Spring seems to have finally arrived in Syracuse. Maybe? Hopefully?
So yesterday, I decided to take a little walk and try to get my mind back on things worth spending energy on. For the last few months I have been so focused on hoping that the person that I was so very interested in, was actually interested in being with me as well. I really spent a lot of energy and time trying to get to know him and trying to make myself available to get to know him better.
I think I let the things that are my passion took the hit. So, I am going to try to rediscover those things.
Photography is my passion. I love taking photos. Love it.
I’ve always loved this building (above). This is BAR (a bar, believe it or not). I love the tarnish on brick. Great color.
A blurry shot down Franklin Street (above).
I call this “the loop around the MOST”. On the right is the Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology. On the left, well that is Soundgarden, a used music store that I literally had to PEEL my son away from.
I love the texture of the brick and the colors in the above three. I used the sketch function in my iPhone camera app.
Sometimes it is the smaller splashes of color that draws my eyes. (above)
Sometimes it just paralyzes me
I can’t really think
what I need to think
to calm myself down.
doesn’t work right.
Sometimes I think I get this way
because of things I want to say
Things I am anxious for others to
or not know,
or maybe really know,
about how I feel
Scares them away.
It would be so easy
if I could just say it.
And not freak out
the thoughts form
and the words
and hung up in
In my chest.
In my back.
In my gut.
How hard is it really?
“I like you”.
“I want to know you better”.
“I want to spend more time with you”.
“I want you to like me. “
“I want you to know me better
(and not run away)”.
“I want you to share space with me,
for a little while.”
It is so hard.
Sometimes I wonder if just
Maybe alone is easier.
alone is really
I just want to say it.
I just want to say it.
But I won’t.
I don’t want
them to think
that I am
I don’t want
to find out
that they don’t
really want me
“It’s not you
Its me. “
“I’m not ready
are a sweetheart
I don’t want to hear this
I won’t say it.
I can’t say it.
“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”
I think we’ve been duped. I think that people have been led to believe that love is about fiery, heart-jumping-out-of- your- chest, lack- of -breath type feelings. I think this might not necessarily be the natural response to love and affection. I think that idea might be socially constructed, and believe it or not, this whole epiphany came to me in my sleep!
Limbic Resonance and Regulation
The capacity of humans to bond with one another emotionally is known by physiologists and behaviorists as “Limbic Resonance”. It is like tuning in to another’s internal state, and finding congruence with another without necessarily relying on observable stimuli (facial expressions, tone of voice etc..) It is a mammalian phenomenon, but I am only really concerned with the human reaction (or at least for right now). Limbic resonance is the butterfly tickle jumpy feeling that you get in your “stomach” when you communicate, look at or spend time with someone you adore, or like. They also feel that feeling as well, thus making this a congruent phenomenon. It is the basis of growing attraction and emotional attachment to that other person.
Humans are social animals and depend on feedback from others to achieve equilibrium. This homeostasis is derived from a feeling of synchronicity with others. A person’s heart rate, sleep patterns, hormones, immunity, respiration rate and pH response are all regulated by the presence of other people. And the kicker is, that you also help to regulate them as well. It is a give and take relationship. Human regulation cannot happen without the presence of others, it is interdependent and needs to be steadied by having another person present, physically.
Being healthy and happy essentially depends on whether or not you have found a person, or people who help your body regulate well, and then your ability to stay near them.
Calm Love vs. Anxiety Love
With all the above information about physiology, why does society tend to portray love as, and then support and massively communicate that love, relationships and affection are supposed make you feel “off-balance” and essentially crazy anxious? Why are little girls (and maybe boys…who knows) conditioned to think that falling in love means that your heart beats hard, fast and irregular every time you are around the person you love; Or that it feels like the wind is knocked from your chest, making breathing less than regular; Or that, well, you feel like you are having an anxiety attack? That hardly seems like a pleasant reaction. Right? I’d argue that every relationship that I ever had that made me feel this way did not work out so well (ugh, AT ALL), because those feelings do not let your heart and mind be open, and eventually, you become so used to that person that those same feelings do not necessarily continue, and then of course make you doubt whether you should continue with that person. These reactions make the body feel clamped down and confused, unclear and misguided. They give a false sense of attraction. Ok, so it might be lust and/or passion, and if that is what your goal is to achieve in that moment, then hey, go for it. But for the meaningful stuff, the stuff that makes you want to stay with a person all the time, the LASTING stuff, I don’t think these feelings are the ones that should be used to gauge whether a person is long-term relationship potential.
Basically, my conclusion is, that when you do find the person that your resonate limbically with (ok… the person that you strongly like or love), you will feel just the opposite. Your muscles will relax, (including the ones in your face) giving your body a peaceful posture and appearance. Your heart rate will slow and become regular, as will your breathing. Your brain will clear, and your body will almost feel like it is in a meditative state. You will smile on the inside, and that will translate into how you hold your face and body. There will still be that limbic resonance of butterfly tickles in your stomach, but you are more apt to recognize them as a connection, rather than indigestion, if your body and mind are reacting in a non-anxiety-like way.
It is as if love calms you, and relaxes your soul, rather than revving you up, tightening up your muscles and heart, and exciting you to the point of anxiety. (This of course is a broad view of love and affection in a more global way. We all know that there are times when excited, fiery feelings is necessary and helpful for… well, sex.)
Maybe this is why divorce rates are so high? Maybe this unrealistic expectation that your body must always be “turned on” for a relationship to work has distorted our view about what love really is.
If you find someone who gives you butterflies, AND whose presence makes your body and mind feel focused, calm and relaxed you are one of the lucky ones.
“The flowering of love is meditation”
Sometimes I notice small, repetitive things. Ok well, more than sometimes. I try to slough it off as a coincidence, but I don’t think it really is.
I think that when a word, an image, a smell, or essentially anything that can be sensed, is noticed multiple times in a short time frame, that it is a “clue” to something that you are supposed to pay attention to. Like a little cosmic bread crumb trail. This week, the bread crumb is the word “cozy”.
This word just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I figured I’d look at it’s existence and connection to my world. I asked myself: “What am I supposed to notice, or see?”
In the last month, I’ve given some thought to things in my life that I thought I wanted. Having been single for so long, I’d almost resigned myself to the fact that I would have to make my (future) self cozy. That there would not ever be another 1/2 to the coziness equation. I’d planned to sell (most of) my belongings, buy a tiny house, put it on a small field in Ireland or Northern France and write a book (after my son goes to college, of course). Cozy, but self-imposed cozy. I tried to make myself feel OK with it. However, this means I’d be essentially alone. Breakfast, movies and coffee by myself. Reading alone in bed at night. Dinner for one. Taking solitary early morning walks, and folding only my own unmentionables. You get the point…
A guy who I’d dated very briefly last summer said to me, (after I mentioned this plan to him in conversation)
“What about a guy? Don’t you want to have company? Don’t you want to settle down with someone and get married? Where will he fit in your tiny house?”
My response startled him, and I think it is why we only dated for a very short while:
“Well, “Doug”, It doesn’t seem to be working out that great for me as of yet, so I am making my own plans.”
I guess I thought I was actually being an independent woman, prepared (for once) for the future. What I realize now, is that I was putting up (another) wall to happiness. By making myself feel “cozy” in my future, I was limiting myself to being alone in the present, AND therefore, probably the future as well.
I’ve started to think more about what life would look like with more than just me in the equation (not including my son of course). Big step. Big risk. (Yikes! Was that an earthquake?)
There is a pretty good chance that I could be devastatingly disappointed. But I’m feeling the urge to take a little risk; To be a little uncomfortable with new thoughts and daily patterns. Change things up a bit. I want cozy company.
Last week, I was talking to my friend, about a really great guy (kind, honest, attractive, etc…)that I’ve recently been in contact with, and she talked about a new person that she’d been seeing. We then wandered further into the topic and started discussing what “perfect relationships” looked like. I mentioned that recently, more “traditional” thoughts were starting to float around in my head and that surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by them (I have worked pretty hard to be anything but gender-role-traditional). I talked about things like enjoying a small breakfast with someone as we pass the newspaper between us, about folding a family’s worth of clean clothes, about cooking dinner and actually sitting down and talking about something real and important, over a meal and about even something as simple as sharing a bowl of popcorn. As I expressed more about what I thought this would be like. She commented that it seemed like a cozy existence.
And that is when all this “cozy” talk started.
Then, last night, whilst having another conversation with another friend. He implied (a few times) that maybe, just maybe, I am someone’s “cozy” too. This shook me up a bit. Not gonna lie. I’ve never seen myself as someone who could make someone else feel “comfortable, warm and relaxed“. I’d never thought of myself as having something to give to someone else in a partnership; That someone else might feel cozy because of me. This is a big shift in my thinking: I might actually be someone who can make someone else feel this way?! I might be a worthy 1/2 of a whole?! What!?
Those cosmic bread crumbs led me to a pretty amazing idea. I might run with it.
I’ve started reading a new book. It was a gift from my brother’s new girlfriend, Lauren. She brought this book back from India, where she did her study abroad. In getting to know me, she felt that I might like to read it. So, she brought it to me. The book is Flowers on the Path, by Sadhguru.
My goal is to study each chapter and try to reflect, with a series of short blog posts. (We shall see if I follow through. )
The first section of the book is called “Everyday Flowers”. The book is divided into three sections and then further into smaller chapters. I, of course, began with the first chapter in the first section. (No need to go all crazy and start jumping around…)
The chapter is called “Health is Wholeness”.
Sadhguru starts this chapter by giving a basic definition, or etymology of the word “Health” in saying that it is derived fundamentally from the root word “whole”. When we say we are feeling healthy what we are really referring to is that we have a sense of wholeness. Sadhguru then further explains that while many people think that they are healthy, because they medically have nothing wrong with them, they still may not feel completely whole, or therefore wholly healthy. In other words, “they do not experience a feeling of wellness within themselves.”
Now, of course, when I read this, it felt as though I already knew this, or had heard this idea from many other sources. (A lot of the guided talks that I listen to, mostly from Tara Brach, have to do with very similar concepts.) So this idea didn’t really strike me as anything out of the ordinary.
The next part of the chapter was the part that I needed to read. Sadhguru goes on to say that not only do one’s mind and body need to be functioning at a certain level of intensity, but also one’s energy functions. I have a difficult time taking care of my energy functions. This I know to be true, and this is why I need to continue reading. My body (for the most part, medically) is functioning well, and my mind seems to be holding up it’s end of the bargain as well (I think?). However, my energies DO tend to get all mashed together and pulled out of whack as the day, or weeks carry on (think: “Energy Silly Putty”). I tend to focus on the external world, rather than my internal self as a part of that world. As life as a professional and as a mom tend to pull me in many directions, it is hard to keep my energy in balance.
Sadhguru further clarifies that the chemistry level of the body functions are a result of the energy functions within a body. So basically, all of the stretching, mashing, pulling out of whack that my energies go through, actually affect my body’s chemistry. And then he states:
“When it comes to health, no human being gets to live in perfect conditions. The pressures of life, the foods we eat, the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, all these can affect is in many ways.The more our activities are in the world, the more we are exposed to things that can throw our chemistry off balance and create health problems.But if the energy in our system is properly cultivated, and kept active these things will not have an affect.”
This is pretty big. I guess this isn’t a total surprise really. However, the task of cultivating and activating my energy and basically changing how my energies function, does not sound like it is going to be an easy job. At all.
So, essentially, the outside world is weakening my health, my chemistry, so it is up to me to change how my body reacts to these toxins, through inner reflection, energy cultivation and peace.
My plan is:
Breathe, even when it is hard.
Focus on which part of my body is feeling it’s energy being stretched or manipulated.
Breathe some more.
Be mindful of what I am eating, thinking, doing and saying.
Know that my energy is part of this world, and my body, while I love to have use of it, is only my container.
Try to smile, even with my liver. (Eat, Pray, Love reference…)
and the hardest one for me, put more physical activity into my day.
Let’s see how this goes, shall we?
- Sadhguru: Meditation: The End of Suffering from Huff Post (karahpino.me)
- Remembering What Matters (thelotusunfolding.wordpress.com)
Your words made me laugh,
I reached to touch your shoulder ;
As if I’d done before
Sense of home travelled my arm,
and my soul knew it was you.
This morning, the alarm went off early. 5 am. No earlier than usual, but after a long day of driving to Albany and back for a conference, it felt much earlier than usual. I broke a nail at 6 am. Found that the garbage disposal was clogged at about 6:20 am. Checked my (low) bank balance at 6:50 am (Ooof. Can’t wait for payday) and then dropped my kiddo off at school for early morning Spanish tutoring. It was not the most “smooth” running of mornings. I started to get a little cranky. No joke. 7am and I was feeling that the day would only get worse.
And then came my lesson in perspective.
At 8:41 am, a Facebook notification came across my phone screen. It was the one I wanted to see, but was most worried about. It was an update from my friend, Danielle.
“We just kissed him goodbye and they wheeled him away. Now we wait.”
This was my old friend’s post this morning as they wheeled her tiny son down the hall to the operating room to have brain surgery to (hopefully) end his infantile spasms. Catastrophic seizures.
Her son Charlie is a vibrant, strong, superhero of a boy. He is a “heartbreaker” and a “ladies man”, with his crazy blond wavy hair, scrumptious cheeks and infectious smile. You really can’t help but smile and want to pinch his cheeks when you see photos of this kid.
Charlie has had a difficult journey, and by comparison, this short journey down the hallway to the operating room must have felt like the most difficult, yet most hopeful part of the journey for his mom, dad, big sister and extended family, as they watched him roll farther and farther away from them, and behind the O.R. doors; Beyond their immediate grasp.
As a mother, I’d like to say I can empathize, but really, I cannot. I cannot put myself in her shoes, but can only imagine what my feelings would be. I know I would probably feel powerless, worried and maybe even downright angry. But hopefully, I could be as strong as my old friend, and be hopeful, full of faith and eager to start the next, healthier part of her beautiful son’s journey with him.
The door closed behind Charlie’s gurney and then they waited. And waited.
So while I was at work, trying to not get frustrated with the gazillion emails and re-answering questions I’ve already answered; and trying to not be sarcastic; and trying to figure out how I was going to complete everything that needs to completed by their respective due dates (and quite frankly feeling sorry for myself), my friend Danielle and her husband Alan waited for 8+ hours for their son’s surgeon to emerge from the operating room with something. Anything, that could reassure them.
Let me just say this: The strength of this woman astounds me. The strength of her family is inspiring. Charlie’s courage and tenacity leave me in awe.
Now, I’ve never met Charlie, and haven’t seen Danielle since we graduated high school 21 years ago, but thanks to the power of social media, I’ve been able to reconnect with Danielle and have followed the journey that she has had to travel with her little man. I call him a superhero. If you think about the adversity that he has faced and the long road to recovery that he has in front of him it can feel overwhelming, and has at time even brought me to tears. But let me tell you something about this little guy: HE IS A FIGHTER. This is for sure. He just keeps getting back up and amazing anyone who sees him.
The last update that I saw from Danielle was a photograph of Charlie, only 1 short hour after a very long and very extensive brain surgery, trying to crawl out of his hospital bed to see something that caught his interest. The caption to the photo?
“You can’t keep a good man down!”.
Ain’t that the TRUTH.
Perspective. Today I found it.
Thanks Charlie. Lesson learned.