Monthly Archives: April 2015

Relationship 1.0 2.0 3.0?

I’ve been thinking about posts, one in particular, by Deb, where she talks about her marriage. I don’t think I’m in any position to dispense advice. But thoughts, those I do have.

I don’t know what it’s like to be married a long time and not happy in that relationship. I did, however, watch my parents in that life. And I watch other people’s relationships and marriages. I’m innately curious about how other people live, and especially about the dynamics of love and of family (with the thought that two people can comprise a family).

Is there anything more important than the single person you choose to live your life with? Your partner? It just seems to me that the chosen person holds the key to everything vital. There are those people, who live together, who are married, but effectively go their own ways, and lead lives apart from one another. But most people are powerfully involved with their partner – and more importantly, most people are powerfully affected by their partner.

The other person in your life can build you up, tear you down, add to your happiness, or steal your happiness. They can make you laugh or they can make you despair. They can slowly, gradually, even imperceptibly, change who you are till you become a far greater version of yourself than you might have been alone – or conversely, a shadow of who you once were.

As I say, I’ve no long relationship to bring into the conversation. Still, I speak from my point of view. When I am involved, it is inherently my nature to become deeply invested. I am hyper-aware of the people in my life. I can’t help it. In the past, I have become more invested in some people than warranted. Like, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being little invested and 10 being overwhelming invested, I’d invest 8 where I probably should have invested 5 or 6. That is, the person wasn’t necessarily someone I shouldn’t know or be involved with, but the DEGREE was at issue. I didn’t get that at the time. I had more of a one-size-fits-all approach.

I wasn’t naive – I didn’t let things go too far in that I felt helpless or emotionally dependent to the extent I made irrevocable decisions not in my interest. Ones I would have paid dearly for, ones I’d STILL be paying for had I let them go forward. But I look back, and I see myself trying to pound square pegs into round holes. What a fat waste of time. And really – did I have it to waste? Does anyone?

I have learned. I began, in my relationships, to dial back my investment to more appropriate levels. To look closely at someone and where I truly thought they belonged in my life. I sometimes use the metaphor of a house. That is, you are the house. You decide how far into your house someone should be allowed to come. Some people don’t make it past the front door. Their behavior, demeanor, and attitude make clear this is a person that shouldn’t cross your threshold. Which isn’t to say, they won’t TRY. Others are permitted into the foyer and if they act right there, you might invite them to sit down or enter the living room. And so on as it goes.

Some relationships aren’t meant to go beyond certain levels. And to try to push them, or more importantly I find as a woman, to ALLOW someone else to push them past that point, can be a huge mistake with deep consequences. There are those who ultimately raise families with people they should have stopped seeing after the second date.

The trouble also, is once someone is deeply ensconced in a relationship and simultaneously unhappy, it can be difficult to tell if any subsequent dissatisfaction can be genuinely attributed to the other person. The partner can sometimes be viewed as a scapegoat, i.e., “I’m not happy, therefore it must be your fault.” I know that if I am unhappy in a relationship, I become consumed with that feeling. I mean, it can be hard to tell what is fair, or not fair, to lay at the other person’s feet when you’re in the thick of it.

Increasingly, as I became aware of these things I am writing about, I put them into effect in my relationships. I did not get “swept away” or allow myself to be corralled by someone else’s agenda. I don’t know the extent that other women are susceptible to that but by and large, I’d say women are generally more vulnerable to going along with someone else’s plan than are men. We permit ourselves to be flattered or talked into questionable relationships, and later, to stay in them past the point they either suit or serve us. Not always, but often enough that it is a phenomenon. I see it.

First, as I said, I dialed back my involvement in relationships where over-involvement wasn’t warranted or WASN’T WARRANTED YET. But more importantly, I cleared the decks and my mind in such a way, that I no longer could attribute happiness or lack there of, to anyone but me. This is a scary undertaking and yet, so well worth it, I’ve found. I returned the focus to center. The fact is, I began to treat myself more like the way I always wanted to be treated in relationships. Nothing extravagant, just improved. I found I had a better idea of how to treat me than other people did. Or at least those I’d had relationships with in the past. I effectively stopped waiting on other people, real and imagined.

All blame and all credit is now at my feet. The time and energy I put into other people (where I shouldn’t have or not as much), I took back and put into me. Again – you’d not necessarily be all that impressed with what I’ve managed, but for me, it’s huge. I see so very clearly that I am the best investment I’ve got. I’m the investment that needs to last, to go the distance. And if I’m stingy with myself, I will pay. It’s taken me a very long time so see that. And really believe it. I never used to look at things that way, which is to say, realistically. But I don’t mean realistically in the no-fun-at-all way (“realistically” sounds so dry & boring to my own ears, but that’s not how it feels). Look, if I still thought about things the way I did at 20 or 30 or approached my relationships the same way I did then, that would be a problem!

The things I’m telling you about are ongoing. But the direction seems right. I like it.

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Bed Time

When I was a kid, grade school age, I read a quote from a guy in a band in what I remember as Tiger Beat magazine. I don’t remember the name of the guy or his band but I’ve never forgotten what he said:

Whoever invented the bed should be given a medal.

What a funny thing, I thought, for an adult (a guy who was likely, in retrospect, in his early or mid-twenties) to say! Since I didn’t know about sex, I almost certainly didn’t interpret the quote in that light. I’ve thought often of his words and the older I got, the more I concurred. Again, not because of the sex angle either. I just think beds are grand! I feel so lucky to get to sleep in one. I love my bed.

I remember when I was in my twenties, telling my sisters I called it “The Happy Bed.” I’d climb on in and smiling, would say this to myself as I snuggled down. The Happy Bed. Later, one of my sisters told me she’d tried it but said – somewhat accusingly I thought – it didn’t work for her. I wasn’t sure why she thought it would; those were my feelings about my bed.

This thing we humans do – laying down to sleep is kind of strange. What if we slept upright instead and merely stood there like some animals? We wouldn’t need beds, perish the thought!

One of the few things I miss about the winter season once it’s passed, is burrowing under a pile of blankets in bed. That is one of life’s most delicious sensations. I wonder from time to time, if it’s at all related to being in the womb? An unconscious reminder? I have no idea.

What pleases me to no end is that we have to get in bed and go to sleep. It’s not optional. No, I’ll never be one of those silly people who say they’ll sleep when they’re dead and consider time spent in bed a nuisance that cramps their style. On the contrary, it’s one of my favorite places to be. A medal to the inventor indeed! Bed I salute ye!

Hey Big Boy!

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This fella was in a California-grown carton I bought at the grocery store last week. I have never in my life seen a strawberry quite that size. It’s like a small apple. I’m sure it was grown in a perfectly natural, healthy way. I hope I don’t grow fins or something after I eat it.

Early Spring Outfit (bargain-style)

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I put this together to go to a social event on a sunny, breezy, cool Spring day. I think the mix of black with strong, bright colors exemplifies the changing season. If I got too warm I could remove the jacket; the dress has half sleeves. I rolled up the jacket sleeves so the amount of skin I bared at my wrists matched the amount of leg I showed between the capris and boots.

I got the fabulous orange purse (one even men notice/compliment which is rare in my experience), the unstructured jacket, and the Frye boots that just needed spiffying up, for only a dollar apiece from thrift stores. I don’t buy leather goods as a rule but my thinking with second-hand leather is the cow is already dead and the profits are going to a thrift store, nonprofit, etcetera. My high ticket item, the $10 Mi Manchi dress, came several years ago from, appropriately, a Ross Dress Store, and I found the leggings for $4 on Amazon.

I wore an orange ring, red dangly earrings, a silver watch and silver bracelet.

Signs of Problems…

This week Tim wrote a post on silly signs at his workplace, a follow-up to his earlier post. I enjoyed these, all the more so because I’d been wanting to share with you a couple signs in my community, but first I needed to actually go out and take the pictures, which I have done.

A sign has recently appeared at each of the local playgrounds, and it has certainly caused some reactions.
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Now, maybe I could see the wisdom of these signs if playground equipment was still metal, the way it used to be. But most playgrounds around here are now made of a hard plastic-y type material. When I was a kid and touched a hot slide or other metal playground equipment, I just stopped touching it. Nothing like second-degree burns on the back of the legs to wisen up a child right quick!

People said maybe our City was pre-empting, or concerned with, law suits. No doubt. But I kind of have the feeling that citizens who are inclined to sue or raise a flap over their children encountering hot playground equipment are unlikely to be detered by signs. Moreover, I shudder to consider the direction this is leading.

What bothers me about the sign, beyond its obviousness is its size vs the gigantic square post it’s placed on. It looks like a steroid-injected weight lifter with a tiny head.
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Hey, how about this: what if a child isn’t looking and RUNS INTO THE SIGN? Will we need a sign to warn people about the upcoming sign? Oh, I’m being silly. That could never happen. No, because children aren’t supposed to run at the playground. That’s right. Check out THIS adjacent sign.
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Closeup:

You can see how someone felt about the “NO RUNNING” admonishment.

I’ve saved the best for last. This particular sign is posted at multiple locations surrounding the local lake. I’ve eyed it with bemusement since it appeared. On this occasion, taking a picture for my blog, I felt it needed a little editorial comment. I guess the obvious thing would have been photoshopping but I don’t have photoshop and really, I wanted to see this in person.
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Now before you ask, although I REALLY would have liked to, no, I did not leave my editorial comment in place. Not long ago I made a smart remark on a public discussion online to similar effect, so, if anyone was paying attention, I already tipped my hand (short of going ahead and signing my name to it). Also, while I think it’s funny as hell, I can imagine those who would not: “Vandalizing public property,” “Encouraging other people to do this sort of thing,” “It’s no laughing matter when a tree limb falls on someone,” etcetera, etcetera….

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Fake, Healthy “Icecream”

Like plenty of people, I love icecream, but it’s not exactly a health food. Thankfully, I discovered a wonderful fruit-based substitute courtesy of the internet, one that I tweaked a bit. A food processor is needed although a blender might work, I’m thinking, if you didn’t make it as thick. I have a food processor attachment for my blender which works great (I didn’t even know you could buy accessories for blender bases till a couple years ago). The treat satisfies my urge for sweets and it’s good for me. Seriously, I don’t miss icecream when I have this.

It lends easily to variations, depending on what ingredients are on hand.

For this occasion, I combined

-one ripe banana
-frozen mango, frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries, frozen strawberries (the strawberries I bought fresh and froze; the others were store brand frozen berries).
-unsweetened coconut
-brown sesame seeds.

Doesn't that look amazing?

Doesn’t that look amazing?

Other possible options are ingredients like yogurt, pumpkin, peanut butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon, blackstrap molasses, vanilla flavor, or canned fruit. Basically, I just look around and see what I have. I don’t get too freaky ’cause I think something like canned or frozen spinach, for example, could screw with the taste. If you want, add a little water to the mix for a smoother, thinner “icecream,” but watery ingredients like yogurt will also accomplish the same.

Bananas, blueberries, Brown sesame seeds, cocoa powder

Bananas, blueberries, Brown sesame seeds, cocoa powder

Frozen fruit and sweet potato

Frozen fruit and sweet potato

Frozen blackberries help make that gorgeous color

Frozen blackberries help make that gorgeous color

Yogurt, frozen bananas, strawberries, and butternut squash

Yogurt, frozen bananas, strawberries, and butternut squash

Frozen fruit and canned pumpkin

Frozen fruit and canned pumpkin

One last personal note. The glass or kingly goblet in the photo is special. I bought a pair of them for .50 apiece when I was a teenager, from a discount department store. They are solid as all get out, having survived lots of use and many moves. I can’t think of one thing in my kitchen I’ve owned longer. I love to use them here so I can admire the beautiful colors as I eat dine.