Creation and destruction

I’ve been doing some research for my next book, ‘How to save the world’. I’ve been reading about, thinking about and watching various movies about ‘the end of the world as we know it’. It’s a daunting process and a daunting concept altogether to ponder what the future might hold for humanity at this moment in history. I have trouble getting my head around it, let alone working out how to talk about it coherently and hopefully instructively. I got to thinking (also known as procrastinating about sitting down and starting work on  ‘How to save the world’) that there are many cross over areas between the subject matter covered in ‘How to find love‘ that will recur in ‘How to save the world’. I have been pondering on the way love and fear correlate with creation and destruction.

Let me explain; the “second law of thermodynamics”, the law of entropy, says (in short) that everything in the universe will eventually decay, fall apart, be broken down to its components or in various other ways descend ultimately into ‘nothingness’. Many people, who think about these things too much, worry about the Universe eventually flying apart or grinding to a complete halt one day. There is also an atavistic fear that all humans seem to share of ‘the world’ ending. No doubt this has something complicated to do with our awareness that we are mortal and one day we will die. Nothing in life is more certain than death, after all.

Many people think our current concerns about global warming are just some kind of modern version of many ‘doomsday cults’ that have existed since the dawn of human society; that it’s all in our heads. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. That’s not really the point though, is it? The question is what to do in the face of this kind of conundrum?

Many times in relationships we can let our fears about the ‘end of the world’ (or at least the relationship) overwhelm us and unconsciously hasten its demise by pushing our partner (and others) away, instead of consciously and lovingly drawing them closer to us every day. The fear of being unloved and alone is very normal. But acting it out is not the way to draw people towards you. It’s the way to drive them away. Love and cooperation are actually a much more normal state for humans to operate in than hate and fear. We feel happier when we are in loving and cooperative relationships with our fellow creatures and it’s what everyone wants and craves. It’s in our DNA. We have the ‘bonding’ instinct in common with most of the animal kingdom. It’s particularly strong in mammals and of course primates.

But some people seem to keep suffering from ‘relationship entropy’ where what starts off well soon falls apart, the centre cannot hold and next thing you know it’s splitsville. Why this is so is gone over in quite some detail in the book and I’m not going to reprise it all here.

The laws of thermodynamics cover the behaviour of matter and energy.  But physics doesn’t really delve into the somewhat more mystical areas of what might be considered the ‘energies’ of love, creativity and the life force; things that actually create order out of (what might otherwise seem like) chaos. What is the soul? Not to mention – the big one – why is it so? That kind of gets into ‘God territory’ (or at least philosophy and poetry) and that stuff is considered by most physicists to be someone else’s bailliwick.

The way that life always somehow manages to find a way to go on is the sort of thing I’ve been thinking about. I don’t have an opinion really about which, if any, deity might be involved in any of this, but perhaps it’s better just to think of it as that marvelous 20th century invention of George Lucas’; ‘the force’ and leave it at that. I have been reading a lot lately about the impact we’ve had on the natural world – on our biosphere – since we evolved; the mass species extinctions that have followed our spread across the planet and are only accelerating, the pollution we have spread to every corner of the globe, the mayhem that we have caused in almost all the natural systems on this planet including now the upper atmosphere where we once imagined God and the angels to dwell. The whole of ‘creation’ is under threat from the terrible destructive force that is homo sapiens. But nevertheless, life still manages to find a way. Wildernesses recover, wolves return, jungles grow back, plants poke their way up out of sewers and subways, bacteria evolve that can eat plastic, eagles find a way to live and even thrive, perching in New York skyscraper eyries and feeding on rats and pigeons.

Perhaps the way to save an ailing relationship and an ailing planet is the same; use the force. Use love. If only we would pay intent attention to what we’re doing, focus our energy considering carefully the long term consequences of any and all of our actions rather than greedily grasping for the instant, often fleeting, reward we might stop destroying things and start creating them. If only we bent all of our efforts on finding and implementing solutions rather than arguing about problems – we might actually find we could exert a positive influence, not just on our own lives, but on everything around us.

Rather than always saying ‘I want, I want, I want’ we might try saying ‘here you are, you’re welcome, come and share with me, would you like a bit more…’ We might find suddenly our lives became more bountiful the more stuff we gave away, whether it’s love or food or shelter (or plastics, or junk we don’t need, or poisons and addictions and various other things we’d really be better off without). But, well, listen to me running on! That’s starting to sound less like physics and more like metaphysics. That sounds like the Law of Attraction and surely that kind of magical thinking flies in the face of reason, that’s just not common sense …. is it?

I certainly don’t know the answer to that one.

 

 

 

Sometimes only music can tell the story…

I’m working on a new blog about love and creativity v entropy and decay. You know, I thought I’d write something light and funny about eternity and the present, patterns and randomness… Love, of course, being the unifying force of the universe fighting against the constant pressure of chaos that seems to tear everything we do apart as soon as we get it just right (or so it seems)… But love really does conquer all eventually (yes really).

I’m having trouble finding the words (obviously). I want to emulate the serenity of the Buddhist monks who can work for weeks on a sand mandala in the full knowledge and deep understanding that it (and everything else in this world) will be blown away by the winds of time. Too many thoughts sometimes swirl in my brain. They’re like butterflies. It’s better to let them swirl and wait for them to land, rather than try to catch them.

Every time I start writing, this song pops into my head, so you may as well listen to it as well, while I figure this all out.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone…

I’ve been too down in the dumps to write anything for a while because I’ve been having a bit of a battle with depression. I’m feeling much better this week (thank goodness) but I thought it might make an interesting blog topic. What’s the use of having difficult personal experiences if I can’t use them for my ‘art’, eh? I’ve come to the conclusion that depression is probably one of the foremost causes of relationship breakdown. Let me explain.

Depression affects almost everyone from time to time. Some get it worse than others, to be sure. Some people don’t describe what they are feeling as depression, but prefer to call it sadness,  feeling ‘blue’, boredom, hopelessness, discouragement or even just a vague restlessness. But the root of these feelings in my view is depression. Women suffer from depression in general more than men. This may be in part due to simple biology or the fact that women do most of the world’s work and have good reason to feel exhausted and overwhelmed on a regular basis. It could also be because women are more likely to describe what they are feeling as depression and seek help, where a man might prefer to think of it as ‘stress’ or similar because it sounds more active and, well, manly. Men are also usually less inclined to seek help, preferring to soldier bravely on and not make a fuss or appear weak.

Of course, stress can be a trigger for depression. When there’s just too much going on in life it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and feel like you just can’t cope. Both men and women are inclined to respond to stress by becoming anxious, irritable or sad depending on their personalities. Women will often start to carp and criticize, blame and shame, shout and cry and generally start making a hell of a fuss in an attempt to relieve their troubled minds. Men are generally more inclined to just “suck it up” and ignore it or try to “drown” it if this proves impossible. Most people will externalise “the problem” and seek to “fix it” by running around making themselves even busier than before, working longer hours, spending too much money, gambling, getting into a fight or having an affair. This kind of thing tends to make matters worse rather than better though more often than not.

These kinds of behvaviours will obviously have a big impact on our personal relationships. It’s all too easy to blame our nearest and dearest when things go wrong, or at least take it out on them. They’re right there after all, handy as a pocket on a shirt, on the couch, in the kitchen, at the table, ready to bear the brunt of our ill will and be the projection of all of our upset feelings.

It is only in the past few years that I’ve spent any extended time as a ‘singleton’ and the last two when I’ve lived alone since my children grew up and moved out.  I’ve noticed that I have a cyclical depression cycle that is completely independent of my relationships. I’ve discovered that I get ‘depressed’ about twice a year on average and being single I’ve got nobody but myself to blame or take it out on! It usually follows a period of intense excitement or ‘busyness’ during which I’ve allowed myself to get overtired and run down – such as the Christmas / New Year period. Sometimes it feels as though I’ve used up all my ‘happy juice’ and I crash in a heap, feeling completely depleted. I lose my appetite, I can’t sleep properly, I can’t get the energy up to do anything, I cry easily and in general I just feel horribly miserable. My thoughts tend to take a very negative tone. I feel worthless, unloved, useless and unwanted. I usually imagine I’m dying of some fatal illness and I think to myself ‘Good!’.

There is usually a real life trigger that sets this unfortunate chain of events in motion, but quite often it’s some relatively minor thing that will knock me off balance. Something I would normally just brush off quite easily takes on the flavour of a major life altering catastrophe in my silly old head and I can’t seem to think positive about anything. I feel like I’ve been knocked down and can’t get back up again. This can be frightening because I’m always convinced this is it for the rest of my life and I’m falling, falling, falling into a big black hole.

Of course the less I sleep, the less I eat, the more I moan about it and the more I think about it (over and over) the worse it gets. To add to it I don’t feel like going out and seeing anyone or talking to anyone because as above I don’t feel like I’m good company and I don’t think anyone would want to see me either, so especially now that I live alone I can add loneliness and isolation to the long list of my woes! Oh dear!

However, when even I get sick of all the moaning (always a good sign) I start to do what I always recommend to others and what is recommended by all the experts; I embark on a total health blitz. I lay off the booze. I get eight hours sleep every night. I have three healthy meals a day (even if I have to choke them down). I get outside and get some sunshine. I go for at least a 30 minute walk every day. I get out in the real world and talk to some real people about something other than my alleged problems. I closely monitor my negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones one at a time. Lo and behold! Within a few days the clouds always begin to lift, the alleged problems get reduced to their normal size and I always, always start to feel better.

I was thinking during the latest bout that when I was in various previous relationships and this would happen is most often when we would break up. I would start to feel a bit like rubbish and rather than realise this is just a cyclical pattern that happens sometimes and take some responsibility for myself, take some time out, ramp up the ‘health blitz’ and generally sort myself out, I would get the wobbles and start blaming it on my significant other for it. If this was a relatively new relationship this would often happen after about 4 – 6 months. It would often follow a period of intense excitement and ‘busyness’ at the start of the affair where there was lots of dating, dancing, carrying on and staying up late. Inevitably, what goes up must come down and before you know it ‘Kablam!’ – depression.

I would start to think that the new boyfriend was boring, being mean to me, picking fights with me, not being attentive enough, or in general not making me happy (well, obviously, since I wasn’t feeling happy – Q.E.D). Before you know it we’d be fighting and finding fault until – oh dear – sayonara baby!

Now, sometimes I was quite right and few of my gentelmen friends did indeed leave a great deal to be desired and good riddance and good luck to them. But other times I’m sure I’ve made a complete hash of what otherwise might have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship by not taking some responsibility for my own emotional state and expecting someone else to ‘fix it’ for me, which of course is very foolish behaviour. To make matters worse this would usually be closely followed by a long drawn out bout of depression, which I always thought was caused by the break up, but perhaps it was really the other way around. Perhaps the cyclical depression was causing the break ups?

In the two long term relationships I’ve had I would get into one of these ‘bad moods’ but because those gentlemen were terribly patient or very forebearing, or more emotionally mature than me or I was younger and more resilient (or something) we might fight a bit and maybe I’d sulk a bit or whine a bit, but eventually it would all ‘come good’ again in a few weeks and we’d be fine. However I’m sure these semi-regular episodes of depression added their own wear and tear to the fabric of those relationships too, not the least because I always tended to blame someone else for them.

But, I’m not going to be too hard on myself. After all, I’ve only just figured all this out. If it wasn’t obvious to me, no wonder it wasn’t obvious to anyone else. These will no doubt be very, very useful insights to help me along in my northward voyage. Now I know the signs to look out for and what to do to avoid the pitfalls, perhaps I will behave more wisely in future? Stranger things have happened after all.

And so to finish, as usual, a song to brighten even the cloudiest of days. This one is in the book in a list of ‘Songs you can’t hear without feeling happier at once’. See if it works for you too.

Oh, and I patched things up with my ex. :)

Fantasy v Reality

I’ve been thinking (as you do) that we are absolutely bombarded with stuff about love in the movies, music, poetry, magazines and fiction all the time. But that’s because we love it. Love sells! We love to read about, think about, hear about “Love”. We can’t get enough of it. And love is in the air! Everywhere I look around! It’s on TV in soap powder commercials. It’s on the radio with Elvis wailing about his tender broken heart. It’s in the magazine at the hairdressers: “Does he love you or is he just after sex? Take this 5 minute quiz”. It’s on billboards, it’s at the movies, it’s on the boardwalk on a summer evening walking hand in hand licking a gelati.

But although love sometimes seems to have been co-opted into some kind of zombified modern marketing mechanism or other times seems as fleeting as that moment when the time is right, your perfume fills my head the sky gets red and oh the night’s so blue… love is also ancient and eternal. Love is infinite and primeval. Love truly is one of the strongest forces on Earth. It is certainly one of our strongest instincts. I guess the trick with handling the inevitable ups and downs of romantic love based relationships is to try to separate out the fantasy version from the ‘real’ thing without throwing the baby out with the bathwater (so to speak).

Love has been with us since the dawn of time maybe even since before the Big Bang (pardon the pun). Love never goes out of style. We have always loved soppy love stories with happy endings, we lap up the tragic tales of starcrossed lovers like thirsty kittens and we have done so for thousands of years. It’s not just women either. Men do it too. Long before the invention of the ‘chick flick’ Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina. D.H. Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Hogey Charmichael wrote Stardust. Men, all of them. Some of the oldest grafitti in the world, discovered in ancient Pompeii is about love.

“Whoever loves, let him flourish. Let him perish who knows not love. Let him perish twice over whoever forbids love.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same….

There’s something that feels kind of spiritual and eternal about love isn’t there? I don’t think it’s just a psychological delusion created by an excess of pheromones either. I think perhaps there is some kind of otherworldly dimension to it. Of course this is  the aspect that artists, poets, musicians and writers like to focus on and write about. When we are ‘in love’ there is often a feeling that it will last forever; that it is somehow fate and our ordained destiny. Many people talk about ‘soul mates’ trying to describe that feeling in words. I know. I have a chapter in the book about soul mates and my views on all that. Do we really reincarnate and keep meeting up again and again with the same person? Well perhaps? Do we really have another ‘half’ we must find in order to be complete? Who knows for sure? You can’t prove it in a laboratory (yet) so I guess it remains moot.

There is no doubt that, soul mates and magic carpet rides aside, there are some very prosaic biological reasons why we fall in love. Obviously it’s pretty essential for procreation that we not only ‘get it on’ with a suitably healthy and fertile mate but stay together at least long enough to raise a couple of kids for a reasonable length of time. Some people stay together because they fear loneliness more than boredom, guilt more than taking a chance. Many people prefer security to daydreams and/or are more preoccupied with other issues. Sure. There’s all that. But there’s more to love than simple biology. There’s definitely something going on that’s not just about simple needs for food, shelter and companionship. We know it if we have ever felt it. It’s, you know, ‘the other thing’.

Why does love sometimes seem, like a bird, to fly away so easily? Perhaps it has something to do with the ‘fantasy’ version that we are culturally immersed in and the failure of actual, up-close-and-personal real life love to measure up to it? It’s easy enough to conjecture how and why people ‘fall in love’ and  much ink has been spilled trying to work that one out of course. But if love is ‘eternal’ why do people ‘fall out of love’? Is it because they weren’t ‘really’ in love in the first place perhaps, but just ‘in lust’? Well, naturally that does happen. It’s easy to mix up love and sex. It happens all the time. It’s nothing new. Is it just boring stuff like poor communication skills, substance abuse or psychological issues, or one too many arguments about the dishes (or sex or both)? Perhaps. I’m sure these things all contribute.

But I also wonder if our expectations are not a little overblown by all the fairy floss that is written about love. When we’re having a bad day and our significant other does something boring, hurtful or stupid (once too often) or in whatever way fails to live up to our often completely unrealistic expectations of how a partner should behave, it’s easy to think “Hmmpf! I just don’t love him/her any more! It’s over!”

When the first flush of euphoria fades away after a few months of a new love affair we inevitably come to the ‘pheromone crash’, which is like the hangover after a great party when the tinsel and fairy dust suddenly disappear (poof!) and you realise your beloved is an ordinary, fallible human being just like everyone else. This is the time when the first fight often occurs, which in many cases can also be the last fight! Sure, an ability to negotiate these things is important in forming a lasting relationship. But there’s more to it than that. It’s not just nuts and bolts, although nuts and bolts are important if you want to keep your boat afloat. Why would you put up with the ‘icky bits’ if you did not love the other person somewhere deep down, after all?

I guess the thing that makes love last in the long run is not just the ‘magic’ bit, but all that stuff I write about in the book – tenderness, compassion, respect; trust, admiration and of course, serenity. Lashings of patience and a sense of humour don’t go astray either! After all, love is (ideally) outward shining like the sun. Once you understand that, you have the key. I don’t really have all the answers. I’m just a ‘searcher’ like many others. I don’t think I’m there yet (especially on a bad day like today).

To illustrate my blogs I like to add a song or a movie clip that feels appropriate to me at the time. I have chosen Dolly Parton doing her lovely ballad of outward shining love “I will always love you”. I know the version by Whitney Houston from the movie The Bodyguard is not only quite spectacular but more well known, but this one has a romantic story attached.When I put up a Youtube clip of a song I always prefer to get a version done by the person who wrote the song. Somehow the writer always sings it better (I think).

What makes this a particularly poignant musical moment is that Miss Parton wrote the song when she had broken up with her partner at the time, Porter Wagoner. They met when she was just starting out in showbiz and became very close. But, for various reasons best understood by themselves at the time, they parted. This is a performance from 1974 on “The Porter Wagoner Show”. Porter introduces “Miss Dolly” at the start. Underneath the hair and makeup there’s a truly beautiful woman singing a very personal love song.

Wagoner said of her in later years: “I loved Dolly then, and I love her now.  “She’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in my life.”

Gotta love it.

 

 

 

Comfort and joy

The celebration of the Yuletide in Europe with its festive trees and artfully placed mistletoe, the Jewish festival of Hannuka with its lighting of the candles, the Saturnalia of Roman antiquity with it’s emphasis on feasting and overindulgence and of course the astronomical event of the new year solstice (which is really what it’s all about) are happening all over the world tonight. (Silent Night. Holy Night). It’s Christmas.

These celebrations of course, are ancient and their origins all of which are deeply intertwined. We are all brothers and sisters really, no matter what particular faith we may have been raised in. All these end of year celebrations pre-date Christianity by many, many centuries. They even pre-date Judaism and they certainly pre-date Islam. All this end of year “carry on” has been going on since the dawn of time. But Christianity absorbed many of the world’s ancient practices, wove them together, added some new bits, put in some theater, some new thoughts, a little music and some of its own special magic and came up with Christmas. Christianity soaked up all those ancient and varied cultural traditions just like good bread soaks up good gravy. It’s a good thing. It is to be enjoyed. This is the day to do it (by crikey).

Personally, I don’t worry too much about what it all means on a mystical level. The most important thing about Christmas is it’s traditional and traditions survive for a reason. Traditions are there to remind us about very important stuff that we might otherwise forget. Important stuff like visiting family. Important stuff like checking on your friends. Important stuff like making sure everyone is OK has food to share and is nice and warm and safe. You know… ‘comfort and joy’.

Things to do on Christmas Day:

  • Kiss your loved ones, or at least give them a hug (maybe a present too).
  • Remember to smile. This is supposed to be fun, after all.
  • Catch up with people you might not have seen for a while
  • Be nice (peace on earth…. you know the drill)
  • Be jolly

If you don’t have any loved ones and you just wish the whole Christmas thing would go away and stop bothering you (bah humbug) you have exactly 12 months to do something about that starting today. Ready set go!

See you next year. With much love.

Miriam

In these shoes? I don’t think so

So after the highs inevitably follow the lows. It was ever thus. It is the way of the world. I can’t change it, even if I had the energy to try, which (at the moment) I don’t. After the excitement of the book launch, the euphoria of finishing something I started (for a change), the acclaim, applause and accolades … come the yucky bits. The depression, always lurking, comes and bites (like the black dog) as night inevitably follows day. I am no exception to this rule. The only difference is I’m (fairly) old and I’m (relatively) used to it. Also, I wrote a whole book about this stuff, so you’d think I’d know better. But it still doesn’t stop me from getting a bit crazy sometimes! (Yes, really).

For the past couple of weeks I have struggled to think of something suitably marvelous to write about in a blog and came up with nothing (0). But today (huzzah!) in a state of ennui about the usual mess that is my own love life, I reached out and logged into the Love advice forum as I sometimes do. I do love other peoples’ problems! They’re always so much more intriguing and so much easier to solve than my own, after all. They’re certainly a great distraction from my tedious and tawdry dilemmas.

As they say, we teach what it is that we wish to learn and while writing a piece of excellent (if I say so) advice to some unfortunate young person, I had an idea for a blog and a solution to my own present ‘on again off again’ relationship dilemma.

In the first flush of a new relationship it is easy to get carried away on a cloud of pheromone-induced euphoria. We are utterly convinced (at the time) that this is “It”, this is “The One”, we will be in love forever and nothing will ever go wrong. We will make babies, we will live happily ever after…tra la la la la la la… After a few months or so, inevitably comes what I like to call “The Crash”. After all, what goes up must come down. It’s just like the hangover, the morning after the fantastic party of the night before when we wake up and wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s normal, it’s natural and it always passes eventually. But, at the time, the contrast to how fantastic we have recently been feeling comes as a rude shock. Sometimes it feels so bad it’s easy to think you’ve fallen completely ‘out of love’.

This is what I wrote to a young woman who was going completely “nuts” over a guy who had seemed so perfect for a few months, then suddenly pulled away and took up with his on again off again ‘ex’. One minute everything was wonderful, the next minute she was dumped there was the boyfriend on Facebook, having birthday cake with his mother … and his ex. (oh dear!).

Oh boy! First of all it’s not unusual to have a really intense connection with someone for a couple of months or so – even talk about the future, getting married, etc. etc. It’s pheromones – they’re like a drug. They make you crazy (and dreamy and happy and dizzy). Then after a while, the pheromones settle down a bit and you ‘sober up’. Usually the guy is the first one to get cold feet, but sometimes it’s the girl too. It’s terribly upsetting when this happens, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, let alone the relationship. It’s just like the ‘hangover’ after a great party. It passes.

When girls are upset they like to talk and talk and talk about it. Mostly guys prefer to work it through on their own for a while. This is one of the reasons they pull away. They might even say they want to break the ‘whole thing’ off. The thing to do when this happens is not to freak out, but just to wait patiently without hassling them until they work it through, start to miss you and come back to you all by themselves. They ALWAYS do (well, most of the time anyway, if they’re any good). Where most women go wrong at this point in a new relationship is to panic, act all needy, get all upset and do something silly that will push the guy away, just when he’s feeling a bit uncertain about the ‘whole’ thing. Crank phone calls, text message dumping, pretending to be pregnant, Facebook blocking, threatening suicide, all of that kind of stuff will not get a man back into your life, it will make him think you’re ‘psychotic’ and push him away, but that doesn’t seem to figure in the thinking of a ‘freaked out’ girlfriend.

It’s also not unheard of for a guy to LIE about his relationship with his ex (or at least to exaggerate to make himself look good and her look bad). So, it may be that what happened with his ex is exactly what happened with you … they were together for a certain amount of time, everything was wonderful, then he got all distant on her, she freaked out and started bugging him, stalking him, etc. to the point where they broke up (this is why he thought she was ‘psychotic’). Then time worked its magic and he started to miss her again, the rose coloured glasses started to work as they do after a little while. … That’s what the ‘breaking up a million times’ thing is all about.

It’s a magic merry-go-round between him and you two women. He feels attracted to both of you obviously, but then he feels the natural male urge to pull away every now and again when it all gets too ‘heavy’ and emotionally confusing. When he pulls away, whichever one of the women he’s been seeing then freaks out (drunken text messaging, fighting, etc) and they break up. To console himself over the ‘break up’ he looks up the other one who he now misses because he hasn’t seen her for a while – next thing you know it’s back on again and round and round you go.

So what to do? The only thing to do in this situation is to remain calm, rational and as poised as possible and take a BIG step back from the whole business. Let him know (very rationally and politely) that this is doing your head in and you need time alone to work out how you feel about him and decide if you really want to keep seeing him or not (he will totally get this, because this is how men operate).

Then absolutely, totally, leave him alone. No stalking, no spying, no texting, no Facebooking, no nothing. Just get on with your life. (Don’t hook up with someone else in the meantime!). Give it at least a couple of months (yes really). During that time you need to have a long and serious think about whether you really like this guy all that much after all. You need to decide if this guy has enough emotional maturity to build a proper relationship with in the long term. Ask yourself, do you want to live the rest of your life like this? Really? You need to decide if it’s really love or just pheromones at work here. You need to be sure you know how to be happy in yourself with or without this guy in your life. When he sorts himself out and only when he sorts himself out, then you will have some chance of starting over again and having something approaching a mature relationship that will be good for both (or either) of you.

Girls (ladies) a word of advice. If in doubt, don’t! Stop doing stuff. Stop chasing after men. Let them chase you. It’s simple. It’s nature. Just relax. Stay calm. Breathe. Wait for him to catch up to you. He’ll work it out. (Yes, he will if he’s worth the trouble). Truly. Really. If he doesn’t want to chase you, well, that’s his loss anyway, isn’t it?

In these shoes? I don’t think so….

 

Launched!

 

What a swell party it was! True to my word, I came in full pirate regalia! Many thanks to all my friends who came along, bought a book, spoke and performed. I couldn’t do it without my crew! Yaargh!

This is your very own authoress with the lovely Annie Edney who did the illustrations.

 

 

Launch time

The long awaited day has arrived. It is done. Huzzah! I’ve hit the ‘go’ button to distribute it via the internet, Amazon.com etc. and ordered 50 copies for the launch. Will it be enough? I hope so. Well, I hope I sell at least a few anyway. I’ll be offering them for the special launch price of $20. Ideal for Christmas gifts of course.

The book launch will be on 8 December, at the North Fitzroy Arms Hotel, 6pm – 8pm. I’m planning on coming in full pirate regalia. Maybe something a little bit like this? Why not!

I’ve asked some friends if they can play some jazz tunes – love songs of course! I might even warble one out myself.

I’m excited and terrified all at once. What if nobody comes? What if nobody likes it? What if it’s an epic failure! Don’t be ridiculous says the ‘sensible voice’… it’ll be just fine. Well, I hope so. Fingers crossed. There’s no going back now anyway, only onwards.

Maybe I need The Little Book of Calm?

Internal voices

Those who have been reading along will know that I broke up with my partner a month or so ago (which was very embarrassing, just when I’m finishing a book on love!). Anyway, in the time that followed I was spending much more time on my own than previously and was also feeling quite upset, naturally enough. I started taking careful note of my own internal choir as I puttered about at home on my own in the evenings. There’s a section in the book on ‘Internal Voices’ and in the process of finishing off the final editing I have been reading the book over and over. I decided to take my own advice and really tune into the internal discussion.

I discovered something very interesting. I have about four primary voices, but there are two that are mostly in charge of moment to moment decision making. One I describe as ‘the sensible voice’.

This voice is full of all kinds of good advice:

  • Do you really need another glass of wine? Really?
  • It’s time for bed now. You need to get up early tomorrow
  • No, you don’t need any chocolate
  • You’d better iron your pants for work now because you won’t have time later
  • You should have some vegetables with that
  • You can’t afford that. You don’t need another one anyway
  • Yes, you’d better take an umbrella

There is another one which is in constant conflict with ‘the sensible voice’ that I call ‘the rebellious child’. This voice likes to have fun, stay up late, talk too much, drink too much, watch rubbish on TV and get up to all kinds of mischief. However, this ‘rebellious child’ is great fun and full of life. If I only ever listened to the sensible voice I’d never have any fun and life would be dull and predictable. Before too long it would be dull and dreary and that wouldn’t do at all. But when I only listen to the ‘rebellious child’ I don’t get important things done, which causes me stress, I don’t take proper care of myself and get worn out and in general things tend to get into a mess before long.

I have recently worked out that the best thing for these two voices to do is to negotiate. I’ve found that if the sensible voice cuts the rebellious child some slack we all have a much better time of it. It works amazingly well for me when they make a deal. Everything gets done and I still get to enjoy life and have some fun.

It goes a little something like this:

  • I feel like going out for a drink after work tonight
  • But, remember you said you wanted to get that book editing done
  • I can do it tomorrow night
  • That’s what you said last night, besides you’re already doing something tomorrow night
  • Oh! I just don’t feel like it. I feel like having some fun. I don’t feel like sitting in front of the computer all night!
  • I tell you what, if you get the last chapter finished, then you can invite your friend over for a drink. How about that? You haven’t seen her for a while and then you can show her the book all done. Would you like that?
  • Brilliant! Let’s do that!
  • Very good.

Teaching my internal voices to negotiate is a wonderful new trick. Instead of always having argue with myself about everything I feel I have created some internal harmony. Now I feel more like a conductor of a choir rather than a ringmaster in the circus.

This is the end…

 

 

I’ve been working very hard all weekend, trying to stay focused on finishing the last bit of the book. I have had to eschew other entertainments and just get on with it so I can have the book out in time for a launch before Christmas. I’m liking it a lot. There are some good laughs in the last bit, which is as it should be. See what you think.

Nitty gritty relationship advice

“Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it, let’s do it, let’s fall in love”  – Cole Porter

The compass is about to come full circle, so I’ll try to quickly pass along a final few pearls of wisdom which I have collected on my romantic adventures after my many, many long years at sea. I know what you’re thinking, dear reader, oh no! More navigational metaphors! It’s the end of the book and I still don’t know what to do about my relationship dilemma. What a jip! I want my money back! Very well then. Let’s get down to some of the really nitty gritty stuff. It’s what everyone really wants anyway. This is the good oil, so listen up.

Men and women are similar but different (obviously). Men and women have instincts, hormones and pheromones that are slightly differently arranged and this has an impact on the way we think about, feel and express our emotions, including or even, especially when it comes to love. Women, to take one simple example, really are more biologically disposed towards crying, particularly during pregnancy, because they have higher levels of the hormone prolactin in their bodies. Men, with a higher level of testosterone, are less inclined to burst into tears when upset but more likely to seek an active or even aggressive solution to a problem. Not all of our gender differences are due to simple biology of course. Some of the differences in typical male and female behaviours are socially constructed and reinforced by tradition and cultural norms from birth. Maybe in an ideal world these gender differences would not exist but the fact is, like it or not, they are real. Many of the things male and female humans do are deeply instinctive and easily discernable in the behaviour of our closest cousins, the apes. It’s a natural thing and there’s nothing at all wrong with it.

Males and females are put together differently and I, personally, think that’s a good thing. Would you really want men and women to be the same? Think about it. How boring would that be! But the impact these ancient unconscious stimuli have on certain behaviours can be very confusing and a source of conflict when we try to navigate them using our modern day, urbanised minds only, forgetting to use our heart, our nose, our ears and our tongue.

…..Gentlemen, women like a man who makes them feel safe, happy and secure. This is not rocket science. The female desire for safety and security is another one of those instinctual things that has stayed with us since our primeval days for very good evolutionary reasons. Money is a great quick fix for this problem of course, but there’s a bit more to it than that. A lot of men think that the more money you have the more attractive you will be to the fairer sex. To some extent (particularly with a certain type of female) sure, this is true. But money doesn’t buy love. Not really. It was important for evolutionary reasons for women to select a mate who would be able to help keep her and her children alive back in those very ancient times when life was more of a struggle than it is now. But for most of us at least, times have changed. Society has moved on. Women have moved on. Better try to keep up with them, eh?

While it’s a good thing to be financial enough to not be a burden on a modern woman, nowadays money is not the big deal it once was in relationships or even marriage as long as you have enough to cover the necessities. Modern liberated women can earn their own mammoth steaks. What they want these days is a man who will be pleasant and amusing company in favour of a strong but silent bread winner who can beat up robbers. What they want more nowadays is a feeling of emotional safety and security, not just a roof over their heads and an electric washing machine. They want someone who will be their companion on life’s journey, to share their joys and sorrows, laughter and tears. It’s the same thing as a man wants deep down really. Women are just much more noisy about it.

Women want someone they can snuggle up to and who will hold them in his arms, stroke their hair and tell them everything will be OK. Even if their man doesn’t have a brilliant solution to the problems of the world right at this moment, that’s fine. Women are actually aware that men don’t know everything (surprised? You shouldn’t be). What women usually want is not for you to hop on your white steed and ride off to save the day. They just want you to reassure them that you understand. Women want their partner to be the one who knows them better than anybody else, or at least is doing his best to listen and take the time to care.

Always make sure you have enough brain space left over from doing the day-to-day man stuff to tune into your feminine side now and again and pay attention to what she’s trying to tell you. It will help you get to know her better. It will help you connect emotionally, mentally and physically. That’s all she wants. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is how trust is built. This is how tenderness is nurtured. This is what makes love grow stronger every day.

Do

  • Accept your partner as they are
  • Listen to each other
  • Be nice to each other
  • Be on the same side
  • Smile at each other
  • Follow your passions whatever they are (as long as they’re legal and/or safe)
  • Support your partner in following their passions whatever they are (as long as they’re legal and/or safe)
  • Go out and have some fun together from time to time, just the two of you
  • Always make an effort to look your best for each other
  • Be affectionate all the time (not just when you want to have sex)
  • Always remember to say please, thank you, sorry and bless you

Don’t

  • Talk about your ex all the time
  • Fret constantly about the future of the relationship
  • Boss each other around
  • Interrupt (especially when the other person is thinking of an answer to your question)
  • Cheat
  • Lie
  • Whinge, whine, nag or criticize (it’s very unattractive)
  • Treat your partner as a blank slate or a work in progress
  • Ever, ever give up if it’s really love.

Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy and good manners cost nothing and kindness is the duty of every person to those they care about. Behaving as well as possible will, without a shadow of a doubt improve your relationships while increasing your own and others’ happiness. Blend grace and compassion and you cannot go wrong, so spread them about you liberally and watch what happens. Display concern for your partner when they express suffering and show understanding for their various problems, worries and sorrows. We all have our troubles, large and small. Life is like that. Some bear them better and more stoically than others, but it is not a competition. Love is for the sake of it, without requirement for reward. There is nobody who does not deserve their full share of love (yes even pirates, strange but true).

Relationships last a long time or a short time. They might last a lifetime or they might only last a couple of weeks and that’s OK. Que sera sera. Constantly fretting about the future or the direction of the relationship is more likely to make it last a shorter time rather than a long one. It’s not within your power to control the future and it’s going to be counter-productive to constantly workshop it with your partner. Don’t be afraid of the future. Be loving now. Be mindful every moment you spend together to be as patient, joyful and kind as you can as often as you can and you have a much better chance of having a relationship of the quality that you want. The quantity will then take care of itself. Constantly criticising and complaining to your partner about how they are not living up to your expectations will have a predictable result. Don’t do that. Do the other thing.