Archive for the 'Air' Category

Shelter

Friday, June 5th, 2009

‘I felt it shelter to speak to you.’ -Emily Dickinson

I am not sure if there is a more challenging aspect of relating than communicating. It is the currency of all relationships, personal and professional, and reflects us in the world more deeply than any other part of who we are. Professionally, it is not uncommon for less qualified applicants to get a job over more qualified competitors based solely on their ability to communicate. Our personal relationships thrive or fall victim to our willingness and capacity to disclose and listen to the people we love.

An ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus once commented that, ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ For all of my work on loving relationships, I have never been a good listener. In my earliest childhood memories, my capacity to articulate and charm almost landed me on TV and kept the peace in my dysfunctional home. I learn about my thoughts by speaking them; not surprisingly I married a strong, silent type who makes a living listening to people.

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The Real Conversation

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Flying out of New Orleans, I am seated next to a gynecologist that I didn’t meet at the ACOG yearly meeting. I share my story about love products and my work about making love sustainable. He shares his story about how limited his time with each patient is and how awkward it is to discuss sexual intimacy. We talk about how little education and language we are given in our childhood and youth to understand our sexual nature and honor this part of ourselves. We even talk about masturbation and its dirty history of torture and shame and how difficult it is for so many women to touch themselves or in turn, to allow themselves to feel pleasure when someone else does. We talk about how important it is to honor your partnership as the center of your family and not to let your children’s needs overtake your marriage. He shares the pain of the early divorce he lived through in medical school. I share how much I struggled in my own marriage while my husband was in medical school. We talk about the incredibly high statistics of failed marriages in medicine- and then in life in general. I share my dreams of making a chair of loveology at a university. We have a real conversation.

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The Heart of Breast Cancer

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” – Plato

Our breasts cover our heart. If you have ever nursed a baby, it is clear that our breasts are not there for adornment, they are a primary organ of nurturance and sustaining life. They are enervated directly to our sexual center, one of our primary sensory organs to awakening libido. Their attraction, often confused with size or shape, is truly about how they connect us to our heart and the pieces of life that are most life affirming.

The rate of illness in this region of our body is mind boggling. Breast cancer affects one in eight women everyday. Heart disease kills one in four women. Just last spring, when I was called back to re-image a lump in my own breast, waiting in the hospital gown for a “better view” of what was happening in my breast, the truth of these numbers hit home. Any of us can become part of these statistics at any moment. And I knew, sitting there, that for the one woman out of eight who gets the unfortunate response of cancer, everything in her world and relationships shifts at that moment.

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Culture of Love

Friday, March 27th, 2009

‘Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.’

Aristotle once wrote, ‘What a society honors will be cultivated.’ How fortunate we all are to finally have the value of love and commitment raised into the embodiment of our leadership. The photos of the new president and his wife sweeping the dance floor at the inaugural ball with only eyes for each other sent a message into the hearts of all of us. Love matters, and in fact was probably one of the single most significant factors in the success of our most unlikely of presidents. Certainly President Obama is brilliant, but he has also been brilliantly loved.

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Core Vitality of the Heart

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The heart is perhaps the only muscle in our body that is stronger when it is soft. Firmness, strength and the ability to harden are key to core vitality throughout most of the body including our sexual organs. Hardening our heart whether it is in response to a political reality or a difficult relationship turns us into our own personal brand of fundamentalist. It is a slippery slope from the tightening in the chest to a self righteous stance about how the world should be. It happens even before we see it happening.

If our language is an extension of our soul, then how we talk about things reflects our ability to feel and know them. Rigid positions accommodate a narrowing of our language and support a limited view of the other side. It can be painful to let in the depth and nuance that allows other people act irrationally, even seemingly against their own self interest. This is another disadvantage of relating to the world with a hardened heart, it is hard to tell when you are winning, because both sides lose something when the relationship is stuck in polar positions.

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Conversations We Keep

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The things you talk about with the people that matter in your life are the air in your relationships. This seems a timely discussion in light of the conversations that are bound to take place in the next several weeks as our family structures, past and present, collide back into full view. We call them holidays. Give yourself a new gift this time – pay attention to what you say.

There is an extraordinary power and grace in calling a thing by its right name. This applies to oneself as much if not more than to a situation. It is the foundation for believing yourself. A few critical instructions are essential here – first, stop repeating or making up a story. Pretend that you are a reporter, objectively describing an event. Don’t attach the event to a lifelong history. Bear witness to it as a singular moment in time. Does this change the view? Experience a brief moment where judgment is suspended and we see with fresh eyes the people that we have known from our lifelong stories.

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Fighting for Your Love

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Sometimes you just have to fight about it. As human animals, conflict is not only a natural outcome of partnerships and family units; it is an essential part of building unity. Our differences may make life more interesting, but learning to deal with them effectively and with love is a challenge for which we are often not well prepared. Learning to speak authentically even if it creates conflict is a basic skill to sustaining relationships. Likewise, developing the insight to see through someone else’s eyes and have disagreements that build instead of undermine our relationships require both courage and a real commitment to stay.

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Wired to Connect

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Sustainable love, the kind that we use as a compass to keep us connected to a vital, healthy and happy relationships are now being recognized as skills that might just save our species.

We finally have the scientific equipment to verify what we have always known: our drive to be social, to be connected to each other, is actually hardwired. Our need for connection and drive towards empathy is not a result of environmental influences but rather a function built into the brain itself. Daniel Goleman, PhD, a New York Times science writer and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, has taken his research to a whole new level and has published Social Intelligence.

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Clearing the Air

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy sources available. What could be cleaner than capturing the power of the moving air and turning it into energy? This is a powerful metaphor on a personal level and in our work to make relationships sustainable. The air in your relationship flows from the communication that passes between you and your partner. It is the currency of your relationship. It has the power of a wind generator to capture the essence of what it is to be intimate. It is the source and fuel for physical intimacy.

Taking into account significant gender differences in communication styles and comfort is an important beginning. Women communicate with about ten times the number of words as men. Knowing this fact will hopefully allow for differences without letting anyone off the hook. Everyone needs to stretch themselves when it comes to learning to communicate.

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Communication

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Language is the metaphor we use to communicate our deepest feelings. A couple’s sexuality is the most profound vehicle of communication of all. The words we use and our physical language of love define our love experience.

Penetration is the word often used to describe the culminating act of sexuality. It’s a word I often use when describing the best use of good lubricant. But it was just this week after using the word in conjunction with the act, that I wondered what I was saying. The verb “to penetrate” has six different definitions in the dictionary and as in the power of any metaphor, the meaning one attaches to the term may deeply influence our relationship to the act.

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