The Vulnerability Pact

I spent a recent weekend in a very cool town called Sebastopol, north of San Francisco, that I’m seriously thinking of moving to. And why? Because it’s full of warm people I can really relate to. Here’s proof …

For the first time in a long time, I went to dinner with a group of women I scarcely knew (well, one was an old friend and colleague) … and we seriously opened our hearts. Each of us are either into or approaching middle age; we all run our own Net based businesses. And we all share an interest in personal growth … and living the very best life that we can.

And as the evening progressed and we talked, and shared, and meandered through the things women meander through on a night out … some trust was built. Until finally, after we each had talked about our hopes and dreams and recent wins and losses, I had an idea.

I had been sharing about how I wanted to be in relationship. I had this idea that for the first time in my life, I’d like to be courted when I’m ready to date again. I’d like to attract someone who is truly, deeply attracted to me … and I’d like them to come to me. I don’t want to rush – I want to languidly consider whether I truly want to date this person. And I want to be truly present to myself when I return to love.

I also knew I couldn’t necessarily hold this space alone … I need some accountability. In fact, I’m a diehard romantic who loves to fall in love; so I may need to be talked down a few times on the way to getting what I want. So I asked these women to support me in this new, vulnerable place of laying back and letting love come to me.

Then I asked how I could support them … and so The Vulnerability Pact was born.

In turn, we each stated a need we had to do something that makes us a bit squeamishly uncomfortable. And then we asked for the precise support from the group that we thought we’d need.

Marianne wanted what I wanted – to be courted in love without rushing into anything. And to this she added another sensible caveat: she’d like any of us to speak up honestly about any red flags we got regarding her new intended love.

Darla wanted to stake her claim as the true revolutionary she is by writing a manifesto that really speaks to more authentic marketing on the Net. It felt scary to her to ‘come out’ as the radical that she really is, and infuse her well-respected marketing position with her own innate fire. We promised to let her know if she was being even remotely milk-toast about it.

And finally, Becca wanted to get a commentary about life on the NPR radio program, ‘This American Life.’ While she’d commanded plenty of respect and power in her own corner of the Internet, coming out and being heard by millions on the radio was an entirely new frontier.

We put our hands together on the table – fists touching at first – as we staked our claims in these new fields of vulnerability. And for the first time we allowed ourselves to just bask in our fear a bit … knowing that we are not alone.

Three of us are single women, one is married. And yet all of us knew innately that there was something special here – some loving, supportive connection – that we weren’t going to necessarily get from any love relationship.

We now knew we could count on the others to step in in a loving intervention if we wandered away from that powerful edge of vulnerability and fear. And we each claimed a ‘red light’ word – one that could be mentioned at any time to help us reassess our actions. (Mine, like any good lesbian’s, is ‘U-Haul’.)

I am eager to see how this all pans out for, at the very least, we will be meeting occasionally, having dinner, and feeling into that vulnerable edge each time. And we will laugh, like dear friends do, and that alone is worth the price of entry.

Truthfully, all of know that vulnerable edge for it is exactly where our power is as well as our discomfort. And so it is where the quick of life is for all of us. To be able to share that journey with others, and count on them to keep us there, is very sweet indeed.

Are You Ready to Begin the Spiritual Diet?

Dear busy, distracted, slightly frazzled reader who has probably had enough …

First of all, I’m glad you are here. I deeply appreciate you – really. I know you because you are me.

I, too, have stood knee deep in mental sludge, grabbing on to dark chocolate like it is some kind of savior. I, too, have known I needed something … anything … that would move me seriously forward in my life.

I, too, have felt desperate enough to sit, crying silently, in a public rest room because it’s the only place I could get enough privacy to really have my feelings.

I, too, have known I needed more than the life I had constructed. And for a long, long time, perhaps like you, I avoided that truth. Even though I deeply loved my family. Even though I was comfortable in my home. Even though everything was … fine.

In fact, things weren’t ‘fine’. Truths were being avoided; truths which, were they to come to light, would change the face of my every day life and deeply hurt people I cared about.

And then came the day when those truths could not be avoided any longer. For me that meant creating a brand new life at the age of 51.

I left a marriage of 23 years, and a life in the woods outside of Burlington, Vermont that included a teenage son still at home. I also left behind my identity as a contented straight woman who always, unfailingly, Did the Right Thing.

Instead, I became myself on a much deeper level that I’d always denied myself. I became an out lesbian living in San Francisco, where I started a new business with a colleague who lived there. Tearfully, I left my old life behind including my dear son, which was the hardest choice I have ever had to make in my life.

Fortunately, he had a big distraction that year, a junior year abroad overseas, which he leapt into with his usual gusto and so the sky did not fall.

I also left behind a town of 1500 mildly shocked townspeople, and a husband who incredibly sent me off with love and forgiveness, despite the fact that he would have preferred I had stayed. He, too, appreciated the telling of the truth for it set not only me free – it set him free as well.

What happened, ultimately, is that I made the impossible choice to put myself first. And so, my friend, can you. Because, believe me, no one wanted to do this less than I did. And yet, by doing it, I saved my own life.

The critical piece to the equation was that I finally started listening to that tiny but insistent inner voice that wasn’t going to let me forget who I really was. This came after decades of ignoring and cajoling that voice, and flat out pretending it didn’t exist. Like so many of us, I was taught as a child not to have my feelings – to be a ‘good girl’ who always does just what she should, and who would always fit in at all costs. And so I learned not to listen to me.

What I know now is that there is a sacredness to each moment — a sacred whisper that knows just how we are meant to roll in this life.

If you tune into the whisper, it will truly tell you what to do, again and again and again. Because this moment is actually YOUR moment – this one, right here, right now. It is your moment to design any way you wish.

Take a pause as you read this and take a few long, slow deep breaths. Then see if you can feel into what this moment wants from you. Perhaps it’s late at night as you read this at your computer, and the house is quiet – or maybe you’re reading it on your phone or at your desk.

Wherever you are, what ever you are doing … this is a moment that could change your life. This is, in fact, the work of the Spiritual Diet — it’s simply a path to lead you back far more deeply to yourself.

Put your hand on your heart and feel into your belly. What do you want right now? Is it a cup of tea? A hug? A chance to curl up and rest? Just keep asking and slowing down and breathing until you can feel just what you want right now, in this very moment.

Is it the comforting hand of Mother on your brow, stroking your hair and whispering that all will be well? Because it will be, my friend; I know it will be … but only if you listen to that sacred whisper. It is your lifeline to an entirely new, more authentic life – one that reflects ALL of your joys, your passions, and your lessons. It is the beckoning of a life that you so richly deserve

Mind you, you don’t have to leave your current life at all. And perhaps there are some critical tweaks you can make that will deliver you to greater truth, and far more joy.

That joy can only be yours if you claim it – just like a lottery prize. It is the work of this blog to take your hand and lead you to that very prize, one delicious, measured, steady step at a time.

So take a moment to tune into that sacred whisper … what would you like more than anything in this particular moment?

Won’t you share it in a comment below?

And welcome to the journey … I think you’re going to like it here.

The Fine Art of Being Alone

I think I’m finally growing up. Yes … really … at the ripe old age of 53. And I know this to be true because now I am learning to be truly alone. Even when the bottom has fallen out of my little world, which it did the other day.

I have always rejected being alone in life; it seemed uncomfortable and a little scary to me. I always told myself I’m a ‘people person’, which translated means if I may not make it if I have to eek out life on my own. Yet, how can any of us ever be truly intimate with another, if our whole world is based on never, ever being alone?

I suspect I’m not the only person who feels this way. And yet, now – at a time when I am about as alone as it gets, I have not only survived … I seem to be thriving. Here’s how it happened.

Recently my girlfriend broke up with me, saying she wasn’t in love with me and in fact, never had been. Two months prior I gave up my apartment in San Francisco and moved across the Golden Gate bridge to join her in her new place. It was all going to be perfect … except that it wasn’t.

I won’t get into how we got ourselves into this situation; suffice to say, a whole lot of hope and denial was going on. Bottom line is that on a very bad Wednesday morning she told me the truth about how she felt, then she headed out the door to yoga. Within an hour, I was booking rooms and calling friends.

I knew I had to get out of there – even though Stef offered me a place with her as long as I wanted. Truthfully, I just couldn’t stay; I wanted to get as far away from her as possible. What I craved more than anything was absolute and total freedom, which would be my path healing.

I’d gotten a car as part of this transition, so now I was truly mobile. I no longer was in the business partnership that brought me to San Francisco. Hell, at this point, I could live almost anywhere in the world that had an Internet connection. And honestly, on some level I knew this break up was coming, and I welcomed it.

Weeks earlier, I’d began to think tender thoughts about writing this book from friends’ sofas, temporary sublets, from cafes on just discovered corners. I imagined walking the beaches of Northern California and then coming back to my simple room in a cheap B&B … and writing til the wee hours.

Somehow creativity and wandering became intertwined in my mind – and now I was set free to do it. I felt both exhilarated and terrified.

Suddenly my whole sense of having a plan, having a grip, even managing and controlling my life just flew out the window. I no longer needed to know how everything would turn out. In fact, I had no idea where I wanted to live – so the idea of even choosing a place temporarily became abhorrent. That was the exhilarating part.

At the same time, I also knew what this meant. There would be times spent sitting in strange places, unknown and unseen by anyone. I would essentially be living my worst fear: that of being cast out with no home. Yet, when I stopped and breathed I knew Spirit had my back. I would be fine; in fact, I would be better than fine. I would be returned to joy – and to myself – for the first time in possibly years.

So I packed up a basic suitcase of belongings, my favorite pillows, a bag of food, and my briefcase and I hit the road.

So now I find myself in strange kitchens, scrounging around for a coffee filter, or carefully washing spoons after I’ve used them. I creep around friends’ empty homes like an Indian, wanting to disturb nothing and feeling a little out of place. And yet, at the same time grateful, as this is very much exactly where I am meant to be.

In this rootless way, I am having a very intimate experience with myself. I have time to just be with myself, working through my feelings and choosing what I need to take care of me from moment to moment.

I am sad sometimes. Recently I sublet a room in a beach house that had a disturbed, angry feel to it. As I lay alone in the darkened house, listening to the pounding of the Pacific, I felt afraid. Some cats were locked up in another part of the house, meowing piteously. The whole thing was vaguely Hitchcock, and I kept expecting to hear creepy footsteps in the night.

But then, when I breathed into that fear, under it was layer after layer of grief. I needed a good cry, and so I let go and sobbed, grieving the end of my time with this unique, funny, beautiful, intense women I loved. Yet even more, I grieved my own need to create so much anxiety and pain in my life. I had lost myself entirely in this relationship – like never before.

I felt such deep grief that I had left behind the shining, whole, sacred part of me – the God in me – just to hang on to this sinking ship. Yet, now, in being alone, I am being called back to this place of wholeness and peace.

And I allow myself to go there a little more every day as I recreate my life anew, and remember who I am. It feels like such a relief; I am getting back to a naturally joyful part of me I have not known literally for decades.

As women we are empaths. Again and again, we naturally feel into another’s pain with a desire to fix it. It is both our most beautiful quality and our greatest quandry, this divine loving care. For we can use it to heal or we can use it to disappear. The choice is entirely ours … and it’s all about our connection to ourselves.

Only now, in my aloneness, I am being released to the greatest love I have ever known – this burgeoning, blooming, extraordinary love for myself. This is the invitation of The Spiritual Diet.

Come with me on this journey of deep self-love, and discover your own. I will be blogging from the road every day or two as I surrender ever more deeply, and learn and share all the intricacies of true self care.

My love to you, my dear friends. Thank you for joining me here today.

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