Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Stories We Tell Ourselves About Each Other

"I have experienced tremendous tragedies in my life, ninety percent of which never happened." ~ Mark Twain

I am thinking a lot about the stories we tell ourselves about each other - the assumptions we make about the other person's words, actions and behaviors - whether our lover, our friend, or the stranger in the grocery store.

More often than not, it seems like we tell ourselves the worst possible fear stories, rather than look for the best possible love stories.

For instance, we might tell ourselves Susie is quiet because she's snobby and judgmental, when really she's just shy and has trouble with small talk (a story people have told themselves about me). Or maybe our boyfriend knows we have a trigger around him talking to that one woman, so he must be hurting us on purpose by talking to her (and she's trying to steal him), when really he's helping her out with a genuine problem. If someone's not answering a text, email or phone call, they must be ignoring us or have a problem with us, when really they're just very busy and maybe haven't even seen what we've sent yet.

We especially tell stories about the misunderstandings and conflicts we have with each other. That's where misunderstandings come from, we tell ourselves a different story than what the other person intended instead of getting clarity from them. When someone lashes out to hurt us, we tell ourselves they are intentionally hurtful, when actually they are acting out of their own pain.

We make these fear-full assumptions about each other all the time, and then we make an emotional investment in the stories we tell, creating our own suffering in the process.

This is important to me because my last broken relationship fell victim to this all too human tendency in irreparable ways. I was heartbroken because someone told themselves the worst possible stories about things I said or did - even accused me of intentional cruelty - and invested so much energy in those stories that the truth couldn't discharge the negative emotion and bring understanding. I will own that I also told myself stories about them that kept intimacy from deepening. When misunderstandings or conflicts arise, everyone involved starts telling themselves blaming and shaming stories about each other, most or all of which are untrue.

This is also important to me because I'm noticing how I'm doing it in some of my new relationships, although I'm mostly catching myself in the process and shifting the story, rather than taking my false stories and suffering to the other person. Sometimes this takes minutes, sometimes it takes hours. But I strive to come back to the love story unfolding between me and the other, rather than let the fear stories take hold and trigger emotional reactions.

The craziest thing about this kind of story-telling is that we do it the most with the people who love us most deeply -- the very people we should be trusting are always acting with the best intention towards us, even when they make a mistake that hurts us. Over the last couple months I've caught myself telling fearful stories about my business partners, now that I've stepped down as hostess and am trying to figure out my role as a founder-but-no-longer-hostess. I even had a nightmare about it. I've feared that they will think I'm acting entitled in an inappropriate way when I tell them how I still desire to be involved. The truth is that they are as confused as I am about my place and they are certainly open to exploring what's comfortable for all of us regarding my new roles. I also tell myself fearful stories about my friends, assuming that if someone doesn't ask me for time that they don't want to connect with me, when really they've got incredibly busy lives but would make time if I asked for it, or maybe even have their own stories that hold them back from reaching out to me.

I also notice that while we know that we are here for each other in any possible way, we still don't always ask for support, a listening ear, a hug or touch, or whatever we might need that would make our struggles a little easier to bear. We call each other family and yet we don't fully trust each other's deep, deep desire to connect. We all desire to experience love as much as we possibly can. And yet we hold ourselves back all the time. And tell ourselves stories to justify keeping our distance.

I am striving to notice my fear stories and stop them before they gain emotional momentum. I am also focusing on the love stories unfolding in my life with deeper awareness than ever before.

I am sure this will be an on-going work for me. What about you? What fear stories can you change into love stories?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feels Like More Love Than My Heart Can Bear

Sometimes I lose sight of the most important reasons that I have given my life to sex positive activism and consciously building cultures of love. Sometimes I get so caught up in my little bubble of liberal culture in Humboldt County that I forget what's going on in the rest of the world. This past week and a half I have been broken open by both love and heartache.

Here's what's going on in the rest of the world...

"Intrepid "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan endured a "brutal and sustained" sexual assault by a mob of men while covering the Egyptian uprising, CBS News said."

Rape used as a weapon of mass destruction: "A source from Tripoli has confirmed to us that Al Zawiya Street hospital seen many rape victim admittances last night. Such deplorable and sickening actions were committed after Gaddafi’s speech in which he called for door-to-door cleansing of the city from those who are against his regime."

It's easy in my safe and incredibly beautiful little corner of the the planet to forget how much violence is a normal state of being in other parts of the world. When I identified as a sexual trauma survivor and created The Yoni Endeavor, I focused my attention on violence against women. Now that I work through sex positive activism and loved based spirituality, I spend my time and attention on positive things -- creating amazing spaces for people to connect and share, nurturing healthy relationships in my intimate circle and the community at large, and writing about my journey to deeper experiences of Love. Rather than being a reactionary activist who creates more resistance, I strive to embody, role-model and create the change I seek to see in the world. I strive to create cultures of love.

Someone said to me last night that he felt that with our events we create little windows of how it's possible for the world to be -- a place where everyone is free to express themselves and find belonging.

"When we denigrate the erotic impulse to create and to connect, we fall in love with the power of violence."
Beverly Dale

The reason people sexually assault a woman during a revolutionary celebration or war is because their freedom of expression has been oppressed for so fucking long. The freedom to be who we are is the most important thing in the world as far as living together on this planet is concerned. When we are free to be who we are, who we are is mostly good. When we are oppressed and forced to endure constant violence or threat of violence, who we are is miserable and we perpetrate that misery on each other. It seems like common sense in 2011 and yet we are still perpetuating the misery everywhere.

"Your happiness is the most significant contribution that you could make. In your reaching for happiness, you are opening a vortex which makes you an avenue for well-being to flow through you. And anything that is your object of attention under those conditions, benefits by the infusion of your Well-being."

This past Valentine's weekend I continued to participate at a very deep level with The Impropriety Society as Co-head of Vibes because I believe so strongly in community and creating a safe space for true freedom of expression. It's so amazing what happens when people feel free to express themselves - because what we all really desire to express is love and joy and play and creativity. We want to make music or dance or create beautiful costumes or plan edgy scenes or make love to someone or spend the whole night having a love affair with everyone we come into contact with. In the depths of our hearts, most of us long to be a part of a culture of love.

I did try to embody Vibes and connect as deeply as I could with everyone I interacted with, not just during the party, but during the entire weekend. I tried to follow through on every impulse for connection - from inviting someone from Facebook to attend whether he knew people who were going or not, to doing a little energetic work with a performer who was feeling low physically, to giving hugs generously during breakdown. I didn't always succeed. I lacked a bit of grace here and there (like on stage of all places), or just wasn't as present as I could be. But I have to trust that everything unfolded as it was meant to and everyone made the connections they needed to.

What I experienced with the community was amazing and what unfolded within my personal relationships was downright magical. What amazes me more is to know that my dearest friends and a whole lot of other people had this kind of big magic that night. So much goodness! I am sharing what my goodness looked like because I want people to understand what is possible when you open yourself in the biggest possible ways to loving others.

I am loving how there are so many different kinds of relationship unfolding for me - from the lovers who ignite my sexual fire, to the kissing friends who have passionate make out sessions with me, to the snuggle friends who are cuddly every time I come near, or even the guy I met in the smoking area and gave his first kiss of the night. As I open my heart to the fullest expression of love I'm capable of, I receive more and more love from the people around me. As I break out of the limitations of traditional relationship structures, I am able to receive as much love and touch and intimacy as I can possibly stand. It isn't just at the parties, it's extending into deeper relationships with members of my tribe that I haven't gone so deep with before. Three of my five lovers are dear friends turned something else. Even my definition of lover has changed. I think a lover is someone with whom we share deep physical and emotional energy, possibly even erotic, but that doesn't mean it has to express full-on sexually. Lovers are people we share deep intimate love with in a significant way.

I had so many lovers at 1001 Arabian Nights.

My first date of the night was with one of my kissing friends, K. I asked him for a cuddle date. It was the first time we set intention to spend together at a party. We both ended our Vibes shift at the same time and it was a perfect transition from working to playing. K is such a bright light and one of those beautiful souls who mirrors my light back to me in profound ways, and has done so since the night he met me at our first event and we played spin the bottle. We became kissing friends instantly.

Then i had an impact play date in the dungeon with Him. He had me change from my sexy party dress to my slutty lingerie before our scene. He gave me an intense spanking/caning (on the double-sided cross across from my ex-partner and his playdate-also-one-of-my-dear-friends whom i gave a kiss, which was very cool). Afterward, we moved out into the main room and cuddled on the couch by the dancefloor for what He later called a "cosmic make-out scene." i have to agree. i danced for Him. That was really fun and i want to do it again. He turned me on so much and then wouldn't do anything about it, other than let me touch myself a bit. Damn sadist. i had a lot of sexual tension built up, which He told me He hoped i would find someone to relieve. Bastard!

What I didn't realize at the time was that dancing for Him sorta led me to my last date of the night.

But first I snuggled with Sean, who is so very awesome. Sean is a young and beautiful androgyne, an incomprehensible and compelling blend of woman and man, who is one of the best snugglers in the world. At least in my world. We have only become snuggle friends in recent weeks, after one of my moments of intentional vulnerability in which I asked for full cuddling rights. Sean has brought considerable goodness into my life since saying yes.

I am surrounded by these radiant lights embodied in my wonderfully quirky friends who are vulnerable enough to be exactly who they are and share themselves with me.

Ok, so back to my last date of the night. Eros and I have had pretty intense sexual tension between us since we met three years ago while co-creating Cherries Jubilee. Eros is the DJ and he has been one of our most amazing volunteers, giving hundreds of hours to creating playlists for every event that we've produced. He's bought equipment so that we would have the best possible sound. He's dealt with other dj's who've haven't jived with our groove or who partied too hard or brought drunk and dramatic women or who just didn't bother to show up at all. He DJ'd this last party completely on his own because the others canceled at the last minute. He's tried as hard as he could to give us what we ask for as part of the vision of each party and this last event totally rocked it. Eros is a wonderful human being who has given his whole heart to the Imps community.

It's no wonder I dig the guy so much. And I have been flirting with him more than I have ever flirted with someone. He identifies as poly but was in a complicated relationship and because he gives his whole heart he just couldn't make space for me, which I understood even though I was disappointed. I've always known what's in him, I can feel it. I can feel how deep he loves. Of course I wanna taste some of that. So I've been mostly patient and keep coming back with an open and flirtatious heart. He's no longer in that relationship and finally opened up his heart to me at this party, which I saw in his eyes when he was watching me dance for Him. At that point I was dancing for both of them. I asked him shortly thereafter if he wanted to play with me and asked that we find a bed rather than play in the dungeon. I was so happy when he said yes. And damn, did we have a good time. It was like an explosion -- three years worth of desire unleashed and the realization that we have really great chemistry. I am so excited for our next date!

I can't believe that I am so blessed to not have one Valentine, but to have an entire community of Valentines. By opening my heart to love, no matter how it shows up, I am blessed with dear friends who share love with me in all kinds of yummy ways. This blog post would go for ever if I were to try to write about every single connection I made, every beautiful moment that filled me so much with love I felt like it was more than I could possibly bear. There were tears shed often over the course of the weekend (as there have been tonight writing this) - always in complete and utter joy.

When I let myself really feel the immensity of the love I have in my life, when I really pay attention to the amazing human beings who see the amazing human being in me, I feel like I could burst with it. I can't believe that this is my life and that I'm only 37 years old and just learning that I deserve this. If I'm only a couple months into creating the life of my dreams, what on earth will I be living in a year, in five years?

What would the world be like if everyone experienced this? If we all felt held and witnessed and loved for all of who we are? How much violence would there be if every single person just experienced enough touch in their life? What would happen if everyone felt as free as we do to be queer or kinky or counter-culture or geeky or whoever they are?

What of a world free of shame? Can you imagine how different we would be if we didn't have shame, if we only had vulnerability and experienced love and acceptance for all of who we expose ourselves to be?

That's what I help to create and desire to create more of. A place where there is that kind of freedom. A place that is so far from the oppression of Egypt and Libya that I forget about the oppression that has driven me to work for a better world. Whatever I can do, whatever I can give, I will so that cultures of love will grow as cultures of violence die away.

I am ever so grateful for the love I am experiencing in my life. But I am far more grateful that an entire community of people is experiencing love at new depths because of The Impropriety Society, because of this amazing magic we co-create together. I am a part of something that is revolutionizing the world one heart at a time, including my own.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Am Awake

A Thousand Pools by Mark Nepo

I am awake. It wasn’t always so.
It may not last for long. So let me
say this while my heart is beating like
a river. This life is more than one can
bear. It’s taken years to learn this, to
feel this, to know this in my bones.
I am not talking about giving up or
persevering. I mean we’re not designed
to bear it in the first place. Anymore
than the sun bears the sky or the wind
bears the thousands of leaves it moves
through. I am awake. This time I stum-
bled to it. I was productive. Some said
on fire. Then I tripped on something
ordinary. Like a pebble in your shoe.
And I fell out of the dance I had
created. The one by which I knew
my worth. I couldn’t get it back. It
depressed me for months. But like a
whale I kept diving down and coming
up. Despite the parting of my dream.
Now I’m awake as I never imagined.
This doesn’t preclude pain or weather
or disappointment. These as well as joy
land in some lake I have carried since
birth. It stills whatever enters without
silencing our heart. Like an endless
pool that clears after a violent rain,
you can see through me. Come.
Look. I am awake.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Courting Kali & Mystic Awakening

I am so in love - with my self, with the Universe, with each and every person I am privileged to know. I feel as though I've finally broken through from the desire to be a mystic to the actual embodiment of a full on love affair with the Divine in Everything.

My heart is burning with love
All can see this flame
My heart is pulsing with passion
like waves on an ocean...

Behind the veils
intoxicated with love
I too dance the rhythm
of this moving world

I have lost my senses
in my world of lovers


I've read the erotic-mystical-love writings of Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, Hafiz, Rumi, Rilke and others and I have hungered so deeply to know that Divinely Inspired Love. I have called myself a mystic for years, but I wasn't really living the experience, at least not like this. I have had a few ecstatic moments sprinkled throughout my life - truly feeling Oneness with All That Is - but they were rare peak moments on my spiritual journey, and often induced by drugs (peyote, ecstasy, acid) or intense community spiritual rituals. Very rarely did they just occur in every day life.

This awakening that is happening in me now - this state of near constant turned-on-ness and immense love that just keeps filling me up - this I have never experienced before. I've experienced ecstatic states every day this week.

I drive down the road from my house in the woods to town and every single time I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the flowers blooming in this early spring and the trees and the sky and the unique and beautiful homes that my neighbors live in. I go to the marsh for my lunchtime walk and I cry in a gratitude prayer for the amazing life that I've been given. I read an incredibly vulnerable blog from a dear friend across the world and I am suddenly able to perceive the Divine in everything - 20 minutes I cried and loved everything and everyone in my life and awareness. It was the most overwhelming and powerful experience of Divine Awareness / Oneness / Love for All-That-Is that I have ever known.

This mystical~emotional~sexual awakening is fierce and amazing. It is as deeply erotic as it is spiritual. I am experiencing the world around me through a sensual and erotic perspective most of the time. I am turned on in some way almost all of the time. I am experiencing the Divine in everything -- the music I listen to, what I read from others, in nature, and most especially in the people I love.

I sat with my bestest buddy during brunch today and cried because I am so incredibly in love with her and what she gives me. She was expressing her guilt around accepting generosity from others and has no idea just how much she gives by being her incredibly loving, kind, accepting, fun, cuddly self who makes me feel like one of the most beautiful people in the world when she reflects my light back to me.

Every moment of my life, no matter how ordinary, is now vibrant, rich with loving energy and meaning. All of existence is a miracle and I am aware of it nearly all the time now.

Kali, the Great Mother Goddess of the Hindu tradition, is the Source, the One that gives birth to All. Known as a slayer of demons, She destroys the army of mind-born delusions symbolized by demons that separate us from the Divine as our own true Self. To our bound, limited and contracted ego identities She may strike terror, at times appearing as a coal-black, sword-wielding, blood-smeared dancer of death and destruction. To our Divine Self, She is our supremely beautiful Beloved, our dear spouse, performing a ballet of incomparable grace, overwhelming us with love.

Kali - Hindu Goddess of Universal Creation and Destruction. Destroyer of Illusions. When you burn in Kali's Fire, your illusions and ego are burned away. I have burned in Her Fire so often that I have a very conscious relationship with Her. I've written about Her before. It's taken years for me to come to peace with the constant state of transformation that defines the modern mystic's journey. Now I am not only at peace with it, but I'm falling head over heels in love with Kali and Her power in my heart. The Fire feels different this time. I feel the creation - the pheonix rising from the ashes - more strongly than I feel the burning away of old illusions, patterns, stories and wounds.

I have recently engaged in a relationship with an amazing man who also has a conscious relationship with Kali. We are exploring both a romantic-sexual connection and a D/s relationship. It's only been three weeks, yet this relationship is already impacting my life in tremendous ways. Kali's Fire is already burning and it's delicious torment.

I've had two assignments so far and they both rocked my world. The first was to write an erotic objectification fantasy -- which was a challenge on multiple levels. I don't write stories - I write real life, I have insecurities around communicating my fantasies, and I am just learning about my objectification desires. The experience was awesome and so hot -- I was inspired by a new fantasy because of the assignment and I did a good job of writing a story because I wrote it while in an aroused state.

The second assignment involved a ritual over the course of three nights -- creating an erotic-submissive sacred space for Him around me and inside of me, reading a sacred text describing a spiritual-erotic ritual in honor of Kali, a contemplation of some questions, and then writing about my experience. What came from that exploration was self-altering. I saw the Divine in myself and broke through to a much deeper level of self love. I don't know if I can be vulnerable enough to write about that experience publicly, but maybe it will one day have a post of its own.

For years I have been hungering for someone who would dive into God with me through sex and relationship. I didn't/don't know how to have that kind of relationship, but I knew intuitively that experiencing relationship as sacred practice and sexual exploration as an expression of spiritual yearnings would be a powerful and transformative experience. And it is. I am now living this dream of mine and it is remarkable.

He is a catalyst for my process of mystical awakening. It started before Him and it isn't because of Him, but He is a Gift from the Universe in catalyzing my experience. There is awakening happening in Him, too.

Tonight He said He was considering the idea of our being in a triad relationship with Kali, the Divine. Imagine that, a triad relationship with God. Really? Is that possible? It's mad and it's amazing and it's right. It's what I desire more than anything else in the Universe. To know God through loving another person as deeply, as vulnerably as possible, that is the greatest turn on there is in my world.

He is wicked smart, deeply passionate about making a difference in the world, a beautiful poet, and so very many things that turn me on. One of His gifts is to mirror my light back to me in words, telling me what He sees in me, what He appreciates in me. As if He sees the Divine in me, too.

He likes and desires my strength, my empathy/intuition, my intelligence, my spirituality, and my submissive sluttiness. He even loves my long letters. I can be all of myself with Him.

Three months ago I decided to change my life, to live more authentically and pursue the life of my dreams. Now the Universe is dropping my dreams in my lap. This love affair, it's not just catalyzing my personal growth around relationship, it's also helping me to understand my Divine Spark more, to figure out what it is I am meant to give to the world. It's all integrated.

I have opened my heart to the Universe, surrendering to where I am guided, following intuition through each new door that opens to me. The result is a new relationship that seems to be a dream come true, a more authentic relationship to the Imps that allows me to express my gifts more deeply and with more presence and joy, and this mystical awakening that is rocking my world in every possible way. It's touching me at work, making me more present to the people I interact with in the mundane every day world. It's touching my spiritual life through my new relationship and the spiritual gatherings I'm facilitating. It's touching my friendships as I experience a deeper love for everyone in my life.

I am courting Kali and awakening the mystic within me. This is the life of my dreams, right here, right now. I can't even imagine what the Divine has in store for me next.


Art by A. Andrew Gonzalez