Saturday, June 21

Mirrors

I am fascinated (said with bug eyes) how situations unfold, relationships change, and interactions with people are as different as every individual is.

I wrote something called Relationship Dynamics over a year ago, and this is again along those lines.

The type of interaction we have with people depends completely on what combinations we end up with when we mix two people together. Kinda like flour and eggs. All sorts of different ingredients added to flour and eggs will produce completely different foods… and in different amounts; the combinations are endless. This is also true of people.

I recently met someone IRL that I only knew through the internet. A ‘top quality human’ by all accounts, and from the moment of first interaction, the type of dynamic was questionable. That’s a broad word to use, but I struggle to find a better word. I say questionable in that I was unsure about everything. The interaction was not fluid, not comfortable, and this seemed to be true for both of us. Not understanding, not communicating. Not being the friends in real life we thought we were online. One of us wrapped our head around it for the most part, but the other built an interaction dynamic in their head that was specific, judgmental, and wholly inaccurate. Then proceeded to try and make it reality.

The enlightened Byron Katie talks about the need some people have to tell you who you are. When they do this, they are essentially telling you about them. She says: “When you do The Work, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.”

There is another story like this, which I feel really nails it:

"It’s a story of two dogs…
Both at separate times walk into the same room.
One comes out wagging his tail while the other comes out growling.
A woman watching this goes into the room to see what could possibly make one dog so happy and the other so mad.
To her surprise she finds a room filled with mirrors.
The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog found a thousand dogs growling back at him.
What you see in the world around you is a reflection of who you are."

Over the years I’ve given many friends advice based on these ideas of the dogs and what Byron Katie says. If someone is telling you who YOU are, they are REALLY telling you who THEY are. It is not healthy to walk around telling people who they are. We need to worry about who we are. “worry about yourself” is great advice, and a tangent I will have to revisit on another day since I have great examples.

My experience of having my “friend” point a finger at me: “You are ___”, “You’re so ___”, “You need to ___” I was left realizing that they were creating the world they were insisting to live in, and it had nothing to do with who I ACTUALLY am. I also realized that if I am to believe they are telling me who they are, I should listen carefully, and realize they might be telling me this is a very unhealthy relationship, and to walk away quickly.

Pay attention to what is in the mirror, don’t avoid looking in it, and maybe sometimes we even need to notice when we are standing there looking in one.

Wednesday, June 11

Unicorns and Rainbows

The older and wiser I get the more of an optimist I become. I realize how lucky I am to say that, because many grow cynical with age.

I know why… they become hardened by life’s lessons. Its not that I don’t think I could take that path too, I totally could. It’s that I’m choosing not to, and in choosing not to, I’m choosing to essentially look on the bright side by consciously and sensibly saying, ‘what can I learn from this?’ Instead of just insisting to be more cynical, and less willing in the same circumstance next time.

It’s not that I’m letting my circumstances and life lessons keep me willing to go through them again; on the contrary, I’m kinda over analyzing them, seeing how things took the route they did, and I then do that sensible thing I mention, and I learn from it.  I don’t let any blanket take over either. We all love blanket statements. Blanketing the “next time” with a “never again”, doesn’t actually stop the never again from arriving.

There is a giant side benefit from thinking like this; the optimism I mention to begin with. I have NOT always been an optimist. Most of my life actually. I’m getting myself to optimist more and more every day by being willing to learn from everything, admitting I’m totally flawed, and accepting it’s totally ok to spend this life learning.

One of these lessons I’m learning is that if I allow the Universe to play it’s part in my life, believing things will work out (like an optimist would) the universe gets on my team and things DO work out. Over and over this has been proven to me, to the point that I even say this optimistic thing regularly: “Everything always works out”.

In a conversation with a man I love dearly, we were talking about how everything seems to always work out for me, but not always for him. I brought up this allowing the universe to do its part, and he said to me, “But YOUR life is so unicorns and rainbows”.

I was like: “Rewind, what?” He told me that my life was so different from anybody else’s, and that I was living a life where I experience unicorns and rainbows. I don’t remember my exact words to him, probably because I was laughing, but we have come back to this idea many times since that conversation. He feels I’m somehow living in a different world. He has found many ways to tell me this over the many months I’ve known him, but this was the first time it was put this way. I thought I understood when he finished explaining.

Then recently we were in Home Depot, and after our interaction with an employee and a fellow customer; as we walked away he said to me: “That was unicorns and rainbows.”  I saw clearer what he meant. How he sees the aspect of my interaction with people that makes me have different perspective, and makes my life different. It’s actually an optimism thing.

In allowing the universe to make things always work out, in accepting that I get that “god given right” (to say it how some might understand), this belief that I will only have good things happen and good interactions with people, it means that is exactly what happens. Not 100% of the time… hell, I’m not Jesus, but most of the time.

It’s like working with the universe, is working WITH optimism. And what does that get you? Unicorns and Rainbows.

Tuesday, June 10

What not to Wear

What not to think, what not to say to yourself, what not to resist, what not to give up on.

A couple years ago I got rid of my tv. Before that, I watched a number of shows religiously, and one of those was What Not to Wear with Stacy and Clinton.  Some people will roll their eyes simply by my saying that, but let me explain.

For me that show was never about fashion or trend. Not about the cut of a pant leg, the shoes that work best with what length of skirt, layering, accessorizing, or how to wear your eye shadow.

Artwork by Gabrielle
Instead, that show was about what happens to a woman who doesn’t see herself as beautiful, and doesn’t try to feel beautiful anymore. Most of the time the story about her says she got too busy with children or career, and at some point she gave up caring about all the elements that equate to appearance.

Often these women let their self esteem slack and slide along with the not caring. Then when they were asked about how they saw themselves, it became evident they needed some perspective help. The perspective bit on the show always starts with the 360 mirrors. These mirrors are so we can not only see what they are wearing, but hear them talk about how they see themselves and the clothes they put on. Sometimes this is one of the most shocking parts of the show.
(If you are familiar with it, no doubt it’s coming back to you.)

Then we always move on to the part where they have been brought to the studio in New York to put on their clothes they want to keep, while being shown why these clothes don’t look good on them. Then they get shown examples on maniquins of the types of outfits that would look good on them. It is here that there is often upset. Women always have reasons for why they see themselves the way they do. When these reasons (perspective) get challenged, and disagreed with, swallowing the new ideas about their looks, and taking on new perspective is hard.

So hard in fact, that when they set out shopping on their own, many women ignore the rules they should go by, and buy more of the clothes that they were told look bad on them.

Now I jump to the end of the show.

The new hair cut and color gets explained, along with the makeup application for their face shape. And at this point, they get to see themselves with a change from the neck up.

I have to admit, that every single time a woman sat in that chair and cried at what she was seeing in the mirror, I cried too.

The power in liking yourself more, for any reason, is real power. Its power that opens doors, creates ideas, builds confidence, and totally increases self love. And increasing self love is one of the most amazing things that can happen in life. Of course I’m going to cry!

Then they don’t get to use a mirror as they get dressed in new clothes, and have to go face Stacy and Clinton with new hair, face, and clothes all in place. Then what happens is they see themselves complete for the first time, while hearing how they are seen by the two fashion experts.

Again, if tears fall in the joy of self love, I too will be crying. Self Perception is one of the most amazing things in the world. It’s one of the most beneficial, and one of the most harmful. How we see ourselves dictates how we live our lives, how we interact with people, and quite literally –who we become.

I don’t care how old you are, you are still growing, and still becoming you. Which for some means cementing the opening to the mind further shut, and for others it is expanding the mind by making the opening bigger and letting more stuff in.

Really, What not to Wear, could also accurately be titled, What not to Think.

Monday, June 2

Someone who is Solace

One of the things I spend a lot of time writing about but not sharing, is how I see my life married vs. single. Not because I want to compare the two, but because I have done so much growing since divorcing my husband of 12 years. Many light bulbs have come on, many dots connected, so many realizations have happened since becoming single, that I have no choice but to notice and compare the two ways of life.

I also spend so much more time with people in general since becoming single. I have changed my job, and changed my way of thinking. I also notice relationship dynamics so much more now that I interact with more people, and on a shallow cheerful level for only moments at a time. As compared to my last job and the detail in which I had to delve into people lives. 

I’m fascinated how my current job seems to allow me to be myself more, and in that, I get to know myself better. I'm in a job that forces perspective because the nature of what I do is not life altering, or anything important. I work with coffee, and so I get to hand over a smile, and a much wanted cup of happiness. If anything goes wrong, "it's coffee, we fix it." But in this line of non-critical work, talking to many people, and finding myself perfectly comfortable to be myself, I get to have new comparisons on my life single and free, vs tied and married. No I'm not going to go off on a tangent about marriage and how awful it is, (which it sounds like I'm going to do.) I just want to point out that when you are single, and free to be yourself, responsible for only yourself, you are allowed AND forced to feel everything. There is an element of freedom in the responsibility of only worrying about yourself, but there is also a burden of responsibility because you have nobody to rely on to get the bills paid, help you solve problems, or have a shoulder to lean on.

What has also happened, is I am liking myself more. It's like I'm finally knowing myself, I'm able to be myself, and I am more me than I have been at any time in my life. I think this is also because of age and finally realizing that the opinions of others don't matter. My life, I rock it, or I don't. My call.

I might sound like I'm in love with the single life. I'm not. I am getting to know myself well enough that I see how much more enjoyable life can be when you have someone to share it with. Laughing, Eating, Walking, Sightseeing, these are things that are LESS fun alone, and four things I want my life to be full of.

I’m a little slow to my point again (this happens a lot lately), but I’m wanting to acknowledge something that many of us miss out on. When we fall in love and get married, we don't always know ourselves to begin with, and we are young enough we don't have the education that comes with experience and comparison. What many of us don't find, and don't know we should find, is someone who is Solace.

When you find someone who is Solace for you, they are easy to be with, you can be yourself, comfortable talking and comfortable in silence. They make you feel like you don't need to do anything but enjoy them. And then when you are in their company, you can't think of anywhere you would rather be.

I’ve decided this is not a skill, but a working combination. Like salt and pepper, cheese and cucumbers, peanut butter and honey. When you find that winning combination, and you get to feel Solace with someone, do two things: appreciate every minute of it, and don’t let it go.