Monday, December 27, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
It's a rather bitter sweet day for me. Today would have been my father's 72nd birthday. I'm sure he would have celebrated in some merry and festive way, surrounded by family and friends enjoying mixed drinks and bad jokes. That was my dad. He was one of the kindest, dearest and most loving people I have ever known. There was always a light around him. He could awaken the darkest of rooms and put a smile on the saddest of faces. There was no one quite like my father.
Life seems to continue on despite my father's absence. Weddings have occurred, grandchildren are waiting to be born and lives continue to grow and evolve. I sometimes wonder how my father would feel about the path of my life and my siblings' lives. Without any doubt in my mind, I am sure he is incredibly proud. I know he would have laughed it up and my brother and sister's weddings and hooted and hollered at my grad school commencement ceremony. My parents would have still been happily married and holidays and Sunday dinners would commence at the lead of my father.
Unfortunately, he is no longer physically present for the many of life's wonderful and sorrowful occurrences. However, his spirit undoubtedly has graced our presence for all of these occasions. In his own way, he has been there, and is still here. He's never really left. He just morphed into a more perfect and profound image. He lives within every person that loved him and had the honor of privilege of calling him a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend.
Today, I reflect on the bitter sweet ironies of life and honor the life of my father. Will Roger's said, "His heritage to his children wasn't words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and a father." Everyone, give your dad a big hug or give him a call just because. Never ever underestimate the power and special bond between a child and his or her father. Death may separate us physically, the bond of a father's love allows him to live forever in our hearts.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
John Lennon once said, "life is what happens when you're busy making plans." Many of us have become the consummate planners-college done by 21, grad school done by 25, married by 26, first baby by 28, etc, etc... How lovely it would be to think that all of these wishes and desires, and that's what I intend to call them, played out just as we had envisioned in perfect chronological order. The problem with all of this orderliness and persistent planning is that it's just not realistic. We can plan and scheme and plot all we want, but ultimately life remains in control and has other plans in store for us.
Has anything ever happened to you that left you in complete and utter disbelief? Have you ever woken up one morning or found yourself in a situation where you thought, "This isn't what I had planned!" Funny isn't it. One little instance can change the entire course of life and squash all of that "meticulous planning." But is it really so bad? Perhaps that "little surprise" came when least expected, but when all is said and done, that surprise may turn about to be exactly what was meant to be at exactly that moment.
Deepak Chopra once wrote, "Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined." Perhaps it is those wonderful surprises in life that teach us that sometimes those plans are meant to be thrown out with the trash. Sometimes, maybe it is the unplanned, or at least the unplanned in our minds, that turns out to be better than anything we could have possibly dreamed up. Perhaps, God, or whatever higher power you believe in, had another plan, a plan that was infinitely better than what we had already set for ourselves.
So in my life, I have learned to embrace the unexpected and cherish all of those little surprises. I no longer prescribe to my eloquently devised life plan, because frankly, it really sucked. I much more enjoy the plans that God has devised for me. I also trust the power of the universe and the realization that nothing in life is coincidental. Eli Khamarov wrote, "The best things in life are unexpected-because there were no expectations."
Sunday, December 5, 2010
We all wait for it. Those three elusive words that defines the seriousness of a relationship. In some ways, it's a very fine dance until that moment. Do you, don't you? Is it too soon? Does he feel the same way? Should I wait for him and should I just say what I feel? Am I sure about what a feel? Is this real? Is this really for real? It's amazing how three little words can stir up emotions beyond belief and questions that even the greatest of minds still ponder over.
I will never forget being told, "I love you." I will never forget the feeling within my core and the wooziness in my head when I finally learned that the person of my affection and who has already won over my heart, also feels the same way. The whole dynamic of the relationship changes, and all that you had been holding in can finally be released like a bulging dam-all the emotions and love within the heart just floods out and both of you are transformed.
There is something truly miraculous about being in love and being loved. It defies limitations and overcomes all odds. Just as Dr. Seuss said, "You know you're in love when you don't want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." To me, being told "I love you" is the most precious gift anyone can give. Romantic love or the love of a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a child-it doesn't matter. Love is a gift and one I will never ever take for granted. Kurt Langner wrote "Love is a gift. You can't buy it, you can't find it, someone has to give it to you. Learn to be receptive of that gift."
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
It's inevitable-one of these days you will unexpectedly run into a former flame or old boyfriend. It may be a face to face run in or a simple glance while on the street. Regardless, for some reason it seems to stir up memories of old. And like seeing a ghost, it leaves you stunned and disillusioned for a period of time.
This happened to me the other day. Innocently leaving work I happened to glance a familiar silhouette out of the corner of my eye. He was as I remembered him. Tall and slender with a book bag casually slung over his shoulders. Nothing had changed. He was the same figure I had been so head over heals for just 8 months ago. I sat in my car, the breath sucked out of me for a few moments, until I regained my composure.
Then something miraculous happened. I digested that elusive figure in front of me-the figure that I had so longed for and so loved for a period of time. The image that I had idolized and put on the highest possible pedestal. Then it occurred to me after taking that entire image in that day-he really wasn't as spectacular as I had made him out to be. In fact, he looked rather small and diminutive.
It was then that I realized that this person, or rather this perfect image I had created in my mind, simply did not exist. Sure, he was nice enough, but fundamentally and after months of heartache and tears, he really wasn't good to me. At that moment the image faded and I was suddenly jolted back to reality. The image wasn't so beautiful....this was someone that had hurt deeply and had never reciprocated the care and love I once had for him. In effect, it was a completely one sided relationship, with me working my ass off to keep things afloat, while "prince charming" sat back and sulked and chose to live in a bleak and dark past.
So now I am ready to tell the world that I am finally seeing a man who cares for me and treats me as I deserve. At the moment I saw the ghost of my relationship past flash in front of me, I realized in that second how wonderful it was to finally have someone in my life who truly cared for me and, gasp, tells me on a daily basis he misses me when we cannot be together. I finally understand that a good relationship does not require me to work like hell and give 100% of myself all the time while the other person contributes absolutely nothing. A good relationship is about two people giving and taking equally. It is about mutual respect and admiration and missing and longing for that person when you cannot be with them.
It was once said that "there’s no need to miss someone from your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future." How true. Why miss someone who obviously didn't make the cut into your future. It really isn't worth being with someone who leaves us with a gaping hole in our chests anyway. So what is the point then? Should we ever regret a previous relationship? I think not. Being with the wrong person has taught me about how wonderful it will be, or may already be, when the right person finally comes along.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Yes...I really just compared a relationship, not just any relationship but a good relationship, with a pair of socks. No, I've not hit writers block as Carrie did SATC when she began comparing men to socks. I'm comparing a relationship to socks...let me explain. Warm woolen socks equal comfort and safety to me, and just like those fantastically warm and cozy socks, a good relationship should also be comfortable, warm, cozy and safe.
Realistically, anything that you find cozy and safe can be compared to a good relationship. If warm flannel sheets fit the bill, fantastic. Or if a jar of natural peanut butter and a spoon is your idea of warm and cozy so be it. Get the drift here? The point is that the fundamentals of any healthy, fulfilling and happy relationship rest on the principles of comfort, safety and kindness. Comfort in the sense that being with your partner makes the world seem like a better place. He or she is the yin to your yang and your dearest friend. There's also a sense of safety, meaning that is the person which you put utmost trust in and vice versa. Finally kindness...I'm sorry to say but I have not found a single successful relationship that is not built on kindness. Kindness fosters admiration and above all respect.
Mark Twain wrote, "kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Relationship article after relationship article stresses the importance of kindness and the solid marriage. Chinese culture emphasizes not only the love in a relationship but the need to care for one another. It is a joyful dance of two souls, finding comfort in each others presence, joy in each others words and actions, and safety simply by being with each other. So, go out and find your warm woolen socks. Take them out for a spin and try them on for size. And if you feel all warm and cozy inside it may just be that you've found yourself the beginnings of a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
"There is no feeling more comforting and consoling than knowing you are right next to the one you love."
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Is love a fancy, or a feeling? No.
It is immortal as immaculate Truth,
'Tis not a blossom shed as soon as youth,
Drops from the stem of life--for it will grow,
In barren regions, where no waters flow,
Nor rays of promise cheats the pensive gloom.
A darkling fire, faint hovering o'er a tomb,
That but itself and darkness nought doth show,
It is my love's being yet it cannot die,
Nor will it change, though all be changed beside;
Though fairest beauty be no longer fair,
Though vows be false, and faith itself deny,
Though sharp enjoyment be a suicide,
And hope a spectre in a ruin bare.
What exactly is love? Scholars, poets, writers have been pondering this one small question since the beginning of time. Yet, the answer to this seemingly simple question perplexes the greatest of minds, and turns geniuses into fools.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection; a person or thing that one loves; a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone; like very much, find pleasure in. Voltaire wrote that "Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination." My personal favorite, however, comes from the brilliant yet convoluted mind of Woody Allen, "To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down."
Not sure any of this has answered my question. It makes me wonder what love is for each one of us? How many of us have been in love, or at least thought we were in love? Sure, we met someone who caused heart palpitations, goose bumps, and sleepless euphoric nights, but I have to wonder...is that really love or like on steroids? Scientists have identified three chemicals released when someone is in love: phenethylamine, dopamine, and oxytocin. Phenethylamine is a psychoative chemical that causes stimulant effects. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter . Dopamine commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement. Oxytocin is a hormone involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people. Is is the firing of chemicals that accounts for all of the looniness and craziness associated with falling in love? If so, God help us all.
I suppose I have been in love. I have certainly felt all of the above symptoms, and then found myself fantastically crashing to the bottom of the pit when that "love" faded away. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey has proposed that we fall in love in three stages:
Three Stages of Falling in Love
Stage 1: Lust
Stage 2: Attraction
Stage 3: AttachmentAccording to Arthur Aron, professor of psychology at State University of New York at Stony Brook, "the areas of the brain activated by intense love are the same areas that drugs use to reduce pain." Falling in love also elicits the same euphoric feelings as being high on cocaine. No wonder so many of us are addicted to being in love...we simply cannot alter brain chemistry!
So what is a successful, independent woman to do? It appears that years of education and independence are no match for the chemistry of love. To this I say...boo!! OK, not exactly. Despite my scientific background and years as a lab rat, I must say that in my less than expert opinion, love cannot be reduced to that of chemicals and biology. What about emotion, feelings, fears, etc... All of this encompasses the intensity of love. You see, to me, love just is and love just happens. We don't choose who we love or why we love them. It cannot be avoided or stalled or blocked...it simply happens when we are not looking.
As Charles du Bos wrote, "Love does not care to define and is never in a hurry to do so." Love is both a fancy and a feeling. A feeling that is remarkable and, frankly, indescribable. Love builds bridges and destroys bigotry. Every human being is capable of great love. Just as Tennyson wrote, "I hold it true, whatever befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all."
Monday, November 22, 2010
I love, love, love this time of the year!!! I'm the crazy person listening to Christmas carols while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, spending insane amounts of money on holiday decor, and enjoy the cold nights and shorter days. I love the holidays! Nothing lifts me up more than a twinkling Christmas, a toasty pair of wool socks and wrapping Christmas presents while watching A Christmas Story for the umpteenth hundred time.
Calvin Coolidge wrote Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." The holidays are my own personal form of Prozac. I seem to have a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye. I am in no better mood than this time of the year. If it was possible to buy a time-share or rent a bungalow at the north pole I would so be there.
I think it has something to do with the spirit of the season. It is generally this time of the year that I feel most in tune with my spiritual side and more enamored by ritual and tradition. Despite one who generally balks and tradition and ritual...I'm convinced I may possible spontaneously combust if I saunter into mass one Sunday morning...the ritual of the holidays provides me tremendous comfort. I feel like I get to visit with the one's I love the most, that bygones will be bygones and all can be forgotten, and that the capacity for love and kindness is infinite.
I treasure baking kruschiki with my mother, father, brother, and sister and have incredibly fond memories of being covered from head to toe with powdered sugar and watching my brother devour half of the batch before we're even finished. I love the smell of fresh pine and pink-cold noses. I will never forget by brother waking us at 4 in the morning to see if Santa had come or my sister informing my father that Santa stole the milk glass one year, only to return the wrong glass the following year. I now understand why my parents made a bee-line for the coffee machine on those early Christmas mornings. It was just about being together, pajamas clad, sleepy eyed, but so full of wonder and hope for the coming year to come.
And, unlike most people, I find this time of the year to be the most romantic of ever. When I do manage to get married, believe me, it will be a snow-filled, ice-cycle sparkling bonanza! It could even snow for all I care...snow is white anyway!
It was once written "Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man." So live it up this year! Enjoy this beautiful winter season whether you celebrate Christmas or not. Regardless, it is a spectacular time of the year. As Terri Guillements wrote,
"The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination."
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Why does it have to be one or the other? Why must a successful woman choose between the wildly successful career or the wildly successful relationship/marriage/family? Is it wrong to want all of these simultaneously? I keep wondering about this. The old expression that if you pile the plate too high than there's no way everything is going to get the attention it needs and deserves. Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett argued in 2002, "the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or a bear a child."
Ouch...that's certainly a blow to the self-esteem. We can achieve PhDs, MDs, CRNPs, MSNs, but we can't land the elusive MRS. The 20th century show women gaining greater access to higher education and professional careers, all the while missing out on marriage and children. Despicable if you ask me. Just because I choose to receive an education, does that mean I am inept or unwilling to counterbalance that success with the success of family. It's time for a revolution.
A 2006 article from the Washington Post post reported that highly educated women are now as likely to have children as their less-educated counterparts, and much more likely to have children born in wedlock. Economically successful woman are alsothe fastest-growing segment of the minority of women who have children even if they do not marry. Apparently, "the secret to having it all is knowing you already do."
So I am now a believer. I am converted optimist that believes as a successful woman I can have all that I want. I can have the career, the relationship, the marriage, and the family. It is not out of my reach. Maya Angelou wrote, "Courage allows the successful woman to fail-and learn powerful lessons-from the failure-so that in the end, she didn't fail at all." Perhaps, my detriments in personal undertaking have taught me very powerful lessons. Ones that I know will allow me to finally complete the cycle, and yes, have it all.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Have you created him in your mind? The perfect man. Your prince charming. Is he 6'2, brown eyes, dark hair, olive skin? Or perhaps, maybe he's blonde, blue-eyed and as lean as a gazelle. Does he speak several languages and emit confidence and poise every time he enters a room? Is he well traveled, well educated, and a bountiful stock portfolio and has ambitions of one day retiring in the Virgin Islands with his 50-foot yacht and 10,000 square foot beach house? Or maybe he's a gentle artist incredibly in touch with his feelings, wooing unsuspecting females with his sensitivity and keen eye for color. What exactly is ideal?
I'm starting to wonder about all of this insanity and the illusion of perfection. It's as if we create a perfect image only to create a perfect set up for disappointment. Disappointment in the sense that we never meet that perfect ideal which, of course, only creates disappointment and bitterness and worst of all, cynicism. How many of us go out into this world in search of our perfect match, checklist and scented magic marker in hand. And if even one of those little boxes is not checked off he's disqualified without a second thought or given a chance to argue his case. No, the jury has spoken, case dismissed. Ah, but is there folly in this whole convoluted process.
It was written that "the best way to find your perfect match is to meet love halfway." Maybe it's time to let the checklist burn. I'm starting to think that the checklist has been more of a hindrance than a help. Simply put, no man or woman is perfect. Sure, it's nice to have basic fundamentals that you hope to find in a partner....loyalty, kindness, the desire for a family...but does he really need to speak 5 languages, own a cottage in Nice, and drive the newest BMW? I think not.
Perhaps, he just needs to be sweet, dote on you a little bit, make the bed just because he knows you likes it, show up with a single red rose to brighten your day, tell you how beautiful you are and enjoy every moment you are both together. Most importantly, he's certainly worth considering if he makes you smile just because and laugh harder than anyone else on the planet. Agnes Repplier wrote, "We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh." It appears that it really is best to keep an open mind and an open heart. And if you are laughing to hard together that tears are streaming down both of your faces, well, then you may have just found yourself a keeper.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Zen. Just saying the word instantly calms me. It's better than any sedative, depressant, downer, or tranquilizer chemically constructed by man. It's just as it sounds....it's all zen baby. This has been my most recent enlightening experience. Sitting in the car one morning, panicking about an article and deadlines, I came to this swift realization that all of that anxiety just expends way too much energy. It was as if a switch had been instantly flipped, and the zen just flowed through my body and instantly I was calm.
Zen Buddhism is commonly practiced in Korea, China, and Japan. Zen comes from the a school of Mahayana Buddhism which asserts enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation and intuition. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Dhyana, meaning "meditation" and is synonymous with peace and tranquility. According to an article from religiousfacts.com, to overcome this Zen rejects the study of scriptures, religious rites, devotional practices, and good works in favor of meditation leading to a sudden breakthrough of insight and awareness of ultimate reality. Buddhists believe that zen can be achieved either rapidly, like flipping the switch, or achieved gradually. Either way, zen is achieved purely by one's own effort. The inability to attain zen is felt to be due to a clouded Buddha-nature resulting in ignorance.
I have found my happy place. I have found my zen. And for me it was as instantaneous as a blink of an eye. My own thoughts continue to wonder and speculate why it has taken me so long to find such inner bliss. Perhaps, just as Buddha teaches, my nature was clouded. Clouded by the daily grind of everyday life. The constant push-pull of achievement, success, delivery. I was the quintessential definition of "high-strung." And for what? Of all that I have discovered perhaps what resonates most is the enormous amount of energy needed and used to fight the zen and live a "high-strung" fast-paced, constant state of worry existence. Shunrya Suzuki wrote, "Zen is not some of kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine."
So how to achieve zen? Well, as Buddha taught, it is either happens in a flash or takes time to develop. But how to get there? From an article I found on finding zen, the most important and crucial step is to always make time to clear your mind. We easily delete our iconic trashcan strategically placed on our laptops screen, or we shred or recycle unopened junk mail, yet how many of us take the time to delete all of the crap allowed to accumulate in the mind. The other important point is to allow yourself to have a "mental" health day. Yes, that's exactly what I said. It is perfectly acceptable to take a day and do exactly what you want to do at that exact moment, whether it means sleeping the day away or watching movies in pajamas. It doesn't matter.
Remember to remain peaceful. Through peace we gain strength. Love and accept yourself. No one knows you better, and no one should love you as much as you love yourself. Enjoy nature and surround yourself with people oozing with positive energy. They will make you feel good. Finally, just let it go. Let go of the anger and rage and pent up negative energy. Negativity is like a whistling kettle....if you don't turn off the flame and release the steam is going to keep whistling and whistling and bother the hell out of you.
Tilopa wrote, "No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself." Search for the zen. Hold tight to it when it's finally found. Find enlightenment, peace, and contentment. Then sit back and savor all of the lovely calm that envelopes you. Breathe easier, speak with intent, and smile just because it's fantastic to smile. Buddha once said, "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."
Sunday, November 7, 2010
"A Sorta Fairytale"
By: Tori Amos
on my way up north
up on the ventura
I pulled back the hood
and I was talking to you
and I knew then it would be
a life long thing
but I didn't know that we
we could break a silver lining
and I'm so sad
like a good book
i can't put this day back
a sorta fairytale
a sorta fairytale
things you said that day
up on the 101
the girl had come undone
I tried to downplay it
with a bet about us
you said that-
you'd take it
as long as I could
I could not erase it
and I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this day back
a sorta fairytale
a sorta fairytale
and I ride along side
and I rode along side
and I rode along side
till you lost me there
in the open road
and I rode along side
till the honey spread
itself so thin
for me to break your bread
for me to take your word
I had to steal it
and I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this day back
a sorta fairytale
a sorta fairytale
I could pick back up
whenever I feel
down New Mexico way
the open road
I knew that he was
looking for some indian blood and
find a little in you find a little
in me we may be
on this road but
in this country you know
so we go along and we said
we'd fake it
feel better with
almost smacked him -
seemed right that night and
I don't know what
out there in the
these guys think they must
try and just get over on us
and I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this
a sorta fairytale
a sorta fairytale
and I was ridin' by
ridin' along side
for a while till you lost me
and I was ridin' by
ridin' along till you lost me
till you lost
you lost me
way up north I took my day
all in all was a pretty nice
day and I put the hood
right back where
you could taste heaven
feel out the summer breeze
didn't know when we'd be back
and I, I don't
we'd end up like
I was listening to Tori Amos' song today, "A Sorta Fairy Tale" (one of my absolute favorites) and it got me thinking about the idea of fairy tales. I remember as a little girl watching Cinderella and dreaming of becoming the princess with the beautiful ballgown, matching glass slippers, and a handsome prince to round out the package. But do fairy tales really exist? And if they exist, what exactly is a fairy tale?
A fairy tale is the English equivalent of a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de fée, the German term Märchen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish baśń and the Swedish saga. From a recent class I found online from the University of Georgia, fairy tales are fictional stories that are not believed to be true, hence fictional, occur in generic timeless setting, with one dimensional characters who are even really good or really bad. My favorite definition, however, comes from the Oxford dictionary:
*a children's story about magical and imaginary beings and lands
*[as modifier] denoting something regarded as resembling a fairy story in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy:a fairy-tale romance
* a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive
Well, I don't know about you, but I kind of feel deceived. You mean to tell me that my fanciful days of reading the Brothers Grimm, longingly searching for my prince and my dreadfully drafty castle do not exist? Hmmm...interesting, very interesting. OK, so maybe a fairy tale is not to be taken literally. Maybe they function to inspire us, enlighten us, and provide a little bit of a hope in an oft bleak world. I like what Albert Einstein said, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
So life isn't all rainbows and butterflies, and beautiful princesses and princes and fairy godmothers. It's so much more complex and so much more three dimensional than that. Life is as complex as the molecular make up of a cell's wall. Intricately linked together, allowing the good, the bad, and the sometimes really ugly to pass in and out. So then what do we do with all of these "fictitious" stories that have flowered our childhoods and created unrealistic expectations for a perfect adult world? Hans Christian Anderson once wrote, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all."
So maybe we need to rethink the definition. Perhaps we create our own fairy tale, and like the ever fixed artist, the definition of fairy tale remains one of our own making. A white picked fence with 2.2 kids and a dog may be someones fairy tale, while the designer pent house in New York City with the driver and "purse" dog is another person's ideal. Whatever it may be, the "inspirational" stories of our youth are stories that remain a guide. Then we grow up and realize that all of the complexities and matrices of life really make it all worth living and create our very own fairy tale. Bruno Bettelheim wrote in "The Uses of Enchantment," "For those who immerse themselves in what the fairy tale has to communicate, it becomes a deep, quiet pool which at first seems to reflect only our own image; but behind it we soon discover the inner turmoils of our soul - its depth, and ways to gain peace within ourselves and with the world, which is the reward of our struggles."
Friday, November 5, 2010
The other day I participated in a very interesting exercise. I was given a container full of sand and a box full of random objects...toys, game pieces, etc... The subject matter: healthy relationships versus unhealthy relationships. I was asked to interpret my idea of a health relationship on one side of the box and my interpretation of an unhealthy relationship on the other side of the box. The results shocked me. My interpretation of a unhealthy relationship included sharp, blunt objects placed on top of red sand, and very asymmetrical in appearance. The image was very jarring. The healthy relationship completely contrasted the unhealthy relationship. The objects were soft and round, and most surprisingly, completely symmetrical in nature. Very pleasing to the eye.
This got me thinking about what exactly makes up a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. Is a healthy relationship about comfort, softness, and symmetry, while the unhealthy relationship is made up of jagged blunt edges that are ready to cause harm at any moment? You would think that we would instantly want to avoid those nasty hagged edges, unless of course you're some kind of masochist.
I've started to realize something about comfort versus pain, and the representation of relationships. You see, that jagged edge really represents that bad boy that many of us seem drawn to. It's stimulates are sympathetic nervous system, and keeps us on edge. For many of us, we like being in a constant state of fight or flight. We love the fact that our heart beats faster, we breathe more rapidly, and all of our large muscles are engaged. Of course, there's a function to the sympathetic nervous system. It's just as it seems...it's all about fight or flight. If we are threatened or in harms way, we are going to respond, and we need all of those wonderful hormones to excite some things and quiet other things so that we can fight our attacker or flee. The problem, however, with these unhealthy relationships is that it is not good to always be in a constant state of fight or flight.
Constant stress, or constant stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, leads to numerous health problems. It can cause problems with the cardiovascular system, the immune system, digestive system, and the neurological system. Those in a constant state of stress have higher incidences of heart disease, asthma, ulcers, migraines, and depression. Yet so many of us run back to these anxiety provoking relationships because there's an immediate gratification. It's what many call fireworks. Unfortunately, this state cannot be sustained for long periods of time, and these so called fiery relationships end up completely and utterly self-destructing.
I was that girl. I loved a fiery relationship. I wanted to be kept on edge, to work hard for his attention to prove my worth. It was the thrill of catching him and keep him. The problem, I never really ended up keeping anyone. You see, a man who really cares for you and adores you will not keep you constantly on edge. A good relationship is comfortable, safe, and yes....relatively easy. I know what many of you are thinking..."but this is boring!" Well, really it's not. It's just that we've programmed to believe that unless a relationship induces tachycardia it's not worth being in.
This makes me feel bad for the good guy. I wonder how many good guys that have crossed my path that I have turned away because I didn't think there was a "spark." Well, you know what, the spark really is bullshit. In fact, the majority of people who have this "intense chemical connection" generally end up breaking up! Hello, I am raising my hand because I have been there more times than I can count. In a relationship article I recently read, it appears that the majority of couples who develop a sustaining and long-lasting relationship "skipped" the spark. These relationships develop gradually. Two people meet, get to know each other, and before you know it he or she has grown on you, and you realize the feelings you have for this person are much deeper and more sincere than the guy who almost caused you to stroke out.
I finally get it. I finally understand that in order to get my healthy relationship, I need to slow down, get to know someone, and not run the other direction if that instant connection isn't there the nanosecond I meet him. Just as Aesop said, "slow but steady wins the race." A real relationship is not a sprint, rather a marathon.
Sonnet 116 Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Career, family, friends, love life...it seems like one has to literally clone his or herself to give each adequate attention. Whatever happened to balance? Euripides wrote "the best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man." Perhaps my equilibrium has been off for many years. However, like Euripides, I am learning about the wonders of balance and the power it has over keeping and restoring sanity to an otherwise chaotic existence.
I must admit, I have been a terrible juggler. I've typically been great at keeping one aspect of my life flowing seamlessly, usually my career, while another area of my life spirals into a downward abyss, generally my love life. I'm starting to wonder if Bridget Jones had it write when she declared, "it is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces." Ugh...why?!! Really, really?! Well, Bridget, I am here to once and for all dispel this myth and from this day forth will begin to believe that each and every aspect of my life can happen splendidly in perfect unison.
Why can't we have it all? Why can't a woman have the great career, the enviable relationship, and a thrilling social life? Why are we taught that it has to be one or the other, but never everything at one time? I'm starting to wonder if this is some misogynistic plot to overthrow any shred of happiness and balance a woman dares to achieve. OK, perhaps this is a bit extreme, but fundamentally, it really as if we have been conditioned to believe that the shift in the see-saw has to be one way or the other, never teetering in perfect equilibrium on its axis.
Hindus aspire to live a life of balance. Hinduism believes in 2 principles of a balanced life, the balance of the stages of life (ashramas) and the balance of the three goals of life (vargas)-artha (success, profit), dharma (consciousness development/ religious duty) and kama (love). Islam teaches to avoid extremism. Neither do too little nor do too much, but follow the Golden Balance. Christianity believes in the balance of faith, love, and work, and that all can be achieved through Christ. Or, my personal favorite, as Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Extremes are just bad. Too much work or too much play is never a good idea. So, I am learning to juggle, and am getting much better at it. I want balance. I will have my successful career, my successful relationship, and my fabulous social life to boot. It is not an impossibility. As Pope John Paul II said, "Man always travels along precipices. His truest obligation is to keep his balance."
Sunday, October 31, 2010
It has been a fun and exciting three days! Enjoying being 30!
OK, to the serious stuff. As you all may know, I absolutely love Liz Gilbert and her book "Eat, Pray, Love." While in Italy, Liz learns to practice the art of pleasure. Pleasure, not crack open a six pack and watch the game...no, divine, relaxing, do what you love pleasure. The Italians and Spaniard and French have seem to have perfected this art. Why not the rest of us? Jane Austen wrote, "“Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations.”
I did something very out of character for me to today. I decided, just as Liz did, to engage in some much needed pleasure. OK, for some of you out there, get your minds of the gutter. I'm talking about slowing down, doing something I love, and leaving obligation behind for once. Yes, I have a hamper full of laundry that needs to be done, a dishwasher to be emptied, and a tub to scour, but you know what, it will all still be there tomorrow. On this beautiful Sunday, I slipped on my toastiest socks and yoga pants, planted myself on the love seat right next to the window in my bedroom, covered myself with a lovely fleece blanket, and curled up with my kitty and Edward and Bella (yes, I am not afraid to admit that I am reading the Twilight series). And you know what, I felt so incredibly happy. This is my pleasure....a soft chair, a warm blanket, and a great book.
I wish more of us would slow down and savor all of the things that bring us joy. Life is hectic and complicated, filled with duty, children, spouses, but so often, one's own heart and psyche stays neglected. I no longer want to lose sight of what my heart needs and what I need to feed my spirit. So, I have resolved to do things that bring me pleasure more often. I will strive to find a greater balance of responsibility and rest, duty and self-love, and necessity and pleasure. As Voltaire once said, “Pleasure is the object, duty and the goal of all rational creatures.”
Thursday, October 28, 2010
What an incredibly long, busy and draining week. Not necessarily draining in a bad way, but nonetheless, an exercise in mental fitness. I keep thinking about the journey these last few months have been for me and the transformations I seem to make on a daily basis. I'd like to think of the "old" Michelle and the "new and improved" Michelle. What do I mean by this? Well, take this week for instance. Work was insanely busy, patients were very sick or dying, and there just hasn't seemed to be enough hours in the day to get things done. Now, the "old" Michelle would likely have pouted, threw a million and one excuses on the week, retreated to my cave, and sulked for the rest of the weekend. The "new" Michelle has learned that, yeah, things may get tough, and it's OK to feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but at the end of the day, a serene sense of being and a positive outlook makes even the worst day seem like a blessing.
I will not lie, I am really happy with the person I am becoming. I think everyone should fall in love with themselves. It's not about being conceited or self-absorbed, it's about just taking care of yourself and acknowledging all of the good and the beauty you bring to this world. I love that I can be quirky and intense, yet quiet and reflective. I like challenging myself with new words or new languages. I embrace my nerdiness! I also enjoy being kind to someone who may not expect it. I like to talk to people, and learn about them. And, I'm becoming a much better listener, because it's amazing what you learn when you stop and actually hear what someone is saying.
Abraham Lincoln wrote, "I do the best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing it to the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference." There is something invaluable about being your best self and doing the best that you can, even if the final output is not exactly what you had hoped for. It truly is more about the effort, more about loving yourself and giving your all.
So, according to a personality test from the Human Project, I am the following:
Openness to Experience 96%
"You do not usually get angry too easily but some things can annoy you, however you often resist any cravings or urges that you have, but sometimes you give in. You tend to feel overwhelmed by, and therefore actively avoid, large crowds. You often need privacy and time for yourself. Familiar routines are good, but sometimes you like to spice up your life with a bit of adventure or activity. You are tenderhearted and compassionate, feeling the pain of others vicariously and are easily moved to pity, however there are times when you believe that a certain amount of deception in social relationships is necessary, however you are mostly candid, frank and sincere. People find it moderately easy to relate to you. You are well-organized and like to live according to routines and schedules. Often you will keep lists and make plans."
Don't you just love the Internet :-) Whatever you are, or whatever the pieces that you are made of, you are you, and you deserve to love you. Yes, I may be neurotic, introverted, but I'm also open minded and kind hearted. I like that. So, I want everyone to do something, anything, that allows you to embrace yourself and all of your gifts. Euripides wrote, "There is just one life for each of us: our own." A lifetime is a long time to not like yourself. Give yourself a big hug and each and everyone morning say to yourself, "self, wow, I really do like you."
"At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time."
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Someone may be the most physically beautiful man or woman on the planet, but if he or she has a bad attitude, well then he or she is just down right ugly. A bad attitude really enhances the ugly, while a positive attitude amplifies the pretty. It really is all about the attitude. William James wrote, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."
Webster's dictionary defines attitude as a mental position with regard to fact or state. Unlike personality which scientists considered fixed, attitudes change and develop with certain circumstances and experiences. Attitudes can be positive, negative, neutral, or a cocktail of all three. Psychologists believe attitudes are rooted in the ABC approach: affect, behavioral change, and cognition.The kicker with attitude....it's all about choice. One can choose to put on a sour face and pout and have the ugliest worst possible attitude, or one can smile, exhale, and find that lovely positive attitude. Each morning you wake up, you have the choice to be in a good mood or bad mood, happy or sad, defeated or hopeful.
There are multiple benefits to a positive attitude. Those with a positive attitude achieve more, are happier, have more energy, inspire and motivate themselves and others, and cope better with the difficulties of life. The other thing, having a bad attitude just takes so much energy. It really is draining. I know many people with bad attitudes, and I am entirely convinced that they are exhausted inside because of all of the energy they are expending to maintain that constant negative state of mind. It might be a beautiful warm sunny day, but they might find one small negativity, and then the beautiful day is just destroyed.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Don't you just find the initial stages of meeting someone new exhilarating. It's like enjoying that amazing piece of 90% cocoa dark chocolate, eating it slowly, savoring each and every bite so that it lasts as long as possible. It's all about the initial anticipation, the hopefulness, learning all about this really interesting new person, and reasons to get dressed up and wear that great new dress. Dating someone new is like a horizon, and just like the horizon, the beginning of a new "something or other" is full of endless possibilities.
Like that fantastic piece of dark chocolate, the birth of a possible new partnership must progress slowly. I have been on the other end of the spectrum, with an alleged relationship moving faster than the speed of light, only to explode like the atomic bomb. My fatal mistake...I never took the time to really get to know someone before I jumped in. I was all about rainbows and fairy tales and finding the prince in shining armor. My rose colored glasses prevented me from seeing some major character flaws, that I would now like to think the smarter and wiser Michelle would now sniff out before a poor heart is broken. Maybe my mom had it right when she lectured to me on an almost daily that the key to a long lasting relationship is built on a strong friendship. C.S. Lewis wrote, "Friendship is born at the moment when one persons say to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
The great master Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel overnight. No, my escapades through the folly of relationships has taught me that like any great work of art, it needs to time to grow and develop over time. I'm also starting to realize that spending time with someone new, the first initial stages, are really some of the best to be had. It's like a runner's high! All of the adrenaline is just pumping through the veins, your head is swirling in a rush of delightful bliss, and everything just seems right with the world.
It's just nice to like someone, just really like someone. It was once said that "getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them." Aristotle said "wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit." So maybe that's what we all need to do. Instead of diving into a new relationship without a life preserver, maybe we need to slow down, put that unripened piece of fruit on the window sill to ripen, let it turn a lovely color, and then enjoy it's savory sweetness when good and ready.
Friday, October 22, 2010
No longer will I balk at the person with the overly sunny disposition. No longer will I cringe when I see someone with what appears to be a permanently affixed smile on his or her face. No longer will I shut my ears when I hear someone billowing in laughter. I no longer want to be the person with the snide attitude. The one who never sees the good in anything or anyone. I want to be the one who sparkles in the sunlight, who smiles even at the most mundane of things and laughs just because. From now I want to be one of the eternal optimists.
The Oxford dictionary defines optimism as "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view." Webster's dictionary defines the word as a "doctrine that this world is the best possible world; an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome."The word is derived from the Latin term meaning "best." There are thousands and thousand of sites out there on how to become an optimist.
I love the words hopefulness, confidence, success, possibility. They are beautiful sweet arias to my ears. Why do I love them so much, and why have I become a converted optimist. Plain and simple...the world is a much more beautiful place when lived with optimism. A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that learned optimism decreases rates of depression and improves overall physical health. Scientists have also found that optimists are better achievers, are more resilient, cope better with stress, and live a longer, healthier life. While some of the lucky among us possess the innate ability of sustained optimism, others of us are not as lucky. Not to fret though....optimism, like most positive attributes, can be learned and practiced. Avoid that negative environment or negative acquaintance, and fill life with happiness, warmth, and positively uplifting people.
Winston Churchill wrote, "a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." There are so many difficulties in life, but what a gift to see these seemingly insurmountable obstacles as opportunities of a lifetime. From this point forward, I choose to lead a life full of optimism. I choose to see the good in everyone and everything, and see the positive in the most ugly of situations. I remain cautiously optimistic about the prospect of love, and allow my heart to open to all of the possibilities. I will smile and laugh and play like a child when appropriate. Christopher Peterson wrote in 2000s American Psychologist, "There is abundant reason to believe that optimism-big, little, and in between-is useful to a person because positive expectations can be self-fulfilling." My optimism will be my self-fulfilling prophecy. And as an optimist I believe that my future is a bright shining star, brilliantly glowing in a perfect sky.
The Optimist Creed
by Christian D. Larsen
Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
Make all your friends feel there is something in them.
Look at the sunny side of everything.
Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
Give everyone a smile.
Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
Be too big for worry and too noble for anger.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I have learned one very important thing over these past few month-you cannot live life in black and white. It was once written that "life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to makes its colors appear." Life is one big techno-color dream. A groovy, trippy, out of this world existence. Some choose to marvel at the colors, while others work very hard with their pink eraser to get rid of them.
I'm really starting to enjoy the colors. I wish I could say that I've always lived life in some beautiful 64 count crayola box. Sadly, I lived many days in a a very divided state...things were either black or white and absolutely no other possible shade of gray. Few things in life are concrete and perfunctory. Sure, the engineer or the physicist might argue with you on this point. I remember my lab rat days laughing at psychology majors thinking...."ha....that's a soft science (i.e. not a real science)." Now I'm starting to realize that there is real truth to the psyche, and that a healthy psyche is anything but extreme. I've come to this conclusion, looking at life from extremes is dangerous.
How is it dangerous? Well, think of all the energy needed to fit everything into a nice little box, labeled either black or white. Tough, right? It's like trying to force the round peg through the square hole. It's not going to work. Yet, so many of try and try to do it to no avail. Joseph Collins wrote, "By starving emotions we become humorless, rigid, and stereotyped; by repressing them we come literal, reformatory, and holier-than-thou; encouraged, they perfume life; discouraged the poison it." It's so much easier to allow the waves to crash than to hold them up with bare hands.
Life needs to be lived like a rubber band, not a fixed piece of wood. Sometimes you will need to stretch yourself a little further, or retract, or find equilibrium. Either way, you need some leeway. The other problem with living a black and white existence is that it leaves no room for the spontaneity of life. Spontaneity is the stuff that life is made of. Every heard the old quote, "We make plans, and God laughs." We have to allow for the surprises in life. I've yet to meet someone who followed a dream, moved to a new city, met the love of his life, and then ten years later griped and moaned about the whole experience.
So, I am now enjoying my crayon box. I'm even throwing in some vibrant oil paints and dainty watercolors while I'm at it. I'm going with the flow and enjoying the ride. Gone are the days of black and white. Hello color!! Besides, I look better in a rich shade of pink then a dull black sweater any day :)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Have you ever noticed that some of us either instantly or gradually morph into our significant others? This reminded me of a passage from Liz Gilbert's book, "Eat, Pray, Love" when she describes an instance when she was having dinner with her friends and her most recent flame. When they both got up and got ready to leave the party, Liz's friend points out to her, "You know Liz you used to look like your ex-husband, now you're starting to look like David (aka the latest boyfriend)." Ouch, just as Liz described it, that's a major slap in the face.
Why is it a slap in the face? After years of female suffrage and equality for all, a comment that you are gradually turning into your partner is down right insulting. Romantic partners are not twins. They are each others complements. Long gone are the days of the man ruling with the iron fist and the woman behaving subservient and passive. The joining of two people has become a partnership, or the act of participation, association, and joint interest as defined by dictionary.com.
For years I have been the woman who twisted and transformed herself into the morph of her partner, only to lose myself in the process. And all for what...to win the affection and love of a man. Why had it never occurred to me that maybe just the simple act of being me is the catalyst to get a man to love you. No wizardry or dark magic. The simplest and easiest thing you can do...just be you. Here is the other clincher, if he doesn't love you for who you truly are, meaning your genuine self, then he doesn't deserve you to begin with.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
What would any of us be without our closest girlfriends? I can say for sure that my life would not feel complete. On a daily basis, I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life, and especially all of the wonderful people that I have been privileged enough to call a friend. These remarkable people have been with me through the happiest and lowest points of my life, and in many instances have carried me through when I thought I couldn't survive.
I have incredibly fond memories of silly evenings hanging out, talking about life and love and, of course, boys...struggling through school together; salsa night; shopping trips; manicures and pedicures; girls' night out to fabulous restaurants; vacations to exotic locations; running half-marathons and marathons; picking out a wedding dress or standing next to her as she took that momentous step; bridal showers and baby showers; holding a precious baby and introducing him or her to all of her little "aunties". Of course, my girlfriends have been there for me when I needed to cry my eyeballs out after yet another broken heart. When life felt as it the entire world was collapsing around me, my girlfriends were there to shelter me and keep me standing. The big girlfriend rule is, and always will be...if she needs you, you are there; even better if you bring along tissues and cookie dough ice cream.
Very few people understand me as well as my closest girlfriends. Yes, I can be moody and indifferent, quirky and dry, intense and persistent, but they love me just the same. My girlfriends are vital to my existence. Men may come and men may go, but there is never a doubt in my mind that my best girlfriends will always be there. I have vision of growing old and swapping stories of children and grandchildren, comparing gray hairs and wrinkles, and leaving our husbands/boyfriends/partners once in a while to catch up and have that much needed girls' weekend.
Plautus wrote, "Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend." How true. Each friend is a blessing, and if I had to count up all of he blessings in my life, I could easily say that I am one blessed woman. I think all women need a core group of girlfriends. In fact, I think it is essential. As you walk through life, acquaintances will come and go, men will come and go, but the indescribable bond that is formed between girlfriends will stand the test of time.
“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your 'friends.'”
Friday, October 15, 2010
Turning thirty has taught me many things. The most profound thing I have learned is that life is fragile, and none of us are promised tomorrow. I look back on my younger years, and I think how invincible I felt. I could do anything, I could be anything...nothing would hurt me. And then I grew up. I surveyed my surroundings and realized that life is not an indestructible steel rod, but a beautiful crystal vase easily shattered.On a day to day basis, I see people come into this world and taken out of this world. What was it about 30 that suddenly caused this awakening within me? Why at 30 have I finally decided to grapple with the idea of mortality?
I always think of my patients when I have a bad day. Sure, the light bulb needs to be changed, there's no milk in the house, and I desperately need to shampoo my hair. Then, I think of the people I care for day in and day out. I wonder, how would I react if diagnosed with cancer? Would I curl up in a little ball and wither away to nothing, or would I face it head on, armed and ready to go into battle? I'm not sure. It's perplexing to think of ever being put in that situation. It's always the same, "it's never me it's someone else." And then one day it is you or someone you love or someone dear to you.
My patients have taught me that each day needs to be lived to the fullest. Life is a precious gift that should never be taken for granted. Each breath, each beat of a heart is the most miraculous wonder in the world. I wish I could express how deeply my patients have changed me, and how much gratitude I have to them for teaching me about living life to the fullest. Despite adversity, pain and horrible sickness, many of them continue to trudge ahead. They are my heroes. I think we all stand to learn something from a person suffering from a chronic or fatal illness. Life throws curve balls, and it is a struggle some days. The fact of the matter is a life lived with purpose and intent is a life well lived. It is cliche to say, but live each day as it is the last, and be thankful for each and every additional day you are granted. Find joy and love in the simplest of things. And above all, tell each and every special person in your life on a daily basis how much they mean to you, and how much you love them.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
OK, I am going to say the one thing you're not supposed to say (and ladies you know I am right about this), we judge. Who do we judge...men. I don't care if you've declared from the top of Mt. Everest, "I'm just looking for that nice guy with a great personality. It doesn't matter what he looks like"...you are lying. Whoever said "never judge a book by it's cover," obviously was looking at the book in dim lighting. We judge. It's human nature. It's the law of physics, attraction, and chemistry all rolled into one. Plain, pure, and simple, attraction is a big part of the relationship equation.
I read somewhere that when women are looking at a man's dating profile online, the first thing they look at is the picture. If they don't like what they see, then they're not going to read the rest of the profile, and they're going to swiftly press "delete." Harsh, I know. Multiple studies have been conducted on the science of attraction. One study found that physically attractive traits include high degrees of bilateral facial symmetries, such as eyes that are identical in shape and size, and waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 for women, and 0.9 for men. So, then, I'm not off mark if I don't particularly care for his crooked teeth, or the way he holds a fork (long story). I wasn't crazy when I went to the bathroom 30 minutes into a dinner date, desperately calling my dear friend Missy for some kind of emergency, ANY kind of emergency!!
Of course, there's more to it than meets the eye. Physical attraction coupled with a mental connection is just the spark needed to ignite the fire. You can't have one without the other. I have met many a wonderful man in my time, but without that physical attraction, there just isn't a spark. On the other hand, you could be out with the next Adanis, but if those little neurons aren't firing fast enough to keep up with what's coming out of his mouth, well, then you're still out of luck.
I wish I could say that we never judged someone by the way they look. However, the harsh reality is, when it comes to finding a partner, we're kind of program to do so. My favorite, Jane Austen wrote, "There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person." I'm sure Ms. Austen's definition of reserved is much different than my own, but the fundamental point is reserve only gets you so far. For the rest of us, we sometimes need carnal, raw passion that only attraction can bring.
You know what, there is some guy out there that we once dated many moons ago, and he also judged us! I have no doubt I've gone out with some guy who said to himself, "Ewww...not so much. How quickly can I get this over with." It's ok. You're not hurting my feelings. Attraction is subjective, and as I've muttered before, we do it too. It's all about finding the complete package. One in which the good far outweighs the bad, because none of us are perfect. We are all waiting for the person that causes a chemical reaction within us. One that mutates cell structures and rips apart DNA. In the mean time, just have fun. If you judge, you judge. So be it, but above all, mind your Ps and Qs, and just because you many not find someone attractive does not mean you cannot show them your kindness.
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed." -Carl Jung
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Robert Thorpe wrote, "we have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies." I have come to the conclusion that for many of us we are our own worst enemies. I keep wondering why this is. Has our self-esteem just not yet matured, or were we not loved enough as a child? There are probably more reasons than I could possibly count. Whatever the reason, it needs to stop. Helen Keller wrote that "Self pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world."
I was, without a doubt, my own worst enemy. I could do nothing right. My existence was futile, at least in my mind, and my contribution to this world was minimal if nothing. It now amazes me that when I looked back at my accomplishments, the "enemy" part of me always found a negative counteraction. I ran the marathon...."yeah, but I should have run it faster." I got a master's degree...."yeah, but really, I should get a PhD." I go above and beyond sometimes at work...."yeah, but really I should be doing more." Why did I do this?! Why do we do this?! When will we realize that all of the amazing things we do are worthy of praise.
It's time to the stop the madness. Each one of us should stand in front of a mirror, and take a good hard look at what it standing in front of us. This is not some meek, worthless, unaccomplished image. No, it's a phenomenal human being that has far exceeded expectation, and who has even more to contribute. I love Mae West, and leave it to her to say the following, "I don't like myself, I'm crazy about myself." I don't care what anyone thinks, but this broad got it right. We should be crazy about ourselves. We should celebrate who we are, and above all, we really need to stop minimizing or dismissing all of our achievements. From this day forward, my goal will to always be my own best friend.
It's inevitable, and it's human, all of us make a mistake or screw up. However, dwelling on what went wrong or rehashing the mess that was made is pointless, and just bad for the psyche. Thoreau wrote, "what a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates his fate." Give yourself a big hug everyday, love yourself above all. There comes a point in life when the wounds of the past must be mended, and we must finally accept that we are, and always will be, or own best friends. And, I don't know about you, but I dare anyone to talk shit about my best friend.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I believe there are days in life when it's as if the world is slowly imploding around you, and all you want to do is crawl into a dark corner and hide. Maybe it's a basic human instinct....the need to feel safe and protected. It's has if this dark looming cloud envelopes you, and nothing you do or try can release it. It is days like this that lead me to ask one little question...why?
How many of us have found ourselves on our knees or lying on the ground staring at the ceiling, tears streaming down our faces, crying out...why, why, WHY??? I have been told by many pious friends of mine that God only gives you what He feels you can handle, with His help of course. Today, I looked up at the sky on my walk, eyes fixated on the heavens above, and simply thought to myself, "dear God, I love you, but you gotta give me a break. I'm tired." Of course, accompanied with this very perfunctory statement, came the elusive follow up question, "God, why did you give this to me? Have I done something wrong? Do you really think I'm that strong?"
I'm not sure if I have a good answer to any of it. Perhaps, it's just not meant to be answered. Maybe, I need to stop trying so hard to figure it out, and just let the answers come to me. Am I strong? I suppose so. Do I feel I can handle what God has handed me? Hmm, so far so good. The deep underlying question, however, is for what reason? The reason...I have no clue.
I can think of all the difficulties in life, all of the pain, and heartache, the tears, the moments of complete and utter despair. It's as if part of me has welled them up inside, and only now, when I have reached the ripe old age of 30, I can finally understand that I need to let it go. Maybe God is trying to tell me, enough. Yes, He's given me difficulties in life, but He has also given me free will and the tremendous ability to forgive and to love. He's also granted me beautiful and wondrous moments in life, for which I am grateful. Maybe, there's just not one concrete answer. Life tends to be a myriad of shades of gray, as opposed to the distinct black and white. I think at this point, I will stop asking why, and simply start listening. I will listen to my heart, my feelings, and to the little clues that God seems to be whispering in my ear, that I have yet to hear. I'm not sure what it will eventually bring me, but it has to be better than the present circumstances.
I found a beautiful quote that Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh. He says, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Hmmm...maybe, just maybe, God is standing in front of me, arms waving, blow horn in hand, and trying to tell me, "yes, I've given you a lot, but remember this, you are braver, stronger, and more able than you think. Give yourself more credit girl. I think you're pretty darn spiffy, and I made you."
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer." ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Friday, October 8, 2010
Dating is a tricky sport. Some of us are Olympic champions, while others of us are the Jamaican bobsled team of dating. We try and we have the heart, but we're just not very good at it. I think after years of dating, it is very easy to become cynical and jaded. However, I think most women, including myself, have not been playing the game correctly. Many of us have turned it into the quest of finding "the one," instead of just enjoying the game.
Whenever I think of the woman desperately in search of her knight in shining armor, I think of Charlotte from "Sex and the City." I will never forget Charlotte declaring, "I've been dating since I was 15. Where is he!" She is what I'd like to call the quintessential "hunter." She is always in search of her knight, imagining the china pattern they would pick out, the wedding dress of her dreams, his last name next to her first name, and how many children she and her "prey" will pop out. And, of course, Charlotte imagines this all on the first date! She's got all of it planned out even before they are done with appetizers. Tricky, very tricky....
OK, so here is my confession, I used to be that girl. Dating to me was not about having fun and getting to know someone. No my friends, it was all about finding "the husband." This is what makes a bad dater. Now, of course, this isn't to say that we don't get to a point in life where we are ready to settle down with the right person. The problem is when that one notion consumes you so deeply that you forget to just go out, be yourself, and have fun. It's all about an agenda and a deadline. This is what gets us in trouble.
So, from this day forward, I am putting my ammunition away and bringing in the search party. My goal is to date with no expectations. Rather, I will enjoy the ride. As my dear friend Amy says, "Your cake is already fabulous! He's just the icing!" So, if I find my sweet butter cream icing, well, that would be just wonderful. If not, I know my cake is wonderful enough to stand on its own :)