Those Two Magic Corners

With Winter finally coming to a dramatic close this past week, we are left with the memory of bitter temperatures, snow days, and potholes.  It can be a very frustrating season for some people for various reasons.  Not much sunlight, shorter days, very cold days, getting snowed in, running out of bread, milk, and eggs can contribute to forms of depression.  What about those who find this season emotionally draining?  For some, it’s hard to find happiness getting through the holidays, even with an army of family around.  Are you making time to exercise those important muscles?  I’m not talking about your quads or some latest fitness fad.  I’m talking about your smile.

How often are we shuffling around too busy with life’s demands and forget to smile?  There are times where it can make a strangers day, week, or even their year just to experience a warm, friendly smile.  It makes them feel welcomed, appreciated, and a part of society.  It can be more powerful than anything else.  This transaction can happen anywhere too.  Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or casually walking through a park – let friendliness win.  These small steps can impact not just your life, but those around you.

With a new season in bloom, Spring brings wonderful opportunity with its longer, warmer days,  and Italian Ice.  Are we doing more than just the usual Spring Cleaning?  How about we challenge ourselves to Spring Clean our attitudes.  Leave the doldrums with Old Man Winter and put a smile between you and that attractive stranger.  You never know who that other person could be in your life, so take a chance.  It will start a chain reaction to others that is free with no requirements.

If you have a friend or acquaintance you haven’t heard from in a while, why not make contact?  See that stressed out Mom in aisle 6?  Offer her a friendly grin with empathy.  That may be something she desperately needed all week.  Do you know someone who needs this reminder?  Definitely pass it along to them.  That small phrase, “I was thinking about you” can mean a lot to someone and put a much needed smile on their face.

In our modern time, it is so easy to get lost in the functions of your smart phones or tablets.  It is very easy to avoid making eye-contact anymore because we are adapting the ability to walk, talk, chew gum, and text on our devices.  Social contact is being smothered by technology, and it is evident in the way most people treat each other in every day situations.  I have seen people so hardened by being bothered because they had to look away from their hand held device for a mere 10-15 seconds.  Let’s make a conscience effort to reconnect, reflect, and encourage a smile.  Happiness is not that hard to find if we are willing to look for it.  Make a strangers day and yours will be made as well.

 

IMG_4518Early morning baby deer friend.  I said, “Hey,” we made eye contact and then he or she went back to eating.

 

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On and Off Again?

It is a reality that in our modern age that meeting that special someone may require an internet connection.  So many people  are just too busy to get out there and meet people the old fashion way.  I know a lot are also tired of meeting people in the bar/club setting, and don’t feel you can easily meet someone at the grocery store.  I will agree that meeting someone in a bar is likely to not end well.  Drunk decisions tend to not be the best decisions.  That is why I feel there are a lot of positives and more possibilities to meeting people online.  You are able to get a feel of who they are, their interests and goals faster than meeting once and having intermittent phone conversations and endless text messages that seem to go nowhere.  But what happens when those online relationships never get off the ground?  They go in circles for a variety of reasons, and can sometimes go on for what feels like forever.

I do feel that with keeping that distance between two people, it is a safety net for one or both parties.  There is minimal risk in getting hurt if all you two are doing is trading words typed through a computer for what feels like ages.  I also feel that sitting behind a computer gives some a sense of confidence that they would never have in person.  They would never have the guts to talk to the woman of their dreams or the man of their dreams if they encountered them in a bookstore, grocery or a bar.  They would have missed that chance entirely over their own insecurities and fear.  Who wants to be rejected?  It’s not a nice feeling at all for anyone.

What about the other side of modern dating with this influx of online dating?  The disturbing amount of people who are either married or are already in committed relationships with other people that pretend to be single?  It can be very obvious when you encounter a married man or woman.  They usually aren’t looking to get serious in any way possible.  They want to meet up in areas that are not local to where they live, or where they may run into someone, or they only want to spend time at your place.  The flip side, they will only want you on their time and the “relationship” may not materialize in the real world.  They are always too busy for you, and refuse to make time. These people use all available dating sites, free or paid, trolling for whatever they can find.

 

Tips to avoid pitfalls:

  • Utilize Google Search:  Most people are not crafty Bond villains and use the same screen name for just about everything  – even personal and professional emails.  If you have met someone who you think is the bee’s knees, check them out.  Empower yourself with knowledge so you aren’t just another notch on their belt.
  • Is there really chemistry?:  Be mindful of who you are talking with.  If they immediately are demanding you send them endless pictures of yourself, some of which are semi nude, drop them.  It’s disrespectful and they are only after one thing – plus you aren’t the only one they are engaging with in that manner.  Look for that natural flow of conversation, even if you are only talking about something simple.  If you click, let it grow.
  • Real Time Dating:  When you first meet someone, you should look to connect in person as soon as possible.  Let’s break this section down first.  If he or she is coming off as a creep, do not bother with them.  If he or she gives you a bad vibe, do not bother with them.  Are you getting the idea?  Use your better judgement.  People give neon sign like clues about who they are.  It is up to you to read them.  Learn to ask them questions about who they are and what they are looking for in the long run.  When I say connect in person as soon as possible it should be in a very public location and it should be very casual.  Why get stuck through an entire dinner with someone you don’t actually like?  Don’t get mixed up with someone who would rather waste your time than work to build a life with you.  You are important and your time is just as important.
  • Practice safe sex:  I can not stress this enough!  Condoms are a lot cheaper than raising a child.  Plus, you won’t have to take a pack of condoms to court over child support or custody issues.
  • Are you happy?:  It is a simple question.  Does this person make you happy?  Do you look forward to your conversations together or spending time together?  If yes, then great!  I wish you all the best.  If not, start preparing for an exit.  Life is just too short to continue going around and around again.

There is a lot of truth to the saying if someone is serious about you, they will make it known and they will make plans with you in both the long and short term.  This is true for any medium of where you can meet someone.  Remember to take care of yourself before you start losing it to someone else.  Be aware, be empowered and let love find you, not the other way around.

How Do You Make it Work?

With all of our modern distractions, how is it possible to sustain a long term relationship?  This goes for any couple, married or otherwise.

I was in a supermarket recently and saw a young couple doing their shopping together.  They had a grocery cart filled with mutual home item needs, yet the woman seem more interested in the experience than the guy.  While I was grabbing the few items I needed, I noticed  he was quick to start walking away from her, not really giving her an explanation as to why he was walking away.  It was a bit awkward to be honest.  She quickly regained some dignity by telling him she was going to be in another department.  I would venture to say she was a bit hurt by the whole exchange, judging by her body language and tone in her voice.  It made me think about what I usually ask my coupled up friends – how do they make things work in their relationship?  Even in instances as small as grocery shopping together.   I am a firm believer in comparing and contrasting experiences with other people because it is one way to learn more about yourself and your situation.  I’m not saying that you should always compare yourself and your relationships to others because that isn’t healthy.  But hey, if couple X makes special time for adventure instead of the usual go-to Netflix weekends – why not make a consideration?

What does it mean to make time for adventure?  Adventure can be as grand as multiple vacations through out the year or as simple as date nights, dance lessons, wine tasting – whatever makes sense for the two of you.  Of course life and its complications can add reasons to make you say things like, “well, not this month” or “not this year” – that’s another unrealistic roadblock.  If it’s finances that are holding you back, look into where you are spending your money.  Plan a budget at the start of each year, quarter, month and week  – if you aren’t that anal, creating a budget each month helps in planning some fun.  You will be surprised at how much you can save when you maintain an accurate budget.   There are a lot of great local things to try in most areas, especially if you live close to a metropolitan area.  There are various sites that offer ideas and coupons; just be sure to check reviews and leave reviews.    If it’s children that hold you back, work with other families that you trust to swap out babysitting duties.  It is a great low cost (if not free) idea that works for short term.  Try to not take advantage of others’ time.  It’s not right and not fair.

What if your adventure is just making time for each other?  That genuine friendship between two people, the talking, sharing and emotionally giving time?  As much as I love to be out on the town, listening to live music and dancing, I do enjoy the more quiet types of adventure.  Walking along the beach together, quiet dinners for two in dimly lit restaurants – you know, all the super romantic stuff.  I love the intimacy and getting to know more about your partner.  There are things about them that don’t change but there are a lot of things that do change as time goes on and they go through different experiences,  and it is important to keep the dialogue open, constructive and positive.  You fell in love with him or her for a reason and in 60 years, you will want to be able to readily list those reasons as to why you are still together.  Plus it is always good to share those reasons with each other.

Whether you have been together, married, living together – whatever – for 5 minutes or 5 years find out your dynamic and feed it.  Don’t let the, “oh, we can do it next month” create gaps.  Life is too short waiting for tomorrow, next month or next year.  Appreciate the time you have together now, and make the most of every moment.  Technology has caused us to not appreciate spoken word, written language, and palpable emotions in others.  We are forever waiting for that next second impulse or tone from our handheld devices to alert us of how we should feel for that brief moment.  Take the time to turn things off, set the mood and get back to what’s important:  finding what makes things work.

What are some ways you build your relationship that actually works?  What are things that you have tried that ultimately failed?

What’s Your Love Song?

It is that time of year again.  You know, worrying about what to do for Valentine’s Day.  Should we go out?  Should we go away?  Will he finally propose?  Instead of the traditional ways to celebrate, why not change things and create a new tradition for you and your partner, or if you are single, for yourself?  There are so many ways to celebrate that don’t have to include something that is overly sexual.

Married / Long term relationship:  You had better put some serious effort into whatever you are doing.  Whether it is a nice dinner out on the town, or a special candle lit dinner for just the two of you, it needs to be something personal and with thought behind it.  You should know your partner well enough to know what they will find memorable and special.  Don’t forget the flowers either and a gift.  I suggest you two hire a babysitter (if you have kids) and cook together.  If you both aren’t the cooking type, enroll in a class together.  Plan to start something that will help you two grow together and just have fun.

Somewhat serious dating:  This is when you have been with the person under a year and have only recently decided to become exclusive.  This doesn’t require that much of a commitment on Valentine’s Day but fresh flowers and a simple gift works best.  This does not require the big ta-do, even though a lot of you expect it.  It’s not fair to expect all of that from someone you have a fresh commitment with.  Valentine’s Day is not a competition.

Casual daters / Single people:  If you and your current other half haven’t made plans yet for the big day, don’t sweat it.  In fact, I’d suggest you and your single friends go out to a singles party that night or plan to have your own singles mixer.  This is a great way to meet other singles or just make a new friend.  It doesn’t have to be overly done and can simply be a pizza, beer and Netflix night.  Break out your baking tools and create Valentine’s Day cookies or a cake together.  It can turn very intimate if need be.

Family Valentine’s Day Party:  It is a growing trend for kids to be part of the celebration.   I know some schools still have parties dedicated to handing out Valentine’s Day cards, candy, cookies and other sweet treats.  Don’t stress that all the food and desserts have to be red or pink in color – the fact that you are spending quality time together as a family means more and will have a lasting impression.

Get creative this year, and don’t break the bank – unless you were planning on buying that $10k ring.  There are plenty of ways to make this romantic holiday special instead of handing out a coupon book for free hugs.  It is important to remember to give and share – love is more than expectations, pressure and jewelry.

 

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What are you planning to do this year?  Like/Comment/Share

Turning Over the Amber Leaves

Between the pumpkin flavored things, lists being made in anticipation for the holidays and those growing out your facial hair for charity, remember to take a moment to smile and spread some love.  It’s can be as grand as taking a relationship to the next level or as simple as  sharing a friendly smile with someone in pain.

Actions matter – do them wisely.

Sunflowers

What really is the best way to deal with disappointment?  Over eating?  Over drinking? Obsessing on Facebook?  I’m not really sure the answer to this myself because depending on the situation and how grave the said disappointment, you may want to do all that I’ve already mentioned – if not more, right?

My recent excursion down the trail of disappointment of course deals with my love life.  I called a good friend of mine earlier to vent a bit about the past month and to talk shop about moving forward and realistic expectations for the coming month.  I may be down for a bit but I refuse to stay down.  Giving others power over you is dangerous and worthless.  This past month I have dealt with a lot of issues from past relationships and potential new ones that I have been trying to change within myself as well.  I made a deal with myself a year ago to change my behavior and some of my ways and try to date new and different kinds of people because what I was doing before wasn’t working.   I ended up alone more often than I cared to be.  I decided to open myself up to new kinds of men; men who before I would never consider dating because I would consider them too heavy a risk.  Yes, I look at dating in the form of accounting – whether he is an asset or a liability.  It’s just who I am.  In the beginning of the relationship things went okay.  I let go of some things and proceeded with caution.  You only live once, may as well take a risk and find out.

Time went by and I ended up in a new relationship.  Things were okay for a while until reality set in and my previous checks & balances that would have told me to not bother with this guy were coming up like red flags in a bad soccer match.   My gut/intuition/whatever you want to call it kept telling me to end things and move on, no matter how hard it may be.  How can you go one minute wondering if this is the kind of compromise they talk about when moving forward to getting married?  I also contemplated that was it my own fears holding me back from moving forward too?  Sadly, those red flags were turning quite serious and I knew it was time to go.

Fast forward to dating others more recently, still trying to be optimistic, hoping that if I try something different, maybe that will lead me to someone I am able to feel safe with.  Nothing has stuck yet and the old temptations to previous encounters swing in and out as if being offered a warm bowl of ice cream.  It’s tempting but easy to resist.  I wouldn’t say I was lowering my standards.  It was more not being as picky as I can be.  My philosophy is to wait for that right one, not waste years of my life tied to the wrong one.  What I realized after chatting with my friend earlier is that I am okay being single.  My life is filled with a lot of great people and adventures that maybe, right now this is all I need.

It’s important not to be envious of others.  What some have, they may have had to sacrifice everything for a moment of fleeting happiness.  I do believe that a strong marriage is more important than just being someone’s wife.  I also believe  that a good marriage can exist, even in our modern time.  I just know that it’s not my time yet.  If or when that time comes I will be ready, but I am content to wait.  I know me of 5 years ago would have thought the me now is crazy for even thinking that but wisdom comes with age.  There are more important things in life than the selfishness of others in bad relationships, or pride for that matter.

As far as I know, for me, if I don’t feel that he is the right fit, I will politely say,  “no thank you,” and patiently wait my turn.  I deserve that.

Happy 4th to You & Yours!

It’s Independence day here in the US and most people are doing the bbq thing, worrying about how much food they should or shouldn’t cook.  I want to take a moment to remind us to remember what this day is really in celebration of and how much further we need to go in American and as Americans.  Equality is still being fought for, as is maintaining our freedom by those overseas and stationed here within the US borders.  It’s not a day to worry about how many Pinterest ideas you have for an American flag dessert or table scape; remember those who we have lost, are losing to PTSD and those who are braving the choice by enlisting.

For those sitting around enjoying a day off, reach out to those who may not have family in the area.  Fellowship with your neighbors, or make a new friend today.

Happy 4th of July everyone!   Stay safe, thankful and free.