True Love – What It Is and What It Isn’t

True love isThe quote above is meaningful in so many ways. So let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

“True love is not just physical”…  It’s not just physical, although the physical is a huge part of it.  Of course when you hear that love is not just physical, you interpret it to mean that it isn’t just about lust but I think it goes beyond that.  The definition of physical from the oxford dictionary is.. “of or relating to the body as opposed to the mind”.  So in a deeper way it means that true love is about the mind or rather the mindset as well as the body.  If your attitude or mindset is negative toward the object of your affection than it is not true love because either this person is not right for you or you are not willing to do the work to keep your mindset positive.

“Nor romantic”…  One of the oxford dictionary’s definitions of romantic is “of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality”.  Don’t get me wrong, this viewpoint is important!  You should think that you are the luckiest person in the world and you should view your relationship through rose-colored glasses but what this quote says is that you need balance.  Romance is not the only component of true love.  No person or relationship is 100% positive all the time and you need to be able to see the down side of your mate and your relationship and still think it is worth it.  Which leads us to the last part.

“True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be and will not be.”  This last part reinforces the need for more than a romantic viewpoint, because to some extent you need your love to be rooted in reality.  If you are waiting for your love to change, to become the person they should be, so that you can be with a “perfect” partner, than it isn’t really true love because you aren’t in love with who they are, you are in love with a figure that you have made up in your own head.  If you know that your love doesn’t want kids and you do and you are just hoping down the road they change their mind then you aren’t respecting them or their views in a way that you should with a true love.  When you talk to people that have been together forever they will all have stories about times when they were disappointed or frustrated and their relationship was on the rocks.  The one thing that made their love last was not that it was perfect, it was that they valued it enough to hang in there.  They valued it enough to accept it for exactly what it was and still hang in there.  That’s what true love is.  It’s seeing yourself and your love as clearly as you are capable of and still knowing that you wouldn’t want to be with any one else.

Cliche Day: Everything Happens For A Reason

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Everything happens for a reason…or so they say. Or so I say, to be more precise. I claim on the daily to believe this statement, but I admit that there are times when I find it hard…

I mean, what does it mean? Everything happens for a reason? Everything? Like, from the moment you are conceived, every little seemingly minuscule thing is happening for a reason? To shape and form you into the person you are meant to be? Everything? From brushing your teeth, to what you eat, to stepping over that crack in the sidewalk (I mean, you don’t want to break your mother’s back, do you?), it all happens for a reason?

To me, that sounds just a little bit crazy. Besides, most religions discuss this idea about free will, which basically means we are given choices and we possess the ability to choose which way we want to go. Free Will versus Everything Happens For a Reason–a.k.a. Destiny or Fate–seem to be mutually exclusive concepts. How can you choose something that is destined to happen?

When I was younger, and still an active member of the Christian Community, I used to get hung up on this concept. If God knew what I was going to do before I did it, could I surprise Him? Could I disappoint Him? With this idea foremost in my noggin, I would purposely set out to do things that God might not expect of me–for example, I’d start to go downstairs, but quickly spin around and go back up. I would grab my Bible and pretend to be looking for Mark, but I would really be looking for Psalms. I’d play the Backstreet Boys on the radio, but rewrite the words on the fly, usually praising Him instead. Granted, nowadays, almost 20 years later, these seem like rather feeble attempts to “pull one over” on God, but those were the days of innocence and naivety. But the juxtaposition of free will and God being omniscient really confounded me.

See, if God really is omniscient, then there really isn’t anything we can do to surprise or disappoint him, because he already knows that we’re going to do it. Therefore making Hell just a man-made scare-tactic. Right? I still don’t know the answer to that, nor do I claim to.

These days, I am not so bound by any one specific classification of religious beliefs. But the question still remains…do I believe that everything happens for a reason?

Yes. Yes I do believe that everything happens for a reason. In my world, I have to. I will admit that a lot of cliches told during times of grief, annoy me to no end (“God works in mysterious ways….” Is there a manual? “….never gives you more than you can handle…” Hey, I’m not Wonder Woman. “It’s always darkest before the dawn…” This world seems pretty dang dark. “They’re in a better place now…” Oh, so they’re the lucky ones?), but the end result is the same–I want to believe that there is a reason!

So here’s the thing: if I say that everything happens for a reason, then that doesn’t mean I get to pick and choose which incidents happen for a reason, and which do not. Everything is kind of an all inclusive word, hahaha! I cannot say that example A happened for a reason, but example B was an obvious malicious intention just to hurt. No, that sounds like an oxymoron.

What got me thinking about all of this, was the “one who hurt me the most,” that I mentioned in “What’s Wrong With Me?” I did not want to forgive him, because I was so sure that he was 100% wrong, and I needed him to admit it. However, almost exactly three years later, I have come to the realization that the end result of the entire thing, was meant to be. Maybe free will had added quite a bit of drama into the equation–perhaps that was not entirely necessary–but he and I were meant to fall apart like that. He had to perform the ultimate betrayal for me to betray him. Without my betrayal, he would still be on the old road, not the one that he is on now–the better one, which includes love and family. Without an “us” he probably wouldn’t have what he has now. (At least I tell myself this to make me feel better.) Although I still, honestly, harbor a grudge against him–I thought our friendship included active listening, hahaha–I would not change anything, even if I had the power to do so. As he has assured me time and time again, we are forever in each other’s lives; holding a grudge only hurts me.

Another example–Funky Lollipop’s first booth at a show. Not exactly the money-making event that we had hoped for, but I feel as though it was an amazing experience nonetheless. For me, the people we met, the contacts we made, the real-life experience we were exposed to–all worth it! I’m not sure if I am fully aware of all the reasons yet, but I still feel good about the entire thing!

My current job–I only interviewed for two jobs in 2013, museum and Harley shop. I thought I was a shoo-in for the Harley shop, but it didn’t pan out. And I am thankful for that! My former friend got the position instead, to work with my brother’s former girlfriend. Now wouldn’t that have been awkward! Plus, if I had not started working here, I would have never met Lollipop! If I had gotten the job at Harley, Funky Lollipop would not exist! How tragic is that??!!

While driving–if I seemingly get trapped behind the slowest person ever, almost always there is a cop hiding around the next corner. Or a deer preparing to cross the road. Even these random little nudges, seemingly happen for a reason.

I love Marilyn Monroe’s quote–“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” People change, including yourself, and usually for the better. There has to be a yin and yang–a balance between the good and the bad–so that you can recognize the good when you have it. And, in the end, you really can only trust yourself to do what you want you to do. It is very hard to expect someone else to do what you want them to do, hahaha. And sometimes you don’t know that there are better things waiting for you right around the corner.

Marilyn’s life story is rather complicated and tragic. Not the happy ending I am sure she expected. I have an affinity with Marilyn, loving her as a person, not an actress. I am unsure of the reasons behind her life and death–but I know that she did become eternally famous! Everyone knows her name! Her life story has impacted so many individuals from all walks of life–from the wannabe actresses to the eternally horny to the avid conspiracy theorist–so many look upon her with reverence.

Believing that everything happens for a reason is a big leap of faith. Accepting that “the universe” has a plan for you, and that you probably will not ever really know what that plan entails, and being okay with that, is a whole lot of faith. Trying not to be angry about the crappy hand you are sometimes dealt…that takes faith too.

I believe that there are quite a few BIG THINGS that will happen in every person’s life, that they will not have any control over. Free Will can get you so far, but “the powers that be” will use whatever means necessary to get you to the point that they want you to be at. To be the person you are meant to be. Accepting that you most likely will not know the reason, will be the hardest thing for me. I love to know why!!

So, Destiny, what do you have in store for me? What’s my story? Is it a tragedy? A comedy? Drama? Not a lot of action, hahaha! Will there be a love story? Either way, I hope it is a fabulous read!!

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Understanding Anne Frank: Be the Change

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is actually a quote from Gandhi, but it’s a sentiment that I think Anne would have agreed with.  Perhaps she didn’t know it at the time but the words she was writing in her diary were destined to improve the world.  She was living the principles she was writing about and was providing an example for generations to come of how to grow up, how to think for yourself and how to become the person you wish to be.  She was constantly evaluating herself, constantly being honest about her faults and constantly striving to do better.

Though the changes that the average person makes to themselves and their circle of influence may not become as well known and influential as Anne’s has, every little change adds up and slowly but surely things change for the better.  Anne herself had no idea the impact her words would have, she was simply trying to be the best she could under mundane, tense circumstances.

I would build upon Anne’s words and say that every moment is a new chance to change the world and that is why you don’t need to wait but also you shouldn’t wait!  There are no words to describe the sense of personal power and pride that comes from real and honest effort to better yourself.

Bettering yourself is the first and best way to better the world!  It is impossible to spread joy or kindness to others if you don’t feel that way yourself.  So take care of yourself and then spread that to all the people in your sphere from loved ones, to co-workers to strangers and you will be amazed at the changes you can make in the world!

Lollipop’s Guide to Love: Finding It, Knowing It, Keeping It

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All you need is love right?  That’s what they say and if you believe that’s true then you might be interested in my guide to love.  Read on for my insights into finding love, knowing it when you do find it and hanging on to it!

Step One: You’ll Find it When You’re Ready / Don’t Be Desperate

My Mom always told me she found love when she stopped looking for it and that was my experience too.  How’s that for a frustratingly smug and vague opening? But wait, it’s true!  When you make finding love your soul focus, you lose sight of all the other aspects of your life.  You lose the enthusiasm and passion that make you attractive to a potential mate.  You also tend to jump at every opportunity when you are desperate for love and no one wants to feel that the reason someone is interested in them is because they are around and have a pulse.

Step Two: You Have to Love yourself For Someone Else to Love You

And the clichés keep on coming! This one is true too.  Confidence, happiness and a dash of self-aware humor are all attractive qualities and are unable to be achieved if you don’t feel good about yourself.  The thing that you have to remember during this stage is that you don’t have to be perfect for someone to love you, although always striving to be your best self can’t hurt in your search for love.  The key is to strive to be the best you, not the best version of some ideal that has nothing to do with you.  There’s an old saying that goes: “For worry, work is better than whiskey”.  This means if you really hate something about yourself, address it and work on it, don’t avoid it and let it fester.

Step Three: You Have to Put Yourself Out There and it Has to be The Real You

The other reason why loving yourself is so important is because if you don’t love yourself you will find this step impossible.  You truly have to believe you are worthy of love to risk putting yourself out there.  Guess what, it is really hard to find love sitting on your couch and watching TV or not filling out that online dating questionnaire, or not talking to that cute person at work.  In fact I would go so far as to say it is nearly impossible.  If you’re super stumped about where the love of your life might be found, there were a couple of good suggestions two sentences back and if neither of those options appeal to you than just do what you love but do it with other people.  Another idea is to think about what kind of person you would like to be with and go where those people might be found.  That last one is tricky though and requires thought about the Real You.  If you want to meet someone who is kind and community oriented but you absolutely hate DIY and getting sweaty maybe don’t look for love by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.

Step Four: You Have to Have Standards, They Aren’t Just For Every Other Aspect of Your Life

As Cher from Clueless said “You know how picky I am about my shoes and they just go on my feet!”.  She may have been clueless about many other things but this one she got right.  If you don’t have some idea of what you want in mate, how are you supposed to find them?  Perhaps instead of trying to hook up with every rando that comes along, you should be alone for a while and think about what you want out of life and a life partner.  I’m not talking about physical attributes or fairy tales about how you might meet.  I’m talking about qualities such as “family is important to them” or “they have a decent job”, or “they are capable of being selfless”.  Obviously you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover and some people may seem nicer than they really are, at first.  But if there are clues, like they are really nice to you but really mean to everyone else, that they are perhaps not what they at first appeared, have some self-respect and hit the bricks.

Step Five: You Have to Find Someone Capable of Independent Happiness, Being Needed is Nice but at Some Point You Might Need Someone Too

This is one of my examples of knowing what your needs are and making sure they get met.  Standards people, they are really important!  If you are anything like me you love to be needed and there is nothing so attractive as someone that needs and appreciates you.  The thing you have to be careful about with this noble intention, is that there are folks out there who are incapable of being happy by themselves or indeed happy at all.  You will spend all of your time and energy trying to prop them up and talk them into seeing the world as a halfway decent place.  The only and inevitable result of this will be that they will continue to see the world as they always have and you will be exhausted and unhappy yourself.  Toxic attitudes are like any other contagious disease, no matter how strong your immune system if you keep making out with someone who has one you are gonna end up sick and tired!

Step Six: Is It Love?  The Three L’s You Need to be Sure Are There

So, say you have found someone that is in fact a decent person and everything seems to be going really well.  How do you know if this relationship has what it takes to last?  Let me introduce you, dear reader, to the three L’s.  And the three L’s are, drumroll please, Like, Lust and Love.

Let’s start with like.  In order for a relationship to work you must like the person you are with.  This seems really obvious until someone comes along that is absolutely drop dead gorgeous and you are in lust city, until you realize that every time they open their mouth you want to die.  This is a situation where you have lust but no like and that is not gonna work out.  The person you are with should be like your best friend and you should genuinely respect their opinions and have fun in their company.

Let’s talk about lust, baby!  If you cannot picture yourself kissing someone much less doing anything else to them it’s not gonna work.  On the flip side if kissing and stuff is all you do because you have nothing in common it’s not gonna work.  Keep this in mind as well.  If you end up with this person forever, there are gonna be times where they and you are not at your best looking and you are still going to have to kiss and do stuff with them, so make sure that sounds like fun before you commit.

Lastly, love, but wait isn’t that what we are talking about anyway?  How can love be a requirement for love?  When I say love I mean the kind of love parents have for their children.  The kind that makes sacrifice seem worth it and would have you gladly leaping in front of a bus to save them.  Hopefully your love story will not require you to die in order to prove your devotion but it will require you to put your own needs aside on occasion to be there for your partner.  It will also require you to tell them hard truths and see them at their worst and if you don’t feel that all-encompassing, selfless kind of love for them; then, say it with me, it’s not gonna work.

Step Seven: Once You Have it Don’t Take it for Granted 

Yay!  You’re in love, love with a big L, love that lasts a lifetime!  How do you hold on to that love in the crazy world in which we live?  Step number one: don’t take it for granted!  Don’t just assume that it will continue along perfectly fine without attention or upkeep because that is true of absolutely nothing in life. And if you are this far along in this article, one might assume that love is important to you, so take care of it.  Tend it, tend your partner, tend yourself, make it a priority in your life!  The definition of husbandry from which the word husband derives means: the care and cultivation of something.  So care for and cultivate your relationship and ladies just because you are not a husband does not let you off the hook.  I know society would have you think that you are doing your partner a huge favor just by being with them and putting up with their manly, ridiculous ways but, spoiler alert, society is full of it and men need just as much care and support as anyone else and if you can’t be bothered to figure out what that means to a man, to your man, than I can honestly say you don’t deserve him.

Step Eight: Don’t Give Up

We’ve come to the end of our road.  We have found love and like and lust and we are trying to not take it for granted.  So, what else do we need to make sure it works?  In short we need to not give up.  If all the steps above have been followed, it sounds like this relationship has been built on solid ground and includes two awesome, amazing people, so don’t give up on it!  Don’t do it, it’s not worth it, if you break it you’re just gonna have to start all over again and guess what, if you are a giver upper you’re probably gonna do that the next time too.  So don’t put yourself through that.  Nobody is perfect and things will happen to test the relationship and each of you individually but take breaking up off the table.  Don’t threaten to leave just to get your way.  Love is tough at times but it’s worth it so, please, don’t give up!

Understanding Anne: Words of Wisdom from Anne Frank Part One

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I have read the Diary of Anne Frank several times throughout my life and each time something new jumps out at me as being so wise.  I remember the first time I read it was in school, while I was right around the same age she was.

The wisdom that stayed with me from this first reading, was the part where she talks about the difference in perspective between her and her mother.  Her mother believed that you should be aware of how bad it could be and is not and be happy that you are being spared for the moment.  While Anne herself thought you should look at how beautiful the world is and be happy that things are so good.

I remember thinking at the time that they were both right and you should do both things.  Be grateful that your world is so beautiful and be aware that it could be much worse.

It made me sad at the time, that Anne had such a difficult relationship with her mother, when both of them had very valid viewpoints.  I wished so much that they could have seen the wisdom in the other and in that way have grown closer.

I will say that seeing the issues that drove these two women apart, helped me in my own life to avoid the anger and hurt that many teens feel toward their parents and my mother and I formed a relationship during my teen years that provided a wonderful foundation for the extremely close bond we still share.

This post is the first in a series that I am going to do on all the many insights and wisdoms to be found in Anne Franks Diary.  She was a gift to the world during an extremely dark time and I can’t help but think that she would have been proud that she achieved her fondest desire; to go on living in the world’s memory long after her death.

“I Don’t Need Anyone”, The Great American Lie

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I was watching Benny and Joon the other night with the husband and at the very beginning of the movie, one of benny’s friends is talking about a conversation with his wife, where the wife asked if he needed her, and this apparently really freaked the friend out.  That got me to thinking about why a married person would be freaked out by the idea of being needed or needing someone else and I realized that this whole idea of needing other people, is kind of a touchy one in our society.  We are all supposed to be rugged individualists, bravely facing each new dawn, certain in our ability to handle life’s challenges unaided and unafraid.

This adoration of self-reliance is really one of the founding concepts of American life.   In the beginning we decided to strike out to a strange new world far away and once we got there we decided that we didn’t need anyone telling us what to do and American history has been about a series of new frontiers and expanding boundaries ever since.  We as a people love the frontier and in our minds these frontiers are populated by tough people who don’t need anyone.  But the story of our frontiers are not stories about lone people doing it on their own.  They are about groups of people, couples and families and communities surviving together and helping each other.  Those families needed each other in a way that is completely foreign to us now.  They literally could not survive and certainly could not thrive alone.

In this day and age, needing people is seen as weak. If you’re truly successful you’ll know it by how independent you are.  If you have everything you want what need do you have for another person?  After all everything you want you can provide for yourself.  It is one of the most unfortunate aspects of modern society that we are so afraid to need someone.  How can you be a real team if you don’t trust or need the other members?  Yet we try over and over again to form relationships where we refuse to need and feel trapped when we are needed and we wonder why they fall apart.

I love the quote above because it’s so real.  Those lives aren’t built on standing alone and yet also living some fairy tale happily ever after.  It’s talking about life and work and how rewarding those things can be when you have someone else to stand with you.

Lean Into the Pain or How Avoiding Unhappiness Won’t Make You Happy

Avoiding UnhappinessI was having dinner with a friend of mine and her parents a couple of weeks ago and they were asking for advice on quitting smoking that they could pass along to their son who is a smoker.  The only thing that I could really think of to tell them was to lean into the pain.  A couple of days later I was watching a movie with Funky called Hector and the Search for Happiness (which is completely awesome I highly recommend it) and there was a line about how avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.

The thing is, unhappiness is just a part of life.  Without unhappiness how would we appreciate happiness?  How would we even know what happiness is?

Having a risk averse way of looking at things gets in the way of being happy!  Why would you pursue a route that is hard but ultimately rewarding if avoiding struggle or moments of unhappiness is your main goal?

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that surviving unhappiness is one thing that can make you really happy.  When I look back on my own experiences I see this play out over and over again.  If there was a project I was dreading because it seemed really difficult or I was insecure about my ability to handle it, I would put off dealing with it.  I was a classic procrastinator.  The result of this, was that I went around with this thing hanging over my head and in the back of my mind, worrying me.  Then I would put the thing off so long that some kind of deadline would pass and the situation would get much worse and much more complicated.

When I finally disciplined myself to take care of the dreaded thing right away, no matter how much it sucked, I would be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and renewed faith in my own abilities.

Here’s another way of saying the same thing.  I was watching a show called The Mentalist and the main character on the show told someone that they would be a lot happier if they didn’t think so much about what they do and don’t like.

I completely agree.  Just by saying, I don’t like being unhappy, you are ensuring that you will be unhappy.  It is a self fulfilling prophesy.

For example: people think, “I don’t want to quit smoking because it’s going to be really hard and I won’t like that.”  Then they finally talk themselves into quitting and they think “yep, I was right this is hard and I don’t like it”, then they start thinking “Is it worth it?  I’m so unhappy and quitting smoking is supposed to make my life better but it’s making it worse because it’s so hard and I’m so unhappy.”  Then they start smoking again and guess what?  They are still unhappy, because they are doing something that they know they shouldn’t be doing and the cycle starts again.  The only way to free themselves from the cycle is to lean into the pain, to just accept it and go through it and pursue their only chance at happiness which lies on the other side of unhappiness.

I’m not saying people should pursue unhappiness for it’s own sake or that they should wallow or obsess over things that make them unhappy.  I’m only saying that sometimes unhappiness is unavoidable and in those situations it might be better to submit of your own free will and truly experience it and then move on, instead of avoiding it and thereby allowing it more control over your life than it deserves.