Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two houses

I have wanted to live in Boulder all of my adult life and now I do. Not only that but I live in my dream house. Our house was built as if expressly for Gary and I.
Because I tend to focus on what's missing, I have looked hard to find what is missing and haven't yet. It sure messes with that strategy. I still go to Denver on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday to work and participate in my other activities here. I have even put, " This is my Denver counseling office on my phone message." My Denver house , although I still love and appreciate it doesn't feel like home anymore. My new house in Boulder feels like paradise. I love being up in the hills and the view is so soothing to me. The truth is that even though I feel incredibly blessed to live there, it doesn't feel like home either. It is hard for me to talk about this on my blog because I judge myself, "How can I be whining about not being at home in either of my two houses? Give me a break. Some people would give anything to have one house. What a greedy little brat you are." This is another opportunity to notice how strong my judging mind is and how unkind I can be to myself and to practice conscious kindness with myself.I can soothe myself by saying to myself, "I am here for you with what you are feeling." and go down into my body to feel the emptiness that is underneath the story. Feeling the emptiness lets me know I am moving really fast and have been disconnected from myself. I am even typing this blog really fast because I have been immersed in the sense of not having enough time since I began to live in two houses. It seems so challenging to do all I need to do in both places and to remember what I need to have when I am going from one house to another. My daughter grew up with two houses from the time her father and I split up when she was six and a half. She would leave a piece of clothing she wanted at her other house and all of her feelings of anger and grief would come tumbling out. It gives me a lot more empathy for what she went through. I also know that feeling like a place being home takes time. Maybe it takes a whole year of going through all of the events that occur in a year. Maybe feeling at home developes gradually a little at a time until one day there is a realization of a deeper sense of comfort and safety. It is an adjustment to live with Gary. I am used to only really relaxing when I am by myself. I have been noticing my rules about what I can and can't do when I am around him and bringing awareness to them. Some I am ready to challenge and some I notice and table action on them for later. I have started calling my friends and family around him and I haven't started going to yoga classes when we are together. At least I am no longer picking a fight with him to get alone time. That is progress. I am so used to us seeing each other so infrequently that I need to relax into knowing there is enough time for me to do what I want to do. That is the pervasive theme in my life right now, that I run around acting as if there isn't enough time to relax and do what I want to do. The first step is to notice the urgency and breathe into it. I paused from writing this and took three deep breaths. In the middle I looked at my clock and started to figure out if I could make juice, call Gary at his Mom's and get to my Wings group on time. This slowing down process could takes some serious work. It's not that I wasn't urgent before. It seems like the urgency division of my ego identity has run amuck. Compassion is needed. Conscious kindness would be to notice the urgency and show up for myself lovingly rather than judging myself for it. The urgency police will not help with the sense of urgency. Forgiveness and acceptance will help. I notice that accepting being overwhelmed makes life less overwhelming. I think part of this adjustment is to continue to set clear priorities about what is important to me to do and what is less important. Also having patience with myself as I adjust to my new life will be helpful. I want to remember to say woo hoo to myself each time I notice the urgency and each time I allow myself to breathe deeply, too. Writing this blog is very important and I am very grateful to have this forum to share my process and see it reflected back to me. I appreciate your reading this. I wish you all a New Year filled with conscious kindness, taking care of yourself and showing up for yourself to experience whatever is in your path.
With love,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Costa Rica

The weather was warm and clear in Montezuma, Costa Rica, where we were renting a lovely vacation home about a fifteen minute walk from town. We had planned to stay there a week and go to Dominical but the weather was cold and rainy there so we opted to spend our entire trip in one place. It was delicious to have almost two weeks to settle in, get comfortable and make connections with warm-hearted people. Every day we walked down the steep dirt road breathing in dust as cars, motorcycles and ATVs, passed by, often at breakneck speeds. We decided not to rent a car because it would be more of an adventure to use public transportation and to walk. Every evening after we walked on the beach and swam at beautiful waterfalls and hung out by the river we would stick out our thumbs and hitch-hike home. Neither of us had hitched for twenty years. Gary was a major hitchhiker in his younger days- hitching from Colorado to California four times. We met interesting people, got a chance to ride in the back of several trucks and had the opportunity to practice Spanish.
We met a zesty Turkish woman who opened up a vegan restaurant called Organico's. She had come to Montezuma four years before for a week long yoga retreat, fell in love with the place, and decided to come back and open up a restaurant. She never had been in the restaurant business before. The week we got there she had changed the format of her restaurant and cut back on her hours of operation and her menu selections. She began to offer her space for people to teach classes on a donation basis. That way she could support her passion for yoga and meditation and ease off on her tendencies toward work-aholism. I was in bliss. There was a different yoga or meditation class every day. I think when people offer classes on a donation basis they tend to experiment more and are often more creative. I got to lead laughter yoga,too. Gary and I had a beginning merenge lesson. It is fun to dance together, even though I have a hard time following. Learning partner dancing supports my intention to let go of control and learn to surrender. We'd both like to do more of it. Two of our friends in Boulder are Salsa devotees and we plan to get some coaching from them.
Gary had been struggling with whether to rebuild his rock cutting business. He lost all of his inventory and machinery in the fire. In Montezuma where the river meets the ocean he found beautiful rocks and reignited his rock cutting passion by bringing a few home. Every day he would sit in the river and peruse the beautiful brightly colored rocks. It was wonderful to see him so engaged and happy. I got into looking at rocks too. It felt like a treasure hunt. I don't think I ever really understood his devotion for rocks and now I do. It helped me to understand who he is because he has spent the last thirty five years cutting rocks. I know what it would be like for me not to be able to do my work because I love it so much. Now I can see Gary's love for his work much more clearly and feel so much more compassion for him for losing his whole business in the fire. Now he is excited about rebuilding his shop in our new garage and cutting rocks again. Woo hoo!
Another high point of the trip was meeting the loving and spiritually committed Canadian couple who were the caretakers of the home we were staying in. We had stimulating talks and shared many common interests and values. It is a blessing to find another couple that Gary and I both resonate with.We hope to continue nurturing our friendship by e-mail. They turned us on to the weekly organic food market. I was craving healthy greens as the only lettuce the stores had was iceberg. The veggies were fresh and plentiful and I stocked up. We had a kitchen so the second week the healthy delicious meals we were cooking got even better. The best part of the trip was having the opportunity to spend so much loving positive time with Gary. We are getting more skilled at resolving conflict and using it to get closer. I feel safer and safer being myself with him. I am grateful to have a partner I can grow with. My next step is to recommitt to being creatively expressive when we are together. I want to sing and dance and laugh and sculpt more. That is my intention for the new year.
I want to thank you for reading my blog this year. It is so important to me to share my life with you in this way. I want to wish you a holiday season of self-awareness and the willingness to be consciously kind to yourself. May we all give ourselves the gifts of acceptance and forgiveness. Thanks for sharing this wondrous adventure called life with me. Feel free to write to me and let me know how my blog is impacting you and how you are doing. Happy Holidays.
With love, Andrea

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Emotional vulnerability

It seems to me that emotional vulnerability creates closeness. When I am feeling distant from Gary and he tells me what he is feeling, something inside me melts. It is probably the armoring around my heart. He doesn't have to tell me what he is feeling about me or our relationship. It can be sharing his feelings in an authentic way about almost anything. He says,"I am scared about getting my teeth worked on in Costa Rica." That gets my attention and it is as if a little tunnel of connection has been created between his heart and mine. I am interested and want to know more. If he says," the weather in Costa Rica will be 70 degrees. " I take it in and nod as it passes over my attention. It would probably behoove me to listen more whole-earedly to information such as this because then I would know what the weather in Costa Rica is like and I wouldn't have had to e-mail Gary about it just now.
When I work with couples I invite them to look at sharing their feelings in a vulnerable way as an opportunity to get closer. It's hard to believe that sharing" I am feeling flat and protected."
would draw two people together. Feeling flat and protected and acting on the feeling by withdrawing and not communicating forfeits the opportunity to feel accepted for a feeling we might not be proud of. Sharing those shadow feelings which we think noone in their right mind would want to stick around with and having our partner stick around is so nourishing. Most of us were loved conditionally by our parents and learned to love ourselves conditionally also. When we share a feeling that we ourselves find unacceptable and are accepted by our partners it can heal multiple layers of the pain body. It can trigger deep grief as we experience and release all the times we were shamed for being who were really were in the past. When I shared with Gary my feelings of aversion about fat and how scared I am about being fat again he heard me. It was very different from when I told him I needed him to lose twenty pounds for me to be in relationship with him. Luckily, we both have become more skillful about taking responsibility for our own feelings and sharing them by owning them. In the height of emotion it is such a challenge to be emotionally vulnerable. When Gary wants to have sex way more than I do instead of blaming him and telling him he's like a hungry, panting dog, I take a deep breath and share that I feel inadequte and scared that there is something wrong with me. Even if I share that the whole sexual issue makes me want to run out the door in frustration, it is way more connecting than literally running out the door or figuratively leaving by dissociating or pretending to be asleep. If I share honestly about how I am feeling about having sex even if it isn't positive, I tend to feel more open hearted. Then if Gary shares how he is feeling with me, I might be much more open to being physically intimate. Emotional vulnerability can be foreplay.
When I feel safe to share my feelings it is easier to be vulnerable and that vulnerability creates emotional intimacy. Often there is a crossroads in a relationship where there is a choice about moving toward creating more safety and therefore being more vulnerable which creates more closeness, or moving away from each other because of feelings of lack of safety. Maybe sharing how unsafe it feels to be vulnerable would even be a vehicle for connection. It is vital to give each other the experience of being heard and validated. It can be so hurtful to have our vulnerability ignored or judged or met with defensiveness. It seems like sharing what each of us needs to feel safe being vulnerable and deeply listening to each other would be a good springboard. I notice when another person shares authentically from the heart and I deeply listen the energy of our connectedness comes more into my awareness. I can feel that transpersonal field that we are all a part of that joins us together as one. Sometimes that is called compassion. It seems to me that having the courage to be emotionallly vulnerable expands our ability to experience oneness. What do you think?
I will be writing again the week of December 20th when I return from my trip. Love to all of you, Andrea

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Courage: raw and ripe

I just finished an article by Sally Klempton about courage. It was called Brave Heart. She writes the wisdom column for yoga journal and I eagerly await learning from her wisdom every month. She talked about the difference between raw courage and ripe courage. Raw courage comes from desire and zeal. It is an emotional act often involving danger that can be thought out or impulsive. Ripe courage, on the other hand, is a risk to trust in something greater than ourselves. It is a conscious act of surrender to what our inner intuition tells us is the right thing to do. Sally speaks about how courage is different for different people. To me most acts of courage are both raw and ripe. They take a leap of faith and a willingness to act in the face of fear. All acts of courage involve a risk. It might be a physical or emotional risk of doing something we wonder if we can do, pushing past our fears and doing it anyway. I sang a gospel song with all the people at my friends' Janet and Miguel's wedding. It was Love is the Healing Power. I taught it to the group and then we sang it in the honor of Janet and Miguel's love. I was scared and pushed through my fear and did it anyway. I had an intuition that it would bring the diverse group together. I shortened the length of the song because the leader of the ceremony was worried that there wouldn't be time for everyone who wanted to share. I pushed past my pattern of shrinking when I feel criticized or rushed and finished the shortened version. It felt like a worthy contribution and was heart-felt and fun. That took courage mostly raw with a little ripe.
My biggest act of courage of late is to push past my long term fear of commitment and buy a house with Gary. When bouts of terror come up I sit with them and allow myself to feel my fear. That makes space for the excitement I feel about my beautiful home in Boulder. My ego has alot to say about how I am doing it wrong. Maybe part of courage is to risk the ego's wrath in doing things that upset our own status quo. My inner guide is smiling and pleased. I am trusting in the divine energy that brought us together and surrendering to that inner knowing.
Gary and I got engaged on Saturday. We also got engaged two years ago. I lasted five days and was so filled with terror I asked to be unengaged. Luckily Gary is a very patient man who courageously trusted that our relationship was right through all of my fears and doubts. This time I am much more relaxed. I have better tools to deal with my fear. I know that a certain intense level of anxiety about my relationship with the man I love is my ego's chief distraction from my being present. I am on to the judgements that kept me suffering in ambivalence for five years. I am ready to face my fears and embrace my fiance. I really like the sound of the word fiance- it's thrilling to me. This has been a long challenging journey through my fears. This is the first time in my life when I actually have both feet in a relationship, not one out the door. Loving Gary as a fallible wonderful human being for all of who he is doesn't mean I always have to like him. I know the capacity to love and accept him as he is comes from my growing sense of self-love and self-acceptance. I have the capacity to accept a partner now. Waves of love wash over me at unexpected moments and I am bathed in gratefulness to share this level of love with another human being. It is a miracle to me, given my difficult relationship history,to be given the chance to trust in a man and to love wholeheartedly at the age of sixty. I have always wanted a spiritual partner, even before I even had the concept of using a relationship to heal the pain body by triggering it and using the healing process to get closer to God. It takes a brave heart to open up to receiving what I have always wanted. Woo Hoo! How about you?
How is your heart brave? What can you recognize in yourself about courage raw and ripe?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Woo Hoo

I have been thinking this week about the bar. Not the one you go to drink in but the one I set and expect myself to live up to but don't ever measure up to. This bar is set just a little higher than I can be or do. The bar is set so feeling satisfied is always just a little out of my reach. I made up the idea of this bar that I use to prove to myself that I am doing it wrong and am never quite good enough. This bar that tells me that I can't relax and enjoy my life. I have to try harder do more and be better. My conditioning helps support this bar. My parents focused on what I didn't yet accomplish or what I could-a should-a would-a done better rather than acknowledging who I was and what I had done. They didn't do it out of meanness. They didn't want me to be conceited or to have a swelled head. They wanted to prepare me for their world. They wanted to teach me to always set my bar just a little higher than I could achieve. Otherwise, I think they were afraid I would sit around and eat bonbons and expect the world to give me what I wanted. I tried to make them happy and set my bar out of my reach. I learned to look outside myself to measure my own worth and never quite measure up. I learned well. The skill-set of not quite enoughness has been finely honed over years of practice. I have learned to parent myself in the way I was parented.
However, somehow I knew there was another way. When it came to parenting my daughter Monnya I used praise and encouragement to support her in motivating herself. She has high expectations of herself and works hard to do what she wants to do and she can give herself credit for a job well-enough done.
Now it is my turn to parent myself in the way I parented and let go of how I was parented myself. I want to be a Mom to myself like I am to Monnya. Andie, my little girl inside deserves the same praise and encouragement.
I started with the thought, "What would I say to Monnya if I wanted to celebrate her? I would say "Woo-hoo!" just like she does. So my new project is to remember to say, Woo hoo to myself and acknowlwdge myself for what I feel good enough about. For instance, I allowed myself not to exersize aerobically when we were moving. I didn't die. Woo hoo! I volunteered to do a demo session and make myself vulnerable at a workshop. Woo hoo. I relaxed and made love with Gary even though I thought I didn't have time and enjoyed myself. Woo hoo! I say courageously vulnerable things on this blog. Woo hoo. When my bar reappears in its old form I can say woo hoo to myself for noticing how it feels in my body to bludgeon myself with that bar. I can decorate it with flowers and swing from it. I can take my hand over my head and imagine setting my judgements off to the side and say woo hoo to myself for doing that. I can say woo hoo for allowing myself to feel the relief in my body as my stomach relaxes. I can say woo hoo to myself for remembering to say woo hoo. What would you say to yourself to celebrate yourself? Would you be willing to start using that phrase to acknowledge yourself for who you are and what you do? Woo hoo! Woo hoo to you just for being you. Thank you for reading my blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


When I teach yoga I always begin my class with saying, Welcome my name is still Andrea." One of my students said I should change my name to Andrea Still.
It made me laugh because being still is often so challenging for me. It has been helpful since then to remember Andrea Still when I am moving really fast and have jumped out of my circle. Now is one of those times. I have been home nursing cold symptoms and not going out very much. It is a blessing to work at home always and especially when I am low energy and need to rest.
I did go teach yoga yesterday and was concerned about whether I would
have the energy. Fifteen people showed up and at the end it was as if I had inhaled a divine energy elixer. Chanting om with 16 mixed voices filling the room is enough to lift any spirit. I think we should rent ourselves out as a remedy for seasonal affective disorder. Today I stayed home all day and all evening and cancelled everything that wasn't happening here. It was delicious to have time to do whatever I wanted in the space left open from three cancelled plans.
I do too much and am often running from activity to activity. They are often growful and sometimes fun activities. This week has given me a chance to recommitt to slowing down before I have to get sick to do it.
One of the things I have been doing with my time is looking at engagement rings on e-bay. I think I may have a shopping addiction. When I did a search for antique white gold rings and 346 came up I blithely sailed through them all. I couldn't sleep and came down to check out some more at 5:00. The great thing, and the problem with e-bay is that they are open anytime. Gary and I are buying a house in Boulder together and we are closing on Monday. I am keeping my house as an office and will be down here to work three days a week. We are talking about getting engaged. I am so grateful to the fire for burning up all of my fears and doubts. Although I am deeply sad for Gary about his losses for me the fire was such a blessing. Now we are going into the fire of a new life together.
Am I scared? Terrified would be a better word. I have lived alone for twenty years. My daughter Monnya is the only person I have successfully lived with.
If there is a continuum that runs from terror to excitement I doing continuum dancing. I love the new house. Gary and I have looked at many many houses. He probably looked at over a hundred. Although I knew that our house, the one we both loved, had to be out there somewhere, it was hard to hold the faith sometimes. I can see now that none of the others felt right because they weren't right. And I was so scared to be in a committed relationship I was blinded by panic whenever moving in together seemed imminent. So the fire happened and I got clear that life is short and it was time to take my one foot which had been out the door and firmly plant it in the middle of my relationship with my kind, deep, annoying partner, Gary. Then the house which had been hiding its face since the evacuation from the fire stopped its showings, came to Gary's attention. I am daunted and excited about living in the foothills outside of Boulder. I used to think I was a mountain woman, but lately I have had serious doubts.
I always said I could live anywhere as long as I had one close woman friend, and a nearby health food grocery store and a yoga studio. I have all of those things and a three day a week access to my current lovely life. This transitional way of moving makes it feel doable and a safe risk. Please think of me and send me the energy of courage and honesty. I will need both. Is there a leap of faith that you have been wanting to make? What would it be like to imagine yourself leaping? What would it be like to take the first small step into the leap?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Looking for love

I have returned from visiting my Mom and my sister in New Mexico. It was a very challenging and growthful trip. My mother didn't recognize me. I knew the day would come. I was prepared for it in my mind. The last time I was there it took several hours for her to recognize me. The first day I was waiting for her to remember who I was. She never did. I was very sad that first evening. I had a good cry in my car driving back to my sister's home. I called Gary for support and he listened and validated my feelings of grief. I am blessed to have a partner who can be with my pain and not try to fix me.
The second day I began to accept that my mother didn't know who I was. I would say to her, " Do you know who I am?" She would say she didn't. Then I'd say, "I am your daughter." She'd say "Really?" As I relaxed into being with her as she is, it became easier to just enjoy her company. I took her to the library and read kids books to her and to Good Will to try on clothes. My mother rarely gets to leave the place she lives in so it was fun to take her on outings. By the second day I was feeling tenderness and love for her as she is. I gave her several deeksha blessings. The third day after our outings we took a nap together which was so sweet.
I realized I have spent my whole life trying to feel loved by her in the way I want to be loved.
In the process of letting go of that happening I have had to learn to love myself from the inside. Her lack of recognition was one more layer of my letting go process. Now she couldn't even give me recognition and it was no more personal than when she couldn't accept me as I am. Her lack of acceptance wasn't because she didn't want to accept me but rather that she didn't have the skillset to open to two different truths at the same time. My solution was to accept her as she was as best I could and not to be emotionally vulnerable with her. I have learned to find other people who I feel safe to share my feelings with who love and support me as I am. With my friends I have learned how to use conflict to get closer together. When we have two different truths we can use accepting that both are true to create deeper intimacy.
I am grateful to my mom for teaching me the importance of caring about people. I was brought up to help others with time and money. It feels good to do service. She taught me that from an early age.
Earned secure attachment is accepting that the external validation we craved as children about being lovable as we are will never come from our parents. It is learning to soothe ourselves and grieve the loss. That creates space to open to loving ourselves as we are by accepting each issue we find unacceptable little by little and celebrating along the way. Developing internal validation means learning to know what our own truth is about what feels right to us and basing our actions on that truth. Accepting our mistakes and forgiving ourselves for them is also part of earned secure attachment. It means we don't have to be perfect to deserve our own love. I have looked for love in all the wrong places for most of my life. It is so satisfying to see that pattern changing. I am now making better choices and looking for love within myself , with my trusted friends and with my partner. Can you notice changes in that pattern in yourself?

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I am preparing to leave to go visit my mother and my sister and her family. It is always a challenge to visit my Mom. Her Alzheimer's disease has progressed and I never know if she will know who I am. The last time I went to visit it took her a few hours and then she knew me. I know whatever happens will be sad and also sweet. I have a friend who has alzheimers who is conscious of his disease process. He will discuss what he is noticing and how he feels about it. It is such a relief to be able to be honest and offer support. My Mom never accepted what was happening to her. We couldn't talk about it because she would say it wasn't happening. I understand that it was too painful for her to accept. I want to accept her and use this visit to be with her whereever she is. I'm not saying I expect it to be easy or comfortable. My grieving process of letting go of my Mom continues. I wonder if by the time she dies that grieving will be easier because I have been letting go for so long?
Last night in my wings group we were reading about perfectionism. A child who isn't being loved and cared for by her parents or caregivers decides she is doing something wrong and she is bad and keeps trying harder to be good and perfect. It is her fantasy that if she only tries hard enough that her parents will give her the love she craves. Because that love isn't forthcoming the child works harder to be perfect. It is easier to accept blame than to accept that the love will never show up. That is too scary for a child. Then these behaviors are carried into adulthood. We think we can earn love and approval by what we do and how we do it. That approval, even if we get it isn't satisfying because of the unmet childhood needs behind it. Also if the acceptance and approval of others for our accomplishments was sufficient for us to feel lovable we would think our accomplishments do determin our worth. Instead it is important to be compassionate with ourselves for our driven perfectionism and to be kind and reassuring that it will never get us the love we craved. Instead we can work with the pain of not being loved for who we were and experience and release it. We can soothe the little child inside and tell her that she is lovable without even trying. A friend of mine today told me about the affirmation," I am good enough without even trying. " It is a powerful antidote for perfectionism to embrace the concept of good enough." It helps to heal the little child inside who feels like he is bad and undeserving of being loved for being who he is. Once I heard that the definition of a perfectionist is someone to whom nothing is ever perfect. What a relief to let ourselves know that good enough is good enough. Even though it is uncomfortable to release trying after we've done a reasonable job at something, it helps to heal the part of us that always has the bar a little higher than we can perform. In that way we never feel satisfied and content and peaceful. Feeling satisfied and content and peaceful gradually grows as we become aware of our unreasonable standards and soothe ourselves into giving ourselves more slack.
I know that no matter how hard I try I can never get my Mom to show up and love me the way I always wanted her to. In some ways her being incapacitated
makes it easier to let go. I know I have to do my healing work to accept who I am as good enough regardless of what I do. No amount of perfectionistic doing will get me there. In some ways that is a relief. Do you have perfectionistic tendencies? Would it be helpful to have a talk with the little child inside you about this? Could you reassure her that she is lovable just as she is and that you love her for being her?
This is good enough and now I am going to sleep. Thanks for reading my blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010

resting into my life

I am resting tonight. I was supposed to go to Boulder after I was done working. I finished at 6 and was really tired. It felt so difficult to pack up and go after a challenging week. I talked to Gary and told him I needed at least an hour before I could leave. He suggested I stay home tonight and rest. I was relieved and grateful. It would have been hard for me to suggest it myself. I have been getting better at knowing what I want and directly asking for it. Also it is easier to let go of the outcome than it used to be. In this case I wasn't sure what I wanted. I knew I craved time to rest and that I wanted to see Gary.We spend so little time together, considering that we see each other mostly on the weekends. When we are together we mostly spend all the time we have together. I am hoping that when we are able to spend more time together, we will achieve a better balance between alone time and together time. It would be nice to have the luxury of being able to be in the same house each doing our own thing. Gary said he was tired too becaue he woke up really early and moved furniture today. It would work for him to have time to rest too. He is busy preparing to move into our new house. We are buying a home together in the foothills of Boulder. If all goes as planned we will close on November 15th. The plan is for me to keep my house and come to Denver three days a week to work. I will also be able to see friends and teach yoga. I want to find a person to share my house with in Denver either to use as office space or to live here. It would be ideal if our schedules were opposite so we could share the house yet not live together.
I am afraid of all of the changes and I welcome them excitedly. I love our new house. It is beautiful and quiet and peaceful. I feel blessed that the fire was a cosmic two by four that allowed me to committ to Gary and to our relationship. I don't want to jinx myself and I haven't had doubts about our relationship to the degree where I believe them and I think I need to bolt for five weeks. It is a joy to move closer to unconditional acceptance of another human being. I think this is the first time I have truely experienced that. I had to let go of taking everything Gary did personally. If he is in a grumpy mood or impatient I don't have to make up a story that he doesn't love me or is terminally grumpy or impatient. This allows me to let his love in more easily. Giving him slack allows me to give myself slack. Accepting him more unconditionally allows me to accept myself more unconditionally. When he does something I don't like I can now more consistently interrupt my former litany that he isn't the kind of person I want to be with and he is a loser and I am a loser for being with him. That led to endless hours of obsessing about how and when to leave the relationship. Out of the whole experience of the fire I have developed a deep tenderness for Gary and can more easily see his insensitivity as his suffering. He is mostly a very sensitive man and repairs when he isn't. He is just moving faster these day rebuilding his life. His energy feels more masculine. He is moving out in the world getting things done. He is a master hunter gatherer as he collects new furniture and household goods for our new home. Our masculine/feminine polarity is expanding and I feel myself becoming more receptive and vulnerable.
I am blessed to be with a man who has both masculine and feminine qualities.
We are both more balanced than when we met. I tended to go one-up and think I was better than him. He would go one down and defend against my criticism and try harder. Now he feels stronger and more self-assured and I criticize less. I am learning that criticizing is not an effective way to get attention. Asking for attention directly is much more effective even though it's more vulnerable. Now I notice I criticize less and he defends less. I don't really know why all this is happening and I am less focused on what is wrong and happier and more satisfied. I know that both of us are more relaxed. I appreciate that
Gary hung in there with me through all my fears and doubts and blame and knew all along that he loved me and that I loved him. His faith in our relationsip allowed me the space to get to mine, eventually.

So tonight I am resting. I am resting into my life. That means allowing myself to enjoy what I have. What's one way you could rest into yours?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earned secure attachment

I am relearning about adult attachment styles. The information has been very empowering and I am passing it along to you. In childhood, children develop secure attachment or insecure attachment. If a child is consistently cared for and her needs are responded to consistently lovingly and with clear limits she developes basic trust and a strong sense of self-esteem and self-love. This is called secure attachment. These people as adults have developed an internal locus of control so they know what feels right from the inside and are likely to act from that intuitive knowing in their daily lives. They tend to be confident yet not arrogant. What is there to be arrogant about when you have nothing to prove to anyone?
When it wasn't clear whether our caregivers would show up for us to meet our needs we learned to reject ourselves and mistrust others. Inconsistant showing up, parents who are at times loving and at times cold and withdrawn leads to insecure attachment in children which impacts our adult relationships. Parents who meet very basic survival needs but not the needs for physical affection and validation set the stage for insecure attachment in their children. Abusive or demeaning parents also create children who don't feel safe in the world. These children who are abused or demeaned in childhood often become adults with an avoidant or dismissive insecure attachment. These people often isolate themselves from others and tend to be walled off and emotionally distant. Trust in relationships is very difficult and they are often people who need to do everything for themselves and have difficulty asking for help.
Children who have their needs met inconsistently or only their basic needs met tend toward anxious insecure attachment. These people easily lose themselves in relationships and often develop an external locus of control. This means they have learned to look outside of themselves for answers. They tend to be anxious and have many fears and doubts and low self-esteem. The third style is fearful-avoidant insecure attachment. These children become adults who want intimacy and are very afraid and cautious about experiencing close relationships. They also tend toward low self-esteem and don't feel that they are worthy of love and attention.
I can see myself in all three styles. My first line of defense is to be walled off and avoidant. My strategy is to abandon the other person before they abandon me. Once I begin to feel somewhat safe that the other person is sticking around, I can be needy and expect my partner to meet my needs even without communicating them. It's easy for me to be stoically dependant on myself or to look to another for my answers rather than to rely on my intuition.
With the combination of a sometimes very loving and sometimes physically and emotionally abusive mother and a withdrawn and walled off father I developed a mixture of insecure attachment coping styles. Where do you see yourself? Securely or insecurely attached and what is your main insecure attachment style if that applies to you?
Here's the good news. Modern neurobiologists have created the concept of earned secure attachment. That means there is hope for those of us who have done and are doing a great deal of work on ourselves. Earned secure attachment means rerouting the neural pathways that lead us to abandon ourselves and creating basic trust in ourselves, others and the world. This is learned by soothing ourselves when we would normally react with fight flight or flee and creating the habit of engaging the higher thinking brain or neocortex. Breathing deeply is a good way to get there. Practicing pausing before reacting and giving ourselves opportunities to make healthier choices creates habitual healthy response patterns. Also there is a chance to create relationships as an adult with people who are trustworthy and willing to work on themselves with us. This contributes greatly to earned secure attachment. I love the concept of earned secure attachment. My parents did not have the resourses within themselves or in the world to earn secure attachment. My father died walled off with a body that deteriorated from being so shut down. My mother has alzheimer's disease and was in denial about it all along.
I feel grateful that I have had the opportunity to heal and grow beyond their legacy. When I think of earned secure attachment it feels heroic. I can become my own hero and have a healthy relationship with myself, others and the world.
When I think of earned secure attachment I can see my difficult childhood as a vehicle to learn my basic goodness. It feels good that I am in the process of reparenting myself in the way I deserved to be parented. I am blessed to have people in my life who are committed as I am to experiencing and releasing the obstacles in the way of being a fully expressed human being. When we are willing to open to whatever comes up and to experience and release our anger, fear and sadness more space is created for vibrancy and joy. Present moment awareness and self-acceptance are part of earned secure attachment. With mindfulness and compassion we move down the road toward being securely attached within ourslves to the sense of God within us. Thanks for reading this blog. I appreciate having a forum to teach and learn.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

fear is impending growth

Gary and I went up to our friends' beautiful mountain home for a sleepover. It was the first time we have been up in the mountains since the fire. I am grateful for the friendship of Eric and Linza. I think it is rare for four people to get along and to be able to be so real and relaxed with each other. The aspen trees on their land had dancing golden leaves and today was a beautiful day. Gary woke up and said, "Can I go home now?" My heart overflowed with tenderness for him. I wish I could bring his home back and yet at the same time I know he has grown into a more confident, wiser, less attached person out of his loss. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose my home. I lost about four things in the fire and he lost thousands. He knows the fire has brought him the gift of relying on his inner strength more and being more willing to ask for and receive help. The fire has taught me to have a more compassionate relationship with my fears and doubts. Life seems so fragile and impermanent and I am less willing to spend it spinning obsessive stories about my inadequacies. It has been easier for me to recognize experience and release my fear. Combining mindfulness and compassion is much kinder and more effective than judge and flagellate. Judge and flagellate would be to notice my fear of being in a committed relationship with Gary, judge myself for having my fear and either beat myself up for being such a bad person or beat myself up for being with the wrong person. Mindfulness combined with compassion would be to notice I am afraid and go under the story and be with the sensation in my body. It would be to treat myself lovingly and with curiousity and to recognize that fear is a call for attention. It would be to say to myself, "I am here for you with your fear." I would also remember to be in my circle and to bring in my spiritual support, whatever form I experienced that as in the moment. Fear is impending growth.
Bringing my attention to the felt-sensation of my fear allows me to trust that I will show up for myself even when it is uncomfortable. The resolution of interpersonal conflict can deepen intimacy. The resolution of intra-personal conflict can also creater deeper intimacy. Each time I allow myself to experience and release a fear rather than judging and making up unkind stories, I strengthen the muscle of loving myself unconditionally. In this way I can shift the neural pathways of self-flagellation toward kindness. Self-acceptance means more and more of all of who I am is included in what I am able to allow myself to experience. Being with what is with kindness toward ourselves helps to integrate the pain of that lack of acceptance in childhood. Reparenting ourselves with acceptance integrates childhood wounds that come from abuse or neglect or inconsistency from our caregivers. By saying to ourselves, "I am here for you with whatever" and then breathing and showing up for ourselves, we can be the parent we deserved to have. We can be the parent our parents deserved to have.
We can stop the legacy of judge and flagellate and open to the experience of mindfulness and compassion. Noticing the pattern of judge and flagellate and bringing compassion to ourselves may be the first step. What are you judging yourself about in this moment? Could you see it as a call for your own attention?
Take a moment to slow down and breathe. You are so worth it!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Tonight I am feeling sad and tired. I don't want to write and writing is always so healing for me. I went to a workshop today by Peter Levine called An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Peter's new book shares the same title. Peter Levine is an icon in the field of psychotherapy. He is a pioneer in the field and is best known for his work in helping people release trauma from the body. In fact forty years ago when he started his work the idea that the mind and body were connected was quite new. He brought somatic psychology to mainstream psychology with his first book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.
He started the workshop by reading the introduction to his book in which he shares about being hit by a car as a pedestrian in 2005. He was visibly moved by reading his account of the horrific accident and said it was the first time he had read the story in public. Seeing him stand on the podium shaken and witnessing him ask for a minute to center himself was quite inspiring. I was awed by his courage and his willingness to be vulnerable. What a role model for expressing emotions. That story and his telling of it made me realize once again that real strength isn't about being stoic and not showing feelings, it is the willingness to be vulnerable. Peter's accident gave him the opportunity to experience the unlocking of trauma from his body first hand. He shared that a woman pediatrician came upon the scene and asked if she could help. He asked her to hold his hand so he could shake and cry and begin to release the trauma from his body. He said he could never have done it alone. Our connection with others helps us to have the strength to be vulnerable. It seems so important to me to get that the people who love me don't only love me when I am joyous and perky. Being emotionally real and asking for help shows great strength and courage. The people I feel closest to are the people who are willing to be themselves with me warts and all. It is sharing those warts, and being accepted for the things we find unacceptable, that creates safety and intimacy in relationships. When I am most in need of support is when I waqnt to reach out the least. I have been working with my long term pattern of isolating myself from my friends when I need help. It is OK to share resolved trauma but ongoing trauma has often felt way too vulnerable. This year I have pushed myself to share my childhood sexual abuse in this blog and with friends and family. Being in a group has really helped too.
Sharing about Gary's house burning down and asking for help has been a real stretch for me and further helped me to grow beyond my pattern. Gary has also allowed himself to receive physical and emotional support. He has always been a rugged individualist," I can do it myself" guy. This reaching out and being vulnerable has made him a stronger person.
This week we were gifted with a couple's therapy session. In the therapist's skillful hands we were able to be more openhearted with each other. I realized I needed to ask for reassurance from Gary that even in the midst of all of this he still loves me. I was thinking that because I wasn't the one who lost my house, it wasn't OK for me to have needs. I was trying to show up for him and set aside my insecurity. When I am not being direct about what I want or need I can get critical and judgemental. That was not at all helpful. When I was able to ask for what I wanted and get reassurance from him I experienced compassion for him flowing over me like warm water. I no longer felt excluded from all of the strong connections he is having with others who lost their homes. Gary realied that even though I can't really understand what he is going through because it didn't happen to me, I want to understand and support him the best I can. We walked out of the session feeling a deeper connection with each other and with more appreciation for our different gifts. I admire Gary's resilency in dealing with his loss and also that he is allowing himself to grieve. His willingness to let himself experience his grieving process seems very strong to me.
Peter Levine talked about learning to hold our own feelings and soothe ourselves with love. This allows trauma to release from our bodies and to experience greater aliveness.
His vision is that if children are held in love for all of what they are feeling and given clear limits, they will grow into adults who are better able to prosper and grow in the midst of whatever comes their way.
I am feeling sad tonight and I am going to go hold myself in my sadness. Is there something you are feeling that you'd like to offer to hold yourself in? Go ahead, it's a strong thing be emotionally vulnerable and to show up for yourself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meditation revisited

I need to meditate. I can tell because I am much more irritable and reactive than usual. Meditation clears out the cobwebs in my brain, the ones that lead me to obsess over and over about some imagined slight. I thought I'd write this blog before I go upstairs into my meditation room and sit. I want to look at the benefits of meditation based on how I feel when I don't do it. Right now I have to go to the bathroom. I know I do and yet I keep writing. Regular meditation practice makes it easier for me to slow down and remember to take care of myself. I am more likely to put down what I am doing and go to the bathroom or get a drink of water because meditation lessens the anxiety that I call "the sense of urgency." The sense of urgency has only one mantra, repeated incessantly- "There is not enough time." Meditation practice helps me to remember that I have the sense of urgency and that I can step back take a breath and not be the sense of urgency. When my mind has the workout of the muscle of bringing myself back to the present that meditation offers, it is easier to observe the sense of urgency moving me forward at a breakneck speed avoiding all encounters with the present moment. By focusing on my breath right now I am able to imagine a crane with it's hook bringing me back to right here and right now where my main focus goes down into my body. What calls to my attention is my full bladder screaming," How long are you going to make me sit here like this before you listen to me?" I am listening. I will be right back.
Ah, it's amazing how much easier it is to focus with an unscreaming bladder.
Meditation is the practice of sitting quietly and using my breath to return to my body. Regular practice makes me more aware when I am living my life in my head, that I actually have a body and it is worthy of my attention. On my bike ride today about two thirds of the way down my favorite big hill, I realized I was on my bike going down my favorite big hill lost in thought. The last two days I was at the bottom before I realized where I was so this is progress.
Regular meditation practice gives me the opportunity to remember who I am and what I am doing here. I am not here to rush through my life so I can get it over with and die. I am here to learn and grow and open to whatever the moment brings. When I am sitting regularly I remember to savor the moment and to experience whatever is going on with me. There is enough time. There is always enough time.
" I am convinced that there are times in everybody's experience when there is so much to be done, that the only way to do it is to sit down and do nothing."
Fanny Fern
Wise words from Fanny. It is challenging for me to do my meditation practice with Gary living here. I like to snuggle with him first thing in the morning. Then I launch into my day with a few minutes of meditation and yoga to send me on my way. That might work for some people. I, on the other hand have a very busy mind and an overactive inner critic. When they are allowed to run amuck and not honed in by thirty minutes or so of regular practice, it isn't pretty. I need a new plan. Maybe to get up earlier, maybe to carve out time later in the day and not blow off my practice because I didn't do it in the morning. Most of all I want to be gentle with myself right now. This is a challenging time. Gary just lost his home and moved into mine. If it takes me a while to recreate my regular practice that is OK. In the meantime I am grateful for the blessings of my years of regular meditation practice. The energy of all of that time and energy is calling me back home.
Now I am going upstairs to my beautiful lightfilled meditation room to sit. What benefits does meditation bring you?

Monday, September 20, 2010


We went to see the site that used to be Gary's house on Thursday. It was shocking. I have never seen a burnt down house before except on the news. I have especially never seen the burnt down house of someone who I love. It was heartbreaking to see the charred remains of Gary's material possessions. He loved beauty and the house was filled with beautiful artwork. We had hopes that some of his rocks or the machinery he used to create his stones would be salvagable. The big grinding machines and saws were all melted. He could recognize which one was which but I couldn't. A small percentage of his rocks may be OK. He had been collecting what's called rough, or rocks from which to cut his stones for thirty five years. Most of it is gone. It is hard to believe how hot the fire must have been to melt and crack rocks. I am in awe of the power of this fire. Traveling up there we saw hills charred by the fire next to trees that weren't touched and houses burnt to the foundation next to houses left untouched by fire or smoke. One person did a lot of fire mitigation and his trees were all saved but his house burned up. Another person treated his home with some kind of fire retardent foam and it saved his home, diverted the fire and saved some of his neighbors' homes. The donation centers are filled with stuff and many volunteers wanting to help. Everyone is being so kind. Gary's men's group is rallying around him to do what they can. So are family and friends. People are donating furniture to help Gary furnish a new home. He will stay with me temporarily. He is a mountain man and being in Denver is very hard on him. I can't imagine what it would be like for him to lose everything and then be stuck in a city without his home to go back to. At least I have my house for us to live in for now. At least we love each other and I can support him in going through this. At least neither of us was hurt and both of us are healthy. At times I feel waves of gratefulness for all of that. One really good thing is the doubts I have been plagued with about committing to this relationship for five years have dissolved. I feel a deep tenderness for Gary. I want to take care of him and love him and grow with him. I feel blessed that I get to. I know it is possible that the doubts will be back and I also know I can feel deep love and fear at the same time. I have a renewed sense of trust in my choice to be with Gary. It's such a relief to be more relaxed about all of this. Now I have more energy to live my life. That is good.
My kids Monnya and Isaac came over on Saturday for three hours to help me to declutter my artroom and be able to give Gary some space in my house. Every orifice in my house was stuffed to the brim with my stuff and his donated stuff was everywhere.
Monnya and Isaac were so helpful and organized and I feel like I have my house back even bettter than before the fire. They brought us flowers and their sweet and helpful energy and strong bodies. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for their help. This is a more welcoming place for us to live now.
For Gary and I our spiritual connection has been strethened through this hardship and our love has deepened. We have seen each other at our worst and it is OK. I am inspired by Gary's courage to do what he needs to do to rebuild his life. Maybe not the life he had but rather a new life emerging out of the ashes like a phoenix. Have you ever had anything happen from which you emerged from the ashes to recreate your new life? What was it and how did it transform you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Maybe I should write this in red. My heart is heavy tonight. My loving partner Gary had his house burn down in the four-mile fire.We were there. We received a call that a small fire had caught down the hill from his house and that they were doing voluntary evacuations. We had about 40 minutes to get stuff out of the house. It was surreal: both of us knew the house would burn and were in denial about it really happening at the same time.We got some of Gary's navajo rugs and some of his stones. There are so many things in hindsight we could have saved. In the midst of trauma it is amazing the level of mush a brain can be in. It is the body's protection from letting in the pain.
He was trying to spray water with a hose to save his house. The sherrif came and told us we had to leave right then because the house would be toast in five minutes. I could see a wall of flame pulsating 200 feet above the trees about 200 yards from the house. I drove my car up the driveway shaking so hard it was a challenge to find the pedals. When I got to the top of the driveway I screamed for about five minutes. Gary was still down there watering his house trying to protect it from the impending inferno. I ran down yelling "get out, get out!" Finally he decided he had done what he could and drove up the driveway.
I wish I would have thought to get his stones polishing in the tumbler in the basement. They were the fruits of four months of hard work. The day before he had shown them to me. Although not finished, they were beautiful. His specialty is cutting rocks into stones with what look like pictures of nature in them. An especially beautiful one looked like a mountain scene with a tree in the background. It's so easy to play could-a would-a should-a about the past.
Over one hundred and thirty homes were lost in this fire. Sometimes I think about all of those people and all the living that happened in those houses-all the lovemakling and arguments and birthdays, laughter and tears. Gary and his ex-wife built their house together 35 years ago. The builder friend that helped them lost his house in the fire too. He was fighting the fire even after his own house had burned and saw Gary's house burnt to the ground. That's how Gary knew his house had burned before official notification. Even though it is happening to Gary, it is still hard to imagine what it would be like to lose everything. He was saying that it is hard to tell people because they get so uncomfortable. I think that is because it triggers our pain about what it would be like to have it happen to us. All of us believe that something like having our houses burn down happens to someone else, not to us. I know Gary believed that. Hopefully the fire will be out soon and we will be able to go up there. I know seeing the site will bring a deeper level of grieving because the loss will be more real. I hope I get to be with him and I hope I can be supportive.
He is staying with me. We have both lived alone for twenty years. It is very challenging to be living together under these circumstances, sort of like forced cohabitation. Maybe we never would have done it otherwise until we had adjoining rooms in a rest home someday. The best thing about our relationship is that we are able to work through anything together- even this.
Gary feels scared and lost and he is also growing in confidence. The relief services people have been generous and he has been receptive and asking for what he wants and needs. That was hard for him before. Out of this experience he is more aware of how loved he is because of all the support pouring out to him from friends and family. Although this is definitely an FGO ( fucking growth opportunity) he can already see that although losing all of his stuff is a great loss, it was just stuff.
He even made a joke that he woke up that morning and decided to declutter.
For me it is a challenge to set aside my own stuff and show up for him consistently. The first few days I was taking a lot personally. I felt abandoned,
like he didn't like me anymore. After a good therapy session I could see that he was having a normal reaction to trauma and show up more open heartedly. I am learning to let go of my pictures of how things are supposed to be and to open to what is. I am learning that I can feel deep love and fear at the same time. I am learning that I am safe from the inside and that I am enough.
Gary now has a whole new wardrobe of donated clothes which are much nicer than his old ones. He looks lovely in his new clothes and feels good about himself in them. I wish it could have happened another way. And this is what happened. In the midst of his pain, I am inspired at how he is using his grieving process to grow spiritually. I will miss his beautiful light-filled house and especially the shower that he tiled himself using tile pictures of people dancing.
I will miss hiking right outside his door to a rock outcropping and meditating there together. We're not sure what will happen next. Are any of us ever? Thanks for listening. Is there a loss that you have suffered that ended up being an FGO?
Acknowledge yourself for taking the opportunity.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am rushing. I am going up to the mountains this afternoon after a lunchtime networking meeting. I have been rushing since I got up at 6. I planned to pack, get everything done I need to do before I leave and to write this blog. I completely forgot to write this week. I don't know why. I wasn't particularly busy, yet I felt scattered and uncentered. Now I want to write because I have made an agreement to write once a week. It is my ritual to pay attention to my creative expression and to write this blog. How can I take the time to do this without rushing? Rushing comes from a belief that there isn't enough time to do what I want to do. Rushing is what created the chicken grease on this keypad because I was eating my breakfast and writing this at the same time. Oh yes, I remember, there is my breath. If I focus on breathing into my belly I can show up and be present with what I am doing now. A small smile comes to my face as I feel my fingers flowing fluidly across the keyboard. When I bring minfulness to my breath I am a much better typist. I can feel when the sense of urgency starts to creep in I stumble on the keyboard and correcting my mistakes makes me much less efficient. It makes sense that rushing slows down my brain. I give my attention to nurturing my belief in scarcity about time. When I am rushing I am focused on the future and not present. In the presence process this week my statement I say to myself whenever I think of it is," I appreciate what I am." Michael Brown talks about appreciating being like what happens to a financial investment. He says that appreciating something adds value to it. Appreciating myself adds value to myself in my own mind while self-critism decreases my value in my own mind. I appreciate that I am writing this blog this morning. I appreciate that it is important to me to keep my agreements. I appreciate that even when I move my awareness away from my center I know how to bring myself back and I do. I appreciate you for reading my blog and supporting me in having a vehicle for sharing and teaching. The flow of energy this creates feels like a sacred circle where I pass on my learning process to you and am nourished by doing that. Thank you. It is so much easier to be in my life when I realize that rushing and the sense of urgency it brings to my life is grist for the mill. Being aware of the urgency is a vehicle for me to slow down and bring my attention to my breath and my body. It is an opportunity to come back to my source and to feel empowered both by my connection to my source and by the act of bringing myself back. Every time I realize I have wandered off and bring myself back with compassion I build the neural pathway that knows that moving off the mark is not a fatal flaw, but rather a chance to aim again. Embracing the curriculum that everything that happens in my life is an opportunity to increase present moment awareness is thrilling. In the moment it sometimes sucks. Today I learned that rushing can be transformed into peace and that I can write this blog and feel good about myself while I am writing it by slowing down and letting myself have the experience of writing it. This has been a joy. Thank you for listening.
Would you be willing to bring your attention to yourself when you are rushing? Kindly invite yourself to focus on your breath and to breath slowly and deeply. Let me know what you notice.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Believe it or not I just discovered the comments page of my blog. Occasionally I have asked for comments especially when I wonder if there is anyone reading what I have written. I really appreciate all of you who wrote and shared with me about how my blog has contributed to you. I have been writing my blog for two years and I didn't know that comments existed because I don't see them after the posting. For some people figuring this out would be easy. I am technologically challenged. Something inside me freezes up when I am faced with figuring out a mechanical task. It's hard to think clearly with a frozen brain. I am grateful that I plowed through the explanations and asked for help and quieted my inner critic's voice that told me I couldn't possibly figure out how to write a blog and did it anyway. There are some things that come easily for me and some things that are more challenging.
I remember when I first started seeing clients thirty years ago. I would be so anxious when working with a new person wondering if what I had to offer would be at all helpful. For a long time I wanted the people I worked with to leave my office smiling and I thought I had done a bad job if someone didn't. I learned that each person's process was their own and the emotions they took with them were all valuable. Then there was the phase in my work when I would get what I thought was a brilliant insight about a client's process. Just as I was about to share my gem of wisdom I would hear screaming voices in my head telling me to shut-up. It took years to really listen. When I began to contain my insights and sit quietly I realized that in less than five minutes the other person would come to the insight themselves. Then it would be theirs, not mine and the person would claim it and be receptive to it in a deeper way.
I have accumulated a wonderful toolbox to support the people I work with in opening their hearts to all of who they are. With time I have learned that the best tools help people go within and listen mindfully to their own bodies, minds and spirits and to learn to trust the power within each of us. That power is waiting for us to ask for help and listen. When the people I work with tune into their own source I can hear the source cheering. "I am so happy you have asked for my help. I have waited so long. You don't have to do this alone. I am here for you."
Part of what makes me a good therapist is that I am willing to do my own work.
I know that the more I grow the more I have to offer others. Since I discovered my childhood sexual abuse in April I have been back in individual therapy. I have also participated in a weekly group for incest survivors. With this work I have claimed my femininity. I have been afraid to be a woman and to be receptive and emotionally vulnerable. I now know I can be strong and vulnerable and that vulnerable with good boundaries is strong. I am drawn to flowy skirts and clothes that are more fitted. I know I can protect myself and little Andie by keeping my heart open. Little Andie is pretty big these days. She is creative and playful. We went swinging last weekend and as we flew through the air with the wind blowing through our hair we were one with nature and the universe. Since I have been doing this round of theraputic work I have opened to my sexuality. I never understood what all the hoopla was about. Now I do. It helps to have a loving partner who trusted that if I only made love when I wanted to I would actually want to. It was a stretch for him and brought him growth. I am awed by the benefits of a theraputic relationship. It is an opportunity to trust another human being with my precious spirit and to allow myself to expose those parts of me I find unacceptable. In the safe space of love I have opened to accepting the unacceptable. I can see that even incest is a vehicle to move through my obstacles to unconditionally loving myself. My statement for the Presence Process this week is, "I love myself unconditionally."
This is my second time through the process and this time it feel way more like the truth. I am blessed to be getting the help I am getting. It is coming from my connection with my spiritual support, and my therapist and my support group.
I love to support others in moving through the obstacles to self-acceptance. It is such an honor to love people and watch them grow into more and more of the awareness of the shining star that we all are.
I would love to work with more people. Summer is almost over. Fall is a great time to bring our attention to ourselves and do some deep work. Please think of the people you know and see who might benefit from what I have to offer and send them my way. Or send yourself my way. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Deeksha and divine mother

Oneness Deeksha blessings are a ritual I learned to do to connect with the oneness of the universe. The website is if you want to learn more. I love to give Deeksha oneness blessings to other people.
When I do I feel a sense of love and connection with the other person. It is as if the veil of the personality has parted and I experience connecting soul to soul. Deep beautiful colors flood my visual screen and I feel bathed in gratitude. I have been giving blessings to everyone who wants one, although I sometimes forget to ask. Some people aren't drawn to receiving a blessing but mostly the people I ask want to. I know I'm not doing the blessing. I am a vehicle for the blessing to move through. It is a good feeling to move out of the way of my ego that thinks I have to make something happen to be of value. Deeksha blessings aren't about fixing another person or making something happen. It is OK to have an intention and then to let go of the outcome. Deeksha blessings fit well with my spiritual philosophy which is: Trust in the universe, do my part and let go of the outcome. When it comes to giving Deeksha blessings trusting in the universe is about knowing that the universe is a beneficial force of energy and that all of us can tap into that energy. The oneness blessing is one tool to do that with. Doing my part is to be willing to put myself out there about offering blessings. That is a challenge because I still care about what other people think and make up stories about that. I don't want to be perceived as wierd or too out there. I am learning to tune inside to know who to offer a blessing to. Not everyone would resonate with receiving a blessing and if a person says no I am not taking it personally. I still get to feel good that I extended myself and asked. The third step is letting go of the outcome. That means both with offering a blessing and with what happens before during and after. If the people I am giving blessings to are receiving any part of what I experience from giving the blessings that is worthwhile. I know other people will have whatever experience they are having. That is good.
Is there something you'd like to offer to a friend or family member that you've been too afraid to? What would it take to know that what you have to offer is of value simply because you want to offer it? What about something you'd like to ask for from another person but have held yourself back? I think it is easiest to feel an intimate connection with another person who clearly and directly asks for what they want and need. I have begun to believe that the people I trust will say no to me if my request doesn't work for them. In fact, trusting that I can ask for what I want and that the other will honestly say yes or no is how I know someone is trustworthy.
Giving and receiving is supported by a variation of an exercise I learned in a deeksha givers support group. Imagine being held by an unconditionally loving divine mother to whom nothing you want is ridiculous or too much. Imagine asking her for what you want and then seeing a vision of her compassionately hearing your request and validating that you want what you want and it is OK. Breathe deeply and take in that sense of being loved for who you are unconditionally. Practicing allowing myself to feel loved by a divine mother energy helps me to feel that love for myself. That is what we all deserve. See if you feel moved to practice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Gary and I went to look at a house in Boulder on Monday. The long term plan has been for us to move up there eventually. We have been doing a long distance relationship of 90 minutes for over five years. We see each other on the weekends-at his house in the summer and at my house in the winter. Our arrangement has been perfect because we are two people who have each lived alone for almost twenty years. Both of us raised our respective children during that time. Each of us was involved in many relationships and yet neither of us chose to live with any of those people. Even as we have been looking at houses it was understood that this would be a gradual process. I would keep my house in Denver and be here at least three days a week to work, see my friends and have my sanctuary. When we went to look at this house in Boulder I got very scared.
I was so scared that I had to talk myself down and soothe myself by telling myself I didn't have to do anything that doesn't feel right to me. I reassured my little girl inside that I would protect her and not make her do anything that was unsafe. I am aware that everytime Gary and I look at houses or consider buying a house together or even when we put a contract on one house my level of fear has become intolerable. All this time I thought it was because none of the houses felt right to me. Either the location wasn't right or there wasn't enough space ( Gary has so much stuff and runs three businesses out of his home)
or the space that would be my office didn't feel right. There was always something that made me freeze in my tracks. On Monday the fear intensified to the point where it was difficult to breathe. It was the closest I have ever come to a full-blown panic attack. I realized that right now I treasure my light-filled orderly home and I love living alone and that no matter what other house we look at it won't feel right to me. When nothing feels right I have learned that I need to do nothing. Doing the presence process has taught me that often when I am upset I am triggered about something in the past and it is an opportunity to integrate that charged emotion by feeling the emotion underneath the story. Since Monday I have continued to experience waves of fear. The story is that I have to do what makes Gary happy just as I had to do what made my Dad happy. When I be with the felt sensation under the story and breathe into the tightness in my chest and stomach I can experience being a little girl with no sovereignty over my world. I am out of control and what I want doesn't matter.
When I soothe myself I let myself know that now what I want does matter. Tomorrow I am going to see my therapist. I have been back in therapy since I discovered my childhood sexual abuse. I will work with this fear with the help of a skilled practitioner. In the safe space that she creates I will be with the little girl inside and see where this fear takes me. I know that is the beauty of a good theraputic relationship- I feel free to be myself and to go to the deep places I might not otherwise allow myself to go. It is OK for me to get support. It doesn't mean I'm not strong. In fact, I have come to believe that one of the strongest acts is to let another person be there for us at our most vulnerable. I am learning to receive and release my mistrust. That is another gift of a strong theraputic relationship. Everytime I go back into therapy and experience the benefits of a skillful witness my gratefulness to be a therapist is deepened. It is such a blessing to love my clients and support them in freeing themselves from the suppressed emotions that keep them stuck in the past and the future. Watching people move more and more into all of who they are is such a joy. I am honored to be allowed to be part of the miracle of growth. I admire the courage of the people I work with as they move their obstacles out of the way and emerge more into present moment awareness. In my own work and in my work with others we are getting more skillful about being in our circles in our daily lives. Wherever I live and whatever I do I want to spend more time in my circle, my own sacred space inside, and learn how to honor myself and others at the same time. That is also what I wish for you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the highest intention

I went to a workshop with Jack Kornfield on Saturday. He is a vippasana meditation teacher and a psychologist. One of the exercises we did was a partner exercise where we looked deeply into another's eyes for about ten minutes. Gary and I attended this workshop together and partnered for this exercise. The exercise had four parts. For the first few minutes we were to look into the other person's eyes and imagine their loving human qualities. Then we were instructed to see the other person's suffering, then to look into the other's eyes and see all the people we loved in them, and last to see the other person as all people and as the connectedness of all people. I was very grateful for the deep connection we have and that we do eye gazing on our own frequently. When I was looking at his suffering I saw the shy little boy inside of him who has a hard time asking for what he wants. My heart went out to that little boy. I could see that Gary's attempts to be funny at my expense were an unskillful strategy he learned to connect with others when he didn't know how else to do it. Since then it has been easier for me not to take it so personally. Rather I have been better able to see being triggereed as a chance for me to be with my hurt little girl inside smarting from her father's teasing. I am learning not to shoot the messenger and to get the message. In this way I can better use my relationship with Gary to heal my own childhood wounds. I felt so much love for Gary during the eyes open meditation exercise. I felt blessed to have a partner who would go to a workshop like this with me. It was even his idea. I was aware of our soul connection and how that is the strongest bond we have and both of our most important values. All of this love was welling up between us and it seemed to move out beyond us to include all of our loved ones and all people everywhere. The lunch break was right after this exercise. At lunch we had a big argument and I was reminded that love creates the space for what isn't love to come up and be experienced and healed. It was funny to look back on that later and to see how the process worked, even though in the midst of my anger and hurt feelings it wasn't funny at all. I am doing The Presence Process for the second time. Michael Brown, the author of the presence process book says that we are imprinted in the first seven years of life by the supressed emotional experiences of childhood. He says that everything that happens to us as an adult is an opportunity to bring those suppressed emotions to consciousness to experience and integrate them. Each time we do this we increase present moment awareness. I acknowledge the courage it takes for me to be in a committed relationship. I have knowingly signed up to be triggered by another person and to stick around and heal. I appreciate that Gary has done this too. When we are both invested in being right and blaming the other for our suffering it isn't pretty. We know how to hurt each other quite well now. In the workshop this Saturday Jack Kornfield said when he is in this place with his wife and he can remember who he really is he asks himself,"What is my highest intention? He said that this awareness moves him out of his defensiveness. I want to have the presence of mind in the midst of an argument to remember that I actually have a highest intention outside of beating down my enemy. Also, in the midst of beating up on myself I want to remember to ask myself, What is my highest intention? My highest intention is to use my life to be connected to God and to use love as the vehicle to get there. Maybe it will help me to love myself even in the midst of my self-hate and fear. I'd like to use the obsessive quality of my thoughts when I am lost in self-doubt to remind me of my highest intention. I could use the awareness of myself as that rat on that wheel going around and around to imagine jumping off the wheel and asking for help. I could imagine being in my circle breathing love from my spiritual support into my own heart to my little girl inside, thus connecting with the source. What is your highest intention? How could you remind yourself of it in the midst of your self-hate and fear?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

doing nothing

How many times will it take for me to get that when nothing feels right I need to do nothing? It is very hard for me to do nothing. I am afraid the activity police are going to roar up on giant black motorcycles and shake their fists at me. They will tell me I am lazy and unproductive and not a worthwhile member of society. When nothing feels right I can tell because I am grumpy and irritable. All of the things that normally give me pleasure feel tedious and difficult. Everything pisses me off. I am overwhelmed by all of the suffering in the world and I want to turn on my heels and run away, move to a strange town where noone knows me, change my name and get a job arranging flowers. When nothing feels right I try to distract myself with eating food I'm not hungry for or shopping in thrift stores. Today as I was looking at another person's used shoes which were scruffy and had worn down heels, I asked myself,"Is this what I am doing with my one precious life?" Then I came home and overate. Although the food was tasty and just what I wanted to eat, it provided only momentary pleasure before I felt annoyed with myself for overeating which further contributed to my irritation. It is a sad state of affairs when everything I can think of to do to distract myself from doing nothing feels like dunking myself in lukewarm apple juice on a hot day. Maybe it is a glad state of affairs because I finally listened and laid down on my living room floor on my back and did nothing. After fifteen short minutes I felt more comfortable in my skin instead of wanting to jump out of my skin. I know whatever is calling to me needs more attention. I want to keep listening. Doing nothing has no purpose in the world of doing. In the world of being it is the elixir of the gods. Doing nothing is a call from my inner presence to slow down and tune in. How creative does my inner presence have to be before I will listen? Does it have to hire a marching band with tubas to parade through my living room and play a resting song? " All you need is rest dododododo. All you need is rest, rest. Rest is all you need." I am glad I listened. Doing nothing is a call from my inner child to pay attention to her- to stop my frantic doing and actually give her my undivided attention. She is not a big fan of my multitasking. I made a commitment in my last therapy session to spend thirty minutes a day actively being with her, doing what she wanted to do. I have done a medium job. I realize I need to stop and be quiet and actually talk to her and see what it is she wants to do. That is different than thinking up some activity that I think she would like and then doing it. I need to stop and be quiet if even for a moment and tune into her and ask. When I just stopped typing and tuned into her she said she wanted to do an art project tonight. How would I even know that if I hadn't stopped typing long enough to hear her? I want her to know I am there for her and that she matters to me enough to stop moving and listen consistently. How about your inner child? Could she or he benefit from a little undivided attention from you? I highly recommend doing nothing. Is it easy or hard for you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Challenge yourself with love

Yesterday was my daughter Monnya's 25 birthday. I remember being pregnant in July. I felt like a pizza oven. It's so hard for me to imagine Monnya has been alive for 25 years. Yet here she is- a beautiful woman inside and out who I am inspired by. Last Friday I went to the performance at the end of her week long aerial dance camp for girls. I have gone every year since she started offering the camp three years ago. I love to see her in her glory being the cheerleader and guide for girls from 5-13. They come out of the camp confident and empowered, dancing and flying through the air. Monnya is a talented teacher. She has the ability to break the complicated aerial dance moves into small clear steps and praise the kids every step of the way. She is passionate about aerial dance and that passion is contageous. She makes the process very non-competitve between the girls yet gently pushes each one to go to her edge. Monnya is gifted with the ability to support others in challenging themselves with love. She has always done so with herself- sometimes to the point where I am shaking with fear. To her, life is a daring adventure.
Today she came to my house to pick up her car because we left it there to go to the surprise party that Isaac her husband had planned for her. It has been such a treat to see her so much in the past few days. Today she showed me her hand decorated goal book in which on her birthday she had written her goals for this year. She has an extensive process of goal setting and monitoring her goals. Her goals are about all aspects of her life. She has made daily entries in her book for nine months. I am really proud of her perserverance and persistence. Monnya is a perfromance artist. Many of her goals are related to training to develop her artform as an aerial dancer. She stressed that the success of her goals isn't determined by the outcome. Success is determined by her keeping her agreements with herself and then acknowledging herself for doing that. Success is also cutting herself some slack and having compassion for wanting to rest.
Goalsetting has never been my forte. It is easier for me to ignore my accomplishments and focus on what I haven't done. Monnya encouraged me to push myself and create my own book. I have been feeling stuck and anxious and her enthusiasm fueled me into movement. I got to experience my daughter's skill at challenging with love.
I found a beautiful book that Monnya's step-mother had given me for my fiftieth birthday. I had been saving it for something and it was perfect. Sometimes I save things obsessively, not allowing myself to use them.I'm glad I saved that book and I want to give myself permission to use or wear beautiful things instead of saving them. I decorated the inside because the outside was already decorated. That fulfilled my goal of artistic expression for today. My goals are physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. There are doing goals and being goals. It is my intention to do clear goalsetting and to monitor my goals with compassion. I want to see what I plan to accomplish and acknowledge myself for the energy I put in regardless of the outcome. I think in my mind the difference between goals and intentions was that intentions included letting go of the outcome. I see that I can create goals and also be gentle with myself about what happens. I think I have been aversive about goalsetting in the past because I associated goalsetting with being hard on myself. I see now that it doesn't have to be that way. In fact setting goals can be a way to honor my own effort and energy. I am excited about my book and about having a record of my progress. Today I accomplished all of my goals. I spent the evening with myself and thoroughly enjoyed my time. I feel renewed energy, as if my life force has been amped. I am grateful for my daughter and the power of her life-force. I am grateful to myself for recognizing that she is my teacher and receiving the gifts she has to offer. Thanks for listening to my kvelling. Kvelling is a yiddish word that my mother taught me for the wonderful feeling of expansiveness in the heart that happens when you share about the accomplishments of someone you love.
Consider creating a record of your goals and a system for monitoring them. It is a good feeling to be accountable to myself. See if it might be useful for you to create a system to know what you want and watch yourself move steadily in that direction. Notice it is possible to be kind to yourself in the process. See if it might be satisfying to challenge yourself with love.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

envy again

I thought green would be appropriate because I am feeling envious. The last time I wrote about envy was after I watched a DVD of Angela Farmer, the yoga teacher. I wanted her life, her relationship and her lithe flexible body.
My friend Amanda's booksigning is at Tattered Cover LoDo tonight at 7:30. She has written a successful book on Appreciative Inquiry. It is a process to help people, especially in workplaces, focus on what they appreciate rather than what is wrong. It can dramatically change the climate of a workplace. Her new book about which she is speaking tonight is using appreciative inquiry in developing leadership styles. Amanda wrote her first book after I wrote my book Eating My way To God: A food addict's spiritual journey. I have envied Amanda her drive to complete her book and do all that is necessary to get it published and marketed. I am glad for her and I envy her. At one point I thought her success would inspire me to put the necessary energy into getting help in putting my book out there. That hasn't been true. I am glad for Amanda. She has been able to contribute to many people's lives. I am excited to go to her booksigning tonight and support her.
On Monday Geneen Roth was on Opray with her new book, Women Food and God. Although I haven't read it from what I gleaned from watching the show, Geneen's book is about women using food to medicate disconnection from their own feelings and using emotional awareness to reconnect with the source. I was green with envy. My origonal mission was to spread the message that being in touch with my feelings rather than stuffing them under food was my path to eating my way to God. I dreamed of being on Opray and even sent her a copy of my book. Geneen Roth was articulate and seemed very grounded and clear with the people whose questioons she responded to. I want to read her book. I know it could be helpful to me. I can be envious without shutting my heart down. I can breathe into the felt-sensation of envy in my body. I feel a tightness in my chest. I feel sad that I haven't pursued putting my book out there and mad at myself. As I breathe the tension lessens. I find a sense of compassion and acceptance for myself. The truth is that right now I am not moved to put energy into my book. It doesn't mean I am doing something wrong. I don't know what it means. What matters is to acknowledge that it is my choice not to do anything with my book right now. Maybe I wrote it for myself and the thirty or so people who have read it. I don't even have an edited copy to give to someone right now if they wanted one. I can be clear that I don't have the energy to put into my book right now because two people said they were interested in buying it and still I did nothing.
Last time when I felt envy for Angela Farmer I came to the place of appreciating her and appreciating myself. When I am lost in envy I can jump out of my circle and oogle over the other person and dis myself.
This time I realize I have made a choice and to take responsibility for that choice. It doesn't make me a bad person because I am choosing not to put my energy into my book. I am choosing to put energy into my work and my relationship and my family and friends. It's OK to be an ordinary awesome person. It's OK for me and OK for you.