Friday, March 28, 2014

We're Missing the Point About 'Conscious Uncoupling'

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are getting divorced. We heard all about it straight from her GOOP website with a statement from the couple that began with "It is with hearts full of sadness ..." and went on to say "We have been working hard for well over a year ... and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. ... We are parents first and foremost ... consciously uncouple and coparent ...."

The journal entry was called "Conscious Uncoupling." And I will admit that my first thought went to the opposite -- unconscious coupling, which makes me think of someone having blackout drunk sex. And then I felt sad for Gwyneth. Not about the opposite, but about the reality. Going through divorce when you have two kids. For once in my life, I am experiencing the same thing Gwyneth is experiencing. Divorce, no matter how it comes to be, is a painful and difficult experience filled with self-doubt, confusion, and conflicting emotions. Yet there are so many of us picking apart Gwyneth and Chris's choice to call their separation "conscious uncoupling." That is the focus. The phrasing. The neatness of it. The Gwyneth-ing of divorce. Goopified. Perhaps, tidy.

It's not tidy. It's a mess. It's more goopy than Goop. Because that's what divorce is.

Still, do we even know what conscious uncoupling is? How many people read the journal entry beyond Gwyneth and Chris' statement? When I finally did, I was enlightened. I related. I was moved to tears. And I learned quite a few things, not just about divorce, but about love, being in love, and having a solid, healthy relationship.

The fact is that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. And Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami -- the experts who added to the Goop post -- shared that this divorce rate isn't the problem. It's a symptom of a bigger issue -- how we are in relationships.

Maybe we aren't meant to be with some people for the ever and evermore. Some are and can and do amazing when coupled forever. Sometimes, though, it's time to move on. Time to get going ... what lies ahead I have no way of knowing. (Sorry, got caught up in a Tom Petty song.)

As the doctors say: "Everyone enters into a marriage with the good intention to go all the way, but this sort of longevity is the exception, rather than the rule. It’s important to remember too, that just because someone is still married doesn’t mean they’re happy or that the relationship is fulfilling. To that end, living happily ever after for the length of a 21st century lifetime should not be the yardstick by which we define a successful intimate relationship: This is an important consideration as we reform the concept of divorce."

When it's over. It's over.

But to make it in a marriage, we have to remember that 'honeymoon phase.' When it ends, "we stop projecting positive things onto our partners and begin to project our negative issue onto them instead." Now how crappy is that? We do it, though. Negative. Negative. Negative. I've learned so much about this negative nonsense that I work on it every single day. For me, I try never to meet anger with anger. We're all going to get angry sometimes. We are human. And sometimes we immediately want to get mad at the person mad at us. Not a good idea. How does that solve anything. Oh yeah? I'm mad at you because you're mad at me. Take that? No thanks. It's during those times we have to channel the calm -- ohm it out for a second -- and find out why the other person is mad. Calm that. Work on that. Understand that.

Arguments don't need to escalate if you don't want them to.

I love this quote: "We’ve put on our armor and we’re ready to do battle. What we don’t realize is that while a full body shield may offer a level of self-protection, it’s also a form of self-imprisonment that locks us inside a life that repeats the same mistakes over and over again."

I used to have a hard external shield. It's gone. Mostly. I'm a highly sensitive and emotional person. I'm okay with being vulnerable. I want to give love fully and I'm willing to risk it all. Because the reward is the best there is. "When we learn to find our emotional and spiritual support from inside ourselves, nothing that changes our environment or relationships can unsettle us." I'm not going to imprison myself with the bad things that have happened. I'm not going to dwell in negative energy and resentment.

We have today. This we know. Which is why today we need to love. To follow our heart. If you are in a situation that is unhealthy for you -- emotionally and/or physically -- that needs to change. If you are in a relationship that makes your heart explode with happy, breathe that in, experience it, consciously live it to the fullest.

"The idea of being married to one person for life is too much pressure for anyone. In fact, it would be interesting to see how much easier couples might commit to each other by thinking of their relationship in terms of daily renewal instead of a lifetime investment. This is probably the reason why so many people say their long-term relationships changed overnight, once they got married. The people didn’t change, but the expectation did."

Daily renewal. Look, I believe in the lifetime investment. I do. But I also believe in the daily renewal. This is how relationships last.

Check out the doctors' explanation of conscious uncoupling: "A conscious uncoupling is the ability to understand that every irritation and argument was a signal to look inside ourselves and identify a negative internal object that needed healing. Because present events always trigger pain from a past event, it’s never the current situation that needs the real fixing. It’s just the echo of an older emotional injury. If we can remain conscious of this during our uncoupling, we will understand it’s how we relate to ourselves internally as we go through an experience that’s the real issue, not what’s actually happening."

Divorce can lead to a healthy, if not healthier, relationship with an ex. It can teach you lessons to make you a better person -- we can all learn from it, even the married ones. We have to let go of past triggers, never meet anger with anger, stay conscious in our coupling as well.

That's the phrase I want to come away with -- conscious coupling. Loving fully. Without armor. Living today. Being in the moment. Cherishing life, and love.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Note About Dying That Other Kind of Death

I've thought about dying. Death. Being gone from this world. It gives me this icy feeling inside my being, my heart lowers, breath is drawn out. I've died many times in my lifetime. We all have. This is the other death I think about. Parts of us die -- we shed hair, nails, skin. Physical parts of our being leave us. Emotional parts leave us, too. Our hearts break; love dies. And it feels like a part of us dies along with it. It does. We die. Everyday some part of us dies. Some days the death is harder. Other days it's as simple as a manicure. A nail trim. But then we get a new polish. A new color. A new kind of life.

The French writer Chateaubriand once said something that resonates within me. To paraphrase, he said we have not one life, but many lives stacked end to end. That is the cause of his misery. One life can end, allowing another life to begin. We can face heartbreak and then meet someone who gives us their heart, healing that part of our core we thought was gone. We find passions and see sunsets or newborn babies and our hearts rise, and heal; we take in deep breaths of gratitude and contently exhale. New life. After a death. Our own death. That other kind of death. But that misery part Chateaubriand wrote of, that is up to us. Since death, in this sense, gives us a rebirth, it doesn't have to cause misery. Or rather, it's because of that misery that we see how amazing life can be. You cannot have the highs and experience the pleasures without knowing about the lows and feeling the sadness. This other death can lead to a joy you never knew possible.

I've died that other kind of death. And now I'm alive, awakened, my heart fuller than it ever was before. I have had not one life, but many lives stacked end to end. I've made it the cause of my happiness. I'm wiser. I've learned. I'm experiencing life ... after death.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Brooklyn

Dear Brooklyn,
We’ve always been close. Forbell Street in East New York holds so many memories of my childhood. My parents lived there when I was born, my Aunt Tena lived on another part of Forbell, and my best friend Colleen lived upstairs. It was my home away from home even when I moved to Ozone Park, Queens. I remember block parties and being scared to ride on the top row of King Kong. I remember the shootout hostage situation, too. No one was killed; don’t worry.

My family left you and the city when I was 13. We were robbed. Home invasion. We were home. My dad was at work though. That’s another story for another time. We moved upstate where the cows roamed. It was weird at first. I hated it. Then I loved it and vowed I’d never move back to you again, dear Brooklyn.

I broke that vow and moved back in 1998. Or was it 99. How old am I? Nevermind. I moved back to you Brooklyn but this time it was a short stint in Park Slope, then to Greenpoint. Eagle Street. Back when hookers used to walk on West. Way before the condos or cool restaurants and bars opened up. I lived in so many different Brooklyn apartments after that – different places in Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Gowanus.

I got married, had twin babies, and Brooklyn was our home.

Last year we left you, dear Brooklyn. It seemed like the best idea at the time. Like better than making pancakes for breakfast kind of great idea … with Nutella on top. I went back to the cows and moved up to the country with the frogs and the bugs and more than one bathroom and a garden and a porch and hammock swing and the space and closets and a washing machine and dryer and all the things I thought was a dream come true. I left you, dear Brooklyn, for New Paltz. And all those years ago, I had left New Paltz for you.

My dearest Brooklyn, I need you again. I’m coming back to you. I’m changed even though it’s only been a year. You see, I’m getting divorced. Yes, me. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. I just need your busy streets more than ever. I need your crowded parks with kids playing even in a little rain or a little cold. I need your walkable things to do. I need your Chinese take-out and Buddy’s Burritos and your delis with Dancing Deer Blondies. I need my friends and family in my favorite borough. Brooklyn, I need your love. I need your friendship. I need to find an inexpensive but good apartment for me and the kids. (Help!) We are figuring this out – what to do, where to live, new routines. It’s hard sometimes. It’s … complicated. It’s life. My life. Changes. I’m figuring it all out as I go. It’s strange, a little, to work – function -- within all of my changes going on. But I am. And since I’ve been reaching out slowly and sharing those changes, I’m finding out how good you’ve been to me, dear Brooklyn, and how good the people of Brooklyn have been to me. You’ve made me feel it’s possible – you always have even when I moved to you all those years ago without a job and an unclear direction. I feel positive. I have to be. I have two amazing kids who remind me every day how I’m able to accomplish the most incredible things. After all, I made them! In my belly! I do things that are totally right sometimes! And I know I can still do that. In Brooklyn. Again.

Love,
Michele

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Painting a vintage dresser is no big thing

When I saw this curved vintage dresser for $70, I knew I had to have it. It wasn't in the best shape and needed some wood glue and filler at the top but I took care of that with my newly found vintage dresser repairer skills. And then I painted it green. The most lovely green.





I didn't need to sand or use any varnish removal because it was already rough and most everything worn off. I washed it with some soap and water, and then painted. The color is Valspar's La Fonda Nightfall. I love it. I also loved it white and all distressed but the green ... oh that green.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Make Curtain Rods Out of Tree Branches!

Now that I live in the mountains, there are trees all around me. And branches. Which sometimes fall when the wind is strong. I guess that could be a hazard. Some we save for firewood, but I picked out a few to make curtain rods for my dining room and laundry room.

I took the branches and cleaned them off with a rag and scrub brush. Then I spray painted them black and used a water-based polyurethane to seal them.
To hang curtains on them, I used a really thin wire to thread through the curtain and secure onto the branch.

Then I had to use a curtain rod bracket upside down to fit the branch.
I like to hang the curtains higher than the top of the window to give it a longer appearance. More dramatic that way.

Voila!



The curtains are from Urban Outfitters as are the tie backs. 

Loving it!
I painted the chandelier, too. It was gold. I see a chandelier and I want to paint it black. No colors anymore I want them to turn black ...

And those thrones at the end of the table -- vintage. Scored for $20 for both!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Made a Shelf!

I've been feeling rather crafty lately -- in the process of painting and glossing my kitchen cabinets so they have that distressed, antique look. I saw a shelf for sale and thought ... I could make that! So I did.

I took this ...





... and made this ...

Painted the wood and then staple gunned a fabric on the back. Put some of my dia de los muertos items on the shelves and hung it with a thick twine through holes on the top of the wood. Hung on a hook instead of a nail.


It's over the bed. In a stud so it won't fall. We hope!

The only thing I would do differently is to use a thicker wood. It's not a perfect shelf if you look up close because those nails needed a super steady hand, which I don't have. But I'm still super happy with it.

Now back to those kitchen cabinets!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

UPDATE! Winners Announced. I Won! And I'm Doing a Giveaway to Thank YOU!

UPDATE: Congrats to Kelley and Emily for each winning a pair of Naya boots! Thank you all for your support and for entering! Now let's get to those random acts of kindness. xoxo

Friends, it happened! I won Naya's Buckle Up Bloggers contest! I'm so excited since I never win contests except for that time way back in 1994 when I won Soundgarden's Superunknown CD for calling in to a radio station. It's been a while. Of course, I won big when I had my beautiful twin babies (who are now 3 and I guess technically not babies anymore *cries*) but that's a whole different kind of winning.

So I won! And I have you to thank -- big time! Because I won this contest due to your votes! In a huge thank you thank you thank you, I want to giveaway two pairs of my winnings! Yep, I won shoes from Naya. Mama love me some shoes. And I'd like to giveaway two to two lucky readers right here.

This is what you need to do to win: Comment here telling me how lucky I am to be lucky ... oh wait I am totally kidding there. Just leave me a comment that you too will do some sort of random act of kindness for someone. Things like opening doors for others, giving compliments to strangers with a smile, or helping a kid pay for something at the checkout when they are short some cash. Let's all be kind to one another -- we all need more kindness in this world. So just tell me you will be kind in a comment, and leave your name, tell me what Naya shoes you want and what size, and make sure to comment from a source that I can get in touch with you if you are chosen as one of the winners.

Rules: You can only enter once. You must leave a comment promising a random act of kindness (or acts) and you should follow through with your promise. Of course I won't know for sure, but do you want that on your conscience? Didn't think so. Comment must have a way I can contact you if I don't know you already. I will choose two random winners. Contest ends Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm. Winners will be selected and notified just in time for Christmas.

If you win, you'll get one pair of Naya shoes! Ready, set, enter! Good luck and happy holidays!!

I'm wearing the Sabre in the photo above -- check out all of them here.
This is the Kindred (l) and Mindy (r).

These are the Jacintas.

Virtue (l), Gazelle (c), and Sabre (r)
Teak (l) and Tabby (r)