Politics Screw With Love

Almost everything that pokes at me and sends me out of my comfort zone these days originates from Facebook.  I think this window we’ve created for ourselves into the lives of people we know, but don’t really know forces us pull our heads out of the sand and admit that there are all kinds of other viewpoints out there.  If we can’t embrace each others’ differences, we at least have to learn to accept them because they exist and denying the existence doesn’t change that fact.

For me the button that is most often pressed is the one in charge of my politics.  I know that I am not the only one that could admit this.  Today a friend posted something that was so very true, yet left me feeling a mixture of angry, sad, and fearful.  I’ll try to paraphrase what she said:

Do you ever notice how when you find out someone’s political beliefs your opinion of them instantly changes and you no longer feel the same about them? It’s interesting that that happens.

Reading that made me sad because, after two years of being her Facebook friend, I know her political views and they are not the same as mine.  It was a reminder that the instant I am open about being liberal there are people who will think less of me and perhaps even write me off.  The comment made me angry because it means that all the respect and love that brings us to a relationship in the first place can be torn apart in one moment of categorizing ourselves.  Finally it made me fearful because, like I said before, it was a very true (for probably most people) statement.

I’ve been in both situations before.  I’ve been in the place where you’re hanging out with a new friend, you like them and see the potential for a great relationship and then the subject of politics come up.  They say something that lets you know their on your team and suddenly you feel those warm fuzzies.  In your mind you’re running through a field of daisies with some sweet song playing.  In one instant an alliance has been made, and yes, you like this person more than you did the moment before.  I’ve also been in the moment where the new friend expresses a political opinion opposite yours and the sound of a record scratch resonates in your head.  How could this be?  She/He can’t possibly be one of them!  And just like that, you’re not so sure you could ever find common ground with this right-wing/left-wing crazy (gotta love how our ego exaggerates)!

If there is something I want to transform about myself it is this reaction.  I want to see myself have these snap judgments and be able to take a time-out to pray for God to heal my thoughts and help me see what’s real.  In reality we all just want the same basic things.  We want to feel safe and loved.  It doesn’t matter what your political party affiliation is.  The negative reactions about our differences come from fear and that fear is used so well in politics to divide us, even from those we respect and love.

More and more these days I am finding friends on the other side of the fence whom I have so much in common with.  I am better for having them in my life and hope that in the future my political allegiances never keep me from connecting with people like these smart and loving ones I already know!

*A note to my FB friend if she is reading*

I hope I didn’t offend you by paraphrasing you here.  Thank you for inspiring me to look within at my own reactions.

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Caren’s Click

I met Caren through the Owning Pink Posse and more specifically through Megan Harner’s “Journey to Health” blog.  We connected and cheered each other on in our spiritual and healthful paths.  In the following Caren shares how her “sexy journey” led to a big realization about what she really wants out of relationships and life. You can read more from Caren at her website The Perceptive Woman.

A Different Kind of Sexual Awakening

I don’t remember when I first discovered I was a sexual person perhaps it goes so far back that my forty-six year old brain has tucked it away for safe keeping. Suffice to say, I learned at an early age how to use my looks and sexuality to get what I wanted, or so I thought. I have been defining myself by my sexuality for years. Never really looking for love but more for the relationship or encounter of the moment was how I lived my life. I dated but the ultimate result ended up being a very hot sexual relationship more than a meaningful, mindful one.

I can remember being on an airplane in my late thirties and reading a book with a political subject and having a man look at me and say, “YOU are reading that book?” As if to assume that me; with my big breasts, perfectly manicured toes, perfect hair and makeup, could not have a brain. At the time, I thought it was funny, giving me more reason to look at men as a game rather than a partnership.

I didn’t realize this was what I had been doing until, I saw something about an ex boyfriend on the internet. He and I had dated and could have gotten married. But he broke my heart and I never fully recovered. It was in that moment that I used my insecurities to give way to a lifestyle without love but filled with plenty of physical contact.

No longer was I looking for a relationship, that idea left me in my late twenties, I was more about casual dating. No man was going to get the best of me. I was not going to be hurt again. But it was the underlying current of the past that I finally realized why I was using sex as a means to find love. I let myself be defined by my circumstances at the ripe old age of twenty-one. My pattern went on for years and then as easily as it began, it stopped for a while. I was in a self imposed sexual drought. I put on weight so that no one would want me. I became best friends in the gay community and set out on a sexless road. That lifestyle came to a crashing halt several years ago when I met one of my latest ex-boyfriends.

He was a catalyst for me to be sexy and sexual again, but the reality was the pattern was about to repeat itself. After he and I dated for a short time, we decided to just be friends with benefits and so it went for another year. I finally had enough of him and embarked on internet dating, where I went on countless dates. I met so many men, but they just wanted to take me home. I didn’t go. I finally met someone online and embarked on a relationship that was not all about the sex. There were real feelings there.

So fast forward about two years and I have finally realized how much I allowed my sexuality to not be sacred. I put myself into that box and am now climbing out of it slowly. I no longer want to be seen as a sexual being, but a woman, with beauty and brains. I cringe at the men that look me up and down. I know men will be men and they are visual creatures but I have yet to come to terms with it.

What I have come to terms with, is me. I am a vibrant, beautiful, and yes, sexy woman. I am smart. Beauty, brains, and sexy all rolled into one. I have been fighting the system and not dressing the part of the sexy woman, going so far as to not do my hair or makeup, all in the name of hiding. But what I am realizing is that I am hiding from me. I am re-learning that sexy is about confidence not just sex. I can be sexy and smart and still be respected, not just by men, but by myself. It has been a re-birth of sorts for me to awaken to a new kind of sensual and sexiness. The kind of sexiness that is just for me and whomever I feel like sharing it with. I share it because I want to, not because I have a need to prove anything. I find my validation in other ways. Life is so much sweeter when you find what you have been searching for all along is inside you. I want that version of me to emerge. I will now only engage in the physical when it is for me and my partner. No hidden agenda, just love. This sexy woman is now looking for love in all the right places.

Incomplete Thoughts

I have three different blog posts floating through my head today.  I can’t seem to completely pull any of them together for a 500-1000 word post so I thought I’d just say a little about each.

The first thought is about privacy.  Facebook is such a freaky thing.  I’ll admit there was a time when I was really into celebrity blogs.  I visited Perez Hilton and Celebrity Baby Blog numerous times during the day.  Since I joined Facebook I rarely visit those sites.   Reading about people I know, knew, or hope to know seems to scratch that itch for me.  This week I’ve noticed a couple of cryptic status updates from folks.  They give away just enough information to make you go WAIT, WHAT?  They stir up a reaction.  Visiting the individual’s pages you see a line of people asking how they are and what’s going on.  I find myself wondering if it is better or worse that we have this public spotlight for our private matters.  On one hand you get lots of support, but is it real support?

Another issue on my mind is parent/child relationships.  In the novel I am currently writing the main character is 15 and very close with her father.  She talks to him and he listens, they respect each other, and sometimes they even act as if they are friends.    When I look around me at my husband, my friends, and the men in my church these are the kinds of fathers I see, ones who are generally interested in relating to their children.  But in response to my writing someone called the relationship weird.  So I’m wondering if I am just delusional.   Have we moved away from the “kids are to be seen and not heard” idea or not?  Is it possible for a girl to be friends with her dad or do I have some re-writing to do?

The last thought is how I’ve been a bit swallowed up.  I finally started writing this novel and it is all I can think about.  It sits in the back of my mind no matter what I am doing.  The Ray’s and White’s are demanding my attention.  I have a lot of mixed feelings on this.  On one hand it is fabulous because after a year of only writing blog posts and essays I am writing fiction again.  But it is also distracting me and I find myself losing track of my schedule, forgetting things, and neglecting healthy habits because my mind is elsewhere.  My vision of this project is exciting though.  I wonder if I can see it through.  Once it is complete I wonder what will become of it.  At writing group last night I was reminded of the work still left to do and the writing time I need but don’t have.  I have to admit, it’s frustrating and scary to think I may be traveling a path leading to a dead end, just one more book collecting cyber-dust on a shelf in my hard drive.

So that’s what’s on my mind today.  Just a few incomplete thoughts….

Thoughts on Marriage

This weekend we are going to a wedding.  It has me thinking about marriage.  Two nights ago we watched Revolutionary Road which was really a movie about marriage.  It was a very depressing movie about marriage actually.  The very last scene of the movie summed up the dark view perfectly.  In that scene an older couple is sitting in their living room.  The wife is talking away and the husband with the most miserable look on his face covertly turns off his hearing aid so he can’t hear a word she is saying.  The movie was set in the 50’s (I think) and the couples all just seem to have settled into lives without joy.  And the main characters certainly seem to blame each other for killing dreams and leading one another to a dull existence.  For a brief moment you think they are going to come together and turn things around, but in the end only one of them is willing to change and that change is actually quite tragic.

So that led me to even further think of marriage.  Of course I have come to believe that everything in your life is a reflection of your deepest beliefs about yourself and desires for your life.  Your ultimate partnership might be the biggest reflection of this.  Perhaps we truly chose people who “complete us,” people who have qualities that we would like to strengthen within ourselves or provide us with opportunities to fulfill roles we desire at a deep level.  I know that for me when I was younger I was very impulsive and struggled with this.  I often made decisions without thinking through the consequences.  I wanted to move past this.  It does not surprise me that in Mark I found one of the most thoughtful, careful people I’d ever met.   Over the years we have truly balanced one another out and I don’t even want to know where I’d be without him.

Marriage takes work and care though.  Sometimes, when challenges arise, we get so stubborn that we forget (or possibly aren’t even aware) it was us, ourselves that attracted these “teachers” into our lives.  In those moments we have a decision to make, we either become teachable or we remain “right.”  And that doesn’t even mean that we let our spouse give us a lecture or teach us a lesson, it means that we ask ourselves what we need to learn from the situation.  It may be that we need to learn to let go of the small things or love ourselves in the way we long to be loved by others.

I have a friend who says that there are three stages of marriage.  You may experience them with 3 different people, or they may all be with one.  However it looks, you get to phases in your life where you grow and change.  At that point you make a decision to grow together or apart.  I believe your attitude has more to do with this than anything.  I think stepping back and viewing the partnership through a wider lens can help.  From that viewpoint you can see the positives instead of honing in on the challenges.  You can also begin to question yourself about what you need to learn in order to be joy-filled!

My wish for my friends is that as they embark on this journey and experience the ebb and flow of their lives together that they will not lose sight of the big picture.  I hope they always see the silver lining in every challenge and the best in one another.  I hope they will choose happiness over being right and try to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

Love Too Much?

I was reading a discussion in a forum recently and the topic was “Can you love too much?”  There were a couple of comments from people who expressed how they had relationships where they did love too much and it broke their hearts.  They had given so much of themselves and received very little.  The result was they had closed up and tried to keep themselves from loving.

My first thought after reading was that perhaps the giving didn’t come from a place of true and unconditional love.  I myself have been guilty of giving in order to get a place in good standing with another person.  I specifically remember doing this with my mother-in-law when we first met.  I wanted her to like me so that she would encourage Mark to marry me.  For a lot of years I kept an inward scorecard where I’d tally up all the “super-wifey” things I did and if Mark ever complained I’d go through the list reminding him how lucky he was to have me.  I love him and have always loved him but that was not the way that I expressed it.  In those moments more than anything I was expressing my insecurity.

I think that “loving too much” is a brilliant way to live, but it must be unconditional love.  I have set the intention to love this way.  A perfect example of this kind of love is what you experience as a parent to a newborn.  The baby cries in the middle of the night, you get out of bed and feed them.  Months (or years) later when the child is sleeping through the night you barely remember the hours of sleep that you lost on their behalf.  You would never expect your child to pay you back for this love, you give it without conditions.

To receive you must give.  Too often we have a picture in our mind of the kind of love we’d like to experience.  We think of the ways a person could change or the things they could do for us to prove their love.  When they don’t meet our expectations we decide we have loved them too much.  We have given so much of ourselves and have received nothing.  In reality we have probably experienced the exact equivalent of what we’ve given through some other source.  Maybe our best friend surprised us with a special spa day or our parents came for an unexpected birthday visit.  But since the love didn’t come from the person whom our love was bestowed upon, we feel unloved, broken-hearted, and worthless.

The best way to experience true love is to give up your expectations of how it will come back to you.  Look for the moments when you heart sings and embrace them.  Love because it feels amazing to love.  It really all does come from inside of you, the minute that you close up because someone has let you down is the minute you close off the flow of love that you can experience.

So yes, I believe you can and should love too much.  If we all loved too much and without conditions the world would be a beautiful place.

Rebecca’s Click

Rebecca found me and my blog through Twitter.  After discovering my request, she sent me the following click story that I think is a great example of a moment when something clicks and you make a change.  If you are interested in reading more from Rebecca or connecting with her, those links are provided at the end of her click.

I was in love with a guy. He was great. We connected on a level that I’d never connected with anyone before. I think it was maybe because we were both writers and both passionate about the same things. He was eccentric and odd. For a while, it was like being with your best friend in the whole world. Then it gradually changed. He would get depressed a lot. When he was depressed, he would take it out on me. Not physically, you understand, but verbally. I didn’t realise until later quite how much it had drained me over the years. I would just let him yell at me until he couldn’t yell any more. And when he couldn’t yell any more, we would talk out whatever it was that was upsetting him or stressing him out. Quite a lot of the time, there was nothing that I could do about it but listen. It went on for quite a while like this. Sometimes he would even get angry at me because I wouldn’t yell back. I didn’t really see the point in yelling back.

One day, he told me he had leukemia. Of course, this meant he went off the rails with his stress and everything else. It yo-yoed back and forth. And all I did was worry about him.  By that point, I was miserable and terrified of losing him. Every time he screamed at me, he crawled back hours later with his apologies. And every time he apologised I would just accept it.

It was shortly after my birthday when he told me that he didn’t love me any more. Except, that it wasn’t just that… He didn’t just say he didn’t love me any more. He said that he didn’t think he had ever loved me. Then he asked to be friends. Stupidly, I thought that I should. After all, I didn’t want to lose my best friend as well. And I tried. I tried really hard to be his friend, but he made it really difficult to do that. He would say things caustically that would hurt and then he would ask me why I was being off with him.

How else was I supposed to be with him?

We ended up not talking to each other, mostly because I couldn’t handle the pressure he was putting on me to be civil whilst he refused to budge. It was a really difficult situation.

A couple of months later, I was still desperately unhappy. I got in the house to catch lunch before I left again and found a parcel waiting for me. A friend had offered to send me two books that I was interested in reading. She’d finished them and said that it would be nice to share them with me. Since we live so far apart, the post was the easiest option to send me the copies. I picked both up and glanced at the blurbs. I was attracted to them both, but, for whatever reason, I was drawn to one of the other two books that my friend had also sent. According to her, she hadn’t intended to send the book at all, but when she’d been placing the others in the box it had seemed right to out that in too. It wasn’t the kind of book that I would normally pick up, either. If I’d seen it on a shelf, I would probably have walked straight past it.

Nevertheless, I opened the first page and started reading. The story was about a girl who went to stay with her cousins when a war broke out. The girl falls in love with one of her male cousins and for a time they’re really close and in love. Then this war comes to their house and they end up getting separated. The protagonist is taken away with the boy’s sister and they strive to get back to the house. Lots of things happen to them in between then and when they reach the house. The boy isn’t there when they get there and the protagonist’s father calls the house. She’s put on one of the first flights back to America when the airports are reopened. She saves for years to go back to the house. When she goes back, she finds the cousin she fell in love with, but he has withdrawn into himself because of something that happened in the war and he refuses to acknowledge her. He’d come to believe that she didn’t love him because she hadn’t found him. The book ends with her staying to tend the flowers in his garden because he seems only to enjoy them. It’s called How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff if you ever wanted to read it.

My point is that if it wasn’t for reading that book, I would have continued to be miserable and to withdraw in the same way that the boy in the book had. It also made me realise that if he ever had really loved me, then he would have strived to be with me like the protagonist had and that I needed to let it go, even if it would take time. Somehow, reading that book just made sense of what I’d been through. Being with him had been like fighting a never ending battle because I’d been so emotionally floored.  The book made me feel as if it was peace time and the sun had come out to warm me back up. And, after a while, it managed to.

That’s not to say that I will ever forget him, but I found something that made it easier to accept things as they were.

Here are the places you can find Rebecca and her writing…

Lessons From Benjamin Button

We watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the other night.  I was very moved by it, on the edge of my seat despite it’s 2 hour and 45 minute duration.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I should probably say *spoiler alert*.

The main character, Benjamin, is born a decrepit (harsh, but probably the best word for it), little old man.  His mother dies in childbirth and his father, horrified by his appearance, abandons him on the steps of the local Nursing Home.   Queenie, takes him in and raises him amongst the residents, assuming he has a very short time to live.  Over the years he, of course, grows younger instead of older (at least on the outside).  In his old man’s body he strikes up a friendship with a young girl named Daisy.  He and Daisy connect because they are actually nearly the same age.  It is this relationship that is the foundation of the movie.  Their outer appearances place each of them in categories that keep them separate.  It is only when they’ve each faced tremendous loss that they are brought back together again.  These years together are the ones in which their “ages” match.  But the different directions they are traveling loom over them and eventually Benjamin leaves so that Daisy will not have to care for him as a child.  As fate would have it a little boy, in the beginning stages of dementia, ends up back at the Nursing Home and Daisy is called.  She cares for him as he returns to infancy.

Throughout the movie you love Benjamin.  He is different and faces challenges, but has a beautiful soul.  You want him to be accepted and understood.  Then there is Daisy and she is just so very human.  I got angry at her, but probably because I could relate to her in ways.  She loved him but chose to move on without him.  It took a tragedy that ruined her career to bring her home to him.  Once with him, she redeemed herself and unselfishly chose to let him go and eventually take care of him at the end of his life.

The main theme in this movie was Death…but not just death as death, but death as change.  Benjamin grows up in a world filled with death (a nursing home where residents go at the end of their lives), and because of his uniqueness always has the threat of death in the shadows.  He learns early on that nothing is constant, everything is in motion and you can’t stop time.  One of my favorite quotes from the movie that speaks to the theme is from the character who teaches him to play the piano.  She says: “Benjamin, we’re meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?” Death teaches us to stop taking life for granted.  In the death of a relationship we learn the gifts that were given us by the person we lost.

There was so much more to this movie.  It was thick,  full of layers and life lessons.  It showed the reality of people…that sometimes they are exactly who they say they are and sometimes what we think we know is very far from the truth of them.  It put a spotlight on relationships and the fact that none of them last forever.  It illustrated fate and the great production we’re all a part of, every action and line matters.  It reminded me of the opportunities that life provides and how it is up to each of us to take them or leave them.

I’ll leave you with a few memorable quotes:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” -Benjamin Button

“You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.” -Captain Mike

“Your life is defined by its opportunities… even the ones you miss.” -Benjamin Button

“Sometimes we’re on a collision course, and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or by design, there’s not a thing we can do about it.” -BB

“I promise you, I’ll never lose myself to self-pity again.” -Daisy

“You’ll see little man, plenty of times you be alone. You different like us, it’s gonna be that way. But I tell you a little secret I find out. We know we alone. Fat people, skinny people, tall people, white people… they just as alone as us… but they scared shitless.” -Ngunda Oti