Tag Archives: Relationships

Till Things Change Enough that We Should Part

Insights from meditation are notorious for being both obvious and profound at the same time.

One of the key insights Buddhism offers is that “everything changes.” Look anywhere, and it’s obvious this is true. Yet every day, we live life as if this is not true, as if there are things we can count on to last forever.

This is one of my (many) beefs about marriage. “Till death do us part” leaves little room for the change and growth two people might go through in their lives. In the examples of long term marriages I’ve seen, too often it appears to be that one or both people make major sacrifices in their happiness and self-fulfillment in order to maintain the relationship. My independent self chafes at the thought.

Yet I’m also unafraid of the kind of commitment to working through hard places that marriage requires. I have been in several long term relationships which required challenging, emotional conversations. I’ve learned to enjoy digging in to these messy places as “the goods” – this is where trust and intimacy and connection are forged.

My initial forays into online dating have been focused on casual connections with people who seem interesting, attractive, and fun to spend an evening with. My profile is playful, focused on meeting new people, detailed about the activities I’d enjoy having a partner for, short on qualities I possess that might be interesting to people seeking a longer term relationship.

My beefs about marriage have had me turning my nose up at the thought of a long term relationship, something even more than the serial monogamy I’ve practiced most of my life. Yet I have other models. Some friends of mine say that their long-term partnership will remain, as long as it’s still better to be together than to be apart.

On my meditation retreat, James Baraz talked about love and lovingkindness. In his book Awakening Joy, he talks about his marriage, and how his commitment with his wife was to use their relationship as a vehicle for growth. In his talk on love, he asked (as I remember it), “What beliefs do you hold about love that might not be true?”

I was able to see instantly a core belief about relationships. My belief that “Marriage = Stagnation of Self” has had me ignoring all the other forms that long term relationships can take. If I stop believing this is true, what forms of relationships might I really want?

I’m not entirely sure of the answer to that question yet, but I think it’s going to require an entire rewrite to my online dating profile!

T-minus 10 Days

I am preparing to go on a meditation retreat. I leave in 10 days. A mini set of goals for the period from now until then.

1. Get butt on cushion.

Even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes. My body can really get overwhelmed by meditation, and I’m signed up for 16 straight days of it. I’d like to at least remember how to focus and settle my mind.

2. Get Italy travel plans in place.

I’m going to Italy this fall with my folks to celebrate their 60th birthdays! We leave in mid-September, which will be less that two months after I get back from retreat. My mom and I want to have all the lodging in place before I leave, because the good places are already starting to get booked up.

3. Get fundraising letter finished

I keep writing and rewriting this one. I have many things I want to say, many of which are not appropriate for a fundraising letter.

I also need to figure out the mailing process, and who/how the approval process will work while I am gone.

4. Schedule some posts from all the writing I’ve been doing

All that writing I’m doing does belong SOMEWHERE, even if not in a fundraising letter. I’d like to write up some of it for posts on my work blog.

I also have some posts to write for Treasure Island. There is writing and more writing to be doing.

5. Have some fun!

Online dating is still (mostly) fun, and I even met some new folks the old fashioned way – hanging out in dance clubs!

I’d like to hang out with several of those folks before I leave, if possible. I worry that if I don’t keep the fires stoked, I’ll lose any steam and folks won’t be interested in hanging out when I get back. Especially folks who have already played the waiting game through my other various trips the past month.

My travel & meditation schedule is putting a serious crimp in my dating life! I may have to curtail travel for the second half of the year (besides Italy of course) so I can actually hang out with people here for a change.

If I could only do one thing well this month, I’m glad it’s online dating

In May, I decided I wanted to be diving deep. I wanted to explore more of what brought me out to the Bay Area, and discard anything that wasn’t fulfilling my needs. And I wanted to play with proxies for things that felt hard.

I did one of these things well, and the rest got brushed aside, forgotten in the rush of online dating energy. I can’t decide if this is fine, or the root problem of one of my patterns.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I forgot about finishing my project of cleaning out my iTunes library.

It feels like a pattern for me. Things get screwed up, I freak out, and my brain just erases any reminders that I should be working on a project.

Or maybe not. I did leave town for a week, which didn’t help matters. I also made progress on other goals (like getting an online dating profile), which is a WAY MORE FUN project than deleting music files.

But this is the pattern, yes? Leaving messes behind so I can go get distracted by pretty shiny things!

I feel lost about how to resolve this.

2. Play with online dating

I am rocking online dating. Who cares that I left a mess of an iTunes library when I can go find cute people to date?

So far, I’ve mostly responded to people who have messaged me first. Luckily, they have not all asked me about Richard Gere.

I do want to spend some time looking for people I’m interested in. Just the practice of identifying what I desire feels important!

3. Do what I love at work

I feel like I lost sight of this since I’ve mostly been grumpy about work this week.

I’m pretty sure my grumpiness is only partly work related, but now that I read this admonishment to “do what I love” at work, I’m not sure that’s what I’m spending most of my time doing.

Instead, I’m sending email responses to people who sent me pretty snarky, and sometimes offensive notes. I’m doing my best to be on point and not feed the trolls. But I wonder if  I need to remember what I really want to be working on?

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I was outside all week while visiting Colorado. It was lovely.

Now that I’m back in the Bay, I am not getting outside nearly enough. I blame it on living all the way up in the attic (two flights of stairs before I can get outside!). I blame it on not having good patio furniture.

But really, I just need to do it. Walk more. Go sit in the sun more. Have breakfast and coffee on the back patio instead of at my desk. Lunch too. Enjoy the warm sun while it’s here.

Diving Deep

New insights on what I’m up to right now!

I’m diving in deeper with the things that brought me to the Bay Area – Buddhism, activism, and hanging out with queer folks. I’m getting more precise about exactly what I do and don’t want to be doing, who I want and don’t want to be hanging out with, how I want and don’t want to be doing it.

(Precision isn’t exactly a new thing in my world. But I’m diving deeper into precision).

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: My post-it note reminder to seek precision while I’m diving in to explore things!

What does this look like specifically with this month’s goals?

1. Practice the energy of destruction

Destruction is an important part of precision. I have to be willing to cut away what’s not right to focus on what is right.

I cancelled some plans with folks – things I thought I would enjoy doing, but am realizing are not precisely what I want. I decided I would rather spend the evening on my own, reading and journaling, then doing something with others that wasn’t precisely right.

My initial project – fixing my iTunes library that is an organized mess – had a major hiccup when I deleted most of my library accidentally. Thank goddess for back up!

Part of getting comfortable with destroyer energy is getting comfortable with that hiccup of, “OMG, I totally just screwed that up.” To stay calm and present and able to look at options for remedying the situation.

I’m glad to say the music is back (Ani DiFranco! Aimee Mann!), but I’m feeling cautious about jumping back in to deleting music. There’s a lot more confusion about multiple folders than I thought. It’s turning into a project that needs thought about, not just one I can do mindlessly.

I do think the next steps are to keep deleting the songs I know are duplicates. That feels like it will keep the energy for this moving.

2. Play with online dating

So, I found a couple of people I’m interested in messaging. But I haven’t finished my profile yet! How will they evaluate me if my profile is incomplete?

In the meantime, I’ve just left tabs open with their profiles. It feels like so many steps to message them!

  1. Finish my profile
  2. Worry over and edit my profile some more
  3. Re-read their profile 429 times
  4. Draft a message to them
  5. Send it to 3 friends, asking “Would you want to meet me if you only read this message?”
  6. Edit my profile some more
  7. Edit the message some more
  8. Get drunk and finally hit send

I have to remember that I will be more interesting than this d00d, who just wrote me, “hi im horny.”

Oy, welcome to online dating.

3. Do what I love at work

I am not sure that happened this week. I put some fun projects near the top of my list, but they got sideswiped by meetings and emails and a push for fundraising.

I did some interest writing on Tuesday. While at the beach, trying not to work. Part of my dilemma is that I want to do more than I’m actually getting paid for.

Part of this is resolved by my decision to dive deep, including into Buddhism & activism. I’ve decided not to count my work hours so closely, to not stress out so much about keeping things to 30 hours per week. To think of my pay as a stipend, and do what work I can and want to during the week. To track my work loosely, so I know how much I’m working and to make sure I’m at least working 30 hours. But to embrace the work as all part of what I love.

I think in that, there will also be precision about what I don’t love, and either ending or changing it.

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I noticed this week that I have the most ease in having a balanced life when I’m busy.  This week, I have been writing blog posts, getting to dance class, reading, getting outside a lot. Meditation has been part of the week too. And it’s felt rather easy instead of strained.

What Do You Know About Desire?

What do you know today, about desire, about the radical amazingness of speaking your truth without apology?

Who have you spoken to? Who still needs to hear your honest voice?

Who, what, where makes you smile? Not when you imagine it, but when you are actually there, sunlight on your arms, skin touching skin, heart melting open with ease?

How have you learned to stay present with desire, feel its fickle, urgent energy pass through your heart, your loins, your brain as it makes its way into the world? What does longing feel like? How does it support your growth? How have you found desire to simply be the universe saying, “Follow me here. I have something to show you”?

When have you followed? When you have held back … has that been desire too? You know how to feel the difference between choosing a higher desire and avoiding desire because of terror. How do you feel the fear and move forward anyway?

What helps you know desire? Your desire, not the definition of desire sold to you in every movie, commercial, billboard, story. What helps you hear the subtle call that says, “Yes, yes. I want this.”

Shhhhh. Can you hear it now? Its heart beating stridently, its voice calling your name? Is it loud enough that you don’t have to be quiet to hear it? Does it have lungs and the deep sweet breath to use them? Can you feel the clarity with which your desire speaks? Lucid, beating, flowing deep.

Shhhhh. Let’s hear her speak.

Bringing Back the Goals

Last month, there were no goals.

That worked well to give me some spaciousness, but it also left me feeling adrift. My suspicion is that I did nothing last month, but I’m pretty sure I actually took two vacations, wrote an article for an anthology, trained a new staff member, dealt with more transition at work, and let life catch up to me.

Overall the month was about remembering how to feel what I wanted, and act on that. It was about dropping other people’s agendas to make space for my own agenda.

This month, I have already set some light goals.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I love to grow new projects and ideas. But when things get overgrown, it’s necessary to prune back. If pruning hasn’t been done for awhile, sometimes there’s a much bigger ripping out that is needed.

I have a hard time with pruning as I go, often waiting until I’m being choked off before I make a move. Then I’m flailing, destroying things in my path in an attempt to survive.

So I’m practicing destroyer energy this month, pruning things that have been neglected. Like my actual back yard. And my iTunes library that got corrupted at some point, and now has 6 copies of each song.

2. Play with online dating

I just set up a profile on OK Cupid. I want to meet some new, interesting people and go on dates as a way to explore new people and places.

I feel overwhelmed already – how do I decide who to message? Who do I respond to? How do I keep it fun and playful, rather than another task?

3. Do what I love at work

There are so many things I feel like I *must* do. What happens if I do the things I love first? And then tell people about those things as fundraising & communications strategies?

What happens if I minimize the administration even more? Anything I don’t love, anything that feels complicated – gets dropped. Invoke more destroyer energy!

4. Play with incorporating other activities

Fundraising for Catalyst, planning the trip to Italy, writing projects. Plus the ongoing meditation, walks, dance, connecting with friends.

For awhile, I liked setting weekly goals. Then I liked having randomized to do lists. Then I liked dropping all pressure and only doing what I wanted to do.

I would like to play with different ways of doing this. How do I keep motivated to do the projects in my life, particularly ones with timelines or parts that feel hard to complete?

It’s Good Not to Achieve the Goal

This month, wanted to get off Facebook.

Facebook is just one of many indicators that I am feeling lonely or overwhelmed or stuck. It’s an easy one to notice, and one that I don’t have a lot of guilt or shame around. While my progress on specific goals below has been spotty, I’ve made a lot of progress on noticing when I’m turning to Facebook and choosing to do something different instead.

As happens with practice, the more I notice my habit with Facebook, the more I start to notice my other, more complicated habits as well.

1. Nurture local friendships

When I checked in mid-month, I was sure I was doing poorly on this one. I’ve been sitting a lot with loneliness the month, so it seemed like a sure thing that I had not spent time with anyone. I was wrong.

Again, I feel like I have not been nurturing local friendships. There’s both a sense of loneliness, and a sense that I’ve spent a lot of time engaging with people who don’t live here.

But. I spent last weekend hanging out with three different sets of people I know locally. I also had dinner with a friend, and connected with several people at various gatherings.

I am coming to realize that the people I feel most at home with are the people I’m connecting with around engaged Buddhism. I am resisting this, since I want some amount of work/life balance and I work all day on engaged Buddhist issues.

I want to find some resolution to this, where I can both connect deeply with folks and feel balanced. So far, it seems like I need to establish that balance moment to moment, rather than switching to a new mode at 5pm.

2. Walk or meditate in the morning before getting online

The rain continued to make walking difficult. I often headed for a shower or breakfast as a way to start my morning without Facebook.

Meditation has not been as solid this month. Instead, I’ve been really focused on ease. I’d like to find a balance next month of easeful meditation. I’m not sure if that means shorter sits, more walking or guided meditation, or perhaps trying out a few sanghas.

Even though it’s been hard, I’ve still been sitting 2-5 times per week for 30 minutes. I continue to celebrate this as a success.

3. Writing 5 minutes every day

Tracking two daily goals (meditation & writing) seemed to make both of them hard. I didn’t work on tracking this at all, though I did some writing 21 of 31 days this month.

I wonder about:

  • Tracking these two together – 30 minutes of meditation + 10 minutes of writing happens at the same time. (Ahhh! It will take too much time!)
  • Focusing on only meditation for awhile, until it feels more solid

I totally forgot that I did some focused writing in response to a call for articles. It actually felt like the kind of writing I would like to be doing. Perhaps setting this goal created more movement than I realize?

Sometimes achieving the goal is less important than setting the intention. Especially when the goal is a baby step like “write for 5 minutes.” This really isn’t my long term intent. I wouldn’t be happy if I spent the rest of my life writing for 5 minutes every day.

What would it mean to set a writing goal I would be excited and energetic about? But would still have the spirit of doable within my current capacity?

4. Practicing restoration when I’m tired

This month has been all about rest and restoration. I feel fantastic that I have ended a busy, busy month at work still feeling excited about my job and not in a space of burnout. This is so important, as I didn’t want to bring a new co-worker in to a culture of burnout and exhaustion.

I want to track my need for rest this next month. Will I still need completely and total restoration in the same way? Can I recognize that need quickly, and get myself what I need? Do my needs change as my social energy at work changes? How does the weather affect my needs for rest?