Hestia – December 2016

A Dose of Reality for Wisdom Woman

Mata’s serene world fell apart when her husband Alfiie dropped dead of a heart attack. He collapsed in their vegetable garden while picking tomatoes for their evening salad. He was her sentinel; keeping the world at bay so that Mata could lead the wisdom-centered life required by her Hestia nature.

As a retired professor, Alfie had lived in his books. Mata was a local guru; a kind, sagacious woman with a rye sense of humor. She taught yoga once a week in her barn, situated on four rustic acres tucked into their ex-urban Virginia community. She also dispensed wisdom to sleep deprived professionals who lingered after class, nervous about their marriage messes, road rage encounters, and too many options.

Are you a Hestia?

  • Do you prize time for reflection?
  • Friends call you “wise woman” or “old soul”?
  • You like to dwell on the big picture and can intuit consequences of actions.
  • Troubled people gravitate to you because you are discreet and forgiving.
  • You avoid “high drama” and disputes.

Mostly Mata kept to herself; detached from our hyper-connected world. Need I say somewhat morally superior to Facebook, Linked-In, even cell phones.

Then a tree landed on her house during a storm. Before his sudden demise, Alfie tended to the mundane details of life: bills, house repairs, lawn mowing, etc. Now that Mata had no roof over her head, she was forced to face reality — rarely strong skill in monastic spiritual types. Meditation, herbal tea – even pot – couldn’t calm her nerves.

She swallowed the bitter pill and called her son Todd, a hard-nosed lawyer. He invariably took a no-nonsense approach to facing an emergency. Negotiations began. Manta feared being torn from her wooded sanctuary, but she loathed the idea of becoming a charity case.

Todd generously pointed out that she occupied a valuable place in the community. Letting down his guard, he admitted: “Half my friends seek you out to dust themselves off, confess their grievances, ambivalences, hungry for your compassion. Now’s the time to call in the favors. Get a techie to set up a website for you. Give online courses in meditation. Ask a handy person to pitch in with house repairs.” He paused and added: “Leverage your assets. Rent out the barn to free lancers who need space on a part-time basis.”

Mata parked her guru snobbery and contacted friends and yoga clients. Once she got the hang of it, she even allowed Facebook fans to ‘intrude’ on the quiet early mornings normally spent with tea and hummingbirds. Extroverting at this point in her life helped her overcome her grief at Alfie’s loss. She even took up swing dancing.

Confession: The Hestia in me can go for 48 hours listening to the fountain in my garden. Metaphorically speaking, I don’t always hear the storm coming. My early pattern has served me well, as had Mata’s – solitary and introspective, taking things in, digesting and processing. Sometimes when a tree falls, it’s a signal that the time is ripe to move on out with your gifts and balance your hermit consciousness.

TIPS

  • Practice saying yes to ‘change’.
  • Fake it till you make it.
  • Attend social media courses at the library.
  • Become a phone virtuoso so you don’t have to be out and about more than you can bear.

The bonus from these initiatives is a heightened sense of self-sufficiency. There’s nothing like paying your own way to feel like a very wise woman – particularly when you have so much else going for you. You are more than a sum of your parts – you are a confluence of cosmic forces.

Artemis – December 2016

Who Knows What Might Happen?

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” — May Sarton

It happened again yesterday. Not exactly the same as in the past, but the tone and resulting feeling left me anxious and I couldn’t return to sleep. The dream: I can’t seem to get out – there are too many nasty animals circling the house, snapping and snarling. The back-story: my introverted Self doesn’t like to hear from my editor that its time to start a blog. All I wanted to do was write a book and now she’s telling me I need to let people know about it! For this one who lives up in the woods, it’s like opening my door to chaos. Who knows what might happen?

Well, there it is. ‘Who knows what might happen?’ is the precursor to a spicy adventure. If the goddess Artemis, of Greek mythology fame, could travel with coyotes and wolves during predawn, why can’t I?

She’s taught me to fend off other intruders in my psyche who challenge me when I initiate a new project – they’re always lurking around trying to keep me in my place. But when I call on Artemis, I’m free to roam – she brings confidence and independence into my quiet life to juice it up. I’m never sure what might happen when her energy is prompting me – she’s stoked.

What skills, or mind-set, do you need to develop a kick-ass attitude? It may go something like this:

  • Who do they think they are?
  • I know what’s right for me.
  • I know exactly where I’m going with this.
  • This ain’t my first rodeo………..

When you think about moving out of your comfort zone, what aspects of yourself have you given up in order to gain approval from important others? When you were young, this was called surviving! If you aspired to be the ‘perfect daughter’, what are some patterns that need to be shucked – just like an ear of corn.

What are you afraid would happen if you followed your cosmic YES? What fears pop up?

  • How do you maintain these restricting fears?
  • What do you get from holding on to them?
  • There is always a payoff, so be honest with your self.

What attributes or characteristics from your past would be useful on your next adventure?

And what could be the glorious, exciting outcome if you followed that YES?

Spend time picturing yourself in the outcome. Sensualize it: see it, hear it, taste it, smell it. Take a deep breath and feel your guts relax. Focus on the quality of the experience you want to create. Use adjectives to describe your noun/verb goal. How do you feel in your fantasy?

Once you’re feeling it in your fantasy life, you can step into it in your real life: that’s manifesting! Hint: instead of saying you want to live in a big house feeling free and grand, you might say you want to live feeling free and grand. How can you accomplish that goal now? Go Ahead – I Dare Ya!

 

 

 

 

 

Athena – December 2016

Converted Her Anger to Energy

“Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” — Erica Jong

Like many successful women, Carlotta was coached in the ways of the world by her ‘take no prisoner’s’ father and she rose in the ranks of TV journalism to become producer of a top ratings news show.

On this day, the stress of her one-year marriage collided with the stress of her job and Carlotta was pushed to the boiling point. Her assistant, Nancy, had screwed up the show’s lineup of graphics and Carlotta blew. Calvin, the boss, witnessed the scene.

Leading her into his office, he said: “Take a one-month’s leave of absence. This is a directive, not an option.”

Carlotta grabbed her coat and briefcase, exiting with the line: “My job better be here when I get back.”

Calvin was silent. Then said: “We’ll see. Get some therapy.”

She collapsed into a cab sobbing. What could she tell her laid-back husband Tony? He was self-employed as a computer programmer, a Type B personality who appreciated her Type a drive but recoiled from her anger and impatience.

But this time she was too crushed to rant about the ineptitude of those who worked for her – Tony felt the seriousness of her mental state and looked after her. In this period when she was totally exhausted, she appreciated his nurturing side.

Instead of shock and shame about the scene she threw at the office, her thoughts ran like this:

  • If she lost her job, she’d never get another one.
  • How could she ever re-gain the respect of her boss and her peers?
  • She didn’t even want to think about how disappointed her parents would be in her.

Tony helped Carlotta find a therapist who diplomatically pointed out that she was taking too much credit for successes in her department at the network, and was too quick to blame her team for the failures. This focus on protecting her self-esteem crippled her relationships and stunted her personal growth.

Role-playing different scenarios around the incident at work led to further self-awareness. Though this exploration was hard work, Carlotta began to take off some of her shiny armor and became able to see that she had been too busy blaming Nancy when she could have explained what the news segment actually needed. She often felt caught in a cycle of anger, self-defense and blame – a pattern she had to let go.

She wrote a sincere letter of apology to her assistant, detailing her many accomplishments and how much she valued Nancy. She forwarded it to her boss.

This led to some frank, sometimes painful conversations with Calvin during which Carlotta admitted that she had a short fuse. If she didn’t change her reputation, it would limit her career.

Working further with the therapist, she talked about her relationship with Tony. “He’s pressing me to have a baby.” We agreed to two when me got married.” Now that Carlotta was at home and feeling needy, they were have sex on a daily basis. It was doing wonders for her disposition, but the baby issue was looming larger.

“Tony works at home. He’s not a chauvinist. You can work it out.”

Carlotta got her job back. The personality changes made her fresher, more creative and efficient. She even reached the point where she could laugh at her competitiveness and perfectionism.

Are you an Athena?

  • Are you too aggressive and demanding at work?
  • Do you make enemies of the very people you count on to obey your orders?
  • Are you tough with everyone around you?
  • How do you respond to an ego-deflating situation?

Consider:

  • Your expectations – of self and others.
  • Watch your rationalizations.
  • Listen to how you justify your anger.
  • Change your language to one of support and see what happens.

Hera – December 2016

Dominique Trims Her Sails

 “I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”  — Nora Ephron

When Dominique’s husband Calvin left her for an easygoing bohemian artist named Willow, she wasn’t a good sport about it. Dominique played hardball and got the house, Mercedes, and enough money to continue her lifestyle — bait to attract another successful husband. This time she’d bag a guy who would appreciate her formidable skills as a professional wife.

The only sticking point was the yacht club. It held more power, and rivaled the Episcopalian church in terms of exclusivity in this shoreline New England enclave. Calvin, whose grandfather had established the club, was currently the commodore. Worse, Calvin showed no guilt in bringing Willow to club festivities. Since Dominique was in charge of the Memorial Day kickoff party, she dreaded the evening.

Never underestimate the extent to which a woman with Hera characteristics will go for revenge. While helping a server arrange the food on the buffet table, Dominique learned that the server had lined up a job in North Carolina but was worried about travel expenses. So Dominique whispered that she would give the woman $100 if she would “accidentally” spill a glass of red wine on Willow.

The scheme worked beautifully – but with unintended consequences.

Willow laughed off the stains on her paisley dress, which endeared her to the members at her table.

Crisis. At that moment, Dominique realized that since she was now Calvin’s ex-wife, her membership was in jeopardy. And she knew many of the club insiders resented her take-charge ways. They felt relaxed around Calvin and Willow. How could she continue to keep her position among those whose esteem she prized?

Did Dominique understand she had choices? What would you do?

  • Turn off your animosity and graciously welcome Willow into the fold?
  • Keep ranting? Bad idea. Others will soon tire of you bad-mouthing your Ex.
  • Get real. Deal with Calvin more directly – let him know how difficult this transition is for you?
  • Let go of the past. Dig deep into your skill set. Find another purpose to enhance your life, rather than count on a boyfriend or another husband to do it for you.

Goddess Tip: Take ownership of your control freak-mindset. Try hands off, instead of hands on. Let your husband, children, friend, or colleague come up with another way of tackling a project. Collaboration opens the door to harmonious solutions.

 

Aphrodite – December 2016

Nobody’s Fool

“Aphrodite had the beauty; Zeus had the thunderbolts. Everyone loved Aphrodite, but everyone listened to Zeus.” — Esther M. Friesner

Let me tell you about Simone. She was an Aphrodite, a delicious Aphrodite – vibrant, sensuous, smelling like sunshine, and bestowing her charms on anyone drawn into her magnetic field.

Simone worked in sales at a prominent art gallery in Palm Beach. It was just the right job for someone as delightful as Simone to meet interesting wealthy men. And while Simone had many romances with blue chip boyfriends, none culminated in a trip to the altar. Her 30th birthday loomed like a menacing cloud.

But now Phineas, a handsome New York lawyer with political ambitions, was in the picture and she was sure he would propose. Six months earlier he insisted Simone move out of her apartment and into his condo. He vowed he’d love her forever.

Well, Simone came home one day to dress for an opening in the gallery. She was in the bedroom when Phineas entered the living room with his financial advisor Malcolm. Simone leaned behind the slightly ajar bedroom door thinking she would learn more about his finances. To her horror, Phineas explained to Malcolm that he was planning to run for office and he was about to propose to a woman named Emma in New York. He added, “I want to sell the condo right away.”

Just like that, Simone learned that not only Phineas had betrayed her, but she was also loosing a place to live. Despite the impulse to cause a scene, she kept silent.

At the gallery opening Simone couldn’t hold back her tears. Dorothy, the business director quickly shuffled her to a room away from the crowd and listened to the tale of woe.

Handing Simone a Kleenex, Dorothy said: “You have leverage. Phineas comes from old money and he’s running for office. Decide what you want and make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

That evening, after a bracing Scotch and water, Simone announced in a steady voice: “You used me and now you plan to toss me aside and get on with your career with a woman you hid from me. I emotionally invested in you, losing 10 months of my life when I could have put my energy into a solid, mature, man. You are a cad – with a well-known name. I’m selling my story to the tabloids.”

Stunned, Phineas asked, “What do you want?”

“One hundred fifty thousand dollars. With it, I’ll start my own gallery.”

“I’ll give you a hundred thousand if you sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

“It’s a deal. As long as I can also live rent free in this condo for one year.”

Oh, if only more Aphrodites were as smart as Simone. In one traumatic day she realized she had to take herself seriously, decide what she wanted and make a plan to get it. But many Aphrodite women let themselves get so snowed by love’s awesome promises and their own animal magnetism that they become victims of their own fantasies.

Are you an Aphrodite?

  • How do you regard your body, its sexuality?
  • Do you rely more on your looks than your brains?
  • Do often feel entitled to a free pass due to your beauty/charm?
  • Can you laugh about getting older — or does it frighten you too much?
  • Do you spend lots of money on clothes and makeup instead of, say, a career-building course?

Once you develop your own treasure trove of skills, you will no longer project them on to the man in your life. You are free to claim them for yourself and use them with confidence in managing your world. Then you’ll be an irresistible charmer who is nobody’s fool.

Demeter – December 2016

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” — Janis Joplin

Demeter women smile with their eyes. People gravitate toward these women. You can pick them out in a crowd – they are warm, vibrant, nurturing. You may be one of them.

Natalie is a caretaker par excellence. Sometimes she’s in danger of going overboard: taking charge, smothering, and relinquishing her needs. She easily becomes so wrapped up in someone else’s wellbeing and their problems that she looses her own center.

Here’s the deal. Natalie had agreed to caretake her friend Joyce’s dog, Tom-Tom, for 10 weeks last spring while Joyce and her partner planned to take a sabbatical in Greece. She was excited for them to have this opportunity. Natalie had just taken on a new puppy, Gypsy Girl who adored Tom-Tom. Win—win.

But the sabbatical was unexpectedly postponed for a year. The time arrived. Six weeks before Tom-Tom was expected at Natalie’s she realized her current life could not possibly include another full time responsibility i.e. Tom-Tom. Over the past year she had committed to two long-term projects that were beginning to take shape, each needing constant attention. Like twins. What was she to do?

Why does the choice have to be between showing up for her Self, and showing up for her friends? Demeter’s daily mantra, “Sure, I’ll do it.” Smile. Smile. Smile. Being unaccustomed to asserting her boundary limit, Demeter women are constantly thrown off their game. Natalie knew she faced an opportunity to shift a deeply embedded pattern – flying away from her own center of activity to support another. This old habit undercut her own sense of wellbeing and the possibilities she was manifesting in her own life.

A dream showed the challenge being revealed on Natalie’s inner landscape: Artemis, the independent goddess, led the way into a cave. There, lit up and warmed by the fire is a new baby girl. Artemis instructs Natalie how to care for and feed this new life, protecting it while keeping intruders at bay. Her therapist continued to hold a reality check in front of Natalie’s ambivalence, reminding her that Joyce had 6 full weeks to make other arrangements for Tom-Tom. This was cutting edge growth material for this caretaking woman who had to take responsibility for how she was about to sabotage herself, again.

If you are a Demeter type woman, do you recognize when you are feeling disconnected from your center? Are you aware of when and how you abandon yourself? Natalie took the risk – met the challenge of disappointing a friend by gently and evenly asserting her own needs – explaining that this was not the right time for her to further extend herself. She was very sorry because of course friction was created between them. And they worked it out eventually.

Moving through this sort of empowering experience, the Demeter woman learned that in the future she could be well intentioned and serve others in bits and pieces, without fully giving herself away.

 

 

Persephone – December 2016

Are You Playing the Wounded Card?

 “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Tina Fey

As a psychotherapist, I see many young women who are “Persephones.” This personality type is based on the Greek goddess Persephone who was abducted by Hades, king of the Underworld. Wrenched from her mother Demeter, the beautiful maiden plunged into depression.

Many children and teenagers experience an emotional trauma growing up, but some young women notice early on that they are getting attention and special consideration when they recite their tale of woe. Their retelling becomes habitual, even embellished.

Sally is a case in point. She was a happy only child until her brother was born. Her parents, who had been trying for years to have a second child, lavished the darling boy with affection. Sally felt abandoned, particularly by her mother. She recited her plight not only to her parents but also to her relatives.

In high school, Sally gravitated toward students on the fringe, who encouraged her resentment of the “in” cliques. Her loose ill-fitting clothes reinforced her image as Sad Sack Sally. She became an injustice collector: “My teacher who gave me a poor grade didn’t like me.” “The gymnastics coach is a bully.”

When she was 16, Sally went on vacation with her family to a Miami hotel. While they sat around the pool one evening, Sally said she was taking a walk around the grounds. Instead, hearing a party, she wandered into a nearby dive. There she quickly met a handsome guy who plied her with a couple drinks. He suggested they move on to a hipper place. As they walked towards his car, Sally felt his hand tighten on her wrist. Fear gripped her.

At that moment, a squad car pulled up and cops got out and arrested the young man. Sally burst into tears. One of the cops took her aside and explained they had been tailing him because he was reported to be molesting young women. “Why do I always have bad luck?’ Sally asked in despair.

The cop replied in a no-nonsense attitude: “You are a target for predators because of the way you dress and conduct yourself. Men like this guy troll for vulnerable women who look like they need a friend. Unless you change, something like this is going to happen again.”

This encounter changed Sally. An experience on the dark side was a wake-up call to move onto another track. In therapy, she listened to herself: “Why do I always have bad luck?” She figured out the encounters and triggers that set her to wallowing in self-pity. And she learned, by practicing, how to stand for herself in situations where she’s uncomfortable. She stopped resenting her parents and classmates. She cooperated with her gymnastics coach and made it to the seasons’ regional meet.

How about you? Do you find yourself slipping into Persephone mode? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you burning people out with your constant complaints?
  • Are you super sensitive to slights?
  • Do you sulk often?
  • Is your voice negative, complaining or whiny?

You can learn about separation and loss, assessing strengths and limitations from her experience. Reality check is serious business. You begin to listen to your intuition to anticipate when you are vulnerable to being blindsided.

When faced with choices, can you say?

  • yes,
  • no,
  • maybe,
  • not now,
  • maybe later,
  • never?

Tip: Go ahead. Write these on post-its and scatter them on your mirror. Practice. Hear yourself saying them every day. Put some attitude into it.

Once you’re able to set limits and boundaries, your voice becomes deeper, you stand taller. People begin to take you seriously. You’re more grounded. You no longer look like you’re waiting to be swept away.

Your habitual security patterns were challenged in the Underworld. Once you’ve integrated your struggles, become accountable and responsible to yourself, you can be especially helpful to others who are seeking fresh, more appropriate aspects of their own personalities.

Welcome to My Blog!

Falling Awake in an Upside Down World

Women love to reinvent themselves every few years. You have a burning desire to step up and be the heroine of your own life – to consider possibilities, to be your own authority, free to make choices.

“In each of us is another whom we do not know.” Carl Jung

Your question probably becomes something like ‘how can I set sail through the narrows of transition and move on to the next phase of my journey?’ Then, ‘But what if……?’

Creative forces pop up to mobilize your energies when needed to usher in another life phase. Lying deep within your psyche is this divine sorority of goddesses – Persephone, Demeter, Aphrodite, Hera, Athena, Artemis and Hestia – inner templates ready to explore life on the conscious level. Their wisdom is as relevant now as it was in ancient times.

Faced with a challenge? Become unstuck through the innovative tools I’ve developed as a psychotherapist. Each goddess will empower you through her unique insights, strengths and limitations:

  • Shuck self-destructive patterns
  • Face challenges without panicking
  • Make bold life-changing decisions in the midst of crisis
  • Pass through chaos into another aspect of personal power
  • Go for Wholeness -no need to be perfect.
  • Fall awake in an upside down world into a deeply satisfying life.

Persephone

A Lightning Rod for Disaster. She finds her strength within the victim’s story and moves out of the Underworld. Because her direction has been unsure, it may not be till mid-life for this vulnerable goddess to wake up from her bad dream. Then she accepts responsibility for herself and nails a solid purpose in which to ground her skills.

Demeter

The Nurturer who becomes pregnant with her own possibilities. Once she hits burnout, she finds her leverage and steps down from sacrificing all her energies to other peoples passions.

Aphrodite

The Lusty Lover Girl – too sexy to sleep alone. She creates a magnetic attraction in order to worship a man’s raw, phallic energy. Fickle in love, her dazzling power to seduce can cause great pain, when all she wants to do is open all our senses by bringing the Divine down into this earthly realm.

Hera

The Homefront Heroine swims in the tidal currents of marriage. Seeking to be completed by her powerful husband she becomes too dependent on him. Grasping too tight a leash on the marriage sets up her betrayal. Eventually, she finds authenticity.

Athena

Career Woman and change agent in the market place. She knows how to set goals, strategize and negotiate to make progress. Once she’s betrayed by The Boys Club, she digs deep to find her feminine ground. Then she becomes a more effective, compassionate and flexible leader.

Artemis

Wonder Woman. She’s our kick-ass sister. Resilient, prickly, adventurous, independent and sexually fluid, she wastes no time with emotional pirates. Learns to cool her jets and make apologies when she judges too harshly. After all, others have their own truths.

Hestia

The Intuitive Visionary who keeps the Sacred Flame burning for everyone in the community. She sets the pace for global spiritual evolution. People seek her wisdom because she knows how to stay grounded in the midst of chaos and disorder.

My journey through life has been chockablock with challenges: Raised by glamorous misbegotten parents; Hop-scotching from one notable prep school to another; Playing with danger race car driving, and staying sane through a 22-year marriage to a charming sociopath. But I survived and flourished.

How? At each juncture, a goddess came to my rescue. I thank: Artemis for strength; Aphrodite for sex appeal; Persephone for balance; Demeter for knowing how to mother; Hera for holding tight to some traditional values; Athena for the guts and business savvy to succeed in my profession, and Hestia for teaching me how to stay centered while living my vision.

Read my forthcoming blogs on these stimulating Goddesses. As a psychotherapist, I’ve developed some tools to move deeper into life’s journey. I want to hear how you resonate with my ideas. My book, A Mythic Sisterhood will be on the market soon. Until then, comments, please. Questions? Thunderbolts? You’re probably looking at your own life and asking: “What risks do I have to take to find out what else is possible?”