Sunday, February 28, 2010
Q: "I haven't been able to think of a singular question for you, but there's a topic that I'd love to pick your brain about:
"A few people manage to find their perfect match on the first try - the people who marry their high-school sweetheart or are continually smitten by their "soul mate." The rest of us go through a few relationships. In my experience, those relationships have been important to me, and from them, I learned a lot about relationships, about myself and about those I lived with. I know that other people don't see their past relationships that way. Some people think they're always the victim. Some people ARE always a victim. Some people think their love life is just a series of bad choices or bad people.
"The point in my mind is that most people have had a few of relationships that ended before "forever," and I wonder what you think those relationships give us. What you value about bygone relationships, choices you made that didn't work out, choices you didn't make that might have worked out. You've written about a lot of things from your marriage but I don't think I've gotten a sense of what you value about those experiences. And I'm not necessarily intent on your relationships, maybe it's a broader question about what can be valued.
"So my question would be about the missteps people make as they cut a path to their own hearts."
Those missteps are full of takeaway lessons - not necessarily a detour from any set trajectory (there is no map, after all. And, you're generally always where you need to be to fully experience what you need to experience). What souvenirs remain from those sidetracks? What did you leave behind? What did you carry with you?
The value comes in finding all the good in what came before and being able to frame that relationship in a new light. How did that person grow you in ways you wouldn't have grown otherwise? What are all of the good memories that are part of the fleshy tapestry of who you are now? Having gratitude for those things is magnanimous and key for moving on. Incorporating all the fruits of relationship makes it easier to live with the memories that can otherwise haunt you.
On the Solstice of this past summer, I wrote my ex (who I hadn't communicated with for a few months at that point) a note that said I could look back on the time we had together and smile, and that thanked him for growing me in the ways that he did. It felt good, and even though I never heard back from him (I didn't expect to), I felt better. It was as if I had offered my recognition for what good did come of us, and felt a sense of closure.
The experience of cutting a path to your heart involves passing through the wildflower fields and breathtaking scenery just as much as there maybe weeding and wasp nests, and other adventures. What can be valued from relationships past is simply how they enrich or have enriched our lives. How we've been nourished from them and what we can bring with us as we move forward.
All the good things are what kept you choosing that relationship, and perhaps solidified what you want when the next one comes around. All the crappy things on the other hand give you a clear sense of what you know that you don't want, or what not to do. In gardening terms - the whole of the experience is all good compost to fortify what comes next.
The closeness and intimacy touched us - changed us - and left an emotional imprint on our energy body. Perhaps - that is what we need to learn to work with - what to do with that imprint, and who are we in its wake?
There is an article from the Huff Post, Can We Learn From Our Past Relationships? that resonates here:
"Past relationship creates an expansive ﬁeld of memories, effervescently rich with the potential to fertilize our new life. Keeping alive good recollections ensures that our arteries will carry those memories to our heart, so that our heart will not be deprived of nourishment from our past. [...] Our choice is to tell ourselves that our relationship was always depleted, or that there were, at least for a time, the creation of valuable nutrients we can still use.
"Memory is not only part of the past, it is alive in us now. If its interpretation is negative, it has the potential for self-laceration. You cannot annihilate these memories without also killing off meaningful parts of yourself. You must do something with these memories, as they remain in your bloodstream. When you accept that you have deposited parts of yourself in his or her soul, you can comfortably retrieve all the richness of your experiences, perhaps some pain but joy as well. The memories will have to be stored somewhere; the trick is to not store them in oblivion."
What to do with these franken-creative fictions that we tell ourselves, frequently, on repeat, that leave us self-inflictedly tortured? (How to change the mind running rampant into the vortex of self-loathing, self doubt and anxiety?) It's time to take a monkey-wrench to the tracks - and change the aforementioned mind with a new story.
If the old story is a massive stressor to your complex nervous system and messing with your ability to thrive, it's important to note here this one precious, poignant nugget: If something is causing you emotional discomfort, it's probably because you are not thinking big enough.
In other words: you're not seeing something that can relieve you of the mind-and-life-numbing thought processes spinning madly on through your body electric. But, it's a relief to know that perhaps it is that simple. If only you could lift up the curtain and see the bigger picture, to see what you're missing while being held bottled - it would all be more clear. It might blow your mind. It might feel nice to let in the fresh air.
Sometimes we don't have to believe everything we think. The Work of Bryon Katie is a little bit like breaking that bottle over your own head. Hesitant? Just consider her main question: who would you be without your story (i.e. the mind bottled one)?
Saturday, February 27, 2010
1. Why kissing? Is kissing important to you?
Kissing is loaded with plump red voluptuous connotations: first kiss, last kiss, sealed with a kiss, kiss my ..., etc. I'm not a believer that a kiss is just a kiss.
One of my favorite synonyms for kissing is 'to osculate' which is to "to come into close contact or union." In math class, you learn that to osculate is "To have three or more points coincident with." I like to think of this as heart, heart and gut. Like something that just feels so right it happens without a cognitive plan. This includes the notion that Wolff Bowden says: "May your lips refuse the kiss unless your heart is home." It's about moving on an inner volition, not always explainable by thought. A true Happening, really, and a tuning into the body electric.
In the space between self and other - the kiss is a boundary touched - and crossed. it changes you. Once you get kissed, a good one, can you ignore it? can you go back to how you were before? I'm not so sure I can. There's a great French film that circles around this notion called Shall we Kiss? which is super cute and well done.
All of this said: I'd be the first to sign up for some kissing lessons, or practice sessions! Good kissing is an art and should be practiced more, especially with someone you have a penchant for. My rolfer said to me recently: "the secret to kissing is to enjoy every minute of it." And I had to agree. What a practice of mindfulness that is, to stay in the moment for that intimacy - to stay present and just enjoy and play.
About a month ago - this was one of the notes from the Universe that was sent to me: "Just as it is with kissing - Let your life be measured and thoughtful. (PS. Actually, your entire life is like one very long, very sweet kiss)." That really resonated with me. So why kissing? I'd have to say it has to do with the practice of being present, about having an inner pull or knowing, and not always having a mental map -- but a focus on the spontaneity of the heart. Applied to life and relationships, this is a touchstone-cornerstone.
2. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do - in a way. I think there is an uncanny magnetism that can bring people together instantly, as if they were destined to find each other or had a connection in a past life (or something equally wuwu). I've heard of so many stories of people who have found each other and have known instantly that this was it, this was the one. Something just felt so right -- there was instantaneous recognition on a non-cerebral level. And, maybe that's the secret - there has to be a non-thinky-centric aspect to this. And, I think there has to be some mutual resonance there, too, otherwise it banks on being sequestered in "Crush Status." (For example - the first time I saw Pete Yorn live in concert, it was pretty much love at first sight. But it wasn't necessarily mutual, so it doesn't really count.) Both parts of the equation need to be open to the possibility, the surprise, to feel it, so there's this element that the stars need to align for both points in the space-time continuum to find each other. It's serendipitous on some level. And, I'm reminded of my favorite line from Rumi: "The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lover's don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along."
3. What does it mean when you say: relationships are the new ashram?
Love and being in relationship is a forum ripe for lessons about self - and growing yourself. About becoming your best possible self in this lifetime and finding someone who is a suitable mirror for your personal growth and fulfillment of consciousness. It's about removing all the layers that are keeping you from love (all the ways in which you are standing in your own way). Being in relationship amplifies that personal exploration exponentially. There's a metric ton of inner work involved, and everyone has their own locus of lesson plans to unravel in order to become more of what they truly are. (There's no need to join an ashram for that experience).
4. Let's talk about sex: Are you getting some?
Ixnay on the exsay - LOL! Not so much in the traditional sense (but according to the laws of entropy - it's bound to happen...right?). I'm always working towards the tantric practice of being radically alive and plum tickled with the most simple delights of life, so I like to think that I'm functioning at some sustained buzz of bliss most of the time. There's no climax - just good vibes and a perpetual glow and pure enjoyment of life. Unless I'm having a crabapple day of the moodies. In which case, I rely solely on extra dark chocolate.
5. Why 'The Kissing Lessons'?
I think knowing how to be in relationship is important and frequently glossed over - yet there's so much to learn. It's about the energetics of being human. About having a body with a complex nervous system and what to do with it. So many signals, so much going on. But do we ever take time to learn about it?! Not so much. We learn about modern european history - and how to think our way out of multiple choice questions and thesis statements -- not about trusting our intuition and self introspection.
Also we have these out dated male models of sexuality floating around I think - expectations about how things work / fail to work in dating, relationships, sex - which don't always suit women and don't suit men either. Whether M or F - we're all emotional creatures - and I don't think the prevailing models address that enough. However, I see things changing and moving towards a model that stresses personal authenticity - which in a sense decentralizes the need for 'a model' entirely.
These issues of sex and body and healthy relationships with others need to be talked about early on - with family, with friends. We need to know how to handle situations of 'beings in relationship' - personal boundaries, trusting yourself, knowing what you need and how to ask for it, how to have clear intentions and pure actions, how to be honest with yourself and an other, and how to express yourself with words about all these feelings. That's what makes empowered actions so we're not fumbling around in the dark.
6. Can a healthy, loving relationship last forever? What do you think are the key ingredients to keeping the flame going?
There is so much to this, but I feel like it comes down to some deceptively simple things:
a. Doing your own inner work - being clear about who and what you are, what you desire, what you require. Knowing yourself is a big part.
b. Refusing to settle for what doesn't feel right and knowing how to draw those boundaries for yourself
c. Being real with your other and clear about where they are at and not taking on their 'stuff,' their projections
d. Being open the the mystery of the significant other self that is unfolding in front of your eyes every moment. Knowing that who they are and who you are is changing every day - growing and evolving. There's a lot of letting go of the past and not clinging to an image of them, nor holding on too tightly to past or future plans. There's also freedom in that practice - a freedom to be. This awareness opens you to the wonder and spontaneity of the present - and whatever shall arise.
e. Knowing when to let go of each other is equally important. When both people are suffering / shrinking under the physical-emotional-energetic weight of the other - the relationship is serving no one and is bound to become toxic. Once toxicity levels increase, it's difficult to handle things with clarity and grace.
Can a loving relationship last forever? I think so. It's about showing up, staying clear and open in the present so that you are able to handle whatever arises with grace, and about continually making the choice to practice this with your other of great significance. Once you say no to any of the above - things breakdown. This is neither good nor bad - breakdown makes room for breakthroughs - as long as it's a conscious decision to move away from the intimate space of that relationship.
I don't feel that every relationship has to last forever. We are all in beings in flux. We all can grow each other in different ways at different times. Some growth patterns are more favorable, more sustainable and healthier than others. Some relationships have lifespans - and some can last a lifetime. You learn to roll with it, see what comes up in the spontaneous moment, commit to taking care of yourself, delight in your other and (as Rob Brezsny says) "Pluck all of life's non-crappy treasures" while it lasts.
7. What's on your Man List?
I'll spare the 47 details, but it includes the essence of who I want to bring into my life and the muy importante aspect of mutual into-you-ness: someone who I adore and who adores me back with the same intensity. The nitty gritty preferences boil down to this equation: one divine partner = one part yogi, one shot brilliance, plenty of play, one part mountain man, one part artist, and one big pure heart.
8. What's your fantasy?
It involves a hot chocolate mess, with extra chantilly.
Friday, February 26, 2010
It was then that I realized that being with another other - after being with an other of significance for so so long - takes some getting used to. Mainly - getting used to the thorns and projectiles that you throw out to protect yourself from experiencing any amount of hurt again. (And it made me think on the flip side: Why am I listening to these repeated critiques from the past so seriously? Why did they stick so deeply in my memory...? Especially when they came from someone who was projecting his own stuff onto my lovely self...)
Whether you're the one projecting your stuff onto your other of the moment, or you're the one on the receiving end of such projectiles of emotional / psychological baggage, it's difficult to stay clear about what's going on and to not take anything to heart - especially in the vulnerable closeness of relationship (and the newness of budding relationship).
If this emo-baggage isn't checked at the curb and handled appropriately - we'll never be able to see who's really shining in front of us because we're too busy tossing our shit at them for whatever twisted and unresolved reasons we hold on to. That's the dose of Kryptonite it takes to destroy a relationship. How do we work with this - in ourselves and our other - when this arises?
A fun new blog called Kryptonite Cupcake Theory talks about an aspect of these thorns and projectiles in their first posts (plural due to the partnered nature of this blog's authorship: Two star-struck souls in love with life and each other, with a twist of "He said, she said").
She said: "In any relationship, there’s a period of adjusting…of teaching the other person how to treat you and helping them deal with your trigger points. I have many of them, and I know you do too. I think a lot of our fighting is testing the other person…seeing how much they want this…making sure they’re not like the other people who disappointed us so badly.
"And I think, a lot of the time, we fight because we both have a certain amount of expectation about what this new person is going to do. It’s based on those old people, sometimes. So, instead of me taking what you say at face value and assuming your innocence, I am holding you accountable for all those bad behaving others who came before you. Because on some level, I’m protecting myself from them when I’m interacting with you. You might not know how to say it in the way I need to hear it. You might not speak my language exactly or understand my motives yet. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t right. And that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It’s just a matter of being open and not defending myself from threats that don’t yet exist.
"It’s hard. People come into our lives, and they leave their impressions. We get used to being in a certain role. We get used to reacting in a certain way. And it stops being about us…you and me…and it becomes about all the people we aren’t…all those who aren’t. So, how do you love in that crazy, passionate way we do without being harmed by it…without changing to the point of embracing our shadow? How do we stay open and willing to hear and assume innocence?"
He said: "It is so hard to really date one person once you’ve dated others. ... I’m talking about past loves and the imprints our experience with them leave on us. The filters that change how we view the world. But the more we can find the ability to stop the freight train of anger for a moment, to breathe and consider the intentions of this person we really do love – so, so much – and see a glimpse of them through the shady masks of past relationships, the more we can actually deal with the shit that we each do need to address in ourselves, and the more we can relate with complete honesty and love."
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Those ones that start making pro and con lists that go on forever, and so on, ad infinitum? The ones that fixate and mull over the same crux over and over, ad nauseum? The ones that make for really creative answers to your own questionings - and you ramble these same arguments over and over and over to your friends who are sick of the same debate monologue that never creates any action to end all debates?
For example, it might start with an iteration of red flags or other issues, followed by some curious contradictions, and then excuses as to why to ignore all of the above some more: "I just want to be with someone I don't have to emotionally step around. Someone I can be myself with. He still doesn't get me (after all these years). He does this [ insert really awful / hurtful / unhealthy relationship thing here]. He wants me to be someone I'm not. I cry all the time. I'm not getting any younger. But we've made it this far, and there are glimmers of the goodness of what we can be and we must have stuck it out this long for a reason..." ("Tears, really?" you respond as the big-eared friend. "How is that a good thing, again...?")
That nagging battle of rationale and sinking gut instinct leads to pure exhaustion and mind-bottling pressure on the body. Ignoring those inner nudges from another part of your complex nervous system just snuffs your flame - until you can barely recognize yourself.
It's worth reiterating (over and over and over (and over and over and over again)) that in matters of Head vs. Heart - the heart deserves ample air time. Turn it on and tune in to see how it feels. (You'll know.) (You already do.)
As Danielle LaPorte asserts: it's hella rad to say "It just doesn't feel right." And know that is more than enough. (She then enumerates the "Corrosive effects of over-justifying your feelings," which are well worth the tattoo-worthy reminder of how silly all these trains of thoughts are...) Why sell yourself on your own shitty reasons for sticking with something that your heart and soul is just not all up into?
Ah, and this has a flip side, of course, in regards to the good things that flow seamlessly and oh so easily... those things that make you say "yes, yes, oh - yes yes yes" instantaneously and forever.
(Why talk yourself out of it when the heart rings so true?)
Consider this White-(and-feels-so-right-all-over-your-hot-body)-Truth:
"If something felt right, I’d drive all night in a push-up bra to get there. When it really feels right, you go out of your way. When something feels right, you put inconveniences in their place."
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tonight, as I stood facing my partner, sidled up in the close embrace, and eventually moving through space, my footwork was not lingering enough, wasn't hanging in the moments and musicality.
"Don't rush it," my instructor said. "Make him wait a bit. Don't make it easy. Tango is about playing hard to get..."
And, it was a good lesson for this little moi - because (ala Tom Petty) 'The waiting is the hardest part.'
"But when someone comes along who understands you, who sees you even through the layers of crap that life sometimes cakes over your true face — who is willing to stand up to your shit firmly yet kindly, and is willing to accept the same from you — not only willing but eager to be challenged, eager to be pushed, eager for growth together… well, how can you turn away from that?
"How can you turn away from someone who can not only keep up with you in every way but sometimes even beat you at your own game? How can you look away from someone who is many of the things you’d like to be, and who looks at you the same way?"
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This scene from (500) Days of Summer is classic:
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I've contemplated these riddles for a while: What do you require? What do you desire? (especially when it comes to relationships). I've written about it, meditated on it, collaged about it. I know what I want and need, but I'm also ready to be surprised.
Admittedly, when it comes to boys, I'm not a fan of settling for what doesn't suit you - as you should never (ever) do that. And while the word 'settling' is the titillating word in this title that makes me want to be up in arms (initially), I think the author of Marry Him: Settling for Mr. Good Enough has a great point (view the vid here) as she shatters the myth of waiting for the perfect person and replaces it with the wabi-sabi reality.
In defense of The Project Man Initiative , where we here at PMHQ set out to get clear with ourselves about what we are really looking for in a life partner/co-pilot/lover, etc.: yes, we make the Man List, and we check it twice. But, we're well aware that we'd be missing the point entirely if we put precedence on a stagnant 100 point checklist-that-must-be-met over the inherent brilliance of face-to-face energetics in any meet-cute moment.
Who knows what sparks will fly? What will conflagrate? And what will flop?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"A little less talk; A lot more action" is the mantra resounding in the inner sanctum of your heartspace, and when the heart's rhythm beats true, you must go with it.
What you do matters. Like any good action-hero word, love is a verb. It moves.
"Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out."- Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
"For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."- James Hillman
"True love is a discipline in which each divines the secret self of the other and refuses to believe in the mere daily self." - William Butler Yeats
"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." - Carl Jung
"I love you between shadow and soul. I love you as the plant that hasn't bloomed yet, and carries hidden within itself the light of flowers. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. Because of you, the dense fragrance that rises from the earth lives in my body, rioting with hunger for the eternity of our victorious kisses." - Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Tapscott
"Your face is true and your hair is perfect and I love you. You make boats in my dreams and you speak without words and I love you. Your fears unnerve me and your questions amuse me and I love you. I love you not only for who you are, but for the interesting person I become when I'm with you. I say I love you and love you and love you until the words become the constant song of your voice in my head and the original ache of memory in my soul. I love you more than life and death, more than everything that's in between the light and the dark. Do you believe me? Try harder. Do you believe me now? I'm always with you, which is why I know you will never abandon yourself."- PRONOIA
Makes you think a little about how and when you talk about such (vulnerable, and real) matters of the heart...
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
While this piece over at CrazySexyLife has some Secret name-drops and themes, the essence is essential: You need to create space for what you want, take uber good care of yourself (all of you) in the process (and it's all the process), give good intention and set the expectation (expectation frosts all cakes), because (in the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes) what you are seeking is also seeking you. Make some room for it.
Create that space for what you want. Create the space to be.
Barring the debate on the existence of soul mates and what they really are, the article's top-ten list is poignant for a simple, beautiful and lovely life. It takes cultivation: preparing the soil, planting the seeds, nurturing growth, vigilant weeding and weathering storms with grace and clarity -- which is all part of the harvest.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There's nothing like the heartpouring out from twitterpated inspiration & exuberance. Why stop it? It feels so good.
yes she said and again yes and his hands and yes she said again she said yes
I like the idea of anonymity being at the heart of the Valentine's tradition. Sometimes it just helps to write a letter to the ether, to yourself, to a future someone, or to someone you adore from afar but you're not sure where their heart is at.
Write it out, offer it up, give good intention and open up the mystery. Who doesn't love a good riddle? I bet someone would love to hear from you.
Here's my secret valentine: 'hold that line.'
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
That you're trying to conceal
Is the very same one
That you're dying to reveal
Go tell him how you feel
This very secret heart"
- Feist, Secret Heart
I'm no stranger to delivering random love note compositions, dropping subtle hints and gushing impromptu crazy crush confessions. It's almost become my modus operandi, and I'm fairly certain that I've managed to stun a handful of unsuspecting guys.
And I do this because life's too short to NOT say something ("Say what you gotta say," sings John Mayer and his Grammy), and after all, what have you got to lose? Nothing (as long as you're not all stalker-freak about the delivery).
On the other hand, maybe I resort to this because the ambiguity is just too much. You know, that whole "I think you're the most amazing thing ever, etc." feeling that wells up everytime you see them and you kinda wonder if the direct object of those affections has any clue whatsoever -- and more importantly, what might they be thinking about you?
We have so many inhibitions to sabotage potential and possibility. It's always nice to untie them, and see what happens.
Enter Operation Secret Valentine. Up for this lovely challenge? Here's the warm-fuzzy red badge of courage and where to sign up:
Have you ever done something 'ballsy'? Why does the incantation of boy-parts come to mind when doing audacious courageous things? No one ever says "harness your inner girl." Yet, compared to the intensity of being a woman, ballsy-ness is a little limp.
Eve Ensler urges us to embrace our inner girl @ TED.com: