Carnal Zen

~Finding the balance between earthly delight and spiritual enlightenment~


Carnal Zen is my forum to explore all the ideas, contradictions, religions and credit card bills that pepper my life.


August 23rd, 2012

On break from a meeting today, some folks were mingling and catching up.  My ears perked up, as they do, at the sound of my own name.  A good friend and colleague was chatting with my boss -reiterating a conversation a team of our lawyers had had about my project.  They decided my approach to it had been fearless…but then, upon hearing the word amended the conversation to say that was the word which describes me more generally.

Since I work in advocacy, fearless is most certainly a compliment.  I can’t take that one to the bank….but I’ll take it nonetheless.


August 22nd, 2012

Women are superheros.  We can build careers, clean homes, care for families and furballs.  Oh yeah and not only can we grow humans with our bodies but we can also bleed for days and not die.  These powers don’t come without some tradeoffs.  Yesterday, I said the following to a guy friend.

“I’m so hormonal I’m honestly crying right now for NO reason.  God being a girl blows…except when you get free drinks”

His response:  ”How can we [men] deal with it when you can’t , why should we deal with it when you [women]can’t!!! ???”

He was joking of course, but my answer was “you don’t have a choice..but then neither do we.”

Women get a period.  We hide it.  We bitch to our friends about bloating or breakouts.  We come up with cutesy names for it like “aunt flow” and have unreasonable cravings for dark chocolate.  One day, each month….which just so happened to be today, I also become invincible.  Catch up on 3 days of work in a few hours, race through a weeks worth of errands, cook a fabulous meal and still have energy to spare.  I don’t have a choice about my period, I do have choices about my body, my health and my equality which I will NEVER surrender.

The Republican party has set a 2012 platform of “no abortions no exceptions” which threatens women’s health, choice and further abuses victims of rape and incest.  Further they want to shut down Planned Parenthood’s ability to perform life saving cancer screenings and repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act which ensures that women will no longer have to pay 120% more than men for medical insurance because they own a uterus.

There are many issues I care about, but I am a woman first.  Period.

Obama 2012!

Money resentment

August 21st, 2012

My money resentment has company and a name.  It’s name is Mom and the company is my brother.

She had numerous timeshares.  He had to pay for his own braces.

She owns 9 houses. I put myself through college and grad school.  I have the mountain of college debt to prove it.

To this day she splits the bill, including tax and tip, to the penny when we dine out together.  She once charged me for half the tolls on a road trip.  Gift giving….is often retroactive, insincere and riddled with strings attached.  She’s forbidden from giving me any because they usually make me cry.  Hard.

I chose a career in non-profit…clinging to the notion that money is not the most important thing and that it does not define me.  My brother chased dollar signs and became a showy & successful entrepreneur.  A few weeks ago I pondered aloud whether both of these paths were in response to her.  As much as I am loathe to admit it - we both agreed that the answer was: probably.  Despite our best efforts her financial illness shaped us both.  Once upon a time she tried to trade custody of me for Dad’s cut in the family home.  I’m not kidding.

I know resentment holds me back.  I want to let it go ….but how do you forgive a person in your life who is neither remorseful or apologetic for choosing money over her children?

The truth that drives you…

April 22nd, 2012

No one’s here and I fall into myself. This truth drives me

Driving home from a long weekend of condo repairs and tenant wrangling, this lyric from an Evanescence song hit me in the gut. HARD.

The truth that drives me, if I’m honest, is that it all rests on my head. If I don’t do it - it will not get done right, on time, or at all. It doesn’t matter what it is. Unfortunately this flawed thinking has been reinforced at work for some time. This weekend was a perfect example. I was in the city where most of my best friends live, friends who love me and welcome me with open arms no matter what and would do anything for me.

I was overwhelmed with the surprise vacancy and all the work I had to do in 48 short hours while showing the condo. So instead of asking for help painting, putting in flooring, hanging blinds, or even the convenience of a bed and shower. I packed a sleeping bag and pillow. Slept in the vacant apartment on the floor for two nights and didn’t ask a soul for help.

My excuses were pretty fantastic “I’ll get started earlier if I wake up there”, “these guys did enough when they helped me move out 6 years ago - it wouldn’t be right to ask for more” or my favorite “it’s easier on the dog if we just stay at one place”. Wow.

So the first step is admitting you have a problem. Fine. I admit it. Lynn called me out on it when she came over to see me, and astonished at the workload I had given myself, picked up a paintbrush..

A few months ago - Mate asked if he could come over. At that moment I was brimming with tears overwhelmed and exhausted by work. I pushed it off, told him I wouldn’t be good company and I planned to get home and get straight to bed after my conference. He wasn’t having it and showed up anyway. That night he took care of me. I let him. We weren’t even dating at the time. It was HUGE for me. Dad called me out on it just a few weeks ago for “taking on” the responsibility of his troubled relationship with my sister.

I’ve got to stop saying “thanks, but…..” or “I can manage”. Worse yet I have to stop thinking it’s all on my shoulders. It’s too much to carry the load alone - especially the stuff that isn’t even mine. I’m not a control freak per se. I don’t really think it’s a martyr thing either. Kat calls it my stupidly independent streak. (She has one too).

I might actually credit Mom for this one. For better or worse she wanted me to be strong and independent. The do-not-ask-for-help rule makes sense in that context, but I KNOW IT IS NOT SERVING ME WELL. I knew it in Europe. Disconnecting for two weeks lessened the load. I get it, I hear it, and in this very poorly written post the point is I’m trying to find a way to stop it. A real way.

This post does not have a teachable moment. It has a request for ideas - for help - for advice on how to break this pattern. This is me, paying attention to the note on my dresser mirror that says it’s ok to ask for help, and actually ASKING.

Baby steps.

I’m still growing.

March 9th, 2012

It happened in a vinyasa flow hot yoga class - ironically while doing tree pose. I stretched, sweated and it came to me. I am still growing.

It does not yet appear what I shall be. I’m 33, happy and successful but yesterday does not define me. This is me saying I’m not done surprising you, them, or myself. There’s no script, no defined path and no measuring stick. I’m just going to become more me - whoever that is. I can’t achieve it with another degree, a dozen kids or being quoted in nine hundred more media articles. I don’t even no what “it” is. I just know that although I am already proud of who I am and what I have accomplished, the potential is there for me to be more.

I don’t know where I’m going but I am growing. That’s all I really need to know.