business-19156_1280So we’re a few weeks into the new year, and by now your goals/resolutions/intentions are either sticking, or they’re not.

If they are, great! Gold stars all around!

If they’re not, it might be because you haven’t made room for them. There’s just too much stuff on the table. You know that feeling of overwhelm and too many demands?

Yeah that.

The easiest way to make room for what you want, is to stop tolerating things you don’t.

Toleration: (n) the people, events or situations that you put up with, that drain your energy.

Tolerating things is a waste of time and effort. They keep you from being yourself and enjoying life to the fullest. Generally, it’s a fast-track to anger, frustration and irritability, and almost everyone does too much of this. 

We do it because we don’t want to make a fuss.

We do it because it’s easier to just put up with it.

We do it because “Who has the time?”

But tolerations add up. They’re like holes your personal happiness cup. You put happiness in, but you end up feeling drained anyway. Every little thing that doesn’t matter that much, but makes you a little bit annoyed (or downright grumpy) is something you’re tolerating, and if you’re like most people, I bet you have dozens, if not hundreds, of them.

On top of that, we tell ourselves little lies to make it seem okay:

128H“It’s not a big deal.”
“He didn’t mean it that way.”
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Or big ones:

“I’m not good enough to have that.”
“I don’t deserve that.”
“If I were really enlightened, this wouldn’t bother me.”

So not only are you putting up with things that don’t work for you, you’re also confusing yourself about what’s actually reality.

From there, it’s almost impossible to know what you actually want, much less make it happen.

So, for the new year, here are 21 things to stop tolerating.

  1. Relationships that drain you
  2. A work environment or career that you hate
  3. Work that isn’t aligned with your worth
  4. Uncomfortable beds, shoes or chairs
  5. Not having the right tools for the job
  6. Making plans with people you don’t really want to see, or to do things you don’t really want to do
  7. That voice in your head that tells you “you suck”
  8. Other people’s negativity
  9. Not getting enough sleep
  10. Sitting too much
  11. Not drinking enough water
  12. Trying to make everyone happy all the time / what other people think of you
  13. Keeping up with the Joneses
  14. Thinking that perfect exists
  15. Bad sex
  16. Unfinished business
  17. Dishonesty
  18. Lack of intimacy
  19. Constantly managing your emotional state to “okay”
  20. Not getting the help you need
  21. Not saying what you need

Because we’re so used to putting up with stuff, it may be hard to even see it at first. I invite you to lean into your self-honesty here, and ask yourself:

What am I tolerating?
What is this costing me?
Why have I been tolerating it? (i.e., What’s the payoff been?)
What’s actually true about what I want?
What is one small but powerful step I can take toward the truth?

Then write it down, and share it here:

I will no longer tolerate …
Instead, I choose to…

 

For more on tolerations, download my free ebook: Good Girl Gone Bad (where I share over 50 things I’ve been tolerating.)

{ 0 comments }

Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure to be involved with three other remarkable women in a panel discussion on practical, effective tools for talking with people you love about Ferguson, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, race and #blacklivesmatter. In less than 24 hours, we put out an invitation for people to listen in and send their comments… and over 150 people did. Here is the original invitation, a recording of the panel and the resources we put together, for you to use in your own conversations with your loved ones.

blmtalk3

The Original Invitation

from Kimberly McCrae, Amber Butts, Tatyana Brown and Marcia Baczynski

The violence feels like it’s escalating. Or maybe you know that we’re finally starting to pay attention to a crisis that’s been taking lives for centuries. Between the non-indictments, the marches in the streets, and the mounting list of names of black people needlessly murdered by police officers and vigilantes, the impulse to do something (ANYTHING) to help has become urgent and impossible to ignore.

But it’s not just the big “political” gestures that can shift our culture towards justice — it’s individual, careful conversations with people who trust and love each other enough to listen even when it’s painful and scary. As baffling as it might be, it’s important to realize that there are still people who don’t see the problem. Some of them sit at the same dinner table as we do during the holidays.

These are the people that each of us have the most potential to reach.

[read more…]

{ 0 comments }

575482_10151062257366271_489183581_nI first met Polly Superstar in early 2008, when I was visiting San Francisco from New York. Scheduled to be there for nine weeks while teaching and taking classes, I somehow landed at (and basically moved into) Mission Control, a sex-positive arty sexy space, co-created by a brassy Brit with big boobs named Polly.

Over the following year, as I gradually made my permanent move to the Bay, Polly was a constant fixture in my life, inviting me to strange events, letting me couch surf for weeks at a time, and captivating my attention with her ability to find play and inspiration at every possible turn.

But 2008 wasn’t all fun and games. As much as it marked a turning point in my life, Polly and Mission Control were in the midst of a transition that year too. The burden of running such a culturally important yet day-to-day grinding organization were becoming too much for Polly and her partner Scott. This beloved sanctuary of freakishness and fabulosity was threatening to take them under, and it wasn’t clear how it was all going to play out.

[read more…]

{ 0 comments }

Embodiment for Brainiacs

November 8, 2014

rodin-thinkerDesire. Bodies. Feelings. Pleasure.

Some of us look at these things with a skeptical eye.

Others run screaming in the other direction.

For a lot of us, phrases like “Listen to your intuition,” “Trust your body,” and “What does your gut say?” sound like gibberish at best, or an invitation to disaster at worst.

But for heady people who have learned to listen to their bodies, the intuitive and gut-level is additional information that can help you navigate your world more gracefully and intelligently.

It’s just information. It’s all information.

And we all know that knowledge is power.

0622130850My friend Leela Sinha and I know this, because we’ve been there. Coming from families of engineers, mathematicians and medical professionals, we both learned from an early age to value the life of the mind, and to “figure things out.” As adults, though, we’ve each come to discover that there’s a lot more to creating a life you love than you can “figure out.”

Sometimes your gut has a lot to say, and it’s worth listening.

We recently got together to talk about this and got into the nitty gritty details of:

  • What it means, practically speaking, to be “embodied” and why it’s useful
  • How to use your body to figure out what you really want (in life, love, work and in the bedroom)
  • Simple practices for listening to your body and figuring out what it wants
  • What “intuition” is really about
  • How to use your body’s wisdom to help your mind make better life decisions
  • And loads more…

It was awesome! Lucky for you, we recorded it.

You can listen right here (right click to download)

{ 0 comments }

bmcoupleDear Marcia,

I’m going to Burning Man this year for the first time with my partner and I want to make sure our relationship doesn’t implode. What are some things we should watch out for?

- Playa Bound

Dear Playa Bound,

Burning Man is a weird and wonderful place where all sorts of mind-blowing stuff can happen. However, some things are predictable. Here’s what to know ahead of time. 

You will fight and it will probably be because you’re dehydrated. If you catch yourselves fighting doesn’t assume it mean the end of the world, and instead check your self-care. My camp has a rule that if you saw two people getting snippy with each other, separate them and make them drink water and sit in the shade for a bit. This rule saved several relationships that I know of. Make it your own. 

Time works differently on the playa. When you’re making dates with your sweetie, try to schedule them according to the sun, rather than the clock. It’s much easier to meet up back at camp “around sunset” than to try to do something at 4pm. Clocks have little meaning in an environment of immediacy, and you’ll only cause yourself frustration if you try to keep both of you on some sort of schedule. 

Expectations will fuck you up. If you think something is going to be a certain way, or your sweetie is going to do a certain thing, you will almost always be disappointed. It is far better to set some intentions, do the best you can, assume others are doing the best they can, take responsibility for getting your own needs met, and then roll with whatever shows up.

Mushroom People at Burning Man 2010There will be eye-candy. Lots of it. Sweaty, scantily-clad eye candy. Get clear ahead of time what is and isn’t okay, and what your intentions are in regards to this eye candy. Do you want to make out with strangers together on Threesome Thursday? Look but don’t touch? Plan one day where you go your separate ways and whatever happens happens? Talk ahead of time about what you each want, but don’t push each other’s boundaries. Burning Man is a strange, magical place, but you want to be on speaking terms when you leave. Respect your boundaries and agreements. 

You will need lube. It’s the desert. When it’s time for the two of you to make sweet, sweet love, make sure you have lube, water, condoms and baby wipes ready to go. 

For more handy tips, check out the Burning Man Relationship Survival Guide. Or, if you’re in the Bay Area, come to my class on August 17th.

Talk things through ahead of time, but stay flexible and spontaneous. Be nice to each other and enjoy the ride! 

Love,

Marcia

photos courtesy quantamlars and michael holden via flickr

{ 0 comments }

yesbymadhavaHere’s a stack of wonderful ways to check in with your partner, to find out more of what they want, and to communicate your own desires. Try some today!

  1. “Do you like when I…?”
  2. “I like when you…”
  3. “Will you…?”
  4. “How does this feel?”
  5. “Do you want me to…?”
  6. “Do you want to…?”
  7. “Is there anything you want to try?”
  8. “Show me what you like.”
  9. “Do you want to go further?”
  10. “Do you want to stop?”
  11. “Can I…?”
  12. “Does this feel good?”
  13. “Are you happy?”
  14. “Are you comfortable?”
  15. “Are you having a good time?”
  16. “Is this good for you?”

* I found this floating around the internet without citation. If you know who gets original credit for this, please let me know!

 Mighty fine thanks to Madhava for the pic.

{ 0 comments }

valentine-heartLove is confusing. It’s messy and unpredictable and wild and untamable. It obeys no laws, adheres to no restrictions. It’ll knock the socks off of you and everyone around you. And the wind out of you too.

What with the wind and the socks, it sort of feels like being in a tumble dryer.

But no one puts that on a Hallmark card.

___________________________________

The Greeks had 4 or 7 or 8 words for love… like ἀγάπη, ἔρως, φιλία, στοργή, μανία.

Wikipedia has a bunch of them. But you can’t find love on Wikipedia.

___________________________________

What I mean when I talk about love is so many things but many of them point to being kind.

Being kind and not being attached.

Being kind and not being attached and expanding. Expanding into something you didn’t know you could be.

And there’s also something about being curious. Endlessly, hopelessly curious.

And devoted. Which implies LOYAL but also implies SURRENDER. (Well, shit, that’s scary.)

Yes. Love is kind and not attached and expanding and curious and devoted and loyal and surrendering.

All that. While not getting lost and keeping your center. With, like, boundaries and stuff(Because if you can’t say “I” then you can’t say “I love you.”)

What I mean when I talk about love is being kind and not attached and expanding into the unknown and being curious and being devoted and loyal and surrendering.

I mean all of that. But what I really mean is being kind.

___________________________________

A lover once said to me, with wonder in his eyes, “Love feels like love.”

Love doesn’t feel like obligation, or coercion, or fear, or doubt, or a battle to be won. Those things might be there, but those aren’t love.

I wanted to take him into my arms and say, “Of course it does, dear.” But he was already there.

___________________________________

Love is safe. Profoundly safe. But it FEELS dangerous…

Can I trust this much? Can I really let go? Can I surrender? Is it okay? Is it okay? Is it okay?

Is it okay?

I don’t know. Is it?

You have to answer that for yourself.

___________________________________

What I mean when I talk about love is that it’s scary to love and it’s scary to be loved and it’s scary to let go into someone loving someone else, and it’s all very vulnerable.

I spend my life helping people navigate all the things around love: fears and boundaries and desires and what about me? and how do you build a life with somebody that you love and what do you do when there is more than one person you love and what if you love someone but the sex isn’t working, or what if the sex is working but you want something else too and so on.

But none of this is love.

What I mean when I talk about love is that it’s worth it.

 

(Originally published on the Successful Non-Monogamy mailing list.)

{ 0 comments }

Who are your role models?

January 16, 2014

513px-Katharine_Hepburn_promo_pic“She was independent. She chose her way of life – hurting no one and never vying for approval.”

This is what Lauren Bacall said about Katharine Hepburn after her death.

I love this quote for so many reasons. I love it when powerful women build each other up. I love that it reflects Hepburn as the kind of woman who neither needed to be “good” to be great, nor “bad” to be noticed. And I love that it points out that women have the opportunity to choose how we live.

In a time when most Hollywood actresses played to stereotypes, Katharine Hepburn dared to go a different direction. She was labeled “box office poison” early in her career and rejected the Hollywood publicity machine but she made her own (massive!!) success outside of these power structures.

Hepburn donned mannish suits while never caving on her femininity, and found ways of playing powerful characters even as she aged out of being a starlet. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she never remarried, but did have a 26-year committed relationship with Spencer Tracy that she kept firmly out of the public eye.

All of these things point to what it means to be a Great Woman instead of a Good Girl. A good girl would have tried to conform to what the publicists and studios wanted. A good girl would have tried to stay young, and she certainly would have worn gowns and dresses at every turn. A good girl might have tried to reject these constraints by rebelling. But a Great Woman stays in her center, even as life throws its difficulties at her.

(I don’t know about you, but even THINKING about all that “trying” exhausts me!)

The world is full of people and messages that are all about telling you to be unfailingly nice, not “too much,” and ever-accommodating. That’s why it’s crucial to have examples of women who have done it differently. Not necessarily “bad” girls, but actual, grown-ass women who have found their own path and built their own lives on their terms.

In other words: role models.

Katharine Hepburn is one of mine. Who are yours?


1

Quick note: The Good Girl Recovery Program starts NEXT WEEK, and we still have a few openings left. Among many, many other things, I’ll help you find your role models for the life you want to be living.

Grab your seat now and make 2014 the year of your Great Woman.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

The Donner Party.
The threatening hordes.
The family hurricane.
The microscope parade.

What do these words have in common? They’re all terms I’ve heard my clients use in the past week, referring to their families and the holidays.

319693504_bd75a21dfaNo matter how much “work” you might have done on yourself, spending several days in close quarters with people who really, really know you (but also kinda don’t) can be crazy-making. There are explicit obligations and implied “shoulds.” You may find yourself slipping back into old behaviors like people-pleasing or not speaking up. You might have spent all year practicing asking for what you want, but when it comes to the last Christmas cookie, or making sure that you and your partner get some alone time, “what you want” slides to the bottom of the priority list and you find yourself curled up in a ball wondering what the hell happened.

Keeping your center and staying grounded, even in the chaos, can make for the best holidays yet. In that spirit, here are four questions to help you navigate the holiday season, whether you’re spending them with your blood family, chosen family, or some crazy batch of strangers you haven’t decided if you’re going to keep yet.

Question 1: What can I let go of?

Around the holidays, there are tons of rules and things you “should” do, many of which fall under the heading of “tradition.” The problem is, as you go through life and come into contact with more and more people, the traditions, obligations and expectations multiply. The pressure to participate sometimes comes from other people, and sometimes comes from ourselves. But ask yourself: Do I really HAVE to bake 4 different kinds of cookies? Could I let go of some of the decorations this year? Would the world REALLY end if I don’t go the Boxing Day brunch? What would actually happen if I took a nap instead of going to the movies this afternoon with 12 relatives?

Simplify your holiday season by opting out of the things you are doing for no good reason. Check out what you can legitimately just let go of. Ask the people around you how it would be for them if you did things a little differently this year. Remember too, that a no to one thing is a yes to something else.

Question 2: What can I accept is so?

Your ex has always been a bit of a space cadet.
Your mom knows EVERYTHING. (Or at least acts like it.)
You know your dad is going to grumble about making dinner.
This is the third year your partner has tried to quit smoking for New Year’s and he’s ALWAYS a jerk for 3 days.
And the kids never fail to wake you up at 5am Christmas morning.

iStock_000002245591XSmall

Getting angry with people for being who they are, and not being what you want them to be is a massive source of stress, especially over the holidays. Wishing they were different is one thing. Getting angry because they’re the way they are is like getting angry because it’s raining when you want to go on a picnic. If you find yourself saying that so-and-so “always” or “never” does something, then maybe it’s time to consider that that’s how it is, and make an alternate plan or adjust your expectations.

Much like a rainy day picnic, accepting what’s so is about finding workarounds and alternative plans. Which means – get creative! If your dad is going to grumble about making dinner, maybe it’s time to find a different chef. If the kids will wake you up at 5am, plan for quiet time after all the presents are opened and squeeze a nap in. If your mom wants to tell you about all of the things, be curious and ask her questions about things she actually DOES know a lot about. And tell your partner that you support his non-smoking, but you’ll be taking a little space for a few days.

Question 3: What can I do for me?

It’s so easy to get swept up in the spirit of giving that your bank account shrivels, your waistline expands, and you start to feel haggard and grinch-y. Before long, you’re snapping at the people you care about, and you’re wondering if it’s too late to return all those gifts and buy a ticket to Tahiti (or Tallahassee). Alone.

It’s time to do something for yourself. Take a page from my dad’s book and buy something you really want and wrap it up with a note from Santa. Or, take a deep breath every 20 minutes. Schedule a real vacation for a few months down the road. Go to a yoga class. Trade babysitting with the neighbors to get a night alone. Go for a run. Set aside some of those cookies you made into a special “me only” tin for you to enjoy after the hordes descend.

(If you find yourself saying, “but there’s no time!” may I refer you back up to the first question: What can you let go of?)

Question 4: What will I opt out of next year?

Much of the time we end up doing stuff over the holidays because someone else set it into motion before we had a chance to figure out which way is up. You can get sucked up into another person’s vision for the holidays, and before you know it, you are trapped in a three-day “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathon.

This is really about setting expectations early and often. If it’s too late to salvage the holidays this year, plan for next year and start setting boundaries now. Appreciate what’s good about being here or doing this thing now, while you’re in it, and then, tell the relevant person that you won’t be participating next year. Think about what you’d rather do instead. Set up a reminder for yourself for next year, so that it pops up between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

(Note to self: DON’T commit to Aunt Edna’s Handel-Messiah-sing-along-and-all-you-can-eat-buffet next year. DO schedule with Jamie and Casey EARLY.)

Best wishes for a very happy holiday season and a spectacular New Year.


PS – The early bird discount for the Good Girl Recovery Program ends Sunday.

Sign up now.

(Might I mention that this also makes a great gift for the awesome-but-overly-people-pleasing-and-wants-to-bust-outta-her-shell woman in your life.)


Mighty fine thanks to Dylan Tweny for the elf pic.

 

{ 0 comments }

You know what I love? I love it when one of you replies to me and plays the “I Want” Game from the Uncover Your Desires e-course. The answers are so varied and heartfelt and I feel touched every single time one pops into my inbox. Some are simple. Some are playful. Some are so, so sad I can feel the longing and want jump out of the screen at me.

SadnessI found one of my own “I Want” games today, and I wanted to share it with you. This is from a few months ago, when I was in the midst of what felt like an incredible betrayal. My mind was going crazy. I had been hurt tremendously by someone close to me and I was in so much pain. Every moment was consumed with “Why? Why? Why?”

I knew from experience that playing the “I Want” game was a path to reconnecting with my own desires. Circling around the endlessly unanswerable question of why this had happened to me was getting me nowhere, so I played.

It didn’t fix everything (it took months of conversation with the person who had hurt me to sort things out fully, and that bit is still tender for me.) But playing did crack the door open to other parts of myself that were getting lost in the pain. It was reminded me that what I wanted was bigger than just the fear and grief and loss.

Every bit of my own insecurity, ambition and pain is in this list, a snapshot of a moment of desire. So much felt so scary to me at the time, and this “I Want” is my own hurting howl of want, entirely unedited… which makes it especially edgy to put it out for the whole internet to read. But I believe that it’s only by sharing our messy bits that we get the space and permission we need to be whole, so I’m sharing it here with you, now. Here goes…

***

What I Want…

I want him to pay attention to me, to realize how much I’m hurting, to take more than just 20 minutes and actually GET ME, to realize I’m not demanding anything of him, that I”m simply asking something of him, and for him to give me an answer.

I want to not have to walk away because he won’t give me an answer.

I want to be able to enjoy the incredible beauty I’m surrounded by right now, here at my friend’s estate, without thinking about the pain I feel from having been dropped.

I want to relive that moment of eating the apple and the orange from the garden, slow it down even more.

I want to throw my iPhone in the trash. It seems, in this moment, to be the source of so much of my pain.

I want to pay attention to my breath. I want to not sound so much like a hippie when I say stuff like that.

I want to remember. I want to hold on. I want to hold all these moments. I want to capture these things. I want to not want that, because I know the futility of it, but I want it anyway, and I’m letting myself want it.

I want to be heard. I want to be loved. I want that what he said was true to be actually true. I want my trust to have not been misplaced.

I want to be a better cook. I want to know what flavors go with what and to be able to just know that that is the sausage to get, and those are the greens that go with it. I want to not be intimidated when people are having a potluck and I’m supposed to bring something. There are so many foodies here!

I want to be more disciplined about my writing. I want to be able to transfer the discipline I have in showing up for difficult conversations or creating experiences for people into my writing.

I want to understand the longing that other people seem to feel that I feel so rarely. I want to get what it is that makes other people tick. I want to not feel aversion to some of the things that lay under the surface of that ticking. I want to be able to be with it all.

I want flowers in my home on a regular basis.

I want less of my life to revolve around my damn iPhone.

I want to be sending and receiving more letters in the mail. I consider myself lucky that I have that at all. I want more of that.

I want to be speaking on stage in front of hundreds of people on a regular basis. I want my book to be written and published. I more than want these. I will make these happen. I believe these things will fulfill something deep in me that is more than want. I want to fulfill that.

I want my family of choice to feel stable again. I want to know where I fit in, whether there is a there there anymore. I want to be able to relax into knowing when I will see people and that I will be held. I want us all to stop being in so much pain over so many complex and hard things. I want my friends to stop breaking up and separating and for things to feel settled again.

I want to be producing more than I currently have the means to produce. I want more support professionally, and I want it to feel good and inspiring.

I want to go on a book tour. :)

I want to stop arguing with him in my head. I want to be heard.

I want to know how to end this list.

***

(If you don’t know the “I Want” game, sign up for the free Uncover Your Desires e-course right here, and you can play too.)

{ 0 comments }