3 Sex Problems as a Woman.

Let me start this out by making a couple wild generalizations about sex.

First, we’re all having it.

Of course, that’s not actually true; some of us haven’t had it yet, others are going through a drought and some choose not to have it at all. But in general, it’s a widespread phenomenon. Which is good, since it’s what leads to the propagation of the species.

Second, while it’s an extremely common experience, we don’t really talk about it.

We don’t talk about it with each other (as in, the actual people we’re having sex with), and we don’t talk about it with others, even those we’re close to. Again, yes, there are exceptions to this, but generally, not so much.

I humbly submit that this is a major issue. Because it’s easy for things that are kept hidden or secret (whether accidentally or on purpose) to lead to feelings of shame, confusion and hopelessness. Plus, what we don’t talk about, we can’t get support with. And we need support in this area; sex and sexuality are fundamental to who we are as human beings.

…Read more here

That Time I Accidentally Got On Tinder, Then Realized I Hate Everything About It

This past weekend, I got back on Tinder.

I had taken a just-under-2-year hiatus.

Now, to be clear, I don’t really have anything against Tinder. In fact, I had a very nice lay not long before I got off of it. We had epic hotel sex and I had no complaints. I even keep in touch with him (he was from out of town). We’ve gotten to be friends.

But after a while I just couldn’t, well, get it up for the app anymore. I matched with all kinds of guys who never messaged me, or with whom I messaged for quite a while before they ever asked me out, or who did ask me out but once we got together it became clear there just wasn’t that much chemistry.

This time, I didn’t really mean to get back on it. It wasn’t a conscious decision, a deliberate weighing of the pros and cons, an intentional exercise in wanting to meet new men or be truly met by someone.

Rather, someone randomly gave me a Tinder Plus or Tinder Select or some such invite. Suddenly I was back on the app, back scrolling through faces and profiles, first names and pictures, washboard abs and bearded dudes on surfboards, men who went to good schools who had linked their Instagram profiles, or not.

Like any good Tinder user, I started judging immediately.

Too douchey-looking, not good-looking enough, too hipster-y, too little info on his profile, too mean of a profile (“please be able to hold a conversation” … “be more than your social media” … “not looking for drama”).

Clever, funny, sarcastic, at-least-somewhat-athletic-looking, open-hearted-seeming men got swipes right.

Far-too-LA-model/actor-y, men with pictures where you couldn’t really see their faces, and serial-killer-looking-y dudes were swiped left.

And after not very long at all, I started feeling that familiar feeling:

Emptiness.

There is a special kind of loneliness that comes from Tindering (at least for me).

It’s not that there are bad guys on the app, or that no one makes an effort, or that the men on it are just out for sex and nothing else (some are, some aren’t, just like in real life).

No, it’s the depressing sameness of the “chill and laidback”, IPA-drinking, “love to travel” parade of mainstream men.

My friends and I call people who aren’t into consciousness work Muggles. It’s not derogatory exactly, just a helpful way for us to distinguish those who are like us from those who aren’t.

Muggles tend to be:

  • People who work at tech startups and believe statistics and science are more real than anything else
  • People who’ve never been to any kind of therapy
  • People who associate their net worth with their self-worth
  • People who think they’re fine until they have a breakdown and even then only consider the medical reason for it — not that it likely stemmed from an emotional one (or that it will recur until they deal with the emotional issue underlying it)
  • People who make decisions from their heads
  • People who’ve never explored how they handle anger, or why they’re passive aggressive when they are
  • People who do yoga for the exercise and nothing else
  • People who go to Burning Man for the drugs and the sex

Magical people tend to be:

  • People who meditate
  • People who consider how their relationship with their parents has affected their relationship with the opposite sex now
  • People who know their Myers Briggs and/or enneagram type
  • People who are familiar with their family of origin “issues” (even if they’re not over them, they’re aware of them)
  • People who attend or run workshops
  • People who acknowledge there is likely a spiritual reason they’re going through what they’re going through at work, and are open to talking about it
  • People who do yoga for both the physical and mindfulness aspects of it
  • People who do or have done psychedelics for consciousness purposes
  • People mindful of what they’re “working on” in life on an emotional level
  • People who understand that their consciousness is powerful and that they create much of their own reality
  • People whose shelves are full of books like Wired for Love, Way of the Superior Man, Integral Psychology, The Four Agreements, The Wisdom of the Enneagram

Now, to be clear, I don’t think one group is “better” than the other. I just find that one group is more conscious than the other.

Magical people have problems just like everyone else. They just seem to be more in relationship with them, with their origins, and want to explore them in a different way. Muggles have the same capacity to be “spiritual” as everyone else (everyone has a soul).

I just can’t talk to them about it openly.

Honestly, I’m pretty nervous about talking about this.

I’m pretty nervous some people will read it and think I’m judging them.

I’m pretty nervous I’ll be judged for being one of “those people” who’s into woo-woo shit and doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

I’m saying it anyway.

Because this is part of my shadow. It’s part of where I’m unconscious, and where unconsciousness will run this part of my life unless I get conscious around it.

My unconscious tells me: you’ll never find a man who’s both fuckable and into the same consciousness shit you are.

So my reality on Tinder is: there are no men who are both fuckable and into consciousness shit like I am.

I’m not the only one who does this kind of splitting. Lots of us have beliefs like:

  • “I’ll never find a job where I’m well paid and get to do creative stuff.”
  • “I’ll never find a place to rent that’s both affordable and in the neighborhood I want.”
  • “I’ll never find a guy who’s emotionally available and great in bed.”
  • “I’ll never find a woman who’s sexy and emotionally stable.”

Our unconscious tells us we’ll never get what we actually want because it’s impossible, too far out there, too much. That we’re deluded or greedy or selfish or ungrateful for even wanting it in the first place.

At my core, I don’t believe that.

So the real reason I deleted the app is simple: it triggers my fear that I’ll never have my and, and I don’t want to empower that.

In my better moments, in my better conversations, in my better state of mind, I can feel my and. I am receptive and powerful and ready for a man who can really meet me.

In the meantime, I’m swiping left on Tinder.

5 Ways I Want to Feel With My Future Man

[Photo by Bryan Brenneman]

This is an edgy piece for me to write right now.

First, because I feel self-conscious sharing it, as though I’m afraid someone will call me selfish or ungrateful or unrealistic for naming what I truly want.

Second, because I’m not even sure I want to be in a relationship at all. That’s not really true — a part of me really wants it. Another part is intensely afraid.

I’m writing it anyway.

Because as much as I’m afraid of being labeled selfish, and as much as I’m scared of getting into a relationship, I believe that where my deep desires live is also where my path lies.

That following my deepest desires is following my path.

Plus, ya know, talking about sexy men is kinda my jam, even if they’re not in my life yet.

So here are 6 ways I really, truly, deeply want to feel with my future man:

1. Wanted

I want to feel wanted. I want to feel desired. I want you to push me up against a wall because you just can’t stand it anymore (“that skirt tho”). I want to know that I affect you, that when you get near me you feel it in your cock, that your face gets flushed and you have to breathe extra deeply to steady yourself.

I want to see your eyes light up when you see me naked for the first time, when you catch a glimpse of my eyes flashing from across the room, when I show up a little tipsy after a night out with the girls and you have me keep my heels on for a while around the house.

I want to want you the same way. I want to feel pulled to you, drawn to you, magnetically attracted to your body, your strength, your masculinity, your essence. I want to lust after you. I want to want to jump you all the time, to straddle you, to not be able to wait to get you home when we’re out, to feel the electric tingle of your hands on my back and know exactly where else I want those hands.

2. Relaxed

I want you to be more grounded than me.

That’s the truth.

I want you to be the oak tree so I get to be the bright butterfly fluttering around you. I want you to pull me into this moment right here, right now, with the deep steadiness of your own presence.

I want you to remind me of the ocean spray and the salty sunlight and the bright, flowering rose in the yard because you are aware of them. I want you to pick the wildflower you see on your way home for me because you were present enough to notice that there was a wildflower growing there in the first place.

I want to feel more grounded, more present, more aware of heat and motion and the delicious sensations of my own body because you are. Under your gaze, I want to melt into the beauty and lucidity of myself, like a candle becoming soft and fluid and eternal.

3. Committed to me

Once, relatively early into dating, I wrote a boyfriend an email about something that had upset me. He had a really busy job, but you know what? He spent every single free moment he had that day, whether in the bathroom or the breakroom, responding to my email.

I felt honored.

I also felt respected. Cherished. Valued. This was a man who wanted to know how I felt. Unlike my previous, cold-hearted boyfriend, he didn’t shame me for communicating — he appreciated it.

More than anything, what I got was that he really, truly wanted to be in a relationship with me. He wanted to be committed. He wanted it all, and he wanted it with me.

Feeling his commitment helped me relax and let him in even more. I could lean into that steadiness, into that assurance, and rest in the security of knowing I was really, really important to him.

Perhaps paradoxically, it felt like freedom.

4. Met

I want to be fucking met.

I want to know you’re just as smart as me, and I’m not talking about book smart. I couldn’t care less about where you went to school or whether you have a fancy career or whether you’ve read Balzac.

No, smart as in able to meet me on the same plane of spiritual engagement.

I want to know you’ve done your work and that you continue to do it. I want to know you’re emotionally aware and not afraid to bring it. I want you to have a men’s group and mentors and a way for you to get outside of our relationship and outside of your own head on a regular basis. I want you to know what it means to be in your head.

And I want you to be able to challenge me and hold me to my own beliefs: that my people will come; I don’t have to force anything. That the universe will take care of me. And us. And all of us. That maybe my own unconscious bullshit is in the way of whatever it is we’re talking about right now, too. That I can open and receive and allow anything in, especially when I let go of the outcome.

That we are loved by something greater, that we are greater, that oneness is real, that peace is possible, that this is not the end.

5. Held

I want to know you’ve got me. I want to know you’ve got this (whatever “this” is). I want you to listen to me, yes, but I also want you to lead me. I want to follow your lead.

I want you to lead in the way you notice me, the way you track me, the way you draw me out. I want you to know when something is wrong or seems wrong, and ask me about it. I don’t want you to wait for me to bring it up. I want to feel held and protected and known and know that you want to do right by me even if you don’t get it right all the time.

In other words, I want you to trust and act on your deep masculine intuition, so that I can relax into my true feminine expression.

No biggie.

A parable:

“A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.

One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.

The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, ‘Grandfather, which one wins?’

The grandfather quietly replies, ‘The one you feed.’”

This article was my attempt at feeding the good wolf.

Why Art Sucks

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A guy friend of mine recently made a comment about one of my articles recently that really, really pissed me off.

He said that in calling myself ‘moderately attractive’ at the beginning of Ten Things NOT To Do While Hitting On Me, I myself was breaking not one, but two of my own rules within the article: 1) Don’t neg, and 2) Be confident.

He said the fact that I didn’t just outright own the fact that I’m attractive (not ‘moderately’ attractive) was an un-confident neg.

“What you’re saying is that you think I’m attractive,” I said.

“No, I’m saying you are attractive,” he corrected me, “which is why it was stupid to say ‘moderately.’”

“According to you.”

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“According to me, him, any guy in this bar!” he said, gesturing around. “If we asked all of them to vote, that’s what they’d say. You should just admit it – you shouldn’t have done that in the piece.”

All right. Momentarily setting aside the absurdity of being on the wrong side of an argument about my level of attractiveness, there were several troubling things going on here.

First of all, on a strictly logical level, I was annoyed. It will never be absolutely true that I am attractive, just as it will never be absolutely true that anyone is. Attractiveness really is personal: everyone has a type, and the truth is I’m simply not some people’s type.

The more insidious thing was the fact that in a way, he was right. (God, I hate it when they’re right). I had consciously not owned that I was attractive. I’d gone back and forth on whether to keep the word ‘moderately,’ going so far as to write it out one way, then the other.

But I wasn’t negging myself. I feel confident and attractive with respect to my looks most of the time. I don’t have a problem attracting men. I know how to walk, how to flirt, how to drop the right hints, how to escalate. But I also have insecurities, just like anyone else. Some days I’m proud of how I look and some days I hate my body. Some days I feel great and some days I feel fat; sometimes I feel unstoppable and sometimes I feel disgusting.

So I made a strategic decision to include the word ‘moderately.’ I wanted to be modest and accurate, and I really didn’t want to be shamed for calling myself attractive and stating it in a truly up front way. In other words, I wasn’t negging myself – I was protecting myself.

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But no matter what I said or how I explained it, this ‘friend’ wasn’t budging. He thought I did exactly the thing I said not to do and I thought he just wasn’t listening and somewhere in the midst of all of it, I felt like crying. I couldn’t figure out why it felt so awful, why this deep, aching hole had formed within me, and in particular why it felt so incredibly, profoundly unfair.

Then I had an epiphany.

I realized that the content of the comment wasn’t what pissed me off – it was the offhanded nature of it. It was his cavalier disregard, the simplemindedness of judging what someone else is doing without having to do it yourself. As he enumerated the ways in which I was wrong, I could feel myself becoming defensive, shutting down. And not because he was wrong.

Because I felt terribly, numbingly misunderstood.

It was in that moment that I truly grasped that sometimes, art sucks.

It blows to be misunderstood. It’s shitty to not have control over how other people take your art, take your words, take your meaning. It’s really annoying not being able to control other people’s perception of you – especially when your perception is that their perception is that you’re weak.

I was particularly frustrated at the idea being judged, having my words minced and extracted and analyzed, without the balance of the other person having to come out, as well.

You want to judge me? Then let’s see you put yourself out there. Let’s see you write (or paint or sing or build) something you believe in –where you share where you’re raw, where you lay your soul out, like meat on a platter to be viewed and judged and tasted and deemed delicious or mediocre or wanting.

Because when I publish – whatever I publish, whenever I publish – I’m putting myself out there. I’m making my work available for the judgments of others. All of a sudden the inclusion or exclusion of a single word is what hinges upon me being taken seriously or someone cutting me down.

And honestly – why would anyone put themselves in a position to get cut down?

Because that’s what artists do. They go out on the limb, no matter how tenuous. They are the kingpins and the dummies and the lightning rods and the canaries in the collective coalmine. They say what others are unwilling to or unable to or unaware of. They clarify and amplify the noises in the culture around us and hold it right up to people’s faces and say, “Here! Here is what I’m talking about!” And the most powerful of these messages are when they say, “Here! Here it is. Here I am.”

But saying, “Here I am” is also incredibly risky. It is when we are most exposed that we are most influential, because the message is undiluted and unprocessed and undeniable. That vulnerability – real vulnerability – is what real art is. Whether it is expressed through dance or sculpture or writing or song or a cover letter or a letter of resignation – it is authentic vulnerability that produces great art.

So it is that artists are often the ones everyone else is talking about, the ones about whom topics revolve, the ones who spark the discussions that inspire the judgments and unearth the rifts and shine a light on the dark places.

Ultimately that’s our place and our purpose.

Yet we are also some of the most sensitive members of society. We are often more vulnerable than others, but because of the nature of our work we’re even more criticized. Yes – we are also venerated. Our words and murals and films and songs uplift and inspire and refine the voices and experiences of those around us. Sometimes – many times – we are recognized for that. Sometimes we’re attacked for it.

It’s easy to judge, criticize, and evaluate someone else’s art, someone else’s creation.

It’s not easy to share. Real sharing takes guts and brilliance and determination and heart and fire.

When I felt criticized, there was a part of me that wanted to tell him to shut up. There was a part that wanted to run away and hide the hurt. There was a part that wanted to scream, “You don’t understand!” and explain myself louder. But a bigger part of me wanted to say, “Actually, you know what? If you’re not in the ring, then get the fuck out the way.”

Because if you’re not willing to make yourself vulnerable like me – in some area of your life, I don’t care where – then no matter what I say, I’m better than you.

Yeah, I said it. I’m better than you. If I’m really putting my ass on the line, doing my thing, expressing my humanity, and you’re not – then I’m beating you at life. I’m beating you at life even if you think you’re right – even if you are right. Because you’re right about the thing I made.

 

I can’t do anything about the hurt. I can’t do anything about the fact that I am incredibly sensitive – that what makes me brilliant also leaves me more open to searing pain.

But I can make a powerful decision about it. In fact, I can make a series of powerful decisions.

So here’s what I decide, as an artist:

1. I’m an artist.

2. In sharing my art, I may not always feel safe.

3. In sharing my art, I may not always feel good.

4. In sharing my art, I may not always get to be right.

5. So I won’t do it to be right, or to get praised.

6. I won’t do it to get agreement, to get Likes, to get rich, or to get off.

7. I’ll do it because it’s my truth.

8. I’ll do it because it matters.

9. I’ll do it because it’s the deepest part of me, it’s the real-est thing I have to offer, and it’s the greatest gift I have to give.

10. I’ll do it because it’s my job.

My job is not to control your reaction to my art. My job is not to pre-determine whether my art will be popular. My job is not to please the critics or test the waters or ensure that everyone on The Internet understands exactly what I meant (and not what they heard).

My job is solely to share my art.

To share it, and keep sharing it, and when I have crazy intense emotional reactions to others’ reactions to my art, to share that.

In a way, it’s much simpler. I don’t have to worry about what anyone will think or whether it’s good or how good it is or how it ‘does’ or whether I’m right, because once it’s shared – once it’s given, once it’s out there – my job is done.

So I commit to doing my job. I commit to my art.

It’s my calling.

I’ve decided to answer it.

 

Vixen Manifesto (the original)

Vixen Manifesto

1. It is possible for every single person alive to have amazing, passionate, mind-altering sex. In fact, as human beings it is not only possible, it is our birthright.

2. Everyone should have a relationship with her/his sexuality completely separate from any other (romantic or otherwise). Your sexuality doesn’t depend on anyone else, and it is a vital part of who you are: it can be a source of power.

3. Monogamy isn’t for everyone. It’s time to be realistic about that and start dealing with it, instead of pretending it works for everybody. It doesn’t.

4. Not all relationships are meant to last – even long-term ones. If we aren’t learning and growing within a relationship, it’s time to get out. Having been together for a long time is NOT a reason to stay together.

5. One in four girls and one in six boys are survivors of sexual abuse, a huge factor in one’s current sexual reality. If you are one, know the following: 1. You are not alone. 2. It wasn’t your fault. 3. Help is available. 4. If you haven’t yet dealt with it, it’s time.

6. It is absolutely impossible for one person to fulfill all of your needs. Problematically, this is the current model for romantic relationships in our culture. We need a new one.

7. The way people receive love is different: some people feel loved when they are told aloud; others want to be shown, with gifts or acts of service. Social science shows us that over and over, people assume that others are like them. They’re not. Understanding fundamental personality differences like these can make or break relationships.

8. Relationship Ed should be taught in schools the way Sex Ed is.

9. Unresolved trauma is the root cause of most issues in relationship. Many times relationships force us to confront our deepest Family Of Origin (FOO) “issues.” So let’s confront them, instead of just unconsciously repeating old patterns. Let’s all be FOO fighters.

10. World peace will only be achieved when every person is raised in a healthy, loving, functional family system.* By learning to have healthy relationships, we actually do have the power to change the world – literally.

 

*healthy does not necessarily mean traditional nuclear family, nor does it mean “perfect.”

Note: This blog is hetero-normative. It excludes a lot of relationship concerns, including gay/lesbian/transgender and others. There are fascinating discussions to be had on these topic, I just don’t cover them. Also, I occasionally utilize sentence fragments. Before the Grammar Police get their panties in a bunch, please know that I realize I’m doing so. I just like to use them for effect. Note that I didn’t say “affect.”

6 Thing Men Should Get About Women.

Newsflash, men: It isn’t all (always) your fault.

I recently received an amazing email (names and other identifying information have been changed), and it had me realize just how much confusion there is when dealing with the fairer sex:

“Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog and thought you might be a good person to turn to for advice, so here goes. I met a very intelligent and attractive woman at a lecture a few weeks ago. We had been talking for about a half hour and really developed a great rapport. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.

Then things suddenly went downhill. There was a pause in the conversation and since she had classic curves (large bust, narrow waist, etc.), I commented that she had a “really nice hourglass figure.” My intent was to be complimentary and a little flirtatious but instead she became deeply offended. I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but the more I talked, the more I exacerbated things as she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She told me I was being “inappropriate” and that she was “very disappointed” and then whap, she slapped my face and departed.

My reply:

“She slapped you!? No, I don’t think you should email her an apology note. I think she should email you one!”

read more

Why I’m Not Married

According to Tracy McMillan, the reason I’m not married is that I’m a selfish, angry, shallow, lying, slut who deep down doesn’t feel like she’s good enough.

In actuality, most of this is true for women — and men, for that matter — some of the time. We are all selfish, shallow, and “slutty” (although I have a big problem with this word) at times. All of us lie. And God knows we all have moments where we feel like we’re not good enough (harshly lit TJ Maxx dressing rooms are great for this).

But I don’t believe I’m not married because of these things. I think these things are part of what make me human. Here’s why I think I’m not married…

Read More

 

What I Know Now That I’m 30

Since I’ve been 30 for over a week now, I decided it was time to reflect on this monumental occasion in my young life. Here are a few of my reflections after three decades on this crazy planet:

Reflection #10: I am impressed with myself for simply ‘getting by.’

Since graduating, I’ve supported myself with limited credit card debt (<$6k) and without relying on things like antidepressants. This is probably a better track record than at least 40% of the American population. I’m going at life full-out, experiencing it all without numbing it or dumbing it down. Every day. That makes me proud.

Reflection #9: No job will be entirely perfect.

There are a lot of ways to do good in the world. Some pay better than others. I’ve worked as a highly-paid tutor teaching French to kids, and I’ve worked as an advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse. One isn’t better than the other, and sometimes it’s OK to get a job just because it pays well. Do-gooders can be self-righteous. Finance people can be kind and giving parents. Sometimes it’s OK to chase the money.

There is also no one job that will meet all of my needs or within which I will express all of my gifts. I’m talented at writing, languages, performing, facilitating, coaching, and teaching. I feel the strongest call at the moment to the realm of male/female dynamics and healthy relationships, but I also accept that that might not be “what I spend my life doing.” In fact, I’ve let go of the idea that I was meant to ‘do’ something with my life. My generation is said to likely change careers five times. A job won’t create meaning for me; I create my own meaning. It’s a relief to finally admit that I’m not failing just because I haven’t found the perfect job. The perfect job doesn’t exist. This is life. This is what I’m doing with it.

Reflection #8: One of the most effective and long-lasting ways to learn is to mimic a good role model.

This is somewhat of a lost art in our culture. We have a lot of books and a lot of words and spend a lot of time in our heads, but watching someone do something well — like give a boss good feedback s/he can hear, run an effective, productive family meeting, have a healthy conflict with his/her partner — is more valuable than all of that combined. I want more role models in my life. I want more mentors. I don’t just want to grow up, I want to become wise.

Reflection #7: For me, being heard, receiving genuine compliments, and nurturing physical affection are how I feel loved.

To me, the utility of dating is to see what really works for you and what doesn’t. To see who you are in relation to others. To discover your patterns — both the useful and destructive ones. Everyone is good at some things, and not good at others. Marriage isn’t always a good thing. Divorce isn’t always a bad thing. Some couples just don’t work together. Some do. I’m 30 and I know how I feel loved. I believe that makes it more likely that I will feel loved in relationship.

Reflection #6: Sometimes growing spiritually feels like dying.

I’ve engaged in a lot of different healing modalities in my lifetime. But when it gets right down to it, growing for me has always been about confronting where I feel the most weak, the most vulnerable, and feeling it all the way down to the bottom. I’ve screamed until my throat was raw. I’ve cried until I couldn’t breathe. I’ve broken through barriers by digging all the way down into the ugliest of the ugly truths about who I am, who I may never be, and where I am right now, in this moment. Present. After that, there is space. After that, there is peace. After that, there is expansion.

For me, the process is rarely fluffy and light. Often it has felt like I won’t make it, or don’t want to. Sometimes it has felt like the end. Spiritual growth is one of the most difficult and wrenching things I’ve ever done, and continue to do. Worth it, but wrenching.

Reflection #5: I am incredibly sensitive. So what?

I can feel what other’s feel and intuitively know things. I’m good at coaching and listening and empathizing and being. At the same time, I require extra care and affection and attention when it comes to relationship, and tact in terms of feedback. I used to be ashamed of this. I should be different. I should have a thicker skin. I shouldn’t be crying. I should be “stronger.” Now it feels more neutral. I’m less resistant to who I am and how I am. Yeah, I’m sensitive. And … that’s how it is. Instead of spending time trying to change how I am, I spend more time figuring out how to work with it. This is what is. Now what?

Reflection #4: I am fortunate to have solely first world problems … and my problems aren’t insignificant.

Should I get a Kindle or a Nook? What should I do with my life? Maybe I should see a show tomorrow, instead of staying in. What do I do about the fact that I wore the shoes today so my feet are wet — do I buy new ones? Should I eat my Luna bar now, or later? Who left the toilet seat up!? #firstworldproblems.

I don’t have children to feed or schlep up and down subway stairs. I don’t have HIV/AIDS. I don’t have to walk two miles to a well every day, twice a day, that might have malaria in it anyway. I’m not an orphan. I’m not addicted. I have access to clean bathrooms (with soap) and potable water — the water that comes out of my shower is drinkable, for crying out loud.

At the same time, the emotional growth I’ve done has been extremely confronting and arduous. It’s not better or worse, it’s just distinct. There are lots of types of challenges in the world. I used to be ashamed that my problems weren’t ‘enough’ or ‘valid.’ Now I feel grateful that I’m physically housed, clothed, and fed, but I also recognize that the work I’m doing in this lifetime is also legitimate — it’s just different.

Reflection #3: There are going to be some MAJOR changes in our lifetime.

Global warming is real. It’s going to cause serious change. We’re going to advance technologically in ways we can’t yet predict. Things are going to change geographically, socially, societally, personally. We live our lives as if this isn’t true, as if everything is going to be the same, when really, at any moment everything we have could be swept away. What do you do if a tsunami and/or earthquake hits the entire Eastern Seaboard the way it hit Japan or Haiti? You get through it. You sort through the rubble and create something new. Instead of teaching at Horace Mann or PS 192, you teach in a refugee camp in Jersey. Then life becomes about that, not this. You survive. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.

Phenomena like climate change and the possibility of what a post-oil world will look like, take the pressure off decisions I make now. Things much larger than me are shifting in ways no one can predict; I just happen to be on the planet for it. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a wild ride … exciting and scary and thrilling and very, very different. It’s inevitable and it’s going down now. This is it.

Reflection #2: I still look pretty hot for 30.

Booyah.

Reflection #1: I wouldn’t go back in time for anything.

I haven’t done a lot in my life in terms of external achievements. I did manage to get into a world-class university and excel there (according to my own measurements), but that’s about it. I don’t own a house or have a big IRA. I’m not the CEO or founder of a hot new startup. I haven’t been written up in Page Six, I don’t own a fancy car, and I don’t have a bunch of letters after my name.

However, I have made significant strides in terms of my humanity. I’ve built a strong sense of self and learned how to be connected to something higher in a genuine way. I’ve developed a backbone and a big heart. I’ve worked on caring for myself and others. I forgive where I once didn’t. I laugh. I stand up straight. I listen.

There is no amount of money or fame or anything else that would have me go back. I’m still learning, and I can truly say that if I died, I’d be at peace. Because I’ve come a long way, and at least every few days, I remember what’s important and act on it. So alongside the very human sense of emptiness and lack, I still, on a regular basis, experience a sense of fulfillment, even if I don’t always feel ‘happy.’

I’m not perfect, but I’m doing the right things for the right reasons.

In other words, I’m 30, and I’ve earned it.

 

What I REALLY Want

So I went out the other night in the hopes of getting some action. I was going with a large group, but made sure to invite one particular boy who I have history with. I then proceeded to flirt with him, but not to the extent that it was obvious I wanted to go home with him.

This was probably because I wasn’t sure I did.

I did want to go home with him. Sort of. But I didn’t want to go with him definitely.

So it didn’t happen.

This was also, I believe, due in part to the fact that he’s a little shy. If he had breathed in my ear, “I want to take you home tonight,” I would have said, “Yes,” and meant it. But since he didn’t, with my body and my heart and my head, I said, “I don’t know.”

The last time I hooked up with him, I was sure about what I wanted and I went after it. There was no hesitation, no confusion, no waffling. I pressed myself against him when it got crowded, lingered at the party when he did, and after getting all the right signals, practically followed him home.

And it was great. We connected – in every way. It felt natural and special and right.

This time, though, I was confused. I had clearly invited him out for a reason, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow through with it. I’d made a promise to myself that the next person I slept with would be someone I really wanted to be in a relationship with. This wasn’t really that, but I was also becoming aware of my desire to be with someone, to experience that closeness that only connected physicality brings.

Then, to make matters worse, I got stuck in my head. Did I really want him, or did I just want to be with someone? Would it have been using him to go home with him? What would happen the next day? Would I feel good about it, or would I feel like I’d betrayed my promise to myself? What about him? What would he think? At some point I also realized that in addition to connection, I wanted to feel wanted, and that made me question whether the whole thing was just a play to feed my ego. By the time the night ended, I was exhausted from all the considering. And when I left the concert without him, I felt equal parts disappointment and relief.

I’ve been confused about what I want lately. Or rather, I’ve been telling myself I’ve been confused. In fact, I believe I do know what I want – I was just judging myself for it so quickly that it barely had time to register in my consciousness.

I want sex. I want closeness. I want to feel alive and present and desired by someone distinct from me – someone present, grounded, earthly. I want to be with a man, a being whose skills and energy complement mine rather than match them. I want to be with someone who fully and effortlessly has all the space in the world for me, my emotions, my drama, my fear, my joy, and my sexuality.

I want a solid, grounded man to hold me. Just hold me. I don’t need you to do anything or say anything or commit to anything. I just need you to be with me. Right now, with my scattered, flighty, overwhelmed feminine energy, I want your stable, grounded, masculine energy.

You bring the coloring book, and I’ll bring the color. You bring the concert hall, I’ll bring the trilling, lilting voices. You bring the groundedness and space, and I’ll provide all the creativity and play that could ever be needed. You bring the solidity and the backing, and I’ll give you all the expressiveness and vibrance that I have within me. In other words, if you bring your essence, I will fill it up with all the bright, feminine, out-of-control grace and color tints and shades and nuances that exist.

What I truly desire, deep down, is, partnership – the kind that takes commitment and perseverance and a willingness to play the game of connection for connection’s sake, for the beauty of the tension between duality and unity.

But for now – dare I say in the meantime? – I crave something simpler, and perhaps more rare: exposure to one who will help me ground myself right now, right here, in this moment. I don’t even need to talk to him. I just want to be around him. I want that protective energy to envelop me for a night, for a moment, for a series of moments. For a series of moments that strung together restore something that has been lost for a time, a sense of fullness and wholeness and enough-ness. I get enough. I have enough. I am enough.

I want this. And in finally articulating it, I realized how strongly, harshly, and completely I’ve been judging myself for wanting it. For just a few of the following reasons:

  • I shouldn’t need a man. I should be able to find that groundedness within me. More often than not, the traits we desire in a partner are the un-owned aspects of ourselves. So I shouldn’t need or want a man in this endeavor: I should just be able to develop the aspects I’m missing within myself and not need or involve anyone else. I should be able to do this all myself.

  • I’m being selfish: I yearn for touch and connection without even really considering the other person – other than the intuitive and magical sense that in the moment of connection, perfection is created and he would actually have to be along with me for that ride, or it wouldn’t be what I truly want. Still – isn’t it wrong to want connection without simultaneously wanting to know what the other person wants – or already knowing?

  • I shouldn’t sleep with anyone else until I’m sure I want to be with him. I made a promise to myself and going back on my word would be disgusting and mean that my word means nothing.

  • I shouldn’t want someone outside of me to ‘complete’ me. I should be able to be a full and complete version of myself and be able to fill myself up and make myself happy and not have to rely on any outside sources for any of that.

But even after all of that, I do still want what I want. I can judge myself and squash myself and monkey-mind-prattle myself as much as I am humanly capable (which is quite a bit). I often feel like I police myself and my wants, considering whether they are ‘right’ or ‘appropriate’ or ‘possible.’ If they are not, I attempt to change them, or not feel them, or stuff them down, or eliminate them. Rarely do I sit with the fact that all of that chatter exists, and … I want what I want.

I want what I want because I want what I want because I want what I want.

How do we know when our wants are sacred, and when they are too much? How do we know what too much even is? How do we know when we really are being selfish?

I know I need connection, but how much of it? I need love, but how much and from whom? How much can I sustain my own self? I know how to protect myself, and I do. I know how to ground myself, and I do. And at the same time, I crave more of it. I crave being with a man – and maybe that’s all I am meant to know. What I crave.

So universe, complex, vast, unpredictable, ineffable, and multifaceted as you are, I ask you most humbly to please allow me to connect with another individual. Let me find another human being, another soul, who knows not what I know, feels not what I do, and instead comes from a different place, a place not of longing and desire, but of perfection and assertion, at least for a moment. Let me join, for one fleeting, exquisite moment, with someone whose yang fits essence-fully, undeniably, soul-fittingly fully with my yin.

I submit that it is our deepest, truest, most heartfelt desires that provide the truest compass in our lives. Then we take those desires and judge them. Too much. Too silly. Too selfish. Stupid. Ridiculous. Impossible. Inappropriate.

In fact, we judge our desires so much, so deeply and so automatically that we often shut them down before even realizing we have them.

But perhaps instead of shutting them down, we are meant to open to them. Maybe instead of practicing being good and right and appropriate, we are supposed to practice the opposite.

Perhaps the only thing we should all be practicing is actually feeling our desire, letting it fill us up, expand our beings, become our futures. Perhaps it is even when we feel our desires fully, all the way through, they come, inevitably, to pass.

 

Me

When I feel threatened


I’m vicious. When I feel safe


I am radiant