50 Ways, 14 Days

Good Afternoon, oh loveliest of people!

Forty six days ago, Carlos and I told you that we are embarking on (yet another) grand adventure, one that is ultimately all about you.

In case you’re just joining us, Carlos and I are writing a book about love, in all the ways that we make and share and enact it. We know about the ways that we share our love with one another, and the people closest to us, but we know there are as many ways to be a lover as there are lovers. We want to shine some light on all the love that’s out there.

50-Ways To Be a Lover from Rose del Rio on Vimeo.

The support and excitement you have shown us has been tremendous. I have so many songs to write! And so many video calls to arrange! OMG HURRAY!

In even more “OMG HURRAY” news, Team del Rio will be reunited this week! I cannot tell you guys how much I’m looking forward to smelling my husband. Also, so many hugs! You may not know this, but Carlos gives the best hugs, and they are all mine (except the ones Rockford will be getting).

Anyway, what that means is that it’s almost time for us to start rolling! And time for us to close the gap on our funding! Luckily, it’s kind of a tiny little gap that we have left – just $435 $410!

In case you haven’t taken a moment to check out our project, let me tell you that there is a way that one person (!) could make this happen for us. Are you a super generous person who loves us? Do you want us to roll up to your house and make you dinner (while you play with our baby, probably)? Be Part Of The Adventure! You can do it!

In reality, though, you don’t have to be rolling in dough to make this happen for us. If you have a little bit to chip in, please do. Please continue to spread the word. Every $5, $10, $20 helps, and makes it possible for us to bring this adventure to the world.

Love is weird, and that’s OK

Love is really hard for me some times.

In my “smart brain,” I know that it’s a two-way street, and that there’s a strong likelihood that the people I love also love me. I have been told that I am lovable, and people keep being friends with me and stuff, so clearly there’s something to that, but part of me still feels like I have to be perfect to be loved. I realize this is an artifact of old shit that I’m carrying around, but knowing that doesn’t make me stop feeling it.

When we were talking about depression last week, a couple people sent me private messages talking about “fake it ’til you make it.” It’s a tried-and-true method for a lot of people, and it has, at times, been an ally of mine. It works great for me in social situations – I roll in there like I’m an extrovert, like I’m comfortable being myself in a room full of strangers, and play along until I actually am comfortable (though never actually an extrovert). But when it comes to depression (and particularly this depression), it doesn’t cut it for me.

One of the things that Carlos said in his great post last week took a while to settle in for me. He said, “we have to show other people enough love that we can open up to them.” It seems a little backward, to say “here is my pain” and mean it as an expression of love. I, at least, want love to be happiness and sharing joy and creating positivity, and so this instruction “love them enough to show them your pain,” it feels counterintuitive to me. But, then again, I’m a hard-wired, dedicated introvert, with plenty of issues around showing vulnerability.

The vulnerability, though, is the key. All that pain that I think I’m sharing with you by opening up? It’s because of vulnerability. Showing you that I’m hurt isn’t necessarily showing you love (there are plenty of ways that sharing hurt is definitely not loving), but letting you see my broken insides, telling you that I trust you to see my pain and treat it with care, that’s love. Giving you that trust is an act of love from me to you, and opening that door is an act of love from me to me.

I often don’t know how to behave when I find myself in a situation like this. It feels insufficient and incomplete to say “thank you for letting me show you my vulnerability and treating it with kindness.” I feel like, at 32, with a husband and a child and plenty of living under my belt, I should be better than this. I feel like I shouldn’t still fall down the hole of depression, that I shouldn’t still find painful broken things inside of me. And I am still surprised to wake up every day and discover that people love me, not because they have to, but because… I don’t know. Because they do? (The phrase I want to use here is “porque sí,” “because yes,” but I don’t know an English equivalent.)

I guess the thing about love is that it always has the capacity to surprise and delight, even in dark times. I still don’t feel like I understand it, but I am grateful to have it in my life, and to be able to share it with my people.


The Depression To-Do List

Depression is like having a to-do list where almost everything is marked “Lowest Priority.” It’s not so much that you don’t want to fix things so much as you just don’t ever get around to doing anything because literally everything else gets in the way. So, by the time you get home from work you just flop down into a pile of unfolded laundry and contemplate which episode of Archer will make you laugh enough to dull the crushing weight of the fact that you still haven’t folded your laundry and it is almost time to stick it all back in the washing machine to make it clean again. Lucky for me I only own two pairs of pants, so the cycle is pretty short.

I think one of the most difficult parts of depression is that for most people it goes away pretty quickly. They have a bad day, they feel like some alone time, and then they get back to the regularly scheduled program. It’s a commercial break of depression. But, for others it is like everyday everything gets an ounce heavier or an inch further away until the door is a mile from your bed, your toothbrush weighs five pounds, and you have to squat-press your laundry basket. At some point you need to start taking medication, which is like a mental weight belt that makes sure you don’t blow out your metaphorical colon while doing your household chores.

And to make it just that little bit harder, no one is ever congratulatory of your accomplishments, because you are the only one that sees the invisible weight and distance–it’s like being the kid from The Sixth Sense and all of the ghosts are sitting on top of your stuff and trying to trip you while you walk.

Having a community is incredibly important when you find yourself pinned under this massively mixed metaphor I have created. You need to kill your pride and show your love for someone by confiding in them your dark secret.

Get a depression buddy (or buddies):

  1. Text them when you take your meds.
  2. Tell them the thing that you did today.
  3. Tell them what you eat.

If you eat well, hold yourself responsible for taking at least one productive step a day, and you take your meds, you can dust of the ounces and push back the inches. It might not be fast, but it will be real, and it will become a habit. Even if it has to be cultivated as a rote habit, eating well and taking your meds is crucial to winning your battle.

Ultimately, depression is a very personal experience. Your mileage may vary; this works for me, and if nothing else, it’s a place where you can start.

I want to thank my buddies that help me with my PTSD.

I don't know who to credit for this image. YAY DEPRESSION. Thanks Loading Artist!

Hey, Jealousy, How You Been?

On Sunday I went to a video game themed bar in Vancouver, BC. (EXP Bar) with my friend Chelsey. While talking with a couple I met there they asked about my Wife. When I replied that she was at home having a date with our baby the conversation quickly turned to whether Rose is jealous of my being out.

I’ll save you most of the rambling that happened that night and boil it down to this: “Sometimes, and that is both good and okay.” I know that sound mean, but bear with me while I explain.

Jealousy Is Interesting
Jealousy is a very interesting feeling because it is an extension of a feeling of desire: desire for time, desire for attention, desire for an activity…you get the point. It is also one of the few emotions that is easy to fix, if you take the time to examine what the jealousy is directed at. What makes you jealous will tell you a lot about how you should present your desires and what is important to ask of your partners and friends.

Jealousy Can Help You Get What You Want
So, jealousy is a feeling, and I think that feelings are always okay; problems arise in how you deal with them. As long as your enactment of your jealousy isn’t something destructive, it can be salvaged for the good of your relationships. If you are jealous because you want to go dancing and your partner had an opportunity to do so without you, the constructive way to deal with it is tell them. Use the words I like and I want you when you do it.

Like and Want
I like dancing, I want you to go dancing with me next weekend.” In that statement you are telling your partner what you want to do AND that you want to do it expressly with them. You are slipping a compliment in with the solution to your desire–because you are expressing a desire that is about them. The other advice I’m going to give on this is that you should use this discussion additively; make it in addition to the thing that made you feel the jealousy, not instead of.

Let Jealousy Remind You
When you feel jealous let it be a reminder to express desire. Let it be a reminder to reconnect with the things that you like about your friends and partners. Use it as an excuse to say something sweet, instead of an excuse to do something mean.

Photo Credit: alles-shlumpf

Rose’s boyfriend and Carlos’s frenemy

This morning, Carlos and I both had dates with our long-time other significant others. He took the train to see to his, and I’m taking care of mine on the living room floor. As I write this, RJ is napping, but he’ll be part of my date once he wakes up.

In general, I don’t love talking about stuff I’m working on. This is an old habit of mine – my mom describes catching me practicing faces in the mirror as a baby, testing them out before trying them on other people. I want to have a finished product before I share with people, but the truth about life is that sometimes there just isn’t a product at the end of the process. Sometimes we just do a thing every day, because it’s what we do, and we have to talk about it while it’s in process, because there is no end to it.

What does that have to do with my Monday morning date?

In my process of growing more comfortable in my own life, I have this lesson that I keep learning: everything in my life needs some care, and what that means is different for everything. Dita Lily needs food and exercise, adventures outdoors, cuddles on the couch, and to be reminded that she’s part of our pack. The kiddo needs the same things, but the way I deliver them to him is totally different (well, mostly). Carlos has needs, my relationship with him has needs, I have needs. And critically, I need to recognize what those needs are and how to address them.

One of the needs that I have struggled with mightily over the last, well, forever, is taking care of our home. Before I shared a home with Carlos, I struggled with taking care of my own home, my parents’ home, The House of Doom, all of the homes I have had. I like having a calm, clean house, but I have a hard time with the work that goes into it. That was a major motivation for me in going to Shaping Home. And it has been important in the conversations that Carlos and I have around relationships. Even in the most traditional, monogamous marriage, there are things outside of the primary dyad that require attention and energy, which are acknowledged as important by all parties. The most obvious one is children, and other family. Your love of your children doesn’t come between you and your spouse, it’s just a fact of family life.

And the same is true of the significant relationship I am tending to this morning. It doesn’t take away from my love of Carlos, though it can be a point of difficulty (just like kids!). Neglecting it makes our life harder; giving it a little time and attention makes things easier all around. As much as I struggle with it, I know that I need it, so I make the time. Sometimes it can be hard to do that, but it’s worth it.

So, what’s all this about, then? Who is this mystery that matters so much!? It’s laundry. In today’s case, three loads of clean laundry, sitting on my living room floor, waiting to be folded and put away. And Carlos, you ask? What’s his date about? Work, out of the house, in someone else’s quiet office.

I kind of hate that laundry is my boyfriend (yes, we do refer to it that way all the time). But I have power over this relationship, if I’m willing to exercise it. I don’t think Carlos feels as grumpy about work as I do about laundry, even though he describes it as his frenemy. We get different kinds of things back from the energy we put into these relationships, and that’s just a fact of life. Every relationship you have is different, has different needs, pays out different dividends. We don’t always get to pick our other significant others, but we always have to choice to make our relationships with them the best they can be.

A flatter kind of love.

You should read All About Love: New Visions. It is a thought-provoking collection of essays on love by bell hooks. One of the very important points that she makes is that you don’t have to marry your soul mate, and you don’t have to hate your exes.

bell hooks was instrumental in me being able to say this: “I believe in Flat Love.” By flat love I mean that I try to approach each relationship the same; negotiate a mutually beneficial expectation, do my best to communicate my desires and my interest in the other party. Whether it is my wife, a friend, or a lover I have the same goal, enjoy our time together (however that ends up working).

And Here Is Why I Feel This Way.

Being a friend and being a lover are often measured by the same marks: time and intensity. Being a good friend or a good lover is limited by the same skills: communication and attention. So, why should our language or behavior treat them as different entities? I feel like we should call a date a date. Whether I am meeting you at the bar to complain about work, watch a game, or to tell you stories about my deepest secret I am still making time and attention for you. If the night ends with hugging from “a socially approved distance” or a polite peck or with breakfast the next morning I am still trying to communicate my level of affection for you.

I think that my life is simpler when I treat my son, my wife, and the guy I brew beer with the same way: I tell them what I like about them, I express my desire to make a time for them, and I show attention to their needs and communications—in different degrees, but the same way.

I would do the same with work and the dog, but the dog doesn’t really care for much beyond a butt-scratch. And, work, it is more like a frenemy, so I try not to obsess about it (much).  In reality there are many people that treat their job or hobby with greater care than their lovers, but we will save that discussion for another time.

Whatever and whoever you love requires time and attention. If you let that be the primary guide they will all grow with you.

More Love

Scariest Thing

About this time last year I was sitting on a secret. An incredible, life altering secret. I was going to be someone’s father within the next year. We knew that Rockford was coming, we had seen his heart, we were still calling him Blueberry Danger.

Because of this I was wrestling with one of the biggest decisions of my life: how am I going to support my Family. Not just my sullen dog and cranky wife, but what turns out to be my cranky mohawked son. I did something that I thought I would never do again, I applied for a job. It was a cool job, in my reckoning, and it was in Canada.

Like many Americans I had been threatening to move to Canada for many years. I had even briefly negotiated with a woman from Victoria, BC in 1999 about the possibility of marriage. Her name was Sarita; we met in Monte Verde, Costa Rica. But, those stars didn’t align. For over a decade I was sad about that, it always seemed like a fork in the road where I went the wrong direction. Now it seemed I had an excuse to correct this error,  to go boldly where I suspected I should have gone before, in my other life when I was pursuing the most basic me–in the shadow of my father’s death.

In that drift through the year after my dad died I kind of melted away and ended up on the path that I was on, feeling like maybe I was too much the path I was on and not enough like the person I imagine myself as.

In the end the stars still haven’t aligned for Canada. The job wasn’t the right fit, but I did meet some very important and meaningful people. It has been an important adventure. So, now with the new year Rose and I are taking on our biggest challenge, and forcing the dog and baby to come along for the ride.

We are selling everything. All the beds, all the furniture, almost all the electronics, all but the most essential kitchen supplies, all but the most essential books and clothes. We are buying a motorhome and a REALLY big data plan.

I want to see you again

Reconnecting and Writing

Over the next year my goal is visit all of our family: every sibling, every aunt and uncle, every cousin, every person we love and don’t see enough, every person that feels they don’t see enough of us, and as many of the people who want to meet us as possible. We hope to start and renew meaningful relationships in the process.

During our trip I will continue to do online consulting. But, we will also be conducting interviews with whoever wants to be part of our joint-project for the year. Rose and I are going to write a book about relationships and family–real ones, not tropes and stereotypes.
The birth of our child has made us both have a different perspective on our relationships and our lives (both together and individually) and we want to enter into the next era of our lives in a more people focused way–by learning from and sharing new experience with the people we meet and visit on the journey. We would like to share a meal, or a conversation with you. We want to know how you see the world and share honestly with you about our lives and challenges.

What happens next

As I mentioned earlier, we have been on the precipice of some changes. And now we’re at the point where the cards have fallen, and our path is clear. (How’s that for ominous language? geez.)

One year ago, Carlos and I packed up all our earthly belonging and took a chance on a promising opportunity. We moved to Vancouver, hoping that it would be our home for a long time to come. Unfortunately, things have not worked out that way. We have made some amazing connections, but we haven’t found the right path to be able to stay here and make it our home, and so it’s with heavy hearts that we are leaving Canada.

Moving to Canada has been a big adventure, and it has made some things clear for us. Things like: do the scary shit! We don’t have to be normal people, and sometimes we don’t get to! Also, omg we need to spend time with the people we love!

So that brings us to what’s coming next. Instead of simply reversing the process that we undertook a year ago (packing it all up & going back to Seattle), we’re going in a completely different direction. Starting immediately, we’re selling all of our stuff. We’re unburdening ourselves and setting out to see you. We’re getting a motorhome and taking a year to travel and write. During that time, we intend to spend actual, face-to-face time with as many of you as we can. People, we’re coming to get you!

To support this adventure, we’ve built an Indiegogo campaign. We’re not asking for much – just enough to make sure we have reliable internet access while we’re on the road.

Rose and eggs
Let’s talk some FAQs!

What about work?
Yep, we’ll still be doing that. Carlos will continue with his consulting business. Rose will odd-job and guerrilla-life-coach it up. The baby and the dog will continue to be a baby and a dog, respectively.

Chillax, yo! It’s not like we’re the first people to take a baby on the road. He’s a baby, he’ll be fine. To be honest, I’m a little more worried about our oh-so-loving but not especially smart dog. And, bonus! You’ll learn about what we’re doing to kid-proof a motorhome!

Are you crazy?
Shut your face. We are people who go our own way, and who have never quite fit into the expected molds. Are you really that surprised that we’re doing this? You know us. “We never have to be normal people” was one of our wedding vows. We’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple years trying to fit in to ‘normal’ ways, and it has not advanced our life in ways that makes us happy. It’s time for us to ride the current, rather than fight against it.

What can we do to help?
A few things:

Where will you go?
Specifically, we know we’ll be in Portland, OR in early June, Reno/Tahoe in early July, and DC/Baltimore at the end of August. There will be stops in the San Francisco Bay area, Southern California, Las Vegas, Southern Arizona (who would’ve guessed?), Austin, Boise, Chicago, New York. Do you know, I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon? I’m probably forgetting somewhere right this moment.

And seriously: WE WANT TO SEE YOU! Tell us where to go! And be prepared: we’re gonna want to talk to you while we’re visiting.

Hammer Carlos