Losing My Religion for Equality…by Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Via: Women’s Press

My Muse & Me ~ A Feminine Expression

My dear friend Guru Kirn Kaur from New Mexico, took up her brush and has been lost to this passion since brush stroke and painted merged on canvas. An innately creative woman, this expression has awakened the creative muse within her in a way she has not experienced before and she is in LOVE!
Shiloh Sophia McCloud is an amazing artist and teaches workshops guiding women into a place of expression which is deeply moving, healing and expressive. The art created is rich and overflowing with beautifully invoking and evoking images from the soul, deeply healing the feminine in us all.
Guru Kirn mentioned that many of the pieces in the video were created by women who had never painted before. What amazing potential we all have sitting within the well of our creativity.
Take time to sit back and be present with the parade of feminine images presented through this video. The music is beautiful and the artwork stunning. A meditative break in the midst of your day. Enjoy.

Sheila Kelley & The New Wave of The Sacred Feminine ~ A Ted Talk

A woman I know was invited by Sheila Kelley, founder of S Factor to come and take a complimentary S Factor class. She fell in love with S Factor and immediately enrolled. She called me in tears saying the classes touched and moved something deep inside of her so profoundly she could not let it go. That a profound healing of her femininity and sexuality was unfolding moment by moment. When I last saw her I noticed not only how toned her body was but how confident she felt about herself, how she moved with a freedom and beauty and a smile on her face. I did not once hear her ask me “do I look okay in this, do you think I look fat, I hate this or that part of my body”. Her self-deprecation was just not there. She talked with love and enthusiasm about her love for S Factor and how thankful she is everyday that this came to her, that she gets to dance this beautiful body story, discover her “erotic creature” and play on the pole. With not once ounce of self-consciousness or embarrassment she offered to show me some of her dance. It was amazing and so beyond gorgeous. I am so pleased for her, for her ability to take the healing of her own sensual/sexual being in hand and own who she is.
I was recently sent this video of Sheila Kelley’s Ted Talk. Wow!! There is so much I could say here but Sheila says it all… and so passionately. Take time to watch, and pass it on.

Color Me Ageless

One of my very favorite blogs is Advanced Style. Ari Seth Cohen interviews and photographs women around NYC who capture his attention with their style, grace and beauty. The women are all of a “certain age” who defy the concept of aging with vigor and aplomb. This little blog has become my Saturday morning delight as I sit with my toast and tea, taking in the delightfully spunky personalities, personal artistic, stylish expression and the unabashed freedom these women embody. Below are three videos Ari recently posted.

Zelda, in her 90’s, has a love of textiles and cloth, wearing her self-designed creations whenever she leaves her home to let the beauty of the weavers art tell its story.

Ruth is 99 years old, is studying Pilates and still pulls her mat out regularly to move her body with the mantra “Just do it”

Ilona is an artist and recently resurrected performance artist who fills her life with color, teaching and intelligent expression. AND do not miss her eyelashes!

So share the love of all things woman and dust of your colorful self, dance a wild woman dance across the floor and giggle like a young girl at the sheer joy of life. Grab your brightest scarf or don your most amazing earrings as you head out the door – take a walk, qi gong your body, yoga your being, swim your senses, bike under beautiful blue sky, marshal your wisdom; let the world smile at the rainbow of your life ~ AND ~ make sure you smile first!!

Dr. Maya Angelou

My admiration for Maya Angelou is big, full. Standing next to her a woman can only feel more; grand, strong and beautiful. Her presence evokes and hearkens to the largess within the self. She inspires and calls to all her Sisters, “Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity”. More than inspiration, more than possibility – more. Ms. Angelou, the Nubian Queen, who steps upon the earth with the shell pink soles of her feet and her beautifully rich brown skin, Africa in the timbre of her voice. A Queen beyond race or age, beyond creed and politics; Maya Angelou is good medicine for the soul.  For her presence in the here and now I am thankful. For the way she says “Sister” and in one word tells a whole story ~ The story of every woman who has ever lived from grandmother to mother to daughter; neighbor, auntie, friend. Ms. Angelou exhorts keep reaching, keep dreaming, keep learning, keep teaching.  Go big, deep, wide and then go some more. Fill the world with intelligent kindness and love.

“If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, ‘Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.’ That’s one thing I’m learning.” — Dr. Maya Angelou

When you get give, when you learn teach”. Maya Angelou


Maya Angelo ~ Nubian Queen ~ Every Woman Should Have…Every Woman Should Know…


Enough money within her control to move out
And rent a place of her own even if she never wants
To or needs to...

Something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her
Dreams wants to see her in an hour...

A youth she's content to leave behind...

A past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
Retelling it in her old age...

A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black
Lace bra...

One friend who always makes her laugh... And one who
Lets her cry...

A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone
Else in her family...

Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a
Recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...

A feeling of control over her destiny...

How to fall in love without losing herself...

How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship ...

When to try harder... And when to walk away...

That she can't change the length of her calves,
The width of her hips, or the nature of her parents...

That her childhood may not have been perfect...but its

What she would and wouldn't do for love or more...

How to live alone... Even if she doesn't like it...

Whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't
Take it personally...

Where to go... Be it to her best friend's kitchen table...
Or a charming inn in the woods...
When her soul needs soothing...

What she can and can't accomplish in a day...
A month...and a year...


Eat, Pray, Love

“…if you sit down with the pure intention to meditate, whatever happens next is none of your business. So why are you judging your experience?”


“Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One you can see; one you cannot.  One is made of bones, teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.”


“…the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you…”


Excerpts from the book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Peace By Peace

peace-circle-2.jpgPeace X Peace is a global organization designed to connect women from around the world for the promotion of peace. The organization works on the concept of circles. Circles of women are created through registering on their website. Each “circle” is then connected with another “circle” of women somewhere else in the world. This creates a way for women to come together in a grass roots fashion to support the awareness and advancement of peace. It provides an opportunity for women to move past limitations of language and distance barriers and move as one heart to heal ourselves and heal the world.

All this is done over the internet. I can sit down at my computer and visit with a women in Brazil, Nepal, Ireland…..(the list is endless) about life and love, being a woman, peace, kindness, enterprise…. I can specifically choose to connect with a group who is interested in healing, music, textiles, yoga, politics, business, education, etc. or I can choose to be non-specific and ask where the greatest need is and be connected to a circle in that particular country.


Peace X Peace is a profound concept and its mission is spreading quickly. Women are wanting to connect. We desire to create change. We envision a peace for ourselves, our children, our planet. By connecting through the heart chakra, in hearing the voices and stories of our collective selves we create a mighty force. I have yet to meet a woman whom when she sets her heart and intention to a specific purpose does not manifest its measure. We are the change we have been waiting for. Peace is a sadhana. It takes commitment, focus, discipline, time and intention. Rise up, rise up….

For more information about Peace X Peace, or contact information on how to get someone to come present a workshop in your community, temple, church, synagogue, etc. go to www.peacexpeace.org


alice-walker.jpgI recently read a book title We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker. Ms. Walker continually stretches to tackle subjects which rest heavy on the collective conscious. Her attention to these subjects and activism in creating awareness and change, keep her a strong, powerful, feminist voice in the wrestling of our demons…whether these demons deliver themselves through prejudice, tradition, suppression, subjugation, ignorance or fear. Ms. Walkers presentations emerge, creating ripples as she brings to the surface the discord of our dysfunctional systems; displayed through race, religion, gender and class. I appreciate and am thankful for her voice.

Below is a poem from We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For….


If you
Want to show
Your love
For Americans
When you see

At the
Eagle feather
In a grandfather’s

If a sister
Bus rider’s hair
A miracle
In itself,


How can there be
In a land
So crammed
With houses
Young children
As sex snacks
Causing our thoughts
To flinch &

Love your country
By loving

Love Americans.
Salute the Soul
& the Body
Of who we
Pitifully are.

Love us. We are
The flag.

Alice Walker

Mount Angel and the Benedictine Sisters

grotto.jpgMount Angel in a beautiful little German town in the Williamette Valley of Oregon. Just north of Salem, tucked up next to the quaint community of Silverton. A farming community with rich soil, quickly filling with vineyards and flower farms. Mt. Angel is the home of the Benedictine Monastery and Abbey. The monks live up on the hill in the abbey overlooking the valley and the Sisters live in the monastery in the valley below. The Sisters are very active, and in accordance to the Benedictine precepts live their faith, discipline and service to the world and the community. They are loved and respected for their commitment and humanitarian services. They are teachers, nurses, pastors, counselors, artisans, gardeners, cooks, caregivers; providing religious, spiritual and cultural support .

When I was 38, I sojourned in the monastery for a time. I exchanged work services for room and board. My room was small, 8×8, with a single bed, small table, chair, dresser and a shelf. I was on the third floor of the original monastery, Howard Hall, which was soon to be torn down because of earthquake damage. When the wind howled the building creaked and swayed as the huge maple trees slapped her branches against the windows. On nights like this I was often in my room writing and drawing or taking a late-night stroll down the empty halls to the library or kitchen for a cup of tea. The rich patina of devotion and monastic life was present in every breath and footstep. Dark wood and ripply glass reflected muted and distorted images off their surfaces. In its quiet, the subtle voices of prayer sifted through the nooks and crannies.

professions-6-06.jpgDeep, deep is the story of the abbey and the Sisters. I am forever thankful for the time I spent there. Through their generous love, hospitality, and commitment to monastic life and service, I learned. I listened, worked and gleaned.  These are wise and strong Sisters living in reverence. Everything is sacred, and it is evident from their gardens, to their laundry room to their chapel. Their outreach is commendable and without prejudice.

The Sisters are also a part of a campaign called For Whom the Bell Tolls, an organization to end state sanctioned killing. For every execution in the U.S. the monastery “tolls the bell”, in a position of solidarity to bring awareness to the inhumane practice of sanctioned execution.

My thoughts are with the Sisters. In the spring when the snows melt and the flowering bulbs start to show their color, I will take a drive over the mountain and visit Mount Angel; Walk the gardens, smell the air, feel the soil, hopefully lend my hand to a project and spend some time with the Sisters.

For more information about the Sisters and the monastery go to www.benedictine-srs.org/index.htm

For more information about the For Whom the Bell Tolls campaign, go to www.curenational.org/~bells/index.html

The Sadhana of Language and Words

I belong to a philosophy group which meets for several hours once a month. We are a small group of women who look at various issues and topics in a round table sort of way, philosophizing to our hearts content. This past weekend some of the topics included a DVD called The Secret, various languages and their sound current effects upon the psyche of the speaker, expression and what I am going to write about today; words.


Words, words, words. We use words to form expression. We use words to communicate. We use words to convey the majority of our emotions, sensations, thoughts, ideas. We use words to hear our own voice. We use our words precisely, sloppily, consciously, with disregard. We use words to stroke, sooth, slay and betray. There is a seemingly endless supply of words and a multitude of ways to use them for every situation or need….and yet we can be at a loss for words, find a place in which words cannot express, have no words, there are no words.


In particular we looked at the words “love and hate”, very powerful expressive words. In our society they are heard continually and with disregard. WE LOVE this or WE LOVE that. The same goes with hate. What does that mean? What do the words love and hate mean? Why have we taken these brilliant words of expression and ‘dumbed’ them down to express the trite and mundane? Why have we taken these words of distinction and placed them into a place of profound mediocrity?


One of the women in our group is from Russia. In Russia the words love and hate are passionate and potent. They are rarely used. A Russian might find oneself using these words less than a half a dozen times in a whole lifetime. They are not words which are acceptable for indulgence.


It caused us all to stop and consider. In a “modern, civilized” society why do we take what is sacred and hollow and make it pointless? Why do we take what is true and whole and compromise its integrity? Why have we lost our respect of language and expression? Words are such a gift. Expression is such an opportunity, personal and powerful. If we stop to think, to choose articulately what we want to say, the truest way to say it, how would that change the way we communicate? How would that affect the excess in which we live? How would it impact our psyches?


The discussion calls me to task. I want to look at my words, all words, in a different way. I want to look deep into the language of verbal expression and utilize its fullness; to expand into greater breadths, depths and heights of communication. A discipline, a sadhana of language in which I hone, with precision, through breath and stretch, the current of sound which flows forth from my mouth. I want to renew, within myself, the power of the spoken word, in the awareness of the gift and sacredness of a form of language which is only available to one species upon this planet. I want to move more fully into the awareness of my humanity and the abundance of possibilities therein. The gift of language is one of the most awesome gifts of the human experience. I would not tromp and stomp through a garden of flowers, so why would I choose to do so through a field of lovely words just waiting to show their face of expression.


If the human life brings the gift of human language, then I can bring the consciousness of articulation to the gift. I am curious as to affect this will bring, what discoveries will be made, what greater authenticity and joy will be revealed in the wakefulness of living fully as a human being.




*Thanks and gratitude to my fellow philosophers: Luda, Colleen, Sherri and Jai Hari Kaur

Khalsa Ladies Camp 2006 – The Grand Adventure

It was a long day. We left early early in the morning on August 14th. My two daughters and myself, with plenty of hot yogi tea wrapped in towels to keep it warm. The stereo loaded with cd’s lined up for play. The weather was beautiful and I-5 wasn’t too slammed, the border was easy and Vancouver beautiful. I love this city!! We arrived ahead of schedule, caught an early ferry, and arrived at my dear friend Tarn Kaur’s home in time to chop, slice, dice and watch the ocean out her windows.

Camp began at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After an amazing lunch we all headed over to the big tent for Opening Circle. Opening Circle is a time to come together, see each others faces and hear each others voices. We spoke our name and entered the Village of the Divine Mother.

And so we began; each morning at 3:45 voices and guitar moved through the site singing us to awaken…”Rise up, rise up sweet family dear….” as women slowly made their way to the big white tent for sadhana, in the Amrit Vela and began Japji, yoga and 62 minutes of meditation. It is hard to describe sadhana. It challenges, provokes, elevates and transforms…and is pure bliss; an “ugh and aah” moment all at the same time.

From there the day goes; Breakfast, gutka, yoga, lunch, Sat Nam Rasayan, Celestial Communications, ocean swims, walks, trips to town for a meal or tea, naps, massages, healing work, readings, cookies, music, dinner, evening gatherings, celebrations, bhangra and bellydancing…Conversations moved in and around in an organic fashion flowing from one subject to another; women’s issues, education, yoga, families, marriages, relationships, sex, love, struggles, loss, fears, excellence, travels, spirituality, world issues, politics, dreams… old friends, new faces, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunties.

Camp has a nature and rhythm of its own. It arranges, shifts, aligns and clarifies. It breaks down, neutralizes and raises up. Camp nurtures and rattles. It is like a magic carpet ride which arrives at the shore of yourself and in seeing yourself you see everyone else. From my camp experience, I get clarity on what will be the topics for my year. It provides me the awareness and focus of my work, folding around and looping into other years creating depth, dimension and expansion. This camp has been very instrumental in my own healing and I consider it one of the most profound gifts I have ever received. If I would consider whether or not I am loved, all I would have to do is look at camp and shut right up! It is that simple.

Camp ended at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. A big bang of a cleanup took place and we all headed back across the water and into the city. We drove into Little India for saag and chai, always a good thing, along with a stop at the shops for new turban cloth, bangles, and trinkets, cardamom pods and saris.

My dear friend Jai Hari Kaur hosted us in her new home and we shared a lovely dinner in her backyard the night before we left. The table was laid with a beautiful blue and green sari, candles, flowers and food. Friends and neighbors arrived bearing sweets and fruit. In the loveliness of this beautiful community yard, steps into the garden wild with grapevines, we shared repast. In the twilight, in the candlelight, amid the voices and laughter of these women I hold so dear, I am in love, loved and loving, and I see, I see.

We left Vancouver the following morning and headed back across the border. Our next stop on our way back home was an overnight visit to my oldest son, Caleb, and his family. We drove down through Whidbey Island and took the ferry across the water and arrived at their home in the woods. Son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters, kisses, hugs, more kisses and more hugs. A beautifully prepared dinner and few bedtime stories for the granddaughters, visiting and the sheer delight in seeing their faces, hearing their voices.

The drive home always gives me time to move from one place to another. To leave behind the ocean and lush green and come back to the desert terrain, allowing everything to begin the settling in and integration process.

And that is the grand adventure, my trip to Khalsa Ladies Camp and back again. I am never the same upon my return. I am more, and in the more I am less…and therein lies the beginning, the middle and the end. Sat Nam.


Khalsa Ladies Camp

This morning I awoke to Ladies Camp. As I stepped out my front door for my morning walk, I met the Sunshine Coast and the sights and smells of Camp Byng and KLC. It was a pleasant sensation to be walking in the Oregon desert physically while present with the Canadian coast sensorially.

Khalsa Ladies Camp Vancouver is my migration spot come August. Every year I make the pilgrimage up through Oregon and Washington to meet the ferry at Horseshoe Bay to take me over the water and arrive at what I refer to as, “The Village of the Divine Mother”. Once a year this campground is transformed into the space of the Adi Shakti. Tents go up, the gudwara is established, the kitchen becomes vegetarian and the land hums and pulses to the sounds of women’s voices. Chanting, praying, singing, laughing, crying, visiting. Neophytes to Wise Women and everything in between.

Early early in the morning we rise to begin our day with prayers, yogic movement and 7 chants. The sounds, open air, travel along the coastline in the crispness of the amrit vela. Women chanting, babies nursing, little ones sleeping all curled up in the cocoon of this sacred time.


I started out years ago on this trek alone. Now my daughters and I travel together. It is permanently assigned to the calender and is the only thing that is, except birthdays and holidays. Khalsa Ladies Camp provides for me capacity and sustenance. It is powerful and resonates throughout the year. I connect with sisters I may only see during this time as we “be” together in the sacred space of the mighty Khalsa Woman. It’s conception and endeavor is brilliant and that brilliance carries you through the now and into the future.


You do not have to be Sikh, or anything else for that matter, to attend this camp. The only requirement is being a woman. Women come from all over, of different traditions, cultures, lifestyles and belief systems…and it always blends and arranges itself into the most lovely and fragrant bouquet. It is a time to step away from the demands of life and home, office or workplace and be present with yourself, to immerse yourself deeply in the expansive possiblities of life and love and truth. It is a grand and majestic place to be and I am deeply thankful for its presence and the journey which brings me back to this lovely village every year.

*If you are interested in learning more about this camp, go to