Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Ten Things I Love About You March 12, 2013

heart-shaped-cloudMarch 10 was the third anniversary of Matrignosis. The past three years have been among the happiest of my life and you are part of the reason. This post is my way of thanking and celebrating you for the difference you make. Here are ten of the many things I love about you.

1.I love your kindness and generosity. Each time I write a new post I worry. Should I say these things? Have I expressed what my soul really wants to say? Is it clear? Is it accurate? Will it be helpful to anyone? Will it offend?  If it does, does that mean I shouldn’t have written it?  Or do I need to develop a thicker skin: accept that I’m entitled to my opinions, understand I can’t please everyone, realize that rejections don’t mean I’m a bad person? Then I wake up on Tuesday and Friday mornings, approach my computer half anxious, half hopeful, and read your unfailingly kind-hearted and generous-spirited comments. And I feel the weight of my cheeks as the corners of my mouth lift, and, awash with pleasure, I’m emboldened to repeat the same process again.

2. I love your patience. Some of you tell me you don’t always understand what I’m saying. Yet you wade through my words, try to understand, and keep coming back. Or at least you don’t leave. Or not that I know of…

3. I love your vulnerability and trust in me.

4. I love your tolerance. In the last three years I’ve lost perhaps a dozen subscribers and been deeply pained each time it happened. I never know who has left, I just know the numbers WordPress gives me keep growing and then are suddenly diminished by one. This leaves me feeling diminished too. I always wonder, Have I offended? If so, how? Is the leaver deeply disappointed in me? Bored? Angry? I’ll never know, but it often happens that the same post that triggered a leaving brings me one or two new subscribers. This, and the fact that the rest of you stay even when you disagree with a position I’ve taken, makes me feel I’m finding my tribe: people who understand what I’m trying to do and why, who forgive me despite our differences.

5. I love the way you teach me. How you sometimes ask questions I don’t know the answers to. Which makes me do some research. Which makes me try to figure out how to answer your questions. Which makes me think. Which makes me learn.

6. I love your hunger for knowledge, especially self-knowledge. I know the courage it takes to satisfy it.

7. I love the way you’ve encouraged me to find my voice and speak my truths, simply by taking the time to share your appreciation for something I’ve said that I was afraid to say but dared to anyway.

8. I love it that you give me a reason to write, to experience the joy of it, to relish the sense that I am doing what I am meant to do and that this is enough.

9. I love the way I feel when I’m reading your comments.  I picture you reading a post with silver threads of consciousness growing out of your head and heart. Spiraling like your DNA, they tunnel your soul’s responses through the cosmic web to me where they pierce my heart until tears of gratitude well up. I love the way this piercing and welling assure me that I’m known and loved. That just being alive and able to feel is enough.

10. I love it that you flood me with gratitude. Thank you.

“It is enough that arrows fit exactly in the wounds they have made.” ~Franz Kafka

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Obsessing About Stressing October 2, 2012

The other night I dreamed an entire blog post. I woke up a few times thinking, “Yay! This will be a good one!” but dozed off again before writing anything down. When the alarm rang we jumped up and raced off to our grandchildren’s soccer, baseball, and volleyball games. By the time I thought about my dream it had snuck into that place where unremembered dreams hide. I sure wish I could find that place. I hate losing a good idea for a post. But I’m trying not to stress over it.

I used to think I was very laid back, but lately I’m reconsidering: partly due to an excess of traveling, and partly because I had my annual checkup last week and my doctor questioned my alleged “white coat syndrome.” My mother, a nurse, would have dismissed it with, “Pooh! It’s all in your head!” But, hey! What’s in your head is still real, right? It’s even been written up in medical journals! It’s when your blood pressure reaches a hypertensive average in an office setting but not at home. Oddly, people with this condition don’t exhibit signs of trepidation. That’s me. I don’t feel anxious or get palpitations, but put me in a room with a white coat and my blood pressure soars.

I’ve known this since I volunteered to be a guinea pig in my high school anatomy lab. After a quizzical look and two re-checks, my teacher sent me back to my desk with a vague, “Oh, you’re probably feeling a bit excited,” before quickly changing the subject. Now I always warn the nurse.

My goal is a reading no higher than 130 over 80. Last week I felt perfectly calm but it was 161 over 94! Yet I always get normal numbers at those blood pressure machines in the grocery store! Weird. But, good patient that I am, I bought a blood pressure monitor. After recording the numbers I note what I was doing before I checked it because I’m curious to see if there are any patterns. So far, out of 25 readings my average is a perfectly respectable 125/76.

And yes, I’ve found a pattern. The six lowest readings averaged 110/70. Of these, two were taken immediately after I’d written long e-mails to friends, one after playing Words With Friends on my I-phone, two after being with my children and grandchildren, and one after checking my social media sites. I love it! All six had to do with positive interactions with family or friends! Conversely, the highest reading, 149/87, was taken after I’d spent an hour trying to figure out how to edit my e-mail signature! That time I didn’t need to take my blood pressure to know I was stressed!

So what gems of self-knowledge have I mined from this little science experiment?

1.  My ego may believe I’m not afraid to die, but somewhere in my unconscious (probably next door to the Cave for Unremembered Dreams) lives a part of me that fears the things I associate with doctors: physical vulnerability, suffering, mortality. More “proof” of this split-off part: an hour ago while I was writing about white coat syndrome my blood pressure rose to 137/86! Now that I’m almost finished with this post, it’s down to 128/73!

2.  I love how easy my computer makes blogging and writing to friends, but it also has a sick technological side. Obviously, I need a computer doctor! No one with a white coat need apply.

3.  Balancing work I love with good relationships is the best medicine I know for stress.

I just took my blood pressure again. It’s 122/71! (Am I obsessing? Should I worry about bursting blood vessels in my left arm?)

My new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at www.Amazon.com or www.larsonpublications.com.

 

When Women Tell The Truth April 27, 2012

Some of my posts come from the heart, some from the head. This one comes from the gut. It’s difficult to write because I’m swamped with strong emotions I don’t quite know how to express. So I’ll simply tell you the truth. I’ve recently come across three troubling blogs. One is written by a woman who describes the sad and dangerous life she lived as a prostitute in New York City for ten years.  A second expresses a woman’s disenchantment with her religion because of the oppression she’s experienced. A third is by a woman who is regularly abused by her husband and wishes she lived in America. None of these women make excuses or plead for sympathy. They simply tell the truth about their lives. And the truth is shocking, painful, and scary.

It’s shocking to know how many women suffer at the hands of men who fear and hate them. Shocking to know how often the authorities responsible for protecting women feel justified in not doing their jobs. Painful to know that so many women in today’s world are mistreated simply because they’re female. Painful to realize I’d rather turn away than face this truth. Scary because it reminds me how vulnerable I am…because I’m a female.

I started this post a few hours ago and was almost finished when I accidentally deleted it. So I had a little inner discussion that went like this:  “Oh, darn! It’ll take too long to try to rewrite it. I should just start over with another topic that’s easier to write about.”

My conscience responded with,  “Are you sure you didn’t unconsciously delete it accidentally on purpose so you’d have an excuse not to post it? Are you perhaps feeling a wee tad cowardly?”

Oops. We bandied this about until the doorbell rang. It was my daughter, granddaughters and granddog who’d dropped by for a brief visit. I told my daughter  how I didn’t know if I wanted to re-create the post and she said, “Why don’t you just write another one about how conflicted you’re feeling?  Wouldn’t that be appropriate for your blog?” Yes, indeedy it would! How’d she get so smart?

So I’ve decided to tell the truth I don’t want to think or write about. A web site called Archetype in Action has been publishing posts of mine for several months in the hope of raising psychological awareness about the unconscious forces in ourselves and society that perpetuate the abuse of women. Last week they posted an older one about the feminine principle in men and women, only to have their site hacked. Someone deleted my article and replaced it with a formal-looking notice saying it was inappropriate! The site manager provided another link and the problem was solved. But is the real problem solved?

This morning’s e-mail contained the latest post from the blogger who’s experienced oppression by her religion and culture. In it she expressed her anger at the hypocrisy of a religion that makes scholarly pronouncements emphasizing women’s rights while dismissing the women who do not experience these rights. After I read it I clicked on the link to her site so I could make a comment.  Guess what. The post was gone and there was a notice that said: “Not Found, Error 404. The page you are looking for no longer exists.”

Here I am, a well-intentioned, well-loved, well-treated woman in 21st century America, afraid to express my anger about injustices against women for fear of becoming a target for misogyny. Is a world where women are afraid to tell the truth the kind of world in which we want our daughters and granddaughters to grow up?

 

Why Should Society Promote Self-Knowledge? February 10, 2012

Lately, an internet acquaintance who is an ardent social activist has been looking through my archives for inspiration about how to make Jungian psychology more relevant to the general public. After reading my April 8, 2010 post titled Elephant in The Cave he commented:

“Why is it important to society for humanity to get these unconscious contents dredged up? If people understood why they should do it, then it seems there would be more seekers — i.e. not just those attracted to Jung, Campbell, or a therapist for answers. I know when I was painting a lot, things seemed to go better in my business life. When I didn’t paint for a month, things got stuck. Perhaps opening the door to my creative core helped … But I’d like to know your thoughts on the question Why? Here’s sort of the question: Why should the mainstream media highlight a story about connecting with the subconscious every night on the evening news?”

My personal answer to why learning more about our shadows should be important to society is simple: because knowing and accepting my shadow has transformed the way I experience myself and live my life. It feels like I’ve gone from wanting to hide from a raging tornado in a dark cellar, (“Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Let me in!”) to splashing around with my horse, free and unencumbered, in an enchanted forest pool. Oh, and my golden retriever is there too! (“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto!”)

I know, I’m making this sound like a B movie remake of a fairy tale, (Wait! Is that a huntsman behind that tree?), but I can’t think of a better way to describe how I feel. I don’t mean all the time, but often enough that my growing freedom from fear, anxiety and the need to control my life to feel safe and good enough predisposes me to greater tolerance and compassion.

But why would the mainstream media highlight stories about understanding our shadows on the evening news? Well, they wouldn’t unless they cared more about furthering peace and human welfare than ratings. But if they did, and if people responded, I believe conditions would improve dramatically for everyone. Why? In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti: “Because the individual does not know his purpose, he is in a state of uncertainty and chaos. Because the individual has not solved his own problem, the problem of the world has not been solved. The individual problem is the world problem. If an individual is unhappy, discontented, dissatisfied, then the world around him is in sorrow, discontent and ignorance.”

Here’s another: “To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine…”

Many of us get it. But how do we help society understand the need for self-knowlege? I don’t know. Krishnamurti believed that a revolution in the psyche cannot be brought about by any external entity. This was true in my case. My inner tornado kicked up such a fuss that in desperation I finally gave up waiting for the weatherman to do something about it and started working on myself. But is waiting for a crisis to force us off our complacent couches the only way? If you can think of others I hope you’ll write. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Compulsive Computing: The Perils and Pleasures of Writing 600 Words February 7, 2012

It’s noon on Monday and I have five hours to write and schedule a post before I have to get ready to attend a Magic basketball game this evening. My posts come out twice a week, at 12:01 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday morning.  I’ve been doing this for almost two years and am kind of obsessed about staying on schedule.  Last week was unusually busy so I’m under the gun today.  Only five hours to come up with a topic and 600 words. Holy crap!

I’m a fast thinker. This makes me a slow writer because so many synapses fire at once that it takes some time to assemble all the input into something understandable to others. It also makes ordinary conversation problematic since I have a habit of coming out with non sequiturs. I’ve been subjected to many a blank stare when, for example, we’re talking about Magic basketball and I’m wondering aloud about dinner. It makes perfect sense to me. I associate basketball games with arena food and arena food makes me hungry and hunger reminds me of dinner. In fact, writing the above sentence made me hungry so I had to stop and make lunch.

But I digress. Another reason I’m a slow writer is that I need to know how I feel about something before I’m ready to write about it, and I’m a slow feeler.  Well, I don’t really feel slow; I’m just slow to recognize my feelings. As an aside, (and to illustrate my point about firing synapses), I need to digress again: When I say feelings, I don’t mean just emotions.  I mean feeling in the Jungian sense of valuing: assessing phenomena in terms of what is meaningful to me, what is not, and why. For instance, I saw the movie A Dangerous Method about Jung, Freud, and Spielrein a few days ago and enjoyed it, but I still don’t know exactly how I feel about it, so I’m not ready to write about it yet.

It used to take three or four days to get a post together and I worried a lot about meeting my deadlines. Why? I don’t know. After all, they’re self-imposed!  Nowadays I trust my unconscious to send me something: but in five hours? Last night I awoke several times and each time I was thinking about what today’s topic would be. But nothing gelled.

Then this morning it hit me that this post would be my 200th, and when I checked my blog stats I discovered I now have 200 e-mail subscribers! Now that felt meaningful! So I pondered this computational coincidence over my compulsory morning sudoku, while reading and answering my compulsory e-mail, and during my compulsory check-in with my other sites. Finally, I settled down to write. I refilled my coffee cup. I lit my candle for inspiration. I closed my eyes to meditate.  I heard, “You’ve got mail!” It was a series of cartoons from Fred’s office manager about working with computers. All this was too synchronistic to ignore, and the result is this post on blogging, computing, internet networking, and the inefficient wiring of one writer’s brain.

In closing, here’s my latest favorite quote about writing from author Paul Auster, “Becoming a writer is not a ‘career decision’ like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you’re not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.”

600 words? Exactly! Hard? Yes, but also way gratifying.

Okay, this last sentence takes it beyond 600 words but I thought you’d  like to know it took me 4 hours and 53 minutes!

 

Cooking Lessons September 11, 2010

Today marks my sixth month of blogging. What an extraordinary experience it has been.  Like a chef concocting a new recipe, I thought it would be a fun way to express my passions and connect with a few people as fascinated with the internal stew of the psyche as I am. But I was totally unprepared for the nourishment I’d receive in return. To celebrate today’s milestone, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned.

(1)  Blogging is not a piece of cake. It’s thinking and reading and creating a recipe and gathering ingredients and measuring and stirring and preheating the oven and watching the clock and stopping the baking process before the layers are overdone and cooling and handling them with care so they don’t fall apart and making the icing and decorating with delectable images, then washing and putting everything away so you can get on with your life — all the stuff that goes into creating what you hope will be a delicious treat for an unknown clientele and then discovering that some people like the way it tastes and some don’t and learning to be okay with that!

(2)  Blogging is not for wimps. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. A blog is like a restaurant anyone can patronize. And I mean that literally! People have different tastes and opinions and there are a few who see other peoples’ blogs as open invitations to push their own agendas or flaunt their self-importance. I’ve had to get tough and uninvite one or two.

(3)  Bloggers do not dine alone. Until six months ago writing isolated me from my friends more than it connected me to them. I saw them rarely and between visits they knew virtually nothing about my work. With this blog I have renewed some treasured old friendships and formed several new ones, and all of you know exactly what I’m cooking because you’re digesting it! This is a particularly lovely and completely unexpected benefit of blogging.

(4)  The best dishes have the fewest ingredients. My writing has always been a bit wordy. I say “a bit,” but in one of the earliest articles I submitted to a professional journal the editor crossed out about one in every six words! While this was a definite wake-up call, it did not reduce my verbal flow with anywhere near the efficiency of blogging. Writing two 500- to 600-word posts a week for six months is correcting the sloppy writing habits of 50 years!

(5)  The best recipes are creative and challenging without being too difficult. Technical writing and left-brained theorizing are appropriate for gourmet chefs, but the average cook? Not so much. Few of us have the interest or luxury to spend all day in the kitchen. Blogging is expanding my awareness of my audience and helping me practice what I preach. I’m ready to stir things up more in the cauldron of my right brain. Now where’s my ladle?

(6)  Cooking improves with feedback. Your comments have exposed me to ideas I’ve never considered and questions I’ve never asked; and you’ve inspired me to try out new recipes I never would have attempted without you.

(7)  There are some really fascinating, wise, generous-spirited and infinitely lovable people out there, and I’m very grateful so many of them dine at Jeanie’s Restaurant.  Thank you, everyone.

 

 
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