Tag Archives: pagan

Got Jealousy? Join Me at Conferences & Workshops!

Happy Valentine’s Day (almost)!  I’ll be presenting 4 times in the SF Bay Area this coming week. Perhaps you can join me at one or more events? It’s not too late!  List up front; longer descriptions below:

Continue reading

Trust Fall Exercise -- Man falling backward into waiting arms of many people

Gratitude, Control, and Acceptance in Poly Community

Polyamory and Control

In polyamory (and open relationships), we’re often admonished for being “out of control,” or told that we should feel ashamed of who and what we are.  “Control” often shows up in polyamorous relationships in various other ways, too. For instance, people sometimes try to control their partner/s — or even more commonly, their partner’s partner/s) through inflexible rules. [Note: these are in contrast to Agreements, which require cooperation; read more here].  Poly people also often try to control their own feelings of jealousy or insecurity by suppressing or repressing them.  As Rocky the Squirrel says, “that trick never works!”

Fortunately, there are actually ways to moderate, work through, and get through such difficult situations and feelings. Thanks go to Veronica Monet for this clear, step by step guide to Getting What You Want by Giving Up Control:

How to Get What You Want by Giving Up Control of Self and Other

1) Breathe and Connect to Your Feelings
2) Feel Empathy and Compassion for Yourself
3) Replace Negative Thoughts with Hopeful Scenarios
4) Extend Empathy to Others
5) Let Go of Control and Practice Acceptance

Simple, powerful steps, with powerful results. (The rest of the article is great, too, and I recommend it.)

Letting Go of Shame to Find AcceptanceBy gnuckx [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I myself am receiving powerful messages right now to “let go” in my life. It’s not been something I’ve been traditionally good at. This is part of why I’m reaching out more for help of all sorts.  I need some “hopeful scenarios” to replace the negative thoughts, you know?

In that article, Veronica also quotes Brené Brown, well known expert on shame and vulnerability:

“You cannot shame or belittle people into changing. This means we can’t use self-hate to lose weight, we can’t shame ourselves into becoming better parents and we can’t belittle ourselves or our families into becoming who we need them to be. . . Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” [Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, page 197]

This speaks directly to what I was talking about a couple of weeks back (in Facebook) when I said I disagreed with the notion that we can hate ourselves into health. It’s also relevant to other situations in my life which are requiring letting go. It is HARD to ask for and accept help, especially when one has always been accustomed to being the one to offer it.  It’s especially hard for men in our culture. But it can be hard for women (or people of any gender) as well, in part because it requires letting go of the popular USAian idea that we can be “rugged individuals” and should be able to do everything on our own. It also requires letting go of the shame, and the internal messages that to ask for help is to have failed, or that we’re unworthy, or will never be good enough. It also requires us to give up control over what other people think of us, and the fear that they’ll judge us negatively for who we are, or what we need.

Polyamory and CommunityPoly Living Puppy Pile

One of the greatest gifts in polyamory (and sometimes in open relationships), in my view, is that of community. As we honestly open ourselves to others, and create bonds and ties and networks, we naturally create a community of not only lovers, but of loving people of all sorts; people who can be there for us in times of loss and hardship, as well as times of joy and celebration. It’s hard (for me, at least)to trust in this net, because of the strong messages of nuclear family, and individual responsibility. But as I allow myself to be more open and more vulnerable, I am finding more and more support — mentally, emotionally, and physically — is available to me.

Of course, this requires that I be open to receive that support, and that can be a challenge for a perfectionist like me. But by following those steps Veronica outlines above, I can breathe through the confusing feelings, and eventually learn to accept what IS. Not always easy, but usually possible.

I find that for me, part of the process is to continually remind myself to stay in a state of gratitude, which allows me to be open to receiving the gifts that may come my way, as well as allowing me to remain relaxed and able to respond appropriately.  “Fear is the mindkiller,” after all, and when I’m in a state of contraction, resistance and fear, I often cannot move, quite literally.

So it is now that I end this post where I began my day, in gratitude for my community.  I am grateful for so many of you, both those whom I know, and those whom I’ve never met, and may never meet. I am grateful for those who can help me with my physical and financial needs, and for those who can help me with my emotional, mental or spiritual needs. It is an article of faith for me, that in giving to each other, we always give back to ourselves. And I am especially grateful to my friend Adam, at the moment, who is providing an example that yes, it IS possible — through gratitude, acceptance, and letting go — to change for the better.

I hope by sharing these thoughts I can inspire you, as I have been inspired today by my friends and community. And may you always, always remember, that

Love is always OK.

~♥ Dawn

FREEPS: Are you interested in talking with me about polyamory, or about any of the topics in this blog?  I’m happy to give back via a Free 30-minute session, or a 1/2 price 60-minute one. Past clients have reported increased happiness, decreased feelings of shame and jealousy, and have gained clarity and useful tools through working with me in a co-creative process. I’d love to help you understand and manifest your own best life and loves! Contact me and we’ll set up a time that works for you. 🙂

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

Morning Glory Zell

Remembering Morning Glory Zell, 1948 – 2014

I’d intended to continue my series of 5 Ways to Meet Poly/Open People today.  But life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  Instead, today I’m taking the time to commemorate Tuesday’s passing of Morning Glory Zell, Pagan Priestess, author, and (co-)originator of the word “polyamorous.”  Many others will tell her story more fully, and with more historical references. I’ll be telling the ways in which she affected me personally, and how she intersected with my experiences of both Paganism and Polyamory.

Meeting Morning Glory

Morning Glory had an impact on my life long before I knew it. I first met her in the late 80’s or early 90’s, up at Annwfn, the Church of All Worlds retreat center outside of Ukiah, CA. Continue reading

Millenial Gaia, a statue depicting Gaia/Mother Earth as a seated, pregnant woman, with the earth as her belly.

Out In the World… (a poem)

Most of the time, in this blog, I focus on polyamory and other forms of “ethical non-monogamy.”  Today, I’m offering something involving another facet of my own “outside the box” nature: Paganism. In a somewhat uncharacteristic way for me, I’m going to offer the poetry first, and the explanations after.  So scroll down if you’re interested in more background on how this poem came to be, and why I’m posting it here.  Enjoy!  ~♥ Dawn

Out In The World, the Goddess Speaks

(A poem by Dawn Davidson, © 2014)

Out in the wind
the Goddess speaks:
Branches whispering to one another, swaying in the wind.
“Bend;” she says, “flexibility is the key,
lest in bearing your natural pressures, you would otherwise break.”
Continue reading

PantheaCon2014 Cover

Join me at 2 upcoming conferences!

Happy almost-Valentine’s Day! I have good news for folks who will be in the SF Bay Area over the next two weekends:  There are two upcoming conferences at which I’ll be appearing, and at which I’d love to meet up with you! PantheaCon2014 Cover

First up is Pantheacon, an awesome gathering of thousands of people from all over the world. Filled with all sorts of Pagans and people interested in and/or practicing various forms of “alternative” spiritualities, this conference every year over the Presidents’ Day weekend offers a dazzling array of concerts, workshops, dealer’s room, rituals, classes, books, costumes, and much, much more. I’ll be co-teaching a class with Francesca Gentille (on the topic of creating your own best relationship model), at 2pm Sunday 2/16, in the Church of All Worlds hospitality suite on the 2nd floor of the Double Tree Hotel in San Jose.  If you’re of a mind to join us for a day or a weekend, check out the link here: http://pantheacon.com/wordpress/ I’d love to see you there!

Next up is the 3rd International Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Non-monogamy, to be held this year February 21-23 in Berkeley, California. With multiple tracks including Academic, Clinical, Art & Folklore, and Public Education, this conference has something to offer almost everyone interested in polyamory, open relationships, and other related topics.  Kathy Labriola (my co-presenter for the Jealousy teleseminars last fall) will also be there. I’m scheduled in the Public Education Track on Saturday, and I’d love to see you there! Click here to find out more and/or buy tickets: https://sites.google.com/site/ipachome/

Whether or not we get to see each other in person soon, I wish you all the best for this Valentine’s Day season of love.

And remember:  No matter who or how many you love, Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  I’m still running my “winter specials” — reduced prices on coaching packages.  I’d love to help you and your loves have relationships that are sizzling hot, and truly fulfilling!  Call me or email to set up a time for your free 30 minute consultation. 🙂

love_outside_the_box_white_on_dark_t_shirts-r734308d7aa2c48a6a7a731d0498738ca_8nfnu_216PPS:  Need something for your Valentine(s)?  You might want to check out my Zazzle Store: (zazzle.com/LoveOutsideTheBox*). I’ve got lots of items for sale, including things with my logo (some are customizable!), and also stuff with the poly “pi flag” design, or other nifty things. Or just shop Zazzle through my link, and find awesome stuff for everyone you love!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

(Over-)Communicate, Communicate, Communicate?

Communication

The poly mantra, as they say, is “Communicate, communicate, communicate,” hereinafter represented as “C^3” for brevity in this article. 🙂  We all know (or we learn quickly), that polymory and open relationships take a LOT of communicating.  In fact, a therapist friend of mine, Cat Maness, said yesterday, that her top 5 skills for poly/open relationships are:

  1. Communicate
  2. Communicate
  3. Communicate
  4. Communicate
  5. Scheduling

And I’ll add that the most common thing to communicate about is… scheduling!  We do a lot of talking and writing around here. It’s just part of the process.

That said, there comes a time when some folks feel that C^3 is OVER-communicating.  Recently, for instance, in publicizing the second workshop I’m doing with Kathy Labriola, MORE Jealousy First Aid, I sent out a couple of invites, and Kathy send out an invite, and at least some people on both lists have started to feel like it’s OVER-communicating.  (Theoretically, having Infusionsoft is supposed to help with this, but I’m such  relative n00b at it that I’m still figuring out how to use all the fancy bells and whistles.) The fact, is though, that one person’s “communicating” is another person’s “OVER-communicating.”  People have different preferences, and different levels of comfort with communication.  And that’s natural, too.

One way you can mitigate the mismatches in communication styles is, of course, to make some Agreements about them. 🙂 Here’s where you might want to check into my newly-available “beta” version of my KISSable Agreements Workbook, or to check out Cat Maness’ online Agreement generator.

Another thing to remember, is that sometimes someone may be “over-communicating,” because they aren’t getting a “handshake” from you. There may be a simple fix in making a specific, verbal acknowledgement of the message received. Then they can rest assured that you’ve received the message, and can stop delivering it “just in case you haven’t.”

What’s your comfort level with communication?  Do you believe in C^3? Or do you have other ideas about communication? No matter what, I hope your communications are helpful in whatever sort of relationship/s you have. Because no matter who or how many you love…

Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Watch for more from both me and Cat Maness, by the way. We’ve got some collaboration in the works for world domination, er… helping everyone we can through consciously co-created Agreements. 😀

PPS: I’m out of town this weekend, teaching at the Church of All Worlds Conclave in Cotati. If you decide to purchase my KISSable Agreements Workbook beta version, it might take me an extra day or two to get it to you. I will do so, never fear!

PPPS: If you can’t be on the live call for the MORE Jealousy First Aid Workshop, don’t worry.  Sign up anyway! You’ll get information on how to access the recording later. 🙂

 

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

YES written in a notebook in pen

21 Reasons to Be Yourself (and Other Thoughts on Identities)

“I’m speaking up for those who feel lost and alone, and who’ve been rejected by others for core pieces of their being, whether that’s paganism, poly, their bodies, kink, or whatever. I’m here to say “you are not alone,” and “you are fine, just the way you are,” and hand them some tools and roadmaps.”
— Dawn Davidson, Nov. 30, 2012

Over the past week and some I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of Identity. Some of this thinking was, of course, spurred by Dan Savage and his post about how he doesn’t think that polyamory can be an identity. In his world, it’s just something you do, not something you are.  As discussed elsewhere, I disagree with him (though of course Your Mileage May Vary.)

But that’s not the only thing that has me thinking about Identity. See, there’s been a kerfluffle in my world that affects my recent ordination. It’s mostly not even about me, but instead, about my sponsoring priestess.  Apparently, They (the powers that be in the organization through which we were both ordained) became quite concerned with the fact that my sponsoring priestess both practices and teaches Sacred BDSM (aka Sacred Kink — see here for the excellent book on the topic, Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of BDSM And Beyond, by Lee Harrington.) The reasons for this are several, but the biggest reason appears to be that They have conflated what my sponsoring priestess does, with what happened at the Sedona Temple earlier this year. Please understand that I have nothing against Tantra either (I practice Western Tantra myself and recommend it as a path of connection for individuals, couples and even groups in some situations). What my sponsoring priestess does is a) legal, b) ethical, and c) not what brought the Sedona Temple down (which was accusations of prostitution.) Ultimately, the point of the whole thing isn’t the details of what she’s practicing or teaching, but the fact that They took action based on misinformation, incomplete information, and fear. They feared being “tarred with the same brush,” and chose to denounce the whole of BDSM as a whole, rather than having detailed conversations first and taking actions later.

Now, to be fair, some of the situation was exacerbated by a lack of communication and missed communications between the org and my sponsoring priestess. However, I feel that greater efforts at understanding could have been taken before they chose to denounce several personal sexual practices and choices, revoke the ordination of my sponsoring priestess, and invalidate the ordinations of all of her sponsorees (myself included.)

(By the way, I’m continuing at this time to not speak directly about this organization in this public blog, because I’m still hopeful that some sort of rapprochement might be possible. I do not wish to make the situation worse. Additionally, one of Their issues with me in particular was that I had linked to their site using their logo on my own webpage about my ministerial services without first asking permission. Oops, my bad. For now, I’ve removed the offending references pending resolution. However, none of this changes my basic feelings about the situation, and I’m certainly not against anyone with a stake in the matter speaking out about their own experiences and feelings, or writing on behalf of my sponsoring priestess. I’m just trying to not make things unnecessarily worse for myself, or for her. Write me privately if you would like further information, including templates for a letter writing campaign to educate this organization about sacred kink, or to speak out on behalf of my sponsoring priestess in particular.)

It’s also important (in my view anyway) to note that their action (in revoking my ordination and that of all of the sponsorees) does not actually affect either my mission as a counselor, as a priestess/minister, nor does it affect my ability to perform weddings (and other such ceremonies) here in California (and in some other states.) I was ordained on October 10th, 1989, through the Universal Life Church, and I have confirmed with the ULC that they still have a record of that ordination. My ordination through this other organization was intended mostly to create community ties, and a mutual network of support (hence my cross-linking). I’m sad to lose that, of course, but it has no bearing on my legal ability to serve as a priestess/minister.

Even more to the point, as I told them in my response:

I was also VERY clear during the ordination on Oct 7th that I received that transmission from the Goddess herself, and whatever choices are made here on the physical plane in the [national and international organizations], you (collectively) cannot remove from me that Divine blessing and calling to service. I was called into Her service, and in her service I remain, with or without your blessing, acknowledgment, or papers.

Of course, all of this recalls for me my experiences earlier this summer, in which I was asked to hide who I was in order to stay in a particular online course. As I wrote in another letter to the organization:

Honestly, when I wrote my piece “Coming Out About Love,” which described some of my soul searching while preparing for the ordination, I was afraid to post it publicly on my website… but what I feared at the time was getting pushback from the *poly* community about my *spirituality*.  It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that the trouble might be the other way around! And yet, here we are.

… Imagine my dismay to find myself facing what appears to me to be the same core issue in the very pagan organization with which I thought to align myself: prejudice and blatant lack of understanding and compassion regarding personal choice, and the teaching of these personal choices as loving, valid forms of relating.

Here I sit, my friends, with egg on my face about my (mostly private) judgments earlier. I am reminded, forcefully, of the bumper sticker one of my partners used to have on his car, that read:

Fundies are fundies, whether they pray to the Lord or the Goddess.

So I offer my apologies to my Christian — and pagan, atheist, agnostic, etc — friends who are NOT judgmental and/or fearful of things they don’t understand. Thank you to all of you good-hearted folks out there striving to understand and accept things outside of your experience.  I appreciate you so much! Thank you for being yourselves, and allowing the space for others to be themselves as well, even when you don’t fully understand the whys and wherefores.

And to all of you — whatever sort of experiences you may have, and whatever ways you might identify, let me reiterate that you are not alone, and you are OK, just the way you are. Whoever you are and whatever choices you make — so long as those are done in Love and respect, and between consenting adults — that’s totally ok! We don’t all have to like the same things, do the same things, or go the same places.  If we did, the world would be boring, and we’d all be trying to squeeze into the same restaurant.  Ugh!

So in that spirit, let me offer you something I started brainstorming the other night (inspired by the awesome Samantha Bennett again). At the bottom of this post I’ve added 21 Reasons To Be Yourself. I think I’m just getting started on this list, so if you have other reasons to offer, please let me know! Feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’d be happy to add your reasons, too.

Always remember how awesome you are!

~♥ Dawn

PS: If you’re interested in discussing issues around identity (or any other related topic, such as polyamory, kink, jealousy, Agreements, managing new relationship energy, etc), feel free to schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me.  BONUS: For a limited time, each FREE consultation comes with a Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself. Let me know how I can support YOU in being yourself, and speaking your own truth!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ 

A 21 self-salute:
21 Reasons to be yourself

1) because no one else can do it — you are the only you there is

2) because you have something to say to the world

3) because your children (or your nieces, nephews, little siblings, etc) need you to — how else could you make it safe for them to be *themselves*?

4) because the world needs you to — it’s time for all of us to stop trying to be someone else, and to give up ransacking the world to “keep up with the Joneses”

5) because Deity (God, Goddess, the Universe, your higher self, the FSM…) put you here to do something.  You wouldn’t want to let God — or yourself — down, would you?

6) so all the other people like you don’t feel so much alone

7) because it isn’t anyone else’s business WHO you are, anyway

8) because otherwise, you’ll go to your grave thinking “what if?”

9) because THEY said you can’t do/be/say that

10) because it feeds your soul

11) because it makes you happy. And that’s enough, all by itself. Really.

12) because what if reincarnation is true, and you aren’t yourself this time, and have to come back and do it all over again?

13) because you’re ok — great, even — just the way you are

14) because you look silly in Julia Roberts’ clothes (I mean, unless you’re Julia Roberts, in which case, you look just fine!) Stop trying to be someone you’re not.

15) because otherwise, who’s going to [bake the cookies/fix the car/type the memo] if you’re off wasting energy elsewhere?

16) because somewhere, sometime, someone will be inspired by you

17) because otherwise, the terrorists (internal or external) will have won

18) because it’s a great way to silence that nasty voice in your head that says you’re “less than.”  By definition, nobody can be a better you than you!

19) because otherwise, how will the postal carrier know whom to deliver your mail to?

20) because *you matter*. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions in this world leave a mark in this world.  The lack of them would, too. Choose to make your mark.

21) otherwise, how could your college buddies find you on Facebook?

(Got more reasons to be yourself?  Share them with me!)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Coming out about Love

Today is National Coming Out Day. Being someone myself who tends toward a “big tent” version of sexual and relationship orientation, I’m inclined to include poly as something one might wish to “come out” about, though there’s definitely room for debate there. Alan of Poly In the News covered (a couple of years back) some of the discussion of whether polyamory is something that should be included in this observance; if you’re interested in reading more poly coming-out stories, check Bitsy’s page Openly Poly.

That said, today’s musings are stretching the boundaries of that tent even further, since they aren’t even on the topic of me coming out as poly. That would be pretty redundant, after all! I’m not even writing about coming out as bisexual or queer (though I could, and it’s worth some time on another day.) Today, however, I’m sharing something that I wrote in connection with my recent ministerial (re-)Ordination, which, in essence, is me coming (further) out about my own spiritual path — the path of Love.

Enjoy.

 ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

Meditations on Love as a spiritual path

“God is love.”

I heard that phrase over and over again as a child, sitting in (and out) of church. At the time, it seemed fairly straightforward to me. Love meant candy hearts, crooked valentines, and getting to go to the ice cream shop with my grandmother. I was also told that God (like Santa Claus) was everywhere and knew everything (even what I was thinking!), so my young mind easily transferred the concept of God to those tangible things: This meant God was a super-awesome Valentine sundae (how appropriate!) with candy hearts on top, and he loved me like my grandma. What’s not to like about that?

I felt one with God all the time. I sang with friends, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and made gods-eyes in Vacation Bible School. The idea of His eyes on me was comforting, not frightening. Easter meant palm fronds (and shoes that pinched), hot cross buns, and jelly beans left by the mysterious Easter Bunny (who was connected to Jesus and the cross in some arcane way I assumed I’d understand when I was older.)

When I was young, I didn’t always understand people, but I always understood God. I found Him everywhere: in the lilacs and the crocuses, in the bright flash of redwing birds, and in my favorite “safe space,” the top of a neighbor’s tree, surrounded by green and bathed in sunlight. God was good, God was great, and God was Love. Simple, really.

Things got a little more complicated as I got older. Forced public confessions of my unworthiness; illogical conclusions from iffy translations of questionable doctrine; revelations of abuse, shenanigans, and hypocrisy in supposedly “Godly” examples on earth — all of these served to separate me from the spirit I’d felt when I was younger. How could I be told He loved me in one breath, and then told I was going to hell in the next? Why was I shamed and belittled for using the brain He had supposedly given me? How could God countenance such things as war and poverty and oil spills? Why was I bullied and shamed — and then also punished for either fleeing or for defending myself against my abusers? How was a loving God supposed to have anything to do with all of this? It didn’t make any sense, and as a young adult, I turned away from Christianity, disappointed, and disillusioned.

Years later, I reflected on these thoughts, as I sat in meditation on the eve of my (re-)Ordination the other day. Asked by the Temple through which I was Ordaining to dedicate to three particular Goddesses (of my choice), I struggled, because the way I’d dealt with the spiritual damage in my younger years was to flee from anything resembling a box or a structure or someone else’s idea of God/god/goddess/deity/spirit. How could I comply with their request, without dishonoring my own spirit?

Gradually I realized that I am following Love as a spiritual path. Not a particular personification of Love (like Aphrodite, Venus, Parvati, Freya, Jesus, or others), but Love itself: Love, the motivating force; Love, that keeps us together; Love, that’s all you (or I) need.

The more I reflected, the more I realized that my personal journey through relationships, marriage, parenthood, community and even paganism have all centered, in one way or another, around Love (or things relating to Love, like communicating with loved ones.) The more I’ve experienced Love — through things like Tantra and energy-sex — the more I believe that Love is a manifestation of spirit, present in all things, if we only are able to pay attention, and open ourselves to a level of knowing beyond our day-to-day existence.

So as a person, and as a Minister/Priestess, how do I manifest this spirit of Love into the world I live in every day? Being a polyamorous person, I’m fortunate to have an incredible amount of love in my life. So many of the good things I’ve learned in the past couple of decades have been about Love: how to get it, how to maintain it, how to communicate it, how to do it safely, speaking out in support of others’ (and my own) right to love in any way we choose. I try to bring this into my life on all levels. When I’m faced with challenging situations, I try to ask myself “What would Love do? In this moment right now, what brings me more in harmony with the universe, and with spirit?” I’m not always good at it (being human, and not made of 100% Love… yet, anyway), but to the degree I’m able to contemplate it and act in alignment with this principle, my life works a little better.

The more I think about it, the more I think that think maybe what I was taught as a child is a bit backwards. It’s not that God is love… it’s that Love is “God”: Love itself is the spirit that binds us together, that motivates us, that allows us to connect with ourselves, everyone around us, and outward into the universe.

How does Love manifest itself in your world? Do you align with a particular spiritual path, or do you find sacredness everywhere… or nowhere? Is God/dess Love, or the other way around? How does Love move you, change you, support you… or does it? I’d be particularly interested to know if being polyamorous influences your experience of Love. As always, feel free to write me back, or converse with me in Facebook, or in my blog.

May you always love boldly, safely and well,

~♥ Dawn

 

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Line drawing of box with lid opening out into a heart which surrounds the box

Love Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Love Outside the Box: Line drawing of box with lid opening out into a heart which surrounds the box

Love is nothing to be ashamed of.

That’s the thought I finally came to, at the end of my journey of processing the request made of me a few weeks ago, that in order to stay in an online course, I agree to never mention my niche or the word polyamory. I was honestly shocked to get this request; shocked and traumatized, all of my worst fears about being ‘out’ about poly come to life. Here I’d signed on to this course to become more confident in bringing my skills and talents to the world, and to help people understand the joys and challenges of polyamory and other “outside the box” forms of relating (at least as I’ve experienced them and learned over 15 years of intensive study) — and merely mentioning my niche brought down censure on my head. Was she (the course leader) right, that polyamory is “not G-rated” and inherently “squirmy”? Was I the one out of line, to think it would be ok to talk openly about polyamory?

We here in the Uncharted waters have had many a discussion (on lists, in discussion groups, on the web…) about whether sex is an inherent part of the definition of polyamory. I generally don’t think it’s required, though of course I think it’s by far the most common case that polyamory includes sex. In my definition, polyamory most often includes sex, in the exact same way that monogamy most often includes sex, but can be experienced without it; they’re both relationship styles after all. But just as it’s possible to have a celibate or sex-free monogamous relationship,  it’s quite possible that someone might identify as polyamorous but not be having sex or in a sexual relationship.  The presence or absence of  sex is not like a light switch after all. Otherwise, we’d all walk around changing our status whenever we had a sexual encounter (or didn’t): Now polyamorous, now celibate, momentarily monogamous, polyamorous again ….

Yes, of course, that’s a very extreme and somewhat silly example… but is it any more extreme and silly than presuming that because my context is “polyamorous people,” that when I talk about communication tools, they are necessarily about communicating about sex? What exactly makes polyamory “not G-rated”? For that matter, is sex itself automatically R-rated, never mentionable to anyone under 17? And if so, why do they teach about it in middle school?? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t my mind making polyamory into a 24/7 lurid group-sex encounter. Though I will admit to amusement when viewing this old ad that was going around on Facebook a couple of weeks ago:

Hanky Panky at the Beach?

Good clean fun at the beach?

No, it seems pretty clear to me that the issue with polyamory being an unfit topic for polite dinner-table conversation was in the mind of that beholder … and unfortunately in a lot of other as-yet uneducated-about-poly minds out there. When she thought about polyamory, she felt “squirmy,” aka uncomfortable, aka shame. One of the pernicious characteristics of shame is that it is “contagious”–it spreads from person to person, often below the level of consciousness.  Her shame triggered my shame. It took me days and a lot of processing to get through it. And that’s AFTER working on this stuff for years. Shame is pretty powerful stuff.

At the Open-SF conference in June, the excellent Charlie Glickman presented a wonderful workshop entitled “Love, Sex, and Shame.” In it he talked about the manifestations of shame (e.g., closed posture, averted eyes/face, mumbling or silence, “shifty”/”squirmy”, energetic disconnection), vs. the manifestations of love (e.g., open posture, direct gaze, easy communication, groundedness/ease, energetic connection, etc). Pretty much, actively experiencing love is diametrically opposed to actively experiencing shame. It’s hard to experience both at the same time.  Isn’t that interesting?

Unfortunately, much of our culture holds that sex is inherently shameful. By extension, anything that leads to sex (with the possible exception of procreative sex between male and female spouses) is by extension inherently shameful. I think that viewpoint is de facto harmful. Certainly it was harmful to me to hear as a young person that my normal feelings and thoughts were somehow bad and wrong… that *I* was bad and wrong. It’s hard to feel love, and to express it in a healthy way, if at the core you believe yourself to be broken. It took me many years, and a lot of heartache (not to mention a lot of money spent on therapists…), to finally move beyond that toxic frame into the freedom and joy in both love and sex that I now believe to be my birthright (and that of every human being.)

For me, the path of healing wound its way through many places, starting with making a choice to find my own spirituality, and winding up most recently with me refusing to be shamed and silenced for who and how many I love. Each step has involved me finding a bit that has been shamed, and being willing to entertain the notion that it wasn’t ME who was bad and wrong… but instead the unnecessary shame that had been forced on me for no other reason than that who and what I was didn’t fit into the particular box that was on offer at the time.

Understand that I believe that not all boxes are wrong, either. Sometimes boxes (or containers, or marriages–use the word that fits for you…) are places of safety. They’re where we keep our most prized memories. They provide support and boundaries. Sometimes they’re very beautiful; sometimes strong; sometimes fragile. But not all things (nor all creatures, nor all people) fit inside of every box. You know how there’s often that one package at the holidays that just refuses to fit inside the standard boxes, so you end up wrapping a small box with a note in it, or giving them a card, or sticking a million bows on it and hiding it in the back hallway instead?  There’s nothing wrong with the gift for not fitting in that box — in fact, it might be THE best gift of them all because of the very thing that makes it not fit in the box! And there’s nothing wrong with the box either, just because that gift didn’t fit inside. It’s just a bad fit between that box, and that gift.

Well, that’s how I feel about polyamory, and about love. Polyamory is a great gift that doesn’t happen to fit the box that we got issued at the Universal Post Office. Polyamory is so chock full of LOVE that it spills out the sides and cannot be contained in the “usual” ways. (And lest you think I’m all sappy and Pollyanna (ha!) about poly, I also think that polyamory is sometimes the gift that proclaims “some assembly required” and for which the directions seem to be written in a foreign language.)  Polyamory is bold and beautiful and complicated and drama-filled and a damn AFGO (“Another F-ing Growth Opportunity!”), and the worst thing and the best thing that I’ve ever done, all at once. (No, I take that back. The best thing I’ve ever done is to birth my amazing daughter. But poly is a close second.) When you get right down to it, polyamory is just a whole lotta LOVE all squished into one package (some assembly required).

And love, my friends, is nothing to be ashamed of.

Go sing your own song. Go chart your own ways.

Bird Sculpture by Robriel Wolf, archangel.robriel@gmail.com

“A Little Bird Told Me”: Sculpture in wood, metal and glorious paint, by artist Robriel Wolf

Love boldly, safely, and well.

~♥ Dawn

PS: If you’re looking for some assistance in singing your own song, you can always drop me a line to ask for your own free 30-minute (or half-price 60 minute) session. I’m always happy to help others in the Uncharted waters (to mix a couple of metaphors!) 🙂

 

♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥∞♥

©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

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Holidaze and Poly-days: A Media Surprise!

Capital Letter If you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed I’m a fan of Alan’s Poly in the News blog.  My own polyamory has ended up showcased in his blog a few times, most recently by my appearance in the hotly-debated “Taboo” segment on polyamory that my friends “The Rabbits” were profiled in last June.  Apparently, it’ll be appearing on TV on Jan. 9th, considerably before the March guestimate that they gave us all last year. Here’s a direct link as well:


 

In other news, I also contributed to a thread in another online article brought to my attention by Alan. He titled it as “Polyignorance in Ireland,” and I heartily agreed.  Here’s what I posted in the comments to the article:

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