Category Archives: Relationships

The power of No

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From these my fav is “Learn to say No without explaining yourself”. 

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/simple-living-images/

My first unexplained No was loud and clear. I was in a meeting room with our former business partners and their lawyers. The wanted a deal and made an offer. I could hear their expensive watches ticking. I said No. To their disbelief. To my astonishment. And a silent joy. Threats followed. My No stoods its ground. It made them say Yes to our offer. We cleaned the accounts and closed the noisy chapter. The rest is history.  It was cool. And worth it.

You may want to Try it next time. Try it. And enjoy it all!

Thank you, becomingminimalist.com for inspiration. 

Attraction

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– Hi.
– Hi. How are you, Eva?
– What do my eyes say?
– “You attract me”. Is it so, Eva?
– What do you think?
– I prefer to …. leave it unspoken.
– So do I, said Eva’s eyes.
So be it.

He attracts her in ways no man attracted her over the last decade. He is in her dreams and fantasies. She thinks of him when in bed with another man. He rents a space in her brain. It fulfils a need for intellectual stimuli of a nature she needs at this exact stage of her life, in a sexually unconsummated relationship.
They work together. He reports to her. They are both happily married. They are both parents. In social gatherings, she feels his invisible touch. He is a musician. She wonders sometimes what kind of play would she be for him. Would it be “I know you” by Skylar, Grey’s soundtrack to “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie? Or… She would prefer to leave it unspoken.
Eva’s experience is nothing new on Earth. It is called polyamory – loving a few people at the same time. Eva has long ago divorced the concept of ownership in relationships.
No one owns no one. She knows it. Researchers know it. “Various important features of romantic love such as caring, friendship, and attraction are not exclusive and can be directed at several people at the same time. Exclusivity is of no relevance to intellectual needs-underlying our intellectual needs is the desire to enlarge what we know and experience” (Torn Between Two Lovers. I’ve got two lovers and I ain’t ashamed. By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on Feb 19, 2012 in In the Name of Love https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/201202/torn-between-two-lovers).
In a whisky night, Eva lets him get a glimpse into her bare foot soul. He called her “self-sufficient”. “Silly you”, thought Eva, “why would I be here tonight?”…

Battle with grace

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There was this lady in the team, Magalie. French, with arabic roots. Big eyes, american smile. Speech, body language and eyes saying three different things. Typical covert aggressive. Soft spoken in public, bitter and aggressive in private. It was Eva’s first week at her new in charge of an international project with nationals and internationals onboard.  Eva gets a sms from Magalie with an urgent request for a meeting. She seemed in distress over phone so Eva goes to meet her. She spills venom. Accusations of sexism against a colleague. She says he is constantly humiliating her in public, hates her, disregards her, and she cannot talk to him because she is afraid of him. She claims this has been going on for a year and a half. Eva asks then whether she talked about it with the previous 3 project managers. She says no. Why would Magalie put this now on Eva’s shoulders? Magalie accepts reluctantly Eva’s offer: a meeting for the two of them to talk and clarify it. Seven months later Eva hears exact the same words concerning her from her supervisor’s supervisor: “Magalie says you humiliate her in public, you hate her, you disregard her and she cannot talk to you”.  Magalie met Eva’s supervisor in a private set up when Eva was on leave, taking advantage of her absence.  Eva is speechless as she hears this.  She was not given with an opportunity to present her views and facts. She could only say she treats all equally and professionally. Three nights after the meeting, Eva is sleepless. Her heart hurts. Ignatia amara is the remedy which eases the pain and brings a change of perspective. Confronting the person, asking for a meeting with the supervisor were the first strategies Eva thought of. A natural defense reaction. She met three colleagues who she knows have been through  a similar experience. They give her a good piece of advice: check whether she filed anything formally and find out remedies available to defend myself. Otherwise treat it as someone saying something to someone. If your supervisor accepts a friendship with such a person it probably says something about him/her. Another wise colleague of Eva’s dropped a wise phrase “there was a snake even in Eden”.image Eva mentioned this situation to her sponsor from the organisation providing funds to the project. He said he knows and that Eva shall not worry about it. A day before he passed the message to Eva’s supervisors how happy they are with Eva. Some readers might see themselves in Eva. Magalies usually do not do mirror work.  For this and other reasons any confrontation is useless. At a first meeting after the “complaint”, Magalie avoided any eye contact with Eva. It did not preclude Eva from reaching the objectives the meeting had. Two months later, at an appraisal team meeting with the management, colleagues spontaneously shared how happy they were with the project manager. Much to Eva’s surprise. She was humbled by the open and warm appreciation colleagues hold of her. After the meeting, she received an email from the management about how pleased they were to hear so much genuine appreciations of Eva’s work. To arm yourself, acknowledge that these people have no notion of fair play. Never have one to one meetings with these people. Always cc your impartial supervisor in correspondence with them. Make sure you have a supporters network who will provide in a positive and constructive way their views on how you do your job and interact with them. Ask for feedback from colleagues, in writing if possible, even in an environment not practicing 360 degree evaluations. Constantly feed your sponsor and supervisor with information on what you do so that there is no void or gap prone to make room for misunderstandings. Open, peaceful, detached communication with all who want and/or need to hear is key. Sooner or latter even those in the monologue mood will start to listen. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Art by Ana Maria Negara, at Traian Grand Hotel, Iasi, Romania, December 2013

Love stories collection:1

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I love to collect women’s stories. Some are full of lessons to take away. Some are just things to notice. Some are with no particular messages, just part and parcel of life. Some may be subjects for novels. Some are life novels.166339788

***

His kiss undressed her, without his hands touching her. His soft lips made a silent promise of eternal happiness together. He had to leave. A trip back home, far away in Philippine. From the seventh floor of the students’ dormitory her eyes caressed his arms opening the door of his departing taxi, in Strasbourg, France. Weeks later, when she was also back home, she received a letter from him: seven lines of love telling her he was getting married in few weeks to the one he knew since childhood… Years later, she learned that his human rights activism has costed him his life.

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She saw him years later, in an airport. He showed her the picture of his wife and newborn baby boy. Years back she was his student, who, incipidiosly, found herself in his bed, for a few seconds  only, just very close to an adultery line for him. Years later after their encounter in that airport, she learned from common acquaintances that he had cancer. She had mixed feelings: happy that she has not crossed that line and very sad for his wife, the support of whom he now sought and needed most.

***

She saw him again years later. He was with his wife and child. His wife was wearing a red dress on a casual Friday night, sending other women the message that she is in control and still keeps his attention unaltered by other female vibes… She almost fell for him years back, when he just got married to the proud owner of the red dress. What stopped her was that she saw no difference: she had a married man at home. She was candidly happy for his wife, for she managed to keep him by her side and she looked proud of it.

Do you spoil?

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So, do you spoil? Do you get spoiled? I am guilty on both accounts.  Both are equally rewarding, especially when least expected.

The internet and literature is full of negative connotations of spoiling. I wonder if whether we do it justice.

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It’s true, there are limits. The ones you choose and accept. Your internal balance will guide you. With moderation, spoiling brings happiness and a healthy confidence in children. Same goes for adults. At work you notice immediately people who are spoiled. They are confident, eager to embrace new challenges, have their expectations clearly set. In private life, those spoiled at work are easy-going, relaxed and available to their dear ones. The driver who works with us prepares tea for all in our office every morning; his father – a country man – brings coffee in bed to his wife their whole life together.

Spoil as much as you can. And “much” has nothing to do with quantity. Spoiling is not about luxury. A simple word of kindness, a thank you note, a smile, a supportive regard, a shared coffee, a flower on your colleagues’ desk, a home baked dessert, a strawberry on a cookie along your usual coffee can have an amazing ability to enlighten your and someone else’s day.

We don’t need to wait to be spoiled. Spoil yourself. Spoil your body. Spoil you mind. Spoil your soul. With a warm bath, a walk in the park, a delicious cake, a book, a prayer, a massage, a new hair cut, a postponed trip, a visit to the dear ones …

Reward what you want to be happening around you and notice the positive shifts in your life, today and every day.

The Abyss and Heaven of Abuse

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They knew each other for 13 years. Laura was 42 and Eva 22 when they first met in a bus taking them to the sea side. Eva got attached to Laura the way an orphan gets attached to a mother she never had. Shortly after their relationship became truly intimate. They would talk endlessly on phone and share the most sacred secrets and aspirations.

In the mean time, Eva has grown into a fine professional, with a solid career built on her intelligence and connections. She also married a fine man. Laura was endlessly involved in family struggles: a 33 year married life with a cheating husband, a troubled daughter, who was Eva’s age, extended family intrigues and constant battles.

A year and a half ago, Laura called Eva. She sounded even more distraught than usual. And usual was already pretty disturbed. She learned accidentaly that her husband had an illegitimate daughter who just turned 22 and that he initiated contact with her and her mother. Laura was seeing the way out from it by jumping from a roof of a building. Eva listened for hours and managed to change Laura’s perspective on the situation. It’s somebody’s else tragedy and its’ your choice if you want to play a part on it. Eva was there for her, without judging.

A year latter, Laura’s husband died. A heart attack. Eva was the first person Laura called when she got the news. Her husband at that time was abroad for work. Eva was there again for Laura, helpful, supportive, obliging. She managed to get Laura through the inheritance process without her sharing property with her husband’s illegitimate child. So it was only Laura and her daughter who inherited it all: assets in four countries. Even the experienced notary Eva choose for Laura was daunted by the task at hand.

Laura wanted to travel. She believed her life was a sacrifice to others benefit and now she wanted it all. „I am a bad girl now” she used to repeat. Laura cautioned her with empathy „it’s ok to go into the opposite direction for now, but you need to find your balance”.

Eva was prety traveled and gave in easily to Laura’s desire to travel. Italy was her dream country. Eva took care of all travel, visa and accomodation arrangements, all for best prices. Laura gave Eva money for her flight and accomodation, pretending she would not want to be bothered by it while on vacation. Eva put that money on her visa.

A week before the trip Eva learned she was pregnant. She has not cancelled the trip knowing it would upset Laura. Laura already announced her daughter, who lived in a neighbouring country, that she will not be visiting them this Christmas. Laura told Eva that she enjoyed her daughter’s shock at the news.

They were finally in Rome. In the airport they wainted for their luggage and baby stroller. It was returned to them broken, with a missing wheel. This stroller belonged to Laura’s nepthew and she offered to give it to Eva’s child but did not want to accept money for it. „They ruined our vacation” was Laura’s outlook on the situation, to Eva’s husband disbelief.

Once settled in the hotel, Laura started to exhibit a demanding behaviour. A behaviour of someone who paid a touristic agent and expected services in return. Eva’s pregnancy made her more vulnerable and on the third day of their trip she experienced pain that made her stop and sit down in the middle of a street. Laura started giving patronising advice about Eva’s blood vessels. „Give me a break about your vessels. I am pregnant”, Eva responded, already prety pissed off. Laura extended no hand and no word of sympathy.

The next day, Laura turned her back at them in her bed mimicking a flu. Eva and her family had fun at the zoo that day.

Laura’s daughter now called severall times a day. A drastic change to her previous ignoring and non-carrying attitude. Was Laura’s 15000 Euro recent gift to her daughter behind that change?

Laura refused to join Eva and her family next few days. On the 6th day of their trip they were to take the train to their next destination: Florence. Laura was now again with Eva and her family untill she learned her way around in Florence and disappeared for two days. She reemerged in the breakfast room the day they had to take the train to Milano, their last stop.

On their brief encounters, Laura’s demands continued to get more annoying: this train sits are not comfortable, the taxi driver is cheating on us, the weather is bad, why are we going this way… an endless tirade of negative affirmation.

In Milano, Eva got sick and spent her day in bed. It was New Year’s eve, and as nothing happened, Laura rushed in Eva’s room with shampaign and fruits to „celebrate the New Year”. Eva did not buy this change of attitude.

The day of their return, at the airport, Eva’s family was invited for a quick, family check-in. Eva asked the officer to allow also Laura to join them, introducing her as their grandmother. On the plane Eva’s pain intensified. She could not move and hardly managed not to collapse. Upon landing, Laura left the plane among the first. What’s the hurry?, Eva asked herself. She soon got it answered.

Laura was radiant. Her daughter, her nephew and her son-in-law, all came to greet her at the airport. An unheard-of event. Laura told Eva there is no room in their car to take them to town and abruptly left. She totally disregarded that Eva was barely standing on her feet.

Eva knew this trip was definitory. She knew for some time that Laura has chosen a different path. The path of a ‚bad girl’, as she liked to put it. She only miscalculated to whom she may be bad and to whom not. Eva felt Laura used her to blackmale her daughter into loving her. And she succeded it somehow: Laura’s daughter called 10 times a day, didn’t she! Laura did not understand that her strategy might be working, but only in the short run. What also Laura forgot was that it was only couple of weeks ago that she was crying on Eva’s shoulder because of the costant disrespect her daughter was displaying towards her.

Eva felt it was totally inappropriate for Laura to pay her back for everything she has done for her, including the little thing of „keeping her alive” over the last 18 months, in Laura’s own words.

Once home, Eva knew it was time to put it behind and let Laura follow her own path.

Eva celebrated and cherished her own devotion and ability to manifest such a kind friendship. And above all, the freedom from others’ abyss.

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Labeling: too human to give up?

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I was once called greedy. At a break, in a workshop meant to entertain us the moderator made us draw pigs. I drew one in the middle of a folded sheet. She declared it ‚ a pig made by a greedy’. I would have called it ‚a pig made it by an environment conscious person’ :)– same sheet had many uses, before going into recycling.
I was taken aback by this labeling in a moment when I was fully voluntarily involved in a shelter for single mothers at risk of abandoning their babies. Humanly natural, this comment hurt my feelings and my ego asked for revenge.
Behind that story my mind raised a more essential question: what makes us jump into conclusions and judgments about people we barely know and even people we know or we think we know. Is it the internal confused, deprived of self-approval, self-critical dwarf that makes some label others? Is it prejudice, stereotyping? the ability to jump into conclusions? a misjudgment? Is it the temporary short-lived pleasure of feeling ‚better’ that is triggered by ‚i know it all’ perspective? Is it a past experience of a bullying’s victim seeking revenge now as an adult?

What I know is that critique attracts critique and misunderstandings. Misunderstandings are counterproductive in building healthy relationships. And we need healthy relationships to grow into better human beings.

A Dalai Lama or Osho will almost certainly never use labels of any kind. The reality is as such that we do not always communicate with dalai lamas and oshos in our daily lives.

There always be people who would try to fix you with a label. It’s their choice. Your choice is greater: if you do not want a label or feel it is not just, nothing makes you stay near a labeling-person. It’s the loss of labelers who, preoccupied with labeling, miss great opportunities to learn about themselves, to build positive institutions, to bring out the best out of themselves and to engage  with potentially someone great as yourselves.