Love is Plenty

Eran and Stacey Aug 2013What is today? It is our wedding day. Today is the day of a new beginning. Or is it? It feels like the new beginning occurred when my boyfriend and I got back together after a lengthy breakup. From that point on we were committed. It took a lot of adjusting to get where we are now – happy.

On that first date I knew. I felt something and it hasn’t stopped. I doubted it. I ran away from it. I even threw it on the floor and stomped on it. It was always there in my face. Undeniable love.

From the first date to today I can see that it has changed. It has become more calm, strong and reliable instead of a cursed roller coaster. Maturity perhaps. Faith maybe. Like a fine wine, aged. Definitely better.

As we seal our love with marriage today I am not nervous, stressed, or worried. We have built a house of brick, not straw and today we move in. We cross the threshold to a new phase in our relationship. New beginnings, new memories and more love to grow. This is the time of plenty.


Overcoming Sofa Inertia

photo (7)After several weeks of the flu working its way through the family, I realized that we had all become far too comfortable on the sofa. Instead of hiking, riding bikes or going to the mall we were stuck on the sofa looking for yet another movie or television series to watch on Netflix. I recall a saying that I learned in college physics class, “Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest, bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.” In the Nelson house these bodies were stuck at rest.

How was I going to get everyone moving? I decided to schedule a family hike each Saturday through my meetup group to get myself (and the rest of the family) to commit to some sort of activity on the weekend. Instead of a ‘gym buddy’ or ‘workout partner’ we will have family accountability. For some reason no one wants to get up early on the weekend. Therefore my approach is heavily reliant on peer pressure. If I am going to get up and get dressed to go hiking, I want everyone else to do the same (and suffer the same sleep deprivation).

I know my strategy may seem a bit extreme to some people, but it isn’t like I am scheduling the kids to make a 10 mile trek or even make the steep climb up Camelback Mountain. Instead I planned a few easy hikes to get the family ‘in motion’ and my hope is that once everyone is moving, they will keep on moving and possibly even help me find more activities for the family to try. Are you stuck on your sofa? And if you are, what are you doing to get off of it?

Getting into the Swing of Things

I hadn’t been Swing dancing in 10 years, so watching the people on the dance floor Friday night made me wonder, can I do that?. I don’t think I could do it that well when I was 32, how would I do now? Would I be better? An opportunity to take lessons from Lindy Hop dance champions presented itself over the weekend, so I decided that instead of letting life pass me by, I would give Swing dance a second try.

During my first lesson on Saturday I realized I remembered very little Lindy Hop. I gave it my best effort and was able to pick up most of the steps pretty easily. I soon discovered as I rotated around the room with different dance partners, that every man would lead differently. The idea of letting a man lead me in anything was a foreign concept to me. I lead projects by day and children by night. Would I ever be able to let a man lead on the dance floor? Although it was hard to let a man lead me, I saw that is was necessary. Particularly if I didn’t want to fall on the floor or crash into my dance partner. I suddenly discovered that there was a parallel between my dancing and relationship failures. It was caused by my inability to let someone else lead. To let a man be a man.

After 4 hours of swing dancing, I got the message. I understood. I saw improvement over the day as I relinquished control and let someone else lead. I stopped anticipating the next move. I was just dancing, living and smiling. Dancing became a metaphor for how I needed to approach relationships, but it took a day of dancing for me to understand it. Talk about drilling in a message!

I decided that after today I was going to stop guiding, pushing or anticipating and just enjoy relationships the same way I danced. A man likes to lead so he can feel like he is in control. A woman will enjoy it a lot more if the man leads. Why? Because sometimes he is waiting to lead you in a really great move, but you missed the cue because you were too busy worrying about what was next. So close your eyes, follow the lead and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Less Mess, Not More

Yesterday morning I emerged from my bedroom after a nice relaxing shower, when I heard banging in the kitchen. I saw Paige in the hallway which meant only one other child could be in the kitchen and responsible for the racket. My first thought, ‘What is Tucker, doing in there?’. At 8-years-old I am well aware of the colossal damage he could inflict if he put his mind to it. Is he standing on the counter? Is he breaking dishes? Wait, I hear silverware clanging. Did he tie silverware to the ceiling fan? What could he possibly be doing?

As I entered the kitchen, the guilty party hid his face with his elbow and put his head down on the counter. I approached the sink and noticed something strange. There are no dirty dishes. Where did the dirty dishes go? For a moment I wondered if they have been thrown in the trash can. Then I heard a giggle from underneath the elbow.

“You put the dishes in the dishwasher, didn’t you?” I state matter-of-factly. Tucker lifts his face which now shows a wide grin with every tooth on display. At first he had been acting as if I was going to be angry about him about loading the dishwasher, now he seemed to think it was funny. He was playing a prank, only it seemed that I was getting all the laughs (or at least the rest). What single mom doesn’t appreciate a day of not having to clean up the dishes?

I told Tucker I really appreciated what he had done. Although on the inside I was wondering what he was going to ask in return for completing this ‘chore’. Another DS game? $10 to spend at Target, or merely a hug? There is no way of knowing what goes on in the brain of an 8-year old. For now I am just going to accept this generous gift of help around the house. With his pre-teen years just around the corner, it won’t be long before getting him to take out the trash will cost me $50.

Life’s Imperfections

It is true. I admit it. I am not perfect at relationships. However, at least I tried.

I have no trouble jumping back on the horse that threw me – the horse known as Relationship. Sometimes I wonder why I want to be on the horse to begin with. As I stand in the mirror reflecting at this newly single person, I reflect on the question, “What is a relationship failure?” Is it being married for 50 years but not happy? Is it never getting married because no one was good enough? Or is it marrying a person you thought was great, but broke-up with at some point down the road?

In my case I married. Sadly I reached a point where I could not longer make the people around me, or myself happy in the situation. This leaves me wondering if ending an unhealthy relationship is really a success rather than a failure? At least I know what makes me happy or unhappy. Does it make sense to keep going down a path where you know you can never achieve the life you want?

If people waited until they were 100% sure to do something, then we would all be dead. Why? Because we would be afraid that food was not safe to eat, that we might injure ourselves getting out of bed in the morning, or kissing a child will contaminate us with germs making us sick. Perfection and the existence of life (including relationships) do not align. When you say ‘people’, you are really saying ‘imperfection’. Sometimes it is the imperfections that we love most about people. Doesn’t it give them character?

Would you rather live and experience life with all its flaws, or sit on the sidelines doing only what you can do perfectly? The problem in life is the moving pieces. In the puzzle of life, the pieces are constantly shifting and changing shape. To me it is better to take a chance and gain experiences – love, hurt, anger, loss and maybe ‘fail miserably’ in the eyes of the judgmental. It is better than being paralyzed by perfection. My life is filled with great memories and I will not wonder “what if”, because although I don’t have a perfect life to show for it, I have lived. There is a saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. In my case it feels better to have lived and been imperfect than to have never lived at all. Which life would you choose?

A Place to Call Home

Downtown San Diego is blanketed in a gray mist. Unfortunately, the blanket is chilling me to the bone instead of warming me. As I sit on the balcony overlooking the other high-rise buildings of the city, I wonder if all cities are pretty much the same. Do the buildings look the same? Do the cities have the same aroma? Do the same background noises fill the air? I hear the squeaking brakes of a stopping bus, the wind pushing its way between the buildings, and the occasional siren drowning out all other sounds. The sounds of the city are so different from the sounds of my home in the suburbs, yet surprisingly, I can hear one familiar sound – the sound of tweeting birds. Even here amongst the towers of concrete and glass, the birds have found a place to build their nests, and a place to call home.

In the distance nestled between the buildings, the American flag is fluttering in the wind. Like the birds, the flag does not need special surroundings, just a place to live. Isn’t that what we all need? A place to live. A place to exist. A place to feel safe. A place to breathe in and out. A place with everything we need to get us to that next moment. It may be a moment of joy or sadness, but a moment nonetheless. We should be thankful for being alive, shouldn’t we? Thankful for being given this moment of existence and everything leading up to it. Just like the flag or the bird – it is just a place like any other, yet somehow a home.

Birds adapt to their surroundings, as do people. It doesn’t really matter where you live – just ‘that’ you live. At times in the city I find myself unable to sleep because of the number of sounds I am unaccustomed to hearing. Sometimes I like the sounds because it is comforting – I realize I am not alone. I look around and see an array of empty balconies in the adjacent building. There must be people somewhere? For the moment I am feeling alone even though I am surrounded by sleeping people. I am awake. Alive. Breathing. Living. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why am I here alone at 6:20 AM on a balcony observing the city while everyone else sleeps? Somehow I have found myself in a place called home.

Scent of a man?

I read an article a while ago that discussed women’s ability to choose a mate via smell. Did anyone else get a whiff of it?

According to the article, women are attracted to men with genes different from their own. How does she determine her level of attraction? Smell. Why is this important? Survival of the fittest. From the perspective of reproduction, different genes are the best, if humans are going to survive. It is hard to believe that the olfactory lobes within my brain are longing to be filled with the scent of a man, but not just any man, the one with genes different from my own. Are the senses really that accurate? I also wonder, will the scent wane over time? Or will I become desensitized to it after a while?

I find it amusing that there is a movie, Scent of a Woman, because for mating, it is more important that the woman catch the scent of a man. Instead of on-line dating sites with 27 levels of compatibility or attending speed dating lunches, all women need is a man’s stinky shirt to sniff. Dating has become so complex, yet it is really as plain as the nose on our face. Actually, controlled by the nose on our face.

I admit that I have experienced this smell that resulted in attraction to a man. The smell can be so overwhelming that it can affect your ability to think. Sounds great doesn’t it? It sounds good until the man is beyond your scent perimeter and you are sitting there craving it. As a woman, haven’t you ever asked a man if he could leave his shirt with you? It had his smell on it and you probably didn’t even realize it.

Maybe the nose, really does know? Whether preventing humans from eating spoiled food or choosing a proper mate, our nose is very powerful and we should use it to its full potential. Not only should you stop and smell the roses,but if you are a woman, you might want to stop and smell a man (or maybe just his shirt?). This is assuming you are looking for a mate, then again, you might just be in it for the smell. Breath in and enjoy.

The well is full, why no water?

The last several weeks have been a frenzy of activity. I had plenty to write, but nothing to share. I equate it to a well full of water that you can’t tap. Every day I write. Then I write some more. Just when I think I am done, I write another page. Unfortunately, the stuff I was writing was too close to the heart, too dear to share with the world. Until now.

What is the reason for my writer’s block? I am faced with being alone for the first time in 10 years. I may have chosen this path, but not lightly. Hundreds of hours were dedicated to contemplating this particular decision. Then one day, I woke up and the decision was made. Was it that last cup of coffee I drank that made the difference? Or my meditation by the pool? I can’t be sure how or why these things happen, but I feel relief to have an actual decision.

Decisions are not easy for me. I am constantly balancing like a tight-rope walker. I want everyone else happy, so often I am left in the lurch, and left unhappy. At times it is the right approach, but sometimes the weight of one’s personal unhappiness outweighs everyone else’s happiness. The saying about the straw that broke the camel’s back is true. My back (and my heart) were broken and there was no stopping the sudden crash to the ground. I couldn’t pick myself back up because I hadn’t the means. It was over. Decision made.

What was the final straw for my decision to end a relationship that wasn’t working? Hope. I had completely lost hope that I could be happy in the relationship. Sad, yet true. I needed to find hope so I could get out of bed each day because each day that passed (before the straw landed on my back) my hope waned. When you lose hope, you lose the will to live. To regain hope I had to make a change. Since I couldn’t change other people, I had to change my circumstances. To have hope, I needed my freedom.

I now stand on a mountain of hope. All around me is the opportunity for a happy today and a happier tomorrow. I can be sad about yesterday, but what is the point? I can only control today. Some people have told me “the grass is not always greener”, which may be true. My question is, what do you do when your grass is completely dead? Some things can be fixed and some can’t. Once you realize they can’t be fixed (like some aspects of my 11-year-old car) it is time to let go and move ahead. I feel relief that my hope and my writing well are full again. Blue skies and green grass are ahead, or at least I hope so.

Another Holiday, More Gifts?

On the eve of Valentine’s Day I began to question the number of holidays we celebrate and the amount of gift giving. It seems as if Christmas just passed and I finally recycled all the cardboard, when another gift giving holiday is imminent. Can’t people give gifts when and if they wanted too, instead of ‘having-to’ because Hallmark, FTD, or See’s candy made then feel obligated. Of course, no one ‘has-to’ do anything on Valentine’s Day, but if a guy does not give a gift, won’t he end up being chastised by his woman?

As a young girl I remember so many Valentine’s Day disappointments that I stopped expecting to receive anything on this holiday. It makes life a lot simpler to lower (or in this case remove) expectations. When I have received something on this annoying holiday, it is usually a dozen roses. I understand it is supposed to mean you are loving someone for 12 months, but it still seems a bit overkill. Why not send that person one rose every month for a year instead? Can’t we spread out the gift of love? Wouldn’t it be better to continuously remind the person that you love them, instead of blowing it in one shot?

The other difficult challenge of the holiday is, what do you do on it? Do you go out to dinner and a movie? Do you stay home and make dinner together? Do you go out to a play or the symphony? Do you go sky-diving? To me, the last option seems the most sane, unless you really love movies, plays or dinner. Last year I ran an 8k on Valentine’s Day and it was probably the best Valentine’s Day ever. It seemed a lot better than sitting around staring at an empty vase, or on a good year, a full one.

I keep asking myself why this day has to be for gift giving and different from any other day. Giving gifts doesn’t have to be limited to a holiday, does it? I really enjoy it when I receive a gift on a non-holiday. Imagine my surprise when I found a box of flowers from a Secret Admirer on my doorstep Friday evening. At least this year is good in the flower department (my vase is full). Tomorrow (like most other days) I will be working, doing laundry, making dinner for the kids, and if I am really lucky making some book edits. At least that is what I am expecting. Am I expecting too little? Although, who knows what surprises lurk around the corner of a holiday based on expressions of love? I hope everyone receives some expression of love tomorrow, no matter how small or large. Have a Lovely Valentine’s Day!

Little gift of love

I have been thinking a lot about what love is and what it isn’t. What does it mean when someone tells you that they love you? If they really love you, do they need to tell you? Shouldn’t they be showing you how they love you through little things they do every day? I know personally, I appreciate more showing and less telling. I am not talking about ‘physically’ showing here, although I am not averse to that. The confusion about love is not unique, as Webster’s dictionary contains 9 different definitions for love. No wonder we are confused about what love is!

When someone offers you their love, it is a precious little gift you can wrap up and hold in your heart. How many times have you found yourself giving love to other people, yet never receiving anything in return? Sure, it would be nice if all love was reciprocal, but it doesn’t always work that way. You finally get up the courage to tell someone you love them, and then they say they aren’t ‘in love’ with you. What does that mean? Love comes from a feeling you have inside toward someone else. It is an appreciation or a feeling compelling you to give a little bit of yourself to another person or what I call ‘little gift of love’. Sharing and giving – that is what love is about. You don’t have to be ‘in it’, it just is. You shouldn’t tell someone you love them because you are needy, instead, you should say it because you are giving love, not taking it. The idea that you expect them to love you back is a bit selfish, don’t you think? If you are full of love for yourself, it doesn’t matter if someone reciprocates your love or not.

Love seems a lot easier to give than receive. If someone shows me love, I sometimes find it hard to accept and wind up in tears. Not tears of sadness, but joy and amazement that someone would share their little gift of love with me. You may be surprised where love comes from and how you get that precious little gift. It isn’t always in the shape of the “I love you” phrase. It can be words of encouragement in troubled times from a mere acquaintance, a hug from a friend on Christmas when they are sad and lonely, or a parent holding a sick child on their lap. So many types of love to amaze me! We have so much love to give each other yet we often hide it, for fear that others will see our vulnerability. Without love, where would humanity be? Being vulnerable is human isn’t it? Do you want to be an animal or a human? We should be able to give love away easily – it should seem like no effort and we should desire nothing in return for our gift.

It frustrates me that filmmakers so often portray love as rampant sex on the dining room table. Sure, people can have instant connections that result in crazy behavior, but how often does that actually turn into a long-lasting relationship or true love? Is it possible that those connections are merely a transfer of those ‘little gifts of love’. When there is a strong connection between two people, do people give away their love without really thinking about it? or without questioning why? Love seems to be a strange ebb and flow of energy between people. Maybe those electrical connections between people just a ‘little gift of love’ transferring from one person to another. If you are lucky enough to have someone share their ‘little gift of love with you’, hang on to it and protect it. However, don’t be stingy. Feel free to pass it on, because love is a gift worth sharing.