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Why we're failing our young women: An epidemic of anxiety + overwhelm.

This morning as I drove my step daughter to school I heard a super profound 15 year old prophecy hidden behind the catchy melody of a Britney hit from way back. (No, I’m not usually a Britney kind of girl these days but my step daughter discovered my stash of old CD’s and no 8 year old can resist the saccharine of Spears!)

We were actually listening to Britters Greatest Hits – released when the star was just 23 years old (telling of our times much?!) – and when we hit track 13, “Lucky” I heard the words that literally gave me shivers…

"She's so lucky, she's a star
But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking
If there's nothing missing in my life
Then why do these tears come at night?

Lost in an image, in a dream
But there's no one there to wake her up
And the world is spinning, and she keeps on winning
But tell me what happens when it stops?"

Well my lovelies, I can tell you what happens when it stops in 2015.

Britney suffering a very public emotional breakdown in 2007.

Britney suffering a very public emotional breakdown in 2007.

 Perfectly healthy young women, who, bombarded by choice, and the pressure to be successful and “have it all” before their baby making equipment goes kaput, who just need a bit of guidance, a mentor, someone to talk to and tell them how to slow down and get back to centre, are put on anti depressants - if they’re not already self medicating with food, booze, sex, “recreational” Class A’s etc. - because that’s a cheaper, faster fix than guiding them through the growing pains of an extended youth. Because let’s face it, the definition of “youth” has changed – it’s not unusual to still be living at mum and dad’s at the age of 30 while you save up to get on the housing ladder / figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.

 Of course after Lucky was released way back when, Britney herself, victim of child super stardom, too much too young, suffered a very public emotional meltdown, much to the delight of the gossip mags and websites.  Since then we have seen ever increasing numbers of young women in the public eye, many who were once child stars, who lived the dream and amassed enough wealth, fame and royalties to see them into a very comfortable old age before they hit 25, fall from grace. And oh how we love to judge. What’s Lohan been arrested for this time? Did you see what Bynes just tweeted?!  But the sad truth is there are young women acting out similar breakdowns all over the world, the only difference is they don’t have the paps eagerly following their every move and Oprah offering to step in and pay for rehab.

 I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we are failing our young women (and men for that matter, but having been one for 28 years I feel more qualified to comment on the plight of the female of the species – see this crazy insightful post by the super smart David Hrostoski for the masculine flipside) by conning them into believing that there is a set formula for “success”, with a detailed list of difficult to obtain requirements and a pressure cooker of a timescale.

Enough! You may drop the baton, now. 

Enough! You may drop the baton, now. 

And you know the most destructive thing about it? Our bright young things have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. In my spiritual coaching I use the metaphor of a baton of emotional “stuff” being passed from one generation to the next. It’s natural. Those who teach us as children do the best they can with the resources they have, and even the most conscious well meaning parents and guardians inevitably pass on some of their own psychic crap and limiting beliefs. The problem really occurs when we don’t drop the baton, instead we grip onto it, carrying it round for a lifetime, eventually taking full ownership of it.

As a society this is what we’ve done to our young women. We’ve created a massive baton of very difficult to achieve parameters for success, with scary time limits, and passed it on. Through social media and an increasingly frenetic world that doesn’t allow for headspace, time to think, time to heal, time to regroup and recoup, they are holding that baton tight, brandishing proof of it’s existence all over Instagram and Twitter.

Busy has become a badge of honour. Overworked and underpaid just part of the process. Stress and anxiety natural bed fellows of distorted body image, the race to find a mate before fertility goes south, and the clamour for VP (because everyone knows it’s either kids or CEO, right?) And my God do they do a good job of it. We’ve created a whole new tribe of burned out over achieving young women who are especially adept at fighting fires, while spinning plates and wearing many different hats. When they finally get to the point where they’re seeking Spirit Deej help, which could be at 25, 35, 45 or beyond it’s often because they’ve figured out that despite putting in all that work to “have it all” – and so many times succeeding – just like Britney warbled all those years ago they’re wondering why nothing is missing but they still find themselves feeling empty, unfulfilled, alone and soaked in the confused tears of surrender.

In her 2012 TED Talk ,“Listening to Shame”, Brené Brown said “Shame for women is do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat. Shame for women is this web of unattainable conflicting competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be.”

Tick tock. 

Tick tock. 

 Brown also quoted research by Dr. James R. Mahalik “He asked what do women need to do to conform to female norms? The top answers [in the US]: nice, thin, modest and use all available resources for appearance.” Actual shudders. That list for me paints the picture of a pretty scary 1950’s Stepford Wives kind of existence. Except this research is recent, and rings worryingly true, while the financial pressures of a recovering and uncertain world economy often mean that as a woman you’ll be expected to do and be all of these things to conform as well as work full time to contribute financially, never mind about satisfying your desire to fulfill your professional passions. BUT could you please remember to be nice, modest and save enough time to juice and workout so you stay thin and pretty with flawless skin while you ruthlessly climb the corporate ladder before your ovaries shrivel / you start being prejudiced against for job roles because your lady parts are a maternity leave ticking time bomb?!

And people seriously marvel at the fact that this generation of women is the most stressed, depressed and anxious to have ever lived!

Let's address this epidemic so the next generation don't have to feel like this.

Let's address this epidemic so the next generation don't have to feel like this.

So what’s the answer? Well, of course I’m biased but I know for sure that a spiritual practice, however that looks for you, helps. It gives perspective, headspace, and strengthens the ability to let go of the baton. Our young women must find a way to follow their hearts and souls, because they will always lead them in the right direction. Maybe that means they’ll end up “having it all”. Maybe they’ll just have some of it. But the most important thing is that whatever they end up with makes them happy, fulfilled and wholehearted people, with slightly less shitty sticks to pass onto the next generation.

Join me for my live Hangout on How To Deal With Anxiety + Overwhelm on Tuesday 17th Feb at 1pm GMT / 8am EST / 5am PST - Please do join the conversation because Spirit Lovers this is serious. We are suffering from an epidemic of anxiety and overwhelm, it's crushing our creative hearts and holding us back from shining our beautiful lights and we need to talk about it. Click the links above to register for free and get all the info for the LIVE Hangout + Q&A and the recording straight to your inbox xoxo  

One final note: If this is you, if you are struggling with the weight of the baton that society has passed to you and you feel like you might never get off the relay track and drop the damn thing, make these lyrics by Baz Lurhman your mantra and meditation, everyday. 

 Love and miracles to you always, you incredible mystical unicorn. You’ve got this xoxo

(Original words to Sunscreen by Mary Schmich in this 1997 column for the Chicago Tribune)

 

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Why Romance is a Myth. (Happy Valentines!)

I once heard Marianne Williamson say that eastern cultures kind of got it right with the whole concept of arranged marriage. (Let’s be clear here, I and I think I can safely assume Ms. Williamson, are talking arranged marriage, not forced marriage, which I know is a fine line, a serious subject and a topic bigger than any post I have yet typed).  And do you know what? I kind of agreed with her. A couple of years ago I couldn’t have been further away from such an accepting line of thinking, about such a controversial idea, because I had not yet consciously cultivated my spiritual connection, ergo, I was very disconnected. For a self proclaimed “open minded person”, I was actually very close minded and close hearted. At that time it was as difficult for me to see outside of my own self imposed thought constraints as I was judging others and their belief systems for. The irony, at the time, was sadly lost in the wilderness.

 

Back then I thought I sooo got it when it came to relationships. Despite the fact that I tripped from one coupling to the next, with barely a break in between, starting around the age of 14. Despite the fact that I could mould myself to pretty much anyone and their needs and desires, changing my taste in music, clothes, nights out, humour to fit accordingly, without even really noticing. Despite the fact that even though my list of ex boyfriends is about the moteliest crew you ever did see (due to the wild variety rather than their individual merits) I seemed, in the end, to live out the same patterns with each and every one.

I thought it was a case of finding “the one”. All my other relationships simply hadn’t worked out because after a certain period of time there would be one thing that would stick out like a sore thumb and become the kicker that told me nope, this one isn’t the one. Sigh. (Too nice. Too sarcastic. Doesn’t love me enough. Too clingy. Too ambitious. Not ambitious enough. And on, and on, and on…) It was nothing to do with me, my patterns, my stuff, who I was attracting, how I was acting out, my need to be the person I thought they wanted instead of just being ok with who I was and being ok with whether they liked that or not. Oh no, I knew best.

Fast forward a few years, après spiritual revelation <link>, and here I am listening to MDub (as I affectionately call my fave spiritual teacher) telling me that she kind of gets why the whole arranged marriage thing worked. She was talking during a lecture on romantic relationships and saying that the concept of having an arrangement works because the two people and their families decide that on the basis of the couple-to-be being a good match and fundamentally wanting the same stuff out of life, it would work from the beginning, and they’d all collectively do what it took to support the growth and continuation of love and trust to help make the marriage a happy and successful one.

This kind of “arranged” setup reminds me very starkly of a lesson in A Course in Miracles which says that the thinking of the “outer world” is such that you believe that you will wait to understand a person first, before you decide if they are worthy of love, but the truth is you will never truly understand a person until you love them. Translated: Be open and willing enough to decide to love someone from the start and you will have a much better chance of coming to truly understand them, and of course from there love grows.

Now stay with me here because making the decision to love first isn't as mechanical or as bat shit as it may sound! Let me explain…

I feel like my marriage with my husband has that same vibe of the kind of arranged marriage that Marianne spoke of. (Yes, in my head we’re on first name terms.) You see I “met” my husband online on the 5th January 2014. We met in person on the 20th January. We spent a lot of hardcore quality time talking, hanging out, over a period of a few short weeks. We spoke very openly to each other right away about our experiences, our feelings about our experiences, past relationships, how we’d changed as people, what we were passionate about, what we wanted out of life. He told me after a week of dating he knew he would like to be married and have more children. He was scared it would freak me out but I thought it was a hella smart idea. Because he was right, it might have freaked me out, but better to know now that that wasn’t what I had envisioned for my future, than three years down the line with a joint mortgage, 2 dogs and a holiday to the Seychelles depending on us. By the 26th of January I knew I loved him. A couple of weeks later he asked if I’d like to do something really crazy, like get married towards the end of the year. I said there was only one problem, I’d always seen myself having a summer wedding so we’d have to do it sooner.

So three weeks in, we’d covered what felt like all the essential bases. Something in both of us felt a magnetic pull to make this forever, so we were unofficially engaged by February, officially engaged by April and married in August.

And now I’ve regaled you with the tale of our whirlwind and fairytale courtship, let me tell you, it has not all been rainbows and lollipops. (All the smug marrieds out there chorusing “No shit Sherlock!”) This again is a whole nother blog post, but no one talks about how difficult the first few months, possibly even years, of marriage are. It’s meant to be all honeymoon drenched romance and rabbit like love making. Actually (in my experience anyway, I really hope I’m doing it right?!) it’s more like let’s discuss our joint finances, how can we renegotiate our working hours so we actually get to see each other, should we get an extension on the house and could you please hang up your coat / turn off the lights / bring your breakfast plate downstairs?! There are a lot of emotional, practical and spiritual adjustments to be made when you make a proper formal lifelong commitment to another human being.

A surprisingly accurate depiction&nbsp;of what hubs&nbsp;experiences when he gets home from work every night.

A surprisingly accurate depiction of what hubs experiences when he gets home from work every night.

There have been times in our relationship when had we not decided to commit to each other in a serious and soulfelt way, we may not have survived the, shall we say, “heated debates” and “miscommunications” that ensued. In fact, had we not made the decision to commit to each other in marriage, such exchanges probably would not have arisen, because there’s something almost alchemical about commitment. It makes shit happen. It accelerates the miracles and the lessons. When you make the declaration to the Universe that you mean business, the Universe responds by putting you on the PhD in love, career, family, self, whatever it is you just made your vows to.

ACIM has whole swathes of its text dedicated to busting the myth of “romantic love” as an ego construct. This is not to say so called romantic gestures are bullshit (every girl loves a surprise red rose / pair of diamond earrings, hint hint!) but instead to say that the vision of perfect romantic Hollywood love, that one person who will come along and be your saviour and salvation, who will rescue you from the misery of loneliness and lack of self worth, and forever pander to your every whim, and of course, do it before you even had to ask, is false.

The point of the spiritual path (whatever yours may be) is the attainment of inner peace that comes with realising your own wholeness, and crucially, not expecting another person to “complete you”. Being able to truly love someone and be the person that could be truly loved is not about the love that the movies and songs on the radio sell us. It’s about releasing expectation, and attachment to the outcome. It’s about knowing that your safety lies in your vulnerability and allowing your walls, your armour, your defences to crumble, so you can be 100% open and honest with another. So that you may be able to love them first before asking them to prove themselves worthy of your love. It’s about letting go every day of the person you so wish to cling on to. And it’s a process. For most of us, this is not how we’ve been taught, so we’re having to re-learn, to remember.

And what I’ve re-learned in my marriage is this: The ego’s romance is nice. Gifts and flowers and steak dinners and love notes and hourly texts are lovely. But they’re form rather than content. They make a relationship look pretty from the outside, like a present neatly tied with a beautiful pink bow. But what’s the point of a beautiful wrapping if what’s inside is rotten or worse, empty? So it’s important not to fall for thinking the ego’s romance is the substance of your relationship. The real content of life and relationships, most of the time, does not come with a perfect pink bow, but when you can fully give yourself over, with vulnerability and soulfelt commitment to what is available to you, you will experience love beyond anything the ego could sell you, beyond even your wildest dreams.

So to all those working on dropping their defences and co-creating a whole lotta whole, alone, or with another, take heart. It’s not always easy, but I can promise you it’s always worth it. xo

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Committed love: It's not always easy but it's always worth it xo&nbsp;

                                                        Committed love: It's not always easy but it's always worth it xo 


If you’d like to chat more about love, romance and relationships and get some ACIM guided Spirit Deej advice on all of the above, join me this week for my live Hangout on Wednesday 11th February at 1pm GMT / 8am EST / 5am PST where we'll be talking all things love, romance and relationships. As always there's LIVE Q+A if you can join me in the moment PLUS you'll get the recording afterwards if you can't. Be sure you're signed up to get access. 

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Calling time on bridge job shame.

Times are tough. Here's Queenie on her trial shift.&nbsp;

Times are tough. Here's Queenie on her trial shift. 

I'm coming out and saying it. I have a bridge job. A big old BJ. (At the time of writing - I started this post waaaay back in September 2014 - I actually had two). It's not easy to tell you this because there's some part of me that judges myself for working in a J.O.B part time. There's some part of me that feels like I admitted defeat when I went for my trial shift. There's some part of me that feels like a fraud, like people wouldn't take me seriously as a spiritual mentor if they knew the truth. 

Then there's the part of me that remembers how many times I've coached my clients through the same fears as they transition from the 9-5 into their true passion, or perhaps make the leap from one business, which they no longer love, to one they're smitten with. That move isn't always smooth, especially financially. Sometimes it requires, for the sake of sanity and credit ratings, a bridge job to make that move. I have preached many times to my clients that there is nothing higher in integrity than demonstrating their commitment to their passion by doing what it takes to do their work, while still paying the bills. And I truly believe all of this, but aren't I meant to be "further along" than this by now? (Said my ego).

I feel like now is a good time to give you some background (relax, it's the potted version.) I've led a pretty privileged life for my circumstances. I was born to a full time housewife / sometime bookkeeper and a coal miner, AKA mum and dad to me. When I was little most of the coal mines in England closed and my dad, all of a sudden was out of what had always previously been a lifelong job. In an unusual twist of fate my parents bought a franchise and ran it together for 15 years. They worked hard and turned our fortunes around. We went from being a working class family at heart and home to a working class family at heart and a lower middle class family on our bottom line. I went to university, pretty comfortably I might add. My sister is an accountant and drives a very shiny white Beemer.  My parents have always been super generous. They have, at various times in my life, supplemented my income, funded my hair brain schemes and plural moves across the country, bailed me out, as well as saved diligently for me throughout my childhood and teen years. Then I set up my own international business in social media marketing and reporting which did me very nicely thank you. So I've never had to get a bridge job. Ever. Until now. 

I'm the oldest, wisest, smartest, most skilled, most experienced and most confident I've ever been, and on Friday nights I pull pints and sell people pork scratchings and chilli nuts weighed out in little paper bags, (again, true at the time of writing, I have since quit the pint pulling!) and during the days I care for a lovely young woman with cerebral palsy. 

So I'm sure you can see my dilemma. In this fast paced world of online obsession and creating a perfectly polished Internet image, having a bridge job or two just doesn't quite cut it. 

But I want to turn that on it's head. Because despite my wobbles, despite my (now less frequent) feelings of fear and fraudulence, it actually feels pretty good. It feels good to grow up and take responsibility for my life and my finances and the impact they have on my family of creation. It feels good to have a motivating factor in my life - I no longer have unlimited hours to while away doing (or not doing) the work of my business. Ergo the productivity/time ratio has just got a rocket up the backside. It feels good to be working with integrity, commitment and focus towards what I truly desire by doing what needs to be done. And you know what else? After years of sitting on my arse behind a screen for many many hours a day, it feels good to get out and do "proper work", interacting with a motley crew of people, no time or need for editing, just banter and at the end of the night that satisfied feeling that I moved my body and I'm tired because I did physical work, not just because I'm pixel-weary. (Never fear though my lovely Spirit Loving Spirit Deej fans, I'm not writing this to let you know that I've found my true vocation in employment. Just emphasising that my current work situ is for now, not forever, and for now I'm cool with it.)

...Yet.&nbsp;

...Yet. 

I'm also outing myself because I KNOW how many other people out there, especially in the spiritual / holistic / coachy realm also have bridge jobs that they never talk about. You want to know what the last taboo is? It's this. Not being as "successful" or as "far along" as you'd like to be, or as your social media presence would make out. 

And yes, I get it, you've worked hard to create a brand and your cleaning / waitressing / corporate consulting doesn't fall neatly into the niche you've carved for yourself. (I for one cannot see Spirit Deej blog posts on perfect pint pulling techniques or the merits of restocking at the end of your shift rather than the next morning any time in the near future!) However, as the endlessly brilliant Brené Brown shares in the Power of Vulnerability one of the signifiers of shame, crucially differentiating it from humiliation or embarrassment, is silence. We don't share shame. More precisely we don't share things we're ashamed of. And just like Brené I'm aware that I'm getting into murky waters here by even using the word shame, because it turns people off by its very nature. But I have to bring it up, because it feels like there's a lot of shame in our culture as a whole, and in our micro culture of spiritual folks with side hustles, around bridge jobs.

There's a lot of (perceived) shame around having "not made it" yet. There's shame in not being an overnight success, a six figure business owner, a guru, a mogul, a headliner with a book deal. There's shame in not being at a stage where you're fully supporting yourself financially yet, despite these being some of the most difficult economic circumstances the human race has ever created. (Yes, shock horror, gone are the days when uni was free and you could walk out of your grotty student flat with a degree in one hand and a full time employment contract - in your chosen sector - in the other. Hello living with mum and dad, or at least housemates 'til you're 35!) 

So I'm taking a stand right here, right now, for me and my bridge job, and you and yours. For all my Spirit Lovers who are employed and have a side hustle that's their real passion, and for everyone who is making the transition steadily because being in financial disarray is too much stress to bear and will only crush your creativity and drive for your true passion.

Final thoughts if you have a bridge job: You're not alone, you're not a failure, you're not a fraud, it's for now, not forever. xo 

Join my LIVE Hangout next week for more in depth discussion on the issues of money, debt and bridge job shame. Get your Q's in to me live on the day or in advance by email... Register here for free to take part and get the recording straight to you inbox. 

Here's to those who hustle xo&nbsp;

Here's to those who hustle xo 







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The tyranny of positivity: What recent world events are trying to teach us.

For my whole online career I have shied away from making comment on big topical events for fear of being too controversial and in this world of instant judgment on social media “unliked”. Or worse, not educated enough on the subject to make a broad enough, well crafted enough case for my point. So I haven’t shared graphics, quotes or hashtags relating to world events on my social networks because I’ve really struggled with the spiritual implications of “getting involved”.

Over the last year though, I have felt an ever growing sense of seriousness, about life, about my actions, about my thoughts and my spiritual path. (NB. To all the serious police out there: I mean taking my life seriously, not taking myself too seriously. This haircut tells you everything you need to know about my capacity for fun and frivolity. Nuff said.) 

With that in mind and observing the world right now, I feel I need to take on the serious stuff that we watch on the news every night and offer my interpretation despite the fact that it’s somewhat at odds with the trend of unrelenting (and let’s face it, often edited and polished) positivity that’s so often shared on social media. Starting today I'm speaking openly about what is going on in the world, the good, the bad and the ugly, from my personal spiritual perspective. 

I’m also asking you to consider doing the same, especially if you too are an evolving or established spiritual leader. (If you’re working in the world of self help, personal development, coaching, education, healing or therapy, even if not openly or overtly spiritual I also ask you to claim that title, because in some way that is the work you are doing.) 

It is too easy in the lovely land of woo that I, and perhaps you, live in, to get lost in a serotonin filled haze of gratitude journals, angel cards and positive quote graphics on Pinterest. And yet if this is the main substance of our thoughts, practice and teachings, I’m afraid we have fallen into the slippery realms of the "tyranny of positivity".

That is, a tendency in the self development industry to gloss over wider reality, to dare not talk about the fact that people the world over are starving, dying, living in fear for their lives, being oppressed and controlled, tortured and murdered. That whole sections of our global society are having their human rights violated on a daily basis, while we go about our business rubbing crystals for luck and pretending we’re like so totally not stressed when there’s no wifi.

So this is me addressing my own slippage into the tyranny of positivity. From now on I will make it my business to know about and comment on what is happening to people as a connected collective in the wider world, and do my real work, which is also your real work: To shine light onto darkness.

 Since the tragic events in Paris two weeks ago I’ve been thinking a lot about what it all means. I can’t help but notice that there has been a focus in reporting and discussion firstly on freedom of speech, which for me simply doesn’t go deep enough – more on that later – and secondly on labels for types of people and behaviour that come with implied attached meanings that ultimately keep us disconnected, entangled in fear and darkness. Light has had no place at the table.  

From what I can see, the recent situation in Paris and it’s surrounding vicinity, and so many others like it, is about individuals choosing behaviours and attaching their chosen flag or symbol – but the name of the religion, political party or cause doesn’t matter. This is a human level thing. Words like “extremist”, “fundamentalist” and “radicalized” are thrown around in the popular press and it’s intimated through their usage that certain groups have a monopoly on this kind of behaviour, but again, it’s actually a human level thing.

And so this has shifted the emphasis of discussion to be one of freedom of speech, which is absolutely valid and it needs to be had, but ultimately it’s a surface level conversation that is just one part of a much bigger issue in our global psyche.

This is where we need to take a deeper look at the root causes of the deaths and catastrophes that are happening all too often at the hands of people that identify with labels like “extremist”. The freedom of speech argument, as I said, is very valid and yet with the emotion attached to it, it’s easily turned into a petty exchange of he said, she said, where people are passionately telling you how upset this cartoon made them, or how important it was that it was published in the first place. At such a delicate and volatile time in our human history it can become a very personal and loud exchange between individuals that tends to get us not much farther ahead than having the airwaves filled with more noise, discontent and proclamations of offense.

What I feel we really need to be discussing, as a global society and especially in the consciously spiritual community, is how have we created this very specific environment on Earth, either by active thoughts and actions of hate and fear, or by the tyranny of positivity - not acknowledging or glossing over the bad, the difficult, the controversial in favour of pretending that if we just regurgitate enough spiritual chat about meditation, it will all go away.

As the Spirit Deej, I get asked “If God / Source / Spirit / the Universe exists and all this woo stuff is real, why do children starve and people get cancer and why did Hitler exist and the holocaust happen?”


The answer? God / Source / Spirit / the Universe did not do those things. WE did those things. People did those things. WE allowed multi national corporations with their eyes on profits rather than people to put carcinogens in our food and water supplies. Hitler did not commit all those murders and atrocities personally. He had armies of people doing it on his behalf. WE created a society, either by acting in fear, or turning a blind eye to that which was too difficult to face, in which one man with evil and twisted views could entice or enforce so many others to do his bidding in such grotesque ways.  WE have created a world where it’s apparently okay that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth and around 60% of all adults in the UK and US are overweight or obese, while children all over the world starve and die of curable and preventable diseases.

So the discussion that must be had about the violent tragedy in Paris is not one simply of freedom of speech, but one of actively creating a society where this stuff just would not happen. We ALL need to stand up and speak out, and not just DUI of the tyranny of positivity but with full acknowledgement of the scale of horror that surrounds us.

One of our own favourite leaders of the modern spirituality movement Gabrielle Bernstein identifies as a Spiritual Activist and this is evocative - we all have room to be more spiritually active in the world. It does not begin and end with our yoga mats and green tea.

Well meaning yet superficial displays of solidarity on Twitter are no longer enough. (We can pretty much guess that if you are a moderate citizen of the modern Western world you too “sont Charlie”)

It is our responsibility as a human race, but particularly that of the conscious spiritual community to graduate from our childhood and our blind positivity into our adulthood, a place where we can have serious discussions and take serious actions, meta and physical to make real change in the world, on the mortal plane and on the psychic plane. There are deep wounds that need healing in both.

The first step is to lift the veil of attractive yet damaging unrelenting positivity and throw our own meaningful interpretation and guidance around what is happening in the world into the mix of the content we share. If you have a voice and are already spreading your message deliberately and with purpose, I know you have something more to say about all of this than just “Je Suis Charlie”. The world needs you now, more than ever, to lead with your light and speak your truth, even on the difficult stuff. 

A Course in Miracles teaches us “Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation.” If we really want these atrocities to cease, if we really want to live in a safe, free, supportive and accepting world with equal opportunities for anyone who is willing to do their work, we need to start to acting like and being the people that would create that.

So by all means send love and prayers, healing energy and forgiveness to those who are suffering and post about it on Facebook. But it’s time for us to get serious as well.

We need the spiritual community to be doing the real work of facing up to and challenging the darkness in our world. We need your light, all of it, now.

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I'm a massive feminist.

I’m a massive feminist.

There. I said it. And it’s all Hermione’s fault.

Emma Watson killing it on stage as she launches #heforshe at the UN headquarters in New York.&nbsp;

Emma Watson killing it on stage as she launches #heforshe at the UN headquarters in New York. 

Yes I’m jumping on the Emma Watson kicked ass at the UN bandwagon. But not because I’m trying hard to write a topical and newsworthy blog, I promise. Rather because her short, eloquent and heartfelt speech summed up what I’ve been feeling, but struggling to articulate for some time.

You see I’ve always known in my heart that I’m a feminist. I think that really any civilized, right thinking person with even an ounce of compassion in their old bones is. But, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, it’s been hard for me to align myself with various the misdefinitions and pseudo iterations of the word that have been bandied around. Particularly in recent times as strength in the modern feminism movement grows and resistance against it naturally, if temporarily, bolsters in response.

Feminist snark. Who ever said women aren't funny?!

Feminist snark. Who ever said women aren't funny?!

I couldn’t align myself with the vision of an angry, man and make up hating harpy. I couldn’t align myself with the idea that feminism would only succeed once we had crushed all those possessed of a penis, banished them from board rooms across the land and chained them to the kitchen sink for all eternity, “just so they know how it feels. “

 What I felt in my heart was nothing to do with putting men down to raise women up, but to do with true equality, and let me explain what I mean by that because I don’t strictly believe that “we are all equal”.

For example, I cannot run as fast as Usain Bolt. I am not as wealthy or as famous as Oprah. I do not have the bone structure or the thigh gap of Karlie Kloss. I can’t write a song like Prince. And none of them can rap Baby Got Back with a hairbrush mic quite like me. (It's ok Usain, your gold medals will console you).  We’re not equal, as in we're not the same. But all living beings, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, education, ability, background, financial situation or anything other factor you might use to define or discriminate against a person with, are equally worthy. That to me is the true definition of equality. To realise that wherever you may land on a scale of wealth or sexuality or gender or fame that you are just as worthy as the next person and deserve, by your very existence, to be treated as such. 

For me, that is what feminism asks of society. It asks for women and girls to be treated as equally worthy as men and boys, and as a byproduct of its request it requires everyone to be treated as equally worthy, including allowing men and their masculine role to be less rigid, less macho, and more sensitive, open and emotive. It asks for mutual love, compassion and respect. And it asks for support from those who have louder, more oft listened to voices.

Our leader. Psych!&nbsp;

Our leader. Psych! 

 I haven’t done a scientific study on this but I’m going to go for a sweeping generalization anyway, because you know, I can. I’d say most women, on the topic of feminism and gender equality, feel the same way as me. We’re not all plotting a mass uprising of the female of the species led by a mutant 50 foot woman who will lead us to victory over our husbands, fathers and brothers with her lethal Louboutins .

Whether it’s stopping female genital mutilation in Africa, addressing the pay gap the world over, or cutting out the low level sexism we experience every day: wolf whistles from builders, bare bosoms in national newspapers, condescending remarks about “women drivers”, we would just like to be treated like human beings. Go on, try us. We’ve been pushing them out of our vaginas for millions of years. I’ll wager we can take it.  #heforshe

It was pretty cramped inside Barbie.&nbsp;

It was pretty cramped inside Barbie. 



 

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Tinder

Have you heard of the new dating craze? (Yes I’m aware that sentence makes me sound at least a million years old. I’m ok with it.) It’s called Tinder and it’s a smart phone app that allows you to scroll through pictures of people’s faces and pick them off based solely on their looks.

One of my friends has been using it and apparently having a hilarious time chit chatting to random hot strangers. When she told me she was using it I gave a lovingly disapproving groan. She told me that another friend of hers said that it’s really no different to meeting people in bars because that’s all you do in a bar. Check someone out physically and decide if they’re worth talking to based on their looks. At first thought, I’d be inclined to agree.

 

Except for me personally, that’s not my truth. Now I’m certainly not saying that I don’t appreciate the male form on a physical level. As long as I draw breath I will find men physically attractive. But for me it stops there. It’s kind of like looking at a car. I should note at this point that I’m about as far from being a petrol head as you can get, so if you are, this analogy might be lost on you.

 

When I look at a supercar I can see it’s beauty, the craft that went into creating something powerful and sleek and sexy, and how it oozes cool-ness. But it doesn’t get me hot under the collar. I just look at it and think “Oh that’s nice!” and then go on with my day.

So when it comes to meeting boys out in bars or at festivals or wherever else young folk go to meet people these days, I’m looking for the guy who looks like he’s having the most fun, regardless of what he physically looks like. I’m not saying this to be all righteous and pariah like. As I said, men: love ‘em. Bradley Cooper, Gerard Butler and half the boys down at the rowing club, case in point.

Maybe, Yes, No, No.&nbsp;

Maybe, Yes, No, No. 

 

But their physical looks alone don’t get me hankering after something deep and meaningful. For me physical attraction deepens intensely when I get to know someone. In fact, in the majority of my relationships, both casual and serious, I wasn’t particularly physically attracted to my partner before we got into conversation. It was then that I fell head over heels for the boogly eyes, roman nose, bushy hair, skinny legs or ghetto bootay. (In fact if I cared less about the privacy of the people I’ve been romantically involved with I’d provide a pictoral line up so you could see the proof of my varied and indiscriminate choices!)

 

That said the issue I take with Tinder is that it’s not even about the people you decide to connect with. It’s about all those people, those potentially amazing people that you are passing by, saying no to, based on whether they look good in their photo. Because let’s face it, they might be stunning, but if they haven’t got the art of Instagram down there’s no guarantee that it’s going to come across on the app.

 

At least in a bar you have half a chance of seeing someone's personality shine through as they laugh and joke with their friends, play crack shots at pool or dance with giddy enthusiasm to Gangnam Style. On Tinder you're dismissing whole chunks of humanity more easily than you were dismissed when it came time to pick the football / softball / debate / delete as applicable team at school. And we all know how shitty that felt.

Quite frankly, who are you to know that the guy you just said a mental no to based on his crooked smile and hook nose is not the most interesting, loving, funny, exciting, honest, caring, sexy man you will ever meet?

 

That's why, for me, Tinder or any other website or app that encourages you to pick off people based on their physical appearance is really not going to do you any good in the long run. Unless of course you are looking to have several potentially meaningless, potentially profound, who knows it's really pot luck when you're choosing people based on the arrangement of their facial features, hook ups that may or may not lead to what you are or aren't looking for. Honestly if that's where you’re at right now, go on with your bad self and have lots of clean safe fun! That is always my caveat. No judgement, just don’t kid yourself that it’s a smart way to meet someone you want to have a genuine relationship with.

I refer you to this interview with Dustin Hoffman where he sobs because he realises through the experience of acting in drag for Tootsie how many interesting women he has likely dismissed during his life because they didn't fit the ideals of beauty that we ascribe to at this particular time and place. 

 

What do you think of Tinder? Have you tried it out? Have you met your soul mate there? Or do you prefer going to dinner dances to meet potentials mates? Tell me! 

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