Archive for the 'Earth' Category

When to Leave

Friday, March 9th, 2012

“There are times when the actual experience of leaving something makes you wish desperately that you could stay, and then there are times when the leaving reminds you a hundred times over why exactly you had to leave in the first place.”  -Shauna Niequist

 

Leaving is bittersweet. Knowing when to leave is not always a simple equation. Even the departing itself  is rarely an experience of simple relief; generally, it is weighted by what is lost, even if the loss is only lives in our imaginings of what was possible. Often when we leave, we lose not only our hopes for the relationship that has ended, but more deeply, for our concept of a future that defined us. I grew up  amidst a long series of leaving and being left. I imagine that this has a lot to do with why I am now usually the last one to leave, hanging onto any vestige of hope that things can turn around. Being left so often as a child is qualitatively different than choosing to leave, and creates odd associations to most endings.  Your history of relationship endings is the foundation of your tendency toward leaving or staying.

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Learning to Stay

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”  ~Buddhist Proverb

 

Working as I have for decades on learning how to sustain and nourish lasting relationships has brought me continuously back to the same question of how to learn to stay both in my own relationships as well as in many others that I have counseled.   Usually the question is a reflection of the viability of the relationship itself.  We look at our partner and ask if they can change or whether the relationship will improve. Generally the question is provoked when we are in the midst of painful times.  We don’t wonder about staying when things are easy and predictable. It is when things fall apart that we doubt whether the work that our relationship or other life commitments is demanding is worth it.

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Infidelity- Proof Your Relationship

Friday, January 27th, 2012

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.” -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We are not a happy sexual bunch. According to a recent CNN poll nearly 40 million Americans are stuck in a sexual rut, and more than 52% of us are dissatisfied with our love lives. A neglected unhealthy sex life makes relationships more vulnerable to anger and resentment and is often cited as the primary motivation for infidelity. Unfortunately, you can’t really cure an unhealthy sexual life without curing the aspects of the relationship that lead you to avoiding intimacy. I know from the thousands of people I have spoken to over the years, that malfunctioning sex lives is the result of malfunctioning relating and almost never the other way around.

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Clean Break

Friday, January 20th, 2012

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” -Helen Keller

When we end our relationships badly, we get stuck in a continuous rebound relationship cycle.  Tragically, the most common and destructive bad endings that plague millions of relationships is when we use infidelity as an exit strategy. Some sex therapists would argue that most affairs, especially when they occur in succession are nothing more than the continuous cycle of ineffective rebounding that takes over one’s relationship history. Certainly repeat marriage statistics bear this out. As dismal as our 50% fail rate is on first marriage, success rates for second marriage drops to 25% and the third relationships only have a success rate of 10%.  Failure rates in successive relationships out of marriage are no better. When we don’t authentically and definitively end our relationships, we carry what remains unresolved into everything that follows.

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The Ashley Madison Moment

Friday, January 13th, 2012

“A final comfort that is small, but not cold:  The heart is the only broken instrument that works. “ ~T.E. Kalem

I wonder what is going through the mind of the man or woman as they fill out their Ashley Madison profile. What emotions dominate as one plans to cheat on one’s partner and betrays promises made?  The spike in signups after holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day is probably a good indicator. It isn’t just the promise of some great sex that gets prospective customers to hit the payment button. In fact many say it is companionship, appreciation and recognition that are the greater fuel towards their path to indiscretion.

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The Cost of Infidelity

Friday, January 6th, 2012

“You can have no greater or lesser dominion than the one over yourself. The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” -Leonardo DaVinci

 

Infidelity is a topic on just about everyone’s mind at some point in their relationship. Whether it lives as a quiet fear, a desperate fantasy or a shame-filled memory, the occurrence of infidelity is so frequent and widespread that it is one of the cultural phenomena of love that holds us all. It is rare for illicit affairs to turn into the lasting relationships we envision when we begin them. The excitement and intrigue produced in the clandestine efforts for secrecy can turn mediocre sex passionate, but generally doesn’t translate well into the mundane action of making a life together. Besides that, the affair itself is often tainted with the pain it inflicts on others left in its wake. Still, the number of people who self report infidelity continues to rise, even in some unlikely relationship categories like newlyweds.

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Traditions of Healing Rituals

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing – peace is the measure.” ~George Melton

As a child I dreaded the holidays. Weeks of uninterrupted solid family dysfunction were made unbearable by what seemed like everyone else having the best time of the year. I remember one year buying a tiny plastic tree and decorating it with cheap lights and tinsel so I could have some holiday spirit, too. I got sick a lot during those vacations and, sitting feverish in front of the holiday film reruns and advertising, only made me feel worse. I know from being married to a doctor for the last three decades, that the holidays are a peak time for illness and emotional breakdowns.

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Where Healing Begins

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” -Carl Townsend

I remember the first time I heard the maxim that “Bad things happen fast, and good things happen over time.” It was a recognition that hadn’t occurred to me until I was faced with sweeping and traumatic shifts in health and relationships. Illness, accidents, natural disasters and even broken hearts happen seemingly instantaneously. In retrospect, we can sometimes see the choices or events that lead up to them, but after the fact it usually doesn’t matter what was missed because now life has become a mission of healing.

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Grateful Body

Friday, November 18th, 2011

“It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here, right now… with its aches and its pleasure is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.”   -Pema Chodron

One of my favorite movie scenes comes from the old Wim Wenders’ film “Wings of Desire” when Peter Falk is speaking to the air, to an angel he senses next to him.  He bubbles with gratitude about the joy of living in a body. The deep satisfaction of physical human experience translated into something as small and often unnoticed as warming one’s hands on a cold winter night with a steaming cup of coffee. He lingers over the strong aroma cutting the night air and the warmth of his breath puffing over the cup.  He laughs at the feeling of tingling heat coming back into numb fingers. I remember this scene each and every time I catch myself taking this bodily experience for granted.

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An Education in Gratitude

Friday, November 4th, 2011

“To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”  -Albert Schweitzer

Gratitude was the most challenging aspect of the positivity quest I have journeyed for close to two years. As a concept and way of living, gratitude is always one of the first concepts taught in positive psychology texts and has, for centuries, been called the greatest of virtues and the parent of all the others. A dear friend of mine once shared with me that the more she practiced gratitude daily, the more her life became increasingly abundant in ways that continued to amaze her. After hearing that I dedicated myself to learn the ways of gratitude throughout what I called the Summer of Gratitude, in which all my writing leaned towards gratitude each day.

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