a little late so everyone was seated and facing the stage at the front. I didn’t want her to see me, not quite sure what that reception was to be – pleasure, anger, embarrassment…

This was not my usual type of occasion, as if I had a type. A little ill at ease possibly from the nature of the proceedings and the fact she was unaware of my presence (and wanted to keep it so), I scanned the audience hoping to catch a glimpse of her. No such luck. It was not easy to spot her amidst the hundreds in attendance.

After a couple of minutes, I noticed myself settling into my seat; a certain calmness overtook me. There was hardly any talking, instead music flowed through the hall. There was a sense of solemnity and also relief of what was to come. The restlessness I expected was absent. For what seemed a long time, I allowed myself to be transported to times of old, when this gathering was familiar and comforting. To be drawn to the sounds and sights, to nostalgia. What had happened in the intervening years? Do I no longer trust or believe? Was it easier not to? Dare I again?

Then I saw her rise and walked to the stage. Instinctively I slunk lower into my seat. The last thing I wanted was to distract her should she see me then, especially when she would not have time to digest the fact of my presence. Looking composed contrary to what I knew she must be feeling, she began. A silence filled the room as every person seemed to focus on her, mesmerised by the timbre in her voice and the magical way she appeared to have commanded our attention. I saw people craning their neck to catch a glimpse of the owner of the soulful voice.

She was the closing vocal performance at the Easter Chapel Service. At a tender age, she had stepped up and held her ground. Fearless and unabashed.

And I was brought back to times when I had been in her shoes, and am inspired.

Life is ever changing, always full of interesting challenges. I see them and, like her, I will be fearless and unabashed in claiming my ground.

 

what is belief
when the world does not
must we see
must we touch
is there proof
do we feel
the spirit moving
the senses alight
of love, peace and grace
is that proof
of man’s science
or of faith
in the divine.

 

For those who celebrate Easter, I wish you a time of rebirth and renewal. Happy Easter!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

There is magic

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Looking out
into the grey mountain skies
remembering where I’ve been
wondering where the road will lead;
There is magic
in the shimmering rain that falls
in the light peering through
the future remains.

~ FlorenceT

 

I am not my mistakes,
But God knows, I’ve made a few. 
I started to question the angels,
And the answer they gave was you. 

I cannot promise there won’t be sadness,
I wish I could take it from you. 
But you’ll find the courage to face the madness,
And sing it because it’s true. 

I love my life
I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am free
I love my life, 
I am wonderful, I am magical, I am me,
I love my life.

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Intellectual, maybe not

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I grew up in a family of “intellectuals” and in a society which prized the intellect and intellectual pursuits.

By “intellectuals” I do not mean a class of people by their profession, I guess academics come to mind, but rather of their behaviour – the constant asking ‘why’, the emphasis on logic or rational discourse, and as the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, “given to study, reflection, and speculation”. There are various motivations for doing intellectual – “I am not good enough and need to make myself better”, “I want to be admired”, “I have a love of learning”, “That is all I am good for”,… and so it goes.

My mother is still embarrassed about her ‘neglect’ of her then preschool-aged daughter for refusing to answer to the incessant “whys” as she went about her homemaking chores. And my father till today is never far from the whys and hows of things.

I had no cause to question this way of being, even though I questioned almost everything else, ever curious. For a long time, I could not see how everyone else wasn’t like me, or why anyone would not want to study or reflect on stuff, or to see the benefit of learning all the time.

Nature or nurture, I was lucky to be able to embrace this “thinky” way of being. Yes, there is a ‘but’ in here. There was a time when I wanted to be a ballerina (and I apparently have the “strong thighs” for it 😁, then) and a classical singer (I was told while I might have the voice for it, singing opera is a tough gig and I should stick to my intellectual pursuits, sigh). Oh, there were less than successful stints with sprints (yep, those strong thighs again!) and competitive swimming, alas not for me.

All of us have an intellect, and if we practice, we could be adept at this particular of looking at or approaching the world. But as the saying goes, “all things in moderation” and the same goes for being intellectual. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. It is a matter of being flexible and adaptive. A full-time intellectual is tiring and I can imagine, not conducive to social interactions and relationships. Might work for an introvert like me, but even I need something or someone beyond myself!

Sometimes, things just are. Like faith. Sometimes, we need to trust – the person before us, the situation we are in, what has come before will be again – without the perpetual study. Sometimes, we have to let it be. Sometimes we have to hop on and go on the ride. Sometimes emotions take precedent. Sometimes, we just need to give our mind a good rest. And that is what I’ve been doing…in moderation ☺.

I was thinking (yep, that word again!) of how trite my past few posts were, lacking in substance, then it hit me, judgment with a capital ‘J’! They were fun for me, that was what’s needed, period.

A certain someone said he reads my posts because they always get somewhere, make a point… hmmm, guess he’ll be disappointed now 😊 .

This may just be rambling on a rainy Saturday morning.

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

It is not what it seems… maybe

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I wrote an email, somewhat scathing in tone, a few days ago. Entirely justified at the time, I thought. I felt I was being unduly taken advantage of, that the prospective recipient of the email was intentionally obstructive and perhaps malicious, at best unthinking and uncaring. Well, I had to defend myself, don’t I? I am entitled, don’t I? And anyone who knew the circumstances would see this and I would be justified in my action.

But no one saw this email. I did not send it.

My tapping away at the keyboard was cathartic, but catharsis could only go so far in making the situation “right”.

Thankfully, one of my habits is to never send an email drafted during an emotional flux.

Taking a large step back from the finished (but then unsent) email, these were what I realised:

  • Obviously, I was emotional. Of its own, perfectly acceptable and normal. But what happened when the emotions took over …
  • I turned inward and my mind took over. My thoughts revealed me at a low ebb – “I was being unduly taken advantage of”? Really? Have I in that one thought buy into a belief that I was a victim? That I had no say in this? Have I in that one thought about to give way my power?
  • Then, the construction of the “baddie” who was “intentionally obstructive”, “malicious”, “unthinking and uncaring”? This is judgment with a capital ‘J’. I’ll grant that my thoughts, being the rational person that I am, could be correct. Or they might not. But in the moments when I was drafting that email, my mind was closed to any other possibility. It was closed such that I (unconsciously) chose not to see an alternate perspective.
  • And really, what did it matter, if she was or was not? I was there to solve a “problem” not to make judgments about another’s motivations. Why would my actions be guided by anything other than respect for another human being, integrity and compassion?
  • Moving forward in a positive manner requires me to maintain a constructive relationship, moving forward requires me to let go of any and all of the history that could bind me, moving forward requires me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not cringe or feel compelled to be defensive.
  • And that little voice in my head (?) or my heart said, “you are better than this.”

We have been there, this “feeling small” and “feeling helpless” place.

We have imagined the architects of our misery, rubbing their hands in glee with a malicious grin and gloating.

Well, in those moments we have also handed over responsibility for our self to another and blaming them for not looking after or caring or loving us.

So, this story ended with a phone call, expressing my concerns and being open to a response. The response – the words at least – was as I had expected but there was something else. The response was not “intentionally obstructive”, not “malicious”, not “uncaring”, perhaps a little “unthinking”. Okay, I can live with this, for now. And I (or my ego) would like to say that I had modeled an attitude and a behaviour which hopefully encourage reciprocity. Only time will tell.

What matters most to me is that, it felt right, it felt good, as the email if sent would not.

The lessons, which I keep close to me?

  • Be open to different perspectives and possibilities. There is a world beyond our experiences.
  • Proceed with the empowered self. Our words and actions will reflect this.
  • Let go. We can’t control the future.

 

Namaste.

~ FlorenceT

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.