Snow Flower

*This is the post I wrote that led me to stop blogging.  In the moment, I just wasn’t happy with it, got frustrated and wrote and published the goodbye post instead.  Reading it now, I’m not sure what the problem was, so I’m going to share it.

Today I started reading this wonderfully gripping book called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  I began reading the second chapter with my hand over my mouth and tears forming in my eyes.  Further into the chapter something happened that has never happened to me while reading before.  I started getting light headed and had to put the book down for fear that I would pass out in the middle of the pediatric dentist’s waiting room.  To give you a clue as to why, chapter two in the book is titled “Foot Binding.”

The book is set in China and is written in first person.  You see the world through the eyes of a young girl who is the 3rd child,  2nd daughter in her somewhat poor family.    So far the book is just this vast reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights and equality.  And of course I am really only aware of my culture and society, so I realize this change of beliefs is not necessarily true in other places.  I know in China it is still most desirable to have a son and the orphanages are filled with girls.  One would believe it impossible for a mother to give up a child just because it was not born a boy but if even a little bit of the attitude in this book prevailed daughters do not receive what we think of as mother’s love.  There is one event in this book that, as a mother, surely would have sent me to the loony bin but was barely a blip on this fictional mother’s radar (or at least thus far, I’m only on page 59).

It just saddens me the way ignorant, prejudice, and twisted ideas can take flight.  How entire societies and cultures can be built upon traditions of torture and slavery.  The only freedom these women experienced was prior to the age of 6.  At 6-years-old the foot binding begins.  And the reason for the foot binding was so that they could get a husband.  And for the families with daughters, the livelihood depended on them being married off.  So at the age of 6 little girl’s feet were broken and twisted up by their own mothers.  They spent weeks or months in agony learning to walk on broken stumps (more or less).  I know I could easily research it, but I just wonder how this came to be?  Who decided that was attractive?  Who set that as a standard for making a woman marriage material?  What kind of person makes that decision and why in the Hell does anyone listen to them?

I know there are things in our society that are comparable.  Women go under the knife for all sorts of reasons.  But at least we have a choice in the matter.  At least those of us that aren’t willing to make any drastic changes to our bodies will still be able to find husbands (or wives-if we continue on the evolution to equality).

I am only a little ways into this book, but since it was recommended to me and it has truly sucked me in, I would definitely recommend it to you.  I also invite you to go back and read Karen’s Click which is about her grandmother’s tiny feet.

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Thoughts on Equality

This is my post in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day.  I have just returned from seeing Avatar and I am processing yet another very deep movie with lots of layers.  One quote that stands out to me from the movie is:

“The strong prey on the weak and nobody does a thing.”

Unfortunately this is the truth about so much that has happened throughout human history.  It is the people with money or political standing that get to decide for the rest of us.  It was someone with money and power that sent explorers to the new world and encouraged them to steal an entire countryside from the Native Americans.  It was someone with money and power that sent ships to Africa to bring back human beings for slave labor.  Generations later it was someone with money and power that decided the descendants of those human beings, that were stolen from their home country and forced to America, were not human enough to have the same quality of life as white people.

And I think a lot of people get convinced it’s all OK.  They decide that because the “powers that be” are doing it, then it must be just and right.  Sometimes those “powers” convince them that it is for the greater good.  They turn regular people with feelings and beliefs into enemies.  Once you are convinced that people are a threat, you can ignore the tug at your conscience that tries to remind you they are just like you.

Sometimes though someone is strong enough to stand up for what they believe in and risk it all for change.  It starts with just one person brave enough to do this.  Eventually people start to take notice.  They hear the truth in the message.  We are all equal.  Flesh and blood.  Thoughts and emotions.  Souls.  In these ways we are all connected.  Anything I do to another, I do to myself.  Every prophet, mystic, Master has told us this.

Relationships

My friend Kelly was so very thoughtful to go on Amazon and order me two books while she is in Australia.  One of the books is one that we had talked about months ago.  At that time I was reading a book called “Soulmates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationships” by Thomas Moore and was telling Kelly about it.  She suggested that I borrow a book that she had on the topic that had been very helpful to her.  Well, it turns out the copy she owned was misplaced, so last Friday a copy of “Secrets of Attraction: The Universal Laws of Love, Sex, and Romance” by Sandra Anne Taylor arrived in my mailbox.  I was so excited and put everything else aside to read it.  I devoured the book, starting it on Friday night and finishing it on Sunday.  And I have to say that it opened my eyes to some things and helped me see how I can make positive change in my relationships (primarily my marriage) and life.

One thing the author describes is the role we play in romantic relationships, or rather what place we are coming from when we enter them.  She says that people come from either inferiority, superiority, or equality.  Obviously it is important to come from equality, but as I read her descriptions I had to face the fact that I have always come from inferiority.  I was (and probably still am) one of those people that  are willing to give and give and give in order to receive love and security.  In college I loved to dance and sing karaoke, but when I dated guys who didn’t enjoy those things, I stopped doing them.  When Mark and I got together and he wasn’t that interested in my poetry, I stopped writing (thus the 10 year break from writing).  There was even a time in our marriage where I was the breadwinner, the cook, the housekeeper, the dog caregiver, and the car maintainer.  I did all of this by choice, so that I would be a good wife and Mark could achieve his goals, thus appreciating my value in his life.

What I have realized and the book talks about is that giving and giving, without ever taking time to care for yourself and nourish your own passions is draining and ultimately strains the relationship.  As I have found my way back to old passions (writing) and found new ones, Mark and I have had to reassess our relationship.  I’ve realized that my growth is just as important as his and that hopefully we will continue to grow together.

One question that Taylor says you should ask yourself about your relationships is whether or not they honor you.  And if the answer isn’t yes,  it may affect more than just your love life….