What Would Love Do?

So how can we keep our relationships fresh?  In a time when so many are divided, perhaps we can start by adding some love to our language. By Madeline Johnson

During times like these when the world seems like an increasingly hostile place the disillusionment we feel in our hearts may ignite the desire to disconnect, isolate and retreat from others.

We might be starving for deep conversation but avoid so many opportunities to connect. We shy away from many topics – relationships, politics, the environment, economics – because we are so divided. We dare not stir things up or cause confrontation.

Be that as it may, we are innately social creatures, hardwired to seek each other out and profoundly shaped by our relationships.

So how can we keep our relationships fresh?  In a time when so many are divided, perhaps we can start by adding some love to our language.

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Seriously, when moments need mending, we might ask ourselves, What would love do?

Well for starters love might connect with a smile, send out a compliment and turn up the positive energy.

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Love might seek to build rapport with others – looking for ways to connect with commonality –  instead of repelling each other with problems and differences.

What would love do?

Love would tell a joke, laugh a little more, aim to lighten up hearts.

Love is bold and remains courageously open and admits vulnerability.

Love knows that while you are not going to get along with everyone you can adjust your expectations and maintain a level of respectful decorum.

Love is more civil and rises above the irrational.

The language of love remains calm and it doesn’t engage with just anything. Love never gets emotionally hijacked.

Love maintains a perspective and melts into this very moment, one beat at a time.

Love leans in and innately knows that people are covering up. Love looks for clues in every thing said and unsaid.

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Super Inspiring  Atlas of Emotions

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The Atlas of Emotion was commissioned by the Dalai Lama, his purpose is “ In order to find the new world we needed a map, and in order for us to find a calm mind we need a map of our emotions”. The simple, but not easy, goal of this Atlas is to help us be aware of our emotions. Awareness of our emotions means understanding how they are triggered, what they feel like and how we respond. Awareness itself is a strategy, it helps us understand our emotion experiences

Featured Artist

Mike Worrall

Your Courageous Heart

I think it would amazing if we all came with operating instructions. A dashboard or a manual for our hearts by Madeline Johnson

You have to have a pretty strong, tough, courageous heart to love another person deeply. To commit your being to another. Oh and then to have it smashed and broken by them and to be brave enough to fall in love again.

Humans, they’re tricky.  We all are.  What is this fickle falling in and out of love thing we do?

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I think it would be amazing if we all came with operating instructions. A dashboard or a manual for our hearts. Something that could show our significant other that deep down, we all need the essentials – to feel love, appreciated and accepted.

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Read Simple Reminders

So what happens when we don’t feel loved? When we don’t feel like we are getting the love we need? The respect we want?

We feel threatened and we feel vulnerable. We fear being abandoned, rejected, thrown away. Discarded.

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The more vulnerable we feel, the more we want to run.  Sometimes in the heat of an argument, we lash out.

We say such harmful words when we are angry. Words we don’t really mean.

Why?

Because words are powerful and we think they will protect our hearts, they will shield us from heartache and protect our need to feel loved and accepted.

Why we think it works.

Because it does. Temporarily.  Until it doesn’t.

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Think about it. What’s more powerful than telling someone that you are done with them, you are leaving?  It’s over. I’m out of here.

Look at how powerful you look when you say or do that threaten to leave thing you do out of fear. You were the one to say it first. You won. You protected your heart.

Now they can’t hurt you. Momentary relief and then comes regret. You didn’t really mean that.

What you really wanted to say . . .

You mean so much to me. I am scared you will leave me. I am afraid you won’t love me.  I don’t want you to manipulate me. I need you to accept me. Why won’t you work this out with me? Don’t you really love me?

So why do we rage at the ones we love? Threaten to leave. Break up?

Because we are terrified.

Where did you learn such behavior?

These poor coping skills were learned from watching others. From past relationships.

This lack of self-awareness and emotional maturity creates disasters. Disasters that keep failing forward into relationships all over the world.

A Better Way to Protect Your Heart

It begins with understanding yourself better. Knowing what you are afraid of and facing that fear head on. The second step. Showing the world that vulnerability.

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Perhaps you have had your heart broken. Maybe you were hurt badly by someone in the past. Anyone – your mom, your dad, your uncle, sister, brother, friend. . . .

Perhaps you were abandoned.

You made a sworn promise to yourself – that will never happen again. I will be loved, accepted and cherished for who I am. I will never be left alone again.

When you are threatened you have a choice. You can try to scream your feelings from the roof tops and curse your way into a frightening rage to be heard or you can softly surrender and open your vulnerable heart to another.

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Read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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Flip side: What you need to know if you are really being manipulated.

Featured Art

Tomoki Hayasaka is a self-taught artist and designer from Sendai Japan. He makes surreal-conceptual art and design.

It’s a Good Day, All Day

Understanding what triggers you emotionally and setting yourself up for a good day. By Madeline Johnson

Mondays can bring so much promise. Like a new year, Mondays can offer a clean slate. A fresh start. A chance to begin again as you plot and plan for a better, more productive week.

Setting out to have a good day, a good week or a good year begins with a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. It starts with knowing who you are and how you will navigate your day to get where you want to go. You understand there will be inevitable distractions.

You need to know what sets you off. What disrupts your day. What makes you feel angry, needy, shutdown and frustrated. What triggers a bad mood for you.  Anything that makes you experience a negative emotional response that could pull you off course.

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Understanding how you react to people and situations throughout the day will help you identify patterns in your life and develop a better understanding of the events in your life that usually lead to a problem, similar to what Mei does at work. Mei is an artificial intelligence messaging assistant that warms of personality changes based on communication with co-workers.

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Knowing What Set’s You Off

What triggers you? It’s important to identify when you feel the need to be accepted by others, understood, in control of the situation, paid attention to, at peace. Understand if it is important for you to have things in order, to feel safe and secure, to have a bit of fun during the day. Are you getting the respect you think you deserve? Do you feel like your talents are needed?

Do you always need to feel right? Are you comfortable? Calm? Do you feel as if your life is balanced? Are you spending too much time on work and not enough with your friends? Is your life way too predictable? Are you a bit bored with what you are doing?

Could you use a bit of challenge in your career? Your relationship? Are you feeling like you are liked, valued and being treated fairly by others?

Does everything feel a bit too chaotic around you? Like something could break, crack or fall apart at any minute?

Do you believe that others are ignoring you? Avoiding you? Do you feel included?

Make it your mission to understand how you operate.

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If at any point during the day you feel out of sorts, off, emotionally frustrated, take a pause.  Breathe deeply. Calm your mind. Don’t get so worked up.

Try sitting up straight and breathing deeply to the count of six. Breathe through your nose for six counts and out your mouth for six. Go slowly. Deep, deliberate inhalations and exhalations. This will calm you down.

Take a moment to understand what you need right now? Do you need to be patient? More tolerant? Less tolerant? Perhaps you need to explain yourself again? Let others know how you feel? Show some compassion? Walk away?

Before you take action, question your own thinking. Know if what you are thinking and feeling is actually true, or if it is a projection of what you negatively think is true.

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What might trigger you?

  • Someone rejecting you.
  • Someone leaving you (or the threat that they will).
  • Helplessness over painful situations.
  • Someone discounting or ignoring you.
  • Someone being unavailable to you.
  • Someone giving you a disapproving look.
  • Someone blaming or shaming you.
  • Someone being judgmental or critical of you.
  • Someone being too busy to make time for you.
  • Someone not appearing to be happy to see you.
  • Someone coming on to you sexually in a needy way.
  • Someone trying to control you.
  • Someone being needy, or trying to smother you.

Read more here

You’ll probably want to avoid them, but find out why they are behaving the way they are – and why you are reacting they way you do.

Realize everyone is trying to trigger you.

Advertisers and marketers bake emotional triggers into their brand messaging. They know how strong emotional triggers will motivate you to act from feelings like fear and desire.  These emotions have effect on you, whether it’s feeling like your life is lacking excitement, adventure and love from an Instagram story to feeling like you are a lonely, loser and not enough from a YouTube ad. The messages are incessant. Turn them off.

Getting a leg up on emotional triggers. Face them . . .

  • Do the most important things first this morning. Understand what you need to do vs what you want to do.
  • Watch what you tolerate.
  • Expect yourself to be triggered by something or someone and have a plan. Avoid or face it.
  • Spend some time alone during the day.
  • Practice being more compassionately assertive.
  • Decide how you will respond to how others mistreat you. Not react. Respond.
  • Try to understand others. God only knows what they are going through.
  • Protect your time at all costs. Tech apps below to do just that.
  • Let others know when you won’t be available. Make something up – like you have an important meeting to go to. They won’t know. Or tell the truth. You are working on something big and need to focus.
  • Decide what you will pay attention to today. If you can, put your phone on airplane mode for a while.

Be strong.

8 Things Mentally Strong People Do Everyday

Technology to help you say no to distractions and to help you have a better day, all day.

Freedom app helps you protect your time, so you can focus on getting things done during the day.

One Big Thing ensures that you focus on your main priority, that one big thing, all day long.

Headspace is like a gym membership for your mind. 10 minutes of meditation a day to help burn off the busy in your brain.

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Featured Art

Indonesia based artist Roby Dwi Antono works meticulously in painting, illustration, and drawing.  His paintings are especially detailed, depicting dreamy scenes.

Sending Out Good Vibes

Your energy is your responsibility. Love more. By Madeline Johnson

Day 4. 2019. New habit. Shine. Be the light. Give off better vibes. Be more loving. Let’s see how they react. Can simply being nicer up the ante? Improve the experience. Now is the time to sprinkle just a bit more love sauce and compassionate spice into each conversation.  Please don’t rush off the phone. Take a moment to text a friend. Smile at a stranger. Give one big, no huge hug. Yeah, let’s do this.

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Read Poetry by Nikita Gill

Reference Leaving a Legacy of Love

Artwork by Ray Caesar, digital artist

 

 

 

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

Such a refreshing thought – to actually meet someone who is genuinely real and speaking the truth.  Now that is some rare shit.

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Sometimes the very people we are closest to become unreal to us. We might easily assume we know what life is like for them and forget that, like us, they are always changing, their experience is always new. We lose sight of how fully they too are living with hurts and fears, how hard life can be on the inside. – excerpt from Radical Acceptance 

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Now I’ve been accused of being too tough on my family.  My tone too harsh . . . .coming in too hot. . . way too aggressive, they cry.   I’m not soft enough, gentle enough, kind enough.  I don’t give them enough room to be human.

I have also been described by my family as angry, enraged, and demanding and someone who can never be pleased.  This in turn has made me a lightening rod for blame.

It’s a terribly messy situation and it has also alienated me quite a bit.

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Recognizing Our Humanmess & Pulling Our Emotional Weight 

I had to ask myself, am I really that emotionally insensitive? or . . . .am I perhaps emotionally exhausted, with very little patience to have the “tell me what I want to hear conversations“. You know how they go.  The one you where you are trying to give some good sensible advice and it sucks all of your time and energy. . .and the troubled one cries, moans and complains and then goes on to make even bigger, unavoidable mistakes.

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Now having a mentally-ill ex who uses the children as weapons does nothing to elevate the family dynamics one bit.  He is sick, he is weak and the weak grasp onto anything they can to stay afloat. It’s truly painful and pitiful and annoying as hell.

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Growing up with a bullet-proof, hard-headed immigrant family I have been trained to do one thing and one thing only. When we have a problem we fix it. Simple as that. No added drama and delusional ego defense tactics. We simply make the repairs. . . . we change our behavior, our environment, our thinking, whatever it is we need to do, including removing ourselves from the messes left behind.

I was taught to humbly take complete ownership for myself, my life and my actions.

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Yet I do believe it is okay to ruminate for a solution and to sometimes overthink things – -but it’s not okay to go around thinking badly or poorly. The world is not out to get us. The real problem is you, it is very, very rarely what happens to you.

This lack of desire to sit with another and hold space for them for a very long time, when they do nothing to face their challenges – is the issue.

You see when I think about their complaints about me, I realize its not just my tone that they don’t like.  It’s how they interpret the tone.  When I am firm, they hear you’re not good enough, you’re a mess, you are just terrible and you really don’t have it together” and there in lies the suffering – the sever in the relationship.

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Stuck, it’s my lack of desire and willingness to placate them. To sit with their suffering. To buy into their woe is me helplessness.

For this I have been pegged as emotionally unaware, arrested in my growth and a non-compassionate person. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. I am wildly compassionate and loving but also a huge fan of the being absolutely honest with ourselves.

So, I do two things at once. I call bullshit on their desire to expect me to sit and stir the pot of sadness and sorrow that they decided to make for dinner and eat for left overs.

But, more importantly, I apply a bit of compassion to their pain and suffering by asking myself two questions before we begin –

What does she need right now?

What does this person fear right now?

These two questions help bring us closer together as humans.

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To Regain the Sureness of Your Soulfooting

I regain the steadiness of my soulfooting
When I feel this rapture of being alive.

– from the poem River Ride by Patti Auguste Hallowell

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“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

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Beautiful things I love about me.

My childlike enthusiasm and my a joie de vivre.

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My inner Glow with God.

I love my spirit that shines through with contagious and infectious optimism.

I honor my divine intelligence and love and oh how now you can see my soul so clearly.

My soul spark shines and breathes fresh air now.

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Free to be me with every beautiful new human encounter entered with the intention of honesty and love.

The best type of truth is told with thoughtfulness, a touch of tolerance and tenderness.

Silly, stupid human.  We think the truth has to be raw, harsh, angry and loud.  Something to fear, because you can’t handle the truth. No. No. No.

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You can handle the truth.

Truth can be whispered, softly, gently, and directly to the soul of another.

Let the world change you, so you can change the world.

-Motorcycle Diaries 2004

 

 

Featured Art

 

 

Relationship Accountability and Gathering a Tribe of Trusted Friends

Oh she bailed, she got too busy.” “Yeah he just cancelled last minute.” “Yup she never showed.” “No, he’s not going to make it.” My daughters tell me they have had these kind of people in their lives. Oh Lord. Why didn’t I teach them that the world can sometimes be a dirty place?

Which brings up something I have been thinking about. Relationship Accountability.

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I hope this is not happening, but it seems like the standards for relationships have dropped incredibly low. I mean, say hello to your mirage friend (or lover). Your flake friend. They make seemingly concrete plans, genuinely act like they’re thrilled to see you and then, out of nowhere (and usually with very short notice), tell you whoops, they can’t make it. The concept of seeing them IRL is an illusion, and you keep falling for it. So why do you still hold onto them?

I have no idea why you do that. Well, it might have something to do with the fact that most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves. They have what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” where they believe factors outside of them dictate the direction of their lives.

But what I do know for sure is that it feels like it is time to raise relationship standards for good.

While everyone’s talking about how we need to stay away from the negative ones and let go of the toxic naysayers. Yes, “just release them” they say.  Sure, I get it. I mean . . .

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And’ then there’s just so much  being thrown around social about removing the low vibers, those that are holding you back and keeping you down. All you have to do is pluck them like a random brow in-between waxing appointments and bam you will be much more successful in your life. Sure.

No, I think that is part of it, but then there is the seeking new friends. Finding those that stretch you some.

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Now, I’ve been contemplating this after being gravely disappointed by some people in my life.  Yes I plucked them, but there is still so much to be done.

Now, I wasn’t going to let their ridiculous fuckery and bad behavior hold me back from  gathering a tribe I can trust.  No, their lack of integrity fueled a west coast fire under my ass to find higher quality people.

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So, like many of you, I am on a quest to upgrade my relationship goals. I will choose quality over quantity any day of the week. Of course that led to question what type of friend, person, lover do I need to be in order to attract these so called “quality” people into my life?

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I was ignoring a pushy guy’s text messages. A “friend” who wants more. A friend that  I went out to dinner once. My daughter said I was ghosting.  Now, if you’re not in a relationship, can you ghost someone? Again, I have no idea, but back to the goal of finding people with accurate moral compasses.  The question – just how do I bring the good ones together, the friends that will actually add to my life and visa versa. I mean seriously, where do we find these wonder people? These five-star frienders and lovers?

In Search of Deeper Connections

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I have two really beautiful friends from high school who both had what seemed to be perfectly wonderful marriages. As a matter of fact, from the outside, their relationships looked dreamy. They had everything. No crappy drama, no binge drinking BS, no lying and cheating. . .yeah, none of that. Then, one day out of the blue, the ladies just dumped their men curbside. It was so random. Seriously. Really? When I prompted them with a why?  They said they didn’t feel the “connection” anymore and that they were looking for something deeper.

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Which of course got me thinking about why I wasn’t looking for something “deeper“?

Meaningful relationships. Deeper connections. True friends and lovers. It just sounds so amazing. Why wouldn’t we want them? If we are hell bent on living a more fulfilled life we really need them, but we shouldn’t romanticize them as something they are not. All relationships are messy, complicated at times and if you think about it, relationships require us to work at being thoughtful, kind and considerate. We can’t get lazy if we want to gather a tribe we can trust.

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Come to think of it, I am not so sure how “deep” of a relationship I have ever had with anyone, but that is the point. I am curious about just how deep I can go with another human while trusting and loving as much as openly possible and stretching to be a five star version of me.

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Lovers who eat the world by Mariano Pecciniti

Featured art by the harmlessly crazy Tom Repalsky

On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

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This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

Emotions Over Thoughts and A Softer Way to Communicate

How to follow your intuition by becoming more mindful.

Three things I am working on right now.

Soul Singing

Question: What does my soul say today?

My soul doesn’t speak in thoughts. No, not at all. These thoughts that clutter my mind are just residual pain left over from the things I haven’t let go of yet. Thoughts of conflicts yet resolved.

My soul speaks in feelings, emotions, images, sounds, clues.

My soul speaks to me when I feel deep sadness, frustration, anger, contentment and happiness.

I can feel, see, taste, touch and listen to my soul when my mind is silent.

That’s why I meditate.

Weeding my mind garden so there is more room for a soul orchestra.

Good feelings can’t grow from grudges. Pure thoughts don’t come from residual pain.

These are the feelings from stories feared.

Letting these thoughts drift on by, help me weed my mind garden and clear the soil for a more softer, gentler and more compassionate state of being.

Recovering from the violent ways in which we communicate.

Judging, blaming, demanding, critiquing, name-calling.

Talk about your karma baby.

Softer thoughts lead to kinder words. Seeking more non-violent ways to communicate.

Inspired by Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss & Turning Your Mind Into An Ally by Sakyong

Mipham

More Beautiful for Having Been Broken & Being Seduced By Our Own Storylines

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken objects using gold or silver epoxy. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful. 

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I’ll never forget the first time one of my twin daughters had her heart broken. She was all of 16 and completely devastated. I remember her face as she curled up in my bed, in physical pain, her head in the pillow and eyes swollen with tears, hand on her heart, she said, “Now I know WHY they call this a broken heart,” “It actually feels BROKEN in my body.” Shattered like glass.

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After someone breaks up with us, we can feel very, very lonely.  Abandoned, rejected, thrown away. What are we do to with this deep seated pain?

I am studying Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice For When Things Fall Apart.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down. 

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An inspiring tale of self-discovery, I have read The Alchemist.

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Next on my reading list. . . .

The Middle Way & The Manual for The Warrior of The Light

Paul Warrior