Following Your Heart Doesn’t Mean Leaving Your Brain Behind


Following Your Heart Doesn’t Mean Leaving Your Brain Behind

This isn’t one of my typical travel articles/posts, but I was inspired to write this after hearing someone on a local radio show. It got me to thinking about how many of us settle for less than we deserve and I wanted to put forth the idea that we are worth more than we give ourselves credit for. I welcome your ideas regarding this topic too.

It sounds like a romantic and clichéd notion, everyone says it but the true meaning of it is lost on them.  I was listening to the radio today and there was a contest of sorts to see which couple had gone the longest without ever having uttered the words, “I love you”.  The “winner” was a woman who had been married to a man for thirty years and he’d never told her or their children that he loved them nor showed them any true affection.  She attributed it to his military training; real men don’t lay their true feelings on the line.

I keep thinking about that lady who explained away his behavior by saying he showed his love by supporting his family.   Why are we so willing to pin medals on people for doing what they should be doing?  Why are we unwilling to ask for more; are we so afraid to upset the apple cart?  Why can’t we explain to those who matter, that we need more than what they are giving?

If you are living with someone who can’t express genuine loving feelings toward you, they have relegated you to the status of a roommate.  Would that be acceptable to you? Or would you know deep down inside that you can’t go on like that?  Truthfully, most people would probably accept it as their lot in life.  They feel as if they must choose their battles and even though that decision kills a little bit of their soul every day, they won’t challenge it.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to stand up, take charge and demand what you want out of a relationship, out of life and from your friends and family.  No one wants to be perceived as being a bitch; no one wants to be rude or seen as being demanding.  What most do not realize is that an impasse doesn’t have to result in an out and out war.  I’m not saying go to your local divorce attorney and draw up papers.  I am saying that you have to ask for what you want out of life, but remember it takes a willing partner.  If that partner is unwilling, doesn’t it say a lot about the state of that relationship?

As I get older, I must face the realization that life has its limits.  Perhaps, this is why I doggedly insist on living my life in a way that honors me (and others) as a human being.  Some people, in their effort not to appear selfish, confuse doing what’s right for themselves with neglecting others.   At some point, you have to stop taking the weight of the world on your shoulders and being the sacrificial lamb.  Martyrdom has always come in the wrong size and color for me.  And truth be told, most (self-absorbed) people don’t even notice when you have laid it all on the line for them.

When you have given your last, all in the hopes of being able to grab a crumb falling from their table, how do you eventually get back to sanity?

Living isn’t for lightweights.  It’s fraught with challenges, both beautiful and untenable.  It demands strength and tenacity and bravery.  Fear of the unknown and the safety of what is familiar conspire to keep us in limbo where we check off the days on a calendar that has no end.  We invest untold effort and time into things that have little if any dividends.

We linger when we should have moved on ages ago.  The worst thing that one can do with this special gift called life is to spend one more day where we are dishonored.  Some things can not be resuscitated; some things/people should be allowed to move on without us.  Otherwise, we become caricatures of our former selves.  Whatever is blocking you from following your heart, push it out of your way and never look back.




Renee King
  • Grace
    Posted at 14:44h, 25 April Reply

    Renee, I can’t believe this actually happened. This reminds me of a Confucian saying “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

    I’m loving the new lay-out by the way.

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:00h, 25 April Reply

      I know….perhaps I am being unrealistic, but it really took me aback how calm the woman was. Love Confucius and thanks….I love the flexibility the new layout gives me.

  • Jeremy B
    Posted at 15:26h, 25 April Reply

    Honestly, I struggle with the words sometimes but I do say it. More than anything else, I live my life to make sure my family knows they are loved. And I know without a doubt that they feel loved by me. I can’t imagine being married to that man.

    However, there is the other side of that in which I would caution against wanting too much for ourselves. Loving another person does mean denying ourselves and sacrifice. Sometimes we can’t always have what we want for the benefit of others. Kids have taught me a lot about that and I continue to learn more about this every day.

    • Renee
      Posted at 20:13h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Jeremy,
      The fact that you try is what matters…it’s the dogged determination not to is what troubled me. I hear what you are saying about wanting too much which is not what I was trying to convey. I’m rallying against one’s propensity to want very little which I think is detrimental in the long run. I’m not saying that we should only focus on ourselves and disregard everyone else. Actually, my rant wasn’t so much about that radio call than it was about how little people are willing to accept in order to be loved. The call only got me wound up enough to write the post. I believe in compromise and sacrifice….the problem is when you’re the only one in the relationship that’s doing it. That is essentially the crux of my post.

  • David
    Posted at 15:34h, 25 April Reply

    I am full of admiration for the way you have written this article – so articulate, so focused, so without self-pity.

    One fragment sounded so poetic, chilling, motivating –

    “…where we check off the days on a calendar that has no end.”

    All the best.

    • Renee
      Posted at 20:14h, 25 April Reply

      Thanks, David!

  • Turkey's For Life
    Posted at 16:15h, 25 April Reply

    Loved this article Renee – beautifully written – and agree with you to some extent. What I’m thinking is – just to be devil’s advocate 🙂 – similar to what Jeremy said. This guy doesn’t sound like the most compassionate guy in the world but maybe he’s a nice guy, really. Maybe his wife knows that and has made that sacrifice for him because she loves him? That might be her ultimate happiness and goal in life. Not sure I could do the same thing myself but we’re all unique bods. That’s what makes us interesting…and what has resulted in your great article! 🙂

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:26h, 25 April Reply

      As usual, you make a great point. I think I just let it get under my craw because it wouldn’t be acceptable to me. I am sure he’s nice too. ;-D Thank you for being an advocate….I refuse to associate you with the devil. lol Thanks for giving your perspective and you are right we all have our own and I’m loving what everyone else has to add to the conversation.

  • cynthia in the french alps
    Posted at 16:56h, 25 April Reply

    Just found your website tonight via Twitter. Nice looking site. I also agree with you mostly but I must admit having married for the first time at 50 (to a Frenchman and moved to a foreign country for him after leaving my 6-figure consulting business and lovely home), that I never understood how much compromising and sacrificing it took to keep a relationship going. Granted, I’m committed to not losing myself or my happiness in the process but it does take a lot of work to have a successful marriage and for both parties to be happy. Cynthia in the French Alps

    • Renee
      Posted at 20:22h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Cynthia and welcome! To quote the book of Ruth: “Whither thou goeth, I will go”….I think it’s romantic and I believe that life is a trade off. If you are getting the emotional and loving support from your spouse in return, then it is well worth it. Obviously, your decision was well considered and you seem to have no regrets or feel as if you have given up your life. It sounds like as far as you are concerned, you have gained just as much. Which is exactly my point….your choice didn’t leave you wanting…it seems to have added to your life. Congrats and don’t be a stranger!

  • John in France
    Posted at 18:16h, 25 April Reply

    Congratulations on this article. When I saw you mention that you’d got upset about what someone had said on a radio show I knew it would be good! I do know men like this man – I’m thinking of one now, and I know he is the proudest man in the world of his children and wife, and loves them all in his way. Some men do struggle with expressing their feelings, in fact maybe so do some women? But I think your article is a reminder to think of others more – not necessarily making every day Valentine’s Day, but we don’t all want to end up being room-mates! Well done.

    • Renee
      Posted at 20:27h, 25 April Reply

      Thanks, John. I think that succinctly expresses one of my core points. You shouldn’t have to compel someone who purports to love you to show it. While I used that particular example, I certainly believe that women are just as likely to be unwilling to be loving and to express that love. Indifference is an equal opportunity offender. The lack of expression is what personally gets to me, for someone else they wouldn’t even notice and I respect that. I was simply stating my opinion and I hope that I did not offend anyone. ;-D

  • robin
    Posted at 05:14h, 26 April Reply

    I am constantly told by K, my other half, that I say it too much. She tells me to shut up.

    Why is it that when people get annoyed they write their best posts?

    • Renee
      Posted at 05:27h, 26 April Reply

      K is a lucky woman. I think when you are passionate about something that you perceive to be inequitable, that gets the old wheels to turning. That radio show only created permutations of my personal disdain of the subject and I probably took it to places where even I didn’t expect it to go. I debated even writing about it and posting it here, but decided to throw caution anyway. I don’t want it to be seen as an angry missive even though I referred to it as a rant. It’s actually good news….that people don’t have to settle for the minimum amount of affection that a lazy lover, friend, family member, etc. is willing to give. That knowledge can and should be liberating.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 05:38h, 26 April Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this article and I do agree with you – to an extent.

    The woman on the radio certainly sounded like she was making excuses for a situation she wasn’t happy with. Having in-laws with a military background I know first hand the struggles that kids brought up in that environment can have in knowing how their fathers feel about them. Although, my Dad isn’t particularly tactile or vocal with his affection but I have no doubt about his devotion to me – he just has to find his own way to show it (mostly in German, a language I don’t speak).

    I think the most important thing is not necessarily how you demonstrate your feelings, but that those on the receiving end know how you feel.

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:18h, 26 April Reply

      Thanks, Sarah for sharing your own personal experience and I certainly understand and respect your point of view. I guess in my mind, it’s difficult to know how someone feels unless they express it in some way or if you’re a good mind-reader.

  • Laurel
    Posted at 13:06h, 26 April Reply

    Wonderful post Renee. I think it’s so important to know what we want, what we’re able to give and not settle for less. Being engaged to a German (who is much more direct than I am) has been a good experience for me asking what I want, and although it did take a bit of getting used to, I’ve never been happier.

    • Renee
      Posted at 14:42h, 27 April Reply

      Thanks, Laurel. You expressed more succinctly than I. It is about knowing what you want and not accepting less. Many have brought up the point that that may be good enough for that caller. Very true…it isn’t good enough for me which is why it’s so important for us all to draw our own lines in the sand. Know what you want, what you are willing to compromise on and stay true to that.

  • Jacinda Green
    Posted at 01:24h, 27 April Reply

    This post really moved me. I come from a family who does not show affection and love towards one another. It takes a crisis now to even get my whole family together in one place.

    I learned at an early age not to dwell on this. Instead, I chose to do the opposite and make sure that I show my friends and sometimes even acquaintances that I care about them and will be there to help.

    I think this is a really important thing to do and you never know what a person is going through so you may be able to make their day just by lending a helping hand.

    Great post!

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:24h, 28 April Reply

      I can so relate, Jacinda! Same here and I made it my business to make sure that I used that word freely with my daughter. I think it contributes to one’s psychological well-being to know without a doubt that there is someone in this world who cares about your being here. That’s what makes us human….it’s like getting words of praise at work….sometimes that’s more satisfying than financial rewards….sometimes!

      EDIT: Jacinda, I hope that you are ok. I know that a tornado devastated UA (Tuscaloosa) last night and barely missed us….I hope that you see this and can respond.

  • jade
    Posted at 02:29h, 27 April Reply

    One of my best friends is like this man- or was like this man. We had been friends for several years and after saying to him time after time- love you, love you, I finally just said- You love me too. And he smiled and nodded. Then weeks later as I was saying goodbye to him in the car, he said- love you and thanks for your friendship. That was now a couple years ago and he says it more and more. I’m pretty bold- but I think expressing my feelings made it easier and more accepting for him to do the same.

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:21h, 28 April Reply

      You are brilliant. Your friend was probably raised in a household that didn’t say those words. Your warm friendship gave him a safe environment to say it without being judged for it. Brava to you!

  • Erin in Costa Rica
    Posted at 18:50h, 27 April Reply

    30 years without showing affection. That is so sad. My family was never very affectionate until my sister and I were old enough to let them know how much it hurt. Now we all hug and say I love you, it’s become natural. And I’m very affectionate with friends, too. It’s important. We’re humans, not robots. Being in a family doesn’t automatically equate to someone loving you. Hopefully for the sake of those kids, that family will one day realize this, too.

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:19h, 28 April Reply

      I have the same background. No one in my family went out of their way to utter those three words. Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly about it. Who knows how much time we have on this earth? To spend it being too scared, shy, embarrassed, hesitant to say three simple words is very sad. If those feelings are there, they should be shouted from the rooftops.

  • crazy sexy fun traveler
    Posted at 10:36h, 04 May Reply

    not a travel article but loved it! The last sentence says it all:)

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:05h, 04 May Reply

      True! Sometimes, I like to throw a philosophical curveball into the mix. Mostly because I think people let other things/people/circumstances deter them from being all that they can be. Discussing it in this forum may help someone to see themselves and consider that there are alternatives to consider. At the same time, it allows others to offer differing viewpoints.

  • Looking back in time – My 7 links
    Posted at 09:46h, 16 July Reply

    […] without a doubt is Following your heart doesn’t mean leaving your brain behind, mostly because some misinterpreted my intent when I espoused putting yourself […]

  • Diana Stroe
    Posted at 14:56h, 24 November Reply

    There are times that we have lots of concerns that keep us away from what we truly desire. Most of the time we focus on negative thoughts rather that can hinder us in following our heart’s desire. Personally, I must say that there are times that I’m trapped with this kind of situation so I’m still struggling on moving forward.
    Diana Stroe recently posted…Reiki BooksMy Profile

  • Juggler
    Posted at 20:06h, 03 February Reply

    Great Post Renee. It came to me at the right time. Its not just about words or expressing your love verbally, but also in your act. Its not enough if you hear the loving words day after day but it is also essential to show it in the way you treat your companion. Its the story of my life and why I chose to leave it. I was at the verge of a legal separation but still in two minds, fearing a battle. But your post helped looking back and making the step. Thank you.

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:04h, 07 February Reply

      Thank you and I hope that your life grows exponentially happier!

  • Purnima
    Posted at 14:55h, 19 June Reply

    Hi Renee . Its so strange that this can actually happen .You have very rightly put that we live most of our life taking the weight of the world on your shoulders . Why is it so hard to tell your loved ones that you need more than what they are giving . Really liked your share .

  • BJ
    Posted at 19:39h, 04 August Reply

    Another fantastic piece, Renee. Reading through the comments above what I was taken aback by is by how level-headed and thought out the comments and responses have been, particuarly when discussing the man in the piece. It’s uncommon to see responses online that aren’t filled with vile and horrible language so to read considered responses, I think, only reflects on the type of people that are drawn to your work which, obviously, reflects positively on your capabilities are a writer! 🙂

    I also must add that I’m a fan of how, prior to starting each piece, you include your little ‘info box’ which provides a summary into what the piece will be about. It’s a nice touch! 🙂


  • aviewtoathrill
    Posted at 09:34h, 13 July Reply

    Blast from the past, but still true today. Are you willing to continue to accept crumbs that falls from someone’s…

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