life, life lessons, Living Out Loud Pub, mindset

Perception: The Power to Reframe Things

How you perceive the world needs to be seeded from the inside.

by Gerthy Bingoly


No one can see the world as you do, and within that canvas we all share, you are the producer of your own reality, a world only you can carry. Add another pair of eyes, and you find yourself with two frames, with two realms of interpretations, with two worlds ready to collide. That’s perspective.

And there’s a gap between perception and reality.

The state of things you believe to be true is, in fact, nothing more but a small portion of the bigger truth. A truth no human ever had access to, nor could hope to hold in the palms of his hands.

And yet, too often, we are preoccupied with what other people are thinking. Too often, we are preoccupied with how others see us. Too often, we forget that things are not what they are, but in fact, what we think they are.

Within that gap between perception and reality lies the power to reframe things.

Wayne Dyer said:

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

In other words, how you perceive the world needs to be seeded from the inside. — Kim Petersen


1. Let’s Talk About Inputs

The world in which we live is a lively place. Take a look at how busy you are, multiply it by 7 billion, and you won’t even get close to the answer. With so many things to do, discover, and experience, it’s easy to get lost. With so many versions of the same story, it’s easy not knowing what to believe anymore.

Our sense of sight has long been corrupted by what the people around us see as beautiful. Our sense of taste, criticized by what people deem as non-healthy. Our sense of touch, condemned by people with a golden cage of principles. And our sense of self, alienated by our desire to be like the celebrities on our screens.

In a world with so many inputs, the best thing you can do is to never lose your output.

It’s okay to learn from others, and it’s definitely okay to learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. But there are two truths hidden here:

You won’t necessarily meet success where someone else did, and where someone failed, you can succeed. Don’t be quick to jump in the fray, and please, don’t sell yourself short.

Every input life throws at you needs to be filtered by what’s inside you. They all need to be digested and transformed by your experiences and aspirations. And then, redirected out in the world through actions of your own.

No one can relate to you as well as you do. So you have to do the job by yourself and reach that world only you can create.

You lived a beautiful life, you went through a compound of experiences, and you survived. For that reason alone, your voice matter. For that reason alone, you have the right to perceive the world in a way that benefits you.


2. Let’s Talk About Approval

The reason why we want to please people so much is that we want to be accepted. We want to be loved, invited to gatherings, included, and we especially do not want to be left out. We are social beings, and we long for that connection of the psyche, for the warmth it gives us in the winter, and for its freshness in the summer.

But before being accepted by others, please accept yourself. You may think the people in front of you are the only ones that will ever accept you. You may think you have to do whatever you can to stay in their good graces, but that is simply not true.

You have the right to be yourself, and by being you, you will attract people in love with that self. The world is of different spices, and you have yet to taste them all. Don’t be afraid to show yourself, don’t be afraid to be alone because of what is right. Sometimes, the best place to see the light is in the dark.

Please, be the You only you can be.

I recently read a tweet:

What doesn’t kill you makes you weird at intimacy.

What we forget is that weird can only exist within contradictions. Dancing naked at work is only weird if you’re not in a strip club, eating ice cream in the winter is only weird if you do not want to eat it, and saying “I love you” is only weird if you don’t think it to be true.

When you see the world as others do, and not as you do, you contradict yourself. And thus, you act weird.

Clive Staples Lewis said:

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

The only way to be you, to be the best version of you, to get what you want and what you deserve is to be you, the person only you know. Everyone else is already taken.


3. Let’s Reframe It, Perception

I walked a subjectively fair amount of years in this life, and I met my share of people. Of them all, never once, I heard someone seeking the opposite of happiness.

That feeling of joy and contentment has long been a quest of humankind. Some went to look for it in material goods and riches, others in love and pleasures. And when the high passed, the bummed started.

Because someone is rich, you think he must be happy. Because someone is accompanied, you think he should be exalted. And that may be true, but are the circumstances of our life all it takes to be happy?

I watched a Ted Talk recently. The speaker talked about an experiment with two dogs in two cages made of electric floors. Every now and then, an electric shock was sent to both. But one of the dogs had a button that could stop the discharge.

At the end of the experiment, the dog with the button was relatively happy, and the other one was completely depressed.

“The circumstances of our lives may actually matter less to our happiness than the sense of control we feel over our lives.” — Roy Sutherland

By getting out of the box you were put into, and by perceiving the world from your point of view, you can take back the control over your life. And with it, more chance at happiness.

Here’s a quote from Terry Pratchett:

“A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me? An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?”

Reframe it, perception.

As Roy Sutherland perfectly summed it. Choose your frame of reference and the perceived value, and therefore, the actual value is completely transformed.


The Takeaway

Life has many teachers, empty pockets, broken hearts, and health issues are a few of them. And though they are the same for everyone, they do not teach us the same lessons, for you are your own person, with your own experiences and your own aspirations.

Be aware of the inputs the world throws at you, learn from them, filter them and transform them. Don’t be afraid of the word “weird.” It can only be applied to you if you contradict yourself. Reframe your perception and take back the control you deserve.

Your life is your own to live, and you matter more than you think.

How you perceive the world needs to be seeded from the inside.


Gerthy Bingoly

From Medium: Writing about the things the eye cannot see, and looking for inspiration where my feet cannot take me. Write me at gerthywrites@gmail.com

Discover more of Gerthy’s work at his Medium page: https://gerthyb.medium.com/


This post was originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium.

Standard
Inspiration, life, life lessons, Living Out Loud Pub, Love and Connection, mindset

How The Four Happy Hormones Can Help Replenish Your Vitality

#3 Oxytocin, the love hormone.

by Gerthy Bingoly



The human body is a machine made to feel, an apparatus of excitement and pain, a box of emotions. Those feel good and feel bad moments are at the center of your everyday activities. The difference between waking up with a smile and jumping out of bed with a fright can drastically affect the tasks you planned to do.

Your energy levels, and without a doubt, your health, are closely related to the feelings happening in that little heart of yours. It’s a complex relationship, or rather an equation. One, I believe, we must solve every day.

When your energy level is high, you have more resources to help you during the day. From excitement to pain tolerance and from focus to willpower, you have more tools to power through the intricacies life throws at you, more means to resist the temptation of that snooze button.

On the contrary, when your energy level is low, the absence of those resources, the absence of that net, leaves you exposed to most of the negative feelings out there. Thus, the tendencies to take the path of least resistance.

Happiness has the power to bring you the energy you need. By understanding your body, you have the chance to create that feeling of well-being, joy, and contentment. Those four hormones can help you on that journey.


1. Dopamine, The Anticipation Hormone

Dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter — a chemical that ferries information between neurons. The brain releases it when we eat food that we crave or while we have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system.

Some twenty years ago, the little kid I was, was always excited at the start of December. Every first of the month, I would write a letter to Santa and then eagerly wait to unpack my gifts. That little action of putting words on paper was enough to make me happy and full of energy for the weeks to come.

The little kids have it a bit easier here: more things to discover and less to worry about — in most cases. As adults, you can do the same. You can use anticipation to bring happiness into your daily life.

I wake up at 4 am every Monday to Friday, and while I do my best to be in bed before 10 pm, a good night’s sleep is not the only reason why my phone and the wall haven’t met yet. I know I’m lazy, so I give myself rewards throughout the day. Every four hours, to be exact.

Early in the morning, I give myself a bit of social media time. When the sun starts waking up, just before work, it’s my cartoon time, with a bowl of cereals and some sweets. At noon, it’s lunch and fresh air. When twilight rings, I let my body sweat as I work out. And when the day is about to end, I give my body the pleasure of sleep.

It can be a food you’re eager to eat, a book you’re excited to read, someone you want to meet, an oncoming gathering with loved ones, or simply watching the sunset. In either case, you can use those little things you like to make you happier. Reward yourself.


2. Endorphins, The Soothing Hormone

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

A lot of people exercise nowadays. You don’t even have to look on your phone, take a peek out your window long enough, and you’ll see someone jogging outside. While some people train for a competition or simply to stay in shape, you can use it to be a little happier.

You don’t have to work out for one hour every day. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Fifteen minutes in the comfort of your home is enough. Sweat a bit, don’t forget to stretch and take a good shower — a simple formula of happiness.

Exercising is good for the focus it provides, it’s a good method to center yourself and calm your emotions. And it comes with a bonus. It makes you hella proud of yourself.


3. Oxytocin, The Love Hormone

Oxytocin is typically linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and shown in some research to lower stress and anxiety. It has the power to regulate our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, gazing, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication.

Love can give us the strength to slay giants. Ask Goliath if you don’t believe me. It’s one of those feelings that can make you look like another person, a version of yourself you didn’t know existed. It can make you shine with confidence and unexpected willpower.

And I’m not just talking about passionate love. Any kind of love has the power to make you happy. We’re social beings. We like to be connected to people, in touch or thought.

While it is okay to be alone, and I insist on this, it is okay to be alone. It is also okay to take time for yourself, time to heal. But please, find the strength to connect with the ones you love.

Life is about balance, and nothing is created out of nothing. Every one of us is busy living his life, and most often than not, we’re not aware of the whereabouts of others. Don’t wait for happiness, don’t wait for love, take action, and go get it. It is your right, and you deserve it.

There are lots of ways to feel love.

About one month ago, I started a “hello stranger” routine (if you have a cooler name, let me know). Each time I entered any store, I took the time to talk to one person, usually the cashier or the employee on the floor. We would talk about anything, deviating from the product to life, talking about a Netflix show in a cannabis store, or about engineering in a shopping center.

Love creates love, and happiness creates happiness. Spread them, and they’ll surely come back to you. It’s contagious.

Talk to someone, call a friend, or cuddle your cat. But take action, your body and your heart will thank you for it. Though, do it at your own pace, one step at a time.


4. Serotonin, The Mood Hormone

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes your mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

The phrase “you are what you eat” takes all its sense here. One thing you can do to regulate your mood hormone is to control your diet, not to reduce your weight, but to feel comfortable in your body.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, my bottle of water is waiting for me at my bedside. A couple of sips and I’m ready to go out of bed. The human body is made of 60 percent of water, more so in the brain and the lungs, and one glass can jump-start your metabolism.

What you eat during the day also matters, particularly at lunch. I’m not a nutritionist, but a well-constructed meal of protein, veggies, and fewer carbs, does wonder for my body. And taking a short walk in the sun lightens up my mood for the rest of the afternoon.

A good night’s sleep can also help improve your levels of serotonin. And with it your mood the next morning. In the evening, a light meal usually does the trick. You don’t want to put too much strain on your stomach while Morpheus is calling you.


The Takeaway

The human body is like an engine, and like every machine, it needs fuel to rise to its full potential. That energy can be found in the small actions you take during the day, actions endowed with happiness.

And of course some days you’ll be sad. Always acknowledge your feelings, but remember that you cannot protect yourself from sadness without opening your heart to happiness.

Benjamin Franklin said:

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”

You don’t have to wait for the day, and you don’t have to wait for the one. You can take action now. Life is much more enjoyable when we have the strength to live it.


ABOUT GERTHY BINGOLY

Writing about the things the eye cannot see, and looking for inspiration where my feet cannot take me. Write me a few words at gerthywrites@gmail.com or reach me on instagram.com/gerthywrites


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

Standard
Inspiration, life, life lessons, Living Out Loud Pub

How to Absolutely, Positively Get Life Right

By Julia Hubbel

Before you throw your laptop at my head, read this first:

  • The best way to be different is to consistently do the things other people refuse to do.
  • The best way to live the life you dream is to stop obsessing about what other people think.
  • The best way to succeed is to out think, out hustle, and outwork everyone else. Not to avoid the work, but to do more of it, do it better and be willing to make the sacrifices others can’t be bothered to make.

Let’s talk about what that means in real life…

There is no perfect way to be or live as long as you are following someone else’s way of being or living. The single best way to live a life full of joy for ourselves is to be willing to do the work to identify what gives us joy. What ways can you and I make a difference in the world are unique to us, whether that means getting into police work or becoming a social worker, learning to be a college professor and sharing your love of Shakespeare, or finding your expression through art.

My life has been immeasurably improved by people such as the community college professor who got into teaching simply because she wanted to share her passion for Shakespeare with a bunch of Florida youngsters. I will forever be indebted to her for helping me feel his words, rather than just read them. I still love the bard’s material, for she taught me how to love literature my way, not her way. That has been a lifetime gift. How would you love to be remembered decades later for being such a powerful influence in a young life? Five decades later I still think about her. That is an influencer in the best possible way.

There is no perfect way to journey to your best life. The only way we get there is our way, which can be helped, but not lived, by others. We can solicit advice, but one of the prices we pay for wisdom is knowing when said advice doesn’t necessarily apply to us. Our parents may want us to follow a certain career path, because it gives them pride and social bragging rights. Our hearts may say that we’d be far happier doing Peace Corps work, which may not impress their social circle but which feeds our soul. This may lead to disagreement, but you are following your heart.

My father was both irritated and disappointed when I told him I didn’t want kids and was doing something about it permanently. Dad wanted grandkids, I didn’t want children. To have had kids to please my father would have been disastrous for both of us, to say nothing of the kids. Often, those of us who have pretty clear ideas about being parents know it early. No matter what social pressures exist to do otherwise, following our hearts in this matter is likely better all around, for being willing to stand your ground to live the life you prefer is a key part of becoming a fully-realized adult. You don’t owe your parents grandchildren. You owe the world, and yourself, a well-lived life, which may not mean you bear children. That’s for you to decide.

I joined the Army in 1973, an act that nearly drove my mother over a cliff. That turned out to be one of the smartest moves of my life. Seriously good and seriously bad things happened, but in nearly every conceivable way those five years fundamentally redirected and structured my life for the better. Had I listened to my mother, or to friends, I never would have joined in the waning years of the Vietnam War.

That was a hugely unpopular move for the time, especially for a woman. It was right for me, and that is all that matters. I had done my research, looked at all the services, and before I took the oath I knew what I was getting into, at least as best as anyone can with such a monumental decision. I didn’t worry about what folks thought. The Army was right for me right then.

There is no way to hack, outsmart, avoid or otherwise sidestep the real work. While the above quotes say to “out hustle,” that has nothing whatsoever to do with finding ways around the difficult, sometimes overwhelming effort it can take to get where you want to go. That might be your PhD, it could be an around the world adventure, it doesn’t matter. My boyfriend was the youngest of four boys. Growing up in Jersey, he had a brute of a father who regularly beat the kids. He got the worst of it, until he discovered weight lifting. He threw his whole heart and soul into learning how to build his muscles and his strength. Eventually there came a day when, even as a very young man, he backed his father off, once and for all.

When my boyfriend went away to college, out of sheer spite for the fact that he could no longer bully his youngest boy, the father tossed out all of his son’s many bodybuilding trophies. But he couldn’t change the fact that his son, now in his early fifties and still incredibly fit, had done the work. And had forced his hand, a hand he would never use against his family again. The self-discipline that my boyfriend learned as a skinny adolescent he still applies today. The fit bodies he and I both have are the result of endless hours in the gym and disciplined eating. There are no easy shortcuts. And finally….

Fear is infectious

Other’s fear about what might happen to you can cripple your hopes and dreams. My mother was fearful her whole life, from her terror about the Army to every single other major decision I made. Especially about sports. My mother had been an excellent horse rider, and she had dreams to travel to Africa. Yet when I took on some hair-raising sports, such as sky diving, all I heard was that I had a “death wish.” When I traveled to Africa and Australia, I had a “death wish.”

In fact, yes, I did. But not the way she meant it.



I didn’t want to die having not lived life the way I wished to live it

I learned, finally, not to tell my mother about anything I did until after I’d already done it. Until the big reveal, she was in blissful ignorance about my latest adventures. She may have (and did) envied me, but she didn’t have faith in me. That’s crippling — but that lack of faith had nothing to do with me whatsoever. Those were fears she carried. That’s the same thing that happens when others try to talk you out of your dreams. Their commitment to hold you back has less to do with a genuine concern for your safety (unless they know you to be an irrational, irresponsible fool, which is another story entirely) than it does with operating out of their own insecurities or jealousies. You simply cannot live an extraordinary life listening to the fears of ordinary people who cannot see or feel what you do.

There is nothing wrong with living an ordinary life. Most of us are achingly ordinary in most things. Billions wear size Medium. Billions have brown eyes. Billions share a great many characteristics.

But only a few live extraordinary lives. The trick is to decide that you are worth the work, then to do the work, and don’t ask for others to approve. Chances are, they won’t.

For my part, that’s a pretty good indicator that I’m on the right track.


The author kayaking in the Svalbard Islands – Julia Hubbel

About Julia Hubbel

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

Read more of Julia’s work on Medium


Also published by Living Out Loud on Medium

Standard
life, Love and Connection, mindset, People, relationships, Women

Handling the Friend Who Shamelessly Flirts with Your Man

There’s always a friend you can never quite trust.



She’s the friend who barely waits for your back to be turned before she transforms into a sex bomb, tossing her hair and swinging her hips as she saunters across the room with your man firmly in sight. You try to quell the annoyance splitting your brain as she smiles wide enough to swallow him whole. You take a breath, reminding yourself what it means to be the “better” person — the collected, Stoic kind of person. Besides, you know that he only has eyes for you. But that isn’t always enough to tame the jealousy trickling in your veins like poison ivy, is it?

Hell, no. You’re only human, honey.

“Every girl in here has got a girlfriend they don’t trust around their man.”

Chris Rock


Jealousy is one of those emotions that instantly implies childlike negativity. We’re frequently told that it’s not healthy or “evolved” to feel the pain of jealousy, or we are instructed to stop being so sensitive and be more stoic in our approach to life. Because to not be vulnerable or acknowledge why we are experiencing a certain emotion is better than actually feeling the raw emotion of life, right?

Ha.

Stoicism may teach us to accept the present moment and be less focused on desirable pleasures and the fear of pain, but none of us are totally immune to experiencing a “negative” pang-feel every now then. Or the tantalizing sensations of sexual desire for that matter.

And who in their right mind would want to deny such wonderful pleasures, anyway?

Certainly not I.

It’s called living, experiencing, connecting and learning, and frankly, I believe that feeling a little romantic jealousy has its purpose in love. Every emotion you feel is valid, regardless of what others have to say about it or if you feel as though you’re overeating. Further, your feelings actually reveal something about you, as well as that they may indicate the depth of your feelings for someone else.

You may be feeling jealous because you are head-over-heels in love.


Jenni Skyler, who is the director of The Intimacy Institute in Colorado tells us:

“Feeling jealous at some point is totally normal because it’s a Band-Aid emotion, so to speak. Everyone experiences two core emotional fears — a fear of not being good enough or a fear of being left out. We all have at least a little degree of one of those two issues — we’re basically wired that way.”

So, we learn that jealousy is a normal emotion to experience in our relationships from time to time. Though, when faced with a trusted friend who vies for your man’s attention each time that she’s in his presence, the blow can do a double-time on your psyche.

Here’s what she looks like and how to handle it.


A Woman’s Toolbox = Feminine Sexuality

Whether she admits it not, just about every woman eventually realizes her one powerful advantage over a man is her sexuality. We learn how to work our assets to attract male attention, and we just as fast acquire the skillsets to play on a man’s sexual desire, if we want to go there. Truthfully speaking, women have been groomed to behave this way to win male attention over her sisters from the get-go.

It’s just how it is.

And this innate sense of knowledge is true for a woman irrespective of whether or not she permits herself to use her sexually-alluring feminine virtues in a persuasive manner.

According to an article published by Science of the People, “men are more attracted to a woman who engages in flirtation behavior to show she is available versus the best-looking woman in the room.”

All good. Flirting is a natural part of the mating game. It’s just that some women are more comfortable exploiting and using their sexuality to manipulate men than others, and, unfortunately, some women possess no boundaries when it comes to who’s man they are flirting with — friendships be damned.

The Flirty Friend

You can be flirty. I can be flirty. Depending on who’s doing the flirting, it can be quite fun and definitely arousing. But I most definitely have never crossed the “flirty” line with a girlfriend’s man. That has never been my style.

Personally, when it comes to flirting, I much prefer to playfully tease a man on an intellectual level rather than bat my lashes and push my boobs in his face like a brainless ditz. There is just something about a man who can use his intellect to stimulate. It’s like the ultimate foreplay to foreplay, if you know what I mean.

Hmm… back to the flirty friend.

I used to know the woman in the opening paragraph around the same time that I met my now husband. She was a shocker around men. It didn’t matter who he “belonged” to — if he was male and within her proximity, he was an open game.

Shocking, huh?

My friend had no qualms about shamelessly flirting with my husband each time she was around us. I’m talking full-ball performance here — from showing up wearing revealing clothes to the coy smiles to the accidently-on-purpose pawing all over him to the relentless playful banter.

It was draining just watching her.

Naturally, he reacted accordingly. She was a gorgeous woman and, well, it’s hard to find a hotblooded heterosexual man in this world who doesn’t respond in some fashion to the attention of an attractive lady.

It’s an ego thing.

Makes him feel connected to his “sexual-conqueror self” and all that masculinity stuff, reminding him that he’s still got what it takes to capture the interest and hook attractive women.

Enough said about that.

I’m not sure if my friend behaved like a hussy due to some kind of buried childhood scarring. You know, like “daddy” issues or fear of abandonment and whatnot. Honestly, I didn’t care. I’m not the type to pin the blame of adult behavior on childhood trauma, and especially not when it comes to matters of the heart.

We all have a past that we must work on if we’re going to get the most out of this life. And most adults know the difference between good and bad behavior within our friendships, too.

Chris Rock is a funny guy. I remembering hearing the below quote and laughing because it was so true when he said:

When a guy introduces his boy to his new girlfriend, when they walk away, his boy goes, ‘Aww man, she’s nice, I gotta get me a girl like that.’ When a woman introduces her new man to her girlfriend, after they walk away, her girlfriend goes, ‘I gotta have THAT guy.’”

It just goes to show that a woman can be downright determined when she fancies a man. Even more so when she falls in love with him. Let’s not explore that scenario right now.

Handling the Flirty Friend

At first, I tried very hard to be the “better” person in the above-mentioned situation. I didn’t want to let my friend’s extreme flirtatiousness affect me. Even though she possessed some lovely qualities — she was fun, upbeat, kind and interesting — I knew deep down that what she was doing was pretty rotten.

It doesn’t matter much you focus on the positive qualities of some people, or how far you strive to be that “better” person, at the end of the day it comes down to what you are willing to accept as a part of your life experience.

The entire situation eventually snowballed when she showed up at my doorstep eager to impart saucy titbits craftily concocted by her fascination. That was when her devious mindset had worn down its final thread — The cunning tongue, rear door insinuations and sly attempted take-downs …. the way she seemed to have no regard for my feelings.

No thanks.

So, I handled it. I cut her from my life and never looked back.

Game over.

Sometimes, the anecdote to poison ivy is having the guts to suck out the venom and walk away. Because life is too fleeting and precious to waste on the weeds.


Also published by Living Out Loud on Medium

Standard
life, Love and Connection, mindset, relationships, Romance

Relationship Power-Struggles? It May be Time to Surrender to Love

Let’s talk about love connection, baby.


“Surrender isn’t about being passive. It’s about being open.”

— Danielle LaPorte

Remember when you used to play that game of tug-of-war as a kid? You willingly chose to place yourself in a situation where two people or factions fought to keep or obtain the same thing. Love can often feel like a game of tug-of-war. It’s that push-pull dynamic between a couple that usually causes more harm than good. But tug-of-war only works if both sides pull on the rope and struggle fiercely — if one side let’s go of the rope, it’s game over — there is no longer a tug-of-war.

The same rule applies to the game of love.

The inevitable moment will come when every couple engages in some kind of power struggle. We go from completely giving ourselves over to a new lover at the beginning of a relationship, to the sometimes-messy task of establishing a sense of equilibrium and balance.

Kind of like an emotional game of tug-of-war.

I was super young when I fell for the guy who eventually became my first husband. At the time, it wasn’t long before I was head-over-heels in love with him, spending every free moment together between the long hours working as an apprentice in a hair salon.

He didn’t hide the fact that he was utterly captivated by me, showing his adoration through attentiveness, surprising me with gifts and often talking about the future. He came across as thoughtful, gentle and kind, and he declared his love for me quite early on in the relationship.

It was the famous “honeymoon” phase in the love-game that precedes the power-struggle stage of a union.

Actually, this “balancing” phase of a relationship is necessary and important. Not only is this period the part when you get to fully work out your lover’s true intentions and motivations for the future of the relationship, but the push-pull dynamic is where you will truly find love’s foundations — the stability and security within the relationship that allows you to establish trust with your heart enough to carry it forward. Then, you can get back to your normal life after surviving the sexy love-storm (well, somewhat).

Not to mention that you might even discover a surprise or two about your lover during this stage. Like those personality quirks you didn’t realize existed until now . . .

Hmm . . . Why the hell does he flush the toilet 2/3 of the way through peeing so that there is still a little bit of pee left in the loo after it’s done flushing?

Such is the mystery of love (and men), but let’s talk about . . .

Love Games

Author of The Love Gap, Jenna Birch knows that power-struggles in relationships can take on different forms: “Sometimes, they come from the place of believing you’re right and your partner’s wrong, and you both should get your way entirely — because it’s ‘the best way’”.

You knowthe best way isn’t always the right way. Besides that, someone wise once said that “two wrongs don’t make a right”, right?

We all know it even when we pretend that we don’t.

As with every situation, we find ourselves in life recognizing when you are in midst of the power-struggle phase is the first step toward gaining clarity and resolution over said dynamic — provided that you’re both reasonable adults, of course.

The blame-game sucks, yes?

Agreed.

So, if you aren’t prepared, this rocky little path can fast lead toward ridiculous accusations, dumbass denial and multi-rounds of that dreadful blame-game.

I love you, for sure.

He said.

The dynamic usually reveals itself as the intrinsic need to self-affirm and assert oneself on the many levels encompassing the relationship. It can even eventuate as a long-term love/hate power-trip game if we’re not careful.

I’m sure you know how it goes — a certain whiff of self-centeredness rears its ugly head and suddenly, you’re going loggerheads with your beloved.

If you aren’t ready for and aware of it, accusations bordering on ludicrous may fly like doves on speed in both directions.

How it plays out is determined by the maturity of the couple. That, and how much each person has opened themselves to the relationship at the height of the “love-bubble” period.

Red Flags

If both people have the proper emotional tools at hand, this emotional war for power doesn’t have to be too draining — but “emotional tools” equate to a certain level of emotional maturity.

That doesn’t mean you or your partner have all the answers, but it does mean that you both have the skill-set to keep your cool when things become stormy, and that’s important in love.

Personally, I think that this “power-struggle” period of a relationship is the perfect time to flush out and recognize any “red flags” about your partner’s behavior and personality that you may have missed during the initial love-drunk stage.

Toxic and controlling behavior like treating you like a child, unpredictable outbursts, lecturing, blame and trivializing your feelings.

For instance, looking back at this period of time with my first husband, I can clearly point out those above-mentioned traits as well as his need to monitor my every move, treat me to unbearably long lectures and show his ever-growing jealousy.

I just wish that I had the sense of personal power and wisdom to follow my intuition at the time. As it was, I went ahead and married him despite the red flags.

More from Birch:

“Usually, relationships work best when someone takes the lead and the other person is more flexible or fluid.”

In other words, to truly love is to participate in a generous slice of give and take backed up with the ability to compromise and demonstrate the patience, empathy and tolerance that is required to successfully navigate the power-play stage — these rich human characteristics are a part of what it means to love with compassion, and all without slapping conditions and blame on your lover.

Birch says that if you want to overcome the power-struggle, “it’s important to recognize when it’s best to push and pull back”.

That way, your turn to have your way and say will come.

The real secret to winning the love game is how far you’re willing to surrender to love, not your lover.

Surrender to Love

Surrendering to love doesn’t mean that you give up your power and become someone’s doormat, or even placing yourself at the mercy of your lover’s whims.

What I am suggesting is that you take the philosophy that empowers you and enhances your own inner-connectedness — to yourself and your lover — the high road on the journey of love.

No one ever really wins at a power-struggle. There are only losers of the heart.

Every harsh word. Each accusation. Every single act of rage, gaslighting, emotional blackmail or punishment — all of those interactions contribute to slowly corroding the quality of your relationship and stripping the connection of trust over time.

Love is more worthy. You are more worthy.

You’ve got to remember that you always have a choice about how you respond to your lover and how you perceive any given situation, no matter how intense and emotional things become between you — you have a choice.

My ex-husband possessed neither the emotional tools nor mindset to overcome his toxic, argumentative ways of being in the world, never searching inside of himself to become a better person, father and husband. This is a man who took no responsibility for the hurt and pain he caused others. Nor did he make an effort to control his emotional agitation or even try to understand me — who I was or the way I saw the world.

That’s the complete opposite of surrendering to love.

It was a choice that limited him, broke our relationship and damaged the actual process of love. Love cannot be manipulated like a puppeteer.

Love cannot be shackled to a kitchen sink and controlled with brute force or intimidation, either.

Surrendering to love means both people commit to the process of loving, regardless of the circumstances. It means honor between souls enough to cherish the quality of the connection while choosing to deepen the bonds through seeking out the most valuable gifts in each other.

It means allowing love to thrive in its natural state — being who you are and accepting and relishing those differences, believing in each other, and choosing to love to a higher beat than ever before.

Surrendering to love is one of the greatest secrets of the meaning of life because the way and the degree in which you choose to love is what will reflect back into and enrich your personal experiences — it is the selfless act of giving and opening yourself to the wonders of your heart-space — the place where amazing bits of you awaits your personal discovery within your lover’s heart and soul.

Beautify your life journey through deeper connection. Surrender to love.


This article was originally published by P.S I Love You on Medium

Standard
life, writing

My Words Dried Up

by Catherine Evans


I’m just starting to find them again


Towards the end of 2019, my words stopped.

I had no words to express myself, my thoughts and feelings, about what was happening in Australia — bushfires, destruction, loss.

I still don’t have words to express that, or for the global pandemic that happened next. Nor for the chaos around the world, the illumination of broken of systems, and everything that is happening.

At the beginning, I panicked. A writer without words is pretty damn useless.

I took photos of nature while I turned inward, searching for what was blocking my words. Was I not voicing something? Was I not in touch with myself? Was there a fear of publishing? Some other fear? What was wrong with me?

As the year progressed, and words remained elusive, I thought about my learning style. When I do a writing course, I learn so much that I have to stop writing until I can process all the knowledge. It’s weird, but it’s how I work.

Living in tumultuous times is a form of learning. I’m constantly analyzing what I’m seeing, hearing, and learning. What’s causing this? What do I need to do now? How can I do better? What does this mean? These questions aren’t too dissimilar to what I ask myself when I’m learning new skills for writing.

My struggle to process, understand, adjust, and change, has left me with little energy to produce words. I’m still trying to understand what is happening — there’s no way I can produce words.


How did I manage?

A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to ‘go with the flow’. If words weren’t flowing, I needed to honor myself and spend the time doing something else.

I took the year off. After a time, I even stopped berating myself for my ‘failing’.

As 2020 inched towards a close, my fingers began to itch and my brain began to find a word or two. Nothing substantial, let me assure you, but a word, then a thought. Ideas started to pop into my mind. Characters left a snippet of a conversation behind.

I became ridiculously excited and planned writing, books, going back to what I was doing before.

Ha! Life. I think it may have other plans for me.

I got 5000 words into a planned 60, 000 word story…and it’s rubbish. Usually I can get much further before I decide that, then push on because I know it’s my fear talking. This time, I don’t think it’s fear. Not that I really know.

I suspect I’ve changed. If I’ve changed, then my writing will need to change because it’s such a strong part of me.

The problem with that is that I’m not yet sure how I’ve changed and what that means for my writing — and that’s more than a bit frustrating!


Now what?

Which brings me here, today, where I have a few words…but I’m not sure what they say, where they fit, what they mean, or why I’m writing them.

However, maybe there are others who’ve lost their words too. If so, you’re not alone.

If not, then I’m alone, and that’s okay because I’m still working things out. I do that best alone.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium


About Catherine Evans

From Medium: Catherine Evans is an Australian, writer and creator. Inspired by nature and living. Weird thoughts are entirely my own, and I know they’re often not like other people’s!

Browse Catherine Evans at her Website.


Standard
Be inspired, life, mindset, People

The 8 Natural Qualities of Exceptionally Cool People

Cool isn’t just what you say, it’s what you do.


 Austin Powers. For some reason, the prolific 1960s spy who was unfrozen and thrust into an array of new assignments in a confusing ’90s world, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of someone exceptionally cool — “Yeah, baby?”

Okay, so the main selling point of the film series was clearly imbued with the joyous sexism reminiscent of early Bond flicks, but no one can deny that the always-up-for a-good-time, lusting for life and love Austin Powers, was exceptionally cool in his own right.

Love him or hate him, Austin Powers is remarkably unique.

Have you ever observed someone and thought: “Whoa! That dude is so cool. I want to be like that.”

It is never because of what there are wearing, what they do for a living or what they own. It is because there is something about them that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Something you admire.

That’s how all exceptionally cool people are. Their way of being in the world — how they think, what they choose to do, and how they talk and move — is all part of their wildly different identity that draws others toward them.

If you’re anything like me, you may wonder how they got to be so damn cool. Is there a secret to being less-than-ordinary? Were these people just born with a magnetic personality?

Thankfully, we don’t have to be a shagadelic imitation of Austin Powers to be cool. That is because there is no one secret formula that separates what we call exceptionally cool people from the rest of us — it boils down to what and who they are, along with certain qualities that come naturally to them.

And it is something we can all easily learn and effectively reproduce in our own lives.


1. Cool is Friendliness

Sometimes it can feel as if the world is full of rude, ill-mannered and inconsiderate people.

That is very uncool.

The thing about the people we consider to be cool is that we appreciate them for their caring nature and willingness to treat others in the way they would like to be treated.

They will give you their undivided attention and you can sense their genuine interest in you. These kinds of people know that a friendly attitude makes a positive impact not only at an interpersonal level, but to the world as a whole.

Kindness creates a ripple-effect.

I don’t need to tell you that kind-hearted and friendly people attract more of the same into their lives, and that makes us want to spend more time getting to know them.

Applying the Friendliness Quality

Being kind and friendly makes you feel good about yourself — happier. Make an active choice to qualify any negative feelings with something that feels better.

All of us can take the initial move towards potential friendly behavior with others. We can all make a difference.

2. Cool is Confidence

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” — Nelson Mandala

To be clear, when I speak of confidence, I’m not talking about blind arrogance here — that’s another category altogether.

However, I am touching on the type of self-confidence and self-belief that is needed to have faith in your skills and creativity — the kind that helps you keep striving to realize your life goals and dreams.

Pretty cool.

Yes, cool people have their low days and self-doubts like everyone else, but they also have the ability to overcome the fear of the unknown, set their personal-bar high and follow through with the courage to start new things.

They are the type who continue to test their limits and skills, while forming new ideas in their quest to manifest their greatest desires. Even when those around them are still pondering how to get started.

We naturally admire these people.

Applying the Confidence Quality

Try not to confuse confidence with ego. Rarely does one equal the other. Believing in yourself is what allows you to rise up and reach your potential. Realize that self-belief has a cause-and-effect motion, exactly as Nelson Mandala said in the above-mentioned quote.

That is positive power imbued in exceptionally cool confidence.

3. Cool is Philosophy

Every exceptionally cool thought leader is a forward-thinking rebel by nature. These individuals don’t much care about authority and are fast to question the ideal moral framework with regards to traditionalism, “right human conduct” and conformity.

Austin Powers provides a groovy example of a revolutionary mindset:

“If we had known the consequences of our sexual liberation, we would’ve done things much differently, but the spirit would remain the same. It’s freedom baby.”

Those with a sense of inner-freedom are the type who naturally live their life knowing the truth of John Allen Paulos’s popular observation about life:

“The only certainty in life is uncertainty”

Very cool people are open-minded with a focus on what matters most to them — their quality, freedom and vision for life, regardless of what others think of them.

Applying the Philosophy-Quality

I’m not suggesting that you need to break the law, wave your protesting-pitchforks at the next “extremists” rally or host psychedelic orgies to be cool.

But do try to make the time for introspection — stretch your awareness to encompass self; go deep and ask the important questions — about yourself, the world and your life purpose.

Analyze stale societal conventions that may be holding you back.

You see, opening your mind to new ideas is what creates positive change, improved thought-patterns and ways of being. Philosophy in a nutshell.

4. Cool is Inspiration

Just by being who you are.

A quality many cool people demonstrate is the innate love to evoke inspiration as much as they are motivated by the inspirational qualities in others. They give and take in mutual balance as they willingly share what they know minus the airs and graces.

That is, without being condescending or expecting something in return.

I also think that cool people strive to bring out the best in you by showing trust in your potential and lending you words of encouragement. It just feels uplifting to be around someone like that; as if you don’t need to worry about being judged, scorned or undervalued, even when you mess up.

But the best thing about cool people is that they walk-the-talk — fully backing up their words with actions, showing you what you mean to them.

Real life cool people know the power in showing up for others.

We can all do that.

Applying the Inspiration Quality

Don’t do things for people and always expect the favor returned. Try not to say things you don’t mean or make promises you cannot keep.

Short and sweet — keep it real. That’s inspirational.

5. Cool is Desirable

We all want to feel seen, known, and cherished by others.

Right? It’s the feeling that drives us towards attaining love, intimacy and connection in our lives.

Attraction is the energy emanating from within that draws people closer to us. It creates desire, intrigue, and deeper connections in relationships.

What is often misunderstood about desire and attraction is the fact that it has very little to do with your outwardly appearance and everything to do with how you feel about yourself.

Attraction happens from the inside out.

One of the coolest guys I know dated my girlfriend for a number of years. He wasn’t overly attractive but he was smart with a voracious, magnetic personality, and he was funny as hell.

Humor is very cool. You know this.

Anyway, just being around my friend’s fella somehow switched my energy meter to high, and that made him a desirable person to hang out with.

Cool people are less likely to spend time trying to create an appearance that fits a particular aesthetic and more time cultivating an inner connection to who they are.

Applying the Desirable Quality

First, you must realize and internalize that desirability is not about what you wear but how you wear it, and it’s definitely not about what you do but how you do it.

Feeling like an attractive human being is about cultivating an inner-connection to who you are and standing strong within yourself as that person.

Appreciate and love who you are.

Self-love and self-care are key factors because when you feel good about yourself, others will find those same qualities highly appealing. And it’s desirable.

6. Cool is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, express and control your emotions, and it is a very cool quality in a person.

Whether expressing honest feelings or dealing with a blow-up of some sort, it takes a certain level of intellectual capacity and self-awareness to remain “together” during the hard times.

Think about the people you consider to be cool. I bet you seldom see them acting out with anger, or slicing and dicing someone with harsh words when things don’t go their way.

Cool people keep their cool.

They understand the significance of staying under control when circumstances force them to burn out. They also realize their irrational response will achieve nothing other than to worsen the situation.

They work at dealing with problems by focusing on solutions, rather than losing their cool. And they make sure you know that you are important to them, regardless of the circumstances.

Applying Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is mindfulness-in-action — it’s the ability to empathize, communicate effectively and defuse conflict.

Be conscious of your inner-world and immediate responses by practicing mindfulness through meditation, yoga, breathing exercises; and paying attention to the moment, your body and your feelings.

7. Cool is the Language of Love

What sets exceptionally cool people apart from everyone else is that they see the good in others and don’t withhold expressing their love to the people they care about.

It touches our hearts so deeply to feel the truth and honesty of love.

Somehow, cool people are able to effortlessly touch you in the most meaningful and unexpected ways with their deepest truths, acts of humility and humble hearts. They are the type of people who show you beauty where you previously saw none, as well as restoring your faith where you most need it.

That’s what cool people do — they remind us to believe that we too are worthy of great love, beauty and kindness.

Applying the Language of Love

Truly exposing yourself to the language of love can be scary because you must allow yourself to become vulnerable. I totally get that.

However difficult it may seem, you have got to remember that love is worth every bit of putting yourself out there, as that’s what creates deeper connection and intimacy in your life experiences.

Exposing ourselves to great love and vulnerability takes courage — take a deep breath and dip your toes in a little at a time. Trust your intuition. Celebrate your ability to sense and experience love deeply in this lifetime.

That’s what makes you beautifully human.

8. Cool is Being Your Authentic Self

It may very well be impossible to always operate from your authentic self, but it is entirely possible to become aware of and connect with your authenticity. It is making the choice to merge with that immaculate, hidden part of yourself once again; learning who you really are and how to be true to that person.

Cool people know the value in authenticity and keep up the inner-work to be able to identify when their behavior or actions don’t align with their authentic nature. They realize that to experience a meaningful life is to fully embrace who they are, holding their inner-sanctuary in a place of love and forgiveness, along with the important people in their lives.

Exceptionally cool people empower others with their presence. They have a knack for making you feel cool, too, just by being around them.

Applying the Authentic Quality

To find your authentic self, you’ve got to dig beneath the layers of borrowed thought processes and learned behavior, social conditioning and expectations; as well as needless education and unnecessary moral policing.

Qualify every aspect of your life by honoring who you are. Accept, connect and strengthen how you choose to love yourself and others.

Being authentic takes real practice and effort, though it’s an important aspect of your humanity worth striving for.

Friendliness, confidence, philosophy, inspirational, desirable, emotional intelligence, love and authenticity, are all shared qualities that come naturally to exceptionally cool people.

But they won’t tell you that they are essentially good people. They won’t need to — their actions will speak loud and clear.

Now, that’s exceptionally cool.

Yeah, baby!


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

Standard
Humor, life, mindset, sexuality, Women

How to Be Effortlessly Cool

Ode to the women who make it look easy

by Jennifer M. Wilson


This is a total bait and switch title. Did you think I was going to teach you how to be “effortlessly cool”? Hell no! I have no fucking clue how to be hip! Do cool people still say “hip”? 

I wish I were the type of woman who woke up, tossed on a vintage Ramones t-shirt (I don’t think I’ve ever even heard a song by them, that’s how uncool I am), some ripped skinny jeans and…crap I don’t know what shoes would go with that outfit without looking like I tried too hard.

I want to be the woman who just looks cool and fashionable without even trying. When the outfit looks flawless, everything seems to come together.


How do you define those women who look fabulous no matter what they wear? It’s like their clothes are a tribute to their essence and their soul. A woman who looks spectacular in a business suit might look ridiculous in the same summer romper worn perfectly on another.

For me to look good, it takes effort. I can look fantastic in that business suit too, but it won’t feel comfortable on me; it’ll feel like a costume. When I wear my “standard uniform” of skinny jeans and a weird t-shirt (usually made myself because I’m a crafting nerd with a Cricut), I don’t look “effortlessly chic”. I look homeless.

So if wearing what is comfortable doesn’t inherently make a person stylish, but dressing up doesn’t make them fashionable either…what is the special sauce for those that make it look so easy and perfect?


High school is one place you never want to stand out. At least, that was the case in the 1990s. This was the era of In Living Color, when J Lo was an unknown backup dancer. Baggy oversized sweatshirts. Overalls. Air Jordans. One girl in my school followed the beat of her own drum.

I jumped to my yearbook to remember her name. I’m looking through mobs of grainy black and white pictures (my GOD kids today are lucky Photoshop exists), figuring I probably wouldn’t recognize her. Nope. BOOM. Her gorgeous smile and bouncy blond curls popped out of the page.

Her name was Sarah.

She wore hippie-style outfits. Lots of peace signs and cartoon-y flowers. Nothing like our faux hip hop clothes. In our final year of high school, she decided she wouldn’t shave her legs. Did I mention that we had a Best Legs Competition? (yeah, that’s a little inappropriate in hindsight)

Of course, Sarah won. She had legs for miles and could pull off crazy knee-high socks with bright patterns.

Anyone else straying from the teen norm and growing leg hair would be a high school pariah. Not Sarah. She didn’t give a shit. She wore shorts and skirts. It wasn’t attention-seeking; she simply didn’t care. The rest of us girls were awestruck.

Is that the definition of being “effortlessly chic”?

I would look like a clown in Sarah’s outfits. But on her, it was like she walked out of an Abercrombie for Hippies catalog. Is the key that it’s something that feels natural to who you are? Not “comfortable” like my lazy jeans and t-shirt look. But “natural”, like comfortable to the wearer but spiced up a bit.

That might be the secret.


Purging her closet to embrace minimalism, a friend of mine gave me a bag full of clothes. She works in the entertainment industry so I trust her taste in fashion better than I do my own.

While there were things I didn’t keep, I held onto a fitted orange corduroy blazer. It sounds hideous, right? I kept it for years when one day, while heading out the door wearing the usual jeans and t-shirt uniform, I grabbed it on a whim. Surprisingly, it fit me perfectly. This jacket fits as if tailored custom for me.

As I walked around work that day, I received dozens of compliments on the jacket. Even a few male employees risked HR suspension by saying, “Wow…that color on you…you look great!” and “You look really good today.”

Had I unknowingly mastered “effortlessly chic” without knowing it?


Perhaps I’ve cracked the code: The key to looking effortlessly chic isn’t wearing comfortable clothes. It isn’t wearing clothes that are too dressed up for your style. It’s the intersection of your go-to outfits with pieces outside of your typical comfort zone. Not so much that you feel self-conscious; just enough to feel like you mixed it up a little outside of your norm.

What that in mind, scroll up to the picture at the top. Unsplash Photo Woman may be used to leather and high boots, but maybe wearing animal print isn’t her jam — Boom.

Effortlessly chic. Nailed it.


About Jennifer M. Wilson

From Medium: My midlife crisis and adventures along the way. I write because in real life my humor is allegedly too sarcastic and inappropriate.

Read more of Jennifer’s work on Medium: NinjaGirl@gmail.com


This post was also published by Living Out Loud on Medium.

Standard
Creativity, life, mindset, Newsletter, writing

New Year Energy Revolution

Who and how do you want to be in the world now?


You’ve felt the universal lull lately. The void. In past months, you’ve succumbed to a sense of nothingness. Captured in a loop of indecisiveness. Loneliness or abandonment.

It is as if we’ve all been suspended in vain, waiting for the slightest sign… a shift…. an omen. Waiting to realize the healing secrets of the moon, illuminating a new path.

Haven’t we all been waiting for change?

Transformation is now

Planetary trends and universal energy point towards a new landscape for 2021 and beyond, suggesting new vibrations and energetic frequencies. Meaning great potential and opportunity for a whole new life experience.

“Riding on the crest of a grand conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, the atmosphere is high minded, hopeful and inspired.”

 Astrologist Belinda Dunn

The 2021 energy-revolution is an artisan time of huge creativity, harmonious collaborations and deep inner-trust, as we die to old ways of being, shed our stale skins and societal imprints to embrace the new and improved.

It is now time to stretch our wings in freedom to make choices from within about who we are, what we want, and whom we want to be with.

Saint Germain said:

“There is nothing that comes into the physical form which is not first perfected on the invisible or higher planes.”

In other words, how you perceive the world needs to be seeded from the inside. That’s what gives rise to a new sense of self and manifestation.

The January 2021 Revolution is about releasing old structures and mindsets that no longer serve us and allowing ourselves to go to the next level; thinking of what and who is most important to us and bringing in something new, better…. evolved.

Let’s celebrate harmonious collaborations, energetic revolutions and co-creation together.

This month, Living Out Loud invites writers to share our deepest dreams and strangest musings. Let us create, see, trust and support each other, and let us get a little wild.


Dear Writer,

Who do you want to be now? How do you want to affect the world? And who do you most want to share your life with during these transformative times?

Julia E Hubbel ♥ Gerthy Bingoly ♥ Catherine Evans ♥ Jennifer M. Wilson
Wistful writer ♥ Genius Turner ♥ Kate Mackay ♥ Harley Christensen
David Gerken ♥ Kevin Horton ♥ Kevin Ervin Kelley, AIA ♥ Kate Conradie
Cynthia Webb ♥ Elna Cain ♥ Deeksha Agrawal ♥ Rosie Wylor-Owen
Christopher Wills ♥ Clarrisa Lee ♥ George Frey ♥ Matt Lillywhite
Beth Prentice ♥ Kaia Maeve Tingley ♥ Em Hoccane ♥ Ana Ryan
Kara Summers ♥ Michael Grimes ♥ Anna Foga
Albert Heemeijer — Author at Balboa / HayHouse ♥ Surbhi Tak
Ellen McRae ♥ Anna & Ryan ♥ HKB ♥ Amanda Clark-Rudolph

Love & 2021 Revolution,

Kim, Harley & Lexi

#RealLifeNow

P.S. A HUGE shout out to our wonderful writers who have contributed their stories to our little publication this past month. It’s an honor to share your work with the world.


Latest Stories…

Love and Relationships

#LovingOutLoud #Passion #love

Overcoming a Relationship with a Narcissist by Kara Summers

Loose Boundaries and Parking Problems by Melissa Rhoads

If We Meet and You Don’t Look Like Your Pics, You’re Buying the Drinks Until You Do by Julia E Hubbel

Why Couldn’t He Be Real? by Kara Summers

Narcissists Don’t Have Kids — They “Make Babies” by Kara Summers

The Narcissist’s Cat by Kara Summers

“Can You Talk?” by Melissa Rhoades


Real Life Now

#LivingOutLoud

The Promise of Powerful Money Charms by Kim Petersen

How Have You Changed in 2020? by Jennifer M. Wilson

Walking Away From Negative Relationships by Michael Grimes

I’m Going BALD! by Julia E Hubbel

The Top Movie I Watched All Through 2020 by Julia E Hubbel

Wearing Make-Up: An Ongoing Battle With Society by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Humans and Humanity by Catherine Evans

Humans and Animals by Catherine Evans

The 8 Natural Qualities of Exceptionally Cool People by Kim Petersen

How The Four Happy Hormones Can Help Replenish Your Vitality by Gerthy Bingoly

Unearned Cheap Thrills are for Amateurs. by Julia E Hubbel


Creativity

#CreativeLocomotion #Poetry #fiction

My Guiding Light by Gerthy Bingoly

Where The Green Grass Grows by A.j Thomas

Helping Other Writers by Catherine Evans

Not Just a Writer by Catherine Evans

My Words Dried Up by Catherine Evans

The Perfection of Breathing by Catherine Evans

Writing Events and Conferences by Catherine Evans


Published at Living Out Loud on Medium

Standard
life, Love and Connection, relationships

Is There Ever a Time to Deny Love?

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.


“What does love mean if we would deny it to others?”

― DaShanne Stokes

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I’d probably said those words to Jeff more times than Googolplex. He’d told me that his soul belonged to her and that was how much he loved her. Though I wasn’t necessarily hitting on the depth of his love for the woman who wasn’t his wife — I knew how much he was suffering. Rather, I couldn’t fathom how he could deny such a love-connection.

He palmed his hair and shrugged. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

“What? Deny real love?”

The look on his face was enough to wrench my heart clean from my chest. Glycerine by Bush filled in the silence. He’d often ask why I loved deep music. I told him it was because it stirred my soul in ways I couldn’t always articulate.

“I’ll never forget where you’re at.”

His soul was stirring like a brewing storm and it had nothing to do with the music.

“It’s not right…” He looked away. “Besides, I pushed her away so far that she would never want me, anyway.”

“You don’t know that.”

We’d stolen a few moments away from the others, escaping to my front porch, rocking on a swinging garden chair. A balmy evening, sipping on beer and chilling with friends. The cicadas whistled a song of their own.

What do you say to someone whose heart bleeds for love denied?

I’m not sure. But I’m a woman who believes that the heart can’t lie. Doesn’t matter what kind of logic we try to feed ourselves about it or how much we live a lie in order to cover the deep truths buried in our hearts — your heart will always lead you toward real love and your soul will always seek to find deeper meaning through stronger connections.

Maybe it is meant to be that way. Maybe we are supposed to experience love in different forms and with different people, and that “till death do us part” isn’t always in tune with human evolvement, spiritual advancement and personal growth.

Then again, Jeff seems to think that denying himself the love of his life is the right thing to do. But for who exactly?

It’s a pretty sticky situation, but I doubt that his wife and kids will get the best of him now that his soul has found another who feels true to him.

I’ve seen what happens when real love is denied for the sake of … hmm … let’s see — Marriage. Children. Combined assets and familial expectations. Contrasting beliefs and safe comfort zones.

Name one or all of the above. Makes no difference.

What’s in the heart is in the heart and no matter the circumstances, once love has ignited, it isn’t as easy as “blowing out” a flame or sticking your head in the sand to make it all go away.

I wish it were for Jeff’s sake and the woman who lives on the opposite side of the planet who had stolen his heart. She was hurting, too. They were never “together” in the physical sense, but I’d never witnessed a connection so strong; so resilient and pure. It was as if whatever was between them had a soul of its own, entwining them together on the higher planes and creating invisible love-patterns.

Something like that, anyway.

Jeff was in all kinds of torment. None of which he could speak of openly, let alone release himself from the pain that had become a constant in his life. It had been two years since he’d spoken to her.

Two years of silent hell.

“I have no choice,” said Jeff. “I love her but can’t afford to go there…”

I’m calling out BS on that one. Sorry, Jeff. We always have a choice.

Always.

The thing is that when we encounter something like this in our lives, our minds become so clouded with the “what if’s” — we are plagued with so many questions and fears that we wind up feeling blind and confused.

It is common for many of us to develop anxiety and lose sleep over decisions with such high stakes.

Jeff’s choice to deny his feelings afforded him something alright, and it was far from the happiness that could have been his had he chosen to have faith and trust in real love — had he taken the rare gift offered by the universe and followed his heart.

Now, I see a man who has been “killed alive” living a mediocre life between bouts of happiness burrowed from time with his kids, creative passions and his work. He loves his wife, but deep down, he knows that that love can’t begin to scratch the surface of the love between him and his surprise-lady.

I can only imagine what she had endured.

Denying Love

Jeff isn’t the same person as he was before meeting her. He used to be more upbeat and at ease with himself and his lot in life. He used to be happy.

This is what can happen when you deny love:

  • Pain and depression
  • Repeated attempts to rationalize your feelings
  • Obsessing about said feelings
  • Constantly looking for hints, clues and generally overthinking simple acts (which drives you crazy)
  • Frustration towards yourself for having the unwanted feelings
  • Resentment directed at the universe for revealing the most amazing person who feels unreachable
  • Resentment directed at your beloved for simply showing up and thus, throwing an unexpected spanner in the works
  • Stressing over whether the feelings are reciprocated or not
  • Sleepless nights further overthinking the relationship
  • Dark nights of the soul where you wish for nothing but the end
  • Feelings of hopelessness about the situation and a future that now appears more ordinary than ever before

I was talking to another friend about love-denial, who is much wiser than myself. He knows stuff about sacred unions, energy and how people are generally wired to think in the world. He has had much life experience and is usually spot on with his observations.

“Can someone really do that?” I asked while pondering Jeff and his woman, who I knew shared real love yet remained unconnected. “Can someone really choose to spend the rest of their life denying real love?”

“Yes, people do it all the time.”

I don’t know about you, but the thought makes me sad.

It’s because I tend to feel as if a love-connection like the one I have witnessed Jeff experiencing shows up to create deeper love and connection in the world. For a reason; like a higher purpose beyond what we, as mere mortals, can truly understand or even appreciate.

Some types of love are too powerful not to be.

Moreover, I know from my own experiences that nothing worthwhile ever comes without taking a leap of faith, nor does it seldom present itself in life without obstacles to overcome.

That’s the test of real love — it requires more than just the average investment or one foot in and the other out. It demands honor, respect and a side of sacrifice between the two hearts in order to beat as one and create a deep connection.

As it is, it looks as if Jeff will spend the rest of his life fighting the feelings that he could never bring himself to fully realize, and I can’t think of anything more tragic when it comes to love.

“Don’t let the days go by.”

I imagine him at the end of his life and looking back at what he lost — the chance to experience the greater love that he allowed to slip through his hands.

I mourn for this vision and the life he could have known.

For anyone else experiencing a similar situation — That is, denying love, the best solution is to:

  • Identify the reason for the denial of feelings
  • Accept the feelings
  • Know that being true to yourself is key to living an authentic life
  • Take responsibility
  • Recognize that it’s okay to have feelings
  • Decide whether to reveal or let them go
  • Respect yourself, the person with whom you have said feelings for, and all others involved
  • Realize that real love is rare and life is not forever

“If I found a soul-connection as deep as the one you have discovered in her, I’d hold onto that and give it my all. It’s just too rare to pass up.”

I had to bite back the tears when Jeff’s face became stoic at hearing those words.

He is a much stronger person than me; he can go on and pretend that he never had a taste offered in the form of precious soul love. He can make out that love meant nothing. And considering his ability to deny real love, it probably never will.

Though, I can’t help but wonder which path demands more strength and backbone — denying real love or accepting your feelings and going for the extraordinary?

Taking a leap of faith in this fleeting life.

In the opening quote, DaShanne Stokes asks — “What does love mean if we would deny it to others?”

I think we just answered that question.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium.



Standard