Monday, June 14, 2010

Joyce of All Trades

Master of a Few!

© 2010
By Joyce Mason

This post complements an important announcement on my other blog, The Radical Virgo. I have re-opened my Inner Growth Work “astrology-plus” practice which also includes tarot, dreamwork, and flower essence consultations. All the details on finding out what I do and how to work with me, if you’re interested, are linked there. On Hot Flashbacks, I’d like to focus on something different. Namely, the mixed blessing of being an eclectic person. If you’re a Suzy, Jill, Sam or Jack of All Trades, and sometimes wish you could be more single-focused, this post is for you!

Very Versatile

In my last post, Very Verse-a-Tile, I talked about my lure back to poetry. In fact, these last three posts have been about going home to people, places, and things from which I had taken a temporary vacation. I realized midway that I was building up to the announcement about reopening my practice.

I have always had a multitude of interests. Several of my friends are still working on “finding themselves” in their 50s or 60s. When I listen to them, I understand, but it is so outside the realm of my experience to be limited to just one; I have to wonder what that would be like. It makes me ponder the greener pastures of a less complicated life.

When I don’t feed my various needs for spirituality, art, family and friends, I feel all out of whack. It’s a malaise that puts me on edge far more than the challenge of juggling several passions.

In trying to find a graphic for this post that fit my feelings, I had several to choose from. Some were prettier, sexier, or more humorous than this one. I insisted on only one thing—that the woman depicted had a look of joy or happiness on her face. This crazy pace and complex life actually makes me happy. When I found the photo I ultimately used, I “got” why. Writing plus all of the things in my Inner Growth Work practice are my “gifts.” As we embrace the wisdom years, it’s our job to give back what we’ve learned. I can’t give you just one gift—writing. I have to give you all five—writing, astrology, tarot, dreamwork, and flower essences. How convenient! This woman is juggling exactly five packages!

Women and Multi-Tasking

While there are, of course, individual variations, I have observed that in general women are better at multi-tasking than men. I saw this up-close when I had a job that required keeping so many balls in the air, it would have worn out the most seasoned juggler. We hired a man to co-pilot the program with me. He was so linear by comparison—one thing at a time. We operated in very different ways. Seeing this on a day-to-day basis made me appreciate our inborn differences and the ways men and women complement each other. I have had oodles of conversations about why women are wired for multi-tasking at the biological level. Some reasons are obvious. If you’re trying to manage several children, keep house, and gather food—that would require a juggling act even back in the Stone Age. Add the modern necessity for most women to work outside the home and their unwillingness to give up their own interests and fulfillment. Suddenly, the creative feminine energy has to be whipped up to a whirling vortex of amplified life force.

When it becomes “too much” involves the difficulty many women experience in saying no—in the appropriate reining in of their creative forces. The whole act goes to the Dark Side when we lose ourselves in the process. The only way this eclectic lifestyle works is if the owner of that energy is completely centered in who s/he is, what s/he wants, and in taking care of him- or herself. It’s important to remember that creative energy, AKA “the feminine” is the animus in both males and females. It’s an energy, not a gender or not the sole realm of one gender, even if women often “come in” with more of it. The best way to remember its ever presence is in the yin/yang symbol. Each has a drop of the other in it—females have a drop of masculine, their animus, and men have a drop of feminine, their anima. Some have more than a drop. Vive les differences!

Just One Glass …

When we get in trouble with all this juggling and jumping around, that’s when we have to downsize—at least temporarily. There is a huge difference between being stimulated and fulfilled and being overextended and utterly exhausted. We have to know when to say “uncle.” In my case, I was a workaholic for many years. I had a 40-hour-a-week day job, a half-time metaphysical practice, and an international astrology newsletter I did three times a year (more like a mini-magazine). This was in the ‘90s before all the whiz-bang electronic and print options of today. On top of that, I wrote articles, organized at least one international astrology conference—and that was just work. Once I remarried in ’98, something had to give because I wanted time for my relationship. I got a clear calling from spirit to put astrology and my practice on the back burner.

I was at the peak of my career in that realm. I had worked hard, and I did not understand why God was asking me to do this 180-turnaround. Still, I honored my inner wisdom. I honestly thought I’d never be back. (Are you laughing yet?)

In She, his wonderful book on the psychology of the feminine based on the myth of Eros and Psyche, Dr. Robert A. Johnson says that all women must learn to go down to the metaphorical river and take just one goblet of water. This comes from the four rites of passage Aphrodite, the Greek version of Eros, must complete in order to develop fully as a women. Only in her case, she has to fill a single goblet from the river Styx. Styx was the mythological river that marked the boundary between Earth and the underworld. According to Dr. Johnson, this means that a woman must learn at some point to focus on a single item at once from the vast choices in the universe. At the height of my one-woman Ed Sullivan Show, the idea of going to the river and choosing only one—in my case marriage—was a great comfort and necessity that cried out from all the cells in my being.

At some point, a woman must learn to focus on a single item from the vast choices in the universe. ~ Dr. Robert A. Johnson, She

However, this is not what a woman does always or what the feminine or anima does normally. Creativity is the “wild feminine.” What one glass?

The Eros and Psyche myth and the one glass metaphor illustrates the same point as the wonderful song from “My Fair Lady,” Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man? There are times when a woman must know intimately her drop of the masculine. She must own her inner male. She must be linear and become a good father to herself, including grounding herself in more ways than one.

The Renaissance Woman’s Dilemma

Multiple interests and gifts are great, but they require a strong, grounded core of energy to pull off the jugging act in daily life. They also may require a time-out, that grounding of another kind.

Here’s the bonanza of insight from my personal adventure with the river, one glass, and grounding. I’m back in a new and better way. My creativity is on fire! I have matured in the process and gained more self-confidence. I feel like the theme song to LaVerne and Shirley. Nothing will stop me …

… except myself, if I fail to ground all that activity by rest, meditation, inspirational reading, walks in the woods, and all the things a creative whirlwind needs to keep her life and self from blowing away from her like a hurricane.

Our multi-media world gives us so many choices, it’s hard to make them all. I can barely decide which e-mails to read or delete. How much harder it can be to decide where to put our most precious resource, our creativity—the God-stuff—the energy with which we co-create and can make the world a better place.

Ponder your yin/yang balance and ask yourself, now and then, if you need a one-goblet break to prepare you for your next personal renaissance.


Photo Credit: GIFTS © Bliznetsov |


Pop Art Diva said...

I disagree with Dr. Johnson's quote - I don't believe anyone "must" limit themselves to one item. Like you I do believe that we have to pare down our options and focus on those that we are most passionate about.

I love knowing that the female animus is why I have "multiple creativity disorder",lol. I have a passion for many different styles of art, I love to write and I love exploring food and drink.

For me I "focused" on one item by combining all those passions into one enterprise. It's got a lot of parts but they all intertwine. This means that a project for one part feeds another part and so on.

Like you I am a bit of a Renaissance woman but I think that is the theme of this brave new world!

Joyce Mason said...

Great feedback, Pop Art--and here's to all the Renaissance men and women out there!

I think Dr. Johnson's premise has to be taken in context. It is part of a woman's 4-step initiation into full maturity as seen in myth. I don't believe he's talking about always, but rather sometimes. For example, the female body is designed to completely focus on growing a child when a mother is pregnant. And soon after a child is born, a mother must completely focus on nurturing that child as her #1 priority. In practical terms, eclectic as we are, you or I might have to zero in on one project or aspect of our lives at times. In other words, sometimes the juggling act has to be set aside for the single-minded focus--that thing guys are so good at!

When you can combine a lot into a single focus--now there's a really original way to combine these needs into one package. (Maybe that's the 6th package that should be added to this graphic?) Bravo for that creativity!