The Galadriel Test

Whether it's because of Hillary Clinton's candidacy, or because I recently saw Wicked, possibly both, I've been thinking a lot about women and power.

Not so much about the ‘why's' and ‘what it looks like‘ which Psyche's 2nd task addresses…

But rather, what do we as women do, when we have power, as did Glinda the Good, and Leah's sister Rachel?

As we learn from The Lord of the Rings, the Ring itself symbolizing power — no matter how much we may desire to do good, once we have the power to do good, this power can corrupt us.

Cate_blanchett_lady_galadriel

For example, do you remember when Frodo, encouraged by Lady Galadriel's goodness and wisdom, offers her the Ring?

She wants to accept it, oh, how she wants it, saying:

I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer.
And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely!
In place of a Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.
And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!
Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning!
Stronger than the foundations of the earth.
All shall love me and despair!

Galadriel then lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore and stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful.

Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.

‘I pass the test,' she said.”

When we believe we are Rachel, and we all do in some contexts, what do we do with the power that redounds to us? How do we safeguard ourselves from corruption?

For women that are mothers and/or teachers, haven't we had the opportunity to make those in our care worship us? To love us and despair! All mothers and teachers have this power. How do we wield it?

How does the power handed to us change as we move from our 20's to our 30's, 40's to our 50's to our 60's?

Did Glinda the Good's power corrupt her? How?

Following up on Stacey P's comments regarding the double entendre in the lyrics ‘For Good', does the power we wield change people for the better, or just ‘for good'?

When was your last Galadriel test?

How did you do?

Why I Like Wicked

It's been nearly three years since my friend Vanessa introduced me to the music of Wicked, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz about two young witches, Elphaba and Glinda, who came to be the Wicked Witch of the West, and The Good Witch of the North, respectively.

I finally saw it last month; it was worth the wait.

Wickedposter

There is so much I could say, but here are the highlights, including a special YouTube treat:

1) Elphaba = Leah. Though clearly more talented than Glinda, because no one thinks her so, except those that want to use her, Elphaba feels undervalued and isolated. What would have happened if she could have believed, and others had believed, especially her parents and teachers, that she was Rachel? Would she have become The Wicked Witch of the West? Likely not.

Do we as parents, teachers, friends, family ever contribute to those in our care believing they are Leah?

2) Glinda = Rachel. I often talk of remembering we are Rachel, yet Wicked taught me that there are women who happily haven't forgotten. It also prompted the realization that just as Leah has her light side (stretching and striving), there can be a dark side to Rachel (being corrupted by the power and privilege that redounds to Rachel).

When in a situation in which we are beloved, as was Glinda the Good Witch, do we ever pull a Popular? Do we become so enamored with the fairy godmother persona that we inadvertently demean others? Can we guard against this corruption?

3) For Good, which celebrates the friendship of Elphaba and Glinda, could also be a systergy anthem. Listen to the lyrics as Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, the original stars, rehearse; I'll be curious to hear if you agree.

Who has changed your life for good? Have you seen Wicked? What were your highlights?

Thank Heaven for Little Rachels

My daughter Miranda turns 7 years-old today.

Miranda_7_years_copy

When I look at this photo of her (taken by LaNola Kathleen Stone), I can't help but be grateful.

For when I observe Miranda, and most young girls (remember Connie Talbot), I feel as if I am watching Rachel.

Miranda relishes being a girl.

She is generous.
She is compassionate.
AND
She is capable and confident.

Most little girls know they are Rachel, but then we forget.

As we invite them into our world, we can re-learn this truth.

Thank heaven for little Rachels.

Rachel, Leah and “So You Think You Can Dance”

Pop Quiz:

What percentage of dance students throughout the world are girls?

I'm going to guess 9 out of 10, or 90%.

How many of the teachers from L.A.'s inner-city schools that attended the So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) workshop were women?

I'm estimating 7 out of 10, or 70%.

How many of the SYTYCD choreographers this season were women?

Roughly 4 out of 19, about 20%.

Of the eight choreographers invited to choose their favorite dance, how many were women?

1 in 8, or 12.5%.

Which of the dances did the judges regard as the most profoundly moving?

A dance choreographed by one of the women, Mia Michaels.

Some of you may say, Wake up Whitney, it's a man's world. Women would like to choreograph, to have a say within their professional community, but they just can't break in.

But, but, but… we're not talking about technology, we're talking about dance, a field in which women are trained to dance, to choreograph, to critique.

So I only buy part of this argument.

If we have a gift for and love to do something, and we don't pursue that something, don't we bear some responsibility for our not breaking in, breaking through, for allowing our Leah to remain in the building?

Choosing to be Rachel is not easy, at least not for me. I seem to ask Leah to leave nearly every day.

But when you and I make the choice to move away from Leah toward Rachel, just think of what we can do, what we can create, of the stories we will tell.

Stories like those told by Mia Michaels.

What do you have a gift for, that you love to do, that you aren't pursuing?

Why?

Do you really not want to, or is society telling you not to?


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