A Love Story

Wednesday was like any other day, until it wasn’t. After my client call I got up to get a glass of water. He always followed me to the kitchen, but today he couldn’t get up. His back legs just wouldn’t work. I watched as he spun and fell on his face. I went to him and gently raised his back end. His front legs crumbled beneath him. I helped him outside where he vomited fiercely, releasing everything from within. I called Mark who came home right away. Making the decision was easy. We have always agreed that we would never let him suffer. I called our vet who was fully booked, but agreed to stay late for us at the end of the day. So we spent a few hours lazing in the shade with him, creating a love sandwich with our bodies.

It was during this time Mark realized the date, October 17th. It was 10 years ago today that Guapo arrived in Santa Monica from Mexico. Mark and I have never been a couple without him, which is why we think of ourselves as a threesome. For the last 10 years he’s always been by one of our sides.

Guapo and I have covered many miles together over the years. When I was healthy we’d wander between 4 and 8 miles a day. We walked a slow two only yesterday. His pace was the rhythm my body had longed for, and through our walks he taught me to live in sync with my own true nature. I learned to open my heart after hurt, to give without doing, receive without guilt and love myself just the way I am. He taught me that there is no waiting – only being.

He’d started preparing us for this day exactly a year ago, when he took his last long hike. Guapo and Mark climbed to the top of Solstice Canyon the way they liked to do, and sat looking out at the ocean, the breeze blowing through his fur and lifting his ears. The next day he was stiff and moved like the 14 year old dog that he was. From then on we stayed on flat surfaces. Though most days he could still do his regular 4 miles, sometimes he let me know he wanted to turn back early. In recent months our walks had slowed to a crawl, a beautiful bridal procession of 6 legs and two hearts. It was a tender joy to pay close attention to his movements, giving him time to sniff and pee without tugging on his aging body. Even then he was teaching me not to mourn what had been, but to love what is. I was humbled and honoured to be by his side.

Anticipating and serving his increased need for care fit seamlessly into the fabric of my life. It was a privilege to massage his muscles and joints, rubbing in essential oils every night. Each week we would drive him up the coast, through the winding roads of Topanga and into the valley where he’d drop into a warm salt water pool and be transformed into the determined working dog of his youth. It filled us with joy to see him this way. It would add spring to his step for days.

When it was just the two of us, I’d ask Guapo to let me know when he was done with it all, and promised I would do right by him. It was clear today he was ready to go. He rested his head on my lap in the car, a ride I wished would be over soon, and never end. Our final act of loving devotion was a lethal injection that killed him in seconds. It shocked me when his head dropped violently and he lay breathless in my arms. We kissed his beautiful face and stroked his silky fur, the two of us a sobbing mess of devastation, cracked open by love like a Rumi poem. It was so hard to let go, knowing I’d never see him or hold him again. That’s one of the hardest lessons to learn in relationship – the beauty of letting go.

Mark and I walked into the ocean that evening, which was still as warm as summer. We thought it would wash away our tears, but they keep coming. As the warm water splashed around us and the sun set behind the mountains, we talked about how blessed we were to have known him, and learned from him. We figure he must have signed a 10 year contract, not a day longer, and it expired today. Ten years trying to teach the two of us is a long time. I hope we’ve been good students.

When we return to the house it feels too small to me, too big to Mark. We are grumpy Goldilocks without our bear to make everything right. As hard as today was, I know tomorrow will be harder. When I stretch my legs over the bed I won’t feel his strong body below me and run my feet through his silky fur, the black patches mysteriously softer than the rest. I will walk to the kitchen without my 60 lb shadow. When I open the fridge door in the middle of the day, I won’t gently slide his sleeping body out of the way, and quietly move him back in place without waking him. I will eat a banana without his big brown eyes daring me not to share it. When I open the front door I will look at his pillow on the porch where he will not be waiting. And somehow I will find the strength to walk, placing one foot in front of the other.

I wrote this on the night of Guapo’s death, two years ago today. It’s part of my love story.

Love Soars. Fear Cages.

During my early morning walks, my heart delights at the marbled godwit dancing its breakfast tango with the ocean. I revel at the soaring wingspan of silent pelicans cresting the waves. The seagulls squaking make me laugh out loud.  I love seeing these air borne creatures and the different ways they kiss the sky.  They carry my breath on their wings.

But today I thought of their caged companions. Captured birds have always made me sad ~ An animal built to glide through the skies, sentenced to a life in a small cell, often in solitary confinement, unable to live its true nature, to spread its wings and soar.

We don’t cage birds because we want to be cruel. We do it because we love them, and we want to be close to that which we love. We want to possess that which we love. But that desire to possess is not an expression of love. We want to possess it so we can control it. Love makes us feel vulnerable. Control makes us feel safe. Our actions are always motivated by either fear or love.  Our desire to control comes from fear.

I apply this thinking to my own life and wonder what aspect am I domesticating that wants to be wild.

  • Have I confused my love for what is with an unconscious fear of change?
  • Am I playing it safe, fearing how great it could really be?
  • What am I caging in my life, afraid to let it soar?

I love my husband and our relationship, so I often ask myself – is an unconscious  fear of risking what we have keeping us from being what we could be?

Consider this:

Is there a part of your life, or a part of yourself that you control, afraid to let it be wild and free?

Are you staying in a less than fabulous job or a relationship because it feels safe, afraid of what the unknown might hold?

When love would have you risk it all, are you playing it safe in your gilded cage?

Emotions are meant to move.

If you joined The 30 Day Love Explosion you may be thinking that it’s all rainbows and happy faces in my world. If so, you don’t know me. More acurately – you don’t know all of me.

Those who’ve worked with me privately, been on retreat, taken a class with me, or are part of my inner circle know that I’m an equal opportunity emoter. I think it’s a shame we deem some emotions as bad and others as good. From a young age we are coaxed, cajoled, and even coerced out of the bad emotions and into the good. A combination of bribery and threats is often applied. While this may be done by well-meaning guardians and friends who hate to see us sad or angry, we learn that it’s ok to have some emotions and not ok to have others. But since emotions come whether we want them or not, we’ve little else to do with the “unacceptable ones” but stuff them down.

We’re a culture that is uncomfortable with authentic feelings. We have a very narrow range of socially acceptable emotions. The rest are hidden away to make us all feel better. But I’ve got news for you: There is no such place as away. And hiding your emotions will not make you feel better.

As humans we’re meant to experience a wide range of emotions. Just watch a baby. It quickly moves through many emotions in a day. By allowing some and denying others you are not living as fully as you could be.

Emotions are meant to move through you and out of you. In fact the root of the word is from the French Emouvoir – to move.  The last thing you want to do with emotions is hold them in. Because that place you stuff them into is your own body. Rather than allowing the few seconds that it takes to move emotions, you carry them inside for years. And since emotions are by their very nature, wanting to move, they are constantly looking for ways to escape. It takes a lot of energy to hold them in. You may not be conscious of this energy, but it is using up your life force. Think of emotions like a rushing river. They want to flow. By stuffing them down you’re like a dam holding back a wall of water. That’s a lot of pressure.

Since you can’t hold them in forever, those emotions you think you’re hiding from the world are leaking out from time to time. They may also be building up with such pressure that you explode when you least expect it.

So, what are we to do with the emotions we habitually shun?

Allow them – all of them. I’m not advocating for violence, raging at other living beings, or spewing your emotions whenever you want. There is a kinder way to release big emotions without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s a simple thing to try:

If you have a big reaction to something – rage, sadness, surprise, joy – get yourself into a private setting as quickly as you can. In that space where you won’t be disturbed let yourself follow your natural impulses and go wild. (as quick as you can may be minutes or days later)

Let’s say you feel rage. Grab a tennis racket, baseball bat, rolling pin – and bash the living daylights out of some pillows on your bed. As the “weapon” smashes the pillows make a noise.  It can be helpful to yell something – NO, STOP, or a slew of expletives that you’d never say in public. All of this will ensure that you are breathing.

Hitting something like that may not be authentic for you in that moment. Notice your natural impulse. If someone made you angry you may find yourself for the quickest second feeling you’d like to punch them. Fantastic – go into a private place and punch pillows. Make sure you express to ensure you breathe. If you want to kick, do that, strangle someone – grab a towel and keep strangling it… until you notice another impulse bubble up. I love punching. I have boxing gloves so I won’t hurt my hands. And I’m a big fan of heavy bags for punching and kicking.

Big emotions don’t last long. About 90 seconds tops. When they are allowed to move they clear space and free up your energy. When you hold them in they zap your energy. They lead to moods that can linger, for hours, days or more: frustration, irritability, lethargy, anxiousness, worry….

I use this practice, and others like it myself, and I teach it to clients. What I offer varies with the clients’ needs. Often when a client is talking incessantly about an issue, obsessing about something they can’t change, or feeling stuck in their life, I’ll encourage this kind of movement of emotion. It’s often met with resistance, but my resolve for their freedom is usually stronger than their opposition, and they succumb reluctantly. Amazingly they always feel better after doing this. Something in them needed to move, and in honoring that need, they set themselves free.

While clients are cutting loose, their minds will often chime in with helpful thoughts like  “This is ridiculous. This isn’t helping. I look like a fool. That’s enough. I’m tired.” So I keep encouraging them to go a bit beyond the point when they want to stop. That’s often where the magic is ~ Just beyond the point when you want to give up. So if you do this on your own you may want to set a timer and make yourself keep going until that time is up. Start with two minutes and see how you do.

Sometimes we experience the opposite. Clients get started and discover so much pent up emotion they fear it will never end. No wonder – with a life time of feelings stuffed down, it can feel like a bottomless pit. Know that with regular release it will move through you and free up space for more life force.

Of course there will always be more emotions every day that want to move, so this becomes a regular practice.  And this isn’t just for anger or sadness. Use this to release your strangled joy as well.

I’d love to hear how you express your emotions and what it does for you.

Love Debra

If you care about someone who could benefit from this, please share it with them. We’ll all be more free when we express ourselves fully.



It’s never too late to Love.

Did you forget to drop a love bomb yesterday?

Have you forgotten for several days?

Hey, it happens. As Malcolm London says, “Even the richest man can never purchase yesterday”. You can’t get it back so let it go.

All you have is today – this very moment. And there will never be a better time to love. So drop a love bomb right now!

We often waste too much time regretting things we didn’t do. That regret about the past can keep you from creating a better future. That better future is not off in the distance. It begins right now, in this very moment, and continues as moments strung together … like patio lanterns.

So if you missed a few days of Love Bombing, let it go, begin again. It is never too late too love.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with the young poet, Malcolm London. I was impressed by his poise, elegance, intellect, humility, and mostly his big beautiful heart. I love his poems. This one’s for you.


Your Love Makes a Difference

It’s wonderful when you get to see and feel the difference your love is making in someone’s life. It’s great to see them bask in the glow of your love. It’s fun to know you’ve put a spring in someone’s step, helped them see the best in themselves and shine their own light a little brighter.

It’s awesome when this happens, but what about the times when you give your love to another, openly, consistently, joyful and …. nothing.   What then?

We don’t always get to see the difference our love makes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not making a difference.

Alice*  is a body-worker. She’s been in practice for many years. A few weeks ago she told me that when she was first starting out she worked in a clinic and took whoever they gave her. There was a older woman who came to her who was grumpy all the time, and no fun to work on. There seemed to be no pleasing this woman. Even though she didn’t seem happy with the treatments she kept returning. Since Alice was new she kept working on her, even though it was unpleasant.

Then one day, before the grump arrived, Alice realized something. What this woman really needed was love. So Alice decided to love her that day. She didn’t say anything different, and she worked on her body in the same way. But as she did it she loved her. She had no good or easy reason to love this woman – she was a bitch. Alice drew from the love that was inside her already, and it was there because it’s always there. Love is what we are. By tapping into that core Alice was able to love this woman without saying a word.  The session was done and the woman left.

While Alice prepped her room for another client the receptionist came in and said, “What did you do to her in here? She was an angel.”

Alice had the good fortune to hear second hand that her love had made a difference. We don’t all get that gift. So when you’re giving your love bombs and you don’t know if it’s working – TRUST.

Love is what you are, and by actively accessing that love you’re accessing the truth of who you are.

*Alice: The name isn’t real. But her love is!

Drop a Love Bomb and Feel Better

Want a good reason to Drop a Love Bomb today?

Do it for your brain! and not just your brain… do it for every cell in your body. Love will change you from the inside.

For days you’ve been paying attention to one person with the intention of remembering or discovering something you love about them. Feeling that love. Then expressing it to them. I told you this would benefit you. Maybe you’re noticing that. Maybe not yet. But here’s some of what’s going on. You are changing your brain.

Neural pathways are routes of communication in your body. As you learned throughout your life, certain pathways became well developed. These neural pathways became the roadmap of how you think and behave.

Imagine that for many years you’ve been walking a path from your house to your friend’s house. With all the wear and tear over time this path has become wide and flat and easy to walk. You’ve traveled back and forth for so long that you no longer think about it.  It’s automatic ~ A habit. A neural pathway is like that path.

By practicing the 30 Day Love Explosion you are forming a new habit, developing new neural pathways. It’s like taking a new path to your friend. It’s through a beautiful forest, full of lush plants, and gorgeous fragrant flowers. It’s a much more enjoyable path. But there’s resistance. You need to cut the path, you’re not totally sure of it yet. It’s not as fast as the old route. But over time as you keep walking this new path, your resistance will fade, the path will become clearer and easier to walk. Eventually it will become automatic and voila – you’ve got a new habit.

Your new habit is love, and love creates a chemical change in your body. By deliberately paying attention each day to what you love about the person you chose, you are developing neural pathways in your brain that are feeding your cells with dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin and more of the yummy love chemicals that make you feel so dang good!

So if you’ve been feeling good during the 30 Day Love Explosion now you know why.

Some of you may be wondering “If it feels so good, why am I not doing it daily? Why do I forget? How come I find excuses not to?”

Good questions. Just like cutting a new path through a beautiful forest is more work than walking along the old path you are use to, your cells are use to the old well-worn neuropathways. Even if those old pathways are feeding your cells stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, your cells have become use to them and will get their information from these well developed pathways out of “habit”.  It’s easier.  It’s the equivalent of walking to your friend’s house on the old familiar path before you even realize you’re on it.

It takes deliberate practice to stay on this new path. So, don’t beat yourself up if you forget some days. Don’t worry if you feel resistance to this new way. Stick with it. Practice it deliberately.

Know that you’re practicing a new habit that creates love pathways in your brain and  feeds your cells with feel-good chemicals. You really are doing this for yourself.

Here’s to you and your daily practice. Bombs Away!!!