June 26, 2012
I recently had the opportunity to speak at a fundraising event for Habitat, an organization with which I feel a real kinship. Not only do they provide affordable housing to worthy citizens but, within that framework (pun intended!), the Cameco Women’s Build has constructed 4 homes exclusively with female labour over the past few years. I am proud to have participated in each of the 4 builds and have also sponsored a day with two friends.
Part of the sponsorship involves filling the building roster. Many of the women we invited were reluctant, mentioning a sore wrist or a trick knee. I can’t say I blame them – building a house is certainly foreign to most women I know and something that we leave to the men, because after all they are the experts right?
Those that we convinced to come out walked hesitantly from their cars to the site on our building day. Arms crossed, they listened to the foreman give directions. Our foreman described our duties – we were going to be mudding drywall.
“Start by taking the trowel down the seam and feather out the mud,” he said. One woman brightened and said, “That is just like icing a cake!” Then he instructed us on how to get the mud into the corners and blend out from there. One of the other women commented that this was familiar territory, almost like applying make-up. One-by-one we watched our friends noticeably relax. Arms were no longer crossed and they were open and eager to learn.
We were then assigned to posts where everyone bonded as they gained confidence with their newfound skills. We started telling jokes as only women can and made our foreman blush. One of our gay friends spent the whole day mudding the inside of a closet. This gave us ample material about her need to ‘come on out of that closet’ already! We were bonding over drywall like we would over a coffee.
By the end of the day, the women left walking a little taller, more confident than they were just hours before, and with a little spring in their step. Flexing their new found physical and psychological muscles on the way to their cars, it was a contrast to the women who hesitantly walked up to the site that morning.
Certainly it felt good to have contributed to a great cause, but they also felt better about themselves and their accomplishments. Why is that? One could be cynical and say it’s because they didn’t have their husbands looking over their shoulders telling them what they were doing wrong and instead were free to learn on their own. I think it’s so much more than that. Each of these women had stepped outside of the Feminine Energy where they live their lives and instead stepped firmly into the territory of Masculine Energy. And when we do that…Baby it feels good.
To fully reach our potential, we all need to do the same – men should embrace their Feminine Energy and women, their Masculine Energy. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around when we’ve been labelled one gender or the other at birth because, when you think about it, our gender is the most significant contributor to our identity. It’s common for people to take sides when discussing gender, making one more right than the other. The truth is that each of us is comprised of two energies, Masculine and Feminine and by using and embracing both we can gain the most personal satisfaction and professional achievement.
Masculine Energy is independent. Self-sufficient. Directive. Action-oriented. Masculine Energy gets things done. Feminine Energy is consensual, collaborative, relaxed and creative. It brings about ideas from which things flow. Without the Feminine, we have action without purpose and without the Masculine, we have ideas which will never take flight. We identify so strongly with our sex that it’s easy to stay there but if we do that, we’re like a bird flying with only one wing. We’ll only use half the energy available to use and we’ll get grounded fast.
I recently had an experience where I got to see first-hand how this one-wing, one-energy approach works (or, in all actuality, doesn’t) when my daughter and I traveled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) last year. The country is tribal and male-dominated with solidarity amongst the men who believe women to be a source of…are you ready for it…poison.
While there, we took a boat down the Septic River, the third largest river system in the world. Each day we got off and visited a different settlement. Most times we’d be met by excited locals but on one particular day, the village was hushed. A tribal leader stepped forward and motioned us to the long house. Once there, we watched the young men of the village emerge one by one. Naked except for a few leaves strategically placed and war paint on their faces, they walked gingerly as their bodies were covered in fresh wounds.
The night before, the Shaman of the village had taken razor sharp edges of palm and cut their skin with the markings of the crocodile then rubbed downward on the wound so he could fill the gapping orifice with mud. When the wound heals, the scars will resemble a crocodile and they will have eradicated their mother’s blood. Only then will they be considered a true man.
PNG is a country that is stuck, unable to move forward because it is so out of balance. The crime, violence and death rate is high while the education and living standard levels are low. They live a stone-age existence.
The women of PNG would not be allowed to build at a Habitat House. Their Feminine Energy would be considered a pollutant to the Masculine job site. Their husbands certainly wouldn’t bring donuts and coffee to the women workers as our husband’s did. It would have been viewed as a weakening of their Masculinity to do so. And most definitely their foreman wouldn’t knit in his spare time in front of his TV as ours confessed to doing.
This brings us to an important point. If you are a man, accepting your Feminine Energy doesn’t mean that you have to go to the spa or light scented candles. It means that you accept femininity as a valuable part of your being. Once you accept it within yourself, you’ll find it easier to accept it in others as well. This will give you a greater number of tools to draw from each day and a greater understanding of the opposite sex. If you are a woman, developing your opposite can be as simple as participating in a women’s build with Habitat!
For both sexes, embracing your Opposite Energy will allow you to live to your full potential. It will bring you happiness and higher self-esteem. I see it as an opportunity to help evolve our species and Habitat is giving us a venue to make that happen. It’s time to build!