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What Dating a Good Man Teaches you

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 but ended up going on my fist date 3 months before my birthday. This was because the guy was moving out of state and my parents reluctantly allowed me to go. I am 42 now and have never been married. That’s a lot of dating. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of relationships. And I have learned a lot over the years.

My current boyfriend is amazing.  He doesn’t play games. He actually puts forth the effort and tells me, on a daily basis, that I am beautiful and amazing and totally worth it. I am thriving under the light of his wonderful attention and affection.  I wonder how I forgot that this is what dating is supposed to be, that this is how I am supposed to be treated? My current relationship is teaching me things that I didn’t realize I had forgotten. Like how I should be treated.

Somewhere along the way, dating became more of a game than a pleasure.  It seems that it’s about getting all that you can, when you can, while putting forth as little effort as you can.  When we women have men with this attitude from which to choose, we get discouraged by the lack of options and try to choose the lessor of many evils.

Ladies, Steve Harvey has it right – when a man really wants you, there will be no question. I think back to all those guys that used to drive me crazy making me wonder if they were really interested. Or that I was doing something wrong. Maybe that was the reason why they weren’t calling like they said they would, or didn’t seem interested, or would make an ambiguous date, then never follow through.

Stop wondering. Because if you have to wonder if he is interested, then the answer is No.  It doesn’t matter if you call or text him.  If he wanted to be with you, he would have already set up the date.

Easier said than done, right?  Because we are taught that if we have these high expectations, then we are demanding, and bitchy, and manipulative. No, we just know our worth.

I have had men who would text me (first of all, call the woman) and ask me to go out lunch that day…when I would accept and ask where…they wouldn’t respond. Until a few weeks later when it’s the same thing all over again. No, he didn’t get too busy, his phone didn’t break, he wasn’t sucked into a vortex where no communication was possible.  He just wasn’t really interested. So why text at all?  Who knows.  Maybe he wanted to keep that door open, or wanted an ego boost. He definitely didn’t want to go to lunch.

The guy I dated before my current boyfriend actually made me feel guilty if I even thought about asking him to help me with anything – He was healing from a woman who used him 3 years ago, so he couldn’t do anything for me.  I made the mistake of saying he could use my boat anytime he wanted if he would let me use his truck to pull my boat to the marina. I was promptly accused of making my boat and all maintenance his responsibility. If a man in interested in you, there will no excuses or strange accusations. If a man is interested, he will want to spend time with you, and he will care enough to help out when you need it.

My current boyfriend is amazing.  He sees projects that I cannot do myself, and he fixes them. I don’t even have to ask.  He just rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned the carpets in my house because my family is coming to visit.  And because he said I “should live in pretty.” Wow, what a difference.

I have dated men who refused to introduce me to any friends and family, while telling me how much they liked and cared for me.  My current boyfriend has introduced me to all of his friends and family. Because he wants me in his life, because he wants me to see from who and where comes. And he is interested in meeting my friends and family too. He wants to know my people. And a man who is truly  interested in you, will want to know your world and your people too.

There was a man who made a date on Easter with me….and was a no show.  Contacted me a few weeks later like everything was fine.  Then there are the guys who just wanted me to “come over and hang out”, but were never willing to drive to see me, or take me out.  Stay away from them, they are lazy and place no value on you or your time.

I think back on all the times I questioned if I was doing something wrong?  Women are taught that if you keep getting disappointed in dating, you are the one common factor.  So take a look in the mirror and find your fault. Well, it wasn’t me, it was them. Mostly. The only thing I wasn’t doing, in my worn and weary and discourage mindset, was remembering my worth. Because I didn’t want to seem demanding, or high maintenance, or bitchy, or unreasonable.

The man I am with now, expects me to know my worth, because he sees it every time he looks at me. And he makes sure I know how lucky he feels. And I am lucky too. Because finally, here is a man who sees what I didn’t see in myself for a long time. Dating a good man has reminded me that first and foremost, I am worth it.

Every day I am so very grateful that this wonderful man found his way into my life.

Because I am demanding, and high maintenance and bitchy and unreasonable…But only to those men who are not interested enough to do anything but put forth the least amount of effort possible.

And that is what dating a good man can teach you.

The Lesson of Driving

I have been given the task of teaching my nephew how to drive.  Well actually, his grandmother (my Mom) taught him the basics, I just have to make sure he has expereince in traffic so he can get his liscense and not wreck when he starts driving. Sounds simple.

I am not sure how my parents managed to teach us how to drive and still have a liver left. My nephew has done very well, and yet by the time the lesson is over, the only thing I want to do is go to the liquer cabinet and pour something straight, forget the rocks.

Maybe it’s because it’s my new car that is being driven. Maybe because it’s my car. Maybe because I am old and drive like an old person. Maybe because I understand just how fragile life is and how in a second everything can change.  Maybe I need to drink before the driving lesson. But being the driving instructor scares the crap out of me.

The key to being a good and successful driving instructor is to let ever let the student know that you are scared. And no yelling. Ever. The last thing my nephew, or any young person learning to drive, needs is to hear me yelling “STOP!!’ or “TURN Here Now!!” The poor kind would have a heart attack and kill us both. I have found that a calm instructor makes a calm student.  And most of the time it is fine, as he is very good student. But in those moments when he does what all young drivers do…I take a deep breath, find something to hold onto, press my foot hard against the floor (like that makes him press the breaks faster??) close my eyes and say nothing. When we get home, that is the time to tell him, that the proper way to handle that next time.

I have to say that I am proud of him, driving now. We drove last night at dusk, in the rain, with quite a bit of traffic. He did good.

So we drive around the neighborhood. We go to the grocerystore and the post office. We drive to d whatever arrends need to be done. And at the end, he learns to drive, I enjoy and nice tall one and we both have a sense that we have accomplished something.

and that is what is important.

The Fog Has Lifted

It settled down like an unwelcome uninvited fog. It started about three weeks ago and stayed, thick, heavy tangible and low.  It felt awful. It left a residue. And now, slowly, it has lifted, leaving behind clear skies and fresh air. It was a bit of a funk. And everyone goes through the funk a bit, even when we have the best or most perfect lives.

In reality, there is no reason to be blue – my father is doing much better, my sister has a great job, my nephew is going back to school in a few weeks, I have a new car that I love, a wonderful man I am dating, I have wonderful friends and life, in general, is good.

But I was sluggish, just wanted to sleep, I even cried quite a bit. I just felt…Bleh.

And sometimes that’s how it goes. Even happy people get the blues sometimes. Even those, who seem to have everything in order have bad days…even bad weeks.

So how do you get out of the Bleh’s? I don’t rightly know. Some people get super social, some get super introverted and just want to be left alone. Some people throw themselves into work, others go hiking, biking, workout, work in a shop, go shopping or just drink. What do I do? A combination. Sometimes I like to be left alone, take a quiet walk. Sometimes I want to be around my friends and enjoy their stories and laughter. Other times I want to just put my head down and work, sometimes I have a drink (or three) and sometimes I want to be held.

All of this has helped me get out of Blahville. These things a long with a new experience. I worked in a workshop this past weekend with the man I am dating. We built shelves for his home. We went and got the wood, then I watched as he methodically measured and cut the pieces with the saws and power tools. I helped as much as I could, but I was entranced by the method of creating something out of noting but a few pieces of wood. After helping him, I was assigned my tasks – to sand and to stain.

So I took the sander as I was instructed, and I concentrated on nothing else but the wood, the sanding, feeling of the machine in my hands and the texture. It was slow, purposeful and planned. Then there was the staining. I had never stained before. So the trick is to get all the stain on evenly…with no finger prints or darker stains. That may not sound like a big deal, but to a clumsy Pinktank like me…it can be a bit of a challenge. Actually, I am not sure which I am most proud of – the fact that i did a great stain job, or the fact that I managed to NOT trip, fall, stumble, foible, wobble, dribble, drop, spill or break anything in the shop. That in itself took great effort and concentration.

But I great stain job I did accomplish. And as I was staining, it came to me, that in everything there is a methods, there is a process and we must be patient and allow life to takes it’s time, dry and develop. And it came to me also, that I am in this place in life. I am used to running, doing, working and accomplishing. Now is the time to let the methods of life unfold. To let the processes take place. And to just let it happen as it will.

It is amazing how much stress and pressure that can take off a person.

You have to have patience. Work hard, play hard, love hard. But know when to take a step back and let life unfold on its own.

Yes, I am a Mother

I was asked one question several times while I was traveling over the Mother’s Day weekend to see my best friend’s wedding – Are you a mother? I instinctively said no I don’t. I don’t have any children so this seemed like the most honest answer. Most smiled and wished me a happy Mother’s Day anyway.   Then one person asked me if I was a mother, and I said no, but I do have a sister and nephew who are living with me. She smiled and said, “Then make no mistake, you ARE a mother.”

And upon further consideration, I suppose I am. After all, sometimes being a mother has nothing to do with biology.  I am typing this after every one has gone to bed, after dinner has been cooked and cleaned, everyone has settled in for the night. Kitchen is cleaned, lunches are ready for the morning.

I make sure this house is a home, full of love and comfort, Make sure those I love have what they need, and most of what they want. I work hard, every day, to make sure they know they are loved and wanted.  I support them, all of them, in my home and their own households when they are not here. I plan the grocery list, check the locks at night, turn on the alarm, make sure the household is running smooth.

There are chores that are planned, who vacuums, cooks cleans and such. The snack plates and glasses are gathered from their rooms. There isn’t a time during the day that I do not think about them. They come before what I need most of the time. There are conversations about how their day went; hopes, dreams, thoughts and more. I brought up hot tea and cold beverages before setting in myself to write. This is a spring board, for them, I know.

Dating? Personal life? My family is my personal life. Between all the work that I am doing, all the writing, both contract and freelance, making sure my family is comfortable and has everything they need, I don’t have time to worry about men. And men like to come first. My family comes first, so that does not bode well for relationships. If a man wants to be with me, he will have to come after my family. And he will have to understand that my time is limited, valuable and make the most of it. He will have to keep up with me and the busy schedule that is my life at this time.

I give everything I can, all that I am, to my family, my writing and my home. I love hard, work hard and play hard.  There is fatigue when my head hits the pillow. There is pressure every day to do more, be better, than the day before, for them.

Sound like a mother? Yes, indeed I am. And I love it and am so blessed beyond words to have my home be their home too.

In Between

If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.– Katharine Hepburn

In between the blogs, the words typed and thoughts discovered, have been many events, smiles, laughter, fingernail painting, hopes, dreams, wishes and secrets. Indeed, life has been full, overflowing even. Jobs and contracts, handwritten notes and typed reports. I have flown, walked, driven, screamed, caught flowers, played jokes, broken rules, taken risks and won poker games. I have even felt a young man’s teeth on my thigh, as he slid a garter on my leg, then took the garter off, then put the garter back on, all with his teeth, at  my best friends wedding, all caught on tape.

There has been moving out, moving in and moving on. Many dinners, countless dirty dishes, some desserts and more glasses of wine. Family, friends, new chances, things gained, moments lost, seconds taken and actions pondered. I have cried in joy, frustration, fear and from missing someone. From missing you and your voice, and your touch.

The garage is full, closet packed, trunk empty, attic organized, grill bought, freezer stacked and shelves lovingly cleared. I have seen my best and longest friends married, seen one loose a friend, one get divorced. A close friend get a promotion, one loose a job, one pack to move and start over and one going back home.

Oh yes, in between the writing, there has been so much, of everything, to tide me over. And so many times, I feel as if I am about to pop if I don’t run and write it all down, saving, recording each moment, expressing each detail. But  that would require my absence in the moment, and I am too busy living, soaking it all in. All the while, my heart is full, Peace is at  my door and happiness through the clouds calls my name. And I answer.

So more to come, so much more, in between living life.

If You’re Comfortable, You May Be Doing Something Wrong

Let’s face it, life is hard. Being an adult? Sometimes not all it’s crack ed up to be. Aside from the fact that we get to eat dessert first, there are a lot of responsibilities of being an adult. There’s a lot of pressure. Just when when we survive adolescence, with all the awkwardness, body parts, hormones, zits, voice changes and growing spurts, we get a dose of reality called adulthood. Really, who was the genius who thought that up?

But we made it through being a teenager, and we can make it through being an adult too. What’s the secret? I don’t know, but I think that if you’re comfortable, you are probably doing something wrong.

That may sound counter-intuitive. Go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait…

What that means, at least to me, is that when you stay in your comfort zone, you are not learning, not growing. If you want to be successful, if you want to follow your dreams, get used to being uncomfortable. Because stepping out of your comfort zone, is by it’s very nature, uncomfortable. And it also means taking risks.

There is a saying that well behaved women never make history. Its very true, for men and women. You have to be a little bit of a rebel to be successful, you have to not be afraid of discomfort. It’s kind of like exercising: If you feel the burn, you know it’s working. You also can’t be afraid of anyone else opinion of you. People may call you crazy, silly, stupid, whatever. But as long as you have the vision, then you’re OK. Don;t worry about what “they” think. “They” don’t know anything.

Take a look at the most successful people in the world – Steve jobs, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, JK Roland, Richard Branson, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson…they were all willing to stretch themselves, take risks, gamble a little and get out of there comfort zone. Now where they concerned about what other people thought.

Success isn’t just monetary, it could being a singer in a band, starting your own business, going back to school, making a career change, leaving your spouse, or whatever it is that would make you happy. Get uncomfortable. Nothing great ever happened to people who just sat watching TV wondering “what if.”

Those risks may require making sacrifices, and that may make you feel even more uncomfortable, but it’s worth it. It may mean taking that job that you really don’t want so you can save up enough money to take that trip, or start your own business. It may mean leaving everything you know, it may mean losing a bit of money and it will definably mean making a lot of mistakes. But so what? As long as you learn something, that’s what’s important.

And really what do you have to loose? You already haven’t accomplished whatever it is…so if you fail, so what? At least you tried. And you’ll learn something, meet new people, have some new experiences and maybe even a few new stories to tell along the way.

I have been blessed to be a successful writer. That meant being poor for quite a while. That meant leaving my comfy job to strike out on my own and do freelance work. That also meant taking many jobs I didn’t like in order to pay the bills. And it took a hellava lot of hard work. But here I am. And how do I know which writing projects to take on next? Which ever ones will make me the most uncomfortable, which ever ones make me a little scared and make me wonder if I can really do it.

Never stop growing, never stop learning, and always be willing to be uncomfortable. You’ll be amazed at how great it can be.

What Real Means

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?””Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.”Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”  “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

“What is real?” asked the Rabbit.  One of my favorite questions of one of my favorite stories.  And a very good question.  In this day and age of bigger is better, plastic rules and superficial is best…does Real exist?  Yes, At least I think so. To me to be real means our experiences have made us deep enough people to understand what is truly important in life.

The problem, I think, is that by the time we are real, we have lived, been loved, unloved, hurt and roughed up to the point where we are a bit shabby.  We’re not new and shiny any more.  Sometimes we feel that we have lost our worth – after all, how could anyone love a worn out little rabbit? And someone may have to look past all the roughness to see what Real really means.

I think it means that you have a real heart, you have been through enough to know, through experience, what is right, wrong and in between.  Living through those experiences teaches us compassion, empathy, how to love and so much more.  It makes us a better, deeper person.

What about the shabby parts?  Well, I guess that depends on your definition of shabby.  To me it’s nothing on the outside.  It’s a heart that is so closed it can no longer let love and light in.  Maybe we all get a little shabby…but just like the Skin Horse said, you can only be ugly to those who do not understand.

So, the key is to find someone who can see through our shabbyness, our weary-ness to see the beauty of our Realness.  Someone that can loves us anyway.  But being shabby and a little worn is ok. I have often said that it is our scars and flaws that make us our most human, most beautiful…and most Real.