Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

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Relaxing And Philosophy: Sunday Repost

Sundays are for relaxing and philosophy, right? I’m not sure why but I’ve never been very good at relaxing, especially alone. I get nervous and talk to myself, and then we get into arguments. It’s usually a stalemate so I go looking for someone to tell myself that I’m wrong. It can get ugly.

Today I decided to use the whole day as if I were at a silent meditation retreat. My husband is busy in the garage working on a workbench for his brewhouse. He’s one of those “focused in the moment” guys. Once he’s onto something, he loves spending his whole being there, uninterrupted. What could be worse than worrying that your poor wife is alone in the house going crazy? Probably your poor wife going out there and insisting you come in and entertain her this instant! I don’t do that, not much anyway.

My gift to him and myself is to learn to be ok with being quiet and alone. It’s good for me. I am still loved and appreciated, even when everyone I love is busy doing something they love (that’s my new self-talk).

I’ve read, worked in the yard, started some laundry, and ate some lunch. And now here I am sharing an old post from October 2018. Hope you like it. It’s subject near and dear to my heart!

Those Stinkin’ Philosophers!

Philosophers have been generally despised throughout history. We don’t like those people that come in with their wild ideas, making us think about what we are doing and the reasons behind it. Just because one of those thinkers comes up with an interesting idea, doesn’t mean we have to adopt it, so why do we get so upset?

I think it just pisses us off to have to think about things that deeply. Think of it this way. You’re humming along, taking your kids to school, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail. Sometimes you may feel a little frustrated or disappointed with how things are going, but that’s just life, you think. If you just tweaked something a bit, if your kids would just straighten up and behave, if your spouse was a little more helpful, everything would run more smoothly, and you’d all be happy.

Along comes this philosopher guy and he questions what you are doing. She says, “Hey! What if you didn’t need to send your kids to school?” Another writes a post that asks you to reconsider getting married in the first place if all you are thinking is that you’ll have a controllable permanent partner if you do. And then there’s another that pipes up with, “Maybe we don’t have to pair off and only have sex with one person for the rest of our lives.”

Suddenly, you’re thinking about your life. You’re thinking that maybe there is something to what he’s saying, maybe you should reconsider how you do things…but that’s so freaking hard! So you tell him to jump off a cliff and continue on your way.

If you’re a thinking person at all (which most people are), you now have some little inkling of another way of life tickling the back of your brain and it bugs you. It sets the balance off on your day, like an unbalanced set of tires on your car. It bugs you and now you have to give it some of your precious time. I mean, really, we are all limited on time and energy. Why can’t things just run along smoothly?

That’s why most people don’t like philosophers. If you are saying anything important, life changing, or meaningful at all, it’s going to make most people irritable. That’s the nature of it.

For those who believe they are in control of things, it’s even more difficult to take into account what a philosopher might be saying. If what the philosopher says is true, or even if it isn’t, the person in control may be losing that control. That is really irksome to us. Think about it. There you are with all your ducks in a row, marching off to wherever ducks are supposed to go (regardless of how the ducks feel about it), and along comes some guy that scatters them. Now you’ve got tons more work to do and nothing is running smoothly like it should. Someone should stop that guy!

It’s not just the philosopher’s that get hated either. It’s those that consider their ideas and try to expound on them. Those that take new thinking and run with it, try to change their own lives to see if it works or maybe improve the lives of others. Those people…what a pain. There they are, living in ways you choose not to, being happy in their own way, making you think that maybe what you are doing may or may not be the best for you. Oh…the thinking, the consideration, the debate…it’s unbearable!


I loved stumbling upon this one this morning. It made me laugh and wonder what was bugging me that day. I bet you can guess. I think I had run into more than one someone that had opinions about how I live my life, so I decided to be snarky long form on my blog instead of telling where to get off.

I’m off to have another blessed cup of coffee and read more of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Oh wait! My copy of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Neff and Germer came in the mail yesterday, so I’ll be spending time in that as well. The work continues.

Hopefully they will let me back into my spot!

I hope you’re having a beautiful Sunday wherever you are!

The Anxious Hearts Guide: New Read

It’s a 2-for-1 special today! I’m starting two books at the same time!

The first is a non-fiction self-help book that I couldn’t wait to start reading but didn’t want to dive into first thing in the morning. I’m saving that one to read a little at a time over my afternoon coffee. I decided to start a second book to wake up with, a sci-fi one that I picked up at the bookstore the day before.

I apologize, but there won’t be a wrap up post about The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner because it simply did not grab my attention. Not my cup of tea, I suppose. Maybe I’m meant for something stronger than tea?

I did finish reading the book. It was a mystery of sorts, and I wanted to see what the twist was, but I was put off by the “men are bad/women are good” dichotomy. I didn’t connect with any of the characters or the situation. It wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.

What’s next? Where should I start? Let’s start with the “self-help” one!

the anxious hearts guide

I found The Anxious Hearts Guide: Rising Above Anxious Attachment by Rikki Cloos on Instagram. I follow the author’s page and find such great advice about maintaining relationships, that I felt like I wanted, no, NEEDED to hear more of her words. I downloaded it to my Kindle and immediately started reading.

Click over and read some of her posts, you will not regret it! Don’t have Instagram? Here’s her site. She has some very helpful advice for those of us who have been labeled as “needy” and “clingy,” the ones that keep wondering where all the close connections went, and why everyone keeps looking at us like we’re crazy.

I’m a few pages into the Kindle version of the book right now. THIS is going to be life changing.

The other book I started today was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick. I’ve been hearing about this sci-fi classic for years and since I lost all control and bought it on my bookstore adventure, I figured it should be the first thing I read from that haul.

Side note: I didn’t see the face in the cover of the book until I took a picture of it, and it scared me. Seriously. It’s starting to rain, so I didn’t want to take the book outside to show you, so I put it on the top of the pile of books on my desk and snapped a picture. The preview in the bottom left corner of my phone screen showed a shadowy face and I about jumped out of my skin. Now I can’t stop seeing it and it’s creepy.

It was written in 1968 and is the book the Blade Runner movies were based on. I know I loved those movies. When the new one came out, we were sure to go back and watch the original before we saw the new one. They were both awesome…and that’s all I remember. I just watched the trailers to refresh my memory, and they are only vaguely familiar, the old one more than the new one.

My memory. Man, it’s so frustrating. But now that I think about it, I tend to knit while I watch tv. Some things I’m just not that interested in, but my husband wants to watch, so I knit. And lately, I can’t seem to sit still and focus on a tv show or movie, so I knit. Maybe that’s not a good idea? I’m not really watching and comprehending what’s happening. I’m losing the story but gaining socks. It’s a tradeoff.

I’ve been watching episodes of Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime, also based on Philip K. Dick’s stories, and loving them, so I’m excited to spend some time in this book!

Attached: New Read

Ok, my dear reader, my thoughts and commentary on Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – And Keep Love by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A. are going to get a little personal.

I first heard about “attachment theory” shortly after my first child was born and it all made so much sense. Children, right from birth, seek attachment and safety. Once that is achieved, they can move on to independence and then interdependence. That’s my short-form explanation.

It changed the way we raised our kids from the moment I understood it. When they cry, we feed and soothe them. When they reach for us, we’re there. Humans will grow to be independent on their own. We don’t need to force them to “grow up.” I fought with my family about this, and I never could understand why they could not understand.

My sons are adults now and, I believe, are establishing healthy relationships with their own partners. Yes, I they still do reach out to their dad and I when they feel they need emotional support. And that is a good thing. We are all securely attached to each other in healthy ways. We are family.

So why read about attachment now when my children are all grown?

Because a few years ago, I discovered that attachment theory applies to adult/romantic relationships as well. Discovering that, and what my current “style” is, has helped me grow closer to my husband of 23 years, something I didn’t know was possible. I wish I had understood some of this as a young adult. It would have probably helped avoid a lot of heartache.

Where did I discover it? Instagram, another reason to love that platform. The self-help and relationship help that I’ve found there has been wonderful. Pages like The Love Therapist and Self Work Co have changed my outlook on life.

I’ve been looking forward to reading Attached. by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A. for several months but kept thinking I already had it on my shelf until I realized that I have Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend there and it has the same color scheme. That’s how my brain works…it can be annoying.

This will be another fun book to read, I’m sure. The opening pages describe some of my most bothersome (to me) behaviors through the lens of someone else’s relationship. I’ve always been told these are things I should fix about myself, and I’ve spent my life attempting to not need people and become more independent.

“…we live in a culture that seems to scorn basic needs for intimacy, closeness, and especially dependency, while exalting independence. We tend to accept this attitude as truth – to our detriment.”

Man, that feels good to read. Like suddenly I’m not alone.

“…attachment continues to play a major role throughout our entire lifespan. The difference is that adults are capable of a higher level of abstraction, so our need for the other person’s continuous physical presence can at times be temporarily replaced by the knowledge that the person is available to us psychologically and emotionally. But the bottom line is that the need for intimate connection and reassurance of our partner’s availability continues to play an important role throughout our lives.”

Here’s where the personal stories come in.

I have this strange habit of reaching out to the people I love and need attention from. I text if they aren’t there. I walk into the room and say random things. I reach for them as I pass by. They are what my husband calls “pings.”

“Ping, a computer network administrator software utility, is often used to check the reachability of a host. The reachability includes two aspects. One is the availability, while the other is the response time.”

That’s what I’m doing. I’m checking the reachability of a loved one. “Yep, they are still there. I’m ok.”

To some people it can be irritating, especially if I’m feeling overly vulnerable and you don’t answer fast enough. I have been known to go off the deep end far too often than I probably should.

But knowing that’s what I’m doing helps me react better and helps my loved ones understand and show support. It’s a need for me and I’m uncomfortable without it. Yes, I’m aware that I should be ok alone and I generally am, but, like that baby that needs to be fed or that toddler that needs reassurance, I need to know my loved ones are there for me.

This book is going to be another great help to me. Relationships take energy, work, and self-awareness to thrive. Hopefully, the information here will bring more insight and peace to my current relationships. I’ll be sharing what I find as I go, but it won’t be a summary of what’s inside by a long shot. Hopefully what I do share will help you decide if reading it yourself and gleaning your own insight will be worth your time!

Read my final thoughts on this book at “Looking For Love: Anxious Attachment”

Listen Like You Mean It: Final Thoughts

Listen Like You Mean It book cover

Listen Like You Mean it by Ximena Vengoechea was a strange journey. It started strong for me, started to peter out, and then picked up again at the end. The author used her experience in business, as a researcher for apps, to explain how to better listen in conversation. It makes sense. Her job was to listen to people’s first thoughts, experiences, and usage needs of an app to make it work better for them and for the company.

I suck at wrapping up what I think of a whole book. Bottom line of this one was that I liked it. I got some good bits from it. And I hope I can practice some of the things I learned in it. That’s the key. Most of it was the stuff you always hear about how to be a better listener, but if you don’t practice new ways consciously and often, you’ll only fall back into your old routines and habits.

How does one practice better conversation techniques? Especially now.

One thing I noted to myself in the margins of this book was that much of these listening skills could really be used in self-discovery and self-talk as well. How we talk to and listen to ourselves is how we look at the world around us. Can I make some useful reminders to practice these techniques on myself at home? If I can master a few of them, make them a habit when alone, maybe I can use them more readily the next time I’m out to lunch with a friend?

Halfway into the book, I started to get frustrated. Some of it seems too technical and businesslike. Maybe these would be great for someone that was around a lot of people all the time, at work or school. I don’t feel like they apply to my lifestyle. I read but glossed over much of those chapters and kept reading instead of giving up and not finishing.

I’m glad I did because the chapters on difficult discussions and resting and recharging between conversations were especially inspiring.

“We can express ourselves with humility, admitting what we do and do not know, and with curiosity, staying open to how others may receive us in conversation. We can practice patience, become aware of when our body language is telling us we are closing ourselves off, and quiet our minds when our thoughts and fears get in the way of being honest. We can make the necessary space to be ourselves, just as we do for our partners.”

Listen Like You Mean It

See? Conversation is a give and take thing. We are all in need of that intimate connection with another human or two. The first step, like everything we wish to achieve, it ours to make.

Was the book worth reading? Yes, and it would be even more so if you happen to be in a situation where you work or live closely with a lot of other people.

Pop back to my post “Listen Like You Mean It” – Another New Read, to start at the beginning of my journey and find other posts about this book.

A Love Letter: A Long List of Wins

I don’t have a book quote to riff off of, or a podcast to share. I don’t have some special insight, or some polished bit of advice, not even an anecdote. But I still wanted to write to you today, so I’ve decided to write a love letter to my friends. Let’s see what happens.

Man child doing tech things that I can't possibly understand.
Man Child

Big news: my youngest son found work this week and is now looking for a place of his own, probably just a room at this point. He’ll be leaving our desert again. This time heading for the coast, where all the action is. At this time, he wants to continue his college classes and then transfer to a UC school next year, so he found some restaurant work because of its flexible schedule. He’s a smart one. I’m just happy that he won’t be in another state like the rest of our family. No offense to you guys, I know you’re all doing what’s best for you and that’s awesome, but, yes, if I had my druthers, we’d all live in the same area and party every weekend.

I spent an amazing afternoon with one of my closest friends this week. We went to the Macaroni Grill and ate something so glorious that I can’t keep my mind off it, butternut asiago tortellaci. So good, that I went home and looked up a copycat recipe to see if I can’t recreate this piece of heaven at home. You know how good it was? I usually eat as if someone will take the food away, but this I savored one tiny bite at a time while my friend and I solved all the world’s problems. I told the waiter all about it. And he was another win of this week.

That guy! There were only a couple other people in the restaurant, so he had time to stop and chat. My friend asks great questions, and he seemed happy to stand there and talk to us. I left that restaurant with a renewed faith in the people of this world. Here was another young guy, not unlike my own sons, that had moved all the way across the country to start a cool new life of his own, struggling a bit, like everyone else, but making it and happy. I would have liked to talk more. Why did he come here? And where was he going? We may need to eat there again next week. I think I’m in love.

Here is the biggest win of all: for the first time in my life, I noticed an emotional reaction and consciously chose how I would respond to it. Thank the maker! I’m catching on. Yes, I’m 48 years old and FINALLY starting to have some self-control. I was having a conversation with a friend and something he said just triggered something nasty in me. We don’t need to get into specifics because that’s not the point here. The point is that I actually had (and noticed) a moment where I felt thrown into an emotion.

Have you ever felt that? Something you see or hear just moves your whole soul to a sore point in your life and you feel like it’s brand new? Like…let me see…you burned yourself severely years ago, it’s been healed, a scar is barely visible, but then you see something that puts you right there at the moment and you feel the burn all over again. It really sucks. I’m sure I’ve been in the place before, but in the past, I reacted before I realized what was happening and created a new wound. Same analogy, I felt the burn memory like it was real, scraped at my body to get the heat off and went running for safety.

This time was different. I slowed down for a fraction of a second, took a deep breath and thought, “This is an emotion. Emotions are temporary.” In the next few minutes I thought, “Where did that emotion come from?” Then I sat with it awhile, wrote out the feelings, and moved forward. I didn’t need to be angry. I did mention what I was feeling and why, but I didn’t blame anyone or (my typical MO) snarl and bite like a dog protecting a wound. A few hours later, it was gone, and the journal entry of my process remained. I had done it. Success!

Now, I am well aware that next time might not go so nicely. I’m not a Zen master. But I now know it is possible to do this. And I’ve got one practice under my belt. I’m a happy girl.

Books are a love letter from the past.
The NEW one of the seven bookcases and ME!

There were other things that happened this week, as you can imagine. For a woman that doesn’t have a job and lives away from people, I sure do have a lot of activities. Well, maybe some people wouldn’t call it activity. I’ve been enjoying the company of my son while he is here, had several great text conversations with some friends, helped someone with a homeschooling question, and read and wrote a lot. Oh, and reorganized by books because I got a new bookshelf. I feel peaceful and, what’s the word, together.

And, as if this week weren’t amazing enough, I made another cheesecake from scratch, and it did not crack! First time EVER! This one is extra special because I wanted it to have a chocolate cookie crust and they didn’t have that at the store…so I googled it and made my own like a freakin’ boss!

Can cheesecake be a love letter to your friends? Yes.
Gloriousness in Springform

A special, heart-felt, THANK YOU, to all my readers, the ones I know about and the hidden ones, the likers and the lurkers, the ones that read now and the ones that may read in the future. Thank you for reading my love letter, for allowing me to pour my heart out every day. Thank you for letting me in. Your interest in my humanity is felt every time you visit, and it feeds my soul. If I could, I’d buy you all a round of drinks.

What did you win at this week? I’d love to get a love letter from you!

Cultivate Unconditional Love for Others

“Love is based on respect. Fear doesn’t respect anything, including itself.”

The Mastery of Love by Don Miquel Ruiz

I’m a big proponent of “unconditional love,” at least I say I am, and I do my best to practice it. Sometimes though, my fear and judgement of others is blaringly obvious, and I learn something new.

I started to write “and I wonder what’s wrong with me. Will I ever learn to behave better?” but I caught myself and wrote, “learn something new” instead. Growth comes when we see what we’re doing in a new light and change our behavior instead of judge ourselves. Unconditional self-love comes from self-respect and is the first step to loving others better.

I was scrolling through social media the other day and getting frustrated with a few friends. The things they post…can’t we just be nice? Do we have to share every ugly thing we come across on the internet? Is there nothing that you are experiencing that is positive and joyful? I mean…unconditional love is hard when you all give me nothing to work with. I’m over here working so hard every day to be a better human and look at you! You guys aren’t even trying.

That’s when I realized my error. Unconditional love is hard to achieve when you judge yourself and your behavior as superior to others and then look out into the world. If I love myself, consider myself capable, loving, and kind, it becomes easier to love others. I know that I’m a flawed human. I don’t always do what I should, I can’t always win, and I make mistakes, have bad days, and so does everyone else.

Everyone I meet in person and online has a different opinion about how the government should be run, how to raise children, how to live well, or be successful. We’re all at different places in our lives. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have at the moment. We’re all hurting a bit, some more than others.

When I respect others for where they are in life, that’s love. And that’s what helps people grow, not criticism or chastisement, not berating them or explaining to them how they could do better. Each one of us has our own life to live and being heard and respected for our opinions, whether they are positive and helpful or not, helps us learn to do the same for others. Only then can we evolve into better people.

I thumbed through the book to find my last quote about it. There are just so many wonderful ideas to think about here. This one summed up the whole thing for me, though.

“It’s not about following any imposed idea; it’s about finding yourself, expressing yourself in your own particular way. That is why your life is an art.”

The Mastery of Love by Don Miquel Ruiz

That’s what life is all about, Charlie Brown. Ha! Remember Charlie Brown Christmas? That’s what I thought of when I read this in the last chapter.

We are all life, and that life in us is part of bigger picture. When we discover it and accept it in ourselves and those around us, we become better people and it’s far easier to love and be happy with our lives. Your life is an art and art doesn’t need to be perfect and beautiful. It doesn’t need to be famous or sell well. It doesn’t need to be marketed as a product. It just is. Art for art’s sake? It’s just life.

Our Time is Not Infinite – Go For a Walk

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Photo by Alberto Casetta on Unsplash

Most days, when my husband finishes work, we go for a walk. Sometimes it’s just down to the mailbox and back, a little more than a mile. Other days we feel like we should go farther and make the long loop around our block, about almost three miles. It’s good exercise for us, physically and mentally. Mentally is what I want to emphasize here. There’s nothing else to do but keep walking. We can’t read, check social media, do the dishes, or go out to the yard. We just walk and think which leads to talking.

The longer our walks, the deeper our conversations go, and sometimes there are long stretches of silence as we go along. After a longer bit of silence, my husband will say something like, “I’m thinking about water quality and beer flavor.” I laugh because he knows the quieter it gets, the more I wonder what’s up, and he always tries to make my life easier no matter what we are doing.

Our long walks give us time to think and to explore ideas, talk about the kids, what we’re reading, things that have happened during the day. We always feel closer when we walk often.

It’s just the two of us walking now, but we’ve been walking since the kids were little. When we were home, we’d walk to the park or down the street to Disneyland. We’d walk on our vacations and camping trips, covering miles of trails and RV park roads. When we lived in the city, we’d take our tent trailer out to the desert and camp in the wilderness. We’d take long walks away from camp, as far as little legs would go, take a break and then circle back. The kids always led the way out, BB guns and canteens strapped to their backs, and then dragged behind us on the way back.

Discussions abounded on those walkabouts, even when they were little. We’d talk about what we saw on the trail, what we had to eat, and where we were going next. Sometimes big questions would come up. And we’d have lots of time to think and answer, think again, and ask more questions. There’s just something special about walking together that lends itself to serious connection with your fellow walkers. No matter how mundane the location, you’re on an adventure, a quest. And the time together is never wasted.

I specifically remember one walk when it was just my sons and me out in the desert. We decided to stay an extra couple of days instead of coming home in traffic on Sunday afternoon. My husband worked from home and we had a decent internet connection at camp, so he worked from the trailer while the boys and I played. Early in the morning, he had driven us far back into the hills where the old mines were and left us to spend the day walking back so he could work in peace. We had a backpack of snacks, water, and emergency supplies, and the boys were thrilled to try leading me back to camp.

As we walked, we pointed things out, investigated interesting rock formations, and took pictures of critters we found. They climbed a hill together and planted a “flag” at the top, an old bandana they had in the backpack. We took breaks, sitting in sandy washes in the shade of a large creosote or rock face. And we talked. This one was very special though. This time my eight-year-old son asked me questions about God and we spent most of the walk exchanging ideas. It was incredible.

I’ll never forget it. We caught site of camp when we came to the crest of the hill, four hours of walking and exploring coming to a close, when my son stops and looks at me, “You know mom, you should be a pastor or something. When you talk about God, I feel it. It makes me want to know more.” My heart just about exploded. Unsolicited praise from your children is like nothing else in this world.

Long drives have always had a similar effect on us as long walks, a chance to be quiet and think and to talk in ways we never seem to have when we’re at home. We don’t listen to the radio, but we do listen to music. There are several whole albums we have to hear on every trip over an hour-long, because that’s how you’re supposed to hear them, not in pieces on the radio, so they insist. We hold our thoughts until a break between songs and are sure to hit pause when we have to bring up a subject for general discussion. Drives to amusement parks, homeschool events, and family parties, road trips, and shopping excursions were filled with deep philosophical conversations. Ok, not really! Sometimes they got deep, many times, but usually, it was about something funny they’d seen or what they wanted to do tomorrow. But the more we drove, the deeper the conversations got.

I find myself driving alone more often now and I listen to podcasts instead of albums. I frequently find myself wanting to pause and discuss what I just heard with my family, but they aren’t there. I keep a notebook in the car now so I can write down my ideas for later because I swear I’m forgetting things more now that I have to hold on to an idea longer instead of blurting it out for immediate discussion. I learn and digest information best when I can talk about it out loud with others. Maybe it’s good exercise for me to hold on to it, let it ruminate and then discuss it later. It’s something I do have to work on these days.

Yesterday, my grown son wanted me to go with him to the city to go shopping. He could have gone without me. I had lots of other things to do besides sit in the car for two hours. We had a date though, and I felt like he really needed me to go, to show him I was still here when he needed me. I’m glad I did. My youngest isn’t much of a sharer of feelings and ideas. He’s a private man and keeps his thoughts close. But on this drive, he opened up and I listened. He talked about his first love and breakup, career plans, his college classes, life goals, and religion. I gave my two cents like I did when he was younger, but mostly I listened to my now-grown son show me exactly how smart and mature he has grown to be. I was in awe and I’m proud to have been invited in.

Why am I going on about this? Because conversation is important and to have a good conversation, we need to make space for it in our lives. We didn’t plan on taking long walks and drives with our kids so that they would have the time and space to talk, it just happened. I slowly became aware of what was happening as the kids grew and realized only recently, now that they are grown and moving out into their own lives, how special that time was and still is.

It seems like going for a walk with a friend might be an extravagance. There’s so much housework to do. It may seem like walking around the neighborhood with our loved ones is silly. Driving to a special store or small museum in the next town might feel like a waste of gas. We’ve been there, done that, and we see those people all the time. It’s not about the walk, the place, or the coffee, though. It’s about making a space for conversation to happen. It’s about connecting with people.

We’re all busy. The house is full of distractions. There’s so much at work to do. When we die, or when our loved ones go before us, will be satisfied that the laundry was done or that project was completed? Or will be happy that we got to really know our parents, our children, and our spouses. Will we sigh and say as we die, “Well, at least the kitchen cabinets are clean!” or will be gratified to know that our closest friends really know how we feel?

We can’t force the connection. We can’t tell everyone, “Today we will all talk to each other.” Or simply make a rule, “There are no smartphones or tablets allowed on this drive!” But we can make consistent safe space for our friends and family to reach out and talk. We can plan walks at the park. We can ask if they’d like to go with you. We can make lunch and coffee dates and keep them. And we can spend that time listening, asking questions, telling our stories, and allowing for the connection to happen or not.

It’s up to you. No one gets out of here alive and our time is limited. Spend it wisely.

Learning to Understand and Accept Change

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Photo by Ramiro Martinez on Unsplash

There is something important that I’ve recently learned to understand and accept. Things change. And they don’t always change permanently. Analogies about the cycles of the moon have become cliché but maybe there’s something to it after all.

I never really noticed the changes in the moon until I moved to the rural desert. The living room of our desert home is mostly windows, which makes the moon-rise, and the sunrise for that matter, very visible. Through our mostly uncovered windows, it’s obvious that the sun and moon rise and set each day more and more to the north and south as the earth wobbles on its axis. It’s amazing to watch and makes one see very clearly why ancient people might worship this cycle. It’s very comforting.

While the sun takes its sweet time moving across the sky, the seasons change day by day, week by week, the moon gives us a whole different feeling. To me, the sun is the big picture, the whole life, but the moon is our daily struggle. She rushes across the night, coming up at different times of the day or night, in different shapes and sizes. Her cycles are quicker and more dramatic than the sun’s. One week she comes up at sunset full of herself. The next week she’s late and half-dressed. Sometimes she comes up a shell of her usual self, right in the middle of the day. Some days we can’t see her at all. And yet, no one stresses about it. No one thinks, “Oh shit! The moon! Something has upset her. We have to fix it!” We just wait, because we know she’ll be back if we leave her to her own devices.

And the moon? I don’t see her as caring much about what the sun is up to, or the earth, or us. She just does her thing and we love her for it.

What if we were more like that? What if we became more aware of our own cycles and simply accepted them? What if we understood other people will have different cycles that have nothing to do with us, and accepted them right where they are?

And why is it that we think that we must live in a straight line or a climbing staircase? These analogies cause us to believe that if we fall to the left or right of the line or reach the end of a set of stairs with no way to go up farther, we fail. We look at our relationships with the world around us as if they can only escalate or die, reach the next level or die off.

For me seems to be more of a cycle that comes around again and again, sometimes with the same person, sometimes with a different person, with any type of relationship. Whether we’re talking about a romantic relationship, a platonic friendship, a sexual relationship, or a parent, child, or sibling, etc., makes no difference. All relationships cycle through and around and back, spiraling up, down, or laterally. Even the relationship we have with ourselves.

My relationship with myself is complicated. There are days and weeks that I feel like she’s doing a fine job of all the things I expect of her. I’m proud of her accomplishments, her strength. She’s a good, responsible friend to have. And then, even though she has not changed one bit in reality, my feelings toward her change. She forgot something I wanted her to remember or took a day off from responsibility to play. I blame her for everything that has gone wrong with our life. In time, again though she’s not changed at all, I begin to fall in love with her. She’s sexy and confident and I want to be close to her, to spend time alone with her. Then it’s gone again, she’s just another woman in my way and I long to break free. Days later, there she is again impressing me with her strength and brilliance. And we’re coming around on the cycle again.

In every relationship we have, each time we go around this cycle we learn more about each other. With every successful ebb and flow of the tide of emotions, we learn to trust each other more. What constitutes “successful?” We don’t walk away from the relationship and we don’t throw hurtful words or actions at each other to make the other do or act the way we want them to only to make us feel better. Success is loving the other unconditionally, regardless of our feelings at the moment.

The more I come to understand that how I feel is not necessarily a reflection of anyone else’s behavior, but merely a season or phase of the moon, the stronger my relationships grow. Every time I learn again that the cycle will return, that every feeling is temporary, the stronger that cycle turns into a spiral ascending into the sky.

Pretty “out there” isn’t it? It’s the truth though. You won’t always be happy. You won’t always be sad. No one needs to be fixed. No one needs to be set straight. It all just is. Accept it. Be in it. And wait for the moon to cycle back again.

Love Story

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“I love you and I don’t want to.” She whispered as she lay there beside him. Her back against him in the dark, she could feel him breathe beside her, quiet, rhythmic breaths that indicated deep sleep. He couldn’t hear her. If he could she wouldn’t have allowed the words to slip out.

A deep sigh escaped her lips as a tear fell from her eye and hit the pillow, audible in the quiet darkness of the night. She started to spill the rest of her feelings, quietly beside his silent form.

“I wanted a night or two, maybe an ongoing thing to return to when I felt the need to let loose. I wanted a place to go when I wanted to pretend I was young and free from all the responsibilities I’ve built up over the years. And now here I am, falling in love, feeling that pull to care for you, to need you. The feeling scares me. It gives me more to worry about instead of less. I’ve added more responsibilities to my life, not escaped the ones I had. I don’t want this.”

In his sleep, he turns to her and pulls her close to him. His hand runs over her hair and he sighs, resting his hand on her hip. Her tears flow as she realizes how special this moment is, how much she doesn’t want to lose this man that has worked his way so deftly into her heart. But how?

Can there be other ways to love a person? Do all romantic relationships have to follow the same course? If I love you both, do I have to have two husbands to care for in the same way?

Hours later, she’s restless and rises to shower and dress. As she’s gathering her purse and keys, he raises a hand and beckons her to him. She sits at the edge of the bed beside him and leans in to kiss his face. “See you in a few weeks?” He quietly asks in that sleepy satisfied voice she loves so much.

“Sure baby.”

“I love this.”

“Do you?”

“Just like this. As long as you want me.”

She smiles and runs her fingers through his hair, kissing him before she leaves. It feels so good. Maybe it can go on. Maybe she can love him just like this.

Learning to Share Through Abundance

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“Of course, they aren’t!” I can just hear people scoff when I post that statement. But then I hear the way they talk about the people in their lives and wonder…do they know what that really means?

We treat people as possessions when we get angry that a child is not “living up to his potential” and doing something other than what we had planned for them. We treat people as possessions when we insist that our romantic partners spend all their free time with us and never even look in the direction of another. We treat people as possessions when we get angry that our parents move to another state away from our young family.

Each of us has a life to live independent from the others around us. There are times in our life when we come together and work toward a common goal, a family, a job, a project, but ultimately, we are responsible for our own lives, for achieving our own goals, making ourselves happy.

When we choose to work in relationship with others for a short or long term, both sides of the relationship are voluntary. The relationship lasts as long as everyone in it wants to be in it. And when one person in the relationship no longer wants to be there, they are not monsters, they are not mean, they are not evil. They are acting in their own best interest and they should be encouraged to do so, even if that means we must be sad or hurt a bit while we adjust.

These things seem to be so glaringly obvious to me lately, but still I see the way people treat the ones they love and wonder what it would be like if we all respected each other more.

The possessiveness I see reminds me of a small child.

“My friend!”

“My lover!”

“My wife!”

“My parent!”

“My child!”

They gather all their precious toys around them, clutching in desperation to keep their possessions from being stolen away by others. When someone makes a move to see what it is that they are holding so dear, they snatch it close and holler, “Mine!”

Children haven’t learned to share yet and to learn to share, they must at first feel secure that things won’t be taken away by force. We allow them to horde their things and build up the strength to share with the presence of abundance.

Do we not think this will work with relationships as well? When I have filled up my bucket of love so to speak, I learn to share that love with others. When I spend time and energy in any relationship, I know when that person spends time away from me, they will return. I am sharing my precious with others, not giving it away.

My children will grow into independent and fully functional adults, that go into the world without me and bring back to me the new relationships they have built with others to share with me.

My husband spends some of his after-work time meeting new people, following new activities, without my presence. And when he returns, he is happier and brings new feelings and energy, new people, and new activities to our relationship.

My parents, while not right down the street while I raise my own children, have moved to another state and now I can bring my family on vacation there and enjoy their company on completely different terms than the way I grew up.

Possessiveness is only jealousy in disguise. There is no faster destroyer of love than feeling as if one is a possession of another. “If you love something, set it free…”

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