A Pathway Guaranteed to End A Relationship

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Yeah, well, when you are sitting at a table in your favorite coffee shop gazing into the eyes of the most beautiful human being you’ve ever met in your life, the last thing you are thinking about is a break up. Life is too full of sunshine and joy to ever imagine this could end. In fact, break ups happen to anyone and everyone else. A crushing end is the furthest thing from your mind. Besides, you’re too busy just being in the moment and loving every second.

Now, close your eyes. Breath deeply for a moment. Feel the pure joy. Feel the tangible happiness. Feels great! Right?

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Likewise, imagine, you’re sitting in the office of a company that you desperately want to work for. You’ve just completed an interview that you are confident went really well. You admire the manager who has so eloquently conducted the interview and you are certain that together the two of you will do amazing things for the success of the company. You just know it.

Take a mental picture. You’re gonna need it.

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Here’s the thing, a lot of my relationship lessons have been learned after-the-fact or at best mid-stream while trying to keep my head above the water so I didn’t completely drown.

Do you know how painful that is? How many painful hours I have spent in tears -wondering, “What went wrong?”

I sat chair side for some of the best dentists in the USA for almost 20 years and one message I heard repeatedly over those years was “preventive medicine is the best medicine” or “early detection increases the chances of a successful outcome.” What we don’t know can and does hurt us. Knowledge is power (just saying that makes me want to dust off my superhero cape, except I don’t have one. Can I borrow yours? Please?). But it’s true.

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A cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best-outcome with a side of everything-will-work-out-fine because we are wonderful people approach isn’t working. It’s painful. And confusing.

After my marriage of 18 years ended, I was crushed. I had no self-esteem left. I had no working knowledge for how to go through a divorce (because I wasn’t ever going to be a divorcee) or deal with the court system. My philosophy was justice and truth will prevail (where is that cape?). I learned the hard way that there are loop holes in the system, not knowing what you are doing will kick you right in the seat of the pants and you can loose because the guy on the judge’s bench is just a guy trying to figure it all out. He doesn’t have knowledge about your life therefore, he has to hold the stories up against the law and the best story wins.

Believe me, it was another, “What went wrong?” kind of day. In the infamous words of Madia, “what had happen was” in my emotional state of mind, I handed the decision making power over my life to a guy who knew nothing about me or my values. Believe me, this knowledge is now knowledge with power behind it. I won’t do that again.

We need to know. We need the how to’s for life.

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We all desire, hope for and even long for strong relationships that make our lives happier, brighter, more worthwhile. We are ecstatic when we find them. We don’t plan for the very relationships we longed for to become the bane of our existence. Yet, if we don’t learn and apply skills in a proactive way, we are putting our relationships at risk of failure.

And no one wants to fail.

Whether it’s a friendship, business, career, community or family relationship, we enter the relationship full of hope that we can succeed.

I learned the hard way. Please let me share some information about this painful pathway before you start taking the hike.

There are warning signs when a relationship begins to break down. No one goes to sleep one night and wakes up the next morning and announces, “I’m done. I’m not going to do this anymore. It’s been real. I’ve had a lot of fun but I’m just stopping now”. Long before you quit, you can see big flashing red signs that say, “This is not working for me!”

Communication breakdown is the most common reason given for failed relationships of all kinds. It’s like the doorway to the dark side. Once you walk through it, the temptation to give into other destructive behaviours seems like a vacuum tunnel that pulls you away from your core focus.

If you want to guarantee relationship failure all you have to do is allow communication to make a wrong turn and travel the pathway of criticism followed by contempt then defensiveness and finally stonewalling. This pathway is fatal. You can avoid even stepping one foot onto it.

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Strong communication is a two-way street. The issue at hand is considered and all participants in the relationship contribute. Ideas are weighed and a decision is made. Gosh, that sounds so simple. Bam. Problem solved. Right?

Effective communication is like a dance. Moving together provides a beautiful flow. You might step on each other’s toes a few times but you correct the wrong move and continue dancing. The problem starts at the point where the ideas we offer are met with criticism. “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!”, “Who thinks like that? Stupid idea”, “Look, my way of thinking is the only way to go and well, I can’t even imagine why you think like you do.” Critical reactions leave us fearful of opening up. We feel foolish, rejected and unheard. If this occurs often, we make the decision to shut down. “It’s not worth it. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself”.

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This feels like a safe solution. Problem is the heart then takes a second step on the pathway. Criticism leads to contempt. Dear one, contempt starts quietly in the deepest, darkest part of your heart. Left unchecked it spreads like wild fire. Believe me. Contempt is the birthing place for disrespect. Here, we might begin to speak under our breath and say things like (I’ll be nice here although usually, we aren’t so kind) “Idiot”, “Jerk”. This stage is most common for women. Do you recognise these comments: “Fine”, “Nothing”, “Go ahead”, and “Whatever”? We joke about women giving these answers. But it’s really not funny. She is signalling to you (spouse, boss, friend) that you aren’t valuing her input and she resents it. Feelings of disgust and disdain begin to surface to the point that she is disregarding the person altogether.

Contempt shifts the focus from the issue to how we now feel about the person. Remember, you have heard me share the wisdom that as a man thinks in his heart so is he? Basically, that means what you entertain in your heart becomes behaviour. In the case of contempt this is where it starts getting ugly. The saying “beautiful inside and out” turns to “ugly to the bone”. Contempt is where this change begins.

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We might think that we are hiding our true feelings even if we don’t say “it” to their face. But we’re not. Contempt shows. It begins to scream at the other person, “I can’t stand you!”

Still have that mental picture stored in your mind’s eye? This is not how you felt about this person when you first met, is it? The warm fuzzies are quickly dissipating.

Typically, when contempt is used the next step is defensiveness. One or both parties can experience this. Becoming defensive is a very normal response to being treated with contempt. Defensiveness is really a way of blaming the other person. In effect, we are saying the problem isn’t me, it’s you. The original problem isn’t resolved but the conflict has just escalated.

Dee's photos 2260

Once the conflict has escalated, one or both parties will tune the other person OUT! This is known as building up walls or stonewalling. This is more common in men. It’s what my husband calls “too hard”. I have learned in NZ that if someone here says, “Too hard” whether it’s work, marriage, or a friendly conversation, they are telling the world that they are done. They are not talking about it anymore. They are not responding. They are finished. Now, my husband and I have learned to stop for a while, go think about our approaches and come back to it later.

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We have finally come up with a plan that refocuses us back to the issue so that we are working together again. However, if you don’t rethink the “how to” approach communication properly this is the stage that people quit. Marriages end. Teenagers just walk away. I have quit jobs. I have quit and sat in silence for far too many days on end with family members. I have walked away from friendships without giving the relationship a fair chance. I think we all have. This left me miserable and wounded deep with my heart. This is where we begin to misplace our ability to trust other people and close our hearts so tightly that no one can get in.

Closed down behind a stone wall is not what we bargained for. We want to be happy. We want to succeed. We want abundance.

We can turn this whole thing around or prevent even travelling down this pathway if we are willing to look honestly at the warning signs and change direction.

It can be as simple as applying the right skills. If the situation is advanced to a dangerous place, help might be necessary. However, preventive measures are more beneficial than attempting to repair or revive a failing relationship.

No matter where you are in your relationship journey, you can get off this destructive path.

Let me know what you think. Was this helpful? Do you know someone who might benefit from this information, please feel free to share it with them.

The sun is shining bright today, I think I’ll take my husband out for a walk.
Have a great day!
D

One Flaw in Women

Dee Clark:

I think this is beautiful. I hope you enjoy.

Originally posted on Morning Story and Dilbert:

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert – November 7, 1991

Women have strengths that amaze men…..IT IS THAT
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in..
They stand up to injustice.
They don’t take “no” for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there…

View original 98 more words

Teaching Children the Art of Negotiation and Ending Squabbles

2013-04-13 14.31.06.jpgSiblings squabble. My darling grand babies are no different. They are learning to interact with the world by interacting with each other. Both of these two possess precious hearts but sometimes they disagree. Don’t we all? Learning to share, finding peaceable solutions to conflict and dealing with irritations can be difficult. Even as adults we know how hard working together rather than against each other can be.

They love to come to my house and enjoy a bit of spoiling. They love to explore all the places I will be “grandmommie” and bend the day to day rules of home. We stay up late. We eat lots of sugar. We choose what we want for dinner minus any of the yucky stuff we don’t want to eat. It’s a short amount of time and well, it’s nothing but time for guilty pleasure.

They love to play on my iPad and at bedtime, we pick a movie that they can watch before finally closing their eyes to sleep. However, these two activities can be a real opportunity for squabbles to occur. Jake wants Spider-Man and Ella wants all things Barbie. Jake wants lots of time on the iPad and Ella just wants, well, want she wants when she wants it.

Squabbling makes me cringe. I didn’t like it as a child with my own siblings, with my own children and I don’t like it with my grands.

I decided that I would take the opportunity to teach them a life skill, the art of negotiation. We started with the bedtime movie. And it worked nicely. You might find this helpful with your own children or grand children.

I set down a few rules:
1. They must come to an agreement together. No bullying. No pulling rank. No twisting each other’s arms (literally).
2. Both must win in the decision. This means that neither may get everything they originally wanted.
3. They must speak kindly and not argue.
4. If they can’t agree, we do nothing until they can agree or we do something else. We might read together instead or go straight to sleep without a movie.
5. They have 10 minutes to work on a decision.

I walked out of the room and listened at the door. Ella announces, “Yip, Barbie. We will choose Barbie, k, Jake?” “Norrr! I hate Barbie!” (Their NZ accent has an “r” sound in the word “no” ☺️).

I listen as they discuss their wants, give their reasons and list options. It was quite cute.

At the end of the allotted time, I re-entered the room for their decision.

“We are going to watch Yogi Bear. We both like Yogi.” Bam. Done. Both have smiles. Both are happy with the decision.

When it comes to time on the iPad, they have become even more sophisticated with their skills. They have learned to negotiate the terms before they even ask me for the IPad. “We are going to have 20 minutes each. ” (I usually allow 10 minute increments if I decide). “That’s a long time to wait. Are you both happy with that?” “Yip, we are both happy with that.” They set the timer and take their turns. If someone goes over the allotted time, they have even come up with a fair way to correct the situation.

When they can’t agree they allow chance to make the decision; we toss a coin or they each choose a number between 1-10 and I hold the secret number behind my back. Several times, I have explained to them that this method means that one of them looses while the other person gets fully what they want. I explain that they can’t annoy the other person or say mean things if they are the one who looses. And they have decided the fun of seeing who wins is worth the risk.

They have agreed. Both honor the agreement. Both understand their turn will come.

Negotiation is an important life skill. Coming to terms with the fact that we don’t always get everything exactly the way we want it when we want it is important to dwelling together in peace. It teaches good communication skills, understanding another person’s point of view, listening skills and problem solving.

Children like having choices. I think, learning life skills, like negotiation, early in life can make adult decisions easier later on. Finding areas in their lives that we can offer them the opportunity to discuss how they want to do things will build confidence. A few areas to begin teaching negotiation skills could be sharing entertainment equipment, what they want to wear, when to do homework (immediately after school or after dinner), or who rides gun-shot.

Children will need support, clear guidelines and good examples from adults. They also need to learn to ask for help. Sometimes, at school or on the playground, other children may not have the skills they are learning. When they get into difficult situations, knowing they can find help with mediation is also a useful skill.

Do you have other tips for teaching children to negotiate effectively? Please share them with us in the comments section. I value your insight.
D

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

IMG_0022.JPGThis month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So, I thought it would be a good time to share this part of my journey. I am a breast cancer survivor. I am nothing less than a miracle. I’m not lucky -no one who faces cancer feels lucky. Sometimes, I still cry and feel a little guilty. That may seem strange but I don’t take my recovery for granted. I know that many wonderful women fight a battle for life against breast cancer and loose. That fact alone causes my throat to constrict and my eyes fill with tears.

As a young woman, I had recurring cysts and fibrous lumps that required attention. There was a history of breast cancer on my mother’s side of the family but I really was pretty relaxed in my approach to the whole process. I understood that having a “family history” of breast cancer increased my chances of having the disease but honestly, I thought I had nothing to worry about. I never imagined that it would to happen to me. Cancer and Dee were not synonymous.

In 2002, I went for my usual two yearly mammogram. I knew the drill quite well by then. Put on the beautiful hospital gown. Wait for my turn to have my chest compressed in the vice grip type machine. Get dressed and wait the next two weeks for the results. Usually, I would receive a simple phone call with negative results. Easy peasy. True to form, when the results came back from the lab, my doctor’s office called with the “all clear”. I apathetically responded, “That’s good to know.” That was it. Another one (mammogram) bites the dust.

However, a week later, near the end of my work day, my cell phone rang and it was my doctor. Not the nurse. But the doctor himself. “Could you come in and see me?” Sure. No problem. I offered to schedule something with the receptionist for the next week. “No, I need you to come now. Today.” Today? It was nearly after hours. Shouldn’t he be heading home soon? My plan was to get home…I had had a long day. He insisted that I come right away but he offered no further information.

The conversation made me uneasy. I called my BFF and asked if she would go with me…and she did.

When we arrived at the office, I climbed up onto the exam table and my friend and I chatted away, as we do.

When the doctor entered the room, he informed me that he had revisited my mammogram films and had found some suspicious spots. “It looks like cancer and we need to run some more tests”.

I had heard the stories my mother told about what my grandmother faced in her battle with cancer. Grandma Levin lost her battle to breast cancer long before I was born and when my mother was just a teenager. Suddenly, those stories began to flash before my mind’s eye as if they were my impending future.

Fear gripped my heart. I didn’t want to have cancer. I didn’t want to die. Suddenly, I was faced with immortality. I wasn’t invincible. Cancer was no longer a story about someone I’d never met. This was real and there was nothing I could do about it. In fact, it was one more negative life issue that reinforced the lie I had come to believe about my life, “Nothing good in my life lasts. I’m not meant to be happy.” If you have ever faced loss, tragedy, or life altering circumstances, you understand the whirlwind of thoughts that your mind can whip at you.

My children were young and I wanted to be here. I wanted watch them grow up, marry and have children. I didn’t want to miss one moment. And selfishly, I didn’t want to be forgotten or a distant memory. I had much to live for and I saw it all flash through my thoughts in a manner of seconds. The mental picture panicked me. I felted stunned and breathless.

My friends, family and church all swung into action to offer support, prayers and encouragement. I am forever grateful. Love seemed to flow toward me from every direction.

All the support around me was comforting.

Yet, this part of my journey was a journey I had to make on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I leaned on my family and friends. However, this fight was mine. I know that there are many people who do not acknowledge that there is a God but for me, when I was faced with the possibility of the end of my life, I reached for faith and I cried out to God.

I had no plan. I didn’t know what to do. And I was terrified.

I relied on my doctor for practical steps. He wanted to run tests. We ran the tests. He wanted me to change my diet. We changed my diet. Step by step, I walked the treatment path.

My pastors encouraged my spirit. They encouraged me to not give in to the fear. I gathered as much courage as I could find in my heart (sometimes it was small). They encouraged me to hold onto my faith. I clung to it. They agreed to pray with me. We prayed. Often.

My family and friends encouraged me not to give up. I didn’t give up. They encouraged me to think positively. I worked to keep my thoughts away from tragic ends and fear.

I am grateful that, in the end, healing was my story. I survived.

Thank you to all of you that were my rocks of support. I love you dearly.

I know there are many women who have fought this battle and won. As well, I am sensitive to the fact that many have lost their battle but fought a brave fight.

The fact that I can share my story is a miracle to me. A miracle for which I am forever grateful. Twelve years later, I am cancer free. I am thankful to have watched my children grow into beautiful adults. I am enjoying two young grand children. I plan to hang around and secretly muse as they cause their mother to want to pull her hair. I’ll plan to celebrate tender moments, well earned successes and enduring memories. My life is a gift.

Today, I celebrate in the company of other survivors and I honour those who have bravely fought but are no longer here. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

Also, I encourage you to look after your body, to look for the signs, to see your medical specialists. I can not stress strongly enough the importance of being informed, knowing your own breasts and recognising the breast cancer signs. Early detection for any disease is vital. We live in a face paced world. Putting off check-ups, mammograms or doing self breast exams is far too easy. But DON’T put it off. Without strong healthy bodies, accomplishing all of the other things we have to accomplish becomes impossible. Please do it now, if you haven’t already.

For those of you who may be bravely in the midst of this fight…keep fighting, keep believing, and keep leaning. We know you are being as brave as you possibly can. Remember, you are not alone. You are loved.

D

The photo above is my son. This was a football game the team dedicated to the women in their lives who had been through the breast cancer fight. Needless to say this photo is a precious treasure to my heart.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

 

 

 

 

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

deeclarknz.comI have many wonderful friends and family who have contributed to the success of my blog by sharing their artistic flare through photography. A little over a year ago, I met some of my mother’s family living in Mexico. Andrea LeKare is my cousin’s 15 year old daughter who is passionate about photography, modelling and many other common, teenage interests. When Andrea agreed to contribute her photos to my blog, I found these photos and have been waiting for an opportunity to highlight her beautiful work. I think that they fit nicely for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction.

 

I think the photos are stunning. I hope that you enjoy.

D

Reflections and Self Worth

IMG_8745.JPGReflections represent an original. The reflections of our mind recall past events, images and experiences. The reflection of water, mirrors or metallic surfaces project an image through a filter of light and surface. The reflection of character, behaviours and achievements provide insight to the inner person.

IMG_8744.JPGThe quality of the reflection depends strongly on the clarity of the surface being used to produce the reflection.

Looking for a reflection of our self-worth and value from another person is like looking into a cracked mirror in order to access our appearance. Hurting souls can reflect brokenness and pain. Therefore, allowing our self-worth and value to depend on the perception others reflect back to us is unhealthy. When someone we love treats us in an unloving way for prolonged amounts of time, there is a tendency to view ourselves as unlovable. Yet, the reflection is distorted. Their broken heart will not provide an accurate reflection of love.

Nor will young women find their body image correctly reflected through trends, magazines or movie stars. When I view my short legs, thick thighs and curvy structure to the model industry standard, I will always come up wanting. The key is to shape the view of my body on a true reflection.

Our mind sees what it believes, according to the Discovery Channel. I have known many beautiful women who could not see their beautiful uniqueness because of their belief based on external reflections. Those reflections tormented and haunted them to the point of misery.

Reflections are a tool…only a tool. They can help us repair, adjust, fix, or improve the original but they are never intended to be the truest representation of the original.

IMG_8746.JPGThe still water serves as a mirror for the tree, and its reflection is what makes the photograph sing. -unknown

The image sings only because of the stillness of the water.

IMG_8747.JPGSamantha Pearson is a contributing photographer for my blog. Although, I did not take this photo, it demonstrates my point about reflections. The beautiful sculpture is reflecting it’s surroundings yet the snow and the curvature of the piece distort the images it portrays. The truest beauty can be seen by simply turning from the reflection to the original.

In my journey, I have learned the value in turning from distorted reflections to look at the original standard for which I was created. Only then can I be the singing image that portrays that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

D

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Reflections and Shadows

A Long Walk Off A Short Pier

IMG_2075.JPGI don’t think my dad has ever used a curse word in his 74 years of life. As a kid, I often heard him say, “Take a long walk off a short pier.” He had a dry sense of humor but sometimes I thought that this was his nice way of telling someone to “Take a hike.” Funny how we remember things we hear from childhood.

When I looked at this photo this week, my dad’s quip immediately came to mind. I could just imagine a walk right off the end of this little pier.

My entry this week is more nostalgic than it is anything else. No beautiful path. Just a reminder that hurtful words can not be recaptured and that how we use our words is important.

In the movie, Step Mom, the biological mother often tells her son to “use his words”.

Words are a powerful tool. By adding some thought before use, we accomplish so much more.

I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane today as my entry for Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge 2014 #16.

Hey, the weekend is not far away. Have you had a good week?
D

Phoneography Challenge: Macro (Learning What My IPhone Can Do)

I was inspired this week by my new blogging friend, Janet, from This, That and The Other Thing. I had no idea that my Iphone would take macro photos…I know, I’m pretty shocking when it comes to technical knowledge. However, learning new things is one of the things that I really enjoy about the blogosphere.

When I saw Janet’s photo, followed by a few helpful tips that she offered (Thanks, Janet!) and a fresh morning rain, I ran outside with my IPhone and snapped a few photos. I was sceptical. Luckily, my IPhone did most of the work and Janet’s tips helped heaps.IMG_2067.JPG
IMG_2068.JPGI have an IPhone 4 but I think it did pretty well. The photos are a little grainy which is the only complaint I have ever had about my phone. So, I decided to grab my husband’s IPhone 5 and shot a few more photos to make a comparison. (Shhh, I was really trying to build a convincing case for an upgrade on my phone!)IMG_2069.JPG
IMG_2070.JPGMy husband is a marine farmer so he has an aqua-safe case that encases the phone which produced the yellow tint. Other than the coloration, the IPhone 5 is slightly clearer.

What do you think? Do I need a new phone? 😉

Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Macro