Love: When do you know?

When do you know you are in love? Isn’t falling in love easy? Unfortunately the logical part of relationships gets in the way of love sometimes. Too much thinking perhaps. I recently wondered if the love of youth is more rewarding than the love we find as we get older. Or is it two completely different things?

How did you experience love when you were 16? Did you worry about a boy having a good job? Or a girl being a good mother to children? No! Of course not! You thought he/she was ‘cute’ and you liked to sit next to them in class or at lunch. That was enough. You were 16, what more did you need to know? Why doesn’t love work the same when you get older?
As we get older and form relationships, it is harder. Too much logic and less spontaneity. Why can’t it be simple? We need to focus on the simple question and answer. Question: Do you feel love? Answer: Yes or No.

The other challenge, when do you ‘know’ that you are ‘in love’? In many relationships I knew immediately. Seeing the person across the room. Just one date, or not even a date – kissing them 2 hours after meeting them at the wine festival. (Who knew that kiss would turn into a 3 year relationship!). I believe that people have the ability to be attracted quickly because it is instinctual. I am just not sure everyone is listening to their instinct. If we just followed our instincts, it would be easy to find a mate. Is our lack of reliance on instinct making it difficult to find ‘someone’?

If we could spend more time listening to our instincts and less time thinking (and worrying) maybe we could find more loving relationships. Instead of ‘criteria’, we could focus on how we connect with other people. Watching behavior and listening to responses to canned questions on a date just can’t determine true compatibility. There is something else in the air. Energy. The energy is the thing that 16-year-olds focus on and maybe those of us over 16 should reconsider as we approach our new relationships.

I have experienced love, as well as loss of love. I experienced the immediate lightning strike of love and the slower buildup to a long-term relationship that also was love. The lightning is tough to beat, but sometimes it can also beat you down if you let it. Everyone wants crazy and exciting love because it is so hard to pass up. Others have told me their relationship started with the lightning, but over time it grew into a different kind of love. Regardless of how you get to love, the lightening or a long slow ramp, does it really matter? Should we stop wondering ‘am I in love’ and just love? What about you? When did you know you were in love?

Sunshine, Freedom and Love

What is sunshine, freedom and love? It is not a hippie saying from the 1970’s (I don’t think?) or a slogan for Arizona. It is actually part of a quote from the back of a necklace that will inspire me for the upcoming year. While everyone else is contemplating what presents to buy for Christmas during December, I am reflecting on the past year and contemplating goals for 2012. What do I want in the next year? How do I want to feel at the end of the year? Where do I want to focus my attention so I can be happy? What will my life look like in one year? Will I feel fulfilled? Will I feel happy?

Last year when I thought about my life at the end of 2010 I came to the sad and frightening conclusion that to accomplish my goals (to be happy) something was going to have to change in my marriage. At the time I didn’t know it would actually come to an end. I had an inkling, but I didn’t know it would actually happen within the year. I also had no idea that a new love would fill my heart so quickly. So many things that happened during the year were driven by my goals, yet many things happened unplanned. Sometimes the unplanned things are the sweetest. Even though I am goal driven, I recognize that you cannot plan everything. Life has unexpected twists and turns and you have to accept those and smile about them.

Like most people who are single, I have the desire for a relationship. As I step back and look at the road ahead, I realize that how I have lived in the past probably will not be the same in the future. Instead of searching for someone to make me happy, I am looking to make myself happy. I really just want a companion to share life’s trials and tribulations with. I hear a lot about the ‘last call’ of the day to share ups and downs with. I realize that ‘last call’ can be with a friend, family member or a romantic interest. It doesn’t really matter which one. All three make me happy. The big realization from last year was that I have spent most of my life trying to make other people happy – but now it is my turn to make myself happy. Sort of a departure from my previous view of life. Everyone I know seems to be looking for ‘someone to make them happy’ or ‘someone to love’ or ‘someone to marry and have children with’. As I look at life from a new perspective, I am awed at the way I incorrectly viewed life before. Is it a result of a divorce or simply reaching a certain age that makes you see things this way. I seem to be looking at how to enjoy the 2nd half of my life instead of like the first half which was spent accomplishing things (careers, love, marriage, children). Now that I see life is so short, instead of accomplishments, I want happiness. I choose life over things. I choose relationships with people over money and success.

The quote on the necklace I wear around my neck is,”To live one must have sunshine, freedom and love”. I found this necklace in the oddest of places. I was passing through Denver airport during a layover and stopped in a jewelry shop. The necklace called to me. The necklace has a picture of a sunflower (reminiscent of my favorite flower, the black-eyed Susan) and on the back was the quote. As soon as I saw the quote, I knew the necklace was destined to be mine. Rarely do I have these ‘aha’ moments, but I felt it right then. The necklace (and quote) would carry me into the new year and beyond as I identified how I was going to accomplish happiness in the next year.

Not to say that the last year was not filled with happy moments, happy times, a love I will never forget as well as emotions of sadness, regret, and fear. To have emotions is to live – regardless of the type of emotion. I guess for the next year, I don’t want just emotion, I want happiness. As if my life depended on happiness. In reality, life does depend on happiness and my road to happiness will be paved by my goals. I don’t know why this necklace found me. Sometimes strange things like that happen to me. Like when you desire a solution to a problem and the solution appears at the exact time and place you need it. Funny how that this happens to me with people also. Strategically placed in the space-time continuum forever changing the course of my life – just when I need them.

For next year I have a vision of what I want. It is just a question of when and how the universe will give that to me (or how I will go and grab it!). I don’t know if I believe in divine intervention, but there seems to be some sort of intervention happening in my life these days. Maybe it is my positive thinking. Maybe it is good karma. Maybe it is just chance and luck that I see as something bigger than me. One thing I do know is that inspiration comes in strange forms, and this one happened to be a simple quote on the back of a $29 necklace. What will inspire you this year and help you reach your goals in 2012?