Monday, February 6, 2017

Big Heart (Great Power)=Big Heartache (Great Responsibility)

This more relates to the potential for a heartache if you have a heart, and the more you love the more you stand to be hurt. There's also great pleasure to be found if you're willing to risk it.

It's hard to stay positive with all of the pain in the world right now. We live in uncertain times, but when has that ever not been true? Whether we were living in the Age of the Tudor's and plague was a constant worry and threat, or the Medieval Age when wartimes and backstabbing were bloody and often left a wake of destruction behind wherever it tore through. Even now, in parts of the world (and our own country), people live on the street corners, begging for pennies just to eat for the day, children are left parentless and parents are forced to bury their children.

I don't say all of this to bring down the tone of the book; on the contrary there aren't many topics that are so globally important that I will be discussing because I don't want to 'take a side' or cause drama, just thoughts.

Part of where this is taking me is the thought of feeling like I'm alive and on every circuit in my body is abuzz and lighting up. It's different than my normal feeling. Normally, when I am home and content, and surrounded by 2 dogs, a cat behind me and a cat on my lap, and three parrots calmly chattering to themselves, it feels like a very peaceful and quiet evening. I feel normal, routine, relaxed, perhaps a bit bored but I don't care to change my boredom to a life of wild living-this is really nice and I'm very happy to be home at the moment as I'm typing this.

And then there was that week where I was reminded of what it felt like to be a live. Wondering how it will be when that is interjected into my little normal that I have, I'm unsure of the change but excited because I trust it will be good. So good that as I am typing this, I am reminded of what is waiting for me.

A-holes & Rubber bands

This is a chapter that's been slowly forming over the past few months. Chandler has been the primary "instigator" that has caused this thought process to start but he is by no means the main focus of this bit. Why do people find themselves drawn to the "bad boys" (or girls)? Working off the theory that I have of mirrors, and that people come into our lives for reasons, what does someone the opposite of us, who treats us like crap, do for us?

Being consistently ignored until they need something, or are in the mood and then they want to talk, acting like you don't exist when you're in the room until the "power players" or people they need move on and they are done with them, then they might come recognize that you're there. Why would we be drawn to those people? Especially when we know we deserve better (and have better), we are still drawn to be friends with that person, or acknowledged by them. It's certainly not a romantic or lustful attraction, it's a human connection.

Like a rubber band, we snap back right before we break and walk away. But each time the tension builds and the band gets a little thinner. Our resistance to take more of a stretch grows but our line grows thinner and one day it'll snap and there won't be a good repair for that.

The same concept applies to more than toxic people in our lives, it applies to any toxic situation really. Let's say you spend 2,080 hours with the same group of people each year, for a decade (that's 20,800 hours roughly), and the rubber band relaxes for weeks, sometimes months. And then it gets stretched out pretty far, you think you'll get shot off into the next continent, and then you feel the tension ease and it's comfortable for awhile again. Until the next event pops up, and before you can relax you're pulled tight again, feeling the stress upon every joint and hoping you don't shatter.

Respect has always been something that is earned and not a right in my life. I believe in being genuine and true to yourself, and acting honestly. I try to keep an open mind, I've been better at it the last month than in my past, but no one is perfect. It's still very hard to not feel let down or exhausted when your position holds very little weight in the eyes of those who's decisions affect your professional development and career. The same can be said for the ones who hold your heart or your respect.

True, you shouldn't allow others to dictate how your feel about yourself, how you live your life, or how you treat others. But when you are feeling broken, exhausted, mentally's natural to be drawn to a place of familiarity. Sometimes it's a toxic past to fleeting moments, sometimes it's within ourselves, sometimes fighting for what's right becomes so seemingly unbearable and we the constant uphill battle is too much and we have to take a step or two backwards. I don't think that there is anything wrong with this, there is nothing wrong with being imperfect. In order to grow and know our own value I think we have to put ourselves in situations where we might be disrespected, or treated like less than we are worth simply to remind ourselves of what we are capable of.

When pushing ourselves to the limit to prove our value appears to get us no where, sometimes we resort to the path of least resistance, the last behavior that gave us the reinforcement we desire. A sense of accomplishment, a feeling of acceptance, sometimes even simply a kind or flattering word, even if we know the moment is fleeting. In some cases I think that resorting to a more familiar and consistent behavior pattern can build our confidence back up when we are feeling defeated. Might not be the healthiest way to process disappointment and defeat, but everything in moderation is good, right?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Myriad of Memories

A song can trigger a memory and transport you to a time 28 years prior to a time when finding an abandoned nickel in melted ice cream is so exciting, like finding buried treasure. And then, just as quick as reality, a sharp scold from a parent changes buried treasure to trash and leaves it abandoned in the melting sugar.

From that memory another is struck, of multiple memories of a beloved grandpa who would collect stray objects and mail them to his granddaughters, little tokens of his love and ability to create treasure from trash. Pennies, arrowheads, empty bullet casings, keys, even pretty rocks with a simple "love grandpa" penned on the side...these are a few of the simple gifts that are now cherished items waiting to be placed in a shadow box.

It's easy to get lost in the memories and feelings of our past, sometimes too easy and we can forget to take the lessons we learned, and the good feelings felt at those times, and to live presently with them. For those of us that are old souls, it can be hard to not lost ourselves in the lessons we've learned, though if they are truly learned it should be easier to stay in the moment.

Amongst the memories, I would ask each of you reading this to recall your best first kiss ever.

Thinking of it? Why is it the best? Can you still recall the taste of it? The pressure, tempo, time of day, where you were? Of the first kisses that I remember, the most memorable have been both ones that took my breath away, and one that was purely situational-as in I wasn't left breathless but I was shocked that I was on the 20th or so floor of a very nice hotel with someone that I had pursued for months that in my mind at the time, I thought was well out of my league.

Listening to Cary Brothers, "Can't take my eyes off of you" I can't help but think that I don't want any more first kisses. Not in this life. I've had two first kisses with someone that never fails to take my breath away, someone that has seen my scars and I've seen there's; and being together isn't easy, nothing is ever super easy, but it's perfect.

Most of us deserve better, some have more than they deserve. It's important to love and be loved as much as you can in the end. Love is what is important, not how you deserve it though. Giving to another without selfish intent, it can be harder than thought. And it can be effortless when you least expect it.

Receiving an "F", for "Full Glass of Wine" (in being polite)

In yet another interesting car ride, the term "You receive an "F"" came out in reference to me being "not polite", essentially. Which then became, "as in a full glass of wine, which is what I'm going home to" (yes I added that bit). "F" can also be for "fine line", "friends", and "forgiveness". Perhaps tonight is a night for all of those in reflection.

A handful of garlic fries, a glass of wine, a slice of cheese, and a tangerine...after a quick belly dance work out. That was my evening. And listening to my parrots chatter, one dog squeeze his toy while another naps on my lap, and Arabian flute music while typing.

On days when you are forced to contemplate where you stand and what matters, it tends to leave people in different moods. For some they may become very withdrawn and quiet, others might gain an abundance of energy and chatter non-stop as they sort through all the thoughts in their head. I tend to be more of the former type of person, being an introverted soul.

Stress and drama are two things that none of us want in life, yet to some people it seems as if they are moths to the flames. Or flames to the moths? I resent being told that I must like drama because I surround myself with situations that cause it. I'm told that by harboring loathing and hated for people I am, in essence, not a great person and I bring my own misery upon myself. I don't agree 100% with that but I also don't deny it 100%. I think that it is natural to want attention, as proven by social media, the news, even rewards programs. We want to be recognized for being great, and sometimes we want to be seen as being better than we are because of underlying insecurities.

I have seen people, many good friends and many acquaintances, that have such bad self esteem or feeling of self value and worth, that they almost bleed over confidence and drama. For some, it's not as obvious until you peel back the layers and see them for who they are, and then in every gesture and word you can feel their insecurities as distinctly as if they were butterflies landing on your skin. Slight, but present. Other people are more of an avalanche hitting you as soon as they walk in the door, and for my part, I don't want anything to do with that and I try to separate myself out.

Naturally, in a professional field, we don't always have the option of avoiding everyone we don't mesh well with, sometimes we don't mesh because of obvious reasons, or maybe the reasons are that they are an avalanche of drama and insecurities that we can't stand to be overwhelmed by. Maybe it's someone that has an obstinate and strong personality that we butt heads with (maybe because we also have a strong personality, maybe because we are timid and afraid to speak up). Whatever the reason we do have to be polite to them. We carry on conversations and act genial and friendly towards them, and it can be genuine. It can also be forced.
What happens when an outsider, who knows us well or thinks they do, sees the way we act around those we aren't fond of, but knows us well enough to know that sometimes we need to vent? There is a fine line between fake and professional. And finding a safe way to get the stress of the day out, can be an even more difficult line to find. As if we are walking on barbed wire, we are conscientious of knowing how to count, how to speak, even sometimes how to breathe.

We can rise above it all or let it wear us down. In the end, we need to find the silver linings.

Sometimes when I am stressed (ok most times), I clean. It helps me feel in control of something in my life. When I am mentally exhausted I'll clean until I'm physically exhausted. And then, just when I'm down, I get kicked. But overall, while it's a new bruise, it's not a new pain. And after a knee jerk response, the healing time is remarkably fast compared to 8 years ago. Or even 3 years ago.

Happiness in life is a circle, and honestly that just autocorrected choice to circle and I'm leaving it. Because circle is as true as choice. Life will spin you around and without the downfalls you may not appreciate the happiness or positive moments as much. The key is keeping a positive outlook (for me to say this right now is a huge sign on improvement on my part and I can point at one big factor to that). Knowing that not all negative things will stay negative, being open to the silver linings, and knowing that pain is temporary but happiness can always be found if you're flexible.

Back to the drama bit, sometimes we do everything we can to avoid it. Living healthy lives, being calm in every situation, viewing life through open lenses and not getting upset about the finer details, even going with the big picture when it changes, having faith in a bigger plan. And sometimes, other people, namely ones who maybe have some deeper insecurities than we know, will lash out for unknown reasons and try to draw us in. It's as unfeasible to say we can live a drama-free life as it is to say life should be all positive reinforcement. We can certainly be like ducks in the water and let it roll off of our back, but as humans we have to fight against a knee jerk response to feel something. And I don't think we should fight it, as a Taoist isn't it better to recognize it and then let it go, letting it eke out its existence in its own time?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Choice and Control

 Choice and control is a popular phrase in the modern animal training world. It is the forefront of training and is currently leading the way in progressive thinking and training techniques. It is also as true a statement for humans as positive reinforcement is. Human 'training' is no different from animal training, except we tend to call it relationships with our friends and family. Every interaction is teaching a response based upon a consequence or action. History is built, and to change patterns, people need to feel secure in their environment to yield the best successes.

For example, sometimes opening up to someone is easier when you can write down your words and send them. It feels safer...some people say it is the chicken way out. That you should have those conversations in person. It's true that most communication is in body language...but in this day and age, sometimes "hiding" behind our words and screens may be more than just hiding. It could be offering choice and control to the other person. If you know that they are shy, or could become nervous and uncomfortable, isn't it respectful to give them the option to read something, and then have an escape from it? And truly respecting someone enough to give them that space and never ask for anything...some times we can't help our feelings. And some people can hide from themselves and ignore what they feel, and live with the inevitable agony that comes from hiding part of yourself. I have found that instead of pretending feelings don't exist, that if you can accept them, and sure, sometimes that involves telling the object of your affection and being rejected (I can speak from experience that it's not the end of the world and it's not that bad to tell someone you love them and then to not hear the words back.), through this process you can grow and it's not torturous.

A good friend of mine confided in me a few years ago about an instance of this where someone confided via email to her that they loved her, had for years, and expected nothing from her, they just needed to tell her. Then, just a few days later, a follow up email was sent when there was no reply. It remarked how obviously she was uncomfortable and had made her choice, and that they would leave her alone. For the next few months, about once every few weeks, she would receive a text from this guy, saying that they missed her and hoped they could talk again soon and have things go back to how they used to be. She never replied.

He was her uncle by marriage. Understandably Amber was put off by this exchange, the age difference was about a decade (not remarkable in itself) but she had grown up with him as family and at times he was more of a father figure to her than anyone else. In an instance like this, I have a hard time saying that perhaps he should have suffered in silence, it is better to be open and honest about it, but in my opinion his approach was not from a place of "true love". There were requests, in a way there were 'demands', when she didn't reply he got upset. She told me that she had never realized what being betrayed by love felt like, she had been betrayed by men before, and by friends, but never by love. But that's how it felt.

Obviously she gave me permission to reference this emotional part of her past, she knew I was thinking of writing this book and thought that the lessons she learned through it could be helpful through my writing for someone else one day. It's hard to put yourself out there, even harder when you know you are risking a relationship with someone important to you. What do you do when you feel that connection drawing you in close to someone, and you know you'll wind up hurt? Because as confident as you are in your self worth, you know that they will never love you the way that you love them. You tell yourself you don't have a crush on them. When they pop into your thoughts, you imagine something else to replace the thoughts of them, maybe a large boulder rolling down a hill, maybe an eagle taking flight and soaring. Months later and that hasn't changed the way you feel, so you admit to yourself that you have a crush but you won't allow yourself to day dream about them. You'll allow a thought of them but you just let it drift into the wind when it comes into your brain. That fails, so you admit that you might love them.

Then you get to know them better than before, each day you talk you learn more about them as a person and you fall more in love. You take some time apart from them, knowing that they are in a different place, and they let you have the space, they don't even know what you're going through. It feels like it's worked until you see them one day, and you catch each other's eyes and the intensity of their gaze knocks the breath out of your lungs and you realize then and there that you will always choose them. You will always love them. Do you tell them? Do you continue to love them in silence? After a few years, the hope that exists in the deep crevices of our soul continue to pester us to say something...just put it out there. And once you do, it feels like a weight has been lifted. Even if they can never reciprocate, and will never feel the same.

But the second that you take offense to their silence, or ask for a reply, you take away their control. That's not love...that is selfishness. Insecurities are natural in all of us, and selfishness to an extent. But love, true love, is putting aside all of our faults and weaknesses and being there for them. Allowing them the ability to say nothing, or to walk away without feeling like they are being rude, these are options that they have through the power of a text. No awkward pauses in conversation, no sideways glances at the door looking for an exit, no uncomfortable squirming in their chair because they don't know what to say...perhaps emotions thorough a screen aren't the cowards way out...maybe they are the kindest thing we can do for another person.