Monday, January 28, 2013

Control Struggles

All my life, I have been prone to the "power struggle." It's not that I am a control freak, nor that I have these relationships with every person I meet, but I have found that if someone is prone to trying to wield control, I might lock horns with them. I am intrigued by how to help dissipate a power play. I am curious about passive agressive people and how they enter the equation.

First off, I think most power struggles come out of a stressed situation. If there is no stress, it seems even the boldest of characters and bulliest of people can get along. As soon as an external struggle is introduced, people feel their loss of control profoundly. Some try and regain their control through overt attempts and others through more back-handed, "lead from behind" methods. The key, I suspect, must be in the acknowledgement of the stress situation. Somehow, if you call out the stressor and point out the loss of control that everyone must be feeling, they are able to come to grips with it. If the stressor looms and everyone pretends it doesn't exist, it can really bring out the worst in everyone.

Here are some things I have found that definitely mitigate the high tension situation:
1) Acknowledgement of the stressor and empathy to how it might be impacting others.
2) Speaking openly and honestly about what you are feeling and what others must be feeling.
3) Asking ended and thoughtful questions and then actually listening to the answers.
4) Believe it or not, revealing your weakness...crying, showing upset.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Let's Talk About "Clicks," Baby...Let's Talk About You and Me...

So, I've been hanging out at the "Online Dating" meeting places as of late. It's a motley cast of characters who frequent these establishments. I have probably been on twenty dates or so and have really only found a couple of clicks. One click blew my socks off, but that faded quickly. The other is a slow and steady kind of thing...not mercurial and flashy, just there for sure. I am left wondering what kind of clicks are the best for love for life? Slow burn? Flashing heat? Butterflies?

It's truly amazing to me how I can meet someone and pretty much instantly know if there is any chemistry. My litmus test is whether or not I can look at their lips and want to kiss them. If I do, it's all good. If I don't, I spend a very long time staring at their lips in dread and thinking about the what ifs..."What if they try to kiss me?" "What if they really like me and I don't like awkward." etc...

I have gone from having lengthy phone conversations and text marathons, to meeting early on in the process. I have found it's a lot easier to communicate that there is no love connection IF you haven't been talking to the person for three weeks. Since that "chemistry" is immediately evident upon meeting them, might as well use that as the initial screen. IF there is at least a foundation for common interests.

I have learned that that chemistry is not beholden to looks or phone connection. It's not made up of commonalities in life interest or height differences. It does not conform to reason or rule (and in my case even gender!). The click is a mysterious chemical equation - a reaction to what? I am not sure, but that does not stop me from knowing it exists and seeking it's hot embrace.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Heart Attack

"I see dead people." - The Sixth Sense

I don't see dead people, but I see hearts...for the last year (almost exactly) I have seen heart shapes EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING: trash, nature, the sky, ice, trees, snow, dirt, rocks, grasses...the list goes on and on. This begs the question "why?" Why do I see heart shapes so easily and frequently? There's been a lot of lost love this year...a lot of pain in my heart, is that why?

I tend to think not because I enjoy seeing the hearts and it makes me joyous, doesn't feel like a reminder of lost love. Feels more like the nature I love so well is returning the love. When I say I am an avid hiker and outdoorswoman, I cannot express how much this is true. I am truly happiest and free when I am surrounded by the seasons and out in the fresh air, regardless of the weather.

I think the hearts are Valentine's from nature and I think I see them because of my artistic training. I think I started seeing the heart shape and now my eyes scan constantly while I am out and about. I have introduced my kids to the game of heart hunting and now they proudly present the hearts they find too! They find them all the time when I don't see them...which makes me think that the over 500 hearts I have documented in the last year are just a fraction of the hearts that are out there.

So, start looking for them. You will see them too.

It reminds me of my first year at Skidmore when I took a class called 2-D design which was about creating two dimensional art, balancing compositions, color, dark and light. I distinctly remember beginning that class and how my eyes were opened. Everything became a potential composition. I felt like a film director with my hands forever up in a frame to view the world as two dimensional. Power lines cutting across in a strong diagonal made or the dark and light the horizon line all made me want to capture the design in mind's eye. Snap. Snap. I took mental pictures.

It also reminds me of "the Law of Recurring Infrequencies" which I blogged about a long, long time ago. My eye is primed to see hearts. I am just so glad it's hearts and not swastikas or something scary!

Here is the "Law of Recurring Infrequencies" post pulled out of archives:

Yesterday, I heard a great segment on NPR yesterday about a new girl group box set. It was all about the girl bands of the late 50s/early 60s and their music. I was struck by how similar they all sounded - same subjects, sound and doo wops. Imagine my surprise to come home to Elena's new activity. She moves around the house sing Da Doo Da Doo Da Doo. It's so cute. It's like she has to burst forth in song. She can't help herself. Is this an innate tendency? Are girls born to doo wop? Or is this yet another instance of the law of recurring infrequencies.

My great uncle, Jake Lingle, coined this term. The law of recurring infrequencies explains the bizarre tendency of something you have never heard before or infrequently heard, suddenly popping into conversation, or recurring, again and again after its initial appearance. I've always noticed this happening with new vocabulary words. I will hear a word and look up its meaning, and then lo and behold, hear it three more times that week. It's absolutely bizarre.

What I have always wondered, however, is whether is the learning of that new word, that primes your ear and mind so it sticks out in the subsequent conversations. It's like it raises its hand and shouts out...Look at me! Look at me! Here I am again! Maybe that word was always floating out there, but my learning it is what makes it appear to recur. In other cases, I know it is an infrequent concept that just happens to recur again and again in short time period. Either way, it's an interesting concept and one that I'm sure you'll notice in your own life as well. Got any examples of recurring infrequencies from your life?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hearts are Found

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Thank you Deepak (and Oprah)

Googling "feeling lost' just to see what t'internet has to offer my predicament yielded an interesting answer...a prescription for something to do. I repost in full below:

Q: I am 59 years old, even though it feels like just yesterday I was 20. I have read most of your books. I am trying to write something smart, so you'll notice me, but it has taken an hour to write this much. My thoughts fly at 300 miles an hour, while my hands go so slow I put down my work and erase, over and over. My wanting to run from suffering is what gives me more suffering. How can I stop? Am I dreaming this life? How can I bring joy to my life? Simple questions, because in the day to day we forget. I need me to help me from feeling totally lost at this time.

— Luisa F., Salt Lake City, Utah
Dear Luisa,
Between the lines of your letter, one reads enormous confusion and distress. The issue isn't necessarily whether to run from suffering or not. Difficult situations fall into three categories: things we can fix, things we have to put up with and things we should walk away from. The ability to tell which is which doesn't come automatically. When your mind is racing with anxiety and you don't know how to make even basic decisions, suffering mounts on suffering. Seeing a way out becomes all but impossible when your energy is completely taken up with simply coping.

To find a way out, you first need to find some mental stability. At this point, you shouldn't focus on clinging to a few scraps of happiness, obsessively analyzing your predicament, running from one helper to another, escaping into fantasy, suffering in silence, wrestling with yourself or being in a state of constant complaint and worry. I'm not saying you are doing all of these things, but I have no doubt that at least a few apply. Please realize these are futile tactics. They are getting you not one inch closer to a solution. By an irony of the mind, we all do more of what never worked in the first place. I know how that works, and I'd like to see you get off the merry-go-round whirling in your mind.

It's time for a realistic game plan. Sit down with a piece of paper and give it the title "Mental Stability" or "Calming My Mind." Itemize 10 steps you could take to become less anxious, restless and worried. Once you've made your list, choose the top three things and actually follow them up. Your list of remedies might include the following:

  • Learn to meditate
  • Reduce everyday stress
  • Avoid negative situations and people
  • Find an enjoyable, positive outlet
  • Open up to a friend whom you trust
  • Ask for comfort from a pastor or a mature, compassionate friend
  • Set down a cherished goal with steps for reaching it
  • Organize your finances and live within a budget
  • Heal old emotional wounds
  • Clean and straighten up the house; make your work environment orderly
These are familiar steps to readers of this column, but if you take them seriously and act upon them, you will begin to regain your balance and feel more secure within yourself. Without control over your own life, the result will be inner confusion and distress. Make sure, before anything else, that you feel safe and protected and have trust in the people closest to you. When writing down your list, be specific. You need to know exactly what steps you plan to take and who you are going to approach for help, kindness and guidance. Your mind may be a present source of distress, but it is also your source of healing.


Read more:

So, here it goes:

"Mental Stability" or "Calming My Mind."
10 steps to help me become less anxious, restless and worried
1) Keep much as possible, keep in the great outdoors
2) Focus on my children, loving them and being loved by them
3) Read...books on healing, but also read aloud to the kids
4) Work...everyday, hard and with a productive outcome.
5) Set a daily parenting, work and exercise goal and stick to it.
6) Remember my creativity. Find a long term project to engage the creative side of my mind.
7) Be alone. Be with myself. Enjoy my own company.
8) No drinking. It isn't like I drink all that much, but it costs money and is a depressant, so why do it?
9) Practice meditating during walks on letting go the unhealthy.
10) Clean up my environment.
11) Practice preemptively saying NOW instead of later or in a little while.
12) Delay gratifaction. I have always been instant gratification girl and this does not serve me. I make snap decisions and get myself into situations that are not well thought out.

The top ones I can do RIGHT now to help improve my mind are #1, #2, #7 and #8.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Love is a Strange Game

So, in an effort to clear my mind and start the new year afresh, I need to blog about something that happened to me last year. Perhaps it's my diehard optimism and hope which never dies, or maybe it's my watching of Downton Abbey's romantic wedding episode that has me all stirred up. Whatever the reason, I am moved to write this down today.

"As long as you walk the earth, I could never be happy with anyone else." This is what Matthew says to his dear Mary. This is a sentiment we are not all lucky to have been able to experience in our lives. It's definitely amazing to meet someone with whom you connect Matthew-Mary style. Someone who takes your breath away the minute you meet them. Someone with whom you immediately can imagine growing old. And, even if it doesn't work out with this person, if you are an optimist like me, you always dream it will. You always believe in the truth of the feeling, the click. And you pine for it.

Then, at some point, you realize that you need to let it go. You must leave it. If you do not, you will be stuck in a sort of purgatory, forever.

What do you do? How do you do it? In the words of the immortal Beegees, how can you mend a broken heart?

Well, first off, it helps to acknowledge that it's just a feeling. It's a feeling that you can live without. It also helps to tell yourself that if it's meant to be, it still might. As long as that doesn't leave you pining. If it makes you pine to think there's still a chance, then make sure you imagine there is none. No chance. Nada. Zilch. Donezarilla. Kaput. (think I've tried this approach?)

You might even come to question if it was an obssession, rather than a love. Then, you might pick up a book or two on obssessive love and scare yourself. But then you also might read M. Scott Peck's  "The Road Less Traveled" and realize that what happened, what really, truly happened was that you fell in "infatuation." The relationship stalled there, in the honeymoon phase. It was, therefore, idealized because it was just that: was all pink clouds and unicorns. It was the stuff of myths.

It was not real. It didn't get to become real. It was preemptively stopped from maturing into a grown-up love. It stays there on the pages of your life, a sighing irrepressible crush...hopefully waiting for a future grown-up love to come along and make it feel inferior in comparison.

So, I turn the page. I move on. I leave the sighing, mooning teen behind, embarassed that it even came to that. To believe there is no hope is the only way. There cannot be. There must not be. If hope still exists, that stupid pining will continue and it cannot. Not this year.

Friday, January 04, 2013

1918 Called, They Can Have their Epidemic Back!

Couple of things. 1) The flu SUCKS. It sucks horribly when you have it, but boy it sucks ten times worse when your little boy has it. 2) The ticking time bomb feeling of lying in wait to be preyed on. I believe I had it already, but Elena has not. 3) Nasal swabs at the hospital are GROSS. 4) Even a skilled nurse cannot get my boy to take liquid Tylenol without vomiting on her (this gave me a feeling of satisfaction somehow to see that he is one of the WORST medicine takers in history).

Once I got a thermometer and could seee what his temperature actually was, then I was worried. I lived in unmeasured, ignorant bliss throughout my bout and for two days of Liam's. Then, I acquired a thermometer. When your son is running a fever of almost 104 ON Advil, you start worrying. I don't care who you are, seeing your child wiped out and down for the count is scary. So, despite having no insurance, we headed off the ER.

So, we had many tests...Liam gave snot, blood and snot. Pee was a piece of cake. Blood was unpleasant, as expected. Snot, however, was another story. A nasal swab is not fun business:

Luckily, the PA who administered the swab, did it swiftly and without warning. If I were a nurse, this would definitely be my least favorite chore, especially on a tender six-year old.

LKG Flu 7
LKG Flu 5
Feeling really punky...
LKG Flu 3
LKG Flu 2
"Mommy, this is great! You should put this on Pinterest"

Thursday, January 03, 2013

An Engineer's Ear

Might as well blog while I am laid up with the crud. A long time ago, I was given a very kind way of looking at a weakness of mine. I was told that I have an engineers ear...That I am listening to people with an intent to understand and formulate a solution or response. My brain is cranking overtime while the other person is talking, processing, analyzing and accessing its internal database for the perfect comment, answer or exemplum. I am listening. but not generously. "Listening generously" is the best gift you can give someone who is talking to you. It means withholding your own thoughts to concentrate on what they are truly saying...not the personal, internal schema it conjures up in your own mind. I am going to work on improving my listening generosity in 2013.

I think it's also often possible to fail to listen generously to God's voice and God's plan. This means, we often are so busy "processing" what we think is the message we are receiving, that we are not open to truly hearing and following God's intended path for us. .I read a quote that sums this up:
Help me listen with openess to hear God's plan. Help me to not find a path I want and try to convalute the message to suit my agenda.

This runs right into related concept I have always loved which is the idea that thoughts are creative. Any thought is a created reality, a homemade tale. We cannot truly think without it being a creative act. We cannot actually hear without it passing through the obscuring and judgelmental scrim of our mind's eye. We can merely choose to focus on the person speaking and to practice taking in what we hear without making a judgement on it. Just laying the meaning bare and letting what we hear stand on its own integrity.

Part of my "living in the moment" for 2013 will involve reserving judgement, listening generously, acknowledging that there exists a plan bigger than my creative thoughts and wants.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013, I've Got a Bone to Pick...

In marched the new year, in spite of myself, I felt a renewed sense of hope, or at the least a vague sense of "do over." I rallied in my last post and figured out a way to flip the negativity on its head. "Live in the moment," I said. So far every moment of 2013, albeit very few have passed, has sucked. My best friend's dad died.
My illness continues to make me feel like I am in the throes of the bubonic plague.
Boy child came down with it and thus there was no sleeping last night after 1:30 AM.
I had to cancel a job interview due to said sickness and exhaustion.
Financially, this year is already a strain.
I've lost sudden touch with a good friend who was a daily part of my life.
I can't do my hikes because I am trapped in my illness and my house with quarantined child.

OK, so those are the moments with which I have been faced. Help me understand how I can live in the moment and experience anything but depression?

Now, my attempt to turn it around.
My best friend's dad was very sick and is in heaven with God and is no longer suffering his earthly pain. My friend can begin the long and painful process of grieving and letting go. This is not a very silver lining.

My illness has encouraged me to read in bed for a couple of days and I have almost completed a fantastic book, The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian.

My boy is sick, but he is still in good spirits.

Although up at 1:30, we did not get out of bed until 4 and even then, he played happilly with his Matchbox cars for hours. 

And, my girl child bravely and confidently went back to school while her brother stayed home. She was such a good egg to go out in the 25 degree morning and wait for the bus. (though she did have a little company of the neighbor dog, Bear, who has adopted us, especially her).

I had to cancel a job interview, but it's been easily rescheduled for next Tuesday when I most certainly will be feeling better and be far less distracted by my ill son.

Financially this year is already a strain, but my family is helping me out enough so that I don't get evicted.

The friend I have lost touch with in a sudden and painful way is teaching me a lesson about life. I am so open and so trusting...I need to move more slowly and be more skeptical. Plus, I am getting a much needed break from my iPhone. I needed to unplug.

Although, I have not been able to get out much, I was able to try my snowshoes I received from my sisters at Christmas and I love them! Also, if one is going to be held back from the outside, let it be when it is frigid and icy, rather than the first days of spring or colorful days of Fall's gorgeousness.