Thursday, January 30, 2020

How to Tell If Someone Really Loves You.

Hint: it has nothing to do with what they say.

image by Iga Palacz from Unsplash.com



Someone loves (or, cares for, respects, and values) you if…


They dare to speak up (in a loving way) and tell you when you are wrong, potentially hurting yourself, or others.


They show a genuine interest in the things for which you are most interested, excited, and passionate about.


They prioritize spending time with you regularly.


They listen, with focused presence and interest, when you speak.


They are willing to let go, if you both have tried as hard as you can to make things work, and things are no longer working. Letting go can also be an act of love, because it releases both parties so they can move on, heal, and find someone who is a healthier, better match at that point. Emotionally mature, healthy adults let go when a relationship, friendship, or other connection is no longer working.


They make an effort to get to know and get along with the people you love most. Even if they don’t fully jive with or love these people themselves, they do it as an act of love towards you


They are curious about you. Their inquiries are not just obligatory. They are truly interested in getting to know who you are. The things you think about, what scares you, your life dreams, current life experiences, and feelings, etc.


They remember and acknowledge the significant happenings in your life. Birthday, new job, a major medical issue, a breakup, etc.


They are reliable, trustworthy, and kind toward you.


They have the courage to tell you when they think what you’re doing is not ok.


You see it in the way they look at you.


They are open to feedback from you, even when it’s hard to hear, and then they attempt to change, grow, and tailor their actions going forward.


They have the courage to challenge you, when and where you need it most.


They go out of their way for you. To let you know that you matter to them, to spend time with you, to make a gesture in an attempt to uplift you when things are tough, etc.


They are not just around to hang out when it’s convenient. They also bend themselves sometimes in order to make it happen to hang with you too.


They care about when you are hurting, physically or emotionally. This upsets and pains them, and you know it based on their reaction and sense of empathy toward you.


They are excited to spend time with you.


They are forgiving since both of you will mess up at times. And love requires forgiveness.


They are willing to make adjustments for you.


They take action to solve problems when they do arise between the two of you. Not passive, half-hearted, lame action, but overt, motivated ones.


They do not hold grudges.


They respect your “no.”


They come when the chips are down and when you are truly in need. They are there, emotionally or physically. Ideally both.


They celebrate you. On your birthday, wedding day, on the day of your child’s birth, when you finally walk again after physical therapy, at graduation, and on the other significant occasions of your life. They get psyched for you and make this known.


When you spend time together, it isn’t always what they want to do. They are flexible, open, and make a point to partake in and try things you enjoy and want to do as well.


They laugh and play with you.


You can read a plethora of other articles like this of mine, on all topics (relationships, friendship, love, family relations, health, psychology, feminism, culture, and books) here on Medium.com.

The link to my author page and all articles is here!  Thank you so much for reading.  Have an inspired, healthy, productive, and joyous day.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

As You Grow Stronger and More Confident, People Won’t Like You, and That’s a Great Thing.


As you grow more confident, and with that confidence tends to come greater comfort in speaking up with regard to things like personal boundaries, not wanting to remain in situations that are harmful or distressing to you, and voicing dislike for things that you deem wrong, you’re going to ruffle some feathers.
Do not confuse my wording “stronger and more confident” with argumentative, self-righteous, nitpicky, or bullying, as these are not even close to the same thing.
Someone can be strong, confident, and decide not to take garbage from others, all while picking their battles and still maintaining a sense of poise, kindness, openness, and good manners. You need not be rigid, inflexible, or ever starting fights in order to have great boundaries and be a strong person.
However, once you begin saying “no” where you may have said “yes” prior (even though you didn’t really want to), once you start speaking up when someone is rude or offensive to you where you didn’t before, once you go ahead and walk away from or turn down time spent with others around whom you’d rather not, people are going to have an issue with it.
They’re going to get upset. Some might even get angry.
Why?
Because people don’t like to be told no.
They don’t like to be challenged or called out. People do not enjoy being held accountable. Most people you meet and know do not have the emotional maturity, bravery, or sense of personal accountability to meet such an interaction head-on and acknowledge where they might be wrong. Instead, most will rear back and hide, grow defensive, or, they will get pissed.
Toxic people hate being called on their dysfunction. Alternatively, half of them don’t even realize they’re toxic, nor do they care to examine this.
Controlling people do not like being challenged or losing control.
Bullies feel angered when they aren’t able to push people around.
“Dumpers” (my name for people with whom we have monologues- not conversations, who just dump, and dump, and dump on us their life story, dramas, feelings, thoughts, etc, with nary a question or interest back towards us) feel offended, confused, and insulted when people stop letting them dump and instead, excuse themselves elsewhere.
Wallowers hate positive people because then they aren’t permitted the attention garnering pity party. And, your joy in opposition to their unhappiness makes them bitter and jealous.
Even the good guys, friends, romantic partners, healthy and good-hearted family members, some of these people are going to feel disappointed, hurt, even angry at times when you put up perimeters and boundaries with regards to your own needs and emotional health.
That’s ok.
Because you know what the alternative is?
Ever bending, molding, and changing yourself to fit everyone else's wants and needs. Rushing about this way and that to step into whatever role each given person wants you to be, in that situation and during that time. Living your life via catering to everyone else.
This is a life lived in silence and emotional repression, (eventual) resentment, weakness, and without boundaries.
It’s a life in which you lose yourself for the comfort of others.
Thus, when you start standing up for yourself? (Which again, is not synonymous with being unnecessarily combative or mean). People are going to get angry. Fights might occur. And yes, you might even experience estrangement with some people or, at it’s most extreme, a few relationships even ending altogether.
Know why this is a great thing?
It weeds from your life the people you don’t want there anyway. The ones who refuse to respect you and your boundaries. The ones who don’t truly care deeply about you anyway and instead, care more about control, negativity, hurting others, and mostly, themselves.
It rids your life of the people who aren’t right for you.
And remember, just because you share DNA does not mean these people are right for you. There was no choice involved in that at the beginning. You were born and thrust into the situation without any semblance of a choice on your end. The sad truth and result of this is that many people with whom we share blood are grave mismatches for us. Sometimes, they are even harmful. You will discover this when both, you learn to look unbiasedly, openly, and bravely at these relationships and when you get up the guts to then act accordingly.
On the flip side, with the people who aren’t dysfunctional or harmful? It makes your relationships that much healthier and happier with these people. Exuding boundaries with people who truly respect and love you, more often than not, has generally positive results, even if some feelings get hurt occasionally. Thus, with the people you want in your life, and with regards to those who are truly good for you? This will be a good thing.
Some residual effect which, don’t count on this, though if it happens, can be a significant positive for everyone involved: people could learn some crucial life lessons via your speaking up and standing up to them.
When we dare to speak openly to others, our loved ones, family, friends, you name it, with regards to how they might be acting inappropriately, unhealthfully, even harmfully, yes, they’ll probably get mad. They also just may examine themselves more closely in a quiet moment later on, and consider what you’ve said or pointed out.
This can be a seed planted that results in eventual growth.
Because if you don’t dare to speak up, if the person isn’t aware of or informed where they might be wrong or harming others, how can a person ever learn from it, change, and potentially grow? The answer is: they can’t.
And lastly, the final effect of all this standing up for yourself and daring to bring forth your inner bad-ass, boundaries, and sense of strength?
You will feel better about yourself.
Emotionally and mentally healthier, more capable, more in control of your relationships and your life. You will feel braver, and your confidence will continue to grow and flourish as you practice this behavior more and more. You won’t remain in situations or around people who cause you significant distress or who hurt you. You aren’t going to sit, steeped in bitter silence, watching dysfunction unfold around you. Instead, you’ll speak up.
You’ll become emotionally healthier and thus, the people around you will by residual effect (since, if they want to be a part of your life, they’ll need to adapt to your perimeters if they want to spend time around you). And, the people who aren’t good for you will get walled off.
There is essentially no downside to growing stronger, braver, more confident, and outspoken with regards to your needs, feelings, and personal boundaries. Yes, it might result in some painful, awkward, tough moments. These are temporary though. And they are unavoidable when we choose to live a life that is emotionally healthy, happy, and with strong personal boundaries.
Only good things happen over the big picture when we stop accepting bad behavior from others and when we dare to speak up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why, as a Culture, We Are Terrible at Romantic Relationships.

Because we aren’t ever taught directly, nor do we seek actively learning how to have good ones.


As children, we move through preschool, middle, and high school learning about various topics that are deemed relevant to us, from history to calculus and literature. Yet, nowhere on that agenda or syllabus does it include learning in any depth about relationships, though especially with regard to romantic ones. For instance, what does a healthy relationship look like? How does one go about choosing a healthy and great fitting romantic partner? And, how does one be a healthy and top-notch romantic partner themselves?
Nowhere do these questions arise during our education from children into young adulthood, other than potentially for a few minutes in health class, where abuse may or may not be touched upon. That is about it though.
In no way are we directly taught how to seek out, create, and maintain a quality romantic relationship. Nor, how to be a healthy and rockin’ romantic partner ourselves. (The same goes for friendships as well, though the focus of this article is on romantic relations).
As we grow up and proceed through life, our sole role models for romantic relations are first, our parents. This then potentially including our siblings, and then eventually, the friends with whom we surround ourselves. We watch the romances of these people play out, in healthy or, likely more often, unhealthy ways, then assuming this to be how relationships are and how they function.
We learn about relationships by watching and observing a small intimate circle of those surrounding us, and this often, to our detriment.
If most, or even just some of these relational role models in our lives aren’t good ones, it may take us years to eventually figure this out. Meanwhile, we go along, assuming these to be a blueprint for how romantic relationships look, are, and should be.
Further, most people do not actively seek learning and accumulated knowledge on the topics of relationships, friendships, and romantic ones, as well as education on what makes family connections healthy or not, as well as improvement on communication skills, and what healthy relationships look like in general.
The majority of people just go through life, living and learning via trial and error along the way. And even then, plenty of us do not choose to examine those patterns, choices, or lessons very carefully and then make the same mistakes again and again.
This does not tend to result in much wisdom with regard to romantic relationships. It, more often, will result in settling, choosing many wrong partners before and even if one eventually chooses right, and possibly even choosing flat out unhealthy relationships, romantic, as well as platonic and familial.
We do not teach, in our culture and to children growing up, many of the skills which are truly needed and actually necessary for that child to go forward with which are most likely to result in their best life possible. Geometry and Home Ect do not truly assist one in leading their most emotionally healthy and relationally successful life. And the consequences are seen across the landscape of frequently ill-fitting or even resigned and unhealthy romances, which are the norm rather than the exception.
When books like 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight come out, we follow the screaming crowd of fans, not tending to look closer and truly examine the nuances of what we are supporting and falling for at the drop of a hat. Because “everyone else loves it” too. When in fact, both of these books depict possessive, controlling, semi-abusive men who treat the women they “love” as objects to be molded and controlled to their will. This isn’t sexy and it isn’t love. It’s abuse and it’s icky. Yet, whole hosts of young adult women have grown up thinking these movies and books are examples of romance.
We could change this. We could much better equip our children to both be better great partners themselves, as well as, to more likely choose healthy relationships for their own lives. We could also avoid people getting into terrible relationships in the first place as well.
Offering several mandatory classes in and throughout school, so in preschool, middle, and high school, as well as in college (and making these courses requirements), each one tailored, of course, to the appropriate maturity level and age range to whom is being taught. And, on our own, choosing to have the personal agency and turn toward the pursuit of continued learning throughout our lives (even if we feel like, at the moment, we don’t need to and we’ve got it down) with regards to healthy relationships, better communication, and such.
These two things would be relevant steps that would make a real difference in terms of helping people learn, and early on, what healthy relationships look like and do not look like, as well as, how to be a great partner (and friend, and healthy loved one) themselves.
All of which would significantly reduce the incidence of choosing crappy relationships over the course of one’s life, as well as, would cut down on passing this cycle down to one’s own children and so on. This, resulting in far greater life satisfaction and relational happiness for people across the board.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

We Are a Culture That Makes Light of and Encourages Substance Abuse.

Look closely across the cultural landscape, specifically with regard to alcohol.
Happy hours, and two for one drinks. “Ladies Night” and “80s Night.”
Weddings, birthday parties, Christmas and Thanksgiving, all most certainly celebrations during which alcohol is served up and consumed in abundance. It being unquestionably assumed that this is a given on any holiday or celebratory occasion. (Hell, Oktoberfest is a holiday that revolves and centers around the act of drinking, period). And, each of these is often used as an excuse to “let loose”, semi lose control, and thus, drink too much.
Housewarming gifts are frequently bottles of alcohol.
Someone I know, for every instance of someone new landing a position with the company he works for and then beginning working there, it is recognized with a scotch tasting.
Upon boarding an airplane, flight attendants serve hard liquor, wine, and beer alongside water and soda. Alcohol just being a given option and considered a norm.
Keg parties, beer pong, beruit, funneling alcohol, and power hours.
“What a week, I need a drink to relax,” people frequently say. Our society normalizes and even encourages the using of substances in order to manage our emotions and “feel better.”
During the Superbowl, alcohol commercials run abound.
On turning 21, we celebrate this person's newfound permission to drink alcohol as though they’ve achieved something significant, profound, thrilling, and life-changing.
Television shows, movies, and songs are often paired with drinking, made into “drinking games.”
Every advertisement that features alcohol as the product showcases glamorous, sexy, confident-looking people, often in sultry and sexually charged scenarios, attempting to get us believing that drinking is synonymous with both becoming one ourselves as well as the attracting of hotties, as well as, is a seductive activity in general (when in reality, consider anyone you know when they are drunk. “Sexy” is probably far from the adjective you would use to describe their behavior and aura).
“I like to have a drink every night to unwind after work.” An oft-made social remark throughout our culture. Again, using and relying on a substance in order to relax, feel better, and manage stressful emotions.
People downplaying, writing off or dismissing with regard to friends or loved ones who drink a lot with remarks like, “yeah, Jason always drinks a lot on Saturdays,” or “sometimes my dad drinks too much when he’s down, but you know, it happens. He doesn’t always do it.”
One of the most common, go-to dates is out for drinks. People often having several in order to “loosen up” and feel more comfortable around each other. Instead of challenging themselves with feeling the nerves, that initial awkwardness, and uncertainty, and yet, pushing through and learning to manage these tough, uncomfortable feelings on their own, they turn to a substance to help manage or even mute those feelings.
We make light of, even make chic, sexy, and completely encourage substance abuse in our society.
Even addiction is dismissable, assuming the person can function.
As long as someone isn’t stumbling around the streets homeless, or missing work constantly, or selling all their worldly possessions and stealing to pay for the substance in question, we don’t afford the abuse of alcohol much mind.
Instead, we laugh about it, dismiss or downplay it, and even urge it on.
I’m sure everyone has heard the background chant directed their way of “chug, chug, chug, chug!” At least once in their lives, though likely many more.
“Let’s go out drinking tonight,” the oft-made announcement come weekends for young and older adults alike. And of course, with nary a bit of confusion about the meaning, “drinking” referring to alcohol and often, to consuming it in some degree of abundance.
The weekend drinking can be especially insidious because, as long as someone relegates their drinking to the weekends, people rarely peg them as having a problem. When in reality, plenty of people who excitedly anticipate each weekend for the chance to then go out, drink, and “let loose”, do in fact have a drinking problem.
We wrongly assume that to be an alcoholic, someone must drink every day.
We also wrongly assume that to be an alcoholic, one must frequently get fall down, blackout drunk.
Someone can be an alcoholic who does not drink every day, as well as, someone can be an alcoholic who does not get blackout drunk.
Alcoholism is more about habitual behavior.
Does someone drink often, and following the same type of pattern? (Whether it’s two drinks most nights after work, or raring to drink come every single weekend, both of these people can be alcoholics).
Do they rely on or use frequently, the substance in order to “feel better”? To de-stress, manage their emotions, to “loosen up” or “have fun”?
Are they unable to set a limit? For example, if they say, “I'm not going to drink this week,” are they able to stick to this? Or, if they say, “I’m only going to have a drink or two tonight,” does that statement then reflect the reality? This cannot be hit or miss. It must be consistent. If someone is frequently unable to set and stick to a limit, they likely have a drinking problem.
Do they go out of their way to drink? For example, when hanging out at home with this person and they find, there is no alcohol around, do they then need to go out and get some, even though it’s inconvenient for them to do so? Do they seek out alcohol in situations where it isn’t particularly prominent or forwardly present?
Weare a culture that is problematic, who turns a blind eye to, as well as encourages, makes light of, laughs off, and even makes chic substance abuse, and even addiction- assuming it’s functional addiction.
“It is not a measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” Thus, just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s healthy, good, or an ideal way to go about life.
Consider this issue more closely over the next coming weeks of your life. Watch carefully the way our culture promotes and encourages substance abuse. Notice how you feel, physically and emotionally, when you do not abuse substances. Observe how many of the people around you go along, almost blindly with the crowd, regarding this prevalent culture issue.
And, if you dare, challenge it. Both inside of yourself, and potentially even with some of the people you love, whom you observe may have substance abuse problems of their own.
It is only when we begin pushing back against, questioning, challenging, and refusing to go along with the aspects of our culture which are unhealthy or harmful, that the chance stands of things shifting, both within ourselves, as well as the world at large.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Consumer Culture Does Not Want Men and Women to Love Each Other.


In fact, they depend on this.

Why?

Because, it would then be the downfall of civilization as we know it, meaning, of male dominance.

Women who love themselves are threatening, but men who love real women, possibly even more so.

The last thing our consumer culture wants is for the sexes to figure out how to love each other. The $1.5 trillion retail and sale industry depend on the sexual estrangement between men and women. It is fueled by sexual dissatisfaction.

Ads do not sell us sex. This would be counter-intuitive. Then, men and women would turn toward each other, they would be gratified and generally fulfilled within their relations with one another. They would stop buying into consumer culture if this were the case.

What consumer culture sells instead is sexual discontent.

Consumer culture depends on maintaining broken lines of communication between the sexes, as well as, presses on society the promotion of fierce emotional insecurities in each.

The beauty myth that our culture crushes women with as a perpetual life pursuit keeps a gap and mirage of misleading and disappointing fantasy ever-present between men and women. It keeps us spending vast sums of money and looking distractedly about us, instead of noticing, focusing on, investing in, and loving each other. The authentic human beings, of varied look, body type, color, and temperaments, right in front of us.

Consumer culture is supported best by markets of men who want objects, and women who want to be objects. To make things more distracting, the object desired is ever-changing, disposable, and dictated and decided upon by our market at large. This keeps women ever scrambling, and men ever distracted.

Culture tells us what is beautiful, sexy, or desirable, and we follow along mimicking, molding, and melding ourselves in numerous attempts at filling this fantasy, pretend ideal, in order to be “seen” and desired.

This object of desire which consumer culture and pornography dictates also ensures that as few men as possible will form a significant and lasting bond with one woman for years, or for a lifetime, and simultaneously, that women's dissatisfaction with themselves will only grow over time. This encouraging the diminishment of women’s mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Emotionally unstable relationships, self-hating women, emotionally unavailable and uncaring men, high divorce rates, all of this is both created by consumer culture and serves as kindling in the continued fueling of that fire. It maintains distance and distress between men and women.

All of which is good for consumer culture and economy. And all of which is terrible for healthy or fulfilling relationships, as well as, the individual lives of men and women.

Beauty porn and the false images of our media are intent on making real sex between women and men, boring, uncaring, anti-erotic, and even brutal, for both sexes.

The military, to which the US government allows nearly one-third of its budget, depends on men buying into the standard propaganda of militarism: that their wives and children will somehow benefit from their “heroic” death.

Yet, if men’s love for women and their own children instead led them to and let them define themselves first, as fathers and lovers, the propaganda of war would crumble.

The consumer economy also hinges on a male work structure that denies family. Men police one another's sexuality, forbidding each other to put sexual, romantic, or familial love at the center of their lives. This occurs both in the work realm and outside of it.

Consider such comments by men to other men such as “wow, he is so whipped,” or “oh, a real family man now, are you?” Men are ridiculed, demeaned, and challenged if, in any way, they choose to make a woman and family their central life focus. As though this is somehow misguided and pathetic.

Advertising and porn are useful in preventing that from occurring as well (men placing utmost respect, love, and priority on a woman for whom he cares). For men, the effect is to keep them from finding peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment in sexual love. From the airbrushed centerfold to even the pornified ways in which women are encouraged to dress throughout wider culture today, all of this connected to porn and brothel culture, being made prevalent throughout our society for many reasons.

All of it is designed to keep women down, diminished, insecure, ever feeling unworthy in how she looks, and always in pursuit of “looking” or “being” better so she might be desirable and loveable (since, per our culture, a woman is not either of those things unless she is a flawless centerfold quality “beauty”). As well as, advertising and porn are used to keep men distracted, in pursuit of, and unable to focus on the real beauty of the woman right in front of him- known, familiar, eventually lined and marked, the one with whom he wakes up each morning.

Today's urbanites now put their sexual fate in the hands of online dating, swiping through faces akin to shopping in a catalog, and workaholics, handing over their libidos to work. Careerism, a gold medal in the world of work, and a title over which we glow and use as a form of bragging. Yet, emotionally and romantically, we are growing more disconnected and distracted by the second.

One need not look far to notice our general, growing interpersonal disconnection with each other. Just glance down the length of a subway car, or within a city bus, or even, across the expanse of a cafe. A vast majority of people will be sitting, heads down, fingers tap, tap, tapping, gazes trained on screens and not on the human beings right in front of them. It’s now commonplace to see families sitting at restaurant booths, all of them looking down at their own separate screens and not interacting at all. Couples, doing the exact same thing.

Images that flatten sex into “beauty” and beauty into something inhuman or impossible, or that subject women to eroticized torment, are politically and socioeconomically welcome, in that they subvert female sexual pride, they keep women insecure and ultimately down, and they ensure that men and women are unlikely to form a common cause against the social order, which so feeds on their mutual antagonism and insecurities.

Now, imagine for a moment if women stopped buying into, going along with, and chasing after our culture’s narrowly prescribed, rigid, homogenized, unattainable, and at times even cruel beauty myth and picture if instead, women rejected that cultural construct and started truly loving themselves.

What might happen then?

Women who truly, legitimately love themselves are convinced of their self and social worth. Their love for their bodies would then be unqualified. Thus, eating disorders would cease. Plastic surgeons would go out of business. The advertising agencies would need to invent entirely new imagery. The diet industry would go under.

Women would no longer choose, feel pressure toward, or a need in chasing after a singular, narrowly prescribed beauty ideal, and one that hurts women in numerous ways (because eating disorders, cutting open one's body and inserting it with foreign objects to “look better” for one’s cultural demands of “beauty”, as well as, general self-hatred and feeling constant insecurity and dissatisfaction with oneself, these are all inflictions of violence on oneself).

Women who know in full and are truly convinced of their worth would demand equal pay to men. They would ask for what they want in bed. They would stop confusing their sexuality with the posing for and catering to the desires of men. Women would stop dressing like sex workers in everyday life
and further, confusing it with liberation.

They would demand paid childcare, as well as, fair pay for the plethora of additional work women do (from elderly care to childcare, and work around the house).

Women in the workforce would suddenly pervade all fields. Their main gigs would not remain, as they are still today, relegated to jobs like teacher, nurse, and administrative assistant.

They would relish and revel in food, the way that most men do freely, and the way that women should. Women would treat food as nutrition, fuel, pleasure, and sustenance. Instead of all the disordered ways in which we are trained to think of and approach it now.

They would treat exercise as a means to the maintenance of health and vibrancy, as opposed to something done in an obsessive, self-punishing, anxiety-laden manner.

They would cease remaining silent and even quiet. Women’s voices would be heard, in equal measure, with men’s.

The force of women would become so great that men and our culture as a whole would be forced to reckon with what women want, deserve, and would then be demanding, in terms of respect, pay for their work, treatment in their interpersonal relationships, equal social standing, within the sexual realm, and throughout the world.

We would be unstoppable.

The patriarchy would fall.

Relationships between men and women would flourish, they would grow tender, healthier, and become a true life force, the one which they are meant to be.

Our culture does what it can to keep men and women from authentically loving and truly seeing each other as they are, and, to erode women's love for themselves.

If we pushed back on, challenged, and rejected this, all of it, we could and would change the world.

We could change the way love is experienced between men and women.

We could change women’s physical and emotional lives.

We would change our whole culture at large, in wildly positive, significant, awesome ways.


This article was inspired by the profound insights of Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth- How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women.

Friday, September 20, 2019

In Just Six Months...Adventuring Halfway Across the World

Hi Fellow Adventure Lovers,

In just 6 months, I'll be off to...Japan!!!

Tickets are booked.  The ball is in motion!

We will jet come the end of March and be in Japan for two weeks, through the beginning of April.

While I've traveled extensively throughout Europe during the years which I lived there (though still, much remains for me to discover and see on that front), have been to Canada, as well as Barbados, I haven't yet been to this part of the world. 

I have no doubt it's going to be mind-blowing and a world apart from anything I've experienced culturally, prior.

A glimpse of what is definitely on the docket:

- Green tea is huge in Japan.  Thus, we will most certainly be partaking in one of their traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

- Spending the night up in the mountains and in a rural, remote part of Japan within a Buddhist monastery with monks.  My god, I cannot wait for this.  I have no doubt that it will be emotionally moving, awe-inducing, culturally rich, relaxing, spiritual, and just amazing.

- Wander the streets of Gion in Kyoto, as well as, see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

- Eating a boatload of high quality, read-deal, authentic Japanese food.

- Monkey Park Iwatayama.  This is a gorgeous, open range park, nestled within scenic mountains, within which monkeys roam free (and in abundance).

- Walk the Philosophers Path in Kyoto, one of the most gorgeous places to experience cherry blossoms.

- Visiting the city of Kanazawa (Google this place- supposed to be incredible).  Apparently few foreign tourists make it here. Kanazawa is a quieter place to experience geisha districts with preserved wooden buildings. There is also one of the most beautiful gardens in the country, a stunning castle, and many art museums to explore.

- Visit the city of Hiroshima.

- Venturing to Koya-San.  Koya-san (Mount Koya) is one of the most interesting places in Japan to experience the traditional side of the country. This secluded and sacred temple town is located in the forest-covered mountains of Kansai and is one of the best places to get a taste of life as a monk by staying in a shukubo or temple lodging.




Monkey Park Iwatayama.


The Philosophers Path.


Japan's Gion district








Thursday, September 19, 2019

The One Truth That Matters Regarding Toxic Relationships, Family or Other

image by Ben White from Unsplash.com


The One Truth That Matters.

If it feels like growth or something that will nourish you, follow that. And that might mean walking away from people you care about – parents, sisters, brothers, friends – you name the person.  But, this can be done with love and the door left open for when they are able to meet you closer to your terms.  

Ones that don’t break you.

Set the boundaries with grace and love, and leave it to the toxic person to decide which side of that boundary they want to stand on. 

Boundaries aren’t about spite or manipulation and they don’t have to be about ending the relationship. They are something drawn in strength and courage to let people see with great clarity where the doorway is to you. 

Then, if the relationship ends, it’s not because of your lack of love or loyalty, but because the toxic person chose not to treat you in the way you deserve. 

Their choice.

Though it is up to you to decide the conditions on which you will let someone close to you, whether or not somebody wants to be close to you enough to respect those conditions is up to them. The choice to trample over what you need means they are choosing not to be with you. It doesn’t mean you are excluding them from your life.

Toxic people also have their conditions of relationship and though they might not be explicit, they are likely to include an expectation that you will tolerate ridicule, judgment, criticism, oppression, lying, manipulation – whatever they do. 

No relationship is worth that and it is always okay to say ‘no’ to anything that diminishes you.

Sometimes choosing health and wholeness means stepping bravely away from that which would see your spirit broken or malnourished.

There is absolutely no obligation to choose people who are toxic just because they are family

If they are toxic, the simple truth is that they have not chosen you

The version of you that they have chosen is the one that is less than the person you would be without them.


The Growth.

Walking away from a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is always brave and always strong. It is always okay. And it is always – always – worth it. 

This is the learning and the growth that is hidden in the toxic mess.

Letting go will likely come with guilt, anger, and grief for the family or person you thought you had. They might fight harder for you to stay. They will probably be crueler, more manipulative and more toxic than ever. They will do what they’ve always done because it has always worked. Keep moving forward and let every hurtful, small-hearted thing they say or do fuel your step.

You can love people, let go of them and keep the door open on your terms, for whenever they are ready to treat you with love, respect, and kindness. This is one of the hardest lessons but one of the most life-giving and courageous ones.

Sometimes there are not two sides. There is only one. Toxic people will have you believe that the one truthful side is theirs. It’s not. It never was. 

Don’t believe their highly diseased, stingy version of love. It’s been drawing your breath, suffocating you and it will slowly kill you if you let it, and the way you ‘let it’ is by standing still while it spirals around you, takes aim, and shoots.

Love never holds people back from growing. It doesn’t diminish, and it doesn’t contaminate. If someone loves you, it feels like love. It feels supportive and nurturing and life-giving. 

If it doesn’t do this, it’s not love. 

It’s self-serving crap designed to keep you tethered and bound to someone else’s idea of how you should be.


Why Are Toxic Relationships So Destructive?

In any healthy relationship, love is circular – when you give love, it comes back. When what comes back is scrappy, stingy intent under the guise of love, it will eventually leave you small and depleted, which falls wildly, terrifyingly short of where anyone is meant to be.

The obligation to love and stay loyal to a family member can be immense but love and loyalty are two separate things and they don’t always belong together.

Loyalty can be a confusing, loaded term and is often the reason that people stay stuck in toxic relationships. 

What you need to know is this: When loyalty comes with a diminishing of the self, it’s not loyalty, it’s submission.

If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would come with a high-powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are not immune to the poisonous lashings of a toxic relationship.

Though families and relationships can feel impossibly tough at times, they were never meant to ruin. All relationships have their flaws and none of them come packaged with the permanent glow of sunlight and goodness and beautiful things. In any normal relationship there will be fights from time to time. Things will be said and done and forgiven, and occasionally rehashed at strategic moments. 

For the most part, though, they will feel nurturing and life-giving to be in.

In any toxic relationship, there will be other qualities missing too, such as respect, kindness, and compassion, but at the heart of a toxic person’s behavior is the lack of concern around their impact on others. They come with a critical failure to see past their own needs and wants.

Toxic people thrive on control. Not the loving, healthy control that tries to keep everyone safe and happy – buckle your seatbelt, be kind, wear sunscreen – but the type that keeps people small and diminished.
Everything they do is to keep people small and manageable. 

This will play out through criticism, judgment, oppression – whatever it takes to keep someone in their place. The more you try to step out of ‘your place’, the more a toxic person will call on toxic behavior to bring you back and squash you into the tiny box they believe you belong in.

Remember though, you can love people, let go of them and keep the door open on your terms, for whenever they are ready to treat you with love, respect, and kindness. This is one of the hardest lessons but one of the most life-giving and courageous ones.

And, walking away from a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is always brave and always strong. It is always okay. And it is always – always – worth it. 


This is the learning and the growth that is hidden in the toxic mess.




All of this is from the article: When Someone You Love is Toxic- How to Let Go, Without the Guilt by Karen Young, from HeySigmund.com.  This piece is just so excellent, I had to share it.  I want to make clear though, I did not write this.  The insightful and articulate Karen Young did.