I was 23 years old when I met the man who would become my husband.
But I wasn't looking for a husband. I didn't think I wanted kids. And I had a whole lot of traveling I wanted to do. I was working as a revenue analyst for my dad's logistics company, but taking Wednesdays off to build my own dream business. I was getting into triathlons and trying to turn my 4-pack abs into a six-pack.
Soon after I first learned of coaching in late 1996, I met Fran Fisher, a successful local coach and leader in the nascent industry. I interned in her coaching practice for free in exchange for attendance at her workshops… and a ton of learning about a successful business as a coach.
One Friday night, I found myself sitting still, eyes closed, as Fran guided us through a visualization to kick off a weekend workshop called Living Your Vision. She took us into a meeting with our highest self or inner mentor and told us we would receive a gift from that guide.
My gift was confusing and almost revolting at first:
It was a porcelain figurine of a young woman with an enormous hoop skirt. I've never been the knick-knack type and this particular object was so feminine and frilly I felt sure it was a mistake. Bear in mind: I was 23 years old, having just earned a very left-brain degree with honors, working in a very macho industry. I’d grown up in Alaska, skiing with the boys, dispatching dump trucks one summer, hoisting crates full of milk another… I wore my own masculinity like a badge of honor. I took pride in being pretty and sexy, too, but no way in hell was anybody going to jam me into a corset or restrict my breathing or my options in any other way!
These were the days when an AOL chat room was a great place to meet someone for fun, and I’d had several long-distance relationships and in-person rendezvous with fascinating men from different places. I was sowing my oats, y’know? I was DEFINITELY not batting my eyelashes, straightening my petticoats, and dreaming of babies. So why the hell did my so-called higher self hand me this old-fashioned figurine?
As I looked at the object more closely, it began to reveal its message. The figure started to turn in my hands. Her hoop skirt opened up and I could see inside it little compartments, like a series of rooms opening onto one another. Each room seemed to be a domain of my life: My career. My fitness (I was 23. Fitness was all there was, to being in a body!). My finances. Love. Friendship. Contribution. Legacy. They were all contained by, organized by, and held together inside what I came to understand to be my feminine power... and my motherhood.
That visualization, that evening, became a turning point in my life. It popped me out of a fairly superficial (but wildly fun!) period of earning and spending, trying to turn my 4-pack abs into a 6-pack, and having relationships that were all the fun and all the substance of cotton candy.
As Fran took us through other exercises that weekend, I came to see that the yearnings I hadn’t been allowing myself to feel extended beyond the excitement and glamour of travel and bars and restaurants and muscles and money… I wanted to go deeper. More than wanted to, I felt - as if drawn forward by my belly button - pulled toward motherhood. It was like I’d been handed an assignment from a power whose authority I did not question even slightly, whose command became my heartfelt wish. I was in no rush to conceive any babies, but rather than a future that focused solely on my career, my travels, and my hobbies… I was drumming and belly dancing and practicing Tai Chi and learning to cook Indian food… I saw a life where I was building something that wasn’t just for me.
And rather than “guys” (for that’s how my friends and I talked about the men in our lives - in the plural and in that somewhat pejorative term that expressed, accurately, how these people we were sleeping with were suspended somewhere between boyhood and manhood, just as we were no longer girls, but not quite mature women just yet), I began to glimpse in my future a partner. I’d loved the attention, the excitement, the game of dating and adventuring. But, though I hadn’t admitted it before I got that wacky porcelain doo-dad, I was getting bored. I wanted to really know and be known. I wanted someone who could walk down life’s road with me, who could understand what it meant that my dad had died four years earlier, that my grandparents still meant the world to me, that Alaska would always be my home even though I didn’t want to live there any more. I wanted the man in my bed to be a friend. And I wanted someone whose life would be as much about those children I saw in my future as mine would be.
The very next weekend after that workshop, Kurt - a “guy” I’d met a few months earlier in a class at the Unity church I was going to - asked me out. It took us three years to get married and it was another seven before our baby boy came along, but Kurt and I have built that life I imagined. We did do the travel I wanted. We designed and built our home. We've supported one another through accomplishments, losses, and huge growth.
My role as the hearth of our home, the self I have become by being wife, mama, chief grocery-getter and vacation visionary, boo-boo kisser and maven of morals: this is the armature of the dreams I dream -- and live -- today.
Our baby is nine and a half now. The first decade of motherhood has been glorious and also: a mess. The confidence, freedom, and vitality I knew as a single girl… And that bloomed in my 30s as we made a beautiful home and my career took off… Well, they took a beating as sleep was interrupted and I searched for the right boundaries and the most sustainable ways to nurture both my babies and myself. I sometimes tell friends “your self-doubt and exhaustion inside parenting are the hallmarks that you’re doing it well, not signs you’re doing it wrong.” But that’s not the whole story, either. It can’t be that we’re meant to be wrung out, that there’s no quarter for our own desires and freedom, can it? So we still fumble together toward ease and joy inside these days of caring so much and being certain of so little.
And all this is to say: the sex life that girl wanted… Well, HAD… The ski lifts and elevators, the tropical forests and library corners where she stole thrills… I grieve it sometimes. The spontaneity and the heat were enlivening in a way that might’ve informed mothering quite beautifully. And sometimes, when we’re on a different continent from our children, we still find our way to those places… But we’ve shared these bodies for two decades now, lived in them for four and five, respectively… It’s different, now, than it was then.
The porcelain doll my mentor handed me? I don’t think it had - like Christian Gray’s luxury Seattle condo - a sex room. I think my 23 year old self assumed her pulsing libido and her “guys’” fascination with her were givens, steady as bones, that would carry her through the decades. I don’t think she’d have dreamed that sex might need to be scheduled, that we might both turn toward each other with a “meh… okaaaay…” and call that an erotic victory, that sleep or fiction or praying for our country would ever be more interesting to me than sex. She didn’t have the vision or the experience to understand those things.
I’m so grateful my higher self did. She built rooms for all the parts of me. And rather than building them inside the spandex capris of my athlete-self, she built them inside the bountiful skirts of the woman I’ve become. There’s room in here for all of it. The erotic intermingles with the domestic. My work weaves into my friendships, my marriage, and my home. I am blessed. I am not always horny. I am a warrior for love and for keeping the erotic flame alive -- or reigniting it, again and again and again -- and I am perpetually surprised by the ways wisdom is revealed to me.
Getting to Sex is my newest course. It’ll be available soon, for you to take in your own sweet time. It contains my very best tools for weaving emotional and erotic intimacy into your days and nights. I’m so proud to share it with you.
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