The Art of Letting Go

Nothing will sabotage the present more than a preconceived notion of what your future should look like.

This is exactly what torpedoed my last relationship. He was still holding onto the idea of the future he’d created in his mind with his most recent ex wife. This revolved around the big house out in the middle of nowhere that was purchased in order to create a comfortable life for 5. It didn’t hit him until after he began the process of selling and moving that he was still living in the past. The wife left, one kid had been at an out-of-state school for a few years, one graduated high school this year, so he was left with 2 people, a lot of space, a lot of house, and a lot of memories.

Attempting not to make the same mistakes again, he held himself back from any sort of emotional connection or growth. I kept going as if everything was normal until I couldn’t.

Mistakes aren’t all bad if we can learn from them, and luckily, I was in the position to learn from his as well as my own. It was as if a light switched on in my brain. Just like that, I decided to let go of any and all preconceived notions I had about my future and just started LIVING. Sure I’ve led quite an interesting and exciting life thus far, but there were a few ideals in my subconscious that I still clung to. I’d wanted kids. I’d wanted to be married. And even though I watched a lot of my friends suffer through a failed marriage or 3, I still found myself seeking out the big endgame, sometimes in spite of where the relationship should have gone. Too many times I used the power of sheer will to make things work long after they should have ended. I saw things in people that simply weren’t there. And this led to mistake after mistake.

The square peg will never fit the round hole.

I never knew what it truly felt like to JUST LET GO. And now, there are still some times that I have to quiet the inner voice that reminds me of what I thought my own life would look like when I got to this point. But they are fewer and farther between.

A few weeks passed and I started talking to a guy I’d met who lived 3-hours away. Although the sparks flew when we met, we attempted to ignore them because of the distance.

Now he’s my boyfriend. And I couldn’t be happier. We’ve made vacation plans through September, and that’s the only future I see. No preconceived notions. Just fun. Every 3 or 4 days, he drives here to see me… because we can’t stay away from each other any longer than that. It’s a feeling I’ve missed. When you’re no longer forcing or trying to control things, the best things can happen. They just need the space to do so.

We’re taking my dog to the beach in August because he’s never seen the waves and sand. I honestly just wanted to see his reaction, but I know that whatever happens, I’ll love every minute.

It’s a great place to be… in the moment. And it’s something that has always seemed so simple, yet has always eluded me.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I can tell you one thing… I’m going to enjoy every moment that I’m given. That’s a promise.

Our first weekend together. He didn’t flinch when I said “Let’s do mud masks!”
Even my dog loves him
Advertisements

Undelivered

Years ago Alanis Morissette penned a song called “Unsent.” It was a musical nod to a handful of her ex-boyfriends, based on the premise that if she could say anything she wanted to them, what would it be? I related to it then just as much as I relate to it now.

When a relationship ends, no one ever really gets the last word… and why would they want to? But sometimes, after the smoke has cleared and the ashes have settled you’re left with a few things you’d like to say, but never will.

For instance, I saw that fool who broke things off by sending me a photo of the belongings I’d left behind last night. I was with my best friend and the guy I’m seeing at a concert. He was across the room. I’m sure if he saw me, he probably beat feet out of there as fast as his legs could carry him.

If I could say anything to him, it would probably go something like this:

You didn’t break me.

Despite your best efforts to the contrary, I’m fine… great in fact.

I did see you last night at the Dorothy concert. You were alone without a drink in your hand. I was most surprised by the latter.

I may never know the real reason behind what happened, but each day I care less and less. Just as you threw me away, you too will soon be erased from my memory and none of this will matter.

But most of all I’m grateful that you ended things the way you did. It was awful and you were a complete dick, but I’m glad I got to see it earlier rather than later. You did me a favor. If you hadn’t, I might still be there… fooling myself.

I hope you do resolve whatever internal struggle caused you to blindside me that day, not because I have any interest in what happens to you, but because everyone deserves to be happy.

I’ve written my fair share of letters to people who didn’t appreciate them. At the time, I thought all those things needed to be said. I was probably dead wrong about that, but I did it anyway.

I once wrote a poem and left it on a guy’s car in an effort to woo him back after he broke up with me. I have no idea what happened to that guy… or the poem for that matter. At the time I thought I was a GENIUS!

I’ve also had poems written for me. I can remember this one stanza verbatim:

You’re beautiful, you’re funny.
You make every day bright and sunny.

It was terrible. And I’m pretty sure I made fun of it with my friends. I was kind of an asshole. Of course, this didn’t make his writing any less terrible.

Skylar Grey wrote a song called “Words.” It’s an open letter to her grandfather who passed away before she could say goodbye. If you get the chance, give it a listen. It’s one of the most beautifully-written songs I’ve ever heard.

I’m fortunate to still have both parents, but this song makes me think of a few things I want to tell them before it’s too late.

Mom & Dad,

Words cannot express how much I love you and how grateful I am to be loved by you. You put everything you were into raising me and I need you to know that your efforts have never gone unnoticed.

I’m your child… equal parts of both. I got it all, the good, the bad… everything. You taught me to be honest and fair… the difference between right and wrong… I inherited your even temperament and charisma. You gave me the courage to start over time and time again. You were always there to pick me up whenever I fell and most of all, you taught me how to love because you provided an environment where there was so much of it.

I know I’ve leaned on you more than I probably should, but one day you’ll see that I can take care of myself as well as you’ve taken care of me. As scary as it is, I’m finally growing up.

Thank you Mom, for marrying such a good man. He’s raised the bar so high that I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who can compare.

And Mom, you lived vicariously through me. You always wanted me to have the best of everything, even it required sacrifice. You wanted me to have everything you didn’t. Your love was selfless and unconditional. I’ve learned a lot from you.

We’ve surprised each other, disappointed each other, laughed with each other and were always there for each other. But most of all, I just wanted to make you proud.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. I’m grateful for each day I get to have you in my life, even if I don’t always show it. I get carried away with the daily minutia and don’t tell you these things enough. We all do. That’s why I wanted to take this moment to thank you. I hope you’re as proud of the person I’ve become as I am to be your daughter.

I love you,

Ann

525,600 Minutes

A lot can happen in a year. It’s funny to think that I started off the year recovering from a relationship that made me feel like a prisoner. I took the necessary time to put it behind me, then made 2017 my Year Of Yes. I spent most of my time doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I went to a TON of concerts. I hired a contractor to transform my house into a place I could thrive in, instead of the place where I keep all my stuff. I spent time with so many friends, made new ones and caught up with old ones.

IMG_8021[1]
I opened myself up to the thought of another actual romantic relationship, which was a terrible idea, but I’m only wiser as a result. I fielded crazy texts from crazy boys, but they were well outnumbered by the pleasant interactions. I graduated from the Citizen’s Police Academy. I said “YES” to a musical project that my guitarist from Cherry (a band I formed in 2008 that had a successful 4.5 year run before I went to esthetician school) put together for the purpose of playing a HUGE venue with Biz Markie the day after Thanksgiving. Now we’re playing again and have someone opening FOR US! For our second show ever, this is monumental. Especially since our opening act is the talented Chris Hendricks, currently of Castle Wild.

Sure, this year had a lot of ups and downs. Without them what would life be?

If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t have hired a matchmaker. When it comes down to it, no one knows you as well as you do. Expecting someone to be able to find a match for you based only on information you provide is illogical. We all put our “best selves” out there when we are trying to get selected for anything in life. The guys my matchmaker selected had done just that. She had found them in a database based on my criteria. They were the best in the bunch in her opinion. (Of course, it’s also possible that they were the only guys within a 50-mile radius of me as well.)

I could have done the same thing myself. There are plenty of apps bursting with people looking for “Mrs. Right,” but most are looking for enough “Miss Right Nows” to fill the gaps in their schedule. It takes time and effort to actually get to know someone. Eventually, they will show you everything. It’s just a matter of whether or not you choose to stick around for the whole show. Sometimes you see enough in the previews to know that the movie will be a complete flop.

“Show me your crazy, so I can avoid it”
– Me

I’m also learning a lot about the home renovation process. (I painted my cabinets TWICE before I saw that Lowe’s carries paint specifically for cabinet refinishing… Duh) I hired and fired some excellent (albeit overpriced) lawn people. I also purchased a lawnmower. (It’s still in the box because my shed is full of contractor tools) The whole process has made me feel more in control of my surroundings, even though there were certainly parts of the process that no one seemed to have control over. At least I’m ending the year on my own terms with a clear idea of how I want this project to be completed. Yes, it’s been ongoing since May. No, I haven’t killed anyone yet, but I’ve gotten more than a handful of people fired.

I choose to end this year on a high note. Looking back, was 2017 everything I wanted it to be? Yes, except for a few minor hiccups, it absolutely was. I’m a little older, a LOT wiser, and perhaps a little worse for the wear… but I made some amazing memories with the people I care most about in this world. That part, I’m going to keep. And to be honest, I think I’ll continue this “Year of Yes” thing (with discretion) right through 2018 as well. I did, in fact, get a late start this year after all.

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.

 

Trial & Error

I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles wondering how my date went. Right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

That particular date, and the few that followed have gone extremely well. We met for drinks last Friday, talked non-stop, had dinner and drinks that Sunday, he cooked me a HelloFresh dinner on Wednesday, we went to the Greek Festival on Friday and we played with Baby goats at a local farm and tasted mead on Sunday. He’s very pleasant company… and extremely interesting. However, I’m just not that into him. 😦

Side Note: I read that book a long time ago when “ghosting” first became the norm. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I needed a book to help me crack the guy code. If they were any more transparent, they’d be windows.

Looking back on the lists I gave my matchmaker (the list of desirable qualities and the list of deal-breakers) I can totally understand why this guy was selected. He’s done some stuff. He’s lived. And he’s a RockStar at his very interesting and technical job (Drone Scientist). At 39, he’s been married, lived all over the country, has 3 kids, was a “Boylesque” (think male burlesque) dancer, a roller derby racer (evidently they let guys do that too in some places), does Crossfit and is excited about his upcoming participation in the Spartan Race. This seems to only be the tip of the iceberg. When I told her I wanted to meet someone “Interesting,” she hit the nail on the head.

Problem is, I’m starting to wonder how much of this crazy narrative is actually true.

Of course there’s more. I only find myself physically attracted to him after I’ve had a few cocktails. This is probably the biggest issue. And although I owe him nothing, I feel awful about it. While he sends me texts saying “I think you are amazing” I’m on the other end, full of doubt and fear.

Last night I told him he was sweet, because he is. This was his response, “Sweet is good… but what about sexy?” I froze. For a second I thought about what I found sexy… what people I found sexy and why. It occurred to me that when a guy referred to me as sexy, he clearly wanted to have sex with me. I was so far away from that thought, I had no idea how to respond.

I had a panic attack the day we’d planned to go to the Greek Festival. I felt suffocated and couldn’t slow my heartbeat no matter how I tried. But I let him pick me up regardless, because he was so excited to go.

I noticed that after I got in the car, when I said anything, he would either try to finish my sentences or talk over me. It was like he was so nervous around me that he needed Ritalin. It was exhausting and I’d already had a tiring week. I tried to explain what was going on in my head, but all that came out was, “Sometimes, you’re a bit much.” I immediately beat myself up internally for being such a bitch.

He sends me a thank you text after every date and wants to spend more time with me than I have. It isn’t long after one date ends that he starts asking for another. Then the panic sets in. It struck me that if I was as enthusiastic about him as he was about me, this wouldn’t be problematic.

It hasn’t been long, but after the first weekend, I began to question myself. I think it’s important when you’re uncomfortable in any situation to ask yourself why… and what you can do about it.

That first weekend, he texted me NON-STOP… so much so that everything I did was interrupted, if not spoiled by the constant messaging. I started to feel the walls closing in. By that Monday, I didn’t want to be around people at all. I told him “the constant texting is problematic.” He slowed it to a crawl. It was a few days before I felt comforable again.

I couldn’t sleep last night and today I’m having another panic attack. I’m finally hearing what my body is telling me. It always sucks when you know you’re going to hurt someone, but it’s always better to rip off the band-aid quickly and just be honest. Even though the message is unpleasant, the receiver will respect you more for being forthcoming.

In this process I asked myself the toughest question of all, “Is it me?” “Is there something wrong with me?” I’m sure the list is long, but most likely a lot shorter than most. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with me, and I think that’s the crux of it. I don’t need a guy. If I meet someone who complements or adds to my life, THAT‘s when I’ll know it’s right. It’s not selfish to do what you need to do for yourself.

So I will.

(to be continued)

To Match or Not to Match

Tonight is the night I’ll be meeting my very first matchmaker match. Since I’ve had fantastic luck plucking every clingy, needy, insecure man child out from under his current rock and ZERO finding what I actually need, I’m curious to see what my matchmaker has in store. A wise person once told me that you know exactly what your friends think of you judging by the people they choose to set you up with. I think there’s a reason those closest to me have never attempted a set-up. We’re all of the same mindset. We’re not fans of failure and we’ve seen each other through way too many heartbreaks to trust that anyone will be good enough.

To the contrary, I’ve had MANY acquaintances attempt to set me up with criminals, braggarts, misogynists, damaged co-dependents, and assorted ambition-less man-children.

Funny side-note: I did have one person actually try to set me up with Edwin McCain. Although I’ve never met him, I’m sure he’s quite lovely. At the time, I just didn’t trust my acquaintance to have my best interests at heart and thought perhaps she was lying. 

And because I’m cursed, it is Seattle-raining and chilly, which negates all previous wardrobe choices. I had a makeup job this morning at 6AM for Fox Business, so I’m abnormally sleep-deprived and jacked up on Starbucks. I’m also wearing FIVE different eye creams layered on top of each other. Even my eye cream is wearing eye cream. The guest this morning was male, so I had my male makeup kit with me. (It’s MUCH smaller than the female one.) The skin care products in this kit are standouts from the Kiehl’s Men’s line. (I keep a de-puffer and caffeinated eye cream handy because men usually don’t know the difference AND NEED IT.) I’m surprised to say that my fifth eye cream layer is the MEN’s eye cream and there’s a good chance it works better than the rest. (Yes, Kiehl’s, I’d like my commission check now please.)

As usual, work is starting to pick up, but I got in early and pony-tailed since I’m waiting to date-shower when I leave work early. (Yes, a date shower is a thing.) I’ll lather up with a few layers of anti-frizz, a light spritz of smell-good and be out the door before I know it.

Fingers-crossed that he’s not Jabba the Hutt and Catfishing us all.

 

Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

IMG_6543[1]