Sunday, March 27, 2011

Venus and Mars



A blog by Hollye and Amy Ferris 

HOLLYE

I know it will make me unpopular to say that men and women aren’t equal, but its true. I mean, we are equally capable of course. We can reach the same magnitudes of greatness and accomplishment, but the way we get there is entirely different because – let’s face it, we are not the same animal.

Case in point: Amy and I spend a considerable amount of time weighing what we imagine other people are going to feel about any given situation. We second guess our friends behaviors and surmise what their emotions might be.

“A was a little quiet the other night. You know she’s been really fragile lately. Do you think B said something to upset her?”
“C hasn’t been commenting on facebook. Is she mad about something?”

Things of that sort.

So the other day I’m telling my very kind and patient husband a long drawn out story about something that happened that week and whose feelings appeared to be hurt and should I say something or mind my own business, because after all, she may not have been feeling anything at all and I’m just interpreting it wrong.

At that point my truly sensitive, sympathetic, sweetheart of a guy burst into uproarious laughter.

When he catches his breath, he says,“Oh honey, you can not imagine the enormity of the fuck I do not give.” He continues laughing.

I have to admit, I was a little miffed.

“Seriously sweetie,” he said “Can you imagine me saying this to you: The other day I called John and he seemed distant. I wonder if he’s upset because I had beers with Mark and Dave?”

And then, in spite of myself, I started laughing too. No, I can not ever imagine him saying something like that, nor any of his friends. And that’s where men are lucky. My husband feels no responsibility to take on his friends’ emotions, and they return the favor. Every man for himself.

But women? We are so freekin’ complicated and maybe it’s our intuition, or our built-in caretaking abilities, but we are always digging below the emotional surface. It seems to be in our nature to pick up on every cue, a slight difference in body language, a telling sigh, and geez, can that ever be exhausting. Especially in our relationships with men.

One time, after recounting an argument I’d had with my husband I jokingly said to a lesbian friend, “It must be so easy for you. At least you girls understand each other.”

“Not so easy.” She said. “If one of us is jumping off the emotional cliff, the other one follows.”

So maybe that’s where the Venus and Mars thing comes in handy. When I’m jumping off the emotional cliff, he brings me back to Earth. When he’s skimming the surface I show him how to dive, to see a different world underneath.


AMY

This is what I love about my conversations with Hollye. They're chock full of goodies. And because we share the same exact birthday, we're often, not always, but often in a similar mood. We share horoscopes, emotions, many (new) girl friends and... it does appear the same type o' guy. The thing about this particular blog which makes it oh so yummy, is that both Hollye and I had virtually the same exact conversations with our husbands (although slight variations on their & our reactions.)

I said to Ken that I needed/wanted his opinion about someone and something, and should I, you know, mind my own business. Ken looked at me, in a sort of tilting head kind of way, and said, "You know Hon, men never ask these kind of questions, we don't give a shit if one of our friends is having a beer with another friend and didn't invite us. We just don't give a shit."

And I looked at Ken, tilting my head, and I said, "And this is exactly why you have been married three fucking times, and I have only been married once, okay, and I have an entire virtual room full of Facebook friends and you're not even on Linked-fucking-In. Nevermind, I'll go ask Liz what she would do."


And he laughed, a thank you Jesus kinda laugh.

And so, I called Liz, and asked her what I should do, and we ended up talking about this, that the other thing for a good fifty-minutes and then she said/asked: "Are you going to Amy's tonight for dinner?" Uh-oh. No. No. I wasn't invited. Are you, I asked. No, she wasn't invited. But how did she know, I asked. Brenda told her. Uh oh. Brenda? Brenda is going, and we're not. And then the bulk of our conversation was about the fact we hadn't been invited and then of course, we went into a whole crazy whacky "wonder why" scenario. Did we say something? Do something? Insult someone? Gossip? Should we call and apologize and try to get invited to the next shindig? Were there other parties, other un-invited events and nights?

Amy is my best friend - why wouldn't she invite me?

I was mortified. 

And as I was hanging up, Ken came into my room, and saw that I was mortified - with a capitol M. I waved him off. Go away. Shoo. I said good bye to Liz and felt so, you know... excluded. He thought, assumed someone died. I continued shooing him away. But he pulled it out of me. He did. I didn't want to share it with him because I knew from his earlier reaction he was going to say, "Oh who gives it a shit, don't worry... it's only dinner."

"Fine, you wanna know. Amy didn't invite us to dinner, and she's having a party and..." and before I could finish, he interrupted, the kind of interruption with both hands up and the 'don't say another word' gesture: "Oh shit. I forgot to tell you, she called yesterday. I was supposed to tell you that she was doing a dinner tonight."

HOLLYE

Friendships amongst women can be a tricky thing. We feel too deeply, we care too much. Relationships with men can make us feel like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall half the time. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Early on, a marriage therapist said to Troy and I “Learn how to celebrate your differences.” We’ve held fast to that through the years as we count to ten and try to allow each other to be exactly who we are

And, as Paul Mc Cartney said, Venus and Mars are alright tonight…  

(and PS from AMY: Liz was also invited to the dinner, HER HUSBAND didn't give her the message!)   



Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Game



Yesterday I was having breakfast with my friend Stacy, and we delved into the deep end of conversation as we girls do. We were talking about being on the receiving end of charity, and what an awkward and difficult place that is to be. She has been there too, and we both agreed, it feels so much better to be the one giving. Oh how I pine for my chance to be the “Secret Millionaire”.  And yet, as I mentioned in my previous post, receiving is a blow to the ego but a gift to our souls. When I’m in my ego, I don’t need anyone’s help. Oh no…I am superwoman! I’m someone who ran nonprofits for ten years, helping others to get on their feet. But my soul is now allowing other people to be there for me, to support me, to love me. I am open and vulnerable. (Yikes!)

Then Stacy said something that really got me thinking.

“Thank God those people (who I adopted Stitch from) were so fucked up that they put you in this position, and now you get to have this amazing experience.”

Wow.

That ties in to a theory I have, which I shared with Stacy.  What if this whole thing called life is just The Game? Did you ever see that movie with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn?  If you haven’t - I HIGHLY recommend it. Here’s a synopsis: Michael Douglas is a money-grubbing heartless jerk of a guy, and his brother Sean Penn decides to help him “evolve”. Without Michael knowing it, Sean signs him up for this life- boot camp called The Game.

Soon Michael Douglas’ life is turned upside down by one trauma after the next. People are ransacking his house, he loses all his money, someone is trying to kill him…you name it. But it’s all a farce, being set up by this huge corporation called “The Game”, in an attempt to change him into a better man.

I was absolutely blown away by this film, and at the end I pondered…what if that’s all life is? What if these trials we go through are a game designed to push us toward our higher nature?

Imagine this: at the end as we arrive in afterlife, we see all the people who mentored us, guided us, and better yet, all the people who tortured us.
One by one they take their masks off and shake our hands.

“Hi. Remember me? I was your college professor who told you you’d never make it. Glad to see you did!”

“Nice to meet you. I was the boss who sexually harassed you so that you’d become a champion of women’s rights…”

And there are your parents, smiling, “We neglected you so that you’d grow up to be strong and independent! Gosh we’re proud of the job we did not raising you!”

Just imagine….

So back to Stacy’s comment, what a blessing it is that these “jerks” who abandoned and mistreated my dog have challenged me to see how much fight I’ve got, how I will stand up to injustice, and how much I can abandon my ego to let others support me.

I guess one day, in the hereafter, I’ll have to thank them.

But for now, the fight continues….

Can you think of people who’ve forced you into a “Game” you didn’t want to play, and did it make you a better person? I’d love to hear from you.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Lesson In Everything

Photo: Erin Doyle

Don’t you just love when you get lost in a great book, and it begins to transform you?  Right now I’m in the middle of reading, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by the amazing Elizabeth Lesser. In one chapter she tells a beautiful story about her good friend Ram Dass, who is a spiritual leader and the voice of a generation. Ram Dass spent his career teaching others to live with spirit and grace. Until he came to a critical turning point in his own life.

One night as he was answering the phone, this powerful man suddenly fell to the floor and found himself unable to move or speak. His friend on the phone was calling out to him. “Ram- Do you need help? Tap the phone once for yes, and twice for no.” Ram Dass tapped twice.

Most of us have a hard time accepting help, even when we desperately need it. Don’t I know it. All last year Troy and I faced numerous battles on our own, vowing that no matter what came we would withstand it. But with all the other crises the year brought, and after more than a year of this legal battle, we were unraveling. The financial burden was stressing us, but the emotional burden took the heavier toll. Troy often said he felt like there was a mountain of grief on us, and he was trying frantically to dig us out.

When I had the miscarriage in February, it was the last straw for me. I just couldn’t lift myself up anymore. The trial was two months away, but my fight was gone. Our money was gone. Our hope was gone. I called my attorney, ready to throw in the towel. I told her…if this guy’s intention was to break me down, he’s won. So what now? Show up at court and tell the judge I’ve got no attorney? What are they going to do, force me to give up my dog?  I won’t. Let them arrest me.

I really didn’t care any more.

She wisely advised me to take a few days to rest and think things over, and we’d continue our discussion later in the week.

In the meantime, my girlfriends called to offer support. They told me – don’t let it get you down. Just think of all the wonderful family and friends you have! You are surrounded with love! And I said, cynically, Yeah. I wish love could win this court case.

But then I thought about that. Wait a minute….I may be low in financial resources, but man oh man do I have a wealth of beautiful people in my life. I am RICH in love. What is it I’m always saying in my blogs…LOVE conquers HATE. LOVE conquers FEAR. Somehow I forgot. But my friends didn’t. They knew that LOVE could conquer this battle.

As hard as it was for me, and especially for my husband, I had to tap once on that phone. I needed help. And along came another lesson. The lesson of being vulnerable. The lesson of needing people. This is the ultimate “trust fall”, and not one person has let me touch the ground.

I had a friend say to me, “I could never do that…ask for help.” Neither could I. Honestly, it has been gut-wrenching to admit that I needed help. I’ve always been independant. I want to be the strong one who lifts others. But life has brought me to my knees, so here I am, humbled and grateful.

And that brings me back to the story of Ram Dass. He had a stroke that night that would forever change him. Ram Dass, the pillar of strength, would spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair. This brilliant man who spent forty years lecturing and teaching could now barely speak. It was an entirely new state of being for him.

When Elizabeth asked him what the experience was like, he called it “Fierce Grace.” He said,“Ego breaks open, then you see who you really are.”

I get it now. Fierce grace has been at work on my life, forcing my Ego to take the backseat. What I’ve discovered is that when Ego leaves, there is much more room for LOVE.

LOVE.
My favorite word.

And as I get back on my feet, remember this…
tap once if you need help.
I’ll be listening for you.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Help Us SAVE STITCH!

I realize there couldn’t be a worse time to have a mini-crisis, with all that is going on in the world. Nevertheless, here we are. For those of you who haven’t followed the story this past year, my husband and I are being sued for adopting an abandoned dog. Turns out the “abandoners” boyfriend changed his mind and now wants the dog back, or perhaps just sees this as a way to make money, since he’s suing us for theft and $25,000 in damages (supposed emotional distress). 

So far the process has dragged out over a year, with us paying thousands to defend ourselves in this frivolous lawsuit. Even though he has no legal claim to our dog Stitich, and no paperwork to prove the dog ever belonged to him, (the dog has been microchipped and licensed in our name since 2007) in California, he has the right to drag us through court. Through this experience, we have learned just how screwed up our justice system is. It is a travesty that tax payer dollars will be spent on this ridiculous case, not to mention all that we’ve spent personally, and will most likely never get back, even when we win.

This, on top of all the terrible luck we had in 2010, has financially drained us. So we are launching our SAVE STITCH website today, selling music, art, books, Dior products, High-end haircare products…100% of sales go to Stitch’s defense fund.

Stitch is a member of our family, and my little boy’s very best friend. Please visit our webstore, and help us SAVE STITCH!




If we are lucky enough to make more than we need to pay our defense team, we will happily donate to Japan relief efforts – a tragedy very dear to our hearts. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayer for Japan

Proof that miracles thrive in the presence of love

My heart is heavy with grief this morning as I watch the devastation in Japan unfold on television. I lived through the1994 earthquake in California. It registered 6.7 on the Richter scale, and I thought the world was ending. It was terrifying beyond belief. But to survive an 8.9, only to be wiped out by a Tsunami only 15 minutes later? I truly can not imagine the horror.

I had to break the news to my Japanese daughter-in-law last night. We watched the news together, sick to our stomachs, praying her friends and family would be safe through the night.

It’s times like these that rock my faith. Is there a patriarchal God up there who just had a temper tantrum,  decided he didn’t like his creation and knocked it over like a cranky child with a stack of blocks? I can’t buy into that.

I don’t know if there is a God “up there”, or somewhere in the atmosphere, but if God is love, then yes, I see God. Because with every disaster that happens in the world, as people are suffering, a miracle begins to emerge. The God in you, the God in me, awakens. We become united as humans. All around the world we connect through our prayers, empathy and our actions. We connect through Love.

We give, even when we don’t have. We rush toward the disaster, rather than look away. We reach out to absolute strangers. In those desperate moments we realize, we are all one.

This morning  President Obama announced our commitment to help Japan, saying "The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy." Sixty years ago Japan was our enemy. Today, our friendship is unshakable. I think of that every time I hold my half-Japanese grandson in my arms, and remember that my grandfather was a bomber in World War Two. Miracles occur in the wake of devastation.

Is there a reason for everything? I don’t know. But there is a reason for us now to rise to the very best in us. To help, to pray, to hold one another in grief, in loss.

So please join me this morning, and say a prayer for our brothers and sisters in Japan.

This too shall pass, and all will be well, for miracles thrive in the presence of love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Day After International Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s Day. I celebrated by surrounding myself with brilliant, strong courageous women who inspire me. From morning till night, I was in the company of estrogen-laced greatness. Yes I was giddy and uplifted by the love, encouragement, and beauty of these women. All day my facebook buddies were touting  how happy and PROUD they were to be women. Yay for us! I got caught up in it. As my friend Barb said- it was intoxicating.

And then comes the morning after, also known as… the hangover. And with it, the sober thoughts.

Yes, I love being a woman. Sometimes. And sometimes it just plain sucks.
How could I say such a thing? Because although I believe in the power of positive thinking,  I don’t want to be in denial about the hard truths. If we don’t acknowledge them, we can not change them.

So here is my list of womanly things that SUCK:

It sucks ….

That a week after having a miscarriage I had to read about this asshat in Georgia who’s trying to pass a bill that could criminalize miscarriage. (I’m on a post-pregnancy hormonal rollercoaster right now -just try to prosecute me. I dare ya.)

That we are still fighting for control over our own reproductive rights.

That I’ve had to look over my shoulder all my life walking to my car or getting in an elevator because one in six US women are rape victims.

That my daughter has to carry pepper spray.

That women in so many parts of the world aren’t free, don’t have rights, are chased by the virtue police, have to wear burqas, are stoned to death for minor infractions that men get away with every day.

That one in four women are victims of domestic violence


Oh yeah….and since I’m feeling cranky, these things suck too:

that women are expected to be eternally thin and eternally young

that we have to wear bras and high heels. Those suckers are uncomfortable!

That we have to suffer through a good forty years of menstruating, cramping, headaches, bloating….and then at the end, you get….ta-da MENOPAUSE!

That we get yeast infections, and bladder infections, and all the other infections exclusively our own, plus all the woman-specific cancers for which research is under-funded.

Okay so I’m ranting. I’ll stop.

My husband has seen me through some tough stuff, most recently this miscarriage. He always says to me “You women have it so hard, I wish I could take some of the burden off you.”

I wish it too. But I wouldn’t wish any of this burden on him, he’s too sweet. I’d like to see other men take the burden. Like Mel Gibson. Or the asshat in Georgia. Or John Boehner. You think you’re crying now, Boehner? Try being a woman for a day!

I’m just saying it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We have to be better, fight harder, strive more than our counterparts. Here in the US, opportunity abounds and I can pursue any dream I want, but I’m still looking over my shoulder every time a new bill threatens my freedoms, every time a stranger walks behind me, every time I turn on the news and hear yet another report of a missing woman who happens to have a really suspicious creepy boyfriend, and I can never forget that women around the world are still oppressed.

Ever since Eve took the rap in Genesis, on some level we’ve been cowering, apologizing for our gender. We bought the lie, and forgot who we really are. I mean…think about it. We CREATE LIFE in our wombs! We are capable of connecting with others at deep soul levels. Our intuition is astounding. But in many ways we are still in that victim role. We haven’t yet stepped into our power, or as my friend Amy says, awakened to our greatness.

So yes, let’s celebrate, but not because the struggle is over. Let’s celebrate all that is good, the progress we’ve made, and the road ahead that we have yet to walk together. Let's celebrate awakening to our greatness.

I am proud to be a woman, proud of all we’ve come through and survived, proud to carry the suffragette spirit in my veins, proud of all the women I am honored to call my friends. And I will be proud to continue to stand up for women, everywhere, until we are equal, free, and safe all around the world.

Happy Hangover Day. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken Little Bought A Billboard









Have you seen the billboards? The world is ending on May 21st, 2011. Seems the Mayans and Ashton Kutcher got it wrong. We have even less time than we thought to clean our closets, do our taxes, lose ten pounds ( I mean you want to look good for the Rapture)…oh yeah, and get that whole salvation thing happening. The billboards do offer this advice: Cry mightily unto God for His mercy, and while you’re at it…tune into FamilyRadio.com.

Seriously?

That is the most overused trick in the book these days…manipulate people through fear to boost ratings. WWJD? Your ass better HOPE he’s not really coming in May cause ooooowweeee, he’s gonna be pissed at you, Family Radio. If you think he got mad flipping over the tables in that marketplace, just wait till he gets wind of your scam.

Over 1,000 of these offensive billboards have gone up worldwide. Can you imagine the financial backing for this madness? 120 of them are in L.A., you know, where the heathens hang out. 

Turns out the character behind “family” radio is eighty-nine-year old Harold Camping, who, apparently, has a direct line to the big Guy. He previously wrote a book stating that the world would end Sept 6, 1994. Hmmm... I'm imagining the celestial phone call. Uh, yeah Harold? Listen, somethings come up. I'm gonna have to reschedule. I mean, really. How many times do you expect people to fall for this, Chicken Little? This end of the world stuff has been going on since the beginning of time, and I’m not buyin’ it. (See my previous blog: http://hollyedexter.blogspot.com/2010/12/end-is-nearagain.html )

Look, I’m all for free speech, but there have got to be limits.
It’s illegal to shout “fire” in a theatre, to crack bomb jokes in an airport, and to make death threats, so why is it legal to pump people full of false fear, to say on a billboard: You’re all gonna die in two months? And while we’re at it, why is it legal for politicians and journalists to knowingly lie to the public (Death panels, anyone) ? And why is it legal to spread nutball government conspiracy theories on television and call it journalism? Limits. I’m telling you.

Children are reading these billboards. My five year old reads, okay? If television limits what children are exposed to, then why not the same for billboards, and  the Westboro Baptist Church holding signs on the street that say “God Hates Fags”?  Don’t get me started on those guys.  First of all, I take offense to them calling themselves “Baptist”. My father is a Baptist preacher, and my two gay brothers are welcomed with open arms in his church. I know Baptists, WBC, and you sirs, are no Baptists.

When confronted with the notion that this might be a cheap publicity stunt, Family Radio spokesman Tom Evans replied, "What good would that do? If May 22nd comes (and Christ has not returned), we're just going to look like a bunch of idiots."
Well, thank you Mr. Evans for taking the words right out of my mouth.


( More info on this story in the L.A. Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_17485179)