Process of Illumination

Freedom and Choice

Here is an excerpt from my “guide to the future” astrology report by Jonathan Cainer:

Sun Sextiles Mercury
9th March 2014 until 11th March 2014.

“Every day is a journey of discovery. You don’t feel that way? Maybe what you are discovering is the power of repetition. Don’t reject your lesson, no matter how it is being taught. Don’t feel obliged either, though, to stick with the current theme exclusively. If you want to do things differently, you can. If you want to be free of a tedious old drama, that’s possible too. The most important discovery you can make involves recognizing that you have many more choices than you once realized.”

Choices, huh?

Well, that is certainly what I began to notice while I was in Puerto Vallarta last month. In last week’s post “Falling in Love in PV” I told the story of Hugo. In fact, my experience with Hugo was only one of many examples of a larger theme that I am in the process of exploring. Indeed, I now realize that it is the theme of “choices” that has been guiding me for quite some time now. Choices about how to live my life, how to respond, how to think, how to behave, how to “show up”. I have been learning who and what is worthy of my time, energy and love and that I actually have a choice around what I invest in and what I stay neutral about. I am aware that I have a choice regarding repeating old patterns or creating new possibilities. I even have choices around whether I let my emotions run the show or whether I simply let them wash over me and then release them. I can choose what to hold on to and what to let go of. In short, I’m in charge. This theme of “choices” has the potential of changing the way I feel about… anything.

In terms of relationships, I had another huge realization in PV. Because I was feeling so connected to the people I was on the retreat with, I felt safe enough to  be completely vulnerable with them. This is partly because we were all so “heart-open” but it was also because I had no history with any of them. It was a perfect opportunity to experiment with being exactly who I was in every moment and not feel ashamed, judged, awkward or responsible for what they were feeling. Even though I could choose not to see or speak to any of them again if things went off course, this was actually incredibly courageous of me. For starters, not seeing these people again didn’t seem like an option for me but, more importantly, I wanted to know what would happen if I remained true to myself in every moment. Now that I’m thinking about it, it feels like this was the next evolutionary step after my experiences with colleagues in New Orleans (at the Imago Conference) and in San Antonio (at the Daring Way™ training) because this time, in addition to being authentic and transparent, I also wasn’t afraid to disappoint, disillusion or disagree with the others. THAT, is pretty miraculous, considering I have spent most of my life adjusting, adapting and mediating so that other people will feel “ok” and so that I will be liked, accepted and, ultimately, in control and not abandoned.

Wait…I have to sit with that a moment because it just hit me as to how miraculous that actually is….

I gave up control.

I risked being rejected/abandoned.

In those moments, not only did it feel ok to choose me. It felt better. It felt right.

And it didn’t even feel like a choice.


…it felt like my default. A new default.

>Pause, for tears of gratitude<

Wow. I really have fallen in love with myself!

The choice to practice Self-Love, be my own best friend, have my own back, be my own knight in shining armour… had already been made, within me, somewhere along the way.

The true test will be if I can also remain in that energy around people I know and who have triggered me in the past. That might not be so easy.

It’s a work in progress, right?

I honestly think that the only way for me to have noticed this shift at all is due to the fact that I have been developing my “witness” through meditation and mindfulness practices. Raising consciousness is not something that only happens while we are sitting quietly on a cushion with candles and incense burning, attempting to settle our minds. It affects every aspect of our lives. In particular, as my experience illustrates, it allows us to develop an awareness of who we really are that goes beyond our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions. When that part of us is “awakened” we then find ourselves creating possibilities and making choices that are more in line with our inherent truth, purpose and joy.

Another “choice” I have, which I came to realize in PV, is that the next man I’m with does not have to be one I spend the rest of my life with. This, my friends, has been a major revelation! I realized that, in my anxiety about how to respond to Hugo, part of me dismissed the idea, thinking “Why bother? It’s not like he’s relationship material and, even if he were, you’re not ready to give up you’re new found freedom yet, anyway.”

Crazy, right?

Clearly, my mindset was focused on the fact that I believed the next guy I would be in a relationship with would/should be the last. The one I would grow old with. That’s what I thought was going to happen with my last relationship and I think it’s a big part of why it’s been so hard to move on from it. In my marriage, it was hard to leave (for me) for different reasons, and mostly because of the kids but after over 20 years together I knew this was not the man I could or should grow old with. With my last relationship, however, it was the opposite. I wanted to grow old with him. I could feel it, see it, taste it. It would not have been without it’s challenges but in all the ways that count, we were a good fit and we adored each other. Partly, I’m still in shock because I truly believed we were meant to be together forever and partly I believe that the next guy will have to fill those shoes… and then some. That’s a lot of pressure for all concerned.

Thankfully, however, my self-talk during the “Hugo crisis” showed me that I have, yet another, limiting belief about what it means to have a man in my life. In the past, my relationships have been pretty conventional and, therefore, pretty limiting. Now, however, with everything I’ve learned about myself and what I want, I’m starting to think outside the box and one of the first things I’m starting to wonder about is this:

“What if the next guy isn’t “forever” guy?

I’m telling you… it’s a major revelation! It opens up so many possibilities and eliminates SO much anxiety!

Interestingly, I’m reminded of a “pact” that I made with my previous partner when he was experiencing anxiety about moving forward with our relationship while still feeling such mixed feelings about recently ending his marriage. Neither of us wanted to be without the other, so we decided to proceed, together, and call our relationship “an experiment”, with no agenda and no expectations. We’d just enjoy each other’s company and see what happened. It actually worked really well, that is, until we forgot about the “experiment” status and naturally moved into “conventional” relationship status with all the expectations and disappointments that go along with it.  We managed to hit the “reset” button and go back to “experiment” status once more along the way and it did seem to help again, but eventually, life got really complicated near the end and it was next to impossible for either of us to have much clarity about what was going on for each of us at the time. It still makes me so, SO sad but now, I’ve learned to let the emotion wash over me and let it go. I remind myself that everything is happening for a reason. God, if I had only known then what I know now. But, I guess, we had to go through it to discover what is true for us. And, to be honest, the pain of that relationship ending gave me the kick in the ass I needed to discover who I really am.

>More tears of gratitude<

So, back to my PV relationship revelation.

Now that I’m writing about this, it occurs to me that it wasn’t only Hugo I was wondering about in terms of “the next guy”. The truth is, Hugo only represented one kind of experience I could have with a man.

What I didn’t mention in my last post was that, on this year’s retreat, there were several attractive, single, intelligent, spiritual, talented, straight and, therefore, eligible men available. The ratio of single (straight) men to single (straight) women is still way out of balance but the quality certainly made up for the quantity. I could not help but look at each of these guys and compare them to the checklist that has been evolving in the back of my mind over the past year.

Firstly, the fact that they even existed and were actually on the retreat with us was pretty encouraging. Many of us (women and men) had lengthly discussions about what it’s like to date at our ages, let alone connect with people who match our interests and share our view of the world. It was clear that we were all considering one another as being a potential “something”…lover, partner, friend. From my perspective, this was so beautiful. We were all single and wonderful, in our own ways. We all recognized the beauty in each other and nobody seemed to be competing with anyone else for the affections of another. We all just kind of moved in and out of each other’s space so fluidly and shared connections, each of which where sacred, in their own way. Amazing.

Secondly, I was surprised that the men on the retreat actually matched my idea of what is attractive. I’m honestly more confused by what that means, as time goes on, because I don’t seem to have a “type” when it comes to actual relationships. Now, if you put Robert Downey Jr. in bare feet and mala beads, I’d probably fall into a coma, but other than that, I’ve learned that there is no way for me to predict whether I will be attracted to someone (on all levels) until I really get to know them.

So, here I was, suddenly surrounded with several kinds of possibilities in the form of male relationships. If the idea of a purely physical encounter with Hugo was overwhelming, you can imagine how I felt when I realized that there were actually  men out there… some of whom I had just met… who could, on paper, at least, be “relationship material”. But I didn’t feel ready for that yet, either, which made me even more confused.

And then, an interesting thing happened.

On my second to last day in PV a few of us decided to change hotels. I packed the night before and got up early to have breakfast with one of the men on the retreat who I had developed a very strong connection with.

The truth is that, because I was moving hotels, Hugo had asked if he could come visit me that afternoon. I had said yes, although I was still not sure of exactly what I wanted to happen between us.

After breakfast, my friend and I went and sat by the ocean and talked. We shared all kinds of things, including our feelings and experiences about the retreat. Sometimes we sat in silence, listening to the ocean. Sometimes we held hands. It was not sexual or romantic. It was very comfortable. And there was no doubt in our minds that, beyond this, we were going to be in each other’s lives.  Somewhere during that time, I decided to tell him about Hugo and the possibility that he might show up at my hotel later. It should have been awkward, but it wasn’t, at all.

Normally, I would have never shared what was going on with Hugo with anyone other than a woman whom I trusted because I was already feeling shame and anxiety and I would have only done so to feel some relief and get some perspective. Sharing it with a man was a whole new ballgame. Traditionally, telling one man about another man can only end up a few ways: It will either make them jealous, hurt their pride, make them angry or turn them on and regardless of which response they choose, you end up feeling responsible for how they feel.

But that didn’t happen.

I had no agenda in telling him except that I was still anxious about it and wanted to tell someone. I knew him well enough that I felt I could trust him, as a person, and that he’d understand and not judge me. As a man, however, I wasn’t sure how he would react, but it didn’t matter. This is my life and how I choose to live it has nothing to do with him.

Wow, that’s a big one.

When it was time to go, we made a plan to meet “after”. I told him I had no idea what I’d be like later. I might be floating in the clouds, or crying in a ball on the floor. That didn’t seem to worry him.

When it was time to go we shared a long hug.

“This is weird” he said.

“Yup”, I said.

And off I went.

As I walked away, I felt liberated.

“You’re a modern, single, beautiful woman! You are not responsible for anyone’s feelings, or tied to any one person. You are free! Enjoy it!”

I’ll never forget that feeling…


Hugo did not show up, after all, but my friend did.

“I had a felling it wasn’t going to happen”, he said.

“Yeah, me, too”, I said

“Can I buy you dinner” he asked?

“That would be lovely” I replied.