Episode 31: Linda Marks: Healing The Male and Female Heart Wound

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Perhaps the biggest obstacle to creating meaningful long-term relationships between Men and Women is the cultural conditioning that seems to wound us and has us feel guarded and untrusting of each other. Meet Linda Marks, psychotherapist, life work counselor, social architect and author. Listen in as Linda and Chip talk about the emotional burdens associated with being male or being female in our culture. Based on extensive research, Linda has formed powerful theories and insights into the possibility of of what she calls "soul centered relationships." And, as always, stay tuned for Linda's sweet exercise at the end of the interview.

Transcript

Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. Today on the show we are going to be talking about healing the war between the genders. We’re going to be looking at what it is to be masculine, what it is to be feminine and what in our culture today what gets in the way for relationship and more importantly how can we heal it? How can we evolve a relationship that actually really works?

We’re talking with Linda Marks. Linda Marks has practiced body psycho therapy with individuals, couples and groups for more than 20 years. She is the founder of the Institute for Emotional Kinesthetic Psycho Therapy in Newton Massachusetts and also the Boston area Sexuality and Spirituality Network. She has degrees from Yale and M.I.T and is the author of a book called Healing the War Between the Genders: The Power of the Soul Centered Relationship. Also another book Living With Vision: Reclaiming the Power of the Heart.

Linda Marks: The masculine feminine part is the womb because when it bursts there is a real thrusting forth of that energy and for the double Yang the totally male energy is the penis or the phallus because it penetrates it’s very directive.

You know a person maybe angry at somebody and underneath the anger is hurt and tears. If I have a couple that comes in sort of in a tense, locked place and I slow down and I do a heart meditation. As I do the heart meditation and have them focus on what they’re sensing and feeling in their body and heart and where they are in their lives and what really matters to them. The person who comes in tense and angry starts to cry with their eyes closed.

A very, very important part to me is a sense of sacred touch. I love the image that Standhill the founder of High Heads of the Geisha because the geisha really brings a sense of reverence to each person the geisha presences so one of the exercises I do with couples is I call the geisha exercise where I have them come to one another with the energy or the respect of the geisha and that before they touch their partner, they tune into themselves and imagine that they’re the geisha turning into the universal energy.

Chip August: Linda is a friend of mine and we’ve done workshops together and know each other for quite awhile and I’m really pleased to have you on the show. So welcome to the show Linda.

Linda Marks: Thank you Chip. It’s a pleasure.

Chip August: You’re book is just extraordinarily chuck full of lots of ideas of what it is to be male and what it is to be female and what gets in our way and how that all shows up in  relationships. I just want to dive right in and talk a little bit about all this, if that’s OK, yes?

Linda Marks: Absolutely.

Chip August: The place I want to start is in general you use words like feminine and masculine. I want to know to what those words mean to you. That seems to be a good place to start. You talk about women suppressing the feminine or men being trapped in the masculine. What is masculine? What is feminine? Where do those things come from?

Linda Marks: Well they come from a number of different places. The most basic is their energy. All men and all women have both energies. If we look to the Chinese medical world, the Yin and the Yang are the feminine and the masculine and they’re just very fundamental qualities. A very interesting model that I found when I was writing this book, that another person had put in her book, she actually talked about having a four quadrant model where there is basically two Yin, Yin Yang, two Yang and another Yin Yang. What she was basically saying is our culture, even if the energy is something that all people have, our culture has tended to polarize things. We tend to polarize mind and body, head and heart, sex and spirit. We also polarize masculine and feminine, even though they don’t need to be polarized.

In the polarization, we tend at this point in our evolution, this almost relates more to my first book, Living with Vision: Reclaiming the Part of the Heart, where I talk about the evolution of the human species and at some level we’re in the adolescence of the human species. When we have more of a matriarchal culture, more of a hunter gatherer kind of culture where the goddess energy was worshipped more, we were more to our infancy. At that point in time we were much connected to the earth and life was simpler.

As we matured and we became adolescence, that’s where a lot of the differentiation and individuation came in and just like when someone is a teen there’s a lot of differentiation and individuation they go through to mature. Our whole species is at a point like that so a lot of those polarizations including the masculine and feminine are part of that era. The vision that I put forward in Living with Vision is that as we mature we move to what I call the conscious compassionate relationship which has a lot to do with my inner vision for the second book as well. That’s where we can integrate those qualities of masculine and feminine and acknowledge that there are both energies in all people and to the degree we develop them and value them. They can come forward in us, in our relationships and in our society.

The point from [indecipherable] who had which is the model I was talking about is she felt that the double quadrant was the one that had all the energy in our society. She was focusing in terms of body parts, she equated the double Yin to the ovaries and the part of the female that is basically the source of life. The masculine feminine part is the womb because when it bursts there is a real thrusting forth of that energy and for the double Yang the totally male energy is the penis or the phallus because, it penetrates it’s very directive.

The undervalued part of the male anatomy which is sort of the feminine masculine which are the testicles because those are the seeds of life too. In her eyes, the culture was over focused on the double Yang and in some ways what we need to heal is the double Yin to counter balance the energy.

Chip August: Boy that was a chuck full of a lot of things. Some of which I followed and some of which I don’t but let me see if I got it. What is it that has you say that the culture is more phallicly focused than femininely focused? What do you base it on?

Linda Marks: Here is a perfect example. I am in a small ministry group that I happen to be part of a Unitarian Church. A very thing to do as a group is for people to get together individually. The group I’m in happens to have all women in it and one of the things that came up at the group as people where looking at their struggles is how hard it is to maintain relationships today at any level. I have a colleague named Terry Real who has a phrase that I used in Healing the World Between the Genders. He says, “We live in an anti relational vulnerability despising culture.”

In terms of what priorities are, they’re usually working and more and more of my clients are working 80 hour week as though that’s normal and they don’t have time for reflection, for being receptive, for a relaxing, for self care and for relating. They don’t even have time to spend time with a primary partner, never mind to keep up their friendships and sadly I’m even finding some of my clients who both want and need therapy. Not even having the time to come as regularly as they used to come or as they want to come because all the doing is so extreme. So we have a very do, do, do culture.

I have another colleague Ned Halloway that had coined the term “crazy busy” but that whole crazy busy sort of that extreme masculine push, push, do, do, do, do without the ability to take the feminine which is more to inhale, to soften, to relax and to be receptive.

The problems people are having in their relationship, one huge piece is that people just don’t take the time to be in relationship, to be as opposed as to do and the value for relationship has gone down because people are so busy trying to be crazy busy and do. Whether it’s in their career or survive financially or figure out how to put kids through college. I see that as one of the ways that the energy is really in the polarization of that phallic energy.

Chip August: Hasn’t it always been that way? I got it you don’t always think it’s that way but it seems to me that for 40-45,000 years of human history, we basically needed to  hunt or gather food a 100% of the time. Leisure time is a relatively modern concept. Time for relationship is a relatively modern concept. Time when we’re not busy, these are all things that came from the industrial revolution.

It just seems to me like we’re just renaming something that’s always been true about human beings. That we call them human beings but they’ve always been human doings and it’s just that what we’re doing now is different than what we did then but it was still you worked from sun up to sun down to collect food and take care of your family. Relationship wasn’t really any different than it is today. I’m confused about why you think…?

Linda Marks: I actually based on the research I did that isn’t entirely true. Hunter gatherers did not work 80 hours a week. They did have a very focused and important task to do but it actually took far less time. It would probably be more the 40 hour week and not the 80 hour week. The other piece is that rules and responsibilities were very much divided  up by gender. It was the men who hunted and gathered and the women took care of the home land and made the meals and took care of the kids and made the clothes.

There is actually a village in New Mexico, I think it’s in this book, there is an author named Chellis Glendinning who wrote a wonderful book called My Name is Chellis and I’m In Recovery From Western Civilization. She moves to Chimayo, New Mexico because that was the closest to the kind of hunter gatherer culture that she could find. What’s really interesting when the men were just focused on those kinds of tasks of hunting and gathering, they had a much stronger balance of their energy. Likewise when the women had more power when they basically had their domain in their home because there was such a clearly defined role.

The energy balance was better in that more primitive society. There was more value for the role, both roles were really truly essential. I think now part of the polarization is that perhaps it’s because of the women’s movement and women moving into the work place. Or even the economic necessity of two people having to work and not really having anybody at home and having a lot of the function of the home turned into businesses from childcare to even having your laundry done or having your food shopped for or prepared that’s part of the polarization.

The first point is just from the research I did, it actually did not take as much time for those early culture to do their essential work even though it was at the survival level. We spend a lot more time now with more complexity.

The second thing is those cultures had much stronger spiritual traditions including art. If you look at almost any indigenous culture or any ancient culture, a sheer amount of time was spent in some sort of spiritual practice or community time or art or music. That is not essential to people’s lives today. It’s the special moment and it’s consumer or spectator rather than just part of what people do with each other and part of being in community.

Chip August: Are you sure you’re not focused on urban north eastern cities? Becauase community theaters are striving, community sing-alongs, striving people join their church choirs, pottery classes are at an all time high, jewelry making classes are at an all time high. Are you sure that that’s not just a urban sort of busy north eastern urban bias that you’re saying?

Linda Marks: I don’t know a 100% because I don’t travel around the country as much as I used to. However I was in Indiana this summer and I was also in Santa Fe New Mexico this summer and I could say in Indiana, I used to teach in Indiana about 20 years ago too so I sort of have a 20 year comparison point. It’s a lot more crazy busy there too. It maybe faster in the north east than it is in Indiana however it’s still faster there too. I do see that the culture has sped up more over the last 20 years and yes I’m sure the industrial revolution was perhaps a catalyst and our also our whole Internet era too.

Where once a upon a time you’d write a letter, you’d put it in the mail, when you get it back you have your answer from your friend as opposed to text messaging where people instantaneously share thoughts and expect instantaneous response. I do think with the ability for faster communications, people do more and communicate more.

People have more paper piles, and the Feng Shui business has expanded. I may have a north eastern bias because that is where I spend most of my time and the clients I see do live around here for the most part. However the people have paper piles like they never had, even though they had a more paperless office. People have more stuff and storage units companies are growing. These are all of the symptoms of our modern era that’s just to say we’re just taking something perhaps into another extreme. It’s not a totally new phenomenon but I do see something intensifying.

Chip August: Well this sort of seems like a sad view and I’d like to talk about the other side of it. Sort of a more positive aspect and where we can take all this thought but I think we need to pause for a break. We’re going to take a short break to give a chance to support our sponsors. Do listen in to the sponsors messages because as a listener to this program, there are all kinds of deals available to you where you can save some money and get some really good stuff. So please listen in and come on back and we’re going to talk more about men and women and healing the war between the genders. We’ll be right back.

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Chip August: Welcome back to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. I’m talking to Linda Marks and we’ve been talking about men and women and femininity and masculinity and the crazy business of the modern culture we live in. Before we took the break, I was saying that the view you were putting out of men and women was sad. We’re so busy, we’re so caught up in 80 hour work week and doing, doing, doing and acquiring, acquiring. It seems sort of hopeless that we’ll ever create deeper relationships. Are you feeling hopeless?

Linda Marks: I’m not feeling hopeless. I’m feeling very much though that it’s important to do some education and just raise awareness. I think a huge piece is, there’s this image of the frog in the pot of water where the frog goes in, and it’s water at room temperature and then someone turns on the flame and it slowly heats up and eventually the frog cooks and sadly I think some of what happened to people with the crazy busy, it’s very slowly gotten hotter and hotter. People are frying and they don’t quite know how they got there. So take a huge piece is to give some new road map and that’s part of what I do in the book.

Chip August: Let’s talk about some of those road maps.

Linda Marks: OK well one of the most important road maps is even to understand the evolution of relationship between two people. Our media gives people a lot of images and they’re the story book fairy tale fantasy images and today they include the mansion, the 500 carat diamond images and almost everybody that I worked with and in my practice or talk with in my personal life has a very different experience than what the media puts forward. In essence I have a model and the war between the genders that I call the evolution of relationships which is a different way of having a road map and it’s a road map that people should be taught from when they are little kids.

The first stage in the evolution of relationships is when people are just first getting to know each other. Where there is a lot of new relationship energy and I call that beginning to know you stage in the book. For some people that ends in one minute and they are already hitting triggers and difficult places and in some cases the relationship doesn’t deepen and it stays at that getting to know you stage for many years.

However sooner or later in a relationship it is going to get deeper into a stage where people cross over a threshold into what I call the shadow lands. The shadow lands is not portrayed in the media at all and this is where a lot of people have a really hard time. When we go deeper, the parts of us that are undeveloped, the parts of us that are hurt from our childhood, the part of us that have triggers or judgments or just less than enlightened parts of ourselves emerge and they need to be worked and healed for us to deepen the intimacy. When we hit the shadow lands, what was once fun and light and often sexy can start to feel like hard work.

In our culture we haven’t been taught that that’s a stage almost any good relationship will go through and that when we get to the hard work stage, rather than what is most common response sort of just numb out and then they experience two ships passing in the night, or the people that have the functional marriage but don’t have emotional connection or even the sexless marriage.

There was a book that came out about that, about the number of people who are frozen to each other and they may live together but they don’t have physical intimacy at all, never mind sex. When people put up the wall to stay and freeze, they’re in the form of the relationship but the heart of the relationship has dried up or frozen.

Another thing people do is to say it isn’t working because this is hard now without recognizing that this is just a developmental stage. So sometimes people leave at this point not realizing that the next relationship they find that one that goes to that again the same kind of issue that they’re going to come up again. When we hit the shadow lands, what we really need to do is learn to do our own personal healing work about why are we triggered? Why are we shutting down and frozen? Why was this person who was beautiful and sexy six months ago now we feel no feeling at all for? Chances are the person didn’t change that much and chances are, we didn’t either but something got triggered inside.

We give people the tools so that when they hit the shadow lands to go deeper, to do their personal healing and then tools to work together too. Because people need or have the model that they themselves need to do their own work nor the support to work together.
Chip August: What kind of tools are you talking about?

Linda Marks: What kind of tools I’m talking about? Well this is what I do when I work with couples. One of the things is even flowing people down because we go so fast and taking people out of their heads and creating emotional safety first of all which is something that is very missing from the culture and emotional safety is when we start to really sense and feel what’s going on in our bodies and our hearts.

You know a person maybe angry at somebody and underneath the anger is hurt and tears. If I have a couple that comes in sort of in a tense, locked place and I slow down and I do a heart meditation. As I do the heart meditation and have them focus on what they’re sensing and feeling in their body and heart and where they are in their lives and what really matters to them. The person who comes in tense and angry starts to cry with their eyes closed.

From that place, I try to teach them techniques like for example speaking and listening from the heart. Where I actually facilitate their communication because people often don’t know how to speak from the heart, more people speak just right from their head and it sounds very, very different for the person to be intellectually analyzing what’s wrong rather than to slow down and soften and be in their tears and just say, “I’m really upset, I really miss you” to their partner.

When I can help people go to that deeper heart space, it’s very much like the kind of high exercises too that take people to that deeper heart space. When people can go there, they start to open their hearts to each other and they start to feel more compassion and more understanding and they also feel more connected to their partners. That’s one piece.

Another huge piece is helping people learn about touch literacy because often people don’t really know that language. It’s a very important language and so people are used to sitting side by side, intellectually analyzing and calling that a conversation rather than sitting across from each other, slowing down, holding hands as they talk or even in the high using the workshop straddle where people are actually making physical contact with their legs. It’s completely different if I have people close their eyes and do a meditation and see how they’re feeling when they’re physically touching their partner. That often takes down walls too and sometimes it shows other walls.

Chip August: Just for those listeners who don’t know what Linda is talking about. High is the Human Awareness Institute that when I’m not doing this shows lead weekend workshops in love, intimacy and sexuality. The workshop straddle is a seated position where we’re actually seated facing each other full body, quite intimate and quite beautiful. Just because you kind of threw that out there and I wanted make sure that people know what we’re saying.

Linda Marks: That’s a good idea. For some people who have heard of Tantra which is a sacred sexuality practice. There are also Tantra positions of how people sit in terms of breathing.

Chip August: The [indecipherable] and things like that.

Linda Marks: Yeah and those kinds of things are things that I can teach couples too so that when they sit down to talk to each other, there’s silence, there’s eye contact, there’s breathing, there’s physical contact and coming more into the moment, coming into the heart, coming more into their body deepens the communication and often allows the pain or the fear to have more safety so that it can be expressed and then the intimacy underneath can emerge.

Chip August: I want to steer us a little back to here we are in the shadow land and you’re  helping a couple communicate but we jumped over the initial thing that you said which was that the very fact that I’m in a relationship with this person means that I’m bumping into my own shadow and I need to do my own work. How does one learn to stop suppressing their own feminine? The “be a man” training that I’ve gone through for 54 years, I’m not going to just exactly set aside, how do you do that?

Linda Marks: Well we need mentorship and we need facilitation. A key piece is to learn that we can’t do it all alone which our culture has a compulsive self reliance instilled in us where we all are trained like John Wayne to do it all alone. At this point, women are trained that way as well as men so we really need to find training, mentorship, coaching, therapy, call it whatever you will, community where other models are spoken, models are taught. Where there are people that can facilitate us just like what I was describing for the couple there and part of why I’m a body psycho therapist is one of the things I can do with individual people is I can help them go into their bodies and really tap their own hearts and reach into the places where they were traumatized and have missing experiences that give them a whole other possibility of how they can be or relate.

For example if a person feels that their heart is frozen, as a body psycho therapist, I might ask is it OK if I put my  hands where your heart feels frozen and they get to say yes or no and get to adjust the hand to just the right place. As I put my hand on the frozen heart, the person may start to shake and I might ask, is there a scared part in the person might nod their head but not have the words and I might ask, is this a familiar feeling or new? The person might say familiar and I might ask if you go into the feeling and see if you have a sense of when it started the person might have an image of being a little child and say it’s a man who I’m doing this with and he might have had a high maintenance mom who was sick a lot, who he couldn’t depend on and where he learned that in order to keep his heart open to his mom, he had to shut his heart down to himself. He had to take care of her so he couldn’t take care of himself and he might have a lot of pain. With my hands on his heart he might start to cry after he starts to shake. I might ask if my  hand had a message, the message might be, I don’t need anything from you.

The man has an experience of someone being present and him getting a turn which is something that the little boy didn’t get because of the situation with his mom. So when he has the bodily experience of now it’s your turn, I don’t need anything from you, there is a way he can release the part of himself that his responsible for keeping it all together with the women in his life because he had do that in his childhood with his mom and that’s part of why his heart feels frozen.

It’s very beautiful helping. It’s almost like if you have a jigsaw puzzle, figuring out how to put the pieces together so you get the picture. What happens is people walk around with frozen hearts or knots in stomachs or tension headaches that they get every night but they don’t have a way to translate what the body is trying to tell them or to unlock the key to the warehouse where those memories are stored so that they can find out what was missing and what do they really need so in the here and now they can get what they need and therefore be more free.

Chip August: Wow, this is all so amazing. We have to pause again give a chance for our sponsors to support us and for us to support our sponsors. You are listening Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. Please stay tune because in the next section Linda is going to give an exercise that you can do at home. We’ll be right back.

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Chip August: We’re back. You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. We’re talking to Linda Marks who has written an amazing book called Healing the War Between the Genders: The Power of the Soul Centered Relationship. We’ve been talking about men and women and relating. I’m kind of curious about this soul centered relationship. Can we talk a little bit about relationship that integrates sexuality and spirituality and is what you would describe as soul centered? How does one develop one of those?

Linda Marks: The first piece is for you to get in touch with your own body, your own senses, your own heart, and your own soul. There is a combination of engaging in a meditative practice that’s more of a body meditative practice so that when you close yours eyes and you breathe, you start to notice where do you feel energy in your body and where do you feel tension and are you breathing or are you holding your breathe back? As you start to become more aware of your sensual experience, that would give you access a lot more to your deeper feelings and to your deeper desires and if you’re then want to communicate with the partner and try to explore a sense of connection or even a sense of what really pleasures you, you’ll be far more receptive and you’ll be far more available to start discovering how this can be sacred and how you can really have a sense of spirituality in your body. It’s an experiential piece even far more than intellectual piece

A very, very important part to me is a sense of sacred touch. I love the image that Standhill the founder of High Heads of the Geisha because the geisha really brings a sense of reverence to each person the geisha presences so one of the exercises I do with couples is I call the geisha exercise where I have them come to one another with the energy or the respect of the geisha and that before they touch their partner, they tune into themselves and imagine that they’re the geisha turning into the universal energy. So that when they reach out their hands to their partner, they’re reaching out with that quality of reverence and respect. Likewise with the partner to be able to really imagine that where their partner is coming from is with that quality of reverence and sacredness so that any part of their body that is touched by their partner is brought that kind of reverence and respect.

Often just evoking that kind of spirit brings people to tears, both the toucher and the touchee because people often have never been given that context or that imagery of that sacred, sacred touch. Reconnecting with our bodies and coming to our senses is peace and that sacred touch with permission and respect is a very essential piece.

Chip August: Well that sounds very, very, very beautiful. You and I could talk about forever about this and sadly we begin to run out of time. If people wanted to know more about you, if they want to get your book, if they want to contact you, how could people find you?

Linda Marks: My website is www.healingheartpower.com. You can find me on healingheartpower.com. I also have a blog which is www.heartspacecafe.com/blog that’s my blog. My books are available on Amazon, so just go right on to Amazon and look up Linda Marks, you can get both of the books that way, it’s probably the easiest way to do it. My email is [email protected] and I always respond to people that contact me.

Chip August: And listeners of this show, if you just go to our personallifemedia.com website, you can find text and transcripts and in our text and transcripts there are usually links to the books and to my guests so an easy way is to just look at the text and transcripts and follow the links. Also if you want to send suggestions, comments, and information to me, you can reach  me at [email protected].

If you don’t want to send me an email but you’d like to leave me a message, we do have a voice mail system at the moment. You can leave a voice mail for Chip August by calling 206-350-5333. Please leave your name, leave the name of my show Sex, Love and Intimacy and your comment or your question, your phone number or email and just know that when you leave a message on the voice mail machine, you are indicating your agreement for us to use your message on air if it seems like it’s going to fit using something on air because we do sometimes use these things on air.

Linda you have been a great guest. It’s been terrific talking to you. I always like my guest to suggest an exercise, something that people can do at home that will deepen their relationship or bring more sex or more intimacy in their life so have you got one?

Linda Marks: I certainly do and it’s on creating sacred space. So just letting yourself be comfortable, and taking whatever time and space you need to breathe. Letting your chest and belly fill with air as you inhale, and as you exhale, letting your chest and belly relax. Taking a moment to see if you’re comfortable, if you need to adjust your position in any way to be more comfortable and allowing your focus to be with your heart. Noticing where you feel your heart, when I say the word heart and if it helps to put your hand on your heart to help focus there you’re welcome to do. Taking a moment to notice how your heart is feeling physically and emotionally right now. If it’s full, if it’s empty, if it’s heavy, if it’s light, if it separate, connected.

Taking a moment to let yourself become a little more familiar with whatever is happening in your heart now. Take a moment just to reflect on what emotional safety means to you. What does it mean to be emotionally safe? Just seeing if that’s an experience that you’ve had before, if there has been a very special place that felt emotionally safe or a person who felt emotionally safe or even a four legged animal. Just seeing if you can recall a time that you felt emotionally safe. If you can’t recall a time, just imagine what it might feel like. Imagining that special place or that special person, that special companion and just notice what happens in your body as you take in that experience of emotional safety.

Noticing what happens with your breathing, what happens in your heart, what happens with your body sensations, even the kind of  thoughts that go through your mind. Just taking in an experience of emotional safety and how that feels to your body and heart.

I invite you to take a little body Xerox of the way you’re feeling in terms of sensation and feelings, even thoughts and you can take the body Xerox with you so that if you find yourself in a stressful time or a scary time, you can just go back into the experience of emotional safety so that you can soften the tension in your body, you can nourish your heart, you can shift your thoughts to nourishing thoughts and you can nourish all of your heart and your soul. Taking a few more moments to take in that feeling of emotional safety whether it’s a new one or one that you’ve had before and at your own pace very slowly and gently take a deep breathe and bring your focus back into the room.

Chip August: Well Linda Marks you’ve been a great guest. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me, I really appreciate. I appreciate having you on the show.

Linda Marks: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure Chip and thank you for the works you’re doing and the messages you’re getting to people out in the world.

Chip August: Thank you and thank you listeners for listening in and I hope you join us next time but that’s it for now.