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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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!

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!

 

 

 

Yoga and Me – a love story

 

yoga-love

A little less than four and a half years ago I was in a major rut. I was a mom and a wife – but feeling like I was doing each one badly. I felt sad, lonely and more than ready for something new- even though I had no idea what that “something” would be. I had been crushing on yoga for awhile, but the timing never seemed right. Yoga and me were at two different places  – I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there into a studio with super bendy pretzel people who knew all the moves already. I still think of ballet in 4th grade – I could barely remember the moves THEN – all the other kids went left and I went….wait, isn’t this left? No??!!! It’s right? OHHHH!! No wonder I’m bumping into people! Believe me, the teacher was happy to take my mom’s check but I had no natural talent.

And yoga, well, yoga was busy. You know – spreading peace and ohm’s around the world. He just didn’t have time for me. Until…..a studio opened 5 minutes from my house. Brand new. I figured, “I am brand new to this so maybe if I go to a brand new studio then EVERYBODY will be new and I won’t feel like such a doofus because EVERYBODY will be going left when we’re supposed to go right and not be super twisty and..well…I can do this.”

I showed up for the very first class on the very first day the studio opened. That would be at 6:00 am on December 1, 2010. I was the first student. I was the only student! Which was a real boon to me – since Jessica, the teacher and owner – would say things like “downward facing dog” and I had NO idea what she was talking about. Plank? Nope.  Chair pose? Ah…no. OK – forward fold. I knew that one! So that first class was one-on-one. And something snapped into place then and there on a cold, early, Albany, New York morning. My yoga crush was going past the crush stage to…getting to know each other.

Not that yoga is always an easy partner. Like the best relationships, yoga transforms you and it doesn’t always feel good. In fact, sometimes it feels terrible. Stretching can take you places that we don’t go in every day life. Sitting with discomfort – not pain because yoga should NEVER cause physical pain – is not something we do. In fact, getting to know your own body and realize there is a difference between discomfort and pain is an eye opener to many people. So often we shun ANY discomfort by distracting ourselves with food, chatter, TV, Facebook, wine…to be able to sit and breathe and expand a little bit every time is simple…and difficult.

And to emotionally expand? To sit with THAT discomfort? I have cried on my mat – it is difficult to be  cracked open and see what’s in there. The good, the bad and the ugly. But to know it’s all mine and I can own it, nurture it, change it,  love it or move it on out? That is the ultimate feeling of freedom. For some of us, to open ourselves to the grace and peace that yoga offers us is even harder.  Every relationship we have should allow us to feel secure in the knowledge that we are loved and accepted for who and what we are. And yoga helps build that relationship with ourselves.

So here I am, 4 years later. I’m stronger, happier and more in tune with myself and everything around me. I am more patient, I am a better partner, mother and friend and I am much kinder to other people. and myself.  Yoga has proven to be very amenable. He travels with me – I have taken yoga classes all over the US. He moved to NYC with me – and I have a new home studio. He enjoys our open relationship and has no jealousy whatsoever when I run (which I do on the days we aren’t together). And he likes to keep things fresh – Anusara, Jivamukti, Forrest, Yin….there are many schools of yoga and so little time!

I am still not super twisty. I am not one of those gals making videos of their incredible inversions. I am not a yoga teacher. I am simply a consistent practitioner in love with yoga. Like my other important relationships  – I am in this one for good. Dedicating yourself to positive relationships allows you to grow in ways you never thought possible  – and nurtures you in ways you might never have though you needed.

I heart you yoga- thanks for everything.