My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Quest for Dororthy

We all know the queasy feeling when our mind is at odds with our heart, it’s unsettling to have our ‘parts’ not agree. Sometimes we just can’t all get on the same track. The constant chatter and disagreement between the two can be like living with angry parents on the verge of divorce and we just can’t tune out the noise.
It happens in any area of our lives, work, family, love, friendship. Our minds and our hearts aren’t the only players in this drama. There is also Ego, an unruly and sometimes destructive collaborator, and yet also a function of self preservation. Ego is a gatekeeper of sorts in it’s best manifestation, at it’s worst it is an unforgiving and suspicious master.
In the film The Wizard of Oz the elements of character are personified by the Tin man (the heart), the Scarecrow (the mind), and the Lion (the ego). Dorothy is the individual self struggling to discover her identity, her place in the world. The journey down the Yellow Brick Road is the hero's quest, the Existential Crisis we all face at times in our life when our world has been shaken underneath us (the twister).
There are external influences on our quest as well. Professor Marvel, the wizard who tries to help but being unsure of his own identity, is incapable of offering real solutions. Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch is the critic,the gossip, those who are jealous of our spiritual and intellectual pursuit and therefore attempt to thwart our development. Glinda the Good Witch is the Wise Woman, the guide who knows we need to find our own way, but is there to support us while we fumble along our quest. And Toto, goofy little Toto, is the dear friend who stands by no matter what choices we make sticking with us to the bitter end.
None of this is new thought. The Wizard of Oz as modern mythology has been analyzed from every angle and theoretical perspective. For me it remains a personal mythology which serendipitously calls to me in times of need.
Now as I embark on another journey from student, career woman, mother followed by a year of illness I am on another quest for The Emerald City. Having either completed or cast aside my former roles I am off to see the wizard to find my hearts desire. I am set to carve out my niche as a middle aged woman with no attachments. No job, grown kids, my illness behind me. My strongest attachment at this point is, ironically, my dog who bears remarkable resemblance to Dorothy’s Toto.
So off we are to follow the Yellow Brick Road....and I will be sure to gaze into the crystal ball and send postcards of sorts.

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heartbreak Hotel

It's happened to all of us at one time or another.
Some of us more than others. For some of us it becomes a regular way of life.

The world of art and music would be significantly less prolific if not for heartbreak...or maybe the gap would be replaced with more productive, innovate and inspiring works. Maybe the world would be a kinder, happier place. Maybe the advertising agencies would lose 90% of their business, you know the kind that encourages people to be beautiful, buy sexy cars and take pills to be happy.
Maybe if we'd never had our hearts broken, we'd know how to love and we'd never have to break anyone else's heart.

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Perfect Body

What image comes to mind upon hearing that phrase..."the perfect body"? Remember in the 70's Bo Derek was a "10", in the 80's, well I'm not sure what the heck was going on there but a lot of people were into aerobics, jazzercise and fitness gurus. In the last couple of decades things have improved...slightly, slowly. Among my daughters' generation it is desirable to have “booty", a nice big juicy butt. This is good because many women carry their weight in their hips, thighs and butt unlike the androgynous teenage boy look that was sold to us in the 60's and 70's. But to have a look or body type become "vogue" is precisely the problem. It's hard enough keeping up with wardrobe style changes (I don't even bother) but body type changes? Hah. If thin is in, thick is out, if thick is slick thin is out; meanwhile as the trends change we all living in the body genetics gave us.
There has been much to say, written, discussed and filmed to address the impact of the media (especially advertising) on women’s self image. It's not breaking news that many of us, especially younger women compare ourselves to unrealistic ideal that we see in the media. When I was a teenager and into my early 20's it didn't even occur to me that the bouncy curls and wild waves that adorned women’s' crowns were actually permed, styled, sprayed, teased and otherwise cajoled into looking that way. I honestly thought that was how they looked naturally. My own hair was fine, straight and would not hold a curl no matter how hard I tried. I actually cried one night because my boyfriend was flirting with a "Big Hair" girl. And the worst part was it never occurred to me at the moment that any man shallow enough to choose one woman over another based hair volume was probably not someone I'd want to be with anyway.
Now getting "older" and having sustained a certain amount of wear and tear, I am extremely grateful that I have eradicated the deadly sin of envy from my frame of reference. We are pressured to look a certain way when we are young, and as we age we are pressured to maintain that ideal which isn't even realistic for a young woman much less a 50 year old who has had babies, fallen off motorcycles, washed hundreds of thousands of dishes and all the other experiences that can affect how we age.
Plastic surgery which began as a quirky trend utilized by celebrities has now become disturbingly commonplace. It’s not only the extremes of actual surgical alteration that is becoming normalized, If a woman resists dying her hair as it grays she is either "so brave" (a phrase often delivered condescendingly) or is simply seen as eccentric. Once again the "old hippie" stereotype is invoked to dismissively invalidate a woman’s conscious, self affirming choice.
On the flip side I would be a hypocrite if I condemned women who do choose to dye their hair, go to the gym to maintain that perfect tone, or even get some "work done". After all we’re talking about our bodies, our choice; Choice being the key issue. If a woman chooses this route because she can afford it and she does it for herself with self awareness and confidence, I say go to it. After all I have altered my body with tattoos, piercings and the occasional purple or blue hair coloring; but I have also come to appreciate and love the scars, the stretch marks and all the imperfections that each tells a chapter in my story. Does this mean I'm always happy when I look in the mirror? Hell no, I haven't transcended vanity, I'm only human. But I no longer allow those disappointments (I'm talking to you cellulite) to drive me to making obsessively poor choices including berating myself for not living up to some unrealistic Ideal.
This is a topic I'd like to follow up on, there's so much more to be said. In the meantime I'd love to hear my readers’ thoughts and experiences with body image: either in comments here or on my Facebook group (see link in sidebar) I'm also including a link to The Now Foundation’s "Love Your Body" campaign. They have some wonderful projects, especially those designed for college age women. I strongly encourage you to check out the link!

Peace...and Love your Body, it is your temple.
© 2011 Nanakoosas Place, by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More on Employment Deficit for Rebels and Rogues

I find myself again compelled to revisit last months topic dated August 17, "Attention/Employment Deficit". It is a much larger issue for many of us, on both personal and societal levels.  It involves an emerging cultural trend, one that is dictated by the economic political partnership as are most cultural trends are these days. The present movement unabashedly favors conformity. Like the cycles of the stars and the seasons,  humankind weaves it's way into, through and out of various seasons and stages. The conformity cycles are always uncomfortable for me; this one feels absolutely frightening.
I suppose my age may intensify my sensitivity. I know more, I analyze with greater discernment and skepticism. More significantly, I am less adaptable. My strategical options for coping with the popular trend, whether they be to cooperate or to rebel, seem be diminishing at a rate equal to the rise of restriction and control. There are within society itself, fewer options available. There was a time when it was much easier to make a living by "doing your own thing". And if you did work for someone else there was more job security, generally better benefits and in many industries, room for creative development. Ideas from staff were  welcomed and sometimes actually taken into consideration. This was especially true in the non-profit sector where many agencies were still operating by the grassroots community organizing principles upon which they were originally founded. Now, due to stricter regulations and expectations demanded by funding sources most of these agencies management style and atmosphere have become more corporate, less personal. 
As the workplace has changed there are also increasing internal limitations. If you are over 50 and you tell someone you're looking for work 8 out of 10 people will shake their heads in some sort of ironic sympathy. If you are lucky enough to get hired you'd better keep your mouth shut, follow the rules to the 't' and for heaven's sake do not by any means get sick.
 The problem is the older you get the less likely you are to hold your tongue and take someone's nonsense (especially if they are younger than you) and if you do hold your opinions inside you are more likely to experience stress related illness. That's 2 out of 3 "do not do in the workplace if you are over 50"
Frankly, I am too tired and achy to work a 40 hour week, I could do it but I'd do little else. That's how life is for most of my middle aged working friends. I'm pretty certain I don't want to live that way.
I have lots of Utopian ideas about opportunities for people my age. Industries could hire us as Mentors for example. Using our experience to break in the next generation. Unfortunately it seems, based on anecdotal evidence, that many industries do not want fresh young minds corrupted by the crazy anarcho-syndicalist tree hugging whimseys of a generation out of time.
 "So there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space" to quote Don McLean, and although the next line states that "there's no time left to start again", I have to believe that there is. We have to carve out our niche in society, because no one else is going to do it for us. We either adapt to the changes and conform, or we adapt around the changes and clear our own path.
Guess which road I'm taking?

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
"American Pie" Lyrics by Don McLean © Universal Music Publishing Group

Things To Remember When You’re In A Relationship « Thought Catalog

While I'm slooowly developing my next blog post, I wanted to share this. I found it very simply stated yet wise and relevant, enjoy!

*disclaimer, I've looked at some of this dudes other posts and found many of them to be shallow and somewhat sexist, we'll take this as a welcome anomaly! 
Things To Remember When You’re In A Relationship « Thought Catalog © 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Check the Road Map

Overcoming a slump. Maybe it's the summer heat, maybe it's the recent life changes I've experienced (yes, one of them is "the change" menopause) maybe it's the let down after the excitement of discovering I've successfully conquered liver disease after a year of grueling treatment. Whatever it is I'm stuck.
Like a lady wearing lead shoes, every step feel laborious. My brain seems to be on vacation somewhere. As Aerosmith once said "my get up and go musta got up and went"
But I think I know what the "problem" is: freedom. Yes, that's right, freedom. I've written before about the methods some of us can use to employ our anchors, our responsibilities as excuses for not pursuing our dreams. A job, a family, health problems or a lease- whatever it is that we believe binds us does indeed bind us. Those beliefs become safe and cozy. We are not asked to challenge ourselves because we have other things to do. It's a pretty rare phenomenon to be freed of the majority of one's responsibilities within a very short time. As so often happens in my eccentric life, I find myself knee deep in anomaly.
You would think (or I would've thought) I would be eager to fill the blank page before me with words, colors, opinions and adventures, but instead I am truly at a loss for what to do next.
At present I am in another city helping my partner relocate for an employment opportunity. Things being what they are with our economy that seems to be happening more often these days. I suppose I'm lucky, the new job is only 500 miles away from home and reasonably manageable by bus. I can't help but feel that it only adds more confusion and uncertainty to my already obfuscated view of the near future.
I was reminded along the 6 hour drive here, that every journey requires and occasional rest stop. Eat, pee, stretch your limbs and take another look at the map. The rest stops have always been a integral part of a road trip, ever since I was a small child travelling across country with my parents in our over packed pale blue VW Beetle.
Now is the time to revisit the road map, check out the routes and their alternates, be advised of detours and prepare well before taking to the highway into life's next chapter.

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard