Things to Believe In
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Change Your Mind -
Change the World
Those who argue and discuss without understanding the truth are lost amid all the forms of relative knowledge, running about here and there and trying to justify their view of substance of ego.
Pure in it's own nature and free from the categories of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefined wonder, which is wrongly apprehended by many.
BS In The Boardroom
August 23, 2008
What are leaders pretending not to know?
The summer of 2008 is winding down and many are facing serious questions about leadership and change within an evolving cultural landscape. It’s a time when social, economic and political challenges have more moving parts than at any other time in recent history.
Where are the leaders with the clarity and integrity to put people and planet before profit? Where are the consumers and workers willing to put their social awareness and principles into action? How do we change from unconscious to conscious behaviors?
A problem can’t be solved by the level of thinking that created it. We know the quote and we know who said it. Einstein was a really smart guy…but the average leader isn’t Einstein and we really don’t need them to be.
The prevailing definition of leadership has been shaped by our history as a nation and a species built on a hierarchial structure of authority. Despite the abundance of policies, programs and tools designed to ensure 'equal opportunity in the land of the free and the home of the brave', the picture of leadership that the majority of us subconsciously submit to has been one of command and control - a blustery 'Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way' version of The Historical Discourse.
Much of what shapes our thinking and actions are subliminal images and unconscious thoughts, hidden beneath our surface awareness. As Dee Hock, founder of Visa International and pioneer of the Chaordic change process, states; “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.”
And the Buddha said:
Knowing emptiness, deluded vision is purified;
Contemplating loving kindness, behavior is perfected;
Understanding the unity of multiplicity is meditation
And the ultimate goal is the ubiquitous one taste.
How can we free ourselves from the bias of our Historical Discourse?
What are our leaders pretending not to know?
The solutions we seek can only be found in embracing the infinite territory – the larger territory that is ours if we have the courage to accept and act on our highest values about what is true.
In every moment each of us is a leader – the leader of our best self. We alone have the freedom, power and obligation to change our minds…change our actions and change the world.
When we find Buddha in our boardrooms, the BS will disappear…
In Oneness on the Path we Share
When does Life Begin
August 16, 2008
This question totally pisses me off.
For the rights of fetuses to be considered an electoral litmus test, I find to be the ultimate charade. Because, let’s get real – regardless of the candidate’s position, it’s always a blatant lie. The ‘right to life’ is never the real issue under consideration, for if it were, there would be a real answer – but in examining the platforms and track records of both parties, it’s clear that neither has a clue.
Democrats say “We’re Pro-Choice! Pro-Abortion! We believe in a Woman’s Right to Choose! Life begins at birth (not conception). But…after that, your life is not your own. The government protects you, defends you, feeds you, dictates what is and is not good for you and sees to it that everyone except for a small number of elite live in mediocrity!”
Republicans say “We’re Pro-Life! Anti-Abortion! We don’t kill Fetuses! Life begins at Conception! But after that…the government can torture or kill you if it determines that you are defective. It will spend your money to kill other people; it will fund and maintain systems that support the rich, so that the weakest among you will barely survive!”
The politicians aren’t the only ones in the hot seat here. Spiritual leaders don’t know when life begins; don’t know what ‘the soul’ is, and have dozens of theories about what happens when we die. And scientists aren’t much better. They can’t tell us what happened before the Big Bang – can’t explain the ‘how’ behind the ‘what’ of Darwin’s theory, they remain stymied by inconsistencies between Newtonian and quantum physics, and ignore anything that doesn’t fit their mathematical model of the world.
But when did ‘not knowing’ ever stop any of them from pretending? When was the last time you heard a politician, pastor or researcher say ‘I have absolutely no clue’?
The truth is that the politicians, clergy and scientists all know they’re full of it. It’s the rest of us, I’m worried about. We spend so much time thinking we really know the answers to fabricated questions that we fail to ask the questions that matter – the ones that will allow more of us to fully experience the life we have.
One thing we know for certain is that we are here now – given a precious life to live. The exact moment of our birth is unperceivable by us, limitless and timeless, indefinable in words, theory or practice. Do not be fooled by anyone at any time! Ask questions that matter! Discover what it means to be fully human and awake in this life – the precious one we have been given.
In Oneness on the Path we Share
What are we pretending not to know
August 7, 2008
Lately I’ve been having thoughts about thought - about what we know, what we don’t know and what we are pretending not to know. By now we’ve all heard the definition of ‘insanity’ as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. By that definition, most of us are crazy. Now, I can hear some of you saying ‘speak for yourself Kathryn’..
The modern-day human is captivated by concepts, products and scientific findings that promise to help us to live longer, happier and healthier lives. From the wizards at Google, to Donny Deutsche, Bill Gates and everyone in between – we’re constantly searching for new models, methods and means of finding wealth and comfort; of escaping pain and suffering.
Whether primal and hard-wired (as in hungering for a meal) or high-minded and visionary (as in seeking a cure for HIV Aids) – our thoughts are usually engaged in creating a picture of an ‘out there’ that’s different than the reality we see ‘in here’.
Of course, it’s natural for us to want a better life for ourselves, families, friends, communities and ultimately the world. This is the lesson that Abraham Maslow taught us. He would be proud to see how well his concepts have caught on and been furthered by some of the brightest minds of our time.
As it turns out, the healthy human brain is incapable of 'not knowing'. Within its medial frontal cortex exists a built-in mechanism for learning from errors, called an ERN, or error-related negativity. Whenever a situation occurs that differs from a desired outcome, the electrical circuitry literally ‘shocks’ itself in an attempt to learn from the mistake. This neurological response occurs whether the mistake is conscious or unconscious. ERNs are so accurate that they register a shock even before an error is made!
However, the same brain that tries to teach us, can deceive us when we ignore or disregard its advice. In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by either modifying an existing belief, or by rejecting the contradictory idea.
Take a simple element of ego identification such as, "I am a staunch Republican " or "I am a high roller." This thinking can cause cognitive dissonance when the brain is presented with evidence of a bad choice or something that contradicts a closely held belief. When we attempt to avoid the stress of cognitive dissonance, we either interpret the information positively or deny the contrary or uncomfortable evidence altogether. Often, this unconscious process paves the way for more bad choices. Consistency, rather than learning from mistakes, becomes the goal. So a person might vote for candidates without considering all points of view or might keep gambling after he or she has incurred significant losses.
Taken a step further, too much collective dissonance leads to ‘Groupthink’, a primary means by which corporations and politicians persuade us to buy and accept things we don’t need or want. We consume toxic products and consume dangerous chemicals and food additives daily as a nation without as much as a communal peep. The profit machine counts on consumers to ignore the truth on everything from newscasts and packaging to mortgage applications and credit card statements. Much of what we consider ‘the system’ counts on us to unconsciously disassociate the ‘doer’ from the deed while we perceive ourselves as ‘good consumers and citizens’ making our way in the land of opportunity.
So, the brain giveth and taketh away. It shocks us when it detects an error and then offers us a means of avoiding discomfort. Our ego mind identifies so closely with its OWN thinking and its OWN decisions because it is designed to maintain equilibrium. Changing our mind literally causes the brain to fire off negative neurotransmitters. As a result, once we make a decision, it is very hard for the brain to reverse it.
Knowing that changing our mind is hard once we’ve made it up is one thing; doing something about it is another. As cognitive dissonance is an ego-based avoidance mechanism, simple logic tells us that the smarter and more positive we think we are, the more easily our brains can be fooled. This is why everyone we know (except ourselves, naturally!) misses what’s in their ‘blind spot’. We can see beyond everyone else’s maps to the territory beyond – why can’t they?
How can we short-cut 'not knowing'? How do we train our brains to follow the sound advice of ‘shocks’, such as the one that stops us from jumping off a building, while transcending those that keep us trapped within our self-referencing maps? How do we calm what Buddhists refer to as ‘habit energy’ – those repetitious thoughts and actions that lead to ignorance, pain and suffering?
What are we pretending not to know?
Cognitive dissonance and the urge to resist it can’t help but arise – must arise – whenever we desire something other than what we believe we already have. To do so, is the essence of what Eastern wisdom traditions call dualistic thought – the source of confusion and suffering.
We now know that our thoughts manifest as patterns of energy that affect our biology and nervous systems in deep and lasting ways. This energy is what attracts and connects us to each other – locally, globally and beyond. Scientists believe that dark matter and worm holes point to a more extraordinary connection with ‘out there’ than humans have ever dared to imagine from ‘in here’.
The comfort we seek can only be found in embracing the infinite territory that is already ours. Our escape from suffering lies in stepping outside of our limited mind maps. Our true wealth is the abundant richness of knowing that nothing can be added or taken from what we already have. In every moment and with every breath, we have the freedom, power and obligation to change our minds…and change the world.
In Oneness on the Path we Share
Forty Years On
|June 5, 2008|
Remembering Bobby Kennedy
Subterranean Homesick Blues is a 320-word string of musical genius that surged through the energy pattern known as Bob Dylan in 1965. A popular 2008 iPod download, most folks are likely naïve to the song’s meaning and blissfully unaware of the artist’s cynical disregard for the United States of Amnesia.
A shaman of Rock and Roll, Dylan was the original rap artist back when his brand of hip-hop was commonly known as hip. Mirroring our collective shadow, revealing the truth beneath our denials, the periphery past average seeing, his gift was a cultural Rorschach—with one person’s interpretation as valid as the next. An eternal trickster, he was great at dropping clues, but artfully vague about meaning.
No one, save perhaps the Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour played backwards) or Moody Blues (heavy shit that vaporized on contact), could ignite a more heated round of version warfare than Dylan. As hot wax eked its own unique pattern on the Mateus bottle neck, we rocked back and forth in a circle, smoking funny cigarettes and attaching hidden messages and premonitions of apocalyptic doom to every line.
Who is in the basement mixing up the medicine? Are John Lennon and the Beatles doing LSD? Is it a drug dealer about to get busted? Is it a depression-era moonshine maker? Is it the Manhattan Project II? Is it unconscious mind control? Is anyone minding the store? Does it depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is?
We can’t interpret Dylan’s lyrics, never mind agree on them—but nobody can tell a Hippie Chick that she can’t create her own version.
You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…
Classic Dylan's Classic Version Hippie Chick Version
Johnny's in the basement Walker’s in the fed pen
Mixing up the medicine They trashed the constitution
I'm on the pavement I’m rising up again
Thinking about the government Wake up, they can kill you man
The man in the trench coat CIA showing up today
Badge out, laid off John O’Neill quit
Says he's got a bad cough He’s gonna take a hit
Wants to get it paid off When the fire gets lit
Look out kid Be afraid
It's somethin' you did You’re not getting paid
God knows when Any day now
But you're doin' it again They’re raising the plow
You better duck down the alley way Hang low, hang ten
Lookin' for a new friend Don’t trust the gas man
The man in the coon-skin cap The spin or the grass man
In the big pen Out to get a new view
Wants eleven dollar bills The small fish on the hook
You only got ten Is bound to be you
Maggie comes fleet foot Sally’s got a new job
Face full of black soot Song is a sad sob
Talkin' that the heat put Knows she’s selling out but
Plants in the bed but Sex on the beach slut
The phone's tapped anyway Sally don’t you tell all
Maggie says that many say You’re risking the big fall
They must bust in early May Hanging around at the mall
Orders from the D. A. Troops strong, standing tall
Look out kid Be afraid
Don't matter what you did You still ain’t getting paid
Walk on your tip-toes Your feet caked mud brown
Don't try "No Doze" Won’t work down town
Better stay away from those When the wave comes round
That carry around a fire hose No one left above ground
Keep a clean nose Don’t make a sound
Watch the plain clothes Dogs in the pound
You don't need a weather man Nail sticking out from the rest
To know which way the wind blows Is gonna get hammered down
Get sick, get well Pump up, get thin
Hang around a ink well Anything to fit in
Ring bell, hard to tell Get close to the pin
If anything is goin' to sell Keep it hid it’s not cheatin’
Try hard, get barred Work hard, fall behind
Get back, write Braille Don’t care, don’t mind
Get jailed, jump bail Lost cause, won’t find
Join the army, if you fail A way out of the daily grind
Look out kid Be afraid
You're gonna get hit Cash, check or trade
But users, cheaters The dance is fast
Six-time losers Not built to last
Hang around the theaters Hard dudes cruising fools
Girl by the whirlpool Pump hot, looking cool
Lookin' for a new fool Fallin’ off a barstool
Don't follow leaders Your world is reeling
Watch the parkin' meters As the paint is peeling
Ah get born, keep warm Eyes open, sun flows
Short pants, romance, learn to dance Looking out of the windows
Get dressed, get blessed Fit in, sing hymns
Try to be a success Wear a pair of wire rims
Please her, please him, buy gifts Do this, do that, reach high
Don't steal, don't lift Keep clean, bake pie
Twenty years of schoolin' All your life taking care
And they put you on the day shift And you still have nothing to wear
Look out kid Be afraid
They keep it all hid Bed's already made
Better jump down a manhole Your heads under the pillow
Light yourself a candle Far from the air flow
Don't wear sandals Nowhere to go
Try to avoid the scandals Don’t let anyone know
Don't wanna be a bum Keeping appearances
You better chew gum Steel appliances
The pump don't work Convection heat
'Cause the vandals took the handles You're here now, gone tomorrow
Through Morgan's Eyes
April 11, 2008
Through Morgan's Eyes
Writing is a hard, humbling and challenging affair. If something is to be considered any good at all, it must evoke a reaction or transport someone to a place they've never been. To do that, the words must resonate with our deepest truth about what it means to be human.
One might think that as a person matures her writing ripens. On one level this is true, but more often the layering on of experience does much to obscure our access to truth. Only when we're connecting beyond life’s layers of interpretation can our essence be revealed and permitted full expression on the page.
My granddaughter, Morgan Elkins, had just turned nine years old when she wrote the poem below entitled "Rain". It took her less than two spontaneous minutes to express a simple, yet evolved, expression of life. Without a doubt, I could not replicate the beauty and simplicity of her writing, given all the time in the world.
A poem by Morgan Elkins
Rain, you splatter and splat
Raindrops, you are like an acrobat
Oh, what beautiful patterns
You make on my window
Oh, go, rain, go!
You drip, drop, slip and slide
Way, way down to the ground
And in the lake, it seems like you drown
But really you are dissolving into something bigger
Oh rain, rain, rain!
You’re so beautiful on my window pane
For Oneness Sake... Give the Oneness Blessing a Try!
February 4, 2008
I’ve received questions about the “Oneness Blessing” so in this journal entry, I’ll explain a bit more about it – but you’ve got to promise me you’ll check it out at www.onenessuniversity.org and attend a Oneness Blessing soon because I’m not an expert (yet). Okay…
What is the “Oneness Blessing?”
It is a non-denominational benediction; a unique and specific blessing, the “Oneness Blessing” is a transfer of pure energy, designed to bring about the congruent state of awareness in the recipient. The blessing is transferred by a trained and certified facilitator by placing his or her hands onto the crown of your head for about 1 minute.
How does the “Oneness Blessing” work?
Receiving The Oneness Blessing activates the joy centers located in the brain stem by stimulating a neurobiological action that calms the parietal lobes of the brain. This is the portion of the brain that creates the sensation of separation we experience as being disconnected with others and what we perceive as the exterior ‘world’. When the lobes are calmed one gets a sense of deep peace or love or bliss; hence the reconnection with our natural state of Oneness and the name, “Oneness Blessing.”
But I’m Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, Morman, Hindu, etc.
The Blessing is NOT a religion. In fact, thousands of people of all religions and walks of life are regularly receiving the Oneness Blessing. That said, scientists in Europe have found the effects of the blessing in the brain stem and limbic system similar to the effects caused by long term meditation and prayer found in the brains of monks and nuns of various religions.
Why is this helpful?
The Blessing fosters center brained functioning, dispositional transformation and a reduction in confusion and extraneous mind chatter. When distracting, unproductive and time consuming internal dialogue is reduced to present awareness, there is increased clarity of mind. Many in today’s frenetic world find themselves in a “monkey mind” state where the brain becomes a confused jungle of memories past and fantasies future – anything to avoid stillness and present moment awareness.
The Oneness Blessing brings about the state of awareness that reconnects us with our original source, the divine, sacred and compassionate heart – a state of acceptance, joy and innocence.. Blessing by blessing the brain is calmed and a heart connection made.
What's all the buzz about Integral?
And... why should anyone care?
November 30, 2007
This journal entry was scheduled to be about “beliefs”. About “owning results in advance”, and about maintaining mindfulness—that moment-to-moment state of being that enables one to meet each condition that arises from our thoughts, emotions, and actions with acceptance, elegance, and ease.
The piece would have featured a series of desperately random occurrences, cleverly laid out like pieces on a giant puzzle board. A chronicle of connect-the-dots moments, viewed against the backdrop of my meaning-making, entitled The Summer of 2007.
It was a summer of odd coincidences surrounding, among other things, the very subject of beliefs. Like bumping into John Kerry in the Charleston Place hotel at the exact moment he’s barking “you need more than a belief!” to a glassy-eyed staffer. Fairly credible advice from a man who likely “believed” that he’d be living in the White House some day… Or the steady drip of comments and questions about The Secret – “have you read The Secret? How do you like The Secret? Is Hippie Chick REUNION like The Secret, about The Secret, as good as The Secret?” Yes, it’s a start, sort of, no, no comparison, thanks for asking.
But this isn’t about any of those things. Nor is it about filling in the dark space and blind spots of human folly, trance, illusion, and pain. On second thought, perhaps it is about exactly that, but you can be the judge.
What is Integral?
A short answer to the question “what is Integral?” is that Integral is a framework and set of practices that provides a highly useful means of solving for X when X equals everything. And let’s face it; everything going on today appears to need solving, doesn’t it?
A lot of people associate Integral with Ken Wilber and AQAL—his “all quadrants, all lines, levels, stages and states” philosophy. There are links to Integral Institute and glossary entries about it on this web site, including workshops offered by them and Omega Institute, among others. So check it out. It is wonderfully informative and fascinating stuff, and Ken’s reputation as the world’s most prolific and influential modern day philosopher is well deserved. That said, Integral understanding without Integral Practice is incomplete, bordering on useless, and potentially destructive.
What is Integral Practice?
Again, a short and incomplete answer, but I offer it anyway. It is the embodiment and expression of moment to moment openness, acceptance, creativity and natural reason, applied to the act of being and becoming on earth.
There is a nifty kit you can order from Integral Institute that gives you all the information and tools to actually learn and do Integral Practice.
In fairness, there are lots of places and ways to practice Integral mind, body and spirit with others who are actively participating in becoming more than they may previously have imagined. Some perfectly amazing examples are the Oneness Movement, Spiral Dynamics, NLP and Hypnosis, TIA (The Integrated Approach), Yoga, Reiki, and hundreds of mindfulness, meditation, movement, personal improvement and energy practices. It’s human, without the stories we tell ourselves. It’s the joy of connecting with spirit, love, compassion, and grace – not to the banishment of reason but in balance with it.
No doubt you’d like a bit more information; I understand. But no matter how much I think about it, meditate on it, discuss it with others, or research about it, the notion of teaching and enlightening you, the reader, falls short because the experience is lost in translation—it’s a subjective experience in the “I” space, an interpersonal experience in the “we” space, and a cultural change in the “collective” space that transcends and excludes pithy explanations.
While informative, entertaining, and interesting, our habitual ways of seeing always present a limited translation and are less enriching, empowered, and effective than they could be. What words could express what life on earth would be like if we could see and move past the “edges”—beyond our current awareness and models of the world?
Many of these Integral Practitioners and givers of Oneness Blessings are gifted stewards of our individual and collective selves—people who care deeply about others and want to make a difference in the world. A few will likely be revealed to be charlatans and hucksters out to capitalize on the latest craze. No doubt, you’ll soon be seeing everything from Integrally-based automobiles to AQAL oat muffins and Oneness energy drinks at stores where quality, sustainable living products are sold.
Why should anyone care?
You don’t need to care or even pay attention to Integral Practice or Oneness unless you want to… as you are a part of the process whether or not you notice it.
But if you do, as in anything else, you should remember to bring an open mind and common sense along for the ride. Look, listen, and have fun. Feel free to play and explore new perspectives and ways of using our heads and our hearts in service to becoming the finest family of humans we can be. For our selves, our friends, our partners, families, communities, and the family of humanity—we must believe that there is still time to get back to a new and improved garden.
In oneness on the path we share,
What the "Bleep" does Fox Know?
September 1, 2007
This journal entry concerns the Fox Network’s censorship of Sally Field during her September 16th acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Drama Series. For those of you who were out of the country at the time, the two-time Academy Award winner was excitedly expressing praise and gratitude for mothers when her speech wandered into dangerous “political territory”, Iraq to be precise, and then without warning took a perilous nosedive into the most highly charged political territory of all.
According to Fox, the issue wasn’t Sally’s politics, her gender, or talking about the war. No, according to Fox, their problem was her use of a word that might “offend some people.”
The censors felt that it was okay for Field to say, “mothers who stand with an open heart and wait – wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm’s way, and from war.” Where she got into trouble with the censors was when she continued saying, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place.”
Holy shit – did she say goddamn? You can practically see the ashen, cigar-singed fingers at Fox scrambling for the kill button.
If what Fox management is telling us is to be believed, there are thousands of things Field could have said. She would have been fine if she’d said “no damn wars, no carnage overseas, no stupid wars, no pointless wars, no GW Bush wars, no killing of innocent people and children, no wars based on lies, no wars for oil, no wars that include raping and mutilating of innocent girls and children, no wars without exit strategies, no wars filled with poor disadvantaged ‘volunteers’ who see military service as their only chance, no angry-old-white-man-initiated wars,” or any of a myriad of possible things.
But that’s not what she said. Evidently, it was the “god” in “goddamn” that put Fox over the edge because that phrase might “offend some people.”
The Hippie Chick in me is a bit concerned about this…
I’ll explain more in a moment, but first, I want to let you know what is happening with The Outreach Partners Network. If you only want to read about Sally Field and Censorship on Fox, skip down two paragraphs. Otherwise keep reading now.
The Outreach Partners (http://www.outreachpartners.org/) Things to Believe In Newsletter will launch very soon and we are busily preparing articles, interviews, and content that will bring the “best of” second tier values consciousness to our subscribers, members, donors, and partners every month. To sign up for the introductory issue, to advertise, or to submit an article, please email us at email@example.com.
The theme of the Outreach Partners awareness campaign is the Things to Believe In slogan. It will be featured on T-Shirts along with the yellow, turquoise, coral, and teal colored butterflies emerging from the Rorschach pattern. The question, What do YOU believe in? will be answered by people everywhere for inclusion in a video of personal value perspectives from people everywhere. If you see us, let us know what you believe in and you will help to grace the launch of Things to Believe In TV.
Ok, Kathryn. What is it with you and Fox Network?
What I need to know is…
Whose “god” does Fox find offensive? How can a word like “god” be censured in an age when the world consists of billions of people who worship many different gods, don’t believe in god, or are struggling with their conception or relationship with god?
Is it possible that we can awaken from our media-anesthetized trance and recognize that there exists no uniform, one-size-fits-all god in a global economy of interdependent people, families, governments, and leaders? And that it is perhaps possible to live with each other harmoniously as “One Nation under Gods?” or even “One Planet under Gods or Not, depending upon what you believe?”
Crazy? Really? As long as people see their “god” as The God – as a male, fatherly figure, knower and decider of all things, creator of the universe, and ruler of heaven where you will go if you are a chosen person and the rest of humanity will spend eternity in a torturous and painful hell or something else (go ahead, fill in your definition here ________________________________________________________________) – humans will continue to wage un-winnable wars of escalating complexity and technology. Lead us not into temptation? How about we try “lead us not into extinction?”
As long as our media and government uses this notion of “God” as an excuse to kill, rape, conquer, and exercise power over others, it is not the definition of “God” that we can live with, can we?
So men and women, fathers and mothers, actors and actresses – let’s forget about the censor and listen to our children. They will tell us how pointless, evil, and harmful war is to the human body, mind, and spirit.
Or better yet, listen to our own inner “sensor” to remember who we were as a child. Perhaps it can help us reconcile the collective anger and hatred of ourselves that has given rise to the anger, violence, and hate we project onto the imagined enemy wherever and whenever he or she may appear.
Somehow I believe that God would approve.
In oneness on the path we share,
July 20, 2007
This Journal entry concerns a recent and rather shocking Shampoo epiphany. That’s right. With everything happening in the world; with all the possible things worth thinking about, believing in and caring for, hair soap hijacked my awareness. Ok, it’s not really about the shampoo…it’s about target marketing, branding and values in America – shampoo is just the ‘fall guy.’ Come to think about it, it’s always about values in America - with some poor, innocent, reflective pixel in the montage taking the rap.
I’ll explain more in a moment, but first, I want to let you know what is happening with The Outreach Partners Network. If you only want to read about shampoo, skip down two paragraphs. Otherwise keep reading now.
The Outreach Partners (http://www.outreachpartners.org/) Things to Believe In Newsletter will launch in September and we are busily preparing articles, interviews and content that will bring the ‘best of’ second tier values consciousness to our subscribers, members, donors and partners every month. To sign up for the introductory issue, to advertise or to submit an article, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The theme of the Outreach Partners awareness campaign is the Things to Believe In slogan. It will be featured on T-Shirts along with the yellow, turquoise, coral and teal colored butterflies emerging from the Rorschach pattern. The question, What do YOU believe in? will be answered by people everywhere for inclusion in a video of personal value perspectives from Hippie Chicks and Hippie Chick Reunion “Fans” up and down the east coast beaches, New York City, Boston, New Haven, Boothbay and various spots this summer. If you see us, let us know what you believe in and you will help to grace the launch of Things to Believe In TV.
Ok, Kathryn. What is it with you and shampoo? Here's the scoop...
Recently I found myself in Walgreens, a place I rarely visit, to pick up some - you guessed it -shampoo, for my son-in-law, Tony. Earlier in the day, when I'd asked him what he used, he’d answered “Nothing fancy – I don’t need twenty dollar shampoo,” while raking his fingers through a healthy, ink-black Italian mane that I would give up a bra size for, maybe two.“Which brand?” I’d asked, wanting to avoid a mistake and possibly a second trip to Walgreens. “Anything,” he'd muttered with a shrug. Sensing my need for more direction he casually offered up what appeared to be the first name that popped into his head, “Pantene."Pacing Walgreen’s thirty foot hair care aisle and its endless array of bottles, tubes, brands and types of shampoo, I eventually found the Pantene section. Squaring to face the wall, I prepared for a quick decision. I was mistaken. Pantene offered no less than 15 categories of hair cleansing products, brands and niche formulations. One promised 35% more shine; another offered 65% more fullness and another, 75% more manageability. A poor-man’s option would give me 25% more thickness (as opposed to fullness?) but it carried a BONUS of 33% more product! Then there were the rest; 100% less frizz and 50% more curl, 45% less fade, twice the texture, double the softness and I’m NOT kidding.
I scanned the other brands in search of a simple label but none of them remotely resembled my son-in-law’s request for “Nothing Fancy.” After ten minutes of label reading and price comparison, I returned to the Pantene section and settled on the plainest shampoo I could find.
At $6.75, The clear blue bottle of Pantene Pro-V, Ice Shine, Brillo (yes, Brillo!) Glacial, Shampoo was a steal. In the fine print it promised to “transform dull, lifeless hair into gorgeous shiny hair. Plus, it was ‘reflective’, (whatever that meant), massaged the cuticle and would deliver twice the shine. It was still fancy by anyone’s definition but it would have to do. Half-fearing that even one application of Pro-V Ice Shine to his already gleaming crop of hair could make my son-in-law’s head a ‘blinding’ hazard (requiring UV protective shades and a shadow-box eclipse viewer), I bought Tony his shampoo.
Yes, you are dealing with a mind that has been hypnotized by soap…BUT can someone tell me; exactly when did the shampoo industry go insane? Or perhaps better asked - Have we gone insane and did the shampoo industry merely follow?
When I was a kid we had Prell and Breck and a syrupy balsam fluid with a too-sweet smell. All three of them made our hair look more or less the same back THEN. How did we get from there to here? I’ve already admitted to being in a trance, but are we all? Is anyone literally minding the store? If so, I want to hear from you, because the hippie chick in me is tempted to shave my head in protest, NOW!
Chill out Kathryn? Call me paranoid, but I can’t help but suspect that all of these brands, niches, choices and options are a mass-market conspiracy, deftly engineered to delude us into believing we are celebrities. Whether we are not at all famous, slightly famous, soon-to-be famous, legitimately famous or formerly famous, is hardly the point. That all of us were raised (and raised our children) with chants of “you are special, you are special, you are special” may just be. We believe that we are so special that each of our fully alive, DNA-stamped, biologically rich, strands of breathing, singing ‘give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair’ heads of hair are deserving of their own custom shampoo!
Newsflash…we really are NOT, none of us, special (watch American Beauty or Casablanca if you don’t believe me), no matter what our mothers told us.
For those of you who know that I’ve built a career and comfortable livelihood in the direct marketing industry, the TARGET marketing industry to be sure, know that this journal constitutes hypocrisy of the highest order. And I agree. But women’s prerogative includes the right to change my mind and I can’t help but ask - Could the commercial reinforcement of a “me, me and more me” mindset be plunging us and our unique needs and preferences into a new and more subversive form of the separatism and narcissim we knew in the 50’s and 60’s?
Believe it or not, an item appeared just this moment in the news. It seems there is a new Shampoo that fights depression, delivering time released chemicals directly into the brain. I am not kidding! Is it an accident that a drug-delivering dander fighter should show up – on the radio – NOW? Calculate the odds space troopers!
If you’re brave, continue reading because an even more horrific thought has entered my mind. What if all of these niche specialty brands are fostering a culture of division and exclusion to seduce and anesthetize us into complacency and inaction. Are we on the verge of becoming “people divided against ourselves’ – hypnotized by shampoo and the myriad of other tantalizing items custom formulated for ‘each of us’ in order to set us up, ready to fall like a cardboard cut-out facade? A culture duped by slow-drip commercial reinforcement into believing it is an actual society, one comprised of real people who stand for something meaningful by virtue of what? Which formulation of shampoo will produce our ‘best hair day ever?” If the answer is no, what DO we believe in? Can we take action? Do we know how?
As I’m writing this, my step daughter Rebecca has poked her fresh-from-the-shower head in the doorway. She wants to know what I am writing about.
“The great American Poo Sham.” I hear myself whisper. Exiting my trance, I clear my throat and smile. “I’m writing about shampoo.”
“Have you tried Pureology Antifade Complex – the one on the second shelf, in the taper- necked, pale blue bottle with the dark lavender top?” Rebecca asked, ignoring the poo sham remark as she runs her palm atop her still-wet hair. “It’s fabulous! You know that special feeling you get at the salon when they use the really good shampoo? Help yourself. I think you’ll enjoy it!”
Pausing to consider the eager expression of joy in the young mother’s confident and beautiful face, I can't help but respond with an enthusiastic and resonant “yes – I would love to give it a try.”
In oneness on the path we share,
|June 15, 2007 |
The balmy Florida winter has given way to a hotter than average spring and the rebellious Jersey girl in me is kvetching for us to pack up shop and go to the beach.
"You know the deal…" I remind her, "We’ve got to keep this bird flying as long as we can!"
Commercial pilots sometimes refer to the process of landing an aircraft as a ‘controlled crash’. The thud of the landing gear indicates final descent as the captain eases back on the throttle and the engines groan. Ailerons and flaps screech and click, coaxing the craft into a rumbling lurch and slow float downward. The winged cylinder drifts lower and lower in the sky, avoiding trees, wires and fences until finally the wheels kiss the runway. The reverse thrusters roar as the world whooshes by in celebration of another safe arrival.
Since 1954, this bird has logged enough miles to travel to the moon and back. With a mere five hundred thousand hours on her sturdy fuselage, many trips remain. This year, her itinerary includes traveling, speaking, meeting and planning, writing “Hippie Chick HEAVEN”, visiting book clubs and leading discussion circles and workshops. This summer, the filming of Hippie Chick REUNION will begin with webisodes featuring those crusaders for truth in an unreal world…the SHEMANDOS! Watch for them this fall on REUNION TV. Also, this fall, a group will be attending the Women, Power and Peace Conference at Omega Institute (don’t miss it!) sponsored by the Outreach Partners Network (www.Outreachpartners.org), a nonprofit devoted to helping those who help.
Flight 2007 is but one leg of an amazingly fascinating journey. It’s a good bet this bird will perform her aerial acrobatics, achieve cruising altitude and survive her controlled crash as she has every year before; closer to truth, further from the prattle of the Jersey rebel, but near enough to indulge her playful wiles and feats of wonder.
She doesn’t know it…but when she stops kvetching, we’ll go to the beach.
In oneness on the path we share,