A Salute To The Women Who Know Their Place

I have always been attracted to strong women. My mother is a strong woman. So is my sister. I can’t think of anything more stimulating and sexy than a woman who is confident, bright, thoughtful, self-aware, and my intellectual equal if not master.  I’ve never been intimidated by a woman’s strength. The only mystery in the beginning is understanding whether the strength being displayed is authentic and true as opposed to a cover to mask insecurity and pain. In this case what may look like strength is actually a facade. Beneath the cover is a wounded person who may have great potential to give and experience a beautiful love, but will use her tools as a weapon to strike as opposed to an artisan looking to build something.

I’ve experienced the latter in a few cases. What I perceived as a strong woman was in reality a strong willed woman. There is both a distinction as well as a difference. These women were bright, but they were also competitive within the relationships. Instead of looking to build consensus, they sought to carve out a space and claim territory. They’d dig trenches for the sole purposes of establishing as constitution their own sensibilities. It’s wasn’t easy for me to tell the difference between the strong vs strong willed women in my life. To the untrained eye they look like the exact same thing. It’s only after experiences that require humility, compromise, repentance and trust is authentication revealed. Where there is true strength, humility, compromise, repentance (when necessary) and trust are easy because the goal is beyond self-interest and competition. The goal is for each party in the relationship to win. It’s not to make someone pay for a debt that is intellectually or spiritually impossible to fulfill.

Some of my relationship failures caused me to question my ability to find my own ‘perfect match.’ I’d ask myself, “How do I in essence come up with basically the same (strong willed) chick over and over again?” Logically the common denominator is me! I started to think there was something about me that cause these ‘strong’ women to turn against me. Was I too kind, too graceful, or too easy to figure out?

Being honest and vulnerable early on, even if in limited layers has always been my idea of achieving a pathway to acceptance. Having safe spaces is an important foundation in my humble opinion. I enjoying sharing and being my authentic self with all of my quirks and unusual peculiarities. It can be painful to have your eccentricities rejected, made fun of, or taken advantage of; especially during a dispute. But therein lies an insight into whether one is strong or strong willed.

I see strong minded women (and men) all the time on social media. When it comes to relationships or prospective relationships, there is little hope and much skepticism.  I totally understand. The dating game can be so cruel. People are out here seeking ‘whatever’ for so many reasons. Rare are these reasons totally understood even by the person holding them. In any case, when conflict occurs defenses go up and before you know it, a confrontation is at hand.

I am not afraid of confrontation. I embrace it when I know the object is to resolve the conflict to achieve the best understanding. Many times, however, I’ve found that the women I was communicating with’s ultimately goal was to prove a point, or even worst to win the argument. For some their purpose wasn’t to achieve understanding, or establish healthy boundaries, but rather drawing lines that so that they could enjoy a privileged or Powered status. When discussing a disagreement and there is tension, I understand that she may not understand my intentions. She may think I am attempting to threaten or take something away from her identity or value.  I soften my approach taking the low road offering a clarification if necessary. Then I wait.

Will she soften as well and show some humility?  Or will she relish the victory and keep it moving? If the former, then we may very well be on to something. There is mutual respect as words are chosen carefully to maximize understanding and reduce the tension. If the latter, she’s not looking to build something, she’s looking to have her way. It only gets worse. I learned to distance myself in this scenario. No arguing, just acceptance. We can be cordial, but there is nothing for me to invest in. Soon, I’ll quietly walk away.

There is difference between a strong woman vs a strong willed woman. Though she can be both, a strong woman knows that she doesn’t always have to play her strength card to get things she needs in her relationship. This is of course assuming she has a strong man who wants to give and grow. Instead she is much more crafty and sophisticated in her methods.

I thought about five couples that I respect and admire the most. The women are brilliant and formidable, able to take on most any undertaking. The men are successful yet progressively growing and expanding their depths and potential. The women are the foundation and backbone in the unit. I’ve witnessed them demonstrate the one thing that supersedes Power in any relationship, influence. A strong recognize her areas of influence on her man and she uses it for the greater good.

A man can excel in a lot of areas on his own. But even a greatly accomplished man who doesn’t have the touch of a wise woman to counsel him is going to be a fool in many areas, even if he doesn’t realize he’s a fool. Show me a weak childish and petulant man, I’ll show you a woman who doesn’t influence him at all. (Insert face of the president here.) If you’ve ever seen the Netflix series, “House of Cards,” you’ve identified that the only reason Frank Underwood was a successful governor who parlayed that into the presidency is because of his wife Claire. Frank is the face, standing on the podium with prestige and respect. But Claire is the soul. Her influence, support and counsel were essentially and in advance of any potential successes to Frank’s highly aspired ambitions. Claire embraced her role as the soul and reveled in their ascension as a team.

So when I say, Salute To The Women Who Know Their Place, by ‘place’ I mean ‘role’. And make no mistake it is a role! Why? Because no matter what we (men) do in the marketplace, no matter how many people know our name or sing our praises regarding our exploits or popularity, no matter what kind of car we drive, when WE go home at the end of the day, WE know we ain’t shit unless and until our woman validates us and says we are.

Let’s face it; whether because of necessity through evolution visa-vi social or societal oppression and circumstance, women are often smarter and more intuitive than men; specifically regarding things men tend to be blind about. While we go through life looking to conquer one challenge or another, our women study us and knowing our strengths and weaknesses. They know when we are about to say or do something stupid. They have the ability to see the big picture when we are tunnel visioned. When a man lays eyes on a cake, he sees a cake. An intuitive woman considers the ingredients down to the infinite measurements. It doesn’t matter who makes the most money or who holds the most powerful position in the marketplace either. In a successful relationship, the joint recognition and understanding is differing roles, equal value. Each couple chooses the roles that work for them based on their given talents and strengths.

The woman who operates by influence and uses it accordingly to build her man up, praise him publicly and privately, doesn’t do things to damage his dignity, she has the ultimate power. You see influence IS power but with a soft ‘p’. It is to be shared. But I can’t stress how important it is for men to have the strong yet confidently reassuring touch of his woman’s influence.

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Examining how these play out:

Power (large P) Dominates – Influence Negotiates

Power is harsh and rigid – Influence is gentle and flexible

Power commands – Influence suggest

Power pushes – Influence nudges

Power breeds fear – Influence breeds loyalty and respect

Power says, “You must do this for me!” – Influence says, “I want to do this for you.”

Power produces minimum requirements – Influence produces above and beyond

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Hopefully this makes sense. I did my best not to appear chauvinistic and I hope the feminist reader (I consider myself one) allows for nuance in understanding my intentions here. I’m not assuming this is a woman’s obligation, or that affirming her man is her ONLY role in a relationship. What I am saying is that I absolutely witnessed though my own life and the lives of others the consequences of the woman who demands Power, and the rewards of ones who dispense influence. It’s like night and day, life and death.

 

Being Alone: From fellow blogger Witchy Wisdoms 4/19/17

This sister has some deep and very meaningful messages. Wanted to share this one.  Enjoy or reflect.  Thanks Witchy!

WednesdayWisdoms: Being Alone

I think a lot of the reason why we dive into unhealthy behaviors is because we’re afraid of being alone. It can be terrifying to be by ourselves and faced with our truths, so we run in a myriad of ways.

When I started this blog and publicly dove into the depths of my mind, I was all alone swimming in a scary pool of self doubt. But I needed to explore the depths before going back to the surface. It cleansed me.

So for this weeks practice, I want you to be alone. Read a book, write in a journal, do a yoga session, make jewelry, read your own tarot cards, do arts and crafts, take a bath, literally ANY hobby. But do it without distraction. Not with a glass of wine. Not while the TV is on. Not with a huge bag of chips or candy.

Go on a date with yourself and see what you find. What is intriguing in your mind? Do you find that inner critic coming up? Can you follow the advice from last Wednesday to quiet it?

Spend at least an hour doing this solitary activity, and then, when you are done, write down how you feel. Write down what you learned. Make concrete observations and force yourself into self awareness.

The more you practice this, the more you will learn to appreciate yourself. You will open up a Pandora’s Box of creativity, but maybe not until you flush out some monsters. This exercise, over time, will increase your confidence because YOU will know YOU inside and out.

It might be scary at first, and if it is, write it down. Write down why. Show yourself some compassion for being scared. It takes courage to face your truth.

So get out of your comfort space, get alone, and stay witchy ( *)

Real Lesson On Love

Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. – Michael Masser & Linda Creed (Songwriters)  

This is a common saying among our culture. And it’s true that self love is something we as a society/culture struggle to learn. However, I believe the most significant love lessons are those directed towards others.

You see when we love someone, be it a lover, a friend, or a relative, there is an inward pleasure that comes from giving and sharing the love that is inside of us. Humans are made to give, receive and share love. It’s a natural interconnecting and cyclical exchange which gives us purpose beyond ourselves. Love, being an action word, causes movement and pushes us past mere self interest. It involves sacrifice. Love says, “I will give my child the one piece of bread in the house and I will go hungry.” Or, “I will buy my lover an outfit, or his favorite cologne with my spending money instead of buying something for myself.”

You know the funny thing about love? Is that the so called sacrifice actually becomes pleasurable. There is no real suffering when your mind and heart are motivated to give. The satisfaction on the inside from giving to the object of your affection is reward enough. It’s easy!

Love will make you do right. Love will make you do wrong. Make you come home early. Make you stay out all night long. – Al Green

But what happens when the one you love doesn’t love you? What happens when the child you loved, raised and provided for rejects you? What happens when the friend you love betrays you? What happens when your lover cheats and breaks their promises. What happens to your love then?

Love is an investment of the heart. It requires intimacy and vulnerability. Vulnerability carries with it the potential of great pain. Pain causes grief. Anger is one of the 5 stages of grief. (along with denial, bargaining, and depression…) Acceptance is the last of the 5 stages.

If she is amazing, she won’t be easy.  If she is easy, she won’t be amazing. If she is worth it you won’t give up. If you give up you’re not worthy… Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” – Bob Marley

When someone you love causes you to experience the 5 stages, this is the ultimate test of whether love is real. It’s easy to love when love is requited. But when it’s not, when the one you love isn’t going to return that love, or for that matter do the opposite of what you desire he/she does, and you achieve acceptance granting them their wish, then you will know that your love is truly love.

And this is the secret of love as well as some of the most important lessons we will learn in life. True enlightenment can’t be learned in a book. Ideas may start in theory but they aren’t anything but philosophies and mental treaties until you walk the walk. In this case, when your loved one puts you through hell and back, is performing at their worst, or is in a position to offer you nothing and yet you continue to love, then the true lessons of love have been achieved.

I always knew this in ‘theory.’ As a matter of fact, I have prided myself on loving the important people in my life when they are at their worst. After all, that’s when love is needed the most. I’ve proclaimed it and desired that same kind of love for myself. We all need that kind of love. I’m glad to say that I have both given and experienced this love beyond theory. Neither side of it was pretty or easy. But they were both real. To me, this is the greatest love of all.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13

 

 

Are Relationships Hard?

I was having a conversation recently about a couple who are in the midst of some turbulent times in their relationship. It’s possible that they may not make it to the forever they promised one another. It’s commonly said that in any relationship it will not always be ‘peaches and cream.’

Well it’s true that life in itself is at times very challenging. Externally there are things going on all around us that grab our attention. We have goals, wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes it’s as simple as survival. From where will come our next meal? How will the rent get paid? Whether goals or stresses, these will abide no matter what. I’ve heard it said that in life we are either going through something, about to through something or recently came through something. We don’t need to be coupled up to have these challenges. They will be with us regardless.

So what does this say about relationship?  Are they hard or are they easy?

As I think about it, I don’t believe relationships are hard. I believe WE are hard. It’s easy in the beginning to find favor with someone we like, care for or love. We even know going in that the object of our desire is not a perfect person. We know that he/she has faults. If we are self aware we also understand that we are deeply flawed or at least far from perfection in a human sense. There will always be room for growth no matter what stage in life we are in. And yet when someone has our favor we are graceful towards our partner’s imperfections. Some of us overlook them altogether. Some of us who are a bit wiser recognize them yet view our partner’s imperfections as an opportunity to step up and really show love and compassion towards him/her. Either way, it’s not the relationship that is the problem. It’s us!

At some point in relationships it is us who change. We become less graceful towards our partner. We become stubborn, resentful, unforgiving with a hardened heart. We become rigid, impatient, judgmental, prideful, lazy, and self absorbed. We forget or refuse to remember the first fruits of what attracted and connected us in the first place. We stop putting in the work of developing our own character to grow and be a better person and by extension a better partner.

It’s easy to love when ‘things’ are good and going our way, right? However, love is strengthened through trials and tribulations when we as people decide that no matter what is going on externally, we are determined to remember and maintain a basic foundation of humanity and decency when we think of and address our partner. When he/she misses the mark in our opinion, we can choose compassion instead of spite. We can choose soft words or if necessary temporary silence in the midst of conflict or pressure. We can choose to remember that our partner is a person who needs the same grace and kindness that we desire when we are not our best selves. We can decide to never ever remove the emotional security blanket that assures our partner that he/she is never alone and will always be received and accepted; without question. We all have and will always have faults as well as external distractions. Through love and devotion our partnership can grow us under the tent of a security that says, “No matter what, I’ve got your back.”

Always remember, nothing great and worthwhile happens by accident. Love is an action word. It is achieved, maintained and perfected intentionally!

I Am

I am brilliant

I am kind

I am considerate

I am loyal

I am a giver

I am talented

I am patient

I am compassionate

I am empathetic

I am loyal

I am fierce

I am confident

I am bold

I am a survivor

I am inquisitive

 

I am bashful

I am unsettled

I am fearful

I am angry

I am possessive

 I am lacking in knowledge

I am stubborn

I am sensitive

I am foolish

I am conflicted

I am introspective

I am vengeful

I am in pain

I am blind

I am human

When Pain Makes You A Monster

Have you ever found yourself in so much emotional pain that you stepped outside of your character; that you became a person you didn’t recognize? Ever had that feeling for a few fleeting moments that your entire world was falling apart? And the intensity of anger caused by deception, betrayal and or rejection was so strong, that you found yourself in your most primitive state of mind; as if you were a barbarian who doesn’t understand reason or language, only the most tender and unabashed reactionary flailing towards both survival and hopelessness simultaneously?

Have you had that inward confrontation after writing something in a state of desperateness angst, having to decide whether to hit ‘send’, (email or social media) whether to dial a phone number, whether to drive to the certain place, approach the door, knock on that door, knowing that there are no scenarios in which this will result in something positive, let alone beautiful. Logically you are fully aware.  But in the moment you DON”T CARE!

Have you ever been there?

I have.

(people on video unknown to author)

As a matter of fact, more of us have been there than care to admit. It’s not uncommon at all.  I’ll get to that later. What I want to address is what to do about it in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience. Unaddressed, the affects of this trauma can linger and hide dormant. You may think it’s not there. But in reality it’s ready to be unleashed in a moment’s notice. After the meltdown in addition to the residual anger, you may feel guilty or foolish over the way you behaved. You may sense some feelings of hopelessness. This is because in that state of rage, consequences are not seriously considered.

“What if I do something to cause me to go to jail? What if I hurt someone or I am the one seriously injured or worse?  I don’t care.  The only thing that matters is that I deal with this thing that is killing my soul!  Whatever the consequences are, I will live with them!”

This is what hopelessness does.

Whether you quenched the thirst of the blood you wanted in the heat of your desire, or you walked away before the most damage could be done, here are some suggestions to deal with the aftermath of this emotional and psychological trauma.

1. Acknowledge And Own It: Something happened and whether it’s ultimately justifiable or not, you went to a dangerously dark place. You are wounded and the residue of the damage probably isn’t going away quickly.

2. Be Good To Yourself: There is nothing wrong with you. The only differences between temporary or permanent insanity for any persons are brain chemistry balance and/or a special set of circumstances. It’s a blessing to have any sanity at all on a regular day. No matter how calm and logical we are as people, sweet and beautifully innocent, (HA!) the fact of the matter is, if we are pushed far enough into a corner and all other key ingredients are present, we can change in an instant to become our worse selves. The most dangerous mental state to be in is when we feel we have nothing to lose. When that happens, life altering worst case scenarios are but a moment away.

3. Be Thankful: If you aren’t in jail, and haven’t hurt anyone then you survived having to deal with the legal ramifications of the situation.  You can start the process of healing and start to recognize and understand your own potential towards internal fragility.

4. Compartmentalize Your Steps: People say, “One day at a time.  Soon after the trauma, the sting can linger causing the day to seem eternal.  You may have to take things in groups of 10-15 minutes. If that is the case, then accept it.

5. Allow yourself to properly grieve: You can’t push the grief aside. Trying to mask or cover the pain is like trying to push a rubber ball under a pool of water. You can hold it there but for so long. Eventually it’s going to rise back up. For each time it comes back it’s going to eat at you a little more as anger and resentment increase. It increases because we want the person to acknowledge or pay for their sins against us. Each time that ball rises, it breaks the surface of your heartstrings reopening the wounds afresh. Allow yourself the grace of experiencing the grief process without allowing it to overtake you. When you sense it coming over you, tell yourself you will allow for a few minutes or hours to experience grief, then at the appointed time, direct you energies to something else until it’s time to grieve again.

6. Get Help: Doesn’t matter if you talk to a trusted friend, or seek the help of a professional therapist. You need an outlet and someone to give you a loving and affirming word. When you are by yourself, you may get into some meditations practices to began to train your mind on radical acceptance, self peace, self love and forgiveness. You may have to forgive someone, yourself or both. There are some wonderful meditations on YouTube for differing challenges. Check them out. Try some of these ideas, all or more if necessary.

7. Decide What The End Game Is: Where do you want to end up when it’s all said and done. What does the best case scenario look like? What will healing look like? What will it take? How are we going to get closure? Are the questions of why important? Do you seek answers from the party who hurt you?  Truth is, unfortunately we may or may not get the answers we seek from the other person.  Still we must manage to survive.

8. Exercise Humility, Grace, and Forgiveness: We are all human. No matter how great of a path we have walked, we have all hurt people, disappointed loved ones, and behaved in ways that are at best regrettable.  Seek to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is not excusing or even justifying the behavior that hurt.  It’s simply recognizing that the other person is a person. He/she is not perfect nor in reality worse than we are. For we too have in times past been the torturer. What determines the people we are or who we turn out to be?  Do we have a conscious or are we sociopaths? Do we care about causing damage to others or are we out for destruction? Are we redeemable and should we get a second or a 99th chance at life and happiness? If we can see the person who hurt us as simply human, we free ourselves from self-righteousness. We can legitimately have done some things or most everything right, and still be wronged! We are legitimate people even when we are hurt.  We have a right to ask for and even demand answers, regardless of whether we get those answers or not.  But that does not allow us the privilege to become self-righteous using our pain as a pedestal to stand on. We should seek to gain the search for peace and contentment for our own sake.  And if anything, perhaps our experience will push us even harder to be the quality people we seek when seeking to share our lives with another. Beloved, oh how I wish you grace, peace and eventually joy as you walk through this journey.  May you be healed.  And may you find the love you truly desire.