What We Really Need to Learn from Leonard and Marianne

Over the weekend,  I decided to take a sabbatical from dancing and seek my own muse related to love and relationships.  Mercury retrograde forced me to pause on editing my book and I thought that the inspiration about the great lyricist, Leonard Cohen would be just the ticket to helping me access my creativity.  Leonard and Marianne is billed as a documentary about a love that lasts a lifetime.  Perfect! 

And then reality hit when I took out my cell phone in the middle of the movie to check the time.

The documentary was more about Leonard’s artistic prowess and Marianne’s insecurities.  It should have been a story of empowerment and strength by one of the most powerfully inspiring female creative role models of our time.  As annoyed as I was by the way the story was told, I wasn’t surprised. We have love affairs with the creative genius who can’t quite commit to the love of his life, often dismissing the gifts and skills of the “other” romantic partner as insignificant in comparison.

We have this love affair because we don’t really understand what a soulmate actually is nor do we understand what a real muse is.  

A soulmate doesn’t always last a lifetime, they show up to rip you apart and force you to heal your toxic insecurity. There is little doubt that both Leonard and Marianne had a lot of work to do in that area and, fortunately for both of them - they recognized the opportunity. Their legacy, provides some of the most important lessons on love and relationships.  This, unfortunately, was not fully explored in the documentary as, like our culture, the filmmaker gets distracted by Leonard’s career and drug use and fails to pull back the curtain to fully see the genius in Marianne.

Difference Between Using a Woman and Inspiration by a Muse

Throughout the entire documentary, Marianne is called Leonard’s “muse.”  We are familiar with the term. Most of our greatest artists have credited their greatest life work to a muse - usually a woman.  Many have claimed that the experience of love won and then lost and perhaps won again is the greatest artistic inspiration there is.  Perhaps it still is but I suggest that we begin to take a look at the difference between a creative genius taking the energy of a person whom he deems as his muse versus the genius of being in the presence of true creative inspiration.  For example, I would argue that Picasso’s women were anything but muses. He sought out young and beautiful women who did not have the gifts of true creative inspiration.  He often left them broken, angry, and in one case, with a tale of unflattering stories that was published in the form of a memoir.  He left his family devastated due to his narcissism. His granddaughter, Marina, reported that Picasso:

“... submitted them to his animal sexuality, tamed them, bewitched them, ingested them, and crushed them onto his canvas. After he had spent many nights extracting their essence, once they were bled dry, he would dispose of them.”

Picasso is NOT the story of an artist using muses - he was a predator that stole the beauty from others and used it for his own selfish purposes.  

Leonard and Marianne’s story is quite different. It shows it can all be done with a type of love that transcends time.

Where did the term muse come from?

In Greek mythology, there are technically 9 different muses, whose job was to be the holder of different artistic talents.  They were the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory.  Muses were not only beautiful but had the healing power of transformation.  When their powers were bestowed upon a mortal, it is said that this person presents as drastically different from others who simply want to take from the artist.  The muse Clio, is often shown holding a scroll or books. Her job was to make artists famous. She was a source of inspiration to poets.  

If we had to choose which ancient Greek muse Marianne represented, Clio would come to mind.  There is little doubt in my mind that Leonard never would have become who he was without the incubation and transformation he went through as a writer and a man while living with Marianne in Hydra.  Her creative inspiration was powerful enough to encourage a man, still stuck in the academic notion that he would become a novelist, to change direction. Had it not been for her and his need to seek out money to take care of his family, he would not have been motivated to seek a new direction.  Couple this with a break down following a major literary failure, it is clear that Marianne was part of Leaonard’s spiritual and creative awakening.  

True muses are not just beautiful, they often have gifts that we simply do not acknowledge as equally important to the creative process. Marianne possessed the warmth and unwavering support that a struggling artist needs to breakthrough to the next level of success. From the outside, they are usually recognized as the one romantic relationship that does not succumb to the stardom of the artist.  Marianne was described as “different” in the film and boy was she ever.

Marianne was the epitome of the real deal

Marianne was a genius in the realm of creative inspiration and yet, like most women, sacrificed her true gift and talent to solely romantic love.  I hate to think how many world class artists this woman could have inspired to move past their fear and step on to the stage of greatness if she realized that was actually her purpose in the world! She inspired others by simply being who she was and that is a powerful gift to share! Unfortunately, her self doubts and insecurities interfered with her own ability, at least at a young age, to see her powerful gift.

Marianne’s greatness will always be clouded by Leonard’s great success and the story that he tells, through his music, of their great love.  The documentary starts off doing a relatively good job trying to find the balance in the love story between the two - one that starts with Marianne ending the karmic relationship with her first husband, novelist Axel Jensen, who abandoned her and their son for another woman.  

Marianne’s Wound

Marianne’s real story and lesson for all of us started in childhood.  A creative soul in an uncreative family, she early on stated that she wanted to be an actress but without the support of her family, she abandoned her dream.  Like so many young, sensitive women whose soul’s have been crushed by well meaning family members, she did what you could to find your freedom in the 1960s - you left and found yourself in an expat, artistic community.  You left and got married to the first person artistic soul you find.

Her own soul was trying to force her to fly.  Her doomed relationship, as all karmic ones are, was trying to teach the lesson - that she could squelch herself into mediocrity or she could realize that she was probably the one true artistic talent among a bunch of men who benefited from her creative energy.  Dealing with loss, heartbreak and a lack of support, it is easy to get swept away in a love affair with a true artistic genius. I believe, and the documentary argues, that Leonard was there to heal her soul - something that he did for almost a decade before they both realized, in the shadow of his fame, that the relationship could go no further. Leonard wasn’t ready and Marianne knew she needed more support.  It is unfortunate that the film does not go deeper into these aspects of the relationship - there is so much for the rest of us to learn from these details!

At the officially ending of their relationship, it really was supposed to be Marianne’s time to realize that while Leonard was a soulmate, his job was to encourage her to also take the chances on her dreams.  Leonard didn’t seem to understand that his role could have been more active in encouraging her creativity and pushing her to face her fears. Life took over. Unfortunately, with a son who was struggling, her duties as a mother came first and Leonard had moved on to another long term relationship. Marianne sought stability in what the documentary kept calling an “ordinary” life.  And in this one life decision, Marianne’s gift would never be shared with the world again. Rather than fight for what she really wanted, she got stuck in the shadow side of her soul purpose and ran away. She could have been the rebel with a cause and really have shown Leonard what he was missing out on - but she was unable to face the fears and got swept away by the responsibilities of life. This is what happens to many of our true creative souls.

It is always one thing to look at these relationships and realize what the purpose of them are in our lives.  Soulmates does not mean forever in the traditional sense. We trap ourselves into definitions of what a relationship is supposed to look like - often causing deep pain and sorrow.  I believe that the relationship with Leonard broke her in many ways. His inability to fully commit his attention to her must have been deeply painful and yet profoundly spiritual. There is little doubt that these two were supposed to have met, it simply breaks my heart that Marianne didn’t see her own artistic genius and own her ability to inspire creativity in all of us.  She was supposed to learn and incubate herself as well. She never fully got that chance to do so with other artists and I can only hope that she produced a beautiful body of work with her painting that the wold, one day, will be able to see.

Why We All Needed Marianne

Marianne was the creative inspiration we all need and still need.  Never someone who needed to be in the spotlight, she was a woman who did her best to live life on her own terms and in her own way.  She did not follow the rules but yet succumbed to them in the end. Mediocrity rather than true exquisiteness snuck in simply because her view on two of the most significant relationships of her life may have been focused on the pain and not believing in herself.  A karmic relationship breaks you and a soulmate shows you what love is. Perhaps her real victory was in living the rest of her life in the stability of a healthy and happy marriage. We don’t know yet. But if she had channeled what she learned from those relationships and realized her capacity for true creative inspiration, our entire world would have been a better place.  Had she shown up in her true exquisite power - that love story may have turned out very differently. Leonard needed a woman truly committed to her soul purpose and unafraid to take the risks to move him out of his own spiritual narcissism. Marianne needed a spiritual warrior with the strength to help her move past her fears about being the true creative rebel.  

Marianne’s Lesson For Us All

Marianne was the real deal - Leonard was just the genius who recognized it. Let’s make sure we don’t miss those exquisite diamonds standing behind those in the spotlight again.  Let’s reach out to support them in moving past their own fears. A true muse for a creative genius is not the person who sits idly looking beautiful, it is the person that consciously brings the gift of creative transformation.  That is Marianne’s legacy. We could all learn from Leonard and Marianne that it takes not just talent to rise to the top but openness to true love to transcend mediocrity to open the door to greatness. 

Why Being Single is a Gift in Disguise

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” - Marilyn Monroe

From Breakup to Breakthrough

Through the years, I have worked with many clients who sought to get over a breakup and “move on” as quickly as possible.  The thinking is that if we wallow in our pain for too long, we will miss opportunities. As I have gone through my healing journey, with the last portion of it as a single woman, I can tell you that being single allows you to explore what it is you need without sacrificing your spiritual and emotional development for the needs of someone else.  In fact, I believe that all parents and married couples who go through a spiritual awakening while in relationships should be given a medal - it is the most exhausting, taxing and emotional experience one can go through!  

If on the other hand, you start the process while you are single, you can not only grieve the part of you that is not currently in a relationship, you can begin to actually get to know yourself.  It is in the process of re-discovering who you really are that will eventually lead you to the RIGHT relationship.  

As I talk about extensively in my forthcoming book, Toxic Insecurity, the estimates of how much trauma our culture has experienced are astounding.  Add in that you may carry the trauma of your family through the generation and the estimates of who has been touched by trauma skyrocket.  Conservatively we are looking at 50-60% of the population. In other words, we all have a lot of healing and emotional work to do before we meet the right person.  

Growth Not Perfection

Does this mean that we need to be perfectly healed before we get into a relationship?  Absolutely not. It does, however, mean learning to not abandon yourself in a relationship so that you can continue on your journey.  Many of the relationships along the way will be karmic in nature - they will appear to help you with your spiritual development and push you along your path.  It is, however, your responsibility to learn to recognize the signs that someone is choosing to join you on that path or is not ready. This is where many of us get caught on our journey and why being single rather than married to the wrong person is truly a blessing in disguise.

Our culture teaches us to be attracted to narcissistic people.  They display a false sense of confidence, they are usually financially successful and they appear to run the world.  Underneath the exterior, however, is someone who could never meet our emotional needs because they struggle to even identify or own their own.  Narcissists appear to teach you valuable lessons along your journey. If you are paying attention, you will quickly learn that these personalities are attracted to you and your rising light simply because they have an unconscious wish to do the same but are actively choosing to not do the work. 

A Narcissist is your Opportunity

How many times have you thought that someone was NOT a narcissist because you saw potential in them?  I have. And while those people may not meet criteria for a personality disorder, the self-involved behavior is a sign of emotionally unavailability.  It does not matter for what reason, it simply signals that this person - even if you have had past lives together - is not ready in this current life to wake up and assist you in your growth.  It is this realization and learning that make karmic relationships vitally important for our overall development.

Some of us, however, are not so lucky.  We married the narcissist and may be going through a nasty divorce.  We may have married the narcissist, divorced, and refused to do our work so we ended up marrying another one.  Taking the time in your single status to actively work through your spiritual and emotional development is the only way to stop the merry-go-round of toxic relationships.  

When you are single, you can choose to go on a retreat.  You can choose to go to therapy. You can choose to go to yoga or a healer.  You can choose to meditate. You can choose to spend time with like minded friends.  You can choose all of these avenues of healing without fear that someone you are responsible for is going to disapprove.  

So why is it that so many of my single clients simply refuse to continue living via the status quo? 


You have spent your whole life being told by your family, community and culture that being brave and doing what it is you need to do to take care of yourself is a stupid idea.  You’ve been taught to value your finances over your emotional and mental health. You have been taught to value status over taking a radical inventory of what you actually value in life.  Stepping away from everything you have ever known to give yourself the space for a reboot is not easy. I have, however, looked at my client’s successes and realized that the ones who are ready to embrace their exploratory nature and take chances, are the ones rewarded with finding their soul purpose AND a life partner.  

I promise it can be done.  I’ve done it on more than one occasion!

Staying in Line While Dating Online 

Ever since I was old enough to understand crushes and relationships, I have relied on any and every sign that could point me towards how my relationships were going to unfold. From Linda Goodman’s zodiac sagacity to the hundreds of Cosmopolitan quizzes, anything that I thought would calm my nerves was always scattered on my desktop. By the time I reached my twenties and started pursuing the men I had swiped right on, I was perplexed by how to quickly ascertain the data I needed to make the best decisions in my love life.. Surely the actual stories of these men were deeper than the modest amounts of information on their dating profiles. I mean I’m not sure that the fish they held with heavy pride, quotes derived from popular/ rap music, and/ or links to their creative instagram pages were all that helpful? Several dates, many drinks and a few failed relationships later, I decided it was time to figure out how to  extract the information that I needed in less than ten dates. While I’m still trying to find my Mr. Perfect online, I thought I would share my step-by-step guide to tackling the real Tinder experience.

Eject the Stigma

Just because you’re on a date with a stranger from a dating app, it does not make you any less than your girlfriend who met her love in a cafe or amusement park. Congratulate yourself for expanding your horizons and for putting yourself out there. The judgement from society can wait! Enjoy that rush of adrenaline and wash it down with some wine.

Leave your Rating Scale Behind

You’re nervous, you’re excited, you’re scared. Don’t worry!  I guarantee he is too! It doesn’t matter what either of you are looking for- you’re doing it together- as absolute strangers! If he dropped a fry or spilled a cup of water, give him a chance to clean his mess before you bring out the judgement police within you. I, too, once tried to end a date as soon as he spilled his wine on himself.  Thank goodness I didn’t! After all, my patience was rewarded not only by a pity glass of wine from the waiter, but also a great conversation towards the end of my night with him.

Your Past Doesn’t Predict your Future and Neither Does His!

Talking about all your missed connections will probably ensure you miss this one too. Moreover, asking him about his horrible Tinder experiences will not prevent him from using your date as an anecdote for his next one. Be present in the moment and focus on what he brings to the table. Discussing your pasts will only make room for biases and preconceived notions that will end up driving your date towards a dead end.

The Sun and the Mood Can Guide you but It Isn’t a Magical Formula

Every date with a stranger has always brought up one very important question in my mind:“Is his sun sign vicious? Does his rising sign guard behaviors that I can’t see? Oh god- I hope he’s not a Gemini!” While all these factors can tell you the overall strengths and weaknesses of his character, we have to exert some patience.  Why are we so hasty to want to know the end point before we even begin the uncovering process? Where’s the chase? In the end, their zodiac can’t really prove if they’ll make you a mean steak on your next date! (Actually, their sun signs will never give you an accurate picture at all. You would need todo a full birth chart analysis and I’m not sure that’s really appropriate for a first date!)

In Conclusion…

They say there are many fish in the sea. Reeling in too tight will put you at risk of snapping your line, losing out on possibly the biggest catch of your life! Hook, line and sinker with all your heart! The only control you have over the process is the quality of bait you show up with on your date! Don’t worry about how they come off, just give them the best version of you!. Online dating, like all other kinds of dating, is a trial and error affair- you’ll find what you find as soon as you get out of your head and into the present moment! So go tinker with Tinder and socialize like the Bumble bee you are! You never know who you are going to meet!

We need not feel ashamed of flirting with the zodiac. The zodiac is well worth flirting with.
— D. H. Lawrence

Soulmates, Karmic Relationships, and Intuition: What Love is Really About

The only real valuable thing is intuition. – Albert Einstein

Being born and raised in New York meant that I was raised in a family that valued intelligence, business, and type A ness over intuition.  There is nothing wrong with these things of course.  Yet, so many of us are sensitive souls who struggle to survive a childhood of feeling like our natural gifts are not valued.  We want to fit in and live the life our friends covet.  Marriage, family, and the white picket fence is a dream that so many Americans strive for.  It is a great dream but it is not for all of us.

I was fifteen when I realized that what I wanted in my 30s was different from my friends’ dreams.  They wanted to be married with four children.  I wanted to travel.  I wanted to live a much more exploratory life.  I did not want to marry young.  I wanted the guy who would do both of those things with me.  So when my college boyfriend of 6 years told me he didn’t think I should go to graduate school and we should think about getting married, I said no.

We can’t predict the future of our dating lives.  We can’t predict whom we are going to meet.  We can, however, change our perception and mindset around the whole process.  We can learn to appreciate everyone we meet along the way, thank them for the lessons that we learn, and open ourselves up to a love we never knew could exist.

At this stage in my life, I have had a soulmate and more than one karmic relationship.  My college boyfriend was definitely a soulmate.  Had we met later in life, things may have turned out differently.  Yet, to this day, he has been one of the most important relationships in my life.  He was always supportive, emotionally grounded, and the epitomy of a great man.  I feel so grateful that he has set the tone for dating in my adult life.  He will not be the only soulmate I have but I am grateful for the lessons I learned about love at such an early age.

Karmic relationships, on the other hand, are some of the most painful lessons we need to learn.  I and I expect you as well, have at least one of these relationships show up.  They are often intense, all consuming and intensely painful.  Yet, they are the biggest lessons and the mirror that we need to be brave enough to look in to see where our healing needs to take place.  It has taken me many years to heal from the heartache of not marrying the man I thought I was going to in my late 20s.  Today, I’m grateful that the relationship did not go further and am grateful that he chose to end it.  I had a tremendous amount of work to do and my healing would not have happened if I was not pushed to my breaking point.

I have always been intuitive.  In all of my relationships, I have known that something was off or not right.  When we are younger, we tend to ignore our intuition in favor of our mind.  We think that by being logical we can spare ourselves from the pain.  We think that by having a checklist and sticking to it will help us find the love of our life.  We believe that we have full control over our relationship destiny.  In reality, we are often presented with options but really miss the opportunities.  Today we spend all our time swiping, using our mind to decide who our next date will be rather than simply being and feeling.  Letting go of the control of our love lives is not an easy thing to do.

We hire dating coaches, matchmakers, and other professionals because we believe we are doing something wrong or do not feel like we have the time to do the search ourselves.  The truth is, we don’t need to work so hard.  We need to follow our intuition, build a life that is representative of who we really are and wait for the right people to show up.  Yet, too many of us wear the mask of what our culture tells us is the right thing for us and few of us are really brave enough to become who we really are.

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover. – Albert Einstein

If you think you are brave enough to become who you are really meant to be, I want to hear from you.  Those of you who are willing to explore your personal growth, examine your single life and make concerted effort to create the alignment that makes your soul sing, are the clients and future coaches I want to work with.  Learning to live via your intuition means letting go of the illusion of safety that your mind creates.

I never thought that I would be a relationship expert.  Then one day I woke up and realized that my life’s purpose is to help others stop judging themselves about a bad date, stop blaming other people for dating hiccups and begin to wake up to the lessons and the opportunities that are staring them in the face.  Every day is a beautiful opportunity to be open to receive your next soulmate.  Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way and realize that love is not something that can be owned but something that is experienced.