Happy Saturday! I received this story the week of Thanksgiving 2016 and found it to be one that stuck with me and wanted to share it. I hope you find it useful.
The Old Woman
From Michael Meade’s Why The World Doesn’t End
The old people of the tribes would tell of a special cave where knowledge of the wonders and workings of the world could be found. Even now, some of the native people say that the cave of knowledge exists and might be discovered again. They say it is tucked away in the side of a mountain. “Not too far to go,” they say, yet no one seems to find it anymore. Despite all the highways and byways, all the thoroughfares and back roads that crosscut the face of the earth, despite all the maps that detail and try to define each area, no one seems to find that old cave. That’s too bad, they say, because inside the cave can be found genuine knowledge about how to act when the dark times come around again and the balance of the world tips away from order and slips towards chaos.
Inside the cave, there lives an old woman who remains unaffected by the rush of time and the confusion and strife of daily life. She attends to other things; she has a longer sense of time and a deep capacity for vision. She spends most of her time weaving in the cave where light and shadows play. She wants to fashion the most beautiful garment in the whole world. She has been at this weaving project for a long time and has reached the point of making a fringe for the edge of her exquisitely designed cloak.
She wants that fringe to be special; wants it to be meaningful as well as elegant, so she weaves it with porcupine quills. She likes the idea of using something that could poke you as an element of beauty; she likes turning things around and seeing life from odd angles. In order to use the porcupine quills, she must flatten each one with her teeth. After years of biting hard on the quills, her teeth have become worn down to nubs that barely rise above her gums. Still, the old woman keeps biting down and she keeps weaving on.
The only time she interrupts her weaving work is when she goes to stir the soup that simmers in a great cauldron at the back of the cave. The old cauldron hangs over a fire that began a long time ago. The old woman cannot recall anything older than that fire; it just might be the oldest thing there is in this world. Occasionally, she does recall that she must stir the soup that simmers over those flames. For that simmering stew contains all the seeds and roots th.at become the grains and plants and herbs that sprout up all over the surface of the earth. If the old woman fails to stir the ancient stew once in a while, the fire will scorch the ingredients and there is no telling what troubles might result from that.
So the old woman divides her efforts between weaving the exquisite cloak and stirring the elemental soup. In a sense, she is responsible for weaving things together as well as for stirring everything up. She senses when the time has come to let the weaving go and stir things up again. Then, she leaves the weaving on the floor of the cave and turns to the task of stirring the soup. Because she is old and tired from her labors and because of relentless passage of time, she moves slowly and it takes a while for her to amble over to the cauldron.
As the old woman shuffles across the floor and makes her way to the of the ancient cave, a black dog watches her every move. The dog was there all along. Seemingly asleep, it awakens as soon as the old weaver turns her attention from one task to the other. As she begins stirring the soup in order to sustain the seeds, the black dog moves to where the weaving lies on the floor of the cave. The dog picks up a loose thread with its teeth and begins pulling on it. As the black dog pulls on the loose thread, the beautiful garment begins to unravel. Since each thread has been woven to another, pulling upon one begins to undo them all. As the great stew is being stirred up, the elegant garment comes apart and becomes a chaotic mess on the floor.
When the old woman returns to take up her handiwork again, she finds nothing but chaos where there had been a garment of great elegance and beauty. The cloak she has woven with such care has been pulled apart, the fringe all undone; the effort of creation has been turned to naught. The old woman sits and looks silently upon the remnants of her once beautiful design. She ignores the presence of the black dog as she stares intently at the tangle of undone threads and distorted patterns.
After a while, she bends down, picks up a loose thread, and begins to weave the whole thing again. As she pulls thread after thread from the chaotic mess, she begins again to imagine the most beautiful garment in the whole world. As she weaves, new visions and elegant designs appear before her and her old hands begin to knowingly give them vibrant shape. Soon she has forgotten the cloak she was weaving before as she concentrates on capturing the new design and weaving it into the most beautiful garment ever seen in the world.
The excerpt continues here – http://www.boyceco.com/ceremony/TheOldWoman.pdf
On LinkedIn, this week, a woman posed this question to a group of other women:
Why do women let fear drive them into staying with a job they hate instead of starting that business that they love?
With 399 comments, at least 50% were filled with the response about fear or they commented and fear was in their answer. Some felt it wasn’t fear but the security of letting go of the job and low self-esteem. Most of the women responding were in the 40 and older category, who seemed to be offering wisdom on the why with less excuses or reasons than others under 40.
I believe it comes down to self-doubt and security. Too often we are the only ones blocking ourselves from transitioning to a better place. When you are able to step out of your own way and quit holding yourself back, it is then that you truly have a breakthrough!
The point that made me most engaged and a bit pissed were the one’s that wanted to use “being a single mother” as why they can not start their own business. And I don’t agree that this is the reason, as I live in this world and I am an entrepreneur, but may be a challenge you face. Money can be a challenge in any business, whether you work or someone or own it. Family will always be a balancing act, whether you work for someone else or your self. But it you keep telling yourself that being a single mother accounts for having less than you deserve, I feel you do such a dis-service to yourself and others who are single mothers.
But what I do realize after 24 years in business, everyone isn’t meant to be an owner, and that is not a gender issue. Just have passion for whatever you are doing, that brings happiness and ultimately JOY!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Eric Maisel in January and he was and is amazing! Hearing him say that 99% of the people he coaches are not leading meaningful careers, let alone lives – I believe that go hand in hand with most – was a lot to process and saddening. He said to me that it’s hard to process, when someone like yourself, is. So when I found this article, I wanted to share it. It’s from someone who took his creativity course, Dr. Katharine Brooks.
Here are 3 of the 10 questions that stood out to me…the rest can be read here.
1. If I am not doing the work I’m intending to do, why am I not doing it?
This first questions hones in on the need for reflection. Why are you in the career you are in? Is it what you wanted or hoped for? If not, what would you prefer to do? Dr. Maisel would encourage you to face the anxiety that this question might produce.
6. Am I doing my own creating?
Whose career are you in? The one you selected or the one that was selected for you? Your college major, decision to go to law school, or going into the family business may have all been your idea—or perhaps you were influenced by someone else. It’s time to take a look at this. Go back to question #1—if your career isn’t working for you, maybe it’s because the reason you went into it isn’t valid for you anymore. Or maybe your career choice is fine, but you’re not doing enough for yourself. You might have taken a job in journalism because you love to write, but now you’re only writing what others want you to write. When/how do you find time to write for yourself?
8. What action will I engage in today in support of my creative life?
This question is fundamental. You can think about your job search or career change all you want. What are you going to do about it? What action (one small step) will you take today that might move you one step forward in the process?
Here’s to a meaningful life!
I find myself celebrating or maybe just paying more attention to Women History Month. Why? I recognize more that the ability to be bold, stand confident and fearless, isn’t easy but required. The more you are in your head, the harder these words become, to act upon when you are on the right path. So I have to meditate more preparing myself to get up with these words in mind.
I found this video on Twitter that I know is worth sharing that talks on this…Women On Top