Soul Massage

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Beautiful, I Am

I was blogging at work when a man passed and asked if I was working on a personal ad. And added that if I was, to include a current photo, a full body photo - to be honest. I responded that I am not looking for someone who would make a judgment about who I am based on what my photo looks like. The reality is that even a full body photo does not tell the story any better than a head shot.

Take a moment and look into my eyes. Did I smile for this picture or is it cropped from another event. Can you see that I am happy, in general, or have I held a happy thought that my smile might shine more genuinely? Am I looking at you, the camera, or off into the distance? Was this a photo for the one who would choose me, or the best me I had to put forth?

This young fellow (just turned 30) dates a lot. Says he dates a lot. Changes girlfriends, often. And is quite preoccupied with how the physical body looks. I stood thinking of him today. I am considering posting that personal ad. I am not concerned with the full body shot as I know that no photo can describe how it feels to live in this body day by day. I want to share with him that picking a body to date is not like picking a being to share love with. Even with the best of care, our bodies change. Some changes we can pretend to control. Others happen even as we are doing all we know to keep them strong and healthy.

I would look past the feeble minded and bodied for one that is strong and healthy, but I also understand that the strong can and do become weak. I understand it, because I have lived it. I ran, biked and taught aerobics five days a weeks, three to four classes a day. One day I couldn't complete the bike ride home. I walked that last three miles and haven't been able to distance ride since. Yes, I can move. I workout. i play with my grand-daughter. but as a fifty plus, not thirty-five.  I am more conscious of my abilities and continue to build and maintain strength without criticism of the body that supports me 24/7.  I maintain a healthy idea of effort and choose ease as needed.

I honor my beauty as a whole being. I witness my tenacity daily. I welcome another chance to let go. I let go of the judgement, comparison, and expectation that would bind me in stress and turmoil. I reckon a happiness that comes with being with what is.

We are each of us beautiful. We must establish the standards within ourselves, and live in our worth. Selling ourselves short only leaves us wanting in the end.

Here's my head shot. The rest of me is just as good!

Om Shanti Om (MF!)

Conduits toward Connection

Back in the day, my friends were a part of my daily, if not weekly life. My children lived at home and I was out and about town. BITD, I worked in a social justice store front and hung out with those of like mind while listening to the latest trance ambient, singer songwriters, and politically significant mediums – CD or radio. My entire life revolved around changing my world, expanding my life and my love. And I did!

Then one day, many jobs later, less “friends” and family moving, shifting, changing and scattering, I was out of the loop. I met new people at the occasional gathering or forum only to have them up and move away. But that’s how it is in a college town. I have stayed here. Built my home. Established a foundation.  For many this is merely a weight station to collect their designated form and letters then move on. When I asked, “How shall I find you?” the response was to always check MySpace. And so it began.

My initial account was opened to follow my friends as they traveled onward. It became the opportunity to stay in contact with my children as well. Not only to send and receive messages, but to follow their lives, interests, and exploits. (Though honestly, there were times I had more information that I needed.)

Many years have passed and all my children have journey into the world. All my friends are scattered across the country to be re-membered in my heart. Still, I am thankful for the virtual gathering afforded those of us separated by distance in the form of FaceBook.  Whether it is a message, poke, or brief note on the wall, we acknowledge the continued presence until we meet again. FB also gives us a brief glimpse into each other’s lives through pictures posted, friends added and “likes.” My profile is not bloated with extras but streamlined to those with whom I have an active connection with in my heart/mind.

Most recently, I  “liked” a collection of large body yoga pages. I have been searching for years for this connection, even writing for blogs that held that claim and direction, only to find interest dwindling after a few posts. Imagine my excitement when I realized there are so many other women out there reaching and writing about teaching and practicing yoga in a round body.

FB has become a way for me to organize my interests in one location. Yes, I could follow their blogs and post through email or even as a part of this blog, but with FB this is already done and I find that I can track more easily whether I want to continue “liking” a page or if it was just a few ideas that attracted me. It’s like dating without giving out your contact info. If this is really someone you like, then you can subscribe by email. When you are ready to share the connection,  post to your blog. I like FB as a filter.

I like the up to date photo posting and ability to review videos, ideas, places with “friends.” This opens the discussion that others may share their opinions or views. Can I make an inference from the discussion? Am I willing to support an opposing view? Social networking has taken the coffeehouse banter on the road and into virtual space. We can join in wherever we are, and as we choose (preferably with some forethought).

Of course, I know I am writing about high ideas and not about who is online at what time and who just “friended” who. I will skip the drama of what was said and how that drama unfolded, in public, no less. Then there are the privacy issues and adverts that seem to be marketed to your very thoughts. What of who is looking at your profile and making incorrect judgments about your life? All very possible and probably issues, but none of them mine.

I read, write, work, play, garden, think, and spend time being.  I notice when my friends take a break from FaceBook. I notice, but that is no matter. My friends live in love, in the most sacred place – in my heart.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

“Hard Economic Times”

“Hard Economic Times” seem to affect those who have lived in an extended fashion more than those who have managed their lives and finances close to the belt.  If while in the concept of plenty we are living large, enjoying the fruits of our labor, playing keep up and catch up with the Joneses, we can expect any type of economic crunch to become “hard economic times.” 
My thought this morning began as I was hanging the laundry in the bright sunlight.   Not about the clothes themselves, but the clothes pins.  We are marketed all kinds of bag closures – magnetic, giant plastic frames that say “chips,” “cereal,” or “bread.”   If we were to look around we could save our precious dollars and use what we have – clothes pins, paper clips, binder clips, anything used to hold things together.  Mostly we have to look around.
We (Americans) have become content to watch the news and forget that we are a part of the world.  Our attention is heighted only as we feel the effects of economic stress personally.  So the fact that the rest of the world has been dealing with wheat and rice shortages, rioting even, doesn’t hit home until Sam’s Club and Costo limit bulk purchases of rice (and it makes the evening news, even though it is a sham).  The price of wheat affects the price of beer.  The cost of fuel – petro - becomes evident in the cost of all staples - bread, milk, anything moved down the road by vehicle to the grocer.
So, it’s time to tighten our buckles, yes?  Perhaps for many, but let’s visit the others who have lived within their means.  As this is subjective, I will define “means” my way.  In my opinion, living within one’s means, includes giving, saving, and expenses that stay below 80% of the net income.  Sad that we are able to borrow based on the gross, but must pay back based on the net.  Understandably, there are expenses that arise and reach into the formula, except that giving and saving must stay systematic. 
Giving acknowledges that we belong to a world greater than the one we face on a daily basis.  Giving reminds us that we have the means and opportunity to support others.  Giving can restore our sense of humanity and community.  We give in love out of self interest, knowing that as we give to others we give to ourselves. 
Saving allows us a little extra cover.  Imagine crawling into bed with the blankets and sheets that reach over the sides.  When you turn in the night, the warmth stays around you.   That’s savings.  It’s not about the amount, but rather, the intention of setting aside for another time, different choice, or next opportunity.
The net income is what we started with, having shared appropriately with the federal, state, and local governments (parking, dues, insurance, and retirement – maybe).  I am positive it takes a great deal of forethought to maintain balance between what one earns and what one spends.  We are inundated with choices, opportunities and pressure to hand over our hard earned cash.  Find absolutely no judgment here regarding how your money is spent.  I have plenty of spending errors I am correcting as I clear my space.  However, in being thoughtful of the economic front we must at least bring our attention and awareness to how, when, where and what we spent.
Take a moment to honestly examine where the money goes.  Rediscover your cash like a long lost lover.  Explore its value; inhale its essence; admire the remembered pleasure.  Think, “Would I give you over so freely, again?”  Without holding both the value of our cash and what it takes to receive it we allow money to slip through our fingers unnoticed, unaware.
“Hard economic times” will have less impact on those who become and remain mindful of both their needs and the resources to meet them.  As we bring focus on our behaviors we have the first tool for change.  Hard economic times require change.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Carry-ins at work

Back in the day, I worked in an office where we had monthly “birthday” carry-in for lunch. When I first went to work the food was really delightful. People geared up for the process and brought their favorite and best dishes. As the years went on the event became more of a potluck. I imagine you think a potluck is about the same, but really the term means you get what you get, hence, potluck. That wasn’t all bad until the offers disintegrated into whatever folks found. Soon it was an unpleasant mystery to behold. I only wish I had taken pictures.

Below is a list created to describe the meal:

Mmmm…..let me plan the menu for you

Of course, Chinese rice in the original container

Squirrel meatballs

Grub worms and cream sauce

Foot scrapings and cheese

Cat eyes and spaghetti (could be mixed with #2)

Toilet water punch

A bag of chips (that you bring)

Couscous (that Maria brings)

Dry pound cake

Salmon squash torte

Brown squishy goo in a browner salty...

This is still the funniest of funnies to me and I don’t even need the list anymore to have a laugh. The list is very realistic. Eventually we didn't even plan on eating, just looking at what was presented for lunch.

Every now and then, I pull it up for review and hilarity. Enjoy, and do, Laugh Out Loud!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Connection, Intimacy, and Sexual Satisfaction

On any given day we reach out to make contact with another. Perhaps this is another person, a friend, relative, or neighbor. Maybe instead we reach inward for our Divine Source to buoy our hope, expand our love, share our joy. But steadily and willingly we seek connection.
In a world where we are separated by time, space, and electronics, connections are few and far between. We have become a transient society, moving away from friends and families in search for greater job opportunities, education and adventure. We communicate by email, phone, text, and social media. We make friends through those same mediums, sometimes building entire virtual families and worlds. As we travel through our days we are plugged in with headphones or closed in our vehicles with CDs, radios and audio books. We have lost the art of smiles and waves. Our kind words and greetings fall on deaf ears.
How are we to know true connection? How will we choose the vulnerability that leads to intimacy? We have become a people afraid to look one another in the eye, to face each other head on, to delve deeply and know. We have relaxed the standards of physical contact and hope that will bring us connection. Instead, we have invested unrealized bits of our hearts and souls in unknown markets. We expect a grand return only to find disappointment, repeatedly. It is impossible to share the parts of ourselves we have failed to recognize or acknowledge. Until we open to fully accept all that we are and love each aspect that is, we will shy away from being present with another. And there is the beginning of connection.
Intimacy asks that we relax into the now and submit ourselves free of the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future. To be intimate is to be vulnerable – unmasked, naked, not physically, but emotionally. Intimacy begins in our sharing honestly of and about ourselves. We claim the parts that feel “embarrassing” and say, “Yes. That’s who I am.” Without fear of rejection, hurt or loss, we willingly give ourselves.
Imagine and remember looking across the table into the eyes of a friend – new or old. Imagine the smile that twinkles in their eyes and spreads onto your face. Notice how time slows and relaxed as the words easily flow between the two of you and the world fades away. Imagine sharing your life story, not the historical facts, but the journey of becoming who you are. Feel being heard. Watch your listener. Honor your truth. As we stay with this way of knowing and being, we open to the understanding that we are one. We behold the truth of connection – that separation was the lie we were sold to keep us searching and reaching, and behaving in (what we now know were) destructive choices. We acknowledge this and move on, forward, toward each other.
Until we have connection – personal and physical, and emotional intimacy, how can we even imagine sexual satisfaction?  This is not to discount physical release, or immediate gratification, but to hold a higher standard for the spiritual union that sexuality offers. Rather than the momentary release of energy scatted without thought or cause, we are capable of higher glory and greater power. We hold within us creative energies which can shift perspectives, consciousness, and life itself. We deserve orgasms that bring us a renewed sense of hope and love or all mankind, that encourage peace in our hearts, and remind us of our Divine connection. For in that instance, we will have reached sexual satisfaction.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friends with Benefits

What are the considerations of having sex with those we call friends?  How can we expand to maintain a supportive, loving and clear relationship with those we have relegated to meeting our sexual needs in absence of a romantic partner? How does the choice to give ourselves in this “friend” relationship effect our possibilities (or choices) to reach out for a mate, partner, lover in their own right?

Before tackling the above questions, perhaps we need define our friendships. I think there was a time when the term “friend” was not applied to one who was not enemy. To say someone was with your friend was to align with them and they with you. There was a shared commitment to reach for understanding and provide support. Friends were the people we trusted to tell us the truth, not merely smile in our faces and tell us things would be okay.  Because in the not okay places in life, friends step in. They are the reminders of brighter days, clearer moments, and  the hope that no matter the circumstance there is a way through.

With that understanding of friendship can I call on those I tag as “friends?” Today we have people at work we call friends. Granted we spend more time with them than we do our families, but can they show up in our dark places baring light? What of Facebook friends? Facebook serves as a social networking tool to connect and reacquaint us with others (who may or may not be interested in who we are). As the friend list grows we extend ourselves into worlds unknown, much like an unending web, well beyond our sight and understanding. But what of the silent moment when we need merely one person who will speak to our heart? Providence says there is always help for those who ask. Can we still remember to ask when it seems so plain that with three hundred/thousand FB friends, surely one will know our need? Social networking sites give us a false sense of connection, leaving us vulnerable to emptiness when we have neglected to build personal (in person) connections and communities.

Choosing how and when we connect deserves thought and consideration for the moment and beyond. Establishing boundaries that allow us to live fuller freer lives is in the purview of friendship. As I search for an ideal partner I call upon the opinions of my friends to see more than my excitement or investment can, and to make known the truth of the union I propose. Can I be in sexual liaison with one supposing to honor my search? Can I crawl from one bed and long for another? Well, of course, I can, but is my heart open to receive what is best for me while I seek momentary contentment in my “friendship?”

On the other hand, or side of the bed, the reality exist that we have “friends” that show up to support our sexual needs. When we are clear that no interest in relationship exist then the moments we share rest in the present. Leaving behind serial monogamy we rest our sexual interest safely in the arms and hearts of this friend. This is not to deny any elements of closeness, comfort, or caring, but to affirm the option to choose one who agrees to show up with us.

Still, is sex in friendship, the benefit? Human sexual expression can be powerful and connective tool, after closeness. But closeness and connection are benefits in themselves. Sexual expression comes with its own set of hooks and demands, asking more of its participants that they may be ready to recognize, accept, or receive.

Let us take our lovers where we choose as we find them, and leave our friends to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives.

"A friend loveth at all times."