Mojo Monday ~ Duality

“The conflict of who we are and who we want to be is at the core of the human struggle.  
Duality, in fact, lies at the very center of the human experience.
Life and death, good and evil, hope and resignation, coexist in every person
and exert their force in every facet of our lives.  
If we know courage. it is because we have also experienced fear;
if we can recognize honesty, it is because we have experienced deceit.
And yet most of us deny or ignore our dualistic nature.”
~ Debbie Ford

“Duality” ~ art journal pages by Michelle Fairchild

The above quote by writer Debbie Ford appears in the introduction for a book called The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self.  The book was written by  three best-selling authors, Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson.  In the introduction Debbie Ford goes on to write:  “If we are living under the assumption that we are only one way or another, inside a limited spectrum of human qualities, then we would have to question why more of us aren’t wholly satisfied with our lives right now.  Why do we have access to so much wisdom yet fail to have the strength and courage to act upon our good intentions by making powerful choices?  And most important, why do we continue to act out in ways that go against our value system and all that we stand for? We will assert that it is because of our unexamined life, our darker self, our shadow self where our unclaimed power lies hidden.  It is here, in this least likely place, that we will find the key to unlock our strength, our happiness, our our ability to live out our dreams.”

Debbie Ford continues on about how the shadow effect is everywhere.  “Evidence of its pervasiveness can be seen in every aspect of our lives.  We read about it online.  We watch it on the nightly news, and we can see it in our friends, our family, and strangers on the street.  And perhaps most significant, we can recognize it in our thoughts, see it in our behaviors, and feel it in our interactions with others.  We worry that shining a light on this darkness will cause us to feel great shame or, even worse, to act out our worst nightmares.  We become scared of what we will find if we look inside ourselves, so instead we bury our heads and refuse to face our shadow sides.  But this book reveals a new truth — shared from three life-changing perspectives — that the opposite of what we fear we will experience is what actually occurs.  Instead of shame, we feel compassion.  Instead of embarrassment, we gain courage.  Instead of limitation, we experience freedom.  If left unopened, the shadow is a Pandora’s box filled with secrets that we fear will destroy everything we love and care about.  But if we open the box, we discover that what’s inside has the power to radically and positively alter our lives.”

The dark side, the shadow effect, duality, paradox, and unresolvable dilemmas, have been a recent theme that had drawn my attention recently.  I first began reading about unresolvable dilemmas in a book called Unflappable: 6 Steps to Staying Happy, Centered, Peaceful No Matter What by Ragini Elizabeth Michaels.  I briefly touched on this topic in last weeks Mojo Monday post called Unresolved Dilemmas where I shared a poem about paradox.  

Then there was a fascinating novel I picked up, and then couldn’t put down, called Impossible by Nancy Werlin.  The author shares that the novel began to take shape for her sometime in the mid-1990’s.  She shares that “I had begun thinking about the ballad Scarborough Fair, as recorded by Simon and Garfunkel.  As a teenager, I found the song beautiful and sad and oh-so-romantic….But thinking about the ballad’s lyrics as an adult—and focusing fully on the words themselves, rather than the gorgeous melody and harmony or the mood evoked by the music — I found myself puzzled and then a little horrified.  The man, singing, demands one impossible task after another from the woman, and if she doesn’t deliver, the she’s no ‘true love’ of his…It’s really a pretty cruel song, I thought.  There’s no way that woman can prove herself to that man.  He’s already made up his mind.  I listened some more, and then suddenly I thought: He hates her.”

Consider these stanzas from the ballad Scarborough Fair for yourself:

From the sting of my curse she can never be free
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Unless she unravels my riddlings three
She will be a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a magical shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without any seam or needlework
Else she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to find me an acre of land

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the salt water and the sea strand
Else she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to plow it with just a goat’s horn
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And sow it all over with one grain of corn
Else she’ll be a true love of mine
And her daughter’s forever possessions of mine

Last week a friend also sent me an email that read: This guy is freakin awesome!  (do the close up thing these are A-MAZING)  you have to check it out!!  you’re the only friend I have that will like this ( i think)  “)  Had to share!”  A link to the web site of an artist by the name of Thomas Kuebler was included ~ 

After visiting the site this was my response:  Freakin’ awesome is a great way to describe the art.  I agree wholeheartedly that he is a genius. Wow!  It is actually especially cool that he chooses unusual subjects, those that look different, perhaps ugly and even scary.  So much attention is given to conventional beauty. So much art focuses on classical beauty.”  

Here is a sculpture called Drink with the Devil and a description of the piece by the artist:

“Liquid courage he calls it, the power to do the things you’re afraid to try and to say the things you’ve been wanting to say.  And, when you sing you sound like an angel to your own ears.  Let the warmth rush in and slowly turn control of your will over to him.  Enjoy it, because tomorrow you’ll need him again.  In fact, you may find that once you’ve swallowed him, your courage turns to fear and you can’t live without him.”

Below is another art piece called Madame Orba.  Here is her description:  “The second child of a traveling gypsy dancer, Maleva bore evidence from birth of an affliction.  This aberration was the result of her mother’s indiscretion with a gypsy witch’s husband.  As a child, Maleva’s deformity was hidden with veil, but the gypsy witch’s curse could not be abated.  Maleva was burdened with the power to delve into even the darkest of souls and was forced to speak their truths.  As she grew older, Maleva traveled with her trib as ‘Madame Orba, the All Knowing.’  From village to village, townsfold deemed her a novelty freak until the wretched among them were exposed to the masses.  No, the skeletons never stayed in the closets when Madam Orba set up her tent.  All mysteries, lies and dirty little secrets saw the light of day by the time the tribe pulled up stakes and rolled off to the next town.”

When you think about the shadow and the dark side what thoughts or feelings rise up within you?

What about duality?  Do you sense any duality within yourself?  

If yes, does it create conflict within you or have you learned to accept or entwine the light and dark within yourself?

What about unresolvable dilemmas? Have you experienced the tug-of-war of wanting two opposite things at the same time?  

Commitment or freedom?
Playing it safe or taking risks?
Controlling or surrendering?

Other things to do in an exploration of duality, the shadow and the dark side:

Explore the art of Frida Kahlo, who also was not afraid to depict the macabre in life.    In fact, one interesting story about Frida goes like this according to Wikipedia ~ “Clare Booth Luce, an ardent admirer of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, almost immediately commissioned Kahlo to paint a “recuerdo” (remembrance) portrait of their deceased mutual friend, so that in Kahlo’s words: ‘her life must not be forgotten’. Luce understood a recuerdo to be an idealized memorial portrait and was doubtless expecting a conventional over-the-fireplace portrait for her $400. After being shown in March in Paris, the completed painting arrived in August 1939: Luce claims she was so shocked by the unwrapped painting that she ‘almost passed out.’ What Kahlo created was a graphic, narrative ‘retablo’, detailing every step of Hale’s suicide. It depicts Hale standing on the balcony, falling to her death while also lying on the bloody pavement below.  Luce was so offended that she seriously considered destroying it; but instead she had sculptor Noguchi paint out the part of the legend that bore Luce’s name. Luce simply left the work crated up in the care of Frank Crowninshield, only to be presented with it again decades later, when Crowninshield’s heirs discovered it in storage. She donated it anonymously to the Phoenix Art Museum, where it was eventually outed as a Luce donation. The museum retains ownership, although the painting is frequently on tour in exhibitions of Kahlo’s works.  

Mojo Monday ~ We Are All Meant to Shine!

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
 so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Come sit down.  Make yourself comfortable.  If it was winter I would tell you to go ahead curl up on the couch, with a soft cuddly blanket to keep you warm, and I would serve you some hot Moroccan mint tea, my favorite.  However in my neck of the woods it is summer and we are in the midst of our annual triple digit days.  So instead I will invite you to sit in a lounge chair in our backyard, and you can put your feet in the cool water of our kiddie pool, while we enjoy some cold ice tea together.   

Now that you are settled in I want to share with you how round these Cosmic Cowgirl parts we have been discussing the topic perspective.  I have two very simple points of view to present about life perspectives:

The first one is: Life’s too short not to wear a red boa.
The second one is: We are all meant to shine!
You may have giggled when I told you that life is too short not to wear a red boa.  Quite a few people do.  You may have even laughed when I surprised you by draping a red boa around your shoulders.  The other possibility is that you looked at me like I wasn’t quite all there, wondering what was up with this red boa thing.
Well, the philosophy of The Red Boa, as I like to refer to it in short, is about having more fun and enjoying life more in the present.  Now this approach to life may come easily to some folks.  There are people with naturally positive, happy and laid back attitudes.  However, I recognize that for some individuals this way of being can be very foreign and it can take some actual effort at first to practice at lightening up.  There are also plenty of people who, like myself, fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.  Of course there are always going to be tough life experiences that come along now and again and can make it tough to see the brighter side to things.  There are a number of things that can help us all to keep perspective about this thing called life.  The first one, while it may seem a bit morbid, it is to remember that this thing called life is not a permanent gig that will last forever.  Every single one of us on this planet has an expiration date, it may be many years from now, or it may arrive sooner than that.  The reality can be uncomfortable to consider, but when taken into consideration can help us keep things in perspective.
Let me assure you that I don’t walk around with rainbows shooting out of my ears, sprinkling happy glitter while I skip through city streets nor do I have birds and friendly animals scampering around me while I sing angelically in a forest.  On occasion I do wear glitter and truth be told I may bust a move while cleaning the house, especially if a band like the Gipsy Kings is playing.  
Sometimes my life feels grand and sometimes I want to scream “get me out of here.” Many wonderful things have occurred in my time here on planet earth.  My life has been full of abundance and I always try to be grateful for all that I have.   My life has also been affected by tragic and deep loss and I have even experienced depression.  A few years ago in fact I went through what I describe as a dark night of the soul.  Yet somehow I have always managed to return to what I call a sunshine spot.  Sometimes the return trip to my sunshine spot is quick and I stay there for an extended period of time.  Sometimes I can’t find my way back there for a long time, and those are the hardest times of course.  I won’t delve into all the details of my soul’s story right now, but I believe there is much we can learn from one another’s life stories.  Especially when brave souls come forth to share how they triumphed over adversity and chose to rise above it all.
Perhaps even after the introduction to The Red Boa philosophy you are still asking yourself “But why a red boa?”  I am here to tell you that wearing a feather red boa can be transformative.  There is something about a feather boa that is sassy, playful, mischievous, sexy and a little bit wild.  If the thought of being “wild” sounds a little intimidating consider what reknowned writer Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D writes about the “wild woman” in her introduction to Women Who Run with the Wolves:
“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.  Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.  Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.  Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped.”

If you do not yet own a feathered boa add it to your shopping list right now.    Then make up reasons to wear it.  For example, on my 30th birthday (which unbelievably was 13 years ago) I had my birthday party at a roller skating rink.  My family and friends requested lots of disco music (think Michael Jackson Off The Wall) and a few of us even wore feathered boas while skating.  I for one, am the owner of a rather fabulous collection of feather boas.  I often incorporate them into Halloween costumes too.  There is the flamingo pink boa, the fire red and orange boa, the parrot rainbow boa, as well as boas in simple black, red, green and blue. The photo collage (top left and then counter clockwise) above features me as “Fire,” a rainbow parrot with my twin kittens, a pink flamingo, and then see how I use the rainbow one for decoration by framing a mirror in my art room.  

The reality is that I am a regular run-of-the-mill woman.  I have my low melancholy times, I get angry and feel impatient.  My figure will never walk a fashion show runway and from time to time I even have (gasp) bad hair days.  Yet, underneath there is also my wild woman, who occasionally howls at the moon, has danced in a bar cage and in the rain in Paris, and will when needed (or just for the hell of it) break out the glitter and feathers to help me keep that Red Boa perspective.
Put on
that red boa,
fling it round
your shoulders,
shimmy shake
those full
feminine hips
take pride
 in your stride
 in the tickle
the caress
 of the feathers
feel your skin
oh how good
 it is to be you
one of a kind
a singular creation
of love

What do you do or could you do to stay in touch with your wild woman?

How do you keep perspective (or your cool), if you even do, when the shit hits the fan?

Do you own a feathered boa?  If not, what are you waiting for??


It feels as if I have been catapulted into a more authentic life within the last few months. Only I know the real truth is that I have slowly been working my way up a winding road, seeking and searching for purpose. One of the big, glaring, flashing neon red signs on the long and winding road was FEAR. So many fears.


of failing
of not being good enough
of not being liked
of being alone
of being rejected
of not being smart enough
of not being pretty enough

See how that word “enough” crops up a lot too in such statements.

I once read that FEAR is just an acronym for False Expectations Appearing Real. I can attest that those false expectations can be quite powerful and paralyzing.

Where I am leading with all of this is that I know that I am not the only woman to have such FEARS. At a women’s conference I attended we went around in a circle sharing some thoughts. It was startling how many women, regardless of whether they were young, mature, thin or large, shared how they felt they didn’t feel they were enough.

We women need to change these self-defeating patterns and thought processes.

We must begin to make commitments to ourselves.

We will value ourselves.
We will see our worth.
We will embrace our power.
We can’t change anyone but our self. Yet practicing self-love, self-care, and self-respect will have a powerful impact on others. It is the ripple effect. How we present and how we choose to be in this world will affect others.

Just one woman, who feels good about herself and embraces her power, will influence those around her. Her children, significant other, family, friends, co-workers and people she interacts with in her community will all benefit.

Activity ~ Say the following statements out loud and preferably in a mirror.

I value myself.
I am worthy.
I am powerful.

Suggested Reading
~ A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.
Here is a passage from her book that has become very well known in some circles.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”