Drs. Ruth Schwartz & Michelle Murrain (PhD)
Michelle Murrain, Ph.D. and Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D., are a joyful lesbian couple who recently celebrated eight years together. After making their own long, difficult journey to lasting love, they founded Conscious Girlfriend (www.consciousgirlfriend.com) to help other lesbians and queer women find, create and sustain the happy, healthy intimate relationships we all want and deserve!
Although life experience has been one of our greatest teachers, we also have professional credentials:
Ruth has been a writer, healer and teacher for over three decades. She has a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Writing. She is also a Board-certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with extensive training in Focusing, shamanism and energy medicine. She’s had a private healing practice since 2003, and is the author of seven books, including Soul on Earth: A Guide to Living & Loving Your Human Life. Ruth has taught at six colleges and universities, and is currently on faculty in the Ashland University low-residency graduate creative writing program.
Michelle has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Case Western Reserve University, and a Certificate in Theological Studies from the Pacific School of Religion. She taught Biology at Hampshire College for ten years, and she is a long-time practitioner of contemplative spirituality, both in Buddhist and Christian traditions. She’s also a multi-genre writer and blogger who has published eight science fiction novels.
Michelle & Ruth live in Northern California with their funny little cat, Zaaluk.
The Reason I Became A Helping Professional
We’re passionate about helping women become "conscious girlfriends," because we've found that that's essential to building and maintaining relationships that are deeply intimate, passionate and joyful – relationships that “just work,” rather than feeling like a lot of work.
Why “conscious?” Because becoming more conscious – more observant, more aware, more thoughtful – about what happens both inside of you, and between you and your girlfriend – is a huge first step to becoming able to create your relationship destiny!
Let me - Ruth - speak more personally now. Before I became a “conscious girlfriend,” I felt as if my relationship life – and therefore, a huge percentage of my happiness – was at the mercy of forces that seemed outside my control. These forces included not only who I happened to meet, and how available she was or wasn’t, but even my own moods – which often seemed to move through me like gale winds, sometimes leaving wreckage behind.
Of course, I couldn’t control my girlfriends (and I still can’t!) But I have realized that I do have a great deal of influence over what happens in my intimate relationship. Here’s what I now know:
1. I can choose who I become – and remain – involved with, based on her relationship skills and commitments (and I don’t mean just what she says about those skills baby dyke polaroidand commitments, but what I observe her actually doing. Chemistry does matter, but it’s nowhere near enough to create a relationship that works.
2. I can also choose, myself, to develop the relationship skills and commitments that make a relationship work. I can choose how I respond to my own emotions and moods, and learn to go within to center myself – and even heal myself – when my “stuff” comes up, rather than causing damage to my relationship and partner.
3. I can choose to build more trust and intimacy by deliberately SHAREing with my partner and myself. (SHARE is the Conscious Girlfriend formula for building intimacy. It stands for See, Hear, Adore [or at least Accept], Respect, and Embody. Who among us doesn’t long to be seen, heard, adored and respected – and to have our partners embody all of that in relation to us?) By saying and doing things that help Michelle know I see, her, adore, accept and respect her, I help make our connection strong enough to see us through whatever hard times may come up. (And by the same token, I also nourish our connection by refraining from saying or doing things that are hurtful, critical, blaming or controlling.)
4. I can choose to take responsibility for the difficult feelings that our conflicts bring up in me, rather than blaming my partner for them. This, too, works like magic. When I can bring up my concerns from a place of self-responsibility, Michelle can hear me and respond in kind. This gives both of us a chance to come to better understand ourselves and each other – and then to actually heal our conflicts, rather than be divided by them.
In other words – being conscious is all about having more choices – and making the choices that bring me happiness, rather than drama, fights and heartbreak!
“But aren’t relationships always hard work?” you might ask. Well, yes and no. Building a house takes effort, but it’s much easier when you’ve studied carpentry, plumbing, electricity and roofing. I haven’t, so if I were to try to build a house, it would be incredibly difficult and the results would be dismal. I could toil for years and still not even have a structure that could keep me warm and dry, much less a beautiful home. (And that’s pretty much what my love life used to be like.)
But when you’re a knowledgeable builder, you can create a solid house quite quickly, and you can also probably sing, rather than curse, as you build it! (And that’s pretty much what my love life is like now.)
Building a relationship is something like building a house, now that I think of it. To create the foundation, we need tools for establishing connection. Love and compassion make the walls; self-knowledge gives us a floor to walk on, and intimacy-building communication keeps the roof over our heads. We might equate conflict management skills with plumbing; if you don’t have ‘em, let’s just say the shit will definitely build up! And the light, the power, the zing, the “electricity,” comes from being able to maintain our separate selves even as we join together.
Okay, so maybe I’m stretching the metaphor a bit thin. But the truth is, we do need all the above skills and qualities in order to create and sustain a really happy lesbian relationship – and few of us have them at the beginning of our relationship lives (I certainly didn’t.) It took me many years, and a lot of broken hearts – both my own, and those of my partners – before I could build and live in a “house” made of love. But I could’ve learned a whole lot sooner if someone had offered me the map that we’re offering you!
That’s why we hope you’ll check out our membership program (the most affordable way to get our support – and meet other conscious girlfriends, too!), our amazing upcoming retreat (a vacation and transformation in one package!), and our coaching (the most direct and focused way to work with us, to get you to the love life you want, fast.)
Whatever you’re struggling with, we’ve been there, in one way or another – and we can help you get where you want to go!
Membership Program: www.consciousgirlfriend.com/membership
"Art of Lesbian Love" Retreat: www.consciousgirlfriend.com/retreats
A lot of women focus on just meeting the right woman – and feel frustrated, or like there’s nothing else they can do until that happens. But the truth is, there is a ton you can do both to make that meeting more likely, and to make sure you’ll be the right woman, as well as meet her!
The sad truth is that if you don’t take steps to develop new skills and ways of being, your old patterns are likely to repeat… and repeat… and repeat, no matter who you meet.
But once you learn how to be a conscious girlfriend, a whole different lesbian relationship world can open up for you. You won’t have to struggle any more with fear of rejection, because you’ll be so much more connected to yourself. And that same self-connection will help you attract women who are truly ready and available for love – and help you build intimacy with them once you meet them.
Before we met – at ages 45 and 47 – Michelle and I had each already traveled a distance on the road to becoming a “conscious girlfriend,” and we’ve continued that journey together. Without it, there’s no way our relationship would have survived, much less become the deeply joyful, intimate blessing it is today.
So, eight years in, we decided to share what we’d learned with other members of our community – and that’s how Conscious Girlfriend was born.
Drs. Ruth Schwartz & Michelle Murrain
Spiritual, but no affiliation
Drs. Ruth Schwartz & Michelle Murrain
Determined case-by-case, please inquire