Category Archives: Relationships

The River Amstel

Waking up in the Dam in a cosy corner in De Pipe (dutch for “the pipe”). Hosted by a lovely Aussie bearing delicious food and affectionately referring to me as his “mate” and “sweetheart.” Running along side the contours and curves of the river Amstel this morning. My mind meandering and wondering …

Will I live aboard a boat? In a house low to the ground, or high above, will I be found? Will I live in Amsterdam, Ottawa, Barcelona or far off lands? Will I marry for love, will I be on my own? Will I just jump from lover to lover, the story is yet to be shown. Will my life be neat and in time, like poetry and rhyme? Or messy and ugly and never in time?  What I know for sure is this view that I see, what I feel in my feet, what I sense that is me. Are those ashes on my feet, from the burning of past?  Are those wings on my arms, am I phoenixing at last?

It matters little to me what the future can see. I want as much now as this moment allows. So bring it on universe, I’m soft yet alert, with strength in these bones, and rooted in dirt. Listening dearly with hands held out plain. To serve and to welcome and reach out for the same.

What matters the most is the space where I stand. The landscape may sway but it’s in this body I land. Come to me river, come to me sand, come to me princes and frogs and far off lands. I run and smile as my feet hit the ground. My life is my practice. Reality. Found.

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Shifting Weight

I recently attended part 1 of a 3 part training in a conscious movement discipline called Soul Motion. It’s an embodied leadership training that recognizes the immense value of being in the body, as a way of cultivating the kind of presence that allows us to lead from a whole, resourced and integrated place.  One commitment I made to myself during the training was to join my local chapter of Toastmasters to continue practicing embodied leadership while speaking publicly.  I attended my first meeting and volunteered to do a 2 minute “table topic” speech. A topic is given to you just before you speak.  Well …. in no uncertain terms, I fell flat on my ass. A complete train wreck. What surprised me though was how I didn’t spin out into story as I know I would have in the past. Stories like, “how can I lead if I can’t speak publicly, how am I to return to the workforce and rebuild a career if I can’t do this, how am I to inspire others?”  Stories that only serve to box me in. What changed? Practice. Process. In this case, the simple practice of shifting weight.  I returned the following week to present a speech on just that. Here it is:

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You may remember me from such places as Toastmasters last week, when I feel flat on my ass in an attempt to tell you all about what my personal feelings were on what the world should do if aliens were to land on the planet next month. Though I fell flat on my ass I must tell you all Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, honoured guests. There is nothing I want more than this. That I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to step into the places that scare me the most. The places where my personality falls out the back of me and I’m left feeling like an empty shell.  To free fall into the void of darkness. The place of I really don’t know. The place where we take the greatest risk of falling.

I spoke last week about welcoming.  What my practice is these days is learning to welcome myself through my practice of dance and movement. More specifically, I’ve been practicing my walk. Noticing the shift of weight that occurs with each step.

All movement in the simplest of terms starts with a simple shift of weight. A commitment on one side. Establishing that sense of foundation. Release. Commitment. Rebounding.  Shifting and then landing on the other side.  We move from a place of finding foundation, shifting and  committing to another place of finding foundation. What I’ve observed is that there is a risk inherent in this shifting of weight. I know this because I’ve watched my son take his first steps. This place in between where we risk greatly. Losing our balance,  falling down, hurting ourselves, doing the ugly dance in an attempt to recover balance.  But it’s also the place where we have the greatest opportunity to shift, change our trajectory. Grow. Thrive.

What I’ve come to learn is that most of us resist this space in between commitments. We find a comfortable foundation and become stagnant and frozen there or we find a pattern that worked at some point and stay stuck in this pattern even when it no longer serves us.

I know this all too well cause I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life balancing on one leg. Happily married to a handsome, wealthy man.  Financial means that left me free to not have to work for the last 10 years at least.  Living a dream life in a dream home. Finally, after seven years of trying to conceive, completing the fairy tale with a son born 19 months ago. My foundation, as sexy and alluring as it was, was a fairy tale. A highly addictive one that left me frozen and perilously vulnerable for 16 long years.

A year ago my fairy tale came crashing down on me when my now ex-husband suddenly and violently kicked my leg out from under me. I fell from grace over dinner, when he suddenly announced he was leaving me and was out the door in less than an hour.  I came crashing down with all my weight into that place of in between.  I’ve spent the last year of my life recovering from the fall. Finding my foundation and humbly relearning to walk again. To shift weight. This time with a true foundation under my feet.

Learning to sink in and rather than lean in on someone or something to carry me through life, I’m learning to recognize my own foundation. That I alone have the strength and skill and determination to keep shifting and shaping and growing and expanding.  Strong legs that can run a marathon. Arms that have held up my marriage and raised my son.  A strong formal education. A sharp, analytical mind and a body that feels and is alive with sensation and wisdom.  Grit, tenacity, bravery, curiosity, compassion.

And well all else fails, I’m learning to lean into my most important resource. The capacity and desire to stay in love. Cause when all else fails and I’m flat on my ass and lost without a compass in the badlands, self love and mothering myself is all I’ve got.  I’m recognizing that these resources I’ve built over a lifetime are more than enough to carry me to the other side. More than enough to pick myself up from any fall, regardless of how ugly and undignified that fall may be.  And more than enough foundation to rebuild a life and a career on.

What I want most in this life is to be as alive and engaged as I can. To feel deeply. To shift weight and rise and fall. To fall often. Because what I know for sure is that it’s in this falling. In this darkness in between commitments that I’m really coming face to face with the truth of myself. It’s where I’m growing. And risking. And twisting and turning. Widening my field of vision. Strengthening my foundation to keep on doing this work.

I fell flat on my ass last week and know in the past that would have really spun me out. But instead I’ve been really pleased with myself. For stepping into the void. Taking a risk. Falling. Picking myself up. Dusting myself off and not letting that experience hold me back. Leadership I’m learning. It’s not about pulling off the perfect speech or living a perfect fairy tale life. For me it’s about having the courage to keep stepping into myself with truth and authenticity, compassion and love. And to keep on welcoming myself just as I am.

What Moves you – Love or Pain?

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.53.45 AMI woke up this morning asking big questions about love.  What is true love? Does it exist and does it last forever.  Where does it originate? What moves us to love?  Questions that are far too big for one post so I’ll tackle these questions in chunks. Today’s post asks whether we are moved by love or running away from pain.  I do think that “truer” love is that which is motivated by it’s own sake, unconditional, altruistic.

I happened to examine that very question in a love letter. Love letters will be a regular feature on my blog. It’s by far the best writing I do. True love does that to you. Who I am writing to and whether or not there is actually a lover on the receiving end of the letter remains a mystery.

Please stay tuned. I have much more to offer on the questions of true love. Also, if my blog is at all interesting to you, I invite you to subscribe. Good morning and good day dear ones.

Dearest L,

Wanting to unearth more from some of our recent correspondence. This time on moving towards love. It was these two statements that linger with me now.

One thing I want you to know is that I am deeply satisfied with our relationship.

One thing I want you know is that even as I type this is realize I have the capacity for so much more.

And my text to you the following day:

... and my capacity for MORE than what we share isn’t necessarily a function of you or us inherently. It’s where I stand in time and where you stand in time and the limitations and around these places we stand. But even as I write this I question whether these limitations impact on any given moment. Does it impact on the ability to open? To love? To grow? And push? My deepening love for you … evidence that my heart is having a “fuck you” relationship with the boundaries.

… but as humans, are we built … are we built … to move towards love or away from pain. What moves us? I suspect the human tendency is to be moved by the avoidance of pain more so. Is it why as a society we move towards monogamy? Is it why you and I hold fear for what it is we’re doing?  And does the fear serve us? What if … you and I allowed love to move us? What if as a society we allowed love to move us rather than this fear of pain? How would that inform our choices? How would that change the quality of our relationships? Our lives?

My observation has always been how we move outwards is a direct reflection of our relationship with self. If that’s the case then is that we somehow fear ourselves and move from that place of fear. Do we move from a sense of lack, of fear of not enough? That sounds very familiar. It rings true.

We stand at the centre of our experience. How we relate to ourselves is the fundamental foundation for how we relate to others and our world. What if we chose love? Can we choose to love ourselves 5% more. 25% more. Wholly. From a position of self love. We are enough. Inner abundance. Now. From this power position, how then does this change our perception outwards? How then does it inform how WE move? How we move with another? In community?

Love. I choose love. In the face of fear. I choose to move towards love in all it’s many forms. In the face of fear, I choose to love.

And how is that we move towards love in the face fear. In the face of what seems like human nature? I come back to my opening observation. “My deepening love for you … evidence that my heart is having a “fuck you” relationship with the boundaries.” Perhaps there in lies the answer. Listen, carefully and dearly to the calling of the heart. Listen inwards. Hold and cherish the beckoning of the heart and let it lead your inner dance. Let it lead you outwards towards love in it’s many forms. Let it lead you in the face of fear for it knows no boundaries.

I love you dear L. Deeply and wholeheartedly. I choose to love and be loved by you despite that loving you scares the shit out of me.

Always,

D

 

Living in Our Own Blindspot

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When I think back on my marriage of 16 years to X there is an image that so often comes to mind.  Countless meals sitting across the table from him.  I’d be there, ready and present, sharing the joys and pains and challenges of my life. Yet somehow, especially in the last few years we were together, he just simply wasn’t there. He was checked out and who knows where. Somehow, and sadly, I became his blindspot.  Somehow, I became invisible to him.

X and I didn’t really fight a lot. But when we did, they were the same three arguments. The chief among them being this fight to be seen. To be heard. To be valued. To feel that what I had to say was important and meant something to him.  I fought long and hard in this place.  I stayed in this fight because I felt that the extent to which I was invisible to him,  I wasn’t fully alive. I felt like I was literally fighting for my life. All those years, all I really wanted from X was to look up from whatever it was that had his attention. To look up from across the table and really see me.

Just yesterday I sent a text to a most dear and remarkable lover. Parting words as we drift away from one another:

Include

Yourself

You deserve it.

And the extent to which you do is all you really have to offer of any meaning.

What I was addressing in this text was what I perceived to be his inability to fully value is own worthiness.  Finding various reasons to numb out to his own tremendous potential.   Together we had this practice. To include the excluded. To question the many ways we box ourselves in and challenge the worthiness of these boundaries.

What occurred to me at the time I sent this text was how often in this quest to include the excluded, we can overlook to include ourselves. I was at a yoga training this morning and each student was to blindly choose an inspirational saying from several that our teacher had placed in an envelope. The saying I chose was so perfect for me and pointed to so much of what matters to me these days.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

After coming through the fucking shit storm I just came through, I can tell you with great certainty what true bravery means to me.  So much of what I’ve gone through has taken immense bravery. The night X left me, after 16 years of marriage,  blindsiding me after dinner (ironically enough while sitting at our dining table across from me), abandoning me  with a 6 month old baby. What it took to get through that first night.  Or the day I found out he had been unfaithful to me.  The countless days of having to solider forward as a single mom, reclaiming my life. All these things have tested my sense of courage and bravery.  But what I want to tell you is that despite all this, what I’ve come to believe is that the greatest act of bravery is to be present and honest and real with ourselves. And braver yet, to stay present, honest and real despite the fact that the person across the table doesn’t see you.

What I have come to believe is that this ability to hold, value and love ourselves is everything. That the quality of our ability to step outwards in this world is a direct reflection of the quality to which we are able to step inwards.  That the strength to which we are able to step out with is only as strong as the strength to which we are able to step in.  That our ability to be real and present with others is only as strong as our willingness to be real and present with ourselves.  That we can’t truly love another until we’re willing to lay it on the line for ourselves.

For me it hasn’t been easy to get out of my own blindspot. Being so undervalued in my marriage to X took a beating on my own sense of worth. Marriage is funny that way.  The opinions and beliefs of our spouse become a reference point of truth and reality for us. When our spouses turn on us it’s very disorienting.   Consciousness of this pattern helps.   Finding the people that see and and value us helps a great deal.  Probably the thing that helped the very most was a simple commitment to stay in love with myself despite all the despites. And time. Lots and lots of time.

Sure, there are times when we all fall out of love with ourselves, when we become our own blindspot. But the question then becomes, can we keep falling back in love with ourselves.   Can we stay alive and devoted? Patient and compassionate?  Can we keep singing our song regardless of whether or not anyone else is listening?  Can we be brave enough to include ourselves?

As I sit here alone at my dining room table, across from the empty chair that X used to sit in, I think well of my journey this last year.  This is MY voice. This is MY story.  It is dear. It is precious. And it is worth telling.