The Gates

Standing watch at the gatesthe night sky cold in its darkening.Too many this time of yearmy soul cries for lost light.In the distance a flame dancesrequiem for those lost.Pity for those foundcold steel rests in my hand.Time is fleeting the night wander…

Have you caught this virus?

The Institute for the Investigation of Irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their Inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, E-Mail viruses, taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes [perhaps conspiracy theories should be included here].

Want Closeness? ~ Avoid These 11 Intimacy Killers

As human beings, we all have an innate need to be close to someone. But sometimes the very thing we desire is the opposite of what we have. Some of us subconsciously sabotage the relationships we want because of our fear of intimacy. Sometimes we unknowingly and unwillingly drift apart because of our inability to engage in the delicate dance of intimacy. Others avoid intimacy altogether because the pain of past failures is too great.

Intimacy, physical and emotional closeness, is tough to navigate our way through. It takes skill, hard work and commitment. I wish I could tell you it is easy once you know how. True intimacy is tough to achieve, but who says the best gifts are easy to obtain? In all honesty, I am certainly no expert on how to maintain and nurture closeness, but I have learned 11 things that will definitely kill intimacy in a relationship.

Dishonesty and Silence. Intimacy requires honesty and openness. It only takes one lie to destroy the trust in a relationship. To be close to someone, we need to be able to share what is true and real about us. And we must be willing to hear someone else’s truth. Sometimes we think that it is best to not say anything at all if it means it may hurt our partner. So we silently hang on to our truth or share our truth with the wrong people. When we do this, there is no opportunity for the relationship to grow with integrity.

Lack of Trust. Sometimes there is no dishonesty in the relationship, but still a lack of trust exists. Perhaps healthy trust has never been a part of your life, or maybe a painful event in life has fractured your ability to trust. A person must heal from their past and base their decision to trust someone on the present actions of a person. Deem people trustworthy until proven otherwise.

Desire to Change People. True intimacy necessitates acceptance. Having acceptance of yourself and your partner is a powerful indicator of love. It doesn’t mean you have to like everything, but you need to let go of the need to change another person. When we lack acceptance of another person’s qualities, our tendency is to control. That control manifests itself in disapproving feelings, and sometimes even pressuring people to change. To feel close to another person, you must feel unconditionally accepted for who you are.

Inability to Express Your Needs and Feelings. Unfortunately we, as humans, do not have the power to read minds. Therefore, we have to rely on our partners to communicate with us and vice versa. It is each person’s responsibility to express their needs and feelings. By sharing who we are and what’s important to us, we significantly increase our chances of having our needs met. On the other hand, if we repress our needs and feelings, we shut the other person out of our world, and make intimacy impossible.

Not Listening. Communication is a two-way street. Many of us have no problem talking, but listening poses more of a challenge. Listening requires us to hear our partners with our heart. An added step to listening is acknowledging what we have heard. Are you really hearing your partner’s feelings and needs? Or are you thinking about how your partner is wrong or how you want to defend yourself? If your partner is constantly communicating the same need or feeling to you over and over, chances are you are not hearing your partner with your heart.

Self-Centeredness. The minute you decide to enter into a committed relationship, the moment self-centeredness becomes a thing of the past. Intimacy requires there to be a balance between self, the other person and the relationship. It’s not about just you anymore. You have to take the feelings and needs of the other person and the relationship into consideration. Decisions about money, routines, free time, children, time, etc. now have to include your partner’s input.

Lack of Respect. Chances are if you lack respect for your partner, your intimate life probably suffers. To respect means you hold a high opinion and highly value yourself or another person. You appreciate and show consideration for people. The closeness of intimacy needs a general feeling of respect for self and your partner. It also means you need to behave in a way that deserves respect. You cannot expect your partner to respect you if your actions do not warrant respect.

Imbalance of Power. There cannot be one person in a relationship that sees him or herself as more important than his or her partner. A relationship consists of two people with perceived equality. That doesn’t mean one person isn’t smarter, more knowledgeable about certain topics, or has greater strengths in certain areas. It means the difference is not highlighted, flaunted or disrespected. Having a balance of power requires each person to have equal say in a discussion. It means the needs and feelings of each person are equally important.

Unhealthy Arguments. All couples have disagreements. The intimacy in your relationship will suffer if you let your arguments get out of hand. Angry words, unresolved arguments, and inflicting emotional and physical pain will destroy intimacy. Couples that are close learn how to respectfully and healthily resolve their arguments.

Absence of Touch. Although physical intimacy is just a part of total intimacy, it is a very important part. If you don’t make a point to hug, kiss, and experience sexual intimacy, your level of intimacy will be affected. You can still be close, but touch adds extra feelings of warmth, safety and love.

Extreme Separateness. So many couples, after time, begin to live separate lives. Either their differences separate them or unawareness or lack of intention cause them to drift apart. Intimacy requires people to spend time together and share in each other’s life. A relationship is like a garden. You need to take the time to pull the weeds, fertilize and water the flowers. In other words, it requires time, love, and a commitment to keep the bad to a minimum.

If you want your relationship to be intimate, love and respect one another, do your best to meet one another’s needs, share your dreams and feelings, and avoid these eleven intimacy killers.

Cultivating Joy in Everyday Living

The smell of homemade apple pie fills the room. You open the cabinets over and over because you are so proud of your newly organized kitchen. You read a familiar story to your child and mess up all the words just so you can hear him giggle. You lie down next to a fire and listen to your favorite music. Do any of these things make you smile? If you had a list of things that made you smile or laugh, what would be on your “joy list”?

Cultivating joy in everyday living is not something we often think of. We are too busy getting things “done” or tackling the day to day demands and needs of those around us to think about having fun. Real fun is something we save for vacations, right? Well, what if we made a decision that we were going to enjoy life everyday, all day? What would need to change in our lives?

The first step toward living an enjoyable life is the belief that it is possible. Just think how much more enjoyable life would be if you were intentional about creating a joyful life. Most of the time, we don’t stop long enough to think that it is within our power to create something different. The truth of the matter is that, with help from God, we can be the author of our own life storybook.

You were created uniquely different than anyone else, with different passions, likes, and dislikes. What makes you tick? Think back to the times in your life when you felt totally blissful. What were you doing? Who were you with? Where were you? Dig deep and make a list of as many things, people and places in life that make you smile and feel wonderful. Be as detailed as possible. This is your “joy list”. Now, think of things in your life that really drain your energy and put you in a grumpy mood. For me, my “energy drain list” consists of things like cold weather, negative people, clutter, loud noises, and overeating. Make a list of people, places and things in your life that deplete your energy.

Now that you have your two lists, start saying yes to your “joy list” and no to your “energy drain list”. Saying yes to more joy means you will create opportunities to experience joy on a regular basis. You will spend time with people you love, hang out in places that fill you up and do things you love to do. Maybe it means you will journal under a tree with a tall glass of lemonade. Perhaps you’ll go for a run with your best friend or have a snowball fight with your family. Creating joy can be as simple as watching a good movie, taking a cat nap in the sun, or making ice cream sundaes for dessert.

Saying no to the energy drains will require that you set some boundaries in your life to protect your energy. What personal standards do you need to set to take care of yourself? What agreements do you need to make and keep with yourself and others in order to be at your best? Saying no to your energy drains might mean you plan ahead so you can be on time and better organized, or go to bed early so you have plenty of sleep. Maybe there will be conversations or people you need to politely excuse yourself from. Give yourself permission to decline the activities that take too much from your energy supply. Saying no to the energy drains may mean you have to ask for help.

Sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t particularly care for. At times, we can rectify the problem by changing our situation. We can find a new job or hire someone to do the housecleaning. Other times, we don’t have a choice about our life circumstances. Life hands us matters we have no control over. This is when our attitude must prevail. Remember, you are the author of your story and you can choose how you are going to respond to the unpleasantness of life. Find ways to make the mundane exciting. Relieve the stress and tension with humor. Soften the sadness and pain with sweetness.

And to help us with our attitude and our ability to cultivate joy at all times during life, God is available. We can choose to connect to His love, His strength, His joy and His peace at any time during the day. By staying conscious of our moods and feelings, we can tell very quickly when we fall off the path of joyful living. Immediately make a choice to say yes to the belief that joy is possible, intentionally create joy, eliminate any energy drains, and reconnect with the one and only Source for infinite joy.

Can We Really Change Other People?

Those in authority ( such as parents, employers, leaders, supervisors, and religious clergy) can control our actions to a certain degree. However, they cannot change us. Otherwise our actions at all times would conform to their wishes and dictates. …

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