Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Given the choice of what to watch, I will almost always opt for a documentary.  While watching this particular one, I became captivated…by the family, by the story, by the blemished humanity, by the unconditional love, by the heart.  This story consists of countless layers of love, of dissection, of self analysis, of emotional maturity, of an understanding that one will never fully understand the boundless complexities that love unleashes on humanity.  And yet at the very core of the documentary lies an intelligent attempt to understand what we know we never will.  Watching or reading such stories leaves me hopelessly and passionately in love with the human heart (and all of its infinite capabilities) in a world that so often does the opposite.

Stories We Tell is such an inspiration to the heart.  To love without end.  To overcome without bitterness.  To ceaselessly grow, to endure, and to transcend death.  And to constantly self analyze in an attempt to better understand the heart’s untapped potential.  This film was just that…an attempt that left me in tears, in thought…in love.

The entire documentary is available here:

Stories We Tell

 

~ Chick Hughes

Nothing sparks one’s imagination, evokes one’s emotions, or speaks to one’s soul like a good book.  For both the reader and the writer, the words inspire thought, create passion, and expose vulnerability.

As a reader, I find Eleanor Herman’s Sex With the Queen (a collection of sordid extramarital affairs carried on by some of history’s most highly respected and, as it turns out, sexually starved queens) to be a refreshing reminder of our perfectly imperfect humanity.  With each forbidden frolic recounted by Herman,  I was able to brush up on hundreds of years of risque royal romping outside the marital bedroom.  Not only was I captivated by the author’s nefarious tales of wedded betrayal proving the lengths we, as sexual beings, will go to in order to sate our insatiable appetite for physical intimacy (even when met with certain death as standard archaic punishment)…but I was, once again,  blown away by the sheer power of love itself…an engulfing emotion, a trance-inducing spell, a heart hijacking…prompting us to break rules, breach trust, and bring down marital houses.

As a writer, I was captured by her candidly prefaced description of what it’s like, as an author, to put herself out there (heart and soul) with written words and await the merciless criticism that will likely be hurled in her soul-baring direction…most of which she is willing to withstand if only to reach one reader who – like herself – finds liberating understanding  and literary growth from her writing.  Herman’s sentiments ring true with any writer who has ever written from the heart, unbridled and uncensored.

“Putting a first book out there for the world to read is like standing on a podium naked and asking people to judge you, body and soul.  This is because each book is a clear reflection of its author, her personality, her thoughts and experience, her way of looking at the world. Judgement, therefore, will not only be about her writing, but about…her soul! It is extremely frightening to take that step up to the podium, utterly exposed; the least bit of jiggle, cellulite, or sagging clearly visible to potentially cruel judges.  It is also an exhilarating experience when the judges agree the results are pretty good, and any minor jiggle can be forgiven.” ~ Eleanor Herman

 

To reveal oneself through words is to brave, dwelling within us, the inner inhibiting troll.

To break down walls and relinquish control.

To write from the heart, to bare one’s soul.

To break free from the repressed literary whole.

 

Feel, write, feel, repeat.

~ Chick Hughes

photo by: puFFin2006

~ Refined and reposted from 2011 archive

Ok, admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  Ever ornery, I resent being guilted into expressing my love by corporate greeting card money whores.  Forced to say “I love you” their way…on their day.  Everywhere I look…cheesy cards, heart-shaped candy, and the foolproof red rose…guaranteed to make her shed her clothes.  Apparently.  “V” day could possibly be the most pressure inducing holiday of the year.  He’s feeling the squeeze to romance her, lest she be the only “unloved” girl alive who will secretly plan her vengeance on some random day when he feels all is right with his all too romantically challenged little world .  And, in appreciation for his romantic efforts, she feels pressured to give it up, lest he be the only “unlucky” guy alive, who will surely wither under the duress of an under-utilized appendage.  He’s sprung for dinner and a gift…and he’s sprung yet again.

Forced to stalk the aisles ablaze with red and pink lovin’ necessities, we buy (literally) into the holiday hype for fear our sweetie will feel unlucky in love. Scrambling frantically, and at the last minute, through hundreds of replicated pledges of love, we’re mere puppets at the greedy hand of the greeting card industry.  Five bucks to express someone else’s feelings and look the other way when the moment has passed and those feelings are tossed into the trash?  Creativity is dead, it seems.  A homemade card created from the heart is not only more romantic…it’s a thoughtful one-of-a-kind gesture, and you can be sure that thousands of other people aren’t pretending to love the same exact “gesture” while wondering if their heartthrob searched for hours on end or just grabbed the card nearest the exit route from the store. But hey, if retail giants say these token mass produced impersonal gifts will get you laid, who am I to argue?

But I do.

If cards, candy, and flowers were sure to set his sheets on fire with hot lovemaking (which is the true motive behind his romantic whim), you can bet the calendar would be inundated with more dreamt up “romantic” holidays.  One competing with the next on its panty dropping ability.  Men everywhere would make a daily pit stop at the local corner store to stock up on the “sure thing” card, candy, flower trifecta.  The male consumer population would redefine the term “convenience store.”   A quickie mart for the quickie smart.  😉

Obviously love is more complicated than that.  While it’s nice to be romanced on Valentine’s Day, we want to feel loved, supported, and appreciated every day of the year.  After all, there are 364 more opportunities to show affection…and to get some.  Attentive appreciation provides all the ammo our sweeties need to combat those 364 days chock-full of life’s not-so-welcome little surprises.  Fickle and unforgiving, life is unpredictable on a good day, hostile on a so-so day, and a downright bitch on a bad day.  Presented with twists and turns, ins and outs, ups and downs, we come face to face with everything life throws our way.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  And through it all, we want to know that our one and only will stand by our side.  That we can depend on that love, rain or shine.  Dependability plays a vital role in relationship success and is rated one of love’s most valuable commodities.  We want assurance that the one we love is there to catch us when life tosses us aside.  We want more than a lover.  We want a best friend.

Studies show that the happiest and most successful couples are also best friends.  A best friend is there when life is good…dancing and playing alongside us in life’s blindingly sunny rays of happiness.  A best friend is there when life is hostile…showing us a single ray of sunshine amid life’s ominous rain clouds.  And, most importantly, a best friend is there when life is a bitch…standing right there beside us providing shelter in the eye of the storm.  And when that storm passes, a best friend dances with us in the puddles, dries us off, and helps us move on.

On life’s sunniest and stormiest of days…we want a shoulder to cry on, a friend to rely on, and a lover to get it on.

No more holiday hype.

On Valentine’s Day, on a good day, on a bad day, on THIS day…be the best friend your sweetie needs.

Say “I love you” your way…every day.

 

Chick Hughes

Love when love doesn’t come easy.  🙂

Love is a merciless cycle with more white knights and horses’ asses than a mall carousel.  And there’s no getting off.  We woo, become two, screw…and someone says “we’re through.”  A heart is broken.  Tweet and Repeat.  When soaring high amid the heart-shaped clouds of Cupid’s fleeting bliss, the heart pays no mind to Newton’s Law of Physics.  But once the “gravity” of a breakup hits us, we have no choice but to free fall and come crashing down on Newton’s grim prediction… “What goes up must come down.”  If only we didn’t have to “come down” on a bed of meticulously filed, dagger sharp nails piercing not only the heart, but our entire body…one gut-wrenching teardrop at a time.  Turning us into a human shish kabob all too eager to throw ourselves onto a flaming grill and end our bleeding heart misery.  Supposedly, the pain we feel is only heartache.  But in actuality, the pain of a broken heart hurts everywhere.  Does it not?  When the object of our affection personally digs a great divide into the heart we’ve given them, we feel physical pain.  Inexplicable pain that no amount of “There’s lots of fish in the sea” or “That jerk didn’t deserve you” band-aids can cover up.  We’re “stuck on” the ex.

Screw the band-aid!  Anyone up for a tirade?

A broken heart leaves us coiled up in the fetal position crying hopelessly, cursing Stupid Cupid, and threatening to shove that magically sharpened arrow up his virginal baby smooth bare tuckus.  Rejection has a tendency to breed cynicism, no?  But baring the fangs of our inner cynic is a human knee-jerk reaction to the security breach of our too-vulnerable heart.  And usually the only retaliation we get.  The heart is our lifeline.  It pumps life into our body.  Broken heart, broken body.  And our body feels that break mentally, emotionally, AND physically.

So yes, love hurts!

But why?

Scientists studied party-pooping participants who were recently dumped, so the pain was fresh and frenzied.  The lucky lotto winners had their brains picked apart and studied by modern technology.  Brain activity was monitored while enduring physical pain from being burned with a hot probe.  And then again while enduring emotional pain from gazing upon a picture of the ex and regaling the experimenter with the low-down on how they were dumped.

FUN and FUN!

Though beneficial for the furthering of science, the details of the study beg the question:

WTF did these poor souls get paid for their participation?  Enough to pay for fallout therapy or just enough to drown the pain in Jose Cuervo, pass out, and send Jose packing down the porcelain throne?  First class ac’commode’ations.

Poor souls aside…what they found was that our brains don’t discriminate based on race, sex, religion, hypocrisy, emotional dismemberment, or a slashing from Jack the Ripper.  When it comes to pain, the human brain is all-encompassing.  These studies show that intense emotional pain activates the same neural pathways in our brains as physical pain.  So whether we suffer emotional or physical misery, our brains can’t differentiate.  We simply feel pain.  No wonder a broken heart is so crushing and debilitating.  We don’t know if we’ve been dumped off or bumped off.

Nor do we care.

So why doesn’t the brain distinguish between emotional and physical pain?  Because evolutionarily speaking, being alone is bad for business.  Experts suggest that we evolved to feel actual pain at separation to prevent our demise.  Many, many years ago, we were roaming the predatory wild and needed to avoid becoming an all-u-can-eat buffet for beastly, dragon-breath patrons.  In order to survive, we needed a buddy…a partner…a more appetizing distraction to enable our getaway, just in case a patron is doubly ravenous.  Being alone was dangerous.  So our brains evolved to send physical warnings to our bodies when we found ourselves all alone in the world.  Warnings in the form of pain.  Ouch!

Pair…or Beware!  😉

This is why we suffer so much when rejected…not only by a lover, but by our peers as well.  We know that as long as we fit in and blend in, we’re a shoo-in for survival.  We have an innate animal instinct to survive.  At all costs.  So when we find ourselves staring down the barrel of rejection with our one and only’s finger on the trigger, we hurt as if we’ve taken the literal bullet.  The realized risk of solitude and slaughter triggers a primitive fear that manifests itself as physical pain.  Our minds have convinced our bodies that rejection is more like dissection.  When cast aside, our protective layers are peeled away and our vulnerable insides picked away.  So, like every good romance story perpetuates, Together…GOOD…Alone…BAD!  There’s an old adage:  “The best way to get over an old love is to find a new one.” Out with old…in with the new.  Once we find a new love, we have a partner to brave the wilds with.  We’re no longer alone…no longer at risk.  We are two!  Over you.

All is good.

But in true cyclic form, and as Newton predicted, we’ll inevitably come crashing down and feel the physical pain of rejection once again.

And when we do…we can drown our pain at the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel, where the hearts bleed and the tears flow.  Or…we can claim that vacancy at the Bates Motel, where the showers beckon…and the psychos bludgeon.  We won’t know the difference…apparently.  Pain is pain…to the brain.

Hotel? Motel?

Love is Hell!

Chick Hughes

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

viavector

French kissing.  Tongue wrestling.  Face sucking.  Lip Locking.  Spit swapping.  Whatever your term selection for tonguing affection,  kissing is the shiznit, no?  An upper persuasion for a lower invasion, as they say.  If romance movies have taught us anything, it’s that a knee weakening, head dizzying, passionate tongue tango is all the erotic prodding a sexy pair of undies needs to head south for a breather.  But on the flip side, experience has taught us that a knee locking, spark-free spit exchange void of palpable passion…

Well, the undies will never know, will they?  😉

We’re all looking for a home run when it comes to sex…but all the bases must be touched to get there.  And, who’s on first? Why, the kiss, of course.  Without the success of a hot sultry kiss, the batter is as likely to get to second base as an inebriated Homer Simpson sporting not-so-tighty whities and shoelaces tied together.  Three strikes be damned!  He’s out!

Kissing is the universal language of love.  A must – or bust!  But why?  In a society obsessed with Germ-X and antibacterial redi wipes, why do we kiss in the first place?  Going to such great lengths to protect our delicate hands from icky germs, but tongue probing the unknown bacterial depths of the infamous dirty mouth?

We have our reasons…however manipulative they may be.

As with everything else relationship, men and women speak a different language when it comes to kissing.  Both have subconscious biologically driven motives for the kiss.  Both use it to get what they want.  And both just down right love it.  It’s the sex before the sex, right?  But that’s where the similarities end.  As usual, men are straight forward.  As his tongue does the persuading, he’s already “pointing” to what he wants.  She, on the other hand, is persuading with her tongue, but keeping what she wants a mystery to him.  Nothing new there, huh?

Our ulterior motives are devilishly different.  And we’ve perfected the kiss as a tool to meet those motives.  One way or another, we’re in it to win it…whether “it” is sex, connection, or long-term bond.  We kiss for a reason.  When first getting to know someone, we have no idea if he/she would make a good sex partner.  We need to test the waters before leaping in.  Evaluate his/her mating potential.  So we let our tongues do the stalking.  😉

We kiss to:

Assess a mate ~  Both sexes kiss to evaluate a mate.  According to experts, the moment our lusty mouths meet, a very complex exchange of information begins to unfold…a sort of titillating tongue talk.  Our saliva and and breath are packed with pheromones and other biochemical signals telling us whether we’re genetically compatible…and give us clues on the health of our possible bed buddy.  We’re literally taste testing the merchandise.  Are they worthy of breeding?  Should we pursue the screw?  Do we rev our engines and step on the gas…or get out of the car altogether.  Without the “spark,” there’s no heat.  And a kiss tells us instantly whether there’s a spark.  We’re biologically driven to perpetuate the species.  So if we’re not genetically compatible, the body knows.  Result:  Kiss OFF!

Monitor the bond ~ This one belongs solely to the ladies.  Once we’ve decided the taste test is a success, we continue to lay it on him in hopes of raising his oxytocin level, which will -in turn – make him bond with us.  We want the bond because we know once we procreate, we need him to stick around and help with child rearing.  Then once we’ve sealed the bond, we further use the kiss to gauge the status of the relationship.  We’re in constant assessment mode, and use the tongue as a love thermometer.  Is he still committed?  Still hot for me?  Losing interest?  Not feeling it anymore?  Does he love me, or love me not?  As Cher put it, It’s in his kiss!

Score some booty ~ Men pucker up for the obvious reasons…sex, sex, and more sex.  Perfectly evolved mating machines, they use the kiss to get her hot and bothered.  To lure her to down ‘n’ dirty town.  The kiss is bait.  Sex…the prize.  Scientists say trace amounts of testosterone are found in his saliva and are passed on via the kiss to get her in the mating mood.  Instinctively he knows that stimulating her very sensitive lips and tongue will also stimulate her lower regions.  He also uses the kiss to help him determine how good the sex will be.  To let him know how receptive she is to mating.  He subconsciously perceives her level of wetness and salivary exchange during the kiss as a representation of her sexual receptivity during actual intercourse.  Is she hot, or not?  Ready, or not?  Research shows that men feel kissing should lead to sex.  Thank god for modern research!  😉  We may never have figured that one out on our own.  A hot lingering wet kiss means one thing to him.  Go ahead.  Lay it on him…he’ll rise to the occasion every time.

It seems the subconscious mind has us kissing for reasons we may or may not be aware of.  We’re cunning little kissers, no?  But aside from the drive to mate and bond, we kiss because we like it.  Because it’s fun.  Because it’s teasingly erotic and Oh so romantic.  And because…

Oh, who are kidding?  We want sex.

But when it comes to the kiss, ponder this.  Are there good kissers and bad kissers?  Or are the ones we perceive as bad simply not genetically compatible with us…therefore a sexual union not beneficial to the propagation of the species?  Are we nothing more than pawns in the game of banging biology?  Or do we make our own lip smacking rules?

Kiss or miss…

Get your tongues in a twist and find out.

Happy tonguing!

Chick Hughes

“A kiss that speaks volumes is seldom a first edition.” ~Clare Whiting

 

Saying “I do” … $20,000.  First twirl of the “virginal” lily white gown around the dance floor as husband and wife … $3000.  That dreamy oblivious newlywed stare as guests gorge on cake and romance… $1000.  One hell of a honeymoon night romp… $2000.

That sex-starved post-dreamy glazed over look of defeat after several years of marital reality…priceless.

A wedding day is pure bliss… So enjoy.

Quickly! …going, going…gone.

Weren’t those 24 hours worth every penny?  They say words are cheap…clearly, whoever said that never priced the words “I do.”

Now that the wedding is yesterday’s event, welcome to the marriage.  The two are not only opposites…but archenemies.  One promising eternal bliss.  The other proving to be a total diss.  One starring the happy couple.  The other starring the tantrum-prone offspring.  One boasting the price tag of a stellar college education.   The other roasting the price tag of 2 kids + college education.  WTF??   One teasingly offering frequent sex, shameless flirting, and permanent googly eyes.  The other delivering rare nookie, shameless averting, and loveless rolling of the eyes.  At some point every marriage departs from the land of the “dreamy” and enters the land of the “dreary.”  Such is the path life cruelly steers marriage down.  The sex dwindles and takes a back seat to…well, everything.  Who has time, right?

The once “sho” thing is now a “no” thing.  But sex is vital to the health of marriage.  It’s a deal maker and a deal breaker.

So, why IS sex so important…aside from the obvious?

~ Sex is a basic physical need ~

We physically need sexual release…our biology demands it.  And who are we to argue with biology?  It’s the one thing that draws us to the opposite sex…the only thing men and women have in common…aside from the ability to “release” multiple times.  Oh, wait…nope,  my mistake.  🙂  Sex is what brings us together to begin with, right?  We certainly don’t go looking for a mate to celebrate our celibacy needs…have a “burning of the condoms” rally.  First and foremost, we’re drawn to a partner to satisfy the howling horndog that dwells within.  And yes, consequently, we fall hopelessly in love.  But love is simply a result of satisfying those needs.  Sex releases a chemical into our brain giving us “That Lovin’ Feeling.” So, no sex…no love!  We marry because we ARE in love.  But let’s face it…without our pushy libido running the show, we never would have paired up and gotten married in the first place.  It IS the driving force behind our union.  The dirty ulterior motive behind the elegance and romance of the exchanging of the wedding vows.

We spend more money on the “big” day than is conscionable.  Why?  Because on this day, we’re forking over mega moola to say, “Hey!  I like banging her.  She’s mine, and no one else can have her.”  Or him.  We’re horny stingy overgrown kids at heart…MINE, MINE, MINE!  And sharing…out of the question!  So, part of this union deal is monogamy.  No extracurricular banging allowed!  Once married, we rely solely on our hottie of choice to fulfill our biological sexual needs “until orgasmic death do us part.”  Routine sex is the unspoken insinuation of “I do.”  And frankly, it’s the reason men put up with the rest of marriage’s shenanigans.  Sure, they love us…but without the dirty to keep them invested, they will meander off the marital path.  And honestly, so will we.  Women want it as much as men do…ok, so maybe not AS much.  🙂  But if it slacks off, trouble brews.  And if it, dare I say, ceases altogether…all bets are off.  All wedded promises null and void.  The irony?  After one day’s overpriced hoopla to celebrate the union and say “I love you,” a simple piece of paper suffices to say, “My bad…hit the road Jack.”

~ Sex is an intimate emotional need ~

We communicate through sex, through touch, through sensation.  We express love, desire, and affection…all through sex.  We reaffirm that love with every tender caress, every sweet kiss, every screaming orgasm.  Sex leaves us feeling exhilarated, desired, and alive.  Who doesn’t want to be an object of desire?  So, if our spouse doesn’t want us, we take a major hit to our self esteem.  We feel rejected, unloved, unattractive.  And we begin to doubt our sex appeal, doubt our sweetie’s sex appeal, and doubt “us.”  Human beings need affection.  We crave it…thrive on it.  It’s the language of love.  With it we can say, “I love you.  Can’t get enough of you.  Do me now!”  Or we can say… “Nah… I’ll pass.”

Ouch!

We don’t want to be with someone who makes us doubt ourselves.  Our ego won’t stand for that at all…and will convince us we don’t have to either.  You can bet we listen up when our ego speaks.  It’s our inner Gandhi!  Respected and revered.

~ Sex keeps us CONNECTED ~

Marriage is a river of problems.  From romance to finance.  From kiddos to low blows.  From families to failures.  Our only hope of crossing that river and surviving its treacherous waters is to join together and form a bridge.  An interlocking connection that will lead us safely to the other side.  If we don’t come together, interlock our pieces, and stay connected…we’re left with no means of crossing that river of problems.  And the only recourse will be divorce.

Our bridge is sex.

Sex is connection…a marital lifeline that bonds us.  So, if the sex fades, intimacy fades.  No more touching, hand holding, kissing, snuggling, talking, confiding, …No more anything.  Connection broken.  Bridge blown to pieces.  No way across.

Successful marriage is an endangered institution.  Sustaining it requires connection.  Connection requires sex.

So be proactive.  Change your world.

Bang!  🙂

Chick Hughes

“Sex is an emotion in motion” ~ Mae West

photo by: LilGoldWmn

Thrills, chills, and squeals.  Adrenaline junkies at heart!  We love to hate horror movies, push our fear factor limit by creeping through haunted houses, plunge from ledges with nothing but a glorified rubber band fending off the grim reaper, and flock to amusement parks in search of a thrill like hard ‘n’ horny “gentlemen” waving dollar bills in a strip club.  Some of us take on those thrills, climb on stage, and bump and grind…while others stand on the sidelines, live vicariously, and just…watch.  One group will leave with a thrill.  The other, only the bill. So, here’s the question:  If life were an amusement park and new experiences the rides, which rides would you stand in line for?  Which ones are worth it?  Worth the wait…worth the risk?  Would you opt to play it safe, take the short line, and settle for the Teacups, Tilt-a-Whirl, or indoor shows?  Or would you seek out the risk, build anticipation in line, and get your adrenaline pumping on the biggest, baddest, hair-raising, death-grazing roller coasters in the park?  The shush or the rush?

Relationships present the same dilemma.  Once we pair up, settle down, and marry…then what?  Do we settle into routine, expect the expected, and watch our zest for life run away with the hottie next door?  Or do we dare to dry new things, strive to grow as individuals, and sample life’s wide array of flavors together…as a couple?  Do we opt for a love affair with life…or bore one another, derail our marriage, and flirt with divorce?  Keeping a marriage on track is not for faint-hearted.  It takes work, work, and more work.  Hitched hoopla has it that marriage will falter under the strain of many things…paying the heating bill in a cold economy, disciplining an undisciplined child, a sexual affair in a sexless relationship, or who the hell’s turn it is to scrub the toilet.  While all are deal shakers, sheer boredom may just be the big daddy deal breaker.  After all, what does one do when bored?  Bored with monotonous chores, with do-nothing weekends, with rare ordinary sex?  Hmmm…look for something else to do?  SomeONE else to do?

Hold on to your pride!  YES!  Humans are inquisitive by nature.  We do NOT like to be bored…not with work, not with life, but most importantly…NOT with love.

Studies show that modern couples are looking for partners who make their lives more interesting, more fun, more…stimulating.  😉  We’re looking for the va-va-voom!  And according to divorce statistics, we’ll sacrifice family and finances to get it.  Dr. Gary Lewandowski, a professor in New Jersey, performed studies proving that individuals use relationships to accumulate knowledge and experiences.  That what we’re looking for in a partner above all else is self-expansion.  We want to learn, to grow, to view ourselves in new and exciting ways.  So, if we see our partner as a source of gained knowledge, creativity, and fun, we’re more likely to remain committed. But once we stop expanding, we grow bored and begin looking elsewhere to further ourselves.  Damn egos.

Researchers conclude that couples who have fun together, engaging in silly or intellectually stimulating experiences, report feeling more connected…more in love.  And on the flipside, those who only engage in boring monotonous stimulatingly challenged experiences — i.e. chores — report feeling disconnected…unhappy…wondering what else, or who else, could be waiting around the corner.  Disconnection precedes divorce.  No fun…no hon.  Laughter is, in fact, the best medicine…for all your boring needs.

Doubt our need for excitement?  Just count the zeros on the paychecks of entertainment stars.  We want, need, and will pay high dollar for entertainment. “Entertain me” may sound very self-serving.  It is.  But we are.  We ignore our self-serving ways.  Reject our selfishness out of guilt…blame our boredom on something more socially acceptable.  Irreconcilable differences, perhaps?  Reject away…but at our core, we’re self-serving individuals…human beings successfully evolved to outwit, outplay, outlast.  To do this, we must grow, learn, and expand.  Without the idealistic pressures we place on ourselves, without the societal expectations of being a do-gooder, without worrying about what someone else will think…drop the mask.  Explore the “banned no-man’s land” of your mind and ask yourself…

“Am I bored?”   No judgment…no one’s listening.

The reality is…as long as we’re growing, learning, experiencing, pushing life’s envelope, and having fun, we’ll stay committed.  We’ll plant ourselves in our spouse’s garden, reach for his sunny rays of excitement, soak in his nutrients, and grow.  We place great value on that garden…remain content basking in the “glow of the know.”  But once the sun recedes, the garden shades over, and the nutrients dry up…we begin to wither and droop.  Our buds drag the ground.  We long for someone to dig us up, transplant us to another, more promising garden, and bring us back to life.

Next up:  affairs, separation, and divorce.

Is it any wonder a new relationship is so exhilarating?  It presents us with new ideas, new experiences, new takes on life, and new sides of ourselves.  Makes us feel alive.  Being in any long-term relationship, good or bad, will usher boredom to our doorstep.  We can let it in, settle into our butt-imprinted comfy chairs, and fall asleep watching sitcom repeats…or we can meet it at the door dressed as our fun alter ego and take it…take us…for the ride of our lives.

So, how do we provide ourselves AND our sweeties self-expansion?

Step out of the comfort zone.  Try new things.  Go new places.  Meet new people.  Explore unexplored sexual taboos. Take a class together.  Discuss politics, news, the latest Chick Hughes article, culture…life.  Engage in a friendly debate. Constantly push and challenge one another.  Anything to keep us feeling fresh, new, relevant, ALIVE.  When we feel alive together, we feel connected…In Love!  Mi Amore!

So, while touring life’s amusement park, which rides will you get on?  Will you go for the rush or settle for the shush?  All couples can get on the Teacups together, but they may not get off together.  A terrifying toe-curling coaster with your sweetie will leave your blood pumping, your heart racing, your connection sealed, and sparks flying.  You’ve just self-expanded together.  Love and learn.

Avoid derailment.

Love on the edge.  😉

Chick Hughes

“Boredom: the desire for desires” ~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Life’s many faces 🙂

photo by: wreckedm

You, me, WE.  Yours, mine, OURS…c’est WE!  Who knew those bitterly plotting pronouns would follow us long after we bid adieu to our rigid English instructors’ bloody war zone of red corrections slaughtering our diligently written papers.  Stalking us like ninjas in the night…ready to obliterate us with their nunchuck skills the minute we utter our marriage vows binding “me” to “we.”  Singular pronouns D.O.A.  Your plans.  My savings.  Your house.  My car.  Your money.  My kids.  Married adults declaring “Mine, Mine, Mine, Me, Me, Me?”  Much like a couple of preschoolers brawling over the only light up Buzz Lightyear toy.  One difference…preschoolers are way easier to deal with.  🙂  We adults sometimes get so caught up in remaining individuals, we forget that we married for a reason…to join TOGETHER.  But, understandably, with a 50% divorce rate, we may find ourselves in self-protection mode, keeping assets, experiences, and problems separate…just in case.  The problem is “me” can’t manage a marriage.  The mindset of “we” is what keeps us bonded together.  Without it, “me” usually ends up becoming a divorce statistic.  Me, you, us, we, mine, yours, ours.  The language of marriage quickly devolves into one down and dirty pronoun throwdown!

It seems obvious enough.  For a marital union to remain happy, it must be…well, united.  A union is formed when two become one.  Two individuals merging together to form a singularity.  If two individuals don’t wish to become one ~ financially or emotionally ~ they should also avoid a marital merge  and should, instead, travel as a parallel pair on a perpetual dating road.  But for those who do choose a marital merge and wish to prevent fatal accidents, the traffic lingo must be WE.

A study published in the journal Psychology and Aging followed 154 middle aged couples and had a front row seat to their pronoun throwdown.  Blood and gore galore!  Last one standing:  “WE!”  Those couples who stuck to plural pronouns… “our,” “us,” or “we” …were happier with one another and showed less physiological stress.  When conflict did arise, these couples showed more relaxed heart rates, had lower blood pressure, and were better able to resolve their conflict.  Opposite the plural pronoun victors were those who emphasized their separateness…using singular lingo such as “I,” “mine,” or “me.”  These couples weren’t as content in their marriages, had more difficulty resolving conflict, and displayed more negative facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.  Hmmm…they were sore losers even before they lost.  🙁

In today’s modern matrimony, some couples predict their own failure.  Before the marriage license is even signed, they anticipate divorce and make it a point to keep anything and everything separate…mine, yours, no confusion.  Some see it as savvy business sense or self-protection.  Some see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Our expectations sometimes predict, or cause, our outcomes.  Things like prenups, while my logical brain can justify them, scream “red light” to my emotional brain.  Entering into a union that is based on trust without trust seems a moot point.  Why open the door if you’re expecting an armed stranger?  And if you do open the door and arm both yourself and the “stranger” with ammo, fear and self-preservation will eliminate one…or both.

But that’s just finances.  Some couples choose the more treacherous road…emotional singularity.  Rather than focusing on financial assets, they focus on more intimate day-to-day experiences and problems.  Day after day, reiterating their separateness.

~ to the sick spouse ~ “You’re sick?  Ok, you stay home.  I’m going out.  See ya.”

~ to the wife who pleads for help with birth control ~ “Your body.  Your problem.  I’m not getting a vasectomy!”

~ to the husband who worries about money and struggles to support the family ~ “I AM buying this for myself.  I deserve it.”

~ to the wife who’s crying over a lost connection ~ “What’s your problem?  I’m here.  What more do you want?”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…”  but words can break our bond.

Turns out words are much deadlier than sticks and stones, acting as poison darts firing upon an already choking emotional connection.  When we disconnect emotionally, we tend to quit thinking in terms of “we” and focus on “me.”  We’re no longer a team.  Gone are the days of “us against the world.”  We divvy up our metaphorical weapons and prepare to stand alone.  We stop making together plans, stop considering the other’s feelings, and begin carrying out our days alone only crossing paths when absolutely necessary.  Result…LISTEN UP!  The fat lady is singing.  D.i.v.o.r.c.e…it’s D-Day.  He finally has those double D’s he’s been dreaming of since his pubescent afternoons spent in the john.  Unfortunately, the only thing he’ll be “jerking” on is his wallet as the divorce lawyer charges him for giving her half of everything.  Uh-oh…the fantasy has gone horribly awry, no?

So, how do we take back our marriage?  And control our looming pronoun throwdown?

Experts say it’s simple…equality.  Neither husband, nor wife, dominating the relationship.  No “his.”  No “hers.”  Just “ours.”  Whether it’s financial assets, debt, problems, or plans…the concept of “us” suggests a team…working toward a common goal and providing support and confidence for one another.  Without the team mentality to help us through life’s storms, we’ll be drenched in the pouring rain hoping our tiny umbrella for one won’t attract the crackling lightning from above.

Scientists say our pronoun lingo is as telling about what goes on inside our marriage as an x-ray is of what goes on inside our body.  It can show a healthy body…or it can reveal a nasty cancer festering, growing,  and destroying its host. They say to master our marriage, we must master the art of togetherness while maintaining our own identities.  That we must share interests, feelings, ideas, experiences, and memories.  When shared, this common ground serves as our marriage fingerprint…gives it a uniqueness all its own.  No two alike.  This fingerprint is bonding as a couple and helps to create a sense of “we.”  Together, we’ve survived terrible twos, teenage rage, job loss, and dysfunctional families that make us want to bitch slap the Cosbys.  On the other hand…together,  we’ve enjoyed births, anniversaries, school plays, vacations, and holidays that would put a tear in Clark Griswold’s nostalgic eye. “We” persevered…together.  And together, “we” stand united to face whatever more this fickle life has to throw our way.  As long as WE control our pronoun throwdown.

Ditch the “‘me.”

Say “OUI” to “We!”

Chick Hughes 🙂

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” ~ Robert C. Dodds

photo by: ZoofyTheJi

Beauty.  Society contrives it.  Cover Girl revives it.  Our eternal quest drives it.  It’s possibly the most sought after, most elusive Godiva truffle in life’s box of Hershey’s chocolates.  Unfortunately, every box of chocolates has at least one poser…appearing deliciously scrumptious on the outside, but revealing its bitter treacherous flavor upon cracking its beautiful shell.  Women, and increasingly men, will do anything to attain “beautiful” status. Diets, creams, Spanx, injections, surgeries, implants, human microwaves, electrical facials…body parts return and exchange at the customer service desk of our local Body Shop.  “You hate it.  We fix it ~ More bod for your buck.”  And that’s just America.  Other cultures are equally extreme when it comes to achieving beauty.  That’s right…the quest for beauty doesn’t discriminate based on gender, skin color, religious beliefs…or planetary location.  It’s a global phenomenon, and we’re but its mere minions.  So, what IS beauty?  Who defines it?  Cosmo?  Vogue?  Playboy?  Modeling gurus?  Photoshop?  Culture?  And why are we so eager to conform?  Why do we refuse to think outside the “beauty box?”  The recipe for beauty is spelled out for us through pop culture.  But maybe we should alter the ingredients, shake things up a bit…add more spice, more variety…see how the flavor changes.  🙂

Psychologists say we’re born with an innate knowledge of what’s beautiful…and what’s not.  When shown different facial images, babies show a preference for attractive human faces over unattractive faces.  They linger and look longer at faces adults would consider beautiful.  Why?  Because babies, like adults, prefer symmetry.  Whether it’s patterns or faces…they choose to gaze upon symmetry.  And symmetrical faces are synonymous with beauty.  So, some experts hastily conclude that we’re born armed with a universal definition of beauty.

I’m skeptical.  Do we like beauty because of symmetry, or symmetry because of beauty?  Which is the predictor of the other?  Whatever the “chicken and the egg” answer, one’s idea of beauty is much broader than symmetry alone.  According to the Journal of Psychological Science, our idea of attraction seems to follow a prototype…a look we’ve come to anticipate after seeing it repeatedly…something familiar to our brains.  They reported that what we find attractive is whatever requires the least amount of effort for our brain.  If we grow up around a particular impression of beauty, we’ll likely maintain that impression throughout our lives.  This theory would certainly explain the cultural aspect of defined beauty.  Our lazy brains are forcing us to take the easy way out and conform to “beauty in a box.”  Guess it’s too much effort to run the brain around the block every now and again.  😉

Beauty, when allowed to be, is an abstract individual concept.  But because we need a concrete tangible outcome to strive for, we’ve boxed it in…narrowly defined it and labeled any and all differing physical attributes as “unattractive.”  Pity.  It limits not only our own beauty, but our dating pool as well.  And we’re not alone.  In any corner of the world, we find a localized limited definition of beautiful…one boxed in by the boundaries of that particular culture.

For instance:

~ In Japan, beauty is…smooth, extremely light skin tones ~ porcelain-like.  Japanese women feast on collagen-infused foods to lighten their skin, scour the market for the best face whitening creams money can buy, and apply nightingale bird feces as facial masks.  Wait…porcelain-pooping birds?

~  In Thailand…very elongated necks.  At 5 years of age, young girls begin wearing brass rings around their necks and add more rings as they age.   As their necks elongate, they’re considered more and more beautiful.  Sounds awkward…but hey, with an elongated neck, they now can “look down” on their suppressors.

~  In New Zealand…lip and chin tatoos.  The most desirable women have full, inky blue lips.

~  In Ethiopia…scar patterns on the stomach.  The elders make cuts into young girls’ tummies to form patterns and prepare them for their impending man hunt.

~  In China…tiny feet.  For centuries, women have bound up their feet to attain this “ideal” …but only managed to deform them in the process.  Foot binding is no longer in practice…turns out walking did trump beauty after all.

~  In Iran…a perfect nose.  Women aren’t allowed to appear sexually suggestive and must cover every part of their bodies except the face.  Because the nose is the only thing to flaunt, they flock to plastic surgeons to get pricey nose jobs.  And because the surgery is considered a privilege, they wear the bandages longer than necessary as status symbols.  Iran is the “nose job capital of the world.”  Seems you can’t suppress sexual competition after all.  When all else fails, the “nose knows” how to get a man.

~  In West Africa...full heavy figures.  Thin is considered sickly and undesirable.  Plumpness, stretchmarks, thick ankles, big butts, and juicy arms are what land a man.  Young girls are force fed to fatten them up and make them more attractive to men.  Baby got back!  😉

It’s obvious we don’t share a universal idea of beauty…preference for symmetry maybe, but that’s where it seems to end.  Blonde, tan, and unrealistically thin may represent American beauty, but it would be repulsive in some cultures.  Beauty means something different according to who you ask and where you ask it.  For the most part, it seems beauty is largely defined by our Cultural Beast and propagated by mass media.  And, mass media is our reference point for beauty, unfortunately.  Self-mutilation, self-degradation, self-starvation…it seems there’s nothing we won’t do to attain that “beauty.”

In our perpetual attempt to open life’s treasure chest of love and approval, we find beauty is the key.  So, we conform…or contort…ourselves to get our hands on the “key.”  We want to feel beautiful, and we take extreme measures to fit into our cultural “beauty box.”  But once we box ourselves in, there’s no room to grow.  We become stifled and confined.  True beauty comes from within.  It’s dark in a box, and if we’re miserably squished into a dark space, our beauty can’t shine through.  However, outside the box, away from the confines of the Beast, our beauty can grow…evolve…change…thrive.

So, don’t box beauty in and tell her what she SHOULD be.  Open your mind and let her show you what she CAN be.  Define your own beauty.

Challenge the beast.

BeYoutiful!

Chick Hughes

“Beauty is not caused. It is.” ~  Emily Dickinson

Photographer: Suat Eman

Bad health leads to doctors.  Doctors to health insurance.  Health insurance to stress.  Stress to bad health.  Round and round we go.  Nothing revs our ailing engines more than America’s five-star health careless system…a system riddled with fickle coverage loopholes, high premium sinkholes,  deep deductible manholes, and pre-existing condition hellholes.  Notice the common denominator?  All holes leading to the big daddy…the health insurance Black Hole!  We pull money from our asshole, throw it down the insurance black hole, and end up digging our own financial hole.  The holes are many, and regardless of our tap dancing talent, we fall in repeatedly.  When faced with failing health, we’re forced to take a crash course in the crooked ways of our greedy private insurer’s coverage plan.  If we weren’t sick before, we are now.  If only we could fund our ever-rising insurance premiums with the money our sue happy lawyers won on our behalf for the emotional suffering inflicted by the complications of “our policy.”  You know…give them a taste of their own “money.”  Tell them where they can stick “our policy.”  If only we had a choice!  We may not have a choice when it comes to going to the doctor, but we may have a better health care plan already in place that can help us avoid the doctor…one free of loopholes, sinkholes, manholes, and hellholes…one secured by our better half.  A happy marriage?  Could it be that Dr. Love is our best insurance policy?  That marriage actually promotes our health?

Medicare, Medicaid…Medimarriage?

All experts agree…YES!  A happy heart is a healthy heart!  Countless studies confirm that a happy marriage helps keep our bodies healthier and private insurers poorer.  But scientists say marriage itself isn’t the key.  That it’s the relationship or commitment — not the institution — that keeps us healthier.  A matter of how close we are as a couple.  The intimacy we share, rather than the space.  A disconnected, stressful marriage is, in fact, worse for the heart than single or divorced life.  Stress is the bearer of bad health.  It manifests itself physically via high blood pressure, low immune system, depression, gastrointestinal problems, rashes, or emotional disorders like anxiety.  And let’s face it…avoiding daily stress is about as easy as making actual eye contact with Jessica Rabbit.  Her eye color is as much a mystery to us as the elusive stress-free day.  Marriage itself can create extra stress, but a stable loving connection with our sweetie combats that psychological stress and keeps it from physically running amuck in our bodies.  How?  L.O.V.E.  Love lowers the stress hormone, cortisol…less stress translates into a happy heart.  It boosts our immune system and reduces heart disease.  Those who are happily married are healthier, less stressed, and live longer than those unhappily married, divorced, or single.  The happier the marriage, the healthier the spouses.  The more hostile the relationship, the weaker the immune system.  When stress takes over, our body falls apart.  But when love is the artist, it’s a “work of heart.”

Psychologist John Gottman says the benefits of a happy marriage are “better health, more resistance to infection, fewer infections, and a reduced likelihood of dying from cancer, from heart disease, from all major killers.”  And those benefits are consistent across age, race, education, and income groups.  Love is a universal band-aid.

Interestingly, for singles or unhappily married adults, having a network of supportive friends didn’t improve health.  Only when the heart is involved…when we have that unconditional bond of love…only then does it reduce our stress hormones and promote better health.  What does that mean?  Marriage is all heart!  🙂  When our heart is happy, our bodies reap the benefits.  When our heart is unhappy, our bodies pay up…as do our wallets.  The sicker we are, the more insurance costs…until eventually, we’re “too sick” to cover.  Yes, apparently there’s only so much “sick” the private insurance companies will tolerate.  Health coverage only for the healthy?  Hmmm, corporate sarcasm perhaps?

Some scientists speculate that the reason we’re in better physical health when in a happy committed relationship is that our spouse inspires us to drink less, smoke less, get regular health checkups, and have better nutritional intake.  Well, isn’t that obvious?  But there’s more to it than that, right?  Even infants thrive with loving skin-on-skin, heart-to-heart contact and deteriorate without it.  Maybe everything begins and ends with the heart.  Our heart thirsts for a connection, a bond, an unconditional love.  When that thirst is quenched, our bodies thrive.  But when that thirst is denied, we deteriorate.  We need love like we need water.  Without that bonded love to ground us, we fry when handling life’s electric stress.

Our heart/body relationship seems to be like any other…surviving on the give and take.  A loving bond gives the heart what it needs.  The heart reciprocates, lowers stress, and keeps the body healthier.  Give and take.  The heart may regulate the physical body, but love regulates the heart.

So, next time you’re stressing over the latest in “hellthcare,” or getting one too many doses of daily stress…slow down.  Find your better half.  Cuddle, connect, and let love medicate you.  Look into your sweetie’s eyes, and say, “Do you need a checkup?  Possibly an XXX-ray?”

“Lay back…the doctor is in.”   😉

Chick Hughes

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” ~  Mother Teresa