Thursday, April 28, 2011

When I Was Born

When I was born
When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream, a dream of revolt
that my mother, oppressed for thousands of years,
Still it is untouched in my eyes
Covered with wrinkles of thousand years, her face
her eyes, two lakes overflowing with tears
have watered my body
I remember she went for water at your well
a mile away scorched by the summer sun
breathless she returned home and what she offered me,
was not water
but her sweat.
You taught her respect:
‘brother, sir, father, mother, we are your children, let us live, father”
I remember
You allowed her not near the village well
You allowed her not near the village hall
You allowed her not near the letters
In the marshland of your cunningness
You trapped my mother and she struggled.
In your empire so violent
every moment my mother was slaughtered.
She will now breathe in a free air
Her body scorched by sun will get cool shade of neem
Your well will wash her feet and
Your village office will be her throne.
Your letters will become her weapons
Look, I am the lord of Saraswati who was thus far yours and yours alone.
I am the lord of Lakshmi who was thus far yours and yours only
My daughter pulls ears of Ganpati considering him an animal
I do not decorate her eyes with lampblack, but with defiance.
Now they will burn and burn
Your flats and tenements, your schools and your offices
Your chains and your police stations, your village offices and your temples.
I am the live coal , the coal that burns
In the hut that you set ablaze.
I have some wind of the freedom
Now I am the fire.
I remember
When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream,
A dream of revolt
That my mother ,
Oppressed for thousands of years dreamt.

G K Vankar's translation of Sahil Parmar's Gujarati poem "When I was born" from his poetry collection Mathaman.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Women have to understand that regardless of who does not want us we have to want ourselves. Self-love is the first and hardest rule to stick by. Women need to not abandon themselves in their quest for bliss and love. You can love yourself spiritually, physically, in almost any way anybody else can."

-Alice Walker

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Longing

How her spirit
Entices us all!

Will the time come
For my ideas to roam
Across this vast land’s deserts,
Through the caverns of the Empty Quarter?

For my voice to be sent forth,
Crying out in the stillness of a quiet people,
A voice among the voiceless?

For my thoughts, that hurl around
In a never-ending spiral,
To settle
Mature, grow and flourish
In a barren wasteland of shackled minds?
Will my spirit be set free—
To soar above the undulating palm fronds?
Will my essence and heart be unfettered,
Of man-made Thou Shall Nots?

-Nimah Ismail Nawwab

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Remember the distance or color does not matter but love matters a lot in life."

- The Little Prince

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Woman of Purpose

Hello My Sister
You are a Woman of Purpose
You need not roar as the world
You are anointed
Your voice is soft and non-threatening

Your words are kind yet firm
You are anointed
Your heart is full of love and wisdom
Your destiny is sure
You are anointed
Your hands extend across continents
Your actions and decisions influence multitudes
You are anointed
Yet your soul only belongs to …One

God Almighty
She anoints you
God alone holds the strings to which you dance
live…move…and have your very being
She empowers you

Therefore go! Change the world
Fulfill the purpose for which you were created
You are Anointed with Power!

God has a purpose for your life. Even if you are far away
from being what She has called you to be, you are still important to Her.

Please know and remember you matter, you count, you are valuable and loved.

Written by: Nikki

Friday, April 22, 2011

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."

-Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ready For Love

Death and Resurrection

Yards and yards
Of heavy black serge
Covered every inch of me
Save face and hands
Not a curve
Not a limb
Not a hint
Of my beautiful
Could be seen.

No wind
Could blow through my hair
Swirl my skirts
Around my thighs.
Warm moist earth
Never ticked
My firmly-shod feet.
Thus was I bound
Bride of Christ.
For twenty-five youthful years,
The male magisterium
Male theologians
Male spiritual directors
Properly dressed
My body
And my soul.

Then God the Mother
Released me
Sensual woman
Earthy woman
Beautiful woman
Am good.

-Marcelline Niemann

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who Said It Was Simple

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.

But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

-Audre Lorde

Monday, April 18, 2011


One version of this verse (the 49th of the Tae Te Ching) says: "I trust men of their word, and I trust liars. If I am true enough, I feel the heartbeats of others above my own." Whether you call it "judging" or "labeling," notice when you think of others as evil, lazy, dishonest, stupid or ugly. Then affirm: I see myself in this person, and I choose to be in a space of goodness rather than judgment. There's a Sanskrit word, Namaste, that can help you with this. When used as a greeting, it roughly translates to: "I honor the place in you where we are all one." So silently or verbally begin telling others "Namaste" in order to remind yourself to love everyone as your own children.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, Change your Thoughts - Change your Life: Living the Wisdome of the Tao (241)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sage

The sage has no fixed mind;
she is aware of the needs of others.

Those who are good she treats with goodness.
Those who are bad she also treats with goodness
because the nature of her being is good.

She is kind to the kind.
She is also kind to the unkind
because teh nature of her being is kindess.

She is faithful to the faithful;
she is also faithful to the unfaithful.
The sage lives in harmony with all below heaven.
She sees everything as her own self;
she loves everyone as her own child.

All people are drawn to her.
She behaves like a little child.

- Tao Te Ching, 49th verse

Saturday, April 16, 2011


"Love is blind. Friendship closes it's eyes."

-Helen Keller

Friday, April 15, 2011

Goddess Religion

"Goddess religion was earth-centered, not heaven-centered, of this world, not other worldly, body affirming not body-denying, holistic not dualistic. The Goddess was immanent, within every human being, not transcendent, and humanity was viewed as part of nature, death as a part of life. Her worship was sensual, celebrating the erotic, embracing all that was alive. The religious quest was above all for renewal, for the regeneration of life, and the Goddess was the life force."

- Patricia Lynn Reilly, Be Full of Yourself, (52)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Now I walk with my head in the stars
to keep my tears from falling."

-Grande Ecole

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Friendship after Love

is possible after friendship
friendship is not possible after love
medicines work before death
later nothing can be cured…."

- The Little Prince

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Short Skirt

My short skirt
is not an invitation
a provocation
an indication
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook

My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.

My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.

My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.
My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.

My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or undecided
or a malleable little girl.
My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.

My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.
My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women’s army
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina’s country.

My short skirt
is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summery festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is

But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it is
Mine. Mine. Mine.

-Eve Ensler

Monday, April 11, 2011


"Why does sex lead to such violence and hypocrisy over matters that are no more than a tempest in a teapot?"

- Exterminating Angels

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Twelve Steps for Muslims

1.We admitted that we were neglectful of our higher selves and that our lives have become unmanageable.

2.We came to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.

3.We made a decision to submit our will to the will of Allah.

4.We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

5.We admitted to Allah and to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.Asking Allah for right guidance, we became willing and open for change, ready to have Allah remove our defects of character.

7.We humbly ask Allah to remove our shortcomings.

8.We made a list of persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11.We sought through Salaat* and Iqraa* to improve our understanding of Taqwa* and Ihsan.*

12.Having increased our level of Iman (faith) and Taqwa, as a result of applying these steps, we carried this message to humanity and began practicing these principles in all our affairs.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Recovery for Muslims

What is Millati Islami?

Millati Islami is a fellowship of men and women, joined together on the "Path of Peace". We share our experiences, strengths, and hopes while recovering from our active addiction to mind and mood altering substances.

We look to Allah (G-D) to guide us on Millati Islami (the Path of Peace). While recovering, we strive to become rightly guided Muslims, submitted our will and services to Allah.

Islam tells us clearly that the status of man in this world is that of an "Abd" (servant or 'slave'). We know that we must learn to be slaves and servants only to Allah and not slaves to mind and mood altering chemicals. We must also learn not to be slaves to people, places, things, and emotions.

Allah tells us that man is "Khalifa" (agent or inheritor of the earth). This means that Allah has entrusted us as human beings with custodianship of His creation. Our own bodies, minds and souls truly belong to Allah. They are only entrusted to us for a time. We are changed with their care while we have them in our possession.


In the Name of Allah The Compassionate, The Merciful

"Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner therein; and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause shares in its burden; and Allah has power over all things."

- (Quran 4:85)

We have sought to integrate the treatment requirements of both Al-Islam and the Twelve Step approach to recovery into a simultaneous program. Our personal thanks and appreciation goes to the Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous programs from which we borrowed. Just as Narcotics Anonymous was founded out of its need to be non-specific with regard to substance, so Millati Islami was born out of our need to be religiously specific with regard to spiritual principles.

Millati Islami, by G-d's will, (masha-Allah) offers a fresh perspective on age old ideas for treating our fallen human conditions. We pray further that it will serve as a model for successfully understanding and addressing the special problems encountered as recovering Muslims and substance abusers in a predominately non-Muslim society.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Take what you like. Leave the rest."

-Al-Anon saying

Thursday, April 7, 2011


by Charlotte Davis Kasl

Drug addiction, codependency, incest, compulsive eating, sex, gambling, and shopping - multitudes of people are using 12-step programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to recover from these problems. But beneath the surface of this massive movement, women are asking, is this really good for women? While female dissatisfaction with AA is not new (Jean Kirkpatrick founded Women for Sobriety in 1976), widespread questioning of these programs has only begun recently.

In workshops and group interviews, women repeatedly expressed fear about opening up the sacrosanct 12-step institution to scrutiny: "I'm afraid if we talk about this I'll lose something that helped me," or "I questioned the steps in my training program and they said I'd have to leave if I kept that up."

Women who question "the program," as it's often called, have been shamed, called resistant, and threatened with abandonment. They have been trained to believe that male models of nearly everything are better than whatever they might create for themselves.

Some women are grateful for what 12-step programs have given them: a generally available peer model providing support and understanding at no cost. Yet no one way works for everyone. The steps were formulated by a white, middle-class male in the 1930s; not surprisingly, they work to break down an overinflated ego, and put reliance on an all-powerful male God. But most women suffer from the lack of a healthy, aware ego, and need to strengthen their sense of self by affirming their own inner wisdom.

Research strongly suggests that alcohol addiction has links to genetic predisposition. A vital point that seems overlooked in AA is that in the case of nearly all substance abuse, the brain chemistry and the body ecology need extensive healing in order to prevent the protracted withdrawal syndrome of depression, anxiety, volatile emotions, and obsessive thinking that can last for years. Too often women endlessly attend groups, have psychotherapy, or take antidepressants when their emotions are actually being influenced by a chemical imbalance that could be helped by proper nutrition and exercise.

Other addictions and codependency (as well as the will to recover), are influenced by cultural oppression, which includes poverty, battering, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Treatment programs need to incorporate understanding - and advocacy - regarding these concerns.

As a psychologist and former member of 12-step programs, I have encouraged women to write steps that resonate with their own inner selves, putting the focus on self- empowerment.

Here are the 12 steps (as published by AA World Services) followed by a critique and by some possible empowerment steps:

1. "We admitted we were powerless over [our addiction]-that our lives had become unmanageable." The purpose of this step is to crack through denial or an inflated ego and acknowledge a destructive problem. It can be helpful to say "I am powerless to change my partner," but many women abuse chemicals or stay in harmful relationships because they feel powerless in their lives. Thus, many women prefer to affirm that they have the power to choose not to use chemicals or have dependent relationships. So, alternatively:

We acknowledge we were out of control with but have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on others for our self-esteem and security.

2 . "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." I believe that spiritual power is neither higher nor lower but all pervasive. I would replace the passivity implied in this step - that something external will magically restore us to sanity - with "affirmative action"; I came to believe that the Universe/Goddess/ Great Spirit would awaken the healing wisdom within me if I opened myself to that power.

3. "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

This conjures up images of women passively submitting their lives to male doctors, teachers, ministers, often with devastating consequences. Instead: I declared myself willing to tune into my inner wisdom, to listen and act based upon these truths.

The following steps are grouped together here because they all ask women to focus on negative aspects of themselves:

4 . "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

5 . "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

6 . "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

7. "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

8 . "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

9. "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (All emphasis mine.)

We women need to make a searching and fearless inventory of how the culture has mired us down with guilt and shame, recognizing how hierarchy has harmed us, and how we have been complicit in harming ourselves - and only then look at how we have harmed others.

So, instead:

We examined our behavior and beliefs in the context of living in a hierarchal, male-dominated culture.

We shared with others the ways we have been harmed, harmed ourselves and others, striving to forgive ourselves and to change our behavior.

We admitted to our talents, strengths, and accomplishments, agreeing not to hide these qualities to protect others' egos.

We became willing to let go of our shame, guilt, and other behavior that prevents us from taking control of our lives and loving ourselves.

We took steps to clear out all negative feelings between us and other people by sharing grievances in a respectful way and making amends when appropriate.

10. "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." As one woman said in a group, "Admit that I'm wrong? I say that I'm wrong for breathing air. I need to say that I'm right for a change."

Continued to trust my reality, and when I was right promptly admitted it and refused to back down. We do not take responsibility for, analyze, or cover up the shortcomings of others.

11. "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." Instead of looking to an external power, women need to reach inside and ask, What do I believe, what feels right to me? For example: Sought through meditation and inner awareness the ability to listen to our inward calling and gain the will and wisdom to follow it.

12. "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [others], and to practice these principles in all our affairs." The desire to reach out to others is a natural step that comes with healing, but women need to remember to first care for and love themselves and then to give from choice, not from guilt, emptiness, or to prevent abandonment.

Most important is that we not identify ourselves with such labels as codependent or addict, or get stuck in chronic recovery as if we were constantly in need of fixing.

The goal is to heal and move on, embrace life's ups and downs, and move from recovery to discovery. Then we can break through the limitation imposed by hierarchy, work together for a just society, and free our capacity for courage, joy, power, and love.

(Source: Ms., November/December 1990)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rewritting the 12 Steps for Women

"We refuse to embrace any set of principles based on the belief in our fundamental sinfulness and defectiveness, or on the necessity of ego-deflation, humiliation, or the surrender of our natural impulses. Instead, we reframe them to reflect our commitment to self-celebration. For example, women are rewriting the Twelve Steps based on their belief in original goodness. Each step now answers the question, "What's good and right about us?" and affirms our natural impulse toward healing and wholeness.

Step 1 as written: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable.

As rewritten: I do not have all the resources I need to deal with my alcoholism. I have reached out for help to AA. This was a brave action on my own behalf. I celebrate my courage today.

Step 8 as written: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

As rewritten: I will make a list of all persons I have hurt in my life and all persons I have helped. I will take responsibility for my ineffective behaviors that have hurt others. I will celebrate my life-affirming behaviors that have supported others even in the most overwhelming moments of my addiction."

Step 11 as written: Sought through prayer ad meditation to improve our conscious contact with God was we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

As rewritten: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with ourselves, praying only for knowledge of our own deep wisdom and the willfullness to carry it out."

- Patricia Lynn Reilly, Be Full of Yourself (205, 208)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Healing Journey

"My healing journey began through a spiritual connection with the divine feminine. This "spiritual awakening" was instigated one evening in 1990 when I showed up at an Al-Anon meeting expecting to encounter the man of my latest obsession, and instead encountered that night's speaker. She spoke of her understanding of recovery and spirituality from a woman's perspective. She challenged the prevailing norms of recovery which were based on a masculine understanding of the divine. Before she finished speaking, I knew that I needed to work with this woman on my recovery.

She introduced me to the non-shaming, feminist approach she had developed to support women to work through the Twelve Steps. As I sat in women's circles with her, a deepening relationship with the divine feminine altered my entire cosmology including how I viewed myself, other women, the world I live in, the options available to me, and even my awareness and understanding of my own personal history. After years of what felt like fruitless effort, my vision and experience of life's possibilities expanded. I am grateful feminism came into my life one evening seven years ago when I was searching for yet another man to "save" me. Instead, I found the way home to myself in the company of women."

- Patricia Lynn Reilly, Be Full of Yourself, (56)

Friday, April 1, 2011


"The Buddhist monastic rules that advise renouncing liquor, renouncing sex, and so on are not pointing out that those things aer inherently bad or immoral, but that we use them as babysitters. We use them as a way to escape; we use them to try to get comfort and distract ourselves. The real thing that we renounce is the tenacious hope that we could be saved from being who we are. Renunciation is a teaching to inspire us to investigate what's happening every time we grab something because we can't stand to face what's coming."

-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart p 54