Seasonable

A short piece of heart-writing

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Seasonable

Is this how the one before me felt
when I posted pictures of us?

I can’t tell what hurts most, missing you
or my damaged pride. You are the first to move on
and now others know.

It was warm when we met.
Not this unseasonable warmth. It was the perfect season
for walking the city, laughing and holding hands.

In this warm night air my body is flooded
with memories. I feel you on my skin.

Can I love what we had
without pining for more?
You left. I let you go.

I am ready for something else.
I am scared to start anew.

It was a special time we had
though not always easy. I want to honor it,
honor us. But how do I love our past
and live in the present?

Do I feel honored?

~KM Lindsay
April 2016

 

 

Who Put the Free in Responsibility?

freenresp“We can be just as free as we are responsible.”
— Fred Rogers, The Cosmic Shed

These are not just words of wisdom to speak by, they are a practice to learn how to live by. The next step in learning the dance of Collabortive Relationships, we feature:

Accepting personal & social responsibility.

Blue spiralWe know the “blame game” all too well: “you did this… you did that…you started it.” We spiral down into a hole of tit-for-tat exchange. Truth be told—this is verbal abuse and this is how many are communicating through conflict with each other. We are hitting, smacking, kicking, and beating each other down with our words. This is why we feel so hurt when we walk away from arguments that are based on a reactionary social model. I call it verbal violence.

I remember when I realized my responsibility in participating in verbally abusive interactions, even if I didn’t intend to, or was unaware. I found myself in screaming matches with my partner at the time and one accusation led to another. All the while, I was a self-acclaimed peace activist. Something wasn’t adding up. If I wasn’t finding a way to resolve a conflict peacefully with someone so intimate, I couldn’t claim to be a peace advocate. I went searching for answers.

Non-Violent Communication (NVC) 000060840027_WEB-600x396developed by Marshall Rosenberg has shined the light on our socialized communication tactics that we (often unconsciously) use with each other. Culturally, through media, social norms, and relationship examples around us, we are constantly witnessing unhealthy communication styles rooted in reaction and violence. NVC was a wake up call to accepting my responsibility with how I interacted with my partner. It was hard to face the truth of how my intention (peacefulness) didn’t line up with my behavior (unhealthy communication). As an activist for peace, I was actually doing so much to help the “other side” so to speak—literally. I would be a phony if I didn’t pay tribute to Rosenberg’s NVC work and how it has contributed to my own education in unlearning a violent communication style (which is a constant work in progress).

In my own work, I found that the violence perpetuated by our cultural communication model exists due to the inability to accept personal responsibility i.e. the unwillingness to admit to a weakness, confront a truth, or apologize for one’s actions. I have found that when people accept personal responsibility, it

»  removes the roles of a villain vs. victim dynamic.
»  allows us to be truly honest with ourselves and speak from that place.
»  builds trustworthiness and integrity.
»  strengthens our vulnerability muscle.
»  engages conscious participation in the creation of our lives.
»  opens the doors to thinking about creative solutions, rather than re-living destructive problems.
»  invites people to be accountable in the creation of a situation or conflict.
»  creates openness to hear, respect, and understand one another.
»  engages learning how to navigate healthy conflict.
»  creates a feeling of deeper connection and being known unto each other.

1496_2574When we admit to our personal responsibility in interactions and find resolve by doing so, we are taken out of the confines and cages that blame, dishonesty, verbal violence, assumption, and unconsciousness create. We stand strong in owning-up to who we are with grace. We speak our personal truths. We claim our self-respect. We expand our ability to understand. But most importantly, we open-up and we let each other in. Responsibility is part of how we find the freedom to love and be loved as we truly are.

Coupledom. It Takes Two…

The Honeymoon Phase featured in last week’s article is over.
We’ve done our individual mating-dances to attract one another and we stand at a crossroads:

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The Honeymoon Phase featured in last week’s article is over.
We’ve done our individual mating-dances to attract one another and we stand at a crossroads:

this-way-that-way1That Way. We can continue to dance alone, separately, doing our own thing.

   OR

This Way. We can learn how to dance together, as a team.

lostandfoundphotography_0088-600x396That Way is where many of us remain in relationships, whether realized or not. We may call ourselves a “couple” but don’t know how to operate as a cohesive team. The fixation with the Honeymoon Phase is a reluctance (often unconscious) to learn and grow in the relationship. This leads to stagnancy that create feelings of being trapped, and is often combined with unhealthy communication and unconscious habits. This sets most relationships up for failure, whether ending badly or continue with us feeling unfulfilled and “unhappily ever after.”

In choosing This Way, let me personally welcome us to the second phase of the blossoming romance—Coupledom. It’s a chapter that remains a mystery to us as we so rarely see it in film, fairytales, or most mainstream stories for that matter. The credits roll and we exit the theater daydreaming of yet another “happily ever after” for a couple who’s story ends just when the romance can really begin… and even get better.

So, how can we do Coupledom exactly?

images-3First, acceptance of reality helps. Like all things, relationships grow. They move, they expand, and they deepen. This is perfectly natural and signified in different relationship phases. Some phases are a natural part of overall relationship development. Other phases are perfectly attuned to the people involved. Every phase has it’s own pace, it’s own timing, it’s own lessons. Each person involved in the relationship has their own needs, desires, lessons, and set of circumstances within each phase. These ingredients are important dynamics that create the experience of the relationship itself. In Coupledom, people actively make their relationship together.

Secondly, celebrate the change in phases. Coupledom is a relationship milestone for two people to cultivate their interdependence with one another. Entering into couple-hood is about exploring compatibility, authenticity, vulnerability, values, and each other more deeply. This is the domain of building trust—from greater self-discovery to facing fears. Showing up in conflict, honoring triumphs, enthusiasm for each other’s interests, and receiving each other’s vulnerability are all paramount in strengthening trust, and therefore strengthening togetherness.

As the couple learns more about each other, they make mutual agreements about their
relationship. These agreements stem from honest conversations and check-ins about eachcouple_talking_relationship other’s:

»  needs & wants
»  feelings about the relationship
»  external circumstances that affect the relationship

This builds the overall framework of their relationship, which includes the ability to make new agreements as things naturally shift & change over time. The couple learns how to make necessary adjustments that support each other. The relationship then becomes asensual dance1 partner dance of interplay between the two. Like dance, it is fun, sensual, meaningful, and mistakes are made along the way, but they are understood as a part of the learning process. With practice, the people find their solid, fluid, movements of relating to one another. This is what a healthy rhythm, or dynamic, between two people feels like.

Coupledom is not about dancing alone. Truth Be Told, hyper-indivualistic “independence” must be kicked to the curb. Interdependence must be embraced in order to enjoy meaningful, lasting relationships. Interdependence is a distinct  We, in which independence and dependence dance as equally valuable counterparts in relating. If people would be willing to drop their own mating-dances when the time comes for the sake of discovering their rhythm as a couple, a whole new level of romance awaits.

The Mating Dance

You’re both elated and can’t stop thinking about each other. You want to spend all your time together. Congratulations, you have just entered the Honeymoon phase. Welcome to the easiest part of your relationship.

IMG_2245-copy1In the beginning, there’s an explosion. Fireworks spark between you and another. Life suddenly makes sense. It feels like you finally know why you are here. Everything you ever did, every decision, every person you met led you here, to meet this amazing person. You find out that you’re not alone in your feelings and they feel the same way. You’re both elated and can’t stop thinking about each other. You want to spend all your time together. Congratulations, you have just entered the Honeymoon phase. Welcome to the easiest part of your relationship.

Fireworks may not have exploded for all of us when we met our significant others. It doesn’t matter. Relationships have ever evolving phases & dynamics. The first phase is the Honeymoon. We know it well. We put our best foot forward and show our best sides. It’s a phase that has no timeline. If it did, we might try to prevent the end at all costs. When this seemingly blissful, romantic phase comes to a close, there is only one thing knocking at the door to greet us—reality—at its finest.

lookat1This is when a certain level of comfort sets in and we are no longer performing at our highest, best, and ideal self. We find ourselves right back in the middle of our journey in becoming. What happened? We look to our partners. The things that used to be cute and endearing are now somewhat annoying. Who they seemed to be in the beginning, they aren’t living up to anymore. We’re feeling somewhat duped. What changed?

Descanso-gardens-engagement-4

 

“Is it me? Is it my partner? Are we compatible?”
—The questions arise.

 

lost-and-found-photography-14
“He used to be so affectionate.”
“She used to just come along, even when it wasn’t her thing.”
“They never want to go out anymore.”
—Ahhh, remembering when.

 

 

13788-couple-talking-bed-white-argument-wide.1200w.tn“You’ve changed.”
“You’re different.”
“You’re not who I thought you were.

—The blaming begins.

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“Why can’t things go back to the way they were?”
—We’re holding on to a time when things were “perfect.”

 

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“How did we get here?”
—We wonder…

 

 

Well, I’ll tell you just how we got here. I call it, the Mating Dance. Let’s go back, shall we?
In the beginning is when…

» we put our ideal self forward.
» first impressions are formed.
» the first dynamic of the relationship is created.

974b532d2811cf7e4a698536a91c22f8The Mating Dance is the first dynamic. It’s the courting performance every animal does to entice a mate. Humans are no different. Whether aware of it or not, our euphoria kicks in and we try to show up as attractive as possible to our person of interest. It’s basic biology. In this state, it’s not that hard being our ideal self either. It feels easy in fact. However, seeing this ideal self initially makes an expectation that is hard to let go of once reality knocks. This mating ritual is often the only part of romance that is portrayed in most movie plots and unfortunately, these are the examples we learn from. Which means, the basis of our relationship knowledge stems from a simple snapshot, usually fictional. Couples lose sight of the reality of relationships as a whole.

torrey-pines-engagement-13When reality knocks, let’s get realistic about the Mating Dance too. This dynamic happens between two people who don’t know each other very well. They show off their ideal selves based solely on themselves as individuals. They meet as distinct I‘s or Me‘s. When the Mating Dance dynamic wears off, bringing the Honeymoon phase to a close, the next natural phase of romance awaits. The ecstatic euphoria has calmed down. We feel free to let go, relax, and get real. Congratulations, we’re now comfortable enough, and some needed trust has been built. Remember, this is only the beginning. There is much to come. A new chapter lies ahead, and when we are aware of it and willing, it involves a distinct We. I call this Coupledom.

Next week’s article will feature Coupledom and its dynamics. 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Salvaged.

trash peopleDisposableThe word first came into use in the 1640s, meaning “that may be done without.” It later grew to describe diapers, “designed to be discarded after one use.”¹ However, it didn’t take long for it to pertain to everything…even people.

In our modern society, so much time, attention, and energy is shifted away from building deep and meaningful relationships that serve us, our communities, and the planet as a whole. For most,  time (which is our most valuable contract with Life itself, as we never know how much time we have) is invested in making money to meet our basic needs and pay off debts. We pursue hyper-individualistic paths of leaving a legacy through a brand, product, or outer world achievement to bring fame & fortune. As a result, there are many ways in which we treat each other like we are disposable in everyday interactions and activities. The culture of capitalism is one of “disposable goods,” and life itself is no exception. In short, we practice disposing of ourselves and of each other. This is the curriculum of our culture. In the end, we suffer; our relationships suffer.
images-4I am “damaged goods,” we say, referring to our baggage. Whether we mean childhood needs that didn’t get met (emotional, physical, or both), rejection in romantic attempts or otherwise, or hurts from relationships past, we all experience some level of heartbreak.  At some point, we feel “disposable” in relation to another. We experience being dismissed by another who doesn’t have the time, attention, and energy to give in a moment we need them to. Heartbreak is heartbreak. It hurts. Plain and simple.  And without greater understanding and healing, these experiences form impressions and expectations that are hard to break.

This baggage can work twofold:

1)  It makes us less trusting, lending itself to a hardened protective layer around ourimages-2
heart that ultimately gets in the way of building lasting, meaningful relationships in the future.  From this, we create self-sabotaging patterns that we are often blind to. These keep us from receiving what our heart really desires — to feel genuine connection, to love truly, and to be truly loved.

OR

2)  It refines the filters we use to decide who belongs in our most intimate circles (those who are willing to meet and receive us in our vulnerability).

trashbagdateSo we come to the table as “damaged goods,” our baggage along with us.  To encourage my point, imagine our baggage as trash bags. Then, imagine going out on a date with someone who showed up with 5 trash bags as an indicator of their baggage. This could be off-putting at first, although it might be humbling compared to the 10 you’re carrying. Good thing this isn’t the case; otherwise, we’d be tripping over each other’s baggage all the time. Oh wait…we do. So, what to do? You may be thinking I’m going to offer the obvious, “Leave it in the past, learn to let it go, or just drop it.” Nope.

It’s not trash. Even our baggage needs our time. It’s not disposable. It is part of our story. Whether we like it or not, it shapes who we are. If we are going to learn how to stand in our truths, we must learn to stand in the whole Truth of who we are: the messy and the beautiful. This is a triumph in unlearning our disposable habits. Instead of throwing out the baggage, I offer to lighten our loads. We can learn how to utilize it in a healthy way. I cannot expect anyone to simply drop their baggage, leaving it in the past like it never happened. It did. However, we can learn how to navigate it. This is where the healing comes in.

92e5ff47e564cbcf3aea658eb1f6922cTruth is, we as “damaged goods” can become salvaged goods. It is time we learn to salvage each other. To salvage is about renewal, it is about reclaiming and recycling.  It is about creating things to truly last, which takes quality time. Salvage renders our worth back. In its Latin root, “to salvare, is to make safe, secure.”²  It’s no wonder that our baggage often coincides with our insecurities.salvage flower
So here goes… I am reclaiming you—from the trash.  That’s right! You. And your bags! Mine too.  Let’s go through them together. What’s in there? Can it be useful? Can it be redefined? Renewed? Can it contribute to a creative endeavor? Can it become a gift?  It is time to shift what we’ve been taught about trash and make the time to discover its treasure—Let’s Get Salvaged.

Special Note to Readers.                                                                                                       The art of Salvaging can be very messy. It takes a collaborative approach to begin learning how to navigate baggage in a healthy way.  For beginners, I suggest seeking quality
counsel. It is important to have mutual respect, attention, and energy given in this process. When one-sided, it is an unhealthy relationship pattern.

Contact me with any questions.

Check out this Helpful Hint.

 

¹,² All definitions from: Online Etymology. http://www.etymonline.com

 

Practicing Minimalism in Relationships

In modern relationships, the reality of genders coming to the table to participate in Equal Partnership means this: We have gifts to offer the world through outer-world achievement(s) AND we desire to cultivate quality, intimate connections with loved ones via community and romantic counterparts.

∴Question  How do I make time for my dreams and goals as well as my personal and romantic relationships?



betterworldIn modern relationships, the reality of genders coming to the table to participate in Equal Partnership means this: We have gifts to offer the world through outer-world achievement(s) AND we desire to cultivate quality, intimate connections with loved ones via community and romantic counterparts.

Minimalism is the art of paring down.  Practicing minimalism in relationship means clearing mental & emotional space to make room for what we truly desire to create.  To do this, we must take stock what our major priorities are.  Then, take note of which priorities need your full attention to help facilitate what you actually desire.  Paring down priorities like this can help direct your focus.  Pure attentiveness translates into nurture.  This nurturing communicates deep love for the people and activities we care about around us.

After getting clear about who and where to give your full attention, ask yourself these questions: What adjustments am I willing to make in my life to achieve this goal?  What or who am I willing to commit to in order to fulfill this dream? When all of this is clear, it is important to communicate to your loved ones.

Communication of your own needs and desires and how to create support for yourself is an invitation to others into your intimate world.  When we include others, we are creating deeper connection and intimacy with them.  So when your focus needs to be on an activity that is more about your outer-world achievement, you’re still building intimacy and connection with your relationship(s).  When engaging this kind of communication, be sure that you are also willing to be supportive in return.  Even ask if the other is feeling supported in what he/she/they desire to create.

focusIn a world with so much going on and lots to do and be, it is vital to take time out, step back and map out the bigger picture of your life as well as the collective bigger picture.  Clearing space in your mind and heart and even letting go of what no longer serves our bigger picture purpose, are all aspects of practicing the art of minimalism in a relational way.  We are limited beings that have limited time and energy.  By paring down, we reduce where we distribute our love, but we increase how we love.  This is an important lesson in balance and what it means to truly be present in a world fixated on the future.

 Try this Helpful Hint—tip to try on your own time.


Communication. It’s All in a Word.



imagesI work with all kinds of relationships, but mainly those of the romantic kind.  To be honest, they are my favorite.  I emphasize my work in communication because I found it to be at the heart of relationship.  Quite literally, actually.  In the very meaning of the word relation is  “the act of telling”  also “correspondence” and “connection.”  In the very definition of relating, we find words that imbibe verbal communication and the impact thereof.  What is behind the word communicate?  The root word, commune, means “to talk intimately.”  The word itself means “to share.”   Connection and sharing is the very reason why we humans gravitate towards relationship.

The main issue I have always found in relationships that needed help was miscommunication.  People either misread, misheard, misunderstood and misspoke with one another all the time.  Although their intentions would usually be pure, and each person believed their communication was very clear, in truth, it was not.  This very act of miscommunication is at the basis of almost every conflict I encounter.  Whether it is within myself, with another, among a group or between groups.  There is constant miscommunication.  We, as humans, are constantly, mis-sharing with one another.  Why is this?  As a social scientist, I could go into the myriad of reasons, but that is a book in and of itself.  What I have found, however, is our very ability to communicate and relate with others harmoniously, directly reflects our ability to share.  Helping people develop their ability to share within themselves, and the world around them, is at the core of my work in relationship counseling.

As humans, we are naturally wired for community.  Our innate ability to commune with ourselves, each other, and the world around us has taken a huge back burner within a societal structure that demands our livelihoods revolve around mass production, consumption and exponential monetary growth.  It leaves little time and energy for us to truly commune with ourselves, let alone with each other.  Most communication now happens digitally and I feel this is a symptom of our lack of time in our daily lives that revolve around work for most of us.  In a society that teaches values surrounding individualism, I’m not surprised that so many of us “mis-share” ourselves with one another and find miscommunication to be such an issue in our relationships.

¹All definitions were gathered from the etymological source: http://www.etymonline.com