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I Waited 26 Years for This Fantasy to Come True

Yes. Sometimes anticipation can be fantastic, and sometimes anticipation can be a bitch.

::: ::: ::: :::

My entire dating life, I was never asked out. Except Paul in Junior High who asked me to go out via a Hangman game. But otherwise, I was a self-made woman in the dating department.

From the age of 15, when I really, really liked Christopher (the tall, blonde runner) I started asking guys out. I distinctly remember hearing about women doing that- asking men out- on the radio or TV at that time (~1990 or so) and thinking, ‘that is a great way to get what you want instead of waiting.’ Because waiting for 15 year-old boys to ask you out was often a long game.

So, fuck that. I figured out that as long as I could handle the worst outcome (a ‘no,’ maybe even a rude ‘no’) I would be fine.

I asked dudes out.
It went great!
I went out more and got what I wanted- dates. And kisses and allthegoodthings.
And dudes readily confessed that they liked being asked out- had been hoping I’d do such a thing.
[Ego boost is always nice.]

But there was always a little part of me that wanted to be asked out.
Of course there is a part in each of us that wants to be chosen.
To be sought out because of who we are.
To be deemed ‘special’ and ‘worthy.’
[This is a bit of a problem for women, as we are asked to constantly judge our worth by whether someone wants us or not. Separating that honest human desire from social conditioning can be tough.]

::: ::: ::: :::

Cut to last year, I’m 41, happily married for 18 years, together for 20. My husband and I went to our local town’s “Grown Ass Prom” the previous year and were planning to go again that next year.

My husband, who didn’t ask me out when we dated- but worked hard to chase me down one afternoon at a tattoo shop after work!- knew that I wanted to be asked out. It was a dream I shared with him several times over the years, and he was always kind about it.

A few months before the prom, we were making dinner one night and chatting, there was a lull in the conversation and he did the sweetest thing: he grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close as if to kiss me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Would you go to the prom with me?”

I did not need a ‘prom-posal.’
I just needed those simple words. That 8 word question.
What a thing it was to be asked.
Even after 20 years, twenty years of so much asking for so many things, he asked me to the prom.
It was just what I wanted.

I waited 26 years for that fantasy to come true.
And it was so fantastic, I cannot even tell you.
There were no teenage worries, no fear.
Only love and support and a desire for fun.
I soaked in every bit of it- pulled all the details into my heart to remember them.

The guy I wanted most asked me to the prom, you guys!!
Fireworks, inner squealing, jumping with joy- it all happened.
It was so worth the wait.

::: ::: ::: :::

We went for the third year again last night. Below are the pictures of that night from the second year (me, because I looked fabulous). We had such a blast.

Meriwether in leather.

 

All the details in place.

 

We fulfilled every ‘prom’ fantasy we ever had that night. I got my hair done in a faux hawk; nails and toes, too. We didn’t see each other before the final reveal moment. We wowed the crowd at the restaurant and on the dance floor.

 

Official prom photo.

Yes, my husband wears eyeliner. He went in an ‘Adam Ant’ outfit and he looked fabulous. Do you know what kind of balls it takes to pull that off? You gotta be real secure in your sense of self to do that. You have to know who you are. My man is fearless. Which is why I love him so. Even as I write this, it turns me on. We’d do anything to support each other- and we do.

 

The morning after.

Our prom night fantasy ended the way it should- with my dress on the floor next to our bed. A good time was had by all.

 

 

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On grief.

A few months back, I was asked to help a friend create a ceremony to bring her grief ‘home.’ (For those of you who know her, I received permission to share her story.) Her mother had passed in the last few weeks, but in a different part of the country. Her life was here now, in Rhode Island, and she needed a way to bring that grief home, she told me.

I have performed very few memorial services. Usually when someone dies, we seek the familiar, so the old church, whatever it may be, is where we turn. But this was not a memorial service, per se. It was not a way to remember a person, or commune in shared grief, or to connect as a tool to banish grief, but a way to bring grief home, to live with it- to bring it to those who love my friend, so that they could know her better and support her. And that is such a different perspective than most of us take on grief.

Grief is a tricky thing. We have those models, the Stages of Grief, but very few things work as the model suggests, most definitely grief (and if you’ve ever had an amazing design idea at IKEA and tried to make it work at home, you know of what I speak). Grief is a lonely walk, so often, because we see the person, the life, the choices, so differently from anyone else. And this doesn’t only apply to the death of people- it is equally true for the death of relationships, jobs, the ways we see ourselves. Grief, in a counterintuitive way, sprouts anew each time, different flowers from the same root.

For me, grief has been best described by symbols.

There is the initial grief that is like an Egyptian pyramid. A sacred, dark place, vast. It is beautiful- full of gold, memories, resources, things we can actually touch and see and smell. Even when it is cold, the darkness of the passageways of grief has a weight that I welcome. I have walked in the tunnels, admiring all of it, touching the walls, running the fabric of memory through my fingers, even as I knew that it was dead. The warmth of the gold was only because I stood near it, only because my fire gave it light. All of it was dead, even if it was so beautiful that I would be happy to live there forever on some days.

When I think of grief I am reminded that it is not just for dead things that we grieve. It is for what is lost- even if that job, that person, that idea lives on. The connection is lost or radically changed and we grieve for that. Sometimes we cannot let go, even though we know we must. The spiritual practice of grief is opening our grip, by tiny degrees, until our hand is free to move again. We cry and rage and gnash, but eventually, we must let go, or we will die, too. (But also, take your time. That’s the only way to do it.)

As I have accepted the death of things, the way they would never return to ‘normal,’ grief has been a garden of the dead, dead flowers and trellis’ and sculpted hedgerows. Some days the wind blows cold, and others the sun shines. But everything is obviously dead here. And I walk along, letting my hand touch the fragile leaves, watching the memories waft away in the wind, pieces crumbling simply with my walking by them. Here are all my delights and aliveness and growth, returning to the Earth. It is falling apart, and I can do nothing about it, because should I plant again, it will never grow the same. I surrender and accept.

All along the path, grief has been a whack-a-mole. So often I would jump up and try to whack it back into something (whack it ‘away,’ whack it into a particular shape, whack it just to whack it). But then, I slump beside the machine and refuse to play. Let grief do what it will, I will wait for the time to run out, and then decide what do to next.

I have wondered if The Stages of Grief are something that happens inside each of these places. Inside the beautiful pyramid of memory and desire, we bounce between denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Inside the dead garden, we do the same. Perhaps the whack-a-mole is simply these five things repeating themselves until our lessons are learned.

 

 

There is no answer, of course, because grief is a similar::unique path for each person, each time they encounter it.

Grief is one of the most difficult human emotions, I think. It is so painful. It involves so much of us- not just body, mind, spirit as we are now, but all of those things and the depths of our history to the present moment as well. Grief cleans us out.

Perhaps that is the best metaphor, grief cleans us out. There are several rooms in the house of my heart that have been invaded by grief (and sometimes I have welcomed it, but not usually). And it is only through the process of grief that I have had to clean out those rooms. But by cleaning them out, leaving what’s most important (memories, lessons, boundaries), have I been able to move on, to leave the space and energy for new things to come along- sometimes new things in the same room, sometimes new rooms all together.

Grief changes us. That is really all I can say. And that to engage with it is an act of bravery. To bring our grief home is one of the deepest forms of courage of the heart.

 

 

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Still…

Well, hello stranger. I missed the solar eclipse and new moon in Pisces on Feb 26th. Quick recap: chaotic energy. But today I finished my work so I’m giving myself the gift of a quick post here. I’ve got so many things rattling in my head right now…I will write them to you eventually.

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Still by Alanis Morissette

I am the harm that you inflict
I am your brilliance and frustration
I’m the nuclear bombs if they ‘re to hit
I am your immaturity and your indignance

I am your misfits and your praises
I am your doubt and your conviction
I am your charity and your rape
I am your grasping and expectation

I see you averting your glances
I see you cheering on the war
I see you ignoring your children

And I love you still
And I love you still

I am your joy and your regret
I am your fury and your elation
I am your yearning and your sweat
I am your faithless and your religion

I see you altering history
I see you abusing the land
I see you and your selective amnesia

And I love you still
And I love you still

I am your tragedy and your fortune
I am your crisis and delight
I am your profits and your prophets
I am your art I am your bytes

I am your death and your decisions
I am your passion and your plights
I am your sickness and convalescence
I am your weapons and your light

I see you holding your grudges
I see you gunning them down
I see you silencing your sisters

And I love you still
And I love you still

I see you lie to your country
I see you forcing them out
I see you blaming each other

And I love you still
And I love you still

::: ::: ::: :::

I was on the bike last weekend and my iPod oracle decided to play this. I hadn’t heard it in a year or more and I played it three times through. It reminded me of many things, but mostly the profound nature of love- it’s breadth and depth.

Love. I’m learning a lot about love right now. My beloved and I celebrated the 21st anniversary of our first date in early March. It was very cool to think about how strong and lucky we are to have had so many good years together.

We’ve loved each other in many different ways.

We love amidst the hurt we cause each other, we love amidst the healing. We love in the parts of ourselves it takes patience (perhaps years of patience) to show each other. We love in the spontaneous connections of joy when thing are easy. There is a reason we have had three marriages in our 21 years together- love.

In other places, I am learning about love that is unpleasant, tough, defiant, strong like a boot kicking your ass. There is patience here, too. I am learning to love and respect myself more each day. Learning to dig out the less-than-loving parts of myself as I confront more of my own racism and sexism (got called out about rape culture- felt like an asshole. Lived through it, learned, and won’t repeat the mistake again!).

This song reminded me of what love is. So many things I cannot even describe or comprehend. So many things that are unexpected or beyond my understanding. Love surrounds the demons of life, too.

I’ve nothing more to say or share at the moment (quick post, I said!). It’s just what I’ve been pondering lately on the long walk home.

Big love, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

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Twenty Years of Sex With The Same Person

[and if that thought terrifies you as it relates to the person you’re with, you need to find a new person.]

Today is about half way between the night my husband and I got engaged and the night we had our first date. This year will be our 20th year married and our 21st year together. We’re better than we’ve ever been and I find myself in gratitude for him every day lately. We ain’t perfect, but we’re really, really good. And this is to say: so is the sex.

And the sex is good because the respect is good. And the sex is deep because the trust is deep. And the sex is delicious because the communication is delicious. Twenty years and we are getting better and better at this.

This is my gift to him, between these days marking the highlights of our love.

Twenty Years of Sex With The Same Person

We met in our 20s, but sometimes
we double back to younger times-
I wore my high school sweatshirt
you had to pinch my nipples hard
through the cotton
we fucked like 18 year-olds
because we could
to fulfill the fantasy of us-
wishing we’d had
this
back then.

 

Other nights, we remember 35,
Bone-deep fatigue
and yet so desperate for skin + connection
like when the babies were small.
Our love-making habitual
our bodies so well known to one another
producing the needed orgasm
and the dreamless sleep of a thousand years
together.

 

This very moment we are mid-lifers
new worlds happen because
we communicate, fantasize, and explore
my orgasm an icicle blue mandala
the portocorano tinkling between my breasts
something new, even at this age
I come best with my mouth full.

 

I imagine what comes next-
30, 40 years together
The books and my crones tell me
Other hills and valleys to traverse
with these bodies
this love
We will find a place on the hill
in the sun
and tease each other
the warmth of the hours heating us
and the waves of love and lust
crashing again
like they always have.
Older, wiser, no less sexy.

 

Growing and wild in this vine of love.
All our years together.
All our years to come.

 

::: ::: ::: :::

Perhaps because of this mid-point in my personal love history, perhaps because Valentine’s Day is nearing, I keep thinking of engagements. V-day is one of the top days for engagements. I wonder if some men who propose that day are secretly thinking, “If I do it on Valentine’s Day I’m gonna get sex and a blow job every year because I can remember what day we got engaged. Har har har…” (Yes, I am going to diss a dude for thinking that.) Women may think it’s romantic until you realize that’s probably why he picked the day.

If you’re thinking of getting engaged on V-day- pick any other day. Literally any other day. Pick the day before, tell her you couldn’t wait. Pick the day after, tell her you were just so full of love you couldn’t contain it one day. Be creative. Connect it to something special between the two of you. (Plus, it’s my birthday, you want that hanging over the day? ha ha ha) Because, when you’re in love with someone, really in love, you want to celebrate them and lift them up on special days. You don’t look for excuses to not celebrate them or double up on your ‘show them you love them’ duty.

Maybe that’s why this all comes to mind now. There have been difficulties in my marriage, big ones. But our love has never been a chore. We have been dedicated to its growth, but never bored with its duties. I hope you find a love that grows deep, that fucks well, that lets you become your full self. Because that is what love does.
 
 

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incomplete thoughts and symbols

There are two things that have been rolling around in my head for a couple of days now. And I’m going to share them here in the hopes that they might spark something in your head – and you could tell me about what it sparks for you.

They are not perfect or finished thoughts. They are also metaphors and symbols, which means they can be taken any number of ways; rolled like a kaleidoscope to see different perspectives. In any case, I put them here so that we might chew on them, as fellow travelers, around the campfire.

I. Hope

I’ve been thinking about the light and dark of hope lately. How there are some kinds of hope that diminish us spiritually, and other kinds that nourish us spiritually.

As an example of the hope that diminishes, I think of when we hope for a person to change. Only very rarely does a person change because we hope they will. Most people change because the pain of staying the same is too great.

And still, we wish for others to change. We may even change ourselves, in hopes that they will change, too. But that’s now how it works- when we change, the only thing that happens is their reaction to us changes. The person doesn’t change, just their reaction to us. And so we never get the person to change and our hope begins to hurt us.

Is this from expectation? We see their potential or we love them or we want to grow with them and we make it our hope, our expectation? I don’t know. Certainly if our expectations are too high or not stated and agreed upon it becomes a mess. And that mess often leads us to hope more, to find a way out, to change. But it also seems to be the kind of hope that hurts.

On the flip side is a kind of  hope that nourishes us. And, again, I don’t have the best of examples, but I will try. The hope that is nourishing me lately is the hope of shared vision. When I have a shared, agreed upon vision- whether that’s in my behavior, the behavior of others, goals, or culture change- the hope that comes from that feels nourishing.

The hope that is nourishing me lately is one of shared vision of the future and taking action towards it. In other places I have talked about the Buddhist principle of ‘letting go of outcomes’ but I’m not sure that’s a helpful tool in this case (but maybe it is! See? I got questions- let’s talk!). I think the hope that is nourishing feeds itself on the goodness of action and forward movement, even if that action is unclear or changes direction.

Maybe there is no defining these types of hope. I don’t know. Maybe we simply need to pay attention to the outcome of our hope. Does it nourish us spiritually, or does it diminish our joy and spiritual energy? I know that I have felt both of them and that the diminishing kind can nearly kill you. And the nourishing kind of hope can keep you alive in the darkest of places.

Thoughts? Leave me a comment.

 

II. Who Is In The Crowd At The Crucifixion?

This…this is a very unfinished thought, so you will have to excuse its messiness.

We all know I am no fan of Jesus. But I want to talk about him, and his crucifixion in relationship to the Muslim Ban of 27 Jan 2017.

There is a parallel and a symbol that is making me think and wonder.

This is the face of Jesus, as best as scientists can come up with (and if you can believe in ‘CSI:Anything’ you can believe in the science of this).

 

From “The Real Face of Jesus” in Popular Mechanics, 2002

 

This is the man many white, Christian, conservatives pray to and believe died for their sins. They put this man on a cross and let him drown to death on it. And that death washed clean the soul of every Christian thereafter (if you believe that).

Now, in fact, these people probably prefer to pray to ABBA Jesus because white people prefer praying to people who look like them. But, I digress…

This brown man, Middle Eastern man, is who Christian’s believe came to Earth to take away their sins. Who did, in fact, die for their sins. And by his death, they were made anew (in this belief system). Christian’s believe their whole lives are spiritually indebted to this man. They pray to him, sing songs to him, make monetary offerings to him (burn churches for him, kill Black people for him…sorry…off topic. not really).

And it struck me, in a strange way that I am not sure I still completely understand, that the Muslim ban was the exact same thing as the crucifixion. Punishing a brown man, brown people, Middle Eastern people, with our American sins.

We started the wars that created many of the terrorists people believe hide amongst Muslims. Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama (who continued it), and Trump (who, as of this writing, also continues war in Iraq and Afghanistan). We are the ones who created ISIS, which we are so sure some Muslim who wants to enter our country is a part of. We created terrorists when we first created the Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield) in 1990. Babies born in 1990 are 27 years old now. That’s a long time to live with war in your country or region (take a moment and imagine what that would be like in your neighborhood). If anyone is responsible for ISIS and terrorist groups and whatever else we blame on Muslims, it is the United States.

And yet, again, it appears that we wish for brown, Muslim, Middle Eastern people to pay for the sins we create. And it makes me wonder about Jesus. I’m not so sure Christians are Christians anymore- perhaps they are the rabble at the feet of Jesus, chanting for his death, hoping to be washed clean. And here I mix my symbols and ideas, because the Jews at his feet did not believe in Jesus’ divinity. Nevertheless, I think there is something here to look at.

Some of you will say, “But Jesus was a Jew! Was the Son of God!” And I can only answer, “Does it matter what brown people are? Does it matter if they are Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Anything or Nothing? Isn’t putting up with America occupying your country a miracle? Isn’t it a miracle to be a human? Isn’t that enough?”

I am still wondering, who do Christians think they are worshipping? And do they see that they are scape-goating Middle Eastern men for their sins, again?

Actually, I think this thought might be complete enough.

::: ::: ::: :::

And if you’re wondering why I’m talking about politics and Muslims on a blog about sexuality and spirituality, let me tell you, baby. Because the body is where Heaven and Earth meet. The Taoists knew it, the Tantrics knew it, and maybe the yogis knew it. (But the rest of the religions have a long way to go.) Relationship and politics are where bodies come in contact with one another. So, politics becomes fair game in spirituality (it always has been). And I will fight for bodies to live free and full lives- all of them.

 

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