with Apollo Grace, core-light.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

Living Well - now with Chocolate Cookies

On a lighter note than my usual musings...  a delightful recipe success.  I'm thinking, what can I contribute to the seasonal Christmas Cookie gluttony when I'm gluten-free and really prefer not to eat sugar?  There really are many options, but here's what I went with, woven together from other online recipes and intuition.

Gluten-free, reduced-sugar Triple-Chocolate Cookies
(Because wheat and sugar are dispensable, but chocolate is not.)

The Dry Stuff:

  • 1 C Gluten-Free All-purpose Flour mix.  (Good brands include Glutino, or 1-2-3 Gluten-Free - something that includes rice flour, tapioca, among others, and a little bit of guar or xanthan gum.)
  • 1 C Xylitol.  (Could be less - 3/4 works well for me.)
  • 1/2 C Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1/2 t Baking Soda
Whisk it all up.

The Double-Boiler stuff:
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 t vanilla
Start chips melting in a double boiler; add butter and vanilla.  Turn off water before it gets too hot, just has to melt together.  Stir together till fairly smooth & even.

Stir 2 eggs into the Dry Stuff (it'll be clumpy), then add the Double-Boiler stuff.  When well mixed, add another 4 oz chocolate chips.  (White chocolate chips are good here, too, but watch out, they're often based on trans-fats instead of real cocoa butter.)

Bake at 325-350 for 15-20 minutes.  (Still working the precise timing out, but the cookie should "bounce back" when you poke it lightly with your finger.)  Cool rapidly.  (Wonderful served chilled.)

Fun to do one tray w dark chocolate chips, one with white.
Blessings of the holiday season for all.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The "Problem" of How to Live Well

Recently in a group meditation, I realized that I place a huge value on "living well" - essentially on living the sort of life that I could be proud of, and satisfied with, when I die. But there are so many different ways to interpret this.Recently in a group meditation, I realized that I place a huge value on "living well" - essentially on living the sort of life that I could be proud of, and satisfied with, when I die. But there are so many different ways to interpret this.

There are at least three major dimensions to living well. There's living ethically and with love, where the focus is on our right relationship to the people and society around us. There's living well for ourselves, ensuring that I've done right by this being that I am, giving my Self the opportunity to fully bloom in my own talents, passions, creativity, and joy. And, for many of us, there's right relationship with spirit, with God, with the creative force behind the Universe itself.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return"
- Nat King Cole

I've been working this "problem" for most of my life. In college, I decided I'd been too focused on academics, and needed to balance with parties, drink and social life (lest I miss out on something fundamental to being human). After college, I decided I needed to contribute to the world through politics - that that was an essential part of living well and responsibly. Later in life, I came to more fully embrace my spiritual nature, and meditation and practice became part of living well. I decided that my body needed to be a "worthy carriage", so I lost 30 pounds and built up my strength. Following this ideal, I at times added in writing, healing and facilitation, developing my Masculine side, even occasional musical expression.

"I invoke and dream Awake the Infinite Empowerment of my sexual, spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and financial relationship with Life."
- Astarius

But I say "problem" because I see now that that's how I've been relating to it. I haven't been motivated so much by the positive - having a full, rich life - as by the negative - better not get this "life" thing wrong, you've only got one! What the recent meditation helped me to see is that I'm "never going to get it figured out". I'm never going to land on the perfect formula for living my own full, rich life. It's going to be a source of confusion and exploration every day that I walk this Earth. So facing that, I have an opportunity for despair - but behind that, an opportunity for surrender. I get to just live, and strive, in the muck and confusion with the rest of humanity.

In this context, "living well" becomes, simply, the best I can figure out, day to day, year to year. I can't promise myself that I won't have regrets, or wasted time. Indeed, I can promise exactly the opposite - because a life that's so tightly controlled that it has no regrets or wasted time is no life at all.

"It's better to regret something you did, than something you didn't do."
- Red Hot Chili Peppers

One of this advantages of having this as a driving obsession for most of my life, however, is that I have found a number of things that work really well in my life, and may in yours.

If you're interested in learning more about how I lost weight efficiently and easily, please visit my page on the Body-Mind Morphing protocol.

To delve into the archetypes that drive your unique life, join me in exploring your Shamanic Astrology chart. Finding my Scorpio moon was a huge opportunity for liberation in my life; similar treasures may await you! Learn more at astrology.core-light.com.

And... one of the most challenging areas for "Living Well" for most of us is the realm of sexuality and sexual expression. We've all had turns of being afraid of it, driven by it, ashamed of it, proud of it, and for most of us, feeling stuck in some way. And yet it's a vitally important part of who we are, affecting our health, our energy, our relationship to the world.

Some of the most advanced and accessible work I've seen in the area of sexuality is being offered by my friends Sol Sebastian and Saida Desilets. Saida & Sol have updated practices from the Taoist and Tantra traditions into practical programs that make sense for people today. The work is integral, in the sense of addressing healthy sexuality from multiple perspectives, including the physical, the psychological, and the energetic. They're offering a free teleclass series as an intro to their work - click here for the Multi-Orgasmic Man program with Sol Sebastian or the Multi-Orgasmic Woman class with Saida Desilets.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Changing the Channel

"OK, let me pull up the results... just let me check..."

Early March, 2013.  Amrita and I wait, eyes on each other, fully present, waiting as the doctor fumbles with her computer.

"I'm sorry, the results aren't here, would you excuse me for a minute?"

She leaves, and we completely crack up.  We know what's happening.  We're here to find out the results of a biopsy of my wife's breast tissue.  We're here to find out if she has cancer, and we really don't know if it's going to be good news or bad.  But still, we're with each other, and in that space, in the tension of the moment, in our impatience with the clumsy medical system and the doctor who can't seem to look us in the eye, all we can do is laugh.

I offer one hopeful opinion in the space that follows.  Surely, I think, all this confusion reflects a hopeful result.  A clear positive is a clear positive, the doctor could have told us that.

But she comes back, and the news is not good.  Lots of long words and obfuscation to cover the simple truth - my wife has breast cancer.  Time to start planning treatment.  Here's an oncologist to go see.  Here's a surgeon, "best breast man on Maui".  (Laughter lurks again.)

As we walk out to the car, I turn to Amrita.  "I'm going to get a job."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hesitation, in each moment.

I've always had a tendency towards procrastination - to put off something challenging that I want or need to do, in favor of something I'm more immediately excited about. But I've just discovered a new form at work in my life; I'm calling it "micro-procrastination". It's that moment of hesitation, before doing anything that feels remotely uncomfortable.

I discovered it the other day, doing pushups. (I'm following the excellent hundred pushups protocol, a great way to bring some rewarding weight training into my life without any equipment.) I get up out of my chair, I'm ready to do my next set of pushups, and I hesitate. I don't want to get on the ground and begin. I know it's going to be uncomfortable. It's hard work. I'm afraid I might not make the goal I set. So I pace back and forth across my office, swing my arms around. And eventually I begin.

Same thing with my morning meditation. I meditate for half an hour a day - most days. But I don't feel quite "ready" when I get up first thing. I want to let my body awaken, have a little bit of coffee, come to some level of wakefulness. I want a little connection with the world, so I look online. A little breakfast. Half an hour passes; an hour. Right now it's nearly 2 hours since I got up, and I haven't meditated yet. Sometimes this hesitation goes on all day - "I'll get to it soon, just want to do this one more thing."

This same hesitation occurs with writing. It occurs with getting up off the couch. It happens with anything I do that has any degree of resistance. It even happens when going to take a shower - I love showers, they feel great and I like being clean, but there's that first moment of getting wet that I don't like. And so I hesitate.

So having seen this, I'm working with it as a microcosm of my whole life. "How you do anything is how you do everything." And it's an opportunity for an awareness-based practice, with the four steps I apply to any awareness-based change in my life habits.

  1. First, I practice noticing the habit. "Ah, hesitation. Here it is again." (Usually I start out noticing it in retrospect, then gradually I notice it immediately as it occurs.)
  2. Second, I examine the habit in the moment it occurs. What is happening here? Why am I choosing to hesitate? What are my feelings? Do I feel unsafe? What would happen if I didn't hesitate? Is there anything about the experience of doing my set of pushups that will be different 30 seconds from now?
  3. Third, I choose to actively counter the pattern. For a 30-day trial period, I decide to do the opposite thing whenever the habit arises. In this case, if anything feels remotely like hesitation, move forward immediately. Set an alarm for my next round of pushups, and drop right into them the moment it sounds. Head straight to my meditation cushion from bed, start the timer while I'm still blinking and yawning. Step right into the shower, don't even let it warm up. Go overboard in non-hesitation, just to stretch in that direction.
  4. Examine the results. Be present with my feelings. Notice what does and does not work about non-hesitation, as well as hesitation.
My hope is that by shifting this micro-procrastination, making this subtle shift in my approach to a (momentarily unwelcome) change, I'll also begin to shift the larger patterns of hesitation in my life. Essentially this is an excellent training ground for developing the ability to move decisively into something rewarding but uncomfortable. And that's an ability I want for myself. It will make me a more powerful and more reliable man. Aho!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The #1 Secret to Getting the Love you Want

When I look back over my own life, there's a very consistent principle that's taken me from the isolation I used to live in to the intimacy in my marriage and in my friendships that deepens every year.

Every year - every month, heck sometimes every day - my wife and I are blown away by the depth of intimacy and joy we share in our relationship. We thought it was pretty amazing last year, and the year before, but it just keeps on growing. The same technique that I use to deepen in that relationship also works with my friendships, and with my birth family. Are you ready to know what it is?

First I should mention a couple of wonderful secrets that it's not. It's not about being giving. Most people I know are happy to give, and actually long to give love and support in relationships. Even where they're blocked in their giving, perhaps because of feelings of isolation or resentment, there's another issue that gets in the way first. It's not about listening, or sensitivity, or empathy - these are all wonderful skills, and it's absolutely worth the time to develop them further, but they're not where I see people getting stuck.

The #1 secret to opening my life to more love, and the secret that I see making a huge difference in the lives of my clients is...  Vulnerability. It's one kind of skill to show up in loving support to your partner, but it's a very different skill to actually bare your soul before your partner and let them see all of you. It's what we crave in our relationships - to really know what's going on inside each other, whether it's silly or scary or angry or loving; to deeply know each other. It's what inspires the deepest forms of trust.

Why this is really important - our guardedness sets a limit on how intimate our relationships can be. To the extent that you're hiding, to the extent that in any situation you choose to hold back instead of sharing your thoughts and feelings, you set a limit on how deep the relationship can go. And that depth of connection is what leads to the most profound satisfaction, the greatest happiness.

But how do we become more vulnerable? While it helps simply to set it as an intention, an aspiration for how we show up with our loved ones, it usually doesn't take too long before we realize there's a fear inside that's holding us back. We can work with this fear in several ways.

We can use our mind to investigate the fear. Run through a quick check of the ways you might not be safe. Am I safe physically in this connection, or is it possible I could be in physical danger from sharing my heart? Am I safe emotionally, or do I fear some kind of verbal attack designed to make me feel bad? Do I feel safety in the confidentiality of my relationship with this person, or do I worry that what I'm saying could be shared with others, misinterpreted, and misconstrued? These are all valid concerns, and if we get a clear "no" to an "Am I safe?" question, it's both healthy and wise to honor that no.

But often, especially in our intimate relationships, we find that we are safe, and we're still scared to share. I get a very clear "yes" to all my "Am I safe" questions with my wife, and yet there are still thoughts or feelings that I can fear sharing, simply because of the habit of fear that accompanies them. I'm afraid to tell her that I was upset by her, because I fear isolation. I'm afraid to tell her about my insecurities, because I'm worried she'll be disappointed in me. These aren't rational fears - when I check in, I really am safe - but they remain with me.

So what can I do when I find myself afraid, and holding back, even though I know I'm safe?
  • I can choose to share anyway. Often we let our "state" determine our behavior - I'm scared, so I'm not going to share. It's liberating on many levels to let our deepest wisdom determine our behavior, even when our current emotional state makes us want to do something else. This is where faith comes in - I have faith in the relationship, I have faith in my practice of being vulnerable, so even though it's hard, I choose to have faith that sharing my heart right now is the richest path forward in this relationship.
  • I can share about the fear. "Something's up for me right now, and I'm having trouble sharing it with you because I'm afraid." Even that much vulnerability opens our hearts to each other - and it also invites your partner into a sympathetic curiosity about what's troubling you.
  • I can ask my partner for more safety. There are numerous communication practices, such as the communication bubble, NVC (nonviolent communication), and simple reflection, that can help give me the emotional sense of safety that makes it easier to continue. (And it's extremely helpful to develop and refine these practices when you're both feeling safe and connected, so that you'll have them available when you need them!)
Ultimately, whoever you're with, the power to open your heart into deeper intimacy rests with you. Choose to open; again and again, wherever it seems safe, and even sometimes when it seems risky, choose to open.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." - Rumi

"I trust, because what else can I do but trust? What else can we do but trust? This is bigger than all of us, so we may as well just lay down and trust." - The Legendary Pink Dots


If you're in the St. Paul area on March 1-3, I'd love to invite you to come to the Authentic Intimacy Weekend. This is an amazing opportunity to learn and practice relationship skills (including those communication practices!) that will bring you more love every year.  It's also a chance to have fun with human connection in a safe, nurturing container of people who believe in the possibility and practice of greater love.  More information and registration available online: AwakeningAuthenticIntimacy.com/weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Qualities of the Authentic Lover

Last Fall, Ed Fell and I introduced "The Authentic Lover: Intimacy, Sexuality, and Relationship Mastery skills for Men", and we led our first weekend workshop in January. This is really rich work, and we know we've just begun to tap the expansion and depth that's possible in men's work around these issues.

As part of this work, I had to examine a core question - "What is the Authentic Lover?"  We looked at this in the workshop as well.  Here is some of what we've found as the answer - with more to come as this archetype develops over time!


  • The Authentic Lover knows and respects his own needs, boundaries, and desires.
  • Whatever the challenges of the world and his relationship, he does not abandon himself!
  • He seeks to understand the needs, boundaries, and desires of his partner, and respects those as well.


  • The Authentic Lover honors his own body.
  • He values and welcomes pleasure as a part of his divine birthright, and as an integral part of the practice of intimacy.
  • He initiates intimate connection with his partner.


  • The Authentic Lover is honest with his parter about his own experience.
  • He is accountable for his mistakes, and also willing to forgive himself for them.
  • He notices his moods when they arise, and takes responsibility for resolving them.
  • He commits to maintaining honesty, integrity, and transparency unconditionally - no matter what mood he is in.


  • The Authentic Lover is willing to surrender his pride - anytime and anywhere that it serves his truth and his intimate connections.
  • He understands that life is play, and is ready to not be so serious.
  • He asks for help when he needs it - from his partner, from friends, from the Divine, or from professional resources.

I'd love to hear feedback from men or women on how these qualities sit with you, and what else you think is essential.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Blank Slate 2013

Personally, I don't know anyone who thought the world was going to end in December 2012, when the Mayan calendar did. I'm not sure if anyone really believed this, or if it was just a fun idea to repeat in the media.

I did know a lot of people who thought the world was going to transform in some fundamental way. And perhaps on some level it did - if through no other mechanism than the focus of millions of people on preparing for and being ready to participate in that shift.

Sunrise image by Wing-Chi Poon
But we can also look out the window today, and see that the world goes on. The sun rises; weather happens; we have work to do, families to love, friends to see. We may have personal struggles and dramas that are still with us. Politics and economics are still happening; I hear we went over the fiscal cliff, but that there's a plan in place to more or less fix things in a couple days.

And yet, there's something different. Now that we're through the New Year, we no longer have "the end of 2012" to look forward to, either in fear or in hope. What do we have now? A blank slate. We had a thousand voices telling us what 2012 was going to mean, and what our various crises and arising spiritual movements had to do with it, but who said anything about 2013? There's information, but there isn't an expectation in the collective consciousness that it's going to be this or that.

Great! We get to make it up as we go!

And now that there's nothing we're waiting for, we can return to what we know. We know we have problems, and we know we're creative enough to find the solutions. We always have. We know that we make more progress if we roll up our sleeves and get to work than if we lose ourselves in distraction. We know that ultimately, whether or not we're being helped by angels or Jesus or lightworkers from the Pleiades, the work of making this world right, of making this garden grow, is up to us.

Let's lose the millennial distractions, and recommit to the long, slow, uncertain process of cultivating our own lives, our relationships, and our communities. Let's keep our vision with the long-term goals, and our hands focused on the practical work in front of us. Let's have faith that our day to day commitment will bring us to where we want to go, even if we have difficulty imagining the whole road that will take us there.

It's up to us. Let's create a 2013 that we can be proud of - not for the grand accomplishments, but for the structure and dedication that paves the way for true advance.

Happy New Year.