A Fork in the Road

 

If you’ve been following along this journey for the past couple of years, you know I’ve made some major life changes. Divorced, moved, lost a great deal of weight then faced health challenges, and finally, and quietly, welcomed an amazing man into my life, an event I neither anticipated nor actively pursued. But it happened. Now, sitting here on the first day of the year that will see me turn 50, I have once again felt a calming resolve that this year will be the year I take my journey in a new direction.

As I stood over the stove making breakfast, it was suggested I was going to too much trouble. How confusing…it is in my kitchen where I feel most relaxed. I love to cook and bake, creating a dish simply with flavor is one of my most treasured activities. Being in the kitchen, and in particular, this kitchen, brings back memories of my Grandmothers’ kitchens, so very different in design and function from each other, each teaching me unique culinary skills. On reflection, these hearts of the home were my first classrooms. I learned to read by searching the neatly labeled jars for the correct ingredient to bring to the prep space on the white Hoosier cabinet in my Dad’s mother’s kitchen. Estimation, weights, substitutions, and straight from the farmyard resourcefulness were practiced and perfected around a crackling woodstove and well-worn and oiled farmhouse table, lovingly built by my Mother’s father in his workshop. At times, I am convinced I was born in the wrong era; at heart, I am convinced I am a pioneer, plunked down by happenstance in the heart of my city.

The kitchen is also where I create my candles and other products. There is such satisfaction in turning out a new lip balm or solid lotion that soothes the skin naturally. The creative process pushes me to blend and calculate, inhale and sample each batch, exploring how to make each successive recipe closer to all natural and wholesome. It’s a learning curve. Recently I’ve dragged a small folding chair to the kitchen beside my great-grandmother’s prep table, allowing me a place to rest an aching back or simply pause and reflect with a cup of tea in hand or a pen and journal at the ready to capture thoughts and observations for my novel. It occurs to me as I flip bread in the pan that I seem to be taking on some of the traits and goals of my main character; perhaps I am just realizing that I’ve written her from my subconscious more than I had intended.

So while stirring the sun-dried tomatoes into the translucent onions that formed the base of this morning’s scrambled eggs, a vision of my ideal life began to form in my head, playing out around me like a hologram I am watching from the corner. So many details need to be put onto paper for a reality-check. I’m not prepared to share just yet…to cast these thoughts and dreams out now would be as awkward for me as it would be for me continually post selfies on social media. Fine for others, just not for me. Although it could reasonably be suggested that my writing is my version of a selfie…fair enough. Oh, in time, there will be a “reveal” when there is a stop along my journey I feel is ready to share as a lesson learned. But for this moment, my “share” is this: we are never too old to stand at the fork in the road and chose, by heart, by faith, or wonder, to step with excitement, resolve, and even a touch of fear onto a path that has faint tracks of those whom have traveled before.

Happy travels wherever the road may lead you in 2016!

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What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?

Such a great message at service this morning; a couple of themes or comments stood out that helped me pull together a few topics I’ve had drafted for a while, but just couldn’t get to gel. This first was helped along by the children’s service, and a question that was put to them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Please feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear about challenges you may have had with trying something new, or returning to something once loved yet discarded.

 

Ever have one of those moments, periods, where you just don’t have a clue what you’re thinking? Trying to get the words out is a struggle…you don’t feel as if there is any good reason to be “conflicted”, yet that’s exactly what you are. I’m reaching a stage in my career where I am no longer certain it is 100% satisfying. Don’t get me wrong; I love working with my students at this school in particular. I can’t see myself teaching anywhere else, and I absolutely love teaching the subjects I do: the combination of science, math, design…it suits me completely to encourage the students to take risks, make mistakes, and grow their understanding. But does it “complete me” the way I believed it once did? I don’t think it does. There seems to be this nagging impression that I need to create and share that need to create, especially with my students. Why now? Why am I only just starting to feel drawn toward the more creative side of myself: to encourage, explore, and grow my own artistic side?

I think about what makes me smile at the moment (apart from seeing “Bruce” at the end of a long day). Friends, family…they all put a smile on my face. Even more than that though is the satisfaction I get from creating something, whether it is a blog post, short story, new candle scent, or a great dish for dinner. I find myself more frequently running my hands over old pieces of furniture, neglected and battered, and imagining how they could come to life; I used to do this all the time, reviving and repurposing cast-off pieces. In the past, whenever I’ve become frustrated with where I am in life or the moment, I have taken a step back and closed myself in with my thoughts or my creations. Now though, I have a very special someone in my life who is interested in this side of me, who listens to my quirky ramblings that I’m certain make no sense at all at times, and who pushes me to explore these urges. Not to say that my ex was not supportive, but it was different; we were in a different place in our lives.

I think I look at these interests in a different light now; no longer do I think in terms of an amusing little hobby, but rather as veering off the original career path. It’s scary if I’m honest, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am meant to do this. How does one go about this though? Let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken; I have grown up expenses and responsibilities…or do I? My children are, for all intents and purposes, grown. I have no real debts beyond rent, utilities, and medical expenses (ah, the joys of aging). But my savings were depleted in the divorce, and my retirement fund took a hit. How much does it take to make me feel secure financially? What do I need in order to not just survive, but thrive? I think this is where I’m stuck, where fear takes over and prevents me from just diving in, taking the massive risk, throwing caution to the wind, and doing it. For the majority of my adult life, I chased dollars and status; I equated a fat bank account with security and happiness. It wasn’t until I lost essentially everything that I questioned that thinking. What does it take now to make me happy, to feel content, to experience the satisfaction of a job well done, to smile?

 

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t know how this will ultimately end. But I do know that if I limit myself to only thinking about how to do this, I will remain right where I am, wishing I could do something differently. I’ll check back in about this as I make decisions (or have them made for me), but I promise to share the steps along the way. I know I’m not the only person who struggles with these emotions, or wishes his or her life was going a different direction. I may not be completely confident in what will happen or how this will turn out, but I am confident enough in myself to share these insecurities and my attempts to start a new life. If reading these struggles gets someone else thinking about their life and level of satisfaction with it, then I will be satisfied that the struggle to talk about it, was worth it.

Part 1, Becoming Me: Hiding publicly

This post series may be a bit difficult for some of you to read…or stomach…or even believe. I’m even going to preface this series with a disclaimer: there is absolutely no disrespect, ill-will, or anything else intended to be deliberately disparaging in it towards my ex. He is happy now as am I, and I joyfully want that to continue. I will touch on some issues we had as a couple, and perhaps he (if he actually reads this), will accept this as an “exit interview” and take some of the observations in the spirit intended…as my own personal views and interpretations. No one else’s. Now on with the show…

 

Unless you’ve been under a virtual rock, or had a life, or are new to the blog, or [insert any one of a million valid reasons], then you’re aware that I am at a real crossroads in my life, and a very happy place that is to travel. When the ex and I officially separated in January 2014, it was a complete “non-event”: no wailing and howling or dish-throwing. True, tons of glares exchanged lines of sight, but that was about it. But I made a decision in an instant, that from that day forward I was going to be myself, own my feelings, be unapologetic for my beliefs, and do what made me happy. To some this may sound wholly selfish; for me, it was a matter of reclaiming myself.

 

One of the first things I started doing was writing again; it’s been one of the best decisions I could have made for me. I had an outlet for my creativity, in addition to the candle making, and it felt wonderful to put “fingers to keyboard” so to speak. This was more than a diary or a journal; this was a sharing of my soul at times…perhaps a bit exhibitionist one may believe, but let’s be honest, without that bit of narcissistic belief that someone other than ourselves is interested in what we have to say, there would be no books ever written. There is something that drives a writer to publicly commit their thoughts, ideas, dreams, fears to a public airing and open themselves to criticism. Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment and pain, as it is painful to hear/read that someone judges our heart’s blood to be…heaven forbid…drivel. After all, “it” meant enough to us to agonize over a single phrasing of a sentence for hours or days before releasing it for public consumption; how dare someone else proclaim it unworthy of a read much less a second thought? But, as surely as there is cream and sugar in my coffee, I will continue to write and put my thoughts out there for your review. No longer do I have a fear of rejection of this part of me, regardless of what views I express, when I sit down with the keyboard in my lap. The only agony connected to my writing now is in reigning myself in sufficiently to avoid using the real names of those characters who now write my life’s scripts. I love them all, and it is my choice to not bring their true identities into the telling of my tales.

 

Case in point. I’ve skirted around many of the details surrounding the relationship between “Bruce” and I, and will continue to do so; I may share some of our conversations, but more in the manner of sharing things we have learned or believe in the spirit of hoping that it may encourage someone else in their journey. For a bit, I was annoyed that “Bruce” didn’t want to make us “Facebook Official”, meaning, changing our respective statuses to read “In a relationship with…”. My old self-esteem immediately assumed he was hiding something, such as me or another girlfriend(s). I was ready to share my joy with anyone dumb enough to be in earshot or visual range as the case may be. But in his calm, unflappable manner, he took my face in both his hands for a sweet kiss, hugged me tight, then explained,

 

“I want this to be about us right now. No one else’s opinions or suggestions or comments. Just us. If something happens and we decide to back up the U-Haul*, people would feel the need to take sides, and I don’t think either of us want that.”

*backing up the U-Haul: our phrase for going our separate ways

 

We still comment and like each other’s posts on Facebook, but we don’t directly say we are dating each other. We have had a bit of fun with my status, changing it from “single” to “It’s complicated”, as in, he is a fan of American football, and me a fan of real football (a.k.a. soccer). Or complicated because he is “Bruce Wayne”…just plain silliness bourne out of my need to call him something. I’m sure we’ll make a quiet status change to real names before much longer, but for now, this has been a bit of fun.

 

I finally understood his need for privacy on social media was in a manner of speaking, a showing of respect and protection of “us”. We have since allowed a select group of friends in on our secret. They’ve been very respectful of our wishes. We’ve met each other’s family, visit with his folks regularly, hung out with our kids together, and even had our parents join us together for a relaxed dinner out while my dad was in town. I was very fortunate to have loved my ex’s parents while they were still alive, and I am equally fortunate to adore Bruce’s parents. Lovely, lovely people…as is apparently everyone related to Bruce. Amazing folks. But what I find so refreshing with Bruce is his attentiveness to me in the presence of our friends and family…yes, even in front of my lovingly intimidating and protective father! For me, this was missing from my marriage, and it’s partially my fault for not speaking up more clearly perhaps that I needed this: this public acknowledgement that yes, we are together, yes, there is a bond here, and yes, the man with me feels lovingly protective and proud of me enough to put his arm around me or give me a quick public kiss. Nothing mushy or sloppy or hugely demonstrative…just a quick “I love you and I’m glad to be with you.”

I had another “yes, this is going good places” moment this morning along those lines when we passed an elderly couple walking on the side of the road, holding hands. At the same moment, we both sighed and let out an “Awww”. I once told my ex upon seeing an exceptionally older couple, in their 80’s perhaps, out for a stroll holding hands, “That. That’s what I want.” He had no reply or comment at all at the time, but after our split, he brought up that moment, and said his heart dropped when I said that while watching the sweet pair walk along the water, hand in hand, heads bent together laughing over a shared memory perhaps. Might have been my hair standing on end though that amused them, who knows. He said almost sadly I think, that he just couldn’t do that. As I told Bruce this story, I confessed that the night of our first date, when I “accidentally” brushed his arm and he reached out to take my hand, that the accidental klutzy move was really a “test”. Had he pulled away, it would have been a deal breaker. Then and there. I will never spend my time investing in a relationship with someone who is afraid I might have cooties. I never expected him to actually reach out and take my hand and heart in his in that one split second, three hours into our first date, but he did.

 

He hasn’t let go yet, and it is the most amazing feeling.

 

Coming in Part 2, Becoming me: what is intimacy?

A Time for Knowing: Drafted June 5, 2014 at 7:22am

I thought I had published this one…apparently not.  It dates back to early June, nearly 6 weeks ago.  It still is very much a description of me, perhaps even more so than ever.  I challenged “Bruce Wayne” earlier this week with the prospect of being in a relationship with a writer..that we just aren’t “normal”.  Everything that happens to us impacts us, but we’ve got to learn to get it in check to avoid hurting those around us who perhaps didn’t sign on to be part of our story, while still remaining true to our hearts and needs.  He simply responded that it is part of who I am, and that it is part of what attracts him to me.  Crazy person….I’m dating a crazy person…and loving every minute of it. Enjoy!

June 5, 2014

This is me, as naked and laid bare as it gets for a writer; I am sharing a work in progress.  It will change; it will morph, but I’m laying this out there to share a process.  I am strong enough in my feelings to allow you to watch.  I know that only those who know me best, will understand how I can share a process like this.  I know my fellow artists/writers may question my sanity.  I need to do this. 

 

 

I didn’t sleep a great deal last night following a brief, yet intense storm. It wasn’t a violent storm, but it had moments of demanding thunder, brilliant lightning, and steady purifying rain. The episode moved me to write an intensely personal piece. As someone who must write as surely as I must breathe, this unleashes an almost palpable pain.  Years of not writing interrupted by a torrential flow of thoughts and emotions is as excruciating a release as cramped muscles screaming in painful protest after sitting in hard-backed chair for too long: it was necessary to do to accomplish a task, but the end of that torture is exquisite.

 

As I write again, I am quietly aware of a flood of emotions, all competing for attention.  Which will I acknowledge; which will I ask to wait patiently? Which is certain to be ignored, if only for a little while?  Joy, sorrow, faith, doubt, trust, jealousy, love, apathy…these all jostle for time in my mind and heart. There is no better way to describe these qualities than yin-yang.  In the Chinese culture, yin-yang refers to two complementary forces: not precisely opposites, but complements.  There is no darkness without light; these forces all must co-exist, in order to exist. The yang, or “sunny” of these if you will,  can leave me breathless with their intensity; I crave them more as I experience them in their various forms. The yin, “shady” complement of these, at times leave me confused.  I want the yang of life! Why should I have to accept the yin as well?

 

In order to appreciate the sun, it is necessary to also know the night.

 

It strikes me that I may not be quite as simple a person as I thought. True, you don’t get much plainer than “let’s cook at home/take a walk/paint a wall/read a book/play in the rain/go to the thrift store”, but it will take someone truly gifted, and even more patient than I am, I think, to accept my need to express my thoughts and observations.  Right now, they are raw and reflecting where I have been; a river overflowing its banks after a storm.  It will subside, but who will flee, afraid of the power and intensity?  What remains to be seen, is who will stay, confident with the wisdom that the excess water will return to its source, once again flowing on its gentle path.  The river is beautiful in its grace, giving life, supporting life, bending around obstacles to continue on its journey. I hope that I too, will return to my banks, more gentle yet fuller, than I was only months ago.  I’ll overflow my banks again in time, of that I’m certain.  But I hope that this time, there will be someone along to patiently wait out the fury as I grow.

Oxytocin vs Dopamine: A Tale of Two Loves

This post has been trying to hit the page since Monday night, but its timeliness hit me with such force I had to catch my breath first.  I subscribe to a few yoga, Buddhism, and “New Age” sorts of blogs, and there is one that always seems to have something spiritual crossed with science.  Being a bit of a geek, but a free-spirit at the same time…well, I really enjoy this one. The topic of the webinar was “Love, Sex, and Yoga”.  Ok, you’ve got my attention.

 

Here is a link to the webinar in case you’re interested.  http://lifespa.com/webinar-love-sex-yoga/?inf_contact_key=c13677e407f8f769ebf0e1b57031f5b06eb06ceba82a5f61f88a7fc32bb99c06

 

If you aren’t into Ayurveda or yoga, some of the terms will seem quite hysterical or just plain bizarre, but that’s okay; I’ll try to sum up some of what I heard/learned in more simple terms as we work through this. Ready? You’ll have to endure the backstory first; bear with me. This is some deep shiznit….

 

If you’ve been keeping up with the rekindling of this blog/my journey, you are aware that I am now technically still separated, but right at the edge of finalizing my divorce from my husband of 29 years.  Loads of reasons, some will be implied, but I’ll try very hard to refrain from placing blame either side, as truly, it rarely ever is one-sided.  The marriage ended, for me, emotionally, about 5 years ago with a major event on his part.  I absolutely hit rock bottom then, and I spent the next 8 or 9 months in therapy to figure out why and how to fix it.  But instead of learning how to repair a broken relationship with my spouse, I learned a far more valuable lesson: how to fix the relationship with myself.  I cried more than I’ve ever cried, was angrier, more indecisive, more disappointed, more every negative emotion you can come up with…then I started to take the therapy sessions to heart and really listened.  I did hear him challenge me to answer honestly, but I finally listened to what he wanted me to know.  Mainly, that this marriage was probably over, but that if I was ever going to have a snowball’s chance in Hades of having a healthy relationship in the future, I had to get honest with myself…I had to acknowledge every shitty thing that happened in the marriage as it came to my mind, ask myself what my role was in it, decide how to not do that again, then let it go and move on.  Oh yeah, and while I was at it, wake up every morning and do two things:

 

1. Forgive myself and my ex and,

2. Make a checklist of who I am, what I need to be happy, and what that would look like.

 

Shit, he didn’t want much from me, did he?

 

But I did…over the next few years I started working on my own version of these, as well as a flow chart of progression of a relationship.  My therapist shook his head and laughed out loud with me at the daughter-of-an-engineer’s approach, but he let me own it.  Goes a bit like this:

 

  • Like: You like someone or something, but you could take it or leave it.  It/they don’t typically cross your mind unless you put direct effort into it.
  • Want: You are interested in something/someone, would like to have/experience it, but you don’t require it in order to live. Bit of fun. Nice to experience, but not on the Bucket List.
  • Need: Now we’re getting deeper.  The choices of needs are fewer, and you are more selective.  Without it, life would be more challenging or unpleasant.  You think about it often and create goals in order to achieve it. You cannot see yourself as complete without it.
  • Love: Absolutely must have/do/be with.  A choice to the exclusion of all others (isn’t that the most Unromantic B.S. you’ve ever read in your life?  Yeah…it really was).  Not certain you can breathe without it.

 

As I type these words even now, I’m laughing at myself…how I thought of these.  I still think somewhat in terms of this progression, but I experience it so differently now.  At the time though, I also worked on what it might look like to fall in love again.  I thought he (therapist) was an ass for making me work through this too, but I did it anyway.  I won’t share that partly because it has evolved the most, yet started off the most concrete of the checklists.  I just knew I would be in love if I could check X percentage of items on this list.  As I worked through this list of “me”, I began to realize what he was trying to get me to do: admit to myself what I really wanted in life, from a partner, what I needed in order to be happy and content…and ready for this?

 

…to accept who I am, for what I am, make no apologies for it, be content that I am enough, and to just be satisfied knowing who I am. Celebrate THAT, experience THAT, share THAT, and in time, someone will recognize it in me, and fall in love with the real me.  But if I didn’t love me first, then it was foolish to expect anything but the same shit results again.  Powerful stuff…about like being smacked in the face with Truth.  Painful.  Enlightening. Liberating. You name it.  I felt it.

 

Some of the things that became even more apparent to me as I stuck a toe back into the dating pool helped me clarify even more what I needed in a relationship.  I have found myself returning more and more to my southern roots and being more proud and comfortable with them.  I truly am a very simple person, needing very little to make me happy and content.  Give me a bit of dirt to dig in, good friends, a faithful dog, the room to grow spiritually in my own way, a fluffy down quilt, a cold Belgian wheat beer and someone to share them with….

 

So that “someone to share them with” bit…as I started meeting up with guys for coffee dates, it became clear that some were looking for fun (that’s cool), some were looking for a replacement for the spouse they no longer had (hummm…replacement, sounds like a recall), or just someone to roll in the sack with (MAYDAY!!!)  And for a couple, I just didn’t click for them, and that was okay too.  No harm, no foul right?  But here is where I seriously took another look at dating…what role did I see sex playing in this new chapter?  I had to sit back and really re-examine this new “concept” for me.  I mean, seriously, I had been completely monogamous throughout the entire marriage.  Completely.  Heart and soul.  It was that important to me, and I took those marriage vows seriously.

 

Here is what I knew in my heart based on now knowing myself; I didn’t want to give myself so completely to someone again without there being a connection of the heart.  Connection in spirit.  I needed to bond with someone, care about them, want to care for them, and have them not be “in it to win it” so to speak.  I believe I have a gift to give someone, the gift of me, my heart and spirit, and I was not willing to just toss those parts of me out the window for a cheap thrill.  But how was I going to tell the difference between a deeper connection, love, and its yin: lust?  I figured I would pull out the handy-dandy checklist and start mentally keeping score.  It helped to be honest.  I could remind myself that while, heck yeah the guy on the other side of the table was easy on the eyes or saying all the right things, there wasn’t that real want to know more.  Things didn’t go from “like” to “want”, and I am thankful.

 

I continued to share on Facebook my journey to rediscovering myself, my fears when I had a health scare, things that made me laugh, the massive weight loss on what I affectionately call the “Happy Diet”.  Life was good.

 

Then out of the blue.  I got a private message.  On Facebook.  From a former high school alum.  My life got flipped.  This guy reached out with such a simple, from the heart honest message: he had spoken to my sister in church, and had mentioned how much he enjoyed reading my posts, that he admired my attitude, that I was fast becoming a favorite of his to read.  Oh, cool.  I said thank you, and let it stay at that.

 

A week later, I had been having a bit of an “off” kind of day for a multitude of reasons…none really worth getting excited about. I looked for a positive to pull me out of the funk, and there was the earlier conversation. I had not deleted it for some reason so I replied back that I had a bit of a down day, and had read his note to give me a boost, and thanked him for it.  Shoot, if someone makes you smile, and they don’t know, I figure they ought to know they’ve done something good, right?  He replied back quickly, and the rest as they say, is history.  We’ll skip all the in between chatter that led to the first date, but that first date went from first coffee to first dinner to first kiss over the course of an afternoon and evening.  Whoa.  Pull back and regroup.

 

I’m going to fast-forward again a bit, to the main topic of this post.  Perhaps in time, I’ll share more of the getting to know you stage if you think it may help you connect with someone, but for now, that’s all ours. So when do you know, I mean really know in this ultra-jacked up fast-paced society, that sex should become part of your dating ritual?  Conundrum…I mean, here was this absolutely amazing guy, treating me like a princess/lady, respecting all the boundaries I was throwing out there, but at the same time, eliciting a response from me I didn’t think was possible…or at least, I had told myself wasn’t possible.  How the heck did he do that?

 

We had a very frank discussion about sex beyond the “can you get pregnant” and “are you clean” (we have spent a lot of time sharing our histories…no judgment implied).  I ventured into my thoughts on sex, that I believed for me, sex needed to be the ultimate expression of my caring, bonding, and giving of myself to someone.  That while it may physically feel really good, and some would argue that sex is a basic animal urge (which I don’t disagree with in principle) that I had to know that this was not a one-nighter.  I wasn’t asking for a ring and a promise of the altar in exchange for all of me, but rather a knowledge that giving myself would be met with the respect and understanding of the commitment from me that it would mean.

 

If he was going to run for the hills, this was certainly the time to do it…no call came from a “friend” to rescue him from a flat tire at an awkward moment…no sudden need to write a report or head to the gym.  There was simply, understanding.  He understood, and said it might be tough, since he is a guy and all that (said with this whole face smile he does so well…lights up a room…seriously), but that he completely understood and would respect my needs.  So here it was, I had laid out bare my thoughts on needing to bond, connect, touch, laugh, share, be with this man, and he was still texting and calling throughout the day.  There was, and still is, a somewhat animal urge that creeps up on me at times…I love to bury my face in his chest and just breathe him in… He said perhaps the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard when he hugged me in the kitchen.  He put his chin on top of my head and said, “I love how you just fit perfectly here.”  Nearly melted, died on the spot.  I mean honestly.  This guy has a quirky obsession with Star Trek, loves all things sci-fy, yet is as big a gentleman and romantic as they come.  Awwww…

 

So are we in fact, in love?  That’s an excellent question.  I know that if I should wake up tomorrow to his voice telling me that it was time to continue our journeys apart, I would be terribly sad for a bit, but would genuinely wish him well and be grateful for the amazing memories, as well as a fantastic time spent reaffirming that I am worth someone’s attention and affection.  He made me believe by being so freely giving of himself, that I deserve to be pampered and that all roads do not in fact, lead to instant gratification and sex.  He will always hold a special place in my heart for that.  So, I would say that we love each other as we would any other fellow human we care about. But as for having reached the level of love that is reserved for the person who completes you, then no, we aren’t there. If that love comes, it will come when it is ready, and when we are both ready.

 

So where do the oxytocin and dopamine mentioned in the webinar come into play?  Where was I going with all of this in the first place? Briefly, the webinar explained that the body releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, when the mind and body enter into bonding sorts of activities: actively being kind (specific acts), holding a newborn baby, touching, remembering pleasant events…in short, being kind and available emotionally releases this hormone (which incidentally, our physiology appears to be happy with, regardless of the frequency or duration).  Oxytocin appears to be the hormone we need to take a relationship to the next level.  Now here is the part that stopped me in my tracks.  The speaker said that relationships that start off with sex as a primary focus of the relationship, we in fact tying the act of sex to acceptance.  Sex, releases dopamine, the “addiction” hormone if you will.  It is the feel-good, gotta have more hormone released with thrill seeking, high energy behaviors. When we go straight to sex, we often are looking for that instant high; if we do that as a first response, we are essentially dopamine junkies.  The more we release dopamine, the more of it our bodies require to still get that same sensation, that rush.  It’s why thrill junkies often do more and more dangerous shit until it kills them: they’re hooked. Oh, and awful news of the day…coffee causes us to release trace amounts of dopamine.  Oops….

 

The speaker went on to say that many of us will have those moments or periods in our life where the instant thrill or satisfaction from sexual release is all we want, but that to make a habit of it, makes it hard to retrain the heart and brain that bonding is the ultimate goal; the sex will come as an expression of having bonded so completely with someone that you need to give yourself completely to them, without expecting anything in return, yet knowing that your heart will be returned.

 

How is that for a big ol’ punch in the gut?  The speaker went on to say, that a new relationship that may have started off with early sex, recognized that there may be more to it, still had time to pull back, regroup, and start fresh with oxytocin activities.  Making those the priority would lead to more bonding and develop a need for the bonding…bonding (not “bondage”…get your mind out of the gutter…) is what carries you through life’s ups and downs.  It allows you to trust and love and disagree and forgive without any reservation.  But also of importance, it would allow you to part as friends if that is the path that ultimately proved to be necessary; you would have developed a relationship based on trust and understanding that each is their own person who would be loved and respected for that, not to be molded into what you think you need or want. Go watch the webinar for yourself if you like; understand that he is speaking from an Ayurvedic wisdom and practice and listen for the deeper message and information.

 

So, as I reflect on this post, which has now taken several days to write, I can smile as I think about all the oxytocin I must have bopping around in my brain right now…gardening, cooking, snoozing, spooning and snoozing, relaxing, laughing, smiling….

 

I don’t know about you, but an oxytocin addiction seems like a great one to have….

 

Sun Salutations and Heart Meditations

This one is highly personal and unedited, as there is a deeper spiritual and social issue I want to get to writing before the thoughts leave me.  So please forgive any jumbled words hitting the page before my brain can redirect them.

This morning was beautiful, the sun just beginning to peep through the blinds about 5:30am or so. There was a lovely warm body beside mine, snoring softly. A night of fixing restorative food from the farmer’s market, laughing,  getting introduced to a new (to me) show, and cuddling was ending with me sneaking out from under the covers and heading for the mat.  Before your eyebrows can shoot off the top of your head, you can get the scoop on my views of sex and relationships in the next post that’s in the pipeline.  Simmer down….

I couldn’t resist; I grabbed my mat and meditation pillow and headed outside for the deck. Just the slightest of chill to the air, hitting my shoulders as I unfurled my mat and placed the pillow at the foot of it.  Typically, we try to face the rising sun for morning meditation and sun salutations.  This proved to be a touch challenging, as the sun was coming up in a location in my new home that left me feeling…well…exposed, on the deck.  I eventually came to a compromise, and settled in.

Surprisingly, I was able to get focused  pretty quickly, tuning out the squirrels who were already up and giving mad chase up and down the massive oak out front, there were few cars peeling out around the corners, and even the birds were somewhat lazily rising in song..no urgency to their trills…just joyful awakenings. A few stray thoughts crept in: wonder if I set up the French press last night (nope), I think the new tomato plants would like living in that little corner…I think I’ll try that idea using the brass bed as a yoga/meditation/sitting area in the little “secret” garden. I acknowledged each thought in turn, thanked it for coming to me, and let it go. Then I got down to the business of just being in the moment.  It is truly difficult to describe in words the experience of a positive morning meditation, but when I brought my hands to heart center, to third eye, and back to heart, I was at complete and total peace with myself and my world at the moment.  I rolled into Child’s Pose to start the gentle stretches that would help my twisted spine wake up and release it’s grip on me.  First there is pain, followed by the gentle release of tension.  Working through modified poses, I have my own version of sun salutations governed by what my spine will allow in that moment, and it’s okay. I don’t have a set routine; I roll from pose to pose as feels right, and hold as long as I feel the need.

As I lift hands to heart center one final time, I say prayers for peace, prayers for acceptance of what is, prayers for my sister and niece as they prepare for a missions trip to Costa Rica, prayers for my children and grandchildren, a prayer for my Dad’s health and heart, even a prayer for my ex that he finds contentment and happiness in his new life.  As I lift those prayers skyward, I say a final prayer for the beautiful man asleep inside, that even if he and I should decide at some point to continue our life’s journeys separately, that he finds peace, love, and acceptance that fulfills his heart and faith. I can want for no more than this for him, is for him to be happy and content.

Namaste

New Beginnings….

As you may have surmised, I’ve restarted this blog…again….

This time though, it comes at perhaps the most critical life event I’ve experienced to date: the end of my 29 year marriage.  I’ve written bits and bobs about my life married to a Brit, but in the end, it is that story that will shape the rest of my destination.  I’m not bitter any more; in fact, if I’m painfully honest, it is a relief.  For both of us in fact.  I couldn’t give him what he needed, and I no longer even knew what that was.  He was brutally honest when he said he couldn’t give me what I needed.  Here we separate the “wants” from the “needs”.  For me, “wants” are those things we would like to have, but can live without.  “Needs” on the other hand, are what give us life…what keep us together and let us hold our heads and hearts high when the road gets bumpy.

I needed a partner in life and love, not a companion to bounce business ideas around with.  I needed someone to kiss my forehead and tell me I was beautiful, even when I was dripping sweat from cutting the grass.  I needed someone to laugh with me as I stopped to look at something silly in a shop window, rather than laugh at me.  I needed someone to understand that I am at heart, a very simple country girl, who needs nothing more than her friends and family around her to make her life full.  I needed someone to let me take care of them: cook, pamper, and spoil, but who was excited to return the gift.  In other words, I needed what he couldn’t give.  I know he has needs too, but it is his personal business to ever list those shortcomings, not mine.  I can only own and share what is wholly mine.  He wasn’t a bad person, but he had his faults that were in the end, deal breakers for me.  It just took me 5 long years to accept it, face them, and learn to hold my head up, confident in knowing what I needed to do in order to move forward on my journey.

I’ve now hit the 6 month mark where my divorce can be made official in VA (since all the kids are adults), but this marriage has been emotionally over for 5 years, and I’m ready to share what has transpired in those years to get me where I am today. I hope you will join me as I set off on this new adventure.  I’m sure we will laugh a lot, cry some, pray together, and share coffee and chocolate over these pages.

Namaste, and let the journey begin anew…..

Kim