Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Becoming a Flute Player

I was 23 years old and not terribly sure of myself. I had been, perhaps unduly, influenced by the character Luisa in The Fantasticks, who cried out, “Please God, please, don’t let me be normal!” If “normal” meant the life I saw around me as I came of age in the sixties, I knew I wanted something different. But even after four years in college including a semester abroad, I still didn’t know who I was or what I was meant to be doing in the world.
When I was younger, my parents had insisted on my taking piano lessons. I never practiced enough to become skilled. Music did not seem to be a passion for me. Yet somehow, during my 23rd summer, living in California, I acquired a recorder. One night at a party, a fellow I was with wanted me to play certain specific notes to accompany him. Perhaps he played guitar, I don’t recall. I had great difficulty sticking to the exact notes and melody he requested. This upset him enough to say to me: “If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t play music at all.”Crushing words that I have never forgotten. Crushing words that might have kept me forever from the joy I now experience as a flute player.  Although flute playing is not my profession, it is a valued and frequently indulged delight!
Playing Native Flute, Italy
The pleasure in playing music has various levels. As I play, I am aware of an amazing flow rushing through me. I become one with that flow. It is a feeling of aliveness and emotion, amovement of vibrating life force. The sounds that emerge are both the cause and effect of that flow. It is an integrated dance of breath, sound and energy. And when I make music with another person, the energy of his or her flow enters into me and weaves with my own to create something entirely new.  It is like making love.
What? You might be wondering, how did that happen? How did I recover from such a devastating put-down to end up where I am now, where making music is like making love?
Apparently something in me just didn’t accept what that fellow had said to me. Instead, and for no conscious reason that I can recall, I walked into a pawn shop a few weeks later and bought a silver flute! Somewhere in me was a knowing and a longing to make music. Despite those hurtful words, despite my disinterest in practicing piano, despite the fact that I cannot easily “carry a tune” and despite the fact that I knew nothing about flutes, I bought one. I didn’t even know if it was in working condition.
Fortunately, I knew a man in Big Sur, where I lived, who played saxophone (mostly) and flute (sometimes) with a band called Big Sur Light & Power. His name was Karl, and it is to him that I owe my transformation from inept and disinterested musician to someone who plays and loves to play the flute. I brought my newly purchased flute to Karl. He told me it needed to be repaired before it could be played. I was disappointed, so he showed me how to blow a couple of notes on HIS flute. Three, to be exact. He taught me to play three notes.
Shortly afterward, I was at a large party atop Partington Ridge, with a vast view, beneath us, of the Pacific Ocean. Karl’s band was playing – mostly him on sax and about ten men on conga drums. There were plenty of women, of course, who were all dancing, swaying to the rhythm of the drums, nearly all dressed in leotard tops and long skirts. Women were not permitted to play drums in Big Sur in those days. Music making was what the guys did. The women danced and cooked, and were often barefoot and pregnant. (Honestly, this was Big Sur in the sixties!)
Rather than joining the women, I sat close to where Karl was playing, hoping he would play his flute. He didn’t, and eventually the band stopped to take a break. The women disappeared to serve food, and other men stepped up to the drums to continue playing, to keep the music alive. As Karl put away his sax, I asked him to play his flute, since I figured I ought to learn what it sounds like. He obliged, for only a few minutes. Then, suddenly, he turned to me with flute outstretched in his hand, saying, OK, it’s your turn now. What??  Me?? I knew how to play THREE notes – and had only played them at his house a few days earlier. Something in me was yearning to reach out and take the flute, and I suppose he saw that, but there was no way I was going to do so in front of all those people. Me? I can’t even carry a tune, or remember a simple melody.
Karl stood resolute, saying to me these exact words: “You’re going to have to start some time, it might as well be now.” He spoke directly to my heart and I heard him. I will forever be grateful to him. Had he not encouraged me in such a straightforward way, I might never have stepped up to play. I took his flute, stood in front of the drummers, and tentatively blew one of the notes he had taught me. The drummers kept playing, as they had been playing throughout our little side conversation. Then I blew the second note, letting my body pick up the rhythm of the drums, feeling it inside me. Finally, the third note. And the drummers kept drumming!
So I began to improvise, first one, than another, and back to the third note, even mixing them up. The drummers kept drumming. For the first time in my life I was making music, and absolutely loving it!
As if that wasn’t enough, another fellow with a flute suddenly appeared. He began to play. He knew a whole lot more than my three notes and together we continued to make music. I couldn’t believe it! I was in heaven. I was so high that I thought I might fall off the mountain.This is a heaven I may never have discovered if not for that transformational push from Karl. I only wish I knew where he is to thank him.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sacred Sexuality

Watch this informative interview on Spiritual Broadcast Network TV:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We, Oui!

Daily Practice of Love

You might think from the "We,Oui" title - and this iconic photo - that I am going to discuss a workshop in Paris. (I'm not, but check out our Intimacy Retreat in ITALY next year!)

No, I chose the title because it expresses how I feel each morning, as Richard and I join together in our daily practice of love. Oui, oui ~ Yes, yes! We - the two of us, joined in love, experiencing such happiness in that moment that we want it to last forever. Like lovers in Paris. We, Oui!

Pragmatic relationship counselors often try to normalize the idea that over time, a relationship loses its romantic feeling, that it's natural for that to happen. Well, yes, lots of things change as we move from our 20's into our 30's, 30's into 40's, etc. Change is inevitable. Look at our bodies! We know that exercise and eating nutritiously are necessary to keep ourselves healthy and trim. If we do nothing to stimulate our bodies into shape, they will indeed slip out of shape. 

Similarly if we do nothing to keep our romantic relationship in shape, it, too, will slip out of shape and become a fading memory. However, this so-called "normal" waning of romance is reversible if we attend to activities and attitudes that can keep it in shape.

A romantic relationship depends on the emotional bond you share with your partner. It's not just flowers and bling, and it's not just sex (tantric or otherwise), and it's not just sharing a home together. It's about the connection you share, the energy of your love, your "we-ness."

Like our bodies, a vibrant and rewarding sense of connection with a partner can keep its shape with proper attention. Touch, for example, encourages a necessary hormonal response for bonding.

Try this: Ask your partner to join you, for the next 7 days, for at least ten minutes a day, in some romantic touching activity. Not sure what to do? Try massaging, hugging, "Peaceful Passion" or any other way of sharing a loving connection through your body, your skin, your hands, your hearts. Be sexy, sexual and/or sensual. TEN MINUTES? That's less time than you spend trying to end a phone call with someone you don't even want to be talking to!Surely your relationship is worth the time?

Be sure to let me know how this daily practice of love affects the shape of your relationship!

Need more ideas? Check out our book: Tantric Sex for Busy Couples and/or use our Lessons in Intimacy CD.

For upcoming dates & locations of Intimacy Retreats, visit 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nailing it

 Here is the most recent newsletter sent from my website,
"Nailing it - that Just Right Feeling"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Intimacy Course @ USF Lifelong Learning Academy


Course Description:
Human beings are designed for connection, and intimacy is part—perhaps the most meaningful part—of our human potential. Still, it is often an experience that goes unrecognized, unnamed, and unacknowledged. It can be both longed for and feared. Are some people more “wired” for intimacy than others? Is it a basic biological need? Can it be measured, and how much is required? Is it a cultural preference? Is it our birthright? Is it something that just “happens” or can it be intentionally learned and created? In this course, we will investigate the many levels, definition, and descriptions of intimacy, including sexual, social, and spiritual, and explore what has happened to traditional intimacy in today’s world of Facebook “friends” and other social media.

This is a six-session program in Sarasota, FL. The first class was held, at the University of South Florida, on Wednesday, June 6. Those in attendance shared various questions they had about intimacy. As a group, we started a list to define "what INTIMACY is."  Unfortunately, the software I used during the class to display and record the questions and descriptions cannot be imported here. (Or at least, I haven't yet found a way, but I'm working on it!)  

If you are in the class, feel free to leave a comment or question. See you next week!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First for Women

So excited that our Intimacy Retreats are featured as "Marriage SOS" in the May issue of First for Women magazine!

Thanks for stopping by to visit.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

The first lines of this poem came to me last night as I lay spooned against my husband Richard's back.. Wanting to remember them, I sat up to write them down - and the whole poem flowed forth!

Naked skin pressed against each other
sweaty on this cool night
my love pouring into his sleeping back
his sleeping love seeping into my open heart
Unwakened yet aware of my breasts against his back
Nothing, nowhere else can match this warmth
This joyful dream that joins us
This naked stillness dancing between us
Skin to skin exchange
Sharing one moment then another
Heart bursting with love
He stirs awake
No need to fulfill
Only this moment
Naked skin