A Love Story

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A story courtesy of my therapist with quite a lot of embellishment on my part.

Once upon a time there was a couple, who like most couples, were as different from one another as night and day. The man was sturdy and pragmatic; a man of few words. He loved to take things apart to see how things worked and LOGIC was his middle name.

The woman had an openness with people and was sentimental about those things she deemed important. She was a lover of words and was as bohemian and adventurous as her husband was stalwart and they lived together in a rather small house, that was dominated by a rather large hutch, that the wife inherited from an uncle she met once when she was four years of age. As often happens in these cases, a large piece of furniture like a hutch can rarely be left to stand empty; so the wife slowly began to fill it with cups, which after several years became a collection of sorts.

The first cup that was bought came from a grand old lodge in the Adirondacks where the couple spent their honeymoon. It was a good solid cup in a rustic and homey sort of way. It cost $20 which seemed wildly extravagant in those days but she loved it and so her husband surprised her with it when they got home so “our honeymoon can continue forever,” he said.

The second cup, the one with a small chip on the handle,  was picked up at a flea market at a small country church. The couple had stumbled upon it on their way home from the annual pilgrimage to his parent’s farm which was located in the boon docks of the state. It was a place people rarely visited and home to more cows than people but the imperfect cup needed a family and so it came home with them and their new puppy, a mottled brown dog that they named Boonie.

About a year later the third cup was won at the local county fair by the husband after he successfully threw a ring around a bottle. It surprised them both because neither had known that the man had a talent for this particular kind of endeavor. It was an ugly pea-green color that was too big to hold a decent amount of coffee without going cold and it was too small for a pint of cold beer but nevertheless it was given a place of honor on the shelf.

And so it went…a fourth cup soon joined the third and the fifth came after the birth of their first child. Soon the top shelf was filled with cups of all shapes and sizes and every morning the wife was delighted as she opened her hutch and studied the cups pondering which one she would use that day.

As the years went by upon occasion the wife began to ask her husband  to buy her a cup when he was away on business. But he was a pragmatic sort of chap and didn’t see the need for yet another cup in the house. He always used the same cup day in and day out and saw no reason to change. He was baffled about his wife’s cup “obsession” and began to resent the money she spent buying them and the time she spent taking each cup down for a decent dusting and so he refused to indulge in his wife’s request for more cups.  But sometimes when he went out-of-town on business he would remember her request and bring her home a piece of homemade candy or something that the area was known for instead; but he never brought her a cup. And while the wife appreciated his gesture it sometimes hurt her feelings that he would not give her her hearts desire…a cup that he had taken the time to pick out just for her just as he had on their honeymoon. Then after a while she began to wonder if he even loved her at all because he wouldn’t give her a cup when he knew how much she desired this of him. And while she knew her worth could not be measured by the appearance of a mere cup sometimes it felt as if its absence spoke volumes about how her husband saw her and it validated her belief that her husband didn’t love her enough to do something as simple as buying her a cup. Slowly their connectedness to each other began to diminish due to her resentment and his withholding.

One day, as the woman was dusting her collection, her husband asked her, “Why is it that you seem to delight in taking each cup down and dusting it? It is a lot of work to keep those cups clean. Why do you do it?”

“I do it because everyday when I open the hutch our story together continues. When I reach for this one, she said, pulling out a dark purple cup covered in roses; I remember the first time we went to the public gardens over by the shore. I bought it because it reminded me of how you picked that lily and handed it to me with a flourish. Then we left immediately, afraid we would be thrown out of the gardens forever and hauled off in the paddywagon. We laughed hysterically as we made our getaway….remember?”

Her husband chuckled. Yes, he too had fond memories of that summer’s day.

“And this one with the hearts on it is from the time you surprised me with tickets to see my favorite band.”

“Let me guess. Was that the time I took you to see Heart?” he said with a laugh.

“Of course” she said with a smile.

As his wife shared her memories about each cup her husband realized that he had not understood his wife’s delight in each cup because he did not understand the story. His unit of measurement of love was different from hers. While he had just seen cups; she saw more and she remembered the closeness and the joy she felt when she was with her husband and bought a cup in remembrance of those special times together. To her the cups were proof of their love story and for that reason she treasured each and every one.

The next morning the man watched as his wife opened the doors to the hutch and pondered which cup she would use that day. Her face lite up with delight as she removed the tiny white one adorned with four-leaf clovers and his did too as he remembered the trip they took to Ireland for their 20th anniversary.

Several weeks later the man headed off on yet another business trip. But this time when he arrived home he decided he would surprise his wife with a cup. So he searched high and low until he found the perfect one at an old antique shop on River Street. It reminded him of the weekend they had traveled the South searching for the perfect painting to go over their mantle but brought home a four-poster bed from Georgia instead. A bed that had brought each so many nights of pleasure since the day they hauled it, huffing and puffing up the stairs and through the hall to their room which lay furthest west from the front door.

As she unwrapped the box her husband felt a kind of happiness he hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a sort of hungry anticipation for seeing the delight he knew his wife would feel when she saw the cup and he wasn’t disappointed.

“Georgia?” his wife said as she admired the cup and her husband’s good taste.

“That was one special weekend, wasn’t it?”

“I think about it every night we lay together in our bed,” she replied with a shy grin.

These days, when he goes away, the husband, upon occasion,  looks for the perfect cup to give his wife. Sometimes he comes home with one and other times he doesn’t because he hasn’t found one that would be meaningful to them. But when he does arrive with the perfect cup in hand he savors the simple delight of his wife has when receiving her cup, while his wife savors the connectedness she feels with him as they discuss each of his finds. Because once the husband understood the entirety of the story sitting within the hutch it allowed him to give his wife her hearts desire and she began to see the other things her husband did to nurture their relationship. Their story was no longer about the absence of a cup. Instead, it was a story that morphed into the connectedness and delight  the couple felt towards one another that was renewed once each understood and appreciated the other’s story and soon they begin living with hearts wide open towards each other just as they had when they were first married .

It never really was about the cups after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Have To Confess

I have to confess that I am considering whether I want to blog anymore. Yes, I feel I have something to say but I only have 200 loyal readers and so I think…what is the point?  Do these poor people really want to read what I write or were they drunk the night they hit the button? And so I have not been writing on my blog. However, I have been working on my novel and wrote two chapters last week which pleases me to no end.

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I have to confess that I am terribly embarrassed about the state of my country right now what with the two YAHOO’s that are our unfortunate main choices for President. I really believe would would do better by asking anyone who wants to be president to have some psychological testing, 10,000 signatures, and then put their name and  number, along with every other person who wants to hear Hail to the Chief, into a big bingo cage and pull out a name. Just like lotto. Seriously. I know 1/2 the world is laughing and the other 1/2 is horrified. Me too.  I am voting for Dr. Jill Stein third party candidate.  Yes, everyone tells me I am throwing away my vote but I don’t believe so because if a third party candidate gets 5% of the vote they get federal funds and other perks.

I have to confess that it is just me sitting in this house and I am enjoying the hell out of it. Sometimes when I am alone I dream of the life I thought I would have…and after a few minutes I am glad I didn’t!

I have to confess that I constantly think of going back to school to finally finish my master’s degree but I am worried that my brain cells have deteriorated to the point that they cannot hold another thought without having a cataclysmic eruption occur kind of like Yellowstone super volcano exploding and covering the earth in darkness. I am almost certain that my brain would go black if I tried.

I have to confess that there are times I wish I had my 20 year old body to flaunt. I didn’t appreciate the unwanted attention I got back then but when you no longer have it somehow you forget the downsides. What I wouldn’t give for a cat call tonight!

I confess that sometimes I think I would like to move deep into the forest and become a hermit but one that washed her hair and had an amazon drone deliver deodorant once a year.

I have to confess that the other day I saw a man and I thought, “I wouldn’t mind him putting his boots under my bed!” I haven’t had a thought like that for 30 years and I didn’t know whether to blush or to grab a bottle of Jack. Why would this happen when we have having such great sex?…I have to wonder. I also have to confess that sometimes I dream of being Mrs. Robinson.

I confess that when I was a teenager I went to a party out on a farm and that I was one of three girls that got a poison ivy rash on my butt and that all the boys had it on their knees.

I confess I wonder how many Hail Mary’s is all of this worth…or if I need to go out a do a few more things that will have me on my knees for eternity?

What It Means To Love Someone Fully

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Yesterday, we had a Marriage Encounter meeting at our home. It was fantastic and the people who came were interesting and good, kind folks. One of the questions that we shared in our circle was: When I first met you did I know what it was to love someone fully?

Of course, for me, the answer was no. When you marry young, I don’t think anyone knows what it is to love fully. I think we try, God bless us, but until you have lived with someone for quite a while I don’t think it is possible to even fathom what loving someone fully means because it often means different things to different people. I think having experienced a history together is necessary for this type of love to come into sharp focus.

I can say that for a very long time I was selfish (maybe still am) because I was demanding to get my needs met by B because they had not been met as a child. I should have been wise enough and mature enough to meet my needs myself but I did not understand the complexity of what that entailed and the depths you have to plumb within your own soul to accomplish that. I also tried to make B love me in ways that were comfortable to me instead of ways that were comfortable for him because I was unwilling to change. I clung to ways I was familiar with instead of having faith in the love B had for me and that his way of showing it was also valuable.

And so yesterday, when I answered the question, I replied that I still did not think that I knew what loving B fully means. But today, after much contemplation, I want a re-do because I think I may have been wrong. Why? Because:

  1. If I am fighting to preserve my marriage through the worst of times and on those days where it seems impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other but I do it anyway; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  2. If I eliminate major flaws within my own personality by reducing anger and increasing peace in order to save my marriage; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  3. If going to painfully sad counseling sessions to learn about myself and to try to learn to look at things from my loved one’s point of view, while listening to the pain and hurt I have caused them, and actively attempt try to remedy that hurt; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  4. If  I am actively looking for reasons to be grateful for everything wonderful and wondrous about my spouse; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  5. If I am working hard to see the good in my spouse and I have faith that he has my best interests at heart; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  6. If I step out of my comfort zone to do the things that make my spouse happy without expecting anything in return; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  7. If I work hard to improve communication between us in order to reduce misunderstandings; then I know what loving someone fully means
  8. If I take responsibility for my own actions instead of blaming; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  9. If I make the conscious choice to find ways to love my husband each and every day event though he may not be at his best; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  10. If I provide my spouse with gentle encouragement; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  11. If I talk to my man in the way I would talk to my best friend; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  12. If I decide that I will do whatever it takes to make things work between us; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  13. If I am actively working to keep that sense of aloneness between us at bay by finding opportunities for connection; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  14. If I let go and decide to trust my heart to B completely, then I know what loving someone fully means.
  15. If I work to put my spouse first… above work, committees and all the other countless things that need our attention; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  16. Being with my lover through the daily grind is easy but if I choose to be with him during the hardest of times; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  17. If I practice just listening instead of fixing or giving unwanted opinions; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  18. If I work on being fully present and in the moment; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  19. If I share my feelings in a kind and appropriate manner; then I know what loving someone fully means.

Let me say, that I think it is important that you do not lose yourself or what you value in order to love someone fully or have them love you back; for that is not what love is about. And let me also convey that this list is not meant to imply that I do these things perfectly or even well. But I can state that I think I am much closer to knowing what loving someone fully means because I am actively practicing what it takes to show that love everyday, instead of acting as if these things will take care of themselves. It means that although there are times that I fail and disappoint both of us; that at least now I am now mindful and aware of what loving B fully might mean and I try to act accordingly. It means that these are things I want to do of my own accord instead of doing them out of some sort of obligation or expectation. And it also means that although I will continue to have to practice the art of loving B fully each and everyday; that I have faith that because of my love for him, that I will get it right eventually, and that I will be kind enough to grant myself some grace until I do.

 

Love Is A Choice

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If there is something else of importance that I came away with from this weekend’s Marriage Encounter it is that LOVE IS A CHOICE.  It is a choice that you make again and again and again over the lifetime of your relationship. The choice to love begins when you wake up in the morning and think pleasant thoughts of your spouse while he lays there sleeping. It is present when you decide to take the time to really listen to what your partner is saying. And it renews itself when you chose to give your sweetie the benefit of the doubt and believing in the best instead of the worst.

I am not sure when B and I forgot this or if we ever viewed love in exactly this way. Letting resentments build up is not choosing to love. Foregoing intimacy is not choosing love. Escaping from each other by putting other things first is not choosing love and I know these things were happening in our relationship. No wonder our relationship became unsatisfying to both of us. Other things intruded and we did not recognize it nor stop it when we did. Making sure that our love for each other a priority just never got very high on the list.

I thought it might be difficult to make sure that B knew I was choosing love. But staying connected throughout the day via texting and dialoguing at night is helping us to see that putting our relationship first makes us feel good about the other. It makes us appreciate and celebrate what we have.

Sure, it has only been a few days and we have yet to be put to the test with schedules, poor behavior and a disagreement. But I have hope that as long as we both remember that LOVE IS A CHOICE and choose to honor the choice we have been blessed by; then loving each other as the unique individuals we each are will become as natural as a rose opening itself for all the world to appreciate and see.

 

Past Tense

I have trouble living in the present. I ruminate about the past and have difficulty letting it go. I also worry about the future endlessly. It does me no good and I know it but I continue to do these things to my own detriment.

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Recently I read something that resonated with me. It said something to the effect that if I hold on to the past with one hand and try to grasp the future with the other, I have nothing to grab onto with today.That got me thinking.

While I would often like to have missed many moments of this past “maybe divorce” year, the fact is that they have been important. They have taught me things about myself and my relationships. They have forced me to examine things that made me uncomfortable and given me the courage to change those things that were under my own control. I have had to learn to try and see things through a different lens and to operate through one too. There have been challenges I have overcome and heartbreak that I have never felt the likes of before but managed to survive and sometimes even thrive. And all of these experiences or “ah-ha” moments have happened when I have lived in the present, let go of the past, and stopped fearing the future.

I’ll be honest, living in the present has not been easy. It still is not and it doesn’t come naturally to me. Yet, I hope that by remembering all I have learned from being in the present, I can continue to rejoice and celebrate the wonders that happen to me everyday when I just let them happen. So now I am practicing giving myself permission to just be in the moment with my hand and head securely wrapped around the notion that to be present is to live fully. I think its something worth striving for.

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Blessings In Daily Life

As I contemplate my life with or without B I have come to the realization that there are several things in my middle age that I am striving to recognize and hold onto in one form or another. These are the things that are important to me and I am learning to value them even more as I age. They are also what bring meaning and blessings to my life and I want to experience them with eyes wide open and appreciate the richness they add to my spirit.

The things I want to have/experience on a daily basis are: Peace, Acceptance, Connectedness, Joy and Love.

Peace-I want peace in my heart meaning a satisfied and content heart.  I want a peaceful life meaning tranquility rules the roost with harmony following close behind. Peace that is a quiet and calm state of mind no matter what chaos is swirling around you. This also means having to practice patience in order to achieve it along with Sitting In The Silence.

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Acceptance- Acceptance is probably best said in this way:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

It is also accepting my children’s autism and loving them for who they are. Accepting myself in a deeper and more true way. It is being accepted for who I am in my relationship with my spouse sexually, mentally and spiritually. It is just accepting the day for what it brings me and not always trying to change things about it.

 

Connectedness- that feeling that the bonds you have with others are real, meaningful and as valuable to you as they are to them.  It’s a feeling of coming together and being absorbed in all that we share and all we are doing. Its being vitally and mindfully in touch intellectually, in spirit, and in presence.  Its a form of oneness.

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Joy- I want to find joy in the journey…all of it. I want those fleeting moments of joy like the birth and a child to become more common place and easier to experience…like smelling a rose, watching your kids play soccer, and watching the moon rise on a hot summers day. Joy a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, and even more important, it is allowing ourselves to recognize and appreciate how good things really are on a daily basis.

Love- Probably the hardest to define but I certainly know that it encompasses and transforms joy, acceptance, connectedness and peace into something knowable and something better than when they are on their own. Its adoring, cherishing, infatuation, devotedness, and attachment too. Love is a many splendid thing…and much, much,more.

 

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These are the blessings of life and if we allow ourselves to recognize them we will see them at work each and every day. I am greedy for more.

 

 

I Will Be Happy….Damn it!

My oldest  girlfriend read my blog and told me that I sound like I’m manic depressive in my writings. She says if she didn’t know better she would think I was ready to throw myself off of a bridge and in truth I would have to agree with her assessment. Okay, not the one about throwing myself off of a bridge…we both know I am too vain to do that. I mean wrinkled and bloated…I already do that well enough without adding  rushing water.  No, I am referring to the part about the ups and downs of my recent writings.

Frankly, I am working hard at writing from my heart which at this time swings low and then high in 1 second flat. One moment I can see/feel the love the next moment it feels like it may be gone never to return. Frankly, I am a mess. While it felt for a while that things were improving we are both noticing old unhealthy patterns returning. I think my writing reflects this. Perhaps that is because the sadness and disappointments are easier to spot and to write about. I suspect that is because they are such intense emotions whereas happiness  or some variation of it, while beautiful, is not shattering and just creeps silently in without shouting out its arrival. Unfortunately, I think most of us just don’t reflect and analyze happiness like we do those negative emotions.  Pain, sadness and concern rock us to the core while happiness drifts over us sometimes appreciated and sometimes not. It just doesn’t have the sting that sadness does.

I think there is also that adage in play here about writers having to suffer angst to know the human condition and write about it in a way that gives it the justice it deserves. And while I know that this is indeed hogwash I also know that I bought into it to some small degree when I started writing for the newspaper all those years ago.

So tomorrow I am off to the beach for a holiday and I have pledged to write something uplifting, kind and noticeably happy to see if it influences any other parts of my life. Until I get back...choose to be happy damn it! … and give happiness the attention that she deserves in your life!

 

A Few Of My Favorite Pictures of Tibet

I am just too tired to write as we just arrived home several hours ago so I decided to post a few pictures. Of course, the Chinese government does not allow people to access Facebook and Word Press so I was unable to write about our trip but here are a few pictures until I wake up from the living dead.

 

Monks Debating

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Girl From Countryside in Tibet

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Man Carrying Yak Skin Boat After Crossing River

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Mt. Everest Base Camp

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Listening for Buddha’s Wisdom

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Woman Waiting

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Mt. Everest At Sunset

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Woman and Yak at Receding Glacier

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What Is Happiness?

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about happiness…as in… what is it really, how do we get it and most importantly how do we hold on to it?

Sometimes I know what happiness is. It is a warm cuddle with a baby who looks at you, eyes wide, and smiles so broad you wonder how it is contained on such a small face. It is laying my head on my husband’s chest and feeling its rhythmic rise and fall and with it the feeling that everything will fine in all that we have created. It is writing the ‘perfect’ piece in which you feel you have gotten your point across and a bit of your own humanity as well.

But, I wonder, is happiness suppose to be this fleeting…small moments in time that when added together don’t account for all that much? And what is the difference between being content or feeling joy? Is joy just happiness on steroids and is contentment just joy three times removed? Or is happiness just a deep appreciation for a moment felt whether it lasts three seconds or five minutes? And the big question… how do I feel more of all of these positive feelings and hold them in my hand like pearls savoring their smoothness, shape, color and beauty?

I once had a friend named John who swore he never had a bad day. His secret, he told me, was that he would get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say out loud, “John, you are going to have a great day!” And according to him he always did. For John, a “great day” was simply a state of mind, a place that his mind took him to and stayed with him there as the hours counted down from midnight and back.

I’m not sure what happiness really is but I know I would like to experience more of it and expand that feeling for a longer period of time when I do happen upon it. I would like to find more of that “elusive state of mind” that allows happiness to be seen easily and enjoyed fully. And finally, I would like to one day be able to define for myself and others exactly what it is because until I can answer question I suspect that it will remain a random feeling instead of a large part of my everyday life.

So here’s to happiness…may it find us all easily and may we chose to see it when it arrives.

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Give Thanks

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GIVE THANKS

For my sons

And for my daughters

For my man who is

My  best lover

And for my friends

Who have taught me about myself

Even those parts I delude myself into thinking

Are good for my soul

GIVE ME APPRECIATION FOR ALL I HAVE

 

GIVE THANKS

For all the people in the world

Trying to do their best

Suceeding with what they have been given

Never giving up

Never giving in

Putting one foot in front of the other

On a journey which is so different than my own

GIVE ME UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY

 

GIVE THANKS

For all I have been blessed by and with

And all I have had the opportunity to discover

May I never forget

Fatima’s mother and her daily struggle, her smile

Etched in my memory

GIVE HER MUCH NEEDED BLESSINGS

 

GIVE THANKS

I have a warm belly

No bombs dropping and  causing chaos and destruction

A life free from true suffering

That so many must led

Through no fault of their own

Lives shattered by policies

Not of their making

GIVE MUCH NEEDED WISDOM TO THOSE IN CHARGE

 

GIVE THANKS

For life-giving trees

For abundant fresh water

For those remaining polar bears fast disappearing

Due to man’s negligence

A earth that supports so many

In peril and under stress

Because of wants not needs

And our throw away culture

GIVE ALL HER CITIZENS INSIGHT TO DO BETTER BY HER