sarahmichigan: (Default)
Well, I say "truth" in the title, and perhaps these are not universal truths, but I find them to be generalizations that fit most of the time.


1. Everyone wants to feel special


2. Each person longs to be understood.



I think if more people understood and kept those two points in mind, all their relationships — from boss-employee to lovers to friends — would go much more smoothly.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
So, this weekend, I was at Penguicon. I had fun, though I always feel a little pressured to "stay up late and have fun!" Except staying up late is not fun for me, generally speaking. I enjoyed some panels about writing, playing Fluxx in the games room and enjoyed the hell out of the Drag show, though I was too antsy to stay past the first hour or so of it (I'd already been sitting a long time watching the Masquerade).

I also volunteered for the first time, thinking it might be a way to force myself to meet people as I can be a bit shy and just tend to hang out with people I already know at these sorts of things. My shift was from 8-10 a.m., and it was eery to see how quiet the hotel was at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, considering it was completely full. So, that didn't help much with the meeting people thing, but at least I earned some good karma points.

Yesterday was J. and my 13th wedding anniversary. We didn't do anything too exciting, but I always kind of think of Penguicon as our anniversary getaway as it's usually just a week or so before our anniversary. I made bean and potato enchiladas and we watched "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" which I really loved, so it was a good evening.

And, later this week, we will be adopting a cat, which I'm really excited about. Photos and details once the adoption is complete!
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I just was looking at my profile here and had to update the info about J. and I. This spring, we're coming up on 17 years together total and 13 married. I have spent nearly half my life with J. Deep!
sarahmichigan: (Default)

Earlier this month, we passed the 15th anniversary of the day J. and officially started dating. A few days ago, we passed the 11th anniversary of our legal marriage ceremony. On May 3 we mark the 11th anniversary of our handfasting and consider this our "real" anniversary.

Last night, I made boca burger crumble tacos for dinner and they ended up being kind of eye-wateringly spicy. I said, "Those turned out hotter than I meant to make them." Then I grinned and asked J. how many times he'd heard that in the last 15 years...

I love April and May for a variety of reasons related to the weather and flowering trees and tulips, but I also love it because we have many dates we can celebrate our love and how long it has lasted.

Happy Anniversary, babe!

sarahmichigan: (pensive)
I'm usually kind of so-so about the "Daily Ohm" pieces that a lot of my LJ friends post, but I liked this one about nurturing relationships:

http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2006/3011.html

"Once [relationships] become more established, the individuals in the union begin to turn their attention outward again, to the other parts of their lives that matter, such as work, family, and friendships. This is natural and healthy. Yet, if a long-term relationship is to last, turning towards one another recurrently, with the same curiosity, attention, and nurturance of earlier times, is essential."
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been thinking over some things over the last few days, and I could probably go on and on, but I'll try to keep it concise.

I've heard or read several acquaintances and friends lately talk or write about feeling like observers in their lives, talk about "faking being an adult," or talk about feeling they are play-acting at some aspect of their lives. I know others who get down about "getting in a rut" or "taking someone or something for granted" or doing things out of habit.

It seems to me those feelings are both completely normal and are the beginning and ending points of a process of acclimatization.

At first, when you try any new skill, whether it's something you do at work, or a relationship skill, you feel like you're faking it. I used to feel quite scatter-brained, and so I would keep multiple calendars and put sticky notes all over my desk. People would assume I was organized, but I felt like a deeply disorganized person who was just "faking" being organized. But if you turn those behaviors that help keep you organized into regular habits, you're not just faking organized anymore; you ARE organized. I've always thought that "Fake it til you make it" was great advice for many situations, but especially in the area of faking confidence until you actually feel confident, whether it's a work interview or a first date.

The flip side of that is feeling that you're in a routine, that you're doing things out of habit, and you're not really putting much thought or effort into them. That's actually a good thing in some parts of your life. I surely don't feel the need to be wholly present and give brushing my teeth my full attention. If I was a good Buddhist, I probably *would* spend some time giving tooth-brushing my full attention, just as practice in being mindful, but I'm not quite that enlightened yet.

I think the problem comes when you feel that *too much* of your life is routine, or that things that should have more meaning and more feeling attached to them have become mere habit. Kissing your spouse before work or as you're arriving home from work is a nice ritual. But if it's done out of obligation and without feeling, I can see how that would feel deadening and disappointing.

After all my pondering, I think it's important to:

1. Relax when you feel you're play-acting or faking it, and trust that the new way of being or doing things will become more comfortable over time.

2. Figure out what things it's OK to let become habitual and routine and not worry about those.

3. Find the important areas of your life where you've gotten into a rut and figure out how you can do those things more mindfully, whether it's giving your spouse a really *soulful* kiss upon arriving home or whether it's doing a routine job at work with more attention and thinking of ways you could improve your efficiency at that process or another process or task at work.

4. Plan to try out one new thing every week (or month or every quarter, since everyone has different needs and tolerances for The New vs. the Old and Familiar) to keep yourself feeling challenged and alive. These new things can range from something small like listening to a different radio station on your commute (or turning off the radio and driving in silence) to planning a long hike somewhere you've never visited before to committing to taking concrete steps toward finding a new, more challenging job.
sarahmichigan: (pensive)
I think parents and women in general are more prone to this, but everybody does it to an extent: you spend so much time trying to make other people happy that you neglect to figure out what makes YOU feel loved, secure, and happy. This is a modified version of something I posted on an LJ community about relationships.

It sounds like you're bending over backward to make her happy, but you haven't said a lot about what you want and need and what makes you happy.

You can work toward compromises with her that make her happy and ALSO spend some time asking for things that will make you happy. What kind of special thing can she do for you to let you know YOUR needs and preferences matter? How about you getting to spend a little money on a gadget or getting to take a class in something that interests you?

I know that [this relationship] issue is front and center in your mind, but I think you might be able to handle this situation with more equanimity if you were really happy with your life overall. What are your dreams and aspirations? What are some new things you'd like to learn? Are there passions you'd like to pursue, like political or environmental causes or charity work in general? Would you like to get a makeover for your hair and clothes? Would you like to join a sports league with one of your kids?

I guess what it comes down to is that I'm suggesting that you put yourself first at least some of the time and think about taking care of yourself in a loving way.

In my life, personally, that means things like
-insisting I have an hour or two here and there in the week to do creative writing
-making sure I throw away holey socks and buy myself new, good, warm ones
-taking them time to put lotion on my poor, dry skin instead of neglecting myself because I "don't have time"

I'm sure there are things you could do to send yourself the message that your needs and wants and preferences are important, too. What are some little ways that you do, or could, send the message to yourself that you matter and deserve TLC?
sarahmichigan: (Default)
For a long time, I've realized that unsolicited advice is unpopular, rarely heeded, and is likely to make the person being advised angry. I've also long held the belief that even when people ask you for advice, they almost always only want you to tell them to go ahead and do whatever they've already made up their mind to do.

More recently, I've come up with a corollary belief: people can't extrapolate from other people's experience to their own.

You see this in LJ communities like sextips and birthcontrol, and you see it in advice columns.

Good critical thinkers can make generalizations and apply them to new situations. For instance: Ah, I see that putting my hand in the bonfire hurts. I see flames on the kitchen's gas stove; I bet that putting my hand in that source of fire also hurts! In fact, I bet even an electric stove, since it is a source of heat, could burn my hand and hurt me.

But so many people are obviously NOT good critical thinkers when it comes to extrapolating from one situation to another. For instance, versions of the same goddamn question get asked over and over on sextips because people think they're a "special case." For instance: I know you gave the person two posts ago advice about having an orgasm through PIV sex. But my situation is different because my boyfriend is 5'7" and blond and 28, not a 17-year-old brunette. (OK, yes I'm being snarky, but you get the idea).

Or, on birthcontrol, there will be a series of questions about whether you're "really protected even on the placebo pills." They think their situation is different because they're on a different brand of pill. Or they can't extrapolate to the fact that the same thing applies when you're using the patch and you're on your no-patch week, which is essentially the same thing as the placebo pill week for pill users.

I think the place people have the hardest time making generalizations and extrapolating is in relationship issues. Yes, generalizations can be problematic because we're all individuals, but people still fall into the trap of thinking they're "special cases." In an advice column, you'll see a letter that says something like, "I'm a big fan of your advice, and I know you've had several letters about cheating. You've said that if he cheated on his wife with you, it's likely he's going to continue cheating even if he leaves her and marries you. But my situation is special. He's only cheating because blah, blah, blah."

No. You're not special. You just don't want to accept the advice everyone in the same goddamn situation gets, and so you're looking for all the exceptions and minor differences.

Really, if we could learn from other people's experiences, it'd be great and would save us a lot of heartache. But it rarely works that way, does it?
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I knew about the five love languages, but didn't realize there was a quiz!

http://www.greaterquest.com/LoveLanguages.asp

Sarah Michigan's Profile Results

Score Love Language
8 Words of Affirmation
7 Quality Time
2 Receiving of Gifts
5 Acts of Service
8 Physical Touch

(thanks for the link, stacycat)
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] dionysus1999 about default social strategies. If they're at all nervous in social situations, most people have a default strategy or personality they don. For some, it might be "The Jester," where you feel you have to entertain people. For someone else, it might be "The Lecturer," where you feel most comfortable teaching people something. You might be "The Cruise Director" or "The Devil's Advocate."

I think my defaults are "The Flirt," "The Hostess," and occasionally "The Hermit."

How about you?
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been thinking about private jokes, secret code words, and the like that develop in circles of friends, small communities and the like. I was feeling cranky and ranty about it, but upon reflection, I think it's a natural phenomenon to create them. I think it's also a natural phenomenon to feel hurt and left out when you don't get the joke.

A lot of private in-jokes came out of aiela's housewarming party, some of which I get, and some I don't. Private jokes and references are a sort of social shortcut, and not meant maliciously most of the time. It's a way of saying, "Remember how fun that party was? Remember how hard I made so-and-so laugh?"

On another site I post to, there's another private joke going around. Someone created a fake persona, a net moron so clueless he stretches the bounds of credulity. I finally posted something about it, and was let in on the secret. As people figured out it was a joke, they were let in, and were given privileges to post as the net moron. Some users are making jokey posts, but obviously some of them are trying to get those "not in the know" to respond to the new poster as a real person. I just think that's stupid, verging on kind of mean, so I'm refusing to participate.

I can't get too high and mighty about it, though, because I think it stems from a benign and natural impulse. [livejournal.com profile] dionysus1999 and I have a sort of "code" for when we're in social situations and need to communicate (i.e. "I'm bored stiff-- let's get out of here!). And when I was in high school, my best friend J.C. and I had a coded notebook we passed around. A couple friend were hurt and insulted that they were left out, and so a couple were let in on the cypher, but it was still a very small group, maybe 4 or 5 of us.

J.C. and I also had a VERY extensive private language that we could use in social situations, more elaborate than the nose-scratching and eye-brow raising that J. and I use at parties with each other. J.C. and I had a few code words, but much of our conversation could happen in a circle of 10 people with he and I exchanging looks, shrugs, and single words in a particular tone of voice, and we could have an entire conversation that no one else in the room could follow. That used to piss off and offend people 'not in the know' on occasion as well.

So, I'm not here to point the finger at anyone who engages in private jokes to say that what you're doing is rude or exlusionary or anything. J. and I have enough jokes that are couple-specific that I could fill a book. I'm just thinking about it as a social phenomenon and trying to figure out what I do think about it.

Bad poetry

Mar. 7th, 2004 05:09 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)
This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I don't think it's all that great as poetry, but I stand by the sentiment.

The Value of Communication has been Overstated )

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