Monthly Archives: April 2013

Feel Powerful, Think Better: Studies Referenced In The Brilliant Report « Annie Murphy Paul


See on Scoop.itVasilissa: Connecting to Intuition & Standing in Power

Jacqueline Freeman‘s insight:

Gave a presentation this weekend on doing "Power Poses" before a high-stakes moment like an interview or presentation as a way to use the body to help you boost confidence and performance.

See on

“On the horizons and in themselves”


Found this post from June 2010… these days, I’m asking where I plant bombs in my own marathon-  then, I was looking for the gash in my soul that poured toxicity into my ocean


There’s a verse in the Qur’an that speaks to the connection of all things and the expectation that we’re to examine those connections to bring our development forward: “and they shall see the signs on the horizons and in themselves”

As I watch the oil gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and become increasingly frustrated at what seems to be a criminal lack of action following a criminal act of negligence, the feelings of anger and powerlessness and anger at my powerlessness work themselves into a full frenzy.

Deep within, my own Pele screams for accountability, and though I hear the chorus calling for accountability growing all around me, the call seems to be falling on deaf ears. Is it possible to be a lone chorus in the desert wailing about a gushing gash in the sea?

I feel the tension in my body. As if a hand has entered the back door of my heart and bears down. My jaw is tight. Anger stiffens the muscles up my neck and into my head. My brow is twisted. Feelings of anger, frustration, powerlessness bubble up from the deepest part of me and sour into fury. I want asses kicked. I want heads to roll. I want Justice.

I want Vengence.

Every picture of an oil-soaked bird, every report of what the toxins are doing to the wildlife, every thought of those whose livelihood is ruined are a pump that hauls this inky sticky dark murderously coating flammable toxin to the surface, knocking through my stomach, tearing through my throat, scouring over my teeth growling on my tongue…

There is a gash in the floor of my soul’s sea- the rage seems endless. It pours forth at astonishing rates and shows no sign of stopping~

Taken aback at the realization of the oil spilling forth within me, I stop and feel. I watch and listen.

Its just like when…
yes. of course.
The memory-feelings of injustices past are flooding through me. The fudged safety inspections, the bad deals, the ways my self-respect was bargained down for a short-term gain (or fear of a short-term loss)
yes, they too never faced accountability. They too ran and spun and lied when confronted-

but that’s not where the gash is- that’s not the source of this rage, of this anger…

No. Its how I didn’t hold them accountable. Its how I confronted, but didn’t require responsibility. Its how I did not take steps to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and thus let it happen again. This gushing gash that bleeds toxins into the sea of Grace inside of me- it was caused by my own lack of accountability.


I’ve devoted much thought lately to the differences between shame and guilt,
how they work inside of me, and how they obstruct or facilitate forgiveness,
and thus affect Change.

Guilt is incident-specific. I screwed-up. I can make amends. I can change what needs to be changed so that it doesn’t happen again (or at least an arc of improvement is begun). Guilt is a trouble-shooting system that finds a problem, then finds a solution. There is no attack on my foundation, my character. Shit happens. Guilt lets me know that it just did so I can get the clean-up crew on it.

Shame builds a case against me. I didn’t just screw up. I AM a Screw-Up. Immutably so; and here’s the laundry list of crimes to prove it. Shame is a judgment against who and what I am at the core. It is a track that leads to despair, for there is little that can be done. The clean up crew is left helpless- this is a spot that won’t scrub out.

As the stench from the fumes pulsing from the gash inside me waft up, I recognize that Shame will stretch the the breach farther open- whether that shame is directed inwardly or outwardly. I see how shame blocks me from being able to forgive. From being able to let go. Shame grips me by the neck and holds my face down- suffocating me, rendering all my movements impotent. It dredges up on my shores, it weighs down my cranes so they cannot fly, it suffocates the marine life within me, polluting my water thoroughly.

Responsibility and Accountability liberate me. They pull me out of the blame game that keeps my face so close to the dung pile. They are my path to the surface, my lungs full of fresh, clean, air. This shift has plugged the leak inside of me. The torrent has ceased, and there is only the rocking motion of the moon-pulled tide. As I roll up my sleeves to clean up the mess this Shame-Spill has unleashed in my internal ocean, I am relieved. Grateful.

“For evil in the world is nothing other than evil from our hearts that’s been let out”, Yann Martel writes in Life of Pi, and now I know where to look inside of myself to make sure I’m not contributing to this natural disaster.

Feel Powerful, Think Better: Studies Referenced In The Brilliant Report « Annie Murphy Paul


See on Scoop.itVasilissa: Connecting to Intuition & Standing in Power

Jacqueline Freeman‘s insight:

Gave a presentation this weekend on doing "Power Poses" before a high-stakes moment like an interview or presentation as a way to use the body to help you boost confidence and performance.

See on

Baba Yaga’s House | The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright | CBC Radio


See on Scoop.itStanding in Power

Thérèse Clerc has a moon face, bright eyes and 14 grandchildren. She makes a mean veal stew. And at 85, she’s one of the most stubborn feminists in all of France.

Jacqueline Freeman‘s insight:

Ah yes, Baba Yaga’s!  The hut on chicken legs that dances and twirls it’s so full of life and vigor! Hurrah to Therese for listening and acting on her Inner Voice- it does indeed lift up others when we listen to it and follow its course.  Have you signed up for the April 20th retreat where we’ll work with connecting to our intuition?  Buy One Get One til the 14th.  See to register.

See on

He Stood Right Here


I thought my old blog was lost– I’d done some reflections there on stories from the Abrahamic tradition that I wanted to reprint here- I found it today searching for something completely different….

Here’s a post I did about my DV activism from 2009.  I’ve come a long, long way since then, but the story of where my passion for the work I do with folktales is still just as powerful:


“He stood right here, in this spot,” Brother Alakoum emphasized pointing at the ground next to where he stood as he looked out over the massala, “stood right here and asked for money for Bridges TV.”

Earlier in his portion of the presentation, Br. Alakoum had told the story of a man from our community that was such a tyrant that his family celebrated his death at Chuck E. Cheese. He wanted to stress that the issue of domestic violence is real in our community, and its time to move to Zero Tolerance. “You think its being a man to have your house afraid of you, but then your family celebrates your janaza at Chuck E. Cheese.”

The panel discussion entitled “From Domestic Violence to Domestic Peace” was held during the Friday night halaqa spot at ICC in Tempe. I’d printed 40 of each of the flyers we had to give out. We’d run out. 50 – 60 people were there, many new faces. Panelists were Dr. Aneesa Nadir, Founder and President of ISSA-USA, Ahmad Daniels, Executive Director of CAIR-AZ, Ahmed Alakoum, Executive Director of MAS-AZ, and Jacqueline Freeman-Ennaffah President of AMWA-AZ and founder of I AM: American Muslim (that would be me)

I’d spent the afternoon trying to untie the knot in my stomach. Each event I’m involved in concerning domestic violence brings an onslaught of feelings of insecurity and helplessness, inadequacy almost to the point of despair. Each of these attacks serves to prove to me how important this work is- how much Darkness would stop it- but staying on top of the wave instead of being crushed under it takes tremendous effort and God’s Grace to get through.

Women’s Studies professors aren’t generally well-recieved in any religious congregation, let alone a mosque. Talking about feminist theory and women’s emancipation will likely repel this audience even more than the average American. Yet, I am convinced that the issue of domestic violence will not be significantly reduced until faith communities become proactive in preventing abuse and intervening when it does occur.

Why is this issue so important to me? Why should anyone listen to what I have to say? If being a Women’s Studies instructor has no authority here or even arouses suspicion, what can I possibly say to this audience that would matter to them?

I was raised in an abusive home. My father sent my mother to the hospital a few times. We learned very quickly not to talk about it. Dad convinced us with his screams, Mom with her tears. My extended family knew mother’s stories about broken bones and bruises were lies. They tried to get my brother and I to tell them what was happening. We merely regurgitated the half-truths we had been trained to tell. I remember so clearly the suspicion in my uncle’s eyes, the pleading in my grandmother’s face, but my tongue was tied in a knot I didn’t know how to loosen.

A hostage, a puppet, my mouth bore the words that had been planted there. I hoped as much as I feared my eyes would tell the Truth. No one ever acted on what they saw in my eyes, only what they heard come out of my mouth. I thought they didn’t see. I realize now they must have felt as tied and helpless as I did.

I learned there is no safety in the world.

I am a product of both my mother and my father. Growing up with the violence, the distrust, the lack of respect, the lovelessness, ripped something inside of me. That hole would yawn wider and wider as the years went by. I would try to fill it with just about anything. Nothing worked. It seemed too big even for God.

My parents were not just at war in our house, they were at war inside of me. There was not communion between my male and female sides, there was competition. There was not communication and comprimise, there was name-calling, ultimatums, and threats. I was not given a foundation of trust, respect, love, dignity, equality upon which to build my relationship with myself, with God, with the world around me. Instead, I was raised on the rim of a volcano, never knowing when the ground beneath my feet would crumble or explode.

My dad never hit me, but hearing him hit my mom, listening to the way he talked to her, seeing how little respect he gave her, taught me about being a woman. Woman was something despised, sometimes pitied, but seldom loved. She was an object. A slave. Not really human. She was not appreciated, she was not respected, what she contributed was not important.

My mom clung on for years. For the kids. We all wish she hadn’t done that. It would have been better to not have Dad there. It would have given us the chance to be a family, instead of a collection of refugees, each huddling in their own corner, hoarding supplies, listening for signs of the next raid.

It has taken me a long time to learn to forgive my parents. Both of them: him for doing it, her for staying.

I haven’t forgiven myself yet. For the cowardice I exhibited huddled in the dark on the top of the stairs while they screamed, while he hit, when she was chased. For being the reason they were still together. For getting sick so they would fight about him not giving me my medicine on time. For being alive and the reason they would argue about money or later, visitation. For needing anything ever from my mother who was clearly struggling to stay alive herself. For continuing to love my Dad even when he’d caused my Mom so much pain.

I haven’t forgiven myself yet. I don’t know how to loosen the knots of emotion and the guilt-ridden consciousness of a child that takes all blame upon themselves. My intellect cannot comprehend it, and my heart is afraid of feeling it fully enough to let it go.

So I do this work. I hope that parents will hear, that they will listen, though the arc of change is slow and incremental. I hope that leaders will pay attention and take this problem for being the real threat to the community that it is. I do this work in the hopes that fewer children will grow up carrying the same burden that I do. That fewer children will have to work so hard to trust God and believe that they can experience love. That fewer souls will be ripped in quite this way.

I do this work so that more children will have fewer barriers in their relationships with themselves, with God, with the world around them. That more children will be brought up on a foundation of equity, justice, trust, honor, dignity.

And today, humbled and in awe of the immensity of God’s grace–of the enormity of what happened last night in that mosque, faces turned upward, next to the projector screen–I am so grateful for the plowers and planters like Dr. Aneesa Nadir. Those constant and patient souls that have banged their hearts, minds and souls against the hardened earth of this community, who have spent their years breaking up the surface, dropping seeds, praying for the right balance of rain, sun, and temperature to bring the seeds to fruition…

Oh Lord, hear our prayer