I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1)

[[Spring must be in the air…at least in the northern hemisphere…because we received eleven (11!) requests for mating advice (selection, attraction, attachment, recognition, adornment, …) in the past few days. That’s a bit of a record for us. I think it’s due to the longevity of our (Susan and my) relationship (and it took lots of work).

Anyway, I sent people copies of blog posts I wrote a while ago when this blog was on another platform. We’re resurrecting them here – there’s seven total – one per day over the next week or so and just in case there’s other folks out there looking for love in all sorts of places.

Enjoy!]]

Ladies, do you enjoy hearing your partner talk? Sing? Hum?

There’s something to be said for whether you do or don’t. You do: chances are you’ve found your life long mate. You don’t: chances are your relationship won’t last much more than…well…than a few matings if that long.

It seems that females are more sensitive to their “family” sounds than males are (generally speaking, of course). The best example of this is the mother who can hear and isolate her child’s cry of distress amongst all the sounds of all the activity of a public playground.

Well, this auditory sensitivity extends to life-partners and would-be life-partners, too. Women tend to bond more closely with males whose voices are a natural harmonic of their own.

Natural harmonic?

Can you imitate your partner’s voice really well? Not just the way they talk or the words they use, but the actual tone of their voice? Can they do the same with yours? Congratulations, your voices are probably natural harmonics of each other. You may not be exactly an octave apart (musically speaking) and chances are you’re either close or a multiple of it or some musical interval of it (a third, a fifth, a seventh, no diminished chords, no augmented chords, et cetera).

There are lots of reasons this sensitivity leads to long term relationships; hearing our own “voice” makes us comfortable and puts us at ease, it demonstrates acceptance by the group, things like that. The cognitive and sociologic factors are numerous, really, and seem to play across cultures.

So the next time you’re in a meeting and you find yourself mildly interested or a little attracted to someone speaking, listen carefully…you probably are, anyway.


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Intention, Part 2 – Living with Intention


This post is a follow up to Intention.

I’ve been living with intention for four years now.

Correct that: I have been living with conscious intention for four years now.

Or correct that: I have consciously been living…

I have been consciously living…

The above are not edits, these are attempts to use language to describe what I do not yet have language for. Each sentence has a slightly different meaning, each slightly different meaning fails to reveal the whole that I mean.

Living with Intention is challenging. The challenge is both frustrating — when I allow it to be — and rewarding — when I allow it to be. Living with Intention is the razor’s edge Maugham wrote about, me thinks.

Part of living with intention means slowing myself down to the point that the universe stops moving around me. Or maybe moving so quickly that I move with the universe, hence remain fixed in it. Phrased differently, Living with Intention means recognizing that you are a verb and can only become a noun through effort.

I pay more attention to what I eat. I pay more attention to my eating. I take time to savor whatever goes in my mouth (and whatever comes out). I find that paying attention to the tastes allows me to taste more of them, to become aware of subtleties that I didn’t know were there yet obviously were, waiting for me to experience them.

As my awareness expands, my calmness grows. I find myself more restful while being readier (for anything) than I’ve ever been before (that I remember, anyway).

I discover selves I no longer need or can comfortably use. I thank them for their efforts and invite them to rest.

I’m now 61 years old, I was taught these things in my teens and early twenties and I’m just beginning to understand that it was Living with Intention that my teachers were talking about.

I practice guitar differently now than I did…even months ago. Once the recognition of intention is made, it grows and encompasses everything. At least for me. Practicing (anything) was a chore at some times, an obligation. “I have to practice x minutes/hours each day.”

For whom? That’s the question Living with Intention causes me to ask now.

I focus more on the individual movements of my fingers. The movements become natural, fluid, far faster, more elegant than they were in the past. I laugh at my mistakes (that alone takes practice). Recognizing that they’re simply mistakes comes from living with intent.

I recognize that I’ve lost my focus when things frustrate me. I remind myself, slow down. Relax. Learn what the frustration comes from. Deal with that, not with this. This is the agent that reveals. Thank it, go on, continue.

Relationships take both less and more work. I question my motives for interacting with people, both as individuals and as groups. I don’t question their motives, only my own. In questioning my own motives, in understanding my own goals, I realize and understand theirs more clearly, more cleanly, more obviously, more quickly and easily than I did before.

I question more because questioning more leads to more understanding. And questioning. my own. What is my goal with them? What is my desired outcome? Do I want to be friends? Am I capable of friendship? Is that person capable of reciprocating in a way that I’ll be satisfied with the exchange? Did they fail or did I set them up for failure by creating an expectation they couldn’t meet? What shall I do if I recognize that this relationship will never be what I want it to be? And then recognize it’s easier to end that relationship than continue being dissatisfied with the interactions.

Because I’m paying attention more, because I’m doing things consciously and that means more and more of what I do becomes non-conscious.

But part of Living with Intention involves becoming more aware of what I do non-consciously, discovering which of my behaviors are in conflict with my desires and why and what I can do to resolve those conflicts.

I exercise differently. I’m more aware of my movements, of my limits, my goals shift, my reasons for exercising become more self-directed than other-directed.

And I learn to be increasingly honest with myself. Even when self-honesty, the necessary sister of self-realization, hurts.

Learning to be a noun means learning to be a gerund because there are times when the energy around you is different from (unequal to?) your own and you must match it before you can work with it. Intentionally.

Writing this, I recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I focus my intention on what is obvious to me because the obvious is easiest to recognize, but “the obvious” means “the surface” that I haven’t integrated into myself such that it exists and is unknown, unrecognized.

It is the unknown, the unrecognized, that truly requires my focus, my intention, because the unknown and unrecognized that are parts of who I am are the most blessingful and dangerous to both myself and others, hence I must work to understand them and their purpose to both myself and others if I and others are to grow from them.


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Eliana’s GiveAway

The most recent NextStage Irregular shared the anthropologic and cultural meaning of the GiveAway ceremony, the rituals associated with it and how it is used and misused in modern commerce.

Putting that email together, I was reminded of a story from another phase of my life that very much involved The GiveAway and is a demonstration of how much personal meaning and power it can have in our lives. Before reading the rest of this post and assuming you haven’t read the above mentioned newsletter, let me share the following:

GiveAways are marked by what is exchanged, usually something which was and may still be very special and/or has meaning to you, and is something which you’re willing to move beyond. Traditionally GiveAways involve exchanging something very important, something we are hesitant to give away, yet something we know we must part with in order for something else to come to us.
This can’t be something we give away then take back. Most importantly for rewarding or gifting people in commerce settings, we must give away something that we know has value to everyone involved. Again traditionally, this meant GiveAways involved exchanges of symbolic or real power, symbolic or real value, symbolic or real information, and there’s always an exchange involved.

During a training session, a student, Eliana, carefully, almost religiously, placed a small, well worn, red-velvet pouch tied with an equally old, faded red ribbon in my palm. Once there, it felt heavier than I would have thought and I realized there was something inside. She was making this pouch, the ribbon and whatever was inside her offering in a GiveAway that only involved me.

We had been studying GiveAway ceremonies and rituals for some time but this came as a surprise to me.

Once the pouch was in my hand, Eliana stared into my eyes for a moment then returned her gaze to the pouch, ribbon and whatever was hidden within still lying in my open palm. She asked me to open the pouch for her. The pouch was only closed with that old ribbon which looked like it would split if you simply breathed on it. I was unsure of her offering although I knew I could trust her because mutual trust and honoring are part of GiveAways.

But still I was confused and she must have sensed that. “I can’t. I can’t let it escape,” she said.

That really confused me. Whatever was in the pouch wasn’t moving and didn’t seem alive.

“Do you know what it is?” she asked me.

I felt the form hidden in the pouch, touching it softly, gently and respectfully. “Some kind of horse,” I said. “With a crown, I think.”

“It’s a unicorn.”

“Ok. You can’t open it because it’ll escape and I can open it? Are you sure you want me to open it?”

She started crying before she could answer. The sobs were coming from deep, wracking her body as she released some very deep energy that she’d carried for a very long time.

“This is a very important to you. A memory of some kind and you’ve managed to put it in one place, to tie it up, to bind it so it can’t hurt you any more, to put a noose around it and keep it and you safe. I’ll accept your gift and I won’t open it until you’re sure you want whatever this represents set free.”

She looked at the pouch in my hand. “Do you know what the memory is?” she asked.

“No,” I answered and that’s when the story, the reason she was studying with me and the meaning of the pouch, came out.

Eliana had been sexually abused as a child. Every time her father sexually abused her he would go out and buy her a unicorn. Through the years she’d given away all the unicorns except this one. Her father stopped abusing her when she had her first period and this was the last unicorn he’d given her.

The symbolism of the unicorn bound in the red pouch was astounding and nothing she ever intended. It simply was.

Through all the training and work we’d done she was finally able to give-away, to release all that energy. This was a very important thing to her, a very important memory. She was ready to give it away, ready to move beyond.

And then she said, “I need you to open it. You won’t let it hurt me. I trust you not to let it hurt me.”

GiveAways are exchanges and Eliana was giving me an incredible gift. Now it was time for me to offer a return.

“Let’s open it together. I’ll hold the pouch, you untie the ribbon and let the unicorn out. The moment you feel that the unicorn is going to hurt you again, I’ll close my hand so it won’t escape.”

She nodded and again was crying, releasing all the agony that had been held by her throughout the years. Sobbing and rocking, she untied the ribbon and pulled a beautiful, tiny carousel-style unicorn out of the pouch.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. Eliana nodded.

“You released all that energy, Eliana. It no longer has power over you. You’re free. And beautiful.”

There were some stains on the unicorn and she used her tears to wash them away, then placed the unicorn back in its pouch, tied the ribbon back up and curled my fingers over it.

“Thank you,” she said.

I still have that red pouch, the unicorn back inside, and haven’t opened it since.

Eliana’s GiveAway was an incredible healing because that’s what giving it away was, a statement that the last of that pain no longer had a place in her life while recognizing it had been important to her life.

To her the red pouch, ribbon and unicorn within were a symbol of abuse and pain. There was incredible emotional power and energy there. But power is simply power. There’s no good or bad, there simply is. So what she gave me was incredible power and, in Giving it Away, she utilized that power as incredible healing by releasing herself from it’s hold.

What Eliana was actually gifting me with was trust. My gift was honoring that trust.


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Intention


[[this was posted originally on 11 May 2012 to the old ThatThinkYouDo blog. I’m resurrecting it here for some friends.]]

I’ve been studying people who are “living with intention” for about twenty-five years now. Originally I found them due to my cultural anthropology studies. Now I’m finding a few of them in the modern world.

“Living with intention?” you ask. “What does that mean, exactly?”

Hmm…the simple answer is “Living with Intention means paying attention to everything you do” and that’s so weak, so minimal, that only a western trained mind would offer it, so I apologize.

It means being in the moment…while appreciating (not quite, not exactly. English is limited in its ability to express this concept. Or I am limited in my ability to express this concept)…feeling?…every moment that came before you and will come after you.

It means doing whatever you’re doing as if it the fate of the universe hung in the balance…while being able to laugh at yourself regardless of the outcome.

It means focusing all your attention on each individual task…while being aware of everything else that’s going on around you (and recognizing that “around you” can be very, very big).

It means taking complete and ultimate joy in everything you do…while understanding it may be the last thing that you do.

It means being aware of everything going on around, in and through you each and every moment…and being at peace with it — not necessarily enjoying it or hating it, just being at peace with it, accepting it (because there’s a difference between liking something and accepting something).

And this list gets longer and longer and longer the more I attempt to put into words what can only happen deep inside the individual (because part of intention is being able to keep two completely opposite thoughts in your mind simultaneously, penecontemporaneously).

As one of my teachers said to me, “I can help you find your door. Only you can open your door and walk through. But walking through, there’s no walking back.”

Brushing your teeth. Pay attention to what you’re doing. To how you’re doing it. Be aware of the feel of the brush in your hand and the bristles on your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste and the brush’s movement on your gums and … and be so aware of the fact that you’re doing all this that it becomes a game to you, something to delight in, something to rejoice in, something to be thankful for, to be prayerful about.

But those last words imply something religious and nothing about being intentful is religious. Sufis live with intent but sufism isn’t religious in philosophy, only as it is practiced by some.

Some will read this and think, “Oh, Zen,” and while lots of zen practitioners live with intent the former doesn’t imply the latter. Some will think “Oh, Yin Yang” and to think that demonstrates not knowing, a lack of understanding.

Some of the people I’ve studied have been Catholic, some Baptist, some Lutheran, some Evangelical, some Jewish, some agnostic, some pagan, some aboriginal, some Sufi, some shamanic, some Hindi, some Muslim, some native american, some Buddhist, some …

I have noticed commonalities. Regardless of anything else, they’re all remarkable listeners. They’re all remarkably patient, kind and giving. They all have incredible boundaries. They’re self-aware in ways most people can’t imagine.

Imagine kissing someone simultaneously passionately and casually, kind of like kissing your partner when you see each other, a gentle “hello I missed you today” kiss, yet having all your feelings about that person, all your desires and hopes for them, all your wanting of them, delivered in that little, possibly public kiss.

I’m writing this and recognizing that I could be writing this with intention, too.

Everything slows down. I focus on each word, each phrase, each expression. I recognize what’s important before I type the words themselves.

I focus on what I’m doing so I can also focus on what you’re doing. Will you slow down? Will you read with intent?

When you wake up tomorrow, will your first thoughts be that the day is yours, completely yours, to do with what you will, truly Carpe Diem and that your first thoughts dictate whether you seize the day or the day seizes you?

I have been practicing living with intent. It’s not easy for me. I screw up quite a bit and blame it on this modern world. Yet I know others who are living intentionally and are in this same modern world I am in; they’re not living in communities where everyone is devoted to intentional living and each person helps each other person live intentionally.

For myself, the moments when I do it are like the best physical exercise — a definite sense of exertion along with a sense of fulfillment, of well being, of peace. An endorphin rush for the mind, emotions and spirit.

Living with intention takes commitment. And acceptance. I accept that my mistakes are merely part of appreciating my commitment to living with intention. From those I study I know that the recognizable commitment fades because the commitment becomes part of the intent.

Where does a wise person hide a pebble? On a beach. Where does a wise person hide a leaf? In a forest.


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Truth Be Told

[[Another resurrected post referenced in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation.]]

A friend and I recently got into a conversation on the nature of truth. I was taking notes and the conversation took an unexpected path. Reviewing my notes, I asked if I could share what was said and he consented.

Fair warning; what follows is not light reading.


I learned about the price of truth when I was a kid. A child, probably. Before I was ten, anyway.

My dad was in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, I think. He started yelling. He yelled a lot. If he wasn’t yelling, he was making fun of us or telling us we were stupid.

Anyway, he yelled for my sister and me to come. My sister is older than me by five years. She got there first. He was standing by the sink, pointing at a glob of toothpaste in the sink.

Truth be told, I don’t even remember what it was. I think it was some toothpaste.

I do remember he stood over us and pointed at whatever it was and asked who left that there.

My sister said she didn’t do it. “Who did?” I don’t know, she said.

He looked at me. “Did you do that?”

No, dad. I didn’t.

“Well, you’re the only two in the house. I didn’t do it and I know your mother didn’t do it, so who didn’t do it if neither of you did it?”

To fully get this you have to flashback to when I was about 1-2 years old. My room was on the top floor of our house, down a hall from my parents’ room. Halfway between was a staircase downstairs and downstairs was my sisters’ room. I have two sisters, both older than me.

So one night I woke up and wanted to go see my sisters. I don’t know why. Who knows what a kid does at 1-2 years old? So I got up, turned on the hall light and got to the top of the stairs.

Well, my father came rushing out of his room, my mother close behind, and he lifted my up by my right arm. He began hitting my behind. Not tapping, not even lightly slapping. This was a full grown man holding me up by my arm and smacking my backside so hard I was rocking back and forth like a pendulum in a bad clock.

I started screaming, my mother started screaming, I could hear my sisters screaming, and my father is still yelling at me “Where are you going? You get back in your bed! Where are you going? You get back in your bed!” with each tick of the clock.

And I started to pee. Maybe that’s why I got up, maybe I needed to pee and wanted my sisters to get the potty seat for me, I don’t know.

But I started to pee and I’m making a puddle on the floor and my father’s really bellowing now and he shouts at the top of his lungs “Did you do that?”

And I’m crying and I’m screaming and there’s more tears coming out of my eyes than there’s piss on the floor and I’m swinging by my arm and I’ve bitten my lip swinging back and forth and I can’t stop pissing and I’m screaming back at him, “No No No No NO” and looking back it was stupid, of course. I was pissing right there on the floor in front of him, so now he calls me a liar and if you thought he was having at me before, you didn’t know my dad. He use to beat me with a rubber hose he got when he installed a washer for my mother. That’s another one for you, a full grown man, strong to begin with, swinging a rubber hose at his baby kid because something didn’t go right in his god-damn day.

So I’d learned early on that no matter what happened, it would end up with me getting hit.

But this time, standing in front of the sink, our father getting louder and louder yelling at us, seeing my sister’s face get redder and redder, I basically decided fuck it. It didn’t matter.

Remember I said I had two sisters? For as long as I remember my oldest sister had this scar on her wrist, not like an attempted suicide scar, this was like a regular hospital scar and you could see where the stitches were and stuff. My parents and aunts and uncles always said my sister got bit by a goose and I always thought that was odd because we never lived anywhere near any geese. I found out years later my father had broken her arm. He’d thrown her down the stairs for some reason, before I was born, and they’d taken her to the emergency room to fix her up.

But back to the bathroom. I decided it didn’t matter. I looked at my dad and I said, “I did it.”

My sister let out her breathe.

“Why did you lie to me?”

Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I tell you the truth or if I lie. If you want to hit someone you’re going to hit someone, so it doesn’t matter and I might as well tell you the truth.

My mother was always telling people I was a deep thinker. I read a lot when I was a kid. Still do. So I’m not sure if I said it just like that, but that’s pretty much what I said.

Well, my father stared at me. I could tell he wanted to hit me but I’d told the truth and told him the other truth, that he was a bully and a bastard and it didn’t matter what the truth was, all that mattered was if he needed to hit somebody and that somebody was going to be me. I knew he wouldn’t hit my sister. She was getting older and for some reason he had real taboos about hitting a woman. I think because his father, my grandfather, use to beat the crap out of my grandmother when he was a kid. Hell, that’s probably where he learned it.

Anyway, he told me to go to my room but from then on he plotted. I think I scared him with what I said. I would catch him watching me, looking for excuses. One time I accidently emptied a box of dishwashing soap into the sink. My mother asked me to do the dishes, I said sure but I didn’t realize how loose the cover was on the box and I spilt most of it in the sink.

My dad was out in the garage working on something and not getting it fixed, so he was already frustrated all to hell and when I emptied the box, I don’t know, it was some kind of challenge to his manhood or something. I think I was ten or twelve when this happened and he backed me into a corner of the kitchen and was punching me in the stomach, in the face, he was boxing me, again a full grown, strong man punching the shit out of a kid, not holding back, punching me as if I was coming after him. I don’t know. After a few minutes he quit. I guess he was tired at that point. My eyes are black, my lips are swollen, my stomach’s aching because he’s hammered me to the point that I can’t breath.

He storms out of the kitchen, back to the garage and my mother’s patching me up. She didn’t try to stop him, oh no, but once he’s done she comes in to patch me up. She was always like that. Thank god it had already been established at school that I was a clumsy kid and always falling down stairs, over things, tripping over my own feet.

I wonder why it took so long to people become aware of child abuse sometimes. After I left home I asked my mother why she never nailed him on the back of the head with a frying pan. “He’s your father,” she said.

Oh, okay. He’s absolved.

But I’d already learned the price of truth was power, and you always get power when you tell the truth. I’m not talking about always telling the truth when you’re with friends or that kind of thing, I’m talking about telling the truth when it makes a difference.

That day in the bathroom I got power over my dad and he’s never forgiven me for it.


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