Saturday, July 28, 2018

How the Poignant Loves in our Lives Change our World

With each resonating love and close, deep emotional connection experienced within our individual lives, there lies immense power in such to potentially shift our whole world on its axis.

What determines whether or not this happens involves a degree of willingness and openness on your (the recipients) end for such to be possible in the first place, along with the semi randomness of chance with regards to whom we meet and then choose to love (because yes, love is a choice.  Sure, we cannot choose to whom we feel initial flickers of attraction.  But coming to love someone is a huge, involved process that takes place over time/hundreds of hours/many months and thus, is an active choosing into which we decide to move towards-or not).

I slightly digressed there for a moment.  So.  The power of any love we meet for the potential of shifting our individual world on its axis exists in both endless small ways, as well as in many huge ones.  Some of which can and will be conscious, other of which will be unconscious.  Important side note: this power to shift us in monumental ways goes for both romantic loves as well as platonic, familial, even cross species love (as with a beloved pet).  Love is love.  The hinge point or defining factor I am referring to as in the power of love to alter our whole path (as well as personal being) lies not in the love being of the romantic type.  As though romantic love were the pinnacle, top most, golden standard of all loves.  Instead, the life changing power lies not in the type of love, but in the depth of feelings, bravery, timing, and closeness in that particular connection.

So, onward into the nuances of how poignant loves can and often do change our worlds as we know them.

First loves.  These open an entryway and usher us through, into a novel room to which we had never visited nor stepped through its doorway prior.  First love can and often is a litany of lessons.  Some beautiful, heart rending, awe inducing, others heart wrenching and soul wrecking, a few even directly contradictory and at odds with one another.

We learn what that adrenaline fueled, high speed, butterfly laden sensation that perfumes and saturates the air of movies, television, and stories abound is waxing poetic about.  Finally coming to understand ourselves just what all the hype is.  No way is it overrated, we find ourselves vouching for and internally shouting from the rooftops (or, maybe for some, even externally).  Thrilling, titillating, buoyant, electricity and buzzing limbs and chest abound.  We experience that heart rending awkwardness of sex with someone whom we actually have feelings for.

First love is chock full of lessons learned the hard way.  Communication short circuited and failures.  Personality traits and behaviors we thought we could/should/would compromise on in that initial love, which we learn via the trajectory of that very relationship we probably shouldn't have.  First loves can teach us how to trust.  They can also usher in our first experience of what it feels like to have your heart detonated.  Crushed by the steamroller of reality that encompasses incompatibility, disillusioned idealism shattered, the fullness of complications that love can hand over for which we were not even close to prepared.  Because, as in the moves and books, we are continually assured "love is all you need," right?  Not quite.  And nowhere else do we learn this with such solidarity than in first love.

This can be SO many different reasons for which someone crosses your path.  To teach you important lessons.  To show you what you dont want.  To teach you how to trust.  To open your heart.  To challenge you.  To show you comparatively what isn't good for you.  To guide you towards better communication.  To invite new interests and passions into your heart.  To urge you towards a goal or idea further.  To teach you something which you have mistakenly, wrongly believed, in the hardest way possible- something necessary for you to learn in order to eventually love fully and truly. 

The list going on and on.  Every poignant relationship that crosses our path has come to offer us lessons, and usually many.

First loves offer a glimpse, for many even a delicious dive, into the depths of intensity, wonder, and awe that love can entail.  This relationship gives us that tantalizing taste of all the wonder and heart swelling awe that can be experienced and navigated within a close connection to another person.
Yet, while first loves tend toward offering a taste of what you want, simultaneously they usually deliver the heavy handed lesson and, often with the sensation of being hit hard over the head with it, of what you dont.

First love can be akin to stumbling through the dark with a lit match.  Reaching out and happening on treasures along the fairly blinded way and exploration involved in that first relationship, as well as grasping things that seem promising or positive in the time and moment, only to realize eventually that actually, they might be much the opposite.

Often times though (granted, of course not always), and is this something most of us dont learn until years later, first love is more a mirage of love.  Not to say it isn't love.  Many times, it is.  Its just a different shade of love, tending towards more along the lines of something like a baby love, which years later down the road of life, we realize paled in comparison to the love we would later come to build and experience.  First love, while poignant and important, while unique in its own beautiful right, is the training wheels of love.  That first love tends to be more an infusion of lust, passion, dependence, hopeful delusion, wonder, joy, and deep caring.

Authentic, mature, open, communicative, brave, healthy, soul love is, more often than not, what comes miles later down the road of life.  Several chapters tending to follow that first one.  Coming with further experience and chapters written, much more character growth, personal learning under ones belt (via books, articles, the wisdom of other people, and just more life experience in general).

First love gets all the weight in movies and literature.  Touted as being the "most magic, memorable, and powerful" of experiences with regards to love.  I want to push back on that a bit though.  Dont get me wrong, first love is big.  Its powerful.  Like a lightening bolt through the sky of ones life where never before had lightening struck.  However, for most (though of course, not all), for the majority of people, their most resonating, life affirming, healthy, and soul moving loves follow that initial one

For most, the great love happens further on down the road

There are a rare few for whom this isn't the case, who build an awesome and resonating connection with their first deep love, and that's just as beautiful and awesome.  For most though, we tend to grow into the best partner we can be via years and years of experience, which tends to involve more than one love.

Spring boarding off the foundation lain by first loves (and this involves not just first romance, it includes emotionally deep/close friend connections, as well as early powerful connections of other types who left their mark on our heart.  These can be a sibling relationship, a teacher you had, a pet in your life, a mentor/counselor who was part of your story), the loves that cross our path later on when we are more formed, grown, experienced individuals can be the winds that blows our weathervane East where prior, it pointed West. 

That first love(s) akin to our watching and experiencing the opening act of a play and assuming that to be "the way it is," only to have the curtains go up for scene two (aka those further loves to follow coming into the picture) which drop our jaws with the plot turns they initiate-which we never saw coming, and open our minds and hearts with the alternate insights/lessons they bring with them, shifting and altering everything we thought we knew to be true of love prior.

First love is the earths crust.  The surface.  Incredibly important, to be sure, as its that first surface on which you try out those sea legs.  Loves to come after though (both romantic and platonic) are the mantle, and the outer and inner cores.

These loves can and will debunk myths learned mistakenly believed in that first relational experience.  These loves hold up a mirror to those initial loves.  Prompting your looking back and seeing much of your previous experiences with new eyes.  Ways in which you thought something was one way, and now see that actually, it was another.  Mistakes you may have made which were previously downplayed or misplaced.  Things you let go in past relationships, which now you know that you shouldn't have.  Ways in which each of you may have misstepped in those initial relational experiences, as well as awe inspiring lessons learned.

First loves are those initial swipes of brilliant color, painted across your canvas.  The loves that follow are further lines, shapes, and shades which actualize as you continue painting, bringing together the painting as a whole.  Filling in the empty spaces, changes to images you thought might become one thing which, now on looking closer, you see are actually shifting and evolving into something totally different, though just as breath taking.  More often than not, even more so.

All of these poignant connections, interconnected on a seemingly invisible string.  When, looking back, you can now see endings which at the time, may have been devastating, as what are now clearly the best possible thing to have happened.  On reflection, you see a sprinkling of meaningful coincidences, things that happened which-had they not, you wouldn't be where you are now and with whom.  Lessons learned along the way which at the time, seemed to be one message that now you can see are an entirely other message/lesson after all.

Then, as a side note to touch upon (though connected but slightly different topic), there are the soul mate relationships of our lives.  Some people never experience this type of connection with another person- usually due to initially settling in one degree or another too quickly.  Others dont experience the soul mate connection with someone because they dont chose to open or stretch themselves to the emotional edges that are required of such a relationship depth.  And many will not experience the soul mate connection because they stay in the same relationship long past, what in the deepest depth of their hearts they know, is the expiration point.  Because they are too scared, too dependent, too stuck in habit or comfort to go.

Some relationships are meant to be brief, others are meant to last 6 years, while another may be meant to last 15.  Some might be meant to last less than a year, while another might be meant to last 9, or 17.  You get the idea.  And then a small subset of relationships encompass enough growth, openness, deep connection, honesty, maturity, and continual shifting between the two people to healthfully and truthfully be meant to last a lifetime- though first, both people have to make it so, and secondly, they need to be a good match generally in the first place.

Some relationships entail bends in the road, while others involve hills and mountains.  Whether or not you will have a soul mate like relationship with someone you love?  You can read about both, how to find that, how to know if thats something you have, as well as how to go about creating such a connection, in this article.

And, one more, with the 9 ways to know if its a soulmate relationship.

Back to the overall premise though, of the power behind such, as well as the foundation of first loves, as well as the equally (and often times, even more so) world tilting power of the loves to come.  As long as one is bravely and honestly listening to their own heart (and not holding back or ignoring what their heart is saying out of fear, laziness, or comfort-which a lot of people do, resulting in staying stuck in relationships which no longer fit or are not longer good for us), then you are exactly where you are supposed to be

For a smaller subset of people, that may be with an enduring first love.  For the vast majority, it will not be.  It will be with someone different, who is hopefully a better fit whom they have chosen out of previous experiences lessons learned.  Both are OK, and completely awesome. 

For the vast majority of people, there will be a handful of powerful loves in their life.  For some it may be two, for others it will be three, for some it may be four or five.  For a smaller subset of others, it might be a couple more than that. 

The key though is in listening to your heart, not ignoring what its telling you along the way.  Even at times when it may be hard, when it may involve letting go, even when it may be deeply painful.  As long as you are listening to and following your heart with authenticity and truth, then you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and with the very person with whom you are supposed to be. 

This includes a compilation of those first loves, each of whom paved the way in the beginning, followed by the path of your relational life and experiences since, all of this having led to whom you are with now.   Each poignant love in your life having the power to shift, alter, and tilt your world as you know it.  As long as your heart is open to such, your chose the people you love carefully, with eyes wide open, and you enter loving bravely, fully, with your whole heart and soul.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Are You Living Your Life with the End Result in Mind?

Hi all you Rad Readers,

Want to change your life, in both big ways and minute ones, day to day as well as over the big picture??  A rather resonating and powerful way to live your life daily, even moment to moment, is to keep this line of thinking ever at the forefront of your mind...

Live your life with the end result in mind.

How do you want to be remembered by the people who are very special to you?  What do you want to have experienced, done, seen, learned, said, when your time here on Earth comes to a close?  Who do you want to be while you are here in the world?  What do you want to have spent the bulk of your life focusing on?  Cultivating?  Growing?  Building?  Doing?  Saying?

These are questions that most of us ponder for a few moments every once in a while, and then promptly forget about.  Allowing them to be buried under a sea of other "to dos" in every day life, most of which probably aren't especially important at all in the big picture.

Too many of us, in fact I would venture most (including myself), tend to get caught in the mostly mindless autopilot of daily routine.  What do we need to do on this or that day, what to make for dinner, or where to grab lunch.  Why our idiot of a co-worker just did or said that.  How tired we are.  That we need to call this friend back and will soon.  Yes, a couple of these are important.  Key phrase in there being "a couple."  Most though are just mundane distraction, not at all important in the big painting of our lives, and tend towards serving at taking our attention away from the big, awesome, opportunity laden, wide sweeping picture of all that is life.

Then suddenly, we look up and its a year, five years, or even ten years later.  And still, our lives consist of routinized, generally monotonous, comfortable pictures.  The same relationships for years and years, whether each of those (romantic, platonic, even familial) are actually good, healthy fits for us any longer of not.  Likely the same job, whether it alights ones heart or not.  Probably hanging out with most of the same people, and in many of the same places again and again in ones free time.

While this is a comfortable way to live...its far from living up to our fullest and most awesome potential.  Far from living a life of all that is possible, of all that can and even should be.  Its far from reveling in the short time that each of us has here, alive in this world, with all of the awe, whimsy, joy, and romance that we could.  Its far from living life with the end result in mind.

And when we forget or fail to do this, our lives tend to become void of so much of the beauty, thrill, sense of personal purpose, as well as personal fulfillment, of which they could be filled with.

When you operate and think, daily, with the end result of your life in mind, it can help cut through the clutter of your heart, thoughts, and jumbled "to do" list, to what really matters.  Asking yourself, day to day, even moment to moment, "the end will come.  In fact, its coming closer with each passing day.  What do I really want to do?  Who do I really love, and do I show them this often via my words and actions?  What do I want to experience and see?  What makes my heart truly sing?  How do I want to be remembered by the core people I cherish and adore?

Living with such a mindset at the forefront of your mind can also majorly impact your day to day choices, as well as major life decisions.  When you consider that time is ticking, life is short, that you only have so much time left on this Earth and then guess what?  Its all going black, baby.  This can help you get serious and crystal clear, real fast, with regards to what you want to be doing, with whom you want to be doing it with, on what you choose to focus, etc.

Instead though, when we forget this crucial mindset and let it fall to the wayside, this tends to result in growing complacent.  Letting each day slide, unmemorable, into the next.  Life becoming a blur of days that look much the same.  And while there is nothing inherently wrong with or bad about this, its a major case of settling for all that one could actually do and experience, if they lived with far more bravery, intent, direction, and mindfulness.  This can also absolutely result (and often does) in ever-yearned-for-yet-never-met dreams, goals, and life longings. 

When we forget to live our lives with the end result in mind, we forget to live.  

Want to change your life drastically?  Decide to live with this knowledge at the forefront, front row, center stage, of your mind every single day, and throughout each day. 

You are likely to find yourself as a result, changing much of your behaviors and responses to other aspects of life.  For instance, some imagined examples might be things like:

---Someone on the bus or train home annoys you.  Normally, this would piss you off.  Instead, take out your book and revel in the time home to enjoy another chapter, or instead, to read an article online you've been dying to read.

---Debating to stay at the gym 20 minutes longer or catch the next bus home instead to see whomever wonderful person is waiting for you?  When imagining the end result of life in mind, does that extra 20 minutes at the gym really make a difference?  Or, having the extra time with someone you love.  Occasionally, the gym may win out, if you haven't exercised in ages and really need/want to.  But in general...the person should.

---A dilemma: stay late at work for the 4th night in a row-feeling as though you "should" even though you don't want to, nor is it an emergency, or, go home to your partner whom you really long to spend time with, and whom you love deeply.  Living with the mindset of the end result in mind?  I imagine most would choose the latter.  However, just living with the routine of day to day and with the mindset of "Ill just get to it tomorrow, Ill do it another day," one might stay work late again and vow to "spend time with their partner sometime soon," assuming their partner will always be there as they are together and that is that.  Dangerous thinking when it becomes regular thinking.  This is how we take people majorly for granted.

---Scared to go for your dream?  Whether quitting your job and traveling the world for a year, publishing a controversial piece of art (a book, an article, showcasing a painting, a poem, etc), opening your own business, or having a child?  The list of potential life dreams going on and on. 

Scared that it "wont work out"?  That everything will go wrong and you will be left in a trash heap of regret.  Guess what.  All of life is an experiment.  All of it.  And we cannot possibly know for sure how anything will go until we do it.  Thus, the more experiments you make, the better.  At worst, it doesn't go awesome and as a result, you learn and grow in some way.  All the better for it.   At its best, the "experiment" changes and completely pivots your whole direction and life in some poignant, awesome way(s).
However, from what I have both witnessed and has a funny way of tending to work out when you are 1. a kind and good person and 2. bravely, despite the fear, move in the direction of your wildest dreams.

---Feeling stuck in a job, or longstanding relationship, or any other life situation, in which you feel comfortable and safe but not especially satisfied or truly happy?  Knowing in the back of your mind that really, it isn't the right thing for you any longer.  That actually, it drains your joy, weighs on your soul, and that you could be far happier and healthier in another situation?  But too scared of the unknown, too scared to pull the trigger?  Comfortable in the safety and security of the known?

When you live life with the end result in mind...ask yourself, is this situation/relationship/place of being really in how I want to spend the rest of my fleeting time here on Earth?  If this is all there is for the rest of my life, is that truly good enough?  Don't I want to dare to be happier, to grow further, to experience more?  To seek beyond?  To pursue joy, growth, and health?  Ask yourself, "What is it I deeply wish to do with my one wild and precious life?"  If what you're doing isn't it?  Change it.  Now.

No one said it would be easy.  No one said it wouldn't be scary.  I can tell you personally, I've been absolutely terrified prior to doing most of the biggest things that have ended up changing my life in monumental ways.  (To name a few: moving to a foreign country where I knew no one, didn't speak the language, had no job.  Leaving someone I had been with romantically for nearly 10 years-despite loving him, knowing we were not a good fit, and finally having the guts to let him go.  Standing up for myself and drawing a line in the sand with regards to certain heart wrenching, horrible past family situations.  Letting go of a couple friends over the years and even a couple of family members who were no good for me, bringing much more pain and harm than good into my life.  ALL of these scenarios absolutely terrified me, were some of the hardest things I have ever made myself do, and yet all of them have led to life riches I could not have imagined, personal growth, and magic later on down the road, as an indirect (or sometimes, direct) result of my having made those really tough decisions and leaps).

---Afraid to tell someone just how special they are to you, just how much you love them?  Well, don't forget, live your life with the end result in mind.  Do you want to regret all the things you didn't say?  Wishing you had told them when you had the chance?  Far more often, people regret things they didn't say and things they didn't do, as opposed to regretting things they did or said.  Dare to be vulnerable.  Dare to speak words of love and affection.  You will warm hearts and change lives in ways you will not be aware of, as well as feel fulfilled and satisfied with yourself for having said what you wanted to.

---Sick of sitting in an office, day after day?  Tired of waking up, doing the same thing (for the most part) every day, eating the same things week to week, seeing the same people, living in the same place for years and years, with little to no variation?  Wondering, isn't there so much else out there?  Feeling semi unfulfilled and hungering for more?
Living your life with the end result in mind will lead you more directly towards this answer.  (Hint: yes, there absolutely is).

You can live a life of magic, romance, wonder, and awe. 

You can experience, do, and feel wondrous, awesome things. 

You can have emotionally deep, beautiful, heart rending connections with a handful of amazing people whom you choose to cultivate and build so with. 

You can have a job that fills you with purpose and passion. 

You can venture to jaw dropping locales and thrilling new places. 

You can publish that book, or draw people towards loving your photographs, your poetry, your pottery.  You can move people with your words and works. 

You can love, deeply, wholly, soul-fillingly, if you so choose to do so. 

You can host memorable, emotional, fantastic celebrations with people you love. 

You can live in other countries, other parts of the world.  And live out other miraculous chapters of your life in each different place.  

You can stand up for yourself to people who are shitty, harmful, hurtful, when you need to-though it will be hard (especially when they are people you love...and yes, sometimes they will be).  You can do this, and you will grow stronger, more self assured, happier and healthier for doing so.  Your relationships will improve as a result too.

You can choose carefully (and should do so) the people you let into your life and heart. 

You can sprint after the projects, passions, people, and pursuits, that set your heart on fire.

Are you living your life, every single day, considering carefully the end result??? 

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.  Don't take too long to decide though, it'll be too late. 

Decide now. 

And then run like hell towards those people, experiences, goals, values, projects, and paths.

As a fun wrap to this entry, I am showcasing several blogs of people whom I see living lives to the max.  Lives of adventure, passion, inspiration, and wonder.  To remind you that you absolutely can choose to do this too.  That's all you have to do: choose it. 

In the meantime, for your further inspiration and fun perusing...

Bridges and Balloons: a blog featuring a nomadic couple (and their newborn baby) as they adventure across the globe, in love and in whimsy, one country at a time every some months.  Awesome.

This Battered Suitcase: this blog is written by a witty, well read, brave, totally bad ass woman who has spent the last decade traveling the world solo and writing about it.  Teaching her readers about all the wide open wonder we can experience and chase after ourselves, if only we are brave enough.  She is such a fun writer to read, as well as majorly inspiring.

The Fearful Adventurer.  I LOVE this.  She travels the world, while admitting to being totally terrified of all it entails, using her blog to address such fears head on (hint: nearly all these fears are unrealized).  The perfect blog for those who have the adventure bug, who want to bravely venture and live big, but who let those pesky fears get in their way.

Wandering Earl.  This blog is all about a man, you guessed it, Earl, and his adventures traveling the world for the last few years.  Love this article in particular on how he debunks one needing loads of cash to live this kind of life.  Not at all.

And, check out this wow-worthy woman.  One of my dearest friends, Lindsay Emery.  We have been close since we were born, growing up living just 10 minutes from each other, going to the same schools, friends with many of the same people through our childhoods and teens, sleepovers every weekend at each others homes, and still are close to this day.  We spent hours together nearly every day of our lives, from when we were born through to our late teens when she moved away to Virginia.  Today, we consider ourselves akin to sisters.  
She started out with a shop on Etsy.  Now??  She has been featured in Southern Living, Better Homes and Garden, Food 52, and sells her pottery through Anthropologie.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Marriage or Nothing? Why is marriage the only "real" commitment in love?

Is marriage the only form of "true," legit commitment with regards to romantic love?  I imagine while many readers would say, of course not, it generally comes across that way via many of our cultural messages and actions.

For instance, with regards to a wedding, people tend to really put effort into making it to and attending this occasion in someones life with whom they are close (and even to weddings of a Bride and Groom who they may not be especially close with).  Yet, would people take the same pains to save the date for say, an anniversary party?  From what I have seen, the same weight is not given to celebrations related to love which are not weddings.  Occasions such as anniversary parties are hit or miss.  Deemed lovely, that people will "make if they can," but of lesser value than a wedding by far.  Weddings being touted as the pinnacle celebration of life (aside from graduation and baby showers.  Seems like a pretty narrow window of opportunity for celebration, and recognition of awe worthy moments to me).

Aside from husband and wife, why are couples without such a label seen as less committed, less legit, less "official"?

Surely, there must be something between "girlfriend/boyfriend" and "wife/husband."  Some sort of graduation or other term that indicates something deep and with the intent of long term commitment/a building of sorts between the couple, which feels of more weight than the terms "girlfriend/boyfriend" tend to feel?  Though which doesn't necessarily have to be husband or wife.  The terms "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" don't tend to accurately describe many long term, committed, but unwedding relationships.

Personally, when giving them signifigant thought, I feel uncomfortable with those terms.  For a few reasons: many girlfirends and boyfriens are not girls nor boys, but are grown women and men.  Apart from feeling age inappropriate, the terms can just feel insufficient for describing the depth of bond, history, and intent of some relationships.  The term "partner" can certainly more accurately convey the depth of some relationships, moreso than say "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" may, however, this can also be a loaded term.

As a society, the words we use and the way we use them end up setting the expectations we have for peoples behavior.  Also, our language affects our interactions with others.  The way people talk about things does communicate what is "accepted" if you will, and thus, this lack of terminology to describe people who are more than "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" but who do not wish to marry, well, it almost seems to add a bit of silent pressure to the institution of marriage in order to give the unconscious feeling that then its easier to talk about, as well as making your relationship more "real" by evidence of having the clear language and labels to then describe and thus, legitimize it.

Why is a wedding considered the only legit, celebration-worthy occasion for couples that carries any real weight?  Why is it deemed the most important celebration of love?  Because our culture has touted it, and hard, as being so.  Marriage is the end goal, be all end all, the win, the ultimate achievement and wrap chapter of life.  Yeesh.

The only legit symbol of commitment and love?  I think not.

Dont get me wrong, the idea of marriage in its most basic sense, I am a huge fan of.  Two people, loving each other so deeply that they want to commit their lives to growing with and alongside of one another.  This is wildly romantic, beautiful, worthwhile, and an awesome goal to be sure.  I both support and believe in it wholeheartedly.

What I dont agree with or think is alright, is marriage being made out to be the only legit, real, and recognized celebration/occasion/form of commitment with regards to love that is authentic or ideal.  It seems to be getting married, or nada.  Marriage, or its "not a real commitment yet."

We need to have a more diverse range, excitement for, and openness to way more types of celebrations of love and commitment.  Both, because a wedding isnt the golden standard, the "only right" way, the be all end all, top tier level of commitment of any relationship, simply by means of having that piece of paper.  It is absolutely not the only means by which two people are deeply commited to and in love with one another. 

As well as, on a general, broader life scale, I think we need more to both seek and create far more opportunity, excited anticipation for, and investment in way more types of celebrations because life is full of routine, mundane, forgettable moments throughout much of our days and weeks.  What do we remember most about our lives?  Moments.  Emotional ones.  The ones that stood out and moved us deeply.  We need to find worth in creating many, many more of these.

Therefore, why not look for as many opportunities as possible to inject wonder, joy, celebration, and awe into our lives?  To me, this includes a widening of how we celebrate love and commitment, as well as in celebrating birthdays, retirement, the start of a new job, achievements in a persons life, promotions, graduations, milestone birthdays, goals being met in our lives- both big and small, winning an award, there are SO many opportunities for celebrations and elation if we merely look and then decide to make them such.

Back to marriage being the be all, end all in terms of celebrations of love though.  We need to make valid, legit, and equally special, ALL celebrations of love.  Not just this singular legal one.

Lets not forget either, plenty of people who marry are either: not well matched, majorly settling, only somewhat happy, and/or in not the greatest relationships.  Half of all marriages (and relationships) will end.  And thats not counting those who remain together but are either not so happy (and staying out of laziness, fear, comfort, dependency) or those who stay but have affairs and aren't engaged in the relationship anyway. 

Marriage?  It is not automatic evidence of happiness, deep genuine love, respect, or a good match.  Not at all.  It certainly can be though just as much of the time, it isn't.

As a quite sideline though very much related note...

"The truth is that there is no such thing as "love."  Love is an abstraction, perhaps akin to a goddess one worships or an alien being, since no one has ever seen either of these.  In reality, there exists only the act of loving.  To love is a productive activity.  It implies caring for, knowing, responding, affirming, enjoying: the person, the tree, the book, the paining, the idea.  It means bringing to life, increasing his/her/its aliveness.  It is a process, self renewing, and self increasing.

What people call love is mostly a misuse of the word, in order to hide the reality of their not loving.  How many parents truly love their children, for instance, is still an entirely open question.  With numerous and continual reports of cruelty, abuse, carelessness, neglect, and even on a smaller scale, manipulation and control.  Loving parents seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

The same may be said of marriages.  Whether a couples marriage is based on love or, like traditional marriages of the past, on social convenience and custom, the couple who truly love each other seem to be the exception.  What is social convenience, custom, mutual economic interest, shared interest in children, mutual dependency, or mutual hate, or fear are consciously experienced as "love" (though none of these actually are)- up to the moment when one or both partners recognize that they do not actually love each other, and that maybe they never even did.

Today there is some progress in this respect.  People have become more realistic and sober, and many no longer feel that being sexually attracted means to love, or that a friendly, though distant, team-like relationship is a manifestation of loving.  This new outlook has made for greater honesty- as well as more frequent change of partners.  However, it has not necessarily led to a greater frequency of loving, and the new partners may still love as little as did the old.  Still though, some minor progress has been made.

The change from "falling in love" to the illusion of "having" love can often be observed in concrete detail in the history of couples who have "fallen in love."  The word "falling" in the phrase "falling in love" though, is a contradiction in itself, as loving is a productive activity, one can only stand in love, or walk in love.  One cannot fall in love, for falling denotes passivity.

During courtship neither person is yet sure of the other, but each tries to win the other.  Both are alive, attractive, interesting, even beautiful- insomuch as aliveness makes a face beautiful.  Neither yet has the other, hence each ones energy is directed to being (ex: to giving to and stimulating the other).  With the act of marriage, the situation frequently changes fundamentally though.  The marriage contract gives each partner the exclusive possession of the others body, feelings, and care.  Nobody has to be won over any more, because love has become something one has, a property.  The two cease to make the effort to be loveable and to produce love, hence, they become boring.  And hence, their beauty in the eyes of one another can disappear.  Each are disappointed and puzzled.  Are they not the same persons any more?  Did they make a mistake in the first place?  Each usually seeks the cause of the change in the other and feels defrauded.  

What they do not see is that they no longer are the same people they were when they were in love with each other, that their error in thinking that one can "have" love has led them to cease loving.  Now, instead of loving each other, they settle for owning together what they have- money, social standing, a home, children.  Thus, in some cases, the marriage initiated on the basis of love becomes transformed into a friendly ownership, a corporation in which the two egotisms are pooled into one.  That of a "family."

When a couple cannot get over the yearning for the renewal of the previous feeling of loving, one or the other of the pair may have the illusion that a new partner (or partners) will satisfy their longing.  They feel that all they want to have is love.  But love to them is not an expression of their being, it is a goddess to whom they want to submit.  Thus, they necessarily and likely continually fail with their love.

This description is not intended to imply that marriage cannot be the best solution for two people who love each other.  The difficulty does not lie in marriageIt lies in the possessive, existential structure of both partners and, in the last analysis, of their society

Side note: Advocates of modern-day forms of living together such as group marriage, changing partners, group sex, etc, try as far as I can see, only to avoid the problem of their difficulties in loving by curing boredom with ever new stimuli and by wanting to have more "lovers" rather than to be able to love even one.

That was an excerpt from the book "To Have or To Be?' by Erich Fromm.  He is more known for his book, "The Art of Loving," one of the top selling books of all time on love/psychology, and one of the best books I have ever read on the topic.  It changed my entire outlook on love in more than one way.  I thought the above passage was an applicable musing with regards to how we view love as a culture, as well as a support to my argument that essentially, both how we view love as well as how we choose to celebrate it is often narrow, skewed, and even inaccurate.

Finally, the problem with making marriage out to be the only legit celebration of love, as well as the most "important" is that this is a narrow, exclusive, dismissive way of viewing and acknowledging all loving relationships.  Its robbing those relationships who choose not to marry of their own poignancy, power, respect and right to recognition as being equally important and awesome.

Length of relationship does not equal depth of feeling.  Not even close.  Nor does length of relationship mean that two people "have it figured out," or are necessarily good or happy together.

Piece of paper does not equal greater commitment than without it.  Again, not even close.

Legally bound does not equal happier, better matched, or more committed than those who are not legally bound.

So.  What can we do about this narrow minded way of acknowledging, viewing, and celebration commitment and love? 

For starters, when people invite you to anniversary parties, or their own celebrations of love, or any celebrations really, give these equal weight and importance in your heart and life (assuming you love and care about this person inviting you) just as much you would for something like a wedding.  Because they are in fact just as important, and just as special. 

Equally, widen your view of legit, authentic, celebration worthy commemorations of love to being not just marriage.  Remember, plenty of people who marry end up miserable, or are bad matches from the start.  Marriage is not synonymous with deeper love and commitment than those who aren't married.  Far from it.  Of course, there are many happy, well matched, wonderful marriages out there.  Just like there are many fantastic long term partnerships that never marry, though which are equally as in love and committed as their happy and well matched marital counterparts.  There are also boatloads of people, both married and not, who are mismatched, unhappy, and in unhealthy pairings.

And finally, for those who maybe aren't so into marriage but still love the idea of celebrating their own love (and wish for it to be given the same weight, respect, and excitement that would be given to say, a wedding), consider other means of celebrating and recognizing your love.  And then do so!  Do not be deterred by societies lame, narrow perception of what makes for celebration worthy moments in life.  There is SO much more we can find reason to and then take action to celebrate.  Everyone loves a celebration, so be brave and go for it.  Take the time and effort to make your own life magical, whimsical, and memorable in any ways your heart longs for.

Some different ideas for ways of celebrating your love and commitment, other than via marriage or a wedding:

--Promise rings.  Or, commitment rings.

--An anniversary dinner party.

--A commitment ceremony, where you might say certain vows and promises but without the legal aspect.

--An annual date between you and your partner for sitting down and creating a context or intent for your relationship in the coming year.

--Throwing a love party with your closest friends who are also couples.  Invite each couple to come and celebrate the things they have learned along the path of their relationship, with the other invitees.  Maybe a challenge they surmounted and how they did so.  Insights they learned and wish to pass along to the other couples.

--Or, along with the above theme, have a "love party" that celebrates the love and commitment of you and your partner, essentially a wedding but without the legal aspect.
(Just because it "isn't usually done" at the moment, so what?  Break the mold.  Be the reason it becomes a thing.  Make it a thing.  People more often than not love any reason to celebrate, especially when it involves people they care about).

--Buy/reserve side by side grave plots.  That's pretty dang committed, wedding ring or not.

--Get some kind of symbolic tattoos that are meaningful to both of you, which signify your love, commitment and connection to one another.

--Consider some kind of joint ownership of something together, maybe its a home, pets, or some other type of investment in something that is both of yours.

--Off the one above, adopt a pet together.  This is a step down from having children (which maybe you don't want, or maybe you do at some point but not quite yet).

--Have long term goals on which you are working together, whether it be a home renovation, the publishing of some type of work together, opening your own business, maybe embarking on traveling around the world for a year with each other.  Something big, and long term.

--Make him or her the executive of your will.  This means they will be responsible for many of the very important things in your life, including how to handle medical decisions for you if you are in a coma, or how to divide up your assets should something happen to you.  Its a way of saying, "I trust you fully in having my best interests at heart and conveying those for me, if I were not able to do so myself."

--Change your name anyway.  You don't have to marry to change your last name.  If you want to share the same family name with your love, you can do so anytime.  You could hyphenate, make a hybrid of both your last names, or one of you change your last name entirely to the others.

--Have a conversation about it.  Sometimes just having a conversation about how much you mean to one another can take your commitment to another level.  You can express to one another how valuable this relationship is to each of you, and what you would be willing to do to keep it alive.  As well as discuss prospective plans and things you aspire to achieve and build together.

Change the word "marriage" to "commitment."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Are you a Mature, Emotionally Healthy Adult? Hint...not as many of us are as we think.

Hi all,

In the last few months, Ive read several excellent non-fiction books.  All with poignant life lessons and insights within, offering life changing potential if one chooses to consider, take in, and fully absorb their messages.

One of the books in particular, "Changes that Heal" by Dr. Henry Cloud, I found especially excellent.  He wrote another one "Necessary Endings" which I liked better, found much more applicable to life in general, with absolutely excellent messages and insights within.  Though "Changes that Heal" offered one section in particular that resonated with me deeply.  The section is titled: "When We Fail To Grown Up."  Aka, what happens when people fail to grow into (emotionally) fully mature adults.

We often tend to think that once someone physically looks the part of adult, that this is it.  They are now an adult.  Boom, done.

Not so.  Not even close.  Consider all the adults you know personally (there are probably at least a few...and for some of you, there may even be many) who might be emotionally chaotic, who have all sorts of major character flaws (not minor and usual ones, which we all have.  Instead, I am talking about traits7behaviors that majorly impact ones life negatively), "adults" who cannot seem to get their lives together, maybe who have frequently turbulent relationships, etc.

We all know people like this, and usually they are "adults."  Meaning, they look like adults on the outside but in the article following below, you will learn that actually, they are still children emotionally.

These are people who have failed to grow up.  Who, while they may embody the physical appearance and age of an adult, are not truly adults in their minds and emotions.  And it shows, in the lives they lead.

In the article follow, I will be listing several traits of "adults" who are actually children in a grown up persons body.

Whats helpful about this list and article is that:

1.  It can help you identify those around you who are still essentially children, both mentally and emotionally (even though they may appear to physically be an adult).  And thus, this can help in your dealing with and understanding them better (whether a colleague, family member, or other).


2. If you have one, a few, or even several of these traits yourself, the only way one can grow and change is through recognition and self awareness.  Therefore, seeing and admitting such within yourself, and then attempting to actively change your thinking and behavior towards growing up and taking back your sense of adulthood, personal strength, own authority of yourself and your life, and personal responsibility.  This can change your life radically for the better.

With that said, here is what I read in "Changes that Heal" are what happens (and how it negatively impacts our lives) when we fail to grow up:

--Inordinate Need for Approval.  People who struggle to grow up emotionally often cannot function well independently of the opinion of others (this can be from their parents, romantic partner, friends, or even people they aren't especially close with).  They strive constantly to gain the approval of others.  This kind of approval is different from the wish to do well and be recognized for such. That is generally a normal wish and desire.  This is instead, a hungering for and hinging on the need for approval from others.  And difficulty behaving in ways that involve striking out on ones own and even at times, having to disappoint people.

--Fear of Disapproval.  This goes along with a need for approval.  Often, people who have failed to fully grow up emotionally feel quite anxious when an authority figure is around.  Their anxiety then tends to interfere with their ability to do a job well.  Every time their work is evaluated, their fear is activated.

--Guilt.  This is a component of the loss of parental approval.  Part of growing up means separating from your parents, and this will at times mean disappointing them.  This is ok, normal, and part of forging your own path.  If one is living as an adult, to the beat of their own drum, its only natural and inevitable that you will at times, disappoint others when you dont act in accordance with their opinions or wishes (including your parents).  This is part of having the courage to live your own life, which is integral to both your happiness as well as growing up.  People who still harbor guilt over this type of thing continue to feel "under" the parental voice.

--Sexual Difficulty.  People who feel one-down to authority more often than not have sexual difficulty.  Why?  They have not gone through the adolescent passage of disagreeing with their parents and therefore, overcoming guilt and repression.  Sexuality is still a "no no" to them because psychologically, they are still children who "shouldn't think about things like that."

--Need for Permission.  Many struggle with an inordinate need for permission.  Often struggling with feeling as though they need clearance from someone before proceeding with decisions in their lives. They often ask, "may I say something?"  In the middle of a conversation, when its unnecessary to ask for permission to speak.  They hesitate to test the limits of any system or organization, always giving restrictions and rules.  They haven't thrown off their parents restrictions and found their own.

--"You cant do that" Syndrome.  Authority bound people tend to stifle creativity.  Someone may come up with a new way of doing something and an authority bound person will react, "you cant do that," or, "it'll never work."  They appear to have prison bars around anything creative or new.  This is because they overidentify with their limiting and putative parent- ever giving restrictions, rules, and attempted control.  They haven't thrown off their parents restrictions and found their own.

--Feelings of inferiority.  Often, people with this issue have parents who have not treated them with respect in their own right as people.  So invariably, they look up to others and feel "below" them.  They tend to think that someone else is always better then them in some way.  They rarely to never feel equal.

--Competitiveness.  People who have never established equality with one or both parents tend to act out unresolved competitive issues, often with people of the same sex.  They cannot stand for anyone to "win" over them, because it puts them in a "one down" position.  Instead of saying or thinking, "I lost the game," they feel "I am an inferior person."

--Loss of Power.  Those who haven't become an adult either repeatedly give away their power in relationships, or, feel that they are losing power.  These people especially have trouble with controlling, domineering people, routinely deferring to them in what they perceive to be a lack of power or right from their own end.

--No Equal Differences.  People who live in a one-up, one-down world rarely consider differences acceptable.  If someone believes or thinks something different, that person is "wrong."  There is no such thing as a difference of opinion, or agreeing to disagree.

--Black and White Thinking.  People who can only see the world in this way, black or white, right or wrong, are stuck in their pre-adult way of thinking.  They are thinking like an eleven year old.  They are unable to think in terms of gray.  There are no tough moral dilemmas.  Everything is simple.  "If the rule says it, I do it."

--JudgementalismJudgemental people fuse with the parental, legal position and look down on others.  These people deny the badness within themselves (as there is bad and negative in all of us) and instead act like they are perfect and "above" others.

--Anxiety Attacks.  Anxious people fear disapproval, both internally and externally.  Generalized anxiety signals something dangerous about to emerge in a persons consciousness.  People who suffer anxiety attacks fear this.

--Impulsiveness and Inhibition.  Both come from authority problems.  On the one hand, some people are so angry at authority that they deny any rules or standards and live lawlessly.  These people are often impulsive and do as they wish.  These out-of-control adolescents have done away with authority.  On the other hand, legalists are so bound up with guilt, they aren't even aware of their own impulses.  They are often very shy and inhibited.  Their friends often say, "let your hair down sometime, relax."

--Parenting others.  Some people who have never grown up think they know what others "should" do.  They are unable to realize their own limited knowledge of a persons situation, as well as the persons responsibility or ability to deal with his or her own problems.

(Important side note here: I am going to slightly disagree with the concept of "parenting others" being automatic evidence of oneself not having grown up yet emotionally.  Yes, if you are talking to others in the self righteous way of "I know best and you dont" and if this is a way you frequently talk to/think towards others, then yes, this is a problem.  Its condescension of the highest order, as well as arrogance and misplaced self righteousness, assuming that you often/usually know other peoples situations and lives better than they do.  However.  There are many exceptions to this.

Sometimes, we do see a situation more clearly with regards to someone we love, than maybe they do.  For instance, numerous studies have shown that the few nearest and dearest of someone (say, their best friends and maybe a couple family members to whom they are quite close) tend to be able to judge this persons romantic relationship better than the person in the relationship can!  This is a case in which yes, others sometimes do know better.  They can see it more clearly because they are once removed, they aren't the ones emotionally involved.  There are of course, caveats to this.  This is assuming that these said loved ones are reasonable, realistic, emotionally mature, clear thinking themselves, and well meaning towards their loved one.  Then yes, we might rightly assume they have a more realistic view of the relationship then the person they love who is in it may have.

Another example, if someone is using drugs, gambling, having an affair, or getting into some other dicey stuff, potentially going down a very bad path and their loved ones see clearly the disaster this person is moving towards, yet the person involved cannot see it clearly, is in denial and blinded...another example in which others very well may know better than this person does

There can and will be times when someone you love and to whom you are close, you see them behaving in ways that are either hurting themselves, or others.  This is an important theme in the international bestselling psychology/love/self help book called "The Road Less Traveled" by Scott Peck.  HIGHLY recommend it, by the way.  This book changed a lot of the ways I think about what it means to love.  Anyway, the book talks about this theme.  How when you truly love someone, it is your duty to "risk the relationship" if you will, to tell them when/if/where you see them hurting either themselves or others, by a way of thinking or behaving.  Being too afraid to speak up and tell the person you love this?  That isn't love or respect, its cowardice.  Love means that when you love someone, you want them to live their best life.  You don't want to see them in pain, or watch them hurt themselves or others, so you have a duty really when and if yo use this occurring in someone you love, to speak up.  Even if it may mean pissing them off in the moment.  Your hope and desire is for the long term picture which you hope will actualize.  Your hope in helping them see the light, where right now they may not.

Therefore, there absolutely will be times throughout your life, when either you love someone and do happen to "know better" than them at that moment, seeing clearly that maybe they are venturing down a bad path or are causing hurt to others, or are feeling hurt themselves.  Or, there will also be times when people who love you will point these things out to you.  When they see you making choices that they can see clearly are not likely to be in your best interest, that may hurt you or someone else

This though, is not one in the same as "parenting" others.  Instead, its caring honesty where you see it might be needed in someone you love.  This is one in the same with truly loving relationships that are emotionally close- honesty, even when it may be hard to hear.  Therefore, these are two different things.  "Parenting" others, as opposed to offering potential honesty, support, or potential guidance to someone you love and see might be struggling or might not be seeing clearly).

--Superiority.  The opposite of inferiority, some people always find a way to see themselves as better than everyone else.  It can look like narcissism or idealism, but really it is one-upmanship.

--Depression.  This stems from a "bad me" self critical attitude.  People who are criticized by their internal parent feel bad or guilty, which leads to depression.

--Dependency.  Some people actively avoid taking responsibility for themselves and find someone to parent them.  For example, it is not unusual for people to marry out of dependency and then resent their partner for "treating them like children."  They tend to give executive power of their life to others.

--Idealism of Authority.  The perception that someone in authority knows best or is perfect pre-supposes a one-down position, because people who have identified with the authority (and are mature adults themselves) know that the authority is a person just like them, warts and all.

Here are several distorted ways of thinking that tend of show up frequently in the minds of people who have not yet become adults emotionally:

-I am less than others.
-I am bad if they dont approve of me.
-I must please others to be liked.
-I am bad if a disagree.
-My opinions are not as good.
-I must get permission from others.
-I am bad if I fail.
-I shouldn't feel so sexual.
-Sexual feelings are bad.
-My plans will never succeed.
-If I differ, I am wrong.
-I am better than they are.
-My group is the right group.
-Our belief system or ministry is the only real one.
-I know what's best for them.
-I know better than them.
-They never fail like I do.
-They are never this afraid, or mad, or sad, or stressed, or...
-They will like me better if I am compliant.
-They will hate me for standing up to them.

In order to live a life that is your best one possible, this entails the necessary passage of both growing up physically, as well as emotionally.  All of us grow into and become adults physically.  Many of us do not grow into adults emotionally, instead remaining stuck or stagnant as children mentally.  And the majority of people stuck as children emotionally dont even know it.  Becoming aware of certain behaviors or ways of thinking in yourself which are still emotionally immature is the only way to changing it and thus, the only path toward fully maturing emotionally into an adult.  This is the route and solution towards living your strongest, happiest, most fulfilling life.

In my next article, Part Two, I will detail the skills needed for (and essentially how to) for becoming an adult emotionally.

One of the emotional traits and characteristics/ways of thinking of people who are adults emotionally is the quote above.  They dont mind being disliked by some, for sticking to their boundaries and being authentic to who they are.  In fact, they know its an inevitability of living an authentic life.  

See the book, "The Courage to be Disliked" based on an ancient Japanese phenomenon which shows you how to change your life and achieve real happiness (hint: cliff notes version...having the courage and acceptance to be disliked, knowing that being liked by all is impossible, as well as a very unfree and stressful way to live in attempting to ensure that all people like you a reality.  That doesnt mean you should just be shitty and throw caution to the wind with attempting to be a good person.  It does mean being your best person and the best version of yourself that you can be, while simultaneously accepting that even as you do so, still there will be people who will not like you, as well as people who will disapprove of your choices as times- such as your parents or others to whom you are close, and that is ok).

Much of the insights above were taken from this book (I highly recommend reading the whole thing.  Its chock full of life changing insights, lessons, and ideas):