MALLY GOES TO BUSINESS SCHOOL

ep. 3: power 


It has been a difficult week.

For those readers who are feeling triggered by the Kavanaugh hearings, I suggest that you do not read any further.

I also highly recommend reaching out for support.  If you aren’t sure where to look for support, you can always call RAINN (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization): 800-656-HOPE (4673).

How do I reflect on the magnitude of what transpired this week?  How do I wrap words around the exhaustion, the rage, the fear, the shame and the isolation?  To be honest, I don’t really know.  I feel drawn, as many people have this week, to speak out about my personal experiences with abuse and harassment.  I know that I am not alone, every single female-identifying friend of mine has experienced some form of sexual harassment or abuse. 

Every. Single. One. 

In my life, much of the harassment I’ve experienced has been fleeting… an unpleasant comment from a passerby, a sexist message from some anonymous dude on a dating app, a gross one-liner from a guy at a bar.  Then there are the times when it has gone further than that… the camp counselor who inappropriately and unendingly praised me when I was 12 years old, the family friend who wanted to “comfort” me when I was going through a difficult time, the ex-boyfriend who convinced me that I was sexually rigid, and that it was my fault that he chose to pay for sex.   

A couple of years ago, I had a stalker who over the course of two years, left me a number of abusive, hateful and violent facebook messages, emails, texts and voicemails.  Once, while walking home along my usual route, I passed by him.  He turned around and started to follow me.  When I started running, so did he.  I wound up running in to a bar where I knew I’d be safe.  He stood outside, pacing back and forth in front of the entrance for about 15 minutes before leaving.  The next time I saw him, he cornered me in the grocery store.  He called me some hateful things.  I yelled at him to leave me alone, ducked under his arm, and ran outside.

Rage… how dare this man try to take away my power, my joy - how dare he make me question my independence!
Fear… what if next time is worse? what if he finds me at work or comes to my home?
Shame… this must be my fault? what did I do to bring this on?
Isolation…
I can’t tell anyone, they’ll all think it’s my fault. there’s nothing I can do about it, I am completely alone.

I called the police after the very first incident.  The officer I spoke with told me that the abusive emails and the fact that he (somehow) found my cellphone number and work information, wasn’t enough to file a report.  But… “if anything more happens, honey, just give us a call!”

So apparently I’m just supposed to wait until he attacks me or rapes me and then the police will do something about it.  Great. 

After the second major incident (another barrage of violent messages), I didn’t do anything.  What was the point in telling anyone when nothing was going to happen anyway? At this time, I had only confided in a few very close female friends about what had happened.

It was only after he followed me on the street that I told my mom.  I’ll never forget how afraid I was before that conversation.  I am incredibly fortunate to have an amazing relationship with my mother – I have always talked to her about everything.  But somehow, this man and his actions drove a wedge of insecurity and doubt between us.  I was afraid so she would blame me, I was afraid that by telling her it would somehow make it more real, I was afraid to admit that I was afraid.

In the end, my mom’s response was incredible; she was supportive, understanding, angry for me, and ready to stand by me in however I wanted to proceed.  After speaking with my dad, the three of us went down to my local police station to file a report.

I filed a report with a white male officer.  He told me that I should have been filing reports after every incident, because you need three or more incidents recorded on file in order to warrant further any protective legal action. … (insert long pause dramatic eyeroll)

When I asked him what I could do in the meantime to keep myself safe, he suggested I carry pepper spray in my purse. … Thanks for that, officer.

Then came the grocery store incident.  I returned to the police station to file another report… two out of the necessary three before I could take actual legal action.  While speaking with a different white male officer, we were interrupted by a black female detective who had overheard my description of the perpetrator.  This incredible woman stepped in and took over.  It turned out that she was in charge of an ongoing investigation of multiple incidents reported about this same man. 

Her words to me: “If these officers had been doing their job, they would’ve listened to your initial report, realized it was the same man I was investigating, and sent you to me.  We could’ve had him in court after the first incident.”  

And so, with the guidance of this powerful detective (an absolute super hero in my eyes), I went to court.  I filed for a restraining order.  I stood in front of a judge, and 30+ strangers and recounted the entire story.  I was told that I had to say the exact words the man and written or spoken to me.  So I stood alone, in front of a room full of complete strangers and explained how this man had called me things I can’t even bring myself to write here because the words are so violent.   

I finished my testimony.  With great emotional and mental effort, I remained composed.  I clasped my hands tightly together and waited for the judge to determine whether or not I was allowed to move forward with the restraining order.  

He decided that I was not.

His words to me: “You haven’t experienced enough physical or emotional damage to warrant moving forward with a restraining order.”  And when I asked him for a suggestion for what I could to protect myself, he said “I’m not allowed to give you any advice.” 

Rage.
Fear.
Shame.
Isolation.

I will never forget what that judge said to me. I will never forget the hollow shame I felt as I stood there, knuckles white, and vision cloudy.  I will never forget the looks of compassion and empathy on the faces of the women logging my testimony.  I know they saw my pain.  I know they felt my fear and embarrassment and anger. 

I went back to the court three more times until I was finally granted the restraining order.  I then had to return for a hearing at which the perpetrator would be present.  But, come the hearing, he didn’t show.  So I had to come back for another hearing… and another… and another… I went back four times. 

My harasser never showed up.  But I did.

Each time I returned to that courthouse, I had to restate my testimony; I had to relive every single detail of my interactions with this man in front of a new judge and a new group of strangers. 

It was exhausting.  And it never got any easier. 

Finally, the restraining order went through and that was that.  It was over.

Except that it wasn’t.  It is never over.  Those experiences are inside me, they are woven into the fabric of my being; they are a part of me now.  And though I’ve healed and grown and learned so much about myself since then, none of that changes the fact that every time I return the neighborhood where those frightening encounters took place, my heart starts to race.  I still carry pepper spray in my purse.  I jump when someone catches me off guard in the grocery store.  I look over my shoulder whenever I pass someone on the street at night to make sure they’re not following me.

I am incredibly fortunate.  My experience of abuse never crossed the physical line.  I was not attacked or raped; I was not touched or taken advantage of.  I cannot imagine what it is like live with that kind of experience written into the pages of your life.  To those of you who have experienced abuse like that, I believe you.  You are not to blame.  I encourage you to reach out for support from a friend, a family member, a therapist, a counselor or an anonymous help-line like the one mentioned at the beginning of my post.  What you’re feeling is valid.  And you are not alone.

I am in complete awe of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  I am inspired by her courage, her strength, her vulnerability, her self-awareness… and really, aren’t those all facets of the same multi-layered quality? … POWER.  She is powerful.

Courage is power
Strength is power
Vulnerability is power
Self-awareness is power     

Anita Hill is powerful.  The women who confronted Senator Flake are powerful.  The protesters are powerful.  The people who came before us who fought against sexual-violence are powerful. The individuals and organizations who spend their energy, time and money quietly and often thanklessly fighting back against hate are powerful.

The collective power of the resistance reached a new level this week.

I can’t wait to send in my absentee ballot.

MALLY GOES TO BUSINESS SCHOOL

episode 2: first impressions are for chumps


How is it possible that it has only been one week? 

I think god/the universe/science/mother nature/whateverthefuckisoutthere/all of the above is playing a massive trick on all of us. Linear time isn’t real. Time is actually a crazy spiral made up of impossibly different building blocks, each one unique in size, shape, color, and most importantly, the way in which it interacts with and effects space, time and the human experience of said phenomena.

This week has felt like an eternity.

I sat through 26 hours of lectures over five days. TWENTY. SIX. HOURS. That is a very long time to be sitting down absorbing new information. To top it all off, I got my period mid week. Those of you readers that have experienced menstruation know first hand just how AWFUL that time of the month can be.  Don’t get me wrong, it can also be a beautiful empowering regulating grounding time… and it can also be awful

Picture this: anxiety/insecurity on irrational steroids + lack of sleep because of cramps/I never really sleep when I have my period + body aches that make me want to assume the fetal position at all times + zits + hormone related eczema flare up + insatiable hunger + fucking Brett Kavanaugh + 26 hours of lectures.

I was dead to the world come Friday at 2pm. 

BUT! Even amidst all of that madness…

I ACTUALLY REALLY ENJOYED MY FIRST WEEK OF BUSINESS SCHOOL! GASP!

[Insert all the surprise face emojis ever]

I went into the week like a fiery knotted ball of anxiety and insecurity [I don’t belong here, I’m too old, I’m not smart enough, this was a terrible idea, I will fail], with a whole bunch of insecurity-inspired preconceived notions as to what business school and my fellow business school attendees would be like [straight-laced, boring, soulless, money-obsessed ickiness]. But the reality was very different!

… I actually really enjoyed the lectures [and even felt kind of prepared at times!]

… I was intrigued and inspired by the subject matter [you know that creative domino effect thing, when one idea sparks another and another and another?! yea, I got that!]

… I genuinely connected with my classmates [they’re all so different and smart and inspiring and curious and want to do good in the world! they’re amazing and I can already tell that I’m going to learn so much from them!]

There were three particularly big surprises this week:

1.     We did a team building exercise at the army barracks near the city, and the officer in charge of our day actually said these words: “I want you to notice how you feel during the day, pay attention to your body language and how you’re acting in your team, and then be curious about what you’re noticing” …. Um, sir. Did you steal my meditation and yoga scripts?!?  Heck yes! Mindfulness in business school!!

2.     The professor of our Introduction to Accounting for Entrepreneurs intensive somehow defied all odds and wove CREATIVITY AND ART into bookkeeping. He made accounting fun! [I can’t believe I just said that] [Also, my dad always tells me that I should marry an accountant… I’m starting to think he may be on to something]

3.    After the first day of lectures, I quickly realized that I am not 18 years old anymore and I absolutely cannot sit in shitty school chairs for more than 30 minutes without getting insanely sore.  So on Tuesday, I brought Peabody [my bright green meditation cushion/exercise ball] with me to class… gotta have that lower back support!  I was feeling rather self-conscious about the ridiculousness of bringing a bright green squishy ball to a lecture, but Peabody and I were welcomed with open arms, and I actually found that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling with aches and pains after sitting for so long!

 So really, I guess business school ain’t so bad after all.

Is it going to be challenging? … Yep.
Will I get bored and annoyed and tired of it all sometimes? … Uh huh.
Will I be googling business lingo from now until the moment I hand in my dissertation? … You know it!

AND, I think it’s gonna be fun :)

Oh, and there was a double rainbow the other day…

If that’s not a sign from god/the universe/science/mother nature/whateverthefuckisoutthere/all of the above, I don’t know what is!

Mally Goes to Business School

episode 1: a tethered bumblebee

On the eve of my first day as a postgraduate student of business, I find myself divided. 

I’m like a frantic pendulum.  Not one of those beautifully sleek metal situations you find at The Sharper Image, gracefully swaying from one side to another… but rather, like a bumblebee tethered to a stone. 

Buzz buzz buzz

            I am a strong, capable 32-year-old woman who has her shit together.  I got this.

Bumble bumble bumble

            I have no idea what I am doing and everyone around me knows it.

Buzz buzz buzz

            My age, creativity and alternative background is my greatest strength.

Bumble bumble bumble

            I’m an old fart who is completely out of her league.

For those of you who don’t know me [and just to be clear, I am well aware that 99.99% of you reading this are my parents] my name is Mally.  I am a songwriter, a yoga and meditation teacher, an aspiring herbalist, a feminist, and a believer in magic, serendipity, love, and the incredible power of kindness.  I am also a white middle-class woman from Massachusetts.  In my 32 years of living so far, I have had the incredible privilege of highly specialized, creative education.  From majoring in dance and psychology in my undergraduate studies, to living in a tiny caravan on an island off the southwest coast of Scotland learning about plant medicine, I have always followed my heart and my passion.  To top it all off, I am blessed with a remarkably supportive family who, despite my left-of-center career path and sometimes questionable/risky (at least at first glance) life choices, never cease to believe in me.

So how did I end up in business school? 

Good question.  

Last year, I fell deeply in love with Scotland – the land, the music, the people… even the weather!  No matter how hard I tried to redirect it, my compass was unshakably pointing towards the land of thistle and heather

In order to live in Scotland, I needed a visa. 

Ways to get a visa:

1.     Get hired/sponsored by a fancy business that would commit to paying me a salary of at least $40,000 [now remember, I’m a yoga teacher… I challenge you, dear reader, to find a company that will hire a yoga teacher at that salary]

2.     Marry a Scottish person [romantically quite appealing… but even had this been a possibility, the paperwork and hoop jumping required are a major bummer]

3.     Get accepted to an accredited university [ding ding ding! we have a winner!]  

I had been thinking about going back to school for a few years… mostly, I fantasized about studying some form of holistic medicine.  I even thought [quite seriously actually] about going to Divinity School.  But in the end, I wound up enrolling in a postgraduate degree in business. 

Mally, the free-spirit adventure-seeking nature-loving flower-child, is now a student of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Edinburgh [UoE].  Yipes.   

To be fair, the business route wasn’t completely out-of-nowhere.  Over the past six years, I built my own freelance yoga business and also helped to open and run a handful of successful juice bars in the Boston area.  And more recently, I have begun to envision a future business venture that combines my passion for holistic medicine, my desire to empower women/women-identifying individuals, and my dream to build bridges between alternative medicine and western medicine… So sure, business made sense!  With the program at UoE, I can gain the foundational tools necessary to take my vision and make it real, while also satisfying my soul-shaking desire to live in Scotland. 

It’s a win win!  A no-brainer!  I got this.

Cut to today:  

I am a sweaty, anxious mess.

The eczema on my hands has decided to rear is ugly, itchy, fiery head… Which probably has something to do with the anxiety… and maybe the sweat too, ha… sigh.

I spent the morning in the library pouring over week 1 lecture slides, googling “equity in business,” “pro-forma,” “copex/opex” and “liquid assets,” reacquainting myself with the Dewey Decimal System, and printing out articles with titles like “Preparing Financial Projections for Entrepreneurial Firms,” “A Structural Approach to Assessing Innovation,” and “The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can Be More Dishonest”… the latter being particularly terrifying/disheartening/oh shit, what the fuck have I gotten myself into.

I spent the afternoon in the university bookstore, pressing my face to the proverbial glass wall dividing the rainbow colored Poetry, Gender Studies, Gaelic Culture and Music sections from the dull grey of Business and Finance.  

… Deep breaths.

I think that at the heart of my anxiety is fear.

Fear that I made a mistake; fear that I am in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing; fear that I will look stupid and make a fool of myself; fear that I wont be good at it; fear that I will fail.

I am afraid that I will fail. 

Yep, that’s the one.   

Plain and simple.

Exhale. Just saying that “outloud” helps. It helps a lot, actually. 

I think that’s why I want to start blogging again… I want to offer myself a safe space to get out all the crazy tethered bumblebee madness going on in my brain; a place where I can step away from business and academia and just be creative and honest.

So, here I go!  Blogging again!  I have no idea how often I’ll be able to post once the semester gets going… I’m giving myself zero guidelines or expectations. Except that I promise to include some photographs and fun non-wordy things in the future.  But other than that, I’ll post when I post.  No more, and no less.

Tomorrow, Mally goes to Business School…. wish me luck!

Blessing #52: At the End of the Day - A Mirror of Questions

"What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt
without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice
in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today
that might endure?
How were my conversations?

What did I do today
for the poor
and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk
of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom did I feel most myself?
What reached me today?
How did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I 
from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence - 
why was I given this day?"

Blessing #51: A Blessing Upon Waking

"I give thanks for arriving
Safely in a dew dawn,
For the gift of eyes
To see the world,
The gift of mind
To feel at home
In my life.

The waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger,
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring."

Blessing #50: Meditation on Transformation

"Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation.  When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy.  When we choose indifference, we betray our world.  Yet the world is not decided by action alone.  It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior.  The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force.  And it comprises the mentality and spirit of all individuals together.  Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. 

Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on.  When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it.  When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become na active force of renewal and encouragement in the world.  In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can become a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.  There is a huge force field that opens when intention focuses and directs itself towards transformation."

Blessing #49: Vespers: A Nighttime Blessing

"As light departs to let the earth
be one with night,
Silence deepens in the mind,
and thoughts grow slow;
The basket of twilight
brims over with colors
Gathered from within
the secret meados of the day
And offered like blessings
to the gathering Tenebrae.

After the day's frenzy, may the heart grow still,
Gracious in thought of all the day brought,
Surprises that daw could never have dreamed:
The blue silence that came to still the mind,
The quiver of mystery at the edge of a glimpse
The golden echoes of teh worlds behind voices.

Tense faces unable to hide what gripped the heart,
The abrupt cut of a glance or a word that hurt,
The flame of longing that distance darkened,
Bouquets of memory gathered on the heart's alter,
The thorns of absence in the rose of dream.

And the whole while the unknown underworld
Of the mind, turning slowly, in its secret orbit.
May the blessing of sleep bring refreshment and release
And the Angle of the Moon call the river of dream
To soften the hardened earth of the outside life,
Disentangle from the trapped nets the hurt and sorrow,
And awaken the young soul for the new tomorrow."

Blessing #48: A Blessing for Broken Trust

"Sometimes there is
an invisible raven
That will fly low
to pierce the shell of trust
When it has been brought
near to ground.

When he strikes,
he breaks the faith of years
That had built quietly
through the seasons
In the rhythm of
tried and tested experience.

With one strike, the shelter is down
And the black yoke of truth turned false
Would poison the garden of memory.

Now the heart's dream turns to requiem,
Offering itself a poultice of tears
To cleanse from loss what cannot be lost.

Through all the raw and awkward days,
Dignitiy will hold the heart to grace
Lest it squander its dream on a ghost.

Often torn ground is ideal for seed
That can root disappointment deep enough
To yield a harvest that cannot wither:

A deeper light to anoint the eyes,
Passion that opens wings in the heart,
A subtle radiance of countenance:
The soul is ready for its true other."

Blessing #47: A Blessing After A Destructive Encounter

"Now that you have entered
with an open heart
Into a complex and fragile situation,
Hoping with patience and respect
To tread softly over sore ground in order
That somewhere
beneath the raw estrangement
Some fresh spring of healing
might be coaxed
To release the grace for a new journey
Beyond repetition and judgment,
And have acheived nothing of that,
But emerged helpless,
and with added hurt...

Withdraw for a while into your own tranquility,
Loosen from you heart the new fester.
Free yourself of teh wounded gaze
That is not yet able to see you.
Recognize your responsibility for the past.
Don't allow your sense of yourself to wilt.
Draw deep from your own dignity.
Temper your expectation to the other's limits,
And take your time carefully,
Learning that there is a time for everything
And for healing too,
But that now is not that time ...yet."

Blessing #46: A Blessing for Someone Who Did You Wrong

"Though its way is to strike
In a dumb rhythm,
Stroke upon stroke,
As though the heart
Were an anvil, the hurt you sent
Had a mind of its own. 

Something in you knew
Exactly how to shape it, to hit the target,
Slipping into the heart
Through some wound-window
Left open since childhood.

While it struck outside,
It burrowed inside,
Made tunnels through
Every ground of confidence.
For days, it would lie still
Until a thought would start it. 

Meanwhile, you forgot,
Went on with things
And never even knew 
How that perfect
Shape of hurt
Still continued to work.

Now a new kindness
Seems to have entered time
And I can see how that hurt
Has schooled my heart
In a compassion I would
Otherwise have never learned.

Somehow now
I have begun to glimpse
The unexpected fruit
Your dark gift had planted
And I thank you
For your unknown work." 

Blessing #45: A Blessing for Lost Friends

 "As twilight makes a rainbow rob
From the concealed colors of day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of the night,
May we lose no one we love
From the shelter of our hearts.

When we love another heart
And allow it to love us,
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels. 

May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
That whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench.

Though a door may have
Closed between us, 
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inerit,

Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;
Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to 
Celebrate the gifts they brought, 
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space."

Blessing #44: A Blessing on the Death of a the Beloved

 "Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives, 
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of color. 

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything. 

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the alter of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief, 
Your spirt was alive, awake, complete. 

We look toward each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath, 
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement. 

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we sould grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones. 

May you continue to inspire us: 

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again."