Friday, December 16

Comparisons & Happiness

The older you get the more you have in your library of life. The stories accumulate, the pictures increase, the lessons become vast, and the ability to compare is totally different than it was when you were 8.

Years aren’t the only thing that increases the size of ones library. Paying attention as the lessons come at you and then cataloging them so you don’t have to learn the lesson again. And not just that, but the ability one might have to relate a lesson to other aspects of life. Two people could be the exact same age, but one could have a million more lessons in their library to draw from and use for comparisons.

Each of us has had very different experiences that mold us into the person we currently are. People come into our worlds in every shape and dynamic. Some coordinate, some don’t. It’s the comparisons of previous relationships/lessons that save me much time and heartache. I have learned there are those that coordinate, fit, work, click, and allow ME personally to decide what does and doesn’t serve my happiness.

I say it that way because I decided in my teens what the meaning of life is. Even at a young age when I was tucked up in religion, I had that giant light bulb of realization for me -that the meaning of life is happiness. The aim, the goal, the point, the reason for it all… is to be happy. Not that this has to be the meaning of life for anyone else, but due to the size of the light bulb for me… this is MY meaning of life. And frankly, every person gets to decide what their meaning is, or that there is none. Our only real freedom is what we think, and some give that freedom away to be TOLD… only to regurgitate something that is NOT from their own heart and mind. Which is different from saying one can learn OF something and decide to incorporate it into their belief system.

I digress…

If the meaning of life for me is to be happy, and my library of life has many examples for me to compare things/people against, I should really be a little more honest with myself when a relationship (two people relating) looks and feels like something that isn’t bringing happiness. Thing is, I’m a classic enabler… doing my best to be happy, making sure others are happy, and trying to lighten the mood wherever possible. “Everything’s ok, and here’s why…” I buck up, and just ‘do’ with a jolly fist punch/bent elbow through the air, telling myself that everything will be ok if I stick it out.

This is not utilizing my library. Nor is it following my core belief for the meaning of life. Because enabling is insisting I don’t have to use the library, and that I don’t have comparisons to draw from. Years of conditioning made me the amazing enabler I am today, but being an enabler is false happiness. It’s the goal of happiness and it stops there. Enabling is something I need to stop because I have a pretty f***ing amazing library. I have some INCREDIBLE people and relationships to compare others against.

And bluntly, when I have friends that make me so excited to see their name flash across my phone, and others that make me feel dread, therein lies the ease in using the library. Right there is my comparison.

My muse told me the other day: “There is goodness in the rubble and we choose to keep sifting…way past the point of diminishing returns.” My muse is right. The enabler in me wants to keep sifting, insisting, and trying, despite what one could call “proof” there is no longer good reason to sift.. I have the comparisons, I have the information I need in my library. How about using it?

Friday, November 4

Who matters?

It’s fair to call my current thoughts on “mattering” a fixation. I’m a little overwhelmed by the thought that one day the person I matter to most in my world (my mom) will be gone. Typing that is even hard. My mom lost her mom in her 20’s, and I can’t even bear to think what that would have been like. My mom has spent my whole life showing me that I matter to her, in more ways than I could possibly explain to anyone. So although she’s number 1 on my list of knowing who I matter to, I’ve been wondering who might also be on that list, almost thinking I will be needing a reason to live when one day my mom is gone. Who do I matter to enough to want to live?

Shit, that sounds almost suicidal, no… that’s not how I mean it. Life is full of doing things because we need to. If there were nothing needing us to do anything, I have a feeling there would be very little happiness overall, very little fulfillment, and lots of depression. For example: I need to have a house, therefore I need to go to work, doing so because the work needs doing. Ultimately it’s people that need me doing that work, and in that circle of neediness, they are fulfilled, I am fulfilled, and I have my house. Dumb example, but it works.

So in needing to have a reason to live, mattering is at the core for me. The majority of people have children and being a parent automatically means you matter to your child. Everything about their life puts you in a position of mattering. Once I divorced, and not having children, I realized there really weren’t many people I mattered to. It was back then after the divorce that I realized I had so few reasons to eat, to get out of bed, to do anything. The main reason living next to me every day for 12 years was gone, and nobody knew if I got out of bed or ate or lived… except those few that I mattered to.


Mattering and being loved are not the same. Someone can be loved without mattering, but mattering is another level of love. Mattering is where love becomes a knowledge, not just a feeling. Mattering isn’t as ethereal as love. If love were a book, mattering would be having read the book.

Love tends to be reciprocal, mattering is not necessarily so. To matter to someone does not mean they will automatically matter to you, or vice versa. It’s likely when one matters to someone, the someone will matter to the one… but that is conditional upon circumstance, perspective, perception, and a number of things including priorities of any given individual. Mattering is a choice, it creates reaction, it cements action… it’s so many things I struggle to explain because it’s almost impossible to turn love into something non-ethereal. So there, mattering is more solid.

It is here that I am required by my heart to admit I am loved by many people. I wouldn’t want anyone that loves me to think for a second I don’t know it. I do. I’m so incredibly lucky to be loved by some amazing humans.

It’s the lack of knowledge in mattering to some that matter to me that has been making me so analytical as of late. It was also the realization of a friend treating me like gold that I realized it’s impossible for someone who treats me that good, to not matter. It’s a level of communicated importance… that’s what it is! That’s what my mother has done. She has communicated to me in so many ways that I’m gold to her, that I’m important to her, that I MATTER.

Knowing I’m worth mattering doesn’t make me matter to anyone because mattering is something that becomes… it’s created… it happens through time and experience and is shown TO and felt BY because of dedication and attention… again, importance.

Understanding the craziness that passes through my heart is something I really strive to do. I’ve said it before, the heart feels, the mind thinks… getting the two to communicate and understand each other is so satisfying when it happens because it doesn’t happen often enough.

These are heavy thoughts that will border on nonsense for some. I’m not writing to be understood, I’m writing to understand. This fixation of mine has me over-thinking life, over-thinking communication, and most importantly has me feeling a bit too uncomfortable for my liking. The desire to matter in life is a real one for me… not yet sure to what level my need of mattering is… I just know it’s there.

Tuesday, October 18

Caves

I’ve found myself in an uncomfortable dry spell of writing, and I’m finally willing to admit it has everything to do with the realization that some friends weren’t friends, or at least aren’t anymore. That uncomfortable space of having shared so much, to only now want to retreat into a cave and be unseen by them has me not wanting to write or share my thoughts out of annoyance they might read my words and know something of the person hiding in the cave now.

I make it sound like that is an embarrassment… like I am almost embarrassed for the loss of friendship. No, it sounds like that but it’s more a desire to be invisible to them specifically. Now that I’m in the cave and wanting this, I have rewound and replayed numerous events and conversations that have me wondering why I was so invested in being wheel number four to these 3 individuals. Yes I loved them, yes they loved me, but the events that unfolded that led to my unwillingness to be one of the four corners of a smooth ride has me seeing that nothing changed but my willingness. I said “no more”. I said “I want change”. The other 3 didn’t get to have a say in my decision, because it came at a point beyond remaining comfortable, so I did the cave thing and although they know where my cave is… I wish they didn’t.

What’s also annoying, is that this feeling of wanting to disappear; it's childish. You know that little girl who you tell she’s pretty and since she doesn’t want you looking at her, she covers her face. I feel like that annoying little girl, but the desire to cover my face is very real. It’s led me to not write and share. Writing has always been an inherent desire. I’ve let people who don’t deserve to control me, stop me from doing something I love to do all because of where I’ve put them in my head. I chose to enter this cave.

It could border on paranoia… that I think they give a shit. The funny thing is there are no signs they give a shit, I just really really don’t want them to give a shit! So I’ve let it affect me.

I belive whole-heartedly in the power of decisions. I clearly decided something that harms my creativity, and I need to not undecided it, but instead make a new decision that is bigger than it. Wrapping my head around what decision that is, is where I am now feeling stuck between wanting to write and still being unable to let myself flow because of who might read it.

And there it is… I’ve just told myself that what others think matters, when I’ve spent years preaching and believing that the only person whose opinion matters is your own.

I’ve seen the harm that a cave creates. I know that isolation is not the answer. I’ve watched it make others closed-minded and intolerant. I don’t want to be one of those people, so to resist isolation is a hard one. It is only in isolation that you can cry with your ugly face, that you can be depressed, that you can eat, drink, or wear anything and even if it leaves snot on your chin, chives in your teeth, or a contorted bed sprawl,  and nobody in the world knows. That is the appeal of the cave. Plus I’m a thinker… the cave provides insatiable thought/analysis/conclusion/decision. I’ve done it before with a broken heart, and the cave helped. But this time around, there is discomfort in the need for the cave, and the staying in the cave. I think this time the way out of the cave is to bite the bullet and write, irrespective of it being read by anyone or everyone.  Ya, I feel like I’ve left my clothes in the cave and come out naked, but that won’t kill me. Staying in the cave might.

Tuesday, June 28

The Unguarded and their EASE.

There is so much that frustrates me about my job, and so much I love. The people I work with are definitely part of the love and it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say some have become the highlight of my life. Which I’m sure would sound pathetic to some, since I don’t have children or a husband to say that about, but for me, that possibly-pathetic-fact means that I have that space open to seeing the specialness in anyone and them being a “highlight”.

And let’s define what I’m considering “specialness”. It’s an inner beauty. A window people provide to see their genuine nature and for you to feel love for them. We all know someone who has the ability to listen to you on levels the rest of the world won’t. They don’t just hear you, but they relate to you, interact with you, share with you, and respect you… and vice versa. Which might be me realizing that one has to be special in order to see someone who is special.

And then… not everyone who is special is unguarded, that’s an additional element I’m thinking about lately. Unguarded is hard to describe because it’s a way some people have. Same with the guarded. The guarded ones are hard to read, hard to understand, easy to offend, they are stiff, they don’t show emotion or communication with their expression. They won’t use words to help you know where you stand or where they are coming from. They are difficult in multiple ways that leave you feeling like they refuse to understand, refuse to communicate, and refuse to relate on a genuine platform. So really, I just explained what someone unguarded doesn’t do.

And that’s also why I refer to their ease. The older I get the less I have room for things that frustrate, confuse, or unnecessarily takes energy from me. Dealing with or trying to understand a guarded person is so much harder. They often have an aloof control drama that has to be part of all interaction with them… which is very much a way to steal energy. Many of us even say, “I have no more energy for so-and-so right now”. Without actually realizing that yes, they take energy. We see it more as being too tired for them to be in our space any more for a while. Same goes for people playing “mind games”… they are after energy. Speaking of which, just interacting with them and allowing them to feel powerful or as though they can control your feelings is how they take energy without your permission. So NO interaction is the only solution there.

I have two young people in my life right now that are like poster children for this thought about being unguarded and guarded. They are 17 and 19. To write about them in the same sentence brings me feelings of anxiety because I would be horrified if the 17 year old ever met the 19 year old, and the amazingly beautiful unguarded nature of the 17 year old was tainted by the 19 year old. I’m suddenly feeling all protective at the thought because I see the unguarded person as so incredibly perfect in her ability to be herself when she tells a story, asks a question, or just sits and hangs out, content with herself and life. The 19 year old is yes, two years older and might (MIGHT) be guarded because of those two huge years from 17 to 19 when you suddenly have to grow up a chunk. Sure personal circumstances and pain in life are factors in how guarded or unguarded a person is, but I think it’s possible that the 19 year old was far less guarded at 17. Plus he is a guy. So Ya, I’m comparing apples and oranges because girls have so much more emotion overall, it’s easy to interact with more emotion when you have it to begin with. I know guys in general are more shallow in everything, but for my point, gender doesn’t matter because I know guys who are Unguarded, and they are a joy to interact with.

While I have this guarded/unguarded nature on my radar and I meet new people (which is constantly) I am buoyed up in my hope for the world the more I see the unguarded ease in strangers. Just lately, I think I need more hope in people.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I have a “thing” for self esteem. I’m preoccupied by it constantly, and write endlessly about it. Although I’m not going to turn this into a self esteem essay, I do want to just hypothesize that a guarded person is far less comfortable in their skin than an unguarded person. Being unguarded means that you are making gestures, expressions, feeling chill, and seemingly far more comfortable with yourself than someone who appears to be “unable” to show the same.

Friday, June 10

Can you be bothered?

Can you be bothered to:
Accept
Move on
Learn new things
Succeed at something big
Find your joys
Explore
Watch the sun set
Listen
Close your eyes and picture it
Dance
Find greatness
Find love
Sing
Feel happy
Change something
See the gray
Consider crazy possibilities
Ignore old dumb shit
Believe there’s more awaiting you
Snuggle
Find words to explain
Grow
Stop doing what upsets you
See your shortcomings
Take a chance
Taste something new
Consider the possibilities
Hope for the best
Stop thinking about the worst
Allow the universe to deliver

Can you?

Thursday, May 12

Just 1 LIKE

I’ve been noticing two things about self esteem lately. There seem to be people out there that just do it without obvious reasons to be ABLE to do it, and there are those who seem totally unable to do it and continually strive for acceptance irrespective of their great outer appearance.

So many people seem to be consumed by the need to be “liked”. I even know people making youtube videos talking about feeling this need, and how big it is. What they don’t seem to know or remember is that 20 years ago there were no likes en mass happening, and therefore nobody needed it. NOW, it has become part of life--being “liked” or not—by large numbers of people.

I think part of the reason is that people are spending more time online and less time in the company of actual people. In doing this, humans are training themselves. Training themselves to what? To be insecure, to be shallow, to not seek healthy interaction, and ultimately—training themselves to not like who they are without electronic validation.
Frankly, the world is becoming more and more shallow. I’m not saying I’m not part of it… I can say I see this because I too am noticing being pulled in. I just happen to be someone noticing and saying, “this isn’t cool” “this isn’t necessary” “let’s have normal interaction back” “I’m sick of cyber life”.

I see young girls making choices that literally revolve around the idea of being found beautiful by others, which they hope will make them feel validated and liked. Men too… it’s frightening actually.

I think we are reaching saturation in some things, and by saturation, I mean many are finally convinced by rubbish beliefs. So much so that we seem to have a common “type” of people that we’ve not had before. It’s a shallow type of person that doesn’t know what priorities are, they have no general sensibility, they strive for attention and likes instead of pursuing dreams, practicing talents, and making their “art”.

This current uncomfortable state people find themselves in is almost unnameable. It’s new, it’s messed up and humans are altering. Cyber-loathing, Cyber-validation, interweb-cred. Its false self esteem attached to an electronic device dependent on social media.

Then there is “Sharing”. It is done on such massive scales; 6 degrees of separation might be down to 3 or 4 if we take fb into account. So when people are “liked” and they “share” it can be by hundreds or thousands of people. And if not them, they are seeing hundreds and thousands of people liking things. This seems to be communicating to some, that it’s necessary for LARGE numbers of people to “like” you.

I’m kind of freaking out how shallow everybody seems to be getting. One of the reasons I say shallow is that they are reaching conclusions that are erroneous, and based on other shallow people. The blind leading the blind, essentially.

I’m rarely stuck for words, I can usually find the calm to explain myself, but the nature of this subject, and the twisted views of people these days—have me freaking out a little.

I’ve put so much time and effort into writing and sharing successful ways to self esteem and self respect. I am a product of my own success in this area, and never do I suggest to people that it is important to be liked by others.  People are reaching this conclusion and destroying themselves because they don’t have all these “others” liking them.  And even when they do, it’s not enough. The “fuel” is in constant likes. When will enough people like you? What number is that? There isn’t, it's unending.

People are getting it backwards and destroying themselves in the process. I have been privy to conversations lately where people don’t seem to know that when they like themselves, EVERYTHING changes. Life changes, the world changes, and the PEACE everyone is looking for arrives. It’s NOT in the knowledge of others liking you! It’s in the health of liking yourself!!  Once you do that, people can’t help but like you… so what you seek erroneously is actually a byproduct of a better choice. The one where if you like yourself—nobody else matters.

I know so few people who believe or understand this because every body is spending time on their phones and tablets getting conditioned. Conditioned to have no attention span, conditioned that they are not as awesome as everyone else, conditioned that they need to be liked. The list goes on and on. And here I sit wanting to shout “Somebody stop and think! Look what you are doing to yourself”.

I have written so many times about being genuine. Be who you are and people will respond. Here I am saying it again.

I work with a lot of young people, and I see how difficult it is for young people to grasp what I’m saying. Clearly a woman over 40 has far less to lose where the “cool factor” is concerned. And they probably also think we don’t need to be liked by others at this stage of life. So every chance I have I talk about the fact that nobody will ever be liked by everybody. And it’s totally normal. It’s totally ok. It’s life. They are a bit shocked when I say “I’m not perfect, I never will be. There will always be people who don’t like me. What I have finally accepted is that it doesn’t matter if people love me, OR if they hate me. I LIKE ME. I LIKE WHO I AM. I LIKE MY LIFE”.

THAT is what people are searching for but don’t know it. That space of comfort in being able to say, everybody won’t like me. And it’s just fine.

One of my mom’s favorite sayings is: “You can’t care what people think of you, they do it so seldom”.

It’s a self-centered world. Most people are out there worrying about what they look like and what others might be thinking about them. Their concern is not how liked you are, or how freaking hot you look today.

But you know what does matter? You finding you hot. You liking you. Feeling comfortable in your appearance, that you like the way you look. THOSE feelings will make you an attractive person.

So, quit! Be the person you want to spend time with, and you will always be in good company. Pretty sure this is contrary to what you are currently telling yourself, but answer this: How successful are you currently in liking yourself and your life if you are putting more credence on the thoughts of others? (Most of whom you don’t even know)

How many people like you now? When will you know enough people like you? To what level do they need to like you? Is there ever going to be a number of “likes” that will cement your comfort? What is your “LIKE” goal? How many is enough? How will you know when you’ve reached enough?

Do you get it yet? Like yourself. It’s just one like you need.

Sunday, April 10

Gray is Good!

A codependent relationship is one that is dysfunctional and unequal -in that one person tends to be unhealthy emotionally or physically, and the other enables it or makes the dysfunction ok. Essentially fulfilling the void or fixing the mess created by whatever unhealthy aspect the individual lives with. Sometimes both parties are doing this for one another, both unhealthy, and “fitting” or “filling” the problems so they can continue and perpetuate the dysfunction.

It is in huge part because of the existence of codependency that in contrast, the people who are able to live and thrive healthily emotionally and physically, while being “alone” that we see their independence as such a marvelous thing. And really, so much in life is done alone. All the hard stuff that happens in your mind, all the heartache, the fears, the woes. These are all yours and felt by you. When one meditates, one does it alone.
There is so much to show us that autonomy/singularity/independence, when achieved, is a good thing.

I have personally experienced the benefit of autonomy when I finally accepted that I like who I am irrespective of anyone else in the universe liking me. Which is a silly thing to say, because really, liking yourself means you are someone likable, and naturally others like you too. BUT, for me it was in the realization that I could think I was a pretty cool person, worthy of being loved EVEN IF the person I wanted to be loving me and finding me a cool person had “exited the building”. I was alone, and I was fine. I can be happy in that space.

(It was that realization that first started me on a path of “independent of anyone” -happiness. I say that in quotes so you see where my thoughts were. Not that I actually used this terminology as the lesson unfolded.)

So, here I sit, sounding as though I’m going to sing the virtues of autonomy when the reason I sit is because although I have learned that being autonomous of anyone else, is vital, I’m now experiencing and FEELING something that feels like stage two.

Lets look at it this way… if codependency were black, and complete autonomy were white, what are all of the gray shades between the two? Positive places or, negative places? Because nothing is only black and white. I am starting to realize that in this too… there are so many stages between, and honestly, what gray stage is “healthy” or “necessary” is not across the board the same for everyone. It’s in realizing the white isn’t for me, and that I want a shade of gray that I’m suddenly feeling awe over it and looking for a way to explain it.

Here’s some obvious shit. We aren’t living on a planet alone. We don’t get to isolate ourselves, we have to interact. We have friends, we find lovers, we interact with one another on a continual basis, and all the lessons we learn in life have everything to do with us not being alone. There would be far less lessons experienced if you were on an island and not a continent surrounded by people.

Not just social things from social interaction, but emotional things, from loving others, intellectual things, from listening to others, experiential things from interacting with others.

Lets ignore the black side of the scale. The codependent side. The totally unhealthy side where people are miserable and perpetuating it either by choice or by choice to do nothing.

I want to ask where falling in love is on this gray scale. From white being totally alone, and black being totally dysfunctional, where can love fall? Anywhere right? Depends on the individuals.

Well, I have realized that there is a lack of happiness not just in the black, but in the white too. And I say that not because the white isn’t a happy place, I say that because the joy and love and greatness that comes with being in love, is not in the aloneness of white space. In order to feel these things from another, you ARE living in a gray space that isn’t all about the self (the white).

So, with that making sense, I can say I’ve realized that depending on the connection, the individuals, and the quality of the relationship. It’s possible to meet someone and have a relationship that is near the black/unhealthy end of the grayscale wheel. It’s not co-dependent, it’s just not ideal, nor conducive to both parties remaining happy. How this happens is down to many reasons, but for the sake of ease, I’m going to say compatibility.

I have been in a gray space where I continually told myself things would change. The color of the gray space would change soon, and it would feel better. It would click suddenly, it would change. I did this for a very long time until one day I had no choice but to admit how incompatible we really were. That shade of dark gray was very uncomfortable, and I knew it for a long time.

What I also had to admit was that I had previously experienced a lighter shade of compatibility gray earlier in my life, and so I knew what it was like for someone to feel already a part of me.

(*I think I need to make this a scale that is unchanging… the people change.)

Where you are most comfortable on the scale has everything to do with you. The scale doesn’t change, YOU decide where your happiness resides. And this gets more complicated when I say that each person has a gray scale, and the most successful relationships are because they are living in the same shade of gray. The level of independence to dependence for each of them makes a better relationship when the two MATCH. Some people WANT to be in the white. Totally independent, ok with not sharing themselves with another. This is neither wrong nor right, it’s individuality.

Being pulled into a shade of gray different than the one you are most comfortable in, will keep you uncomfortable. Again, that is neither independent, or codependent, it’s finding your spot, and someone else in the same spot. This is where one would say they found their twin flame. That person that matches you so well, you are literally experiencing something that feels like you are in a different place, but really, they are cementing you more into your comfortable spot.

I’ve been fighting independence, insisting it’s who I am and where I need to be -to be my best self. Now, quite suddenly I think I’m accepting I don’t want that pure white space. I’m really further along in a gray.

Wednesday, March 23

"Baby"

You know how two year old little girls want to have dolls? They love all babies, and it’s one of their first words that come out so easily as they point with chubby little fingers: “baby”. It’s fascinating that a baby could love a baby, and in the past I’d assumed the two year old didn’t know that they were a baby too, and just like all of us adults, they thought the baby was cute.

What if that two year old is not doing what all of us do, but instead getting excited about “this is someone little like me”. It has only just occurred to me that the recognition most of us have for those near our own age might be exactly what the two year old is experiencing.

I think it’s possible that this is what I was doing at 17 when I decided I wanted to go to Romania and hold babies. I didn’t know anything about the world. I was by today’s standards completely and totally naive. We didn’t have internet, cell phones, or anything that connected and educated people so fast. I think it’s possible that this baby (me) saw babies in need and watched pointing with my chubby finger saying “baby”.

I knew I needed to go, I knew I wanted to help, but what my very young mind never considered, is that I can’t hold a baby and make a lasting difference. Ya, by the time I got there at 19 I was able to feel like some kind of adult love force to a child in the moment, but it was ultimately this realization and growing up I did in that year that had me see I was nothing. The ocean of what Romania was for this child had me like a single piece of plankter. My food value only minuscule.

I think the proof in my baby mindset at that age is clear now at this age. When I see terrible things in the world, I no longer want to take myself there to try and make a difference. I now feel powerless. I feel hopeless. I think of things like that crazy-haired maniac running for president that wants to build more walls between people, create more borders, print more labels to divide. My desire to look at a baby and want to help is still there, but now I have knowledge of the awful world we live in and all the awful people trying to make it worse.

If there are other planets out there, populated with “people” of any kind, I really doubt they are living with the chaos and division we do on this planet. We have a special kind of fucked-up here. One that creates orphans in the first place. Then doesn’t learn from history to see hate, war, and division doesn’t help people… it harms.

I do still have that two year old in me pointing and saying “baby”. I just also know the ocean of awfulness is bigger.

Saturday, March 19

So many levels of LOVE

Most of us find it pretty easy to love in various ways and measures. I love my mom, I love my best friend, I love my sisters, I love children, I love cats, I love dogs, I love coffee, I can love so many things, and all the while, I’m using one word: LOVE. None of these are exactly the same, despite me saying I love my mom, AND I love dogs. You totally can’t compare the two types of love, and it’s almost more accurate to say I don’t have enough words to use because love for my mom is totally different than love for dogs.

Another type of love is one we kind-of say differently: it’s IN LOVE. When we feel Love and Attraction at the same time, we have a clumping of the words into this smaller version of “in love”. Some people easily forget that attraction is part of this type of love, and that is the reason I’m writing.

This subject has come up in conversations a few times lately, and since I have stories that apply I sit to write and share. . Maybe this is the sign of getting old… “I have a story where that happened”.

So, love, lets move to love of a spouse and that attraction thing we get... When we love someone bigger than most, and we find ourselves so attracted and feeling so much love we want to get naked with that person. (I know I’m speaking in generals… you don’t have to be in love to want to get naked with someone, but I have a point to make, so bear with me.) We say we are “in love”. The thing that has been the subject of conversations is that many people are confused by falling out of love and still feeling love. Things change, people change, and when there are enough changes that the level of love changes, people get so upset and confused. The reason I seem to have so much to say on this when that subject has risen is that I have wrapped my head around my love changing a few times in my life. It’s not about who does what to make that love change… it’s just not finite, and like everything in this world it CAN change.

Part of the confusion or upset is when you no longer want to get naked with them. It’s like a giant put down. We feel terrible, and even guilty that we could say on one hand we love them, and yet on the other, be saying you do not want to make love to them.

I was faced with this after being with an alcoholic for 12 years. At the beginning of those years, when I first met him, I was in love with so many things about him. His face, his body, his confidence, his humor, his love of me, and countless things in between. Over the years of his drinking so much, (and the resulting conditioning of my feelings) I reached a point that my IN love just became Love. So when I turned to him wanting a divorce, the first thing out of my mouth had to be, “I still love you. This isn’t about not loving you. I just can’t continue being married to you.” At the time I couldn’t articulate my feelings that my love had changed. I only knew I still felt love.

I don’t think there is anyone I could love and stop loving. Love will always be there when I’ve loved someone, it’s the type of love and it’s quantity that changes. We only have this one word. It’s not like the measures of cooking a steak, that it can be named for rare, med rare, medium, medium well, and well done... No, with love it’s just one word, and so deep inside we don’t think of it as being something we can feel differently, or as something we have in different stages.

No doubt you are seeing my point… People who fall in love don’t necessarily stay that way. If they change the way they speak to each other, the way they treat each other, the intonation they use, the attitude they present, and a million more factors like how many times a person tolerates being let down or put on the back burner. There are so many factors that can and will dictate how “cooked” the love is. When we reach well done, it’s too late. All you have is tough love you struggle to chew.

Would I have ever wanted a divorce if the man I found the most handsome in the world had listened to me the first time I told him I didn’t enjoy him drunk the way I did when he was sober? If he had listened to my feelings and upsets, and if we had worked together to keep both of us happy? Would my love for him have changed? I can’t say I know for sure, but all things point to no. If he and I were able to communicate in the beginning, to listen, to learn, and move forward in what we felt, I wouldn’t have lost all hope that one day he would finally drink less. When that day finally came, and he told me he was going to drink less, it was 12 years into our relationship. I was more than well done. I was so cooked I was no longer part of the meal.

Here is where I admit to the world…So much damage to trust and love can happen in 12 years, and if you need convincing of that you are a dumb shit. So if after 12 years of being in a relationship, you aren’t happy, and you have to question whether or not your love has changed, you can believe right now, IT HAS. It most certainly has, because it doesn’t even take ONE YEAR of upset or wishing for change in order for a person to change and then their feelings to change, and even if love is still present, it too changes.

Many people try to “erase” the evidence of change. To decide that the upset didn’t happen. To start over. To try again. To forgive. All of these are great ideas, but how often do you see them work? My personal experience is that once you break something, it’s broken. You can glue it all you want, but it doesn’t heal, it doesn’t disappear, and I have never actually met anyone who has “fixed” their relationship and moved forward 100% great after having broken it. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I’m saying it’s so rare I don’t know where it exists.

Now the advice to those who get on this subject with me:

If you are in a relationship of loving someone, or someone loving you…you need to ask yourself if where you are at is already broken. If your relationship is new, you need to ask yourself if you care and LOVE enough to make sure that no breaking happens. How you do that, is to look at whether or not what you are doing is conducive to adding love, building love, encouraging growth of love, or if it is detrimental to love. Is being jealous of their friends detrimental to how he/she sees you? Are they going to love you more for being jealous? Are you going to look more appealing for being controlling? Is your tone of voice as “bitch face” going to make you look prettier? No? shocking!! Sorry, I’m really not shocked that acting in an unattractive way makes you LESS attractive. If you can’t wrap your head around this you are stupid. These are basic facts, ones that are always staring you in the face, and if being in love with someone is where you are and want to be, you need to look at how you are perceived, how you are acting…and therefore whether or not you are changing the way they love you.

Here is the secret to love… and I say secret because nobody seems to know it!!!

If you want to love and be loved to the full extent, BE somebody YOU love. Act like somebody you are in love with. How? Don’t be jealous. Be secure, be genuine, laugh often, know yourself and be yourself, don’t be possessive, always assume good intent, enjoy life, be understanding. Have boundaries as to how you are willing to be spoken to and treated. YOU are #1 Babe. These are just some of the things that if you do you will like who you are MORE, and the person who is in love with you will ALSO like you MORE… it’s cause and effect!! Imagine the love if you BOTH do it.


Friday, March 4

Ioana (the short story)

It’s pretty accurate to say that within the first couple months of being in the orphanage, I fell in love with many of the children. Yes, there were those that I didn’t really attach or connect to, but for those I did, it is very accurate to say I “fell in love”. When children show you genuine love, irrespective of your feelings or opinions of them, you kind of become powerless to staying where you are. You have to “fall”.

My little sister was one of those children. From the day I first met her I knew she was special. I don’t mean special as in more of something compared to someone else, no, I mean she and I connected. Ioana had a sparkle in her eyes, in her moves, in everything she was, and we fell in love. You have to hear that without adult meaning, and hear it the way two spirits, two angels, two energies… collide.

She didn’t speak my language. Actually, she didn’t even talk. She was abandoned around the age of two, and with nobody to teach or encourage her, like most of the children, she didn’t try to speak words. With attentiveness unlike any three year old I had ever met, she used her eyes, her expression, and her body to communicate. I couldn’t count the times she stared at my face seemingly saying “I’m so happy you are here”. Or the times she put her hands either side of my head and brought her lips to my forehead to hum, trying to convey my importance to her.

With the purity and beauty only children possess, she loved me.

Having told my mother all about this amazing little angel, and begging her to find Ioana a family, my mother decided she would adopt her. I had Ioana with me outside the orphanage the afternoon I was on the phone with my mom and she gave me the news. Never have I wanted to be more understood than that day when I told this sparkling orphan we would be sisters.

As months passed, this amazing little girl cemented my heart in love for her, but eventually I had to leave without her.

Two years later, the adoption was finished, and three of us went to Romania. My Mother, myself, and my younger sister Jenny. We left the airport in two vehicles with supplies for the orphanage, and I arrived a few minutes after my Mom and sister. I walked up behind Jenny holding Ioana, then around to face them. Ioana saw me and froze. Then she turned and looked at Jenny, then to me again. Suddenly she reached out to me and squealed in delight moving into my arms, hugging me, and then reaching out to Jenny to pull her face near mine. What a delight to have TWO! Using no words, she told us that she thought Jenny was Natalie, and now knowing what was happening, she was happier than ever. I will never forget her joy or the way it made me feel to not only see she still loved me, but automatically loved Jenny too.

I wish I could end this saying that special child bursting with love, still remains so today. 20 + years later, but she’s unrecognizable. The effects of Romania on a child caught up. In conjunction with adulthood that angel I fell in love with changed and disappeared. It seems like a sad torturous ending to say she became angry, closed, violent, and the opposite of love. She near enough hates the world. Still with no language skills, or ability to articulate any feeling, she shows her emotions in face and deed. I don’t know where that little girl I fell in love with went. She’s not here anymore, but I haven’t forgotten her. I remember perfectly her smiles, her laughter, her hugs and her squeals of delight. Things change, people change. But I got to fall in love, and I get to remember how special it was.



(How to say Ioana: The first syllable is the hardest to explain. It's similar to Yo, but has a slight e sound in front of it. eYo looks strange, but it's pretty accurate for the sound. Ana is pronounced ah-nuh. It is a three syllable name, but said very smoothly and not divided into three syllables the way an English name like Bethany is. After a couple years and her input, she decided to go by JoAna.)

Tuesday, February 16

Ramona

I’ve been working on a book I wrote when I was around 22. It’s an account of the year I spent in Romania at 19.  I’m really glad I have it because if I wanted to write the book now, at the age of 43, I wouldn’t remember all the details. However, since I DID write down all the details, as I read through it, my ability to recall the sights, sounds, and smells... is with vividness.

My goal in writing the book was to share the experience in general. Now as I read through it, with so much hindsight in what I felt, how I coped, what I was thinking, and how I feel about it now, I am continually crying.

At 19 I was strong enough to see and feel the sadness because my perspective on everything was still young perspective. I’m an old hag to pain, sadness, hardship, happiness, joy, and my now old perspective is wiser. Unfortunately I now see greater sadness in the life of a child that had no life beyond orphanage and hospital walls. 

I’m reading what I wrote about Ramona. She was dying a slow death from AIDS. I remember her tiny laugh that had everything to do with feeling joy at being held. She was like a bird, so tiny, but almost three.

I’m writing this because I’m hearing myself say a lot lately about enjoying life, living it to the fullest, being the best me I can be, and now suddenly I’m re-reading my book and I have the reality of Ramona in front of me. She never had any chance to “live life to the fullest” or enjoy it. She lived her life in pain and alone. Fighting for strength, peace, comfort, anything… doing it and dying completely alone in the world.

I feel so desperate to be told that Ramona will reincarnate as a lucky soul given everything she could want, including a loving family. I really can’t believe she only got one shot, and the whole experience was shitty because of the decision of a young mother to not keep her child in her arms, but to leave her to the walls and the cribs. A prisoner.

I don’t know how to quantify the benefit my year in Romania gave me, but I know this for sure: it gave me humanity. It gave me clarity. We are like continual dominoes… not one of us can fall over without touching another, be it good or bad.

Ramona died on my birthday. I’m going to insist it was so I knew she appreciated my domino touching hers.

Friday, February 5

Everybody has a “thing”.

I’ve sat down with the desire to articulate a thought, and as often happens with me, I’m sitting here going, “how do I explain this?” It’s very vague to say Everybody has a thing, and yet I’m pretty sure there isn’t a word for what I’m place-holding with “thing”.

So first of all, I am aware this post is even more Natalie than usual, but if you enjoy my craziness, keep reading.

Most people when interacting with strangers, say as few words as possible, make as little eye contact as possible, and move along as quick as possible. Humans are so easily uncomfortable in most situations. When you come across someone who isn’t uncomfortable, it’s obvious, and even refreshing. What I’ve noticed about the people who are comfortable is that they clearly are also comfortable with themselves. If the individual is uncomfortable in general, all situations will also be.

I see this all the time and I love to “get involved”. It is one of my favorite things to look somebody in the face and totally ignore their discomfort. I talk to them as though they are completely comfortable, and I do that by knowing they have a “thing”. 

I’m going to use the totally corny example of a diamond. The way a diamond becomes beautiful is by being cut multiple times into something with facets facing every direction. Life cuts facets into us, and no two people end up with the same facets. THIS is their “thing”. You never know when you are talking to someone what they have gone through, learned, accomplished, or anything, but by looking into them, and ignoring any discomfort, I get to see and hear more of who they really are. This thing I do makes it so easy for me to look past the ugly pieces humans want to throw out there. Rudeness, attitude, curtness, all kinds of non-beautiful interaction. By being unwilling to look at their discomfort or attitude, I get to see a bit of the real them and their “thing”.

Coming into contact with so many people for my job means that some people get used to me seeing their “thing” and they get excited because what they don’t know is I am showing them my “thing”. Being able to see someone’s “thing” changes things. It changes discomfort.