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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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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True Love – Part 3

This is my third blog about Daphne Rose Kingma’s book called “True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate.”

The third section of Daphne Rose Kingma’s book is called “The Transformations of Love” and this is where she addresses the higher meaning of our loving relationships.  On page 140 she writes,

“… it [the relationship] is the coming together of two persons whose spirits participate with one another, beautifully and painfully, in the inexorable process of their individual becoming.

In this respect, relationships are like relentless grinding stones, polishing and refining us to the highest level of our radiance.  It is this radiance which is the highest expression of love — this is why a relationship is a spiritual enterprise.”

She talks in this section about the value of consoling one another as we are presented with life’s tragedies and challenges; how important forgiveness and tolerance are toward your beloved; and the value of consecrating your relationship by doing special rituals and meaningful observances.  I like how she talks about the nuts and bolts and the reality of being in a relationship which is not all sunshine and roses all the time!

I think this is a gem of a book.  If you can get a copy of it, I highly recommend it!

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True Love – Part 2

Yesterday in my blog I talked about having come across a wonderful treasure: Daphne Rose Kingma’s book called True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate.

Today, in Part 2 I will share with you some of the highlights of the second section of the book called “The Practices of Love.”

In the “Love Yourself” chapter she says,

All too many of us consider love to be the miracle by which, finally, we will become complete human beings.  This is the fixer-upper notion of love, the idea that we are not all right as we are, but if we can just get loved by somebody, then that will prove we’re ok.”

The truth is that to love someone else, and to be loved, we have to love ourselves first.  She talks about loving yourself enough to be authentic: having the courage to say what you feel and ask for what you want.  She suggests ways to cherish your beloved – like criticizing only in private, behaving yourself in public and praising the ordinary.  Many times we are so focused on things from our point of view that we forget to be compassionate toward our partner and what he/she may be going through.  Another example of loving behavior is to depart and reunite with loving gestures.  I have a friend in her late 70’s and her husband is in his mid 80’s.   They greet each other with a hug and a kiss and when they part, they do the same.  So often it’s the small gestures that mean so much.  It’s easy to take our partner for granted but making time for loving actions goes a long way even after decades of marriage!

Tomorrow I will talk about the third section of True Love called “The Transformations of Love.”  Stay tuned!

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True Love

I love bookstores.  I especially love the “relationships” section!  Yesterday I was browsing in a local bookstore (Russell Books on Fort St. in Victoria BC) and came across a sweet book by one of my favourite writers on love: Daphne Rose Kingma.  This little gem is called “True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate.”

On page 2 of the Introduction, this paragraph caught my eye:

“We have been taught to balance a checkbook, stamp out ring around the collar, and put together a gourmet meal, but we have never been taught how to create a truly loving relationship.  Instead, with the help of romance novels, popular music, and the movies, we imagine that without any effort on our parts love will solve all our problems and make all our dreams come true.”

She talks about how love is a labor of love, and is also an undertaking.

The first section of the book is called “The Conditions of Love.”  Here the author gives us some down to earth reminders such as the danger of assumptions, that relationships have seasons and that everybody is wounded (“The Torn Ear Theory of Love” in which she shares her unconditional love for her cat Max after he was in a fight and got the battle scars!)  What I really like about her approach is that she busts the myths of romantic love and paints a picture of “true” love which is lasting and deeper than the infatuation many of us think will last forever.

I will share some of the highlights (from my perspective) of Section 2: “The Practices of Love” tomorrow!

Have you read this book?  What did you learn from it?  Please share your insights!

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Listen to my Radio Interview!

I met Ron Capocelli, a relationship coach at www.inspiredcommitment.com at a coaching event recently, and he generously invited me to be interviewed on his internet radio show called “Getting Relationships Right.”  He and I had a lively discussion about various aspects of dating.  The theme was “Are you really ready to date?”

The discussion lasts for just over half an hour, and I invite you to listen here: http://webtalkradio.net/internet-talk-radio/2013/04/15/getting-relationships-right-are-you-really-ready-to-date/  You can also download it so you can listen on an mp3 player.

You’ll pick up some practical tips and get three foundational principles that will prepare you to stay sane in the dating game!

 

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"When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet"

Last night I watched a film from 2011 called “When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet” last night.  I found it fascinating.  It showcases five people and their experiences with meeting online.  Some of the stories are heartwarming; others show the pain of the dark side of online dating where people are not always who they seem to be.

What I like about this film is that it can give us hope: one couple who were overseas when they met actually married and have stayed together for 9 years.  At the same time, it’s realistic: one person had a very disheartening experience and continues to be single.  There is a wide range of experiences in this film – typical of people’s varied results with online dating.

I have to say that I marveled at the couple who met and developed a virtual relationship through Second Life ( “a free 3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat”).  It’s not for everyone, but it seemed to work for them.

What do you think about online dating?  Do you like how your world opens up to people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet in daily life – or do you prefer the old-fashioned way?  What are your concerns about online dating?  I’d love to get your comments!

 

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Two keys to reducing suffering

There are two habitual reactions that many of us have can greatly increase the suffering we experience in life.  One is taking things personally and the other, which is related, is interpreting others’ behavior.

Recently, a friend of mine was sharing with me that a co-worker was acting rather cool and standoffish with her.  In the past, my friend had seen that this indicated that the co-worker was upset or annoyed… and my friend didn’t know what she had done.  She wracked her brain trying to think of something she’d said, something she’d done…  Then it turned out that my friend’s co-worker was anxious about an upcoming meeting, and it had nothing to do with her!  When she asked me if I thought she was too sensitive, I responded that I think she fell into the trap we all do, from time to time, of thinking that it’s always about us.  Think how liberated you would feel if you could detach from thinking it’s about you – and to choose not take on other people’s stuff!

Related to this is the danger of interpreting others’ behavior.  How often have you started telling yourself stories about another person’s motivation, or imagined what is going on in their head … and then found out later that you were totally wrong?  One of the tools I use in coaching my clients is a “perception check”.  When you feel triggered you tell the person what you are imagining and how you feel as a result… and you check it out with them.  So often what you think is going on is completely different from the other person’s reality.  It’s always safer to ask than to assume!

I invite you to watch for these habits: 1) taking things personally and 2) interpreting others’ behavior.  With awareness you can break through these patterns and live with much less suffering!

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The Complexity of Desire

I just watched a most interesting TED talk by Esther Perel called “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship.”  Be prepared for about 20 minutes of intriguing questions and her thoughts on why it’s so challenging to maintain desire in a long-term relationship even when there is intimacy in other forms.

Perel says that we all have needs for security,predictability, safety, permanence,  and also for adventure, mystery, surprise and the unexpected – and reconciling these within a committed relationship can be extremely challenging.

There was one particular part of her talk that stood out for me.  I’m a big advocate of “first attention on self” so we are intentionally aware of what is going on internally.  This allows us to “be there” for another but not to lose ourselves.  Rather than focusing on the other as the source of desire:  “you turn me on when…” or “you turn me off when…” she has the listener be curious about “I turn myself on when…” or “I turn off my desires when….” and, conversely, “I turn myself on when….”  This is all about taking radical responsibility for oneself.  She points out that if you’re dead inside (or you hate your body, or you’re exhausted from work etc.) it doesn’t matter what anyone else does,  because she says, “There’s nobody at the reception desk!”

I’m curious about what you think.  Please post your comments below.  Here’s the talk:   http://on.ted.com/Perel

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