And with that, she dared the bravest thing she’d ever done

“She was outside his hovel before dawn. Inside, she could hear him already awake. She knocked. He appeared, stood in the doorway. Behind him she could see a tiny candle, open books. He waited. She looked at him. Then she looked away.

He was too beautiful.

“I love you,” Buttercup said. “I know this must come as something of a surprise, since all I’ve ever done is scorn you and degrad you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn’t matter.” Buttercup still could not look at him. The sun was rising behind her now; she could feel the heat on her back, and it gave her courage. “I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love you so much more now than when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring back a bottle for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. I know I cannot compete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please, that she is old and has other interests, while I am seventeen and for me there is only you. Dearest Westley-I’ve never called you that before, have I?- Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, – darling Westley, adored Westly, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.”

And with that, she dared the bravest thing she’d ever done:
She looked right into his eyes.

He closed the door in her face.”

- from The Princess Bride, by William Goldman, Pgs 51-52

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10 Things That Make Me Feel Loved by You

There are many things that make me feel loved by you.

1. When you take me out and have fun with me from dinner to laughs to strolling under the stars to worldwide adventures. And that way you look at me like you’ve been waiting for me all your life, and you delight in this moment.

2. When you hold me close, closer still, and rub my back or feet. Then, when you kiss me anywhere, anytime and often. Spontaneously, when it moves you. And, forehead kisses. Never enough forehead kisses.

3. When you’re present, listening, feeling my stories, laughing along or catching any falling tears.

4. When you buy me things I love – from little things to big things – and surprise me with them when I mentioned them a while ago, sometimes years, and you still remembered that I’ve always wanted it because you always pay attention.

5. When you make me things like good cookies, fresh pressed juice and beautiful soup.

6. When you give me space, and when we come together. And, when you’re quiet with me in space. When we read together in the park or the couch or hammock and not say a word for hours. But you’re there and I’m here, and it’s sweet and silent knowing, and you smile and rub your feet against mine, and you know and I know that we both just wanna be right here, right now.

7. When you tell me stories – and tell me what you want to do with me, and don’t hold back one bit the feelings and the random thoughts and daydreams and fantasies and breathless I love yous. Tell me I’ve been on your mind all day and there’s no place you’d rather be and that the world feels better with me in it.

8. When you let me sleep, and when you nap with me after a long bike ride on one of your favorite flats.

9. When you ravish me with wild abandon and don’t hold back.

10. When you choose me, everyday, and are true to your good heart. It’s here in this centering space that we create something more than us.

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Hello My New Heart

That night, as she walked back to the office to get her bike and her messenger bag, her body was shaking. Rewiring all that old patterning with a new experience. It was an electric and wild feeling in her skin. There seemed to be so much wrapped up into that perfect moment of closure that untying all those cords was a sweet release at the cellular level.

It felt like the point in the story where the story wasn’t over yet.

She wasn’t the only one in the office later that evening. The new guy, the one she had a crush on since the snowy spring day he delivered his signed offer letter to her desk. In that overcast moment she sat there, in the seat of HR, wondering why she had that rule about not dating coworkers. Not only did his signature look like Van Gogh’s, but later of course, she realized they were also neighbors.

Of course.

“Waiting over here, for life to begin,
I was looking for the new thing,
And you were the sunshine heading my front-line,
I was alone, you were just around the corner from me”
- Pete Yorn, Life On A Chain

So that night, there she was, a bit of a live-wire buzzing mess of blathering stories, rehashings, distraction, attraction and disbelief. And there he was, trying to listen and saying something about meaning and how he’s never in the office late with a look in his eye that made her nervous. And made her wish they weren’t coworkers.

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The List: Traits for A Lifelong Mate

I’ve often been berated for my list. The list I fashioned after long solitudes and asking my heart what it wants in a potential mate. The list that come from a place of wishes and feelings and desires for someone who will meet me fully in lifelong partnership.

It’s a wish list. A heart and soul desire list.

When I mention it to folks in passing, they stop and ask about it, curious to hear what made the list, and then place on me their perspective of what’s possible – or not. “Good luck with that,” they say with a laugh. My list isn’t short, nor is it obnoxious. While it rests in a series of renditions over the course of various journals from the past few years, and it may remain there for posterity unshared, I heard of a list that had deeply similar resonance. A friend recently told me about Clarissa Pinkola-Estes’ ‘Traits for Finding a Lifelong Mate,’ from her book Women Who Run with the Wolves. And I love it, every bit:

1. Choose someone as though you were blind. Close your eyes and see what you can FEEL; their kindness, loyalty, insight, devotion, their ability to be concerned with you, their ability to care for themselves as an independent being.

2. Choose a person who has the ability to learn, explore new ways of doing things and perceiving things, who is curious, and who is EVOLVING.

3. Choose someone who is willing to be like you….strong like a tree, but flexible in the wind. Someone who is sensitive and who has the ability to see what is around them……who is AWAKE and

4. Chooses someone who when you hurt them, they are willing to show it; and when they hurt you, they see it and are sorry. COMMUNICATE it within 24 hours. Choose someone who can perceive your pain and feel for you about it.

5. Choose someone who has an INNER LIFE that they love, who is on their own journey – and who wants a partner on their own journey.

6. Choose someone who has similar passions as your own. A relationship is for making similar memories together, doing things TOGETHER – this is the GLUE of the relationship during hard times. It can be very simple.

7. Choose someone who has similar VALUES about children, money, marriage, family. This decreases the friction in relationship. These need to be worked out before there is a long-term commitment. When the pragmatics in the relationship are mostly taken care of, it is much more easy to SOAR.

8. Choose someone who is COMPASSIONATE, willing and able to listen, who gives equal time.

9. Choose someone who can LAUGH at themselves, or who can stop an argument in mid-sentence.

10. Be able to overlook certain faults and characteristics. KNOW WHAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH. Anything that takes a person away from their soul life, or not telling the truth, or a person who cannot face you after making a mistake and who tries to cover it over in a dramatic, large way instead….this would be starting a relationship on a swamp ground.

11. Be FRIENDS, not just lovers. Are you willing to do for your partner what you would do for your good friend?

12. Important* When you choose, choose someone who makes your life bigger rather than smaller.”

*I would also add: Someone knows your favorite kind of cookies and will make them for you, no matter how crazy the recipe.

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Hello My Old Heart

“If a man knew what a woman never forgets, he would love her differently.”- Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

When her company was up for a green building award, she had a hunch she’d probably know some people there. It was a fleeting thought, however, tossed in the waves of paperwork and the metric ton of things to do before the afternoon of the award presentation.

That afternoon after getting her name badge and moving in towards the dimly lit theater, she saw someone out the corner of her eye. “That looks like my Ex,” she thought and focused on the name pinned to his lapel and realized that it was indeed the very man she had been on her mind all day yesterday. Instantly, she started shaking. Oh the irony.

Just the day before, as she gazed wistfully out the front office window in the late afternoon, watching the passerbys as if they would help her thoughts come to a solution for the email she had been working on, she noted how much a guy on the corner looked like him. Her thoughts turned to him, and the 5 years they’d been divorced, and how if she saw him now on the corner (or ever, on any day), she had the impulse to run outside and give him a hug. The suddenness and the trueness of that impulse came from a place deep within, and hung on to the raw tenderness she’s had in her heart after what feels like a long spell of not much to write home about. This feeling mixed with so many other feelings about other layers of life that had her wishing for big positive shift on the near horizon.

Later that evening, when recounting the flow of her afternoon daydreams and feelings to a dear friend, tears came like sudden rain. “I thought I was over this,” she said between streams. “There’s apparently more flowing through,” her friend offered. “Be patient with it.”

She learned that her company was up for the same award as his. Of course it was. There was clearly another reason she was at this event. She laughed and found her seat. He was sitting across the aisle from her, a few rows back. She texted him: “Loser buys the winner a beer after this?”

“Deal.” he texted back as soon as the award was announced. She glanced over at him and met his signature grin with a smile.

Afterwards, he came over next to her, and she welcomed that familiar hug. There was solace in that comfortable knowing. They decided to go to The Kitchen for a drink.

There were two open spots at the bar, waiting for them. The bartender put down her favorite and took his order.

“This is so surreal,” he said.

“You’re telling me,” she said. “I’ve been shaking since I saw you. Let me tell you about yesterday…” And she told him where her heart was yesterday, how the tears came, and by then his drink was on the counter.

“Cheers,” he raised his glass.

“To full circles,” she smiled at him.

And from there they shared stories spanning their most recent minutes, days, weeks, all the way back through the past five years. He told her how he finally decided to move to Denver after being in Boulder for 10 years. And how the dog was as healthy as ever and would probably live ’till 16 yrs. And how the building that was up for the award was the one he was working on in 2008 when they were getting divorced, and how well he was doing at work these days.

“That makes me happy,” she said. “If anyone deserves it – it’s you.” And from there all of the gratitude and appreciation she held for him poured out: “I’m so grateful for what we had and how we grew each other. I don’t know if I’d be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for you. I think of you every day. I still have your Xacto & art supplies in the studio. My iPod is still one of my favorite things. Every time I look at Ginger in the morning, with her paw in my face, I think of you. Or at work, when I listen to the guys banter. Whenever I’m in Photoshop. Whenever I pass a Haertling building…” He listened as she spoke, and she hoped what she offered was healing and solace for him, too.

She continued: “I have barely dated in the past 5 years. If you can even call it that. I meet nothing here but flaky seeker-dudes who don’t have their shit together. It’s appalling.”

“Are you telling me that I’m not as much as an asshole as you thought,” he asked.

“You’re a catch,” she said, looking him directly in the eye.

They laughed and talked more before he had to get back to an appointment. The one thing she could always count on was his non-memory.  Some things never change. Through all the story-sharing and laughter and magic surrealism, she wondered if perhaps he remembered, or was thinking the same thing, or wondering about that time he said, “… I know now isn’t the time for us. But I feel like maybe in 4-5 years we’d come back together…” when he was sitting across from her in that brocade booth on the day after their anniversary when he came to the table with his decision to split. That moment had surfaced in her mind and had recently been haunting her. And at the moment, it was the big vulnerable question that was left unsaid: ‘Remember when you said …?’

The evening was a full-circle finish. “The end of an era,” he reflected, and laughed. For her it was the most beautiful closure her soul was longing for.

* * *

When she arrived home that night, she strode up the neighborhood to release the emotional energy coursing through her recalibrating body. The light was on in her studio mate’s house and she stopped in to say hey. On the floor were two small canvases of bear faces, sweet totemic caricatures by a favorite local artist. “Oh, I’m so glad you stopped by. Look what Sally is cleaned out of her studio…!” her studio-mate shared with excitement, for it was known how much these bears were adored. The first time she encountered the bear series was at her wedding party where they hung in the reception space. It was love at first sight.

“Oh my god…,” she said as she held her heart and the bears in her paws. “You have no idea what perfect timing this is… I have to tell you about where I just came from…”

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There she was leaning back in the chair with a tool in her mouth, trying not to bite down on it as she mumbled responses to the Dental Hygenist at work on the buildup since the last visit 6 months ago.

“Do you still like your job?” the hygenist asked.

“Nope,” she responded back.

“Are you doing much art these days?” the hygenist asked.

She closed her eyes, shook her head ‘no,’ and felt the sadness rise. She knew what question was next. It was the one she braced herself for since yesterday when she winced at the thought that she’d been sharing this same short synopsis of her life for the past 5 years.

“How’s your love life?” the hygenist asked.

She closed her wet eyes as tears streamed down her cheeks. That was her answer. She wished there was something in this office to numb the pain of the emptiness in her heart.

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The Great Alaskan Quandary

At the bar, she was talking about The Great Alaskan Conundrum: ”… I’m generalizing, but there’s something about the men in Alaska. They love the wilderness. Everything about it. And, when they do meet the rare smart, beautiful and accomplished traipsing through their neck of the woods, they don’t know what to do. The dating scene is meager pickins up there, so they know the catch of a lifetime. Yet, they are torn, because the wild has such a hold on them. They can’t let go.”

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The kiss we want

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face into mine.
Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.

The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.
- Rumi

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“Eroticism challenges us to seek a different kind of resolution, to surrender to the unknown and ungraspable, and to breach the confines of the rational world.” – Esther Perel, Mating in Captivity

I’ve spent the weekend with Ester Perel’s Mating in Captivity (Harper, 2006), and I regret Monday is around the corner as I keep coming back for more. There’s a part of me that wishes I had this book in my hot paws back when it came out. Yet, trusting the perfect timing of life, I wonder if I would  have been ready for it then. Now, after fast and furious page turning, her insights are resting on memories and reflections of my past experience, bathing it in a whole new light. And, I’m finding much resolution. I highly recommend this book for everyone. Buy a copy for your partner, your parents, your children.

“Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire is a mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. Love is about having; desire is about wanting. An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness. It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go. But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire. They forget that fire needs air.” – p. 37

“Octavio Paz writes, “The moment of merging is a crack in time, a balm against the wounds inflicted by  the minutes and hours of time. A moment totally eternal as it is ephemeral.” It is a leap into a world beyond.” – p 75

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Vital Choices

From Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity:

“Even more important, he was choosing her again, and it’s the act of choosing, the freedom involved in choosing, that keeps a relationship alive.”

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