Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 32

Asking for Enough

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

I did not blog for a couple of days. No time to write—I’ve been busy having in-body experiences and dancing with Kali!

In the past few weeks I have explored how I block myself from pleasure, which is to say, how I hold myself back from life.

Much of my Lenten journey has been solo. I have needed to dance alone. However, along the way I continued to interact with others. And I have learned as much with others as I have from my inward explorations. Actually it’s worked out to a nice balance between the two. I am blessed to have so many dear friends in my life—good, solid people who walk honestly and courageously through life. They are my traveling companions.

Part of my challenge during Lent has been to use self-pleasuring as a window into my life. To follow desires and energy freely wherever they lead, without censorship of erotic or shadow elements. I wanted to push my limits of comfort, challenge my fears, and experiment with ecstatic pleasure. I wanted to map as much of the internal territory as possible—both the light places and the shadows. And I wanted to explore being alone with myself.

Most of this has been a productive and enlightening solo journey. But as my Lenten journey has progressed, I have encountered blocks and stuck places that have not yielded to exploration. My solo window was limited. I needed outside help.

So today, I met with a friend/mentor to explore some of these questions on a deeper level. I knew I could count on his honesty, but some of what we explored was downright uncomfortable. Actually scarey. Partly because some of the questions were about intimacy and erotic pleasure. Partly because I didn’t even know how to verbalize coherent questions. Or even where to begin. So we focused more on the experiences in my body and less on my intellect. Unlike the intellect, the body never lies. We were in territory out beyond words. Intimate territory. More naked than naked…

One main theme was about my fears of asking for what I want. That was an issue for me even in asking to schedule time together. And then when we were deep into our explorations, I was afraid I was asking too much. And I kept running head-on into shame. Over and over again—layer after layer. Do I really have a right to ask for time, care, support, love, intimacy from this person? Is it wrong to want to be held, hugged, cuddled, caressed? What if two hours is not enough? How much is enough? What if I want more than hugging? Erotic touch? Orgasms? Where is the line between what’s okay and what is not?

There is only one way to find out. Leave my comfort zone. Over and over. Ask. Risk. Again and again. Let go of shame and defenses. Shed my clothes and get naked. Dance naked. Love naked. Open my heart and get more naked.

So I did.

Being naked before God, in the presence of others, brings healing. And joy. And it is enough.

Posted in Body & Energy Work, Men, Naturism / Nudism, Relationships, Renewal, Sexuality, Shadow Work, Shame, Spirituality, Tantra | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 898 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 31

Quiet Time

Yesterday I worked half a day which meant that I missed the Tampa Pride parade. I would have liked to participate, but could not afford to miss the opportunity to work.

I did go to Ybor City after work and met my good buddy. By the time I got there, all of the Tampa Pride events were over, but we walked around a little. I’m not big on bars or drinking so there was not much of interest to me, other than people-watching. Lots of cute young people in wild outfits. But that just triggered feelings of loneliness.

Went to bed early last night. Didn’t feel like reading serious material or thinking too much. Couldn’t get inspired to write my blog. Instead watched some movies. Mostly slept through the second one.

For the last few years, I have put a lot of energy into showing up. Just showing up no matter what. Even when I didn’t want to.

Now I seem to need lots of time to chill. It does feel like I am shifting toward slowing down and quiet and contemplation. I am being more mindful these days. Paying attention to my thoughts and behavior. Trying to listen to my body, which is asking for lots of quiet time. Preparing for whatever is next. Trying to open myself to follow where I am led. To surrender.

It’s time to get ready for church.

Posted in Renewal, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 908 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 30

Back to Basics

Today was a good day. Just doing the basics. Taking action. Enjoying the simple pleasures. Nothing profound. Nothing ecstatic. Not feeling lonely. Just a good, solid day!

I worked half a day, did laundry, washed dishes, worked on some projects, talked to a couple of friends on the phone, and went to a play my 14 year old grandson starred in at his school. At the play, I got to visit with all three grandchildren, my daughter, son-in-law, his parents, and my ex-wife. And all very pleasant. And my grandson was the STAR of the show!

And now I’m going to bed a little early so I can read.

What more could I want out of life?

Posted in Relationships, Renewal, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 907 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 29

Life—Not for the Faint of Heart

I have not posted any articles for several days because I gave myself a few days off.

Recently this blog has been about my journey for Lent. Some of it has been on the mystical side.

Our Lenten service last week began with a reading from Rumi:
I want that kind of grace from God
that when it hits I won’t get off the floor for days.
And when I finally do stagger into a semblance of poise
I will still need a cane and shoulder to help me walk,
And I will need great patience
from any who try to decipher my slurred speech.

Mystical experiences are transformational. You may or may not experience ecstasy. But you will be changed. And words may fail to explain any of it.

I keep finding myself at a loss for words. I have had a hard time writing. So tonight I am again writing metaphorically because it seems to fit my mystical state of mind. And it seems easier.

I forget Kali for long periods of time. And I slide right into my usual ruts. My timid complacency. Depression. Whatever. Waiting for my fantasies to magically come true.

But Kali is relentless. Kali is Life. She beckons me to dance with her. She comes again and again. She is a shape-shifter. Sometimes the lover, sometimes the fierce man-eating beast, always more powerful than mortals, always confronting me when I least expect her. She is the supreme stalker. And I am her reluctant prey. There is no escape.

Each time she approaches, I have a different excuse. I think to myself that I have no energy for her dance. That I would disappoint her because I can’t dance well. But I’m afraid to tell her. I cannot face her honestly. I hold back from her. I’m ashamed so I try to hide.

I hid to catch my breath. I needed rest. I stopped writing for a few days. I cut back on some activities.

But sometimes while I’m resting in the dark, I hear her breathing.

There is no safe haven. No escape. Even my hiding is the dance.

We dance on….

Posted in Breath, Depression, Poetry, Renewal, Shadow Work, Shame, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 902 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 28

What We Do Before We Go

I want to share something of my recent journey with you tonight, but I have no clue where or how to begin.

So I will begin here. I am sitting with myself. Listening. Breathing in to a deep stillness. Listening to beautiful meditative music. Not knowing what to write. Knowing something must be said.

I know that I want to tell you that my experiences at church have been beautiful and profoundly moving. We have been coming together for these Wednesdays of Lent. We who are so broken and alone. We who so need healing. Every one of us. So vulnerable.

We dare to gather in the light streaming down from the stained glass window over the altar. In this healing light we dare to pray and sing. To be seen and heard. To be witnessed. To open our tender hearts. In holy communion.

And in the end, we reach out to each other. We exchange our blessings and hugs. Wipe our tears. And go out into the night.

Posted in Renewal, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 910 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 27

Beyond Comfort Zones

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

I like it so much when things fit my agenda. You know, like when I say I’m going to write every day for 40 days, and find the inspiration and clarity of mind to do it.

But what happens when I can’t order up a nicely packaged blog post? Like yesterday. I just couldn’t make myself write. So I felt uncomfortable. Guilty and ashamed. Like I failed.

When I do what I think I’m supposed to do, I’m in my comfort zone. I feel good. Or at least comfortable.

But am I really supposed to feel comfortable during my 40 days in the desert? Isn’t the point of a Lenten journey to move me outside of my comfort zone? So if everything goes according to plan and I meet my agendas, how is that moving beyond my comfort zone? How is that moving me into new territory? How will I make a new beginning when I am still so attached to the way I think things should be? Or the way they used to be?

Long before I started writing blogs, there was a time when I couldn’t write poetry. I’d get so tangled up in the rules and my perfectionism. It was agony. Definitely not fun. By the time I had finished with it, I had beaten all the juice right out of it.

And then I started listening to poet Robert Bly and other writers, artists, and musicians talk about the source of their creativity. I listened to them talk about their frustrations and failings as they struggled to find their way out of their comfort zones into that unpredictable creative space. A vulnerable space. Where magic happens.

Tonight, I tried to follow my heart as I wrote. It felt like a poem was bubbling up inside me. Here it is:

A Few Days After Our Thirty-eighth Wedding Anniversary

To touch you,
to fall in love with you,
I had to let go of my past and my comfort
and let your love wash over me.

I’d go through it all again,
this letting go of everything
until nothing remains but the joy
of being present to one another moment by moment.

But sweetest one,
now that we are such good lovers,
kiss me the same way you kissed me yesterday.
It was so tender and I liked it so!

And now make love with me,
exactly as we did three nights ago
because it transcended all words
and brought us closer to God!

I barely know you anymore.
If we could remember the things we did,
surely we could recapture those moments
when our souls touched…

Posted in Poetry, Relationships, Renewal, Sexuality, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 891 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 26

An Elder Speaks

I just got back from hearing Matthew Fox speak in Sarasota. His topic was “Being a Mystic in Today’s World.”

It turns out that, according to Fox, the mystic is a lover. A lover of creation. A lover who finds the divine in everything.

His talk was stimulating, inspiring, and encouraging. And passionate.

I attended with two friends. After we heard Fox, we went on to talk and laugh over a late dinner. What more could be expected of three mystics!

I’d like to say more, but it’s late and I need to get to sleep.

I am grateful for this day of many blessings, including the miracle of being with people who have the courage to love with open hearts.

Posted in Renewal, Spirituality | Tagged , | 306 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 25

Honoring the Vision

So many times in my life I have worked toward a vision, and then fallen short. And given up. It’s happened often enough to serve as convincing evidence that I should not even try for my next vision. But this morning I realized it is I, not God, who has abandoned my visions over and over.

I learned so much this morning at church. Healing energy was pouring into me from the first words of the first reading:

God of the second chance…

I felt that to my core.

Yes! This God is the God of the second chance. While I might lose hope, this God of mine does not.

God of the second chance… Come close and sing over our dry bones. We need genuine revival.

Yes! It is me who fails to honor the visions and gifts given to me. Again and again. Lost and exhausted. Until I am nothing but dry bones. Waiting. For a second chance. Waiting for revival.

And in these first minutes of worship this morning, I could feel this God of new beginnings breathe hope into my bones. Telling me that I must hold true to my visions. That I must turn away from whatever stops me from honoring my visions. That I must believe in these visions. That I must believe.

All of this connects to what I have been struggling with the last few days. I have gotten very busy, trying to say “yes” to too many demands on my time. Feeling exhausted and confused. Losing track of what my soul needs most: to be true to myself. This was made very clear to me this morning. I am letting things distract me from my path. I have to say “no” to whatever does not move me forward on my path.

I have a vision of conducting transformational workshops. I have many gifts that help people transform their lives. It is time to believe in these gifts and this vision. It is time that I honor what has been given to me.

I am grateful for another second chance.

Posted in Depression, Renewal, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 251 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 24

Man On Strike

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

Today I had set aside most of the day for various projects I wanted to work on. But other than my morning walk, I did nothing productive all day.

For several weeks I’ve been feeling like I have too much on my plate. Too busy. Not enough down time.

When people ask me how I’m doing, I keep saying, “I’m just so busy all the time, but I’m not complaining.”

But, I am complaining. I am too busy. And I don’t like it.

A few days ago I said I would deal with being too busy. I knew I needed to cut back and cancel some activities. I didn’t.

Yesterday was gorgeous weather and I had wanted to get out and away for the afternoon, but didn’t. Today was even more beautiful. I had a great walk and then walked around my yard several times to enjoy the springtime energy. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. Yet, I refused to make the time to get out and enjoy myself. I had obligations—important tasks that needed to be done. I had already procrastinated enough.

I should know this about myself: when I go too long without getting adequate down time, my productivity suffers. If I persist in pushing myself, at some point everything grinds to a halt. It’s like going on strike. Or I just get sick.

So today was the day to refuse everything. I was stuck in gridlock—I wouldn’t allow myself to take a much-needed break, but I also wouldn’t do the tasks I needed to do. Man on strike.

I was in a bad mood. Even self-pleasuring failed to satisfy me and give me the relief I needed. Erotic pleasure was not what I really wanted. It was just more stimulation to an already over-stimulated brain.

I really just wanted a break from too much structure and responsibility. From too much of everything.

Late in the afternoon, I finally caught on.

As a part of my journey for Lent, I am reviewing things that are blocking pleasure and connection with life. I know there are things in my life that are no longer working for me, that are holding me back, draining me, and/or blocking me.

Recently, I’ve felt less than enthusiastic about some of the groups I conduct. My energy has shifted and I’ve been wondering if I need to let them go and free myself to do something else. This week I found myself dreading my next men’s group scheduled for Sunday (tomorrow). So late this afternoon, I realized that I had to cancel it. I sent out the cancellation notices and immediately felt a huge relief. I had reclaimed a bit of my time back. I had carved out just a little bit more breathing room.

I always feel better when I respect my desires and follow what brings me energy. It’s just that I don’t always catch on right away. Finding myself on strike today caught my attention. I decided to listen.

Posted in Body & Energy Work, Depression, Renewal, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , | 411 Comments

Forty Blogs for Forty Days of Lent – Day 23

More Stuff from the Shadows

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

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Alone in the dark – my first naked selfie!

Over the last 23 days of Lent, I have been digging around in the shadows of my life searching for whatever is blocking pleasure.

Along the way I have recognized that it seems easier for me to confront difficult emotional topics, including shame about sex and self-pleasuring, than to focus on doing tangible tasks that have to be done, like washing dishes and paying bills. I don’t like admitting that I do this.

Today I removed the block of procrastination long enough to deal with some complicated insurance issues that had to be resolved before I could pay my bills. It was a hassle that took a couple of hours, but I completed it and got the bills paid. Which does feel satisfying.

While I did better with the practical chores today, I was also struggling with feelings of loneliness throughout the day (as most days). Wishing I had someone special with whom to talk, snuggle, and share. Believing that a lover/partner would make everything so much better. Believing that I would be more productive if more of my emotional needs were being met within a loving relationship.

Uh oh! I see a pattern here. This is starting to look like more shadow stuff.

Actually, that reminds me of back when I was looking for dates on-line. There were gazillions of profiles that went on and on about how they just wanted to find their one true love, their soul-mate, their knight or princess, that would make them whole and happy forever and ever. Such naive fairy tales! And always easier to spot when someone else is doing it.

As I look at these words here now, I realize that my feelings of loneliness are blocking my pleasure. Being alone is not the problem, it is my feelings and beliefs about being alone that are blocking my pleasure. Being lonely is being a victim. It is my waiting for fairy tale lovers to show up that disempowers me—that turns me into a frog that has a very small, limited life.

So today I am alone. In the dark. With myself. And that is no small blessing.

Posted in Relationships, Shadow Work | Tagged , , , , | 806 Comments