"What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with." - Robert Brault. Hmmm, that resonates with me.
For a very long time, I thought the term soulmate was total bulls*it. It was a fairy tale concept that we bought because incredibly romantic films like The Notebook and Titanic were selling it. But in reality, how many of us truly find it? Or better yet, how many of us honestly hold out for it before we say, “this relationship is great and it doesn’t get better than this?” And at the end of the day, what the hell does the word really mean?
I was given this word tonight by someone who appears to truly believe in its meaning. And it forced me to really explore what I think about it, and what it means to me. So here is my interpretation.
If a soulmate were to exist, it wouldn’t just be that fleeting intense infatuation that occurs during those first incredible moments of a new relationship. You would share something profound and lasting.
If a soulmate were to exist, you just plain get each other. You understand how each other thinks, you can complete each other’s sentences, and you can totally get inside each other’s heads. And be understanding and ok with what’s in there.
If a soulmate were to exist, they love each other for who you are. The good, the bad and the ugly. Every relationship, even the best of them, has highs and lows. And yet if someone is truly a soulmate, you will love each other through those times. And you will embrace those quirky things about one another that others might otherwise find annoying.
If a soulmate were to exist, you share a passionate relationship. That can bring an intensity that also bring highs and lows, but it’s never dull. But because together, no matter what place you are in, you are in it together. You thrive in the positive, and you become even stronger together working through the negative.
If a soulmate were to exist, you have each other’s backs. Always. Not in the way like your mom does. This is the person who you can bare your soul to. Your hopes. Your dreams. Your fantasies. Your everything. When you have a success, they are your biggest champion. And when you screw up, they support. They are the person in your life you feel your most secure around.
If a soulmate were to exist, you can’t picture your life without him/her. Simple as that.
And after thinking all that through, I think not only do I think I ultimately believe in that, I think it’s worth holding out for. I’ve experienced some serious love in my life. But I’ve got a lot of life left to live. And if I’m living it to its fullest, I’m going big, or going home. Alone.
I’m grateful for this word tonight. It just set the bar not only what I am looking for, but what I need. What I realized tonight, for the first time in my life, is that “soulmate” is pretty right in line with my passionate personality.
How on earth did I miss that all these years?
Like many people with a number of “Facebook friends,” I jump on to see what’s new in some of my favorites’ worlds. It seems the longer you are a member, the larger your community becomes. And, as I realized recently, it’s not unlike high school. And that for me makes it pretty interesting.
There are people who clearly peaked at 17. They are living for “Throw Back Thursday” and relish posting pictures of themselves in their high school glory days.
There are people who were in their “awkward” phase back then, but have thrived since those dark days. I love seeing the kids who were a little Anthony Michael-ish from his Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles days evolve into amazing men. And those slightly geeky girls who have now blossomed into the most confident and beautiful of swans.
And then of course, there are those who just need attention. They didn’t know how to get it back then, and their constant updates proclaiming “OMG! The line to grab my grande skinny soy latte is insane this morning!!!” While I’m sure these updates appeal to some part of the population, I’ll go with the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” approach on this one.
But then there are the more real connections, which is when FB stops being a thing that is fun to peek at when I’m stuck in heavy traffic, and actually becomes a tool of incredible connection.
I “like” that I am able to catch up with my best childhood girlfriend who moved to California, through her posts and pictures about her beautiful family.
I “like” that I am able to see how some of my more creative friends approach their interaction with this social media. They make it interesting, fresh, and always worth visiting their pages.
I “like” that I am able to open FB each day and smile at a newly posted picture posted by my incredibly talented photographer friend. I smile at her talent, and at the strength and happiness I know she is finding in her new life.
I “like” cheering on people’s accomplishments. I get excited seeing people proud of themselves or their kids for achieving new goals or conquering their dreams.
But mostly, I “like” reconnecting in a meaningful way with people. One of the best things this Experiment has done for me by forcing me to put myself out there so publicly is to open myself up to connection to people’s commentary; for better or worse. And tonight, I was reminded about just how powerful that is.
Most people who “read me” do not comment directly to FB. They message me offline. Over the past 248 days, I’ve connected with a crazy number of people. The ones that have meant the most are when something I wrote about strikes a chord and causes a person to reach out and tell me how it affected them, or how they had a similar experience and how they handled it. Many of these dialogues take place online (totally contrary to the post I wrote about last night about “Technology is a Tool.” But some turn into deeper conversations which result in a more personal discussion. Like tonight.
A friend from high school and I became FB friends a while back. We weren’t close in school, but I always knew him to be a really nice guy. And soon after we connected, I learned he lost his wife not long ago to a battle with cancer. He’s now a single dad with daughters similar in age to my mine. And he’s been reading my stuff. For some reason, he finds some of it thought provoking and somewhat helpful at this point in his life. And tonight, as he does every so often, he messaged me about a single parent question.
After a few messages were exchanged, I realized it was far too complex a topic to cover over a chat. So I sent him my number and we ended up chatting for a long while. He got some added perspective he was looking for, and I got a deeper connection with a really good person. I live for those connections.
In high school, I was always pretty open to who I was friends with. As FB has allowed the world a social media vehicle to project how they would like to be perceived to whoever is their “friend,” - or the world, depending on the settings - it’s up to each of us to decide who we choose to engage with based on what they put out there.
And like high school you can be friendly with a whole bunch of people and still really connect with your core group. Facebook hasn’t just allowed me to laugh, cheer, cry and yes, ignore my friend’s posts. It’s allowed me to open my world to really interesting people - old friends and new.
I really “like” that.
Decades ago, John F. Kennedy said, “Time is a tool, not a crutch.” I’ll revise that statement to replace the word “time” with “technology.”
I walked into my home last night and was greeted by a barking dog and a nanny with a migraine. My kids were both face deep in their technology. No “hi mom.” No kisses. And I was really bummed.
It was particularly noteworthy to me because I am really diligent about shutting down my own phone before I cross the threshold into my kitchen and hugging my kids. I want them to see me engaged and excited to see them, and have them understand they are my priority when I get home; not still be tuned into my work day. Plenty of time for that after they go to bed if needed. And I want them to show me the same interest and respect.
And granted, we all stray from this path sometimes. If they decide to watch tv and they are glued to some Nick show, I’ll start writing early and my computer will remain on. And sometimes they will pull out an iPad under the guise of “researching something” when they are really just Googling who had the prettiest dress at the Oscars.
But we are all working hard to ensure it’s used as a tool, not a crutch. I’m teaching my daughters the importance of human relationships. As in, “Hey, here’s a thought. Pick up the phone and call your friend and ask her over rather than sending her 37 text messages.” Or, “It’s a great thing that you are going on a week long field trip in May where you aren’t allowed to have any device that connects to the intranet. Maybe you’ll learn to take a deeper look at the world around you and focus on communicating in a different way.”
Don’t get me wrong. I adore technology. Steve Jobs is one of my heroes and I am an Apple fanatic. That said, I am also someone who understands the importance of a in-person conversation. And am reminded too often when I rely on too heavily on technology of how bad things can go. Unintended misinterpretations, hurt feelings, total misses, etc. As much as technology can enable us, it can sometimes prompt us to become exceptionally lazy on some of the most important things in our lives - like human relationships.
So I will continue to be the quintessential iAddict. Texting quick notes and emailing updates are useful and practical in today’s world. But I will never stop trying to focus on bettering my ability to connect with people when and where it really matters. In person.
I’ve got a bad scar on my elbow that required over thirty stitches. I lied to my parents, and have felt no desire to come clean about how I got hurt, until today.
An old friend reminded me of this story last week, and teased me about having not having written about it yet. “How can you say you are truly putting yourself out there if you have been honest about that?!”
So here goes.
My mom had knee surgery at our local hospital while I was in high school. This took place during what we can refer to as my “testing my boundaries phase.” Oh, hell…let’s be realistic. I may not have outgrown that phase. Anyway, I digress.
She was in the hospital for a few days, and while my dad was at work, my brother and I were supposed to be responsible enough to take care of ourselves. Or, in my case, irresponsible enough to take total advantage of my parents not being home.
This was a rare occurrence in our home. Having a stay at home mom had ample benefits, but it put a real cramp in your social life if you wanted to get into mischief. So when the opportunity arose, I exploited it.
Unbeknownst to my parents, I took the day off from school one of these days. I don’t recall how I was able to get out of it, but it likely had something to do with my keen skill with a pen. There is no mistake that even today, the “Luconi” part of my signature is not unlike my father’s. My mother’s careful script was way too hard to copy; my dad’s was far easier to forge. Though I used it rarely, it got me out of a few gym classes. And I believe it got me out of that day of school, if memory serves. And though I never used it again, I had practiced it so many times by then, it stuck all these years later. No one in my family has ever seemed to notice or comment on that.
I invited my boyfriend over, as well as my good girlfriend and her boyfriend. We didn’t have a vehicle to carry out our own version of a Ferris Bueller day, but we made the most of a day off of school. And around mid-afternoon, when I should have been coming home from school on the bus, I found myself in the shower.
We lived in a 200+ year old farm house. While my parents had done a beautiful job updating it, there were still some parts of it that remained quite “vintage.” Like the ceramic soap dish that was built into the shower. At some point in time, my brother had been lifting weights in the shower (yeah, THAT happened) and broke the soap dish, leaving a massive jagged edge that had yet to be repaired.
There I am, in the shower in the middle of the day, and I remember turning around to grab some shampoo. RRRiiippp. There goes my right elbow. Blood everywhere. I jump out of the shower. I am bleeding through towels. I don’t know what to do. Four idiot teenagers go into major action planning mode.
The boys take off. They want nothing to do with this, and realize they will be in massive trouble if we get caught. My girlfriend and I call her mom, who is a nurse, to ask for help. She isn’t home yet.
So we decide to walk to her house. It is three miles away. We figure that by the time we get there, her mom will be home and she will be able to take us to the hospital. And for the long journey we are about to take, we triage my elbow with the most absorbent thing we can find. A ginormous maxi-pad. We brought extras.
By the time we got to her house, I was pretty weak, and her mom was pretty angry. Angry at our idiocy for walking all that way rather than calling another adult for help, and angry at our bulls*it story of how this accident occurred. Nope, she wash’t buying why I was in the shower in the middle of the afternoon.
And neither were my parents.
We entered the hospital, and conveniently, there were my mom and dad. My mom, still in her hospital bed recovering and my dad stopping by to visit her before coming home to my brother and I. Turns out, you need parental consent before having stitches or other procedures done. Fantastic.
So I told them I had been in a mud fight waiting to board the bus after school and had gotten filthy. I was showering after I got home and ripped my arm. They clearly thought I was full of it, but realized I was in serious need of help. I got the stitches, and my dad drove me home. He was not happy with me. For those of you who know Fred, that last sentence is an understatement.
Over the years, they have periodically asked me, “What really happened that day?” Obviously, if I had come clean, they weren’t going to ground me at age 23, 33, or 43. But one of the best parts of being a kid for me was knowing that I could have at least one or two secrets from my parents. And candidly, there is some stuff they are just better off not knowing. They were great parents. Let’s let make them feel any differently about that.
I mean, I turned out ok in the end. My family was very tight when I was growing up. I am certain doing rebellious stuff was my way of ensuring that I was capable of having some independence and of being able to make decisions on my own. Granted, I made some pretty poor decisions. And I learned from every single one of them. And, yes, I had some fun along the way.
So Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, there you go. I’m sorry I lied about the mud fight and skipping school. And no, I didn’t lie about sneaking out of the house more than once. I was too scared to do that again. And no Dad, I didn’t sneak your Porsche out. I was too scared to do that too. That’s why I saved up and bought one of my own. But I’d suggest we leave the rest of my high school “experiences” that you have questions about alone. I think one secret every 31 years is plenty. :)
I frequently mention that I try to max out my life. I believe in that as a life philosophy; as in you’ve got one life, so it’s up to each of us to make the most of what we are given.
I was the kid who never thought I would make it past age 30. I don’t know I believed that. It probably sounded tragically glamourous when I was an angst-riden teenager. I suppose it doesn’t matter why I thought it; the feeling just never seemed to pass. And then all of a sudden, ten years ago I had a reason to believe maybe there was a reason to think maybe I would die on the younger side.
I’ve had more scans on my head than is probably healthy for one person to have. And yet, every so often, my neurologist (I’m on my fourth in ten years) sends me in to ensure my chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (that’s acute daily pain-in-the-ass cluster headaches to you and me) is really just that. The scans are meant to provide confirmation to prove there is nothing structurally wrong with my brain. And while I should be confident these tests are accurate, I have had a long-held suspicion that I am one test away from being told, “Oh…we found something.” Obviously, I hope that never happens. However, I choose to live like that is what I have been told.
So my question is this. If you got a death sentence, how different would you be living your life? If you were to close your eyes, and picture your ideal life, how different would that be from your current reality?
Take a good look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Really honest. This is hard.
Would you still be hanging out in the same job, or doing the same thing with your days?
Would you choose to wake up every morning next to the person you do?
Would you die wishing you had done X but held back because you were too afraid? Or too ashamed? Or too (insert fear, apathy, etc.) here.
So what really stops us? If you were told you had a month to live, most of us would live out our remaining days very differently than we currently are. But what if it was a year? Or ten year death sentence? How much should that change things?
Our lives are a carefully constructed balance of social, financial, logistical, physical and work related dynamics. At any given time, these things intertwine and create a chaotic swirl which becomes uniquely our own life. While those dynamics never really go away, how we create and balance them may just be the thing we need to re-examine from time to time to ensure we are living the life we want to live.
It doesn’t happen overnight. I can’t just say, “I want to leave my career as an executive and become a professional musician.” I’d fail miserably this late in the game. But if music was truly my passion, I could set a more reasonable but still big goal by saying “By the end of 2014 I’m going to perform at an open mike night.” or “I’m going to book a gig at a club.” And then I could break that into smaller goals of playing my guitar every night for an hour. I could learn two new songs a week. And so on. I could turn my crazy dreams into manageable chunks and make them pretty realistic. And BAM. I’m one step closer to living the life I really want to be leading. (For the record, I’m not pursuing that dream.)
Here’s the other key piece. If I’m dying (or not dying, in my case), the last thing I want to be surrounded with is negativity. Get rid of it. If I’ve got a death sentence, I need to surround myself with positive people. If you have a s*itty attitude, or act as a victim, you don’t last very long in my world. We make our own way in the world. It’s acceptable to ask for help from those who can support you and those who inspire. It is not acceptable to sit around waiting for a fairly godmother to grant you wishes. None of us are entitled.
Take one final look in that mirror before you go to bed. Is that face staring back at you one that you can be proud of? One that you can think, “Yeah self, I’ve done you right. I have given this life the best I could. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made some good choices too. And at the end of the day, I am grateful for every day I had. I can die fulfilled.”
If you can’t say that, I might suggest you pick just one thing to change in your life. Start small.
Just edge closer to the live you were meant to live.
Sunday mornings before kids used to mean Miles Davis streaming through my kitchen, after a brief stroll down the Back Bay streets to grab warm bagels and coffee. Relaxing over the newspaper. No time pressure, no need to shower til later in the afternoon. Yeah…that was a really long time again.
Now Sunday mornings consist of getting up early and waiting for my groceries to be delivered. And if I am lucky, the Miles that exists in my life is my fuzzy buddy, Miles the dog.
Miles was/is my Jack Russell. He looks like Eddie from the 90’s show Frasier, and he has the personality of an incredibly bright, four year old child with ADD. He is seven years old now, and shows no signs of mellowing with age. He’s got the vertical leap of Michael Jordan in his prime, and can attach himself to a chew toy with such force, you can literally lift him a foot off the ground and make him appear as if he is “hula dancing” while he is clinging for life to his toy.
When my ex first left, Miles became the man of the house. And much to my dismay, I realized he might become my undoing. Even with the kids helping with his basic care, he was proving to be a little bit more than I could manage. And it crushed me to admit that. It already becoming overwhelming to take care of myself, the girls, the house, my work, etc. Add needing to get up to shovel out to let Miles out at 6 am in a snowstorm. Or helping him get his exercise when I was too exhausted at the end of a day. I had to be honest with myself and fair to Miles, and figure out a better solution for him.So I had to ask for help.
My special little guy who was chosen because the girls and I thought we saw a heart shaped patch of brown fur on his back is now in the custody of my ex and his fiancé. The fiancé owns a dog care business, so Miles has other dog friends, and gets plenty of exercise during the week. I think he is much happier. And about once a month, he comes back home for several days and visits us. He’s still a lot of work, but its so nice to have him back here. And when he instinctively runs back to my room and buries himself down deep under my covers (we call this “digging to China”) I know he understands that I was only looking out for his best interest and he forgives me.
Miles has offered me a lesson in loyalty and love. Our circumstances have changed, but we are still here for each other in whatever way works for each other. I will always watch him and care for him when they can’t. And I look forward to his visits, knowing that even though he isn’t here every day, he’ll always be my snuggly, fuzzy little friend who keeps my feet warm at night and my heart warm always.
So now here we are, Miles and I, crashed on the couch on this cold Sunday afternoon. He’s curled up at my side, listening to “Straight, No Chaser” by our other friend Miles. Awesome Sunday.