The Sexiness of Vulnerability

Every now and then, I read something that causes me to think of something in a way that turns my previous personal definition on its head.

To be vulnerable is to demonstrate that you are confident about who you are; that you aren’t afraid of your weaknesses. It shows trust and perpetuates trust. You can’t have true love without vulnerability.

Turn-On # 5: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is not the opposite of confidence, as some men seem to assume. I see your willingness to be vulnerable with me as a huge statement of confidence. And, it makes me want to support you, and take care of you. Not in some mommy/boy way, but in this, “Oh, wow, he trusts me!” way. Not only that, it makes me trust you. If you’re willing to get vulnerable with me, I’m going to be less guarded with you. And you never know what fantastic places that could lead us to.?? Trust that I can support you in the moments where you need to be held, listened to, or even just to vent. Trust that I’ll still be here when you’re through it. And as you trust more, so will I trust you. – What Women Really Want: 10 (Sort Of) Secret Turn-Ons for Men Who Want to Know!

Don’t want to accept this from a post with the word “Turn-ons” in the title?

Fine.

Listen to C.S. Lewis talk about vulnerability in, The Four Loves:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

PS: The rest of that “Turn-ons” post is pretty good, too! Enjoy.

A Simple Observation on Fighting

“If you find yourself in the physiological frenzy called ‘flooding’ – racing heart, sweaty palms – stop the argument. Stress hormones inhibit higher cognitive functions, like impulse control and attention. When we feel threatened, we can’t take in new information. In the lab and in therapy sessions, when people take a break, go back to their baseline heart rate and start the conversation again, it’s like they’ve had a brain transplant. Starting a conversation gently is the key to ending it well. ” – John Gottman, Ph.D, co-founder of the Gottman Relationship Institute, as quoted in the January, 2013, issue of Real Simple magazine.

My comment: Yep!

Befriending Bullies

“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” — Josh McDowell

It is so much easier to lecture “Do not! What is wrong with you?” and label “You’re a bully!” “He has ADHD.” than it is to engage “What are you thinking about?” and encourage. “You are so brave! You would be great at building skyscrapers!”

Children who are fearless, strong, and driven, who can organize others and see the world as their playground — imagine how awesome their potential if given the tools (and challenges) to be good leaders.

One of my favorite stories to read to children is The Fire Cat.

Pickles is an awkward, homeless, yellow cat with black spots and very large paws. The other cats are afraid of him because he chases them up a very tall tree — because he can. They avoid Pickles and say, “You are a bad cat. You cannot be our friend.”

Mrs. Goodkind, a neighbor, takes Pickles into her fancy formal home and by gives him cat toys. She tries to reprogram him to be an common cat.

He quickly becomes bored and chooses to goes back to his outdoor barrel and his old ways.

One rainy, windy day, Pickles finds himself stuck in the very same tree he would use to terrorize the other cats.

Mrs. Goodkind could have given him what he deserved and left him for dead in the tree, but she compassionately called the fire department to rescue Pickles.

When he is safely back on the ground, Mrs. Goodkind doesn’t embarrass him or scold Pickles in front of Fireman Joe. Instead, she points out his big paws and praises potential. She re-frames his behavior. “Pickles is a cat who wishes to do big things,” she says. “Someday, he will do them. Look at his paws.”

Fireman Joe gets permission from the Chief to allow Pickles to live at the firehouse.

With much determination, Pickles learns how to be a firecat. He makes friends with all of the firemen, but still has trouble relating to the neighborhood cats. He chases them away when they get too close to the firehouse.

The Chief never responded by squashing Pickles’ spirit or kicking him out of the firehouse. He just quietly observed.

When the time was right, after the Chief has established a relationship, he pulled Pickles aside and said, “A Firecat must be kind to everyone. You must be good to other cats.” As a mentor, as someone who believed in him, as someone whom Pickles looked up to, the Chief — portrayed as a rather scary guy himself — let Pickles know it was okay to be both strong and kind. It didn’t have to be a choice between one or the other.

Sometimes people with big paws need to be told this, too.

A few months ago, a “bully” was chasing kids through my yard and plowed through my fence, knocking the gate off its hinges. He fled the scene. The loud crash of wood hitting concrete alerted me to the problem. I tracked down the boy’s mother and asked if he could come back to help me fix the gate.

Reluctantly, he came over. He helped me lift the gate and carefully guide the pegs back into the hinges. After it was fixed, he said he was sorry.

I thanked him for his help and said, “You’re strong guy. Would you like to help me clean up my yard?”

He grinned and recruited his little posse. Ten trash bags full of twigs and prickly holly leaves later, I bought them all ice cream and we sat and talked for a while.

When he talks to me now, it isn’t about baseball or riding his bike (although he is very good at those things), but it is about trying to navigate through his world without a dad. It’s about worrying his mom is having a hard time at work, and that he is disappointing her with his low grade in math. It’s about the desire to amount to something.

Little by little, he is changing. He is smiling more. He is including the younger children instead of chasing them through my yard.

I’ve often thought about how easy it would have been on that day to yell at him, call the police, or tell my children to stay away from him.

I certainly would have missed out on the the privilege of being his friend.

Re-Framing Negative Behavior:
aggressive / assertive
anxious / cautious; concerned
boisterous / enthusiastic
bossy / a leader
brooding / serious
chatterbox / communicative
clingy / loving
controlling / determined
disruptive / eager
distractible / perceptive
dreamy / imaginative
explosive / dramatic
fearful / sensitive
forceful / determined
giddy / good-humored
high strung / energetic; enthusiastic
hyper / loves to move
hyper-sensitive / responsive
impatient / compelling; passionate
impudent / unafraid
incorrigible / strong-willed
inflexible / traditional
intense / focused; dedicated
insecure / cautious
loud / expressive
manipulative / charismatic
moody / sensitive
non-participatory / an observer
obsessive / deliberate
picky / selective
possessive / keenly intent on objects
pushy / assertive
quiet / absorbent; a thinker
restless / zealous
self-centered / proud
serious / contemplative
shy / reflective
silly / fanciful; joyful
spoiled / well-loved
stubborn / tenacious; persistent
a terror / energetic
troublesome / challenging
unfocused / curious
unpredictable / flexible; creative
whiny / willing to communicate
wild / vigorous
withdrawn / introspective

Craigslist Art : Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall

Found the Missed Connections blog on Twitter via @101Cookbooks.

Susan Blackall, a New York based illustrator, finds her inspiration in the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist. Her artwork makes me want to pick up my paintbrush and watercolors like old times. Enjoy!

“Missed connections inspire me because they’re unfinished stories. I love trying to figure out what wasn’t said… what’s not there… the missing part. Since I have been reading them in this obsessive way, I see missed connections everywhere. I look at people glancing at each other on the train and wonder if they’re going to turn up the next day.

There is a danger of living in a city of millions of people that you can become invisible. There is that feeling for a lot of people that a tiny moment could set your life on a different course. There is that ‘what if’ that is honestly appealing and universal.. that your morning commute might change everything.” – Sophie Blackall, Illustrator

Relationships: Hack Apart Your Frames to Unite Your Perspective

flowerblack

flowergray

Same picture (flowers in my front yard, taken with my cell phone camera), different frames.

The dark, sleek frame would work in a modern, minimalist decor. The juxtaposition of the humble flowers, one fading, with the stark, white space matting might give the viewer pause for reflection about the deeper meaning in the picture. It would display nicely on a white, gray or crimson wall.

The lighter, pastel frame would be better suited for more of a country or shabby chic, softly painted room. The (ahem) “art work” in this setting is more of a background, mood-setting piece. Its composition is not as distinctive and certainly does less to capture attention.

Sometimes in our arguments, we frame our point in our mind’s eye to be like one of these photograph/frame combinations. Our opponent visualizes the point to be more like the other. Although the photo is the same, the perspective is not.

When we communicate, how often do we ask questions to better understand how our intended audience defines their terms? How often do we stop to consider the way they are processing knowledge – their profession, their experience, their learning style, their priorities? When we do these things, we get closer to understanding each other. We get closer to objective truth.

But, we don’t ask.

Screaming crescendos ensue when we have taken the objective truth and framed it to suit our own interests.

While it can be tedious work to deconstruct artwork that has been professionally frame by someone with years of experience in their technique, sometimes it’s necessary to do if you want to use the photograph in a new home with an incompatible style.

Relationship maintenance requires that we go through this tedious assumption frame-removal process from time to time, in order to understand someone’s point, to come to an amicable agreement. ‘Thinking the best of someone’ is a great frame-deconstruction tool.

When our perspective changes, our response changes.

When our response changes, our relationship changes.

Last night, my youngest child was gleefully playing with cups in the sink while the older children were clearing the table. My husband noticed another child pouring water from cups in the sink and scolded him for playing when he ought to be working. I said, “Honey, please consider that you might not understand what’s going on here. I asked him to get the cups from the other room. Some had water in them, and he was emptying the water into the sink.” My husband promptly apologized and thanked him for bringing in the cups.

I am thankful my husband listened to facts and changed his perspective and with it his response – scolding to thankfulness. He allowed his frame (child has tendency to get distracted into play world when asked to do chores) to be deconstructed, and he was able to get to the objective truth.

Not every conflict ends this way, but we can be thankful when they do.

The goals of trust and honesty in a loving relationship dictate that we do not intentionally spin facts to win favor, but humbly present them as they are.

Trust is built when we can we lay it all out on the table, and sort out information in a united way, asking questions and listening to the answers. Keep the truth in focus, and add a bit of each other’s perspective. Solutions are the result.

When we are afraid, it is easy to slant and hide facts. When we cannot trust, we let our perspective get in the way of the truth. Habitually assigning motives and holding our perspective more valuable than the object says a lot about a relationship. Screaming crescendos, quiet bitterness, or both, are the result.

There is no fear in love.

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Frames courtesy of
http://www.pictureframes.com/scripts/WebObjects/PictureFrames.woa/wa/Home. Simply upload a photo and then choose the wall color, matting and frame. Enjoy!