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There is no doubt that a weekend getaway can provide excitement and adventure and intimacy for a relationship. I noticed, especially with children in the house, when my partner and I took a short trip together, we returned home feeling reconnected, reinvigorated, and happy. As the dude in the relationship, I have always felt it was my job to look down the road, anticipate when my relationship could use a little excitement and then plan a trip that my partner and I would deem unforgettable. Planning a trip is not enough. There are certain things you can do when on the road to add that oomph that transforms a mere weekend away to something very special and wonderful and memorable.
Recently I spent a weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and it was unforgettable. My partner and I had a glorious time. Here are some things I learned, which you can incorporate into your next weekend. These items are not listed in any particular order, and are presented cafeteria style. If you can work all of them into your next adventure, fantastic. If only a few apply, they will still add to the scintillating nature of a sensual get away.
- Make it a four-day weekend.
In my experience, two days is great, but four days is even better. By leaving on a Thursday night, and returning on a Tuesday morning, you are giving you and your partner four full days to wake up and go to sleep in a new area. There is also something wonderful about waking up on Monday and seeing many other travelers heading home, and knowing you still have one more full day to enjoy your trip. I realize it may be difficult to get the time off from work, but believe me, it is so worth it. The positive benefits on your relationship will be profound and life lasting.
- Go someplace you have never been before.
It is easy and convenient to have your favorite “go to” place. It is comfortable. When you go someplace unknown, both you and your partner are in a constant state of not knowing, and everything is new. There is nothing like the first time of anything. It is exciting. In men’s work, we talk about the paradigm of living at our edge, in that place of not knowing but still willing to go for it. It adds a very attractive energy to everyday life. Visiting a new location, not knowing where to go nor where to eat, nor where to explore, it puts you both at your edge. This adds to the excitement. It also adds to a sense of partnership and togetherness as you and your travel companion figure things out as a couple.
- Go someplace where the locals speak a different language.
Having just returned from Kuala Lumpur, I experienced this first hand. Most people there do not speak English. This forced me and my partner to communicate with our bodies, our facial expressions, and by doing quite a bit of pointing. Being in a place where English is not the native language is another way to gently coax you out of your comfort zone just a bit, all of which adds to the excitement level and the unique and one of a kind feeling of being a foreigner in a foreign land.
- Have sex in the morning.
Do it. Many couples get into a rhythm of sex at night before going to sleep. Try to mix things up. Take showers, brush your teeth, and have a wonderful romp in your hotel room. Most hotels have very soft sheets and comforter and pillows. They are a perfect launch pad for erotic play. Sex in the morning gets the day off to a glorious start. It makes the day special. It is something you will always remember as a delightful part of your weekend getaway.
- Eat great food.
Eating delicious food is a very reasonably priced way to experience the delicacies of your destination. In Kuala Lumpur, we at hot pot, a variety of local fruits, exquisite sushi, delectable steamed fish, and local beef soup. Each meal was an adventure in itself. If you are not sure where to go, check out the Internet. All cities have food critics who post their favorite restaurants, the best restaurants on a budget, the best food carts, as well as a top of the line, don’t miss this place, list of eateries. There are also several apps for that. Even on a budget, you can eat well, and have stories to share.
- Get massages.
Life is too short not to get massages. We all work hard. Perhaps you are a man who does physical labor. I know that sitting for eight hours per day focused and typing on my Macbook Pro makes my neck sore. I recommend you make it a priority to get a massage. You can get a simple foot massage, a full body oil massage, a neck and back massage, a Thai massage (a body massage without oil) or a reflexology massage (focus on your feet). If you do not normally get a massage at home, this will make your weekend getaway even more memorable. And even if you do get a regular massage at home, it is still ever so decadent to take an hour or two and allow yourself to be pampered. Your body will thank you for it. And so will your partner.
- Walk everywhere and utilize public transportation.
It is easy to jump into a taxi and get driven around. Is sitting in traffic really what you want to be doing? Walk. Get lost. Experience your destination the way the locals experience their home. While in Kuala Lumpur, I made a half-mile trek each day to the local health club. On my way to the club, I passed local vendors and best of all, I was able to look eye to eye at the other temporary visitors passing my way. I also saw some of the poverty that exists which was both humbling and left me filled with gratitude. I would not have experienced any of this had I had not walked. If you are bored, take a walk, get lost, and keep going until something interesting happens. And something interesting always happens! Also, especially as you get outside of the United States, the public transportation services are phenomenal. I took a train to and from the airport in Kuala Lumpur. What a joy! I could sit, look out the window, play on my cell phone (the train has free wifi), and people watch to my heart’s content. One extra benefit to public transportation is you can feel good that you are contributing to a cleaner environment.
- Get a room with a view.
I have found that when I have a room with a view, my days start off with a certain sense of wonder. I enjoy my morning coffee. Perhaps you drink tea, or water. Waking up, opening the blinds, and drinking your favorite beverage with your partner looking out at your new destination, it is a wonderful way to start your daily adventures.
- Take pictures and videos of your journey.
I don’t recommend you use your smart phones for much else. Watching your partner checking out her Facebook page is not too enlivening. However, the action of taking pictures and videos does do a few things. First. It is fun. You smile. You ham it up for the camera. You talk and express yourself. Your partner will appreciate your open hearted sharing. Second, you are creating a digital memory of your amazing journey. There will be a point when you will look back, and watch a video, and remember little details you may have forgotten, and it will make you smile. I just looked back at a video taken during my visit to hot pot restaurant. My partner took a video of me adding meats and vegetables to the bubbling hot soup. She added some music to the video with an app and now I have a perfect memory of my joy sitting at the table creating a sumptuous feast in a very unique way.
- Do something unusual.
When I was in Kuala Lumpur, at two in the afternoon, I walked to a local outdoor restaurant. Next to the eatery was a tiny older woman who took dough, dropped it in boiling oil, and served up fresh doughnuts. The texture was like an American doughnut, but the taste was not as sweet. It was absolutely delightful, especially with a cold iced coffee. Another thing we did was to go out late at night. Normally I am in bed by 11 PM. In Kuala Lumpur in the Changkat area, the place doesn’t get going on a Friday night until 12 midnight. We sat at our street side table at two in the morning, drinking mojitos, and watching all the people come and go. We laughed, we shared stories, and we had a blast. Do the unexpected and you will be surprised at how much you will enjoy doing something different.
There you have it. Get out of the house. Get out of the country. Travel the world. Make your life the exciting adventure it is. Use some of these tips and before you know it, while you are on the airplane heading home, you will already be planning your next adventure. Life is short. Live it with no regrets. We men are often looked to for the direction in our relationships. Do it the right way. She will love you for it. Surprise her and surprise yourself. Create it big and bold. Going out and making a weekend getaway unforgettable is a great way to spice up your relationship and keep you and your partner smiling from ear to ear.
Photo: flickr / damien_p58
Diary of The Bridge
May 2011 in Baldwin Kansas
May 29, 2011
By Jay Cradeur
Just one week ago, I was sitting in a sacred circle of men on the final day of The Bridge Men’s Initiation Ritual in Baldwin Kansas. Unlike past Bridge Sundays in which I was tired and a bit groggy, this Sunday, I was well rested as I looked out the window of the barn and saw streaming sunshine. In most Bridge events, we spend all of Saturday night awake, all contributing to the powerful initiation ritual which does not complete until the sun comes up. However, as I will explain, this was not a typical Bridge event (as if there is such a thing). Mother Nature had big plans for us, none the least of which was called Hear Me Roar!
Let’s start at the beginning. The assistants team arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Upon driving into the venue, a large refurbished barn in the middle of the very small town of Baldwin Kansas, it was raining fairly heavily. When we visited the sweat lodge site, we had serious concern about getting a fire started, and using wet blankets and carpeting to set up the lodge. We also knew it would be difficult to conduct the all night initiation ritual in a heavy downpour. This day was yet another lesson in letting go. We had no control over the weather. So instead we focused on what we could do to make the event room and sweat lodge as prepared as possible.
I have a unquenchable thirst for nature. I first felt this once again when I was sitting outside the back of the barn, and caught sight of a very large owl flying over a pond and landing on a branch. I slowly walked over to the tree to see if I could get a better look at this big horn owl. There he was, sitting on a branch, and perfectly content to have me look at him while he looked at me, just some 20 feet away. It was glorious. His eyes were bright yellow. His head was rotating as if on a swivel. After 2-3 minutes my new friend the owl heard some sounds and decided it was time to hit the road. I saw him again on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. In the picture below, you can see how close he allowed me to get. Remarkable.
At 3:30 pm on Thursday, the rain stopped. The sun began to shine. We immediately set up the fire to heat up the stones for the evening sweat lodge. Men began to arrive an hour later as the final touches were being put on the sweat lodge. It was as if God had said, “Here is the break you were asking for!” We began the lodge at 8pm. It was a gentle Inipi ceremony, almost sweet, allowing all the men to gently immerse themselves in the event and in the initial process of physical, spiritual and emotional purification. I also learned a valuable lesson about being and remaining grounded during such powerful rituals. While handling the pitchfork holding a red hot rock destined for the pit in the center of the lodge, the pitch fork tilted and the rock hit my thumb before hitting the ground. I put the rock in the pit, but my thumb lost a nice chunk of skin, singed it right off. Respect.
Friday, Day 1
Friday is always a powerful day. It is a day of brutal truth telling. It is a day of surrender and release. It is a day of discovery. And at the end of the day, many men feel a tremendous blast of spiritual bliss during our final exercise. The Bridge is a mystery school, allowing the men to begin a study of themselves (of their self) in earnest. What is your mission in life? What are you afraid of? What must you do before you die? I also relearned the lesson that I am not alone nor am I special. In fact, I am not even that unique. We all have a past, some parts of which are hard to look act, let alone admit to and be witnessed. Yet by looking and speaking and being witnessed, these harmful and shameful bits lose their potency and simply become a bit more of my history, something which has served me to become who I am today. Shame be gone.
On Friday, I also learned once again that male rage is powerful, can be created at will, and need not be simply a reaction. Properly channeled, as we do on Day 1, the full expression of rage is beautiful, inspiring, and ultimately blissful. I shudder to think how many men, women and children are hurt and abused simply because, in our society, we don’t have conversations about rage nor channels for the proper expression of rage.
Saturday, Day 2
On Saturday, we spend most of the day preparing for the all night initiation ritual with various processes and exercises. However, as it once again rained, our sweat lodge completely collapsed under the weight of the water. Being dudes who like to build shit, we made it our project to create a new and better sweat lodge for the evening ritual. The guys attacked the project with gusto, and within 3 hours, we had a fabulous new sweat lodge all set and ready to go. We also spent a couple of hours in the meadow preparing for the evening work. The sun was shining, and meadow grass was drying, and everything seemed to be progressing perfectly for a wonderful all night ritual.
Our evening sweat lodge was hot. Really hot. Like no kidding, this is Hot! During the second of four rounds, half the guys left the lodge. It was a mass exodus of epic proportions. The third round sent out another bunch of guys. For me, the sweat lodge experience is a deep discipline in the fine art of surrender and breathing through fear. It is my experience that this is a lost art. On this night, in Kansas, we were just getting started.
I learned another powerful lesson once I left the sweat lodge. I crawled out, stumbled to an open space on some grass, and lied down, simply looking up at the darkening sky. I could not have been more content. During that one hour in the sweat lodge, I did battle with my self, and with the heat, and with my faltering ego. I lost on all counts. I battled hard, I lost, and I felt such a state of bliss lying there on the ground. No thoughts. No need to do anything. No need to be any certain way. It was one of those divine moments where men simply get to be together and be. Ahh, Masculine Bliss.
We returned to the barn and prepared for our walk over to the meadow. The half mile hike took us through mud, through a garden, through tall grass, and across a small rushing river. Since we did get some rain, we could no longer hop from rock to rock to get across the river, so we waded through the flowing water to get to the other side. It was great fun for us guys. In addition to enjoying building shit, we also like to get wet and muddy! We were excited. We were anxious. And we were walking toward our death, just about to leap off the edge into the unknown.
I had heard that there was some weather working its way around us. I had seen someone’s phone with images of heavy storms to the north and south of us, but there didn’t seem to be anything heading towards us. The sky above us was clear, though we could see some dark clouds way off into the distance. One eerie cloud was in the exact shape of an arrow head stone. In our elevated state, everything felt OK, and we proceeded with our many rituals to prepare the men, and ultimately get them all in their sacred ritual sites.
While we were finalizing the beginning of the ritual for each man, the skies started to roar, and lightning began to spark. For me, this was a moment unlike any other. The timing was uncanny. As we moved from man to man, Mother Nature kept speaking to us with increasing intensity. We saw lightning so bright I could not keep my eyes open. Thunder pelted our ears. Yet for the longest time, we did not feel a single drop of rain. It was not until we got to the last man that the rain began to fall. At same time, the caretaker of the property had hiked to the meadow to notify us that a tornado was heading right towards the meadow.
We finished with the last man, and then proceeded in haste to notify each man of the oncoming tornado, get him out of his ritual site, and meet back at the fire pit (which had now been quickly doused out) and prepare to hike back to the barn. The rain was now coming down in sheets. It was impossible to stay dry. The lightning was brighter, more frequent, and shocking. Thunder was belching at us right above our heads. We began the hike back. Within minutes, large hail balls the size of nickels began to fall on our heads. The energy of our group of men was unbelievably intense. I was feeling such exhilaration as the weather gods demonstrated their titanic power. When we got to the river, I almost jumped in head first just to feel everything I possible could in that moment. Carpe Diem! I wanted to be decimated, consumed, and divinely ravaged by the storm, by nature, and by the All Powerful.
We made it back. We walked with our items in one hand while our other hand protected our heads from the falling chunks of ice. Upon arriving, we decided to proceed with our celebration ritual (which involves eating bacon..Yahoo!), then nourish our bodies after a day of fasting, and then get a good night’s sleep. If a tornado was coming, we were going to to be ready. In the end, what can be said about this night? It was glorious. It was a seminal moment in time which no one will ever forget. The whole experience spoke to the commitment of the men to create breakthrough. What a life!
Sunday, Day 3
We started with our morning circle, sharing our experiences and lesson from the previous night. We ate some delectable hamburgers for lunch, and rested. We were all full up from the previous day’s activities. In the afternoon, we all shared our wisdom with each other. We celebrated each other, and the dedication we shared to achieve completion. The men prepared to leave, helped with clean up, and then left for their homes and their loved ones.
As I sat in my room on Sunday night, I was left wondering what impact this weekend would have on the men. I seem to be constantly living in these questions, “What make a real and substantial difference in another’s life?” “What lasting effect would the men feel?” “How would the women of these men be impacted, or the children?” It is our intention that The Bridge not be just another “ aha” moment, or a feel good adventure. We put an emphasis on men thinking about their lives in very definite terms, feeling what is true, and learning something substantial and concrete that will be valuable and useful one month or one year down the road. The men all have their journals. I believe they will all use them to continue to Know Thyself.
Great gratitude from this arrogant bastard, for the opportunity to spend such quality time with a group of remarkable men.
To read how these men were impacted by The Bridge, click here for Brother’s Words.
To get information on the next Bridge event in Northern California, click here.
The Voice Of The Ancient Bard
By William Blake
Youth of delight, come hither
And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new born.
Doubt is fled, & clouds of reason,
Dark disputes and artful teasing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways.
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead.
And feel they know not what but care,
And wish to lead others, when they should be led.
I recently attended an powerful Initiation Ritual in which I asked to be rid of was DOUBT. Naturally, as is so often the case, when I came home, I was drawn to a book I had recently ordered online. I turned to no page in particular and these words shot straight into my third eye like a red hot poker, for these words/images/thoughts capture my experience better than any musings I might share with you. What I would like to share are my interpretations of this passage.
“Youth of delight, come hither” I find I can assess a man’s development by how excited he gets about things and experiences. “Youth of Delight” captures the embryonic state of most, chasing the next pussy, the latest gadget, or the next event. “Come hither” boys, for I have something to share…
“And see the opening morn” This, for me, is Blake’s way of saying “Wake the Fuck Up!!!”. He is being very poetic about it. I tend to be more blunt.
“Image of truth new born.” Here, I believe, Blake is pointing his finger in the direction of “truth.” When one does get a sniff of truth, it truly is like a birth, and new day, a direction for one’s life which is at once both exhilarating and terrifying.
“Doubt is fled, & clouds of reason,” This one is for me a bit tougher to decipher. When one is cognizant of the clarity of truth, the absoluteness of it, then doubt is fled. The pathway is clear, and one begins the march, slashing and burning everything that gets in the way. Yet, clouds of reason do interfere. “Am I going insane?” “Am I the only one?” “Why doesn’t anyone else see what I see?” “The tribe was so warm and cozy.” The other interpretation here is that the clouds of reason are also fled. However, in my experience, “clouds of reason” is the battle ground. Only after tremendously challenging, painful and excruciating work, and complete ego decimation takes place, may one leave the battle ground. And in actuality, one doesn’t leave the battle ground, rather the battle ground just ceases to exist.
“Dark disputes and artful teasing.” Over the next few lines, Blake is, in my opinion, making a full front assault on Maya, the goddess of illusion. How can one realize the truth, without understanding his own dark side? Know thyself! Ah yes, and artful teasing. Just when you think you are on the path, you are once again off the path. Maya is a master, and her game is to make you think you are advancing, when in fact you have made a pit stop into illusion, vanity, or greed. This line, by including the word “artful,” also shows the respect for Maya that she deserves.
“Folly is an endless maze,” Or so it seems. How does one open the gateless gate? At some point, folly becomes a casualty of the process. When the hunger for the end of your suffering becomes greater than the pain of the suffering, one realizes the way out of the back door of the maze was in front of you the entire time.
“Tangled roots perplex her ways.” Here, Blake, again in my opinion, is now addressing ego, that pernicious little voice, that we just can’t seem to separate from our selves. This topic came up quite a bit during our days of rights. How is it that some little voice can make us all so miserable? “Hey you, you’re a piece of shit!” “Hey, are you listening to me, you aren’t making enough money.” “Hey you, you lazy ass couch potato, get to work!” It is not enough that we have Maya to contend with, but we also have to do some serious house cleaning to remove the debris of the multi tenacled ego (also a creation of Maya).
“How many have fallen there!” The answer: virtually everybody. I can just imagine Blake making this statement is disbelief and exasperation. I believe most don’t get any kind of clarity until they are looking death right in the eyes. And then they die, so their work remains incomplete. Some see the end but are too fearful to proceed. Some do proceed but end up in mental institutions, or addicted to anti depressants. Is it too much to bear? We all know damned well when we sell out to ourselves.
“They stumble all night over bones of the dead.” Here, I believe Blake is speaking about our fascination with our own stories, our fascination with, and our unwillingness to let go of, our past. How many times do we need to say our story before we realize it has nothing to do with the here and now!? The past is one of Maya’s main distraction devices. We all had bad things that happened to us… Get Over It!!! But on and on I go, parsing out the drivel of a lifetime. Aren’t I special?
“And feel they know not what but care,” And so, in the end, rather than march forward in the face of fear towards truth and away from all falsity, we fall back into comfort. As I witness life, it is almost as if men are playing dumb, acting like they don’t know what game they are playing. Rather than play the real game, they fall back into the warmth of the tribe, looking like they give a damn about capital punishment, relationship status, and career choices. I could see Maya smiling with glee. She must have had a really good day when she created the caring feelings that come with the tribe. Your heart is your ego, and that is a tough pill to swallow.
“And wish to lead others, when they should be led.” And still, Maya has yet another trick up her gold inlaid, laced sleeve. Once one gets even a whiff of clarity, the first impulse is to share it, and teach others. Here we have more delusion and distraction to feed an unexamined ego. The quickest way off the path, is to assume you have something to say. Ego quickly kicks in, and all progress is halted. Why is it so hard to live in the question? Temptations abound around us. Maya is sharpening her arrows. I have learned that only when I shut up will the universe speak to me.
William Blake, 1757-1827, life mask made in 1823
The Somnambulists by Joanna Kane
This is a brilliant poem. It is a powerful amalgam of words. Bravo William Blake!
Here, in this blog, I am sharing my observations. Please question everything. What, if anything, you may agree with, I especially invite you to look deeper. Life appears to me to have so many layers, each revealing just a bit more, until finally all becomes simple and silent. Is it simple and silent for you?
Honesty is the best policy. And Brutal Honesty is the only medicine for this path.