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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Anything But Ordinary: The need for faith, hope and healing.

Have you ever noticed that some people seemingly take great risks, step out on the edge, tend to gravitate towards the unhealthy or bounce around from controlling relationship to controlling relationship OR dramatic relationship to dramatic relationship.

Why do we do it?
  • Are we trying to outrun or 'escape' our problems?   
    • If I keep busy or seek the latest thrill or high, we won't have to face our issues.
  • Are we trying to medicate away our problems?
    • If I gamble, drink, sleep around and so on, perhaps I won't have whatever pain I have will be masked over.
  • Are we so used to drama that the mundane feels out of place?  The word familiar has the same root as family.  If we were raised and/or have always lived in a dysfunctional environment, we will not know how to react to 'normal' or  'healthy' relationships.  'Normal', healthy or 'wholesome' relationships could seem boring or stale.
  • Are we seeking approval?  Sometimes the attention we get from 'acting out' or 'being the life of the party' is better than a lack of attention.  That is if we are 'interesting enough' or 'fun enough' then people won't help but to be drawn to 'the party'.
  • Are we feeling hopeless or too damaged? 
    • If we feel like we have nothing left to lose, then it can free us up to engage in risky or dangerous behavior.  That is, if there doesn't feel like there will be much of--if any--of a tomorrow, what do we have to lose by living on the edge?
    • The problem lies when we wake up from the 'binge' or edgy behavior and realize in many cases that it has made things worse for us.

What forms does it take?
  • I've kind of touched up on it already but here are just a few.
    • Excessive drinking
    • Illegal or illicit drugs
    • Out-of-control gambling.
    • Acting out, sleeping around or porn addiction
    • Unsafe activities such as reckless stunts, reckless riding/driving, going to reckless places, reckless behavior with fireworks, etc.
    • Excessive thrill-seeking.  Sometimes, it isn't so much that a certain activity is bad per se, but if we do it excessively it can indicate a bigger problem.  Say sky-diving every weekened for example, could be considered excessive for an average person. 

  • It is okay to step out a little, go outside your comfort zone, take a chance from time to time.  The whole point of this blog is not to suggest otherwise.  Were it not for people taking chances or risks, life would be dull and we'd have likely not accomplished some of the great feats/advances that we have.
  • It isn't so much how much we live on the edge, but more so the motivation behind it.
    • Is it for a healthy reason such as helping others?  If so, we are less likely to flame out.
    • Is it for an unhealthy reason such as avoiding dealing with abuse, hurt, grief, pain, trauma, etc.   If so, we might find we need a higher and higher dose of living on the edge just to keep the avoidance up and we will be more likely to flame out or spiral out of control.
    • Living on the edge in a way 
  • Whatever your faith--for example, Christianity--it is in many ways necessary to be willing to not be 'ordinary'.  Mother Theresa was not Ordinary, she could have lived an easy life, but instead she sacrificed to help the poorest of the poor.  Sometimes our faith requires us to go against popular opinion or worldly views or behavior   In other words, going against the grain and not being 'ordinary'.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Space: The Final Frontier

While I believe that most people are social creatures and need and even sometimes crave positive interaction with others: children, parents, spouse, friends, etc., I believe that people by and large have a need for space from time to time.  They need it to re-energize, to recharge, and to quietly consider their lives--what's important to them and even their relationship to God.

I've heard the term "man cave" so many times.  For a guy, it is thought of his own space or spot in the house or own area he can retreat to for peace and quiet.

But, over time, I've come to a different understanding of what the meaning of 'man cave' (space) is.  It doesn't have to be a spot to retreat to in one's house.  It doesn't even necessarily have to be one's house.

Here are some examples of where one can find his (or her)  man-cave (or she-shed)--that is their space.

  • Space can be somewhere besides one's place.  If you love your work, it can be there.  If you own a garage for example and are working on restoring an old Corvette Stingray that could be your place.  It could be at your best friend's place.  It could be at a place where you hang out listen to music, play pool, throw darts...  It could be literally anywhere else.
  • Space can be your own place.  You could have a room designated as your own in which you are not disturbed unless they knock.  That's the classic definition.  It could also be your garden area outside in which you are left alone to tend.  It could be your work area.  It could be literally anywhere on your property.
  • Space doesn't have to be a physical spot either.  It could be a time that you have completely to yourself uninterrupted, while family is out at school, work or just doing something else.  
  • Space doesn't actually have to be alone time either.  For example, if everyone is around the house, but is quietly, peacefully and separately entertaining themselves, you can have your own virtual space   For me, as you might imagine, this is my blog.  If everyone else is reasonably and contently occupied and I'm just typing away, I feel a certain freedom.
Anyway, just some thoughts to consider as you search for your own space.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What is your "Piano in the Dark"?

Some songs just grab your attention for reasons you don't know and one day when you are listening to it many years later, their meaning hits you and you realize that there is probably a reason you have always loved or connected with the song.

In the late 1980s, Brenda Russell co-wrote and recorded Piano in the Dark.  The concept is at once both simple and involved.  The words and the music are powerful.  In the song, Ms. Russell's character is at a very disconnected place in her relationship.  It feels dead to her.   She's thinking she's strong enough to call it quits.  But, her mate knows how to reach her and as she is getting ready to leave, he plays the piano for her and she realizes that she still loves him.

For me "Piano in the Dark" is a synonym for that special something about your significant other pulls you in, that keeps you from leaving.  It is that special something about him or her that you just can't live without.

This got me to thinking the subject matter.  In your relationship, do you have that special something that your mate does, says or is about him/her that you can hold onto?  What is it about your relationship that keeps you there even through the rough spots?  This blog is essentially about what keeps people in relationships, even through the rough patches.

From what I see the following are one or more reason why people stay in relationships even through turbulent times, not necessarily in order of constructive:

  • Comfort factor.  Sometimes we've been with someone so long that the relationship feels like a well worn shoe.  In other words, not elegant, not necessarily even warm fuzzy, but comfortable.  Stephen Stills: Love the One Your With
  • Functional factor.  This can be for raising kid(s) together, convenient living arrangement, appearances, etc.   Sometimes, this can be a consideration or The Consideration.
  • Fear of the unknown or codependence factor.  Sometimes, the idea of 'starting over' is too overwhelming and it just seems easier just to stay together.  Sometimes, the idea of being without a someone, even if that someone doesn't treat us right, can be daunting, especially if we haven't spent enough time on ourselves.
  •  Honorable factor.  This can take the form of staying together for the sake of the kids or staying together because of a commitment to the Father or something similar.  I believe that these are good reasons to stay together in a lot of cases.  Definitely, take the children into account and definitely if you are married, don't think that a vow before God should be taken lightly.  Too many people do that.
  • Special factor.  There really is that something special about the other person that keeps drawing you to them.  It can be that voice, the way they are good with the kids, that sense of humor, that sweetness about them, the way they love you.  John Michael Montgomery: I Love the Way You Love Me

I would say we all, but there are some that don't care.  But most people hope that find that someone special and that what made their mate special will always light up a glow in their heart.  So, I will focus the rest of the blog entry on that.

I believe that it is important to spend a few moments from time to time in contemplation and prayer.  Remembering what it is about our mate that we love and to remind them from time to time why we love them.  Life can get hectic, difficult and/or cloudy and it is important to establish a pattern of keeping in mind what we like about our significant other.  But, perhaps even more importantly, spending a few minutes letting them know we are thinking about them.

So, I guess I will end this as a I started this by asking what is your "Piano in the Dark".  For me, it is my wife's warmth, the way she appreciates me--especially the side I don't like to publicly show and the way she cares for my daughter.  It helps that she's got that Creek Indian look about her ;-)

But, I digress, I challenge to find, remember or express what is your "Piano in the Dark".


When I find myself watching the time
I never think about all the funny things you said
I feel like it's dead
Where is it leading me now
I turn around in the still of the room
Knowing this is when I'm gonna make my move
Can't wait any longer
And I'm feeling stronger but oh
Just as I walk through the door
I can feel your emotion
It's pullin' me back
Back to love you
I know I'm caught up in the middle
I cry just a little
When I think of letting go
Oh no, gave up on the riddle
I cry just a little
When he plays piano in the dark
He holds me close like a thief of the heart
He plays a melody
Born to tear me all apart
The silence is broken
And no words are spoken but oh
Just as I walk through the door
I can feel your emotion
It's pullin' me back
Back to love you
I know I'm caught up in the middle
I cry just a little
When I think of letting go
Oh no, gave up on the riddle
I cry just a little
When he plays piano in the dark

--Written by Scott Cutler, Jeff Hull, Brenda Russell