Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”
Dressed in rain gear, prepared for a downpour that never came, I gathered with 60,000 of my sisters (and the men who stand with us) to choose love. I started crying from the first moment I encountered the crowd. I was so touched—by the beauty, the passion, the fear, the anger, the love, the frustration, the intimacy, the humor, creativity, the raw, pure humanness of 60,000 of us gathered together in our messy, human glory.
Years ago, when I was practicing medicine in an unusual way and trying to find language to describe what I was doing, I struggled through words that didn’t quite fit my definition. Although words like “integrative medicine” and “holistic health” got close, the way those words are understood in our culture wasn’t the same thing I envisioned. To me, “integrative medicine” meant you play nice in the medical sandbox with acupuncturists and homeopaths. “Holistic health” meant you recommend green juice cleanses and prescribe a lot of supplements. “Functional medicine” means you order a lot of unusual laboratory tests not usually covered by insurance, and you treat often neglected biochemical imbalances naturally. While I very much appreciate the value of natural medicines, green juice cleanses, non-mainstream lab tests, and alternative healers, and while I fully endorse the benefit of all of these interventions, I was more journeying down another rabbit hole, where patients were having “spontaneous remissions” without drugs, supplements, raw vegan diets, or acupuncture needles.
Except for a few short term bursts of relationship, I’ve been mostly single for three years after twelve years of marriage ended in divorce, and jeez, things have changed in my dating process since last time I was single. My old list of “What I Want in a Partner” has mostly dissolved. Gone are the “wears boxers,” “likes green,” “great legs,” “enjoys hiking and skiing,” and “financially secure” items on my wish list. I’ve had to add some terms I hadn’t thought it necessary to add when I was younger, like “Not gay, married, living internationally with no chance of a visa, or expecting me to conceive another child.” Living in Marin County, I’m also realizing that I need to qualify that, while I don’t judge anyone who chooses such a lifestyle and I can certainly see the appeal of it, polyamory isn’t my cup ‘o’ tea. Been there. Tried that. It just doesn’t feel safe or stable to me, and it’s a lot of emotional work. Perhaps I’m just not enlightened enough, but my polyamory experiment left me concluding that my heart is just too tender and needs the gentle nest of what I’ll call “open monogamy” in order to open up all the way to the levels of intimacy I desire and am capable of giving.
Time, marriage, and maturity have definitely shifted my priorities. But the most radically paradigm-shifting change is this big fat realization.
I am only interested in a relationship with someone as committed to the spiritual path as I am.
There. I said it out loud, and you can hold me to it.
Just before Thanksgiving, I met with my photographer friend Monique Feil, who is responsible for taking pretty much any great photo you’ve ever seen of me on my blog, book covers, or hanging in my home. Hay House needed a photo of me for the cover of my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, so I knew Monique was my girl.
The visual feel of the photo we needed to shoot was made clear to me. I needed to appear approachable, friendly, trustworthy, attractive, yet professional, distinguished, intelligent. So I wore relatively conservative clothes, but tried to still look pretty and feminine. I made sure not to show any real cleavage, and although I had my hair and makeup professionally done, I was instructed not to appear too glamorous, because if I was too beautiful, it might detract from the content of my book, which contains serious science and a powerful message about self-healing I’m dying to spread far and wide.
The people on my marketing team tell me I’m “the brand” when it comes to my book and my business, but I must say, it’s weird to feel like a commodity that must be arranged just so during a photo shoot. Perhaps my resistance to being commoditized is what inspired me to do what I did just following my cover photo shoot - strip naked and let my freak flag fly during my first ever boudoir photo shoot. (After all, at 43, I figure things aren’t getting any perkier!)