In our culture, aging, dying and death are often talked about in whispered and hushed tones and often viewed as an enemy to be defeated and overcome.
But what if we had a different paradigm……one that accepted and even embraced the end of life as a passage as sacred and blessed as the birth of child?
The key to this revisioning of life and death may very well begin with an exploration of how the framework of our patriarchal system shapes our thinking, way of life, and our political and social justice systems. And it may very well inform us how male dominance, hierarchal ordering, violence and the ever present assent to power, shape every aspect of our individual and collective lives- even our deaths.
My guest this past week on Wise Woman Storytime, Leslene della Madre offers us a very different look at death and ultimately a new look at life. An initiate in the metis Paiute medicine tradition of Grandmother Mahad’yuni, and an initiated daughter in the Nepalese lineage of Ajima, protector of women and children, Leslene draws on ancient wisdom, the sacred feminine and her 45 years on the shamanic path of awakening.
Leslene’s message is an important one.
When we embrace a sacred feminine paradigm of aging, dying and death, whose foundation rests on peace, acceptance, solace, generosity, connection and love – we not only die peacefully, we live fuller and happier lives.
This is Leslene’s story and there are lessons here for all of us.
You can find out more about Leslene and order her book Midwifing Death: Returning to the Arms of the Ancient Motherat her website midwifingdeath.com. Check out her Facebook page as well.
For those of us who are older, it is quite the vantage point to be able to look back over our lives and see the influences that made and continue to make us who we are today.For most, the family of origin is probably somewhere in the mix- perhaps embracing the values of our parents and community or maybe quite the opposite – a negation of familial attitudes and beliefs.
Then there are the people we cross paths with. Sometimes there are momentary chance meetings with people who pass through our lives and leave an indelible imprint.And then there are the people we develop long term relationships with, who mold and change our ways of thinking, seeing, and living.
And of course, there’s each one of us…and how despite our upbringing, education, socioeconomic status,racial, and gender privilege – or lack of– that core of self that is open or closed to new ideas, reflective or shut down, trusting or distrusting of life and ourselves, willing or unwilling to take chances and make mistakes – that core inside of us that ultimately makes the choices anddecisions that shape who we are and how we live in the world…
This past week on Wise Woman Storytime, Sherrie Lovlershared her story of the early and ongoing influences in her life. Sherrie grew up in the Bronx and then as a young adult found herself moving to a rural part of NY where she lived on the land and homesteaded for many years and published a magazine called The Homesteaders News. From rural NY, Sherrie moved to Colorado and eventually made her way to the burgeoning Silicon Valley in California and bore witness to the birth of the tech boom.
Today, Sherrie Lovler is many things. She is a calligrapher, poet and painter. She is the author of two books, the latest On Softer Ground: Paintings, Poems and Calligraphy. She is a spiritual being connected to the Divine and lives her life with the same principles that she creates art with…openness, trust, playfulness, discipline, curiosity and the willingness to take risks.
Sherrie always had adeep seeded connection to the magic of the pen, words, and art. Combined with her connection to the “Other” this is a story about one woman’s journey to living a life devoted to art, all the while learning how to artfully live.
The classic Greek poet Simonides of Ceos wrote, “Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks.” In Sherrie Lovler’s case, you might say, art is living and living is art.
For more information about Sherrie’s calligraphy prints, art, and poetry and to purchase her book, here are her websites.Enjoy!
artandpoetry.com Her main art and poetry filled site with links to other sites and events.
natureartandpoetry.com Her blog with her most recent art and poems. 92 pairs are posted here with more coming soon.
I think we can agree that all families have stories………some might be tall tales that one might question, others might be more subtle and understated.Some stories may show pride in ancestral heritage and others might be silenced by shame, misunderstanding or the inability to speak the unspeakable. Children in these families are often kept in the dark so they listen in on whispered conversations, sometimes in foreign tongues, seeking to make sense of the unsaid and creating meaning and understanding for themselves as they navigate the family landscape.
My guest this week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime, Frieda Ferrick grew up in such a family – where the past was unspoken and the stories eventually unwoven, although perhaps never completely revealed.
A child of Holocaust survivors, Frieda slowly wove the threads of her parents earlier years together. It’s taken her years to piece her father and mothers story together and she still is exploring its impact on the people closest to her, the ones she never knew, the generations to follow and herself.
In this week’s show, Frieda reflects on her most recently completed book. Following Stories My Family Could Not Tell and Stories I Must Tell You, her third book in this trilogy offers us all a path to finding connection, optimism, and bravery during this and other turbulent times. Stories of Love, Hope and Courage has never been more relevant and important.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are all on a path….some paths maytwist and turnand and take us off in unimaginable directions…..others may be straight and steady with goals checked off at each end point as new ones are quickly created. Some of our paths are influenced by family and the values we learn in our early years and some paths are influenced by curiosity, and openness,……..even dreams, intuitions, synchronicities, coincidenceand perhaps a bit of magic. Some of our paths are a hodgepodge of all of the above.
My guest this week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime, Susan Lamont has been a feminist most of her life.While always politically conscious, her activism became energized and more focused around 2000. Today’s story is about the intersection of all of the above……how the values in a family inform us; how the coincidences of our lives influence us and how synchronicity, a little bit of magic, a determination to live in a just world and the sheer grit and willingness to roll up our sleeves and jump in, transforms us into our best selves.
We cannot ignore the high incidence of child abuse in our country nor can we look the other way at the impact abuse has on the child and the adult survivor.
Here are some facts:*
2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States.
1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.
Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violence crime.
90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68% are abused by a family member.
About 80% of 21-year-olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
Approximately 5 children die every day because of child abuse.
And here are some consequences of adults who were abused as children: **
Physical health problems
Emotional health problems
Alcohol and substance abuse
High risk sexual behavior
Intergenerational transfer of abuse and neglect
High risk sexual behaviors
My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime El Chess, suffered horrific abuse as a child. Her earlier years were fraught with degradation, deprivation, neglect, emotional abuse and dehumanizing conditions. It has been her lifetime commitment to do the deep inner work of breaking the constraints of shame, speaking the unspeakable andlearning to love herself that has forged her path towards living a fulfilling, happy and successful life today.
El’s goal is to share the practices and teachings that have helped her thrive so that others may also live happy lives.El has worked hard to create the first ever 12 step program called Adults Abused Anonymous which meets weekly in Santa Rosa and very recently published her book Adults Abused as Children.
My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime was Elaine Leeder professor of Sociology and the Dean Emerita of the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University.And while Elaine’s career encompasses roles as a professor, teacher, psychotherapist, consultant, author and advocate for social justice, Elaine has a deep commitment to the work she has done within the prison system and a special affection for the Lifers she has worked with who live their lives behind bars.
Today’s show is about this often unspoken topic and the invisible and all too often forgotten people we consider to be the throwaways, the misfits and the incorrigible ones.It’s a show about the prison system and the men that live, work and die there and yes, as we you will learn from her story, sometimes grow, learn and transform themselves.
Elaine’s latest book, My Life with Lifers Lessons for a Teacher: Humanity Has No Bars is a testament to the power of how education and self-help programs can be catalysts for redemption and transformation even for those who have committed horrible crimes. My Life with Lifers is actually a very uplifting and encouraging book about how even under the most dire of situations one can find peace, acceptance and freedom.There are lessons here for all of us.
Despite the best laid plans, we really just don’t know what will happen next. An encounter, an event, an accident can suddenly change the trajectory of our lives. Where we thought we were headed, suddenly is no more. These moments may bring us to new heights or perhaps places we never expected or wanted to go.
My guest today on Wise Woman Storytime,Louise Nayer was 4 years old when her family’s path veered off in a direction that no one could have foreseen.
Burned: A Memoir is Louise’s adult quest to come to terms with this life changing tragedy. It’s an exploration and discovery of the loss, suffering, pain and complexity of family relationships as well as a testament to the strength, resiliency and tenacity of this foursome.
It is a story ofhealing- how each person although differently affected by tragedy, must walk their individual path to recovery and how the power of love, commitment and yes hard work, can be the glue to making the family whole again.
While Burned: A Memoir is Louise Nayer’s story, there are lessons here for everyone.
Dear Senators and Members of the House of Representatives:
I believe that as a nation, we are facing one of the most challenging and darkest chapters in our history. In the first few weeks of this new administration, our current president’s actions, behaviors, and language are destabilizing our governmental agencies, institutions, working people’s financial and medical safety nets, our standing among our fellow nations and making us less safe.
Unlike certain countries, when the leader loses the confidence of the majority of members of their government, they areare voted out. We do not have that luxury in the United States.Here we rely on our president to have high standards, strong ethics and a commitment to the common good.But what happens when a president fails this test, lacks moral and ethical values and views the presidency as an opportunity to increase his own wealth and power? What happens when a president refuses to release his tax returns and to put his businesses in blind trusts? What happens when the president invites his children to co-mingle private and public business? What happens when there are unanswered questions about the involvement and influence of a foreign government interfering in our elections and the legislative representatives refuse to investigate?What happens when the president lies, makes up “alternate facts” and denigrates the press in general while specifically attacking and makingfun of individual journalists? What happens when the president creates fake news stories to distract from what is really happening? What happens when the president’s chief strategist is a known white supremacist and now sits on the National Security Council and has more influence than the Joint Chief of Staff? What happens when the president uses his bully pulpit to target anyone or any business person that disagrees or criticizes him? What happens to consumers when Dodd-Frank is dismantled and we are once again subjected to the lawlessness and ruthlessness of Wall Street?(That didn’t work out too well for us in 2008 as we saw the biggest financial crisis since 1929)What happens when the president through a poorly written, unreviewed, and mean spiritedexecutive order bans one religious group from 7 countries from entering the US? What happens when the newly electedtemperamentally unfit president alienates one of our closest allies and threatens to invade Mexico?
And what happens when theCongress – one of the checks and balances that we so rely on to maintain the integrity of our Constitution is quietly complicit? What happens when Congress ignores the looming danger signs, the conflicts of interests, the attacks on the press, the dismantling of agencies, the firing of long term personnel because they see this as the time to advance their agenda and the country be damned……..
Yes, we are a nation of laws, But what happens when those charged with the responsibilities of monitoring and reviewing the president fail to do their jobs?What happens when questions of impropriety arise and no one holds the president accountable?
Since this new president has taken office, there have been massive marches and protests.The people of this country see the writing on the wall.The people of this country are inclusive, caring folks who not only respect diversity, they embrace it.The people of this country care about women’s rights, gay rights, people of color’s rights, and immigrants rights,The people of this country care about our planet, want species to thrive, want clean water to drink, good air to breathe and recognize the dangers of climate change. The people of this country want affordable health care, good jobs and decent pay. The people of this country want financial security and a government that has laws that protect them and prosecutes those who cause harm. The people of this country want Main Street to come before Wall Street in our elected officials priorities.
The people of this country care about the truth and want transparency, integrity and accountability from our government.
I am asking you today to put aside your partisan politics and place the good of this nation and its people as your top priority.I am asking you today to stand with the working people, the middle class of this country who give their blood, sweat and tears and expect you to have their backs. I am asking you today to not sit idly by and watch as this president destabilizes our cherished institutions and trashes our safety nets undermining the values that this country was founded on.
Our forefathers wrote, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The people have risen to the occasion.With or without you,the people will prevail.What side of justice to do you want to be on?
Many years ago I watched a home perched atop a hillside in Bolinas CA slowly erode away`-so much so that one year when I made my pilgrimage back to this beloved land, the house was no longer atop the hill. This time its splintered self was at the bottom of the hill being further shredded by the wind and waves. With it’s foundation eroded away, the home could no longer be sustained. No amount of repair was able to sustain it any longer.
In the geography of our life, our core foundation, once seemingly solid and sure, can also erode away, become compromised and no longer be able to hold and support us.Life as we once knew it can shift, sometimes suddenly as in an earthquake, after an election or after years and years of gentle decline.
In the trajectory of our lives, if we see our core foundations weathered and crumbling, it is with awareness that we have choices. We can fall into the empty abyss and allow the elements to break us down further or we can seek a new path to surer footing where we can once again stand tall on solid ground.
My guest today saw the foundation of her life eroding away and rather than wait for the hillside to collapse sought footing on a path of self-discovery, reflection and inner work that would eventually lead her to a higher, sturdier road to renewal Today she lives in a new landscape with a panoramic view of her vision and purpose in life clearly in her horizon.
Sally is a healer, intuitive, writer, and speaker. She is the founder of Call2Joy and JoyFlow Programs. Her website is www.calltojoy.com.
My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was actor, director and drama therapist and teacher of improvisational theater, Jacqueline Grace Hayward. Jacqueline shared her deeply personal story about shame; its impact on her life, and more importantly, how she has healed herself through creativity and sheer determination..
Shame is the most primitive of emotions and yet it is rarely spoken aloud. Secrecy, silence and judgement fuel its fires. Left unspoken, shame can fester over a lifetime creating an inner world of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor or regret. It frequently leads to feelings of being flawed, bad and disconnected from our most essential being.
But this is not a story about victimhood. Instead it is a woman’s journey about finding herself amidst feeling disconnected from her own truth and power.
Carol Gilligan said, “Bringing the experiences of women to full light, although in one sense perfectly straightforward, becomes a radical endeavor.”
Jacqueline Grace Hayward is speaking the unspeakable and breaking her silence. She speaks for the silenced and those guarding their secrets. Her story is truly a radical endeavor and an act of courage.
The link to the audio of the show is below. If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the show aired I received the following from Jacqueline………She would like to share this with you.
I had an extraordinary, deep experience after I left you. I went into the longest, deepest shame I have ever been in, and cried for hours. Then woke in the night and went back into it again, aching and sobbing. And I felt like a liar for having just said on the radio that I have almost got this shame thing licked! What was new, though, is that I was crying. I have never experienced shame and tears together before, and I felt as if I was simultaneously experiencing shame and grief.
The open door for the shame was my answer to your question about how/ who I am now. My response was a negative, in a sense: that I still have work to do because I do not yet know that I can have the life I want. I felt such huge self-abandonment in that answer because what is moving through me now, as of last winter, is radically transformative. I let go of a life-long persona of being brave (which in my vocabulary is associated with being strong in the face of difficulty, lack, settling for, doing it all myself, the image of small fists raised…) and am practicing courage instead. Courage is soft, open, connected, receptive, self-loving and self-caring, the image of wide-spread arms. Courage, for me, as a woman who knows how to be strong and knows how to give, is opening into generously receiving, allowing myself to honor my heart’s desire and to invite in the experience of safety and ease.
The link to the audio of the show is below. If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at email@example.com.
By Roberta Teller
Listener discretion advised as it includes some sexual content.