Listen. Your time is precious.
I can’t emphasize this enough. One of the biggest regrets I hear from my clients is, “I wasted time with a person who didn’t really love me.” Time is money, it is energy; it is the place where worry, joy, fear, and existence resides.
I want to save you time. And, in some ways, save your life.
It takes perspective. So, if I may, I am going to divulge what I know from three years of being a relationship counselor and human being. Here goes:
First, you evolve through experience. That is just how life works. So, some thought leaders would purport that “You can’t waste time.” Bull-shit.
There are definitely choices that zig your zag onto the fast-track while others derail you for years at a time. And some people need a lot of time doing the opposite of what is intrinsic to their being. It takes knowing what you don’t want to understand what you do.
The path is always unfolding.
Basically, if you want to get married and have a family, there is no reason to get on Tinder and hookup with someone who, most likely, does not want anything to do with a structured relationship.
Stay on the “hold-out” track rather than the “put-out” track.
And let me be clear, while marriage is no walk in the park, having a partner makes life better.
I’m sure you know this.
Maybe you don’t know that having a partner means being a partner. So, in this respect the only mistakes in life are the ones you don’t learn from. It takes time to become the person you want to be with.
In other words, you can always make a different choice or a series of different choices.
That being said, breakups can often feel like something that happens to you and not from you.
The second thing I know from the conversations I’ve had with countless clients and friends is that it is a son-of-a-bitch accepting that while you may hold the dream of forever in your heart and all that goes with it, the person who was supposed to be “the person” in that long-haul scenario just isn’t.
The experiences you had with “that one” can’t be duplicated or replaced. And, it is also a son-of-a-bitch when you want to keep choosing to be with “that one” and they don’t choose you. The point is, you have a choice.
Keep the dream alive of coming home, building a life, and reciprocal love. Don’t let that dream die because you or the person you were with didn’t have the capacity to hold it and to rock you steady.
Sometimes the most mature thing we can do is admit, “I’m growing in a direction that is contrary to my capacity to negotiate all the sacrifices needed to stay in relationship.”
It is up to you to prioritize the cascade of desires that accompany being alive.
Most often, and especially in this fast-speed western culture, survival gets priority most of the time. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard having the conversation about “needing more money”.
Actually, we need more connection.
Abusive relationships both romantically and in the work-place flourish when the focus is on survival. This energy produces less than enough all the time.
Specific to your breakup, which led you to this article because you are searching the internet for the answer to why you could be so severely rejected, disregarded, and your dreams were just shit upon, there are answers.
If you live, you learn. Some lessons will kick your ass—hardcore. When this happens, you have a choice.
The third thing I know from my human experience is that if something feels “off”, it is.
The biggest gains come right after you cut your losses. It can be difficult to know when to do what. At what point do you go from thinking about something to taking action?
Right now is the time to make different choices. Even more than this, decide.
Decide to give yourself the grace to feel your feelings but don’t let them dictate your behaviors.
Don’t stalk him or her on social media.
Don’t get into another relationship to distract you.
Don’t fuck around with your time.
Do slow down—like, really slow down.
Pour all that pain into being creative. Write, dance, meditate, sleep, eat green, and breathe.
Know this: We are all trying to survive. You are not the only person suffering from confusion. Further, you are not the only person suffering. You are not special in that respect. You can be one of the many people that shines a light into the world therefore illuminating others because you were brave enough to decide to let your light be bigger than your suffering.
So, the break down is this: choose something else. Ask for help instead of using your suffering to make you feel special. Worry is the absence of faith; turn inward. And slow down. Ask questions like, “What else is possible?” “What would it take for me to receive?” “What can I be right now to experience what I am wanting?” Then pause.
Your time is precious. It is up to you to decide how you want to spend it. That’s it.
And I wish you well-being.
They sit across from me—couples desperate for answers on how to stay together, singles panicked that their last love was in fact their “last love”, and partners at odds which each other who see breaking up as the only path to freedom or at least relief.
I would say that my life path has had a unique yet common trajectory. A friend pointed out to me that I exposed myself to every weird emotion possible and was meant to be a relationship counselor. She made this comment after I told her that my teen years were spent lusting after this nineteen year old air force guy who used to sneak me on base, into his dorm room, and there we would lay side by side. While he slept I would just stare at him and then go home, listen to Garth Brooks, lament and write really bad poetry.
In some ways, my life has been poetic. It has replicated the soliloquies, prose, and sonnets I poured onto paper as a youth.
In my life, love has mostly been tragic.
Of course I couldn’t accept that tragedy was the hallmark of love, so I set out to research it. I spend ten effen years in school, in and out of bad relationships, in love, falling out of love, single and happy, single and lonely, and just plain single. I traced the trail of love a thousand times over until I could look at it from a bird’s eye view and scrutinize it with the eyes of a lynx.
What can I say? Relationships are hard. It’s not just a well worn saying. It is so factual it could be a law.
In my life, in the lives of my clients, and in the lives of dear friends I’ve witnessed the elations that come with being in a couple and the sickening defenses that are employed when feeling misunderstood. Much of the time and energy that gets expended in relationship has to do with each party explaining themselves and making sure that the internal picture he or she holds for himself or herself is validated by his or her partner.
Validating someone else’s existence while maintaining your own is hard work. This is especially true when the person who is seeking validation has no fucking clue who they are. And who we are is a moving target.
It gets even trickier when both people are discovering who they are through the vehicle that is the relationship.
But wait, there’s more!
When in the relationship people often discover who they are by uncovering what they don’t want. And then there is even more. Once what is not wanted is discovered, plans begin being made for what to do about it and expectations get projected onto the other party about how they should act so that at least one person in the relationship can get what they want.
Game. Set. Match.
We haven’t even begun to complicate things. First there is a desire to get what you want. That desire gets projected onto a lover. Then that lover fakes like he or she hasn’t an insecurity and can be the thing you need or you just assume they will be. Next, you realize, “Holy shit! They are not living up to my ideal.” This process can happen in five minutes or five years. When it happens sooner than later it just looks like rejection but when it happens later than sooner it looks like a string of justifications.
It sounds like, “He was just so good in bed I couldn’t leave.” “She was pretty good company most of the time.” I haven’t forgotten about sex. No one ever forgets about sex.
Sex is the great multiplier (pun intended).
Even one night stands create history between two people who would otherwise remain as close as strangers who sit next to each other on the same flight. There are those rare and beautiful moments where this orchestra of ego, desire, lust, fantasy, mommy issues and daddy issues coalesce into a cohesive relationship. Hollywood has built an industry off of these moments.
And relationship counselors have built an industry on all the other moments—the crises and the awakenings.
So how can you tell if your breakup is a crises or an awakening? The simple answer is that it is a crisis if you jump into another relationship or use some form of distraction to numb out rather than take the time needed to be introspective. If you skip learning from what you’ve experienced—live the unexamined life—it’s a crisis.
And in crisis blame, codependence, and addiction often get confused for true love. There is no force more powerful than true love.
Having a long-term, lasting and sustainable relationship is a humbling experience. It takes time to arrive at a place where you can be genuinely curious about how your partner views the world. They are more than just a sounding board, a validation machine, or an approval meter. They are so fucking beautiful in their uniqueness that you can’t help but want to drink in all parts of them thereby being transformed.
Waking up requires listening. Listening, like wisdom, doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over the course of many nights, days, events, emotions, and celebrations.
If your breakup teaches you these things it is an awakening:
1. Be humble and listen.
2. You do not have the answers for someone else’s life.
3. You are your own person and must remain your own person.
4. Communication is king.
5. You are ten times more clear on what fits in your life and what doesn’t.
6. Timing matters. Right person. Wrong time. Wrong person.
7. Sex isn’t the point.
8. You are a better version of yourself for having loved, continuing to love, and for getting the fuck out when you did.
9. He’s not wrong. She’s not wrong. It just didn’t fit.
10. Love never dies. It just expands through the cracks of a broken heart.
It will take time to feel the pangs of crisis melt away and the insight of awakening dominate your awareness. It will take more time than you want it to. And in the mean time, you may numb out, hook up, get down, force the issue, play with fire, try again, isolate, burn time on social media, and so on.
Sometimes before we come more of who we are we are less of who we are. We people please. We flirt with delusions of grandeur. We sell out, put out, and numb out. On the way to awakening we pass through the gateway of fear and the terror of crisis.
You can’t really get it wrong.
Just keep going. Just keep growing.
The Truth About “Meant to Be”
Every single person has a soul mate and is a soul mate. There are several other fancy terms that encapsulate all the romantic notions humans perpetuate about love. Some are searching for “The One.” Others are holding out for their Twin Flame. And some people do meet their counterpart while others don’t.
So how do you know if what is occurring in your life is actually what is meant to be?
Simple answer, because it is. But, nothing about relationships is simple.
In fact, it takes a lifetime to get to know someone; that someone being yourself. It is the most steady and constant, albeit frustrating, relationship you will have. I know it is trite to say that and healthy relationships are predicated on high self-esteem—getting to know yourself.
Self-esteem is like Texas Tea; oil that is. It fuels a whole bunch of things, keeps things flowing and well, well oiled. Self-esteem is the voice that says to a lover who is not on the same page as you, “I understand we want different things and I am not going to give up my values to be with you.” Self-esteem can carry you through the valley of the shadow of death. Evil will fear you! And self-esteem is at the core of meant to be.
When self-esteem is in low supply a whole slew of dysfunctional behaviors act as understudies. They barely know the role and fake their way through the really important parts. The plot line comes right out of codependency and addiction.
Self-esteem says, “I am valuable and worth loving in a way that feels good and is honoring to everyone involved.” Its understudies say, “People and the world need to change to make me feel better and if they don’t there is something wrong that I will devote all my time trying to fix even if that means lying to myself and others.”
It is convenient to lie because it dispels the discomfort of not knowing. In other words, there are no certainties in life. Self-esteem gets this. Nothing lasts forever; even telling the truth. What was true for you at twenty, “I’m not ready to have children” may be a total lie at thirty.
Lies go on about forever. “It will always be this way.” That is the great illusion of romance, “Happily ever after and so on.”
Essentially, when you love someone and they don’t love you back; they could be your soul mate. Soul mates don’t always take the form of partners. Sometimes they are teachers—the most ruthless and brutal kinds. True soul mates sharpen our edges and dull our senses.
They can make us better people or lull us into a stupor that takes true loves kiss to wake from.
If a soul mate has drifted into your life, they are meant to be there and when they arrive will shape the role they play. If a soul mate shows up at a time when you are receptive to being in a committed relationship they may not feel the same. It is not because they are malice or cruel. It is because they are acting as a strong force in your life for self-examination.
Next to our parents our soul mates contribute the most to our lives. They can even help us repair all the damage parents do (there is no escaping it.)
And when things are charged up and alive between two people, it is natural to get attached. It is natural to fantasize about forever. It is natural to set goals and expect certain outcomes.
And things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, having the bottom drop out and then picking yourself back up again is what builds self-esteem. Being coddled creates the Peter Pans and Pinocchios of the dating world. Self-esteem transforms us into real boys and girls who know that you cannot change others.
You must simply let them be who they are. If this is done then who they are freely and willingly will choose to be with you or to not. There is no coercion or manipulation involved. Meant to be is the result of allowing things to be as they are.
It is the continued application of compassion and acceptance. It is the giving and receiving of freedom.
I’ve been in love with someone who has yet to develop the life skills needed to sustain a committed relationship and while his company was soothing in the moment it did little to provide me true security. In fact, for a while I tried to show him how amazing I was by giving and giving. This didn’t work because he, of course, could feel my desire for commitment under my giving. There were strings attached. So, rather than be false in my giving, I made a request for what I needed and set him free.
In this way, if he returns to my life it will be meant to be because choice not manipulation, truth not fear motivates both of our beings.
Say what you mean and it will give meaning to your being.
Simply, do not fret about outcomes that don’t match your desires. Your desires are being refined by such outcomes. And when you do get what you want it is because the timing is right, you are alive and full of choice, and all parties involved feel the same way.
The truth will set you free and it will determine your meant to be.
21st Century Love Letter
It’s me again. It seems we keep bumping into each other—one life after the next. This time around, I’ve managed to make it to my 34th birthday and you to your 33rd. I can’t help but wonder how long we have loved each other. Have we always loved each other?
If time and love are infinite, then it seems that this is the logical assumption: I have, in truth, always loved you.
The form you have taken in this life is a beautiful one. But, that is why I am attracted to you and not why I love you. Your generosity, creativity and wild spirit enliven those who come in contact with you. I’m invigorated in your presence, but this is not why I love you. Your struggles echo my own, therefore allowing me to cultivate greater empathy in my life. I’m becoming more aware of existence and mortality due to our exchanges, but this is not why I love you.
The reasons given to love another are but constructs of the mind. Lists of desires are but platitudes sought after by weary hearts that long for sanctuary. I’ve nothing of this nature to offer you.
And I give you this: I love you because I know nothing of love. It is inescapable. It has imposed itself upon me and so to it I surrender.
I do not pretend to understand it and I trust it as my guide.road
Our union has had many iterations including separation. The ache of distance between our bodies has broken me open. I stand on razor’s edge between sanity and total delusion only to utter the phrase a thousand times over, “I love you and I always will.”
This phrase is both a mantra and an attempt at forfeiting my limiting beliefs—the very essence of fear.
I can’t say with certainty that you will always love me. To demand more than you are willing to give is to enter into suffering. I’ve suffered enough but not so much that I won’t suffer again.
Fate is what life brings to us and destiny is what we do with it. You have been and are a part of my destiny and I’ve no idea what fate has in store for me. It may be the best. It may be the worst. And I choose to believe every part of this life is in service of my growth and overall well-being.
I love you because you remind me to be well, to take the path that harkens to my heart and tells me to live my own legend.
I love you as I’ve loved others. This is not a contradiction. It is just proof that love is that big. It extends beyond the reaches of our flesh. Love’s expression comes in many variations. It is both conditioned and unconditional. It is complete and unrefined. It is everything I’ve always wanted and nothing I’ve fully realized until meeting you yet again.
In short, I’m finding myself again by rediscovering you. Thank you for giving me somebody to love.
Relationship is Home
There are moments in life that feel impossible; moments where the vision of what could be is not enough to alleviate the pain of what is. In places like Boulder Colorado, Ashville North Carolina or Santa Cruz California people talk of these moments in astrological terms. “It is because of the eclipse that I feel like shit.” “It is because of the placement of the planets that I am having a difficult time manifesting my desires.” Granted, planets and moons have some sway but the real gravity in our lives can be found in the strength of relationships.
Friendships, lovers, parents, mentors, teachers, students and even passing acquaintances influence who we are and who we are becoming. Family is the original care-giving network. It is a place where values are instilled, morals are imbedded and love is shared. Of course, not all family structures are equal and romantic relationships is the playground where family patterns get repeated.
Romantic relationship is second to family in its impact to the directionality in one’s life. Moreover, romantic relationship is the egg to the chicken in that without it families would not form. And family is what you are born into while romantic relationship is something you choose. Some would argue that fate imposes both. Either way you slice it they are both influential and form the fabric of life.
Further, after childhood years are traversed adulthood is the labyrinth we all must walk through and it is not an easy journey. It is not easy because childhood is about learning the rules and adulthood is learning which rules you are willing to break. It is about becoming your own person.
Becoming your own person is both an exercise in awareness, willingness to participate and make some new rules. Simply, we learn who we are through relationships.
I was answering questions during my intake for acupuncture and one of the questions asked was, “What is home to you.” I started to describe a simple home filled with plants, a loving husband and simple decor. Then I paused and my heart answered the question in a succinct and sentimental manner, “Relationship is my home.”
I imagine this to be true for every sentient being. Home is where the heart is. It has also been said that wild hearts can’t be broken. It is poor misinterpretation to believe that wildness staves off defeat, disappointment or delusion. All hearts can be broken. But, wild hearts are wild because they cannot be domesticated by the will of another, the force of planets or the influence of family tradition. Wild hearts seek out and find their truth north.
Finding the second star on the right that leads straight onto morning takes perseverance and endurance.
A foolish farmer plants seeds and expects them to sprout the next day. The paradox of inspiration is that it can be felt instantly and take years to make manifest. Inspiration is the seed. Commitment is the soil.
The longing of the soul informs the timing of planting seeds. Every person has a dream. When I rise in the morning I never think about slipping on a suit and going to the New York stock exchange, plumbing clogged pipes or building a home. I think about writing articles, healing broken-hearts, dancing, hiking and doing things that nurture my soul’s longings.
I have come to discover that the visions we hold for our life could not come into our consciousness unless those visions are actually possible to realize. This is what is meant by “God does not give you more than you can handle.” You will not be inspired beyond your capacity to realize that inspiration. Think about the ingenuity of man. Think about Felix who skydived from space. Think about acrobats. Think about the Wolf of Wall Street. All reality begins as a flicker of a notion. These notions are then realized through movements, through reciprocal relationships and are refined through rejection.
And life is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
The comforts of home sport a wild heart. Initial inspiration plus devotion results in realization of desire. That which feels impossible now is but a moment drawing you back to the drawing board. Home can exist inside the arms of the one you love or it can be found inside the seeking of truth. Home is a road paved with yellow bricks that leads to a wizard with a single power—to convey the lesson that power lies within. Home is courage, brains and heart accompanying you on your life journey in the form of friends.
Home is the relationship you form with your existence. It is what it is. Be what you will be. As for me, I’m going home.
Author’s note: I dedicate this article to the love of my life. If I know what love is it is because of you and because of love I know who I am.
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The problem with forgiveness
The problem with forgiveness is that no one really understands what it is.
The only certain thing about forgiveness is that people are directed to do it on a daily basis.
“If you don’t forgive, you are just hurting yourself.”
This is a pretty strong argument to make. And attempting to understand forgiveness is precisely the problem.
Yet, some claim to be able to forgive and also not to forget. This seems like an outlandish claim.
How can you really forgive if you don’t forget?
Let’s break it down.
There are variety of definitions for forgiveness. It is the releasing of grudges. It is a pardon. It is transmutation. It is making peace with fear. It is embracing the moment and no longer being hostage to the past.
But, what happens when forgiveness becomes a prescription for being a good human? This too causes problems because being human means experiencing the entire spectrum of emotion. It is okay to feel hate in your heart. It’s okay to be pissed. It’s all a part of being a human animal endowed with very real instincts that are informed by a variety of emotions.
Sometimes when we are told to forgive it can sound like, “Stop defending yourself.” Or better yet, “Stop protecting yourself.”
The animal inside of us all knows just how stupid both of those statements are, because without defending or protecting we cannot live, let alone forgive.
A strong relationship is one that is defended and protected. A strong relationship exists within clear boundaries and agreements. There is very little ambiguity. A life without borders is unrecognizable and generally chaotic.
And there is nothing wrong with chaos. It just is.
I am speaking both relativisticly and definitively. I believe that forgiveness exists in the middle of these two world view points.
On the one hand, it is good to forgive. On the other, it is not good to forgive if in doing so one feels a deeper sense of personal violation—if it is inauthentic.
And, is there such a thing as inauthentic forgiveness? Is forgiveness and absolute or a journey?
In reality, you could replace the concept of forgiveness with musings about love. We would still talk about it in broad strokes and with conclusive statements. It is not humanly possible to do otherwise.
As a counselor, I listen to clients talk about forgiveness often. In today’s society, there is a premium on self-forgiveness. The topic dominates a large portion of the “self-help” section in today’s bookstores.
Clients who have even the mildest self-awareness talk about needing to love themselves, forgive themselves and approve of themselves. We all kind of know this, but are a bit clueless when it comes to actually doing it.
This is another issue with forgiveness: Is it a way of being or something to do?
The greatest way to understand this is through an old parable my philosophy teacher told in one of my college classes, “A young philosopher will ask questions believing he will receive answers. The old philosopher asks questions knowing it will only lead to more questions.”
Simply, forgiveness is a question not an answer. It can’t be arrived at.
And the greatest act of forgiveness available to humans is giving thanks and living in gratitude. So, if forgiveness is a question, “Thank you” is the answer.
Lastly, having an answer is not the same as arriving. It is tempting to treat forgiveness like an item on a check-list or giving thanks as an annual event. Actually, both are on-going. So, if you are struggling to forgive, know that it is nothing to be forced or to be remanded to the “been there done that” pile.
In really simple terms, don’t struggle with anything. Live your way into it. Life will thank you.
Break-up Rehab is a book about revolutionizing relationships by changing the way people experience break-ups. Join the movement and like the Thunderclap now!
THE PATH TO FREEDOM
Writing is my form of Alchemy. The excruciating events that have happened in my life have been transformed into medicine through prose and verse. I found my way out of the depths of despair after my mother died by writing about her life. I returned the blows ex-lovers delivered by transcribing the pain. If not for writing, if not for art and if not for creative expression freedom would be lost to me. I’d life a dull and mechanical life.
It is with this conviction that I write for you—dear reader.
Paths to freedom begin by taking up arms. For some this means rebelling against family tradition and for others it means climbing the corporate latter. Every fight begins with resistance.
The first impetus is to tame the wild beast inside our chest; to quell the discomfort. But, we—every living being—has an intrinsic ability to adapt and create. Necessity is indeed the mother of all invention. There have been times I’ve tempered my words for fear of offending others only to endure my own wrath.
It was once said to me that resistance is True North. Where there is the most discomfort there is the most treasure to be gained. The heart that labors to hold onto lost love until it is so fragile it can hardly beat is best served by letting-go. The fearful entrepreneur that would give up his profitless business within the first quarter is better served to hold on.
Resistance is often marked by the thing that is the most frightening. We all live with fear. It is a guiding force and most times a terrible guide. The disappointments the might occur, the loss of something that could happen are all underpin by fear. Fear has an endless breadth and reach into the past and the future.
And fear will never set you free.
Your own admonishment of a fixed identity is the next step in the path towards freedom. Now is the moment to remember that beyond utility and effort we all are the great I Am. The definition of our lives lay not in the knowing who we are but in the understanding what we are.
We are creators. The further we move from this truth the more identity devolves into rigidity.
Understanding is precluded by evaluation. Before one can know what they do not know a period of evaluation or introspection must be embarked upon. The famous dictum, “An unexamined life is not worth living” may as well be a mile marker on the path to freedom. Mind you, a life under perpetual scrutiny is encased in the chamber of neurosis. This too is not worth living. So, introspection has its limitations and once they are reached surrender is the next step on the path.
In my life I have had the tendency to live in denial of impermanence. In fact I war against it by telling long stories about the future otherwise known as goal setting. A goal can be an extension of the imagination but it can also be a petulant aspiration. When facing the great void my perspective becomes black or white. I am subject to duality.
Surrender is the reconciliation of duality. It is, but for a moment, resting in the notion all things are simultaneously true and valid and nothing is true nor valid. The mind cannot stay here for long and the heart can live here forever.
Emotions are infinite. They extend beyond the reaches of time and space. Therefore feeling your feelings without borders is unconditional love. This is the path of freedom.
Love passes through our bodies and in and out of our lives to the extent we can feel it. A broken heart is an open heart. Love is never absent; it just presents as different energies. The one we prize the most is only a construct of the mind and born out of survival instincts.
I have experience both the death of my mother and father. This caused me to first question the meaning of life and then to arrive at the realization; there is no meaning but the one we give it. There is no sense in institution nor gravity to things that our hearts are not in alignment with.
I despise loss and see it as no more than frivolous tragedy. None the less, loss has plagued my life. It is the shadow of death that accompanies me through the valley of life.
I’ve no more eagerness in my heart to become something because I know that I am all I can ever be. I just have to remember what that is.
So, the last exercise in waling the path of freedom is to remember. First, there is the fight. Then there is the acknowledgment of fear. Then there is reconciling ourselves through introspection followed by surrender. Radically letting go and feeling feelings allows for unconditional love. This love is the connective force to all that was and will be.
We have to endure all of this to finally come to the gateway of freedom—we must remember. Seekers of freedom must ascribe to realities beyond perception. They must bask in imagination and be assured than the great nothing lasts forever.
We are living the never ending story which begins and ends on the path to freedom.
Just love yourself is a familiar phrase that can be difficult to apply when you don’t feel very good about yourself or the person you loved left. That being said learning to love yourself for real is essential to truly living, being happy and having fun. If you are struggling to love yourself, I will help you learn how. Contact me now and together we will connect to what matters most.
There are so many platitudes that exist in reaction to the pain that comes after separating from the one you love. It is enough to say it is one of the most painful experiences any human has to go through.
I wrote this article because I understand and because I know for sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you are struggling to see that light, I am here to help you shine.
Relationships are key to survival but they can also be the source of destruction. Learning the difference often takes years of practice, psychotherapy and the relentless integration of self-care.
It means everything to fall in love and even more to sustain a loving relationship with someone other than God (supposedly even God gets pissed). There is a lot of text in existence talking about the various facets of love. For the purposes of this article, love is about giving and receiving in disproportional and balanced measures. Healthy relationships involve equanimity but love is about giving.
There is no hard and fast definition for a healthy relationship and there is an absolute and definitive definition for an unhealthy relationship. An unhealthy relationship includes acute and chronic abuse in the form of mental, physical or emotional terrorism. The core of this type of relationship includes destruction, exploitation and deep denial.
Abuse can be blatant and it can be insidious. Threatening bodily harm, enacting physical violence and verbally lashing out are blatant forms of abuse. But, there are more subtle forms. I used to have this boyfriend who would get mad at me if I wore make-up. He would ignore me, withhold affection and then would give affection if I acted in a way that was pleasing to him. I was also in a long distance relationship that included an extended period of non-committal behavior from a man I was making love to.
It is fair to argue that commitment is a two way street but if one party is driving the wrong way down a one way lane, the respectful thing to do is not lead anyone on. It is fair to argue any of these points and once people are in the cycle of abuse they often do.
Phrases like, “He is just stressed” or “It won’t happen again” are common justifications for intolerable behavior. The reality is that in the beginning of a relationship abuse can be hard to spot. An adoring partner might slowly show signs of possessiveness that get misconstrued as caring.
As defined by Lenore Walker the cycle of abuse includes an initial period where tension builds, the incident occurs, reconciliation is exacted and then there is a calm honeymoon period. Abusers often view themselves as victims and victims take on the distorted perspective that they are helping their abuser. Attempting to salvage this type of relationship is futile at best.
But this article is more than a dissertation on domestic violence and abuse. I aim to address a very real question that every person who struggles in relationship asks, “Can I change what is unhealthy to healthy?” Aside from abusive relationships the answer to this question is yes.
Yes you can transform what is unhealthy to healthy but only if two vital components are in place. The first being willingness by both parties involved and the second component is work.
Let’s talk about willingness. I really like to get my way. I am a big fan of having my needs taken care with no effort of my own; not even asking. This infantile preference often leads to miscommunications that result in ongoing frustrations. These frustrations inculcate dysfunctional patterns that illicit skewed survival instincts. In basic terms, I mind-fuck myself all the time when I don’t get what I want. I ascribe to thoughts like, “Well if he would just change I could be happy.” Another classic is, “If he loves me he would just intuitively know how to treat me the way I want to be treated.” These are ridged notions.
Willingness is the ability to admit, “I’m not perfect and I don’t know what I’m doing.” Willingness is a cornerstone of successfully negotiating relationship challenges. Moreover, willingness is committing to negotiating relationship challenges including but not limited to healing disappointments, sincerely apologizing and taking ownership of bad behavior.
Bad behaviors include not listening, insufficiently or passive aggressively communicating the impact your partner’s actions have on you, assuming that love means getting your way and avoiding ownerships of thoughts, actions and emotions. Bad behaviors can be subtle forms of abuse if not addressed and amended immediately.
Willingness involved addressing and amending bad behaviors the moment they become apparent.
After doing this the next step in transforming that which is unhealthy to healthy involves work. Both parties must work at mending and nurturing the relationship.
The relationship is an active third entity that is created when two people decide to couple up. Relationship is a container. It houses the entirety and enormity of love, unconscious realities, fears, hopes, lineages and karma. This is the power and potency of relationship.
But people often mistake relationship as a panacea. It is misconstrued as a formidable Treasure Island full of endless pleasure. Nope. Relationships take work because of this very perspective. Time reveals all truths and lies. Spend enough time with one human and the realization they are in fact human is inevitable.
If your partner is human then this means having to admit your own mortality, fallacies, misconceptions and vulnerabilities.
It takes work to contain an infinite soul inside a finite body otherwise known as being human.
So if you find yourself questioning if the struggle is worth it, the answer is yes. If you are willing to dare greatly, to be a contender then transforming your relationship has everything to do with dedicating your body and partnership to traversing your spiritual path.
The quickest way to transform that which is unhealthy and destructive to productive and healthy is by applying spiritual truths. Firstly, take responsibility. Own your thoughts, behaviors and actions. Be kind with no exception. Be discerning without judgment. Learn to let go and then surrender. Have faith in your ability to respond in the moment. Believe in your heart’s capacity to love. Practice humility. Allow your mind to rest as well as learn. Be of service. Engage in daily prayer and meditation. Clean up your messes. Slow down and trust yourself.
There are plenty of obstacles prohibiting living a spiritual life including mental illness, constant distractions and fear. These are also parts of living a spiritual life that supports healthy relationship if one is willing and able to put in the work.
I spent my 20’s listening to Sheryl Crow and on her first album Tuesday Night Music Club she sang the lyric, “No one said it would be easy but no one said it would be this hard.” Having done my best to change others only to learn I had to change myself, I know what she means. Willingness takes work.
*Also found at elephantjournal.com
A key component of happiness is embracing emotions as they arise rather than pushing them away.
I’ve interfaced with many “Self-Help” evangelists who are spreading the message of positive thinking.
Being positive is only half of the story. The other half is how bad most people feel for feeling negative. Thoughts of “I feel negative and I should feel positive” have a way of creating discord in the mind and the body. Often this discord is met with harsh internal judgements about one’s state of being. In other words, a rarely talked about force in the self-help movement is individuals shaming themselves into feeling good.
People who are going through break-ups often deny the depth of sadness out of a sense of duty to positivity. Individuals suffer through transition without ever asking for help due to distorted loyalty to stoicism.
The reality is that in order to feel positive one has to fully experience and sit with the negative. Let the pendulum swing to its extremes and nature dictates it will eventually reconcile to the mean. I am not suggesting that behaviors swing to extremes. I am suggesting that as soon as a twinge of discomfort enters cognition it is best to sit still, listen to what the feeling is conveying, and breathe rather than allow for distraction.
Distraction is always an option and there are plenty readily available. The deep ache that comes after a difficult separation can be distracting in and of itself. The difference between that which is distracting and a distraction is the first begs for attention while the later steals attention away from what needs attending to. Every mind is a garden than needs tending to much like children need tending to in order to mature.
Emotions are like children; each with their own unique needs and demands. The only way a demand, a desire, or an expressed need can be attended to is by listening. Listening is an art. It takes time. It takes focus. It requires that all agendas be momentarily suspended. Listening requires balance; much like the way inhalation is met with exhalation.
I’ve heard it said that happiness arises from the moment an individual meets himself or herself. To meet the Essential Self requires fearless introspection. Just the willingness to exercise fearless self-examination cultivates trust. Trust allows for free expression of what is to arise. This free expression is humanities right of passage into connection, community, and reciprocal love.
The first step is asking, “What am I afraid of?”
The ocean has something to tell us. The wind is whispering its secrets as is it rustles through Autumn leafs. Life has a rhythm to it. It has a pulse.
Our hearts know this rhythm. It’s the essence of being.
When we lose someone or something we love this rhythm feels like a mallet clanging against hot steel. The beat pounds sorrow into veins and drips out eyes with salty tears. These are the moments where sobriety seems impossible.
Both life and death are a journey.
The process of loss happens one step at a time. Sometimes the cadence changes. Over time what once was a harsh reality can transform into motivation. Time marches on.
Every soul has somewhere to go. During a lifetime, every body takes it there. Each of us is called to greatness with the time we have on this earth. Each of us has the chance to answer that call by listening to the rhythm and marching to the beat.
When your body no longer exists and your life drifts into the memories of those that knew you while you were here, remember the loss you feel now will be felt for you. Don’t feel it prematurely.
Your heart break is an echo of the millions of heartbreaks before you. You are not alone.
Now is your time to truly live.
And when you go, when you watch your lover leave, or when death calls to someone you hold dear, just know, we all have somewhere to be.
Dating can be as complex as human emotion.
But, it doesn’t have to be; dating can be broken down into a few simple steps.
For instance, you may have just gotten out of a long-term relationship or are going through a divorce and in an attempt to feel better you are searching for the next person to love or the next person who will love and care for you.
Conversely, you could be brand new to dating. Or, you may just want to get laid and have a good time.
Whatever your motive is, I have mined the halls of my experience and education to create a general and workable formula just for you.
Breaking the ice:
You may not be a big fan of breaking if you have already broken-up, had your heart broken, broke down or are dead broke. One of those things is enough to scare anyone off of dating or prevent anyone from trying. But, the fact is if you are going to move on with your life and explore what the world has to offer, you have to break the ice.
Breaking the ice is different for women than it is for men.
Men, in order to hurdle your nerves and uncertainties, you must take a certain perspective on rejection and reward. Dating is a matter of playing the odds.
Five predictors of transforming a relationship into a romantic relationship include: proximity, similarities in values, education level, economic status and shared level of attraction (predictive analytics).
Online dating works because it widens your proximity radius. Simply, the dating pool is not confined to the people you work with and the hobbies you engage in. Online dating can be a valuable resource to expand your experience but all the filters you put on your profile still won’t prevent you from going to diner and sitting across from someone that is totally wrong for you.
So, men, play the odds by putting yourself into environments that attract the type of mate you are looking for. If you are looking to get laid, a bar is a great place to go or continue to online date. If you are looking for a companion, stick to events that occur between the hours of seven in the morning to ten at night.
Also, if online dating works for you, keep doing it.
At some point you are going to have to interact face to face. So, when you break the ice do so by being inquisitive. All dates must be initiated somehow. This happens one of three ways. First, someone else sets up the date. Second, you initiate the date. Third, much like cold-calling, you initiate on the spot where you are.
The third is the most difficult. In this situation be inquisitive by engaging your person-of-interest’s helping mechanism. Break the ice by asking if the coffee she is drinking is good, ask how to get somewhere, or ask where she got her purse because you are looking for a present for your sister. Be inventive. Use what is going on in the moment to formulate your question. Then the ice will be broken and you just have to ask the big question: “Will you go to dinner with me?”
If you did a good job breaking the ice it is now a whiskey on the rocks or included in whatever drink you and your date are socializing over.
Women, the burden of ice-breaking weighs heavier on those assuming the masculine role. So, if you are a masculine female, then follow the instructions above. But, if you are more feminine than masculine, all you have to do to break the ice is look good. Look really good. That being said, looking good is subjective. So, dress in a way that makes you feel good. You can rock your yoga pants and sports bra and feel great.
The point is, work what the good Lord gave you. If you’ve got great lips, cover them in red lipstick. If you have massive and juicy hips, wrap them in great fitting jeans. The list goes on and it goes something like: long legs; short skirt, boobs of any kind; no bra or push-up bra with a deep v-neck shirt, and extraordinary hygiene!
If you do this, consider the ice broken because the fact is no one can look at you and see your award-winning personality. You get to show that off in the courtship portion of dating.
After the first date is locked-in and completed, the assessment period begins. The first months of dating are all about data collection. It is about discovering similarities and differences. Then like a game of go-fish you match up your similarities with the other person.
Ladies, this is where you take the lead because chances are you are both interested in sex. The natural order of things dictates that sex happens when the woman allows it to or when both parties agree to consensually engage in orgasm making.
Men you have a trump card as well called defining the relationship. Trust me; ladies are thinking about where the relationship is going to go long before they ever met you. In fact, that is true of both sexes.
At some point everyone thinks, “Am I going to get laid?” “Am I going to be in a committed relationship?” “Am I going to get married?” “Where can I find the relationship that is going to alleviate all the suffering I am feeling from being single and make my life better; where the f**k is it?!”
I’ll tell you where it is. It is between the intersection of giving up the goods and getting the commitment. Here is the kicker, if your version of winning is getting laid, then you only have to be interesting for a short while. If your version of winning is gaining and sustaining a long-term partnership then you have to keep’em interested.
Women, keep’em interested by holding onto the goods. Go old-school and keep a dime squeezed between your knees for at least the first few weeks. Get to know the person you are dating. Get to know them in a variety of settings. Observe them interacting with your friends, your family and your pets. And when making a connection to another person make sure to stay connected with yourself. Trust your heart.
Men, keep’em interested by taking the lead. Plan the dates. Pay for outings. Introduce your lover to things you love. Make your values known. Decide your deal breakers ahead of time and write them down because there is nothing like the lure of pussy or dick to cloud your judgment. Trust your gut.
Be genuine and you will create a genuine bond. But, if you plan to fake it until you make it, you might make it fake.
Lock it down
Oh joy! You found someone who likes you and whose company you really enjoy. Now you have to ask yourself, “How long do I want to enjoy this person for and if I stop enjoying them do I have enough trust in the relationship to stick with it?” Gulp.
No one is going to be all in one-hundred present of the time. But, if you both are into each other enough to want to “see where this goes”, then it is time to lock it down.
This is the agreement stage of dating meaning that you mutually decide the terms of engagement. This is where you blend all parts you with all parts them and bake a relationship. Ain’t noth’n like some home cook’n!
For some people this is the winning stage. “I finally have a significant other to hold my hand, to be with me, to love and have sex with.” This stage can be equated with arrival. It can feel good because it can seemingly take the sting of uncertainty out of your future.
This can be both thrilling and terrifying but mostly it is a pit-stop along the road of life. Getting into and out of relationships or maintaining a life-long romance plays out like the seasons. Everything ebbs and flows.
Sometimes things get stuck. We get stuck in the past. We get hung up with the future.
In order to truly win, you have to do two things.
First, you must always take care of yourself. Treat yourself with kindness. Know that you will not have all the answers and that is okay. Be understanding of your shortcomings so that you don’t project them into your environment or onto your partner. And do your best.
Second, winning is a balance between maintaining your focus and letting go of control. Look up the serenity prayer and read its message until it resonates in your bones.
Also, the real tip to winning is that there is no real formula except to try and try again.
Finally, sing the Rolling Stones’ lyrics with me: You don’t always get what you want, you can try sometimes, but you just might find; you get what you need!
Author’s Note: Different parameters may apply to various sexual orientations. I did my best to write this article in an inclusive manner. May everyone win at least once in their life (if not more). Tutti il’mio amore.
After falling in love, months, years, decades merge together to create your unique relationship narrative.
Not every narrative finishes with a happy ending.
As the end draws near, fits of nostalgia can blind you to the obvious. You and your other have arrived. And if you are honest with yourself, you felt it coming.
Somewhere along the line, discontent seeped into the cracks of your relationship and grew into a mighty chasm between you and your beloved. Discontent was then followed by justification and justification followed by questioning.
Eventually the inevitable manifests. The relationship ends and the break-up begins.
In the first 24 hours after the break-up has been initiated, time has a way of bending in on itself like some quantum physics experiment. So, in an attempt to prove your normalcy, to expose your humanity and to provide you with some solace let’s take a journey through the beginning of the end.
Sight Unseen: Hours 1-4
You knew it was coming but you were holding out hope.
Your hopes were dashed followed up by uncontrollable urges to explore every other possible option. Your thoughts become saturated with various “what if” mental inspections. The inspections subside with fleeting yet often overwhelming feelings of confusion, anger, fear, dread and despair.
You had no clue it was coming.
One of two things is occurring, if not both. First, you can’t stop repeating, “What the f**k?!” Second, your whole body is either in fight or flight mode. If you came home with all your shit in the yard… this is going to be rough. If you found out that your other has moved on via a Facebook post… this is going to be rough. If you were planning on forever… this is going to be rough. Keep breathing through all your violent and/or depressive tendencies.
Although there will be many questions, you are not supposed to have any answers just yet.
Searching: Hours 4-8
Get off Facebook. You have spent the last few hours gazing at your newly-minted ex’s updated “relationship status.” You have looked through what pictures were available of the new “bitch” or “asshole” who has now usurped your title of boyfriend or girlfriend. Take a few breaths and step away from the computer and the alcohol. Wipe the tears from your eyes.
If Facebook didn’t offer any evidence, chances are you are searching for it. You may be asking yourself, “How did this happen?” This will lead to the desire to “talk it out.” Don’t. There are still sixteen hours to go. Conserve your strength.
Planning: Hours 8-12
At this point, your internal dialogue may sound like, “Okay, okay, okay…what?!”
Chances are you have meticulously combed through your past. Any answers arrived upon are still severely clouded by your raging emotions. Since the present moment continues to suck, your attention will naturally drift towards the future illustrated by the question, “What’s next?”
Ironically, your mind will reach into the past to try to predict the future. So, if you find yourself wrestling to gain ground, feel stable, and reevaluate—stop. Instead, let yourself feel your feelings. In fact, if you haven’t already, employ all the self-help tactics you know: Call a friend, go for a walk, dance it out, read, eat good food, and let it ride.
Escape: Hours 12-16
Granted, every hour that has passed you may have been drifting in and out of some version of escape ranging from drinking, to lashing out, to sleeping extraordinarily long. Further, you are rapidly moving into the rebound zone.
The rebound zone is a place where sex is employed as escape. But nine times out of 10, using sex this way is hard to bounce back from.
So, while your instincts will guide you to anesthetizing your pain through distraction, the best thing to do is slow down. Take a break from questioning. Get real with yourself.
This isn’t a race; it is a marathon.
Photo: Katie Tegtmeyer
Young and restless: Hours 16-20
Your body and mind are exhausted from circulating wild emotions. Rest would be the best thing. Yet instead of rest, there is only restlessness. Everything feels raw, fresh and young. Everything is stripped down to the basics; then a miracle manifests.
All the hurt coalesces into blame. Although skewed, it is a moment of resolution, clarity and ego strength. You certainly had your part in the ultimate demise of your relationship, but maybe, just maybe, it isn’t entirely your fault.
Maybe your spouse, your lover, your other really is an asshole who never grew up. Maybe long-term wasn’t really the terms of your engagement with one another. Maybe your ex can go f**k himself or herself!
Is this for real? Hours 20-24
The first day of a new you is coming to a close. Hopefully you were able to sleep and eat somewhere between doubling as a shoe in a dryer. The initial shock will start to diminish. Then grieving will begin. The first step in grief is denial. So, it will take several more hours before you are able to answer the question, “Is this real?” with a definitive “Yes.”
The fact is you will move forward. This is certain. The pace at which you move forward will build momentum with each passing hour. Keep taking deep breaths. And take it—all of it—one day at a time.
* Image from 6/10/13. Google: http://www.welovedates.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/break-up.jpg
June 25, 2013
When you enter into a romantic relationship expectations come with it.
Some expectations originate from family tradition while other expectations are forged in the fire of disappointing past encounters. Some expectations form into healthy boundaries while others result in perpetual frustration. Lastly, expectations can mold a relationship into something it isn’t or provide clarifying perspective. So how do you distinguish expectation from reality, discern expectation from direction, and peal apart consequence from identity?
The first step to understanding your expectations is to examine how you allow others to treat you. How you feel about another persons behavior will reveal your values. Feeling guilty manifest when the you’ve aloud your personal standards to be violated. The level of respect you allot yourself will be met by the level of respect you that will be reflected back to you from others. Our emotions and feelings help to gauge the enormity and subtly of expectation.
Emotions are guides because they act like a great symphony full of harmonic melody and sometimes chaotic noise. When you feel pain/noise, either physical or emotional, that is a cue for self care. Do you brush pain aside or do you attend to it? Neither choice is better than the other, but that which you choose will allow you to understand your inner narrative that is giving rise to expectation.
Second, expectations are mostly crystallized desires or suppositions. Expectations are often constructed out of our biological need for efficiency and comfort. What we are most familiar with will morph into expectation. So, love and fear translate into expectation according to repetition.
Expectations form around your sense of worth. Worth is an agreement we make to either cherish this life or to abandon it by lamenting the past and fantasizing the future. Plans are carried out through action. So, if you find yourself placing a value judgement on outcomes saying to yourself or others, “That should have gone this way”, the moment has been lost by holding onto an expectation.
So, when it comes to your romantic relationship, the expectations you hold to can actually block happiness. All life has a pulse to it. The same is true for relationships in that there are times when you see you partner through a lense of adoration and there are other moments when all that comes into view is everything annoying and unnerving. Perspective towards a negative view or a positive view is based on bias towards your partners actions. If they act in a way the meets your expectations this tends to result in favor. If your expectations are not in alignment with how your partner acts, then this tends to result in negative judgments.
Humans are biologically programmed to gravitate towards pleasure and avoid pain as a means to survive. So it would seem that the pleasure gained from expectations being met would lead to more pleasure and more pleasure would lead to greater happiness.
The opposite is true.
What leads to happiness is being flexible with expectation. In fact, if you acknowledge that expectation is just an agreement you have made with yourself based on a coupling of external and internal stimuli, then you can also acknowledge that expectation is mostly an illusion. Grasping onto an expectation as if it is fact or an unmovable object lends itself to disappointment because what is actually true is that everything changes. Much like stereotypes, expectations are predetermined judgments where the events of the past are overlaid onto future possibilities. This then transports the individuals who are co-creating relationship out of the moment and into being in love with possibility.
Simply expectations combine past experience with future conjecture. True love, unconditional love, real love is most alive in the moment.
So, if you are seeking unabashed happiness, enlightened connection, and full expression of your true essence, examine your expectations without judgment. Expectations come into play as mechanisms of survival and vehicles of continuity. But, they are not meant to be fixed objects.
Simply, when navigating romantic relationship, bring awareness to your expectations. Discuss them honestly. Examine why you have them. Ask yourself, “Is this current truth or old truth?” And approach your partner, your patterns, and your existence with unwavering curiosity. Live in the now and expect great things.
If you have more questions about how expectation is shaping your reality, your relationship, or your overall well-being contact me now at 303-647-5415
This can also be found at: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/07/expectations-your-relationship/
Hey, we all have off days. But today, today you are meant for greatness. Today your job isn’t just a job; it is the thing that supports the things you love. Your exercise routine isn’t just something to cross of your “to do list”; it is a pathway to feeling great. Your relationship isn’t just something that you fell into; it is a catalyst for change. Get stoked and if you need a little help, watch the video then call me. (303) 647-5415
Follow this link to learn how to transform failure into success:
One commutes into a relationship via the bus to pleasure town only to get dropped off at work. In other words, relationships are work.
Some days work aligns with what we want to do. Other days work is something we have to do. And work is all part of the circadian rhythm of life that fuels adventure, discovery and satisfaction.
But, how do you distinguish between work and hard labor? How do you differentiate manufacturing continuity verses creating false reality? Further, what does a normal relationship look like and how does it function?
To answer these questions, I will borrow from a group dynamic theory (GDT).
For a relationship to exist it must be declared as such. There are agreements that create a bond. After a while, trust builds. In GDT this is called the forming stage where the members of the group meet each other, begin to tell their stories, and in doing so create a safe environment. This is the time in the group where many feel grateful to “not be the only one feeling as they do.” Groups often gather around a central theme.
Relationships also form in a similar fashion. Stories are shared; with words, through touch and through different love languages. Agreements are made about exclusivity, equanimity and expectations. This moment in relationship feels like adventure because it is full of novelty and nuance. As you well know, this stage of relationship is transient.
Every living organism on the planet participates in the ritual of survival; better known as claiming territory. In a group setting, there always seems to be that one person who monopolizes the time and energy of the group members. This can lead to tension. Further, every member of group is discovering where they fit in, how to assert their autonomy in a cohesive way and in doing so every member engages in classic power dynamics.
In this stage of relationship, the parties involved begin to demonstrate behaviors that can easily be compared to any competitive sport. The focus is on winning, staking a claim and asserting values. This is best described as storming because it can be compared to the furry of elements that have formed together in such a fashion as to result in volatile weather. But, like every storm does, this stage also blows over.
There are reliable elements in nature such as the sun rising and setting. In the norming phase, the group has its own environment with predictable cycles. Permission is given to each member to function in the way that is unique to their needs, skill set and desires. A ranking amongst peers is established and accepted. The group takes on its own tone and pace.
Some people refer to this phase of relationship as the moment partners stop trying. But, what has really happened is all the habits that may have been too risky to show in the early stages of relationship have now been revealed and tested against the backdrop of, “If you want me, this is part of who I am.”
Partners acknowledge that each has their own territory and can do with it whatever makes them feel whole. Conflicts are mitigated through revisiting expectations, negotiating outcomes and establishing fluidity. This takes practice.
Life is but a stage and we are all players. And to really perform, roles must be embodied.
When a group reaches the performing stage, extraordinary phenomenons occur. Individuals in the group begin to become curious about the other members. This curiosity is born of spontaneity. At any given time any member could break rank, break character, or demonstrate insight that would have otherwise gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the shared perspective of the whole. Evolution of the microcosm and macrocosm manifests.
This is the sweet spot in relationships where the work begins to pay off. A feeling of knowing that you are better for having your partner in your life is apparent. Further, work becomes incorporated as a divine necessity. This is where romance and wisdom combine to create life affirming connection.
So, how do you know the difference between work and hard labor? Ask yourself, “Am I more concerned about winning than I am about connection?” If you are stuck in storming, you are working overtime and not getting paid for it. Take a breath, step away, and start again with someone new.
Work will lead to pockets of fluidity and rigidity that then eventually result in continuity. There is a texture and cycle to both. However, if your expectations are not aligned with reality and you are in love with possibility, it is time shake things up and snap yourself back into actuality.
Lastly, let normal be defined by how well you are treated in each of these cycles. Allow for compassion for yourself and others. Be kind with your discoveries. And enjoy this grand adventure that is life.
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “So what are we?” and “What does that mean?”
Sure you have if you fall into the category of anyone who has ever dated, believed in love, given it up after a night of drinking a little too much, or have f***ed just for the pleasure of it. Knowing your relationship status has more to do with you than it does with the other person or a Facebook status update.
But, if you are still confused on where you stand, what to call your relationship, or when to ascribe a certain label to a certain level, follow this handy guide I’ve written just for you. (For those of you who are going to b***h at me for using stereotypes, just know stereotypes are a real time saver.)
Don’t call me Shirley, but call yourself single if…
Your day consisted of waking up in bed by yourself, showering by yourself, making your own coffee/tea, doing all your own chores, and downloading your movie cache, Grey’s Anatomy, or sports program so that it will be ready for you when you get home from work. Your groceries are purchased on an as needed basis. You have created and deleted a few online dating profiles. You have gone on a few One-and-Done dates. Your sex life consists of clever masturbation habits and a few random hook-ups. You are online looking for relationship advice (Shameless plug: I’m a professional relationship counselor and I would be glad to advise you on such things). Your home library starts to fill up with self-help books and fitness magazines.
Once you have found yourself in the self-help aisle and you have time to read the books you downloaded on your Kindle from start to finish, a label by any other name would just be lying.
Honey, you are single.
And you know what? Good on you! Wear it well. Do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Get to know yourself. Because the moment you hook up with someone else, you will be trading in your single days like Wall Street trades stocks.
Get up, stand up and call it a hook-up if…
If your night started with the phase, “Game On” and your morning consisted of trying to remember your sex partner’s first name. You got involved in a drive-by relationship that may leave you feeling like you need to be hooked up to life support. You don’t know this person from Adam. In fact, was Adam his name?
Any good night of romping around with a stranger has a certain protocol that follows. If you have a hangover: drink coffee, eat a cheap diner breakfast, and follow up with introspection, pain killers, and plenty of fluids. After you rebound, call your local STD clinic and get tested.
Even if your one night fling was nothing but positive, the results can still be negative. And for your sake, I hope they are. And, if you are left wondering if there is more to come, you can always try to friend your fling on Facebook. No reply means you had yourself a hook-up.
What’s Next? Call it Casual sex if…
I’ve always loathed the term “casual sex.” It sounds like something that happens on a Friday when everyone wears jeans to work. That being said, if you are hooking-up for the pleasure of it, open to whatever works, and are willing to say “Come on over” at three in the morning, then rock those jeans on Friday, and rock your body whenever you can get some.
Being casual means there is no set frequency, no commitment, no consistency and no strings. The ties that bind may just be the ribbons wrapped around your wrists that are tied to the headboard. Your body is about to take a pleasure cruise to pleasure town. Compartmentalizing your pleasure is a major component to keeping it casual.
As a side note, it is a misnomer that being casual keeps it simple and easy because it takes a lot of effort to stay detached. Staying detached seemingly circumvents emotions, therefore exclusively channeling pleasure through physical sensation. Essentially, if you are just not in a place where you care to take responsibility for the impact you have on another person’s life, then you are more casual than the Big Lebowski. Rock that bathrobe and your white Russian, baby.
Half & Half. Call it friends with benefits if….
Call it a crush. Call it curiosity. Call it a tall shot of brandy mixed with boredom. You’ve called this person your friend for a while. You’ve talked to them about the people they have dated. They know about the people you have dated. You’ve gone to coffee together. You have limited knowledge of each others’ families. You know some of each others’ likes and dislikes. Hell, you may have even seen each other naked a time or two. Then someone tripped and fell and the next thing you know you are having sex without commitment.
In fact, you have had the conversation about how commitment is oppressive. It is something for blue collar folk who don’t ascribe to today’s bohemian spirit. Commitment is cliché and neither of you want to ruin the friendship with prefabricated social norms.
If you hug around friends and f*** behind closed doors your benefits package may also include wanting more. Someone almost always does. And if asymmetry is how you like your clothes and your relationships, then start your hipster cover band and call it Friends with Benefits.
Just like a calendar, call it dating if…
It is Friday night and you are feelin’ right. You cleared your schedule and the only thing you have to do is go have a fun night out on the town.
Dating does not look like it used to. A night on the town can mean spaghetti and sex at your place. It can mean renting a movie from red box and staying over at his place. And if between his place and your place you are making plans to go to the next place, you’ve got more than something to write in your day planner. You are dating.
Not all dates are equal. Some come with clearly defined intentions for the relationship while others marinate in ambiguity. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a good time. But, if you want that good time to last for a long time, maybe even a life-time, you have more to talk about then who is going to pick up the check.
Dating is where you discover what you do and don’t like. Go on and sort through your preferences. Make room for what you like and learn from what you don’t. Allow space for discovery. And get your calendar out because you are dating.
Autumn: AKA, fall. Call it falling in love if…
If you feel like a racehorse that has just won the Kentucky Derby that is weird because you are a human not a horse.
Dating can totally feel like running laps around a track. Saying I love you and hearing it in return can feel like winning and enormous prize. Much like a winning racehorse you get to strut around adorned by love’s graces. Sex abounds like untended dandelions on a sunlit hillside. Adoration of your most vial habits makes you feel like you can do no wrong. Brian Adam songs start to make perfect sense. You are 15 minutes late for everything. Superman’s job starts to look doable. You can’t wait to show off your partner to your friends and family. Your rational mind has perpetual vertigo.
You will lose weight and gain it back. Your body will feel like a round-the-clock pleasure maker. They call it falling because you haven’t landed yet. If your days and nights are spent in a holding pattern, baby, you are in love.
Sign, sealed and delivered. Call it commitment if…
I’m not just calling you my boyfriend. I’m not saying you are my girlfriend. We are saying to each other that we are a couple. We are exclusive. We have made agreements about our partnership. We want to buy a house together. We want to have children. We are walking down the aisle. We have flipped me upside down.
Buy yourself a tow truck because the baggage is coming with. And that is a good thing because you are embarking on a long journey together. Shit just got really real because we doesn’t do whatever we wants whenever we wants it. We is collaborative, communicative and continually caring. Break it down and commitment is: I meant it with a few more letters mixed it. If you are mixing it up by blending your life with the one you love, you are committed.
Sometimes we just need to know where we are to know where we want to go. You and a little bit of magic are the prime movers in your life. Sign up for the good stuff by calling stuff what it is. Start by labeling yourself amazing, because you are.
This can also be read on Elephantjournal.com
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 1:3). What season of relationship are you in? Are you just starting out? Are you immersed in routine? Or are you asking yourself the somber question, “Is it time to end it”? Lastly, how do you know what season you are in?
Transitions between romance and routine can often trigger a sense of doom where familiar ways of being get traded for a new normal. Traversing transitions and learning to negotiate them with grace can actually foster strength. This can be true of new beginnings and final endings. They are irrevocably tied to each other.
So, in order to invite new beginnings, sometimes old ways of being in relationship must come to an end. Listed below are reasons to invite new beginnings:
1. Growth Rate: It is possible for people to outgrow their relationship like children outgrow their shoes. However, some people wear their shoes like it is the Great Depression; until they have no support, are two sizes too small, and are full of holes.
A sure sign that you are outgrowing your current relationship is that you often deny your desires in order to attend to your partner’s stagnant requests. You have become more educated, are earning more money, have more social connections, and are over-all mismatched in several categories.
2. Children: If one party wants to have children and the other does not, it is best to align yourself with a partner who is willing to share genetic code with you or a child-free life. Any other type of pairing will most likely lead to birthing resentments and regrets.
3. Reciprocity: The heart of any healthy relationship will be filled with give and take. Even our physical hearts expand and contract. But, if only one partner has a pulse while the other is “dead”, you have a case of relationship necrophilia. Burry it, send flowers, and fend off zombies with your unwavering reciprocity.
Should you find yourself in the season of Get the F**k out!, know that a new beginning is on its way.
Journey: Christian Review
Take aim. Set your sights. Line up the cross-hairs. We can experience the immediacy of creation with imagination. It is motivational nectar. We feed off of it. The act of touching our vision incarnate is a miraculous spectacle. Offer up your life to ART. Sacrifice your ego to be penetrated with purposeful action. Manifest accordingly.
How to plan for miracles:
- Accept the past for what it was. In this way, it won’t dictate your future.
- Start fresh.
- Let your imagination flow freely.
- Take focused and calculated action towards your desired outcome.
- Ask for what you want.
You have no idea what impact you have on the world. You are not supposed to know. Instead, you will feel it through inspiration and determination. You are a miracle.
Image link: http://www.free-hdwallpapers.com/wallpapers/abstract/225589.jpg
Today I am tired, but I am ready. I am open to the happening. I am cautious with my discernment. I am part of the bigger picture even with my narrow view. I am hopeful that my desires will melt into me in a way that feels like bliss. I will make love to everybody with gratitude. Today, my calling is just to be fully expressed. I am ready.
To be fully expressed, do this:
1. Approve of yourself
2. Say what you really mean.
3. Track the sensations in your body and move with them; respond accordingly.
*Image used from webcite: http://nenuno.co.uk/creative/photography/inspiring-expressive-photography/(8.12.12)
When does something fit into the category of “always” or “never”? There are moments in life where it feels good to stand in the resolve of one or the other; to assert an “either/or”. But, life is full of “and’s”, “both’s”, & compromise. The vision you may be holding for your future has all the potential to present itself just as you had hoped. But, if it doesn’t, allow yourself the grace to set down the “always”, & to shelve the “never”. Free yourself up by weaving the interstices of the manifest moment into your vision, which then creates a life lesson, a stepping stone, and a new opportunity to truly discover your courage.
Three ways you can be courageous:
1. Admit you do not have all the answers. It is okay to be “wrong”.
2. If you have something pressing to say, say it in person verses over an email, in a text, or by gossiping.
3. Re-frame what you feel is a failure into a learning experience. You determine the rate at which you grow by making this simple shift in perspective.
Maybe you sleep next to a snoring man. Maybe you wake up next to your girlfriend. Maybe you dance the horizontal tango with several lovers. If you find yourself on a quest to live just beyond the bounds of reality, you may be searching for a love story.
The very fact that each human will make a million choices and those choices will create a life as unique as a finger print is astonishing. So, how you create a love story is by loving YOUR story. Love the shit out of the fact you got fired, broke-up, changed jobs, moved to a new state, moved back in with your parents, made a bunch of money, worked your ass off your whole life, had kids, stayed single, fell in love, continue to fall in love, and so on. Everyone has made the same choices you are about to make at one point or another. But no one will make them like you do and no one can make them for you!
LIVE YOUR LOVE STORY.
*Image used from: http://lthomason.wordpress.com/2011/09/
You are human. For reasons not yet arrived at, your soul has been assigned a body full of intricacies. It can ignite with just one touch. It can be cooled by tears. It can dance, sing, and stretch. Beyond the limits of your body is where your aura resides. Breathe and feel the infinite connection where soul meets body.
Here are three ways to light up your senses:
1. Buy some essential oils, sprinkle them in a bath, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Stack grilled pineapple, grilled salmon, fresh goat cheese, and avocado on fresh bakery sour dough bread. Delight in every bite.
3. Get sweaty. Move your body until it pours out sweat!
Take this time to be curious about your wonderful, fascinating, unique body. GO PLAY!
Image by: Expressive Photography 10.2.2010 found at: http://nenuno.co.uk/creative/photography/inspiring-expressive-photography/
No one said letting go would be easy. No one said it would be hard.
It is one of the most common pieces of advice given, yet it happens to be one of the most challenging things to do. Walk away. Let it go. Don’t hold on. Move forward. Don’t dwell on the past. Learn a lesson from it.
No matter the circumstance, when these words are uttered as a consolation for your shattered hopes, they sound like epitaphs. So, how do you let go?
- First, you stop trying to let go before you are ready to do so. Everything will arrive just as it is supposed to.
- Be assured that there is nothing you can do to make a person love you. You don’t get to decide if someone else cares about you. Only you can decide to care about yourself and others.
- Now is a time to cultivate faith.
- Take responsibility for the choices you have made that resulted in the outcome you are currently experiencing. Know that you can always make new choices.
- Savor the pain as much as you delight in the joy. Neither of them will last forever.
*6. (Extra for those of you really hurting) Remember how not getting what you wanted actually lead to getting what you wanted? Give yourself grace enough to feel like shit and to revel in freedom.
From any other person’s vantage point you could have done things differently. Maybe you should have done things differently. But, you didn’t. You made choices based on the knowledge you had at the time. You lived it like you meant it. You may not forget, but you can forgive.
Forgiveness is abandoning the hope that the past could have been any different than it was.
Inhale. Exhale. Well done letting go!!!
Time is Money
I never understood the phrase “Time is money” until I spent a little over a thousand dollars to visit the island of Maui for a week. Every day leading up to that trip I collected hours at the rate of 14 dollars. For sixty minutes of my time, I padded my pockets with 14 dollars. After spending hours upon hours walking the beaches, going to day spas, and eating the world’s best mangoes, I gained the felts sense of how precious time is.
Any given hour can be appraised with a different value according to the tasks accomplished within that time-frame. For some individuals working blue collar jobs, their hour is only worth 7.50. Conversely, there are those rare individuals who make a million dollars every hour. In light of the living the life you want to live, it matters little how you spend your money. But, I have to wonder, “Are you spending your time wisely?” Listed below are some suggestions on how to spend your time wisely:
- Connect with people and places that matter to you.
- Be open and honest in your communications. Lies are costly and often take up a significant amount of time.
- Keep in mind that the coffee you bought so that you could get through the work-day cost you approximately an hour.
- Value what you do to earn money and if you hate it, find a way to do something different with your time. Take an honest look at if hating several hours in your day is worth what those hours buy you when you are not at work.
- Do things that don’t cost any money. This is and new way to look at “Free time”.
- Having a great deal of income has more to do with being able to purchase things quickly. But, it takes a great deal of time and investment for that to happen. Trust in “Slow and Steady. Steady is fast.”
- Place a monetary number on how much an hour of your time should be valued at. Then consider everything you would have to do in order to achieve that number. Finally, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
- Know that not everything worth anything can be measured in dollars and cents.
- Life means very little if you are not healthy. Insure that you stay healthy by setting time aside to run, swim, dance, yoga, hike, cycle, and move your body vigorously. Get emotional and mental support every day. Learn to trust in your higher power. Repeat after me, “Being too busy is a choice”.
- Define what a good life looks like to you. What things pump you full of energy? What things drain you? Know that you are the creator of your reality. The devil is in the details and the gold is in the moment.
As you weigh paying your cable bill (8 hours) against paying for therapy (8 hours), consider what is going to actually enrich your life.
Average income of 30K a year = 15 dollars an hour or approximately 2000 hours.
There is an average of 8,800 in a year. About an average of 1500 of those are spent sleeping.
- “All in due time”
- “This too shall pass”
- “Keep it sexy”
- “Be real”
- “Fake it till you make it”
- “Love never fails”
- “Now is the best medicine”
- “Hope for what is real”
- “Know thy self”
What motivates you to love?
- Fear of dying alone
- Sexual passion and unyielding desire
- Hope for a more enriched life through relationship with other
- The courage to face your reflection in another’s eyes
- To be the joyful expression of acceptance of all that life has to offer
You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master. ~Miguel Ruiz