Tag Archives: Act 3

Meeting the moment 2021 #48

For all the women I know who are told they are “too much”, ‘too loud”, “too smart” too anything, I had a big insight this week for us all. Our excess in whatever it is that others find offensive, is not excess, it is abundance.  

I have memories of a number of occasions being told I was too much of one thing or another.  I had a son who in his youth said I wasn’t dressed well enough, too untidy, to pick him up from kindy, not like the other middle class mothers dolled up for the pick-up. I had a husband who would tell me I was dressed too seductively if I wore a low cut dress, and I was too intense, too smart for my own good and other such comments that were in the privacy behind closed doors. I had a work colleague as a young social worker who told me I was too insistent on justice and needed to loosen up a bit, a boss who said I was too committed to the work … I could do on.  Well now I want to turn all that around. Maybe I was casual and relaxed going to kindy, at ease with my sexuality, just and kind, passionate and confident to find solutions, maybe I lived from abundance and not scarcity?

It has taken me to be in my sixth decade to make a start to get this monkey off my back. I was accused, and there is no other word for it than that, by my husband for getting through in a day three times as much as anyone else and it was tiring him out just watching. I calmly suggested he look away, smoothed the pillow and stopped talking to him about at least two thirds of what I was doing out of his sight. It seemed like an act of compassion.  Friends defined me as a polymath instead of having too much energy, and foes demanded I not go on too fast ahead of them instead of respecting me as a worthy opponent.  I fell under a naming and shaming spell. No prince to kiss and wake me up, no fairy godmother to wave a wand, no lamp to be rubbed, no exotic creature must have its head removed, not all down to me to break this spell and cast myself into a future world where abundance of energy, insight, imagination, justice, and love are adornments to my Self.

I want a world where we can all go beyond our potential, bursting at the seams owning our power. There are all kinds of power – spiritual power, intellectual power, sexual power, creative power, cultural power. There is power you bestow on others and power you give away. There is power you do not even know you have sometimes, like the power of the collective when you get into the ballot box or stand in a rock concert crowd. There is the power you hold inside of you where your voice is totally your own and no one can even hear it except you. This kind of power is often frothing in the throat, trying to get out and getting choked on by anxiety, fear, gaslighting or cowardice.  What threshold of power would you cross if you actually opened your mouth, opened your arms or even your eyes a little wider?  Would you get to the next level? What transformation is beckoning that untamed part of you out into the wild?  These are the questions that have been exercising me this week since I met and celebrated with Amal Alhuwayshil (thank you SheEO for having our orbits cross).

I have an abundant world view, as my default, so how come I was not applying that to myself? I have not always been rewarded or had mutuality alongside of that generosity. Over the years, I have learnt to give and receive and do not see these elements as necessarily mutual or transactional – they can be completely separate acts – more like karma than a ledger. This is an explainer of meeting the moment with Amal this week, and her invitation to go deep into what my Act 3 might look like through an abundancy lens. And what I saw was cornucopia of respect, opportunities to be bolder, wiser, more visible, to mind myself more, to step onto a throne in an orange shirt on a stage with loving fans yelling for more. Modesty transformed into generous and abundance gestures of benevolence, and humility transformed into pride in my achievements. Instead of cheering everyone else on, making enough space to cheer on myself too.  So watch out world, there are more moments to meet and like sap rising in spring, after being damaged in a winter storm, I feel my energy returning.

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.”
― Rumi

Photo by Elise Wilcox on Unsplash

Year of Self Compassion #28 #querencia

As I head towards my 60th birthday in a few months, I am embracing what Jane Fonda calls “Act 3”. Right now, I am in the wings, backstage, changing out of one costume, re-applying makeup, checking out the props to see if they are all ready. I am freshening up.

My Dad was a psychologist and I was introduced to Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) at an early age. The biggest takeaway that was regularly reinforced in the home was that the freedom to choose how you will respond to a situation, was the only freedom no one could ever take away from you. Choosing how to appear in Act 3 requires time for reflection on what is still useful from Acts 1 and 2, what can I put down, what do I need to pick up and of course re-wiring …. making sense of what has been and making choices about the meanings of choices made past and how they will serve me into Act 3. This is not the work of nostalgia, it is the work of querencia.

Querencia is that place where we feel ‘at home’. The place where we draw our strength and inspiration. In bullfighting it is the place where the bull goes to that part of the ring, where he takes a big breath and gathers his energy, deliberately and with focus, before he goes in for another charge. Hemingway described querencia as the place where the bull “is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill” (Death in the Afternoon). In my early childhood one of my favourite books was The Story of Ferdinand, the bull who preferred to smell flowers that fight the provocative matador, such a great metaphor for nonviolence (did you know Hitler banned this book and Gandhi loved it?). The bull ring is perhaps the location for the opening scene for Act 3 and their are many choices in the centre and circumference, including smelling flowers and making a charge. I have an inkling bullshit fighting will feature. Regardless of what is on offer, at this time, I am gathering myself up to prepare and being at home with myself.

I am finding parts of myself that have been dormant or hidden for a long time and hardly made an appearance in Act 2. There is Chekov’s principle operating too:

“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” From Gurlyand’s Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521

There are shots in the locker yet to be fired and Act 3 is beckoning. Working out what was there in the beginning and has potential to re-appear or be revealed is intoxicating. Music and drama certainly feature as unfinished business. So far, I have taken my electronic keyboard (which I bought in the middle of Act 2 and has hardly been used) to be repaired. I have enrolled in Seth Godin’s altMBA program will preoccupy me in October to unleash new ideas and bring discipline, diversity and collegiality from around the world. I am reverting to my family name and doing all the paperwork to accompany that decision. I have signed up to sing in the Jenolan Caves in 2019. I have downsized my dwelling space and my wardrobe. I am beginning to get back to the gym a few times a week. And to my astonishment, I am getting recognition and reward for my movement building in the gender investment gap. All of this is just to remind myself that the re-wiring is happening and Act 3 is beckoning and brimming with potential.

The agony of grief and tsunami of challenges, the final scene of Act 2 has offered, are Shakespearean and invisible to many given the choices I have made about what is visible and what is invisible. I am gaining energy from knowing the practice of reflection brings wisdom, integration and wholeness. The practice is also a way of leaving things on the cutting room floor and picking out a new costume or remodelling an old one, sewing a patch on to bring new life to something that was past it’s use by date that can be freshened up with a bit of colour.

I am in the wings, at home, gathering energy for Act 3. Querencia

giovanni-calia-384735-unsplash

Photo by Giovanni Calia on Unsplash