Joyful Union of Work and Play

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

We can find play––and joy––in work. And the chores we give our children can develop a capacity to approach work with the fullness of being.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Okay. All right. Here we are. Take 17.

Thea:                                         00:06                       Hi, Anne!

Anne:                                         00:09                       Hi, Thea. Okay. So if I can just get my words together. So we’re going to talk today, a kind of continuation on last week’s where we were talking about the importance of children’s chores––and how necessary it is for children to participate in the family’s survival, operation and more and how that very much aids in their development, their sense of purpose self-esteem and wards off feelings of depression and angst. So, so we decided, you know, it was not a really long conversation and we thought we would continue on with maybe identifying some concrete examples of the types of chores and tasks that we can assign to our children, but specifically…

Thea:                                         01:09                       Sorry, I need to just speak to my child…

Anne:                                         01:10                       Okay. Let me, let me pause it for one second.

Thea:                                         01:14                       Okay. Sorry. All right. Please don’t eat that, which is dinner right there…

Anne:                                         01:21                       Okay. So we’re recording again. So part of what we hit on was the fact that it seems, and from our perspective perhaps as women, but it seems that the world that we live in, the modern world here in the States––I live in the suburbs, you live in a small city––does not provide as many natural opportunities and tasks for masculine activities. In the same way it does female activities. And by that we’re talking about, you know, the difference in––certainly between people and different temperaments, but also between girls and boys. Girls, you know, the type of household chores we have all the time. There’s never, never in short supply––doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, vacuuming, tidying, making things pretty. Even some of the yard work seems to resonate perhaps, maybe more with my daughter than it does my son. And when I was stretching to figure out, well, what is it that, that my son really resonates with? It’s chopping wood. It’s, it’s getting the firewood to build, building a fire. Though my daughter is pretty pro at that too. It’s, it’s digging. I remember, you know, how he really got into helping my husband taking apart the deck to then repurpose the wood. And fixing things. And it then led me to thinking about, well this house that we built in our backyard, I wrote about this in an article I just wrote about for his third grade year, Waldorf curriculum is building your own shelter. And we built a six by six by six by six foot A-frame wooden house in our backyard.

Anne:                                         03:37                       Something I never imagined I had the capacity to do, and we did it mainly without power tools except when we really needed my husband’s help here and there. Right? And that was extraordinary. And so one of the things I wanted to, to share was this book, a couple of these books that the Christopherus Curriculum––Donna Simmons writes, does this extraordinary curriculum, Waldorf curriculum that’s designed for homeschoolers, multi-age homeschoolers. And she had recommended Lester Walker’s Housebuilding for Children, written in like 1977 or something. And Lester Walker’s Carpentry for Children, you know, it was around the same era. And we followed these his plans in here. And I mean, this is, you know, that’s the house we basically, we built and it just, it goes through showing, you know, building the walls putting the roof in.

Anne:                                         04:47                       And there’s so much, obviously that’s incorporated into that, you know, just from a homeschooler’s perspective––algebra, geometry and more. Right? But anyways, so we had wanted to come up with a prescription for the boys more specifically because it didn’t seem as apparent in this, in this urbanized world that we’re living in. And I thought back to another project that my son had done with my husband, which was a bookshelf. I needed a bookshelf, and I needed one fast. And I’m particular about what will fit in the house. Not that my taste is so high end, but it’s just, you know, I just needed a, a particular kind of height and a compactness for the space. And they took these two old dressers, wooden dressers, and repurposed them and reconfigured them and then built some shelves into it and built a bookshelf. And how wonderful that is. I mean, I walk by it every day, several times a day. My son sees this useful manifestation of his creative force..

Thea:                                         06:07                       Will forces.

Anne:                                         06:10                       Yeah. And that I needed, that he provided. And so that was the suggestion I wanted to give anyone listening and who’s been thinking about this themselves. You know, no matter how small an apartment one has, how no or little yard or back deck, patio or whatever someone has, you can build a bookshelf. You can build a small bookshelf in that. You can build a small table, you can build a spice rack, you can build a cabinet and that is so terribly satisfying, and there’s so much learning going on in so many levels when that’s happening. But I think that that, that kind of task is something that is important to give to your son. Or daughter. I mean, I am so pleased that I, know the basics of building a house now from building this house. I feel so competent. I do as a almost 49 year old having learned this just a couple of years ago. And this is following on our father who was not so inclined that way. And you know, I mean his version of a shed, I mean, we loved him so dearly and he was so great at so many things, but not this.

Thea:                                         07:41                       But he did make the effort, which…

Anne:                                         07:44                       Well, he made the effort, which may not have been the greatest example because his version of the shed, I don’t know if you remember, but was like basically buying a few pieces of plywood and leaning it kind of up against the back wall of the garage, nailing it together and slapping some paint on it. It was a shelter, but I think that kind of thing was left with me and I probably didn’t feel all that competent in my abilities to do something as well as we did these couple years ago with just some good plans. Right? So I highly recommend Lester Walker’s books. Again,  Carpentry for Children, Housebuilding for Children, they’re used books. I can’t find books like this anymore. This, this was written back in the 70s when kids had more time. And time to fill up with purposeful activities like this.

Thea:                                         08:54                       With their own problem solving and skill building, yeah. So with those ideas, I think we can also just weave into that cause I think there’s a lot of room for those sort of projects if we are willing to take the time to fill out the little spaces in our life where it might be a different habit than what would be convenient to get this thing that you need for something, but to them slow down and allow an opportunity for your child or children to make that which you need out of maybe something you already have around or you know, repurposed things or getting the materials. So it’s just a slower pace to give those opportunities to our children, I think. Is another window to look through regarding that topic.

Anne:                                         09:49                       Yeah. I absolutely agree, which makes me of course, think about even the slower pace of growing our own food. Right? Whether you’re doing it in a window box garden or a small garden bed or a community garden or your own backyard, that has been infinitely rewarding for me in understanding many layers I think of just even this existence and making connections. I mean, it strikes me that now that we don’t have a lot of people growing their own food and I know there’s a movement back towards that, but we lose touch with just the process and just the process of life and the miracle of life. Just the fact of taking the seed and planting it in the ground and watering it and with the sun and the nutrients in the soil.

Thea:                                         10:59                       And caring for it, nurturing it too, or allowing it to have its time to do its own. I mean all the analogies for life are in…Isn’t that Thoreau? The seed? What is the quote? I can’t think of…whatever. Life, eternity in a… I’m mixing things up.

Anne:                                         11:26                       But yes, that is. I mean, the miracle of life. I mean, it’s occurred to me, it’s not just that, but health and wellness. You know, a farmer understands that the soil is critical to the health of the plant and that without amending the soil and nourishing the soil over and over again, there’s nothing for that plant. No matter what you do to it, it’s not going to thrive. And so, you know, so gardening alone, yes, brings so many understandings essential understandings back to us, right? A spice garden even, right? Just a tiny little one. Yeah. Or like you said, or the process of building the small table, a small bookshelf. To know what goes into that Is, you know, all, all that is of value in that is hard to even put in a language. And you know, when we’re so used to a world where you can get online and order it with a button now and it’s delivered to your door in two days.

Thea:                                         12:43                       Well there’s something too, just that picture of taking, you know, what’s in your hand and scanning over it. Like you run by it and you don’t really notice it. And then when we slow down a little bit and we stand in that space of––what’s in your hand and you just start to see all that it is, where did the wood that you’re using grow, what was the, you know, what was the journey of that which you’re holding to become that which you’re holding? And that’s, you know, that’s not so much the pace of the world around us. So it’s the real choice to come into that, to slow down, to have appreciation for that, the becoming of each thing that has become, or is becoming.

Anne:                                         13:35                       Absolutely. if we don’t stay in touch with that, we lose touch with everything. I mean, as you’re, as you’re talking, I kind of feel like maybe all this seems like a given intellectually, but I can attest to having been transformed by putting it into practice. You know, I grew up very heady and abstract, you know, and unlike you, I didn’t, I never knitted or cared at all to do macrame or handwork or crochet, or anything like that.

Thea:                                         14:13                       I remember. I know. I’ve watched you go through all of these things.

New Speaker:                      14:19                       And I was forced to by my own choice to homeschool my children using a Waldorf curriculum, which appealed to me for a variety of reasons that resonated very deeply in me, but you know, all of that I kind of dreaded really. And as I have come to each one of those subjects or new learnings, it’s been remarkable how, I mean, I say this, I can’t say it enough. It’s like exponentially transformed me. It has––my spirit, my being, my senses, my awarenesses, my connections have woken up like exponentially, right? Just in knitting, learning to knit. And understanding what goes into then everything that I have that’s knit/knitted. Understanding, as basic as this sounds, but I mean, making yarn, you know, learning to make yarn, the wool that comes from the sheep and beyond, beyond, beyond. Right? But we’re such a society and culture here of immediate ready-made consumption that, you know, the true prescription, I think for reconnection fulfillment, reward that is all here in front of us to appreciate is to get back down to those basics. And not just for a weekend camping, but to start to incorporate that into our lives and recognize how critical that is in order to keep us whole.

Thea:                                         16:21                       And tethered to that force of creation, really. To not be adrift and lost in the darkness.

Anne:                                         16:31                       Yes, yes. Especially for those times of challenge and struggle. Yeah, that aids me, that has aided me in how I have gotten through challenging times in my life, having gone back to those basics and exercised so much more of me, myself. It’s all very hard to quantify and talk about. It’s not tangible. Right?

Thea:                                         17:00                       I don’t know. I mean, I wonder about the tangibility, but I think it’s also, there’s something in there that is the reminder that we are creators ourselves and so that is remembered and recalled and exercised––it is then recognized through all of the weavings of what’s around us.

Anne:                                         17:25                       When it’s exercised on a daily basis. Right? And so, so that brings us back to this with the children’s chores and children’s work and children’s tasks. Our own chores and tasks, our own, as you brought up in the last one, cooking our own food and not going and buying it made or made and ready to heat up. There is so much that we have lost in embracing that sort of convenience.

Thea:                                         18:00                       Yeah. I mean it goes into every facet, really, of what’s necessary for us to live. You know, we think about the way we’ve––I mean this could be a quite the discussion just going from being such community people, you know, where you washed the clothes at the creek or where you, you know, harvest the food or the water, all of these things that our culture is so removed from. And I think what part of that has done––and we were touching upon this for a moment before we started this conversation––those things that are, and there is, there can be drudgery in those monotonous necessities. We know this. And there can also be a lot of joy and camaraderie and space to daydream, space to create ideas. And I think that in that there’s somewhere that the joy of work and that work is play in a certain way that those are two sides of the same coin I think essentially. But we have pretty successfully in our culture seemed to separate them in so many views when I look. That work is something separate than play, and work is to be something that we minimize and want less of so that we can have our relaxation or recreation. But really, if we have the time to come into our work in such a way with our fullness of being, there’s joy there. And within that comes that element of play, which is what allows us to be human, really, and to relate to others. I mean, you know, I work, I work five days a week outside of my home and so I, every week I sort of think, gosh, there would be a better rhythm if I didn’t have to go out to work five days a week, but did four, so that when I’m doing my home work, my housework, I have the space and time to fill that capacity with more joy. To do these tasks with more joy because there’s a little more time to fill them out.

Anne:                                         20:40                       There’s more room, right?

Thea:                                         20:41                       More room, because you know everything is about balance. I love my work that I go to, but I need to balance that with the work that’s essential for just maintenance of life. And it’s always trying to find how to live into the, the work of life with joy, you know? And so that’s what we want to be able to give our children experiences of. That work can be joyful, playful, all of those things. We want them to exercise it and create avenues for those experiences to be there for them to step into those capacities as they come into different challenges and workspaces of life.

Anne:                                         21:24                       Yes. And to have that experience that even in a a task that might seem even drudgery there is in that there is discovery to be had. So to have the experience of discovery, which becomes joyful and leads to the next. And so it keeps us always sparked. It can help keep us sparked, inspired and interested in just everyday living, if we’re allowed to see it through that way. Right? And merge, as you’re saying––and I’d like to discuss, maybe examine this more in the next one, but––work and play as you said, it’s kind of two sides to the same coin. Rather than being so separate, where one is resisted and the other so indulged in.

Thea:                                         22:19                       And then the other thing I had the thought to share, you know, especially for our children and these ideas, if people are working to exercise to find new spaces to give their children these experiences or spaces for these experiences or activities. They’re not always going to be like, “Sweet, thanks!” You know, that’s our job just to hold the line and continue to invite someone to pick up this new way of being. This new way to find meaning and purpose in what is needed in a house.

Anne:                                         23:08                       Yeah. And what I will say, and I, I don’t know how much time, I think we’re pretty far over. I didn’t watch when we started. But a key I think to it is doing it a little bit alongside at first. That really gets a momentum going and then you can kind of leave them to go at it once they’re engaged and involved, so.

Thea:                                         23:30                       So there’s more to discuss here. I mean, it’s a pretty broad and deep idea, I think, that continues to deepen the further we follow it and its ramifications. What we see in the world and what we’re looking to see developed more of. So thank you, Anne.

Anne:                                         23:55                       Thank you. All right, well ’til next time. Hang on a second.

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Purpose and Children’s Chores

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

When children are responsible for essential family chores and necessary home and yard maintenance, they maintain a critical focus on their contribution and significance to the whole––and a general sense of purpose which is a necessary antidote to feelings of angst and depression.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hello, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:04                       Hello, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:06                       So today, let’s talk about being purposeful. It follows a little bit on our last conversation about even what makes us feel attractive or what makes us attracted to someone else. And purposefulness was a large part of that. And it also relates to a lot of other things we’ve been observing through our work and experience in life, parenting. We’ve been observing an alarming rate of depression and anxiety, lack of focus in children, in extraordinarily young children who you wouldn’t be expecting that of quite yet––in those typical like angsty teenage years. When children much younger than that are demonstrating symptoms and signs of depression, we need to explore that and address that in a way that we haven’t been doing obviously very successfully in this culture. Right? And you identified the lack, it seems, at least in the communities that we are surrounded by. Granted it’s coastal California. There’s a privilege of wealth in the areas that we live in. So I think that clouds or colors the landscape. But we’re noticing that children are not given, they’re not used to a lot of the similar day to day chores, meaningful, purposeful, necessary tasks that we grew up with. Right?

Thea:                                         02:10                       Right. And actually, and this might be a quick segue, but it’s something else that just popped into my head a little bit. Because as you were talking about that I was picturing our childhood, and while we had work, household work, I feel like, so a lot of our work actually was taken into sport quite young and a lot of our time was put there. And so that’s another coloring of this conversation, I think of the, the hijacking of meaningful work. Now that’s not me saying sport is bad, but there’s a lack of balance. And that ties into earlier conversations we’ve had where we talked about the difference of sport and play a little bit. And then when that play is hijacked right into sport, some other development doesn’t occur. And then the sport takes on a deeper meaning then truly it should have. And sense of self worth––as you were speaking about those stages of depression that come earlier and earlier and then when there’s a little bit more of that nuance of the angsty years where young people are learning how to deal with all of these senses of being, these powers and forces of becoming a young adult, when those don’t have a channel to be directed toward, they become self destructive and socially destructive forces, you know, in their circles of friends. And so that ties into, when there’s not the sense of meaningful capable purpose and work and the capacity to meet those things, we get depressed. People get depressed, and they can become ugly and lash out at others when they’re feeling small themselves. Right?

Anne:                                         04:11                       Yeah. You’re sparking some thoughts in me, ’cause we hadn’t even talked about this in tying in the sports, but it hadn’t even occurred to me. Yes. You know, I’m always saying, “Oh, back in our day, back in our day when I had to wash the dishes every day and clean up or shovel the snow or mow the lawn” or all of those things that I don’t see a lot of kids doing these days––we also though, what I should say for anyone viewing is that, we were a big tennis family, so we all played tennis. It was a bit fanatical. We attribute our parents’ divorce to tennis. And it became our job. And I, and I’m now kind of remembering, I’m thinking back to the fact that, so our father, a second generation immigrant––athletics and sports was very important to them. I think because of the discipline that it practiced, and obviously, there’s a joy and a pleasure in aspiring and honing that excellence that was manifest––like our uncle who was drafted by the Bulls. Right? But they had a balance back then. They certainly didn’t live in this age of technology and hyper developed world and structure, which scheduled kids almost every minute of their day. So that, that sport and that discipline and that activity, that was a respite from some of the chores and hardships, necessary hardships of everyday life. Right? And so then they––our baby boomer parents––brought that to our generation. “Sports! It’s toward scholarships. It develops, you know, rounds you out, keeps you fit. Good values, psychological discipline and all.” Which I admit it gave me, I think it helped me with. And opened up opportunities for me. But that was even too emphasized probably back then, you know, amidst also all of the dance classes and music lessons and voice lessons and, tutoring and school and….And, and, and, and.

Anne:                                         07:10                       And I remember now that I think about it feeling––I mean it kind of cultivates a bit of a narcissism too. It’s just, sure, Oh, you know, yes, lifting our children up is something we want to do but not in such an extreme way which puts all the focus of the family on them and how well they do in their match. Pulling me out of school for tennis lessons. Or I remember I am sure you remember well, yeah, I can say this now, I remember getting into a car accident and I won’t give all the details, but it was a really not a great situation for many reasons, but it was right in the middle of an important tournament, which I was doing well in and I didn’t really have any concern that there would be a problem about it because that was paramount. I was doing well in the tennis tournament and all that other stuff got it washed away. So I really just digressed there, but it does make me realize that it’s not just our generation, it’s, it’s what’s built on the other generation from what they took from their generation. And it’s gotten distorted.

Thea:                                         08:40                       Completely. And it seems that, I mean, and maybe it’s just in the circles I’m living in, that there is, a slow, steady waking up to the lack of balance in that scenario. That this idea, “That’s how my kid’s going to go to college,” is, you know, maybe that works for some people that they start this sport, they pursue it, they get a scholarship. Maybe those children actually continue playing or participating in whatever that sport is. More often than not, those children are burnt out by age 14. Right when it would be a good time for them to be picking up that sport, because they started so young. And then they quit, and that’s the moment they need that channel and that focus to hone. But people are realizing it’s not so successful. I mean college, that’s a whole other conversation about the distortion of all of that and…

Anne:                                         09:44                       Of the importance, the importance of college now, or the relevance of college in this rapidly changing world, given how much it costs, it’s no longer the answer, right? To the predictable paths of adulthood and profession.

Thea:                                         10:03                       Right. I mean because young people come into the world with $50,000 of debt. Or more.

Anne:                                         10:08                       50? 200! Yeah, exactly. So yes, I agree. And you in your Waldorf circle are more in touch with a lot of folks that are aware of that. And, so shifting course, reversing course, embracing a new course that hopefully rounds that impulse in our world out. And me having come to Waldorf as well, as a homeschooler, differently I recognize that too, recognize that more given my own experience. I mean, I was adamant about not letting my kid join sports teams or get involved in any outside, those types of extracurricular classes, whatever––structured, formalized organized sports, dance, all of that––too early because we did it so young that I burnt out by the time I really could have used it much more significantly at the time in my life, you know? So, yeah. You know, I mean it’s not just Waldorf education, it’s, it’s all of the alternative pedagogies. It’s also the increasing understanding and study into the importance of play in education. And how far we’ve gone away from that and how we’re trying to move back there slowly, slowly, slowly.

Thea:                                         11:55                       Well, how much is really happening when we play as children and, and how much is stolen from the development of the human being when those opportunities are lost, or robbed essentially of that time.

Anne:                                         12:11                       Yeah, short shortchanged, I guess.

Thea:                                         12:12                       So then, I don’t know if this is too much, but then ’cause what had inspired this conversation was really––so play is purposeful work at certain stages of the development of the child and the human being, really. And then and then we’re talking about what other purposeful work is there. And we do recognize we’re in one little bubble of a view into the world in coastal California. But you know, where we grew up, we did, we have to shovel the walk or shovel the driveway or whatever. You know, picking up sticks, I remember, just before mowing the lawn or whatever, all these things, which mowing the lawn, I didn’t go there, but raking leaves also. But––So what do these young people have today? And I was sharing that and it’s not quite formed yet still, so maybe something will get clearer––I feel like as a female, and maybe it’s simply because I am one––that there are still more tasks, household tasks that bring me a sense of real satisfaction. Because I, I enjoy the homemaking. I don’t see my sons enjoy homemaking quite as much as I do or even did as a young person.

Anne:                                         13:35                       Yeah, I have a girl and a boy. And the difference is so marked in terms of how they come to it or resist it. You know, so yes, go ahead.

Thea:                                         13:51                       So, so just thinking––and I know the way my life is, I don’t have opportunities for my kids. I’m not living on a farm, so I don’t have this like more physical work accessible to them. So it’s a real task as a parent in a place where I live to find this. And that’s what sport kind of gives an echo of, right? Of meaningful work in our culture. But outside of that, what work do they get to do that we can’t live without? What do they get to participate in that helps the family, that is essential, maybe, hopefully, kind of boring so that they have the time and space to develop a rich interior world.

Anne:                                         14:36                       Or not boring, but monotonous, perhaps. And you just made me realize city living is emasculating.

Thea:                                         14:54                       Totally! So that’s what we’re talking about today. Get to the country.

Anne:                                         15:00                       But there’s quite a push toward the city living and we could go down a lot of rabbit holes there. So what do we do? What’s, what is the prescription? Okay. I mean, let’s first identify the fact that we had also talked about this a little bit too, you know, as a homeschooler and someone actively involved in my homeschool group I recognize that boys earlier on are the ones who come to us and then the girls a bit later, because school is not really suited or designed for a boy.

Thea:                                         15:44                       The energy that is moving and coursing through the boy. And sometimes the girls. I was kind of one of those girls in a way too. Like needed to move a lot.

Anne:                                         15:54                       Yeah. You, you are. Right. Movement teacher and spacial dynamics person that you are––yoga and dance and…so yes, so school with its abstract, very sitting still, obedient––however way you cut it there’s an element of people pleasing obedience because of that framework of school, no matter how great the school is. It’s not that suited for boys. And increasingly with the, what? 20 minutes of recess and all of that, it’s so much less. So we need to recognize that. And in small steps individually, now, what we need to recognize is that for a boy to become a man, he needs to be able to do traditionally male things. And I don’t care who I offend saying that! I mean, there is a relevance to the traditional roles, or the traditional paths.

Thea:                                         17:05                       I mean, I think you could easily say the more masculine activities without it being offensive, because I know for me––and I get to watch at school, so at recess, which we have more than 20 minutes, all in all, we have like an hour, a day of recess. But that’s not the only movement our kids get. But I see, so let’s take third grade, fourth grade, second grade, the boys, they’re building, they’re finding wood and they’re building shelters. That’s their recess. Most often. The girls are now residing in the shelter, and they’re organizing it and they’re bringing little plants and making it lovely and sweet. And then the boys want to come in the house and the girls are like, “No, you mess it up.” And they’re like, “You can be the dog sleeping by the fire.” This is something that really happened and it’s, and it’s so perfect. “You Have too much energy. Unless you’re a resting, boy, you’re not in my house right now.”

Anne:                                         18:17                       Right! And she’s calling the shots. I mean, it’s certainly no diminishment of the female role in her realm, in our realm, right?

Thea:                                         18:25                       And there is a really natural acknowledgement. I mean, and there are some girls that are doing the building, not to say there aren’t, and I’m trying to think of any boys in the house. I can’t think of any right now, you know, currently. But, and I remember being that as, as a kid, even when we played in our, on our street, which wasn’t quite a neighborhood, but it was just a little more country and one of our sisters was much more into, “I’ll build this.” And I was definitely more in, “And I’ll make it pretty!” You know? “I’ll do that part.” So different needs in there to be satisfied.

Anne:                                         19:10                       Yeah. While I managed it. But anyway…

Thea:                                         19:14                       Precisely!

Anne:                                         19:18                       Or not. So, okay, so we’re at 20 minutes. We’ve identified some stuff. Let’s, let’s, let’s come up with a bit of a prescription for a couple of minutes.

Thea:                                         19:30                       I don’t know if this is a prescription, so my apologies again if it’s not that. But I think one of the other threads I just don’t want to forget was really the question of how is time spent? That portion of what makes things purposeful in our life. That is so out of balance. You know, our lives are out of balance and so what––it is! It’s prescription! Look at that. Boom! So it comes in as to these little moments that we get to choose. Do we make this work to survive meaningful? And do we get to put some of our creative forces towards that meaningful work? And that’s simply…food preparation. Do we buy prepackaged things or do we cook? Do we take the time to cook real food? Do we, you know self care products? Do we buy our oils for our face or our creams, or do we make them? And do our children get to be a part of those things––that we then take the time to make those things.

Anne:                                         20:35                       Okay. Absolutely. But what I’ll say is that doesn’t address the boys as much as I think we’d like to. So how about this? I was telling you that we––my husband mainly––chopped a huge tree down in our backyard. Right? And interestingly different people that we were talking about doing this before–– he was trying to get some advice or just discussing––couldn’t quite conceive that he wouldn’t hire that work out. Right? And he ended up doing it and he, it was a challenge. Because it’s a very big tree and it wasn’t too far from our house. And you know, it was like climbing, cutting a few branches here and there so he could still have a ladder to climb on, with the chainsaw, but didn’t want to use the chainsaw really that high up in case it slips. So using, you know, a manual saw. And then it ended with the family with the rope all pulling it down after he had gotten it short enough, it wasn’t going to ruin our house. “Timber!” Right? And then the kids helping chop, stack wood. Right? My daughter my son definitely, he thrived in that. Right? My daughter helped as well. But you know, we have different interests, you know, that that was I think more satisfying perhaps to, to my son. So what about just making conscious choices as, as ludicrously privileged as this sounds? So I, it’s grossing me out to even say this, but you know, things that we would normally hire someone else to do for us that we’ve never done before that do fall under that realm of like building and physical labor…

Thea:                                         22:33                       And fixing and taking apart and putting back together.

Anne:                                         22:36                       Fixing the toilet fixing the faucet. Painting the front door. The fence. Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn. What about making small conscious choices, even though it’s not as efficient, perhaps, maybe you can justify the money because of the time it’s going to save, you don’t have to manage your kid, all of that. Let’s start giving our kids more of those meaningful tasks to do. And see what happens and what comes from that. Yes?

Thea:                                         23:15                       That’s an idea. I mean, because we want to be able to help our children and help ourselves become more capable to meet what comes, whatever that is. So we need the opportunities to, to fail, you know, to, to practice the things that we’re doing. And build the muscles.

Anne:                                         23:35                       We also need to recognize, I mean, I, I’ve heard this argument before that, “Well, you know, the world is turning, you know, basically everyone’s becoming coders,” right? I mean, “the world’s all computerized, technology robotics. Why fight it you know, if you’re going to succeed, I mean, put your energies there.” Well, I don’t think that that is a healthy approach to helping children develop. I don’t think that we should reject that awareness of where the world is and exposure to that at the appropriate times and cultivating those skills. But if we just move in that direction only and put all of our efforts in that abstract video game, whatever, learning we are certainly very weakened. Another aspect of us is weakened. And if that whole framework isn’t there suddenly or wherever you go in the world or whatever, you know, your competence is greatly compromised. So let’s work toward, no matter where we think the world is going, still exercising all aspects of our human beingness––physical and mental, emotional and spiritual. So you know that, that’s the general prescription. Let’s determine to make this, continue this, the next one. Part two of it.

Thea:                                         25:14                       Yeah. There’s more avenues to go down. We’re just getting it started. So thanks for touching in. It’s just something that’s been on my mind, definitely lately. And looking around. So thanks.

Anne:                                         25:26                       Yep. You too.

Thea:                                         25:28                       Have a good one.

Anne:                                         25:29                       You too. Hold on and let me figure out how to press these buttons. Let’s see. Stop.

Featured post

Why Wouldn’t We Homeschool?

by Anne Mason

My homeschooled kids and their friend on a Tuesday afternoon.

I help run our county’s homeschool group, and I field new member requests. Parents come to us for myriad reasons. They’ve always been curious about homeschooling, but don’t feel confident enough in their teaching abilities to educate their children. Their son or daughter is being bullied at school. Their child is bored, doesn’t seem to fit, isn’t succeeding in the conventional school system. They notice a marked difference between their child’s confidence and happiness during the summer and the school year––some children plead with their parents to let them stay home from day to day. Children who have heard of homeschooling beg their parents to let them try it.

I often speak with these parents on the phone or invite them to attend new member park days where they have a chance to speak with seasoned homeschooling parents. We explain all the avenues and how much easier it is to do than they’ve imagined. As Rahima Baldwin Dancy puts it in the title of her book–– You Are Your Child’s First Teacher. And therefore, you are certainly equipped to teach your child.

The US didn’t even make it into the top 20 countries in math, reading and science PISA rankings, and I live in California, which ranks 37th in primary education scores among the states. So, one of the first things I point out to parents intimidated by the seemingly daunting responsibility of teaching their children: You really can’t do much worse than the education system is already doing, so take the pressure off yourself to begin with. Second, you’ll almost certainly do a far better job of helping your children hold onto their curiosity, develop their critical thinking skills, get more sleep, feel less stressed and actually enjoy learning. Third, in this Age of Information, every type of curriculum imaginable is available to assist our efforts. You do not have to hold a degree in mathematics in order to teach your children about long division, algebra, geometry and the like. Just as teachers in the conventional school system are provided with teaching guides and answer keys, so will you be. In addition, “out-of-school” learning programs and enrichment classes are increasingly available to homeschoolers who want to supplement their own teaching. And finally, human beings are natural learners, provided we don’t mess that extraordinary capacity up!

As teacher, author and speaker John Taylor Gatto articulated in his New York Teacher of the Year Award acceptance speech, ”How will they learn to read?’ you say, and my answer is ‘Remember the lessons of Massachusetts.’ When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks––they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them.”

I highly recommend any of John Taylor Gatto’s books or videos in which he explains the contradictions between learning and our educational system, and where he lays out the history of compulsory schooling here in the US––which is based on the Prussian model of education in which the goal was obedience and compliance––and what he identified as the “6 Secret Lessons Taught in School“:

  • Confusion and Fragmentation
  • Class Position
  • Indifference
  • Emotional and Intellectual Dependency
  • Provisional Self-Esteem
  • Surveillance and Denial of Privacy

Even in well intended, alternative, progressive schools, our primary educational system cannot provide children as rich a learning environment as they can find outside it. Homeschooled children are regularly involved in the world among folks of different ages and generations, encountering the infinite puzzles, problems and opportunities they find in day-to-day living––with the freedom to pursue and build upon their individual interests and passions. The classroom is a contrivance––an artificial, abstract environment which does not resemble the actual world we live in, and which demands children learn designated material at a designated time in a designated time frame in a designated manner.

A theme throughout Gatto’s books and lectures is that children learn easily when they are engaged and interested––and that they/we can learn in weeks what schools take months or years to teach. Timing also plays a huge role in how well children learn. I use a Waldorf curriculum to homeschool my children, and Waldorf education recognizes that sooner is not always better. This excellent article “First Grade Readiness” by Waldorf teacher and curriculum author Donna Simmons demonstrates this point. Her Christopherus Homeschool curriculum has been a joy to use, and her website has been a wealth of resource for us.

I was raised by liberal academics. My mother had a Masters in Education, and my father’s PhD was in the Philosophy of Education. They were both very heady individuals, and my feminist mother deliberately did not teach my sisters and me how to sew, knit, cook––or any of those traditional female skills, as I suppose she and my father felt they were liberating us from what they perceived could be a prison. If we didn’t even know how to do it, there’s no way we’d be “relegated” to housewives. And they sent each of us to a Montessori school until age 11, a pedagogy with a heavy emphasis on math, science and language, and very little on art, handwork or music.

Art, music, handwork, nature, baking, dance, story telling and more are incorporated very holistically into Waldorf education, so you can imagine what a learning curve it was for me to adopt such a curriculum to homeschool my children. And what a joy it has been! What a journey of personal development it has been! And how fun it has been to learn alongside my children in so many ways! When I am learning something, I am curious about it, excited about it, and that translates to the excitement I have in introducing these concepts to my children as well.

This week, we’ve been reading the epic tale The Mahabharata for my son’s 5th grade Ancient India block, and last year, I re-familiarized myself with pre-algebra to keep up with his math progress. Whether it’s history, mathematical concepts, music, literature or anything else, I am confident that I can learn as well as my kids can, and that while I add another skill set or subject to my repertoire, I can help my kids learn it, too. It enriches our lives, and it makes the whole experience of education and learning fun when the whole family is involved. It also keeps us all very connected to each other and with what’s going on in each other’s lives.

Check out the mini A-Frame house my kids and I (with my husband’s help) built in our backyard for my son’s 3rd grade Waldorf Curriculum.

Some folks are intimidated by the time and energy commitment of homeschooling. As my good friend and prominent homeschool advocate Julie Schiffman points out, “When people say to me that they could never homeschool because it’s ‘too much work,’ I respond with, ‘Do you realize how much work it takes to have a kid in school?'” Between shuttling one’s kids to and from school, packing lunches, managing homework, extra-curricular involvement and increasing requirements for parent volunteerism at the schools, homeschooling feels like less of a time commitment than what most schools require from the family.

And then there’s the oft repeated concern and question, “What about socialization?” Once you start homeschooling, you begin to realize what a non-concern that is. Homeschooled kids are out in the world all the time––interacting with people of all ages, professions and ethnicities. My kids have friends from age 8 to 80, and they regularly run into them at the market, the library and other places in town, often introducing me to folks they know through the open mic or chess club they attend regularly with my husband. My 8 year old daughter has tea dates with some teenage girls she’s friends with. When the kids get together with similarly aged homeschool friends (which is usually several times a week), they spend hours playing and talking, getting deeply immersed and involved in whatever it is they’re doing. My homeschool parent friends and I regularly discuss having to consciously make a point of saying “no” to some of the social events and get togethers in order to have enough time at home for homeschooling and day-to-day tasks. They are definitely not wanting for socialization.

And finally, what about the data on homeschooling outcomes? Homeschooling as an increasingly popular education option has been in place in the US and Canada for long enough to substantially measure the outcomes and get a fairly comprehensive picture of how homeschooled children have fared into adulthood. Homeschooled children score above average on achievement tests, SATs and ACTs and are increasingly being recruited by colleges.

Adults who were homeschooled measure above average in surveys analyzing social, emotional and psychological development, civic engagement and political tolerance. Homeschooled adults are more likely than their conventionally schooled peers to have completed an undergraduate degree, to have multiple income sources, to report income from self-employment, and to have higher average incomes than their peers. They participate more in local community service than the general population, and they report high satisfaction with life.

I’m the oldest of four girls, and after my youngest sister was born, my parents decided to save some money for the year my mother took off from work to stay home with her, pull us out of the private Montessori school we were attending, and homeschool us for a year. There had also been some staffing issues at the school––the teacher in the 9-12 age class that I was in had been replaced by a non-Montessori trained teacher at the time, and my education seemed to be suffering as a result. I had been having difficulties grasping concepts like long division and other subjects that were being introduced to me that year.

So, my parents bought a TRS-80 computer, some other materials and workbooks, and they set up our family room to be the “school room.” My mom was understandably pretty consumed with the new baby, and we spent a lot of that year just playing. I remember kind of secretly feeling guilty that we were “getting away with it,” because we spent so little time on “school work” and so much time playing out in the backyard, the creek, creating Fisher Price villages out on the back porch, designing basic programs on our new computer. My mom made sure we did some school work every day, but it seemed trivial in comparison to what felt like a year-long summer.

And then something funny happened. When my mom went back to work the following year, and we re-enrolled in school, I was no longer struggling at school. I had easily caught up on all the things I had been “behind” in––long division was suddenly a cinch. And I hadn’t even noticed that I had been learning it so easily and efficiently. Ever since, I have always known that if I had children, my first choice would be to homeschool them if at all possible.

Neither of my kids have attended regular school. I have an 11 year old son and an 8 year old daughter who are both curious, avid learners who excel academically, are engaged in their community, and pursue any number of myriad interests and passions including chess, dance, basketball, songwriting, beatboxing, poetry, reading, writing, gymnastics, playing and talking on the phone with their friends. They are generally kind and earnest in their interactions with others, and adults in their lives often remark to my husband and me how “well-behaved” they are. Of course, they don’t see them at home:) But this is a common theme among homeschoolers. Our theory is that because they aren’t cooped up in a classroom all day, they don’t feel the same need to let off steam and “goof off” as much while out at the store, at sport practice, at dance class.

Homeschooled children have more time––to think, to wonder, to sit, to be, to sleep, to breathe. We live in a hectic world, and children are very scheduled. As my kids have gotten older and gotten more involved in extra-curricular classes, teams and hobbies, it strikes me that the only way it’s been manageable is because they have so much breathing room during the day. And the family still has plenty of time together to share meals, have conversations, get chores done, and more. We’ve still managed to maintain what feels like a civilized pace and schedule, even with increasing outside activity involvement.

I enjoy spending time with my kids, learning with them, learning from them, watching them unfold. Parenting is flying by, and in a few years, I’m sure I’ll see less and less of them, as they become more independent, autonomous and more interested in their friends, dating, and outside pursuits. And then eventually, God willing, they’ll leave home to start their own separate journeys. With the state of things as it is in the conventional school system, and with homeschooling’s proven success––why wouldn’t we homeschool?

Featured post

What Makes Us Attractive?

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

What makes us attractive––to ourselves and to others? And what happens when we cover up all the mirrors in our house for a week? (But leave one uncovered for the cat, because that’s just too fun to watch:))

Join sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason in their video discussion.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hi, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hi Anne.

Anne:                                         00:05                       So this evening, we are going to follow on last weeks. We were talking about image versus essence. We were talking about this trend toward cosmetic enhancement and what seems to be an overemphasis and an inordinate value placed on appearance of youth specifically versus, you know, our natural physical aging and all the good stuff that comes with that, which is wisdom, experience, I think authority.

Thea:                                         00:44                       And ease. I would throw ease in there.

Anne:                                         00:47                       And ease. And confidence. Definitely ease in our being. We’ve been here for more times around the sun and the more we’ve done it, the more comfortable we are in encountering challenges, obstacles, and all of those things that life presents. Right? So that’s a lot to embrace. And, and so we had had a lot of conversations afterward with friends and folks who had watched it and weighed in. And my friend Tina, for example wanted to make the point that it’s not so much for her about what others think of us, what, how others perceive us––but how she looks in the mirror matters to her, she feels. How she looks to herself helps her feel one way or another about herself, comfort in her own skin or not. And that led to a discussion we want to have. You’d mentioned this last time. What, what makes us feel attractive, right?

Thea:                                         02:04                       And what do we find attractive? And where does that stem from? How do we cultivate it? Because we all like feeling attractive and we all like to be attracted too or from.

Anne:                                         02:18                       Yes, yes, yes. We like to try attractive and attracted. Yes, indeed. So what makes you feel most attractive?

Thea:                                         02:35                       So what does make me feel attractive, and what makes you feel attractive? Feeling energetic, feeling vital, feeling a sense of power and a sense of ease. I think those are two things that I feel good in myself when I feel those things. I mean, the very clear distinction would be if I’m ill, we don’t feel attractive, right? So when we’re feeling alive to the world and that comes in different capacities and through different channels at different times. Sometimes it’s––feeling a real strong sense of purpose gives me a sense of vitality and powerfulness and capacity I think.

Anne:                                         03:33                       Ah, yes. Yes. Well capableness, even. Right?

Thea:                                         03:38                       Yeah. Yeah. Feeling capable. I mean that’s where the power I think is, really, is feeling capable to meet what comes and what presents itself to me and I was going to go somewhere else too. Now I don’t remember. Maybe you have something else to throw in there.

Anne:                                         03:57                       No, I mean, you know, what makes me feel attractive? You know, I think I probably feel most attractive when I’m less aware of myself that way or other. When I’m in it, when I’m present, when I’m connecting very much with someone. When I am doing what I feel my purpose is to do, when I am living my purpose, when I, when I am following my passion in whatever way that manifests. When I am, I mean, and I don’t want to sound contrived. I was just thinking when I am involved in something––I’ve been involved in causes that are larger than myself. When I’m involved that way, I feel vital and right. And yes, powerful. All of those things that you mentioned. When I am helping people. A couple of days ago someone was in need and a few of us were helping that person in need. I think that that like purposeful when we’re all working together to help someone out.

Thea:                                         05:31                       Capable. Meeting what’s in front of you. So it’s interesting as you know––speaking about what makes us feel attractive––it’s about being necessary, needed. These are the things that give us that sense of being appealing because we feel like we’re fulfilling purpose.

Anne:                                         05:57                       Significant! We feel significant, we feel significant to whatever it is we’re bringing ourselves to.

Thea:                                         06:10                       And then, I mean, and then that leads me…you know, of course those things flow easier for me when my body feels healthy and strong. When I’m rested, when I have a good rhythm in my life. So health, feeling healthy allows me to fulfill my obligations, allows me to fulfill them beyond the base minimum or the bare minimum. Into, like, giving my inspiration, using my inspiration, being inspired. So really, so I’m thinking attractive to me is synonymous with good. Feeling good. Right?

Anne:                                         06:58                       Yeah. But I also really like what you just said––inspired. I mean that kind of encapsulates everything that we were just talking about. Feeling inspired.

Thea:                                         07:07                       And that can happen through my own work, through whatever it is that my passion or my sense of purpose and meaning comes. It can also come through ignited moments with other people. Right? And that can come in different forms, can come through conversation, can come through appreciation of something beautiful together with somebody and seeing something with someone else.

Anne:                                         07:37                       Yes! And that’s what I was talking about with that connection. That I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s attractive to me in other people is a connection. You know, I mean, that only makes sense, right? When, when we’re on the same wavelength or if we’re on the same big wavelength together or something and meeting each other there and they’re seeing what I’m seeing and we’re back and forth, that’s very attractive to me. Right?

Thea:                                         08:06                       Yes. And I would add to that, the other thing that makes me think or find someone attractive is when someone IS capable, when someone is in their own purpose and when someone else is fulfilling their destiny, or searching or seeking to fulfill it and is finding their own inspiration. That draws me to them. Because there’s something happening in that.

Anne:                                         08:38                       Yes. It’s dynamic. But, but also when they’re doing it in, in such a way that is without self-consciousness. Right? And that’s, that’s when courage, I mean courage is attractive in many forms, but when someone is seeking, when someone is trying, when someone’s doing, when someone is exploring, that’s all very attractive. Right? And you know, and then in terms of like, you know, just the requisite list of what do I find attractive? And let’s, let’s acknowledge that we’re women, right? And, and women are different than men which is the age old thing. And I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, though I’d say, I don’t know, with different hormonal changes or whatever as I get older, you know, I can get us more of a sense of where they’re so drawn and driven aesthetically, sometimes, but stillwe’re different.

Anne:                                         09:41                       But I also want to point out that that article that I had written about wrinkles and gray hair means we’ve arrived––I got a lot of good feedback from men who expressed that they, they don’t like the fakeness either. That’s not important enough to them. But there are so many other aspects of a woman that are what draws them. Right? And vitality and health of course, right? It only makes sense for all the reasons you mentioned, but but back to what, what I find attractive is the mind, you know, I’m, I’m into the mind, I get drawn to, to people’s minds. I get drawn, like I said, to, to the connection. Certainly ease and confidence in someone is very appealing. I have had many relationships in my life and there’s not been one particular type. There’s been different different sizes and, and colorings and features and all of those things, right? And because it comes––that attractiveness and sense of oneself, self-possession––comes in many forms, right?

Thea:                                         11:20                       So, attractiveness, you know, sense of beauty and the lack of consciousness about how one is beautiful in a moment––is what’s beautiful. But as soon as there’s that awareness of how beautiful one is, it’s affected and it feels unattractive in like a moment. So it’s a funny, funny thing that can happen, which I think kind of led us into a little bit of another conversation tying all of this into parenting a bit in terms of how to allow our children to grow up without this scrutinizing self-consciousness––which, which comes in different phases and at different ages anyway coming into becoming. But the lack of, of having lots of mirrors for children to be studying themselves. Because if we get, I mean, I’m thinking of myself as an adolescent right now and there is this, there was for me a period of like really scrutinizing myself in a mirror, which, which was never pleasing. I mean, it, it never made me feel better. Well I remember some conversations with you, but I won’t bring those on here.

Anne:                                         12:50                       Are you thinking of the…

Thea:                                         12:53                       Totally. Hilarious. But you know, it’s, it’s about getting outside of ourselves. Cause when we go into ourselves, we, we become less happy. I mean we can take that into talking about when one feels depressed. I mean, I remember adolescence and having that feeling of depression. And that was when I was focusing on myself. So much. So it’s like getting outside of oneself, we become more beautiful and we become happier, which those are like two sides of the same coin anyway. And, and so thinking about our children, not having photographs of your children all over the place in your home because we are not these finite beings. We are more than that. Right? And that’s the thing about this, when we’re having, you know, artificial work, I can’t remember what the word was

Anne:                                         13:58                       Cosmetic enhancements.

Thea:                                         13:58                       Cosmetic enhancements. That’s working just with this finite physical being, which is not the thing that makes us attractive. I mean, sure, there are moments, there’s classic, you know, there, there are beautiful features, but it becomes more and more apparent as we live that it’s what’s coming through this being that we find appealing or not.

Anne:                                         14:23                       Well, you know, let’s also recognize the fact that there’ve been different definitions of what beauty is in the first place. Right? So, so yes, what’s coming through us probably is more what drives that rather than the other way around. Right. Perhaps so happened to be that what was coming through certain folks who had certain features and, well, the big breasts makes sense. That’s fertility. But you know, the lean athletic versus the round…

Thea:                                         15:07                       Voluptuous.

Anne:                                         15:09                       Yeah, it all changes. It goes back and forth. And so, yes, perhaps what drove that is that a lot of the doers, the figures of the time, resembled that instead. Right?

Thea:                                         15:22                       Or what impulses were needed in different times. Was it more of a softening, comforting, gesture to a world that was suffering or was it like, get shit done. So that’s an interesting picture.

Anne:                                         15:42                       Right. But back to what you mentioned about the photographs for example, I mean, I remember being, you know, again, you being my parenting mentor and you making me aware of the fact that taking shot after shot of your kid at every angle at one, at two or whatever, and putting them up on the wall. It’s like first off, it pulls the kid out of themselves once they become aware of the camera in the first place, right? Second, then they’re looking around at all of these stages of themselves, which are not them anymore in the first place. So, you know, just seems to muck things up. The mirror thing, which followed on a conversation I had with Tina, it’s like, it does start making me wonder. Has this trend toward image and appearance come along with this age of abundance and materialism where we just have so much stuff, which means we have mirrors all over the place. And then go, go beyond that to Hollywood celluloid and the emphasis on image, and then of course TV. And then now digital cameras and smart phones, surveillance. You know, you’re on camera all the time. So has that been what has driven this and, and perhaps we need to take a step back and more consciously figure out how to––amidst all of that, amidst living in a fishbowl––make a conscious attempt to remember, remind ourselves that that’s not necessarily what, well, that’s not all we’re about. Right?

Thea:                                         17:42                       Thank goodness.

Anne:                                         17:45                       And then the final thing I’ll say that struck me as you were talking is, you know, we’ve talked about confidence, ease in oneself being in that moment that, that beautiful harmonious moment of just purpose and doing. That is a very attractive quality in anyone and to ourselves, for ourselves. If we are spending a lot of effort and time on contriving ourselves…

Thea:                                         18:23                       On the artifice…

Anne:                                         18:23                       Then not only do we know that, and that ultimately might not make us feel so confident and at ease with ourselves even when we’re looking in the mirror, right? Because we’re seeing that insecurity manifest. And this, that fixation that self focus. We’re seeing that self focus manifest on our faces when we do cosmetic enhancements, makeup, whatever. But other people do too. Right? It’s revealing. It’s revealing and when we get a little too hung up in ourselves, that reveals itself and that doesn’t move us toward attractiveness to ourselves or to anyone. Right?

Thea:                                         19:27                       I would even then just add, it’s like, you know, our good efforts, our true and good efforts not only ripple out and are attractive to our friends, our partners, ourselves, but it’s good rippling into the world. You know, those moments of, of ease and wisdom. That’s good for all. Right? So, so that attractiveness is not just an attractiveness of mate to mate or whatever, you know, it is a ripple into the world.

Anne:                                         20:11                       It’s moving out into the world rather than getting fixed in here and contracted. It’s expansive, right?

Thea:                                         20:19                       It’s expansive, yeah. And growing and reverberates, you know, and those are things that make us feel good, you know? I feel good when someone else is rippling into their goodness, you know? And that comes back and forth and those things expand all of us into something bigger. Than just our own small self.

Anne:                                         20:46                       Yes. Okay. All right. Well let’s wrap it up with that and so maybe the point to remember and practice a bit is to evaluate whether or not––don’t put a lot of thought into it––but it’s like these efforts that we’re putting into appearance or whatever, does it ultimately make us feel good? Do we actually ultimately feel good? Does it feel good and right?

Thea:                                         21:19                       And, and then, you know, depending on different people’s habits, you know, I see myself in the morning when I brush my teeth before I go to school or work or out. But otherwise I don’t really see myself much during the day. So maybe even just taking note of how often you see yourself or see reflection of yourself.

Anne:                                         21:42                       Put the mirrors away! Cover them up. Do a one week experiment. Cover up all the mirrors in your house. And see how you’re feeling about yourself after that.

Thea:                                         21:56                       Yeah. It might be, it might be an interesting thing. I remember doing that at different times.

Anne:                                         22:03                       ‘Cause You got so caught up in your?

Thea:                                         22:07                       I think it was when my kids were young, I just kind of…

Anne:                                         22:10                       Exactly. Oh, now I remember. Yes. You did. Just to, to not distract them with all of that, right?

Thea:                                         22:18                       Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s good to try. But it is fun to see a cat find themselves in the mirror. So I remember seeing that too. That’s pretty fun.

Anne:                                         22:25                       Yeah, I get it. I get it. Okay. I was going to say one thing about my kids, but now I was, I was reprimanded for sharing too much about my kids, so I won’t, but, kids in mirrors sometimes…I’ll just say this. I remember being a kid and crying and sobbing in the mirror. And watching all of my expressions. Right?

Thea:                                         22:48                       I think I remember seeing you do that, actually.

Anne:                                         22:55                       My sidekick. Alright. Well, thank you so much for fitting this in. See how this one goes. Love to you. Love to everyone. Love to you, Tina. Okay, bye. Hang on a sec.

Featured post

Embrace the Face You’re Living

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

For all this talk of female empowerment, injecting Botox into one’s face seems anything but. Let’s embrace the face we’ve lived, and let’s free ourselves from this prison of artifice and illusion.

Join my sister Thea Mason and me as we discuss and examine the impulse behind the Botox trend, and a different way of conceiving our wrinkles, gray hair and…gap teeth:) And how these badges of experience serve to empower us.

And if you haven’t read it yet, please check out my related article: Gray Hair & Wrinkles Mean We’ve Arrived!

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Okay. Hi Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi.

Anne:                                         00:05                       So we are recording this evening for the first time in the evening, and you are also recording from the road, so we’ll see how the signal works. So this conversation we want to follow on last week’s. Last week’s, we called “Claiming Our Authority.” We were discussing the fact that it seems we’re living in a culture in which people seem to trust outside authority over their own. And we think that’s a problem. We think that people need to get more in touch with their own inner compass, inner guide, inner voice than they are right now. And that’s not to say we don’t value the advice of trusted friends, family, therapists or whatever, when we need perspective and help, but there seems to be a pattern a trend toward looking to experts for almost everything these days.

Thea:                                         01:27                       Handing over one’s own authority, one’s own responsibility, self responsibility to another figure.

Anne:                                         01:37                       Yes. Yes. And as we discussed this, we, we linked it to this, to the fact that image is such a predominant theme in our world, image over essence. You have used this, you’ve articulated this a lot. And the artifice and pretense at work in our world. And we determined that the direction we need to go in to help people reclaim or claim their authority is too recognize image and the value of image––the value of image as a model sometimes for something to aspire to, and to imitate, perhaps ? You had discussed, you had used as an example, like your teacher, you know, who do you sound like at first when you’re trying things out? You sound like your teacher until you make it your own. But it seems as if we’ve gotten stuck in the image and imitation and not moved it to the essence.

Anne:                                         03:00                       And it then led us to an off-camera discussion about, you know, maybe just little steps like you know, we’re makeup free gray hair, not a lot of pretense here, I think. And you hilariously made the joke back to me saying “And I’ll raise you one gap tooth.” And we realized that’s the starting point of this next one. We need to talk about this. We need to talk about your gap tooth and how you came to terms with your gap tooth and the process you went through when you suddenly had a gap tooth as a grown woman.

Thea:                                         03:45                       Yeah. Okay. So I’ll make this real quick. So this gap tooth is made by orthodontia, essentially, a misdirected well-intentioned parents following directions of an orthodontist. And so I had a fake tooth for many years that never felt comfortable. And because of the way the orthodontia experience went, had created a crooked tooth in my mouth, they had like made my front tooth crooked, which had actually given me headaches for years, which led me towards different healing modalities to heal myself when I was young. So, you know, I learned a lot. And then at one point, I guess I must have been in my thirties and my fake tooth that was glued into my mouth had fallen out for a weekend when I was traveling in Indiana, where we’re from. And I was like, darn darn darn it. Here I am! And and it was out for a few days and I felt extremely vulnerable and insecure at first. Very exposed. But in those couple of days, because this tooth had been yanked to the side and was crooked and had been creating pressure in my skull, I started to feel this deep release through my whole being, not having the fake tooth in there.

Thea:                                         05:18                       And so I knew that I needed to take it out. I knew I wasn’t quite ready. I was going to take a little bit of the pain for my vanity or something for a little bit, but I had sort of given myself a timeframe. And so from that point, I think it was about a year later, I took it out. Because I had been sort of just working with envisioning myself with a gap tooth so that my tooth could relax. And you know, I happen to work with children, and I play games as has come up many times. So I took it out and my first day back at school, you know I was a pirate playing a pirate game. So just “Arrgh!” And I really kind of stepped into it and took it on and became really open. And it literally has changed my life.

Thea:                                         06:14                       I was in a relationship that was not super positive or healthy, and the person I had been in this relationship with had even remarked, “You have not been the same since you took out your tooth.” And so that has given me this journey to myself.

Anne:                                         06:35                       All right, we’ll see. We’ll see how this signal goes. The signal’s coming in and out. So you were, you were saying, so this relationship that you were in at the time…

Thea:                                         06:45                       This relationship that I had been in for many years with the fake tooth in my mouth this person had remarked that once I took it out and, and life, you know, I was changing and claiming more of myself and my right to be and to yeah…

Anne:                                         07:08                       Your authority.

Thea:                                         07:10                       My authority. And you know, this person had remarked that I had never been the same since I took my fake tooth out, which, you know, had freed me from some idea of how I was to be. And I do remember, I mean, I was definitely feeling vulnerable and exposed with it for a period of time in the beginning. And I remember probably remarking to you, or at least to myself, that this is kind of like, this lets me know who someone is right away. This is something that stops someone’s way of relating to me, I’m not interested. You know?

Anne:                                         07:56                       Right. It kind of culls the herd right off the bat, right? Yeah. I mean that, that to me, I mean, so many people would have gotten work done to mask a gap in your tooth right there, right? And to go through that process and be uncomfortable over and over meeting the world, you know? That is, that’s growing, right? That’s growing. And that’s, that’s so freeing to get through that and come out the other side. Right? And well that leads me to, so talk about what we were, we had been talking about a little bit and I just wrote a little article about it too––but the topic of cosmetic work and or Botox injections or whatever has been, has come up in my circle of folks of women too. And then you and I talked a little bit about that where I’m trying to get my head around that. That idea of taking measures, which is essentially injecting poison into your face to paralyze the facial muscles so that they don’t move. So it doesn’t form wrinkles, so that we look younger than we normally would look, right?

Thea:                                         09:40                       Young? I mean, can I say younger? I mean, that’s not…

Anne:                                         09:47                       That we look, we look less wrinkly than we otherwise would, right? And I, you know, I touched on the fact that I think there’s, I think there’s a problem with that. And I, again, I acknowledge that, you know, I’ve always been content with the way I look. So yeah, I’m grateful for that, you know, so I understand. I haven’t walked in everyone’s shoes. But you know, I, I like my gray hair. I like these crow’s feet. I like these lines. These lines represent my experience! My, like I put it, my legitimacy. It is who I am. And, and I bring that to the table, right? So this obsession with looking other than we are is something that I think is getting people stuck. You know, it’s not just, I mean, that follows that we get stuck otherwise as well. Right? If we’re perpetually seeking to look different, be different, look different.

Thea:                                         11:16                       Well, actually making this body stuck. I mean, actually, that’s what it’s doing—is making it stop. And that is the opposite of growth and flow. That’s not what we are here to do or to be.

Anne:                                         11:37                       Well, and you know, honestly the way I look at it is kind of like, I mean, we’ve got a life and then we’ve got death, right? So I’ve always looked at it as if our lives and the way we live our lives prepare us for that next very beyond unknown adventure, whatever that is. If we get stuck holding on to something and not moving past it, whether it’s image or other, then I would imagine it’s going to make that stepping through that next doorway a lot more challenging. Right? So you know, and I say, well, we’ve gotten a bit off track here.

Thea:                                         12:27                       We have a little bit, but, so maybe we’ll just find where we’re going and if it’s not, it’s not, but what that makes me think of a little bit is I mean really in this aging, I mean, you’re saying “This is who I am.” This isn’t who you are. I know that’s not what you mean. Like you aren’t your lines, but this is the story of your life that you’ve carried. Right? And really it seems like as we age, the idea is to be able to drop this more easily. This whole thing. Yes. And instead, people are going to the gesture of grabbing it and holding onto it while they decompose, you know?

Anne:                                         13:13                       Yeah. It’s holding onto the artifice. Isn’t it? Holding on to artifice. So I’ll share a little story too. And I wrote about this as well, but I look at womanhood in basically the three archetypal stages of maiden, mother, crone. And I, I feel I’m in the mother stage right now. I mean, I am, I’m, I’m mothering my kids are halfway there, I’d say. And I remember, yeah, right before I embarked on this journey of starting a family and having these children, I was sitting with a filmmaker who liked to just randomly just take pictures as you’re sitting there. And I knew how to take pictures quite well and I knew how to pose, and in that moment, I made this conscious decision as, as he pulled the camera up, to not pose. To just look straight at it, because I realized I was walking through a doorway as I was embarking on this new life and I was no longer the, the maiden. I was no longer the, I wasn’t the ingenue, right? I was owning my, my entrance into the next stage of motherhood, womanhood. And that was very significant to me. But it was a conscious decision, conscious choice. Right? So as I also had mentioned in this article, you know, there’s a place for each stage. We need the maidens and their fertile, supple bodies. But what, what comes with that is also a naivete. And, a hopeful naivete, which serves us very well and serves the world very well, but that also needs to be tempered by the mother, that next stage of woman who has experienced and who has honed her purpose and brings her experience to the table as well. We need her as well. And we also need the crone in her wisdom, in her deep wisdom of life’s experience having gone through maidenhood through motherhood and grandparenthood and even beyond because our perspective changes greatly as we move through life.

Anne:                                         16:16                       But if we’ve got a bunch of we’ve got the maidens sitting at the table, the, the women trying to look like maidens sitting at the table and the crones also looking like maidens something’s off whack and we’re not going to move forward. Right? So I guess let’s wrap it up by, by just, you know, concluding that there is such a liberation in shedding that one stage. And that identity, right? I’m not the pretty young thing anymore. Right?

Thea:                                         16:58                       Right. Well, yeah, I mean sure, yes. Pretty young, I dunno. I just, you’re very pretty. And I think getting prettier, you know, is, is the other thing. There’s, there’s something to a person, inhabiting themselves more fully and completely that is breathtaking. So, so that’s the thing. I mean, I, I think what I would want to take us to a discussion next time is what is it we really find appealing and attractive in people, in our friends, in our lovers? What is it? Because it’s not the lack of wrinkles, right? Wrinkles and gray hair can be just the sexiest, most delightful thing ever, right? So, why? What is it we’re holding onto there? What is it that we are, in a culture, still trying to hold in our hands and we name it as smooth skin. Like what is that? Is it, is it hopefulness? Is it that that’s actually what’s being lost? And so holding onto the image of what we were when we were hopeful? You know, there’s a whole lot in there.

Anne:                                         18:25                       Yeah. and also to kind of, to explore who is driving this, too, in a way. Like, we talk a lot about female empowerment, but this is anything but, right? So are we mistakenly seeking something that is not even that, which is something to aspire to even even on a superficial level? Right? Are women doing this for men? Are men doing this for women? I know some women will talk about the fact that it will up their confidence to look better, to look more youthful and that aids them in all areas of life. But that still comes from some, some original impulse that that youthful look is something that is so highly valued even when you are almost 49 years old or whatever it is. Right? Or 70 years old.

Thea:                                         19:45                       Right. It’s so hard for me to really grasp that, that I just keep thinking that it’s actually we’re grasping after a feeling rather than a looking. Right? And that’s where the image part is––what we can look at in a picture and see ourselves when we were young and didn’t have wrinkles and remember the state of mind, maybe? Or the state of feeling that we were in, and that’s what we’re reaching for rather than actually this skin. I, you know, I don’t know.

Anne:                                         20:19                       No, you got it. You got it. It’s the tangible, it’s something that we can, we can grab basically. So perhaps it goes much deeper than that, but, but the only way we can quantify it, materialize it, is with Botox or facelifts or something.

Thea:                                         20:38                       Or the only way we think we can, yeah. Right?

Anne:                                         20:41                       Right. So next time we’ll talk about that. We’ll see how this one turns out with all your frame stuttering.

Thea:                                         20:49                       Yeah, sorry.

Anne:                                         20:50                       No, hey, it is what it is. We roll with it. Right? It’s all about the substance and not the image. All right. Let me end the recording. Thank you for doing this. Hold on.

Thea:                                         21:02                       Thank you. Thanks for all of it.

Featured post

Gray Hair & Wrinkles Mean We’ve Arrived!

by Anne Mason

We put so much effort into toxin free living, why would we then inject it into our faces? Let’s embrace these badges of experience and wisdom instead of trying to diminish, mask or erase them.

My girlfriends and I enjoying a day out in nature together––sans Botox, facelifts or make-up.

The topic of Botox, facelifts and aging has come up a lot recently in my circle of women. I’m almost 49, and my circle of friends includes thirty, forty and fifty something women. Like most anyone, I had encountered or knew women who had had cosmetic surgery or botox injections done, but I’ve only recently become aware of how widespread a practice it has become. And I’m quite shocked.

I’ve apparently been completely out of the loop, but I had been under the impression that the plastic surgery trend had peaked in the US in the 80s/90s and was on the decline. And while I was aware of the practice of injecting something into one’s face to reduce lines and wrinkles, I had the impression it was primarily employed by Hollywood actresses and occasional Ladies who Lunch.

Not so.

Botox has become an increasingly common procedure even offered at beauty salons and spas, and women of all walks and ages seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. I recently learned that women I know in their thirties have been getting routine Botox treatments. And I hear it’s now recommended that women even in their twenties get started on this procedure, ostensibly to prevent wrinkles from even developing in the first place in the normal course of a lifetime of smiling or furrowing one’s brow.

What the….?

I had no idea what Botox actually was. I wasn’t even aware there was any difference between that and collagen injections. There is. Botox is what actually causes BOTULISM! It’s the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria which causes the flaccid paralysis which leads to the respiratory failure associated with botulism food poisoning fatalities. People now pay to have this poison injected into their faces to paralyze the facial muscles in order that they don’t move and cause wrinkles.

I can’t really even believe that I’m typing that as if it’s a normal thing. Isn’t this insane? Isn’t this another huge warning sign that our culture is heading in the wrong direction? And even more bizarre, many women who engage in this practice are the same women who advocate for organic, non-GMO food, and who strive to live as toxin-free lives as possible––for themselves and for their families.

How can we resolve this disconnect?

I understand I haven’t walked in everyone’s shoes. I also understand I’ve been blessed with an appearance I’m content with. I’m a pretty healthy, active, and fairly fit 48 year old woman. My parents raised me with an emphasis on physical exercise and health, and I’m sure that’s served me well as I’ve gotten older. And I live in Northern California, where it’s conducive to be outdoors a lot, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the healthy sunshine. All good ingredients toward physical health.

However, I’m still trying to get my head around this idea of trying to look younger than we are. Especially for a married woman who has already had her children. Why would I want to look younger than 48? I am 48!

I know this isn’t the norm, but in my 20s and 30s, I looked forward to reaching my 40s. My younger self felt that by 40, I would have reached an age of legitimacy. An age by which I had gained enough life experience that I would have enough of a clue to be able to own my space here on Earth. That I would legitimately have a say about how things are done. That I would finally touch what it must feel like to be the respected elder in the society.

“Female Empowerment” is a popular slogan these days. A forty something year old woman paying someone to inject paralyzing poison into her facial muscles in an attempt to look younger than her maturely wizened self seems anything but empowered. It suggests she does not want to be who or where she is in life. It suggests she regrets her life’s experience. It suggests she wishes she were younger.

I enjoyed my youth, and I enjoyed my twenties and thirties. But I think most women would agree that there is a unique pleasure in reaching one’s forties. I think we kind of catch up to ourselves as we shed the maiden self in need of approval, protection, acceptance. Women in their forties stop caring as much about what others think or want them to do or be, and they begin to inhabit themselves more fully. Women in their forties take their life’s experience and apply it to new endeavors, new careers, new companies, new directions. In my and many of my peers’ experience, the forties can be a lot of fun. We’ve taken enough turns around the sun to know what life’s about, and we start really enjoying and understanding this human female experience.

I don’t want to return to the naivety of my youth, when life was more overwhelming, and decisions more fraught with worry or anxiety. The future is now, and I embrace all that’s led me here. I regard my gray hair with reverence and respect. I consider it powerful. It represents my wisdom and experience. My smile lines and crow’s feet indicate a life fully experienced, felt and lived. My forehead lines indicate years of expression and contemplation. This is what I bring to the table. This is what demonstrates my authority. My age. My experience. My wisdom.

I am not the virgin maiden anymore. I am a mother and a wife, a homeowner and a business owner. I gave birth to two kids and breastfed them, and it shows. My tummy is not as taut or flat as it was before motherhood. My hips are wider. My breasts are saggier. My body has done the beautiful job it was blessed to do. Why would I want it to look as if it hadn’t been through that blessed experience and rite of womanhood passage?

This life is a process of growth and stages and development. I perceive the three distinct stages of a woman’s life––if she’s fortunate to live long enough––as the archetypal maiden, mother, crone. The fertile maiden brings a supple body and a fresh and hopeful naivety to the table. We need her. The mature mother brings a capable body of experience and honed purpose to the table. We need her. The crone brings the wisdom of the years of maidenhood, motherhood, grandparenthood and beyond to the table. We need her.

But if all we’ve got sitting around the table are maidens, mothers trying to be maidens, and crones trying to be maidens, how far can we go? How powerful can we be? How can we move forward into the future, when we’re desperately clinging to some illusion of the past? If we want to be treated with reverence and respect, we must behave like grown-ups. We should allow our physical selves to reflect the experience we bring to the world, and we should embrace the power in that. And stop injecting poison into our bodies in order to look like little girls.

Featured post

Claiming Our Authority

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

In a world full of pretense and artifice, we’ve been taught to look outside ourselves for answers. Let’s penetrate this false belief by reaching for the essence beyond the image.

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                                         00:01                       And we’re recording. Hi, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hello there.

Anne:                                         00:06                       So we’re going to try to make this another quickie. And what, and I’ll, I’ll lead right in to where we’re going, I think. I was telling you before we started recording that my son, a couple of days ago, had asked for some advice. And the advice was at, at our homeschool park day, we have a variety of ages and, it was a new member park day too, so we had even more new people, new kids. There were a lot of youngers. And when I say youngers, I mean even younger than school age. So four year olds, five year olds. And he asked me, he said that he and one of his other homeschool buddies––they’re both about 11––were playing one-on-one basketball. And they were playing with my son’s ball and his friend’s ball was to the side.

Anne:                                         01:10                       And this little girl, this four year old came over and she wanted to play with the ball and shoot baskets, join in with them. And they tried to I think redirect her, which didn’t work too well, and it sounds like in the end she grabbed the ball and was shooting hoops, trying to shoot hoops right in the midst of them playing. Right? So what to do, how to manage that. And I said, well, if your friend is okay with her playing with his ball, the thing to do is to say “If you bring your mom or dad, whomever’s there with you at the park over to supervise you, you can then go play at the other basket with this ball. We’ll allow you to do that. But we want someone watching you so you don’t get hurt.” And it led to a discussion about boundaries and about the fact that what I find is that we are often helping people, children reminding them that there are boundaries. That we, we are helping children establish boundaries. And really, ultimately we are helping parents be parents, I find a lot these days. Because I explained to my son, the parent should have been there. The parent should have been aware of where their four year old was if the four-year-old is not capable of recognizing that there is something going on here that they need to respect and not intrude upon. The parent needs to be there, and the parent wasn’t there. Right?

Thea:                                         03:00                       Right. And can I jump in here? And then there’s that part where the 11 year old boys have that opportunity to say, “Hey we see you want to play, but we’ve got a game going on. So you can sit and watch for a little while, ’cause we don’t want to knock you over ’cause we might be getting a little rough. You know. So there’s that, that teaching moment that comes for those young children to teach a younger and that’s how, that’s part of that village picture too. You know, if the parent isn’t available or isn’t around, ’cause that’s what, that’s what they would do if it was their younger sibling. Like “No, sorry you can’t play. We’re already playing and we don’t want to have to totally alter our experience right now.” And then there are those times where, I mean I, in terms of those kind of social dynamics where you know, my boys ranging eight years, you know, they would go down to the park and shoot hoops and then other kids in the neighborhood would join in. And there is something that’s just so beautiful about that ability to play safely with those varying degrees, which we’ve talked about in various conversations about the youngest being the oldest, sometimes. The oldest being the, you know, the different roles they get to inhabit.

Thea:                                         04:22                       And then I can recall in the early days of my eldest, when I had time to spend at the park at that time, those experiences of meeting other children and parents and, and those social things, that’s a learning sphere right there for new parents. And I remember sensing that nobody really knows what the rules are. There aren’t any rules here. And how do we find our way and shape and hold this for our children, right? Because there’d be some people who would bring toys. There’d be some people here. And so are we expecting them all to share? What works out here? And then there is that step as a parent where one comes into, “these are my rules and this is how we’re going to do it.” Right? And then that lets the kids know where they are too, you know? And so other parents, as long as people are civil and courteous with one another, everyone can know where everyone is and can respect those spaces. But that doesn’t happen until someone steps up and says, Hey, this really isn’t appropriate for you right now, four year old. Dear sweet child, you can come sit over here and watch. You know, but no one knows until someone says something.

Anne:                                         05:48                       Right! And, and so and what we’ve talked about, like you’re saying here and we talked about in the past is that there is an extreme lack, I think of parents knowing to step up and say that. And, and so what you and I have talked about throughout many of our talks, we’ve talked about resilience, we’ve talked about autonomy. We have talked about boundaries spacial dynamics, spacial relationships, respect breeding, you know, begetting resilience, right? And it comes down to, what we were talking about earlier this morning, is claiming your authority. This needs to be worked on. People need to be empowered to reclaim or claim their authority, their authority as grownups, their authority, as parents, their authority, as people as empowered individuals.

Thea:                                         06:51                       Individuals, yeah. I mean claiming one’s authority as an individual. And we were just talking about that a little bit in terms of the reclaiming of that authority of the individual throughout our broader culture in society. We see that as a trend of lack of real authority figures, you know, standing tall. I’m sorry, I kinda got a little sidetracked, but also that’s what’s necessary for true relationship. Right? Because that’s self responsibility. To really claim my authority in my life, in my sphere. That comes from me being responsible for myself, recognizing what I’m responsible for and who I’m responsible for.

Anne:                                         07:46                       Yeah. And trusting one’s compass, I think. And what we talked about a little bit is that, I mean, again, I am 48 going on 49, you know, we’re both in our forties. How old are you? I always forget.

Thea:                                         08:04                       I’ll be 43 this month.

Anne:                                         08:06                       Right. So it has taken me certainly to my forties, to feel very comfortable with my authority. And you know, and I reflect on this. It’s like, I do think it’s a societal thing. I think that it is certainly a product of our educational system. And many other things. I think intentionally it is cultivating a culture of people who look outside themselves to know what to do to look to experts and authorities that are not them. Right? Whether it is, I mean, we have, we have experts in every realm. All walks, people pay experts for everything. People won’t do things because, until their doctor tells them to. People won’t make choices and instinctively act in certain ways without their lawyer’s advice and, and on and on and on. Right? So I think we all have to work through that to come out the other side and recognize that WE are our best authority. But what I think has really emerged from that culture is this lack of parental authority, too, right? And lack of individual authority in relationships, in marriages. Also people going to their shrinks. You know, spouses who have problems. They, you know, they won’t talk about their problems without a counselor or therapist leading them lead them through it. Right? This is not the way to go. Right? This is, this is, this is false belief. That’s a foundation of false belief.

Thea:                                         09:55                       Yes. Whew!

Anne:                                         09:56                       So, you know, in brief, we, you know, we’ve got just a few minutes, let’s discuss what steps we can take to cultivate that for people, for ourselves, for our children. And, and one last thing, just to give you a little something to think about is, I honestly have learned a great deal about that from you. You’re my six years younger sister, right? But I grew up being the people pleaser, the parent pleaser. I was the oldest. I didn’t take my own risks that I felt worth taking until I was much older than you did when you were taking your risks, I think. I did what I was supposed to do, right? So it took me a lot longer. And then you had children before I did. And so I got to look to you as a model, because I saw what incredible kids you have. You’ve done an amazing job. If anyone knows her kids, I mean they’re remarkable, extraordinary human beings. And with such a sense of themselves, other people as they maneuver and navigate through the world. So you’ve, you’ve really helped me in that way. So I kind of look to you to impart some words of wisdom, I suppose.

Thea:                                         11:24                       Well, that’s very generous in that. I think that there are some things that we all have helped each other, you know, see, for sure. And when we were talking about this a little bit previous, I think it came out of a remark when I was reflecting on what my work. What essentially I do for my work is really help to teach young people what it means to respect themselves and others. That’s what we touch in upon in relationship. So we can’t really have relationship until we learn where one is and where the other is––until we learn how those two spaces can meet and separate in a respectful way. And I mean that’s the work I’m continuing to do in my own life for sure. But in terms of this sort of work and, and then that sparked this reflection of something that happened in the playground because these are social games that I bring to young people. And so in those social spheres, that’s where we learn. We learn by messing up, and then we learn by trying it again. We learn that what I said wasn’t clear. And so I have to say it again in a more clear way. I don’t know if that’s bringing a pointed example, but I do also feel like this is one other part to share with this. I remember one of my parenting mentors, Misty––cause she had a daughter eight years older than our children––and I remember her saying, “Don’t say ‘NO’ unless you mean it, but say it when you mean it.” And I feel like I’ve seen that in our culture––there’s a lot of resistance to using absolutes, “NOs”, you know, “this is a boundary you cannot cross.” But then when people do use it, they’re using it and not backing it up, without following through, which makes “NO” mean nothing, you know.

Anne:                                         13:47                       Because they actually don’t know really what requires the “NO” or doesn’t. And that gets back to, gosh, it makes me even think about the whole, that’s a whole other discussion too, but in terms of the relationship between men and women and “no means no.” It’s like no, it’s not just language. You know, you have to truly know what feels right and what feels wrong. And when something feels wrong, it’s, you know, act upon it. When something feels right, act upon it.

Thea:                                         14:26                       Yeah. And it’s the recognizing, yes, that the language is like the 10% of our communication. I don’t know if there’s some study. But everything that’s behind it is what people are responding to. And I think we’ve talked about that a little bit in different things here––when we’re trying to create rules that are just material or just arbitrary, they fail. They mean nothing. And so we now look at where we are, and a lot of it is due to that, I think, you know.

Anne:                                         15:08                       And I’m just sparking right now. I’ve been sensing this and this is where I see it. It relates to artifice and pretense. You have brought this up a couple of times recently where, what did you say? It’s about the image as opposed to substance?

Thea:                                         15:28                       Yeah, things get caught up into the image rather than the essence. So much. I mean, I remember talking about this years and years back when we talked about, you know, different realms that I’ve lived in, you know, and where the substance, the essence seems to be lost and people just grab onto the image. The artificial, the material things that represent the image of the essence.

Anne:                                         15:55                       The trappings. Yes. And we’re going to actually wrap it up pretty soon, but basically, it makes me think of just like, like this: I mean, you know, we’re not made up, makeup, all that. Right? It’s like, I was telling my husband this, that like, as time has gone on in my life, perhaps as I have lived and forged more of myself, I have a harder and harder time indulging or engaging in anything like that. It feels so unreal, somehow. Putting make-up on, even. Right?

Thea:                                         16:37                       Pointless.

Anne:                                         16:37                       Yeah. so there’s that. Same with, I remember years and years and years ago, in my 20s, starting to have this sense of people in my adult life––as I was encountering adults, I would recognize that some people seemed, or a lot of people seemed like they were pretending to be grownups. They would say things that sounded to me like things they had heard that they think sounds grown up, but I could tell they weren’t really grownups. Right? So it’s all wrapped up in that similar thing of artifice, pretense, academic learning, abstract learning versus knowing this. Right? So there’s, there’s so much of that that we have to explore in another conversation.

Thea:                                         17:26                       We will, and I have to say one more thing before we close it, because there’s something here. I’m gonna try to be really brief, but there’s something in the image. Because I think when you’re talking like that––of people that you would see that would be acting like they were grownups, right? Imitation. And so that, that draws me to the young child. They learn through imitation. We learn through imitation, but it has to then translate. It has to evolve into the being. It has to evolve into the beingness of the essence. But what we’re seeing in our culture so much is that it, it circles and circles and circles around in the image. Into the image imitation rather than it dropping into the essence and then the evolution. There’s something there for us to go more with next time. But that has something to do with the inability to step into true authority. Because if you are functioning in this artifice, this image, and you’re only in the imitation––which is a process! Part of that is necessary. Right? I mean, I think of, when I’ve learned to teach, who do I sound like? My teacher. Until I digest it and it’s become myself and then I’m me. So it’s a process.

Anne:                                         18:54                       Right. We model, we model and then learn, right? We model and try things out. Until we embrace or discard what doesn’t work for us. Right? But we seem to be caught in this cycle of imitation and pretense and fear.

Thea:                                         19:10                       And the appearance.

Anne:                                         19:10                       The appearance. Where the appearance is so important, as opposed to the truth. Truth! And substance.

Thea:                                         19:19                       Substance and truth. Yeah.

Anne:                                         19:21                       Which is messy too. So.

Thea:                                         19:22                       Oh, and but, but so clean. The substance and the truth is clean because everything else falls off of it. But let’s stop there.

Anne:                                         19:35                       Yeah. I get it. Yeah. This one’s a teaser, it’s a teaser, so, all right. Well, we’ll go from that and talk a little bit about this before we go to our next deeper one following on this. Okay. Thank you.

Thea:                                         19:49                       Thanks so much. Be true.

Anne:                                         19:54                       Be true. All right.

Featured post

Fulfilled Mothers Reward Their Husbands

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason impart the secret men seem to have trouble grasping these days: A fulfilling sex life can be maintained throughout all stages of marriage if husbands empower their wives to fully inhabit their sacred role as mothers––and have faith in their wives’ mother wisdom above their own fears. Sex is like love––you have to give in order to get.

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hey, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hey, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:03                       All right, so we want to make this one a true quickie. We were a bit too meandering. We just recorded, and we’re going to just kind of recap what we were talking about and get to the heart of it and make it short. We talked, we were following on the conversations we’ve been having about men and women, relationships, the dynamic between men and women in microcosm as well as macrocosm in the larger, broader culture. And we identified the fact that one of the issues is expectations and, and managing expectations.

Thea:                                         00:47                       And misunderstood expectations and, sort of, uneducated expectations.

Anne:                                         00:56                       And, you know, I had opened it up by observing, sharing my observation about a couple we both know who got married young but who were both brought up in the Catholic faith––and were counseled. You know, I think the prerequisite to being married in the church must be, I don’t know to go through counseling sessions with their priest to talk some things out and establish some expectations and foundation before they enter into it. And what I observed, what I’ve observed over the years is that they have weathered some remarkable storms together and are still healthy and happy. And it makes me lament the fact that we were not given that kind of guidance before entering into relationships many failed relationships in our past. And and, and it wasn’t just because we weren’t brought up in a traditionally religious household, but I think it was a combination of that as well as this, this culture of this feminist culture that we’ve been brought up in where the differences between men and women are not emphasized. They’re not brought to our awareness and consciousness so that we approach relationships with that basic understanding. And I would say my, my younger earlier relationships certainly went––I would attribute some of their failure to the fact that really, I had no understanding of that. And my expectations were just unrealistic.

Thea:                                         03:01                       Yeah.

Anne:                                         03:02                       So it brought us to the discussion about sex. And go ahead.

Thea:                                         03:10                       And what’s and what’s required or needed to flow between in a, within a relationship, in order for sex to be able to be a constant through the many different stages of a family’s life. Right? So go ahead and step in. I feel like I’m still forming what I, what I have.

Anne:                                         03:35                       Well you had said something in that last conversation. It was, it was just basically, you know, we, we both quite honestly want to have sex!

Thea:                                         03:45                       Right. It may makes everyone feel better and do everything better.

Anne:                                         03:50                       Yes! There is so much to gain from a healthy sex sexual relationship with, which requires real true openness to be existing between two people. Right. Because it’s so when there’s, when there was the free flowing channel that is not riddled with resentment because my man is not functioning like my girlfriend would or whatever. Then if it’s free and flowing then it can be great and more satisfying and more frequent. Exactly. And just to not get too deeply into this, but we talked a little bit about priorities, right? Prioritizing, putting priorities in place in approaching the relationship. And we discussed what we’re really talking about mainly is unions with children involved. Families. And once you have entered into the contract of having children together, it becomes a different beast, a different thing. Right? And really it seems to me that the relationship itself has to be the top priority. That does not discount the needs of the individuals in the relationship, but if the relationship is made the priority, that gives one I think an ability to be a bit more objective, not personalize things so much. Also very helpful to understand that we have very different needs, very different ways of understanding each other, different forms of communication. And more. And so if we can prioritize the relationship and say, Hey, something’s not working here. Why is it not working? It’s not working because I feel I’m not getting this or I need this or such and such and such. Well, we can then establish whether or not the other person can help that person get that or not. And obviously honesty in that is helpful.

Thea:                                         06:13                       Which is, you know, self knowing is a prerequisite for that too. And, you know, having compassion for the different stages of life, we know as much as we know at different times. I mean, so––struggle. That’s part of the learning. All of it.

Anne:                                         06:28                       Absolutely. Obviously. And, and even the, again, compassion for someone who’s very different than you. Right. Right. And without even having to understand it, but just compassion for it and respect for it. Right? And it brought us to the conversation that we started having about couples that, that we know, I mean, relationships we’ve been in, couples that we know, and more. But there seems to be a tendency, a pattern I’ve noticed. So, I know many couples where the husband ahead of time before they even have kids or maybe early on is very intent on…

Thea:                                         07:26                       Securing couple time.

Anne:                                         07:31                       Securing couple time. Making sure that they don’t lose what it was they had before the kids came. And that sometimes takes the form of getting an au pair when the baby is an infant or other forms of, of child care, pushing the kids into preschool very early. I live in a county, as I think you do where attachment parenting is a big thing and attachment parenting often, what goes along with that, is co-sleeping. I know so many couples where the husband has really insisted that the kids go sleep in their own bed before the kids, as you point out even, or the mother is really ready for that, where they don’t feel that’s time. And what that ends up creating––or, like date nights, right? Date nights. One couple I knew, the man, the husband would, insist on childcare for the woman who was not working to have three days a week where she went and had her “me time” away from the kids so that she was fresh and ready for him. Right? That obviously achieves the opposite. At least it’s obvious to us. I don’t know why it’s not obvious to the men. Because what that ends up doing is, it’s contriving a situation where the man is getting involved in affairs he knows not of. Which is mothering. And he is not also acknowledging the fact that the woman is in that mother, mothering phase. That is a stage, a phase of their lives that IS.

Thea:                                         09:22                       And just to like spell it plainly, if a man can recognize that and honor it with true respect and reverence of the stages that the woman goes through in becoming a mother, then that is going to be the thread that makes that woman want that man all the more.

Anne:                                         09:45                       Blossom. It’s going to also make that woman, help that woman blossom. Right? If he, if he can embrace all that she is in those, in that phase as well.

Thea:                                         09:55                       Rather than sort of what I’m seeing is––that idea of creating a forced structure is a contracting force which makes the channel of communication and love shrink and get smaller.

Anne:                                         10:13                       And trust. Right?

Thea:                                         10:16                       And trust. And yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, it also, I mean, can really be synthesized, I think into, is it a true meeting? Because when that true capacity for meeting what is happening in the moment, when that capacity is shut off by more structure than is needed––I mean, we have work, we have all these other things that give us a rhythm or structure in life, but when you have your love lovingness become structured, there’s a plane going by. When that becomes so structured, it, it limits and cuts off that the meeting that, that spark that happens in the real addressing and fulfilling what’s coming up in the moments, what’s needed. That woman will love you all the more if you as a man can say, “Oh, I see you just, you know, you need me to do this laundry, maybe so that, you know, you can go put the baby down for a nap.” Or whatever. Instead of it being, “I want, I want, I want.”

Anne:                                         11:33                       Yes, exactly. Exactly. it’s, it’s still important for the man to express, to very clearly express what his needs are, his physical needs or whatever. But it’s very important for him to have some realistic expectation of the space she’s going to be in for several years, really. And you know, if, if, if I could only like share, impart the secret to men, for them to realize that if they would just really honor and respect and support the woman in the way that you were talking about, which is––look, traditional gender roles are here for a reason. Men as provider, especially in the early years when the children need their mother there most of the time if not all the time. Right? So that she doesn’t have to go off to work and you know, that that is critical. And she’s going to devote her time and help this child, you know, establish this strong foundation, right? From which to launch. The more she’s allowed to do that, the more independent the child becomes as they grow, as they should, and the more freedom that couple has to start exploring another phase of their marriage and relationship. At the same time, we discussed that the importance of the woman being willing and open and communicative about the fact that, “Hey babe, I’m nursing. I’ve got, I’ve got a kid on my boob all the time. I’m sleeping with them. I don’t have a whole lot of inner drive to share more of myself physically, but I will because that’s part of our contract actually here too. And if you’re good with quickies, we can do a whole lot of ’em. You know, let’s, let’s, let’s take a few minutes here. Let’s take a few minutes there.”

Anne:                                         13:40                       But I’m seeing a tendency, with women who have tried that with their men in those early years, for the men to be so disappointed that the woman is not fully present or something. Right?

Thea:                                         13:56                       Which then creates the opposite habit or pattern between that channel of connection. It creates resentment, it creates, well, what’s the point then? I’m not even going to try to open up that much, because that’s not enough.

Anne:                                         14:11                       Exactly! If she’s going to disappoint him every time, why should she even try? Right? And so then it just, it’s this snowballing effect, right? And then he pushes more and she resists more, and…

Thea:                                         14:24                       Then it’s 20 years later and they get divorced.

Anne:                                         14:27                       Yep. Yep. Right.

Thea:                                         14:29                       So quickies are good. Everyone’s happier if you’re having those connections. If, if people can set down an idea, a rigid idea of an expectation and meet what is so that what can be born of that can be nourishing and satisfying to both people.

Anne:                                         14:51                       Exactly! Yes. So let’s manage expectations. Let’s go back to the meeting table. And, and lay it out. Right? And then see how best, given the capacity of both people involved, how best we can keep this union going through each phase, healthily and happily.

Thea:                                         15:19                       And change with it. Happy and healthy. Totally.

Anne:                                         15:22                       And flow, flow with it, right? Flow with it and have faith that it will move through one phase into the next. Right? And it’s all part of the process of relationship. Right? Growing together.

Thea:                                         15:41                       There it is. Thanks Anne. Take care. Bye.

Anne:                                         15:45                       Good. You too. See you soon. Bye.

Featured post

Relationing and Sex––Has Feminism Made Us Happier?

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason continue their discussion about men, women and relationships, male and female archetypes, and sex as a relationship indicator signal––asking the question: Has feminism made us happier?

***IF ANY TROUBLE PLAYING VIDEO BELOW, PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK:
https://youtu.be/MhPbX85PjEk

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Okay. Hi,Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:06                       So we’re both outside today for a variety of reasons and houses, houses full of kids and people. So we, we talked about wanting to just start exploring–– I kind of like the way you put it. I’d almost like you to open this up.

Thea:                                         00:27                       Sure. we were sort of going off of our last conversation where we were speaking about men and women and the dynamics and roles. And I was just remarking that, you know, I wanted to acknowledge that everything that we’re saying and all that we’re bringing to this comes from our own experiences of life, our reflections and us waking up and piercing through the, the veil of false beliefs that we had digested and consumed from our culture, from society about what it is to be a woman what it is to be in relationship with a man. And I think that goes where we’re going, essentially.

Anne:                                         01:13                       Yes, yes, yes. And it was important for me when you highlighted that, that we talk about that because it’s, it’s just a process and a journey. I mean, not to get cliche, but this is just all a process of discovery and examination. And that’s part of what this dialogue is, right?

Thea:                                         01:41                       Looking towards, you know, understanding ourselves our life up to this point, our life from this point forward to be able to move forward with more mindfulness, with real clarity about our choices and the ways in which we choose to act and the roles that we wish to inhabit. You know, with the real clarity of mind about it.

Anne:                                         02:07                       Yes. as well as identifying some things that help us, help guide us, help, help guide us in teaching our children and helping our children understand the world and understand relationships and understand each other.

Thea:                                         02:28                       Yeah. I think if I can just jump in with that, you know, I, it’s been extremely heightened for me because I have three sons to raise into the world, and I think that has woken me up to so many of the imbalances and false ideas that I was raised with. Uin terms of looking ahead for my sons and what kind of world that they’re stepping into, what kind of world they’re looking for a mate in and what kind of mate they would be looking for.

Anne:                                         03:04                       As well as, if I can interrupt, based on another conversation we’ve had off-camera, as well as our responsibility in shaping the world that they’re coming into. Right? And our responsibility as women to help direct that. Right? And part of what sparked this idea for this conversation was something I had shared to you, which I had also posted in a comments, maybe about our last conversation about men and women. And the title of that one–– “Let men shine.” Right? And much of the crux of it, I felt was allowing men to be men, women to be women, not expecting them to be other than they are. And to recognize and acknowledge the strength in that, the beauty and strength in that rather than the lacking––that the man doesn’t have enough of the woman in him or the woman doesn’t have enough of the man. And I had reflected on, it’s funny what, whatever that blue jay, is it a blue jay? A crow?

Thea:                                         04:30                       Yeah, there’s crows. There’s a bit of a battle with the parrots up in the tree up here.

Anne:                                         04:33                       With the parrots, right. Yeah. Tough life here in California. I was reflecting on the fact that I now realize that when I was a kid and growing up as the young woman, just even in listening to, reading stories, learning about days of old when men and women were it was much more accepted, I suppose for want of a better word for women and men to inhabit traditional roles and to approach an understanding of each other through an acknowledgement of those traditional roles that we each inhabited.

Anne:                                         05:26                       And I remember kind of feeling as if––and I, and I think because of the culture I was growing up in and the way I was being taught by a feminist, feminist parents really––was that, to kind of throw that out, to disregard that, that that was kind of an archaic way of looking at things, a limited, archaic way of looking at things almost. You know, stories where a woman is being taught the art of being a woman by her mother. Being taught that men are like this and men need this and this is how you can help the man come to understand this, etc. Etc. Without directness kind of, you know a kind of subtle way of guiding.

Thea:                                         06:23                       I would say, maybe, not, not using the word “without directness,” but with an appreciation for that which the man is and that which the man provides and for the acceptance of it. So it’s able to be subtle without it being sticky, right?

Anne:                                         06:45                       Yes. Or Yes. Heavy handed. Because, so that we can still dance with each other, acknowledging these differences, but not throwing it in each other’s faces because that kind of ruins the mystery of it. Right?

Thea:                                         07:02                       Mmhm. So, I was just thinking that this is sort of the, what we had touched upon when we were discussing this beforehand that it’s like we’re in a world where nobody’s happy in the role that they’re allowed to be in. And there’s this sort of constant, seeming battle in, in the broader culture of the way women feel men are or should be or aren’t, or the way that they’re not allowing a woman to be recognized or given due credit for. Or, you know, I’m being a little bit too vague, but, but because, because of this, what, what, what the impulse of feminism, like there was a need for women to be able to step out of being locked into a particular role for sure.

Anne:                                         08:02                       Or being suppressed, right. You know, supressed.

Thea:                                         08:05                       Not acknowledge or, you know, not glorified, not being recognized. You know, and appreciated properly. Maybe. I’m not sure, but it seems like everything got thrown out instead of finding––how can I be then appreciated and loved and cherished, I mean cherished. How can we cherish one another for the work that we do because we do different work, and we can’t do the same because what’s happening right is, is in this world where we’re, it’s like everything’s about trying to do the same work. For a man to show “I can mother just as well as a mother” or a mother to be just as much of a father and no one’s really pleased, it seems. Is anyone more happy with this sort of throwing out the archetypes? You know? I guess what I would try to say is it seems to be, we need to be able to recognize it’s an archetype. That it’s not something you’re limited by. We’re not only that. But that is one in which as a woman I can inhabit when I’m with the man. When I’m not with the man, I don’t get to only be that archetype, I have to do this, this, this and this and vice versa. But it’s, so it’s like, instead of throwing out the archetype entirely, let’s just recognize we don’t have to be stuck in one. Yes. But we can be in one and it can be beautiful and freeing and make us all happier if we’re meeting each other in that archetypal way.

Anne:                                         09:46                       Yes. We all in different capacities throughout our lives inhabit different roles. Just even from the more basic perspective of looking at children. We’ve talked a lot about this and, and the different pedagogies and and, and why it’s important for children to spend time with youngers and olders so that they can inhabit more than one role. Right? They can be the older and the teacher. They can also be the younger and the not knowing and the learner and that humbles them a bit.

Thea:                                         10:21                       And makes them secure, also being able to be secure when you’re able to be in different roles and be held by those in the other roles.

Anne:                                         10:31                       Yes. Right, right. And, and so by the same token, if we can make it more okay to inhabit the archetype of man and woman while we are in that relationship, that keeps things, um to me it seems like it’s…I mean, we’ve worked through this for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. Like let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, right? We’ve established some wonderful dynamics and a dance and a rhythm that works pretty well. A distribution of labor, if you will, you know, in the world. And that does not mean that when we are not inhabiting, that does not mean that when we’re not in that dynamic that we can’t also take on, step in, step in for each other. Right? And experience that, exercise, that and add another string to our bow. Right? So yeah, that’s where I see the issue and, and where, where are we on time?

Thea:                                         12:01                       We’re good. We’ve got another 10 minutes. So I’m not sure what we’ve said yet all the way. We’ve kind of laid a broad groundwork. But I guess the question that comes out of this, this dialogue really that I, I’ve been thinking about is, are we happier? Are people happier? Are marriages better? Are relationships better? Are, you know, are families healthier and happier? Are kids healthier and happier with this, with this movement that we have been in the last 40 years, you know, 50? What year is it? Um you know, what’s the outcome? Where have we gotten to? And from my limited perspective, which I grant is limited, I see that often, relationships fail. Often, there’s this, this struggle that isn’t able to be resolved and worked with. And then, you know, when looking at marriages, it takes a whole lot of courage and commitment for people to really make something continually work and grow and change with the continuous growth and change of each individual. Most often what I’m witnessing is a bitterness after 20 years.

Anne:                                         13:30                       A resentment I’m seeing that we witnessed in our parent’s marriage. Right? as far more resentment than gratitude. And you and I have had the experience really throughout you know, we both, we lost our parents quite some time ago. And so that’s given us an opportunity to have perspective and reflect in a way that one doesn’t have, when the parents are still around and still in that dynamic. And we recognize really what an amazing we had. And yet their marriage was so riddled with strife and resentment. There was a lot of resentment on Mom’s part toward Dad. And, and so we’ve talked a little bit about this and so many friends I know and, and past relationships I’ve had too, right? I mean, I’m almost 50 years old, right? It’s taken me this long to even be able to articulate what we’ve just talked about, about: Wait a minute! Traditional roles, men and women’s traditional roles, there’s some merit to this and, and a relationship, I don’t care how you cut it, does not work with blame and resentments at the heart of it. And it takes two, absolutely two, and and they, they do need to support each other, respect each other, support each other. And want the best for each other. Right? because without that, I know Jordan Peterson has articulated this and many others, but it’s so obvious! Without both people being lifted up, the whole union falls apart and it gets no one anywhere.

Thea:                                         15:33                       And it may fall apart really slowly ,like a slow demise. And the thing that I think I mean just on that, and then I have this other thought I want to go back to is, you know, and if there are children in that relationship, that are out of that union and the demise is slow and steady and unspoken, that for me, I feel like––of course from my own experience as a child in our family and then my own situation for my children––that’s what they’re ingesting, of how relationship is. And you know, if we want to free our children to, to cultivate something more positive and true, we have to have the courage to name our problems, to name our responsibility within those problems.

Thea:                                         16:38                       And that just leads me to––in a marriage, in a relationship, if you’re not having sex, then there’s a problem. And that is like a major signal, right? And it doesn’t mean if you’re having sex, everything’s good either. But if you’re not having sex, then there is a big channel of communication that is not happening, which is what makes you be in a relationship as with a mate, you know? And if that’s not there, it takes courage and honesty to go there and discover why is it? You know, when I think about our dad, as great as he was, there was obviously something missing in the way he was seeing our mom and the way she was able to see him so they could reflect back to each other what was beautiful, which would make them want to be in union. Right? Because we want to be, you know, we want to be getting brighter.

Anne:                                         17:36                       Yes, yes. I think that is key.

Thea:                                         17:40                       Get it? It’s a key.

Anne:                                         17:46                       Well, no, I mean, and, and so, and now what are we, I still, because my eyes are so bad, I can’t see how much more time?

Thea:                                         17:52                       We have five more minutes.

Anne:                                         17:52                       Okay. So just, just to start with this will––this will be continued later. But yes. It’s a big issue. It’s a big issue. We, we, you know, so many friends, so many, so many couples in really miserable situations and the sex, making love, that physical connection, it does reflect on the health of the relationship. It’s also the biggest signal to say stop, take a look at each other and have a very open and honest conversation. Because you cannot keep going on like that and allowing this chasm to get wider and wider. It’s not gonna move toward anything healthy that I can imagine in a marriage. And so you have to figure out why that is. You have to ask for what you need, I suppose, but you have to also equally, if not more, respect what it is that other person is also able and willing in that moment to give. And figure out then how to make it work between those two.

Thea:                                         19:34                       And how to really truly appreciate that which is given, right? That, which is offered and that––but this is such a huge conversation and subject matter really. But in thinking of families and parents, my goodness, you know, when, when children are young, it’s like near impossible to, to have as a, as a mother, you don’t have much force for being sexual when they’re young, right? You’re, you’re kind of maxed out.

Anne:                                         20:06                       You don’t have a lot of extra. It’s true. And so you may not be able to be as present as, as you might have been earlier or later.

Thea:                                         20:18                       Or later. And the thing I guess I wanted to say with that is, you know, that’s a part where it makes me think that so much of what we’re, we’ve been fed through media in various forms has altered people’s real ability to meet what is before them. You know, life is not a 30 minute sitcom.

Anne:                                         20:42                       Nor is it a a porn flick. Right?

Thea:                                         20:47                       Right. And so it’s like, it’s not going to be neatly wrapped up in one, one idea or another. And if we can in relationship be true enough with ourselves to meet the person in front of us, which means we cannot be caught in our own ideas of what reality is supposed to be. Right? So if we can meet what’s really there, then real relationship can happen. And real relating can happen. I like the term and I know it’s not one, but “relationing.” Like it’s a little bit outside of relating and it’s not relationship, but it is the practice of being in relationship to the relationship itself.

Anne:                                         21:34                       Being in relationship to the relationship itself. Yes. But I think I also get from it: Relationing. Really, it is relating. Yes. But it is meeting each other, seeing each other as clearly as we can. I mean, yeah, we’ve got lots of filters that we have to work through, but as clearly as we can and accept––after we establish that each person actually wants to be there––to then accept what it is each one is able to bring to it and be grateful for that. Yeah. And work together to figure out how it then can form the relate the, the, the relationing, right? So yeah, I mean I think we can end it there right. For now. And, and keep working with this, because men and women both need to work on that. Right? yeah. We need to work on getting through those oftentimes where we’re, we’re not quite in the same…

Thea:                                         23:01                       Groove?

Anne:                                         23:01                       Same groove. But both parties are willing to still meet there despite how they’re feeling or that one doesn’t feel that they’re getting as much from the other as they want, but they’re still willing to do it because they care so much about the relationship and each other. Then the focus on being grateful for what that is rather than focusing on what it is not, will eventually get us to those glorious moments when we meet perfectly and synchronously and harmoniously. And I think that the more we do that and establish trust with each other, the more frequent those moments occur. Yeah. Because it is true relationing then.

Thea:                                         23:55                       Truly beautiful. I know. There’s so much more to say, but this was wonderful for a quick one, touch-in.

Anne:                                         24:03                       Yeah. Another, another quick one. Okay. All right. What’d you say?

Thea:                                         24:08                       A quickie if you will.

Anne:                                         24:14                       A quickie. There are many kinds of quickies, and here is hopefully one of them. Hang on a sec and I’ll stop.

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Let Men Shine

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

My sister Thea Mason and I discuss the inherent and glorious differences between men and women, and how reverence for each other’s strengths and ways of being allows each one of us to reach our fullest potential––individually and as part of the whole.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Record to the cloud. Hi Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hello, Anne. Good to see you!

Anne:                                         00:06                       And you. So, well, let’s be real here. We’ve had a lot going on in our lives. We both have. And are a bit distracted and there’s just, there’s a lot swirling and swimming, and we weren’t sure what we were gonna talk about here. There’s a lot we could get into. And we chatted some before we started recording and got to our fav, one of our favorite subjects, which is men, right? Which is men. And decided to just start to touch on this. We’ll try to make this one quite a short one and just, just get a taste right now and see where this leads us. But we talked, we talked, first of all about a comment thread that we were having on online where somebody, a friend of ours, was mentioning something about the length of these podcasts. And I made reference to how kind of windy we get in our conversations as women do, versus men who might be a bit more linear in the conversation. And I made some mention about, you know, that’s, that’s what we need men for to kind of, as you put it, bring it to the point. Right?

Anne:                                         01:38                       And, and so we started talking about that, that the, the balance between men and women, the, the fact that women and men need each other to be, and to become, in the way––as my husband had articulated it recently––you can’t, did he say, “You can’t see the moon without the sun.” Right?

Thea:                                         02:15                       Right. Precisely. Well, I’ll take it for a second. If that’s all right? It just sparked just that comment sparked a little bit for me. Being a pretty strong willed, strong and forceful woman myself in the world. You know, there’s, there’s something I think in our culture that I, I hear, you know, I see things, women posting, things about, you know, it’s not about finding your…the right knight or be your own knight or be, which is of course, true. Be your own best self. Become your own most fierce, compassionate, beautiful being you can be.

Thea:                                         03:08                       But I still want to find that most beautiful and compassionate manly mirror to myself. And it doesn’t, that does not negate me becoming my best self, to find and look for that noble man who can stand strong and shine his bright sunshine into my moonshine.

Anne:                                         03:33                       Yes! And to, to add to what you were saying like, okay, right. The spirit, we get the spirit of like, yeah, “Be your own knight.” Right? But what I think it’s meaning is find your own strength, right? To operate from. Don’t use someone else’s strength to fill that which you can develop in yourself. But…

Thea:                                         04:01                       And that goes for men and women both because…no one’s happy that way.

Anne:                                         04:05                       It goes for people, right? Right. Then that’s not balanced. But men and women are inherently different. The Sun is not the Moon.

Thea:                                         04:19                       And the sun is constantly whole and bright. No matter if we see it or not.

Anne:                                         04:27                       And the moon goes through her stages and the moon retreats to her inner world, she shows only parts of herself, right? At times. And then there are times, and as you pointed out there, there is a rhythm there. It is cyclical. She comes around and shows her full self, right? And meets him fully in that way. But the only way she can meet him fully is to be allowed to go inside, and go down her own paths of doing and being, which is not the sun’s way. But at the same time, the sun, like you pointed out, yes, he goes behind the clouds sometimes. Right? But he needs those, you know, he does it in a different way. I mean, it’s, that’s an external retreat rather than internal retreat. He’s still, he’s still there, that bright sun all the time and he can’t be expected to travel, to travel, to traverse those realms with her.

Anne:                                         05:53                       She can’t expect that of him. She can’t expect him to…

Thea:                                         05:58                       Be different than he is?

Anne:                                         06:00                       Yeah! And! She must––in the way he must allow her to do her thing and travel her path, and also to cherish that path that she travels and regard it and honor it––she must do the same for him. While he shines bright and strong no matter what’s going on. That is, that is beautiful. And that is something to revere and give him credit for or whatever. Right? Go ahead.

Thea:                                         06:43                       Well, and it’s something, it’s something that can be counted upon. You know, in saying, you know, we can’t expect the sun to, to act differently than the nature of the sun. And we can’t ask the moon to really behave differently than the nature of the moon. And when we do that, ask that, so being clear as man and woman, when we’re asking man and woman to behave differently than they inherently are given the rhythm of behaving, something becomes really distorted and lost and out of orbit in terms of the way they get to support one another and meet one another and all that they hold between their two spheres. You know, all of this world of reality that functions between the dynamic of man and woman or sun and moon, you know, that becomes distorted if these dynamics are distorted as well. And one of the thoughts I’ve had in thinking of the sun, you know, shining bright––on some days, it’s so piercingly bright and hot that you have to find shade. You need to take cover and adjust how you meet it, how, what, what of the sun can you take in today? You know? And some days you can take all of the sun and bask in it, you know, and bathe in it in all of its glory.

Thea:                                         08:12                       And sometimes you can’t! And sometimes you need to create your own shade blanket because it’s too fierce or it’s, you know not soft enough. And that doesn’t mean that the sun doesn’t know how to go behind the clouds. Sometimes, you know, sometimes to give a little cover from its intensity or its piercing one-pointedness. Sometimes it has to become a little diffused, but that’s not constant. You know, it has to be able to move. I’m getting a little bit sideways, except I think it’s really just how can we as women, how can we honor that space of the sun? How can we honor that space of the man so that, that sun and that man can honor the space of the moon and the woman? That’s where it has to come from.

Anne:                                         09:07                       Absolutely. And we’ll, we’ll probably decide to have a longer, more material conversation about that. But thoughts occurred to me like, you know, w we can’t we can’t expect them to––I mean, there’s the comics, the standup comics make all the jokes about this and everything––but we can’t expect them to be women. We can’t expect to have the same conversations that we have with our women friends. We can’t expect them to read us the way our female friends read us. We can’t expect them to speak our language. We can expect them to try to read it and decipher it best they can. But, you know, and I think of it like, you know, just, you know, the way we, we women process things the way we need to understand the world. I think we, you know, at least my own experience is, as I’ve gotten older, of course I’ve always had my, my great female girlfriends, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to recognize the depth and strength of and sacredness of those relationships separate than my male relationships. Equally significant. Right? but I’ve been able to, as I’ve gotten older, and maybe it’s, it’s kind of as one becomes more whole and is looking less to other people in the world to fulfill something in them. We’re able to regard, I’m sorry, let me just pause this for one moment. Okay. so, I sure think it’s, it’s important to recognize that those relationships are very different. They are just as important, but neither is more important. And they each have their time and place.

Thea:                                         11:34                       Absolutely.

Anne:                                         11:36                       And I had made a joke. Well, I, I’d responded to that comment where I’d said, you know, I think women, women need to get rid of the attitude and get back to gratitude a little bit in terms of the men bashing because the comment, yeah, the comment was “Wow. Women who like men?” Have I even talked about this in our recording? But like talking about “Women, women who like men? Wow. Can you believe that?” And I was saying that, you know, I’m, I’m in all seriousness, I’m a little sick of the men bashing. It’s just, you know, I have a son!

Thea:                                         12:15                       I have three! Yeah.

Anne:                                         12:18                       Exactly. And I don’t want to hear this right? We can hold people accountable without tearing them down. So…

Thea:                                         12:32                       And if we don’t hold people accountable in a respectful way, we’re not going to get anything we want.

Anne:                                         12:40                       And that’s the other thing I pointed out, which is how really just nonsensical and impractical it is. It’s like a relationship between a man and a woman, or really a relationship between anyone. Right? Unless you are planning to leave the relationship, then coming at it with blame and accusation gets us nowhere. The only thing that does get us somewhere is to find more and more effective ways of communicating our needs, our dissatisfactions, whatever it is, but also in a bolstering, supportive way and manner that allows that other person to see that you can see their best selves, so that they can rise to their best selves. And you know, one of the critical components to that is to allow that which they are to be strong and work with that. So.

Thea:                                         13:44                       Because we can’t, because we can’t, I mean in my observations of my life and through friends, if we don’t ask for what we’re looking for or what we need and find ways towards building that, there’s, there’s no one to blame but ourselves. But we can, but we can guide those things. I mean, when you have a relationship that’s growing together, you know, you have to know when you have to put your oar in and you have to redirect something because it’s important.

Thea:                                         14:25                       And if it’s not important, don’t keep going along, building resentment about it quietly until you explode and burn the whole thing to the ground. You know, if we’re not each from each side, man and woman, if you’re not investing in one another towards building a house together, that is one of both liking it, you know, then it’s like then you get angry and that’s what it seems like our culture is so much in, it’s like, how do we build the house together. It’s a, it’s been this building, building, building of quiet anger that’s now coming out with, you know, a fierce, irrational lashing. And burning it all to the ground when the reality is, and I think this hearkens back to our first conversation we recorded, women are the stewards of humankind, of, of humanity. And we are raising these boys to become men. Whose job is it? It’s ours as well as the fathers, but just simply out of biology, the fathers aren’t always around. And so if the woman is the one who’s in charge of that, if my young men grow up and they are not good men, that’s on me.

Anne:                                         15:45                       Absolutely! I, can I, there’s something in this to flesh out later, but something that I’ve said long ago is…

Thea:                                         16:04                       Sorry, I’ll turn my timer off again. So sorry.

Anne:                                         16:06                       Okay. It’s your bread timer. Okay. Hold on. Like the typical woman you are. Let me pause the recording…Okay. So Thea is folding her dough right now while she, while she podcasts here. Someone I, I used to know who is no longer with us, but used to say you can get anything done in this world as long as you don’t take credit for it. Right? And that has stuck with me. And I have said since then that I feel that part of the problem between men and women is this newer need for women to get credit for the work they do. And which maybe is why there’s this pursuit of recognition in the field of men, in the realm of men. Because men are more out here, external, the work they do.

Thea:                                         17:09                       Look at the sun!

Anne:                                         17:11                       Exactly. The work they do is more measurable and quantifiable. Whereas the work we do, again like the moon, the inner work, but the inner work on, on the level of family, of children, of parenting, of being a wife to a husband, to being a woman, a supportive woman to a man and helping him navigate and maneuver in the world. We sometimes do that quietly behind the scenes. We are just as responsible for, for the result of it. Right? But we don’t, I feel it’s important that women remember that we don’t we don’t actually need the, the worldly recognition to that degree ’cause we know it. So anyway that’s so that’s all for another conversation. Let’s try to keep these a little shorter. This is food for thought for everyone. You know, I’d love it if people would chime in and, and bounce these ideas.

Thea:                                         18:13                       Share their thoughts and ideas.

Anne:                                         18:13                       ‘Cause There’s something, there’s something to this. So once again, thanks, Thea. We’ll do this again soon and have fun with the bread.

Thea:                                         18:23                       Thanks very much.

Anne:                                         18:23                       And hang on, let me just, let me end the recording and we’ll talk for a sec. Stop.




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