Tag: discernment

Jun 01 2016

The Science of Happily Ever After

This article from the Atlantic popped up in my Facebook feed earlier this week: Masters of Love.

It covers some of the research by social scientists relating to the success of marriages in response to rising divorce rates beginning in the 70s. In the first section of the article, the research of Psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson is reviewed. In their study they brought newlyweds into the lab and observed how they interacted with each other. They also hooked the couples up to electrodes to measure and record the body’s response to their interactions. Six years later, they brought the couples back in to see who was still together.

From their data, they grouped the couples into two groups the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years, while the disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy. In their observations of the disasters, the disasters looked cool and calm during the interviews, however the electrodes told a different story of what was going on physiologically. Their heart rates were quicker, sweat glands more active, and blood flow was faster. The data pointed to a conclusion that the more physiologically active a couple was, the quicker their relationship deteriorated. The masters had a lower physiological response and were able to maintain warm and affectionate behavior even when they fought. This helped create a climate of trust and intimacy that made both partners more emotionally and physically comfortable.

In a follow-up study, Gottman and Levenson set up a lab to look like a bed and breakfast retreat and invited 130 couples to spend a day at this retreat. In this study, they observed the couples go about what they would normally do on a vacation. In this study, an observation would come that be a key indicator on whether or not a relationship would thrive or languish. Throughout the day, partners would make “bids” for the others attention. “For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.” In this scenario, the wife can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband. These interactions had a profound effect on marital well-being. The couples who had divorced by the six-year follow-up had “turn toward” bids only 33 percent of the time. Those that were still happily married had “turn toward” bids 87 percent of the time.


One of my goals as I move through the process of my divorce is looking at ways that I can improve myself and the way I will interact with a future partner. There was a time in my relationship/marriage with A that I was definitely in the “turning away” camp. There was at least one stretch of time in our marriage that it might have been pushing it to get up to the 33 percent of time for “turning towards.” In that time, the seed was planted that would eventually lead towards the pending divorce. While I did make an effort to improve my moments of “turning towards” during and after a period of couples counseling last summer and fall, it was perhaps already too late even at that point. The seed had been sown.


The article goes on to talk about the habits the masters have. How they are looking for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. In doing this they build a culture of respect and appreciation. Disasters end up looking for their partners mistakes. This behavior ends up building a culture of contempt and ends up being the biggest factor that tears partners apart. They give their partner the cold shoulder – deliberately ignoring or responding minimally – thereby damaging the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and not valued. This ends up not only killing the love in the relationship, it makes it harder for the partner to fight off physical ailments (such as viruses). In this culture of contempt we miss around 50 percent of the positive things our partner is doing and see negativity that isn’t there.


This paragraph reflects where I most contributed to the downfall of my marriage. I was guilty of this for far too long, creating an environment where…while love may have still been there…its hold was tenuous. I had killed enough of it that fighting for what remained became difficult. Stepping outside of comfort zones to have difficult discussions took more energy then it should have. It was easier to let the feelings of contempt to control our thoughts instead of the hard work of focusing on kindness and generosity.


So as I look to heal from the trauma of divorce and eventually to opening myself up to a new relationship it is important that I take lessons like this to heart. I need to focus on being someone who “turns toward” those bids for attention from romantic interests, friends, and really just people in general. I don’t want to be someone who’s heart is ruled by contempt. Kindness and generosity sound like a better way to live life.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/the-science-of-happily-ever-after/

Jan 07 2010

Intern intentionality

While looking for information on a different non-profit service org today, I came across the new site of the Episcopal Urban Intern Program (EUIP).  For those of you that don’t know, applying to the EUIP in 2007 led to me moving down to Los Angeles in August of 2007, though not as a participant in the EUIP.  One of the reasons I wasn’t selected was because of my age.  The EUIP is designed for folks approx 20-30 years old.  I was turning 31 in Auguest of 2007 (when it would have begun).  The program directors job was to choose good candidates who would have a good shot of forming a good community.  The interns that were selected were all between 21 and 24 that year (if I remember correctly).  I knew when I applied though, that I was pushing the age range, so I wasn’t too bummed out.  Plus I ended up getting offered a different opportunity to intern in Los Angeles through the Episcopal Church.  While that internship didn’t end up working out as well as I’d hoped it would, it was still a valuable experience for me.

This year, another one of my friends was accepted into a new intern program affiliated with the Campus Ministry at Cal State – Channel Islands…the Abundant Table Farm Project.  She luckily still fit under the 30 yr old ceiling most of the intern programs have.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about those of us in our 30s or 40s (or more) that are searching for ourselves, our spirituality, our intentionality.  Where can we participate in these kind of things?  I know my age group is more likely to be more settled into family life or a career (though maybe less so into careers in the current state of the economy), but there are many of us that are still searching for our vocation…or a vocational change.  Where do we go to find our community now that we are out of school?

I think this is something that I’ll add to my list to explore in the next year.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/intern-intentionality/

Apr 07 2008

Los Angeles

“I’m just trying to make some sense…..outta me”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/los-angeles/

Mar 06 2008

Sketch 9

Looks like I’m a couple days late on posting my weekly sketch again.  This week I don’t even have a good excuse, I’ve just been lazy.  I did end up making it to the Getty Villa last Saturday.  It was a cloudy morning, threatening rain the entire time.  The Villa holds the antiquities collection of the Getty.  Its designed to resemble a Roman villa from Herculaneum.  Most of the collection consists of sculptures, however there is also some jewels, coins and frescoes as well.  It is of course much smaller than the main Getty Museum, but still quite interesting.  Afterwards, I picked up some cupcakes from Sprinkles and stopped for lunch in Little Ethiopia.

I had to take my car in to the shop, it was making a rubbing noise anytime I turned.  Turns out it was just that the power steering fluid was low.  Apparently the power steering box could use to be replaced, because its got a small leak, but its also $750 for the part.  So the mechanic said, just make sure to top off the fluid if it starts making noise.  With an oil change and a few other minor maintenance things, I managed to escape for under $200.  That made me happy, I was expecting something closer (or exceeding) my $600 budget (which I didn’t really have either).

One of my friends posed an interesting question last week.  Which is worse: getting drunk or pre-marital sex?  As I was thinking about my answer to this question, I also thought about how my answer has changed from when I was in high school to now a few years out of college.  My simplistic current answer would be getting drunk is worse.  Not only does heavy drinking damage your body, it has the potential to damage people around you in both your actions and emotionally.  Pre-marital sex…well my views about the institution of marriage in our current political environment effect my answer on that.  I personally have issues with the “civil” side of marriage.  I don’t think we should be regulating who people can or cannot marry, I mean, if two adults love each other and want to commit to each other, than they should be able to.  So back to the pre-marital sex thing, I believe that sex is an important part of our expression of love towards our chosen partner.  It is still something that is very special and should only be done in the confines of a committed relationship.  So for those people that marriage isn’t an option or that have problems with the institution of marriage, should they not be able to express their love physically?

This weekend I’m going to focus on working on my resume and looking for jobs for after the semester is over.  Right now I’m focusing on three places for my job search, 1)Santa Rosa, 2)LA, 3)Eugene/Portland.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/sketch-9/

Feb 28 2008

Sketch 8

Last week was a busy work week, as it was the week leading up to my big monthly event.  Since my event was on Wednesday night, I didn’t quite get to writing up my sketch as I was preoccupied with last minute details for the event.  Mainly, I just worked this past week, but I did manage to fit in a couple trips to the beach though, so that was nice.  It is definitely one of the things that keep me sane in LA.

I had a good conversation with my boss/housemate about what will be happening after the semester is over and my job ends.  We talked about the different scenarios I’m considering, and how we can work on making one of them work.  I really think my top choice is trying to figure out a move to Santa Rosa.  Its in Northern California, which is closer to home, and has at least a little more rain than LA.  Its also about an hour outside of San Francisco, a city I enjoy quite a bit.  The challenge now is to find a job, that I can start in May.  At the very least, I need to work through the end of April, but I’ll probably end up working through the end of finals.  Either way I’ll get paid through May 15th, which is a good thing for my finances.

I’m trying to relax a little today, and will definitely be relaxing this weekend.  I think I’m going to check out the Getty Villa on Saturday.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/sketch-8/

Feb 20 2008

Sketch 7

I’m really thinking hard about what I’m going to be doing after my contract ends in May.  I’m thinking about trying to do some schooling/training in wine making (aka oenology) and/or fermentation science (with an emphasis on brewing).  But I have to figure out where and how I’ll do that.

The skinny on schooling:
There are a couple community college programs I know about in oenology.  One is in Santa Maria, CA at Alan Hancock College.  The known pros so far: I’m already in California and technically a resident.  CC tuition is super inexpensive in Cali…$20/credit.  Also basically in the middle of one of the major central coast wine regions.  Would be good for eventually transferring to one of the BS programs at UC-Davis or Fresno State.  The cons:  Santa Maria is a small town.  I have no job, place to live, friends there.  Chemeketa CC in Salem, OR also has a wine making program.  Pros: in Oregon.  Good for transferring to Oregon State’s program.  Close to Oregon Wine Country.  Cons: Much more expensive ($70/credit).  In Salem, which I’m not too excited about the prospect of living there.

*update: I just found a program in Santa Rosa (which is a little north of San Fran). Pretty much the same pros and cons of the Santa Maria program. Only instead of central coast wine country, i’m close to Napa and Sonoma and in the Russian River wine country.

What I don’t know yet…is it enough to just go to one of the community college programs? Should I just take some targeted science classes at a community college and then try and apply to one of the BS programs?  Is there a CC program in WA that would help facilitate transferring to WSU’s program?  Should I just stick to beer and try and find a brewer to apprentice with in Portland?

Anyway, that is the main thing stewing in my head (at least when I get a few moments away from work).

I finally made it up for a brief visit to Griffith Observatory on Friday night.  By the time I got up there it was only open for twenty minutes, but it was still pretty cool.  The sprawl of LA is both impressive and depressing at the same time.  Saturday was largely a day of relaxation, running a few errands and trying to get my desktop computer working again (I didn’t succeed).  Then I went to Sub-Level with some friends later that night.  It was out in the middle of nowhere in an empty warehouse Sun Valley (ewe…i went to a party in the valley).  I was out until almost 6am Sunday morning.  I had lots of fun, but getting up at 10am for church and then working Sunday afternoon wasn’t as fun.  USC observed President’s Day, so I got an extra day of relaxation over the weekend.  Made a trip to Venice Beach and finally did some long overdue cleaning on my room.  It was a very nice weekend.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/sketch-7/

Dec 31 2007

a rhino walks at the end of 2007

I made my first trip back to Oregon since moving to Los Angeles for Christmas.  It was an interesting experience, having been so homesick for much of my time here in Los Angeles.  I drove up to Eugene with a friend (though in separate cars), stopping in one of my favorite places, Ashland, OR, to break up the drive.  A nice relaxing evening in Ashland was just what was in order after a long day on I-5.  We were lucky going over the Siskiyou Pass, as if we had been another 10-15 minutes later, we’d have needed chains (which neither of us had).  After a late breakfast and a walk around downtown Ashland, we headed North on I-5 to continue our treks to our respective homes.

It was good being at home, seeing my Eugene friends, dancing at 80s night.  There was the typical family drama/stress…but really it was ok (I can say that now with some distance…while I was there, I was ready not visit the folks the next time I went to Oregon).  Really the important thing is that I was able to see my sisters.  I just have this feeling that any time now, we won’t all be able to gather as a family for the holidays.

As I look to the new year, I am still trying to settle into life in LA.  I’ve been here five months now and am just really starting to find my places around here.  My job is much more challenging than I ever thought it would be.  I often feel as if I am over my head.  I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple weeks about whether or not I’m really ready to begin the process to go to seminary.  My thoughts are definitely leaning towards that I am not ready.  This of course brings up the question of what do I do in meantime.  Do I go back to school to teach or for law school?   Do I stay in Los Angeles beyond this school year?  These are the questions I’ll be trying to answer over the next few months.

That’s it for now, one of my goals for the new year is to make at least a weekly post here…so keep checking for updates 😉

I hope everyone has a great New Year!

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2007/a-rhino-walks-at-the-end-of-2007/

Oct 02 2007

life in los angeles

It has been a busy few months here in Los Angeles so far.  I think that this has in some way postponed a lot of the homesickness I fully expected to feel.  There has definitely been moments, but those have been quickly put on hold to concentrate on work.  Over the last week, however, it has really begun to sink in that I really live here, and how far away many of my friends are.  Living in LA without a car is challenging and its been difficult to find ways to interact with people outside of the USC community.

Highlights of the first few months:

  • Amazing food discoveries (Like the biggest burrito that I’ve ever seen at a restaurant…and it not being the biggest in LA)
  • Diversity (It’s kinda cool to hear people talk in languages other than English…even though I don’t understand it)
  • The Music Calendar (there is so much going on…its really just a matter of time and money…not whether something is actually happening)
  • Running into old friends at a conference for work in San Francisco that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to initially…but so glad I went to in the end (and seeing a friend from Eugene while I was there as well).
  • Sleeping under the stars on the beach at our Fall Retreat in Oceanside, CA (and the fairly warm ocean water)

Lowlights of the first few months:

  • My diet has been horrible…way to much fast food and eating out in general (and not finding a good grocery store nearby with organic/local food)
  • Adjusting to much longer hours and different sleep schedules
  • Having a hard time finding a “me” outside of USC
  • The Ducks loosing on the second to last play of the game to Cal while surrounded by USC fans.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2007/life-in-los-angeles/

Jun 30 2007

changes

I haven’t posted in awhile, and part of that is because I’d been holding off on perhaps the biggest news until it was official.  The big news is, I’m moving to LA at the beginning of August.  An amazing opportunity kind of fell into my lap.  I’m going to be working at the Episcopal Chaplaincy at the University of Southern California.  I’ll be working closely with the Chaplain as a lay chaplain. 

So as of now the tentative plan will be to be moved out of my apartment in Portland by Jul. 22.  I’ll be down in Eugene through Aug. 6 and then head down to LA.

I’m excited…but its going to make for a busy July.  I’m also taking a graduate-level history class at PSU through July 18th.  So it’s work, school and getting ready to move for me for the next three weeks. 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2007/changes/

May 10 2007

Running to Stand Still

On Tuesday, I found out that I did not get the internship in LA.  While I’m quite relieved to at least know, I’m still a little bummed that I didn’t get it.  LA isn’t my first choice of a place to live by far, however I think the year there would have been very good for me.  What it has done is put me back into a brainstorming mode of what my next move is.  Right now I’m blessed with a great job and boss so I’ve at least got that going for me.  But it also doesn’t get me any closer to where I want to be.  So I’ve got myself some time set up to talk to a friend and do some brainstorming on Monday morning.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to come up with some good ideas from there.

What I see myself doing this week though is pulling inward.  I’ve got no appetite for food, though I’m eating better this week than I did over the weekend.  I’m going home tonight for Mother’s Day weekend, but that is also part of what is on my mind.  A couple weeks ago, my parents were in town, and didn’t tell me they were coming up, and when I talked to them after finding out…didn’t make any time to see me.

I feel alone.  If it wasn’t for one of my best friends, I might not have seen anyone outside of work this week.  I barely even see my roommates…one of whom is a lame duck roommate as he’s moving out at the end of the month. So I also need to be searching for a new roommate, but I have no motivation for that either.

Tonight, 80’s Night at John Henry’s in Eugene.  That will be fun.  It’ll be good to see my Eugene friends and forget about everything else going on for a few hours.

Saturday, I get an eye exam.  I don’t think my perscription will have changed, but its been long enough I need an exam to get new glasses.  I’m going to get my Dolce & Gabanna frames relensed (I lost one of them) and I’m looking for new frames that are flamboyant and competely different from the three frames I already have.

Sunday is Mother’s Day.  I haven’t decided what I’m going to do for her (other than give her the last installment of money that I owe her).   

I’m also looking forward to watching the Planet Earth DVD’s on my dad’s HDTV. 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2007/running-to-stand-still/