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Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com
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Now displaying: March, 2016
Mar 28, 2016

Are you curious to know the most common issue that I hear about from clients, and from listeners who write in? It’s communication - or, rather problems with communication. Whether it’s being heard, or feeling like you have no idea where your partner is coming from, or you’re trying to communicate one thing but your partner hears something completely different, or you’re always being criticized - the list of potential communication problems goes on and on. Fortunately, today’s guest is going to help you take a monumental leap in the direction of communication that creates growth and connection in your relationship - and in how you communicate with others in general.

Today’s guest is Marty Babits, contributor to Psychology Today, and Co-Director of the Family and Couples Treatment Service, a division of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy in NYC. Marty is also the author of the extremely helpful book, “I’m Not a Mind-Reader - Using the Power of Three-Dimensional Communication for a Better Relationship”. Marty has been working with families and couples for over twenty-five years, and the wisdom in this book combines that experience with the work of many of the guests who have been here on the show, to create a manual for communication that will give you a completely new perspective on how to do it well.

Prepare to dive deep into a recipe for communication that is sure to shift the results that you get as you interact with the world - especially the ones you love.

The 3 dimensions of communication: These 3 dimensions are in every interaction between any two people who are connected:

The 1st dimension- This is the literal meaning of what we say, or rather the surface meaning. This is where we can ask: are the messages clear and coherent?

The 2nd dimension- This is the meaning that is under the surface, aka the emotional subtext. This dimension is often more complex and it includes the way we are thinking about the way we are. It is in this dimension that love comes through, or contempt.

The 3rd dimension- This is the deepest and most profound dimension of communication. It requires reflectiveness and mindfulness. This is where we can take the pulse of whether what we are communicating is moving us towards creating emotional safety with our partner or away from that. Implicit in this dimension is our ability to monitor how the whole direction of the relationship is going.

Try this: Pause in your next challenging interaction and take a mental snapshot in any given moment and compare it with what is happening 3 minutes later. This will give you a sense of the direction it is going and will help you practice being aware of what feelings, ideas, and tones are actually transpiring compared with those that you would like to be communicating or feeling.  This willingness to become more aware of how we are showing up in our interactions is helpful in any kind of communication!  

Beginners mind- Foster your willingness to try something new on and a willingness to begin again! Maintaining openness can offer whole new vistas we may be currently unaware of. And that not knowing is okay! Allow yourself to forge ahead into unknown territory knowing that this risk is what it means to be human, and to evolve.

Bring this openness and willingness to not know into your relationship. Can you be open to the possibility that attitudes can change and that people can grow? Openness and willingness to not know are the key for couples to get out of that locked patterning that can happen due to expectations and assumptions. When one partner begins to change, the other partner often continues to expect more of what they previously experienced, thus not able to see the newness in their partner's actions or attitudes-even when these changes are attempts at trying to create a better relationship. Resistance to change is common, and natural, as there is often a strong sense of inertia that carries you towards what has been, perhaps out of fear because change WILL inevitably disrupt patterns that may have been in place for a long time. To help move forward, consider that when you are busy focusing on your partner’s faults, you often miss all of the nice things that they are doing! In an effort to energize the positive, give yourself a direct encouragement to try to look for those new things. Actually open yourself to the possibility of new trends- this is the heart of what develops in successful couples work, and what ultimately transforms disappointments, disillusionments, and resentments…

The optimal prelude to conversation is invitation: Are you willing to be open to the possibility that you CAN have better interactions? As we learn over and over again, we can not force someone to feel, see, or hear our perspective- but we CAN invite them to do it. By inviting your partner to join you in conversation is to honor their sense of choice in how they enter the dialogue. This honoring leads to a sense that you respect their inner world, which then sets the stage for more openness and trust. Now the conversation can begin.

Being safe is a prerequirement for making breakthroughs in intimate communication- This goes for ALL interactions, interpersonal, romantic, sexual, etc. In order to understand each other, people have to be open to each other, and in order to do this there has to be safety. Attachment theory suggests that our survival, and therefore our sense of safety, is dependent on the extent to which we do, or don’t, feel connected to others. Conversely, when we feel threatened (whether this is perceived or real) our autonomic nervous system goes into its fight or flight response, at which point we are not available or open for connection OR communication. Therefore, it is important to cultivate an awareness of how safe our interactions are. Get into the habit of asking yourself “is the way I am communicating right now contributing to an overall sense of safety in this interaction or is it distracting from it?” We all have the capability to activate the part of our neurobiology that is very highly attuned to interpersonal issues! Meaning, we each know how to connect and build empathy in our interactions, we just need to first learn how to be relaxed within ourselves and have the safety in order to do so.

The power of the unconscious. We are each guilty the following: Your partner says something that makes you feel something, and you make an assumption that how you are feeling is connected to some truth about what your partner just said. This leap happens on an unconscious level. Invite yourself to consider the possibility that you may be misinterpreting! Sometimes we think we are reading our partner’s mind, but we have this unconscious tendency to misread their meaning depending on our own conditioning. This is important to remember as both the receiver/lister and the giver/talker. When you are speaking, bear in mind that your partner may be hearing you through their own lens- communication does not end when you have muttered what you want to say, rather it is a process that you must follow through on, noticing if what you said had the effect you intended.

Listen three dimensionally! We are more than our words. Words can be profound, yet we are sharing lives not words. Remember that what people mean is more important than what they say. Although, there is a strong relationship between the two! With compassion, we can move ourselves towards fuller expression. This requires a rethinking of what listening is. Expand your sense of listening to include a listening in on your own internal voice so that you can remain aware of what you are thinking , feeling, and believing and how you are putting this together with what you are hearing from the other person. Then work on extending your awareness to  include a consideration of what might be happening inside of the other person that may be producing the speech or the tone you are hearing now. This alive awareness of what is being said, how it is being said, and how it is being received helps move towards a communication that is open, flowing, and receptive enough so that the love that is needed can come through, and the sense of contact and connection is felt and genuine.

Receiving- to receive you have to give to yourself. For those of you who are more comfortable with being the caregiver than the receiver, allow yourself to see this as an invitation to learn more about yourself. Is there are sense of unworthiness? This is just one example of resistances we may have built in how we are in relationship, and while it may be tempting to accept this as just the way things are, often times rejecting this very notion is what will lead to growth and opening. Remember that ‘working’ on your relationship is really ‘learning’. If you can change your perspective and attitude on problems and redefine them as challenges, then you will be able to turn your problems into opportunities. Get curious and compassionate with yourself and reflect on questions like “How can I make things better?”, “How can i allow myself to feel more loved than i do?”, and “How can I work with receiving while maintaining my integrity?”

A synonym for complexity is richness! In effort to rethink “working” in and on your relationship, it may be helpful to welcome complexity as richness. Together you can begin looking to create possibilities and new roads where you thought there were dead ends. Ask, “What else is possible in this moment?” and “What if this isn't what i think it is?” These are the questions that make awareness three dimensional. You are aware of the problem AND you are aware of there being other possibilities. With 3D awareness it is as if you can walk around the problem- seeing it without totally being in it.

Troubleshooting mode- how to turn the ship around. Okay, so let’s say you're in a conversation and it is about to go south- what can you do? First, name it. Say something like “Hey, I think we are at that place we have been before, and I know what has happened in the past, do you think it is possible that we can try to do something different?”. Then, for example, you can say something like  “I’m having that feeling again that we are going further away from each other- let's take a brief break and resolve to come back again and approach this with a more positive attitude- because right now i am feeling a little hopeless and defensive”. These statements are founded on the belief that you CAN change the dance. To do so requires a plan, preemptively created, that can be used in tense moments. If you know that when one of you is triggered, voices often get raised then collaborate together when you are both regulated to set up a plan and a statement such as  “hey babe, you must really be activated right now because you are raising your voice, let's slow down”. Acknowledging each other’s autonomic responses without judgement, and having a plan that gives each other permission to calm back down helps to create emotional safety. This emotional safety is unavailable and often threatened when we are in up-regulated and triggered states.

Have an insult substitute ready! There are inevitably going to be times when you will not be able to get around your biological state of fight or flight (defense and anger), and this is NOT going to be a time when you are going to create new understandings that are going to become the foundation of a better relationship- no, this is going to be a moment to just get through. When all else fails, and we cannot regulate ourselves with the grace or swiftness our system or our partner needs, then it can be helpful to have a venting statement at the ready as a means of damage control! This allows you to have a way to express your anger or activation in a somewhat contained way. You can say, for instance,  “I'm not going to say what is on my mind right now because if i do it is going to create bad feelings, I just want you to know that I am that angry and I'm going to, for the sake of our relationship, chill out for a minute”. Figure out a statement that works for you and your partner, and don’t be ashamed to use it on occasion- when triggered enough our autonomic system reverts to old patterns and conditioning that can lead to much more damaging behaviors and statements than something like “woah, I’m super activated right now and can’t engage or I may say something hurtful that I would regret”. Remember also that YET, the word and the concept, hold all possibilities present. Try bringing it in when you feel stuck- “I’m not ready, yet”, “I’m not yet calm enough”, “I don’t want to, yet”...

Communicate don’t Debate”: You may be so accustomed to debate style conversations that you don’t realize any more how much energy is going into discussing who is right and who is wrong. Begin to notice how open you are to hearing each other. You do not have to agree, but you do have to agree to openly listen. The actual nuts and bolts decision making that is often fodder for debate will come easier as you develop your capacity to work things out without being deadlocked in not understanding each other.

Often criticism is a veiled attempt at repairing a disconnection. This is a hard one to conceptualize, and even harder when we are in midst of hurt. And yet, the idea that criticisms can actually be a way for our partner to say they need to connect with you is a core principle in attachment theory. Of course it is not a great way to do so, nor is it very effective, but it does speak to the concept that our main motivation in communicating is to connect. When we feel we cannot connect effectively than we become frustrated, and this can come out looking like hostility. It is not necessarily hostility against the target person, even though it sounds like it, it is more about what is underneath- a pleading for connection. How does the fear of abandonment and loneliness show up in your interactions? How can you find ways together to say “I am here”, even in those messy and hurt moments?

The predominant element in relationships is work, not magic. Mindreading, although so tempting and so habitual, is not advised. It is not the mindreading itself that is destructive, as much as it is the assuming that your (mis)reading is the truth. When we take our own readings as the way it is, we leave our partners feeling in the dark and misunderstood. How you analyze or hold onto what you think your partner is thinking and feeling often becomes a critical aspect of the tone of your relationship. It can lead to resentment, frustration, hurt, and alienation. Although you likely know your partner very well, do not confuse this with having the ability to mindread- your assumptions of what are going on with your partner are often times NOT TRUE (especially if you are assuming the worst). Conversely, holding onto the attitude that your partner should automatically and intuitively “already know” is equally destructive and misleading. The golden rule is that YOU have the responsibility to help your partner understand what you are feeling. Express and share yourself in a clear way so that your partner can better give you what you want. Through a mutual commitment of 1) not mindreading and 2) not holding onto the “well my partner should have known” ideal, you will become partners, not adversaries. This is not to say that partners who are close sometimes CAN understand each other on a beautifully profound level, or that there are times when genuine unconscious communication does happen, but it cannot be expected or taken for granted. In general, relationships DO take work, especially when it comes to communication.  

Resources

Read Marty’s book “I’m Not a Mind-Reader - Using the Power of Three-Dimensional Communication for a Better Relationship”

Learn more about Marty’s work at his website martybabits.com

Check out his blog on psychologytoday

www.neilsattin.com/communication Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Marty Babits and qualify for a signed copy of his book.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Mar 21, 2016

How do you hold a vision for your relationship without being trapped by perfectionism when it doesn’t quite measure up to the ideal? How do you manage time in your relationship so that you have time to nurture and build your connection? What are some practical ways that you can learn to value your and your partner’s uniqueness, and what you each bring to the table? And just why is commitment SO important in your relationship’s development?

As a healer, relationship coach, and the host of this show, It’s my goal to provide you with unique, actionable insight for how to do relationships amazingly well. And while most of the guests that you’ll hear on the show make perfect sense if you’re familiar with the relationship space, like Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt in episode 22 or Diana Richardson talking about her version of Tantra, which she calls “Slow Sex”, in episodes 2 and episode 10, there are some other less obvious sources of wisdom that I want you to know about.

One of these is an organization called “Strategic Coach” - led by Dan Sullivan - which supports entrepreneurs in innovative, often counter-intuitive ways to grow their businesses and lead lives balanced between work and well - LIFE. The more familiar that I’ve become with their advice for entrepreneurs over the years, the more I saw that you could apply their wisdom not only in the business world, but also in the realm of love and relationships. As it turns out, they do have a program called the “Couples Connection” for people in relationship - but it’s only available to people in the strategic coach program. And today’s guest, Shannon Waller, has not only been part of the Strategic Coach Organization since 1991, she has been instrumental helping them do exactly what we’re talking about - gearing their strategies towards the health and growth of relationships. She’s currently Strategic Coach’s Entrepreneurial Team Strategist, and she has also been part of every single Couple’s Connection workshop since they started running them. I’m so excited to have her here on the show to chat with us about some of these really practical, yet unconventional business strategies - and how you can apply them in your love life.

In this conversation, Shannon Waller and I discuss various new ways to approach yourself and your relationship:

Continually innovate- Whether you yourself own a business or not, there are some critical tips from successful entrepreneurship that translate well into relationships. For example, there is a need, in business, and in relationships, to continually innovate. Without change and cycles of innovation it is all too easy to get stuck in problems, complacent, or bored- and it isn’t long until minds and hearts start to wander. In order to have the relationships we really want, we must continually work to strengthen the container of the relationship so that it becomes a source of growth, energy, and vibrancy. Without this investment of energy, partners will lose heart connection and may begin to substitute other things, including work, so that they feel less empty.

The “GAP”:  The “Gap” is a key concept in helping us assess our sense of progress, and consequently our sense of competency. The “Gap” is that space between where we are now, and where our ideal is. We all hold ideals- ideals for our partner, our children, ourselves, the way the world should work, how our week should play out- and on and on. First, learn to distinguish helpful versus harmful ideals. A helpful ideal is one that is inspiring and makes you want to be a better person, it gives you energy and helps you set goals. A harmful ideal is one that is burdening, limiting, and leads to decreased energy, anxiety, and shame. All ideals however, can become burdening and limiting if we are not careful in how we relate to them. Think of ideals like the horizon- a mental construct to describe “where the earth meets the sky”, a definition that helps our brains come to grips with something that we can never actually experience or reach. Ideals are a similarly moving target. They are incredibly powerful and valuable in helping inspire and motivate us, and yet, we often misuse them. When we use our ideals to measure ourselves against, we run into problems. When we measure ourselves against this moving, amorphous, and inherently unattainable ideal, we can feel depressed, get frustrated, and often feel like a failure.

There is an alternative! Instead of facing forward towards the future, turn around and take a look back at where you started from. Think of yourself standing on the front of a large boat staring at the looming horizon and wondering how long it will take, and how far you have gone, and now, imagine yourself walking to the stern of the boat and viewing the shore receding further and further away… When we measure ourselves against where we have come from, we gain a sense of progress, and begin to experience satisfaction, optimism, and loads of other great feelings. Going into the “Gap” is inevitable, but we always have a choice on how we measure ourselves and how long we stay stuck in there.

STOP and CELEBRATE progress! We all have loads of ideals when it comes to our relationships- expectations for how our partner will act, what they will and won’t say, do, feel, how we will show up.... A lot of relationships get stuck in the Gap. It is important to refocus your attention together on progress that has been achieved.

TRY THIS: List out 5 achievements you have experienced together, and celebrate these realizations! This positive focus will change how you feel on an everyday basis in your relationship.

Find measurable goals in your relationship- Having ideals helps create a vision for what is possible in our relationships, and sets a direction to work towards. Remember however, to be careful in how you measure your relationship against these ideals. Along with looking backwards in order to move forwards, it is helpful to set measurable goals to track progress. We are all guilty of broad statements such as “I want our relationship to be better”, or something like “I want us to be having more sex”- but these are undefined and can quickly lead to guilt, shame, and/or disappointment. Instead, try to set mini and measurable goals- what can you do on date night? When can you set time aside for intimacy? How much time do you want to spend per week together without phones? Together discuss what is going to invigorate your relationship, and set measurable goals and intentions to follow through on.

To help you create these measurable goals, it is helpful to ask yourself and your partner: “How will we know that we are in a better relationship?” This question points towards places that can be measured and tracked, which will then lead to that feeling of ‘better’.  

Maybe it is time for a new time paradigm:  There is an entrepreneurial time system that can be applied to relationships, with great consequences. This system divides your time into 3 different types of days:

Free Days: Free days are 24 hours (midnight-midnight) when you turn off, and tune in. You don’t check email, your phone, or do any work related activities. You spend this day rejuvenating and dedicating time to your personal life- you friends, your family, yourself, getting more sleep, getting more grounded…. Make them sacred- whatever this means to you. If you truly plan, protect, and follow through on these free days you will begin to breath again, and it will add oxygen to your relationships! Slipping relationships get solid again as you recenter into yourself. It is important that when planning your calendar, you pick these days FIRST.

Buffer Days: This is the time to get your house in order, so to speak. Focus on all the details that are necessary to getting your life and work in order. Clean up your “messes”. The intention of buffer days is to do all that is necessary so that you can protect your free days and your focus days.

Focus Days: Focus days are another 24 hours (midnight-midnight) in which you spend 80% of your time being productive and focusing on your money making ventures. These are your performance days. Your show days. Attend fully and without interruption. Network, be creative, use your expertise to solve problems and progress.

Be creative in how this can be applied in YOUR relationship. How can you better manage your responsibilities and time so that you can enjoy dedicated and uninterrupted time with yourself and your loved one?

Unique Ability- How much time do you spend thinking about ways you can be or get better? It is true that we all have ways we can be, do, feel better, however our assumption in our minds is that if we can always get better, than this must mean we aren’t very good right now. This ends up undercutting our own unique abilities. Our unique abilities are those qualities, skills, and gifts that are uniquely us. It is a combination of what you love to do (what is your passion? What fuels you?) and those things that you have superior skill at (what are you really good at?). This combination gives us an unending sense of that “I’m on fire” energy.

Give yourself permission to not be perfect at everything and play to your strengths! We all have strengths and non-strengths, and the majority of our cultural conditioning has been based on finding what we are deficient at, and having a “fix what’s wrong” focus. We get this message that we need to work on our weaknesses, however if you work on your weaknesses for a very long time you get….very strong strong weaknesses! Invite yourself to start learning and discovering your strengths, and strengthening these! To do so, it is important to have some perspective, and humor around the expectation that you are supposed to be good at everything. Needless to say, it is not true, nor is it possible- we all have cards that we can play all the time, and other cards that we simply don’t have in our deck.

Think of your life and all your responsibilities, roles, and activities, and now try to begin recategorizing these into the following categories:

Competent activities- those activities in which you reach the minimum standard. You are okay at this.

Excellent activities- these are the activities in which you have superior skill. Other people give you a lot of feedback on this, but inside you are sometimes bored…

Unique ability activities- Then there are a small subset of activities in which you have fun, you have the most learning, and you have the most to contribute. This is hopefully connected to how you make money. It goes with you everywhere, and is core to what brings you fulfillment. These are natural to you, and ELF: easy, lucrative, and fun. Give yourself permission to use this unique ability!  Return on energy is profoundly better when we invest in our strengths!!

Exercise: You can do this alone, or in tandem with your partner. Take some time to get to know your strengths- either by complete a strengths finder assessment tool (see resource list) or by simply sitting down and making a list of what you are really good at. Assessment tools are helpful in that they identify what motivates you, and what your natural leanings are- without all the self-judgement that comes along with self-evaluating. Now make a full list of all that is required to maintain your life. If you are doing this with a partner- make your lists separately and then match them up. Once this is completed begin to look at what is required compared to what your strengths are. The gaps provide opportunities to become RESOURCEFUL. Prioritize what you enjoy doing, and set up the environment and the resources to do this. For those necessary activities and responsibilities that you are not as inclined towards, get creative- delegate, hire out, barter, etc. This requires that you give yourself permission to not do everything, to be okay with where you are at, and to have a sense of humor.

NOTE: The Kolbe profile can be a major catalyst in helping clear out some stuck patterning in your relationship. It helps put language to that amorphous “us” by revealing your uniqueness. Use it to help you and your partner find out how you each problem solve, where you work together, and potential areas of conflict. In effect it helps you see what is happening backstage- all those dynamics that end up influencing how we show up in our lives and in our loves.

4 C’s Growth Formula: Intimacy can be scary. Exposing yourself can be scary. Sharing can be scary. The 4 C’s growth formula helps conceptualize the process of becoming confident BY becoming vulnerable. Intentional growth begins when we make a COMMITMENT.  Once you are past the honeymoon stage, and ready to start creating a safe container where you can really experience the full potential for aliveness and growth-- you begin to shift towards learning to sustain an arc of growth and commitment. After you have made the commitment- that YES to someone, you enter into the COURAGE phase. This is when you have made a commitment to something that is bigger than you are, and often to something to which you are not totally prepared for. You throw yourself off a cliff and need to learn how to fly. The only way to get to that more comfortable sense of capability and confidence, you have to go through the courage phase. If someone is only half committed, the courage phase takes a really long time, and in truth you never really quite get there. But when you fully jump in and take the risk of committing, you learn, you innovate, you create, you build relationship muscles, and then you put into place the CAPABILITIES, and these lead to a whole new sense of CONFIDENCE.  

 COMMITMENT COURAGE CAPABILITY⇢  CONFIDENCE

       ⇡  ⇠   ⇠   ⇠  ⇠  ⇠   ⇠   ⇠   ⇠   ⇠   ⇠   ⇠  ↵

We all know this cycle- and we go through it often. The more often we go through it the more capabilities we build, and therefore the more confidence we have, which then leads us to being able to make bigger and bolder commitments! You can’t just rest in capability in confidence- this leads to stagnation and stuckness. Instead be willing to make greater commitments as this will give you the determination necessary to enter into the courage phase in which we begin to become the people and the partners we want to be!

Be self determining- The world can be challenging and powerful, and often there are many external pressures on our relationships that must be contended with. A strengths based approach is not blind to these, but rather requires a willingness and a strength to look directly at these difficulties. Find constructive language with your partner to share your fears, vulnerabilities, and worries in order to be conscious and intentional together about how you want to approach these challenges. This verbal acknowledgement and navigation does not have to be heavy handed- take the conversation with you on date night! Have fun, and find intimacy, in finding words together that will help you be more self-determining in how you lead your lives and your relationship.

Lastly, KNOW THYSELF- Use assessment tools, inventories, strengths finders, conversation, introspection, reflection, creativity, or any other means to help you find your unique abilities and that idiosyncratic YOU. Then, find ways to actually honor who you are so that you can become more fully you. The best relationships involve a dynamic in which what makes one partner come to life, then brings their partner to life. This leads to mutual excitement, passion, and ever evolving growth.

Resources

For more information about Shannon Waller’s work see strategiccoach.com

Unique Ability 2.0 on Amazon

For more on the 4 C’s breakthrough process, read here

Click here to go to the Kolbe website and take the Kolbe-A index to help find your natural abilities

Visit the Gallup Strengths Center where you can complete the Clifton Strengthsfinder

www.neilsattin.com/strategic Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Shannon Waller and qualify to win a copy of Unique Ability 2.0

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Mar 16, 2016

What is the secret to cultivating inspiration in your relationship? And, if you’re single, how do you find people to date who will truly inspire you to be more of who you are, more conscious, more connected? To that end - I want today’s episode to inspire you: we’re going to talk about a path to connecting with the parts of yourself that are truly your core gifts - and how to bring those into your relationship, into your dating life if you’re single, and how to connect your authenticity to the spark of passion.

Today’s guest is Ken Page, renown psychotherapist, Psychology Today blogger, and author of the book “Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy”. Ken’s book is one of the few books that I’ve read for the podcast that left me feeling truly moved - both by the hope that it instilled in me for single people looking for a new way to connect with others, as well as through giving me a completely new way to frame the dance of attraction within a relationship.

Core gifts- The concept of core gifts helps to lead us onto a very different path to finding a partner. This concept teaches us that the very places where we are most scared of love and those parts of ourselves we think we need to hide or suppress are again and again the powerhouse of our ability to love! This can be very surprising! Common culture around dating teaches us how to airbrush ourselves, how to play hard to get, and how to change ourselves in ways to make us seem more attractive. Thickness of skin is prized in the current dating world. In this very approach you are screwed from the start, because in trying to make yourself more attractive, you freeze your authenticity and spontaneity. You further feed all of your insecurities as you learn to hate those parts of yourself where you are most sensitive. Conclusion is that the fix-yourself-to-find-love stuff just doesn’t work!

The parts of ourselves that we feel most embarrassed about are our holy places. Our most sensitive parts, the ones we have been programmed to be ashamed of, are in actuality begging for liberation! Our search for love will fail if we don’t love those sensitive places in ourselves. To the degree to which we embrace those parts of ourselves, we attract partners who are more available, caring, accepting, and supportive of our whole selves. Our deepest insecurities are the markers of our greatest gifts and those gifts will lead us to the real love we are looking for!

Embrace your passions and your sensitivities

Attraction of Deprivation versus Attraction of Inspiration: You can’t force your attractions. You can’t make yourself attracted to someone, even if they are good for you,  if there is not the sexual attraction. What we can do is educate our attraction. In order to do so we need to understand the differences in our circuitry of attraction.

Attraction of Deprivation is that rapid falling for someone who is ultimately unavailable. That attraction to someone who is almost there, almost gets us, almost meets our needs. Often these are hot attractions and exciting, but the almost-ness goes on forever. They scratch and itch. They don’t completely feed a real need. It is important to understand and to recognize our own attractions of deprivation in order to choose partners more clearly and consciously.

Attraction of Inspiration occurs when you meet someone and you are physically attracted to them, AND you are emotionally and spiritually attracted to the way that they treat you, the quality of their consistency and integrity, and by their way of being in the world. When you find someone like that, attraction is going to build in a different way. It is more like being fed from the inside. The attraction grows richer, more celebratory, and more real as time goes on. That is happiness and that is where we want to look for love!

The more we support our sensitivity, the stronger we become in the world!

Don’t go pursuing the hottest thing around town! Instead, find people who amplify who you are and work on your own capacity to discern who is on that wavelength with you. This discernment is the way you can be vulnerable, generous, kind, and be more protected than if you were playing games. When we learn to honor our sensitivity we gain a kind of dignity and are ultimately less hurt by rejection because our ultimate commitment is to find someone who loves us for who we are. So when we find someone who doesn’t love us for who we are, it is okay because they weren’t the right one! When we operate from a “how do I play this game” place then we are operating from a fear based place and will likely suffer tremendously from rejection, when we make room for our vulnerability and ask for what we need and honor what we need in our relationships we become stronger and more resilient!

For everyone looking for relationship: If you can make a decision and commitment (and it ain’t no little thing) that from now on you are only going to cultivate your attractions of inspiration, then your dating life will change in profound ways.  You will narrow your field but you will also deepen your field. The degree to which you honor your core gifts and only look for people that treasure what they see when you are really you, a kind of magic happens. You will start meeting and attracting different people.

How to recognize your own gift zone:  Your core gifts are those places in which you are the most you. You can think of them as shards of god inside you- they are those parts of you where you feel deeply. Where life touches you the most deeply. The places where your intensity and passion are very powerful for certain things. Where you desire love. Desire truth. You can ask yourself: Where has my passion run really deep in my being? Where has my sensitivity run really deep? Where have I wondered if I am too sensitive? Those are places where your antennae are exquisitely in tune for what you need and desire.

Exercise: Try the following for two days and watch what happens. First, get a journal. Make little notes answering these two specific questions:  

  1. What kind of interactions fill my heart?
  2. What kind of interactions hurt my heart?

Take notes about certain moments and honor each one of them. After 2 days if you look at all of those points it will be like a connect the dots- you will see the themes and those places where you can be most hurt and most inspired. These are your core gifts, and where your magic lies.

Notice the places where you are most hurt, as these are the places you are the most tender. The places where you are the most tender are the places where you are the most beautiful. And it is from these tender places where your love springs from! The hurt represents moments where there was a break in love and connection- and by recognizing where these occur you will build a stronger connection with yourself.

Be willing to really really really ask for what you want: In every relationship there is a good struggle- a place where your partner has a really hard time giving you what you need, and vice versa. Even in our most wonderful relationships we can get hurt because we are all separate beings, and imperfect. The hurt is often amplified because most of us are not willing to really really really ask for what we want. We have some belief that if we do then we are being too selfish, or we ask in a demanding way that isn’t really coming from our place of need. Sometimes we don’t even ask at all, and instead build resentment. But when we can learn to ask from a place of real authenticity, something very different happens.  This act of getting more and more vulnerable with your partner and really asking for what you need, is a very powerful thing. Ask for those things that you feel mortified to ask for! Even though it may be scary, you’ll find that it can be liberating, and Intimacy producing! Helpful to know here that research shows that when you are terrified you are most likely to feel loved. There is a high chance of REALLY GREAT PASSION on the other side of fear.

Honoring: If you practice honoring the fierceness around your passions, you will get wiser about how to express your passion in the world. And when you honor the tenderness of your sensitivity, you will become so much more beautiful at how you express it and share it and live it in the world. This act of honoring allows you to open up to a blossoming of a whole new set of possibilities!

How does Attraction of Inspiration lead to great sex? Have you ever had an experience of sex when you have felt love, connection and also intense turn on? Some combination of hot hot sex but also heart sex? If you have experienced that- you’ve found the sweet spot where turn-on is intense and love is intense. Not only do we need to respect each other by cuddling and caressing and going slowly, but we also need to be willing to get vulnerable with our sexual desires and willing to take responsibility for our turn-ons. Be it vanilla, kink, or some combination of- think of those things that really get you hard, wet, turned on, what are those things that are really juicy to me? Then swing out- meaning take a risk and go towards your partner, by asking for those things in your relationship. When you are brave enough to share what ways of touching/moving/playing/being not only fill your heart, but also turn you on, you are building intimacy and hotness.  When you can trust each other with these perhaps embarrassing wants, and gift each other non judgemental listening and go-with-it-ness, you’ll be more likely to have that crazy sex you’ve been wanting. Ken Page says it will be “like Christmas in bed!!”

Resources

See deeperdating.com for links to interviews, learn more, access online courses, and to sign up to receive Ken Page’s free ebook!

Read Ken’s book Deeper Dating

www.neilsattin.com/dating Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Ken Page - and to qualify to win a free copy of Deeper Dating!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Mar 8, 2016

On our show, we’ve talked a lot about getting “triggered” - but what does it even mean to get triggered? Why do we hold trauma in our bodies? And how do we move through it so that we can live more freely, be more fully alive - and present for what life is bringing us in the moment? And if you’re in a relationship, how can you and your partner help each other heal - either the traumas of the past, or the inevitable traumas that we cause each other?

Today’s guest is Dr. Peter Levine, one of the world’s foremost experts on Trauma, and author of many books on the topic, including “Waking the Tiger”, “Trauma & Memory”, and “Healing Trauma” - a book that guides you through a process for Healing Trauma and your triggers. He is also the creator of Somatic Experiencing, one of the most effective ways of dealing with the effects of trauma, and releasing trauma from the body with thousands of trained practitioners all over the world. In today’s episode, you’re going to not only learn how your body holds trauma and triggers, but also get some guidance into how you can, in the moment, come back into balance and actually allow yourself to fully move through whatever is stored in your body. We talk about how we can help each other in relationship - and we also chat a bit about how to apply Peter’s work with children.

In this conversation Dr. Peter Levine and I discuss the following:

The past lives in us. Our past lives in us in ways that we are often unaware of. Times when we may have been left alone, yelled at, hurt, neglected, abused, misunderstood, exposed to difficulty, or otherwise traumatized, all leave imprints on our bodies that can last through many years and decades. The question is not whether these memories exist in us, but how they live in us.

Implicit and Explicit Memory:

Explicit memories- These are the ones that we normally think about as things to remember. These are the thoughts and memories we are fully conscious of. Lists at the grocery store, directions, etc. Rarely has emotional content.

Episodic memories- these are also explicit memories, however they have a deeper quality. This is when, for example, you are sitting at the ocean and all of a sudden you have images from your childhood. Representative of parts of our lives

Implicit memories- These are even deeper. Emotional memory is when all of a sudden you find yourself angry, or frightened, and wonder what just happened. You may be feeling threatened and defensive. A fight might occur from this.

Procedural or Body memories-  Even deeper than emotional memories are procedural or body memories. When we felt terrified our bodies experienced terror physically (shoulders go to our ears, we get a knot in our belly. heart going fast..) These are all autonomic and automatic response we have. Even if we understand why we are being triggered and the emotions that occur as a result, our procedural memories prime the pump and cause us to react in often inappropriate ways.  

Triggers are echoes of memories stored in our bodies: If in a couple, both people have been traumatized in their life, it can happen that their fear and their anger will escalate, ricocheting off of each other. What is happening here is that our brains are wired to perceive threat and all the intense emotions ensuing as caused by something real. Our partner may do something, or not do something, or give a look, or say something, and all of a sudden our body reacts by developing a knot in the stomach, a tightening in the shoulders, faster heart beat… Our brains look to find causation for this symptomatic response, and often will attach blame to anyone near by! In this way we enter into situations where we begin believing “this must all be about you”, when in reality it is most often the result of an echoing of earlier memories stored in our own body. A relationship and interaction will go nowhere when both people are stuck in this velocity trap of blaming and shaming.

Somatic Experiencing helps people learn to experience their emotions and sensations in their body and notice all that goes on without having to react. It helps people go from being closed and defensive to open and curious- which is the key to trauma recovery!

Our relationships are constant sources for healing. Living, loving and being in constant interaction with our significant others provides endless opportunities for our triggers to be revealed! While this can be seen as very painful, burdensome, and unsexy, it is important to realize that every trigger offers an opportunity to heal! Our intimate relationships are ideal places to have our traumas arise, because we can face our memories and reactions with a trusted other who can share it with us, hold us, and be with us as we come into greater aliveness and joy! We cannot live our life with vitality and clarity when we are stuck in our habitual trauma responses.

Bringing your relationship into the here and now: The most important lesson for growth in relationships is learning how to individuate, together. To see the other as other, and not as a perception of our own fears and flaws. To do so it is critical to get to know ourselves- spiritually, sexually, psychologically, somatically...This is especially true when there is a history of trauma present in a relationship. Just as trauma causes the body to remain stuck in the past, trauma can keep a relationship from being in the present. To bring your relationship into a more current state, you need to learn to be in touch with your reactions and learn ways to move not around, but through them. Be direct- ask your partner “Can you just be here with me and give me a little support and time to figure out what I am feeling and sensing, and how it is connected to a memory?” Each time we can do this we can further and further uncouple from those trauma laden memories so that we can bring ourselves AND our relationships back into the here and now.

How to move through triggering moments:

Trauma is never graceful, and often it leaves parts of us, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, stuck. With support and guidance we can move through the stuckness. Consider animals in the wild. Although their lives are threatened on a routine basis, they are rarely traumatized (if so they would lose their resilience and go extinct). What is it in animals that gives them resilience? All mammals, including us, have identical instinctual fight and flight autonomic nervous systems to us, but other animals have the added benefit of remembering how to use the body to work through the traumatic experience. Animals shake. Literally. They shake their bodies which allows the body to process all of the hormones and neurochemicals involved in the fight/flight response. You have likely experienced this too- shaking and trembling in your body, cold hands, spontaneous deep breaths immediately after a scary event. It is important that we help support each other in allowing our bodies to work through our experiences similar to how other animals do. Somatic Experiencing developed as a methodology that imparts basic life skills to move through events that are potentially traumatized in order to gain a greater resilience and joy in life. These are skills everyone in the world could use! It would make for a better, safer, and more compassionate world.

Fight or Flight, then Freeze. Our autonomic nervous systems are wired for a fight or flight response to threat (real or perceived). If we are unable to follow through on either of these instincts, if these actions do not suffice, or if our system becomes too overwhelmed, the body will go into a state of apathy and collapse. It freezes. This shutdown stage is meant to be temporary, but sometimes we get stuck there due to fears that reinforce the paralysis. When someone we can trust is near us, it is possible to have less fear to truly sense the immobility, make contact with it, and move through it. Being in presence with the sensations will lead to deactivation and we can learn to see what memories are keeping us stuck, and from there learn to renegotiate our reactions, and our reactions to our reactions!

A good experiment to try: When we have been traumatized, especially in the case of sexual trauma, we try to isolate from our body (also known as dissociation, or soul fragmenting). It is as if the body has betrayed us and we begin to perceive it as the enemy. You can start by befriending and reconnecting with your own body. Pay gentle and nonjudgmental attention to your own reactions. With time it becomes softer and easier for you to reflect on your feelings, and your physical responses. You can do this with your partner. Agree not to have intercourse, but just to explore together. As soon as a trigger comes up, take the time together to integrate and be with the sensations in a patient and compassionate way. Know that our minds are clever but our bodies are wise! Our bodies know what to do, they are instinctive. Imagine what your body might have wanted to do at the time when it was violated-- push away, fight, run? Find safe ways to allow the body to express the desires and needs that it had but could not follow through with in the past. This brings power and energy back to the body, and helps hold compassion for the child, or younger version of yourself that could not defend or protect itself at the time. As we sort through the links between memories and reactions, we begin to mend again and return to a deep and full sexual, spiritual, psychological, and physical connection with partner.

Learning to recognize when you are triggered and work with the procedural body memories will help you find more freedom and more wholeness!

Tip to try with your child, and/or your partner: When your child is very angry, help give them a way to safely and effectively direct their anger. Most children find it difficult to deal with their own intense emotions because their parents have difficulty with them. As a parent, and as a partner to your significant other, you can help another feel their strength by directing their feelings into healthy aggression. Try this: put out your hand, make eye contact while you are doing this, and invite them to push your hand hard. Putting a lid on our anger puts a lid on all other feelings simultaneously. Allowing the body to safely express its sensations will help to release stuckness and lets us feel more alive!

VOOO: A wonderful thing to practice. This is a simple practice that helps you get present and out of a trauma response state. Take a full and easy inhale, and as you exhale make the sound “voooooooo”. Let the sound come from your belly and go until breath comes to an end. The next inhale happens automatically and naturally. Do several rounds to help calm your autonomic nervous system.

Resources

Learn more about Somatic Experiencing and find a practitioner in your area here.  

Read some of Peter Levine’s books:

Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past: A Practical Guide for Understanding and Working with Traumatic Memory

Healing Trauma on Amazon

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents' Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience

www.neilsattin.com/trauma Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Peter Levine - and to qualify to win a free copy of one of his books!

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Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Mar 1, 2016

Having healthy polarity is an important component of maintaining a spark with your partner. Have you wondered, though, about what that really means? Does that mean that one of us has to be “masculine”, and the other has to be “feminine” in order for this whole thing to work? How do you turn polarity into something that doesn’t become just a descent into stereotypes, but into a dynamic energy that lives and breathes in your relationship? And how do you take it to the next level, tuning into higher states of energy with your partner? 

Today’s guest is Michaela Boehm, an experienced counselor and tantric lineage holder who specializes in teaching skills that enhance deep intimacy and lasting attraction, and who co-taught for a number of years with David Deida to make the concepts that he teaches in books like “Way of the Superior Man” and “The Enlightened Sex Manual” practical. And in today’s episode, we’re going to do just that. We’ll update your idea of what “polarity” even means - and give you some practical tools to open yourself up to what’s possible in terms of your energetic connection with your partner. Michaela is also going to point out some of the places where people stumble or get stuck - so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes on your journey.

In this episode, Michaela Boehm and I cover the following:

Within each human being there are two forces: The terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are placeholder terms that describe two different types of energies that are found in each one of us. Over the years these terms have been misconstrued by popular culture- losing their original purpose and meaning. People have conflated ‘masculine’ with man, and ‘feminine’ with woman, causing further polarization, stereotyping, and kindling more gender wars. Misunderstanding these terms boxes and pigeon holes people, and can even become another form of oppression. In an effort to move away from these constructs, it is helpful to take a look at the two underlying principles that represent the masculine and feminine energies: the organizing principle, and the pleasure principle.

The organizing principle:  Everyone has an organizing principle, which is the masculine energy, that gives clarity and helps make things happen. It has a long term view and works on a time/space grid to essentially create forward movement. It has a tendency towards emptying out. It is filled with consciousness and has a depth of penetration and clarity that gets things done!

The pleasure principle: The pleasure principle is the feminine energy in us- the wild chaotic swirl of nature as it is expressed in each person’s body, environment and life. This is the enjoyment of multitude. Of flavors and textures and fullness.

You need both within yourself. The organizing principle without the chaotic swirl life force is just static and stuck. The chaotic and creative flow of nature without direction is a disaster. The strength of one principle is enhanced by the other, and disastrous on its own. Imagine being all in the masculine.. you might be so rigid you no longer know about how to flow with life, now imagine you are all in the feminine... your life might become so chaotic that you cannot seem to move forward. Therefore, it is important to find both inside of yourself.

Finding your ‘home’ energy: While we each have aspects of the masculine and feminine inside of us, we each have a ‘home’ energy or a ‘home’ preference which is the place where we feel most naturally relaxed and fulfilled. When you are left to your own devices, you will naturally lean towards one principle or the other. Here are some good questions to ask yourself when reflecting on what principle is most native to you:

Do you enjoy engaging in the fullness of life (children, dinners, animals, friends, clothing, social events, house decorating, doing things, etc? Are you your happiest and is your body the most relaxed when you are fully engaged in activities? Do you thrive on the engagement and exchange of love? Do you talk a lot? Yes to these questions points towards how the pleasure principle- the pleasure of being alive in one’s body- is showing up in your life.

On the other hand, do you like clear structure, making things happen, and enjoy adhering to a schedule and a plan? And if you had a month to plan however and whatever you wanted how would you use the time? Would you hope to meditate? To sit in a desert and contemplate vastness? Would you want your mind and body to experience silence and clarity? Do you recuperate through being still? These tendencies speak to the masculine and organizing principle in each of us.

NOTE: Both men and women are experiencing increased levels of the organizing principle as our society is much more geared and rewarding of the masculine.

Finding a mix of these two dynamic qualities allows you to be more effective, expressive and fulfilled in life, plus it is has a huge impact on your sexual life!

Polarity increases sexual play/Friction is sexy- In our sexual lives, the erotic friction- meaning the tension between the two poles- is what makes for chemistry and that spark we all want in our relationships, regardless if we are gay, straight, or bi. You can learn to go back and forth between the energies, helping to balance and add healthy tension to your sex life (the hunt and being hunted, the penetrator and the surrenderer, etc). Learning to animate and distinguish these two aspects of yourself will make these energies available for you to better play with another human being! In most relationships you learn to polarize sexually- fluidly moving from one who is doing to one who is being. By developing facility in all areas of the spectrum you have more options in ways to creatively balance each other! Beauty comes when you can identify a ‘home’ place in which you are naturally joyous while having fluidity and faculty to call upon and bring forth the strengths of each allowing for fuller range of expression, and therefore, more sexual possibility.

Increasing your capacity to experience energy throughout your entire body - it is not about trying to get something right! Your sexual life can be enhanced and transformed by learning to work with your energy. Before diving into how to achieve this, here are a few thoughts on potential pitfalls and considerations in regards to energy control and manipulation:

-There are many schools of thought, and thousands of techniques for achieving non-ejaculatory sex and getting away from orgasm addiction. Often this can come from rigid control of the breath. This may have bad consequences physiologically and psychologically. When people get too focused on their breath they tense their bodies and pelvic floor, which in most people are already plenty tense! It is actually rather counterproductive for many people to impose more structure and tension (in breath and pelvic floor). For those of us who do not have a lot of time to dedicate to mastering tantric techniques, it is more generative to focus on learning to relax and be in gentle attunement with one’s natural physical tendencies.

-According to Michaela and ancient Taoist traditions, there are times when ejaculation is what is needed! Strong rigid measures of control on a man’s natural process can have many other side effects that may negate the fact that he can now last longer. Take it with a grain of salt!

-Bypassing ejaculation can have great impact on achieving full body pleasure orgasms, however beware that the focus on controlling ejaculation doesn’t become another form of larger control that becomes a source of shame, or another way to brutalize oneself. Last thing most couples need is more places of disappointment! Not ejaculating is not that hard to achieve, but it does not necessarily mean you have satisfaction or pleasure in the body or are more emotionally free. Furthermore, “Don’t cum!” can become as much a fixation or obsession as anything else which would lead further away from intimacy.

- For many thousands of years putting control on a human’s sexual urges was one of the main ways of gaining control in society. “Don’t have sex, it is a sin” isn’t much different than “don’t ejaculate it is a spiritual sin”. Be careful with dogmas! These concepts can be very dicey in the wrong hands.

-It isn’t the ejaculate control that is important- it is the ability direct, expand, and circulate energy around your body and learning to lead your arousal peaks, rather than have them lead you. There are many ways to learn to direct energy for increased sexual pleasure.   

What is the optimal way that your body can be in a relaxed state so that you can combine yourself with another human, spiritually, sexually, emotionally, physically in the optimal way?

Delocalize pleasure: Delocalizing pleasure, meaning moving energy from one’s genitals and expanding it throughout the body, is a wonderful way to increase a sense of pleasure throughout the entire body. There are many ways to do this without having to practice circular breathing or other techniques for 30-50 minute a day! Try touching other parts of your body while you are sexually engaged. Relax the base of your body. Try to feel your extremities while you are in the middle of sexual intercourse. Loosen your shoulders and head to release tension. Loosen all tight areas. Create movement through touch and massage. Don’t make a big TO DO, just relax, breath, move, touch! When you are in the midst of sexual pleasure allow the energy to move through- actually relax, let yourself feel, and allow yourself to receive.

Try this one on: actual intimacy is about actually feeling what is happening.

You can delocalize pleasure not only in your body, but in your life!  We are all continually somewhere on the sexual continuum. And sexuality is a constantly flowing energy- it is a matter of one’s capacity to tune in. Sex doesn’t just have to happen in bed (or on the kitchen table!) but can be simply happening when you are making a meal together, walking, or being side by side. This realization, especially when shared with your partner, can create increased sense of pleasure throughout your relationship, and life.

A few practices to help you increase your openness and attunement with your own feminine and masculine energies: In order to get in touch with your pleasure principle try movement! Movement is one of the most beneficial things we humans can do for ourselves. Try shaking it out at least once a day! Pick a song and dance, shake, or move your body in a spontaneous way. Feel how your body wants to move, and let it! Do this while brushing your teeth! Between meetings! First thing in the morning. Exercise is wonderful too, however it is linear and forces habitual patterns. Surprise yourself.

As for getting in touch with the organizing principle, find 5 minutes a day to sit and do nothing at all, not even a meditation practice. Just sit and allow whatever comes up to come up, and be with it. These two simple daily practices offer the opportunity to experience both ends of the spectrum: the pleasuring fullness, and the organizing emptiness.

Feel the pleasure of being alive! And the fullness of being in this moment!

Resources

For more on retreats, somatic education, workshops, and wisdom from Michaela Boehm, please see her website: www.michaelaboehm.com

Enlightened Sex Manual is an alive and evocative book! If and when you read it please send your feedback about how it is impacting your life!

www.neilsattin.com/polarity Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Michaela Boehm - and to qualify to win a free dowload of one of her recordings!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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