Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going in...Coming Out...

If you want to make an omelette you have to break some eggs.

Well I love cooking and I am willing to break eggs so lets just dive in. Diving headfirst into love is not something I have been timid about.
The question on the table for me is, have I been diving in heart first and undefended?
I have used my head to understand so much about relationship, its dynamic patterns, my part in those patterns, how to get accountable and how keep the focus on myself, speaking only about myself and not the other person. I have a full tool bag of skills to use to ‘make relationships work’. True, I have picked people with far less fascination than myself in implementing these tools but is that really the issue or is it that I have avoided the one simple and yet essential ingredient necessary to anchor the relationship in secure attachment.
What would that be you wonder?
I’ll take NEED for $500 please Alex.


In our autonomous, individualistic society, need has become a bad four letter word. We are told that we should grow up and be self sufficient, stop asking for our needs to be met like a child needing attention from a parent. I myself have advocated for this kind of autonomy, feeling that leaning too much on a partner was a burden and somehow unenlightened.

After all as spirit I don’t need anything...right?
As spirit I am called to BE not need.

And yet I am also a human being and I am realizing more and more that I have been leaning away from needing, as evidenced in my default to spiritual wholeness rather than feeling the need itself. Ultimately it felt safer to learn how to return to myself and my own essence then it did to trust that another person would be there for me consistently. Where is the balance in this? Is it possible to return to oneself with the help of a human union?  The time has come to admit I need other people and feel how vulnerable being in that state makes me. I am realizing that I have not admitted to myself what I need because I held a belief that I was meant to rise above my needs for fear of being needy.

Well there is a world of difference between asking for one’s needs to be met in a relationship and being needy. And I am embarking on a curriculum to get really clear about that distinction.

I just did a one day workshop called Hold me Tight facilitated by Dr Sue Johnson whose book by the same name has inspired Emotionally Focused Therapy as an effective way of working with couples in distress.  Watch this experiment called Still Face.

When I look at that baby I see myself. When the baby turns away from its mother because it is too painful to reach and not be met, that makes my insides quiver. It explains to me why spiritual fullness feels safer than needing another person. The baby doesn’t understand what to do to retain contact. And truth be told, neither do I. When it comes to vulnerable interaction with another being I get confused.  Yes, I have become an expert at breathing into myself and spiritual centering as a way of not acting out from fear but true vulnerability with another person would include the need for consistent attachment since that is at the core of our human wiring.

Let me be clear that I am not throwing out my well earned skill set of years of independent centering. I am in fact intending to add to it. And what I am adding is the ability to be humanly vulnerable and let my needs be known in relationship. That means I would have to feel what the needs are and risk asking for them from another. Yikes!

Try on these words if you will.
 I need you.
What happens when you say them?

For me I feel fear, I feel a weight and judgment rise up warning me that this is not a good choice. It’s not a healthy or safe choice and it’s certainly not an attractive choice. And yet this dichotomy of on the one hand knowing I am whole as spirit and on the other wanting to create an interdependent full body relationship cannot be ignored any longer. I want to cultivate a human relationship with its messy inconsistency and sometimes exquisitely painful nuances not sit in Zen mode on a mountaintop (even an urban one in a penthouse.) Breathing away my needs and attachments just won’t cut it anymore.  I want to risk not having my needs met but knowing that I asked and that I didn’t die in the process. Understand that this is not about asking for things, I have no problem with that. That is easy because it is not at the core of my vulnerability. The human desire for connection and safety is.

Need needs to be part of the human equation and that means you would have to know what you need and be able to ask for it in a way that the other person can understand.

On the other side of fear is a need. When I feel this fear or contraction at saying the words ‘I need you’ to someone if I keep breathing into the body, I just might have to FEEL the need for attachment, safety and security. In the past I trained myself to meet this need by myself and that felt like progress. I learned to stop asking to be met, just like the baby would if her mother continued to not respond and instead I soothed myself becoming my own internally referenced safe sanctuary.

I have excelled at the art of giving love, of stretching so I feel my own essence and spiritual wholeness but I have not become an A student yet in REACHING for another. I stopped myself after a series of partners who without words were saying no to meeting me in this dance of vulnerability. For my part, I am sure that the way I was asking back then was clumsy and cloaked in toughness on the outside to mask the softness within. I can see how energetically I contributed to simple cues being missed and how my needs might have been perceived as an impending hammer of doom.

These days, I am hearing from men that they like a woman who needs them, that it is important to them. Ok, I believe you. So I am going to learn to locate, identify and ask...vulnerably.

Ultimately without that reach for a partner it occurs to me that the invitation to dance is rather one sided and not at all conducive to juicy reciprocity between a man and a woman. Or between any 2 human beings for that matter. I don’t ask in my friendships either. I pride myself on the flexibility I offer the friendship rather than what I have considered the weight of including needs.

So there you have it.  Into the next layer of the cake I go.

I wish it felt like a sweet delicious Limoncello Baked Alaska crowned in crisp sugary peaks but alas…it doesn’t. It feels risky and uncomfortable, sticky even, fear that my friendships won’t withstand this new added dimension and my messy learning curve. That’s a clear indicator that I am called to explore it. I am called to break some eggs.

Cover me I am going in! Again!

Here’s to leaving no shell uncracked.

Branded by exploring needs….

Authentically yours,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sometimes you're the windshield ...

Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're going to lose it all.

Do you know this Dire Straits song? Well this week I felt like I was in dire straits – certainly emotionally.  It had to do with possibly losing it all.  Or at least thinking that was the case.  I came face to face with potentially losing my business location, my condo tenants’ giving notice, sales being abysmal, and a friend seemingly betraying a confidence, resulting in my losing a shot at a long-standing dream I had nurtured for several years.

As miserable as it all felt – and believe me, I hadn’t been this down for years – there was a spark inside that kept reminding me that everything has in it a grain of truth and a nugget of pure gold.  So I ploughed through the muck and came out the other side with at least a 24k chunk.  The story isn’t as important as my finding out that simply by sticking with the uncomfortableness of the situation, and going for gold as it were, that was enough.  No amount of money, acquisitions, relationships make me enough.  That can only come from me. 

When I finally realized that I would be okay if I lost it all, I felt very liberated.  And once I was able to truly accept that, each of the situations took a decided turn.  My new landlord is keen to work out a win/win situation for the business location, my tenants have decided to stay, sales have made a comeback, and I have reconciled with my friend.

Yes, my life has had its fair share of ups and downs but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  As Diane Ackerman so beautifully wrote:

The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding,
and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours,
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

Branded by gold,


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pain Pushes Until Vision Pulls

Pain pushes until vision pulls.   I had scribbled this on a piece of paper ages ago and just found it at the bottom of a closet I was clearing out. Its odd, just when I think I have made this shift to living out of vision, something happens.

 Maybe as long as we are human, pain will present itself as an natural option only now the choice is whether to water it and grow it into an ouch tree with roots and branches and leaves so sensitive to the touch that a perimeter of hardness must be created to guard against contact…or go through it, all the way to the other side. The other choice I am learning to rest in is, in the immortal words of the fab four…let it be. 

And when vision calls now, I answer. Even in the middle of the pain or discomfort I will answer. It can be in a piece of music, a scent, a texture or a light bulb moment of fashion festivity when I realize my motorcycle boots will work perfectly tonight with my short pleated black skirt, and wide metallic hip belt. If this sounds too hard edge don’t worry fashion police, I will wear pearls…long black ones wrapped around my wrist.

Vision can be found lurking, waiting, tempting, whistling for attention... just about anywhere.

This kaleidoscope of creativity, sensuality, pulls me into a feeling state…whenever I allow my imagination to unfold uncensored and reign as if it’s real. I feel a leap of excitement in my heart and then that uncontrollable explosion of smiling, that inhale of pure pleasure and acceptance where every nuance of the experience is taken in fully. The details are always changing but the intention to let the feelings that arise nourish my essence calls for cultivating a state of constant receptivity.

You will not receive if you are not already open to receiving. That state calls for trust, for letting the pull lead you and guide you without analysis and evaluation. Risky? At times, the ‘what if’s’ creep in and they will play havoc with your mind. Yet as long as I stay true to returning to pure acceptance instead of control and strategy, then my heart’s desire can pull me instead of pain pushing me into reactivity. The freedom in all this is quite simply that this is always an option regardless of content.

And for those times when you might forget, there are your mighty companions, your tribe. That’s what we are here for, to give each other a little elbow nudge of “Hey friend, you seem to have forgotten how much you shine, how powerful you are. Frankly, when I hang out with you I need sunglasses.”

Pain pushes until vision pulls.

 I would rather the latter even with its messy, out of the box, swirl of possibility.
I will raise a glass in this direction tonight as I head out for a long overdue visit with my old friend to L’Abattoir Restaurant in Blood Alley.

The food here is so good you might find yourself raising a hand for silence so your taste buds can fall into pure pleasure. Try the beet root salad with Tallegio custard, pears and pumpkin seeds.

Tonight, I will order a Vesper, a refreshing burst of lemony goodness in a Martini, inspired by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale

Branded by lemons,
Authentically Yours

Vesper Martini
3 oz. Dry Gin
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
In a cocktail shaker half filled with cracked ice add the gin and vodka, then the Lillet. Shake then strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with fresh lemon. Add a lemon twist and take off. Vision doesn’t mind a little mellow lubrication.

James Bond first ordered a drink to be shaken in Fleming's novel Casino Royale (1953) when he requested a drink of his own invention which would later be referred to as a "Vesper", named after the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. After meeting his CIA contact Felix Leiter for the first time, Bond orders the drink from a barman while at the casino.

'A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet.'
'Oui, monsieur.'
'Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'
'Certainly monsieur.' The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
'Gosh, that's certainly a drink,' said Leiter.
Bond laughed. 'When I',' he explained, 'I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I think of a good name.'
— Casino Royale, Chapter 7: Rouge et Noir[5]

Monday, March 5, 2012

The girl with the invisible tattoo.

As per my last post, I decided to subtly shift my awareness from being single to resonating with what it would be like to be in a relationship.

Just to put you in the picture, I rarely get asked out on a date.  Like, actually, never. I’ve often asked my men friends why they think that is, and to a one they say I come across as very capable, confident, and for sure I must be already taken.  So they shy away. (Of course I am looking for the one who is bold enough to look past all that and actually have the guts to approach me.)

So I’ve been tweaking my inner climate so that it matches what I think I would like to experience.  Wow.  All it took was one little indescribable shift and wham!  The phone started ringing.  In the last two weeks, four different guys have approached me.  But I think I still need to fine-tune my dabbling in this area.

Guy number 1.  Thirty years old.  (Yes, I could be his mother.)  Guy number 2.  Twenty-two.  (We’re getting into “I’m-old-enough-to-be-your-grandmother” territory!) Guy number 3.  Forty-seven.  (Now that’s getting better.  But he has a partner, the cad.) Guy number 4.  Old flame.  Missed me.  Wanted to rekindle – but just the physical part, nothing else.

So WTF?  (And I don’t mean the last three days of the work week, or as one of my friends always says, “why that’s fantastic!”).  I looked in the mirror to see if I had an invisible tattoo on my forehead. Was there something there saying I was available for casual trysts and would look after all non-committal needs? What actually was being mirrored back to me?

I realize this has nothing to do with them.  It’s about what I am unconsciously advertising.  Am I really saying I'm willing if it’s just a physical relationship… where I don’t have to involve my heart?

Shit.  I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board. 

I also put a profile on line.  I am not comfortable with that AT ALL but I’m willing to see what might transpire.

And in the meantime, I am having my tattoo removed.  And a new one put near my heart.

Branded by invisible ink…

Love Buns.