relationships

My Parents’ Visit

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My parents came to visit me a little while ago. They have always been great about coming to see me wherever I live. First, it was Sudbury, then High Level, and now Fort Simpson. They enjoy seeing the place I live and I think they enjoy hearing me ramble on as I give them the tour, sharing whatever local info I know, and telling them about the people I have met and the attitudes I have noticed. My parents are some pretty adventurous people! Don’t let the fact that they’ve lived in the same place for over 40 years fool you!

The instant I said hello to them and gave them each hugs, I felt like I was home. It was an interesting feeling — I felt at ease, like I could finally be myself. I had not noticed not being myself, but I guess I had pretenses and masks I was using. I guess we all do, and I realize how lucky I am to have such an awesome relationship with my parents.

I love them, of course, but it’s more than that. They are neat people. I like hanging around them. They have interests and hobbies, quirks and neat personalities. My mom likes to collect rocks from places she goes. My dad jokes about drinking Coke or Pepsi, calling it “the hard stuff,” and now his favourite is Dr. Pepper. Both like to read, albeit in totally different genres. Like me, my dad likes true stories, especially stories of pioneers, explorers and wildlife. My mom, surprisingly, likes crime fiction — the more suspense, the better! Mom is doing pretty well with technology, but like me, isn’t overly keen on it just for the sake of new technology. My dad pretty much stays away from the computer, which I understand. When they arrived, they were pretty tired from the crazy week leading up to their holiday, so we all had a nice, long nap in the afternoon. Man, I love napping! And so do they. Both of them have great senses of humour, and they even listen to my opinion on things and sometimes ask for my advice. They aren’t afraid to turn things on their side and look at them in a new way.

In so many ways, I am like them! I am unquestionably their daughter — like a hybrid between the two of them. I love a lot of the same things they love. I do all sorts of things the same way they do — from how I keep my recycling, to organizing my kitchen cupboards, to how I think about money. I suspect a lot of the similarities are genetic, but of course we have a lifetime of shared experiences, too. Perhaps it was our religion when I was growing up that taught us not to believe everything we hear or conform to the crowd. We can talk farm stuff, because we all “get it.” Try agricultural analogies with city people, and it’s like making Jesus references in a room full of tribal Africans. Even though my personal development has taken me down a different path, we still relate amazingly well.

I think what it boils down to is that everyone expects people to act like they do. One friend of mine brings me newspapers, not because I love newspapers, but because he does. Some people are rude because they expect rude behaviour (it’s great fun to be polite to them and throw them off their game). My parents expect me to be like them and I am, so there’s an amazing synergy. When we communicate, we intuitively understand each other. We can also spend time together without words. It’s incredibly special, something that only happens with friends after a lot of time together.

I am so amazingly lucky to have this relationship of respect, love and friendship with my parents. If I could show them how I feel, I would… and I guess I do. Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll “get it.” And then you can print it out for Dad so he can read it, too.

Science Doesn’t Have All the Answers

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I love science. I even have a T-shirt that says “Eat. Sleep. Explore Science.” Mind you, I haven’t worn it in a while, but still, it expresses a certain sentiment.

The other day, I had a revelation. It’s a pretty big shift from that traditional “loving science” paradigm. That revelation is

Science is overanalyzing the one you love.

If you get it, feel free to click on to some other website now, perhaps one of the links to the right. If you don’t immediately get it, let me explain what I mean.

Science is great, but it is a lot of analyzing. It’s all left-brain. I think there are a few scientists out there using both hemispheres, but on the whole, it’s detached, objective and logical. Well, except when scientists get attached to a theory and then ignore evidence to the contrary of that theory, which happens more than we know, I think. But I digress.

The problem with living in the left brain is that we miss all the beauty, the art, the loveliness of the thing we are studying. We can measure the heck out of Mother Earth, and how will that help? I wonder if we could make more of a difference by just loving her?

Any happily married man will tell you — analyzing his wife, especially to her face, is not a good idea. It is not going to help her or their relationship. But loving her, and not focusing on anything besides the things that he likes about her makes all the difference. Could it be the same with Mother Earth?

I think we may already have our answer. If you look at the science that has been done on our planet, most of the time, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for our future. But when I am actually out on the planet, in the wilderness enjoying myself and loving it — loving the Earth — I can see nothing wrong with it. I don’t see global warming. I don’t see any of the other myriad of problems the scientists say Mother Earth has. Perhaps this is just another example of the Law of Attraction at work, I don’t know. I want to see beauty, I focus on joy, so that’s what I get. Or, maybe I am just putting my head in the sand. But I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all did it my way, and gave less power to science?

And I’m not saying science is all bad. But if you go looking for problems, you will find them. I look for beauty instead (all right-brainy now, I know)!

What You Can Learn From Being Alone

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You are not who you think you are… no one is. With no distractions, when you are truly alone with yourself, who are you?

And how can you find this out? Be alone. When I went on my big kayak trip last summer, I really started to feel like I was truly being myself on the 4th day. Something in me shifted. I became… genuine. Not in the way we usually mean genuine, more like I stopped the charade, dropped the pretenses. Why would I have pretenses with myself? I don’t know. All I know is that I felt a shift. Try spending at least 3 or 4 days completely alone, with no outside contact of any kind. You’ll get closer to meeting your true self.

But why bother? Why “meet myself?” Well, an interesting thing happens when you spend time by yourself — when you really connect with yourself and your intuition — and then reestablish contact with those closest to you (boy/girlfriend, husband/wife, etc). At the moment you see him/her, you will feel another shift. This time it is the shift that occurs when you put the persona or pretenses back on, and when you do so, if you pay attention, you can learn a great deal about yourself and your relationships.

That’s all I really want to say about that. I don’t want to give you ideas about what you might feel. You will get an insight, I promise, if you stay in the present.

Single flower

I’ve been on my own all weekend. My husband is away on a wilderness skidoo Ranger exercise, so I’ve been on my own since Friday morning. And I feel different. I can, once again, tell that a pretense has fallen away. It’s a good feeling! I wonder if I am enjoying it so much because I am an introvert and I’m not getting enough time alone? It is strange — I feel comfortable when Darren is around, yet when I am alone, I feel totally at ease. I’m getting lots of insight about why this is, but I don’t want to share it and spoil or taint whatever insight you might get into your relationships.

Let’s just say that you can’t truly be yourself with another person until you know who your true self is.

Note: I realize that many of you can’t just take 3 or 4 days off to perform this experiment. You can try a shorter period of time — 1 day might be enough. You can try imagining or meditating being alone, if there is no other way. You don’t have to go out into the wilderness as I did, but getting away from your usual scene would be helpful — going on a trip, even if it isn’t very far away — and avoiding television or other media. Then, be very alert to how you feel when you reconnect with your significant other.

If anyone else has ever experienced a similar shift, I’d love to hear about it! Leave comments!

Related Posts: Identity Crisis of a Magical Pixie

Abraham-Hicks clip that rocked my world about relationships

Ramifications

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For the size of our brains, we really don’t think very much, do we?!? :) Sometimes we think we have a situation all figured out, but we really don’t!

Interpersonal stuff can be so tricky, or is it just me? For example, I have a friend, let’s call her “Susan,” who has a boss who is becoming increasingly more controlling, questioning, and untrusting. When this started, her first response was to be a little angry, frustrated and resist. Don’t we all want to resist being controlled?! One day, the boss demanded she fill in timesheets to track what she did every hour she worked. She began taking responsibilities away from Susan, saying “it wasn’t her job to do,” even though she’d been doing those things very well for quite a while. Then, the boss wanted Susan to write a report to summarize what she’d been doing, so all the managers could review it at a monthly meeting! Susan felt like her word wasn’t good enough, that she wasn’t being trusted. It’s not like she was a slacker, wasting time in the coffee room all day — she didn’t even take breaks!

Luckily, my friend’s capacity for anger and frustration ran out. She decided that if they wanted more reports, fine. If they wanted to question her, fine, she’d answer. She knew she wasn’t doing anything wrong, and if she had to prove it, fine. So far, things seem to be settling down, largely because she has changed her own attitude to the situation.

But she could have had a very different response. What if she had been snarky (a temptation, for sure) and put on the daily reports that she spent 2 hours doing reports for the boss! She might have thought this very clever, a little “dig” to point out the boss’ ridiculousness. But the boss could have reacted very badly, saying “that simple, one-page report took you 2 hours?!?” There could have been many ramifications — being sent for time management training, having one-on-one meetings to review how the reports are to be done, or just more hostilities between them, as the power struggle intensified. That’s what it started to feel like — a power struggle of epic proportions! Okay, not really epic, but do you see how we can blow things out of proportion? Susan has done a great job thinking and then responding, although it hasn’t been easy.


From dictionary.com:  Ram•i•fi•ca•tion   n.  A development or consequence growing out of and sometimes complicating a problem, plan, or statement: the ramifications of a court decision.


We seem to get in our worst trouble when either A) we don’t take the time to think before responding (just reacting) or B) we don’t know as much about a situation as we think we do (just plain ignorance). For example, people get angry at the big oil and gas companies for what they are doing to the environment. “We need to shut them down,” they say. I love nature, and I agree with the sentiment, but what are the ramifications of shutting down gas and oil companies overnight? Could you heat your house? Drive your car? How would you eat — do your groceries arrive at the store via truck, or via electric train? See what I mean? Very few of us are are really well-informed, and have taken the time to look at an issue from many sides and see all the consequences of our proposed solution.

I came across a blog today, about choosing not to have children. There were many comments on it, and I shared it with Darren and we spent a while reading some other blogs and sites we found. Some people only see the issue from one side, and are very opinionated! I’ve had a few thoughts on it myself, but I think this is the key: have kids, or don’t — but think about what you’re doing and decide. Don’t just have them because it’s expected of you, because everyone thinks you should, or accidentally. Did you forget the ramifications of having sex?

Some people get into huge arguments with friends or family members about the child-bearing issue. It’s always harder to have a calm discussion — thinking before responding — when we are emotionally charged or attached to a situation or issue. With my husband, sometimes I just talk without thinking — ack! If only I took 3 seconds to breathe and think, instead of immediately responding! Why do conversations have to be so rapid-fire? Am I really in that much of a hurry? Yes. No. Of course. Come here. Talk to me! Darren thinks before speaking way more than I do, and sometimes I get frustrated when he takes so long to respond! Talk to me, Goose! (If you get that reference, you rock!)  :)

Perhaps if I practiced more of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment, it would be easier. As I understand it, this doesn’t mean I’m not attached to my husband (don’t care about him), it means I am not attached to a certain outcome of our discussions — intensely needing him to agree with me, for example. We can agree to disagree, and I can accept and respect that he has his own perspective and it’s every bit as valid as mine. I think non-attachment is powerful, but I don’t know enough about it to say more now!

Now that I think of it, words have the most ramifications of any of the daily, ordinary things we do. They can make or break a relationship, change our attitude, and even change our world.


On a personal note, I have been working hard on publishing my book lately! I’ve been in conversation with an artist about the illustrations I need and I’m all over the lulu.com site, learning about how it all works and deciding on page sizes. Then I go into my publishing program and mess with page sizes, margins, fonts, and all that fun. It won’t be long now! I’ll keep you posted… :)

Emotional Jellyfish

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I should warn you straight off — I am very tired from midnight shifts and should be in bed sleeping, but I have been wanting to blog and for whatever reason, I felt the urge to do it right now!

I think there are two basic ways to approach the world, in particular, when it comes to emotional issues. When someone you care about has to talk to you about something uncomfortable, or one of you has hurt the other, you can take one of two stances: become a tank, or become a jellyfish. Let me explain.

You can choose to become a tank (as in, indestructible vehicle of war, not vessel for holding liquids!). You can choose to put up your strongest armour so that you are completely un-touchable, un-hurtable, impermeable, etc. Nothing the other person says will sink in, and you have the ultimate in defenses. You also, if you choose to, can go on the offensive; you can hurl the weapons of hurtful words, bring up past issues, or simply bulldoze over the other person by totally disrespecting them, making decisions for them as if they were a child, or making huge, gigantic assumptions about them so you don’t have to really get to know them. And you can thrive in your denial and ignorance — after all, your view is only out one small window in one small direction. This is what it means to be a tank.

jellyfishOr you can choose to be a jellyfish. You can be free-floating, allowing the emotional situation to surround you, and be in it. You aren’t defensive in any way, simply accept what the other person says, while taking in the full surroundings, including the temperature of the water (the spirit the words are said in). You aren’t mortally wounded by what the other person says or does, it sort of just bounces off you. But you are not in denial either, and have incredible clarity, presence and focus. This is what it means to be a jellyfish.

Now you may be thinking “ah-ha! Jellyfish have tentacles that sting, how come you haven’t talked about that?!?” Well, yes, they do. But these are used to kill their food, and if you’re eating someone close to you, you need more help than my simple analogy can give! :)  Or, we could say that even jellyfish have some form of defense, and also propulsion, so if you need to leave a situation that’s continually hurtful to you, to survive, do it. But you don’t actually have to be a tank to do it. You can be a jellyfish, and be in the reality of your situation, even if it’s something traumatic, and you will not die from it, but be stronger. Denial clouds your thinking, and it’s much better to just breathe deeply, stay present, and realize that you are surrounded and supported by a loving spiritual environment, like warm ocean waters. Get in the flow, breathe.

This analogy can work for life, work, or any conflict, difficult situation or relationship. Be a jellyfish, not a tank. You get to choose!

For an excellent podcast on the truth, denial and awareness, see Steve Pavlina’s page. Thanks, everybody.

Related posts: Letting Go and Trusting | Balancing Act

Danger Signs in a Relationship

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Have you ever been in a relationship and the person you were dating turned out to be something other than what you thought they were? They seemed romantic and passionate, for example, but that later turned into something else, something ugly? It is often the case, and many women find themselves in relationships that are unhealthy – and even violent – and they didn’t see it coming.

In my work (and volunteer work), I see a lot of domestic violence. It is more common than you think, and I have been thinking lately about how to help people see the signs – how can you tell someone is going to “go bad” later on? Well, wouldn’t you know it, Oprah did a show on it this week, so here are the top 5 signs identified by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (in the States). They are universal, and if you see any of these signs in your relationship, do not let yourself ignore them and if they are severe enough, get out as soon as you can. They are precursors, and often show that a relationship is headed for violence:

  1. Jealousy and possessiveness
  2. Controlling behavior
  3. Verbal abuse
  4. Threats to harm you, your family or your pet
  5. Isolation from friends and family

So, I suggest teaching this to your teenagers, especially girls, although I think that young men would also do well to avoid women who are jealous, controlling, verbally abusive, etc.

If you are in a relationship, make a special effort to periodically check your partner’s behaviour – before dating, after one week, after 2 weeks, after a month and so on. Be completely objective, and maybe ask a friend to keep an eye out for these signs, in case you can’t see them. We can be so blind! These signs can be hidden at first, sometimes, but will show up later on, as the abuser becomes more comfortable, or more insecure. And I use the term “abuser” not as a permanent label, but simply to say that the person is being abusive, and it is not right, not even once, not at all. No one deserves to be abused, be it emotional, verbal, or physical. Don’t feel shy about asking for help, either. You might be surprised at the sympathetic people you will find to help you through. If you aren’t comfortable talking to a family member or friend, or if they don’t know how to help, contact a women’s shelter, victim service unit, or abuse hotline near you.

Needs, Wants, Desires

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I’m almost finished reading “Undefended Love” by Jett Psaris and Marlena S. Lyons. It’s about learning how to love in relationships in a way that is not defensive (hence the title), but also about learning more about ourselves and being really happy, truly at peace, with all that we are.

Undefended Love

One of the chapters I read yesterday talked about a continuum of emotional needs: needs–wants–desires–preferences–no preference. We often feel desperate to have our needs met; like a hungry baby, we are screaming inside for someone or something to feed us, and we feel the need is urgent, like we’ll die without it! While we all have needs like this, many people (the authors’ survey said one-third) don’t know how to identify or put words to these needs. If we take time to connect with our needs and acknowledge them, we’ll find they don’t take over our lives like we think they will. On the other hand, some people are chasing their needs so intently, they are actually in relationship with their needs, not their significant other or themselves. We can learn to accept that firstly, we have needs, and then to accept whatever the need is and that we’re not going to die without it. When we face that we have a need, and that the need may not be met, but don’t let ourselves get caught up in any fear or panic that surfaces, we develop strength and courage to face more things and learn more things about ourselves! We can learn to comfort ourselves when we feel fear or desperation. We are stronger for having faced our need and the possibility of it not being met, and all the uncomfortable feelings that go along with it. The next step is to move towards wants.

A lot of us have been raised not to think about our wants. We were told (directly or indirectly) it was selfish and improper to do so. Or, we shut down our awareness of wants because they were denied so many times and we just couldn’t handle any more rejection. Again, if we give ourselves permission to want things, we feel freer. The key is to focus on wanting, not to get caught up in daydreams about what we are wanting, “what if” we get it, and whatever negative feelings that come along when we think we won’t get what we want (jealousy, frustration, anger). Just want! Want something, but don’t obsess over it, get greedy for it, judge yourself or get unhappy because you don’t have it. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it’s a way of getting out of denial about who we truly are and what’s going on in our minds. And as with needs, we grow when we experience want-and-not-having, without getting caught up in the feeling–let it pass. Like a child learning what “no” means, it’s not comfortable, but we gain perspective on the world. Maybe we can’t have everything we want in life, but life goes on!

Next comes desire. The author’s use of the word “desire” is not as I would use it, so I had to get used to that. To me, a desire is something you want a lot, almost as much as a “need.” However, in this book, they mean desire as something you would like but are not quite as attached to as a regular want. It’s something that is generative; rather than being based from a lack of something (like a need or want), it comes from a desire for something new. That made sense to me, and it is interesting to think about. What new, pleasant, happy thing would I like to have in my life?

When we have even less emotional attachment, we have preferences. And farther along, we accept everything that life has to offer, fully happy with our situation and everything in it, and we have no preferences. We’ll take what comes, and we’re completely content with our physical surroundings and completely accepting of ourselves. While it seems passive in one way, it’s exciting in another! Imagine striving for nothing, being totally content. That doesn’t mean nothing ever changes and we are stuck in the mother-of-all ruts. (A rut implies we’re in a bad situation and unable to get out.) We are open to growth and change, improvement and betterment, but we are also open to struggles, difficulties, and hard times. We know that everything happens for us, not whining about why something is happening to us. We are more alive, and totally grateful for everything that life is, just as it is, right now!

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I feel like I’ve been doing book reviews lately! On that note, I should mention that the writing style of the book made it a bit of a slow read for me, and it’s so packed with new concepts, I certainly didn’t breeze through it. I found I often had to put it down and think, and I also found some parts hard to follow, simply because the terminology and ideas were so different from anything I’d ever heard of. But if you’re ready to delve into some deep personality discovery, go beyond personality-based relationships, and learn how to be totally non-defensive with others, it’s excellent! :)