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Addendum to Relationship Rules…

Hey Guys,

One thing I forgot to add, and I thought about just continuing the previous post but decided to write separately, is an observation I made a long time ago (in my 20’s) about how men and women view relationships at that stage and younger. IN GENERAL: Using the analogy of “time spent” as a bank account, it seems that men tend to look at relationships as a checking account; you  put time in and it is what it is; it comes and goes, and being in the same “zone” with a woman is OK. You don’t lose anything. It serves a purpose, which is to fill certain physical and emotional needs. Not to say it’s that calculated, but it just isn’t that big a deal.

On the other hand, it seems women tend to view relationships as more of a savings account; “time spent” is supposed to yield a return on investment–as in progressing toward certain life goals, like getting engaged then married, and when it doesn’t, it’s sometimes difficult to understand or accept.

Even as teenagers, casual flirting (holding hands, a kiss on the cheek, etc.) can have consequences so that girls end up in conflict and boys look bewildered as if they didn’t do anything wrong, which in their minds, they didn’t, because they don’t understand the process going on.

I could elaborate more, but that is the basic “construct” I wanted to throw out there.

What do you think? Have you witnessed, perpetuated or been a part of a reflection of this? When did you realize it and move beyond (if you have)?

 

 

 

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Relationship Rules

Since I’m new to this and I have no idea who might end up reading, I’ll tell you that I’ve been married for a while. We’ve been through our typical and not-so-typical ups and downs, but we’re still here. I know “relationship stuff” has been done about  1.658 millions of times….but I haven’t written about it. What I decided to cover, based on my marriage, other people’s marriages, and other relationships I have both been in and observed, is somewhere between 5-1o general principles to watch out for that, to varying degrees, tend to make or break relationship success. These are no particular order, and I am by no stretch of the imagination claiming to be either an expert or always successful at each of these.  You will also probably notice that many of them, just as with different areas of life, will tend to overlap.

OK, now that I have my disclaimers firmly in place, here they are (in no particular order, of course):

1) Relationships should be about making each other better, not (just) making each other happy: if each party is in it, as is too often the case, for how the other person makes them feel, they are bound to be sorely disappointed because, let’s face it, people aren’t always at their best….and they (we) do change (or don’t…more on this later). Plus, the reality is that we tend to send our “representatives” when we first get into relationships and the length of time it takes for the “real me” or “real you” to show up varies with each relationship and each individual. However, if two people really, truly want each other to be the best they can be, there’s room for growth.

2) It is, how do you saaaayyy—massively better if both parties have a life plan, know what it is, share it, and are honest about what they expect. Of course, this is not always realistic…but to whatever extent possible, it’s generally a good idea if you can get in sync on this ASAP. If one person aspires to own a 9-bedroom mansion complete with jacuzzi and pet tiger within 4 1/2 years and the other wants to be a gym teacher at an inner-city school for blind kids, that conversation needs to be had. Like yesterday.

3) Be friends. Respect, laugh, play fair, communicate –because the “passion” (read: lustful hormones) that feels like love, at first, will not be there at all times. Especially after kids.

4) Recognize that both of you are “works in progress.” Everyone has little things that need fixing, that don’t make sense to anyone else but them, but which make them who they are at that moment. I believe everyone is crazy to some extent–the only question, therefore, is “does my crazy work with your crazy?”

5) Be ready for change (especially men in relation to their women) –or be clear about what you want but don’t expect someone to be able to turn himself upside down (this relates more to women’s expectations of their men). I read in an e-mail a long time ago, one of those joints that had like 2,387 forwards in front of it, this one little gem that has proven to be more true than not: “Men get married expecting that women won’t change, and they do; women get married expecting that men will change, and they don’t.”

6) Women and men need to understand the variant communication styles we use and that there are bound to be mis-cues based on these inherent differences. BUT Men should probably realistically learn how to anticipate that women expect us to “read their minds” (as we tend to say) –this is unlikely to change after 200,000 years of human society. It makes them happy when we anticipate their needs and desires because it means we’re paying attention and we care, even if it feels to us somewhere between inconvenient and annoying or even frustrating as hell.

A relatively benign example of this: A few years ago, my wife and I were driving back from somewhere and she asked me “Are you sure you don’t want to go to Blockbuster on the way home?” Had she even mentioned making this side trip prior to that point? I really couldn’t recall. And since I was tired, my simple answer to the question that was actually posed was “yes.”  But…knowing what I know…I took the opportunity for a “teachable moment” and asked her to put “put that in Male.” She paused for a moment and then stated “Let’s go to Blockbuster before we go home.” Which we did…although I think I fell asleep during the movie. 

7) Keep your own interests–AND develop “that thing” (going to the movies, cooking on Sunday afternoon, bowling, salsa dancing every other Wednesday–whatever) you do together. Both are equally important.

8 )  Have a mutual spiritual foundation of some sort (this, if any of them, probably should be #1). Not going to go into detail…but it will be very necessary. Especially related to item #1, but affects everything.  

So there you have it. Not meant to be comprehensive at all, but a general guide. Please check in and discuss what works for you or what other thoughts you have.


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Limitations of Being “Self-Contained” and Lack of Planning

 From my childhood up until now, one thing I’ve always done is thought about a great many things outside of myself, albeit stuff that a lot of other people didn’t seem to care about; not through great effort, but my mind just tends to wrap itself around small details like a dragonfly perched on a windowsill, and grand questions like searching for the truth about the origins of the universe, wanting to know about the evolution of humanity…and so on.

What I haven’t been so great at is the daily machinations of the “here and now.” Part of my reason for doing this blog is to push myself, even semi-anonymously, to expose more of “me” than I am accustomed to doing. I am good at “skimming the surface” – showing people a face but not allowing much of what’s underneath to be revealed. As you can imagine, that doesn’t always make for a very active social life. I would say there are actually a very few people who really know me, and that’s not the fault of anyone but me.

This is not exactly a new epiphany; however, it got me wondering: how well do we really know each other? What makes me consider someone a true friend is the degree to which I can be myself—whoever that happens to be on a particular day (not in a Multiple Personality Disorder, “United States of Tara” kind of way, but a “I’m not always going to be in the mood you want me to be in” type of deal). I know some people who seemingly have about 507 ½ friends and I am at once impressed and horrified at the prospect of keeping up with that many folks. But I suspect part of that, if I’m being totally honest, is knowing that everyone is different and that, by our nature, we tend to be a slightly different person with each different individual, and I don’t know if I have that kind of energy.

On another note, I have seen this unwillingness to adjust as a person affect my career choices as well; being focused on my “Comfort zone” and, in some cases, avoiding responsilbity that would have taken me to a different level. As much as I have always considered myself a “good guy” I didn’t have what every man needs to make it a priority to have: a well-developed plan. I have always claimed that I wanted my life, my work, to make a difference—and, to varying degree, I think I have done that–but I didn’t really sit down and imagine or project the exact path I would take to continue to build a stable life for myself in totality. I have had a number of positions that all relate to each other and I have a wealth of experience; but financially and professionally, it hasn’t resulted in the upward trajectory I would suspect most people would be looking for at this same stage of their lives. Being a “good guy” –even being a “deep” person–is not enough to go beyond paying the bills and to start having the kind of day-to-day life I have belatedly allowed myself to imagine.

Is everyone else where they would like to be? What steps have you taken to make sure this has happened? What supports have you had that helped you along the way? Weigh in and give props to yourself—and those who have been on the path with you—or just talk about what steps you think you need to take to “get to the next level” (whatever that is); whether it’s social/personal or professional development. Be real.


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Clear Answers from the Creator

I’m not sure how many of you pray and/or meditate, but I can’t live without doing at least one, preferably both, virtually every day, even if it’s just for a minute when I wake up or first sit at my desk  or before I go to bed. It keeps me focused and when things are going good or not-so-good, I like to seek answers from beyond my own limited understanding of how to make things better.

To be honest, for some time I have been wrestling with some fundamental questions about my life and so I sat down this morning and asked God “What is my heart’s desire?” And I got a very clear answer, which is why I’m writing at this very moment: it seems like something I should share, because that doesn’t happen every day.

(A little background: my biggest fear, that I’m aware of, is not being wanted. You might be saying to yourself “Why would you tell that to a bunch of complete strangers?” The simple answer is that the best way for me, or perhaps anyone, to not let my fears control me is to expose them in order to  take away their power. There is an old proverb I am fond of, which essentially states “he who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.”)

Anyway, as it turns out, the anwer to my question was–is–basically the opposite of my deepest fear: To be understood, appreciated, accepted; to be peaceful and powerful.

In my case, powerful doesn’t mean the ability to make someone disappear or to have thousands of people’s lives hang in the balance at my every whim or decision. For me, power means to control my own destiny, and perhaps even moreso, to realize my full divinely-given and inspired potential so that I can create positive change for myself and those around me.

I was told to Understand Him, Appreciate Him, Accept Him, Be Peaceful in Him, Be Powerful in his being everlasting, Be Confident in His ability to Be, Do and Provide, and let His power be mine.  But until I stop seeking ANY of these things from outside myself (meaning other people) in the flow of life, I will continue to swim upstream with my lungs burning instead of letting the flow carry me and be able to focus on other goals and desires. I must have faith that all things are possible; live for God, not the validation of other people, and in so doing gain strength, resoluteness of purpose, and ultimately protection and prosperity.

(As another sidenote, my personal understanding of God would really dictate saying Him/Her, but for the sake of expediency, I deferred to the male aspect because this is, in many ways, about my own sense of manhood.)

So there you have it…my keys to happiness on a hot Southern Thursday morning.

On top of that, when I got to work, there was an e-mail from a professional development website I belong to about Excellence and Motivation; one of the key lines that summed it all up: “The best we can be with low motivation is adequate. No matter how hard we work at something and desire it, in the long run we will never be excellent at something without high levels of motivation in that area. In other words, if we toil in areas where we have low motivation, we resign ourselves to mediocrity.”

This last bit just seemed to be an exclamation point on my own “revelations” from less than an hour earlier.

Has anyone else had that kind of moment where something, or maybe even “everything,” just kind of comes together–as Jay-Z and alcoholics put it, a “moment of clarity?” Feel free to share.


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Profile Re-post

I decided to post my profile as a blog entry. As this thing takes shape (in the 48 to 72 or so hours and counting that it’s been in existence, anyway), I’ve realized that it’s really a way–as with most writers–of getting to know myself a little better…in public (that is, if anyone decides to read). :o).

So here’s my original profile that explains a bit more about who I am and where this could be headed….thanks for stopping by, and let me know what you think.

Talking about myself is probably my least favorite part about this kind of stuff because I’m a little bit “all over the place.”

I call the blog “Aspiring Optimist” because I am driven to look on the proverbial bright side, but don’t always succeed. Like anyone else, there are things that put a knot in my chest, that wake me up at night like an internal chorus of crickets. But I also believe that if you keep living and trying and working and planning, things have a way of getting better.

I love to write, mostly for myself to maintain some semblance of worldly sanity and to work out the kinks. Unless some other people I know who also write, I may occasionally indulge a bad idea or two or three in the privacy of pen and paper so that I can get it out of my head and move on. But I also manage to produce poetry and some short fiction of varying levels of quality.

I gravitate toward the esoteric, unusual, nature-ish, ancient history and generally cosmic side of things. I like to know a little about everything,  but could do much better about knowing a lot about a few things…I probably would be a lot wealthier if I did.

I love God, my family, and the ideas of freedom, equality, and peace.

And I guess I don’t hate talking about myself nearly as much as I thought I did.


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my most recent poem…last month

“God That Is” ©T. Lessane, June 2011

 God that is equally present in all things and places

And at all times

Except maybe our thoughts

God of the fine line between instinct and free will

Thank you for letting me be me, us be us

Thank you for being patient and rewarding our trust

Thank you for all that is

 

God of hard truth that hurts

And easy lies that protect

God of running with the wind in your face

God of building friendships with people

From other physical, mental and spiritual places than you

 

God of the moon’s gravitational pull

God of my heart pumping

My blood flowing

God of all 20 fingers and toes in total being intact

God of sex feeling so damn good

God of the uncertainty, pain and pleasure of love

In all its manifestations

God of temptation and wishing we could

God of making ourselves do what we should

 

God of pyramids, coliseums and crosses

God of cheering on your team no matter how many losses

God of hieroglyphs and graffiti

God of both helping and freely judging the “needy”

God of the blessing of unexpected conception

And incalculable losses

God of August showers and

Quiet rain on my window pane

God of white sand, dolphins and blue water

God of tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes

 

God of cheating spouses who get caught

And parents who stay together because they

Feel they ought to for the sake of their children

God of not having to pretend to be something you’re not

Of being an individual instead of

Only following what’s hot

 

God of dark days and bright nights

God of fun with the fellas on big game and fight nights

God of the humble servant and the self-righteous

God of the feeling that I might just

Write a poem at any minute

God of inner light and third-eye sight

 

God of struggling fathers and tired mothers

God of finding and fixing our flaws

Before we criticize or castigate others

God of forgiveness in heart and mind

Without letting loyalty blind you

God of knowing when to leave certain people behind

 

God of our sun and its infinite brothers and sisters

God of soil and worms in my hand

And flowers and grass and fresh tomatoes

God of seemingly distant galaxies and black holes

God of pimps, gangstas and wayward souls

God of jumping the broom and

Internationally televised royal weddings

God of laying low in 103 degrees with 80 percent humidity

God of sledding in a foot of freshly fallen snow

And making tightly-packed forts in the park

God of vegetarians in leather

and meat-eaters who can’t stand the sight of blood

 

God of Sunday preachers

And street corner philosophers

Dispensing wisdom from a can of beer

Or a bottle of vodka

God of priests, pastors and bishops

Succumbing to inner demons

And of otherwise innocent married men in strip clubs

Who get labeled as sinners

 

God of chains on slave ships

And roots to heal wounds

On slave backs from whip cracks

God of defending the right to

Sag pants and sling sacks

God of shootouts and yoga

2000 year old trees and mega churches

God of the never ending search for truth-

And of politicians

 

God of the Book of coming forth by day

The Bible, the Torah

And the Baghavad Gita

God of the Quran and of drumming, ritual possession

And other indigenous features

God of food banks and Sunday dinners

With leftovers for days

God of children playing in the street

God of silence and jazz singers

And handclapping and call and response

And be-bop

 

God of women’s curves and delectable complexities

God of the stubborn strength of men

God of dancing when no one can see you

And smiling through our silent tears

God of fond memories from way back when

God of the promise of tomorrow

God of leaders and followers

 

God of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner

God of the “all-American patriotic”

…Confederate flag…

God of the passion for freedom that burns

In each of our souls

No matter the state of consciousness

How high or how low

 

God of baby’s first steps

And veteran cripples

God of the occasional fleeting feeling

That there is absolutely nothing in the world

Better than what you’re doing right now

 

God called Jehovah, Oludamare, Nyame, I AM

Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu

Jah, Wakan Taka, Allah, Amma, Amen-Ra, Yahweh

Without you we wouldn’t, couldn’t exist

 let alone make it this far

Trying to do things our way

So again I say

 

God that is equally present in all things and places

And at all times

Except maybe our thoughts

God of the fine line between instinct and free will

Thank you for letting me be me, us be us

Thank you for being patient and rewarding our trust

Thank you for all that is


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A beginning

 OK, I have  to admit I have close to zero idea why I’m doing this.  Something, let’s just call it “The Voice of God” for lack of a better label or description, motivated me to start a blog today. Yes, I’ve thought about it before…but I kept coming back to the same self-defeating thought that ultimately prevented further (read:ANY) progress up to this point, which  was, essentially “I’m just not that interesting.”

So there it is: maybe my soul/spirit/conscious mind, whatever we’re made up of, has decided to take up the challenge. To do it–for the sake of doing it. And maybe I might find that I say something that will resonate with other people. I started by trying to find a place to put my poetry and other writing on line, an e-safety deposit box  (or maybe bulletin board is a more apt analogy) but with access by potentially millions of people. And I probably still will. I have no rules here,  just a semi-uncharacteristic desire to express my opinions to the world in an uncontrolled setting.  Yikes.

I’m at less that 200 words and I’m already nervous.

Let’s see where it goes.