Why I Love Sorrow

The story of the Egyptian Goddess Isis tapped a long buried part of me, a part of me that felt betrayed and steeped in sorrow since I was a little girl.

Isis loved her brother Osiris and was – in keeping with the autonomy of the gods – also his wife. But their younger brother Set slaughtered Osiris in a jealous rage and scattered his body parts needlessly. Isis and her sister Nephthys swiftly scoured the land for his parts, and Isis magically pieced him back together, securing one night to consummate their love and bear their son Horus. Isis hid Horus from the fierce Set until Horus could one day battle Set himself. Horus lost an eye to Set but gained his freedom and power in the end. Osiris became the God of the Dead, and Isis was revered and worshipped as a cunning and maternal protector.

So adored was this trilogy of power, even the Greek King Alexander the Great embraced the sacred family of gods, and the love for Isis eventually extended even to England.

The part of this story that cut me deep was at the heart of Isis’ lifelong sorrow and it was as though I could feel it. The shock of losing her lover, and their beautiful life together, as a result of someone who should have also loved them. The sorrow of such an early death. The sorrow of betrayal. The sorrow of being hated for her own divine beauty and strength. The fact that she was a badass who tricked Ra, therefore obtaining her magical strength, and usurped the power of wicked Set only made her a goddess I felt would inspire hope.

Because she didn’t just leave it all alone and grieve and weep and sulk and curl up and die. She didn’t lament for long, even though that sort of loss can never be fully healed.

She did something about it.

She took back what was salvageable, and birthed something from it.

She rose to an even greater power, that which comes from the mutual devotion of her people, and the respect of the gods. The lessons of these divine entities is always a relatively simple one. Isis represents an idea, a spiritual value of rising up and choosing the way of the survivor, the path to make things right. She comes to accept that greater things are now at hand. A son born of sorrow and love now emerges, and glory is restored!

Who better to watch out for others, to empathize and protect us than someone who had been shattered by loss, then rallies and flourishes?

For who could be better to help the suffering than those who have suffered as well? Who better to bring hope and power to those who feel beaten and despondent? Who better to bring the sorrowful world back to life and fight until it is won?

Who would better know about the need for courageous love than those who were once hated?

No one.

Wind and Windmills

I am fascinated with the modern day windmills stretched out like sleek and stoic giants, lording over the plains of the earth! For some reason they strike me as particularly divine, slowly turning round and round, no hurry, no concern, driven by a force not of them but with them, serving the needs of our human, earthly existence. The sheer size of these titans promotes awe. Communion with nature’s elements is a stellar magic born of human creation.

So it is for the tiny humans as well, pawns to the wind, yet able to wield the wind to our advantage.

This is Fate and Free Will at once.

When I was a younger woman, I was afraid of the power of the Fates. What would bring me to my knees now? What next? How can I possibly endure that which I cannot control? I was in constant vigilance for the inevitable powers of chaos and catastrophe.

I was taught I must manipulate, coerce, prepare, adorn myself in armor, and steel against the winds! This was the only way to obtain what I felt was necessary for survival and ultimately for the things that always seemed to slip from my fingers. To take control. To plot how I can take the spoils of my own war.

It is a futile thing to defy the fates. I had lacked wisdom and had refused to surrender to anything that opposed me. I did exactly what I was taught to do by those who led me there. And it often felt as though everything and everyone opposed me.

It was foolish.

Through the years, I did do one thing that slowly began to work. I sought wisdom by watching the people I admired. In truth, I didn’t admire that many people. I actually don’t think there are that many people that have much figured out. But there were a few, and I locked in on them like a missile.

They showed me that Fate would intervene no matter what, and if I had faith in it, that invisible trust that it would be okay without my willful shove, I might actually enjoy the adventure of it all! In fact – and here is the secret – I could be the willing turbine that allowed the wind to turn me. I could choose just how to stand there and move with dignity, a knowing power of my own impact upon this earth.

The fateful winds blew. Instead of fighting it, I turned with it and generated a union of power. I would do my best to allow the wind to guide my choices. I learned what was immature willfulness and what was divinely led intuition. This discernment was crucial and for me, it only came from the brutality of mistakes.

Opportunity and Choice = Power.

Now I hold the power to love my self, my life and my fellows. Power for positive change. Power to live like a warrior goddess. Power to know joy and even the power to fight for what the fates call upon me to do.

I still feel discomfort. Sometimes I cry out, longing for the wind to bring me that which I can use, instead of trying to churn and grind in a lonely death.

Today, I turn to face the wind; I close my eyes and softly wait.

Earth Magic on a Full Moon

From the Pitkin Mesa in Paonia, Colorado

Sometimes, when we want to grow spiritually, we must stretch ourselves. In my case, this meant a return visit to Colorado with my middle son, since the two of us did the same trip 12 years prior. That was 2 marriages back for me, and my son had only a driver’s permit. Since I now live in the city, and I live alone, I thought it might be soul-full to visit my cousin, his family and the gap-year environmental school that he runs. They live communally here and they live off the land. Another family lives with them in a house that was once a shed. Up the hill are a series of homes made of straw bales and mud, adobe style. The majority of the people I see here, young students, and mesa neighbors are well-educated and quite capable of American affluence; instead, they choose to live in a way I see as hardened and pure, rich with mountain views and gentle kindness. Hard living and brotherly love can bring out parts of me that seem important to know.

We spent our first few hours visiting, and getting to know each other all over again. On the porch, I sat on a duct taped leather loveseat, and our table was an Amazon box emptied of its delivered contents. There were dogs and chickens and small children and rabbits. I was delighted that my cousin’s wife made us mason jars of fresh mint alcohol-free Mojitos, in addition to slices of hard white cheddar and fat greek olives. Later on, grilled chickens they raised and vegies they grew.

Then we brought our things to the cabin out back where we would sleep, two bunk beds on a particle board floor. They had an outlet and ceiling light. Thank goodness. An outdoor kitchen with running water and a gas stove was just 20 feet away. My son slept under the stars as the cabin was about 80 degrees until the mountain air cooled around midnight. I just left the door wide open and hoped critters would leave me be.

The next morning, I made my own coffee in a press and walked down to see 7 people eating breakfast. It was Eggs Day. They dispersed to various tasks, my son and cousin building a donated yurt, and two students who lingered through the summer to be leaders in the fall were setting stones for a new entrance patio at our communal kitchen.

I did my morning yoga and went for a walk up the mesa. When I came to the top, it was hot and stoney and there were juniper trees and what looked like sage. A gold and black lizard scurried past. I looked back and saw the immense glory of the mountains, blue against a hot white sky. I would make my way back soon . We had big plans to swim in the ice cold irrigation ditch. I wondered if I should pee in the grass, braving anyone who may happen by, or venture into the murky and unpredictable outhouse. I wondered if my plastic bottle from the long road trip was offensive. I wondered if it was annoying to go sit inside their house. I wondered if the giant butterfly in my cabin was a guest or a permanent resident. I meandered past a woman breast feeding a baby, with nothing covering the breast she wasn’t using.

I heard natural, unassuming, music made only by hand. It suddenly seemed silly to use an eyebrow pencil. Or bother with a clean pair of socks. I ate some dehydrated ginger rolled in sugar. I thought about how my cats back home were royalty and how I feel guilty when they get their canned food an hour later than usual.

The knot in my shoulder released and I could bend my neck about 50% more than before I arrived. This world and its culture was fascinating and deeply humbling. I’m not sure I belong, but I like the idea that I could live here without having to be employed by any bureaucratic institution, if I was useful to these people, and if I was capable of behaving like a woman who knows her natural place in the world, kind, wise, willing to carry my own water, and more curious than afraid. Like a woman who could just stare at the full moon and feel the earth under her bare dirty feet, then go sleep on a simple sheet and never consider the alternative.

Dragons are Real

I like to have imaginary conversations with imaginary friends, and sometimes I pretend people I know are with me at a moment in time, when in reality, they are not. Because I know the power of imagination. Because I know the magic of belief.

The other day, I was running across the Wabasha Street Bridge, trying to place only one foot onto each giant square of cement. Rarely do I look up at all, except to see how much farther the bridge stretches. But one time when I did look up, I saw a dragon in the sky, soaring free! Naturally, a little boy who shows up in a lot of my dreams, I mean like, all the time, was running alongside me with unusual speed. He does not have a name, but he is curious and innocent and for some crazy reason, it is always my job to protect him from some horrid predator, and he isn’t even mine. I have no idea why it is my duty; nevertheless, here we are.

He pointed into the clouds above the bridge and shouted, “Her Ladyship! It looks just like a dragon!” This boy, by the way, is British.

I stopped running and let myself walk at a fast clip, huffing away as if I once smoked cigarettes for over 30 years. I then stated under the duress of poor lungs, “It doesn’t look like a dragon! It IS a dragon.”

Now he was up ahead and stopped and swung his tiny scrunched up face back to me. “Are you telling me the dragon is real?”

“Well, yes. I mean, you are not actually real, but that dragon is definitely real.”

He smiled then under his little tweed cap, and patted his little tweed chest and tummy and his little pale legs with tall black socks to confirm he was in fact just as real as this dragon in any case.

“Stop it now. Dragons are as real as we decide, my good chap!” Sometimes I use the language of the Brits, since it helps him feel those good things he misses back home.

“Do you think the dragon will breathe fire upon the city?” This boy just never lets up. I am not sure what he would do without me. Seriously.

I sighed. “I’m not sure, but I hope I am here to witness such an event should it occur. If he flies away, and he very well might, we should go to the park and lay in the grass and then also grab some ice cream back home.”

“We only have maple nut, and I would far prefer big chocolate chunks.”

“Then we will pretend it has chocolate, and we will take our sweet time with it.”

“I would like that so much! Bloody hell!”

Sometimes he throws a curse on the end of his sentence just to see what I will do.

Thank you, BoyWithNoName.

Begin Each Day at Ground Level

Anxiety is the core universal experience of 2020. Anxiety is the other pandemic, the one that crept in slowly since the word “progress” became a moralistic construct, and it now rides the waves over world events that plague our news night and day.

Anxiety was an issue long before 2020! The increased use of technology eases so many troubles, but the obsession and the physical act of its use is in constant opposition to our natural state. Thus, anxiety is the body’s warning to STOP, and RECONFIGURE.

Good thing there is a cure. A person can counteract our current pace with a solid morning ritual to get GROUNDED. To become rooted in my own spiritual soil. To be unwavering in the storms of the day.

Insightful people, in touch with their bodies and inner worlds, will often claim to experience high levels of anxiety with a vague confusion as to its source. They feel scattered, chaotic, irritable and discontent. I think of anxiety as a burning electrical wire or a taser. It kills the natural flow of our energy by zapping us with a severe charge, thus a nervous fizzing under the surface of our skin. That charge needs to be grounded.

To ground ones’ self, one’s body and mind and soul, is to then gain an advantage in each singular day. At the base level, this procures a calmer response to the upsets.

Think about that.

I get to move through each trial, unexpected conflict, the requirements of my energy and skills, my intentions and duties with the footing and strength of an ox.

The ancient spiritual rune of Uruz looks like an upside-down U. It represents, among many other stories, the solidity of the ancient aurochs. Imagine the weight and steadfast groundedness of these powerful long-horned beasts. This rune is a reminder that one quality of a spiritual life is to have both feet firmly planted against the winds of change and the spinning earth.

This is why my morning meditative ritual involves such focus. I tend to it with a devotion that has proven to help.

Our mornings can be shallow, thoughtless, fleeting, and in my observation, the majority of people do experience just that. Or we can choose to make time for grounding. In my case, a morning grounding ritual is more important than any one thing I will do the rest of the day. On the two or three days a year that I am yanked from it, I am keenly aware of its absence.

When I was in my 30’s and 40’s, I had to get up very early, typically at 5:30 a.m., to assure this ritual, and it was only 20 minutes long. When I was married, I had to find a way to escape the distractions of my spouse and insist on my grounding time. Now, it has slowly grown to a full hour, sometimes 90 minutes. Only because I like it so very much!

Your morning meditation may look as simple or as complex as you wish. It can be a single act that takes 10 minutes, or like me, a series of several steps that require more time. However, the truth is, building a ritualistic morning into one’s life will never occur if you are waiting for the time to magically arrive. You must make it happen. You must choose it and determine to live it, adjusting it along the way as you gain mastery of such a choice. The payoff is incredible.

If you want to step through your day as if it is never more than you can handle, you must first begin on solid ground.

Here are a few things that I do, but you can create your own grounding rituals. There is no one way. What is necessary is to stay off any device and be present with the natural world.

  1. I like to sit on the edge of my bed with calves against the mattress and feet on the floor. You can do this in a straight chair as well. I close my eyes and take 5 long deep breaths, full inhalations through my nose and long slow exhales through my mouth. I imagine my root chakra and feet growing roots into the earth below me and tapping into the soil’s water and nutrients and energy and pulling it into my body.
  2. I drink one mason jar of filtered water, slowly from full to empty, imagining it cleansing my mind and body from the toxins that remain from the night of dreams and thoughts and worries. I imagine the stress being diluted and flushed.
  3. I make my coffee with a press and either step outside onto the grass for a bit or literally pet my indoor plants, then I settle into my best reading chair.
  4. I read my daily meditation literature. My current book has been Rumi’s daily poetry readings in A Year with Rumi. I read it slowly and often more than once.
  5. I journal. This task is easily explored in 10 blogs of strategies or tools, but for now, I simply journal my thoughts. Most importantly, I censor nothing. If someone finds it one day, it will be their self-induced nightmare, not mine.
  6. I divinate. This is my way of gaining a message from beyond. There are many, many ways to search for answers from the divine, your higher power (yet another great blog series). I happen to currently cast the runes. If that is too weird for you, then perhaps you could pray and sit in silence for a bit. That’s the acceptable form of divination across the mundane collective.

This concludes my ever-evolving grounding ritual. I am now ready to stand, stretch and go forth upon a foundation made of divine stone.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: The Part 6 Finale – Goddess of the Hunt

Artemis is the mysterious goddess of the hunt. She doesn’t even try to be nice. She demands her place in the world, and she refuses to ever be married. Marriage is too constricting for her. She protects children, her own right to her body, and also the animal kingdom. Yet, she is known to kill when it suits her. Artemis scares me. She is so unpredictable. I suppose, one could say she personifies real love.

I revere her capacity for independence, but come on! No commitment? I’d rather eternally push a boulder up a hill than not want intimate attachment! I am not superior to love. I long for it.

Listen, I was raised for twelve years in a house of women only. I have never been a stranger to earning my own keep, nor having the drive to promote my own career. Nobody washes my dishes but me. I was raised on Instant Breakfast and sensible shoes. I know how to do the whole illusion of I DON’T NEED A MAN. Still, I always found it too black and white, too inhuman, and honestly, a lot of silly bravado. If I were a lesbian, I would feel no differently about wanting a woman. I certainly don’t intend to marry again. I just want my own God-given significant other to grow old with me, thank you very much!

Choosing to never stop the world and melt with a man just makes me sad. I may never be Artemis. But wow! She looks amazing in that super sexy get-up with a bow and arrow. I bet she gets a thrill seeing her own reflection in the local pond. She is known for hanging out with wolves and deer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be that?

Maybe Artemis sees that the civil union of marriage denies that real love is fluid. It changes and it morphs. It is viable and it is generous. And sometimes real love, even with enduring trust, means letting people grow up and straight out of one’s life. Letting go can be the bravest act of love. I guess if I cannot find the man I want, at least I can love myself, my life and the people in it. I don’t have to attach myself to just anyone. Plus, my true love may be plowing through some of his own stuff before he can get to me. Right?

I do not regret dating online. It was not a waste of time. Epic levels of self-love came from it, clarity about what I am seeking, what I need, and who I am. Suffering in the Land of Singledom is a garden of spiritual lessons, and I am stronger for it. I am proud of the courage it took to go online, willing to risk heartbreak and the baffling, unsettled moments. I am grateful to the men who jumped in and taught me well.

Spiritual matters require a deeper look at the gains.

After six months of online dating, I admit it never felt natural to me. It often made me feel neurotic, robotic, hypnotic. I might do better with someone who earns my trust and friendship naturally, for a good long while before I let them in romantically. Love is horrible and chaotic and the best part of being alive. I am madly in love with love!

For now, I’ll be turning my will over to the gods. I intend to accept my fate. I can still laugh and commune with others, and simply be among the living. I can be lovely and lovable. But I do believe he is out there. I have a knowing of it. I just do.

Maybe I am more like Artemis than I realized, an unmarried, defiant goddess of the hunt.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Five – The Aftershocks

The full-on Corona quarantine lasted about 70 days in Minnesota before things loosened up. I had just arrived in my Lowertown St Paul one-bedroom loft at the disoriented start of Covid. My youngest son moved in with his brother; therefore, I would be living alone at age 55 for the first time in my life.

Dating Online slid onto the back burner for a bit. My time online checking profiles and intercepting messages from strangers came to a halt largely because, after Sam (Part 4), I switched my profile to private mode, which meant only those I “liked” would see me. I didn’t like anyone for a good month or more.

Oh sure, I still looked here and there out of habit. Online Dating Sites are highly addictive. But my heart wasn’t in the game.

I had unfortunately landed in a ghost city that held dirty crusty snow, the filth of early spring, and only the homeless people lingered. Everyone else was gone. I spent approximately 23 hours a day alone, isolated in a place where I knew no one. My plans of attending recovering meetings and the artist co-op were ruins in a wasteland. There were no open restaurants. Well, of course, you know.

I had to spend a lot of time teaching high school online then; I was finishing my final year before retirement. There would be little fanfare.

Never before had I felt such crushing loneliness.

What would a woman do with online dating now anyway? Meet some guy in a park like secret agents?

Do you wear a medical mask on a date?

What are the actual risks of human contact? This was a whole new level of awkward. It was just an absurd notion to date now.

In mid-April, I toyed with a couple fish on the phone, but within a day or two released them back to the wild. One guy strung me along on the phone for three days, then finally confessed he was never going to be serious with any woman. It was bleak.

Have you ever sat in a silent room and listened to the analog clock? Time during the Covid isolation became an entirely new dimension. There are many life experiences that have taught me about time, and I often consider time to be a fascinating and spiritual thing. I moved every spring the majority of my childhood. I knew what a year meant, how long it took to form a bond, to attach, to be a person people could name.

I spent a total of 12 hours under a tattoo needle at one point in my life.

My first son was born with 16 hours of hard labor.

I have studied spiritual texts an estimated 3, 950 hours.

I have lived with chronic pain in my neck and shoulders for over 6,000 days.

I have been married four times in less than half the years my sister has been married once.

My time dating online was a blink.

During the third week of Covid, I began to cry a lot. Only divine worship and Netflix kept me sober.

By the 6th week, I was angry. I was bitterly resentful at the plight of my life and the love I might not ever find. But I had done what I always do. I turned it inward upon myself and buried the poison in my bones. That is a very bad thing to do to oneself. And it doesn’t work. I remember sitting on my favorite chair and saying out loud, “No. I’m better than this.”

So I began to shower more. I started taking risks to see my sons just to have human contact. I went out to walk to the park reserve every single day; grocery shopping became the high point of my week. I made elegant meals for one. I was letting my hair grow out, painting and doing yoga again, and Zooming with my new sponsor daily. I danced by myself a lot. I was rising like a phoenix. And I was doing it alone. I was remembering that while I will always long for love, I can still be someone that I like right now. My spirit was coming back to life.

This is what spiritual warriors must do.

As the school year ended, I had one week left of my online dating membership. We all watched in horror at the fall of George Floyd. The city began to burn and the glorified cell in which I was living became my refuge after curfew. I thanked the gods I could breathe every single morning, since I was a privileged white woman and Covid hadn’t killed me yet.

Ironically, the day before Floyd was killed, I had contact with an African American man just two days before the finish line. He was the only man I met in person through the dating site since Sam back in February. I had never dated a black man, and this was a pretty intense time to start. He was beautiful and classy and maybe even overqualified by my standards. Kissing him was a timeless wave of dancing underwater. I saw him three times before I realized I was more in love with the idea of him than the actual man himself. I had done that once before, fallen into an idea that wasn’t real, and spent the rest of my life carrying the guilt of it. I told him I wasn’t feeling it. He played it cool and let go with the ease of a champion. And just like that, he was but a strange and distant dream.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Four – Take the apple, Eve.

I’m no saint, and I always resonated far more with the defiance of Adam’s first love, Lilith. But let’s face it, even Eve was tempted to know more, and plucking fruit from the tree of knowledge was inevitable. According to biblical wisdom, not everyone wants to be submissive, nor blissfully ignorant!

My pursuit of finding love via an online dating site was in many ways my bitter fruit. At night I would lay awake and consider the bones of the dead. I was sincerely sad that I was unable to really love so many men who wanted to love me. I too felt the burn of rejections, even though I understood that these things are rarely personal. Chemistry was a wicked beast. I would stare at the ceiling and imagine this very specific love that I hoped would transcend the electrical wires and universal airwaves and land smack dab on my profile, the absolute result of divine power and an extra kick from my own earnest intentions.

He would be in many ways my twin. There would be sentences we didn’t have to finish and serendipitous events that made me gasp and sigh. We would often be content to watch Netflix and eat our dinner on the couch. We would play hard in the outdoors and always talk about what we were reading. There would be an incredible sense of safety and a comfort I had never known. Oh to be held in my sleep! I would not worry about my aging body or morning breath or foul moods because he would be blinded by his love, and I would finally experience a mutual devotion. He would be unique and emit an entire world of splendor. He would be devilishly witty and he would have all the strength that comes only with a person who had truly suffered, endured and rose from the ashes like an immortal god!

I was always nervous though, since I had in fact had that sort of love twice before (once in college and once in my late 40’s) and then later came to see that it wasn’t real. It was an illusion, and it was deeply painful to be ripped back to reality. Thus, I was doing my best to have faith and yet not be fooled again.

Then in early February, I met him. His name was Samuel.

Samuel and I met for the usual 40-minute coffee date. Three hours later, he walked me to my car and unexpectedly kissed me in the middle of broad daylight. I was stunned. But as I drove home, I found myself slowly forming a smile on my weary little face.

Sam was very smart, educated, undeniably handsome and tall. He was responsible and reliable and deeply committed to his community. He was cultured, well-traveled and had an interesting past. He lived in the city where I was moving in just a month’s time. And he was a writer.

We emailed long and intense exchanges then for almost two weeks. Sparks were flying! We agreed to have our second date the night after Valentine’s Day, to take the pressure off the holiday angst. He made me dinner.

At first I felt like a stranger again, but we warmed up and eventually began sharing lots of stories and opinions and shedding the strains of …well the strains of dating! Two people agree to face each other and try to form something that will be ultimate and profound. That is a lot. And I think we felt it all. But I truly liked him, what he stood for, the way he lived, how he moved and what he wore. He was really amazing!

Until he wasn’t.

I think this is where I would like to turn back the clock and insist that he stop talking. I would like to control the things that he shared so I could remain in this bliss a bit longer. My spiritual core understands that there was no way we wouldn’t always end up in the same spot – in the truth. Because truth is all humans really want in the end. And Sam chose to tell me the truth right then and there on the second date in his darling apartment.

It was dark, disturbing, traumatic.

I cannot even go there. You must understand. When a person shares these things, the most spiritual reply is to honor it by keeping it safe. And he trusted me to do that. What I can tell you is that some people, like Sam, have experienced some very traumatic things and they have to walk the earth with it. They have to get up every day and make their way and find some tricky way to be okay and to manage and to live.

But the one thing that can really get in the way of that coping and survival is the harsh reality of a romantic intimacy, where someone will demand a part of your heart that is mangled and protected.

We stumbled for another month. We pushed and pulled on the phone and through emails, only securing one more brunch in person. But Sam was unwilling to do what I felt was an honest and thorough look at his past. Some part of him began to shut down the moment I suggested there was work to be done. He never really let me back in. I moved into the city and invited him to visit. He muttered something about how the pandemic was just too much. He had expected me to live with his gaping open emotional wounds, the same wounds that destroyed his marriage, or I could just move along.

I chose the latter.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Three – The Combat Zone

The dating site survey was completed along with a rather compelling profile. I mean, I’m a writer after all. And I set the privacy mode to “All members may view.” Game on!

There were lots of hits at first. Men seemed intrigued and sometimes quite forward about their desire to date me! Ego scores!

It was no shock a few hookup whores were lurking. Some wanted a younger woman to bear their children and had not even bothered to read beyond my photos. A few just stopped communication as if they were refugees in a state of war. Ego down.

This is the part where a film montage of dating absurdities rolls with a punk rock 80’s song.

I had no experience setting these boundaries, or how sometimes I had to get messy and mean. Dating was not for the weak. Dating requires a warrior, a champion, a goddamn barracuda in a lovely shade of pink!

Dating had its own culture, its own code, and I was catching on to the rules of engagement:

Rule 1: Never allow a stranger to come to your home. Especially when they say nice things but have pointy ears and sharp teeth.

Going to another person’s home, because you have mutual community ties, is fine. Unless you find out that he is Obsessive-Compulsive and stops to take another shower in the middle of the date.

Rule 2: Police Officers date. The one I dated was a fantastic human. In the end, he just did not have enough time for dating and lived too far away.

Rule 3: Never meet anyone you have not spoken to on the phone at least once. Two or three times is even better. It is amazing what you can learn from phone calls. Texting was not nearly as telling. Let me be clear: I am a strong player in the texting world. I love the flirtation of texts and the witticisms and the naughtiness of texting when you should be acting like a normal human being. But hands down, wordsmiths are outrageous masters of illusion and phone calls are several degrees closer to real.

I figured out one guy was a total stoner after 2 phone calls; he was the most adorable man but smoked weed nonstop. Nope.

Another guy held a job my teenager could have secured, but seemed to do nothing else. I asked him what he did with his time when he was not at work. He paused, then said, “Laundry.” That was it. He was incredibly good looking too, so it was painful to step away from Mr. No Life. He said he was hoping a woman would change all that. Phone calls are a precious opportunity to avoid a future divorce.

Rule 3: The way a man discusses what happened with his ex, or a past love, or how he “got here”, suggests volumes. Is this man a graceful diplomat, a childish tyrant, or a tortured civilian? If he talks too long about her, he isn’t over it. If he doesn’t talk at all, he might take himself too seriously. Does he think his loss is greater than the loss of others? Is he under the impression his pain is the totality of importance? Did he martyr himself for 20 years? I pay attention to what their experience might have been.

Rule 4: Dressing up and going to high end establishments was a mistake because within 5 minutes, I already knew if this was a no. Going fancy meant long hours of what to wear, and the time needed to doll up! Going fancy meant being hostage to a lot of waitstaff conversation and the time it takes to be elegant in public, typically a couple hours. This is all good if you have no friends and you just want company. But I was on a mission and had plenty of other things to do. Fancy was for a second or third date.

Rule 5: Men with a PhD and expansive careers, the type that travels the world and uses words I have to research are out there. They exist and they are glorious examples of how a girl can find her prince later in life. But my limited experience told me these men can also be rather repressed and shine only in certain arenas, not necessarily in my arena. For example, if an honest, rich, handsome man cannot make me laugh, I would prefer to live as simply and humbly as I do, alone. I would rather laugh with a homeless man under the bridge than live with a socialite genius who would be a far better match for another sort of woman. If you think it wasn’t painful to reject the potential of financial security with a man who would likely treat me very very well, you are mistaken. But I know who I am. And I absolutely MUST be laughing, dancing and being a total goof while I live a life of comforts.

By January, I had moved into jeans and a nice shirt for coffee dates only. 40 minutes tops. After 3 months, I had dated a chef, a farmer, a cop, a doctor, an author, a corporate attorney, and a photographer. There were zero second dates.

My spirit had not yet waned but I was beginning to wish women were an option. I had expected the Minnesota winters might be chilly. I had met some passionate, smart, talented men. I had been true to myself thus far. I was practicing the skill of saying no. I was learning that a really good person was not necessarily the right person for me. But a majorly dysfunctional person was a lesson I had mastered long ago. Perhaps I taught them a thing or two, but I doubt it. The cool part was that my intuition was en pointe. I was listening to my gut for the first time in my life. That was an awakening I had not imagined.

I had no idea what was coming next. And not knowing what was up ahead was ironically the impetus for hope.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Two of a Six-part Series – The Pitch

I made a decision to date online!

I made it clear to my suitors what I was generally seeking, and to be fair, I thought it a reasonable list.

I perused a handful of men and their profiles. I found a lot of the same thing: mediocrity with a side of conventional. Lots of men who liked to watch sports. I don’t watch sports.

Some men made it clear that if they were not moving, working, racing, climbing, sailing, skiing, biking, traveling and smiling every minute of every day, they might possibly implode.

A few gentle souls took the time to write something witty and intellectual. Now we are getting closer. Wait. Are those his arms under all that fabric? Why only three pics and all with his adult daughter? Hmmmmm…..

It was time to write my profile and lure in these big fish!

It was time for The Pitch! The Great Reveal! The Unfurling of this Delicate Moonflower….well, I mean, come on. I still had some good in me, despite a shattered heart all glued back together.

Er, ummm….I am worthy; I am certain of it.

I was at least more than worthy of the guy that posted a single 1970’s cabin pic of his frizzy grey hair, which shot out in all directions past the frame of the photo, beer in hand atop his table-sized belly, a grumpy mustache over missing teeth.

Maybe he would love me if no one else was up for it.

Sometimes these rough and belching sorts would actually incite an abrupt and singular “Ha!’ from my mouth, and then I would wrestle the internal beast of hopelessness to the ground, and settle into building my profile: What can I tell you about me to help you see why I am a good choice?!

This went on for hours. Write…delete…write…delete…ugh. I shut it down and ate a large helping of Rocky Road ice cream. Would they want me if I gained weight? Should I not eat now that I am dating online? Would it be wrong to post photos from 8 years ago? Is that photo too slutty? If I post my motorcycle, will they expect me to ‘ride or die’?

I went for a walk. I sat by the stream on that big rock where all my best thinking occurs. I wasn’t so sure now. Maybe I will only attract the nerdy ones who lack the ability to read social cues. Or the men that “don’t have time to read.” Or some con man that thinks he can move in and scam me out of the fifty bucks I have in my account. Or someone who likes really bad country music.

I walked back.

I remembered then what has worked for me when I had to stand in front of a classroom of teenagers while they gave me the once over, chomped their gum and whispered with superior smirks. I used the power of my imagination. I imagined huge white goddess wings (sometimes black if I am in a dark mood) flinging out from my back and standing at full spread behind me.

Maybe you should mess with me now, Smart One.

Then I spelled out one key at a time, as authentically as possible, who I really am. Why waste one minute pitching a lie? I was 54. Time was ticking.

I shared as many details as I could to imply the truth of me, the inexplicable way I laugh when I am alone, the way I paint with old students, the silence of the woods, how I burn mugwort on a dark moon, and Deadpool is my movie. I needed a man who was unafraid of me. And the truth is I was different. I didn’t fit into most boxes. And I decided that would be my thing. Pretty, cool, witchy weirdo seeking fun, smart, sexy man-weirdo. Straight up Psychos need not apply.

I saved the fact that I am in addiction recovery for our first phone call, but I did note up front that I don’t drink.

I would save the four divorces for a momentous height of intuitive courage. It wasn’t going to be easy being me. I could see that. Just the thought of explaining my past made me want to take a nap.

I kept in mind that I was voted Most Interesting twice. Someone will get me. Fuck it.