Trip to the North of England

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Photo taking on the side of the road in the Lake District.

This past easter weekend, my wife Sara, her friend Adelle Flora Princess Spindlove —but we’ll call her Adelle for now— and I, took a road trip up north. Sara and I were headed to Lake District, whilst Adelle to Stratford-Upon-Avon — the little town where Shakespeare was born. We all jumped into a rented car and drove the scenic route towards Adelle’s destination. Along the way, we saw luscious landscapes of green fields and hills. Adelle spotted a huge tree that had a hole at the bottom of it, which to her looks like a man’s mouth.

It’s been getting better and better driving on the left side of the road, although at times I forget and yank the steering wheel back over to the left. Most of my concentration was used to focus on the road itself, not to much on the signs telling me where to go. Luckily, there was plenty of navigation in the car, from my phone, car navigation and Sara. As we arrived in Stratford-Upon-Avon, I still didn’t see any sun shine. I wanted the day to start out nice so I could see the landscape’s true beauty. We bid farewell to Adelle as she went to spend time with her friends, we would see her in a days time, to head back home.

Sara and I started our next bit of driving towards Lancaster, which was a little over two hours from Stratford. My lower back was beginning to ache, but I had enough energy to do the whole distance. I noticed that the weather never changed since leaving Southampton — the infamous dark clouds of England. However, as we approached Lancaster, the sun shined upon us. The warmth of the sun felt reassuring and made me feel like it was glad to see me too.

We stayed in a lovely house just outside of Lancaster, we could see fields of green far out in the distance; it felt spacious and free. Chickens in the backyard with a little lake stream, the air was clean and clear. I slept really well that night, exhausted by all the excitement of travel.

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Sara and I

The next day was an early one, we were ready to see what the Lake District was all about. The woman who owned the house we stayed in, gave us a nice route through the Lake District, which was great since I had no idea what to expect. As we were driving up we could see the most beautiful landscapes, the sun shining on the land, like how I imagined. It reminded me of taking the train trip from London about 16 years ago when I visited a pen-pal; the first time I took the train alone in another country — I originally was visiting my family in London for the first time.

During the Lunar eclipse, Sara and I were in a small restaurant. I could feel the pressure in my ears and soon after Sara started feeling tired and emotional; the increase in energy was certainly felt. As we continued on our journey through the Lake District, scenes unfold of different hills, animals and mountains pass — lakes sparkling in the sunlight. We walked in a little village named Rydal, we walked with some sheep and Sara did a small meditation involving the four elements. As I waited for her, I took many photos of anything that was interesting; as the day was coming to an end, I said a small prayer in thanks for the weather being so great.

The next day, which it was time to head home, I woke up and looked outside the window to see thick fog. A short distance away I could see some cows huddled up together as if they were having a group meeting. As we headed back to Stratford-Upon-Avon to retrieve Adelle, the fog seemed to have disappeared. However, the dark clouds of England had returned and things were bleak again.

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Rocking my Pancho

As we were approaching Stratford the clouds started to dissolve and the sun took claim of the skies, it was that moment I realized why I loved the sun so much: I understood that when the sun shines it creates contrast, you’re able to see distinct shadows on places that the sun didn’t reach. In a metaphorical sense, the sun creates light to see our shadows or subconscious so that was can shine the light of awareness upon them. The dark and cloudy weather keeps things in even lighting and it’s much harder to see the shadows of our being, thus no awareness of what’s keeping us from reaching new heights in life.

We arrived to Adelle successfully and headed back to home. I didn’t want the trip to end, remembering my love for traveling by car. The combination of music and the road in front of me, makes me feel like I’m always going somewhere, staying in motion does something to my being, something I haven’t fully figured out yet.

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Poetry: Inhale and Exhale

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Photo taken at Stow, UK

In with the new, like a toy, unable to leave this unique and unusual element alone.
The increase in Eros throughout my being gives rise to excitement, like the rush from sugar, sweetness engulfs my soul.
In with the new, the muscles of my face less used, with a smile. The art of life drawn on my blank canvas with all the colors of the rainbow.
Fluid and free, I Inhale the essence of existence to automate my shifting energy through the space of my four walls.

Out with old, the full trash can of decomposing emotions, recycling in its release.
The contraction of my being causing pain of change, the elements I wish to keep are allowed to leave, whether I want it, or not.
The freewill of the universe resides in my bloodstream, flowing down to my feet and up to my heart, the circulation carrying the oxygen of dead cells — on the Exhale.
What no longer is needed withers in the invisible substance that floats around our anatomy. I am safe in knowing I no longer need to keep, what I thought I worked so hard to reach.

Take a deep breath……..Now, let it out, be at peace.

How to REALLY Communicate

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Photo taken at the Tor, Glastonbury, UK

If there is one thing that has room for improvement, its interpersonal communication. There are only a few people out there that are really good at it, and well, the rest have a lot of catching up to do — including me. That does sounds harsh, but lets be honest here, communication wasn’t taught in standard schooling and isn’t practiced enough in a constructive way. The majority of the time, learning how to communicate came from watching our parents and feeling our way blindly through society. The communication I refer to is the common everyday interactions that tend to lack any real substance. How to REALLY communicate, requires a few key elements.

Trust:

In society today, trust is the element that is dangling in the wind — the point of view of the city life style. In small communities, trust is a whole lot stronger because people tend to know everyone anyway. However, trust plays a major role when communicating, it requires a certain level of vulnerability in an individual. Human connection is lacking in our modern day and, as time progresses, this connection will become weaker and weaker, if we let it. Not only is trust among people suffering, trust within ourselves is wavering as well. Learning discernment, and paying attention to how you truly feel are important factors to building trust within the self — this, in turn, will be reflected in our reality when communicating with other people.

Thinking:

Too often we don’t think deeply enough before speaking. A lot of the time there are reactions to what other people say and not enough responding. To react means to take what the another person says personally and immediately reflect back to that person an equally or more hurtful statement. To respond means to hear what the person is saying, understand how the person feels and use empathy. Its also important to be as clear as possible when conveying ideas and feelings with another person, as well as listening carefully.

If someone is in the position of the speaker and is leading a conversation which involves requesting something of another person, it’s best to be as clear as possible in order to not create confusion. In a marriage, a wife may say to her husband, in an irritated tone: “We never talk about anything,” implying she wants to talk about something more in depth. The husband could take this as an attack or criticism. He could also think: “We just talked about what to eat for dinner.” To communicate more effectively, and get what you want, the wife could say: “It was such a beautiful sunny day, how did you feel during work today?” This has the potential to open up a person for connection, more than hearing something that sounds like an antagonistic statement, rather than a clear request.

If the person in the position of the listener is left in a place where he or she feels they have to react rather than respond, its best to pay close attention to what the speaker is saying and choose a response that appropriately fits the situation. For example: A customer may say to a store employee: “You’re an asshole for not letting me use the restroom!” As a response to that customer, the store employee could say: “It seems you’re very frustrated at the moment, since you really need to use the toilet, however, next door has toilets that are open to the public.” The store employee does two things here; first, he or she doesn’t take personally what the customer has said to him/her; and secondly, assists in providing a solution that would fulfill the customer’s need. We all know the need to use the restroom has the potential to prevent us from being calm. In other situations, listening could require additional empathy, refer to my blog about Listening.

Finding the Bravery:

To open up and connect with another person you don’t know demands a lot of courage. A lot of people out there, including myself, are genuinely shy people — undercover introverts. However, if the desire to make connections is there, certain steps need to be taken. The first step is to assure yourself that the other person is NOT going to destroy you. As a person taking initiative in starting a conversation, it can be nerve-wracking, as negative thoughts about how the other person will perceive you seep into your mind. You begin to sweat, stutter, or loose track of what you wanted to say to begin with — take your time. The second step is to be confident in who you are, that means don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, but don’t forget to listen to what the other person has to say about themselves too. Often times, when you start a conversation, you find a common interest and things progress organically — that’s the goal! The third step is to realise that not everyone is going to want to connect with you right away — or at all — and that is perfectly fine. Keep in mind that the people who come into your life are meant to, even if things look horrible.

In short, how to REALLY communicate requires, trust, thinking, empathy and responding. With these tool at your disposal you’ll see yourself much more clearly and thus you’ll see other people a lot more clearly, too. You’ll establish connections that’ll be much more solid and long-lasting — that’s what it’s all about. We’re here to connect with each other and grow, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Theories: Triad Relationships

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Photo from theatlantic.com

Throughout mainstream media, society, and in our personal life, we all know that in relationships there is “supposed” to be one man and one woman or— what’s becoming more and more acceptable these days— same sex couples. However, there are relationships out there that have more than two people in them, and I’m not talking about open relationships, or the infamous threesomes. I’m talking about an actual relationship that has three people engaged in an equal exchange of physical and emotional connections. At the same time, what I’ll be writing about is my personal theory in the how a triad relationship can work and the general requirements for it to be successful. A lot of this is coming from my own perspective, I’ve spent a lot of time meditating in the past three years and connecting with my own heart, clearing out the social conditioning and pressures to see the vast potential in a union such as a triad. I want to be clear as well that this subject matter is not full on polyamory, much rather, a joining of hearts in a way that would only magnify what already is in the traditional one-man one-woman scenario. Furthermore, I’ll be discussing this based on a triad that consists of two women and one man. As I believe, with a combination of two-women one-man triad relationship, there is a higher potential for it working more successfully. I am not saying this is the case in all situations, but, as I’ve seen from many observations I’ve made throughout my life, women connect on a deeper level with other women rather than men to men. Granted if a man in a triad is open to the idea of another man, the situation is left open for interpretation, as is for all the other combinations.

In any “normal” relationship there is the exchange of love, support, compassion, carrying out house chores and taking vacations together. With a triad, it’s the same exact thing but with a third party. I know what you’re thinking, why a third person? However, a better questions is, why “not” a third person? Having a third person creates a greater dynamic in various situations a one-to-one relationship wouldn’t have. Often times in a one-to-one relationship, disagreements arises where you have both people reacting to each other as if it were a fifteen minute ping pong match. Majority of the time, in the heat of the moment, two angry people are screaming at each other until someone backs down and really starts listening; or worse, gives up. In other times that same heated situation can last for days or months and eventually there is a separation. On the other hand, having a third person increases the chance of there being a mediator, thus, arguments are had and there’s a higher chance of peace being made because that third person can hear what the first two are in conflict about.

One of the major qualities of having a triad relationship is the exchange of love. I’m not talking sex, I’m talking about raw love energy. Imagine feeling disappointed about not getting a job promotion you’ve work really hard to get, or feeling insecure because your art work didn’t get the amount of positive feedback you had hoped for. Receiving the love and support from two people you love equally has a huge amount of potential for making you feel comforted, accepted and encouraged in an instant—for a longer period of time. Imagine how a child would feel with this amount of love and compassion coming from two mothers—the idea of this alone presents a plausible reason for having a triad relationship. Also, that’s not to mention the practicality of it all; less rent to pay, twice the cuddles, twice the hugs, someone being there for the children, always having someone to talk to, and to top it all off; the potential for amazing sex.

The biggest reason that a triad wouldn’t work, would be primarily due to a lack of communication, secondly, close-mindedness. Just like in a one-to-one relationship, communicating is key—not just talking about any old thing, but talking about true feelings. If the members entering a triad don’t have a good handle on communicating their feelings, any one can be pushed out or be left feeling like the third wheel. A consistent flow of stating what each member wants and needs, and what their goals and

 Photo from theprodentist.com

Photo from theprodentist.com

plans are is essential for it to be a successful relationship. Lets face it, there will be times where each member will have moments of insecurity, embarrassment and shame, just like in a one-to-one. It takes a very open-minded person to even explore a triad, so if your mind is already closed to it, then it’s not the best thing to get into. Thinking only on the sexual parts and not the emotional parts will bite you on the butt harder than an angry Rottweiler. Just be prepared to face shadows that will arise within a triad relationship — they will hit you quickly.

What brought me to this conclusion that a triad is beneficial was due to many self-realisations and basic logic. As I’ve mentioned, I meditate often. When you meditate often enough, you start peeling away the social and parental domestications that are put in place during childhood. Watching T.V. movies, real life people and over hearing conversations; we all are under the influence and pressure of what other people think and say. Meditation connects you with your core self, dissolving the introjections that were infused into the mind by society and the people closest to us. The ideas, of what “should” be, that you once thought were you own, were actually someone else’s— probably someone from eons ago. This is what I’ve discovered in myself: connections, relationships and love are not limited to a one-to-one relationship and can be so much more enriching with a third. The extra additive of perspective, love and joy is as great as having a warm fudge brownie with strawberry ice cream and caramel syrup. At the same time a triad works with all members on the same level of thinking and is exclusive to each other. I don’t consider it being a playground for sexual pleasures, its to really connect on a spiritual, mental and emotional level.

You’re probably thinking, what is so wrong with a one-to-one relationship? Absolutely nothing! If that’s your preference, then it’s your choice; however, is that preference based on your own idea or the ideas of another long past? In retrospect, it doesn’t really matter at all, yet, a triad relationship has an ample amount of potential for enhancing the way we view ourselves and the world when it comes to love and making emotional connections. Triad relationships could be the next evolutionary step in bringing a more harmonious way of living for all of man-kind.

Authenticity and Blogging

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Photo taken in Dominican Republic

Throughout the last eight days, I have been participating in a thirty-day blog challenge with a close friend of mine from NYC. With each blog I’ve worked hard to produce pieces of writing that are authentic and close to me, however, some online magazines that republish blogs and articles have told me that one of the blogs I sent them for submission was in too much of a “bloggy” tone. Until this day I have no idea what that means, but it does raise alarm bells in my mind.

Being overall grateful to even get this kind of reply, I had to really think about my style. I strive to be as authentic as I can, writing in a way so that it feels like I’m speaking with you face to face. My favorite book, “Hector and the Secrets of Love,” has the style closest to what I want to achieve in my writing. The whole reason I decided to take on this blogging challenge is to practice how to use words in the best possible way. For the longest time, I believed my writing was the most horrible thing on the planet, and that my imagination can go far beyond the limitation of grammar and punctuation. However, being a film-maker and wanting to write my own scripts, I had to focus on creating texts that touch people’s hearts in a way that films can’t do.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life being different and standing out; from presenting Japanese as a language portfolio in high school in order to graduate— Spanish being the only language taught at the time— to marrying my wife and taking her last name. I continue to ask myself: how authentic can I be when I do anything? As the years go by, it’s becoming harder and harder to be very different in a world filled with people all doing the same thing. Nonetheless, I still find some way to surprise myself and the people around me.

Blogging is certainly not an easy thing, especially on a daily basis. Spending a lot of time daydreaming, I tend to create things in pictures more than textual concepts. For so long, I’ve been training my awareness in order to take these daydreams and turn them into films, which was challenging enough. Now, bending my mind to be more aware of the philosophical concepts going on in my mind and translating it into text is new territory I’m venturing into. For those who know me, they would say I have a certain kind of wisdom to me. Blending the elements of blogging, visuals, philosophical concepts and wisdom into a 500 to 2000 word document without boring the reader sounds right up my alley for achieving authenticity and distinguishment — the joy of making my own words.

Only a few more days (21) until this challenge is over. I’m not exactly sure if I’ll keep writing every day after that but I’ll be sure to type away with a new heightened state of awareness. The keen desire for authenticity in all the things I do really drives my creativity and motivates me in life, and, it’s a fine time to take control and embrace this hidden talent in me. No need to worry, you have talents too, and they’ll be there until you are ready to see them.

What is More Effective, Empathy or Sympathy?

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Taken at Mottisfont, UK 

Probably one of the hardest decisions we have to make in our lives is how to be there for people or give people support. Much of the confusion we encounter involves our uncertainty about the use of sympathy and empathy. Naturally, many people lean to one or the other, but; what is more effective in creating a strong connection and giving rise to personal growth? To answer this question, we first have to know what empathy and sympathy are, keeping in mind that both of these traits can be learned —like most things in life.

Empathy:

Being able to be present with another person’s feeling is empathy’s playground. It means to co-exist with another, without allowing your own feelings to interrupt their current expression of their flow of emotions during a conversation. Empathy, you could say, is a non-judgmental state of mind in which all you’re doing is aligning your own feelings to the other person and seeing things from their unique point of view. In the state of empathy, there is a high degree of listening involved and understanding the meaning of words that are not said. For example, if someone tells you, “I hate seeing homeless children,” in a harsh tone of voice, an empathetic response might be: “It sounds like seeing homeless children really makes you upset, why is that?” By responding this way, you’re telling the other person that you acknowledge how they feel and are willing to further hear what they have to say. By doing this, you are creating a support structure and establishing a stable connection with the other person.

Sympathy:

Much more of a comparison of feelings with another person, often times having sympathy means feeling happy for a person or feeling sad. Normally it’s a reaction to how someone else feels and then matching those feeling with a same or different situation. Many would say that sympathy creates more of a disconnect, based on the fact that there is an invisible line of competition when it comes to the level of how someone would feel in a worse or better scenario. On the other hand, having sympathy can allow another person not to feel alone or isolated when it comes to their emotions. For example, if someone said to you, “It makes me happy to be able to watch my son walk for the first time.” A sympathetic response might be, “I know, I feel so happy too when I’m able to hold my daughter in my hands as she sleeps.” By responding this way you’re relating the same type of feeling in different situations, however, this can cause disharmony or create rapport, depending on the individuals.

What is more effective in creating a strong connection and gives rise to personal growth?

In the most popular cases, sympathy would be looked at as being the “natural” way to create a connection with someone; but how solid a connection? If a person is trying to explain how they feel, the consistent interruption of interjecting feelings can make a person more reluctant to open up further. Listening becomes much more rigid as a dialogue with a person who only gives sympathy; it will leave the speaker feeling like they’re not being understood. In a real life situation, if you take a moment to listen to how your friends, or even family, speak you can observe how in many situations feelings are being compared rather than one person actually listening to how the other feels. Responses that consist of giving advice right away or, conversely, trying to look at the brighter side of things, will not help the listener fully establish a strong bond with another person and this approach is most certainly not going to giving rise to personal growth.

However, from looking at the meaning of empathy you can see that making a lasting relationship is always possible. Allowing another person to say what they feel or think, without interjecting your own feelings gains trust on a level that exceeds that of sympathy. To be able to say what’s on your mind without judgment can open a doorway into yourself, allowing the progression of personal growth; for not only does the one doing all the speaking grow, but also the one listening. Listening to someone else’s experience and how they feel creates a union that dissolves the thoughts and feelings of separation — a state we all strive to avoid.

At the same time, empathy and sympathy are not only on a one to one basis, but can also be used on a personal level.

For the majority of my life, I would say, I’ve suppressed my own feelings when it came to many relationships and friendships. I was overly worried about other people’s feelings that my own discomfort was reflected back by those same people. For example, back when I first joined the US military, I did basic training before moving on to job specific training, which took place in Maryland. I met a beautiful girl who I thought was “THE ONE”. We immediately connected, and I knew I liked her and she liked me. After a while, and once I had the freedom to move off base, we spent an evening filled with events like walking in the mall, going to the movies and playing pool. That night we really hit it off. However, the very next day things flipped like a hot pancake. Her usual attentive behavior suddenly changed, where once we had looked at each other with affection from afar, now I became completely nonexistent in her world. I couldn’t quite understand what had happened and I tried everything in my power to regain her attention. I went as far as to march the entire company we were in, roughly 150 people, in a cadence that was purely about her and everyone knew it. Even after my time was over with that training, I drove back down to Maryland from New York City to confess my love to her. From her perspective I was probably a complete weirdo, but from my perspective I thought I was being utterly romantic. I kept telling myself sympathetic reasons why she didn’t like me anymore, such as: “She probably doesn’t want a relationship because she’s going on active duty in Germany and I’m going back home,” or “I have to be more persistent if I am going to have a girl like her.” However, I never gave myself enough empathy and I never acknowledged to myself how I truly felt; which in those times were anguish and grief at being ignored. If I had given myself more empathy and recognised my own feelings, I would have probably accepted her not liking me anymore and simply moved on. The way she ignored me was a reflection of how I was ignoring my own self.

In the end, empathy takes the medal home for creating a much richer connection with others over sympathy any day. Especially when it comes to giving empathy to the self. Focusing on personal growth not only helps the individual, but is a key to helping other people, too. And, doing so with empathy will take you much further than sympathy ever will, even if it comes at the cost of being alone.