Thursday, May 31, 2007


Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Sexual behavior that is in conflict with your goals for sexual health.

Remember my professional conference and the post I wrote, "Good Sex Is Vanilla and Boring"? Well, thank goodness for Doug Braun-Harvey, MFT, CGP, of "The Sexual Dependency Institute of San Diego", and Michael A. Vigorito, MFT, of "San Diego Psychotherapy Services".

Theirs was the last workshop I attended at this conference, and praise the lord, there is a sex positive God after all and she created these two men to deliver us from our misguided attempts at pathologizing sex and labeling those who indulge in any sexual activities beyond missionary position in bed with your lawfully wedded spouse as a sex addict. OK, I confess to exaggerating a bit but unfortunately, not much.

I didn't think I would make it through the afternoon and had a tentative plan on heading home early. I was sorely disappointed in the quality of most of workshops I had attended at this conference. The medical model of addiction seems to have lead too many therapists down a frightfully narrow path that offers limited access to therapeutic interventions that subscribe to a model of sexual health. I figured this workshop would be yet another of the lot, attempting to guide me along a "sex negative sexual addiction assessment path". I noticed that they used the term "Out of Control Sexual Behavior" which isn't uncommon language in the field.

But when I reached the conference room, my heart lightened and I felt an inkling of hope as I read the full description of the workshop, "Assessing Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Ending the epidemic of psychotherapist premature evaluation." Oh yes, oh yes, oh thank you God. I got excited at the thought that someone was actually going to confront this horrendous "epidemic" where hundreds of therapists had been herded like sheep to the sexual slaughtering of their clients all fucking weekend long.

One of the goals and objectives of the workshop was to: "Identify therapists' sexual attitudes and beliefs that interfere with a more complex conceptualization of sexual behavior problems." This is so beautiful. Concurrent with learning specific assessment protocol for assessing client's concerns regarding their sexual behavior, the therapist must learn to identify their own sexual attitudes and beliefs that will interfere with their understanding of their clients problems. Perfect. Imagine that, "Healer, heal thyself."

Lots of what was covered in this workshop related to the "Paradox of Eroticism"--that which is forbidden and pleasurable at the same time. Therapists and clients are dealing with the both the personal/idiosyncratic constructs and well as the social/ cultural constructs of sexual behavior, both the egosyntonic (that which is acceptable to the ego) and egodystonic (that which is unacceptable to the ego.) We must support our clients (as well as ourselves) in finding their way through this labyrinth.

We discussed the effects of "High and Low Inhibition" and "High and Low Excitability". Inhibition refers to the the social constructs that stop us from engaging in OCSB. For example, we might have a fantasy about running through the streets naked, or having sex with a minor but our fear of the consequences stops us from doing it. Excitability refers to any sexual behavior that excites us, such as running through the streets naked, or having sex with a minor.

Here are some various combinations of Inhibition and Excitability:
"High Inhibition/Low Excitability"
"Low Inhibition/High Excitability"
"High Inhibition/High Excitability"
"Low Inhibition/Low Excitability"

Which of these combinations would most likely lend itself to OCSB?

First consider that sexual health is rooted in a balance of both Inhibition and Excitability.

The answer is:

"Low Inhibition/High Excitability"

If a person's level of Inhibition and Excitability are balanced "High/High" or "Low/Low" there is usually no problem. If a person has "High Inhibition with Low Excitability" there is usually no problem either. On the other hand, a person with "Low Inhibition and High Excitability" needs to be mindful of this combination. This person has a tendency to get very sexually excited and their low inhibition in regards to acting out on their sexual excitement, makes it much harder to control their impulses to engage in their fantasy of running through the streets naked or having sex with a minor, or what have you.

If a person's sexual fantasies are benign (won't get them into trouble) there is no problem. But remember, we are discussing OCSB here and the erotic paradox is significant--what is forbidden is pleasurable.

Ultimately, each individual needs to define their own problems and come to terms with whether their problem is actually OCSB or not. Of course, a trained OCSB therapist who is not on a witch hunt for sexual addiction can be extremely helpful.

If a spouse calls in reporting that her husband masturbates to pornography everyday and she wants him to get help, that does not constitute OCSB. The woman made need help dealing with her own issues, and whether her husband has OCSB or not, is not really the point. The fact that she has a problem is obvious because she's the one calling in for help, even if she thinks it's her husband that has the problem. If the man calls in requesting help regarding his masturbating to porn, that's another story and the therapist is then in a position to start an OCSB assessment without prematurely evaluating his actual problem. Maybe he has OCSB, or maybe his wife simply has different sexual standards than he does for what is appropriate and they lack communication skills as well as needing a more indepth understanding of their sexual selves and personal values and how to more effectively meld their differences into a loving and intimate relationship.

The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin was suggested as a good read so I googled it and found the San Diego Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. Click on this link and scroll down just a tad for an article, Bioenergetics and a Paradoxical View of Sexuality by Diana Guest MFT, CBT where she discusses Jack Morin's "paradoxical theory". It's interesting.

My notes were obviously disorganized as I had information on the "Love Map" that I thought was related to Jack Morin's work but when I googled "Love Map" it's all about John Money Ph.D., a psychologist and sexologist known for his research into sexual identity and biology of gender. The "Love Map" is a template which pairs our idealized lover with what turns us on sexually. We only know the "Love Map" metaphorically and it is a place we visit during sex through mental imagery and fantasy. I found this link which took me to a page that was discussing some sexual stuff related to the "Love Map" and I'm offering it here because of this quote which is the perfect description of how I felt after the "Good Sex is Vanilla and Boring" workshop I attended.

"Diagnosing types of sexuality is as disrespectful as discriminating people based on race, ethnicity or religion."

Anyway, these presenters were both lovely. They worked well together and were intelligent, articulate and sex positive. I particularly appreciated their skill in helping the participants distinguish between thoughts and feelings. It's amazing how many people (including therapists who should better trained in this) will tell you what they think, or the meaning they make of something when then are asked what they feel. They also made a good point about it being a mistake for therapists to allow their clients to speak in metaphors. Talking clearly about sex is important. I also like that this model invites ambivalence and encourages contemplation.

There was lots more good stuff including criteria for assessing OCSB that I won't go into but I will say that I was incredibly relieved to experience this workshop after what I'd been exposed to in the other "Addiction Workshops" at this conference.

A few more recommendations they made:

Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men by Robert Weiss. Disclaimer: This is a sex addiction model but is good for understanding the feelings related to OCSB.

Changing For Good by James O. Prochaska, a book on "Motivational Interviews".

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is documentary on how the MPAA rating system censors movies. This is a good link to an article about this film and what it exposes about the NC17 (No Children under 17) rating. Here are a couple of quotes from the article along with a few films that have received the NC17 rating.

"This Film is Not Yet Rated makes a compelling case for MPAA ratings system as a form of institutionalized, homophobic puritanism."

"Boys Don't Cry, a transgender teen who was raped and beaten to death; Gunner Palace, a documentary about life in the US military in Baghdad; A Dirty Shame, a gross-out sex-comedy from John Waters, one of my favorite filmmakers; and But I'm a Cheerleader, a lighthearted comedy about a sexually curious teenaged girl sent to an anti-gay rehabilitation camp."

I've seen all of these except "A Dirty Shame" and I highly recommend them--well, I don't really recommend "A Dirty Shame" because John Waters films really do tend to gross me out.

And this is my own recommendation not the presenters.
Shortbus. If I'm going to be recommending movies about sex I have to throw "Shortbus" in here because Gillette recently reviewed it, which encouraged me to watch it again and it is great. Here's a quote from the official site which I've linked to:

"John Cameron Mitchell's SHORTBUS explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex in and around a modern-day underground salon. A sex therapist who has never had an orgasm, a dominatrix who is unable to connect, a gay couple who are deciding whether to open up their relationship, and the people who weave in and out of their lives, all converge on a weekly gathering called Shortbus: a mad nexus of art, music, politics and polysexual carnality. Set in a post-9-11, Bush-exhausted New York City, suggesting new ways to reconcile questions of the mind, pleasures of the flesh and imperatives of the heart."

One more little tidbit about an interesting thing I learned at this workshop: the term "Rapid Ejaculation" which I really appreciate over the term "Premature Ejaculation." It's somehow gentler and seems more descriptive and less of a judgment label than what "premature" implies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Make Love Not War

I've been contemplating war lately. It's just such an odd thing. People continuously fighting one another when most everyone will tell you that what they seek is peace. Everyone seems so afraid, constantly on guard that someone will take what is "rightfully" theirs.

How is it that we expect politicians and governments to not fight each other, our leaders to not invade other countries, to not create wars around the globe when here we are, desperately fighting with the ones we love most, right in our our homes? We fight our lovers, our husbands and wives, our kids, our siblings, our parents, our friends, our neighbors. We fight with whose who think differently, behave unusually or want something other that what we want. We are quick to lie and blame others in our attempts to protect ourselves. We are afraid that if you get yours then chances are I won't get mine. We fight with our selves, within our own hearts and minds. Struggling each and every day with out of control thoughts and crazy sad stories of lack and limitation, obsessing over regrets of the past and worries for the future, rarely living in appreciation of the abundance of the moment. How can we ever stop making war until we first stop hurting ourselves and those we love most?

A couple of days ago I was by a pool when a little boy pushed another little boy into the water. His mother told him to not push the child into the water or she would push him into the water. Is that what we are all about, trying to teach each other the lessons of living by our rules and getting what we want by being bullies? If you hurt me then I'll hurt you and I'm bigger and I can hurt you worst so you better watch out?

I took this picture in Union Square on Sunday. It's engraved on the big monument in the center of the square. "War has commenced...proceed at once...and capture or destroy..."

What is it about War?

I watched Zwartboek, The Black Book, tonight. It's directed by Paul Verhoeven, (Basic Instinct and Showgirls) starring Caprice Van Houten, as Rachel Stein, a beautiful singer and Dutch Jew, turned resistance fighter/spy, and Sebastian Koch, (Lives of People) as Muntze, head of the Nazi SS and good guy.

This film made me think of the phrase "Man's inhumanity to man."

Robert Burns poem, Man was made to Mourn (1785)

'Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Knowing of the despicable potential that each one of us holds inside, the capacity to commit atrocities against other human beings is hard to comprehend and hold. But the opportunity this awareness offers me, to hold steadfastly to my intention to love, to consciously choose kindness and compassion in my interactions with others moment by moment, is a great gift.

Last night we watched "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" an HBO special directed by Yves Simoneau, starring August Schellenberg as Sitting Bull, and Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers, another war movie) as Charles Eastman, a Sioux doctor educated at Dartmouth.

Tatanka Yotanka, Sitting Bull, a Lakota chief.

This was one of those movies made for television that was filled with cliches and a too easy story line. But watching Aidan Quinn playing Henry Dawes, a somewhat well intentioned Senator who tirelessly worked for Indian assimilation, reminded me of human arrogance and the disastrous consequences of following the limited perspective and opinions of our ego. And he was one of the "good guys". With friends like him, the Indians didn't need enemies. The lies told and atrocities inflicted on the Indian people by the so called "Christians" left me feeling sick and in awe of our tendency to make it the United States and Spain in 1898, Nazi Germany, settling the west and finding gold in the sacred Black Hills, or the so called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And on and on...humans make lots of war.

After one part in the story when the soldiers had murdered a bunch of the Indians, one of them was defending their actions, saying "We didn't shoot first, I swear we didn't." One of the chiefs told him not to distress so, that of all the white man's weapons, it was their guns the Indians feared the least.

I think it would behoove each and every one of us to identify our own weapons of mass destruction and the wars we choose to inflict our ourselves and our loved ones on a daily basis.

Here's a little of what Abraham, one of my teachers says about war:

We don't think that it is any of our business to end the war that someone else is choosing. We think if somebody wants a war, they must be allowed the right to have a war. None of us has the right to impose peace on anyone, any more than we have the right to impose war on anyone. What we're saying is -- everyone must be allowed to choose.

There Will Never Be Peace On Your Planet. Our desire is that they are consciously choosing, and that each of them find a way to be connected to Source Energy, because that is what they're fighting for: Freedom. Freedom from resistance, that's what they are all wanting. If we can envision them connected, more of them will find that. There will never be a time upon your planet when there will be peace -- because there will never be a time upon your planet when everyone is in agreement about the way life should be lived.

There are so many well meaning people who see the contrast, give birth to the rocket of desire, feel it powerfully, shout it to the Universe -- and the Universe is answering. And then, they're campaigning against what's wrong and holding themselves apart from the solution. Even though solutions are happening all over the world, they never have access to them, because they are vibrationally so different from the solutions, that even though solutions are happening, they never get to see a glimpse of them.
My intention is be nakedly aware, to focus on solutions and to make love, not war.

Love Happens

Jerry and I had some fun adventures in San Francisco this weekend. We stayed at the Warwick Hotel on Geary,(this is the bed we slept in) just a couple of blocks from Union Square. I love Union Square.

Saturday we saw "Jersey Boys" at the Curran Theatre directly across the street from our hotel. Talk about convenient. Jerry did good. It was a great show about the Four Seasons, how they got started, got famous, and all the trials and tribulations they went through. Those boys did not have an easy time. Of course, since Jerry is a Jersey boy himself and he also had his beginnings singing on the street corners just like they did, it was extra special for us. Having him embellish the details of that lifestyle, back east, back then, really enriches my understanding. I appreciate him and his roots so much. The Four Seasons songs were some of my favorites when I was young so it was great hearing them songs performed live, in a play about their lives. It's always nice to feel like you've touched someone a little closer.

Sunday was the Carnival Parade on Mission. This years theme was Love Happens. It was cold all day but we hung in there for the whole parade and eat garlic fries afterwards at the street faire. Even ran into some Chico friends too. We were exhausted when we made it back to our hotel room and napped for a good two hours or more before dinner. We found the perfect food at "The King of Thai Noodle" right on the same block. And for a mere $23. we feasted on Soup, Spring Rolls, Pad Thai and Thai Iced Tea.
Later we headed out to Aunt Charlie's on Taylor and Turk for the "Hot Boxxx Girl" drag show. Problem was though, the paper had it wrong and the shows are on Friday and Saturday nights only. Darn. I was really disappointed as we saw one of these shows a few years back and they are great. I encourage everyone to check out Aunt Charlie's if you are in San Francisco but beware, this is a dive bar in a seedy neighborhood. The folks inside are very sweet though.

We ended up at Borders on Union Square and I bought a book called "Against the Stream, A Buddhist Manual For Spiritual Revolutionaries" by Noah Levine which I fell asleep with. I'd do a review of it on this blog when I'm finished.

Sunday morning we had coffee and french pastries in Union Square. These are two of the four cool hearts at each of the four corners of the square. I thought they went along with the Carnival theme.

I really enjoy The San Francisco Art Exchange, on Geary within those same two blocks from our hotel to Union Square. They had a great show called "The Last Mile", photography of Steve McQueen, taken by this wife Barbara McQueen. Also, an Alberto Vargas retrospective...remember the Vargas Girls in the old playboy magazines? My favorite is "Girl With Yellow Bird". He painted it in 1922, the year of my mother's birth. I planned on uploading this picture to show you but they've corrupted the file or something so I can't

We packed up our room and headed for the Haight. Jerry always needs a good hour plus fix at Amoeba Music when we are in the city, looking at used CDs while I check out various little shops on Haight Street. We bought some Burningman clothes at Goodwill for 50%. I found a beautiful ankle length, wool/Alpaca/mohair blend coast from Yugoslavia for $9. Just what I was looking for to keep me warmth on those cold playa nights.

We eat pizza--OK, is this unusual or what--pesto pizza with slices of potato? So strange I had to try it and it worked surprisingly OK, not great but not bad either. I also indulged in a double ice cream cone (chocolate fudge brownie on top, coffee on bottom) from Ben and Jerry's right on the corner of Haight and Ashbury before we headed home for our grandson's sixth birthday party. Happy Birthday sweetheart.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Check This Out

Mistress Matisse has a new article out on Polyamory. It's in Seattle's The Stranger--Control Tower and Kink Calender and is called FGO, which in her circle, stands for Fucking Growth Opportunity.

Good Sex is Vanilla and Boring

At the professional conference on Friday of last week, I attended a workshop called "Exploring Sexual Compulsivity and Its Healing Path." The name gave me the impression that what was being presented was a "Health Model"of sexuality. I was sorry to experience this workshop as the most pathologically based, sex negative, user (people who like people who like sex) unfriendly presentation I've ever experienced. It frightens me that the presenter has a license and is "treating" people who are seeking help with their sexual issues. It made me shiver as I watched so many of the other licensed professionals lapping up this unwholesome fare up without reserve. Quite frankly, I was appalled.
Definition of Abuse: Anything less than nurturing.
Nurturing seemed to be defined as how the presenter personally chooses to nurture herself. Everything else is abuse.
Definition of Sex Addiction: A pathological relationship with a mood altering experience.
If you are wondering what "a pathological relationship" actually looks like, well it's anything that the presenter doesn't personally agree with. I'm curious about what a "healthy relationship" with a mood altering experience looks like to her, if she would even agree that such a thing exists.

Now this presenter wasn't completely clueless, ignorant, nor out in left (or was it right, far right?) field with these issues. She obviously has a lot of knowledge and experience working with people with "out of control sexual behavior." She would probably define out of control sexual behavior as the same thing as "sexual addiction" but I don't. I don't find the pathological medical model of sexual behavior, quite frankly, very useful so I admit my own bias. For one thing, she understands a good deal about the shame and suffering people with out of control sexual behavior experience and how it can destroy lives. Unfortunately, I fear that her rigid definition of sexual addiction and many of the methods she uses must result in the accumulation of more shame and ultimately more pain for her clients.

When I was able to screen out the sex negative nonsense, she had some "interesting data" and personal observations that she threw at us throughout the day. Some of it I find insightful and interesting to ponder. Some, I find as ignorant projections. Some I'm not sure what to do with.

I quote her either exactly or loosely but this is the gist I took from it:
I have never met an addict who is just a sexual addict. With women, all sex addicts have an eating disorder too.

Parents traumatize their children by changing their clothes without shutting their bedroom doors.

The average healthy male (as opposed to the sex addicted male) thinks of sex every 52 seconds. The average healthy female thinks of sex once a day. (This wasn't her study but she found it valuable enough to repeat.)

Tattoos are a great diagnostic tools for discovering significant archtypical personally identification.

The goal of sexual acting out is mastery over the original wounding.

Shame is the birth of all addiction.

Fifty percent of sexually addicted women don't orgasm. (This is women she treats.)

Boredom is a good thing for an addict. If you are a sex addict, sexual recovery is one step above boredom.

All fantasy sex is based in sexual addiction.

All BDSM is caused from trauma. Light hand cuffing and other bondage play between a consenting married couple in their own bedroom is pathological.

Pole dancing is based in sexual trauma and is acting out behavior.

SM exchange: pain/pleasure center in the brain is connected.

Exhibitionistic sexual behavior is passive aggressive and emotionally violent.

You can't get better until you give up your secrets.
Here are some interesting tidbits she offered about 12 step support groups for sexual addicts.

SA--Sex Anonymous. Sexual addiction is defined for you. Sex outside of marriage is not allowed. This includes masturbation. Sign me up again.

SAA--Sex Addicts Anonymous. Sex addicts define their own addiction.

SCA--Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. This is mostly for the Gay and Lesbian community.

SLAA--Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Lots of cruising (sex addicts looking for other sex addicts to act out with) going on here.

RCA--Recovering Couples Anonymous. This one plays out differently depending on the area you live.

She talked about how shame creates "sexualized anger" which is then acted out and used a yoga advertisement as an example. A woman in a yoga position is pictured with a water bottle and she explains how it represents sexualized anger. OK, I can buy that maybe it's a subliminal message for sex. They try to sell everything with sex these days so why not yoga? But why project anger into it? Because it's all based on a sickness model. Everything must be pathologized.

She addressed the common event of when people stop acting out they can experience intense somatic responses. OK sure. Of course. The problem is that she is so stuck in the medical model of "sexual addiction" that she follows all these threads into pathological assumptions for everything. She infers that somatic responses are due to the fact that when the person stops engaging in their acting out behavior, it is because the brain has stopped producing certain chemicals and the resulting symptoms of irritability, headaches, etc. occur. I'm not so interested in whether the brain ends up with a chemical imbalance or not. Lets say it does. Now what? What really interests me is what going on inside of those somatic responses. What secrets lie to be unfolded in this process? When one stops the acting out behavior and also stops resisting the somatic responses that arrive in their stead and fully experience the secrets trapped inside, then what? Will the brain chemicals be in balance once again? There is a lot to suggest that the answer to this is yes.

She offers no leeway for sexually healthy people to engage in any sort of kink whatsoever. Kink is seen as acting out that is a result of trauma. OK, just like with the brain chemical thing, lets just agree (or pretend to agree) for a moment that all kink is the result of trauma. Does that automatically suggest that the only conclusion available is that engaging in kinky behavior equals the acting out of a sexual addiction and is detrimental?

She goes on to say "Healthy sexuality is about connection with self and another. It is intimate. You are present. You are connected." OK, no argument from me. But she disallows the possibility that people can engage in any sort of kink whatsoever and also be simultaneously experiencing intimacy, presence and connection. She purports that these two things are mutually exclusive because kink creates an altered state of consciousness and you can not be in an altered state of consciousness and intimately present and connected. Excuse me? From my experience, intimate connection creates an altered state of consciousness.

She concludes with, "Addicts live in extreme black and white thinking. It's all or nothing."


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Juicy Women and Honesty

I love my Juicy Women's group. We met on Tuesday evening and Molly pulled the Honesty Rune. Does honesty, first with ourselves and then with others, get our juices flowing? I've experienced the truth of this as a resounding YES!

Lena checked in first and she had a bunch of that heavy mother/child stuff going on. It reminded me of the movie "The Namesake" that Jerry and I watched recently. It offered a great representation of that pulling away that children often do when establishing their own identities. Added to this seemingly natural course of separation between parents and their children, it can be exceedingly difficult to hold on to one's self when your child judges you and harbors resentment. Parents are imperfect beings just like everyone else, but children often judge their parents shortcomings much harsher than they would judge their friends and other acquaintances. The parent/child bond is so strong that it can intensify unreasonable expectations and hurt feelings when one or the other doesn't behave in the way we believe they should. Both sides can tend to make meanings that may not be valid. As Lena told her story I felt her pain. Over the years I've been through much of what she is currently experiencing and it's not fun stuff.

Randi is still celibate, it's been over two months now (which she embarrassingly says might not sound like a long time to us but it is for her) and it sounds fairly intense for her, but a positive experience at the same time. It's longer than I've ever gone without sex since I became activity sexual at the age of sixteen. She seems to be monitoring her behavior carefully, and rather than sexually"acting out" as she puts it, she is choosing to decline sexual opportunities because they just aren't the ones to say yes to at this time. Some of her acting out is still manifesting in over eating and she is yearning to be touched.

Pema arrived a bit late as she was out of town on a business/pleasure trip. One of her old clients is bank rolling her new business and she met with him to discuss its progress an also to enjoy one another's company eating yummy food and enjoying a Picasso exhibit at the MOMA. She is enthralled with art. She also mentioned her love for her partner as well as her increasing weariness of the pattern of their relationship.

Ana's been having several interesting experiences with men. She got some of that "no strings attached" (NSA) kissing she was craving. She's also been spending time with another man who on one hand she has no interest in cultivating a sexual relationship with, but on the other hand, is experiencing the intense enjoyment and subtleties of the exchange of sexual energy between them. She also had an interesting experience of hiring several men to work for her, running the show, feeding them, and lapping up their male energy and attention.

Molly shared something that stuck me in this profound way and for the life of me I can't remember what it was. Part of her story was about being in a really good space and then trying to keep herself from devolving into money worries and crankiness, ...I think. Sheesh.

Rosemary completed her sexual history. She talked more about her affair with the one and only woman she has ever fallen in love/lust with, her sexually loving triad with her husband and best friend, and the pleasures of threesomes and foursomes she had participated in. She also gave us an account of her sexual journey into polyamory as the intense spiritual path it has been for her. She spoke of her jealousy and control issues and how she has consciously worked to release herself and her husband from those shackles and how she has demanded the same from him. She spoke of the power of truth in her marriage and it's evolution into allowing privacy (not secrets) with her husband. There was also a brief mention of her toe dipping into BDSM. She is enjoying being whipped. A lot. Says it really helps to get her out of her head. She is living in more sexual freedom and power than she ever has in her life and feeling more than ready to take on some new experiences in the arena of love and sex.

I'm Back

Wow, it's been a busy week. We left one week ago for Santa Clara for my professional conference. It was a very interesting time and I'll be writing about some of my experiences. We arrived home on Sunday just in time to relax on the couch and watch The Sopranos and exchange a foot rub before falling off to sleep fairly early.

On Monday I took my daughter-in-law to Sacramento to see an immigration attorney and although we have a lot of complicated work cut out for us, I have hope that we will be able to get her a green card. When I got back Jerry picked us up a movie called Alpha Dog which was based on a heartbreakingly true story about a group of out of control twenty year old kids in the L.A. area who kidnapped and then killed a fifteen year old boy in 1999. Talk about depressing on so many levels. Sheesh.

Yesterday I returned to work at the college and as this is finals week, my students had lots of last minute needs and it was an incredibly busy day. After work I had a meeting with my women's financial group--the Apple stock we purchased last month had gone up so that was encouraging. Directly after that meeting our Juicy Women's group met. When I got home I opted for sex with Jerry rather than blogging. Good choice.

So I have lots to write about and still, very little time. I have a meeting with my boss in one minute for my yearly evaluation. I hope they still love me here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

No Beauty = No Truth = No Reality

I've been really busy all day and I'm leaving this evening for a four day conference in the bay area. I'm planning on eating some really yummy Thai food and spending some time at the ocean when I'm not cooped up in the hotel. I won't be back until very late Sunday and then I'm off on Monday to Sacramento for a meeting with my daughter-in-law and an immigration attorney. My daughter-in-law is from Japan, has been here four years and still doesn't have her green card. It's been lots of time, energy, money and paperwork and we just don't know where to go from here. We have lots of unanswered questions and don't know how to proceed. Hopefully we'll get some answers that we can work with. I'll blog some if I get the chance but it's possible I won't be back here until Tuesday the 22nd or even later. Next week is going to be crazy busy too.

This is my offering for today.

This week's Cancer Horoscope from Rob Brezsny at Free Will Astrology

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Reality is not all it's cracked up to be.
because millions of people suffer from the same hallucinations doesn't
mean those hallucinations are objectively true. I share Salvador Dali's
perspective: "One day it will have to be officially admitted that what
have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of
dreams." For these reasons and many more, I don't automatically dismiss
people who live in their own fantasy worlds. Their dreamy concoctions
may be no more deluded than those of normal people, and might be far
more fun and amusing. Everything I just said is a preface for the main
point of this horoscope, Cancerian, which is to give you temporary
to escape into the most beautiful mirage you can conjure up. Love your
fantastic visions. Let your imagination run far, far away with you.

Reality is not all it's cracked up to be.

John Keats said, "If something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." I've been playing around with the notion that reality is the only truth. Therefore, if reality is a prerequisite for truth, and truth is a prerequisite for beauty, my deductive equation to this is:

no beauty = no truth = no reality

Now I realize that this probably makes little sense to a lot of folks. Problem is though, I just wrote for an hour explaining how my silly mind wraps around this and damn if I didn't lose it all. I have no more time to write. I'm sorry. I'll try and return to this notion.

For now, let's just ponder...What if it were so?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Juicy Women As Revolting Hags

My Juicy Women's Group met again last Tuesday. We had a nice long relaxing check in before Rosemary continued with her sexual history.

Rosemary pulled the Uruz rune for Healing/Strength. Rani read the meaning and entertained us by singing the hymn that went along with the interpretation. This rune is often associated with sexual healing and strength which is apopro for our group. I found the Uruz rune on the internet associated with this picture below of Sheelah-Na-Gig, but the article was written in French which unfortunately I neither speak or read. Sheelah-Na-Gig is the Gatekeeper of the sacred yoni, the hag of birth and death.

Here's a couple more replications of Sheelah-Na-Gig.
Check out this site where I found this:
Trickster Hag, laughing and howling;Then veiled in the mist, silent as \ stone.Gateway and gatekeeper, Guide and challenger, Liminal-dwelling paradoxical crone.

Molly shared the sweet juiciness between her and her husband and I must say that it gave me a sweet smile when I saw them shopping at Trader Joe's and noticed that sweet juiciness oozing out of their togetherness.

Same with Pema--her lover is being more attentive and nurturing and she's excited with the hope that when his business struggles break and he isn't under so much daily stress, she will get to experience what being in relationship with him is really like.

Lena sacrificed a night out with Cindy Sheehan who was visiting Chico, to be with us. She reminded everyone that Mother's Day started as a proclamation of peace by the mothers of the world who were fed up with sending their sons off to war, and she shared this proclamation with us.

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us
to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity,
mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
"Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other
as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress,
not of Caesar, But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity,
I earnestly ask That a general congress of women
without limit of nationality May be appointed and held
at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Ana is still in a vulnerable space, feeling protective while she ends a marriage and opens more to her sexual juiciness. She's realizing more, her inner critic, guised as her spiritual guide with a strict rulebook of the do's and don'ts of how a spiritual person behaves, dresses, etc. She is relishing the support of her sisters while yearning to kiss and kiss and kiss, men.

Rani continues on her current journey of celibacy, abstaining from masturbation and rather just being with self, contemplating if this lack of sexual expression/release has her feeling deprived and thus overly hungry and engaging in emotional eating.

I spoke of my weekly horoscope about following my most intense passion mercilessly, and my introspection at defining exactly what this currently is...I will probably write more about this as I clarify more.

Rosmary picked up on a few stories of childhood love that felt significant to her and then briefly spoke of giving birth to her children as very empowering portals in her life during a time when she otherwise felt very trapped and disempowered. We learned about her eight year relationship with a man who fathered one of her children but never claimed her love. She spoke of her advent into polyamory, and a sexual FMF threesome that left her wanting more of that type of loving. She left us with a glimpse of her declared bi-sexuality, the one woman she fell in love with, and a 5 year triad with her husband and best friend. Awhile back Pema and I were joking about names for our group. A couple of the women had mentioned names with the "G" word, er, that would be as in Goddess and we were not favorable towards going that route. It's not that I don't like Goddesses, after all, I am one myself. I even have my own Goddess name, er, that would be Shewhobehot, Goddess Shewhobehot to those of you who want to push it with me. But the "G" word just sounded too cliche, too "Been that, done there". We've both participated in so many women's groups starting some twenty plus years back, all focused around the Goddess that we wanted something that reflected more of our evolving selves. Pema came up with Revolting Hags and I laughed, saying I would definitely go there before I'd agree on the "G" word. Perhaps Hag is a word we need to reclaim like the word Cunt was with the whole Vagina Monologues thing. I've always done my fair share of revolting as a woman. Doesn't this picture deplict a revolting hag?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Namesake

We watched "The Namesake" tonight, directed by Mira Nair of Monsoon Wedding, starring Kal Penn, Irfan Khan, and the Bollywood Star, Tabu.

This was a touching film based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Quite the touching film on the Indian diaspora and the loving struggle of an immigrant family caught in the meld of two cultures. Lots of warmth, color and emotion. Jerry and I both cried.

A Woman's Power (Part Two)

With all this people appreciation I've been experiencing, I'm also finding myself just a trifle annoyed.

Remember my post on "A Woman's Power," the one about my old friend who saw my article on polyamory and called to proselytize? Well my children let the cat out of the bag yesterday when my youngest daughter disclosed "Mom, my dad is really worked up about your article on polyamory." "Really?" I say. "Your father read my article?" Her father lives in Santa Cruz so her comment struck me as unusual. It seems that I'm not the only one who received a phone call from my old friend. My children's father and her have maintained a friendship over the years and she called him to let him know that I was encouraging people to have "multiple sexual relationships" and to voice her concern over the detrimental effect this could be having on our children. Not that I mind that really. What she thinks of my parental influence is none of my business and even though "encouraging people to have multiple sexual relationships" is not what I do, but I see nothing wrong with that per se so whatever. I encourage people to be open-minded about their personal love style choices and to be honest and responsible whether they choose to be monogamous or non-monogamous. And I was already aware that she had missed the real point of my article so no news there.

But what's got my goat right now is that she is proselytizing to my children in public places. She confronted my eldest daughter in the local natural foods store and insisted on talking about "your mother" and my sexually deviant ways, even after my daughter requested her to stop. She also advised my 24 year old son to beware that he had acquired his 'illicit sexual behavior' from me.

Excuse me? Could someone tell my old friend that her behavior is inappropriate and that I am a mere reflection of her pent up sexual repressions. Please advice her to go get herself laid and experience some of her sexual power before she's a dried up old prune.

Celebrating Mother's Day

I had a nice weekend. On Saturday we drove into the foothills for a friend's party. He has a beautiful piece of land with a pond and a creek running right next to his house. It was a beautiful day connecting with friends and I'm feeling blessed to have so many sweet people in my life.

Budai, Hotei, or otherwise known as "The Laughing Buddha" or "The Happy Buddha."
The Buddha

My son called from Hawaii to make sure that the orchid plant he sent had arrived. It did, with 9 out of 11 buds intact. The first one blossomed on Mother's Day.

This is Bllra, Tahoma Glacier, "Sugar Sweet." I have it sitting in the bay window in my parlor.

Wooden figurine in my bay window.
Dragonfly. One of my totem animals.
The bay window in my parlor. This is our sacred spot for dyad communication.

A dozen plus yellow roses from Jerry.
He gave me a single red rose on our very first date and now fourteen years later, he's still gifting me with flowers. I like having a sweet man in love with me.
My sweet Jerry playing with our granddaughter. She's put her pink sunglasses on him and thinks it's hilarious. This little girl loves to laugh.

My brother and his family came from out of town and we took my mom to lunch at one of our favorite childhood restaurants. Three of my kids and three grandkids showed up and all us moms were treated with flowers and gifts and hugs and all that good stuff.

My daughter-in-law came by with my granddaughter later in the afternoon. They had made me green tea chocolate chip cookies and homemade soap. My granddaughter and I eat all the cookies. Do you know how to say cookie in Japanese? I learned how today. Cookie. And there is no plural as in "cookies". It's just cookie, whether you are talking about one or a bunch. We eat a bunch. We eat all the cookie.

I'm appreciating everyone in my life--my mother, my kids, my husband, my family, my friends.

I've gone through some very difficult Mother's Days in the past. For many years I tended to depress myself on the holidays. It didn't matter which one, I always found a way to play the victim--to have someone that I loved "do me wrong." I've diligently worked to overcome this unbecoming habit. One by one, year after year, I learned to get through these special days without falling apart. Mother's Day proved to be the most difficult for me. I've mentioned before that I have lots of shame around my mothering and some big issues to overcome. Expectations can get the best of us.

I've come to understand my faulty thinking in that I need something other than what is. That is a dangerous trap, a mind game created by my "pain body" , that only brings me grief. Accepting what is not only brings peace, but also sanity. "What is" is reality. What I really need is to experience what's real in my life. I'm rather tired of losing myself in fantasy.

Today I give thanks for the ease of my relationships. These pictures reflect some of the love and beauty present in my life that I've experienced over the weekend.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Like Father Like Son

Maybe I should apologize in advance for being a bragging grandmother, just to warn you where this is going. But I just can't help myself today. It's not my style to carry pictures of all my grand kids around in my wallet, showing them to people for them to fawn over. I understand that every grandparent thinks that it's their grand kids who are highly attractive, intelligent, and oh so special in so many ways. I'm not going there. I just think this is very cool and it's art ya know. I like to support the arts and it just so happens that I'm related to this little guy.

My six year old grandson (from Jerry's eldest son) is an artist, like his dad (who by the way has been really been carving out a nice little niche for himself in the art world.) Anyway, the opening of my grandson's first art show was last Friday. His dad came up with the idea and created a collaborative art project for his son to make art with some well known artists, and together they have come up with some really special pieces. The pictures I've posted here are small so you can't see a lot of the details but they give you an idea of the collaboration. This one at the top, of the bird on the hill, is my favorite.

Local musicians provided the entertainment.

See the artist's dad in the reflection above?

Jerry is reflected in this one.

The artist's four year old sister, my granddaughter.

And my grandson, the artist.

The show is traveling to Minnesota in a couple of weeks.

And I made a little art of my own.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Does The Buddha Like Cheeses?

He was five years old.

"Mama," he said. "Is Gouda better than cheese is?"

"Honey," I replied, "Gouda is cheese. It's a type of cheese. There's Swiss Cheese, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Feta, Brie, and Gouda; lots of different types of cheeses. I'll buy some Gouda for you to try."

He listened patiently and then tried again.

"Mama, is Buddha better than Jesus?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Editing Our Souls

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The counsel I'm about to offer is not given lightly. If you choose to heed it, it could wreak discomfort and disorder, at least initially. And you'll have to pump yourself up with more courage than you're used to feeling. Still, I'm convinced it's the right thing for you to hear; I believe that any breakdown it might engender will ultimately lead to a breakthrough. So here's the advice, courtesy of Franz Kafka: "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."
Yes, I'm a Cancer with the symbol 69 used to represent the qualities that best describe those of my sign. My Sun is in Cancer, with my Moon in Libra, and my rising sign in Scorpio. I have more of an intuitive understanding of what this means than actually being able to talk about it in any flowing, intelligent way. I've had people ask me what my astrological sign is, and by giving them the clue that I've given birth to six children they can guess it accurately.

Jerry's Sun is in Libra, with his Moon in Cancer and his rising sign in Scorpio. So we really match up in a kind of similar but opposite way. I find this interesting but not surprising. Several years ago I bought a compass to figure out the feng shui directions of our home. I did all these calculations to figure which directions were the most favorable for us to face while we slept and eat and all that.

Again, Jerry's and mine were similar and opposite. My most favorable position was Northeast whereas Jerry's was Southwest. My second most favorable position was Jerry's Southwest position and his second most favorable position was my Northeast position. So for instance, when we sit facing one another at the dinner table to eat, or gaze into each others eyes for a dyad communication, we are both not only facing our beloved, but also facing our most favorable position. Same when we sleep--well no, we don't sleep head to foot but facing either my most favorable position, or his, each of us are in either our foremost or second most favorable position. Kinda cool huh?

I just think there is something very synchronistically romantic about all of this.

Anyway, I've written a post about Rob Brezsny and his Free Will Astrology before and I guess it was time for me to mention him again. I really love his horoscopes and the way his mind works. He is a poetic genius as far as I am concerned so I'm encouraging everyone to check out his site on a regular basis and also to sign up for his astrological readings. He will generously gift your email in-box with his weekly horoscopes.

So, back to my horoscope for this week and my take (and rambling musings) on what Rob's brilliance means to me personally.
The counsel I'm about to offer is not given lightly. If you choose to heed it,
it could wreak discomfort and disorder, at least initially.
I've never been one to avoid discomfort or disorder in my life. Emotionally or physically. If I think there will be some benefit awaiting me I'll usually go for it, whatever "it" is. Heck, sometimes I'll jump into discomfort and disorder even without any perceived ultimate benefit.

Take these Enlightenment Intensives I've been doing--they are not exactly easy on my body. Sitting for hours and hours a day from early morning until late at night is down right painful at times and I'm a squirmer to begin with. But the benefit is immense so I go for it without question.

As for disorder, well, as I've grown older and wiser I'm more hesitant to create emotional disorder/discomfort in my life and will avoid it if at all possible. Yet, I'll jump right into the fray if I perceive the ultimate payoff is greater than the cost. And disorder in my physical environment? Well, I tend to be messy. Some have been known to call me a slob. I see no benefit whatsoever to the disorder I create and I am well aware of its many detriments, and yet I persist. In the past, I've contemplated how my messes create distance between me and others. Am I using them to avoid intimacy? I have only a few friends that I am truly comfortable exposing the extent of my messiness to. I have avoided inviting people to my house because my messes embarrass me. Whenever I need motivation to clean up I'll just throw a party or invite someone over because it's a sure bet that I'll clean up before they arrive.
And you'll have to pump yourself up with more courage than you're used to feeling.
I'm not very connected to the word courage. And I'll have to pump myself up with courage? How would I do that? Allow me to contemplate this for a moment...I suppose courage is feeling my fear and doing it anyway. I think I've posted about that before too. I've done a lot of that. I've never thought of my spiritual path as "courageous" but I suppose it's a word that really fits. And I do bolster up my courage all the time. How do I do this? I suppose it relates to my belief system and the integrity I possess that pushes me to live my life in a way that matches up with what I most value.

For instance, my commitment to telling the truth. It's not always easy but I believe that telling the truth is the best thing for me and for my relationships when I do. It's become something that I value highly. My integrity helps me to tell the truth, and also, telling the truth strengthens my integrity. No, I don't always tell the truth, not to the level I'm striving for, far from it. And I'll write a post on everything I've discovered about truthtelling sometime soon.) I still have some holes and weak spots in my truthtelling cloth of integrity. As my 20 year old son would say, "My bad."

Some of my courage comes from the wisdom of experience that tells me that it works best when I do the things I need to do to be the person I want to be and create the type of relationships I want. Mostly, I know what I need to do and sometimes its doing things that initially cause discomfort and/or disorder. It takes courage to invite discomfort and disorder into my life but I do it because I care about myself, I care about others, and simply because I want what I want and that's usually the best way to get it.

My courage also comes from a vision of my future self. Becoming more of the person I truly. Shedding my false identities. Blossoming into my authentic self. Living more of the life that matches the real me. It comes from my hopes and dreams of what is possible.
Still, I'm convinced it's the right thing for you to hear; I believe that any breakdown it might engender will ultimately lead to a breakthrough.
I like breakthroughs and even though I tend toward laziness, I'm willing to work for them. That's what the Enlightenment Intensives are about. That's what attempting to meditate everyday is about. Breaking through to Enlightenment. Breaking through to more of my true self. Breakdowns? Well, yea, I've had those too. A lot of them in fact. And they aren't so bad really. In fact, it's mostly a relief and a release when they arrive. Kinda like throwing up. I know some people hate to throw-up but me, I don't mind it much at all. It's kinda gross yes, but I feel so much better afterwards.

Breakdowns are usually about letting go of yet another false identity. My ego hates this and fights for its attachments, but oh well. My ego has been in charge of my life long enough. My turn. I'll still play with it but it's gonna have to loosen it's grip on the reins a bit learn to share some of the control.
So here's the advice, courtesy of Franz Kafka: "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."
I do tend to bend and water myself down. Yes I definitely do. I mean, isn't bending the same as being flexible? Isn't that a good thing? Watering down sounds wimpy and I do this too, usually out of fear that I'm going to offend someone. And isn't presenting a strong opinion rather ugly? I've certainly had my share of strong opinions in my life and I've been working to rid myself of them. I think I like not knowing better. I think I can do without "making it logical"... but then, I guess I do get caught up in that too. And editing my soul according to fashion? Ouch. I love fashion and is that necessarily a bad thing? Fashion tends to blow in on these massive waves of creative energy and what's the problem with catching a nice wave? It can be exhilarating. OK, not at the expense of my soul though so I'll be cautious of soul depleting fashion.

I think this is a lot what I'm doing here on this blog, attempting to expose my authentic self. Doing my best to not edit the real me for fear of who may read this stuff. A radical honesty sort of thing. But I'm not being radically honest, not really. There is some stuff I just don't write about because I'm afraid of certain people's power over me if I go too far in exposing myself. Most of my self-censorship has to do with sex. Expressing too much of my sexual identity, my desires and kinks, my vulnerabilities and places I feel broken. All that might be deemed as so inappropriate by some people and they might get uncomfortable and start looking at me weird, or avoid me... or something worse. And I'm a bit unclear about my boundaries there so until I have more clarity on these sensitive spots I'll continue being a tad cautious I guess.

I also carry shame around my mothering and it's very difficult for me to admit some of the ways I've failed as a mother, some of the ugliness I've engaged in at the expense of my children. Not that I feel the need to confess my mothering sins to the world at large but sometimes I feel inauthentic when discussing children stories with women who took on their mothering role with much more grace, surrender, and emotional maturity than I.

Some of this I'm fairly good at though and I've been diligently working on how to "not edit" myself gracefully. How to not bend, not water myself down for another's benefit. Just telling my truth and saying it like I see it, like I am. I've currently been practicing what I'm calling "a holding on to self while allowing space for another."

I want to follow my most intense obsession mercilessly. I want to feel my passion and not tuck it safely away where I and others won't feel threatened by it. I believe I've done this in some areas of my life. Polyamory for instance. Just ask my husband. I've refused to edit my soul for the fashionable social construct of monogamy. I've refused to forsake love for fear and comfort masquerading as love.

So now, my horoscope for the week--to follow my most intense obsessions mercilessly.

What are my most intense obsessions right now? Writing this blog. Loving more. Telling the truth. I asked Jerry what he thought my most intense obsession was right now and he said "Being authentic."

And what does "to follow them mercilessly" mean? To follow relentlessly?