Freedom – SB Gamble

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” 

Toni Morrison

As a black man with some semblance of awareness, standing in the face of innumerable social forces, systematic racial oppression, mass incarceration and economic despair, I find myself often preoccupied with the idea of freedom. It’s an important concept for me, one that in face of recent events, is constantly in flux. I know my race, my community and culture had its roots in slavery, and I can see its effects echoing all throughout my community and also within myself. But I know, my story and the Black American story is so much more than that. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, my grandparents and my mother. I am very aware of the plights they have faced in their lives, so now in the modern day, in this supposed “Post Racial” America, I feel I have an obligation to live as free as I possibly can in the finite life. People died, and fought and endured so I could do everything, from put on suit and stroll into my office job to something as fundamental as read.

The balancing act becomes how do I acknowledge the past? How to endure the greatness, the cruelty and weight of that legacy and also maintain my own humanity, my own faith in decency, my own fractured belief in the most fundamental of American principles—that if I work hard I’m free to pursue my own idea of happiness? How does one do this when one’s very existence is steeped in such a legacy? How can I be truly free? But as I grow older and wonder, now understanding the weight of the past, contemplating the recent violence against Black Americans, how does a Black person really attain or even live up to American ideal of freedom?

Is it even for me and people who look like me? How can we as a society continued to excuse the recent violence against Black American by police officer who are supposed to protect them—even in the face of damning videos? And when I pose these questions, it isn’t an attack on our police officers. Any logical member of our society understands the vital role they play in our communities—nor am I disputing the real danger they face on a daily basis. Or moreover, condemning them as a whole—but just like I, a person of reasonable thought, can extend them the benefit of the doubt, where is mine? If video evidence, if protesting, if complying with hands up isn’t enough to hear the voice and plight of Black Americans, what is?

And with all this questions weighing heavy on me, it all goes back to freedom. How free can I be if my heart skips a beat when a police car drives pass me as I’m walking? How free can I be if I earnest conversation with my friends, telling what picture to use if I end up killed? How can I be freed if I’m deemed a criminal on sight? How free am I if worry about become this week’s trending hashtag?

What can I do when these questions pressed down on me?

I could choose to let them harden me, cause me to become caustic and cynical, or I could use them as source of strength. I can look to the past as undeniable evidence that Black Americans have survived. We have maintained our dignity, our bravery, our lives. We have bucked against institutions that sought out to destroy us and devalue us. Every day that I get up and love, laugh, dream or cry is an act of freedom. I strive for greatness and hope for those who died recently and those who have died in the past for me to stand here. I have to press on.

Every day I strive to speak up when I need to, to become a more whole, more descent person to honor those in the past. And it ain’t easy. Some days it takes herculean efforts to just get out of bed. Some days I’m angry. Some days I have no answer for all these questions. Some days I’m deep saddened. I am human, after all.

And to all of those feeling low—we are still here. I am still here. You are still here. You are no longer property. You are longer three-fifth of man. You, like every American, are a person of value. A person that matters.

 “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be” James Baldwin

 

SB Gamble is an author, playwright, and a semi-retired party boy. He has written several plays and short stories. His plays have been performed on stage and on local radio in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He won awards as a playwright with NAACP’s ACT-SO competition and Kalamazoo’s Black Arts and Cultural Center. He currently lives and works in Chicago. He is driven to write works that underline his wild belief that people are all equal and have more commonalities than differences. 

His first novel The Last Party is set to be released in August 2016. Please take a chance to learn more about this extraordinary man and his art here. 

 

 

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My Tattoos Are Trashy.

“Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”
Jack London

One night, almost ten years ago, by best friend and I were dancing our hearts out. He was visiting me not long after I moved away and he proposed we get matching tattoos. I thought we were making drunk plans and I agreed. The next morning I woke to him looking up places we could go to get a tattoo in area. Next thing I knew, I was getting my first tattoo. It’s a purple flower on my foot. It matches the purple flower on his foot. In the middle of the flower are our initials.

On my shoulder is the word love. Anyone that knows me knows that love is everything to me. Love is my religion. This tattoo matches the one on my aunt’s wrist and it matches the one on my grandmother’s chest. My grandmother’s love tattoo is placed where she lost a breast to cancer decades ago. It is our tribe stamp. Do you want to know how tattoos look when you get older? Well, my grandmother got her first tattoo in her seventies and it looks pretty boss so I’m confident I’ll be just fine.

Also on my shoulder are crossing arrows. This tattoo matches my husband and three of our closest friends. It symbolizes our friendship and connection. I placed it over the love tattoo because at the intersection of my relationships is love.

I’m preparing for my next tattoo. I’ve been eyeballing Banksy’s Girl With The Red Balloon. This tattoo will be just for me and it represents eternal hope.

Maybe before you judge someone’s body art as trashy you could consider that what people put on their bodies has some significance to them. Even a bad tattoo or a tattoo someone regrets has a story.

“I am a canvas of my experiences, my story is etched in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, my shoulders, and my stomach.”
Kat Von D

Love.

You Deserve That Awesome Love.

“If it’s magic
Then why can’t it be everlasting
Like the sun that always shines
Like the poets in this rhyme
Like the galaxies in time
If it’s pleasing
Then why can’t it be never leaving
Like the day that never fails
Like on seashores there are shells
Like the time that always tells
It holds the key to every heart
Throughout the universe
It fills you up without a bite
And quenches every thirst…”

I recently manifested a person into being. I wished, begged, and prayed for one of my favorite people to find awesome love and awesome love presented herself. I know that the idea of manifesting a person into being sounds super crazy, and of course, I know that I did not create a person with my thoughts (but I can’t help but think that it is a little true). There is nothing more important to me than the people I love having love. I want awesome love for my lovelies because I believe that love is everything. Unconditional love is transformative and healing beyond what any of us can comprehend. Love is the magic of the universe. 

What is this post about? It’s about believing you deserve that awesome kind of love. It’s about believing you deserve it. So when it presents itself, you believe it is there for you. This is what happened to one of my favorite people in the world. He struggled for a lifetime to believe he deserved that awesome kind of love. This meant that awesome love passed him by again and again.

Instead, other types of mangled and distorted connections were offered. We attract connections that reflect our own health and well-being. If I believe I’m mangled and distorted, I will attract mangled and distorted. If I believe I am awesome love, awesome love will find its way to me. 

After years of hard work, the awesome love appeared. Even then, the awesome love scared the stuffing out of my person and he pushed it away. However, this time, he realized what he was doing and pulled it back in. He wanted the good love. He was ready for that awesome love. 

“So
If it’s special
Then with it why aren’t we as careful
As making sure we dress in style
Posing pictures with a smile
Keeping danger from a child
It holds the key to every heart
Throughout the universe
It fills you up without a bite
And quenches every thirst…”

That awesome love is not reserved for perfect people (because they don’t exist). It is reserved for people who believe that awesome love is real. It is reserved for people who are willing and ready to be that awesome kind of love for someone else. It is the kind of love that, when you see it between two people you just know it’s real.

It’s not about soul mates (although I have theories about this). It’s about vulnerability. It’s about letting yourself be open. It’s about listening and compassion. This post isn’t about research or theories, love is bigger than that. I know awesome love is real for no other reason than I can feel it in my guts. In my life, that is more than enough evidence.

Anyway, I wanted awesome love for my person more than anything. I wished, prayed, and hoped this for him. I don’t know if those things are real (just kidding, I am certain they are real). Who knows if the awesome love will go the distance. It’s here now and, that my lovelies is magic. 

“So
If it’s magic
Why can’t we make it everlasting
Like the lifetime of the sun
It will leave no heart undone
For there’s enough for everyone”

– Stevie Wonder, If It’s Magic

Love.

I Don’t Own My Story.

“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil

In a lot of the posts I reference having experienced traumatic events. For some readers, they may have some ideas about what happened. But for others, they don’t have a reference or understanding of my life. I understand through messages and responses that some readers may want to know what I’m referring to when I allude to experiencing traumatic events. This has caused me to reflect on the interconnectedness of my life.

I agree that we must own our stories or our stories own us. The problem with sharing many of my stories is that they involve other people. And, other people don’t want/need/think it’s appropriate to share their stories with the world. This blog is both cathartic and difficult for me. Writing has always been my way of making sense of the world. Most of these blogs are letters to myself that I’ve decided to share. And, there are plenty of posts in the drafts box that will never see the light of social media.

There is a constant balance when sharing parts of yourself with an unknown group of people. I feel compelled to be transparent and honest but at the same time I don’t think it is appropriate to overshare. My beloved Josh once helped me understand this process. We were talking about a time that someone shared a traumatic event with him and he said, “They never asked my permission to share that.” That stuck with me. I don’t want this blog to be traumatizing and so there are times when restraint is indicated.

Further, as a human being, I’ve made mistakes. This blog is not a confessional. I am not writing for absolution or understanding. I believe that would put undue pressure on the reader. When I began sharing these posts publicly, I explored how authors that write memoirs decide what is written and what is withheld. The majority said that they would not share parts of themselves that still cause them pain. Meaning, that if I shared something and someone commented in a hurtful way (which has happened) I would not want it to be related to a topic where my nerve is exposed. There are several areas of my life where this is the case and probably will always be as such.

Also, there are things that happened on my journey that involved immense suffering for other people. It would never be my intention to share those stories. I make every intention to respect and protect with each post. I pray this is not a form of exhibitionism.

I’m glad these questions and thoughts were brought to my attention. It forced me to examine how many of my stories were not mine alone. In fact, only a handful are my stories are mine to share. I suppose we will continue see how this all works out.

“Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle

The Gift Of Trauma.

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
Mary Oliver

We often hear of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but we seldom hear of Post Traumatic Growth. What is post traumatic growth? Well, let me share the researchers’ definition:

Posttraumatic growth tends to occur in five general areas. Sometimes people who must face major life crises develop a sense that new opportunities have emerged from the struggle, opening up possibilities that were not present before. A second area is a change in relationships with others. Some people experience closer relationships with some specific people, and they can also experience an increased sense of connection to others who suffer. A third area of possible change is an increased sense of one’s own strength – “if I lived through that, I can face anything”. A fourth aspect of posttraumatic growth experienced by some people is a greater appreciation for life in general. The fifth area involves the spiritual or religious domain. Some individuals experience a deepening of their spiritual lives,however, this deepening can also involve a significant change in one’s belief system. – Post Traumatic Growth Research Center

What does this mean? It means that surviving trauma or great suffering may allow you to experience a deeper and richer appreciation for life. I suppose this makes sense, one cannot have the sweet without the sour. If you allow for it, for all the sour you’ve experienced in your life, you are allowed the potential for just as much (if not more) sweet.

For example, if you grew up poor, having resources and a safe home are not something you take for granted. If you grew up in an abusive home, living peacefully feels like heaven. If you survived an illness, you appreciate every breath you take and every morning you wake. You are able to truly enjoy the simple things that so many people take for granted.

If you allow yourself to moon over the little things (sunshine, puppies, laughter, friends, glass of wine, a peaceful day, a warm bath, time with loved ones) that make up the ever so important details of our lives, you will continuously feel overwhelmed with gratitude. If you pause to reflect on the amount of courage and resolve you demonstrated when you were faced with adversity, you will know that you are made stronger and adversity is genuinely a gift.

I don’t necessarily agree with people who claim to blessed or lucky for never having to struggle. The expression, “But for the grace of God” never made much sense to me. Often , these people are fearful because they haven’t been forced to survive the unsurvivable. They don’t know that they will be okay no matter what (and they will be). I would never wish a traumatic event on anyone but, if you survive, a certain kind of courage and resilience is born.

I believe resilience and courage can develop without trauma. I think that when a person steps out and is willing to live a life they love and risk upsetting some people in doing so, a certain kind of courage is cultivated. Don’t wait for trauma to have post-traumatic growth. Go out and be brave now. 

Life is a curious journey because I would have never chosen a path with so many winding turns and potholes. If given a choice, I would not have chosen to experience the pain and loss that my life has provided. But, I was not given a choice. I was given a choice as to what to do once the pain was in my lap. I can say from experience, traumatic events have the capacity to enhance your life in ways I never dreamed.

The darkness was indeed a gift. The wrapping paper sucked and I don’t know why some things happened the way they did (and will never know) but I’m here now, sipping coffee, looking out the window, filled with gratitude.

“Despite the real struggle associated with trauma recovery, there is often a simultaneous increase in a person’s capacity to enjoy the mundane. A blue sky, a delicate fragrance, a small act of compassion, the subtleties of nature, and the innocence of children and animals are often noted as having significance. Perhaps the sweetness of normalcy is illuminated when confronted with certain kinds of darkness.” The Unexpected Gifts of Trauma

Please, Stop Telling That Tired Old Story.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“I’ll never be happy”

“No one will ever love me”

“I’m too broken or messed up to be lovable”

“I can’t do that”

“I’ll never get that job/promotion”

“I’m not smart enough”

You’re right. If you keep believing these things you will make them true. This is not so much about the Law of Attraction (aka, The Secret) as much as it is about self-fulfilling prophecy.

We all have scripts written out that exist in our minds related to what is possible and what is not possible for our lives. Whether we know it or not, we operate according to these scripts. For many of us, these scripts were written when we were very young and often written by other people. Maybe we watched our parents trudge through life resentful of their positions. Maybe we were told by someone(s) that we were not good enough. Maybe a teacher told you that you were not smart enough. We know the human mind is attracted to negative messages more than positive ones. And, once the message is in our mind it is locked in tight.

The trick is to first see the script you are working from. Why do you believe you can’t find love? Because you made mistakes? Because you don’t look like a supermodel? Because you don’t make six figures? Those are all ridiculous excuses that have nothing to do with whether or not you deserve happiness. (clue: if you disagree with me you are probably holding on to a script for dear life). All humans are flawed and make mistakes and yet we are still deserving of love and compassion.

Some people are even willing to say what they are really afraid of: Because I don’t want to get hurt. Well, if you are living person you are going to get hurt – that is absolutely inevitable. How would you prefer to get hurt? Living a life you choose or working from a tired old script filled with “you can’t phrases” because that hurts too.

We often act in ways that elicit a response from others that reinforces our script. What do I mean by this?

Example script: I am never going to find love.

What happens next:

  1. You never even try to get into a relationship
  2. You choose a partner that treats you poorly and stay in that relationship
  3. You get into a relationship and convince the person they are an idiot for being with you (you’re too good for me, you’re cheating on me, you don’t love me)
  4. You get into a relationship and push the person away or keep them at a distance (resist vulnerability, act dishonestly)
  5. You get into a relationship and treat the person poorly (abusive, mean, cruel, defensive, jealous, cheat)

Then, the relationship ends and “See! I was right, I am unlovable!” And, I’m not shocked your script played out just as you anticipated.

I could run through the same scenarios related to employment, opportunities, education and happiness. Sometimes in therapy we refer to this process as “begging for your own misery.” As an adult, you are now able to rewrite your script. Yes, the old scripts will linger around and you’ll still hear them and feel the need to follow them. This gets easier and the noise from the old scripts will quiet down. They may never go away but you don’t have to follow them anymore.

What is the biggest difference between people who are happy with their lives and people who are unhappy with their lives? The people that are happy in their lives operate from a script that involves happier stories. It is not that their lives are easier, it is that their perceptions of their lives are different. This was highlighted in the post That Was A Hell of A Day. Be careful very about what you tell yourself about your life and possibilities because it will most certainly come true.

“This led me to a study of expectancy theory and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” – Stephen R. Covey

Thoughts On Infidelity.

“Soon he was online every night until one or two a.m. Often he would wake up at three of four a.m. and go back online. He would shut down the computer screen when I walked in. In the past, he used to take the laptop to bed with him and we would both be on our laptops, hips touching. He stopped doing that, slipping off to his office instead and closing the door even when I was asleep. He started closing doors behind him. I was steeped in denial, but my body knew.” 
― Suzanne FinnamoreSplit: A Memoir of Divorce

In my over ten years of working with couples I know: Infidelity happens. It happens a lot. It happens for more reasons than can be described in a blog post. It happens for more whys and wherefores than can be captured in books or volumes of books. When I work with people sorting through cheating, betrayal, and lies, they are fervently searching for some place to rest their mind.

Infidelity is a like a tragic car crash. It happens to everyone else until it happens to you. And, it may even happen by your own hand. You may have caused the crash and still be destroyed by your own actions.

“Most people don’t cheat because they’re cheaters. They cheat because they’re people. ” – Cheryl Strayed

Infidelity is disorienting. It can literally cause people to act crazy and do things inconsistent with who they are as a person. It may start gradually and then happen quickly. It happens because people want validation and connection. It happens because people are lonely. It happens because people are selfish. It happens because we are not honest with ourselves and our partners about what we want for our lives.

Good people cheat. Honest people cheat. Because even good and honest people are not good and honest all the time. In addition, infidelity can be honest – it might be the most honest relationship in your life. The relationship that is born from infidelity may evolve into a monogamous, happy, and healthy partnership that goes the distance.

“Fidelity is a living, breathing entity. On wobbly footing, it can wander, becoming something different entirely.” 
― Kay GoodstadtLove and Death Over Tea

Temptation is everywhere. Your partner has most certainly coveted another person. If you do not believe this, you do not understand the human brain.  Some people believe thinking is cheating. I do not ascribe to this logic because we cannot control the thousands of thoughts (sometimes odd, strange and peculiar thoughts) that creep into our heads. However, once a thought moves into action you are culpable.

Often, the line crossing into infidelity happens much earlier than people are willing to admit. It involves verbal intimacies and communications. It involves inside jokes and accidental touch.  It involves sharing details about your lives and hopes for your future. It involves putting yourself in the path of connection with the person that is not your partner. It involves reminiscing about better days and happier times with the other person. It may involve sexual intimacy but not always. I’m not sure the sexual component is the most damaging part of having an affair.

“For a lot of people—men and women—having an affair is an affirmation that I’m really okay. He said about his mistress, “There wasn’t anything special about her. But she listened, was interested, and made me feel special.”  That’s the key, I thought—we all want to feel like we matter to somebody.” – Oprah

Infidelity is not necessarily a death sentence to a relationship. A surprising number of couples survive and thrive after infidelity. Couples come through infidelity all the time because relationships are complex and composed of moving parts. Infidelity can bring to the foreground parts of the relationship that were shuffled to the back or pushed aside. A betrayal can actually save a relationship by forcing the relationship to be a priority for the first time in years. Sometimes, infidelity is a way of communicating (albeit, poorly): DO YOU SEE ME NOW! 

However, in some cases, infidelity is the path out of a relationship. It may be a path that the offending party did not intend to take. Not all relationships are built to last forever.

But an affair is usually a symptom of a dying marriage, not the cause. The end of that marriage could have been predicted long before either spouse strayed.” – John M. Gottman

Of note, if you find that you want to check your partners phone, Facebook, or email for proof to substantiate what your gut is telling you – the relationship is in a bad place and/or you are in a bad place. I think it is a better practice, to try and first, tell your partner that you concerned about the relationship. If don’t believe you can share this with your partner and get an honest answer, you already have the answer you need.

“This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.”

—David Levithan

How do you prevent infidelity?

There is no wizardry to avoid these things from happening for all the reasons stated above and so many more. The hardest part to understand (and believe and accept) is that you can never entirely know what your partner is thinking and feeling. We all have the capacity to cheat.

What seems to work the best to prevent infidelity? Make every single effort to make your relationship so safe, so fun, so honest, so great, so fantastic, so supportive, so incredible, and so special that to betray your partner would mean you risk losing those wonderful parts of your life.

What else? I suggest you love your partner with all you have, make them a priority every day, tell them you love them and appreciate them, be authentic and honest about your wants and needs, do not be afraid to be vulnerable with your partner because that is where the deepest connections are born. Most importantly: Please tell your partner if you are feeling dismissed, lonely, invalidated, disconnected, unattractive, unappreciated as soon as those feelings crop up. 

By being honest with yourself and your partner about what you need and working together to get your needs met, you are doing the best you can to prevent getting those needs met outside the relationship. 

I think that is the best you can do.

How do you recover from infidelity? Well, that is a different post entirely.

Love.

 

 

This Year Answered Questions.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Today is the last day of 2015. For me, this year both asked and answered questions. I will say, that it was the first year in a very long time that answered more questions than asked. I’m not sure if one is better than the other but tying up loose ends does feel good.

This year I learned, in ways that shocked me, to let go, and trust that things will work out. I have much more faith in the power of prayer/hope/wish/intention. I let go in a number of areas of my life and things fell into place in ways I would never have guessed. For this, I am incredibly grateful.

I learned that when you live your values (mine being: love, gratitude, adventure, connection, compassion) your life falls together in a magical way. Of course, there are always struggles and pains. There is no day that passes without some sour. But, when you know what you want for your life and you know what direction you’re heading, it makes the sour more palatable. Identifying my values, knowing what I want for my life, and having the courage to go after what I want were my major accomplishments of 2015. I will continue on this path in 2016.

But what of the struggles? Naturally, there are always growing pains. I definitely experienced painful moments in 2015. I am still working on things, but with a little more compassion for myself. Although I live my life out loud on social media and this blog, my personal intentions and limitations are just that, personal. Maybe, I’ll share what I’m working on at some point, but not today. Rest assured, my to-do list for 2016 is plenty long.

What do I hope for you my sweet lovelies in 2016? I hope you trust yourself a little more. I hope you have the courage to go after the things you want. I hope you believe the world is full of opportunity and potential. I hope you care less about what other people think and worry only if you are living a life consistent with who you want to be. I hope you share time with people who tell you that you can move mountains and chase the stars. I hope you smile at people who remind you of your limitations, knowing they’re wrong.

I hope you get to see Adele in concert because Lord knows I tried to get those tickets.

So, my sweet lovelies, let us see what 2016 will bring. I’m thinking it will be magical.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne
And there’s a hand, my trusty friend
And gie’s a hand to thine
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne”

Love.

My Favorite Love Stories.

“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth”

-Kahlil Gibran

“I, I should have told you I would be difficult.
I should have shown you the scars on my soul.
I should have told you I wanted you,
I wanted you to take care of me
without allowing you to gain any of my control.”

-Lori McKenna, Beautiful Man

Love can look like a grand gesture played out on a megatron at a baseball game. But, my favorite place to find love is in the nooks and crannies of our daily lives. That is where the best kind of love lives and thrives. That is where the grows. These are my favorite love stories.

My lovelies, let me share with you my favorite love stories.

“One forgives the other”

“One takes the garbage out”

“One smiles at the other when the house is a mess and the kids are screaming”

“One crawls up next to other as they cry on the bathroom floor, and just holds them”

“They catch eyes at a party and just know it’s time to go”

“One grabs the other’s hand while at the grocery store”

“One grabs the other around the waist while making dinner and thanks them”

“One looks at the negative pregnancy test and says to the other, while hugging: We’ll keep trying”

“One remembers that the laundry needs to be folded and does so”

“One remembers that today is going to be a long day for the other and does everything they can to make it a little easier”

“One makes dinner for the other”

“One picks up a bottle of wine on the way home to share with the other”

“One holds the other at a funeral”

“One takes the other to the hospital at 3am”

“One calls the other and can’t wait to tell them the good/funny news”

“One kisses the other when they get home. A good long kiss.”

“One tells a story about the other, proudly, in front of a group of people”

“One walks the dog”

“One gives the kids a bath”

“One loves the other’s friends and family even when it isn’t easy”

“One does something just because it might make the other smile”

“One tells the other that they’re sorry”

“One cuddles up next to the other while they sleep at night and whispers “I Love You” in their ear”

“One endures a rom-com or action movie just to share time with the other”

“One takes the kids to the other room to give the other a moment”

“One cuddles with the kids and the other as they watch a movie and share laughs”

“They have a dance party in the kitchen on a Tuesday night”

“One listens to the other patiently and kindly”

“One asks the other what they need”

“One forgives the other for being selfish or mean”

“One forgives the other for moments of thoughtlessness”

“One forgives the other for forgetting”

“One always, every day, forgives themselves and the other”

“One kills the bat that’s flying around the house while the other hides under the bed”

“One cheers for other while they play a video game”

“One tells the other they’re beautiful or handsome and the other believes it because they can see the truth in the other’s eyes”

You see, love is so simple. We make it hard by forgetting to take care of it. When you love someone the love becomes it’s own thing. Love is like a plant and needs to be watered and fed all day every day or it withers and dies.

The greatest love stories are summarized by: “I didn’t quit when it was hard” and “I forgave them.” I am not impressed by a fairy tale that ends when they marry or involves a handful of dramatic gestures. I want to know what happens when one of the partners royally screws up. I want to know how you love one another in the minutiae of daily life. That is where a love story is created. That is also where a love story can be destroyed.

Do me a favor, look at your beloved today and say: “Sweet, baby, honey, darling, I love you and I am so grateful for you and this life we share.” I hope this makes both of you smile and softens what ever life has placed before you.

If you are unable or unwilling to say those words to your partner, you need to think about what is happening in your relationship. Because, my lovelies, if you can’t say that, your love is dying or already dead. 

“I don’t mind spilling my hot sauce onto my white shirt
I don’t mind the twinge when I walk in that knee that I hurt
I don’t mind if my gums peeling back or my hair getting thin
Long as I’m with you I win, long as I’m with you” Ani DiFranco, Smiling Underneath 

Love.

I Know Where Your Keys Are.

“Multitasking is a lie”
Gary Keller

(Note: Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. I wrote this post a few weeks ago and literally lost my keys last week and cannot find them anywhere. So it goes.)

I spend a lot of time looking for my keys. A friend of mine even put up a hooks for my keys at each entry point of my house because he was tired of spending time helping me look for my keys. I am ashamed at how seldom I use the key hooks. The reason I forget where my keys are is not entirely a function of a bad memory (that I know of).  It is that I am not paying attention when I put them down. When I come home from work, I drop my bags and keys where I stop and this is not the same spot everyday.  Thus, the search for my keys becomes a regular struggle.

If I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing I can’t form a memory of the event.

This is what happens when you’re scrolling through social media on your phone and your partner asks you something and later says “remember when I asked you about this?” and you really cannot remember. You did not form a memory. You were not paying attention to what the person was saying and so it was not absorbed into your brain.

Yes, people can struggle with short-term memory challenges but a lot of what I see happening is not memory problems as much as a lack of paying attention to your life. This can be because you are thinking of what you have to do next, you are watching television, you are reading, you are on the phone, or you are anxious about something and hanging out in What If Land. The truth is you were not paying attention to what was happening in the right now.

How to improve your memory (unless you legitimately have a brain injury or a neurological disorder; if so, contact a physician).

Slow down.

Do one thing at a time and take your time doing it.

Pause while doing the task and review what you are doing.

Limit unnecessary outside noise so your brain only has to process one thing at a time. This is why when we are driving and lost (or the weather is bad) we turn the radio down. It allows our brain to focus on the task at hand.

Do not agree to do things you do not have time to do.

Sometimes it helps to say what you’re doing out loud as you are doing the task. For example, when I leave the house I say, “Doors locked, dogs inside, gate up, alarm set, good to go.” This way if you are stressing about whether or not you did those things you will remember that you went through the task out loud. You will have formed a memory that you did this and will be less likely to stress all day about if you locked the door or not.

I know it’s a bummer that a vast majority of us cannot do two things at once and do them well. And, I know that some of you won’t believe me and will even pride yourself on your ability to multitask.

But:

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.” Travis BradberryMultitasking Damages Your Brain And Career, New Studies Suggest

So, take your time getting things done and then come help me find my keys.

Love.