Thursday, January 29th, 2009

At Home with the Erotic

Soon, I'll get married. And have a baby.
All of which I'm grandly looking forward to.
(Soon being relative, mind you)

I've always done everything in my life back-ass-wards, in my own time, against the current and by my own rules – and the marriage thing and the baby thing will be no different. Personalized vows, a pre-nuptual arrangement (so we both know what institution we are signing up for!), a highly unusual ceremony, living "off the grid," and the child born into the village it takes to raise it: these are all par for the course for me.

Although I do everything unconventionally and it doesn't look like it's about to change any time soon, I wonder about the conventional phenomenon of the decline of sexual desire within long-term relationship. The sizzle subsides. The heat peters out. The comfort of home and hearth replace the fire of the loins. Not for everyone, but for so, so many.

Should we not get into long-term partnership if we want to keep our erotic embers alive? Is it inevitable or can we practice, will, hope, create, connive and reason our way out of the inevitability? And why does it prove to be so ubiquitously inevitable?

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with giving sex a break. After that many years together, some folks might be happy to get a rest, to have time to devote to intimacy, conversation, travel, children, learning, cuddling, what have you. A hot sex life is only a priority if it's a priority.

But what if it is a priority – and it's going down the tubes? I've just been reading and heartily enjoying "Mating in Captivity" by Esther Perel, NYC based sex/couples therapist.

She posits that one cause for the decline is that the safety, intimacy and comfort that are the hard-won results of long-term partnership are often at odds with the unknown, taboo and forbidden that fuel our sexual and erotic connections.

Another is the identity clash some of us feel in our new roles as wife, husband or family maker. A dutiful wife should be self-sacrificing and not tend to her pleasure, right? A caring husband wouldn't have THOSE kinds of thoughts about the mother of his children, would he?

But who says what we want in one area of our life carries over part and parcel to another? Aren't we flexible beings, capable of wearing many hats? Can we be a vixen in bed and a entrepreneur in life? Can't we be a fantastic parent and into whatever kink we are into? Isn't it a paradox in the first place to be human, to be in a relationship, even?

Perhaps including all our oxymoronic parts in one teeming relationship is what the whole thing is about.

Perhaps embracing the paradox and including what would ordinarily be excluded is the key to getting all we want WITHIN the relationship, rather than going OUTSIDE the relationship. The statistic is that somewhere between 50-80% of people cheat. Yowsa.

As Esther Perel writes:

"Family life flourishes in a an atmosphere of comfort and consistency. Yet eroticism resides in unpredictability, spontaneity, and risk. Eros is a force that doesn't like to be constrained. When it settles into repetition, habit, or rules, it touches its death. It is then transformed into boredom and sometimes, more powerfully into repulsion. Sex, a harbinger of loss of control, is fraught with uncertainty and vulnerability. But when kids come on the scene, our tolerance for these destabilizing emotions takes a dive. Perhaps this is why they are so often relegated to the fringes of family life. What eroticism thrives on, family life defends against."

"When we validate one another's freedom within the relationship, we're less inclined to search for it elsewhere. [Infidelity] is no longer a shadow but a presence, something to talk out openly, joke about, play with. When we can tell the truth safely, we are less inclines to keep secrets."

So, here's to telling the truth – all of it.
Here's to a hearth and home that embraces not only our excellent communication, our brilliant intimacy, our integrity and our loving kindness, but our seducer, our temptress, our shadow, our illicit, and our quickly-beating erotic hearts.

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Posted by LiYana at 1:35 pm  Comments Off on At Home with the Erotic

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Reverse Spiritual Cowgirls in Red

Don't all magical things converge in threes?


I lit a red candle today, in honor of my dear father, who passed away on October 23, 2008. Red for Roland (my dad). I'm trying to sense into the ways his essence is still with me. He's not so much a guardian angel type, more like a trickster, a coyote or kokopeli. So as my best plans for efficiency and hard work unravel and snag, I wonder if it's my dear dad, reminding me to lift my head up, sip life, enjoy the art in the making around me, the ordinary made extraordinary by taking the time to see it. And leave time for some mischief, too.

To keep track of our toothbrushes, growing up, it ws Red for Roland, Blue for Beverly, my mom (who is a guardian angel) and Yellow for LiYana (ok, that's a stretch, but what color starts with L? I don't think lime-colored toothbrushes existed in the 1970s)


As I was sitting at my red candle, I saw that the book of matches was stamped with "Camp Reverse Cowgirl" – and remembered getting it at Burning Man this last year. I sparkly woman in a cowgirl hat handed it to me as a reward for making it back alive after flying in an open-cockpit plane with a friend. For those of you that don't know, Burning Man is a 50,000 person summer camp for adults in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. Each year, folks come and set up extraordinary art installations, dance, and bring new meaning to extreme camping, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Many folks form themselves into theme camps, such as the Reverse Cowgirls.

In case you don't know, a Cowgirl is not only an intrepid lass exploring her way to her own personal frontiers, but is also an affectionate name for the sexual position when the woman is on top. Reverse Cowgirl, well, you can probably make the picture.

Maybe you recognize this chic?

And check out the picture, up and to your right, yo!


And then there's one of my newest friends and colleagues, Sera Beak. I met her when we were both interviewed on the Stuart Davis Show, "Sex, God, Rock & Roll" a couple of months ago. I realized her book, "The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark" was hugely helpful to me, years and years ago, as I was redesigning my business and creating

The Red Book. It's all about "going Red," connecting to the real, alive, beating heart of spirituality, in that kind of raw, outlaw kind of way. The divine is nowhere that you are not; the divine is having a divine/human experience through you.

Sera's up to starting a Redvolution.

Here's Sera, in a phone booth, which I suspect is one of the art installations at Burning Man.

Welcome spiritual cowgirls and boys … This is Sera Beak, a Harvard-trained scholar of world religions and intrepid spiritual cowgirl who spent the last 12 years traveling the world exploring spirituality — from whirling with Sufi dervishes to meeting the Dalai Lama on her 21st birthday; from taking the host from a Croatian Catholic mystic who had the stigmata (truly) to having life-altering visions with a shaman (and everything in between). She's synthesized her experience and research into a new book and have come to one conclusion:

(it’s not what you think)

The Golden Age of divine booty calls.
Is not in the ancient past.
It’s right now.

So then the question becomes:
How the hell do we wink back?
One answer: By turning red, of course.

Check it out:

"When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!"

– Anonymous

Posted by LiYana at 12:10 pm  Comments Off on Reverse Spiritual Cowgirls in Red

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Pablo Neruda and Skype

The truth is, these last few weeks have felt like hell. Negotiations with my partner on leaving San Francisco, how to combine keeping my business flourishing and me writing my book while we take off on a sailboat for a year, or two. We are good negotiators, but sometimes our skill level is surpassed by the complexity of the situation. This has been one of those times.

It's gotten heavy, snarled, emotional, chargey and even ugly. I've been scared. I don't think the straightest when I'm terrified.

Today, the last person I expected to be my angel, was.
Nathan, my partner in crime, in life and in love.
Nathan, on a boat, our home to be, in the Caribbean:

The Pablo Neruda part comes after the Skype part.

Our Skype chat from today:

1:21 PM
how are you feeling about me?

1:22 PM
i'm feeling good about you
i like you
i like us
i like our time together
i don't have all the answers
but i feel like things will work out
with creativity and intelligence and sensitivity
we made it through crazier things and have been the better for it
we'll do the same in leaving san fran / sailing / leaving sailing
come out better for it, is my thought on it.
what do you think?

1:24 PM
generally, i like that, it makes sense
i'm having a very difficult time right now
i guess nothing to do about it

1:25 PM
anything i can do to help with your difficult time?

LiYana Silver
1:27 PM
i'm shy to express things like that
since it's gotten us intro trouble lately
mostly, it's not your deal, so i try to work it out on my own, but then i isolate and it's hard for me to connect or be vulnerable

if i share, or ask for support, eventually it becomes something that you don't like doing, and it causes problems, and i feel like a jerk for asking, for needing, for relying on you

these last few days i feel lost, like leaving SF now, things seems pointless while we are apart

1:30 PM
it is hard to have decided to leave, with a transition time
i can feel that
of course, you're welcome to come to the boat and do nothing but work for the first 2 months
though i think some things are better in san fran

i've been thinking about coming back earlier in feb
so as to have less time apart
as another way to do it

1:34 PM
that's sweet. i'm surprised and delighted to hear it
i wouldn't want you to miss out on being there, if it's important
i don't have good thinking on it

1:35 PM
no worries … i'm thinking on it …
i figure it will all make sense as we go along
i just come back to
i love you
i feel better with you
life always works out better than i expect
even when it doesn't feel like that will be the case
so not to worry too much, but be healthy, eat well, love a lot, and stay Awake
and make the best decisions with the most information we have

1:36 PM
i'm just so scared
terrified, actually

1:36 PM
what is your worst fear?

1:37 PM
two i think

that i'll give up on myself, what's important to me

that i'll be that woman who follows you and eventually, you'll hate that woman, who has no center

1:40 PM
i hear you love

on the first one, i feel like you're doing good at holding out and discussing what's really important to you

and i feel like i've moved a lot around supporting your business, and will only get better around whatever i understand is really important to you

on the second one … i don't think its a real fear …
i think its dangerous to think that way
because it puts you between two losing options
one to not follow me, to be independent, and to lose me
or to follow me, to lose yourself, and to lose me
i don't think either is accurate

1:42 PM
that's kind of what it feels like

1:42 PM
yes. i think that second one is a construct where its reasonable to be terrified
its an unwinnable construct

not sure how to assure you the 2nd is not true. likely there is nothing i can say around it. but i'd say that's the place to focus your thoughts / talking to others / talking to me

1:43 PM
if it's not true, what is?
i get that it's not winable, just not sure what IS winable?

1:44 PM
that you are a woman i repeatedly and consistently show affection, love and loyalty too.

and that you being you will cause that to continue
the you that is strong and flexible, and follower and a leader
who negotiations nicely but firmly
who stands for what she wants and needs, but who considers me and my needs as well
the lionness
and the seductress
the woman by my side
and the woman out ahead

i think you are a unique and amazing woman, who has the skills and ability to be with me, and be better as a result
and i don't know any other that will be

1:46 PM
those are nice things
thank you

1:46 PM
not nice. true.

1:48 PM
i don't what to say, sorry, i am crying

1:48 PM
its ok. i love you liyana. i think you should keep doing what you are doing. feeling in the dark, doing your best. negotiationg, leading, following, petitioning, giving in, what feels right.
trusting your instincts for when to
go along, when to dig in your heels
i'd look at the current situation
from a place of what do your instincts say would be the best to do, the best to say

if you trust that will be the best thing, and it will all work out in your favor if you follow it
and do that, be true to that, come what will

1:50 PM
that is very good guidance
do you always trust your instincts?
or listen to them?

1:52 PM
i listen to them
then do everything not to listen to them
and then come back to listening to them, and generally doing what they say
even when it makes little sense
they are my navigation in complex waters
and when i look back on my life, they've always been right

none made sense at the time. all took courage. all were the right thing to do in retrospect

you have developed instincts. listen to them. see what you come up with. trust them. trust yourself. you know!

this is one thing i know to be true about you
no bullshit
we share this trait/skill

1:54 PM
thanks for saying all these things about me. it's helpful. i'm not feelng very good about myself. it's good to get a little outside perspective.

1:55 PM
you're being great, you know?
liyana, i love and adore you
i'm sorry this is a rough time
i have empathy.. and i feel rsponsible. and i know i'm doing the best i can
you'll get through it
listen to your soul, listen to your pussy
and tell me what they say later on, sometime soon

1:55 PM
ok, i will, my love

1:55 PM
i love you

1:55 PM
i appreciate your seeing and level-headedness and compassion right now
i need it
i wasn't expecting it, and i couldn't ask for it

i love you, too, nathan, this i know

1:57 PM
i love you liyana
i always ask myself, do i love liyana, am i better person as a result of being with her
and i consistently come back with

1:59 PM
this is what i wanted to ask for before, when you asked how you can help me: your compassion, love, tenderness, support

thank you
more than you can imagine
thank you

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly,
without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way.”

– Pablo Neruda


Posted by LiYana at 8:34 pm  Comments Off on Pablo Neruda and Skype

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Rock it

I was at a friend's for dinner a couple of nights ago and got to spend time with a new friend, Annie Lalla, who said the most astounding thing I have to pass along to you now.

We were talking of the ups and downs of life, of what to "do" with an emotion that surges up, less-than-comfortable. She said, "I always think of rocking my emotions to sleep like a baby."

Imagine. Holding each emotion close to your heart, gently, and rocking, letting it spin out its howling, its tantrum, its longing, its misery. Until with enough time, warmth, love and compassion, it quiets and it comes home.

Incidentally, Annie has a fabulous last name, Lalla, also the name of a woman ecstatic Sufi poet. Here's one of Sufi Lalla's gems:

I was passionate,
filled with longing,
I searched
far and wide.

But the day
that the Truthful One
found me,
I was at home.

Posted by LiYana at 5:42 pm  Comments Off on Rock it

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