Guest Post by Evan Smith: Speaking Up About #MeToo

(Note from Karuna: I was looking at my nephew’s Facebook Page yesterday and found an entry on October 16 that touched me. In the post, Evan shared his reaction to the #metoo movement. I asked for and received permission to share his reflection as a guest post on my blog. Thank you Evan.)

I am reading about the #metoo movement today and I saw someone comment on the fact that while all the women are posting about it the men are staying silent. As the father to a future young woman, I don’t want to be one of the ones staying silent.

What I want to say is this: I don’t understand this problem. I don’t understand it because I’m not one of these men and can’t even begin to relate to the idea of forcing yourself either physically or verbally on a woman. I don’t feel like I was raised all that differently from most men in this country.

It’s not like I’m special in any way. When I see an attractive woman, I think to myself “she is great looking” but there isn’t any part of me that wants to do or say any more than that. Is it because I’m married? Is it because I have no intention of ever sleeping with anyone other than my wife? Does this problem exist because the slightest possibility of sex exists between these assholes and every woman with 2 legs?

So I want help understanding this. Guys, message me privately. If you are a guy that shouts at girls on the street in ways that you think is none threatening or you think you’re not hurting anyone, please message me. I want to understand what you don’t understand about this. Because this is about you. And I won’t assume that I don’t have any friends who do this. It won’t be the first time I learned a close friend has a surprising lack of respect for women.

My little girl will be a woman some day. If I ever witness her being attacked the way I have read about today, there will be no level of understanding or calm rationalism that will hold me back. And you can be sure I will raise her (along with my don’t-take-shit-from-anybody wife) to stand up for herself. But I would really like it if she got to mature in a world where this didn’t happen. We are supposedly the most civilized country on earth so how is this still happening? HOW are we not all on the same page here?

Guys, read the Me Too posts your friends are putting up and make sure you are NOT a part of this problem. Because I am positive most men don’t even realize they are doing it and think they are just giving compliments. Understand that you are bigger and stronger than these people because nature decided that was a good idea and when you do this you SCARE them. When you act like an ass you are ONE STEP away from raping them or worse and that is all they can think about when you do it. And it doesn’t matter if you get that or if it makes sense to you- JUST STOP.

Or maybe just stop because being a man grants you absolutely zero dominion over women and if you don’t 100% agree with that you have serious problems.

Daily Prompt: Banned

When I saw yesterday’s Daily Prompt was “Banned”, a memory came to my mind. Before I share what I recalled, let me give some back history.

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When my son Sreejit was a teenager he was into heavy metal rock music; he listened to it, played it on his guitar, and sang it. He wore black clothes most of the time. He even asked me to go to a couple of heavy metal concerts with him. It took some persuasion on his part, but I did go to hear LA Guns and Alice in Chains.

I drew a limit though when he decided he wanted a tattoo. There was no way I was going to support him in doing something that would permanently alter his body.

As I think about it today, I realize it was a good example of setting structure as a parent. As defined by Jean Illsley Clarke, there are four kinds of structure; rigid structure, non-negotiable rules, negotiable rules, and abandonment (no structure). Rigid structure and abandonment are forms of unhealthy structure; non-negotiable rules and negotiable rules are healthy. Non-negotiable rules should be based on safety of the child and/or family values. For me, no tattoo was a non-negotiable rule, it was banned.

Fast forward to 2013. Sreejit was visiting Seattle for the first time in several years. (He lives in Amritapuri, India.) His driver’s license had expired since his last visit, so he asked me if I would take him to get a tattoo. I was happy to do that. When he got back into the car, he showed me his new bicep tattoo.

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The words are Sanskrit and they mean “Through renunciation alone is immortality attained.” It is the motto of Amma’s ashram, the place where he lives.

Later Sreejit said to me, “I was pretty surprised you were willing to drive me to  get a tattoo.”  “Why wouldn’t I?” I asked.  “When I was a kid you were so against it.”  “That’s true, but you aren’t a kid any more!”  “Yeah, I figured, what am I waiting for?  I’m nearly forty.”

When I reflected on this interaction, I found it interesting that disapproval or questioning his decision didn’t even occur to me. Tattoos were more common in 2013’s culture than when he was a teenager, but that aside, it was truly okay with me for him to live his own life. If his life was in danger, or I thought something he wanted to do was extremely unwise, I would say so, but as an adult living on his own, there was no place in our relationship for rules.

I love having the memory of that shared experience, and appreciate the tangible example of how our relationship has moved to one that is adult to adult….. although for part of me Sreejit will always be my baby!

 

Written for Daily Prompt: Banned

Song Lyric Sunday: Sarasponda

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I decided to go off-theme again for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. When I posted Good Morning to You yesterday, a friend told me about a ditty she used to sing to her children. Her story reminded me of a song I sang to my children when they were infants. It is called Sarasponda.

I had wondered, even back then, what the song meant but I never looked into it. Yesterday I checked it out and was fascinated by what I learned.

Wikipedia said Sarasponda is believed to be of Dutch origin and it is thought to be a song that women sang when spinning at a spinning wheel. Many sources describe the lyrics as  nonsense words, but others think they are onomatopoeic and are meant to represent the sounds a spinning wheel makes as it spins.

It is a tune that is frequently sung around campfires so I probably learned it when I was a Girl Scout, or when I traveled across the U.S. with my church youth group in the mid 60’s.

Lyrics

Sarasponda, sarasponda, sarasponda ret set set

Sarasponda, sarasponda, sarasponda ret set set

A doray-oh, A doray-boomday-oh

A doray-boomday ret set set

Ah say pah say oh.

There are many YouTube versions of Sarasponda. The tune is the same in each version but the way it is presented is very different. I have decided to share three different versions.

Dancing Together

Every year, during the Onam festival, the Western residents in Amma‘s ashram in Amritapuri, India, create and perform a dance. It always contains a large group of people and many different segments. This year, for the first time, my daughter and son danced together during one of those segments. I haven’t seen the performance yet but I have seen some photographs. I am so proud of them.

(BTW, plays and dances in Amritapuri are always done barefoot.)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge 2

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When I saw Kathie’s WPC Edge photo on ChosenPerspectives this morning, it reminded me of an experience of my own.

One day, when my son was a young driver, he came home and parked the car in the driveway. Even though that was a frequent occurence, this time he forgot to pull up the parking break before he got out of the car. Our driveway is on a hill so the car rolled down the driveway and over the four-foot retaining wall at the end. It stopped at a two-foot statue of Buddha.

What I remember most about this incident is that I didn’t “lose it.” It has been a parenting moment that I have felt proud of ever since. At least in  my memory, I stayed very calm. I felt relieved that my son wasn’t hurt and knew he would learn from the experience. I promptly called a tow truck and had the car pulled up. I don’t believe there was even any damage to the car. I remember thanking the Buddha statue for stopping the rolling car.

I took this photo with a Polaroid camera. As I look at it now, it occurs to me that this incident may be why the trees in that area bend to the left. I’ve always thought it was because they were stretching towards a sunnier part of the yard!

 
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Challenge for Growth Prompt #10: Ending Food Waste

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Ending Food Waste

This week’s challenge is:

“Today I do not waste food.”

In 2012, the National Resources Defense Council of the U.S. concluded that Americans waste 40% of their food. Food is wasted at the farm level, between harvest and sale, during processing, during distribution, in grocery stores, in restaurants and in our homes. The study also reported that American’s throw out 25% of the food and beverages they buy. You can learn more about these statistics at: Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

Many children in my generation grew up with parents who demanded that they eat their food because of the starving kids in China. As a result, many of us learned to tune out that message and disregard the fact that there is some truth to that way of thinking. I believe it is important for us to become responsible citizens of the world.

That does not mean we should force ourselves or our children to eat when we/they aren’t hungry. It is also not about shaming people into cleaning their plates. Instead, I think we should focus on how much food we buy, how much we cook, and how much we put on our plates. Children will be more likely to finish eating their food if they are given small portions. They can always ask for more if they are still hungry after they finish the original serving. That is true for adults as well.

While these are U.S. statistics and may be higher than those in other countries, I doubt we are the only country with the problem. This week, for 1, 2, 3 days or longer focus on not wasting food.

Sometime during the week, write a post about some aspect of this topic or about experiences you had when you focused on ending food waste. Feel free to use whatever form you desire: i.e., prose, story, poem, photograph, etc.  (If you don’t have a blog, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.)

 

General Prompt Information:

New prompts will be posted at 5 a.m. (PST) every Wednesday.

Since it is easier to make behavioral changes if we focus on them one day at a time, each of the weekly challenges will start with “Today, I focus on…….” It will be up to you to decide how long you want to focus on a particular challenge— one, two, three days or even longer. At some point during the week, publish a post that relates in some way to the subject of the week.

Link your post back to this prompt post. If the pingback doesn’t work, then leave the link to your post in the comment section below.  Be sure to include “Challenge for Growth Prompts” as one of your tags.

Throughout the week, I will publish the links for the posts that were created as the result of this prompt.  I will also post the links from those who participated the previous week. That way they will be seen by anyone who comes to this page.

 

This week’s contributors to: Ending Food Waste

Challenge for growth/food waste- Annette’s Place

Food Waste: More Information to Ponder- Living, Learning and Letting Go

How about you?

 

Last week’s contributors to: Message to a Child

I Love You…- Living, Learning and Letting Go

saying it real (troiku ~ narrative)- Traces of the Soul

For You- Nik’s Place

I Love You…

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The Challenge for Growth Prompt that started on February 2 was to say something to a child that you wish someone had said to you when you were young.  I practice a developmental form of psychotherapy that derives from Transactional Analysis.  It uses a model that says that inside of us we have a parent part, an adult part and a child part.  There are subdivisions of these parts as well.

As clients heal from their childhood traumas and learn to parent their inner children in healthy ways, I have plenty of opportunity to talk to their child parts.  As a result, I say many things that I wish had been said to me.

There are six stages of development and each one has its own developmental tasks.  For example the first stage is called the Being stage.  It lasts from 0 to 6 months of life.  Two of the tasks children are supposed to learn during the Being stage are that they are loved and wanted and that their needs are important.  If those tasks aren’t learned, it may leave a developmental gap that could last throughout life.

Pamela Levin and Jean I. Clarke both created sets of developmentally based affirmations.  Pamela’s series offers five affirmations for each stage and Jean’s has seven or eight.  Jean includes a “Love” affirmation for each stage.  If you look below, you will see the developmental tasks, the age ranges, and the Love affirmations.  A child needs to begin hearing the affirmation when the developmental stage starts and continue hearing it forever.  For example, we need to hear that we are loved and cared for from the beginning of our lives until the end.

 

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Being (0-6 months)
I love and care for you willingly.

 

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Doing (6-18 months)
I love you when you are active and when you are quiet.

 

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Thinking (18 months to 3 years)
You can become separate from me and I will continue to love you.

 

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Identity and Power (3 -6 years)
I love who you are.

 

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Structure (6-12 years)
I love you even when we differ; I love growing with you.

 

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Identity, Sexuality and Separation (13- 18 years)
My love is always with you.  I trust you to ask for my support.

 

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Interdependence (Adult)
You are lovable at every age.

 

Consider saying the age appropriate Love affirmations to children that you know… and to the “children” that live within you!

***

To learn more about the stages of development, the developmental affirmations, and how to fill in developmental gaps read:

Cycles of Power by Pamela Levin

Growing Up Again by Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

 

Challenge for Growth Prompt #9: Message to a Child

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Message to a child

This week’s challenge is:

“Today I say something to a child that I wish
had been said to me when I was young.”

 

Did you hear the things that you needed to hear during your formative years?  Were you given enough guidance, enough love, enough validation?  Are there words that you wish you had heard from your parents or other adults during your childhood or teenage years?

This week, for 1, 2, 3 days or longer say something to a child (or teenager) that you wish had been said to you when you were young.

Sometime during the week, write a post about some aspect of this topic or about experiences you had when you spoke to the youngster(s). Feel free to use whatever form you desire: i.e., prose, story, poem, photograph, etc.  (If you don’t have a blog, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.)

 

General Prompt Information:

New prompts will be posted at 5 a.m. (PST) every Wednesday.

Since it is easier to make behavioral changes if we focus on them one day at a time, each of the weekly challenges will start with “Today, I focus on…….” It will be up to you to decide how long you want to focus on a particular challenge— one, two, three days or even longer. At some point during the week, publish a post that relates in some way to the subject of the week.

Link your post back to this prompt post. If the pingback doesn’t work, then leave the link to your post in the comment section below.  Be sure to include “Challenge for Growth Prompts” as one of your tags.

Throughout the week, I will publish the links for the posts that were created as the result of this prompt.  I will also post the links from those who participated the previous week. That way they will be seen by anyone who comes to this page.

 

This week’s contributors to: Message to a Child

I Love You…- Living, Learning and Letting Go

saying it real (troiku ~ narrative)- Traces of the Soul

For You- Nik’s Place

How about you?

Last week’s contributors to: Stop Repetitive Thinking

“Stay in the Present and Stop Thinking” – Living, Learning and Letting Go

Stop Repetitive Thinking- Home and Loving It

Mind: Shut Up Already!- Traces of the Soul

Challenge for Growth Prompt #8/stop repetitive thinking- Annette’s Place

Tools for Dealing with Repetitive Thinking- Living, Learning and Letting Go

My thinking corner/thoughts for the week- Annette’s Place

Hush…- Nik’s Place

 

Please Listen to Me

When I started my psychotherapy practice in 1987, I hung a poster titled “Please Listen to Me” on my group room wall. Even though it is no longer on the wall, I think of the content often. I believe it contains important information for everyone, but might be especially helpful to those of you who are participating in this week’s Challenge for Growth prompt.

Please Listen to Me

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do, just hear me. Advice is cheap: 50 cents will get you both Dorothy Dix and Dr Spock in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself I’m not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself you contribute to my fear and weakness. But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice. So, please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn; and I’ll listen to you.

Author Unknown

Perfection is Not the Goal!

“We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.”
Martin Buber

I have a tendency to mull over past mistakes. I am even more likely to do that when I have made mistakes that hurt my children in some way. There are times I still cringe when I think of ways I treated them during their childhood and teenage years.

It is true that I, like most parents, did the best I could even though I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do a perfect job of parenting. And like most parents, I was often too tired and worn down to always do the right thing. I have no doubt that I was a “good enough parent” but when I am “in my stuff” I expect myself to have been perfect.

For me, redemption comes when I see how they are in the world as adults. Sreejit is 40 years old and has lived in Amma’s California or India ashram since he was 19. He is committed to his spiritual path and to serving the world by supporting Amma’s charitable projects. He does this by being one of the main cooks for the Western Canteen in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. In addition, he is a gifted musician, author, song writer, blogger and poet.

Chaitanya is 37 years old and has lived in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram since her 21st birthday. She too is avidly committed to her spiritual path and to supporting Amma in any way possible. She is a born leader, responsible for managing Amritapuri’s Western Canteen and Café. In addition, she is a gifted writer, director and choreographer of Broadway style musicals.  When people need support, they often seek her out.

Both of them are loved and respected by all who know them; and they are wise beyond their years. I have had numerous people tell me “If you ever question that you have done things right (in life), all you need to do is take a look at your kids.”

Both Chaitanya and Sreejit have told me how valuable it was for them to have had the life experiences they had as they were growing up. I regularly see them using knowledge, skills, and attitudes that have their roots in things they learned from their dad and me. They took those teachings and then developed them as they became the people they are today.

As Buber said, “We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.” When mistakes I made in the past come to mind, I need to remind myself to look at the bigger picture. My children learned from any mistakes I made and are better people because of them. My being perfect would not have even been in their best interest. I only need to look at the “fruit of my actions” to know I was a good parent!

 

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Redemption Song