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The not-so-new 30s dating paradigm, am I missing something?

As a single woman in my thirties I feel like the options I have for healthy and fun relationship these days are stiflingly narrow, where does that come from? Where are the heralded brave new frontiers of human relationships dawning? My experiences since turning 30 are leading me to the conclusion that my socially sanctioned choices are as limited as marriage and babies, casual/tinder, “Polyamorous” divorcees or lesbian. I’m not loving it.

Men who want children and marriage are few and far between at this point, and they really want it, to the extent that it feels not ok to date them if I don’t definitely want that. Men who definitely don’t want that, appear terrified of my fertile womb and optimism about love, and tell me with patronising looks, that they “know deep down what I really want” and write me off as a panicky uterus with claws. Often the ones who I am actually aligned with just refuse to believe me when I tell them what I want, which is insulting.

Strangers who are married with kids love to remind me uninvited as I peacefully sip my tea in a cafe that I “have all this to come” as they wipe the puke out of their hair with a napkin and their partner sinks deeper into candy crush saga hoping it will all go away for a moment.

Also, I’m great with kids and love hanging out with them, which is deeply confusing for people who feel that if you like children then the logical thing is to make several and devote your entire life to their care. I like a lot of things that I nevertheless don’t want as the dominant theme of my existence – doesn’t make me like them any less.

About once a year I go on Tinder for 1-3 hours and that is about as much as I can hack it. I feel myself slipping into the kind of dislocated torpor I used to enter as a child flicking through the Argos catalogue, a truly horrendous distortion of the beauty and complexity of human connection. It’s like going trout fishing and being hit with a freaky cyclone of goldfish lurching up out of the lake.

The Polyamorous dads club is a genre of their own and I actually really admire these guys because they are unabashed about being clear and upfront about what they want from a relationship. They’ve been through the emotional sausage machine of marriage and they just want fun and sex on tap with zero demands. They come to realise over time that having multiple casual relationships with real humans is even more demanding than monogamy unless you want to be sloppy about it and live in an episode of Eastenders with one eye on the window at all times.

Not easy for them either to find a woman who has the energy and freedom to play with them and will not expect them to call for a chat or take active interest in life outside of the bedroom. I think this woman is a mythical creature and I am often confused with her because I appear to be free and a bit wild, and self identify as a unicorn…. Needless to say it doesn’t work out for long.

I’ve noticed women my age spontaneously or intentionally opening to relationships with other women after previously only having relationships with men. Perhaps they come to realise that emotional connection, intuitive intimacy and nurturing communication are available to them here in spades, and with less presumptions loaded on top. Perhaps they simply fall in love and are open and sovereign enough to claim it.

Is it possible to have a relationship that is fun, healthy, interdependent and also has depth and shared purpose outside of marriage and babies? For me, growing, learning and exploring together and supporting each other in our full expression and purpose is a beautiful intention for relationship. This, and all the sweetness and joy there is to be found in being two humans with bodies that like and trust each other bumbling through the day to day pleasures and pitfalls of life. Let’s start  with play and dancing and not be so scared of what might come next…

It’s been suggested to me that it’s my own ideas about relationship that are too narrow.  Am I missing something? Is it just me? Shall I pop this on my Tinder profile?

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Meh. Break Up Poems.

1.
Straight off the train and it’s hanging in the air.
Scanning everywhere
For a glimpse of a moment gone by.
I feel his hand on my thigh.
Your name in lights, literally, above the night.
Your name in lights, literally, above the night.
It’s that time again
When we began.
The air feels just right.
Such a waste and such wide-eyed delight…
Fireworks
Featured heavily
Inside and out.
I watched through the lens of love
And you were next to me
Seeing clearly
What was in front of you.
Seeing only that.

2.
I’m too finely tuned to tango.

I serve up my heart raw
Like a high delicacy
When I open
To dance.

You smell the iron sweetness
Emanating from my neck
And the hairs stand up
On the back of yours.

However far afield
I feel your radar find me
When I open and emit
My full embodied pulse.

It is safe and sad to be shut up tight,
My body sluggish and sorry
Headed for hibernation,
Hiding from hurt.

It is ravenous and mighty
To let all the feeling
Frozen deep in tight musculature
Throb and release
In salty dissolution.

It is all my beauty and power
Bound up
Packed away
Pushed away
Kept at bay.
Kept quiet.
Lest you hear its call and turn your head.

And it would be nothing to you
To undo me completely,
Surfing and swirling in salty, scarlet waves
To invigorate yourself
And leave me there in pieces.

So I dance alone far away
Safe without postcode
And just feel the pulsing sonar
Of your attention
Through my body
Like a drum.
Like a warning.
3.
If you just want
To pick at me
Like the lukewarm remains
Of a meal you weren’t really hungry for
At the time.
Do not.
4.
I am furious
That I let you touch me
So deeply.

I am outraged
That it meant
So little to you.

I am sad
That we do not know
How to love each other.

When you touch the heart
Of a woman
Whose love is an ocean.

Be ready
To feel the waves
When you dip in your toe.

Or stay on the beach and watch.
Perhaps I am too terrific to touch.
5.
All the things I love
That you love too:
When I celebrate them
I celebrate you.
Why is my face always leaking when I do?

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Reading the signs: getting clear on connection and commitment

I’ve been repeating a pattern for a chunk of my life which involves getting attached to people who are, for one reason or another, unavailable for the kind of relationship that I’m interested in at the time. Or any relationship with structure or commitment. It usually begins with them telling me so and me nodding, and ends with me in floods of tears wondering why on earth they won’t just love me in the way I want them to and what terrible character flaw I possess that makes me so deeply unloveable.

Most recently, after falling head over heels for someone who had expressed clear disinterest (for good reason) in forming a committed relationship I found myself almost a year on licking my wounds and trapped in the pain of unrequited love. Pushing it down and kidding myself that what was on offer was enough. After finding myself in an Airbnb on the other side of the world for work, mooning and missing this person and writing to tell them so, and feeling utterly unmet by the response, the blackout curtains of denial fluttered open for a moment and I saw the light. We were in different places, he had been right all along telling me so as I sing-songed back my totally-fineness and utter lack of attachment, deceiving myself totally, and him by extension. It had to stop.

So I wrote and told him so, with as much kindness for the both of us as I could muster, in the middle of a tear-soaked coffee stop in a day of walking the streets for money (not like that – I collect data for a living, sometimes). After about 20 minutes (quite the anomaly) there was an answer back. He had suspected as much and was truly sorry but was not in a place of being willing or able to commit to a relationship, as stated, nearly 12 months ago… I’m trying hard to be kind to myself right now as I write, about how long this took me to truly grasp and to him for not nudging me a bit harder, against his interests perhaps, to wake up – though nudge me he did. I stormed with grief for the rest of the day, flooding the streets with salt water and stamping my pain into the Tarmac. Howling into the wind and the faces of passersby and singing out my sorrow to every pop power ballad I could summon.

Almost 2 months on, it has taken daily courage to keep walking away, step by step. I’ve had to turn myself back around several times, as I find myself metaphorically stood knocking at a closed door again. My good friends have listened to me talk myself back into a world of delusions and self abandonment and back out again more times than I’d like. I’ve sent messages I regret, made myself feel vulnerable, worried I’ve hurt his feelings. I’ve received beautiful listening, compassion and friendship from him. I’ve met silence and confusion. I’ve raged, fantasised and broken apart. I’ve doubted myself and derided myself and watched with detached disbelief as I disentangle myself from the affection of a wonderful human being.

Breaking my own heart, for my own good, is the weirdest experience. Emotionally it’s like cutting off your leg to get out of a bear trap. Hideous analogy but anyone who has experienced the withdrawal pains of breaking free from this unilateral pattern of relating will know that in the most arm-gnawing, hair-pulling, eye-scratching moments, it is true what science has shown us – the emotional pain of a breakup is experienced in the brain in the same area as physical pain and is hardly distinguishable by our nervous systems in the moment.

It is in those moments of anguish and disorientation, when just dropping them a text or going back for just a cuddle would make it all stop, that it is hardest to uphold the courageous choice to walk. In the moments when my head is clear of anguish and ambivalence, and I am not pacing around clutching my mobile waiting to receive the response that will never come, I know the choice was the right one and that I am healing a pattern that does not serve me or anyone else. Repatterning feels very disorientating and sometimes I find myself experiencing a sort of inner scrabbling for ground, clutching for false anchors, seeking out a shelter I have dismantled, and I know I’m on the cusp of building new ones that will stand.

I know I’m not the only one to go through this. People choose, at certain times of life or perhaps for their whole life, not to be available for deep emotional commitment. It is a totally valid choice to be respected like any other. The difficulty comes when these people, still wanting to connect and enjoy the company of those they are attracted to, lay this out dutifully and clearly and… for psychologically complex and I’m sure totally varied reasons… the other person just does not hear it/believe it/accept it and gives the go ahead.  Maybe we think it won’t be a problem for us, maybe we think it might change, maybe we just flat out don’t understand what they mean. On we go hurtling headlong into heartbreak.

As a woman, I know that my brain chemistry works in such a way that as soon as I am physically intimate with someone, then my brain releases oxytocin and gets me nicely bonded and emotionally attached to this person. The more this repeats, the stronger that attachment becomes. I might think I have a handle on the situation but all of a sudden I am playing out all kinds of attachment behaviours and my capacity to think rationally about the situation is going fast out the window. I’m in deep, and getting myself out activates the same regions of my brain as heroin withdrawal. So just know yourself. Know what’s happening in your body and brain, know your attachment style, know your vulnerability.

I believe in loving whole heartedly, I believe in going all in, and because of this I need to take better stock of what I’m getting all into, read the signs and read them again til I am clear what I’m signing up for, and what I’m not. Work on understanding the beliefs and desires that cloud my vision. Get clear on what my own vision is for relationship, and be brave to say no when what’s on offer doesn’t fit.

 

 

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No Ball Games

A: Wanna knock a ball around with me?

B: Sure – I love tennis.
A: No, I really definitely don’t want to play tennis, I’ve just finished a long tennis match, I’m kinda done with tennis for a bit and don’t have the capacity to focus on all the rules and the structure and the lengthy commitment of a tennis game… Let’s just knock this ball around.
B: Ok sure… I can do that that’s fun too… And yes, there’s not really time for a tennis match right now for me either, good point.
… A few hours later…
B: Hey why don’t we play tennis now, we are pretty good at this, tennis will be fun
A: No, I don’t want to play tennis. Just knock this ball around.
B: Ok….One- love!!
A: What are you doing?
B: Nothing, definitely not playing tennis in my head, we are just knocking the ball around right? Fun…
… Match point!!!!
A: Wait… What? We are just knocking the ball around… What do you mean match point? Are you playing tennis? Because I’m not, I’m just knocking this ball around and you are hitting it back… Doesn’t mean it’s tennis.. that’s all in your head.
B: You’re right. It takes two people to play tennis and for it to be meaningful.
I’m just getting frustrated and hoping you might get keen for tennis, I see that you are not…Well it’s sad, I’ve been having loads of fun with you, but I’m just ready to play tennis now… So… I guess let’s stop knocking this ball around, and I’ll go see who wants to play tennis…
…some days later…
B: Wow I really feel like playing tennis.., ah yes I’ll call my friend, we had such fun that day playing t… Well, knocking the ball about, it was kinda like tennis, I guess it would do, maybe later he will want to play tennis…
…so here we are, knocking this ball about again. I really love it…. You know what I love even more? Playing tennis!! Wanna play? Seems like maybe now you might be ready for a game?
A: No, I told you, no tennis for me… Now can we knock this ball about and just be content with it or are you gonna keep trying to make it tennis??
B: Sure… Let’s knock the ball about some more… Maybe we can play tennis in a couple weeks… Meanwhile we are good at this and I like how we play together….it’s fine…
…no. No, I really just want to play tennis!! This is so frustrating!!
If I keep knocking this ball around with you for weeks on end, I’ll never get to play the full game I so enjoy. Gotta go find a tennis partner…
…Hanging around the nets, nobody is about just yet for a tennis game….
B: hey, dude, wanna knock that ball about? Maybe it was ok after all, maybe it doesn’t need to be tennis. Maybe…. Maybe you are wishing now you had agreed to have a go at tennis with me…
A:…No reply…
B:… Hey dude… We can just knock the ball back and forth real gently, come on, what do you think?
A: I’m too tired now to even knock the ball about and worried you will just hassle me to play tennis with you again…But…. Hmm ok, let’s give it a shot knocking this ball about…
B:… No, you’re right…. Let’s just both wait here, not playing ball. Til someone comes along who wants to play tennis and someone who wants to just knock the ball around for a few weeks. Will be so great to both be playing the way we want to play, and maybe we can have a lemonade after the game.
…. Stand there, looking sadly at each other over the net, nobody is having fun… Better just go home.

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Slow burn

Sat with my feet on the opposite chair
Because the floor is cold
In my mind.

Elbows on the table
And my back pressed
Into the awkward angles
Of the front of the Rayburn.

It is only on simmer.

This cough is
Clearing the grief
From the depths of my lungs.
It is sticky and harsh.
It is clearing.

I cried today.
A wave swelled and broke
In the kitchen
And I span around like a trapped cat.
Scratching for an escape from
The big black dog.

I ran to my bed
Hoping Its softness
Would save me from the jagged edges,

But sharp blades are better.
The cut cleaner,
Heals without scars.

Or some other words.
That distract your eye.
From the glinting edge of that which separates.

From the fuzzy features
– Far out of focus –
That may be sad to see me go
Or may be thinking about other things.

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Let grief be an outpouring

“Let grief be an outpouring. When grief is allowed to exhaust its expression, then behind it is a profound silence, it’s like rest. No one can tell you when that rest is finished, it’s an intuitive thing” ~ Mooji

Saying bye bye to a heart’s companion today, a short but very sweet love connection with a little puppy being I have had the privelege of fostering, I have noticed how quite intense but uninhibited grief just pours out in bursts. And subsides. And pours again.

And this time, my relationship to it is different. I am totally okay with its presence and full expression. In front of other people, alone, with sound, without, at random moments. It feels really good and healthy, like good digestion. I’m not holding it in anywhere to deal with later on, I’m not holding on to its arising and making it a permanent state of being or the theme of my day, it’s just coming, and flowing, and gone.

Feels good, and different. I mean, it feels intense in the moment, but I no longer label it as a bad feeling, just a healthy release from Inside. Feeling the benefit of some big releases (real eases) in recent weeks, and also that this moment of grief and letting go, allows remnants of moments past to also be released, as much of it is without a clear source and with no thoughts or images attached to it. There is melancholy, but its not colouring everything as much as other times.

 

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Playing trust games with life

You may be familiar with trust games, from school or team building or some other facilitated group experience. A common version is where you stand on a chair and fall backwards and trust the group to catch you, and they do, and each time they do, something inside you melts and opens.

I have been playing this game with life itself for about three years now,and I finally feel I’m getting to the point where we don’t need to keep playing the game any more. I get it, I get that life will catch me and I can stop throwing myself of chairs for no reason!

What do I mean by life? I’m talking about everything that is, inside and out, existence itself. You might call it the universe, you might call it other people, you might call it Gaia,  you might call it the Dao, you might call it God, you might call it my Self. I’m talking about that which is, moment to moment, as I experience it.

Now we’ve cleared that up, what about these games? Have I really been throwing myself off chairs for three years? If ‘life’ is catching me, does that mean the ground? Is that really catching? How’s my head??

It’s a long story, but I will try to make it short. It began, as these kinds of adventures often do, with an experience of being faced with something bigger than I could comprehend, cope with or control. A force like a tornado was moving through me, a force that had somehow been unleashed from my heart and was wreaking havoc on my entire environment and sense of self. Over a period of twelve months, this tornado  (which was me, inasmuch as it was coming from inside me and acting through me) whipped away my relationship, my grandmother, my home, my cat, my business (almost, physically, in the end I let go and it continued in a new form), my sense of self, about half of my body mass, most of my belongings and most of my cash.

To be clear, I take total ownership for and feel utter gratitude for this tornado – and- it was a seriously disorienting and rocky ride as much as a magic carpet. I could not understand or explain it to anyone at the time, and so I did my best to rationalise and normalise my choices which were in reality driven by this molten fire inside me that was just burning away all the structures I had created to limit and  control my existence. Anything that I would grasp onto for safety was torn from me, and if I clung on to it my angel would transform into some kind of a demon and start to wreak havoc internally and externally until I let it go.

This tornado required my utter compliance, my utter surrender. All I could do was to stay in the still centre of it, where the air was clear and sweet and the colours were eye wateringly vivid. If I tried to walk back out of the centre to what had been, or off the path the tornado was taking, I began to be shredded and fragmented by its whirling force and was ultimately spat back out into the centre, more or less ragged depending on how hard I had fought.

So in the end, I stopped fighting, and I started to sense that perhaps I could trust this. I realised, that the still calm centre was expanding, and wonderful experiences were entering into that space and emerging from the ground beneath me, the longer I stayed present there. I realised that fear was what drove me into the storms and caused the clinging, and that trust – trusting life, myself and other people – allowed me to move with the tornado in safety and ease.

As these feelings and experiences came with a heightened visceral and physical experience – of energy, of emotion and of my senses – my body and felt sense became my compass. I would navigate by sensation, which would let me know where I was rooting myself, in the stillness or the storm. I could feel contraction in my chest and solar plexus, and closing down and narrowing of my sensory field and a dulling of the beauty I could perceive, when I was plugged into fear. In trust, in love, everything expanded, lightened, warmed and brightened internally and externally.

Why not follow that, I thought, why not try just following that. I had read so much about folowing my bliss and living from the heart, now this tornado had me by the heart and gave me little option, and much encouragement, to try it. Live it. See for myself.

So I did. I chose to make decisions only from trust and love, not to choose or act from fear. I would walk up to edges and throw myself off them, trusting. Trusting most of all myself, and this felt sense of what was right for me in the moment. The more I trusted, the more that apparent fears would melt away like mist as I approached them. The more I trusted, the stronger and clearer the internal signals became. The more I trusted the more I was met, by people and situations. With generosity of heart and warm welcome.

Each time I came to a big edge, I still felt the butterflies. I still thought: “what if this is the time where I fall on my face, where I realise they were all flukes before, and I had it all wrong…” I knew in those moments, that if I stepped down off the chair, the tornado would have me. I would be lost in the vortex of dark clouds and debris. I could only keep going, keep following the stillness in the centre as it moved. So I would stop, and reconnect with that stillness, and then move with it. Time and again.

An example of  such a moment that I often share, is when I found myself in the passport office in London, with a flight out of the country in 8 hours, no passport and no money.

I was following the still centre from Gran Canaria to Istanbul, via London. What had seemed an impossible feat had somehow lined itself up and I had been able to source funds, book ludicrously cheap flights with short notice and a tiny window AND get an appointment for a same day passport renewal to allow me to enter Turkey with more than 6 months validity. When I arrived to London I found that the funds coming in for my new passport had not yet cleared and would take  two days more. No problem, a generous friend would sub me for a few days.

So there I am in the passport office with my ticket number waiting for it to pop up on the screen and signal for me to approach the counter, three minutes from my allotted 5 minute appointment. I’m musing on the strange sensation I had felt travelling there by tube in rush hour, crushed against strangers in the humidity and noise. I had felt a distinct sensation of entering a tight squeezy tunnel, like today was some kind of birth canal. Peculiar and visceral.

A text message pops up on my screen and catches my eye. My dear friend who has subbed me to get my passport. Oh. Deals off. Something came up. Right. Of course I write back saying “No problem, have a great day”. White noise fills my head and my forehead prickles.

No problem.Right…. My number appears on the screen above my head. The quiet centre moves me forward to the counter, unprecedented high winds whipping behind me. “Here’s my application for a new passport. Thanks” She takes it. My freedom to roam the planet tucked away in an envelope and popped into a trolley. “Ok now go to the next window to pay.”

“What if I can’t pay?”

She looks at me, impatient and flat eyed.” You are going to pay now.”

“Yes but what if I can’t?”

“Madam I don’t understand, you are going to go and make payment at the next counter.”

Well, she seems pretty confident, so on I go.  “Hi I’m here to pay for my passport”. I pop my card in the machine and enter my pin, in a surreal kind of surrendered state, dropping backwards from the chair into emptiness…

Card declined. Oh god. Oh god oh god. This is the time when I just hit the floor isn’t it. This is the edge of my foolish delusion. This is it. Game over. Shit.

I must be spacing out because she speaks firmly and clearly and leans close to my face. “Madam, take this pen and paper, go ask someone to help you to pay. Write down the details and bring them to me.”

“…Thaaanks…” I wander away, utterly in the fog of evaporating belief…

“Madam!” I turn around. “Don’t forget this pen and paper, you need it to write down the details of the person who is going to help you.”

She is looking me dead in the eye and holding out the pen and paper, she looks so confident and so kind. I take it from her and walk away.

Crash. Crash. Crash. Stark waves of “reality” batter my self belief. In a way I feel a kind of safety in this momentary helplessness. There’s nothing else I can do, I have to surrender to the situation, and see what comes of it. I can’t do anything else right now. I begin weeping and getting ready to call my parents and tell them I’m sorry, all my talk of self belief and following my heart and something more in life… Crazy talk all of it, I was wrong, you were right to worry about me, I have lost the plot big time. I was ready to be at their mercy to either help me to carry on, or call me home, or get my head examined or whatever. I was ready to surrender all agency.

As I sat  in the corridor waiting for the tears to subside so I could speak on the phone. A man passing by stopped and looked at me with kind concern. “Are you ok miss?”

“yesfinethanks” I squeaked, tears streaming.

He kept looking at me, kind and slightly amused. “Are you sure you are ok??”

Then I realised what was happening and what I was pushing away. Life was coming towards me to help. I needed to let it in.

“No I’m not ok!” I blurted out the whole scenario and he listened, calmly, til I had finished.

“My name’s J. I’m the manager of this office. If you can get the funds you need any time up to 5:30pm when I finish work, I will get your passport to you today, no question.”

My heart cracked open another notch and I poured with gratitude, he smiled and walked away. Then my phone pinged, it was my friend in Istanbul. “Hey I found you a place to stay with a beautiful friend of mine and her family of dogs and cats, she is really excited to be hosting you and we are all looking forward to your visit.”

Angels. Everywhere.

Ping! Again. A message from a dear friend at the project I had been working on in the Canaries. “How’s it going lovely, got your passport and on your way?”

I wrote back and told her what had happened.

“Oh easy, here’s my card details, get your passport and get your flight and pay me back when your funds clear ok?”

I took the pen and paper, I wrote down the details of the person who would help me to pay. I got my passport as J had promised. I had brunch in the sunshine. I got my flight, I didn’t hit the floor. Life held me and kissed my forehead.

There are many such stories, but this post is already a “long read” so I’ll save them for the book (!).

I realise now, After three years of teetering on chairs, that I no longer need to keep taking myself to edges to see if I will be caught. If I find myself at an edge, and I still do often, I know I can keep going and walk through the swirling fear with my still centre, but now – life and I – we have a decent and mature team dynamic going on, and we can cocreate together a smoother ride which is a little less hair-raising  while still expansive and enriching. No more games now, time to get on with the work.

I can direct the tornado a little more now, it’s path is not so veering and unpredictable. I recognise that I AM the storm, that I am not just in it. It is in me, and so my still centre and I move through life, and my swirling edges clear any debris and fear blocks that they encounter, and all of it is me.

If you have read this far, and you think that I am in fact crazy. Please console yourself with this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cute comedy clickbait: why you should Just Say No to puppies

Puppes are super cute, fact. Be aware, however, that this is just a biological ruse… The big eyes and inexplicably cute facial dimensions and soft sniffly sounds, damn even that delectable puppy fur aroma…. All designed to make any adult creature with a pulse fall hopelessly in love and adopt two or three of them on the spot.

Should you encounter a puppy pusher, on the street, in a bar, on gumtree, in one of those great big cute animal supermarkets with aisles of neon chew toys , gourmet ham hock terrines and tiny onesies…. Here is why, you should just say no.

Your ankles will not be your own for a long, long time…

Puppies love ankles, their little jaws are perfectly evolved to fit snugly around an Achilles’ tendon with the teeth positioned just so that they can cause maximum impact without disabling their major provider’s mobility entirely. Puppies are hard wired to seek the ankle as a first point of contact for communicating a range of needs from food to attention to just being more deeply involved in whatever you are doing.

For that matter, neither will your socks…

Oh the delicious delight of a sweaty, stinky, sock! A puppy can snuffle out a dirty sock like a pig with a truffle. You know all those years  and years pre-puppy when you wondered who was hiding one of each pair of socks  you brought into the house? Blamed it on the sock fairy? It was the puppy you didn’t have yet, travelling back in time, relentless in pursuit of your socks.

You will develop a “twitch” around soft furnishings….

This will reveal itself one night when you are lounging on the sofa at a friend’s house, immersed in relaxed post-prandial chatter, and she reaches over to grab a cushion from beside you… “NODONTCHEWTHEF#%KINGCUSHIONS!!!”

You come round from the red mist to find yourself eyeball to eyeball with your friend who is down on the rug on her back with legs in the air, your lip curled to a canine snarl… You cannot apologise enough, it’s just been months of patient corrections and deep breaths, having to spend the chilly evenings with your neck crunked against the too high armrest of the sofa while your lovely squishy cushions go musty in the attic, waiting out the teething.

You will become a potty mouth…

Literally. Instead of responding to “How ya doing?” with the classic “Yeah pretty good, you?” Out will tumble a full breakdown of recent toilet tales and triumphs like “Yeah I’m ok, I mean I started my morning picking up poops and bleaching the rug  but he’s getting almost through the night now and his poops are much more sausage-like since the new kibble so it’s getting easier HA HA HA. Hurr…”

I now totally understand how it happens with new parents. You become so desensitised to the piss and shit of another creature, that you adore unconditionally,  that it actually becomes a fascination and a full-time project for a short while, during which time your still socially sensitised companions will brace themselves slightly before asking that question.

You will get addicted!

The sleepy squeaks and snuffles, the goofy gallop, the nestling and burrowing, the velvety softness, the smell of their  fuzzy little head when you kiss it (biological ruse, keep focus), the total adoration and awe, the wild comedy antics, the hapless curiosity, the total relaxed abandon on your belly, the ‘just the once’ spoony snuggles of that first week… You will get addicted. They will get big and doggy, and delight you in other ways, but you will start to linger a little longer as you pass the animal shelter, listening to the heart rending little yelps and whimpers. “Well. Having two is not much different to having one. Barney would love the company. Dogs are pack animals after all.” And so it begins again….

Just Say No.

Look how cute this puppy is!!!! ( I’m helping you to be strong, watch these as many times as it takes until the urge passes away, then you will be ok)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Call from an old friend

I received a call today.

From my body

And from Mother Earth herself.

“I’ve sent so many messages

Through so many messengers.

I love you.

I want you to come home.

I need you to keep me safe.

I invite you to cherish me more.

Honour me more.

Show up like a mama lion for me.

Soothe me with your touch when I am stressed.

Stop everything and put me first.

Listen long and lovingly to my needs.

Delight in meeting them.

Because you love me.

Don’t hand me over to someone else

To do it for you.

Instead of you.

Don’t abandon me when I feel unsafe

Stop everything and put me first.

I need to feel your presence.

All the time.

Always.

Put me first.

Honour me with your choices.

Put me first.

Honour me.

Listen to my every tiny desire.

Welcome and adore my desires.

Delight in pleasing me,

Nurturing me,

Lighting me up.

Treat me like a goddess,

A temple.

I am you.

I am that.

Act like it.

Come home.

 

Reading this message back, it feels like the deepest call of the feminine in me, to my masculine energy, which has been so active, doing and thinking and striking out. Building and shaping and directing….

In so many ways this call for union has been resounding in me. Even now, as I am here writing a blog post hunched at the desk, a wild little puppy is tearing at my ankles – “Hey!  I am life embodied, I am the earth in motion, be here now with me.” So I’ll end here, and go roll around on the rug by the fire.

 

 

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Boundaries, empathy, connection and seeing clearly

A friend recently sent me this poem that he found on a wall…

image

To see each other clearly, allow space to be, listen allow and smile, unearthing internal lies….

This for me captures the alchemy of relating, of presence one to another. What do we need to support this clear vision, this ability to let the other be and to bear witness to the internal beliefs that cloud our vision of them?

There is a paradox at the heart of it all which the image in the poem captures beautifully – we are separate branches in the same tree. How to hold the apparent paradox of interbeing and healthy boundaries was a question raised today in one of my communities, and it is one which has been present for me in several different conversations and contexts over the last couple of weeks.

As a highly empathic person, It can happen that I become so attuned to the experience of another that I enter into it energetically and almost exit my own. For me boundaries are the tools of time and space physicality which I use to meet the needs which support my energy levels, emotional and psychological clarity and connection to myself.

When these things are taken care of and my boundaries are clearly asserted and held, I can be open and fully empathically present to others without needing to guard my energy or personal space. My boundaries allow me to be more open. If my energy is depleted, or my mind and emotions are chaotic and I don’t take the space I need to restore balance and to process my experience, then my capacity to stay in my own centre is less and I will shut down compassion and empathy to others around me until I am able to reconnect with myself.

This for me highlights the difference between boundaries and disconnection. I can hold a boundary without disconnecting from you. I am more likely to disconnect if I have no boundary in place to meet the needs which support me to stay in connection.

Exploring the role of boundaries in relationship I have noticed that they also create greater intimacy. The presence of boundaries creates a safety which supports vulnerability, depth and risk taking within the held structure that we provide for each other.

Boundaries also provoke challenge and testing, and how we respond to that can be a real area of growth between two people also. Boundaries which are very rigid may suggest the presence of fear, whereas boundaries which are open for revision as the needs of individuals evolve can signify the presence of a growing mutual trust and respect, with enough safety to be allow some fluidity.

I enjoyed this insightful blog by a friend on the topic which relates particularly to children but holds universal wisdom. Also this video which was shared today in my community. This is a live inquiry for me and my experience of boundaries is an active growth area which feels very rich right now.