15th May- A Mood

OK – so I’m disgruntled! Actually, it’s one of my most creative moods and one which, if I am grumpy enough, forces me to action. In this case nothing more drastic than writing- something, in fact, I long to make more time for – so praise be!

Years of built up disgruntledness seem to be coming to the fore today. I’ve been putting up with so much for what seems like so very long – for what I conceive of as passable payoffs. Sometimes these payoffs feel like ‘marvellous opportunities’. But then I’m reminded of a previous life when I felt the same,  but I was forced to give up – willy-nilly – anyway. And, in the end, thank God, or maybe thank Gaia.

I can’ t be sure – maybe I am indeed on the brink of coming into my own ….or maybe ‘my own’ is already here, quietly unrecognised. Quietly unvalued. I place too much faith in others, in ideas.

‘It’s not the despair, the despair I can handle – it’s the hope!’ (Clockwise)

So let it go.

I think my greatest trials are sometimes related to the undervalued feminine. I am more grateful to Joyce Fletcher than I can say, and also to Shaman Dawn Russell. What, really, is the feminine way of operating? Both these people know something about it and both know how to identify and value it. With many of my heroes as male,  that is food for thought. What is feminine power? What are feminine ways of working? How can we know when we are so deep in our one sided paradigm? Is it discipline? Competition? Success? Winning? Or is it something far more collaborative, woven from many strands, nameless, faceless – supportive of the collective.

What is the alternative to the warrior for a woman? The grower? The nurturer? The weaver?

And feminine rage – what is that ?

All New Edges

29th January 2017

Some things are going on hold 10 days or so. My half started blog ideas such as ‘Why Food really is Love”, for the fatties like me failing on my New Year’s diet, and my  long intended “Cosmology and Astrology” blog exploring the actions of Chiron’s cycles– these slip back. I cite these as a shopping list of ideas to come back to. The most alluring for me is an exploration of what the proper feminine alternative to Mindell and Castaneda’s don Juan’s ‘warrior’ archetype might be. The warrior is alert, stalking, patient, disciplined. I think the feminine is far more cyclical, gentle and natural to me – and yet just as effective in its own way. Life is burningly, achingly, interesting. All the things I have seen as my failings are suddenly about something else – and a thing I wish to explore – my femininity.  And, given our society’s need to balance in favour of the feminine, this feels a legitimate and valid  – even a needed – exploration. Wow – promise silently exhales, hardly daring to breathe.

But for now I am crossing edges in new ways that are both challenging and needed: I am learning about stuff that matters to other people (and you can be sure there is valuable, and maybe even surprising, learning there). Yesterday I learnt about Lightsabre fighting, Sith v Jedi. This took me to an edge I noticed. It’s not my thing at all, yet, in the end I had fun! We walked back to our friends’ house to Wassail apple trees under the evening star – resplendent Venus at the brightest  I have ever seen  her,  her red brother Mars a compact warrior up to her right. Today I am writing with music so as to not be on my own (I never do this) and on Wednesday I am flying across the Atlantic with my newly qualified Day Skipper husband to support him as crew in a 40 foot sailing yacht in the British Virgin Islands, relying on my ICC training aged 13 and 14, my husband’s knowledge and many ‘how-to’ books. It could be a bumpy ride for the next few days without solid ground much under my feet and I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience might be like.

So I am signing off here as I cross into new territory –utterly blank –  as a creature of the earth off to explore sea and air.

Gender Bias? (this is an untagged blog that doesn’t quite fit on Catching Edges…but never mind!)

I heard an article on Radio 4 as I drove back into work on 3rd January after the Christmas break – that unconscious gender bias was still alive and well in the work place with the usual baffling statistics wheeled out of the very few women at the top of the business game. It seems that although there are some super women out there, most of us simply don’t ‘fit’ the business mold, or don’t get it, or are rubbish at being noticed or climbing to the top. Could it be simply that women work in different ways – ways that are not currently noticed or valued much – by either sex? Joyce Fletcher undertook a brilliant study in 1990, whose potentially far reaching effects have in no way been exhausted yet, into what she found to be a more typically feminine style of working. She called the book ‘Disappearing Acts’ (1990, MIT Press) because this style of working was so easily disappeared by business and even by the practitioners of this style of working, which she called ‘relational’ practice (see my previous blog for Anthesis). The characteristics of this style of working tend  to be collaborative  and task focussed. These people  also ‘naturally’ empower and enable others as much as possible.  They are worth a lot to business!

I am not saying that all women are ‘relational workers’, that all men are not, or even that all business disappears this style of working.

What interests me is what we value and why.

Right now, income and status are our consensus measures of success – we all know and accept that the economy is the primary driver of  our international decisions and has a world stage importance that eclipses just about anything else – making for a self-perpetuating cycle. There is a connection between this one sidedness and the unconscious gender bias being discussed on that Radio 4 show. The stuff we don’t value is disappeared by definition – we don’t even see it – why would we? This includes alternative ways of working and alternative measures of wealth. Take a look at Marilyn Waring’s thoughts in Who’s Counting, directed by Terre Nash for the National Film Board of Canada, for a powerful deconstruction of the how the economy – and especially GDP – works. She points out all the incredible work and activity that is ‘of little or no economic value’ to a country, including volunteering, home making and raising children. We might add to that non-human life that does not serve as a resource for humans. This trajectory leads to the sort of situation we find ourselves in now.

My sense is that anything less than an entirely radical shake up – an inversion of all we currently value – is not going to be enough. I hope I am wrong. But sometimes a shock is needed. I know this will be a deeply controversial thing to say – but as long as we chase eg closing the gender gap as our ultimate goal, we are accepting a one sided valuing.

I’m far from being the first to call for a new system of measuring that takes us beyond money – we have the NEF, various business reporting methods such as integrated reporting or triple bottom line reporting,  Natural Capital Accounting, Bhutan’s happiness index (my personal fave) and local currencies such as the Bristol pound keeping money local and close to the natural resources we trade using it. So things are changing. Only their impact has not reached  most people.

One short term action we can all take, and I have started by taking myself, is to de-couple income and status from our measures of success in our personal and work lives.  This shakes things up interestingly,  liberating   us from the tyranny of one-sidedness in the way we measure ourselves and others. It allows for an entirely fresh and refreshing perspective and it can be undertaken entirely privately! It doesn’t mean we should not chase that payrise or promotion – we have not come that far yet! It  just means remembering when we get it, that it does not make us any more or less valuable or important.

And maybe this action is enough. Small, collective, task focussed action – rather than grand heriocs –  brings me back in mind to where I started!

Artwork at edges and writing a play

Funny observation – my artwork on the door – as in my display place for art at work (which I am keeping up with varying degrees of success) is of course posted on an edge – the edge between this room and another – the door!

I feel like I am having a dialogue, but who with? To explain, I recently I put out my idea to explore edges on this site,  and then, exploring something quite different (or so I thought): art in the workplace, I find I am exploring edges both literally – making use of the door – and figuratively as I challenge myself and others with my mixed bag of ideas.

Who is my dialogue with? Myself? The Universe? Is that one being or two? Scroll down to see my latest image (didn’t like yesterday’s but left it up all day!). It is thematic to my question, but which came first?

If I am interested in edges – and if dialogue occurs at the edge, then dialogue is a good place to start. We went to see an Arthouse style play on Wednesday as part of a tiny audience. I noticed how the play crossed the edge between performers and audience and brought us up against our own edges – some people found it challenging and we were close up.

Maybe next steps are to write a play. Just half an hour. Dialogue – exploring awkward situations, awkward exchanges – those edges where we meet the other and are surprised or shocked.

One final thought – seems my creativity takes place in between too. Wrote my piece on Sustainability before work and in breaks – similar to this. It happens in between!