Changing Paradigms

Changing Paradigms

25 January 2017

 

Hello my wordpress blog friends. So sorry I have not been able to read so many of your posts since a few weeks now for those whom I follow and who follow me. I hope you will enjoy this short prayer which I offer in exchange for not having visited you.

I wish for you an interesting journey throughout the year watching how things unfold in clarity, in truth and in integrity as the Earth shifts towards new paradigms and new energies.

My best wishes to you all and may this year bring all that your souls need and the greatest blessings that your heart desires.

Reading of the prayer: 

christian-schloe-gentle-wings
Courtesy Christian Schloe

 

The taste of Heaven

The taste of Heaven

9 July 2016

tomatoes pinterest com 2.jpg
Courtesy pinterest.com

 

She had a way with the city’s streets, always choosing those which were less crowded yet where she could find things that people left out of their apartments for lack of space as they bought newer and trendier things. She never could understand how people could throw away such useful and sometimes even beautiful items. She even once found a lovely mother-of-pearl comb with only two broken teeth and it amused her as she touched the matching empty spaces in between her own. She cackled to herself at this amazing coincidence while she pocketed the comb. “You were made for me dearie” she said her shoulders still shaking with mirth as she made her way through the rest of the contents of the bin where she had found it. Nothing more which she could use she thought to herself and moved on to the next doorstep.

 

A man opened the door suddenly and started yelling at her to go away so they would not have such bad luck any more in those streets. “It’s all your fault old hag with your evil eye and brooding ways” he yelled at her disappearing figure. She walked hurriedly on thinking that it was not so much bad luck as bad blood. “Those youngsters in the neighbourhood, pff”, she muttered to herself. Somebody should have set them right long ago when the first ones started slinging mud on houses and pulling girls skirts if they ventured out alone, she thought. If someone had had the courage to do so when they were first trying their luck, it would never have come to this.

 

She did not care much as she was always safe in her hiding place when the gang boys came out at night looking for a fight. Sometimes she would watch from the roof of a neighbouring building as they taunted people and stole money from street vendors. Most vendors had given up trying to sell anything during the night but the busy streets of the city were always bustling with tourists and the cops were there so they could make so much more than during the day where they would have to bear the heat and barely have 5 customers in a day. It was when they went back home through the badly lit streets of the suburbs where no policemen dared to venture during the night that they risked the most, yet some were daring enough to attempt it. Some wise enough to know how to find their way like her would stay and sleep in secluded spots throughout the city during the night and only venture back home during daytime. If they were lucky, the police patrols did not catch them and lock them in for the day. Not that they cared about going to jail but they were sure that what they had saved from the gang boys would definitely be split amongst the cops at the jail and they would not be any better. It would come as no surprise that most of them always slept with one eye open, ready to spring to their feet and run if any policemen were to spot them.

 

She suddenly stopped in the middle of her thoughts that trailed away when she realised that she had reached a part of the suburbs that she should not be in at this time of the day. Stupid old hag, she muttered to herself disparagingly. She could not believe how she had let her thoughts run wild to the extent that she was now in this mess. With all those thoughts about the city, her legs had automatically adapted to her mind and she had actually walked out of the suburbs and to the edge of the tourist zone. It was almost sunset and it would take her almost two hours to get back to her hiding place even if she walked quickly and she knew she could no longer maintain that pace at her age. She looked around instantly identifying all the alternate hiding places but she knew she would not really be safe there as the gang boys used them too when they sat lurking waiting for the adventurous vendors returning home with their treasures after a good day’s work.

 

She realised she did not have a choice now anyway and made her way to the first of the hiding places. Her stomach was growling as she had not found any food nor had she met any vendor kind enough to offer her some of the leftovers from the day’s work. Most vendors knew her as she had been the local teacher for years before she retired and many who had been her pupils were grateful and would offer her some food. Not the choice morsels of course but those remaining at the end of the day that no customer would have wanted. She never complained anyway and was grateful for their kindness. When her only son had married, he had continued staying with her but after his death his widow had chased her out of the house and she had taken to the streets. The widow was known to have been making merry with one of the local policemen even before her husband had died so the old lady knew it would be pointless to complain.

 

The streetlights fluttered before lighting casting a long shadow of her solitary figure. She slunk back into the darkness and made her way through the rubble of a torn-down building to where the first hiding place was. As she opened the gate of a run-down building behind the one fallen, she realised that she was not the only one who had chosen this spot. A cigarette glowed in the dark and the smell of tobacco filled the air. “What you doing here, oldie pants, you has a death wish tonight” quizzed a voice and a few others snickered. She recognized the voice of the leader of the gang boys. She knew him well as she had observed him many times from afar while he led his gang. She had known his parents too as they had both attended her school and been childhood sweethearts. She had witnessed them going from childish love to ecstatic adult love and they had eloped when the girl was pregnant as they could not afford a marriage. After their son was born, things had changed drastically as she had become an occasional hooker to pay for their expenses and he resented it but was not able to find enough money through his vendor job. To compensate for their dire circumstances they both smoked extensively and were high almost all the time but ultimately died of lead poisoning as they had been buying altered weed from an unscrupulous vendor who cut his weed with lead powder to make it heavier. The young boy had been placed in an orphanage before making it to a juvenile detention facility from which he escaped and then started the gang boys with a few pranksters who had left school and were loafing in the streets all day and terrorising the neighbourhood in the night.

 

She did not answer but thought the better of attempting to run as they would catch up with her in no time so just moved into the room where they were all sitting together huddled. She felt the young man rise to his feet. “I saying you has a death wish tonight”, he repeated inching closer to her. She could feel his stale breath and menacing stance and as her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness she could see that he was flexing his muscles, showing off to the pack that he was a true leader. “You mean to say you have a death wish tonight” she corrected almost automatically. He froze and she could now sense the pure anger in his body as he curled up his fist and looked like he was going to hit her. Instead he just pushed her on the floor and as she fell with a thud he started laughing hysterically pointing at her and looking back at his friends chanting repeatedly “granny’s be all mum, sitting on her bum”. She could feel the searing pain in her hip and thought she must have cracked it when she fell down. Tears welled in her eyes but she continued “you mean granny will be all mum”. The young man’s jaw dropped open and although she knew this was going to get her a beating if not worse, she simply could not feel any fear any longer. Her hip was throbbing painfully but that was all she felt.

 

The young man rushed to her and yanked her to her feet yelling at her that he was going to f… kill her now as she could not just stay down and stay quiet like grannies were meant to. She looked at him calmly her face inches from his and told him that his granny had never been quiet. In fact, she and her had been good friends and very talkative ones, she said, so it was sad that her friend’s grandson was doing this. He recoiled at this as if she had been a cobra who struck him. “You lying grannie pants” he said with attempted sneering but his voice was shaking. He had no memories of a grandmother and even those memories of his parents were so distant he was not sure whether it was real or just a dream. “I am not lying, it is the truth, she said, and I knew your parents too”. One of the boys from the gang yelled out “She telling the truth DH, she been a teacher and all. The whole town gone to school with her”. “Shut ya trap”, DH yelled back. He seemed to calm down though and then realised that she seemed to be standing crookedly. “What you got now” he snarled at her. “I think my hip is broken” she said wincing as she attempted to stand on her other foot to relieve the side of her hip where the pain was searing. He made a sign to the other boys and all of a sudden she found herself lifted in the airs. They carried her out to DH’s car and took her to the city’s hospital where they left her in the waiting room. Before the nurse could ask them anything they had taken off as quickly as they had rushed her in.

 

The next day, she was resting in the ward with a dozen other patients who were too poor to afford private rooms when she heard the door creak open. She wondered who it was as all the day staff was still sleeping and the night shift had not bothered much about them after their first two rounds. It was DH and he was carrying a small plastic bag. She sized him up and realised that he looked so young and forlorn in the early daylight, not at all the menacing thug of the night before. She felt sad as she thought back to her days with his grandmother who had been a good friend of hers and yet was glad that she was no more so she would not see what had become of her only grandson.

 

DH slunk into the room shiftily looking around and making sure nobody from the staff was around. She wondered what had brought him here again. When the gang boys had first brought her to the hospital she had realised that DH felt some remorse at having broken her hip and wanted to make amends but she was not sure why he had come back. She looked at him blankly as he reached into the plastic bag. Slowly he took out with a hardly suppressed pride a few red juicy tomatoes and presented them to her. “Eat” he said. She almost snatched the first one from his hands and as her remaining teeth sunk into it, a smile lighted her face. He grinned a crooked grin and she realised that he was actually handsome under all that dirt. “What’s it tasting like” he asked? “The taste of Heaven” she answered with another smile as she took the remaining tomatoes from his hands and rested them on her lap. He grinned again sheepishly and said “I ain’t gonna push you no more grannie pants”. “I know” she said. He nodded and quickly left the room as he heard the hospital personnel slowly start their day. One patient next to her asked her if it was her grandson. She looked at her and thought to herself “well it could have been” and then nodded smilingly at her neighbour. She slowly stretched back on her side thinking it was nice to have a real bed to sleep in for once and drifted into slumber.

 

When the nurse came to check on all the patients, she found her in the same position. “You need to lay on your back again grannie” she told her but to no avail. On attempting to move her so she would lie flat on her back again the nurse realised that she was cold and rigid. She slowly turned her on her back and as she did so, she sensed before she saw small red items rolling on the floor from the grannie’s bed but she could not focus on them for she was mesmerised by the look on the old lady’s face. She seemed to have died in something close to an ecstatic moment and even death could not make her smile look ugly as it continued to light her face. She bent down and gathered the tomatoes muttering “must have been some tomatoes for you to be so happy grannie”. “Sure were” yelled the old lady’s neighbour, “she said they tasted like heaven”.

 

When DH came to know of grannie’s death, he was guilt-ridden thinking it was the broken hip that had caused it but the gang boys found out from the cops that she had actually died of a natural death. He attended her funeral from far and that night, all the gang boys were busy with the earth on grannie’s grave. The graveyard keeper who was watching to see whether they were gravediggers was astounded to see them actually pack soil on the grave and throw something into the soil. He watched as night after night they watered the soil and decided he would find out what they were up to but was bed-ridden for a week and could not follow their antics anymore. When he finally resumed his graveyard shifts, he realised to his surprise that they had been growing tomatoes on the old lady’s grave. One night, he even saw the leader of the gang boys crouching over the grave and as he moved closer within earshot, he heard him say “I hope you tasting them grannie and they be still like heaven”.

 

You Say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Tomato’ – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

 

Dear WordPress family and friends, some tips for you and a small favour I ask

Dear WordPress family and friends, some tips for you and a small favour I ask

17 January 2016

You must have noticed that WP has put in a lot of changes that can get some of you frustrated asking for the old panel back to work on your posts. Some kind bloggers have explained that this is available from the dashboard (WP Admin of your wordpress window) before I was able to respond and thanks to them a lot of people have reintegrated the old editing mode they were comfortable with.

Pictures on how to integrate the old mode of posting for those who were more comfortable with the old options feature below. If you start a new blog post from anywhere else, you will end up only with the new functionality. Last but not least if you want selective sharing without having to de-link your various social media presences from your blog, you can first save the post as a draft in your old dashboard format and then reopen it in the new functionality which allows you to tick off some social media for that post only and without de-linking unlike the old posting mode.

As part of the sweeping changes, you might have noticed like me that many notifications on comments people have made on your posts are not reaching you. This can be remedied by visiting the same dashboard and choosing the option comments which then shows you all the existing comments and allows you to answer those that you have visibly missed out.

When publishing, you have the option of publishing as standard publishing or you can publish as a link which then forces the person reading you to go to your website to read the whole article rather than in the reader.

Usually this link method is used by those who are concerned with statistics and performance of their blog but probably many of you may be using the link version without knowing this difference and without even the intention of increasing their stats. I personally use the standard method to create the least hassle possible for those reading.

I have just one small favour to ask from those of you who read my posts and whom I follow back and read and that is that you publish as standard instead of as a link if you don’t mind and are not too concerned about your stats. I love reading all of you and have even resorted to a daily or weekly email digest of your reading because of my reducing time to read but when you choose the option to publish as a link, I cannot read you from my email but have to open all the websites one by one and I am really following many people, too many to open all their websites without hassle.

For those interested, note that from the reader, you can choose the option manage for the blogs you follow and subscribe either to instant, daily or weekly emails for the main post of the blog or for the related comments (picture below as well).

I understand that it might be a big sacrifice for those who are keen on statistics but have to say that I will unfortunately not be able to read you for a long time if you publish as a link and will be sad to miss out on your updates. Aside from the email version, the WP reader also allows one to read with minimum pain in switching between full post and reduced post when you publish as a standard format. When you publish as a link, this is no longer possible.

Most of you publish the standard way thankfully and I am ever so grateful to be able to read you with simple browsing and enjoy your posts. Keep blogging and keep shining with my best wishes for a wonderful 2016 on blogosphere.

IMG_2316 IMG_2317

IMG_2318 WP pic

 

Especially for my friend Shiva Malekopmath:

Adding a new post in the new posting facility (best to start from an actual page of your blog)

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This is the little icon that you pres on to add your reading of your poem

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You choose the option Add new and then choose the directory where you have saved your reading in your local disk then upload that

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My readings are in the format m4a which is apparently the automatic format under which iphone saves all recorded memos.

I hope this works for you Shiva 🙂

A promise whirls wind

A promise whirls wind

1 December 2015

 

whirl dorian valejo pinterest com
Courtesy pinterest.com

 

 

The reeking trees bark

Whispers of life in fading

Airborne breath of leaves

 

Scattering sunrise

Hushed moments of late dewdrops

Wrestling with bubbles

 

nymph geocities ws 2
Courtesy geocities.ws

 

 

A swarm of blackbirds

Heaved and fled for deception

Crows for nightingale

 

dance evelynalinoskycoaching com (2)
Courtesy evelynalinoskycoaching.com

 

 

A promise whirls wind

Within howling desert scenes

That gathered tempests

 

Parched earth cracked a smile

Its hollow insides swept dry

The splintering rain

 

Courtesy fotoblur.com
Courtesy fotoblur.com

 

All the promises – Skye

A Journey of no return

A Journey of no return

29 November 2015

journey horizons332 rssing com
Courtesy horizons332.rssing.com

 

 

Tireless feet move

Anticipated rising

Woodworks hush the call

 

Intricate weavings

Tapestries heave, fall apart

The needle’s tremors

 

Sun in the zenith

Bellows with a thousand rays

Freckled shards’ yellow

 

(c) Salford Museum & Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Salford Museum & Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

A belly growls low

Tides of a million answer

The great floods prepare

 

A head out of will

Reaches out from yonder stones

All for the keeping

 

Winterlands will foam

Bubbles of a crimson sea

As the shores beckon

 

journey flickr com
Courtesy Flickr.com

 

Icy with ravens

Black kingdoms rise in deserts

The breathing sands’ tombs

 

Flutters in Temples

Eyes staring at white ceilings

The curse of the sight

 

Of many the brave

A Journey of no return

Hails the inner flesh

 

journey thetimes co uk
Courtesy thetimes.co.uk

 

 

Empire of Angels – Thomas Bergersen

Fearless – Thomas Bergersen / The Dance of Colours

Immortal – Thomas Bergersen

Final Frontier – Thomas Bergersen

Starchild – Thomas Bergersen

Emergence – Thomas Bergersen

 

 

 

 

The Numbing down of Monogamy

The Numbing down of Monogamy

27 August 2015

monogamy livescience com
Courtesy livescience.com

 

 

Monogamy is perhaps the worst deterrent to Love in its absolute form – save for a few exceptions.

 

Provocatively placed at the onset of these written thoughts, I have no doubt that such a statement would cause the worst of uproars among those stilted minds reading it with a disapproving, foreboding stance. Yet how to elude the inescapable essence of that reality? For those still doubting, let me provoke you a little more and jolt you into doubt that you may find your own reality within these meanders.

 

We are born single, free to unite or remain (perhaps return) separate as we go through life tumbling, evolving, devolving, searching, finding, losing and finding again. Some of us are born with an imbedded link of a twin person who might have occupied our egg or a neighbouring one and some of us are even born so bonded that it is necessary to surgically remove that bond at birth like in the case of Siamese twins. For those born with that sense of togetherness, they usually naturally evolve towards the sense of needing another person to feel complete while for those born separate, the sense of togetherness is brought upon them by upbringing starting first with the family and then with the larger society around them.

 

Our sense of togetherness is often shaped in little practical formats that society finds convenient: the Mother (respectively Father) and the Child, the Teacher and the Student, the Lover and the Beloved, the Husband and the Wife, etc. Whilst most of the pairs thus formed and inculcated to us as a binding reality could actually come to us as a natural occurrence, the one that is the least natural is that of the Husband and the Wife (sometimes the Lover and the Beloved). Yet it is that pair that is the most lauded and sung in all alphabets and measures of voice and absence of voice through music or written word. It would seem that society wants us to believe that this is the ultimate pair that would indicate to us our purpose in adulthood and the ultimate emanation of Love as we should experience it throughout our adult life. How then to explain the number of people who bond and break, unite and separate, get together and then break up?

 

My personal take on the matter of togetherness is that we are – with rare exceptions – not meant to be monogamous beings because monogamy is not a heartfelt inclination but merely a social diktat, something that is necessary to hold in place the required family unit that builds the texture of society as a whole. Society needs definitions, it needs a sense of property and propriety and therefore requires the drawing of lines both visible and invisible that will allow it to thrive within a set of finite restrictions.

 

In reality, we are meant to experience Life and Love as a major component of that Life in an unrestricted and holistic manner in order to reach a degree of completeness whereby we are finally prepared to be One with all that is around us. While most of the time this can be done on a purely theoretical (sometimes energetic) level, depending on our stage of evolution it may also include the physical or carnal level. Unfortunately, monogamy in its generic form does not allow for the pursuit of this completeness and therefore of the realisation of the various forms of Love because it binds a person to a chosen other person who more often than not may not correspond to the stage of evolution the other person is in. Often, even when chosen by oneself (the case of choice by parents and extended family being a fairly more poignant one), a partner may not evolve in the same way or never have been at the same level of evolution in the first place. In such cases, one finds oneself bound by social rules to a person one cannot relate with on a spiritual (or sometimes even a physical) level while many opportunities may present themselves to relate to another person who happens to be at the same stage of evolution and would have a very rich palette of possibilities to offer.

 

We yearn for certain elements of life or characteristics that we find in ourselves and that we would like to see mirrored or that we lack and that we would like to view, observe and acquire from the other. It is seldom the case that we feel fully complete from the beginning and therefore this research of completing qualities is something that haunts and pulls us through life on a continuous basis. Every time we reach a sense of completeness with a given person, something else may come up and we may realise that this new quality, this new element that reaches into us is something we cannot do without, that we yearn for beyond what we thought we had felt as full satisfaction initially with the first person we had bonded with.

When a person who is in a monogamous couple is faced with such a situation, there are two possibilities that present themselves to him/her: cheat (whether physically or merely emotionally) on the person they are with because this new element is something they cannot do without and their partner will never acquire it although the current partner may have other essential elements the person still needs or leave the other partner to form a couple with the newly found partner because the new element (or series of elements) can fully replace the old series of elements or is more of a vital nature to the person’s being at that stage of his/her Life. Of course there are the less widespread cases of the third choice where the partner is willing to allow the installation of a new kind of union where a loose Trinity is formed although the matter becomes more complicated where it is more than a Trinity.

 

Monogamy does not allow us to freely relate to others because it comes invariably with the sense of property that has been engrained into us by society. Lovers and spouses usually feel compelled to begin or continue their declaration of Love through various assurances or statements that could almost read as veiled (or sometimes even clear) threats. This could range from the simple “I love you and only you”, “you are my only sunshine”, “nobody else than you is in my heart” to the more oppressive “You are mine”, “I will never let you go”, “I will kill anyone who lays a finger upon you” and “I will kill myself if you leave me”. This sense of property then makes it impossible to feel free in relating to others and therefore ends up numbing one to the potentiality of growth offered by a free interaction with others. Like in the example of the eye within the tomb watching Cain, monogamy with its sense of property and propriety halts the free expression of the heart and body only filtering through those relationships to others that do not breach the restrictive tight walls of ownership that is woven by the bond of monogamy.

 

Does this mean that I believe that one should live in a frenzy of multiple partners changing and exchanging them as one evolves? Not really. I firmly believe that it is necessary to be able to relate with others on various levels and that sometimes this could include a romantic involvement. There is, however, not so much a moral code but rather a sense of not wanting to cause damage to another soul and therefore the obligation of retaining as sacred the other’s codes of conduct and values. If one wants to be in a socially sanctioned relationship, one should respect that relationship and abide by the rules that it is set in. If the other party to the relationship has a wider perspective on belonging and interaction with others, then it would be possible with proper consent obtained beforehand for each to experience a different sense of togetherness with others whether purely on a spiritual/intellectual level or also on a more physical/carnal level. Such experiences are however very delicate to go through because we are conditioned to believe in the necessity of monogamy and a unique couple as being the pillar to a sane and acceptable relationship.

 

As to the exceptions, they involve the situations of those who are lucky enough to find at an early stage the person who gives them a sense of completeness right from the start. A person who might not necessarily mirror all their qualities/defects or have the whole set of additional qualities that the person may seek to acquire but who has almost all the required qualities/elements and is at the same stage of evolution and continues to be so as time goes by. Needless to say such relationships are very rare and even rarer when a person is at a young stage of his/her life. Such relationships when they exist are a blessing and funnily enough in most of them it would seem that one does not feel inclined to abide by the rules of monogamy although they often do not require physical/carnal interaction with others. It is almost as if when you are with the right person, it is not necessary to set down any rules on transgression of the boundaries because there is no longer a reason for transgression simply because there are no boundaries and the evolution maintains its path towards infinity.

 

We live, we love, we experience and we grow. As we grow, so does our bond to everything around us grow and the less we are concentrated on the necessity of monogamy the more we realise that our capacity to love and share love is infinitely expanding within and without us pervading more than our little selves and the humanity around us. Unfortunately, it would seem that until the point in time that we are able to fully transcend the Earthly notions of Love that have been pressed upon us, we will always be subject to the tug-o-war between the dutiful sense of Monogamy and the versatile sense of Polyamory in our quest for completeness.

monogamy chicagoreader com monogamy themattwalshblog com

Images respectively courtesy of chicagoreader.com and themattwalshblog.com

Below a series of thought provoking videos on the social side  of the issue of polyamory (whether polygamy or polyandry)

Society as a whole including its corporate and political structure has a responsibility towards women and the future generation

Society as a whole including its corporate and political structure has a responsibility towards women and the future generation

19 August 2015

Courtesy huffingtonpost.com - Karen does it all
Courtesy huffingtonpost.com – Karen does it all

A while ago my caretaker had to bring her son home as he was slightly ill and with her limited means she could of course not afford paying a nanny to keep her son and the kindergarten would not take her son as long as he was ill. We had therefore agreed that she could bring him to my house and he would sit in my younger son’s room playing with his toys while she tended to her duties at my house. I had many things that needed to be tended to and found that her son was competing with me for her attention which got me slightly irritated initially. I quickly put myself on check, however, as I remembered how I would have loved – as a young mother – to be able to tend to my sick children or at least have an appropriate structure where I could check on them instead of leaving them alone with a chance nanny from the red crescent (as was the usage in Geneva at the time when the usual kindergartens refused your sick children).

Now why do I recount this anecdote to you? Not to do my “mea culpa” only although I did feel guilty at the time to have had that moment of irritation but to spur thoughts on the wider phenomenon that women face in their daily lives.

It is a fact that is undeniable today. Women are and need to be in the workplace. This is not a debate about whether women should stay at home and accept what can often be a social stigma of being simply a “homemaker” (often uttered with some contempt and perhaps an unconscious undertone of envy by women when meeting socially the “homemaker”) or whether they should embrace fully a career and let go of their households to be run by nannies nor even is it a plea to women to attempt alone to balance both lives harmoniously.

Indeed, this is simply not possible for women to do alone anymore. I have heard countless stories of feelings of abandonment, of hopelessness and of inadequacy from women whom I believed from the outside to be successful career women while running a household adequately for their families. I myself struggled at onset of my career with a very hostile and male dominated environment (in Geneva of all places!) as I toiled and cared alternating my attention between my work, my master of Science studies at the Geneva University and my two children that then became three. In doing this, not only was I not aided by some of my employers but in fact I was even stigmatised because of being a working mother who wanted to balance both.

During my time at Arthur Andersen for example I was sacked in December 1997because I wanted to make use of the policy which granted two additional months for breastfeeding to young mothers but my boss of the time felt (and told me so in advance) that I should not use the policy because it was a mistake in translation between the German policy that was spelt out by Zurich and the French version in Geneva where maternity fortuitously got included as illness. Despite having filed a claim for damages at the Prudhommes (court for compensation of employees who have been abusively dismissed) and proving that I was always a good employee and kept getting increments over the years of my work there but got dismissed summarily merely 9 days after sending a letter to HR with a breastfeeding certificate and mentioning that I would be making use of my extra two months of breastfeeding leave instead of coming back to the office after my two months of maternity leave, the Court ruled that there was no abusive dismissal. Later on more similar cases came to light but they were quickly smothered as Arthur Andersen was a giant at the time and after my claim HR circulated internally a memo to all employees asking them to sign off on the new translation of the Employee sickness leave policy. Needless to say I shed no tears when Arthur Anderson split apart after the Enron scandal.

This was not an isolated event in my career while always attempting to juggle between my work and my family responsibilities and in 2004 in connection with my second son and third child I had some unpleasant incidents with PricewaterhouseCoopers as well. My boss of the time had called me when I broke the “not so good news” to him and asked me how come I was having a third. He and the other partner had indeed asked me at my initial interview whether I intended to have another child before they hired me and I had honestly said that I did not intend to. Fortunately (but unfortunately on the professional level), I had my unexpected and unplanned third pregnancy and upon returning to the office what was my surprise to have my boss, the partner of the Geneva office and the Swiss-wide Zurich based partner of the practice meet me at my office and suggest to me not so delicately having a tubal ligation myself or encouraging my husband to undergo a vasectomy. The Zurich partner even volunteered to meet my husband and explain to him that this was not a painful procedure as he had undergone it himself and he then started explaining to me the actual procedure. After that humiliating incident I was also subject to taunts from my boss and his second in command as I was working “part-time” as they labelled it simply because I was again using an employee policy for breastfeeding which allowed a one-hour diminishing of the working hours for breastfeeding one’s child. I was therefore working 7 hours instead of the official 8 during the two months after my maternity leave but given that they were used to me working 10 hours or more before in order to sustain the rhythm of work at my level within the firm they believed I was now doing part-time while getting a full-time salary. That year and although I had been promised a promotion beforehand, I did not get the promotion and my evaluation took place as a very hostile encounter so it was clear that it was simply because my superiors believed that I had breached their trust and become a bad employee because I was trying to get some work life balance and making use of policies that officially granted rights to mothers within the workplace.

I am not recounting the above to get any commiseration from anyone nor even to muster all wrath at my previous employers but simply to point out the difficulties that women face in the workplace and I consider myself to have been a specially tough cookie to have been able to go through all of that and still make it as a mother and as a somewhat successful woman at work. In fact, as I recount this, I can already mentally calculate the number of ill-advised and socially irresponsible employers who are going to put me on their blacklist making sure that I never will become one of their employees even though I am no longer of the age to have children anymore. There is a professional stigma that goes with speaking out the truth about a previous employer even if it is to further a good cause such as promoting the cause of women in the workplace. Like with the mafia, there is a silent promise, an Omerta, that is maintained by employees and encouraged by employers to not speak about bad practices within the industry although it actually disserves the industry as a whole. The strength of this Omerta within a company allows to determine what kind of a company you are/have been working for. In fact, it actually showcases which are the truly enlightened and good employers and which are the bad ones because the truly good employers will always want to have someone who speaks up against bad policies while the bad employers will have problems with that because they simply would want to sweep the dirt under the rug so to speak. Worse still, some HR professionals have the bad taste of bad mouthing outspoken employees who point out bad practices within the organisation and sometimes even after they have left the organisation. Of course they would never mention the bad practices nor the fact that the employee in question spoke out on those bad practices but will simply create a rumour against that employee to discredit him/her.

Returning to the case in point, my case which I know and can talk about in detail is not an isolated one. There are countless women who battle every day in order to bring some balance or semblance of balance in their juggling of household and work responsibilities and for some it is a battle that is so exhausting that the result is either depression, burn-out or simply the choice of leaving the one or the other responsibility. More often than not, women naturally leave the work responsibility out when they can afford to do so. Social studies have come to recognise these undercurrents that cause women to drop out of the workforce and thereby deprive society of some very capable or even sometimes brilliant minds but the voices of those pointing this out are often drowned by the thunders of the waves of supporters of the all-time profit theory.

One might think that this talk is outdated and not applicable anymore but it actually is not. The more I speak with young women today the more I realise that the reality of this hostile landscape has not changed. In some cultures it has become just more subterranean and in others women suffer through it without uttering a word and then simply falling out of the workforce or falling out of the marriage because of the lack of support whether physical or moral from their spouses.

It is a sad reality that we are faced with still today. The workplace has failed women who often give their best years before they are faced by the dilemma arising from their motherhood and either fall out of the workplace or simply suffer through an unhappy existence both at work and at home.

This reality has to change on a deeper level than just assuming that it is for the spouse to help out and ensure that women are able to attain some sort of work-life balance. The responsibility lies not just with corporate entities but also with government bodies and society as a whole including its social framework put in place for assisting women at work.

My personal belief is that the right step towards ensuring a more balanced society and enabling women to achieve this work-life balance would start on many levels:

  • On the corporate entities’ level, there has to be an oversight system in place to ensure within the corporate governance of the entities that employee policies are actually being implemented properly and that gender discrimination is not merely a shining leitmotiv hung on the entities’ armouries but that it is an actual daily reality that the female workforce feel confident they can rely upon. Other than that, it would be most adequate and actually an incentive to make working mothers more productive if day care centres were systematically provided by the employer (if possible at reduced costs) within or nearby the premises of their workforce. Some employers do this and they should be lauded for this initiative which actually rewards them on the long term and sometimes even on the short and medium terms.
  • On the social framework level, consolidated structures would need to be put in place to ensure appropriate care is taken for the odd events in the life of a working woman such as day care that actually ensures a proper follow-up of sick children. Geneva has such a system through the red crescent although it is not the best one as there is no consistency in the quality of the persons sent nor is it possible to have the same person for the same neighbourhood to ensure the child in question does not have to face the fear of an unfamiliar face and the mother does not need to worry about whether good care will be provided to her child while she works. What is also lacking is the systematic introduction of a hotline that working mothers could resort to in order to get advice, tips on how to manage their responsibilities better or simply to have someone to talk to when they are feeling let down and helpless
  • On the government level, it is obvious that a more stringent legislation has to be put in place both on the positive side encouraging or even making mandatory employee policies that allow a humane environment for working mothers while maintaining the possibility for them to also have access to their rightly deserved promotions and on the negative side by punishing those corporate entities that have totem policies that they don’t encourage following on a practical level for women or perhaps – even worse – discourage implicitly their female workforce from having recourse to.
  • On the society’s level, a major point that would need to be considered is the stigmatisation of either of the homemaker or the career woman. Society needs to stop blaming the one or the other and making women feel miserable and caught in the “damned if you do damned if you don’t” spiral. Other minor points would be for example by encouraging working mothers who succeed and praising the outcome of their efforts or just a more supportive attitude towards colleagues who are working mothers instead of the raising of the eyebrows and hushed talks each time a woman simply has to tend to some unexpected emergency such as having to rush to school because her child was hurt/sick or to speak over the phone to check in on a sick child at home with an unfamiliar nanny he/she was scared of.
  • On the collective media cum regulatory level, it would be important to have a measure and be able to track indices that consistently showcase which employers are good employers enabling a proper integrating of working mothers within their ranks and which are the “bad” employers. Such indices could then be used within the criterion of being a Socially Responsible Employer. Investors would then have the choice of supporting or not a given entity based on its index of Social Responsibility that includes the vital data on the treatment of working mothers.

To finish on this, I would like to share a very poignant clip which to me just magnifies the symbolism of the bond of motherhood and the sense of sacrifice that is engrained in almost all women when it concerns their children. Too bad that society is more often than not reluctant to reward or even identify those sacrifices.

Meanwhile, while the wheels of change turn grimacing and clanking women continue to suffer in countless ways and have to make inhuman sacrifices in order to adapt to a workplace that continuously refuses to make the appropriate reforms to integrate them successfully.

At this point I would be inclined to say that current system as a whole has failed and continues to consistently fail women and thereby the next generation via this failure. As we see an aging European population and a young population elsewhere (mainly in third world countries), we realise that if the problem of women in the workplace is not solved adequately as a priority society as a whole will lose out and this will include the corporate profits aspect. Indeed, how could a society evolve and be profitable and successful if half of it is crippled by a reality that is simply not willing to allow it to start walking properly? The time has truly come for a change and hopefully the world is ready for that change. God knows that women have been long ready and waiting for it.

Meanwhile, while the wheels of change turn grimacing and clanking women continue to suffer in countless ways and have to make inhuman sacrifices in order to adapt to a workplace that continuously refuses to make the appropriate reforms to integrate them successfully.

To finish on this, I would like to share a very poignant clip which to me just magnifies the symbolism of the bond of motherhood and the sense of sacrifice that is engrained in almost all women when it concerns their children. Too bad that society is more often than not reluctant to reward or even identify those sacrifices.