Boys Will Be Boys? No – Dead Stop

My daughter and I drive to school together on my way to work. It is our connecting time – no screens and lots of time to pass.

We were discussing a boy in her class who was always difficult. At the end of her story, she concluded “Well, boys will be boys.”

My reaction of a gut-felt NO was so fast that she turned to look at me instead of the road. “No,” I repeated, “that is one of the most dangerous beliefs you could have.”

I explained to her how that sentence excuses behaviour that shouldn’t be ok. I told her this story about a boy snapping a bra strap and how it was ignored by a teacher because boys will be boys. Worse, the teacher told her to accept the behaviour too.

Here is a summary of how the girl’s mother reframed “boys will be boys”:

She defended herself against a sexual attack from another pupil. Look at them; he’s nearly 6 feet and 160 pounds. She’s 5 feet and 84 pounds. He’s a foot taller than her and twice as heavy. How many times should she have let him touch her? If the person who was supposed to help and protect her in a classroom couldn’t be bothered, what should she have done? He pulled her bra so hard it came undone.”

My daughter understood quickly. We discussed how some of those behaviours continue in men if no one shows them other values. We discussed the great uncles and cousins she had as role models of people who took responsibility for themselves and how they treat others.

I was transported back to a time when I was in school and a boy wrestled me to the ground, put his hand on my jeans over my vagina and told me not to move. A crowd of boys circled us to see how this would go. I was on the ground feeling shame, and very angry. My anger won and I was able to kick him in his groin and get up.

Did I tell an adult? No. By then I had learned that boys will be boys and to blame myself for it happening.

So, I call on all of you as parents, role models, and people: let’s not perpetuate a culture of permission by allowing boys to be boys. If a boy teases a girl, don’t tell her it’s because he likes her. Language reflects belief. Let’s be impeccable in what we believe, say, and do.

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Cabernet Merlot, Peanut Butter and The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Some shifts are so hard to describe that they only work with metaphors. On New Years Eve 2017, I stood silent amid the noise of the hundreds of people at the party we attended. I felt strong and at peace. I could feel the shift beginning from the rapids of 2017 to the calm stream of 2018.

I have an image of myself as some sort of traveller, although it’s less about travelling through locations and more about tides of energy and communities. Some times I settle in a village for a few years but I always know I will be moving down the road again soon. I have been told it’s an Aquarius thing.

I am readying for the next village. Some people will carry on down the road with me a ways, but eventually, like Robert Frost, I will choose the road less taken and we will part.

Tonight, I read my grocery list: cabernet merlot, peanut butter. Two essentials, when you get down to it. The cab merlot is part of my adulting, and the peanut butter is part of my momming. They were not in balance last year, as my child required extra care. So it is perfect that tonight they are balanced on my grocery list.

Tomorrow I begin a 108 day immersion program ending in a highly desired meditation retreat. It is the symbolic packing up as I head to my next village. I cannot wait.

The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

When Life Lives In Me

For 3 months, my daughter has been seriously ill. There have been hospital visits, tests, nights I held my daughter and could not relieve her pain. Yet life lived in her.

During the pain, only her computer gave her a distraction from the pain. When she received a long awaited game, she played like a child. When I gave her a new computer, she wept in joy. Life Lives In Her.

Now it lives in me. I had a simple weekend. I had dinner and gift exchange with a friend Friday night and another on Saturday. I did the simplest of things – cooking, packing, a movie. At every moment, my heart was so full I thought I might explode into light.

When I sit at my altar, the light quietly explodes through. Because at all times, life lives in me.

When You Finally Got Your Big Girl Pants

“You are so unique,” he said, admiringly. “I am blessed to know you.”

That conversation happened 3 hours before I ended our relationship.

He was perfect on paper. A professional. Same spiritual background. So handsome. Independent. Great family values.

But it wasn’t right. Underlying the patient admonitions to let things unfold was a sense of urgency for us to look like a long term couple. There was no emotional sharing of life experience – just time passing, looking for any indication of connection. The longer I stayed looking for something to stay for, the more it sent a message of commitment I didn’t feel. And one day, he pushed to move to a level we really weren’t at and it felt dishonest.

So I left. As I explained why, I didn’t use the fall backs – it’s the wrong time; it’s not you, it’s me…

I told him honestly that I don’t need a relationship for the sake of having one. I am at a place where my partner needs to add joy to my life because my life is pretty awesome as it is. I told him that we didn’t have emotion, just familiarity. I explained how wonderful a person he was, and that because he was so wonderful I hoped things would deepen. What could he do to change my mind he asked. I knew that I did not want him to change. That would not be love.

And so, not for the first time, I knew that any relationship that emerges for me will happen because I love our relationship. It won’t be because we look right on paper.

And I am so grateful for this clarity. He was resume perfect for me. But relationship is not a paper match.

One day, you wake up and just let go of all the things you have been told about what love and romance look like. You put on your big girl pants, and just know that the roles and illusions we are conditioned into just won’t do anymore.

And for seeing that so clearly, I am deeply grateful. Joyful. So free.

When You Get What You Want – Run!

For years I posted visions of the type of relationship I wanted. I pined. I longed.

Over time I also came to believe I don’t want a relationship. I have never been happier in my life than I am right now.

Well, you can’t send an intention out there without the boomerang coming home. I have been in relationship with a most wonderful man. He is deeply spiritual, wise, professional and very grown up. He is attentive, values me, respects me. Absolutely gorgeous.

And I am pretty sure he is not right for me.

I don’t know what will happen next. But I know this is true for me:

“There’s only one thing that’s better than getting what you want: it’s to know that you can be happy whether you get it or not.” —Adyashanti

Shaming, Women, and Internalized Violence

Years ago, I stood on the corner, waiting for my friend. I was early, and I wanted to people watch. As I stood there, an obviously homeless man walked up to me. “Can I ask you a question?”, he said. I prepared to be asked for money. I nodded.

“Why is it ok to be ugly, but it’s not ok to talk about how ugly someone is?”, he queried. In a stunned voice I answered that I had no idea and moved away from him.

Immediately, I internalized the interaction as body shaming. Did he mean that I was ugly? Why did he target me to ask? Did he mean ugly, or did he mean fat? Was my skin ok or had I broken out? What was wrong with me that he honed in on? And really, all these questions were:

How could I protect myself so it never happened again?

It’s a form of violence. It is not ok. And that’s the answer to this gentlemen.

When we judge or shame ourselves or others, it is a form of violence.

So, now my job as a parent is to help my daughter understand that society will attempt to control us by building ways to shame us, make us feel not good enough and unlovable. We have talked about how puberty has made her feel vulnerable in her body. I have told her she needs to know her value and that it is completely apart from anyone or anything outside of herself.

Violence from external sources is unpredictable. Violence within yourself is within your control. You are a perfect manifestation of the Divine.

All Paths Lead to the Mountain Top

A few weeks ago I sat with Nissim Amon, who is one of 40 Zen Masters in the world today. There were many moments of opening at the event. For me, my mind needs to relax to allow me to trust and surrender. The master did that by telling us about “the paths to the top of the mountain”.

In his studies of world spiritual paths, he believes there are six categogries of paths. These are not religions or practices, but characteristics of what is encountered on the paths.

1. The path of the Fakir

A fakir renounces all worldly things and forms of comfort. The purpose is to come to a place of acceptance of what is. It is easy to accept pleasure so learning acceptance through deprivation is a fast track. This was originally the path of the Buddha but did not satisfy him and he gave it up after 5 or 6 years.

2. The path of Bhakti

Bhakti is the path of love, devotion, faith and worship. In the past, this was often the love of the guru. The guru would teach and be your object of love. It teaches you to open your heart.

3. The path of Knowledge

This path is characterized by pursuing deeply hidden esoteric knowledge. It may look like the hidden meaning of numbers, working with chakras, and other hidden knowledge. Often this path has a hierarchy and initiations. There can be a commitment to be a secret keeper.

4. The path of Danger

This path is characterized by practices through which you sacrifice or risk everything. Examples can be hallucinogens, practices that challenge taboos (e.g. sex, death, total ego annihilation) and shamanic drugs. It is often the shortest path but needs a guide. Practitioners without a guide lose what they gain or don’t have a way to integrate it without strong guides.

5. The path of the Zen koan

Koans are questions or anecdotes offered to the student to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment. One learns that the answers are within us. The practitioner values the experience of the truth within the question not the explanation.

6. The way of the Tao

The tao focuses on the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way that is in harmony with the natural order. One sees how nature is a flow and reflects acceptance, even of death.

There is something to be learned from all the paths. It is not necessary to pursue all the paths.

What is so helpful to me is that I have been on a few paths, and rejected them after a time. In that rejection , I have deemed the path as lacking. In Tantra, we take about letting go of a lesson or a path once it has lost its rasa or juiciness. It isn’t bad – it’s just over.

It realized that while I accept other cultures and religions, I have a type of judgement for people on paths I have moved away from or rejected. Seeing these paths in this way helped me to release that.