Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Every year we all sit around the television, watch the countdown and at the stroke of midnight (if we’re lucky) someone attractive next to us will give us a huge kiss. Apart from Valentine’s Day, I would say this is the day I see the most people smooching at the same time. After this kiss we say aloud what we have all been thinking about for weeks; our new year’s resolution. Each and every year we vow (without consequence) to do something less, more or not at all. These wishes range from being nicer, traveling more, seeing more friends, being a better sibling, losing weight and some of us to being better partners. However adding that extra spark to our relationships can be easier said than done.

So, in line with the holidays and beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d pull together an easy list of some possible action steps you might take to improve your relationships in the coming year. This year let’s all create resolutions for our relationships with the people we love and care about.

Now I know we are all incredibly busy. With the excessive demands on our time it can sometimes be easy to ignore our relationships, but this unconscious devaluation of love can really harm us in the end. And for those couples who have been together for a long time, it’s even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (I call this the relationship slip) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This kind of carelessness can really make your relationship sour and boring, possibly leading to a host of other problems that can erode the foundations we have all worked so hard to keep. So for the rest of this blog, put down your cell phones, log off of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, My yearbook, Twitter, or any other social media site you may be multitasking with and pay full attention to the next few paragraphs.

Want copious amounts of love in the New Year?

Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its long-term success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year’s Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to keep each other accountable to it? In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. The two (or possibly more) of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to pursue and successes to celebrate along the way. This resolution can be simple, but make sure to make it something that you can actually achieve. This doesn’t mean make your goal low, but surely something that you can work towards. Something like:

“in 2011, we as a couple will do the following for the benefit and love of each other,”

Or “this year we will accomplish the following goals together to further solidify our love for each other”

I made a list of 9 simple things that can be on your list, but make sure to also think of your own make them as fun as you can and decorate them when you are done.

1. To listen to each other without interrupting and tell each other when we fear we aren’t heard.

2. To take notice of the “little things” (that can actually be the most important things) we do for each other and acknowledge the effort we put into the relationship.

3. To make more time for each other and restructure our schedules so that we have more quality time and availability to go out on dates and enjoy each other (this could be once a week, every 2 weeks or even for 5 minutes every day).

4. To make love to each other with more passion, intensity, and creativity (safely, of course).

5. To create a scrapbook of memories of our life together that will act as a legacy of our relationship (arts and crafts can be great for building passion. Like Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing”).

6. To make sure and “check in” with each other every day to stay centered and focused even when life gets hectic.

7. To surprise each other with simple reminders that we love and cherish each other (a note on the bathroom mirror or a heart written on the snow covering our car, maybe even flowers sent to our schools or jobs).

8. To keep/make more friends who support our relationship and we can go out with.

9.To ensure that we each have both an individual identity and an identity as a couple to bring about more balance/health to our partnership (Having outside interests, hobbies, and passions will help bring more novelty and freshness to joining lives).

And the list can go on and on. Fine-tune these, as well as the ones you’ve come up with so that they are specific, concrete, and measurable. This way, you both know exactly what you have to do to accomplish the goals you’ve set because they’re spelled out with no “wiggle-room” for sabotage, and you’ll ensure that they’re achievable. Prioritize your items and only focus on a few initially so as not to get too overwhelmed. Keep the list in multiple places, near the front door, the bedroom, the bathroom even on your smart phones or post them to each other’s Facebook pages as a reminder of what you agreed to.

Maintain these tasks, and your commitment will soar to new heights! Reward yourselves for jobs well done and from time to time check-in with each other to gauge how you’re doing and if any revisions or additions need to be made.

Happy New Year and I wish you all happy and healthy relationships in 2011. So tell me, what’s on your list?

-Ernesto Dominguez

What’s in a name?

Some of you have asked, “why the name CHATmosphere Ernesto?” We’ll I’ll tell you why. A few months ago we came to our facebook page with challenge. We wanted our “fans” to submit their own ideas of what we should name our blog. Much to our surprise many people wrote in with ideas like:

CHATter Box    CHATblog    Not your parents blog    Sex-ish      Body-talk      sexCHAT Off the Curb

And of course CHATmosphere. After a few rounds of choosing favorites, (done by an anonymous panel of experts, or sort of experts actually) they arrived at the final conclusion that CHATmosphere would be the best name to call our blog.

Mitchell is a 21 year old student at Portland State University studying English and Philosophy with an end goal of becoming a superhero. Here is what our good friend Mitchell S. had to say about why he submitted CHATmosphere as a name for our blog.

How did you first hear about CHATpdx?:

CHATpdx utilizes social media via Facebook and Twitter etc. to grab the attention of youth around the city.

So inevitably, they found me on Facebook which isn’t all that hard of thing to do.

Why “CHATmosphere”?

Discussion of safe sex, youth sex, sex in general should be inviting and comfortable. CHATmosphere is a place that’s safe for youth to drop in and CHAT; it’s an atmosphere of community, advice and involvement.

What does HIV mean to you?

HIV—knowledge of it—is a reality of a sexually active life

Why HIV is still an important issue for youth?

Knowledge is power: knowledge of prevention, knowledge of your status, knowledge of support, all of these things empower youth to take control of their own sexual lives and assert what’s important.

For the winning entry Mitchell got a giftcard to Trader Joes. Keep a look out for more contests in the future. With any luck you might be our next winner.

What is CHATpdx?

Curbing HIV/AIDS Transmission (CHAT) is a collaboration between organizations and individuals working to curb HIV and AIDS transmission among young people through peer education and outreach, HIV testing, youth services and social media.

Funded through the Department of Health and Human Service – Office of Minority Health (OMH). Our work is carried out by a number of organizaitons including Cascade AIDS Project, Outside In, and the African American AIDS Action Awareness Alliance (A6).

What we do and what YOU can do:

  • CHATpdx (room) – These HIV testing/youth nights at Pivot (209 SW 4th Ave) occur every 2nd and 4th Mondays from 3 – 7pm (check the calendar).  Open for all youth 24 and under.  These nights include games, peer education, wii, snacks, and more.  Do you want your peer educators to “sponsor” a testing night? Contact Annika.
  • Print out a coupon and flyer
  • CHATpdx Facebook fan page – “Like” our page and get the latest CHATpdx news and events.  If you have an event relevant for youth 24 and under, send us the information, and we will post it. Contact Ernesto.
  • CHATpdx is on Twitter as well!  www.twitter.com/CHATpdx
  • CHATpdx has a blog on WordPress to engage and empower young people. Make sure to come back often to get the latest news and information.
  • Outreach testing events – do you have an event that will reach youth 24 and under?  Do you want HIV testing there?  Let CHATpdx know if you do, and we will see if we can make it work! Contact Annika.
  • For more information please email: Ernesto @  Edominguez@cascadeaids.org or call us at 503.278.3871