Monthly Archives: September 2014

The 50% Rule: Are You Running on Empty?

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 4 Comments

Fuel Gauge IllustrationLast week was my birthday week (41!) and I found myself stressed, sad, and sleep-deprived. Too much work and taking care of my sick man and sick dog and too little self-care.

And I went where I tend to go when I get stressed: within. I retreated, withdrew, tried to pretend that everything was fine. It wasn't. I didn't communicate with my man about my distress like I should have. I didn't let him know how upset I was that I spent my birthday working and taking care of him and his sick dog. That despite the fact that birthdays are a big deal to me, the only gift I received on my birthday was flowers from my student assistant; nothing from him. Most importantly, I forgot to take care of me.

By Friday morning, I was in a bad state. Emotionally depleted and physically exhausted, I turned once again to my best friend and peer coach, Kami. As usual, she called me on my shit in a loving way and told me just what I needed to hear to get myself out of the doldrums.

“What do you do when you fall below 50%?” She reminded me.

“You do whatever it takes to get yourself back above 50%,” I responded from rote memory. Damn it! I hate when she's right!

So what is the 50% rule? I've heard it described a few different ways, but the idea is this:

  • Each morning, start off your day by checking your energy tank. Simply ask yourself: “Where is my energy level today?” Lately I’ve been adding a second question: “Where am I emotionally right now?” as I’ve noticed a difference between my emotional and physical energy levels.
  • Ask yourself, “What do I need today to raise my energy level?” Again – lately I’ve been asking this twice – once for physical energy levels and once for emotional.
  • Do whatever your heart tells you to do to raise your energy level(s) or make a plan to do it later that day.
  • If either level is below 50%, stop. Don’t do anything else that day until you’ve done something to get your energy level back above 50%.
  • If your tank is running low, keep periodically re-checking throughout the day to see where you’re at and what you need.
  • Then go do it!

Now, obviously I wouldn’t be giving you this advice if I hadn’t learned the hard way from not taking it myself. Over the past couple of months, I let myself get so depleted that my body went into perimenopause.

I had my hormone levels checked a couple of weeks ago and got the results back today. They weren’t entirely what I expected given my perimenopausal symptoms. Yes, I am currently in perimenopause, but my doctor doesn’t think it’s permanent. He says that based on my testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol levels, my blood work shows I have been burning my candle at both ends and am about to break if I don’t change things. His advice? Meditate, journal, do more yoga, and have a little more fun. In other words, I need to get my stress under control and my hormones – and body – will come back into balance. So once again my ability to heal my body is all up to me – or in this case, my stress levels.

So what’s the plan? How do you get yourself consistently back above 50%?

  • Consult your checklist – Stacey Martino once suggested that you start by making a list of all the things you love to do that boost your mood and energy level. That way when you fall below 50% – and may be in no mood to figure out what you need to do to get back above it – you can just look at your list and have at it.
  • Check in with your body – in its infinite wisdom, it always knows what it needs
  • Check in frequently with your energy tank – I’m doing that exercise several times a day. I drew a heart on my hand in purple ink so whenever I see it that will serve as a reminder to check in.
  • Get some sleep – I rarely meet women that get enough sleep, especially when they’re below 50%. In fact, lack of sleep is often a contributor to that below 50% state.
  • Go back to the basics with your self-care – consult your absolute yes and absolute no lists, read tips for self-care, and most of all tune in to yourself and take care of you – whatever it takes. You’re worth it!

 

What do you do to get above 50%?

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday GODDESS: Gina Hussar

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gina hussarGina Hussar is a Brand Stylist and Mind Mastery Expert. A former fashion magazine editor, she combines her love of aesthetics and writing with spiritual discovery to help her clients connect and convert! She is a joy junkie, bliss enthusiast, best-selling author and mom of 3 awesome kiddos!

What does being an Everyday Goddess mean to you?

Being am everyday goddess means that you know who you are, you love who you are. You’ve BEEN somewhere and its given you a deep, rich, colorful story to own and to share. Everyday goddesses balance the blessings and opportunities of life with grace and gratitude. We allow ourselves to be led by joy, knowing that when joy comes first, love, wealth, health and abundance are never far behind. And we lift and support other women with a sister-like loyalty!

 

At what age did you awaken to the presence of the Divine Feminine and would you describe it as a sudden awakening or a gentle unfolding?

It was VERY sudden for me. I think it was always there, just under the surface, whispering to me to let it out. But it took a rock bottom for me to finally fling the door open and I was in the my mid 30’s at the time. Sometimes you have to hit the floor before those whispers become screams you can no longer ignore. NOW it continues to unfold beautifully and gracefully and I am loving the ongoing journey of self discovery!

 

What roles in your life had to transform in order for you to live authentically?

I had to connect with my spirit as a RULE. It had to become a part of my life. I learned that leading by spirit can completely change every area of your life. Spirit became my most lucrative business strategy. But most importantly I had to get responsible. SO often we are miserable because we haven’t accepted our power. That’s all responsibility is—power! People think of the word “responsibility” and it feels heavy. But it shouldn’t! It should feel empowering! Being responsible means that YOU get to hold the magic wand and make things happen. That was a huge shift for me, in business, in my marriage, my friendships, everywhere!

 

What have been some of the greatest inner gifts you’ve experienced since stepping into your feminine power?

I have learned to process everything in a way that serves me. No more ego storytelling, only truth. I am always looking for the miracle or the message underneath every challenge. You have to dig deep sometimes but its always there. And I always choose the fastest path to peace. Nothing, not even the last word, not even being right, not even being heard, is more important to me than joy and peace.

Can you share some of your favorite sacred feminine rituals?

I am a big believer that sacred feminine rituals do not have to be anything grandiose. For me, a sacred feminine ritual is anything that makes you feel amazing. That can be a deep meditation by candlelight or a night on the couch with a glass of wine and Oprah. =) I do try to keep a manifestation journal every single day and that is incredibly powerful. I am amazed at what I have been able to attract (and really specific things too!) just be committing to one minute a day of putting the law of attraction in order. One minute a day of focused, positive energy streaming out into the universe. Sounds woo woo, totally works.

I also always check in with myself (at least three times a day) to make sure I am staying in peace. I cannot even put into words how that has changed my life. When YOU can stay in peace no matter what, everyone around you gets inspired to do the same.

Is there a particular Goddess that you are intimately drawn to and why?

Honestly? I love them all. There are energies to all of them that we could all tap into and embody when we need them. That’s the beauty of it. We have all of these gorgeous, juicy, feminine powers that we can unleash every day, all day, as we need them to work for us.

 

Is there a personal message that you would like to share with women?  

Get responsible. Have an honest conversation with yourself about where YOU can get empowered. Pay attention to what upsets you. It’s a strong message of something you need to change, face or take charge of. And the good news is that you have everything you need to do just that!

Learn More at:

www.30secondstopeace.com

www.ginahussar.com   

 

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Everyday GODDESS: Debra Oakland

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Debra-Close-upOver a short 6 years Debra lost her 21 year old son, her baby girl in the 8th month of pregnancy, both brothers to AIDS and her father to prostate cancer. Debra began her life altering path, becoming a writer, courage advocate and joyful experiencer. She now writes, speaks and works with Universal Laws & Principles of Love that assist others to live courageously from the inside out

What does being an Everyday Goddess mean to you?

Connecting to the Divine aspects of Love & Light within myself on a daily basis is what brings out the Everyday Goddess in me. Women are coming together to assist in a massive transformational shift on the planet. We are connecting to the heart through the Divine Feminine where there is a re-balancing of masculine/feminine, mind/heart, light/love – which is reflecting out into the world. It is magical and life altering to be part of this paradigm shift. We are energy and how we use our energy matters.

 

At what age did you awaken to the presence of the Divine Feminine and would you describe it as a sudden awakening or a gentle unfolding?

A gentle unfolding. I came in with a connection to my higher self, aware of many things that I did not notice some people paying attention to. I was sensitive to and picked up on things that did not ring true or authentic. My solar plexus does a somersault when I see or hear things that are not in line with our highest and greatest good as a collective. Love is the objective. When we are in integrity with ourselves and others, life unfolds with it's intended goal of JOY.

 

 

What roles in your life had to transform in order for you to live authentically?

I have found the biggest transformation has been not to be a follower. We are programmed by family, friends and society to fit in. When we try to fit a square peg into a round hole, it doesn't work. Authenticity is critical to our spiritual development. Once I became a young adult I began de-progamming from many old patterns. It feels so good being me without all the outer world influences telling me who I should be. I always say, never ‘should' on anybody! Living from the inside out is the best way to fly and brings such a sense of true inner peace and happiness. One of the quotes on my website is “If you can’t get out of the box people put you in, chew a hole in the corner and crawl out.” That one makes me smile. 🙂 I came to the realization that I wanted to be a full-time writer. I had been writing since I was young but hid it all thinking, “Who would want to read what I have to say?” We all have a voice as unique to us as our stories. The wisdom gained and shared can benefit many people.

 

What have been some of the greatest inner gifts you’ve experienced since stepping into your feminine power?

The most important inner gift for me personally is courage. Because of the loss I experienced in those six years with no break to catch my breath, courage became a welcome traveling partner. This courage comes from my Higher Self, my I Am Perfected Presence which I connect with daily – my God/Goddess Source means everything to me. It's who I am when I am not in wrapped in a physical form – my true essence. Expressing that essence of love into the outer world is where the work comes in. We are all challenged throughout our lives and without those challenges we don't grow mentally, physically or spiritually. Gratitude is my daily mantra.

 

Can you share some of your favorite sacred feminine rituals?

The first sacred feminine ritual I do in the morning is to meditate. I go deep into this state as I connect in different ways, depending on my mood. Many of these meditations will be included in my upcoming book. One of my favorite scenarios I create in meditation is to imagine myself standing under the most beautiful waterfall – it is otherworldly. The water is slightly cool and refreshes me as rainbow colors of healing light flow through the water over my body. There are birds singing and animals all around in a tropical setting. As I leave the water, I sit and converse with all of Mother Nature and her Kingdoms. It's lovely!I am fortunate to live across the street from one of the most beautiful beaches. I find that sitting quietly in one of the coves, or walking along the water is a meditative ritual as well. Flowers, candles, oils are all delicious as well.

Is there a particular Goddess that you are intimately drawn to and why?

There are so many, but Maya Angelou is one that resonates with me on a deep soul level. Maya passed recently and will be missed by many in this world, she exemplified courage, love, forgiveness, compassion and all the great qualities of LOVE. She walked her talk daily with authenticity, grace and peace. Women who have a strong belief in themselves with determination to overcome adversity while striving to live their passion and purpose INSPIRE!  Our world is full of amazing women coming together, linked arm in arm in support of the highest and greatest good for all. Thank you Goddesses for being Living Examples!

Is there a personal message that you would like to share with women?  

Take your power back from wherever it has been. You are enough, you are loved, you are perfect. Never let anyone take your power away. Be YOU in all your Divine Feminine Beauty and Gorgeousness! Connect to your heart, trust in your heart to guide you, and be the Goddess you came her to be – in full expression. Thank you Mary for inviting me to share this time with you and your readers. I am grateful and blessed to be here with you all.

Learn More at:

http://www.livingincourageonline.com

 

 

Our Everyday Goddess invites you to download her free gift:

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Communication is the Key: The Art of Self-Expression

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Key to my heartDo you know why my marriage failed? One reason – well maybe two:

  • I wasn’t true to me
  • My ex and I didn’t communicate

Yes, we had our once a year “are-we-going-to-stay-together-or-not” talks that bandaided us through for a few days, weeks or months, but it wasn’t enough.

I think lack of effective communication is a problem a lot of couples face, and one that I fully own up to as a problem I usually create for myself. Yet, it’s hard to be effective about communicating when you’re taught growing up that what everyone else thinks is more important than what you think. This goes doubly when you’re told by your ex that he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.

So how do you learn to communicate effectively, get your point across, and your needs met?

This is something I am learning – and will share will you further in the upcoming Finding Your Voice ecourse – but here is what it boils down to for me:

  • Speak the same language – no, I’m not talking about English v. German. In truth, I’m not sure how to do this effectively all the time, but my point is that both parties need to feel heard and understood and not just by using “I” statements to parrot what the other person just said. I am talking about true understanding – and maybe some empathy thrown in for good measure.
  • If you can’t speak the same language yet, at least speak – let me give you an example of my not speaking when I should have and how remaining quiet didn’t help. J I broke down in tears Saturday night from emotional exhaustion (see my previous two blogs and you’ll get why) and my fabulous, wonderful man brought me a heating pad. It was a reasonable assumption that I might be crying because I was in physical pain. I had been complaining about short cycling again and cramping for the previous two days. But in the moment all I could think was, “You have no idea why I’m upset and this definitely isn’t the kind of pain a heating pad can fix.” I completely own up to the fact that it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t get it. He couldn’t as I neglected to communicate to him why I was upset in the first place.
  • Ask for help – when all else fails, ask for help – from someone with experience in whatever area you are struggling with or from the person you are having communication issues with. Believe me; it’s easier to communicate effectively when you’re asking for assistance rather than picking a fight. But, of course, that assumes that you actually know what you want and need so that you can ask someone for help to get that need/want met.

So what did I want/need in that moment? What I needed most of all was my man. His time; his undivided attention. It’s been a stressful month and we both have been lamenting that we need a weekend to just do nothing. So what set me off Saturday night? His contemplation of hosting ecstatic dance every weekend at a local yoga studio. So much for our weekend of doing nothing. And that hurt. Of course the worst part about it was my withdrawal, my ‘suffering in silence,’ my refusal to speak my truth. My man’s not a mind reader after all.

I finally emerged from the bathroom where I had retreated. We sat down and I expressed my concern. He assured me that it wasn’t decided yet – it was something they were considering, but that we didn’t have to be there every weekend, even if the group decided to host a dance every weekend. In less than a minute, I felt better. Had I only communicated my feelings to him in the first place, I might have avoided a breakdown. Who knows?

What I do know is this: Speak. Get your needs/wants out there. And no, it’s not selfish. No one is ever going to figure out what you need if you don’t tell them. So do yourself and everyone else a favor and speak your truth. I promise you’ll be one step closer to walking in your power and embracing the Goddess you are!

What do you do when you’re struggling to speak your truth? How do you handle it and get your point across? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments section below.

Love is the Answer

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 2 Comments

belly loveI shared with you last week about my latest cosmic 2×4 in the form of perimenopause. Not to be outdone, the Universe decided to send me another cosmic 2×4 within 24 hours of the first one. A $4000 water line replacement bill for the main water line to my house that sprung a leak.

What’s a girl to do when she gets hit with her two biggest issues (money and fertility) in one fell swoop? Phone her best girlfriend!

After patiently listening to me bitch and moan about my misfortune – why me? Why both of my biggest issues at once? Why now? – my beautiful, wonderful girlfriend gave me the answer.

In her infinite wisdom, she asked, “How did you react when those things happened?”

I immediately went to self-blame, judgment, and criticism. Like an echo in my head, I could hear my ex blaming me for my infertility. Similarly, I replayed every single non-necessary spending decision I made over the past three months: the mini vacations to concerts, the new car, the new clothes. I questioned every single one of them.

“You know it’s not your fault, right?” she said. “You’re not irresponsible with money and the infertility was never your fault.”

I wanted to argue with her. Of course it was my fault. So much for all the therapy to get over those fallacious beliefs…

“Maybe that’s the lesson. Self-acceptance rather than self-blame,” she mused.

Doh!

And because I am nothing if not a slow learner, the Universe sent me two more signs the next day. The first? A bumper sticker on my man’s truck: Love is the Answer. One that I use repeatedly to tease him with every time he gets in a bad mood. Turns out that message was more for me than for him. The second? A meditation. I should know better by now than to meditate when I’m in the middle of being hit with cosmic 2x4s! Yet, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

At Saturday night’s ecstatic dance, the woman who led the group shared a meditation with us that was profound and left me deeply affected. I believe it was taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. Her instructions for the meditation went something like this:

Lie down in a comfortable position. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly, and say to yourself, “Show me your sorrow.” And let it all come in. Take it into your heart, let it know it’s going to be okay, that it’s over, and it’s safe here. Keep repeating “Show me your sorrow” until there is nothing left to show.

Then move on. “Show me your anger.” Again, open your heart and let it come in. Feel it as though you were back in the moment it first happened. Only this time love it, let it into your heart, let it know it’s over and everything is going to be okay.

After anger has nothing left to show, move on. “Show me your shame.” Invite it in. Everything you’ve ever done or not done, said or left unsaid. Let the shame roll in. Love it, accept it, be one with it.

Repeat the process for any negative emotion, anything that might be holding you back. And if one meditation isn’t enough, take a break and do it again. This is heavy stuff.

I still haven’t finished, but I know that this is something I need to do for me, so that I can move from self-blame to self-acceptance, from self-hatred to self-love.

At the end of the meditation, Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “When all this was finished, I was empty. Nothing was fighting in my mind anymore. I looked into my heart, at my own goodness, and I saw its capacity. I saw that my heart was not even nearly full, not even after having taken in and tended to all these calamitous urchins of sorrow and anger and shame; my heart could easily have received and forgiven even more. Its love was infinite.”

I hope to find this place of emptiness, calmness, clarity. There is no reason to carry the pain or blame around anymore. It’s time to let it go.

What are you willing to love and let go of today?

Say Something; I’m Giving Up on You

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 10 Comments

candleI started my period 10 days early. This is the third time in as many months that's happened. The first time I thought it was a fluke. The second time I thought it was because I had forgotten to take my bioidentical progesterone the night before. This time I had no explanation.

So I did what academics do: I went into research mode. Why do women short cycle? If you're my age – 40 – short cycling pretty much means one thing and one thing only: hello perimenopause, goodbye fertility.

So once again, I find myself in tears. Feeling betrayed by my body, shortchanged of my reproductive years by my endometriosis, by the 9 years my body was in menopause from the ages of 26 to 35, robbed of my Goddess-given right to bear a child to a man I adore.

And then I went to that dark place; the place where I'm flawed because I'm infertile. The place where no man wants me because I can't bear his child. It's a familiar place; one I've visited often in my 40 years on this planet. One I've been continually reminded of by the men in my life.

I don't want to believe it – that my reproductive years are over, that my train ride to Menopauseland has left the station – again. Only this time I harbor no illusions that I'll be able to heal my body back out of it. I'm not 35 anymore.

I found myself compelled to have a heart-to-heart with my body. But my heart-to-heart ended up listening to A Great Big World's “Say Something” on repeat. Not fair to my body, I know, but there it is. I also got a bit melodramatic in the process, but I chose to honor my feelings rather than forcing myself to be “rational” about it. So bear with me… there is a point to my ramblings.

I asked my body for a sign that I was mistaken about the loss of my reproductive years.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

It didn't respond.

I'll be the one, if you want me to.

The one to bear a child, the one to be a mother to more than my dogs.

Anywhere I would've followed you.

To the moon and back if I had to; that's what you do for your children. You go all in.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I am feeling so small.

So insignificant – the unimportant, flawed, infertile me. Wrong somehow.

It was over my head;

I know nothing at all.

I never understood the luck of the draw aspect of fertility; why 16-year-olds abort babies they don't want while 30-somethings would give anything for a child of their own that they can’t seem to have. Why children are born to those who don't want them or can't take care of them, yet those who have the means to provide for and want a child desperately can't have one. Why our most fertile years occur before our brains are fully developed and we are mature enough to handle being a parent.

And I will stumble and fall.

Repeatedly, over this and many other issues in life. I guess that's part of living. Life is but a journey. A lesson.

I'm still learning to love;

Just starting to crawl.

I struggle with self-love and self-acceptance, especially when it comes to my fertility. It is so difficult not to go into self-blame. After all I was blamed for my infertility for 20 years. It's difficult not to pick that torch up again.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.

To the unborn souls wherever they go when they're waiting for a body to be born into, to a child waiting for a parent.

Anywhere I would've followed you.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

My body responds with silence; the tears continue to fall.

And I will swallow my pride.

You're the one that I love,

And I'm saying goodbye.

Goodbye to my fertility, my reproductive years, the mother chapter of my life that I never truly got to experience. I give in, give up. Let go, release. To the universe, to all that is. I don't understand why some things happen but I do believe that everything happens – or doesn't happen – for a reason.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

Say something…

And after three hours of tears, the Universe responded.

My man came home. He held me, held space for me, for my tears, my sorrow. He reassured me that everything would be okay, that it wasn't my fault, I wasn't flawed, broken. That I was beautiful and a wonderful mother to our three dog children. That the Goddess has and will continue to bless us. And that he still loves me.

And still the tears fell. Of pain, of sorrow. And of gratitude. Gratitude for this man who doesn't blame me or think I'm flawed or less of a woman. For this man who asks me what I need from him in this moment. Who draws my bath and tells me I deserve it and need it after what I've been through today. A man who lights candles for me and holds them steady as it feels like the flame of my reproductive years is burning out.

Say something…

Even in your darkest hours. Ask and you shall receive. There's always a light at the end of every tunnel. Even if it's not what you expect. Sometimes, it's even better.

 

Featured GODDESS: Aletheia

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AletheiaAletheia

Goddess of Self-Truth

“What have you been lying to yourself about? It’s time to own your truth and walk in your power.” Call upon me when you need to be reminded of who you really are.

 

Traits Aletheia Embodies:

  • Unconcealedness
  • Self-truth
  • Sincere action
  • Self-trust
  • Wisdom

 

How to call on Aletheia:

Aletheia’s parentage is a mystery. Some scholars say she was Zeus’ daughter (mother unknown); some say the God Prometheus sculpted her and breathed life into her lungs to stand as a symbol for truth for mankind. Regardless, she was venerated as a Goddess of virtue, wisdom, and unconcealedness. You could hide nothing from her; she represented Truth in its highest form.

When you feel you’ve been hiding your true nature from others or yourself, call upon Aletheia to reveal what is hidden and bring your dark into light.

 

Prayer to Aletheia:

Aletheia, Goddess of Unconcealedness,

Give me strength to find my truth

Courage to walk in my power

And wisdom to let go of those who will not walk with me

In this I pray,

Thank you Aletheia!

 

Tribute to Aletheia:

The best way to honor Aletheia is to be true to yourself and to be authentically you – don’t hide or pretend to be someone you’re not.

 

Doors, Ties, and Wedding Vows

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 2 Comments

Brass Doorknob“Hope your life is going beautifully,” my ex texted me yesterday after explaining that he took me off his Costco membership, which I paid for. Well, up until now.

It’s been months since I heard from him, and he caught me off guard. You would think communicating with him after being divorced for a year wouldn’t affect me. Yet, it does. Apparently, I still harbor a bit of bitterness and resentment around our 21-year relationship.

Yet, this is good information to have, as without awareness, you cannot achieve clarity. That said, it was also unwelcome – a door I thought I’d closed, re-opening to reveal there are still skeletons in my closet.

As I read this text from my ex, my man watched from across the room. I’m sure he could see the emotions written on my face. When I told him what happened, he made a scissors motion with his fingers – a symbol for cutting yet another tie that binds me to my ex. I know he’s right – he has the most amazing insights. And I don’t mind cutting these remaining ties – I much prefer it to keeping them. My frustration comes in realizing I have them in the first place. A year after my divorce, I want to be done. I thought I was. Each time I find out differently, it sets me back a bit. Makes me re-examine where I am and who I’ve become. The good news is that I am where I should be and I love who I’ve become. I am happier now than I’ve been in a long time – maybe ever.

I know that behind me are a lot of doors – some are still open, some are closed, and some are nailed tight and boarded up. But whenever I am faced with a door – old or new, welcome or unwelcome – it’s because the Universe thinks I would benefit from examining this door.

So why the door to my marriage? Why now? Two reasons come to mind: 1) I’ve been doing a lot of clearing around some old wounds concerning my ex and my healer warned me he might reappear in my life. 2) I’m in a place in my life where I am examining the construct of marriage – the “ties that bind” metaphorically speaking.

My therapist asked me last week whether Rio and I had talked about marriage. We have – in some distant, future, abstract kind of way. The thought of remarriage both excites and terrifies me. At this point, the latter certainly wins out over the former.

After my divorce, I swore I’d never marry again. (Don’t you love how the Universe pushes all of your buttons? Make a declaration and sooner or later, you’ll be tested on how serious you were when you said it!) Marriage is a big deal to me – til death do you part and all that. When I married my ex, I never dreamed of a time that we wouldn’t be together. When I got divorced – even though I knew in my heart it was for the best – it still felt like failure, a betrayal of the vows I took before friends, family, and God/dess. So the thought of committing myself for all time – especially knowing firsthand the possibility of broken vows again – frightens me. Yes, it’s a distant possibility – that’s a bridge to be crossed when, and if, we get there – but the fact that it’s been a frequent topic of conversation with my friends and counselor of late makes me wonder all the same.

This begs the question: What is marriage? My rather jaded post-divorce answer is that marriage is a piece of paper that legally binds two people together and carries social, legal, and – in some groups – religious implications. There are certainly legal perks to that little piece of paper – tax benefits and health insurance coverage by your spouse, to name a few. There are social perks as well, which I didn’t even know existed until I was no longer married and became a bit of a pariah to my still-married friends.

But it’s more than that. It’s a commitment to stick together, to support each other, to love and honor and respect one another no matter what. Disagreements should not get in the way, nor should family, friends, work, children, or any host of other obligations, duties, and responsibilities. This is where my former marriage failed – everything got in the way: his family of origin, my work, our separate lives. Until there was no honor, no respect, no support, no love left. Only duty, obligation, and responsibility to each other remained. For me, that simply wasn’t enough.

So what is marriage? According to dictionary.com, marriage is: “any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities.” I still think that greatly simplifies the issue. Yes, it is an interpersonal union – in fact, that’s a beautiful way to describe it. But I think it transcends ‘familial bonds’ and ‘mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities.’ It’s an intimate soul connection – or at least it should be. And if there is a ‘this time around,’ I will settle for no less.

In the end, the piece of paper that legally binds two people together really isn’t all that important. What matters to me is that those two people – two hearts, two souls – have consciously come together in interpersonal union. A union that transcends any legal, social, or religious obligation. That’s something I didn’t understand at 18 – when I met my ex – or at 21 – when I married him. Yet, at 40, my views on marriage, vows, ties – and doors – have changed quite a bit.

What door will the Universe provide next for you to examine?