Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in Motherhood (13)

Tuesday
Aug202019

Mixed Messages Medley, Chapter One

If you could go back and change one thing about your mother's life that would make a difference to your own, what would it be? How would it affect your life?

I'm working with older and younger women to explore this question through improvisation, to feed from it to understand each other, to confront what we transmit so we can be free. Here is a sampling from our first rehearsal. 

If it moves you please consider making a contribution so we can continue the process. Funds go to paying the players, the cinematographer, and for rehearsal space. Find me on Venmo (Elena-Taurke) or if you want to make an official tax deductible contribution, here we are on Fractured Atlas

Here are the cast and crew for this rehearsal. 

Cinematographer: Traven Rice

Players:

Ara Fitzgerald
ReW Starr
Elena Taurke
Barbara Thomas

Katelyn Atanasio
Katherine Anne Marie
Manatsu Tanaka
Vassilea Terzaki

August 2019

 

Friday
Aug162019

Your mother?

"Elizabeth Warren" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 White male says to me: "Elizabeth Warren? I agree with what Bill Maher says about her...she reminds everyone of their mother." 

Oh. Really?

And that is a problem because you would never elect your mother for president, right?

Why not, exactly? Because she nagged you when you didn't clean your room? Because she picked up after you when you didn't and perhaps hated herself for doing it, then suffered with low self-esteem because she was cleaning instead of writing/surfing/acting like she was born to do? Because she judged you? taught you right from wrong so that later when you chewed with your mouth open no one would say "Didn't his mother teach him manners?"

I get it. Women of that generation, my generation (a tad older but still, I see it coming) don't get much love. We had to make the difficult choice as young women, be a strident feminist or be a femme and manipulate the patriarchy. Neither role gets us points now. Younger women like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib can be fierce and beautiful, but if you are fierce and older, mockery follows, unless you are Nancy Pelosi, who unapolagetically uses old-world style to keep her cool and keep the men in place. 

The New York Times In Her Words column recently skewered likeability coaching for professional women, and then reviewed gender judo, which is the practice of using a gender stereotype in order to gain power in surprising ways. Like, act like a helpful mom 95% of the time so that you can slice and dice on the sly. Hats off to Nancy Pelosi for mastering this practice. Those of us who are a bit less smooth careen off those likeability rails.

The other day I was walking along in the West Village and saw a clump of young adults bump into a woman my age. Apparently she made a sound because the group cracked up imitating her: did you hear that? “woah!. woah! woooaaah” hahahahhahah. They took turns bumping into each other and making this feeble sounding exclamation. There seemed to be something hilarious about the slight silliness with which she took offense.

How I wished I could have been a superhero at that moment. I would have given the woman shoulders to turn around, square off, and demand an apology. She had a right to take up space on the sidewalk. We're not done yet. 

August 2019

Monday
Apr302018

Upside down mother

"All I want is for you to be happy."

As Mother's Day looms, let's honor the truth coming out of the convict's mouth. This blessing, worthy of a Zen master, delivers deep love, an impossible prescription, and a promise of self-annihilation. Reconcile it and freedom is yours.

A monk asked Yun Men: "When it is not the present intellect and it is not the present phenomena, what is it?" Yun Men replied: "An upside down statement," or the convict's truth, which pairs nicely with his answer in the previous story: "An appropriate statement."

Mama, I think that about covers it. Thank you for doing the right thing when you could. Thank you for trying and failing so I could see what was impossible. Thank you for trying and failing so I could see what was possible. Thank you for wanting what I could never achieve so that I could abandon all hope and enter The Way.

How could I be happy as a child, a disabled burden to displaced parents? How can I be happy as an adult living in a culture that offers poison as happiness potion? When greed is cultivated as virtue, when difference is punished or expelled, when violence excites us so much we can hardly hear the birds sing, how can we be happy?

Mama is just telling it as she learned it, says Jacqueline Rose, writing in Harper Mag. Mama is allowed and expected to be a tiger on behalf of her child but she may not express her own despair. "What the pain of mothers must not expose is a viciously unjust world in a complete mess."

Locked into a fiction, Mama provides an upside down statement.

As a daughter I long for the satisfaction that eluded my mother. As a mother I wish I could give what I never got. My heart breaks for my daughter as it breaks for all of us who thought never again meant something we could count on, who thought we were progressing. All I can offer now is participation. I participate in the tragedy, participate in the blooming trees and sunshine, participate in the enormous moon rising.

Sometimes I even participate in the damn patriarchy. 

And I am happy. 

April 2018

You can listen to the talk on Mother's Day that followed from this post here.

June 2018

 

 

 

Tuesday
Oct032017

10,000 Regrets

Note that searching for "regret" images produces pictures of happy people accompanied by corny slogans about "no regret," and this.There is a poem written by Zen Master Mumon:

Not falling, not ignoring;
Odd and even are on one die.
Not ignoring, not falling:
Hundreds and thousands of regrets!

I am starting to write about the importance of old women standing up for themselves because I am not ready to be sacrificed and I don’t think it will improve things. Nor do I think much good comes of chronic guilt. White guilt causes blindness. Mother guilt, along with sacrifice, causes defense and anger. 

And yet my regrets are many. It is with relief that I confess with the community at this time of year. We acknowledge that to be human is to err, to do harm, again and again, even as we love, attempt to repair, attempt to do better.  

I regret the times that I couldn’t soothe my daughter, that I ran away in my socks, that I fell apart during the divorce, that I fled my body. I regret the times that I attacked my mother, that I belittled and blamed her, that I failed to understand. I regret the times I wasted time and the times I rushed through time. And so much more. 

Not ignoring.  Not falling.  Survival is my answer to the koan.  

October 2017

Wednesday
Oct192016

Am I a Woman?

and Who is the Other?  

I don't mean to be elliptical.  On the other hand, maybe "egg shaped" is exactly what I'm going for. This year I'm co-facilitating a class exploring how we project onto others what we can't welcome in ourselves.  Our categories are Disability, Race, and Gender.   We started the examination of gender with the question:  

Am I a woman?  Why or Why not?

Here is my answer

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul142013

Trayvon and George: Moms and Villians

How must she feel now, Trayvon's mother?   Like all mothers, I imagine she poured herself into her son, wanting him to have a satisfying life, to do good, and to make her proud.  She must have imagined his future many times, many ways.  It might still happen automatically now; maybe she has to stop her mind from imagining.   Because how is it possible to lose a child, to really know that there is no future for Trayvon?   Her son was shot dead for being in the wrong territory, for posing a threat to another man

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov122012

One Lovely Blog. Or not.  

Plans collapse.  Last week, I planned to write a Pedestrian Plea about high art, and then the hurricane hit.  This week, I planned to participate in One Lovely Blog, and then my teenager provoked another crisis.  Or maybe I provoked it.  Don't even talk to me if you have not raised a smart willful teenager in recent times.  Yes, it is worse than it used to be.  Much, much worse.  Someday I'll remove the gag order I've placed on myself, but not today.  

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Monday
Oct292012

Hurricane Hits

My todo list tells me that I need to finish Pedestrian Plea today.   I couldn't finish it last week because my teen was creating catastrophe and my mother was in town and my sleep molecules disintegrated completely under the onslaught of psychological collisions.   Now today, Hurricane Sandy is fast approaching, and I am compulsively cooking, checking weather updates, comparing Facebook posts with my daughter, wondering when the power is going to shut down.  

Pedestrian Plea is all about the accidental absence of life from well-meaning conceptual Art with a capital A.   So, wouldn't it be lovely if I can work in something about how the hurricane is life itself, more art than Art?   A wake-up call of the highest order.

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Monday
Jun042012

Menopause is an Athletic Event:  Insomnia!

I dozed until midnight, then adrenalin and heat fired up my body for the race, the chase, the battle in the jungle.  Only I'm not in the jungle; I'm in bed trying to sleep.  I'm having a major argument with my body:  What is wrong with you?!  Can't you feel the fatigue?  Why are you flooding me with all this energy?  Body:  Hey, it's not my problem; you're the one with all the worries and ISSUES that keep me up.   Mind:  You have a lot of nerve calling me out on ISSUES when these things wouldn't even bother me if I weren't flooded with adrenalin and cortisol and whatever else you're doing to me.  

Most functional people would have grabbed a cab straight to a psychiatrist for Ambien. 

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Sunday
Jun032012

Baby Crone

Sure I thought the release was happening as I turned 40.  I don't care what people think, said I, boldly striding into the decade.  So I unleashed my creativity upon the world.  And then, after making the autobiographical Martyred Moms, I proceeded to suck up praise and criticism like a baby starving for milk.   Don't care? my ass!   Narcissism roared its head and I, helplessly it seemed, inflated and deflated according to the circumstances.  It wore me out.  Like a stone on a beach being polished by smashing up against the rocks.   Smash!  ahhh…  Smash!  ahhh…  see?

50 is Smash.  40 was playing around.  At 50, my life shows on my face.  At the movies, they ask me:  Senior or regular?   I can laugh but I  tell you it feels like a punch.  I'm in another category. 

Not that I was ever beautiful, but I certainly knew how to be eye-catching. Now They don't look at me that way.   If They look at me or talk to me at all, it's often because They need something from Mother--or even Granny. geez!  

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