Category Archives: Life

Dancing in Nice and Fire Ants

French Couple Dancing in Nice.

Several weeks ago, there was a horrific slaughter by a Muslim extremist who planned for a year and then rented the largest truck he could and evilly plowed through a large crowd of families with children and babies, couples, elderly grandparents, friends, tourists and visitors out to celebrate the holiday, fireworks, music and life.

Before the fireworks, a band was playing and a couple danced together Niece couple and enjoyed the music (Yea, France ! – when I read the article, I checked the video to see if one of the dancers was a friend). If I ever had to go “out” in that type of situation, dancing with a wonderful partner is not a bad option  (I’d try to get her out of the way first).

Two individuals made heroic attempts to thwart the madman. A motorcyclist bravely tried to stop the driver seated above him in the moving cab, but ended up under the truck wheels. A second man jumped into the cab window when the truck was slowed by some obstacles and fought the driver and kept him occupied until the gendarmes arrived and shot the driver. In his wake, the truck driver intentionally killed 84 strangers – men, women and children and injured a hundred more. This was a sad, senseless act.

Down south, we have invasive critters called fire ants. A single ant bite will get your immediate attention. Their survival strategy is, upon disturbance of the mound, ALL the ants come streaming out to attack and bite the fire out of the intruder. Their lesson is so effective, you quickly learn to pay attention to where you ( your friends, small children, pets) are standing or sitting outside.  When situations like Nice or the Pulse nightclub occur, we should adopt the same strategy – everyone goes after the destroyer – regardless.

 

 

 

 

Relationships – How to Communicate Love to Each Other

Some Random Thoughts on Love.

I saw an old couple, probably in their 70’s, coming out of a building holding hands (after all the years). I went over and complimented them saying it was nice to see people holding hands. She smiled and said laughingly “We hold each other up”.

… go inside and listen to your body, because your body will never lie to you. Your mind will play tricks, but the way you feel in your heart, in your guts, is the truth.”     – Miguel Ruiz

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” – Coco Channel

“Loving her is a splendid adventure”  – Steve Maraboli

“She was like the moon –  part of her was always hidden” – unknown

“She always had that about her- that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world” – Joanne Harris

“She is her own kind of beautiful”

“One universe, nine planets, 204 countries, 809 islands, seven seas, and I had the privilege of meeting you” – unknown

How to Communicate Love to Each Other

Ran across a writer named Gary Chapman who had some interesting and useful insights into communications for couples in particular and people in general. One of his books is “The Five Love Languages”. After many years working with people, he finally discerned patterns of how people communicate love to each other.

Acts of Service to help your partner

He mentioned a couple that sought counseling where the man showed his love to her by doing all kinds of “Acts of Service” to help her. He took out the garbage, vacuumed the house, washed the dishes, cut the grass, made dinners when he got home first and so on. Chapman started wondering what she did around the house. When she spoke, she said that he never talked to her and was always busy doing things.

There was another couple whereReceiving Quality Time is one way people feel loved one of them especially valued doing things together. It could be as simple as going out to a restaurant and just looking at each other and talking (like young couples).  This Chapman called “Quality Time”

Another couple just likes to have physical contact Snuggle3and snuggle on the  sofa, or go walking holding hands, or putting their hand on the other’s leg while they were driving. Sometimes, both people enjoy reading while they snuggle together.  Chapman described this as “Physical Contact”.

 

Other people take delight whenGift2 they are surprised with a gift. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, they just appreciate the thought and the novelty. It could even be flowers from the yard. These types of people communicate through “Gifts”.

Some people loved to hear words of appreciation Appreciationsuch as “you’re wonderful”, or “that color looks really well on you”, or “that’s one of the many reasons I love you”. or calling her “Beauty” or “Bella”. These “Words of Affirmation” are the way some people perceive they are loved.

We are all different. We all enjoy receiving any of the Five Languages but we primarily work in one or two of the languages. Chapman thinks it is helpful  when searching for a relationship if you can find a person who has the same or similar style of communicating love.  It’s like speaking a language and the other person speaks English too, but may prefer another language, so one can be bilingual – say she likes to speak French. That may be fine if you like French. However, if she likes German, and you do not enjoy German, it may be a difficult row to hoe over the long run.

Chapman pointed out that the primary language could shift given where one is in life. A Mom with two screaming babies could become very appreciative of “Acts of Service” if, when the Dad gets home, he jumps in to help her and feeds and changes the babies, bathes them, plays with them and puts them to bed. In later years, she may revert back to her original language(s).

Wanting to compare what I thought she would say to what she actually says she prefers, I asked my partner if she liked gifts. She said she didn’t need anything. In responding if she preferred Acts of Service done around the house. She responded they didn’t do anything FOR her. I do know that she is very attentive to what I say and specific words I use (by the way guys, the word “fine”, as in “you look fine” does not work well. If she looks good or great, say that. She may have gone to a lot of trouble to choose that dress and get her hair just right). She is also very tactile and loves it when I put my arm around her. She also likes some Quality Time, so I’m planning an adventure vacation for the summer.

These Languages of Love also work for kids. Chapman had a young boy who would run at him and hug him when he got home. Physical Contact was obviously important to him.  His daughter was different. When she saw him, she would say “Daddy, come with me. I want to show you something.” Quality one-on-one time was important to her.

So, figure out how you like to receive love and how your partner, room-mate, family members like to receive love.

How to Apologize

Chapman offered some further insights. Another counselor told him that she had noticed that people had different ways of apologizing and depending on the circumstances some ways did or didn’t work.

One way to apologize is to express regret – I sorry that I…  . Chapman says DO NOT include a “but” in the response that justifies , excuses or explains your actions.

Another way ( or continuation) is to accept responsibility for the act. “That was totally my fault.”

It may be important to some people to offer restitution – “What can I do to make this up to you?”

The next component may be to show evidence of trying to change behavior.

The last element in the apology is to “ask forgiveness”. Do not assume they know you are asking for it. State it.

Chapman says that we learn forgiveness from our families and how they practice it can vary widely. So, if you mess up (particularly if you did it big time), you may want to include all the components to make sure that you include the particular manner the other person understands.

 

Dance with your heart

Wisdom from an old Serbian Farmer

A world traveler was talking about his trips, He would enter one country and make friends during his stay.  When it was time to go on the road again, they would tell him that their country was friendly, but to look out when he went into the neighboring country because they were of a different background and it was a dangerous place. He would enter the new country and again find new friends. As he was leaving that country, he smiled as his new friends, in turn, warned him about the people in the next country.

During these travels, he met an old Serbian farmer who told him something that I know from my heart to be wonderful advice:

“Dance with your heart, and
Smile with your eyes”

That’s an overwhelming combination. Hopefully, you have had the gift of knowing someone like that. More importantly, I hope you have the gift of being that person.

GoEuro.com

If you have any plans of going to Europe (I do), there is a new website that could help you get around. With GoEuro.com, you can enter your departure city, your destination city and date, and the site will respond  with the availability and price of the different travel modes available (rail, air, bus). For example, if you wanted to go from Madrid to Barcelona, Bus is the cheapest (and longest 12 hrs.) for $56. Rail is the fastest and most expensive $147. Air is a hair longer (2 minutes) but somewhat less expensive  at $112.  Couple that with AirBnB.com and Bon Voyage!

 

A Wedding, A Cello, A Tenor and A Song.

I was invited to a wedding down in Puerto Rico.  The ceremony was held in an old catholic church that was refreshed for the wedding. The bride was beautiful, her gown was perfect for her and truly complimented her. The groom was young and lively, also an engineer. They were a great couple. The selection of the musicians was also well done.  Two violins and a cello provided the music and then then during the ceremony, a young tenor began to sing. He hit the notes perfectly modulating between soft and strong, and sang with great feeling. The tenor and the strings filled the church with their music through the ceremony playing so exceptionally that, by the end, the two hundred families and friends were applauding both the new couple as well as the musicians – particularly the tenor, Carlos Feliciano.

One of the  songs  that he knocked out of the park, I wanted to hear again, but  didn’t know the name – it was in Italian and operatic in style. Searches of Puccini and Verdi were unsuccessfully. So, I called up my cousin, father of the bride, and found out the  piece was called Nessum Dorma for Puccini’s Turandot.

The story line is that a beautiful, icy (and dangerous) princess, Turandot,  daughter of a powerful king. She doesn’t wish to be married, but accedes to her father’s wishes with the condition of requiring that any suitor must answer three riddles to win her hand. If they answer incorrectly, they lose their heads.

The latest suitor is the Prince of Persia.Poster_Turandot But, he couldn’t answer the riddles and will have his head cut off at moon rise. In the crowd for that event is a young man named Calaf, the hero. He runs into an old man with a young slave woman, Liu, whom he recognizes as his father – a deposed Mongol king. The slave girl he recognized from his youth.

When the moon rises, the crowd pleas for the life of the Persian Prince, but Turandot appears and silently motions for the execution to proceed. Calaf sees the Princess for the first time and is overwhelmed by her beauty. After the execution, Calaf orders the gong sounded to announce he will be the next high risk suitor.

Calaf is presented the deadly riddles. The first is “what is born each night and dies at dawn?” He thinks and answers “Hope.” He is asked the second riddle – “What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?” He thinks and then responds “Blood”. He is asked the final riddle – “What is like ice yet burns?” Calaf reflects on this and answers “Turandot” and survives the test.

Yet, the Princess refuses to marry him. So, in order to win her heart, Calaf offers her a challenge – if she can tell him what his name is by sunrise, he will forfeit his life.

Turandot accepts, but issues a proclamation that No One Shall Sleep (Nessum Dorma) until they find out the man’s name. If they don’t, she will have the entire city killed. Frantically, they try to find out his name. They figure out that the slave girl Liu knows the answer. As a young girl, Liu had fallen in love with Calaf, Turandot has her tortured with no result. She asks Liu how she can resist the torture and Liu says “Love”.  Turandot directs the soldiers to increase the torture and Liu grabs one of their knives and takes her own life, before she gives Calaf up.

As the sun rises, the Princess has run out of time and Calaf sings he has won (vincerò) and forcibly kisses her for her first time and begins to turn her heart.

Pav2Here is Luciano Pavarotti singing the same song from the wedding: Nessum Dorma – Calaf’s song of victory.

Yesterday, listening to my smorgasbord of stations on Pandora, a song started playing! Turns out it’s a fairly recent song – very melodic with a touch of wistfulness to it. There lyrics are even more so:

“There is no light if you are not here with me. Lands that I never shared with you, I shall experience with you on ships across seas that exist no more. With you, I will go. I know you are with me”.

Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli

 

This was my first exposure to Bocelli and he too can hit the low as well as the high notes.  I think of him as an international  Frank Sinatra – only more mellow and with less brass. He also did a classic Spanish song that’s a mix of love, passion with a dash of the uncertainty , insecurity and ephemerality in relationships . It’s a great song for lovers to dance to:

Besame Mucho –Andrea Bocelli

 

Looking over his songs, there was a surprising discovery –  a duet cover of another classic Mexican love song “Somos Novios” sung by Bocelli and Christina Aguilera, who, although having a latin name, I have never heard sing in Spanish. (Shakira sings in English and Spanish, but her voice is most powerful in Spanish).

The words start:  “Somos novios,
Pues los dos sentimos mutuo amor profundo,
y con eso, ya ganamos lo mas grande de este mundo…”

“We’re a couple, we both feel profound mutual love,
and, with that, we have won the biggest thing in this world…”

So here are Andrea and Christina:

Somos Novios –   Bocelli and Aguilera

 

Speaking of Shakira. she was a judge on The Voice and had a thoughtful, soft approach. Though English may not even be her second language, she has an incredible English vocabulary to describe precisely what she’s feeling. In fact, they did a compilation of her comments over the season that was really impressive to listen to. She’s a polyglot speaking five languages!  In addition, she is reported to have an IQ of 140. (She gets more amazing the more I learn about her.) Her mom is Colombian and her dad is Lebanese, and she honors both musical traditions. Her name means “Thankful” in arabic and you can thank her paternal grandmother for introducing her to belly dancing. Here’s a short clip of her on The Voice and another while interviewed on-tour.

Shakira on “The Voice”.

Shakira Interviews On-Tour

 

Below is the song that I was thinking about in audio format.

Ojos Asi – Shakira (audio)

Ojos Asi – Video – The Mongoose Tour – Rotterdam

Shakira puts on a great show and selects a team of top musicians, stage and lighting designers and managers.

Petraeus and the “Terrrible, Horrible,  No     Good, Very Bad Day Year” 

David-Petraeus

One of my current reads is “All In”  about Soldier/ Scholar David Petraeus. He’s a man of amazing abilities, talents, intelligence, a leader by example, and he has his own weaknesses (which he, like everyone, also has to live with ).  Back in 2007, David Petraeus was transferred from the US and reassigned as the commander of the rapidly disintegrating situation in Iraq. Nothing was going his way, but stabilizing and turning it around was his challenge. In reflecting on the situation, he said:

” The situation …is dire, The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard…
But hard is not hopeless.”

He consistently did new, multiple, different things, took risks that exposed his troops and himself to danger, got involved with the local population and leaders, created security for them, won their trust and turned the situation around.

His philosophy, and practice,  is useful in life:   Hard is not hopeless.

Food for Thought – A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. – Thucydides

Canción de Cortez

Once in my lifetime, the planets aligned –Alignment

my heart, soul, body, and mind –

I  committed completely my life to the risk,

and firmly hold the hot torch afire in my hand,

Burning Ship

walking inexorably to the beach,

ready to burn all my ships,

mis ojos te buscan…

Life – Thursday Thoughts

It’s late. Just finished the next episode of a program I got addicted to, Scandal, about which I now feel very mixed. The characters started out wearing white hats, and they are all turning out to have done major sins that are starting to out-weigh their virtues and attractiveness. The show is now getting to be more of a display of cleverness rather than heroic virtue. It’s still captivating.

At the end of the show my dog, Awesome, fell asleep and started to do something that made me wonder when Advertising and big Pharma are going to get together and put on late night TV commercials asking:

“Does your dog’s snoring keep you awake at night? If so, give him K-nine Kno-snore. Not recommended if your dog suffers from thirst,  seizures, flea bites, leg humping, allergies, hunger, liking to be scratched, or low testosterone. Caution: Side effects of Kno-snore may include, but are not limited to: heart attacks, strokes, hair loss, hives, gout, puffy lips and dry skin.”

A suggestion about your significant other: Find out what makes her/him tick. The pattern is ask a question, pay attention to her response, and then give something back to her about how you feel about the question. The key part is to pay attention to not only what she responds with, to but also HOW she responds e.g.:
Is her response quick – like it is something viscerally close to her feelings, or is it a slow response like it’s getting thought out? Did her energy level pick up or was is a flat response? Did her eyes open wider or remain the same? Did she animate more – like using her hands to express herself? Did her breathing pick up or remain level? Do her eyes and face seem happy, or agitated, or unengaged?
Pay special attention to what animates her and gets her juices flowing – those are the things that are close to her and make her happy. Notice what they are.

Also, by paying attention to her tone, pacing, breathing, energy, you can sense when she is making a decision. I remember setting up a time to do explore a possible business opportunity with some other people. I got the date of my free day reversed and she couldn’t reschedule to join me on the changed day. Since I no longer had another person going with me, I reviewed my priorities, and thought I could better spend the time finishing another activity before starting a new endeavor.

When she and I talked on the phone a day later, she asked if I had gone to talk to these people. I told her I hadn’t, and I could tell by her voice that she was disappointed that I hadn’t done it. A red flag went up as I “heard” her making a judgement of some type about it. I usually don’t feel the need to justify myself, so I let it go by. In retrospect, I should have focused my attention on the flag and asked her why she sounded disappointed and taken the opportunity (never let a crisis go to waste) to discuss it and explain the circumstances to her. You’ve got to try something to find out if it works.

Another suggestion: If there is something that is important to you that you want to ask her/him about, but you feel awkward cause you don’t normally talk about the subject, or don’t know how to ask it, don’t delay until you figure out a best way to do it – it’s better to just go ahead and ask her. It may be ill-formed, and not in the way Shakespeare might have asked it, but go ahead and ask. You will be able to replay it later in your mind and figure out how the Bard would have said it, but if you don’t ask, the moment will have passed, and you didn’t get your idea or need out there. Not throwing it into the conversation will end up making a much more awkward situation. It will set off her female antenna and she won’t know what it is she’s picking up. It’s a lot easier, and safer, simply asking it.

Regarding asking, I read today that the word courage, derived from the French word for heart “coeur”, had an original meaning of “speaking one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” The writer, Brené Brown, continues: “Asking for what you need is one of the bravest things that you’ll ever do”. What is in one’s heart can be a statement or it can be a question. Stating what’s in one’s heart does take courage. That’s something I want, and need, to consciously practice.  We should all work on building that muscle.

Have you ever wondered why some things that seem so right, that fit so well in so many ways, that really “should be” – fail to thrive and survive,
and other things that are odd fits, that struggle, that appear “on borrowed time” – can’t seem to be killed regardless?

A prayer:
God, I am a wealthy man (thank you) but I am not a rich man.
Please send me a woman who is either too rich, or too poor,
to care. Or just a woman, neither rich nor poor, who simply doesn’t care…
(and help me surprise her about the rich part).
Thank you for listening.

Life – Wednesday – Odds and Ends

A tip – for when you are doing repetitive exercises that get challenging towards the end. Say you’re doing 50 pushups. It gets tough when you’re in the 40’s because you remind yourself that you have already done 45 pushups, then you’re doing a 46th push up…

Instead of this, count backwards. When you’re in the last tough ten of the series you can focus, not on the difficult road you have traveled, but on the small remaining task – eight pushups diminishes to seven, then six (and you know you can do six), five – you’re almost there, four- you can do this, three- I can do three!, two – I can do this, one -just one more – I’ve got it!!!! Yes!

President Lincoln had a lot of wisdom. Two of his quotes that I like are:

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

 

In her enjoyable book Happy for No Reason, author Marci Shimoff observed that people seem to have an internal “happiness thermostat”. They can win the lottery or lose a leg, and after a while the euphoria or depression dissipates and they return to their normal state of happiness.  I think Lincoln and Shimoff are both right. I try to be conscious of my own state of happiness and make the conscious choice to keep it up (especially if things don’t go as I would like them to go).

Lincoln2

 Lincoln was not a good looking man. With today’s emphasis on telegenics, he would never be elected today.  In the Lincoln – Douglas debates, Senator Douglas accused Lincoln of being two-faced. He responded:

“Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?”

I had the great fortune of meeting a person who astounded me. She was a person who inspired one to think about the possibilities of life. She was intelligent, happy, immensely curious, artistic, an explorer, willing to try out new things, up for adventure. Being around her was interesting and exciting and joyful. Old dreams that had been dormant began awakening. Things that were “just thoughts” began to look like they could  become very do-able realities that I wanted to make happen. She was also a very “planfull” person. Her life was more organized than 95% of the people I know, complete with goals she had chosen for her life.  I thought to myself that “this is the way I want to approach and live my life”. I am truly grateful to have had my life changed by getting to know her and seeing how she LIVED.

There’s the old joke:

If a man speaks in the woods and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?

Some advice to guys:

1. If your gal ever asks you what can be done to improve the relationship, and you answer what you think, and she responds “is that all???” (see joke above), do not be defensive or sit there like a bump on a log. Turn it around into a great opportunity and ask her what she would like to happen to improve the relationship. Another situation is that if (when) you screw up, accept that you did it and honestly tell her “I’m sorry. If I could do it over, I would do it very differently. I can’t change the past, but I can change the future. Next time, how would you like me to handle/do it?”(and do it that way). It could make a huge difference.

2. If you are fortunate to wake up next to someone you love, take the time to softly wake her with a massage starting where her neck and head join, move down along the shoulders and down the shoulder blades, down both sides of the spine, hips, butt, thighs, calves all the way down to the heel and sole of the feet. (Don’t get distracted). She’ll love you for it and it’s a great way to start the day.

Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections

These Life / Music pages encompass good parts of life in general. It includes thoughts, quotes, lyrics, poetry, video, links to  interesting sites, and things that I find interesting or well done.

There have been a few songs recently that have spoken to me. The first is John Legend’s “All of Me”. Some of the lyrics are:

My head’s under water,

But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind
‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh…
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues…
Cards on the table,
we’re both showing hearts Risking it all, though it’s hard…”

 

 

 

The second song I heard recently in a movie “About Time” which I liked a lot. This movie was similar to one of my favorites – “Ground Hog Day”, only this time, he has a choice.  The movie’s premise is that the men of this family are able to travel back it time. If something didn’t go as they desired, they could travel back and do something different to see how the outcome changed (repeat as needed) – with some funny improvements which I cheered. There were also some sad choices, too, but, overall, they mostly were improvements to their lives.
During the movie there was a spirited love song (usually they are slow) called “How Long Will I Love You” that is a celebration of love. Play the song and grab the person you love and dance with them. I include a link to the Youtube video of the song:

 

How Long Will I Love You by Boden, Sweeny & Coleman (audio)