Friday, October 21, 2011

Truth and Lies

I’ve been pondering a question lately: Is it ever really acceptable to tell a lie to someone you love? People lie for many reasons. They lie about things they deem small and innocent. They lie to make themselves feel better, to cover up a perceived shortcoming or an insecurity. They lie under the auspices of protecting or impressing the person being told the lie. They lie because they can’t even distinguish between what is true and what is false at times. They lie because they think they can get away with it. I’m not as pure and infallible as to claim to never have told a lie or stretched the truth; however, by and large I am honest to a fault. It is so intertwined with what constitutes integrity for me, a trait I take very seriously, that it is literally painful for me to lie. Quite often it is just impossible, most of all when it comes to something of import to someone important to me. Not everyone feels the same way.

It is hard to accept that someone you love has betrayed your trust with lies. Perhaps harder still is to have known somewhere deep inside of you that something didn’t quite add up or make sense. Something was off and your gut was telling you so, yet you pushed past it by focusing on how much you love this person, how much good you see in them. After all, telling lies doesn't mean someone is inherently bad. Good people sometimes do bad things. And when you love someone that love is a reflection of you, so who would want to acknowledge that someone they’ve “endorsed” with their love is telling lies? It isn’t pleasant, and I speak from very recent experience.

On to that experience . . . Apparently I have a thing for falling for guys with impressive speed. Who I’m trying to impress isn’t quite clear. Obviously the guy likes me enough to want to be with me. And I certainly like me enough. So why go at warp speed? I don’t have a good answer, other than to say, that’s just been my style. When I meet someone I don’t connect with on a deeper level, I immediately walk away. So not surprisingly, when I meet someone I do connect with on a deeper level, I dive in head first and give it my all. This has happened more than once. It ended up with me married, at age 22, after five months of dating and co-habitating. And now I’ve been in not one but two pretty serious post-marriage relationships with guys who I shared a soul level connection with, only to find after several months of push and pull amidst the yumminess of new love that if it is that much work early on, it probably isn’t going to work in the long haul. It doesn't negate the power and realness of the soul-connect, but not all such bonds are meant to last. I’m kind of hard headed and apparently I didn’t want to readily accept this lesson the first time, so the second time the Universe delivered up someone who would turn out to break a cardinal rule by lying to me, among other things, making it impossible for me to stay involved. What fun!

In all sincerity, I’m not bitter about the way it all went down. I am, on the contrary, immensely grateful. Yes, at first it pissed me off greatly to know I invested so much of myself into a relationship with someone who I believed was worthy of everything I have to give only to have it all go up in smoke. And what’s even crazier is that the lies were told to cover up truths that I would have had no problem accepting! They weren’t deal breakers; they weren’t things I would have cared about one way or the other. But I do care tremendously about truthfulness, and once lied to I now know that I have a very hard time trusting again. So I’m glad to have had all this come to light sooner rather than later. C. and I started out on the fast track to creating a life together, and it would have been far more complicated to walk away had that happened as opposed to it ending while we still had largely separate lives. More importantly, all of this has created the perfect platform for me to really examine my role in this dynamic.

Clearly not everyone has it in them to go all in on a new relationship the way I do. A few of my dearest friends won’t even utter the word “boyfriend” until six or so months in, and even then, it is only at a whisper. Me, I shout it from the rooftops after mere weeks if it feels right. If I find myself with someone who I adore, who I feel proud to call my man, heck yeah I want to let that be known. The trouble is, I am apparently way too quick to pass judgment, in this case, deeming someone worthy of my total adoration and commitment before I really know them, and before we have a chance to truly see if we work or not. Chemistry and passion are powerful, intoxicating forces. So when they’re there, it is easy to confuse them for deep, meaningful and lasting compatibility, at least for me anyway. I see it all through the rose-colored glasses of new love, rather than the centered, grounded space within me that I work so hard to nurture and operate from. I guess I’m in love with falling in love, and that doesn't always end well. Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to fixing it, right?!? And since I’m willing to come here and write about all that is so wonderful about me and my life, I also have to be fair and own the parts that are a little less wonderful. I’ve been pretty vocal about being so in love, so it is the appropriate counter balance to verbalize (or write) that I pressed the gas pedal a little too hard, a little too fast on this one. All of you can help keep me honest ;-)

So as with every experience and encounter, I open myself up to the lesson, or lessons as it were. Lesson #1: I have a very low, if any, tolerance for liars, particularly liars who want to date me. Lesson #2: Enthusiastic and excitable as I am, as much love as I so desire to share with that special someone, pacing myself is a must. It’s just better for everyone involved. I bear C. no ill will. I honestly wish nothing but the best for all my exes, and regard them with gratitude. They fulfilled their purpose in my life and I in theirs. That’s what we’re here for, and I’m very grateful to be open and aware enough to see and appreciate the lessons, even the ones that require me to take off the rose-colored glasses in order to see straight! Thanks fellas! Thanks life! Here's to doing it better the next time around!

Highs and Lows, Light and Dark (originally published 9/27/11)

Whether you subscribe to the belief or not, can any of us really deny that duality exists? Vedanta, a fundamental part of my yoga training, asserts that non-duality is the nature of our existence, that Self, Brahma, the Whole are really one in the same with our little individual selves. The rest is just an illusion, or Maya. Yet there are so many pairs of seeming opposites that occur in nature, within our very beings and within our human experience. We speak of our higher self, which is to say the more enlightened, wise, soul-driven aspect of our being, as opposed to our lower self, the less learned, less mature, ego-driven facet. There is light and dark, both in the literal sense thanks to the earth's orbit, and in the figurative sense referring to the happy times in life as opposed to the sad ones. There are highs and lows, moments or perhaps days, weeks, years where things are really just going smoothly, blessings seem abundant and nothing can bring you down, until of course something does and suddenly your bogged down in the low, struggling to even remember the high times.

Like anyone who happened to stumble across this page, I've lived through highs and lows, light and dark and times of operating from both my higher self as well as my lower self. It's called life. We're all doing it. And sometimes what the higher self feels or knows comes into direct conflict with what the lower self wants. Sometimes the gifts bestowed in times of light overshadow the gifts that come in times of dark, simply because they are wrapped in prettier paper. What I believe it all boils down to is embracing both sides equally, facing them honestly and using the sum of the sometimes disparate parts to enjoy and experience life fully.

Ok, so this started off on a highly esoteric, slightly abstract note. Bringing it back to the "real world" lately I've found myself battling against my own duality, specifically how it plays into my love life. My soul loved C's soul from the moment we met. As we are both believers in such things, we readily embraced the notion that this is because our souls have journeyed together across many lifetimes. We are familiar to each other at that level. I've had more than one intuitive practitioner who I trust support this belief, each adding a new insight into our past life history and how that might contribute to this present incarnation. But beyond what anyone says, it's just something I feel at my core level, and I trust my instinct, so I've gone with it. The thing is what our souls know to be true does not necessarily correlate directly to what our lower, more earthly selves know. The latter is steeped in the experiences, beliefs, dramas, standards, expectations, etc. of this particular lifetime. Whatever baggage we've amassed along the way, we're bringing it with us into every connection we make. So you can end up loving someone so deeply, feeling drawn to them in a way that is beyond your control, and yet you find yourself wanting to ring their neck at times out of sheer frustration because they just don't get it! Or maybe you just don't get it! Or maybe one or both just can't express it! We could go on and on.

In love, if you cannot deem the sum of the parts totally lovable, and reach a state of peaceful agreement with your beloved that there are ways in which you differ and disagree, you're doomed. It is that simple. We all come with self and Self, light and dark, high and low. We all come with baggage. We are multi-dimensional and when we partner up, we usually do it with someone who has many dimensions that fit with our own, but it is impossible to find someone who fits them all. Why? Because the only way to do that is to be a complete narcissist and be in love with yourself!! Even if you have tons in common with your lover, same upbringing, same world views, same interests, you are not the same person and so you will always have something that is uniquely, differently and solely you to contribute to every equation. Grasping this in theory is one thing. Making it work in practice is another. So often we find ourselves in power struggles, pushing and pulling to bring lover and beloved into total alignment rather than being okay with some asymmetry in our relationship. It's called life. We're all doing it. But there can come a point where we stop, not living, but struggling. There can come a point where we accept what is, embrace the sum of the parts and find balance even in occasional imbalance. This is what I am striving for, and I hope that by sharing what I'm experiencing you will reflect on ways to do the same.

Wishing you peace, love and fulfillment, friends.

A lesson in being present (Originally published 9/21/11)

How foolish we are, as a species, generally speaking? We go about our lives believing we have unlimited time on this earth, believing we're somehow entitled to the privilege of simply breathing and existing, believing our pain, joy, circumstances, you name it, to be greater than that of others. How is this so, when in truth, all we really have is the present moment and the very breath we are drawing in it? Moreover, that breath is the same as the one everyone else is drawing too. Fools we are!

I do not set myself apart. I am among the billions who feel a sense of entitlement to this life, with all its luxuries and abundance. I find myself all too often caught in the trap of believing things will last, indefinitely if not forever, even though I completely subscribe to the fact that this is a falsehood. Though objectively speaking I know myself to be inherently no better nor worse than any other of my fellow humans, in moments my own experience is the biggest, most all-encompassing, all-pervading matter in existence. And then something happens. . . a turn of events, a passage in a book, a word from a friend, and my perspective shifts back into focus. I am reminded that it has been my ego clouding my judgment, obscuring my focus, temporarily blinding me from what is real.

What's real is yesterday I served as foreperson on a jury that found a young man guilty of obtaining his citizenship in the United States through fraud. The fraud was checking "no" to a box that he should have checked "yes" to. Had he completed the form a week earlier in his life, "no" would have been the correct answer, and he would have retained the right to remain in the country where he has been since six years of age, the country where is life and family reside. Later I learned that someone I love dearly lost someone that they love dearly, a woman who has known me since birth and who passed suddenly, without specific illness, without any drama. Yes, she was elderly and had lived a full life, but the point is simply how from one moment to the next everything changed without warning. Then I went on to find out this morning that my treasured friend, a role model, a fairy grandmother of sorts, is facing down a battle with cancer for the second time in a year.

None of these three people was likely going about their days, breathing each breath, with the thought in the front of their minds that it could be their last or that their life could dramatically change in the blink of an eye. I am not suggesting this foreboding mentality as a means of living a happy and a healthy life. What I am suggesting is that we, and that includes me, would all be best served to incorporate more presence of mind and gratitude into our everyday. As the saying goes, "be here now". (Thank you Ram Dass!) While I sat with C. today and told him about the events that had transpired, our conversation meandered to a point where he shared that he is bound and determined to give his full attention to whoever or whatever he was focused on in any moment. At that particular moment it was me, so when I inquired after his plans for the day and another friend, he responded by saying he wasn't thinking of any of that. He was thinking of me. He was there with me in that moment and nothing else mattered.

That's music to any lover's ears, of course, to know that your beloved is giving you their full and undivided attention. Yet, today, for me there was more to his words than that. It was the recognition that while there are moments for multi-tasking and there are certain roles and responsibilities we have that never fall away, that doesn't preclude us from making the conscious choice to say I am going to focus on the present 100%. The present really is everything. It is all that we have. At some point we will all see our last sunrise, dance our last dance, swim in the ocean for the last time, gaze into our lover's eyes and kiss their lips for a final time, give our children one last embrace. It is not for us to know when the last of anything will be. It is for us to make each and every one of them count for precisely that reason. Many of us believe this in theory. We've read it in some new age/spiritual/self help book or heard it spoken in some similar seminar. But theory and practice are so often different. In this case, I don't believe they should be. So in my life I vow to bridge that divide, to eliminate the difference, and to be as present to every precious, blessed moment as possible. If that is my life's work then it will be a worthwhile one in my esteem.

My humble appreciation and abiding gratitude for all the ways in which the Universe and the messengers it has sent have shared this lesson with me.

Memories of my father (Originally published 9/10/11)

It's been more than two years since my father died, at age 59. I was the one holding his hand as he took his final breath. I didn't cry instantaneously. I stood there, very still, with one hand on his chest, now still as still could be, the other hand on my own. I remember feeling a sensation of peace, then it was just a bit eerie, then I turned around and marched out of the room to find a hospice nurse. My concern shifted toward my mother, asleep on a nearby sofa. I woke her and broke the news and then the tears came. We held each other, we stood with him, we prayed. I cried a lot over the loss of my father that morning, but not very often since.

I began to believe I wasn't sentimental. I began to believe not shedding tears for the man who helped bring me into this life meant I didn't have overt tenderness in my heart for him. We'd had a pretty tumultuous relationship for many of our years together, and though we really came a long way in the end, and he passed with our bond as solid as ever, I came to believe that my father's absence from my adult life was something that I could deal with just fine, thank you. I may have forgiven but I hadn't truly forgotten the rifts and the pain that had existed between us for so long. So imagine my surprise when I recently began to see that what I had forgotten was just how much I really, really loved this imperfectly perfect man, and just how sentimental I can be when it comes to him.

My father showed up in a dream. It wasn't my dream, rather, the dream belonged to C., my relatively new love and someone who only knows my father through my words and the odd photo. I didn't ask what the dream was about. It didn't seem necessary. As a firm believer in most things spiritual and intuitive, I just took this information in and trusted that the deeper meaning or purpose would reveal itself in due time. Shortly thereafter I sat down to channel with a dear friend of mine who has a gift for being a conduit for soul messages. My focus was all about C. We've been together for several months now, but I hadn't channeled him and I was chomping at the bit to hear from his soul, and to ask about our soul connection. (If this seems really far out there and hard to grasp for some of you, I can understand. I invite you to channel for yourselves and see if that doesn't change your perspective.) As I sat there alternately nodding in agreement and beaming from sheer delight to receive messages about the incredible power and depth of the bond I share with the man now occupying center stage in my life, it occurred to me to inquire just what the man who had been center stage for a large portion of my life was doing showing up in C's dream.

In came my father's soul, elated to speak to me this way. I hadn't channeled him in many, many months. And spiritual though I may be in my own ways, I scarcely recall my dreams and have no identifiable ability for channeling soul messages myself. Combine that with the fact that, as I mentioned, I'd declared myself largely without sentiment on the subject of my deceased father, and one could understand, if you believe in such things, that he'd be extremely happy to have this chance to connect with me. He came to C. both as a means of reaching me, but also to check C. out for himself and to have the experience of "visiting" someone who would be consciously receptive. Crazy stuff, huh?!?! But it didn't phase me. It made sense. And it warmed my heart to hear my father's soul's obvious enthusiasm over the experience. It was a transformational one for him, and he could readily understand why I am so drawn to C. He was happy for me, happy for us.

In the weeks since then memories of my father have begun to surface at the most unexpected moments in the most unexpected ways. On a leisurely drive with C. I recalled motorcycle rides by the beach, scuba diving outings and other adventures my father and I shared back in the day. Some silent tears fell as I felt my heart soften toward my dad. While clearing out my closet and drawers for a clothing swap with friends today, I accidently sent crashing to the ground one of the oldest possessions I have, a gift from my father. It was a hand painted eggshell, insides removed as if by magic, fragile and beautiful, sitting in its glass enclosure. I must have been five or six-years old when he gave it to me, and somehow, and for reasons I never fully understood, I kept it for all these years. When it shattered, I felt shattered. I froze as if suspended in air for a moment, then fell to my knees as hysterical sobs gripped me. What was this sentiment? Where was this emotion coming from? I missed my dad. For all that he wasn't, for all that I didn't like or understand about him, he was mine, he always tried to be there for me and he loved me with everything he had.

I could say that he is gone now, but that is only a partial truth. Physically, yes. On a soul level and in my heart, no. He is with me. And as C. reminded me when we spoke, post-egg shattering, smack in the middle of my flood of tears, I haven't lost anything. The egg is just a thing. The egg is not my father. The egg is not my memories. So while it is understandably sad that this beautiful object my father gave me now sits in pieces, my feelings toward him and my ability to sense him seem to have been strengthened as a result. He just gave me a wonderful lesson in detachment, a wonderful lesson in love.

Wherever you are, dad, I know you are with me. Thank you. All my love for all eternity.

Through the looking glass (Originally published 8/16/11)

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Chances are it is quite different from what those looking from an outside perspective are seeing. For better or worse, we are not the most objective creatures on the planet. Whether too critical or overly inflated, our perception of our own self tends to vary from how others see us. This makes it all the more interesting when we find ourselves in relationships with people who share some of our same key qualities or quirks. When you look out through your own eyes and see yourself in another it has the potential to be a powerful and transformational force, again, for better or worse.

I've marveled at friendships I've had with people who share so many similarities with me, often wondering how we haven't managed to drive each other a little crazy over the years. I've found equal fascination with relationships I hold with people so dissimilar from me in pretty key areas, admiring how our differences serve to enhance each of our respective life experiences. Of course there are those relationships where the similarities or differences just seemed to be too great, too much somehow, for us to maintain a peaceful and lasting exchange. All these combinations are what makes the world go round. And to me none is quite so intriguing as the people we fall in love with and how this "looking glass" phenomena manifests within those relationships.

I gave quite a bit of attention to the differences between C. and I in my last post. I am definitely my own woman just as he is his own man. We have a plethora of dissimilar experiences and characteristics between us, yet we also have some really eery similarities. I'll focus right now on what some would consider the less desirable personality traits because it is there that the real work and the real benefit of such an intimate relationship are found. C. and I are both highly sensitive, super emotional and know how to use words with extremely pointed purpose. This may not sound like a list of awful characteristics on its surface, but when combined under just the right, or better, the wrong, circumstances, you have yourself a cocktail for one seriously explosive dynamic. We hurt easily, finding ourselves provoked at times by the slightest misstep, elevated tone of voice or unrealized expectation. And when that happens, hurt, and the fear it brings along with it, can wrap themselves up in anger, lashing out at the cause of the pain. Objectively, we both know this isn't particularly healthy, helpful or logical. We know that it really just brings more pain to everyone involved. Yet it is seeing this tendency in the other that seems to really be driving home for each of us just how much we need and want to sublimate it.

To see the man I love in any sort of pain is torture for me. So I start to really look at it, analyze it, dissect it every which way in hopes of understanding what is at play so I can help him not feel pain. In doing that, I simply cannot overlook that much of what I see happening within him happens within me as well. It is kind of unnerving really, in that it can make you wonder how you've gone so long with unhealthy patterns in your life and not quite known just how significant they were. In addition to loving the heck out of each other, sharing in all the joy and wonder that comes with soul connection, an intimate relationship like ours is also about supporting one another in becoming our very best self. We must first see ourselves clearly in order for that to happen, but since that can be easier said than done in certain instances, seeing ourselves reflected in the other is one of The Universe's clever little tricks for allowing the process of growth and self realization to unfold.

I feel such gratitude to be with someone as self aware as I am so we can share in this human experience together. Yes, it can be a little frustrating at first, and absolutely humbling, when you see the less-than-pretty parts of yourself held up right before your eyes in that proverbial mirror. But when you see them in someone you love, it helps you to love yourself a little more too, and to hopefully be a little more patient, compassionate and empathetic, both inwardly and outwardly. This really is one of the great rewards of our most sacred relationships, according to me anyway. So for all the reasons why I give thanks that C. is in my life, on the list is that he shares some of my negatives and that we get to help each other turn them into positives. I hope you can try to see things from this vantage point with the ones you love most, and be a little kinder toward both yourself and them in the spirit of being your best selves!

Our love runs deeper than skin (Originally published 8/6/11)

I didn't intend to fall in love, not in the traditional sense anyway. I'd been there and done that more than once. It had served its purpose, and I was really feeling like it was time for me to just be me, just do me, for a while. A little dating here and there? Sure. But a serious relationship? No, not really. That's what I thought anyway. That's what I said. And then there he was.

He wrote me a message that was so eloquent and soulful that I had to take notice. I had never met a man with such a mastery of words, and self proclaimed "word nerd" that I am, this immediately drew me in. He was deep, REALLY deep. But it wasn't just how he was saying things that caught my attention. It was the what. Consciousness, destiny, self realization, spirituality, meditation, life's purpose, soul connection. These are the things that he wrote of, and that we spoke of, since the moment we first came into one another's life. His words could have easily been my own, and mine his. It was as if we shared the same mind, and now I know that in many ways we do, just as we share the same heart.

But there are differences. His more introverted Scorpio ways to my extroverted Aquarius ones. My vegetarianism to his meat-loving. His preference for that "lived in" feel in our home to my preference for neat and tidy order. My wide social circle to his selectively curated one. His black skin to my white. Our love runs deeper than all of this. Our love runs deeper than skin.

I point out the difference in our skin color more so than any other area where we vary because after a few months spent as part of an interracial couple, I have come to understand, from an insider's perspective, that in some ways this is a really big deal. I'm stating the obvious by saying that it doesn't much matter to me what color my lover's skin is, seeing as how I am the white girl dating the black guy. But there is more to it than that. Being with C., I have begun to peel back the curtain to glimpse a culture, a world really, that exists all around me without my ever having really known it. He and I grew up a town apart, a grade apart in school here in south Florida. We both have powerful minds, love the ocean, have strong parental instincts and inclinations, get lost in our writing, are intense personalities and are fiercely loyal to the ones we love. We even share some of the less than pleasant traits, like being moody, temperamental and wanting things our way at times. Yet for all these similarities, for all the reasons why we believe whole-heartedly that we are tailor-made for one another, we cannot change that fact that we've grown up so differently, often see the world differently and are treated by the world differently, just because I'm that white girl and he's that black guy. It is a constant source of amazement to me, when we look at the same situation through the eyes of our varied perspectives and have the chance to learn from each other. And it is a constant source of amusement when other people's eyes linger a little too long or stare a little too hard, at the sight of us. It never struck me as a big deal to see a mixed-race couple, but apparently even in the year 2011 in the melting pot that is America, we're still something to take notice of in some people's estimation.

Let them look! I certainly intend to. As I look, I learn and I am inspired. I love seeing our skin contrasting against one another when our fingers interlace as we walk hand in hand. I love that for as classy, intelligent, articulate and gracious as C. is, he can turn on the street vibe effortlessly and seamlessly at any moment, adapting to just about any setting and any company we are in. I love that we constantly share things with the other that are new and unknown, whether it be the music we listened to growing up to a favorite food to a place around town that one of us knows and loves yet has been entirely off the other's radar, until now. I am blessed with this amazing love, this amazing man, this amazing experience of an exercise in cultural sensitivity right in my own home, literally. It is so incredible to me. Our love runs so much deeper than our skin, down through every cell and to our souls. And we have our differences, particularly our different skin colors, to thank in part for what makes our union so intriguing and interesting, so I embrace it all.

I suspect that many a post in this blog will be informed by the experience of my relationship, of all that I am witnessing, learning and becoming. I know for certain all my posts will be inspired by my love, because this love is so powerful, so all-pervading, that it truly does color my entire world and perspective on life. So join me for this journey, and feel free to share with me about your own. Blessings to you all.