Saturday, April 29, 2017

Relationships and Whole-hearted Living

This morning I woke to the thought, “Do you love the person (s)he is becoming or do you only love the person (s)he was?” 

These are important questions to consider. Are you willing to allow your partner to evolve or are you trying to get your lover to stay the same? And what about you? Have you and are you changing? If you are trying to get your love to stay the same, is that fair to either of you?

Everyone knows relationships are tough, and, as with many things, I don’t know if there is any one true answer. I may believe it one way today, but does that mean it has to be that way tomorrow? I choose not to be in a relationship, and just because I’ve made that decision for myself, that does not mean I don’t admire those who choose otherwise. 

I watch people. I listen to people. I have been in relationships (more than one), and I am old enough and wise enough to see multiple sides to situations. I have seen this scenario over and over (and I’ve experienced it). It is not up to me to tell people what to do when they talk to me. If a couple is struggling with their relations, it is not up to me to judge them or urge them in either direction. I listen and offer insight. And if I should happen to hear from both partners, I’d offer the same kind of insight to both. I don’t take sides. It is up to them to make their own decisions.

I often hear, “We’re trying to make it work,” but it usually feels one-sided. One partner feels there is nothing wrong and can’t understand why the other is not seeing things that way or that the other isn’t working hard enough to make it work. This one partner also usually seems very surprised about the situation. (S)he thought it was a good relationship.

What does this have to do with whole-hearted living? 

To me, whole-hearted living is seeing the other sides. I don’t have to agree or even like it, but I need to think about it so that I can make the best choice for me. Whole-hearted living is allowing the heart to live whole-hearted. When my heart is whole and my soul is happy, then I am able to freely give more of myself to others. 

It’s not easy. Sometimes there’s a lot of soul-searching. However, the end result has to be a decision that I can be satisfied with. The more I practice this, the more satisfied, positive, and happy I am with my life.

This is what I believe for everyone, too. Each relationship is about the people involved and their belief systems. What is right and what is wrong in a partnership can be different to everyone. People change, and if the partner is not able to adapt to the change, the relationship deteriorates. What then? What happens when the relationship becomes stretched like an old rubber band? Is it about sticking it out because of the marriage vows or the children? Do both end up living so-so lives and neither one being totally happy?

Again, it’s not for me to decide or judge for others. These are questions only they can answer. No, not easy, and when I was in a relationship, I didn’t have the courage to sit down with my husband to talk about it. It takes a lot of daring greatly and I didn’t have this knowledge and self-esteem back then – or the relationship reached a point where I had to leave for my own well-being and life.

I changed. I grew. I evolved. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all change as we grow older. We don’t go through life staying the same. Oh, some core beliefs may stay the same, but we change, we evolve. Is it fair to our relationship to expect it to remain what it was?

I’ve always believed marriage or a partnership should be a contract with a renewal every so many years. It’s a time to look at life and decide whether too much distance has formed between the two, or if there is enough love and friendship to work hard to make it work. When it works, it’s great. If it’s not working, move on before the relationship dissolves into hate. I’ve never wanted that and don’t like to see that. 

I believed that early on. To this day, I am still friends with my ex and with his wife.

What would it mean to you to live a whole-hearted life?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Freedom of Speech and Whole-hearted Living

The freedom of speech topic hit me this week set off by an email I received regarding a Letter to the Editor printed last week in which someone took offense. As the editor of a newspaper (thankfully not one that feeds the media frenzy of shock and horror), we welcome letters to the editor. We honor people’s freedom of speech and we often get responses to someone else’s letter and points of view are often conflicted. We may not agree with the writers’ beliefs, but we have an obligation to allow their freedom of speech. (We do, however, remove profanity.)

We suggest that people, instead of being upset with us for allowing freedom of speech, to submit letters of their own. They, too, are allowed that right. A response letter can state their beliefs on the subject without name-calling and anger. 

This situation made me think further about freedom of speech. I think more needs to be said and we need to look at what that means.

I try not to live in fear and that seems harder to do in these times. More and more I am narrowing my world to avoid listening to all the negativity that is so predominant right now. I am afraid to speak my truth because people are too quick to “take offense” and not only do they take offense, some get downright nasty about it. What happened to agree to disagree if you disagree? What happened to acceptance and tolerance of other people and other views?

Hatred and violence seem to be on the forefront of all newscasts and social media, and having this pounded into us day after day is taking its toll. The whole world seems to be affected (or it seems so because that’s all you hear about). Unfortunately, too many people find this kind of news exciting, and this is what sells so the media keeps pushing it. This repetitive daily negativity is pressed into our souls making it hard not to become what we see. If we let anger and hatred infiltrate our lives, we will live in constant fear which turns us into anger and hatred. 

I refuse to get caught up in it, and yet, it’s hard to avoid it. The news media makes it sound like that’s all there is to talk about it, and people are so uptight they blow up at everything said. They take the minutest of detail and blow it all out of proportion without understanding all the facts and seeing all sides. People can’t say anything without ticking others off; even to the point where words are misconstrued and taken out of context. It’s hard to say anything without offending someone else and getting verbally attacked. 

My thoughts are divided on how to talk about this. My biggest worry is that we are about to lose part of our First Amendment – freedom of speech. Isn’t that what this country was founded on? It’s already started with political correctness. What’s next?

What exactly does this mean? How did it come to this? How do we protect our freedom of speech? And what does this have to do with whole-hearted living?

I totally believe in freedom of speech, but there needs to be courtesy. To me, freedom of speech doesn’t mean name-calling and bullying. It doesn’t mean trying to force others to one belief. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean verbalizing every thought if it’s detrimental of others. Yes, there are those times when people spew off in anger and fear – sometimes that can be for a good reason – but for the most part, anger and fear fuels more of the same and it’s catchy and addictive. It becomes an epidemic. And it has.

Freedom of speech means being able to speak our truth. It’s an opportunity to share ideas, debate subjects, and communicate. Freedom of speech allows us to be open with others. Freedom of speech can inspire, educate, and create positive awareness to bring about necessary changes.

We can protect our freedom of speech by being mindful of what we listen to or read, and taking care in how we respond. Are we hearing just some piece of information given in a way intended to be shock and rile people up? Do we know the whole story behind what was said or are people just jumping to conclusions? If something said or read makes us angry and fearful, will responding with more anger help the situation or make it worse?

Freedom of speech can be protected by how we speak. We need to THINK before we speak. First reactions in a situation can often be negative. If we freak out and start screaming, does that make us look intelligent? Is that the kind of picture of ourselves we want to give others? Sometimes it’s better to walk away to clear those thoughts before we can respond in a positive, intelligent, and informative way. And there are times when it’s better to totally walk away without responding at all (or waiting for a better time).

Taking thinking further, we can teach ourselves to catch negative words before they leave our mouths, or the moment we realize we are speaking in anger or saying something not so nice, we can stop. Also, it’s important to understand that people have deep-set beliefs and they may not be willing to or want to change. It’s not our job to make them change. We need to honor that. This means there may be some subjects not to discuss when together. This is not denying freedom of speech, it’s just being wise in when to speak.

So, what about freedom of speech and living whole-heartedly? I, too, have strong beliefs, but I am careful with whom I have particular conversations, which is another key. Perhaps there are certain conversations that should only be made with like-minded individuals. After all, not every personal thought and belief needs to be public. Again, it’s being mindful and respectful. It’s about knowing when to speak and to whom. 

I am honoring myself by knowing when to speak and when to not get involved. I live my whole-hearted life in avoiding situations that are upsetting (whenever I can). I live whole-heartedly by knowing I am doing the best I can, trying to live each day in beauty and peace. Today I will find beauty around me.