Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Declare Myself Now for Joy

A beautiful poem from Erica Jong that reflects my own desire to declare myself for joy this coming year...

I, Erica Jong, in the midst of my life,
having had two parents, two sisters,
two husbands, two books of poems
& three decades of pain,

having cried for those that did not love me
& those who loved me- but not enough
& those whom I did not love-
declare myself now for joy

There is pain enough to nourish us everywhere;
it is joy that is scarce…

Unhappiness is cheap,
Childhood is a universal affliction.
I say to hell with the analysts of minus & plus
the life-shrinkers, the diminishers of joy.

I say to hell with anyone
who would suck on misery
like a pacifier
in a toothless mouth.
I say to hell with gloom…

Doom is cheap
If the apocalypse is coming,
let us wait for it in joy…

I resolve myself for joy.

If that resolve means I must live alone,
I accept aloneness.

If the joy house I inhabit must be
a house of my own making,
I accept that making…

No joy-denyer can deny me now.
For what I have is undeniable.
I inhabit my own house,
the house of joy…

The soul is contagious.
One man catches another’s
like the plague;
& and we are all patient spiders
to each other.

If we can spin the joy thread
& also catch it-

If we can be sufficient to ourselves,
we need fear no entangling webs…

How to spin joy out of an empty heart?
The joy-egg germinates even in despair.

Orgasms of gloom convulse the world;
& and the joy-seekers huddle together.

We meet on the pages of books & by beachwood fires,
We meet scrawled blackly in many-folded letters.
We know each other by free & generous hands,
We swing like spiders on each other’s souls.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Resolution (and Resignation)

This is my resignation/love letter just sent to the Imps community:

This is one of the hardest things I've ever done...which is why it's taken me two months to write it.

There is a saying in South Africa...Ubuntu - "I am because we are."

Take a moment to really think about that. I am because we are. You and I are connected in much deeper ways then we are generally conscious of. Every life we touch shapes us. Right now I can feel how each of you has shaped me.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I do choose a word for the year, a sort of aspiration of what I desire to experience. This year my word is vulnerability. I desire to open my heart in the biggest, deepest ways and to experience love free of attachment to anything but the wonderful experience of loving. I desire to be vulnerable - to risk reaching out in the face of rejection...or powerlessness to help...until it isn't difficult to do so anymore; to be vulnerable in sharing my story through my writing; and to be vulnerable enough to dream and believe I can make my dreams come true.

It's a big aspiration, but those that know me best know that I've already been on this journey awhile. In 2008 my new year's word was open-hearted and a few months later I was starting this crazy business with two other women. Being a Hostess for The Impropriety Society has been a significant aspect of my journey...perhaps only second to being a mother in the immensity of impact on my life and evolution. And I suppose that makes sense since I co-birthed and co-nurtured this community with the Jens these past three years. There is much of being a Hostess that is like being a mother - including washing the dirty sheets (you do realize someone takes all that laundry home, right?).

My relationship to this community has also been like a poly relationship - I am so incredibly in love with the community as a whole and so many of the individuals who comprise it. I have been twitter-pated for you and turned on by you and heart broken by you and reborn in greater love with you. Sometimes you have taken priority over everything else - even my actual primary partner. You have danced with me, kissed me, spanked me and and told and shown me over and over again how desired and cared for that I am. You have given me my first true experience of family.

My relationship with the Jens has been a partnership stronger than any other partner relationship I've experienced. Those two amazing women have been my support in ways I can't even put into words - keeping me fed and being there in any way I needed after my mom died, including putting up with bouts of crazy grief for months afterwards, is a damn good example. Reminding me that I'm right to follow my heart is another good example.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how in love you are, you have to do what's right for you.

As deeply in love as I am with this community and my partners, it's time for me to move on and make new dreams come true for myself and my daughter. In November I resigned as Hostess so that I can concentrate on preparing to move to the Bay Area, hopefully this summer, and working towards creating the work of my heart as a paying gig. I don't know exactly what that work is, but I know it has something to do with facilitating sex-positive spiritual community - spaces where sexuality is honored as an integrated aspect of spiritual and psychological evolution. It also has something to with counseling, writing and art. I trust it will all come together as I follow my heart.

Until I move I will continue to attend events, but more likely as a guest than a volunteer. I will also help document aspects of the business and train others in the parts that I've contributed. I already miss being a Hostess and working every week with the Jens. But I'm very happy to continue making meaningful contributions behind the scenes and participate in the community in new ways. I attended the holiday social as a guest and had the time of my life!

And for anyone who might be interested, I am beginning to facilitate biweekly sex-positive spirituality gatherings in my home (these are discussion oriented, no actual sex is involved). More information can be found at the link below and/or you can email me directly. The next one will be January 9th.

Thank you for holding me as I learned to trust myself and the gifts I have to offer as a community leader. Thank you for the honor of loving you through producing events and nurturing community in all the ways we've been inspired and you've downright demanded. I am what I am, and everything I will ever be, because of you.

I love you,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Power of Flight

Today is a glorious sunny day in Arcata, a rare sunny day with little wind. I just walked at the Arcata Marsh for the first time in a couple of months. Oh God, how I have missed everything that being in that place inspires me to feel. Perhaps it is because I have processed so much of my evolution and grief there the last three years. The land holds many of my prayers and my tears. Perhaps it is because I have experienced moments of ecstatic Oneness as the vitality of life in that place embraces my entire being. Perhaps it is the power of the water, the water that sustains all of the life that pulses in that place, the water that cleans Arcata's human impurities from the sewer system and returns to the bay as clean water again.

Tears of joy and appreciation for the blessings of beauty in my life flowed as I walked by one of the ponds and saw baby ducks diving in the water and shaking the water from their wings. This is the second generation of ducks I will witness grow into adulthood.

Today's walk was perfect for this Solstice time. While Arcata is sitting under the bright shining sun, there are dark clouds over the mountains to the east and the air is chill. I would walk under the sun and feel warm, and then walk under the shadow of trees and feel the chill creep up my skin under my clothes causing goosebumps, and then to the warmth of light again. The light *always* follows the darkness as the wheel of the seasons and our lives turns.

The smell of the earth and water fills my nose, while the cool fresh air fills my lungs.

The sound of water moving and birds singing fills my ears.

The reeds and blackberry bushes are decaying, leaving marvelous views of all of the ponds that are usually sheltered by the tall plants in the summer time.

And the dance of the birds today -- so incredibly beautiful. There was a giant flock -- hundreds of little birds -- that completely covered two of the islands in the lake. Every so often large groups would take to the air together and dance - swirling, lifting and falling over the water - sometimes in one group, sometimes in two or three, or shifting from one to two and back to one again. They would turn one direction and it would be flutters of white. They would turn the other direction and it would be flutters of black. Their spontaneous choreography, moving as one body, never ceases to astound me. Then they would return to the island and chatter about their flight, hundreds of voices in what should have been a dissonant cacophony but sounded to my ears more like a song with a hundred distinct yet harmonious voices.

And what other reason do they have to do this dance together than to share in the power of flight? What we can learn from their collaborative flying? That there is more power and joy when we journey together, lift one another up with the power of wind from our wings, and fly higher on the current of one another's journey through the air?

I think of how I am able to fly and soar in ways I never imagined because I have shared experiences of growth and transformation with others. I think of how my dance with the people closest to me powers my ability to fly in the world, whether they are flying by my side in any given moment or not. I fly stronger because I ride the currents of joy, witness and support that I share with my loved ones.

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

I fly higher because of how well I've been loved by those that journey with me, those that remind me to lift my eyes to the sky and remember I have the power of flight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Am Enough, Just As I Am

My last blogging endeavor (this is blog number 5 in my writing life) was called The Conspiracy of Blessings. I was inspired by Rob Brezny's idea of Pronoia, which is the belief that the Universe is conspiring to shower us to blessings, if only we'd wake up to it. The blog itself was an opportunity to explore creative generosity, random acts of kindness and gift economy. I researched people actively participating in blessing others, posted links and wrote about all kinds of goodness going on in the world (there is so much more goodness than people realize!).

It started in December 2005, when I decided that I was making too many crafty things to be able to give to my few friends for Christmas (imagine how much time I was giving to the Imps and how many crafts/art pieces I could make if I gave that time to art/craft making's kinda insane how productive I can be). I needed an outlet for my creative generosity and I had come across some random-acts-of-kindness artists on the web. So as my first act of creative kindness, I put beaded snowflake ornaments I had made with a handwritten card in places around town for people to find. I put one in the restroom at Border's in the mall, one in a potted plant in Old Town, one on someone's windshield, etc.

Eventually I desired a little bit more of a personal connection with the recipients and an opportunity to give more items to each person, so I came up with the idea of sending art blessing packages to people who requested them through my blog. The blog was anonymous and I signed the cards "The Blessing Conspirator" so no one knew who I was. Over the course of a couple years, I gave away over 100 art blessings to people all over the world. I received requests from people experiencing intense stages of life, especially women in transition. While it may seem kind of frivolous -- what can a handmade doll do for someone going through divorce or cancer? -- it seemed to really touch the lives of the people I sent them to.

There is a special tenderness when someone we don't know reaches out to us with love in any form, no matter how small or seemingly frivolous.

I tell you all of this to explain how I am feeling this very moment. I find myself suddenly missing the Conspiracy. I miss blessing people in need of a little light in their lives, especially during the holidays. I have been seeing amazing stories of generosity this season -- a homeless man starting a non-profit to collect shoes for other needy people; a popular blogger giving away some gift cards to families in need, which snowballed into over 600 people giving to over 600 families within 72 hours; and another popular social networking site inspired by that blogger and seeking to continue the giving trend. I read the comments from people in need and I wish so very much that I could give them something, but I am struggling financially myself right now and don't have anything monetary to give. The only gifts I am giving this year are to my children. The only lives I'm touching are those closest to me. Is that enough?

I have been contemplating what my options for generosity are, brainstorming on how I might be able to touch a stranger's life. Yet as I sit here writing this, I wonder why I feel like I haven't been participating in the Universe's conspiracy to bless others all along? Why do I always feel like I'm not doing, giving, serving enough?

What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly. Carl Rogers

Is it enough to feel compassion and send love from my heart to theirs as I witness each story of need and watch it fulfilled by others? Haven't I already given as much of myself as I have to give this year (which is why I'm burnt out)? Hasn't the service I've given through the Imps blessed hundreds of lives this year? When is it enough? When am I enough?

" gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." Max Ehrmann

I think this comes back to the old belief that I have to earn my place in the world through giving and service. And discomfort with being the center of my own attention. The truth is that this holiday season I am giving mostly to myself -- quiet time for reflection and rejuvenation; one-on-one time with my closest friends; a solstice gathering and spiritual connection with other journeyers in my home; an amazing New Year's Eve experience with my teenage daughter and one of our favorite musical artists in the world, Amanda Palmer (my heart longed to spend NYE at her show with the Boston Pops last year, this year she's in San Francisco with The Dresden Dolls, so I'm making my own dream come true).

Transitioning to a much needed focus on my self is a significant challenge some days. Letting go of an identity based in generosity and service and accepting what is left - me - is a significant challenge most days.

Yet each day I find new ways to give myself spaciousness and to accept that I am enough, just as I am.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Honoring The Priestess: A Story of Overcoming Resistance

"One of the favorite archetypes found in the 78 cards of a Tarot deck is the High Priestess, Key #2 of the Major Arcana. She represents spiritual awakening and development of the universal intuitive mind. Awesome and mysterious, the High Priestess sits before a veil that drapes the entrance to a temple. The temple symbolizes the higher knowledge, spiritual knowledge, the sacred truths (both personally and cosmically), or the Holy Grail that we all seek. This temple holds both sacred, universal secrets as well as the guidance required to unravel our own personal issues. Behind her is the veil between this world and the “other” world – the veil that separates that which we know from that which we long to know. She is the guardian of the occult, of hidden knowledge; the scroll that she holds represents arcane teachings – lessons that those on a spiritual path must learn. She emphasizes the essential role of the unconscious mind as a source of those sacred teachings that direct the soul’s evolution and growth."

As mentioned in previous posts, I initiated myself as a Priestess to the Divine when I was 23 years old, in the Wiccan tradition. I felt called. I have felt called to Divine Service for as long as I can remember. But I have been resisting it just as long. Tomorrow I finally live up to that promise I made 14 years ago by facilitating what I hope is the first of many spiritual gatherings and rituals in my home.

"Despite the somewhat glorious title of "spiritual superheroine" - being a redvolutionary isn't about being invincible or perfect or being "spiritual" or "enlightened" - it's about being yourself - the full messy, raw, dirty, funky, authentic lovely human self. A woman willing to be this transparent and vulnerable, a woman willing to reveal her true self in this world no madda what - is revolutionary, rare, daring, a superpowered strength - and I think it's one of the main reasons we're here." Sera Beak

Mine has been a long process of ordination -- nearly 15 years before I've finally accepted the mantle of spiritual leadership of some kind. Ordination is the sixth Sacrament in Christianity, the commitment of one's gifts to Divine Service. I have sought ordination in various ways over the years, but never taken the inner and outer transformation required to completion. I've been unwilling to surrender completely and I've let my ego have it's fun. I've been afraid. I've used single motherhood and the need to provide for my children as an excuse for not pursuing the work of my heart. I've given only a fraction of my life to projects of sacred activism. I've stayed on the path just enough to justify myself -- I am growing and evolving, I am becoming more conscious, I am making progress. Yet all along I've been dissatisfied, because I know I'm not living in integrity with what I know about myself. I am not living in the fullness of my Divine spark.

My truth is that I am so completely in love with God and so committed to the awakening of all beings that my life cannot be joyful without complete surrender to Divine Service and Sacred Activism. To be in integrity with who I am, I must admit to myself and everyone else that I feel called to a spiritual life. It's been scary to use the word Priestess. It feels powerful and presumptuous. I have been afraid to claim my power, afraid of the responsibility it requires and afraid of how others will perceive me if I presume to call myself what I am.

“Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change...What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” -MLK

Redvolutionary, Priestess, Shaman, Hierophant, Bodhisattva - all of these have called to me over the years and the implication is the same. I am driven to contribute to the awakening of the human race. I am destined to be a bridge builder between the sacred and the mundane. By my very nature I bring consciousness and healing into all of my relationships and every day life. I facilitate community experiences that encourage consciousness raising, sacred intent and transformation/evolution. I bring knowledge and wisdom from spiritual traditions to the people in my life. I use my intuition to deliver messages from the Universe to the people in my life. In many ways I am already living the archetype of the Priestess in not-so-subtle, yet un-named ways.

I realize that I haven't given myself enough credit for how the spiritual is woven into my life so completely. I am incredibly hard on myself about not being evolved/enlightened/spiritual enough, as if I have failed. Yet when I look at what I say and what I write, what I share with others, it is filled with spiritual ideas and language. When I look at how I've led the Impropriety Society from a place of love and inclusiveness, I recognize that my work is imbued with spiritual love and compassion. When I consider all the reasons I do community service, I honor that I am already living the vow of the Bodhisattva. While I am imperfect on a daily basis, I do strive to live with as much consciousness and sacred awareness as I'm capable at this point in my evolution.

While I may have been resisting obvious spiritual leadership, I have been living a spiritual life and having an impact on the lives around me. And while maybe I could have stopped resisting my full commitment to ordination sooner, maybe everything has unfolded exactly as it is meant to for the greatest potential for Love and Awakening for myself and every life that I am honored to touch. Perhaps this is where faith matters most, believing in myself and the imperfect perfection of my own journey.

On my birthday last July, I drew an archetype card for the coming year. Maybe it was always destined that my 37th year would be my year of ordination:

The Monk/Nun: The positive aspects of this archetype are: spiritual intensity, devotion, dedication, persistence, and perhaps wisdom. ...the Monk archetype may show up in the ability to be single-minded, assiduous, devoted to a spiritual path or to any great achievement that requires intense focus. In this sense, novelists and entrepreneurs can carry the Monk as readily as spiritual adepts."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Victim

This is stream of consciousness, as I’ve just had a really important insight into an emotional challenge I’ve been trying to sort out for several weeks. I am writing my way through it.

I am having a difficult time with seeing Knight in relationship to others when we interact socially. There are multiple reasons for this that don't all come from being the ex-girlfriend, but there is much that does come from that.

I was contemplating this issue tonight because it came up with a friend who is throwing a party. I didn’t like how I felt when she brought up her desire to have him there. I was also looking for an art project to work on tomorrow night, as I had just been invited to a crafty night at a friend’s. I wandered around, looking at different art supplies, feeling out the appropriate creative expression for right now. Then I grabbed one of Shiloh McCloud’s coloring book journals, drawn to the title She Moves To Her Own Rhythm.

I started turning the pages and was immediately drawn to a paragraph that starts, “Gratitude is a remedy for self-pity.” Suddenly I realized that I have been feeling significant self pity, feeling sorry for myself because my relationship with Knight didn’t work out, partly because he rejected me as a partner due to my actions, partly because of his desire to spend more time and energy on other lovers than on me, partly because he was careless with me when trying to manage multiple relationships (and many other reasons, too), and now I have to watch him be with those other women...and more...if I desire to continue participating in tribe and Imps activities. The paragraph continues on to talk about being a victim...

“Gratitude inspires humility. Gratitude guards against self-pity. I cannot express how important it is not to be a victim. Being a victim, along with holding guilt and shame, paralyzes us and keeps us from growing. Those emotions and responses are a disease, once you let them in, they spread and mutate until you cannot even tell where they are and what havoc they are wreaking. Cast those demons out. Tell them you have no more use for them. We can become invested in our sad story and use it to control others and keep ourselves from being well. Overcoming the victim does not negate that you had to endure injustices. Overcoming acknowledges your pain and allows you to transform.

I work with archetypes as one of my tools for self and human exploration. Caroline Myss, a teacher I highly respect and that I’ve mentioned before, says that there are four archetypes that all of us contain: the Child, the Saboteur, the Prostitute and the Victim. Even though three of these have negative connotations in our current cultural understanding, all of these archetypes have both a light and a shadow expression.

In the light the Victim is the Guardian of Self Esteem.

My victim has been at play regarding my reactions to having to confront Knight and his other relationships at social events, most especially the Imps parties. Being confronted with your ex-partner seducing, playing and having sex with other women shortly after your break up is not an easy thing to do. While there are many reasons our relationship didn’t work out, I seem to have fixated on the sense of rejection that I feel. Hence the self-pity.

The self-pity, and shame from feeling that I was rejected specifically because of my shadow around emotional control, have been feeding a monster of emotional brutality in my heart towards Knight. It is so easy to demonize him. But it hurts me to do so.

I have been digging at this, feeling the negative reactions and trying to chase down the sources. I don’t like the way it feels at all. I don’t like that I left the staff party a couple weeks ago because I couldn’t bear watching him seduce another woman and feeling it as rejection. I don’t like that I’m afraid to attend the social this weekend because I will feel that way again, even though I have my own lovers to connect with. I don’t like that I want to shut him out and convince myself that he isn’t worthy of relationship with me by focusing on his shadows.

It’s like I’m trying to take my power back by wielding the power of disconnection – which is actually the most potent weapon I can use against him. He thrives on connection and intimacy. Shutting him out is a powerful way to hurt him.

And disconnection has seemed like the only way to protect myself from more heartache. Essentially that's what it's all about, trying to protect my heart. But defenses never lead anywhere good.

The lesson is that my victim needs to develop personal boundaries and a sense of personal power, but I’m not doing it in a healthy way. I need to figure out how to turn this story around to one of self empowerment.

Of course none of this has been entirely conscious. I’ve had the fucked up thoughts and feelings about him the last few weeks, but didn’t see what was really going on under the surface until now. I’ve just been conscious enough to know that I am in shadow and have taken the positive step of keeping it to myself as much as possible. I haven’t spoken to him since the staff party because I don’t want to communicate with him from a negative place. I have learned from previous mistakes of communicating from shadow.

Is it not time that our loving free us from ourselves, and that we, though trembling, endure. Rilke

And of course all of this brings me back to vulnerability and open-heartedness. The vulnerable thing is to face how I feel, to see myself fully and allow others to see me fully, to bring my shadow into the light and love it. The open-hearted thing to do is cultivate love toward Knight and compersion toward his relationships.

Another aspect of my evolution right now is learning to hold space for my own shadow rather than judging and shaming myself when I act from fear. This here, right now, is an opportunity to do that. Rather than be ashamed of my victim and her attempt to protect me these last few weeks, I am going to thank her for trying and ask her to work with me in a more empowering way. I am not powerless and do not need to seek power through attempting to diminish another. I am not unlovable because I am imperfect and act from fear at times.

Shiloh says that gratitude is the remedy for self-pity. I realize that I have stopped experiencing gratitude for Knight’s presence and impact on my life. I have stopped seeing the Divine Spark in him and the beauty of the relationship we shared. Our fear based choices don’t negate or diminish all of the love that we shared. I’ve blinded myself from his light, and the light of our relationship, with shadow. He is a bright light, he has tremendous love to share, there are so many things to be grateful for about that man. And it does not diminish me to say so, no matter the circumstances of our relationship’s end.

From Sacred Contracts by Myss: "The primary objective of the Victim archetype is to develop self-esteem and personal power...You have Contracts with people who are directly connected to the Victim archetype. Their primary role is to help you develop your self-esteem through acts of honesty, integrity, courage, endurance and self-respect."

Even now, Knight is a gift in my life, as I learn to develop a healthy relationship with my Victim archetype and find a deeper sense of my own empowerment and self esteem. While facing this truth in myself is not easy, I am incredibly grateful to have made a breakthrough and sense that I now have a direction to go in cultivating the response I desire to have to Knight and his lovers...which is pure love.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rediscovering My Bliss

Last night I did a Tarot reading for a friend. It was a really good reading. It inspired deep, meaningful conversation for us both and I believe he walked away with an idea of something important that he needs to develop within himself that he wasn't necessarily aware of before.

I felt my intuition kick in at points during the reading, which is a very magical experience for me. It is also a bit unnerving. I still struggle with trusting what I feel or "know." Actually, it's more appropriate to say that I struggle with trusting it will be accepted and honored by others. I trust what I know through intuitive feeling because I've always been right whenever there's been an opportunity to know so. But I have had people deny things I've felt and I've even lost friends from speaking my intuitive truth (I had a very specific premonition of the negative consequences of a choice they were making and they didn't want to hear it -- sadly my premonition came true). I understand the Cassandra Complex quite well. Yet I continue to speak my intuitive truth, at least in the company of friends and when it's specifically requested.

After my friend left my house, I found myself in a really, really good mood. I felt light and joyful. I felt connected to my deepest, truest self. I daresay I felt a bit of bliss.

Fifteen years ago, after I left the Christian church and started exploring a Pagan/Wiccan path, I read the book The Mysts of Avalon. Although it is a work of fiction, the stories of the Priestesses of Avalon deeply touched me and inspired a pivotal moment in my spiritual journey. I decided to initiate myself as a Priestess, committing my heart and my life to the Divine. In the book, the Priestesses were initiated by having a turquoise crescent moon tattooed on their third eye. Since getting a tattoo on the forehead in the modern world is not socially acceptable, I had a turquoise crescent moon tattooed on the back of my head (I was also a punk-goth who shaved part of my head in various eccentric haircuts for several years).

I began intense self study in divination/intuitive practices, various healing practices and herbal medicine. I gained a reputation with my friends and neighbors for being an intuitive and healer. I did hands on healing for physical issues. I could "read" a person's energy body to determine where the pain or symptoms were and I could often feel out the related emotional challenges that needed to be addressed. I could often relieve symptoms through energy work. I made teas, tinctures, oils and incenses for both physical and emotional issues. And I did Tarot readings.

For some reason I stopped all of these things when I graduated from college and started working full time. Having to work a crappy job to support my children did something to "kill my spirit." I've never fully reclaimed my spirit or my gifts since.

Last night's reading reminded me of how it feels when I am in the flow of my gifts and expressing who I am in the world. I am rediscovering my bliss. I am remembering how important magic is to me (magic being my way of describing energetic experiences that transcend material reality). I am remembering the commitment I've made to the Divine over and over again to embody the Priestess archetype and facilitate spiritual connection within my community.

I don't know if I'll return to practicing everything that I did before, but I know that doing intuitive readings is a step in the right direction towards the sort of spiritual counseling/coaching that I'd like to do. I am going to start paying attention for opportunities to practice my intuitive skills. And I'm going to put out an invitation on Facebook to see if anyone I know feels called to receiving a reading. I need and desire the practice...and to experience the sense of bliss that I felt last night.


Image Source: Inner Voice from the Osho Zen Tarot
(High Priestess in traditional decks)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Power of Vulnerability

I’ve been struggling to write. My heart cries out for me to sit down and pull my feelings out to the written word, but I resist. I’ve started many blog posts in the last couple weeks, but never finish, never go as deep as they promise to take me.

I've had this video of social work researcher Brene Brown sitting on my computer for days. I didn't know exactly what it was. Someone posted it on Facebook and I was drawn to the description:

"...she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough -- that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?"

I was surprised, as much as she was, by what she learned.

The qualities of a wholehearted person:

Courage - Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Courage to be imperfect.

Compassion - Be kind to yourself first, which will result in kindness towards others.

Connection - As a result of authenticity. Let go of who you think you should be to be who you are.

Fully Embrace Vulnerability - What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.


It's the last one that really gets to me and it is the quality that she finds to be most important of them all...

Vulnerability - allowing ourselves to be fully seen, exactly as we are.

Two and a half years ago, right before I co-created The Impropriety Society, I made a commitment to myself and the Divine that I would live as open-heartedly as possible. To me this meant that I would choose to risk loving without knowing where it would lead and even if it led directly into heartache. I would express my love openly and I would say yes to every opportunity to love for my self or others.

I had come to this intent by participating in a brief but very intense relationship that also inspired a spiritual awakening. It was a spiritual connection, as much as intellectual and emotional. I chose to be as open as possible, despite my fears and the possibility of rejection. Ultimately she did reject me. But the experience of love that took place inside me made it all worth it. I felt more connected to everything.

I’ve learned that my heart cannot be broken in the traditional sense, it can be bent, beaten, misshapen, lost in the dark and cold, but never broken, never irreparable. And I have learned that the deeper I allow myself to go into love, no matter the outcome, the more love and joy I become capable of experiencing. Risking love in the face of suffering and allowing the heart to break open to deeper experiences of grief, empathy and compassion can lead to an awakened life.

And yet now, after experiencing such a difficult relationship with Knight over the last six months, I find myself afraid and withdrawn, struggling to be vulnerable again. I have new lovers, a married couple and a long-time friend with whom there has been a long unexplored spark, and I am struggling to be vulnerable to them with my feelings and desires.

“I suggest you study the relationship between what you want and what you have to offer.”
From Eric Francis’ Cancer Horoscope for 2010

What do I want? I desire to live an awakened life and I desire to live every moment of my life from the deepest experience of love a human being can know.

What do I have to offer? My vulnerability. My willingness to be seen, to be open, to risk for love. When I write here, it is from a place of vulnerability because I hope that by sharing my experience, my story, someone else may find something valuable for their own story.

What do I want from others, in relationship? Their vulnerability, their willingness to risk opening themselves to love, no matter where it leads.

What keeps us from vulnerability? Shame. Shame is a fear of disconnection and a belief that we are not worthy of connection/belonging/love. We think, "I am not _________ enough to belong." (Fill in the blank -- smart, beautiful, talented, wealthy, outgoing, charismatic, etc.)

I don't know that I have ever been as vulnerable as I was with Knight. We had an intimacy that was rare in my experience of relationships. And I feel that Knight rejected me in a very significant way when he shut down his heart to partnership with me. So vulnerability, being fully seen, is more frightening than ever. Will anyone stick around if they see the worst of me? Am I too emotionally unbalanced to be connect/belong/be loved? Allowing myself to be seen in entirety, especially my shadow and the challenges I have in managing my emotions, scares me very much.

I hope to find inside myself whatever it was that I found before that inspired me to choose open-heartedness. I desire to renew that commitment and to open my heart again, as fully as I'm capable. I desire to be fully seen - raw, wild, french kissing life and bleeding on the page with heart-opening vulnerability.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Invitation to Sex Positive Spiritual Community

"Community, especially a community of like-minded souls, is a blessing like none other." Caroline Myss

I am finally following the call of my heart to create what I long for.

I have talked to several in the community in the last year or so about spiritual community and I have heard that there are many interested in connecting with others around spirituality and conscious evolution.

"One of the riches of the awakening path is that it becomes entirely possible to look beyond the accumulated baggage of the religions and philosophies, beyond notions of atheism, non-theism, feel and experience the presence of the sacred without getting tangled up in doctrine and belief."
Josey Moray

Most of us have only experienced spiritual community within churches, particular religions or traditions that we found confining or lacking in significant ways, especially regarding sexuality and kink. Most of us are also probably jaded about any leadership organization constructed around spirit. All of these are true for me.

However, I miss spiritual community. I miss the rituals of creating sacred space and time in which to share our in-love-ness with the Divine/Universe. I miss having conversations with other people about the spiritual journey -- what is god, the nature of reality, the reason for being, all the big questions, as well as the small ones. How do we make it through each day of work and family and friends and lovers and a world full of suffering with a deep sense of joy, love and connectedness?

What I am proposing is a circle - a gathering of people committed to working together and providing support for one another on the conscious or spiritual journey. Some of you may not resonate as deeply with concepts such as God and spirituality as others of us do, yet you still perceive the Sacred in life or strive to live consciously. I believe we can find enough common ground as well as learn from each other's diverse perspectives, just like we do with sexuality through the Imps community.

The truth is that I don't know exactly what this will look like. We have the wonderful and intimidating opportunity to do something new. We can use our amazing power to create spaces where energetic magic happens in a whole new way. We can create a community where we are not bound by dogma and conformity to an external standard, but are joined by our desire to evolve, to become more conscious, to experience more of the Sacred in our lives, to express our sexual nature, and to deepen relationship.

Relationship is part of my spiritual practice, not just romantic/sexual relationships, but friendships, family, etc. I experience my highest highs (Divine Union) and my lowest lows (the hell of perceived separation) in relationship. I need a spiritual community that recognizes that at every level, including the sexual. I am proposing the idea of sex positive spirituality - a space where sex and kink are part of the spiritual conversation and recognized as important tools on the path to awakening. I have a feeling that many of you would appreciate a space like this.

I have been considering what our gatherings might include and have had the following ideas, knowing that others may have inspirations of their own and the group should decide together what will flow best over the long term:

* Possible structure: an opening prayer/meditation/ritual to establish sacred space both externally and internally (so that we can hold sacred space for one another), a time for any personal sharings--joys or struggles or creative expressions that we may desire to be witnessed, a presentation and facilitated discussion and/or activity around a particular topic (readings distributed in advance), and a closing prayer or meditation to ground the energy.

* We could consider holding rituals around Sacred Holidays of our choosing. My intention is to start with a Winter Solstice gathering on Sunday, December 19th.

* Everyone is a teacher and student. We all have different tools that we use on our journey and different teachings that have transformed us. I envision each person who is willing leading a meeting, choosing the topic of exploration and arranging whatever materials are needed (with assistance if needed). It could also be possible for two or three people to present a topic together. I would like to lead the first couple meetings to give us some momentum and give time to build intimacy within which people are more willing to be bold in their sharing.

* At some point early on we should talk about our spiritual histories and what we are all looking for in spiritual community to discover where we resonate most strongly.

* Possible topics: spiritual and self-work practices (meditation, prayer, ritual, psychological approaches, archetypes, personal honor code, etc.); inspirational teachings from various traditions or modern teachers; intuitive or divination tools (Tarot, Runes, etc.); and creative practices (sharing mystical poetry, making sacred objects, etc.).

* We may find that there are some people interested in exploring Tantra and other sexual-spiritual practices in a group setting and facilitate other events beyond the biweekly meetings. This could be true for diving deeper into any particular topic.

* * *

I am going to open my home every other Sunday evening for the circle beginning December 19th at 6 p.m. If an earlier time ends up working better for the majority of interested people, I am open to adjusting for future meetings.

On the 19th I will be facilitating a Yule or Winter Solstice Ritual...a celebration of the promise of the Light's return in all it's power. I intend to incorporate a celebration of the light we shine for each other in relationship as individuals and community.

I am sending this out as an open invitation because I realized recently that I have no idea who might most be attracted to and benefit from sex positive spiritual community. I am trusting the Universe to bring the right group of people together for the most beautiful opportunities to evolve.

Please RSVP for the event by Facebook messaging me or emailing me at, as well as to receive directions if you've never been to The Barn. I'd like to have an idea of how many people to expect.

* * *

Image Source: Mark Springle

Monday, November 15, 2010

15 Writers Who Have Influenced Me

Josie at safetycomfort tagged me with this.

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen writers who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

These are my influential writers and a few words about how they've influenced me...

Susie Bright - Sexual Freedom, Creative Empowerment

Leo Buscaglia - Love

Thomas Moore - The Soul, Loving Our Humanness, Bridging Transcendence and Immanence

Rob Brezny - Pronoia, Creative Generosity (He inspired The Conspiracy of Blessings)

Shiloh McCloud - Feminine Creativity and Spirituality

bell hooks - Love, Social Justice

Mark Nepo - Awakening

John Welwood - Love and Awakening

Eve Ensler - Women's Empowerment, Healing (Author of The Vagina Monologues - She inspired The Yoni Endeavor)

Caroline Myss - My Spiritual Teacher

Andrew Harvey - Mysticism, Queer Spirituality, The Divine Feminine

Lucille Clifton - Feminine Wisdom in Poetry (Huge influence on me in college as I was learning to embrace myself as a woman.)

And four science fiction writers because they deeply inspire me:

Frank Herbert - Incredible Insight into Human Evolution (Philosophy, Religion, Politics)

Octavia Butler - Gave me a Heroine with the Gift of Empathy

Dan Simmons & Orson Scott Card - Beautiful Visions of What Humans Can Become


I am going to tag people I'd love to answer this in Facebook.

(Image Source: Enter the Heart by Shiloh McCloud

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coming Out of the Spiritual Closet

From today's entry in Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening (I want to give this book to everyone I know):

Being true to who we are
means carrying our spirit like a candle
in the center of our darkness.

If we are to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one's soul: to have and to hold...for better or for sickness and in love and to cherish, till death do us part.

This means staying committed to your inner path. This means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing. This means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations. It means loving yourself no matter how others see you. It means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way. It means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul.

It is interesting that the nautical definition of marry is "to join two ropes end to end by interweaving their strands." To marry one's soul suggests that we interweave the life of our spirit with the life of our psychology; the life of our faith and truth with the life of our doubts and anxiety. And just as two ropes that are married create a tie that is twice as strong, when we marry our humanness to our spirit, we create a life that is doubly strong in the world.

Yes. This is what is seek, to make myself stronger in the world by marrying my humanness to my spirit. I am withdrawing from Imps leadership - and the pursuit of full-time/partnership relationship - because I need to learn to hold space for humanness, first my own so that I can better hold space for others. I am choosing to dive into my spirit, to strengthen my relationship with the Divine within so that I can better relate to the Divine in the others. I am pulling back and examining every life choice from the perspective of integrity and desire: is this aligned with what I know about myself, what I know about Love, and my Divinely inspired desires for my life?

I need to fall in love with my self and my dreams. I need to learn who April really is and fall madly, deeply in love with all that I find: both my Divine Spark and my imperfect human filled with quirky desires that are spiritual and hedonistic, generous and narcissistic, creative and ordinary, playful and dark.

Letting go of the Impropriety Society is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But over and over God has asked me to turn my heart towards my spiritual longing, and over and over I have only gone so far and then said no, I will go no further. I would entangle myself in relationship or creative projects, and exhaust myself so that solitary time was spent vegging out in recovery rather than in soul-feeding activities (art, writing, reading, spiritual practice, yoga, etc.). I would keep my spirituality subdued, so that the people who know and love me best really have no idea how important God and the spiritual life is to me. And my emotional, physical and spiritual health suffered for it. I am not living in integrity with my faith and my truth.

This is how deep my faith is: I have known every single moment of my life that there is some kind of God/Universal Energy/Sacred Presence, something that binds all of life and feeds the passionate energy of evolution. I believe conscious growth and evolution is the point of everything. We are pieces of God experiencing all of life through evolution. And somehow it's all powered by Love.

I have always, even in my darkest moments, felt held by God and trusted the power of Love. This seems to be a rare life experience, to not have known one moment of doubt or faithlessness. I don't know how to explain my deep abiding faith in God and Love, especially in light of how much trauma and loss I have experienced in my life. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe faith is part of my unique genius.

It is this faith that keeps me choosing open-heartedness as much as I possibly can no matter what happens in my life, no matter the heartache and painful experience that comes from being vulnerable. I trust that I cannot be broken. I trust that God and Love will keep me safe and thriving in life no matter what circumstances come my way. I trust that the only thing that holds me back is my fear, which is why I work so hard to become conscious of my fears and fear based behaviors. I shine the light into my darkness so that I may act in enlightenment and love as often as possible.

And maybe this genius for faith and my desire to contribute to our collective evolution is why I am drawn to this idea of sex positive spiritual guidance (coaching, counseling, whatever), with a creative twist (using art/music/writing projects as part of the coaching process), as the kind of work I desire to be doing in the world. I believe this is my bliss, the vocation I have been looking for since I initiated myself 15 years ago as Priestess/Bodhissatva, surrendering my life in devotion to lightening the suffering of all beings. That has always been the driving motivation of my community service, art, writing, and my flavor of giving friendship and love.

My first step towards this goal is putting out an invitation very soon for spiritual community to gather in my home on a biweekly basis to share ritual, prayer/meditation, study and discussion about the spiritual journey (and whatever else we decide to do together). Through conversations with community members I have found that for some of us there is a hunger for spiritual connection. We believe in some kind of Divine Presence or Universal Energy or Sacred Connection, and we see its importance and expression in our relationships. We don't feel comfortable in churches. We don't know of any spiritual communities for sex positive, bdsm practicing, queer and poly freaky people. Even the ones that embrace freaky folk don't bring discussions of these parts of our lives into the spiritual conversation. And what we get from the sex positive community doesn't fill our longing to share our personal spiritual journey with others who feel a connection to the Sacred in some way. I desire this in my own life and so I am going to try to facilitate the creation of it within our community.

The interesting thing is that I have been thinking and talking about doing this for two years. Truthfully, I've been feeling called to it for many years in various forms and I have kept saying no. I probably have friends who doubt I'll follow through this time because they've been listening to me talk and not act for so long. But I can't ignore the longing in my own heart any longer...or the fact that a week after deciding to resign from the Imps the Universe sent me a friend who specifically asked me to do this because she needs it, too. It doesn't get any more obvious that I am being called than that.

Being true to who I am is bridging transcendent spirituality with immanent earthy human life and sexuality. To marry my own soul is to marry the importance of my spiritual path to the rest of my life, despite the fears of exclusion, rejection, loneliness, etc. I am following God's call to come out of the spiritual closet and am trusting that my tribe and community, who has held all the freakiness and quirky Aprilness I could throw at them, will continue to hold me, support me and connect with me where I am most in integrity with the truth of who I am.

I am trusting Love.

Image Source: Born of Light by Meganne Forbes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Night Tears

There is a crying
that happens at night
that does not come
while the light is with us.
There are things that cannot
be evaded
once the sun goes down.
Small nocturnal creatures
with sharp white teeth
silently gnaw at the edges of
belly and heart
when the darkness descends
and the void inside
grows larger.

It can split you open.

And bone
in the centre of your chest
like the cracked wishing bone
from the turkey breast.

And if we are strong enough
to be weak enough
we are given a wound
that never heals.

It is the gift
that keeps the heart open.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer © 1995

Monday, November 8, 2010


in the center of my chest,
their constant dwelling:
the persistent yearning
the insistent craving
the unbidden imagining
the desire awakening
the daydream, the nightdream
the reverie unfolding:
the language of longing
drawing me home.

~ Jan Richardson, In Wisdom’s Path

Sometimes it aches, much like grief. Sometimes it feels dark, like emptiness. Sometimes it feels like incredible passion that has no outlet for expression. It comes in waves. It will come when I am alone. It will come when I am surrounded by others. It will even come when I am in another’s embrace.

Longing. A deep reaching for something I can feel, yet mostly remains just out of grasp. It feels like I crave something much bigger than my heart can hold, possibly bigger than life itself.

"Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure. The only rule is, suffer the pain. Your desires must be disciplined And what you want to happen in time, sacrificed." ~Rumi

I have been contemplating and reading a lot about longing. Actually, the Universe has been talking to me about longing. I am attempting to truly understand this place I keep returning to. No matter what path I follow, no matter what I do with my life or what relationships I form, I keep coming back to this incessant and deep longing for something more. I can project onto other people or creative projects for awhile, but it never lasts. I return to what feels like the vast space between me and everything, me and God.

Intellectually, I know it is a longing for Oneness and direct experience of the Divine. That is the source of all our longing, a desire to return to where we come from, where there is no separation or isolation. Wearing a skinsuit (as a dear friend puts it), sets us apart from one another. While we can penetrate each others bodies and experience communion through shared energy, we can never truly become one while we are in skinsuits. I cannot join you in yours, you cannot join me in mine.

Oh but we try. I have been first hand witness to a couple hundred people attempting to assuage their longing for a few brief moments as they dance and play and fuck in a room together. I have had rapturous moments with lovers in a union of love and orgasm. We crave sex because it is the closest thing to Oneness most of us know.

And then there are those of us who have tasted Oneness through ritual, altered states induced by substances or body modification or prayer, and energetic experiences with individuals and groups. My empathic experiences certainly feel like Oneness.

No matter how we get there the experience is brief. Few of us have attained enlightenment – which I believe is a full time conscious experience of Oneness with All That Is. The rest of us get brief tastes...and we may likely become addicted to them.

I know all this intellectually, I know to the core of my being that spiritual connection is a vital expression of who I am, and yet I keep turning away from it. I lack discipline and I find distraction in what feels good, especially intimacy (oxytocin, touch, emotional vulnerability) and relationship (validation), which may be addictions, and justify it as conscious experience through which I am evolving. I am evolving in many ways, but I am also stagnating spiritually, returning to the same place over and over again.

"Our longing is the way." Rumi

Here. Where the longing is so great I feel it physically in my chest. It's time to dive in to the mystery, to follow the trail along which longing leads me. No more distractions and avoidance. No more hiding. My longing is the way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Your Life Is Your Art (said Anais Nin)

I love Fall. I am sitting here with my laptop drinking a cup of tea, warmed by the roaring fire in the woodstove, surrounded on two sides by views of the trees, sun streaming through the windows, and I find myself in a strange place of both deep comfort and unsettledness. I am sitting with a significant decision I've made to near completely change my life over the next 7-9 months.

All of my life I have been making my life from found art. I have taken what the Universe drops in my path and made the most extraordinary beauty I could possibly muster from it. I have transformed tragedy into treasure, at times literally turning it into service, art and poetry that impacted other people's lives in positive ways. I made motherhood my art, attempting creative mastery at holding space for my children's conscious unfolding. I've chosen unsatisfying but secure administrative work that pays well in order to provide for my children, and have learned how to become a good leader and successfully run an organization with a fairly healthy and very loving culture because of my experience.

Whatever life hands me, no matter how dark, dirty or mundane, I will transform it into something remarkable.

All of my life I have also made myself visible by serving the needs of others. I had a revelation through an NLP session with Dave Berman at Manifest Positivity that I believe I earn my visibility to others through my generosity and service. If I was not giving, then I didn't believe I was visible or lovable. I believed that I had to justify or earn my existence and love from others.

I have never taken a significant life dream of my own and brought it into reality. I haven't actually spent much time dreaming, not really. One reason is that I haven't had the time for it because I am so busy serving other people's dreams, whether it's my children's dreams, or my partner's dreams (when I have one), or my employer's dream for their organization and the dreams of the people they serve, or the dreams of the Imps community (or whatever community I'm volunteering for).

Another reason I haven't dreamed much is because I didn't believe dreams could come true for me. In my early 20's, after having to make so many sacrifices of my own desires to meet my children's needs, I stopped believing that I could have anything different. They came first and then I tried to satisfy pieces of myself wherever I could find the space (making sculptures while watching movies with the family, late night writing after everyone was asleep, occasional weekend trips to the city, etc.).

It's not that I don't have dreams, I just haven't spent much time with them. I have dreams that live in the background of my heart. Since I was a teenager I have dreamed of being a writer who touches other people's lives in a positive way by sharing my stories and the insights into being human that they've unfolded in me. I've dreamt of creating community based multi-media art projects that bring healing to groups that are in conflict. I've dreamt of telling other people's stories through art and writing, stories of people who are different and need to be understood for who they are, or people who have survived terrible things that we need to change in the world but are too damn complacent because the realities don't touch us. I used to talk about searching for some kind of grant funding that would allow me to focus on creative work (but never really believed it would happen for me).

I have also dreamed a long time of being a counselor of some kind, helping people make sense of their life stories, offer experiences that facilitate healing, and support them in living consciously. At times I've thought about it through the lens of spiritual guidance. Now maybe I would call it sex positive spiritual guidance.

Two weeks ago I decided it's time to make my dreams come true. I am going to refocus my energy into creating the work of my heart. I am going to put my energy this winter into figuring out how to transition from my current work to the work I desire to be doing with people. Steps toward this will include working through the Fire Starter Sessions (which I purchased months ago but haven't spent any time with), changing my blog home and purpose, promoting my writing, participating in establishing a sex positive peer support group, and creating/facilitating a spiritual community of some kind.

I am also planning to relocate, probably to the Bay Area, next summer. I am dreaming of finding community that meets my needs spiritually and creatively and I've never really found it in Humboldt. There are many amazing people here and I am so incredibly grateful for their presence in my life, but I've never found resonance with other artists or spiritual communities here. I feel an urban area that draws a much wider diversity of creative and spiritual people might be a better fit for me.

Shifting my focus means that I am resigning immediately as a hostess (event coordinator) for the Impropriety Society. I don't know exactly that my relationship to the Imps will look like over the coming months, but it will be changing in significant ways to make space in my life for following my heart. While I love our community and love the impact the parties have on people's lives, I am not getting my needs for personal fulfillment met by big event production. I've been serving a need I see rather than serving in ways that bring me the most joy.

I look foward to witnessing how the Imps will continue to grow and thrive in my absence. I trust my partners and the people who have stepped into leadership to both carry forward the best of who are now and create new visions of who we could be. And perhaps I will carry the Imps into my new home in some way, bringing our vision for inclusive sex positive culture into a place that has allowed diversity to keep people apart.

Whatever role the Imps play in my life from here forward, it's time for me to craft my life into the masterpiece I know it can be and will allow me to serve in ways that bring me the most joy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What It Means to Be Sex Positive

As I was pulling educational materials together for the Carnal-Val event last month, I pulled together definitions of what it means to be sex positive.

This is one of the most comprehensive definitions I've found as stated by the Executive Director of the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle...

Sex-positive is a cultural philosophy that understands sexuality as a positive force in personal development and society. To be sex-positive is to believe that…

Consensual sexual expression is a basic human right regardless of the form that expression takes.

People have the right to accurate and straightforward sexual health information.

It is not appropriate to judge others consensual choices regarding how to have sex, who to have sex with, and how one defines their sexual orientation and identity.

It is equally important to focus on the positive aspects of sexuality, like sexual pleasure, and not just disease prevention, prevention of sexual assault and unwanted pregnancy.

Sexuality is largely socially constructed, and there are few if any essential truths about sex.

As I reflected on this definition, I realized that I have not been practicing sex positivity with myself.

Because I am very literally surrounded by people who explore and encourage casual sex and relationship in various ways, whether they are couples or single, I have assumed that sex positive means being open to casual interaction. I have felt pressure as a sex positive leader to explore sexual openness through ethical sluttiness, especially within the poly relationship that I attempted with Knight.

The truth is that I have lacked a sex positive attitude towards my own natural sexual tendencies because they are very different than most of the people I know. I have doubted myself and tried to tell different stories about who I am in order to fit into other people's ideas of open sexuality. While open-minded exploration of my own edges in order to determine who I am and what I desire is a positive thing, doubting/distrusting myself is not.

Over the summer I explored the possibility of being an ethical slut and pursuing casual sexual and power exchange encounters. While I had conversations with several people, I only had one casual encounter, which was fun but less than fulfilling. In my explorations I discovered that I have no desire to connect with someone sexually if I do not connect with them intellectually and emotionally. I don't experience excitement from encounters with (near) strangers like many of my friends. I don't experience excitement from sexual chemistry alone.

I experience excitement in connecting with people at multiple levels, at having my mind, heart and body stimulated simultaneously. Being sex positive is accepting that that it is all right to only desire deeper connection with my sexual partners.

While I am a lusty woman who can get down and dirty in all kinds of ways, the truth is that sex is a sacred act in my life. I am learning to accept that the fullest expression of my sexuality is intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical. Anything less is not in integrity with who I am or what I desire.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love and Fear

"Her wounds came from the same source as her power."
Adrienne Rich

I have been passionately interested in love and healthy relationship since I was a teenager. I don't mean romantic love, although I have had typical obsessions with romantic relationship over the years. I mean the Big Love, the Love that is the life's blood of the Universe, the Love believed by all the world's religions. The sort of love represented in the story of the sacrifice of Jesus' life for humanity. When I was a practicing Christian (ages 3-20), I was deeply touched by the story of Jesus and his immense love for us all. I desired to feel that love in my own life and be that love with other people.

I started reading Leo Buscaglia, the first university professor to teach love, when I was 15. I started working on my self development with Scott Peck's The Road Less Travelled when I was 16. Even in the midst of living with my mother's narcissism, addictions and emotional abuse, my stepfather's alcoholism, and my father's neglect I knew there was a happier way to live and I knew it was based in love.

Back then I perceived it as God's Love. As my understanding of God, religion/spirituality and love have grown over years of intellectual study and experiential living, what remains is this knowing deep in my heart that we are capable of living with so much more love than we do. We are so afraid, afraid every day in so many ways. I seem to have been born with an innate awareness of, and drive to create, the Love filled lives that we are capable of living. I can feel the potential of it and everything in my life is motivated towards growing deeper in love for myself and others. My deepest desire for relationship is to find others who will go to the depths of love with me, who will choose to face our shadows together and work to heal into greater experiences of love together.

There is very little black-and-white duality sort of thinking that I invest in anymore, but I do believe that all of our emotions and choices, big or small, are based in either love or fear. Love leads to expansion, fear leads to contraction. Love allows us to be big and shine our lights for one another, fear causes us to shrink into the shadows. Love leads to Oneness, fear leads to separation/isolation.

It seems that part of my ability as an intuitive/empath is to feel when people are making love or fear based choices. I just know, even when they aren't necessarily conscious of their own motivations. I also tend to have intuition about what a person could do to choose love rather than continue in a fear-based pattern. That isn't just intuition, I have a 15 year self education in self development, psychology, philosophy, religion and spirituality. I have a pretty good understanding of how the human heart and mind work (based on our current collective understanding, of course we still have much to learn).

It very literally hurts my heart to witness/feel people choose fear. Because it hurts, I judge it as bad. I don't know how to change that. I don't know that I should. I watched fear slowly kill my mother. Her fear eventually grew so big that she became psychotic with delusions. I watch my ex-husband sit day after day for 7 years in his bedroom in front of his computer because he was too afraid to interact with the world. He lives a very small and depressed life (and I lived that life with him for awhile because I was afraid to give up my delusions about our so-called partnership and be on my own again). I've felt the big impact fear can have, and I see it's little impact in people's lives every day (including my own).

For a long time I have struggled with the story that my mom, my ex, and others chose fear over their love for me. Because I chose my children when fear could have ruled my life, I have told myself the story that my mother chose her fear, her addictions, and her narcissism over me, as if it was a conscious decision she made very day. Same with my ex-husband. I believed he chose his fear over our family. I made it personal and I am working on changing that. It isn't ever about me, it's about their own relationship to love and fear. But even if I take myself out of it, the reality is that it hurts to watch the people I love suffer from fear based choices.


"Closing the heart is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we close it, we attract more reasons to keep it closed. Opening the heart is a soul-fulfilling prophecy. When we open it, we attract blessings." Jeff Brown

Part of my grief process right now is accepting that Knight made a fear based choice four months ago (and actively maintained since) that prevents our relationship from being what it could be. It has nothing to do with poly. It has to do with what is, or isn't, between us by his choice. He told me this when we came back together, but I didn't want to believe it. I chose to hope for the potential for great love I could feel between us. I poured my whole heart into our relationship. But he did not do the same. And now I know that I can't be in a relationship that isn't whole. I can't be in a relationship where fear prevents love from flowing and healing from taking place.

The struggle I am having right now is with the story that Knight chose his fear over his love for me. I don't know how not to take it personally, how not to feel rejected. I realize that the bigness of my grief, and my anger towards Knight, come from the history of the people I love choosing their fear. This is a pattern in my life.

The struggle I am having right now is with my own fear. My fear tells me that I will always feel rejected in his presence. My fear tells me that I can never be emotionally intimate with him again, even as friends. My fear tells me that I am not strong enough to bear watching him having other relationships in this community, relationships that I have to watch unfold and be expressed through BDSM and sex in public, in front of me at the parties that I help create.

I am scared. I am scared of how much more this is going to hurt. I am scared that it will hurt too much. My fear tells me to shut down, to shut him out, to try and make myself cold so that I don't feel it. My fear tells me to stay angry so that I can fall out of love with him.

Now I face the choice between fear and love. What are the loving choices for myself and towards Knight as we transition away from a romantic relationship to each other? What is the most loving choice for the community as I try to navigate my grief as we approach a big party? Can I be a positive role-model by making it about love, by embracing Knight as my friend and his other relationships as part of his joy? I desire more than anything for him to be happy. I just wanted him to be happy going to the depths of love with me.


It isn't about being fearless. Most of us will struggle with fear all our lives. We're evolutionarily conditioned for it and it's something we have to change as a species.

It's a matter of being willing to face our fear, to shine the light on our shadows in order to experience deeper joy, love, and intimacy. Most of us run from our shadows, especially in relationship. Yet there is nothing more intimate than sharing the evolutionary process with another person and actively choosing love in the face of fear together. There is nothing more vulnerable than exposing your darkest shadows to each other, forgive yourself and the other, and to choose to heal through conscious action to be happier and more loving together.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Telling the Truth

I have not written for the last month because I have not wanted to face the truths of my life and my relationship with Knight. Writing requires truth-telling. I have been avoiding the truth. I have been hiding away and telling myself all kinds of sad stories instead.


I have been telling myself for months the story that I need to be fixed, that I am broken, wounded, and unable to have healthy (poly) relationship because the way Knight is choosing to do poly and be in relationship to me causes me suffering.

But it isn't true.

I faced my demons and dug through the past and tried to approach love from every possible conscious angle in order work through my poly issues to stay connected to Knight. I brought everything I had to the table -- everything I know and am daily learning about conscious relationship, psychology, spirituality and love. I tried to fix my mind and my heart, thinking that if I just worked on myself hard enough I would stop suffering. (And I have been so very mean to myself in the process.) But no matter how much work I do on myself, the truth is that my needs and desires for Knight and for relationship aren't being met. We want different things from our relationship. When I take all the wounded stories away, the truth is that I desire more than a part-time relationship with the love of my life. If I am going to give my all, I need someone who will bring their all to the table for me and for our relationship.


I have been telling myself for months the story that I might be crazy and that I can't manage my emotions. My mother never got better. My mother died because she had a psychotic break after years of trying to heal her depression. She was a narcissist and narcissists rarely get better because they can't get out of their self-obsession. I had a tough time convincing my doctor the other day that I was once Borderline because Borderlines don't usually get better either. She told me Borderline is on the Narcissistic spectrum (which makes sense). The laws of both nature and nurture are against me in this. It is so easy to believe the story that I am and always will be mentally ill because I feel emotions so deeply.

But it isn't true.

The truth is that I have been at the mercy of crazy hormones the last few months because I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and this is the new way it is manifesting (I will write more about PCOS and its impact on my life in another post). PCOS can cause depression and severe mood swings. My mood swings have been on monthly cycles. I am not crazy. I have fucked up chemistry right now. I saw my doctor recently to take steps to become healthy and hormonally balanced again.


Today I learned just how healthy and loving that I am. Today I hugged the man who put a gun to my head on the night my daughter was conceived nearly 16 years ago. Today I celebrated with him the amazing and beautiful young woman that we created together in our violence and insanity.

Today I came full circle with the night I hit bottom, when my insanity was at its worst, when I nearly lost my life while my 4 year old son was sleeping on the other side of my bedroom wall. That is the night that turned my life around. When I found out I was pregnant, I realized that I would damage two children the way I was damaged if I didn't pull myself out of the crazy. So I have worked on my self for 15 years. And I didn't just pull myself out the crazy. I raised two remarkable human beings almost entirely on my own. I contributed to my community through my work and my volunteerism every year since, no matter my personal struggles. I am a successful artist, writer and community leader.

The truth is that I am not broken. I am fucking amazing. I am big and powerful and I am worth someone giving their whole heart to. I love big and I love deep. I need someone who will meet me in the big and deep.

As a dear friend once wrote about me, the truth is that I am woman living an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. I am a woman who desires (and strives) to love in extraordinary ways.

The truth is that I am a woman too big for part-time relationships and unfulfilling office work. It's time to move into a life that is as big as I am, in my work, in my relationships, in every way.


This past week I finally faced the truth. This past week I learned that I am not broken or unhealthy because I am not happy with the choices Knight is making in regards to our relationship. This past week I finally realized that I both desire and deserve more...that if I desire to give someone all of my heart, I should only be giving it someone who desires to give me all of theirs (even if they share it with others).

I am finally admitting what is true, to myself, to Knight and to my tribe so they can support me in letting go, so they can remind me why I can't go back (even though I am sobbing right now because I want so badly to be in his arms rather than walking away).


I will be writing again but this will no longer be the story of my relationship with Knight. While I believe we will eventually be close friends again, I am moving onto a new chapter in my life. This will be the story of my grief, my growth and my resurrection into greater love and joy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Power of Your Intense Fragility

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
-e.e. cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Make Love is to Make Justice

Our Passion for Justice – Carter Heyward

Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling, not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being “drawn toward”. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggles, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.

For this reason, loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called “love”. Love is a choice - not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity - a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is a choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.
(Thank you Kelly!)

As The Impropriety Society takes steps toward becoming a non-profit organization, I have been inspired with the thought that the mission and vision of The Society should include love. It is my perception that everything that we do is relationship building. Our service is facilitating safe, fun and beautiful spaces for relationships to unfold between people, whether that relationship is between volunteer staff and community member, voyeur and exhibitionist, new play partners, or long-term friends and lovers. How better to build relationships than on a basis of love?

When the Hostesses started the Society, our intent and desire was to throw fun and sexy parties. Little did we know what we were in for. While we could have focused entirely on throwing events without regard for the community we serve, we have discovered that it is our passion to build community through inclusiveness in all possible ways. We have also discovered that opening Pandora's Box of freedom in sex and relationship has the consequence of unleashing big emotions and fears in tandem with the pleasure and joy. We consciously acknowledge what arises and act from an intention to support each other in our processes of growth and healing when things get rough.

I believe that it is an act of love to embrace another human being who expresses something that challenges our own worldview. The Imps community commits these acts of love regularly. We embrace the person who has a kink we don't understand rather than reject them in judgment or fear. We embrace the person who creates a difficult situation in ignorance and practice forgiveness and education rather than exclusion. We even embrace ourselves when we discover we have desires that we've been conditioned to believe are disgusting or morally wrong. It is an act of love for self to come out of the closet and it is an act of love to support others when they come out of theirs.

The Impropriety Society believes in freedom of expression. But the space we create for freedom doesn't only require physical security, people require a sense of emotional safety in order to be vulnerable. People need permission to be open; they need to be boldly invited and encouraged to express themselves. We facilitate emotionally safe spaces and invite people to express the fullness of who they are, whether that means expressing themselves sexually or in other ways. Our parties aren't as much about the acts of sex as they are about a place where we can be integrated, where our sexuality isn't excluded from our experience like it is in the rest of life beyond our bedroom. Many who attend our events don't have sex, but express themselves openly through talk and dance and play.

What I am learning is that successfully creating emotional safety requires a loving intent. Emotional safety extends beyond having a Vibes Crew at our events, it includes facilitating an emotionally safe space for written expression on our Yahoo list and encouraging posters to communicate with compassion rather than hostility (especially when they disagree). Facilitating emotional safety includes radical honesty in interactions between staff in order to find understanding with each other when we experience conflicts. Facilitating emotional safety means finding compassion for those that hurt us and reaching out when it's hardest to do so. And it means choosing what is best for the collective over our own ego desires or reactions. All of these are acts of love.

The last few weeks I have met people who feel they are bound by cultural, professional, relationship or other limitations and cannot be free to be who they are. I met a 50 year old man who has an incredible new passion for sexual discovery but is married to a woman who has no desire for sexual adventure, so he is seeking covert relationships. I learned of a prominent political activist who can't attend play parties because it would tarnish his reputation. I know several people who are concerned that they will lose clients or suffer negative consequences in their workplace if they attend Imps events. I am heartbroken by these stories. Wonderful people who do good things in the world cannot participate in the bliss--the community friendship and love--that so many of us have experienced at our parties. Or if they can participate, they have to hide it rather than celebrate something that brings them great joy.

As a culture we are so frickin' mixed up. We demand good sex stays in the bedroom but we pull it out into the streets as often as possible in order to oppress or manipulate other people, especially those that oppose our worldview. We humiliate each other with sex. We use sex as a weapon. We broadcast headlines when people hurt each other through sex but we hide away all the loving sexual experiences that are happening all over the world every day.

Sex positive activism is seeking justice for everyone who varies from cultural norms around sexual expression. We are seeking justice for everyone who has been or will be oppressed and have their rights, their job or their children taken away because of their sexual expression. Just as we advocate for the rights of homosexuals to marry, we advocate for the right to be free with our sexuality (as long as we are consensual and don't cause harm to others). We are seeking to create a culture where no one has to worry about losing their job or their child or going to jail because they enjoy sex at a party or whipping someone with a flogger or have multiple relationships.

If we spent as much time and energy condemning those that are causing harm to others through sex crimes and sexual exploitation as we do condemning healthy sexual expression in good people, we could save the minds, lives and bodies of millions of men, women and children. If we spent as much time and energy celebrating our sexuality as we do hiding it, judging it, and hurting each other with it, we would all experience more freedom and happiness in our relationships to one another.

Becoming a non-profit organization and extending our services to expand the circle of emotional safety puts us on the frontline of the sex positive revolution. We are taking a bold step because we believe in justice and freedom. We are committing to a mission to better ourselves and the world because we love: we love community, we love freedom, we love sex, and we love what we have created together the last two and a half years. I am excited to see what unfolds for The Society and Humboldt County as we evolve and grow.


Image Source: Love One Another by Shiloh Sophia