March 17, 2019

{Putting Love on the Ballot}

My guest editorial, "Putting Love on the Ballot," published on Confluence Daily...and reprinted below!


I recently attended a gathering in Greenville, South Carolina, where author, spiritual teacher, and now candidate for president of the United States, Marianne Williamson was speaking. I wanted to thank her in person for doing something extremely radical: Putting love on the ballot—squarely, unapologetically, powerfully, eloquently. “I am running for president,” she declared, “in order to harness the political potential of our love, our decency, and our compassion. That is who we are, and that is what America should be.” Love is a topic in which Marianne is well-versed.

Her first book, A Return to Love published in 1992, and the first of seven New York Times’ bestsellers (all reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles), proclaimed simply: “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here.” Marianne writes almost as much about fear as love—given fear is a result of hate, both opposites of love. “Fear unchecked grows exponentially. Love poured forth has the power to remove it.”

Does the presence of love really have that much life-changing power? Marianne adds: “...where love is absent, fear sets in.” Just in case we need a real-life reminder: Fear is what elected Donald Trump and powered the destructive growth of dog whistle politics, giving a louder voice to hate-filled rhetoric spewed from the Senate floor to church pulpits. (No halls so ‘hallowed’ as to escape the maliciousness of it all.)  “It’s not the first time,” clarified Ken Burns, the creator of those movingly beautiful American history documentaries. “Human beings are susceptible to politicians that play to our baser instincts, our worst fears of ‘the other’ instead of, as Lincoln said, ‘the better angels of our nature’.”

We are living in a world where it appears that fear is winning. “Without love, our actions are hysterical. Without love, we have no wisdom.” (Marianne doesn’t mince her words!) It’s time to get revolutionary about love. It’s time for a miracle.

“We had a miracle in this country in 1776,” Marianne announced when exploring a run for the presidency last fall, “and we need another one!” (Keep in mind she holds a ‘miracle’ as ultimately a “shift in perception.”) She then gave a little history lesson, since some may have forgotten what that miracle was nearly 250 years ago. Before this county was founded, all of Europe, under “the divine right of kings,” was “run according to a manorial and aristocratic system.” In other words, a king and/or queen and their pals (the aristocracy) were entitled to the land, the wealth, the education—everything! And the rest of the population, the vast majority, “was little more than serfs to that small group.” However, Marianne continued, with the founding of this country, “we turned that entire mindset on its ear.” And when declaring our independence, we declared that “all men are created equal, and that god gave all men the inalienable rights to life and to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness—and governments were instituted to secure those rights.” Consequently, our new nation stumbled right out of the gate, and then stumbled often, not always living up to those principles. And now we’re stumbling again with a government, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, functioning only “of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people”—which means, as Marianne explains, “we have subconsciously reverted to an aristocratic paradigm.”

But we are a nation of courageous “problem solvers who have risen up in their time. So yes, we had slavery, but we also had abolition. We had the oppression of women, and we also had two major waves of feminism and the women’s suffragette movement. We had institutionalized white supremacy and segregation, and we also had the Civil Rights Movement.” With that reminder, Marianne is delivering a call to action for this country’s spiritual awakening, “Join the Evolution!”—it is now our turn to be the problem solvers! And that’s where love comes back into it.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson—professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds—considers the next frontier for his field is the study of how the practice of love affects the brain and body, believing there is a quality of love that breaks apart boundaries. Can we take this as an affirmation that, in Marianne’s words, “love is a potent force”? Film director Spike Lee, during his passionate Oscar acceptance speech at the recent Academy Awards ceremony, urging us to vote, urging us to “do the right thing,” put it frankly: “Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

In calling for a course-correction in this country and putting our democracy back on track; for a resetting of our moral compass and putting the lives and well-being of our children first, Marianne Williamson calls for a return to what made the founding of this country so unique; she calls for nothing less than a return to “an ethical center that is the true exceptionalism of the American ideal.” She encourages us to be on the side of “our better angels” and to “stick with love,” as another peacemaker shared. “We have before us,” Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked—with hate staring him in the face—“the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”

It’s time for, like in Lincoln’s day, “a new birth of freedom.” It’s time for some old-fashioned love one another like a day-in, day-out practice. Remembering that love is a show of strength, not weakness, it’s time for a love revolution! “Love taken seriously is a radical outlook, a major departure from the psychological orientation that rules the world,” Marianne wrote in A Return to Love over two decades ago. “It is threatening not because it is a small idea, but because it is so huge.”

When I shook Marianne’s hand that afternoon in Greenville—a packed room of mostly women, women of all stripes—thanking her for putting love on the ballot, she replied, “Yes! It’s time to get radical with our love.” Radical, like love as an “essential existential fact.” Radical, like love is “our purpose on earth.” Radical, like your life depended on it! ~

With the success of her books and appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s shows through the years, Marianne Williamson has been a sought-after speaker on the personal transformation circuit. I’ve followed her work, listened to her various recordings, quoted her in my articles and books, and admired her beautiful and effectively intimate way with words. With Marianne, you re-remember that words have power, that love powers all. “Love requires a different kind of ‘seeing’ than we’re used to—a different kind of knowing or thinking. Love is the intuitive knowledge of our hearts. It’s a ‘world beyond’ that we all secretly long for....”

February 9, 2019

{Against Feminine Nature} Book Excerpt

Excerpts from the "Against Feminine Nature" chapter of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled, A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess. Enjoy....

Sarah Jennings Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
“‘Remember, you’re a Spencer!’” biographers claimed Diana would say to herself to strengthen her resolve during stressful times. Spencers had been established in England for 500 years, amassing great wealth and political power through the centuries (and therefore much more “British” than her husband’s Windsor family). Sarah Jennings, born in 1660, wife of the 1st Duke of Marlborough and grandmother of the first Diana Spencer, was “one of the most remarkable and difficult women of her day,” wrote biographer Sarah Bradford. “The Spencer tendency for falling out with members of the family—it is said Sarah changed her will fifty times—may well have been passed down from her.” Sarah Jennings’ pride, Bradford remarked, “led her to snub even her sovereign and former friend, Queen Anne.”
Over 250 years later, when another Diana Spencer was on the scene, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, told a friend that the Spencer women are “‘extremely unusual and difficult!’” According to Bradford, the Queen Mother’s friend, who happened to be a Spencer relation, agreed and also noted “‘an unforgiving side’” that seemed to run in the family; she was of the opinion that Princess Diana’s “‘inability to sustain friendships and relationships’” was also a family characteristic. She saw similar traits in her own Spencer mother with those of Diana, especially what she called Diana’s “‘manipulation of reality’” which took on a repetitious pattern of creating conflict, then calling for a dramatic reunion, only to stir things up once again. Whether it was an “inherited” family trait or not, this emotional roller coaster must have been exhausting for all involved.
From many accounts, the psychologically needy and acutely insecure Diana was full of unresolved anger from childhood; and as an adult, her volatile temper occasionally surfaced. Sometimes there was even a warning before the crash: “‘Stand by for a mood swing, boys,’” she’d say to her private secretary, explained biographer Tina Brown. Various conditions have been cited as possible reasons for Diana’s extremes: the frustrations of not being heard, much less not being allowed a voice; chemical imbalances brought on by her bulimia; misunderstood postpartum depression; living under the stress of so much suppressed emotion for so many years; perhaps some sort of personality disorder; even complications of her complex astrological chart. Or, as I read somewhere, “anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.” Whatever the causes, Diana could create a disconcerting battlefield-like, walking-on-eggshells environment for everyone around—including her “desperately unhappy” husband and his reserved family with their strict code-of-behavior.
Historically, many women had difficulty in expressing anger and if they did get angry, men found it difficult to deal with the volatility. Such emotional outbursts would not only have been discouraged, it could get the disruptive woman diagnosed with “hysteria” and locked up! No wonder a woman might express her anger silently by abusing her body and health, as Diana did. “How can she manifest her anger or her grief?” asked British writer Beatrix Campbell. “If the discovery of her own disappointment could not be revealed, because it could not be tolerated, then it made sense to keep screaming….” Or worse. 

Diana’s time in the spotlight, the 1980s and ‘90s, was a period of major change for women. What many considered the second wave of feminism was ending and the “grrls” of a post-modern generation were stirring a third wave—just as the long-anticipated “great shift in consciousness” was stirring the world. Looking back, Diana was a representative of eons of women’s rising collective anger. When the young princess began speaking up about feeling abandoned by mother, husband and monarchy, women were the first to lean in and really listen. What's more, when Diana spoke out, a whole kingdom of women revealed their discontent. “It was Diana’s treatment as a woman, and her sense that she was sustained by the sympathy and strength of women, that made her dangerous” to the patriarchal establishment, Campbell added. ~

[Sarah Jennings Churchill is the character in the 2018 awarding winning film "The Favourite" played by Rachel Weiss.] 
More book excerpts soon.....

January 17, 2019

{SMART WORKS Charity & the Duchess of Sussex}

The Duchess of Sussex announced in early 
January four patronages as she combines love of 
women's empowerment, animals and fashion.
The one that especially captured my
fashion-world-background heart was
SMART WORKS is a charity that offers 
interview clothing and coaching to unemployed 
women with upcoming job interviews. 
In five years the SMART WORKS team
saw 11,000 women and 60% of those women got jobs.
The duchess, Meghan Markle, was "on the job" 
on January 10th at the west London headquarters 
when she was announced patron of the charity.
However, Meghan visited the organization 
several times over the last 12 months assisting
several women transform their lives.
Royal patronages bring invaluable publicity 
and fundraising opportunities to charities 
and community organizations in Great Britain.

January 9, 2019

{O, For a Little Whimsy and Wisdom...}

...and now you have it!
My dear friend (and wise woman extraordinaire!) Terri Crosby has just published her first book, 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nurture the Heart...and it does just that. A gift to the world, to you, to your friends...share the love! xoxo

December 10, 2018

{Diana As Messenger} Book-in-Progress Excerpt {2}

In my last book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, I looked at the glittering cultural influences of Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding in 1981. With the reassuring order of its grand rituals and symbolic pomp, the wedding captured the attention of a society in chaos reeling from the rebellious cultural upheavals of the 1960s and ‘70s. Then with its fairy-tale longings and a beautiful bride with a light about her—a young woman who became a real princess of a legendary kingdom—the wedding also captured the wonder of some deeply feminine ethos around the world. It was certainly the catalyst of a life-changing occurrence in my life. On the shimmering wave between the two Windsor weddings that decade, I designed a shop for the emerging “modern woman”—a woman more educated, independent and sexually experienced than her mother’s generation—who was now considering marriage enfolded in the wedding pageantry of another time and place. And together, along with an atelier full of talented women designers, we navigated the changing sensibilities of being feminine, womanly, confident and autonomous.

After Diana’s wedding, however, her soap-opera life held little interest for me except for her moments of open-hearted instincts, reaching out to the ‘forbidden’ sick, touching the untouchables, when her light was unmistakable. Then at summer’s end in 1997 with news of her death, that global surge of disbelief and grief reached the serenity of my Atlanta courtyard on a still Sunday morning. Deeper than simply emotional, it was more like being forcefully struck, breaking some vital connection. On some cosmic level, it was the break needed energetically for such an expansive awakening. (Is this the phenomenon that happens to us at the death of a person whose aura and larger-than-life images are all we know?) “Whom the gods love, die young,” Lord Bryan wrote.

Consequently, in the days to follow that jolting headline was when I became truly intrigued by Diana. “For many people…Princess Diana has become far more interesting since her death than ever she was during her life,” shared English writer and Jungian analyst Warren Colman. That’s when I began to look beyond appearances to the person “who could inspire such an enormous response in so many people”—the real person distinct from the image. Even though I felt it was that “real person” I’d caught sight of years before as a floating-on-light, goddess-reminiscent bride. ~

[Excerpt from the Introduction, "Diana As Messenger," of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled, A Memory of Beauty: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess...more excerpts to come.]