Monday, February 22, 2010

Finding Love in Later Life—Spirited Edition

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

This article follows up on some of the material in the last section of my recent post, Valentine’s Day—A New Vision. It’s the first time I am writing on a topic at the request of someone from our Cool Insighter community. Reader JuliaAna asked me to write: *

… a flower essence article for those of us who are older, but have never found the great love of our life and are now, as older women, looking at what is wrong with us and our energy, our projections, etc. … that has kept us from attracting that love we always wanted and still want in our lives. I have never been married, born in ’51. I’m a total romantic, but I have never found a true or great love.

This article idea intrigued me. I feel eminently qualified to write it, since I did not reunite with my childhood sweetheart until I was almost 50. Turns out, he was “still the one,” as one of my favorite songs goes, and there is definitely a lot of learning I can share on how that happened for me—and for us. Tim had never married; I was single for most of my adult life, though married previously. What I learned about relationship in-between my first meeting with Tim at ages 12-14 and our reunion, 37 years later, could easily fill several books—and probably will someday. As it stands, this will be a longer than usual post, just to share the key points.

I’ll get to the flower essence question last, but first, I’d like to address some of the issues in JuliaAna’s request.

Boomers: A Cool Saging Conversation 

Boom is the sound the baby generation makes when it explodes the old Old. TM

What’s Wrong with Me?

How many times I asked myself that same question as I, too, longed for the right relationship. This question needs to be balanced with reality and the clear vision of someone who has worked on him- or herself. Are your other relationships good—with friends, colleagues, bosses, and family? If yes, it’s probably “not you.” If you’ve looked deeply into your issues with intimacy, that usually means your Mom and Dad stuff, and feel you’ve done a good job healing them: there is nothing wrong with you.

One thing we often forget to examine is where relationship fits into our priorities. If you have kids from a prior relationship or a high-pressure job, you may need to make space for “romantic” love to enter. This happens on an energy level, and it can be also cured there.

Spend a lot of time envisioning how the right relationship would fit into your daily life. In advance, create the space for it. Nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it. Don’t let other activities take up your relationship space. It may take time to manifest it, but a relationship cannot enter a life with no room for it. You may actually have to allow yourself to feel lonely at times. I don’t mean you literally have to set aside two hours a day where you do nothing but wait for Mr. or Ms. Right… but have time set aside to do things that you can be easily downscale or let go when love arrives.

Being a romantic, in and of itself, can be a handicap in assessing your own role in keeping love at bay. By its very nature, being starry-eyed is not conducive to clear vision. If you work with astrology, we are the Neptune types (I’m one of them) who see the world—and love—through rose-colored glasses. That topic deserves its own section; it is such a stumbling block to finding a mature, lasting relationship.

Gauzy Vision and Other Romantic Handicaps

If you were born between 1942 - 1957, you have a particularly thorny issue with romanticism. We are the Neptune in Libra generation. When we were born, Neptune, which rules projections, dreaminess, and addiction, was in the sign of Libra —relationship, romance, and especially coo-some twosomes. We crave relationship like mother’s milk, but frankly, many of us are bad at it!

Why? That lack of visual clarity and the tendency to project what we want in a man or woman onto every passing could-be lover. More often than not, this results in harsh disappointment. We fall in love with what we think the other person is--and with what could have been between us—if s/he actually were that person. My own pain with just such a relationship took decades to get over. I just couldn’t give up who I thought he was and what we might have had … and I still occasionally catch myself wondering how our strong chemistry might have alchemized each other with more time together. I finally got over him in writing my memoir. I had to face, in black and white, that he was not good to me or for me. I had downplayed his cruelty and inflated his “loving moments”, often barely disguised manipulations, for 30-odd years. There’s a hint here.

Write about your relationships. Make a relationship history journal. Talk about hot flashbacks and cool insights! Patterns will leap off the pages. You’ll discover whatever you’re doing that’s not working with crystal clarity

The Time Factor

It is crucial to uncover as early as possible whether or not a love interest is real or a projection of your own mind. Most romantics don’t like this reminder, but here it is. To know someone takes time. I think it takes a minimum of a year—often longer. I suggest you consider not moving in with someone or commingling assets until a deep trust is established and you have cycled through several of life’s seasons and challenges. Then you’ll have a track record together and know how you both fare for better or worse before you say it—and seal it in ink.

One advantage: If you’re a woman 50 or older, you’re past the ringing alarm on your biological clock. In today’s world, there are few good reasons to hasten marriage. There’s no shotgun in sight. Allow yourself to grow through all the phases of relationship till you’re both ready to take the next natural step. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Be happy. And if it turns out in this process you find you’re not with the love of your life, don’t hesitate to move on.

There is more romance and sex going on these days in many senior housing complexes than on many high school prom nights.  Love knows no age limits.

Think you’re running out of time? There’s never any good reason for rushing in, given how painful a wrong decision and the wrong person can make your life.

The Addictive Factor

You don’t have to be born with Neptune in Libra to be a love addict. There are many more astrological signatures and people so inclined, whatever your year of birth. If you can’t live without a relationship or your longing for one makes your life miserable, it’s time to detox. It may take therapy. If it’s a full-blown sex addiction, it may take Sex Addicts Anonymous. It is unwise, unhealthy, and untenable to live a life where you cannot be alone. When you’d rather be in situations that are personally harmful than to be by yourself, please seek help. Even if you think you’re more compulsive than truly addictive—you could really stop if you just break the knee-jerk habit—the sooner the better.

Another sign of an unhealthy relationship to relationship is “trying too hard.” Relationships are like a handful of sand on the beach of time. The more you squeeze (want a relationship desperately); the more it runs through your fingers. The more you can live without it—the cooler you are way with being either single or partnered—the clearer your energy is for the right someone to pick up on your true self. See Your Cosmic Tractor Beam for more on how this energy dynamic works.

Let’s also talk for a minute about what squeezing sand feels like from the other side. Perhaps you’ve experienced someone who is so intensely “into” you before you even have a chance to decide whether you’re that interested. It feels icky and invasive. Too much, too fast, too soon—not conducive to good long-term relationships. Desperation makes would-be lovers run in the opposite direction at break-neck speed, as well they should. You’re in love with love. You don’t even know them. You’re cheating on them emotionally already.

Probably you’ve noticed that I’m referring to astrology a lot in this article. That’s because it has helped me more than any other tool to understand my own love addiction and to overcome it. More on that next …

You First, Us Second

If you’ve ever read my post, The Converse Golden Rule, you know I am still in the process of learning to make my needs as important as serving others. I have a lot of Libra planets in my chart, and I speak from the trenches of overcoming the malady, bit by bit.

It was working with my astrological passion, the centaur planet Chiron, when I first “got” why it is so important to become a fully realized individual before stepping into relationship. In the zodiac, the first half of the signs and houses from Aries (1st) to Virgo (6th) are about personal development. In Libra (7th) and Scorpio (8th), we bond with one other. In Sagittarius (9th) through Pisces (10th), we are developing our relationships with many others. (See Wholeness and the Inner Marriage on The Radical Virgo.) You cannot give your Self in relationship until you fully become yourself. Until then, you don’t have your whole self to give.

The best relationships come from two whole people who walk the path of life together. Then, when they give themselves to relationship, they create synergy. The whole is more than the some of its parts. But relationship needs both its parts—two budded individuals.

How I Manifested My Man

1. I followed inner guidance, particularly in a very literal dream that predicted a reunion with Tim.

2. I was at a point where I had accepted I might be single for the rest of my life, and I was OK with it. Tim was in the same place. Consequently, we were both broadcasting the energy of our true selves, which made our energies clear to one another.

3. I had made affirmations recently about what I wanted in a relationship. I was quite specific. I wrote them down, put them in a corner of my office where I could look at them occasionally, but for the most part, I just let go, figuring the universe would handle the details.

4. I gave up wanting to control what this relationship or person “looked like” and figured Spirit knew best. (I had a psychic reading many years ago that foretold my reunion with Tim. I thought the woman was nuts at the time! After several other happy reunions, I was now open to new relationships with people from my past.)

5. I stepped out in faith, took a chance, and contacted him. While I wasn’t sure what the dream meant about reconnecting with Tim—he could be married with five kids—I did “get” that I was to re-encounter my very first boy/girl relationship for some reason. I left the rest up to Higher Power. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure a man/woman relationship was the reason I was supposed to reconnect with him. I was somewhat surprised when it turned out that way.

I can’t overestimate the importance of Steps 2 and 5. We were both internally in the right place of surrendering a sense of having to have a relationship, but God helps those who help themselves. Tim admits he would have never thought to reconnect with me after all those years. Yet, he was the one who kept all the pictures from our ‘tween-age romance. He was keeping some sort of psychic channel open, even though he didn’t realize it—and it worked!

Once You’ve Got a Hot Prospect

Other than letting it grow into whatever it’s supposed to be—a friendship, romance, marriage, or a brother/sisterly bond—I think there’s a very important question to ask. Do you really like each other?

A good relationship, in my personal experience, is far more about friendship than any other type of love. Yes, I’m a romantic married to a romantic whose goal is to tell me every day that he loves me. Everyday living with its moments of anger, frustration, and annoyance are where you need that romanticism most to remind you why you were drawn to this person in the first place.

I can’t assume because you’re over 50 that you already know this. Physical attraction can so often be mistaken for love. I am embarrassed at how many times I did so in retrospect. There’s nothing like the early months of relationship—hot sex, romance, and your projections going wild all over one another. But basing a long-term relationship on body heat is a big mistake, especially if you don’t bother to find out how you like that person out of bed. With jobs, possibly kids, projects and just the demands of modern life, even people with the world’s biggest libidos are unlikely to spend more than 5 or 10% of their relationship in the bedroom. Why choose a partner based only on that factor?

For some of us, as we age, hormone levels decrease and take the edge off the need to compromise who we are in order to have sex. As a younger woman, I couldn’t count times I didn’t stand up for myself or smoothed over tensions so we’d still “be in the mood” on any given night in any one of my “wrong” relationships. My “loves” were almost always driven by physical attraction first, and everything else second. Hopefully, if your passions haven’t waned even a little, you’ve evolved to the point that the friendship and spiritual aspects of relationship are important to you. That’s when we’re willing to be a lot more discreet about taking that first step into the bedroom or stepping into it anytime later, when things aren’t right between you. Smothering conflict for any reason, including sex, is how you lose your own power in a relationship, bit by bit.

Big hormonal needs as a younger woman took me places I would never have gone with rational forethought. We’re designed that way for perpetuation of the species. But, remember, we’re past child-bearing age. Sometimes, I swear, the oddest combinations of people seem necessary in the short-term for karmic reasons and/or to bring children into the world with a specific genetic make-up. One of the blessings of being over 50 is that there’s no other reason to be in a relationship except for your own reasons. This is liberating!

Help from Our Flower Friends

Because they work on emotions, flower essences are powerful allies in the tricky world of relationship where both head and heart need to be balanced for happiness. Here are some suggestions to match typical issues that come up, especially for mid-life lovers and beyond.

Bleeding Heart (FES) **– Never got over a specific relationship in the past; or having difficulty with a recent relationship that didn’t work out. You haven’t completed grieving. You can’t “move on.”

Swiss Glacier Essence (Ancient Forest) Melts any hardening that has congealed around the heart, great for people who still bear pain and scars from past relationships who want to heal and open up to love again.

Celtic Healing Springs (Ancient Forest)  Helps us awaken from illusion or preoccupation with our own story. Promotes grounding and wholeness. Good for those trying to be less dreamy about love and open to more grounded, life-affirming relationships.

Self-Heal (FES)– Another good one for past relationship hurts when it’s more a question of the cumulative hurt than one relationship in particular. Still, Self-Heal works well as a “binder” with many other essences and would enhance Bleeding Heart or any of the others in combination.

Impatiens (Bach, Healing Herbs) – Impatient about getting a relationship; trouble trusting the universe to bring it to you when the time is right

Shooting Star (FES) – A sense of alienation and not fitting in, perhaps because you’re single and have many married friends or acquaintances. Feeling you’re “too different” to find the right partner.

Sunflower (FES) – This essences if good if you’ve still got dad issues, but it’s also good for “being you,” that essential pre-requisite for becoming part of a dynamic duo. If you’re concerned about losing yourself or feel yourself slipping in a relationship, a round of Sunflower can put you back on track.

Mariposa Lily (FES) – Often called “mother love in a bottle,” this essence also handles any bottled-up, unfinished issues with your mom. When we are not at peace with our primary nurturer, assuming Mom held that job, it’s hard to nurture—or be nurtured—by others in a loving relationship.

The Monkeyflowers (FES) work on fears of intimacy. Try Pink Monkeyflower when you’re afraid to tell someone you’re true feelings or feel too vulnerable to take the risk. Sticky Monkeyflower is better when the fear of intimacy is specifically sexual, whether from fear of getting too close or past traumatic experiences involving sexuality.

Crab Apple (Bach, Healing Herbs) may stave off feelings of fading beauty or not feeling “enough” as you look for love in midlife or beyond.

Clematis (Bach, Healing Herbs) - Good choice, if you’re still too dreamy and romantic and your feet aren’t on the ground. Especially good to take at the beginning of a relationship where you think s/he might be the one.

Love: “Reality, What a Concept!” ~ Robin Williams

While my current marriage certainly has its shot of Neptune and romanticism, it is as real as it gets as far as the gifts of mature relationship. We are honest, loving, faithful, and loyal as puppy dogs to each other. (I shouldn’t have gotten so mad when we were kids and they called it puppy love. Puppies have some great qualities that make love work. And let’s face it, licking someone’s face can’t hurt!)

Our marriage isn’t as wild or heart fluttering as some of the romances of my youth; yet, it is so much more. It’s grounded, real, there for me—and something I would never trade for another one of those high adventures. We say, “I like you” almost as often as “I love you.” We are friends and family to each other.

Thanks to Hollywood, we are sold a bill of goods on what love is. To be truly happy, we have to stop making relationship “our everything” and become more realistic in our expectations. Fulfillment is your job, not your partner’s, although s/he may be part of what makes you happy. Love has many forms, and it’s probably the most important aspect of life where we shouldn’t put all our cookies in one basket. Imagine the pressure of being someone’s everything! No wonder the starry-eyed get dumped.

Sometimes we don’t even know it when real love is staring us in the face. Good example: If you caught the recent PBS Masterpiece Classics version of Jane Austen’s Emma. Who did Emma end up with? I’ll avoid a spoiler in case you haven’t seen it yet and still want to—but you can be sure it wasn’t the most exciting guy by Hollywood standards, but rather the one she never realized she had slowly but surely fallen in love with. It was predictable from the earliest scenes, yet fascinating to watch unfold. How many of us are missing someone right under our noses?

Speaking of noses, taking your rose-colored glasses off yours, now and then, might be the best thing you could ever do to find true love. This is especially true as you become more mature and more in touch with what makes life joyful. Take notice of people with similar values, looking in the same direction. Just be yourself and go places where you can meet people automatically, instead of in a contrived way. Awaken to those dynamic laws of attraction mentioned in Your Cosmic Tractor Beam. If you do, attracting the right person for you will be nearly inevitable. Less longing, more living. Dating services work for some people, I suspect in direct proportion to honesty and self-knowledge.

And when you know yourself that well, you’re on your cosmic beam. Love would have happened anyway, regardless of the mechanics.

JuliaAna gave permission to share her name and e-mail excerpt.

** Links to essence manufacturers are made on first mention only.

Photo Credit: HAPPY COUPLE IN THEIR 50'S Creativest...

Blog Comment Contest! Don’t forget to comment for entry into this week’s comment contest for Valentine's month. Comments on any post qualify according to the guidelines in the announcement. Need how-to on commenting? Click on The Cosmos Comments. This is the final week, and the prize is an autographed copy of Capital Crimes: 15 Stories by Sacramento Area Authors. It includes Joyce’s story, “Digital,” which provides the comic relief.

Winner of Week 3 Comment Contest: Congratulations to Dänna Wilberg of the Sacramento area. Dänna commented on the post, Love from Both Sides: An Interview with author Stephanie Riseley. Dänna’s prize is a copy of  the e-book, The Training Tape. Week 3 ran from Feb. 15 -21. BTW, Dänna also has a story in the Capital Crimes anthology, next week's grand prize.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Super Stitches

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

I’m not that superstitious. I accentuate the positive and avoid giving back luck and bad vibes any more energy than they deserve—when I can pull off, that means none. I also know how to protect myself from a spiritual perspective, and in general, I feel safe.

My Vedic astrologer says I have what’s tantamount to a good luck charm in my chart. Another friend insists I have what she calls magic dust. If she’s right, most of my magical powers are about as innocuous as Samantha’s on “Bewitched.” That said, I actually think black cats are good omens, and I barely wince when I break a mirror. I do admit, even though Mom is long gone; I still get a little nervous on sidewalks when I step on cracks.(“You’ll break your mother’s back!”) Most of my reactions to the tried-and-true jinxes and ‘stitions are lukewarm … except for one that’s red hot. The two-dollar bill.

Speaking of Mom, I inherited this superstition from her. Like my fear of water, I was always highly susceptible to transfer of my mom’s fears. I’m sure this speaks to the depth of our bonding and psychic cords.

There’s a doozy of a story about why two-buck bills gave her the creeps. Her telling of it was so vivid; I feel like I actually witnessed the incident.

My brother Don and our cousin Lee, close-in age-cousins who got in a lot of trouble together as kids, were on some excursion in the 1940s when they were young men in their late teens. They were on joy ride in the country when they parked beside a lookout point with a great view. They were leaning against the car having a smoke. All of a sudden, there was a miniscule movement. Before they knew it, they had barely caught their balance before going over the cliff with the car. One of them had not engaged the brake.

Don was carrying a two-dollar bill at the time. This unusual denomination became Mom’s personal demon, and she would never carry one again. She blamed the bill on her son and nephew’s near-death experience. Frankly, I thought the fact that they were saved was cause to celebrate. If the two-buck bill was anything, it was their good luck charm. Still, annihilating a vehicle isn’t exactly a good day …

… but none of this reason would ever erase this deeply imbedded family folklore from my mind. The two-dollar bill is so rare; I have hardly ever had to face how it turns me into a blithering idiot on sight.

I hadn’t seen one for years until one arrived in the mail for an advertising promotion. Time or People Magazine? Who knows—or cares. All I knew was that a two-dollar bill had wormed its way into my house, and now I had to do something to get rid of it.

I’ll confess outright; I was afraid to put it in my wallet and drive anywhere with it. Irrational, silly, superstitious—whatever you call it, I cop to them all. No way, no how were that bill and I traveling together in a moving vehicle.

I pondered it for a long time. I wanted to do something useful with the $2, but I didn’t want to evoke the Demon of the Two-Dollar Bill. I considered sending it to my niece or nephew in their Valentine, but if the demon got loose, that might harm them. Out of the question. At some point, I realized that if I couldn’t drive with it on me, the farthest I could go with it would be to walk it to the mailbox. This meant passing it onto someone through the US mail. How could I send it to good and avert disaster?

 While I continued to contemplate this dilemma, I got to thinking about my bamboo plant in my Money Corner (good Feng Shui for wealth) and my Greek glass eye to ward off evil … and how comforted I feel by having a Holly plant near my front door, good for protection. I was starting to think, just maybe, that I’d have to revise my self-assessment about not being very superstitious.

One day it just came to me; give it to Haiti relief. The poor Haitians already had all the bad luck anyone could hold for this season of their collective lives. I didn’t see how it could possibly harm further people who were already devastated. I looked up a list of charities collecting money to help the Haitians rebuild their communities. I sent the $2 to Mercy Corps. I’m sure the word “mercy” in and of itself would erase any bad juju and the $2 would be blessed by a wonderful organization that has provided humanitarian relief around the world since 1979.

Now that I’ve handled that unbidden two bucks, I couldn’t help but wonder. Does this mean I have to give up drinking two-buck Chuck?*


*For those unfamiliar with it, two-buck Chuck refers is wine sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s from Charles Shaw Winery at $1.99 per bottle. My favorite it the Shiraz. Hard to believe how good it is for the price!

Photo Credits: TWO DOLLAR BILL © Savone
EVIL EYE (AMULET) © Eliferen

Comment Prompt: What are your superstitions? Like mine, do they leave you in stitches when you really think—and laugh—about them?

Blog Comment Contest! Don’t forget to comment for entry into this week’s Valentine’s Month comment contest. Comments on any post qualify according to the guidelines in the original announcement. Need a how-to on commenting? Click on The Cosmos Comments.

Winner of Week 2 Comment Contest: Congratulations to Pop Art Diva of Southern CA who won a copy of my e-book, The Training Tape, in the Valentine’s Month comment contest. Week 2 ran from Feb. 8-14. Comment this week for another opportunity to win!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine’s Day ~ A New Vision

I can barely remember those bags full of colored Valentines that I exchanged with my grammar schoolmates, but I certainly remember the feeling. I was all tingly with crushes on boys. I couldn’t wait to blush and fat-pencil an anonymous note to the latest objects of my affection. Some people are late bloomers; I was precocious when it came to romance and its rush. I already had my eye in a guy in the first grade—OK, maybe way before that in the sandbox! I’m not sure, if this is typical or if I was a budding Lolita …

… but I’ve heard from my friends with young children that teachers now handle this exchange with the utmost sensitivity. Parents are asked to have their children send a Valentine to each student if they swap ‘tines. This makes a lot of sense to me for avoiding hurt feelings and for its underlying premise. There's something lovable about everyone you know, and Valentine’s is the Day to tell him or her.

Enlarging Love

While Valentine’s Day and the sweet cards also known as Valentines originally focused on romantic love, despite its starry-eyed history, this holiday has evolved to encompass all kinds of love. This may be as much a product of Hallmark advertising as opening our hearts. Either way, I vote for it! I send Valentines to special friends, relatives, and anyone I feel close to. The key is intimacy, affection, or the willingness to express appreciation.

I want to focus on the last concept—using Valentines to express appreciation. I had an experience once that feels similar to the teachers who ask that the children in their classes send a Valentine to everyone. At first, it may not sound like a story about Valentines of appreciation, but I’ll tell it because it shows they come in many forms.

In the early ‘80s, I was chair of the holiday entertainment committee in my wild and wacky office, comprised at the time mostly of 20- and 30-somethings who really liked to party. We put together a take-off on the Oscars. Our agency was relatively small—75 people tops. Since our work was in waste management and recycling, our “Oscar” was a gold painted tin can on a wooden base with Oscar the Grouch on the front, stuffed with paper “trash.” The fun was in the slide show. (Remember life before PowerPoint?) We must have had 20 or more Oscar categories. It came to me that this was our chance to include everyone. We made the decision that every person on staff would be nominated in one of the categories, even if each category had only one winner. We got a chance to show our affection for everyone by “roasting” him or her in a playful way, and it was hilarious! Often the reasons for the nominations were so appreciative of their uniqueness and funny, our colleagues could truly say, as do “real” Oscar nominees, “It was an honor just to be nominated.”

Toastmaster Valentines

Another place I exchange “Valentines” regularly is at my Toastmasters club. As is the tradition of Toastmasters, each speaker has an evaluator to give immediate feedback—both kudos and suggestions for improvement—after each speech. We’ve added something extra—the Valentine. This is a note of a line or two saying what we liked about each speaker’s presentation. I treasure mine. I keep them all! On a blue day, I dip into my Valentine’s box to read this warm ‘n’ fuzzy feedback.

Colleague Valentines

One year, one of my colleagues I have known for years cut out little hearts. She gave one to each member of our team with a note saying what she appreciates about us. I’ll never forget the thoughtfulness of it and the “warm flash” I got reading that she admires my writing skills. We like our spouses or partners to say, “I love you” often, but this goes for our friends and associates, too. This idea probably wouldn’t work in all offices, but our close working relationship in a predominately-female environment was an atmosphere where it felt totally appropriate. If your office has the qualities where you could “pull this off,” consider starting this great tradition—or the Toastmaster’s Valentine after your workmates give a major speech or other type of presentation.

Forget the Other Winter Holiday Cards—Send Valentines

I am posting this piece near the middle of February. I have still not sent most of my Christmas/ Solstice/ Chanukah cards with my annual newsletter. Of course, I’ll still send them as I can—late with apologies.

Like many people, I tend to forget what I learn. It’s the human psyche’s urge to forget what’s painful like childbirth or the criminal neglect of being unable to get it together to send a greeting card to a list of people you treasure once a bloody year. I had this great epiphany a few years ago. Why send the annual news at ChrismaSolstiChanuzaa, when you’re losing your mind from stress and a To Do List that looks longer than Santa’s checklist for all the children in the world?

I managed to pull it off once—sent my update newsletter in summer. Not only does it avoid the winter holiday rush. It makes your correspondence stand out. It’s not being read and barely absorbed by people who are holidazed, bloated, and maybe even brain dead.

In my embarrassment, (the cards and letters have been ready to go since just after Thanksgiving!), I am revisiting the idea again of sending off-cycle with Hallmark. Why not Valentine’s cards and an annual Valentine’s update? All people need is a little two-liner about why you appreciate them in a simple heart along with your general holiday letter. I bet your friends and family will treasure them as much as I do my short-but-sweet Toastmaster ‘tines.

Hug Your Honey, Create Traditions of Your Own

Back to romance and the beginnings of the St. Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a relationship, do you have a special ritual for this day? Tim and I had a late lunch at the Red Lobster in Dallas when we were first getting back together after decades apart. We have eaten lunch at a Red Lobster every Valentine’s Day since then. It’s a simple thing, but it reminds me of a line from a‘70s pop poet:

“Love is a season and holidays like signposts mark the time.” ~ Rod McKuen

Dinner at Red Lobster is a signpost, a sweet ritual of déjà food that takes us back each time to the wonder of our reconnection.

Not Currently in a Relationship?

Then this is your time to hug yourself. The best relationships with others evolve from good self-esteem and self-love.

You can create your own love and appreciation rituals that will increase your magnetism and feelings of being OK “either way,” whether you’re in a relationship or not. (Getting to that wonderful place often precedes finding Mr. or Ms. Right, since you are attracted more out of want than need.)

Ideas: spa day, writing yourself a Valentine’s list of everything you appreciate about yourself, having a makeover in the cosmetics department of your favorite fancy department store, taking a day off, writing and delivering your own Valentine’s of appreciation to others. Yes, it’s for them, but you’ll feel like a million bucks! Plus, you’ll see a bunch of people you love, even for just a few minutes, on Love Day.

The best idea I have ever encountered of this kind is a ritual in a book by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK), Transformation Soup. It’s a ritual for marrying yourself. No kidding! We did this ceremony together in my small women’s spirituality circle, and it was a potent reminder that all good connections emanate, first, from our relationship with ourselves. Since it’s copyrighted material, I can’t share the details here—but I encourage you, if interested, to check out SARK’s book and go for it! It’s on page 37 under the header, Being Your Own Partner.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Wishing much warmth to all our Cool Insighters, and as the old song goes—most of all, I wish you love.


Photo Credit: Funny © Olga Shchoukina

Blog Comment Contest! Don’t forget to comment for entry into this week’s comment contest for Valentine's month. Comments on any post qualify according to the guidelines in the announcement. Need how-to on commenting? Click on The Cosmos Comments.

Winner of Week 1 Comment Contest: Congratulations to Marie of Lake Tahoe who won a copy of my e-book, The Training Tape, in the Valentine’s Month comment contest. Week 1 ran from Feb. 1-7. Comment each week this month for another opportunity to win!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Cosmos Comments!

Dear Readers,

As you know, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights is all about noticing the cosmic hints all around us. Same goes for my other blog, The Radical Virgo. I got two of those hints in one day this week. Readers reported having technical difficulties making comments on blog posts. They were eager to do so because of the current comment contests running on blogs.

This was a revelation to me! I thought comments were a little sparse of late because people were shy to “talk” on the public wall. It had never occurred to me that another reason might be that they didn’t know how to do it. Another hint I had in the same 24-hour period was two people dear to me sharing their challenges with technology. I admit it; I tend to forget something was originally difficult once I’ve mastered it. Thinking back on it, I was all thumbs myself a couple of years ago, when I made my first comment on a post. I was also mentally muddled on how it worked and how to do it.

I’m grateful that the atmosphere of my online community is warm and friendly enough that readers felt comfortable e-mailing me and letting me know they were having difficulties. To help you join the Comment Contest and to help all readers in the future, I’m posting these directions and will leave a link to them at the bottom of each post. These refer to Blogger, the software I use to publish my blogs. (That means any blog where blogspot is part of the URL, such as The directions will vary slightly on other blogging programs.

How to Comment on Blogger

1. At the bottom of the post on which you want to comment, there will be a number and the word Comments, such as 0 Comments (if you’re the first to comment), 2 Comments, etc. Click on Comments and it’ll take you to the page to enter your comment.

2. Write your comment in the Leave A Comment box.

3. Next, Choose an Identity. This is where I think people are most likely to get confused.

   a. If you have a Google account (, it’ll automatically default to this choice (the dot will be filled in) and Blogger will “know” who you are, if you’re signed into your e-mail at the time. Optional: If you want to be e-mailed when there are additional comments on the post, other than the one you are making, check the box below Your Name (Google account).

   b. Open ID. If you don’t know what it is, don’t click this choice. It’s a way to have a universal ID and pic online where you’re recognized across many types of blogging programs and websites.

   c. Name/URL. This will be the choice for most people. Click on this dot if you want to leave your name and/or a website or blog name. Leaving a website URL is optional.

   d. Anonymous. If you want to comment anonymously, click this dot and your comment will appear with the name Anonymous.

4. Click the blue PREVIEW button, if you want to preview your comment before you send it with an option to edit it if you want changes.

5. Click the orange PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT button when you’re done and ready for it to be published.

Your comments are forwarded to me for review, and I have the option to publish or reject them. I only reject comments that are advertising or objectionable in content, such as personal attacks or anything mean-spirited or negative to a degree that I don’t want that energy to be part of the atmosphere of my blogs. So far, I have never had to reject a comment, except for a few instances of people using Comments for the sole purpose of advertising a product.

Now that I’ve seen the light about giving directions for people new to commenting, I’m delighted to know that the contests can be a vehicle to “open a new window, open a new door” for some of you, as it says in that wonderful song from the musical version of Auntie Mame (my heroine).

Hoping to hear more from you,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

“Always Be Yourself”

In high school, Bonnie Fox and I thought we were the new Rogers & Hammerstein. We worked on our own version of High School Musical, the first students to contribute a completely original song, both music and lyrics, to our annual variety show. I was the lyricist; Bonnie played piano and composed music completely by ear.

I was in awe of her talent. Not just that, she came from the most musical family I’ve ever met. Her parents were a handsome couple, always out doing some community theater gig. Each of their five children was gifted musically. I felt like a dunce with two left thumbs because I could only play the piano by reading music. Ironically, Bonnie admired this skill I had that she lacked.

Mr. and Mrs. Fox inspired me in more ways than I’d ever imagined at the time. Bonnie taught me one of their soft shoe numbers. I don’t remember much about the dance, but I’ll never forget the lyrics to an original number in one of their shows:

Always be yourself.
Don’t be a fraud ‘cause no one buys it.
More people ought to realize it,
So always be yourself!

Honest to a fault, I’ve never had much problem with authenticity. But there are other things that creep into our ethical struggles, especially if we “live” on the Internet. The name of my ongoing struggle as a writer and blogger is Image.

Last fall, I had new photos taken. It was a fun day in the Capitol Park Rose Garden in Sacramento, especially since my photographer, Roni Java, is a friend. Her affection for me showed as she made me work to show my best with lots of sweet words of encouragement. She took tons—I mean, tons of pictures. My smile muscles still hurt!

Out of more than 60 shots, with my husband Tim looking over my shoulder at the computer, we both knew instantly the one that would be my new public face and “avatar” on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. We both chimed in simultaneously, “That’s it!”

I’ll be honest; it’s one where I look the youngest and most vital, where the fewest wrinkles and other telltale signs of aging show. More than that, I think we both loved how it captures my goofy grin, sense of mischief, and my love of beauty. Who could resist a peach and coral colored rose? Especially a Venus Girl?

There’s nothing like a photo shoot to bring you in close contact with your feelings about your image. I admit I have issues with vanity, but I’d like to think they’re not over the top. Everyone needs to do this now and then, if only to ask yourself why you love the picture you choose. It will be revealing. I found out: I want you to know that beauty and fun are the roses of my life … but I suspect you’ve already figured that out yourself. For me, this photo also provides a visual affirmation to remind my inner workaholic to take time to smell the roses.

This picture is as close to the real me as I’ve seen captured in a long time. Or is it just the me I want you to know?

It’s not every single facet of me, but it’s most of me—and it’s me shining. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Treat yourself to a new photo this Valentine’s season. It’s a way to love yourself, and if there are flashbulbs involved, they’ll help you let out your Light Within.


Photo Credit: © Roni Java Photography

Blog Comment Contest! Don’t forget to comment for entry into this week’s Valentine’s Month comment contest. Comments on any post qualify according to the guidelines in the announcement. Need how-to on commenting? Click on The Cosmos Comments.