Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Celebration - and Defense - of Long-Distance Relationships

There are so many ways to find happiness with another person.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing long-distance relationships and whether they were practical or feasible to enter into. He thought no, but I argued yes. I could not understand his vehement insistence that they were simply, to quote him, hopeless and not worth the effort. "If I'm seeing someone," he said, "then I need to see them every day. I couldn't handle not seeing them but once a month, or even once a week.That's not for me."

Wow. But that's okay...not everything is for everyone.

I'm very independent, creatively ambitious, and, as my son's only parent, committed to giving him as much of my time as possible. For this reason, I often find it difficult to imagine trying to squeeze time to get to know another person into the picture. When I've tried it, it has often left me feeling like I'm in a whirlwind, with more going on than I can handle. I feel divided. I don't like it.

So for me, the idea of beginning a relationship with someone I'm not going to need to see every day, week, or even every month is not hopeless, but very intriguing. Of course, at some point in a long distance relationship that is going well, there's going to be the inevitable discussion where someone has to decide to move, but that is just a matter of timing and pacing. I know several couples who are happily married who began their relationships while their beloved was miles and miles away. One just celebrated their 11th anniversary to a man she met online, a happy and fulfilling relationship everyone convinced her would never work.

Sometimes, the right person for us is simply not going to be down the street or in a neighboring town. I often wonder how many people stay single their entire lives simply because they are afraid to venture into a long-distance relationship. Yes, I believe that LDRs do present different challenges and take a deeper level of commitment, but I also believe wholeheartedly that for some, it is going to be what works.

Here are a few more reasons I believe LDRs are worth the effort...

1. Too much togetherness can make one forget that they are a person in their own right. With LDRs, too much togetherness is never an issue, thus both parties have a clear and concise sense of who they are as both individuals and within the relationship. In other words, there is no loss of self-identity, which is critically important to the success of any relationship. (Also, I believe having a strong sense of self-identity and knowing who one is gives the strength and fodder needed to maintain a long-distance courtship in the first place.)

2. Quality time verses quantity time. In LDRs, when you finally do have time to be with your beloved, not a moment of it is going to be wasted. It's precious. And in the future, both parties are less likely to take one another for granted because they can both clearly remember being miles and miles apart, and how difficult it could be.

3. LDRs provide unique opportunities for old-fashioned wooing, which I find missing in general courtship, but deeply romantic and, at least for me, necessary. I personally love the idea of being wooed, and in LDRs, the whole process of this has to go a little deeper to happen. Packages in the mail, silly texts, handwritten letters, surprise takes a little more originality and creativity than simply hopping in a car and going to a movie or concert together. I, for one, like the idea of a person being a little more original and creative in order to capture my attention and vice-versa - I'd like the chance to do the same.

4. Commitment. Bottom line, this is what makes or breaks LDRs, and I find alot of it simply depends on individual personalities. How bad do you want this particular person in your life? Do you really believe that if you give up on them because the situation is inconvenient that you'll find someone who speaks to your soul just as clearly closer by? Like every relationship, LDRs are a risk...but often, one worth taking.

5. Trust. With LDRs, trust has to be complete. Without it, you can not keep going. This is what keeps many folks from entering into LDRs, but trust can be just as much of an issue if you are living with your beloved. It's simply going to come down to how much you believe in the other person. And yourself. And the two of you together.

6. Love of adventure, because let's face it, that is what LDRs are going to be. An adventure as you get to know not only another person, but their world as well, which is bound to be different from yours. I believe it takes a certain type to embark on such an adventure, and that alone is the first tie that binds the two souls into even trying to make a seemingly impossible situation work. Showing another person all the magic in your world, or even thinking about showing it to them, would enable you to see it more as well...and that's always a good thing.

Bottom line, I continue to disagree with my friend, who believes LDRs are hopeless and not worth the effort. Granted, they aren't for everyone; some people simply need more one-on-one attention than others, and that's so many other things in life, relationships are all about balance and finding someone whose needs and wants match your own. I do believe, however, that when the mystery unfolds, and you find there is another who speaks to your soul, even softly, it's worth listening matter where in the world they are.

There is no rhyme or reason to attraction, and certainly none to love. For some of us, it just has to unfold differently, for whatever purpose, but it does not mean it's not going to be a beautiful journey. Follow the link below to read my favoritest LDRs storiy of all-time. And remember, what comes to's always worth it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bold Activism

In the beginning...first bag only half-filled at this point.
 I guess I should not be surprised that folks who drink booze while riding in cars are not especially concerned with the environment. Still, the amount of beer, liquor and wine bottles we picked up tonight did amaze me. I guess they needed to dispose of all evidence of their drinking before arriving at their destination, because let's face it, people usually can't tell if you've downed a pint or two so long as they don't see the bottles anywhere, right?

Same goes for the junk food and latte junkies, who apparently need to hide the evidence of their Mac-splurges and four dollar caffeine fixes. I can't think of any other logical reason that we found so many McDonald's bags and burger wrappers along that roadside, and the founders of Starbucks would probably cringe in horror if they knew how many of their plastic cups I picked up.

And we're nowhere near done with this small strip of wild. It's not totally wild, but it does border some wildness, wildness that we value and want to keep free of the garbage of modern society. Literally. Cleaning up the route we walk along most evenings was my son's idea, and of this, I could not be more proud. You never saw a more enthusiastic little steward of the earth as he dutifully picked up even the ickiest of the debris and tossed it into his bag. We only brought two, and filled them up quickly. And while I am proud of my son for valuing the environment and speaking for the earth, trees, and animals, I'm absolutely racked with disbelief that so  many other people simply don't.

The evening's haul...sad, isn't it?
I wonder where they learned not to care. Was it demonstrated to them by their own families, or are they just so self-absorbed that their personal needs - like having a clean car - outweigh the needs of the their community, or the environment? It's hard to say. But the good thing is that there are so, so many people - like my own child - who DO care. And who will make the effort and go the extra mile for the earth they love. On drives, my son will point out places in subdivisions where people could put community gardens. Recently, he asked me why people preferred growing grass - as in lawns - to having gardens in their yards. I smile at this suggestion, because I know there is an entire  movement going on that is encouraging people to do just that - tend gardens, not lawns. He doesn't know this...he just knows it makes more sense to grow food you can eat than it does to tend tidy neat lawns while buying produce trucked in from the other side of the continent.

Spreading soil and mulch in the community garden beds...
And I love that he's figured this out already, without having to be told, because talk is talk, nothing more. In the end, the most important things we pass on to our children are what they learn when we lead by example. Those hours I have spent in the garden; the times I picked up trash on our hiking trails; the saving of bread crusts to take to the geese and ducks; the painstaking sorting of recycling, he sees all of these little things, and little things done in the name of love for the earth become big, huge things when you are raising a child to be bold enough to care about their environment.

No one wakes up one day and decides to become an earth activist...the seed of love for the environment has to be sown, tended, watered, and encouraged to grow and grow and grow. Read more about this, and about two renown earth activists, at

Friday, February 15, 2013

Follow Your Name by Kedar Brown

Pay attention!

Be careful not to distract yourself from yourself by focusing on the obstacles in your life.

Focus on the delivery of your medicine, not on the story in your head where your recount your limitations and loss.

Do not indulge in such self-importance as a way to avoid taking responsibility for your medicine and the gift of healing you came here to offer.

You are the heroes or heroines of your story.

If you do not know the mythology of your own life you will likely be living an existence that is not entirely your own.

The amount of turmoil in your life is proportional to the degree that you are not aligned with your medicine.

 The life you know you must live is the one standing just a few paces in front of you… waiting for you to remember.

Apprentice yourself to yourself and move to the frontier of you own imagination.

Do not appear in the world in such a way that others give you a name that is too small for you.

- passage by Kedar Brown, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, CHT. Brown is Founder and Director of Rites Of Passage Council, Inc and Program Manager and Therapist for Phoenix Outdoors, which is part of SUWS of the Carolinas in Old Fort, NC. He will be facilitating an Adolescent Rites of Passage event in Columbia, SC on February 22, 2013. For more information visit

Painting by Amy L. Alley, Awi' Usdi, Little Deer of the Cherokee.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Climb Mountains...

Helping cut green beans for dinner...
 We were at the check-out line when I realized I'd forgotten freezer bags. The good news was, they were right there at the end of the aisle, so I didn't have to go very far. I left my son in charge of unloading our cart, and stepped over to grab a box of freezer bags. I have about a gazillion pounds of pecans I'd picked up in my parents yard and had shelled that need to be cleaned up and stored, a time consuming task worth every effort. Walking back to the check-out, wondering when I was ever going to find time to finish the job, I nodded hello to the elderly gentleman who'd came to place in line behind us.  He was bearded and stout, with a red cap over bushy white hair and a heavy flannel jacket, jeans, and hiking boots.

"Do you climb mountains?" My son asked the man, out of the clear blue sky. He chuckled, "Why yes, I did, young man. Many of 'em, back in the day."

"Do you look for gold?" was the next question. "Well, kind of. Found a vein of silver once, but it was on government property so it didn't help me none. Loved roaming out west, though. Had me a burro for a long time. We'd go up in them hills and stay long as we could. You prospect?"

I explained to him that my father was a long time prospector, and that I'm climbed many a mountain and was taking my son on his first real climb this summer.

"Lemme tell you, tell your dad he needs to go to Yuma, out by Arizona," the old-timer went on, and told the story of a special place of legend, just somewhere between the California and Arizona borders, about 3 days on foot from Yuma, and a lot of other twists and turns and even a trailer park landmark, and if a person might find themselves in a certain place at a certain time, they'd see the opening to a treasure trove of gold that has not been seen in 100 years. "Its like another planet out there, in the desert," he said. "Like another time."

Fabulous story. And a fabulous, bold man. He was rustic and authentic, and I did not doubt a word of his tale. Before heading out, he turned to my son and smiled. "Live big, little man," he said, "and don't be afraid to climb mountains."

Later that evening, while preparing supper together, we talked about the mountain man and his story of hidden gold and trekking up and down mountains with burros. "I hope we see him again," my son said.

I do, too.