Learning From Others

Learning From Others

I have benefited a great deal from witnessing other people’s challengesgrowth, and celebration.

At times, I have felt comforted to see others in tough spots that I didn’t have to face, as it lead to naturally feeling more grateful for my own circumstances.  Other times, I have been profoundly inspired by how powerful and fulfilled someone else is, and in that I’ve seen how much more is possible for me.

When I created the Conscious Partnership Program, I knew it was essential to have weekly Q and A Group Coaching Calls. It provides a setting for participants to have their questions answered, as well as an opportunity to learn much from what others share.

Couples who have been together longer bring a perspective that couples in newer relationships can truly learn from. Those in newer relationships remind couples who have been together much longer where they have come from, and what else can be transformed.

Men learn from men. Women learn from women. It can sometimes be so much easier to see something clearly when it is happening in someone else’s relationship…

In a recent call, one participant was feeling troubled by an experience in her relationship.  We discussed it in detail, considering what the learning was and how to grow from what had happened. But then, this same participant had to leave the call early to give a presentation at work.

So I coached her on making a swift change in her mood.  Not to suppress her sadness, but to put it aside and claim her radiance and joy before walking into an important meeting.  The whole exchange, including the sadness and the shift to a joyful, radiant, empowered woman took about five minutes.  After she left for the meeting, I continued coaching the others on the call.

At the end of the call each person shared what was most impactful for them. Two women shared how inspiring it was to see the woman shift from sorrow and tempered hopelessness into confidence and visionary leadership.

On the inside I smiled, for I had been hesitant about that moment because I never want to encourage anyone to sidestep their emotions, or push things aside for practical tasks. I know that over time that sort of habit creates disconnection from self and resentment towards others.

Pushing aside feelings in order to put on a “happy face” is truly the last thing I want to be modeling.

Yet, those feelings weren’t pushed under the rug, they were acknowledged. They were welcomed. And while the feelings continued to be real, the woman was invited to pivot. Not to ignore the feelings, just to turn her attention to something else.

And as soon as she did, since it was something that she is passionate about and finds fulfilling, her whole being shifted and it felt different to interact with her.

The other participants on the call loved seeing it happen—so elegantly. It really took just one question from me, “What do you love about the work you do?” and suddenly everything felt lighter and quite magnificent.

I call this Internal Agility.  

I think of it as the inner soul version of drills I used to do in middle school gym classes to develop Agility.

So that when we played soccer we could easily maneuver around and through the other team’s defense.

It is super important to be able to Feel Your Feelings. To know and honor them. To express them with clarity and move forward with both you and your partner clear on what you are experiencing.

It is also super important to have Internal Agility, to cultivate the capacity to have choices in tough moments. This allows you to be able to turn your attention from your pain and discomfort to gratitude, delight, or some other worthy matter.

I never would have thought to introduce the concept of Internal Agility in the first module of the Conscious Partnership Program, however, the situation presented itself and an internal pivot was needed, so I went with it. I love that it served everyone present as that means the Group Coaching Calls are serving their intended function.

What comes to mind when you read this?

  • How are you with feeling your feelings?
  • How are you about naming them responsibly?
  • How is your internal agility?

I am always look forward to hearing from those of you in my community. (Leave a comment below, and let’s connect.)

If you are interested in improving the quality of emotional connection in your relationship, check out the Conscious Partnership Program, and you can join us on the next Q and A Group Coaching Call!

Weddings, graduations, and self-awareness. Oh my!

Weddings, graduations, and self-awareness. Oh my!

When I attend weddings, funerals or other rites of passage, I deeply appreciate the couple tying the knot, or the loss of the one who has died, or whatever the circumstance. I am fully present for it and grateful to be participating.

At the same time, I am open (sometimes involuntarily) and feel the fullness of so many other similar occasions.

When I attend a wedding, my own wedding oozes from my cells and floods my nervous system. I remember how it felt to walk up the aisle, and how it felt to walk back down that aisle, forever changed. I think of my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding and the magnificent hillside where it was. Grand weddings and simple weddings, when I know the couple or I don’t, family or friends—the other weddings I have experienced are accessed every time.

When I attend a funeral, I am so very sorry for the loss. And, I also remember the very first funeral I attended. And my mother’s… my father’s… as well as various grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, teachers…and the list goes on.

I know this happens, and I have come to appreciate such ceremonies as an opportunity to tap into what is below the surface during the day to day routines of life.

Even so, I was entirely unprepared for how that same phenomenon would be true at a college graduation.

On Memorial Day, our daughter graduated from college. It was a sunny day, on a beautiful campus, in a ceremony that was unique and timely. She took courses and majored in areas I never touched when I was in college. She went to a landlocked school in a very small town and I went to a school on the coast.  There were so many differences–or so I thought. 

As I heard the processional music begin, loads of thick memories started to arise from my own graduations from high school, college and medical school. I remembered when our daughter went off to kindergarten, completed eighth grade, and walked in her high school graduation, and I remembered the graduations of our other children.

I thought of my mother and grandparents and where they were when I graduated. I thought of my brother’s college graduation and how I had missed it. I asked my husband and in-laws questions about their respective graduation experiences—questions I hadn’t once thought to ask in the 26 years I have known them.

Pomp and circumstance is a real thing.

The unique, nuanced subtle muscle memories and long forgotten, rarely activated sensations are just as real.

Intimate relationships are the same way.

They consist of moments that are what they are in the present, while also being all the prior experiences which can rise to the surface and influence our experience.

Sometimes, in happy moments like graduations, we are cognizant of this happening.  More often, in both challenging and mundane moments in relationship, our prior experiences are rising to the surface and influencing what we see, feel, believe, and think but it’s mostly unconscious and we aren’t aware that is happening.

When your partner tunes out in the middle of your story, how do you feel? Uninteresting? Rejected? Unimportant? Whatever you feel, it surely isn’t the first time you felt that way. It’s the accumulated feelings that come from many prior experiences.

In my work with couples, it can be radical, and somewhat shocking, for each person to realize their internal dialogue—to become aware of what they are telling themselves and what they believe is undeniably true. It is even more remarkable to share that with their partner and find out it just isn’t what their partner intended at all.

For example, Chloe was sure Harold didn’t really cherish her because whenever she would tell stories about her day at work, especially stories detailing her successes, he would tune out.  She felt uninteresting and small every time this happened, like he didn’t really care about her or see her accomplishments. In a coaching session Harold revealed that actually, when she started telling stories about work, he felt inadequate and uncertain. At first he didn’t know why, but eventually he was able to tap into his childhood experience where his mother’s success at work ultimately lead to his parent’s divorce, and Harold unconsciously concluded that Chloe’s success meant she would end up leaving him.

Neither Harold or Chloe had any idea this was happening, they just knew that when she told stories about her successes at work they both ended up feeling rejected and rotten.

The natural consequence of inquiry and personal exploration of your internal experience is more self-awareness, often accompanied by a new experience of freedom.

When I teach the 6 Qualities of Conscious Partnership, I always start with Quality One: Cultivate Curiosity.  It is incredible how much love and warmhearted feelings begin to flow when partners are genuinely curious about one another’s experience.

What I don’t mention, as I instead guide couples to experience it for themselves, is how essential it is to have curiosity about yourself. You may believe you already know your experience well–you know what is happening, how your partner treats you, and what your typical relationship dynamic is.

But once you start looking at the prior experiences from your past, the ones which are coloring your vision in the present moment, you realize how much more there is to know about yourself and who you are.

What arises for you in intimate relationships becomes as much or more a function of who you are than anything someone else is doing to you.  It is a hard won shift, one that becomes available through your openness to receive feedback and your willingness to receive guidance/coaching/mentorship.

As a coach, I am not interested in understanding for understanding’s sake; I am interested in understanding insofar as it leads to new insights, and then lasting change and wonderful new experiences.

In my group program for committed couples, the Conscious Partnership Program, I teach couples how to be curious about one another and invariably, they become really curious about themselves. This curiosity turns out to be the golden key which unlocks the door to emotional intimacy and sensual passion.

If you want that key, let me know! I would love to tell you about the Conscious Partnership Program and hear your thoughts on this topic.

And, please, tell me your experience when you attend weddings, funerals, and yes graduations too. Do you relate to what I have described?

The Meandering Route to your Heart

The Meandering Route to your Heart

When I became an adolescent my relationship with my father became increasingly complicated, confusing and painful for me, and remained that way for decades. It remained that way until a few months before his death.

When I was 18, a freshman in college, I already knew that my relationship with my father would color all of my interactions with other men in my life, and especially any intimate partner I would have.

I was determined to shift the inevitable, so I went to therapy.  The experience of therapy is a whole story unto itself, which I will share another time.  For now, I am sharing this to establish that I was motivated to turn to experts to assist me in areas where I was in unfamiliar terrain and clearly had blind spots.

My husband had some intense, confronting experiences when he was 16 and ended up working with a therapist to make sense of what had happened. It was very positive and healing for him, and gave my husband tools for self-reflection, inquiry and awareness.

When we got married, even as we were happy, in love, and entirely excited about the future, I always knew we would seek out therapy or couples coaching.  Each of us had individually benefited from working with an expert, and I was eager to bring the same attention and expansion to our shared experience.

We had to have blind spots in our relationship (though I didn’t have any idea what they were)! I knew more joy and fulfillment were possible for us than we would be able to access on our own, so I just assumed we would benefit from the resolution and expansion that comes from working with and learning from someone wise and devoted to our success.

This attitude meant it was very straightforward for me to reach out to someone when I felt our communication was starting to dip or I didn’t feel as seen as I wanted to.  I couldn’t have really said what was missing if someone had asked—I just knew I wanted to feel more seen, more cherished, more understood… NOW, after 23 years of marriage, I would say I wanted more emotional intimacy and more sensual passion, I wanted to feel more alive in my own skin and to connect deeply with the man I already loved so much.

The first step we took was to participate in a 3 hour workshop.  That was 21 years ago and what I remember most clearly was a couple teaching the workshop together. At one point she stated beliefs she had and assumptions she often made, and with each one she picked up a big yellow balloon. He did the same, stating his assumptions and picking up a balloon for each one.

The beliefs and assumptions they made included things like…

  • “My husband should make me happy.”
  • “My wife should leave me alone when I’ve had a hard day.”
  • “My husband should be available whenever I have something to share.”
  • “My wife should be happy to see me.”

Once they each had their handful of balloons, they each put them in front of their faces, and from there they tried to see one another and have a meaningful conversation… which was impossible!

It was such an instructive and potent visual of something typically completely invisible and usually unconscious. To this day, when my husband or I realize we have made a false assumption about the other one, we refer to them as yellow balloons.

In that workshop, we learned a few ways to pop the balloons. Since then I have learned from many other teachers, and invented some of my own great ways to pop the balloons, because there is truly nothing better in a relationship than a clear line of sight between oneself and one’s partner.

Clear vision means seeing your own and your partner’s true motivation— the nobility, the good intentions, the pain that has camouflaged and distorted those good intentions, the bright light that is in everyone and the shadows that create the growth and learning that you also see.

The process of acquiring clear vision is meandering and non-linear, partly predictable and partly unexpected. It requires focused attention, and receptivity without an agenda.  It is just like this image, where the path is clearly delineated, the destination is known, yet the path is circuitous and feels very random along the way.

I am particularly excited about the path because I am immersing myself in it as I create the Conscious Partnership Program, my group program for committed couples. 

I have been having so much fun choosing which exercises will serve participants in popping their own yellow balloons!

I am almost done and will be taking couples through the course starting June 10. If you might be interested in joining in, please hit reply and let me know, or take the Test Your Relationship IQ Quiz to see where you are in your relationship, and then schedule a call to connect.

A few couples are already enrolled and it is going to be an amazing, transformative journey for all involved!!

Intimacy is a Verb

Intimacy is a Verb

I spent last weekend participating in a fantastic women’s conference in the heart of San Francisco.

At the conference I presented a workshop on Increasing Intimacy in and out of the Bedroom. The room was filled with interesting, striving women, most of them had never met one another before.  As it was time to begin the workshop there were people hanging back against the walls, and retreating into various cozy corners which were adjacent to the room in which I was speaking.  It felt ironic that they were all attracted to learn more about increasing intimacy in their lives, but were spread out in a rather amoebic manner.

I requested that they all come to the room and be physically present, and then began the workshop.

One of my main points as I set the stage for what we would cover was to share that Intimacy is a learnable skill.

So often people believe nourishing intimacy is the result of picking the right person, or growing up with minimal childhood wounds, or just getting lucky.  While all of those are potentially helpful, the reality is that intimacy is a learnable skill—your capacity to experience intimacy grows with intention and practice, with education followed by trial and error, and integrating your experiences.  With education, you can create the most exquisite emotional and sensual intimacy!

I then proceeded to set the stage and guide the workshop participants through a simple, and profound experience. In the experience I shared tools to create intimacy in their relationships and in their life.

The women who chose to participate in my workshop, were beautiful, open, and courageous enough to try something new. They went for it and fully participated.

When I ended my presentation, I saw a room of women who were glowing, with their hearts open and their souls at ease.  What really touched me the most occurred a few minutes later when  I saw most of the participants sitting with new friends in groups of two and three, in deep, connected, intimate conversations. They felt seen, heard, understood, and appreciated by one another—they were experiencing far more intimacy than when they arrived in the room.

I felt in awe of these women who had created real intimacy with one another in the hour we were together, through using tools that will serve them for the rest of their lives in their relationships with colleagues, children, step-children, parents, neighbors, and most significantly, with their romantic partners.

Do you want more intimacy in your life?  Do you wonder which areas in your relationship need attention so that you can create the relationship you really want?  If yes, click here to test Your Relationship IQ!

I look forward to hearing what you yearn to experience. I would love to teach you how to increase intimacy in your relationship, so you experience it as a learnable skill, so you know what I mean when I say it’s a verb.

The Most Common Question I Receive…

The Most Common Question I Receive…

Men and women, both in straight and gay relationships, reach out to me regularly…

Typically, they know me personally, or they have read an article I’ve written, or they have listened to a podcast I have been a guest on, and what I share touches their heart and they reach out to connect with me.

Most commonly it’s a woman who reaches out, but often times it’s a man.

The person reaches out, and in their own way, he or she asks me whether there’s hope for them, whether there’s hope for their relationship to improve when it’s been the way it has been for awhile already.

Maybe she shares with me that they really love one another and he’s a wonderful father, but they haven’t made love in a really long time.  She can barely say it, but she wants him to look at her as a woman; she yearns to feel wanted.

Maybe he says his wife is so busy with work, kids and all kinds of other responsibilities. He doesn’t feel he has a right to ask for anything more from her when she’s already giving so much to so many.  And yet… he’s slowly dying inside, because he does want more and doesn’t know what to do to get it. By the time he’s reaching out to me, he’s started wondering if he even deserves it. Has he been a good enough man for his woman to prioritize their relationship, for his woman to make time for sensuality?

Maybe she reaches out when her wife starts coming home later, because work has become so important and they don’t connect as deeply as before.  She reaches out because, after all the attention they gave one another and their relationship when they got together, she now feels alone and isolated within their marriage.

I recognize the courage of every one who reaches out.

I hear the tenderness.

And I know, as I read the email and later hear the voice on the phone, that the most important role I have is to be an affirming, supportive listener as each person shares their pain with me. I also know our exchange may end up being an important step toward deep healing and the seed of much hope for the future.

  • Is it possible to have emotional intimacy and sensual passion with a long term partner?
  • Is it possible for a stale and dehydrated relationship to revive?
  • Is it possible for all the love that is present but stuck, to flow with connection, erotic heat, companionship and delight?

The answer is a resounding YES. I know because I have experienced it in my own marriage, and I know because I have coached many couples to experience it for themselves.

If you want this kind of connection with the one you love… if you want to heal the wounds of the past and cultivate emotional connection, sensuality, erotic heat, and openhearted collaboration, if you yearn for that I have two things to tell you:

  1. I promise you it’s possible.
  2. Reach out to me.

If you are not experiencing this right now, it’s unlikely you will create it on your own. (If you could have, you would have.) So reach out and access the guidance that’s available.

For couples ready to dive deep in order to create the relationship they really want, I offer many options from a self-study online course to highly customized private coaching.

I look forward to serving you as you create an intimate, sensual, juicy, dynamic relationship.

Please reach out, or comment below, if you would like to learn more.

Want more happiness in your relationship?

Click Here: www.TestYourRelationshipIQ.com

Ever wonder if it’s worth the trouble?

Ever wonder if it’s worth the trouble?

Years ago my marriage was in a state of uncomfortable doldrums.

We were not fighting. We were not even being critical of one another—which is to say, I wasn’t being critical of him since I am the one with the much sharper tongue.  Everything probably looked just fine from the outside.

But it wasn’t.

Because, slowly, ever so slowly, I felt like I was dying on the inside.

I felt my vibrancy and vitality were slipping away, and I couldn’t figure out how to be less porous.

I was doing all of my usual tasks and showing up for my children as needed. I made dinner every night and attended to our household in my usual comprehensive manner.

However, I didn’t feel seen. I didn’t feel appreciated. I felt a kind of underlying blend of futility and malaise.

There wasn’t anything in particular I could point to as problematic. In fact, I would have been hard put to precisely describe what it was that I was yearning for.

The only thing I was clear about was a constant invisible emptiness that I believed I shouldn’t be feeling, given how full my life was.

I took that experience and, unconsciously at first, blamed my husband for it.

Then I was more conscious about it and blamed him explicitly. I was less patient and more snippy with him.  More likely to have an ungenerous expression on my face when disappointed, and more prone to feeling disappointed.  I believed that he was not showing up for me and our marriage as I wanted, needed and yearned for him to do.

I thought about taking action to change the situation, to bring more oxygen to the dynamic between us, to be vulnerable and honest about how I was feeling… but the main thing rolling around my head was my uncertainty about whether or not it was worth it to say anything.

Once I said something, I wouldn’t be able to control what happened next.

If his feelings were hurt, I would have to deal with that. If he didn’t even understand what I was saying, that would be more painful than if I said nothing.

I really wasn’t sure what to do. So I wallowed in my experience and left it alone. Suffering valiantly and blaming him for it.

I wish so much that I knew then what I know now. I wish someone had given me Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” (but it wasn’t written yet). And most of all, I wish that I had known a couple’s coach who could have created a safe space for my husband to feel seen and heard, and for me to as well.

Do you ever wonder if it’s worth the trouble in your relationship?

When I coach couples, I am always deeply moved by the transformation that results when both members of the couple relax and trust that their needs and desires will be honored. It happens naturally because I have my attention on each of them, as well as the dynamic between them.  It’s typically a new experience, and it’s different from a couple’s usual experience of navigating their relationship on their own; it creates a deep sense of collaboration between them, and immediately results in more authenticity, emotional connection and seeing one another with clarity.

Please reach out, or comment below, if you would like to learn more.

Want more happiness in your relationship?

Click Here: www.TestYourRelationshipIQ.com