Out of Joint with Life

30 Dec

AnnetteTaboo-header

by Annette Wagner, Managing Editor

Today I am writing about one of those Hidden Stories in my life which I constantly struggle with. A story that began when I was five years old. A story my child self took in as truth but one which holds no truth whatsoever. A story that feels like it has glued itself to my mind and the only way to get it out is to scrape every synapse clean. It goes like this:

Thou must MAKE MONEY.
Making money is the prime directive.
If you make money you are successful.
If you make money you are secure.
If you make money you are a good person.
If you make money everything will be ok.

This story came into my life violently. I was in the back seat of a car driving to my aunt and uncle’s house one Sunday. My dad was driving; mom was in the front seat next to him. My mom was asking us kids questions to entertain us. When she asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, I excitedly bounced up and down and said, I want to be an artist! It was my secret desire even then.

My father reacted immediately in anger. He yelled at me, “You never want to be an artist. You never want to be someone who makes things with their hands. You will never make any money.” I felt like he had stabbed me in my heart and I threw myself back in the seat in crying hysterically while my mother told him to shut up. All I could think was I must be horribly wrong and bad to have made my father that angry with me.

One of the insidious impacts of this story on my life was the assertion that I would never make money as an artist. My father has always been obsessed with making money and he continually pounded the idea into our heads that our only focus in life must be to make money. Sadly, he was never actually very good at managing any money he did make so having money was always an issue too.

Doorway of Abundance by Annette Wagner

Doorway of Abundance by Annette Wagner, 2012

My poor child brain took in this story and connected being an artist with not making money and therefore not something I “should” do.  It influenced my choices in life in many ways. What I majored in in college, what jobs I chose, etc. It is a very hard thing to be driven by a pattern that does not fulfill or satisfy or support me on a heart level. To be honest, I hate this hidden story with a vengeance. I’d like to poke it in the eye with a sharp stick.

I hate the way my brain falls into this pattern of assuming I must DO something to make money every time I finish a painting. It presents this list of options like, well, its obvious I must create an Etsy listing and post the price on Facebook and send out a blog post. The critic points out how much I spend, how little I make, and so on.

My reaction? To dig in my heels and stubbornly resist. Which I know isn’t particularly healthy. Which makes me feel like I am out of joint with how I am “supposed to” live life. Which is why I’ve been steadily working this pattern for the last several years to shift it into something I can live with.

I don’t have any answers. I do have intention and I happen to know in my heart and body that intention can whomp any hidden stories, no matter how insidious they are. I know this because I’ve worked with Intentional Creativity for many years now. So my plan is to intention the hell out of the “making money” story until it rolls over and becomes something that supports my heart, mind, and body in rich and creatively wonderful ways.

***

Annette painting in rocksAnnette Wagner, M.A.,  is a Visionary Artist, Color of Woman Intentional Creativity teacher, Art Doctor, author, and shamanic practitioner.  She paints in the Contemporary Symbolism style and works extensively with metaphor, symbol, and color. She is also the Managing Editor of the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine

Annette studied with American Master painter Sue Hoya Sellars and has a Masters in Women’s Spirituality  from Sofia University. Her background includes over 25 years of hi-tech experience including 21 patents. She is owned by her dancing daughter, two cat beings, the man of her heart, and her Muse. You can view her artwork, visit her Etsy shop, and read more about Annette at:www.annettewagnerart.com

Holidays, Cosmic Cowgirl Style

23 Dec

CC-xmas-hat-web

It’s that time of the year again.

No, not the holiday crazies, shopping crazies, or family crazies time of year. Yes, it is that time of year too, but the one we are talking about is different. Because, well, we are Cosmic Cowgirls and we do things differently.

We wear wild like a badge over our hearts.
We do community like it’s a blanket wrapping us up.

We create and create and create some more.
We love and yell and muse and eat chocolate.
We hold space like it includes the moon and the stars
which of course it does.

We are linked with a red thread blazing new trails
and connecting us to old ones.

We are addicted to insanely outrageous cowgirl boots.
We dance with abandon, sparkles, and huge laughter.
We are Cosmic and amazing and uniquely US.

So in this time of Solstice, new moons, ends of year, holiday breaks, holiday put-back-togethers, and beginnings of year, we send ‘round the red thread of Cosmic-ness to each and every one of you. Because, as Shiloh tells us, love truly is at the center of all our choices and where we choose to be is in red thread circle with you.

From all of us at Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine to all of you – have an outrageously wonderful holiday!
Annette

***

Cosmic Cowgirls like to do things differently in case you didn’t notice. While we love the regularity of holiday traditions we also like to mix things up and stir things up during this time – yes that means creating art, journaling, painting, making a vision board. Part of being Cosmic is a choice to be conscious – and we do that through choosing how we relate to this season!

My gift to you – ten fabulous ideas on how to create a meaningful holiday celebration!

Shiloh Sophia, Chief Laughing Cloud

***

While you’re working for peace, don’t forget to work for PLEASURE!

Happy holidays,
Ti

***

Amidst the fullness and weight of holiday commitments, obligations, and pleasures, my wish for you is a moment to bask in the beauty of you.  It can be hard to do sometimes, with all of the pull of wouldas, couldas and shouldas.  However, this holiday season, I hope you see your beauty, notice your charm, pull out your tenacity and cradle it.  I hope you know how truly magical you are.

With love,
Steph

***

During this time of (occasionally forced) jolly it is my wish that you take time to do exactly what feeds your soul. The phrase I stumbled upon for this part of year is “hope invented“. Because in all those moments we are not naturally buoyed up, it’s a call to pull back, shore up our boundaries and create hope for ourselves. Whether that’s art or eggnog I honor your choices!

Big Love,
Jena

***

happy 2015My Darling Cowgirls ~ Know that you are my dream come true – a gathering of women and girls who love, laugh, cry tears, create and play together; who reach out a hand to one another; who are from every walk of life and learn from each other’s differences and uniqueness and revel in their own.

You are the tribe and family of my heart and you ROCK! Wishing you a 2015 filled with love and tenderness; creativity and self-care; laughter and friendship; abundance and good health.

~ Stella Mac

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.  ~Virginia Woolf

***

From Michelle…

My Wish For You - Michelle Fairchild

 

Sharing Your Sexuality

16 Dec

TiHeaderFireTending2Sharing Your Sexuality

by Ti Klingler

This series on sexuality began HERE,
if you’d like to get the full monty, er, story!

In this sexuality series, we’ve talked about tending your fire, owning your sexuality, and pleasure and orgasm. What we haven’t talked about is adding another person, or a few, to the mix. That’s very intentional. The first step of having a great sexual encounter or sex life with another is knowing your own body, preferences, and responses. The second step is clarifying your intention. Only then is it time to make plans and take action.

If you wanted to create an amazing garden, would you sit down and say, “It’s a natural process. If it’s meant to be, it will just happen”? Of course not! To do it well, you’d read, talk to successful gardeners, learn about soil and climate, and figure out if you wanted flowers, vegetables, hedges, or a mix. Then you’d experiment to see what works for you, what doesn’t, and you’d keep refining the process.

Leila (original painting and pic by Wendy Ward of www.themermaidmuse.com) is the perfect illustration of tuning into yourself.

Leila (original painting and pic by Wendy Ward of http://www.themermaidmuse.com) is the perfect illustration of tuning into yourself.

There’s a myth that sex will figure itself out, as if it’s an entity outside of us. It IS us! If you don’t know what you want out of a particular sexual encounter or an ongoing sexual relationship (including the relationship with yourself), you’re unlikely to get it. What do you want? What are your sweetest and wildest fantasies? What do you want to explore, safely and fully, and what would you like to savor as an erotic secret?

Once you begin a sexual encounter with another, be it a new lover or your partner of forty years, it’s common to shift your attention to the other person. What would happen if you set the intention of keeping most of your attention on your body’s responses? When distracting thoughts intrude, you can return, again and again, to what your body is feeling. Not what you look like or what you imagine your partner wants. You will always be your primary lover.

Attending to your body’s responses isn’t selfish,
it’s responsible, sexy, and effective.

Bring affection, protection, and pleasure to every encounter. (Photo by T. Klingler, Nov 2014)

Bring affection, protection, and pleasure to every encounter. (Photo by T. Klingler, Nov 2014)

Some of you reading this don’t have a sexual playmate. Trust me on this: you’re lucky! You have time and space to investigate what you want, discover your sexual responses, and learn how to communicate about sex. You are in the perfect position to practice putting full attention on your own sexual responses.

Those in relationships are lucky, too! You can be brave and tell your sexual partner(s) that you are researching intention and want to try something new: focusing on your own responses. You don’t need your partner to sign on as a co-researcher to begin expanding your definition and experience of pleasure.

Begin with your pleasure, slow down, share what you want about what delights you, and a partner may be seduced by their own curiosity.

This is OUR journey and we can set sail any time we desire!

If you’d like support in your journey, make sure to read the whole series to find great resources and feel free to contact me at ti.cosmiccowgirls@gmail.com!

* * *

If you’d like more information on Erwan Davon Training or the Mastery program at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, please contact me at ti.cosmiccowgirls@gmail.com. You can find Mama Gena at www.mamagenas.com, Erwan and Alicia Davon at www.erwandavon.com, and Pamela Madsen at www.pamelamadsen.org.

_________________________________________

Comments on and shares of this column may lead to the author’s uncool but authentic happy dance.

Ti Klingler is a Color of Woman Intentional Creativity Coach, Intrinsic Coach®, poet and artist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A graduate of several Cosmic Cowgirls University courses, she is also a graduate of the Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp and Mastery programs at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts and studied with Erwan and Alicia Davon for a year in the Pleasure Course and the Oracle of Life and Love. Ti is passionate about people seeing their own beauty and trusting their desires. She hopes to see you in one of the Cosmic Cowgirls courses, in which poetry, painting, intentional creativity, and YOU come together to court the Muse. You can reach Ti at ti.cosmiccowgirls@gmail.com.


The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

9 Dec

The more I wander, the more I wonder.

~ Tom Callanan ~

The path is strewn with the debris of broken dreams. Those dreams of forever love, fame and fortune, a room of one’s own, everlasting joy and happiness. Would a different path have made those dreams come true? Was there enough belief? Enough hard work? Recital of the right affirmations in just the right order?

When so many of the choices we made haven’t panned out, how do we trust ourselves, believe it will all work out, don our courage yet again? When we are weary from the journey, how do we continue? How do we distinguish between the fear of new possibilities and the fear that protects us?

Or were they even our dreams – the children, the husband, the degree, the security of hearth and home? Perhaps the debris on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams are simply the remnants of what others deemed dream worthy.

The Boulevard of Broken DreamsAs I wander wondering whether they were my dreams or not, how do I rise above the role of ‘The Apologist’? When do I stop saying I’m sorry for agreeing to disagree. Where is the line in the sand that I say “no more”?

I laughed to myself the other day when I realized I had requested the song “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the Animals to be sung at my funeral – even when I’m dead I’m apologizing – that is seriously f**ked! And some would say so very Canadian of me although I’m going to go out on a limb and saying it’s so very woman-like along the same lines as being so very accommodating.

Line in the SandEven though I have bent to the whim of culture, I have also broken many of the taboos of the over-culture – no children or husband to call my own; a wanderer and seeker who calls everywhere I land home; a wild wisdom keeper who claims my age while wearing tight jeans and high heeled cowgirl boots; an unrelenting feminist who insists the conversation needs to continue; a bizness woman who believes we need to do it differently – with heart.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.” -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

So, I choose to see the Boulevard of Broken Dreams as having forged the path where I could stand up and show my soul. The dreams that were not mine to dream I give back as I continue to sow the seeds, weed the garden and bathe in the beauty of what has already blossomed.

japanese-gardens-portland-or113

What taboos have you broken?

What taboos are waiting to be broken so you can show your soul?

What new story is waiting to be told?

 From My Heart To Yours

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StellaMac

____________________________________________

IMG_3475Mary MacDonald, aka StellaMac, is the Countess of Curiosity and the Queen of Questions whose Muse prods, cajoles and believes in her without condition. She gives new meaning to the word versatile. For the past 30 years she has boldly gone forth in the not for profit, artistic, educational and for profit worlds where she has used her extraordinary relationship building skills to achieve success for her Beloveds in marketing, fundraising, public relations, communications, training and development, and writing.

The Bogeyman Under the Bed

2 Dec

Michelle Fairchild CC Magazine Header 4-5-13

The Bogeyman Under the Bed
by Michelle Ida Fairchild

With a running start you launch your 6 year old body
through the air and onto your bed.
Quickly you dive under the covers
and pull your protective teddy tight.
You listen, your ears straining
for any sounds of movement under your bed.
Your heart is pounding,
but finally you let out your breath,
and some, but not all, of the tension drains from your body,
because you know you must be vigilant
for safety is never certain.

Hiding Under Covers photo by Michelle Fairchild

Hiding Under Covers photo by Michelle Fairchild

When I was a little girl I had a lot of fears. I was scared of the dark and slept with my light on. I was scared something was going to get me when I went to bed. Fearful it was either under my bed or in my closet, I would hide under the covers, even if it was stifling hot. I had nightmares fairly regularly, but there was one in particular that would revisit my dreaming world again and again. In this nightmare I would get out of bed and walk down the hall. As I turned the corner entering into the dining room, I would suddenly notice the dark hunched over figure lurking and hiding underneath the kitchen counter. When it saw me it would give chase through the house.

We are fortunate if our nightmares and the bogeyman we fear are only figments of our imagination. This article which was initially supposed to be about the mental fears that paralyze us or bring us down, shifted uncomfortably for me after I came across a poem called The Boogeyman, written by an unidentified young woman. She premised her poem with the following:

“This is not about my father, a man I never knew very well.
This is about the various men I encountered
in Foster Care and State Homes.

As an adult I am still amazed that those who are charged
to protect us as children fail so very often.”

I felt the tears well up when I read the poem below. It was then that the harsh reality struck me. Sometimes our fears are very real indeed. Sometimes there is a bogeyman under the bed.

The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman comes late at night.
So stay under the covers, tuck them in tight.
Close your eyes, pretend to sleep,
Even though you hear him creep.
If your eyes stay shut very tight,
You can make it through the night.
Just let him play his twisted games,
In time my child he’ll go away.
Breathe deep and even, don’t say a word.
Keep your calm little girl.
After he leaves tuck the covers back in,
Put it out of your mind, forget about him.
Go to sleep proud you did not scream,
Tell yourself it was just a bad dream.
Wake up and wash with water that scalds.
Keep your secrets, build your walls.
Sit down to breakfast, take your place.
After all you never saw his face.
Remind yourself it was just a fable,
And that’s not him at the head of the table.

Contemplating how I would proceed with this article I asked myself, “Do you really want to go there?” A part of me did not want to tackle this topic. Does not. It felt much safer to stick to the original plan of writing about fears of failure. Fears of not being enough. Grown up fears inhibiting one from pursuing one’s dreams. However, that would have been caving in – to a fear of digging into a subject that needs to be brought into the light of day.  

Certainly the topics of child abuse, molestation and rape are talked about and receive more media attention than ever before in history. There are educational programs, social services and crisis programs to address the issue and offer services. Yet the question begs, “Why are the statistics still so unacceptably high?” Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. (Note some studies show the statistic as 1 in 3 for girls.) The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute reports that “At least three million children are molested before they finish their 13th year.”  Some of these figures are the same as ones I heard being reported 10 and 20 years ago.  Is it really not getting any better?

I’ve had enough conversations with girls and women through the years to absolutely believe that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Many friends and roommates have shared their stories of the grandfather, father, step-dad, uncle, older sibling, older sibling’s friend, friend of the family, and so forth who molested them. What strikes me for the very first time as I reflect on the many stories, is that out of all the stories only one of those friends was involved in a criminal case against the perpetrator.

Bogeyman Under the Bed photo by Michelle Fairchild

Bogeyman Under the Bed photo by Michelle Fairchild

The men from these various stories never faced any serious consequences for their actions. How is that possible?  The first thing that comes to mind is that in all of the stories told to me, the men involved were not strangers. They were either a relative (older brother, father, step-father, uncle, grandfather) or a close friend of the family.  

The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute reports that “Unfortunately, most of today’s children will never tell. They feel ashamed that this has happened to them. They are protecting their abuser because he or she is part of their family. They are protecting other members of their family – saving them from the pain of knowing.”  Here are some of the statistics regarding perpetrators according to the U.S. Department of Justice:

  • An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
  • About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
  • Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.

How do we enact real change?
What do we need to know in order to so?
What else should we know about sexual abuse? 

Let me share some more facts with you from the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute.

  • Approximately one out of 20 men, and approximately one out of 3,300 women are sexual abusers of children.
  • A child molester is any older child or adult who touches a child for his or her own sexual gratification.
  • Child molestation is the act of sexually touching a child.
  • Sexual touch is when an adult fondles the child’s chest, buttocks, or genitals with the direct purpose of sexually exciting himself or the child.
  • A child is a girl or boy who is 13 years of age or younger.
  • What’s the age difference between a molester and a child? It is five years, so a 14-year-old “older child” sexually touching a nine-year-old is an example. This is the accepted medical definition.

Who are the sexual abusers?

Let’s consider again this figure – Approximately one out of 20 men, and approximately one out of 3,300 women are sexual abusers of children.

I understand the tendency to paint the perpetrators as monsters who should be locked away. However the reality is that the majority of molesters are just average men and teenagers (an estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18).  The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute shares a profile of a typical child molester named George. He’s married, educated, working, and religious. So how does George compare and why is he typical?

“First of all, he’s married, just like 77 percent of the more than 4000 child sexual abusers in the Child Molestation Prevention Study. George is religious, like 93 percent of the abusers. He’s educated. More than 46 percent had some college education and another 30 percent were high school graduates. Like 65 percent of the admitted abusers, George was working.

Numerous studies of adult victims have sought to link child molestation victims to lower social class and lower family income. All have failed. Child victims and their abusers exist equally in families of all income levels and classes. And, now from the study, we know that child molesters are as equally married, educated, employed, and religious as any other Americans.”

Which Children Do Child Molesters Target?

CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY

Biological Child 19%
Stepchild, Adopted or Foster Child 30%
Brothers & Sisters 12%
Nieces & Nephews 18%
Grandchild 5%

CHILDREN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Child Left in My Care 5%
Child of Friend or Neighbor 40%

CHILDREN WHO ARE STRANGERS

Child Strangers 10%

Source: The Abel and Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study.

Only 10 percent of the child sexual abusers
report they molest a child who is a stranger.

Here is the reality check:

  • Child molesters exist in every part of our society.
  • They molest children close to them, mainly children in their family or children in their social circle.
  • Most child molesters, 90 percent, report that they know their child victims very well.

What can we do to stop the abuse?

My first personal thought on the matter is to break the silence. Eradicate the shame. Have the early conversation with children about things like safe and unsafe touching. There are books and pamphlets that can help an adult find the appropriate words and language if that is a struggle. Adults need to begin the conversation, which in turn empowers a child to not only take actions to defend and protect against touches that are unsafe, but also lets them know this is a topic that they can talk about. The fact that the adult has already addressed the topic openly lets the child know it is safe to come to him or her with further questions, concerns or fears.

Pamphlet Safe and Unsafe Touching. Photo collage created by Michelle Fairchild.

Pamphlet Safe and Unsafe Touching. Photo collage created by Michelle Fairchild.

The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Center encourages everyone to learn the facts about sexual abuse and share them with family and friends. Their web site reports that “Every time you tell your sister or your husband or your friend a fact about what causes child molestation, every time you tell them what we can do now to stop it, you build a stronger safety net for every child.”

They also point out that 90 percent of our efforts go toward protecting our children from strangers, when what we need to do is to focus 90 percent of our efforts toward protecting children from the abusers who are not strangers – the molesters in their families and the molesters who are the friends of their families.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center recommends the following “We can each do our part by believing and supporting the children in our lives; by reporting any and all suspected child sexual abuse to child protective services or to law enforcement; by volunteering or donating to a sexual violence program in your community; and being role models to children by promoting healthy, respectful relationships.”

Pamphlet Safe and Unsafe Touching. Photo collage created by Michelle Fairchild.

Pamphlet Safe and Unsafe Touching. Photo collage by Michelle Fairchild.

Is there hope for people who abuse children?

I certainly understand the fear surrounding this subject and the perspective that anyone who would sexually molest a child should be locked up for good. It is tempting to demonize and want to paint anyone who could do such a thing as a monster. Yet when the statistics reveal that 1 in 20 men are abusers and that they are, for the most part, average men who are married, working, religious and so forth, you have to stop and ask how are we to handle this very real problem? Is the answer to lock all such men up in prison? Will that really solve the problem?

While I don’t know all the answers it is encouraging to learn that many abusers can change, but in order for that to happen what they are doing must be made public. If their actions are not brought out into the light and the victims remain silent, the odds are likely that they will continue to abuse. Here are a few of the promising reports I read regarding the results of treatment for abusers:

“Studies show that treatment for people who sexually abuse children can reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend.  Statistically, people who are held accountable for sexual abuse have a lower recidivism rate than people convicted of other major offenses. Even without treatment, recidivism rates for those convicted of sexually abusing a child are estimated to be about 15-20%. With treatment, many studies show an additional reduction in recidivism by as much as a third, to as low as 12%.” Source: First report of the Collaborative Outcome Data Project on the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sexual offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 14 (2), 169-194)

According to Alexander’s 1998 study, “Men arrested for having sex with children are usually overcome with shame and remorse and they want to stop. Since 1943 those who were treated in jails, hospitals and outpatient clinics found their way back to prison at a rate that was approximately one-third of those who had no treatment.”

“By 2005, most all preventative programs showed that re-arrest rates were being reduced by greater than half. With some of the latest deep aversion and victim empathy regimens, reductions were reported as high as 91%.  There is now a credible concurrence that ‘treatment works’ and that new programs are becoming increasingly more successful.

Awareness and Activism

In the midst of struggling to write this article, I came across a recent address made by actress Teri Hatcher to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. She was speaking in recognition of the International Day to End Violence against Women (25th November), followed by the 16 days of Activism (ending December 10th) against Gender Violence and the “Orange Your Neighborhood” campaign. She shared her personal story of abuse at the hands of an uncle. She spoke of her silence until she turned 18 and how she chose to reveal the truth to her mother by writing in her journal about it.  

She then describes how at the age of 30, while helping her parents to pack up her childhood home, she read a current newspaper article about an 11 year old girl named Sarah from her hometown who committed suicide and implicated HER uncle as her abuser. Teri Hatcher finally decided to end her silence and helped to validate Sarah’s case when the case against her uncle turned out to be less than iron-clad. Teri shared, “I survived this abuse, and I helped Sarah’s family to feel some sense of victory and closure, but that doesn’t make me a hero or a victim. It only makes me one of three. She later closed her United Nations address with these powerful words:

“I am one in three,
and I WILL BE the one
who yells from the rooftops
until those numbers change.
Until every woman who has faced abuse
feels less alone and safe enough
to have the courage to find her own voice –
until violence against women is no longer
a part of any woman’s story –
silence will not be a part of mine.”

To raise awareness and trigger action to end the global scourge of violence against women and girls, the UN observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence which follow (ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day) are a chance to mobilize and raise awareness. This year, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign invites you to “Orange YOUR Neighborhood,” with the color designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolize a brighter future without violence. Organize events to orange your local streets, shops and schools! – See more at: www.unwomen.org

OrangeYourNeighborhood_350x228

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Michelle Fairchild

I am one in four

Memories
of some of the abuse 

are missing and hazy.
I was a 4 year old
who knew about humping
and that boys put their
penises into girls.

I have a memory of
my oldest brother trying
to get me to touch his penis
and to let him put it in my mouth.
He was 9 years older than me.

There was the teenage friend
of my older siblings who
fondled my private parts a few times.

There were the dreams of
someone lying on top of me while I slept
and the fear of opening my eyes,
fear that maybe it wasn’t a dream.

Secrets.
I was good at keeping secrets.
It was in a journal, in my early 20’s,
where I timidly wrote the words
“I think I might have been sexually abused.”

There were other
weird perverts who I fended off
throughout my twenties.
There was the night
I was drunk and nearly raped.
Over the years the stories

shared between women friends
of the many abuses.
A sisterhood
of support.

Then I became a mom
to twin daughters.
I had never really known
just how deeply
I had been affected
until they were born
and my mama bear protector
rose up from the depths.

I hadn’t really recognized
my self protectiveness,
the walls of safety
that I had built.
A fortress.

I am fiercely protective of my daughters.
I want them to have a childhood
free of fear and damaging secrets.
I want them to be confident and strong.
I want to empower them to
live their dreams.
I am raising my voice
so that they will never become
one in four.

 

Michelle Fairchild is a writer and artist. She has a small business called Red Boa Productions through which she offers Sacred Playshops.  She also works for a non-profit foster-adoption agency in Northern California. At Heart she is a soulful and sensitive intuitive, a courageous creator, a resilient visionary, a self-esteem fluffer, a marvelous music mixer and one who offers up bridges of connections to her fellow travelers.  She considers her family her heart, which includes her hubby of 11 years,  a former science & math teacher who is now a Science Coordinator for a STEM program, and her identical twin daughters, who are very active & sporty 8-year-olds who shine and keep her dancing.  She believes We Are All Meant to Shine!  You can learn more about Michelle’s vision, read more of her writing and peruse or purchase her art on her website We Are All Meant to Shine!

The Price of Pleasure

25 Nov

CCM - Soul in the City

The Price of Pleasure

By Steph Cowling

Pleasure is simple, until it becomes more than the chocolate, salt baths and walks in the park. Connecting to pleasure means connecting to myself, disappointing people, encountering make believe and actual judgment, and coming back to my willingness to take on the weight of my own life.

What is the true cost of your pleasure?  Yes there are the physical, emotional and financial costs, but what is the cost of what you have to leave behind? When you choose a life rooted in pleasure, who and what are you going to have to turn away from, turn down, and turn back?

The price of my pleasure is waking up early when I want to stay in bed because the pleasure of morning pages, meditation and morning yoga surpass the pleasure of extra sleep.  The price of my pleasure is to sit with old resentments and current passive aggressiveness and grapple with how to communicate what I really need.

The price of my pleasure is walking through buried dreams to see and taste them, to remember the disappointment, and to start the journey of recovery, after the mourning is over.  

The price of my pleasure is the cost of meeting my shame, my fear, my approval addict, and taking the steering wheel from them even when they seem more fit to be in charge.  

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The price of my pleasure is acknowledging we each matter; that my balled fists, desire to punch walls, to hide from people, and to confront people is about boundaries, miscommunications, and failed expectations, and I need to speak up and out.  The price of pleasure is seeing it’s not just about survival anymore, realizing that I can survive and still be drowning.  

The price of my pleasure is sitting with the question: “What do I want?” and being willing to hear, and most importantly, act on the answer.  Some days it sounds like “Space. Retreat. A break. Quiet.”  Other days it says, “Flowers. A bath. To be left alone. Coffee. Wine. Gin.”  

The Price of Pleasure means coming out of our closets.  All of them.  It means respecting the anger that rises up with things we have put up with for too long.  It means asking people to get off your back, and taking off the extra baggage that we have been carrying, that wasn’t ours to begin with.  It means asking for what we need, being willing to keep it moving when the other person or place cannot supply it, and it means finding the someones and somethings who can.

* * *

Steph Head Shot - Orange

On Steph Cowling: I am a proud 2012 graduate of Cosmic Cowgirls “Leading a Legendary Life” mentorship program, and have been a member of the Cosmic Cowgirls community since 2010.  Over the past ten years, I have been growing my passion for healing and self-care through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY. I am building a women’s self-care program for women professionals focused on cultivating loving relationship with oneself. I live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.

 

Warning: Cosmic Cowgirls Aims to Destory Established Order

19 Nov

IMG_2287People often ask me is Cosmic Cowgirls about healing? And I say, well…yes.

Or is Cosmic Cowgirls about creating balance in women’s lives?

And say, well no. Not at first anyway.

Cosmic Cowgirls stir sh*t up before it settles

into any semblance of what one might call balance.

Listen up.

When we have been hiding from who we are.

Not listening to the voice of the Muse for our whole lives.

Feeling isolated and confused about being here on earth.

Experiencing ourselves as the only one.

Feeling like if we are who we are, we won’t be loved.

Practicing being invisible since age 8.

Balance isn’t what the Art Doctor ordered.

The saddest thing of all is that the thing we hid from

is often the key to our genius, and our pleasure. ((((Sigh))))

 

The Art Doctor asks for a complete re-organization

of how you experience yourself and the universe

that starts with a pure prescription of unbridled unapologetic

!!!!!!(((((((((((((CHAOS))))))))))))))!!!!

Now chaos often just happens in our lives, and that isn’t what I mean.

Chaos is at work in the universe and in the world, and I don’t mean that either.

I mean chosen chaos. A conscious dismantling of beliefs. POW!

A free-fall into the possibility you might not be who you think you are.

The parts of ourselves and our lives begin to fly around

and we duck for cover (((((watch out for broken chains)))))

I don’t know how others do this but we do it  ‘committing art’

Beliefs, relationships, projects and assignments begin to fly apart.

We don’t know what hit us or if we could call it ‘a good thing’

But something begins to rise up if we can listen

if we can stand in the center of the storm and pause there

and look around. WHAT IS THAT FEELING????

!!!!VITALITY!!!! Possibility!!!!!!

Then we dance. (booooggggiiiiiieeeeeeee down get down)

A new vitality begins to emerge we haven’t felt before.

We have destroyed the established order and chaos has come – YA!!!

It is from the piles that remain after the storm

that we build our dreams anew or chuck the stuff.

It is from here that a legend comes into view, yours!

WHOOOOOPPPPP! WHOOOOOOSHHHH!

 

Can I get an amen? ((((((((AMEN))))))))

Cosmic Cowgirls as a tribe, culture and response

to societal norms and conditions aims to destroy

established order. We aren’t going for it.

We have seen the impact on the lives of women

and families trying to fit in and keep up. Nope.

We choose awakeness over acceptance.

We choose revolution over acclimation.

We choose freedom over conformity.

We choose playfulness over appropriate.

We choose creativity over ‘assigned usefulness”

 

So no, Cosmic Cowgirls isn’t about creating balance,

first, it starts with CHAOS. And paintbrushes and

cupcakes, whiskey, midnight tea with the Muse

and cowboy boots. Perhaps Naked.

Like that.

Signed in frosting,

~ Chief Laughing Cloud

Join me for some creative chaos and dreammaking

“Commit Art” ~ As said by Sue Hoya Sellars

P.S. As soon as I published I of course noticed I wrote, destory instead of destroy.
But I like it. Keeping it, claiming it. New vocabulary.

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Photo at Terra Sophia by Jonathan Lewis

 

On a personal note…

They say that the night I was conceived my parents

were on acid, white lightening, and walked naked down Montezuma Avenue

in Forest Knolls in Cowboy Boots. I came into THAT portal.

I think the seed for Cosmic Cowgirls chaos theory was started that night.

Now some 44+ years later my dear dad finds himself in the hospital

for accidental overdose (yes it was, and yes he is an addict), and he

won’t ‘come out of it’. We are scared. Yep, same time as Sue.

When my mother shows up, he comes into

consciousness. He told me, he smelled her before he saw her,

and that was his first moment he was conscious of where he was,

and this is over a week into lala land. Jonathan and I were standing

there. She touched his hair, she told me later she went where

he was ‘energetically’ instead of where they were trying to tell him

he was, the hospital. And from that space, he came online, didn’t

open his eyes. We heard him say F*ck like, OH NO, where am I

that Caron would be here? But that was it, his connection

to the world came back online from the smell of my mother.

In his chaos and dismantling of his universe he has come

back to life, and sober for the first time, since THAT night

of my conception, but he wasn’t sober then either lol.

They told me he might never return from where he was.

But he did. He did. And when I saw him last week

he told me about smelling my mom – he remembered

that as his consciousness returning moment.

Then we showed him the video Jonathan took of

the helicopter he took to the hospital –  WOW COOL!

 

There is beauty in every story, it is helpful to look first

at the chaos for the beauty instead of the order.

Know what I mean Cowgirls?

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Mama Caron, my sister Shannon, Dad, Greg. This is one year before I was born at my Grandmother Helen’s house in Woodacre.

 

 

 

Letters from the Red Thread Cafe

Are You Leaning In? The TABOO of Not Talking.

4 Nov

AnnetteTaboo-header

By Annette Wagner, Managing Editor

Have you noticed when life hands us health challenges, we don’t talk about them? Things that can be potentially life-threatening. Issues that make you change how you live day to day. Stuff that scares the hell out of you because it might kill you. Or not.

Many of us seem to make a habit of just not going into all the gory details for fear of – what, exactly? That we might sound like we are hypochondriacs? or that we are whining? Looking for pity? Or that we might somehow make it real if we talk about it?

Well, I am hauling this one out of the dark. It is time to pull back the curtains, let the light in, and have a conversation about this tendency to hide concerns about our health when it isn’t going the way we want. I am doing this partly because of our dear Cosmic Cowgirls Art Matriarch, Sue Hoya Sellars who distinctly disliked doctors and refused to see them for her back pain – which turned out to be a sign of serious heart issues. Might things have gone differently for her if she had seen a doctor? Maybe, maybe not. That is not the topic of this article.

Where I am going is all about having a conversation in the light about the dark scary things that go thump in the night and worry at us constantly. Why? Because in a culture that abhors death, we stuff far too much under the covers because of this fear that talking about it will make it real.

It’s as if the so-called Law of Attraction has poisoned us to the point we cannot talk about hard stuff.

Part of learning how to live in connection with my community, my tribes, means learning how to share and trust and lean on them occasionally. I will admit I am FAR more used to being the one who is leaned upon, then the one who leans on someone else. Which is one reason I do not share much of anything about the health issues hiding in the dark under my bed. They are very real and alive and periodically make the quality of my life downright awful. So I am sharing my dark secrets here out in the open as a way to encourage you to talk about yours with those you love.

Dancing the Cosmos by Annette Wagner, 2012

Dancing the Cosmos by Annette Wagner, 2012

My body’s immune system is not normal.

The reality is I live in a gray area between what doctors define as normal and unhealthy. I cannot eat food other folks eat. My  body does not respond “normally” when I get vaccines. Flu shots are poison bad and not to be ever considered. Mold is not my friend.

My body is strong, resilient, and very good at finding its balance. Which is good because things can whack me off center when I least expect it. Having been over-exposed to pesticides as a kid, overdosed on antibiotics, and coming from a long line of women with the Sight makes for a system that inherently has its own opinions about “normal.” I am what some call sensitive and others call a “canary in a coal mine”.

All that is the context for the last six months of pure hell. It all began on a day in May when I decided to go into the backyard and pull weeds. Not a task I do very often. Given a choice between gardening and creating in my studio, well the answer is obvious! The only reason I went out was because the jungle-like state of the weeds was making me feel guilty that I had not been out there sooner dealing with it. So off I went and tackled a nice tall patch with both hands for twenty minutes, tossed the pulled up weeds on the compost pile and retreated to the studio.

Later that afternoon, my left wrist started aching. Then it started turning red and swelling up and getting more and more painful. There was no obvious bug bite. I tried icing it thinking I had pulled the muscles. Didn’t slow things down a twit. The swelling and redness continued to spread as did the pain. By 2am in the morning, my left arm from the point of my elbow to my middle finger was a mass of screaming pain. I could not grip or move my fingers, the nerves were tingling like someone had a strangle hold on them, and I was not sleeping.

When I saw the doctor that morning, she poked, prodded and pronounced it a bug bite due to the redness and swelling. Told me to take anti-histamines. So I did and the swelling began to go down over the next couple days.

SheddingHer Skin by Annette Wagner, 2010

SheddingHer Skin by Annette Wagner, 2010

Then, the dance began. The swelling began returning, only more localized. The knuckles on my left hand took turns swelling up very red and painful over the course of the next several weeks. I tried to figure out what I was doing to cause this. Tweaking the nerve at my elbow, eating something particular, etc. Nada.

Then the knuckles on my right hand decided to join the dance. One would swell up and I would be in screaming pain unable to move the fingers. Unable to grip a paint brush or even a glass of water. It would calm down and the other hand would jump in and do the same thing. At least they took turns.

The tests started piling up for auto-immune disorders, Lymes disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. All negative. My allergist/immunologist is convinced the joint pain is tied to that day in May and that something triggered my immune system and now its having a post-traumatic auto-immune response to whatever it was: insect bite, pesticide exposure, pollen overdose. Fill in your idea here.

Why do I not talk about this?

Because its frustrating enough for me to deal with that I do not want to burden anyone else. Because I just want it to stop and go away. Because maybe if I ignore it it will go away. Because other people have way more serious life-threatening stuff going on. This is not that big in the grand scheme of things. Then, I wake up in pain and wonder – will I have to stop sketching and painting one day? I heave a huge sigh and stand up and face the day again, pain or not.

The reality is I am unweaving this slowly. We have some very solid clues of what is causing my body to attack itself with these swellings. My immune system either over reacts or under reacts compared to a “normal” system. Right now, it is overreacting. My intuition knows this is tied to that day in May.

I am also learning how to lean in on those around me and talk about these things my immune system and I have to deal with. I am finding out folks are willing to listen and hear and support me. They don’t have a fix and I don’t need them to have one. I just need them to be there listening and letting me lean in. I am learning to trust that sharing this about me doesn’t change how they hold me and in fact helps me to stay positive and determined to overcome this challenge and return to a place of balance once again.

And that, my friend is why I am writing this article. To leave you with some support, a story and the thought that maybe, just maybe, it may be a wonderful thing to share what you are hiding under the bed. And I don’t mean the dust bunnies sweetheart!

So there it is.

My health secret out of the dark closet.

Do you have one?

Are you sharing it with those in your tribe?

If you are not sharing, why not?

If you are, how does that feel?

Are you leaning in?

***

Annette painting in rocksAnnette Wagner, M.A.,  is a Visionary Artist, Color of Woman Intentional Creativity teacher, Art Doctor, author, and shamanic practitioner.  She paints in the Contemporary Symbolismstyle and works extensively with metaphor, symbol, and color. She is also the Managing Editor of the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine

Annette studies with American Master painter Sue Hoya Sellars and has a Masters in Women’s Spirituality  from Sofia University. Her background includes over 25 years of hi-tech experience including 21 patents. She is owned by her dancing daughter, two cat beings, the man of her heart, and her Muse. You can view her artwork, visit her Etsy shop, and read more about Annette at:www.annettewagnerart.com

Inner Monsters are Little Taboos

28 Oct

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Writing under the overarching theme of Taboo should give us outrageous license to do whatever we very well please, don’t you think? So the first license I’m taking today is that I’m not going to touch on the oh-so-sophisticated taboo I had been planning and instead I’m going to jump to an admittedly Halloween appropriate but out-of-the blue topic: Inner Monsters.

The second license that I’m going to take is that I’m going to doodle this article instead of writing it.  You can blame my inner monster.

 

***Not seeing it? Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/6ZCeEwHjlR4 ***

Monsters

Inner monsters are our little taboos: the things we think and feel that we don’t believe that we should. What if you let your monsters OUT? What if you got curious and found out more about them?

I love YOUR inner Monsters.
Happy Halloween!


Join Jenafer Joy for her upcoming course “Muse Intervention: Inner Monsters, Feisty Rants, and Permission to say NO!”starting November 3rd – find out more at: www.cosmiccowgirlsuniversity.com
Photo on 3-8-14 at 9.24 AM #3
Brimming with the quirky enthusiasm that prompted her nom de plume,  Jenafer Joy rides bareback at the center of a Creativity Revolution. Using every trick in (and out) of the book – vibrant paintings, whimsical writings, and an unwavering faith in every person’s innate intuitive genius – it is impossible to spend time in her presence and not fall in love with yourself, with the whispering of your muse and with Jena’s heartfelt and contagious love of the creative life. Jena has been in the healing & creative arts leading Inspired Inquiry courses since 2003. And she is still pinching herself at the luck of being at the helm of the Cosmic Cowgirl Community as one of its three directors since 2010. You can find links to everything she’s up to on her website www.jenaferjoy.com and can always find her paintings and a ridiculous pile up of journal pages on Facebook at The Art of Jenafer Joy.

Orgasm and Pleasure

21 Oct

TiHeaderFireTending2Orgasm and Pleasure

by Ti Klingler

This series on sexuality began HERE,
if you’d like to get the full monty, er, story!

So you’re tending your sexual fire and delighting in your sexuality, right out in public. Ready for our next Taboo? Let’s talk orgasm and pleasure.

I’m a big fan of orgasms. All kinds. Six-second bursts and hour-long extended waves that fill your whole body. Some regard the first as immature; some think the second are fictional. I say, have and love ’em all!

Extended orgasm is a beautiful, intense, subtle experience that can be explored for decades. It requires relaxation of both muscles and mind and a willingness to explore your body and psychology. It often requires training from those who are experts in receiving, giving, and teaching others.

Yes, your orgasm can feel like this!  (Cosmic Dragon by Sheri Ponzi, www.paintingherselfintobeing.com, permission granted)

Yes, your orgasm can feel like this!
Cosmic Dragon by Sheri Ponzi

You can’t read or think your way to orgasm. It takes practice. You can learn to relax when pleasure begins and relax MORE as pleasure intensifies. You can learn there is no amount of pleasure that is too much. You may be rewriting decades and centuries of sexual repression and personal and familial sexual history.

You don’t have to do it alone. There are trainers and communities such as Erwan Davon Training, whom I highly recommend, and OneTaste, which I know of secondhand. There are professionals known as sexological bodyworkers. A great place to begin your research is Pamela Madsen’s website. She’s down-to-earth, funny, kind, and knowledgeable.

Pamela Madsen (left), Mama Gena (top right), and Erwan and Alicia Davon (bottom right) are great guides as you explore your sexuality.

Pamela Madsen (left), Mama Gena (top right), and Erwan and Alicia Davon (bottom right) are great guides as you explore your sexuality.

The big taboo?

Letting pleasure bump obligation
off the top of the to-do list.

In your life, which comes first: serving others or serving your own pleasure? During the Mastery program at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, I saw women’s relationships, parenting, finances, careers, spirituality, and creativity flourish once they put pleasure first.

You have the choice and right to put pleasure first. Are you up for it? Set up Pleasure Pods with your friends and hold each other, kindly, to strict pleasure standards. I have a whole group of women with whom I trade brags, gratitudes, and desires (another tool from Mastery). Especially in rough times, we reach for pleasure and orgasm, knowing they give us the energy to move forward.

Try this substitution exercise to turn around your excuses for neglecting pleasure:

I have to take the kids to school = I have to take pleasure to school.

I’ve got work deadlines = I’ve got pleasure deadlines.

I’ve got to get dinner ready = I’ve got to get pleasure ready.

There are real problems in the world! = There are real pleasures in the world!


How does it feel to say those things?
Preferably aloud, daringly to others?
Tell me here.

 

* * *

If you’d like more information on Erwan Davon Training or the Mastery program at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, please contact me at ti.cosmiccowgirls@gmail.com. You can find Mama Gena at www.mamagenas.com, Erwan and Alicia Davon at www.erwandavon.com, and Pamela Madsen at www.pamelamadsen.org.

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Comments on and shares of this column may lead to the author’s uncool but authentic happy dance.

Ti Klingler is a Color of Woman Intentional Creativity Coach, Intrinsic Coach®, poet and artist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A graduate of several Cosmic Cowgirls University courses, she is also a graduate of the Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp and Mastery programs at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts and studied with Erwan and Alicia Davon for a year in the Pleasure Course and the Oracle of Life and Love. Ti is passionate about people seeing their own beauty and trusting their desires. She hopes to see you in one of the Cosmic Cowgirls courses, in which poetry, painting, intentional creativity, and YOU come together to court the Muse. You can reach Ti at ti.cosmiccowgirls@gmail.com.


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