Two Paths

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I recently saw on Facebook that a young woman I know who is in her early 30s had just gotten out of a treatment facility after a suicide attempt. She admitted she had made multiple attempts in the past year.

I was surprised by this because from an outside view she seemed to come from a good family, have a fun job as a hostess at a local gathering spot, and was attractive and well liked. She comes across as confident, self-assured, and pulled together.

From her profile I could see she had recently been dating someone for about six months, and had several other such semi-long term relationships as well. Most seemed to be musicians. None seemed particularly promising.

Then I noticed a cryptic and nostalgic posting from her to a male friend about a trip they took together years ago. Curious, I clicked on his page and there it was, a photo album he had made of their trip.

Unlike the musicians, I could tell this young man had been serious about this gal. The captions on the photos made it clear he was smitten. I would not doubt he had thought she was, “the one.”

They both would have been in their early 20s then. They looked so happy, so carefree. He seemed like a really solid and loving guy. They looked charmed, innocent. I wonder what happened, why they hadn’t married, if perhaps she had bought the advice to, “not settle down too young.”

Whatever happened it seems she’s never found another who felt for her the way this guy had. I wonder if regrets about this played a role in her current situation?

I know the guys around here will likely have little sympathy for her. Many have been in that young man’s shoes themselves.

Anyway I thought the situation captured some of the modern relationship pitfalls we so often discuss.

I wonder how her life would have been different had she married back then rather than taken a single independent women, serial monogamy path?

It is of course impossible to know. What lies ahead for her is also unclear. I am hoping for the best as always.  For our purposes here it’s not so much about her particular case as what can be learned from it in general.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

 

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Lady Killer

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This week I have been in battle. I have killed hundreds, possibly thousands — of wasps.

For some reason they are especially bad this year. Nobody around can remember them building their papery nests in seemingly every crack and crevice like this. Stores are literally running out of wasp spray, people are buying it by the case.

Some ground dwelling type is altogether new. And especially aggressive. Several hover at the entrance, double dog daring anyone who comes near. If they feel it is too close they suddenly charge.

Maybe it was when I was mowing the lawn near a nest and one such scout wasp not only followed me across the yard but then flew up into my hair and lodged there, buzzing menacingly as I tried to shake it off that my switch flipped from “live and let live” to “sorry but this town ain’t big enough for the two of us.” Or maybe it was when it then flew up my shirt and stung me — twice — that I finally decided the wasps had to go. (Unlike bees, wasps can sting again and again, little f’ers!)

And they don’t just sting people! I have a sprinkler head that is leaking that they loved to hang out at like a little wasp oasis. So I turned off the water line until it can get fixed. Later that day I noticed two wasps on the now dry sprinkler head, attempting to sting it like mad, pissed as hell that it wasn’t dripping H2O any longer. Vicious!

I told myself it wasn’t just for my sake it had to be done. The wasps could sting the kids, or their friends, or others visiting. No, I could not look away and hope for the best any longer.

I asked around and got as many answers for how to take out their underground bunker as I asked people. Bury them. Drown them. Spray them. Light them on fire. The list went on and on.

Since I had a can of spray, I decided to try that first. After dusk when all the wasps were tucking away in their beds, I fumigated the tunnel. A heavy rock covering the opening ought to do, I thought.

The next morning not only had they dug out around the edges of the rock, they had made new exits to boot.

It was in the comments of a video of two guys lighting up an underground wasp nest that I got the next idea. As these guys found, while lighting the entrance up like a Fourth of July pyro’s dream might be satisfying, the commenter said doing so would suck the vapors up and out of the cavern, preventing a clean kill. Far better to pour 3-4 ounces in and simply put a rock on the opening till morning, they claimed.

Simple. Deadly. Relatively cheap. And I had it on hand. Perfect.

That night I doused two ground nests, once again putting a big rock on top of the exit. I would not know if I had won the battle until first light.

Low and behold the next day the hole in the ground that had actively  been a buzz with wasps coming and going the day before now showed no signs of life at all.

You’d think I would celebrate but instead I felt guilty. Didn’t they deserve to live as much as myself? Was it fair? Was I being waspist?

I doubt many men would fret one iota over doing what needed done. They might even use it as a bragging right.

I realized what another commenter had said about men and women’s moral reasoning being different based on ancient programming was true.

Most women don’t do well with killing stuff that needs killed. Men? They don’t seem to share that same inner conflict.

Perhaps there are specialized roles for a reason?

In any case I have since offed two more ground hives. I still don’t like doing it. But it’s got to be done.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

 

Busy

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This is a busy time of year for me and will be for the next few months. As they say, one must make hay while the sun shines.

That said, at this time of year I can also really question the messages I received in early childhood and beyond. That it was all about having a career, being successful, being, “just like a man.”

Perhaps all that is possible minus children, and indeed before I had kids I focused mainly on building my career. But now I find myself in the situation that my busy season coincides with my kids summer break.

I sometimes try to picture what life as, “just a mom” would be like. Sadly it’s so foreign to me, and has never been my world, that I can’t really even picture it.  What would I do with all that time? Who would I “be” without my career? I really have no idea.

One of the big reasons I was encouraged to have a career was because it was supposed to provide a woman with freedom. Freedom from dependence, freedom from being left in the lurch, the freedom of being able to support oneself.

What they don’t tell you is it becomes a trap, too. Once you have a career, especially a successful one, people naturally expect you to continue. Having a career often involves significant investment (education, time, energy, etc.) walking away from that career means losing all that investment. And having a career does provide income, income you and others then often don’t feel you can give up once you have it.

Something else they don’t tell you is everything has a price. There’s no magical path of all upside.

My career has created revenue, yes, but has come at significant cost, as well. To both myself and others. It’s simply impossible to have it all. So I have a great career, but it takes away from other spheres (important, critical ones) no matter how hard I try to “balance” it all.

So is it really freedom? Is it really better?

These are the questions I ask myself as I pay others to take my kids swimming or to enjoy some summer fun while I work.

I guess i did it. I really am just like a man, at least in one way.  Men rarely get to take summer off, spend the days playing with their kids either.

Yay feminism.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

The IKEA Illusion

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Yesterday, my oldest daughter and I picked up a bookcase she has long admired from IKEA for a birthday gift.

She’s been showing a lot of interest in decorating and rearranging her room over the past few years, something I have encouraged as I see it as practice for feathering and keeping her future home as an adult.

She’s shown herself to be quite creative and frugal — repurposing, restyling, and reusing items or moving them around and mixing things up to create fresh new spaces.

Shes also adopted a “less is more” approach, and has already learned that her room looks better and is easier to keep tidy if there’s less “extra stuff” in it.

She loves to study images of home decor, getting ideas and inspiration for seasonal touches or ways to make her room more cozy, comfortable, and inviting. All in all I think these are all good things to be learning and exploring not to mention practice for the future.  She could certainly be interested in less wholesome teenage pursuits and I am so thankful that she’s not.

But back to the bookcase. It was an adventure for us to go to the store, admire the various showroom displays filled with creative and appealing ideas, find the bookcase, load it onto the cart together, then into and out of the car, pack the big box into the house, and assemble it.

I am not the most handy person but I was the handiest of the two so my daughter looked to me to lead the way. We read through the instructions and got down to it. I gathered the tools and we went to work, step-by-step. Luckily there were no major snafus and after an hour or so of good mother-daughter bonding the bookcase was built.

As we were nearly done it occurred to me that we had just experienced the IKEA illusion — that with few skills or tools two rather not-handy people could successfully build something themselves!

I seized the teachable moment and we had a really interesting discussion about this illusion and how often in modern life we forget that for most of the history of humankind things did not come pre-cut, pre-drilled, pre-painted in a box with instructions.

We assembled the bookcase, but we did not make it. Without those who designed, engineered, planned, sourced the materials, cut, painted, drilled, packaged, and sold the bookcase, we would not have had that moment. Because of them, we could.

It was an interesting thing to reflect on and I could tell she understood. We may have successfully put it together but that’s does not mean we “built” that bookcase or that we now have all the knowledge and skill to build bookcases independently on our own in the future. It’s only an illusion that we, “did it ourselves.”

In any case, it looks great and she’s happily reorganizing, decorating, and dreaming of ways to make her little nest more cozy. It was a fun experience and an unexpected red pill moment!

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

Patriarchy

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When you hear the word patriarchy, what images and thoughts come up?

For many raised in a post-feminist world, images or thoughts of oppression, violence, anger, intolerance, abuse, toxic masculinity, and victimization may come to mind.

Yesterday I saw an example of patriarchy that defied all those images and labels. An example that perhaps more truly reflects the true concept of patriarchy.

I noticed the children first, at a small local family fun park where the girls and I had gone to spend a beautiful summer afternoon.

The kids ranged in age from about 17 down. There were lots of them, and they beamed with happiness and joy, good naturedly joking with each other, playing tag, and clearly enjoying themselves. There was a distinct innocence to them, a carefreeness and sense of absolute security.

They were all tastefully dressed, not overtly any distinct religious faith but also not in the latest fashions. Timeless but not at all out of fashion either. The girls wore girl cut T-shirt’s and skirts with Capri leggings underneath, and their faces were glowing and fresh but make-up free.  The boys wore T-shirt’s and shorts.

I could tell they were likely related because of their similar appearance and obvious close ties, I figured perhaps they were cousins.

A man not much older than myself followed the youngest girl, a cute and spunky little blond. She scrambled up to the top of a tall slide and fearlessly barreled down, calling to and waving to the man the whole way.

He laughed and beamed with pride. “Hard to believe she only weighed three pounds when she was born,” he said to me out of the blue. “She was 9 weeks early.”

“I was just thinking what a daredevil she is,” I replied. He beamed even more.

”She’s the youngest of 12,” he said, gesturing to the other kids who bounded around happily, playifully. “She’s three.”

“That’s fantastic!” I replied. “How old is the oldest?”

”Twenty-six,” he replied. “Ages 26 to 3!”

”Any grandkids yet?” I asked?

”The first is on the way this January,” he said.

”Congratulations!” I replied. He smiled a  lovingly proud smile.

The little girl then dashed off to the next activity and he followed at a close but not hovering distance.

Later in the evening I saw him and his wife. He tenderly held her arm as they steered through the crowd of people gathered on the grassy hill to enjoy a performance., heading back to their brood. They looked very content and happy.

I reflected on this couple and their children and thought how this patriarchy wasn’t as so often described — looked nothing like that, actually. It was remarkably refreshing, this family’s dynamic, I found myself wishing more families (of any and all sizes) today looked like that. Happy. Joyful. Secure.

Perhaps the patriarchy isn’t as it’s been portrayed? Perhaps there’s a much more positive side that is rarely celebrated or acknowledged today?

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

 

Problems and Solutions

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Many people are good at pointing out problems, or “what’s wrong” with this or that. And indeed it is step one.

But have you noticed how few people seem to be able to focus on the solutions rather than simply fixate on the problem?

I see this all over the place, not just in relationships. It seems we are a culture very good at identifying problems — calling them out loud and clear. We are not so good at finding solutions it seems… in fact many seem to NOT want to find solutions, but rather just harp and harp on the same old “problems.”

But trust me, solutions are where the good stuff is. The problems are only an opportunity to grow and thrive, reach another level — and you get there by coming up with solutions to whatever the problem is one faces.

Sometimes others will appreciate the solutions, join in, other times they will not. So long as you find a solution for YOURSELF to whatever it is, that’s what matters. Others will have to find solutions for themselves. Or maybe they will just choose to focus on the problems. Some may not want to solve the problems. In any case, don’t get sucked in!

So next time you find yourself with a problem, rather than getting stuck there push on to brainstorming possible solutions.  Soon whatever you face won’t matter as much because you will prove to yourself time and again that whatever the problem, what really matters isn’t that, but coming up with a workable (for you) solution!

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

More on Actions and Outcomes

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To keep riffing on the idea that actions create outcomes, let’s look at some examples. What would the outcome be for the following (best guess, just based on the average outcome.)

Case Study 1: Person shows up to work on time (or a bit early!), is rarely absent, works diligently, looks and acts professionally, adds value whenever possible, is minimal drama, and gets ‘er done on a daily and regular basis. Outcome?

Case Study 2: Person is often late, sick the minute a leave day accrues, often gets off task, looks and acts unprofessionally, does the minimum, often involved in or creating drama, doesn’t complete tasks on a regular or daily basis. Outcome?

Case Study 1: On a regular or daily basis person does the following: walks for 15 minutes a day, takes the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible, parks in the farthest spot in the lot, does resistance training either at home with body weight resistance and bands or at the gym with weights, has an active hobby (boating, hiking, swimming, biking, etc.), and mostly eats a sensible, balanced, high nutrition, low processed and junk food diet. Outcome?

Cast Study 2: Person wishes they could lose weight and get fit, but never or rarely or sporadically at best does any of the above.  Outcome?

Case Study 1: Person wants financial stability so they put away 10 percent of every paycheck, avoid debt or pay extra on any prior debt until it is paid off, pays bills early or on time to avoid fees, shops at garage sales, consignment shops, resale shops, or thrift stores for most household and clothing items, comparison shops and buys new items on sale vs. retail, prioritizes needs vs. wants, has $1500 in a rainy day fund for emergencies and repays the fund when used, puts money regularly into some sort of retirement fund, takes on extra work or generates extra income on the side when possible, lives below their means on a regular or daily basis. Outcome?

Case Study 2: Person wants financial stability but tells themselves they can’t afford to save anything, buys mostly on credit, pays minimum on cards and debts, often pays late including additional fees, always buys household and clothing items brand new at full retail price, has no cash reserves for emergencies so charges such expenses, puts nothing away for retirement, doesn’t look for extra work or ways to generate income on the side when possible, lives paycheck to paycheck or even above their means via credit. Outcome?

As these examples hopefully illustrate, it’s not rocket science. The secret to getting the outcome you desire is taking regular or daily actions that have high odds of leading to the desired outcome. Not doing so greatly decreases it.

I am sure you can think of such case studies of your own (and if so, feel free to add them or other thoughts on actions and outcomes in the comments!)

Actions Create Outcomes

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Actions create outcomes — it’s a simple concept but one that often escapes people (myself included) when the way life is and the way we want life to be do not match up.

Consider the common problem of clutter. Actions can either lead to less clutter (steps are taken on a regular and ongoing basis to reduce clutter) or more (a one time effort is made or no steps are taken, the same actions that led to clutter keep occurring, clutter persists or worsens.)

Another example might be a personal goal, such as losing weight. Actions can either lead to weight loss (increase physical activity combined with a balanced, low calorie, high nutrition eating plan on a regular and ongoing basis) or not (any change is shortly abandoned or no increased physical activity, no change in eating habits.)

Perhaps the goal is financial stability. Actions can lead to financial stability (live below ones means, put extra toward debt reduction and savings on a regular and ongoing basis) or not (continue to live above one’s means or paycheck to paycheck.)

This concept also applies to relationships. Actions can lead to better and more satisfying relationships (taking steps on a regular and ongoing basis to nurture the relationship, increase positive experiences, and reduce negative ones) or not (give little or no thought or action toward improving relationships.)

As you may see, this simple but powerful concept can apply to all sorts of situations. And in every case the solution to whatever the problem is to TAKE ACTION. And often to take that action on a REGULAR and ONGOING basis.

Think of them as habits. At first doing things differently can seem forced and uncomfortable. But after about 21 days, experts say new actions become habits. Once this happens, those behaviors become part of the operational plan — working for (or against) you on autopilot.

So if there is something in your life that you wish were different the good news is in almost every case there is something you can do to change that — take action in the direction you would rather things be and then keep doing so until and after you reach the goal. The path from where you are to where you want to be is just that easy — and also just that hard if you want the outcome but aren’t taking the actions required to produce it.

It’s been said that often the biggest obstacle we face is our-self.  In most cases the only thing holding us back from what we want out of life is our own choices, habits, and behavior. The good news is — we can always choose to change! (And if it’s something you can’t change, you can still take action — accept it and focus on what you can change!)

Take action. Better days ahead await! (And now I am going to take action to water, pull weeds, and tend to my veggie garden, spending 15-20 minutes a day doing so, so I can later enjoy my goal to have an abundance of fresh grown flowers and produce this fall instead of it just turning into a weedy tangled mess!)

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

Keep Good Counsel

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Looking back, I can now see some “friends” who surrounded me during times of struggle earlier in life did not give good counsel. I wish now I had forgone their company for that of others who were on a more constructive path.

Now don’t get me wrong, they weren’t obvious degenerates as in they weren’t on drugs, into crime, or violating huge moral codes.

And yet their world views were very much shaped by the world, views I can now see lead people down disastrous paths.

The whole progressive movement of the past few decades has very much an on the surface sounds good quality. Increased rights, tolerance, equality, empowerment, personal freedom. What could go wrong?

Well, such thinking has (perhaps inadvertently, perhaps purposely) led to many of the social problems our society struggles with today. Not just between women and men in building healthy relationships, but in many other areas as well. Such as debt being now widely accepted as a “necessary evil” of modern life, to bring up just one example people may not think of connected to this.

A sliding moral compass eventually leads to an “anything goes” and “live and let live” mindset. But ironically rather than leading to increased harmony I can’t think of a time in my life I have seen people more divided, nor such hostility toward those who don’t embrace an “all paths are equally good” mindset.

I am not blaming others, nor am trying to encourage lack of personal responsibility for ones own choices. But looking back I wish I had associated less with certain people who held “of the world” views that in retrospect influenced my own choices and decisions. And many of these friends attended church, professed faith, mind you.

Most of these people I no longer associate closely with although we are still on friendly terms or I hear from them from time to time. But I no longer seek them out as I once did. And my life is honestly better for it, without the drama and angst some of them are constantly in.

Its not really new advice but I think it’s tried and true — surround yourself with people who are living good, successful, admirable lives — people who you aspire to be more like yourself.

Likewise, beware the company of people who are negative, toxic, always complaining or dissatisfied, making destructive choices themselves, etc.  Not to say one shouldn’t love and care for such people but too much of their company can infect your own thinking with the same, I have found.

If I could give my younger self some good life advice it would be this — beware the company and counsel you keep — it shapes your own views and choices more than you may know.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Commit To Your Choice

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In comments on another blog, frequent commentor and fellow blogger Stephanie shared the story of a friend’s struggling marriage:

I had a friend for over 2 decades… literally, we were friends in pre-school and have pictures together from our Kinder graduation **tear**. But she married someone she was NOT attracted to – who she dated for FIVE YEARS in our 20’s and kept complaining to me about how unattractive he was and how she wanted him to improve himself.

No matter how many times I told her to leave him alone and move on – find someone she was attracted to who she could accept as the man he is, she didn’t listen. She married him right at 29 yrs old (really hit home that manosphere cliche for me personally to see that), and has a very rocky marriage now.

Maybe… is it possible that [she] married her husband even though he wasn’t good at being a man? To me, these women (and virgins can do it, too) they pick these kinds of men on purpose. It’s not an accident that they stay with them through sometimes YEARS of dating and then it’s not an accident that they walk down that aisle to marry someone THEY KNOW they are not attracted to that much.

It’s very much on purpose. And while I’m sure they believe the lies they tell themselves… it’s bound to end up in heartache.

**Bonus brain memory stuff** She even told me (much to my horror) that while they were just dating she was very tempted to cheat on him with various coworkers!!!!!!! So how is that going to play out in a marriage of decades? Seems much more likely she will eventually stray.”

I inquired:

“@ Stephanie did she ever say what was working for her in the relationship? How attractive is she? Did she date others or ?”

She replied:

“Mostly just security, and getting married before it was too late to have kids. Her plans were always to find someone in college and marry them.

She did date other guys, even in high school… a couple she really was attracted to, but chose not to be “serious” with them even though I would urge her that they were a great catch for marriage.

I don’t get it 😦 Except that he makes good money and is stable. But she is very very good at her job and makes a lot of money, too, so I guess she just wanted stability relationship-wise.”

I too have seen women marry to a man they are not so attracted to physically (but are attracted to for other reasons like stability, status, resources, etc.) who end up unhappily married. And likewise I have seen women marry men they are wildly physically attracted to (but who lacked the stability/comfort component) who end up unhappily married. So is the physical attraction, or making the “wrong” pick in a mate, really the factor?

I know some may disagree, but I would argue it is not the level of attraction or choosing the wrong mate that is the problem, it is the woman’s attitude. Rather than focusing on what her mate doesn’t have, she would be far better off focusing on the qualities and traits that she does appreciate. It’s similar to the glass half full or half empty argument.

Women who look for what’s “missing” will always be less happy (content) than women who look for “what’s there.” Because it is far too easy to idealize some imaginary path not taken, and far too easy to also criticize the path chosen.

But guess what? All we have is the path we are on. And if she choose to marry this man, choosing to honor that commitment despite his not being perfect in every possible way is actually the secret to a successful marriage. Being happy (content) isn’t something that, “just happens,” it means she literally chooses to be happy (content) with her choice, see the positives within it, and to honor the commitment she made.

It’s foolishly disastrous to continue after marriage to ponder “what if’s” and “if only’s” and such alternate realities as if they were some magically perfect path versus the path one is on. Because you know what? Those options would be just as imperfect in different ways. Because no marriage is without a balance of give and take.

To see how damaging such thinking is, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine if her husband was constantly questioning his choice in a wife? Wondering if he could have “done better?” Entertaining attractions to others at work and social circles. Confessing to others on a regular basis how his wife is “lacking” in this way or that. Not cool, right? And not very loving, either.

So in reality I would say this woman and others like her are not unhappy (discontent) because they have chosen poorly or wrong so much as they are choosing to be unhappy (discontent) with the choice they freely made. As in past tense. The time to question the choice was before the wedding, not forever after.

Of course doing so takes maturity, self-discipline, wisdom, and a long-view — qualities not as popular in today’s “instant gratification, I want it all and I want it now,” society. It would also require self-awareness of the role she is choosing to play in her own and her husband’s unhappiness (discontent), plus a sincere desire to change that. It’s possible, but only she can take these steps.

This woman may think the solution to her unhappiness (discontent) is changing her partner (either changing her partner’s appearance or literally changing partners) — but in reality the solution is changing her own dysfunctional, non-constructive, and marriage-killing mindset. Stop reconsidering the choice and get on with making what you chose work, would be my red pill advice.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.