HOPE...how meeting a stranger restored mine.

When I look back on this summer one of my favorite most magical moments was when I attended the Art of Receiving workshop at Burning Man. Yes, I was surprised too. There are workshops at Burning Man. Hundreds of them. From improv, dance classes, yoga, Irish Pub sing alongs, felting...

So I'm at this workshop and at one point the facilitators have us think about something that is present for us and to stare at your partner (Mikey, who I met moments before) as you let all of these thoughts and feelings move through you and for your partner to intuit what you need to receive in this moment and convey it to you with one word.  I stare into this stranger's blue eyes and I think about all my deep desire for partnership, for romance, sex, tenderness, for sharing my life, my heart, for wanting this part of my life to be alive, engaged and present and this painful yearning in my soul for my man.

Mikey asks if he can take my hand between his. I say yes. He takes my right hand and places it in between both of his, looks me in the eye and says "Hope."

And I receive it. I feel my heart soften, the tears start to form. I feel the comfort and warmth of  his hands holding mine.

He says it again. "Hope".

The tears start streaming down my face, I lower my head. He leans his forehead against mine. "Hope."  We stay like this for a minute: my tears flowing, this stranger holding my hand, his forehead gently pressed against mine. And I receive it, I feel it moving through me and helping alchemize all the disappointment, the pain, the leather ties across my heart, the loss of faith. I feel renewed, restored, soft, tender and full of hope.

What an incredible gift to receive. 

It's two days later- the infusion of hope still running through my system. I'm sitting on a bench and a man walks over to see if I'm okay. And it's there. Organic, easy connection. Attraction, curiosity.  We watch the burning of the man from the top of his RV. We talk, we kiss, there is passion, there is playfulness. We walk through Burning Man receiving a chocolate mint cupcake (my favorite), jumping in the inflatable bouncy house, kissing, caressing, dancing. Receiving and living life infused with magic and hope.

So thank you Mikey.  Whoever you are and wherever you are for your much needed, perfectly timed infusion of hope. Thank you for opening my heart to magic, possibility and believing again. And for those of you reading this who need an infusion of hope. I take your hand in between mine. I look you in the eyes and powerfully, gently, full of love and belief share the energy of hope.  

Opening up to receive more - City of Refuge, Big Island, Hawaii. 2012.

Opening up to receive more - City of Refuge, Big Island, Hawaii. 2012.

I'm naked in a sauna in Berlin...

Yesterday I took myself to Liquidrom...a sauna, salt water pool extravaganza in Berlin. I'm in the sauna- luxuriating in the heat, the lavender infusion, my eyes are closed. Then I hear "Miss, no bathing suits allowed in the sauna."  I admit I am a little thrown, then I'm even more thrown when I get up and see the two men behind me...naked and I have to say gorgeous.  So I somewhat gracefully exit the sauna, use the shower and then walk back in and take off my swimsuit. Doing my best to get lost in the lavender infusion and having a bit of a hard time.  These are my thoughts.  "Is it no swimsuit...wear a towel around your body?" I don't think so because the men aren't. "Is it no swimsuit but be on your belly?" Doubtful. And mind you there is a wall of glass in this huge sauna that opens up to the a large outdoor lounging area where most people are in robes and bathing suits so I feel a bit on display.  A new person enters and I covertly open an eye lid and see it is a naked woman and she is not wrapping her towel around her body so I stay laid out on mine and relax a bit.

I start hearing this language I've never heard before. It is a rhythm like Australian at times and yet clearly isn't. This thought goes around and around in my head until I flip over and ask the men what language are they speaking.  Finnish. We talk about language, Finns and the saunas in their apartment, that these two men work together and are with work colleagues and a prospective hire...to see if they can hang out together.  Their words not mine.  One of the men has a kind, open energy and I am instantly attracted to him. He feels good to me. No need to think about.  We keep talking- amidst more arrivals, one who sits her naked self in between me and the men and is taking quiet awhile to get comfortable so my view goes from her torso, to his face, her arm, to the other man's face...we keep talking. I like this man more and more. His friend announces he is off to get water and the other man follows, his towel discreetly placed- thank goddess.

And I start thinking...how does one approach a naked man at a spa who is with his work colleagues and ask him out for a drink. Because I am clear I want to spend more time with him.  And it is important for me to be honest about what I want and to go for it.  

One dip in the magical salt pool later, I sit across from him and his colleagues at the outdoor lounging area, sipping my water but I don't make eye contact. I will my eyes to open and smile and they will not! I am in my head. I am acting aloof but I am not. There is a precious part of me that is scared, that has no idea about boys/men.  That has been keeping them at bay for a lifetime.  Especially ones that feel this good. I can talk for hours to the ones I have no interest in, make eye-contact etc. But when there is attraction some part of me is so afraid I flee. I've seen it happen time and time again.  And I spent the summer being curious and loving about this, seeking help, doing body work, healing up more PTSD...and my eyes will not open. Some part of me is still terrified. I forget to go to the bathroom and do a dance move to get back in my body. I forget to breathe deep. I forget to laugh, I forget to listen to music. 

At one point I am walking by the bar, glance up and see him sitting there. I say hello, except it isn't him..it's yet another scruffy bearded dark haired man. Ugg! Nice try though. Then, at long last I am back in the sauna and I see his entire group of co-workers heading to the dressing room. I lay there for a few minutes more because it isn't in my pleasure to leave yet, I want more time in sauna land and I want to talk with him (at the time I am thinking my options are get dressed and leave or stay in sauna...now I know there are more options).  I make my way to the dressing room, attempting to put on my bra and form fitting, need-help-to-get-the-zipper-all-the- way-up-dress over my sauna-hot body and I get a glimpse of him in the dressing rooms- clothed. Yes, the dressing rooms are sanctioned as male/female and yet they are no walls. That was another shock when I entered the glass door with the figurine of woman, I thought i had walked into the male locker room.  Perhaps another reason I am feeling a bit ungrounded.  I get help getting my dress zipped, go outside and he is...gone. No sign of him. Ugg. 

I go back in, put on my bathing suit and head back to the sauna to sit with all that happened and didn't happen.  

I am so tired of missing out, of being fearful, of holding back, of fleeing, of being paralyzed, of not being able to open my eyes and welcome him in. Of not asking for what I want. And yet there are many gems and expansion in all of this as well. 

Part 2 of the naked Finnish Man in the Sauna will be shared tomorrow.  It involves talking to myself in the streets of Berlin, giggles, wasabi peas, sobbing on a bridge and being asked out for a glass of wine by another man in front of a restaurant called Oxymoron.

Until then, I wish you so much love. May your eyes and heart open. 

So that happened

And I'm still not sure what all of it was. A week in the desert with 65,000 people committed to radical self expression and inclusion. More please. More fresh coconuts being handed to me, more freshly peeled cucumbers sprinkled with salt, more gatherings at The Dusty Swan Irish Pub for a jam session, more Disco roller skating, riding my bike across the playa in a sand storm, sitting in an art installation prairie church at 4am, hugging strangers as they sobbed in the temple releasing their broken hearted pain.  More singing "Eternal Flame" as I zipped across the playa on my bike at 2am, more foot rubs, More intimacy, laughter, dancing, 20 piece live bands, Johny Cash being blasted from a wild west saloon car.  More furry boots, high fives, contact improv dancing, afternoon naps in hammocks. More love. Yes.

On Sunday night thousands gather in total silence to watch the Temple- full of thousands of photos, poems, mementos, writings - burn to the ground. All of that pain alchemized by fire into love, forgiveness, and release.  As the ashes were carried off into the night sky I was touched by the cycle. We come from the earth, we return to the earth. And during our time here, what would make it sweeter, kinder? Where can we create more gentleness, more connection, more love?  How can we create more intimacy, vulnerability, respect for mother earth and her resources?  How can we love bolder, braver, more full out?  How can we radically self-express ourselves in our day-to-day life?  

What can you release today? Let the fire transmute into love?

For me, I am taking more risks with my love, being more direct in my communication, in my needs, singing out loud as I go my daily walks, buying more flowers, appreciating the little things which then fills me up so I can give more love, letting go of all that no longer serves me and brings me deep joy.  I hope today brings you much love, freedom, magic and more. 

Temple Burn

Temple Burn

Temple at sunrise

Temple at sunrise