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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.

Thine Actions and Words to be True

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

This famous quote when Polonius speaks to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of my all time favorites.  I have long grown up with the belief that actions speak louder than words. That a man is only as good as his word, so if his word is no good, than by default, neither is he. But this quote takes it many steps further and to me at least, is one of my personal creeds by which to live.

Some people think this quote means to be selfish and do as you wish as long as you get yours. I see it very differently. To first glean the true meaning of the phrase, you must first look at it’s origin. Hamlet’s Polonius also gave us the famous quote about “Never a borrower or lender be” and that indeed was part of the original meaning of being true to yourself as well. Polonius is instructing his son to take care of himself by being careful with his actions and words. To be an honest man true to his word but also be aware of what actions are in his best interest. Do not engage in activities which are disadvantageous or disingenuous.

This quote seems to mean that you must look after and take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of anyone else.

Yes, Shakespeare was quite wise when picking out themes, as taking care of ones self and being honest are still two very relevant topics in this day and age.

When you are honest with yourself and follow what you know to be right, then you will lead an honest and authentic life. People who lie and cheat to get what they want from others are a dime a dozen. There is nothing special about them at all. But someone who follows a sense of integrity, even when it’s not popular? Even when it’s hard? That is someone special, that is someone who you want to have in your life.

Those people who lie and cheat, they know what they do is wrong. Why do they do it? Because they are not strong enough to do the right thing, to be true to themselves, and thus be not be false to others. Because if they haven’t the strength to look themselves in the mirror and be honest, how could they be honest with anyone else? They say charity begins at home, well so does honesty. And trust me, if they can’t even be true to themselves, you don’t want them. Run, run like the wind.

I am no saint. Let’s face it, we had to be judged by what we did in our 20’s, most of us wouldn’t leave the house. We have all done stupid things, made errors in judgment. I have done things for which I am ashamed. But in everything I have done, both good and bad, I have always been honest with myself. And I have never done anything just to be malicious. I have always been able to my head high, even when it was not easy, even when others were hurt and angry.

But if you live your life authentically, if you are true to yourself, then you will always be able to hold your head high. And you will always have respect. If you are selfish and you lie and hurt people? You will lose respect because word will get around. Just ask my last ex boyfriend, who, after he lied and cheated on this girl, found out just how much respect he would loose when his friends and family found out what he had done.

Take care with your actions and your words. Live a life of which you can be proud. And to thine own self be true. And besides, you never know just who might be driving the Karma bus…

How to Respect Yourself in a Relationship

Madonna sang about it and made it famous. Respect Yourself. Go for what you want and need in a relationship and don’t settle. Pop songs can rarely be applied to real life, but maybe the singer was onto something. When you are in a relationship, how do you respect yourself enough to not loose yourself? How do you know where that line is that should not be crossed?

Aside from the obvious – no physical abuse, no criminal activity – sometimes defining just how to do this can be a bit tricky, even for a feisty red-head like me. And when you really care about someone, it can be easier said than done. But basically it comes down to this: Respect yourself.

If you don;t respect yourself, then why would anyone else. No one will respect you any more than you respect yourself. Have standards. Love should not hurt and someone who loves you will not do anything to hurt you intentionally. Have pride in yourself and walk away from anyone who tears you down, makes you feel bad for wanting to be treated well, or makes you think that you do not deserve to be respected. A person who loves you will not disrespect you.

If you are in a relationship, you are going to hurt each other at some point, that is par for the course and part of the deal. Respecting yourself though is not about the occasional spat or even cross word. It is not about who left whose dirty socks on the floor or squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle. It has to do with being treated at a certain level – as a human being. Girls, if the man you are with lies about something (like when his divorce is final), he will lie to you about other things.Respect yourself enough to not allow him to lie to you this way. Hold him accountable for not only his actions but his words, and walk.  

Forget about second and third, and 100th chances. and ut’s not your job to try to understand them or why they are mistreating you. It’s not your place to make excuses for them. You are not the jerk whisperer. Nor would you ever want to be.

If he says he loves you, then you find out that he is seeing other women, he doesn’t love you. Respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Don’t settle. Walk out the door and know that nice people, normal people, do not treat others in such a cruel and damaging way. If he balks at the fact that you have called him out on his bad behavior, if he doesn’t like you knocking on the door when you catch him cheating when another car is in his driveway or you find messages on his phone or such, then walk. You deserve better and there are too many wonderful, kind and amazing men out there to settle for someone who is so uncaring that he would let others suffer.

And some people think that if you care about or love someone, that that gives them the right to mistreat you. No it does not. No matter how much I love someone, I will not let them mistreat me. Period. And if they try to mistreat me, they will quickly see this little red-headed girl put down the law in a matter of seconds.

So chin up, and respect yourself to know that you deserve someone who treats you with kindness and caring, someone who means it when they say I love you, someone who doesn’t cherishes you and makes you feel like you are the only girl in the room. And know that, just like Calvin says, normal people do not destroy other human beings.

So what does Madonna have in common with Calvin and Hobbs? Now you know.

Loves Labor

Today has been on e of those days that reminds you how lucky you are to be alive and have the life you do. First of all, it was a beautifl day with beautiful weather. The windows were open, the fan on. There was laughter, TV watching, rice crispie treats and good times.

But in the back of my mind, I had to say a prayer. A man I knew 7 years ago was going to his son’t funeral today. His son committed suicide, and he and his family have to find a way to pick up the pieces.

And so as the day went on, there was nothing that could keep me from beeing thankful for the life I have. No matter what happens, no matter what issues or hick ups, I am here, I’m alive, and that in itsself is a huge gift and blessing. We are given the gift of life, no one promises that will be easy, no one promised that it would be fair.

So, take care of the life you have, treat the people in your life well. They say a man’s charactor can be judged by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Yes, indeed. And you never know when those people who can do nothing for you today will be in a position to help or hinder you down the line. Karma is a bitch of a mistress, so make sure it’s pleasent visit when she comes to call.

Because the best way to show your appreciation and thankfulness for the life you have been blessed enough to have been given, is to treat those around you well.  It may be hard, but life will multiply when you do right by others. you will flurish.

And every day, I want people to see how thankful I am by seeing how I treat those around me.

I Think I’ve Got This

Funny how life throws you curve balls. And just when you think you can’t do it, you can and you do. Just when you are not sure you can, you reach deep down within, and pull thge strength up to come through.

So my sister and nephew are moving in for a while. My sister is already settled, so to speak, by nephew won’t move in for a couple of weeks. Mom and Dad were up all loast week for Dad’s chemo treatment. He went in Wednesday and this one was really rough on him. The doctors are optimistic, but the chemo gets worse on him with each dose. So it’s tough to see him in pain and in such bad shape.

But I have managed to take care of everyone, all four of them, and make sure they have everything that they need. Mom has her own space, smoking area, bathroom and comfort things. Dad has his own room, both up and downstairs, and his own diet food and he feels wewll cared for. My sister has her own space and comfort things, food and such, Allan has everythig he needs for school, My sister has a new waredrobe, hairstyle and resume, along with interview suits.

And still there have been good food for good meals, wine, warm blankets, hot tea, cool water and plenty of space. There has been worry, laughter, hugs, memories, thoughts and time together.

So far I have been able to provide everything they have needed and wanted, right down for new books for Mom to read. Oh, there have been freak out moments, such as this past Monday. I can I do this? Can I do this? Will I be good at it? The answer is yes. Because this is family and failure is not an option. 

So I can do this, be the head of the household and take care of everyone. I was nervous because I knew I would always be the one my family leaned on, but I always thought there would be someone with me, that I would not have to do it alone. But here I am. I can can do this. And still work, and still have a social life and friends. And still be me.

Dreams

I have long said that I beleived that if you work hard, have faith and beleive, that your dreams will come true. Hard work and perseverance truly do pay off. And Now, during this time of my life, it is truly paying off.

I have struggled, I have been so very poor, I have worked all night and all day, I have cired so many tears, a river of tears, an entire ocean. I have known the pain of being too tender, had broken hearts, felt each piece break one heartbeat at a time, I have liad down next to love and woke up with lies. I have beleived the wrong men, men who knew too much, men who knew too little and man who didn’t know at all. Men who were late, early and men who never came at all.

I have tried with all of my heart and soul. I have stayed awake at night, unable to sleep or watching over those I love. I have krept out inthe morning, stayed too long, beleived when I knew it was wrong, taken calcualted risks that worked and some that didn’t. I have failed, so very hard. And I have fallen, so very hard, for him. And I have wondered, at night when the stars are quiet.

And I have known his footsteps as he nears the room, his smell, his looks, his everything. And I have known all of them, too well, too little and closed my eyes when I did not want to know. I have been a friend, a lover, a sister, a girlfriend, a fighter, a believer, a worker, an liar, a truther. And I have held my own heart, wounded, bleeding, beating. And I have put it back together. I have taped, banaged and bandaided my faith and belief in others.

And I have tried, so very hard.

And here I am. Finally. My dreams are coming true, both professionally and personally. Thank you to all who believed, to all those who faollowed, all those who cheered and rooted. Thank you to alal those who booed and hurt me too. For you too motivated me and made me better, though I may have not known it at the time.

And now, as I sit at the top of this huge, trechurous mountain, I see that the view is wonderful, beautifu. The air is clear and clean. And as I have have sweated, my heartache comin goout of my pours, dripping down onto the Earth, I know that every minute was worth it. I have Peace, and I have Love.

It’s all worth it, in the end. Every minute, every second, every moment.

A Graceful Night Out

Most people who know me would not associate me with the word Grace. If there is a way to trip, fall, spill, stumble or otherwise fumble, I’ll find it. The stories of my cluminess are many and legindary – like when I feel face first on the beach in the sand, when I fell over a footstoll lin the furniture store, landed ass-up in front of a hot guy, the time I was taking a pre-employment drug test and dropped the cup when handing it iff to the technitian…in front of a hot guy. And those are just a few.

Last night my sister and I went out to play trivia and meet with another dear frond of mine. He is Jewish, older and rides a Harley. This unlikely friendship started several years ago after I kept seeing him in my appartment complex and eventually worked up the nerve to ask him about his life. We have been good friends ever since. Last night we talked, drank beer, got caught up, laughed and had a great time.

He is a very spirtitual man, very knowledgeable and I respect him tremendiously. Toward the end of the night, I told him of my journey to find Grace, Divine Grace, or to have as much Grace as possible. I asked him what he thought the definiation of Grace was in the sewnse that I am seeking. He said:

“It is keeping your mouth shut and withholding judgement. Don’t be the catalyst. Don’t be a doormat, but sit back and watch more, let things develope in their own time and let people learn their lessons without telling them. That is the only way they will learn anyway. So sit back, shut up, and don’t judge.”

I love him. In that short explanation, he summed up exactly what I needed to do. And when you think about it, it seems so simple. The bottom line is that it is easy to practice Grace when you are having a great day, and all is well. However, it is much harder when you are angry, hurt, or feel slighted. So I am going to take his advice, and I will hold my togue. Easier said than done for this feisty red- head.

But we strive, as humans, to be better, do better and have better. It is our nature. And so I will strive too. And I will be human, I will have monets, make mistakes, falter, but I will try, with all my heart to sit back, shut up and not judgr. It is not my place to judge or tell someone how they are wring, even when they have dsone wrong to me. Let God sort them out.

Now, if only there was a cure for falling, slipping, tripping, spilling, fumbling, tumbling, shuffling and sliding!

Pride, Grace and Moving

We all  must learn to ask for hlep at some point in our lives. This is a very hard thing for me. It truly hurts my prode when I find that I cannot do something myself. I. Hate. It. But I had to swallow my pride and do just that recently. My nephew will be moving in temporarily and for 2-3 months my office needs to be his bedroom. Easy enough. Except that a huge heavy desk had to be moved out of the room, into the garage and the bedroom furniture on loan from my parents moved from their van to my nephews room.

So, I swallowed my pride and asked my most recent to to please, please, please, help unload and move. This was hard for me and he did not make it easy. Why not call the man you are dating now? (He runs his own company, is not available during the day and had a family emergency). Why not just get some movers? (hmmm, it costs at least $200 to get them, and since I have 2 people moving in, I am a bit short on cash at the moment). Why not get another friends? (I don’t ask a lot of friends for help. Very few people. Ever. Pride).

The result of me swallowing my pride? The ex came over and helped, everything was moved into place. The desk is dismantled and in the garage, the bedroom furniture is where it is be and the room is ready for my nephew to move in.  And my ex and I saw each other where we were not yelling at each other.

The moral of the story? Maybe it is OK to ask for help. Maybe pride is not always a good thing. Yes, we can write it and read it all we want, but until we really know it, it does not good.

And Grace. Yes ther is that word. It is very hard to have Grace toward someone who hurt you. And he did, a lot. And I have to admit, I have been very snarky to him. I am a fiesty southern red head, and he expected me to do that which I already told him I was not capable. I told him how I would react if put in thyat situation. And true to my word, I acted just as I said I would. He was surprised got very angry. And then I was snarky. And I enjoyed being snarky. That’s the thing about being feisty, you enjoy it.

But that is not Grace. And that is not forgiveness. It is hard to forgive when you are still hurt and angry, and it is hard to be Graceful when you enjoy being feisty. But that is what I must do. After all, my ex showed more grace than I when he showed up to help, moving heavy furniture, facing my mother and sister, still smiling and moving heavy things. I could learn from him in that regard.

And my life has been so blessed with so many good and wonderful things, that I should be less pridefull and more Gracefull. I cannot, in good conscience, ask for the blessings in  my life to continue and still behave in a way that is not condusive to having Grace. And so that will bemy motivation.

Pride, Grace, and moving.

Judgement Day

There is something I have to tell my friends. Something that makes me afraid that they will either not believe me or for which I will be judged. I am terrified of that actually. But I have found that the best way to deal with your worst fears is to face them head on. Don’t hide from them at all. Ever.

I already told the worst judge. He made snarky comments and acted quite callous. But that is why I chose to practice on him. If I could tell him, then I could face any critic. The result has been a sense of relief.

Sure, we are judged every day in one way or another. People judge us on how we look, what we say, how we act, the work we do, how much money we make, the kind of car we drive. You name it, we are judged by it.

And there is a large part of me who says, fuck them. Don’t let yourself care about what anyone thinks about you, or how they might judge you. And for the most part that is the way I live my life. I am me, if you don’t like me, you can find the door. But I am human. And it is different when it is people for which you care a great deal. People who mean something to you. It is different when there is humiliation, shame and embarrassment involved.

So I will gather my friends over in the next night. And I will tell them that which I am ashamed, embarrassed and feel humiliated by. And I hope they do not judge me. My friends are my heart, and it will break my heart if they do. But that is the thing about broken hearts – you survive. You keep going. You may hurt, but life goes on,  Judgment or not.

I did a similar thing when I was 20, and I told my friends that I was not a virgin. That may sound trivial to most reading, but in the Bible Belt South, where all of my friends believed that if you had sex before marriage you were going to be sent to burn in Hell for eternity, and anyone who had sex before marriage was a whore not to be associated with, it was putting the scarlet letter on myself, inviting judgment. It was the fat kid in school volunteering to step on the scale in front of everyone to be laughed at. And it was terrifying. (Yes, I know that is not the politically correct thing to say – the fat kid – but this is my blog. If you don’t like it get your own blog and be politically correct.)

But I could not live a lie and let everyone think that I was something that I was not. Honesty, integrity and honor are very important to me. So I gathered them all up and told them anyway. Some left. And it hurt me right down to my core. But most stayed and said they loved me anyway and gave me big hugs for having the courage to stand up and tell them.

And life went on. And I have still had a wonderful and happy life. No doubt this will be the same. But it doesn’t make it any easier, it just makes me know that I will be just fine, either way.
So if you judge me, or anyone, do so lightly. Because there is a human being underneath, who may be scared, hurt and ashamed.

It reminds me of a toast my mother taught me long ago:

Here’s to you,
Here’s to me
May be never disagree
But if we do,
To Hell with you!
Here’s to me!