Relationship Diversity Podcast

Storytelling, Self-discovery, and Sex Cults: Lived Experiences with LL Kirchner

September 14, 2023 Carrie Jeroslow Episode 65
Relationship Diversity Podcast
Storytelling, Self-discovery, and Sex Cults: Lived Experiences with LL Kirchner
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Episode 65:
Storytelling, Self-Discovery, and Sex Cults: Lived Experiences with LL Kirchner


Our stories are powerful. What better way to learn about the impact of stories than from a storyteller, herself?   Prepare to have your eyes opened, as I engage in a fascinating discussion with L L Kirchner, an award-winning screenwriter, author, and relationship diversity explorer. L L shares her personal journey of self-discovery following an unexpected breakup, a foray into a sex cult, and her discovery of polyamory.

This episode will tap into your deepest emotions as we unravel L L's transition from the corporate world to teaching yoga and the consequential student encounter that sparked her interest in expansive love. She explores her struggle with the fundamental question: 'What's wrong with me?'. We'll delve into her books and how the power of storytelling helped LL and countless others on their path to self-discovery.

Finally, we touch on her experience in radical honesty and sex cults. You'll hear from L L as she reflects on her journey, multiple relationships, and the importance of self-care in this transformation.

Connect with LL:
Preorder Book and Free Creativity Masterclass | Free Storytelling Course
Meditation Quiz | Website

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Please note: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker. I am not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease, or condition. The information provided in or through my podcast is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific circumstance.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Relationship Diversity Podcast, where we celebrate, question and explore all aspects of relationship structure diversity, from solaramary to monogamy to polyamory and everything in between, because every relationship is as unique as you are. We'll bust through societal programming to break open and dissect everything we thought we knew about relationships, to ask the challenging but transformational questions who am I and what do I really want in my relationships? I'm your guide, Keri Jarislow. Bestselling author, speaker, intuitive and coach. Join me as we reimagine all that our most intimate relationships can become.

Speaker 1:

Today's episode is an offshoot of our conversation series that I'm calling Lived Experiences. In it we hear life stories from the people who live them with the intention of cultivating understanding, empathy and connection. There's such power in storytelling, which can also create an opening for self-reflection and awareness. My guest today is L L Kirschner, a former journalist and writer, who shares her experience with relationship diversity in the wake of her divorce, her time spent in a sex cult and so much more. But first a little about her.

Speaker 1:

L L Kirschner is an award-winning screenwriter and author of two memoirs, including the forthcoming Blissful Thinking, a memoir of overcoming the wellness revolution. A book critic, essayist and reporter, kirschner was once simultaneously the religion editor for an LGBTQIA plus paper, dating, columnist for an alt-news weekly and bridal editor for a society rag. Her writing has appeared in Shondaland, the Rumpus and the Washington Post, among numerous other publications. She's currently a guest host for the Home Shopping Network and runs the monthly storytelling show True Stories. Let's get into the conversation. Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of Relationship Diversity Podcast. I'm really excited about this new series that I'm doing, this lived experience series, because in this we are hearing other people's stories to broaden our idea and our concept of what a life-lived looks like, because we all have different lives and I think that it's really helpful to cultivate empathy and compassion with others. So with that, I'm excited to welcome L L Kirschner to the podcast. Welcome, l.

Speaker 2:

L Hi Carrie, I am so excited to be here. Thank you for having me and thank you for creating this forum for storytelling.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and I know you have a lot of experience with storytelling, so let's learn a little bit more about you. Share with us a little bit about your story and how you got to this moment in terms of your storytelling and relationship diversity, because I hear you've got some stories to tell us.

Speaker 2:

That is definitely part of my story. So, gosh, where to even start with that? I mean, I had the impulse to tell stories from when I was young and it really is a basic human impulse. But, as many of us discover, I needed to do some work when I wanted to tell my own personal story. So I am actually a trained journalist and I have a degree in journalism and I wrote for newspapers and magazines for many years and then I took a job in marketing and communications for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, which is a very unusual place. It certainly was.

Speaker 2:

When I lived there and I thought I'm going to write witty essays about this place, because you would see these women wrapped in black walking down the mall. They appeared to be floating because they were on their Gucci high heels and so they just look like they're floating right past ads for Victoria's Secret, and I was like what? So there was lots of material and then a lot of things happened to me. I was 38 and discovered that I was in menopause, and then my husband got on a plane and then called and said he wanted a divorce, and I really discovered my own internalized misogyny as a result of living in such a patriarchal culture. While this was happening to me, because my first thought when I thought about dating again was well, who's going to want me now? And that taught me a lot about what my beliefs were. And so because I had been thinking a lot about how women were treated there and how rights were different and all of these things. But then when it really came to how I viewed my own value, because I was very much like oh, their primary value is wives and mothers. And then I recognized I had that same belief. So the process of dismantling that belief became my first book, american Lady Creature, and to write it. So this gets back to the storytelling I thought, ok, I can go to grad school or I can move to New York City.

Speaker 2:

So I moved to New York City and there I discovered many things which you hinted at with the relationship, diversity, but also storytelling, the storytelling community, which was amazing. I turned New York into really a small village for me. I got to know a lot of people and I got to know them by their true stories and that just changed everything in multiple ways. So for one, it enabled me as a writer. I had hundreds of pages that ended up on the so-called cutting room floor because when I was writing, especially as a journalist, I found so many things externally very fascinating and important but they weren't really moving the story forward.

Speaker 2:

And when you get up on stage and you try to tell your story to a group of people, or at a dinner table, at a toast, when you're trying to hold people's attention in any setting right, you quickly find out what people don't understand, what bores them and what they want to hear more about.

Speaker 2:

So it became a way to sort of edit my book. It was less expensive than all the classes I was taking, because I was certainly taking a lot of classes and, wow, it really changed everything. And when I've come to learn through different studies that are out there and my own experience is that a story well told connects people, because we have an expectation of a story having an arc, a beginning, a middle and an end, and we also have, along with that, emotions get activated and so if you kind of begin a story and then just wander off, you don't get that same level of connection. So really there was the art of learning how to present myself as the main character in the story, which was a lot harder than I thought that it would be. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because I think a way to connect which I love, that storytelling in its most effective form is about connecting people that there's a level of vulnerability that I think is necessary to open yourself, to open up yourself to other people coming into your story, instead of just presenting your story out there and pushing people away Absolutely true and presenting is a big thing.

Speaker 2:

So I still I run a monthly storytelling show now where I live in St Petersburg, Florida. It's called True Stories, and I'm always making a big deal about. Oh, you know, this isn't a performance, this is not a TED Talk. Just make a little movie in our minds about what happened to you. And that's so powerful because when you sort of take yourself away from trying to perform your story, you have more of an opportunity to relate. You're relating your story and that's really what it's all about. I think it makes a huge difference.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So I'm curious with your storytelling experience, a time where maybe you were closed off to someone in the beginning but through their story opened up to understanding more about who that person was and maybe releasing judgment about that person. Do you have an example of?

Speaker 2:

that I have an example, a great example. It's funny that you would ask that question because it really there's a scene in the book. After American Lady Creature came out, or during the process of that, I was still processing what had happened with my ex ending our marriage over the telephone in what was a surprise move. I did not know that that was. It's not like we'd been discussing splitting up. He just laid it on me and because he was in another country and I was not around friends or family, I was really in a vacuum of like what is wrong with me? And I became obsessed with that question. And being obsessed with that question is really damaging and I went on a sort of a self-help quest, as it were, and the problem really was the question. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to improve ourselves and our responses to life, but I do think there's something unhealthy about being obsessed with the idea that I need to do things better, I'm doing things wrong, and it's that really slight reframing which then brings me to this power of storytelling.

Speaker 2:

I met someone. I started teaching yoga, so I left the corporate world altogether. I had been writing, but always is like a side hustle. I did a lot of arts and culture reporting, which I loved, and I decided I'm going to go full throttle into this career and I was teaching yoga, which surprised me more than anything. Like at 40, I'm going to start teaching yoga in New York City. Are you kidding me? So I had a student in one of my classes that I was kind of attracted to and part of this time that I spent in New York was trying to answer that question what's wrong with me? What's wrong with me and why can't I get a second date? Now it might not surprise you to hear it now that somebody who's running around thinking what's wrong with me, what's wrong with me and then can't get a second date, you might think, well, yeah, duh, like that's not really attractive energy to bring on to a date, but at the time I was in it, so I'm in it.

Speaker 2:

I meet this guy in my class. At this point I'm in slightly better shape because I've been on this journey for a while, and I decide because he's not coming on to me at all. Oh, and, by the way, he wasn't a student in my regular class. This was a class that I was substituting, so I, you know, I'm such a nerd. I feel like that's very important to mention, because you shouldn't cross the student-teacher boundary, right.

Speaker 2:

So, anyway, the way that I asked him out was like I was working on an article for the New York Post, I think it was about vacation sex stories, and I asked for his and he invited me to listen over a drink. And I was like, yes, this is what I was hoping for. Finally, we're going to go out because I could. You know, I was getting a bit of a vibe, but he never made any kind of a move. So we're there at the restaurant slash bar on the Upper East Side and he's being super attentive, he's making sure that my glass is filled and all of these things. And then finally he tells me that he and his partner are polyamory or polyamorists, and they organize sex parties. And I was like, what are you talking about? And he told me that he was going to have one. And would I write about it? And that's why he wanted to go out with me. And I thought, well, great, what is so wrong with me? Right? I went right back to that and the beautiful thing was that he then went on to explain to me about polyamory it's not that I hadn't heard of it.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I had lived in Qatar, where the land of polygamy, which, by this point, I was thinking. Well, you know, I think it's maybe a little kinder to keep the old wives around, because that's how bereft I was. I had even suggested to my ex-husband well, what if we stayed married but started dating other people? Now, I didn't really have any kind of a background of polyamory, or really it wasn't big in the zeitgeist at that moment, but I was living in a culture where kind of that was what happened and I just felt like he was my best friend. This was months after the fact, in the single hour that he granted me when he came to pick up his dog yeah, he left me with his dog in Qatar, anyway.

Speaker 2:

So I'm there at the bar and he starts to tell me about how the heart expands. And the example he gives me is well, what would happen if we ran out of love after just one child? And I really had to reflect, because I had been in love before with my first boyfriend. I met him actually in rehab. When we met, we were together for five years and then he drowned and even though he died, and it wasn't like I'm okay, I'm gonna flip the switch off. And now we're not in love anymore.

Speaker 2:

What happened was I went on to meet and marry another person. When he left me, I also didn't flip an off switch. I wasn't expecting that relationship to be over and I think part of me was unable to fall out of love with him. And I didn't really want to, because I don't wanna live in a world where love means you can only partition it out in these really small bits and pieces, and I did wanna live in a world of expansive love. And so when he told me about him and his wife and I reflected on my own stories and again I was very much in writing this book, the first book and now the second book, but it really enabled me to see how that could be possible.

Speaker 2:

And then I went on a much sort of longer, deeper journey which ultimately ended up at the sex cult, which would not have been possible prior to this. Because, on the one hand, while he started you know well, while he started telling me the story, the first thing he says is well, our parties are about much more than sex. You don't even need to take off as much as a wristwatch and I'm thinking well, do I seem like a prude? I'm like no, and. But I'm like I've got this sort of sort of battle between my inner prude and my inner prostitute right. They're both in there and they're both. They both got voices.

Speaker 2:

And by going deeper into carnal exploration I was able to really explore and find my agency, find exactly who I am as a woman and answer some questions that I didn't realize were unresolved. And you know, it makes a lot of sense. We want to spend a lot of time in our neocortex in order to respond and to be serene and all of those things. But trauma lives in our reptilian brain, in our lizard brain, and so working out that trauma is really a physical for me it's been a physical activity through the practice of yoga, really through discovering sexual agency and being comfortable in my body. It's not about thinking it doesn't happen in the neocortex, that kind of healing.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting because when you talk about you know that you couldn't turn off your heart to your first boyfriend and to your first husband. And you know, because love isn't in the head, it's, you know, somatic, it's feeling, it's in the heart and it doesn't necessarily respond to okay, we're not in relationship with that person anymore. So just turn off, just stop. And so I can see how that story and that introduction into polyamory could infiltrate into other areas of your life and other questioning. And I did. You go to the party.

Speaker 2:

I didn't go to his party because that particular party didn't go off and they only had them, I think, every couple of months at that point and there was a burlesque convention in town that kind of siphoned off their audience. So they decided to cancel the party and then we broke up before they had another one. But I did go to such parties at a later point in time. That's not actually. Those experiences aren't in the book. There's, you know, a lot of telling a story is figuring out what not to tell Again to keep the narrative moving. All of these experiences were so critical to me so you were with that guy, you did date that guy.

Speaker 1:

Oh, yeah, okay. And what was your experience of going from monogamy to polyamory? What were your takeaways?

Speaker 2:

Well, it would be hard to describe myself as a monogamous at that point because I wasn't really having any relationships. It was so sad, but I figured out pretty early on that we weren't the best match. But I was also really determined. I thought, well, this guy manages his wife and multiple other lovers and she manages him and multiple other lovers. And you know, I'm gonna go in here Margaret Mead style and figure it out. See, what is it that they do that makes this possible? How is this so different from my experience? But you know it. Ultimately it wasn't right. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And my sober mentor at the time actually suggested why don't you just go onto an adult website and put it out there that you're looking for casual sex? And I was, honestly, here comes the inner prude. I was like, but I'm not. It really had to recognize. Oh yes, I actually was.

Speaker 2:

Because this was, you know, the book was coming out. This was, you know, at that, the first book and I had. I was teaching, I was trying to, I just I had like five different jobs, I had a lot going on and I really wasn't open to have a relationship. And one of the things that the guy at the. I'm calling it a sex cult because that's how a lot of people would refer to it, but Osho, which was described in that wild country documentary a few years ago, it's a commune that's named after the guru Osho, and they had a branch in Oregon and they had one in India. I went to the one in India many, many years before this documentary came out. I did not know the story of this cult in Oregon that got actually quite a bad reputation for trying to put poison in the local food supply.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, you should look that doc up.

Speaker 1:

Oh that sounds really interesting.

Speaker 2:

But I was very attracted to going there because they had so many new age healing modalities on offer at this place in India and one of the things that at one of the workshops that the leader said was you know, you never pick the wrong person. He just kept repeating that over and over because so often people would say that oh, I have a broken picker, I just keep picking the wrong guy.

Speaker 2:

That kind of a thing, and it brought me back to really what really had been telling me, and I was thinking of that. You know very common saying you point a finger and you have three fingers pointing back at you, because it's very easy, I would think to myself. The lazy thinking was oh, I just keep finding these unavailable men. And actually I was unavailable. So I did, I did that whole adult website experiment and, lo and behold, I discovered that I really enjoyed dating a lot of different people, and not necessarily casually. I mean, I dated people who you know we could be sort of in each other's lives.

Speaker 2:

It wasn't this anonymous kind of experience, but what really happened was that I discovered the value of radical honesty, Because there was no point right off the bat. When I finally decided I was gonna do it, I was like well, I'm certainly not gonna bother pretending anything Like. It's kind of like you know, if you're gonna show someone your house as an apartment as opposed to trying to sell it, you're going to say, okay, this is wrong, this is wrong, that's wrong, whereas if you're trying to sell it as a house, you're like look at my fabulous house, but you wanna kind of manage the relationship of the tenant that you're gonna have or of the tenant that you're gonna have an ongoing relationship with, as opposed to if you wanna sell the house. No, I'm not saying you're trying to hide massive defects, but you know you don't put the worst part out there.

Speaker 1:

Well.

Speaker 2:

I recognized. You know, I was really more looking for tenants than buyers.

Speaker 1:

So Well, I think that's a really great practice of radical honesty, but also, I wonder, was there compassion in there as well? Because sometimes we can be radically honest and hurtful, which I'm sure you wanted to not be. No, no, no, but I don't think most people want to be hurtful in their communication, although we don't learn a lot growing up about how to communicate effectively, so sometimes we're stumbling our way into learning how to communicate more compassionately as we go along.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, in my family we used honesty as a sword. I used to think of it that way, but I absolutely. That was not at all what I meant it wasn't about, and in fact, this was the main learning of the book at the end of it, instead of to constantly be looking at what's wrong with me to sort of say, hey, what's right with me, what am I doing? Yeah, Classic cognitive behavioral therapy, right? In fact, it was a therapist who gave me that tool. You know, I would constantly berate myself and she would say do you ever like comment when you do anything right?

Speaker 2:

And I had tried. Affirmations didn't work for me. Because, I was like that is false, that is. I hate it, you know, when you say I am wealthy and powerful, well, oh, wait a minute. You have to find to change your mindset, to change your narrative. You have to start at a place of truth and build, build from there. But back to that radical honesty. That was self. A lot of it was self honesty. And then not being willing to present a false self.

Speaker 1:

Definitely so. There's a lot about your life I'm curious about. But you said so. You started kind of, you put yourself out on this website, right, and you found that you really enjoyed having multiple experiences at the same time. One can label that as polyamorous, nonmonogamous. What year was this? I'm just curious.

Speaker 2:

Like 2011, through 2015, 2014.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just find it fascinating to learn about people's timeline in terms of, you know, nonmonogamy, polyamory or just diverse relationships in history. So that's why I always ask what year that was. And so you decide. So you put yourself out on these websites, you decided, you know. Yes, I actually like having these multiple relationships. And was the sex cult after?

Speaker 2:

that, oh, I would say it was during.

Speaker 1:

During that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, One of the things about writing a book is that I I condensed, I altered the timeline to make it more followable again, because really, when you're hearing a story, you want a beginning, a middle and an end, and when you're reading one, you really want a beginning, middle and an end. And so I altered the timeline slightly and I actually went to India. I went back and forth multiple times over the years, but when I presented it that way to to readers to give me feedback that they would get confused about where I was in time and space and it was just cleaner to separate it out. So then, instead of I'm in New York, I'm in India, I'm in New York, I'm in.

Speaker 2:

India which is really how it happened. I just cleaned it up to a trip to India, new York, a trip to India, right? So I did it like that, but interestingly it didn't really change the like the timeline of how I discovered things.

Speaker 1:

Did you know it was a sex cult before you went out?

Speaker 2:

I did.

Speaker 1:

You did Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I had a lot of hesitation about going for that reason, because I was kind of concerned. Again, my inner prude had come out and I was thinking, well, I need, I need to find a way to heal without ripping up the scabs, and sex is just going to be too much for me right now. I need to explore these healing modalities in a chaste state, right. So so, and I had met someone who told me oh yeah, you can go there without removing so much as a wristwatch. That's not what they said, but I mean they were basically saying, yeah, it's up to you. And I thought, well, I guess I'll find out, and I'm. So.

Speaker 2:

When you're on the grounds, you have to wear robes and they have to be maroon. Maroon is not my color and you know I wasn't into the kind of zaftig thing at that point. And I got the most unattractive robe. I was like a witch's costume. You know they had these things that look like Renfest gear, right, the bustiers and flouncy skirts and lots of embellishments. I got this like plain triangle of a robe with bell sleeves and but then nobody was coming on to me and I was like what's so wrong with me? Like you know, I just replayed. This is the thing. Until we kind of get through these lessons, we keep replaying the same thing. Yes, but the great thing about being in that environment was it was like it was like a hyper jump into Getting to the next level, into seeing myself in action and acting these patterns again and again and changing course.

Speaker 1:

So what was the intention? Well, I guess my question is what made it a cult? Was it a known cult or was it in the guise of this? Is a retreat or an experience for people to come and explore?

Speaker 2:

It's a cult, it's a commune where people this is as a definition. So I don't know if you've read Amanda Montel's book Cultish. It's a great book. She talks about really how cults are built out of linguistic conventions. So even a yoga community can be a cult, because you're talking about my asana, this, my shavasana, that, my shirshasana, the other right. You're speak in a code that is specific to yogis and that's how you kind of build a community that excludes people, and so just on that level alone it's absolutely a cult. But on the level that more people think of, where you have again this enforced dress code and you live in community away from the world, and there's renunciation that goes on, although in their case it's really just renunciation with the outside world, but it's very much about hedonism, it is. Are you thinking like I got to go check it out? I mean, hey, you know.

Speaker 1:

I'm just curious. I well, I kind of have a fascination with cults and with I mean, I do believe that there's part of our society that is a cult, you know, that tells us we should be this way, that's, you know, the whole purpose of this podcast is debunking societal programming and I just am fascinated to learn. I don't see myself going there, but I'm curious about your experience.

Speaker 2:

Yeah Well, like I said, I was really compelled by the multitudes of meditation courses, chakra healings, craniosacral therapy, energy workers. There was just so much on offer, although I ended up, much to my shock, signing up for a taunture course while I was there, which was another game changer, right. So, again, I think it's really being open and willing to be on the path and doing what it took to get there for me. I'm not saying I recommend this journey to anyone or that I, you know, caution against it. It's really. This is just my story, but I definitely think that creating cohesive narratives out of our own lives is key to that kind of empowered action.

Speaker 1:

Definitely I agree with you completely, and so I remember you were saying that you went into a sex cult, not really expecting to have a lot of sex, but you came out feeling like you had had an awakening in this area. Is that true?

Speaker 2:

Oh, absolutely Like I said, I was really planning on not having any sex at all. I had the least sexy maroon when there. But the energy, the openness, the healing that was taking place made it all very compelling and I really wanted to kind of put in action, as it were, the different things that I was learning and how has that influenced your relationships since that time?

Speaker 2:

Oh well it's. I don't know if I would have a relationship now if it weren't for that, so I wasn't planning. I wasn't thinking that I would end up getting married again, but I did. That's how I ended up, kind of staying in Florida, and when I got to meet my husband, I had all this knowledge that I had the person who would become my husband Right. One was radical honesty. The other was this idea of that and this has been given to me in the at the Osho ashram, which was when you meet someone you know you speak of falling in love. Well, energetically, that's terrible. You should rise in love. So when you meet them energetically, it should make you rise.

Speaker 2:

And that was a revelation for me because I had come from such a toxic family environment that that notion if someone didn't kind of bowl me over immediately, energetically, then I thought, well, things are good, right, the idea that someone could actually make me bigger and more hadn't occurred to me so much, yeah, except during sex. Right, in sex you feel that that's not happen in the circumstances of consensual sex. But the other thing really that happened was, well, you know you, just one of the meditation circles that I was in, someone was talking about we speak of, like, how good we want to feel when we're in love. But the thing to look for and I wouldn't have been in this meditation circle if it weren't for these previous experiences, although this didn't happen at the sex cult per se was we speak of feeling great, how great someone is going to make us feel.

Speaker 2:

But I had to learn to find, or I had to be able to find, someone I trusted to actually make me feel terrible. My first reaction that was like what, what are you talking about? But the more I kind of chewed that over, I saw the truth of it, because over a relationship is not all sunshine and roses. You're coming together with another person with all of their own needs and wants that are going to be naturally in conflict with yours, and so you will hurt each other. Now, do you trust that person to hurt you? Boom, I was like wow.

Speaker 1:

Powerful. That's very powerful, because if you don't, then you withhold parts of yourself and create a relationship of disconnect instead of connection.

Speaker 2:

It really perpetuates the fight or flight mode. But in my family we were just in this. We were locked into the fight mode. My parents didn't get a divorce, weirdly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, His choices choices people make, and I am inspired by listening to your story and hearing that you talk about. Like, in storytelling, we want a really clean beginning, middle and end, and I get that. I understand that and life is not that. So if we try and fit our lives into this very clear cut this is where I started, this is where I am, this is where I finished we are missing the excitement, the joy, the scaringness, the journey of the fluidity of life. It's just we do travel these very windy roads to get to where we are and when you go through all of the lessons that you learned through each experience, you can see more of a clearer path to where you are, that this experience taught you this which then led to this experience, which you couldn't have learned, whatever that lesson was, without the previous lesson. So it's really fascinating to hear that story and to make those connections, but also knowing that life is so fluid.

Speaker 2:

Life is definitely fluid and there's a Buddhist saying that basically life is suffering. So I don't think you can avoid the juicy, the gray, the weird, the offbeat, right? I do think that that is going to be part of our existence, but I also believe that it's part of as part of everyone's existence. It's for me very important not to be stuck there, yeah, to again have that ability to step out of myself, step out of my archetypes and see, almost to see myself as a character. I do that through writing that's why I have these two books and through storytelling, I have a free storytelling course for people if they're interested in telling stories, and I really think that I offer a lot of tools for helping you dig through the muck, but you don't lose it.

Speaker 2:

That was a concern that I had, and I can remember once talking to my meditation teacher and being sort of like well, what about me and my preferences and what's going to happen to all that if I get to, you know, I guess, to Zen? And the same thing I actually later worried about with storytelling Like, am I going to sort of overwrite truths? And he kind of laughed it off and he said you're still going to be you no matter, no matter what. And so that journey of coming to accept that me that is my essence was. I mean, he told me that that was very early on. I don't even think that seems in the book anymore. At one point it was definitely in the book. But you know, I sort of again to your point, kari. You look back and you say, well, geez, that was all there.

Speaker 1:

But what you just said about acceptance, I think is the key to moving through those struggles, those challenges, is accepting our feelings, because then we're, you know, if we tell ourselves I shouldn't feel this way, I should feel differently, then it creates a lot of resistance and keeps those struggles real and present. If we allow ourselves that moment to just accept where we are and what we feel, and allow ourselves to be who we truly are, then that creates some movement. And so I want to go into your upcoming book. You've got your second book coming out really soon, september 26, I think you said. Yeah, that's right. Yep, so thinking a memoir of overcoming the wellness revolution. Tell us a little bit about that.

Speaker 2:

It's basically the story that I just told you, and in one sentence I would say it's kind of the years that I spent searching for wellness and getting sicker, because for a long time the search was making me sicker Like a true addict. I went at it with a real vengeance. That was not the way to go at it. But you know, it's what I did. I don't regret any of it and you know I have a lot in my history that made me afraid. I was afraid that I would relapse for one thing, as I had done when my boyfriend died.

Speaker 2:

When my marriage ended, my heart wasn't like well, you know, divorce is different than death. My heart was like I'm miserable and that's what I knew. That's what I felt. I didn't know for sure that I could cope with that differently. I was like how you know he just I'm surprised by the fact that he ended our marriage. What do I know about what I'm doing? Right, I may be on my way to a real like, because one of the things that I had discovered before when I looked back at my relapse was that there were lots of other signs that told me I was on my way to relapsing, right, and it was the same In this case, or you know, I felt that I needed to do that due diligence and really figure out what did I miss here and what am I not knowing about what's going on with me, that this could happen?

Speaker 2:

And you know, when I drink it's bad. I first got sober when I was 19 years old and by then I had already been institutionalized multiple times, had alcoholic hepatitis and a bleeding ulcer, right. So it's like I'm a serious drinker and a garbage head. With drugs I'll just take anything, anything. And when I had my relapse all the terrible things that happened to me before except for the hepatitis and the ulcer but I had very similar terrible experiences, only they happened faster and harder and I thought, oh Lord, if I relapse again, what's going to happen? Now? One of the things that they say is that your disease progresses even if you're not drinking. So if you're drinking in your 20s and you're, whatever, having trouble making class, you know, in your 40s you're going to. You could be right immediately into daily drinking, not able to do anything else, right. So the disease progresses.

Speaker 1:

I think that that's really powerful, that you were seeking wellness but you just were getting sicker. If you were to remember I mean you talked about this shift from thinking what is wrong with me to what is right with me, what am I good at? Which? I've gone through that similar shift because thinking what is wrong with me right, you already said you go down that rabbit hole and then everything is wrong with me. And then it's really important when you shift and you start to look at what is good with me, what am I, what do I feel good at, what do I like about myself that starts to shift. You say you have a takeaway for one, takeaway for anyone considering self-help. What would you encourage people from your experience to do if they're seeking wellness so that they don't get sicker?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's just that Look for what you're doing right on a regular basis. Look at what's right with the world, look at what's right with relationships and go toward that. Don't get caught up in the belief that you can or should fix a problem right. So this was again going back to relationships, really useful in my relationship, because when you first meet someone, you may notice, oh boy, they do this or they do that that you may not be accustomed to or might even not like that much. Well, if you get focused on that, that's what you're going to see. You're going to be thinking about that bear in the room, right?

Speaker 1:

It is so true, yes.

Speaker 2:

You could look over there at all of the other wonderful things, because you know that you have bears of your own right.

Speaker 1:

Right. That's really helpful and very timely for me because I have been in the inquiry really solidly over the last even just two weeks of how much I do tend to focus on what is wrong than what is right. And it has to do for me with the stress in my life or when I'm not prioritizing self-care and time. You know, time for reflection and I get into just do mode. You know I just like I just got to keep going and moving forward, getting all the things done. Then I tend to fall into that a little bit quicker of looking at everything that's wrong. So I really appreciate even this as another reminder in my life to be focusing on that which is good, that which is right and going in that direction. So that is really helpful. So how can people get your book? Once it comes out on the 26th, they can pre-order it, right? They?

Speaker 2:

can pre-order. But if I could really quickly just touch on the whole self-care thing, because one of the things that I did was I put together a quiz of all of these different styles of meditation and I go through this sort of list of questions to help you gauge what might be your most optimal style of meditation I can link to that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'll definitely put a link to that, but because the idea is really to make that time, but make it something that's not torture, right? If staying in silent meditation is torture to you, then don't do it.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

There are lots of types of meditation and for me that was like what I can do something else the book you're right, it's coming out September 26. It's available for pre-order everywhere. I can send you a link because I'm also going to offer, for anyone who pre-orders a book, a workshop called Unstick your Magic Past. Risks for the Eyes, because I was going to call it something else, but then you can't really say that.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I know you're going with that.

Speaker 2:

Right. So I created this workshop. It's an hour and a half Zoom that I'll give to help move through and move past creative blockages, and it's really for anybody, whether you're a writer. But you will come away with fresh ideas to use in business, in life, in writing projects, in movie projects, whatever it is, and I have a link I can give you for that. They're both off my website, llkurshnercom. That will help get pre-orders going. You can pre-order from there and then come back and register to be in the workshop.

Speaker 1:

That's great. We'll have all of those links in the show notes. So go pre-order her book, because then you get this free workshop and I think that even if you're not feeling stuck, anything to get those creative juices flowing can serve you. Whether you're doing something that you would define as creative or not, life is creative. So even busting through blocks that are keeping you from creating and stepping into the life that you want to live, this could help with that. So please go pre-order her book and sign up for that webinar. It sounds amazing. This has been really insightful. I love everything. Your story is very inspiring and has really helped me in a lot of ways connect certain areas of my life to create some more flow and healing within it.

Speaker 2:

That is a beautiful thing, and I will also send you a link to the free five-day storytelling course. So if you want to work on that, it does get doled out over five days, but it's exercises you can do in 15 to 20 minutes to really come up with narratives around things that might be bothering you, because it's those untold stories that can drive our actions. To work in this, I would say that's a form of self-care.

Speaker 1:

Right there, journaling and moving through blocks in your mind and getting things out on paper is a form of self-care which I define as just a connection to self is just the time that you take every day or three times a week to just say how am I doing, what's going on with me, what's happening, how can I better support myself and advocate for myself. So this sounds like a perfect course. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. Until next time we are communicating in the conversation about relationship. Diversity is what helps us create a space of inclusivity and acceptance together. The more comfortable and normal it is to acknowledge the vast and varied relating we all do, the faster we'll shift to a paradigm of conscious, intentional and diverse relationships. New episodes are released every Thursday. Stay connected with me through my website, carryjarrislowcom, instagram or TikTok. Stay curious.

Speaker 1:

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Speaker 1:

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Speaker 1:

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Exploring Relationship Diversity Through Storytelling
Exploring Polyamory and Self-Discovery
Exploring Radical Honesty and Cult Experiences
Self-Care and Seeking Wellness Importance
Transformative Relationship Reprogramming Intensive