Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The S.S. Princess of Pain

A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.  I read this quote by Grace Hopper once and it has always stuck with me.

In the last couple of weeks, I came to realize that I definitely am here to pilot my ship through all kinds of stormy weather, while my dearest Robert prefers the harbour.  While I do not want to share the details, I had to tell him that I was continuing to chart my course and that I could not remain in safe harbour.  I just couldn’t.  My inclination in the past would have been to suppress what I needed so that I could maintain a relationship.  Fix it.  Mend the sails if you will.  In my heart of hearts though, I knew that I had to move on.  It wasn’t pretty.  I wasn’t very graceful.  I am still tossing and turning and reliving that awful moment of realization that I had to say something.  My timing wasn’t perfect (is it ever in a case like this?), and he was hurt.  Hence the moniker “Princess of Pain” which he has let me know since that he calls me that with a tad of amusement. 

I am deeply grateful to The Robert for being who he is and for being so willing to go beyond his comfort zone and have a long distance relationship with me.  Ironically it was he who made me realize it was time for me to move out of the safe harbour I had created around myself after Duncan died.  The Robert helped me relearn the excitement of living and loving and I will never forget that.

If I am to stick with the seafaring metaphor, some might say that right now I am up Shit Creek without a paddle … a job that I love ends in a month, my condo is for sale, some stressful times around Mother’s Day and Dunc’s birthday, and an aching heart.  Yes, some might say that. 

But if I’ve learned anything over the last three years, it is that I have an endless supply of life force energy … no matter what, if I choose, I can always summon up the strength and will to continue my journey.  (And I know it isn’t always going to look like a series of linked beer commercials!) 

And I am committed to being authentic.

Here’s another one of my favourite quotes … And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

Authentically yours,


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Post Party Musings

“Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political nor popular, but one must take it simply because it is right.”
Martin Luther King

I am touched by these words today. They invite me to open, to reflect, and to ponder which lens I most look through when living my life. Buns and I have both written about our commitment to authenticity and in that context I would like to add one more question to the brilliant Mr. King’s words. (Yes I know, how arrogant, but I somehow think he would not really mind being an inspiration, a conduit to conscious thinking.)

The question I ask myself to determine what I say or do in this world, in relationship is: is it real?
And that opens up a whole subjective exploration around reality and one’s criteria to determine what is real.

I reflect back to last week’s Blind Date Dinner Party and the sheer joy of it. What excited me so much was how just the invitation to experience the senses fully, without the stimulus of sight, increased our awareness of the present moment tenfold. Whether it was E and J’s harmonious voices merged in one solid heartbeat that transported us to the dark forests of Slavic Europe or the Tall Drink of Water's didgeridoo of a throat, humming us onto the peaks of the Himalayas…our relationship with sound became achingly more sensitive, more connected with feelings. And taste, smell and touch evoked a similar heightened sense of awareness and acuity.

So this to me is real!

It is present time, not meandering between past and future but smack dab right in the breath, in the body and in the now!

That is the definition of consciousness is it not? Alive, vibrant, open, curious and rich in sensation.
This is the same frequency that I evoke into a relationship. Imagine it… Conscious relationship and all that entails… where every touch speaks as loudly as words and with as much meaning and understanding both in the sender and the receiver.

For me this exchange is a call to bliss, and it would include sharing anything and everything that arises which normally would prevent one from feeling such pure flow, such interdependence.

There is no judgment or evaluation in this model, only an acceptance and movement toward what is… not what you want to maneuver the moment to be… BUT WHAT IS!

That would include sadness, anger, contraction, and resistance... all welcomed equally with the trust that inherent in breathing into all feelings they shift and dissolve and transform into something REAL … into an experience of Self and Other that is free and connected at the same time.

I have said it before and I repeat it often to keep reminding myself of the course I am committed to, the path back home to myself and to living authentically… real is not the self creation of pretty presentations… real is an offering of transparency and revealing of what is, pretty or not, in the present moment.

That’s what we did at the dinner party. Moment by moment, blindfolds in hand, we experienced each other as a group at our core. People’s ability to go deep will vary but when the intention is set for revealing, something magical happens and it is as satisfying as a five-course meal… more so... The sharing of our soul’s imagery is filling…it’s nurturing…it’s darn right sexy.

So for me Mr. King’s question: is it right, is the foundation to stand on, to anchor in as a human having a human experience. I am not interested in sensuality simply for sensuality’s sake. Hedonism, while loads of fun, without a solid connection to ‘what is right’ can easily shift into self-serving chaos.

Checking if something is right, which means in alignment with one’s core values, keeps one’s choices on course with something far bigger and deeper than obedience to the question, does it feel good?
Clear focus of ‘what the experience is for’ is a companion that gives purpose to one’s journey. Without purpose, sensation can get stale and redundant, with it, one invites the depths of one’s soul to resonate in a human exchange, to be legitimately seen and received. Then the focus can shift from what one is getting to what one is giving.

Far beyond hedonistic sensation this level of depth actually requires asking: what is real? The question itself calls for self inquiry and the use of a different skill set than the eyes we use to see outwardly. For the soul to flourish and offer up its secrets, its purpose, its spiritual delights…its LOVE…only inner sight, inner sensation and listening to a deeper more Core part of self is needed. This Core part of you (or as Buns calls it your Essential Self) is spirit, it is love, it is joy. And all the parts of you that may not feel like that are simply stepping stones to your Core.

This way of perceiving, of dancing with Self and others is deep AND it can be fun! The next REAL dinner party is already in the works. You can show up as you are… flawed and human…full of contradictions and keep revealing until you hit the center of yourself. Then give it… without apology… offer it to the world and risk having a deep experience of knowing and being known.

Authentically Yours

P.S. My gift to the group at the dinner party involved scent. I had 3 oils, one a coconut oil infused with the rare Tiare flower from Tahiti ( I love to anoint my skin with it after steamy hot baths). The other 2 were natural scents made by Pure Attar Luxurious Oils: Oil of Damascus with cloves and sweet orange and Tunisian Nights with sandalwood and rose. (Most of the men picked that scent.) Each person inhaled their favorite and as it soaked into their skin, warmed by touch, it evoked an inner journey of the senses. Remember they were blindfolded. Stories unfolded of tender moments with loved ones, brilliant kaleidoscopes of images from exotic locations and still silent depth that offered a pause, a soft place to rest in inhalation. The oils were given to me by Jennifer at Pure Attar, who made them and offered them for my New Year's rendezvous with Chicago. (Still sad at times that he missed that boat.) I saved them until now wanting to honor the pleasure of their delicacies with a real moment in time.

You can order them from

Monday, April 4, 2011

Daredevil dining

It’s 5:30 on Saturday.  I have just left Marty’s place to give her some time to get to know Vanisle.  This is the first time they have met and there's a window of opportunity for the two of them to get acquainted before the big event.  I will return shortly to help her with our blind-date dinner party.  We have planned an evening for 8 guests – some of whom have never met each other – to get together, experience the stories, gifts, food, and wine that each bring to the table.  Blindfolded.  At least for part of the evening.  We are each to bring something for the potluck, a gift that can be offered to the rest of the guests while they are blindfolded, a show-and-tell item from their youth, and a blindfold.

I return to find Marty’s date – we decided to call him Zorro – festooned in an apron, corkscrew at the ready, and apparently nicely settled in for the evening.  This is a good sign. Marty, has set-decorated the living and dining rooms brilliantly for the occasion.  Even our friend Bob, the mannequin, is sporting a tiara and a blindfold.  The appetizers are out, music is playing, and a bowl of provocative questions sits amongst the olives and crackers (should conversation lag at any point during the evening).  As the three of us sit there, I give Zorro a quick energy reading (with his permission of course).  I am able to zero in on a couple of truths for him and we quickly establish that this is going to be an evening with the No Bullshit Zone firmly delineated.  We’re callin’ ’em as we sees ’em.  He loves it.

Next the guests arrive.  A quick introduction – J & E – a lovely Polish couple, married for 37 years, and absolutely in for what may happen; Sparky, the electrician – a tall drink of water with a warm smile (he is also going to meet his date for the first time tonight); M, Sparky’s date – the mystery woman whom we all immediately take to for her enthusiasm and willingness to be involved; and Dakota – the pediatrician-turned shaman – need I say more in terms of an interesting mix!

Curtains open.  We all put our blindfolds on and Marty passes around a tray with three dishes – each with scented oils.  We are to pick which one we like, dab a little of the oil on our hands, and then tell the group what memories the fragrance elicits.  Wonderful stories emerge.  It is very sensuous and honest.  Next, while the gang is still blindfolded, I choose a Rune for the evening and it is the blank – The Unknowable.  Of course it is!  It represents the Divine in all human transactions and is the Rune of total trust. I read to them and they listen.  While not necessarily in this order, we experience a poem by Robert Frost –  Nothing Gold Can Stay, we listen to a Polish duet accompanied by guitar (indescribably touching), we unwrap hootchies and bullets to learn about Zorro’s fondness for hunting and fishing, we hear a joke with different characterized voices, and we mold clay into whatever form is evoked while we listen to Tibetan throat singing.  (If you pause reading here, just for minute, you might be able to tap into the plethora of sensations …).

Ah yes.  And the food.  We began blindfolded (again) and had an appetizer of stuffed dates.  (Three each… one with goat’s cheese, one with a spicy almond, and one wrapped in prosciutto – a cheesy date, a nutty date, and a blind date.) Off came the blindfolds and we continued.

The salad (apples, pecans, carrots, and zillions of other ingredients) was so good I think I could eat just that for the rest of my life.  If I can get the recipe, I’ll post it.  (Oh wait!  Marty!  We could do a Buns and Marty cookbook!)  Sorry.  I digress.

Red-wine-soaked scalloped potatoes topped with feta, green beans almandine, and grilled stuff salmon, organic chicken, and steak, took us up to the dessert portion of the meal.  Here we donned our scarves, ties, and masks again to taste an elegant banana caramel cake, a tiny chocolate cup of Frangelica, another one with berries, and ice cream.  Messy?  Yes.  Worth it?  Absolutely.

With freshly roasted and ground coffee and Je t’aime tea as finishers, we were sufficiently suffonsified, as my Dad used to say.

The show-and-tell part was very endearing and the camaraderie amongst all was amazing.  It was as if we had all known each other forever.  Conversation lingered until the wee hours and it was clear that all were exhilarated by having attended. 

Did we learn anything?  I know I did.  I said “yes” to something about which the only thing I knew was its energy and intent.  I didn’t have to see it first.  It was very liberating for me.  I also was able to practice setting the energy for others so they too could have a mindful and meaningful experience.

This is definitely a do-again.  Perhaps on a larger scale.  (Perhaps in a villa in France, Marty!)  Would you come if you were invited?  What would you bring as your gift?  Who would you invite? What questions would you put in the jar? 

Authentically yours,