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What’s in Your Wallet? January 15, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Family, Job Search, Life, Unemployment.
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15 comments

They say you can tell a lot about a man by what he carries around in his wallet. I see the truth in that statement simply because with a wallet, a man has to be very selective in what goes in it, and stays in it. None of us enjoy a wallet in our back pocket. Since I lost a ton of weight, my ass no longer has that fat cushion. Sitting on a chair with a wallet in my pants is like a stone in my shoe – painful. These days my wallet goes in my jacket pocket or brief case. Whatever the reason, a man keeps his wallet lean just because it is generally, and literally a “pain in the ass.” The contents of his wallet must have purpose. There must be monetary value, functional value, historical value, or emotional value. Either that or he just forgot to take the crap out, and even that will say something about the man.

So here is my charge for the evening. I am sitting here with my wallet in my hand. What I am going to do is go through it and report what I find. Here we go…

…Opening wallet now…

Money

Let’s go for the obvious first. I have exactly $20 in cash in here – one 10, one 5, and 5 ones. That is a lot less than what I carried around with me before working on a career change. Semi-employment, which I know is much more than what many have these days, has made my wallet thinner but the reasoning goes much deeper. At one point in my life, I could not wait to buy the latest in technology, toys, gizmos, possessions. Buying made me happy – for a day or two. Then I returned to my miserable state until the next newfangled widget was purchased. Now my money is in my wallet for a different purpose. I don’t buy stuff anymore. I buy time. Whether it is drinking a beer together, a game of pool, seeing a movie, or a cup of coffee, time with friends is what makes me happy now. I make sure I always have enough just in case I have an opportunity to meet up with someone.

Cards

I seem to have an overabundance of business-like cards in here. I am going to take a closer look. Most of them are coffee discount cards, all from separate coffee houses I frequent. When you buy a cup of coffee, the barista stamps the card for you. When your card is full with stamps, you get a free cup. My favorite place is Stella’s, a small dark elongated café where students from both Ithaca College and Cornell hang to work on projects, collaborate on papers, engage in academic discussion or just gather for some down time. I am a product of this culture and it is here where I feel the most at home.

Plastic

Wow, I see to have a bunch of these stashed in various slots. 4 credit/debit cards (I have been spreading the dept around these days. That way it doesn’t seem so bad.) 2 clothing store credit cards (I need professional clothes to go on professional interviews so that I can continue to get rejection letters.) 3 grocery store cards (I don’t think they let you buy food anymore unless you have one of these!) finally, an AAA card. This is one thing I will never go without anymore. I have been in several situations where a tow was needed and the cost sunk me. So far, being a member has been a good ROI.

Membership Cards

I have three in my wallet. They are professional organizations in which my membership has lapsed. I can no longer afford to be a member. I am not sure why I keep carrying them in my wallet. It could be because I have hope that I might be an active member again at some point. More than likely it has more to  do with denial tactics.

License and Registration

Standard issue for a wallet, no surprises there. The only problem is that my license still has the picture of me from when I was fat. It doesn’t even look like me anymore.

ID Card

Even though I make very little money, I am very proud to be working where I am working. I love the work, I love the mission, and I love the people. I am proud to have my work ID card in my wallet. It even has a more recent picture of me on it!

????

What is this?  It is a 3×5 card folded in half. Old and ragged, there are several dog eared corners and frayed edges. Written in bold faded marker on one side is written, “SHUT UP – 1 hr.” I remember this! A long time ago, for one of my birthdays, my oldest daughter gave me a series of index cards as coupons. Similar to the coffee cards, the idea was to redeem them back to her in exchange for the service printed on them. Some were quite unique. She was and still is quite unique.  She is an in-your-face kind of kid – always passionate for whatever she does, always excited to learn something new, always driven to do her very best. When she was little it was no different. The coupon cards offered take-it-down-a-notch behaviors such as: “Let you talk first – 30 minutes,” “Eat with my utensils – one meal,” “Sit in my room alone – 2 hours.” The card from my wallet is one of those. Apparently she would “shut up” for one hour if I redeemed this card.  I wonder what she would do if I gave it to her now after all of these years? My bet is that it would make her talk more. The card would trigger her into a vivid discourse of her childhood; the days of tutus and Easy Bake ovens, the days of Little Mermaid and Polly Pockets. Talking about those times would be fine with me. Now that would be priceless.

Put that in your wallet.

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Keep swimming, you never know where the tide will bring you December 6, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Job Search, Life, Love, Relationship.
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15 comments

Proceed with cautionWhen a person gets caught in a riptide, the natural reaction is to try to swim directly against it to get back to shore. At first it seems like the easiest, most logical way to save himself. Fear is a powerful force and in the face of death, the mind reacts instinctively to find what it thinks is the easiest solution to get to safety. Unfortunately, swimming against the current it is the worst thing a person can do. Eventually the swimmer becomes exhausted and drowning is inevitable.

The ending of a marriage or long-term relationship, the death of a loved one, job loss, diagnosis of a disease, mid-life crisis – good or bad, change is scary and people tend to react instinctively. When people are thrust into change, whether it by external circumstances or self inflicted, there is fear, anxiety, depression, and aggression. A person instinctively makes quick reactions to deal with the struggle. They fight the tide and thrash about to the point of exhaustion. It can take the form of hiding in drugs or alcohol. It can be quick fix tactics such as shady business deals or gambling. It can be short-term ego boosters like a one-night stand or a quick marriage. The tactics are as endless as they are destructive. At this point they see no other way. They just keep trying to swim against the current.

All a person needs to do to survive a riptide is to let it carry him out until it no longer has a grip on him. At that point the maneuver is to swim parallel to the shore to gain distance from the original danger and find another avenue to return to safety.

To be able to let change carry you away from comfort and familiarity is numbing and difficult to do. It takes courage. Letting go of what we know to enter a world of uncertainty takes strength. However, this is the best way to see new opportunities. Only then can change be assessed and evaluated to plan for its management and eventual solution. When the waters clear, fresh viewpoints can be seen.

Once the swimmer is away from the danger, they can then turn in toward shore and begin their trek back to the beach. This may not be a direct course since other riptides can be encountered and a return to the open sea will be necessary before another attempt can be made. However, the swimmer now sees that this is the right course of action and it is only a matter of timing and placement before he is successful in his return.

With new viewpoints and pro-active ventures, change can now facilitate a gentle move back to normalcy. This can take the form of further education to learn a new skill, a move to a new community, a new relationship based on trust, friendship, and love, a fresh commitment to health and fitness, a new and challenging career. Other strategies may involve timing. Sometimes the best solution is to wait it out and find the right moment to begin the swim back. Moving too early may throw you right back out to sea. Moving too late can be a missed opportunity. There will still be false starts and abrupt stops. There will be missed opportunities and there will be distractions that lead down the wrong path. Regardless, the strategies and attempts are now proactive and each failure can be learned from. Failures are a way of testing the waters.

Once the swimmer discovers the right path back to shore, the successful swim is made. They find themselves standing safely on shore. However, by swimming parallel to the shore to find the best path back, they have landed on a completely different section of the beach. A much better place from where they started.

With persistence, strength, patience, and growth, a person in change will find solution. However, in most cases, they land in a completely different world from where they came from. Their experience has brought them to new surroundings and new possibilities. They have come to a land better suited to the person they have become for in the time of challenge and struggle comes growth and wisdom. Not only will they have substance to carry them through the next darkness but they will have the gift of deeper understanding to share with others who cross their paths on the way to their own new world.

I know and love so many people in change today. I know they are struggling and are dealing with pain.  I want them to always, always remember…

Keep swimming, you never know where the tide will bring you.

“In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – anonymous

What are you thinking? November 23, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Friendship, Life, Love, Relationship.
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5 comments

Marry me, NOW!In an effort to give you research-based viewpoints on complex life issues, I also want to never shy away from opposing views. Previously I posted and postured on a theory that explains why there seems to be a high success rate with interpersonal relationship building through computer mediated communication. This not only includes online dating sites but also mediums such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and e-mail. Today you will hear a different view from me and how maybe, virtual dating is causing an epidemic of failed relationships.

We want everything quickly these days – from fast foods to instant movies online. That is all fine and good, however when it comes to intimate relationship building, slow down! What is it with people these days? They are so quick to jump into the fire. It makes me wonder what the underlying force is that creates a nation of microwave marriages. Could it be that online dating implies urgency? God knows.

I have seen several cases of this hit close to home in the past few years. I have both a niece and a nephew that followed the just-add-water formula for finding mates. Both ended with charred results. The nephew came home with his finance after a weekend partying with buddies, the niece found her “match” through an online dating service and accepted his engagement ring inside of four months. They only saw each other face-to-face twice during this span of time. What the hell were they thinking? An even better question is, what the hell was their mother thinking?

First let’s look at the cold hard, sleeping-alone, facts. Depending on if you are looking at the Census Bureau’s statistic or the National Center for Health Statistics, marriages will fail between 42 to 50% of the time. Remarriages fare much worse. Psychology Today’s predictions state that remarriages will fail 60% of the time. After 10 years of marriage, the incidence of failure becomes far worse (if a second marriage will even last that long!) Research also shows that the possibility of a second divorce increases astronomically if the couple has been in a relationship for less than a year.

These are cruel statistics. So why are people ignoring this and jumping into the fire so quickly?

It comes right down to the fact that many people marry for the wrong reasons.

In first marriages, there are the traditional errors that we all are aware of, but still make: Marrying for money, family pressure, children (tick tock goes the biological clock,) even marriage for the wedding! I know women who actually have a ‘wedding scrapbook’ where they collect articles, swatches, pictures, contacts and phone numbers in order to plan their future, picture-perfect wedding BEFORE they even have a boyfriend!!

Erroneous second marriages have a different set of miscues. Loneliness is a deceptive motivator. Self-image needs to be fed after bleeding. It can be very difficult to think with a clear head. It is very easy to fall prey to irrational thought.

Because of this, there seems to be a sense of urgency to finding a relationship for people who have recently been thrown into unplanned singlehood. Whether it is for regaining self-esteem or showing the recent ex that “I can be a player too,” or even the fact that being alone in a bed is so foreign and the dog just ain’t doing it for them.

Slow down for God’s sake! You have to find out who YOU are before you can understand how you will relate to another.

In all this irrational chaos, there are people who seem to get it right.I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with a wonderful woman I met right here in WordPress. She is a divorced single mom who refers to her significant other truthfully and honestly as her ‘friend.’ They share the same attitudes about relationships and life. They stay together by choice and without formal commitment. Their whole relationship is based on friendship, appreciation and trust. In that respect, she will tell you that marriage is unnecessary. They stay together for all the right reasons not because a simple ceremony and piece of paper tells them to.

Friendship first. Isn’t that really what matters? If you are going to position yourself in an agreement of “death do us part,” you better have the foundations laid for that. That takes time. That takes a gradual unveiling of understanding, openness, acceptance, respect, and trust. Well, being a good kisser is important too 😉

The Internet is full of convenience. It has the power of rational connection with wonderful people but also for unnatural expediency with intimacy. Use the powers for good. Stop, look, and listen before hitting send on that next message. You don’t want people like me to post on their blog… What are you thinking?

You’ve Got Mail (And very possibly a whole lot more!) November 21, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Friendship, Love, Passion, Relationship.
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SIP that messageYesterday a colleague came into my office and waved her hand around in the classic move to have me admire her newly acquired engagement ring. After all the pleasantries were played out, I asked her, “So how did you two meet?”  Her story is not an unfamiliar one in these times –  “We met online.”  In fact, according to Online Dating Magazine (2007) there are over 120 thousand marriages that occur every year as a result of online dating.  That statistic does not even take into account free dating sites such as Yahoo Personals and other computer mediated communication (CMC) sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and old-school e-mail.

So what gives here? How does this all work?  You would think that meeting someone without the advantage of visual cues, voice inflection, and eye contact would certainly be a deterrent to developing an intimate relationship. And what about that assumption of being “physically attracted” to a person that gives us the incentive to strike up a conversation? You don’t get that with e-mail baby!

There are several communication theories such as Social Presence Theory and Media Richness Theory that explain CMC as the absolute worst medium for interpersonal relationships to begin and grow.  These theories are based on the concept that the less “cues” a person has available to them for communicating, the less effective the medium will be. So what gives? If these theories are correct, wouldn’t the online marriage statistics reflect that? That doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the online dating industry has seen financial growth of over $642 million (Jupiter Research) and continues to grow.  Zoosk, one of the newest online dating services (affiliated with Facebook) has more than 40 millions users as of October 23, 2009 (Internet Dating Industry Weekly News.)

What is going on here?

Well, think about it this way. Let’s say you have a fine French Bordeaux wine in your hand. How is the best way to enjoy it? Would you chug it or would you gradually take your time and sip it gently as you savor every smell and flavor. Cornell professor Joseph Walther states in his Social Information Processing Theory (appropriately acronymed as SIP) that communication can be savored in the same way – The slower the intake, the more flavorful the experience. People can gain the same information needed to develop relationships through any medium, it will just take longer with CMC. This may seem to be a disadvantage, but in fact, it is one of the parameters that make CMC so effective in relationship building. The players have more time in between encounters to ‘process’ information – savor it, so to speak. I think that we can agree that in all things ‘intimate’, slower is better!

Other characteristics are in play here as well. In related empirical research, Walther discovered that CMC-specific elements, which he labeled Chronemics were a positive factor in relationship development. For example, time stamps on an e-mail can signify affection simply by when it was sent. A late-night message is considered more amorous than a mid-afternoon note. Response time is also an indicator. Quickly returned responses early in the relationship can signify liking and excitement and the frequency of responses reflect attentive priority. Face it, we know that sipping can be tantalizing, but we love to gulp!  CMC holds us back and disciplines us to taste lightly.

Probably the most effective element for relationship building in CMC is the ability to send and receive messages at different times. The very fact that CMC can be used asynchronously can be a tremendous advantage. Think about it. There is a sense of urgency when communicating face to face or on the phone. Both parties need to be available to be “in the moment.” In today’s fast-paced world, it is a challenge to build a relationship when there are busy schedules, careers, and children involved. When an e-mail is sent, there is an assuredness that the other party will receive and read it at a convenient time. And remember that this also contributes to the ‘sip’ factor – savoring the moment. It can also come in handy if there is a mis-understanding or argument. The writer can take their his and carefully construct a message, hopefully after the emotion of the moment subsides.

The 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” is a classic rhetorical case study for Social Information Processing Theory. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks slowly build a relationship though their computers much in the same way that Walther describes SIP Theory. I can name close to 20 friends of mine who have a significant other that they originally met online. I can name another 20 who are active in online dating sites. Is there something to this madness? Think about this, Computer Mediated Communication works in just the same way as pen pals of the last century. How many of your parents and grand parents developed or maintained a relationship through the mail?

My grand parents did.  Read their correspondence to each other in 1937 on The Philadelphia Letters

Have you got mail?

Waiting is… November 17, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Life, Love, Relationship, Spirituality.
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Stranger in a Strange LandMy last post entitled, Running is… is a play on a phrase in Robert Heinlein’s cult novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. I didn’t put much thought into titling the last post but now I am sure that it is drawn from my deep understanding of Heinlein’s story.

Stranger in a Strange Land is categorized as a science fiction work however it goes much deeper than that. Masterfully crafted by author Robert A. Heinlein, it is a parody on social mores taken out of context for the purpose of allowing us to look at them through a different lens. In this light, Heinlein challenges our views on religion, money, power, monogamy, and death. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a lone survivor from an expedition to mars who is born from fated astronaut parents and raised by Martians. Upon returning to Earth, his perspective of society is from a completely different viewpoint. Eventually his reinterpretation and restructuring of norms and values influence humans to adapt new ways of social understanding.

Thou art God

For example, his understanding of “God” is that of completeness and connectedness with every living person, plant, and animal – Wholeness in love. “Thou art God” is his phrase to express this concept and the idea that God is within as well as throughout. “One who groks” describes a person who understands this concept.

Water Brother

The most poignant ideal for me in Heinlein’s novel is the concept of the “water brother.” It emphasizes the importance and priority of connection with one another. Based on the fact that water is a scarce commodity on Mars, Valentine ritualizes the importance of human connection by the sharing of a glass of water.  Taking something that would normally have no significance in our world, Heinlein masterfully uses the sharing of water as a metaphor for how we sometimes take our relationships with one another for granted. In placing huge value on something that is casually considered abundant and trivial, he shows us that sometimes we erroneously devalue our connections in the same way. However, much like water is essential for the body to live, so is connection to others vital for the soul to live. In the novel, to be someone’s water brother is to be within the innermost intimate circle of that person. The water brother concept is the target for many critics of Heinlein’s book because it questions the societal norms of monogamy, family structure and stratum.

We should all be so lucky to have even a few water brothers in our lives. Together, “Thou art God.”

And that brings me to, Waiting is…

“Waiting is…” is a common phrase used between the followers of Valentine. The open-endedness of the phrase emphasizes the uselessness of trying to predict and weigh the future. It is meaningless compared to the glory of the now.

More often than not we look for the “next” and lose the “now.”  Yes, many of us are finding our current situations difficult. However, it is times like these that make it so crucial to see the value of the moment. We must value today’s beautiful sunrise, the smell of a flower, a conversation with a friend, the taste of chocolate, the touch of a lover … the sharing of water.

Look around. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Thou art God.

Embrace now because, Waiting is…

Do you Grok?

_____________________________

Activity time:

Do me a favor.

Do yourself a favor.

Look away from the computer and experience RIGHT NOW.

……

……

What was the most pleasing part of your moment?

Share it with us by posting a comment here.

It is all in the timing November 6, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Life, Love, Relationship.
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I continuously analyze change in my writings. It is a curiosity of mine. At one time in my life I was terrified of change. Then I found that without it, I was headed for certain death of my soul. At that point I embraced it whole-heartedly and found it to be not only necessary, but also inevitable. However, there are workings within change that continue to confuse me. Timing being one. The timing of change is difficult to plan. Who knew, for example, that when I left my previous career to go back for another degree the economy would also change at the very time I was ready to reenter another career. Bad timing.

Let’s look at relationships within the same context. When you meet someone and fall in love, is that perfect timing?  Do you tell each other, “It was fate that we met. We were meant for each other.” Look at it another way. What if you meet someone but it just isn’t good timing. What if one of you is not in a position to have a relationship? For example, career ambitions or family responsibilities are priority at the moment. Bad timing I guess.

benjaminbuttonThe movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” explores a symbolic extreme of the effect of timing on relationship. In this scenario, Benjamin is living his life backwards – from death to birth. Daisy, the woman he falls deeply in love with, is living life in the normal direction. It is a macro-exploration of the significance of timing.  Not only do they have the common distractions that keep people apart such as careers, school, other relationships, travel, but they are also dealing with the opposite directions that their lives are taking – a direct metaphor. However, there is that moment – that one revealing moment – in the characters lives where they discover that they are close to the same age and that they are, as Daisy states, “meeting in the middle.” Benjamin reflects with, “We finally caught up with each other.”  It is the defining moment in the movie.

In order to survive and thrive, I wonder if relationships need to be more than just the connection of the soul we have with another. If the timing is off, that glorious feeling of love and passion can quickly become that of pain and longing. Benjamin and Daisy feel that agony throughout most of the story, except for that one delicious moment when they meet in the middle.

How many of us experience that rare moment of meeting in the middle with the one we are passionate about? How many of us miss it?

It is all in the timing I guess.

The meaning of life November 3, 2009

Posted by jassnight in fitness, Life, Love, Relationship.
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just one thingRemember the movie City Slicker’s? That one moment when Billy Crystal asks Jack Palance the question, “what is the meaning of life?”  Jack holds up a finger and responds with this, “Just one thing…” When I saw that movie many years ago, I wanted to know. “What was that one thing Jack?  Tell Me!”

At that time I remember working hard toward that standard American dream. You know – the one that says that we all need a big house, two cars, lots of special gadgets and the best in services and comforts. With that mentality, I couldn’t understand why I would return to my standard funk even after buying the latest iPod, or renovating a room in the house. I just didn’t get it. Wasn’t this stuff supposed to make me happy?  “Jack, tell me what that one thing is!”

I will spare you the gory details about how I learned what the one thing is but let me tell you, it is true that money can NOT and will NOT buy you happiness. It is not about money. It is not about possessions. It is not about comforts and services. It is about LIFE itself.

I am currently working in a new career that I love and with people who are passionate about what they do – for 1/3 of what I use to make!  I am living in a back room with just a bed and a desk and feel comfortable, warm and secure. I don’t own the latest iPod or phone. I don’t get cable TV. I don’t buy the latest fashions. What is wrong with me? Nothing!  I have found that one thing.

That one thing is LIFE. This is heaven. This is the gift – here and now.

We have these bodies to touch, feel, and experience this world. We have these minds to understand, comprehend and remember. We have these hearts to connect, unite and love one another. This is it – this is the one thing.

I have made it a priority to take care of my body so that I can experience this world. I have seeked out more education and continue to do so in order to understand and comprehend. I have made wonderful relationships with others through my heart so that I can connect, unite and love with them.

I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Here is the extra bonus – The best things in life are FREE!  (Well, except maybe that last master’s degree 😉

This is my vision statement:

I feel great, happy, successful, prosperous, rich. I have terrific energy, since I cooperate with nature. Fresh air for the lungs, sound sleep for the nerves, wholesome food for the stomach, daily exercise for the muscles, great thoughts for the head, and close connections with people I love for the heart.

Let’s face it, she is just not that into you October 30, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Love, Relationship.
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2 comments

Unpeel the layersOk, let’s talk about personal relationships for a minute. Have you seen this pattern? You meet someone and begin to get to know him or her. One of you reveals a little something about yourself and the other will reciprocate. Maybe you started first and said something like, “my mother died when I was very young. It has shaped a lot of what I think and feel today.” Because you opened up and exposed yourself a bit, your friend follows suite. He or she may respond with, “I was close to my grandparents. They died in a horrible car crash and that too has been life changing to me.”  From there, one or the other may reveal something even deeper about themselves and the other will reciprocate. This is a common exchange that we find in personal relationship development. This revealing of personal thoughts, feelings and values may continue as the relationship grows. Trust is also built between the two participants. If the relationship fits the sexual preference of the two, this relationship can become intimate. If not, it can become just a deep friendship.

This is a phenomenon that is explained by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor in their Social Penetration Theory. Altman and Taylor explain that this mutual self-disclosure process is similar to peeling layers off of an onion. As more layers (of the mutual personalities) are uncovered, the deeper the relationship becomes as each person becomes more transparent to the other.

The key to all of this mutual revelation is that the relationship must grow equally in trust and exposure. Anything else will cause an imbalance in the relationship. If one person either stops the process, or reverses the process (closes up and returns to a more platonic exchange) then the other will more than likely begin to cover his/her layers as well.  The relationship eventually ends.

The bottom line here, and my point, is that relationships take conscious effort. Mutual trust and understanding does not develop in a passive vacuum but thrives in active mutual exchange between willing participants. If you meet a person that you think you might want to explore a deeper relationship with, peel off a layer. If the other reciprocates, according to Altman and Taylor’s theory of Social Penetration, a closer bond will develop. If the other person does not reciprocate, Social Penetration Theory states that it is quite possible that there is not a mutual desire to go deeper.

Unfortunately, you may need to face that he or she may just not be that into you.

References:

Griffin, E. (2006). A first look at communication theory. NY: McGraw Hill.

The Love Triangle October 27, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Love, Relationship.
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The Love TriangleHow many of you are thinking about the love triangle in your relationship? No, I don’t mean a ménage a trois. Where is your mind? I mean Sternberg’s triangular theory of love. There is a big difference. But hey, whatever makes you happy 😉

Over the past five years or so, I have made an unofficial attempt to research the elusive feeling called love. I have talked to colleagues, struck up conversations in bars and coffee houses, and interviewed friends. Hell, I have even contacted ex-lovers. What have I discovered? Absolutely nothing except for the fact that everyone has a different interpretation and experience with love. There is no common thread. There is no magic formula.  In fact, most of my research found more pain and hurt than joy and happiness.

In order to find some grounding on this topic, I turned to Sternberg’s triangular theory of love. This is an excellent model to map out various kinds of relationships from empty love to consummate love.  Sternberg maps out the various relations on a triangle grid with each corner representing the three elements of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Each element alone cannot support a healthy relationship.  For example, passion can only support infatuation and even though many intimate relationships begin this way, they will more than likely wither quickly without intimacy or commitment.

The more elements that are present in a relationship, the more stable and deep the relationship is. For example, if a relationship lies on the side of the triangle representing passion+intimacy, this equates to romantic love and manifests in an intense physical and deeply emotional connection.  However, without the third element – commitment, it may lack the staying power to survive. If a couple has commitment+intimacy, this is companionate love. Sexual desire is lacking in such a relationship and is often seen in marriages where the passion has ended but the commitment and deep affection that remain are enough for the couple to remain together. Companionate love is also commonly seen in platonic friendships.

If lovers are lucky enough to have all three elements in their relationship; passion+intimacy+commitment, this adds up to consummate love (the center of the triangle.) This is the complete form of love that most couples strive for.

In all, the theory rationalizes seven different types of love. Sternberg cautions that even consummate love is not permanent. Couples can move from one type to the other and it takes work in any situation for love to last.

Recently, I had an in-depth discussion with a friend about what a person would settle for in a relationship. Can one of the sides of the triangle be enough for some? Would some be happy in just one of the corners? Maybe. If that is the case, then there is less to strive for in a relationship. But I would speculate that there would be less rewards as well. Maybe many of us are still single because we won’t settle on anything less than consummate love. We want it all and would rather be single than to have to settle for anything less.

What is your love triangle?

Want more information?

Sternberg, R. (1988). The triangle of love: Intimacy, passion, commitment. NY: Basic Books.

I wish I could have been there with you… You were October 26, 2009

Posted by jassnight in fitness, Love, running.
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Running is many things to me. It has been with me for seven years now and continues to be a major force in my life. What I gain physically is limitless. What I learn is enlightening. What I discover emotionally is enormous.

I knew the value of my relationship with running when I decided to go back to school for a second master’s degree. As a side note, actually deciding to go back to school was a direct result of my running experiences. When I entered my degree program I made a pact with myself: Running will remain priority and I will never give up a run because of my coursework.  Why would I do this?  Because I knew what running does for me. It gives me the confidence to take on such a huge commitment. It maintains an energy level that allows me to stay alert and productive for long hours at a time. Most of all, it levels me. Running calms me down when I am excited. Running brings me up when I am depressed. Running keeps my head clear when I am confused. During my runs back then, I found myself writing outlines, conceiving projects, organizing presentations, creating strategic plans. The benefits during that time were huge.

Lately, during my recent difficult times, running has been there for me as well. Running seems to be the only thing that I have control over in my life right now. I can always count on it to be there for the reasons stated above as well as allowing me to work out personal problems. The past few runs, yesterday and today, were no different. I have been pretty upset lately and again, running has been there to level me. It is getting me through this.  There is something to be said about a solitary run with nothing but the rhythm of your breathing and the pulse of your heart beating. It brings you deep into your core and allows you to touch your soul. It reminds you of who you are.  This morning’s run was that and more. An early morning run with the sun rising above stunning fall foliage, mist hovering over fields, a spectacular view down through the valley after cresting the hill. It was a moment of pure connection with Self moving through this heaven.

I am reminded of a specific scene in the movie, Forrest Gump. Not many movies make me cry but this specific scene does it to me every time. Every time! Jenny is on her deathbed and Forrest describes some of his most beautiful visions while he ran across the country. When he is done, she says, “I wish I could have been there with you.”  He responds, “You were.”

Grab your box of tissues and watch…