Category Archives: relationships

For the last time

B105CC8D-49F7-4FA1-A25C-C56D5F197860Yesterday I wore a sweater which definitely had seen better days. There were more than a couple of small, random holes (moths? burns?) that made it beyond repair. I almost took it off and discarded it, but instead made the decision to wear that sweater one last time, rationalizing that most of the damage would be difficult to detect without closer inspection. I didn’t expect anyone to be too near me anyway.

I paired my sweater with skinny jeans and a pair of flats with oversized bows that make me smile. It was a comfortable outfit that made me feel good and I garnered a couple of nice compliments from friends. When I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I could see what others had remarked upon – I did look pretty, despite the less than perfect state of my sweater.

At the end of my day, I undressed and looked over the sweater. There was no hope of making the fabric whole again, a fact that I understood and accepted. On the last day that my sweater would ever be worn, it was worn with awareness and appreciation for the way I felt when I was within it. I knew that I would never again wear that particular garment, but was consoled by the knowledge that I had worn the sh*t out of that black sweater for many years.  It had rewarded me with a last “hug,” along with a lesson to remember to be appreciative of the now.

Articles of clothing, time spent with loved ones, relationships – if you knew that it was the last time, would you do things differently? Is there a different level of honor that would be present if you were aware that you were never going to experience something ever again? Should there be?

 

 

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Processing

I’ve been on a Rolling Stones kick recently. Maybe it was that tribute band I went to see a couple of weeks ago at The Hangar. I listened to them all the way on my run today from home to Troy, where I met my neighbor at event and caught a ride home. It wasn’t the easiest run I‘ve ever taken and parts of the route were new and a little unnerving to me, but I don’t regret a step of it. It was a gift to be outdoors with the air on my skin and every scent encountered along the river pleasant.

I ran in South Troy for the first time, which was kind of cool since I had made a brief cameo just yesterday at my friend Mary’s birthday. You know, Mary Panza from South f’n Troy. She’s my oldest upstate friend and I was thrilled to attend her celebration yesterday and to give her a gift. Not just “a gift,” but the most perfect gift – one I had seen at Elissa Halloran’s and immediately knew it she belonged with Mary. 

Giving Mary to Mary was the perfect demonstration of how much more joyous it is to give than to receive. That is a true gift.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and it’s caused me to struggle with writing a bit. I’ve been purposefully keeping myself busy – attending events like Champagne on the Park and working extra nights, such as last Wednesday at the annual Troy Arts Center Gala. But, today, there was that run from Albany to Troy which gave me a long time to think things through and I believe I’m getting closer to being unstuck. At least for now.

Life is so unpredictable. Who really knows what’s next? With things in such a state of flux, is it even worthwhile to try to figure it the fuck out? Just keep running…

I’ve been examining how I’ve grown from situations I’ve faced, and have to admit that I just don’t yet have the necessary perspective to understand exactly what happened. I know I’ve changed and learned new things, but haven’t yet determined at what cost.

Taking the time to process stuff is critical. It’s comparable, I think, to pain management. You have to be aware of it, understand that you can’t hide from it and stay on top of it before it has a chance to overwhelm you. Eventually, though, you need to move forward with what comes next. This song just might help you with that.

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Questions about a well-lived life

How many times a week do you conclude that your day was one that felt as if you had lived it well? Once? Twice? Maybe more than that?

How do you personally define a day as “well-lived?” Is it measurable in some way? Is there a consistency in the components that come together to combine in a fashion that would satisfy your own criteria for well-lived?

I’ve been struggling. As a person with a pretty firm idea of how long life is (not long enough), my ability to tolerate accept witness loved ones who can’t seem to recognize and embrace the simple joys, daily miracles and random accomplishments that are present in most of our lives, is limited. Sometimes I just need to separate myself from people who do not appreciate the time they’ve been given.

How do I define a well-lived day? I’ll give you an example – on Saturday I raked up the backyard and filled three bags with leaves and yard debris, swept the deck and finally tossed a bunch of cracked flower pots, roasted some vegetables, took care of a few chores inside the house, played ball with Jeter, prepared and ate dinner with my family, went to work and took care of my guests with as much attention and competence as possible, came home and wound down with an episode of some HGTV show and a little ice cream and was in bed by midnight. To me, that felt like a day well-lived.

Was it exciting? Not particularly. Did I change the world? No, but my yard looks so much better and my deck is ready for sunshine and the plants I pre-ordered from my neighborhood association. Were there moments when I felt stressed or even melancholy? Of course, but my appreciation for the physical strength I possess which enables me to do outdoor and indoor maintenance overshadowed those instances. Would I have liked to simply remain at home or have gone out to socialize rather than go to work? Sure, but I do value the extra income and it provides me with the means to travel, something I absolutely love to do. Plus, I’m not great at going out solo. Believe it or not, I can be a little shy in social situations.

What made the day well-lived, to me, was the sense that I made good use of my time. It wasn’t even necessarily what I did with my minutes and hours, it’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t squander them or spend them doing things that didn’t give me satisfaction. The day in many ways was spent cultivating happiness – it makes me happy to have a tidy yard and a clean house and a fridge stocked with good food and guests who have enjoyed their own evening out because of, in part, my efforts. It was a good day.

How was your weekend? Did you live it well?

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(Not) Lost in translation

278790E3-7D3A-4AE8-9C22-6CA27AF25C5CAt work last night I saw something new – a rare occurrence when you’ve been a server for 35+ years. A couple, an Asian woman and white man who were dining, had a novel way of communicating with one another – an electronic universal translator. It really seemed to come in handy as they made modifications to dishes and ordered their meals, but I didn’t notice that they used it very much for actually speaking to one another. It made me wonder about how men and women might be able to utilize such a device when they speak the same “official” language, yet lack a common emotional language.

One of the biggest challenges in a romantic relationship is communication. Even though we live in a world with a dizzying array of means to communicate, it still seems as if males and females approach this exercise in very different ways. It might be unfair to generalize and assign characteristics by gender, but, in my 51  years on earth, I’ve learned a couple of things.

In my experience, men don’t often initiate conversations about topics which might be difficult to discuss. It’s kind of the way I am about household repairs – I try to ignore suspected problems (the dishwasher not cleaning plates thoroughly, for example) until they became too big of an issue to avoid any longer. It’s almost as if those fellas (and I) are hoping that the problem will somehow resolve itself without any attention. Of course, it doesn’t really work that way and instead of the glitch rectifying itself, the malfunction generally grows larger and results in an even greater problem. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it nonexistent, it just allows it to morph into something even more expensive to repair. My machine will help to prevent these kind of situations from occurring or , at the least, escalating..

If I were able to invent a male-female translator I would be sure to include a feature that measured levels of honesty. A relationship that lacks such a fundamental function will never provide a truly satisfying and healthy coupling. We all are guilty of lies of omission, I suppose, but a romantic connection between two should always include a sense of security when it comes to talking about tough subjects. More honesty eventually means more opportunities for creating a relationship that can provide a couple with the strength to stand up to the everyday challenges of life as a unit. Honesty can be scary, but lack of direct honesty is far more scary.

My prototype for a male-female translator would also come loaded with a function that demands that communication comes at regular intervals, i.e. there should be mandatory limits on allowing texts/emails/vms to go unanswered. Lines of communication corrode when they go unused and a lack of time devoted to one another will kill relationships faster than an iPhone battery dies. It isn’t realistic to expect a complete accord when it comes to communication styles, but leaving your loved one hanging for too long will create an unnecessarily adverse situation. My translator will be equipped with an electrical shock function that grows progressively more painful when one party fails to respond after a particular length of time or in the case of an accumulation of unanswered messages.

What have I failed to include? Additional features you’d like to add to my prototype?

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Two timing

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When you consider that I didn’t really own a car* until I was close to 30 years-old, the fact that I now own two cars seems kind of funny. While my initial plan had been to trade my Volvo in, I’m really glad that I was able to keep it. I’ve achieved a balance between the two vehicles, in terms of purpose, with the Mini being my commuter and road trip car and the Volvo being my errands, parking downtown and dog vehicle. It’s kind of cool – especially when owning two cars earns one the title of “baller”in the DelSo!

Switching between two vehicles, though, doesn’t come without challenges. For instance, the steering wheel controls for cruise control and the radio functions are on opposite sides of the steering wheel in my cars. This means I really need to check in mentally (probably not a bad idea when I’m driving, right?) when I’m looking to adjust volume or my speed. There’s also the perennial issue of my left foot looking for the clutch when I’m driving, which, I suppose, is better than not looking for the clutch. It’s all good.

It occurred to me last night that having two cars must be similar to dating more than one person. You have to stay on your toes to remember which companion likes Asian food and which prefers Italian. Who went to state school and who attended private university. Which one vacations at the beach and which one heads to the mountains to get away or any of the other infinite characteristics that define one person as being different from another.

To me, that’s way harder than becoming familiar with two cars. Which is why, I suppose, I’ve never been a good dater. How do folks casually date numerous people? I’m seriously not criticizing the practice at all, just curious. If you’re a serial dater, how do you do it? What are the positives? Do different companions serve different purposes? Help me out, friends. Maybe share your experiences about being in the driver’s seat when it comes to dating more than one person?

*I did purchase a used Volkswagen wagon in the late 80s for $200. It might have taken me 200 miles before dying on the side of Route 17. I don’t think that really counts.

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This indecision’s (done) bugging me

Sometimes decisions come: easy – eggs poached rather than scrambled, black boots instead of brown, while at other times the choices are far more challenging – like naming a child or choosing where to make your home. The really hard decisions, though, are the ones we don’t want to make, the ones we avoid because we don’t like the available options and are holding out for additional choices. Those, well those are the decisions that can haunt a person.

Recently I had to make one of those decisions.

It definitely was one of those really hard choices and more than anything I wanted the universe to tell me what to do. I had already given myself deadlines and conditions to be met and had created mental lists tallying the pluses and minuses of the situation. I was in turns optimistic, hopeful, sad and angry until I finally accepted that the position I was in unsustainable  because…

  • if you accept less than you want, then you get what you deserve
  • when you hold onto something that does not satisfy, your hands are full but your soul remains empty
  • it doesn’t matter how much you want something or how hard you work towards a goal if your efforts are not equally met
  • life is short and I can’t justify spending anymore of it being less than happy

Last night as I filled the tub with hot water, I reached for a bath bomb given to me by a friend. I couldn’t help but smile as I read the tag: Happiness.

Thanks, universe. I’ll take it.

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Get Happy

451D325D-8917-4814-B3FC-ABDA81880233Happy hap·py

adjective. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

synonyms:

cheerful, cheery, merry, joyful, jovial, jolly, jocular, gleeful, carefree, untroubled, delighted, smiling, beaming, grinning, in good spirits, in a good mood, lighthearted, pleased, contented, content, satisfied, gratified, buoyant, radiant, sunny, blithe, joyous, beatific; thrilled, elated, exhilarated, ecstatic, blissful, euphoric, overjoyed, exultant, rapturous, in seventh heaven, on cloud nine, walking on air, jumping for joy, jubilant;

Do you see how many synonyms there are for “Happy?” It’s almost like the Inuits and the number of words they have for “snow!” If there are so many words to describe the state of being happy, why are so many people unable to find their way there? Is happy simply unachievable for some? I just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know – being happy should be a fundamental life goal. Intention, decisions, actions…all of these should be predicated upon an outcome of being happy. Understanding that we only have “one precious life” and accepting that we are completely responsible for our own happiness, in my opinion, should be the foundation for all we do. While this may sound incredibly self-serving, it really isn’t. Our own individual happiness isn’t necessarily achieved independently, but that doesn’t mean it comes at another’s expense. Actually, positively impacting another’s happiness can be a major source of our own personal happiness, don’t you think?

But, don’t you dare sacrifice your own internal happiness for another’s. Read that again. Don’t do it. Why not? Because it is impossible to make someone happy. That’s on them, my friends. No matter how much you care for someone, how consistently you support them, how frequently you model positivity and radiate joy…none of it makes a bit of difference unless they’re committed to figuring out how to achieve their own happiness. Trust me.

So, focus on whatever brings you joy, live your life with honesty, celebrate the positive, let go of what does not serve you and be grateful for each day you’ve been given. And, if that isn’t enough to cultivate happiness in your heart and soul, reach out for help from any and all resources available.  Life is just too damn short to not be happy

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