Monday, November 26, 2007

My Friend Gerda

My friend Gerda is dying. She has cancer and its been a very long and painful process for her. She is on a strong dose of morphine now and is in the transitional state between this world and the next while under the 24 hour care of her two children and friends.

Gerda is deaf and I don't know sign language. In the earlier years of our friendship we would write notes back and forth on napkins in dark noisy bars when we would be out dancing. I have a memory of perhaps the first night I met Gerda, calling AAA for her with my membership and waiting with her for the tow truck to arrive when her car wouldn't start after a late night out. She came to Jerry's and my wedding and I had arranged for another friend to sign the ceremony for her. She gifted us with a beautiful hand stitched wall hanging, commemorating our union.

Although I've been friends with Gerda for many years, I have chosen to keep a distance between us. Communication was obviously difficult but one thing that always came across very clear to me in our connection was that Gerda identified with being a victim. I had a difficult time with that. I always felt hesitant and somewhat resistant toward extending myself as her friend. Something about the way I perceived her relationship with life and the role that she seemed to be requesting of me left me feeling uncomfortable. Being her friend required effort and an openhearted patience that wasn't easy for me to muster and which I often preferred to avoid. And yet, she was always kind and loving, always sweet and generous, always offering me a smile, a hug and inquiring of me and my family's welfare.

As Gerda is dying, surrounded by her family and friends, I find myself dealing with some regret of my inability to be a better friend to her. I feel the imminent lost of opportunity for human connection and unconditional love. Gerda has been a great teacher to me, inspiring contemplation at my lack of compassion and the derogatory superiority I hold towards the victim. This indicates a self denial of sorts. The triggering of my own inner victim when I'm confronted with another's victim consciousness. What is it that I still do not understand about my inner victim? I suspect my tender spot is related to my fear of buying into its delusion. I've identified and lived in victim consciousness for a good portion of my life. Its powerless and painful there and I still have the tendency to travel to this pathetic place. This not only scares me, it embarrasses me. Embarrassment, what a self conscious obstruction to the truth. Oh the ego, it is insidious.

But understanding the role of victim is not an easy one. Look at the human condition--war, rape, murder, genocide, torture, hunger, violence, anger, sadness, greed, hunger, pain...the various abuses perpetrated against children. Being a victim seems to come hand in hand with who and what we are. Why is peace with self and others so seemingly difficult to attain?

I was 26/27 years old when I first discovered my own victim consciousness. This awareness still proves to be one of the most empowering and freeing moments of my life. I've since spent the same number of years working to step out of this deceptive role and understand how it impacts my life.

Blessings to you Gerda. I pray for your last days to be peaceful and your suffering light. May you die in the loving arms of your family and friends. Thank you for being my friend. I love you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


What Am I? I am a conundrummer. I just know I am. I will contemplate this more, much more. But for just this moment, I have this intuitive hit that this is what I am.

Spent the day in NYC. Met my brother at his office before he took us out to lunch. It was good seeing him and learning a little more about his life. He's a nice man. Here's a view from his office on the 9th floor.
I love the water towers that sit atop the tall buildings all over NYC.

After lunch we headed to Times Square and did a little shopping. We had taken three of our grandkids out for hot chocolate at Starbucks the night before we left and my 10 year old granddaughter, Lulu, said to me, "Gramma, I had a dream last night that you went to New York City and brought me back an I Heart New York tee shirt." Jerry thought that was a hint so of course we had find one for her and her brother and sister.

This guy was gorgeous in his kingly crown so I sneaked a picture from behind. If I would have been quicker I would have also gotten pictures of the Mother Theresa nuns in their white saris with blue trim and the Sierra Nevada Brewery truck driving down Broadway. Sierra Nevada Brewery, was one of the first microbreweries in America and is world renowned, especially for it's Pale Ale (although the Porter is my personal favorite.) It is located in Chico, my hometown and had it's humble beginnings in its owner's (Kenny Grossman) garage. Oh, anyway, here is the king.

I saw this poster and had to take a picture. Conundrummer. What a word. I just love that. Conundrummer. I hadn't heard of Renegade Angel before but this Conumdrummer comes from there. It's an an adult cartoon, featured on Adult Swim, an adult oriented television programming network with absurdist and ribald comedy.

And then on the way home we met Tom and C. of Polyamorously Perverse. And guess where we hooked up? Yep, the Tick Tock Diner! That was an unexpected surprise that we all pulled off at rather the last minute and I'm glad we made the effort. They are nice people, smart and attractive, fun and easy to spend a couple of hours with getting to know one another a bit. We chatted about blogging, sex, swinging, polyamory, family, and Thanksgiving plans. Jerry, and then I, even got a little California woo woo on them, describing the spiritual experience of Enlightenment Intensives and they were sweet and gracious. Tom was even able to enlighten me about Chinese Buddhists and fake meat. That's one of the joys of the Internet for me, the opportunity to meet and network with folks that would otherwise be nearly impossible. It charges the power and possibilities of connection with others. And that is to me, makes life worth living.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Manicotti, Snow, Fake Meat & Friends

Last night we took Jerry's mom out for dinner for Italian food. I like Italian food but I rarely choose to eat it so I was looking forward to some manicotti with a glass of red wine. As it turned out, the restaurant we ended up at didn't have their liquor license and that put a damper on my enjoyment. I indulged myself in chocolate torte for desert to make up for it. One thing I did enjoy though was that when you order "man-nah-got" in Jersey they don't correct your pronunciation and say, "yes, man-ne-kawt-tee" like they do in California.

My inner clock is still on California time. My usual bedtime is somewhere around 11:00 pm and 7:00 am. Now I'm going to bed at around 2:00am getting up around 10:00 am. It seems to be working except I want to get up early tomorrow to head into NYC. We are meeting my eldest brother for lunch in The Village where he works. I last saw him 4 years ago and I had only met him once in my life before that when I was 21 years old. He is my half brother, my father's oldest child. I grew up with a picture of him in our family photo album but had never met him. Well, I had never met my father either for that matter until I was 17 years old. He and my mother had divorced when she was pregnant with me. I think I've blogged about that before. Anyway, this brother was looking for our father as he hadn't seen him since he was a young child and when he found him, he discovered that rather than being an only child, he actually had 4 siblings. These would be my father's two youngest sons along with my brother and myself. Several years after I met my father this brother came to Chico and I remember making him a big vegetarian Indian food feast. I don't remember much about our initial visit except that he had long curly blond hair and I thought he was quite good looking and sexy. I think he and his girlfriend stayed for a couple of hours. After that we lost contact for almost 30 years. Then we hooked up again 4 years ago and Jerry and I met him and his wife for lunch in NYC. He is a psychotherapist like I am but what really amazed me is that I have a picture of him and me sitting together from that day and I swear if I shaved my head the two of us would look like twins!

In my last post I mentioned the snow flurries. This morning we woke up to 5 inches of white covering everything! These are pictures of our rental car, my footprints and the trees outside my mother-in-law's apartment.

We drove into Weehawken today and visited with our good friend Alice and her family. It was a nice visit and I would have loved to stay and eaten dinner with them (her homemade, baked macaroni and cheese) but we already had a dinner date with an old friend of Jerry's who he hadn't seen in 30 years. He wanted to take us out to dinner and Jerry had already warned him that we eat vegetarian (although we've been eating a little fish for the last 4 years or so). Anyway, when he was diagnosed with diabetes awhile back he had drastically changed his diet, started exercising and lost 80 pounds. He is totally into vegetarian food so he knew right where to take us--one of his favorite restaurants called Veggie Heaven in the town of Teaneck.

He had described this restaurant to Jerry as vegetarian; Chinese; Buddhist; and Kosher. Chinese food is usually one of my very least favorite foods but this place sounded interesting. Interesting it was. And odd. Never in my wildest dreams... Here are the names of a few (out of probably over 100 offerings) on the menu. Mango Chicken; Sizzling Beef with Black Pepper Sauce; Beef Noodle Soup; Chicken, Shrimp & Scallop Noodle Soup; Five Flavored Crispy Golden Eel; Almond Chicken; Curried Chicken Noodle Soup. The menu went on and and on like this. Not only were the number of choices daunting, the names of the dishes put up a roadblock in my mind. This place is 100% vegetarian but is totally based on fake meat products! I've tended to avoid the fake meat products for the over 30 years that I've eaten vegetarian (really, the tofurky is a quirk.) I finally ordered something called a Green Boat. For the appetizer, our host ordered 10 different types of sushi rolls. Organic brown rice sushi with these big hunks of fake fish arrived at our table. I wish I would have thought to take pictures of this stuff! When my meal arrived it was really quite yummy and although the portions were very large, I eat all of it. It consisted of crispy green fried noodles with vegetables and seitan. Seitan is something I'm familiar with and rather than being like some of the other fake meats that have the consistency and taste of meats like ham and pork, this is more like tofu or tempeh and is quite normal for me. After I finished this off I ordered some mango pudding for dessert. Our meal and visit with Jerry's old friend was pleasant and unique and I really appreciated his gracious effort to feed and please us. He was a very sweet man and we headed home with full bellies and happy hearts.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Family Dynamics

I'm sorry I haven't blogged in so long. I've been busy working and tying up loose ends for our trip back east. So here we are at Jerry's mom's house in Budd Lake, New Jersey and this is the first time he's been home for Thanksgiving in 30 years. Tomorrow we're driving into Weehawken and Jersey City to hook up with a few friends and we'll probably go into New York City on Tuesday. Unfortunately we probably won't see a show this trip due to the strike on Broadway. Besides just relaxing a lot, staying up late and sleeping in, I've been reading, knitting, and doing Su Doku puzzles.

Yesterday we found a natural food store and I bought a Tofurky for us to eat at Thanksgiving. Actually, I hate Tofurky but I thought it would make Jerry happy to have something to eat besides Waldorf and Jello Fruit Cocktail Salads. Just kidding, I'm sure there will be sweet potatoes with brown sugar and melted marshmallows on top too. Ouch. Jerry's family thinks we are rather weird, the way we eat. Californian organic health food nut vegetarians ya know. But we didn't fly nearly 3,000 miles for the food. We are here to connect with his family. Besides, I am looking forward to eating pumpkin pie with whipped cream on the big day and tomorrow one of his childhood friends is taking us to a restaurant called Veggie Heaven for dinner. Obviously there are plenty of sources for good food back here, it's just that they think we are odder than we actually are.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Love And Freedom

Below are some excerpts from Osho, Book of Wisdom, Volume II.
Freedom is the very essential core of human consciousness: Love is its circumference and freedom is its center.
Continuing on with my exploration of Love and Freedom...My question to Kelly Bryson, after he offered us this quote during his workshop was, "If love is the circumference and freedom the center, what would freedom as the circumference and love at the center be?"

This question, along with his answer seemed to be taking me no where so I gave it up. I understand both love and freedom as two essential things that seem to exist at my core and although this quote sounded appealing to me, I didn't really get the core and circumference thing. My initial try at reversing love and freedom in my question and Kelly's answer (that it was a co-dependent relationship) wasn't working for me so I gave it up. But now that I've let it go, I think I'm getting what he meant by saying that.
"Man's greatest longing is for freedom. Man is a longing for freedom. Freedom is the very essential core of human consciousness: Love is its circumference and freedom is its center. These two fulfilled, life has no regret. And they both are fulfilled together, never separately."

Exactly. When we try to experience love without freedom, the love vanishes. The two exist simultaneously. I've been a control freak my entire life. Trying to control others to have my needs met. I was always confusing my strategies for having my needs met, with the actuality of my needs themselves. My love relationships always failed because freedom was never at the core. My focus was always on not on love itself but rather on my strategy for how to have love, both giving and receiving it. Of course I tried controlling others as I believed only in the power of my strategy, not in love itself.
"People have tried to fulfill love without freedom. Then love brings more and more misery, more and more bondage. Then love is not what one has expected it to be; it turns out just the opposite. It shatters all hopes, it destroys all expectations, and life becomes a wasteland, a groping in darkness and never finding the door."

This has been my exact experience in life. I always tired to fulfill love without freedom and all I got was misery and bondage. Love was never what I expected it to be and I always ended up shattered. I was trapped by my strategies for love. I so clearly get how love cannot exist without freedom. The first time I was exposed to polyamory I understood this. That was twenty two years ago and I knew that that was the way for me to experience real love. My heart sang and I was comforted but I had no idea how to actually go about allowing love to flourish in my life. I had no idea how to actually be free or allow others to be free either. I was filled with fear and ignorance. I had only my strategies and I wasn't ready to give them up. I continued living by my strategies of control and manipulation, thinking I was a loving person--if people would only do things my way!
"Love without freedom naturally tends to be possessive. And the moment possessiveness enters in, you start creating bondage for others and bondage for yourself, because you cannot possess somebody without being possessed by him. You cannot make somebody a slave without becoming a slave yourself. Whatsoever you do to others is done to you."

I was a slave to my strategies, convincing myself that they were the ways to experience love. I remember back to my love relationship with my youngest son's father and how he used to say that I had trapped him and he would complain how I controlled his life. I was always dumbfounded by his claim because (well he was an utter control freak himself) he never surrendered and gave me the love (control) I wanted. I certainly didn't have things my way. My perception was that he ran the show his way and his way made my life miserable. But the truth of it was that there was no freedom in that relationship for either of us. Love was strangled and it suffocated. He always resisted telling me he loved me or marrying me and now I say, good for him. He was fighting for his freedom. It's not like he was a saint and I the sinner. He wanted to control me too. We both had huge strategies for fulfilling our need for love and our strategies were diametrically opposed. Wow.
"This is the basic principal to be understood, that love without freedom never brings fulfillment."

The sad thing that this quote reminds me of is number of people that seem to find a partner with incredible potential for sharing love and their strategies for love are completly in sync. They fall in love, into relationship and then become slaves to the roles of their strategies. They bind each other by the ropes of love (strategies that disallow freedom) and perhaps stay together for years, sometimes for life, blissfully ignorant that they have fulfilled their strategies by sacrificing their autonomy. They settle into a comfortable complacency, losing touch with their essential core of freedom and the opportunity to experience real love. Attachment holds them together and they have chosen peace over passion.

And we've all witnessed (perhaps been one of those) couples whose strategies don't mesh and yet they choose to stay together tenaciously fighting for their freedom, fighting for their strategies that they are convinced will secure them the love they desire. Resentments build as they struggle to convince, cajole, control and manipulate the other into giving them what they want. In either case, both freedom and love are lost. Again, attachment is what holds them together but this couple has chosen passion over peace.
"And there have been people who have tried the other extreme, freedom without love. These are the monks, the escapists, the people who renounce the world. Afraid of love, afraid of love because it brings bondage, they renounce all the situations where love can flow, grow, can happen, is possible. They escape into loneliness. Their loneliness never becomes aloneness, it remains loneliness. And loneliness is a negative state; it is utterly empty, it is sad.

Renunciation is repression and nothing else. And the more you repress a
thing, the more you need to repress it. And the more you go on repressing it, the more powerful it becomes. It will erupt in your dreams, it will erupt in your hallucinations.

On the one hand is the person, the worldly person, who has tried to find love without freedom and has failed. His life is nothing but a long, long slavery of many, many people, of many, many things. He is not free to have even a slight movement. That is one failure; the majority of humanity is caught in that extreme.

Both these extreme efforts have failed. Hence humanity stands
on a crossroads: where to go? The past has utterly failed. All the efforts that we have done in the past proved wrong, led to cul-de-sacs. Now where to go? What to do?

Atisha has an important message to deliver to you. And that message is the message of all the Buddhas, of all the enlightened people of the
world. They say: Love and freedom are not separate things, you cannot choose. Either you will have to have both, or you will have to have dropped both. But you cannot choose, you cannot have one.

Love is the circumference, freedom is the center.

One has to grow in such delicate balance where love and freedom can bloom together. And they can, because it few rare individuals it has happened. And if it has happened to only a single individual in the whole history, it can happen to every human being. It is your potential, your birthright."
It seems to me that in the beginning of my and Jerry's relationship that our strategies for love meshed together perfectly. We met, fell in love, fell into relationship and it was easy being together. My need for love was intertwined with my need for safety and these were in the forefront I believe for Jerry also. We became the quintessential pair bonded couple. We were there for each other in every way, mostly ya know, within reason. Jerry bought into my life, with all it's baggage lock, stock and barrel. He was loyal and eager to please. He gave me the attention I craved. And I adored him and his attention. I accepted him and was pleased by his ways. We took good care of each other.

From the beginning we knew that the love we shared had the potential to take us on a wild adventure. We vowed to stretch our limits and tell the truth and above all else, allow love to have it's way with us. We certainly did not know what that may mean but we knew it was big nevertheless. Once my safety needs were satiated, my freedom needs came to the forefront. I started fighting fairly early on for my autonomy. The essential core of my freedom started expressing itself through my sexuality. I started resisting the social construct of my husband owning my sexuality. When had the switch happened I wondered, from me being in my power and offering myself to him sexually as a gift to be shared in sacred communion, to him taking partial ownership and having a say in what I did with another? Of course I was afraid to say these things to him at first because hey, I wanted to possess him too. We talked though, communicating the difficult things little by little the best we could. We made lots and lots of agreements, opening up in little increments, allowing ourselves little bits of freedom with big safety measures in place.

My advent into polyamory was a fight for both love and freedom. It wasn't so easy for me at first because I had been tricked into believing some odd things about love. And freedom? I don't think I had a clue about what freedom was. But I was learning fast and furious what it was not. And something inside of me knew what I was doing and understood the potential of what could happen when love and freedom are given nurtured simultaneously. I understand now that we can't have one without the other.

And, I get that the path of polyamory is a strategy for me. It is a way for me to meet my needs for both love and freedom. And although it seems like a very good strategy, I think it would behoove me to take caution and keep clarity here. Polyamory is not a need, it's a strategy for meeting my needs. Strategies are not bad or good. They just are what they are and some work well, some don't. Confusing a strategy with a need creates an attachment to something that isn't even real, isn't true. I have this idea that polyamory is probably a fairly basic characteristic of most humans--the ability to love more than one simultaneously. When we add the sexual element which is the fairly common understanding of the term--the ability to have more than one sexually loving relationship simultaneously, I suspect that this is also a fairly basic characteristic of most humans. Of course, just because we have this ability doesn't mean that everyone will have the tendency to actually practice polyamory--especially considering the uptight monogamously minded construct of our culture. But I suppose that are even some sexually uninhibited souls that are honoring their own and other's freedom that still choose to practice monogamy by free will and personal choice.

But for me, the path of polyamory just makes good sense as a strategy for honoring my own and other's freedom needs as well as our needs to love and be loved. Polyamory allows for both freedom and love to flourish uninhibited.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Essential Core Of Human Consciousness

Osho, Book of Wisdom

Man's greatest longing is for freedom. Man is a longing for freedom. Freedom is the very essential core of human consciousness: Love is its circumference and freedom is its center. These two fulfilled, life has no regret. And they both are fulfilled together, never separately.

People have tried to fulfill love without freedom. Then love brings more and more misery, more and more bondage. Then love is not what one has expected it to be; it turns out just the opposite. It shatters all hopes, it destroys all expectations, and life becomes a wasteland, a groping in darkness and never finding the door.

Love without freedom naturally tends to be possessive. And the moment possessiveness enters in, you start creating bondage for others and bondage for yourself, because you cannot possess somebody without being possed by him. You cannot make somebody a slave without becoming a slave yourself. Whatsoever you do to others is done to you.

This is the basic principal to be understood, that love without freedom never brings fulfillment.

And there have been people who have tried the other extreme, freedom without love. These are the monks, the escapists, the people who renounce the world. Afraid of love, afraid of love because it brings bondage, they renounce all the situations where love can flow, grow, can happen, is possible. They escape into loneliness. Their loneliness never becomes aloneness, it remains loneliness. And loneliness is a negative state; it is utterly empty, it is sad.

I get what Osho says here, no problem but I still don't get why with love as the center and freedom the circumference, that would be a co-dependent relationship (I'm referring to my previous post here.) And maybe Osho is right, that man's (or woman's), or let's say, the greatest human longing is freedom that it is the essential core of human consciousness. I have respect for Osho and I'm assuming that he knows this experience directly. I certainly long for freedom. And yet, I long for love too so what if I were to say that the greatest human longing is love, that it is the essential core of human consciousness? I've had direct experiences of love--but I'm not sure if it was the center or the circumference. Love or Freedom. Interesting stuff though and I'll be contemplating this more. I think I'll write a friend of mine who has been working on the question What Is Freedom? at Enlightenment Intensives and see if he can offer me some insight.

More Loving Choices

Jerry and I returned from the first Loving More Loving Choices Seminar at the Clarion Hotel in San Francisco this weekend. We attended four mini workshops and were surprised to find three of them both entertaining and informative. I came home with five new books which I will mention as I move along through our weekend adventure here.

The first workshop we attended was called Polyamory as a Path to Peace by Veronica Monet. Veronica is a sex educator and ex-courtesan who offered an interesting presentation on the Bonobos and stimulated conversation among participants in both the practical and political aspects of sex as well as I quick look into several "peaceful" societies. Veronica is sexy, intelligent and friendly, and by far my most favorite eye candy at the seminar. I'm looking forward to reading her book Sex Secrets of Escorts.

The second workshop was called Plays Well With Others by Angela and Iain. I enjoyed their presentation although I somehow arrived home without any of their handouts and I don't even know their last names. They are a long-term Ds couple who are involved in both the poly and BDSM communities. They present all sorts of kinky educational events through (I figure I'll find their last names when I actually go to this site and check it out) and are coordinators of the Society of Janus as well as on the board of SF Citadel (a popular BDSM dungeon/happening play space in San Francisco.) They offered some valuable tips for both beginners in BDSM play and professionals working with BDSM clients. I appreciated their laid back presentation style and expertise on the dynamics of power exchange in Ds relationships.

The third workshop, Non-violent Communication (NVC) and Tantra by Kelly Bryson MFT and Carolena Fleishman was refreshing. Kelly has been a NVC trainer for 20 years, is a psychotherapist in private practice, wrote the best selling book, Don't Be Nice, Be Real, lived as a monk in an asrahm for 12 years, studies at Zegg, and practices polyamory. Carolena Fleishman is the director of Sacred Space Institute, a certified sexological bodyworks and tantric educator, yoga teacher and professional bellydancer who teaches sacred dance in both Marin and New York. This workshop covered an array of topics such as: how compromising relationship needs builds resentment; how it takes a village to raise a nontraditional relationship; and making freedom the center and love the circumference in our relationships--I must admit that I'm confused over this one. Kelly read this as a quote from Osho and I tried to picture it visually in my mind as a diagram with freedom at the center and love as the circumference. Then I put love at the center with freedom as the circumference and I just wasn't getting it. I asked Kelly to explain the difference and he said he saw love as the center with freedom being the circumference as a co-dependant relationship. I'm still totally lost here but I'll continue working on it. I get obsessed over stuff like this. Also, the bit about it taking a village to to raise a nontraditional relationship, the necessity of building community and sacred support for living polyamorously really struck home. I experienced some deeper level insight on some of my pain and the sense of abandonment I've experienced over the loss of a poly relationship in my life. In one of my recent posts, The Love Bubble, I discussed this issue. Most of my friends are monogamous. I do have my juicy women's group and yet most of these women are not part of my social circle. Occasionally I'll attend a party where we'll cross paths (in the midst of other sexually uptight monogamous people) but not as a general rule. I'm a card carrying member of at least a couple of tribes, close knit groups of friends I love and enjoy socializing with but our connections are not sexually inclined. And I'm not talking about people to have sex with. I'm talking about sacred connection for nontraditional relationships. People I play and party with, people I love, extended family who are committed to intimate connection, understanding of self and others, truthfulness and loving more in multiple relationships. Also, people who are open and free with their sexuality. Whether we are actually fucking or not doesn't have much to do with it but that the option is available, that we can freely yay or nay, that's the rub I miss. That's the sacred community, the chosen family, the love bubble that I yearn for.

After a day of workshops there was an evening social and drawing with prizes. I won a book, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, a lesbian BDSM couple. This book is a must read for anyone new to the practice of Polyamory. I already have it on my bookshelf so now I have a copy to give away.

I also purchased The Truthtellers--Stories of Success by Radically Honest People by Brad Blanton PhD, because I appreciate his book Radical Honesty. He wasn't at this seminar doing a mini workshop or I'm sure I'd have some things to say about that!

The fifth book I ended up with is a New York Times bestseller, Running with Scissors, a memoir by Augusten Burroughs. We were visiting the Haight St. shops before driving home and I found it at the Goodwill Store. This book was made into a movie (which I haven't seen but saw some previews) and is a true story of a boy whose mother who gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist who was a very odd and dysfunctional man who dished out Valium and electroshock for entertainment. I guess there is some controversy from other family members as to whether the author embellished the level of insanity he grew up with for literary purposes.

The last workshop we attended was about relationship agreements and it didn't work for me for a variety of reasons. Although I do understand that agreements are sometimes necessary in relationship (especially relationships in the transitioning stage from monogamy to polyamory), I've found that my tendency has been to move away from agreements in both my personal life and from encouraging them with the couples I work with in my private practice. When an agreement seems valuable with the couples I'm working with, I'm very careful about not having them made, or taken lightly. And always, they must be temporary. I'm finding that higher functioning relationships require less agreements and also that less agreements allow for higher functioning relationships.

I spoke with Kelly Bryson during the social and asked him if he spoke to the issue of intentions versus agreements in his book. He said that he didn't and we had a brief discussion about. He said that Marshall Rosenburg (creator of NVC) said that people are incapable of making agreements. There is of course much more to be said around that statement for clarity purposes. He also referred me to David Deida's work. I haven't read enough of Deida to understand his concepts of first, second, third, and fourth level relationships but I remember reading a bit about the characteristics of the different levels and ascertained that the fourth level relationships were the highest functioning more spiritually based partnerships. Kelly mentioned that agreements are associated with lower functioning relationships in Deida's work. I'm curious to read more of him now as I've been attracted to his theories and concepts in the past but too much of what I read seemed too rigid or dogmatic somehow...or maybe it was that the books of his I tried reading seemed to all say the same thing. Actually I forget why I didn't pursue him more so I'm going to investigate his teachings deeper this time. Kelly also mentioned Susan Campbell's book Getting Real--Ten Truth Skills You Need To Live An Authentic Life, which I plan on reading soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day Of The Dead

Día de los Muertos

Mary Jane Charlton
Ivan Charlton
John LaPado
Edgar Charlton
Yvonne Charlton
Charlie Tupper
George Tupper
Danny West
William Parker
Mary Parker
Joe Bis
John Dresden
Alexander Kirk
Barbara McClintock
Edna Tupper
Vance Lucas
Gary Decina
Mahatma Ghandi

Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada/Abhay Charan Das
Maxwell Eagle Gallagher
Jesus The Christ
The Buddha
Anthony Francis (Woogie)Morano
Laurie Ann Morano
Ella Machetto
Byron Thomas
Charlie Bonham
Betty Sherman
Pearl Dunn
Charles Berner/Yogesvar Muni
Bruce Noble
Penny Parker

Check This Out

Mistress Matisse has an article out today in her column, Control Tower, in Seattle's alternative paper The Stranger. It's called Beginner's Rules and offers a list of rules, meant as suggestions, conversation starters if you will, for the newly transitioning poly couple to help make the shift from monogamy to non-monogamy feel as a safer adventure.

Manu Chao - Bongo Bong - Video Clip

This brings back such sweet memories for me.