Opening to Love

What does it mean to “open to love” and how is this different from how most people live their lives?

I think it would be safe to say that most of us have felt hurt, disappointment and perhaps even betrayal around love.  Our families may not have given us the love we craved.  We may have experienced painful breakups.  As a result, some people view love with fear and suspicion.  We may go through life with our hearts carefully guarded, waiting for one person to earn our trust so we can give him the key.  Although this strategy may work for some, I believe that living in this way limits the flow of love and results in isolation and unhappiness.

How would things be different if you saw love not as a feeling but as an action?  As a choice?  Gary Chapman in his book called “Love as a Way of Life” gives us seven qualities of loving people: forgiveness, tolerance, generosity, kindness, humility, courtesy and patience.  To be able to be truly loving toward others, we must be loving toward ourselves.  How do we need to forgive ourselves?  How can we be more patient and tolerant toward our imperfections?  When we hear the inner critic can we stop the voice and be kinder?

I invite you to take the risk of opening to love today and treating all you meet with love whether it’s a family member or a clerk in your local store – and especially yourself!

One of my favourite poems by Hafiz, a 14th Century Persian poet concerns a rose:

HOW DID THE ROSE?

How

did the rose

ever open its heart

and give to the world all of its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its being,

otherwise we all remain too

frightened.*

Becoming a more loving person with a open heart isn’t going to happen overnight, of course.  However, every great journey starts with a single step.  What step could you take today to become a more loving and open-hearted person?

* from “Love Poems from God” by Daniel Ladinsky page 161

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Staying Sane in the Dating Game Part 2

Last week I shared with you one key strategy to navigate this minefield of dating.  I suggested being curious and engaged in the early stages, but to be sure that you don’t invest too much.  In this way you can minimize disappointment and heartache.

This week I’d like to share another strategy which is about your mindset – and to be aware of some of the self-sabotaging stories we tell ourselves.

Do you hear yourself saying:

  • there are no good ones left
  • all the good ones are either married or gay
  • I can’t afford to be choosy
  • time is running out so I’ll take whatever comes along

Can you see how you are coming from a place of scarcity with this thinking?  How do you feel in your body when you say these phrases out loud?  And what sort of person are you likely to attract?

How would things be different if you truly believed:

  • I am beautiful inside and out
  • I’m confident that my soulmate is out there and we will meet when we both are ready
  • there are lots of potential partners out there
  • I’m so clear in my value that I’m unwilling to settle
  • I am the chooser!

Again, say these phrases out loud and notice how you feel.  Grounded?  Powerful?

We may try hard to “make things happen” but what I’ve learned is the most effective strategy is to continue to work on my own growth and evolution, and to do my part, but to understand that Divine timing is a big part of life.  That means to have faith and trust that you WILL continue to be given all that you need.

I invite you over the next few weeks to notice what’s going on in your head.  Are you coming from a place of negativity, scarcity and non-possibility or are you feeling confident and excited that your soulmate is on his way to you now?  You may want to write out some affirmations to lock in this new way of thinking… and also keep in mind that you may need to do some work on yourself to really be ready for the kind of relationship you want.

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Staying Sane in the Dating Game Part 1

I’m sure we all have our share of weird and bizarre dating stories!  I just had a very odd experience of thinking I was getting to know a guy mainly through texting (his choice) only to find that there were many red flags and I ended it after only about three weeks.  I thought he seemed promising.  I was feeling quite optimistic… but I am so clear on my value that I’m simply not willing to settle.  How did I weather this without feeling devastated?  How can I be so clear that something isn’t working that I can choose to end something that seemed to have great potential?

For those entering the dating world with open hearts, optimism and trust this can be a difficult world.  It can take a toll on your self-esteem.  How do you date in good faith but with your eyes open?

Today I’m going to offer you one of the most effective strategies I’ve used.  I just put this into words when I was debriefing with a friend about the confusion and disappointment I felt recently.  I think the secret is to proceed with curiosity and engagement… but not to invest too much too quickly.  What I mean by that is to proceed with awareness and actually look for red flags while also being aware of somebody’s good points and how I feel with him.  Secondly, I choose to be engaged and to give it my best shot, but to recognize that in the early stages hormones cloud our judgment.  Thirdly, I am cautious about the investment I make until I have a better sense that this something that is worth putting time and energy into.  There was a time that I would jump with both feet and tell myself that it was “meant to be”.  Now, a little older and wiser I hold back and assess.  There is no advantage to rushing through dating.  It takes time to get to know someone and to check in with yourself about how things are going.

These strategies allow me to have the mindset of being “the chooser” and to be confident that if this man isn’t relationship material, there are plenty more in the sea.  Because I’m not desperate I can afford to take my time and wait for someone who truly is my match.

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Owning Your Beauty

For many women, we focus on what we don’t like about our looks, rather than what we do like.  We tend to be hypercritical… and Mama Gena wants to change that!

I’m in a book study group and we are working our way through Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts by Regena Thomashauer.  This week we’re on Lesson 6: the Womanly Art of Owning Your Beauty.  One of my favorite exercises at the end of the chapter has us tell ourselves out loud several times a day “You are beautiful” and for extra points she suggests that we look in the mirror, say this and then wink!  You have to try this!  It makes it seem so saucy and sassy to punctuate the affirmation of your beauty with a wink!

I’m really enjoying this book  Mama Gena has us tap into pleasure… and desire… and sensuality.  We are all Sister Goddesses!  If you’d like a fun book that’s a change from tomes on relationship theory, give this book a good read.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Women's Libido and Sexuality

A friend sent a link to a recent article in Maclean’s Magazine about women’s sexuality that I found fascinating: http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/06/22/the-two-year-itch/

Research indicates that our commonly held assumptions about women and monogamy might be off the mark!  Is a woman’s low libido due to boredom?  Libido often wanes in a committed relationship but is rekindled with a new partner.

What are the implications for committed, monogamous, long-term relationships?  Tell me what you think!

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Real Love

Arjuna Ardagh is one of my favorite spiritual teachers.  I took the Awakening Coaching training with him and I absolutely loved it!

He published a new book in May of this year called “The Last Laugh.”  It falls into the genre of “visionary fiction”: a book that instructs while it entertains.  Shortly after it was published, I got the Kindle edition.  I thoroughly enjoyed it – to the point where I bought a hard copy as well.  It’s just so much easier to refer to page numbers and I have to say that I do like the feel of a paper book in my hands!

The protagonist, Matt Thomson, is at a rough spot in his life.  Due to a series of events, he meets Joey who is a sage and a teacher.. with a wild side!  Joey talks to Matt about “real love.”  This really spoke to me:

“Real love only gives; it seeks nothing in return.  Real love can only arise from knowing who you are.  When you recognize your own self to be limitless, then there is no sense of lack, no sense of limitation, there is only giving.  If you perceive yourself to be small, limited, only a name and a form, there must always be lack, always need, always a feeling of something missing.  When the heart is awake, it overflows.  When it sleeps, it lives in acquisition.”  (pages 87-88)

This reminder came to me at a perfect time in my life.  I’d just been feeling really let down by a friend who wasn’t meeting my needs the way I wanted.  This was a great wake-up call and I could see clearly that I was coming from a place of lack and scarcity.  Once I realized that, I could let go of my grasping, my neediness and my expectations.  That was so liberating!

Have you read “The Last Laugh”?  Can you relate to what Arjuna says about real love?  I’d love to hear what you have to say!

 

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Cultivating Shame about our bodies for profit… now for men, too!

As women, many of us are very critical of our bodies.  We have an idea of what we “should” look like, and the belief that we are not attractive unless we conform to the cultural stereotype of beauty.  I think this is starting to change and most of us realize that the models portrayed on the fronts of magazines have often been Photo-shopped.  We have been trying to live up to an impossible ideal.  Despite some increased awareness, millions and millions are dollars are made by companies who profit on perpetuating the belief that we need to look better in various ways.

In my experience, men tend to be more accepting of their bodies and don’t have the level of shame around them that many women do.  Well, guess what – now men are learning that there is something wrong with them too!  A local spa has been promoting hair removal for men with the slogan, “Because you’ll never hear a woman say, ‘I love a man in a fur coat.'”

I know someone who thinks her husband is totally hot – because he has a lot of body hair and is bald.  To her, that is desirable and attractive.  I think she would say that she DOES love a man in a fur coat!  But my point is that there is a profit to be made by planting the seed that there’s somehow something wrong with us that needs to be fixed.  Maybe it’s a hairy back.  Maybe it’s cellulite.  Maybe it’s gray hair.

Let’s raise our awareness and just say NO to profiting from cultivating shame about our bodies.  Let’s celebrate natural beauty, and be grateful for all the gifts our bodies give us.  When you think about it, it’s really quite miraculous!

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Tips for Safe and Successful Online dating

Online dating is one strategy for meeting people and, hopefully, actually getting out and dating!  If you’re new to online dating, or just want some pointers, you’ll want to listen to my radio interview with Ron Capocelli on “Get Relationships Right” on Web Talk Radio.  Ron is a fellow relationship coach and he and I are becoming good friends and colleagues!  You can learn more about Ron and what he does here:   http://inspiredcommitment.com/

And to listen to the radio show, here’s the link: http://webtalkradio.net/internet-talk-radio/2013/06/17/getting-relationships-right-tips-for-success-and-safety-in-online-dating/  We discuss many topics such as how to choose a site, some safety tips for the first few dates, choosing a user name and more.

You can download the show (at no cost) and listen to it on your iPod or mp3 player.  It’s just over 30 minutes long.

Enjoy!  🙂

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Mud – the Movie

I saw the movie called Mud a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still on my mind.  The setting is Arkansas.  The story is about two boys who find a man camping on a nearby island in the Mississippi and how this triggers a complex situation with many twists and turns.

There are two main things I really liked about the movie.  I am drawn to stories of young people who are trying to make sense of the world.  For this reason, I really liked the novel called Water For Elephants.  There are so many things that these kids don’t understand: so much going on under the surface and it’s so confusing.  As adults I think we still try to make sense of reality but more of our “dots” are connected and we have wisdom and experience to draw on.  For youth, often their idealism encounters reality and, along with the inevitable disappointment, a lot of growth can occur.

The second thing I liked about the movie is that I saw it as an exploration of love.  What does it mean when people are married: will they really love each other forever?  In helping a stranger can be loving… but what is your motivation, and at what cost?  In this movie we see love in many forms – both romantic love and more endearing love between old friends.  We see boys coming of age and learning about how people relate to one another and that maybe things aren’t as they seem.  I found toward the end of the movie that I was sobbing… and hoping for some kind of redemption.  It came, and not in a predictable, slick way but rather understated, really.

It’s a movie that has really stayed with me.  It captured the feel of life in a small Arkansas town and life for two boys growing up there.  I found when I got out of the movie theatre it took a while to adjust to being in my city.  To me, that’s a mark of an engaging movie.

Have you seen Mud?  What did you think?

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In Praise of Black Licorice!

I’m always interested in articles with a twist.. so check out this one about black licorice and its effect on a woman’s libido!  http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/sexual-dysfunction/licorice-effect-natural-women.htm

For most women, at least some connection is also necessary to get us “in the mood” but if we can supplement this, why not?  My favourite black licorice is Panda because it’s a natural one.  I’ll never look at a box of Panda licorice in the same way again!

Enjoy!

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