Nancy Cole

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Welcome Truth or TMI? The Line on Public Displays of Honesty

I’ve enjoyed greatly hearing from a couple of brave men who shared personal stories of work / life balance and decision-making about the important things in life — whether that is loving what they do and continuing to do it, or whether that is realizing they’ve moved into the realm of pushing too hard and moving into disequalibrium.

I identified very much with Marcus Nelson’s post, “Facing Hard Truths” that rode significant social media lift Tuesday (my own humble efforts included), and am so truly grateful that he jumped on a life change that, if he hadn’t, may have cost him much more than the money he’d already spent. I identify also with his wife as he describes, and the quiet sacrifices she made that involved more than deference to career and cash flow. It is precisely because she loves her husband that she supports him through realizing his dream, and so the discomfort and delayed personal gratification is worth the wait. She’s a keeper.

Another friend known for his expertise in social-media posted his well-thought-out and heart-felt apology on Facebook for being essentially absent to friends since beginning his first book. Friends are so very understanding, patient, and busy with their own lives; so I wondered if this was to “us” or to self or to family; although the difference doesn’t much matter as the motivation seems the same.

Both stories came roughly at the same time and were lauded by readers including myself. Both were by men about work-life balance. And there was a full moon. :)

These personal and public displays of honesty and vulnerability have made me wonder about the posts I’ve written here that are, and are not, public. Typically what I share is pretty personal, and I’ve consistently heard appreciation over time for being so open. People regularly come up to me to tell me that my sporadic posts are helpful to their own experience. However, they are not usually about work, but rather about moral choices, integrity, depth and honesty.

Is it the unexpected vulnerability of a man on a topic that is socially expected of men (career) that propels the collective warm-hug reception they received?

Increasingly people point out, write about, create clever videos about, the disparity between real life and what is personal brand (or just personal) marketing on social media designed to look and feel awesome! Still, most posts that feature emotional hardship and injury (physical hardship and injury gets plenty of virtual hugs) are met with discomfort and crickets despite our rational knowledge that isolation is exactly what people going through a rough time do not need and despite the outpouring of sympathy for depression victims at times like that of Robin Williams suicide.

Often times vulnerability and honesty around interpersonal relationships and the challenges that are faced within them are impossible to tell without seeming to disparage the other person in the relationship. Over the past year, I’ve written loads that is presently private, and the decision to keep that writing private is specifically because so many friends and family will know the subject. I think there is a ton of potential learning and sharing of experiences there, and understanding my own handling of an emotional-wear-down pattern has been immensely helpful to me.

However, there’s a good chance that some would read my exploration as bitter as much as I try to make it antiseptic; and others that will judge me for sticking it out in an emotionally damaging situation regardless of behavior and no matter what he did (his words, by the way; and happily, the final straw was stacked on the camels back). So, none of it is worth it and it matters only that it helped me to do the research on what I was dealing with, the methods for healing from that sort of long-term, slow injury, and the way to handle the predictable (once you know what it is) post-relationship aftermath. The only hesitation I have in keeping it mostly private is the sense that I wish I had known earlier, and maybe sharing means someone else in a similar situation will know earlier. The chances for that are low unless I go on a full career change, write a book, and start a campaign.

Perhaps over time, we will see more public displays of honesty and vulnerability from unexpected places, and more of the variety of life in all its joy and suffering. I think that’s true especially as I watch my digital-native teenagers mature, and the level of comfort they have with what they share amongst eachother, for better or worse.

And I suspect that as life’s stories reach a much broader audience, the writer will see the same level of response that they would have seen naturally among the fewer people who would have been told in person of what they were experiencing.

The same people who dive into a messy situation will step forward and roll around in it — there will just be more of them. And those for whom the muck is too mucky will sit it out or perhaps offer a washcloth so we can feel clean again even if temporarily. As I’ve observed friendships over the last year, I can tell you we need all kinds. Virtual hugs to vulnerability and all of the closeness it brings.

Just so awesome. Love this one every time! #dance & #groove

(Source: Spotify)


“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it."  - Robin Williams [July 29th 1951 - August 11th 2014]

You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it."
Robin Williams
[July 29th 1951 - August 11th 2014]

(Source: peterhale)

Jul 4

The Road to Somewhere

I find myself sitting in an air-conditioned luxury coach with wifi observing the driver of that other bus that I was thrown under. He thinks I’m still under there.

I made a little effort to get his attention, wave, smile — “Hey! I’m over here!”. But he’s focused on his driving, and impressing his passenger, because at least on that bus they are riding together. So let him imagine I’m there as long as it serves him. His bus moves slowly with me under the wheels, and its a strain to see him in the rear view mirror.

So I lay back, close my eyes, and sing….

"And I’ve gone by the point of caring,
Some old bed I’ll soon be sharing,
And I’ve got one more silver dollar,
But I’m not gonna let ‘em catch me, no
Not gonna let ‘em catch the Midnight Rider.”

~ Midnight Rider, Allman Brothers

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person—without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.

- Osho

Jun 1
On! @djshooey @space_cowboys #PublicWorks #UrbanCowboy #ripe #ripecast (at The Public Works SF)

On! @djshooey @space_cowboys #PublicWorks #UrbanCowboy #ripe #ripecast (at The Public Works SF)

May 6
theparisreview:

“Don’t touch her, she’s dead, I thought, as if this kind of touch pollutes. But another part of me knew that death isn’t contagious, that it moves more slowly than we think.”
Bess Lovejoy on her closest experience with death.

theparisreview:

“Don’t touch her, she’s dead, I thought, as if this kind of touch pollutes. But another part of me knew that death isn’t contagious, that it moves more slowly than we think.”

Bess Lovejoy on her closest experience with death.

#heart #hypem #hypehotel #beautiful production.

#heart #hypem #hypehotel #beautiful production.

Mar 7
Exactly home. #NorthTower #MarinCountyLine #crunchy GoldenGateBridge #nirthday #friends

Exactly home. #NorthTower #MarinCountyLine #crunchy GoldenGateBridge #nirthday #friends

It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.

- Lester Burnham, American Beauty

When Something Beautiful is Made Ugly: A Metaphor on My Lawn.

I write this from my desk that faces the focal point of our property: a soccer-field-sized lawn at the end of a double cul-de-sac surrounded by mature trees. 

For this week’s treat, I have been delivered a powerful metaphor. My former partner, co-owner & best friend soiled our lawn quite dramatically in the form of a 12-ft diameter charcoal scar. A symbol of a life together than has been scorched, dead, cremated. This soiling of our still-shared, soon-to-be-listed property resulted from an illegal and spontaneous bonfire made up of material from a 40-ft play structure that needed to be removed in preparation for sale. The bonfire brought three fire trucks and several police cars to the cul-de-sac at the neighbors calling. Ironically he posted this childish act as an “end to childhood”. 

Why am I writing about this? Well, if you know me then you know that’s what I do. I’m pretty open, and I feel that sharing stories and experiences in a non-inflammatory way can be supportive & cathartic. I’ve heard from friends who are appreciative and interested. Also, there have been several Facebook posts — mine and his — that have brought concern and questions, and an urgent call to get out of here for my own emotional safety and that of my increasingly-worried, emotionally-confused kids. 

There has been a lot of wondering and concern for the perpetrator as well. Is he unstable? Why do these weekly or more “treats” keep coming? What is the call? What did I do to bring out a steady stream of physical and emotional space violations that seem as something a rebellious teenager might do? Well, it’s not for me to understand, but I know I’m hearing a constant drumbeat to switch what, at the time of breakup, I thought would be a lasting and close friendship, and make sure that can’t happen. That occasionally the words ask for friendship, but the actions are so entirely antagonistic, is even more confusing. 

The pattern of rebellion and lies is an old one, and as I look back, I am seeing more and more of what I let slide, and how I ought to have been paying closer attention when my reactions were strong. And at times they were very strong, as he likes to point out (and is the whole point of things like the bonfire, although I didn’t take the bait and I’m proud for that). But I’m now out of a cycle of accepting all aspects of the man I had loved, such as the spontaneous and rebellious teenager, so I receive his actions differently. There’s no more partnership and therefore no more motivation for me to “put up with”, “love through”, and accept disrespectful and hurtful behaviors.

More important than why the breakup happened and who is dating whom now is how my family is being treated since deciding to separate. It’s eerily and disturbingly reminiscent of my stepfather’s departure from my life. Like my own kids, I understood that he and my mom needed to separate — the reasons and who owned what part of the blame was totally uninteresting to me once the decision was done. How I was subsequently treated was all that mattered, and I’m reliving that now and watching it happen for my kids. We like to think we can stop negative cycles from repeating, and it saddens me to watch this. 

The only path to change, and chance to end the cycle, is to get us out of the way. So that I’m doing. What was once so beautiful, has become a black scar. Scorched. Incinerated. 

It will heal and repair and turn into something new and lush once again.

When Something Beautiful is Made Ugly: A Metaphor on My Lawn.

I write this from my desk that faces the focal point of our property: a soccer-field-sized lawn at the end of a double cul-de-sac surrounded by mature trees.

For this week’s treat, I have been delivered a powerful metaphor. My former partner, co-owner & best friend soiled our lawn quite dramatically in the form of a 12-ft diameter charcoal scar. A symbol of a life together than has been scorched, dead, cremated. This soiling of our still-shared, soon-to-be-listed property resulted from an illegal and spontaneous bonfire made up of material from a 40-ft play structure that needed to be removed in preparation for sale. The bonfire brought three fire trucks and several police cars to the cul-de-sac at the neighbors calling. Ironically he posted this childish act as an “end to childhood”.

Why am I writing about this? Well, if you know me then you know that’s what I do. I’m pretty open, and I feel that sharing stories and experiences in a non-inflammatory way can be supportive & cathartic. I’ve heard from friends who are appreciative and interested. Also, there have been several Facebook posts — mine and his — that have brought concern and questions, and an urgent call to get out of here for my own emotional safety and that of my increasingly-worried, emotionally-confused kids.

There has been a lot of wondering and concern for the perpetrator as well. Is he unstable? Why do these weekly or more “treats” keep coming? What is the call? What did I do to bring out a steady stream of physical and emotional space violations that seem as something a rebellious teenager might do? Well, it’s not for me to understand, but I know I’m hearing a constant drumbeat to switch what, at the time of breakup, I thought would be a lasting and close friendship, and make sure that can’t happen. That occasionally the words ask for friendship, but the actions are so entirely antagonistic, is even more confusing.

The pattern of rebellion and lies is an old one, and as I look back, I am seeing more and more of what I let slide, and how I ought to have been paying closer attention when my reactions were strong. And at times they were very strong, as he likes to point out (and is the whole point of things like the bonfire, although I didn’t take the bait and I’m proud for that). But I’m now out of a cycle of accepting all aspects of the man I had loved, such as the spontaneous and rebellious teenager, so I receive his actions differently. There’s no more partnership and therefore no more motivation for me to “put up with”, “love through”, and accept disrespectful and hurtful behaviors.

More important than why the breakup happened and who is dating whom now is how my family is being treated since deciding to separate. It’s eerily and disturbingly reminiscent of my stepfather’s departure from my life. Like my own kids, I understood that he and my mom needed to separate — the reasons and who owned what part of the blame was totally uninteresting to me once the decision was done. How I was subsequently treated was all that mattered, and I’m reliving that now and watching it happen for my kids. We like to think we can stop negative cycles from repeating, and it saddens me to watch this.

The only path to change, and chance to end the cycle, is to get us out of the way. So that I’m doing. What was once so beautiful, has become a black scar. Scorched. Incinerated.

It will heal and repair and turn into something new and lush once again.

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile she’ll give you her heart.

She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.

- Erick S. Gray

Patience only takes you so far. Then, at some point, you’ve moved from patience to self-betrayal.

-

~Nancy Cole

I decided to stop betraying myself as it became increasingly obvious I was being betrayed ever more by a man stuck in an endless loop of lamenting a past betrayal against me.#tragic

As patience wore out, I lost myself. Betrayed who I am. Then I found I had it all in my power to regain sanity, and return to #peace.

Dreamy low #fog under bright blue sky & #sunshine! #classic #SF #SouthTower  (at Golden Gate Bridge)

Dreamy low #fog under bright blue sky & #sunshine! #classic #SF #SouthTower (at Golden Gate Bridge)

I’m definitely going to miss this place. #gorgeous #home #sunset

I’m definitely going to miss this place. #gorgeous #home #sunset