Archives for posts with tag: what is love?

Mornings like this one are nearly as challenging for me as difficult ones; it’s ‘too good’. That sounds silly put that way, and I’m smiling. Tired, too. My traveling partner and I enjoyed a Friday night that still finds me dizzyingly in love, stars in my eyes, a song in my heart, and a lifetime of romance on my mind. I slept well and deeply, although it was past midnight before I slept, and before 7:00 am when I woke. It is a slow and leisurely morning, and I haven’t decided quite what to do with myself… Later I will spend time hanging out with a friend, maybe do something around the house… or nap. I could nap. lol. Stars in my eyes… but I could use more sleep.

My coffee is good, and I am enjoying it with a morning of listening to a favorite musician play beautiful grooves.  Most mornings are every bit this pleasant these days. I think about the musical we watched last night, and how slyly lessons on perspective and how we craft our personal narrative were worked into the humorous jabs at religion. I go about my morning humming catchy bits of the tunes that are still stuck in my head, and blushing and smiling about the delightful romantic evening shared, extraordinary…connected.

Love.

Love.

Another morning or another time will be soon enough for more words. This morning, I am simply enjoying my experience, and savoring the sensation of loving and being loved. It’s enough for this moment. (Enough for most moments.)

It’s true. I’m sipping my morning coffee, half-wondering if I need to adjust my process, or choose different beans…and gently discouraging myself from eagerly planning to move. I consider the move, I’ve organized my thoughts on it, and made some decisions about how it can best be handled – all in the abstract, aside from some exterior photos of the new unit, and a carefully examination of the floor plan. What I haven’t done is get a lot of boxes, and start filling those with books, small items, etc – I could be pre-packing, and I’m not. Not yet.

I’ve no doubt that I will make this move… except for just one small but important detail; price. The unit will be repriced after the remodel is entirely completed. If I can’t afford the price, I won’t be moving – at least not as soon. I’ve come so far with my traveling partner’s guidance, support, and skilled coaching, I will likely be buying a little place of my own within the next two years regardless; the comfortable near-certainty and lack of insecurity about the possibility feels very good. Stable. I have choices and, since choices to be made in the future are not ideally acted upon today, I chill and smile about the possible new apartment without taking further action in this moment. I continue to sip my coffee and let the morning unfold around my thoughts.

52 is late in the game to be buying a first home…and this won’t be my first. It will be my first unencumbered by domestic violence though, which is pretty huge… and it’s going to be the first that I’ll be wise to consider with retirement specifically in mind – I’d like to retire before I am 65, and the home I buy may be the last home I buy, when the time comes.  I want a place that is mine – that I can redecorate or rebuild, as suits me. A home in which replacing the carpets or flooring is entirely up to me, and in which I can freely replace all the light fixtures with whatever I choose without asking anyone at all, would be very nice. Comfort doesn’t have to be expensive, neither does luxury, but too often I find that I can’t ‘get permission’ for small changes that would be so wonderful while living in a rental, or as a housemate. Besides all that, I earnestly want to be able to leave this world knowing, when the time comes, that the choices I have made in life benefit my loves after my departure! I would feel considerable joy knowing that my traveling partner, although grieving, would be grieving his loss from a secure home, his home – unconcerned about going without and able to focus on healing his heart. “Feeling homeless” or displaced is something both he and I have endured far too often in life, already.

Be love.

Be love.

That gets me thinking about feeling secure in life – and in love – and how often people allow anger to cause them to say things to each other that specifically and directly undercut the emotional security of those they claim they love most. “I hate you!” “Get out!” “Why don’t you just go?!” “I don’t want you here!” I hope I live the entire remainder of my life not ever saying something so horrible and distancing to someone I love. How brutally unkind, how lacking in any compassion, how… mean, simply and frankly mean, to say such things to a loved one. How do you justify it (if you have said or done such things)? Isn’t the better choice to make note of our own suffering, and take care of ourselves before we lash out with pure uncensored nastiness toward someone we’ve claimed we love? Seriously? When I see that kind of thing unfolding, I nearly always find myself also wondering “How is it anyone sees this as being ‘love’ at all?”

One great relationship best practice I follow these days is; I don’t threaten the emotional security of my loved ones by withholding affecting, or being mean, when I am angry. I make the effort to replace emotional attacks with authenticity, vulnerability, and listening deeply. Just that. Surely if I love the person I am angry with, the better choice (versus attacking them) is to take care of my own emotional needs (put my own oxygen mask on first) – which really doesn’t leave time for attacking people – and then reaching out to my hurting loved one, connecting, talking, and reaching a comfortable mutual understanding – ideally with all hurts soothed, and the wreckage tidied up with hugs, kisses, and real affection, and because we started with love, why would we end anywhere else? 🙂 There are, of course, verbs involved, and The Big 5 (Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, and Openness) make an important appearance, too.

Treating our loves truly well requires awareness, the choice moment to moment to do so, and practice.  It also requires the basic assumption that our loves mean us no harm, hold us in high esteem, want the best for us in life, and are most specifically and earnestly not “trying to start shit”*. That by itself is pretty huge; if you go around all the time assuming your loved ones have it in for you, aren’t playing fair, don’t look out for your needs, don’t have you in mind at all… well… I gotta wonder first why you think that person loves you if those things are true – and if they aren’t true (or you haven’t made any effort to verify your suspicions clear-headedly in a fact-based way in the first place)… um… wtf is your problem? How do you call those feelings love, yourself? What is it, exactly, that you think love offers you? It definitely took me a while to sort that one out for myself. 🙂

Love.

Love.

My thoughts wind around slowly to values and value statements, generally. I find myself chuckling about the ‘company values’ at work; some of them are two or three sentences and include contradictory statements. I generally find that a ‘value’ can be stated quite simply, and most commonly with a single word. If it takes a sentence – or more – to state a value, it tends to communicate [to me] that the value being expressed is not well understood by the individual making the statement. Sometimes value statements are deliberately unclear, in some cases because the value is being hidden rather than expressed directly. The nature of values – and value statements – became much more important to me when I began, rather late in life, to re-explore my own values explicitly. My ‘Big 5‘ developed out of those conversations with myself.

The power of mindfulness practices to spark honest self-reflection and support self-awareness, as well as awareness generally, has been an important source of personal growth, and necessary for developing a sustainable condition of day-to-day contentment and joy (without needing to aspire to be anything other than entirely human). I don’t really need to count down the days until I move – I will or I won’t, and in time I’ll know which, and that will be plenty soon enough to start a countdown. I don’t really need to count down the days since the last time I hung out with my traveling partner – I’ll see him again, soon enough, and each visit is a lifetime of its own to be cherished, savored, and enjoyed, no counting or score-keeping required. There is so much less sensation of rushing, being rushed, urgency or panic these days. It is enough to enjoy the journey as it is. 🙂

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

 

 

*It should go without saying that if you mean someone ill, willfully treat them poorly, want them to suffer, and are regularly actually trying to provoke them into anger, fear, jealously or sorrow, you really seriously honestly just do not get to say you “love” that person – because love doesn’t behave that way. I can at least hope anyone treated thusly will have or gain the wisdom to understand they are not being loved!

 

Have you ever taken a moment to consider ‘polite’ versus ‘rude’, courtesy, manners in general, and what ‘consideration’ means in a detailed and nuanced way? Have you similarly considered how relative to our individual culture, clan, tribe, family, community, ‘scene’, or region these things all are? It’s these subtleties – and mismatches in practices and expectations – that result in fairly predictable ‘incompatibility’ issues that occur in my own experience. I think about these a lot.

Surely, if we all wish to treat each other well, and we all go forward ‘doing our best’ to treat others well moment-to-moment, and we are all similarly aware that people around us also hold the intent to treat others well, and are doing their best…surely the outcome is that we all feel well-treated? (Are you giggling? Are you frowning? Do you see where I am going with this?) Even if those things are simple truths – that we each wish to treat each other well, and are all doing our best to do so moment-to-moment – we likely won’t see the outcome of ‘everyone feels well treated’; as defined, the premises do not lead directly to the proposed outcome, at all. Good treatment is relative to cultural practices, our own expectations, and how we experience our experience. The understanding that we have treated others well, is similarly biased – and biased in our own favor, generally, because we believe we have ‘done our best’ – whatever that may have been.

That’s a hell of a gap. How do I bridge the gap? How do I treat others – all others – well, with consideration, with courtesy – universally recognized, no fail, always a win, courtesy is what I’m looking for here – and get the result that each person thus treated by me also feels well-treated? I am pondering this because of a longer-term association I have in which I feel fairly chronically mis-treated in willful and overt ways, lacking in any shred of courtesy or consideration – a circumstance in which I am also quite certain that this associate has no understanding at all that the day-to-day interactions are experienced by me as ‘mis-treatment’ in the first place. In some cases, explicit statements by me indicating that some specific behavior/action/language is unacceptable or inappropriate have been disregarded, in others they have been actively dismissed and argued with, but in most instances it is not clear that the conduct is intended to be abusive, lacking in courtesy, or intentionally hostile.

Sometimes well-meaning people are clueless asshats… But… sadly… sometimes they are not actually well-meaning people, based on their practices, choices, and actions. Practicing good self-care means building healthy relationships; abusive or unhealthy relationships do not support my emotional needs.

Words have definitions, and we are each having our own experience. What I consider ‘courteous’, ‘respectful’, or ‘considerate’ may not be quite the same as what another person finds defining about those concepts. Still… I think there are some cross-cultural behaviors that spell out universal ‘good treatment’ – or, I do until I try really looking at practices in other cultures. It’s complicated. “They mean well” is a phrase that matters; the intention of someone’s behavior is what let’s us ‘let it go’ more easily when customs clash. “They mean well” is a band-aid, though, a temporary fix; we build relationships. Choices and compromises over time, clear expectation setting and boundary observing conversations adjust our shared understanding of ‘good treatment’, ‘consideration’ and ‘courtesy’ – but only if we have those conversations.

So…I sit here considering all manner of things to do with manners, and where I got which idea that what notion amounts to ‘polite’, ‘considerate’, ‘supportive’…and how can I best express to others who matter most to me what I want and need – and what counts with me as ‘considerate’, and whether that is reasonable. Eventually, if words are said, ideas are shared, boundaries expressed, terms defined… and I still feel mis-treated… then what? Learning those boundary setting practices, the firmly drawn line in the sand, the opportunity not to compromise and instead politely decline additional mistreatment are similarly guided by custom, ‘manners’, and expectations of consideration… How do I treat others well who do not treat me well? It’s an important question for me to approach, and I approach it with great care. (Let’s get “why would I want to treat such people well?” out of the way; because it matters to me to be someone who treats others well. It’s not about them, it is who I am.)

Sometimes I can see where the path leads, but the way is not easy.

Sometimes I can see where the path leads, but the way is not easy.

Today is a good day for hard questions. Today is a good day for the very best self-care. Today is a good day to skillfully treat others well. Today is a good day to continue to honor and respect my values, in the face of mistreatment, without anger; we are each having our own experience. Today is a good day to change the world.

Subtleties matter in language. There is a distinction to be made between one thing and another, and we use language to make that distinction clear to others. An example? ‘Point of view’ versus ‘angle of view’ – they mean different things, yes? Or…no? How about the difference between ‘being critical’ and ‘critical thinking’? That seems a pretty important distinction to make; those things are not the same at all, they just take advantage of language by sharing a word. Some differences are about how something feels within us, like ‘irritable’ versus ‘angry’; making that distinction helps us communicate our state of being more accurately to others. Some difference seem more a matter of precision about something outside ourselves, but I’m often unclear on the line between ‘within’ and ‘external’, not due to any particular madness of note, but simply because so few people communicate clearly in language sufficiently precise to account for those nuances – or are unclear themselves on the subtle differences between their internal experience (“this is uncomfortable for me” for example) and their external experience (“this is wrong or impermissible, and being imposed on me” for example).  I am learning to listen carefully, and to apply mindful awareness to opportunities to connect and enjoy people in the moment.

It gets complicated when I consider that the words I don’t say have nearly as much impact on other people as the words I do say.

It gets even more complicated when I consider that the tone with which I deliver those words changes their meaning to the person hearing them.

I’m still sort of feeling my way around in the murky shadow lands of good communication, actually. I tend to be strangely ‘face value’ about what people say, much of time. I don’t tend to see/hear subtext very easily, although I can quickly craft numerous alternate meanings or explanations of something said, it’s a very abstract thing. When I have more data, I can be more accurate, but it isn’t really about that other level of understanding for me; I am guessing. Maybe we all are? Those pesky assumptions can really fuck us up!

A journey, a path, a way, an experience.

A journey, a path, a way, an experience.

This has been a lovely few days for beautiful words, too. My partner has showered me with lovely ones, meaningful loving profundities of all kinds, hyperbolic assurances of value, appreciation, worthiness, and fondness. He’s also lobbed a few my way in moments of frustration or hurt that were just flat-out human and mean. I definitely hear the mean part first, and have to fight not to react to that before I catch up with the rest and hear his frustration and hurt; speaking to what is has more value than allowing myself to be chased by my own demons.

Right now, Hardwiring Happiness is the most important book in my kindle. I didn’t realize how little time I was spending really enjoying, savoring, and appreciating the good things, the beautiful words, or the best moments, and how very many minutes I would spend on what hurt, what frustrates me, what makes me sad, what weighs down my heart, or makes me angry – whole hours and days in fact, resulting in implicit negatively bias so extraordinary that I developed a hair-trigger response to frustration that resulted in nasty tantrums, irrational fits of rage or despair, and a lot of irritability because life often felt like it just sucked. I don’t generally feel that way much these days.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

Words are magical – and not always well-received, or understood at intended. Life’s curriculum is often built on the power of words.

Today is a good day to use fewer words, with more clarity. Today is a good day to use gentle words, with more kindness. Today is a good day to use words with great precision, and great honesty. Today is a good day to change the words.

 

Are you or a loved one suffering from symptoms of OPD? Arguing with fictions? Stressed out when nothing’s wrong? Experiencing feelings of insecurity, fearfulness, and sorrow in the proximity of someone afflicted by OPD? Is your conversation dominated by OPD? After being exposed, do you find yourself picking at the wounds and making them worse, or carrying the disorder to others and exposing them to contagion?

More contagious than Ebola, OPD has ruined more lives than cigarette smoking, and may be a risk factor for stroke,  and heart attacks. OPD is often associated with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and anger-related disorders.

Fortunately, there’s a cure. There is hope. You can be free of OPD! The treatment program is simple, and low-cost, and nearly 100% effective… Let it go. Walk away. Don’t engage. Take care of you. Seriously.

Can't see the forest for the trees? Perspective is a nice thing to have; today I am contemplating a long-standing personal challenge.

Can’t see the forest for the trees? Perspective is a nice thing to have; today I am contemplating a long-standing personal challenge.

I’m feeling a bit playful this morning in spite of OPD – and if you are not familiar with the term, I’ll break it down: Other People’s Drama. You know the stuff; there I am, standing on the sidelines of a discussion that somehow goes wrong, I can see how it plays out almost in slow motion, I watch the people engaging someone deeply afflicted with OPD continue to face emotional attacks, story telling, and game-playing, while  friends and loved ones try desperately to help, to derail that train, to find a better outcome… that’s how it goes for me, anyway. The problem is, day after day of it wears me down, and one day I find I’m knee-deep in emotional games and bullshit, or allowing myself to be baited unexpectedly, and wondering where I went wrong.

People delivering that experience to their friends and loved ones sometimes have no honest awareness of the damage they are doing to their relationships or themselves; it’s the behavior they learned in the context of their experience growing up. Others are aware of it, relish it, dive into it with earnest resolve to catalyze and control the world around them with emotion. Doesn’t matter too much where on that spectrum someone falls; the outcome for those daring enough to love them is quite similar: stress, fearfulness, insecurity, anger, depression, chaos, confusion, frustration – and quite possibly a sense of ever-present risk of having a fucking stroke. I probably walk around looking astonished or annoyed much of the time, just wading through the OPD and wondering ‘what the fuck, seriously?’.  I sometimes feel fortunate when I’m not in the line of fire, just observing OPD symptoms ‘in the wild’ between beings with whom I have no interaction; it’s no less uncomfortable, frankly, and still seems completely inappropriate, unnecessary, and counter to anything loving or compassionate, but the emotional WMD (weapons of mass destruction) are not directed at me, or even towards me. Make no mistake, it’s not ‘fortunate’  to be surrounded by OPD, or sucked into it, or victimized by it, or even to stand next to it, or read about it in the news. OPD is waiting in the wings to be classified as a mental health issue, once someone sufficiently credentialed can give it a catchy name, and a profitable treatment. Yes, it sucks that much. Yes, I see people who are emotionally abusive to others – particularly loved ones – as mentally ill. Some people find humor in it, from a distance, some people find it titillating when it is celebrities. I find it… distasteful. Uncomfortable. Hostile. Disrespectful. Lacking in compassion for self or others. I could go on. That, too, seems unnecessary.  It’s enough to say that in a mathematical set of all things made of love, I would not find OPD therein.

Human primates are emotional creatures. We’re very fancy monkeys, but peel away the layers of education, technology, and civility and what remains is pretty consistent with apes and simians in the wild. We can do better; we have reason and choices, free will and opportunities for willful change and willful growth. There are verbs involved, and a commitment to making better choices. This morning I face myself in the mirror in an honest way, and I ask a new question…”What does it take to become metaphorically teflon-coated, vaccinated against OPD, and is the wiser choice to recognize when I’ve simply had enough?” We are each having our own experience. There are some experiences I don’t care to have – and I have the choice not to accept them. I can change my own behavior, my own actions, my choices… what does taking care of me, and meeting my own needs over time require of me, as an adult woman with considerable experience?

Today is a new day. My coffee is hot and tasty, and I slept well and deeply, waking refreshed and content with myself. In spite of the topic, and this morning’s content, I am myself in a very good place. I am saddened by how often I have chosen, on other days, to become mired in someone else’s experience. This morning, I smile and think “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” This morning I meditate on love, gratitude, and making good choices.

If you are someone who feeds on drama, loves to foster drama, and invests emotionally in turmoil and confrontation, please at least consider that we don’t all thrive on that, or feed on it, and we don’t all find it pleasant, desirable, routine, or necessary. If you could take a moment to consider… but… isn’t that part of the issue in the first place? I guess you’ll find your own way. You, too are having your own experience, and it’s yours; you can build it of whatever stuff you value, yourself. Those are your choices, not mine.  I’ll just be right over here… choosing something different and enjoying my experience.

Days end. Days begin. Where will you take yourself on your journey today? What will you choose for yourself?

Days end. Days begin. Where will you take yourself on your journey today? What will you choose for yourself?

Today is a good day to treat myself and others well. Today is a good day to be kind. Today is a good day for compassion. Today is a good day to love. Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world, and to welcome the best of who I can be with open arms and no reservations. Today, every day, every moment, love is what matters; choosing it is still a choice, and there is still a verb involved.