Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Relationship Responsibilities

I've believed for a while now that how I react to things is all about me, and not about the stimulus. And the opposite: how someone else reacts to things (even if that thing is me) is all about them, and not about the stimulus. At some point, though, that stops being entirely true. I mean, even though I'm totally not responsible for other people's emotions and behaviors, it's still not ok for me to go around slapping people and calling them rude names. Those two things are clear to me. What hasn't been very clear is where that line is, or how to figure out where that line is.

So tonight in my group therapy we were listening to a CD of a woman sharing some of her ideas about boundaries and how they get set and that kind of thing, and I was struck with the inspiration for a bit of a formula for figuring out my dilemma.

If I am in a relationship with someone (any kind of relationship: significant other, friend, relative, customer service/customer, whatever) and some stimulus that I give creates a response in them that they don't like (and of course, the vice versa is true as well), there are four options:

1. We (or one of us) can decide we will no longer continue the relationship.
2. I can decide that I am willing to change my stimulus-action.
3. The other person can decide they are willing to change the beliefs they hold that result in the feeling/thought/behavior reaction that they don't want.
4. We can decide that it's a livable issue and agree it doesn't need to be addressed further.

Note: I don't think it's necessary to discuss this in every relationship. If I don't like the way the cashier at the grocery store speaks to me, I'll just put up with it for the 3 minutes I have to deal with her (as long as it's not abusive or whatever, of course), and then probably choose to avoid her line in the future. That's me deciding first number 4 (I can live with it for now) and then number 1 (I won't continue the relationship). Things like that, I don't think need to be talked about. But in deeper relationships, I think discussion might be important.

It's helpful for me to have this kind of framework for where two ideas meet in a very fuzzy way, so I thought I'd share in case it turns out to be helpful for anyone else.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is kind of a bittersweet day for me. To observe this one, I spent some time at the cemetery.

This is my mom's grave. Sometimes I think my relationship with her is better now. I know that she doesn't have things like ego and judgment anymore, and that makes it easier to let go of mine sometimes when I pray for her or think of her.

She loved purple.

I spent a while there by her grave, praying and thinking and getting a bit teary sometimes. There was a moment when I felt intensely loved, a love that extended to both my brother and I. I had the strong feeling that I should call my brother and let him know about it, which I will do as soon as I finish writing this.

At one point a thought came to me, apropos of nothing that I had been thinking, that I should take one of the tulips for myself, as my own Mother's Day Flower.

This is my son's grave, just a few meters from my mother's. Mothering doesn't stop just because you can't hold your child.

After spending some time at Kahlil's grave, I got up and walked around a bit. I helped an older woman find the grave she was looking for. I saw an extended family having a cookout around a grave. I saw two children playing tag while nearby a middle-aged man was sobbing into an elderly woman's arms. I don't know what the truth there is, but what I saw was a grieving father comforted by his mother, glad but still somehow hurt that his children either don't remember or have somehow moved on.

Loss is universal, but I wouldn't exchange the honor of being my mother's daughter or my son's mother, for anything.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I've recently been reminded of how many kids want to just be kids, but because of prejudice or judgment or abuse or neglect never really get to just hang out in the world in joyful innocence. So I'm gonna post a few pictures here of kids I've known who are absolutely gorgeous in every way, but have extra struggles in their lives.

Next time you see a kid who doesn't adhere to your idea of beauty, or behaves in a way that you might not understand, or interacts in a way that's not what you are used to... stop and take a minute and realize all they wanna do is be kids, and they deserve to be loved for it.

Eating Well

I've been trying for a while to figure out ways to eat well for my body while I work on convincing myself that cooking isn't a horrible odious task (which kinda might take a while). For me, eating well means only natural sugars (and not many of those), gluten free, largely dairy free, and very little processed food. Here is my current strategy:

  • I found a local food service that delivers premade gluten-free, sugar-free, 80% or more organic/pesticide free meals once a week. All I have to do is heat them up; they even come with instructions! They have a minimum amount for delivery, which it turns out takes care of most of my lunches and dinners for the week.
  • I have fruit, rice cakes, and a few snack-chips sorts of things for snacks.
  • Breakfast has still been a bit of an issue (I'm even lazier in the morning than usual!) so I just went and bought fruit salad and smoothie ingredients, a few gluten-free cereals and coconut milk, gluten-free bread (really only good as toast, imo, 'cause it's rather dry), eggs, and bacon. My idea here is to find a time when the kitchen doesn't seem quite so unpleasant an idea and go ahead and make up the bacon, fruit salad, and a smoothie, to save in the fridge (somehow eggs don't seem very savable and the cereal is kinda already done). 
  • For those times when for some reason I really want to eat out (I sometimes really like the feeling of sitting at a table and being served, it suits my "nurture me now" side), I have gotten myself a gift card to a delicious raw cafe that is near me. Somehow having the giftcard makes me more inclined to eat there, since the money is already spent. There is also a decent Thai restaurant just up the road (I haven't asked them about gift cards yet). My idea is to try to stick to those two places for eating out (when I'm on my own; social adventures are different). 
So that's my idea. It seems kind of fool proof so long as I exercise a little will power, but I am known for being stubborn when it comes to bettering myself!