No Limits : Tyranny or Freedom

09/02/2016By KimberleyCommunity, Connection, Cultural, Feral Wisdom, Freedom, Political

No Limits

At first pass the idea of having no limits, of the ability to have, do and be anything you can dream of – well, it sounds like freedom.

 

Like the feeling you get on that first leg of a road trip when you take to the highway just before dawn, there’s nothing but miles of empty road ahead and your playing those tunes you carefully curated for just the right vibe. And maybe it will all go exactly the way you envisioned it. There’s also the possibility of traffic jams, no vacancy signs, and drinking too much coffee only to see a sign that says no gas stations or rest stops for another 30 miles.

No limits thinking takes on lots of names – everything from the Law of Attraction to that business coach that claims she has exactly the right formula to get you taking in six figures as of yesterday. No matter the costume it wears, the formula stays basically the same: your thoughts & desires + prescribed actions = your dreams come true.

The lure of that kind of freedom, coupled with a few grains of truth, make the no limits trap tempting, but if you fail to manifest your dreams, the proponents of no limits thinking have a load of rationalization and shame ready for you.

 

They’ll diagnose you with mental blocks, spiritual blocks, emotional blocks. They will tell you that the Universe or God is teaching you a lesson and as soon as you learn it your desires will manifest. The peddlers of no limits thinking don’t care about the real circumstances in your life or your experience of the culture you live in, they will pronounce you unenlightened, flawed and in dire need of fixing. For a hefty price, they will gladly lead you to enlightenment and/or get their wrenches and hammers out so they can repair your psyche. I’ve talked to people who’ve come out of those repair shops with deeper wounds than when they went in and had to spend precious time healing and reclaiming their sense of self.

I was talking with Kelly Diels a couple of weeks ago and she put it perfectly – “The tyranny of no limits.”

 

The coaches, teachers and others pushing the no limits formula become tyrants as they shame and blame you for your lack of success, but that’s not the worst of it. If you fall under the spell of having all your dreams at your fingertips, you will shame and blame yourself for every perceived failure – financial trouble, relationships ending, illness, accidents, the sexist remarks you get at work – every painful thing in your life becomes your fault. You become your own tyrant that demands you find the problem only within yourself and punishes you when your circumstances stay the same or don’t change enough to satisfy the tyrant’s need for the ideal outcome – the no limits formula has no room for simple progress. Even when you achieve one  ideal outcome, striving for more is built into the idea of no limits – there’s no end of the road.

What about those grains of truth?

 

It’s true that our thoughts, desires and actions influence our life for better or worse. It’s true that we can have mindsets that don’t serve us well. It’s true that possibility opens up when we find our voice, empower ourselves, let go of the things that we keep tripping over again and again. AND all of those truths do not add up to a guarantee that we can have, do or be anything we want. We put ourselves in danger of drowning when we jump into the no limits cauldron of illusion and try to stay afloat on a few grains of truth.

 

First, there’s the illusion created by the unearned privilege given to some by our culture.  In this culture, your identity or circumstances affords you with privilege or it oppresses and marginalizes you – and sometimes a bit of both. Oppression is real for people of color, certain ethnic groups, fat people, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities and illness, women, people who don’t fit into our  narrow beauty standards – it’s a long list. The obstacles in their path cannot compare with those of people who are white, in a favored ethnic group, thin, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, healthy, handsome, pretty or born male. No amount of thinking, desiring and doing by a single person is going to render oppression neutral in their life. Period. The opposite isn’t true either – oppression doesn’t guarantee failure – but it sure can impede success in ways privileged groups of people can’t even imagine. So when you see the shiny testimonials next to the picture of the  white, pretty, able-bodied, healthy upper class woman – remember she had a head start.

 

Second, the illusion of complete control coupled with the belief that any  one of us has become so enlightened that we understand the laws and inner workings of the Universe is beyond arrogance and enters the territory of delusion. Reducing things down to cause and effect, believing that there is a one to one correlation between your exertion of personal or spiritual power and the result you get, operating on the notion that your individual power is enough to overcome all other powers present in the world – yes, I count that as delusion.

 

But there are slippery grains of truth here too – our personal energy (thoughts/desires/emotions) can have an effect on our body and our mind, it can influence the kinds of people we attract or repel, it can affect our circumstances.  But our personal energy is not the only thing at work. Aside from the energy put out by the billions of people in the world, there’s the power of pollution, corporate greed, climate change, war, political and economic structures, culture, disease, death, natural disasters,  . . .- another long list. No one, privileged or not, has that kind of power.

And our natural world is chaotic, orderly, fucked up, perfect, beautiful, ugly, hard, easy – you can’t wield enough power to control it. Humans have tried to do that forever and the result has been more destruction, more suffering, more injustice.

Here’s what I believe.

 

We can fish out all those grains of truth, turn our attention to our inner landscapes and do the honest work of sorting out how we’ve been conditioned to think, feel and act. We can uncover and nurture our inherent power and wisdom. What we discover in doing the work opens up possibility, shapes our vision and determines our actions

 

But that’s not all. I believe there’s three key things we need to risk living the life we envision – resiliency, an open heart, and solidarity with others.

 

Resiliency makes it possible for us to navigate things like injustice, loss and disappointment without losing our sense of self or falling into despair. It looks like understanding what we need to take care of ourselves, honoring our experience, letting go of the illusion of control and embracing life as it is.

 

An open heart allows us to know our inherent wholeness.  It looks like ease in giving and receiving love in all it’s forms, it looks like allowing our fierce energy to claim its place along our impulse to nurture, like honoring our anger as well as our peacemaking. When we claim all that we are our empathy for ourselves and others becomes more than sentimentality.

 

Finally, the magic. Solidarity. We don’t have to do any of this alone. We can come together in solidarity to support, comfort and offer compassionate reality checks as needed. I’m not talking about solidarity only with those that share your identity or circumstances – that has its place – but I think it’s time to find our way into solidarity across our differences. Audre Lord wrote, “It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.” She went on to say that when we do recognize, accept and celebrate our differences it creates a collective power that surpasses the power of individuals or groups based only on similarity. With that kind of power we can  face our challenges, begin to take down systems of injustice and create just systems with a foundation of understanding and compassion.

There’s still no guarantees, but the odds improve and the company is superb.

It’s like taking that road trip with fascinating people you adore. Everybody’s music gets heard and you stop at places you never would have thought of. When the traffic jam hits you make up silliness to pass the time and if the car breaks down everyone helps push it to the side of the road. When you meet injustice along the way because someone doesn’t like the transgender woman that’s with you (or the one you run into at the rest stop) everyone has her back. People that see the solidarity and love you all embody feel a longing in recognition of the power and possibility you all represent – you end up taking the train so there’s room for new faces.

This is freedom.

I believe in us.

I believe in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Intersectional View of Our Edges and Comfort Zone

08/29/2016By KimberleyConnection, Cultural, Feral Wisdom, Political, Social

comfort zone

 
Drawing from Intersectional Feminism, in my work I take a larger view of what it means to be up against our edges or outside of our comfort zone.
 
1. If you are part of a marginalized group the larger culture pushes you to your edges and out of your comfort zone. The more obvious the difference, the less choice involved. For example, a person of color doesn’t have a choice about their appearance – wherever they go their skin comes with. And if a POC has another marginalized identity (e.g. transgender) the risk of simply going about their business increases. In either case, an inner sense of safety is hard to access and actual physical spaces of safety may be few. The work is finding a way to simultaneously navigate the culture, have a voice on behalf of yourself and others like you, stay true to yourself, and find the best ways to take care of yourself.
 
2. Many of us straddle a position of privilege and marginalization. For example, I am white – that comes with a whole set of unearned privilege that I have whether I want it or not. I am also a woman, pan-sexual, gender queer, and outspoken on the issues of marginalized people. Depending on the day, because of my gender fluidity there are days I look mostly acceptable to the mainstream and other days that I don’t – I have more privilege on the days I don’t seem to challenge the status quo and I’m more marginalized and feel less safe on the days that I appear more challenging to the general culture. Because I’m outspoken, I often get push-back from others ranging from the subtle to the more aggressive, but that requires I open my mouth and I have the choice of not doing so if a situation feels threatening enough. The work for us sounds the same as for more marginalized groups – but the flavor and choices available are very different.
 
3. All of us, whether marginalized or not, can find ourselves pushed to our edges by many factors ranging anywhere from personal trauma to professional concerns. We also want to learn to navigate our inner terrains, our outer environment, take care of ourselves. Often, the work centers around wanting to lean into our edges and step our of our comfort zone on purpose so that we can expand what’s possible for our personal lives.
 

I think it’s important for all of us to consider that what it means to be at our edge or out of our comfort zone can have different meanings depending on who we are, where we are, our personal and cultural experiences, and how we appear to the mainstream culture. It depends on our gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and more.

Let’s truly see one another, educate ourselves about how our differences change our experience in the world, and find respectful ways of supporting one another – especially those most marginalized by our culture.

 
 

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Conversations on Race and Privilege

07/19/2016By KimberleyFeral Wisdom

race and priviligeI’ve set aside time to have intentional, respectful conversations around race, white privilege and related topics.

I am open to talking with anyone regardless of race, class, gender identification, sexual orientation and any other ways of being human. This is free and with no sales pitching.

This is a good fit for you if ….

You’re struggling with the idea of white privilege, feeling confused, afraid and/or feel your defenses rearing up, but you’re also open to beginning to understand and explore what your defenses and fear are about – I will listen without judgement AND I will be a compassionate catalyst for you to dig deeper into your assumptions and see a way to take care of yourself while also opening up to the responsibility we face as white people.

You’re struggling because you find that you’re encountering push-back, from the subtle to the aggressive, for standing up for racial justice – I will listen and together we can come up with ways to navigate what can feel like a booby-trapped terrain. I realize that experiencing this as a white person and experiencing this as a person of color are two different things.

If you are a person of color and would like to talk about your experience with me I will listen, learn and perhaps together we can find our way.

Please Note: This is not an invitation to argue and I won’t participate in an argument. I will end calls that become argumentative or disrespectful. I clearly stand on the side of racial justice and for the need for white folks to understand their privilege and responsibility.

Go here to schedule your call: calendly.com/berleymc
Calls can be anywhere from 30 min – 60 min. depending on our needs. I’d like to video chat (I’ll send you a link) , but am also open to a phone call. Details are included in the confirmation email.

Looking forward to talking with you!

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Love is Radical

07/11/2016By KimberleyArt Journaling, August Break 2013, Community, Cultural, Feral Wisdom, Photography, Political, Social Justice

 

Radical Love
Whether spiritual or secular, we all need quiet moments to reflect, find at least the beginning of personal healing, and to find moments of peace, but to hide behind ideals like love in the name of spiritual or secular “goodness” is to strip those kinds of ideals down to pale and sickly sweet sentiments – that isn’t kind or good, it isn’t lofty. It’s just a way to hide from uncomfortable realities, raw feelings. It’s fear, it’s a way not to have to risk anything in the name of what is just.

 

If you have white privilege (or class privilege, or gender privilege, heterosexual privilege . . . ) you can hide from the harsh realities in the lives of people who aren’t like you. I am hearing white privilege blaring out it’s awful noise. One of those sounds comes in the form of things like “lets remember to hold back our anger and just stand in love and light.” Love is much grander than that.

Kelly Diels wrote about the anger and fierceness in Martin Luther King and Gandhi. They held love and fierceness at the same time. They understood that anger can fuel just action.

I believe anger can be the catalyst to wake up. I believe anger can be necessary and purposeful. I believe anger and love are not mutually exclusive. Our personal spiritual or secular practices serve to embolden us, to support us as we see the injustice in our lives and in the lives of others and take action.

 

We can all choose to take part in bringing justice to this world. Whoever you are, wherever you are, and, except in the most extreme circumstance, whatever your life looks like you have options personally and publicly. I’m chronically ill and not likely be among those in the streets, but I can participate in the social action committee of our local Unitarian Universalist Church. I can join with others in visiting local Police Precincts and question them about their training of officers and ask what they are doing about the racism in their ranks. When I can’t get out of bed, I can still use my voice as a writer and an artist.

Love doesn’t tell the oppressed how they should grieve, it doesn’t correct their peaceful activism for being “too angry” or “over the top.” Love doesn’t demand that you bury your own anger. Love gets that what is over the top is the injustice, the oppression, the killing, the violence.

Love wants us to know it is a fierce and radical force. A force that won’t be relegated to sentimentality and pious self-righteousness. Love demands more than any other force I’ve ever felt moving through me.

 

In one of the comments on Kelly’s post I saw this Cornell West quote:

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

Tell me, what action can you take for justice, in the name of love?

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Sign-up & Get Your Free PDF: Manifesto for the Feral Woman

05/22/2016By KimberleyFeral Wisdom

free pdf

When you sign-up for the Bits of Feral Wisdom letter you’ll get the free PDF: Manifesto for the Feral Woman

– it’s yours to use and share as you like, just give a nod my way.

I’ll write to you about how to care for ourselves as women in a world that doesn’t always value us and our ways of being, about uncovering and cultivating our truest selves, and coming out from behind the masks that keep us small and tame.

We need to tend to our bodies, our minds, our emotions and our spirit beyond the “naps and good chocolate” brand of self-care that is often sold to us.

Nothing wrong with naps or good chocolate, but that doesn’t get to the heart of what we need to do for ourselves.

I’m excited about the blog renovations and a relaunch for Feral Compass Life-Coaching. It’s a little empty, and at times lots messy, but when I’m done it’ll shine with magic!

I’ll keep you updated on more free PDF s, give-aways and launch party details.