Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life Book - 2015!

A good friend sent me this email called "Life Book 2015" and I thought everyone could use a quick read:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I thought I needed a husband...when what I needed was a wife!

After five years of single parenting, I finally broke down and admitted that I needed help. A wonderful girl from my work offered to come over and help me with Grace.  I offered to pay her, as I knew she was saving to buy a house - and I desperately needed the help.

She came over and played with Grace while I made dinner and took care of a few things around the house. Then she ran an errand and cleaned out Grace's too small clothes from her overflowing closet. (Next week she is going to hang something for me - she even knows how to use those illusive anchors which I've never figured out).

By the end of the night, Grace was relaxed because she didn't have to spend so much time playing by herself while mommy was doing "house stuff" - and I was relaxed because someone took the pressure of being the 100% source of entertainment while simultaneously handling household responsibilities.

When she left, I enjoyed a nice glass of wine and dozed off to sleep with a smile. For so long I thought that I needed a husband - it turns out what I needed was a wife!

Now she comes every week for one miraculously night where my to-do list is cut in half and my child goes to bed happy. I strongly recommend a mother's helper for any single mom (or working mom) - go get one today!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Avoiding a dating hangover.

Cognitively I realize that meeting someone ends one of two ways: you end up married (or committed together) or you don't.  Nonetheless, it didn't work out with the 'almost dating' tennis player. He swept me off my feet when I first met him, but when he returned to the daily grind, he was all 'take' and no 'give'. Although I enjoy his company very much, I don't want a fun weekend here and there when it is convenient, I want more...I want it all. So I told him it felt more like a friends thing because it seemed that we were on two different pages.

It is so hard to stand up for what you want in the long run, when in the short run a romantic date would be awesome. It's a bit like deciding to take a shot when you are out - you know it will make for a fun night...but it's going to hurt after.  How often do you find yourself saying "So glad I did that shot!" - usually it is "I wish I hadn't done that"  So in the spirit of avoiding any dating hangovers, I've closed this chapter and am looking forward to a new one starting.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Almost dating...

I'm almost dating someone. We met online while he was in my area, and much to my chagrin it turned out that he lives two time zones away.  We had 5 dates in 5 days and by the end of the week, he was hooked and so was I.  The next week he was still in my time zone but no longer local. He showered me with sweet texts and thoughts of spending time together again.  We planned our next visit and agreed not to date anyone else while we got to know each other.

Then he went home and back to the daily grind.  And the sweet texts turn to perfunctory, leaving me wondering if he was still interested.  While those first five dates sound like a dream, it came on fast and strong and made me nervous. I had my guard up, waiting to see if he was for real.  By the end of his time here my guard started to drop and that's when he headed home.

We text here and there throughout the day, but it is hard to get to know someone over text. I 'asked him out' on a FaceTime date, which he readily accepted. I didn't know how to clearly say - I would like you to block time to spend with me. If he were here, we would have dates. But long distance doesn't mean you can put in less effort, it means you have to be more creative. (in retrospect, I suppose I could just say those exact thoughts - but it is so hard to say things straight, isn't it?)

I reach out with sweet texts on occasion, the one I sent last night went unanswered.  The story that I'm telling myself is that he is interested in what's convenient for him and not interested enough to make an effort to get to know me.  For all I know he was thinking 'it is late and she was so tired so I'm not going to respond so she can sleep.'

I've tried to check in a few times to see what he is thinking but my reaches toward him, whether sweet or check in, are frequently met with an emoticon as a response. Perhaps he didn't get the memo that I don't speak emoticon.

So I'll continue to 'almost date' him until either the spark become stronger or fizzles out altogether.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Grace's 5th Birthday

Today is Grace's 5th birthday and I woke up extra early today, giddy with excitement that my little girl is now 5!  I posted a short, sentimental remark on facebook along with a picture of her from the beach, gazing out over the ocean. All morning I felt this resounding strength, that with very little help, I raised this happy, healthy five year old who makes me, and many others, smile every day.

Then it hit...a mini panic attack. I flashed back to her father's dead eyes in the hospital. The way he was texting, only to find out it was a girlfriend on the other end, while I'm in a hospital bed learning to care for my newborn baby girl.  And all of the pain came flooding back, setting off a shame spiral.

I hate that this is my story. I can not stand it.  But I'm trying to embrace it. It has shaped who I am, and as a result, shaped who Grace is as well - its given her an example of strength and determination to move forward. I'm a real-life case study of resilience.  I hope that one day the strength will carry me so far forward that the panic and pain can no longer reach me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

From the Worst to the Best in 6 Days

Last week I went out on the worst date. I agreed to dinner, which is unusal for me, but I was trying to be optimistic that it was worth the time investment to give someone a change.  As I arrived, I realized he downed a glass of wine before I got there. When we sat down, he wanted to order a bottle of wine. I suggested going glass by glass because I was only going to have one and he said "I challenge you to finish a bottle of wine" and I said "I have to drive" and he said "so do I". After a big to-do to pick a bottle of wine (me saying 'whatever you pick will be fine'), he ordered a vegan dinner and polished off the entire bottle sans my one glass.  Tipsy at the end, he asked if I wanted to hang out again. I went home with the resolve that being alone for the next 10 years would be better than repeating this dinner ever again/

Fast forward six days and I'm at a work meeting with the CEO of a company we just acquired came to sit next to me after lunch. As he walked over, I panicked, wondering what work-talk I was going to coherently make, after just having a meal and having a food-hangover.  Luckily, he wasn't looking to talk shop and we quickly entered the realm of TV after I blurted out 'So did you start referencing the Heisenberg Theory before or after 'Breaking Bad' got big?' Much to my amusement, he went straight to the topic of Breaking Bad and from there asked 'have you seen Weeds?' - have I seen Weeds? Nancy Botwin is one of my personal heros (in all of her hot mess-ed-ness).

From there we took a short leap to travel and then to Africa. He's been!  He fell in love with the people and the culture when he visited. I was gushing about Rwanda. The love, the heart break, the difficulty being here and strong pull to be back there. At that point, he referenced a Buddhist principle which I immediately recognized at Pema Chondron - Pema - he reads Pema!  Wow! 

Unfortunately our talk was cut short because the larger group meeting resumed.  He said we should talk more and asked what office I was in.  Long story short, we had a work email exchange and against probably all reason, logic and good advice, I found a somewhat low key way to drop in my number.

For the amount of time I've put in complaining about the lack of quality dates and connection - I decided that when a good conversation comes along, you have to at least make an effort toward it.

I have no idea if he was as amused (even excited) as I was. Maybe he meets people like this every day.  But I don't feel that sense of connection so easily and I was eagerly hoping for the conversation to continue.

I'm sure that the conversation happened for a reason - maybe it wasn't go get to know him, maybe just to remind me of that the depth that I'm holding out for really does exist.  It was worth going out on a little limb to see!

Friday, July 31, 2015

I'm back from Rwanda and....what happens next?

I'm back from Rwanda and a jumble of emotions. The trip was uplifting yet gut-wrenching at the same time. The country is so full of love and connectedness, yet they've been through so much pain and have so many challenges in front of them.

Two weeks after I returned, my uncle passed away. And I hit the ground.  Crying...that ugly, snot-running crying...until I realized I wasn't just crying for him, but for the kids from the orphanage whom we had to leave.  I'm back here...but they are still there.  And I don't know how to be ok with that. We lived on this constant wave of love, and now I'm back and it is gone and they are gone from my life.

I'm not sure what is the next step forward. I always know - always have a next step, goal or milestone. But now I don't. How do I make a difference? How do I fill the hole in my heart from the piece that was left in Rwanda?

I've felt 'island syndrome' in the past (where you feel you are living alone on an island with no one around) - but this time it is different. I don't know how to explain my experience and it is almost harder to relate to other people, having not processed the experience myself.

Don't get me wrong - there was so much good from the trip and I see things differently now. In many ways I am more understanding of other people, but in some ways I'm less.  In many ways I feel gentler and more connected as a human being, but in some ways I feel more alone and less relate-able to those around me.

I had this vision that after I moved into our new home, sold our old house, ate whatever I wanted (to prep for the trip) and then traveled to this land of gentle kindness....that I would come back peaceful and whole. (Part of me even imagined this would be the type of time where I finally cross paths with the right person) But now I am unsure - what happens next?

5 Lessons Learned From 2 Weeks in Rwanda

Back from Rwanda and here is my article about the trip:

5 Lessons From 2 Weeks in Rwanda (A Letter to My Daughter)


Monday, June 15, 2015

Eat, Pray, Love, Rwanda

Four years post-divorce and the landscape looks so different. Grace has grown from a baby into a child. We made a fresh start in a new house (just last month) in a nicer neighborhood, in a house that feels like a home.  Old friends have all stayed in place and may new friends have become as close as family. I landed my dream job of running a marketing program.  I'm now a blogger on the Huffington Post.  All of this...and I'm still alone. Except alone used to feel scary and daunting. Now it feels free and empowering. All choices are mine, the path is mine, the joy is mine.

In the last 8 months I have barely dated. But I've been eating. In part to gain weight before going to Rwanda. In part because, for the first time in longer than I can remember, I don't care as much about what I look like. I no longer feel in competition with other girls for the holy grail of a stunning single man.

I've been meditating (or trying to). Using new techniques to gain perspective in times when control is no longer mine. The moving process really puts this to the test - buying and selling a house is a high stakes game and you want to come out a winner but you don't know until the dust settles how you did.

Next week I leave for Rwanda. I'm all nerves mixed with some excitement. As the day approaches I expect more nerves and less excitement and after the plane takes off I except the tide will change. I won't have any control over what happens, it is all in the hands of God, the Universe, the Higher Power. All there is to do is to let go and live....and love.  Those kids who have never known a mother's love. Who don't have individual attention on a regular basis.

So although I am still alone, I feel that the whole universe is supporting me. On this journey, on this path. Moving forward.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"So, here it is, the plan for being happy and unstoppable..."

After studying and teaching the science and practice of well-being, leadership, and expert performance for twenty-five years, and in my work with executives, athletes, adventurers, educators, activists, parents, and students from all over the world, one thing has become crystal clear to me: the secret to a remarkable life lies in your relationship to discomfort.
I am not just referring to physical pain or emotional experiences such as anger, fear, anxiety, stress, disappointment, or heartbreak. There is an easy exercise to uncover the kind of subtle discomfort that can be influential in your life - especially when you are unaware of it. Without thinking about it, clasp your hands together with fingers intertwined. See which thumb is on top. This is how you always do it - it is comfortable. Now unclasp your hands, shift them relative to each other, and reclasp them so that the other thumb is on top. If you pay attention, you may notice a slightly unsettled feeling - a mild sense of discomfort.
This simple exercise offers powerful insight into your brain. There is a part of your brain that is activated when it determines that there is a current problem or a potential obstacle, or when you do something different than you have in the past. This area of the brain then sends signals in two directions. One signal travels toward your gut to create sensations of discomfort, and another signal goes to a part of the brain that prompts a habitual behavior. If you engage in the behavior, then another part of the brain gives you a tiny reward, which you experience as relief from discomfort. In fact, the original meaning of the word comfort was "feeling of relief."
So this network in your brain connects the feelings of discomfort with an action that leads to comfort. Squirrels have the same system - stimulus, discomfort, action, comfort. What makes you different from a squirrel (besides longer legs, a lack of body fur, and slightly less beady eyes), is that this is not the only brain system you have for choosing behavior. We will get to that in a minute.
Discomfort is a natural and temporary experience. Discomfort is just information about how your nervous system is responding to circumstances. It may be incredibly useful information for navigating your environment and it may be misleading information based on false associations from the past. While discomfort itself is nothing more than a sensation created by your nervous system, mindless and reflexive efforts to seek relief from discomfort can cause a lot of drama. In fact, seeking relief from discomfort can completely derail us from what is most important. Procrastination, perfectionism, compulsion, eating, drinking, spending, lying, cheating, stealing, gambling, hoarding, yelling, hitting, hiding...the list goes on. While no one has ever died from discomfort, many people have died trying to get rid of it. In daily life, relentless pursuit of comfort and avoidance of discomfort require a tremendous amount of energy that could otherwise go into meaningful activities.
From a young age we are taught that the people and the circumstances around us are responsible for our feelings and that we are responsible for the feelings of others. The simple truth is that your feelings are created by your nervous system and other peoples' feelings are created by their nervous systems. To illustrate this point, let's imagine you are sitting on an airplane and a toddler is screaming. The mother is feeling frustration and embarrassment. Another parent sitting three rows back is feeling relief that it is not his child who is making the noise. A third person is feeling annoyance at the noise and another passenger is feeling empathy and compassion for the mother. Which of these feelings is the screaming child responsible for? The more you accept responsibility for how you relate to your own feelings and stop trying to control the feelings of others, the less complicated life becomes.
The good news is that human brains are equipped with more than just the squirrel system. You have architecture in your brain designed for awareness, acceptance, and purpose. You can notice and accept the feelings of discomfort, you can weigh values and priorities such as contribution, learning, growth, and connection, and you can take action based on what is most important to you.

Doing something even when you don't feel like it is a uniquely human trait. In fact, this may be the single most impressive thing about our species
. I like to use the acronym WYFLION - Whether You Feel Like It or Not - to remind myself that I am capable of doing things in the presence of discomfort. Behind every significant accomplishment in this world, there is an individual or group who took action in the presence of discomfort to achieve a goal. WYFLION gets parents up to change a diaper in the middle of the night, gives explorers the ability to peer around the next bend, pushes athletes through a challenging workout, and keeps relationships intact through rough patches - it is the fuel for heroes great and small. WYFLION is the unwritten clause of the Golden Rule - Do onto others as you would have them do onto you (whether you feel like it or not). WYFLION is the key to a life of freedom.
The real secret to lasting happiness is the awareness and acceptance that the feelings of happiness do not last. No matter what you do, the comfortable feelings of happiness come and go in the same way that the uncomfortable feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety, stress, anger, boredom, frustration, and restlessness come and go. No matter what you do, discomfort is going to show up again. When you eat, you don't expect that you are done with hunger forever - you accept that the discomfort of hunger will show up again. This is true for every type of discomfort. There is no way to extinguish this integral part of being human. The beauty is that you can use discomfort as an opportunity to reorient your attention to what is most important. Mindfully accepting and purposely responding to discomfort without desperately and reactively seeking relief is the foundation of a good life. This takes practice - mindful and purposeful practice.
The elements of mindful practice are opening up, noticing, and accepting whatever shows up - pleasant or unpleasant. You can set aside time at the beginning and ending of each day - 5 to 20 minutes - to sit mindfully. You can stop 3-5 times a day for 10 - 60 seconds at a time to practice being mindful. You can practice being mindful in any activity - walking, driving, eating, talking, listening, working, playing. The elements of purposeful practice are commitment, opportunity and action. There are thousands of opportunities everyday to identify what is most important and take some small meaningful action. This practice - Opening, Noticing, Accepting, Commitment, Opportunity, Action (ONACOA) - builds the core skills of exceptional well-being and performance.
So, here it is, the plan for being happy and unstoppable: Practice being mindful of accepting discomfort and taking committed action in its presence. Make an attempt, fail, get up, and make a new attempt. Practice compassion for yourself and others and gratitude for the simple opportunity to be human. When a new discomfort shows up, begin again.

Friday, May 29, 2015

There is a Little Bit of Katie Meyler in Each of Us (And Why I’m Going to Rwanda…as a Single Mom)

(As seen on the Huffington Post

If you don't know who Katie Meyler is yet, it’s worth the time to find out. She is an enterprising young woman who opened the More than Me Academy to get girls off the street and into schools in West Point, Liberia.

When the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa in the fall of 2014, the school was forced to shut down. Instead of waiting for the threat to pass, Katie flew into the heart of the epidemic and turned her school into an aid center to help victims and newly orphaned children of Ebola. You can follow Katie on Instagram where she posts gripping photos of both the despair and hope found within Liberia. For her efforts, she was named Time Magazine’s ”Person of the Year” in 2014, and has earned Instagram’s “person to follow,” designation as her posts resonate with all cross-sections of humanity.  

Why are people so drawn to Katie's story and her work? Because there is a little bit of Katie Meyler in each of us. She doesn't come from a wealthy family and has had no advantages to make her journey easy - she just knew what she needed to do and acted on it.

Perhaps Katie’s will to help is best described by Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, co-founder of the M Night Shyamalan Foundation, an organization that funds the More than Me Academy. “Walking by a man lying in the street is not neutral, it is a negative,” Shyamalan says. “You are making a choice to do nothing.” She adds that the only way forward is to pull people up, one by one.

Although we may not have the means or desire to fly to Liberia, seeing Katie's pictures reminds us that we can each choose actions to improve the world around us. Katie, and others like her, prove that one person's efforts are not inconsequential - what we do makes a difference.

Inside we all know there is something we can do for the greater good. We need to listen to the voice reminding us that we are fortunate and often take basic essentials for granted - yet others are not as lucky.  

As a single mother, I made the decision to travel to Rwanda to live and work for two weeks in the Nibakure Children’s Village - an orphanage designed to provide a sustainable home for approximately 20 children who were not born into the loving and stable environments so many of us are afforded.

When I learned of the Nibakure Village, I instantly recognized how lucky my daughter and I are to have landed where we are in life. I wondered if I didn’t go and spend time with these children - who would? These kids didn't choose to be born into a difficult situation, living in one of the world’s poorest countries, but I can choose to make their world a little bit better by volunteering my time and energy.

So I’ve committed to getting more than five inoculations to protect against deadly diseases, such as yellow fever and typhoid, taking meds that cause stomachaches, and flying across the globe for 24 hours to have an experience that will both enrich my character and provide an example for my daughter, so that she doesn’t take our life for granted and choosing to help others will become part of the fabric of who she is as she grows up.

Don't be neutral - choose to help pull someone up today.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Walking by a man lying in the street is not neutral, it is a negative"

I went to the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation event over the weekend to hear three of their leaders speak - three individuals who have been 'vetted by life' and overcame significant challenges that lead them to feel responsible to make circumstances better for others - from pulling boys in Ghana out of the slave trade, to getting girls in Liberia off the streets and into school to eradicating the signficant reading lag in K through 3rd graders in the US.

Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan said, "Walking by a man lying in the street is not neutral, it is a negative" - these three individuals refused to leave anyone lying there and are pulling people out, one by one.

I left the event feeling incredibly inspired and wondering - am I pulling as many people out as I can?  Although I have my trip to Rwanda booked (leaving in 2 months!) and I volunteer on a community committee, the majority of my time is spent at work and raising my daughter.  The truth is, I've always felt I should do more. I even have a shooting star tattooed on my back to remind me of what I am capable of doing, so I would not forget to never settle.

I realized that night that I haven't been at a place where I feel safe to branch further out. I live in a house where I feel under siege - between things breaking and flashbacks to the dramatic end to the marriage.  I didn't chose to live in this house, I ended up living here by circumstance.

In the past 2 months I've set everything else aside and have focused on finding a home for Stella and I.  A solid foundation from which we can continue to build our lives.  I think (hope) I have found that place & if this one doesn't work out, I won't give up until I find the home that is right for us.

I truly believe this is a missing piece to getting my 'maslovian needs' in order - and now I want to do more - help others who's needs aren't met.

Despite wondering if 'doing enough' after hearing these amazing leaders, I attended a fundraising dinner for a soup kitchen where my team at work at served a lunch. After we saw the poor condition of their cooking supplies, we shipped boxes of sets of culinary knives for the kitchen along with blankets and coats and whatever else we could pull together to supply to the homeless people who depend on this facility each day for their meals and services.  Although this was done without thinking twice, the person who runs the soup kitchen found me at the dinner and thanked me for coming through - not for saying that we wanted to help - but for doing it and taking it to the next level but sending the supplies. 

Right now I have the urge to pick everyone up - that passion and buzz inside - but right now I am doing what I can. Right now, I need a home base to start from.  Right now, I need to raise my daughter. But as I go along, I can help on the community committee, I can spend time at the orphanage in Rwanda, making those kids feel special and valued - and I can help a poorly supplied soup kitchen along the way -- what can you do today?

Don't be neutral - don't be a negative - pick someone up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Resurrecting Soup Guy

In the fall of 2013 I met a lovely guy whom I named Soup Guy. We only had two dates because I didn't feel the "wow" factor.  However, in the year and a half since, I've thought of him many times as I grumbled to myself that this date 'didn't do this' or was 'lousy at that' - and would compare the less-than dates to Soup Guy who did everything right.

So when I came across him on an online dating since in 2015, I asked if he would like to catch up over a drink.  We met up last week and had good conversation, he is as nice as ever. Easy going, non-judgemental, asks a lot of questions.  Although the immediate "wow" factor isn't there right now, I am well aware that my "wow" factor-o-meter is a bit off and usually points to self-involved, un-evolved guys.  He asked for a second date and said he has a fun idea so I'm going to say yes and see what is in store.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Big Data and Online Dating

Despite the more than 100 first dates I've probably been on since my divorce, I have had probably 90 bad first ones and out of the remaining ten, first bad second dates.  Surely there must be a science to this.  I've put my own first date criteria in place to drastically reduce the number of 'nice guys' I say yes to, in hopes to meet more 'potential guys' out for a drink.

Amy Webb, a digital strategist and author, decided to take a scientific approach to dating - her TED Talk on "How I Hacked Online Dating" is a must watch!

Friday, March 13, 2015

De-skunking my life

I haven't written in a while...since I last wrote, my house has been sprayed three times by skunks that made a home and under addition, the hot water pipe running to said addition froze (who knew a hot water pipe could froze) and the backroom in my basement got water in it twice.  I've been struggling to keep from drowning!

There are a few things I've learned from having challenge after challenge arise within days of each other over the last few weeks:
1) I can handle anything. I've caught 2 skunks and 2 possums in traps myself! I've de-smelled, thawed, dried out, waterproofed and smell-proofed my house.

2)  People show up when you need them. At one point I thought perhaps I was on the outs with the universe. Maybe the great force had finally turned it's back on me for all of the selfish thoughts I've had over the years. But after the skunk, pipe and flooding happened the first time, my doorbell rang. And my friend was standing there. 10 mins later it rang again. And another friend showed up.  The next night another friend showed up with flowers and took Grace and I for the best ice cream we've ever had!  If that's not a true sign that the universal force of love has your back, then I don't know what is!

3) I feel completely unrelatable and unattached to the rest of the world.  Although it is with great pride that I can say I'm addressing these obstacles on my own, it sounds bizarre when you try to explain this to a guy. It's not hot. It's not needy. It's like I'm too far removed for anyone to find me remotely desirable again.

4) I went from being lonely and feeling a hole inside to loving my alone time and feeling pretty fulfilled.

Between 3 and 4 it is a weird juxtaposition because while I feel completely undate-able - I also have very little desire to really date.  Maybe it is because the last 8 months I've met some really lame, lame people...but now I immediately react with a mix between "this guy wouldn't want to hang with me" and "why would I ever want to hang with this guy?"

I did go out on one date in the last month with a guy I met 2 years ago. We couldn't get it together to go out on a date then and he insists that it was because I was being flakey. But I remembered thinking he seemed like a player. Well sure enough, a tiger can't hide his stripes and he made several flirty references but he couldn't quite ask me out for a second date. 

So what does this all mean?  Well, basically that I'll be really happy when there are no skunks under my addition....or in my life :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What he did before the first day came true 10x by the 5th date!

An early blogpost put forth the theory that "whatever a person does on the first date, multiply it by 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the relationship".

This rang true with the last guy I dated. We went out 4 times. Before the first date, he texted for so many weeks that I said I didn't sense he was that interested and wished him good luck with his search. He said he was interested and finally asked me out.  Straight away: he was not interested enough.

On the second date, we met at a bar near his place in the city. I drove around for 40 mins looking for parking. He was at the bar having a drink for the last 20 mins of my desperate search for a spot, and not once offered to come out and help me find a spot.

On date three and four, he drove out to my town but made no effort to make plans, he left it all to me.

So after 2 weeks went by and he texted and said "what are you doing next week? what to meet up?" I thought 'no, I want to be asked to have dinner, I "meet up" with my friends'.  So I kindly wrote back and said that this was feeling like more of a friend thing, but I was happy to hang out as friends, time permitting (I didn't say time permitting but I assume that was understood).

He proceeds to send a few texts saying he was just busy and he is interested, but I didn't have the heart to say "even when you made time, you still did not make much of an effort".  And now it's time to move on..

Monday, February 9, 2015

What to do When You Have Stretched Passed Your Limit?

I am most definitely stretched passed my limit.

I've over-extended myself, over-spent my energy and over-reached my boundaries in order to try to make life perfect....and what came as a result? I'm past the point of exhaustion and (spoiler alert) life didn't end up perfect after all :)

At this point it is time for a total life recharge: take care of myself
  • Turning down social invitations when I feel the need to catch up on sleep
  • Indulging in some wonderfully entertaining TV programming
  • Picked up a bottle of body wash that says "indugle" so I thought I would. 
  • To start to fight back my own image of myself as a rundown 35 year old living inside a haggard, worn-out 85 year old body, I invested in 2 key 'beautifiers':
    1. The Clairsonic skin cleaning brush. My skin as never felt so soft and looked so shiny! It took years off instantly!
    2. A fancy new hairdryer which hasn't arrived yet so I can't remember the name nor give an honest review, but I am sure it will yield Jennifer Aniston-level style
I have a lot of overextending, overspending, and overreaching to heal. It will take some time. So going forward, I learned a few key lessons to try and prevent passing my limit:
  • Ask for a break as soon as I need it - don't wait until it is dire
  • Take care of myself as a priority, not only as a remedy
  • Change internal dialogue to be positive - because life is perfectly imperfect
  • Laugh WAY more often
  • Move out of the way of the storm of those who will take what you have and leave you feeling empty 
  • Recognize joy in small moments

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Un-Groundhog's Day

Today is Groundhog's Day, perhaps celebrated across the nation but most definitely in Pennsylvania where the infamous groundhog lives.

I started thinking about the term 'groundhog's day' for a repeat experience over and over.  And I realized that today, for the first year, I can honestly say it is Un-Groundhog's Day. I've learned so much over the last year - about who I am, what I am worth, and how to set boundaries to be treated as I would like - that I will not fall into the same traps over and over again this year.

Last year had four really big hits of mistakes. And I used to say I never made a mistake, I always learned from my experiences - but four times it seems like I repeated the same naive hope and belief and landed on my you-know-what, crushed each time.

But the truth is, each time I built up hope and believed in someone for different reasons and it took the same lesson, over and over, to realize that settling for less than you are worth - under any circumstances - is never ok.  As soon as that little voice inside tugs at you and says 'this guy doesn't add up' - trust the voice because there is a reason it is there!

So Happy Un-Groundhogs Day to all of my fellow singles who are getting wiser by the year :)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Reflections on My Marriage

I've been remiss about writing lately, partially due to traveling for work and partially due to dealing with some health stuff.  However, mainly I've just had the overwhelming feeling that I'm drowning lately.  As a result, my brain has somewhat shut itself, and in effect me, off from everything.

I've actually been hanging out with a guy for the last few weeks. Very nice guy, he seems somewhat interested but in my opinion not interested enough. He makes some effort, but not enough. And his lack of effort is resulting in my disinterest so I guess that is karma at work for you right there - what you give is what you get back :)

This time of non-movement has afforded me some freedom to reflect.  Images of the last 4 years have been flashing by, some bring me to tears and some make me smile. It's like my brain is processing the last four years. I suspect this started a couple of months ago, and I believe this is what the Sage Shrink referred to as "grieving".

Nonetheless during a recent reflection (read: flashback), I realized that I carry around a great amount of anxiety because of the lies my ex told and how shocked I was to found out that all was not as I thought it was. It created a ripple effect in me where I started to question and doubt everything - because I never really knew where the truth stopped and the lies started.  Were they all lies?  This question has haunted me for a long time.

Then I realized - it is somewhere in the middle.  The truth is, when we met we were different people than we were today. He was a person who would lie in order to get approval. And I was a person who desperately wanted to be approved of.  We checked off every item on the 'suitable partner' checklist (too naive to realize that a checklist does not make true love).

During the eight years we were together, we grew into different people. I grew to be someone who realized I deserved approval. And he grew to be someone who....well still lied in order to get approval.  See the disconnect?

So it doesn't matter what was real and what was not - it was a fit in the beginning because we were both looking in the same direction. But when one person grows and the other does not, sometimes the disconnect becomes to deep and too distant to where it is no longer a fit. 

This realization has brought me some amount of peace.  It removes some of the burden of distrust from new people I meet. It removes the burden of guilt from myself for not being wiser all along.

I was on my path, and he was on his. But my path was never stagnant, I was always moving forward.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Whatever a person does on the first date, multiply it by 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the relationship

I recently read a blog post that started with: Years ago, when I first started in HR, I remember my boss warning me, "Whatever a candidate does in the job interview, multiply it 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the job."

It occurred to me the same could be said of a first date - whatever a person does on the first date, multiply it by 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the relationship How many times have you picked up on something small that bothered you or was seemingly a yellow flag on the first date....only to have it became super evident that it was a big red flat within the first three months of dating!?  Looking back, I could almost predict why a relationship wouldn't work without giving it a full three months because that small voice in the back of my head tried to tell me on date number one.

Whatever a person does on the first date, multiply it by 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the relationship

I recently read a blog post that started with: Years ago, when I first started in HR, I remember my boss warning me, "Whatever a candidate does in the job interview, multiply it 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the job."

It occurred to me the same could be said of a first date - whatever a person does on the first date, multiply it by 10X and that's what you'll get 90 days into the relationship How many times have you picked up on something small that bothered you or was seemingly a yellow flag on the first date....only to have it became super evident that it was a big red flat within the first three months of dating!?  Looking back, I could almost predict why a relationship wouldn't work without giving it a full three months because that small voice in the back of my head tried to tell me on date number one.

Three Types of First Dates

There are three types of first dates:

"The Dud" Date:  When you walk in and immediately realize this is not a person that you want to hang out with again. Be it human chemistry or an innate instinct, you begin eye-ing up the nearest escape before you can say 'My cat is sick!'

The "I'm Just Not that Into You" Date:  The other person seems nice and has qualities that you are looking for but something just isn't clicking.  You find yourself not feeling the need to bring your A-game, and ultimately, you just aren't that into them.

The "Wow, Cool" Date: When the conversation is flowing and the laughs are natural and at one point you look at the other person and think "Wow, this is cool"...and then cross your mental fingers that they are thinking the same thing!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Post-Sickness Gratitude

I love the feeling when you start feeling better after being sick for a while and you relish every 'normal feeling' moment.  The moments that you take for granted every other day of the year all of the sudden become cherished moments of gratitude that your nose/ears/throat/chest/belly no longer hurt.  I hope that I can carry that level of gratitude with me for the rest of the year!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

'Did Good Enough'

I wish I was one of those glamorous sick people who can take stunning selfies while in sweats.  But I'm not. I'm writing this blog post with a temperature, bad hair and a tissue stuck to my nose.

While home sick, my cleaning lady came and I asked her why my bill went up about 20%. She said she raised prices for the first time in two years. I explained it was a bit of a shock since no one's paychecks are going up 20% over two years but I could tell that she needed the increase and she said it was across the board for all customers.

However, during this she was acting like I was getting upset. Now, I have been known to occasionally get upset at vendors who were illogical or unhelpful in resolving an issue. But I was sure I was not getting upset.  I told her everything was fine and I would adjust my budget accordingly, but then I immediately wanted to seek validation that I wasn't getting upset, instead of just saying - she raised prices 20% on her invoice without giving a heads up and caught me off gaurd. 

Why do I always judge myself as 'could have done better' instead of 'did good enough'? Although I thought I was calm, even if she did not, it doesn't really matter. I did the best I could. You know for yourself when you could have done better and when you did good enough.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Hope in Not Having Hope

I can't remember being this stressed since the actual divorce happened.  It even caused some type of weird heart episode!  (diagnosed by my father as a 10 second pre-beat).  When things really pile on and you are stretched to your limit, you have on choice but to take it day by day. I wake up each morning and think about the day ahead and think 'ok, I can handle this'.  But as soon as I think about tomorrow or any time past that, I get very overwhelmed!

My brain seems to have partially shut down, the drama with my momma and then with Grace's father on top of the cancelled dates - it was too much at one time and at some point I felt my brain say 'that's enough!' and it shut down and said 'you need to simplify and you can't process this all at once' (what a wise brain!)

So I'm taking it day by day, and I'm not panicking when feelings ebb and flow because those will pass and time will move on.  This is the first time I really don't have a vision of what's to come - but maybe that is the hopeful part - the hope of not having specific hopes hung up on an expectant future.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Guideposts for 2015

"In the end only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully  you let go of things not meant for you." - Buddha

In 2015 I want to:
  • Take care of myself (this obviously includes Grace and our dog)
  • Build more resiliency and not judge or fight against what I feel
  • Own my own power and energy and not give it away to those who are undeserving
  • Nurture my creativity and compassion and see where they take me...
  • Be kind t myself
  • Forgive myself constantly
  • Walk away with others are not kind to me
  • Meditate
  • Breathe
  • Keep my heart open while keeping my guard smart
What will I do in 2015?
  • Wash my face before bed (ok, sometimes I'm sooo tired I just put on jammies and fall asleep but you only get your skin once and this is part of taking care of myself)
  • Read
  • Take baths
  • Exercise!  Somehow that fell off the radar last year
  • Meditate
  • Draw a line when someone is not acting ok faster and walk away when needed
  • Always express gratitude
  • Never settle for less than I deserve
  • Don't panic!
 "Change the changeable. Accept the unchangeable.  And remove yourself from the unacceptable." - Denis Waitley