Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family dynamics, oh how thee change

I wrote and rewrote this article only to come to the conclusion this is definitely a two-parter. In discussing family dynamics, there are just so many different themes that arise. The theme of the sibling dynamics changing throughout the years, the theme of parent-child dynamics changing throughout the years and the all-important and oftentimes highly dramatic issue of when a member of a family brings in a significant other.

Family dynamics change over the years. Siblings mature and move into adulthood. Therefore, these relationships can become strained or closer based upon the type of relationship. The relationship between a big brother and little sister or may stay just that, a big brother and his little sister or may become more of a friend to friend relationship.

The relationship between myself, an older sister and my younger brother has gone from sibling to close friend throughout the years. Parental relationships with kids change as well. Kids who are dependent upon their parents during adolescence may remain so into their 20's and 30's. These same kids may become entirely independent after adolescence, which allows for a relationship based on equality and friendship with their parents.

Now, combine these changing relationship dynamics with a marriage or relationship.

When the son goes off and gets married, his relationship with his mother changes just as it changes with his siblings. I gained a friend when my brother married his wife. When he got married, everyone in the family gained a sister/daughter and years later, nieces and grandchildren.

When a daughter marries, oftentimes her relationship with her mother takes a turn. Mine took a turn for the better and my mother and I have never been so close. Many girls fight with their mothers during this time, thus changing the mother/daughter dynamic for the worse.

The relationship between a father and daughter changes a great deal when the daughter gets married, just as her relationship with her brothers and sisters do.

Unfortunately, I have noticed in many relationships that the significant other gets the brunt of the blame for these changing relationship dynamics. In fact, I remember a painful time when my family blamed my sister-in-law for my brother's "changes." In hindsight, these changes were simply maturing.

Why are people so eager to blame the significant other for changes in the daughter/son/sibling/friend? Is it really too difficult to admit that, over time, our relationship dynamics change, we grow up and move on?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Does the Honeymoon Have to End?

As of late I've participated in numerous conversations with people in regards to the "does the honeymoon period have to end" issue that seems to plague many relationships.
Does the honeymoon period end in all relationships?

Does the honeymoon period have to end?

When your significant other displays symptoms of laziness of selfishness, does this mean the inevitable ending is near?

In my experience, relationships ebb and flow. They are like riding a roller coaster - you may have a really good ride followed by a slump, followed again by a really good ride. But, the whole time, you are on exactly that - a ride, an experience.

Friends of mine are predictable in their ebb and flows. They are happy and on the same wavelength for several weeks, then they have an off week.

Another friend of mine has learned to pull away from her partner whenever her partner starts acts irritably. The whole, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing.

I have a framed print in my house - it used to be in my bathroom so everytime I brushed my teeth I read it. Now, I have it memorized. "Think about the destination but don't worry if you stray, because the most important thing is what you learn along the way." So, while we think of "forever" and celebrating our 50 year anniversary, it isn't only the destination that is important...its also the little things you learn about each other every day. And, you can't learn those little things if you only concentrate on the destination itself. Don't get distracted thinking about the ultimate goal because the little every day things will pass you by, and those are the most important parts.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Side effects of hormones or...ulcer?

Last night I suffered what was quite possibly the worst stomach ache I have ever had. This has happened a few times before (each time of course was the worst stomach ache I've had) where the pain was so severe I was in the fetal position, propped up on my knees and elbows in bed. Weird thing is, each time it has happened we've been traveling. Unfortunate for us!

Kurt and I took a careful look at my lifestyle and routine last night, in an attempt to self-diagnose what was going on. The only major changes are a) I eat a LOT more fruit than ever before (a smoothie every morning and fruit at night) and b) I am under an exorbitant amount of stress.

Kurt said, "Ulcer. You have an ulcer." He is positive it is an ulcer. When I got my first stomach ache a few months ago, we thought it was a side-effect of one of the two hormones I am on. Although, a stomach ache is not a potential side-effect of either of the hormones, it was the only thing that made sense.

I've kept a journal (food, side effect and lifestyle journal) over the past couple months. So, since I was in the fetal position crying for 3 hours last night my first chance to google "ulcer" was this morning. My sister always makes fun of me for self-diagnosing on the Internet but, I have to say the symptoms and causes really do match my symptoms and recent lifestyle choices and events.

I have a doctor's appointment that I intend to bump up. I can't handle another of these stomach aches. They're indescribable. Anyone out there know anything about ulcers?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What is a healthy relationship and, does it - GASP - involve change?

The other day someone complimented me. They said Kurt and I have changed, as individuals, since coming together as a couple. She said I have embraced my gifts and passions more than ever before. And Kurt has noticeably begun doing things he enjoys more than ever before. He goes to football games out of town, he nurtures his friendships more and he enjoys the little things in life now more than ever.
We have very little time together, due to our schedules so when we do have time together we embrace that time. We sometimes merge "my things" or "his things" and sometimes we just do, "our things."

Before meeting Kurt, I was a writer and animal advocate. I was a dance teacher, a cheer coach, a friend and daughter. Since meeting Kurt, I've begun and nearly finished my first book, written a handful of short stories for anthologies and written nearly 1,000 articles all of which have been published. I have jumped into animal activism with both feet, instead of tip-toeing into it as I had before. I know I am making a difference and have the strength to continue to do so. I am a better daughter, sister and better friend since knowing Kurt.

Why the change? Because Kurt makes me believe in myself. Kurt is my biggest fan, my coach, my team mate. He believes in me therefore I believe in him.

How has he changed? Since meeting me, Kurt has embraced his friendships and nurtures them. He spends more time with friends and this current football season has been the craziest yet for my husband. He has all-niters with his BFF going over DVR'd football games until 6 in the morning. He has taken up property management which is something he's always wanted to do and maybe just needed that little voice off to the side telling him he could do it, he is amazing at what he does.

How else have we changed? I've always been a planner, a scheduler. Not having a date and time for everything made me anxious. Kurt was fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants spontaneous and flexible with everything. We've molded into a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants couple assuming it works with the schedule:)

I am a confronter. I confront. I don't like passive-aggressive and I can't stand talking behind backs. I think everyone should get the balls to tell people what they think instead of whispering and wasting negative energy.

This of course, is not always the best way to handle situations. Kurt comes from a background of absolutely no confrontation, let's keep everyone happy and not ruffle any feathers. I've learned that although this goes against everything I am comfortable with, this is oftentimes the way things need to be done - for everyone else's comfort levels.

I am private. Kurt is not. Since meeting, I've become less private and Kurt has realized there are some things that are nobody else's business.

People change when they're in relationships. And 99% of the time its a good thing. If I became a heroin addict because Kurt was, clearly that would be a bad thing. Kurt running more because of me, and me doing yoga more because of him, these are not bad things. These are good things.

So, to you out there who've heard "you've changed since you met Bob" or "you're a different person now that you're with Ann" - think about it...This is really a good thing, isn't it:)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazy times and...Christian Porn?

One of the writers in my writers' group - Bob - wrote a story about Christian porn. Yes, you read that correctly. I would say of the five of us in the group, he definitely has the most vivid imagination. He wrote a story about a couple. The couple introduces the protagonist to Christian porn - videotaped sexual escapades between a married man and woman.

We'd all read the story, those of us in our group, however our spouses had not. Why would they? A copy was passed out at our dinner the other night, and a conversation about Christian porn ensued. Shortly thereafter, someone pulled out their Droid (thank goodness for technology, where would we be without it? Having nice dinner conversations about politics and religion while NOT googling innapropriate topics) and googled "Christian porn."

Try it.

You will get pages of search results.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hour in the life of....me!

My chai latte was on the stove. I drank my orange-mango-peach smoothie, and realized I needed to clean out the blender. But it also occurred to me I needed to clean the counters. With dishrag in one hand I opened the door underneath the sink to get the all-purpose cleaning stuff. Couldn't find it.

Went upstairs to my office where I believed the all-purpose cleaner to be. Saw that I had some paperwork that needed to be tended to.

Organizing the paperwork I found some investment paperwork.

Headed downstairs to the dining room to find my "investment paperwork" folder. In the process I found an old checkbook.

Went into Kurt's office with the old checkbook to shred it (shredder kept in Kurt's office.) While in Kurt's office I noticed his garbage was full; I'd forgotten to empty it into the trash for today's pickup.

Took the trash outside to the curb. On the way back I checked for mail. Realized yesterday was Veteran's Day - no mail. Somehow being around mail reminded me my paycheck would be in my account tonight. This prompted me to go to my laptop on the coffee table to balance my checkbook.

Sitting at the coffee table it occurred to me I needed to vacuum the area rug. Because the area rug is underneath the coffee table.

I went back to Kurt's office where we keep the vacuum (one of them) took it back to the living room. I also remembered I want to sell my Kirby vacuum on Craigslist.

I hop back on the laptop to list the Kirby vacuum on Craigslist. Wait, I need to take a picture of the vacuum first.

Then I can vacuum the area rug.

As I'm vacuuming the area rug it occurs to me the coffee table needs to be dusted first. I turn the vacuum off and go to grab my all-purpose cleaner and rag to dust the table. Then it occurs to me my chai latte was still on the stove, the blender still needed to be cleaned out and the countertops were still dirty.

And I still didn't have my all-purpose cleaner.

Just an hour in the life of me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make a Statement

Every decision, every word and every action we make or say, makes a statement.

What clothes we put on to go to work makes a statement. Its says, "I care about my job, my co-workers" and "I take myself seriously." What we put on says "I am a professional." Or we can make the statement "I got home late last night and was a little hungover this morning, couldn't wake up early enough to shave" or "breakfast with you isn't important enough to put on a fresh pair of jeans."

When we pass the stranger on the street, whether we say "hi" makes a statement.

When we see that girl we don't like but she looks really cute, whether we say "You look really nice" or "I love your shirt, where did you get it?" makes a huge statement. That statement says, 'I am confident enough in myself to make your flame grow brighter."

When our best friend starts finding other friends we can make a statement. We can make several statements actually. We can say "These new friends of yours sound fabulous, I'd love to meet them sometime!" Or, we could say "You're spending an awful lot of time with those people lately, you're changing. You quit drinking since you started hanging out with them, what's up with that?"

I have a writer friend. She had a bad day. In the midst of her bad day she sent me an email. The email said "I just want you to know that when (not if) your book is published you're going to be big. So big. And I am so proud to be your friend." I re-read that email many times. It amazed me that someone could be so selfless, to have a bad day, have many things on her mind and yet, have the confidence and support and compassion to send me this email. She knew I needed to hear it. That is a big statement.

I challenge you, to make a big statement. Forgive the unforgivable. Love the unlovable. Pray for the person you least want to pray for. Complement her when you can't stand her. Say 'hello' when they aren't looking.

I've learned recently when someone is hurting me, to see them as a victim instead of a perp. (My therapist's idea. It works.) I promise you, by seeing the bully as a victim instead of a perp, you will feel sorry for them. You will see they are not perfect and have issues of their own that don't have anything to do with you. Make a statement. Forgive her, understand her and accept her for the imperfect person she is.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Writers' dinner....

My writers' group consists of five people; T, K, B, D and me. Three women, two men. About a month ago, T decided to have a dinner party for us, mostly so our spouses could meet each other and our crazy writer friends.

I don't know what the others expected but the first one was really fun. Take a liberal activist, a conservative Senator, a casino employee, a CEO of a major company in KC, a stay-at-home mom and several other completely opposite personalities and put them in the same room - the result is awesome! We did have so much fun.

Well, that was a month ago and our second writers' group dinner party was last night and K's beautiful home. We'd never met her husband before and even doubted he existed -thought maybe he was an incredible figment of her fiction-loving mind. Oh he is very real, very sweet and very hospitable.

It was a great time. I was so tired. I honestly thought we would go, eat and leave. And the cool thing about this group is that no one judges and no one needs explanations. If you need to leave, you leave, no questions asked no justifications expected.

That was my plan last night. Between campaigning for Prop B, working at the shelters and Chain of Hope, writing my book and working a long day at the firm yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to go home and rest my head. Kurt is good with whomever and wherever, he is such a people-person. I never have to worry about him. That being said, everyone was having a great time and I was definitely the party pooper when I dragged him away at nearly 10:00!

I think I'm going to push for our dinner parties to be on "school nights" so I'm not the only lame person going home before midnight.

T did message me awhile ago to tell me she and her husband left within moments after we did. Apparently after that, the party got out of hand and crazy.

You know how those fiction writers are.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Prop B...

How in the world could ANY lawmaker repeal the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Law"??? I mean, all we're asking for is the essentials: food, water and veterinary care. Really? Lawmakers in both the Missouri House and Senate are beginning the repeal process (some, not all lawmakers thank GOD).

How can ANY "reputable breeder" assume that Prop B will put them out of business? If they consider themselves "reputable breeders" (which really, is an oxymoron if I've ever heard one) they should already be providing food, water and veterinary care.

The issue of the "limit" seems to be getting peoples' panties in a bunch. Are you telling me that 50 breeding females is too few? So, the commercial puppy mills out there with 250 breeding females (not to mention all the males and puppies) are able to care for the hundreds of dogs in their care?

I think not.

C'mon people. Let's fight to keep Prop B on the books. This is really stinkin' ridiculous. I can't believe I'm writing this post - can't believe I have to. We all thought the election would be a landslide. It's called the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Act" for Christ's sake!!! Who can argue with that?

I need to meditate, calm down, bring down my blood pressure.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Easier said than done...

What things do you wish you could do, but can't? I'm not talking about "I wish I could run a marathon this weekend" or "I wish I could grow my nails out" I'm talking about things like, I wish I could not let that negative lady at work affect me. I wish I could not cry when I see elephants in the circus. I wish I could not let things bother me that I can't control.

My sister said, "Think about the serenity prayer. Whenever something is bothering you, just think of the serenity prayer." First of all, I don't have the serenity prayer memorized, I suppose that is something I should work on. When something irritates me - whether it be a slow driver in the fast lane, or something someone did or said - I inhale deeply, pray a little, then try not to think about it again.

Another coping mechanism I've recently come up with is to "put myself in their shoes." Actually, this technique would've been extremely useful had I considered it back in my school days. But alas, I did not. For example, that person who irritates me? I think to myself, maybe they're so jealous of me that they have to be mean. Or, maybe the person driving slow in the fast lane, on their cell phone, is actually in the middle of an important phone call and someone is ill. Or maybe, that person just lost their job.

It's kind of a game. I'll be driving and someone is going slow in the fast lane. She is young, on her phone and laughing. I am tailing her because, well, you're supposed to get over if you're going slow in the fast lane! I think to myself, maybe she just found out she is pregnant, or lost her job or maybe she just found out she got a raise. These are all things that I do not know how I would handle them, and they may cause me to not pay attention.

One of my biggest pet peeves (apart from slow drivers in the fast lane if you couldn't already tell) is when people don't stand their ground. Back in high school I believe this was referred to as being "two-faced." Let me break it down for you...if you don't like someone and you talk behind their back, don't then be nice to their face. And if you are with a person who is badmouthing someone you do like, stick up for that person!

Back to the focus of this blog which, is, that I wish I could not let things affect me that I cannot control. I'm getting better at it. Its tough though.

Let me also utilize this forum to say that I am sick and tired of political ads on TV!!! I am dreading watching DWTS tonight because I just know the two-minute commercial slots will be inundated with Harztler v. Skelton and Blunt v. Carnahan...BORING!!