Last weekend I had the fabulous experience of participating in my friend and colleague Cara Brown’s first ever online offering of one of her signature programs Get Intimate with Color workshop. I love pioneering, so I was excited to be part of Cara’s first online program. Truthfully, I’m not really interested in painting per se, but I was intrigued by the idea of playing with colour – something I’ve never done before. I was also looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with several people that I love, and meeting others who also know and love Cara.
What I was totally unprepared for was the visceral experience of engaging with the simple task of creating what Cara calls a Color Wheel.
Starting with just 6 paint colours – 2 each of yellow, red and blue – we added water, mixing the pairs of yellow, red and blue in 6 combinations and varied concentrations.
It felt magical to see the rainbow of 18 colours that emerged!
The colour wheel I created last weekend – 6 colours being combined to create the outer rainbow
– a visceral magical experience at many levels, with even more variations possible!
In fact I was so enthralled with this that I’ve yet to continue with Part 2 of this exercise where these same 6 original colours are combined to create 60 distinctly different shades of the rainbow – something I’ll get back to soon!
But as I reflected on what I’d felt as I’d been playing with mixing the colours and water in the various combinations, and seeing what had emerged on paper, I realized that this exercise had far more meaning to me than colour, paint, and paper.
It was a visual representation of a number of my Codes; those unique-to-each-of-us qualities and ways of being that we came here to express. Experiences that make our hearts sing with aliveness when they are present in our life, and ache when they are absent or violated. If you’re curious you can see more about The Code™ on my Programs page.
In creating my colour wheel, I’d touched on Codes of mine related not only to beauty, the sensual experience of colour and texture, and engaging life with a playful, light touch, but also on the crucial importance for me of acceptance of difference, and appreciation and honouring of the expression and gifts of all.
In this simple exercise with colour, I’d expressed my passions for
beauty and honouring difference in a way that was both visceral and clear.
And from this heart opened space, I went directly into a conversation where I heard something that both surprised and shook me. Though the Premier of Ontario has since stated that he won’t move forward with this resolution, earlier last Saturday at their annual conference, the Progressive Conservative party he leads had passed a resolution that at next year’s convention there’d be a debate regarding the recognition of gender identity.
The resolution declared that gender identity was “A highly controversial, unscientific ‘liberal ideology’; and, as such, that an Ontario PC Government will remove the teaching and promotion of ‘gender identity theory’ from Ontario schools and its curriculum.”
Just typing these words now I can still feel the reverberations of the emotions I felt in that moment – the same kind of sadness, horror, anger, and fear that I’ve felt many times before. In fact I’d written in a Musing just a couple months ago about another time when these wooshed over me – though interestingly, this time I didn’t feel the same helplessness I felt then.
Still, that this was even a topic being considered felt to me like such a retrogressive step – how in this day and age in Ontario, could we be even wondering about the right to express and experience gender in the way that feels true for the individual?
I stand clearly for openness and acceptance of a continuum of gender expression (which though I couldn’t find the original researcher of this data, is supported by most medical and scientific organizations – you can see a FB post regarding this here) and so I strongly disagree with those who hold gender as binary.
Does society’s movement in the direction of greater openness and honouring of the range of gender variance precipitate challenges in those for whom adding this kind of complexity and change in the way we relate to each other feels uncomfortable? Yes, of course.
And in turn, this raises questions for me as to how I respond:
- How do I stand clearly in what I can feel in my bones is true – for the expression of diversity and vast creativity of what for me is the way of nature and life itself – while also honouring the feelings of others who hold a different perspective?
- How do I stand in integrity with me without personally vilifying others – indeed, instead being curious about them and, where possible, seeking to build bridges?
- What will it take for me (in truth for all of us, but right now my attention is focused on honouring my own process) to stand clearly and strongly in my perspective of acceptance and support for trans people everywhere, while also honouring the inner reality of others who currently hold a different perspective from me?
- How do I/we best create change that’s more life-giving for those who have until recently been (and in many situations are still) ostracized, while being caring toward those for whom the current pace of change feels uncomfortable and triggering?
What often happens currently on both ‘sides’ of this, and many other situations in our world, is so understandable. For eons as humans, we’ve gone through life scanning the environment for challenges – for things we’re afraid might happen, or through painful past experiences have come to expect. It’s a way of protecting ourselves – the sooner we notice, the faster we can respond in whatever defensive or attacking way seems most appropriate.
To be able to stand here requires a certain capacity for Practical Presence, and one of the steps in being able to stay present in the face of these kinds of challenges is a commitment to standing in integrity – in our personal sovereignty/power. Power within.
In a different context, this is the kind of inner strength of character and commitment that Stacey Abrams (who recently came close to winning her bid to be the first black female governor in the USA) exhibits. If you’re unfamiliar with her or haven’t seen these, here are an article, and a video that clearly demonstrate her ability to stand for what’s important to her – even in the face of challenges.
As many of the comments on the Stacey Abrams video show, in the absence of this capacity to source and stand in power within, we instead attempt to exert power over others by putting them down. This continues to keep us separate – at a distance from each other.
In not really able to be present, we’re less likely to see alternative possibilities. And not really open to trying to build bridges of connection in situations where we feel uncomfortable, or between ourselves and others who (because they’re different from us) we perceive as threats.
I’ve spent many years consciously developing the capacity for this kind of joining. It’s a Code thing for me, and so when it’s absent, it’s painful. I not only envision a different kind of world, I have a huge inner drive to be part of co-creating it.
So in yet another context, I was incredibly inspired recently when I was introduced to the work of Deeyah Kahn.
Emmy-winning filmmaker Deeyah Kahn crosses divides
to meet with “enemy”
As a young Muslim woman, a Norwegian-Brit of Pakistani descent, her curiosity, and courageous desire to connect and understand have touched me deeply. Although my life experience has been very different from hers, her commitment after having spent her “entire life being stereotyped” to not “turn around and do that to somebody else”, and her refusal “to lose my own humanity just because somebody wants to deny me mine” are deeply resonant.
I’m clear we each have our unique experiences and expressions of how we’ll live this, but the path to accessing this can be easier – we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel! The pain in our world of the absence of these capacities, combined with the vision I have for what is possible, are pushing me to clarify and articulate this in the way that’s true for me.
And I realize I need to pause and take some time to unpack (bring to consciousness and give language to) the practices I and others have been engaging that support us in expanding our capacity for Practical Presence in the painful, scary, real life situations we all face these days.
Early last month when I first felt the need to create some space in my life to do this, I realized that wasn’t the time. My experiences over these last weeks have made it clear that the time is now.
One of the ways I’ve decided to support myself in this deeper dive is that after publishing this Musing, and hosting Tuesday’s At Home with Maralyn & Friends call, I’m going to press pause for a while on both of these activities.
Right now I don’t know for how long that’ll be. Connecting is such an important thing for me, and so even while I know this is important, there are other parts of me that I’ve had to take time to reassure!
Know that this isn’t an attempt to distance or isolate myself. Instead, it’s a perhaps counterintuitive yet conscious choice to step back in order to discern more clearly how best to move forward. I’m committed to offering this work of Practical Presence in ways that truly can make a difference in our world. And, as it seems appropriate, I reserve the right to pop in here with an update!
My request is that you hold me in love and possibility as I take this step. AND …
… if it’s at all possible, I’d love to feel your presence and hear your voice this Tuesday November 27, from 8-9 pm ET on our usual 4th Tuesday of the month no cost, At Home with Maralyn & Friends call – the EVENING version.
Remember, you only need to register once for these calls, if you’ve not yet done so and would like to, click here. Though I’ll be pressing pause on these as well, being registered will make sure you’ll be notified when they resume!
Dear Maralyn: I so resonate with this seeming counterintuitive call to step back in order to move forward in greater clarity, integration, and impact in a way that is uniquely yours to make.
As we all find ourselves in a rapidly evolving collective context, our personal journeys must also shift in focus and urgency to meet the needs so apparent. All my blessings and love to you on this poignant pause. I’m certain I’ll see you in the void on occasion!
Thanks, Aine, it was your posts that led me to the Stacey Abrams and Deeyah Kahn links that both inspired, and clarified and focused my attention on what is truly calling for my attention. Turns out (at least as I see it right now!) my calling is not so much to focus on any particular systemic changes required in the co-creation of the world of our best envisioning, but on nurturing in myself, and supporting and expanding the foundations on which the building of bridges between those who (like Stacey Abrams) called to stand in those spaces, and those (like Deeyah Kahn’s ‘enemies’) who feel they must stand against the changes I feel in my bones are what Life is calling us to. The ‘direction’ seems clearer. The ‘what this means practically’, at the moment not so much.
Deeply appreciating your support, and that of other kindred-spirited folk as I dive into this space and see what emerges. No doubt, as you say, we’ll see each other as the diving and dancing continues!