Tag Archives: relationships

Mating in Captivity Isn’t Just About Sex

Therapist Esther Perel offers insights into some of our funny and often unworkable coping mechanisms for sex.

Perel has spent twenty years as a couples therapist; Mating in Captivity (subtitled Unlocking Erotic Intelligence) is the result. On its pages, Perel explores what interferes with intimacy and sexuality in a long term relationship and what it takes to keep one alive and healthy.

That alone would make this book worth reading for many people who love their significant others, love their relationships but miss the passion of the early days.

But this book offers so much more than insights into keeping a long term relationship healthy and exciting.  In the following excerpt, I found Perel as insightful in the area of parenting as any of the so-called parenting experts currently “selling” their ideas on rearing healthy and happy children.

Throughout our lives we grapple with this interplay between dependence and independence. How artfully we reconcile these needs as adults depends greatly on how our parents reacted to the stubborn duality (hold me-let me go) in our little selves. It is important to point out that our parents’ behavior, what they actually do, is only one part of the situation. Another part is our interpretation of their actions.

 Each child brings an individual resilience to the lottery of life. What might feel good to one will feel overwhelming to another. Some of us may wish our parents had been more involved, while others may cringe at memories of their parents’ scrutiny and intrusion.

 Every family has its preferred responses to dependency and autonomy – what’s rewarded and what’s thwarted.  In the give and take with our parents, we determine how much freedom we can safely experience and how much our connections will require the subjugation of our needs.

 In the end, we fashion a system of beliefs, fears and expectations, some conscious and many unconscious, about how relationships work.

Perhaps what Perel writes about  the “…interplay of dependence and independence” rang true for me because my ex son-in-law just ran head on into my beautiful and only granddaughter, she of the artistic, capricious and oh so creative spirit.

Exercising his usual style of parenting — a combination of bluster, volume and physical size (which he used on his sons, as well), he tried to force her to do what he wanted her to do.  The result was not to his liking and it certainly was not to hers.  Trying to bully a 16 year old girl (who is going on 30), resulted in an explosion that tore their relationship and his “second family” in half.

If he had read Mating in Captivity, he would have read how eloquently Perel captures how different each child is and how very different his daughter, my granddaughter is. Perhaps every parent should remember what it was like to be moving from child to adult and how our parents helped or hurt us.  Perel’s point is that the way this pivotal part of each of our lives is handled affects all of us in our adult relationships.

If you’re a parent, this is a golden insight.

BTW – Perel has delivered a number of very interesting and insightful TED talks which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

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Filed under Gifts, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas

Preparing for Your Inner Journey | The Chopra Center

Sometimes things happen that we think are random.

But most of the time, it’s the universe, speaking clearly to us.

As you may know, I have been taking Deepak Chopra’s and Orpah’s 21 day meditation. Once I finished, I started receiving emails with gifts – 7 days of them. One was for a new meditation series – Awaken to Happiness, which I started today.

This series is free, too. Each lesson takes a week of learning…growing and starting to see – beginning with exploring happiness and identifying your true source of happiness.

Today, the first day, the universe sent me to an article by Caroline Myss – an article about taking a journey inward to learn more about my self, my ego, my reactions and my life.

Since it is the first day of a new year and since I consider this article to be a gift from the universe, I wanted to share it with anyone who wants to begin a new year with a new journey – one that can quiet the noise of always needing
“…just a bit more” whether it’s stuff, money or ego boosting.

I wish everyone the best in 2014 and hope that you might want to join me as I begin to journey into what really makes me happy – who really makes me happy, as I begin to discover the wonderful spirit that lives inside my skin — my soul.

Namaste

Preparing for Your Inner Journey | The Chopra Center.

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Education, Gifts, Mysteries, World Changing Ideas

Life As We Know It Is Over

What makes me strong?  What keeps me from breaking under the load we all call life?

I have been asking that question for a dozen years.  My husband has been hospitalized more than 30 times since 2001.  He had bladder cancer.  He just kept growing tumors and finally they had to take his bladder out and put in a conduit to the ostomy that we now call Fred.

Then he had infections – and more infections and yet again, infections.  Over the last 10 years we have spent our vacations in the most expensive resort in the country – the hospital.  A jail cell really but it’s mostly white with nice subdued drapes and wardens dressed as nurses in navy  blue.

Recently, my husband did hand to hand combat with  melanoma which made a difference in how we spend our time, our money, our personal currency.

Now, he is being laid off.  He will be 60 when the axe finally falls.  He will be too old to employ – too young for social security or medicare.  And he will still be sick, still be in the hospital 2 or 3 times a year and still be the man I love with all my heart.

I am a master’s prepared, professional who is applying for jobs as a receptionist, an administrative assistant., a dog walker, anything to get a job that will help bridge the gap between his layoff and his 65th birthday.

But I can’t get a job.  We can’t sell our house.  And we cannot stop the layoff that is rolling toward us at the speed of light.

How did this happen?  When did we become part of the fringe that cannot sustain itself in this country  – the land of the brave, the land of the free?

Welcome to America – 2012.  Welcome to our country where people work and do a good job and pay their taxes and still get screwed.  This is the land where the rich once again get richer and the rest of us pay for their privilege.

We”ll keep fighting.  We will stay together.  We will find a way, smaller, narrower but still together.  But is this what is supposed to happen to people who have lived a good life?  Worked hard?  Helped out our families?

Who knows? All I know is that this is our lot.  And this we will face together — until death do us part.

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Filed under Budgeting, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Politics, Saving Money

Project 365 – Smile!

Maybe a smile is all you have to give but the power of that smile to lift up someone who is having a bad day or whose life is changing cannot be underestimated.  

And guess what? Smiling doesn’t just make you feel better; it makes the other person feel better, too according to researcher Ron Gutman.

Gutman says that smiling is also associated with reduced levels of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, increased levels of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins and lowered blood pressure.

Researchers at UC Berkeley demonstrated that smiles can yield information about the smiler including how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on standardized tests of well-being and general happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others.

In fact, UC Berkeley has created a new area of study centered on what it’s calling the science of happiness.

So next time you’re feeling down or a co-worker or friend is having a bad day, consider sharing your smile with someone else. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s just one way you can start changing yourself and your world.

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Thoughts on Winter & Darkness & Politics

I am starting to fear silence again, filling it with sound, running from whatever my head or heart is trying to tell me.  Does this happen to you?

These are the moments when I cannot sit still.  My eyes move from place to place.  My skin itches.  I must jump up and fill the time before….before what?  What could my inner self have to say that so frightens my outer self?

In the past, these moments have led to insight.  In the past, these moments meant personal growth. But what am I supposed to learn this time?

I feel too old to learn, too sure of the knowledge that my time has passed.  I am walking slowly toward death, my own, my loved ones but death nonetheless.

Maybe it’s the coming of winter, the rare October snow we just had.  Maybe it’s the approach of daylight savings — long, dark afternoons into longer, darker nights.   Maybe it’s my feeling that I am no longer the all  powerful wizard of my early days, the one with all the answers.

Maybe it’s because I fear this lesson has much broader implications.

The future keeps crowding into the present – the outside world into my small, sweet corner of it.  Our world, the world I grew up in, the world we hippies and peaceniks changed, the world we loved, was proud of, is disappearing.

Spinning faster and faster away from me, it has moved on its axis to a place of, “I’ve got mine; the rest of you, go away.”  This world is a foreign place for me and I hold no answers on how to fix it.

How I wish I was still that wizard of my younger years and able to make the coming years as rich and warm for my daughter and grandchildren as they were for me.  How I wish the future would not loom on the ever darkening horizon of financial woes, economic downturns.  How I wish our “elected officials” would actually do more to earn their pay and less to get re-elected.

Politicians have lost their way.  Honor no longer goes with the job; passion for what’s right, not what’s personally enriching has disappeared, replaced by greed and guile.

Perhaps this is the lesson I am being forced to learn — there is no easy way out of this huge and frightening mess our country is in, no easy way to close the gap between the ridiculously rich and the grindingly poor.  Perhaps politicians should have to face only one test to run for office.

Do they have a terminal illness?

If only the dying were allowed to run for office, maybe, just maybe it might help them focus on what’s truly important instead of what’s expedient.

 

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Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage

A Good Marriage Is Easy To Spot

How do you know your marriage is good?

Passionately and deeply in love?  Want to spend all your waking and sleeping hours with that one person?  Enjoying today, together  but planning for tomorrow?  Moving in, setting up a joint bank account and sharing the day-to-day tasks of living?

Every one of these could indicate a strong relationship, a good marriage.  Anyone of them could also be just a symptom of what looks like a good marriage.

The first time one of you makes a bad decision, you’ll get a look at what underpins your marriage.  Lose the savings account on a bad investment and watch the argument rip from money to control and back again.  Or make a bad choice morally – just once and it didn’t really mean anything.  But your partner may not be able to bridge the gap between the before and the after.

The truth is anyone can have a “good” marriage when things are going well.  The acid test only happens when things go badly.

Sometimes, bad choices can make or break your marriage depending on how you and your beloved handle it.  But what happens when no one makes a choice but both of you have to live with the consequences?

What happens when one of you gets sick?  I don’t mean a head cold or the flu.  I mean sick unto death.  In our case, it was cancer.  Will you run or will you stay?

It has been 10 years since our journey began, 10 years of chemo therapy, surgery, hospitalization after hospitalization.  Sitting here, reading my journal from the days when I thought, we both thought, that treatment would be fast, surgery would finish it, tears are streaming down my face.  What happened to my husband, to us, still cuts to the bone.  Our loss runs deep and wide.  Our sorrow is endless.

But our marriage not only survived, it got stronger with every treatment, every surgery, every hospitalization.

Since he was diagnosed with cancer, my husband and I have spent every vacation, every year, in that very expensive resort with very small rooms, a single bed and terrible food.  Hitting 34 hospitalizations in this, the 10th anniversary of our relationship with cancer, we are closer together than ever, enjoy each others company over that of almost anyone we know and wish only for one thing, at least another 10 year of whatever life has to throw at us.

It seems ours is a good marriage.

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Filed under Healthcare, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Life Is A Choice – What WIll You Choose

This morning I feel the weight of all my choices rushing in to sit on my shoulders. It is a gray wet morning, leaves scuttling across the yard and my life suddenly reflected  in the balance of good and bad choices made in my career and what they cost me.

What I Chose
Work.  Sounds so simple, so easy, but that choice cost me years and years of my life.

I was a “good” employee.  Work on the weekend?  Sure.  Fly to Florida and work there for 5 weeks without a day off?  Sure.  Spend a week out in Yosemite National Park every month for a year?  Why not?  Live in Los Alamos for 2 months while installing a new system?  Will do.

For almost 10 years of my life I literally penciled in visits to my husband, our daughter, my sisters and brothers.  I was never home on holidays.  They were ideal opportunities to install hardware and software in the many locations across the country where I managed up to 100 people on the team at Marine Midland, Newark Airport, Kennedy Space Center and on and on and on.

I was an executive with an expense account, a secretary and all the gold cards you could possibly want.  First class travel, five star hotels, I had it all.  But one day, something changed.

I started thinking about what all the gold in my wallet and my bank account were costing me.  I stood still long enough to do the calculations.  Working 7 days a week,  averaging between 90 and 120 hours –  reduced my six figure salary to an hourly rate of about $10.00 an hour – what the UPS driver was making except he went home every night and had weekends off.

Then I made the mistake of thinking about what my choices cost me.

What I Lost

My Mom
My mother lived west of Roanoke on 163 acres owned by my brother Mike.  If I saw her 5 times in 10 years, it was a miracle.  Usually, I used my frequent flyer miles to fly her here, to our home, for the one weekend out of 52 that I might be in town.

My mom died of a cerebral hemorrhage while I was in Chicago for yet another meeting.  There was so much I forgot to ask her.  So much she could have shared with me.  But I never stopped long enough to ask.  Now I can’t.

My Life
I was married, had a beautiful home on 2.5 acres in horse country in Pennsylvania.  A gourmet kitchen I didn’t use, a suite off the master bedroom complete with jacuzzi that gathered dust between the maid’s visits and years of sunny summer afternoons on the deck that I never saw.  When someone asked me what my house was like, my answer was swift and sharp, “How would I know?  I don’t live there; I just pay for it.”

I clearly remember the night that I knew I was making the wrong choices.

It was Sunday night on Labor Day weekend. Our daughter was in labor at Bryn Mawr Hospital.  She was ill but it was a holiday.  The Pathology Lab was closed and the doctors didn’t know what was making her sick.  Only after our second grandchild was born with strep did they figure it out.  Whisked from the delivery room to the NICU, the baby’s prospects were poor.

But I had a flight to catch.  I was needed back in Florida.  Heading for the airport, fidgeting in the back of the limousine, I could not get a handle on what was wrong with me.  I needed to go; I didn’t want to.  Suddenly my work ethic and my instincts were facing off and it felt like all the easy answers were off the table until I asked myself two questions:

  1. If I got on the plane and the baby died, how would our daughter be able to face his death?  How would I feel about my actions?  About myself?
  2. If I didn’t get on the plane, if I went back to the hospital to hold our daughter’s hand and be held by my husband, would the meeting be cancelled?  Would the business I worked for fail?

When boarding for First Class was called, I actually walked onto the plane, put my laptop in the overhead, sat down and ordered a drink before I knew I just could not do it.  I could not go.  Leaping up, grabbing my laptop, I raced back up the ramp and into the airport.  Dialing my cell phone, I called my limo back to the airport and ran to the arrival area to meet my driver.

That was the turning point, the moment when I knew that somehow I had sold out all my old values for money and merchandise.  Did I quit the next morning?  No.  It took 2 more years and the death of my boss’s husband to make me wake up.  He died alone, in his garage, in his car, with the motor running.  All I could think was it could have been me who got the phone call, my husband who died.

I woke up.  I realized I was committing suicide – long, slow, deliberate – but suicide nonetheless.

I made a different choice.  I traded in the gold and came home.  My salary went from 6 figures to $28,000 a year.  I came home very night, to spend weekends and holidays with my family and to enjoy time, the only thing we cannot buy.

What choices are you making?  And what do they really cost?

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Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage