Someday you’ll be on your own

Right now my wife and I are in total awe and wonder of our precious 5 months old daughter. Our daily life is filled with rainbows and colors. I love it when I see my wife’s doing her very best to attend to her needs – despite the ongoing sleepless nights, diaper blowouts, and spit up messes – it was utterly amazing seeing the two most important people in my life so close to each other. I just wonder what the crawling and teething days would be like! Nonetheless, I’m excited to see our child’s growth progress.

Yet, for all of the craziness, this stage is pretty great. I love when my baby girl snuggles her little warm body so close to mine. I love the endless cuddles, in which she feels safe in my arms. I feel as if I can protect her from everything wrong in the world simply by picking her up and wrapping my arms around her.

She’s at a stage where she gives grins out for everything and everyone. She doesn’t know hate. I love that innocence and that her smile can light up a room. I want to hold onto that innocence and love for as long as possible. It isn’t just the grins that get me. Right now she has the best belly laughs when I tickle her or play peek-a-boo. She squeals with such delight when I raise her over my head and we play “airplane” or “wonder girl.” She hangs on my every word and wiggles excitedly when I sing a song or just talking to her. She is discovering so much and I love seeing her little mind work things out. I love when her eyes light up in excitement and she looks at me to celebrate her victory of figuring out something new, like when she did her first “roll over.” For now, we are her world and she is ours. There are often times she reaches her arms out for me and my wife is convinced her inner monologue is saying, “papa, papa, papa, papa!” Until I pick her up and hold her.

Yet, I know there is a day when the incessant papa or mama will morph to daddy or mommy and then dad or mom and then “ugh, daaaad/moooom.” There will be a day when my songs and stories and games won’t elicit the same giggles and shouts of glee. In fact, some of my jokes and stories will likely elicit groans and eye rolls during the teenage years (I know). There will come a day when the endless cuddles will only come every so often and then maybe not at all. There will come a day when I will no longer be her world. When someone else will become her world in a completely different way. And that’s okay. That’s what she’s supposed to do. She’s supposed to go out into the world and explore and learn and grow and love. But, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. Along the way she will learn things like hate and prejudice. She will learn that not all people are good. She won’t give out her smiles so readily. And at that point, I can’t fix everything so easily for her. I won’t be able to shield her away from the bad, just help her overcome it.

Someday, I’ll stop picking her up because she’ll be too big. Someday she won’t need me like she needs me (us) now. Someday she will keep discovering the world without us alongside her. Someday I won’t know everything about her inside and out because someday we may not be able to see or talk to each other every single day. But, even though that someday is inevitable. Even though that someday is hard to imagine for us, there is something about that someday that will always be true. Something I want to tell my baby, so she doesn’t forget it – ever. 

My Dearest Sophie,

Someday, I may not physically pick you up, but I’ll always be there to emotionally pick you up. To support you, love you, encourage you. Even on the days when you may not think you need me, I’ll be here, in case you decide you do. I’ll always have a hand to hold or arms to hug you. Just in case you decide you need me to be that source of comfort and love. I can always give you that, even when you’re all grown up and on your own. Because, no matter how old, no matter how big, no matter where you are – you’ll never stop being my baby.

                                                                                                          – Daddy

We really don’t need that much in life to be happy

 

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We really don’t need that much in life to be happy.

This may be counter to what we are sold by the advertising masses. However, the truth is there are literally millions around the world that are living pretty happy and contented lives with little in the way of physical possessions.

Many of these people may have enforced constraints. These could include a lack of well-paid employment options or families abroad they themselves work and send money to.

However, some have also identified their own version of enough and live contentedly within self-made constraints. Working just enough to cover their needs and then making time for family, friends and adventures.

Whatever the case, these people live a life filled with less stuff. It can be done.

The Problem with Chasing More
The danger in chasing more and more is that it’s never enough. Just a little more money and we’ll be happy we tell ourselves. A new car on loan will make us more complete we kid ourselves. Keeping up with keeping up is a path to ruin.

More stuff can mean our lives become cluttered. We lose freedom, we lose agility. We can start to feel stifled and even trapped by all this stuff.

Packing Lightly
Beyond our most basic needs of food, water, shelter, health, family and friends, how much more do we really need to be happy?

There are plenty of other things that can add value to our lives. Books, music, a creative outlet and so on. None of this needs to turn into large houses full of stuff we rarely use. None of this needs to turn into large debt that we never escape.

We can decide to pack lightly for life’s journey instead.

Just enough of our most cherished possessions can outweigh an abundance of stuff we collect but never really get much value from.

Having one TV in a home can be enough, rather than one in each room.

Having a closet with 30 items in that we constantly wear and use, rather than 100s of items that take up space but rarely see the light of day.

Instead of chasing more stuff we can make space for more living. We can make space for passion projects and hobbies that are important to us. We can make room for more quality time with our loved ones. This is the sort of more we should be chasing.

We can decide to live lightly. Making the most of what we have, not focused on what we don’t have. As we journey through life, we can decide that travelling with enough is all we really need and live accordingly. 

Photo credits: Google photos

Leave your non-apology at the door

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A genuine, heartfelt apology is a powerful step toward mending hurt feelings and finding a resolution. A half-assed apology, on the other hand, can be worse than none at all.

I’m awfully terrible when it comes to asking for apologies. It’s not that I’m hardhearted, cold-blooded person but I just can’t seem to get it right most of the times and I often regret the outcome, worse than remaining in the status quo. Which leads me to ask myself, “How am I doing it wrong?” Maybe you have that same question in mind too. Which led me further to research about the “dos” and “don’ts” when trying to apologize.

Experts would say that the difference between a sincere apology and cheap one has a lot to do with how it’s phrased. Word to the wise: If you say “sorry” and then immediately follow it with a conditional word like “but” or “if,” you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Studying about the subject of  asking for apology the right way, there seem to be phrases one should avoid when trying to apologize to a friend, family member, significant other or pretty much anyone, for that matter. Here’s what some psychotherapists had to say. 

1. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“Even though this phrase begins with the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ it is not a real apology. It does not take ownership of any wrongdoing. It does not communicate remorse for your actions, and it does not express any empathy towards the other person’s feelings. Instead, it may imply that you think the other person is being irrational or overly sensitive. Try to understand and take responsibility for how your actions or words hurt the other person, saying something like, ‘I’m sorry that I canceled our plans at the last minute. It was inconsiderate of your time and I understand why you are angry at me.’” ―  Gina Delucca, clinical psychologist at Wellspace SF

2. “I’m sorry I said that, but I never would have if you hadn’t behaved the way you did.”

“Again, we are hearing blame. ‘Look what you made me do.’ This is not an apology for one’s behavior but actually a maneuver to hold the other person responsible for one’s behavior. In other words, ‘You caused me to say this to you.’ We are all responsible for our behavior, no matter what the other person says or does. A heartfelt apology is to recognize the pain we cause and own our behavior: ‘I’m sorry that I reacted the way I did and upset you.’” ― Carol A. Lambert, psychotherapist and author of  Women with Controlling Partners

3. “I was stressed out!” (or tired…or hungry…)

“This makes a recurrence of the offense almost inevitable. Always connect the apology to the future. For example, ‘The next time I feel that way (whatever triggered the offense), I will remember that I love you and that our bond is so important to me,’ or, ‘I’ll make sure I get centered in my values so I don’t act on impulse.’ The subtext should always be: ‘I’m sorry that I hurt you and harmed the bond between us.’” ― Steven Stosny, psychologist and author of Love Without Hurt

4. “I said I’m sorry already, why can’t you just let it go?”

I have to admit that this has become my favorite phrase resolving a bump or a quarrel with my wife.

“Blaming your partner for not immediately accepting your apology, forgiving you and moving on is unrealistic and unfair. For an apology to be effective, it must be clear that: 1) You accept full responsibility for your actions and inactions; 2) You are sincerely sorry for anything you’ve done to cause pain and 3) That you want to remedy the situation by giving your partner what they need to feel safe in order to move on and forgive you. Not all apologies lead to immediate forgiveness. It may take time. And it may take apologizing more than once. Start by asking what your partner needs in order to trust you and feel safe and then do it.” ― Sheri Meyers, marriage and family therapist and author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-proof Your Relationship 

5. “I was reacting to…”

“This is an excuse, not an apology.” ― Stosny

6. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

“This is an example of a conditional apology that doesn’t truly acknowledge any remorse or personal responsibility. By using the word ‘if,’ you are communicating that the problem isn’t really about what you did, but is about how the person reacted to what you did instead. Essentially, this type of ‘non-apology’ places the blame back onto the person it’s directed at. Simply remove the word ‘if,’ and your apology can take on a whole new meaning: ‘I’m sorry I offended you. I will make sure to be more considerate and careful with my words in the future.’” ― Tara Griffith, marriage and family therapist and the founder of Wellspace SF

7. “I may have done this, but you did that!”

“Try to avoid keeping score and bringing up times when the other person was in the wrong. An apology is about you acknowledging the wrongfulness of your own actions and making amends; it is not about pointing fingers at other people as a way to justify your actions.” ― Delucca

Here is what I’ve learned from the many bumps my wife and I had in our married life: Guilty or otherwise, whenever we hurt the other person’s feelings, ego or being by overstepping our boundaries, even in the presence of a valid reason, it is just fitting and proper that an apology be expressed right then and there — no “buts” and “ifs”. That way we can preserve the beauty and sanctity of the relationship.

How about you? What are your opinion on the subject? Which phrase strongly resonates with you?

Photo credits: Google photos

 

“Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different.” – Indra Nooyi

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It’s easy to get hooked in our modern world. Meaning many times each day we feel resistance when conversations, outcomes, projects and meetings don’t go the way we hoped they would go or as we had planned. Perhaps someone who works for you delivered an underwhelming performance, or you disagree on strategy with your boss or manager, or a friend/family member holds views that are very different from yours – regardless of the scenario, the feeling we experience is similar.

Some common emotional responses when things don’t go our way are we feel wronged, invalidated, frustrated or at times angry, and likely our responses (conversations and actions) reflect that. This only compounds the feelings we are experiencing and creates a mirror reaction in the person or people with which we are engaged.

At times, we may feel as if the person or people who triggered us did it intentionally or on purpose -which rarely ends up being the case. Most people wake up each day with a desire to do good and be good in this world.

We live in a world composed of 7 plus billion unique people each with his/her own idea of what “do good” and “be good” means – none of which are more right or more wrong than the other – just different. It is true that at times we harm each other with words and actions, disappoint each other, miss expectations or plainly act as a jerk. And it’s also true that most times these choices are not premeditated – the intent of the action is not to harm, disrupt or divide.

There is a different choice each one of us has when we feel hooked or triggered and that choice is to assume positive intent. This doesn’t mean ignore your feelings of displeasure. Rather, address them from a different place – one that starts with assuming the others involved started with a positive intent that just didn’t land. Extend the benefit of the doubt.

Next time you feel hooked or triggered experiment with making a choice to acknowledge that it was positive intent that created the situation and can get you out of it as well. The choice is yours.

Photo credits: Google photos

 

CONTRARY TO POPULAR NOTIONS: My Personal Views on Widely-accepted Relationship “TRUTHS”

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FOREWORD: This is the second installment of my aim to share my personal views on some areas pertaining to Love. Should you happen to like this post after reading it, you may also would want to read later on about my initial post published here seven days ago entitled, “Love Isn’t Always the Answer”.  Further, the views and opinions expressed here are all personal and non-assertive or indicative in any way. Furthermore, I tried to keep my views simple as possible despite the complexities of the “relationship truths” presented herein. Be that as it may, I wish you good and happy reading!

Let’s begin…

Love conquers all.

To put it simply, love does NOT conquer all. All is a lot. It’s literally everything. To say that love conquers all is hyperbolic and misleading. It’s also a dangerous belief to hold onto because it engenders a kind of hopeful laziness. People who cling to the notion that everything will work out as long as they love their significant other tend to overlook the reality that maintaining a strong, loving relationship takes a lot of hard work. You can’t just count on your love to shield you from all the ups and downs you’ll face as a couple.

To say that love conquers all is hyperbolic and misleading.

All you need is love.

To state the obvious, you definitely need food, shelter, oxygen and water — all requirements of living and breathing that are not love. Beyond that, you also probably need some sense of personal fulfillment outside of your romantic relationship. Maybe your career brings you happiness, or you’re passionate about a certain hobby. Whatever the case, it’s wise not to rely entirely on love to reach inner peace. You’re way too complex to need just one thing.

True love is unconditional.

Nope. Sorry. Some couples fall madly in love and then, unexpectedly, fall out of love. When people separate, it isn’t because the love that once existed between them wasn’t true. A breakup doesn’t render a former love suddenly meaningless, but it does signify that it was conditional on some factors that happened to shift — a phenomenon we’re all susceptible to simply because so many things are beyond our control. True love is definitely conditional — on timing, careers, health, desires, sudden changes and so much more.

When it’s right, you’ll know it.

You actually might have no idea you’ve hit the romantic jackpot on your first, second, third or one-hundredth date. Yes, some couples fall in love at first sight. But others aren’t as quick to figure things out, and that’s okay. Love that grows over time isn’t any less real or worthy of note than the kind that sprouts between two people within seconds of meeting. Don’t expect to know in your gut that something’s right from the start. If you rule out every person you don’t feel a spark with automatically, you’ll end up dismissing some good candidates. Sometimes, you have to give things time. Love can blossom when you least expect it to and you might not know it when you see it.

With the right person, everything will be easy.

It’s never easy. Actually, it’s pretty easy in the way beginning, when you’re so love drunk that you let things slide and all you want to do is stare at each other with your googly eyes and make passionate love. But let’s get real. That lustful stage doesn’t last for anyone. There are many wonderful things to look forward to once the passion-blindness fades — comfort, for instance, and a bottomless reserve of inside jokes and treasured memories — but staying together isn’t easy. The right relationship will be worth the effort you have to put into it. Just don’t expect it to be a breeze, no matter how obsessed with each other you are.

The right relationship will be worth the effort you have to put into it.

Never settle for anyone other than “the one.”

Especially for the ladies, please, I beg of you: settle! Fate isn’t a matchmaker, so don’t count on it to guide you towards that one special person. There are a lot of people you’re capable of building a life with. You just have to find one of those people. But don’t expect any of them to be perfectly suited to you. Plan to settle in some ways — for someone slightly less wealthy or handsome or flexible or handy around the house than you’d hoped for. There’s nothing shameful about adjusting your expectations to align with reality, but there is something kind of sad about a person who waits around for a fairytale ending that isn’t scripted.

Timing is everything.

Timing is definitely something, but it isn’t everything. Because when it comes to love, nothing is everything. The path each couple takes is informed by countless competing factors. Every togetherness is a complex narrative and while some might be marked by a major theme, such as timing, there are always critical subplots and unprecedented twists to consider too.

People don’t change.

They do! They definitely do! This can work out for the better of your relationship, or it can be your relationship’s undoing. Regardless, people definitely change over the years, and if you can’t find a way to evolve together, it’s probably advisable to go your separate ways.

True love is all that matters.

Let’s not be ridiculous. There is so much else in life that matters. So many world issues have absolutely nothing to do with love. However much you hate politics or sports or mathematics, those things matter. The drudgery of day-to-day domestic life matters, too. Basically, everything matters, including love.

P.S.: That would be all for now. If you have any thoughts about the notions presented, please feel free to express them in the comments below.

Photo credits: Google photos/teamsquatchinusa.com

 

Love Isn’t Always the Answer

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FOREWORD: Today begins the month of love again. In view of the occasion, I shall be writing about the said subject  matter this month of February. Here’s the first installment from (hopefully) the few areas/topics about Love which I’m planning to write about. If you liked/loved this article, or have  some related opinions to express, please feel free to leave your comments below.

LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS THE ANSWER.

I get why everyone wants love. Why we all expend so much time, energy, effort and money on dating and attracting a mate. Why we all dream of Happily Ever After. Why girls shriek upon news of a friend’s engagement, and cry at almost every wedding. Why people gossip about breakups and in places where its legal, stigmatize divorce, as if splitting up were the most tragic thing that could happen to two people. Why we shun relationship realities and hide behind hashtag proclamations about how proud we are of our significant others.

Love is a wonderful drug. It can be truly amazing to find it, and give in to it — to soak in its enigmatic powers and revel in the feeling that this. Is. It. To feel as if you’ve finally unlocked the secret to happiness. That you’ve discovered purpose in a potential life partner.

We all want a partner. Someone to lean on for support. Someone to count on as a permanent plus-one. Someone to vent to. Someone to celebrate achievements with, big and small. Someone to make love with.

But love isn’t the answer to all things. And it can’t fix your life.

It can’t. It might make things better, especially in the beginning, when you first find that person you’re pretty sure you can do forever with. Early love really does have a way of making the whole world look a hell of a lot brighter. When you’re smitten, annoying tasks suddenly don’t seem like such a pain in the ass. Pleasant activities somehow become yet more rewarding.

But infatuation doesn’t last, not even for the most love drunk people on the planet. We know this. And yet, we forget it again and again. Lust eventually dissipates. When it does, it’s replaced by comfort, shared experiences and more and more treasured memories. Also, fighting, jealousy, temptation, doubts and relationship fatigue.

Lasting love is certainly possible, but not if you expect love to do all the work for you. And not if you refuse to understand love’s limits.

Love doesn’t transform your entire reality. It doesn’t make you a different person, solve all your problems, or erase your past mistakes. If anything, it creates additional struggles. Love isn’t always pretty. It can be downright ugly. It isn’t a Band-Aid for emotional despair. In fact, it wreaks havoc on people’s psyches in a lot of cases. It isn’t a reason to live. Actually, it can drive people to kill. Crimes of passion are a real thing. Love breeds kindness and passion and beauty. But it also breeds nastiness, darkness and even hate.

We all want love, and we all deserve it. But you shouldn’t expect your entire world to change magically as soon as you find it.

We want love to be greater than it is. We want it to be this transcendent force that unites us as human beings, even as it tears us apart. We want it to make life worth living. We want it to heal our pain. We want it to imbue our existence with meaning. But the truth is, you have to do all of that for yourself.

We all want love, and we all deserve it. But you shouldn’t expect your entire world to change magically as soon as you find it. Yes, certain aspects of life are immediately “awesomer” once you find a perpetual partner in crime. But love isn’t always the answer. Often, the answer is simply hard work. Or introspection and personal growth. Sometimes, the answer is good-bye. Sometimes, it’s just plain no.

The life you lead is determined by the sum of the choices you make. Some of those choices relate to the people you decide to love. But so many others have nothing to do with love at all.

Don’t live for love. If you expect it to fulfill you, or pressure the people you love to make you feel whole, you’ll end up gravely disappointed, and, most likely, alone. Love is wonderful, but it isn’t everything. Fiction’s greatest love stories are literally unbelievable. The greatest love songs are inspired, but reductive.

Love is not all you need. You have other needs, and only you can see to it that all of those needs are met. So look inside yourself and figure out what you want out of life. Then commit as much time, energy, effort and financial resources to making that other stuff happen as well.

By all means, find someone to love. Just don’t forget to find yourself at some point, too.

Continue to Live and Love in BIG WAYS in your current world.

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With age comes the choice of moral responsibility.

How do you want to live your life? What will make you happy? How do you want to be treated? What do you want to leave behind? These were the questions I grew up with. They are phrased and asked in such a simplistic way that simple answers like “I want to take walks after dinner with my wife” or “I want everyone to have equal rights and opportunities” feel pretty logical. The fact that it’s not that easy is my reminder that it’s okay not to have answers to questions that don’t quite fit.

The main question I have been asking myself lately is, what choice do you want to make? Each day, each hour, we have choices to make. What to wear, what to say, where to go, who to meet, and what to dedicate our time to. It’s a constant puzzle of making a choice, finding out if it feels good or bad, then choosing again. Sometimes it really comes together, and other times nothing quite fits correctly. The reminder to take a step back, re-examine the puzzle, and try again is all we can do.

Whether you’re figuring out the best method to get every member of the family work harmoniously together, the next strategy in enjoining camaraderie in the workplace, how to pay for dinner tonight, or what your city/local council really does, etc., they are all choices. It can feel overwhelming to digest them all at once. Much like the brain hole that is social media, we are constantly scrolling through a list of self-reflections while literally scrolling through snippets of horrific news, filtered photos, and a constant stream of culture, history and events. And with every choice comes a million more choices.

That’s not the scary part. This is: The part where I have to make choices, for myself. Do I allow myself to turn my brain off and watch a movie whose sole purpose is to entertain me? Do I take a different commute to work without a book or headphones and engage with strangers? What social justice organization do I want to learn more about and donate to? Can I really afford that? Is it normal to not want to talk to anyone all day? What should I wear to the party? How much news can I absorb and still get up and fight whatever powers there’d be that are deemed responsible?

I certainly don’t have the right answers, because there may not be just one. I can confidently say I want to choose to do more, learn more, love more, lead more, inspire more and engage more. I want to stand up to and break down inequality and injustice. I want to woo the love of my life and fall in love with her all over again. I want to adore my job and feel pride in what I create. I want to go camping and dive from a cliff and ride in a helicopter and go to rallies and get a cat and learn guitar and do something that made someone’s day a little better, so on and so forth. I want to do it all. Yet I want to feel comfortable knowing the fact that I CAN’T DO IT ALL.

Learning that I can’t fix everything feels like life’s cruelest lesson. I CAN’T single-handedly end the culture of abuse and injustice. I CAN, however, make choices that educate others on consent and upholding pride and dignity in every individual. I CAN’T fix a friend’s broken heart. But I CAN bring them a bottle of wine and listen. I CAN’T expect others to help me with my choices. Yet, I CAN surround myself with people who respect my choices and learn with me.

Maybe, despite my age, I haven’t figured out how to truly be an adult, but I am slowly getting better at feeling ok with not knowing. And while I have been told I should be better at asking for help, I don’t think it is help I am looking for. How do you even begin to ask for help when people are struggling to sustain their daily lives? How do you complain about debt when you live in a world full of violence and injustice? The “help” is reading about a scholarship a student just received. Or seeing my family or friends huddled in a room sharing funny stories. It’s getting daily emails of positive ways to lift up an organization, or organizing a local fundraiser. What helps me make good choices is seeing the good choices of those around me and those who inspire the hell out of me. It’s seeing how choices affect others and learning how to make better ones in the future.

What helps is stepping back from the puzzle and taking it one piece at a time.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe it took me nearly 1,000 words to say that life has thus far taught me one critical lesson: In every turn, make better choices.

Photo credits: Google photos