I have babied my boy for the past six years. It’s true. When he doesn’t want to walk anymore, I will put him on my shoulders. I will carry his bikes or other things that he no longer wants to deal with. I will brush his teeth, and wipe his butt.
We still sleep together, and we often bathe together too. He has learned the art of how to care for a woman’s naked body in a bathtub. He will soap up my body and rub me down. He has learned how to place each of his fingers between each of my toes. He has also learned to gently lift my breasts in order to clean underneath them. I like to think that I am providing his future partners with a solid. I imagine them, in the future, high-fiving the Me in this now and mouthing the words, “You rock! Thank you.” ;) Unfortunately, my late partner and I were fighting a lot about this in the last months leading up to his death. Our son was four years old when we escaped the anxiety-producing lifestyle of southern California as well as from our family's first cancer journey. We ran south of the border so we could breathe deeper, spend less money and apply the money we didn’t use to our college loan debt. (Which didn't really happen.)
During our first month abroad, we lived in a worldschool village in Mexico. We were a group of primarily western families staying in an old, small hotel in a Mayan village located on the northern Yucatan peninsula. A Mexican American family was renting the space and producing "worldschool" programming out of it. We spent our time together sightseeing the region, like the crystalline, ocean waters between Cancun and Merida as well as visiting the local ruins, called Ek Balam, along with taking in a sound and laser show produced on the walls of the world famous Chichen Itza. We also enjoyed various class programs, like weaving, and dreamcatcher, tortilla and hot cacao making, as presented to us in the round, hut homes of our Mayan neighbors.
When we left this idyllic spot, however, Burt became quite tough on our son. He started demanding that Cee brush his own teeth and wipe his own butt. He would even chastise me for my willingness to carry our boy. “He’s only four,” I would respond. “I get to do this now, but not forever.” I couldn’t understand Burt’s behaviors, especially since he had asked for such little responsibility from his daughter who he had raised part-time, on his own. When she was fourteen, she would fly out of bed at the last minute and run to school, sometimes without brushing her teeth or feeding herself.
Shuffled between her two parent’s homes her entire life, she didn’t know how to manage and organize herself or her stuff. She was always forgetting things, like her homework, a book, or her soccer clothes, and her Dad was quick to run to bring them to her. He never inquired about her school work and, each semester, she seemed to begin brightly only to fade into a depressed state as the school year advanced.
Still, when she would say “Play with your child, Dad,” he was quick to comply. In the early afternoon, he would set aside his work to hop on video games or other media devices with her. I demanded change, to all of this. I wanted them to spend quality time together, yes - after chores and work and dinner had been tended to. As a night owl, though, he had spent his adult years losing his Circadian rhythm to programming 0's and 1's into a screen and, at 47 years of age, patterns and habits are really hard to change. It was challenging, to say the least. Then, at 53 years of age and when our son was just 5 years and 3 months old, my partner died. The cancer had shown back up in his liver, with a vengeance. So, here I am: a lone Mother to a boy child. It has been a full year since the death of his Dad, whom we speak of everyday.
The other day, I was admiring my son’s feet and talking about how they are just like his Dad’s and how I loved his Dad’s strong, beautiful legs.
We also have a yellow and black Grosbeak bird that continually shows up at our casita window, pecking it with its beak as it flutters to and from a branch in an avocado tree just a few feet away. “Say “Hi!” to your Dad,” I say to Cee, whenever the bird appears. This weekend, I found myself exhausted by my menstrual cycle and just the fact that it is me, alone, doing it all. 24/7. I no longer have the partner who balanced me out. Who tended to the financial part of life as I tended to the domestic duties. Who was the best playmate to our son while I made food in the kitchen, did all of our laundry and cleaned the house. And whose deep patience and gentle ways complemented my quick to frustration and sometimes harsh temperament. :( And I began to wonder if Burt’s demands on Cee’s behavior were his subconscious minds attempt to prepare us us for this future that was to come. Part of me wishes now that I would have just let Burt demand these things. Instead though, I talk to Cee and I tell him how tired I am and how I need his help by him taking care of these self-care chores for himself so that I don’t have to do these things as well as everything else.
(Burt was the one who had modeled talking to our children and then, after, asking them if they have heard what was being said by asking them to repeat what they heard. Burt was amazing like this.)
Cee likes being babied though. Imagine that? However, at six years old, I am preparing him for his up and coming 7th birthday. "At seven, everything changes," I tell him. "You will no longer be a baby."
There are already spoken expectations for him in which he make our bed in the morning, or everyday, and that he help with other age-appropriate chores, like sweeping and helping to keep our life organized. All of which he still needs my help with though. But, soon enough, we will no longer fit in the bathtub together. And, someday, I would like to sleep next to someone else. ;)
For now, however, we soak up the sweetness of his bee~ing my numero uno person. It goes too fast, and I don't want to look back in regret feeling like I missed this time to just bee my baby's Mama. Like his Dad was, my intention is to raise a King of Light. You can read about who and how Kings of Light are here >>
Parenting 101: Expand Your Self before Procreating
When I was 24, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit a best friend who spent a year and a half studying abroad in southern Africa. I had made my way there after spending a month traversing, via train and other public transportation, from Sydney to Perth, Australia. The turn of the 21st century had just taken place, and I chose to make good use of all of the privilege bestowed upon me as a middle-class citizen of the USA by spending a year traveling the globe and expanding my horizons beyond what my life, mainly raised in California, USA, had taught me. I arrived, by bus and after crossing the border from Johannesburg, South Africa, into Zimbabwe, armed with only the physical address of where my best friend lived. This was in 2001, and just a few years before the tsunami of a cell phone empowered, worldwide populace hit. So I walked from the bus station, where people pushed their ways to the front of the line and through the dusty, city streets of Harare, with a large, red backpack on my back. Street vendors hawking fresh fruits and vegetables and African men professing their love -“I love you!” they would sing out to this obviously western, white girl as they passed by me on the other side of the street - became my tour guides.
It didn’t take long before I arrived at the doorstep of an earth-toned, 3-story apartment building where children joyfully ran around and played together all day long. Inside apartment #29, I found the woman I had met just a few years earlier, when she was a freshman on my college campus and I was cruising into my fourth year. At this point, however, she had already been in Harare for a year and was living with a new best friend she had made via her study abroad program at the University of Harare. Back then, these two, white girls were teaching me a few things about “race.” Like:
1.) Don’t be colorblind. See color. Celebrate it, along with what makes each of us different and unique.
2.) Africa is a massive continent comprised of 52 countries. Don’t make assumptions about it based on the narrow programming of a few westerners who are often running fundraisers for “the starving children in Africa.” There is poverty here, yes, and there is much wealth here, too.
And, 3.) The isolationism that comes with wealth in the USA, such as each child having their own bedroom and each nuclear family having everything they need just for themselves, is having a deleterious effect on our country’s collective mental health. For five weeks, I stayed on the couch in their apartment as they enjoyed their regular schedule of school days and volunteer work. They even left me behind for a week when they went to Lake Victoria to enjoy their spring break, of which I didn’t join because I was a "penniless" traveler. (Ha!)
Most of my days were spent wandering through, as well as sitting up in a tree, in the main park in downtown Harare, where out of work men laid about depressed as women, with children tied to their backs via old bath towels & fabrics, hustled to make ends meet. During this time, I came to know a few of the “street urchins” – the young men who would rush up to vehicles at red lights in order to wash windows or, who would sell their own bodies [to other men] in order to make just a few dollars.
(There was even a local guy named "Leo," who had dreads like a lion's mane. We briefly bonded over Bob [Marley.] Maybe, he will be the inspiration for a piece about sex as a cure for headaches in my 'Sex & Intimacy' section. Or, maybe not... ;) ) It is on the back of colonialism that allows me to travel the world, so I try to be as conscientious as I can by not just being a tourist who consumes things and takes photos just to brag about her travels with friends. (In fact, I didn't have a camera on these first, world travels of mine.) A capitalist, world market is inherently unjust, yet I like to think that others would do what I am doing if they could and I imagine them encouraging me to just ‘keep going.’ What I noticed most about life in Harare, as well as in an outlying village where I was invited to stay a week living on the land (called ‘kumusha,’ in Shona – one of Zimbabwe’s native languages) was how much our child-rearing choices and norms affected the well-being of children. In the girls’ apartment complex, we never heard children screaming, or crying. They were usually playing joyfully and peacefully together for long stretches of time. In my five weeks on that land, I saw one child having a meltdown outside of the local pool. As a citizen of the USA, this felt so unfamiliar.
And I realized it was because of a few things: 1.) Child-wearing and breastfeeding.
2.) The maintenance of an inter-generational family unit, plus the village. And,
3.) Children know their place in society. They are not the center of the world. They are in orbit around many centers. Their parents and primary caregivers, first; the whole family unit, second; and then their village/society, third. Our children are our moons, orbiting us, and together we make a revolution around the greater whole. For the next thirteen years, as a single woman, I imagined that my guiding mantra as a parent would be: My job is not to center my child, but to raise him knowing that he is a part of a whole and that his job is to contribute to me, our family and our home and then to the wider circle. We have created a massive problem in the USA in which we have centered our children. We lead lives catering to their desires, whims and needs. But all this does is make our children feel unsafe. It is not a child’s job to lead. It is our job to guide and direct our children in the directions that are best for their highest well-being and for the whole of our culture and planet. As well, it is imperative that we play "the long game" in our parenting. This was something my partner, Burt, and I talked about a lot. The question becomes: “Who do I want my child to be when they are an adult themself?”
In answering this question, I then work backwards in attempting to guide and nurture my child in this direction. As well, I contemplate what this world could look like when my child is an adult (and not just the fantasy of how I want it to look.)
Again, depending on the vision I see – which, hopefully, is steeped in current patterns of behaviors and habits that are collectively, as well as individually, in motion on our planet – I make choices and decisions in my childrearing specific to this. Personally, I believe that, in the future that is coming, it will be imperative that my child knows how to cooperate in order to not just survive but to thrive. Thus, I am doing my best right now to raise my child to know how to: empathize and respect all people of all ages as well as being willing to compromise and feeling confident in asking for his needs to be met.
I am also raising him to know that he is not entitled to a comfortable life in which all of his desires are a given. Disappointment and pain are a given to life on planet Earth. How he chooses to respond to what life hands him in every given moment is everything. How about you? What's your long game? And, what future are you preparing your children for?
As a lone Mother to a six-year old boy, I am now doing my best to raise a new generation of huMan. Someone who has equilibrium flowing between his Masculine and Feminine essences. What I mean is that he is able to gracefully transition from being in his mind and with his mental energy to being in his heart and body and with his desires for love, authentic power and expression to be seen, heard and witnessed.
I am raising my son to listen to and lead with his heart as he also allows the discerning wisdom of his 3rd eye to guide his path. A boy who is connected to his root, and isn't afraid of his sexuality. Who allows his voice to passionately convey, in as many moments as possible, what he needs to express. And who is connected to Spirit and the Cosmos as well as to the messy dirtiness of what it means to be huMan on planet Earth.
A strong spirit tempered with a gentle soul. A boy who is learning how to Love his Mama (and thus all other women in his life from here on out) by honoring her boundaries and asking for consent before he touches her butt or her boobs, or in other playful or more rough ways. A boy who is being taught to clean up after himself, and to contribute to the whole of our life together - even at six years old. A man in the making who knows how to bathe with Woman, how to soap her body up and rub her body down. Who respects her "No!" and is able to simultaneously flow with the chaos of emotions and feelings.
As well, I am raising Cee to be a young person who won’t take shit from others. Who has deep compassion and empathy, but for himself, first and foremost. Relentless bullies will bee put in their place. Misogyny and injustice will be called out. I know I am not alone in this pursuit. I am so grateful to all of my sisters who are on this journey with me. And, I feel really sad about the large amount of Mamas who have come before and how they allowed their boys to behave in entitled, spoilt, violent, and cruel ways. I understand though, for they too were simply cogs caught in the wheel of prevailing cultural norms on planet Earth.
That day is over. A new world has begun.
Dear Shadow Kings, (You know who you are.) Please come to the LIGHT. You are needed, and wanted, here. xoxox, Cara P.S. I am so grateful Cee had his Dad for as long as he did ~ 5.25 years. Burt personified most of this. P.S.S. Recently, in chatting with my hypnotherapist about how I "needed" to have sex, he said, "Cara, you are like me. You want all or nothing." And... it's true. Except, he's a dude living in a Man's world. For him, there are millions of amazing women like Me. Seriously. Gorgeous, embodied, Soul-full woMen. I am blessed to call them 'Sister.' And, 'Friend.' Woman's overt oppression has forced US into the underground where we have had to reclaim our whole bee-ing. huMan? Not so much. Maybe there are thousands of men who could meet me. (If I am lucky.) And I can't settle because all it does is to create anger, and rage. So, my odds are fucked. Thus, I write.
I have had a Shadow King show up in my life who was a barista at my favorite, local coffee shop. We shared no mutual friends, nor did he use social media. He was the front man of a popular band and I am pretty sure had a girlfriend. (Not that he was honest enough to say so, even if I had openly inquired. If you will have to read more of my writing in the future to find out why I was 99% sure he had a girlfriend. Anyhoot...)
He ended up with my phone number and proceeded to sext me on his flight to perform at a summer concert series in Brooklyn, New York. He was sitting next to his band mates on the plane, texting me the sexual things he wanted us to do together and all I could think was about how his bandmates must know exactly what he is doing and are sitting there smirking at the jerk. Pattern much?
It was odd because it wasn't how I typically engage. However, yet again, that pulse inside of my body had taken hold, and even though I could sense all of this dysfunction, I allowed a sexual interaction to unfold between us.
Finally, he came over - late, and ready to rock and roll. (Ha!) It was the night before my 36th birthday celebration. And I watched as the revulsion in his eyes took hold as the fantasy in his mind popped. I wasn’t the pin up girl for his poster, after all.
After our brief encounter, he forced himself to spend the night next to me, on my roommate’s twin bed. We tried to converse, but he was a Contrarian who debated everything just to prove his superiority. Of course, he ghosted me beginning the following morning.
I wasn’t going to let him keep me from my favorite coffee shop, though. Upon seeing me again, he was filled with hatred. He would toss my change on the counter after I ordered my coffee, or drop our plates on our table after my best friend and I snickered about my experiences with him.
He behaved like a total and utter asshole. But, his behavior had nothing to do with me.
It was all his own self-loathing.
I, on the other hand, just kept showing up. Being Me. And offering compassion.
It’s not his fault that the people around him coddle him and let him get away with his behavior. Beginning with his own parents. Then, his friends and bandmates. As well, our world culture promotes this behavior, actually. HuMan is suffering. Acutely disconnected from his emotional body, he doesn't recognize all of the on-going pain that this is causing him. Brainwashed by false notions of FREEDOM and drunk on INAUTHENTIC POWER, he has no awareness that his complete and utter disconnection from his Emotional Body Is the Source of all of his suffering. (Unfortunately, the only way out of his pain is through it. Thus, he must allow himself to FEEL. & THIS WILL HURT. DEEPLY.) As you perhaps can imagine, it is a horrifically painful experience to be cut off from part of your whole Self.
HuMan needs our help. So that His stone-cold heart can melt. (And, I need these experiences with Shadow Kings in order to continue to melt my own stone-cold heart. Though, I also think that I allow for these experiences with Shadow Kings because I need to write about it and tell my stories. After all, bringing it into the light where it can be seen is the only way that change can happen.) Don’t worry, though – I ended up in a spiritual marriage with a KING OF LIGHT. It was actually the day after my experience with the above Shadow King in which I realized that I needed to surrender to the love and affection that Burt had been demonstrating to, and for, me from day one. My KING OF LIGHT embodied vulnerability, transparency and, for six years, taught me everything I know now about consent, unconditional love, and self-worth.
What a gift! To top it off, he gave me the other greatest gift of my life ~ our Son.
During my first sexual awakening, at the tender age of 16, I was overtaken by a physical sensation within my body when I witnessed a classmate, with whom I had spent the past few months openly flirting with, put on someone else’s cotton, flannel shirt and then tear it off at the seams by simply flexing his muscles. Holy fuck! I was overcome by the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone flooding my system and there was no denying my body the insatiable hunger that it now possessed.
Unfortunately, I was not raised within a sex positive or body positive environment. (Just as most of us weren’t.) The ideas about sex that were being handed down were ridiculous. “Don’t do it.” “Your body is a temple.” “Your first time has to be special.” And on and on it went. Without anyone I could talk to about what was happening inside of my body, I did my best to navigate a tumultuous time. I also felt the need to create a relationship with someone, who was absolutely incapable of intimacy and vulnerability, when all I really wanted to do was to have sex with him. As you can imagine, our being together was dramatic. He “cheated on me” with numerous girls, even being so emboldened as to have us all hang out together. He and his best friend would snicker in the living room, as I sat out on the back patio with one of his latest conquests.
Back then, I didn’t understand my gift of being able to see in the dark, and I didn’t have my voice yet. I remember that Thanksgiving holiday, when I was in a swimming pool with my best friend at the time, and I came up from under the water with my dark hair covering my face. “What am I?” I asked my bestie. “Cousin It?” she replied. “I am the boys’ favorite thing…. A whole without a face.” Ouch. I was a senior in high school and this painfully aware and self-deprecating. If only I had had wise guidance… Yeah, I saw all of his behaviors happening right under my nose but, honestly, I didn’t care. I, too, was just using him for his body. There was no language for this back then in 1993. Even today, almost 30 years later, and it is hard to transparently communicate: “I just want to have sex with you, and use you for your body. Can we agree to this?” “Yes? And…it will probably only happen this one time. Okay?” Okay.
This may be implied by Tinder and our other online, hookup apps but the lack of verbal consent does not serve us. We have to be able to talk about it – all of it. Thus, I quickly learned that when my body is magnetized by an insane attraction for another person’s body (which, for me, is typically a man’s, as I experience something electric in a strong man’s body, and in touching with my fingertips, skin and tongue, his flat waist that gives way to the slight curve of pectoral muscles, which leads to his toned biceps and triceps or his rock-hard quads. Rawwwrrr…) then he and I usually share similar core wounds. Not so shockingly, when we jump into sex, these unhealed parts of ourselves rise to the surface. That’s a lot to deal with when you are just wanting to engage in the animal pleasures of the body.
That’s the thing about sex though. It’s all about pleasure. Anyone can pleasure anyone, and there is a myriad of ways to experience pleasure.
Pleasure is a deeply personal pursuit. So, then I realized that I didn’t need carnal desire to have sex, and I was probably better off without it if I wanted to have an actual relationship. (Which is where greater juice, and chances for our evolution, lay.) Thus it is how it is how my three, long-term relationships did not include red, hot chemistry. Chemistry can be developed, especially through intimacy and deeper connection - which is where great sex exists, anyways. But this post is actually about the men who are deeply afraid of vulnerability, emotions and feelings. I call them SHADOW KINGS, and I attract them to me like moths to a flame. (Because my Daddy remains in the shadows to this day. :( ) They are often easy to identify as they like to throw around words like Light, Christ Consciousness, the Feminine & Masculine and more, but they don’t know actually how to embody these ideals. Or, they can be found largely in bars and other darkly lit spaces, standing around with other men, usually hoping to get laid. I briefly dated one Shadow King who loved to pray over his glass bottle filled with pure water. When we would see each other, he would want me to run and jump into his arms like one of his other girl-friends did. For my dance studio’s one-year anniversary celebration, where San Diego’s hottest, local band was headlining, he showed up late, casually dressed and empty handed. Meanwhile, the following week, he shared pictures on his phone with me of his attending the pole dance performance of the aforementioned friend in which he was dressed to the nines and armed with a large, floral bouquet.
“Um, I think you should ask her out,” I said in response, as we sat next to each other in a vegan-eatery. “You’re just jealous,” he quipped. “Excuse me?” Are you freakin' kiddin' me? Yeah, I ended that dating relationship that night, during which he had the nerve to squeeze out a few tears over it. Are you for real?! Can you men please just be honest with yourselves, especially about what you want and your fears that keep you from going after this? And, if you don’t know, then channel your sexual energy into becoming clear on what your desires and needs are first. Another example is: a shadow king is someone who breaks up with you, and makes it about you. (If he blames his negative behaviors on you on the whole, then Get.Out.Now.) Such as, “You’re not attractive enough.” “You don’t wear lingerie.” Or, “You don’t speak my same, personal development language.” Instead of just owning his own discomfort and clearly stating, “I don’t want do this anymore. I am sorry. It’s not working for me. I need something else” and then walking away – with no looking back, and no texting or further flirting. It hurts. Yes. And, it’s clean and clear. Cauterize the wound. Feel your pain. Let it heal. Then, move on.
Here is just one way it can look to embody the vibration of LOVE. Sometimes, I use music to help me touch that which cannot be spoken, or named. This song, Love is the Strongest Medicine I Know by Kevin Paris, really touches a chord within me.
I hope you will allow yourself to be touched, whether that bee by music, media or another.
As well, give yourself permission to make sound, be heard and sing. It feels good.
I am the absolute dorkiest, most vulnerable person on a dance floor. When I allow myself to just let go and release - expression, sound, movement, etc. - then I remember that JOY and INNOCENCE are our birthright here.
JOIN ME!!!!!!! The playlist for EMBODYING THE MEDICINE of the OX & CELEBRATING LOVE is FREAKIN' GROOVY.
Click here for the invite to our first, FREE, 4th Sunday, ONLINE & CONNECTED DANCE EXPERIENCE.
I finally did it! I got laid. ;) I definitely sent a voice message to my closest group of sisters celebrating the fact that I received two nights of hungry hands groping for the taste of naked, taught skin that I had been famished for. Truth be told, I really needed it to be with a very specific body type. After eighteen months of witnessing disease run a deadly course across my once-vibrant, 10-years older than me man’s body, I needed VIRILITY.
Oh, and how the Universe delivered! (Meow!!) With thick fingers and wide palms, calloused by manual labor; a distinguished nose, and jawline covered in wiry facial hair; and a thick mane of dark hair that I had been wanting to run my hands through from the moment he and I first caught eyes. Rawrrrrrr.
It was brief, red hot chemistry and I savored every fucking moment of. I knew what I was getting myself into, however. His deep fear of vulnerability and, thus, inability to connect deeply was evident from the moment we exchanged names.
Yet, sometimes in life, I cannot deny my body the deafening signal it is being called towards. Even though I have been shown, over and over again, that this insane attraction is usually rooted in some deep, unhealed part of ourselves, I still allowed for our experience to unfold. However, it was crystal clear that he was operating within the realm of shadow. For example, he only wanted to meet up at night and I am pretty sure that each time he showed up he was highly altered by a substance. Even if it was just Cannabis (of which I too am a frequent user), he was on a solo adventure that I just happened to be a part of. As well, he would not directly answer my questions about sex.
When we first exchanged names, I asked him if he would be interested in Tantra. I had become aware that, more than anything, practicing presence and sensuality with others would meet most of my needs. And that what I don't want is to project my hidden desires onto another, since this can come with a very heavy feeling of expectation. Rather, what I can do is to channel my sexual energy in order to to gain clarity on what it is that I really need.
His embodied response and lack of words were telling. He seemed, well, scared. After our first, few hours alone together, during which he reminded me how to strum the major chords on a guitar, our relating had evolved into eye gazing. “Quieres besar?” I inquired. Without emotion, he just shrugged in response, yet he seemed happy to receive my leaning into him and then ending up on his lap. This lack of clear consent and communication is not ideal. In fact, I don't recommend it. But, yet again, I only asked for sex. I didn’t ask for intimacy, too. And quickly, I remembered, that sex without intimacy sucks. It can only ever be good - maybe really good, but never great. :( It just doesn't work like this. (For most of us women. Men as well. Perhaps, you too?)
(By intimacy, however, I do not mean a committed, monogamous partnership. What I mean is practicing LOVE which is: being present & aware; committed to the moment at hand and all of the thoughts and feelings that arise within it; communicating clearly our desires, needs, expectations and boundaries; etc.
For me, SEX & INTIMACY can be many-pronged: ~Just SEX; ~ Sex with Intimacy; ~ Intimacy without sex (I like sharing intimacy with a lot of people, and it doesn't have to be "sexual." Personally, I don't find it wise to share body fluids with a lot of people given the amount of disease, untreated trauma and pain masquerading as Love on planet Earth today); -And Sex with Intimacy and Partnership.
I am working back towards the latter, But I am not ready for partnership right now. I might as well PRACTICE LOVE & INTIMACY along the way though.)
I am also choosing to share some of my experience here because SEX NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT INTO THE LIGHT. Sex is natural.
My late partner and I both agreed that it is like breath. Unfortunately, my partner’s sex drive had been eviscerated by the six rounds of chemotherapy and 48 targeted radiation sessions he received in early 2019. He wasn’t available for me sexually during our last year together, which we talked about and I understood. He and I didn’t need to have sex to feel close. He was my closest confidant whom I miss talking to about everything to this very day. Without shame or guilt, I share with you that I was excited at the prospect of having sex with someone not long after my partner died. Last June, I was talking a lot about sex, especially with a mutual friend of ours. “Geez, Cara,” she responded. “Burt hasn’t been gone for very long.” True. AND… He would never want for me to deny or avoid this elemental part of my being out of some false notion of “respect.” But, even still, sex after loss doesn’t come easily. It’s a process of steadily tearing off the many seals that you don’t even realize time has bestowed you with, and that remind you of your loss with each step of the way. It can be painful to feel & experience all of this. There's programming the phone number of someone new whom you are interested in getting to know into your phone. Even if it is for only a texting relationship, it is a connection that now exists outside of the framework of the life you recently lived within. And, more than likely, you would not be interested in experiencing more intimacy with this person, if your partner was still alive. I tore off this first seal back in May 2020. It took me a week to overcome my fear, feel a pit in my stomach and then just do it. I am glad I did.
There’s also the contemplation of having sex with someone new. Early on, I considered asking someone younger to help me out with this, but I realized that the barren walls and lack of personality in his living space had everything to do with a deep fear of being seen - which is what having passionate opinions and strong proclivities means. Plus, I didn't know how I was going to respond under the touch of a stranger. Will I cry? Will they be able to hold space for me? Or, would someone take my behaviors personally?
To top it all off, my man was the King of Vulnerability. I really didn't want to move backwards in my forward trajectory.
Sometimes, though, all we can do is poco a poco (little by little), to get us where we are going. There is also the small, little fact that our planet is in the midst of a worldwide infectious disease outbreak. There are no more bars or restaurants to meet at; no dance clubs to wriggle our hips together; and cruising for dudes with a mask on at 6’ distance is just weird. As well, it doesn’t seem wise to kiss a stranger in the midst of a public health crisis.
So, what to do?
I went into the safety of my past, via good ol’ Facebook.
(This peace is continued from Love After Loss: Beecoming Whole) Today, my heart breaks to see the extreme isolationism that our world culture is being pushed towards.
We aren’t meant to be alone. We came here to thrive - together. We need each other. Yet, even here in this blissful bubble, on these mountain hills of a southern Ecuador town, way too many people are choosing a solitary life lived alone and primarily within the untouchable confines of their own minds. Atolls of false security, fantasy keeps most of us afloat. As does a desire to avoid dealing with our pain, which is something that only Love illuminates within us. So, we keep running away from each other, claiming “pickiness” and a desire to be alone.
We aren’t picky. And we aren’t meant to be alone. We are afraid. But we didn’t come here to live in fear. We came here to be joy-filled, sovereign, alive and vibrant. I share all of this because I understand the journey of fearing love, and also because I know I am not alone.
I share all of this with hopes of inspiring others - perhaps, someone like you - to expand beyond your comfort zone and to invite more people into your life, to see and know you. It is the only way we will heal, and thrive.
As well, I write this because, I now know LOVE and I am inviting you to know it for yourself. It’s the only way we are going to survive in the times to come.
And it’s the only thing that we take with us when death comes for each of us. Because death does come. Thus, the question beecomes, how do you want to LIVE?!
In Love? Or with the absence of it?
I know what I will choose, over and over again.
Even as I lose. Even as I am rejected. Even as I am hated, and reviled.
Even as my heart is broken into a million pieces.
It’s the only way the light gets in. Join Me. (I double dog dare ya.) (Wanna see me dancing to the above song and showing how you can embody the vibration of Love? Then, go here. >> )
(This piece is continued from "On Love Before Loss") For six years, I had the unconditional love of an amazing man at my side. Burt and I were the closest of confidants and we spent most of our time together, especially since he worked from home. We raised a baby into a little boy and spent our time enjoying just being alive, with long walks along the beach and by sustaining community in the suburban home we rented where Burt would regularly speak aloud about Love during our many gatherings. Our relationship and life weren’t perfect, by any means. We fought and had our issues and, in a lot of ways, we weren’t on the same page about a lot of things. However, we were always able to communicate clearly with each other and come back to LOVE. Which is: a listening, generous heart; a willingness to compromise and meet others where they are at; and a desire to keep moving forward, together.
Then, he got cancer. A warrior, he not just managed to survive through 6 sessions of chemotherapy and 48 sessions of targeted proton radiation to his upper head and neck, but he also did it without losing his bright smile and shining eyes. He would even still come out to play with his young child and I in order to toss balls at the baseball bat our son was holding or to launch model rockets at the playground.
With remission, we packed up and downsized our southern California life. We headed south of the border to make memories that will last for a lifetime and to check items off of our family bucket list. We swam with whale sharks in Cancun, Mexico; lived in a worldschool village with half a dozen other families in the Mayan Yucatan; visited ancient temples and ruins, like Chichen Itza; bused it through Mexico and into Belize; wandered around the banks of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala; and then landed in southern Ecuador to thrive for a few months. Then, he died. And our whole world crashed into a dystopian novel.
My learning how to Love amidst Loss has been my life’s greatest work over the past year. Meanwhile, I - and everyone else - have also been dealing with a global pandemic, national outrage and environmental calamity. Thus, Burt's death has been an invitation for me to feel all of it - along with my grief and my rage, my pain and my numbness. In order to be present for my son, I have had to become real honest with myself, real quick. Like about how I need to: center my mental health; stop projecting my frustrations onto my child; and change some of my own behaviors so that my son and I thrive together. Along the way, I have been discovering greater integrity, empathy and self-respect.
One year later, and I am a 44-year old widow and a lone Mother to a six-year old. I now navigate around a planet besieged by disease and deathly fearful of loss. Somehow, I have managed to both survive and root deeper into my own sense of Self Love.
On Valentine's Day 2021, I found myself embodying Self Love, as I have come to see and value Me. I like who I am. I like how I engage with the world, and who I consistently show up to bee. And I don't need anyone else to validate my experience(s).
Likewise, it doesn't matter how anyone responds to, or thinks about, Me.
I have beecome Whole.
(Need support in your beecoming whole.? Reach out!) (To read the last installment of this writing, go here>> "CHOOSE LOVE")
(CONTINUED FROM PAIN MASQUERADING AS LOVE) At the start of my Saturn return (which is around 28 years old), I invited someone ‘foreign’ into my life with a messy start that triggered both of our early childhood abandonment wounds. He was my choice, though. An “illegal immigrant” from south of the border whose colorful life was filled with daring stories of narrow escape and an exciting new lifestyle. I reveled in his storytelling. I also crumbled during our four-year relationship in which he was highly emotionally unavailable as well as addicted to being high.
By 32 though, I had recommitted to following my own heart once again and showing up in the dance. Three days a week, I had the opportunity to drop into my body with other human beings on a dance floor in San Diego County where we committed to the moments at hand and simply remembered how to connect. To ourselves. And, then, to each other. It is this merry group of intergenerational movers and shakers who modeled and, ultimately, taught me how to let go even more and allow for more intimacy in my life. At first, I wanted to run away. I wanted to judge them as not being good enough, or as being weird, white, hippies flailing about.
I wanted to believe that I didn’t need them, or to be touched by any of them.
Back in my parent’s home with the television blaring on a Friday night though, and I had to admit to myself that I was wrong. Slowly, I came to accept that Joy, Innocence, Vulnerability & Ecstasy, along with Pain, Sadness, & so much more, are all our birthright.
And then, unbeknownst to me, my future life partner and the father of my soon-to-bee son walked into our dance studio doors. Even though it was, for me, instantaneous soul recognition - from the get go of our first meeting - I still bumbled. For eighteen more months, I continued to choose emotionally unavailable people to sexually engage with as well as “Shadow Kings.” But, for the first time ever, I let go of who I *thought* I “could,” or “should,” be with and, instead, I just allowed myself to be open. What happens then?
Maybe, you realize it is time to allow yourself to be loved and you choose the person who actually loves you. (And not the person you envision about loving – "If only they…..") Someone who seeks you out. Who shows an eagerness in getting to know you. Who shows up at your house, or your work, with briefcase in hand, and a beat-up car out front just to spend time with you. Someone who is unafraid to be vulnerable and asks to hold your hand, or to kiss you. That One. Or, maybe, you take the risk to be this person for someone else. To put yourself out there. To open yourself up to the possibility of rejection. To choose love over fear.
Choose love over fear, friends. [To read "LOVE AFTER LOSS: Becoming Whole" go here]
We are meant to bee together. We aren’t here to do this thing alone.
My whole life I have wanted to know what Love is. You see, I come from a sticky, poisonous situation in which emotions and ideas are projected onto others. If someone felt bad, then they would hurl their feelings at another in attempt to feel better. “You have no friends.” “You lazy lout!” and “Selfish bitch!” were epithets often shouted within the home I grew up within. A house that was chock full of all the material things but absolutely devoid of heart-felt connection and human compassion.
Undiagnosed mental health disease ran amok there. It also looked like hands slapping faces, pulling hair and beating butts with a leather belt. Violence, and the lack of consent that comes with it, weaves a disastrous tale.
Ours was a place antagonistic towards empathy. A deep fear of vulnerability and a superiority complex kept the people within it as separate islands, retreating to the illusory safety of their own rooms. What then could I possibly know of LOVE? Growing up within a tight container of control, being told how to dress and style my hair, kept home and not allowed to do the things that my peers were doing, I became adept at being alone. I crawled up into fantasy and often felt like a princess awaiting someone – a prince, or even just a friend - to save her from the bell tower of an evil queen.
By the time I finally escaped at the sweet age of 17 going on 18, patterns had already set in. I didn’t know how to empathize. I preferred to sleep alone. I ran from intimacy and found myself hating the people who wanted to love me and chasing after the ones that simply were not available - either emotionally, or physically. For many years, I would go on long walks alone, lost in the images of my mind about the day when someone specific would be the "right" fit for me. I was beyond “picky.” I was deeply fearful, and I didn’t even know it. I somewhat had a sense of how to get my physical needs met, though. Wham, bam, thank you, Man. But sex without intimacy is empty. There is little to be learned or gained from the interaction. Aside from, maybe, an orgasm (if you’re lucky. ;) )
Then, I hit 25. As my friends from grade school began getting married and having children, I realized that my lack of experiencing a long-term relationship meant that I was, in actuality, emotionally stunted. It was time to just try and let someone in, closer to me. But I refused to choose the person who wanted to love me unabashedly. Instead, I chose someone who fit more of someone else’s ideas of whom I *should* be with. It was disastrous, and perfect. We moved in together where he projected onto me his pain, and he behaved so much like the once evil Royalty in my life. These patterns that begin outside of us end up taking root within us. We have to root them out.
Thank you. Next.
(This writing continues here >> "ON LOVE: Before Loss")
Thank you for winding your way to my website. I'm Cara, and I have always loved being in my body. Born in Canada, but raised in southern California, I was a dancer, singer and a writer all through the 80s and 90s as the expressive arts have long been a healing balm for me, and a way that I connect to something greater than what can be the misery of this human experience. There is a lot of pain here on planet Earth to be felt. (Perhaps you feel it too?)
My early pain was situated within being raised under the care of the two adults whom, I believe, my Soul chose in order to help me evolve. (What a fascinating idea that is... adversity as a means of evolution.) They are just two flawed humans who, to this day, continue to reside within their pain bodies. Growing up this looked like alcoholism, emotional neglect, physical and emotional abuse, mental health disease, cycles of rage, codependency, and more.
Thus, I have long been a master at transmuting pain into passion, pleasure, purpose and more. However, I also spent all of my 20s and half of my 30s deeply fearful of intimacy. I was mainly choosing a solitary life until I realized that I was emotionally stunted and that being in relationship could actually help me to unravel more about - as well as become more of - myself. This is when I began to partner with others who weren't capable of being very intimate as well. (Imagine that!?)
The 21st century saw me broadening my horizons by becoming a world traveling educator. These walking feet of mine have touched down in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Australia, France, Switzerland, Austria, Andorra, across the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador & many other places. I refer to myself as a dance philosopher because Life is a dance floor and we are all dancers here. I have spent years performing on stages and in other arenas. However, my life has shown me that what my heart most wants is to be able to apply the grace, ease, giving and taking of weight, etc that I have cultivated on dance floors to my real time relationships. The 2010s saw me running a dance and community center in downtown San Diego as well as championing local, organic food and farms. In 2011, my life partner joined our Encinitas Dance Community and, quickly, he and I developed a sweet friendship. Over the next eighteen months, we deepened our emotional intimacy. By the end of 2013, we were lovers and had conceived a son together.
At 37, I became an older mother and turned my educator's gaze towards women's health and well-being. I created various programs to assist other women with their First 40 Days postpartum experiences. As well, my partner and I co-created a cooperative of Mama's & Papa's out of our suburban, north San Diego home located near the beach. Life was good. Until miscarriages and cancer struck.
After my partner received remission from an aggressive upper head and neck cancer, we downsized our anxiety-producing, southern California lifestyle and headed south of the border. Our intention was to worldschool our young son and heal from an arduous journey. Fate had us landing in southern Ecuador where a new community embraced us as their own and I found myself living life in a way that I have always dreamed. Unfortunately, it is also the place where the love of my life took his last breath due to a recurrence of cancer. For six years, however, I got to be at the side of a vividly present and deeply compassionate Man. He was unconditionally loving and extremely empathetic. He showed me how to be a better human beeing - more than I believed was ever possible for me, given all of my own early childhood trauma. Emotional Fitness is Burt's legacy. He was especially passionate about other Men working on their emotional wellbeing - and believed they should do it as much as they work out at a gym - so that we could have more Love on planet Earth. In March 2020, my young son and I returned to the USA in order to commemorate the life of our amazing man. After a full weekend of unforgettable, in-person events, California mandated shelter in place orders. Luckily, we had dear friends to stay with for the following two and a half months of quarantine as we had no home or car to call our own. Eventually, however - and for the sake of my mental health - I chose to buy a van and to begin the roadschool journey that my partner and I fantasized about taking. Over six months, 13,000 miles and 17 states later, our Mama Caravan carried us through what continues to be a global pandemic and a period of great transformation, chaos and calamity. We have spent most of our isolation camping and being in nature. It is where and how I have been working to heal our hearts from this greatest loss of our lives.
This blog details some of that experience, as well as expounds more upon some of my hard earned wisdom about: ~~Parenting in the 21st century; ~~Sex and Intimacy in the era of "swiping left" (or, more likely, right); ~~Unschooling and un-educating our youth; ~~Conscious death and dying; ~~And so much more.
As a lone Mother now, I invite your further support on my journey. For just a $5- per month membership, you gain access to all of my blog posts, plus you are invited to join me in a monthly, online and ecstatic dance session. I will even send you The Mama Caravan playlist when you become a member!
Click here to enroll. Even in the face of all of my loss, I acknowledge that I am extremely privileged to lead the life I lead. My intention is, and always has been, to bee of service. In order to do this though, I have had to become crystal clear about a few things.
The first is that, although I appear to be a human beeing, woman, daughter, sister, mother, friend and lover in this lifetime, I am (like you are) so much more than what can be defined by words or, even, seen by the naked eye.
I am a shimmering Soul dancing across the sands of time. I have been here many times before, and I will continue to dance long after my mortal flesh has fallen away and my soul has once again left my body.
(If you think that this is your first rodeo in a body on planet Earth then I am definitely not a person for you.)
I crave to surround myself with others who feel connected to their past lives and have a sense of purpose in why they incarnated in this lifetime. Perhaps, you desire to know these things for yourself.
I can support you in uncovering more about who you are and why you are here. Personally, I think this is what matters most.