Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not Paying Attention

So here's what happens when you don't pay attention. Websites go away. I mean, seriously? How did I miss this? And now I'm just... well... grrr aarrggghhh... Do you know how many pictures I hosted at slide? That I now have to go find and repost because they look like this?


And I'd be really aggravated at them if it wasn't for this... which I probably got an email about and didn't read... so there you have it! My lesson for the day. Pay attention.

Thinking About Osho

So, I've been thinking about that Osho Zen Tarot reading I got yesterday on the situation with my mother. Haven't really done more than think about it.... And when I say think about it, the truth is that I haven't been thinking about what the reading actually said. No. I've been simply thinking about the reading in a more general way... like... well... "Wow... that was great..." and "Osho was really spot on..." That kind of thing.

Then my sister read my posts and got inspired to do an Osho reading on the same subject. She sent me the results this morning. And once again, I was like... "Wow... that was great..." And I was thinking about how much I  love the Osho Zen Tarot, wondering why it's not my first "go to" when I have a life issue... Next thing you know, I was thinking that maybe I should do an Osho buy-out at amazon.

And that's when I had this epiphany. I realized that the stuff I get from watching movies and tv shows sticks with me longer and has more life changing benefits than stuff I read in self help or inspirational books and websites. Fantasy and fiction work better for me than anything else.

For example:

I learned more about how magic works by reading Servant of the Bones, than I did reading the 20 plus books on magic that I have in my bookcase. Watching Rome, sent me to the crossroads and opened up a lot of magical doors. I have a huge collection of "change-your-life-and-make-it-better-books" but I didn't actually change my life until I watched The Lord of the Rings.  I have deeper insights into who I want to be, and who I really am from watching "Buffy," "Heroes," "Being Human," and "Dexter."

So I do an Osho reading, and it's very insightful and wise. But nothing in me actually changed. I had a tiny glimmer of understanding but then... well... it blinked out. On the other hand, if there was an Osho series... books, movies, TV shows... like... Osho fights demons from the Darkside or ... I dunno... Osho banishes the Zombie invasion and saves the world... OK.. yeah!

I'd be hearing little tidbits of truth and mulling them over... and eventually integrating them into my thought patterns... I'd be planted in front of the TV watching every single episode, drinking it all in.

And is that because I'm more committed to a story? a movie? a show? More invested? more interested? Or is is a simple matter of hearing AND seeing... watching how something might actually play out in the "real" world...

I mean, I read something inspirational, and I say "oh yea" and next thing you know it's drifted right out of my consciousness. but when I'm watching an action show... I'm saying "oh yea" and then "oh shit" and then "yeah but" and then "aahh grasshoppa..."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Osho Fix

So I got to wondering what the Osho Zen Tarot would say about the situation with my mother and what (if anything) could be done about it... (And if you didn't read that post, this might not make any sense.) I did a one card reading first, looking for a simple answer, and here it is:
 

Every moment there is a possibility to be total. Whatsoever you are doing, be absorbed in it so utterly that the mind thinks nothing, is just there, is just a presence. And more and more totality will be coming. And the taste of totality will make you more and more capable of being total. And try to see when you are not total. Those are the moments which have to be dropped slowly, slowly. When you are not total, whenever you are in the head--thinking, brooding, calculating, cunning, clever--you are not total. Slowly, slowly slip out of those moments. It is just an old habit. Habits die hard. But they die certainly--if one persists, they die.

And I'm sure that if I were to be totally total... whenever I'm in the moment with my mother. Letting go of the resistance, the expectations, the disappointments, the need to be heard, the desire to fix... that would be big... but can I do it? Maybe.... over time.... I dunno...

So, because that was so helpful, I went ahead and did a relationship spread. It was actually pretty good.

Imagining yourself, click the backside of the first card to display the first card. This is about You and what you are contributing to the relating here/now.

One moment it was there, another moment it is gone. One moment we are here, and another moment we have gone. And for this simple moment, how much fuss we make! How much violence, ambition, struggle, conflict, anger, hatred, just for this small moment! Just waiting for the train in a waiting room on a station, and creating so much fuss: fighting, hurting each other, trying to possess, trying to boss, trying to dominate - all that politics. And then the train comes and you are gone forever.

Commentary:

The figure in this card is completely covered in armor. Only his glare of rage is visible, and the whites of the knuckles on his clenched fists. If you look closely at the armor, you can see it's covered with buttons, ready to detonate if anybody so much as brushes up against them. In the background we see the shadowy movie that plays in this man's mind - two figures fighting for a castle.

An explosive temper or a smoldering rage often masks a deep feeling of pain. We think that if we frighten people away, we can avoid being hurt even more. In fact, just the opposite is the case. By covering our wounds with armor we are preventing them from being healed. By lashing out at others we keep ourselves from getting the love and nourishment we need.

If this description seems to fit you, it's time to stop fighting. There is so much love available to you if you just let it in. Start by forgiving yourself: you're worth it.

Imagining the other, click the backside of the second card to display the second card. This represents the other's input to the relationship or situation.

When you are alone you are not alone, you are simply lonely - and there is a tremendous difference between loneliness and aloneness. When you are lonely you are thinking of the other, you are missing the other.


Loneliness is a negative state. You are feeling that it would have been better if the other were there - your friend, your wife, your mother, your beloved, your husband. It would have been good if the other were there, but the other is not. Loneliness is absence of the other.


Aloneness is the presence of oneself. Aloneness is very positive. It is a presence, overflowing presence. You are so full of presence that you can fill the whole universe with your presence and there is no need for anybody.

Commentary:

When there is no "significant other" in our lives we can either be lonely, or enjoy the freedom that solitude brings. When we find no support among others for our deeply felt truths, we can either feel isolated and bitter, or celebrate the fact that our vision is strong enough even to survive the powerful human need for the approval of family, friends or colleagues.

If you are facing such a situation now, be aware of how you are choosing to view your "aloneness" and take responsibility for the choice you have made.

The humble figure in this card glows with a light that emanates from within. One of Gautam Buddha's most significant contributions to the spiritual life of humankind was to insist to his disciples, "Be a light unto yourself." Ultimately, each of us must develop within ourselves the capacity to make our way through the darkness without any companions, maps or guide.

Click the backside of the third card to display the third card. This represents the composite energies, the two of you together.


Man is split. Schizophrenia is a normal condition of man--at least now. It may not have been so in the primitive world, but centuries of conditioning, civilization, culture and religion have made man a crowd--divided, split, contradictory.... But because this split is against his nature, deep down somewhere hidden the unity still survives. Because the soul of man is one, all the conditionings at the most destroy the periphery of the man. But the center remains untouched--that's how man continues to live. But his life has become a hell.


The whole effort of Zen is how to drop this schizophrenia, how to drop this split personality, how to drop the divided mind of man, how to become undivided, integrated, centered, crystallized. The way you are, you cannot say that you are. You don't have a being. You are a marketplace--many voices. If you want to say 'yes', immediately the 'no' is there. You cannot even utter a simple word 'yes' with totality.... In this way happiness is not possible; unhappiness is a natural consequence of a split personality.

Commentary:

The person on this card brings a new twist to the old idea of "getting stuck between a rock and a hard place"! But we are in precisely this sort of situation when we get stuck in the indecisive and dualistic aspect of the mind. Should I let my arms go and fall head-first, or let my legs go and fall feet-first? Should I go here or there? Should I say yes or no? And whatever decision we make, we will always wonder if we should have decided the other way. The only way out of this dilemma is, unfortunately, to let go of both at once. You can't work your way out of this one by solving it, making lists of pros and cons, or in any way working it out with your mind. Better to follow your heart, if you can find it. If you can't find it, just jump--your heart will start beating so fast there will be no mistake about where it is!

Click the backside of the fourth card to display the fourth card. This represents The Insight. And in my case, gives me a positive "to do" task.

In Sanskrit the name is alaya vigyan, the house where you go on throwing into the basement things that you want to do but you cannot, because of social conditions, culture, civilization. But they go on collecting there, and they affect your actions, your life, very indirectly. Directly, they cannot face you--you have forced them into darkness, but from the dark side they go on influencing your behavior. They are dangerous, it is dangerous to keep all those inhibitions inside you. It is possible that these are the things that come to a climax when a person goes insane. Insanity is nothing but all these suppressions coming to a point where you cannot control them anymore. But madness is acceptable, while meditation is not--and meditation is the only way to make you absolutely sane.

Commentary:

The figure on this card is quite literally "all tied up in knots". His light still shines within, but he has repressed his own vitality trying to meet so many demands and expectations. He has given up all his own power and vision in return for being accepted by the very same forces that have imprisoned him. The danger of suppressing one's natural energy in this way is apparent in the cracks of a volcanic eruption about to take place around the edges of the image. The real message of the card is to find a healing outlet for this potential explosion. It is essential to find a way to release whatever tensions and stresses might be building up inside you right now. Beat on a pillow, jump up and down, go out into the wilderness and scream at the empty sky--anything to shake up your energy and allow it to circulate freely. Don't wait for a catastrophe to happen.

Wow!

It's always amazing to me when an online java scripting program manages to come up with such an intuitive grasp of a situation. Either that... or I am an extremely powerful person who can manipulate tarot cards even when they aren't actually real but merely a digital representation thereof...

Talking To My Mother

Woke up this morning wishing for stuff that probably will never happen. And, actually, I went to bed and tossed and turned all night wishing for that same stuff... trying to figure out what, if anything, I could do to make it so... For example:

I wish my mother would stop being crazy and start acting "normal."

How's that for a wish list topper? I bet it's on a lot of wish lists... So, my mother had open heart surgery, and came home crazy.  Ok. That's not entirely true. Before the surgery, the passive aggressive controlling behavior and all that goes with it was definitely there. She was just a lot better at hiding it. And she didn't become crazy after she went home from the hospital... she was pretty crazy in the hospital too. And the most annoying part of the whole thing is that it cannot be described... I mean... I could tell you stories... and you'd just think I was a bitch and a bad daughter. (Which I probably am.) And you'd make excuses for her because, well, "she's old..."  (Which she actually is.) And I just wish I could have a talk with her - a real conversation... where I say what I really think and she says what she really thinks... but she absolutely will not allow it - and it occured to me this morning that I haven't had a real conversation with my mother since... well... I can't even remember... probably back when I was 5 years old right before she sent me away to boarding school... maybe not even then...

So... rather than get all frustrated about it, I'm here this morning to say all those things. And since I can't say them to her, I'm going to say them to the world wide web! Here goes:
  1. So, why are you so angry?
  2. Are you mad at me because I won't come down and move in with you and take care of you?
  3. Don't you realize that you are impossible to take care of?
  4. That nobody can do anything right? Even when (and especially because) you're right there micro-managing every little detail?
  5. That when I'm around you for more than 2 hours I start to feel strangled and my soul starts to die?
  6. And maybe that's because you don't see me? or hear me? And yet you expect me to not only see you and hear you but read your mind as well?
  7. Do you have any idea how tiring that is? To have to read the nuances of every minute facial expression and be expected to guess what it is that's going on in your mind? And then based on that guess, say and./or do the exact right thing in the exact right way? 
  8. Isn't this why I ran away from home? Why I live thousands of miles away? And why I don't invite you to come and live with me?
  9. Or maybe you are just angry at me because I keep trying to make you acknowledge and do something about your anxiety and your depression.
  10. Maybe you aren't angry at me at all... maybe you're mad at Daddy for dying and leaving you all alone.
  11. Do you realize that your anxiety started when he died?
  12. And is that because now you have to actually live with yourself? You don't have the lovely distraction of someone else to fret and fuss over?
  13. It must be hard for you now that you can't use Daddy as an excuse to get what you want. 
  14. That's one of the hardest things for you, isn't it... actually coming right out and saying what you want. So much easier to preface it with... "Bill wants... or your daddy needs... or Bill's tired... or etc..."
  15. As a matter of fact, taking care of a crazy cranky old woman isn't nearly as terrible when she's honestly cranky and admittedly crazy. It's all that pretending that gets on everyone's nerves...
  16. Did you know that Gracie hates... absolutely hates being called your "little sweetie"? You should know that because she's told you not to do it a number of times. And yet, when you are mad at her, and pretending not to be, that's what you call her every time! Wouldn't it just be simpler and easier to say "I'm mad at you" ?
  17. And what's up with the dogged persistence when it comes to pounding it into my head that I'm old and used up? We are not "two old widow women" who can hang out together! We not "old cronies." Not now - not ever!
  18. And the next time you tell me that, I'm going to start asking penetrating and uncomfortable questions... and if you suddenly have a bad connection and have to hang up, I'm going to call you back and ask you some more of them! How's that for a great threat?
  19. Or maybe you are angry at God...
  20. Now that's a good one. You've been shoving God and Jesus down my throat ever since I took my first breath - and now? God? Jesus? The bible? Prayer? Haven't heard word one about any of those things since you came home from the hospital.... I think you are angry at God.
  21. What happened? Did he ignore you? Did he not answer your prayers correctly? Did you try to micro-manage God's will... and it didn't work out? What?
  22. How many bibles did you pass out at the hospital? 25? 50? All that fake cheerfulness and bible sharing... and what did it get you? Are you happy? 
  23. And is that what all this anxiety is about? You've devoted your whole life to a religion, a book, a belief and now... it isn't working for you anymore?
  24. I think we need to talk about God... I really do... maybe I could tell you what I think about your God... wouldn't that be something?
  25. Are you angry because you didn't die on the operating table like you thought? Was that your plan?
  26. You don't want to live any more and now you have to? Is that what this is all about? 
  27. And what's this thing about blaming everyone else for what ails you? You have anxiety and it's not you... it couldn't be you... must be the medication... You don't have any energy and it's not you being depressed... must be the medication... must be something the doctors did or didn't do... couldn't be because you aren't doing anything except focusing on how shitty you feel...
  28. When are you going to step up and take responsibility for how you feel in your heart?
  29. Never?
  30. What if one time, just one time, you actually spoke the truth of what's in your mind and heart.... no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how inappropriate, no matter how "wrong"... How would your life change then?
  31. I keep having this thought - Who are you and where is my real mother? What did you do with her? But actually, your ability to manipulate through passive aggressive behavior is so well honed - you are so extremely good at tapping into whatever it is that will engage the people around you to dance to your tune... you have so much skill... I've got to believe that what we are finally seeing is the real you.
  32. I believe that when we are tired and frightened - who we really are comes to the surface.... we don't have the will or the energy to hide it anymore... Add to that mix any kind of physical discomfort- pain, nausea -- and you have a recipe for Hey Look At Me - This Is Who I Really Am. And I was really hoping that a beautifully sweet, kind, and loving person was hiding inside you.... BUT NO!
  33. And I'm disappointed... at first I was even surprised.... now I'm just frustrated and disappointed. How dare you not be who I want you to be?
  34. That makes me angry! So I figure it must make you angry that I have never been, nor will I ever be who you want me to be! 
  35. I did pretend to be that person, and it seemed to work for a while. But in your heart, you must know that it was just a persona, not the real me... in your heart you must know that I'll never ever be "nice" and that I'll never be content to follow the rules and be a "good girl." 
  36. I also want to thank you for showing me just how it is that I became who I really am... and why I like who I really am way more than I like who you really are... and absolving me from any guilt I may have been feeling about having no desire whatever to come down and take care of you in your old age.
  37. Interestingly, despite all this, and maybe even because of all this, I do love you. I've known you longer than I've known any other human being. I do think the world is a better place because you were in it. And it's actually quite amazing that you have been able to accomplish so much good in your life all while hiding this terrible secret of who you really are!
  38. And it makes me sad that we will never have this conversation... you won't hear what I really think, and I'm pretty sure you won't ever be able to express how you really feel or what you really think.
  39. And please, mom, would you stop being crazy and start acting normal? Could we just have one real conversation in this lifetime? I can be about anything you want it to be about as long as it's real and not just another mindless chat about the weather. 
So there it is... everything I'd like to say to my mother today. (Tomorrow there might be more.) And what about you? What would you like to say to your mother?

Oh, and by the way - in that picture, my mother is actually furious with me, but of course not saying so.... and just looking at the picture brings back that whole suffocating feeling... that aura... that energy field that she generates when stuffing all that rage and keeping it hidden under a facade of niceness. And do I feel better now? and less frustrated? Sadly, no.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Zombie Caterpillars?

I know it sounds crazy... but it's actually true!

The parasitoid wasp Glyptapanteles lays its eggs, about 80 at a time, in young geometrid caterpillars. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the caterpillar's body fluids. When they are fully developed, they eat through the caterpillar's skin, attach themselves to a nearby branch or leaf and wrap themselves up in a cocoon.

Having partially developed inside caterpillars, the larvae of the wasps manipulate their hosts into watching over them as a mother or bodyguard might.

The caterpillar, still alive, behaves as though controlled by the cocooned larvae. Instead of going about its usual daily business, it stands arched over the cocoons without moving away or feeding.

Here's a video:



The caterpillar - now effectively a zombie - stays alive until the adult wasps hatch.

"We don't know exactly what kills the caterpillars, but it is fascinating that the moment of death seems to be tuned to the duration of the wasp's pupal stage," says Arne Janssen of the University of Amsterdam.

Although Janssen and his colleagues do not know how the parasites make the caterpillars change their behaviour, they think that a few larvae in each brood may sacrifice themselves to help their brothers and sisters.

"If we dissect the caterpillars, we find one or two parasitoid larvae have stayed behind, even after the rest of the brood has emerged and formed cocoons," says Janssen.

It could be that the larvae that remain in the host control its behaviour in order to make it protect the rest of the brood.

Cool huh? I found this at New Scientist, where you can read the entire article.

Zombie Cockroach Cure?

And how about this? Scientists have developed a cure for zombie cockroaches... I guess because we need more of them? Or is it because there really will be a zombie apocalypse and we're going to need the cure for ourselves? And is it wasps who will turn us into zombies? Or scientists experimenting with them? I don't know... what do you think? Here's a video:



Watch how jewel wasps turn cockroaches into "zombies" and find out about the antidote scientists have discovered.

For more info see this article at New Scientist

Monday, March 5, 2012

Love it!


Too funny!

Love is not a Feeling

I also like this definition of love (from wikipedia). I think it might even be true:

Psychologist Erich Fromm maintained in his book "The art of loving" that love is not merely a feeling but is also actions, and that in fact, the "feeling" of love is superficial in comparison to ones commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time. In this sense, Fromm held that love is ultimately not a feeling at all, but rather is a commitment to, and adherence to, loving actions towards another, ones self, or many others, over a sustained duration. Fromm also described Love as a conscious choice that in its early stages might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment.

All Is For Love


In the Persian culture, everything is encompassed by love and all is for love, starting from loving friends and family, husbands and wives, and eventually reaching the divine love that is the ultimate goal in life. Over seven centuries ago, Sa'di wrote:

The children of Adam are limbs of one body
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time afflicts one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others
You are not worthy to be called by the name of "man."

Source: Wikipedia

In Love?


Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.

You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore.

Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain.

I hate love.

~Neil Gaiman

But wait! There's more!

But wait, there's more. Not satisfied with what the dictionary had to say about love, I took a trip to wikipedia to see what they had to say about it. Wow! That was a lot of information... Here's their simplest explanation:

Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another". Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.


In English, love refers to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure ("I loved that meal") to interpersonal attraction ("I love my partner"). "Love" may refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros, to the emotional closeness of familial love, or the platonic love that defines friendship, to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.


Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.


Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species. People with developmental disorders may have a limited or minimal capability of experiencing love.

Definition of Love

Here's the dictionary definition of love. It's a long list. How interesting that in tennis love means nothing, zero, zilch. How did that come about, I wonder...

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. sexual passion or desire.
  4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
  5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
  6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
  7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
  8. ( initial capital letter ) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
  9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
  10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
  11. the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
  12. the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
  13. Chiefly Tennis . a score of zero; nothing.
  14. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.
  15. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
  16. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
  17. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
  18. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
  19. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
  20. to have sexual intercourse with.

What is Love Actually?

So, what is love, anyway... everybody talks about it... we all want it... don't we? I can find quotes, and images, books and lengthy dissertaions about love - how to get it, how to express it, where to find it, where not to find it... but what is love actually? Here's one definition:


I looked up the dictionary definition and came up with a short version that seems true to me. Here it is:

Love is a feeling of warm personal attachment, profoundly tender, a feeling in which you find pleasure and receive great benefit from when you give it, and also when you receive it.

And that's probably why that quote about wierd love sounds so true. How profoundly wonderful it is to find someone whose wierdness is compatible with your own. Wouldn't it right away give you a pleasurable feeling of safety and delight to discover that suddenly you are not alone? And how would you not get attached to that? Of course we love the people whose wierdness is compatible with ours - we love them all the way up until the day we change, or they change... or life splits us apart.

Do You Love Me?

There is a book about love, and the different ways we express it and accept it. It's called The 5 Love Languages. I read it several years ago, and found it interesting and helpful. Here's a quickie synopsis of the five languages.

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Not sure what yours is? You can take this quickie quiz. Interesting, huh? The first time I read this book, it was pretty clear that I'm one of those Quality Time sort of people, and I thought I had it all figured out. Recently, however, a friend of mine also read the book, and we got into a great discussion about it. And as a result, I'm not so sure that Gary Chapman got it exactly right. I think he's missing a few key components to the whole "I know you love me because..." thing.

For example, what about these?

I Can Count On You
This is the language of you're the soft place I land on when things go awry. I can count on you to back me when the chips are down. You will tell me the truth as you see it. You will listen to me rail about life and tell me to shut up when it's time to stop. And when things are going good - you're right there to enjoy them with me. When I reach for you - I always find you there.

You Know Me
This language is all about knowing who I really am. You don't just see the outer me. You see past all my bullshit and into the deeper me. If you give me a gift, it's something I would actually like. It resonantes. If you hug me or touch me - it's a comfort. If you say to me that you appreciate me - or need me - you say it because it's true not because it's what I want to hear. If you do something practical for me - it never leaves me feeling less than or beholden.

We Can Be Real With Each Other
This language is all about no barriers. I can say what I think, I can be totally and completely honestly me - faults, flaws, and all. I can be vulnerable and raw with you. And you with me. We trust each other because we don't hide what we think, we don't hide from what we don't want to see, we just simply are who we are. Unflinching. I don't scare you. And you don't scare me.

And better yet, what about this one:

You know me, the real me, the raw me, the totally messed up me - and not only do you not run away screaming, you actually stick around because you want to. This one is pretty much self explanatory. And I think it's the one love language that we all respond to. Unconditional acceptance. I don't think it even matters - gifts, words, actions, time, affection... it's all nothing if you can't accept me in the raw... me in the real... me at my core... What if I could be that for everyone I know... what if you could?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Four Kinds Of People

A while back I was thinking about ... I dunno ... stuff. And it occured to me that there are four kinds of people in the world.
  1. Rule Makers
    Basically, a rule maker likes to tell other people what to do, and does best when surrounded by rule followers. Rule makers are pretty easy to spot. I'm sure you know at least one or two.
  2. Rule Followers
    The world is full of rule followers. And it's a good thing that most people are willing to follow most of the rules - otherwise there would be chaos, and life would be a lot more scary than it already is.
  3. Rule Breakers and Benders
    Not all rule breakers are criminals and bad guys. Many of them are freedom fighters and activists. Think about it - women's rights? civil rights? gay rights? Rule breaking at it's best!
  4. Rules? Really? I didn't know there were rules.
    You gotta love these guys! Innovators.... fools... dreamers... idiots... geniuses... They fly kites during thunderstorms... Do you think it's true that what you don't know can't hurt you?
It also occured to me we have, inside ourselves, each of these four qualities. Sometimes there's a healthy balance and sometimes not so much. So where do you stand? Who has the upper hand in your life? Is it time to let the dreamer out? Do you need to activate your inner rule breaker? Maybe it's high time you made some rules and actually followed them? What's your personal balance point? Who carries the most weight for you? And how is that different from what kills your soul or eats you alive?

Good questions, huh?

Amtrak Travel Tips


I recently traveled to Texas via Amtrak, and I have to say it turned out to be quite a learning experience on many different levels. Here's what I learned about train travel in general:

It really does matter where you sit.  And here's why:

If the train is going north, and you are sitting on the east side of the train, you might as well forget about looking out the window and enjoying the sights because the sun will be glaring in your eyes for at least half the day. I know, because my train was going south and I was sitting on the west side of the train, and I finally had to move because I couldn't stand it any more.

And if you do change seats, pay attention. Don't sit directly across from Jehovah Witnesses unless you enjoy stupid religious bullshit. They cannot keep their mouths shut! And even if they aren't talking to you - they will be talking to the people in front of you, behind you, next to you, and three seats over from you... I know this to be true because it happened to me.

Don't forget your MP3 player. Don't forget batteries for your MP3 player. And above all, don't forget where you stashed it. Also, it can't hurt to invest in some good ear plugs just in case the above happens and you end up stuck sitting in the midst of a cluster of people who are talking endlessly and mindlessly about stuff you think is incredibly stupid..

If you don't like the people sitting around you, and if there are empty seats but you don't want to have to go to the trouble to move your stuff... you can always do the following:
  1. Borrow a crying baby from a frazzled young mom. She'll be happy for the relief - believe me! And it will clear out your area in no time. Even the sight of a baby and/or small children has the effect of clearing out an area... unless the children are attached to a young mom (or dad) traveling alone. If the mom or dad is eye candy - or black - or both... next thing you know there will be an extended family surrounding them... more on that later...  
  2. Can't find a baby? Pop your ear buds in, turn on your MP3 player and start singing (loudly) to the music. This works best if you are tone deaf and have a terrible voice. People will fall all over themselves to get away from you! Trust me.. it's true!
The second thing I learned is that it really does matter what you look like. And here's why:

Right away I noticed that people who look the same tend to sit together and talk to each other. Middle-aged fat men who smoke hung out with other middle-aged fat men who smoked. They swapped cigarettes and bullshit on the smoke breaks. Nobody else wanted anything to do with them... it was kind of sad really...

Well preserved, well manicured old people tend to travel in packs... or at the very least pairs. Most of the ones I saw traveled first class, and spent a lot of time complaining about the "service." Grandmotherly ladies (less well preserved) were most often seen in pairs, and generally seemed to like their travel adventure. When they were not traveling first class, they appeared to enjoy their trip much more...

And here is something else I noticed. White people (unless they were religious nuts) pretty much only talked to white people. White couples (with and without children) were extremely unlikely to talk to anyone other than each other - it was almost as if no one else existed except for them. Black people on the other hand, were almost instantly friendly with one another. Sharing food, watching each other's children, laughing, joking, passing out phone numbers, addresses, and invitations to visit...

Now... if you are a young black man, and you'd like to meet women. Ride the train. I'm telling you - it's a sure fire way to get hit on. I didn't see a single exception to that rule on my entire trip - and it was a long trip (6 days total) ... Young black men on a train are girl magnets. White girls, black girls, asian girls... girls with pink hair and tattoos... girls with children... fat girls... skinny girls... even girls traveling with guy friends... young black men traveling with small children will also attract motherly women who will offer to babysit during smoke breaks and layovers... fascinating...

If you are young, a guy, white, and a redneck... well... that's a whole different story. Chances are you talk too loud, you just broke up with your girlfriend, and your cell phone has a really annoying ringtone which is set way too loud, and is constantly alerting you to stupid texts from (or about) the ex girlfriend. Not only that, but you will talk to anyone ... even people who are studiously avoiding eye contact and trying hard to get away from you (because they are sick of hearing about your girlfriend). And, when you run out of people to tell your story too... chances are good that you will sing loudly and off key while listening to "she done me wrong" songs on your phone or MP3 player.

Another thing to be on the look out for is disheveled old ladies - the not well manicured types - they never travel first class and pretty much will talk to anyone... about anything... and you can definitely spot them by the pinwheels spinning in their eyes. Crazy old ladies ride the train - yes - it's true.

Interestingly... and here is one of my great insights. If you don't fit into any of the above categories... and people can't quite tell "who" you are, or what you're about... they will pretty much leave you alone. And if you don't smile at people who have just boarded and are looking for a place to sit, but instead shoot daggers out of your eyes at them... well... they'll try really really hard to find someplace else to sit.

And here's another thing: Don't piss off the Conductor.

The conductor for part of my trip was this cute little hispanic dude named Jesus. Which I found interesting when placed in context with the reason for my trip, and my Jehovah Witness encounter... but that's a whole other story.

Anyway... somebody, I don't know who... but I'm sure it was a man, was having a really hard time not pissing all over everything in the bathroom. And yes, the train does sway and jump around a bit.. but... on the walls as well as on the floor? come on... that was just nasty. Plus, there was someone who couldn't figure out how to flush the toilet... or didn't want to... or something. And Jesus was quite annoyed because I think he was the one having to clean up the mess... and probably the persnickety retirees were throwing a bitch fit about just about everything else... and so he gave everyone a talk about "Good Grief... you can at least flush the toilet and clean up after yourself..."

Our punishment? He didn't pass out pillows when it got to be late and time to sleep, nor did he turn off the overhead lights at 11pm as usual but left them on several hours longer... and to top it off... our particular section hooked up to a different train at one point, and instead of turning our seats around, we had to ride backwards for upwards of 3 hours. I think he was going to make us take the whole 10 hr trip backwards, but one of the young black men (and his bevy of brand new girlfriends) knew how to turn the seats around, and so we did it ourselves.

And by the way... It's very disconcerting to ride a train sitting backwards... your mind plays tricks on you. And even if you know for sure that you are actually traveling in the right direction, the fact that the scenery is moving the opposite way it "should" be, tells your brain that you are going the wrong way. And if you're me, pretty soon you're playing the "what-if" game... What if I really am on the wrong train? What if we really are going backwards? What if I fall asleep and wake up in New Orleans instead of San Antonio? And is the train really going backwards? What if it isn't? What if I'm actually not traveling backwards? What if I'm even really on a train at all?

Which brings me to the last thing I learned about traveling on trains. And this may not be true for everyone, but it was true for me. And that is this:

When you crawl out from under your rock, climb out of your familiar box, or leave the confines of your hidey hole... you will come face to face with that cowardly part of yourself that hid under that rock or in that hole in the first place. I know this is true because it happened to me... and I'll probably write more about that later.... but for now, I'll leave you with this thought:

And there is the headlight, shining far down the track, glinting off the steel rails that, like all parallel lines, will meet in infinity, which is after all where this train is going.

~Bruce Catton

Places Everyone Goes

Ok, I'm pretty sure none of us have been to Venus, Uranus, or Mars... despite these lovely travel posters - it's not as easy to get there as they would have you believe. I do however have a list of places that are easy to get to and I'm betting that you've been to every single one of them at least once in your life! Don't believe me? Read on... 
  • I have been in many places, but I've rarely been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.
  •  I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.
  •  I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work. I live close so it's a short drive.
  • I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.
  • I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
  • I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
  • And while I'd like to be in Fallible, I find myself in Ept and in Adequate more often than not.
  • I do, however, get quite a lot of work done when I am in Dustrious.
  • Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.
  • One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
  • And, sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not.
  • People keep telling me I'm in Denial but I'm positive I've never been there before!
  • I have been in Deepshit many times; the older I get, the easier it is to get there. I actually kind of enjoy it there.
  • So far, I haven't been in Continent; but my travel agent says I'll be going soon.

Ok. I better stop now before I find myself in Tolerable!

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