Mid-life love is a blessing — even without the happy ending

When you throw your whole heart into something, it’s hard to pull your whole heart out. It takes time, sometimes a long time.

Sometimes you can’t muster a big, bratty smile; you can’t rip the rug out from under heartbreak. And that’s OK. Sometimes a brat just needs a little time.

A few years ago, a friend of mine made a video to celebrate his milestone birthday. He decided to interview his former girlfriends and those of his closest buddies because he and his friends were turning the same age. He wanted to get the women’s perspective on who the guys had been, back in the day.

Deepening your heart

I was a former girlfriend of one of his friends so he interviewed me. When he asked if there was value in reflecting on your past and how relationships change you, I said yes and that, “You’re the same person you were but hopefully with everything that happens you become a lot more comfortable in your own skin, a lot less self-conscious and your heart gets deeper…too.”

Those last few words are especially poignant for me now because I recently broke up with that friend, after dating him for several years.

What happened to cause it, is not something I can fix. That is what makes it so hard. This is one of the biggest losses of my life. It is not the outcome I want but maybe it’s what he wants. Regardless, it seems I have to let it go.

Soulful connection

It is also hard because I was extraordinarily blessed by that relationship and so was he. We had a connection that many people search their whole lives to find.

If you are smiled on by the gods, you may connect with someone you love in a way you didn’t even know was possible. Somehow, the deepest part of you, the soul of you really, connects with the soul of the other person.

It’s not an emotional, mental or physical connection and you don’t instigate it. You have nothing to do with it; you are just a witness. When it first happened I phoned to tell him but before I could speak he said very softly, “I know Kath, I felt it too.”

The lesson

Before this happened, I never knew that some people are blessed to have that kind of connection. After it happened, I thought that a relationship with that at its core, could never fail. But there are no guarantees, no fairy tale endings. 

The blessing

The blessing is that it did happen. I have the memory of that tender, sweet, extraordinary closeness and that is a lasting gift.

Being a brat is about going deep, not just skimming along the surface of life. It’s about having the courage to be vulnerable, to offer your whole self with faith that you will be loved, flaws and all. Maybe that’s why the gods give you a blessing like this once in a while.

The little girl in me still hopes for a fairy tale ending, but the brat in me will wrestle that out of her.

What he and I had was real and that will have to be enough.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

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Taking a birds-eye view of your challenges gives you fresh perspective

Did you ever wish you could fly? Ever wish you could just soar above everything? Get a fresh perspective?

I have. I even used to dream about flying when I was a kid. It was the one recurring dream I had and it was awesome!

Free as a Bird

My dad designed and built our house; he and my mom bricked the whole thing.

The house had a big picture window in the centre. Directly below that was the garage with a long driveway leading up to it.

There was a high bank of lawn on the left side of the garage driveway and a high bank of lawn on the right.

In my dream I would fly high above the left lawn, arms stretched out wide, swoop down over the low driveway, then up and over the right side of the lawn. After a few passes, I’d swing up even higher where I could see everything.

It was such a rush!

They say dreaming about flying is related to feelings of empowerment and freedom which makes sense. 

How have you been ‘seeing’ your challenges?

But I’m writing about birds-eye views because I’ve been reading a great new book called, “Stop Playing Safe,” by Margie Warrell.

The book is all about how to take more risks, overcome fear and become more courageous in your career — and your life.

Stop Playing Safe and Luna

(people, not cats)

Warrell suggests that taking a birds-eye view of your challenges can really help you see them more objectively. 

Imagine you are looking down at your life right now. How do you see it?

“So try to observe how you’ve been observing things. Observe the critical judgments that you make. Step back and notice the type of lens through which you view your life. Is it tinted with optimism or pessimism, excitement or anxiety, anticipation or dread, confidence or self-doubt? Notice how that lens shades your interpretation — of people, situations and yourself — and consider how those interpretations may be serving you and how they may be failing to serve you.”

You may discover that how you’ve been seeing things has caused some of your stress and unhappiness.

This non-judgmental way of looking at your own thoughts says Warrell, can help you tame the ones that are no longer serving you.

What would Steve Jobs do?

She also suggests you think about how someone else, looking down at your life as you are now, might see your challenges.

If they were to see what you’re dealing with (and how you’re dealing with it) what might they suggest you do differently?

Thinking from the perspective of someone else, can give you lots of fresh ideas. Those ideas can spawn solutions to get you unstuck and moving forward.

Warrell suggests you think about your situation from the perspective of inspiring people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, George Washington, Warren Buffet, your favourite writer… 

“Free as a Bird”

I’m going to go do that right now —  just as soon as I watch this flying video.;)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

What your shopping quirks reveal about you

Ever notice the quirky little things you can’t resist doing in a store?

You know, obsessively alphabetizing the DVDs in the sales bin. Or neatly folding — in thirds — all the jammed up jeans.

Shirt buttons

I am a compulsive shirt un-buttoner.

I have to undo the first two or three buttons and loosen the shirt up a bit, right there on the hanger. Can’t help it. 

My coat buttons in the dead of winter, are another story. I do not like being cold. But shirts are made to be undone.

Those first few buttons are meant to weigh down the shirt just enough so that each side falls away from my neck.

I can breathe, the shirt can breathe, everybody’s happy — except the scowling sales clerk behind me, buttoning up the rejects.

I’m glad I am not a guy; I’d never have mastered that buttoned up shirt and tie thing.

Touchy-feely books

When I see raised words on the cover of a book, I have to touch them. I cannot resist. And, if those words are in a metallic colour (sigh) like gold, copper, silver, blue or red, I am a bee to honey!

Perdita book cover

Books are a tactile experience. People who love books will tell you this. Feeling real leather, raised type, the texture of the paper — these things are as much a part of the experience of buying a book as the words inside.

What are the things you can’t resist doing in a store?  They reveal a lot about you.

If you’re feeling stuck in your life or career, think about those quirky little habits of yours. They offer clues to your personality and even aspects of your work style.

I’m not a buttoned-up sort of person. I thrive in open, creative environments where there’s lots of collaborating and brainstorming going on.

Being a brat is about embracing your quirks and having a little fun with them.

When people tease you about your shopping habits, tease them right back. They’re probably closet DVD straighteners.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

How to reframe the hurt and move on

Some days you don’t feel like being a brat, especially if you have recently ended a relationship. It may be hard to move on because you keep remembering the good times. You long for them.

But you wouldn’t be out of that relationship if it had been truly good for you.

On days when you wonder if ending it was for the best, remember one thing:

You are no longer in a relationship that is hurting you.

Recurring hurt

This is especially important if what hurt you was the result of a recurring issue that was never addressed.

If something was hurting you on a regular basis but never dealt with, then it was only a matter of time before things reached this point.

Yes, there were many great times and it’s going to take a while to stop being pulled back, by their memory.  

But the happy times will never make up for the fact that you were repeatedly hurt because of something that was never addressed.

Reframe your sadness. Reframe your longing with these words.

I am no longer in a relationship that is hurting me.

That relationship is in your past. Not your present. Your past.

What was hurting you is back there too.

If you find yourself longing for your former partner, yet feeling the relationship could never move forward, repeat those words several times.

Some days you don’t feel like being a brat

Some days you don’t feel like being a brat; you don’t feel much like stirring things up and pushing out there to make yourself heard, to make positive change.

Sometimes the change comes slowly, quietly, even painfully. Sometimes you are living in the shadow of the sun and regrouping some of that energy.

This is one of those times. But reframing the hurt can help you get out past it.

You’re no longer in a relationship that is hurting you; you’ve left it behind.

That is huge.

(P.S. Don’t throw something away if there is a chance it can be healed. If you think your old relationship has that chance, investigate it by all means.)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel