It was one of those magical encounters with a personal truth—you know how it feels. I was fifteen, in ninth-grade English. The teacher, Mr. Rizzutto, read us a poem, and it had such a profound effect on me that even five decades later, I’m still using it as a guide. The poem, “Outwitted,” by Edwin Markham, is simple:
He drew a circle that shut me out;
Heretic; rebel; a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
Learning to apply it in my life has not been simple, but it has been amazingly educational and rewarding. This book is about drawing the circle with love.
There was a time when life seemed very hard, so hard I tried not to think about it.. Several times I helped to destroy some very viable relationships. Changing myself, my life and my loves has been very exciting and fulfilling, yet I am still growing. This book is intended to help you reach your desired destination on your own journey and make your hard places a little easier.
The most powerful technique I’ve learned is to be gentle with myself, and to appreciate every baby step I take. It’s from this appreciation and celebration of myself that I draw the energy and enthusiasm I need. From it comes my motivation to grow and to achieve more. From it also comes the trust that allows me more and more to live life as I find it, without needing to make it fit my plan.
I hope the information in this book will help you to be gentle with yourself and others and to help you celebrate. The information and exercises are intended to help you understand what works for you and your partner, and to help you create something wonderful together.
Throughout the process of becoming more conscious and aware of myself, which began for me in about 1970, the important changes did not happen in great blinding flashes or dramatic moments in important workshops. Rather, they came in small, significant insights gained as I sat alone and pondered the ideas of my teachers in relationship to the facts of my life. Such a moment happened early in my marriage, as I was attempting to sort out a difficulty between my husband Richard and myself.
We were having trouble entertaining. It was awkward, irritating and difficult. It never went smoothly. I had recently been in two long-lasting roommate situations, two years with Annie and two years with Ron, just before getting married. In both situations, entertaining had been fun and easy, right from the start. Why was it so difficult now? Why was a sexual relationship so much more difficult than my roommate situations? Ron and Annie and I had entertained with such style. Aha! Style! That was it! I didn’t know what Richard’s and my style was! And sex did play a part: because of the intimacy of our relationship, I hadn’t asked or observed or discovered Richard’s style the way I had with my roommates. Instead, I had assumed I knew him.