Don’t Count On Tomorrow

pamela18_4802greyIf there’s one thing that is certain — life is uncertain. For years we’ve heard the colloquialism, “You can’t count on seeing tomorrow.”  Well, we’ve come to a place in time when that particular colloquialism seems outdated.  You can’t even count on getting past today.  I think about it a lot because I see so much going on around me.  I’m constantly reading tons of news stories about world events that appear to have us in global turmoil.  I’m always hear about things changing minute by minute.  The unforeseeable always seem to be popping up without warning.

Some years ago one of my brothers shared an incident that happened at his workplace. While at lunch, a colleague shared the details of an ugly fight he had with his wife earlier that morning.  The encounter started out with her chastising him for not taking his prescribed medication.  He perceived her wifely concern as “nagging”.  After listening to his colleague’s account of what happened at home earlier in the day, my brother reminded him that she was just trying to look out for him.  Upon hearing his wife’s side of the disagreement from another person’s perspective who wasn’t involved, he saw the light and promised to apologize as soon as he got home that evening.

Just after they finished lunch and stood up to leave, my brother’s colleague collapsed, and unfortunately, the emergency responders couldn’t revive him.  One of them commented to my brother that his colleague had suffered a massive heart attack and was dead as soon as he hit the ground.  Of course my brother was shaken by the tragedy that occurred right in front him.  Who is expecting someone to drop dead at lunch?  Sometimes women (including me) think men aren’t aware of certain things when it comes to emotions, but the conversation that I was having with me brother was one of those times when I was reminded to stop “gender judging”.  What touched my heart was the fact that he couldn’t forget about the conversation he had with his colleague, and was even more concerned that his colleague dropped dead leaving unfinished business at home.  This was unsettling for my brother, who felt he had to do something to at least help his deceased friend to finish his business at home. He couldn’t rest imaging how this man’s wife must have felt having her husband storm out of the house after a heated argument.  It must have been devastating that the next time she heard something, it wasn’t from him, but was about him – his demise.

He made a decision to help relieve her of any feelings of guilt or responsibility.  When he thought she could handle the conversation, he was going to let her know that her husband had every intention of apologizing to her later that evening.   She needed to know that reconciliation was already in the process even though her husband never returned home.

Over the years, I’ve often thought about this story.  At times like this, I’m reminded of how we take so much for granted – especially when it involves loved ones.  We get so comfortable with having them in our lives, we rarely think about life without them until it happens.  As we go about our daily busy lives, we can lose focus and become engrossed in a lot of things that really don’t matter.  We can have arguments, with some of them being real scorchers, without much thought that those moments of disagreement could be the last we have together. It’s not so much about not counting on tomorrow, as it is paramount that we make every effort to stay mindful of the precious moments we share with those whom we profess to love.

We all have our hot buttons, and sometimes we need to blow off steam, just to get it out in the opening and over it.  I am guilty of not getting over it sooner rather than later.  During my youth and as a young adult, if I had a disagreement, I wanted no parts of the other party for days – sometimes weeks.  Actually I could go for months without contact (Ya’ll, my momma was praying for me).  I had little to no consideration about whether the incident would be the last time I saw the other party.  But as I grow older, wiser, mellow, and more conscious of the uncertainty of life, I work like hell to get over things quickly.  In retrospect, I’ve found they’re not worth it.

Our loving relationships are like treasures, and we are to guard them as such. Have your moment; go to your corner; decompress at the mall; hang out with the fellas, but make sure to find your way back to your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, or boo and straighten things out.  Don’t count on working it out tomorrow when you have today.  Extend the olive branch if the other person is too proud to.  I’m a realist and aware that all of us don’t bounce back immediately, but here’s an alternative.  State the facts.  “I’m mad at you right now, but I love you.  I need a minute to re-group.”   Just don’t leave them hanging with “I’m mad at you.”  They already know that part, but may be uncertain if “mad” takes the place of “love”.  Most of us can take “mad” as long as we know “love” still abounds. Ladies, sometimes when he’s sitting there steaming mad, just walk up and kiss him without warning.  Men, if you just show up with a single rose (carnation if you’re on a tight budget), I guarantee you she will appreciate it.

If you know you’re the culprit — the party guilty of the offense, be courageous and admit it. Yes, it takes courage to apologize.  It’s the coward who knows he or she is wrong, but blames the other party, or worse, tries to make the other party buy into the lie.  The other person deserves the apology, so don’t let your foolish pride win over fixing a hurt.  Besides, once you apologize, the weight of guilt will be lifted.  Both parties win.

Hope for tomorrow.  Plan for the future, but don’t take either one for granted.  Make sure they know that you love them, even in times of disagreement.  Tell and show them they’re loved.  Celebrate each other – just because.  Don’t wait for holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries.  When it comes to good loving, there’s no time like the present.  You never know what tomorrow will bring or if there will even be a tomorrow.  You have today.  Make it the best day ever for you and your loved ones.

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How To Be Intimate Without Feeling Silly

pamela4_2252

 

As pleasing as the thought of intimacy is; as good as intimacy feels while you’re engaged in it; as wonderful as the afterglow can be, there are those individuals who struggle with feeling silly when it comes to initiating, participating in, or even talking about intimacy. “Silly” is ridiculous, unreasonable, or preposterous.  There is no reason for you to feel any of these things when it comes to something as passionate, wonderful, and fulfilling as intimacy. The uncomfortable feeling of “silly” overwhelming your atmosphere is the wall of frustration that separates your desire to experience optimum pleasure from your reality of enjoying the optimum experience of pleasure.

If you are one of those people who struggle with overcoming these silly feelings, you may or may not be aware that regardless of the desire to be close, most of us, at one time or another, have had to deal with figuring out what to say, do, or how to act during our intimate moments, and have experienced internal battles trying to avoid coming off as silly. Unfortunately, the energy that goes into avoiding “silly” only adds to the pressure and contributes greatly to the very outcome we were trying to avoid.

Stop feeling like you don’t measure up to everyone else because you’re entertaining feelings of silliness when you want to be intimate. The key to learning how to deal with “silly” is to become knowledgeable and comfortable with intimacy. You’ll deal much better when you are acquainted with intimacy because the more you know about it the more comfortable you are with it. The more comfortable you are with intimacy, the better you are at expressing it verbally and/or physically. When you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about, you feel more confident. Confidence is an aphrodisiac and “silly” – well, it’s not even worth mentioning.

Just take a moment to think about what happens when you feel silly about intimacy. When it comes to intimacy, silly inhibits you from saying what you really feel. Your inhibitions cause you to either say nothing, or say all the wrong things. If you say nothing or the wrong thing, your love interest will be responding to nothing or the wrong thing. Don’t be concerned with fancy words, or try to communicate with a vocabulary you are either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with when it comes to being verbally intimate. The other person isn’t looking for an eloquent speech in the heat of passion. He or she wants to hear something they clearly understand, as well as something that will arouse passion. So just tell them how you are feeling at the moment.

Never try to add more than you’re comfortable with. Sometimes the simplest words hold the most power. For example, at an anniversary celebration, when speaking of his feelings for my mother, my father simply stated, “I’ll take this love with me to my grave.” The whole room was immediately filled with an uproar of applause. That applause was evidence of the passion my father had aroused in the entire crowd – not to mention my mother who was glowing at hearing her man make this declaration in a room of more than 100 guests. Did I mention this was at their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration? It’s safe to say that expressing love with very basic words was probably one of the ingredients that kept my parents’ marriage passionate for 60 years and eight months.

Since “silly” has no place in our intimate moments, we have to know how to minimize or completely get rid of this distraction or detraction (a reduction or taking away of quality, value, or importance from something). Feeling silly in intimate situations is usually attached to a man or woman who feels awkward, uncomfortable, or incompetent. In order to conquer these feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, or incompetency, the man or woman who is overwhelmed with these barriers must learn how to be comfortable with intimacy. When we think of intimacy, a lot of us immediately fast forward to the act of sex, which is the most intimate act between two people and probably one of the most vulnerable states to be in. If you don’t understand intimacy or are uncomfortable with touching, you are not going to feel comfortable with the type of touch that is expected when it comes to intimacy. If you’re not the touchy-feely type, don’t worry about grand gestures and acrobatic moves that braggers boast about.

There are some men who women love to be around. These men know how to touch a woman in a friendly, loving, or a compassionate manner. The awesome thing about this type of man is that he understands the power of touch, even if it has nothing to do with sex. Women can sense this and respond accordingly. They love being around this type of man because they know he won’t take advantage of a gentle touch that was intended to comfort, say that “I care,” or “I’m here for you.” These ever-so-gentle touches go a long way with a woman. She’s thinking if he’s this sensitive in a platonic situation, he must be awesome when it comes to romance. So the man who learns how to become comfortable with intimacy in ways other than sexual actually has an advantage over the man who identifies touching with sex only.

The woman who is comfortable with intimacy is the woman who is comfortable with herself. The woman who lacks confidence is not in the right frame of mind or physical condition to be intimate. Intimacy is precious and sacred. Therefore, it should be treated as such. In this regard, a woman has to know and be comfortable with what pleases her. This is accomplished by knowing her body; knowing what her expectations are; and having a sound mind in order to make sound decisions.

If a woman is ashamed of her body, doesn’t take care of it, and has little to no knowledge of the female body, then she cannot know what pleases her. Feelings of silliness will come into play because she is awkward, uncomfortable, or believes she is incompetent. If a woman is confident, she will not feel silly – the two do not go hand-in-hand. The confident woman is in the best position to teach the man who wants to be intimate with her how to treat her. This is called empowerment.

When it comes to the body, women should be aware that men like a lot of the things we don’t like about ourselves. You may hate that every hair is not in place, while he loves your tousled look — just may have been thinking about running his hands through it; you may hate the weight you’ve put on, while he feels it’s more of you to love; you may not want him to see you in an old tee shirt and some raggedy jeans with no make-up, while he sees you as fresh-faced and approachable, all ready to be hugged, kissed, and whatever else that leads to. You see, “silly” is just that – ridiculous, uncalled for, and unnecessary when it comes to intimacy.

Pamela Reaves © February 14, 2012

 

 

Who’s Fooling Who

Pam Reaves

From Author Pam Reaves’ column in Copa Style Magazine

A few days ago, Rodney Wayne Branch, Owner and Publisher of Copa Style Magazine, and I had our weekly chat. It is not unusual for us to discuss every subject under the sun. Both of us love to talk, and during a single telephone conversation, we can subject-hop like you wouldn’t believe. Without fail, we always wind up in my area of expertise (i.e. relationships), and that is why I’m a firm believer that relationships affect everything we do. No matter what the subject matter is, we wind up discussing it from a relationship perspective. Such is life – no matter what happens to us, there is a relationship perspective involved.

Ever since the Sterling/Stiviano scandal broke, we’ve had much to discuss, and what comes out of the Sterling/Stiviano discussions is amazing. This week, we talked about the conversations Ms. Stiviano recorded. What struck me initially about this week’s chat was how differently men and women digest and process information. One of the questions Rodney posed to me was, “Why would V. Stiviano tape their conversations over a period of time?” He says he’s still trying to figure that one out. Men are usually fixed in their thinking. So Rodney dealt strictly with the present facts. His male-influenced line of thinking didn’t include the small or seemingly insignificant incidents that led up to the tapings; emotions that caused one of the parties to tape their conversations; or what gave rise to the train of thought regarding the value of the tapes when all hell broke loose. For Rodney the facts are that: (1) Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano had some type of intimate relationship; (2) V. Stiviano decided to tape their conversations; and (3) the tapes have had major impact on Donald Sterling’s personal, as well as professional life.

Now women tend to be more analytical when it comes to relationships. We will dissect them to death to understand the dynamics of what is going on or what happened. We will delve into the emotions because we understand that emotions are what spark most controversies, arguments, chaos, or destruction. So for most women, it isn’t hard to figure out why V. Stiviano taped the conversations. In this regard, I shared my analysis with Rodney and gave him insight into the female psyche.

Given what characteristically happens in a May/December romance, and the dynamics thereof, I offer the following analysis. Mr. Sterling, who is at least 50 years older than Ms. Stiviano, imagined (and I place emphasis on the word “imagined”) that he was lucky, rich, and powerful enough to entice a young woman into an intimate relationship and do with her as he pleased. Given the age difference, it isn’t unreasonable to conclude that he was of the opinion that she was naïve about a lot of things. Being the worldly, wealthy, and powerful man that he is, there was no reason why he would have to consider whether or not he could handle a relationship with her. Mr. Sterling may have been of the opinion that given her age, life experience, and ethnic/cultural background, there was nothing she could ever do to harm him. What resources could she possibly have at her disposal to harm him in any way? Then given her socio-economic status when they met, she could be lured into an intimate relationship because she would be gifted with material possessions that only a uber-wealthy man could bestow upon her.

In my motivational speaking, empowerment seminars, and coaching sessions, I always discuss the danger of complacency. For purposes of this article, I will say that Mr. Sterling became complacent in his relationship with Ms. Stiviano, so much so that he was comfortable with having any type of conversation with her. Hence, he didn’t see any danger in expressing race-related matters with her even though she is of African American/Mexican descent. He became complacent in thinking he owned and ruled her. Based on an assumption she expressed in a television interview that she was his everything and loved him, he may have thought he had convinced her that they had a loving relationship. So this is where the Who’s Fooling Who reality comes into play.

Ms. Stiviano has always known with whom she was dealing. She knew he was an extremely wealthy and powerful racist. It was a certainty that one day something would happen in the relationship where she would need indisputable proof of whatever the something turned out to be. But for the tapes, it is likely she would have been dismissed as a nut case, disgruntled employee, liar, or extortionist. She was well aware that he was willing to pay for her attention and whatever else she had to offer notwithstanding his racist views. Although we have good reason to question her moral code, she knew he was without one as well. In this regard, if and when things went wrong, there would be no boundaries when it was time to silence and/or destroy her.

When we listen to the tapes, the tone of Ms. Stiviano voice is never argumentative, hostile, or combative. She merely asks probing questions, and he delivers the answers, proving what she has always known about him. We have now seen a number of television interviews involving the key players in this scandal. I cast my vote for Ms. Stiviano for being the interviewee who has remained calm under pressure; prepared for the hard questions; and unfazed by how she’s been portrayed. That is because she was always ready for this day.

It is Donald Sterling who was unprepared for the blow-up. With all his power, wealth, education, and resources, none of it worked because the Player got played. As the details of their relationship have emerged, as well as the comments made in the interviews with Donald Sterling, Shellie Sterling, and V. Stiviano, we see the devastation of toxic relationships. Donald Sterling thought he was playing V. Stiviano and in the end, he was the one reduced to tears in an Anderson Cooper interview because he thought she loved him. Shellie Sterling has been married to a man for almost sixty years (a life time), and she states in an interview with Barbara Walters that she doesn’t love him. So we can assume that for some time she has been in a loveless marriage. V. Stiviano’s interviews come off like she’s ruthless, heartless, stupid (remember the comment “I’m his Silly Rabbit”), and without morals. The interviews have been hard-hitting, but she remains cool. In this case, cool isn’t a good thing. It’s tragic that a young woman’s life is so morally corrupt that healthy emotions and relationships elude her, but she seems to be okay with that.

Lies (an untruth) and deceit (to omit the truth) are elements of the toxic relationship, and those who are involved in these types of relationships rely on lies and deceit to get what they want, control their partner (another element of the toxic relationship), and as hard as it is to fathom, maintain the relationship. Toxic relationships are destructive, so it is ludicrous to think that lies, deceit, and control will preserve any healthy relationship. As lies, deceit, and control compound, the individuals who are involved become lost in a maze where all parties become players, if for no other reason than to survive. Relationships, good or bad, become a part of us. The risk of being the Player is that he or she will get played. If you tamper, play with, or entertain toxicity, it will become a part of you. If you seek, embrace, and preserve healthy relationships, the elements thereof become a part of you.

Pamela Reaves is the Founder and CEO of NELLA LLC. She is a Certified Professional Coach, Author, Empowerment Seminar Facilitator, Magazine Columnist, and Lifestyle Event Visionary. Pam holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Management and has over 30 years of professional experience working and thriving in diverse corporate cultures. Pam has appeared on several radio talk shows, radio blog talk shows, and participated in a host of other cultural events, conferences and workshops. She has been a participating author in several book expos and festivals.

To read more of Pam’s articles, please visit http://www.copastyle.com.