The 5 Deal-breakers that I will remember for my next relationship

There’s something awesome about coming to the realization that you finally understand what it is you want/need from relationships in your life.  It’s been a slow realization for me, but to finally be able to concretely state all the things (and truthfully, there really aren’t THAT many) that I need to feel secure and content and happy within my relationships.  Specifically – a relationship with a man.  There are five in total that I’d consider deal breakers.  That if these elements aren’t there … then I will hit the breaks on a potential relationship and say “F it! I’m outta here!!”.

dealbreakers

Attention.
This should be relatively obvious, but it took me a long time to realize just how much attention I need to feel secure in a relationship.  I’m not overly needy.  I don’t need to talk constantly… but I DO need consistent, daily contact of some sort, even if it’s a brief good morning or good night.  That said – if all my contact with someone is kept to that brief, surface-level only kind of communication – I’ll need something a bit more in depth in order to balance that out and keep a connection with someone.

To note… Attention also means that when you ARE spending time with someone – they have your attention.  No phones or distractions.  They listen to what you have to say and aren’t half tuning you out in the hopes that you’ll finish your sentence so they can jump in with their own.  If you’re going to give me attention – give me your attention – and I’ll do the same for you.  Honestly, the whole “tuning out” thing is a total turn-off and if I feel like I’m not being heard – I’ll just stop talking altogether.  Why waste my time?

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Enthusiasm.
This is a two way street.  I will be enthusiastic about talking to someone and seeing them. I expect it in return – because if that is lacking – then what’s the point in trying at all? Love is already complicated enough – lack of enthusiasm about it should NOT even be a factor. I don’t want to be a consolation prize, and neither I’m sure does anyone else.  Be excited to be with me – and I’ll give you the same.  🙂

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Honesty – not just in words – but in actions.
A lack of honesty only breeds a lack of trust, and in my experience, once that happens – it’s ultimately game over.  If I don’t trust you – then I don’t respect you.  And if I don’t respect you – I will never love you.  I can be one of the most patient and understanding women.  What I think is interesting is that people who’ve struggled with this, with me, in my past – always made an incorrect assumption as to how I would react to a situation.  Had they just informed me of what was going on – I’d have been, and in turn, they’d have been fine.  Assumptions can kill things fast.  Don’t assume – give me the benefit of the doubt and TRUST that I’ll react in a way that’s respectful and compassionate towards others.

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Humility & a desire to improve.
This is more about me… I’m only human.  I will occasionally make a mistake – as we all do! The key here is that I’ll own up to mistakes I make and work to improve myself and learn and grow from the mistakes I make.  Rarely will I make the same mistake twice.  I understand this about myself, and I understand it about others.  I would hope to find someone who has that same level of understanding and compassion.

Attraction.
This is important – but it’s not all about appearance.  Do we WANT to touch each other?  Kiss each other?  I know that if I an’t keep my hands off someone – that’s a good sign – but it better be reciprocated – or else – again – what’s the point?  Sex – while not my GOAL for a relationship – is incredibly important.  I’m a firm believer that the frequency and quality of a couple’s sex life directly correlates to the overall health of their relationship.

So tell me, what are your deal breakers?

Sunday night thoughts

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Tonight I spent some time quietly just sitting and reflecting.  Truthfully, I don’t do this enough.  It has been a busy weekend.  We had friends and their children stay the weekend with us.  I don’t think the house has ever had that many people in it, let alone sleeping in it.  It was a lovely weekend, high in energy.  Today, some friends came over for a visit, we watched movies and played Uno.  It was a lovely way to finish out the busy weekend, but I think what really helped to calm and center me was simply to light a few candles and sit cross-legged on my couch and just be in the moment.

It’s interesting, society spends so much time trying to distract themselves from living in the moment.  Movies, video games, social media, food, alcohol, drugs…. all of these things we use to disappear into.  Trying desperately to fill a hole in their lives that they may not even fully realize is there, let alone have the know-how on filling it.  It would be a lie to say that I’m not one of those people.  But every now and then, typically after I’ve had a loud, overstimulating few days, I have to just stop everything and just breathe.

I think I know how to fill it.  I think it comes with time and age, and just learning to understand who you are at the core of your being.  And accepting it for what is. But I’m also good at trying to fill a void.  🙂  And there are a few for me… more than a few.  I have a rich and full life.  A wonderfully large family, whom I see often, a variety of friends who are as near and dear to me as family should be, I have my children who I have very close relationships with… even loving pets whom I adore.   And yet, sometimes, I’m lonely.  It’s silly really – as I rarely have alone time, so how on earth can one feel lonely… but it’s the honest truth.

I spent some time thinking about that too tonight.  Why do we desire to share our lives with someone else… especially when we think about the fact that the journey we each walk down is ours and ours alone.  So logically, if that’s the case, then you will never truly be able to share your life with someone.  OR… I suppose you could look at it the other way – you share your life with anyone and everyone who touches it… to what degree and the depth that you share will vary and depend on a variety of variables.  My god I sound like an engineer.  I know, I overthink everything! 🙂

I’ve been in the new house almost 3 months now.  It’s amazing how time flies.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here so much longer than that, and other times, it feels like it was just yesterday that we moved in.  I think a part of that is just because of the swirl of other tests life has thrown at me since we got here.  I’m so proud to be here.  To own my own place.  I have a solid plan in motion on getting it paid off, and in a few years, I intend to invest in something additional – either property or business-wise.  It’s fun, knowing that those goals are not only in front of me, but very much attainable.  🙂

I’m looking forward to the summer.  Between my little garden (next year’s will be bigger if I have anything to say about it), my art, my children, my work and my new kayaks… I think the summer days will be quite filled with a lot of fun.

I’m building a full on art studio in my house.  It’s been quite a thrill so far to start putting together.  When I’m finished, I think I will finally have my dream studio space.  It’ll take me a couple of years to really get it where I want to, but I will get there.  🙂  I’m even making one of the rooms a photography studio – something I’ve been dreaming of having for about 5 years now.

Little pieces of my life, long-loved interests and hobbies are all finally starting to come together and find a place in my life.  It’s interesting to me.  I’d never have guessed that it would take me risking everything and breaking out on my own in order to find confidence in being myself.  At my core, I always saw myself as being fairly confident… but it’s only the last 5 months or so that I really feel like I’ve come into my own.  I see myself now.  All of me.  Not just the good parts and not just the bad.  I care about my own well-being.  Funny, I think I’d stopped.  Maybe I had given up?  Maybe losing Ben and my husband and my family and my friends did more to me than I gave it credit for.

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In the last few weeks, I feel a bit like Andy, from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”; when he climbs out of the sewer pipe and strips himself from the final rags from the prison and just stands in the pouring rain, drinking it all in.  Living life, even with all the scary parts, with all the pain, or insecurities, the grief, … is a spectacular thing.  I wouldn’t give up a single moment of it.  And I refuse to be one of those people who sit by and just accept the monotonous daily grind… especially when adventures can begin anywhere with anything.

My daughter is learning about gardening this year.  She has a few plants that she is growing all on her own, and even something as simple as a strawberry plant… watching it grow from seed to plant, growing and tending it, and now… the joy of the first few berries… has been an adventure for us all.  Researching a new subject for a painting or cartoon is an adventure.  Going on a weekend to explore a new city is an adventure.  Exploring the nearby lakes with my new kayak, all the wildlife and amazing scenery – these are all the adventures I’ve got going on in my world these days.  And it’s these types of adventures… that continue to fuel me and bring me so much happiness.

So to you, Neverland, go have an adventure this week.  I know I will.  🙂

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Why hello spine! It’s nice to see you!

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Over the years, I’ve struggled with having a spine.  Standing up to others, dealing with conflict…these are things that I can be terrible at, and amazing at; depending on the topic at hand and the context of the situation.  I’m usually better at standing up for others over myself.

In the last few weeks, I’ve re-joined a support group that I used to work with on a regular basis.  And in the last few weeks, thanks to some of the incredible men and women in this group, I have noticed a shift in my own confidence, my ability to communicate my feelings and needs and my ability to stand up and shut down situations where I am uncomfortable or upset.  I’m re-learning how to set healthy, appropriate boundaries.  It feels good.  Heck, it feels GREAT.

BUT…

Something that I have noticed about myself in doing this is that when I make great strides in my own emotional well-being, I tend to get a bit antsy when the folks i love and care about aren’t doing it for themselves.  I am learning to wear my big girl panties with pride.  To be an adult, and own my responsibilities.  If I promise something, I keep my promise.  If I know I won’t be able to keep my word, I don’t make the promise.  If for some weird reason, I can’t keep my promise, I find a way to make up for it and essentially still make do on what I swore I’d do.

I’m also learning that the only thing I can truly control, is me and my actions, feelings and reactions to others.  I can’t force someone to keep their word.  What I wish I could do, however, was control how I feel when someone doesn’t keep their word.

I’ve had that happen to me recently.  I’ve given this person a chance to make it right.  They essentially have a few weeks to figure out a plan and make good on their promises before I will have to decide what I plan on doing next in regards to our relationship.  I won’t lie, it’s a bit frustrating when I consider that the solution is really quite simple and would be very easy to get accomplished.  They know what those solutions are… now it’s on them.  I hate the waiting.  I hate not knowing whether someone will essentially act like the grown up they are or if they will continue to show me that they are a child.  I want to yell… “Dude!?  Grow UP!  It’s not hard!!”  Sigh.  Isn’t life fun?

I find myself dreaming…

Wants, desires, wishes and dreams…

There are a few things that have been on my mind lately.  And rather than sit and stew over it, I figured I’d write it here and get it out of my head.  At least for a while.

Lately, I find myself dreaming about buying a house.  Not just a house.. but a home.

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In 4 months, I’m supposed to move in with T.  I’m excited to live with him.  I think it’ll be amazing to live with my best friend (not saying we won’t have an adjustment period, as I’m sure we will).  What I find that I’m not looking forward to… is moving in with him.  It’s his house.  He owns it.  It’s full of his stuff and his juju from his past and the folks who’ve lived there.  I’ve never moved in with someone before, they’ve always moved in with me and I find it strange to be suddenly on the flip side.  You see, I have a house of my own.  (It’s a rental) but it’s a big enough house that fits all the stuff that my children and I have acquired over the years.  Where the hell am I going to put it all?  How do you go about making a home for yourself and your kids when you don’t feel like the place is yours?  I’m struggling with this.  My friends (and a few of his) have suggested we look for a new place that would be ours.  I’d be totally down for that, but my impression is that T loves his home and isn’t ready to part with it just yet.  And while I do understand that and support him in whatever he wants to do with his home, I’m also struggling with how to make this move comfortable for me and the kids.  Having my house feel like a home used to be VERY important to me.  It was an obsession at one point in my life.  In the last few years, it’s become less of a priority, but lately, the desire to make my home a haven has been returning.  To make my home be a place where I want to be, where others want to be.  Where I can cook and entertain and re-charge and re-energize myself from the pressures I face on a daily basis.  Where I feel comfortable raising my children and really laying down some permanent roots.  Wow – it’s been a while since I’ve even desired that.  I’m happy to see that wish and desire return, but I don’t see it happening in his home.  How do you go about effectively explaining something like that to someone without hurting their feelings or offending them?  As that would be the very last thing I’d want to do.

Sigh … how to not be one of THOSE girls… you know the ones… the ones that come into someone else’s home and take over, redecorate and suddenly it’s not his house anymore.  I just find that rude.  🙂

A bane to humanity

Have you ever seen a potential red flag in a relationship with someone and just felt an overwhelming sense of annoyance and frustration at having seen it?  That was me tonight.  I’m not frustrated with the person, but I’m frustrated at the sight of a potential problem in the future.  Although – the concept of “red flags” in people doesn’t work well when you actively try not to future trip.

Today I had a session with my counselor.  We’re dropping down to once a week and that makes me feel immensely better.  🙂  Today’s topics included my mother, we touched a little on nana, and we talked about gifts and generosity and money.  I’m glad I get to type instead of talk because I think if I had to speak those words, they’d taste a little bitter on the tongue right now.

Money.  Such a bane to humanity.  I’ve been dirt poor, I’ve been middle of the road, and I’ve been comfortable.  Certainly never been rich, but I feel like I at least have a grasp on understanding the reality of a wide spectrum of financial security (or lack of it) with in social economics.  When you’re poor, you think having money will fix a lot of problems, and when you’re no longer poor, you realize there may be other new problems to face. I remember feeling like people would look down on us if they knew how poor we were.  That somehow, other people would judge because of my finances.  What I didn’t know was that when you’re on the flip side of the coin, there’s still judgment.    Only it’s a new, different kind.  Either people assume that you just buy everything without putting a thought into it, or they think that everything is easy and was handed to you; or they resent that you have it and they don’t.

As a woman, there have been many times, where I’ve been pressured to stay at home, be a mom to my kids and play that role.  Heck, I WAS a stay at home for 6 years.  And then I went back to work and became the bread winner, the guilt in subtle comments I’d get from others was often obnoxious.

I have been the “bread winner” now for 6 years.  I made more than my spouse could so it just made sense.  And men, they have this pressure to provide.  To shoulder the financial stress.  You’d think we could let go of some of the old 50’s ideals – it has been 60+ years. A partnership or team shouldn’t be in competition.  You are a team.  Together as a couple, you should be thinking as one.

Hmm is that old fashioned?

I don’t think so, it just seems like logic to me.  If you’ve pledged to spend your life as a team with someone, then it seems as if showing your appreciation for your mate is that much more important…not just your appreciation for the team you’ve created and what you are working towards, but for them, personally.

But how do you do that without the other person feeling off about it.  What is considered small and thoughtful, vs extravagant and on who’s budget? When I was dating, the fact that I made what I do was often seen as  threat.  It intimidated a lot of men.  I’ve read that a woman making more than a man emasculates them.

What I wish I could help men realize is that if it doesn’t bother us, it shouldn’t bother you.  It means we are big girls who can take care of ourselves and if we chose you – then you can feel safe and comforted knowing we chose you for you – not for what you have or what you could provide.  But for YOU.  That silly dude that we chose who’s grumbly in the morning, who makes faces and silly dances and puddle jumps in the rain with us.  Our best friend.

Goodnight Neverland. Sleep well.