Life Can Be Delicious

Today, I am grateful for pleasure. Every once in a while, I like to buy a whole pineapple and slice it up. Whenever the mood strikes me, I take a bite of pineapple. It sends my taste-buds into overload. There is something about how you enjoy the sweetness of fruit that almost feels like nirvana. It’s not hard to find that type of pleasure in your life. It only requires for you to be in the moment.

We are too often caught up in trying to figure out the past or trying to figure out the future. The present is this day. If you can get out of your head, you may be in a very pleasurable moment. I love nothing more than to laugh, because I find that laughing forces me into the present moment. When you are laughing, you are forced to lose control and get out of your head.Vacations are also have a way of forcing you to focus on the moment. I can remember being in the Bahamas years ago. We were driven around the island to a spot where we could see the moon. I remember that I stood on the shore. I could hear the crest of the water as it kissed the beach. I stared at this brilliant moon that seemed to hang over the water. It was dark, but the moon reflected into the water. It was as if it was a live painting that was created just for me. I remember thinking that this was the beauty of the world that I missed as I was moving about life. It was only because I gave myself permission that I realized how beautiful it was.

“An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young”– Oscar Wilde

Music is also a source of great pleasure. Music can express your feelings, transform you or take you away from where you are in the moment. I love being surrounded by beautiful melodies and filled up by powerful words. Musical expression has long be apart of everyone’s culture. It is what binds us as people and reminds us that we are not alone. I love to get lost in a song and sing at the top of my lungs (even to the chagrin of my neighbors). When I was younger, I used to sit in the park. I could sit in the park for hours watching people go by. I would listen to the birds and marvel at the flowers. I even listened to the constant lull of traffic ebbing and flowing. When you make yourself still, everything sounds like a concert and it reminds you that everything is in harmony. Summer is an especially great time to pay attention to the dance that daily life does or even to sit and people watch.

In this world, there are so many things to enjoy and do. We convince ourselves that it all cost money and some of it does, but much more of it doesn’t. If you start trying to find the pleasure and the beauty in the world, you will realize that it’s all over and around you. There is magic in something as simple as a child’s laughter. There might have been a time that you lived for a smile or a kiss. The simpler times are often lost to bigger expectations. It doesn’t make them bad, but you don’t have to give up one for the other. You can still enjoy the simple pleasures when you want. But, don’t confuse the search for pleasure with pursuit. You can find pleasure within your life as it is today. The pursuit of pleasure is the journey of someone who doesn’t see what they have before them.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I recently posted about lies in a relationship, but the lies we tell ourselves can be just as problematic. Incorrect beliefs about ourselves can give birth to the lies that we tell ourselves on a daily basis to prevent us from living the life we are meant to live. It can result in negative thinking that plays in the back of our minds like a broken record.

I developed some lies that I told myself were the reasons that I couldn’t write until now. I can be an outspoken person and am often not afraid to say what I think when it comes to other people. But, at some point, I determined that my thoughts and feelings would hurt other people and I would lose their love. I also told myself that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter so I kept my truly personal feelings and hurts to myself. I became a martyr. I was willing to absorb the pain of others, but sacrifice my own to keep them from having to deal with my problems. It doesn’t work, because my problems came spilling out in every other way beside my voice. Not only that, I had added feelings of resentment, frustration and feeling invisible. Pile all that together and you have a volcano that is waiting to erupt and erupt I have. Either that or I buried the pain in distractions.

“And all the while I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even looks up” – Kate Winslet as Rose, Titanic

I spent much of my life waiting for someone to look at me and ask one simple question, “What’s wrong?” And I wanted them to really want to hear the answer, but you have to pay for that type of empathy these days.The lie I told myself was that no one wanted to hear how I felt and that my emotions were invalid.  Instead of feeling them and experiencing them, I would push them down and tell myself that I was overreacting or wrong to feel the way I feel. What I have learned is that my feelings and emotions are valid because they are mine. They are born of my perception of the world and experiences so they may be different from others. It doesn’t mean that they are always right, but it doesn’t mean that they are completely wrong. They are my way of coping with the situation I find myself in. They are apart of my inner security system that attempts to protect me from perceived danger. It is my job to acknowledge them, to feel them and to learn from them. Stuffing them down, ignoring them or denying them doesn’t help me in anyway.

Denying my feelings and believing that they don’t matter is what kept me from writing on regular basis. For so long, I didn’t think I could be honest with my thoughts and feelings. I thought that if I wrote what I felt or thought that there would be some type of punishment or backlash. I thought that if I shared what I felt that I would lose friends or that people would be mad at me. The reality is that it could happen. It is a possibility. However, if someone else has the right to share their thoughts and feelings with me, why don’t I have the right as well? If I am in a relationships with someone that I don’t share my true thoughts or feelings with, what type of relationship do we have? Is it an authentic relationship based on mutual respect and love?  If not, we are tiptoeing around each other with masks on trying to pretend as if nothing and no one affects us. The two people in the relationship are not being themselves and not allowed to be themselves so the love cannot deepen with the level of comfort that it takes to remove the masks.

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”- James Arthur Baldwin

Eventually, I realized that I am not serving my purpose as long as I continue to hide the true me. Projecting the perfect image keeps me distant and silent in my life. I understood that writing my feelings and sharing them is what I do. It helps me to process my feelings and, at the same time, allows me to share and connect. It’s not the easiest thing to do. There are times when I wonder if I am sharing too much. There are times when I second-guess myself. But, after I write it and read it, I believe that it’s worth it. Every person has to find their way to sanity. My road is paved with keyboards and word documents. Other people write songs and make music. We all have to find a way to express ourselves. This is mine. The biggest lie I told myself is that I don’t need it and that I don’t need to say how I feel. In the coming year, I am giving myself permission to be honest.

Put a ring on it – 28 years later

I have been a bit obsessed with the A&E  reality show, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” I wouldn’t call myself a KISS fan, but somehow I started watching the show.  I enjoyed the family dynamic and I found Shannon Tweed to be an interesting woman. What had me transfixed was how Gene and Shannon had been together for 28 years, had two children and never married. If you watched the show, you could see that Shannon clearly wanted to get married. You could also see that Gene clearly loves her and his family.

As the show progressed, Shannon struggled with continuing to love Gene while feeling disrespected by his belief that his actions didn’t affect her. Gene had convinced himself that because of his job as a rock star that the rules didn’t apply to him. Shannon convinced herself that because he was a good provider and father that it was enough for her. Last season, both came to a crossroads. Shannon found a picture of Gene on the internet surrounded by women. It was a huge sign of disrespect and Shannon questioned whether her needs were really being met in their relationship. Shannon removed herself from the home and prepared herself to leave the relationship. The absence of Shannon helped Gene to understand how much she meant to him and how selfish he has been in treating her as if they were not in a committed relationship. The last season played out in an interplay of couples therapy and the repair of the relationship. The season ended with Gene deciding that Shannon was “the one”. He took her on a trip to Belize and the season finale showed Gene proposing to a shocked Shannon Tweed.

The first episode of the new season aired on Oct. 4th, and it opened with the question mark of the last episode. Would Shannon say yes? After many tears and a mixture of emotions, Shannon admitted that she did want to marry him. In therapy, she said that she was happy and angry at the same time. She was happy that he finally wanted to marry her, but she was angry that he hadn’t wanted to do it on his own. She wondered if he really wanted to marry her or if  he just didn’t want to lose her and that’s why he made the decision. She was also concerned that he wasn’t ready to be faithful. The episode waffles back and forth between the therapy sessions and Shannon and Gene announcing and celebrating their engagement. It’s clear that Gene is committed to the idea, but both still have reservations and uncertainty.

To me, this show has been a great study in the struggle that can exist in relationships between women and men. It seems like women want something from men that they are resistant to believe that they should have to give. Gene seemed to believe that because he was a rock star that he was not responsible for Shannon’s feelings. When he dug deep, through the help of the therapist, he realized that he was afraid to be like his father. He had an irrational fear that if he married Shannon that he would abandon her and their children like his father had done to his own mother. The irony of the situation is that even though he was with his family, he was emotionally abandoning them by not allowing himself to open his heart and love them as they deserved. A man loves his children by loving and respecting their mother.

Shannon admitted her fault in this relationship as well. She assumed that “unconditional love” meant that she didn’t ask for her needs to be met in the relationship. In the episode, she told the therapist that she learned that love has to have conditions. People have to have conditions within a relationship for it to be loving and fair. It seems that she was growing resentful over the years and by not speaking up, it was eroding the love that she felt for Gene. As their relationship moves forward, it’s clear that changes will have to be made for Shannon to trust Gene. The therapist asked Shannon to tell him exactly what she needed Gene to do for her to feel as if his is being trustworthy. In a comical moment, Gene’s mother told Shannon that she, “should follow him everywhere”. Also, when Gene admitted that he was afraid of being like his father she said, “he can’t think for himself.” The mother reassured Gene that he was not his father and he had a choice of the type of husband he wanted to be.

What can be learned? In a relationship, if you are meeting the needs of the other person, you have every right to ask that your needs are met in return. If the person refuses, you should make a decision whether you want to leave or stay. Love doesn’t mean that you turn a blind eye to what the other person does and love them anyway. Love means respect. Anyone that loves you should respect your needs and figure out how to compromise with their own.

As for Gene and Shannon, this season will chronicle the planning of their wedding. I’m sure I will have more posts as each episode brings up more thoughts on relationships. In case you are wondering, People magazine posted their wedding picture today. So you can get married, even after 28 years.

 “I look at my wedding band and think, ‘What was I afraid of all this time?’ “- Gene Simmons, People magazine. 

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed wedding picture: Christopher Polk/Getty as posted on people.com