Deeper Instinct


“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
― Anaïs Nin

I absolutely love these words. I believe we can be women with both our strength and beauty at full power, continuously building our lives and interests into an oasis where our truest selves can rest and grow.

We can also invite men into ourselves, into our lives, with their own clarity of vision and self-awareness. These men exist, but are unseen by the untrained eyes of women caught up in living the damage all of us carry with us if we’re not willing to address it and move forward.

A friend said to me the other day that she wondered when men quit being courteous and protective gentlemen. I suggested that those qualities were possibly resting by the roadside next to the grace and femininity we set aside thinking we had to war with each other.

I’m not a man, and I don’t want to be. We are of equal value but we are not equal in many wonderful ways that have apparently been forgotten. We bring different gifts into the world and each is made more powerful by what the other has to offer. Each can bring more joy to the other.

Beautiful music, well written books, cognitive therapy and a willingness to look inside for answers have helped me make my way to the life I’m building now. It will always be so for me, and that makes me happy. When I recognize that in a man, that kind of investment in himself, I am awed. I know what kind of courage it takes to do so.

It’s hard and it’s painful at times. But to be able to bring my whole self to the table with all I have to offer inside, and a man’s willingness to do the same is a breath-taking possibility of unlimited potential for a very real love.

I have a “deeper instinct” to choose wisely in the future. To preserve myself and offer everything at the same time. To be capable of maintaining my individuality as well as answering the masculine call to my femininity. I will consider it a joy, not a weakness to revel in the celebration of like hearts, like minds, and very different bodies.

We should not be at war. I love getting flowers, having my doors opened and a man showing his protectiveness. I adore these things that call to the feminine in me and will consider them a show of respect and an indicator of the value I will have to him. It matters little that I can do these things for myself. Likewise it makes me happy to show my heart in the things I do and the care I give even when he too will be capable of providing for himself.

I think men and women have both gotten a bad deal. We gave it to ourselves, and it seems like such a waste of time to me. There have been too many wasted opportunities to be more and have more as individuals and as companions of choice.

I grew tired of fighting. I set my weapons aside and picked up my books, my headphones and held my hand out for someone to show me the way in. It’s changed me in ways I will never regret. It’s grown beautiful things within me that can’t be taken away.

They can only be given or shared, guided by that “deeper instinct”.

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The Art of Being Ugly


I woke up ugly this morning.

Not on the outside although it wasn’t one of my better days, but my heart, my thoughts and my perception of things were on the hard side. I woke up gritting my teeth and knew it would be a struggle to contain the harshness from those who didn’t deserve it.

Which was everyone.

I usually don’t feel this way, and I don’t like it. I used to deny its existence or hide it from myself, missing every important lesson the meanness was trying to teach me.

I’m a slow learner but when I finally get it, it sticks.

Listening to the ugly parts of me is the only way to see where I’m being foolish in ways that injure my heart. Shaking hands with the side of me that wants to strike out helps me see where I’ve set myself up for failure. The “righteous” part of me that wants to cause equivalent pain in another is a 911 call for pulling my head out of my ass and taking a good look at where I’m standing…

And how fast I’m sinking.

I’m about chest high in bad attitude right now, cigarette in one hand and wine glass in the other, listening to the ugly. I don’t apologize for the contents of either hand or the content of my mind.

I’m sorting it out.

The more I listen the more it recedes, slowing my breath and easing the tightness in my jaw. My heart softens again and my mind settles. I see the adjustments I need to make to defuse my dilemma.

Fortunately, most will never meet the ugly I talk to from time to time, even though that side of me is an important part of who I am. If I don’t listen to the black-hearted, judgmental, vigilante part of me…

How will I ever grow?

Front Porch Therapy


Welcome to my front porch. Sacred ground. A place to share your pain, anger and silliness. It’s by invitation only because my first responsibility is to myself. If I’m not right, my porch is not the place for anyone to be.

My porch is Switzerland, baby. Neutral territory. No recognized extradition laws here.

Only the truth is spoken here, either in person or via phone or text. But I, at least, must be sitting right here for these laws to be in effect.

Your age, race, gender or faith of choice is rendered clear here. We talk, share, shout out, laugh hysterically and solve our issues. At the very least we part ways with new ideas to filter through our views of life.

It’s an awesome place to hang out when needed.

The Front Porch is a precious place to me. I’ve laughed here, cried plenty and healed to a wholeness I’ve never known before now. I’ve heart/soul talked with brothers, sisters, parents and friends who are my family.

I became real here. It will be hard for me to ever leave should I someday decide to.

My heart took its first free breath here with broken ribs, and a fierce joy.

Fierce.

Only those who have proven themselves soul-worthy have been welcomed here in person, or otherwise. It is non-negotiable to me.

One of my best friends says she’s not right if a week goes by without porch therapy. I get it. If your soul can’t speak out in a safe and accepting environment, it gets a little lonely.

We need each other. Don’t act like we don’t.

So my point is this, friends…find your “front porch”. Build it. Protect it fiercely. It will save you, and those in your inner circle who live in your heart.

Be the safe place. Open eyes, open heart, open mind…open arms…

Because hugs are a critical part of front porch therapy, even if they’re virtual.

You know who you are, you are welcome here, and I love you.

 

The Lion’s Roar


I saw this piece posted today, and it was like a bolt of lightning illuminating the answers to the how and why questions I’ve been asking myself the past six months.

I realize now that there came a time when I let my hands fall helplessly to my sides in a silent gesture of defeat. I see clearly now that the moment I did so was the death of my hope.

I welcomed the numbness that slowly filtered through my heart and dimmed my belief in the joy to be found in life, as well as the pain of it. I was so tired of hurting.

I became a coward. 

I had been, before that moment, one who would not comply when I disagreed with a directive. I was lion-hearted, and it roared through the silence of my deliberate actions, choice of words and the look in my eyes.

I knew how to get what I wanted. I made things happen. I got the jobs I chose for the advancements that would follow. I held the ones I decided to love for the time we were given. I faced losses and disappointments that took me to my knees and accepted  the consequences of wrong choices without a single excuse. I was brave, foolish and proud.

Until love chose me, and I let it break me.

At that moment, I let go and accepted what I believed to be true. I loved too intensely, demanded too much in return, my personality was too strong as was the fire of my imagination. I was too much to be tolerated.

I pushed the mute button and settled for the “sanity” I saw in the world around me. That choice, that path, that life that everyone else had-seemed so appealing to me as I sat there quietly…

Letting my heart bleed out.

I’m no light weight. I tried. I gave every effort, tried every suggestion, tolerated every insult I brought upon myself. This spanned decades. It felt like an eternity.

I felt myself dying.

I would wake up each morning with a sense of sorrow, whispering the question “why?”. Why was I still breathing? What was I here for? What was the point?

It frightened me that those thoughts didn’t frighten me.

Something, some survival instinct I suppose, flickered enough that I began to ask myself hard questions. When I did, I began to wish and want. As if lit by a match, a tiny feeling of hope sparked to a slow smoking spiral upwards.

I wasn’t dead yet, so I wasn’t done.

I began to dream, then plan. In an act of sheer bravery (or foolishness) I took a step, and then another. On my third unsteady stagger forward hope flared in me so brightly that I could see every possibility.

Every action I’ve taken since then is more gasoline feeding the flames of a hope that will burn you to ashes if you try to extinguish it.

Lack of action feeds hopelessness. Action creates it, feeds it, dances in the light of it.

If everything I dream of is not to be found in this lifetime… well then I will have lived a wonderfully adventurous life seeking it all …won’t I?

There have to be others out there stomped by life yet still determined to stand up with pieces torn and damaged, loving large anyway. I believe there are those who face being loved with equal parts joy and terror who still have the courage to open their arms wide and welcome what would overwhelm most.  The spiritual samurais who won’t shrink back, the ones who have the superpower of huge emotional capacity, the junk yard dogs of loyalty.

I can feel you out there. I can hear the beating of your hearts. I will find you.

You are not alone.

Unexpected Places: A Eulogy


rumi set your life on fire

I thought her beautiful

at any age…

Time seemed to have

no power over

how she

presented herself

to the world…

She made me laugh

every damn time

I saw her, and lifted

me when I was

sure nothing could…

I don’t understand

how she could

be gone

when she never

grew old…

Never got stuck

in any one way of thinking,

always open

to the next great

possibility…

She was honest

when it wasn’t “cool”

and transparent

when no one

wanted to

see…

There was something

about her that

drew you

close,

held you tight

and made you welcome…

She knew the latest

songs and slang

and laughed

uproariously at how

it blew my mind…

She loved

at times when

I thought she

shouldn’t, and the pieces

of life that she

leapt out to have

for herself

that made me

question her sanity

were the times

she treasured most

in her heart.

I can only hope

that she will live on

not just in our hearts,

but in our ways

of thinking and seeing

the world,

the choices we make

for our lives,

and the courage

we call out

of ourselves

to love and live

in unexpected

places.

 

 

Pistols At Dawn


 

Let’s talk a bit about resolving conflict. There is the tried and true way of yelling and screaming at each other which achieves nothing but a sore throat and resentments. We can also do the ignoring of the elephant in the room and begin the second cold war. If that doesn’t work we can blame and shame the other into some kind of submission, that’s always a fun one. If all else fails, we can (sigh) try to work it out with discussion and understanding.

I know, this is a radical concept, but stay with me for a minute or two.

If both parties are not heard and respected, then there is no real resolution to any problem brought to the table. For a misunderstanding to be cleared up, everyone has to be willing to listen and consider. Not just one person, but all persons involved. If there is an assumed insult to deal with, somebody needs to listen to the offense taken and the other must listen to the intention of the words spoken.

Unless you just want to be angry, then you should quit reading right now. 

Any kind of successful resolution to conflict comes from both sides being able to share their intent and emotion, from both being willing to listen to the other and consider that maybe, just maybe no harm was intended. That is not to say no harm was done, because who are we to say when we have caused another pain? We don’t determine that, they do. Our part is to listen, understand as best we can and explain from our hearts that our words were from a harmless loving place. That we truly meant no harm or hurt at all.

If someone hurts us, it is our right to speak up and stop them where they stand. We have a right to say what the injury is and expect an explanation and apology. If the offender is important to us we will give them equal time and respect to listen so that we can understand what caused them to hurt us so carelessly. If they don’t matter to us, well we say what we need to and move on, leaving them behind. That alone will tell you where you stand.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work, in case you’ve been in a cave or under a rock the last 50 years or so. A Johnny Carson monologue on someone’s transgressions with no feedback is worthless. A gag order where the other party has no time or right to say anything to explain their side is worthless. Deafness to any belief or truth other than the one already pre-decided is a real resolution killer.

I hope I’m not being too vague in pointing out that resolving conflict takes input from both sides to be of any value to the continuing relationship. If the relationship matters at all.

Each of us see and understand life differently based on our personal experiences and traumas. We all need to respect that about each other and tread carefully. That being said, it is impossible for us to go through life without treading on each others hearts, memories and experiences. Impossible. So our only option for loving and lasting relationships of any kind is to refine the art of resolving conflict.

I have been in a relationship where there was never any resolution to conflict. It is a soul killer. I am no longer there, and will not be in another one of any kind where there is not the heart or courage to give and receive and resolve. Period. I will not go there.

If I’m not looking at someone with the guts to take the same truth as they are willing to give, then I won’t be looking at them for long. I have just learned that about myself. If I’m willing to shut up and listen and absorb and ponder the possibilities, then by god the one I’m looking at better have the balls to do the same. Or they can move on to someone else who hasn’t lived the reality of what it’s like to be forced into silence.

I will never be that person again.

Another important point before I close is to fight fairly to resolve the issues at hand. It’s wrong to use any weakness shared with you as a weapon against the one you care about.It shows a dent in your character to use what has been shared in confidence to harm the person who trusted you to begin with. Resolve the damn issue like people who actually care for each other.

I have wondered recently why a person wouldn’t just say “ouch, you just stepped somewhere I don’t want to go” and let you step away and respect their space. Why does everything need to be a huge offense to humanity instead of a “hey, okay sorry, I won’t go there”? If something stabs you in the heart, by all means say so! We can’t know unless you do. But let there be a reasonable, mature solving of the problem.

Forgive my diatribe. If I have offended you, your feedback is more than welcome. We will resolve.

If all else fails, we will go with pistols at dawn.

War Paint


 

 

It may seem to you that I am weak in my beliefs because I don’t scream them out at the top of my lungs in defiance of the world. You don’t see your roars and ravings blowing past me like a hot breeze through my hair as I stand quietly in the truths I know.

You think me shallow in my support of those I love because I don’t rant and belittle others in a public display in some kind of show of solidarity. Your eyes don’t see how I quietly remove their fractured foundations from beneath them to let them crumble into their own foolishness.

You see my kindness and compassion as a flaw of selfishness given out to the world to make myself look good, or feel better about who I am. You see my generosity of heart as a character flaw of pandering to my own ego; my desire to hold and love and heal the hurts where I can as nothing but a big show. You see my joy in giving as an attempt to purchase love where none is offered, my reaching out as a request for validation.

After all this time. You don’t know me, darling. You just wish you did.

Your words fall harmlessly away from my heart, causing me none of the damage you hoped to inflict. Your opinion of me is regretful, but not something to cause me a moment’s wavering from who I know I am. You are a damaged, deceitful mess. You are a legend in your own mind, playing out a story you’ve written where you are the star, and the rest of us merely supporting characters.

You do not see me. You never have. Any description you give of me would be met with blank stares and astonishment from those who love me and know me well. You are not one of those few. You are not capable of it. After all this time.

I will admit to stepping back, diminishing myself to make room for you, adjusting who I was to make you more comfortable. Therein lies my weakness. Neither one of us deserved that. If I had allowed myself to remain, what kind of person would you have become? That is my second regret. The first one is that I diminished myself at all. I made myself quiet and less and vague. I quit speaking freely. I stopped sharing who I was. I shut myself down due to lack of interest. The most important being my own.

This is not your story anymore, baby. This is mine. Feel free to go ride in your own rodeo, I’m not buying any tickets this time around. You’re so good at showing the world your war face. You thump your chest and shout and decree how the world should be. It’s quite a sight to see, especially from the front row.

Unfortunately for you my love, I’m no longer in the building.

I’m just a little busy shaking off the paralysis that comes from teaching myself not to give a shit about what’s happening around me. I’ve got a lot going on with this remembering how to breathe, speak and laugh freely whenever I choose. I’m really tied up right now with kicking my own ass for wasting so much of my time on someone who didn’t really want it anyway. The joke’s on me, and thank god I’m still alive to laugh about it. I will always laugh about it, because that’s the point where my vision clears and my heart beats strongly and my mind is wide open to possibility.

Thank god I didn’t lose my sense of humor when my common sense veered left of center.

You think yourself a great warrior. A veteran of life’s battles. A person of integrity in a sea of wasted humanity. I see you. You hate it that I do. That’s very sad for both of us.

But I can own my shit, recalibrate and live an amazing life.

I thank you for the lessons learned. I would not have appreciated what I have now, and expect to have in the future, if not for each and every moment of sorrow I chose until I learned enough to choose differently. The smile in my eyes and the laughter in my heart?

That is my war paint. See it and weep.