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?


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.

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?

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.

Why didn’t I get the message?

With text messages, voicemail, e-mail and instant messages, I am surprised that people have so many communication problems. How many times have you heard, “Did you read my e-mail?”, or ,”Did you see my text?”. We are all communicating at lightening speed using all these different mechanisms, but I have to wonder if our messages are actually getting through. I am not talking about whether the text or e-mail arrived, I am talking about the message we are trying to communicate. Confused? Me too!

Terabytes of data (and other numbers of bytes that I don’t even know the word for) are being generated daily, yet people are lost and confused because they aren’t getting the message. I used to think of communication methods as including written, verbal, and body language. That was easy, only three options. Body language makes up a significant portion of the message – something like 70%. No wonder we are left trying to decipher a message. Imagine trying to read a book with only 30% of the words!

The other thing that stumps me is deciding what communication to use and when. I get in trouble for sending ‘that’ in a text when I should have communicated in person. Is the quickness and efficiency of texting and e-mailing actually making us less effective communicators? Probably. Every day I see e-mail conversations that ultimately yield no decision or outcome. Time to pick up the phone and talk. Is that always more effective though? The phone lines and language capability are not always perfect. “Did you say you are shipping me nine cases of wine?” or “You will call me back on another line?” Repeating the message back and searching for understanding are the only way to receive the message. What? You don’t understand? How about I call you later and we can discuss it? The communication challenges continue, but we can’t stop trying.

Are you a turtle or a bird?

Communication happens when people can express their feelings without fear. I can do it. Can you? If you can’t, why not? What is preventing you? Are other people really that scary? Sometimes I wish people could be more open to discussion. Even to argue. Instead, people often crawl inside a shell and hide like a turtle.

The safety inside the shell seems nice until you realize that you are alone. If you don’t come out, you will remain alone. This is your choice. I am out of my shell, and in fact, I think I lost my shell completely. Where did I put that anyway? It doesn’t matter because I don’t need it. I have transformed into a bird – my wings are open and I am soaring above the ground. Sometimes I wonder if armor, like a shell, is just to keep people out. Are we really just keeping ourselves in, thereby preventing life? What exactly are we protecting anyway?

Relationships don’t happen in a shell because they will soon die. Even a turtle needs nourishment of some kind. How are you staying alive if you are stuck inside your shell? Are you really happy in there? Is this what you want and need? Don’t you want to live, to love and just ‘be’ instead of withering away in a cramped up space literally inside yourself? Really, your shell of fear is the only thing standing between you and your happiness. What will it be? Do you want to be a turtle, or something else?

Fear…that I have food in my teeth and no one will tell me.

Since I started this blog, you would think I wouldn’t be worried about vulnerability, however, doing something like a blog is a way to overcome fear. I have many fears like most everyone else. Fear of looking stupid (or in this case writing stupid), fear that people won’t like me, fear of smelling like a moose, fear of succeeding, and  fear of having food in my teeth for half the day that no one will tell me about.

I heard somewhere that fear is power. Without fear, humans would not be driven to act. We can harness the fear to our advantage can’t we? Some of the things that we are most afraid of and can overcome, can help us grow the most (Anyone seen Batman with Christian Bale?). I used to be afraid to tell the truth to people or tell them how I feel.  At some point I became so afraid that I was paralyzed. I didn’t want to upset anyone around me and I found myself cut-off from the rest of the world and miserable because I wasn’t getting anything that I needed;  I was just giving everyone else what they need.   Anyone who has been depressed or has anxiety knows what I am talking about. Most mon’s know about the ‘give-give-give’ until you don’t know who you are any more (because you are afraid to ask for help, afraid to ask for what you want, afraid to be, well…you!)  At some point I realized (and you may too) that if you are paralyzed by fears, you will never get to where you want to go in life.

So I got over my fear, now what?  Obviously it is ridiculous for me to think that I can become an astronaut, the next American Idol or a Hollywood starlet at this point in  my life, but does that mean I don’t have dreams and wishes?  I would love to travel and see the world. I would love to write and publish a book. I would love to grow old and see my children get married and have children of the their own. I would love to go for a run and clear my head.  If I just sit on my sofa because of fear, then I can’t even accomplish the simple task  of taking the kids to school or making myself breakfast. (I might have energy to make coffee, since I can’t live without it).

We cannot expect that a great life is going to fall in our laps. Can  love and career success just ‘happen’?  We have to make it happen. We have to put ourselves out there (even when we have a pimple on our forehead) and make our luck (ouch I just noticed that pimple…why am I still getting pimples at this age?). I hear people say that he or she was ‘lucky’.  What does that mean?  Wait, they were in the ‘right place at the right time’, however, if they had been sitting on their sofa I doubt the same could ever be said about them! Luck is not just chance, but putting yourself in the right place at the right time’, that is something you can control.  Is it a scary thought that you have control over your life? That you make your own destiny?

I was thinking back to a friend who was divorced and wanted to get remarried and have children.  She left the house for activities that were for other women or made her comfortable- choir, community groups, and dinner with the girls.  I don’t know exactly what happened to her,  but I envision her still living alone with her three cats (I know it sounds cliché, but this is the truth!).  Do you want to be the lonely woman with cats? Or do you want to overcome your fears and find out who you can be and what you can do?  You may surprise yourself.