There is no getting through it

11 Nov

Every relationship falls on hard times. Some get through it. Some don’t. I’ve always wondered what the difference was between those who make it and those who don’t. Was there a secret to the “getting through” or a trick that some learn and others don’t?

LoveCycles_coverA couple of months ago, I was sent a book on review. The title of the book: Love Cycles – The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love. It’s by Linda Carroll, a couples’ therapist for over thirty years. In the book, she describes the five cycles that love goes through. Sometimes these stages repeat themselves within a relationship. To me, that’s the trick or the secret to it all. There is no “getting through” it. We are always going through it. At any given time, we are in a different stage. As Carroll writes, “The stages of love do not end at wholehearted loving but rather with an acceptance that the stages form a spiral; different ages and stages continue to bring new gifts and fresh challenges. Over time, we become more flexible and willing to accept the natural impermanence of relationship seasons.”

Below is an article written by Linda Carroll describing the five stages of love.

The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love

by Linda Carroll

As a counselor to couples for many years, I’ve come to recognize five distinctive stages we travel through over the course of any intimate relationship: the Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, Decision, and, finally, Wholehearted Loving.

Love Cycles and Choices

The first stage, [the Merge] fueled by a delicious and powerful love potion and marked changes in brain chemistry itself, causes people to become obsessed with the wonder and delight of their new partner. Its as though a veil covers our rational brain, and all we can see is what is magical about this person and the relationship. The seductive power of this stage may also cause us to fall in love with an inappropriate partner. With consciousness and effort, we can choose what to do with our feelings. Do we fan the flames of a potentially dangerous fire, or do we control our passion and turn our attention elsewhere?

Even if our partner is a good match, this will not eliminate the difficulties and annoyances two human beings bring to one another. In this first stage, we tend to see only the best, the possibilities, the magic.

If we choose to move with our partner into Stage Two, Doubt and Denial, we wake up from the trance of infatuation and begin to wonder whether this relationship is really the best choice for us. You find your feelings of love are becoming more conditional, power struggles increase and you wonder if your partner has changed. What now? We can choose to look carefully at our partner and assess his ability to collaborate, manage conflict and disappointment and accept responsibility for his choices and troubles. Can we feel strongly attracted to someone and yet admit to ourselves that this person is not a good choice for us? If so, are we able to say no to the relationship?

During this second stage, the spotlight shines on the flaws of our beloved. We now invest a lot of energy in getting our lover to become the ideal partner we thought they would be. At the same time, we also catch glimpses of our own least likeable parts — for example, how we react when our partner doesn’t agree with us. The research clearly shows that managing conflict effectively requires something different than fighting, fleeing or freezing. Can we learn these new skills?

Each of us is forced to give up our dream of perfect, unconditional love in which our partner always sees the best in us, says the right thing, never embarrasses us and reads our mind so that he or she can please us in every way possible.

As our disappointment escalates, so do our biological responses to stress: we prepare for war, retreat, or don camouflage. Welcome to the third stage: Disillusionment. As differences continue to emerge, our proclivities to defend and preserve ourselves may grow even stronger: we may believe that we’re always in the right and that everything should be done our way.

Alternatively, you may be the kind of person who cannot bear conflict. You shut your ears to every dissonant chord and pretend that everything is wonderful — or at least tolerable.

The point is, you have chosen how to respond. You will continue to make choices as you move through love’s stages. As disillusionment sets in, we can try our best to offer goodwill and kindness, even as tension thickens. As the “Why aren’t you me?” argument gathers momentum, we can consciously decide to loosen up a bit and allow more than one truth to be present in the relationship.

In this third stage, when our brain signals major alarm, it is particularly vital to choose to move from reactivity to rationality. When we are calmly present, we are free to act for the highest good of the relationship rather than out of fear and neediness.

Of course, because we’re thoroughly human, we won’t always respond to our lover from our highest selves. Then what? Can we apologize, make amends and take responsibility for how we’ve behaved, despite what our partner has done to upset or annoy us? We have the power to make that choice.

Let’s say that when we reach the fourth stage — Decision— we make the choice to part ways. Can we wish our former partner the best? If that’s too hard, can we at least not wish him or her the worst?

If we decide to remain together, we have the opportunity to learn the lessons that will help to make us the best person we can be, while also giving our relationship the chance to grow and deepen. This is where we enter the fifth cycle, which is wholehearted loving. No longer two halves trying to make a whole, we are two complete people learning about love. Passion, safety and generosity return to the relationship, along with humor and empathy.

From the Inside Out

Some of us are lucky enough to enjoy a strong connection with the same partner for a long stretch. But regardless of the quality of our intimate relationship, our emotional and spiritual life journey begins and ends within us. In this sense, every relationship is an inside job. Inside us is where it starts — and where it finishes, too.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

LindaCarroll_author_LoveCyclesLinda Carroll is the author of Love Cycles. A couple’s therapist for over thirty years, she is certified in Transpersonal Psychology and Imago Therapy and is a master teacher in Pairs Therapy. She lives in Corvallis, OR, offers workshops across the country, and is a frequent speaker at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. Visit her online at www.lovecycles.org.

Adapted from the book Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love ©2014 by Linda Carroll. Published with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com.

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Ms. Carroll writes about this topic with compassion, great understanding, and eloquence. Her book was not only interesting and helpful, but enjoyable to read and an intriguing look into how people love. If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you along the path you and your partner are travelling, I recommend Love Cycles.

As I’ve learned, it’s not about getting through it so that everything will be alright on the other side. It’s about going through it together and each person working from the inside out.

The Walk and Talk Recess

8 Nov

In an age where families are crunched for time because both parents are working and the prevailing parenting mentality is to register kids for as many extra-curricular activities as possible so that they experience different things and are constantly supervised, some schools in my area have decided to institute what they call a “walk and talk” recess and limit the amount of good ol’ fashioned physical activity that kids get during the school day.

This type of recess prohibits running, chasing games (which include running), ball playing, touching, playing with any kind of equipment, and basically, fun.

So what’s a kid to do?

Act out and be rambunctious in class the minute they hang their coats up back inside.

And is it any surprise? Most teachers aren’t surprised, from what I can tell. The administration seems shocked, though. Odd.

According to one website, walk and talk recesses (in their varying degrees) “IMPROVE the behavior in the classroom”. Maybe, but only because prior to implementing the walk and talk recess at that school it sounds like the students were denied recess altogether.

I’m more of a free-range mom myself. Say what you will. But I grew up in a time when we played outside on the street (for all you helicopter, bubble-wrapping parents, I grew up on a dead-end street with very little traffic, so calm down, my parents were excellent parents (my mom especially)). We played in the neighbourhood…somewhere, usually not within sight of our parents (or any other parents). We had freedom. We learned how to get along, how to sort ourselves out, and how not to complain at every little scrape or booboo. Now, if someone was gushing blood, we sent one of the kids to get a parent. We knew how to take care of each other. And we learned that from each other, from our group. Because that’s what we were; a group of kids who played together and stuck together. We had our own lives away from the adults. And that’s important. And my kids have that, too.

Back to the recess thing. Kids develop that group mentality when they are engaged at recess as well. But we have to allow them that space to create the group and to engage their creativity. The walk and talk recess in my opinion is not the way to do that.

This article from columnist Anne Jarvis at The Windsor Star talks about a school in Auckland, New Zealand that does recess right.

And this is what was learned from doing recess this way:

“And after recess, “when kids have had the opportunity to have heaps of fun and be engaged and motivated in what they’re doing, they come back ready to learn,” he said.”

And what about current playgrounds in general? One word: boring.

Do you know what my kids do on the standard issue, colourfully designed, but super safe playgrounds in Toronto? They climb as high as they can on the outside of the structure and then either swing by their knees from an available horizontal bar or jump off to see if they can stand the thrill of the drop to the ground below.

And once they’ve conquered that height, they look for the next challenge. They are just being kids.

When they were really little and discovering their natural instinct for climbing and testing their limits, I let them go. And do you know what I discovered? Kids will never push themselves beyond what they are comfortable with at any given stage.

If I stood under them, ready to catch them if they fell, they would climb higher, yes, but it was obvious to me that they were not comfortable with their newly attained height. If I told them to try it on their own, eventually, after many park visits, they made it to the top of the climber…when they were ready.

And with all those attempts under their belts, they could own it. They had accomplished the climb themselves. It’s a confidence builder, a skill builder, a strength builder, and a bravery builder.

Did they fall? Yes. Did they get hurt? There was the odd scraped knee; maybe a few tears. Did they learn how to fall to limit the impact? Yes. You cannot get through life without falling. Falling teaches us how to limit the impact for the next time we fall. And we will try again. It’s in our nature.

As stated by Globe and Mail columnist Alex Bozikovic in a recent article, “Given today’s hyper-protective parenting norms, changing playgrounds means changing the culture.” Newer designs for playgrounds are making child’s play fun again. But our culture still has a long way to go to get to a place where kids can just be kids.

naturesplayground

 

My daughter the mover

7 Nov

Told Big Sister she couldn’t re-arrange the furniture. To say the least, listening is not her strongest skill.

She moved all of the toy bins from where we had them arranged under the breakfast bar over to where she wanted them near her chalkboard.

Her dad came home at the end of the day and moved them back while the kids and I were at the park.

hell hath no fury

Great and limitless

16 Sep

Each day in my Inbox, I receive inspirational quotes, poems and sayings.

Today, I received this one: Continue reading

Slowing down, slowed down, stopped

13 Aug

So, I haven’t been around in a while. I kind of gave up. I got tired. I was overworked (in every area of my life) and now I think I might be a little bit ready again. I miss this space. But this space is going to be a slow space now.

I learned a lesson recently. I won’t go into details. Life presents so many lessons. But I’d like to share this post that I read this morning from UnTangled that kind of frames the lesson I learned…http://drkellyflanagan.com/2014/08/13/why-you-should-unsubscribe-from-my-mailing-list/.

Bacon wrapped onion rings

30 Jul Featured Image -- 5569

Nancy:

Absolutely had to share this from my friend dusterbed…this is what I’m doing for dinner this weekend!

Originally posted on What have you done NOW?:

Whilst browsing the internet for several hours one day, I came across what I thought looked like an AMAZING idea. It was posted on Facebook by someone or other, and when I saw the description, I knew I had to try it! Bacon wrapped onion rings??? YES PLEASE.

I did some Goozling and found the recipe. Then something happened and I got distracted… and I forgot about it for about three weeks. The delightful photo and recipe appeared again in my news feed (thank goodness for the repetitiveness of sharing on Facebook) and reminded me that I was due for a food adventure!

Being the lazy lout I am, I was happy that I did not have to go to the grocery store for ingredients. In my fridge were two fresh packs of bacon (yes, I used both), lots of onions for ring-making, brown sugar,and Sriracha sauce! I had…

View original 486 more words

Reflecting

15 May

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.

Crazy Stories, Sane God…

20 Apr

Why did I pick up this book tonight, rather than the parenting book or any other number of books that I’m reviewing right now?

There’s a message in all this. I think it’s a calling to deeper faith.

Book cover of Crazy Stories Sane God by John Alan TurnerI’ve only read a few stories in Crazy Stories Sane God by John Alan Turner, and I’ve skipped forward and around a bit, too, but I have to say…the book speaks directly to me.

Each story chosen from the Bible is laid out in its briefest form; described, not told. Then there is the commentary; the how-it-relates-to-us part…clear, concise and right to the point. This part of each section is invaluable in its offering of this-is-how-this-story-applies-to-us and these-are-the-lessons-we-can-take-from-this-story.

Each time I have picked up this book to read more, I have encountered something that is completely applicable to what I’m going through at that moment in time. Either the Bible story itself, or the author’s commentary have had a direct impact on my thinking at that moment or on that day. It’s uncanny.

I have a little under half left to read, but the book has already been etched into my mind. It covers the Bible stories that are hard to believe; the ones that we, as parents, have a hard time explaining to our kids, so we just skip over them and trip over ourselves when our children bring the stories up and ask questions that we can’t answer. (Happens to me all the time; especially at Easter. How do you explain someone coming back from the dead to a child raised in a world where everything has a logical explanation?)

If you are on a spiritual journey, if you’re looking for explanations of the crazy stories in the Bible, if you need someone to put the pieces together and relate them to you, or help you make sense of the stories so you can better explain them to your children, you need to read this book.

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Title: Crazy Stories Sane God

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-1-4336-8128-8

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I received a copy of this book for review. The opinions stated in this piece are entirely my own. I received no other compensation for my review.

Keeping it in Line: Tips for Parade Day

15 Mar

I’m welcoming to the blog today Arianna from ariannaknowsbest.blogspot.com.

As we head into St. Patrick’s Day festivities, she’s sharing her tips on taking the family to a parade.

And without further ado, find out how she makes the most of parade day fun!

In my neighborhood, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge celebration! Our parade is a blast, and unlike some, the party is family friendly. Last year, we traveled as a family to Philadelphia to enjoy the parade with a few friends and their family. It was our first time attending with the whole family, so I’ve come up with some tips that will make your parade day easy and stress free! Get the tips that’ll make your parade day a blast!

Writing for Print in a Wired World

25 Feb

I’ve been doing a lot of writing off-screen lately; which is weird in this wired world. If you write something, you share it. Why would you have a thought that isn’t shared with all of your followers and fellow Tweeters? Well, that’s the way it seems anyway. Every thought, every little scribble that used to be reserved for ourselves is now shared with everyone.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t share our thoughts and make connections via social media. But lately, I’ve taken my writing off-screen and into an old fashion journal…and it’s liberating. Back when I started blogging, I had business cards printed (similar to the ones from YouPrint and Moo), which made the sometimes isolating process of blogging more real. Handing those cards out at social media conferences and to new acquaintances established the blog in real life and has had an effect on how long this blog has existed.

Recently, I’ve also been working on several print projects. There’s something about the printed word, whether it’s a card, a brochure or a document. Seeing your words in print lends credence to the idea. Ideas are easily shared via social media, but printed words come alive and express a certain permanence to me. It takes effort to share it, so its worth is in the time someone has taken to pass it on.

One of the projects to which I’ve been dedicating my time has been a monthly newsletter. Crafting the words, laying them out on the page and entrusting them to a printer is like sending your child to the first day of kindergarten. Terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

When the newsletter is published and distributed, it invites conversation among the group members, individual articles are photocopied and shared, and the printed pages are kept in an archive for future group members. These words that I write for print establish themselves in the real world. And that is really quite something.

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