Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Gets me thinking about my life and my sexuality. I like thinking of myself as kinky even though I'm just a little curled. I'm sure Matisse and her social circle would consider me vanilla and boring. Heck, I consider myself sexually boring at times. But I like the feeling the word kinky creates for me and I revolt a bit that BDSM players seem to have a monopoly on the word. One dictionary definition for kinky is strikingly unconventional, although more often than not the word is referring to bizarre or deviant sexual tastes and perverted practices. Pervert implys something unnatural or abnormal, just plain wrong. So by societies standards I may be a bit abnormal and Mattisse and her friends may be extremely abnormal but I beg to differ that there is anything unnatural or wrong going on. We humans do some strange stuff no doubt but that's what being human is all about.
Living In The Love Bubble
If I'm to compare myself to socities norms, I want to be strikingly unconventional. I just strive to embrace more unconventionally in my life. My husband actually calls me provincial. Heck, now by golly, I was raised in northern California. But he is mostly making that jab in regards to my musical tastes. And truthfully, I am aware that I lack urban sophistication, so although in Seattle my sexual tastes may be considered provincially vanilla, in the community were I live, the kinky descriptor is a closer fit. It's all relative.
I was at a large scale fashion show/event, Freak Phenomena, last Friday night that was put on by a group of women artists/designers who focus on textiles and performance art. Their name is Chikoko, and they design and sew all of the clothes/costumes themselves. They are part of of our local 30 something crowd, my daughter is one of their photographers and many of my friend's kids we in the show. They are an intelligent, creative, sexy, and kinky bunch--maybe just the strikingly unconventional but kinky nevertheless, not afraid to let their freak flags fly.
The day after their show I was at the Farmer's market and a friend asked me about the show. She said, "were the clothes they modeled skanky?" That question seemed so incredibly odd to me. I asked her what she meant by skanky and she described a parade that happened in Chico several years back where a few men and women scantily dressed in black leather and latex clothing provided a mild BDSM presence with their whips, collars and other accoutrements of the kinky lifestyle. I recalled this as it was pretty far out for Chico and although I was shocked, it made me very happy when I witnessed it. I found myself annoyed with my friend's use of the word skanky as it was obvious to me that she wasn't referring to the the reggae dance style but rather to something disgusting, filthy and sexually promiscuous. She confirmed for herself what she wanted to understand with something about "knowing how you are" so yes indeed, it must have been skanky. This woman was amused and laughing and not meaning to offend me. I'm sure she finds herself quite liberal in her sexual "openmindedness" and I am not personally offended by her type of mindset but it made me a bit nauseous and I found it disgustingly sex-negative and Neanderthal.
I certainly don't fit well into a stereotypical sex labeled box. I'm openminded and curious and sex is definitely one of the things I'm most interested in in life. Without any specific order of importance here are my top 20 interests in life as they come to mind in this moment:
6. the mind
7. the body and the rest of the physical world
8. the ego
9. the blendedness of my beingness--both physical and non-physical
10. family and friends
12. physical touch/massage
13. adventure/exploring new things/finding new interests
16. telling the truth/vulnerability/transparency
17. power exchange in relationships
19. creative/artistic expression
20. the lives of sexual gurus, experts,sex workers, sexual spiritual practices...
I think sex does belong at both the top and bottom of my list because it seems to encompass and intertwine with just about everything I am interested in. I think about sex a lot and I'm fairly certain that sex is one of the the main reasons I came here to play. Sex and love. That would explain my penchant for sexually loving relationships--multiple ones simultaneously.
I'm intrigued with the various forms that sexuality is expressed and I love exploring how other people do sex, be it BDSM, tantra, sex work, polyamory etc. I'm not much interested in the sexual expression of monogamy as I find it so traditionally boring, an empty ritual that people make all this meaning out of but when it gets right down the the actual reasons behind monogamy I find it off putting. I'd be interested in finding a monogamous philosophy that I could respect. I do respect the practice monogamy when a couple just sort of falls into exclusivity by default. Hey, I suppose I could allow for a conscious choice with the monogamous lifestyle too. Ha! Life gets busy with kids, work, play and other forms of creativity and adventure and sometimes there just isn't the time for another lover (or even for one lover for some folks.) Sometimes there is simply no other lover available and sometimes the bonding and intimacy in a new (or old) relationship feels so good and is taking so much of one's attention that they aren't sexually interested in anyone else for the time being. There are just so many cycles in life when multiple sexual partners are just not what we may want or need at that time. But enforced monogamy annoys me. One partner holding the other hostage to monogamous irks me. Not that I don't respect people's right to be monogamous, people have the right to engage in any type of sexual fetish that they are attracted to. But if being an adult baby is what turns you on, don't expect me to get all gaga with you, and if you want to be monogamous that's fine, just don't expect me give up any current or potential future lovers for you because you would feel better controlling who I do and don't have sex with.
Ha. I have an emotional charge around monogamy so I must have more to learn in a personal way from it. Perhaps it's just related to my freedom issues and I suspect that I carry some regret for practicing enforced monogamy for so many years. Not that I didn't willingly choose to be monogamous myself, or try to hold my partners hostage in this way, because I did. But I believe that my so called choice came from an indoctrinated belief system, a social and egotistical rule formed out of ignorance and fear. I will continue studying monogamy and if I find some sources that give me additional insight I'll write about it.
Back to living in that love bubble. My juicy women's group is a love bubble of sorts. We've been meeting for several months now and out of six total women sharing their sexual histories, we are in the midst of the fourth woman. Besides initiating ourselves into the group by sharing our sexual pasts, we spend a lot of time just checking in, updating each other as to what we've been up to since our last meeting. But the majority of what we share with each other is about love, sex, or the variety of ways we exist in the world as sexually juicy women. Ours is a love bubble because we share without judgment and opinion. No one is right or wrong, we just are and it's all welcome. We witness one another in sacred space and although we might lovingly call someone on a pattern we observe, everyone is accepted for who she is and what she does. It's all good and everyone has such exciting stories. I can never wait to get back to our group.
Out of the six women, five of us call ourselves polyamorous. Currently only one out of the five has more than one sexual partner...well let me be more specific. Womean #1 currently has multiple sexual partners. Her main lover is a married man who is also polyamorous but she has other lovers she sees on and off. Woman #2 is currently being monogamous with her lover but discussing with him, her taking on another lover. She also has sex with a client but this is allowed within their "monogamous" agreement. Woman #3 pratices polyamory on a regular basis when she is isn't in a committed relationship--she is bi-sexual and has had a certain female lover for many years (they just celebrated either their 25th or 30th anniversary together--I forget which.) She goes in and out of being sexual with this lover because most of the men she has committed to long term have insisted that she not be sexual with this female lover. When she is not in a committed long term relationship with a man, she generally has different lovers of both sexes although she has recently come out of a period of celibacy and an old flame has reentered her life. Per her last update she is not interested in being sexual with anyone else...er, except she is having phone sex...or maybe it's just phone erotica, with another man she was interested in before her old flame appeared on the scene. Woman #4 has currently ended an 8 year marriage and is open to having as many lovers as they come around. Although she is currently only being sexual with one man, she has specific plans of making no commitment to monogamy with him. She is also seeing a sex worker. Woman #5 is currently monogamous by default although there are a few men she is interested in. Woman #6 has been monogamously married for many years but is interested in the polyamory.
But a communal love bubble of the type Matisse is referring to? No. Most of my friends are hopelessly monogamous. I definitely do not live in Seattle. I don't hide who I am and my friends are seeminly accepting of my ways, but...well, even most of my polyamorous friends practice monogamy. I have one friend who has been married for many years and is committed to her family, loves and is devoted to her husband and the child they have together. She is in love with another man who was previously her lover who she broke up with to be with her current husband. She would never cheat on her husband, or leave him. But, she yearns and fantasizes for a "real" relationship with this other man (who continues to be a close friend of their family.) She considers him her soul mate, the love of her life. And yet she tells me point blank that she isn't polyamorous, that that isn't ok with her. An odd quirk to this story is that her husband cheats on her continuously. Well, I agree, it obviously is not ok with her but regardless, she is in love with two men simultaneously.
So I live my life, evolving in my awareness of who I am as a sexual being. I frequent places like the Folsom Street Faire, and bars like Uncle Charlie's when I visit San Francisco. I attend sex positive seminars and conferences and watch films that address sexual climate and culture. I read Mistress Matisse's blog and those of other polyamourous and BDSM people. I read books and frequent the websites of the sexperts and sexworkers. I lap up what I can of sex-positivity in our up-tight, sexually repressed, monogamously inclined, sexually different discriminating culture. I see polyamorous clients and write articles on polyamory in my local alternative paper. I work to understand who and what I am and who and what others are as sexual beings. Hey, I even have a male friend who is willing to kiss on a married woman. I would adore living in a love bubble. It's a dream of mine. Right now I'm thankful for my juicy women and my husband--they are pretty damn good love bubbles in and of themselves.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
You can check out their website (and also make a donation there) by clicking on their name above and/or read what wikipedia has to say about them here. You can also watch a video from their website here and/or watch the video I've posted from youtube below. The video below is a short clip of Zainab Salbi, who is the Founder and CEO, Women for Women International.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sufi masters are those whose spirits existed before the world
Before the body they lived many lifetimes
Before seeds went into the ground they harvested wheat
Before there was an ocean they strung pearls
While the great meeting was going on
About bringing human beings into existence
They stood up to their chins in wisdom water
When some of the angels opposed creation
The Sufi Shakes laughed and clapped among themselves
Before materiality they knew what it was like to be trapped inside
Before there was a night sky they saw Saturn
Before wheat grains they tasted bread
With no mind they thought
Immediate intuition to them is the simplest act of consciousness
What to others would be Epiphany
Much of our thought is of the past or the future
They are free of those
Before a mine is dug they judge coins
Before vineyards they know the excitements to come
In July they feel December
In unbroken sunlight they find shade
In Fanaa the state where all objects absolve they recognize
The open sky drinks from their circling cup
The sun wears the gold of their generosity
When two of them meet they are no longer two
They are one and six-hundred-thousand
The ocean waves are their closest likeness
When wind makes from unity the numerous
Self, as a peace rebel has been playing with me. Currently there is an issue up with a friend/acquaintance. I've been part of a women's financial club for five or six years. There has been a steady seven of us for several years and it's been a stable and simple learning/investing experience. We have all enjoyed one another's company, some of us being good friends outside of this particular circle and others of us just connected through the club.
Four of the women decided it was time for them to leave the club. This meant that we needed to sell lots of stock to buy them out. There was some consideration of disbanding the entire club but three of us decided to stay. The work of picking which stocks to sell turned out to be time consuming. There was all sorts of figuring we needed to do in the process. The club has by-laws which we were trying to interpret, meetings with everyone to make decisions and get agreements straight, emails, phone calls, connecting for this and that.
Some agreements were made in ignorance and the consequences weren't fully understood until we were doing the work to finalize the buy out process. When we realized the actual effect of some of the agreements we ended up making some hasty decisions. I say hasty because I realize now that we were trying to complete the process faster than we actually needed to. One of the women seemed to be chomping at the bit for her money and we wanted to get it to her ASAP. We were trying to be professional and efficient. There were several hassles that came up but nothing that was really unpleasant, at least for me.
One of the decisions we made was to lower the club share price from the amount we originally agreed upon. We did this because by the time the stocks were actually sold they had lost value. There was a loss to the club and for those of us calculating the figures, it seemed fair and reasonable to split the loss between all of us. The decision to do this was run across the three of us remaining in the club and one of the women who was leaving. Four women was a majority and we didn't imagine that anyone would have an issue with it anyway. We were wrong.
One of the women is furious. She feels ripped off, taken advantage of, not considered. She has her reasoning, her point of view. She does not want to share the loss between all of us but thinks it should stay with the remaining club members. We agreed to pay her a certain amount and we broke our agreement.
I suppose that there might be a legal right or wrong to our decision. I don't know what that might be and although I'm a little curious, that really isn't the issue for me. I'm fairly certain that what we did was in our legal rights but even if we legally ripped her off, we didn't do so intentionally. We thought what we were doing was fair and that any reasonable person would come to the same conclusion. After the fact, this woman asked me if I were in her position, how would I feel? I think I would feel fine but I'm not her and I'm not in her position so I don't really know. I do know that one of the women who was bought out feels fine with our decision for herself, but she also understands this other woman's point of view.
So, what to do? My peace rebel says to give her what she wants. But is the money all she really wants? Does she want us to understand her point of view? I do. Does she want us to agree with her? I don't. She seems to really have taken on the victim role here but she is not lying down. She is fighting for her survival. I listened to her vent for quite some time, while she referenced her same points and issues over and over. What seemed to calm her down was when I suggested that we all needed to get together and discuss this. She agreed.
Part of me doesn't want to get together with her. I don't want to agree with her and I don't want to give her anymore of my time and energy. My heels are dug in. I'm know how to feel offended too, even though it's a place I really don't care to go much these days, it's like riding a bike. We made an agreement out of ignorance and when we discovered our error we changed it. A majority of the women agreed that the decision was fair--and it is fair by god. I'm the reasonable one here. She is not. I would not want her to take all of the loss, why does she want me to? Fuck her. This is certainly not about the money, at least for me. Or is it? Could it be for her? We are talking about less than $100.00. Part of me is willing to give her the money if that is what she wants, but I'll be sure to let her know that I don't agreed with her when I give her a check in my self-righteousness. I'll hide that attitude though and act gracious...as long as she gets it that I think she is wrong.
My peace rebel wants to hear her out with an open mind, willing to change my own mind. I want to understand her feelings and needs and open-heartedly receive her requests. If it's the money she wants, I wants to give it to her with love and non-attachment whether my mind has changed or not. I don't care, or need her to know what I think, unless of course she asks and really wants to know. I want to connect with her, not the details of her story and I want her to feel good.
But is this really the "right" thing to do? Besides, it is not just my decision at this point anyway. I can certainly do my own part though. I know my ego is in the forefront of this, vying for position with my peace rebel--and ego has more at stake, more to lose. I know better than to trust it completely, to give it full reign. Ego is not all bad and doesn't always make faulty decisions. It works hard to protect me and I appreciate that. But I'm what I'm also getting here is that I don't really trust my peace rebel either. I think it might be some mamby pamby peace-nik that doesn't stick up for what's right, for justice. I don't want to put all my faith into something that will always kowtow to others and allow me to be walked all over. What if it just doesn't have the courage to call a spade a spade. But is that my self-righteous arrogant ego talking?
I can be such a confused person at times. Integration is tough.
"Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones
bruise even at too heavy a human touch. Every strawberry you have ever eaten has
been picked by callused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represents
someone's knees, someone's aching backs and hips, someone with a bandanna on her
wrist to wipe away the sweat." —Alison Luterman, quoted in *After the Ecstasy,
the Laundry,* by Jack Kornfield
I pulled this off of Rob Brezsny's weekly FreeWill Astrology Newsletter today.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So onward with this process of integration. Basically I'm just being more mindful. Nothing is much different really except I feel different. Lighter.
I am lighter too. I've been losing some weight, not lots but probably dropping a pound or two a week. I'm eating way different and my body is enjoying it. I was carrying 10 extra pounds for a year and then another 10 on top of that for another year and my body wasn't liking being that heavy. None of my clothes fit me and that's been a bummer.
But this lighter feeling I'm talking about isn't really about my weight. Dropping the weight is nice but my psyche feels lighter, my mind more at ease, my ego calm (relatively speaking) and my body moving more energy through it. I'm wanting to breathe my body more and do more yoga, opening those stuck places. My stomach is enjoying being fairly empty for a good portion of the day but also enjoying food and then feeling satisfied when full, but not too full when it's been hungry and then well fed.
I'm called to clean and declutter my house and I'm doing more of that, bit by bit.
I'm feeling pulled to peace. There is a peaceful warrior inside of me that is rebelling for peace. A peace rebel. My ego is bumping against this in defiance but it's not an all out war, just a mild resistance, a testing. It's almost as if my ego is feeling safer, more at ease. Taken care of, like a child who is contained by appropriate boundaries.
I feel good. I feel strange in a mellow sort of way. I'm not pushing myself to "be good" or "do better", I'm just being more mindful of my inner urgings and making more conscious choices.
When we stop running away from what presents itself in each moment, our loving
care for ourselves and one another can flow unimpeded.--Jack Kornfield
Mind: Meditate. Contemplate. Be mindful. Less rational mental masturbation and more being in the moment with the energy of what is. Mindfulness of thinking, dropping my stories. Experience Emptiness. Segment intending. Organize and declutter. Experience nature.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I want to talk about my parts--my body, mind and ego along with my true self. But please bear with me while I digress a little into some background on the field of psychology. I'll get to my bits and pieces soon enough.
The field of psychology likes to use labels and create lists of criteria that place people in boxes. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association is the system that psychotherapists and psychiatrists use to classify and diagnose mental disorders. It is a very pathological oriented tool.
In 1966 the DSM contained 66 disorders with a short list of symptoms and a brief explanation of the believed causes of these disorders. In 1979 the DSM added a diagnostic system of five scales which allows for consideration of different aspects of a person's life and provides a more detailed diagnosis criteria. Currently, the DSM, known as DSM-IV (the numbers change as the manual is revised) contains nearly 400 disorders with prototypes of disorders and questions that define the disorders depending on whether certain symptoms are present or absent. I don't believe that people are sicker than they once were, we just have a wider variety of boxes to put them into.
The disorder that has inspired this current train of thought is called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I was thinking about us humans as blended beings. One of my teachers who is called Abraham, coined this term and it describes the human beingness so perfectly that I've taken it on. Blended being refers to our eternal non-physical nature, while we temporarily create a life here in physical form. It seems to me that there is an organic affliction, a conflict of sorts that arises early on in the homogenization process, this mixing of physical and non physical elements that creates the human condition. As I contemplate my own humanness and the symptoms that cause me to suffer, the DID label works best to describe the condition I am afflicted with.
DID is a mental condition where a person, one single individual, has two or more distinct identities or personalities. These personalities are a composite of thoughts, feelings, experiences and memories that separate themselves off from the other personalities, each consisting of their own specific grouping of thoughts, feelings, experiences and memories. Each of these personalities engage in their own unique pattern of perceiving and interacting with their environment--friends, family, community, personal habits, the world at large. These different personalities have a routine of taking control of the person's behavior and there is a loss of memory that is associated with this routine of taking control by the various personalities. When one of these personalities is in control, there is no memory of the time during which the other personality was in control.
Back to my own symptons and conflicts...There seems to arise a clash of incompatible ideas and interests, a mutual exclusivity of desires and tendencies, an opposition in motivation that brings about this conflict. I suspect there is no "real" conflict but rather the overwhelming stress this process causes, skews the perception, kicks ones into survival mode, creating an incredible defense system. I imagine that our parts (non-physical self, mind, body, ego) come together, similar to how the members of a family are enmeshed. There is both a strong sense of bonded connection as well as a strong sense of autonomy and need for individuality and separateness. Some families find a functional balance, supporting one another's individual needs while maintaining a healthy whole, while other families fight and struggle to survive in a dysfunctionality that neither supports the individual or the family unit as a whole. Integration of the conflicting needs of all the members is the key to wholeness, harmony, balance and knowledge of self and another.
The physical being consists of a physical body of course, but also a mind and an ego. These are all great, necessary things, that allow us to exist in the physical world. The ego is motivated by the desire to survive--at all costs. It piles on and clings to false identities in a desperate attempt to feel real, to exist. The ego is caught between a rock and a hard place though because it's not real, at least it's realness in temporary, and yet, there it is. And how could we possibly survive without our egos it in this physical environment? So we have to learn to deal with the ego's tenacious tendency to latch on to false identities with a "until death do us part" mentality.
Then there is the "real" us, the truth of who and what we are. This real us is not temporary, and it outlasts the ego, mind and body. I'm not going to go into great detail talking about who and what we are because I've only had a few direct experiences of that for myself, so it would be arrogant of me for me to tell others who they are. I do have some ideas that what I am is the same as what everyone of us is and there are many religious and spiritual teachings that suggest who and what we are. And although it may be interesting to imagine who and what we are and to read exciting things about ourselves, ultimately we all need to experience this in a direct way. Anyway, I have already gone so far as to say that we are eternal non-physical beings and it's fine with me if you think otherwise but this is a story about my understanding at this point so I'm going to continue. I'll also say that non-physical beings have certain qualities such as omnipotent (infinite, all powerful); omnipresent (everywhere); and omniscient (all knowing). I also use terms such as truth, love, real, existing in the moment; etc. to describe a non-physical being, or in other words, the true self.
The unlimited possibilities of blending the physical with the non-physical form the action and plot of our lives. It's not an easy feat figuring this all out, settling into the blend and practically applying all this infinite, everywhere, all knowingness through the body, mind and ego. I've only said a little about the ego and then there's the mind. I can best describe my own mind as often being like a fucking chainsaw in the the hands of a two year old. Well, think of a big, strong, two year old like Bamm Bamm in the Flintstones. The mind is a wonderful thing, an incredible tool. But left untrained, neglected, and in the care of the ego--watch out! And then the body--oh these lovely bodies that serve us so well. And how we so often neglect and abuse them. But the mystical heights and secret places our bodies can take us when they are attended to, loved and nurtured, trained and well explored.
There often comes a time of reckoning for those with DID. This reckoning is a healing, a time of integration of the various personalities, a time to bring the whole fam damily together. As I mentioned before, the various personalities in DID are groupings of different thoughts, feelings, experiences and memories. Each unique personality is created by these specific combinations. These dissociative personalities are based in survival and integration is a choice to do more than just survive. Thus we arrive at the most significant point of my using the DSM definition of DID as an analogy of my different parts--my true self; my ego; my mind; my body. I choose to live at my full potential as a blended being by integrating these dissociative parts. I believe I can accomplish this by living with more mindful awareness, attending to the needs of all my parts. My time of reckoning has come.
My ego definitely has been functioning in survival mode too much of the time. My mind is like the rebel child, wild with untrained intelligence. My body too often neglected, rebells and causes havoc when ignored or abused too much. And yet it has been so forgiving. A loyal friend. My true self is patient and persistent, always nudging and guiding me, sagacious but allowing for my free will who too often listens to the loud voice of my pushy, arrogant ego. All these parts are necessary and make my existence as a human being possible. But I need integration, I want to know the potential of my true self, who and what I am. I yearn for the leadership of this true self, keeping my body, mind, and ego in balance.
In DID the dissociative personalities fear integration. They see it as death and consider it disrespectful of all they have undergone to ensure survival. But integration offers wholeness, strength and a stable sense of identity. It offers a knowing of who and what I am. I don't want to kill my ego, I just want to bring it into the fold. I don't want to "control" my mind, I want to train it so it is more free and use its intelligent in more creative and powerful ways. I want to hone my body to its full potential (or at least develop it more in that direction) so I can experience deeper body wisdom along with more varied and intense physical pleasure. I know that my human condition will work much better for me when all my parts are working in sync with each other, in service to me rather than running rampant on their own. Integration is surrender to self and when this process is mastered the true purpose of human existence can be played out.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"Each of us has a story about our life that either empowers us or disempowers us; that opens us up to new possibilities or shuts us down. At its highest, our story exists to teach us, to help us grow, to evolve our soul. But instead we make the mistake of allowing it to define us and dictate the course of our life. Even though we have the ability to gaze outside our story and view the world around us, too often we stay safely trapped inside, comfortable with the familiar terrain, bound by a belief that no matter what we do, think, or say, we can go no further. Our story keeps us apart even while we are begging to belong and fit in. It drains our life force, leaving us physically tired and emotionally weary. And if that's not bad enough, the weight of our story breeds resentment, feeds resignation and hopelessness, and guarantees our fate. When we live as though we are trapped inside of it, we inevitably engage in the self-sabotaging behaviors that rob us of our real power and joy."
A young girl asks a wise old woman, "How does one become a butterfly?"
With a twinkle in her eye, the old woman replies, "You must be willing to give up being a caterpillar."
Here is another link to Debbie and her sister Arielle and links to purchase Debbie's books. I've read Spiritual Divorce and the Dark Side of the Light Chasers and would highly recommend both of them.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday was a whirlwind of activity. We slept in till about 9:30 or so and then I made myself a cup of tea before we walked over to the Farmer's Market which is right out our back door. Jerry got some coffee at our friend's coffee cart to go with his Saturday morning pastry. We visited with various friends and I actually shopped for some fruits and vegetables which I often don't do as it ends up being more of a social event for me. Jerry played music with the band, Seckund Naychur, that plays there most every week. My brother showed up from out of town, and we hung out and chatted for awhile before he headed over to our mother's house and I left to do her weekly grocery shopping. Who knows were the day disappeared to but before I knew it, it was almost 5:00 and time to head over to a friend's Cuba themed party. She just recently returned from Cuba and is returning again next month. There was tons (like 12 pounds or something) of coconut shrimp, rice, beans, salsa, and other yummy food as well as a bottomless pitcher of mohitos, my favorite.
We had to leave the party early as we had tickets to see George Winston who was playing at the Laxson Auditorium. George is a friend of mine, a very sweet man who I met in Hawaii in 1993. I only see him when he does a concert in my area but it's always nice to connect with him and hear him play his music. When we got home form the concert I found myself tangled in an emotional web between two people that I love dearly. I probably ended up more distraught than either of them. I went to bed nauseous, had a restless sleep, at one point waking myself sobbing, my face wet with tears. One of these friends had done something that struck me as so incredibly mean that I was just bereft with grief. I was also furious at what I perceived as the injustice of the attack. I allowed my ego have a hey day and spewed forth my anger in an email the next morning.
I originally had plans to spend the day with some other friends but I felt the need to stay home for some quality time with Jerry, connecting and doing some ritual I had planned for our anniversary. One thing that we did was a Broom Ritual which oddly enough, I learned at a housewarming party for the friend I had just spewed my anger at over in my morning email. The broom is often a significant part of a handfasting ceremony so I adapted the broom ritual to be a metaphor for Jerry's and my union. I had bought a lovely new corn broom and we ripped colored material into strips which we used to decorate the broom handle. As we wrapped the strips around the handle we spoke blessings of what we wanted to bring into our life together and also of what we wanted to release (sweep away).
Some of what came up for me had to do with communication and was related to the one with whom I had been so angry with. A huge part of my spiritual path right now is dedicated to making my communication more compassionate, with my intent bent towards the understanding of another. I've been noticing my tendency to defend, or judge when another perceives something as "wrong". I've been more and more interested in dropping self absorption in order to understand what is going on for another, extending compassionate attention towards whoever is communicating to me, focusing on their feelings and what they are needing rather than overly identifying with the particular details of their story. I find that while the particulars of the story sometimes need to be shared it's really about connect with the person behind the story and getting their underlying message of emotions and unmet needs that is the crux of compassionate understanding in communication.
The theory of being a compassionate communicator goes like this: We respectfully listen to another's story while connecting with the actual person, their emotions and unmet needs that underlie their story. These unmet needs usually contain a call for help of sorts, a request which is often expressed inappropriately in an emotional person. The person may be ranting and raving, making demands rather than requests. Because an emotional person may not be capable of clearly communicating their emotions and needs, they may be ranting and raving and making demands rather than requests. It is my job, the one whose intent is to be a compassionate communicator and to be of service to another, to caringly reflect back all of the factual details of the story minus all assumptions, judgements and opinions (theirs or mine) along with all of the emotions and unmet needs of the distraught person. Actually helping this person to have their needs met is a whole other matter but usually, once compassionate communication has come this far, a resolution is near at hand.
So it's all fine and dandy to understand the theory of compassionate communication but here's the rub its practical application. Oftentimes what comes up in communication is highly personal--it's about your life and it pushes your buttons. Unmet needs that have been buried often surface and strong emotions ensue. If a loved one comes at us with their issues, whether it's specifically related to us or not, it's way more difficult to set one's self aside and be there for them. It's imperative that when two people are communicating and emotions are high, that one of them is willing to set their own issues aside for the time being. Two emotional people, trying to be understood and make requests to have their needs met at once, usually does not bode well for the outcome.
When this particular situation arose between two people whom I love and I was right there in the middle of it, it pierced me deep on my insides and I obviously wasn't willing to set my own issues aside at that time. It was between the two of them and I could have (should have?) left it alone. If not left it alone, I certainly had the option of being there as support for the one who was attacked (that was the one I was physically present with at the time.) I could have stayed with his feelings and helped him process them. If he had any needs that arose from the situation, I could have offered him help in dealing with them. Afterwards I could have supported his efforts to understand what was going on for our mutual friend and what needs she had that were being unmet and what was exactly being requested of him. Well, I actually did do this with him to a point and although he was clearly shaken at first, he took decent care of himself, felt his hurt feelings and annoyance, and then recovered fairly promptly and dealt with it in the best way he knew how. His intent was to ease the pain and support the love between them.
Mostly what I did was dive directly into my own stuff. The sense of injustice that I perceived was overwhelming. Someone I loved, with the sweetest intent in the world, was being unfairly accused and spat upon. I sprung into action with a sense of righteous indignation, intent to set the obvious record straight. I wanted to show the accusing party the error of her ways, to shame her, not only into submission but to show her the light of day. Kind of like that slap in the face you see in the old-time movies, shocks the person back into their senses. It was a tough love sort of intervention using the boomerang effect, I vomited back at her all the chunks and pieces she had just spewed all over the other and then I added some of my own. I sprinkled it with judgments, opinions and "you" messages up the yin yang. Definitely not an example of compassionate communication.
I felt better. Kind of. For awhile. I had made a fairly conscious choice to indulge my ego so after it was indulged I didn't want to start beating up on myself about why I didn't take the "higher road" and communicate more responsibly. Or why didn't I just mind my own business, at least for the time being. So now I'm pondering...
It seems that the truth is often co-mingled with shit, you know, our ideas and concepts of the way things are or should be; unprocessed trauma and emotions; unhealed woundings; this, that and the other things. Being human and getting caught up in the dynamics of human relating, oftentimes we are confronted with situations that just beg immediate response. Sometimes the truth "needs" to be spoken, someone "needs" to be "enlightened". Or so we think anyway. And there the truth is, hiding within this mess of shit. Time is of the essence, or so it seems as the ego is so impatient. What is one to do when they are less than enlightened? Sometimes I just hope to have something of value to offer even though it's mixed up with shit with some shit. So I just sent it all along, hoping that the one I sent it to will take the time to find the gems of truth and wash them off so they will shine and then flush the rest down the toilet.
At first I felt righteous for force feeding something with nutritional value because after all, it was for her own good, wasn't it? I also felt somewhat relieved to have purged. Then I started questioning the value of what I did and wondering how much love was really present in the toughness. Then I thought about how I might want to do it differently if ever confronted with such a situation again. That night though, the one who was attacked thanked me for protecting him. That's how I imagined myself too, like a lioness protecting her cub. Not that he was defenseless and needed my protection but it was sweet that he said that to me and it made me feel better, some compensation for how bruised and battered I was feeling after entering into a war that wasn't even my own. Not that I'm that sorry for doing what I did, or even about the way I did it. Like I said before, I did make a fairly conscious choice to do what I did in giving my ego free reign to express itself. Besides maybe he did need my "protection", he got it and I'm of the persuasion that we always get what we need.
The other part of this is that I think I was experiencing some post traumatic stress. This situation of her vehemently spewing intense anger towards him is not new. I've lived through this unpleasantness before and was feeling safe, thinking we were through with that dynamic and then it reared it's ugly head again. So I feel a little shell shocked and depressed because I love her and I love him and it was dramatic and ugly and there is more to go through before we are done with it.
The communication part is some of what was coming up for me as I wrapped my blessings into the broom, of what I wanted to create in my relationship with Jerry, as well as what I want to sweep away. There was lots of other lighter, fun stuff too.
Friday, October 12, 2007
John and Cris are two of my favorite people and it seems apropos to give them an honorable mention on Jerry's and my anniversary as they have sustained their relationship for several decades. John makes these wonderful little desk calendars,delivering them as gifts on New Years Day. Throughout the year he collects poems from famous authors, and quirky sayings from friends as well as some of his own musings. Today the calendar, which sits on a shelf above the kitchen sink, reads:
Where I Am With You
Waking from a nap, we stand at the window watching dark clouds crawl across the sky, whip state-sized wisps down and out and up.
Lights come on early, and people below on the street scurry and bumble about
My arm around you, you say--
Let it rain, let it pour.
And I just had to post this special gift from my comments here:
On this autumn morning
awakened by my Songbird's gentle tug
the rustle of the leaves
and the shudder of the bedsheets.
was it reality or just a dream?
the pungent smell of Yoni on my finger.
the most alive moment comes when those who love each other meet each other's eyes
and in what flows between them, then
to see your face in a crowd of others or alone on a frightening street
i weep for that
our tears improve the earth
the time you scolded me
your gratitude, your laughing
always your qualities increase the soul
seeing you is a wine that does not muddle or numb
we sit inside the cypress shadow
where amazement and clear thought twine their slow growth into us
the most alive moment comes when those who love each other meet each other's eyes
and in what flows between them, then
to see your face in a crowd of others or alone on a frightening street
i weep for that
Happy Anniversary baby, you stir my soul.
I have a fondness towards committment and the ability to sustain a long-term relationship. I never wanted to fall into a default commitment with you, nochalantly staying married simply because we were already married. As today commemorates 14 years of loving you, 11 years as your wife, I find myself contemplating our union and intending to experience the truth of self (me) and another (you) as a married couple (us). As I open to this truth, my mouth forms into a smile and a surge of energy expands my heart. You bring me passion and pleasure, comfort and companionship. You are my lover and my best friend. I adore our pair bond and honor what we have created together. I think we have something special going on.
I like the way we slow down each year at this time, assessing what's working or not working in our relationship. It feels very in sync with the autumn season and with my own inner flow. I like that we make conscious decisions about renewing our vows and have changed them each year to reflect our own personal evolution as well as the changes we've created in our relationship. I'm glad we don't take our partnership for granted. It's a gift and I feel very blessed having you in my life. I'm looking ahead into the new year--our 15th year together as a pair bond, imagining many new adventures for us. So, with this in mind...
I've been thinking of HandFasting Ceremonies
There is all sorts of cool and kinky symbolism that can be performed in these ceremonies. I have a idea for a ritual I'd like to do with you...
Here is a HandFasting Blessing I found that I adapted a bit:
Above us is the sky,
below us the earth.
Like the sky, let our love be free,
and full of movement and change.
Like the earth, let our love be solid, firm and nourishing.
Let us give our hearts and remember our love and commitment to each other.
Let us make love often and be passionate with one another.
Let us walk the path of life together,
remembering that the bond of friendship is the strongest between us.
I promise to be your companion, friend and lover. I
offer it to you as I offer you this vow:
I will be honest and open with you
always; I will strive for your well-being and happiness. Whatever life presents
to you, it presents to me also.
Your soul has become part of my soul, your heart
part of my heart, your life joined with mine.
A prophet once spoke of love as both joy and sorrow, growth and pruning.
He said that if in fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure
then it's best you pass out of loves' threshing floor into a seasonless world
where you shall laugh but not with all your laughter, and you shall weep, but
not with all your tears.
What's a Pagan Love Ritual Without Inviting In the Elements?
Earth: The pentacle is the symbol of earth: the element of endurance, of the
understanding that cannot be shaken and the power of steadfast commitment.
Air: This athame is the symbol of air: the element of freedom, of the intellect,
of the inspiration that moves us all onward with the power of intelligent choices.
Water: This chalice is the symbol of water: the element of love, of growth, of
the sharing of emotion and the power of desire and respect.
Fire: This wand is the symbol of fire: the element of light, of energy, of the
vitality that runs through your veins and the power of passionate energy.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tired of Speaking Sweetly
love wants to reach out and manhandle us
break all our teacup talk of God
if you had the courage and
could give the beloved his choice
some nights he would just drag you around the room
by your hair
ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
that bring you no joy
love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
and wants to rip to shreds
all your erroneous notions of truth
that make you fight within yourself dear one
and with others
Causing the world to weep on too many fine days
god wants to manhandle us
lock us inside of a tiny room with himself
and practice his dropkick
the beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favor
hold us upside down
and shake all the nonsense out
but when we hear
he is in such a playful drunken mood
most everyone I know quickly packs their bags
and hightails it out of town
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
little by little wean yourself
this is the gist of what i have to say
from an embryo whose nourishment comes in blood
move to an infant drinking milk
to a child on solid food
to a searcher after wisdom
to a hunter of more invisible game
think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo
you might say
the world outside is vast and intricate
there are wheat fields and mountains passes and orchards in bloom
at night there are millions of galaxies
and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding
you ask the embryo why he or she stays cooped up in the dark with its eyes closed
listen to the answer
there is no other world
i only know what i have experienced
you must be hallucinating
think how it is
to have a conversation with an embryo
you might say the world outside is vast and intricate
there are wheat fields and mountain passes and orchards in bloom
at night there are millions of galaxies
and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding
you ask the embryo
why he or she stays cooped up in the dark with its eyes closed
listen to its answer
there is no other world
i only know what I've experienced
you must be hallucinating
Monday, October 8, 2007
We come together and then we pull apart. Connect and disconnect. Unite and separate.
At the recent Enlightenment Intensive I worked with my question, What Is Another? Even though I was on staff rather than attending as a participant I still went pretty deep into my contemplation--after all, there I was in the midst of it focusing on all these Others, it was rather perfect.
I started getting the sense of a strong, warm hand resting reassuringly on my right shoulder, sending me the message that it's OK, it's all OK. This separateness that I have been experiencing all of my life, this aloneness that catapults me into a deep and desperate yearning for connection with Another is simply OK. It's natural, it's the way things work here in the physical world.
I've identified with being wrong my whole life and I've suffered with an incredible sense of abandonment. My mother was pregnant with me when she and my father divorced, returning home soon after I was born to live with her parents. I never met my father until I was seventeen years old. I thought about him all the time, wondering of his greatness. He was my father after all. I yearned for his love and missed him terribly. As far back as I can remember, I was convinced that I had done something wrong, and thought of myself as a bad seed of sorts. I had it figured that something inside of me just wasn't right. This assessment of self latched on to my psyche as a spurious, absolute knowing, a sad misunderstanding masquerading as the absolute truth: Adrienne = Broken. Why else would a father leave behind his little daughter? Something was obviously innately wrong with me if I was unworthy of even my father's love. I didn't see myself as broken because he left me. He left me because I was broken.
We all make up stories of the world and of ourselves. This was my story and it greatly influenced my way of being in the world, my way of perceiving what others were offering me. I blamed myself for my sense of separation from others. It was a self-loathing of sorts. I thought of separateness as wrong, and that it was my fault, stemming from the fact that I wasn't good enough for others to want to connect with me. I saw myself as flawed, as if there was a basic defect in my overall design. I was a glitch in the matrix.
It's not that I've lived my life unable to connect with others. Although I never had an over abundance of friends when I was young and often felt misfitted in the social scene of grade school and junior high, once I hit high school it was easier for me fit in and I found a mock sense of self in my looks, budding sexuality, and identifying with one popular cause or another. As an adult I've made deep connections. I have a sense of belonging. I've established long-term friendships and commitment in intimate relationships. But this nagging sense of disconnect has plagued me most of my life. It has crept up and surprised me at the least expected and inopportune times, causing me a good deal of suffering. I've found myself overcome with such an unbearable sense of separation and abandonment that I've cried out in grief. And yet I've also been blessed with piercingly deep connections with Truth, Love, and Another. These experiences, contrasted with those of separation have thrown me into desperate yearnings to feel oneness again, to find my way home, merge with the beloved and be filled.
At the intensive, that warm hand was reassuring me that separation is OK. I was tasting this subtle sweetness of separation. I realized that the less I resisted the separation, allowing it to be without judging it as wrong, the sweeter it was. Also, the more I allowed myself to experience the separation, the easier it was to move deeper into, and trust the connection when it was available.
I find the physical universe such a merciful and accommodating place, along with all its harsh survival of the fittest modalities and karmic kick backs. It really wouldn't be easy, or fun for that matter, going at it all alone with these bodies and minds and egos that create an incredible sense of a separate individuality. But Others are always close at hand. We are born into families with parents and siblings who immediately bond with us and then we have extended family and friends and neighbors and communities to connect with and form a sense of belonging. From this starting point we immerse ourselves into the human experience.
It's a dance, a beautiful incredible dance of coming together and pulling apart. A push me pull you drama full of tears and sadness, joy and laughter. It's the human equivalent of the rasa lila, Krsna's divine dance with the gopis, who are engaging in what is considered by some as the highest form of love, the emotion/devotion of separation from the beloved. It was the same with Caitanya, an incarnation of Krsna, who took birth as a devotee of himself and spent his life overcome with ecstasy, inundated and blissed out by both love and the grief of separation from his beloved self.
If I had wanted to only experience connection with others, why would I have come into this physical world to begin with? I'm supposing that what I am is a non-physical being, come from a state of union and truth to experience all of this here. Why? Certainly not only to resist and suffer and strive to return from whence I came, mid-adventure because I'm distraught with separation anxiety? That doesn't make sense to me. I'm here to play as a blended being, both physical and non-physical, to experience this human condition in its totality. To both connect with others and to experience separateness also. That's the rub. I need to stop resisting the separation, to acknowledge its existence when it arrives. To welcome it as a friend and stop judging it as wrong. To stop judging myself as wrong because I experience it.
I've been playing around with this separation more, getting more familiar with it. When I sense it's arrival I'm just noticing it with an--"Ah, you are here. I feel you." I'm breathing into it and allowing it to be with me without the screen of my old stories of what it is and means. I'm no longer interested in blaming myself or Another because of the separateness between us. I know it's OK, I know it's a a part of our human condition and that it's temporary, just like all things in this physical world.
So again, I'm learning to accept more of what is--wanting what is--loving what is. When I return to my non-physical existence I will be done with the illusion of separation but for now, it's a significant step in the dance of my life. I've been practicing diligently and I'm becoming a better dancer, learning the steps, tripping less over my own and my partners' feet. I'm finding that the graceful steps of separation are part of what makes the human dance so lovely.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
they're in each other all along.--Rumi
I wish for you love, enlightenment, sex, yoga, music.
Here are two horoscopes for your birthday, gifts from the free will astrologer, Rob Brezsny. The first one is for last week, but it includes your birthday--today, October 3rd. The second one starts tomorrow, October 4th. Included are Sacred Advertisements from Rob's book, PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.
#1. Libra (September 23-October 22)
Would you be willing to get down on your
knees in the dirt and howl out adamant prayers? Would you be crazy enough and
sane enough to beg the gods, muses, and guardian angels to dissolve anything
that's interfering with your ability to be your authentic self and live the life
you were born to live? Until you do, you may have to tolerate being less than
authentic and living only part of the life you were born to live. The good news
is that it's a perfect moment to start smashing the obstructions to your
Push hard to get better, become
smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine
your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure
your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in
people, and soften your heart�even as you always accept yourself for exactly who
you are with all of your so-called imperfections.
#2. Libra (September
Here's a brief mythic history of the birch tree, according to
Philip Carr-Gomm's book Druid Mysteries. The birch used to be called the pioneer
tree because it was often the first tree planted on virgin soil, and so in a
sense gave birth to the forest. The word "birch" is derived from a root meaning
"bright" or "shining" in Indo-European languages. In Britain, birches were made
into maypoles, which celebrants danced around during the fertility feast of
Beltane. Siberian shamans, at the climax of their initiation ceremonies, climbed
a birch tree, circling its trunk nine times. In the spirit of this rich
folklore, Libra, I nominate the birch to be your tree of power as you begin a
phase of bright beginnings and exuberant fertility.
Psychologist Carl Jung believed that all desires have a sacred origin, no
matter how odd they may seem. Frustration and ignorance may contort them into
distorted caricatures, but it is always possible to locate the divine source
from which they arose. In describing one of his addictive patients, Jung said:
"His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual
thirst for wholeness, or as expressed in medieval language: the union with God."
Therapist James Hillman echoes the theme: "Psychology regards all
symptoms to be expressing the right thing in the wrong way." A preoccupation
with porn or romance novels, for instance, may come to dominate a passionate
person whose quest for love has degenerated into an obsession with images of
love. "Follow the lead of your symptoms," Hillman suggests, "for there's usually
a myth in the mess, and a mess is an expression of soul."*
Do You Love Me?
A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more
than you love me?
The beloved replied,
I have died to myself
and I live for you.
I’ve disappeared from myself
and my attributes.
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learning,
but from knowing you
I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
but from your power
I am able.
If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
"I was so full of emptiness that I burst open and the love poured in."