Saturday, 15 September 2012

Lord of The Flies anyone?

When we are all getting on, have we gone all twee or is someone somewhere pulling the strings?  In every walk of life the best form of control, is ensuring people have something to lose.

Personally I don't like ranks and blog awards.  I think they make us competitive, which don't get me wrong, isn't always a bad thing.  But what is, is when you get judged by your rank.

I have heard tales of bloggers who were ignored, on more than one occassion, at the dinner table, until hey presto, they were worthy of being spoken to, as they had "arrived".  Oh I hate this culture.  If you look at someone's rank badge, before you decide to read their blog, shame on you! Go away and say 10 Hail Mary's and come back and read the rest of this post.

You'll notice I don't have a rank badge on my blog.  That makes a lot of people wonder "who is she?" and hence is one reason (amongst others) why I get less comments nowadays.  Do you really need to know who I am.  I tell you everytime I blog; I have a You Tube channel, and a Twitter account.  Yes, I am not on LinkedIn but does that really mean you don't know who I am.

This vibe is all too familiar to me, as when I was a Kundalini Yoga Teacher I had only done level 1.  Upon meeting a new person, they would very early on in the conversation ask if I'd done level 2.  No, I haven't. So shoot me! They'd want to know who I had trained with (the yoga equivalent of wanting to know if I was yogic Oxbridge) and whether I have a spiritual name.  There were other questions but as I haven't taught since Aaron was born, I am out of touch, and can't quite remember what used to be an all too familiar "script".  Anyway it got to the stage where I wanted to have badges on my shoulders to show my ranking to STOP all these inane questions.

A few years ago I ran/hosted/organised/chaired/taught a Yoga Retreat in Ireland.  An argument happened between 2 ladies and it epitomised what I am trying to say here. Get a coffee and let me tell you the tail IF I can remember how it goes...
Okay, so to set the scene, the retreat was residential, and it was in the West of Ireland.  I had said on the flyer that there would be a gym, sauna, etc etc...  The accommodation was in several cottages, that were in the same location as the hall where all the yoga would take place.  The most senior of my attendees (in terms of *rank* waaaaaaay more experienced than me - I was honoured she came) had arrived early, and taken my flyer literally, and having flown from the UK, headed straight for the showers.  When a group of us arrived in one of the cottages, she (C) was sitting there with beautiful, freshly combed long (wet) hair, looking rather chilled.  Another symbol of being established in Kundalini Yoga is the wearing of a turban.  She wasn't.  So little did I know, a girl who arrived with me, (M) pigeon holed her on this basis.  In a matter of seconds, she'd been given a category.  She was a non-turban, non-white clothes, wearing person, probably inexperienced, and certainly not a threat.  Funnily enough this couldn't possibly have been further from the truth.  She was right up there, even owning her own Yoga Centre, and had personally met Yogi Bhajan.  But, like with first impressions, they are NOT always right.
So the judger, "M" proceeded to establish herself as the most senior of the attendees.  She only deferred to me as I was the teacher, or I would have been trampled on too.  Her way of doing this was to name drop in EVERY conversation.  I am not being catty, it was literally out there, in sirens, with a megaphone.  She also offered to do all the cooking, of course, being the only one who knew what yogis should eat (kidgeree etc...).  But the experienced yogi, the next day, was by now in "whites" (the cotton clothing we wear in KY), AND wearing a turban, AND looking rather sublime, and serene.  But she wasn't acting senior.  She was comfortable in her own skin, and had made a decision to be humble and vulnerable on this retreat, and to learn something.  She decided she was going to go within, on this retreat, and learn something.  Everytime I spoke (between Kriyas) she learned something from what I was saying, and took notes.  It's never too late to be a student.  Anyway, a couple of times she mentioned, quietly that she had a "draw" to come, so strong, that she couldn't quite believe what she'd one.  She was hosting a *famous* American yogi (and recorded artist) at her Yoga Studio the same weekend she was in Ireland with me, and she wasn't physically there to receive her and look after her.  The flyer for my retreat had made her decide that for her it was "me" time and she had delegated the hosting (despite its importance) to someone else.

Well anyway, the person coming to her yoga centre out-ranked all of the others that "M" had been name dropping and remember M is still fuming as she had done her pigeon holing so so inaccurately.  Had "C" been wearing a turban on the Friday, they'd have been the best of friends, but she knew she couldn't suddenly do that 24 hrs later or we'd all smell a rat or at the very least a sycophant.

So what did she do, the next time "C" subtlely mentioned her American guest (and it was IN context of the conversation we were having at the time) she (M) let rip! She accused C of name dropping, which shocked us all to the core, when we knew it was a criticism she should have levelled at herself, and all of her frustration at getting it so so wrong all came tumbling out.  It was as clear as a diagram on a page.  It was powerful, and like a thunderstorm, it wasn't just a few sniped sentences.  I think there were tears (but I am not sure as it was years ago).  But it was BAD. We somehow managed to finish the retreat, (despite this being in a refreshment break of an active day/schedule) and even stayed on a day extra but suffice to say M did not.  We had a "ball" in that last night as the tension was lifted and me and C did a beautiful sadhana on the final morning.  She never mentioned it.  It wasn't her "stuff" and she wasn't holding any grudges.  But shall we say it was interesting.  I wish I remembered the minutiae but the lesson I learned from it is good enough.

Ironically enough in tandem to the negative experience above a positive experience in a very similar vein was occurring.  At the other end of the spectrum another attendee was acting like a wise old owl.  She was VERY new to Kundalini Yoga and yet you could tell she knew it all.  Either her chakras were all balanced, or she'd "been here before" but if I was the person on the desk who handed out shoulder stripes, she'd have EVERY SINGLE ONE.  You see in life sometimes people are at the end before they've begun.  They've done the journey, they have got the roadmap; maybe they are just here to be an example to the rest of us.  They don't have the stripes, or the rank, or the award, but they've arrived, from the moment you've met them. I jokingly gave her a spiritual name and we called it her ALL weekend - not being an expert in these things, I did know you were senior if there was a Guru in there so she was affectionately called Guru Gobind all weekend :-)
You know that they know.  You don't need to teach the taught.

They don't need to climb a greasy pole.  In fact that don't even need the pole.  You can climb up, and back down, and they'll still be there, probably enjoying the sun.  I am not saying that is me, but I can certainly name a couple of formidable bloggers that do fall into that category.  I think we all know who they are.  They are they and they need no introduction.  We are in the rocky boat whilst they enjoy the sun on the beach.

Where's my towel I want to get there?

So please, don't judge a book by its cover.  Focus on the sun and not the pole, and for christ sake get out of the "sea".  Most importantly never let anyone censor you.  Censorship is not good and freedom of speech is.  After all we have spent thousands of years fighting for it.

Your voice is what you were born with.  Use it don't lose it.

You don't have to comment, you can just say #WordsHeard

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the flies is the literal translation of Beelzebub
Guru Gobind Singh

Bye for now,
Liska x


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Claire accidentally deleted her comment.

    It said:

    It's a shame that anyone feels that they don't count in blogging, or any form of artistic expression.

    I've been around long enough to remember the days before it became competitive, and I miss those days. Now, you feel that if someone reaches out to you, or supports you, you wonder what their motive is. Its the "gives with one hand, takes back with two" thing I've noticed a lot.

    I say this as someone who chased "glory" that "place in the sun" and once I reached the edges I didn't like what I found. I hated what my blog had become, and hated myself for acting like a kid who wants to be in with the cool crowd in the playground. I've never been that person and I don't intend to be. I find now I blog what I want, I say the things others perhaps wont, but I don't take on blog bust ups, or lost causes anymore. I'm sad I don't stick up for others as such, but it was enough to make me ill after a while. There are some who still write atrocious comments on the blog (which I don't post), and I know (as people have told me) that I have been the subject of much bashing on sites I'm not a party to. I don't feel anything but sorry for these people. Truly. I've also had enough experience to know that when people message to tell me "oh so and so did X at y" that they are just hoping to sit back and watch an epic argument. Which again questions how bored they must be. I especially cannot understand why certain people are so anti newer bloggers too, I know that has gone again recently, other than to tell them that keep up with the blog as obviously these people are scared that their own glory will be swiped away by better bloggers in time!

    I cannot agree more with the sentiment though, be yourself, never give in and conform to be a robot. We'll all find our own place in on our own private beach in the sun one day.

    1. I blame the wine! Thanks for finding it for me Liska x

  3. Blogging is like friendships - you get what you put in, and you also get what you'd expect from the people (bloggers) you mix with. I consider myself one of the "old guard" (which, by the way, carries no air of superiority at all, sometimes quite the reverse) and I have never been involved in any kind of bitchy blogging. The bloggers I tend to comment with are supportive and funny. End of. We wouldn't dream of leaving a nasty comment and if we come across people who do, well we don't blog with them. The same rules for friendship apply to blogging. If they're not acting like true friends, it's because they're not. Just because we're blogging doesn't mean we have to put up with shite.
    As for rankings and competitions - I have mixed feelings about that. I don't have any rankings on my blog, and I don't tend to put myself forward for awards. Other people put me up for the Brilliance in Blogging LIt award and my initial reaction was to pull out. Then I realised how churlish that would appear, since others had been kind enough to nominate me. I made it to the finals and thoroughly agreed with the winners announced at the BritMums conference (not being me). I found the atmosphere to be very supportive of all finalists. Or maybe I'm being too naive?

    1. I was also there, also agreed, and also loved the atmosphere. No I wouldn't say you are naive at all.

      In order to put my blog post in context I'd have to talk about things that happen under the surface with certain factions. I don't want to "out" behaviour that goes on behind closed doors. I'd rather just avoid it, as I had before and since.

      To left the comment you have, you've clearly not come across any untoward behaviour. THAT is a good thing.

      Thanks so much for visiting and for commenting.

      Liska xx

  4. I've been thinking about this blog post for a bit as it happened to coincide with some of my thoughts on life.

    The fact that the blogging world is getting more competitive and that there are many places that we have to be careful of what we say doesn't bother me to be honest - I was expecting it and even wrote a blog post about it earlier in the year. It's all part of the maturing and growing of this community. But yes, I have had to remind myself of that when I've been the brunt of some 'important' people.

    It was the description of certainty that was interesting as I had a very scary encounter with a Man when walking my dog, and not only did I shout at him, but I was also then scared of walking again. However I sat down, thought about why I could be certain of myself and why it didn't matter if he didn't agree - and weirdly enough I got a written apology from him (not that it isn't a little scary that he knows where I live!).

    I've also been thinking about 'success' as I've been struggling in the past few months to juggle life, work, blogging, family, relationships and my physical health and of course there is the MADs on the way. I'm competitive by nature and would love to 'defend my title'. But taking a step back about everything worrying me has reminded me what success means to me. You know that oneday I would love to know that I had helped hundreds of thousands of mums with my books. But I'm not going to do that at the cost of my kids feeling loved and me being strong and sure of who I am.

    It's soooooo easy for people to get swept along by the ups and downs in a community. Don't judge them on it, lets hope they get their self-esteem back sometime soon.

    Thank you lovely, I feel much more certain of myself than I did a few weeks ago and this post helped my thinking on it's journey.

    1. As ever, your thoughts are well thought out and constructed.

      I totally get that we have to "be careful of what we say".

      BUT when there is an unelected authority who decides what is allowed to be said, that is what I don't like. When that authority abuses its power, and acts in a way that is completely biased... stinks... When that authority yields their control in very unsubtle means....

      Oh I could go on and on....

      Anyway, I am glad you have come out the other side of your journey and that you are feeling more certain.

      Liska x


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