Category Archives: Being on Your Own

A Deer Message

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I have been stuck lately.  Stuck in a horrible rut of self-doubt, fear and worst of all boredom.  I have been bored with myself even – a rarity in my world.

This morning while setting up for a poolside yoga class I sometimes host at my apartment complex, I discovered a fawn stuck between the fence rails behind some lounge chairs.  The poor little thing had been struggling all night to squeeze its narrow body forward through the fence. It had rubbed the skin at its hip bones raw from the effort of trying to move forward and scrapped its forelegs to the point of bleeding trying to get momentum on the cemented pool patio with its hooves.

Fortunately, one of the fabulous maintenance guys who come to clean the pool in the morning had spent many years raising deer and when he arrives a few minutes later. He knew exactly how to handle the fawn and work with a couple of his co-workers to free it without harming it further.

The message:  Sometimes we get stuck and end up in a fruitless struggle to become unstuck by ourselves.  If we are patient, (and particularly if we ask our Higher Power), the right people will appear at the right time and help us in a way that sets us back on our path.

It is the same with the search for a life partner.  Ask. Be patient. and in the right time the right person will come into our lives.

With gratitude.

Mary

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Say Hello to the Year of Love

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Holy Cow!  I knew 2013 would be a good year for me because 213 is my lucky number- AND it was!  As I reflect on the year I see a full, amazing, productive passing of 365 days complete with sadness, joy, highs, lows, dashed dreams and dreams that came true.  I fed my spirit with a regular yoga practice, found Ayruveda, came to a place of compassion for several people who had injured me in the past, got a book writing deal, created an education program for teens and saw it come to fruition, realized my dream of working for a nonprofit in a meaningful capacity and generating an arts and culture radio show, traveled to the Grove Park Inn and Tibet, stayed in a 5 star hotel, attended many excellent live performances, spent some time in nature with my children and enjoyed many delectable meals with friends. Most importantly, I have gained a deeper sense of connecting and being connected to people, which brings me immeasurable joy.  I feel love towards and feel loved by many friends and family and it ROCKS! This is a huge accomplishment because it means that I am really recovering from the effects of having lived with an alcoholic and thus the disease of alcoholism which caused me to be so fearful and wrapped up in my own (and the alcoholic’s) stuff that I lost the ability to truly connect with people.  I feel like 2013 has been a year of relearning what love is – healthy love for myself and  others. I have found a balance in the paradox of being happy to be just me and the desire to be part of a couple.  Neither one nor the other state of being obsesses or limits me – I simply am and I am content.

Sure over the course of this year I had bouts of loneliness. I thought I had found a potential romance last new years at a yoga retreat but alas, the circumstances were unacceptable and I had to move on. There were a few nice dates and one madcap liaison which has resulted in a fun friendship. I questioned my requirements and my gut particularly after learning of the marriage of a former suitor less than a year following his divorce (Am I too picky and that is why I too am not married or dating someone regularly?) but after contemplation returned to the understanding that I am a rare and special woman who requires someone special and that is also rare. So I will just have to wait.

I am not actively looking but I am open to whoever might come along that is interesting.  I am having loads of fun with my career, family, friends and causes and I have faith that when the time is right the right man will come into my life. He will just walk right up and it will be quite clear that he is the right guy.  I am thinking 2014 will be the year this happens because I am more ready than ever since I am in a better place than I can remember.  Besides it has got to be the year of love, it is 2-14 after all- the whole year is Valentine’s Day.  What better year for romance to come in to one’s life?

As you can see I am ever the optimist but if it doesn’t happen that is OK too.  It will still be the year of love as I am sure I will continue to learn to love myself even more, opening me up to more love for others.

In closing I offer a new years wish for all of you dear readers:

I hold the vision that 2014 is the year of love and that everyone on the planet learns to love a little deeper in the next 365 days and that those seeking love partners find them with ease or better.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Do You Need A Reason For Buying Sex Toys?

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Dear Readers,

Today’s post is a contribution from Walker Thornton, a sister writer/blogger who writes about relationships also.  She has done a lot of research on the topic at hand and has graciously agreed to join in the fun for this series.  I met her while be photographed for The Eleanor Project (click here for more information), a blog dedicated to changing the perception of what is beautiful started by writer/blogger Jennifer McDonald and photographer/blogger, Terry Beigie.  To learn more about Walker and her blog, A Woman’s Page, click here.

Enjoy!

Do You Need a  Reason For Buying Sex Toys?

Sexual desire is a natural, healthy and delicious thing. Whether you’re in a relationship or single, 20 or 70—sexuality is still a vital part of who you are as a person. How you define sexuality and what you do to enhance your sex life is a personal matter.

Our culture is obsessed with sex. Yet we don’t talk about sex in a matter-of-fact, healthy way, leaving many people feeling confused or out of touch with their own feelings.

How do we learn? How do we communicate our sexual desires to a partner? And, how do we safely and comfortably incorporate a sexual practice in our lives?

This is where sex toys come in! What better way to kick start your sexual practice, solo or otherwise, into high gear than to buy a sex toy….or two.  Need a reason to buy one for yourself or a partner? I’ve got a few thoughts and justifications (as if we need a justification to feel good? ) for starting or adding to your toy collection:

  1. The experience of sexual pleasure makes us feel good. It energizes us.
  2. Sexual health is important for women of all ages, particularly women approaching menopause. As delicate vaginal tissues dry up women are more susceptible to tearing and painful intercourse.  Vaginal atrophy (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-atrophy/DS00770) is unpleasant and painful.  Sexual stimulation of any sort promotes lubrication and  helps keep vaginal tissues supple.
  3. Low sex drive? Don’t feel sexy? One of the best ways to enhance sexual responsiveness is by learning your body’s hot spots. Experiment with fingers and sex toys to discover what feels good to you. The very act of thinking about sex and expressing yourself sexually leads to heightened awareness and desire. Once you understand what turns you on, you can guide your partner to bring you both greater satisfaction.
  4. Single? A good vibrator or dildo, depending on your preference, is just as good and sometimes better than sex with a partner.  There’s no need to assume that sexual satisfaction must be tied to intimacy with another person.
  5. Both men and women benefit from bringing sex toys into the bedroom. They add a spark to your intimate moments, reviving a boring or dying sex life and are just…plain good fun.

As a woman you will enjoy better sex when you understand your body and how it responds to touch.  Many women get into the trap of assuming a man should know how to satisfy her. But, the truth is that men aren’t taught about the female anatomy. You need to know what arouses you in order to help him. Having an orgasm is not as easy and spontaneous as it looks on the movies. And, many women have never experienced one.  The key is to open yourself up to sexual pleasure—all alone—and with a partner. Using a vibrator is one way to increase your capacity for sexual satisfaction.

How Do I Know Which Sex Toy to Buy?

  • Do you want a toy for couples’ sex or for solo pleasuring? A dildo or a complex, vaginal/clitoral toy is a little cumbersome to use while you’re having sex. A small vibrator can be used in conjunction w/ fingers, tongue or penetration. Think about how you plan to use your new toy.
  • If you want to enhance your ability to have an orgasm, you might prefer one type of toy to another. Choose a toy designed to stimulate the clit.
  • If you’re new to sex toys start simple. I don’t recommend the rabbit-type toy, for example. The little rabbit ears are supposed to flutter around your clitoris, while the main shaft is inserted vaginally. Personally, this toy requires too much positioning to get the rabbit ears in the right spot—it’s distracting.

There are local sex shops and online sites where you find an array of toys. One of my favorites is Good Vibrations (link: www.goodvibes.com) . You can search their site for products, how-to articles and helpful tips. Babeland and EdenFantasys are other reputable, mainstream sites.

If you’re female, inviting your guy to shop with you for toys is pretty sexy! It can be a great way to start talking about your sex life. Guys, buying her a sexy toy would bring you both pleasure, just don’t go hardcore unless you know her preferences.

Sex toys add an exciting dimension to any sexual relationship. Use them to increase desire, as foreplay or incorporated into sex to focus on the clit, create fantasy play (think handcuffs, blindfolds), or to jazz up a lazy Sunday afternoon when you’re all alone and feeling sexy!

You might enjoy my article, A Vibrator Primer (http://www.awomanspage.com/day-22-awaken-embrace-ignite-a-vibrator-primer/ )

Inspired by The Rocky Horror Show, Again

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Dear Readers,

I started writing this story over the summer and got busy and forgot about it.  Now that I have past the anniversary of my celibacy, I decided that this topic warranted further  exploration.  I enjoyed what I wrote for the original release so I decided rather than trashing it or waiting until next summer, I would go ahead and write this little preamble and go with what I had already written.  The research is current work, however – “wink”.

Below is the story I started last summer and plan to report on in the coming weeks.

Enjoy.

 

The Cast of last summer's Rocky Horror Show at the Firehouse Theatre Project in Richmond, Va.

The Cast of last summer’s Rocky Horror Show at the Firehouse Theatre Project in Richmond, Va.

I may choose to regale you with further summer romance stories later because my history with boys of summer is a hot one.  Well, at least they were all HOT (the summers and the boys).  But for now I am going to explore a topic inspired by Jase Smith’s production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW which opens this Thursday at The Firehouse Theatre Project in Richmond, Virginia.

I was fortunate enough to be enlisted by STYLE WEEKLY to write a pre-story on the show and spend some time with Jase and Terence Sullivan (who plays Frank N. Furter in the show) and watch a rehearsal a few weeks back.  Over a delectable brunch at The Mill in Richmond’s Northside, Jase shared his vision for updating the show.  He thinks that RHS has lost some of its message as it has become more campy than shocking over the years.  So to shoot some life back into the story, he has decided to set the action in a sex club rather than a castle.  The cast costumed in S&M garb and there is a lot of bondage action going on.

The film version, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, is one of the most influential films of my life. (I know, it is such an odd choice compared to loftier pics like 8 1/2 or CITIZEN KANE  but stay with me here.)  I was a tender 15 when my RHPS cherry was popped, a place in my life where I was in great emotional conflict over my sexuality.  I attended a very uptight conservative school where the girls and boys were separated.  The big social  message in the girl’s school was “You remain a virgin until you are married or you are a slut.” and it was a battle to keep your reputation spotless in order to remain accepted by the group.

BUT…

My hormones were coursing through me like a herd of wild mustangs spooked by a coyote and I just didn’t know what to do with these intensely mixed messages.

Then

This guy I was sweet on took me to see the film.  I was instantly drawn in by the interaction of the crowd.  The theatre ran the fire sprinklers during “There’s A Light” the scene where it rains on Brad and Janet baptizing them before entering Frank’s castle.  The guy playing Eddie in the live re-enacting cast rode through the theatre on a real Harley Davidson.  And of course there was rice and toast and hotdogs and cards thrown at the appropriate times.  But the film changed my life when Brad, Janet, Rocky, Columbia and Frank end up in the pool in a pleasurable group grope all dolled up in their bustiers and fishnets and sang “Don’t Dream It, Be It”.  Those words echoed through my head and somehow sent me the message that it is OK to want sex but most importantly, it is OK to enjoy sex.

I did NOT run out and loose my virginity at that time but a switch was flipped and when the time came I was excited and guiltless about it.

The good news is that I still enjoy sex.  The bad news is that I currently lack a suitable sexual partner.  (Note: this is a statement of fact, not an invitation.)

So Jase and the Richmond RHS cast in addition to some readers have encouraged me to do a little research and learn more about what toys are available for people who are taking their sex life into their own hands so to speak.

Please know that I will be interviewing some people on this topic and reporting back what I learn – after I check with wordpress to make sure it is OK to talk about this stuff on a blog.

This could take a little time as I am working on a formidable project right now so please be patient.  In the mean time if you have any specific questions or topics you would like to suggest for research, feel free to suggest away.

Spoiling Myself: The Stunning Sound of Silence

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As part of spoiling myself for the holidays, I attended a five day silent retreat at Yogaville in Buckingham County, Virginia.  Yogaville, I am told, is the largest Ashram in the United States with 200 residents and thousands of day and retreat/workshop visitors every year.  It was founded by Swami Satchidananda who was first invited to the United States from India by the artist, Peter Max and gave the opening dedication at Woodstock.

Swami Satchidananda prescribed a spiritual path called Integral Yoga which supports the idea that there is only one Truth in the Universe but there are many paths to finding that truth.  Thus Integral Yoga embraces the celebration of all religious faiths.

I decided to go on the five day silent retreat offered at New Years for several reasons:

1. The challenge of being silent.

2. To investigate how silence would affect me.

3. To live a yogic lifestyle of holistic health as a cleansing practice for mind and body.

4. As a way of preparing for the coming year and a rebirth of sorts into the second half of my life (I will have my 50th Birthday in February).

5. Because it fit into  both me and my friend, Christina’s, schedules.

Although I was not silent for the five days (we chanted, sang and I spoke out of habit a couple of times), it was a powerful experience that I will savor.  I will blogging about it more for VIRGINIA LIVING in collaboration with an article I wrote about Mindfulness in Virginia that will be published in their March/April issue. In terms of dating here is what happened:

  • In listening to only the thoughts in my own head, I realized that it felt better to clear my mind of thoughts about dating or relationships.  I am actually able to think and respond better if I think less about the whole thing. I was much more calm.
  • Avoiding men altogether was refreshing.
  • There were two men there that intrigued me.  One was wearing a wedding ring and left before we were released from silence so I never got his name or his story.  He, Christina and I went hiking one day – without talking- and then he was like our buddy the rest of the time.  I was so curious about why he was there and what his story was but I guess I must leave it up to fate and have faith that if it is important for me to know I will get the info some how. The other man was checked out by Christina before we went into silence.  He was a teacher from another state and he was single.  I worked very hard to avoid any engagement with him during the retreat as I felt it important to keep my focus on my and to be respectful of allowing him his own reflective space.  When it was over I gave him my contact info.  Turns out his relationship situation is a little more complicated than I originally thought (Ugh!) so I guess I’ve just made another friend until there is more clarity.

I found the experience of Silence to be nurturing spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically and recommend it to anyone who would like to have some space to identify and expunge things that are no longer serving them in any/all aspects of their life and maybe plan some cool things to do next.

Other things I did in preparation for the new year:

1. Set some goals and made a “vision” plan with pictures cut out from magazines and some journaling in a special note book.

2. Shared with my children that I want to nurture and grow our bond as a family and made a plan for that.

3. Started taking some action to achieve my goals for the year.

I also continued spoiling myself  through the last day of Christmas (Jan. 6) with long walks with my dog while she was visiting, sleeping in (I spent one whole day in bed – that was truly decadent), meditating longer, shopping for myself, taking my children on a ski outing, seeing some movies, dressing a little nicer, soaking in the hot tub, baking cookies and giving them away,  making time to read books, dancing and going to see the season premier of Downton Abbey on the big screen at a local theatre.

What might you do to spoil yourself a bit today?

Hari Om and Happy New Year!

Mary

Christina and me with the LOTUS Temple of All Faiths in the background.

Christina and me with the LOTUS Temple of All Faiths in the background.

Dateless over the Holidays: Spoiling Yourself

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As previously mentioned, I am alone for the holidays.  Neither of my children is here and Stella, our dog who normally lives in Old Town Alexandria is visiting while my daughter and her father are in Mexico.  I could be bitter but instead I am doing nice things for myself- I mean, if I don’t who will?  Which is my advice for those of you who are out there by yourselves at this time of year as well.

So it is Saturday night.  Many of my friends have sent lovely farewell greetings as they jet off to the islands, New York or Europe for Christmas and/or New Years. I am pooped from shopping and indulging in too much alcohol at nightly parties for the past 10 days.  Feeling fat as I have ignored my own advice and indulged in way too many sweets and had too little exercise this past week (will make up for it at 5 day Silent Retreat at Yogaville where I will eat only very healthy vegetarian organic fare and zero refined sugar and practice yoga twice a day).

One way to spoil yourself is to prepare a great meal and enjoy it by candlelight. That may sound a big odd to some people as we usually associate candlelight dining with a romantic evening but in the absence of romantic partner we must romance ourselves. Are you really going to waist all those opportunities for nice dinners waiting for someone with whom to eat them?

So to spoil myself tonight I made myself a delicious steak (desperately needed the iron) and ate it by candlelight on my fine china along with a good glass of red wine, fake fire blazing (we have this really tacky electric fireplace in our apartment which I usually keep covered by a chest of drawers but I decided, tasteless or not to expose it for ambiance for the season), Christmas tree lit and Pandora’s Jazz Holiday’s station providing the soundtrack.

Now I will put on my comfy pajamas, brush my teeth and head upstairs to watch a holiday themed movie like “Elf” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a good costume drama like “Jane Eyre” or begin my favorite version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth and Elizabeth Ehle.

What do you like to do to spoil yourself when you are alone?

What to do While in Dating Limbo: (a new series) Eat Sweets for Breakie

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Life in dating limbo can be super horrific or absolutely fabulous depending on your outlook. Dating Limbo meaning: that space where you are refraining from dating either by choice or attrition.  If you haven’t figured it out already, I am back in dating limbo myself,  my foray into dating someone ended in short order (my therapist says I am being healthfully picky- great!  That won’t get me kissed on New Year’s Eve but whatever.) So what to do?  It is the holidays and after that I am working full time on a charity event until the end of February so I think it is best I just lay low.  But rather than whining about being dateless I have decided to take this time to focus on me.  I will have a future blog post talking about that in a bit more detail but as I do that I will be writing about it from time to time.

One thing I am excited about at anytime is food and nutrition.  Everyone knows it is important to eat right.  Eating right helps to keep one’s body functioning perfectly which in turn helps to prevent icky diseases, keeps one feeling fabulous and looking totally hot – all good things, right?

In general, I eat a pretty good diet of organic and mostly non-processed foods, take zero drugs and drink alcohol only occasionally and then I have a two drink maximum limit.   I consider this one of the keys to my excellent health.  According to my last physical examination by an MD (which would count as my last physical examination by anyone. Ugh!) I have the health of someone half my age and fairly low body fat levels even though I eat real butter and indulge in sweets on pretty much a daily basis.

So I was thrilled to read an article in the August issue of Oprah magazine (Yeah, I know I am a little behind in my reading) titled, Could the Breakfast of Weight Loss Champions Be…Dessert?  that described research demonstrating that eating sweets at breakfast is likely to help one loose weight and keep it off.  For many years I have chosen to eat my sweets by 4:00pm and preferably earlier in order to work off the calories before bedtime.  I have often enjoyed a piece of pie or a cupcake right after breakfast.  Now, in  a research study in Israel, agrees with this theory.

Here is a part of Gina Roberts-Grey’s article featuring data from a study by Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz:

In the study, two groups of overweight and obese people were instructed to consume the same number of calories daily (1,400 for women, 1,600 for men); the difference was that one group ate a modest breakfast each morning, while the other went all out with a high-calorie (600), high-carb (60 grams), high-protein (45 grams) meal that included a sugary treat. (Imagine a scramble of cottage cheese and eggs—two with the yolk, one without—on whole grain toast, an eight-ounce container of low-fat yogurt on the side, plus a fudge brownie.)

After eight months, the dessert-at-breakfast group had lost an average of 38 more pounds per person than the traditional dieters. An interesting twist occurred halfway through the study: During the first 16 weeks, both groups dropped about the same amount of weight. But over the next 16 weeks, the big-breakfast eaters continued to slim down (losing another 15 pounds) while the small-breakfast eaters gained back more than 75 percent of the weight they’d lost. Why? They’d started to cheat—which makes sense given that they reported feeling hungrier and had higher levels of the appetite hormone ghrelin.

(Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/Dessert-for-Breakfast-to-Lose-Weight#ixzz2ErKdocPJ)

YEAH!! Permission from Oprah to eat dessert at breakfast!  I am all over that!  So, I decided to try a recipe for breakfast bars that have chocolate chips in them (YUM!) called No-Bake Chocolate Almond Oat Bars. After all, eating right is part of focusing on me, taking care of myself, doing things that are good for me, right?

OMG! These bars are delicious, very east to make nutrition packed excuse to eat sweets in the AM.  Here is the recipe:

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 goji berries
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Directions

Heat honey, coconut oil, almond butter, sea salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan over low heat.

Combine chopped almonds, chopped walnuts, dark chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and rolled oats in a bowl.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Press into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan and refrigerate until hardened. Cut into 16 bars.

For more sweets in the morning from Oprah Magazine click Here.

Another favorite breakfast (eaten mostly in summer) at my house is what I lovingly call Yogini Breakfast because I learned these recipes while d0ing my yoga teacher training at Clarananda with Valma Brenton in the desert of Baja Mexico.  (For more about Valma’s offerings and her company Herizen Adventures for Women click here.) She will be releasing a cook book soon with, I believe, a picture of yours truly on the front cover.

Yogini Breakfast consists of a  Banana Chocolate Almond Smoothie and a coated rice cake.

Recipes:

Chocolate Almond Smoothie for 1

1/2 cup of plain yogurt (I use goat’s milk yogurt which I think is better for you than cow’s milk which contains casein)

1 tbls of honey (local organic if possible)

1 +1/2 cups of Chocolate almond milk

1 frozen banana

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

Yogi “Toast”

1 plain rice cake

nut butter (peanut, sunflower seed butter, cashew or almond butter)

honey (ideally local organic)

Spread nut butter over rice cake and drizzle with honey.

 

Enjoy your yogini breakfast with green tea.  I drink decaf because it suits my dosha (Ayurvedic constitution) and because caffein makes be crazy.

I think I will try the Chocolate Zucchini Bread from the Oprah magazine  article next.  Wow, I am really enjoying this focusing on me stuff!

 

PS: If you try these recipes, let me know what you think.

M