Visiting With Ghosts

“I’m not being bossy, I’m just telling you what to do,” says my husband.

As you can imagine these are not the choicest of words to say to your wife or any other woman who is over 30.

Years ago I would have told this man where to shove it if those words were said to me. Today, it is more complicated…kids, a 30+ year history together, mortgages…and then there is the sex which has always been divine.  So what does one say when the man you have admired more than anyone in the world hits his 50’s, goes through male menopause, and suddenly becomes someone you no longer know. Somehow…”SCREW YOU ASSHOLE”… no longer feels like an option when you are trying to become your best self and live in a more authentic and pleasant sort of way.

But enough of that.

Today, I was sitting inside when I suddenly heard the roar of B’s hedger. I decided to go out and help him because his back has been hurting.  Upon arriving outside I find B taking it to the rose buses with blades the size of a helicopter and my beloved pink agastache already mowed almost to the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“The trick or treaters won’t be able to make it up the walk. Had to make room for them.”

“B, those were precious to me. I work hard to have a beautiful yard. Why don’t you honor what I do and how hard I work?”

“There you go again. I can’t do anything right.”

And with that we were off. He went his way thinking his wife is a bitch and I went back into the house fuming while feeling what I do is devalued. As I crossed over the threshold it occurred to me that I could be right and I could feel miffed… or… I could have peace. Which did I want? It was a no-brainer. Outside I went.

“B… we need to talk. I came outside to help you so you don’t have to bend over”

“I’m busy. I’ve been working all day. I don’t need your help.”

“Honey, I am done with this old pattern of relating. I say something and you respond that you can never do anything right. Then we both go off into our corners with our invisible boxing gloves on. It is time to do something different.”

He looks at me suspiciously.

“Look,” he says “The kids can’t go up our sidewalk without running into our bushes.”

“I understand that now but didn’t realize it was that much of a problem. But instead of destroying what I worked so hard to create it would be helpful if you would come to me and state your concern about the kids. Then you could say, “Honey, I am going to cut the agastache down if you don’t come out and take care of them your way.” That way I am responsible for what happens. Not you. And I get to do things in the manner I choose; in a way that preserves my plants and my dignity.”

“I didn’t mow them all down…”

“Honey, lets just agree to disagree and try harder not to do the same dance which gets us nowhere. Right now, I am choosing not to be right at all costs. Instead, I am choosing to create peace.”

Later, we went to the pumpkin patch with the kids. We all know that they are getting too old for this folderol but it is a tradition…something to hold onto when so many things are up in the air and our relationship is hanging like grapes on the vine. As we entered the farm, I reflected on our “Days From The Past” and I remembered the happiness our family had experienced here. I harkened back to the times when I saw B in a kinder, gentler sort of light and felt a soft glow surround my heart.

I suspect that sometimes this is what is needed…reminders of times gone right. Those moments in our lives when our joy outweighed our sorrows and fits of laughter outnumbered our tears. Days filled with pumpkins, sunflowers, corn mazes and a frosted cup of apple cider. Maybe these are the things we all need to sustain us when things in our lives morph into things we no longer recognize.

IMG_9948

So this Halloween, instead of paying attention to the ghosts of the present who rattle their chains in an effort to be heard; I think I shall visit with the ghosts of the past to gain a new perspective and appreciation for what was and could possibly be again.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Set oven to 350. Clean pumpkin seeds. Mix with melted butter, dark cherry vinegar, garlic salt, and rosemary. Roast for 25 minutes.

IMG_9959

 

 

Dreams Of The Past And The Future

images-3

When we were young B and I could never have enough projects. They kept us busy and talking to one another about the different aspects that we needed to consider when we were working together. We tore out the kitchen of a cabin we bought, we built a house in the mountains, we started a winery and built the building to go with it. We were busy, tired, and often content with the manner in which our lives were progressing.

These days B is done with projects. He wants nothing to do with them. I suspect some of this stems from having to leave behind our hard work for others to enjoy when we did not yet have that pleasure. Moving for B’s career made us give up some of these comforts and dreams. Not being able to experience the joy of our labors made it more difficult for B to keep up the hard work, determination, and faith that building requires. And I think that stress at work has limited his enthusiasm for projects.

However, recently we decided to sell a property that we have owned for about seven years. This has entailed ripping our a kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and backsplash. We have had to repaint the entire place put up new lighting fixtures and vents in all the rooms. It has been a huge undertaking but it has paid off with some unexpected dividends…a closeness that has been missing and the chance to re-visit all of the amazing things we have accomplished together. This isn’t to say that everything is perfect. It isn’t. But it is nice to experience some of our “old selves” again and it is nice to be engaged with one another once more. I have missed this over the past several years. I have missed just being with B and watching him sweat as we struggle to hang a cabinet. I miss having dreams which are flavored with the smell of hard work and the sweetness of a job well done. I have forgotten how just spending time together made me feel connected and how my admiration for my husband would soar when all we worked for came to fruition. And it occurs to me that the respect I feel for this man, who, when exhausted, keeps giving his all, is immense and inspires me to do my best too.

I wish we could work together more. Find new projects to create together. I don’t know that it has to be building but something… anything that will plant new seeds to understanding, respect and appreciation.  I thirst for finding commonalities again with the man that I love. I understand why B wants to lay down his hammer but for me these undertakings  that we embark on together give me a sense of hope and purpose. And even though I can barely move after a day of hard work I would gladly down numerous Tylenol just to spend quality time with B once again. For when we work together I see deeper more personal glimpses of the man I fell in love with and I hope he sees the same in me and it also feels as if there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

 

Voices In My Head

th

Okay, I know this will sound kind of psychotic, like I am hearing “voices” in my head. But lets face it, we all do. Whether we call it our conscious,ego or intuition; there is something in our heads that from time to time influences and directs us. Usually, listening to this voice can be a good thing except when what we are hearing is negative self-talk about ourselves.

When I first started this “maybe divorce” journey I immediately took steps to change my attitude and my outlook on life. And it helped a lot and for quite a while. But lately I have realized I am slipping back into the negative self talk and decided that I needed to revisit those practices that I began which quieted this negativity. So I am back to “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”  when I hear negative self-talk, followed by the exact opposite of the negative said three times. It might look like this.

“He doesn’t love you”

“CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”

“HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU” or instead I just stop and look around taking note of what I see around me.

“OH THE CLOUDS ARE BIG AND FLUFFY WHITE TODAY. LOOK AT THOSE BIRDS SITTING ON THE TELEPHONE WIRE. MUST BE 20 OF THEM”

I refuse to give this negative self-talk the time of day.

So far this correction of my negativity has been helping to decrease it. By paying attention of what my inner dialogue is saying to me; I am aware of how negativity begets negativity and how negative internal dialogue influences your external life. Once again, I am reminded that living with negativity is such a caustic way in which to live on a daily basis.

As I contemplated this a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I am my worst critic. The “Constructive Criticism” or negative self-talk I indulge in is often cruel or mis-guided. It seems strange that I so readily accept it of/for myself. Because, frankly, if another person treated me the way I treat myself… if that person said the words to me that I say to myself… well, I wouldn’t put up with it. In fact I would probably tell that mean gurl:

“SEE YAH. DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT!”

Yet, for some reason, many of us give this negative person who dwells within us too much power. We believe that THEY are on our side and have something valuable to say when in fact they don’t. We treat THEM like they are some sort of expert on how we should live our day-to-day lives. We give THEM the power to guide us regarding how we react to most everything we encounter during our day, when, this type of negativity does not need to be in charge of ANYTHING in our lives. In fact, when we hear it speaking, unless it is doing so with kindness and compassion, we should ignore it. We should refuse to believe anything it is telling us.  And we should “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL” until we cannot hear it anymore.

Why? Because it is only natural that when we talk to ourselves with loving kindness that is how we will treat others. And if we can’t be nice to ourselves it is doubtful others will be either.

So today, be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Listen and figure out if what is being said is coming from a place of compassion or one of self-loathing. And if it is not coming from a place of gentleness then walk away and leave those words behind. For there is only one you and you deserve to hear about the best of you and not the worst.

So be it.

th-1

 

 

50/50

images-3

The other day when we came close to calling it quits (and for all I know maybe you still are) I asked you how content you were with me. Your reply of 50/50 stunned me and knocked me flat to the ground. I never would have guessed that you are that miserable with me especially because I do not believe that I make life that unbearable for you or our family.

I remember when we were young and newly married I always thought that to have a happy relationship you had to feel content with your partner 90% of the time and at that point in our relationship I think we were. Perhaps I was unrealistic in thinking that 90% was the magic number to ensure happiness, but, frankly, I tend to still believe it and based on your 50/50 number it makes me realize that there may not be much hope for an enduring relationship with that low of a percentage.

If you are not content with me that much of the time then I can only say that it appears you have chosen to be unhappy with a life that I believe most men would be happy to live. If you are unhappy more than you are happy or close to it seems to me to be a waste of time. In fact, I would say that it is a squandering of the life you have been given. I have to believe that everyone on this earth should be content with their partner a heck of a lot more than that for love to be able to be shared at an emotionally deep, spiritually fulfilling and meaningful level. A level that stirs the heart and soul. A level that provides peace and introspection. A level that excites you and leaves you hoping for more and waiting with a sense of positiveness and  excitement of what the future holds for the relationship.

images-4

Ask and you shall receive it is said, yet, I persist on asking you questions like, “How content are you with me?” Finally, I am beginning to realize that these types of questions are self-defeating because they set me up for automatic failure and a sense of self-loathing due to disappointment in the answers I receive from you. Upon examining this phenomenon, I have begun to understand that I ask because I am a woman and as such I was raised to try to understand the emotions of others. I thought my job was to intercept the unhappiness that may be floating around and destroy it. I was taught that it was my responsibility to make my husband happy, my children happy, and, yes, even ensure that the dog is tail waggingly happy. That is not to say that I have always done this well just that I thought as a woman it was what I should attempt to do.

images-6

Yet,  I am slowly beginning to understand that I should not ask you those types of questions because your answer could change in a minute or an hour or a day.  And with this realization, I am beginning to ask myself why I choose to give you the power to crush me with your words. In all honesty, I think it is because I hope that by knowing these answers to these questions that somehow I can make it better. That I can try harder, be more, do more and all the other impossible quests that I have attempted to try an improve our relationship and to try to get you to love me again. To try to make you see that I am somehow worthy of your love because that is how women are raised …to be the caretakers, the heart tenders, and the mind openers. And if by some sort of miracle, everyone in our family is happy, that it is a reflection on me. That I have done my job well and that others contentment should make me happy too.  But I am beginning to let it settle into my soul that happiness in an individual thing. That I can no more make you happy than I can make the moon sing. Yes, I can contribute to your sense of well-being and happiness but I am not responsible for it.

Which brings me to my true thoughts on this matter. If you are 50/50 content with me then that is your choice and it most likely is not due to my actions the majority of the time. Frankly, I radiate a heck of a lot more than 50% happiness and contentment on a daily basis. For I am loving, kind and supportive, nurturing, content and enthusiastic a heck of a lot more than 50% of the time. That has been proven because we have so much good together including much laughter, great sex and a shared love of many things including adventure, discovery and travel. We have worked together to get what the boys need and have raised children that we can be proud of.  I can’t say that about very many couples I know who have been married the number of years that we have. So this tells me that you choose to see who I am and how we interact in a negative way despite whatever good it is that I do. And that how you choose to see me may be a result of what you want to see to justify a “maybe divorce” rather than how I truly am. Your negative mindset about me and our relationship has been an ongoing thing for the past several years and I am beginning to comprehend that is yours to deal with and not mine. That you choose to take what I say as being “disappointed” in you rather than just allowing me to express how I feel which may have nothing to do with you at all. Frankly, sometimes I believe that this “disappointment” you feel gives you an excuse to emotionally opt-out of the relationship because you can “never make me happy” rather than the fact that you will not be happy because you are choosing not to be of your own volition. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be unhappy and only you can do that.

 

Therefore, in the future, I will try to refrain from asking those type of questions.  Because I am finally realizing that your perceptions may be skewed towards making your visions of what you  THINK you want your life to be, inconsistent with what our life together truly is.  Because it would appear that no matter what I do, no matter how our relationship evolves, that this marriage is not what you want for your future.  That I am not what you want for your future.  I cannot change that. Meanwhile, seeking answers that make you “question” things in our relationship that maybe should not be questioned is the one thing I can still change. And even though I still believe that “good” personal relationships seek enlightenment from that relationship by asking questions and examining the resulting answers; I am beginning to understand that good/growth/awareness can only come from these types of conversations if that is what the other is seeking too.

So take your 50/50 and ruminate on it a bit. As for me, I will choose to make myself happy even if it is without you. Because I have only one life to live and I intend to live the rest of it with a sense of well-being.  And starting today I will practice choosing to see the ordinary as extraordinary and that the world is a better place because I am in it. So sorry you do not choose to do the same.

 

Feelings And Fish

images-12

I am not sure this will make sense but I am sure going to try.

Today was THERAPIST DAY. It was a doozie. She always makes me think and dig deep to find my own truths.  This is what she said to me that made me have an “A-hah!” moment. It was something I “knew” yet something that was not yet crystal clear to me.

You would think that at middle age I would have “gotten” this before or at least been observing it under the lens of magnification before, but suddenly today it became very clear. Like turning the dial on the microscope and finally being able to focus in tightly and clearly on the subject, which in this case just happens to be me.

After telling her about how I felt sharing my feelings in my relationship was important and anything less was somehow dishonest, she said, “No one else is expected to honor your feelings except you. They are yours alone. Stop expecting that B will honor what are yours to carry.”

Really! I thought that was what marriage was suppose to be about. Honoring the relationship, honoring one another in that relationship. Apparently not when it comes to your own feelings. No expectations here because all you will be is disappointed. Yeah, I know, the Buddha says the same thing.

“Stop worrying about the stuff up there, what B is doing, what B is thinking” she said looking upwards. “Go deeper and dig to find your own truths. Think of it this way. You know when you walk in one of those aquarium  tunnels and the sharks and fish are swimming above you?  Sure, you could worry about all the murky stuff floating/moving above you, the weight of all those millions of gallons of water, the sharks breaking free and swallowing you whole. But seriously, if you have your feet planted firmly on the floor examining your own truths (these tunnels are safe) and not worrying about the sharks swimming above you, you will finally relax and enjoy what it is you are seeing.  And you will soon see the truth. Your truths. The truths that you are meant to discover. Eventually you will just enjoy watching the fish and will discover that you can ignore the poop that is floating above you. In fact, by ignoring the other (fish poop, worries about tunnel caving in, etc.) then you can really get into it and experience all the wonder of the relationship around you. ”

Now, somehow I am suppose to transfer this bit of fish lore to my life and my relationship with B. I am not exactly sure how, but said therapist assures me that as B is left to look at himself, instead of me trying to get him to see all that is floating around in the water with us; everything will soon become much clearer to me…and to him too. This doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way I would like but at least with clarity comes a sense of truth and knowing what you are doing is the right thing for you… and this woman needs a boat load of that.

89799065c83128a02003c7ae0ee8a3a8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUST 2

6759827

Sometimes my therapist just burns my butt. Lately, she has been on a diet so it has made her a little more cranky and direct. No beating around the bush with her.

The other day I read to her the piece I just blogged. It was about trust and she had the balls to turn it around on me. Damn!

“Interesting piece,” she said to me. “Obviously you understand what trust means to you. Too bad you don’t apply it to yourself and your relationship with B. Frankly, to get trust from someone else you have to practice it on a daily basis and strive to do/be all the things you wrote about. You have to give out all those things you want to get in life. You have to act in the way you want others to. If you want trust you also have to give it.”

images-3

Well, doesn’t this just suck big turkey toes!!! Frankly, I thought, dear therapist, you are suppose to be on my side and tell me everything is B’s fault or B’s issue. Why am I paying you to make me look at myself in all this? What the heck? Where are all the rainbows and unicorns? Why aren’t you making me feel good? (LOL)

images-1

Frankly, I don’t know if I am capable of trusting B or any other man for that matter. Men just don’t seem to be to be that trustworthy to me. Yes, that’s my issue, but still….when someone has been untrustworthy how do you begin the process of re-building? Really…I have to be the one to practice trust on a daily basis? Me…the trustworthy one. Okay, never mind those times when I have said “I’m done!” That doesn’t count. But according to my therapist they do. They undermine the relationship and make him afraid to trust that I won’t walk out the door.

So today I will attempt to TRUST and try to incorporate the ideas behind TRUST into my daily living. And I might even stop off at the donut shop and bring my therapist a treat. Damn that woman!

 

T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

 

Conflict

images-9

When I was younger I enjoyed conflict. It meant that I was letting things be known and getting things done. These days I just want peace. Gone are the days of spending two hours trying to convince B that I am “right.” Gone is the time spent crafting a great argument. I would much rather spend time meditating and sitting quietly than fighting.

Yet, there is something to be said about the positive effects of conflict. During conflict we are often forced to grow, to dig deep within ourselves to find the answers that are needed, and do a bit more in an effort to resolve the issues that are at the root of the problem. Oftentimes, conflict brings us some much needed insight about ourselves and our loved ones that can then be used to find solutions that best fit our mutual needs. Usually conflict forces us to do a bit more thinking, to take action, and encourages us to analyze patterns that are dug up when our nest is disturbed.

Conflict is hard, especially when we as a species, tend to want to chase rainbows and live our lives surrounded by sunny skies. Many of us avoid conflict like the plague. But conflict if managed with mutual respect and sharply attuned listening skills can unearth gems that can change our lives or our thought patterns. So while I am not encouraging anyone to go out and start a fight with their loved one; I am saying that the next time you are in conflict with your loved one try to look for the treasures that conflict can bring. You may find exactly what your relationship needs in order to take that next step by digging deep and listening carefully and in doing so; you might just find the peace that you have been searching for.

images-1

 

A Little Nudge

IMG_8288

He was a pound puppy just looking for a home. Part Boxer and part Great White Pyrenees he was tan with white socks and once he took hold of our heart, he never let go.

Of course, there were the usual puppy shenanigans … chewed up socks, garbage dragged throughout the house, plants dug up only to be re-planted and dug up again. But as he grew he settled into the role of “Good Dog” and wore it with ease. Now at six years of age he protects us like he would protect a flock of sheep by herding, nudging, and prodding us along the paths that we are destined to follow.

Lately, I have been watching Roo as he trots through life and I have realized he is onto something important. It is an example for us human folks to adopt and to follow. It’s a way of getting your immediate needs known and then met. I realized the power Roo had while watching him interact with each of us “sheep” as he herded us this way and that throughout the day. His power looks like this: Everyday, we can count on Roo to disrupt our typing, our yoga, and our conversations with a sharp nudge of his long pointy nose. A nudge that is often so powerful it will make your hands fly off the keyboard or unbalance you to the point that you go crashing to the floor while in a yoga pose. For Roo, a nudge means “See me. I am here. I want/demand your attention.” And therein lies the lesson.Instead of waiting for something or someone to give us what we want/need perhaps we should be  doing a little nudging of our own. A type of nudging that spells out our needs and desires in a way that allows the important people in our lives to give us the chance to respond in surprising and magical ways. By letting his needs be known, Roo, usually gets what he wants. Perhaps it is time that we all learn to do the same.

So today try a new way of living.  Seize the day by the horn and get out there and nudge. Nudge hard, nudge soft but let your needs be known in an obvious nudgy sort of way. From a dogs perspective it works and from a human perspective I think the rewards are well worth the risk.

IMG_0994

Right Speech, Better Communication

imgres-2

Throughout my life I have been a person who is expressive. A person who uses lots of words and used them well. Too well it seems. I used words to let everyone know exactly what was on my mind at all times. I let words leave my mouth like flying monkeys swooping up people without thinking about the true meaning of my words. I didn’t care how I said IT just as long as IT was said.

Recently, it has occurred to me that my words were hurting others and as a result they were hurting me too. I realized that I was not connecting my heart to my tongue and had no idea how to do so. Even though I knew I wanted to change how I communicated I had idea of how to go about it. But then I chanced upon the Daily OM and the course How to Communicate Like a Buddhist : Lesson 1: The Elements of Right Speech by Cynthia Kane.

Kane’s way of approaching communication is different from anything I had ever seen. She states that the real purpose of communication is to help ourselves and others suffer less. And when communication is looked at through this lens it tosses convention aside and it makes it crystal clear that if we wish to change our relationships then the words we use, the intention behind them, and the way that we speak through them must be radically changed into talk that is kinder, more honest and most importantly… helpful… to those receiving our words.

images

The thing I love about this course is that you pay for it based on what you think it is worth to you. Kane’s talks are detailed, thoughtful and in short…amazing. In addition, there is nightly homework to help firm up the ideas you are learning and put them into practice.

So here’s to better communication everyone! May your words be true, kind and helpful and may your well-chosen words spur you on to better and more rewarding relationships!

imgres-3

 

Closeness

*The other day I posted about the distance I was feeling in my marriage. A very smart reader inspired me to write about what I want. Here it is.*

I would like to feel the kind of closeness with you that you feel when a newborn baby is first placed in your arms. The feelings of awe and beauty in what you have created make you feel elated.A sense of total dedication and belief in all the possibilities that lay before you open to you and bloom like a rose. The total acceptance of this person and the belief you can handle whatever lays before you with them. The way they fit so perfectly in your arms and automatically snuggle in, burying themselves deeper into your heart and soul.

imgres-3

I want the sort of closeness with you that feels peaceful and reassuring. A closeness in which what what I see before me is truth in all its glorious nakedness and not something dressed to cover it up.

I want a quiet and dignified closeness in which you know the person so well that they will tell you when you are wrong in a way that allows you you to hear it and know it is true because they love you enough to tell you. In a way that in reaching for your hand they are actually grabbing onto your heart and holding it gently in their hands.

I want a closeness with you in which your love knows and acknowledges my flaws while gently trying to lead me to a better way, not through superiority but through genuine good will wished for me. A person who tries to concentrate on the good and not only acknowledge the bad in me. The kind of closeness that encompasses true forgiveness and understanding.

I want a closeness with you in which if I had to have a mastectomy in wouldn’t bother me that I had missing parts because I know you could let those go knowing that I have other parts that were just as precious and wonderful.

I want to feel a closeness with you in which talking to each other throughout a work day feels like a bonus, like a 5 minute picnic in a meadow full of warmth and happiness instead of feeling like a chore.

imgres-2

I want a closeness with you that at times needs no words. It is just strong and steady and something we can hold onto while feeling safe and confident when the gales of life threaten to pull us from one another.

I want to feel a closeness to you that feels like the biggest and best quality feather bed ever made. It feels light  and airy and its a place where deep rest and relaxation can be found.

I want to feel a long-term closeness with you not something fleeting and temporary based on whims and moods. But something strong and sure  like a Boy Scout knot that won’t come untied unless you release the ends with purposeful intent.

I want to feel a closeness with you that is steadfast and steady like a dogs love and admiration to his people. No questions asked, it is just there unwavering.

images-2

I want to feel as closeness that is devoid of fear, mistrust and hidden agendas. I want this closeness to be pure and bright like a guardian angel or like the closeness God shows us when we are open to seeing it. Closeness that you guard with your life because you both feel that it is precious and worthy.

images-3

I want to feel a closeness to you like I never have. I want to have a deep never-ending connection with you.