Tag Archives: Virgin Qualities

‘Round Yon Virgin — A Time Warp

I’m writing this piece under the solemn gaze of a four-year-old girl who is waiting to show me the killer dance moves she has learned from watching Shakira. “Espérate,” I tell Valeria. Wait a while. Like about eleven more years, please.

Quincianeras are celebrated in Mexico when a young girl reaches fifteen years old. They mark an official passage into womanhood. For one day of her life she changes costumes more times than Cher, gets the kind of attention Miley Cyrus takes for granted, and her parents hire a band to play sentimental songs like “Turnaround” from the Kodak commercial.  Larry and I were invited to a big quincianera this past weekend.

I think we scored tickets because the proud papa at first considered staging it in our RV park. There have been parties there before because it’s pretty, paved, and has plenty of bathrooms and electrical outlets. It’s also private and easily secured, a major consideration these days when Mexicans throw a big party. It was available because with travel advisories against driving in Mexico, we’re not getting a whole lot of business.

But Papa’s guest list grew and grew, and our little RV park was not big enough for a sit-down dinner for five hundred, a VIP lounge area, a dance floor and a twelve-piece band from Guadalajara. Papa eventually rented Hacienda La Peñita, a square city block studded with towering palms, and enclosed by high stonewalls. It’s dreamy beautiful, but in the whole place there is only one outside electric outlet and not one easily accessible bathroom. No problema.  There’s not a lot you can’t accomplish in Mexico if you’ve got pesos. Papa hired a semi-truck with fancy built-in restrooms, and a substantial “gratuity” insured a direct hook-up to a nearby power pole. Within hours the Hacienda was transformed.

The invitation said a partir de las ocho. “If it begins at eight o’clock,” I thought,” leaving at nine will make us fashionably on time — according to Latin standards.” I am married to a man whose lights go dim before the evening news, so leaving for a party around nine in the evening was a major challenge for him, let alone putting on a tie. But just after nine, we approached the Hacienda slowly, very slowly, cruising for a parking place, subjecting our open, honest faces to the scrutiny of armed guards who were posted on all four sides of the party place. Papa greeted us, seemed overjoyed that we’d come, and led us to a table with the four other gringos in attendance. We were obviously early.

We also thought we’d scrubbed up pretty well, but we didn’t hold a candle to the glamour that surrounded us.  My Mexican neighbor had counseled me about quincianera protocol. She told me to expect elegance — una noche de largas mantelas – literally, a night of long tablecloths. Party after party of the most beautiful and stylish people gradually populated the tables around us. Languidly, guests staked claim to white-shrouded tables —  and stayed there.  Maybe it’s just hard to mingle on a soft lawn when you’re wearing four-inch heels. It was honored-daughter, with her attendant court of young men and women, who promenaded from table to table, greeting guests, allowing plenty of time to take in the details of each others’ dress. The young men were seamless in their manners, their partners accepting their attentions with a grace engrained since kindergarten.

There were also lots of waiters, bearing lots of wine, lots of tequila, and eventually – wait for it, because we did — dinner rolls. I’d fed us a little something before going, but the combination of soft dinner music and growing hunger pangs were putting a glaze in Larry’s eyes.  Soup was finally served about ten thirty, cream of corn with a hint of curry, but Larry gave up around eleven and took a cab home. The entrees arrived about twenty minutes later, a variety of coconut shrimp, filet mignon, and garlic-laced dorado with side salads of baby lettuces and blackberries. Just before midnight, an MC took the stage and announced that honored daughter had una sorpresita for us – a little surprise. Serve Larry right for leaving early. Not only did he miss the meal. He missed her belly dance, complete with appropriate drapery.

It was after midnight before the live band struck up with Latin rhythms that finally pried guests away from the long tablecloths and out onto the dance floor. There were trumpets, drums, choreography and vocals that rocked the neighborhood. The teen-age queen had yet another costume change, and when I left just before one, the lively part of the evening was just getting started.

Are the rhythms of Mexican life really that much different than those of their northern neighbors? Concerning party times, manners, and table service, yep, they are. But some things move at the same pace north or south of the border – like waiting forever for a grown up to finish what she’s doing, or watching a young girl grow up in the blink of an eye.  I’m almost finished, Valeria. I’ll watch you dance. It will only be a moment, and then it will be — gone.

Costa Rica — no army because….

I met Karen Figueres this morning at breakfast. She was upset. She’d flown in from Costa Rica to Boston yesterday, and in Miami had received word that her country had been invaded.  She was hoping she could find something about the situation on U.S. television news yesterday evening. OK, you can stop laughing now. Not about the invasion, but about the chances she would find any news about it anywhere on American television. And you can start laughing again, because evidently it was a big misunderstanding caused by a Nicaraguan military commander using Google maps. Google maps about this area are wrong.

But Karen’s distress was real. You see, she’s a former First Lady of Costa Rica — twice. It was her husband Jose Figueres Ferrer who abolished Costa Rica’s army back in the 1950’s. That was one of the accomplishments of his first term in office. Among others, he also granted blacks and women the right to vote. Because of meeting her this morning (we were introduced via Facebook by a mutual friend), and thinking all day that her country was being invaded, I’ve been reading about him on wikipedia. I’d say more about him here, but it’s been a very long day. I’ll let you follow the wikipedia link and see if you agree with me — Jose sounds like someone who didn’t do things in the usual way — definitely a guy who was in touch with his Inner Guadalupe.

Posting an addition to this entry after a friend shared a link of official media photos.

Practical advice on dealing with bullies

Seems I’m on a campaign these days against bullying. The major part of my recent posts deal with the subject. I didn’t set out to do that, but it just seems pertinent these days, and I don’t think I’ve lost focus from what Virgin Territory and “my Inner Guadalupe” are all about.

“What has standing up to bullies got to do with Guadalupe?” you ask.  Well, remember it was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that Father Hidalgo raised when Mexico was going up against the bully named Spain. In fact revolutionary movements have often raised the image of the Virgin. Virgin qualities — being whole, complete, un-captured, un-invaded, un-broken and intact — are what sustain us against bullies. And some sound practical advice comes in handy as well. Check out this article

Prayer in the face of social networking

When Larry picked me up at Puerto Vallarta’s Diaz Ordaz airport last Sunday, I had been away from Mexico, for all intents and purposes, since August 1. I was eager to return to my “quiet spot” on the globe and try to digest the megatons of information, contacts, counsel and inspiration one tends to pick up on a book and conference tour. We exited the airport and sat in traffic for an hour and a half. No lie. There was a bicycle marathon, and four lanes of the main road through PV had been shut off for the purpose. It was a sabbath-day gridlock.

I’ve felt the same way about my poor brain. It’s a mess in there, a veritable jam-up of post-publication counsel on how to “get my message out there.” I’m advised to LinkIn, Tweet, Facebook, gather my tribe, organize my contacts, make lists on FaceBook, put together video trailers for Youtube, polish up 10-second, 30-second, 2-minute soundbites, get a decent photo, form partnerships, teleconference, tag and drive traffic to my website, seminarize, monetize, categorize…..frankly, “Ize” gettin’ a little overwhelmed.

As I was crawling under the covers last night and emerging this morning, the last verse of a hymn I’ve known since childhood came cruising in like a welcome traffic cop. The words point the way out of the gridlock, a pointy arrow of direction, if not to the fast lane, at least to a clear path.  They are part of a poem written by that “other Mary” in my life, Mary Baker Eddy.

My prayer, — some daily good to do to Thine, for Thee —

An offering pure of love, whereto God leadeth me.

Young woman sheriff in Mexico = Guadalupe Presence…gone

Marisol Valles Garcia said, “Yes.” She is twenty years old and she’s become the sheriff of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a town practically on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, the most dangerous city in Mexico.  Here’s a link to the story.

Her name, a combination of Mary and Sun, is appropriate. THIS is how the Guadalupe presence functions. That woman-image from Revelation 21, “clothed with the sun,” offers a new paradigm for conquering evil.  New? After all, those words have been there for a long, long time. But maybe we’re moving into a time, when we’re finally ready to leave the old model behind. That’s the one we’ve been playing over and over again: perpetrator, victim and rescuer.  The innocent victim is tied to the railroad tracks by an evil villain and waits for a hero to show up and save the day.

In the new model, it is Guadalupe (Woman, the spiritual ideal, the image of God, enlightened consciousness — SO many names) who shows up. Her presence is the day, and like dawn destroys the night, the mere fact of her existence sends darkness packing. The Guadalupe presence doesn’t retaliate, use force or bravado. It simply is what it is — virgin.

Virginity is powerful.  In its original concept, it had NOTHING to do with physiology. Being a virgin meant having authority, because a virgin was “author” of her own experience. She carried no labels from any faction. She was defined by no relationship other than the one she maintained with her Creator. She was no one’s daughter, servant, wife, lover, or mother. She was “one-in-herself.” She was whole, complete, un-captured, unbroken, un-invaded, intact. Can’t touch that! Not without going down in flames.

Am I saying Marisol Valles Garcia is an incarnation of Guadalupe, another appearance of The Virgin there on the Texas and Mexico border? No, no more than I would say she was the sun itself. But I do recognize a sunbeam when I see one.  Perhaps the dawn is breaking.

March 9, 2011 Update:  Sad to report there are clouds over that dawn. I’ve been wondering what was going on with Marisol, and found this from two days ago. And this article in Spanish from yesterday. Evidently Marisol has fled to the U.S. in the face of death and kidnapping threats. The mayor of Praxedis G. Guerrero, called after her, “You’re fired.” Sounds like he’s about as supportive of public employees as Wisconsin Republicans.

Is Mexico being bullied?

Business as usual here, watching Stateside evening local news: If it bleeds it leads. Rarely has a night gone by during the last two and half months that I’ve been north of the border in Texas, California and Washington state, that I haven’t seen some story of a drive-by shooting, a carjacking or another example of road rage that ended in violent confrontation. The reporting and the rhetoric are paced like gunfights — talk shows even have names like “Crossfire” and “Hard Ball” — and while the commentators may not be engaged in actual physical violence, I for one have the urge to hurl something at the television screen. And if Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Whoever weren’t dark and scary enough, there are the trailers for movies that are running or coming. What happened to sweet sunshiney escapism? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to get in our new Great Depression? These films feed depression!

This edgy, confrontational, smack ’em down and keep ’em down attitude is getting on my nerves. I yearn for a public atmosphere of reverence for family, friendship and cooperation, a public sense of safety and serenity, and of quiet satisfaction with simple pleasures.  I MISS MEXICO!! Yeah, I said it. Mexico has all those things, no matter what the U.S. media says to the contrary.

Is the country of my birth becoming a bully? I recently read a post, called Memoirs of a Bullied Kid. The author is generous to his former tormentors, pointing out that in calling him names, shoving him around and making his life miserable, that they, the tormentors themselves, were being impelled by their own insecurities and problematic home lives. The U.S. has been doing a bang up media bullying job on Mexico for the last several years. They have painted their neighbor to the south as a “failed state,” or “riddled with violence.” They have warned off tourists with images of headless bodies and swine flu, and have scapegoated brown-skinned people on both sides of the border.  The longer the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued unresolved, the deeper in doo doo the American economy has sunk, the more, ahem, mud-slinging has taken place. Here are some further links that back up what I’m saying here:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2010/08/mexico

http://www.mexicopremiere.com/?p=4166

http://www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/wordpress/2010/10/travel-warning-for-the-united-states/

So I’ll take a clue from Single Dad Laughing who encourages us to reach out with compassion to both the bullied and the bully. Come on, Country of my birth that I love. You are capable of so much more than the way you’ve been acting!  Have you forgotten your greatness, your goodness, and the power that comes of bringing out the greatness in others? Get with your Inner Guadalupe, stop the cursing, and let the blessing begin!

Guadalupe presence Linda Norgrove killed in Afghanistan

I didn’t know Linda Norgrove. I only recognize her spirit — that of a young woman, one-in-herself, saying Yes, to the purpose to which life has called her. It was the same spirit I saw in Jill Carroll, the foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped in Iraq in February, 2006. I felt so strongly about Jill, who was doing what I had always longed to do, that I started blogging — my first ever. A week later, Larry and I went on vacation to Mexico and bought the house we’re living in now.  I’m just now making the connection: Did I say Yes, because of Jill? I think I probably did.

The title of that short-lived blog — which is still alive and present — was Now, Voyager, inspired by a verse from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The last paragraph I wrote about Jill, I could revise for Linda. My prayers DO go out for her — that her example continue inspiring young women and old.

Jill/Linda, I think of you everyday. My prayers for you go out constantly. You stayed on your course and sailed forth to do and be what I lost sight of for a while. So my prayers for you are prayers for me, as well. God, give me courage to keep sailing forth, to keep seeking and finding, no matter the reefs, waves or wrecks. We each DO make a difference when we leave the dock.

Guadalupe as Head Cheerleader

Gin Turner was head cheerleader at Lubbock High School when I was a lowly, very uncool sophomore, fall semester, 1964. My locker was next to that of another uncool kid. Neal wore a bow tie, a pocket protector and carried a brief case. I tried to ignore him. So did practically everyone else. Except when they were making his life miserable.

I saw that happen up close and personal one day when, after slamming his locker door shut, Neal dropped his briefcase and it sprang open. Papers flew everywhere, all over the dark brown linoleum hallway floor where two corridors intersected. Neal dropped to his knees to pick them up. About that time a group of “cool” guys came around the corner and began kicking the papers out of his reach, laughing, shoving, and taunting him. I stood by and did nothing. So did everyone else.

Around the other corner came a group of cheerleaders. It was a game day, and they were in uniform. Gin was front and center and her eyes immediately took in what was going on. She didn’t say a word. She dropped to her knees and began helping Neal. She kept at it until everything was in order. She smiled at him and wished him well, and went on her way. And I stood there — changed. From that moment on, I knew one thing:  I wanted to be like HER.

Look her up in the yearbook, and you’ll see that year she was not only head cheerleader, she was prom queen, homecoming queen, most popular, most EVERYTHING. We all adored her. She was love personified, and she walked among us.  She led simply by being who she was. Bullying disappeared because it simply couldn’t exist when Gin was there. And she was present, everywhere.

And then, in a few short years, she was gone.

If ever there was a Guadalupe presence, Gin Turner was it.  She set a standard of love and respect at Lubbock High School that year, and her influence, I feel sure, continues in the lives of those who knew her. I raise her image in this time of bullying. Perhaps her story can continue to change lives. It changed life for Neal. And it certainly changed mine.

Saying YES strikes a chord

The advantage of being on the road and talking with live audiences is I get to look in people’s faces and see what makes their eyes light up.  After pointing out that Mary (as in the mother of Jesus)  didn’t respond to the angel’s announcement with, “hmmm, let me think about this,” the concept that “Real virgins say YES” is a real turn on to my feminine listeners.  That’s a light-switch-in-your-thought kind of turn-on I’m talking about — that we each have a divine purpose, a reason for being on the planet at this time. The planet needs us to step up and say YES to our purpose, embrace it and go forward.

We need to be prepared not only mentally and spiritually for the work, but physically as well. My friend Connie Pierce lost 180 pounds when she started saying YES to her divine purpose. She’s a Virgin Territory reader. Here’s her take away….

Needed for traveling and shopping: Virgin Qualities

I usually start off my talks asking how many virgins there are in the room. It’s an attention getter. But it also lets me get right to the point about what the word “virgin” really means. The original definition had nothing to do with a physiological state. A virgin was one who was undefined by any human relationship. She was literally one-in-herself. She was whole, complete, intact, un-captured, self-governed. Because she was the “author” of her own experience, she had authority. That’s why virgins were often charged with the responsibility of keeping watch.

The world could use a few more virgins in this sense, right? But far from any cosmic application, I’ve been clinging to, affirming and claiming for my own those virgin qualities this past week. My exit from Guayabitos on this current book tour was precipitous. Heavy rains had blocked the highway which connects us with Puerto Vallarta, an hour and a half away in the best of conditions. By Tuesday morning, making my Thursday flight was looking pretty iffy. I also had my immigration document to collect before I could exit the country. Just after noon on Tuesday, I heard my husband say into the telephone, “One o’clock? I’ll have her there.” He’d found a way to get me out — the last seat on a panga — that’s an open fishing boat with an outboard motor.

At 1:10 I was running down the beach, into the water, following two guys who had my duffle bags full of books on their back. The thirteen other people in the boat obligingly leaned toward me, dipping the edge of the boat down where I could turn around, hoist my fanny onto the side, and fall over backward and into the boat. “Watch my laptop,” I blurted out.

So this time in Dallas has been one of discovering what I brought, what I left behind, and examining what I need in order to spend much more time in the States than what I’d planned. What was going to be a week long trip has stretched to six weeks. My mental litany has been, “I am complete, whole, intact. I include everything I need. I am un-captured by the vicissitudes of weather, Homeland Security, or commercial airline policy. I have authority. I am NOT a victim.” (Do you know American Airlines wanted $640 to change the date of return on a simple round trip ticket PVR to DFW? Do you know you can’t change the point of departure from one country to another on ANY airline ticket issued in the U.S.? Do you know it’s STILL raining back home in Mexico?)

My issues are being resolved one by one. My VISA card is a little limp (buymybooks, buymybooks), but I get to spend an overnight tryst with Larry in Puerto Vallarta this coming Monday, and I’ve met some of the most wonderful angels who have helped and guarded me on my way. I’ve also grown into a greater appreciation of the daily practical application of what one woman dubbed “re-virgination.” Reclaiming virginity. Day by day by day.