The Best Advice I Can Give All My Single Friends

“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?”
– Charlotte, Sex and the City

Ever since I was a little girl, I had imagined myself married with at least one child by now. This is definitely not my reality. Although my parents chose to have me a little later in life, they married in their twenties. My twenties were spent being optimistically cautious through college while dating a cornucopia of guys who were totally wrong for me.

Back then, finding a guy to date was the easiest thing I did. What I didn’t understand was that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of this dating party, I needed to find someone who was actually compatible with me. At the time, I think I was just looking for someone attractive to be my date for sorority functions. But time and time again, I found that their attractiveness didn’t get them very far. I would fixate on someone and then convince myself that we should be together. Then, when their third eye would appear, I put on my track shoes and bolted for the door.

It wasn’t until my thirties that I began to see I was doing this all wrong. I was laid off from MCI WorldCom, had split from ex-fiancé number 4, and was about to move to Charlotte for the first job opportunity in my field that had come up since the layoffs. The night before my big move, I was out with my friends celebrating and met someone. We dated 3.5 years even though we lived in different cities for at least a year and a half. I was crazy about him. He was charming and handsome, but he never actually saw me. As a result of being charming and handsome, he never saw anyone else for anything more than their outward appearance. When I moved home, he started to become more dominant. We fought a lot. The relationship revolved around what he wanted. He started belittling me to make himself feel larger. I ended it, thinking I’d get better results. I thought that if he lost me, he’d appreciate me more. Instead, he used the opportunity to start dating other women. A few days after our split, I ran into him… on a date. I was crushed, but eventually got over it.

At that point, the general atmosphere of dating shifted. People were dating online . This added instant gratification to the act of dating. People started not to appreciate one another. Everyone was replaceable. Pictures held a higher importance than text. No one cared what was on the inside if all your angles were flattering. Everything was superficial.

I spent years getting lost in the online dating quagmire. Then I did the best thing I could possibly have done for myself. I adopted a dog.

In this digital age, where we all swipe right to get what we want, unconditional love is a precious commodity. When you adopt a dog, you gain what most dating relationships lack. Respect, comfort and unconditional love. When I adopted Quincy, my focus shifted more toward taking care of myself, him, my parents, and my house. I didn’t need to be with anyone. I was fine all by myself. I found myself turning down dates and other social events based on this scale: If I would rather be home with my dog, my RSVP is No.

Quincy gave me back everything I’d wasted on the guys who didn’t deserve me. He’s always there for me. He makes me laugh. And he’s far and away the best at snuggling. Instead of focusing on the next guy to come along, I put my effort into my friendships, my house and my hobbies. I decided that if I were to spend another minute with a guy, he needed to add to my life, not complicate it or hold me back.

So my advice is this:

If you’re single and frustrated because so far dating has shown you all of what you don’t want and none of what you do… adopt a pet. It will change your perspective in brilliant ways. Treasure your alone time, because if you don’t like spending time with yourself, no one else will either.

 

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MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

I’ve mentioned a few times my new found affinity for audio books. So far I’ve stayed in the genres of motivation/self-help and autobiography. I’ve discovered that I’m really not a big fan of fiction. I enjoy good storytelling, but I like it more if it’s plausible. I think that’s why I just can’t wrap my brain around all that Game of Thrones and Walking Dead nonsense. The people are so dirty and the subject matter is so violent. I like characters, but I enjoy even more if they’re actually real. What ever happened to real life heroes?

In the past few months I’ve powered through the autobiographies of Neil Patrick Harris, George Watsky, Sara Bareilles, and Amy Poehler. (Yes, I realize what an eclectic mix this is.) I was shocked at myself for not being able to get through Tina Fey‘s autobiography as easily (it’s still waiting), but these were enjoyable for a myriad of different reasons. NPH is a brilliant storyteller, but the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format proved a bit confusing for an audiobook, even though the content was entertaining. I enjoyed hearing Watsky’s winding tales of the road and everything in between. I’ve seen Watsky live twice and met him in person once. He seems like a complicated guy and a tad difficult to get to know. Reading his memoir gave me a lot of insight and a few laughs.

The Sara Bareilles memoir was a hidden gem. She sings at the beginning of each chapter and tells stories with such aplomb that you will find yourself laughing one minute and in tears the next. It’s clear that she appreciates her fans and that she’s one of those rare artists that simply doesn’t take anything for granted. ALSO if you’re patient enough to wait through all the ending credits, there are absolutely priceless bloopers and outtakes that leave you laughing… and wanting her in your circle of friends.

But my favorite was Amy Poehler. She’s humble and adorable and she makes no qualms of telling you her shortcomings in a way that will tell you she’s actually just like you. She talks about her love/hate relationship with her cell phone, her pregnancy (and its bad timing with the Jon Hamm SNL episode), the upright citizens brigade, learning to take responsibility for her actions and apologies, SNL, Tina, Seth, her divorce, Parks & Recreation, and the TSA agent who located her laptop when she thought this book might never be published (and she attached her pic in the PDF). I enjoyed every one of her stories, and the celebrity cameos (I’m looking at you Kathleen Turner). It’s obvious that she has a lot of friends in the business who would do anything for her. And that’s saying something.

The next book I had decided to read is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’d chosen the audio book because the paperback was sent to me in a subscription box I receive monthly for Female Entrepreneurs. The reviews by other group members looked promising, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

DEAR LORD NO! THAT WOMAN IS CRAZY! I’m only on Chapter 3 and I feel like she’s attempting to indoctrinate me with some crazy hippy commune thinking. She says that one person can have a big idea and transmit that same idea to another person simply by touch. We are just conduits for ideas as if they just whiz about looking for someone to enact them. If we aren’t ready for a big idea, if it isn’t the idea’s time, it will move on and find another conduit… or possibly come back to us when we’re ready. WHAT?!?!?

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Yep, she’s nuts. I may be returning that title for some new hotness.

Can Jen Sincero write another book? I gobbled up the first two at warp speed. Maybe I’ll re-read them… because they were BADASS.

 

 

 

Happiness & the Pursuit Thereof

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about happiness lately, yet I’m perfectly happy. I have great friends and I’m finally starting to make a dent in my super-huge “to do” list (which is giving me a much-needed feeling of satisfaction). As much as I’m loathe to admit, I’m a born list-maker, so I do a tiny internal “happy dance” each time I get to check something off.

In my Facebook memories today I ran across an article I’d shared from a blog which mentioned The Happiness Project. Basically, Gretchen Rubin, then a writer at Slate.com, began chronicling her year-long journey toward happiness. It became a best-selling book, which turned into a phenomenon. Now she’s published a few more on the subject (as well as a few on completely different subjects). Happiness is indeed a much sought-after commodity.

Much like happiness, freedom has been a focus lately. It feels AMAZING to be unapologetically me. I answer to myself and that’s it. I have wise friends and if I want their advice or help, I know I can seek it, but I enjoy the feeling of not being confined by the rules or expectations of another. As if by telepathy, this appeared in my Inbox this morning. It’s an article about freedom in love relationships. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me.

if-you-love-something-set-it-free

Now I actually understand what that means.

In the years that followed the viral success of The Happiness Project, there were a number of people posting the results of their own Happiness Projects to social media. Every one is different. Each person has different things that create their own brand of happiness. No two results are the same. I challenge you all to go out and begin your own Happiness Projects. I know it’s March, so we’re a little late to the party for New Year resolutions, but here is a tiny excerpt from the book to start you in the right direction.

And a list, because I love lists.

Don’t Be Like Dave

I think this audio-book habit is actually doing me quite a bit of good. I read funny stuff when I want to be entertained and I read motivational stuff when I need a little push toward getting my act together. I’d had “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero in my wish list for a little while now. I’d heard of it when it was advertised in my Target Cartwheel coupon app (which I thought was a strange way to advertise) but the title stuck in my head and since it was read by the author, I wanted to read it. I find that the books lack a certain something when they aren’t read by the person who poured years of their life into creating them.

The narrator sounds a lot like a friend of mine who I look up to. We went to high school together and I always thought she was a lot cooler than me. When we reconnected in later life she was dating, then married the lead-guitarist and my co-lead male vocalist in my band. Even though I know they aren’t the same person, as I listen to the narration, I picture Jennifer speaking to me and it’s kinda cool that way. Instant co-pilot!

I was deep into “The Urban Monk” by Pedram Shojai when Audible sent me the message that I was able to use my February credits, so I eagerly put that project on hold. Although that book has TONS of useful information, it was starting to make me feel bad about myself for eating gluten, not exercising enough, not connecting to the earth more, not finding time to meditate, watching too much TV, believing in Western Medicine… basically everything that just about everyone in the USA does. He brought up excellent points about how the way things were processed now and the overuse of chemicals & pesticides were the main contributors to the rise of Autism & gluten sensitivities. I get it. I get the whole living simpler thing… but BABY STEPS MAN! Going through that book was like reading the gourmet cookbook with all the ingredients you’ve never heard of utilizing pans you don’t even own, instead of the normal one with ingredients readily available at any store utilizing pans you already own.

So I switched up my cookbook.

It didn’t even strike me that the book I was reading to de-stress and simplify was actually stressing me out until I was lying on the massage table the other night. My masseur usually has no problem getting me to relax, but this time I could feel that I wasn’t exhaling normally. My muscles were tense. I really had to concentrate to breathe and relax my muscles. It wasn’t until the end of the session that I actually felt like I’d relaxed enough. And then I had to rush home to make a huge batch of chocolate-covered strawberries. I’d originally conspired with my boss to make them as a Valentine gift for his wife, but when Bryan asked if I had plans, I told him to bring a container for his girlfriend and come assist (knowing full-well that I would be doing all the work and he would simply be collecting strawberries at the end) He offered to bring me dinner in exchange, but forgot, so I made another batch of strawberries after he left, ate 2 and went to bed. Par for the course.

The next day I started “You are a Badass.” It’s pretty much the culmination of every useful mantra I’ve wanted to remember since day 1 all outlined into tidy bullet points. Each chapter begins with a quote. She discusses the pitfalls of comparison and how you should never compare yourself to others, which is total common sense. Everyone says it, even if they don’t practice it themselves. It made me think of Dave Mustaine. One of my favorite parts of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson was the chapter where he recounts the story of Dave getting kicked out of Metallica, then going on to form Megadeth, but he’s still so bitter from being kicked out of Metallica and watching their meteoric rise to fame that even though his own band is enjoying success in their own right, he can’t appreciate it because he’s so consumed with spending his entire existence trying to keep up with Metallica. That’s like not being able to appreciate peanut butter because it isn’t chocolate.

She talks about mastering your inner dialogue and how you take in, filter and use the information you’re given in any situation. She talks about how so many people let fear control their decisions. And how it’s scary to be uncomfortable, but that it’s a necessary part of growth and change.

I want to read this over and over and take notes. I want to make a vision board. (Of course, in the current state of my house, I have no idea where this board would actually fit, but I’ll figure it out.) I’m liking where this is going.

Just Keep Swimming

I understand now the importance of a good nap. It’s only Thursday and I’ve crammed so many appointments into this week that I’m about to fall over. I’m still having the dizzy spells too, which makes each day seem like a slow crawl through quicksand at times.

At the end of last year I subscribed to the Audible service so that I could get more reading done. Although I feel like tend to absorb more of a book when I am able to see the words in front of me, this is such a great service for getting in some much-needed reading while doing everything else. My first book was recommended to me by a friend who told me I was the “poster child for karma & all the good feelings”. She said that after reading it she felt like she was wearing an invisible cape when she left the house. I wanted to feel like that, so it was the first book I downloaded. It’s called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

With everything going on, I hadn’t even thought of digging into this book until a few days ago on a long commute. This morning I set my plan in motion. I’m loving this new plan. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is E + P = O (Experience + Perception = Outcome) It also occurred to me that I hadn’t been driving my own bus for a while. I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I’d lost sight of my goals. I lacked direction and my enthusiasm was nonexistent. For months I had resigned myself to doing what my boyfriend wanted. It was difficult to make him happy because he seemed to need constant attention and reassurance. I was drained. By the time I ended it, I was empty.

The timing of this book couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a jump-start to get me back on track. The more I keep my eyes open, the more little things happen to reinforce the message. A co-worker took a trip with his wife over the holidays. He recounted with glee all the things they did. “We wanted to do everything we wanted while we still can.” I get it. Each year that passes, each doctor visit, each new medical dilemma… I am reminded of my own mortality. There are so many things I want from this life. I just need to manifest them.

As for the rest… I’ll just keep swimming.