NO MORE! The Religiously Motivated Decisions of Patriarchy & the Infantilization of Girls & Women

In my seventies now, I remember the joy of celebrating the Roe v Wade decision that US girls and women had the legal right to choose what happened to their bodies.  It was no small thing then, to Canadian girls and women, because we all share the traumatizing fact of our past as chattel, that is, the possessions of white men and boys in charge.  Corporations had already determined to treat girls and women as bubble heads who wanted nothing more than to look good and be more popular than others.  It was very much a case of the water temperature being turned up over time – suddenly, we found ourselves boiling in the murky idea that our body image and looks, our hair and our rumps, were more important than our minds and our spirits, our hearts and our self-determination. That 1973 court decision lessened the impact of profit motivated businesses selling insecurity and self-hatred to girls and women. At least the courts found us intelligent, responsible, and wise enough to decide a fundamental life choice for ourselves.

Now,  even corporations are reacting to the court’s decision to reverse R v W; that’s how bad this current court’s decision is.  The white supremist view that the ever-creative power of the Universe is white, male, and murderous toward those who haven’t swallowed this vile white supremacy lie has revealed itself in the highest court in the land.  And we’re not having it.

Continue reading NO MORE! The Religiously Motivated Decisions of Patriarchy & the Infantilization of Girls & Women

Inspiration for when Father’s Day Triggers Fear, Rage, and Grief

Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know is the third memoir I’ve read in the last couple of years that has prompted meditations on my own father losses.  Foo’s father was present during some of her childhood, but neglectful of her need for protection from her violent and unpredictable mother during her earliest years.  When she was a young teen, her father left her alone in the family home to complete high school and navigate the college application gauntlet, with money – evidence of the reductionist belief that fathers are providers of cash but little else – but without any parental support.  Because her mother had abandoned her earlier, throughout her pivotal teen years Foo was without emotional comfort, intellectual guidance, and consistent, loving parenting.

In the weeks before immersing myself in Foo’s important discoveries about her Complex-PTSD diagnosis, I read Viola Davis’s Finding Me, her narrative describing the triumph of a creative spirit and the importance of sibling support in the face of vicious racism, crushing poverty, and a father’s mood swings from attentive and loving to life threatening. Like Foo, Davis discovers how inner resourcefulness leads traumatized children and teens to seek something that brings joy, even while struggling with the challenges created by the worst of these family and cultural experiences.  Davis’s seeking leads her to acting, the place where she expresses all the emotions she couldn’t express as a terrified child and teen. Early on, Foo’s inner resources lead her into research, writing, and, ultimately, journalism, a career that supports her compassionate understanding of her own traumatizing experiences and others’ traumas as well.

A couple of months before reading these insightful memoirs, I revisited Tara Westover’s Educated.  Westover, an interviewee during Vermont’s Howard Center 2022 spring mental-health conference, reminded participants of her survivalist father’s beliefs and attitudes as a fear-saturated individual at war because of his perception of governmental intention to curtail his freedoms. Two years before her participation in the conference, I discovered Westover’s descriptions of how one form of education, the formal kind the privileged tend to take for granted, helped to create the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual safe spaces she needed to escape her earliest informal education as a terror-indoctrinated child.

All three women demonstrate the value of “telling” when answering the call to heal early trauma, their words providing a first-layer somatic release for the storied energies of trauma trapped in their bodies. Their telling also increases reader awareness of the necessity of total somatic involvement in our healing. These storytellers don’t simply tell.  Each in her way describes the physically arduous work of befriending and integrating the toxic contrails of the myriad abuses she experienced, abuses that continue to demand compassionate, healing attention.

Foo’s personal relationships and journalism work require physical as well as emotional and intellectual processing in which she remains present to her need to understand her reactivity – the physical phenomena which are the many voices of unhealed trauma. Her courageous “showing up” guides her into new situations where her reflective bent allows her first to name her normalized violent experiences as traumatic.  Once named, she can then seek help to understand and experience peace in the midst of her trauma generated, ongoing maelstrom.

Davis, similarly, experiences peace despite her childhood trauma’s aftershocks.  In her teens, she discovers her path to equilibrium comes through the physical, emotional, intellectual, and soulful demands of character creation and expression.  Driven by the terrors generated by family crises and racist experiences in the greater world,  she doggedly pursues the whole-body exhilaration that comes with developing the skill, empathy, and courage required to bring a character to life before a live audience or a camera. Through her public expression of the transformed traumatic energies trapped in her flesh, she releases the trauma load she carries. Through this release process, she provides cathartic experiences for all who witness her work.  Learning and teaching is Foo’s process; Davis’s process is dramatizing what she learns.

Westover, too, must constantly create and recreate her personal pathways to peace.  After making a physical escape from her high-risk childhood environment, she learns to question the validity of the beliefs that exposed her to life-threatening situations.  With her entire being – body, mind, heart, and spirit – she discovers more benign histories, more benign world views, more benign filters through which to view life’s order and chaos. In comparatively non-threatening learning environments to those in which she was first immersed, she can perceive the world in new ways.  These fresh, expansive perspectives free the energy she needs to experience and name her early traumas as they express through constant hypervigilance and spirit-killing isolation. Slowly, she begins the work of reinvention, finding more hospitable and supportive environments in which to become increasingly aware of the wounded child who will, consciously or unconsciously, inform the work of lessening her traumas’ impacts on daily life.

All three of these creative, courageous women teach readers about father-lack and father-love, about father misguidedness, and, at least in possibility, about father transformation.  Their fathers are not intentionally abusive although the damage they do to their daughters – to their attachment bonds, to their ability to trust, and to their sense of self and worth – is undeniable.  Victims of the same toxic masculinity fueling mass shootings, domestic murders, fear-driven racist policies, and power-hungry global aggressions, these fathers demonstrate the truism that ‘hurt people hurt people.’

And yet, acknowledging this dynamic cannot change the status quo. Only the actions fostered by self efficacy – the deeply held belief in our individual value, resourcefulness, and problem solving capabilities – can support our transition from patriarchy to partnership, from isolation to community. Only our full participation in the world as it is creates this change.

For 2000 years, boys and men have been blinded by the power imbalances that are the inevitable consequences of systemic sexism.  Simply being born into a male body representing each culture’s dominant class has ensured that many males are idealized as messiahs, gurus, moguls, priests, and government officials, with the right to exclusive sources of power.  Throughout patriarchal cultures, the majority of girls and women have been subtly and openly coerced to surrender their power, creativity, resourcefulness, desires, and individual rights to  fathers, brothers, husbands, and institutional authorities as fallible as the best and the worst members of our species. Here in the US, we see evidence of this power-over energy in current political moves to criminalize women’s rights to choose the best path forward for them when pregnant.

Without doubt, we are living through the transition from the dominating patriarchal energies of the past millennia to the formation of partnering cultures that require we work with one another, no matter our gender identities, to prevent yet more trauma – in our homes, on our streets, in our legislative bodies – and to end the war we’ve waged against our Earth Home. Naming our individual and collective experiences is vitally important, but this naming is only a first step toward the transformation we are creating together.  There is no denying that we are, individually and collectively, living through a bloody transition in which innocents are sacrificed to moldering patriarchal beliefs.  The memoirs of these courageous women illustrate just how bloody.

As we grieve the fathers who abused and abandoned us, as we rage at their cruelty and our culture’s complicity in this cruelty, as we fear the toxic masculine energy animating the traumatized boy-men who wield power legitimately and illegitimately, let us summon our own resourcefulness as Davis, Westover, and Foo continue to summon theirs.  We too have voices.  We too have the ability to make change by recognizing our own need for healing and acting upon this need.  We, the offspring of violent and absent fathers, have the power to face our fears, express our rage in safe and productive ways, and grieve our losses in circles of safety and support of our choosing. The willingness to acknowledge our traumas and commit to our healing – not once, but over and over and over again –  is the magic elixir supporting individual and cultural transformation.

Once we tell ourselves our stories, honestly, unflinchingly, we can share them with others, as Westover, Davis, and Foo have shared theirs.  As these women have discovered, when we tell, with the intention of healing, of seeking support, we summon the courage to move out of isolation and victimization, the toxic residue of patriarchal beliefs that suggest we deserve our suffering, that it is somehow due to our personal flaws and not evidence of the toxic familial and cultural views that sanction the exploitation of human beings the world over. Freed from this poisoned yoke, we move into relationship-supporting communities offering mutual support, inspiration, and innovative ways to address our individual traumas and our shared transitional challenges.

Coming out of isolation and into community, we heal our father wounds.

Coming out of isolation and into community, we experience our wholeness.

Coming out of isolation, we live, not from fear, rage, and grief, but from love.

Until next time


Building Bridges Through Loss: Three/Aging, Vulnerability, and Activism

My lovely mouser, Prince Meadowlark, who has been with me for sixteen years, recently reminded me of aging’s toll on the four-leggeds of the world.  I’m used to thinking about the human experience of aging, ageism, and vulnerability, but his current challenges with sight and mobility remind me that animals too experience the erosion of strength and sensory acuity that leads to feelings of helplessness. Animals, however, require our expanded sensitivity to their well being and suffering.  Beyond a plaintive meow, this wonderful companion cannot describe his fears, his heartaches, his frustrations over the circumstances robbing him of agency, and so, as his designated person, it is on me to interpret his needs, to meet these as best I can, and to comfort him when his experiences prove frustrating.

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Waiting . . . and EFT

In our highly monetized consumer culture, many have become accustomed to instant gratification.  ‘Trusting the process,’ a highly valuable attitude when involved in creative projects and problem solving, has been lost when dealing with everyday frustrations.  We’re encouraged to be the ‘right-now’ culture, whether we’re young, middle-aged or old.  In this world of constant promotions and immediate-gratification demands, we have misplaced something essential to our humanness:  our delight in free time. Continue reading Waiting . . . and EFT

Partnership Culture – Part Two

Please Note:  Winter Blooms is an educational website in no way meant to replace building a relationship with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist.  To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the ACEP website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane for EFT coaching support.

in my last post I wrote about creating a partnership culture, beginning with the most important partnership, the one with the Self.  Cultivating this primary relationship creates authenticity, a quality that makes living meaningful and, through meaning, helps us to develop the resilience we need to meet and integrate life’s inevitable tragedies.  Unfortunately, not only do we lack training for creating a partnership with the self, we are taught to devalue this relationship and instead place our faith in superficial popular-culture values to create a happy life.  Many learn, through the pain of addiction and depression, that the popular culture values driven by materialism cannot help us to craft meaningful, authentic lives; in fact, they can hurt us.  What can help us to create the lives we want is to listen to the guidance we receive from our emotions, guidance that helps us to understand and embrace our needs, our strengths, and our values.  Last week I wrote about using tapping to discover our needs and strengths.  This week, I want to explore how tapping can help us to discover our values.

Continue reading Partnership Culture – Part Two

Creating a Partnership Culture

Please Note:  Winter Blooms is an educational website in no way meant to replace building a relationship with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist.  To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the ACEP website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane for EFT coaching support.

When Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and The Blade was first published almost thirty years ago, the feminist revolution had already taken hold of many of Earth’s Sixties Children and imbued us with optimism concerning our ability to create a socially just world.  Cynics called our vision ridiculous as they made passionate arguments about innate human violence and stupidity.  But those of us schooled in Eisler’s Chalice vision felt called to forge a new way of being in the world, something she called The Partnership Way.  Partnerships, she illustrated vividly, were the antidote to the Dominator model we call patriarchy (learn more about Eisler’s Partnership Way studies at  Power With rather than Power Over became our focus, and no matter our backgrounds and talents, we took this model to our homes, to our workplaces, and to our streets.  Since first reading Chalice, I have countless times experienced the transforming powers of a Partnership focus; in my home, in my classrooms, in my workshops, and in my coaching sessions, I have found partnering with others brings the deepest satisfaction and the most exciting results.  Tapping has increased my insights into the value of a Partnership focus, since this tool supports my first and foremost partnership, the one I have with myself.

Continue reading Creating a Partnership Culture