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.]

November 19, 2018

{Diana As Messenger} Book-in-Progress Excerpt {1}

There are times when someone’s influence and contributions are less in how they lived their life and more in what that life revealed about ourselves. Was Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor’s life, in Shakespeare’s princely words, about “cracking open a noble heart”—and with her death, our own?

Diana—charismatic, photogenic and clever—came onto the scene in the explosion of celebrity-focused mainstream media (celebrity gossip was not just for the tabloids anymore) and began breaking rules immediately. Perhaps it was her easy beauty and princess glow that first drew us in, yet there was something deeper, even mythological, that had us linger.

Looking back at Princess Diana’s complex life and impact of her early death, to really see her true mission, I looked to “the poet’s way.” This is how documentarian Phil Cousineau explained the remarkable Joseph Campbell’s way of reading and understanding the inner depths of the ancient myths: “symbolically, metaphorically, soulfully.” And this set my course.

Following this thread, I was reminded of an On Being radio interview with author, pastor and biblical interpreter Eugene Peterson. He considered it important to know that the old prophets of the Bible were poets, so you would read scripture with your imagination, listening in the storytelling rhythm of how they communicated in their day, and in turn, learning the nature and meaning of metaphor. In other words, so you wouldn’t “try to literalize everything.” The beloved teacher considered the metaphor “a remarkable kind of formation because it both means what it says and what it doesn’t say. Those two things come together, and it creates an imagination which is active. You’re not trying to figure things out; you’re trying to enter into what’s there.”
If we use this poetic framework and view Diana’s life and death as a metaphor, a mythical allegory that played out on a world stage—with it meaning what we saw and what we didn’t see, what we heard and didn’t hear—then her unique contribution to the world is not about figuring out her life story, but entering into the now unlocked heart-space her death opened in us. And it is only then that we can see the world with the imagination of the heart. ~

[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.]