Launching Sexology.com – I was interviewed for Playgirl Magazine!!

Sexology
In Bed With Catherine Oxenberg
Interview by Nicole Caldwell

It’s surprising, to say the least. In a world where many consider feminism passe—where you can purchase a vibrator or dildo just as easily as you can a pair of shoes—roughly one-third of all women have never experienced an orgasm. In 2014, a half-century after the so-called sexual revolution, women are still very much strangers to their own bodies. Unable to access our own innate sexual energy, we allow sexuality to be equated with promiscuity, ejaculation with penises, and sex itself with intercourse and penetration.

Armed with disturbing sexual data and determined to unlock the key to feminine sexual energy, Catherine Oxenberg (“Dynasty”, “Acapulco H.E.A.T.”, the soon-to-be released Sleeping Beauty) and Gabrielle Anwar (“Burn Notice”, Scent of a Woman) sought out sexual experts, tantric masters, researchers, and everyday women to create a documentary and website devoted to the discussion of female sexuality and the revelation of feminism’s greatest potential. Sexology launched its website in January (sexology.com), which features full-length, uncut interviews from the documentary and resources such as films and literature to educate and entertain on topics of other-worldly sexual experiences. The Sexology documentary film, edited by two-time Oscar-nominated editor for The King’s Speech and American Beauty, Tariq Anwar (also Gabrielle Anwar’s father), is scheduled for release this summer.

We sat down with Catherine Oxenberg to get her take on the state of female sexuality, her own sexual journey, and the story of how this daughter to a Yugoslavian princess, actress, and sex symbol came to be the poster woman for women harnessing their innate sexual power.

PLAYGIRL: Why do you feel, in 2013, that the world needs a documentary about vaginas, female orgasms, and achieving one’s “deepest bliss”?
CATHERINE Oxenberg: Quite simply, why wouldn’t we? Sexual energy is nothing more than life force. Once one learns to harness this energy intelligently, one has access to an infinite wellspring of vitality, joy, and a sense of inner coherence and well-being. Stress and exhaustion are replaced with effortlessness and ease. In the words of Dr. William Masters [preeminent gynecologist and senior member of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team], “Sex is unchartered territory…no one knows anything about sex.” Sadly, more than 60 years later, not much has changed. Sexual illiteracy is still rampant. We still have no idea what our bodies are capable of, and how mastery of bodies can bring one the deepest sense of purpose, fulfillment, confidence, and joy.

What about this project has resonated with you on a personal level?
Everything. This project is my personal journey of discovery. On one hand, I believed that i had a great sex life. On the other hand, I had a persistent, nagging belief that there was supposed to be something more. When I first experienced my entire body as orgasmic, it completely changed my reality. I experienced countless orgasms from every part of my body: fingers, hand, nose, mouth, upper palate, heart… Literally, my genitals could retire. It made the concept of “multi-orgasmic” seem comical. I looked back at my history of short-lasting, tension clitoral orgasms and they seemed like junk food. Extended, deep states of pleasure were rewiring and healing my nervous system. It occurred to me that orgasmic energy was meant to be cultivated, harnessed, and channeled; not just for recreational purposes, but for health, prosperity, vitality, radiance, anti-aging, purpose, alignment, joy, passion, and creativity. This revelation had such a profound effect on me, that I had to share this with the world. I wanted to shout from turrets and rooftops: “We have not been using this incredible resource correctly!”

Regardless of how much success i had in other areas of my life, I was always plagued by a persistent belief that i was defective in some way because i could rarely achieve orgasm during penetration. I now understand that there was nothing wrong with my hardware; there had only been a glitch in my software. That problem was correctable. All women are fully orgasmic, they just don’t know it yet. Ultimately, through our research, we have discovered that a woman does not even need sex to experience her full orgasmic potential. We are orgasmic beings: “orgasmicness” is an expression of “bursting with the fulness of life”. We just need to be given permission to surrender to our truest essence. We need to know it is okay to feel pleasure. Every single woman who has accompanied me on this journey has had similar, extraordinary, life-changing breakthroughs.

In what ways will your work on this project change the way you view your own sexuality?
I had been treating my body with about as much finesse as a chimpanzee banging a tambourine; when in fact, I am—we all are—a Stradivarius violin. A highly refined instrument, capable of playing the most complex symphonies; not just a one-note wonder. I am ashamed to admit that i knew so little about my network of arousal and my own anatomy.

Of all you’ve learned doing these interviews, what has been the most shocking?
So many things! One, how little is known about female sexuality and the female genitals. Two, that ejaculation and orgasm are two separate reflexes for men and women. The four-phase androcentric sexual model (developed by Masters and Johnson) ending in male ejaculation (conveniently) is ass-backwards because sex is not linear! Women are the ones who are supposed to ejaculate (frequently!)—not men! The Taoists say, “You should never sail up a rocky river.” This means don’t enter a woman until she has ejaculated! Merely being wet is not enough to gain entrance! Three, men can learn to have full-bodied orgasms without ejaculating every time, which means sex does not have to end so quickly—and the guy does not have to pass out in a post-coital coma. The biggest problem for men is that their their sexual energy ends up being localized in their genitals. Finding ways to move sexual energy into their hearts allows them to experience what it is like to make love versus having sex. This is something most women take for granted. Four, most women suffer from vaginal numbness. Once we heal that, the landscape of our vaginas becomes radically different; extremely sensitive, responsive, and alive. We traveled around the world, finding all the best, most effective techniques for genital massage. And five, I learned that friction fucking is passe. Those pumping pornographic demonstrations that most young men attempt to replicate on us mere mortals, are in fact damaging to our sensitive genitals—and theirs! Our sexual skills seem to have been bypassed by evolution; remaining as base and rudimentary as a caveman maniacally rubbing two pieces of flints to spark a flame. It is time to refine our skills. A full 76 percent of women admit to faking orgasm at some point, yet no man I have met admits that any woman he’s been with has faked it. All you ladies, stop faking! Our men will never learn what pleases us if we keep pretending!

What one major thing do you feel women are missing out on about their own sexuality?
To know how good it feels to be in a woman’s body. This is probably the one thing I am most passionate about. Most of us have no idea that we are a playground of heavenly delights. In fact, our power comes from our ability to generate insanely delicious states of physical ecstasy in our bodies. When we feel good, our outlook seems rosier, we become juicer, we move through the world with greater confidence and wholeness. But let me clarify: This is not about being promiscuous. This is about being in an intimate relationship with your feminine essence. One of the healers we interviewed said, “Men have muscle power and women have sexual power.” Sexual power is creative power. Women need to recognize this. When we cut off our connection to our sexual energy, it is like trying to run a car without putting gas in the engine. We restrict our ability to impact the world. Perhaps this is traditionally why men have been more successful. They did not shut down their genital generators. They somehow knew how to keep this impulse fanned. Maybe not always in the healthiest ways, but it might have been better than shutting it off, like most women do.

Why do you suppose so many women are out of touch with their own bodies and sexuality?
Probably from centuries of being burned at the stake as witches for opening their legs. I can imagine that this might have been a deterrent to exploring sexuality in a healthy way. Historically, women’s bodies have been stigmatized, their libidos demonized. Even today, we are burdened by the stigma that good girls don’t and sluts do. Women have suffered from sexual deprivation since the beginning of civilization. Hysteria—a medical term until the 1950’s—was the most prevalent diagnosis for women from the time of Plato (who coined the term). The cure for hysteria was to be sent to a doctor who would stimulate the woman’s genitals until she achieved a “hysterical paroxysm”. These women were sent to a doctor because their husbands felt it was too time-consuming and burdensome to relieve their wives themselves. Today, “Female Sexual Dysfunction”, or “Female Sexual Arousal Disorder” has replaced the diagnosis of “hysteria”, but our bodies are still being pathologized. Ladies, we do not have a dysfunction! It just comes down to a lack of understanding of our inner-workings.

You’ve spent your career in the world of television and movies. How do you think Hollywood has affected women’s senses of their own sexuality, bodies, and sex in general?
For the most part, the way sex has been portrayed in the media perpetuates the same old antiquated myths. Instant mutual climax is one of my favorites! There is hope though, with recent films like The Sessions. I am curious to see Lars Von Trier’s film, Nymphomaniac.

How do you expect Sexology to be received by the public?
I hope people will be as curious as i was, and continue to be, as my landscape of possibility just keeps on expanding. I hope men and women are ready to expand their sexual repertoires beyond grade-school education and monochromatic porn. Sex really is the final frontier!

How do you like being on the other side of the camera as a producer?
I absolutely love it! I have never had so much fun in my entire life!

Be sure to check out Sexology’s website at sexology.com. And stay tuned for the documentary film, featuring an interview with Playgirl’s own Editor-in-Chief, Nicole Caldwell.

Originally published in Spring 2014 issue of Playgirl (#67)

in defense of monogamy!

So often, I hear the same blah blah boring old story – That men are basically polygamous and that monogamy is unnatural. In these peoples’ view, marriage is the most unnatural arrangement of all. And I nash my teeth in despair!

The standard argument takes us on a well-honed journey back to ancient times from caves to tribes to harems where polygamy was the norm. Here is their proof that this is true male behavior.

And, so it seems, that women “the proverbial ball and chain”- (lovely title! NOT!) – are blamed for coercing men into a lifestyle that is abhorrent and unnatural to them.

I have never been a big fan of polygamy, as I am way too possessive and proprietary to consider sharing my man with other women, (although I have been shared without my consent and it was one of my least favorite experiences!) but last year, I had dinner with a Muslim prince when I was in Oman and I asked him to explain polygamy from a Muslim perspective. He explained it quite rationally. In the bloodthirsty times of yore, when wars were aplenty, and the Koran was freshly inked, such a huge percentage of their men were killed, leaving countless women without any hope of a husband. Mohammed felt that it would be a kindness to have the remaining men marry the unfortunate surplus of females so that they too could delight in the joys of childbearing and motherhood, and hopefully birth a new generation of virile men.

There was a strict code that was established stipulating that each woman had to be accorded the same standard of living  – there was to be no second rate wife parked in a trailer. Or third or forth! I asked the Prince if he had more then one wife. We were at dinner and only one wife had accompanied him, but the previous evening, he had been surrounded by quite a few women. I hoped not to insult him or his lovely bride, but I was consumed by curiosity. He laughed, “Oh goodness, I could not handle or afford more than one wife! In fact most of my generation opt for one wife, it gets too complicated and too expensive! They become best friends and gang up on the husband. He doesn’t stand a chance!” Apparently, those other women from the previous night had been his wife’s sisters. I sighed with relief. I wanted to shout, “welcome to the 21st century!” But I bit my tongue.

A previously poly-amorous friend of mine said that after many years of “spreading the love” she had decided that the benefits monogamy outweighed her previous lifestyle. “The only way to have depth in a relationship is with one person.”

I see monogamy as a progression of humanity’s evolution. Just because it feels unnatural, doesn’t mean that is it! It just means that it is unfamiliar compared with thousands of years of primitive behavior. I am hopeful we are moving beyond a survival-based existence.

It is a privilege to dance on this earth with your beloved, your soul mate. Together you can reach the stars, plow the depths of your souls, experience communion, and witness eternity in each other’s eyes.

I think of the Vedas – the Sacred Hindu scriptures, “Within the microcosm, lies the macrocosm.” This means that the human body is a miniature prototype of the universal body. I have had experiences where I have connected to a sense of expansiveness – not on drugs, I swear! – When I felt like the planets and the stars were within me.

If each one of us is a prototype of infinity, then how could a man tire of one woman? It could only mean that he had reached his limitation of being able to experience his own infinite nature.

Monogamy is the journey of the beloved. It is the capacity to experience the all and-the-everything through the ONE.

What could be more beautiful? What could be more of a privilege?

Just because it is challenging on a daily basis, why does that make it unnatural? To see your true self reflected back through another, to know yourself to the depth of your soul. To reach into the mystery and find the answer in your beloved. What a gift!

May you all find your beloved – unless you already have – and may they kick your butt – as they inevitably will – until you become all that you can be!

And together, may you both help each other shuck everything less then love.

My father who art in heaven, pt 2

About 20 years ago, I had a sort of vision, that at my father’s deathbed, our whole relationship would make sense and that he would reveal himself at a soul level. Even though I had dismissed this as wishful thinking at the time, I could see how that was now happening.

Dad had been on the verge of being expelled from his nursing home for his shenanigans, and then, in a strange twist of fate, his physical health took a turn for the worse. His heart almost expired and my younger sister and I, who were co-guardians, had to opt to install a pacemaker. After that, he began making frequent trips to the hospital. He became combative – again – refusing to take his meds, and lost a dramatic amount of weight. The facility decided that he was too frail to be discharged. Instead, we prepared to call in hospice care.

My eldest daughter, India, made our reservations, and without realizing it, ironically chose Father’s Day for us to fly to see him in Palm Beach. She had been the only one of my children who hadn’t seen him in his latest incarnation as ‘cute, fuzzy Grandpa’.

Although Dad was born Jewish, he had told me that he had never practiced Judaism, or any other religion, for that matter, that he considered all religions hocus pocus.  Dad used to say, “I believe in the God of Love!” – but I had a sneaky suspicion that there was more to the story of his faith then met the eye.

The Chaplain from hospice called me to discuss the denomination of Dad’s last rites. I wasn’t sure what we should do. Following a hunch, I asked him to say the ‘Shema’ to Dad – which is the most traditional Hebrew prayer – just to see Dad’s reaction. Sure enough, the Chaplain said that Dad knew the prayer and had said it with him. After 90 years, he still knew it perfectly! After hearing that, I made an executive decision to give him a Jewish send off. But when I tried to say to Shema with him over the phone, he still pretended he didn’t know what I was saying. He was maddening!

India and I showed up to the nursing home early Monday morning. Dad’s paranoia was back, full force. The nurse warned me that he had been afraid that I was coming to kill him. As soon as I walked in room, he whispered conspiratorially to me, that his aide was the one trying to kill him.

soothed him, “Dad, your aide, Lowell (actually Lowell was the aide who had been fired, after Dad had managed to slip by him and had been willingly abducted – twice – from the nursing home by greedy kidnappers – but Dad called all the subsequent aides Lowell) is actually an undercover policeman that I hired to protect you!” That seemed to calm him for a moment.

My heart sank, I had told India that she would get to see the “new Dad”, but he was gone. Managing my father’s mood swings was exhausting and took Herculean patience. I sat with him, quietly, resorting to my meditation skills, and waited, hoping for his ranting to subside.

Suddenly, he grabbed my arm, “I know what’s happening to me – I know that I’m dying and I’m afraid! Please hold me in your arms, don’t leave me a for a minute – promise me!”

I was stunned, “Of course, I promise!” Oh, my god, he knows he’s dying. In spite of the dementia, somehow he knew.

For the remainder of the day, he repeated this pattern, showering my daughter and me with love, between bouts of paranoia. It was as if he was making up for lost time, trying to heal as much as possible with us before he slipped into oblivion. He kept telling us how beautiful we were and special. “No two people have touched my heart like both of you!” He told us to treasure every day, and reminded us how blessed we were. “You don’t know how lucky you both are.” Over and over again. And we shed a lifetime of tears together.

My father was terrified of dying. I stroked his head; trying to soothe him, “Don’t be afraid, you are going to experience more love than you could ever imagine. His response – classic Dad, “It’s easy for you to say! You’re not the one who is dying!” He had a point.

On Tuesday morning, when we returned to his room, he was lying still in his bed. His face looked eerily translucent and radiated light. He looked decades younger. The room felt thick with spirit. It was almost intoxicating. Dad never spoke again, he was only able to shake or nod his head. Sporadically, he would reach with his hand and try to call out towards someone or something that I could not see. I chose to believe that he was seeing angels and dead loved ones who had come to accompany him on his journey back home.

I scrambled to call family members to let them know he was on his way out. I dialed my mother on Skype, (Mom was wife #2) holding the computer up, close to his face, so that they could say goodbye to each other. She told him that she had a dream recently, where he had come to her as a beautiful, radiant 16-year old boy. She had seen his true beauty; she had seen his radiant soul. He smiled.

The following day, I brought him a picture of his mother, and I asked him if he was ready to forgive her. He shook his head.

“Dad, honestly, not even on your deathbed?”

I wondered what that woman had done to him. He had always told us that he hated her, but had never said why. He was SO secretive!

I felt so sad for him. “Dad, whatever she did to you must have been terrible. I am so sorry.” Not wanting to make the same mistake, I asked him for his forgiveness, and I, in turn, forgave him.

I asked him to be my bridge to heaven, my connection to the other side. “We could work together as a team!”

I sang the Shema to him in Hebrew – I am a terrible singer, but somehow, it didn’t sound so bad. I had been inspired to study Judaism and Kabala for the past 2 years – now I understood why – it was probably to help my father transition.

I called in a Cantor to sing the traditional prayers and then I asked her to sing him some Jewish wedding songs. Dad seemed to come back to life and looked like he was trying to sing along. She told me that it was rather unconventional to sing wedding songs during someone’s penultimate hours, but I insisted – That would have been Dad’s sense of humor – he wouldn’t have wanted a gloomy send off! Besides, his imminent transition was a marriage of sorts – that of his soul reuniting with its Source.

Truthfully, Dad was married practically his entire life, until the last couple of years, when he had discovered that his 5th wife, 51 years his junior, had a terrible gambling habit, so he divorced her!

Finally, on Friday night, at 10:15pm, Dad left his body. The last time I saw him alive, I leant over instinctively, and whispered the Shema twice in his left ear – I don’t know what made me do that, but, later, I found out that this is exactly what you are supposed to do, right before someone of the Jewish faith dies.

My one regret is that I wasn’t in the room with him when he took his last breath. When I saw his lifeless body, I felt a surge of grief sweep through me that I thought would split me in half. It felt like a part of me was gone.

I held vigil until they came to take his body away, with my hand on his left arm, feeling the warmth slowly leave his body.

I wondered what his journey here on earth might have been about, what his deeper purpose might have been? Maybe he had come to earth to collect and contain as much darkness as humanly possible – or maybe more – which is why he went so crazy – so as to take it with him to be transmuted and redeemed back into the light of Source.

Maybe he was willing to sacrifice all his relationships in order to provide this service to humanity – like a giant dredger. (Only 1 other of his 5 children showed up to say goodbye).

Slowly, the memory of my father as a tyrant dissolved. I could barely even remember his challenging personality.

In this new light, I was able to honor his heroic struggle.

On Monday morning, I went out to sea with members of my family.

I held his ashes in my lap. They were still warm. I was surprised at how heavy they were.

Dad’s last wishes were to be cremated and for his ashes to be scattered into the ocean. Apparently, it was the ocean in South Hampton he wanted, not Palm Beach, oops! – I just hope the current took him up there.

As I lead the others in The Lord’s Prayer, the words took on a whole new meaning and felt so intimate, “Our Father, Who Art in Heaven…” I could feel him. He had kept his promise. He was my anchor to the other side. He was my bridge to heaven.

I felt, and still feel, a visceral connection to his soul. It felt as strong and tangible as an umbilical cord extending from my solar plexus up towards heaven.

As the boat turned back to shore, India noticed that Dad’s ashes formed a huge turquoise circle, literally 12 feet in diameter, in the dark water. Fish started jumping everywhere.  It looked like a giant heavenly portal.

After Dad died, I received an email from my older half-sister. She recalled Dad reuniting with the family in Brooklyn each year, to celebrate the High Holy Days. So, he had practiced Judaism after all for the 1st 40 years of his life! But why had he renounced it all? I discovered the answer when I was cleaning his house. I found a folder with old newspaper clippings and read an incendiary article about his divorce with his 1st wife. It had been a traumatic time in Dad’s life, and he had lost custody of his children. Then I understood what might have happened. I could hear his voice, “Any God that would allow my children to be taken from me, is no God of mine.” And he closed a chapter of his life. Then he married my mother, who was European royalty, and created a brand new persona.

Finally, after wrestling with a lifetime of demons, my father is finally at peace. And I feel so blessed. I feel a depth of connection to his soul that is profound and meaningful. Somehow, I have been able to nurture the brief encounter with my ‘real’ father. I have held the loving healthy aspect of him in my heart, and allowed it to permeate the entire memory of our lifetime together.

I have a loving father, and he is in heaven.

In memory of Odin, our magical cat ~

Don’t bother reading this post unless you are an avid cat lover, otherwise you will be thoroughly annoyed with this cloying eulogy! Odin was born on March 3, 2004, somewhere in Oklahoma. He was the most magnificent specimen of a cat – inside and outside. My daughter India called me from a pet store in Malibu. Sorry, not a shelter, but if you read on, you will see why! “Mom, I have found a magical cat! Quick, you have to come immediately!” Throughout India’s life, I had rejected many a cat that she had wanted to adopt, so she knew how to entice me. I jumped in my car, and called my husband, “Casper, Can I get another cat?” We had recently moved into our home in Malibu and had brought our one cat with us from Topanga. He was an outdoor cat and although a little cross-eyed, seemed very adept at avoiding the insatiable local coyotes. We had given him the name Heyoka, hoping it would protect him– it means trickster in Cherokee – and he lived to be 14 years old, which, for an outdoor cat, was a pretty good run. India had chosen Heyoka from the pound when she was 4. The whole pound incident had been quite scaring for both of us, and I hadn’t been keen to return. Not to digress too much, we had our eye on an Abyssinian, but so had a few other people. We got into a bidding war, and one of them, a surly biker type, took me aside in the parking lot and literally threatened my life, “If you don’t let me have that cat, you’ll have to watch your back, you f’ing b*tch!” I was traumatized! I never knew the pound could be such a dangerous place! But, I guess he really wanted that cat! In the end, I was so furious at being bullied, that I bid the price up to $500 before I ‘gracefully’ bowed out of the haggling. I had to hide behind 2 employees as ‘bikerdude’ hurled insults and flailed his fist my way, and we walked away with mangy little Heyoka instead. Luckily, he grew into what looked like a glorious mix of Mancoon and Siamese. When Heyoka had disappeared 6 years ago, I said a prayer, asking for him for a sign – something to remember him by. A few minutes later, India ran screaming into the living room, ”Mom, come, quickly, Heyoka left something!” We walked outside to the Koi pond, and right where the builders had poured cement, there were 4 distinct paw prints. The Koi pond had been finished while we were away, and the concrete had been freshly poured, so our cat had indeed answered my wish. And tears flowed freely. I don’t know what it is about losing an animal, but the grief can be so unbearable. Casper’s response to my suggestion to acquire a new pet was, “NO! absolutely not! You cannot buy a cat!” Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued, and I drove off to meet my daughter. Sure enough, the kitten she had picked was beyond adorable. It fit all my requirements. It had exquisite eyes, the deepest pools of blue I had ever seen, it was white, with a round grey face and a thick, bushy grey tail with 4 grey socks, and it would not stop purring.  And, it let us handle it like a pretzel without scratching or biting. It was a Birman – I had never heard of the breed, so I looked it up and found that they have a very interesting history. They are known as the Sacred Cats of Burma, and were regarded by the priests as oracles to the gods. By now, I was in a pet buying frenzy, and I eyed another irresistible kitten – surprise, surprise – an Abyssinian, and decided that we couldn’t live without either one of them. Casper was not pleased when he saw my purchases. “I thought I told you not to buy a cat?! In my most charming voice, I answered, “But, darling, you told me not to buy a cat, you never said not to buy 2 cats!” He was thoroughly irritated with me, but how could anyone argue with logic like mine!? Of course, he fell in love with both cats immediately, and they would sleep nestled in his armpits – I guess his fur reminded them of their mother! We named the little grey cat Odin, and the other one, Osiris. In retrospect, I don’t know if calling him Odin was a good idea. He certainly lived up to the Norse God’s reputation. He was a wanderer, just like his namesake. Which was probably his demise. We couldn’t get him to stay in the property.  He would streak through the door and gallop down the driveway into the street. And from there, we don’t know where he went, he had a secret life, our Odin. Sometimes he would come home smelling like rosemary, so I knew he had been lounging in our bushes and sometimes he would come back smelling of perfume – not mine! He surprised us all by becoming a fierce hunter. More dead animals came through that cat door than you can imagine. He certainly didn’t look the part of a killer. All fluffy and regal.  India aptly nicknamed him “The Puffinator.” On the 3rd evening after his disappearance, I asked Odin to send me a sign, like his predecessor. He did not disappoint. I turned on the TV,  The movie How to Train Your Dragon was on, and almost immediately, Hiccup’s father starting talking about the Great God Odin! I will miss his paw prints skidding down my windshield, and his  clumps of white fur all over the roof of my convertible, his deep meow which sounded like an old Chinaman in an opium den, his constant scratching at the doors when he wanted to be let in or out – apparently he only liked to use the cat door for his kill – his slow and lion-like gait, the way he ripped open and shredded any bagged food item left on the kitchen counter overnight, the way he would tolerate my girls pushing him full speed around the house in their doll stroller – he never resisted, he never complained. He may have been a saint – Although rabbits might consider him more of a serial killer! I will miss our precious Odin. May our Puffinator rest in peace.

I pronounce you husband & wife!

On June 22, the Summer Solstice, aka Midsummer Night, I had the honor of marrying 2 adorable friends of mine – Ben & Jaime -both young enough to be my children, intoxicatingly in love, ridiculously glamorous & earthy and authentic. That about sums them up! I had never performed a wedding before, so I was understandably anxious when they asked me – what if I messed up their special moment? That could be awkward and mortifying! Ben & Jamie seemed strangely confident that I would be wonderful – how they could be so sure, considering I had no previous experience, was a mystery to me!

At least I couldn’t be worse than the minister who officiated Ben’s father’s wedding in January! He was a dead ringer for the minister in the movie Hangover 2. Wait a minute – It was the same guy! But his delivery wasn’t very smooth, and he kept mispronouncing the groom’s name and stumbling on the dialogue – I wondered if he had gotten sloppy after the luxury of getting to do multiple takes on film! Note to self – do not make the same mistake! There are no second takes up on that podium!

What was bizarre, is that I had become a minister back in January, when another friend of mine had told me that she might want me to marry her and her boyfriend. I really wanted the 2 of them to tie the knot, so I was inspired. Within 24 hours, I became an ordained minister – it actually was far easier than I expected!

After a brief meeting with the bride and a flurry of emails back and forth, I plunged into unfamiliar territory – the writing of a sermon. I agonized over it. I wanted it to be perfect for them. Casper suggested that I do it like the priest in Princess Bride! – thanks, honey, for being sooo helpful!

I guess I am a good advocate for marriage – I am married, for starters, through the thick and the thin of it. I have no illusions about what it takes to make a marriage work – lots and lots of work! I am both a romantic and a pragmatist. I believe deeply in the sanctity of marriage, and the institution of it, and the power of a witnessed covenant.

I wove all my life experience into my writing. Thank goodness I got a stamp of enthusiastic approval from the couple –  I definitely poured my heart and soul into their ceremony.

They sent a car for me to pick me up at Denver airport and gifted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely gift basket in my hotel room. I was touched by how thoughtful and appreciative they were.

At the rehearsal brunch, Ben shared about how his heart had physically hurt after he met Jaime, “I think it was because it was having to expand to take in all of her.” He pointed to his beloved, beaming. “I am the luckiest man in the world!” The love in the room was so palpable. The waterworks unleashed! Get a grip, girl! I hoped I didn’t cry during the ceremony!

Later I went back to the hotel to get dressed, and to my horror, saw that my pale green silk dress was covered in yellow blotches. Ugh! Why had I not noticed this before?!! How embarrassing! I had not brought anything else to wear! I looked in the mirror – this was decidedly a little more boho then the chic that I had planned! I prayed that the flounce of the silk would distract people from seeing the discoloration!

The bride decided that all the women in the wedding party should be barefoot as the wedding was in the garden – thank goodness I just had a pedicure! She thought it would be lovely for my feet to be covered in sparkles – which was fine by me – anything to take the focus away from the dress! Unfortunately, the maid of honor was a little too liberal with the glue spray can – which had to be applied so that the sparkles would adhere  – and she glued my toes together – making my feet look webbed!

It was almost show time! I could feel my heart pounding a bit too fast! I tried to take a deep breath, but there wasn’t sufficient give in the bodice. I don’t remember the dress feeling this tight! I am not sure how much was attributable to the altitude, but I was definitely having a hard time breathing. Crap, I was not feeling super confident! I started texting my friend Gabrielle for support – she kindly coached me into a more subdues state!

The garden had been transformed into a fairy wonderland with white rose petals everywhere. I trotted down the aisle, after Ben’s youngest sister who was dressed as a fairy flower girl, twirling my dress rather energetically to prevent the silk from sticking to my gluey-webbed feet. All the while praying that no one notice the tacky stains or the webbed feet!

I made it to the podium! Yeah! – Without tripping on my dress – which was precariously long in bare feet, or catching on fire – the groom’s sister was carrying a giant flaming torch dangerously close to me!

Ben joined me under an arbor draped in white orchids, wisteria and crystals. Miraculously, I became calm as soon as I focused on the joy in Ben’s face as he watched his stunning bride approach. Her face was overflowing with light and love and joy. Crap, I could feel the tears welling up again. And I had no Kleenex tucked away!

I rang a bell and plunged into my sermon. All 3 of us were nestled together under a cascade of white flowers. It was so intimate. I saw tears spilling down the bride’s face – it was contagious. At least she had access to her husband’s pocket handkerchief – I thought it might be tacky if I asked to share it! Then my nose started running! A couple of times, I turned away, trying to wipe the snot away, without being too obvious! I had never seen a minister cry before, I wondered how professional that was! Oh well! Couldn’t be helped!

They repeated after me, “You are my life, you are my love, my best friend…” Rings slid onto expectant fingers, I pronounced them husband and wife. And then, in a flash, it was all over!

Every single guest came up to thank me afterwards, saying that it was the loveliest ceremony they had ever witnessed. Oh boy, was I grateful! And grateful that Ben & Jaime had faith in me and had coaxed me to go beyond my comfort zone.  They both announced, “We could never have done this without you!” Which might have been a bit of an exaggeration! But generous, none the less!

Jaime’s manager came up to me afterwards to congratulate me. “Well, you probably do this all the time, it’s your profession, after all!” I died laughing. “I’m an actress, I’ve never done this before!” He looked so confused!

Truth be told – I loved the experience. It was so rewarding. Every word I uttered was such a testament of love – it just poured out of me, straight from my heart.

I would do it again, in a heartbeat!

Excerpt from the ceremony ~ a passage that Jaime picked ~

From “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louise De Bernieres

 “Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides 

you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined 

together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is 

not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal 

passion… That is just being “in love,” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over 

when being in love has burned away”

In honor of our 13th anniversary

In honor of my 13th anniversary – I meant to post this blog on May 8th –the actual day– but I fell asleep on the plane to NYC.

That doesn’t sound very romantic!

I thought I would write about how Casper and I got engaged – because it’s kind of magical –

It is so easy to get complacent and bogged down by the quagmires of daily life, that sometimes I forget the magic surrounding the beginning of our relationship. My husband insists that the same magic persists today– but I seem to remember a certain blatant flair about the synchronicities, back then, in the beginning, that first swept us off our feet.

I was in London visiting Casper who was filming Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp – I got an offer to star in an indie film, The Omega Code. Casper concocted a plan that he should play the role of my character’s cameraman – the guy gets shot in the opening sequence –but at least that way he could accompany me on location – which he thought was only fair, as I had flown twice to London to be with him. Not to mention that the locations were not too shabby – Italy and Israel.

It just so happened that one of the producers, Larry Mortoff, was his producer on Tarzan, so he called him up and laid out his plan.

Larry seemed genuinely surprised, “I thought you were not available until April.”

Casper responded, “No, I wrap in February.”

“Okay, give me a minute, I’ll get back to you.”

Literally a minute later, the hotel phone rang. “Casper, how would you like the lead?”

We looked at each other, in shock.

March 1999, we were on a plane to Jerusalem. It just so happened that we had 5 days off in the middle of the shoot and the production gave us a car and driver to take us sightseeing. Neither one of us had never been to Israel, and how I imagined the country would look bore no resemblance to the reality. It was so much more beautiful. We drove through the lush valley of Galilee, we baptized each other in the river Jordan, we floated in the Dead Sea, prayed at every holy site, regardless of denomination, climbed down the perilous cliff from Masada. And last, but not least, we visited The Church of the Nativity – twice. Twice, because, Casper had decided he wanted to propose to me there. I had a sneaky suspicion that he was up to something, but I didn’t want to assume, after all, we had only known each other for 6 months. It was quite a hassle going through all the checkpoints between Israel and Palestine – I had no idea that Bethlehem was in current day Palestine.

On March 17, we clambered back down into the musty crypt, and Casper slid across the marble floor in front of the manger where myth has it that Jesus was born.

He bellowed, “Will you marry me?” and then, with greater urgency, “The camera is almost out of film!”

I shrieked “OMG! Yes!” and we burst into peels of laughter. We were immediately silenced by a very sour looking priest.

Upon leaving the church, we were approached by a local Palestinian, ”I offer you 200 camels for the blond.”

I was impressed. That was a lot of camels. I had no idea, but camels can be very expensive!

Our guide explained that the Church of the Nativity is the only church in that part of the world to have survived destruction. Myth has it, that when the Ottomans invaded, they destroyed everything in sight. When they arrived at the entrance of the church, torches in hand, they saw a mosaic – which is still intact today, of the Three Wise Men – AKA The Three Kings Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar – whom they considered of Islamic descent. So, they bypassed the church and moved on to pillage elsewhere.

There is one building that was subsequently built right up against the Church of the Nativity – The Church of Saint Catherine.

I found it very poetic that Casper proposed to me in a place where out two namesakes are preserved, side-by-side, at the symbolic birthplace of Christianity, and have remained inseparable for 2 thousand years.

It felt like our union was sanctified through time.

Yeah, I know, pretty romantic!!J