I’m back – and giving it up to The Buddha

The Buddha

But thing have been a bit crazy. I have had a lot going on and I am still processing some of the drama that’s taking place at home – relationship wise. Until I get myself together – here is an AMAZING re-blog I read on Elephant (elephantjournal.com). This advice is spot on – but what do you expect from the Buddha?

If the Buddha Gave Dating Tips.


Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have the ancient wisdom of the Buddha to guide me through the dating process. I often refer to the book, If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Pathby Charlotte Kasl, PhD, for my relationship-seeking needs.

Thing is, if the Buddha did give dating tips, they might be a little confusing to us modern-day folks. That’s why I’ve put together this CliffNotes version of Charlotte Kasl’s dating tips—each with helpful translations. Turns out, on the spiritual path, the dating tips or “rules” can be surprisingly simple.

1. “When you say goodbye to someone or decide not to see them again, remember you are a moment in their story. Make it a story that doesn’t leave a scar.” Translation: Do whatever it takes to leave on good terms.

2. “Equality doesn’t need to mean that both people earn the same amount of money, have equal status, or are equally good looking. It means they value each other as equals when it comes to making plans, making love or making decisions. They have an equal voice. One does not sacrifice himself, or herself, to the other.” Translation: Equality is not based on statistics. Equality is based on shared values, shared communication and shared self-respect.

3. “In an unequal relationship, because the subordinate mate acquiesces and complies, the dominant one is never challenged to reflect on him- or herself. There is little or no growth, flexibility, or melting into the shared heart—no forming of the “us” bond that brings two people into spiritual union.” Translation: In equal relationships both people are challenged to grow and evolve together, rather than one person always pushing for the other partner’s growth.

4. “Things are always changing—our thoughts, cells, hormones, hairline, consciousness, relationship and the landscape around us. Instead of trying to freeze the present moment and hanging onto it, we need to remember that life is a process of constantly letting go.” Translation: The only constant is change. Every present moment is a chance to embrace the newness and let go of the past.

5. “To be loyal to our journey is to know the rhythm, tone and pulse of our essential inner world—the song that is ours alone. When two people bring the richness of their inner music to each other, they bring the possibility of a new composition, of counterpoint, harmony, voices weaving together creating a magical composition. If we’re disconnected from the music of our essence and attempt to find happiness through another’s song, there will be dependency and a relationship without harmony.” Translation: We must be know and accept who we are fully before we enter a relationship, lest we end up in co-dependency. When two whole people join in a supportive relationship, the results can be magical.

6. “If we have the belief ‘I’ll always be abandoned,’ we create situations where we’ll be abandoned, and forget to notice when people are loyal friends. Our task on the spiritual path is to stop repeating the same old stories and become aware of all the ways we keep proving our stories are true.” Translation: Thoughts become things. Choose to reinvent your story for better results.

7. “We can either bargain, hold back, and hang onto comfort and security, or we can take a deep breath, and say take me, and leap into the fire.” Translation: The risk is often worth it, especially in love.

8. “There are so many dating books with numerous rules about the right thing to do and say when dating. On the spiritual path, the ‘rules’ are simple. Simply ask yourself, am I being guided by spirit or by my rigid ego?” Translation: Ego-driven actions love rules. Spirit needs no rules to guide us.

9. “Ego says I want someone to fill me up. Spirit says I’ll have someone to help me wake up, to challenge my blind spots and be a companion and playmate on the journey. Translation: If we believe and live as already-full beings, we don’t look to others to fulfill us.

10. “Another aspect of loving kindness is to remember that it’s not being free of imperfections that’s crucial to relationships, it’s being honest about our faults and mistakes. When we accept our humanness we become able to apologize (not grovel) for having been rude, insensitive, or dishonest. Our apology to another is a form of compassion to ourselves because it signifies acceptance. This is at the heart of intimacy.” Translation: By honestly accepting our faults and mistakes and apologizing with sincerity, we practice compassion towards ourselves and others.

Quotes excerpted from author Charlotte Kasl, PhD, a practicing therapist and nationally recognized workshop leader for more than 20 years, with lifelong connections to feminism, Buddhism, Quaker practice and Reiki healing. The author of several books including Finding Joy, she lives in Lolo, Montana.

~

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A long goodbye

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It has been a tumultuous few weeks. I did not have to wait in the roller coaster line for too long after all…my mom died on June 9.

It was a remarkably quick and merciful end. She could not really chew anymore and while in the hospital for a UTI, aspirated on some oatmeal and was not found by nurses for an unknown while. By the time they did find her, she was brain damaged and never regained consciousness. Morphine kept her comfortable for a week until she just stopped breathing.

Just stopped. It’s something to see that something as seemingly endless as life – and as powerful as breath – can just cease. A human being goes from a person to a body as easily as water can go from a liquid to a gas. My mom’s essence just floated out of her body.

The big surprise was my own reaction: relief, calm, acceptance. No tears. The best advice I received was just to feel everything and not judge the feelings. I was shocked at how non emotional I felt. I really do think it’s because of the long timeline that comes with dementia. Most of the time, when people die it happens pretty much all at once – they are alive, then they’re dead. With dementia, the dying is very slow, but just as real. My mom’s vital person-hood disappeared bit by bit over a decade.

But I have cried. When my mom took me shopping a few years back and asked me to run her credit card through the reader because she forgot how – I cried. When she told me that she wasn’t sure what was happening to her, but she was frightened – I cried. When she sold her car because she forgot how to drive – I cried. When my dad would call me frantic because she ran away (again) or told someone when wouldn’t go home with him because he wasn’t her husband (again) I cried. Every time she lost a piece of herself – the power shopper, the person who shrugged off healthcare fears, the lead-foot driver who drag raced as a teen, the devoted wife – I cried.

I mourned her in stages until there really wasn’t a whole lot left. Who are we, really, without those qualities we might not think are important, but the absence of which makes us into different people. Without my love of reading, my ability to cook, my devotion to my family, my practice of yoga, a joyful stride down the street or laughing and drinking wine and listening to a friend. I would not be me – I would be a shadow of me.

In the end, I couldn’t cry for a shadow.

Mom – wherever you are I hope you are driving fast and shopping until you drop. Love always – your daughter

I don’t think I want to ride this ride!

But of course I have to at some point – isn’t that what life is all about? The scariest thing about a roller coaster ride is that wait in line. You can see the riders who get on before you getting pulled up the track, hear their screams and the whoosh of the cars and then witness their shaky steps out of the coaster and down the ramp. Then you witness it again…and again… and by the time you get to the front of the line you are not certain you want to go through with this after all!

So the good stuff first – I had a great weekend of sublime and delicious sleep with Harry and traveled to my former city Upstate for dinner with friends. But oh – the sleep!! I don’t know if it’s the weather, allergies or just the time of year but I was zonked. Usually I am pretty insistent about sex – and lots of it – but this time, whenever I lay down with H and put my head on his shoulder I was out in 2 minutes or less. Crazy, but needed.

And I came home to an extra day off – as Monday was Memorial Day – and Jack, Max and I went to the beach! I know people don’t often think of New York City as a beach town, but we are surrounded  by water and right on the Atlantic Ocean to boot. We went to Jacob Riis Park which is utterly fabulous and makes you think you could be anywhere on the East Coast. We sunned and picnicked, Max jumped in the freezing cold waves and we all talked and just enjoyed each other.

On the way back through Brooklyn we got spumoni and took a little tour through our former neighborhood.  Max asked about the house we lived in when he was a baby and so we drove down our old street to show him. Out former landlords were on the porch and we stopped and introduced them to Max – who was not even a year old when we moved and who is now almost 10! – and got caught up with them and their kids.

It was a great, great day. Relaxed, fun and stress-free. E was out of town on business, so I didn’t have to cope with any of her moods – either directed at me or Jack – and I could enjoy my own house.

And now the blech – the down part of the coaster. I saw my parents on Sunday and my mother is doing so poorly. My dad and I went to talk to the director of a memory care center just 4 weeks ago and secured a spot for her. Now, she can’t go. Her decline has been so precipitous over the past month. She now can’t feed herself consistently, walk independently or toilet herself. This means a whole new approach – this means 24 hour care for her.

My dad is 78 – he cannot continue taking care of my 75 year old mother full time. We looked into nursing homes – holy mackerel!!! 425$ a day!! And nothing is paid for by insurance or Medicare. This process is very daunting and very discouraging. I am so happy that I can help my dad out – but my week has been spent doing research, calling facilities and trying to figure out how to get my mom the care she needs at a price my dad can afford. I will say, this living too long as a custodial patient is for the birds. She will never improve, never get better, we think she is in pain from the micro-fractures she keeps having, her quality of life is terrible. If she was a pet, you know what the recommendation would be.

I know that sounds harsh – but my mom with all of her good and bad qualities- is long gone. Whatever used to be her has been taken over by the lesions and plaques and tangles in her brain. She is just a basic husk of a human now. And eventually, her body will forget how to swallow food and water and at that point we will let her go. But when is that? Who knows – maybe months, maybe years.

I  have seen my friends go through this, but I am at the head of the roller coaster line now. I sure don’t want to get on – but I have no choice and I’ve got to ride it until it’s over.

Only in New York kids, only in New York

Red Grooms – Rainy Day Taxi

The title is a quote from Cindy Adams ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cindy_Adams), a gossip columnist for the New York Post – a local tabloid paper. When she has writes about  some crazy sequence of events that seems utterly implausible  – but is absolutely true – she often ends it with that line.

So Friday night E and I took Jack out for this birthday – 46 thank you very much and looking great for his age: 6 feet tall, shaved head, black artsy glasses, broad shoulders, good physique. He rides his bike 10 miles a day as well as runs and walks with me a few times a week. Definitely looking sharp. We got tickets to an NPR variety show at the City Winery downtown and were settling in to a nice evening.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the show was over to relieve the babysitter, but E and Jack said they were ready to go too. The seats were very, VERY close together – 2 tops set as 4 tops – and they were feeling quite cramped. We pushed the doors open into a beautiful New York night and walked quickly down the street to the subway.

But not quite quick enough because as we were descending the stairs we could hear our train rolling in. The 3 of us still have to swipe for entry and make our way through the full body cage type turn-stiles that some un-monitored stations have.

We are moving as fast as possible and getting close to making it (but no guarantee) when we hear a woman’s voice yelling, “I got you!! I’m holding it!” and we look at the train to see a strawberry blonde,  petite gal holding the subway doors for us. She is using all her might, and the conductor is starting to yell because the train can’t move forward until all the doors are shut.  We can hear her announcement “YOU in the BACK – let GO OF THE DOORS!!!”. But as soon as she finishes yelling – we three are though the gate, on the train and are off!

We thank our champion profusely!! Her name is M and she looks like the fun, up-for-anything friend you had in high school. She’s dressed in a red checked blouse tied at the waist, jeans, hair disheveled and a big smile. Her friend is N and they are headed out for a good time. And where are they headed? To M’s corner bar – which happens to be right in our neighborhood! Well, now things really pick up, and she pulls a bottle of wine and a bottle opener out of her bag. When she finds out its Jack’s birthday she insists on opening it and passing it around.

After 3 dirty martinis I am in no position to argue. And there is something delicious about a shared bottle of wine, in an otherwise empty subway car, rolling along under the streets of New York. We are all going in the same direction and switch trains accordingly – taking the illegal (yes, even in New York this kind of public drinking is a ticketable offense) bottle with us. Jack promptly finishes it.

As we get closer to home, I have to beg off (babysitter – remember) and M is lovely in her disappointment. She asks whose child it is – and Jack, who usually plays these things close, proceeds to explain our living situation. She starts laughing – totally tickled.

The four of them weave off into the night and I have to wait until morning to find out what happened.  M was extremely generous – bought 2 rounds of shots in honor of Jack’s birthday. N, the friend, was a bit of a sad sack with no confidence who kept on referring to herself as “The fat one”  – she wasn’t. Jack hung out with M who has lived around the world, loves a good time and is an actual grownup with a business card from her pretty cool job to prove it!  Poor E got saddled with N who wanted to discuss her abusive childhood. This was a non-smokers/smokers division by the way – sometimes people do NOT have a very good notion of smoking conversational topics.

Things had the potential for some serious birthday fun – M was flirting with Jack and suggested the future possibility of a threesome with him, her and E. That night was out, she had to take care of N – who by this point was no longer fit for public view – but maybe another night? Um, yeah…E fielded this…and of course had to say no because how do you explain that “we have to keep it down’ cause of the kids” to a brand new sexual partner you have met on a train? You don’t is the answer to that one.

So a good birthday was had by all – with flirting and adventures and all the flirty sexy stuff you think has got to be all over with by the time you hit your 40’s. And looks like there might be more to come…

Happy Birthday Jack – wishing you possibilities, excitement and subway cars full of fun in your 46th year!

Wasted Time

I recently did some math and figured out that I have spent about 250 days of my life thinking about what I look like in (usually) critical terms. Almost a full year! And I am a person who has always felt pretty good about myself  – I’ve never felt ashamed of my body, and I never let it get in the way of great sex or relationships. I dressed well and stylishly even though for most of my life I was not thin, but leaning toward the voluptuous.

But…I could spend hour inspecting my face – was my nose too wide? My eye crooked? My cellulite!! Oh dear – I would look at in with despair! How could I make that bumpy hideousness disappear? I thought my thighs in general were pretty awful and for years and years I didn’t wear pants. I didn’t even own a pair of jeans!

And now I am 45 years old. I in the past year or so I realized I am OVER this crazy self-criticism! Whether it’s exercise, feeling generally joyous, being healthy, hearing genuine compliments from Harry, maybe some wisdom…or a combination of all of the above I am finding that I just don’t have the time, energy or inclination for trash-talking myself.

I see this compulsion to criticize everywhere! In S’s daughter who is 13…in my friends who are so much older. One of whom just went through a fairly traumatizing experience but deep in the depths of it asked if I thought she looked fat. Because feeling miserable is one thing, but looking fat is even worse. I see it all over the media from women who should know better  – I’m talking to you Madonna!! A woman who could be at the forefront of what it means to age beautifully and gracefully is instead trying to stay youthful at all costs. How unhappy does she have to be to not accept the beauty of change? Nothing to emulate there – I feel sad for her.

I love looking good! I am a fashion girl, I love to shop, I love high heels and red lipstick and black eyeliner. I am no natural beauty type for sure! And of course I look in the mirror – but no more negative talk for me. Now I say, “Girl – you are kicking it!”, “Your thighs are strong and muscular and awesome!” “Your boobs look amazing – and by the way, I love your rib cage”.

So try this experiment: How much time do you usually spend on criticizing your physical appearance? I estimated 30 minutes a day average – since I was 13 – that’s 32 years ago! Do your own math – how much time have you wasted so far? Time when you could have been reading, drawing, dancing, laughing, running, cooking, painting, kissing, eating, hiking, roller skating, learning a foreign language…falling in love with yourself?

It’s never too late! Treat yourself with kindness and love and respect – like the goddess you are. Don’t say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say to a friend. And if you ARE a person who would call a friend “fat” and “disgusting” and point out how much blubber she can pinch from her waist, please stop reading my blog right now.

Look at yourself the way a lover would and honor yourself the way a lover SHOULD. Take yourself out, buy yourself a drink raise a glass and celebrate your fabulousness!

Catching You Up

After my last blog post, Harry pointed out that I am mentioning characters that most readers will probably not know unless you have ready my previous blog. Of course, you are more than welcome to read https://jackofalltriads.wordpress.com/ but be warned – it is not as, ahhem, high minded as this site. Plenty of adult content on my part.

Or, you can just do the Cliff notes version that follows. If you think you MIGHT be a horse, then you should find the above flowchart helpful! If you would like to see how cool a flowchart can look when you are using it to describe intimate relationships – see my fave blogger SeattlePolyChick. Her relationship configuration is a tad more complex than mine (and actually requires a flowchart!) and I have linked to it here:

The Cast of Characters (And a Chart!).

So – here is my cast of characters:

1. Jack – In November 2015 we will be married for 20 years – and have known each other for 22. My partner in growing up, my best friend, the father of my child, my business partner in the business of Jack and Clara, my truth teller, my confidant and my roommate. We are not romantic – but I could not imagine a life without Jack playing a significant part. Like two trees that stand very close together, we have grown up entwined.

2. E – I have shortened her name from the Ellaria used in JOAT (Jack of All Triads). she and Jack have known each other since high-school and stayed friendly over the years. 3 years ago, we all began hanging out more and more and one thing led to another and… well, here we are. Initially we were a bit more polyamorous- emphasis on the amorous, but now we are just very good friends. She and Jack have a complicated relationship – she often seems unhappy, dissatisfied, depressed. She is not a great communicator…so I don’t always know what’s going on, but boy do I feel it. She can be a storm cloud – lots of unfocused negativity floating around the place. But she can also be funny, generous and a joy. I often think she would like a more traditional relationship…but what do I know.

3. Harry – Harry and I just had the 2 year anniversary of our first date!! He is everything I wanted: warm, funny, sexy, smart, confident and a great snuggler! If I had not known him, I don’t think I would understand the true meaning of physical chemistry – because ours is off the charts. To be so in love with someone and have that kind of physical attraction – like spontaneous combustion attraction – is a gift and I am incredibly grateful!! He is great company and I absolutely adore him – everything is more fun when he and I are together. We even had fun at his colonoscopy! He has an adorable dog called Ziggy and is just wonderful with my son, Max.

4. Max – The son of Jack and I. He is 9 going on 10 with the anxiety level of an air-traffic controller. Max is tall, handsome, smart and a terrible test taker. He reads constantly – but also loves video games and action movies. He is by far the best decision I ever made and I am regularly surprised to find motherhood more fulfilling that I thought it would be. Even though I want to jump up and down screaming at some of the silly stuff he does at least once a day – he is my pride and joy.

5.S -E’s daughter who just turned 13. S is also a shortened version of her JOAT name. All the trials and tribulations you would expect from a 13 year old in one adorable gothy package. Boys, drama, girls, drama, grades, drama…get the picture? Bring in the llama! But the frustrating part for me is that I am waaaayyy stricter and more boundary oriented that E. I often (but not always) bite my tongue when I see E just letting things go, and acting like the kid is a grown-up and can make reasonable, well thought out decisions. Frustrating; but a learning experience. I can’t (and shouldn’t) have to fix everything.

6. Assorted characters: Not many that have hung on!! I don’t think about my previous sexual partners except in the broadest of terms. I have stayed in touch with BuckDharma and The Writer and we keep each other apprised about the goings on in our lives – but everyone else is history!

I think we’re all caught up now! Onward!!

 

Vacation Clarification

I have been out of the loop – away in Ireland with the the whole family. Jack, E, her daughter, my son Max, Harry and me. We traded our apartment here in New York City to a family from Dublin and spent 9 days exploring the Dublin and the surroundings. And our relationship to each other.

Living together is often a fantasy for poly people – but not a lot of people are actually able to do it. Or, upon further reflection, want to do it. It involves melding 3 or more individual’s personalities, philosophies, ideas about what “home” means, personal possessions and (possibly) ideas about child rearing. And these are just the tip of the iceberg!  We jumped in to this experiment because of romance – we all loved each other – and practicality – we all wanted to move to a nice area of NYC and this seemed the most expedient way to do that.

We just signed a lease for the third – and last – year of the experiment. My concern about Max getting into a decent middle school was the tipping point. If he doesn’t get into somewhere where in New York where he won’t get stabbed in the hallway, he and I are moving upstate and he will be going to private school. But really, I think I have had enough. It’s just too hard too much of the time.

E is all about feelings – her own feelings. If she is upset about something she sulks and grumps and locks herself in her room. She doesn’t want to talk about it, she doesn’t want to fix it and she doesn’t want to transcend it. The energy that this gives off is so negative and stressful – I sometimes find it hard to breathe. And because her moods are so unpredictable, I never know when I’ll find her in this state. It makes me not want to come home – and not wanting to come home to my own house is a terrible feeling.

But of course it’s not my own house – I share it. And honestly, I’m done with that. Too old, too set, too opinionated to share with people and compromise. Jack and I have been rubbing alongside each other for 20 years. We know how the other operates and we operate similarly. We have the same friends, we both are homebodies, and it’s just easy to work things out and get things done. E is the opposite and truly does not understand why we spend so much time planning, cleaning, cooking and running a home. She would pay someone to do everything if she could! But my house is my castle – I love caring for it.

These personality differences often mean that Jack and E are on a constant roller coaster ride in their relationship. Good! Bad! Laughing! Sulking! Yelling! Canoodling! I stay as far away as I can – who needs the shrapnel. I do think E sometimes feels that life would be better if I wasn’t around and she could have Jack all to herself. I often wonder if she doesn’t have some regrets about the entire arrangement, or maybe deep in her heart she thought that we would eventually divorce. Especially since I have Harry. But my relationship with him is wonderful and special and has nothing to do with anything or anyone else – I love Jack the way I love Jack and Harry the way I love Harry.

So the vacation highlighted all of these things. Even though it was sometimes painful, it did give me some clarity about this ending next year. I know it’s the right thing to do for me. I don’t regret one decision I made about this though – so many people dream of taking action and so few people do. I’m really glad we jumped together and have had this experience of living and growing together and have tried out what it’s like to live in a triad.

Trying, however does not always mean succeeding. And even succeeding does not always mean succeeding forever. We have succeeded by some measures – we are living together as a family. And not succeeded by some – this arrangement does not always benefit all members and sometimes it feels lonely, even though there’s 3. But either way – nothing stays the same for ever. Change is inevitable.

I can’t see the future – but I can tell you I am looking forward to it!