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Tangled, But Not Tied Up

25 Feb

Last week a special Trail Blazer alumnus passed away. I didn’t follow Jerome Kersey in his heyday, however, his presence in the Portland community was very well known by fans and non-fans alike. He became a Trail Blazer ambassador after retiring from the NBA in 2001, and went above and beyond his duties. He made a positive impression on many, and was a true community leader. I even had a few interactions with him at a favorite restaurant that we both frequented a couple of years ago. He was always smiling and friendly to everyone at the bar. Many people have expressed warm remembrances of him from years past, including this beautiful essay by a friend of mine. It’s safe to say that Portland is feeling a great loss this week.

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Jerome’s death made me incredibly sad—it hit unexpectedly close to home—but also very pensive and a little tangled inside. I had just come off of a first date when I read about his death on Facebook. I was flying high—my date was nice, a gentleman, adventurous, and he was willing to go zydeco dancing with me, which was a first for both of us, and very cool of him. I was patting myself on the back for taking a chance on someone I may have passed by in another life. We met speed dating, which, let’s be honest, is always a guessing game as to whether you just wasted $29 or met some really cool people that you may or may not ever see again.

So when I read about Jerome’s death, I instantly started reviewing how I spend my time and who I bring into my life. Since I moved to Portland almost 12 years ago, my life has taken many twists, turns, and curved paths that I could never have foreseen. It made me want to reach out to you in the best way I know how—through writing.

I want this blog post to function in two ways: 1) As my Christmas letter for 2014 to tell you what I did last year, and 2) As a way to dispense what I’ve learned in the past year (Okay, 14 months). During December, I kept finding excuses to put off the writing of my annual Christmas letter, and I wasn’t sure why. Now I realize I had so much more to process about my past year before sharing it. Normally I send these out to close friends and family only, but we are all one, we are all family. I love you, and I want you to learn my life lessons along with me. I’ll share my thoughts with you and use examples from my past year to make sure you get the best of both worlds.

Spoil yourself.  Spend the money. Take time off. Go somewhere new. You’re worth it! In 2014 I took my third annual solo beach vacation. For three days I ate decadent food, walked on the beach, drank wine, got my nails done, and did whatever my heart desired. I truly pampered myself. I also took a five day camping trip (between several shorter camping trips) to the Olympic Peninsula. It was so awe-inspiring and beautiful! In the fall, I went to New York. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you may know the story that goes with this. If you missed that one, read about it! What an amazing trip. I enjoyed staycations and fancy dates with handsome suitors and nights out on the town with good friends. I’m so blessed to work at a company where they reward loyalty with quite a bit of vacation time, and boy did I take advantage of it!

Challenge yourself. Some of my biggest challenges in life have been the result of belly dance. When I left Ohio, I could shake my booty with a little rhythm, and that was the extent of it. I had no formal training at that point, and I never thought that dance would be something I would later take on as an amateur performer. But then I met Yemaya, a professional belly dancer who also happens to be my long lost third cousin. She somehow convinced me that I was going to be a belly dancer one day. My style had never been particularly feminine, and when she said that, all I could picture was a horror show of obnoxiously bright sequins and awkward dance moves to snake charmer music. However, I allowed her to tease me into a few lessons, and from then on, I was in love. Soon I was practicing multiple times a week, taking every available workshop, and started performing in 2007, debuting at the Oregon Country Fair’s Gypsy Caravan Stage.  In the past few years, I have fallen into a “comfortable sweatshirt” type of relationship with belly dance. I still practice and even learn some new skills sometimes, but rarely do I try anything that really scares me. For the last two months, however, I have embraced the sword! Sword dancing scares me—big time. I took a four week course more out of dedication to my teacher than actual interest, but I should have known that it wouldn’t stop there. Now I’m signed up to perform my sword dance in front of a crowd, with the assumption that I won’t allow it to fall off my head and pierce someone’s foot. Terrifying? Yes! Essential to grow as a dancer and as a person? Absolutely!

Hope for Andrew edit

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Embrace Your Sexuality. Yep, we’re talking about it. In the past, I hadn’t been confident in my sensuality or sexuality. This was caused in part by my weight issues as a child, my perceived lack of femininity as a young adult, and being from just above the Bible Belt in the Midwest, where traditional values and conservative ideas still have a hold on the population. I envisioned that the right type of sexuality centered on a husband or at least a serious relationship. I thought that sex under other circumstances was not wrong per se, but not ideal, and not really necessary. I believed that expressing your sexuality freely maybe made you just a little slutty, if not an actual slut. In acknowledging my feelings of judgment, I also recognized that I had mistakenly thought that my lack of sexual expression was a character flaw; now I understood that judging others was a defense mechanism, and my personal level of sexual expression is not a flaw. It is wholly mine, and I must engage it in a way that is true to my own nature and not anyone else’s. Make sure to explore this side of you, even if you’re not in a romantic relationship, because it is so important to know that side of yourself before you share it with anyone else.

Life is short! Do what makes you smile and giggle, and spend time with people who inspire you. There have been so many times that I have stayed home to get a proper night’s sleep, only to find out the next day what unbelievably cool exploits I had missed the night before. If I had a nickel for all the times I’ve heard, “You can sleep when you’re dead!” I would be a millionaire…okay, maybe I’d have a few bucks. But you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, I value my health and I truly feel my best when I’ve had a good night’s rest, but sometimes it is totally worth it to take a chance and stick it out for a little while longer. Nights that I stayed out with the Hash House Harriers for one more conversation, or salsa danced for one more song almost always ended up with new friends, new plans, or a memory I would never forget. I knew that I would feel tired in the morning, but I also knew that I was put on earth to experience those blissful moments…and I have had so many of these moments this past year.

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Make every movement with love and authenticity. This is a big one for me. I am a people pleaser. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing joy to your loved ones, making yourself happy and loving who you are will bring you the most joy in this world. Don’t worry about impressing others or fitting normative expectations of your culture. Live with authenticity in your heart and express gratitude for it daily. Be Love, every day.

2014 was a fantastic and enlightening year for me. When I think about the possibility that life can be cut off so abruptly, the way Jerome’s was, it makes me sad, but it also makes me grateful that I do the things I do, know the people I know, and experience miracles every day. Nothing is ever perfect, but my perfectly tangled existence is absolutely an abstract design of immaculate beauty.

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WHY: Part II—Precious Fragments

26 Dec

This “Why” series is a way to bring me closer to you—by revealing my inner-most thoughts and being 100% vulnerable with you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking my words and embracing them with love and kindness.

The first time I was completely vulnerable with a man, it changed my being. Bringing it back now, I feel exactly the same as I did in that moment. My breath is ragged and my chest is warm. I have a sense of exhilaration that it happened, but also sadness that my moment with him has passed. The most important part of it, though, was that I felt liberated.

Whenever I go back and read the poems I wrote for my college thesis, I am so impressed at how much raw emotion I allowed to spill onto the pages. I wasn’t scared of making someone uncomfortable with my words or that they would judge me. I didn’t fear my teacher would read the lines and immediately fail me because I wasn’t Sylvia Plath at 22. I just wrote anything and everything that was inside of me, and it was good stuff!

I hear a song, 25 years later, and it reminds me of the times I danced in the summer darkness among the lightning bugs, and how I felt in the very heart of it. I remember the feeling of being absolutely free, absolutely me, without a care in the world. Granted, I was 10 years old at the time and wasn’t concerned with having a 401k or what I would be when I grew up, but so often, even as children, we burden ourselves with too many thoughts. You know that blonde chick that everyone makes fun of because she’s empty-headed? Sometimes, I envy her. Sometimes it is essential to let go of our thoughts and just feel.

One thing my belly dance teacher always reminds me to do is to let my emotion out while I’m dancing. Claudia says that a dancer can have the most technically precise moves and the most beautiful costume, but without tarab, there can be no complete dance. Tarab has no exact English definition, but the closest I can come up with is “a shared experience of musical ecstasy.” Or “When reaching the epic moment of a feeling derived from hearing music, whether it instrumental or voice or both together expressing either joy, pain sorrow or any other intense emotion.” (Written by Mohamed Shahin and Hanna St. John) This, to me, is exactly what it means to show one’s inner truth.

I have a friend who comments that his son lives fully in the moment, every minute of every day. His face lights up when he talks about how happy it makes him to see his child in this way. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived in the moment like that?

These days it’s much rarer for me to let go. Is it because I’m older, set in my ways? It still happens occasionally if I’m dancing, if I am feeling particularly brave, or if I’m in a foreign place and just don’t care what anyone thinks. The most interesting times are when I’m wearing a costume or a wig; I’ve noticed it gives me a mental get-out-of-jail-free card. I wish I could let down this wall I have built with more regularity—I have the potential to free myself at any time. Why don’t I? Why don’t any of us?

I read a piece by Wayne Dyer before Christmas about making peace with relatives during the holidays. It struck me that, regardless of the focus on relatives, it turned out to be entirely fitting for this post.

The conflict seems too often to be a choice between being authentic, which means no peace with certain relatives, or having peace at the price of being inauthentic. Being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your relatives. First, though, you may have to assess your relationship with the closest relative of all—you.

Can I be extra real with you guys for a minute? Extra-extra real? It seems like, in the past, when I’ve taken those chances and displayed my authentically weird-silly-petrified-confident-lost-found-Quakerific-dancing fool-giggly-imperfect self, I haven’t gotten the results that I’ve wanted. And it crushed me. So I sit, and I reflect on Dr. Dyer’s words, and I wonder, can I be brave again? Is it worth it? I think we all know that the answer is, unequivocally, YES. In our minds we know it, in our hearts we hold it. The answer will always be yes.

In the light of the coming New Year, let’s carry on the tradition of challenging ourselves to be better, to improve something about our lives and to make peace with our authentic selves—whoever that turns out to be. You could make a list, like I did last year, or just hold the intention in your heart. Either way, I dare you to love and express the true YOU in 2015! If you’d like, please share one thing you intend on doing in the New Year that will create a more genuine you.

Vulnerability

WHY: Part I

13 Nov

Today I went back and read a post that I wrote some time ago. It was a bittersweet commentary on the trials of my weight loss journey, but also a heartwarming reminder of how far I’ve come. The reason I went back to it today was because of the fitness group I joined on Facebook. We were asked to write about our “why.” Why are we choosing to lose weight right now? What is our motivation to achieve our goals? Originally I shared the following piece only with the fitness group, but I decided I needed to get this to a bigger audience. Following is my “why.”

I’ve struggled with my weight and abandonment issues from my parent’s divorce my whole life, and because of that I find it hard to follow through with the things I really want to accomplish. I either give up and desert the project, or, more often, sabotage myself. This includes goals involving my passion for writing, my fervent need to be beautiful (AKA, skinny), and finding (and marrying) the love of my life.

For the longest time, even though my self-esteem wasn’t the greatest, I didn’t stress a whole lot about being fat because I never expected I could change it. When I did finally lose weight, it started a whole domino effect of anxiety because I had all this new pressure. Where before it never mattered because I had zero expectations, suddenly the world was at my fingertips and I was completely unprepared. It was really easy to blame others for my shortcomings, and for a while I thought, things haven’t changed a bit. Why not just stay how I am? My life is fantastic, even if I’m not living the dream of marrying Dr. Handsome and writing that bestseller. I’ve got great friends, a steady job…I have good dates here and there. I can hack it a little longer, getting by how I am. But that’s not how I want to live my life. I want to set meaningful goals and attain them, NOW (starting with being focused on them better). I want to be able to tell myself every day that I am worthy of a beautiful and healthy relationship. I want to break the chains of inadequacy that I’ve carried from a very young age—and that I’ve continued to carry all on my own, using them as an excuse to be average.

Doing all that takes a concerted effort, and a community. I’m so used to doing things for myself, being single for such a long time, but letting people in, and, God-forbid, letting others see my vulnerabilities, is so important. It’s not something I do lightly. It takes faith in my community, and love for myself.

I know that I have to let go of my past in order to be the future amazing Becky that’s always been inside. Grasping onto my communities’ outstretched hands is a great start. Spending time with people from all corners of my world is a very important part of that. I’ve got my running community, my writing peers, my dance family, my work buddies, fellow gamers and hikers and coffee-lovers, Blazer fans, my blood family. But it’s more than just spending time, and it’s more than just hoping a few of you will read my blog and empathize. Getting vulnerable with yourself and your “people” is not a one-stop deal. Clearly, you readers have seen that for the last two years that I’ve been writing this blog. Of course I hope to inspire others, but letting out my fears and emotions in this medium is a very important part of my process, and I thank you for being my audience and safety net. You, love, are a very big part of my success in this life, because we all need love to thrive.

All you need is love

All you need is love

This is the first piece in a miniseries called WHY. I look forward to sharing parts II and III very soon.

Who are you? Speak your truth!

21 May

“Oh I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you; you have not known what you are. You have slumbered upon yourself all your life. Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time…Whoever you are, claim your own at any hazard! These shows of the east and the west are tame compared to you. These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are immense and interminable as they are.”Walt Whitman

I am a Contradiction

Are we all a contradiction? Is this something that rings true with you as you read this? There are so many times that I fear it makes me less perfect, less like everyone else, but I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Is it, then, what makes us so fascinating and indelibly human?

The truth should set us free. Right?

My Truths

I love the limelight—when I choose to turn on my “light,” my friends call me The Belle of the Ball. Generally I will take any chance to stand out and call attention to myself, sometimes taking it to a narcissistic level. Strangely, though, in my natural state, I am still, quiet, and blend in. Perhaps this is the reason I need that “switch” to turn me into someone else. I’m not sure if I feel that my value goes one way or the other when I am Belle and when I am Becky, but I have always noticed these two distinct sides of me.

There are times I feel lonely, and that is when I start putting myself down for being single. Damn you, society, for putting those thoughts into my mind. Damn you, subconscious, for letting them fester. Single is not a negative thing; it does not mean unlovable. In fact, single means not willing to settle for less than I deserve. So when I am feeling lonely, I should be celebrating my independence and cautious nature in choosing who I will spend my life with. Besides, I am constantly surrounded by loved ones. I know I’m ready for my big romantic love, but perhaps he is not quite ripe yet. Who knows? I can’t let it stop me from living an amazing life.

I am very physically active and live a healthy life, yet I still see myself as the “big girl.” I was uncomfortably overweight for a large part of my life, and it became who I was—how I identified myself. It’s been 10 years since my drastic weight loss, and still I have fears and uncertainty about how people view the physical part of me.

“You think of yourself
as a citizen of the universe.
You think you belong
to this world of dust and matter.
Out of this dust
you have created a personal image,
and have forgotten
about the essence of your true origin.” – Rumi

I dance on stage in front of dozens, exposing my vulnerability and body, and yet I cower in fear at the thought of approaching a handsome, confident man.

I am full of energy and life, yet I am exhausted much of the time. I often do not listen to my body when it says STOP.

And this whole recent breakup…the religion thing…I love the fact that it made me question the truth about my own faith. I’ve been delving more deeply into my Quaker roots, and I find it fascinating to study other people and their experiences, whether or not their beliefs match my own. My faith, though not always front and center in my life, has always been essential to me. I’ve found it helpful to read several books in the past few weeks, including a great one written by a Quaker kid I knew growing up, called The Unlikely Disciple. I followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically. Talk about contradictions.It highlights the ridiculousness of trying to live literally by all of the Bible’s rules. At the same time, it weeds out some very simple but eternally applicable lessons that the Bible deems important. Another useful text is one that my mother sent me at the beginning of my breakup, called A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense. It has reconnected me with some of the testimonies of Quakerism that sometimes get lost in the fray of everyday life.

My truth is that I don’t fit into a pre-made box. My mold isn’t shaped like a puzzle piece; it’s more like a dodecahedron. So where does that leave me? How do I find my people? My calling? What drives me? Do I have to categorize myself in order to find someone that I mesh well with? In some ways, my versatility makes me very easy to get along with. In other ways it alienates me to a point where I don’t know how to define myself. Let’s be honest, sometimes questioning can lead to an amazing breakthrough, but there is always that fear that it will lead to nothing. I suppose all I can do, all any of us can do, is to stay open to the journey and experience it with gratitude and a true lust for life.

Whoever you are, claim your own at any hazard!

What is your truth?

Possibilities

7 Apr

Oh, Pandora.

As I listen to Counting Crows’ Long December on my Pandora app, a Christian Mingle ad pops up, and I have to laugh at the irony.

I haven’t posted about anything really personal in a while. I know you’re missing my normal onslaught of online dating stories and woes. Until recently, I was starting to think that part of my life had finally set sail.

I met someone I connected with. We had so much in common—our love of the Blazers, of running, of being childishly, ecstatically nervous around each other. Terrified butterflies were ninja-fighting in my tummy every time I walked out the door to meet him.

We were so alike but so different.

Then, the talk. We had differences, yes. Major ones? Oh yes. Stomach-curdling, I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it differences. The distinction between compatible or not came down to one word: religion.

That was it. None of our chemistry, our smiles, our kisses, our electricity, mattered. We couldn’t find a middle ground. How is it possible that two people with such a connection could find the one giant elephant-in-the-room issue that so easily broke us apart? What was the purpose of our meeting?

When the ice shattered, it didn’t leave anything intact, but all the pieces were still there. We could still feel each other but we couldn’t see each other. We could hold hands but we knew the mountains would move between us soon enough, cutting the rope that made us an “us.” It was done.

But we must move on. That’s how life works. Failure is a teacher. It may be a bitch, it may take things away, but it shows us what could be.

And sure, it can be a bitch, but it can also be a fairy godmother; it gifts us possibilities. And now I know that real love IS possible.

Love

Love Yourself First

14 in 2014 – Let’s Do This!

31 Dec

The time has come to set some new goals. It’s quickly closing in on the New Year’s Eve countdown, so why not? Before starting my list, I have to note that my numerology number for next year represents Beginnings. How great is that? That may seem like a given, considering that’s pretty much everyone’s theme for starting every new year, but I really think that 2014 will be a year of astounding changes and new opportunities for me, in particular. I have noticed that many doors have closed this year, and people or things that were clinging to me have been noticeably slipping away—some sneaking quietly in the night, and some going out with a bang. All of them needed to go, whether I was truly ready to say goodbye or not. As they say, out with the old, in with the new! So, without further ado, here is the list!

1) Have my last first kiss

There are no guarantees in love or life, but I’d certainly love to have my last first kiss in 2014.

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2) Trust my gut feeling – and always be proud of the decisions I make

Sometimes I let fear rule my decision-making. Sound familiar? If so, congratulations! You’re human. Let’s work on it together.

3) Take a vacation to somewhere completely new

My initial thoughts are New York City and Miami. Who’s coming with me?

4) Finish the novel I started

I wrote 33,000 words of this novel, tentatively titled “From Rich Soil,” in 2011, and now that I have figured out the ending, I’ve got to get the words out of my head and onto paper (or into Microsoft Word, as the case will surely be).

5) Run a new race

I’m all signed up for Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon and ready to set a new PR! Actually I’ll be running at least two new races next year. I’m running the Chocolate Run next year as well as participating in their ambassador program. This race and the ambassador concept is a first for me, and I’m very excited to see where it will take me, in my running and in my writing. Bonus – I will be running in a new racing city: Seattle!

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6) Salsa dance in a new city

Speaking of Seattle, I’m thinking it’s time to take on their salsa scene!

7) Go wine tasting at a new winery

Taking fantastic winery suggestions and applications to be my partner in crime!

8) Take a new class

Nutrition? Samba? Archeology? What exciting things will I learn this year? I am a student of the world, and I love to learn continually.

9) Use my new tent as much as possible + rent a cabin or yurt on the coast

I bought a new Kelty and I’m eager to use it!

10) Go to Crater Lake!

One of the most amazing natural sights, and I’ve never seen it in person. How can this be that I’ve lived in Oregon for ten years and not seen this monolith??

Crater Lake 2

11) Be gentle

This encompasses everything and everyone. I vow to be gentler with people who are different than me, and I vow to be gentle to myself when I am feeling critical of my own actions.

12) Be healthy

I’m not going to state a pound amount of weight loss I am shooting for (although I have one in mind), but I will tell you that I want to be more healthy and only eat when I am hungry.

13) Triple the love in my life

No, this does not necessarily mean get married and have a baby this year (Please don’t tell my parents…they will use this against me). I just want to surround myself in radiant, hugging, giggly, sometimes blush-inducing LOVE! That goes for familial, platonic, and romantic love. Help me share the glow!

14) Be grateful every day

It’s a pretty simple idea. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how great I have it. Join me in remembering every day and treasuring the feeling.

12 things

6 Dec

There was this update going around Facebook a few weeks ago, asking people to list [#] of things about yourself. I went back and forth about doing it. I thought it was the type of thing that would bore me after reading so many, but it turns out, the exact opposite was the case. It made me see those people as very brave, unleashing their most vulnerable sides. It was fascinating finding out people’s random pieces of trivia. My friend from high school, Julie, gave me the number twelve, which I thought was a ridiculously large list, but I figured that once I got the ball rolling, it wouldn’t be too difficult to get the rest of them on paper. The opposite turned out to be the case. It took me almost a week to make this list. Have you read any of these on Facebook? Did you write a list yourself?

Here goes mine…

1) There was a boy that I had a giant crush on in middle school. He taunted me relentlessly about my big butt and always sang “Baby Got Back” to me. To this day I can’t tell if he was being cruel or secretly had a crush on me.

2) I am terrified of having a daughter because I think I will screw her up.

3) My sister and I were born in the same minute, but we couldn’t be more different in our life choices. Get us around each other, though, and it’s creepy how alike our mannerisms and voices are.

4) I can’t believe I’m a runner. I’ve been doing it for three years and it still amazes me that I can do such astounding physical feats with this body. The same goes for belly dancing. I can tell you right now not one person who knew me in high school would ever have predicted I’d become a belly dancer.

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Hope for Andrew edit

5) I believe in karma and the law of attraction. What goes around certainly comes around, and I feel very strongly that the power of manifestation is real.

6) I love both of my parents very much, but I have completely different relationships with each of them. There are things I can tell my dad but not my mom, and vice versa.

7) Spiders are both my biggest fear and my biggest asset. How does that work? The physical manifestation of the spider can make my heart race. My mother tried to wean me off this fear when I was a child, saying, “You see a spider? Just invite it to tea! You’ll make friends with him.” In a word, dear mother:  NO. In two words:  HELL NO. Then a strange thing happened. A few years ago I discovered Native American animal totems. My cousin and I spent a weekend immersed in this cultural tradition and that weekend I learned about the nine animals that protect my spirit. One of them was the spider. I cringed when I spoke it aloud. Then I looked at the spider’s meaning. The spider is the story teller. Of course. This is the totem that encourages me in my writing, only one of the most important things in my life. So there you have it.

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8) I was born a Quaker (Also known as the Religious Society of Friends) and became an adult member of my meeting (church) when I was 21. Curious? Just ask!

9) I love watching basketball. It is the only sport I truly understand.

So...maybe it's also the eye candy.

So…maybe it’s also the eye candy.

10) I can be a self-saboteur (but I’m working very hard at releasing this habit).

11) I love experiencing the four seasons. I don’t know if I could ever live anywhere that was sunny all the time.

12) I write a Christmas newsletter every year marking the highlights of the past 12 months. It is something I grew up with, and I love carrying on that tradition.

Whole, Complete, and Lacking in Nothing

9 Jul

I found this article written by Dr. Christiane Northrup today on my Facebook scroll. She is always an inspiration to read, but this post in particular struck a very sensitive chord with me. It began with her describing a workshop with Jill Rogers that started like this:

Jill started the workshop with a ritual in which she looked deep into each of our eyes and said, “You are whole, complete, and lacking in nothing.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt the truth of this statement from both a soul perspective and as a deep sadness because I still hadn’t found the love (spelled MAN) I was looking for in my life.

I pride myself in being incredibly independent, but there are times when I break down in sadness because I feel I am lacking something in my life. These times may feel like despair at the moment, but actually I think they are a choice made by my body to acknowledge my emotions, which is a very good thing. So often I lose myself in my activities and other people, and while they are truly a blessing for my body and soul, I recognize that there is a part of me that uses them to avoid facing the emotions inside of me that are not so happy-go-lucky.

In the moment that my feelings overwhelm me, I have to remind myself that this is healthy. This is a part of my journey. Life is built on all experiences, not just the good ones. It is a comfort to me that others are on a similar journey, and their words help me work through the sadness by facing it and not running away, as well as by giving me inspiration for new paths. 

I will never stop learning. I will never stop building on this life. I will never be completely satisfied with the whole. This is what makes me human, it’s what pushes me to be great, what pushes me to keep looking for more. I love sharing my journey with my tribe, because connection with you is one of the most important parts of my foundation.

I urge you to read the post in its entirety, whether you are happily in love with a significant other or looking giddily forward to what the universe has in store for you next.

Looking for love under a full moon

29 Nov

I wrote a short piece on being single this week. It started out as an “assignment” that had come out of a first date from Match.com last week. The purpose was to write about a funny/embarrassing date I had experienced. That would have been an easy one. I’ve had lots of interesting dates that have turned into something more along the lines of full-on mortification. But Monday evening, I was taking a walk in my beautiful neighborhood, and when I looked up, the almost-full moon spoke to me so loudly that I couldn’t ignore it. So I decided on a commentary about being single instead. Following is what I wrote:

On Being Solo. You’re an incredible single, solitary being. You’re cyclical and pulled by the tides, like the phases of the moon. Some people can only see you as an enigma, hiding in the shadow of the sun during those wan days, mysterious but needy; those people haven’t been single for a long time, and, let’s face it, they don’t ever want to see that side of the moon ever again. Those people, with their selective amnesia, look at you pityingly, as if you’ve been branded with the word SINGLE and truly believe that showing up to a party alone is a terrible burden or a fate worse than death. But you know that you’re holding all the cards…there’s a vast inventory of love epiphanies hiding inside the penumbra that can’t wait to powerfully emerge. There is light playing in the shadows; those little crevices hold much more than anyone could possibly imagine. The brilliant, beaming face of the man on the moon is just a front for a haven of love that hasn’t found a specific path yet, but who needs one? Give it freely and don’t be sparing with it. Moonbeams aren’t selective; their light blesses every face in all of creation. Know that you are a stunning body of light with a purpose of giving love. Being a single, solitary entity doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?

There is peace in this chaotic journey of giving your love—it’s all in the way you perceive it.

Hanging On vs. Moving On

2 Aug

Sometimes the Universe is a subtle beast…I search and search for a sign to answer a prayer, and nothing comes. Last week was not one of those weeks. No, last week, the Universe decided to gut-punch me with messages. I’m having mixed feelings about this tough-love approach, but I can appreciate the art in the delivery. I am also very grateful for it.

As many of you know, I’ve been trying Match.com for the last few months. I’ve been going over in my head the reasons I joined:

  • I am looking for a partner.
  • I have trouble meeting the “right type” of men in bars/ at events.
  • Passive Portland Men. Enough said.
  • I am sick of my family harassing me.
  • I am starting to wonder what the deal is. Am I abnormal? (Ye gads! 32 and single?!) (Please be aware that I am invoking a sarcastic tone here.)
  • I’m pretty much Last Woman Standing when it comes to my friends and their marriage status.
  • And, oh yeah, I AM LOOKING FOR LOVE!!

Then, this thought creeps into my brain: what if I am truly not ready? Friends, advice columnists, and relatives are always telling me that unless I am fully ready in mind, body, and spirit, God/the Universe/Grace/the faeries/Mary Magdalene will not send me my true love. Agreed! However, I am in the prime of my life mentally and physically, so what’s the hold up?

This week, my subconscious gave me a few jolts that essentially told me to start really paying attention in this search for love.

Episode #1: The Dream

This dream was about the first man I spent any amount of romantic time with after I moved to Portland. It was an extremely passionate and somewhat unhealthy relationship, but it taught me a lot, and I don’t regret it. When I woke up from this dream, I was so shaken by it that I immediately wrote it down so I could reflect later. Following is what I wrote:

I went back to the old apartments where our affair took place. I was with HR’s sister, HJ. HR appeared to me one night. I saw his jacket in an empty apartment. HJ left, and I went up the stairs alone. He was there, waiting for me in the dark. He lay down on top of my body, the way he used to, using his whole weight. We talked about us, about the good times. His jacket crackled against my skin. I could smell him, feel him. He knew the tears that were on my face; he was in them. When he reached to brush them away, he became them. We shared our sacred moment and then it was time to go. It felt like we had laid there for a lifetime, memories casting into the dark like meteors. I knew I had to walk away, but it was truly painful. I somehow floated out of the pitch darkness and down to an equally dark parking lot. HJ found me in a confused crumpled state. She helped me as she could, the only way she could. She knew it was time to go as well. We drove away from there, but not before his wife appeared and saw her husband’s jacket inside my car. She said I had to let it go. She didn’t see his ghost inside it, wanting to stay with me. She didn’t smell his cologne and know our thousands of memories, but she was right, and she took it anyway. I left, feeling empty. But then all I saw was light!

So, it’s time to let go and move on. I haven’t thought about my relationship with HR in years, though I still have occasional contact with both he and his sister. I think my subconscious was trying to give me a big enough message that I would understand…like I said, it’s not about subtlety.

Episode #2:  First Contact

I was browsing on Match.com Tuesday, and happened to notice a man in my matches who I’d recently been involved with. Though we’re no longer involved romantically, we see each other at events and occasionally share a pleasant conversation with an easy rapport. I always suspected he wasn’t “the one,” but seeing his profile right in front of me prompted a typical womanly reaction—instant and superfluous jealousy, mixed with a bit of sadness. Show me a woman who hasn’t had a reaction like this from seeing an ex-lust object who has moved on, and I’ll show you a half-pig, half man with butterfly wings!

However. If you’ve been on Match before, you’d know that when you’re a paying member, you can see everyone who has looked at your profile. So I was stuck. I had to say something, or else look like a complete stalker. After about a half hour of typing, deleting, and typing more, I came up with the perfect, witty note to send. It was something along the lines of “The universe has some sense of humor to match us together, eh? Good luck in your search!” The last sentence was to show him that I wasn’t looking to “Match” up with him, that I merely wanted to let him know I wasn’t expecting an answer or a relationship. He did indeed write me back, a sincere note, even. I was shocked, and pleased. I was relieved that he didn’t come back with a sarcastic answer, or worse yet, no answer, but it was another clear signal from the Universe that it was time to look for the right one in greener pastures. (Although I’m sure his pasture is just the right color of green for some other lovely lady.)

Episode #3:  The Blog Post

I am a reader of a friend’s blog entitled Doc Blog, by Dr. Jeff. The author is a psychologist who lives in Portland and I thoroughly enjoy his posts. His posts range from topics about loving our whole self, forgiveness, tips for choosing a psychologist, “paying it forward” to create self-happiness, and other related themes. I hadn’t checked out his blog in a while. It’s on my Google reader, and sometimes I get lazy and don’t open it for several weeks. Last week I was destined to read it. I’m telling you, the Universe knows what’s up and how to give it to me straight. I clicked on a blog post entitled A one-minute method to help move past old hurts.” He has posted several of these one-minute themed posts, and they always seem to come at just the right time.

I’ll try to sum up the blog post eloquentlyif possible. You can also click on any of the links I have attached to this post, which will take you to the full website. (You should—he’s a great writer!) What Dr. Jeff is trying to explain here is that people tend to hang on to old wounds (like being hurt by a romantic partner or clinging to mother issues) and fear (like being afraid to open up to real love) because they are stalling. It’s an excuse not to move forward. Whether it’s because it’s their comfort zone (Pain can be a constant companion, and just because it hurts doesn’t make it any less familiar.) or because they are truly not finished dealing with the issue, Dr. Jeff suggests that we look at our lives, and take that needed step forward. Believe me, I am working on it! This post was an excellent reminder of the good work I am doing and what still needs to be done. It also told me that great things are coming my way, if I let them.

He left me with these words:

Take your minute. Use it to move yourself forward. Then tell yourself you are beautiful, strong, and capable. Because you are.