Are You Aging Gracefully or Gratefully?

Today I visited my dear friend G. In hospice.

G is just a few years older than I am and has pancreatic cancer.

He also has a thousand watt smile that still lights up the room. A sharp mind and beautifully articulate voice. A fortitude that defies his prognosis and yet a dignified and reasoned acceptance of his fate. He is an absolute marvel.

So is his mother. She just turned 103 and today he said with resignation and also perhaps a tiny bit of pride “She will probably outlive me.”

When I left my dear friend after our visit I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude not only for knowing him and loving him but gratitude to have been given a chance to share THIS part of his journey too. Gratitude for ALL the memories we made. And yes – maybe selfishly – gratitude that I am still here on this planet, alive and ready to kick some more.

And then I got to thinking about the concept, typically applied only to women, about aging “gracefully.” I just read a Facebook post about this and I think (could be wrong) what that poster meant was aging “naturally.” So I wondered – who decided that natural and graceful were synonymous? And why is graceful so important? I mean damn, sometimes I’m as clumsy as an ox and I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a fan of wrinkles and gray hair. You know, on me. On MY person.

And then it hit me. Aging “gracefully” is simply not on my agenda. If it’s on yours, and by the way you can define gracefully any way you like, then yay … go for it. But if you want to Botox your forehead and plump up those lips … go for it! Wash that gray right out of your hair … do it and go blonde! Get laser treatments and chemical peels and facials and a face-lift … it is YOUR call. And no one can tell you that you are not aging “gracefully” just because you would like to look as young as you feel.

No one.

By the way I think Jane Fonda is aging FABULOUSLY and fully admits to getting work done. I also believe so is Ali McGraw (remember Love Story?) and apparently she is all original.

The truth is – I do not care how you age.

What matters to me, for you AND for me, is that we are granted the privilege of aging. Whichever “higher power” deals those cards, or even if it is just random dumb luck, what matters to me is that IF we are given the opportunity to age we chose to age GRATEFULLY.

We don’t waste a single moment of the moments we have left. We love deeply and truly. We feel every emotion and heck, appreciate even the bad ones because every emotion reminds us that we are still in the game. We check in with the big picture, do not sweat the small stuff, express appreciation every single day and stop judging anyone, even backhandedly, for their choices.

We are all rare and beautiful individuals on unique journeys that, oddly enough, will end in the exact same place. G and I talked about that today. And as I love to say (in my best southern drawl) – “We all gonna die!”

So how we choose to LIVE, how we choose to facilitate our golden years – should we be so fortunate to enjoy them – is as exclusive as our fingerprints. You are the architect of ALL of your life.

Gratitude is such a simple thing. And yet a thing that some of us forget to express, feel and LIVE IN on a daily basis. Which I think is why I have blogged about it more than once. We ALL forget. We ALL need reminders. We ALL get so caught up in minutiae that we forget to be grateful for every single breath.

Those breaths are numbered.

I’m going to say that one more time my friends – THOSE BREATHS ARE NUMBERED.

Don’t waste them.

Be whoever it is you want to be in whatever package makes you feel yourself and do NOT let anyone else tell you you’re doing it wrong.

Just be grateful that you are still here.

Doing it.

Just like G.

 

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This Lady’s Not Home … (thank you Melissa Manchester)

Back in the 70s, on one of her first albums, Melissa Manchester sang a song called “This Lady’s Not Home Today.” Even then, when I was a mere babe, fresh and innocent, those lyrics resonated with me.

Got a house on the hill
And it’s constantly filled
With a number of passing acquaintances
But I’m tired and spent
From all the friendships well meant
And the rents getting high on my maintenance, Lord

In recent weeks I have found myself humming this very song over and over again, mostly under my breath. Not so much because of friendships well meant (although there have been a few of those) but more because I am feeling increasingly tired and spent.

Now I’m not a big fan of pity parties. I rarely throw them for myself and I sure as hell don’t like attending those thrown by others. We’ve all got shit, right? Figure it out and move forward. Don’t waste your life stalled in self-induced muck. Or even muck induced by others. Shovel that muck into a ditch or ditch the person mucking with you. I always thought it was fairly simple.

Until the muck really started to pile up on my head and I found myself drowning in it, even with shovel in hand madly scooping. I won’t bore you with the details of that shit-storm. Suffice to say it has been ongoing and suffocating.

But the worst part is it has sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Yes I am already on meds and have been for quite some time – I was blessed with pregnancy induced hypertension when my son entered this world and it kinda stuck with me. I was also blessed with a genetic predisposition to big numbers. Both my mother and grandmother had high BP (and both lived long lives) but my father, with his LOW BP, made up for it with a decidedly Type A personality which he thoughtfully passed along to me (thanks Daddy).

So here I am, Type A with high BP and I sound like some fucked up alphabet soup about to boil over and splatter against the ceiling.

Actually, THAT is how my head feels. Like my brains are trying to escape through my ears and splatter … anywhere.

Okay damn, this IS sounding suspiciously like a pity party.

But here’s the point: the point is as much as I have been fighting the inevitable – “This lady’s not home today.”

I mean, she is, but she is unavailable for consultation.

Okay that is not true either. Today I have consulted with my son, my best friend, my partner, my sister, my neighbour and my dog.  Apparently I am unable to simply turn off. Oh, how I wish I could.

Well I can’t be a fool
Though I’d like to come through
With a satin edged blanket for comfort
But, I got needs of my own
I’ve been too long left alone
Without somebody shoulder’n my hurt, Lord

I am now consulting with a glass of Pinot Grigio , new medication and a new conviction to let the world carry on without me, at least for a few days, while I decompress and hope these ridiculous numbers drop. No more charitable endeavours, no more long “helpful” chats. No more picking up all the pieces and no more making all the plans.

No more.

Time off for good behavior
Time off to be my savior
Stay in touch with your indecision
So I’ll have something to return to
After this brief intermission

I DO want to return after this brief intermission. I would very much like to return with my brains still residing inside my skull. And when I DO return I want to be available. As I’ve always been available. For consultation, for conversation, for consideration and of course … for wine.

But I am reminded now of the plane/child/oxygen thing. Take care of yourself first or you won’t be taking care of anyone. Period.
And that is why …

Right now I’m relighting my fuses
And tending to my bruises
Trying to find my direction, Lord

MY direction is towards better health. Less stress. No more headaches. More vitality. All things that will lead me back to my people. The people who need me. The people I need.

Self-care is so incredibly important. So why do we leave it to languish at the bottom of our to-do lists? Are we so full of our deluded sense of self-worth that we don’t believe the planet will spin without our constant involvement?

I am probably more guilty of that particular brand of hubris than most.

But no more. The world will turn. And yes of course I will return to that turning world.

But – for now – I’m hanging out the sign:

Say do not disturb me this lady’s not home
Today.

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Say What You Need To Say

I was just yesterday told that I am an “open book” and that there aren’t very many people “like me”.

Perhaps. And I did take it as the compliment it was meant to be. And then I got to thinking …

Why aren’t there more people like me? Why doesn’t anybody else (or very few other elses) want to be open books? What good is a closed book? You get to read the title and the author’s name and maybe see a pretty picture on the cover and then pfft … you’re done.  Isn’t it way more fun to open the book and actually read it?

Of course the answer is fear, right? Everybody is afraid that if they become an open book someone will misread what is written, or misinterpret. And if they share all their secrets and tell all their truths it may backfire. They might end up getting hurt because I’ll tell you this – it is impossible to manipulate anything, any situation or any ONE if you are an open book. Absolutely impossible. Plus you up the odds that someone just might manipulate YOU.  Because once your truths are on the table, well baby you are naked. No more mystery, no more wondering, no more armour.

In his famous song John Mayer sings:
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again

John darling, I fully agree. HAVE NO FEAR. Because the worst thing that can happen is that you get hurt. You don’t get what you want. Or what you think you wanted (probably more realistic). But so what? If you said what you needed to say and you did it with the truest intentions and a heart wide open, then hold your head up high!

That’s was John says:
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Because there is absolutely nothing more beautiful and true than a heart wide open. Sure those clever, calculating, contriving and crafty creatures who never give anything (meaningful) away, play their cards ever-so-close to their chests and ALWAYS play to win (no matter what the prize), well they do seem to be the ones in charge.

But they are not. Trust me, it takes a lot of energy to keep your stories straight, your truth concealed and your heart fully protected. Quite frankly it is exhausting. And in the end, the only prize you win is … more prevarication. Sure you might win the round. You might save yourself from getting hurt. You might even carry on endlessly unscathed, flying way low under the radar.

What a horrible way to endure.

I would much rather be ON the radar. Flying freely. Wings fully extended. Heart wide open. Saying what I need to say.

Of course being an open book can also be exhausting. Living without any armour whatsoever tends to be somewhat bruising. And we all know bruises hurt.

But I have lived the other way. I know that pain too. It is much much worse.

Usually at this point in my ramblings I include some anecdotes about myself or people I know who have experienced whatever it is I am writing about.

Today there will only be one. Prefaced by a small bit of history.

Soon after my ex-husband and I split up, he and his new love condemned me for “sharing too much” with my son.  For being “too honest”.  For “speaking too freely to a child.”

Sure. Maybe. He was 12 and possibly wanting a few more Disney years. Heck, I was 47 and I wanted a few more Disney years.

What I did not want was any more lies. And more concealed truths. I wanted “heart wide open”. For ALL of us.

This morning, after a long chat yesterday, my son informed me that he had decided to “say what he needs to say.” It’s a delicate situation. It could be fragile. It could backfire. It could hurt him and it is fraught with many unknowns. There is no dodging the radar when he says what he needs to say. There is only belief. The firm and unequivocal belief that saying what he needs to say and accepting all ramifications is better … and healthier … than keeping it bottled up, behind glass, hidden away in a heart half-closed.

I have never been more proud of him.

And truth be told I have never been so proud of myself … as a mother. Because years ago I made a choice about what kind of mother I wanted to be. And I chose regardless of the nay-sayers who wanted me to NOT say what I needed to say.

I am so very very glad I made that choice.

My son (just like John):
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

IF ONLY.

How many times have you uttered those two words to yourself?

IF ONLY.

Today my son torpedoed IF ONLY and said what he needed to say.

I will only take a small amount of credit. But hell yeah, I will take some. Apples and trees, right?  I’m so grateful he didn’t fall too far from mine. Grateful and proud.

Say what you need to say.  Heart wide open. It won’t matter if you are met with rejection, ridicule or even silence. The outcome is not yours to control. That would be manipulation.

But the truth? The truth is ALL yours.

Own it. Love it. Say it.

Say what you need to say.

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What Do You Think You’ll Regret The Most? The Things You Did Or The Things You Didn’t Do?

Think about it. When you look back on your life is it your mistakes that haunt you to this day or is it the opportunities you let pass you by?

I think for most of us we automatically go to ‘mistakes’. Only because they are tangible entities. Blunders we can recall. Missteps that caused pain, to ourselves or to others. Egregious gaffes that lurk in our memories, reminding us that our potential for monstrous miscalculation is always just a breath away.

Yeah, we can beat ourselves up over that shit for a lifetime.

But what about the things you didn’t do? The dreams you didn’t pursue? The compromises you chose that, in the end, still didn’t … and don’t bring you satisfaction.
I read somewhere (my favourite line when I can’t remember) that one of the most common death-bed regrets is ‘opportunities missed.’ Not ‘mistakes made’ but the stuff we didn’t do that we really wanted to do and for whatever reason didn’t do and now we’re about to die and guess what? We’ve run out of time.

So why didn’t we do those things? What held us back?

I would wager the number one answer is fear. I mean, sure you could say I never went to Italy or drove a Ferrari because I didn’t have the money and if those are your death-bed regrets, good for you. But what if you didn’t go to Italy because you were afraid of traveling alone? Or you didn’t drive a Ferrari because that’s a frivolous pursuit and your money is better spent on the mortgage? What if you didn’t go after your dream job because you were certain you wouldn’t get it? Or you didn’t ask that girl out on a date because why the hell would a girl like that go out with a guy like you?

What if?

Years ago my son wrote a song called “Say HI”.  He no longer likes it but I still do because it contains this one brilliant line – “one yes and a million nos is better than zero of both.”

What if you just said hi? What if you threw caution to the wind and went for it – whatever IT is? Maybe if you just believed your gut and believed IN yourself and you believed that you deserve a shot at anything and everything, maybe just maybe IF you believe, you’ll find the gumption to go for it? Even IF success is not guaranteed. Even IF you might fall on your face or get your face slapped or lose face or face the future knowing you tried and failed. Maybe even IF you fail, the knowing that you TRIED will be enough?

Maybe.

Which leads me to my point. Sometimes inaction is even more determental than action. Sure if you take action you might make a mistake and it may not work out and you might get your feelings hurt and you might even regret taking that action.

But you know what happens when you take no action?

Nothing. Nothing happens.

Absolutely nothing.

Life as you know it stays exactly the same.

Except … and here is the big BUT …

It doesn’t. Because inertia will lead to change as assuredly as enterprise. Allowing yourself to get stuck and then stay stuck because you’re afraid of what un-stuck might look like just leaves you stuck. In muck. Muck of your own creation. And once you’re in that muck you’re going to find yourself drowning and then Holy Shit! you’re going to have to scramble like hell to get out. IF it’s not too late. Because no one can thrive in muck. You might be able to exist. For a bit. But you will never thrive.

F and T have been together for ten years. F changed her like completely (geographically, socially and legally) to be with T.  T changed nothing except to sacrifice half his bed. F wants to move house. Escape old memories, make a fresh start in a location she loves. WITH T! T keeps saying he is amenable but he keeps doing nothing. Year after year he has yet another excuse why nothing can be done at this moment. T is terrified of change and T believes that if he does nothing it has GOT to be better than doing the wrong thing.
So F and T are now living in perpetual limbo. Except they are not. Because F is already plotting her escape. F has already come to the realization that T’s inertia is debilitating. To her and their relationship. F doesn’t want to escape. She has just come to accept that T’s fear may well hold him back from change of any kind. And that is not good enough for her.

P has been married for 40 years. He knows his wife is not his soulmate because he has had a soulmate and he knows what soulmatedness feels like. But P gave up his soulmate to keep the peace. To keeps his family unit intact. To do the right thing.

Is this going to work out in P’s favour? On his death-bed will P say “Thank goodness I did the right thing?”  Or will P always wonder what his life might have looked like and felt like if he had chosen his true love?

Who knows? And that’s the kicker, right? We don’t have a fucking clue? Maybe P’s soulmate really isn’t his soulmate? Maybe she’s just a fleeting fancy? A fly-by? So maybe staying with his un-soulmate wife IS the right thing because maybe some of us just don’t get to have it all? Maybe getting family is worth relinquishing soulmate? What if on his deathbed P regretted NOT staying with his family because he gave that up for his soulmate? And she turned out to NOT be so special after all.

These are all noble and reasonable questions. Is it fear that is keeping P put? Or reasoned argument?

Like I said … no fucking clue.

But this one I do know.

D wants a job. A very specific job. And this very specific job is on offer. But D doesn’t have quite ALL the qualifications for this job. So D procrastinates until the deadline passes and then D blames the deadline on her inability to go after said job. Oops. Just missed it by a hair. Oh well.

Oh well indeed. Because the truth is D is SO afraid of applying for that job and not getting it that she’d rather not apply at all. You see if she doesn’t apply there’s no way she can get turned down.

And do you know what all of this ultimately goes to?

Ego.

It always goes back to EGO. MY sense of self-worth will not be jeopardized by an unknown. My sense of self-worth is tied to the tested and true. And so here in this familiar world shall I stay.

T doesn’t see a move with his beloved as an adventure. T sees it as a disaster waiting to happen. As an unknown with no clear outcome. As an upset to his neat and tidy life.
T is stuck.

P thinks he’s being a good guy. P thinks that staying with his wife is a noble act. P thinks that giving up his soulmate and doing the ‘right thing’ is honorable. P hasn’t considered that he’s not giving his wife a vote in this election (maybe IF she knew she wasn’t HIS soulmate she’d want to go find one for herself?) and he has also not acknowledged that HIS life and HIS heart actually DO count for something. His martyr-cloak is now his armour. And he will wear it proudly to his death-bed.

But what if on that death-bed he asks “What if I wasn’t a martyr? What IF I had just been true to myself?”

Because really, if you’re not true to yourself, how can you possibly be true to anyone else?

D is still unemployed. D is frozen. D is so afraid of what might NOT happen she has no clue how to embrace what MIGHT? She doesn’t see possibility. D only sees potential failure. And her fragile ego can’t handle anymore failure today, thank you very much. So D will now tell anyone who listens that she just can’t find the ‘right’ fit. God knows she is looking. It’s just not there.

D is stuck. And drowning in her own muck.

So how do you get out?

Again … no fucking clue. But for me personally I have decided that the only two words I shall henceforth heed are ‘gratitude’ and ‘adventure’.

I love gratitude and practice in consciously every day. To be grateful for everything we DO have allows us to accept all that we do not. With grace.

And adventure is how (I believe) we should approach every decision. Not adventure as in climbing Everest or sailing the seven seas. Adventure as in every new job, every new love, every new house and every new friendship IS an adventure! No guarantee how it will turn out BUT if you go into it with eyes and heart wide open you have at the very least accepted the Universe’s rules – No promises. No predetermined outcomes. No crystal balls.

Just one helluva ride.

I don’t want to EVER regret NOT getting on the horse. I want that ride. I crave that ride. I am ready for that ride even if I  get bucked off and broken. I will never regret those poor old bones. What I will regret is sitting in the bleachers. Watching some other cowgirl have her turn on some fiery steed while I eat popcorn.

I will make the decision, take my chances and live with the consequences. What I will NOT do is die wondering. I do hope with all my might that my only regret will be NOT wearing a bikini when I’m 65. Ask me when I turn 66. I’ll let you know how that goes …

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How Many Colours Of The Rainbow Do YOU Need?

Several years ago I attended a songwriting forum in Nashville. It was fronted by a pair of hugely successful composers, a married couple as luck would have it. They both boasted long lists of hit songs bearing their names. They were both intelligent, witty, engaging and fun. They could both sing as well as anyone and they were both fine-looking humans. That Saturday morning forum was educational and entertaining.

When it concluded we were invited to ask questions. Up shot my hand and I was first to the gate: “You two can obviously write awesome hit songs and you can both sing and you’re funny and fascinating and kinda cute.”  They smiled. “So does it ever piss you off that you’re not big stars?” Stunned silence from the crowd. “Does it ever piss you off that some other singer recorded your songs and had big hits and those singers are big stars and even with ALL your attributes you are not. Does that ever piss you off?”

They glanced at each other and hubby gave an almost imperceptible nod, like he was saying “Honey, you take this one.”

And she did.

“Interesting question,” she began. The audience tittered nervously. “When I came to Nashville 15 years ago I came in search of the rainbow. Maybe not even just the rainbow, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I wanted it all and I thought I had the goods to get it all.”

She paused for a breath and you could have heard that proverbial pin drop. “Obviously I didn’t get it.  I did not get the pot of gold and I did not get all the colours of the rainbow. But hey, I’ve written a catalogue full of hit songs, I’ve won awards, I’ve met everybody who is anybody in this business, I met my husband, I still enjoy singing my songs, I make a really nice living and I do it doing something I love to do. So I would say I did get a fair chunk of that rainbow. More than one colour, that’s for sure. And I am good with that and therefore, no … not pissed off.”

She smiled again and the audience applauded.

Great answer.

Today as I reminisced about that morning I got to thinking – how many colours of that rainbow do we really require? Sure when you’re young and full of piss and vinegar the only acceptable response is ALL of them! But is that really true? When you reach a certain age and look back and you realize there is no red in your arsenal, or yellow or green, do YOU get pissed off?  If the ONLY colour is indigo are you mortified or are you grateful?

I haven’t seen an actual rainbow in awhile and quite frankly I’m not sure how many colours are in mine. I guess even that ebbs and flows on any given day. What I do realize with complete certainty is I do not NEED the full rainbow anymore. And if I can consciously be grateful for the colours (or colour) I am graced with, my outlook will change, my attitude will change and much like that songwriter in Nashville I will learn to ENJOY purple (least favourite colour, if you must know).

My pal B is a single 50-something. She is still drop-dead gorgeous, successful, fun to be around and the proud mother of two incredible kids. Yet there is no man in her life. Hasn’t been one for awhile now. She has no interest in cyber-dating and her circle of friends and workmates has not yet yielded Mr. Right. Would she like him to show up? Damn straight. Is she okay with him not being here (yet)?  Also damn straight. Because B is super busy enjoying the other colours of her rainbow. Daily.

My other friend L has fallen madly in love with M.  Problem is M is married (with a capital M).  Does L insist that he leave his wife?  Does L settle for a clandestine fling? Nope.  L just enjoys his friendship and his insights and their (reasonably) innocent communication. She enjoys the one colour that is on offer and she abandons the desire for the full set. She accepts that one colour as a gift.

W chose a career which inspired and fulfilled him.  But now it looks as though that career path may conclude. Like many he is downsized. As he approaches impending ‘retirement’ does he fret? Does he moan? Does he rail against the winds, beating his chest over his unfortunate lot in life?

Nope. He looks forward with optimism. He counts all his other blessings, he thinks about his other talents and he starts planning out his other options. Sure, orange is off the table, probably forever. But he fully embraces all those other hues because they are still there, beckoning.

And then there’s me. I always wanted to be a Broadway star. Or the next Carole King. I wanted stardom and Prince Charming and a pumpkin and an Oscar! I dreamed hard and big. I sacrificed my twenties to that dream.

Alas the vision did not appear. The rainbow was conspicuous only by its absence.
So … I readjusted my sights. I mean c’mon, really – rainbows, mountains, oceans, meadows … it’s all beautiful. Just look in a different direction. I looked towards new career options, other ways of satisfying my muse, other avenues of filling my heart and other colours still illuminating the sky.

I now look towards my son. HIS rainbow. My desire for HIS rainbow to appear in all its resplendent glory!  THAT will illuminate my sky.

Does that make me a wuss? Am I pissed off?

I don’t think so. It makes me a realist and an optimist. My rainbows just looks a little different these days. And I am quite certain I will continue to adjust that lens until the day I die. Adaptability is key, right? We get older, we learn, we modify.  We determine that committing to a rainbow may be beautiful but it might also be fleeting. Rainbows are far too elusive.

But a colour? A colour is something you can hang on to.

I still make music. I still find love. I still greet each day with an open mind and an open heart.  I still believe that magic might happen.

Hey … it might.

Even if it is purple.

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So Please Do Tell … What Exactly Keeps A Couple In Love?

Last night after a few too many glasses of wine (who me?) and a lovely sunset boat cruise with an old friend, I asked this same old friend about his marriage.

“How long have you two been blissfully wedded?” queried I.

He replied “38 years.”

“And are you still blissfully and lovingly entwined?” continued my interrogation.

He smiled and responded happily “Indeed we are. Still in love after all these years.”

I paused to consider my next question. I’m not exactly shy when it comes to … well … pretty much anything … but sometimes I know I do ask too many questions and I do get kinda nosy. I took a deep breath and jumped in yet again.

“Okay then, tell me kind sir, what are the three things that have kept you and your beautiful bride in love all these years?”

“THREE things?” he countered, the wheels already spinning.

“Yes,” I affirmed. “I’d like to know the three biggest things that have kept you IN your relationship 100%. Not just sorta, kinda. Not just when you feel like it or it suits you. Full-fledged IN LOVE after 38 years.

He paused to sip his wine and ponder. But not for too long because this intelligent and astute gentleman had already figured it out. he had already figured it out because he was living it. And had been for 38 years.

“We like being together. We like doing the same things. And we have great sex.”

BAM!

There you have it, dear readers. The three simple yet complicated, easy yet difficult, succinct yet SO open to interpretation reasons why a couple can make love last.

1. They like being together.

Makes sense, right? You really should want to hang out with your beloved if you expect the union to flourish, no?

Well, I know many couples who hang out very little. I know some couples who lead virtually separate lives. I know couples who bicker all the time (leading me to believe they don’t actually enjoy one another’s company) and I know couples who “fake” partnership when in truth they are truly just in it for the money, the status, the religion or the kids.

But really LIKING your partner’s company? THAT is a big fat blessing. But a blessing that needs to be considered and remembered and nurtured and cultivated. Because I do believe that like most blessings, it is not always delivered by a unicorn. Rarely, in fact (unless you know something about unicorns that I don’t). The blessing may have arrived at some magical point all tied up in a pretty bow but as time wears on even pretty sparkly blessings need nourishment. They need attention. They need work!

So yeah … WORK on being together. WORK on liking to be together. Which leads to the next step:

2. They like doing the same things.

Yes, I can certainly surmise that a couple that shares similar interests will enjoy each other’s company more frequently than two people with completely diverse pastimes. That said, I do also believe that you do not have to share EVERY hobby with your partner. If he likes to climb mountains and you like to make music, go for it.

On occasion.

I just believe that the scales should tip far more in favour of the things you like to do together. Because if they don’t, he’ll soon be climbing a mountain and sharing a tent with his cute climbing partner while you fall in love with the guitar player in your band.
Now I’m not saying that has ever happened. I’m just saying that the MORE separate hobbies you enjoy, the more likelihood you will find yourself enjoying them with someone like-minded. Who is not your partner.

So yeah … WORK on finding things you like to do together. Then WORK on doing them. Together.

3. And then there is this final sweet little kicker. GREAT SEX.

Do you really NEED to have a lifetime of great sex to remain contentedly mated?

I know couples who after several decades of wedded bliss rarely have sex. I mean rarely as in once a year. Once every two years. REALLY rarely.

And yet they stay together because they like doing the same things. They like being together. They have children together, they own real estate together, they share a bank account, several scrapbooks full of memories and just a huge history of BEING together. So even if the whole sex thing is no longer a biggie, they stay together and seemingly flourish.

I guess.

I mean I guess it’s possible. And do-able.

I guess. But my guess is it is only possible and do-able if they are BOTH exactly on the same page. Because if one of them is totally fine (relieved, in fact) with the lack of physical intimacy and the other pretends to be a-okay too but is secretly boinking outside the union, how can that union flourish? I mean, it might survive and it might endure but flourish? I don’t think so. because flourishing involves intimacy. And intimacy comes from really and truly being on the same page. Honestly. Openly.

My pal D tells me that sex no longer plays any significant role in his 40 year marriage. At least not for him and his wife. She has lost interest and he has lost motivation. With HER. He just gets his sex elsewhere. He has no intention of abandoning his wife nor does he feel the need to seek a full-on soulmate in other climes. Like an amputee missing a leg, he has accepted that his marriage will always be lacking. So he has learned to walk on crutches. Maybe even dance on occasion. Just not with his wife. She is not invited to the dance, she doesn’t even know about the dance and she is quite possibly contentedly oblivious to the dance.

They have somehow achieved a lop-sided, discombobulated detente. She doesn’t know, he doesn’t tell and onward they go in blissfully ignorant incorporation. They stay married, they stay family, they have moments and they make memories.

They just don’t make love.

Or have great sex.

So the question now begs … how many of these three elements do you absolutely NEED to achieve long-lasting love?

If you like to go downhill skiing and bake bread and plant gardens and you like doing those things together, will that off-set your inability to get jiggy with one another in the bedroom. If you have rip-snorting, bodice-ripping coitus but you actually can’t stand hanging out at the dinner table, does your union have a chance? If you like being together over dinner or Netflix but you actually have no common hobbies or a satisfactory sex life, do you have a hope in hell of surviving?

Honestly, I have no fucking clue.

I do believe that IF you are so fortunate to have all three (like my friend) you should thank your lucky stars and keep doing the WORK to keep these things alive. Do not take it for granted and do not assume it will always be there. We are ALL one step away from screwing something up ROYALLY.

If two of these are in your account please see above and then start working on #3. Yes. That is what I said. Start working on #3.

I would like to believe that if you are still together it is because you actually DO like being together (on some level) and you will be able to move directly to figuring out things you like to DO together. And then doing them. You know. Together.

So now it’s all about sex.

With each other.

How do you fix that when it is so much easier to ignore the problem and carry on in blissful ignorance?

The only answer I can come up with is BE HONEST. With your partner, not your secret lover. Put sex back ON the table (or the piano or the kitchen counter or even the bed!). Unless you are truly willing to live life as an amputee when you STILL have ALL your limbs, do the WORK.

Yeah. It always comes back to the WORK. Not the easy route. Not the quick fix or the simple solution.

The work.

I could be wrong but my guess is my old friend who so succinctly answered my question has been doing the work for 38 years. Solidly. Happily.

Either that or there really is a unicorn up his ass.

I do LOVE his three components to a “loving” partnership. I love that he shared them with me and i got to share them with you.

I would also love to hear form you if you think there are more.

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Self-Sabotage: Are You Guilty?

Yes!
Pick me, pick me! I do believe that self-sabotage may well be one of my favourite hobbies. It’s not that I practice it all the time. It’s more like when I go, it’s “go BIG or go home!”
So what exactly is self-sabotage? It’s pretty simple. It’s when we do something stupid that totally interferes with what we want to achieve. You know, like eating an entire bar of chocolate when you’re truly desperate to lose 20 lbs. Or buying that new pair of shoes when your credit card is maxed out. Or getting ridiculously drunk on a Friday night when you have to work at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning. Just dumb things we do when we know better. Or at the very least SHOULD know better.
But I think these types of sabotage are fairly normal (especially in our younger years) and hopefully fix-able. Just THINK a little harder, honey, before you make THAT choice. I know it’s not always easy and repetitive sabotage could certainly be hugely detrimental to your existence, but we all do it. We all make mistakes and bad judgement calls and we all experience “lack of discipline” moments.
But what about those bigger fuck-ups? The ones that can completely derail a relationship, lose you a job or even kill you? How could we possibly be so stupid as to self-sabotage in those situations?
I just did a quick bit of Dr. Google research and apparently much of it comes down to self-esteem (I am not worthy), fear of emotional pain (I will make you leave me before you can hurt me), fear of failure (I’ll tank it myself before it can tank me) or plain old immediate gratification, as in the thrill of these awesome new shoes will offset the pain of my next credit card bill.
Fair enough.
Those “excuses” I get. Personally. Lord knows I’d love to drop 20 lbs but sometimes I love ice cream more. I know that 4th glass of wine isn’t a good idea but I have it anyway and I sure as hell don’t need that new dress and quite frankly have nowhere to wear it but God it is gorgeous and ya just never know so … cha-ching!
Yep. I’ve done it all. And I’ve beaten myself up for it all too.
But recently I started thinking about a different kind of self-sabotage. A kind that you don’t read about in Psychology Today or Dr. Google. A kind that may actually be more positive than negative … if you can believe that?
I’ve started to think you can actually self-sabotage because your GUT knows something that you don’t. Your GUT is weighing in big time. It’s your GUT making you do stupid things, say stupid things, write stupid things, sabotage the shit out of what you think you might want because your GUT knows that what you think you want is quite possibly wrong. A whole lot of wrong for a whole lot of reasons. And so subconsciously you sabotage your quest for said “thing” because your gut has taken control of the dialogue and is now in charge. And your gut is saying “Okay stupid, since you are not listening to me and you are not being reasonable I am now going to fuck you up so resoundingly you will NOT be able to pursue this folly further because you yourself personally will have fucked up that folly right off the table.”
Ha ha.
Laugh’s on me.
Gut is so clever. So astute. So noble.
Gut is also that best friend you hate because she stops you from having that 4th glass of wine. She reminds you that a new pair of shoes is not a necessity. She gently removes that tub of ice cream from your fingers and playfully tickles your flabby belly to remind you what your goals are.
Yay Gut.
Yes, I am saying that with a certain amount of sarcasm. But I am also saying that (almost begrudgingly) with a certain amount of grateful truth.
Yay Gut.
Because when Gut saves us from our selfish selves, when Gut saves us from choices born of desire or neglect (or both), when Gut chimes in and says “Obviously YOU have not got this covered so I shall now cover it for you, no matter how much it hurts” … well then yeah … she really is our best friend.
Yes. We do, say and write dumb things that derail our plans. Hurt our chances. Sabotage our deepest desires.
Yet I have come to realize that maybe … just maybe SOMETIMES … we self-sabotage for the right reasons. Good reasons. Reasons that are truer than we can possibly even know at the moment that we are implementing them.
It’s a little like the teacher who dives in front of his student to take a bullet. He doesn’t know he’s going to die. He doesn’t know the student is going to live. He probably knows it’s going to hurt like hell and he does it anyway because somewhere deep in his soul he KNOWS it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for the future. For karma. For truth.
Yeah. It’s crazy, I know.
This is when self-sabotage is a wake-up call.
THIS is when self-sabotage is actually something GOOD.
As long as you see it. Recognize it. Own it. Accept it. Be grateful for it. Learn the damned lesson.
And don’t do it again.
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