Sunday, January 30, 2011

On being an essensualist.

Even though I couldn’t find a definition for this … I’ve decided that’s one way I could describe myself. I continue to deepen my appreciation for my ability to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste – but it’s more than that. It’s revealing the heart of each sensation and experiencing the essence of it.

(Darn it Marty, I had this thing written in my head last night when I was trying to get to sleep and it was much more palatable and easy to digest then. But I’m going to give it a whirl.)

The nuances in each sound I hear (or the silence at the other end of the line) hold the “once upon a time” of a whole story. (And I have unearthed some treasured truths by following the threads and asking the right questions.)

The smell of fresh air on kids’ faces and in their hair tells of the games they have played and the mischief they have gotten away with in the neighbour’s back yard. Rosy cheeks and smiles bespeak their good health and happiness in the moment.

The flavour of the hot sauce (freshly delivered from Mexico) on my omelette this morning says my son was thinking about me when he was on holidays and was connecting with my penchant for spicy taste experiences. I am reminded of his love every time I see that little bottle with green delight inside it!

The view of the Lions, Howe Sound, and the beginning of the Tantalus Range is a truly majestic and breathtaking vista that rivals the best backdrops in the world. And it is an open history book recounting the trials, tribulations, and achievements of all those who chose this part of the world to tame.

The moment when my body hits the warm, salty, sea (the result of an adrenalin-inducing decision to do a high dive off the top deck of a large sailboat), confirms that I am alive, invigorated, and have the capacity to cavort in the air and under water! And many people contribute to my getting to that instance of sheer, unfettered, joy.

This essensualizing, for me, is my way of staying in touch with gratitude. It helps to lift my spirits if I’m having “one of those days”. It connects me not only to the moment, but to the essence of what I might take for granted if I wasn’t curious enough to dig deeper.

And I am never bored.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shall We Dance?

I am reading a dark, disturbing book where the protagonist cracks his psyche open by creating a game where he gives himself 6 choices and rolls his dice to tell him which action to follow. It is unsettling in that many of his choices are the polar opposite of what any sane moral person would consider but it has led me to percolate on the subject of randomness. Lives lived without conscious choice really are random. Trust is left to …what? Chance? Circumstances? Reaction? Really without a clear-cut goal at the onset whatever happens will just seem to happen. Making sense of things after they have happened depends solely on what glasses you are viewing them through. Having a clear goal beforehand ensures that you will do everything that is in alignment with what you say you want and ignore the rest.

So on that note I am called to clarify my dance moves for the coming year, specifically in the realm of relationship. I am not interested in randomness. I am interested in experiencing the fullness of life and feeling like an active vital participant. I can only do my part in this dance and making it conscious is an important piece. Knowing what feeling is at the core of my essence is imperative. For me that feeling is Joy. Life without that juicy state means little to me. I will invite and allow all feelings AND move through the layers until I return to rest in the blissful arms of joy…home sweet home! Easy to say, I know and while egos are not fond of this dance given that it calls for faith and surrender, what choice is there? Choosing not to dance is akin to choosing not to live. And the truth is you are always choosing something. You can dance the life of a victim or a perpetrator, a fraud or a phony, defended or open and unarmed…but you cannot NOT dance as long as you are in a body. So name your dance, you are doing it anyway…make it conscious…invite the feelings you want to generate and define the ingredients it takes to gracefully let go and live there.

Are there universal ingredients necessary in order to freely dance. I think so. I see how living one’s life in co –dependence, believing that you NEED something from the world or from another person (your dance partner) is a set up for disappointment. The world will never deliver what you need. You are already saying I am incomplete and that is the experience you will continue to perpetuate. Your dance partner will inevitably make the wrong moves and fail to please you. No-one can fill you if you continue to believe you need filling. It is an impossible task because it is not true. Truly your choice of how you view yourself is the defining factor in accepting an identity that is either whole and complete or lacking. Perceiving lack invites an experience of lack. Identifying as whole will invite an experience of wholeness.

Then there is the flip side of the same coin, independence. Here you generate an energy field that delivers a message that you need nothing, You are self sufficient and can take care of yourself. This stance is much revered by our society especially by women who have been burned in their desire for connection. (Yes Buns, we used to land in that category). Essentially this independence creates a barrier to relationship. Without expressing the vulnerability that exists in all of us under our facades of capability we are unavailable for authentic connection. Sure you can stay safe and self contained with not much rocking your world but to truly dance you have to FEEL your partner fully, you have to let them under your skin. The rhythm of the dance must enter you, the desire for it, the yearning. The rhythm moves you from the inside out and that calls for vulnerability not strategy and control.
And that leads us to INTERDEPENDENCE.

Yes please….

To live in such a way that I honor the core of who I am…joy…tap into my femininity and creativity and stay willing to touch and be touched by another…well that’s the beginning of the dance. It’s not the solo kind of dancing from the clubs…think Tango…think surrender…think a total sensory experience of self and other equally. Two energies blending as one so seamlessly that the resulting experience blinds us to our existential separateness.

THE TANGO originated in Latin America. Its roots are hot-blooded and it is a perfect metaphor for the masculine/ feminine polarity that is called for in living a fresh, spontaneous and lively relationship. The music plays, you must decide to participate. It’s a risk. It has to be a full out decision. Reactive, defensive, half way, restrained, tight or conditional choices lead to bruised feet and confused direction. The commitment to participation “as one” is essential while at the same time celebrating and grounding in one’s own individual essence. You don’t start the dance and then suddenly stop because you are afraid or tired. You stay in, you stay committed to your core, to express transparently and fully. How could you not if you understand that the expression is the essence of who you are. Not something you express to get, but rather something you express because ‘you are.’

The Tango is the marriage of autonomy and togetherness. How that is communicated is the exciting part in the steps of this passionate dance. A confident and solid lead builds trust…a woman can surrender to that lead because it is honest, awake and asks for nothing less than truth in the present moment. At the same time she retains a unique and vital style that is true to her core. Surrender has such terrible connotations in our society, it tends to be associated with losing something, with powerlessness. In the dance you MUST surrender fully…no holding out or retaining control or defenses. You surrender not to the man in front of you but to the life force inside of you that is nourished and invited and teased into a burning flame by the polarity, the strength of the masculine lead. There is no loss in this kind of surrender. It actually leads you closer to yourself, to your power and autonomy while at the same time married to the safety of trusting the arms of another human being. Here you can rest emotionally naked, without cover and truly dance from the inside out.

The Tango calls you, as does life to complete contact…no apology … skin to human skin …contact! Both dancers agree to let go to this authentic connection and give their essence to the other. You can’t fake a Tango…you can’t dance it half assed pretending or playing it safe. You are vulnerable, exposed, even raw. If your goal at the start is to minimize risks and play it safe, in order to look good or not get hurt, you will have a dead and boring Tango. Just as in life, playing it safe, controlled and committed to the habitual and predictable leads to a dull relationship. Risk is an inherent factor in aliveness, in vibrancy. Life actually calls you to live at your edge, not so far out that you lose sense of yourself yet also not so habitual that there is no new information entering, no surprise. And that is the beauty of committing to live your life as if you were dancing The Tango. In order to participate you must live in the zone of the unknown. You must BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT, neither anticipating nor controlling…BE in contact with the pulse of life that guides you first one way, then another. Any thought about the past or future stops the intensity of flow. You breath, inhale and let go…as one…sensing, sharing, being, speaking…the body talks, one moment with passion, the next, determination and then …soft…release and trust as you fall completely, as you let go. The rhythm of the Tango is NOW…living large and cracked open to love.
Remember Buns recently talking about setting our intentions for the year. Well here is mine…. I am setting my intention to dance this year. To let go of any remaining defenses that my programming tells me keeps me safe. I am hoping to see you on the dance floor. Actually I am sure I will. I know you my friend, I feel your spirit and I see how important dancing life full out is to you.

I commit to keep stepping into the unknown, to stay open and to vibrate passionately with the joyful notes of the present moment. I will also reexamine how I chose who my dance partners are. Discernment is different than defense. Discernment is a quality that can support the grace and the fluidity of the dance. It does not have to be a struggle or battle of wills. The Dance of Life, once two people agree on the song they are dancing to and the steps that are its foundation can be exhilarating, expansive and full of pleasure. And for me there are certain steps that are non- negotiable… transparency, authenticity, honesty, integrity, kindness…and Joy. Can’t dance without Joy!
And it all starts with feeling the rhythm inside of Self first…acting as the qualities needed to manifest whatever your vision…then following the present moment into inspired action.

I believe the world responds to this beat, this risk, this rush of passion and the pulse that is always calling.

From my heart to yours,
Authentically Marty

P.S.  Buns and I were invited by an ex-co-worker, Keith Elshaw,, to a milonga.  Keith and I used to work together on air at Q107 Radio in Toronto.  So now, get this.  Talk about synchronicity.  I hadn’t seen him in years and years.  Since then he has gone from rock-and-roll DJ/producer to Tango expert and afficionado. As I was writing this Tango post, I experienced technical difficulties which delayed its publication.  During that delay, Keith emails that he is on a Canadian tour which is coming to Vancouver.  So we went. Buns got a three-minute private lesson by one of the best.  I am looking at using air miles to get both of us to Argentina for a Tango-immersion experience.  If people can learn Spanish this way, why not this dance of love? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

For Duncan

Some Fill With Each Good Rain

There are different wells within your heart.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far too deep for that.

In one well
You have just a few precious cups of water,
That "love" is literally something of yourself,
It can grow as slow as a diamond
If it is lost.

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

There are different wells within us.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far, far too deep
For that.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Still got the blues for you

Sorry Marty … I just haven’t felt like writing for the last week or so.  I’m sorting out how I would like to consciously “have” this January.  And so, dear readers, a little background for those of you who don’t know this already …

Three years ago next week marks the passing of my son Duncan.  Up until this year, my settling into January has been uneasy and filled with trepidation, a deep sadness, and a quiet but ever-present heartache.  Usually one or more of my siblings have come for a visit so that I am not alone and for that I am deeply grateful. At the same time, I am seen as a very strong and cheerful person, always looking on the bright side, always finding the silver lining in every cloud, etc. And there is no doubt that there have been many gifts throughout my grieving process … in fact, it was Duncan’s fondest wish that Marty and I became friends as he and Marty’s son were best buds and they both thought we’d make quite a pair.  (He was so right wasn’t he Marty?)

I know that I don’t want to go through the rest of my life dreading the arrival of January and the attendant blues.  At the same time, I need to actually just have it, without trying to be someone that I'm not, or do anything about it.  I need to open to what this particular January is for me, and not try to change it, make it better, or fix it.  I just want “what is”.  No matter what it looks or feels like.

And I actually think I’m on to something here.  For the past week or so, I have been receptive to my deepest thoughts and emotions about this.  I haven’t tried to hide how I’m feeling, or push thoughts away, and I’m being much more gentle with myself.  What I am realizing is that when I try not to be something, I’m not being present.  And when I’m not being present, I miss what’s going on around me.  So had I not chosen to just be, I may have not been able to fully appreciate the lovely synchronicity of one of Duncan’s friends popping by the store to tell me of her latest dream about him.  I may have missed the incredible tenderness of a twenty-two-year-old man who decided to stay with me at the store for the afternoon because he felt I needed the company.  (He was working across the street and he could see when he needed to run across and help a customer.  It turns out he had lost his sister four years ago in December and knew exactly what was going on with me, and thus I with him.)  Or the local teenaged rapscallion who came in to the store today and sat down at the piano because he wanted me to hear a piece of music that he was learning.  It was so beautiful and touching.  I had no idea this kid could play like that! 

I’m not saying that I like January yet.  I am saying there is a way to experience January in a way that is not charged for me.  Next Thursday evening, I will be sitting on the beach in Lions Bay, a bonfire blazing, a bagpiper in the background, with white roses to float out on the tide in memory of my beautiful son. 

The first time we performed together, we played “Still Got the Blues” by Gary Moore.  The last time I saw him, we happened to play that song again.   And while I still got the blues for my boy, I am so very grateful that he chose me to be his Mom.  Thanks Dunc. xox

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Grace

I think I said a few posts ago that DESIRE TRUMPS FEAR. As a soul carver committed to chiseling away at my armor in order to live authentically, transparently and joyfully it is essential that my desire leads to inspired action. That old adage, talk is cheap is ringing loud this New Years.
Here is how it works. You set a goal…a goal that fills you with fantastic feelings just thinking about it. You act as if it is already true, that you already have what you say you want and that in return invites more of that same experience (since in effect you do already have the ability to experience the state you desire RIGHT NOW). So as Buns has said we rang in our New Year in sensual luxury, in abundance, in friendship and authenticity at The Sorrento, a lovely European feeling boutique hotel reminiscent of an Italian villa.

……minus Chicago. Did I hear a loud groan from the gallery? You should have heard the sounds in my head when he sent a text saying that he had missed his morning flight to Seattle and was on standby.
Buns, The Robert and I had a glorious sunny day at Pike Market in Seattle shopping for prosciutto, cheeses and crusty bread for our evening feast. We chatted with shoppers connecting over olive choices, “stuffed with anchovy or blue cheese?... hell let’s get both”….beautiful wines and many other delectables that fulfilled the whimsy of having whatever we wanted. A fondue set was purchased for dipping fruits in heavenly chocolate and The Robert and I stood in line for homemade mini donuts exploding with chewy warmth as they hit your tongue. I knew we couldn’t wait…rich dark coffee was ordered immediately so the taste testing could begin! I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for all of life’s pleasures and the sheer joy of good company and laughter…of being so fully alive. The Robert is a funny guy in a dry zinger kind of way. We tried to talk him into buying a hat; he would have none of it although he did insist on trying one on that made him resemble the Mad Hatter from Alice. Most importantly though The Robert is kind, that quality is foremost and was so appreciated especially as the reality that Chicago was not getting on flight after standby flight.

Finally the text came that Chicago had given up, I had still held out hope having cast him in some Errol Flynn role where no obstacle would have stopped him from his intended arrival….and now it was done.

That was my choice point, the moment of decision, inspired action or let Chicago’s choices impact and derail me? Do I stay true and connected to my own desire and light or believe I am Alice falling down the rabbit hole of confusion. It was the Eve of a New Year…I chose to do a Grace Kelly. I use the words ‘Grace Kelly’ as a verb….to act with grace, authentic soft vulnerability, healthy pride and an eye on the positive, taking the high road whenever presented with obstacles.
I headed for the bath. Water is always my first line of response whenever I feel overwhelmed. I need to get clear and soaking in a huge old world bathroom surrounded by pristine snow white marble, sipping Pellegrino is a Grace Kelly way of doing it. I pulled my energy back into myself and grounded…then I dressed up. See that’s the inspired action part, what you do IS important. You can have all the greatest desires or intentions and if your actions are not in alignment with them nothing will shift or materialize. My actions were in line with my commitment, my values of joy and fun and while I did not understand what all this chaos with Chicago was for I trusted that if I stayed true to myself the information would become clear.

So I donned my tiara (no for real, not metaphoric) wearing a tiara reminds me of celebration. I put on my most sparkly bling, adorned myself with the love and care I so desired.
Then we set decked the room with scented candles, red sheer cloth and bouquets of white tulips. Rocks we had bought earlier from an artist at the market completed the tableau, my favorite read Carpe Noctem (seize the night) AND SO WE DID. The Robert and Buns and I laughed and cried and flowed, as did the music and wine. Ok, disclaimer… the Robert did NOT cry but he did say to me more than a few times when I started to spiral down the rabbit hole ” Snap out of it” His wit was valued. Their generosity of spirit both in receiving me and sharing their love was much appreciated. I felt blessed.
And when midnight rolled around and we had ventured down to the fireside lounge to listen to the 1930’s inspired band Rosie and The Percolators croon Auld Lang Syne I gave thanks for a year gone by of growth and learning and blossoming friendships. I did feel sad for a moment. That song always makes me cry and since we are remembering the past 365 days of the year that actually seems ok to me. Some of the things that transpired were sad.

And this year I invite passion…even more passion. I will continue to take risks, exposing everything that might block my heart from feeling the warmth of the love that is ever present. I will have lots of Grace Kelly moments.

As for dating, and Chicago ...

I have asked for what I needed…the ball is in his court, the challenge is his to step up and demonstrate actions in alignment with his professed values…or not. I only know that waiting is not what I am here to do. I will live this year in passionate connection in each moment, with myself, with my friends, with work and with each human encounter that presents itself. I keep on saying YES. BRING IT!

And to all of you…..From Buns and Marty we wish you a Graceful, Shiny, Bold and Bedazzled 2011.

Newsflash: The Be-dazzler IS making a comeback.