Do you ever do any soul-searching when it comes to your personal relationships? Have you had reason to question your situation? What does the ideal relationship look like to you?
Our world is full of idealized notions of what romance and relationships are supposed to look like. You see it in movies, hear it in songs, and read about it in novels.
Once in a while these stories might line up with reality, more often than not they seem beyond belief or outside of the realm of possibility altogether. One thing is for sure, when you hold your own situation up for comparison, it rarely resembles the fictional ideal.
When you talk to your friends and share your more intimate details, you probably hear platitudes like “Nobody’s perfect” or “You can work it out” or “Relationships aren’t easy.” Limiting beliefs litter the landscape of relationship advice.
Looking around your social circles of close friends and distant acquaintances, you probably see the full spectrum of possibilities, ranging from the happy couples who’ve been chirping along since their college days to the sad and terminally single spinsters and curmudgeons who exude the air of giving up. It’s a good eye-opener to occasionally evaluate where you are on the scale.
It’s no secret that having a great primary relationship is good for your health, happiness, and overall well-being. And yet it is definitely better to stick with being solo than suffering along in a less-than-loving or worse yet physically or emotionally abusive pairing waiting for things to change.
Sometimes inertia can be your worst enemy, it’s all-to-easy to keep on keeping on hoping that one day things will get better or pinning your hopes on the myth that eventually you’ll get the other person to change. (hint: they probably won’t)
Mustering the courage, support, and mental fortitude to switch things up can feel like a monumental task. Often people will toy with the idea indefinitely and then finally decide it’s too late. There’s usually strong arguments for both sides.
I’ve witnessed this first-hand in my own family. My parents were together for over 50 years, and by outside appearances checked all the boxes. Yet there was a tension under the surface that never went away. It was my Mom’s second marriage, and the circumstances weren’t easy.
I know she considered a split from time to time, but as she settled into her later years the security outweighed the difficulties, especially as her health declined. And after she passed away back in 2011 I began to see a side of my Dad that had been rarely glimpsed before.
As he mourned and settled in to his retirement community in Southern Oregon, a new kind of serenity set in. His routine is predictable, his life is quiet, his mantra is “simplify.” He turned 91 yesterday, as I like to say, “ticking along like a metronome.” We get along fine, and as long as we avoid politics, I’m always happy to hear his voice. My kids love having him as their Grandpa.
For most of my years, relationships have happened either by accident or default. I’ve played the role of partner in “us-against-the-world” scenarios, which never have a happy ending. I’ve been the hero, gallantly coming to the rescue before realizing that there’s no saving some people from themselves.
A couple years ago I took a long hard look at the patterns that kept recurring, and decided to look inward instead of outward for a while and see what I could possibly shift. Up until then I think my longest time not in a relationship of some sort was about three weeks. My love life was like a recurring dream of dysfunction.
In my self-imposed solo year I learned a few things about myself and made some decisions. When I started to dip my toes in the dating waters again, I was determined not to settle, and passed on several opportunities that felt like my old patterns rearing their heads once more. I approached the whole process with intention and discovered a way to shift my mindset that was like a breath of fresh air.
The upshot was that I had my first date with Teresa in the lobby bar of a cozy historic hotel in Point Richmond a year ago this past Friday. I remember thinking at the time, “What if we want to go back to the place where we met a year from now, it can’t be a Starbucks!” So I had a hunch and made our first rendezvous happen at the romanticHotel Mac.
Fast forward a year, and my premonition proved prescient. We returned to have a drink in the same spot where we met, and spent the night in a room upstairs to celebrate a great first year together. (And discovered an amazing new restaurant down the street, I’m happy to put in a plug for “Brezo at the Baltic Square” here!)
Our relationship has many highlights and superlatives, but it’s also defined by what it lacks. There’s an absence of drama or judgement, and no constant need to prove ourselves to each other. We haven’t really found anything worth fighting about yet, which is saying a lot as we each have a kid and a co-parent. The bottom line is that we both feel good in each others presence, and we’re able to relax.
It’s these ineffable internal qualities that no set of checkboxes on a dating app is able to define. Subtly shifting your mindset so that settling for less is no longer an option is a big step. We recently sat down with a highly-eligible friend and helped her change her approach and three weeks later she is head-over-heels about her new guy, (and a bit disoriented because she’s finally met someone that she doesn’t need to fix!)
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I share this story in the spirit of service. I truly hope that you are dancing through life in a healthy and thriving relationship that will see you into your golden years and beyond. If not, and you feel like I might be able to offer any insight into your quest for connection, feel free to reach out, I’d love to help.
Life’s more fun when you’re in the flow. When you’re in balance with someone it frees up so much metaphysical space to get on with creating the life of your dreams. Never doubt that you are worth it, or that you’ve missed your chance — consciousness is there waiting for you, ready to spiral upward with love.
Much love till next week, may the flow be with you!
DANCE FIRST MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – SpiritDance SoulSong / Ashley Johnson
(Today’s DanceFirst Member Spotlight is a special guest writeup from SpiritDance SoulSong featuring Ashley Johnson. Enjoy! M+)
This is a love story. They happen all the time on the dance floor. And for me it happened on an early morning in the fall of 2000 as I watched in awe a group of “dancers” skip out onto the deck at Esalen where I was having my tea, all waving multi-colored scarves in the air and twirling and laughing as if possessed by the spirit of a very happy 5 year old. These dancers were adults, mind you, and they were led by an exuberant woman who was spouting poetry and spinning like a Sufi, her blue skirt threatening to take flight and join the brilliant morning sky. I know, it sounds crazy, but I swear that’s what I remember. This was the day I met Ellen Watson and my life was changed (for the better) forever. This was the day my life opened to the world of conscious dance.
Ellen is too many things to mention here but you can read her bio below. For me she was the round door that Rumi speaks of that is wide and open. She introduced me to the worlds of ecstatic dance, somatic arts, and feminine leadership. We both shared a love of dancing and singing which led Ellen and I to experiment with classes that combined these two ancient practices. These were the seeds that Ellen would eventually carry to fruition and a love child was born…. SpiritDance SoulSong.
There are so many beautiful conscious dance practices rising up through the cracks of our broken structures and systems these days, each with it’s own unique flavor. SDSS is a synthesis of many ancient spiritual and wellness traditions that culminate in an integrative practice that supports health in the body and VIBRANCE in the individual (soul). Beyond that, SDSS, also works as a service organization and change agent in the world by bridging the local culture, music and dance traditions with the curriculum of the workshop. In Bali, SDSS and it’s parent organization, Moving Ventures has trained dozens of local women in the art of essential touch thereby giving them the skills to work as massage therapist with the ability to earn a living. The SDSS teacher trainings held in Bali and around the world offer immersive cultural experiences that not only take and learn from the local dances, music, and traditions but give back as well by taking the gift of music and dance to the people that need it the most… the orphans, the homeless, the incarcerated, and the elders. As a growing global community of movers and shakers SpiritDance SoulSong is dedicated to empowering everyday people everywhere on the planet to reclaim their birthright to SING and DANCE. It truly is good medicine!
V – Vocalize, Vibrate, Visualize,
I – Illuminate, Inspire, Imagine
B – Breathe, Become, Belong
R – Resonate, Radiate, Relate
A – Activate, Attune, Attend
N – Navigate, Negotiate,
C – Conspire, Create, Contact
E – Energize, Engage, Explore
(For a full description of the VIBRANCE/SDSS practice visitwww.spiritdancesoulsong.com)
Join Ashley and Ellen as they unite again to create magic on the dance floor in Croatia, August 2018 for the VIBRANCE Retreat + Teacher’s Training. This course offers the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the arts of singing, sounding, breathing, dancing and building community. You will learn powerful teaching and facilitation skills, such as class theming, the craft of DJing, anatomy of movement, and understanding how energy and sound move into and through your body. We will guide you toward your own unique expression as a practitioner or a facilitator of this incredible and personal evolutionary path. Singing and dancing are the oldest spiritual practices on our planet. SpiritDance SoulSong brings these ancient healing practices into the modern world. Discover your body as a musical instrument, empowering you to be in vibrant, radiant health. SDSS fuses cross-cultural spiritual and philosophical truths with Western psychology and modern scientific research. A fusion of the eight chakras and the five elements, SpiritDance SoulSong begins with the root chakra, powered by your breath and your heartbeat. Accessible to everyone, this moving meditation invites you to realize physical and metaphysical fitness by opening your heart, freeing your voice, letting go of the past, exploring your breath, strengthening and detoxifying your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and toning your digestive and reproductive systems. When we sing, the breath, heart, mind and body resonate together. SoulSong uncovers the songs in our hearts and awakens our true voice. You can learn to use your voice as medicine. To register and find more information please follow this link: http://www.
Ashley Johnson believes in the power of music, dance, story and song to facilitate wellness in a culture, VIBRANCE in the individual and change in the world. She is a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. She was born moving in the sacred rhythms of the earth and has also trained in ballet, tap, jazz, 5Rhythms, Soul Motion, is a SpiritDance SoulSong facilitator and Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher. Ashley’s classes and workshops crack open constrictive patterns, inspire freedom in the body and mind and cultivate an expanded sense of creative possibilities. Her playful and integrative approach to creating community through singing and dancing catalyzes a transformative experience for students that results in an enlivened sense of well being. She lives in Lyons, Colorado where she can be found singing and dancing with her 3 children. If you are in the Boulder/Denver area and are interested in taking a class with Ashley please e-mail her email@example.com
Ellen Watson, a world-renowned somatic arts educator, has an extensive history in healing arts, developed from over 30 years at the historic Esalen® Institute in Big Sur, California. After studying 5Rhythms™ with Gabrielle Roth, Ellen developed SpiritDance to incorporate her complementary practices in Esalen® Massage, Holotropic Breathwork™, Continuum Movement, yoga, Clinical Hypnosis, Gestalt Awareness Practice and sound healing. A licensed minister and spiritual counselor, Ellen shines in her ability to teach and guide others through their own discovery of embodied presence. Later, Daphne Tse helped her fuse sounding into the practice to create SoulSong. Now, SpiritDance SoulSong invites practitioners to find their your own unique expression as a practitioner or a facilitator of this incredible and personal evolutionary path. To get in contact, please e-mail Ellen@SpiritDanceSoulSong.com
Singing and dancing are the oldest spiritual practices on our planet.SpiritDance SoulSong brings these ancient healing practices into the modern world. Discover your body as a musical instrument, empowering you to be in vibrant, radiant health. SDSS fuses cross-cultural spiritual and philosophical truths with Western psychology and modern scientific research. A fusion of the eight chakras and the five elements, SpiritDance SoulSong begins with the root chakra, powered by your breath and your heartbeat. Accessible to everyone, this moving meditation invites you to realize physical and metaphysical fitness by opening your heart, freeing your voice, letting go of the past, exploring your breath, strengthening and detoxifying your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and toning your digestive and reproductive systems. When we sing, the breath, heart, mind and body resonate together. SoulSong uncovers the songs in our hearts and awakens our true voice. You can learn to use your voice as medicine.