Thursday, September 30, 2010

Your Rules

I was in a rut. A decorating rut, that is. I hadn't changed decorations in a while. My normal "rule" is that fall starts with Halloween stuff, and that doesn't go out until October.

But the other day, I needed something from the pile of junk that used to be my garage. When I was moving boxes, I came across my Halloween decorations. How fortuitous, since I'll be needing these in a few days.

Then I thought - why am I waiting? I'm sick of my rut now, darn it! My house, my decorations - my rules. So, I put jack o' lanterns (plastic; I don't carve) on my front steps. Then I put out some fun, Halloween-y things inside - and added a few harvest items. It took me a while to get everything the way I wanted - I kept moving things from one shelf to the next, up a step, down a step, more to the right, etc. Finally, it was done; I set my timers, and ordered my dinner (I don't cook, either).  

They look super-cool at night...
It made me smile. For a couple of hours, I forgot my stress. Lately, there's been too much of that - stress, I mean. I have a lot on my mind: Things I'd like to say, questions I'd like to ask and changes I'd like to make. The placement of my power strips and ceramic ghosts was a welcome distraction. 

It would be nice if we could plan our worries, the way we plan holiday decorations. If I could, I would spread my worries out more. My savings wouldn't be nearly empty at the exact same time that I've become completely burnt out at my job. I would have paid more attention to my pants getting snug before it was time to cover up with jeans and sweaters and plan holiday meals. My questions would have been asked before I had so much to lose. 

Go Yankees!
But that's life. It happens on its own - usually, while you're planning. So now what? Well, I guess I regroup. Figure out where I am, and where I want to be. Then decide how to get there from this starting point.

That's the thing with improvement. It can start whenever you're ready. You decide when - your rules.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home Run

Tough not to like, though.
I like baseball; and I'm a Yankee fan (but not an A-Rod fan). The first time I ever visited (old) Yankee Stadium, my heart skipped a beat when I stepped through the tunnel out onto the field level. 

Is it because I love sports? No. I'm not competitive, and there's a lot of rules (rules aren't really my thing). Is it because I like guys. Well... Wait, no that's a different post. Focus. 

I love the energy. Baseball is played everyday, and the real, true champions (see right) take the field hurt, tired or just plain frustrated. I love the history. When you visit a stadium, even if it's new, you can feel the history everywhere you go. I love the style. They stick with what works. Progress is great, but some things were meant to be left alone. Baseball is like that - classic and elegant. 

I love that when you go to a ballpark, everyone is on the same team (unless you're  a Red Sox or Mets fan, which is also another post). I once sat in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium when they were playing the Indians. Some poor soul was sitting in our section wearing her Indians gear proudly - even though they were losing. Big time. I believe the final score was 21-2. She took the loss well and never once stopped cheering. At the end of the game, her biggest hecklers walked over and shook her hand. That's baseball.

Not That kind of sharing - Ouch!

The other thing I love about baseball? Sharing. Sports like football are fun to watch, but everything happens so fast. If I don't pay attention, I miss something - so I'm forced to wear my tunnel vision glasses, and not interact with anyone. Baseball's not like that (well, not always). Sure, some plays happen lightening-fast, but it's usually more relaxed. It gives me time to catch up. (Which I need; I confuse easily. I still don't get the infield-fly rule and I can never remember all three save situations.) It also gives me time to people-watch. (Which may contribute to the confusion. Don't judge.)

$18 worth of stadium dining.
On the plus side? Mountain Dew.

Last week, I shared a game with my Dad. I had two tickets to a Yankee game. My Dad is a fan, and he hadn't been to the new stadium, so I invited him to join me.

We got there early, and had our pick of yummy, over-priced ballpark food (I tweeted endlessly about our choices, which included Johnny Rockets, BBQ, Sushi, Chinese, Italian, Carvel - and, of course, hot dogs.) We ate, and the my dad got busy taking photos with his phone in one hand and his camera in the other (that may be genetic). Even though they lost, we still had fun. We laughed, talked - and made some good memories that we'll always share.

That's what I love most about baseball. It's timeless fun, made up of memories, sharing and hopes for the future. What's better than that?     

Ghost of baseball future?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Before the Light

Most people would probably assume that the darkest point in my life happened during my separation. A few might think it was during childhood. A couple really close friends might think it was when things went south with my first post-separation relationship.   

There were some pretty bad moments - but none were my darkest.

The first date I had after getting separated was with a guy we'll call D. We went on one date - Starbucks, for coffee/hot chocolate. Over the next couple of weeks, he called a lot, but if I tried to make plans, he was "busy." Eventually, I gave up asking, and he stopped calling. I figured he wasn't interested, and I moved on. 

Oh, boy (or girl?). 
A few months later I "ran into him" online. I said hi and asked how he was doing. He responded with:

I got 

I figured he was going to say he got a new job, a new car...something. Seconds pass, and then this:

a girl pregnant. Life is a mess. Can't really talk.

Well, this was unexpected. Hallmark and Emily Post don't really have guidelines, so I responded as best I could. I said I was sorry things weren't going well, I hoped everything turned out for the best and told him to take care. [What would you have done?]

Fast forward three months...

I was having a pretty bad week. I'd just celebrated my 35th birthday alone with my bffs Ben & Jerry. I'd gotten some pretty harsh news via facebook and was just not happy in general. I opened up my email to find a message from D:

Subject: Great News!
Body: The kid's not mine! How are you doing?

I laugh now, but at the time, all I could think was: Seriously? I'm 35, soon-to-be-divorced, with a job and a house I don't really want, I've just been dumped via facebook and now I'm getting emails from guys that are happy about mistaken paternity. How is this my life?

I remember slumping on my bed. I think I fell asleep; the next thing I knew, it was light out. I'm not sure how much I actually slept that night, but when I woke up, I started thinking.  

If this stupid email - this ridiculous guy - was the worst thing that could happen to me, then I'd come a long way. I thought about how lost I was just one year before, and what I'd gone through to find my way back. That's the thing about hitting your lowest point - there's no where to go but up. Suddenly, you know there's not much left you can't survive.

That was my darkest point. I know because it came just before the light.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Miracle

I never used to believe in miracles. I was too cynical, too sad or something; I just didn't see hope anywhere. 

Then I got separated. The fact that I even survived the whole thing is, in my opinion, the best proof that there are miracles in this world. I don't mean the over-the-top, part-the-sea, blood-from-a-stone variety. I'm talking about little miracles; little bits of hope that give us all a reason to keep moving forward.

My little cousin Joey is a miracle. First of all, he was a surprise. The odds of him even being conceived were pretty darn small (that little over-achiever). Then mom and dad found out he wasn't alone - Joey had a twin sister! Even smaller odds. Emmy, though, didn't get a chance to greet all of us - although she fought hard. She's an angel now, probably watching over her brother. There were several times during those nine months when everyone thought Joey might join her - but he kept fighting. 

Even after birth, Joey wasn't out of the woods. He was premature; he only weighed 4lbs and his lungs were not fully developed. He lived in the NICU for several weeks - always fighting. By the time he came home (a week ahead of schedule), Joey weighed 6lbs. Still small - but absolutely beautiful. Crying? Not this kid. He's always smiling, and as soon as he could open his eyes, he started giving the world the best little flirty eyes you ever did see. 

On Sunday, September 26, 2010, Joey was baptized. A beautiful little boy was welcomed into the church, and given his first three sacraments in front of family and friends. Tears? Nope. Crying? Not this kid. Just smiling and giggles - and when it was done, a nap. It was a bitter-sweet day for his family; happy to be celebrating their little boy, but sad that the day was still missing someone. 
Love you, Sue!

Joey survived when no one thought he would. He's had to fight more in six months than some people fight their whole lives. But he's happy, content, and his little eyes tell you that he already feels the love that surrounds him. His beautiful family is to thank for that, of course. Mom, Dad and big-brother Billy are three of the best people you could ever meet. They got me through the toughest time of my life - and Billy helped teach me what love really means. Now, his little brother is here to remind me.  

The other night, I was really sad. My phone said I had a message, and when I looked, it was a picture of Joey, with a text (from his mom - he's smart, but c'mon) that said, "Love you Sue." 

I stopped crying and smiled. If that's not a miracle, then I don't know what is. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Balancing Act

The other day, I asked my tweeps what was the best, and worst, dating advice they'd received. Several responded, but one response really stood out. 

One of my tweeps said the best advice he'd received was to just be himself. He also said that was the worst advice. He was being funny, but his answer got me thinking. 

How often are we our own worst enemy when it comes to meeting people (dates, new friends, coworkers, etc.)? Sure, we have to be ourselves because we want the other person to really know us - but is it possible to be too honest? Should we hide certain things at first, and gradually let the wall down - or should we be out there all the way from the word go?

I was reading this article the other day about the best, and worst, date conversations. If you take your cues from this article - some things really are too personal when you're just getting to know someone. The thing is, I've had conversations with would-be dates about some of these topics. It wasn't pleasant - but it was worth knowing up front that we weren't a good match.

If you're meeting people online, there's always the big question of what you should say in your profile. Keep it positive, interesting and try to stand out. That all makes sense. But is there such a thing as too much information?

I couldn't find an answer to that question. I found a good article on phrases you should avoid. So, maybe if you're a negative, ex-bashing mis-speller - you need a little less you? I also found a good article on lies commonly told in online profiles. Here's what I think: if you're 5'5" - say so. If the profile works the way you want, he or she is going to figure it out soon enough, anyway.

When I meet anyone, the last thing I want is to feel is that I can't relate to them. Whether it's a date, or a new friend, if you're flawless, I'm going to wonder what we might possibly have to talk about? I like real people; flaws and all. Imperfections make us beautiful.

My take? Balance. Figure out what is the best, and worst, you have to offer. Show a little of both, but not all. Give a hint of who you really are. Maybe the key to meeting the right people is finding the ones who care enough to find out more.

Like Stars

"Friends are like stars; you don't always see them,
but you always know they are there." - Unknown
I have this pile of books on my nightstand that I really need to start reading. I was dusting (around it, of course) and noticed that one of the books is a self-help book a friend gave me right after my separation. 

I started thinking about the reactions of my friends and family when I told them I was getting divorced. At one point, I actually started out-sourcing the task. At work, I told the person most likely to spread the story; took myself right out of the conversation. 

That didn't work with everyone, of course. Certain family and friends needed to hear it from me. Some of their reactions still make me shake my head. 

When your friend tells you she is getting divorced, don't say (or do):
  • Who is she? [Assumes too much.]
  • I knew this was coming. [Rude]
  • What took so long? [Still rude]
  • Oh my God! How will you live? [Trust me, she's already had this panic attack. Don't remind her.]
  • Are you going to move back in with your Dad? [<~ What the...?]
  • There's no chance he wants to get back together? [Don't assume it's his decision.]
  • Thank God you didn't have any kids. [Right - cause that makes it all better.]
  • Take him for all he's worth. [This also assumes too much.]
  • Here's a self help book. [This just points out all of her flaws; not the best time, k?]

Your friend is sad. She's hurt, confused and just needs someone to listen. So what can you say or do? 
  • Nothing. Just listen. She will appreciate this more than anything you could say.
  • Hug her. It's comforting and will make her feel better.
  • Bring food. Even if she doesn't eat when you're there, she'll appreciate it when she's ready.
  • Offer understanding; remind her she's not alone, and others have been where she is and been okay.
  • It's not about you; even if you've had it worse, remember that right now, no one has it worse than she.
  • Say nothing about him. You might push her to defend him, which is not where she needs to be focused.
  • Let her cry. Everyone heals in their own time and their own way. Don't push. 
  • Check in with her. Just say hi. She'll feel like someone cares, which is a huge help.

Divorce is scary. No matter what stage of marriage your friend is in, she's lost everything. All the hopes and dreams she had for her future are gone. Every plan she made is ruined because they all included him. It's as if she's dead - but still alive to feel the pain. 

In her own time, she'll find the strength to start making new plans and new dreams. Your job is to support, not do it for her. You're simply there to give her some light while she finds her way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

(Anti?) Social Network

So, the other night I was invited to go to a sneak-preview of The Social Network, a movie about Mark Zuckerberg, the Co-Founder, CEO & President of facebook. During the movie, we move back and forth between the depositions taken after Mr. Zuckerberg is sued by everyone and his brother, and the events that led to the creation of the popular social networking site (and the suits in the first place).

Not normally my kind of movie. I like action; some running, some guns and a little mystery. If it can happen in space, I'm all the happier. I also like to giggle. This movie is pure drama (with a few well-placed chuckles). A (presumably) true story, and an excellent snapshot of what will certainly be a tremendous biography when Mark Zuckerberg is done making history. It's written and acted well, and kudos to the director who managed to keep even the most easily confused viewer [*waves*] on track, despite the back and forth (no small task). 

Judging by the trailer, most people won't like Mark Zuckerberg all that much. He's painted as a greedy, The movie didn't teach me if the guy is a jerk or not. Here are some lessons I did learn:
  • Spoiled kids do not make good business decisions, and
  • Neither do super-geniuses.
  • Harvard is full of both, and 
  • Nothing good comes from these two groups teaming up.
  • Popcorn and Sprite is not a good dinner.
  • Super-geniuses lack common sense and are easily led astray.
  • If you're going to break up with a guy who blogs, do so nicely - or prepare for the consequences.
  • If you're going to break-up with a super-genius from Harvard - STOP. You might be dumping the world's first 25 or younger billionaire. Are you okay with that? Yes? Proceed.
  • My watch keeps excellent time. 
  • The movie seats at Colonie Center are way better than the seats at Crossgates (I knew that already, but the point was driven home during this movie.)
  • No matter how smart or well-intentioned you are, everyone has their price. Drugs, women...unlimited giga-whosit-whatsies.... You name it. We all have our weakness. 
  • Relaxing and just being myself is fun, even when I'm talking to strangers (or new friends). Coming out of my shell is a good thing, and can actually happen in person. 
  • Women are way more powerful than men. Don't believe me? Napster and facebook may have been invented by men, but if this movie is for real - a woman started 'em both.
  • Never, ever give a woman a silk scarf unless you're absolutely certain she wants one.
  • If you're going to show your relationship status on facebook, make darn sure you know how to change it, in case it comes up.
Learn it. It could save your life.
I also enjoy irony. No phones allowed in the theater, so I had to leave my social networking phone in the car for four hours (two waiting; two watching) so I could watch a movie about the guy who revolutionized social networking. I'm still recovering from the shakes. On a positive note, I did have a nice time with my friends (one who I knew, another who I met for the first time), and all the friends he could manage to make while waiting on line. 

The main lesson I took away from the evening? Never judge a book by its cover. Everyone has something unexpected inside of him.

Friday Fun 9/24/2010

Thanks (again) to Cute~Ella for bringing me a bit of Friday Fun, via The Woman's Colony. Feel free to post your answers here. Also, visit the rest of Cute~Ella's site, if you haven't already. 

What is one characteristic you received from your parents that you want to keep, and one you wish you could change? 

First, let me say that by all counts, I should be a tall, thin (from my mom) woman with naturally curly hair and a mathematical genius making a nice living working on computers and not dealing with people (from my dad). Brace yourselves: I'm not - so I'd have liked to get those characteristics.

I did get some of  my Dad's smarts - and his nearly flawless complexion, and thick hair (even if mine is straight). I'll keep both of those, but I also got some of his nervous personality. I work hard to overcome that.

I'd love to give my mother back the addictive personality trait. I do have a compassionate streak in me that I like, which probably comes from her. Although, mine is a little more in check. *shrugs*

If you could have any chef (free of charge) cater a dinner party for you and your friends, who would you choose? What is one thing that would have to be on the menu?

Rachael Ray. I don't care what's on the menu, I just want her to prove, in my kitchen, that without staff and editing, no meal can actually be made in 30 minutes or less. 

How do you know when you are in love?

I'm clearly not qualified to answer this question. Next.... (kidding - sort of) 

First, let me say you're going to think you're in love when you can't get enough of the person; when they want to be with you all the time; when they want to be your everything; when your relationship is "intense" and you agree on just about everything.

You're not.

You might be in love when you meet someone who makes you face your stuff. They're not afraid to tell you you're wrong, but they also listen - you learn from each other. They make you laugh - uncontrollably sometimes, and they laugh at you. Yes - at, along with. If you don't see each other's flaws, no one is in love. You're happy and content without them - but just a tiny bit happier when they're around.

Love should add to your life - but it shouldn't become your life.  

Favorite crappy, sugar laden cereal?

You're all thinking my answer is going to be some chocolaty cereal, aren't you? Nope. I actually don't like sugary cereals at all - something about the sugar in the milk is just really unappealing to me. I'm a Cheerios girl, who occasionally dabbles in Corn Chex. I might eat Rice Crispies, and if I do I will sprinkle a bit of sugar on them, but nothing crazy. By the by - Cute~Ella might be interested to know that breakfast cereal is the one place I think fruit should be introduced to other foods - bananas in your cereal is yumm-o (ode to Ms. Ray who is still slaving in my kitchen). 

If you were guaranteed honest responses to any two questions, whom would you question, and what would you ask them?

This is tough. I like to practice the rule, "Don't ask the question unless you really want the answer." It turns out, I don't care about some things nearly as much as I thought.

My dad's not a talker. As a result, he's tough to get information from. So, if I were guaranteed to get a good, honest answer, I'd probably take the opportunity to ask him a bunch of questions about his future planning, so that I could get in order. 

That would be more than one question, but if you want to know the other...

The person I'd ask would most definitely give me an honest answer. So, I guess I'd just need to pick a question. 

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Toughest Job

When I was in high school, a good friend started dating a guy who we'd all known for a couple of years. At first, she would talk to us when she was unhappy. But over time, we started to judge her boyfriend. We were trying to be supportive, but it came out as criticism. Gradually, she stopped talking to us about him - and eventually, she stopped talking to us at all.

Do you need help? Me too.
Fast forward 20 years - and clearly, not everyone has learned this lesson.

Sometimes, your friends just want to vent. They just need to say something out loud, so they can hear it for themselves. Or maybe so they don't say it to someone else, while they're angry or upset. They don't need advice, or input, or validation. They just need a sounding board.

In my friend's case, it was not a good relationship (hindsight is 20/20). In other cases, it might just be a friend having a bad day. Maybe something happened at work and now she's upset about everything. Maybe she's got some things from past relationships that she needs to work through, without affecting a current relationship. Heck - maybe she's just hormonal. 

Whatever the reason - it is hard to see your friend upset. Most of us want to jump to her defense, or make her problems go away. But you can't. That's not your job as a friend. Some lessons have to be learned, and sometimes we all need to make our mistakes and then find our way back.

The toughest job as a friend? Knowing when it's time to let a friend make her mistakes, and when it's time to help her pick up the pieces and start over.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cute Stops at Twelve

My cousin had a baby in March. He's the cutest, squishiest little thing you ever wanted to meet. I adore him. I'm not at all sorry that she had to sacrifice her gorgeous figure to have him.
So worth it. 
While mom would agree with that, she's probably less okay with the results than I am. She's gorgeous - but annoyed that she can't find cute clothes in a size that will work right now. Because, let's face it - even when you're trying, losing weight takes time. Who wants to wait to look good?

This happens to be a subject that's near and dear to my own fashion-filled heart - since I have worn a size 12+ most of my adult life. I'm also short, which is added fun. The fashion world only just got word a few years ago that some women are short and others are not thin - seems it needs to be broken gently that some of these short, not-thin women are actually the same person. *frustrated sigh*

So why does cute stop at twelve? I've heard arguments that making nice, fashionable clothing above a certain size encourages obesity and unhealthy living. Huh? Aren't there healthy, non-obese women who wear larger sizes?  

And what about women who, like my cousin, are getting their figure back after having a baby? Surely no one is suggesting that a pregnant woman is obese or unhealthy - are they?! A woman having her second baby in her thirties is going to need time to get back to her pre-baby figure. Is she supposed to look (and feel) frumpy and bad about herself indefinitely? 

What about women like me? I don't mind a little exercise and sometimes order from the salad menu - but I really like chocolate, milkshakes and movie popcorn. I'll never, ever be thin - and at 36 my age, I think we can all agree I'll never be tall, either. So, muumuus and elastic-waisted pants are what - a punishment? Seems harsh. 
You feel better already, don't you?
Image used without permission. Click to visit retailer's web site.
I know obesity isn't a joke. It can wreak havoc on your health, and all statistics point to the problem getting worse, not better. But isn't emotional health just as critical? I struggle with self-esteem, and am willing to bet I'm not the only one. I know the criticsm is that you shouldn't rely on your looks, or other people's opinions, for your own self-worth. Yup, I get it. Certainly, I'm no expert - but I can speak from experience. 

I'm more confident when I feel like I look good. And when I'm more confident, I'm better at handling stress; I'm more outgoing and therefore make friends more easily; I am more assertive and honest, which allows me to handle situations with more respect and better results. I'm a better me when I like how I look.

Isn't that what self-esteem is all about?   


I'm interested in doing a project that would require me to change something in my life - to do something differently. 

Sounds easy, right? There is definitely plenty I'd like to change about me, and a whole list of areas in which I could improve.

Here's the catch - it has to be something I can share [You didn't think I told all my secrets here, did you?!] and that will be fun for others to follow as I work toward the goal.

I have a few ideas, but would love some suggestions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drama Royalty

When someone loves drama, do we call them a drama "queen" because women are more often associated with drama? I suppose that makes some sense - if by drama queen, we mean a person who over-reacts or is irrational. [Face it - those are usually female characteristics. *shrugs*] I can say that because I used to be one of those women. I was always looking for the next thing to worry about, and any little thing became a big deal. 

I think there's more to a drama queen than just irrational worrying or over reacting. That's too passive - you have to wait for something to worry about, or to which you can react. The real Drama Royalty (both women and men) don't wait - they go looking for the drama. 

You know who I mean. It might be that coworker who is always looking for a problem to solve. Or that sibling who over-commits, and then complains about how much he has to do. Or what about the cousin who is always saying something about other family members, and then repeating your half of the conversation back (out of context, of course). Or it might be that aunt who tells every story as though it's a tragedy. 

What about cheating? Or starting a fight with your spouse/other? Do you consider that drama? I do. It seems to me that if you really want a peaceful, drama-free life, you'll avoid situations that could cause a fight, create worry, etc. 

Drama Royalty are the people who surround themselves with problems. They worry about stuff that hasn't happened yet - and they worry about stuff that won't affect them. They look for the hidden meaning in what someone says, so that they have a reason to be upset. They want things to be more difficult so that they can go through the motions of overcoming the obstacles. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm not diminishing the real problems people tackle every day. But - it doesn't have to be a production. I have friends who have gone through serious health problems, life changes, etc. - and handle it without complaining. I also have friends who shout "stop the presses" over an unexpected doctor bill for $10.

Like I said, I used to be one of the women who over reacted, and I worried a lot. Then one day, I took a hard look at my life. I suddenly realized that this was not the person I wanted to be. I was hurting other people, my relationships - and myself. I decided to change, and am happier for that choice.

Maybe that's why I don't understand why anyone would choose to live as drama royalty. Because it's also a royal pain in the.... Crown. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just About the Best

After I knew it wasn't going to work out with my "transitional guy," I started thinking about what I wanted. The truth was, I had no idea. I was new to dating and just worried about how to meet people - I never really thought about who I was meeting. I ended up meeting and/or dating several not-so-great guys. Guys who were stuck on themselves, guys with questionable views - and some guys who were just plain jerks. I even went on two of the most boring dates ever - one I barely made it through. [I nearly left him in the restaurant.]

I was meeting people, but not with a lot of enthusiasm. I was spending a lot of time at my cousins' downstate, and my best friend was staying with me. I had work, the gym, my house, my friends - I was fine. I really wasn't interested in anything more than the occasional date. 

I honestly struggled with the idea that I could have criteria - that there could be guys to whom I said, "No." Ever since I was a teenager, I'd believed that I needed to just find someone who cared for me - and then stick with that person. It never even occurred to me that I should be out there looking for someone for whom I cared.  

Then one day, out of nowhere, I thought - Wait a minute. Why shouldn't I have criteria? I'm cool, cute, smart, funny, successfull, independent... [You're nodding, right? Louder, please. I can't hear you.] Okay, so maybe it didn't come out of nowhere. I'd been through a lot, and had worked really hard to get to this place. But all that was going on while I wasn't focused on dating, so it felt like it came out of nowhere.

Anyway, I did a complete overhaul. First, I cleaned up my contacts (email, phone, facebook, etc.) Anyone who had ever treated me as an option, and not a priority - gone. Anyone who was critical or controlling - done. Anyone who had just plain blown me off - hasta la vista, baby.

Then I redid my online profile, so that I was putting out there what I wanted to get back. I tried to be clear and honest about what I was looking for. I changed what profiles I viewed, and started to be really careful about who I contacted, or to whom I replied. If you had grammar or spelling errors in your profile - forget it. If you had no criteria - pass. I was looking for someone who was smart, funny, who knew what he wanted - but wanted to have fun while he was looking. A confident guy - but not cocky. [Click here if you're not sure what the difference is.]

Friends said I was being too picky. I said, we're talking about my happy, darn it, which I worked really hard to find. Call it what you want - picky, choosy, guarded - I would be all those things and more if it meant protecting my happy. If it meant I was alone for a while - or even forever - well, that was just fine.

Turns out - that was just about the best advice I ever gave myself.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fun 9/17/2010

I'm posting this as a comment on my friend's blog. What, you don't read Cute~Ella is Bold? Shame. Read this, then visit her site. You won't be sorry. Plus, you're not working anyway.

Who would you call for bail money? I'd say my best friend, but if I'm in jail, she's very likely sitting next to me. So, probably my father. He's not really judgmental, he doesn't say much - and he'd have the money.

Most dangerous (or seemed like a good idea at the time) experience of your life, that you survived and/or avoided needing to make that call for bail money? Does dating count? I've dated some questionable fellas that could have easily landed me in jail and/or the ER.

Have you ever read a book that really changed the way you look at things? What was the book? Oh boy - Cute Ella will love this. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It taught me a lesson in tolerance, dignity and respect. It also gave me some insight as to how perspective works, and why you should never judge a book by its cover.

Three pet peeves?
Grammar/Spelling errors - just carelessness in general, I guess
Cooked carrots in my fried rice
When people say one thing and then do another

Favorite scent?
My favorite perfume
My favorite guy's shirts

Fill in:

You do your thing; I do mine and sometimes it will be the same, and won't that be nice?

The fact that I worry a lot about what to say is what's been on my mind on and off all day.

Remember when we all had jobs we really liked? When did it stop being fun?

Twitter, blogging and shopping are three of my favorite obsessions.

During the last year I've learned what it truly means to be happy.

Finding great shoes on sale always puts a smile on my face.

And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include nothing concrete yet (which is my favorite plan for a Saturday) and Sunday I want to do more of the same.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Karma is the Best Revenge

Long story short, the other night I needed to move my clothes washer. I prefer to be independent and strong and do things on my own Unfortunately, I'm not built for moving major household appliances. So, after 60 minutes, 1 strained neck, 2 pulled muscles and about 100 sore foot bones (I dropped it on my foot), I admitted I might need some help. My first choice was unavailable. I hesitated for a while about the next most obvious choice - X. 

Turned out, he needed something from my garage anyway. And it's no big deal - we're friends, he doesn't live far and my house is on his way home. My hesitancy was that I might upset someone in his life, who I suspected would not like him stopping at my house.

But, the darn washer wasn't moving on its own, and I'd already strained more muscles than I could afford. So, I explained my situation and asked for his help when he stopped by. It took him 5 minutes [whatever....], and he was on his way. But he did mention that I was right - she was upset. Apparently, she doesn't like that he's always helping his friends.  

"Funny," I said - and he rolled his eyes. "I know, I know..." Ironically, that was how their relationship started - only at that time I was the wife and she was calling and texting him at all hours, asking for every kind of help there was. Here she is, three years later, upset because he's out helping others. 

My first reaction was, "Gee, I'm glad. I'm happy she's sitting at home right now, worrying. I hope she's crying and sick to her stomach. Because when I was there, she didn't care that she was doing it to me." Revenge felt good....briefly.

Then I realized something - it doesn't matter. Truth be told - I'm over it. Then (almost to my own horror) I realized I actually felt bad at the idea that she might have been upset, when there truly is no reason for her to be. [My inner-16-year-old is saying "ewwww" to feeling bad, but there it was.] I also felt bad that my friend (X) helped me out, and because of that, he's in a bad position. 

Karma. It's a bitch.
After he left, I got to thinking about Karma. They (and by they, I mean Wayne Dyer) say, "How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." If that's true, then I guess her karma is how she treated me. She wanted what she wanted, and she didn't care how much I (or anyone else) suffered. Now, she's feeling those consequences first hand. 

So what's my Karma? If it's true what they say, then by not enjoying her pain, I should have some good Karma heading my way.

Which, may be the best revenge after all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Net Worth

A friend of mine recently broke up with a guy she'd been seeing casually for a couple of months. How did it happen? A mutual friend posted on his facebook wall, inviting him and his girlfriend (not my friend) to a party.

Are you ready to share with him?

It reminded me of a post I did about netiquette - social guidelines (or etiquette) for the online world. Things like not ignoring someone (or turning your back on someone during a conversation), not having private conversations in public and presenting yourself in a respectful, courteous manner. All things that hold true in real life, that should also apply to online relationships. 

It occurred to me that I left one very important item off of the list: Sharing important information.

Don't get me wrong - of course you should announce your engagement or your pregnancy or your new job via facebook, twitter, and whatever other ways you like. No doubt you have friends with whom that is your major communication; if you don't share, they won't know, and that is what makes friendships great.

Before you share, just think about this: Is there anyone with whom you have more than an online relationship, that might deserve to hear your news in a more personal way? Maybe your mother doesn't want to find out that you are getting married because your cousin's congratulatory wall post shows up in her facebook feed? Or maybe your best friend would prefer you tell her in person that you're moving 500 miles away, rather than "overhearing" it on twitter?

Every relationship is different; that's not new. When you were younger, you probably had a best friend to whom you told everything first. Maybe when you did get engaged, you wanted to make sure your parents knew before anyone else. Or maybe since you found that new "other" you've been telling him everything before you put it on twitter.

That's what I'm talking about. I'm not saying you need to adopt a whole new set of rules for who you tell what, and when. Just think before you share. Make sure you're treating your relationship with the respect it deserves. After all - you don't want the most important people in your life to feel as though their worth has been reduced.

Do you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Listening Says a Lot

For years, I tried to hide my flaws. Then I realized I was doing myself, and others, a horrible disservice by pretending. I was setting false expectations, which would eventually lead to others thinking I had either been deceitful, or had been replaced with a pod person. So, now, I have a (basically) full-disclosure policy. Here are a few things people should know about me.

  • I make a lot of mistakes
  • I'm clumsy and not graceful at all
  • My edit chip does not always work; and even if it does, my face usually gives me away
  • If you don't want the truth, I'm the wrong person to ask
  • I'm smart, but sometimes lack common sense
  • I'm open-minded, but firm in my convictions (I'll listen to any point of view. If I feel strongly about something, you could convince me otherwise, but it won't be easy.)

I'm open to advice from people who I respect - but I'll be honest, this is a pretty short list. One thing I dislike is being told how to feel, or why my feelings are wrong. For example, I once went on a first date with someone who immediately felt the need to criticize the fact that I am a Yankee fan - but not an A-Rod fan. He dismissed my reasons, and spent the entire date trying to convince me why I should feel otherwise.   

Conversations like this made me feel like the other person didn't think my thoughts or feelings were valid. It also seemed as though they felt if I just listened to their wisdom, I would see the error in my ways. It felt disrespectful and judgmental. Which, honestly, caused me to shut down - or worse, get defensive.  

What you see depends
on how you look.
It's funny how time, and a few life changes, can affect your point of view. I'm no longer sure that people mean anything when they behave this way. In fact, I wonder if some people even realize what they're doing? It might be coming from a genuine place; they may actually be trying to help, and not trying to disrespect me at all. 

Why the change? I'm more open to people. I spend more time focused on what others think and say, and less time worrying about how it makes me feel. I'm also more secure in who I am and what I have to say - which has made me less concerned with what others think about me. [Although, I still care what those respected few think, and I'm okay with that.]

Something else I've noticed? The way I communicate is different. People listen to me more, and open up to me more as well. Is it possible, before I noted how I was being treated, that I might have been guilty of it myself? They say that traits you dislike in others are often traits you possess, but do not notice, in yourself. If that's the case, then it turns out learning to listen has made me a better communicator all the way around. Who knew?

But please note: I still don't like to be disrespected - and I think my ability to detect disrespect has also improved. Also, I won't ever like A-Rod. If you don't believe me, you could ask that guy from my date. If you see him, tell him I said hi.  

Monday, September 13, 2010


I was in my living room one day last fall, chatting with a friend online. All of a sudden, a message pops up from someone who I don't recognize. Strange, I think - I haven't given this IM out to anyone in a while. I open the message, and it's a guy who says we met at an online dating site. Okay - maybe it was a while ago and he's just getting around to contacting me. We chatted briefly and then I ended the conversation. I never added him to my contacts, and I never approved being added to his.

A couple of days later, something similar happened; but with a different person. Then again - and then again. Finally, I ask one of them how he got my IM. His answer? "It was on your profile, silly!" 

I'm sorry?

With help from a guy friend who also had a profile on the same site, I found I had two profiles on this website - one that I had created, and one that I had not. The impostor profile used a nearly-identical user name, and was nearly accurate. Some of the facts were adjusted; it showed me as being a couple of years younger, with a two-year (instead of four) degree and it listed me as a Gemini, which is close, but not quite right. It displayed a picture I had once used on my real profile. And it did, in fact, display my IM/Email address prominently in the "About Me" section.


I emailed the customer service team and explained the situation. I asked them to remove the profile, which they did immediately. They would not, however, give me the email address that was used to set up the profile. Doing so would violate their privacy policy; if I wanted it, I'd have to present documents legally compelling them to release the information.

I let it go. First, I was actually happy that they had a strict privacy policy, to which they clearly adhered. Second, there really hadn't been any harm done. The only information shared was my IM/Email, and it's easy enough to block users. It was an annoyance more than anything. 

It did teach me several valuable lessons about meeting people online. Interested? Here they are, in no particular order.

~ Clean up your facebook profile, paying special attention to the contact information you're sharing. No matter how secure you think your profile is, the information you display is easily accessible - which makes it easily shared. I don't care how many hours you spent clicking all 80+ privacy settings - it's still the internet. 

~ Establish an IM/Email address that is not easily associated with you. Use that consistently when you share contact info with someone you meet online. Then you'll know for certain to whom you gave your contact information, and who might have gotten it  somewhere else. 

~ Google yourself. I know, it sounds so ego-centric [and a little creepy] but knowledge is power. Other people are doing the same thing, especially new people whom you've just met. You need to know what they're seeing, and you need to know what information is out there that you didn't share.

~ Search dating sites for yourself. I have girlfriends with online profiles who have told me that they routinely search the other female profiles to "check out the competition." I can honestly say that never occurred to me. I did start searching the female profiles after the impostor profile was removed - to make sure it never showed up again. 

Come to think of it - this might be good advice no matter how you're meeting potential dates.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hidden Agenda

I talk to people online a lot. All day, in fact. Most of the back-and-forth is normal conversation. A link is posted, a comment is made, and - poof! - a conversation is born. We're just sharing - sports, politics, entertainment, local name it, we chat about it. Not unlike any other community - except we don't have to dress up and no one is wasting any gas.

Every now and then, I'll catch an exchange between people that looks out of place. I wonder how I would feel if I knew my significant other was having that conversation with someone other than me. It's all public, so anyone could see what I'm seeing. But I think, if I were in different shoes, would I be worried about what was happening in private?

I've had a couple of friends tell me that their online activity has created some problems in their relatonships. So, I'm not the only one asking these questions. But I do have some experience with this kind of thing, which gives me a unique perspective. I could go on and on about how it's disrespectful, hurtful, etc. to do anything outside your relationship that resembles flirting, or something that might spark another relationship.

I could. But I won't. Here's why.

No one is wrong to have a life. That includes relationships, of all kinds. The thing is, part of your "significant relationship" is listening to the other person and respecting what he has to say. If he comes to you with a concern and you ignore or dismiss him - now you're wrong. You may not agree that there is a problem - but you signed up to be part of the solution. 

Maybe your outside relationships really are crossing a line. Maybe you are being disrespectful. Or maybe, there's something else going on that's causing a lot of unnecessary worry. So, you fix that, and the rest falls into place. You'll never know until to you talk and work it out.

Every person, and every relationship, is different. What works for some won't work for others. But here's one rule that I think makes sense for everyone: Don't do anything you feel like you need to hide.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Small Favors

I've posted before about some of the less-than-stellar guys I met through online profiles. There were a few "jerky" moves that I left off the list because I thought they were worthy of their own post. Yeah - they're that good [I think so, anyway].

Carrie Bradshaw & her Russian.
I met "The Russian" online last July. [He actually was Russian and his name was tough to pronounce; I mostly like the SATC reference. :)]  We chatted online often, and we did so for several weeks before he asked me to go out.   

The thing was, although I liked chatting with him, I was having trouble getting over someone. So, even though I wanted to meet someone new - I didn't really think it was fair, and I cancelled our date. The Russian persisted, saying he'd "invested all this time" getting to know me, and to please at least give him a chance. 

On the advice of a friend, I relented and said we could meet. Great, he said. Then he asked if I'd like to chat online for a little while. Sure, I said - what shall we chat about? I suggested movies, music, or (as a joke) homosexuals in the military. [In retrospect, maybe I was trying to pick a fight, because I was so turned off from the whole "meeting people" thing. But, it was his choice and he could have just as easily picked music. So there.]

We started chatting, and the topic shifted to same-sex marriage. I've posted before about my feelings on this topic. Here was his take:

  • Same-sex marriage threatens the value society places on the marital relationship 
  • That value is responsible for wives being treated with respect, and given things such as health benefits, alimony, etc. 
  • As a woman, I should oppose same-sex marriage because it's a threat to those benefits, which I (along with all women) need because we are the weaker sex....
I'm not sure if blood can actually boil, or if that is just a figure of speech. If it can happen, it was happening to me right then. I honestly can't remember ever being that angry with anyone (with the possible exception of my ex during our worst fights). But, wait - he wasn't finished....
  • When I objected to his view of women as the weaker sex, he informed me that he expected me to react that way. Why? Well, you see, because American women have all become completely irrational. It's a side effect of the women's rights movement.
I about flew through the roof. Had it not been for the fact that my house-mate and her two small children were downstairs, I probably would have thrown my laptop across the room. I was that mad. Thank goodness for small favors, and we had this conversation via IM. If I'd had this conversation with him in person, there's a very good chance the title of my blog would be "My Life Behind Bars."  


Anyway... What's my point? This was a situation where meeting and chatting online worked to my advantage. I'm sure The Russian was a nice guy in many ways, and I do hope he's found someone that makes him happy. I would not have been that woman, and I knew that from the beginning, which I think was probably the real reason I cancelled the date. I never wasted any energy in choosing an outfit, picking a venue, or forcing conversation. The entire, albeit short-lived, relationship took place online. I was free to talk with other friends, watch TV, read a book - whatever - while I took the time to find out he wasn't the guy for me. 

How's that for multi-tasking?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lesson Learned

I have a friend who keeps asking me when it will be her turn to be happy. She's waiting for everything to fall perfectly into place and for her life to look the way she pictured it years ago. Can I tell her when that will happen? Of course not - I can't even tell her if it will ever happen. What I can tell her is that she can be happy whenever she wants to be; it's up to her to decide.

Her response is usually that does not work for her. That everyone around her has it so much easier and she has no one to help her. She never gets a break, and it's been one thing after another for several years - and she's waiting for her turn. She seems upset with me, like she wishes I either had a better answer, or I would be as miserable as she.

The thing is, I do understand how she feels. I used to feel the same.

For too long, I thought happiness was something I was searching for. I thought it was a goal; a destination - and I thought it was alluding me. People would say to me all the time, "You decide when you're happy" or "You make your own happiness." I thought - pffft, that's ridiculous. Happiness is what happens when you have x, y or z happen. Some of us just aren't that lucky.

It turns out that I was woefully mistaken.

Happiness isn't something you find. It isn't a place that you go, or a person that you meet, or a thing that you do. Happiness doesn't happen to you. It is a quality; a state of mind. It's how you feel; how you approach life. Happiness is your attitude - it's something you make happen.

My friend disagrees. Her take is that I'm happy because my life fell into place and everything just goes my way. Well that's just not the case. I suppose I could tell her that I don't always feel secure with myself or my relationships. I could let her in on the fact that my financial situation has it's ups, and some extreme downs. I could lay it at her feet that I go to a job every day that I hate, knowing that I'll likely be laid off eventually. I could also remind her of everything I had to go through to get to this point. All the low points that my life hit before I finally decided I was done letting others decide my feelings for me.

Just smile.
But then I'd have to shift my focus to all that negativity. I prefer to focus on the fact that I have a job, for which I'm grateful. That I've learned in the last few years how to feel better about myself, and found ways to meet people, so that I feel more confident in myself and in my relationships. I want to focus on the time I spend laughing and smiling - which I've never had before. I want to be happy that, even though I don't always have the money to do what I want, I have what I need, and that's more than many.

I want my focus to be on the good in life. More than that, I want to put good into my life, so that I get good back. Like it says here.

Most of all, I want to stop apologizing for having learned this lesson first.