My take on what it means to be a Feminist

Feminism doesn’t ask you to be a man hater

Feminism doesn’t ask you to use coercion or domination as a means of influence

Feminism doesn’t ask to be expressed in obnoxious and disrespectful ways

Feminism doesn’t ask you to only care about women and women’s rights

Are you a feminist simply by being born a woman? I don’t think so.

‘It’ isn’t literal and narrow. It is about honoring that aspect in and around us which connects us to the feminine. What is feminine you ask?

I hope you do ask because we have had too much information and little knowledge about this idea/concept/construct.

Feminine is the creative force. It is open, vast, receptive , fluid and vulnerable. It is the power of intuition, emotion and nurturing. In humans, we understand the right hemisphere of the brain and the left side of the body to be working on this principle. Being born as a woman definitely gives us a biological advantage to be more in tune with the feminine but it requires awareness and acceptance to be used as a strength.

The construct of the ‘Feminine’ encompasses all creatures on Earth who depend on us human beings to be taken care of, to not be violated. This is a child, a woman, a man, an animal, plants, oceans, environment etc. ‘It’ asks for grace, compassion and empathy for another being. It evokes a power within which cannot be denied. It asks that we transcend our ego and see the world beyond the ‘I, Me, Myself’.

Any being who can be subjected to oppression, injustice deserves to be fought for. Across generations and cultures we have seen this injustice manifest the most around women and hence feminism is synonymous with the experience of being a woman today.

We know this force as the archetypal ‘Mother’.  She gives of herself to create, raise and nurture. She can protect her offspring when she senses any threat. She also feels the collective pain of any injustice.

And if we know anything, then we know that the true feminine cannot live in isolation from the true masculine. Both are needed and in balance.

Masculine is the seed force without which creation isn’t possible. It is the power of action, focus, intention. This is the ‘achieving’ energy which is logical, rational and solid/set.  It is externally focused.

We know this force as the archetypal ‘Father’. Quite naturally, the masculine force provides the seed and the feminine nurtures it to life. Masculine provides and protects.

In schools, offices, governments, families, we are taught to recognize and bolster the Masculine but seldom talked about is the Feminine power.  I suspect that this is because we only believe what we see with the limitations of our physical eyes and the faculties of our rational mind. I am happy to see an increase in the ‘mindfulness’ trend in schools. Practices like meditation, mindfulness, art connect us with this power which lies within untapped.

As for a man vs woman debate, I have seen many men who are securely in touch with their feminine side and I have seen many women who aren’t. I know the corporate driven achievement oriented culture doesn’t give much of a chance to stay connected with our feminine side and neither does a culture where a girl is not free to exercise her freedom which stems from simply being alive.

In majority of the cases, women leaders and the men who find a way to honor their feminine side do tend to think long term and in terms of a larger balance. Here I would like to draw your attention to the women led Icelandic bank which was the only financial institution to survive the financial crisis in 2007-2008. Auður Capital is a financial services company founded by two women who formed feminine values as the basis of their institution. Halla Tomasdóttir who is one of the founders of this bank said that if we want to see a change anywhere, we must include atleast 3 women on the board because one is token representation and two is a minority.

I was thrilled to learn about several initiatives in European nations and some other countries where as a society, balance, harmony, sense of community are highly prized values and are seen integral to improving performance. These initiatives are in the direction of healthcare, education, child care, environment protection, animal rights, parental leave, vacation time etc. The ‘softer’ side of running a company and a society.

An example of honoring the feminine around us was in 2013 when New Zealand granted legal personhood to Te Urewera National Park and Whanganui River and its tributaries. This speaks volumes in terms of respecting and protecting the intrinsic rights of this earthly body. It is recognizing and protecting the rights of an entity which cannot speak for itself and calls upon us human beings to do so.

So, what does it mean to be a Feminist?

  • Being aware of the most obvious and subtle forms of injustice
  • Speaking up against injustice as and when you can
  • Taking action at an individual and or collective level in a collaborative manner

Thoughts?

7 simple rules to practice self-love

Since we are still in the ‘Love’ month of February I wanted to share these 7 simple rules to show some love to our ‘Self’. After all, we can only share what we have.

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Practicing Self Love

  1. Wear an outfit that makes you smile and or wear make-up that makes you smile J
  2. Eat well- Recognize the foods/drinks which make you go off balance.
  3. Make time for what makes you happy.
    • This could be prayer/meditation/ time with nature/me time. Me time could also be time for painting, journaling, dancing etc.
  4. Get your body some exercise – experiment with dancercise, rock climbing, hiking, biking and find out which form of exercise you actually look forward to.
  5. Allow yourself time to not ‘do’ anything and just be. This can be for 5 minutes or 15 minutes depending on how long you can give yourself. If not doing anything drives you nuts then simply curl up in your bed and take a nap or get a nice bubble bath.
  6. Pay attention to how many hours of sleep is ideal for you. You would know this by the fact that you don’t need an alarm to jolt you up in the morning.
  7. Set boundaries with people at work, with relatives, with friends etc. Start saying NO to those situations/people who drain you out. Respect your life enough to leave work on time most days where you feel like you have a life beyond work.

 

7 Simple Nutrition basics I follow

I must admit that it took me a couple of years to sensitize myself to these basics in U.S. where all the good and the bad is available at once in your local grocery store. These rules improved my physical and mental well -being by 70-80%. Hope this helps someone else who is searching for info.

  1. When buying processed foods if the nutrition label has ingredients that you can’t understand or relate to, your body can’t either. Ex: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate, Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  2. If a nutrition label has more than 3 ingredients that you can’t pronounce, you can probably do without it.
  3. Eat whole foods instead of the market ready processed alternatives. Ex: Eat whole oranges instead of Orange juice which perhaps doesn’t even have much nutrition value and instead has unwanted sugar in it.
  4. Avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, hydrogenated oils, bleached flour.
  5. Buy Cooking Oils that are packed in Glass jars instead of plastic. You don’t want the plastic by product in your oils..do you?
  6. Eat good fat and avoid fat free is you can. Good fat doesn’t include fried foods..sorry peepsL It includes Grass Fed Ghee, Avocadoes, Olive oil, nuts etc. Fat free is good when you buy non organic milk since most toxins travel through fat into our blood. Fat is the most stable form of energy for our bodies.
  7. Corn and Soy are some of the favorite ingredients used by the processed food industry and are genetically modified more often than not. I avoid them as much as possible except for when I want to relish some tortilla chips every once in a while.

I have listed a few resources that I found helpful on the resources page.

My best to you,

Pooja

Affirmation-Harmony

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Affirmation-Harmony

Why seeking help is not crazy?

By help here I am referring to any form of treatment for your mental, emotional and relational health. This could be called psychotherapy, counseling, couples therapy, family therapy,  mental health counseling etc. (I do agree that lot of these titles do a good job of scaring people awayJ )

Do you think you are crazy to seek a doctor’s advice when you have been suffering from chronic back pain? I hope not. Of course, we all have among us our friends and family who love to self-medicate & or live in pain. Perhaps there are temporary cures that do work and hey, I am a big believer of natural therapies too. However there is a point when you and everyone around you knows that you are only being in denial or being too willful. It is at this point when you have been living in excruciating pain everyday that you do consider visiting a doctor and seek help.

Applying the analogy of physical debilitating pain to emotional dis-order , the first issue that arises is acknowledging it. We all know when we are not functioning according to our ‘normal’. Every person has a different point where he/she knows that they are doing well. Similarly there are times when we are:

1) Feeling stuck

2) Feeling overwhelmed

3) Overcome by fears / worry

4) Feeling unheard/unsupported

5) Feeling hopeless

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Golden Gate, San Francisco

 

The challenge here lies in not only being able to acknowledge it but assuming responsibility for your health/wellness and approaching a mental health professional. Our friends and family can help us a lot and they also come loaded with expectations. In all fairness, they cannot be expected to hear you out non-judgmentally and support you. Do not listen to people who ask you to ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or ‘be more strong willed’. What intrigues me here is that we do not have such expectations of ourselves or of other people when someone needs treatment for a fracture, cancer or a condition like diabetes. Yes one can choose to ignore these too and you know how it ends!

The next time you know of someone who looks dis-ease d (not at ease/harmony), keep it simple and encourage him/her to seek help. Perhaps your loved one could use a non-judgmental listening ear who can provide support through their period of transition.

The Sleep Rule:)

While I was getting accustomed to my new smartphone a few days ago, my phone began to prompt me with ‘smart actions’ (and now some smart people will know which phone I use..haha). I was happy that I didn’t have to do all the work by myself to save my phone’s battery and data usage! Within a few days my phone prompted me to create a ‘sleep rule’ which will help , put my phone on silent, conserve the battery, restrict the background synchronization and dim the brightness of the screen during certain hours of the night. I was thrilled by the intelligence by phone demonstrated and I activated the sleep rule. The best part of it was that my phone allows me to set exceptions to the rule and also triggers to the activating the rule. If you have read my other blogs, you will know that I love metaphors and here was a great one that I have not stopped mentioning to people I meet. One of the triggers was the ‘time’ of the night which activated the rule everyday at 10pm for me.

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Enchanting Full Moon in Boston

Hmmm…now comes linking this to our everyday life. I find it amazing and amusing that we can think about ‘recharging’ and ‘conserving’ our phone’s batter but not ours! We have been living under some illusion that we can go by everyday life while taking on different stresses without making an effort to recharge in some way. Making an extra effort to meditate, take a walk, and go for a swim is all too much to ask for on a daily basis (yes, we are good at making excuses). Nonetheless, we also want to function without sleep or the most minimal possible. For some of us, our upbringing has been one where ‘sleep’ means ‘inactivity’ and that translates to being unproductive which is anything but acceptable. We have always got to be ‘doing’ something or appear to be doing something productive. My sense of wonder arises when we let so called ‘machines’ to rest and not ourselves who still are not ‘machines’ or so is my hope. Having lived in a city that never sleeps (Mumbai) and worked in management positions where you always expected to be available, I do know what damage we do to ourselves and then wonder ‘why do I feel like a money earning machine’. Now that I have built up some frustration, lets talk about a simple solution we can begin incorporate on a daily basis.

Design your own Sleep rule. Find out what is the average amount of sleep you need (not minimum) to feel refreshed. Plan to call a ‘ceasefire’ or a gradual slowing down of activities that stimulate you at least an hour prior to your preferred sleep time. You can call this your ‘sleep cushion’. Intend on getting off your laptop, tv, cell phone, stimulating conversation including fights with your partner/parent etc. Another rule that goes along with this is to not have any machines that emit electromagnetic radiations in your bedroom (you know what these areJ). Bedroom needs to be used to sleep/relaxation/sex. Use music that soothes you during that hour along with fragrances or lights that bring your ‘anxiety’ down. You can also choose to not take a fight into the bed!

Examples of some relaxing fragrances include Jasmine, Lavender, Chamomile.

Examples of soothing music include sounds of water, smooth jazz etc. A lot of music that is played in Spas works too. As for lighting, all I would say it needs to be your version of ‘going to bed’. I know some people feel ‘anxious’ with large white fluorescent lights and calmer with yellow lights. Your bedding could be a texture that is smooth and using colors that calm you might be helpful.

All of these are just meant to be guidelines and they are more fun when you experiment with themJ