You, too? A channel for Love

I was a young mother, finally taking a nap after hosting a big New Year’s Eve party the night before. As my head was sinking into the pillow I caught sight, AGAIN, of the dead branches on a ficus tree near the window.

Damn it!
I was going to get rid of that ugly thing!

In all the chaos of my wild life with a 3 and 6 year old
remembering to water the poor tree had been WAY down on my list,
for way too long.

But as I drifted off to sleep
The tree began to speak to me.
       (WAIT… don’t leave yet!)

“I know I’m ugly.
I know you want me out of here.
But I have something I want to tell you.I’m only here to love you.
I’m just a channel for Love.And not just me.
Everything is here to love you.

Every bald of grass, every cloud.
Every rock and plant and breath of air.
It’s all here to love you.

We’re all just love, being what we are, for you.”

OK, I know!
I’m as hard boiled as the next person.
And I’m not one of those people who remembers her dreams.
But this one has never left me.Because if every blade of grass and leaf and cloud
is here to love,
— just by being grass or leaves or even clouds —
then so am I.I must be here to love, too.
To be a channel of Love.
Love expressing through the uniqueness of me.

Only some days I forget!
Some days my channel of love gets all gummed up.
Then every cell in my body feel tight.
I’m full of doubts or overwhelm,
afraid… or worried… or stuck in some old story of my not enough-ness.

But sometimes, somehow, I do remember.

It can happen when I’m out walking in the woods.
Or holding a newborn.
Or dancing.
Or just sitting quietly, taking a breath.
Then that channel of Love that I am somehow gets clearer.

I’m sure you’ve felt it, too, Friend.
There’s a sense of spacious centeredness bubbling up through you.
Or joy you didn’t expect.
Or just a gentle sweet feeling of safety and belonging.

That’s when I can be patient
remembering that my friend is doing the best she can.
Or generous when I’m cut off
knowing that guy’s probably having a really hard day.

On days like that
I know it’s all just Love.
That the grass and leaves and clouds and all of us
Are Love, being Us.

The trick, though, is remembering!

And what stands in the way every time
are all the habits and beliefs we’ve built since childhood to try to keep safe
— or that’s what we think.
(more on that next week)

Clearing Love’s channel
means investigating the muck that’s still there.
It means being curious about what I still do
to try to compensate for having not gotten the love I needed way back when.
This is the work of evolving.
It’s how we awaken to remembering what is really true!

This is the awakening so many of us are doing these days.
It’s what keeps me hopeful in the face of such much tragedy and darkness.

And it’s what I do with my clients every day,
whether we’re talking about relationships or sex or whatever else.
The work is just remembering the Love we really are
And walking back home together.
.

So… do you want to know the end of the story?
What happened after my dream with the ficus tree?

Well…
5 days later Love did its thing
And we conceived our third child.

Forever sharing Love,

PS…If you’re curious about exploring remembering the Love that you are more often, I invite you to come schedule a chat. My treat. Let’s walk back home together.

The Both/And Life

I’m waking this morning holding so much.

My January retreat in Mexico is sold out! (or almost)
That was huge news for me.
It was the blog I’d scheduled for this morning.

But then on Thanksgiving day my dear friend Ditte took her last breath.

How can I hold both?
How can I feel it all?

I’ve been with Ditte much of the past week,
in the hospital and then at home.
Holding space. Waiting.
And then on the day America reserves for giving thanks,
Sharing the honor of holding hands with her family
in reverent thanks, to clean and anoint her body.

This morning I’m living with the sweetness of our long friendship.
Our sisterhood over the successes and disappointments of shared projects.
Our children’s struggles and their happy successes.
So much deep feeling and love.

And in this luminous time beyond time
— almost incongruently —
I have this happy news to share.
Last year filling my retreat was a struggle… yet Ditte was able to be there!
But now it’s sold out, (or was until earlier this week when one woman needed to cancel. Somehow I don’t feel the least worried.)

Here’s what I’m getting…
Life gives us this opportunity to feel it all – all at the same time!
We get to have the highs and the lows.
I’m calling this a blessed both/and life.

I don’t want to numb out all that I’m feeling right now.
I know that numbing part of it will diminish the rest.
I want to feel it all.
Every moment.

Today I’ll be saying my last goodbyes to Ditte.
There will be more tears.
And at the same moment her home will be filled with such love!
All of us celebrating her life…
and the transforming power of love to help us feel all that connects us.

Ditte will help me remember
why I believe we must go deep in our connection to our bodies AND our deep heart.
Because all of it is here for us to taste.
There’s no way to separate body and heart…
or much of anything else that’s here to help us be fully human.

It’s connection that we all long for.
Connection with the joys and sadness of living in a body on this beautiful earth.
It’s our connections that make life this precious.

This morning I will let the rain touch me.
I will let the sweetness of my morning chai comfort me.
I will let the arms of friends encircle me.
And I will be so grateful to be feeling it all.

Thank you for being there with me, Dear Ones!

PS — If that spot at my retreat in January is calling you (or one of the two more that Haramara just offered me), check out the details or reach out to me. I’d be so happy to have you come along!

Turning the Tables on my Concussion

I had a helmet on, I promise.
Everything should have been fine.
But as I was getting on my bike somehow I lost my balance
and bonked my head on the driveway.

I cried a little and swore a lot,
but rode into town anyway.
Not half an hour into my meeting though
I realized something was definitely not right.
 
That was two and a half months ago.
I couldn’t drive for 8 days… or look at screens at all.
Massive headaches!

I’d gone to every sort of alternative and straight ahead healer.
With much success. Lucky I live in the Berkshires.

By September I thought I was better.
No more headache behind my eyes.
I’d even forgotten about the fall.

At the seven-week mark I went to my first yoga class,
excited to be back to myself.

But a few simple down dogs and planks were enough
to set me back a month at least.

 
Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t been writing,
Fact is, I haven’t been on my computer much at all. 
With my special blue glasses,
I can look at my screens for a few minutes at a time,
but then the headaches start up again, and I know I’d better stop.
There are enough scary stories out there to make me behave!

Still, I had plans for the summer! And now, the fall.
 
But here’s what I’ve noticed.
 
Life hasn’t ended.
(Well… at first it felt like it might.)

Instead I’ve had time for gentle walks in nature. 
And phone calls!
My usual incessant texting is being replaced by real conversations. 

At first it didn’t feel as efficient, but now I’m way happier. 

I miss writing blogs,
But I’ve been working in person and on the phone with wonderful people.

And somehow I have more clients than I’ve ever had before.
 
I haven’t finished my book.
I haven’t sent my writing to publication outlets.
I haven’t stayed up to date on FaceBook or Instagram.
 
But I have had time for the real people in my life.
And my summer has been a joy. 
 
Here’s what the Buddha says:
 
Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are.
It solely relies on what you think.

So here’s what I’m choosing to think:
 
As much of an inconvenience as this concussion has been,
I think my concussion has been a blessing.
I’m pretty darn happy.
And it’s brought surprising gifts.

 
My summer assistant did all the posting for January’s Mexico retreat sale,
and there’s only one spot still left!
Jane, my editor and coach,
is typing this right now, and we’re having a blast.
 
I hope I’ll be back to yoga by the end of the month,
and, fingers crossed, by the end of the year
I’ll be able to look at my computer screen for long enough to finish my book.

But for now, I want to be with people I adore.
I want to be real, celebrating the joys we already have.
I want to choose to see what’s right about the life I have right now
exactly as it presents itself, in this moment.

I want to do this with you.
With just a few of my sisters.
I don’t want to wait till I’m all better!

If getting back to enjoying your body’s pleasure sounds good to you,
no matter your shape or situation…
If prioritizing your heart’s openness feels like your highest calling,
even if it’s breaking…

If teaching your mind to be a servant instead of a tyrant sounds like freedom,
then come join me for a mini-retreat here at my house
November 16-18.

It’s together that we catalyze to make real change in the world.
And after the week we’ve just had, I say it’s time!

Sound good? Then let’s talk.

But please don’t email me. I’m likely to miss it.
Leave a message at (413) 329-7477,
and we’ll get right back to you.

 
Let’s make this a beautiful Autumn, Dear Sisters,
in spite and because of all that’s roiling around us!

With my love,

Mary

Asking for help

We’ve all been taught that feeling good is at it’s best frivolous —
and at it’s worst, narsistic and selfish, right?

Because you care so much about so many.
And truthfully, you really do enjoy helping others.

But secretly, if you’re like most women, you feel exhausted, isolated (even though you have friends and family), and you’re worried you’re losing your spark.

Here’s the funny thing:

If you needed help with you taxes, you’d hire an accountant.

If your car is broken down, of course you bring it to a mechanic.

But if your relationships or heart are suffering, you’re supposed to suddenly become a master coach and know how to fix it all yourself?
Ha, it’s laughable when you think about it.

So here’s the good news:
If you are secretly feeling hopeless in love and/or meaning in your life, it’s not your fault.
You weren’t taught how to heal these on your own.

But I am.

That’s why one of my clients calls me the Dating Doula.
When we first started working together she was terrified to get back in the game.
She thought it was about knowing how to please someone else.
She just had it backwards!
Once she worked the tools to come back to her own innate joy, she’s been loving her life. 

It’s so funny, how we know to invest in our home, and our business, and our family.
But we somehow think investing in ourselves is different?

Sure you’ve invested in yourself before,
like manicures and lunch with a friend,
but that doesn’t really change much, huh?

Even a great therapist might not have the tools to help you reclaim your vibrance!

It’s just not enough.

And here’s why:
There’s a reset that has to happen, and it starts with the way you think.

Because if you want to experience something different, you have to think about it differently.

And if you’ve never invested in yourself in a meaningful way, that might be the place to start.

You’re worth it,

PS – If you can relate to wanting to live better, but you don’t want to mess up what is already working, book a private session with me for FREE here.

Could This Day Be Just A Little Bit Better?

Do you have 10 seconds right now to find out?

I’m sure you’re as crazy busy as I am.

This morning
as I was running up my garden steps to the car,
(not noticing much of anything but my mind’s agenda)
the scent of my peonies stopped me mid-stride
and pulled me back down the stairs.

Those 10 seconds with my face in theirs made my day.

Last month it was my lilacs.
Daffodils before that.
Spring is a sensual feast I inhale in great gulps.

That’s why, now more than ever
— whether I’m thriving or feel totally overwhelmed —
I will not miss this wake up call to life.
It’s just too good!

I think that’s a big part of what our sensesare meant to do,
partnered with Nature’s abundance.

They’re here to wake us up
and turn us on again to the joy of living!

And with beyond-belief springtime bursting all around us,
all we have to do is give it 10 seconds.

This kind of sense pleasure does it’s own sort of shouting,
but only if we let ourselves be seduced.
It lays in wait to make us smile,
to ease the hard times,
and infuse our days with wonder!

What a shame we get lost in our thoughts
and forget to look up.
Turned off to the joy we were built to know.

Now THAT just wouldn’t do!

So… I’ve made you 12 days of reminders.
I’m calling it “Turn on in 12 Days”
Little emails to land in your inbox.
Snippets from my joy to yours.
My gift in honor of Spring!

Get yours here.

Power and Pussy-grabbing

I don’t cuss a lot. Or at least I didn’t used to.

But the election in 2016 has changed me. Maybe you, too?

Power politics may have been around forever, but when so many Americans could disregard a candidate’s “Grab her by the pussy” comment as just normal male bravado, I realized I’d been living in a deluded bubble.

Clearly we haven’t come as far as I’d thought!

But here’s the truth that has morphed my own work and life since 2016. Whether political or personal, it’s the abuse of power that still gets the pass.  Sex, money, and gender are just it’s smoke screen.

As a women’s intimacy coach, it would be so easy to take sides here, to make it all about how f*cked up men are. But gender stereotyping doesn’t demand much intelligence. Still, how many times have you caught yourself in exasperation saying, “Men are so…!”

I assure you, behavior is determined by far more than genitals. Testosterone and estrogen do play a part, of course, and bad behavior needs calling out. Thank God for the “me, too” revolution!  But when we get fired up, it’s way too easy to fall into an indiscriminating and habitual oversimplification and lose touch with what’s really going on.

No matter our gender, when we stay polarized in blame, we are all powerless, unwitting victims of a larger dynamic. 

Since the election I’ve watched couples and individuals I’m working with get way more engaged as they untangle their blame and confusion around power. Sure, there’s no escaping how we’re shaped by our culture and childhood. But what’s really changing my clients’ lives and connections – no matter their gender – is exploring how their less-than-healthy masculine and feminine energies have been running the show.

What we’re really talking about here is power. How easy it is to wield it through force or playing the victim. How we try to get heard or abdicate our voice altogether. How we force ourselves beyond what’s healthy and then fall into a guilty vegging-out abyss. How control and familiar habits (in and out of the bedroom) help to keep us feeling safe but suffocate the juice and flow.

These are explorations and conversations that can change us from within. I love what’s been happening to me as I tap deeper into my masculine oak-tree consciousness and structure so my feminine flow can really let loose.  I’m seeing in my own life and my clients’ the powerful shifts that are possible with this dawning awareness. Then the extremes of pseudo-power and the lose of our effectiveness can relax toward our natural purposefulness… and the pleasure that results.

What happens when you’ve been curious enough to take your gender assumptions off the table and look at what’s really driving you? Have you noticed that there’s way more power there? And vitality, too?  Will you tell us down below in the comments?

I invite you to join me next Tuesday, April 10th at 6pm at Crystal Essence Wellness Center when we’ll be taking a deeper look at the way patriarchy has bastardized masculine power. (Grab a ticket before midnight tonight and save). 

No matter your gender, your authentic yang energy wants expression — it’s what frees the flow and joy of your yin feminine. Peeling away what distorts our masculine essence may be the most important work of our time if we are to preserve the health and preciousness of life on this precious Earth.

And if you are curious, there’s more here…

Making Self-Love the Real Deal on Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day vlog image

Hey There.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m wearing red. Maybe you are, too. Maybe you’re thinking about flowers and chocolate and other things to celebrate this day.

Whether you’re partnered or not, I thought I’d share with you what happened last night in my world. For 7 years my friend Pooja Karina and I have offered a pre-Valentine’s event for local women called “Adoring the Beloved of Yourself.”

It’s so easy to assume that Valentine’s day is for people who have partners. That’s the obvious conclusion. But what I know is that what’s most important thing about this day is LOVE. Celebrating this holiday that someone put on the calendar in February is really an opportunity to celebrate self-love.

So last night, with 20 women sitting in a circle we talked about what it is to enjoy and really live in the pleasures that are here in the moment… instead of denying ourselves, overworking, and then vegging-out into all sorts of things that are just not that reverent to ourselves.

Looking ahead, these women each made a commitment for the next 40 days. Just as Lent is a set period of time for letting go of pleasures, this is a time for prioritizing the pleasures that help us to enjoy every moment… not the pleasures that we have to buy, but those here, now.

Women decided to commit to enjoying the bird song every morning, now that the birds are returning. Others chose to promise to touch their bodies first thing in the morning before they get out of bed, appreciating how well it works and how beautiful it feels.

There are so many ways to prioritize the beauty and pleasure of life instead of suffering, instead of slogging through and then not really giving yourself what you need.

So I invite you to do this, too… to make a commitment to yourself for the next period of time. Would you devote yourself to one practice that honors in the beauty and reverence for your body and senses enjoying present moment pleasure.

You can write your commitment below and share it with us. My promise is to put on the calendar a 5-minute break to dance every day, just to enjoy music. I love to dance. And I get busy and just don’t do it.

Let me know below what pleasure you’ll promise yourself this Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy.

Do you know the difference between sex and sensuality?

Because I’m just back from my women’s sensuality retreat in Mexico and about to go off to Costa Rica to lead another, this question is really up.

But why does it matter?

Even more importantly, why should you care?

We’ve had many women interested in our “Discover Your Sensual Self” retreat in Costa Rica, but several have told me they heard the word “sensual” and immediately got scared – is this what Mary offers, some kind of kinky swinger’s sex retreat?

So I decided to have some fun clarifying what this retreat — and my work — is really all about, and why sensuality and pleasure are so central to your health and happiness as a wise and mature woman.

First of all, what is the difference between sex and sensuality?

Sex is a looooaded word. So much baggage attached to these 3 letters! So let’s stick to this definition: sex means the act of sexual intercourse.

Sensual, as we use it here, is defined as connecting with the senses. The way I see it, it’s the pleasure of being in a body – of being embodied. Sex may be a part of the picture, but certainly not the whole picture.

The practice of attuning to your sensuality is simply focusing your attention on your senses — the passion, the creativity, the vitalizing enjoyment they create — in order to become more deeply connected with your body and the pleasures of living.

daniel-wallace-386738

Is the pure pleasure of being in your body something you can relate to?

I understand if the answer is no. By the time we hit our 40’s and 50’s, most of us are worn out, stressed out, burnt out — and feeling good in our bodies seems like a thing of the past.

And we’re so overwhelmed by our responsibilities that we rarely make time for purely pleasurable experiences outside of eating and drinking. And even these are often hurried, unconscious, and guilt ridden.

Or, somewhere along the way we forgot that sensual pleasure is healthy, self-respecting, and a source of energy to sustain our lives and work.

The story you’ve probably heard is that it only gets worse from here, and that the best you can do is slow down the wrinkles and the weight gain by denying yourself the few sensual pleasures you get from food and drink.

Who wants to do that? You need more pleasure, not less!

Here’s why you need to connect more fully with your senses and get real pleasure – you will experience:

  • Remarkably lowered stress along with feeling calm, centered, and joyful
  • Greater mental and physical energy and vitality
  • Easier weight loss, more self respect, love, and compassion
  • A mind that looks for pleasure instead of struggle
  • More enjoyable sex (yep-sex is a sensual pleasure also)

michael-podger-32058

Ask yourself: 
What foundational lifestyle habits do you practice to refresh, to revitalize,
to engage – sensually – with life? What do you do to truly be embodied?

Why go all the way to Costa Rica?

To sense. The lusciousness of the jungle, the warm perfumed air, the abundance of flora and fauna, all combine to put you at ease in your body, which is the first step to connecting with your sensuality.

To pattern break. Being in a new and unusual environment helps you to let go of old patterns and rituals that undermine your experience of daily pleasure. You create a new template of practical easy-to-integrate practices that easily translate into your life back home.

To connect. Being in tropical nature helps you re-calibrate your nervous system. It’s easier to release all those worries and mind games when you return to your body. You remember that you are a part of nature. You’re revived and rejuvenated, and even feel surprisingly safe. Far safer than you’re likely used to feeling.

To ditch winter. We spend most of our lives within four walls, in cars, and in winter, covered with layers of clothing. There is a unique pleasure in being outside in the open air.

To feel better than you have in forever. New place, pattern break, warm, rich tropical air. All good, great vacation. But this trip is an opportunity to learn a language of sensuality, to learn different techniques and practices, from qigong to yoga, and to discuss and explore them with other women.

jeremy-bishop-131063

What will you come back with?

  • Relief! A renewed connection with self and your intuition.
  • A new joy in living in your body, no matter its size or shape.
  • A more thorough knowledge of your body’s pleasure pathways.
  • Practices that revitalize and sustain you.
  • A kinder, gentler way of relating to yourself and your body.
  • The ability to find pleasure and connect to your sensuality when you most need it.

Katherine Miller and I will be guiding you through simple practices to restore trust, vitality and harmony so you can start having fun in your body again: Qigong, Jade Egg, connecting to pleasure in eating, music, meditation and yoga. And this is just the short list!

debora-tingley-54716

“I can’t believe how different I still feel 4 months after the retreat.
Little by little I’ve dropped the critical voice inside that hated my body.
The more I tune into my senses, the more I enjoy my body and my life,
beyond all my lists and responsibilities.”

Imagine the possibility of being excited to be in your body, in anticipation of the pleasure you will experience each day… 

That is my definition of an embodied woman. This is what this retreat is all about – coming home to yourself through the sensual enjoyment of your environment – what you eat, drink, feel, smell, touch, sense, and hear.

Even if you feel totally out of touch or completely at odds with your body, you can learn how to fall in love with it again, by tuning in and creating an environment that supports that.

And, you can come to Costa Rica where we have a whole program designed to fully support your journey into the realm of relaxation and sensual pleasure.

Get all the details here.

There is still time to register and get a ticket, but don’t delay, there are just a few spaces left and the retreat starts March 3rd!

I’d love to hear what you already do to connect with your sensual self. What’s your all-time favorite, sure-thing way to connect? I’m taking a survey… so leave your wins here.

En-joy it all,
marysig

P.S. Remember, the retreat starts in just one month, and you can still find great tickets out there! Check out details and register here.

How 5 minutes by your window is like a week on retreat in Mexico

I arrived back home Sunday morning from a week in Mexico leading my women’s retreat, “Awakening Your Divine Feminine Self – A Deeper Turn-ON.” 

There’s no denying the pleasure of crashing surf, exquisite accommodations, and pristine nature all around you. Maybe you caught some of my shares on FB or Instagram.

When I got home I made the video BELOW because I want anyone to experience what we just lived in Mexico on retreat.

And sure, you can get this without traveling 3000 miles, but on the other hand, sometimes we need to break the pattern we’re stuck in — and then the best thing to do might just be to go really far far away in a totally different environment…  maybe like Costa Rica a month from now!

No matter where you are right now, here are 3 tips, 3 simple practices that can make your experience more powerful and delicious.

  1. Look out the window. Just look outside. Be here quietly. We did a sit spot – a practice I learned from Jon Young – for 20 minutes every day. But a breath, just a short minute, can hugely expand you awareness and pleasure. Just sit here quietly and experience what’s here in your environment.
  2. Watch your senses. Watch what you hear. Watch what you smell. Watch what you feel. Watch the experience of seeing what’s there, really noticing the contrasts, noticing the percussiveness of sounds. Just noticing what’s there. Don’t make it right or wrong. Just be in the moment.
  3. Feel your body. Feel where you’re sitting. Feel the sense of this being in this space… and not the thoughts that can go along with whatever you’re feeling. We’re so in our thoughts – and out of our body – so much of the time.

That’s it. Those are 3 of the simple practices that we landed in Mexico to bring presence, pleasure and delight, right here, right now, no matter where you are.

Take these tips into your life, especially if you’re in the chilly north. And let me know down below, right now, which one you’re ready to make part of your daily practices. I consider each of them a meditation, as fully as I do my traditional sitting practice.

And if your appetite’s been whetted, I’m off to warmer climates again in March – this time to Costa Rica with Katherine Miller, menopause expert and dear friend. Learn to expand your pleasure potential by establishing habits of reverent self-care. See more here or email at info@diviningbeauty.com for more juicy details.

3 Words to Live by in 2018

You might tattoo these words into your consciousness
for a more joyful,
peaceful,
and purposeful
2018.

 

Remember
your deep and innate connection to your feminine essence.

It’s inevitable that we overdo and work too hard in a culture that rewards abuse. When we learn to listen with compassion to our bodies’ messages, effort drops away and we’re revived.

 

Reclaim
your joy by prioritizing stillness and solitude.

Hearing your inner wisdom can only happen when you allow (and this means schedule!) centered, quiet space to listen. This is vital self-care and the one choice that can transform all others.

 

Receive
the ever-present blessings of beauty from the natural world.

In any moment, no matter where you are, there is at least the smallest bit of restorative transformative beauty waiting for you to notice it. Any day’s difficulties will melt if you’ll open your eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin to welcoming this gift for your sustenance.