Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tried In Combat

This true story was shared to me by a mentor of mine.

“A turning point came in my life one day on a train in the suburbs of Tokyo, in the middle of a drowsy spring afternoon. At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the quiet afternoon was shattered by a man bellowing at the top of his lungs, yelling violent, obscene, incomprehensible curses. He was big, drunk and dirty. He wore laborer’s clothing. His eyes bugged out, a demonic, red. His hair was crusted with filth. Screaming, he swung at the first person he saw, a woman holding a baby. The blow glanced off her shoulder, sending her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the baby was unharmed.

The couple jumped up and scrambled toward the other end of the car. They were terrified. The laborer aimed a kick at the retreating back of the old lady. He missed, the old woman scuttled to safety. The train lurched ahead, the passengers frozen with fear. I stood up.

I was young and in pretty good shape. I stood six feet, and weighed 225. I’d been putting in a solid eight hours of Aikido training every day for the past three years. I liked to throw and grapple. I thought I was tough. However, my martial skill was untested in actual combat. As students of Aikido, we were not allowed to fight.

My teacher, the founder of Aikido, taught us each morning that the art was devoted to peace. “Aikido,” he said again and again, “is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate other people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it.”

I listened to his words. I tried hard but I felt both tough and holy. In my heart of hearts, however, I was dying to be a hero. I wanted a chance, an absolutely legitimate opportunity whereby I might save the innocent by destroying the guilty.

“This is it!” I said to myself as I got to my feet. : This slob, this animal, is drunk, mean and violent. People are in danger. If I don’t do something fast, somebody will probably get hurt..”

Seeing me stand up, the drunk saw a chance to focus his rage. “AHA!” he roared, “A FOREIGNER! YOU NEED A LESSON IN JAPANESE MANNERS!” He punched the metal pol to give weight to his words.

I held on lightly to the commuter-strap overhead. I gave him a slow look of disgust and dismissal. I planned to take this turkey apart, but
he had to be the one to move first. And I wanted him mad, because the madder he got the more certain my victory. “ALL RIGHT! he hollered, “YOUR GONNA GET A LESSON.” He gathered himself for a rush at me. He’d never know what hit him.

A split-second before he moved, someone shouted “HEY!” It was ear splitting. I remember being hit by the strangely joyous quality of it---

We both stared down at a little old Japanese man. He must have been well into his seventies, this tiny gentleman, sitting there immaculate in his kimono. He took no notice of me, but beamed delightedly at the laborer, as though he had a most important, most welcome secret to share. “C’mere,” the old man said in an easy vernacular, beckoning to the drunk, “C’mere and talk with me.” He waved his hand lightly. The big man followed, as if on a string. He planted his feet belligerently in front of the old gentleman, and towered threateningly over him. “TALK TO YOU,” he roared, “WHY SHOULD I TALK TO YOU?”

The old man continued to beam. There was not a trace of fear or resentment about him. “What’cha been drinking?” he asked lightly, his eyes sparkling with interest. “I BEEN DRINKING SAKE,” the laborer bellowed back, “AND IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”

“Oh, that’s wonderful,” the old man said with delight, “absolutely wonderful! You see, I love sake too. Every night, me and my wife (she’s 76, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it out into the garden, and we sit on the old wooden bench that my grandfather made. We watch the sun go down, and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. Persimmons do not do well after ice-storms, although I must say that ours has done better than I expected, especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. Still, it’s most gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening—even when it rains!” He looked up at the laborer, eyes twinkling, happy to share his delightful information.

As he struggled to follow the intricacies of the old man’s conversation, the drunk’s face began to soften. His fists slowly unclenched. “Yeah,” he said slowly, “I love persimmons, too… His voice trailed off. “Yes”, said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.”

“No,” replied the laborer, “My wife died.” He hung his head. Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the big man began to sob. “I don’t got no wife, I don’t got no home, I don’t got no job, I don’t got no money, I don’t got nowhere to go. I’m so ashamed of myself.” Tears rolled down his cheeks, a spasm of pure despair rippled through his body.

Now it was my turn. Standing there in my well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make- this- world-safe-for- democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.

Just then, the train arrived at my stop. The platform was packed, and the crowd surged into the car as soon the doors opened. Maneuvering my way out, I heard the old man cluck sympathetically. “My, My,” he said with undiminished delight, “that is a very difficult predicament, indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it.”

I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled like a sack on the seat, his head in the old man’s lap. The old man looked down at him with compassion and delight, one hand stroking the filthy, matted head.

As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle and meanness had been accomplished with a few kind words. I had seen Aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love, as the founder had said.”

Lose to Gain?

Losing in your marriage in order to win? Show Up Naked With Food is pro husband, pro marriage and thus pro wife! I think pressing hard to find in yourself your incredible ability to forgive, your willingness to be humble, and your desire to choose LOVE above being right... is a remarkable blessing that marriage affords us.

Unfortunately, I have struggled with my nature of being really competitive and really opinionated as well. I feel sorry for all those who have been the brunt of this stubborn gal's ways and particularly my sweet husband who is meek, gentle, and easy going. I notice, without a shadow of a doubt, that when I am most at peace is in those all to rare times I am sincerely willing to be wrong and willing to put others before my own "make this world right" mentality.

I know when I am faking it though, if I am just trying to end an argument but inside and still convinced of my own righteousness it just doesn't play the same as being genuinely humble and loving. I appreciated an article I just read about this idea of being willing to lose in order to win... I liked this line at the end of the article...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lost that Lovin' Feeling?

Repost from 2010

The first few years of marriage, many woman seem to want the physical interaction with their husband as much as he does. I will never forget a friend of mine, a mother of 3 children, saying something about only having sex with her husband once a week. She said she could easily go one month without it. I remember thinking, “Sad I will never get like that. I need it way more, that is crazy!" Then, I had a baby. Things really changed. With milky boobs, extra baby weight that didn’t help make me feel very sexy, incredible fatigue, and the new hormones pumping through my body, I suddenly understood how my cute pal could say what she did. It was kind of this sad realization that my sex drive was independent from me. I couldn’t deny the fact that I didn’t need or want it as much. I believe most mothers know exactly what I am talking about. From having spoken to a lot of people and having read dozens of forums where hundreds of men and women express their concerns about this very issue, I am confident my experience was not out of the norm.

Because it is totally normal for a new mother to experience a loss of her libido along with her once slimmer waist line, women tend to want to get an “OK” for saying no to their husbands, because then they won’t have to feel bad about it. This is where the problem begins. She has to make him wrong, insensitive, or selfish in order to justify denying him.

After the birth of a child the love a wife has for her spouse is often stronger than ever, but the desire to engage in sexual activity is not. I am not even talking about the 4 to 6 week (and Doc never said 46 weeks as some woman like to pretend) waiting period for intercourse after childbirth. Which brings me to a quick additional point about how there is not really an excuse to still not take care of him- there are lots of other ways to meet his need during this time! Even after the prescribed period woman are claiming headaches and exhaustion, when if they are truly honest, doesn’t stop them from enjoying little pleasures like watching their favorite program, reading a good book, or having a chat with a girl friend on the phone about the joys or challenges of motherhood. Some woman actually report an increase in sexual desire right after birth but it doesn’t seem to last. By about month 3 the last thing she is wanting is a man to be all over the same parts of her body that baby has been hanging from all day.

Low self esteem contributes to the problem for many women because they feel less than desirable. They smell like spit up, their body has traumatically changed, they are in pajamas all day and certainly don’t have time for makeup or to do their hair. Many women can’t believe he’d desire her in the first place. Post partum blues are common and then the problem really increases as she pulls away from him. He, being hurt, from the constant rejection may not make as many advances as he use to and she takes this as confirmation that he is not interested which encourages this cycle to continue. I have spoken to a lot of my friends who have become new moms and I have researched this with a lot of reading and this problem can be devastating.

Men don’t always have the skills to deal with their feeling sexually deprived. They often resent the wife or try guilt trip tactics which only makes her defensive. Some men withdraw, take it out on the children, or turn to other means outside of their wife (even cheating can and does occur)… but no matter what, even with the most understanding and patient man, this issue will take a toll on a marriage and end up hurting both of you.

Now while I am in no denial that men could learn some things about how to encourage us better. They could do a million things better to make life easier for us and make us more willing to jump into bed with them… but that is not what this blog is for. I am a wife and a woman. It isn’t too effective for me to tell the other side how to be. I feel the only way you can influence your relationship to improve is by worrying about YOU! What can YOU do as a wife, what are YOU doing to make things work? I may be taking an unpopular stance for many woman and especially roaring feminists but I say the proof is in the pudding.

The deal is you have to change the way you think about this issue. If you think of it as some chore or resent how you have to take care of your selfish husband because Show Up Naked with Food says so, you won’t reap all the rewards. If you can see it as a need of his, one you are happy to oblige because you love him, you’ll find the connection and spark of your marriage can burn brighter than ever. But hey, even if you do it out of guilt, I will say it won’t be worse than completely neglecting your partner because that’ll HURT YOU in the end. If his needs and wants are not on your agenda. Why should yours be on his? This is the law of nature, like an echo “What you send out comes back to you”.