12 things

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.

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.


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

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

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

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.

A Brave New Girl

The new wave of Match.com is in-person events, an idea that should have been introduced ages ago. I know, I know, it’s ONLINE dating, but the thing is, online dating can be incredibly awkward! Don’t get me wrong—I believe in the power of online dating. Case in point:  I found my last boyfriend on Match. I can name 4 couples off the top of my head that are now engaged or married to their Matches…but let’s be honest:  Men are very visual creatures. If you happen to post a picture at a bad angle or you’re having lousy hair the weekend you went to Vegas and snapped all those pictures that you put on your profile, you can’t talk your way out of his opinion of you with biting wit and funny jokes. It’s click, moving on to the next lady. Ouch.

Enter an event where you are sure to be surrounded by eligible bachelors, but you’re not forced to talk to every single one of them, like in speed dating. Last night I was bold enough to attend one of these first Match.com “Stir” events. I had no idea what to expect, and I was terrified of the unknown, so I did what any normal single woman would do:  I brought along my trusty wing women.

The three of us walked into the Radio Room in NE Portland and spotted the hostess standing behind a sign that read “Networking Event Check-in.” (Seriously!? Let’s just call it what it is, folks. We are all here because we are single and looking!) So, we checked in. Then she leaned over and told us that the event was open to the entire bar, however it was also open to the public!?!? WHAT??? Not only were we entering an event that marked us as lonely, pitiful singletons, but we were also facing certain social death-by-mortification by bravely approaching a handsome fellow to talk to him, only to find out he had a fiancée, or worse, was gay!!

So, following the single women’s code, we stayed tightly in our gaggle, and actually added more women to it, ending up with six beautiful (pitiful, lonely) ladies at one table, looking at each other and snickering. Very soon, my wing women locked eyes with me and we decided that we would never meet a man this way. We got up and headed to the bar…and ran into yet another girlfriend! This was not going the way we expected. There was no event host; there were no games, and no ice breakers. Basically this was a regular happy hour at a bar in Anytown, USA. How exactly were we supposed to find love in this setup? Weren’t we obviously on Match.com to help us find dates because we felt uncomfortable hitting on people at the bar? I found myself questioning my decision to click YES on that RSVP.

In addition to my nerves about the event in general, I had been sweating bullets for another reason. At the Radio Room that evening, there were short women, tall women, exotic ones, plain Janes, and there was me. I’m the cute, petite, curly-haired girl with the big personality and a hundred hobbies. I can ask a man to salsa, I can belly dance in front of a live audience, and I am a smart, talented writer. Do I feel that way when it comes to dating? No way. The moment I walked in, I was panicked. I have this bad habit of comparing myself to women all the time. It is intensely exhausting, but I find myself doing it every day. I can’t believe how much energy I could have been refunded, had there been that option, on time wasted thinking about other women that I don’t even know! As I looked around, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to stand out in the crowd. Hell, most of the crowd couldn’t see me, even with the 3-inch wedges I was standing in (I’m 5’1″). I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. The men looked more terrified than the women, so I had to quickly confront my fears and be the guru of my own destiny.

In a moment of rare courage, I took the reins and grabbed one of my girlfriends. I said, “We are going to that table right there. We are going to sit down and ask those guys why they haven’t talked to any girls yet!” We crossed our fingers, hoping that they were part of the event and weren’t already on a date with each other! (Hey, this is Portland…my Gaydar has failed many times over the years here.)

We sat down, I spewed out my ice-breaker (hopefully with a winning smile on my face)…and the next hour and 20 minutes flew by like wildfire! The man I talked to was tall, a ginger (strawberry blonde), strong enough to pick me up without hurting himself, and he was a fantastic conversationalist. I was so surprised when my other wing woman came over and told me it was 9:00! We thanked the men for their hospitality, and started gathering our purses and coats. My friend looked thrilled when Paul asked for her number. Unfortunately my guy was solely a wing man and said he wasn’t looking for anything serious at the moment because he was focused on school. I was disappointed, but thanked him for his honesty and wished him luck with his Master’s Degree.

It’s true, I was saddened that my bold move hadn’t gotten me any bounty, but in the car on the way home, I heard how excited my girlfriend was about meeting Paul, and the feeling wasn’t so sour anymore. Plus, I had a great conversation with a man who was easy on the eyes, had some laughs, and a yummy cocktail. My night wasn’t a loss at all!

Perhaps this is the Universe’s way of telling me to keep the faith. There are good men out there, and I just need to hold out for the right one. This way, I know that when I meet a good one, I’ll have a bevy of stories to keep him entertained for at least one coffee date!

Number 1
Girlfriend, you’re number ONE!

Free Will, Sisters!

free will

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Numerous websites on the Internet allege that Greek philosopher Plato made this statement, which I regard as highly unlikely. But in any case, the thought itself has some merit. And in accordance with your current astrological omens, I will make it your motto for the week. This is an excellent time to learn more about and become closer to the people you care for, and nothing would help you accomplish that better than getting together for intensive interludes of fooling around and messing around and horsing around.

This is my Free Will Horoscope for this week. I’m a Virgo, in case you haven’t caught that in a previous post. There are two reasons I love this VIRGO horoscope today.

Number 1: Virgos find it incredibly hard to simply “play.” First we analyze what all the possible outcomes would be if we did play, then we figure out the intensity of play we should be participating in based on multiple very important factors, and by the time we’re done with the calculations, we’re too tired to actually play. Much of the time we end up doing a default comfort-zone activity instead. But! This week, I, Virgo Extraordinaire Becky, have done exactly what my horoscope has ruled that I should do! I’m having a great time straying far far away from my comfort zone. I’m not branding my source of fun, I’m not analyzing it, I’m just doing it. It’s exhiliarating and awesome! (Why don’t I do this more often??) 

Number 2: (Notice as I’m writing about not taking life so seriously, I’m still making lists about it—Virgos RULE!) It’s International Women’s Day! I’m torn about this day, though, because before today, I was under the impression that every day was women’s day. I mean, I know the system is patriarchal, but really? We get ONE day? Huh. Foregoing the negativity, I have decided I will embrace International Women’s Day and will make my mark by doing something that is considered out of the box for me! 

One last tidbit before I send you off to do some fooling around of your own. I love that when I’m doing something right, the Universe is never shy in giving me a sign/patting me on the back, saying, Good job, Becky! That’s the spirit! There are times when I think there is no higher being or consciousness, but days like this I can’t deny that there is an “entity” that brings everything into my world precisely when I need it. Thank you, Free Will Astrology! Thank you, International Women’s Day! Thank you, Universe! Most of all, thank you, BECKY! Now go and play, friends.

Real Women

Part I—The Definition

I’ve seen a lot of commentary about what makes a woman a real woman. We view the Dove commercials and the female empowerment websites and we are lifted up by our sisters; the blogosphere is saturated with posts about strong, independent women which tell us how we can cultivate ourselves to the highest level of womanhood. But let’s break it down. When it comes down to the simplest meaning, do breasts and a vagina make someone a real woman? Do real women have curves? How about the ability to bear children? What about transsexuals?

Is the way a woman behaves listed in your definition? Should we be a lady on the street and a freak in the sheets? Follow The Rules or throw the rules out the window? Is a woman who can financially support herself more of a woman than one who depends on a man’s salary to survive? I ask all these questions because they come up time after time, and the answers are ever-changing in a fascinating way.

My own view has changed over the years. I was raised mostly by my mother, who was the frugality queen of the universe. I bitched and moaned about the lack of cool clothes and having giant plastic-framed glasses instead of contacts (“They cost less, and they look fine!”). Until I grew up and realized that my mom raised twins on a poverty-level salary with very little help from my father, I was bitter and annoyed. I thought Why can’t she step it up and be like everyone else’s moms? Those women have jobs and buy their daughters Guess Jeans. Why can’t I have Guess Jeans? I thought she would be happier if she would get a “normal” job so that we could have the things that we wanted and she wouldn’t have to worry day-to-day if she was going to work or not. (Note: My mother was a substitute teacher for most of my childhood. At times she had full-time work, but most of the schools wouldn’t hire her because they had to pay her much more than fresh-out-of-college teachers. She chose to stay in teaching because that was what she loved, and so she could take us traveling in the summers to see our extended family and F(f)riends {A.K.A. Quakers}, which was a very important part of my upbringing, and an education in itself.) She chose to stay true to her values, even when the going got really tough.

What do I think the definition of a real woman is now? Sisters, look in the mirror. It’s you. It’s the business owner. It’s the single mother. It’s even the heroin junkie who stole my mail last week. She might not be in my top 10 right now, but she is still a woman who deserves love like everyone else. I can’t comprehend how anyone on this earth is less of a woman than someone else. I may not be a size 6 or have my dream job (yet). I make mistakes every single day. What comes to my mind, though, if I think of someone who isn’t a real woman, is Barbie. Yes, the doll. If you are a living, breathing female, whether or not you have exactly the right parts or not, if you think and feel as a woman, then you are one. I would hope that you would be a woman with the highest amount of pride imaginable, but we all have those days when we’re not feeling so great. Take them as life lessons and manifest your next amazing experience.

Part II, a love note—“Love, Dove, Glove”—Mr. Big, SATC

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it occurs to me that something many women occasionally do, whether they realize it or not, is consider themselves as missing something if they don’t have a partner in their lives. I read so much girl-power literature about how we as women shouldn’t think about our lives without a partner as a negative thing. We are fabulous just as we are! I wholeheartedly agree. I myself am fucking fabulous,* as everyone should know by now. But…it is in our DNA, specifically as women, to feel the urge to procreate and to have a life partner. So why should we feel ashamed for wanting it? I agree that it shouldn’t take over our lives and emotions 100% of the time, but what is so wrong with desiring something that we were literally made to have? It’s not a weakness to assess this aspect of our lives, it’s just human nature. It is a part of my essence as a woman.

*I just needed a little extra oomph!

Women, however you express yourself and live your life, do it with the knowledge that you are a unique and beautiful feminine spirit. Take ownership of all your womanly emotions and instincts, and don’t feel degraded by them. Be the best person you can be.

With my own personal unique and beautiful feminine energy, I leave you with my absolute favorite poem about being a woman.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

Music Soul Food

lil wayne
This man likes booty!

Quick—give me one song that has the ability to raise you to your highest high, your most miserable low, or the ultimate romantic mood. Music is so influential. I really admire artists who have the ability to impact me so strongly that a song can stay with me for years after I initially hear it. I have created a list of the songs that speak to me most powerfully, and I want to share them with you today. Hopefully at least one of them will spark something in your heart.

{High Energy, Dance Your Heart Out Music} Back That Ass Up—Juvenile, Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh: This song has a couple things going for it. First of all, growing up I had what anyone would consider a big butt, and unfortunately, it was before JLo made it cool. Do you remember that song by Sir Mix-A-Lot? You know the one. If I had a nickel for how many times I had to hear, “Oh. My. God. Look at Becky’s butt! It is SO BIG!” I’d have at least a dollar fifty. My precious backside was openly condemned by immature middle and high school kids until I went to college, where there were lots of people with open minds and an appreciation for big booties. My freshman year, “Back That Ass Up” came out. It completely blew my mind. That song made me feel like having a curvaceous body was a good thing for the first time in my life. Say what you will about the seemingly trivial nature of the song, but it made me feel like great. Whenever I heard the first notes, a barrage of people would crush onto the dance floor for a chance to show off their own oversized booties, and mine was in the running for the number one big booty. For a girl-not-quite-a-woman who had had conflicting feelings about her body all of her life, this was a breath of fresh air.

It also had a lot of influence concerning my lifelong crush on Lil Wayne, but I really don’t think we should delve into that too deeply.

{Über Romantic} Anytime—Brian McKnight: This song isn’t tied to any one person or memory, but the goosebumps it gives me every time I hear it are tangible. The effect is potent, and very swoon-able. And let’s face it, Brian McKnight is yummy.

{Can’t Understand the Words but Still Moves Me} Seni Sevdi Geönlüm Yine SevecekJohn Bilezikjian: I’ve had the pleasure hearing this artist in person, which makes it so much more powerful. I can’t understand what he is singing about, but it doesn’t matter; I feel it. That is the kind of effect every artist wants to be able to have on their audience.

{Laugh Out Loud} Knock Em Out—Lily Allen: This is one of those songs that tell a story of regular people in situations most people can relate to. This one highlights the awkward position of being hit on by a total loser. But that’s never happened to you, right?

{Girl Power} S&M—Rihanna: That’s right—we ladies can be just as naughty as you boys. I signed up for a Groupon at Vega Dance Lab last year, and as luck would have it, this was the first song I danced to there. Wow. Talk about girl power. Since I started bellydancing, I have realized the power of my feminine wiles, but Rihanna puts a whole new spin on it. In bellydancing I am coy. With S&M it’s all out there, whether you like it or not.

{Escapism} Amame o Dejame—Kevin Ceballo: It was a steamy night in Puerto Rico, where I was on vacation with my parents, who didn’t want me mingling with the natives. Wait, wait! That’s not right. It was 2004 in Portland, Oregon. The air was balmy with the sweat of dancers. The lights were flashing across the crowded wooden dance floor. The music was tropical and the beats were constant and foreign. A handsome man approached me with a smile and his hand extended. I froze. We had just met moments ago. His name was Ricardo. To call him a tall drink of water would be an understatement. He was 6’4” and towered over me. He was inviting me to salsa dance with him. I was terrified of the intimacy of it, and a little confused at how exactly we were supposed to dance together—the physics didn’t seem right (I’m 5’1”)—but he didn’t look at all concerned. Soon I was twirling all over the dance floor. It seemed he was carrying me more than I was actually dancing, but I was doing it! I was salsa dancing! I love everything about this dance:  the music, the movement, the romance. All of it takes me away from any worries or cares.

Isn’t it amazing how music can manipulate your feelings…make you forget…create a dream-world…administer pangs of emotion you didn’t know you were having? It’s the magic of it. I want to thank all of the artists out there who dare to put their gift out into the universe. It is much appreciated. Love, a fellow artist.

Passion on My Mind, Pt. II—The Dating Diva

From reader comment by JM—“The wonderful truth (that you already know) is this: you ARE in a relationship…with yourself. It’s the one relationship that most people forget to nurture, especially once they get involved with someone else. The more you adore who you are and allow yourself to just be, the more you tell the Universe exactly how you wish to be treated – not just by an intimate partner, but everyone you draw into your life. As you continue to soothe those feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment when the opinions and behaviors of others rear their ugly head, you will strengthen your ability to remember that your unique life and self are perfect just as they are, right here and now (which is all there is anyway). The more you focus on that truth, that reality, the more it will show itself to you.”

I’ve been writing about romancing myself, making time for me, understanding the full potential of my fabulousness, and leaving dating to fate. I’ve been feeling really good about it! (Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I bought more heart-shaped stones for my altar and romantic pictures for my Love and Romance Feng Shui bagua* last week.) Ironically, the Universe is performing exactly as it’s supposed to and I’ve fallen prey to its unfettered power! It heard the “romance” call, anyway. Take what you will from the message of The Secret**, but always know the things you put into the Universe may not be interpreted in the way you intend! As they say, love comes when you least expect it.

I met a real live man while salsa dancing last Saturday! Before you laugh, hear me out. I’ve had troubles meeting men in Portland. Mostly it has been done through online dating, which can be fun, but for a short time. Then it begins to feel tedious and like you’re on the hunt for the perfect job. It just gets old. People (especially straight men) are not very aggressive when it comes to meeting their life partner here in Bridgetown. Ask around, you’ll find I’m not the only one with this opinion.

Anyway, I met a man! He was sweet, handsome, and had a desire to perfect his salsa moves. I was really excited about this, especially when he made the first move to get my phone number. We made arrangements to meet at a Tuesday night salsa event. From there the stress started. He didn’t know his way around Portland, so he asked me to Mapquest him the directions. Why he couldn’t do this himself, I don’t know. Then he started texting me—in Spanish—in really terrible, misspelled Spanish. My Spanish skills are middle-of-the-road at best, and it was starting to give me a headache. First I had to figure out what word he was trying to write: aser = hacer; boi = voy. He spelled everything phonetically. As an English nerd I was excited to figure out his method. I wasn’t so excited about deciphering the word in Spanish and then having to translate each text message. Ugh.

The date went okay. He looked good, smelled good, and was on time. I could tell he was into me, and I was physically attracted to him. Then, the things we didn’t have in common started piling up. Education, lifestyle, hobbies, family values, salsa ability (ok I’m being a snob here)…it seemed the only thing we had in common was our interest in dancing. The con list started to outweigh the pro list pretty quickly. The bottom line? He was a great guy, just not the great guy for me.

The evening ended well. He was very respectful about my personal space, and said goodbye like a gentleman. I wanted to give him some kind of consolation prize, like a second date, but I knew it wouldn’t be useful for either one of us.

When I got home I started analyzing. Maybe I was missing something fantastic about this guy. Maybe in a less crowded atmosphere I would find myself entranced by his charm. I went on like this for a while until I finally fell asleep. In the morning, regardless of all this back-and-forth, the pro-and-con list, I realized something. I wasn’t getting that sickening feeling I usually get; the one where I realize that a man is interested in me, and right away I panic and descend like a vulture, knowing that with one misstep he’ll ditch me for someone prettier and skinnier. It’s the inexorable itch of desperation that makes me think this may be the last chance at a boyfriend. Ever. But I wasn’t experiencing any of that sweaty anxiety.

It dawned on me (again) that I can be picky and wait for someone who is worth it. There are bellydance classes to attend, mountains to hike, and blogs to write! I can woo myself in the meantime and have confidence that I will never settle for someone less than worthy.

*For more information on Feng Shui, read the fantastic book Move your stuff, change your life: how to use feng shui to get love, money, respect, and happiness—by Karen Rauch Carter.

**The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne.

Passion on My Mind

Why is it so hard to say “I’m single?” It’s not a failing on my part nor a bad habit I am not strong enough to quit. So why is it that every time someone asks me if I’m married (yet) I get all red and shame faced? Would I rather be on the wrong side of a failed marriage? Would a better alternative be being trapped in a situation that thwarts happiness for either or both parties? No. So, why the taboo? Is it that the grass is always greener on the other side? I hear the laments of married people all the time. “I wish I were single again…” Is it that our parents and their generation are visibly (and audibly) appalled that we have chosen alternatives like a career or travel over settling down by the age of 25 and welcoming the role as a mother? Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with having a family at a young age…It just is a custom I am not inclined to follow. I am a victim of the where-are-my-grandchildren guilt trip, and I know there are many more of you out there. Are we feeling that residual remorse over our parents’ collective disappointment? It makes me shudder to think of the hold they still have on us, even as we have blossomed into adult women with our own wills.

Ironically, this is probably the best time ever to be a single woman. We have grasped our freedom and run with it. Women don’t need husbands to purchase land, open a bank account, influence politics, or be a voice for them. There are so many wonderful role models who make us feel powerful—not pathetic—for choosing independence. Some of my personal inspirations include The Single Woman (http://thesinglewoman.net), a sassy opinionated lady whose tweets and columns make me smile every day, Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the amazing book Simple Abundance (http://www.simpleabundance.com), and all of the bellydancers in my life who have inspired me to get to know my sensual femininity.

But…if you asked me if I felt independent when all of my friends and their significant others went away for a weekend and I wasn’t brave enough to go solo—I would say I felt nothing but crestfallen. It’s not fun when everyone has a “plus one” but you. I realize that I am “enough,” but it sure is fun to have double dates, couples weekends, etc.

I’m single. In some ways it’s great. In some ways, I will admit, it’s truly lonely. But what it does do for certain is give me time to pursue my other passions besides romance. I involve myself in bellydance classes and events, hiking the beautiful Pacific Northwest, reading fantastic books, people-watching weird Portlanders, constantly meeting new people and, of course, pursuing my passion of writing. I bet I could do all these things if I was in a relationship, but it would take a lot more juggling. So single ladies (and men!), remember your other passions when pondering your lack of romance in the bedroom. There will always be passion in your life, you just have to realize what passion truly means.