“Eventually Narcissus became thirsty and went to drink from a stream. As he saw his reflection, he fell in love with it, not knowing that it was him. As he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to “run away” and he was heartbroken. He grew thirstier but he wouldn’t touch the water for fear of damaging his reflection, so he eventually died of thirst and staring at his own reflection.”

- Excerpt from The Narcissus Myth by the Roman poet Ovid.

The values of: Individualism, ambition and personal greatness create people who have the tendency to get lost in their own reflections. Narcissism is endemic to Western cultures. It was true in Ancient Rome, it is true today. Unfortunately most people seem to miss the true power of this tale. Ovid’s warning has become appropriated by Psychological diagnosis; His example is used to condemn the people we already do not like or as clinically diagnose. But this misses the point. This story is not a warning against associating with people like Narcissus. It is a warning against the Narcissus within each of us and an invitation out of the suffering the illusion creates.

Understanding this story helped me realize that my suffering was also born of my attachment to something that wasn’t entirely real. It wasn’t apparent for me because it showed up in shadow: whenever I feared ruin, or worried what was wrong with me, or felt unloveable. I was missing the fact that I was creating this shadow by imagining I needed to be the prettiest girl at the party, special and unique in every way. To tell you the truth I didn’t mind the upswing. When I was on top of the world I wasn’t stuck in a mirror. No way, I laid siege to the city and took no prisoners. The only thing I regretted is that I couldn’t live there all the time. The dark side was lonely but it seemed only time before I could solve this problem, I was amazing after all, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I? Wasn’t I… It took me too long to see that my insecurity was directly linked to the size of my ego. Oh how I suffered in the meantime.

Like that, the world becomes a mirror. And we find ourselves ceaselessly asking the question: What does this say about me? We search for a sign of our worth in other people’s bad moods, a missing invitation to a party, or an uncertain smile. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why does this always happen to me? We ask no one in particular when the plane is late or traffic has slowed.  As long as the image we cast matters more than everything else. Then everywhere we look we will only ever see our own face.


Narcissus by Caravaggio (1594-96)

Barring enlightenment I don’t think we ever get to shake entirely free of this reflex. Although once seen fully self-absorption does lose its appeal pretty quick. Our choice is limited. We can’t be entirely free but we can choose better. We can develop awareness and learn to not plunge headfirst into self-absorption or we can pretend that we are perfect and that our suffering is someone else’s fault. Obviously I have my preferences…

We really can find our way out of the nightmare. We can choose something other than that familiar cycle of self doubt, pain, paralysis and fear of failure. Narcissus was cursed by the gods, but we are free. At any moment we are able to drop our attachment to what we look like. After that we are free, we can take slake our thirst from the deep cool water. Then get up and find something much much more interesting and satisfying to occupy our time and selves with.

Happy Halloween! Have fun and be safe. (If that’s your kind of thing.)



Learning to Learn…

October 20, 2013

According to the founder of NLP Richard Bandler, “We are always in one trance or another.” The way I understand this is our brains are fairly slow at approximately 60 bits per second (the computer I am writing this essay on is 30 GB/s (30 x108 bits/s). Clearly even if this number is changeable we don’t have the bandwidth to process the complexity of our self let alone the universe. Instead most of us operate largely on auto pilot. In other words we move through a world of largely pre-existing data taking in only a tiny bit of the world around us. The size of our grasp shrinks further when our minds are full of chatter, expectation, or judgment. And so it goes that we move through our lives within a world of reaction that is quite independent from any external occurrences. For most of us this is the inevitable state of our lives. Maybe spiritual masters or the otherwise enlightened live differently but for the rest of us moments of true clarity are as fleeting as rainbows. Perhaps precisely as rainbows for it usually takes a storm to refract the light just so that we may finally see.

image borrowed from http://www.cowart.info

The most recent storm in my life has been leaving Oakland, CA my home of 8 years in exchange for warmer pastures in Encinitas, San Diego, CA. It has been mesmerizing to witness my mind trying to apply its familiar shapes to this new place. This isn’t a new country, just the other end of California. And yet old assumptions and patterns suddenly don’t match anymore. The food tastes wrong, the water isn’t right, sometimes the vast canyons and hills make me blind, as though I can’t process them since they are unlike anything I have ever seen before. This place does not look like Topeka or La Paz or Atlanta or Chicago. I have no maps for this beautiful wild terrain which means there are times when it seems I can only see a foot or so in front of me. The backdrop changed I can now suddenly see what I have been seeing through so to speak. Now that the view finder and the world don’t match there are moments of confusion, awkwardness, doubt. I don’t know the answer and I don’t know where to look for the answer.

This is where learning, real learning happens. Right here on this station –  the one where if I were listening to it on the radio I would have switched all that unfamiliar noise off. Yep, that one. I’ll admit sometimes I do turn the damn thing off. When it gets to that point and I want the comfort of the familiar I call a friend or eat a cookie or watch too many episodes of Frasier.  Yet I know too that there is pay off for listening. After all the brain is like a plastic which when stretched and challenged becomes increasingly more fluid. The more we learn the better we become at learning. Not learning in the sense: I will play piece of music hundreds of times until I get it just right, just perfect. Rather learning as a willingness to be completely outside of one’s element. Brain conditioning wants us to not only ditch that tired ‘almost perfect song’ it wants us to pick up an entirely new instrument. The one that you don’t know how to hold or how to use to make a satisfying sound. Sometimes I like to remind myself that the thing that I do with the least ease is exactly the place where there is the most room for me to grow. Sometimes this is failure as a path to perfection. But as my friend Erin likes to point out, there is a strong argument for failure for failures sake too. We aren’t always on the path towards getting it right, nor do we need to be. For me, the newest instrument I am awkwardly playing is living in San Diego. Perhaps for you that instrument is asking someone for a date or seducing your partner or inviting your neighbor over for a drink or a meal. Join me for a moment in the terrain of the unknown. And when you feel the burn of not knowing remember that this is what it feels like to step outside of the circumscribed reality of your mind and truly be all that you are. If only for a moment.




p.s. It is so nice to be back with you again. It feels good and terrible too like stretching again after having let oneself get stiff and creaky in the time in between. It has been too long.







She was pale, extremely thin and beautiful like a flash of light as it echoes off the prism edge of a glass. It was 4:45 in the afternoon and she still smelled of last night’s whiskey. “I am going to hate this.” She groaned. She grimaced as she prepared for her shift and the headliners warmed up their mikes. A bartender dressed in a shade of black that perfectly matched the dark rings under his eyes, nodded and said, “I know exactly what you mean. It’s going to be terrible for days.” He gestured in agreement towards the stage where four energetic men had started warming up for an evening of joyous gospel music. We were working as service staff at a local jazz supper club. It is possible that my co-workers are vampires I thought.

Somewhere in the midst of the performance I heard “Who saved me?” Asked in song. “God!”, “God!” “God!” The other three singers responded in time.  Its not that I don’t understand that the word God has some negative connotations for some. Certainly the word can conjure up religion, judgment, proselytization, and dogma to name a few. It cannot be denied that the power hungry and cowardly have done some nasty things in the name of faith. And…when people sing from a place of faith, celebration and worship I hear something that is larger than a single religion, bigger than a political stance. Whether the word is God or Jah or Ram Das or Sat Nam or Allah or Jehovah on the lips of someone who is experiencing faith it all sounds like joy and gratitude to me. To my mind these were shows of the happiest, most thankful music I have ever heard each night played daily for the next three days. The staff groans and complaints grew with every show. These four men had the answer and they were so happy to share it with everyone within earshot. That weekend I frequently imagined the happiest of the singers holding the bar staff at bay with a large gleaming cross as they hissed their disdain.

The staff preferred darker, more ambiguous  and lonelier music. The gospel singers were too happy, too certain of their answers, too comfortable in their togetherness. Happy music is alienating to people who feel more at home feeling alienated. Alienation rides mainstream as popular music becomes moodier and lonelier. What does it mean if the music at the center of our togetherness is increasingly the music of isolation and despair?

Studies show that darker songs are growing in popularity means that we are not comfortable expressing our innermost feelings outside the ‘safety’ of the group. As long as the song lasts we have permission to feel without fear of getting lost it or what it might ‘say’ about us. The best songs of this genre blend with us so deeply that the singer ceases to be someone separate and neatly his voice becomes our own. Well, almost our own, at any given moment we can detach and the singer will again take all the blame for naming the unnameable. We are allowed to feel our deepest loneliness, even in a concert full of people, with no fear of feeling exposed. Music brings us together with people just like us, bringing us together perfectly even in the experience of aloneness.

We have been turned inside out and our ‘most personal’ private experience is what we expect to dominate the shared collective space? What does it mean if we come together in order to feel alone?

The growing preference for sad music indicates that many people have begun to identify themselves in the terms of what we keep hidden within us. The identity is no longer rooted in a role: wife, brew master, mother…etc. Instead the sense of self is increasingly connected to the shining thick onyx of what we fear we are. The certainty of the external structure is gone. All that is left is the thing we won’t show others for fear that they won‘t like us. With just a quick twist of the wrist we have become what we have chosen to hide. The only way I know out of that burning house is to open the door and stop hiding. But that can feel like dying if you have to do it alone. Instead we choose to stay inside smoke filled rooms listening to songs that tell us the smoke is inevitable and shouting down any mention of joy if it should manage to find its way to us.









My mom, Mary, loved the feel of the world under her toes. She made leather straps that looked like the tops of sandals so that no one noticed how she wore shoes to school. On second thought, considering the ‘F$#@ Nixon!’ armband that she used as an everyday accessory the fact that they didn’t say anything about the shoes might have been for a different reason..

So one day Mary was exploring a stretch of rail road tracks. I imagine she was far from home. It was one of those long heavy Illinois summers. The buzz of insects thick in the late afternoon summer sun. She might have set out alone for a bit of exploration. Her bangs wet and curly even though they had been taped straight to her forehead that morning. Her feet gracefully placed one after another on the hot, polished by wear rail. I can’t imagine a single reason why she wouldn’t have also been singing. I hear “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” but I am certain that was only the beginning of her bright cheery singing.

Continue Reading…

In college I had a Philosophy Professor Dr. Wirth, who used to sometimes say, “You can read one book or you can read them all. What you learn will depend more upon how you search than upon the number of sources.” It was clear that Dr. Wirth preferred the many book approach judging from his happily plump figure draped every class with the same wrinkled Armani Jacket that appeared moments before class began from a plastic grocery bag.

I agreed wholeheartedly with the notion that any TRUTH is necessarily universal as well as the conclusion that I could find it anywhere. I sought experience in addition to books and pushed myself to try it all. All the while somehow missing the point that the universality of truth didn’t mean I had to look for it everywhere. I was like a guest at a cocktail party I sampled only the things that agreed with me – occasionally filling my pockets with something I liked so much to savor later. Continue Reading…

For most people loneliness is a problem of not knowing how to deepen connections. No sooner do we leave the house then there is an opportunity to engage. The couple next door who sits laughing together on their stoop in the morning. The guy you keep running into on your way to work, the woman who sits in the same place every Tuesday at the café, the guy you have enjoyed working with for over 10 years but have never seen outside the office. These people are part of the cast of your life. Yet for most people if there is no external interference the supporting cast will simply stay there on that outer ring. These are missed opportunities of friendliness. Ever day we pass by potential sweet moments, friends, allies, lovers…etc. Just right there they wait but you only look at them from the corner of your eye. If you want to expand your world the best place to start is by reaching out to the people around you.

Alone even when surrounded by others…

Reaching out to the people who you see regularly is better than reaching out to strangers (people you have seen only once). Familiarity creates comfort and a basic level of trust.  And yet so often we ignore the people around us. Sometimes  we notice people we like but it feels like a lot of work and then there is too the potential trouble of closeness gone wrong. Better to avoid it instead, so much simpler. The only reason for someone to stay lonely in a world full of people is because they are not engaging the opportunities around them.

Extending yourself need not be difficult or extreme. Moving forward is simple: a matter of making eye contact, sharing something that you care about, inviting someone over for a drink or dinner. Any of these events are only as significant as you make them. A conversation is only talk, dinner is only a meal. Further promises aren’t made until one of you makes them.

Continue Reading…

Open Heart Sutra

May we live in the open heart

May our suffering end in this moment, just as it is

May the awakened heart be extended to all beings

This is the blessing that I use to end every session. Three simple lines that to me seem to contain all the wisdom of the universe.

I rub my hands together, close my eyes and exhale all the stale air before beginning. May we live in the open heart. I feel the largeness of life open up before me, all the beauty and terror, all the glory and banality. The exhilarating, pulsing, trembling ache of the heart that is willing to fully receive. Yes, yes may we choose the fullness of being alive over certain stagnant of control.

May our suffering end in this moment – Yes please take away our suffering. The feelings of futility and numbness, the pangs of regret, our fierce judgment and condemnation. We suffer in our suffering so. This line is a promise that fulfills itself. May our suffering end in this moment, just as it is. This moment, just as it is. This is the reminder that we have everything we need, now. We don’t have to wait or rely on false promises there is relief from the struggle if only we are willing to let go of our resistance and meet life. If we can meet life with an open heart, if we can allow everything around us to occur as it is and not as we think it ought to be, then we will suffer no more.

May the awakened heart be extended to all beings. I feel my heart radiate in all directions from the center of my chest. May this freedom that we are wishing for ourselves also be offered to all life. This last line is the most important line of the three for it reminds us that we are not in this alone. The is a felt reminder of what it is to extend our heart to all beings, not those like us but all that is. We close reminded that we are a part of something bigger.

I was a teen when I came across this blessing. I was looking through some of my mom’s old books (I don’t remember the title) on consciousness, and buddhism. It spoke directly to me, so I wrote it down. This wasn’t a ‘normal’ thing for me to do, these words caught me although I could have only understood glimmers of its deeper meanings at the time.  It was 9 years before I would re-read old papers and find these lines speaking as clearly to me as ever. The second time around I memorized the blessing and began to use it as a mantra meditation. Since then another 9 years has passed and it has become like a friend. It is a short powerful reminder that helps me find my way back to a willingness to experience all flavors of life. It can also be used to send someone loving thoughts.

Variations include but are certainly not limited to:

May I live in the open heart

May my suffering end in this moment just as it is

May the awakened heart be extended to all beings

May you live in the open heart

May your suffering end in this moment just as it is

May the awakened heart be extended to all beings




The Ideal Partner Myth

April 10, 2013 — 1 Comment

In response to last week’s post: ‘Dynamics of Relating’ Patrick M wrote: ”My Ideal partner is one who supports my strengths and compensates for my weaknesses.” And although there isn’t a question attached to this comment it is a such a great example of something so many of us do when we are wanting to find our mate that I wanted to explore this here.

Dear Patrick,

I am sure many readers can relate to that deep desire to have someone who fits us. I get it. What could be better than having someone who supports you where you are strong and then helps you be stronger? Just reading those words I find myself imagining your heart longing for the heart that beats to the same rhythm. The want is profound and good. And I believe that to find your special someone you will need a different approach. At the root of the problem is the assumption that relationship can best occur if you stay exactly as you are and find someone who will fit around you. Certainly I do not mean to suggest that you ought to pretend, be yourself but remember that who you is fluid, not fixed. That said to my mind the best thing about relationship is that we change one another. A new partner does not sneak quietly into our lives through the back door but thunders loudly through the house.If you were to find the partner you see your life would absolutely change as they would bring their hopes, dreams, needs and desires to the union as well.

There is a helplessness in waiting for your ideal partner to somehow find you and then fit easily in the small shape you have assigned without so much a squeak. This paralyzed pose will leave you only two options: be alone or to finally decide that your soul mate won’t come and then to just settle. Personally I hate both of these options. In the first instance I think if you are alone and wanting a partnership that there are at least 2 people who are lonelier and more miserable because of it. It is my belief that if we are living in such a way that we are denying ourselves the things we deeply want that it negatively impacts everyone as suffering seems to beget suffering. And in the case where you just end up with someone because you tire of being alone – well let’s just say I want a great deal more for both of you.

What I mean to say is if this is the invitation you are sending out to the universe it reads over here as: Dear someone, Please come and fit perfectly into my life. I would guess it is not your intention and you ought to know that over here this description of partnership sounds like that between a coat and its wearer not that of two people passionately coming together to create a life together. I hope I am being clear, not harsh. It is the most natural thing and common thing in the world for someone who is looking for a partner to think about how that will fit you. So many fall into this kind of impatient paralysis, uncertain about how to get the closeness they crave.  And this exactly why I recommend looking at relationships or at least elements of relationships that are appealing to you.

The natural consequences of looking at an existing dynamic are: It disrupts the fantasies and helps you begin to see relating more fully in all its dimensions (4-d relating anyone?), you begin to want what is possible and to see what you might need to learn to have the relationship you want.

For example in the case of M & D who exhibited adoration and chivalry in such an inspiring way. Not only did M&D show me what was possible but they also showed me how I could invite that dynamic into my life. Perhaps I was surrounded by people who wanted to adore me. I would never know since at the time I was not comfortable being adored. I took care of myself and left no space for others to take care of me. By watching the dynamic I learned what would work to bring more of that flavor into my life. Watching M I began to learn how to receive, ask and enjoy what was given in turn.

When I changed how I engaged with the world, the world changed the way it met me. If I had stayed the same I would have gotten more of the same. The absence of what I craved lay in me, not in a deficiency with the people around me. So if you are enjoying the dynamics you find yourself in than you are set, if not? Look for examples of people engaging with one another that excite or interest you. Then give yourself over to learning what it takes to dance those steps that you liked the best.







After listening to me recount a particularly astounding social blunder I had made my husband Chad said to me, “Danger, in order to have manners someone you have to be taught them.” This was too true for me to hear it as a snarky comment. While my parents taught me many things however neither formality nor social grace are counted among them. I had never considered these things important, until now. Soon I was loading “Etiquette” by Emily Post on my kindle. Thus began my education in formality and fine society. If the world only learned the following four tips the world would be a much nicer place.

The highest priority of etiquette is treating people well and making people comfortable.  She writes of dignity and social grace being independent of bloodline or income. She has always insisted that good manners are less about using the right fork to use and more about being considerate to other people’s feelings.

Most of the book is like running my fingers through the brocaded garments of the Guilded Age and is quite irrelevant to my life today. There is a whole chapter on how, when and to whom to appropriately tip your hat (Everyone, all the time unless its busy and then touching the brim will do). Then there was the chapter detailing the proper use of calling cards. Nonetheless as I look around through the lens of Mrs. Post’s eye I see many places that my life and my world would be better off with more decorum and structure.


Structure can serve to create definition which supports comfort and gives us more room to play. To that end the following tips intend to guide and support as opposed to equip anyone with tools to judge or shame oneself or others.


Say the name of the person to whom the introductions are being made first.

It looks like this: “Bill – Tom is the new graphic artist. Bill is my father in law.”

If you live in a world of hierarchy then you just make sure the introductions are directed to the highest ranking person. “CEO- Accountant”

I love the simplicity of this approach. All of a sudden it became easy! How nice. In the past I wondered how to best make introductions. My anxious brain would buzz: Am I responsible for generating further conversation? How much do I have to tell about how I knew these people? Do I have to repeat names or say ‘may I present’ or ‘may I introduce’ or ‘please meet’ or…? No wonder I would avoid the situation when possible.

Emily Post says it couldn’t be simpler. Just say the names once if there is an easy reference point use it. Nothing could be simpler. And why do you do this? You do this because for two reasons: It acknowledges the importance other people have in your life. Secondly well done introductions help relieve everyone of social anxiety because it is uncomfortable for most people to be amongst strangers.

Including A New Person

Another challenging situation for me has long been welcoming someone to a pre-existing conversation. For example, if I am in conversation with my friend and someone else approached us in the middle of our conversation I used get scrambled and anxious. I didn’t know how to include the new person and still continue with the conversation at hand.

There are circles where the solution is to ignore the new person until they interject themselves in the conversation or on the other extreme there are instances where the conversation dies completely when a new person enters the circle and then the group stands around stammering for a moment wondering what to talk about next. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple easy way to make people feel welcome without sacrificing what may have been a good conversation?

Well, I am so glad you asked…

If you know the person and are able to facilitate the introduction:

“Sara – Penny. Sara and I were just talking about narco trafficking in Latin America.”

That’s it. Penny has now been acknowledged and invited to join the conversation. And then you go back to talking about the complexities of drug war or whatever else.

If you don’t know the person’s name (this is a modern problem) then skip introductions which would interrupt the conversation and put all the attention on the new person which is both an inconvenience and uncomfortable. Instead say:

“Hello. We are talking about narco trafficking in Latin America – I am of the opinion that…”

Receiving a compliment.

Say “Thank you.”

There is no need to return it or deflect it or say something like “yes, I like it too” or even worse “I know.” Not knowing any better I have done all of those in the past. But compliments are a challenge to receive when you feel like there is something you ‘should do’ but you don’t know what it is. There is freedom in recognizing that grace is simply to accept the gift.

(I learned this years before reading Etiquette, nonetheless it is such a simple easy tip I wanted to included it.)

Ending A Conversation

Until we can easily tell people no we aren’t willing to reach out past a certain comfortable point. In the absence of clear boundaries we can find ourselves a captive audience to someone else’s droning. We err on the side of being vague to avoid being rude. So when we hope the conversation will end we say things like, “Jeez, I have a lot of work to do.” Or “I really do feel tired.” If the person is sensitive to the needs of others they will get the hint, if they are not then we soon start to feel harassed and put upon. All the while we miss the point that we are not fully engaging to get the result we want. The alternative?

When you get to a point in conversation when you are ready to move on, simply say:

“Thank you for the visit, it was lovely to chat with you. Unfortunately now I must go.”

If the person has talked non stop for a long time and have to interrupt them to end the conversation. Then say:

“I am so sorry to interrupt you but I am realizing I don’t have time to get into this now. Thank you for the visit. I am going to get back to my work now.”

Stay open, give the person a chance to say goodbye. This will become easier as you start to realize that you can end the conversation when you want. If at first the other person doesn’t acknowledge what you said then simply repeat your wish to end contact and then without smoothly without hurry do so right then. You have been graceful and polite after that the issue really lies with the other person.

Just because you are polite and clear does not mean that other people will be polite, clear or even especially sane. Not your problem, as they say this is out of your jurisdiction. Good etiquette is not about controlling other people’s behavior, it is about finding easy ways to give voice to your needs and desires in a way that hopes to put others at ease. May we all continue to find ways to strike the delicate balance between taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other.


Apologies for the longer post – I just get so excited about etiquette! This is not the last time I will write about this. I see a fertile place for the structure of the Victorian world to meet and improve the realm of modern intimacy. Would love to hear how this lands for you… Are these tips helpful/relevant? Do you buckle at the idea of social rules?










Dynamics of Relating

April 2, 2013 — 2 Comments

“The hearts of couples beat together*”( The details of UC Davis study are here) We relax in the embrace of our beloved and the felt reminder of a shared rhythm. But how do we get to this point of being so fully in sync with another? We are strangers before we sync our beat. Our heart longs for deep contact but until we feel safe to open we struggle with knowing when it is okay to open.


So we sit across the table trying to make conversation. The other person does not know our cadence. No one laughs at the right time.  We are looking for that just right ‘feeling’. However beyond that many have no clue as to what they are actually looking for. There is a certain point to the people who advise getting rid of the check lists and other requirements. The feeling we are seeking will not come from trying to control the outcome.

Check list, or compromises that don’t meet your needs or gifts that have strings, etc are all forms of trying to control. These approaches are things we hide behind so they are always obstacles to closeness. At some point you must stop strategizing and get in the game. This choice is always before you know for sure if it is going to be a fit. But how do you choose which game or who to play with It is helpful to know what game you want to play?

Before I married I looked for relationship dynamics that might work for me. Here are couple examples:

1) M & D: These two were such a moving example of adoration. He was so sweet and protective of her. I watched this couple and imagined what his chivalry was like for them both.

2) S & T: These two embodied freedom and independence. She said to me I love it when he is away and it is so much better when he is here. They had trust, freedom and closeness. I learned that with the right partner marriage doesn’t have to mean giving up space or autonomy and saw the subtleties that made that work between them.

I had never imagined myself in other people’s relationships. By choosing the parts I liked I quickly created a template for how I wanted it to feel. Instead of putting  my attention on physical or social cues I started to put my attention on the dynamic itself. Too often we fantasize about the perfect person without any thought of how we will engage.

If I had my way we would all throw out the very notion of the ideal person. Lets face it, we are not an ideal person and neither is anyone else. The very hunt for the perfect person is so intrinsically connected to the restless ever agitated mind that it is a very good thing indeed that most people do not find their ideal mate, surely it would spell a short-lived love. This approach to relating objectifies the searcher and searched for alike, our minds spin but we are left paralyzed by ideas that do not have any basis. We do have choice and the ability to act here if we direct our attention to the dynamic.

I realized I could choose a partner based on how I wanted to play. I wanted a man who was emotionally available enough for deep connection and adoration while also enjoying his own alone time. Not only did I not have to carry a check list with me on dates but when I did make my choice I picked someone who surprised me by how different from my norm he was. Different or not by the time I made my choice I was certain. The guess-work was gone. In fact, all the work was gone because we had created a relationship which contained more understanding, honesty and freedom then I ever knew existed.

I can hear the lonely hearts murmur: Does everyone get someone or is it only the lucky few?

Everyone will be in a relationship who is willing to deal with the realities of being in relationship. We aren’t born knowing how to gracefully navigate intimacy, if no one taught us than we have to find ways to teach ourselves. Learning anything new is a challenge and intimacy is no exception to that. Building a relationship is humbling work. When do you know the work is worth it? Perhaps finding the answer to that is the hardest part of relationship and the most important answer to know as you navigate dating. What do you need to stay connected even when things get messy? The answer changes depending on the situation. Learning how to ask for that thing you need is the ever shifting ground of every successful relationship.





*April 2013 Harpers Magazine, ‘Findings’. Find a more complete description of the UC Davis Study here