Archive for the 'Water' Category

The Benefit of the Doubt

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that anyone can keep. Give the people you love, starting with yourself, the benefit of the doubt. Generally speaking and almost without exception most of us are doing the best that we can at any given moment. We are being as loving as we can be, as kind as we can be, as generous as we can be, even though our best might not make it, even and especially in our own eyes.

This was brought home to me in a deep and personal way as I spent the holidays with my original family. Although the visit did not include any storming out or other traumatic arguments that suggested the end of the relationship, the very lack of them and what was left over made the reality of the relationship clear. It was a bittersweet departure, with this realization of what was left between us, and our agreement to not try to be understood or provoke a healing in all the old wounds.

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Cushion for the Heart

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Love is the one treasure that multiplies by division. It is the one gift that grows bigger the more you take from it. It is the one business in which it pays to be an absolute spendthrift. You can give it away, throw it away, empty your pockets, shake the basket, turn the glass upside down, and tomorrow you will have more than ever.

Our breasts cushion our heart. As our hardest working organ, our heart never sleeps, beating over 2 billion times in a life time and circulating 50 million gallons of blood. Impossible to think that one could ever take this organ for granted, but so constant is the heart, we rarely celebrate its function or recognize it’s needs. Hearts perform best that are dosed with generous amounts of love and can bear the thrill of new romance as well as the tragedy of loss with equanimity. They strain under repressed emotion and isolation. Studies show both more stable heart health and increased longevity in the context of sustained loving relationships. Hearts need to be heard.

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Two Feet In

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Although I don’t remember the exact day that I pulled the one foot that I had out the door back into my marriage, Today, celebrating 24 years of marriage, I can’t remember the last time that it occurred to me that I would ever leave. It seems like I should remember when that change took place as it so profoundly changed the very fabric of what we were doing together, but like most things in life that are daily, we don’t see them as they are happening. They are clear as we look back.

We never had a fairy tale marriage, and in fact anyone who claims to have one is probably either not really present or honest. Our love for each other was uneven and the common issues of attraction and initiation- who wanted who, first and more, plagued our ability to connect for years. The classic, “I am not in the mood” or “I am tired” responses create a cycle of defensive and offensive reactions that is almost like a pre-patterned dance. It’s a scenario that many couples just don’t have enough language to find their way out of.

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Take the Time

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them. I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with…” Jim Croce’s last love song still brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it, the truth of it becoming clearer with each passing year.

Almost every great love story shares this common theme of the brevity of love, whether it lasts for a year or fifty years. The moment you become deeply grateful for the gift of love you share with another person, the more fragile and ethereal the love becomes. This year’s Valentine’s Day celebration was a personal testimonial to that experience; our cards to each other this year a testimony to all the years we have spent learning to love each other, and the grace, strength and courage that the work of staying bestows.

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Forgiveness – The Action Verb

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness.”  — Peter Ustinov

If love is a verb, than forgiveness is the action verb. It is the highest form of love and the single behavior that most distinguishes our human potential. In an ancient tale from the Kaballah, God told some angels in training that the capacity to forgive is the most excellent gift in the human experience, more essential to the continuity of life than the courage to sacrifice your own life for someone else or enduring the pain of giving life. God explained to the angel ‘Forgiveness is the only reason my creation continues. Without forgiveness, all would disappear in an instantaneous flash.’

Certainly some might suspect this true with a quick glance to the Middle East. What would it look like if the rule of power and force was replaced with a mandate for the strength and courage of forgiveness? The comment by Desmond Tutu that “Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are realpolitik, because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future’ speaks volumes about the state of things.

And yet we don’t have to look that far, for most of us, right in our own homes we struggle with hurts, real and imagined that separate us from the ones we say we love. The smallest of details in sharing a life with someone can easily and often with out notice turn into a story line about the person you love. For years, my disregard of my husband’s need for order and cleanliness and in turn his disgust at my laissez faire approach to house cleaning came to mean everything. We weren’t talking about behaviors where we dramatically differed, instead each housekeeping incident was a personal insult that with just a small push inflamed to fury about the other weak points in our relationship.

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The Exchange of Self

Friday, February 13th, 2009

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

Holidays magnify the best and the worst of our relationships. There may be no holiday that reflects this more brilliantly than Valentine’s Day. I spent many years in my 25 year marriage waiting for just the right gift, or the right words on the right card to show me how much my husband appreciated and loved me – I believed then that single moments or holidays done right could heal the long standing differences between us. The years that worked the best were the ones where we were already on solid and intimate ground. The years when we were estranged or exhausted, Valentine’s Day served only to illuminate our distance. The good ones and the bad ones have both taught me about reasonable expectations in relationships and for Valentine’s Day.

Collectively we are heavily invested in this holiday of love. Worldwide spending is over $28 billion and here in the US sales are expected to top $13 billion. That is a lot of love to be celebrating, given that so many of us are broke and afraid for how long it will take to prop up our ailing economy. This is a testimony to the fact that our need for love, both giving and receiving it, is as basic a need as our needs for food and water. Humans thrive on love, our existence without meaningful relationships is a shadow of what we were put on earth to do.

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The Vitality of Sleeping…Together

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Sleep is our most basic human need. Some thirty million of us will attest to the impact of insomnia on well being. Indeed, unlike fasting from food which humans can survive for weeks, being deprived of sleep can kill you in days. The impact is so severe, that it not only precipitates physical disability, but also insanity which it is why it was one of the cruelest and most inhumane torture methods ever devised. Considering that complete lack of sleep is fatal, it is not really a stretch to realize that consistent late hours and a growing sleep debt we all share is responsible for a wide variety of illness, injury and disease. The ability to rest and rejuvenate is at the essence of our vitality.

Under the best of conditions, maintaining loving relationships is one of life’s biggest rewards and challenges. Many of us don’t realize how big role exhaustion plays in our relationship skills. The patience to nurture the bonds of intimacy in our relationships is not strengthened through fatigue, rather it is often one of its first victims. The struggle between sleep and sex is a common one for most couples in long term relationships. Tiredness is one of the most commonly cited reasons for not being intimate.

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In Sickness and In Health

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

If love is so healing why does it hurt so much? This is a good question with difficult answers. Love the verb is a constant practice of feeling compassion, giving the benefit of the doubt and struggling to feed our goals and desires, as well as those of whom we love. This aspiration is a juggle even in the most functional of relationships; and the score rarely comes up 50-50.

Approaching our intimate relationships with the intent of an action verb is realistic, if not a bit daunting. The romantic version of the verb, the measure we use for our love relationships, reflects the illusion of love as a vacation. We sit side by side in some beautiful natural location and the only action required is offered by the love that we feel, washing over us, filling us, just as easily as the nearby waterfall washes over and fills the streambed. Physical intimacy carries the potential to generate this experience; flush with heightened hormones and released tension; lovemaking seems to encompass all of what is love.

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Showing Up

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007


When I teach about the Ecology of Love and talk about the water that lives between people I often use the term “showing up” to describe the flow that happens in relationships. In relationships, like the ocean, there is an ebb and tide to how we are present for each other, but if the water in the relationship is always out, then both people feel alone more often than they feel like there is someone at their back. Many people go through years in partnerships where the experience of loneliness is profound. It is something that I struggle with in my own marriage, each of us having a different sense of what togetherness means and how much of it we need.

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A Romance of the Ordinary

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

womanfieldflowers“I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” — Vincent Van Gogh

I found this quote recently and have been hanging onto it, almost like fingers clutching a ledge, as the onslaught of stories and information pours on about the demise of our current state of relationships. Last week’s coverage of the historic turn of events where more women (51%) are living without a spouse than with one. Depending on your race the statistics are as low as one in three (Black women) and only as high as 6 out of 10 for Asian women.

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