Hugging the Monster Within

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photo property of stuffmonsterslike.com

I’ve been upset about all of the violence percolating in Chicago, primarily concentrated in poor African-American communities like mine, but I’ve not been upset enough. I haven’t marched or attended a vigil or worn a hoodie. I haven’t written letters to the chief of police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel about this particular issue nor have I joined Cease Fire or posted one of those “Don’t Shoot, I Want to Grow Up” stickers in my front window. I haven’t sold my home for half of what it’s worth in order to escape the hood, keep my child safe, have a “better” quality of life, or simply ignore the issue. Maybe it’s because I know that even if I disassociate and fall prey to black flight, the issue is still there, looming and lurking.

 

This still doesn’t explain why I’m not exponentially more phased by the violence in my backyard. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been desensitized by the gunshots I can often hear on hot, summer nights. Maybe it’s because this level of violence isn’t new to me, to us. I remember the 1980’s when Los Angeles youth seemed to be dying in bullet-ridden droves as a result of the long-standing feud between the Crips and Bloods. In the 90’s, I vividly remember when Washington, D.C. a.k.a. the Murder Capital, Baltimore, Maryland a.k.a. Bodymore or Murderland, New Orleans, Lousiana a.k.a. Chopper City, and Little Rock, Arkansas all had their deadly spurts and were splattered all over the news as the most dangerous cities in America.

 

Now it’s Chicago’s turn to rise to a level of malaise that stirs the nation into taking a tiny peek into the dark underbelly of the Black community, this culture of violence that manifests like shingles, always in the blood and ready to flare up as soon as the conditions are ripe enough. The reason why many of us don’t bat an eye about the violence, though we may shake our heads is because we are accustomed to being sick. We are used to this illness that pervades our communities and though it may simmer down occasionally, we know that when we are weak socially, spiritually, and economically, the disease will be triggered again, albeit in a new location.

 

The black community is a microcosm of American society which is also steeply entrenched in violence as a means of power and control. We’d like to think that we only fight in the name of freedom and it’s the narrative of many Americans who fight to keep their guns in order to be able to kill at will. We use our guns not to fight for freedom oftentimes, but to terrorize each other and other nations. And it is shameful and regressive. Like our fellow Americans, we have become intracultural terrorists, killing and instilling fear in our own. Though we know what we have become, we refuse to be accountable. It’s easier to blame an “enemy” outsider ala the Trayvon Martin murder. When it’s a non-Black who kills one of us, we mobilize and protest the horror and inequality of it, but each day we murder each other across America and too often, the deceased gets no more than some flowers, balloons, and a cross tacked to a tree or lamp post along a city street. When we kill each other, it’s not outrage we show, but destitution. 

 

We have become hopeless and complacent about the violence that has a chokehold on us and our youth. We know that most of the murders are happening due to gang and drug-related drama between poor, young black men while others get caught in the crossfire. And like the media and the courts, I’d like to write these young boys off as the problem and blame them for their actions, but it’s hard when I see what’s causing them to shoot. They are indeed to blame for their actions, but so are we. These young men have grown so violent and disconnected because we are. They reflect us and our communities at its worst. We have systematically stopped raising our children and as a result, have lost a critical connection with today’s black youth. Worse, we fear them more than guide them. One cannot connect with, support or love that which he fears. These children whom we see as little monsters are hurting emotionally and we know that hurt people will inevitably hurt other people or hurt themselves. Today’s black teens are angry because life is hard and many of the adults around them have failed them.

 

We have failed when these children don’t believe that we love them. We have failed when these children refuse to love themselves. We have failed when these children have never been shown affection. We have failed when our children walk around with no manners or self-respect. We have failed when our children think that manhood means being able to tote a gun instead of a book and are willing to kill anyone who threatens that sense of manhood. We have failed when our children no longer care about themselves or anyone else. And many of them don’t. We have failed when our response to the violence is, “It is what it is.” This is not what it has to be. We have a choice. We have solutions.

 

We must care again, care deeply enough to help the children in our communities (and not just the “good ones”) whose hate and anger is literally killing them. We must instill morals again instead of letting the streets, music and television raise our children. We must teach them skills and get them engaged in healthy, positive activities. In a city where only 6% of ChicagoPublic School students will earn a bachelor’s degree, we must make education non-negotiable. We must stop making poverty the excuse for poor graduation rates and poor character. They are not mutually exclusive. We must stop sitting in silence when we see our teens making horrible choices. We must speak up. We must be positive role models and mentor, formally and informally. We must stand up for our children. And indeed, the most revolutionary thing we can do is start giving out mass hugs to the youth. Our children need hugs, and big ones.

 

It sounds too simple and hokey to be effective, but I assure you it will work. Our children lack hugs, affection, care, protection, support, and love. When one doesn’t have his basic human needs met like the need for positive touch and affection, he isn’t able to connect with others. If one can’t connect emotionally, then he will lack empathy. Without concern for other individuals, those other individuals become objects – objects who are easier to kill like a video game where there is no remorse, feeling or thought of consequences. When we hear each other addressed as “nigga” more than “brother” or “sister”, we know that the connectivity has been lost. The fabric of the community has been torn and it’s up to us to sew it back together again. Just as we are responsible for creating our sickness, we are responsible for providing the cure. Violence is not our birthright. Our children and our community can be healed. Let’s prepare for surgery.

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Writer Reborn

I took the summer off. I thought I’d do more writing with more time. I kicked it instead.

I borrowed writing books from the library and read the good parts. I thought it’d make me a better writer.

I bought journals and expensive pens. It could aid me in my best writing if I had the best materials.

I decided to quit my day job. I knew it would make me commit to my inner writer if only I had single purpose.

I revised old writing. I thought it would produce new writing.

I meditated about writing. I was sure it would put me in touch with my writing if I were quiet enough.

I talked about writing, my love of it and its hardships. And I talked more.                   More still.

I had an idea to start a writer’s retreat. I felt it would make me a leader in writing, helping those poor souls like me.

I marveled at the powerful and committed writers I know. They would surely inspire me to write since they do it all the time.

I pulled out the pen. I flipped open a crisp, new journal. I plugged in my flash drive. I stared at the blank page, the pulsing cursor. And stared. And an idea hit me. JUST WRITE.

More time will not make me write. Sheer determination will. Being unemployed will not force me to write. It will just make me bitter and filled with impoverished thoughts. Pretty journals will not make me write. Shit will only look good on the outside, but I’ll still be empty on the inside. Talking about writing is… well, talk. Beating myself up about why I don’t write won’t make me a writer. Learning the lesson and moving about the page will. Salivating over other great writers and praying for osmosis won’t make me a better writer. Writing will. Pulling out a pen won’t make me a writer. Dedication to using it will.

Today, I get off my metaphorical ass and pick up where my daydreams about writing left off. Today, I don’t talk. I don’t meditate. I don’t revise. I don’t read. I don’t covet. I don’t guilt trip. I don’t punk out. I simply write. Writers write. Ideas to manifestation, word by word, delete to plot, ugly to truth, beginning to end. There are no blocks but self – meaning there are no blocks at all. There is only the time I make and it is always enough, even with a job, family, play dates, homework, getting dinner on the table, grading papers, and life whirling by. I am all I need. I am who I was waiting for. I’m here. Ready to write. And so it is.

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Summer 2012 – Let’s Get It!

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Summer is here and I am over the moon! On this first day of summer break, my daughter and I got organized and listed all of the fun things we’d like to do this summer, some free, some on a prayer. We intend to have a ball on a budget and live in each moment! As I enter this summer, I want to share my gratitude for a wonderful year. There was a lot of transition on the job and it was taxing on everyone, but thankfully, we made it through and graduated 86 students – our biggest group yet – and hopefully, our most successful! Though we had two of our young men shot, thankfully, we did not lose one student to gun violence this year (for the first time during my 6 yr. tenure). That is indeed something to be thankful for and I hope this streak continues and that we can bottle this rampant gang violence that has ravaged our city and the lives of so many.

I am also thankful to have time to write this summer. I am finishing the first draft of a play that I’ve been drilling at for months, revisiting two old manuscripts that need to be in the world and writing a new YA novel and a self help book on finding and maintaining a beautiful, healthy relationship. Woo-sah – it can all be done with focus and dedication. I will also work on my natural hair care line – DIME and try to get one step closer to acting again.

The last thing that brings me tears of joy and loads of gratitude is celebrating my 12 year wedding anniversary today! It has been a lovely journey and I pray for many more years of bliss. Jashed, you are pure sunshine.

As always, I am thankful for all of my family and friends – especially my parents who I am fortunate enough to still have in my life as guides and friends. I have been so blessed to have such beautiful, kind spirits around me to nurture my growth. As I approach 39 this summer (Cancer LOVE), I float on the shoulders of those who love, guide, check, and support me moment to moment. I appreciate and love you all. 

If anyone wants to hang this summer or have play dates, let me know! I plan to kick it!

To a phenomenal summer, Tina

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Obama and Gay Marriage – Is equality really debatable?

Image by Shepard Fairey

This morning, the doorman in my office building quietly shoved today’s RedEye newspaper in my hand and whispered, “Do you support Obama in his latest decision to support gay marriage?” I loudly responded, “My mother is gay.” He looked around the lobby at the onlookers and then asked, “So you support the president on this?” I responded, “I support my mother and my family and all of the families that look like mine who deserve equal rights and protections.” To this he responded, “Oh.”

Where many see this as a political issue or conversation du jour, this is personal for me and many others like me. Whether my mother should be treated with respect and dignity as an American citizen is not up for debate and I don’t give a damn where Obama stands. He should have gotten off the fence long ago. I’m a pretty intuitive person and believe that internally, Obama has supported gay marriage for a while. He was playing politics and leaning towards more votes than more equality and it was one of my bitter points with him. I guess you can see it as him making decisions for the greater good – first getting in a position of power so that he can create change from within the system, but I don’t know. I guess I’m happy that he is finally speaking from his heart and not the voting booth this time around, but it’s not really about Obama in the grand scheme of homophobia. This is about heterosexism and religious zealots not respecting a constitutional separation of church and state and not respecting the legal rights of other American citizens. North Carolina’s recent ban on same sex marriage, though it was already prohibited is an example of this. This is not a “morality” issue for me. I don’t play those games and indeed, they are glass and stone throwing games. That type of separatist and pseudo sanctimonious thinking is annoying, ignorant and antediluvian. As a matter of fact, I’m tired of talking about this already. Let’s keep fighting and taking action because power will never be given to our families. As usual, power will have to be taken and we will gladly oblige. And if Obama is any slight indication, that day may be closer than we think.

Power to our families,

Tina

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Kill Fear, Let your Heart Rule

ImageI believe in serendipity. It happens to me all of the time. When I need something from the universe, it is provided at the exact time it’s supposed to arrive.  Not on my time, but when it is supposed to. For example, I attended a workshop by a phenomenal woman, Tama Kieves, on yesterday at the Bodhi Spiritual Center (which I am a proud member of) and Tama spoke to my spirit and said the very things that affirmed that I am not crazy for wanting to jump off of the gerbil wheel of life and that I am indeed on the right path as I explore my own creative interests and life yearnings. I’m wildly happy, but practically confined. I’ve allowed myself to become confined to a system that does not serve my spirit nor support my boundless creativity and entrepreneurial leanings. This is not about jobs because I’ve loved each of my jobs. It’s about life and being in the driver’s seat for a change. I had a thought recently: Since I’m a workaholic anyway, if I gave 100% to my own dreams/goals/passions as I have given to each job that I have ever had, what could I manifest? Well, I’m on a quest to answer that question. In addition, two of my valued long-time sisters emailed yesterday out of the blue sharing about their need to be free and self-employed and inspired. It makes my heart flutter with excitement that we are journeying together spiritually and didn’t even realize it. I know what I know and I know that it is time for more people to begin living for themselves and not simply as a mule to do everyone else’s work. God has a unique plan for each of us and it is up to us to be still long enough, release the fear long enough and trust ourselves and our talents long enough to be truly free to live authentic, fulfilling, dynamic lives. As Tama Kieves asked the audience yesterday, “Do you think we were put on this earth just to pay bills?” That I seriously doubt. If that is the fast-paced wheel that you are on and you feel like it’s leading you nowhere or at least to an undesirable place, I encourage and support you in joining the millions who are living their lives passionately and brazenly. It’s scary. So what. Jump! The universe will support you. Trust it and yourself and claim what is here for you. Your next question might be, “How will I do this?” That question came up yesterday in the workshop and a brilliant participant reminded us that the answer to how is YES. Simply say YES. Commit to you. Commit to your dreams. They’re waiting and the how will come if you trust, listen and believe. I know you can do it! And so can I.

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Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are Us

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My heart aches for Trayvon Martin and his family as it does for George Zimmerman and his family. When this story hit the media a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know how to respond. I was saddened and disgusted, but unfortunately, not shocked. This story was familiar to me. It isn’t the first time that black males or young males = suspicious. We have seen this equation many times and it has lead to racial profiling, police brutality, and at its worst, murder. I know that this case is overtly “racial” and that young black males have been labeled “suspicious” and untrustworthy since slavery, but it isn’t just about race so let’s move beyond it.

At the core, this is about the way humans treat other humans. We are able to hurt and kill each other without remorse and in Zimmerman’s case, with a delirious conviction that it is imperative to do so for our own survival. We can cast Zimmerman out as a crazy man or a racist or over zealous, but this is an oversimplification of the issue. Zimmerman is one of many do-gooders who got it wrong and he reflects every single one of us. No person is all bad or good. Depending on the situation either side can slip out of us. Zimmerman made a horrific mistake, but probably had good intentions like most of us do.

He wanted to protect his “area” from “them”. Some nefarious other. We do it all of the time. Our country is engaged in war against the “other”. We have killed hundreds of “them” and they “us”. Different racial, religious and cultural groups that are too many to name have “righteously” hunted and killed each other to “protect” themselves, their country, their sacred way of life, or their interests. Depending on the media spin, we determine if “they” were justified or not. Murder is not justifiable. Trayvon Martin should still be talking on the phone incessantly with his girlfriend, eating Skittles and planning his future. However, the Zimmerman in all of us killed Trayvon’s chances. Zimmerman is a symptom of a bigger malaise; it’s the malaise of hate and fear of the “other”.

The gangs in my neighborhood are warring right now and I have students who are afraid to leave the house because it’s warm outside and that’s when bullets spray. They fear the “other” and the local gangs fear, loathe and actively kill each other every chance they get. Even within the same “culture” we see each others as different and separate from ourselves. Some adults see those hoodied, baggy pants teens like Trayvon as the “other”, as the problem in the community and whether they are or not, we have to change our strategy in dealing with “us”. We have to stop seeing the problem as outside of our selves. There is no “other”. That is a sick figment of our imagination. There is only us. We are a community, both local and global and we must interact with one another as such. We need to lie down the guns because as we use them to kill others, we weaken and destroy ourselves. We are one and as a global community, we are hurting. Hurt people, hurt people. We saw it last week when Sergeant Robert Bales, obviously in emotional upheaval, snapped and killed other human beings. I’ve read posts where people defend Bales and blame the US government for sending him on a fourth tour of duty, but it’s all of our faults. We allow these wars to persist. It’s bigger than Bales. We tolerate the violence and see it as a solution. We allow our sons and daughters to kill each other on the streets in the name of their gangs. These aren’t nameless gang bangers. These are our children, our students and our youth.

We allow our friends to gay bash, run trains on young women, abuse each other, self-harm, mob attack random and selected people, gossip about co-workers, and commit all kinds of heinous crimes against these “others” who we don’t see as being worthy of life, respect and the same protections that we want. As long as we see each other as the enemy, there will always be an “other” whom we feel justified in annihilating and dehumanizing.

When we shift our consciousness into the reality that we are all one and that we are all impacted by the actions of this global community, then we will begin supporting each other and taking responsibility for the fractured, dangerous state that our minds, our families, our communities, and our countries are in. I am a reflection of you. I see you. I love you. I hope you can see me too. Can we hold both Trayvon and George in our hearts? Can we see them both within us and not further polarize? Can we stop the hate, fear and projection of our worst selves before it’s too late? I think we can. Let’s start in this moment because that’s all we have. Rest in peace, Trayvon, and may justice be served. 

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I’ve linked arms with a wonderful new organization, Moms Clean Air Force. The mission of MCAF is to bring parents together to fight against pollution and for our children’s future. If we don’t protect the environment, who will? If we don’t protect our children, who will? I’m stepping up to the call to be more present in this fight. Will you join me? Read my first blog at MCAF here and get involved!

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Catching Up to Our Dreams

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It’s time to live our life “like it’s golden.” I have a personal abundance challenge going and I want you aboard this happiness train. This is how it goes. We put our wildest, most wonderful goals and dreams into the universe and we simply say “Yes! And So It Is!” We talk about these dreams to whoever will listen. In order for the law of yes to work, we have to place our dreams firmly and brazenly into the ether. Say it! Write it. Dance it! Draw it. Meditate and pray on it. Sing it! Visualize it. It is there waiting to happen.

Next, we create a plan of action. No goal can be securely planted and enacted without the seeds of preparation and good old-fashioned thinking it out. Write possible ways to achieve your dreams and who can help you get there. After the planning, we must fully accept that it can, will and is happening in our lives. Right now. You have placed energy there, so the seedling of thought is growing into a wild, bountiful forest of actualization. Finally, we allow the universe to work its magic with the simple power of YES. The universe is here to support all of us. You have to release some control and let things unfold. Your job isn’t to worry about how exactly it will happen. Instead, accept that it is happening and move aside to let God, the ancestors, your angels, and the universe to rally around you and lift you towards your dreams.

It sounds frilly, but it’s real. I firmly know that all the things that have come into my life were because I’ve been bold enough to say “Yes” despite my fear and the universe supported me. I have healed past trauma, traveled to at least 10 countries (mostly alone and without wealth), become an author, learned to walk without a limp, found a beautiful love, family and friends who nurture my growth, gotten every job I have ever interviewed for, found a spiritual home of a bunch of wonderful, happy folks who think as I do (Bodhi Spiritual Center), and have been deliriously happy since I realized that I had a choice to choose happiness. Some call it dumb luck or being “favored”. I am no more special than you are. We are all special. We are one. We are all favored. The universe doesn’t play favorites. There is enough abundance for us all. There is no lack except for the lack we create.

How many things have you set your mind to doing and it got done? How many times have you thought of something or someone and they materialized before you? Surely, it has occurred often because the same principle is at work. The problem is that some of us are terrified of thinking big because it means being vulnerable and revealing our true heart’s desire. We are our only inhibitors, and it’s time to get out of our own way.

This is what we must remove for any of our dreams and grand goals to occur: Get rid of the word and thought “no” as it relates to your dreams. No is rooted in doubt, fear, and negativity. I’d say that these emotions are all big, scary monsters that defeat us, but that’s not the truth. They can never defeat us unless we allow it. The truth is these are all little punk emotions –doubt, fear and negativity – that are afraid of your greatness. Like all punks, you’ve got to push them aside, tell them to shut up and move on with the business of being the “YOU” that you were put on this earth to be.

Saying “no” is the surest and fast way to NOT get what you want. Example:

Your heart says: “I want to be a world traveler, get my MBA and climb Volcano Pacaya.”

Your fear, doubt and negativity say: “No, I can’t.” And so it is. Your wish has been fulfilled. See how easy that was?

It’s simple. The longer you tell yourself “no”, the longer you will stay disconnected from your happiness and the source of your true power. Say “Yes!” Claim your personal, God-given power. Accept only Yes. We are not here to suffer and struggle and lament about what we coulda, woulda and shoulda done. We are here to walk our beautiful journeys, be our best selves, be happy, and be successful at whatever it is that we are meant to do. So let’s synergize, believe, plan, and actualize. Now.

I’ll kick us off and then I want you to publicly and brazenly claim what is yours as well!

My Dreams Right Now:

1. I will continue to travel the world and connect with all of the other beautiful people on this earth.

2. I have my own successful, arts-based business that brings me financial abundance, allows me to continue helping others, and fills my spirit with joy.

3. I live in a neighborhood that is filled to the brim with resources and makes me feel happy, supported and safe.

4. I easily save enough money for my child to attend the college of her choice.

5. I will remain with the love of my life for the next ten lifetimes or even better.

6. I dance as much as I smile.

7. I have all the time that I need to write and act. Both bring me financial wealth as well as happiness.

8. My first young adult novel is published this year.

9. I see and revel in nature in the form of mountains, trees or large, beautiful bodies of water often.

YES. And so it is. (Breathe it in.)

Notice that I didn’t say what I want in the future. I said what I want and have RIGHT NOW because I’ve just planted that seed and I trust the universe to do its work in helping me to actualize these goals. Now, it’s your turn. You can post it here at my site, as your FB post for the day, tweet it, place it on your dream board, or write it in your journal. Where doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take the time to put it in the universe. That starts the chain reaction. I wish you nothing but abundance, fulfillment and joy. Tag. You’re it! What is it that you want? What are your dreams?

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There was a recent article in the Huffington Post by Stephanie Pappas about Gay vs. Hetero Parenting. Those who’ve read my book, Let’s Get This Straight, know my feelings on this, and it is important for me to share new information.

Truthfully, I don’t like that LGBTQ parents have to constantly “prove” that they are okay to the wider heterosexual community. Many of these parents are more than okay (many being quite friggin awesome) and don’t need to prove this fact to some idiot who could care less about the children in the home and just want to spew their disapproval for the gays (once again). Who cares what the idiots like or want? I understand the need for research, especially in this homophobic society, but it gets under my skin that we need “validation” to be who we are and that we get so much unwarranted hostility towards us.

However, I appreciate researchers/sociologists/psychologists such as Dr. Judith Stacey, Dr. Tim Biblarz, Dr. Abbie Goldberg, Dr. Brian Powell, and David Brodzinsky (all quoted in this article) who dedicate themselves to sharing information about different family configurations. I also liked Dr. Judith Stacey’s statement that “two good parents are better than one good parent, but one good parent is better than two bad parents.” This is the case whether they are LGBTQ or hetero parents. Good parenting is the objective. The sad part is that some (including Pope Benedict) and ridiculous politicians which are too many to name would prefer that children not have parents at all than to be parented by loving gay folks. The hate in this message makes my stomach churn and my temper burn. This vitriol is the problem, not my mother. Get over it, folks. Whether you like it or not, our families are here. (cue the Puffy “Bad Boys for Life” song because it’s apropos) “We ain’t goin’ nowhere, we ain’t – going nowhere. We can’t be stopped now. We’re [family] for life.” Let me know what you think about the HuffPo article, fam.

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Tips for Long-Lasting Love

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My husband and I often hear that we are role models in regard to our loving relationship. Although we have no intention of being the “hip-hop Cosbys” (as our friend, Sean, calls us) we have indeed been in a happy, healthy, fulfilling union for 14 years. As we approach our 12 year wedding anniversary this year, I’ll reveal some of the “secrets” to our relationship’s success.

Friendship – One of the most important agreements in our relationship is that we are friends first. Before being lovers, before being husband and wife and before our role as parents, we are friends through and through. For us, friendship is wanting the other to be the best they can be and doing everything you can to support them without wanting anything in return. We cultivated this by being platonic friends for years before we ever dated and when we began dating, we put off sex for a year to make sure that lust didn’t deceive us. This allowed us to love and know each other as friends before becoming lovers. Our friendship is rooted in consistent, respectful, open communication.  We talk about everything, with nothing being too taboo for fear of hurt feelings. We are honest, but loving in our communication. We also have great fun together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. However, we don’t smother. We’re both fiercely independent and loners, so we give each other needed space to grow individually as we do together. We find what works for us and we go with it, adapting when necessary.

The Whole Equation – As romantic as it sounds in the film Jerry McGuire, the “you complete me” logic doesn’t quite work for us. We believe that we had to get our crap together before entering a relationship so that we could come into the relationship whole and ready to function like emotionally-stable adults. I had to work on my trust issues and learn to stop being so evil and he had to drop his nonchalance and ego. Some relationships don’t work because one of the partners wasn’t ready to be in a relationship or didn’t realize that he/she still had major unresolved issues that could kill the relationship. This is not about being perfect. It is more about getting your own house in order before dirtying up someone else’s with your mess. Neediness was also kicked to the curb. We don’t “need” each other to be whole. We simply want to be together and for us, that is enough.

PYP – This is my husband’s favorite term. We believe firmly in “playing your position”. We let each other be who we are. We don’t micromanage. We don’t try to change each other or force the other to be who he/she is not. I don’t wear heels and he wears colorful sneakers to work. I don’t wash dishes and he doesn’t clean toilets. Who cares? He eats meat; I don’t, but I cook it for him. The love and acceptance is unconditional. We also don’t try to parent each other. We respect each other’s decisions and let each other live. I don’t nag incessantly and he doesn’t do the machismo thing. When he wants to go out or ride his motorcycle, I say “see you later”. There is no guilt trip or barrage of unnecessary questions and drama. When I say I’m going to Guatemala for a month, he says, “Do you need any money?” and “I guess it’s gonna be a lonely month.” We support each other’s interests, passions and goals. We play our position.

Ego Slip – We constantly check our egos to make sure that we are being flexible and cooperative. We also compromise without making a big deal out of it. We see compromise as a win-win, not a win-lose. If we are both happy and feeling respected, then we both win. There are very few big arguments (maybe 2x a year) and more calm, quick discussions. We apologize when we hurt or offend the other. It sounds simple, but ego can make this simple act very difficult. We admit when we are wrong and quickly and sincerely apologize. Then, we let it go. There’s no need to hold on to stuff that won’t strengthen the relationship.

Love is beautiful. Ego, possessiveness, neediness, poor introspection, fractured souls, and lack of effective communication are what make love more complicated than it has to be. For those of you in love, we wish you many blissfully fulfilling days together. Please share your love tips with us as well, so that all of our relationships can continue to grow and prosper from good love, great advice, and faith that what we have is worth preserving.

Love & Light, Tina & Jashed

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