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Posts Tagged ‘what has become clear’

Last week friends of mine and their three children participated in the Hunger Awareness Challenge. Each person in the family received $10 for groceries for the week plus a selection of food products from the local foodbank. The fresh produce from the foodbank included a few potatoes, a small bag of fresh beans, an onion, two squash plus a selection canned goods, 1 quart of milk, a dozen eggs, juice and a few other items. The selection is based on what is available that week. Bare in mind now that this was intended to last a family of five for one week. Also note the three children are late teens, early twenties, not young children.

The community we live in is not a wealthy one. The average family income here is on the low side for communities in Ontario with many families existing on two incomes of minimum wage. We call these folks the working poor (probably a really strong rationale for a national minimum wage). It is these families who turn to the local food bank for assistance.

I followed my friend’s postings through the week on Facebook, both their struggles and creativity with the food choices they had to work with. Denise also shared her thoughts at one point in regard to privilege. I share this as privilege has been on the forefront on many conversations these days in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and “white privilege”. Denise however, extends privilege beyond the boundaries of that particular conversation.

Here is what she offered:
Privilege has been running through my mind because so much of why we have not found this week as hard as we might is because of it (privilege). It sometimes seems an overused word but I think it’s important to recognize the role it plays. Outlining just some of this below:

  1. We know it’s only a week. You can do anything short term. Knowing something will get easier – that’s privilege
  2. We knew Farm Boy regularly has chicken on sale. And we are able to access any grocery store in the city because we are healthy and can walk, and also have cars or bikes. Not everyone does – that’s privilege
  3. I look at whole chicken and think 3 meals: a) roast it b) make pot pie c) soup (did not do soup in end because no vegetables left). We looked at rolled pork pieces, onions, curry paste and coconut milk (all from food bank) with purchased peppers (cheap this time of year) and made last night’s dinner out of it. We made biscuits for our pot pie because we had flour but ran out of potatoes. Knowing that these ingredients would work together as Andrew randomly saw them in food bank, knowing HOW to cook, and having the TIME to do these things – that’s privilege. Basically our knowledge and our job schedules allow us to make food go further.
  4. Not once did we think about the cost of hydro or water as we cooked. Or try to create nutritious meals on a single burner or in a microwave. That’s privilege too.
  5. We talked about how this time of year we are able to take advantage of farm fresh produce (potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes) at excellent prices if you buy in bulk. But you need storage, freezer capacity, canning ability – that’s privilege.
  6. On Monday I work late so Andrew cooks but he was late this Monday too and no one really thought about it until 6:30 when everyone was hungry. Under normal circumstances we’d have just ordered in on a night like that (privilege) or gone out (privilege) to save time and because we were all tired. Instead we got Erik flipping the burgers we got from Agape but had no buns but were able to swing by to pick some up on way home. It was still within our allotted allowance but we wouldn’t have gone if store too far away or inconvenient. That’s also privilege.
  7. We also talked this week about how we ALWAYS have cheese in. And coffee. And how if we see it on sale we buy it in bulk because we know we will use it. We also picked up this week (not as part of this challenge) our order of organic farm chickens to see us through winter. In order to do this, in order to save money and have a house full of food you have to have the money ahead of time, and we certainly would not do that on $10/person/week. Impossible. That’s privilege.

Privilege is defined as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group”. Honestly, I have not thought of my life as privileged until recently, my awareness growing through the essays on “white privilege” and most certainly through Denise’s observations.

In discussions with Jim following Denise’s post, we also explored the following:

  1. Both Jim and I came from humble families. Neither of our families had a great deal of money and we both had mothers who saw the value in education, who encouraged us, and set expectations for us. That was privilege, recognizing that many children do not have that.
  2. Jim and I had access to decent schools through our childhood and adolescence which prepared us to go on to higher education. That was privilege.
  3. Jim and I had access to financial aid and scholarships through sports for Jim, academics for me. That was privilege.
  4. Our post secondary studies led us into careers that supported us throughout our adult years. Given the rarity of this currently, that was privilege.
  5. Yes, we both worked diligently in our respective professions. Yes, we lived a financially responsible life and have earned our retirement. And in all of this we have travelled, owned several properties, grown and learned. And this is privilege.

I could go on and I think I have made my point. So much of what we have taken for granted over our lifetimes is simply not available to others either because of lack of resources, family support, or social networks. I am not downplaying the role I played in my own success, I am simply acknowledging that I had the will, the social support and the education, the circumstances for my life to flourish. And yes, I saw this and engaged, made choices along the way to better myself. I also recognize that I have been blessed in many ways.

I write this to encourage all of to take a step back and to recognize privilege in our own lives. Why? Honestly this reflection and understanding is making me far more compassionate and less judgmental regarding how others live and the choices they make. we never know the back story. AND, I am also basking in gratitude for the life I have experienced.

Until next time….

Thanks to Denise Nielsen for her postings.

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You show up every day, sometimes mindfully and sometimes not. You want to make a difference, in the lives of clients and co-workers, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Your intentions are sound, to live a life of purpose and hopefully passion, to be of service and to make a difference. You step into each day, into your work, and you engage, hoping that your efforts will make the world a better place.

This is how I have endeavored to live my life. But how do you measure success; how do you know what your ripple effect has been and whether you have had a beneficial influence on others and the world around you. Reality – for the most part you don’t!

So here I am, about to turn 70 years old (OMG!). I have been working in my career since I was 22. You can do the math – I have been working a long time. Sometimes I have worked in a J.O.B. – Justifiable Occupation or Business. For the most part I have worked in my Passion Place, which makes work play. I suspect that in my Passion Place I have been more successful in having an impact.

Recently, while not looking or asking, I have received a few Mental Pay Cheques, a series of comments from random sources speaking to the impact my/our (Jim and I) work has had through the years. This feedback is not solicited, it simply shows up. It is not ego building it is humbling. And yes, it does feel good especially as I am of an age where I often look back and reflect on the many roads I have traveled career wise and wonder if it has made a difference.

Now it is true that not everyone is carved for the same stone as I am. Not everyone has the luxury of pondering their purpose and designing their work accordingly; so to this end I have been fortunate.

Recently, while attending the National Sales Meeting for our primary client, Jim and I were greeted warmly by more people than we can count. We have been fortunate to work with many of the teams who are part of this multinational Pharmaceutical company over the last ten years.

Our inaugural event with this organization was a Continuing Health Education Program, The Colour of Communication, which we co-designed with their Education Department. This program was created to provide Rheumatologists, and their staff, strategies for being more effective in their communication and teaching with their patients. Over a period of three years, I had the opportunity to teach this program in twenty-three cities across Canada reaching about eighty percent of the Rheumatology community. It was demanding and it was a privilege.

At the recent National Sales meeting, rheumatologists were asked to provide feedback to our client regarding the impact they had had over the last decade. Of the three areas highlighted by the RA Community, this program, the Colour of Communication, took top billing. While Jim and I were not present for this feedback, the business unit manager made sure it was delivered to us when she saw us at the meeting. The organization was thrilled with this feedback as was I. Truly a Mental Pay Cheque.

There have been other such moments recently which I do not need to detail, only to say that when your work feels rewarding, when you sense you are making a difference even if you cannot measure it, there is a good chance you are. If your work is intentional, fueled by a sense of purpose, of being of service, you can be reassured that you are having a beneficial impact. When you go to work versus having a J.O.B. you play in an entirely different field of energy.

Pause – as I am writing this blog the phone rings. Damn, an interruption, just when I am in the flow of writing. And, nope – a coaching client calling unexpectedly just to check in and give me an update on how his business is turning around. He simply wanted to share the good news. A Mental Pay Cheque !

I am waking up and appreciating that Mental Pay Cheques are my roadSIGNS. For months now, maybe even years, I have been struggling with the idea of retirement. In fact, I really dislike the word. In conversation with some of my colleagues, I have also come to appreciate that I have nothing to retire from. It seems to me that these random Mental Pay Cheques are reminding me to stay in the world. I realize that teaching, facilitating and coaching are in my DNA, they are not roles that I play, they are me. They are a part of every conversation I have, whether that is a friend, a family member or client. It is not a J.O.B., it is my work in the world.

Whether I continue to work for remuneration or not, this is a part of me that will remain. Whew! No need to retire, I am who I am who I am.

And I am fortunate. As I mentioned earlier, I have been the creator of my own career for the last 23 years. I do not represent the majority. Some folks have to retire or are retired from their J.O.B. Then what?

I believe it is a new beginning, an adventure, an opportunity to fulfill unlived dreams, passions, and desires. Yes, I am an optimist and I believe that the Third Act, as this phase of life is now referred to, is a second chance at life. It is not to be wasted or endured. It is designed to help you live in ways you had not imagined; a time to be curious as to what is possible.

If you are reading this and wondering where to start, here are the questions that I play with and offer to clients:

  1. As I look around the world today, what is it I want to influence, shift or change?
  2. What is it that gives me joy, lights me up?
  3. What is my sense of purpose?
  4. When I decide to step away from work, what do I want my legacy to be?
  5. How do I wish to influence the world around me?
  6. What are my core values? Am I living from these?
  7. In what ways am I experiencing my joy, my purpose/passion, my values in my life/work?

In some way I feel like I can breathe again. I am in gratitude for the clients who continue to choose to work with us and I am content in the knowledge that when this ends, something else will appear. And I appreciate the random Mental Pay Cheques coming my way, reminding me of the ripple effect my work has had and continues to have.

It has taken years for me to appreciate myself and to be authentically grateful for the gift of my work in the world. It is worth pausing, taking a look at the ripple effect you are creating and have created, to receive the feedback and compliments with an open heart, and to see the gift of who you are in the world.

On that note…until next time

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Following my last blog regarding ‘curiosity and mindset’, I had the opportunity to facilitate  ‘Vision Book’ Workshop for a few friends. I admit, I am a bit of a Vision Board junkie and I enjoy the creativity and intuition that underlines this activity. It is also an apt way to explore, reflect and yes, cultivate one’s curiosity.

I also enjoy reviewing the boards months later and recognizing those aspects of the vision that have manifested. That said, vision boards get discarded, eventually. I gave at least ten to the fire pit last summer as we were de-cluttering the office.

I began to wonder what it would be like to create a Vision Book – would it be any less amazing? Would it be easier or more challenging to organize? What would be different? It did occur to me that it would be much easier to keep, and to follow my journey as it evolved. I had in fact played with this idea several years ago, and still had the book – only a few pages used. And so, I present to you the experiment.

Page One

Questions! Nothing cultivates curiosity like questions and more questions. You don’t need to find the answers, at least immediately. As Rilke wrote: “Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ” I love this quote as well as the idea that we will grow into the answer, which as Rilke suggested, at a time when we are ready.

Questions are like intentions. While you may not have the answer at the moment and you are opening up the space for the answer to arrive. Paying attention to what the responses might be, and when an answer does appear, having the curiosity and the will to explore, are the next vital steps. That said, “what defines me?” seems like the eternal question, one that changes with the seasons, which shifts with life experience, learning and experience, and one to travel with everyday. Hence, this is Page One!

Finally on this page comes “I am that unexplainable impulse!” Yeah, I hope so! not that I want to surprise you as much as I want to surprise myself, with spontaneous, perhaps even erratic impulsive choices. That could be FUN!

Page Two

This is my ‘Mindfulness’ page, reminding me of the importance of stillness, quieting my mind, being in the moment. I know only well enough, that there is no space for answers in an overly busy life. An even in semi-retirement I can find lots of ways to be busy. Busy however, does not mean engaged or inspired; it is simply doing.

I love the pose, although my knees no longer bend that way, but it is beautiful and evokes breath, peace, and serenity. With that is the statement ‘the only thing standing between me and fun is….awakening.” This over and amazing photo of storm and light; and isn’t this a great representation of what awakening is like. You can read the other words captured on the page. Two that strike me now in review are: ‘uncork extraordinary’ and ‘add whimsy to your morning’. Seeing these messages I can see an underlying trend –> Lighten Up!

Page Three

Let your passion define your journey. Interestingly I read this morning that happiness is rooted in pleasure (passion) and purpose. This is a fitting definition for me as I understand the importance of purpose, passion and pleasure in defining our lives. This is the root of my exploration at the moment. Capturing what is important to me at this phase of life, and how s my purpose/passion has grown, changed , evolved. An important question to hold and fed by wake-up calls, wisdom, stepping up and out and embracing the plot twists.

Page Four

Who is my tribe? What and who inspires me? What am I willing to stand-up for? What is my contribution to building a better world? What do I rejoice in?

People in circle, dancing and celebrating. This picture reminds me of the power of the circle and how I enjoy facilitating and helping others find their answers to the same questions I am asking myself. And yes, this is a response to my purpose and passion.

Final Word

These are the first four pages of my vision book. I may share the others; there are ten in total. More importantly, I hope this inspires you to give yourself the gift of an afternoon and with a few good magazines (O Magazine is the best), a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a blank book or canvas, that you take the time to explore.

Begin by setting a simple intention such as, “I am open to new possibilities for expressing myself, living my life, engaging in my Third Act, …..”

Choose a few magazines and begin going through them. Allow yourself to respond to images and words, tearing out whatever appeals to you. After thirty minutes or so, stop yourself; this may be a challenge!

Review the images and cut or tear them down to size. you may begin to see themes emerge. Lay all the words and images out on a large surface and see what emerges as you compile them. The begin to paste. Let your intuition guide you. There are no rules! AND, have FUN!

Once completed take time to review, then step away. In the following days, take another look. What do you see? What shows up that you did not see before? If you are really brave, share with a friend and allow them to share what they see or to ask you questions? This adds another layer.

Until next time…..

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With the predictions for a very cold and snowy winter looming, my body began to yearn for warmth and simplicity. The answer: a ten-day getaway to a warmer climate.

After our last ‘all-inclusive holiday’ three years ago, I declared that the appeal of such holidays had waned and that in the future, beach vacations were no logger desirable. WRONG! Winter weather can influence your decision-making I have learned. And opinions can change when influenced by certain circumstances. Celebrating the first anniversary of my first knee replacement Jim and I left for Cuba. Flying there with the intention of simplicity, we held our ground engaging only in ample beach walking coupled with book reading and occasional sun bathing (with SPF 60).

As an avid reader this was a great opportunity – no distractions. I chose three non-fiction books to get me started: No Reservations by Alice Steinbach, On the Brink of Everything by Parker Palmer, and Becoming by Michelle Obama. With my nature, that of a soul always searching for meaning, each book touched me in a specific way. Sharing….

No Reservations
Author Alice Steinbach shares a year-long journey, a travel sabbatical, through her experiences in Paris, London and Oxford and finally Venice and other parts of Italy. Stepping away from her busy life as a journalist with the Baltimore Sun, Alice identifies the challenges of engaging in a quieter life when one is accustomed to the demands and busyness of a journalist’s typical routine. Early in the book she asks, “Are we measuring time or living it?’

I was sure she wrote that question for me. I ‘measure life’.  Of this I am clear. I struggle with being in the moment, with having a day without a plan, with facing a new year with no intentions, goals or resolutions. When I go for a walk, I time it or measure how far I have walked. And even as I write this, I know that I am unlearning these habits. But it is an unlearning, a shift. It does not happen simply by snapping my fingers. As I traveled with Alice on her year of adventure and observed her ‘softening’ if you will, I could and can see myself easing into a different approach and life style.

I also loved this: M = EA (Mishap + Excellent Adventure)
Mishaps happen, and we allow ourselves to become dismayed, upset, angry, or disappointed. OR we can re-program and know that a mishap is an opportunity for an excellent adventure.

Okay, some serious re-programming is underway.

On the Brink of Everything
With the sub-title Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, this book spoke to my ongoing search for healthy aging and living the Third Act full-out. By one of my favorite authors Parker Palmer, this book offers a series of insightful essays and poems. The author, approaching his 80th birthday may have a few years on me and with that added wisdom, a slightly different perspective on living the later years.

In introducing the contents, Palmer had me hooked, inviting the reader to enjoy being old as this is a time in life when we can stand on the brink. It is that time when you can take in the full panorama of your life and understand the past, present and future with new eyes and with unfolding wisdom. His invitation is simple – there is very little left to fear, nothing left to lose so simply go for it!

One of the poems he shared truly touched me.

Harrowing
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
turned over a whole history
Looking for roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed and scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come,
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons –

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

I know that not everyone loves metaphor or poetry as I do (especially metaphor). The idea of plowing my life, uprooting the history of rights and wrongs, has been a habit of mine. The poem reminded me of the philosophy I now embrace which is, ‘Everything is perfect’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason’. I have learned that embracing this philosophy is a breath of fresh air for me. It allows me to forgive and forget the sting of certain events; it helps me appraise the lessons learned when I have fallen hard or screwed up; it has helped me understand the building blocks that life lessons are, making me, allowing me, to be the person I am. Finally, it has helped me understand that perfection is a journey, not a destination, a becoming….

And finally form Palmer’s book, this question: What do I want to let go of and What do I want to give myself to? Isn’t this the perfect question for moving forward?

Becoming
And finally, on this week’s hit list, Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I admit, I was skeptical, lots of hoopla and….more.

Okay, I loved it. I would say to any reader the following: it is a ‘full meal’ book, something hardy and which takes time to digest, uplifting and at times disturbing, well written and relatable, a look at what it is like to grow up in a completely different culture than is familiar to me while still identifying similarities.

And I appreciate the message ‘becoming’, which flows throughout the book, understanding that again, life is a becoming, a journey, not a destination, not about’growing up’. It continues….

There were no big AHA’s or profound messages in this book, just a great read and an engaging story; a read that left my curious about what is next for Obama and what is next for her country.

Final Thoughts
As books are prone to do, they have a lasting effect either through sharing or through ideas that are spawned by the words of others.

Coming into 2019 I keep wondering what it would be like to live life from a platform of JOY. I am far from having the answer, yet this questions was informed by some of my reading. I realized that JOY cannot stand alone and that it is a state that we reach in stages.

What emanated from my musings was something I am referring to as the Joy Equation which is as follows:

Joy = Peace + Gratitude + Love.

I hope to share more with you in future blogs. For now I continue to hold the Joy Equations in my heart as I wonder what joy means to others.

Wishing you all a JOY filled and fueled new year.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

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With everything I am learning about the Third Act, one thing is glaringly clear – it is time to explore new territory. It feels like so much of my adult life was about holding back, not stepping out fully into the truth of who I wanted to be. And doesn’t it seem to you that the Third Act needs to be dedicated to being truly authentic and identifying ways to express this identity you so yearn to embrace.

Four years ago, two of my young entrepreneur coaching clients embarked on an adventure by opening their own art studio. Yes, it does seem that the ‘Y’ generation is more daring than we ‘baby boomers’. When I saw their first workshop advertised, I sent them a congratulatory note to which they replied, “we have signed you up”.

My first instinct was to refuse. Fortunately, some internal craving or deep-seated instinct stopped me from doing so. I accepted the offer. That was just slightly more than four years ago.

Yesterday, along with Your Arts Council for Cornwall and the Counties, I hosted my first Art Exhibit. With excitement and trepidation, I decided to step out. It is not about the event however, exploring this new territory has really been about finding me. As a student of art when I was young, taking numerous courses in drawing, painting and designing, I was well on my way to having a strong creative presence. And then I put it all away, for 30 years. There was no specific reason, no ego inflicting crisis; I simply stopped. Doesn’t it make you wonder why and doesn’t it cause YOU to reflect on what you put away that may be begging to be let out of the bottle again?

Art in my sixties has also been an entirely different experience. As I picked up the brush again, I envisioned myself as a Georgia O’Keefe, boldly painted flowers filling the canvases. So I did.

Life Force

This did not inspire me. It was what I used to paint those many years ago. The subject matter did not engage me. I asked myself why I was painting these images and the only answer I could find was ‘it’s safe’.

Do I want to be safe? Is this a great Third Act Choice? Or was it time to explore new territories, to seek inspiration from within, from my surroundings, certainly from different sources. A friend of mine suggested that I take a look at the daily images posted by NASA. With a small amount of cynicism, I did and there is where the magic began. The result was Synapse and the birth of what I now refer to as Earth Energy Art.

Synapse

This felt like a riskier choice. People like flowers. I wondered if they would like energy art. They do!

And it doesn’t matter.

The Third Act is just that, the third and final act of life. I asked myself, am I here to please others or me? The answer – you can guess.

The Third Act is your chance to explore new territory. Do it for yourself. It is not selfish, in fact, it is anything but. It is your opportunity to model to others both the wisdom and impact of showing up in life authentically.

There are no rules for this time in your life, only the ones you decide to self-impose.

What is it that you yearn to do, feel or experience?

What is it that you have pushed away for years and you now yearn to harness?

What is stopping you?

Time to step up and step out! Time to explore those territories that will light you up. If not now, when?

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Here is where I am struggling a bit these days – what is it I want at this point in my life. Most days I am pretty clear regarding what I don’t want and yes, just as I teach others, I can turn these into ‘do wants’. Here is a small sampling of what shows up for me so far:

I want:

  • To be healthy and vibrant
  • To be engaged
  • To continue to cultivate my curiosity about life and people
  • To be of service in a way that is meaningful to me
  • To attract and create my legacy work
  • To remain involved with the arts community, and to new forms of how this might manifest.
  • To travel to places I have not previously visited
  • To have ample ‘being’ time for savoring, flourishing, reading, writing, painting and gardening and of course meditation
  • To care for our aging parents and see them safely through the transitions in their lives
  • To be present to and for my family and friends
  • To have clear boundaries regarding what is perfect for me

Okay! That’s not a bad list. AND why is it I feel like something is missing. I think it is simply this thing we call TRANSITION, the letting go of what no longer serves me, emptying the plate so that the new can be defined and take its rightful place. This is an important act of ‘Space Management’, something I have come to understand through years of piling too many things on this plate. Perhaps this leads to the next list – what am I prepared to let go of:

I am releasing:

  • Work that no longer engages me and that no longer serves my clients
  • Doing, doing and more doing
  • Always pre-planning the future rather than savoring the moment
  • Unrewarding and unfulfilling volunteer commitments
  • Responsibility that is not mine to own
  • Worry

That’s a start. I am sure there is so much more.

As we all move into and through our Third Act, knowing what we want, or at least asking ourselves the question, is perhaps the first step in determine our Third Act experience, or our legacy work. I have learned repeatedly that I cannot have what I don’t ask for and that If I am not clear, stuff shows up that I may not want.

There is not rush in developing this list, in fact I suggest we all take some time to slide into this zone, breathe, and take time to relax into it.

Some things to consider as you develop your wants:

  1. Remember all those things you always wanted to do/participate in and never had the time.
  2. What about your “Bucket List”? If you don’t know what this is watch the movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.
  3. Remember your youth and all those values/ideals you had which vanished the moment you went to work. Want to re-visit them?
  4. What are the passions, creative endeavors you always meant to make time for and never did?
  5. What are the causes you most identify with? Is there something that you want to contribute to that cause within your community?
  6. What wisdom, learning or experience do you have to offer others?

As you take time to consider these questions, I encourage you to keep track of the answers – write them down. You may be surprised at what shows up. It is important for all of us to remember that our Third Act is a new beginning, filled with and fueled by possibility. The most important quality we can exercise at this time of our life is CURIOSITY!

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On Sunday June 9th, Jim and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. Marriage is an amazing journey. Along the way, I have learned a few lessons about what makes a marriage grow and ripen. The first was that I entered marriage expecting it to last. Perhaps this was because of the failure of my own parents’ relationship. Before jumping in, I took the time to be clear of my expectations of myself, of Jim and what lay before us.

June 9th, 1973

   June 9th, 1973

June 9th, 2013

June 9th, 2013

Were there challenges along the way – of course there were. What forty year journey would be void of a few potholes and speed bumps? As I see it, these are only opportunities to come up for air, check-in and ask, “are we headed in the right direction?”

More often than not individuals within a relationship are headed in different directions which is why the relationship fails. The statistics are clear, one of every two marriages don’t work. There are lots of reasons why they don’t and I have no judgment regarding the ones that fail. I also see that some marriages could be saved. The thing is, a good marriage like anything, takes a little work.

 

What I have learned along the WAY…

Here are a few on the many lessons I have learned that build a relationship and save a marriage:

  1. Don’t make your partner wrong. Notice how you use ‘yes, but’ in your conversations, how you want to ‘win’ an argument or ‘make’ your point. Yes but makes your partner wrong. There is room for two points of view in every conversation. Try using ‘yes and…’
  2. Appreciate the differences. Research has shown that successful relationships are built around differences. In many cases there is more room for argument when you are too much alike. There is truth to ‘opposites attract’ – allow the differences to round you out rather than finding fault with them and trying to convert the other person to your way.
  3. Build your relationship around shared values. This in my view is the centerpiece for a relationship. Differences can exist easily when values are shared. Take the time to define and share them and then engage them within your relationship, with your children and with important others.
  4. After ME FIRST comes WE FIRST. So many couples we work with have put their relationship on the back burner because of their children or their careers. It doesn’t work because one day you will face a stranger. Build in WE FIRST time weekly, whether this is a cup of coffee together after dinner or a weekly date night.
  5. Be interested in one another, whether that is your hobbies or your work. In that shared WE FIRST time, ask questions of one another and learn what is going on behind the scenes, discuss issues, support one another.
  6. Speak up! If there is an issue in your relationship or if you want something to change or shift, state it. Too frequently individuals don’t speak up, believing that the other person ‘should know’. They don’t. You can’t have what you don’t ask for.
  7. Ask differently. Through the years I learned that saying ‘I want this or that’ didn’t feel right to me as it sounded selfish. So I found other ways of stating my viewpoint or asking. My favorite is, “What would be perfect for me is…” or ‘Would you consider this or that…”.
  8. Don’t  hide your anger. It does make you sick. I used to do this as I was taught that is was wrong to show emotion, especially anger. Trust me; it is better expressed at the 8th hour than the 11th hour when it is exploding out of you. Take your partner aside and share with him or her what is going on. A good strategy is the ‘I’ message which goes like this, “when you say this, I feel/think this…”
  9. Learn together. Learn about yourself and learn about your relationship. If anything has kept Jim and I going through the years, it is our desire to raise the bar on our relationship, have some fun and find other ways to know one another.
  10. Be your partner’s best friend. Lustful love and the bells and whistles of new love are temporary. Friendship is much more enduring and feeds the love you have for one another. That does not exclude romance however, which is important. Find ways of keeping it in your relationship as well.

Final Word

Remember, marriage is a journey. It will meander. Two partners will diverge and converge along the way. That’s perfect as long as you stay on each other’s radar and keep connecting. Enjoy the ride.

Until next time…

 

Betty

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