I don’t want to date your dog.

If you don’t think ignorance is bliss, learn about something and then try dating.  I don’t know much about much, but I know a little about exactly three things; gingerbread houses, fitness, and dogs. The first two don’t really get in the way of dating but the third; it’s the Achilles Heal of my dating life.

I’ve always been a dog person. As a kid, it’s all I ever wanted for my birthday or Christmas ever! I never got one, but I watched the neighborhood dogs with unbridled curiosity and admittedly nothing they did ever made any sense. It wasn’t until I got my first dog that I started to unravel the mysteries of the canine “mind”.

I had to kill him to do it too.

Because I had followed the wrong advice perfectly, I destroyed my first dog so thoroughly that I had to put him to sleep before he was two.

The stakes were extremely high that I figure out what went wrong.

I found myself at the door of a tall, lanky, eccentric dog trainer who turned out to be the Nation’s #1 dog rehab specialist and simply told him I wanted to know everything he knew. I’m not sure why he agreed, but from that moment I began literally following him around. For 20 years. We ran workshops, we had a television show, we trained my second dog and I spent countless hours sobbing in the woods at the way in which I had perceived the universe so completely wrong. The ways my arrogance had caused so much pain, the way my fear and need to control had lead to the destruction of the the spirit of my dog. It was a big come to Jesus experience.

So I went deep, deep, deep into getting it all. How the Universe is perfect after all, how it is all designed to work beautifully and we don’t need to teach, or change, or control but simply to allow the process to unfold. Birds always make a circle before they land, dogs always make a circle before they lay down, birds navigate by some mysterious force and dogs know when their owners are coming home; it all fit together perfectly.

So this means that I have very strong opinions about dogs; how someone’s relationship with their dog almost never has anything to do with what is best for the dog but is more about the person themselves. So men who use those annoying retractable leashes turn out to be men without wills; they get pulled every which way by their dogs and by life. The Pack Leaders bully their dogs into submission because they need to be in control and dominate. The spoilers are trying to heal some inner wound that’s more about the lack they feel in themselves than the dog’s needs.

It’s a problem!

You see, the retractable leash guys have no spine and I can’t live with that. The pack leaders are just bullies who think a good smack now and again will keep me in line, and the spoilers just need to grow the fuck up. I want a man not a child.

I have found that of all ideas people hold, the ideas that have about dogs are the hardest ones to change. For me, I had to murder my own dog to get it. How many people get that kind of gift?

The problem is, how you see dogs is how you see the world, and you either think it’s a perfect universe or you don’t. If you think it’s “man’s” job to fix it all, and that dogs don’t naturally know how to be dogs, well, you’ll probably try to fix me. If you think you can only get someone to do the right thing by dominating them; um, don’t sign me up. If you think you have no say and no will, we got a problem. If you need a dog to fulfill an emotional need, you’re going to want me to do that. Not my job.  And no, I don’t want to take our dogs, or my dog, or your dog for a walk; it doesn’t interest me because dating and dog walking have nothing to do with each other.

I don’t want to date your dog.

So for now, it’s just me and my dog. For me, that is who she is, just my dog in all of her doggie wonderfulness; she’s not my lover, she’s not my friend substitute, she’s not my emotional band-aid or my way to vent rage. I feed her, throw her a stick once in a while and we call it good. Any thing else would be  a total disservice to her. That’s what matters, because she is the dog and it’s my job to honor that.IMG_3271

Everything I ever needed to know about love I learned from Mel Abraham.

f057388c-9a76-4763-9d04-ff5a01352850

*disclaimer; I am about to butcher a beautiful love story because it is not my own, sorry Mel.

Picture this. Woman meets man in a gym while in California for a conference. These two really hit it off, it’s love at first sight.  They make plans, they expose their feelings, they skype, they to go to another conference together, despite the ocean between them;  it’s a real Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund in Paris kind of thing. There’s a cool car, exotic locations, and long passionate kisses and everything. *go watch Casablanca and come back if you need to.

This is, well, bliss. Soulmates have been found! Like, you’ve been looking for someone your whole life and then there they are, right in front of you! And you even introduce them to your sister. (If you knew my sister, you would know what a big deal this is!)

I bet you’ve guessed this story is about me and someone I met in a gym, and you are right.

So about Mel Abraham. If you don’t know him; google him. He’s a business badass and just about the nicest guy on earth. I know this because I met him in a hallway at a fitness event and he is just incredibly kind. Anyhow, back to the story, it’s Sunday at the conference, I’m there with my soulmate, and Mel gets up to speak.

Mel tells the story about meeting his wife (see above disclaimer) and I’m not sure why because it’s a business conference, but it’s the most amazing love story ever. He sees the woman of his dreams in an airport and her reaction is decidedly not like Ilsa Lund in Casablanca. She’s kind of thinking, who is this weird guy? He just decides right then and there that she is the one and he does everything super romantic and gentlemanly to win her heart. Does it matter to him that she’s really not impressed with his advances, or that he just met her in an airport, or that she lives across the country, and that none of it makes sense?  Of course not, because Mel Abraham is a badass! He understands the one thing about love; none of that shit matters. How will we work it out? When will I see you? Who is going to move? Blah, blah, blah.

Yup, you guessed it. They got married.

So, my soulmate next to me then says, he just bought two tickets to Mel’s next conference and will I go with him? Well, hell yeah I will. With you baby, I will go anywhere!

I bet you can guess the next part too; we never went.

Because people go home and realize all the shit they will have to do to make things workout;  selling things, getting a new jobs, saying good byes and it all seems too much. Most people are not like Mel, they think things like houses, jobs, grandma’s dishes, and motorcycles actually mean something.

It’s not a war that keeps lovers apart but inconvenience.

What I know, and maybe what Mel knows, that at the end of our days we ask ourselves; “Did I live with all my heart, did I take risks to live my life fully, did I love my friends and family tremendously and without restraint, was I true, was I good, did I do what I was meant to do?”.  I saw my dad ask himself these questions when he was dying and I remember them every single day. This taught me; only love matters.

So, like a movie, this story has an end. For months I have been afraid.  I know what I will do if he appears again, unexpectedly, like that moment when Rick sees llsa sitting at that table in Rick’s Cafe. I will leave with him. No matter who I am with, what or who I have to lose, I will follow him, I will do that Ilsa thing and crush those who love me.

And I hang on.

But today when my lover contacts me out of the blue,  I remember Mel Abraham. And I know, I deserve someone like Mel. My very own Mel. Someone who doesn’t let the little things get in the way of being with me, because yes, I am worth that much. Someone who is willing to risk for me all that I would risk for him.

So, I instead of being Ilsa, I pull a Rick.  I take him to the runway. Get on that plane lover, without me, and don’t look back. Fly away to your future and I will fly away to mine, just don’t forget;

We will always have Paris, or Venice Beach.

 

 

 

 

How losing everything gained me the universe or why I no longer give a f*ck.

img_0304

You may be familiar or not with the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson.  A friend recently commented on Facebook that she disliked it so much that she sent it back. Many concurred. It made me wonder; why did I love this book so much? What was it that resonated with me?

I decided to re-read it.

I think this is it. We have to go through shit sometimes in order to understand it. It’s not enough sometimes to just have an open mind. We have to walk through the fire to understand the heat.

I have gone through two periods of massive personal loss. Eight years ago in the span of 8 months I lost; my husband of 25 years who had an affair and deserted the family, my amazing dad who died at home,  and my incredible German Shepherd dog who died for no apparent reason.  It was a descent into my own personal hell; all my nightmares had come true. Yet, I survived. Most importantly that is what I learned; I can survive anything.

Fast forward to last April. I met the man of my dreams. I finally starting collecting on the massive amount of money my ex owed me. I felt ready to sell my gym and move forward to creating my online brand and business.

The man left without saying goodbye.  The courts stopped the money. My mortgage got doubled by mistake. The people who bought my gym told me to f*ck off and never payed me. All of my best clothes were stolen at the airport and  I spent a week at a big convention dressed in clothes from the sale rack from Forever 21.

All before the May flowers bloomed.

Now here is how I learned to not give a f*ck.

I did things that didn’t cost money and they saved my life.

I meditated daily. I learned to cultivate a deep sense of peace and happiness regardless of my circumstances. I prayed everyday to be okay with having nothing. I believed that because I had lost everything and I was still here on planet earth, alive and breathing, that I would be fine. I felt that I could even lose my home, the rest of my clothes, and everything else and I would still be me. I learned that things have nothing to do with happiness. I couldn’t buy a thing, and I didn’t give a f*ck. I ate potatoes and rice and told my kids there would be no Christmas presents. They in turn, didn’t give a f*ck, and we had one of the best Christmas’s ever.

I practiced gratitude. Every single day. I would close my eyes and breathe in the immense and awe inspiring beauty around me. The birds, the trees, my dog. I would think of my friends, their smiles. I would think of my children; their incredible perfection. I felt joy.

I learned forgiveness. I began to rewrite the story of my failed marriage, and I forgave my ex husband. I forgave the people who ripped off my gym. I forgave the person who stole my clothes. I forgave myself for my part in all of these things.

I allowed myself to feel that I was part of the universe. Years ago, I wrote a Dear John letter to God and shut my heart to the feeling that I was a part of something bigger, grander, and a whole lot more intelligent than myself.  I opened up to the knowing I was a part, like we are all a part, of a force greater than myself.

So, I no longer give a f*ck about the following; whether someone leaves without saying good bye, what clothes to wear, where I live, if someone hits my car or cuts me off in traffic, what someone thinks of me, what I think of me, how many times the credit card company calls and threatens me, losing my house, whether I’m angry as f*ck or happy as hell, if I reach my goals or fall flat on my face…..You see, I no longer give a f*ck about most things.

What I do give a f*ck about; kindness, gratefulness, forgiveness, generosity, sincerity, honesty, my children, my friends and family, and of course, my super cute, man eating dog.

So that is why I loved the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and why I really don’t give f*ck anymore.

It’s the best kind of freedom.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

13064031_1018389931570881_51979440_o

If there is one thing I am good at, it’s hanging on. Now, this can be a good thing, like, when you are dangling off a cliff, or when things get hard. It can also be a very bad thing, like when you get pissed off, hurt, or  think you’ve been wronged.

Yes, things happen and like the humans we are, we spin stories about the events, then we believe the stories, and we hold on for dear life to our version. Well, at least I do.

I had a huge epiphany this morning while doing my daily forgiveness mediation. I was thinking about a woman who thought I was so negative, so hostile, so angry, ( just in general) that she refused to room with me at a retreat, and I had never even met her.

So for years guess what I did? Because I was hurt, and I took it personally, I judged her. Goodie goodie, judgemental, small minded twat; yup, that is her. I know this to be true, because she judged me, and tattled on me, and gossiped.

Pretty open minded of me, don’t you think?

The first problem with my approach was this. I felt separate from her. Somehow, I didn’t feel our sameness ( fear ) but felt she was lesser, and I was better. This morning I got it;  we are the same. All the hurt I felt from being judged and dismissed, she must have felt pretty crappy herself.  Something triggered fear and how good could that have felt? Answer, bad enough for her to act like a twat. 🙂 ( Kidding!)

Obviously, the second problem is that I am condemning her for doing exactly what I am doing to her. I have carried such anger and judgement around. I had a story, I spun it, I stuck to it.

This morning, I let go of the story. I have no idea what happened in her heart to make her never want to be in my presence. I can’t care. I can’t know. There is no story. There is just me and what kind of person I want to be. Being open feels better than being closed. Being uncertain feels better than clinging to my version of the truth. Just acknowledging that it hurt, and working through it in my own way, is the way to peace.

And I want peace. I understand that forgiveness is a practice and it begins with seeing each person as ourselves, feeling compassion, and just being curious.

That is what I want to hang on to!

Why Bossy Bitches are a Girl’s Best Friend.

If there is one thing human beings are really good at it’s denial; believing our own stories, pretending everything is okay when it’s not, that kind of shit.

We surround ourselves with people who are like us; they validate our crazy thoughts about ourselves. We get confirmation that yes indeed we are victims, or we deserve a,b or c, or whatever insane world view that we have.

But sometimes we get juicy friends; they make us messy by asking us big questions and not buying into our bullshit delusions. I feel really lucky that 99% of my friends are like this.

Let me tell you about Rena and how she made me realize that I am addicted to men putting me down and making me feel like horse shit.

If you are female and you have a best friend like Rena, you probably tell her everything. Like, every-little-thing. You know, the TMI kind of stuff. But it’s all good!
That’s how we roll.

So the story begins with me telling her about a new dating prospect. I like the guy; he’s layed back, he’s into fitness, he’s my age, he’s in the same business. I feel hope! In one of our first conversations he mentions this incredibly fit and out of the park gorgeous woman he used to date and who broke his heart. Ok I say, I prefer to leave the past in the past. I don’t like to dig things up with new people. Can we leave our ex’s out of this and just get to know each other? Sure he says. Next day, he mentions his last girlfriend was 28. The guy is pushing 54. I tell him that this makes me uncomfortable on many levels, the least of which is we agreed not to bring up the past. Next day, he asks me how tall I am. 5’1″ I say. Oh great, says he, my ex was 5’10” so I’m ready for a change. Next day he asks me, do I like sports. Why yes, especially baseball and I’m a Yankee fan! Ironic, says he, I used to date a girl who also had long curly hair who loved the Yankees………………….

There is this terrible feeling in my gut, and it’s familiar, and it makes me sick, and I don’t know what to do.

“Block him”, Rena says. I say, “Blah, blah, blah.” “Block him”, she says.
I can’t. I don’t.

She calls me up. “Did you block him?”, she asks. I say, “Blah, blah, blah”. She gets MAD.
“Do it. NOW. Right now. While I’m on the phone. Now or I’m coming there and doing it for you!”
Pretty bossy, right?
I did not want to do it, but she was being pretty fucking pushy, so I did.

That knot in my gut, that crappy “I am horse shit” feeling, it went away.

I had to ask myself why I was so reluctant to block him, and to keep communicating with him even though he was crossing a very clear boundry over and over. I saw, in that moment, that I was addicted to asshole men who treat me like garbage. Addicted. Just like heroin. Blocking him was like putting down that last cigarette I ever smoked, or saying no to the last line of coke I was ever offered.
And I couldn’t have done it without my bossy little friend, who refused to allow me to stay stuck in a self destructive pattern of letting others abuse me. That bossy little bitch!
She saved me.

So what happened?
That date never happened and out of the blue someone who asked me out three times and I refused, mustered up the courage to ask me again.
This time I said yes and as we traversed the most stunning countryside on his Harley, on the most gorgeous summer day ever, with the wind blowing in my hair, there were tears in my eyes not from abuse, but from profound happiness. I was doing something I loved more than almost anything, it was such a outrageously beautiful, perfect day, and he even bought me ice cream.

Without my bossy little bitch of a friend, I would have been sitting in some sports bar listening to a litany of escapades with ex-girlfriends.

Hallelujah for our friends who know us better than me know ourselves, and won’t settle for us being lesser than we really are.

 14193645_10207321322967869_910785760_n

When butterflies scream

13595644_10206870204730195_268488679_n

I heard recently that scientists have discovered that when a pupa ( an almost butterfly) is going through metamorphosis they emit a high pitched and  terrifying scream that can only be described as the sound of agonizing excruciating pain.

I believe it because this is what metamorphosis is like.

We are who we are because for years and years we let our emotions and feelings  dictate our thoughts and therefore our actions. We create our own personal reality we call our lives in the likeness of all the things people have told us we are or who we think we are suppose to be.

We start out an egg, full of endless possibility. Most of us live like caterpillars, believing our own reality is the reality, eating it up, and eating everything in sight to prepare for that transformation that is meant to happen.

When we decide to change, we get wound and wound and wound up tight in the cocoon, a tight straight jacket of our own making. All of our beliefs about scarcity, not feeling like we are enough, self hatred, shame, blame, weave around us to keep us in.

The universe is happy to supply all the fabric we need to keep us wound up tight in this little cocoon just to see what we are really made of and how much fight or love we have to get ourselves out.

I know this, because I am right there, in the middle of this suffocating, paralyzing and all around exasperating web of sticky stuff; I feel like Frodo in Shelob’s lair.

I long for my own life where it no longer feels like struggle but joy. I want love, abundance and the freedom to be creative.

Haha! My body, my feelings, my thoughts protest! NO! I am used to creating abandonment by choosing horrible people to marry and dishonorable people to do business with. I get screwed, I get dumped on, I get left to clean up the mess of other people.

To wake up one morning and decide you are done with this crap sends the universe into a huge fit of deep belly laughs.

“Oh yeah girlfriend, you want to feel like you deserve love, to have agreements honored, and to have flow to bring your unique gift into the world. Okay then, lets have a magistrate make a clerical error so your ex husband no longer has to pay you, have a business deal go South, how about someone at the mortgage company screws up so your mortgage gets doubled, lets throw in people dropping out of your business left and right and the cherry on top will be to meet the man of your dreams who is not only moody and brooding but an ocean away as well.” Love, The Universe.

Its a metaphysical conspiracy.

This is the test. In the moment of metamorphosis, will we give up and give in and back down and go back to living like a creepy crawly? Are we able to recognize all the feelings, thoughts and choices that have brought us to this place or do we fall victim to the idea that we are simply dust in the wind and that we have no control over what happens to us?

Will we elevate our feelings, feeling loved already, cared for already, abundant and creative already, perfect already, in a blind leap of faith, feeling what we want as if we already have it, even if the universe is doubled over in laughter at our audacity?

This shit hurts! We are allowed to scream the agonizing screams of metamorphosis because change sucks!   Still, even screaming, we can put our fingers in the face of the laughing universe and rise to the challenge of becoming the person we were born to be.

I know I have no choice. I will push and push and push through this web of feelings of not being enough, of not deserving, and I expect the resistance. In fact, dear Universe, bring it on! I’m ready for you!

You want to see what I’m made of, who I was born to be?

Good! Because I’m about to show you!

I’m a fucking butterfly.

 

 

When what you are good at makes you cry.

I’ve made a rather annoying discovery; what our gift is to the world, call it medicine or talent or whatever, is intimately tied to what has caused us the most suffering.

The task becomes to tease out one from the other; our deepest strength from our deepest wound, and to hold onto our gift while healing from the trauma of that pain.

Have you ever noticed that people that given so much to the world, people like The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, have endured unimaginable suffering and yet are able to stand up and offer so much hope and light?

How does this happen? For me, I have always been about fairness. Perhaps my first words were, “How dare you!”. Righteous indignation has always been my modus operandi. I can remember at age 6 fearlessly confronting a bully and demanding they become a better person. Speaking truth to power has been a constant, underlying and powerful force that lead me to the jungles of Central America, to becoming a true believer in collective decision making, and has made me many enemies when I challenged the fairness of anything.

That’s why I almost became a lawyer and would have been a pretty kick ass one too.

I hope that my heartfelt sense of fairness, honesty, and integrity has served the world in someways. At least it stopped some playground fights.

And yet, this superhero, who is fearless in the face of unfairness to others, will absolutely crumble, cry, feel hopeless, scream, flail, roll in the dirt when someone is unfair to me. When unfairness happens to me, it is my undoing.

Why?

Because fairness is my pain. Nothing was ever fair about my life as a child. Being compared to a dead sister, having things given then taken away, and the most essential promise everyone deserves, to be loved and cared for by a mother, was denied to me.

So what did I do? Even though I told myself; “I will never be like that!” and I wasn’t, I was simultaneously doing something else. Every time unfairness happened to me, I closed my heart a little bit. Something happened and I put another brick and some mortar on that wall I was building to protect myself. Like any tiny human, I protected myself against the pain.

But here’s the deal: What goes in must come out.

Unfairness done to me now triggers that primal rage I couldn’t process as a kid. And it wants out! And it’s like vomit. You know, when you’re sick, and you have to throw up, and you really, really don’t want to, but on the other hand you know you’ll feel better plus you can’t help it? That’s what its like. It’s like vomit. Keeping it in just isn’t an option.

So while I judge myself for giving a shit when people go back on their word or do something outrageously unfair, I’m learning not to. It is precisely the fact that I have felt unfairness deeply that makes me the best advocate for fairness. I know what it feels like and I demand the world become better. So it’s a gift.

But I also realize that while warning people, “Don’t fuck with me,” is a nice heads up, I need to heal that grief if I am ever going to be free of it. I want all that energy I’m using to keep it in free and available so I can go kick some ass. In a good way.

So I observe it, with compassion; “Oh look, there’s that pain and grief again from all the times you had to endure unfairness” I give it love.

I let it out. Mostly when people aren’t around. You know when Bruce Banner becomes The Incredible Hulk? Yup, that’s just about what it looks like. So its best done in private.

I think we are all like this. Our gift and our pain are bound together in this crazy, twisted, and gnarled branch… But life is hope, and we can untangle it, keeping the gift and healing the pain.

We just need to allow whatever that pain is to come out and show it’s face, and we can love it, send it on it’s way, and carry on our own warrior’s path, whatever that may be.