A Rose is A Rose, Or Is It??

It’s universal. Tonigh002t I went to soak my tired body and brain in the jacuzzi and sitting on the side of the pool was a couple speaking Farsi…not a word of English, but it didn’t matter. I recognized a lovers’ quarrel. It was more than the tone of voice. I could see it in their eyes. Hers, pleading and irritated, his, utterly confused.  I could see him harden as she got more animated. I am sure that, like myself in days gone by, she thought if she just spoke louder he would get it. What she couldn’t understand was his retreat. She would say “he doesn’t understand.”

There is so much that we don’t know about each other as men and women trying to live and love together. If only we could come to know what is and isn’t possible and understand why, we might have a fighting chance of lasting more than 50% of the time. The dating sites would suffer, but the truth is that we are really not the object of their affection anyway. They need us and our desperation to draw advertisers and resell the data we so willingly give them. When I heard Sam Yeager, the creator of the “Love Algorithm” speak this past year, he admitted that his site, OKCupid was free for a reason…data, not dating.  This is not to say, however, that online dating is a bad idea. More on that later.

I watched tonight as they argued and I so felt for them. Most of my life was spent in relationships with men who were not good choices for me. What did I know about love? An alcoholic family doesn’t teach us much about healthy relationships, so I got my clues from the next best thing…Saturday matinees featuring Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and those dashing, charming men who could talk their way into any woman’s life. It was like watching a sequel to my own life, but without the Hollywood ending.

I could remember how many times I pleaded for what I thought I needed and deserved in order to be happy. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was responsible for my own happiness and that a relationship was the cream on top. I also had no idea about men and how they thought, what they felt or how differently they show us that they love us. I only remembered the movies… those rooms filled with roses, so  many there was no room to walk. What woman could ever forget how long Cary Grant waited atop the Empire State Building, keeping his promise to be there for her?

And now I see it. When I witness others who may not know what they need in order to find a lasting partnership, I want to break in, tell them what I know and learned from many years of not getting it right. And now, I have a chance to do that. But tonight, not speaking Farsi, I have to believe that this young couple will figure it out.

It Comes on Cat’s Feet

I was laying on my sofa the other night, exhausted and wanting to curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb. Starting a new business for an adrenaline-sensitive like myself means that sometimes at the end of the day, I am in that puddle as I call it. Thank God I learned years ago that it is healthy to whine to another woman to help right myself.

I have a friend in San Francisco that is my best whining buddy and she has an amazing capacity to know just what I need. Sometimes, it is simply to be allowed to go on and on until I turn into butter from chasing my own tail. And sometimes, she simply reminds me of one thing that I have forgotten because we do that when we are in the forest. Those trees just elude us.

“I don’t know how I got here”, I told her. I meant it, but she proceeded, as only she can, to march me through the steps that she witnessed over a short amount of time, to help me see not what was on the inside, but the concrete hard work I had done to “get here”.  There was more to it than that, and that was the deeper question I asked myself.

Sometimes we want to change something about ourselves, something that gets in the way of our happiness. It might be our work, relationships with family members or friends, or something more subtle and undefinable, but that soul of ours pushes us, prods us, begs us, and at times takes her sweet hands off and just lets us flounder and flop like a fish out of water. Those are the hard times, the in-between times that can be agonizing.

For me, life’s greatest challenge has always been my love relationships with men. Because of what I do for work, I tend to look at my family history as the culprit, and perhaps it is. As we go through  the ups and downs of relationships however, it ceases to matter what caused the struggle. We simply want to heal it so we can have the love that matters so much in our lives.

The answers come on cat’s feet, in the most circuitous pattern with side roads and detours along the way. They ride on invisible horses, and sometimes the messages come through lyrics and music, poetry, on a walk, while watching a movie…who knows how we get those pieces of the puzzle? One day, something happens “to” us and we realize we have changed something and it is deep and lasting. There is no going back. And we say to ourselves or a friend, “How did I get here?”

But, let’s not forget to give ourselves credit for the journey. We have worked hard, read the books that gave us new insights, written page after page in our journals, gone to therapy, cried out eyes out, spent lonely Friday nights talking to our girlfriends, observed others and been curious and conscious. We have, as my friend reminded me, done a “ton of work” to get here. We are here because change happens when we are not hyper-vigilantly watching. Much like my Daddy used to say on Christmas Eve, “Donna, if you stay awake and wait for Santa Claus, he won’t come. He only comes when you are sleeping.”

Although we never know when the shifts happen, what we can know for certain is if we are curious, conscious and awake to life, it surely will come, perhaps on cats feet and while we sleep, but it will come.  And when it does, remember to thank those friends who listened, the bright minds who wrote those books, and whatever allows us to sleep so that Santa can come.

The Guru is YOU!

Pain and discomfort create change in our lives. Don’t let anyone sell you a book, a “free” webinar or any product that promises, declares, or even suggests that change will occur after you read, attend and pay your hard-earned money to purchase them.

While purveyors of products-as-change agents float around the Universe and the internet “visioning”, “co-creating”, “allowing”, “attracting” and “embracing”, you’ll be tempted to jump in with both feet because you want to believe that they hold the answers to your pain and struggle. After all, they sound so much more peaceful, centered, in harmony, “blissed” and blessed than you feel at the moment. Why? Because you just lost your job, moved across the country with your fifth grader to single parent him while you struggle to find work. Maybe you have a job and though the sign in front of the building doesn’t say “Morgue”, that’s how it feels to you every morning.

The search for meaning, worth and even a slice of something creative comes with you every day, tucked gently inside your hope. By noon you know what powerless feels like. You’d like to turn in your restroom key, to hell with the gold watch or even the pension. You’ll settle for an hour of joy and some body memories of how you used to smile more.

And then the real reason we don’t change things comes alone. Sounds like this…

I can’t do that!”, “I need the health insurance.”, “This really isn’t that bad.”, “I only have ten more years before I am vested.”, “Oh my God, quit my job?!”. And even if you were to shush these voices, like a battalion of Civil War soldiers marching across the open fields, more and more voices in your chorus await with, “Who do you think you are?”, “This was good enough for your father, and it is good enough for you.”, “Work is hard, so what do you expect?”. One line after the other moves toward that big courageous you, the one that just read the latest book on How to:

1.  find your soulmate

2.  find a career after 60

3.  find happiness after cancer

4.  make love after 70

The fact is that fear is what must be moved before we can act. And what gets us unstuck when we are mired in fear of moving forward?  There must either be so much pain in where we are currently…more pain than fear…or we must really believe we will die if we stay stuck where we are, not literally but death to our Soul. What finally creates the impetus to change our lives? Stay tuned…

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