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PARTNERSHIP STRUGGLES? LET’S TALK PASSION!

Let’s DO IT! We’re adults, right? Let’s talk passion and, yes, sex. Contrary to current proper American beliefs, neither are dirty words! Besides, sex has three letters, not four. I consider most dirty, or “bad,” words to have four letters. Words such as hate, cook, and poop (the one that starts with “s” and rhymes with spit) top my “bad” list. Oh, and the “f ” word when used in all the angry and mean ways — that’s a yucky (technical term) four-letter word. I’m not referring to that either.

I’m referring to the kind of passion and sex (and, yes, even the “f ” word) that’s good, positive, and beautiful. The kind that connects and enhances the love between two people. I’m not advocating for or arguing against the tawdry business of the famous Red Light District in “anything goes” Amsterdam. Ditto for common corporate marketing plans – so unoriginal. They use tacky and desensitizing “sex sells” concepts. However, this isn’t about hearts and flowers and unicorns and rainbows either. Those concepts are all so “yesterday,” i.e. dated, unimaginative, and downright ordinary.

Instead, consider sex at its most primal. Sprinkle it with creative passion. Re-commit playfully.

(NOW we’re talkin’!)

BE BRAVE

Consider Esther Perel’s international bestseller. It’s in paperback: Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. She “offers a bold, provocative, new take on intimacy and sex.” She makes her point using man’s often limited ability to communicate his own needs, wants, and desires. She validates how we repeatedly face this confusion in our relationships without understanding why, women included.

One of her many amazing points: “Through sex, men can recapture the pure pleasure of connection without having to compress their hard-to-articulate needs into the prison of words.” Of course, this also goes for women.  We’ve been taught, directly and/or indirectly, that passion, sex, and/or sexuality, are bad, dirty, or only for making babies. Americans are, generally speaking, rather puritanical about this topic. (Maybe this attitude is contributing to high divorce rates in an era of immediate, and even extreme, gratification?)

When we compare notes about the “empty nest” syndrome, faced as our youngest children head to college or get off the parent-payroll, whispered adult conversations turn to taboo themes like “midlife crisis” and “marital abandonment.” Talk about a transitional period in relationships!

Photo by Edward Castro from Pexels

Usually, at this point, marriages break down, the very time when we’ve been given explicit permission to put ourselves on the top of the priority list! Years of dedication to Little League practices and piano recitals, endless homework and harried schedules have been rewarded by a return to life B.C. (Before Children) … only better.  We believe our little darlings will care for us when we’re old and doddering, while we (finally!) get to run around the house naked again and have sex in any room we choose!

HAVE PASSION

We’ve forgotten about that deep yearning we’d felt for our partners. We’ve forgotten what turned us on. We assume our spouses remember and freak out when they don’t. We’ve allowed our relationships, and really ourselves, to slip far down Life’s totem pole (pun intended). We’ve let go of sexual curiosity, sensual longing, and delicious passion we once shared with our now longtime partners. In short, we feel like strangers.

Provocative books and movies stir parental angst instead of adult curiosity. We assume we’re well past those “young, reckless, new love” stages. We’ve “matured” (read: aged), as have our marriages. Aren’t we supposed to speak about our older children or the latest community concerns (a.k.a. gossip)? How dull and mind-numbing!

Friends laugh when I, normally quite private and seemingly proper, so transparently share my absolute glee that sex is no longer for procreation but recreation! A few are always horrified at my unashamed honesty, while most seem relieved that I’ve said what they’ve wanted to: we need to still matter.

The characters in G.A.S.P., the first book in my trilogy (alert: shameless promotion happening), address these midlife transitions and concerns of partnership struggles, absent passion, and conforming (even prudish) sexuality. Does any of this resonate as true for you?

Photo by Ana Paula Lima from Pexels

RECONNECT

I’ve reasoned we unnecessarily age when we neglect our human need for physical contact through intimate touch. In so doing, we’ve neglected deep and meaningful parts of our partners and ourselves. Mrs. Perel’s premise speaks to my heart as well as my naughty playful spirit about sex, passion, and our spouses: “Can we desire what we already have?” I agree with her: YES WE CAN!

So, let’s do more than ignore, or just talk about, sex and passion. Instead of turning away from our spouses, let’s rediscover them. Enjoy what brought us together to begin with, what connected us…if you know what I mean.

 

GRADUATIONS EQUAL TRANSITIONS

Graduations … wow. It’s that time of the year again. No, not Christmas. Not that yet. It’s that time for endings. Curious timing for an ending when you think about it – essentially in the middle of the calendar year. The real issue is less about the ending. It’s more about the transitions both students and their families must process before the start of the next school year.

Most of us remember the heart-palpitating excitement, increasing frenetic energy, and wide-eyed thrill of the final bell ringing out the current school year. We’ve forgotten the impact of those transitions. In spite of how ready we felt for the next phase, a low current of fear coursed through our veins as to what was next.

The fear of the unknown.

For us now as parents, we face a similar but different kind of fear. One not so much about kids, although that does exist, rather more about ourselves. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Graduations

Eighth-grade “promotions” were deemed important to note the imminent start of high school. High school graduations signaled permanently-changed family dynamics. One little darling left the nest, siblings, and the comforts of home. Chores and responsibilities were left to be reshuffled. College graduations are more the mental game for us parents, shocked that our offspring are allegedly prepared to take responsibility to begin the rest of their lives. 

Likely, we are more shocked that we could be old enough to have children going to and/or graduating from college. (We can cover weddings and grandchildren in a future blog. I’m not quite there yet. This educational transition stuff is enough topic for one post!)

I Get You

This year, 2018, my husband and I face several of these blessed events. Our “baby” graduates from high school; our next “angel” graduates from college; and our eldest “brat” marries between winter holidays. My mother has lovingly suggested I take up drinking more Red Red Wine  (original version) … too bad I’m not much of a drinker.

In addition, we’ve put our house on the market to downsize. Talk about change! I’ve run to hide and share this experience with you, all while I finish the second book in that trilogy – yes, finally. (Fear not! Book 3 will not take as long!) … But I digress.

Spending too much time mourning the loss of your little pumpkin? Think you’re woefully inadequate now that they’re gone? Consider something more healing and forward thinking.

In fact, let me empower all parents.

Consider Yourselves

What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you still have “little ones” at home? Do you realize your role will change quickly? Ponder the possibilities. What does your kids’ post-secondary education picture look like for you? Determine what steps (if any) you need to take now to begin this major life transition. If you’re an empty nester and hadn’t considered a vocation beyond chief family cook and bottle washer, NOW is the time! If you’ve been petrified about this day for years but chiseling away at preparations, NOW is the time to take the next step!

Be like the amazing children you’ve raised: graduate. Transition. NOW is the time!

P. S. The above-mentioned transitions delayed this blog’s updates. My plan is to show up about once a month now. Of course, after I Cry Me A River (original version) and mourn at least one day (but not more than two) that my role as a parent has changed now … forever.

THANKSGIVING CONJURES ABUNDANCE

Thanksgiving abundance conjures up a myriad of images, doesn’t it? For some of us, it’s tons of family and friends gathered around a large table, spirited beverages flowing and boundless food laid out. For many, it’s quite the opposite. They’re alone, maybe homeless. Perhaps it’s even one of service to others. Everyone has his/her own take, own varied traditions.

What ever Thanksgiving means to and/or for you, the most valuable interpretation is the one that causes each of us to stop and appreciate the abundance in our lives. Maybe your wealth has manifested itself in terms of money, friends, opportunities, or simply peace and time to just think — a commodity often rare in these times of instant gratification, ever-changing technology, and over-scheduling. It may also have revealed itself as constant change and challenge. Again, how each is viewed determines its manifestation.

thanksgiving-corn-image

Have you been struggling to appreciate transitions, hardships, and challenges? You’re not alone. Who doesn’t at times? After all, why would any of us be thankful for problems? Aren’t there enough of them in the world?

Consider this: “Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.” Author Dan Brown wrote in his novel The Lost Symbol. He also said, “The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.” What does that mean?

It means in the shadows, or even the dark, issues may appear unfathomably huge. Yet, from a different vantage point, whether the change of companions, conversation, physical stance, or even different time of day, a new perspective, or light, can brighten and shrink those same issues down to more manageable sizes. Why not see everything, even gut-wrenching, tear-staining, mind-blowing anguish as an opportunity for growth?!

Since we’re talking about Thanksgiving, ponder the plight of the pilgrims in a strange new world; and, while at it, ponder the plight of the Native American Indians as their world was invaded by these strangers. Did they experience some hardships!

diamonds-loose-certified-1

Because we’re referencing hard and difficult, do you like sparkly or valuable things, like diamonds? Know what? It takes tremendous adversity, pressure, and time to make them, too!

 

ABUNDANCE ACTION STEPS

So when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, follow a few steps:

  • Breathe (contrary to popular belief, this is necessary).
  • Turn on some light, or stand up, or sleep on it.
  • See the abundance of opportunity (perspective change!).
  • Breathe again and “get after it!” (In the words of beloved high school football, girls’ soccer coach, and science teacher Scot Bemis, when he encouraged his teams and classes to keep practicing, keep fighting, keep reaching.)

This is truly appreciating the abundance and spirit of Thanksgiving every day.

LIFE’S TRANSTIONS: GOTTA COMMUNICATE!

Let’s cover husband/wife life transitions, since I’ve been on a roll about relationships lately. Hold on! Before you get your panties in a wad, allow me full disclosure: I communicate only what I know. I’m neither discriminating nor judging, and I guarantee transitions don’t either.

Every human being experiences change, such as birth, death, hiring, firing, marriage, and divorce to name a few. Such events are life altering. That’s a given, though we’re typically clueless while in the midst of them.

The transitions to which I’m referring, however, occur with and without warnings. Their impacts almost always catch us off guard, leaving us feeling as if we’ve been locked in a dark closet. Why? We’ve forgotten to communicate. Communication is the key.

EXAMPLES

A. When we had our kids, my husband and I knew they’d grow up, move out, and be off of the “family payroll.” (I don’t know too many adults who have children genuinely hoping they “never leave home.”) Know what’s caught us unprepared for their departures? Ourselves.

B. My husband and I started a business with two other couples as partners years ago. We all worked. As years passed, of the six of us, just two still work together. (Now for the tricky part) I’m not one of those two, our kids are growing and going, and I started my own business. (OK, here’s the other shoe drop) Neither my husband nor I expected me to be so unavailable while … working at home! Know what’s caught us unprepared? Ourselves.

TRANSITION BASIC: COMMUNICATE

Success magazine publisher/editor Darren Hardy once shared, “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” http://addicted2success.com/quotes/40-of-darren-hardys-most-popular-success-quotes/  Our lack of communication and connection locks us into a dark place. (Kind of basic, I know!)

When “roles” are defined as relationships start, an adjustment period exists. Two lives and households combining, etc. are causes for confusion as well as joy. We already know this. That’s why we talk about it (after lots of sex, likely).

What happens when “we” becomes “three” or more? Kids bring MORE adjustments, requirements, and transitions to their adults. There’s usually less talk and more bustling activity (usually less sex, too).

How about after kids are raised and gone? There’s “us” time now, right? If you’re still talking and have anything in common (let alone having any sex), maybe; otherwise, you’re unexpectedly thrown back to (almost) the beginning of your relationship, learning to talk with each other all over again, i.e. back to a basic.

Now, let’s get back to the core of this issue (it’s not about sex for this blog; that’ll be in a different one).

door-key

“DOOR” KEY

Instead of fumbling around in the dark, embrace various types and degrees of communication (yes, sex included). The key is to:

a. grasp expectations versus needs;
b. understand cycles of change and the opportunities they present;
c. accept change as inevitable and not necessarily bad.

(Good news: if done successfully, this can lead to more sex! Hey! Counts as communication AND connection, remember?)

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT

In G.A.S.P., the first book of my fictional trilogy, the story revolves around two ordinary people searching for more in life. When they get entangled in an international gold smuggling operation, it’s clear they’re not alone in life’s changes.

To sum it up: the key to unlock that dark closet of transition surprise is simply “real” conversations. Ask to understand, accept to cope, and evolve to ease life’s many transitions.

FATE? YES! COINCIDENCE? NO!

Coincidence or fate? Ever hear the phrase “everything happens for a reason”? Personally? I’m a passionate believer. Too many things have happened in my life for this to be anything but the truth. This concept appears in my book G.A.S.P. too.

Indulge me a moment.

SCENARIO 1

One of my daughters loved high school so much; she couldn’t even stomach talking about graduating, let alone college hunting. As she tearfully departed for that first day of her senior year, I prayed for an eye-opener.

Aware of a newly hired principal, I never expected relief on this front. Since Management 101 dictates learning about one’s new environment prior to making changes, I knew my daughter was about to enjoy “running” the school – as all seniors do. Thankfully, the new principal never took that class. FATE.

More on this in a moment.

SCENARIO 2

For weeks, life’s hectic timetable had controlled my novel writing schedule. I’d grumbled more than a few times, much to the chagrin of my family, about my frustrations. On one overloaded day, it was no different.

Headed westbound to drive the afternoon school carpool, I sat patiently at a major intersection’s red light. The freeway overpass hustled into action as the light turned green; traffic proceeded as usual. What wasn’t usual was the sedan making a left turn on red off the exit ramp, into three-lanes of oncoming traffic with the green light. I was in the far right lane when she hit me head-on. FATE.

I’ll circle back to this, too.

alaska-gold-nuggets-in-a-gold-panning-pan-bgk6fy

SCENARIO 3

My husband and I attended a wrap-up dinner the last night of a national catering conference. Informative sessions were over, and it was time to socialize and network. All attendees looked forward to this final event, as it reflected the flavors and fun of the hosting city. Quirky Portland, Oregon was ready to share why IFC show Portlandia, “Put a Bird On It.”  http://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia

“My Semester-at-Sea experience led me to lifetime contacts around the country,” a young caterer shared, as we continued our bus ride conversation on the coat check line.

“So, who lives farthest from Atlanta (where he’s based) that you’re still in touch with?” I asked.

“One of my closest friends from that semester is a gold miner in Alaska—”

“Sorry to interrupt, but did you say a gold miner? In Alaska?”

“Yes! Crazy, right? Why?” He noticed the very shocked look on my face.

“The opening scene in my first novel happens in Alaska. Gold mining plays a big role in it as well.” FATE.

BRING IT FULL CIRCLE

Fate versus coincidence isn’t a new concept in books either. In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, fictional Professor Robert Langdon shared with one of his classes that “connections may be invisible … but they are always there.” Time to come full circle with my above-mentioned scenarios and exemplify destiny’s evident existence.

The new high school principal had so ignored the basic 101 class that my daughter’s tearful morning departure made an about-face by day’s end. She was on a mission after that to graduate and move on! At first saddened by the way this four-year experience would end, I saw Fate’s gift answering my prayers.

That head-on collision was Fate heeding my desire to finish my book. I needed a cleared calendar to recover from the accident (I’m healthy again) and find another car (mine was totaled). Her “gift” provided enough time to also finish G.A.S.P.

Regarding the catering conference: I needed to leave Arizona to attend it in Portland, Oregon to meet a young professional from Atlanta, Georgia to find a genuine Alaskan gold miner to authenticate storylines in G.A.S.P. as well as for books 2 and 3.

That’s FATE people!

P.S. G.A.S.P. main characters, Julie and Dane, are two ordinary people who cross paths after decades apart. They embark on an adventure that changes their lives forever. Fate or coincidence? Read G.A.S.P. and you decide. Let me know your thoughts, and I may use them in book #2 AND include you in my acknowledgements.

TRANSITIONS INEVITABLE DAILY

They forgot to tell us about transitions. In fact, there are actually three things in life that are inevitable: death, taxes and change (a.k.a. transitions), not two. As our kids return to school, those inevitable’s are really clear. Disagree? Now you’re only kidding yourself. I know. I’m making you think. Ponder a few thoughts with me.

DEATH

Usually, (illness aside) death isn’t pinned to a specific date — unless you’re a parent of a first-year preschooler or a high school/college freshman. Then, the date is, exact. However, unexpected are the feelings that arise.

Here’s an example. When my three-year-old first went to preschool, I was so excited to have even a small window of time to myself (2.5 hours!) regularly (twice weekly). While my husband and I stood proudly by Mrs. Ranier’s classroom door, our daughter gleefully swept in ready for the morning’s activities. She didn’t even turn to wave! Meanwhile, two other sets of parents were attempting to pry their little darlings’ hands off them. Those poor babies clung desperately to life as they’d known it for three “whole” years.

Bet you’re trying to figure out if I’m referring to the parents or the toddlers? Well, according to child psychologists, either and/or both! https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/separation-anxiety  That’s for a different blog. Meanwhile, here’s my point: I wasn’t certain if my daughter was just very confident and ready to take on the world, or if I was the worst mother from whom she couldn’t escape fast enough! With wistful smiles, Mrs. Ranier bid us adios, and we opted to keep our adult coffee date.

I walked to my car (we drove separately so my husband could leave our date for work), closed the door, turned it on, blasted the a/c, and sobbed. Yep. That first day, she’d barely attended an introductory hour, and I sobbed as if this was forever.

The truth? I was right … and wrong. Of COURSE she hadn’t disappeared. However, the untainted and uncorrupted soul I’d known for three years was. She was, actually, entering an environment she’d be in for the next 19 years: school. You do realize those places are filled with other kids, experiences, and information outside of you, right?! We’ll cover going to college in a moment.

change arrows

TAXES

We pay emotional ones every time our bundles of joy walk out the door for a first anything. Sports tryouts, musical auditions, final exams, new schools. Get the idea? We aren’t experiencing them ourselves; we’ve had our turn. Our compassion meters run high — quite taxing.

TRANSITIONS

Now this is important to attempt to grasp, folks: CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. It’s the one constant you can count on every single day of your life. When we headed to college with our firstborn, I was woefully unprepared for the impending parental evolution. (Remind me to take this one up with my mom!) The tsunami of feelings when we left her there was off the charts!

So, my youngest leaves our nest in just two years. Am I finally prepared? I’ll get back to you on this; I’m not there yet. The “empty nest” is regularly touted as awesome (i.e. sex in every room of the house, faraway travel, and laundry cut by at least a third).

School transitions are a challenge for all of us. Desperate to have my despair validated, I’ve looked them up. http://patch.com/new-jersey/springfield/bp–permission-to-grieve-when-your-children-go-away-to-college.  My intense despondency has been mocked. “Maybe you need help through modern medicine or wine!” I’d felt more prepared for the joys than the sorrows of less responsibility; remaining teens getting their driver’s licenses (= freedom to not drive them around); and mind space to think about new things for myself. But I seemed to need permission to grieve — even just from myself! Legitimately, I was transitioning from the mom of three to two and now just one. How I’ve shepherded all these years was over!

MOVING ON

Sure, I’m moving on, and, in the future, I may share the day we dropped each of them off at college. (I do still have one to go.) My analogy is horrifying, hilarious, and accurate. If you want me to share sooner rather than later, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See? Transitions are certain. The good news though? We’re not alone pondering them.

The Backstory: G.A.S.P. The Author’s Side

G.A.S.P. !! Did you ever get up in the middle of the night because of:

• a bad dream
• a strange visual
• or your spouse wanting something? (wink)

Well, that’s what happened to me with G.A.S.P. ’s main story line, only the story kept nudging and pushing me like a pesky kid needing attention all night AND all day. So, I kept writing scenes and ideas down, because I felt compelled to remember them … haunted by them really … and hadn’t a clue yet as to why!

Meanwhile, you’ve heard the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come,” right (or some similar version)? ( http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear/ ) At the same time the nightmares, dreams, and daydreaming were taking up my mental bandwidth, I was grappling with my life’s purpose P.C. (Post-Children). Raising children and starting a business with my husband has been extremely time-consuming, so it’s no surprise that it took me years to figure out my life’s next chapters. (Thank the Universe for my coaches and friends!) With my background in journalism, it was time to embrace my writing and to include people in it, thus empowering them with words through stories. When I finally woke up, this story started to make sense and wouldn’t leave me alone! In fact, the entire trilogy is about transitions, control and love. But what inspired me specifically about this trilogy?

Real life! Writers tend to write:

• what interests them
• what they know
• or about events and/or experiences that have touched them.

All events, plots, and twists, in this trilogy are fictional; so are all the characters, who are compilations of any two to five people I actually know! The very realistic dialogue came from conversations I’ve been privy to, overheard, had, or imagined that these characters would have had. G.A.S.P. ’s characters allowed me to share their self-talk (or internal thinking), so readers witness and are drawn into their personal conflicts as they questioned themselves and their life choices.

We all do this daily, but we rarely speak openly of our own needs and internal storms, which usually erupt when forced through trauma … often when it’s too late. Can you relate to this? “Who can’t?” You ask yourself. I know for many years I struggled with how to be there for my family as mom/wife, yet simultaneously needed as new business owner/partner/operator. Still, I was a human being (not a human doing) first. Tricky on many levels.

With all of that being said, we, humans, must learn to own our choices. I finally did when I embraced writing things other than business letters and high school sports’ updates. I hope you enjoy the evolution of this fascinating journey of writing with me.

 

jill maxwell