Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ocho




A sudden realization that something is right in front of your face. They say that it only takes 30 days to create a habit. After 30 days then something that initially was a chore becomes a part of your routine and you may no longer feel "inconvenienced" by having to do it (go to the gym, skip the fast food meals, cook breakfast, etc). The same can be said for humans being creatures of habit and once we find a comfortable routine, it can be tough to break free of that and try new things. Not always, and sometimes trying new things is very different than changing our habits.

Having always been a very independent soul and individual, I find comfort in human companionship and crave it just like most of us, but I am also comforted and sometimes even crave my silence and alone time. This is nothing unique to me, many people are also just like this; many folks find that solitude is a recharging time and introverts crave it almost more than human touch. Living a certain way for many years doesn't mean that is what we want for the rest of our life; it's always a study of one and what makes one person happy may not make another. Open communication and being willing to listen is key, because as soon as we start writing on the blank pages of someone else's book and fill in their story in our words, we take away something precious from that person. Everyone deserves to fill in their pages on their own and in their own time. Patience and faith that it will be okay can be tough but can also be essential.

It can be hard to change the way you think, or feel, and some might argue that changing the way you feel is impossible. The mind is more powerful than we give it credit for sometimes and I believe that if you can convince yourself of something then it can become a reality. I doubt that this works for things such as "I am convinced that my bedroom light is on" when it's clearly off, and thinking the light switch will magically flip itself on; but if you think of it in terms of mantras and mindsets, I believe that change is possible for feelings.

For some people changing their routine (adjusting to shopping at a new grocery store, or a new coffee shop for example, or something larger such as living with someone after being alone for 10 years) can be incredibly difficult; for others that part is easy. Changing a mindset however, or convincing yourself that you no longer love someone, can be much more challenging.

Can you consider having been in love if you've never crossed the boundaries of friendship? If all you ever have are conversations, a few dinners or drinks here and there, and generally speaking never have physical contact; how can you truly know how you feel about a person? How do you define love, or more specifically, how can you define falling in love? Jane Austen wrote "I was in the middle before I knew I had begun" in reference to a character realizing that they loved someone. It's easy to read in novels or see in movies two characters that meet, have few interactions, and realize they love each other deeply and it was "love at first sight".

I have never believed in love at first sight, I do believe that connections we create with each other throughout our lifetimes can cross over and cause an instant connection between souls; a sort of, calling out to the other and recognizing someone important, even if we don't understand why. Perhaps this is why the concept of falling in love when you are never with the person makes a bit of sense to me. In that same train of thought though, if this is true, can you truly change your mindset and the way you feel about someone? Regardless of how you fell in love or developed strong feelings, can you convince yourself otherwise? Or do you learn how to live with love and find other ways to love? After all, there are many types of love in this world, perhaps it's like collecting coins, and you've simply checked off a few boxes of feelings you have.

Listening to the thunder roll and rain fall softly on the earth outside my window is a comforting sound. It lends me strength and encourages me that everything will be ok. Good friends that I can lean on, strong shoulders that I can rest my weary head on, the steady silent resilience of Mother Nature, these are things that give me strength to keep going. I feel the solid weight of my dog resting his body against my legs and for a few moments, I forget about the stressors of the world.

Finding your rock in life can be important to helping you get through the tough times, it can also help you build your own strength. Being someone's rock can provide a sense of security and strength in itself, as well as bring a sort of stability to your own life. Everything in life should have a balance, like yin and yang; being independent and leaning on someone else should be the same. Finding a balance of someone that you can lean on, and also have the respect of to allow you to be strong on your own when you need to be, can be tricky, but I do believe that it's very possible; I have been lucky to be the rock and to have a rock in a few friendships/relationships with people.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Love is enough

Falling in love can be scary. When you don't understand what this thing is that you're feeling, when you admit to yourself that you're in love, the fear of rejection, of losing them…there are so many terrifying components to love. And sometimes you wonder why bother continuing feeling this way, surely this overwhelming sense of emotion isn't worth it? Then they look at you. One glance, a fleeting moment of eye contact and somehow, for some reason, you can't breathe. Even ten years later. When you feel that connection with someone that you can trust implicitly, when they understand how you're feeling without even needing to hear your words, just by looking at your face, or feeling your emotions…that is why we still love. I believe that we desperately want to feel that connection, we want to believe that there is more to this life than paying bills, going to work, partying, raising a family; regardless of how much hope sucks, deep down it resides inside of us holding on and keeping us going.

They say find someone who can make you laugh, because looks fade away. They say find someone who looks at you the way *insert popular TV character* looks at *insert their favorite beverage, food item, or person*. Some people get it right the first time, others have a few marriages and divorces before they find their “one”. Each path is different and everything happens for a reason, sometimes you have to find happiness and then lose it a few times to make you into the best version of yourself for the one you spend the rest of your life with.

“True love is worth fighting for, because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” Words that a screenwriter wrote for a TV show but words that ring true. True love is sacrifice, compromise, it's being unselfish, putting the other person first, even if it kills you to do so (Figuratively). Love is hope and can fuel our dreams, and while hope sucks, and love can suck too, they work hand in hand to get us through this life and onto what's next.

Trying to find the right words to explain an emotion can be tough. It can also be tough to explain how it's okay to be alone sometimes. I was at a wedding recently, working, and sat down to eat. I was (unplanned) eating at a table by myself, and to me it seemed the most perfectly natural and comfortable thing. Social constructs have told us that being alone is uncomfortable and not "okay"; there were many people that approached me and told me that they 'felt bad' that I was eating alone. Next time you see someone out and alone, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Then ask yourself why you feel that way.

My theory, if you could call it that, would be that humans are a social species, and perhaps to see "one of our kind" appearing vulnerable, causes a chain reaction in us of "natural feelings" to want to take that person in and make sure that they aren't singled out and picked off by the strong. I am imagining a Savannah with prides of zebra and lion, the lion (predator) wisely goes for the least energy expending opportunity to obtain its' next meal. If you put a can of reddi-whip in front of the predator's face, and he doesn't have to run across the room to grab a meatball, nature dictates that he'll perform to obtain the highest value reinforcer with the least amount of exertion possible. With humans, why seeing a person sitting alone in a room full of party-going guests would bring up feelings of uncomfortableness, or feeling sorry for the loner, is something that I am trying to figure out.

In humans, working for reinforcers, it's not very different from the lion metaphor I suppose. A human that can call a pizza place and have it brought to their house is essentially the lion at the gate waiting for reddi-whip. When it comes to love, however, it seems we find the most complex, complicated, and heart-wrenching ways to live and express ourselves. At least until we find that one person (or in some cases maybe several people) that we can just breathe and relax around. The person that we can just feel ourselves with, with no fear of judgement or worry that they will leave us or get upset because they are misinterpreting something we said or didn't say. And ultimately, love, openness, compassion, it can all be enough to make us happy if we allow it to.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Inquebrantable; Unbent, unbowed, unbroken

Mexico
I've grown up traveling the world, and I feel incredibly lucky in that aspect. Perhaps that's why I have such a strong desire to travel in my job as well, it's what I'm used to. Meeting new people, seeing new sites, experiencing different cultures...eating the food (I'm not a technical "foodie" but I do love to eat!)


I was lucky enough to attend a conference in Puebla, Mexico. It's the first time that I have ever been to Mexico, and it was wonderful to use my Spanish again. I was able to meet people and friends in person that I had come to know through emails over the last year, and we had a great conference learning from each other and connecting. Looking back I remember feeling a sense of acceptance and belonging that are essential to all humans to feel nurtured and to grow.  It was incredible to sit in a room full of distinguished individuals, who had been doing the work I was doing for many more years than myself, actually listen and give me respect as I spoke, sometimes about things I wasn't super confident or skilled in. It was an atmosphere where brainstorming truly meant open opinions and open minds, and where hiking up a pyramid was a bonding experience that once we made it to the top, and we were sitting there taking in the view, we were all left breathless, and not just from the lack of Oxygen!

There are times in our lives where we reach a crossroads, sometimes we don't realize it until we are there but they are pivotal moments in one way or another. Sometimes we are standing there for a long time before we realize that we have been standstill, and all of a sudden a clear path, or at least a glimmer of one, opens up before us and we realize that we have a choice. Whether it's literal or figurative, it can be a life altering moment, or maybe not! May be it is simply a small turn at the moment but later on in life leads us somewhere very far from where we expected to be. Maybe it's a margarita, maybe it's a conversation…or maybe it's a self realization that you need to listen to your heart.

In the end, like a ripple on a pond, you return to where you started, to where you are complete. Life may be a journey of reaching out, making waves, pushing through the stillness only to find that peace exists when you accept where you belong. It's okay to move along, to find new shores, it's how we grow, whether at a glacial speed or during a springtime snow melt rush, in the end we find a certain calmness accepting what's always been there all along, the depth, the ocean, the calm. Being able to take a deep breath, look around, and be okay with where we are, even if we know it isn't our final destination. Having the faith that given time, we will be okay, and that we are in our current position to learn something, or to teach someone something, can bring a small measure of comfort when we are questioning everything around us.