Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

The Risk Of Friendship

There is a conference happening next weekend in Chicago called “When Jesus met Mary – A sacred friendship gathering”. It is a conference exploring friendship between men and women. Here is the link from the website of Dan Brennan.  Dan is an author and leader of this event – he is also a new friend of mine, and I have enjoyed his blog articles and things he has written on the subject of men and women.

This has been a subject of much debate over the years – emotional affairs seem to be on the rise – especially in churches and among leadership.  Can a relationship between a man and a woman who are NOT married – be just a friendship?  Can they love each other, be concerned and care about each other?  Be involved in their daily life, share humor, special moments and kindness?  I believe they can.  My friend and fellow blogging buddy Alise Write wrote a great article on the subject today of “Guard your heart” – what does it really mean?  To put a fence around it – or to love recklessly and on the wild side – like Jesus did?

We all have a story – or know someone who does, where it taints our idea of platonic love between the sexes.  I get it.  And it is a risk to love someone – regardless of gender.  But I believe with all my heart that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that we can love – with no fear – like Jesus did.  Where the end result is a deep and lasting friendship.  Is it a risk?  Yes – all the time.  I’ve risked myself several times, been misunderstood, been betrayed, humiliated and accused – because of someone’s fear.  But I believe that there can be a safe place to have others in our lives – where understanding, respect, kindness, gentleness and love – compel us to do right – not wrong.  And I believe that day is coming – as we move past our fear of sin where we bind up the protection of our heart so tight that no one can get in – and where every one of the opposite sex looks menacing and evil – and into a better place of community and relationship where we don’t think of others as “scary”, “sinful” or “just wrong”.

As I’ve written about before – I have had several male friends in my life – before I was married and since.  I still have several that I consider very close friends – who I can count on – and I know would have my back in any crisis or situation.  They are stable, kind, funny and solid.  And I love being able to be myself with them with no judgement.  I love that I don’t have to explain myself to them – and I love it that Greg agrees that all of these men are good people – and he is friends with them as well.  There is no room for jealousy in our marriage – and we have done the hard work to rid ourselves of that – and we have a better marriage because of it.

I’m hoping there will be a day when this subject is an understood one – where people can agree to love deeply and build relationships based on trust and the common good. Where friendship is not seen as suspicious, because of so much abuse – but instead looked on with acceptance and love.

I want to challenge you today:  Live a life of love – of intentional relationship – with no fear.  Take the risk of friendship.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

God Bless

Never Assume

English muffin on a salad plate with table knife.

Image via Wikipedia

It all started with a simple english muffin.  A misunderstanding and an example for my blog today.  But first – I have to go back a few years…

I remember taking classes on the subject “never assume” when I worked for a cable company years ago.  The simple concept stuck with me – and I try to be clear in my intentions and words to people.  But I am not always successful.

In my own business, I have a written contract stating the obvious, things like payment, make-up lessons and what is expected and have students and parents sign it.  I learned the hard way that when it is business – you must never assume that everyone can read your mind and know what your intentions are.   Before using a contract – it was very difficult to collect the monthly fee from those who would start and not finish out a 3 month period – which I now require in my contract.  I would “assume” they would understand and just somehow know my heart.  Yeah right.

In the cable company, where I was office manager – it was important to train our staff to speak clearly and never assume that you had covered an issue – or that others could read their minds – when things like payment and appointment times were in question. Many times we were caught in the “I thought you knew that, sir” – and the  “you never said that” game.

At home and with our families – this concept again came into play MANY times – especially with young children.  Greg and I thought we had told them something – and they were quick to say, “you never said that” – on many issues regarding school, friends coming over and just about everything else you can name.

It puts me in mind of the Brady Bunch show of the late 60’s and early 70’s – where the eldest son Greg wants to go out and his dad asked him to rake leaves or some chore before he left.  Greg didn’t do the chore but went out – got caught and then proceeded to tell his father that he was not very clear about the exact time that he had to do the chore and insisted that he was SURE his dad had meant before bed – and it was still before bed and he had planned all along to do it when he got home.  It baffled and confused his dad so much (all teenagers are good at letting us thing that WE are the crazy ones) that he decided to make a deal with Greg and have him live by EXACT words.  He warned Greg that living by this method is difficult to live up to – but they made the bargain and it ended up costing Greg in the end of the program as he had to miss something important with his own exact words to do a chore for his dad.

I have tried to use exact words with my own children – but every once in a while – we too would do the same dance that Greg on the Brady Bunch did with his own dad.

I have found that it’s not just limited to children either.  Yesterday morning I was making a big breakfast, hash browns, ham, eggs, the works and got the english muffins out of the freezer.  Greg was standing over by the toaster making coffee.  I placed the muffins on the counter right beside him and said, “do you want english muffins with breakfast?”  He mumbled something that sounded like “Sure – Okay” – what I really meant was: “please take the muffins out of the package and place them in the toaster and PUSH DOWN”  Greg did not read my mind – or catch my drift and just walked away to another room.  A few minutes later when I was dishing up the breakfast on plates – I looked around for the toasted and buttered muffins – and to my surprise – they were STILL in the package where I placed them!

We had a good laugh over that one – and I should know by now that I can never assume that people (Greg) understands even the hints that I drop – when it seems more than reasonable to me.

When was the last time you assumed someone understood what you meant?  Were you baffled by their response or lack of one?

God Bless

Talking In Code

Description: Coffee cortado (An latte art exam...

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I was out with Greg after a long exhausting day – first to a friends’ memorial service and then to a wedding – back to back.  Talk about the range of emotions!  And the day before that we had taken a long road trip to visit our new puppy.   So we went from happy to sad back to happy in a very short amount of time.

At the end of the wedding – we decided to stop at Forza, a coffee place in Puyallup, for a coffee and muffin to share.  While there, seated at a high table with matching high chairs – we were sipping our coffee and we began reflecting on the couple of days.  Because there were other customers in the coffee shop, one that was directing behind Greg’s left shoulder, I had to talk to him in “code”.

You know – the “code”.  The kind of talk that two people should understand when living with someone as long as we have.  It’s “talking” – but not really saying anything.  Smaller words – hand gestures, eye contact and facial expressions.  And because the subject was delicate and sensitive – especially the memorial service – I was trying to be “discreet”.

Women totally understand this “code” and use it often.  For example, when I’m with my daughter in public – all we have to do is look at each other – or she raises her eyebrows and looks at something and I know EXACTLY what she means.  All in a “look”.

What I forgot when using this “code” on Greg is that he most definitely is NOT a woman.  Nor does he understand the “code” at all.  It was disheartening and hilarious at the same time.  Here I was trying to be “discreet” and all sly, using gestures and silent communication – thinking, “he will get this – he looks interested, but puzzled – but I’m sure he’s just mulling it over” – so I kept going.  Only to have him (some minutes later) say to me, “Huh? – I don’t get it”

I realized that this “code” works only for women – and occasionally I forget that Greg is NOT like me – but he’s a MAN.  Oh – I know that he’s a man – and believe me – I wouldn’t want it any other way – but sometimes it’s frustrating because he doesn’t use the “code”.

We ended the conversation with much laughter – all the way out to the car – me explaining that I didn’t want the WHOLE coffee shop knowing what I was trying to be discreet about.  And  S P E L L I N G   I T   O U T  wouldn’t exactly have been the best way to do this.  It was a great moment for both of us – and showed us that as much as we get along and are great friends – he will NEVER be able to think like a woman – and I will NEVER be able to think like a man.

No, I will need my daughter and woman friends – if I want to talk in “code” out in public – and maybe it’s better this way, after all 🙂

Have you ever used a “code” when talking in public?  Has someone used the “code” on you”  And if you’re a man reading this, you’re probably saying, “What is a “code”?”

God Bless

When Is It MY Turn? Please Pass The Teddy Bear!

Teddy Bear

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of years ago Greg and I attended a counseling retreat – that concentrated on intense communication between married couples.  We got to know several couples at this retreat in all stages of marriage – who had lost the ability to effectively communicate.  The retreat was led by a couple of counselors who had many suggestions to encourage the communication and health between spouses.

One such technique was using a teddy bear.  The spouse that had possession of the teddy bear – could do ALL the talking without interruption.   It was a “safe zone” for the spouse that held the bear.   And as long as they held it – they could do all the talking.  After they were done – they would pass the bear to their spouse and their spouse would be given the same treatment while holding the bear – no interruption – no fear.  This required intense listening – and validation to the partner who was speaking.  The idea being of course, that partner with the bear would affirm the other and say, “I hear what you’re saying….” or “I understand how you could feel that way…” thus verifying that they really heard – and not just sitting there thinking of something else.

Until last night – we had not used this communication technique and had almost forgotten about it.  We were having what you might call a “difference of opinion” and I could see that the “discussion” was going no where – no one really listening to the other at all.  No – in fact – we were both talking at each other – no positive interaction or exchange.  The discussion had pressed some “fear” buttons and immediately we went into a very familiar “dance” of words and programmed responses brought on by what we were interpreting as non-validation.  It was easy for us to slip into, “What???  I did not say that!” or “You ALWAYS say that”  “You’re not hearing me” or “That did NOT happen like that” etc.  This went on for some time until I remembered the retreat – grabbed a teddy bear that usually sits on the pink wing-backed chair in our entry way and grasped him firmly.   I brought him into the family room where Greg was sitting on the couch and announced, “I have the teddy bear”.

Of course this brought smiles and chuckles of recognition from him – but he continued to talk, saying, “HEY – I wasn’t through!”  “You know the rules”  I said, “The one in possession of the teddy bear – gets to speak”.

And so we continued in this fashion – smiling the whole time – but also realizing that there is something to this after all.  A “safe zone” where the one in possession can speak freely without interruption – forcing the other to really listen and NOT say anything.  It forces one to “button the lip” as it were.

It was amazing what happened after that – maybe the mood was different – maybe we both just started listening more – I don’t know, but I do know that we were able to dig a little deeper into some past issues that had been lying dormant – all with the bear on our laps.  And it was not long before the real issue came out and we were able to identify it – with no fear – only validation and recognition.

There is something about a teddy bear.  Ask any child who has one.  They are sweet – and you want to hug them.  They make you smile and feel like a child again.  And you just cannot be mad at a person who is holding one – try it and see if you can!

There are many methods to resolving marital conflict – this is just one that seems to really work – because it is a visual reminder that unless you are holding the bear – you cannot talk – you have to listen, be supportive and validate the one talking.  And I suppose that is at the heart of most miscommunication – wanting to be validated and feel heard.

Next time you have a disagreement – try bringing a teddy bear into the room with you – and suggest that your spouse hold it – and then really listen as they talk.  It will amaze  you as you feel the tension in the room lighten up and you find listening skills you never knew either of you had 🙂

Whose turn is it to hold the bear?

Can you sit still without interrupting until your spouse is finished speaking?

Are you one that encourages and validates your spouse?

Try it today!

God Bless

Fighting Fair

Erma Bombeck

Image by Ujwala Prabhu via Flickr

Greg and I had an interesting verbal “sparring match” this morning.  It is very healthy to have these – as I have in recent years, discovered – and yet it is still somewhat foreign soil to venture in to the murky dark abyss of this type of “healthy exchange”.  We are still pretty new to resolving our differences this way.  Even after all the years we’ve been married.  It’s easier to say nothing than to deal with some things.

We’ve been reading one of Erma Bombeck’s hilarious books on relationships and in one chapter she writes about a very humorous exchange between she and her husband where she asks him, ‘Linda and Joe have meaningful conversations – why don’t we have any meaningful conversations’?  To which they both agreed, finally that surface conversations were safer in the long run.

Sometimes meaningful conversations between men and women are at crossed purposes and it seems easier to keep it simple.    I mean, since a man is NOT a woman – by any stretch of the imagination – it is difficult to get him to THINK like one.  I believe a meaningful conversation for my husband or any other guy friend of mine would be full of facts and information – sparring about this and that – displaying and ‘peacocking’ ambitions and accomplishments – news issues or politics – or for the Christian man – a debate on scripture or strategy on church leadership and such.

But women would rather talk about how they feel about issues – relationships and don’t care so much about the facts and figures.  And if it’s a news-worthy topic – it’s usually how people feel that are being affected – world events that talk about people and not just strategy and politics for strategy and politic’s sake.  Arguing or debating is not high on our list of ‘fun things’ to do.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good sparring match – when it’s fun and harmless – debating about this or that – when it’s done right with no personal ‘shots’ or humiliating comments from the other party – and I can usually hold my own with any man on many topics – but it is difficult finding the balance in the sparring – when it’s your husband.

For some strange reason – over time, at least for us – we know how to do the “dance” of our relationship.  The things and words that push all of our buttons – and then have a hard time knowing how to defuse a situation after it IS into more than just a “healthy discussion”.  We know it’s important to not accuse and say things like, “YOU always says this” or “YOU make me feel lousy about myself when you do or say that” – instead we know to say, “I feel like bad when you say this” or “I am not liking what I think you are meaning by that” but alas.  Often times a discussion can turn south WAY before the intentions for saying the right thing is properly communicated.

I have learned how to have healthy and “meaningful conversations” with my husband out of necessity and out of survival – but sometimes we are not always successful – and occasionally – even we blow it.

Today I did not “stuff” my feelings as I would have done in years gone by – I spoke it right out!  It was a pretty stupid meaningless thing – nothing earth-shaking at all.  But it did have repercussions – as any discussion like this will.  And in frustration I heard myself saying these words, “Why can’t you be more like a WOMAN”?  Yeah right.  Really clever.  The problem is this:  Greg is my best friend – and he’s clearly NOT a woman.   He is a man.  He is also my husband.  So many problems with this arrangement – so much potential ammunition to want to KILL HIM at times – because he is A DUMB GUY!!

And so our dance continues.  I am learning to speak out when things bother me (this is so NOT like me in the past) and he is learning to dial it back a pinch when he has that incredible little imp that sits on his shoulder.  The Brat.  It’s not perfect – but it’s a life-long journey that we call marriage.

I suppose this is what they call “fighting fair” – having a healthy and meaningful exchange of words – really listening to what the other person is saying – learning what to say and what NOT to say to diffuse a situation and most of all – to remember to show a lot of love a grace when personal ego and pride are affected.  When your husband is a man and also your best friend – it’s worth the dance.

God Bless

With God’s Help, I Shall Be Myself

Cover of "Funny Faces"

Cover of Funny Faces

‎”Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that…Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
–Galatians 6:4-5 The Message

 

Found this passage of scripture yesterday on a page that I subscribe to on facebook.  I love The Message Bible because it speaks with everyday language that I can understand and more easily, apply to my life.

With life’s cares, burdens, stresses and other things – it becomes difficult to even remember who I am – what my calling is – and just how to do it.  And yet I am instructed to – BE WHO I AM.

Being who I am is difficult.  Not so much in my own head – although that can be a problem too after years of masking who I am – in order to fit it – get along with – or remain with the status quo.  Mostly it is hard because the image I project is sometimes very different from who I really am.  And my responses are carefully guarded after so long of being careful not to offend – and not to be rejected for being different.

But in this scripture I am encouraged to be me.  To do a thorough inventory of myself. Not what others see me as – or want me to be.  Not what I have carefully tried to conceal from people and even myself – but to break free from other thoughts and ideas that others would try to project on me – and just be me.

I have many stories from past ministry life that would raise the hair on the back of your neck – how others tried to muzzle me or tell me what was right for me – how to act – what to say – how to dress etc. etc.  It made me very cautious – it made me very conflicted inside.  I wasn’t sure for many years – who I was – or even if I was satisfied with being different.  Even as recent as two years ago I had a situation where again I felt free to be me – only to be blasted because I was expressing that part of me that had been shut up for so long.  I was once again muzzled and felt humiliated for my words  – by someone I thought understood and encouraged me to be me!  What a concept.  I was wrong – and my attempt at being myself and breaking free was met in the end with lack of understanding and rejection.  But the last couple of years have taught me something.  I like who I am.  I like being free to say and do what I like – without having to fit in to anyone else’s agenda or protocol.  And I have lost my fear.  Others cannot hurt me anymore in the same way.  Or silence me.  I have found myself.

And once I was satisfied with who that someone was – something great happened – the most truthful and honest me came out – I then began to evaluate my gifting according to what I had been equipped for and possess – and I began to sink into that work.

When I think about sinking into something – I think about my nice comfortable bed.  Settling in, making myself comfortable and staying a while.  In the same way – I am encouraged to settle in and make myself comfortable – stay for a while with the things and gifts that God has equipped and given to me.

Being an artist and musician – I love the next part of the verse.  I am instructed to do my ‘creative best’ with my own life – the responsibility rests inside of me.

Thank you Lord for creating me with unique abilities and gifts.  Help me find the courage to be myself – lose the fear of rejection, betrayal, and disregard from those who did not like – or did not agree – with who I am.  Help me find the freedom and safety in your warm and loving regard.  Knowing that you are smiling and cheering me on!  As I come closer and closer to being the one who you created with your purpose running through me.

With God’s help – I shall be myself.

 

God Bless

 

The Bottom Line to Social Networking

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I am an unashamed social networker.  I have heard all the horror stories just like you – and even know those who refuse to join something like facebook because of what they’ve heard.

A couple of weeks ago – my husband and I went to see the movie about the humble beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg and what has now become a multi-billion dollar company, facebook.  It takes nothing short of a genius to create something like this and build and promote it to its HUGE success today.  It’s really fascinating.  I’m not so concerned with how Mark was portrayed in this movie – it may or may not be true and I’m sure he is NOT a big ‘people person’ – he may in fact be a jerk – but no one can argue that jerk or not – he is the youngest billionaire in the world.

I remember hearing about facebook about 5 years ago – but it seemed that even then you needed to belong to a University or at least be a student somewhere to join.   None of my friends were on there.  Myspace was the big deal then – and at first I resisted having my own page.  I would look around on my daughters page and moniter like any good parent to make sure there weren’t any weird people talking to her.  Then finally I gave in and created my own page – complete with music that I liked and pictures just where I wanted them.  It was fun – and each day I was finding more and more people who I knew.

Facebook was always in the back of my mind though.  I learned from one of my friends, from Australia, that facebook was the better way to connect with people and especially those overseas.  She actually preferred it and urged me to try it.  So about 4 years ago, I did.  Not many of my friends were on 4 years ago – it was a little lonely being in my age group with a bunch of younger people – but I took a leap and just dove in.  It was fun – and like Christmas everyday when someone new would ‘add’ me – or find me.  The profile page looked quite a bit different in those days and it was fun adding little touches that made my page unique.

As the word spread about facebook to my age group – more and more people joined everyday – and what was once very sparse with people my age –  is now impressively in the lead with numbers – I’m talking about those in the 35-55 age group.  Go BABY BUSTERS AND BOOMERS!!

Here is my ‘2 cents’ about facebook:

1)  It is a social network – created to communicate and find people.  If you have a page – communicate and be social!

2)  It is NOT evil or the antichrist – built to suck out your brains, your intellect and your time.  If that is how you feel about talking to people online – you best not even email anybody.

3) It IS a tool designed for making it easier for people to connect, share pictures and information with people who you know from all over the world that otherwise it would be impossible to do.  How many people do you still keep in touch with from 20 or 30 years ago that haven’t moved at least 3 times, changed their telephone number and email so many times you can’t track them anymore.  Facebook allows you to find and stay in a person’s world and transcends moving addresses, telephone numbers and email accounts.

4)  There are privacy settings for the paranoid and for people suffering from all forms of paranoia out there.  I am being a little factitious –  obviously none of us want our identity stolen (which I have had done – and it was NOT by information on facebook – but rather through credit card residuals).  But information can be easily obtained – and most everyone can be accessed today – information and all through the internet.  You just have to be cautious – like with anything else in your life – and use common sense.  If someone wants your information – believe me.  They can get it – I’m proof of that.  We cannot live in fear – we just need to practice wisdom as with anything else.

5) For the ‘stalkers’ and people who do not want to ‘friend’ me – but want to look at my information – I’m not interested in you seeing my stuff – and I have employed the wonderful little ‘block’ application on my privacy settings.  You’re either a friend and would be proud to be on my list – or you’re not.  If there are people that you do NOT want seeing what you write about – to see pictures and things you do on  facebook – then this is very handy and I must admit – I have had to use it. I figure if they are my friends – they will already be on my list and I will let them see anything I post – and if they want to be my friend – they will send me a request – but if they are not and have no intention of being so – then they don’t have any business seeing my page.  Luckily I haven’t had to use the ‘block’ option often.  But likely you may have cause to use this option – at least once or twice.  There is also a wonderful little ‘X’ that you can click on – that allows you to ‘hide’ someone’s status updates and comments when they are  rude or vulgar.  Luckily I have only had to do this a few times.  Remember – if you do this – the person will not know that you have done it.  They do not get notified – much the same way if you have to delete a friend or even block someone – they are not notified.  It is a safe way to keep your world more private.

6) Sometimes you have to do a little ‘house cleaning’ on your friend list.  I had close to 1100 friends at one time.  No one has that many friends.  It’s crazy.  And because people have their friend lists open to everyone – it did feel a little like my information was getting out to too many people whom I did not know.  Therefore I went through my list and decided if I really knew that person and communicated with them – then they would stay.  I would ask myself, – ‘Do they ever communicate with me?  Even once in a while?  Would they care or not care if they were in my ‘world’?’  And I started thinning it out a little.  I got it down to under 700 and that is where it has remained for several months.  I have left my name so that when doing a search for my name – it will come up – but everything else is very private.  There is a good reason for this.  And I know you have your reasons too.  If you know me and want to be in ‘my world’ – then add me – otherwise I will  not add you – if I don’t know you.

7)  I have found people from days gone by that my husband and I knew 30  years ago and it has been a joy and a pleasure to welcome them and reconnect!  This is one of the simple pleasures of facebook!

8) I love connecting with good friends each and every day – to know what they’re doing and they know what I’m doing too.  It is the day and age of information exchange and this can be a very positive thing!

9) Don’t criticize what you don’t know anything about.  I don’t know how many people I have tried to convince that facebook is NOT evil – but actually a great tool for communication – and those that refuse seem very critical and even negative – thinking that all we do all day is sit on the computer and waste time.  Well – my computer is on all day but believe it or not I actually do have a life that is very busy and full.  I teach 25 students a week and am preparing again to teach music to a theater class.  I prepare lesson plans – listen to music – write on my blog – print out sheet music – practice the piano – prepare meals for my family – shop – socialize with my husband – etc. etc. etc…..  Do I ignore my friends on facebook because I have so much else to do?  NEVER.  It is a choice.  And it takes a moment to wish someone a good day – to give a word of encouragement and a smile.  I am prompt at returning my emails and messages.  Are people really saying they’re too busy to do this?  We all know people that only check their email once a month – so FRUSTRATING!!  I’m pretty busy and I still have time to answer my emails and messages and to communicate with  my friends everyday.  However – I do not show that I am online because for me – it is distracting to have someone break in and send me a message with online ‘chat’ – while I am working.  But I never ignore a message and return everyone as soon as I can.

10) Limit yourself if you are not good at ‘time-management’.  You only waste time that you allow to be wasted.  I am not a time waster – so the idea of having to ‘take a break’ from talking or encouraging someone everyday seems crazy to me – but I hear about people doing this.  Just can’t relate.  I would never take a break from being a friend to someone.  To me it’s unthinkable.  And it gives facebook and those of us that love social networking a bad name.

And finally – if you see me online – say ‘hello’ – don’t just ‘quietly observe’ so I won’t know you’re online.  I don’t know how many people have said to me, ‘I see you on facebook – you seem to be having so much fun – I don’t like to say anything, I just like to look”  Make your presence known!! – Facebook is for connecting and being social.  Stop by and let me know you’re there!  I’m not too busy to have a quick word of encouragement or to see how you’re doing.  No one should be too busy for that.

Have fun – brighten someone’s day today.  You may be the only one who does!

God Bless

Letting Go Of My Negative Self-Talk

Pecha Kucha: Positive Negative Patterns

Image by bluekdesign via Flickr

I was awake in the wee hours with some thoughts and had to immediately reach and turn on my iPhone so I could jot the ideas down on my ‘notes’ – so I wouldn’t forget them by morning!  It was annoying – but sometimes it is better to get rid of them by writing them down so they won’t be all bottled up inside my head preventing me going back to sleep – or worse yet – be all tangled up in my dreams.

These thoughts were on negative and positive self talk.

It is said that for every negative thing said to you – it takes at least FIVE positive things said to counteract the effect of that ONE negative.  What’s up with that?  But I know it’s true.  Ever had someone say someone negative to you?  You can’t get that stupid, thoughtless comment out of your head – no matter how many other people tell you how it’s not true and try to give you a positive instead.  Been there.  Done that.  Still doing it.

Because I teach piano and voice lessons – I have an interesting ‘take’ – if you will – on negative and positive reinforcement in students.  Here are some of the things I have learned in all my years of teaching.

1) It takes much more energy to re-learn something – so we work extra hard to learn something correctly the first time.

2) When the negative or incorrect passage of music has been learned – the brain has a ‘default’ to go back and play it wrong – instead of grabbing the correct way – even though you have played it a thousand times.  Negative is always what is grabbed and it has much stronger of a pull.

3) Positive comments and affirmation make a student bloom and grow – but the negative is always there and difficult to get out of their heads.

4) You don’t have to teach children to do things the wrong way.  It comes naturally.  It takes effort to do things the right way.

5) With much practice you can overcome the negative and incorrect way of doing things.  But only then.

In much the same way – you and I do not have to be taught to be negative – it is called the sin nature. We have to work hard to overcome bad thought patterns and teach ourselves through much practice to remain positive.

Because most of us (especially women) have memories like an elephant – it can become hard to break out of the past – especially if it had negative consequences for us.  Here’s what can sometimes happen to me.

1) I make a new friend in person or online.  Because of a past experience with another friend – I hold you at arm’s length and have trouble trusting you.  The friendship continues and lives are shared.  There is laughter and continued conversation as is normal between friends.  The only difference is this:  I have been hurt.  By someone who knew me.  I will say things to myself like this, ‘Oh no – you are messaging me – you are being very friendly – it seems innocent enough – but this is how another friendship started and tragically ended.  Should I trust you?  What if you betray me?  What if things I say things in confidence to you – and you reveal them to someone else – never meant for anyone else to hear?  Can I really trust you?  I trusted before – revealed parts of myself reserved for very few.  This was someone I loved and who I thought loved me – will I be burned again? – should I trust? – or shouldn’t I? – how much of me should I reveal? – Can I be truly authentic?  How much of me should I share?  How much of me is really safe – OH NO – It’s happening again – will I be crushed and hurt AGAIN?  I don’t think I could ever go through that again.  EVER!!!”  And the negative experience wins again. And I close myself off to what could be a wonderful new relationship – all because that stupid person in my past was a jerk and didn’t know how to treat me – didn’t know how to hold on to a confidence – didn’t respect me enough and ruined trust in my life for other much more deserving people.  Is it right to think that everyone is like this?  Of course not!  And they aren’t.

Or

2) Someone close to me says or writes something negative about me.  (Writing it is much worse by the way – either by email or comment)  I am crushed.  And because it is someone close in – it hurts me more.  Those not close to me cannot hurt me like this.  My self talk becomes like this, “Well I’m just not going to talk to them anymore – I will assign an ‘outer-orbit’ for them to be in – and not let them in too close – yes – that will have to work – there’s NO WAY I’m ever going to allow them to hurt me again”  And I feel justified in doing this.  After all – I have rights, right?  Again – I have given in to my emotions and the negative wins again. Is everyone critical and negative?  Of course not.  But in my mind and heart I pull away – fearful that they are.

I have trust issues – I will admit it.  I also have a willing heart that wants to trust.  That’s the negative and positive pull in my life.  The letting go of the bad and reaching for the good.  And most of all – learning the difference.  Being wise about who I let in to my world.  Learning to share things with people I can trust – those that I am sure love me and have my back and won’t get all WEIRD when things don’t go as planned.  And life goes sideways.  In the crisis periods of my life when I really need that good friend to be protective.  We all need people we can be our true selves with – and confide the deepest part of our heart.

The bottom line is that we should be able to trust.  And we should be able to let go of the negative people and comments – but it is a daily struggle to know the difference and chose wisely.  And with God’s help and guidance – it will get easier.

Here is my motto:

I will NOT let others rule me with the negative.  I will NOT allow myself to be swallowed by others who are negative.  I WILL live a positive, healthy life.  I WILL strive to see the best in others and not cower behind the memory of hurt from the past.  I WILL NOT  allow one person to destroy my joy. I WILL welcome new relationships with open arms.  Yes – I will.

Have you let go of your negative today – and embraced your positive?

God Bless

The Love Relationship

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Image via Wikipedia

I was in the gym today with Greg when he said something that sparked a long humorous conversation.  He was trying to tell me something – I didn’t hear correctly – started to interject something totally different – and he stopped me and said, ‘You’re just not hearing me – you’re not hearing my heart‘  Oh brother.  I say ‘Oh brother’ because he is saying it with TONS of sarcasm in his voice – and a chuckle at my expense!!

This has been a part of our love relationship for years now.  The differences in us that make us laugh.  Greg making fun of women – (mainly me) and imitating  all the silly ‘girly’ phrases and things we women do.  It works for him – because he always manages to get some kind of reaction from me – and he likes that.  And I tease and poke fun at him – when he becomes too serious – or too stuffy – and it always makes him laugh.

Men love to make fun of women.  Case and Point:  The movie ‘Titanic” – where the old Rose is saying about her memory of Jack (the man she loved) – ‘he saved me in every way a woman can be saved’.  Greg loves to make fun at that movie – and especially cheesy lines like that.  His first response is – ‘You’ve GOT to be kidding, right’?  But I know what she meant by that line in the movie – women get it. Women understand these deep mysteries of feelings and emotions – and Men pretend they don’t. When probed – I have discovered that men really do get it – it’s just not ‘manly’ to admit it.

Now why is this?  Men have feelings and emotions – this is for certain – and no one can hurt a man like a woman can.  Remember the recent series “Men of a certain age”?   Actor Ray Romano tells his son about women, ‘they have many ways they can hurt us”.

So if this is true – and men feel the same feelings about love and other things that we do – why is it considered weak – or ‘girly’ to admit it?  Very few men will admit to crying at a sad movie – although I’ve seen both my husband and son do it – but not many others.  Most men are guarded when it comes to expressing those ‘touchy feely’ feelings.  And I believe it is drilled into them as little boys to be tough and not show emotion.  That somehow it weakens them to admit they struggle – or have fear – or are afraid – or feel helpless in the midst of love – or can be hurt enough to cry.  Remember the song in the 70’s by the group ’10cc’ where one of the lines is ‘Big boys don’t cry’?  How sad that men believe this – how sad that they are made to feel they must be like this.

It is interesting that when you know a man – really know him – he is not afraid to reveal some of that emotion.  But he must feel safe. And just because they don’t feel like they always can express emotions like a woman can – does not mean that they don’t have them.

I’ve been married to this man of mine for 29 years this Sunday – and one of the great things I’ve discovered is this:  we are different – but we are basically the same underneath all the layers.  Our emotions are basically the same – with different reactions to pain and hurt.  We both know what it feels like to be vulnerable and misunderstood – or to be used and tossed aside.  We both understand love and relationships – and have felt all sorts of emotions in relation to each other and in raising children.  We both can still make each other laugh – and we’re great friends – even through some of the rough patches that life has thrown at us.  And that’s so nice to know. ♥

He will continue to tease and make fun – I will continue to make him scratch his head in confusion – and make him laugh – it is our dance.  And so our journey continues – with its mysteries and lessons – and its laughter. It is our story – it is our love relationship.

There’s An Elephant In The Room

Who is This? I remember the cartoon, but not h...

Image by Medusa's Lover via Flickr

There’s an elephant in the room.   No one talks about it.  No one dares.

We avoid

We run and hide

We joke

We tell stories

We change the subject

and still….

There’s an elephant in the room

This poor ignored elephant – one that used to be rather small – but because everybody refuses to acknowledge her presence –  she has become  rather LARGE!  You see – she has an inferiority complex. A Big one.  And she drowns her sorrow and disappointment in eating anything she can get her hands on.  And because people would rather walk around her – even tiptoe lightly – she has to try to stay invisible in the center of the room – and not trip anybody up.  Oh she has tried to get everyone’s attention at times.   She even tries different colors to wear so she’ll stick out more and be noticed.  I’ve even seen her painting her toe nails red – and then waving her hands and feet wildly in the air – but to no avail.  She even waved and winked at me one time too – I’m sure of it.  I just shook my head and smiled.  I mean – really – what else could I do?  She’s an elephant.

Poor, poor elephant.

I’m waiting for the day – when someone can’t take it anymore and jumps up and says, “Hey!!!  There’s a LARGE elephant in here!  Do you see her?”  But until that day….

We avoid

We run and hide

We tell jokes

We tell stories

and….

We change the subject.

No one likes an elephant – especially a LARGE one with brightly colored clothes and painted red toenails, Right?  This elephant could change everything forever.  And no one will speak up.  No one will take the risk. Better to ignore and pretend….

There’s an elephant in the room

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