I’ve written a lot about love, laughter, and heartache on my blog, but not much about anger or fear. Those are hard emotions to write about. Most of us were taught not to let our anger show and that we should control it. But we’ve seen a few people in our life and on TV lose their cool. We’re told there’s no reason to be afraid. There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s nothing under your bed. It seems to me that those two feelings/emotions have big hairy monsters in our minds associated with them. They can sometimes be more irrational than real because most of us are not being chased by sharks or big hungry bears, but when we feel these emotions, they feel so real! They can paralyze us. They cause stress. They cause health problems. They can make us think we are not good enough or not worthy of love and happiness.
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Entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone who has a job and/or is a full time parent face these demons every day. It’s how we deal with it and how we treat others that counts. Compassion can alleviate fears. Empathy and encouragement can help people achieve things they never thought they could. Fear and Anger can make people get things done (e.g., dark ages, torture, and slaves who built the Egyptian pyramids) but it can make them sick and unhappy at the same time. It can cause a ripple effect on society, on their spouse, or their kids. If people are unhappy at work, it has been shown they are more abusive at home and don’t treat their co-workers well. I believe encouraging, loving environments create exponentially better outcomes. Is it because I’m a woman? I don’t think so. I think Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, many great business leaders, and Gandhi felt the same way. Maybe they don’t get as much media attention but go find the places in your city that are consistently voted the best places to work and you’ll see successful businesses with great leaders who care, trust, and believe in their employees.
We are all flawed humans, but the thing that keeps us connected is empathy and love. Without that connection and belief in each other, we might as well be on an island alone or dead. We can start businesses and scare people to do what we think they should, but the best will leave because in the modern world they have other choices than to be beaten & downtrodden and to lay bricks while being whipped. You’ll end up with “yes men/women” who are too afraid to tell you what’s really going on because they are scared for their livelihoods. But you’ll be surprised at the psychology of some of us humans because a lot of us don’t realize our genius. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jeffry Fry’s daily email he sent out July 16, 2011 that’s still in my inbox and printed & pasted to the pillar near my cube at work:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein
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I mentioned I had a post brewing in my head about this fortune cookie “statement” (i.e., not a fortune) in a prior post. I actually did see a real fortune the other day that said something like “The love of your life is just around the corner,” but sadly I did not open that cookie, our office manager (who has been married almost 20 years) at work did, so maybe she is re-discovering the love of her life.
Love is a strange emotion or thing or state of being. It can be like a drug just like in the movie Love and Other Drugs I just saw. It doesn’t often make sense. People love Apple’s iPhone but if you did the practical analysis, the Google Android phone might be better. In other words people’s imagination of the iPhone triumphs over hard data (i.e., intelligence). Or there might even be a better phone option than that. But people fall in love seemingly all of a sudden and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why but some people like Steve Jobs seem to know how to push the buttons of a significant enough portion of the population and get them to fall in love with his ideas/products. Selling to consumers is a tough job because we are fickle. We can fall in and out of love (or is that “like”) of products pretty easily. Probably because society doesn’t look kindly on us falling in and out of love with people, so we project that piece of our humanity onto objects. No one will judge you or make you feel guilty for falling in and out of love with certain products. I just came up with that piece of philosophy/wisdom so take it for what it’s worth!
Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) loves to cartoon about LOVE and I love the poignancy of his love cartoons. Jeffrey Fry sent out a quote recently: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” –Mother Teresa.
When people fall in love (infatuation), they certainly overlook the practical/potentially annoying things about something or someone (e.g., you have to keep re-booting the phone, but it looks pretty, it gives you good info on how to get places, and it gives you games to play or if it’s a person for some period of time you don’t see their flaws because he or she makes you feel special/noticed or it seems like they really see or understand you.).
The very few times I’ve fallen in romantic love in my life, I’ve been completely blind sided by it. Knocked over like a ton of bricks. Silly and stupid. And on some occasions, I never even had a relationship with the guy – guess I’m just a romantic at heart and they somehow happened to connect with the combination of my mind/heart, which is very hard to do. When I’ve fallen out of love, it seems to have happened over time and not suddenly after disappointment, disconnection, pain, and just the exhaustion that comes along with daily living. I’m not trying to say I believe in ‘love at first site’ because I don’t, but that moment when you realize you love someone or ‘something’ seems to just happen without any warning. One day you don’t have much feeling toward someone or you don’t know what you feel and the next you find you are in love with them. Which has led me to the conclusion that we are not meant to love just one person (romantically) our entire lives. I can see Jeffrey Fry reading this and thinking that I don’t know what true love is yet because he has studied it and apparently knows what it is. He’s probably right, I don’t know.
There are people in ‘arranged marriages’ who grow to love each other and there are people who had ‘love marriages’ that didn’t work out. It’s all that stuff that happens (and doesn’t happen) in between the years, the kids, the jobs, behind closed doors, etc. that I guess makes some marriages “work” and others don’t. The same is true for business start-ups but currently the odds of a marriage making it to “death do us part” is higher (4o to 50%) than a small business making it 50 years (< 10%). Plus, more people change their jobs and companies they work for now than they did 30+ years ago. Go figure.
But the closest I’ve come to experiencing true love is the love I feel for my children, and yes the intensity of my love for them did surprise me at first. And although they sometimes annoy the heck out of me (any parent who says their kids have not annoyed them at some point is a liar), I cannot even imagine a day where I would fall out of love with them. I can see a day I may not like them sometimes, especially if they do something naughty or talk back to me, but I believe that I will always love them and do my best to support them.
I wonder if it’s harder to fall in or out of love? That is the question.
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Some of you may have been wondering why I took such an extended blogging break and why I’ve been so spotty in the times between posting. I thought quite some time about posting this, but then I thought I might never reach my potential as a writer or even as a human being if I don’t throw caution to the wind and risk offending or for that matter validating/pleasing others. Plus I thought that if it helps one person or helps someone think differently even if just for a nanosecond, then it would have been worth it. Some of you may recall I wrote About Laughter, About Sleep, About Writing and About Car Paint. This post is About Pain.
There’s physical pain and then there’s emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. Most of us have experienced all different kinds in life. The worst physical pain in my life came as a result of breastfeeding my son over 7 1/2 years ago now. I developed an infection that hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep and if I was able to nod off, I would wake up with tears in my eyes. I remember thinking “I want to die right now, but I can’t because I must feed my baby.“ I was determined to breastfeed him no matter how many people said I should give up. I have never wished to die before or since. I have wished to be waited on hand & foot while laying in a hammock on a beach drinking a pina colada and having my feet massaged, so if that’s what happens after death, I’m all in! Thankfully the maternal instinct is so strong, and we live in a day & age where antibiotics are available that in a few excruciating weeks the pain was gone. But I still occasionally have memory pain that has diminished over time.
But emotional, mental, and spiritual pain seems to last much longer (unless you have chronic physical pain which probably exacerbates the emotional kind as well). And unfortunately, a week of antibiotics doesn’t cure this kind of pain. This kind of pain can start from childhood and stick with you…flaring up at various times in your life when things trigger your deep seated fears and emotional memories. There’s a theory that you are often attracted to people that have some of the same traits as people in your family did growing up because it’s a known/comfortable pattern. The theory continues that down deep, you want to resolve some of the pain that you as a child were never able to resolve, see your parents resolve, or resolve with your parents. This theory is outlined in a book called Intimate Partners: Patterns in Love and Marriage (Amazon Link), and I read it before I got married, but I didn’t really get it until now because I didn’t know what those patterns were until I was immersed in it as an adult and mother.
What happens when someone in a marriage (with kids) finally realizes that the pattern is not resolvable or they don’t know how to, don’t want to, or can’t resolve it? They suffer or get divorced and the pain is horrid. Especially the pain you feel for the kids as you imagine the pain they might feel. I lived through a divorce myself as a child and was often caught in the middle of a lot of bitterness and anger, and I have relived that pain for my kids even though it’s a completely different situation and their dad is a very good, involved father.
What’s even harder is when you are both good people that happened to have a lot of unexpected crap happen throughout the marriage. You wonder what is wrong with you. When in most cases, there is really nothing wrong with you, but you look back and realize that neither of you knew how to nurture a marriage or you didn’t see or understand the signs that should have been big clues that something huge needed to fundamentally change in each of you. It’s like you both have blinders on until suddenly one of you takes them off and doesn’t like what they see, don’t see, feel, or don’t feel. Marriage, like life, does not come with an instruction manual and even if it did everyone is so different it would be hard to apply to your unique marriage and you would think you could wing it or that it didn’t apply to you. There are more instructions around a divorce which requires a signed agreement between the two of you outlining your responsibilities than there is before a marriage.
So, yes I just got divorced after what was probably close to a year of being separated mentally, if not physically. This past year is somewhat of a blur. It’s the hardest emotional, mental, and spiritual pain I’ve ever experienced and unfortunately there are no legal drugs I can take to make the pain disappear in a few weeks. Despite the fact that 50%-60% of marriages end up in divorce, it is the 2nd most stress inducing event anyone can experience behind death of a loved one. And it doesn’t really matter if you are the one leaving, the one being left, or it’s mutual. Mix divorce with unusual work dynamics, kids, and other personal issues and you have a recipe for a potential breakdown. Fortunately, I am very lucky/blessed to have wonderful friends, co-workers, family friends, and family who have supported me and let me cry on the phone, on email (yes, it’s possible to cry on email) or in front of them and repeatedly (until I’m sure they were sick of it) told me that everything will be OK. They let me say and write stupid (although sometimes funny) things and were kind anyway. I have never felt so out of control in my life! I mean I’ve gone months without reconciling my check book, was late on a couple of house payments, and my house (although overall neat) more disorganized than I’d like. Plus a whole shit load of other emotional stuff.
I’m still a ways away from being back to normal whatever that is, but we both love the kids immensely and right now we can’t foresee not being friends and friendly for their sakes. From my perspective, we both still respect each other and as hard as this has been, we’ve both taken the high road because that’s the kind of people we are, and we know it’s best for the kids. A child counselor told us it was obvious we loved the kids and they loved us. She also said that they got along so well with each other, were exhibiting normal behavior for going through what they were going through, and seemed happy despite what they were experiencing which of course took off about 80% of my maternal guilt. I did a post back in September 2009, called Double The Trouble, Double The Fun which stemmed from me feeling glad they had each other during this hard time their parents were going through. I felt that I/we had done at least one thing right by giving them the gift of each other to weather storms that life will inevitably bring them.
So now you know why I had such a long break from writing on the blog. My personal life started to bleed into the blog, and I needed to get a handle on things for a little while. I think back to that Entrepreneurial Ledge where I stood almost a year and a half ago. When your sleeping heart wakes up suddenly, it’s a very disorientating, scary feeling. It’s like gasping for air while at the same time trying to soak in all the colors, beauty, sounds, smells, shapes, feelings that you have not noticed/felt for years. You start falling in love with life again and it seems that pain is a part of love. You unknowingly/desperately reach out to people, anyone kind nearby to help ease this searing pain. In the case of some friends and family, they are there for you in ways you never imagined. In the case of others, they can’t or don’t know how to be there like you want/need them to be and it exacerbates and magnifies the pain. You start to realize that you are really reaching out to your lost self and the only one who can save you from drowning is YOU. Then you start the process of excruciatingly, slowly mending a broken heart and falling in love with yourself…and you wonder why and when you fell out of love in the first place.
Thank you for reading.
About the photo: The photo above is of a piece of art that my cousin, who goes by the pseudonym of Isaac Falconer, made for me when I told her I was getting a divorce. I didn’t get to see her that often growing up. She is a unique, vibrant, passionate individual. She has followed her own path and seems to have found happiness in doing so as well as people who appreciate and buy her art! She has even exhibited in Italy. The piece is called No Pleasure Garden (c) 2009 and it’s made of Chantilly lace from Italy with hand made hypo allergenic orchids affixed to two locations on the huge piece of lace. In her words, “It’s meant to be placed across the bottom of your bed as a reminder to you of YOUR personal glory – which has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with your life-mate or your kids or your professional work.“ It looks so lovely at the bottom of my bed and makes me smile when I enter the room.
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| Tags: divorce
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