Learning To Go Through Life Changes

July 4, 2011 by  
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Photo by Angie Rubin

Life changing changes require sticking with what’s going on.  No easy task.  It means being uncomfortable.  It means having your heart jump every time somebody calls or says something.  And it means no going back. If you can withstand the pressure, then like a phoenix you will raise from your old self into your new self.

I am going through such a time myself.  The pillars of my life are being shaken.  Intellectually I know where I need to go, but now is the time to take myself there also emotionally and psychologically.  I must confess it isn’t easy.  But I have not given up on what I know to be right.  So I’m going through the stress of one foot here and one foot there; meaning one foot in the old self and one foot in the new self.  But I am fully aware if I put my two feet in the old self, I will only find myself again in this same situation in some time in the future.  But if I do endure the anxiety and the fear all the way till I cross to the other side, I will have accomplished my own transformation.

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The Human Mind

November 18, 2009 by  
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I had lunch the other day with a fellow who held a rather dim view of the process of psychotherapy. He referred to its methodology as “hideously inefficient”, while granting that it actually served some valid purpose. A severe case of damning with faint praise. My somewhat defensive response ( I am currently in therapy myself, and there was also a friend present who is a therapist herself ) was that the hideous inefficiency of the process lies mostly within the human mind itself. I thought I was just trying to come up a clever response (which I was ), but it also strikes me that there is something to the idea. After all, the problems that plague the mind don’t lend themselves to fixes that are both quick and lasting. The quick ones, such as mind-altering substances, don’t last, whereas the array of options that hold out the possibility for real growth and transformation are invariably arduous and plodding in nature.

We were on a lunch break from a daylong Buddhist meditation retreat and the comment got me thinking about the innumerable lifetimes the Buddhists speak of in describing the journey toward enlightenment. I wonder whether this fellow has gauged the efficiency of a path that measures progress not in years but in lifetimes. Whether one takes this terminology literally or figuratively it does point to the laborious, lengthy and difficult task of reconfiguring the human mind in a way that accords consistently with a happy state.

The persistence of any of these algorithms or systems – the numerous forms of modern psychotherapy, as well as the variety of ancient spiritual disciplines – that are aimed at the problems of the human mind, points to the fact that human existence is plagued by a set of stubborn problems that simply won’t fade quietly away. The mind seems to be very good at solving an almost unlimited array of worldly problems with great efficiency. However, when it comes to resolving the thorny problems that beset its own nature, it keeps falling down on the job. Which isn’t really a problem at all, so long as we keep on getting up.

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Owning My Own Sex

November 15, 2009 by  
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While reading Lisa Guest’s post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guest/identity-lifes-superimpos_b_356105.html) on her sex journey through her adulthood I thought about my own.

I have been sexually active since I was thirteen years old.  At that time I had a boyfriend who I loved with the heart a thirteen year old could have and he loved me back with his seventeen year old heart.  All was perfect except that my boyfriend was having sex with an older woman.  He told me because he didn’t want to keep anything from me. He explained that the reason he was seeing this woman was because he needed and wanted to have sex.   It didn’t make any sense to me at the time; why would he be willing to have sex with another woman and not me?  He tried to make me understand that I was too young but I wouldn’t hear and so I spent the next three months trying to talk him into having sex with me until I succeeded.

We continued living our love story until I was seventeen and the world was a very big place for me to only be his girlfriend.   Although I don’t recommend to thirteen year old girls to engage in sex – I was lucky my experience was one of love but it could have been disastrous – I only have good thoughts about that time in my life.  It was a different time where AIDS and a lot of other sexually transmitted diseases weren’t as much of an issue as they are today and so I lived my teenage love story with a boy who truly loved me.

Of course I learned very little about sex during that time as I never talked to adults about it and they never thought to tell me the birds and the bees story.

I loved sex but I also learned to use it as a way to feel “loved”.  When I moved to NYC at age eighteen, I had many one night stands and while they were fun when happening, they always left me with a bigger hole than the one I had started with.  That’s actually the reason why I got into my first marriage.  I met someone who I thought would help me get my life back on track, working towards something meaningful and creating some type of a family, and so at age twenty I was tying the knot with a man eleven years older than me who quickly made me look fondly to those lonely days.

I didn’t have an orgasm until I was a thirty two year old divorcee.  It just kind of happened.  I was fooling around with a boyfriend, a nice sweet guy, when it happened.  It was a sensation like none other and I was blown away by it.  After, I wished my mother would have taught me a thing or two or that my girlfriends, who were having their orgasms, would have shared with me how it happened and what it was all about.  I was happy that I finally was having mine, but I wished it hadn’t taken me so long.

Now having an orgasm in a way made things a bit more complicated.  Before having a real one, I wasn’t sure what it was or felt like, so when asked by partners if I had one I would always say “yes”.  I think you can say I was faking.  Not that I didn’t enjoy myself but I was certainly faking the big “o”.

Because so many men don’t really know and sometimes don’t care about female orgasm we go through many sexual encounters that are simply unsatisfying in many levels. So what happened after my first one was that unfortunately I had to continue faking it but now fully knowing I was doing it.

I don’t have kids but if I had daughters I would want to talk to them, when time came, about their sexuality.  I would want them to own their body and desire much more than I had owned mine when I was a young woman.  I think knowing how our pleasure works can empower us as women and can help us have more of a sense of self-respect and a more satisfying sexual life.

When I met my second husband I found in him a sexual and spiritual connection.  Here was a man who really wanted to love and please me while I loved and pleased him.  He also understood that my way of being pleased was my own and it was never a reflection on his abilities.  He was a man in every sense of what the word means.

Today, I am a widow and sexually I haven’t been with anyone for about two years.  Sometimes my body screams to be touched and I think back to those days of one night stands but soon realize those were the days I didn’t understand the depths of that being naked inside and out with another human can be.

I’m not saying that every sexual encounter needs to be with your soul mate.  But I do think for the sex to be truly fulfilling, at least for me, it needs to be profound at the moment that it happens and that the two people are able and willing to share the strengths and weaknesses that make us human.   I guess my requirement is sex between two adults. I have been through too much not to see another person with love and compassion and be seen the same way.

I do know love has many meanings and shades and so does sex but at a certain point in the life of an adult some shades no longer look good on us.  So I probably won’t be having my one night stand any time soon but I do look forward to the possibility of sharing love without being concerned about the hows and whats with another person.

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Nature Is Selfish

November 10, 2009 by  
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I have always thought when people passed away that the ones left behind cried for the fact they would not have the person they loved in their lives any longer. The truth is we cry for not having that person but we also cry for all they will never get to do and to experience; new presidents, newborns, love, restaurants, films, political and social changes etc.

I once read that nature is selfish; a powerful but truthful statement.  Nature doesn’t stop for anyone or anything.  No matter what is happening in our lives people still rush to work, fight wars, make love, waste time and the world goes through tsunamis, global warming, sunsets and sunrises.

It is so brutally shocking when our lives are falling apart and the rest of the world does not seem to notice.   The first time I really experienced this was when my husband was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life and I went for a walk around the hospital.  I needed air and sunlight after spending three days locked up in his room without leaving.

As my body walked my mind was still tied back to what was happening in that hospital room, but all the people walking by me didn’t seem to notice or care.  They laughed and carried on like nothing was happening.  I wanted to stop and tell them “Don’t you know what’s happening?  My husband is fighting for his life. How can you just carry on? ” But of course I couldn’t do that.  The truth is that everyone has their drama, small and big, at different times in their lives and nature doesn’t care and it doesn’t stop.   But that is how life is; it has its own force.

It is so important to live life for what we think is important and brings us the most amount of happiness and satisfaction and not fall victim of any type of fictional or social interpretation of what life should be or look like.

Life is what it is and it’s to be lived to the fullest at every moment because things can change on a dime.  This is by no means a gloom and doom statement.  It is actually beautiful and powerful and it can be simple to live by making every day count and being in the moment.  If the moment is talking to a friend, then let’s dedicate the time to the friend.  Let’s not think about what we need to do after we leave our friend.  Let’s be in the moment.  If the moment is making love, let’s not think about what happened before and what will happen after. Let’s be in the moment and try to let our body and mind experience every feeling and sensation.

We are so often in a hurry that we miss out on fully experiencing what happens to us until something tragic happens and we realize that we have rushed through too much and now have much to regret.

So while nature is selfish and life will continue on no matter what happens to each one of us, we can make our own lives count by dedicating our journey to ourselves.  Our best friend lives within us, and it is actually ourselves.  We are the only ones who will never leave and will always hear our thoughts and feelings and know everything that there is to know about US.  So why not give our best friend the best life possible by letting ourselves truly experience life by being in the moment?  Think about it.

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Let’s give people space…

May 18, 2009 by  
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It’s really sad to me when I read the news about Patrick Swayze or Farrah Fawcett.  How the media treats their illness as another juice story to sell their magazine or newspaper or get ratings for their shows.  I don’t know about their stardom or who they are or what they did but I do know about cancer.  I do know how demoralizing and how painful it is.  I do know what they are going through and what their families are going through and it has nothing to do with the glitz of Hollywood.  But it has all to do with fighting for your life and losing control of everything including your bodily functions.

Why is it we can’t come to a point that we say to ourselves enough is enough give these people privacy?  The fact is if none of us bought the news and the pictures of Patrick and Farrah in the most private and important moments of their lives, the paparazzi wouldn’t take their pictures and The Star and The Enquier wouldn’t write about them.  It is up to us to set the tone of the society we want to live in.  I for one will not read anything about these two people or anybody else in that situation as I feel morally responsible to respect this very real moment in their lives.  If you agree with me, don’t buy, don’t read, and give people the space to go through this amazing hardship with decency.  While in their best days they sold us the Hollywood dream, in their privacy they are humans like us and not just a spectacle.

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Why is the world obsessed…

May 13, 2009 by  
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Why is the world obsessed with age and marital status?

I have just applied for an insurance policy on a loft I bought.  One of the questions in the application is my marital status.  Facing me is the word WIDOWED.   I have now joined a different class of people.  The people that have lost their spouse.  But I think to myself, why should an insurance company know or care if I’m married, divorced, single or a widow?  If I am a widow does that make me more or less responsible?  More or less of a basket case?

Some many of us have issues with our marital status.  Some of us are single but wish we were married, and some are married and wish we were single. Some are divorced and wished they had been divorced earlier and some like me are widows and hate to have that fact announced to people that don’t know.  The reason is that trivializes something that is so private and frankly is nobody’s business.

Age is another thing that truly bugs me.  Every magazine article, and most newspaper and TV now declares to the world people’s ages.  We are measured by our ages.  At such and such age you are supposed to have achieved X amount of money, career and personal success.  If you haven’t, sorry but you are a loser. So the fact that you may be a person of great service and morals who has chosen to spend your time and energy in things that don’t bring much money or glory makes you a nothing or close to a nothing in the eyes of the world.

Maybe someone out there can explain to me why is so important to my insurance company to know my marital status and why the heck our ages are waived in front of everybody  as a sign of success or failure.  As a matter of fact how can anyone judge anyone else?  We are unique and have our unique paths.

If someone out there has any insights into this, please don’t be shy and drop me a line.

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Finding Love After Loss

May 11, 2009 by  
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My husband died on August 15th 2008 at 2am.

We met 5 years ago and had the most incredible life together.  After kissing many frogs and frogets, Chris and I were kissing each other and marveling at our luck at having finally found one another.  We were full of hope for a life together. And full of love.

But then two years later that annoying saying “all good things come to an end” happened.  Chris was diagnosed with a very rare cancer and needed a liver transplant a.s.a.p or he wouldn’t make it.

From Los Angeles we flew in an air ambulance to Jacksonville, Florida where he would have a better chance for a transplant.  After many visits to the ER, and with only hours to spare, Chris received a new liver.

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