Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Woman, Unlimited!

gaggedBefore you read forward let me set the stage. If you know me then you likely know my belief: Feminine and Masculine energies when brought into harmony and combined make the most potent force in all creation. Unfortunate that we keep half of our human potential – the Feminine – marginalized and subdued. My passion, as a writer, is to explore and share how gender synergy can be realized.

What I have come to know is that no man can be the liberator of women. Heroes, and heroines, even those with pure hearts, can’t but help find themselves placed on pedestals by those they aid. It’s the natural relationship between hero and so called victim. Inevitably the sum is inequality. It’s the very same phenomenon that compels Feminine to be its own liberator, and women to be their own champion.

On that theme, these words from Kim Kiyosaki – wife of Rich Dad, Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki. “It’s not unusual for women’s self esteem to be linked to her ability to provide for herself. When a woman’s self esteem rises, the relationships around her tend to also improve. Higher self esteem leads to greater success, which leads ultimately to the greatest gift of all – freedom.”

Man-Made Hurdles:

  • 80% of single-parent families are headed by women (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
  • 66% of minimum wage earners are female. (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
  • Single moms’ average net worth is $17,000; single dads’ $80,000 (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
  • On average, women do 4.2 hours a day of unpaid work (childcare, housework, meal preparation, eldercare etc.); men do 2.2 hours on average (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
  • The more a job is considered ‘women’s work’ the less it pays. (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
  • 70% of part-time workers are women. (Status of women in Canada)
  • 47% of women over 50 are single (financially responsible for themselves)
  • Of the elderly living in poverty, three out of four are women (Morningstar Fund Investor)
  • Seven out of ten women will at some time live in poverty

Today fewer and fewer women can afford to remain full-time stay-at-home specialists; more and more women are becoming important cogs in the corporate machine. Currently, women represent 47.3% of the labour force.

Unfortunately, there are factors that prevail even today that limit women, especially financially. On average, women with equal education and experience as their counterparts earn 78 cents on every dollar earned by a man. Over an average year of full-time work, a man can earn over $10,000 more than a woman. Calculate that over a working lifetime.

Then, there is the infamous “glass ceiling effect” that keeps qualified women from senior positions. Over the past two decades, men have been chosen two to three times more often for senior roles than women (CBC News); consequences being a cap on earning power.

It’s irresponsible to suggest discrimination as the sole reason why women earn less than men. Reality is that many women, especially single women, and those with children, have to make choices that force them to balance the urgent needs of family with the necessity of career, which of times can boil down to finding enough time and money to make ends meet.

Responsibility for family has – traditionally – kept women at the mercy of, or ‘financially dependent’ on men. Many women who manage to break their home-made bonds and find independence by entering the workforce often end up only shifting their dependence to a new master: a manager, or a boss. For some women these relationships can be just as disempowering as those found in the home.  At minimum, women find themselves trapped into a system that discriminates and denies them equity.

According to the Status of Women in Canada, 71% of Canadian women indicate they would like to start their own business. The challenge has always been start-up costs, and time. Rarely discussed are numbers from the Direct Selling Associating, which in 2013 reported that 74.2% of the Direct Selling Professionals in America are female (91% in Canada).

Logical reason? Historically, many couples have used Network Marketing as an income supplement. With men typically being the primary breadwinner, it was up to women to engage in creating additional income through a stay-at-home business.

That’s the economic reality, however, the real truth as to why women have been massively successful using this business model is often overlooked. Network Marketing is first and foremost about building relationships and women have always approached business with an attitude of connection, collaboration, nurturing and supporting others. Not coincidentally, all skills analogous to raising a family. Men can master those skills, however, with many women it’s DNA-deep.

Unique to Network Marketing is the removal of the glass ceiling. There are no governors to limit a woman’s earning potential. Income is tied directly to personal effort and desire, regardless of gender, race, or age.

I don’t know your personal situation, it might be full-time and secure in a corporate role, part-time and struggling to make ends meet, or somewhere in the middle; but regardless, if your financial future is important to you then these are questions worthy of consideration:

  • What asset do you have under your control today that is generating its own income (i.e., rental property or own business)?
  • What strategies do you employ that provides you with money, not just a survival income, but an income that is consistently creating tangible wealth?
  • Where is the money coming from that will provide you financial independence and insure that you and those that you love are taken care of for the rest of your life, and beyond?

For my lifetime I’ve heard women near and far, young and old cry out for an even playing field with men, a business opportunity where discrimination is a non-issue. Network Marketing embodies that ideal. All personal achievements and earning potential are based solely on an individual’s passion, desire and effort.

Equal opportunity, especially financial equity is a queer concept for many women. For some the notion only provokes suspicion, while for other women it inspires a curiosity to look further into the possibility of eliminating artificial barriers that have keept women from their greatest gift – freedom.

In upcoming articles I’ll introduce you to women in the business of Network Marketing who inspire me and set an example for what’s possible for all. Your feedback and questions deeply encouraged.

ck 

Seriously? “Nearly 17 million people (16.8) were involved in direct selling in the United States in 2013, with estimated retail sales reaching $32.67 billion. The direct sales channel continues to experience steady growth, as more individuals generated more revenue in 2013 than any year previously. “ (Direct Selling Association)

 

Set Free

Free

What words can capture all that has gone, and all that is yet to come between two hearts? What words can one collect in any language to express how one will love and cherish another for a lifetime?

An entire life has been shared between two friends. Seeds of love have grown, and all without the need of affirming, or endearing words. Now, on this our wedding day, words are all we allow ourselves to share between us.

I knew this moment was coming; after all, I had endorsed the suggestion to reserve a space in our ceremony, before the traditional vows, to empty our hearts of words.

That moment had come.

She stood close enough to be touched, though my hands remained respectfully at my side. Her eyes locked into mine, they held me transfixed in a gravity that drew words from the deep caverns of my heart.

A memory, lyrics to a song long remembered came first. “If you love somebody, set them free.”

My entire adult life I’ve admired the message behind those words. They represent to me a standard of love so sacred that it is rarely realized.

Most often, to be loved by someone threatens or dissipates freedom. It’s evident when jealousy, codependence and neediness become gilded cages used to intern those we cherish.

Freedom is rare, and freedom has been your greatest gift to me.

Coming of age, a time in our lives when adolescent hope could have ensnared us into what’s expected – instant marriage and instant family – you selflessly released me to pursue my heart, though it took me many miles and twenty years away from you.

“If you love somebody, set them free” is not an end, it’s a beginning, a knowing that if you are brave enough to set love free, risking that it may not return, there is grace in knowing that this one love was never yours. If, however, love is set free, and it does returns to you, of its own free will, then that one love is eternal.

Of my own free will is how I come to you; love for a lifetime is what I give freely to you – and you alone.

My heart was now empty of words; I felt like a feather, like wings waiting for the wind, a gust of words held within her heart.

Those words, Mellodie shares next.

ck

3 Loves

wedding kiss

…and then hell froze over!

I had done the unimagined – proposed, and now was to be wed.

With hearts set, logistics melted magically into place. Common law was never an option for us considering we met in church as children and a few learned rituals still guided us – the sanctity of marriage being one. Although I must say that eloping was a strong temptation in us – the church of fat Elvis maybe, had that thought not been preempted by another core belief – family.

Age twelve was when I first met her extended family and the instant her aunt Alice threw her arms around my skinny frame I knew my heart had found family, and a home equal to home.

These people, my extended kin, call Northern Saskatchewan home, which more or less ruled out some fat Elvis in Vegas residing over our nuptials. However, fate blessed me with superior inspiration.

So my wife to be, her family name is Love, and literally one kilometer from where we both spent our summers growing up is a small hamlet famous around the world for its name, Love Saskatchewan.

How blessed the thought – the sentiment, the symmetry – to marry my love, named love, in the town of love.

Saturday, August 30, 2014 found us in resplendent garments on the abandoned grounds of the Love Gospel Jamboree. Surrounded by the walls of a rustic white church and bell tower we stepped from one dimension into the unimagined. An intimate pocket of family witnessed as the mayor of a nearby town stood-in for fat Elvis and joined Mellodie Allyn Love and Christopher Anthony Kennedy in holy matrimony.

ck

 

Ill Proposed

Undecided

It’s a delicate decision, asking a lifelong friend for her hand in marriage. To gain a wife, but to lose a solid best friend, or to distort a loving friendship beyond recognition is a proposition of substantial risk.

I wonder, are my motives pure, are my reasons genuine, and what are her desires. My conviction is the only leg I have to stand on, and trusting the urging of my heart is my only true guide. As it were, without romance as our common compass I can only fly blind into her vast unknown.

I had no plans of where or when, I had no script rehearsed, no ring wedged into the corner of my pocket, and here the element of surprise was never going to be my ally. Still, courage came.

The evening was warm, it was summer, we walked her dog – a Bichon Shitzu – who when not living up to the second half of his name, is drawn to just lay like a beached whale in the freshly cut grass. It’s on one of these opportune breaks that I present a simple question…why not us.

I saw her head cock to one side as her eyes turned to glass. Her face fell pale, a blank slate for a kaleidoscope of emotions to fill: surprise, disbelief, confusion, bewilderment and back again to surprise. Her eyelids blinked in search of focus, or clarity, for what her ears had just heard. Her weight shifted from one slipper to the next in search of equilibrium, for balance. Words took forever to reach her throat and all that came was a universal plea for give me more time: “Let me think about it”, she blurted.

We both had thoughts to gather of things long taken for granted: our friendship. What were our defined borders and whose rules defined them? Were our separate worlds expandable, combinable, and were we willing to grow into regions uncharted?

The answer returned two weeks hence: yes.

ck

IIX, In Orbit

01-8ariel-siegfried-brunhilde11“IIX”

Such orbits we spin around ourselves, some adrift and fleeting, while others circle so close they threaten to eclipse the very light in our lives. I’ve tasted both: the gravity of relationships where I have stayed distant from love, while sometimes suffocating life in my neediness. Me and she; we have been in orbit together for decades and regardless of the space between we have always navigated to the light of the other.

Twenty years, two decades I was away chasing my passion to play a role in the industry of music, and grooming a lifestyle in a place where the weather more suited my clothes – Vancouver. When I returned to Calgary, a compelling reason was to be by her side as she braced for a second war with cancer.

We were both pups when our mothers brought us from separate corners of the globe to a playpen insulated against the outside world. Church, that’s where we met. For many years the pews was home. It’s where we grew up alongside a smattering of local kids connected by blood or by common heritage. Our connection was less obvious.

She’s an only child who grew up in a tiny town under the care of a deeply religious mother. The DNA of her life circumstance was the same shape as my own, though at our tender age of eleven and twelve the similarities were beyond our notice. Far more enjoyable activities brought us close.

I remember many lost hours spent on Greyhound busses as I joined her on summer pilgrimages back to her family farm. More hours were spent on dusty back roads travelling to all points of northern Saskatchewan becoming acquainted with her family tree. In short time this became my own pilgrimage, and her family also mine.

She was never my girlfriend, though she was my fist kiss; we never dated yet I finish her sentences at every pause; we never spoke of together, yet life has been unable to separate our caring for each other. We never entered into the magic realm of being “in love” though mutual friends accuse us of being the most unmarried married couple alive. We once considered ourselves brother and sister, we matured to best friends and now a new title is being forged, one with pomp and ceremony, and witnesses.

ck

IX Begins a question

hold

“IX ?”

A man much wiser than I recently got all up in my face to tell me that my most precious dream and life ambition was fictitious, a fraud. Not that he couldn’t see into my vision: that the survival of humanity is founded on the purposeful and harmonious interplay of masculine and feminine forces. That a balance must be made right within each individual human being, as well as in the world around us, in order to bring these opposites into union, and humankind into it’s greatest power.

My antagonist – guru – help my convictions, yet threw one question at my conviction. Are you in a relationship now? I was awkwardly sensitive and indignant to the effect his question had on me. There was a measure of smugness in telling him no! I heard the word leave my mouth resonating with a pride I had built around resiliency and self-dependence. I spared him, or myself; however, the absolute truth, which was that I had not been in a relationship for over six years.

The moment passed but the truth inside me held the feeling of walking through a familiar room in darkness and carelessly stubbing a toe. It gets your attention, quickly. And my truth, my pain, was avoidance. I was a man willing to explore the facets of masculine and feminine in the world around me yet closed to allowing the splendor and grace of feminine to reside within my heart and throughout my life.

A question made me question my core conviction: my complete and total commitment to feminine and masculine in harmony. The question has passed, the pain of realizing the truth long subsided.   And so I revise my words, and so begins my yes with she and me.

ck

In 10

 

red_lgDSC_1590“X”

In ten days my life will forever be changed. I will no longer be the eligible one. I will no longer have the credentials to wear the badge of the one that always gets away, and I will no longer get to feel that my charms serve everyone.

In ten days I will transport into a new universe, and not be alone. Up to this moment I have lived without sober action taken towards having a partner in my world. Likely I was too much about myself to let anyone in. Irony is, I have come to realize that in order to know myself completely, absolutely – if at all that is possible – it is by way of opening fully, completely to another.

After so many years searching within, my character is well defined and coming more and more into stillness. However, time has also exposed that another half of me lays rustles beneath the surface and churns in turmoil. I realize that only a partner – a commitment to another – can fully open this rich and vibrant stranger in me.

Like a banal stone transforming to diamond, vibrancy comes in resistance to what is, and in time, yielded to a vision of what can be. Over time my resistance has been chipped away with love so that I might see the vitality of life through the vision; the heart and the wisdom of someone separate from me.

In ten days the life I know will have served it’s purpose in preparing me for life with another.

ck

 

 

 

 

 

Feminine Fragrance

Bull hornWe met by design, although, not of our timing.  We met in a situation certainly sordid if judged, and under circumstances avoidable by more level heads.

We met perfectly; with heart valves wide open.

She was, in the moment of our meeting, a stranger.  Still, her essence wafted like sweet fragrances over defenses that stood to repel love, and all its emissaries and meddling spies.  I had prepared welcome in my parlor, but this angel, this precocious ghost scaled walls beyond my bedchamber and commanded of me my deepest presence.

My presence drank of her: beautiful, delicate, desirable.  Her feminine fragrance was in stark contrast to the musk of my masculine.  Her essence sparked in me a vision: of a beautiful girl child face to face with a ferocious bull.  A vicious beast with his sheen black coat absorbing the sun, his horns rapier quick to gore, his nostrils flared by fumes of imminent destruction.  Yet, here, in the fixed gaze of innocence and beauty, he stood transfixed, stilted, disoriented by a desire to be touched by her, impaled by a strange and peculiar pain, his want for love.

I sank easily into her pools of cerulean blue, this stranger, woman, with her fixed gaze of innocence and beauty.  So close was she that I straddled her waves, the rhythm of her breathing, and I welcomed falling into an intimacy reserved for a lover.  She, a stranger still, nameless, faceless, powerless to move me, was moving my world, shifting from under me my foundation of fortified walls.

In a room of souls freshly practiced – for a few hours at least – in the art of human connection, time descended like a stringent parent.  Time would have scattered us like bothersome fruit flies, but for her invitation to play outside of time.  Without her I would have slithered back into my lonely world to shun again my feelings of vulnerability, rage, shame, weakness, desire, want, need of acceptance, and the joy that she – feminine – took my hand to draw from me the one word my masculine heart has so longed to scream: YES!  Goddamit YES!

7 Days to 77 Friendships

WomanMan

I once believed what I observed to be true – headlines and lead stories insisting the human condition is predisposed toward segregation and separateness.

As a prototypical “only child” I believed my true power to be insular, yet there lingered a yearning for connection.  Intimate partnerships I thought would suffice, however, a call to community persisted.  My community came in the form of a seminar: one hundred and seventy seven strangers from places far-flung as China, and Uruguay, to neighbours Canada and U.S.

For seven days and seven nights we lived together on a rustic ranch sprawled over lush, green valleys and rolling hills in Northern California. We came for all reasons, some known; some yet to be discovered; some private, others to affect change in our world.

My change for the world, and my purpose, is to write on topics that embolden women to claim ownership and champion their greater strength: their authentic feminine.

Briefly on that.

Fact, we live in a patriarchal world and in most cultures masculine principals are so ingrained that the void of feminine influence merely register as murmurs over gender inequality.  Nature, however, is mother to balance.  Yin and yang bound light to dark, hot to cold, water to fire, life to death, and yes, feminine to masculine.  All in nature is interconnected and interdependent, a cycle where contrast is revealed as a compliment creating a whole always greater than either force can be on its own.

Patriarchy, as a man-made social construct, and as practiced in Western culture, is a monopoly where feminine energy is squelched to a frequency so low that women must source power through masculine means, either from within themselves, or in men, as a tactic for self-preservation.

My belief is that feminine and masculine energies, in harmony, are the most potent force on planet Earth, though without balance, we humans, as a species, can never fully realize our full, divine potential.

So, how does a week, on a ranch, at a seminar relate to all this?

It came down to a wall: a 14-foot high, 8-foot wide sheer surface with no handholds or footrests to grip or climb.  The challenge given to the group was to bring everyone, 32 men and 45 women, over the wall without the use of tools or props, and to complete the task together, in stark silence.

The wall, of course, represent life circumstances seemingly too imposing or insurmountable.  Silence is isolation – segregation and separateness – and the neurotic human tendency to suffer burdens alone even though friends and family with equal challenges surround us.

Metaphor be dammed, we did it; every body came over that wall. However, it’s what came next that most moved me.  In triumph, I saw smiles leap from face to face like tinder sparks in a wildfire of emotion that consumed all desire for separation.  A rain of tears flowed as we collapsed into each other’s arms with a joy I suspect is usually reserved for walking through the open gates of heaven.  In a single moment one hundred and seventy seven once perfect strangers surrendered to falling unconditionally in love with one other, and with all of humanity.  I – gratefully – was one with them.

One lasting image: five men – the masculine – dug in at the base of the wall selflessly lifting five others over the wall to be the bridge for us all.  Looking up from where I stood I saw in these five faces courage, strength and a resolve fully owned and expressed.  These five champions – first over the wall, and unplanned – were all women: the feminine.  They would be the link; the selfless sprits to elevate others to eventually take their place – including men.

That visual is a metaphor for my purpose.  Literally hours before leaving on this seven day journey I saw a film and took note of words from Emma Jung, psychoanalyst, author, and wife of Carl Jung, prominent psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology:  “Life,” she said, “is founded on the harmonious interplay of masculine and feminine forces, within the individual human being as well as without. Bringing these opposites into union is one of the most important tasks of humanity.

Art viewable at: Janet Snell

Unsolicited: PSI Seminars is the longest running personal development company in North America, and a pioneer in human potential training. What I’ve discovered of myself in their care is ineffable.  These 7 days were a scratching post to shed old skin, and free a child lost within.  With gratitude and love – ck

FREE HUGS! No, really.

First EmbraceTo hug, or not to hug!  This should never be the question; however, it was the main theme on a night when 16 friends and I spilled onto city streets brandishing homemade signs that simply read – Free Hugs!

It’s amazing what can be learned when accosting a stranger on a street corner – whether by mugging, or by hugging.  Confronted with the unexpected there’s no time for a reasoning brain to process a scripted response, or plan a clever way out. What comes out is raw human nature, the truth – fight, err, hug or flight.

Here’s the setup: 16 friends split up as if invited to a Noah’s Arc theme party – pairs of 2, one male and one female: we are the predator. Our playground, a busy street in downtown Calgary known for steady vehicular traffic and more important, a steady flow of people drifting in and out of coffee shops, bars and restaurants: they are our prey.

In this exercise, the predators offer open love in the form of Free Hugs to the prey. The bait is an inviting smile and open arms. What happens between humans under these forced conditions is life changing.

The games begin the moment eyeballs scan our handcrafted sign and it’s understood a Free Hug is there for the taking.

As the evening unfolded three distinct characters appeared: lovers, tweeners and the indifferent.

Lovers approach, scan the sign, capture your eyes and instantly it‘s like a tractor beam pulling them right into your arms. No fight, no resistance, and they are all in for hugging.

The indifferent ones, they sense what’s on the sign and immediately their force fields engage.  They’ll do anything to avoid any eye contact. Automatically, they’re in flight mode and even vocalizing an invitation, or engaging them with an irresistible warm smile and an open gate to walk right in won’t entice them to change their course. They will walk around you like doggie stoop left over on the sidewalk.

The tweeners, they look, they read, they avert their eyes, they pretend to talk on their cell phone; however, try as they might, they can’t quite keep the muscles in their face from contorting into an impish smile.  All it takes is a little encouragement, “come on you know you want a little free love”, and it’s like putting a magnet into a bag of nails, they suck themselves right into your arms and cling on for the ride.

Tweeners – after they’ve lapped up their fair share of hugs and love – are first with questions that usually betray their initial resistance.  Questions such as, so, what’s this all about, really?  Where are the cameras? What’s the catch?  Can I take a picture for my Facebook?

The lovers, they don’t care, they’ll stop at a red light, fight with their seat belts, leap from a rolling car, or roll down a window for a quickie hug. They’ll come out of warm buildings and brave the winter chill in a t-shirt just for a hug; they’ll even circle the block and shamelessly reappear requesting a brand new pair of hugs.

One lover example was a native man, a stout human being over 6” tall with alcohol fumes rising off his frame like heat rays on a desert highway. He stood directly in front of me, an inch between us, contrite in announcing in a booming voice that he was a raging alcoholic with a history of drug abuse, but leave no doubt, he gave the best hugs, ever.  I called him on it. To which he wrapped his bear like arms around me, lifted me off the sidewalk and squeezed so tight I felt like I was going to die in the coils of a python.  For a moment panic set in, however, even that was squeezed out of me and for a brief moment, as he held me suspended in mid air, I swear I felt this man’s very soul touch mine. He shared the same power hug with my partner, walked halfway down the block, stopped and yelled at the top of his lungs, “you guys are great”, stopped again, walked back to where we stood catching our breath and squished us again with another epic grip.  “I haven’t been hugged by anyone in six months”, were his fading words as he walked away into the night.

A tweener example were two young men in their early twenties, both looking fresh off a construction site.  One of the two seemed outwardly despondent, his companion compassionately egging him on into the arms of my beautiful partner.  He resisted silently only to finally relent, and melt. Literally, his eyes filled with tears, his body fell like fluid as though the weight of a planet had been taken from his shoulders. As he clung to the shoulders of my friend, time seemed to stand still as with joy I witnessed his disintegration and transformation from pain to gratitude. He said nothing, yet he said it all as he floated away down the street.

I believe I learned more about pure human nature, and honest one-on-one connection in one hour on a street corner hugging strangers than a shrink can gain from a patient months into couch therapy.  I know because I’ve been on that couch with my script prepared, my excuses polished and my defenses memorized.  When accosted on the street by a stranger there’s no time to prepare a script or craft an alibi, people can only react on instinct, be who they are without the mask.

If you ever do this exercise, and I highly recommend it, take at least one friend of the opposite sex as a partner.  It puts strangers at ease, diffuses any creep factor and takes the edge off any latent homophobic anxieties.

A few tips:

As the ‘hugger’ (the one offering Free Hugs) it’s critical you allow the ‘hug-e’ (the unsuspecting pedestrian) to take the lead during your brief dance together.

Some people will lean into a hug using only one arm, like you’re the dodgy uncle in the family and one hand needs to be free at all times just in case eyes need to be gouged, or some other escape tactic must be employed for a forceful escape.

Others hug like it’s a game of tag and after they’ve done what’s expected of them, which is to tap you quickly on the back or shoulder, they quickly disengage like a kid unsure just how long it actually takes for humans to catch cooties.

Still others hug as though their mimicking a stepladder – leaning in to connect with head and shoulders, however, all the sensitive human bits must be kept at a safe distance at all times.

And then there are those who just HUG!  They don’t give a rip about political correctness, or self-limiting social phobias.  They will pull you in like a well-worn easy chair and hold you until enough friction and heat has built up between bodies that you start to wonder – hey, do I know this person?  Well, you do now, and you’ve just made a genuine connection with another human being who’s telling you with actions not mere words – thanks, you don’t know how much I needed a hug.

ck

Art by Anna Shukeylo

Original FREE HUGS video