Thursday, July 26, 2012

More Than Amazing!

As those that have been following my posts know, I've had a tough year when it comes to my career. Finally.... FINALLY... the job I was offered in May started in July. For the last month I've been doing some of the most rewarding work I'd ever hoped to be able to do. I've become a hospice RN.

Today I made a difference... and that makes all the difference. It's such a pleasure and honor to be allowed and accepted into someone's life during a time of change and perhaps, crisis. I love that I've been given the power to make a difference and that something I do or say could ease someone's journey.

Every day I learn something new and get to use my talents and skills to the maximum. I work with some of the most amazingly kind, compassionate, intelligent and giving people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I'm so very, very proud that I get to say that I'm part of their team!

"You may be the only good thing someone experiences today." - Unknown

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being Conscious

I had a conversation with a guy at breakfast this morning about relationships. He is struggling with finding someone that he desires sexually while still having a mental connection with that person. I think that's a challenge for many that are looking for deeper meaning and connection in their relationships. It's harder to find that person that you have a connection with than the movies or books make it seem. But, that's not what this post is about... This post is about what you do after finding that connection.

Richard Bach's words provide some of my greatest inspirations. He has moved me and at times, inspired me to simply keep breathing. There is a quote from the movie, Shadowlands, that goes something along the lines of "we read to know that we are not alone." Whenever I pick up one of his works, I am reminded that I am not alone and that there are like-minded individuals out there. I have had the great pleasure of being able to hear him speak on two different occasions. One was at a book signing where he showed up an hour early and had an impromptu conversation with those of us who had gotten in line hours earlier. It's one of my very favorite memories. The other was at a seminar he was giving about spirituality. It was at this event that he spoke about soulmates.

In Richard Bach's early works, he has a relationship with with a woman named, Leslie Parrish-Bach. Their start is, well, rough. He talks about that in his book called, The Bridge Across Forever. You meet them as a couple again in One and Running From Safety. They didn't always have an easy time of it. They have differences of opinion and different ways of looking at and processing the world. But they worked at staying connected; and seeing each others authentic selves. They were an inspiration to me. Then, years later (after the book signing but before the seminar), a little book came out that gave me an upset stomach when I read it. It wasn't obvious but I had the distinct impression that they were no longer together. I was devastated. It felt like my own parents divorcing all over again. I felt angry at him for deceiving me, for assisting in my belief that it was possible to meet someone and make a relationship work. I felt betrayed by him and my own hopes. So, when I met him at the seminar, I was still a little bitter and confused. When it came time for open questions, I ask him what happened. In a nutshell, here was his response (paraphrased, and I'm sure, not nearly as beautifully as his original words, but you'll get the meaning): When you meet a "soulmate" or someone that you have a connection with, it's like looking in a mirror. If you allow other things to cloud that mirror, then you lose that connection. You stop seeing that person for who they are and what they need and without that, the bond is loosened.

In other words, or rather, how his words rolled around like marbles in my head and what I ultimately took away from it was this: When we meet someone that we're connected to, however you want to define it, it's like looking in the mirror and we see the best and worst of ourselves. Ideally, we see the best and we want to strive to be more than ourselves or more than we are in that moment - not because it's demanded or manipulated - but because we suddenly have the foundation and freedom to reach for something higher than we can reach on our own. We're all human and we all make mistakes but if we're being our authentic selves in those moments and in that dynamic, and we're looking at our authentic partner just exactly as they are without the desire to mold or change them into something we'd prefer, then we are maintaining that connection. We are nurturing that relationship and not allowing the "clouds" (in whatever form they take: another person, old childhood tapes, children, money, etc.) to stop us from staying connected. It takes work but if that connection is conscious and authentic, then it shouldn't be a hardship. I imagine that it would look more like an adventure in exploration.

Last December a friend sent me an email from an article that she had found (she didn't provide a link but if you're intrigued, email me and I'll be happy to forward to you what I have) that talked about having an authentic, conscious relationship with another person. The article basically says that too often we have too many "people" involved in our relationship - when, by definition, a relationship is about and between two people. We bring in our parents, our churches, our past partners and sometimes, actual physical people. In those situations, it's hard, if not impossible, to be our authentic selves and until we're conscious of how those previous and current relationships play a part in the dynamic that is our primary focus, we will never reach a state of true intimacy. The article really struck a chord with me. The basic point of it was not that you'll ever completely get rid of those influences because that's not possible, but instead, to first become aware of their influence and how they manifest in your life and then to find someone that allows you to look to them for support and help, not in order to be rescued; to be a complete, whole person to their complete, whole person. It's about being conscious.

So, back to my breakfast conversation, he was saying that his ex wanted him to change, when he had felt perfectly happy being exactly who he was. He had previously felt that he was "good enough" and had hoped to be accepted. I don't think he's alone in the world. On some level, all of us simply want to be accepted for ourselves, exactly as ourselves. But, I hear from many - both men and women - that they meet people who want to change them. I don't understand that, by the way. I've always entered a relationship thinking to myself - what you see is what you get and if you can't live with this now... then what's the point, really. I've never looked at a potential partner and thought "there's a flaw in this area, but "I'll work on that.""

Let me clarify, there is a difference between supporting someone in their own attempts at growth and change, provided it was something they originally wanted to do versus seeing a quality that you don't like and then attempting to mold it into something that you want it to be. There is also a difference in asking someone to treat you with respect by asking them not to do something that hurts or annoys you. For example, if your partner is always calling you "the little woman" in front of their friends and you don't like it, well, I think you're obligated to inform your partner that you don't like it. Then, if the behavior continues, it's really about respect - their respect and concern for you, which is a whole other issue.

There has recently been a Fifty Shades of Gray craze and although I love the book and found it highly entertaining, it does scare me a bit. There are HEAVY attempts and some success by Ana to change Mr. Gray from who he really is into what she wants him to be. He compromises giant chunks of himself in order to be with her and please her. It concerns me that popular culture finds this behavior to be so acceptable. In fact, when I was discussing this very fact with a group of women, one woman became very annoyed with me when I pointed out the unauthentic, unconscious, seriously co-dependent hehaviors in their dynamic. She jumped down my throat in order to inform me that I was completely wrong and that Mr. Gray wanted to change. Really?!?! Really?? Because he seemed pretty content to be exactly who he was and it wasn't until Ana began her emotional blackmail that he started his own morphing into something more desirable to her.

But I digress...

In my last relationship, I felt, for the first time in my life, many of the things that I mentioned above. It was theory tested and proven true. But, it takes two people to keep the mirror clear. It takes two people to feel the connection. And it absolutely takes two authentic people, who genuinely want that connection, to maintain a healthy relationship that's centered around growth, authenticity and consciousness. It's not always easy, and sometimes it can be a bit painful (growing usually is), but I still believe the effort and journey are worth it. I'm a complete person and I'm looking for someone who is also complete and who wants to share an adventure in exploration.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike "dating?" 

Most... okay... all of my dating originates from online sites. It's such an odd and mildly backward process. You learn from a basic profile more than you usually find out in a third... let alone a first... date. Plus, in the "traditional" method of meeting dates, you first establish that you have sexual chemistry and then see whether you're compatible. With online dating, that's backward... you first find out what you have in common and then determine whether there's sexual chemistry. So, why, you ask, do I not attempt to meet people in a traditional way?? Two reasons: 1) I don't usually hang out places where it's common to meet someone on a romantic basis and if some stranger just randomly approached me, I'd likely find that suspect; which brings me to 2) I never notice when someone is checking me out or hitting on me. Seriously, it requires a brick upside the head before I realize that someone might have an interest. Literally, my best friend once asked me during a walk, "Did you just see that guy leaning out his car window checking you out?" "uh, no..." She just shook her head. She and I joke that even if some guy plopped himself directly in front of me, wearing a bright neon sign saying "PICK ME!" I'd just put my head down and walk around him, muttering that "some people are so rude for standing in the middle of the path." For that reason, I suspect that I throw off some pretty decent "back off" vibes, even if unintentionally. And, really, that probably says more about my self-esteem than anything else.

But, back to my online issue. I'm one of those types that can usually find something to talk about with someone, and therefore, can create online "chemistry" with just about anyone. It used to be that I would spend a while exchanging emails but it reached a point where I'd think there was a connection and then I'd meet the man and end up completely disappointed, either because I was still intrigued but he wasn't... or... more likely, I just didn't feel like saying "yes!" I found myself in this cycle of hope and disappointment, which would ultimately wear me down and then I'd have to take a break from the whole online thing. In recent years, I determined that it was much better to meet early, before that faux connection was created. Now, I end up with a lot of first dates... but it doesn't change the fact that there is a serious lack of spark. I wonder some times if that's normal. I don't look at the world and think it's an all day humanity buffet. I'm pretty selective about who I chose to invite into my life and, honestly, don't often feel a sexual attraction to most men.

I've been on three dates in the last couple of weeks. All three of the men were perfectly nice but... nothin', nada. One was a mutual disinterest. I'm quite sure I didn't fit his idea of health and attractiveness, which is totally okay, I don't expect to be everyone's type. From a personality standpoint, we wouldn't have been a good fit. He gave wonderful hugs and was fabulously hairy... but... eh... I didn't even leave the date thinking that we could possibly be friends, let alone lovers. I've already talked about one of the men (see Kissing Frogs) who was perfectly nice and attractive but it wasn't there. We'd originally talked about being friends because we had very interesting conversations but then he decided he wouldn't be able to do that without hoping for more. We parted... but now he's texting. I'm going to have to confront the issue and point blank ask him if he's truly okay with being friends only.

Now, for the date I had last night... this situation is the one that I hate the most. He was so incredibly nice, sweetly nervous and would treat me like a queen. He would be anything that I want him to be. But, per my usual course, no spark. Nothing in me that wanted to say "yes!" I would give anything to be attracted to him. But (isn't there always a but?), I think he'd attempt to be what I want... and not who he is. I'm very attracted to strong men with strong personalities. Part of that attraction is likely about having a strong personality myself and I have no interest in dominating in a relationship. I want an equal partner... someone who can just be themselves with me, just as I want to just be myself with him. This guy has texted me three times since we parted last night. I don't want to hurt him but I'm afraid that he's going to invest too much hope in me and us as potential. From experience, I know how devastating it is when you're not on the same page as the person you're seeing and I won't do that to someone else. Ugh... Now I'm going to have to politely turn him down and that makes me feel like a total shit. Sure, all my friends tell me that I "shouldn't" feel that way and that I can't own their emotions. But, I do. I hate that I'm leaving hurt karma out there. I know how it feels to be rejected... to be the one who isn't "picked" and that sucks. It can, if you let it, erode the self-esteem and make you question your worth. I don't want to do that to someone else.

Why can't dating be simple? I'd give my right arm to realign the planets in such a way that we only meet people that we have a connection with and the potential for a mutual level of attraction and desire.. Dating exhausts me. But, I want to love again and since I haven't found another option, this appears to be the path that I need to take. So, I'll pull up my big girl panties and get online again.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Love of Learning

I started the new job in hospice today and it reminded me of how much I love learning.

I had a professor many moons ago who had a theory that people are at their most attractive in certain situations. Most of those situations are in places or circumstances where you can express a talent or passion. Perhaps it's the fact that you're doing something that you enjoy that lights you up inside... but perhaps not. I have a friend that I dated for a short time and I always found him most attractive when he was intensely concentrating on work. He'd be wearing glasses (which made him look so smart!) and utterly focused on whatever he was working on... HOT! For me, I'll never be hot in a bar... because it's not my element. I feel and then likely express that I feel like a piece of meat and I'm not even the prime, grade A choice cut. BUT... that's ok... because my element includes all those places where I get to use my brain... either through learning or teaching. Those are the moments when I light up inside. I can literally feel myself get a glow and I lean forward and open up. My brain is firing away and I just want to ask question after question. My voice holds excitement and I become expressive. I love looking around the room and listening to people talk, even knowing that I don't know or understand most of what they're talking about, just the knowledge that in 6 months or less, I'm going to be right there with them. Their knowledge will be familiar and mine. I love it. I've always loved learning. I loved school. It's part of why I love reading. There's something about the accumulation of knowledge that gives me a high.

I knew someone that used to say "Ask good questions." I totally agree. But I'm going to add... "be open to the unvarnished answer." It's not enough to ask the question... you need to be able to analyze and explore the answer, too.

I fell in love with two little girls last summer. It opened me to the idea of parenting or at least, being an example to future generations. If I could pass along just one thing... just one... it would be my love of learning. Learning opens up the world. I wouldn't trade THAT for anything.