Relationship Health

Today’s handy dandy reading begins with this quote:

A relationship can’t be healthier than the people in it.”

Wow. Is this true or what? If you have repeated mistakes over and over with your relationships, perhaps your model is faulty. In some homes, anger isn’t expressed verbally. Silence reigns supreme. And if you have a major player who slams doors, cupboards, drawers, etc., it plays out as a rather noisy display. No one argues out loud. The kids learn to avoid confrontation but to be noisy with objects under certain circumstances. Not healthy when you learn what all that means.

Next door, you may find a household where they yell and throw things and the whole neighborhood witnesses the anger and it’s results. There may or may not be physical bruises on one of the adults and/or the children. This is an extreme, but it’s real for some folks. Sometimes, an adult or child has bruises on their spirit. Those are hardest to see and heal. It may take a lifetime.

In the book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz talks about what he calls, “Domestication and the Dream of the Planet.” In this chapter, he says everything we experience is a dream. While we are awake and while we sleep. When we are awake, time becomes the material frame that makes us perceive things in the order they occur. While sleeping, we do not have a frame, and dreams change constantly within the subconscious. Often, we do not remember the dreams we make while sleeping.

Ruiz further speculates before we were born, all of society through the ages combined their collective dreams into one mass dream which he calls the dream of the planet. Within this structure is the dream of family, community, society’s rules, beliefs, laws, cultures, school structures, events, holidays, etc.

As humans, we’re made to dream. What happens when we’re born is we become part of the dream of others. They dutifully teach us all that is in their dreams for us, along with what society deems necessary. Wow. That’s heavy!

As children, we learn to follow what catches our attention. It could be the soothing voice we heard before birth, which we learn to call Mama. For some children, it is the yelling heard before birth, which they learn later is their Mama. Both children will behave differently with their Mama because of this early conditioning.

We discuss attention a lot in these times. I think a lot of outside influences alters length of attention span. You cannot give a kid a video game on your phone constantly as a calming device and expect them to have a long memory or attention span. Again, they behave differently because of this early experience. Other influences include school, religion, and other groups which are repeated over and over. They become part of the child’s dream, without him or her accepting or rejecting them.

Just think, we have learned how to behave in public, at school, in church, and at the local amusement park all because we watch and mimic those around us who have given us our dreams. Not everyone likes the same things, yet we all believed Disney World is truly the “happiest place on earth.” All it takes is a walk through the giant cafeteria areas at meal time to see all the upset children, angry parents, and over-tired babies to make me question if that statement is true. I question that.

Hooking the attention of others is a major marketing plan. Our teachers hooked our attention to learn; our pastor or priest hooked our attention to worship God; Mom & Dad, Sisters or Brothers, all hooked our attention to soothe us, teach us, correct us, and believe. If our attention isn’t hooked, we don’t store the information they offer. As kids, we believe everything adults say.

Ruiz calls this the domestication of humans. Just as our pets, domesticated by humans hooking their attention, babies and young children are also. The difference? Your pets don’t (usually) question the truths they learn during the process. The outside dream teaches us how to behave. Reward vs. Punishment becomes the driving force. In school, if we don’t keep quiet while the teacher is speaking, we are punished. If we do what we were told, are rewarded with a good grade.

We (hopefully) learn to keep the law, obey our elders, obey the police, and everyone around us

We are also taught how to judge others. Do they follow our training? No? Why not? A different belief? Oh wow. Mind blown.

As we grow up, we learn to judge others. Michael M. was a smart alec in 8th grade. Got in a lot of trouble because he smiled all the time. The other kids labeled him a troublemaker. We didn’t want to be like him. We didn’t want to be in trouble. I remember once I stated my mind in an essay for school. I used the term, “No matter who doesn’t like it,” when stating my choice in music. The principal called my mom and told me I disrespected her. I learned to keep quiet.

We pay for our mistakes repeatedly in our lives. In a world where true justice exists, we’re found guilty once and serve our time. But humans have the terrible trait of holding a mistake over someone’s head forever. I remember, for about 35 years after divorcing my children’s father, Mom reminded me constantly, “I never wanted you to marry him in the first place!” Yes, Mother, we heard you the first 300 times you told me. R

When a two-year-old says, “NO!” through the balky teenager, to the one who doesn’t feel as if they belong in a family (and there are many of us) sometimes there are those who question things. Their parents, other adults they admire, and society. Some never do. They go along and get along fine.

Ruiz takes time to tell how the definition of hell can be all around us. It’s an idea which could make many depressed. He suggests we are only alive when we risk, take a chance. Risky behavior aside, starting a business at 69 years of age is my risk for last year. Publishing my first book will happen while I’m 70 years old. I am so excited about this part of life on the horizon! The biggest risk I ever took was at 30, divorcing my husband. I had three kids, no full-time job yet, but I knew I had to do it. It all worked out better than I could have ever planned and plotted. I truly believe God timed all those events out in His plan for me and the kids. I was living in hell. It ended when I acted outside the box, the rules, the limitations of my upbringing. That isn’t a slam against my parents. It just didn’t work for me.

Yes, I was the black sheep for a long time. But so what? Yes, it was lonely. Some of us can live without the vast network other people need. Being unconventional is now an asset. You want people in your life. You know darned good and well you can live without them. Some friendships work out, some don’t.

Of course, the Babe and I have talked about when one of us passes away. It will be awful. Because we’ve both lived a long time, we know we won’t die from it. We know we have to keep living. I can only speculate what that will look like. I can just pray to God to guide us when that happens, as will the Babe. Faith takes us a long way in life. And sometimes we have to rely on that alone to go through life’s trials.

Ruiz continues and suggests we need a new dream. That makes sense to me. It is what I learned when I accepted change is inevitable in life and we must change as we learn and live. My life turned out so different than I expected. It’s full of living, love, and resembles nothing I could has dreamed of as a child. Once I took that enormous risk in 1982. It’s been a great ride. I’m grateful and ready for much more.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin my 70s. I look forward to them and having you journey with me. This is going to be some kind of fun. See you tomorrow!

A Peaceful Heart

We all know of someone with a hair trigger temper. A rant can begin at any time, you just don’t know when. Walking on eggshells is no way to live.

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten a pile of papers.”

We all know someone who throws temper tantrums, who slam doors and object to prove their displeasure and stomp around to prove a point. How childish. It’s no way to live.

The outbursts we threaten others are spontaneous in number and severity. We make them watch out, don’t rile us up, or we would intimidate them and make them wish we weren’t around. Is this any way for us to relate to people? Is this any way for these people around us to have to exist?

The outbursts are NOT just blowing off steam. They’re opportunities for a cheap thrill by feeling powerful that simply indicates we are short on coping skills. We forget the steam we justify we’re blowing off actually blasts others in the face. Tirades have never solved a problem. Mom was raised in a home where people argued and yelled. She says her mother made her and her sisters afraid of their father. “Don’t tell Dad” is a terrible thing to do to kids. It teaches them to lie and omit parts of the truth. Kids echo the behavior they see around them. Unfortunately, she was frequently angry. I believe it was overwhelm; she had two children under the age of two and didn’t have a lot of help from Dad. Men did not participate in daily tasks with children in the early 1950s. Again, it depends on how you’re raised.

As folks learn to deal with their anger in a constructive manner, anger should subside. Anger, left untamed, can destroy a person, a family, and guarantee dysfunction for the lives of coming generations. It happens more often than not. The person who recognizes this dysfunction and speaks up is often the black sheep for at least a while. It takes courage to speak up and vow to take a different path than the one your parent followed. They just didn’t know any better. It wasn’t their fault.

What you can do is intend to handle situations differently. Be accountable to yourself. Make it a calmer world for your children. It will also be a calmer world for you, too. Once I realized showing anger towards my children and yelling was not the way a Mom should behave, I stopped. I was about 25 years old when I learned an alternate way to be. My life was full of tension and turmoil due to my marriage. I learned other ways of coping with my anxiety. I became a different person, a much better Mom, and learned about personal growth and improving yourself all the days of your life. And we’re not finished yet.

Think about your peace, and the peace you create in your home. Are people walking on eggshells around you? You can change that. You can choose to break a family curse. Yes you can. Work on your own temper. Is it out of control? Is it too much? Reign it in. Control it before it controls you. Have a beautiful evening. See you tomorrow!

Note to Self: Don’t Trust Your Memory!

We probably missed a once in a lifetime opportunity last evening. As an alumni of Bellevue University, an event was held last night at our Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha. Gary Sinise was the speaker. I sent in reservations for two, printed out the info sheet, and promptly forgot to write it down on the daily calendar. I’m sure it was a very good talk and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the Lieutenant Dan Band with him. That hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it would have been way cool.

And I missed it because I trusted my faulty memory again. Yeah, that wasn’t one of my better moves. But you know what? It’s not the first mistake I’ve made and certainly won’t be my last. That’s what being human gets you. Accepting it is what soul seeking does for you. Once we accept our shortcomings, things are easier. Unless someone else decides to Lord them over you as a “joke”. Then you can become angry or worse. And why? You know you’re not perfect. Why get angry?

Again, we can’t escape being human. It is something that never changes until after we die and enter eternity. Hopefully, that’s a long time away. Until then, I’ll get mad if you give me too much crap and push me beyond, “I’m just joking.” Sometimes you really aren’t. Sometimes it’s a poke at something you may not like about me, and usually it’s true. It’s part of my humanness and imperfection. Would you like a litany of your imperfections? I didn’t think you’d like it. Even if I were “just joking.” I wouldn’t be. I’d be trying to hurt you back.

And doing that is a knee-jerk reaction of protection. It’s learned, I think. Is it from being bullied as a kid? Could be. A long, long time ago, I’d pounce, unloading on the person who committed the “crossing the line,” or I’d just keep quiet and feel lousy about myself, thinking, “Yeah, they’re right.” That’s also a learned behavior. Your spirit is beaten down so you can’t react or stick up for yourself. Takes time to unlearn that. Why hurt someone simply because they hurt you? Tempting as it is, at the very least, it’s not how I’d want to be treated.

Breaking the curse of dysfunction takes many, many years. A lot of self-analysis. And you can feel proud when you are in a situation and think of how NOT to handle it. How you can draw a boundary between what’s a “joke,” and what isn’t. And how you’d react if you hadn’t learned how damaging that lashing out behavior can be. You feel better about showing the anger but not the “getting even” behavior that is so destructive. You have established a line you won’t cross. And that’s a good thing.

It’s not easy living with other humans, no matter your ages or longevity of your relationship. Loving someone isn’t simply enough. You have to have understanding of each other and where they come from sometimes. That is the hardest thing of all. Especially when your other person may have had a bad day, or bad moments from their own rubbish in their brain. It happens. We all have it. Let’s all take out the rubbish, the garbage of bad self-esteem. Let’s clean house of those bad memories that trigger things in ourselves we don’t like. It’s about getting through things, not over or around them.

Personal improvement is not easy. Recovering from traumas isn’t either. Anything worthwhile in this life is hard! The driving force behind my love for the Babe is, “Someday, one of us won’t be around. It doesn’t matter when the 1% sneaks in and rears it’s ugly head. It’s the 99% of contentment and love that matters.” That thought has been forefront since two close friends have lost their husbands this year alone. I don’t want to have any regrets as my grandmother did. We might not get our tomorrows.

That said, I hope to be here to write tomorrow. I hope you’re here to read. And I hope to become a better person. Work on that today with me. The world will become kinder, and we can all use that.

Fab Friday!

This is a late start today. My gosh, Goldie has a lot of pent up energy. She wanted to play. She finally stopped and now she went off elsewhere to take a nap. I almost need one! She is a sweet girl, and I hope someday I’ll get some strength back to be able to walk her. Maybe by then she’ll walk better. Until then, the Babe is also the dog walker.

By the photos shared today, I suppose it seems I’m feeling a little mushy. Mushy is ok. I know people who are angry all the time. I think they’re just scared because they can’t control everything around them, and it causes anxiety. Anxiety is often what fear creates, and most don’t want to admit they are afraid. They’d rather act angry. Anger can be appropriate, it can be valid, it can be justified. What you don’t want is have it rule you. You lose so much then.

Later, I’ll be organizing the photos I have of Roxie. They’re a look back not only at her, but also of Gavin. They grew up together. They both could be a couple of stinkers at times, but when they were together, wow! They were good together, and she loved to just look at him. She trusted him. He loved her. It was sweet.

I have a little rewriting to do on the children’s book project, and will do that before the end of today. I want it fresh for a meeting I have tomorrow. Not sure how long it takes to get an LLC established, but once my attorney gives me notice, we’ll have cause for celebration!

I want to keep an open mind in 2021. Not that I didn’t before; it’s been a few years since I’ve thought, “Oh, I can’t do THAT!” I’ve listened to both my smart daughter, my sons and their encouragement, and of course, the Babe, who have all said, “Go do it!” Learn how, you’ve got time. By having an open mind, we can have new opportunities. Keep yourself open. I’ve found if I can’t come up with an immediate why I shouldn’t, I need to at least try.

The trouble is, when you want to do a lot of things, all of them different, it’s hard to pick what you’ll do right now. In the fall, I removed all the shiny new art supplies I bought. They went to storage in the crafting room, I can’t have them in my sight right now. I took a month off from writing about Katie Fitzgibbons, and my children’s book caught my attention. It’s “almost done.” Well, the words are “almost done.” I think inspiration got my attention and told me this project will finish soon. The wheels are in motion. 

Who knows what other opportunities will reveal themselves this year? 2021 will be good. The nation will heal. We have too many good people to not heal. The politicians all need to take a cold, hard look at themselves. And each other. Term limits will help. New ideas will never come to light by old, stinking thinking. And age has not a thing to do with it. Let’s all do away with stereotypes for groups we encounter this year. No, Republicans are not all old men. Democrats aren’t the only ones with heart and souls. We all have those things. You can be chronologically old yet have young ideas and heart. We all have to get over ourselves. Yes, all of us. We live in a world where we all affect each other eventually.

Thanks for joining me today. I appreciate it and plan to see you tomorrow. Let’s all be kind, be safe out there, too. Pray for our great nation. Let us remember we are supposed to be leaders, not followers. Have a beautiful afternoon.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com