Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on a bitter-sweet 2009

2009 can be most accurately described as a year of chaotic stability.  I have experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life.  The challenges, successes, struggles, opportunities, and experiences that have characterized this year have lead me to great growth as an individual, friend, and student.  Although this year has been characterized by much loss and difficulty it has also been characterized by joy and celebration.  In 2009, I fell in love which in the end resulted in a broken heart.  This is something that changed my life profoundly and something I have struggled with more than most people realize.  2009 introduced me to one of my very best friends, Mandy.  This friendship was unique from the beginning and strengthened within the context of one of the most difficult situations I have ever been involved in.  A situation that challenged me as an individual and a friend.  I feel so blessed to have been a part of Mandy's support group, and am SO proud of the growth and progress that she has made throughout this year.

I have also had the privilege of being involved in a variety of joyous occasions throughout 2009.  I had the honor of being the maid of honor in my best friend, Rachel's wedding.  I feel so blessed that Rach chose to include me in her special day.  It was even more meaningful now that she and I are living at opposite "poles" of the US (she's in Texas while I'm in Minnesota). In August I had the opportunity to attend another good friend's wedding in Cancun, Mexico.  I felt so blessed to be included in Sophia's wedding, especially since she now lives far away in London.  This was my first real vacation and I had the opportunity to spend it with my best friend.  There is absolutely nothing better than lying on the beach in the sun, listening to the waves crash against the beach, with a mango margarita in hand.  I've NEVER been more relaxed in my entire life.  More recently, I've enjoyed celebrating the engagements of my brother, Josh & his fiancee Whitney, and my best friend, Leslie.  

Personally, I have made great strides this year in becoming the person that God intends me to be.  I have grown immensely as an individual this year.  I've uncovered my own strength and resilience; and have discovered my capacity to love unconditionally.  Scholastically, I've successfully completed half of my doctorate coursework and have decided upon my dissertation topic.  I have also made great strides in my professional development by presenting my thesis research in the form of presenting a research poster at the National Council on Family Relations annual conference in San Francisco.  

As most people who know me well know, I prefer a life of chaotic stability to a life of stagnation.  Although this kind of life is characterized by high highs and low lows, I would rather experience the lowest of lows knowing that I am living a passionate life.  Knowing that the life experiences I have are giving me opportunities for personal growth.  While in many ways 2009 has been associated with difficulty, pain, and heartache, I recognize the silver lining in these experiences.  As I have often been told, nothing in life that's worth having comes easy.  Personal growth is not easy.  Love is NOT easy.  Life is not easy.  The most profound realization that has occurred to me in 2009 is the importance of living and loving fiercely, passionately, authentically, generously, and wisely.  While this is not easy, and as I've come to realize, at times quite difficult and painful, in my humble opinion, it is the only way to live a life that is worthwhile.  

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Double Consciousness

The notion of double consciousness was described first by W. E. B. DuBois in 1902.  He described the challenge of being both a "negro and an American."  According to the Duboisian worldview individuals should be capable of embracing multiple identities so they have the ability to fully function within one’s ethnic group, religion, and culture while simultaneously having the capacity to be fully a part of the wider society.  Throughout the semester I have been attempting to navigate the internal dissonance I have experienced as a result of a sense of double consciousness between my academic identity and my identity as a Christian.   Although individually I have been able to navigate this double consciousness and integrate these two identities, I have yearned to find a community of others who also experience this double consciousness.  But I have struggled to identify the underlying opposition between these two identities.  In some way I associate academics and scholars with a liberal paradigm (as increasing education often is associated with more liberal/open minded thinking) whereas the Christian paradigm is often associated with conservative values and beliefs.  While I do believe this reflects some of the dissonance I experience, it does not fully explain why academic and Christian identities are difficult to integrate within today's society.  After watching Angels & Demons last night I feel as though I have a better understanding of the fundamental dissonance between the two.  Academics typically value science; which at its core is about seeking truth and knowledge that can be validated.  Christianity, on the other hand, is about having faith, "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what is unseen" (Hebrews 11:1).  Herein lies the fundamental juxtaposition of academic knowledge and Christian values.  The first is a matter of the mind.  The latter a matter of the heart.  However, I believe God gave us both a heart and mind that coexist.  

I have experienced the internal dissonance that exists within this double consciousness.  And although I feel as though I am capable of integrating these two identities individually, society provides some barriers that make life within a state of double consciousness difficult.  One of my course assignments this semester was to create a learning community.  So I decided to create a community of individuals who were also interested in taking an academic, critical approach to Christianity.  I was fortunate to hear Greg Boyd, a well-known Christian author and pastor in St. Paul, MN, preach.  He takes an academic approach to understanding the fundamental values of Christianity that align well with my own beliefs.  My small learning community has decided to begin our study by working through Greg's book, "Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God."  I feel that by creating a community of individuals who are interested in discussing Christianity from a critical perspective and finding a pastor who acts as a radical leader, I no longer feel isolated within my state of double consciousness.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wait for the man...

"Wait for the man who pursues you, the one who will make an ordinary moment seem magical, the kind of man who brings out the best in you and makes you want to be a better woman. Wait for the man who will be your best friend, the one who will drop everything to be with you. Wait for the man who makes you smile like no other guy makes you smile. Wait for the man who respects and loves you for who you are, not who everyone else wants you to be. Wait for the man who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats and no make-up, but loves it when you get all dolled up for him. Wait for the man who praises God for you and encourages you daily in your walk, and most importantly, wait for the man who is more in love with God than you."

*I would also add, "the one who is willing to defend your honor." Because its not always about "who everyone else wants you to be," but rather who they try to make you out to be.*

One of my best friends showed me this quote a couple years ago. It immediately resonated with me as exactly what I was looking for in a guy. I'm ashamed to admit that at first when I read this I selfishly thought to myself that I didn't want the man I am with to be more in love with anyone (including God) than with me. I realize how selfish, arrogant, and naive this is. And as I reflected further I came to realize that in actuality, a man who is more in love with God than he is with me actually has a greater capacity to love me than a man who is more in love with me than with God.

I'm still not sure that I will find someone who fulfills/satisfies ALL of the above mentioned description. And honestly, I have absolutely no desire or intent to search for or even "stumble upon" a new relationship. But I do know that I will not settle for anything less than what is described above. Because honestly I have experienced what life with a man who fits much of the above description is like and nothing less will be sufficient. For now I am just trusting in God, being thankful for the family and friends who enhance my life, and focusing on further developing myself to fulfill God's plan for my life. I am not closing my heart off to the possibility of love but rather am attempting to open my heart to have the capacity to love others the way God loves me. I am attempting to reflect God's love in my life and simultaneously re-defining love to reflect the love that really matters in life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Team Edward or Team Jacob???

*Spoiler alert...if you haven't read the Twilight series or seen the movies yet, the following blog post does contain some spoilers.*

I will readily admit that I am slightly (ok more than slightly) obsessed with the Twilight saga. I read the books this summer and became completely enamored with Edward and Bella's love story. Edward's love, adoration, protectiveness, and selflessness with Bella is, I believe, what most women hope for. And although in many ways I am not seeking out love, there remains a part of my heart that desires to find a man who looks at me the way Edward looks at Bella. A man who loves, adores and exhibits a protectiveness over me the way Edward does Bella. However, in the storyline of New Moon, Edward leaves Bella and utterly breaks her heart. Enter Jacob, Bella's best friend, who also happens to love Bella. Jacob is the only person who can alleviate the pain and begin to mend the hole that Edward's absence left in Bella's chest. Herein, lies the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate. Personally I'm Team Edward AND Jacob. But I have a great appreciation for and understanding of the debate now.

Delving deeper into the storyline we see that Edward left, not because he didn't love Bella, but because of how much he loved her. He left because he thought it was in her best interest. He thought he was protecting her. The problem was, he didn't consult Bella in this decision. He didn't allow her to be a part of the process. He didn't give her an opportunity to decide FOR HERSELF what was in her own best interest. AND, he lied to her; left her blaming herself for not being good enough to deserve Edward's love. He made it seem as if it was easy for him to walk away from her. Jacob, on the other hand, was always open with Bella about his feelings. He too was very protective over Bella; however, he also recognized that he couldn't protect Bella from everything, from all pain and heartache. He included her and allowed her to decide for herself what was in her best interest. Even when it meant that Jacob got hurt and rejected. The point is, Jacob allowed Bella to make her own decision, Edward did not. While both did so out of their love for Bella, Jacob valued Bella's ability to make decisions for herself. This storyline really resonates with me based on my past experiences. And while I admire the love and adoration that Edward has for Bella, I appreciate Jacob's openness, honesty, and willingness to allow Bella to be involved in the process and make her own decision. Even if that wasn't the decision that he himself wanted. So maybe it is this distinction that explains why I choose to be on Team Edward & Jacob. I recognize the traits in each that I want in a man, should I find one worth dating. I want the intense love and adoration that Edward exhibits and Jacob's ability to be open, honest and include Bella in the process. And while I want someone who will be protective over me, I also want someone who will make decisions with me, rather than for me. Until that time I'll continue "watching a gorgeous vampire and buff werewolf battle for a girl's love" which "is the perfect distraction from my inability to meet a semi-datable human."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Was I the Only One???

I tend to view my role as being the person who is always strong. It is very rare for me to allow people to see me weak. The few exceptions are my family (particularly my mom) and within the boundaries of a relationship. Very rarely will I be "weak" around girls, even my closest friends. A couple of my best friends have seen me in vulnerable/weak states on very rare occasion. In part this is because I have been betrayed and really hurt by some of my closest girlfriends. But mostly it is because I view it as my responsibility to be available to my friends to be strong for them when they need me to. And being weak compromises my ability to be strong for my friends. Over the years I've gotten really good at putting on a smile, even when I feel broken inside. And in some ways I've done this the past couple months through my blog. I have used this blog to process my thoughts & feelings and to use it as an opportunity for me to grow as a person. I have also put on a brave "face" and likely appeared less affected than what many of you may realize. The very few people (primarily my mom, brother Josh, and best friend Mandy) who know where my heart is and has been, realize that while everything I have blogged about recently is true, it is also not the entire story. So, in an attempt to challenge myself and work toward "self-realization" I have decided to make myself vulnerable in a way that is not easy or desirable to me.

I recently listened to a song off Jordin Sparks' newest album (Battlefield). It seems to eloquently and perfectly capture the thoughts and feelings I have experienced over the past couple months. Some are thoughts and feelings I still experience, others I have experienced at some point. But what these lyrics represent to me is vulnerability and brokenness, which is a reflection of my recent experiences.

So, below are the lyrics for "Was I the Only One" and an intimate look into my vulnerable heart.

--When you told me that I was a star in the sky
Baby, I believed every word
And you seemed so sincere, it was perfectly clear
'Cause forever was all that I heard

And every little kiss from your tender lips
Couldn't have been a lie
I fell heart over head without a safety net
I don't understand it's goodbye

Was I the only one who fell in love?
There never really was the two of us
Maybe my all just wasn't good enough
Was I the only one, only one in love?

As I walk down the hall I see the place on the wall
Where the picture of us used to be
I fight back these tears 'cause I still feel you here
How could you walk out so easily?

And I don't understand how I can feel this pain
And still be alive
And all these broken dreams and all these memories
Are killing me inside

Was I the only one who fell in love?
There never really was the two of us
Maybe my all just wasn't good enough
Was I the only one, only one?

Tell me what I'm supposed to do with all this love
Baby, it was supposed to be the two of us
Help me 'cause I still don't want to believe
I was the only one, I was the only one

I was the only one who fell in love
There never really was the two of us
Maybe my all just wasn't good enough
I was the only one, the only one

I was the only one who fell in love
There never really was the two of us
Maybe my all just wasn't good enough
Was I the only one, the only one in love, oh

When you told me that I was a star in the sky
Baby, I believed every word--

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Relationships are about...

"Relationships are about knowing what to give up for each other and knowing what to hold onto for ourselves" (quote from One Tree Hill Season 6). The profoundness of this quote struck me as soon as I heard it, because I feel it illustrates one of the most difficult aspects of a relationship. Within my most recent relationship, I did not know what to hold onto for myself. I was too selfless and accommodating. At times I felt like Kirk didn't know what to give up for our relationship and had a tendency to be selfish. I realize that on the surface people may assume that I am saying Kirk is at fault for being selfish (because for the most part selfishness is seen as negative) and I was in the "right" because I was selfless (because this is viewed positively). However, this is not what I'm suggesting. I'm suggesting that he and I needed to learn from one another and I needed to learn what to hold onto for me and he needed to learn what to give up for us. According to this quote, each individual must know when they need to be selfless and when they need to be selfish. It is achieving this balance of selflessness and selfishness that allows the relationship to thrive.

As for myself, I am by nature too accommodating and selfless. It was much easier for me to just give in and constantly attend events with he and his friends because in part the alternative was to just stay in. He and his friends are VERY social. As a graduate student I don't really have the time to be so social (fortunately while we dated I was only taking two courses which enabled me to be more social than normal). I think even more importantly, by nature I am an introvert and am energized by being alone or in small groups, with one or two other people. This does not mean that I do not enjoy being social or going out with friends, and my friends can definitely attest to that. But it does mean that I am not energized by social activities among large groups of people (like most extroverts are). *NOTE: On the Myers-Briggs temperament type I am an ENFJ (extroverted, intuitive, feeling, judging) personality. I have learned to become more extroverted over time. However, initially when I took Myers-Briggs I was an INFJ. So by nature I am intoverted.* So constantly going out with he and his friends was exhausting and emotionally draining for me. I neglected my introverted nature and there were negative consequences of doing so. Often when we went out, Kirk and I would have a lot of fun through the night but I tended to pick insignificant tiffs at the end of the night. This really frustrated Kirk, and understandably so. During our relationship I was unsure why this happened. But upon reflection I think it was a result of me being emotionally drained. Going out every weekend and even sometimes both nights in a weekend was too much for me. It was contrary to my introverted nature. I didn't realize the importance of "holding onto" this for myself. And had I been better able to do so, I think our relationship would have benefited.

This is just one example of how my selflessness had a negative impact on our relationship. Had I been more aware and been more selfish, I would have realized I needed more low-key nights in and either chosen not to attend some events or asked Kirk to stay in with me instead of going out. (Probably a little of both would be reasonable). It is my hope that through this reflection, I will better know what to give up for the other person & our relationship and know what to hold onto for myself. I have learned that I sometimes need to be selfish, because contrary to popular belief, that is just as important to individual and couple well-being as being selfless. I have learned the importance of knowing what to hold onto for myself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Over the past couple months I've turned to music as a source of refuge and validation of my experiences and feelings. A song that I have always LOVED is "Hallelujah." One of my favorite music artists, Kate Voegele, has recorded a version and I actually got to see her perform it live this summer. The song is beautiful, inspirational, and moving. But it was not until after the break up that I really listened to and processed the lyrics. There's a line that seems particularly salient to my life.

"And love is not a victory march, it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah."

This line has really resonated with me the past couple months. Mostly because I have been experiencing the "cold and broken" aspects of love lost. I think anyone experiencing heartbreak can easily relate to this line. However, it is important not to take the phrase out of context. It says love is...a cold and a broken HALLELUJAH. By definition, Hallelujah is an expression of praise, joy, or thanks. I interpret this to mean that there are times when love is difficult, heartbreaking, and complicated. But even when love is hard, it brings joy and reason to give thanks. And in my opinion, that is a more powerful message than providing validation for someone experiencing a broken heart. Because it suggests that being in love is not always characterized by a feeling of victory. It sometimes is a sense of loss or even failure. BUT even at what seems like the "lowest point" love is worth it. Even when being in love seems frustrating, difficult or even exhausting, it is still superior to a life without love (which may be characterized by stagnation). In my own opinion, being in love is often characterized by high, highs and low, lows. Personally, I'd rather experience more intense lows if that means I also get to experience higher highs. I'd rather experience a lower low if that means I experience those lows with the love of my life at my side. Because at least if I have intense highs and lows, I know I'm living life and not just living in stagnation.

So, while I was initially drawn to this lyric because I felt that my heartbreak could be characterized as "a cold and broken Hallelujah," I've come to realize that it is actually an eloquent expression of my own understanding of love. Because, I can't imagine a love that is anything less than a cold and broken Hallelujah.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Forever and Almost Always

One Tree Hill is one of my favorite television shows because I appreciate its accurate portrayal of life, and in particular, relationships. Haley and Nathan have had their share of struggles and hardship throughout their relationship on the show. However, they have stood by one another through it all. They often use the phrase "always and forever" to signify their promise to work through life together. Kirk and I adopted this "promise" within our relationship. And I meant it with all of my heart. Even though we have been broken up for a couple months, I still love him. Even though he hurt me and broke my trust, I am still in love with him...or at least with who I thought he was (or wish he were). I was always skeptical of the human capacity to love someone unconditionally outside our immediate families. And maybe I'm being naive, but I believe that loving someone in spite of their flaws, despite them hurting you, and being more concerned with their well-being over your own are all attributes of unconditional love. What I'm unsure of, and have been struggling with the past few weeks, is whether my capacity to love him unconditionally is a reflection of our relationship or a reflection of who I am and my own ability to love unconditionally. Or maybe a combination of the two? Or is this just me being pathetic?

I haven't decided upon an answer to this question as of yet. But what I do know, is that I will not settle for a love that is anything short of unconditional. I will not settle for simply loving someone and having them love me. I want to be in love and want someone who is in love with me. I want to find someone who is capable of loving me unconditionally, because I will not settle for anything less now that I've experienced that kind of love.

NOTE: The title of this blog was inspired byKate Voegele's song by the same name.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Pull me from that pedestal, I don't belong there"

As those of you who follow my blog probably have realized, I draw inspiration from the social medias that surround us. In particular, music has always been a source of inspiration, insight, validation, and comfort for me. At times I wish life had a "soundtrack" like movies and tv series do. I tend to critically reflect on television shows and often pull "life lessons" and quotes that seem particularly salient; typically the life lessons that resonate most with me are those that can be applied to my own experiences. These salient quotes are typically the central themes of my blog posts. Although I haven't been blogging recently, I am constantly collecting salient "central concepts." (And in fact, I currently have a post-it on my desk with at least three "central concepts" for future blogs.)

A common theme or central concept that I have been struggling with recently is articulated by a song, "Halo," that Halely James Scott (a character on One Tree Hill) sings. I pulled a few lines of the song and included them below, as these lyrics in particular resonate with my own experiences.

"i never promised you a ray of light
i never promised there'd be sunshine everyday
i'll give you everything i have
the good, the bad

i always said that i would make mistakes
im only human and thats my saving grace
i'll fall as hard as i try
so dont be blinded
see me as i really am
i have flaws and sometimes I can't even sin
so pull me from that pedestal
i dont belong there"

I have felt in my past relationships, and even among some of my good guy friends, that I have been put on a pedestal. And at the risk of sounding conceited, I acknowledge that I am an intelligent, strong, independent, attractive girl who is fairly laid-back and enjoys sports (the college variety anyway). I'm a catch. And while I do want the guy I'm with to realize how lucky he is to have me, I also don't want him putting me on a pedestal. I'm not perfect. Not even close. And from my own experience, when someone else puts you on a pedestal the only place you have to go is down. And when you do fall, you fall much farther. And when you hit the hurts that much more.

I feel that I'm pretty honest in my appraisals of myself. I am extremely stubborn. At times I can be a total brat. I am sometimes insecure and often what my mom appropriately termed "demanding." I'm EXTREMELY introspective (I am high in what Howard Gardner termed "intrapersonal intelligence" see his theory of multiple intelligences for more information) and am constantly analyzing individuals, relationships, interactions, and contexts in order to build, adapt and reflect my conceptual frameworks (that's the qualitative researcher in me), which allow me to gain understanding. I value complexity and operate from a combination of a realistic and pragmatic orientation. All of which can apparently be overwhelming or "intimidating" to guys (again, I don't see myself as intimidating but have been told by many guy friends that I am intimidating to guys). But to paraphrase a Marilyn Monroe quote, "if you can't handle me at my worst and most difficult, you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

Within the context of a relationship, I will NEVER promise that it will be easy. But what I will promise is to give that individual everything. All that I am. The good and the bad. I will make myself fully vulnerable. Because that is who I am. Authentic.

So, I guess when I reach a point that I am ready to date again, what I want is someone who sees the real me. Someone who sees my flaws and loves me in spite of them. Someone who doesn't need to lose me to realize how much he loves and cares about me. Someone who recognizes how lucky he is to have me without placing me on a pedestal. Someone who recognizes the realities of who I am and who he is and who we are together. Someone who wants to do life with me. Side by side on common ground.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Strengths-based approach to relationships?

I am in a very different place today than I was weeks ago when I first began this blog. As I've continued to process the past couple weeks I have come to realize much about myself and my most recent relationship. Before the breakup, my family and some of my close friends had shared with me concerns about how often we had plans and spent time with his friends and also noted is unwillingness to make accommodations to help me when I needed him. While I acknowledged that this was true I was willing to overlook these things. I have since realized that he is extremely immature and selfish, and was within and throughout our relationship. So, I wonder why I put up with it? Why did I accept it? And what I've come to realize is the extent my field of study has influenced my daily life. Within the family studies, youth development, and education fields we tend to employ a strengths-based approach, focusing on the potential in families, youth, and students. And it seems that I employed this same framework within my relationship. I focused on his strengths and potential rather than his flaws and weaknesses. However, I did so to my own demise. So how do I find a balance between viewing the potential and strengths in a relationship without allowing them to overshadow the inadequacies in a relationship?

I have also come to realize that his immaturity and selfishness were the basis for much of the turmoil in our relationship. I have come to realize that I accepted too much responsibility for our "tiffs." Even after our relationship ended, I analyzed what I could have done to prevent this. And I came to realize that this had absolutely nothing to do with me. This has to do with the fact that he is not ready to be in a committed relationship. This was an empowering realization. However, I am still extremely disappointed in him and the lack of respect that he has showed me through this process. But regardless, I have found serenity in the realization that I am better off now. I deserve better. I deserve a guy who will put in an equal amount of effort into 'our' relationship as I do. I deserve to be with someone who will make me a priority, even when its inconvenient. I deserve to be with someone who will make himself as vulnerable as I do (and will not take advantage of that vulnerability). I deserve to be with someone who deserves to be with me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The hardest part of saying goodbye

“The hardest part of saying goodbye is having to do it again, every single day." This quote from One Tree Hill is referring to death. However, I believe that it is also applicable to the end of a relationship; because in many ways, ending a relationship is a kind of death. It is the separation of a couple (the merging of two individuals) into two distinct individuals. The routine of doing daily life together is disrupted and future plans become obsolete. I have struggled, more than I'd like to admit, with saying goodbye, every single day. It has been difficult knowing that I can't just text or call him "just because" or just to let him know I'm thinking of him. It's hard not knowing when I'll hear from him or see him next. We live within about six minutes of one another, so even seeing the sign for his street, or driving by the DQ we went to, or the flower shop he always bought my flowers from is a painful memory. Although some may say each day is a new day (and I realize it is going to require many of them for enough time to pass for me to completely heal) its hard waking up realizing that it is just another day that I have to say goodbye. Goodbye to us. To him. To the person I was with him. To the plans and dreams we had together. And to our future.

He was supposed to go home with me next weekend to attend his first K-State football game with me. Anyone who knows me well knows that Kansas State University is a HUGE part of my life. I've attended season football games ever since I can remember. I'm a two time alum of K-State and as such have an immense passion for the university. I really do not think words can express how excited I have been to take Kirk with me to a game and have him experience the traditions and atmosphere of Kansas State. It is going to be REALLY difficult to go to the game and have an empty seat next to me, knowing that it was intended for him. Fortunately I have an amazingly supportive family who are helping me through this. I will be sitting at the game with my brother Josh and his girlfriend. I'm sure Josh and I will analyze the game, coaching strategy, and refereeing as usual. I'm really looking forward to that. Also, my parents realizing how difficult a 9 hour drive alone would be (too much time to think) are flying me home earlier in the week. So, I'll get to spend almost an entire week in Kansas with my family. Something that will allow me to escape my daily routine here.

For now the "distractions," love, and support of my family and friends are helping me manage the pain of saying goodbye every single day. And I know that with time, my heart will heal and hopefully I'll be able to wake up some morning and not need to say goodbye.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Loving on purpose

The newest season of one of my favorite television series (One Tree Hill) came out earlier this week. One of the things I value so much about OTH is that I feel the it provides an accurate representation of life. Yes, it is FULL of drama. (That's what makes it entertaining.) But it doesn't depict the "happily ever after" that movies and television shows so often do. Instead, it shows that love, relationships, and life aren't easy. You don't fall in love and ride off into the sunset. Relationships require work, and a lot of it. And yet our society convinces individuals that true love is easy. That if you have to work at it, its not true love. It is absolutely infuriating.

In the season six opener of OTH (no spoilers, I promise), Lucas is "choosing" between three women he loves. He is daydreaming imagining life with each. As he considers his life with one of the women, he recognizes that "its easy with us, huh?" and her reply is the "the easiest." But guess what, he DOESN'T "choose" her. I applaud the director and producer for including that. They could have easily left this exchange/scene out but they chose not to. Instead, they choose to reflect a reality not often presented in our society; just because its easy, doesn't make it RIGHT. And just because a relationship is sometimes difficult, doesn't make it WRONG.

A few minutes into the episode, Lucas is at the airport waiting for the girl (who is still unknown) that he called to show up and go to Vegas to marry him. Following is the transcript of what follows:

Old man: I want to tell you something son. It’s the most important thing there is. Love. Finding the right person to spend your life with.

Lucas: I know I made the right choice.

Old man: Yeah…(laughter).

Old man: That’s where it gets you. Thinking you’ve got a choice. Love finds you son, you don’t find love. Its got a little bit to do with destiny, fate, what’s written in the stars. A lot to do with the simple fact most women are smarter than we are. And why, your sorry butt never had a chance. But…if you want to believe you had a choice in the matter, I’d say you made a good one. Because she showed up. And she sure is pretty.

I believe that love manifests as a result of the combination of destiny, fate, and the choices we make. I realize the juxtaposition I am presenting by claiming that love is the result of both destiny/fate and a choice. But here is my view. Destiny and fate place us in a position to meet one another. But what we do with it from there, is our decision. Had I never applied for the Ph.D. program at the U of MN, been accepted, moved to the cities, taken the Ed Psych class fall semester, met Amanda, and gone out with her that night I would have never met Kirk. That I believe was destiny/fate. But it was my decision to say yes to a date. And my decision that "this was something worth holding onto" that lead to love. I believe love is a feeling and an emotion but more often than anything love is an action. A deliberate choice. For example, I love Kirk with all that I am. And that is a feeling/emotion. But there are many times I deliberately chose to act lovingly toward him. Even at times that my stubbornness made it difficult (and I know there were times I was "difficult" and he did the same). I have long believed that "love is not enough," which I find extremely disheartening. But, I also believe, that if you love someone enough, you are willing to put love into action for that person. Even when its hard. Even when you don't want to. Because you love them. And if you can do that, and find someone who will love you on purpose in return, then that kind of love IS enough. And always will be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You'll never change if you just run away

I have discovered (as much as I hate to say this) that Sex and the City has a lot of very applicable viewpoints on life and relationships. In particular, Carrie's rules for breakups. I find two to be particularly applicable to my own experience. The first, you can't make it through a break-up without your friends. The second, retail therapy works WONDERS following a break-up. I went to dinner with my best friend "A" tonight and it was just what I needed. I desperately needed to get out of my apartment (breaking up and having your car in the shop at the same time leaves you feeling particularly isolated and alone). We also did some shopping (I got a new outfit to wear out this Friday!). Something about seeing how amazing your "tush" looks in a pair of jeans is a real pick-me-up.

A and I have had very similar experiences with men recently. Mostly that the guys we've dated prefer a simple life and therefore simple women. However, as a result of listening to the lyrics to a Christina Aguilera song, ("Voice Within") I began to accepting and embracing the complications/challenges that exist in life really the cause of difficulty in a relationship? Or is it those who choose to ignore the reality that life is complex and challenging that makes relationships hard? As with anything, I am sure that the answer lies in the balance between the two. Individuals who thrive in complex, complicated situations can benefit by valuing the simple aspects of life (in my case learning to choose my battles wisely) and those who value simplicity can benefit by embracing complexity as an opportunity to grow and experience life in a different way. However, attaining a sense of balance and equilibrium between the two will be difficult.

In staying with this line of thought, I found a specific line in the song to be quite applicable to how I'm feeling right now. "You'll never change if you just run away." In particular, people won't benefit from the differences in others if they run away from the challenge rather than working through the difficulty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defining chaotic stability

I have been thinking about beginning a new blog entitled chaotic stability. After the events of last night (Kirk and I ended it) and the reasons behind why we are no longer together confirmed why I so badly need to write this blog. A.) I hope to actually utilize this blog the way it is intended by posting REGULARLY. B.) I feel that I'm no longer the girl adjusting to city life that I was when I began my last blog. C.) The framework I apply and operate from in life is chaotic stability. D.) Maybe this blog will serve guys who are either in relationships with complex women, considering beginning a relationship with a complex woman, or have recently ended a relationship with a complex woman. I hope that this will provide some insight and be helpful in determining whether or not you (the man) can handle a complex woman.

Our existence is comprised of both order/stability and chaos/instability. Many people are most comfortable in a state of order and stability. Most see the value in chaos to a degree but MANY people are uncomfortable in a state of chaos/instability. I believe, that as is the case in all other aspects of life, it is a matter of finding a balance between the two. Life is bland and boring if only comprised of order and stability and yet has no meaning if comprised solely of chaos. It is maintaining these states in equilibrium that a full life is experienced.

Let me briefly explain what I mean by order/stability and chaos/instability by listing concepts that I believe are associated with each (some using the 'synonyms' option on Word that I found to be an accurate reflection, the others my personal opinion).

Order/stability- constancy, steadiness, strength, regulate, categorize, simplicity, stagnation, unchanging

Chaos/instability- hardship, confusion, disarray, insecurity, flux, unsteadiness, volatility, challenging, complexity, change, growth, improvement

It is not difficult to see why people typically prefer order and stability to chaos and instability. Being in a state of chaos and instability is not easy. It is actually extremely difficult. However, as a complex woman, I value chaos and instability. I function best with some degree of chaos and instability. I personally HATE stagnation.

My philosophy on life is that I don't ever want to go back in time to re-experience life. Afterall, why would I want to return to a day when I am less of the person I am today? Why would I want to return to a period where I had fewer life experiences, had less wisdom, was less aware of who I am and what I expect from myself and others in life? It simply makes no sense to me. I want to continue to grow and change and become a better person tomorrow than I was today. With that being said, I realize I need people in my life who challenge me to be a better person. In many ways, I want a significant other who has opposite temperament/personality styles than me and is willing to work with me (in challenging each other) to establish some sort of balance between the two of us. I want someone who is willing to work through the chaos and instability with me not to change FOR each other, but to become better individuals and therefore a more stable, thriving couple.

I thought I had found someone who fit this philosophy. He definitely challenged me! And because of him I've become a more well-balanced, stable person. Unfortunately he doesn't want the chaos and complications that I so value. He values simplicity. He values a relationship being easy (which I honestly don't think exists). It breaks my heart because I see the potential in what we could have been and remember fondly what we were and what we did have. But, unfortunately, this is just another case of love not being enough. And I do love him, unconditionally.

The thing I've come to realize through this is: I believe, in relationships, you have to work through the chaos and instability to establish and maintain a sense of order and stability.