My Response Matters: Love, Patience and Happiness Without Shaving My Head And Becoming a Buddhist


I might be going about this wrong…


The Moment

We all know those moments when it feels like our patience is being tested. Those moments when it seems like nothing good we’ve ever done has mattered and we are only being tested on that particular scenario. Time stands still and a crossroads unfolds before us. If we are evolved enough we will have multiple response options available in our minds within a hair of a second. We could choose the higher road of grace and peace. While other responses may be snarky, sarcastic, combative or defensive. Further still, we could walk away or not engage.

I’m not talking about the moments that you choose the road of grace, or you let it go and walk away. I’m talking about the moments when you really, really, REALLY feel like you want to snap back at someone. 

Don’t shrink or puff up, just stand your Sacred Ground – Brene Brown

My Response Matters

I’ve written a post about letting someone go, which was inspired by a post about fear and standing your sacred ground but that’s different. Those two are more about not shrinking and not running away. The flight of fight or flight. They were about standing up for your values, especially if someone is verbally attacking. 

This post is more about the fight part of fight or flight. That urge we have to hurl a bag of nickels at someone for a rude comment or passive aggressive statement. The more often you see them or the closer you are to them, the more likely a snarky, off-handed comment can immediately throw you in the ring. Sometimes walking away or taking a deep breathe can stop a knee jerk response, other times it can simple give you more time to calculate an equally disrespectful comment.

As an adult, in order to not launch into full attack mode, I trained myself to be less reactionary. That also meant I could harbor resentment or not set clear boundaries. So, I’ve become pretty versed in not shrinking and in standing my sacred ground. I’m not so good at resisting a well-flung-shit comment when someone else started it. Or atleast that’s my justification-they started it. I’m really good at squaring off and standing my ground. I’m really good at snarling back at someone or even holding a grudge (if it’s a setting where I can’t snap back) IF I felt they were wrong. That default served me well in my younger years, when I was surrounded by a different group of people. People that I had to puff up around, appearing bigger and badder than the predators. It was effective. But those were very very different people.

Now I’m around intellectuals, academics and emotionally intelligent individuals…that sometimes have a bad day, or a shitty moment. It’s very rare that I have a situation or interaction that pushes this button I forgot I had. In passing they can give me their shitty moment, which I’m usually pretty self aware enough to know has little to do with me. But sometimes they say just the right thing to hit the mother load. My old beliefs kick in-puff up to be safe, take no crap, don’t be walked on. But these people aren’t testing me, they aren’t doing it to get a response. It’s simply a shitty comment to reflect something going on inside their own head. This one I took personal but thought…

My Response Matters

This person doesn’t always have bad days

This isn’t about me

My Response will reflect who Iam becoming

My Response Matters

I repeated it to myself until I was no longer internally seething. I didn’t say anything I needed to apologize for and I didn’t bury it deep down as a resentful grudge. I examined it, listened to it and realized…Just because I strive to be my best authentic self with love, patience, and happiness it doesn’t mean I’m always happy and I damn sure don’t plan on shaving my fucking head to be a Buddhist. But I will talk about it. I will understand how I feel, explain it if I need to and know that Iam responsible for my beliefs, emotions and behavior. Sweet relief. No arguing ensued and I was still able to cross a big personal milestone. ūüíúūüėĆ


Totally not my picture. I have no idea who did it but this was how it felt to let go of the need to respond and engage. After looking at my strong response to the off handed comment I realized it had way more to do with leaving toxicity behind. Ready to move forward.  ūüíúūüíĖ

The Metamorphosis of Bella and Kane

magenta-butterfly
Bella
Blue moth
Kane

“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown

An allegory about love, loss and transformation.

Bella

Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive.  She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.

Kane

She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane¬†left the Tomeo’s¬†because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.

Their Shared Cocoon

They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they¬†were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.

When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but¬†Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.

The Transformation

They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.

Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.

Mother Earth 

As Bella cried from¬†the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”

For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.

“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be.¬†Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”

She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.

So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.

Sometimes connection to another person affects¬†us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on.¬†We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.

A Place Of Truth, A Place Of Happy


A fellow blogger recently posted about playing the “what if” game which fueled my own philosophical thoughts . These aren’t relationship “what ifs” but rather a vision…

What if there was a place, a community, where authenticity, vulnerability, boundaries and compassion were the most important values. A retreat you could visit or take a course, or volunteer, where you felt alive and supported no matter how you showed up as long as you were authentic? A place where you could work (if you wanted to), make a healthy living with, and raise your family while still having time for them? A place where you could really show up and be seen. A placed that valued you, whether you were an employee, a volunteer or a workshop participant.

No coolaid is served. It’s not an Amish community. Just a place of growth, mutual respect, boundaries, fun and laughter. Where you can be you because even if there is judgement there’s a bigger blanket of honest acceptance for our differences. What if that place existed? What if it wasn’t just for the rich but there were scholarships for those that were curious but otherwise couldn’t enjoy such a luxury? What if it attracted all types of people and not just yogis or vegetarians but CEO’s, students and families looking to challenge old stories. A place of integrity where the common thread is bravery.¬†

A place where you can ask tough questions, find elusive answers, have fun, or just be alone…all at the same place. Like a retreat/summer camp for adults on a sprawling property where you could spend time¬†looking within or spend it communicating. Not a place to party, a safe place to find your inner light;what your good at, what feeds your soul.

Would you go?

The Triangular Theory of Love

Science-Based Life

I am going through a number of personal events at the moment. I have recently ended a relationship that lasted over half a decade and am beginning a new one. At the same time I am taking a free online lecture course from Yale in psychology. Where do these things intersect? At love. Or, more specifically, what love can be defined as psychologically.

The Love Triangle

Developed by noted psychologist Robert Sternberg, one widely used psychological conception of love used is The Triangular Theory ofLove.

Via Wikipedia

According to Sternburg, any permutation of love contains at its root three components. They are:

  1. Intimacy: Feelings of attachment, closeness, typified by sharing secrets, etc.
  2. Passion: Feelings of sexual and romantic attraction.
  3. Commitment: A willingness in the short-term to create and maintain a relationship and long-term plans to sustain the relationship.

Of course, a ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ relationship in‚Ķ

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The Island of Utopia

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We all live on a Mainland, filled with typical jobs,¬†responsibilities, consumerism and shallow emotion. The Mainland is where newspapers need to be written at the 6th grade level, $800 iPhones are purchased regularly and people talk about the newest Star Wars movie or celebrities as if they’re gods. In typical hierarchy, the higher classes judge your value in whether or not you have MA or PhD at the end of your name and¬†many others are constantly competing to “keep up with the Jones'”. That’s the Mainland. We all have lived here or currently live here. There are all walks of life on the Mainland, but the Critic, the Optimist and the Warrior are more common than others.

Some of us walk out to the Cliffs of the Mainland to appreciate the ocean because we know the Island is out there. We’ve heard of its beauty. According to legend, it’s a snowglobe of perfection filled with¬†happiness, hopes, dreams and transcendence. Elders make¬†it appear like a¬†mystical utopia where¬†enlightenment comes naturally. Here’s the thing though…the waters can be choppy, you can’t fly there, there are no hotels and its innocent beauty has been preserved. The worlds deepest trench is between the Mainland and the Island, new species are discovered all the time and its particularly dangerous because many predators breed there.

The Island tests our courage.

Some people rarely¬†go to the Cliffs because the edge terrifies them, they can dream on occasion but it never goes beyond that. They are susceptible to gossip, conspiracies and fear mongering. Complaining is their way of life, dreaming is¬†not acceptance of reality, that’s for the hippies and the rich.¬†Their relationships are typically toxic, non-existent, superficial or co-dependent. A staggering percentage of the population on the Mainland are these types. These are the Critics.

Others are so fascinated by the island that they charter a small boat and go to a smaller, closer island. Although it’s not really an island but more like a big rock similar to Alcatraz, only, there’s no prison. They find it beautiful and intriguing so they return to the Mainland with¬†stories of hope and¬†gratitude, convincing themselves they have experienced enlightenment of the Island, even though its not the actual Island. These are our Optimists, always giving advice, always trying to help. But they, too, were fearful of the turbulent waters in the journey to the Island. So they settled for one with a shorter path, less risk and faster gratification. These people are happy and content, they lift us up, light up a room and make us feel connected.

Then there are those of us that build up the courage to journey to the Island. We are more curious than fearful and feel like we have to see this Island that our culture so highly regards. Starry eyed and fueled by determination, we begin. We encounter storms and sharks, fear of death and gratitude for life. Every day survived in these conditions we feel more blessed and more surprised at our own resolve. It’s terrifying and we wonder why the hell we thought this was ever a good idea. There’s a reason no one you know has ever actually been there, we think to ourselves. This really sucks. We get stung by jellyfish but learn that the pain eventually goes away. A shark bites off a finger and we learn to write with the other hand. We¬†run out of food but learn to fish with dolphins. Every “bad” thing, teaches us something else.¬†It’s long and arduous. When we finally¬†arrive¬†bruised, beaten and exhausted, we find the Island is nothing the stories spoke of. It’s no more of a utopia than the tiny Alcatraz-like rock. But that’s ok, we think. ¬†This is beautiful BECAUSE of what it took to get here. We arrive different, changed, grateful. These¬†are the Warriors.

When we return to the Mainland, we share our story. The Critics judge us and make fun of our missing finger, the Optimists think you learned what they did, but the still have all their digits¬†and no idea how to fish. But the Warriors, they see you immediately. They see the waves of the journey in your eyes. They can relate with their missing toe and tales of near death. They don’t speak of the¬†Island as a utopia, because like you, they have been there, and ¬†know the utopia resides in you, every second of every day. They know that some lessons can only be learned when you need to learn them for your very survival.

 

 

Do you believe in Magic? ūüéľ

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Option Institute

¬†I can hear the song as I write this. Seriously though, do you? Do you believe that truly extraordinary things are possible? Things that you never saw coming or anticipated? I do. While processing my shocking divorce I went to the Option Institute above, it was a healthy reminder that I could choose however I wanted or needed to feel. I chose every emotion I could, it was liberating and exhausting. Boy did I go through it. I laughed cried, yelled and blamed. And not one damn person judged me for it. During that time a friend said to me, ” Do you believe in Magic? I do, it’s you.” I immediately told him how cheesy he was, at which point we both laughed our assesses off from the realization. He started to explain what he actually meant.¬†

Children have a certain magic to them because they are full of wonder and curiosity. 

Apparently, even as a grown woman, I have that. I was going to improv, hiking, meeting new people, letting go of old ones and stepping outside of my dark sadness that was my divorce. I’ve seen some serious shit in my life and THAT, my friends, is my coping mechanism. Oh, I wallow too. But I always come back to “where’s the magic?”. I start listening to my inner light, listening to my inspiration and coach myself out of pain and despair. I start reminding myself that the universe is benevolent and really only wants the best for us. I think of Pablo Picasso’s quote:

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

When I was teenager and later when I went through my divorce it was curiousity, tenacity and hope that separated me from the herd. At 15, I was an overweight dropout, severely depressed, that smoked a lot of different things. By 19, I graduated with honors, I had quit smoking, and I was a mentor and leader to other at-risk kids. I refused to be a statistic. I would magically have checks show up in the mail when I was dead broke but working my ass off to reach a certain amount. Old friends would always re-appear when something painful was about to happen and I always seemed to find myself a mentor. So, now, it’s time again for another chapter and while this whole flying-in-the-air-but-waiting-to-pull-the-ripcord-until-I-know-where-I’m-landing feeling is exhausting, it also reminds me I’m alive with wonder, curiosity and magic. Wherever I land, it will not be because I had too but because I picked my landing zone purposefully. ‚ėļÔłŹ‚̧ԳŹūüíúūüíöūüíô