After getting a divorce, I signed up for online dating sites, read tons of articles about dating and signed up for all kinds of newsletters on dating advice.
I’m approaching my second divorce anniversary (divorceary?), and I was cleaning out my junk email inbox. The many subject lines from these dating newsletters frustrated me.
“Top 3 mistakes women make that cause men to lose attraction”
“If you’d only known the right thing to say to him…”
“Can your clothes really help you attract the guy you want?”
“Playfully say this if you want him to ache for you all day long”
“A simple way to change his mind and his heart”
All I can say is, are you kidding me?
All of these emails imply that there is something wrong with women. That if we change just a bit, we can catch the man of our dreams.
Women (and probably men too) have enough criticism coming at them. I’m considered an attractive woman, and I do believe that, but there are days when I look in the mirror and all I see are flaws. Most people have those days. We don’t need someone giving us dating advice about how we need to change to attract the right man.
This advice gives the underlying message that men are perfect beings and we just need the right bait to attract that elusive fish. This advice is similar to what a girlfriend told me soon after my divorce. She said I needed to start listening to country music to catch a man, “Um, no.” (I have started listening again, but not to catch a man. I realized that, I do, in fact, like some country music after going to a few concerts with friends.)
But, I’m not going to change my clothes, my look, what kind of music I listen to, or who I am to attract any man. They would be attracted to an imposter anyway and what fun that would be?
I do believe in personal growth. We can all become a better version of ourselves. And I do take time to reflect on how I could've handled a difficult situation better whether that’s a conversation with one of my children, a coworker, friend or a someone I’m dating. But that is just life and what you should do to become a better, happier person.
I want to become a more effective communicator, a more giving person who can stand firm on my boundaries and on how I should be treated. But I want to communicate that in a firm but kind way.
And I know there are things I’ve done to push someone away and there are things men have done to push me away. But that is part of the learning process.
One guy barely communicated in a passive and passive-aggressive way and pushed me away, and another over communicated and pushed me away. It’s different for everyone. There’s no magic bullet, no secret sequence of words on how to catch a woman or man.
Heck, I can’t even tell you what the magic amount of communication is for me.
What I can say is that open, direct, assertive (not aggressive) communication with me is key. Being able to say what you want and need is critical because otherwise how can the other person know if it will ever work or if they can deliver?
In the movie Field of Dreams the voice says, “build it and they will come.” So, here’s my dating advice: Be the best version of you and the right person will come. Make yourself happy.
The right person will be attracted to you for being you. And I can tell you from experience that I don’t want to date someone who is trying to be someone else. That mask falls off eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later).
I believe in being the most authentic and genuine person you can be. That is how you attract the person of your dreams not by clicking through an email to learn exactly what to say and when. Or to try and guilt you into thinking if you had only known a few key words to capture their heart you wouldn’t have lost them.
When you show up and are vulnerable with the person you are talking to, you are giving your all, and that’s all any of us can hope for. Sometimes it’s a good match and sometimes, not so much.
“If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall.” Brene Brown
When we were kids, we fell, we got up and we tried again. It is what we were taught… I had some pretty serious falls growing up and learned lessons from each of them. What I’ve realized as an adult is that I was more fearless as a child than I am as an adult.
Around the time I started elementary school, I decided that I would roller skate up a steep asphalt incline that was probably way steeper than I should have attempted. I got a couple of strides in before I fell, my knees and elbows hit first, but then I hit my chin and I bit thru my tongue. Blood went everywhere, I skated the rest of the way home for my mother to bandage me up and ask what in the world I was thinking. I learned not to roller-skate up hill, that there are better ways to fall than elbows and knees first and that some scars never go away. While the scars may remain, I also learned that you can and must learn to forget about them.
Another time, I was at my grandparents’ lake house with my cousins. We were jumping off a couch even though we’d been told numerous times not to. All of the adults were outside and we thought we could jump further if we gained enough height. I landed on the coffee table chin first and put a hole through my mentolabial sulcus (that indented part between your lower lip and chin). I still have that scar and learned a practical lesson: if you’re going to jump, the area should be clear.
Before my grandfather passed away, he decided (after much pestering on my part) to let me learn to ride a moped. I was in 4th or 5th grade. I knew how to balance and drive down the road fairly well, so I tried to turn in the street. I didn’t have the feel for giving it enough gas and turning part.
The first time, I turned too sharply and dumped the moped on top of me. That didn’t work, so the next time, I tried taking a wider turn but let off the gas too much and dumped the moped again. Take three: I took a wider turn and gave it more gas. I almost made it, but then didn’t turn sharp enough and gave it too much gas. I aimed straight for the curb and flipped over the moped. It was the first time I actually saw stars (like in the cartoons). It knocked the breath out of me and scared my grandfather to pieces. The third time was not a charm for me, but I got back up and did it right the next time.
Each of those falls taught me something. In elementary school I was more pragmatic, willing to learn and let my ego go than I am as an adult.
For whatever reason, as we age, many of us say that falling hurts more. It bruises our ego when we feel we should’ve learned a particular lesson earlier in life. The past several times I went skiing, I kept saying I wanted to learn how to snowboard, but I backed down because I didn’t know if I had it in me to repeatedly fall (fail) and get back up and do it again. I lacked the bravery I had when I was a kid. Sometimes, we don’t allow ourselves to get into situations where we are likely to fail whether it’s learning something new, going for a job or promotion we want or just making ourselves vulnerable to another human being.
In the last couple of years, I’ve learned that falling isn’t so bad after all. I still carry the scars and the lessons learned from my many falls, but the wisdom and experience gained from each one is invaluable. My friends have seen me at my most vulnerable and still love me anyway. I earned a great deal of respect from my children seeing me fall and get back up. In fact, my connections with those people in my life are even stronger.
I learn a great deal from my falls, they make me wiser and stronger. I’ve become that same pragmatic little girl who picked the asphalt out of her knees and said, “Well that didn’t work” and tried it a different way.
We just have to remember that if we fall, we shouldn't be embarrassed or ashamed about it. It just means we are trying. We are putting ourselves through growth to become a better version of ourselves. So whether you’ve recently gone through a divorce and are putting your dating stilettos back on, or learning how to parent your child on your own, or are just feeling stuck, remember that falling doesn’t mean failure. It just means that that way didn’t work. Being brave doesn’t mean doing it right the first time. Being brave is falling repeatedly and getting back up again, stronger and wiser.
I don’t have a significant other this Valentine’s Day, I have something better: I have two incredible boys and a ton of friends and family who are simply irreplaceable. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a silly made-up holiday to sell a bunch of stuff that will either die (flowers), make you fat (sweets) or just reduce the size of your bank account (jewelry).
But what I love about it is that people everywhere celebrate love. So for the first time ever, I’m making myself my Valentine this year. I love me. I love that I sing loud and off-key in the car and at HEB and really just wherever the mood strikes me. I love that I dance in the open and dance in the rain. I love that I am often unintentionally funny because I do really silly things. I love that I don’t take myself seriously. I love that I’m generous, kind and forgiving. I love that I treat my body like a temple and sometimes like an amusement park. I love that I love amusement parks.
I love that I have courage to keep my boys’ lives steady even when it would be so much easier to move home or just anywhere else and start over. I love that I let myself be vulnerable when it would be easier to say that relationships are for the birds. I love that I have values and boundaries and that my favorite word is one you don’t hear in polite company.
So for all you single peeps celebrating today solo, cheers to you! I hope you remember to love and celebrate yourself today.
Making a change can be scary. But unless you’re in prison, you aren’t really stuck. You just can't make a decision…or can you?
When so much information is at our fingertips, we tend to research things to the nth degree. Analysis paralysis takes over. What if it doesn't work out? What if I fail? What if it isn't the right choice? Am I doing the right thing?
Those questions can swirl around your head with the same effect of water swirling down a toilet. They have the potential to empty you, to drain you, to paralyze you with fear… in short, they are unproductive and add no benefit to your mental health and happiness.
It's one thing to look at and weigh all your options within a reasonable timeframe. It's another thing if you let those choices bog you down. And it's quite another if you let someone else control you and your choices.
I listened when someone I loved told me I couldn't make it without him. He said I'd never be able to support myself, that no one would ever hire me because I'd been out of my career for too long. He told me I'd end up like his mother, dependent on others to help me out. He told me I was too old, too fat, too many kids and too ugly for anyone else to love me. He told me no one would ever love me like he did. (God, please I hope not. If so, I haven't done my due diligence.) He told me that when he was finished with me, I'd be homeless, penniless and I'd lose my children.
With encouragement like that, I was paralyzed with fear and indecision. Even though I knew in my head that those things he said about me were bogus, my heart sometimes would fall into despair and need a reminder that the lies were not real…and not me.
I’ve heard similar things from other women. I’m stuck, how can I support myself? Am I doing the right thing for my kids? Will they be mad at me? Will he turn them against me? Is this the best decision? What will people think if I stay? What will people think if I go?
In “The Power of Love” Sue Johnson lays out the physical effects of love. “Sociologists are also finding that our life partner is often our only reliable source of support and comfort. Love’s function is safety and survival.”
So what happens when that breaks down in a marriage and it’s hard to figure out what the best option is? “Emotional disconnection literally hurts. Brain scans show that rejection by someone we depend on is processed in the same part of our brain, and in the same way, as physical pain.”
Well, I finally stopped being paralyzed with fear. I decided that while I could not control the situation or even control him, I could control how I react to the situation and at least control me. I got back in shape and lost 10 lbs. I landed a full-time job and more than doubled my income from my flexible part-time job. From that moment in time, I stopped letting fear get in the way of making decisions. Even if the decisions may not always be perfect, they were my decisions and it was empowering.
If I thought it was a nightmare being in my marriage, it was nothing compared to what would come after I began to separate myself from my ex and everything that came after our divorce. In almost every instance I felt like it was a dance: two steps forward and one step back. Each chapter brought it’s own challenges and times when I felt stuck, scared and unsure. Fight or flight mode kicks in and makes decision-making nearly impossible.
I've heard from others who feel stuck in unhappy situations. I would never be so bold as to tell someone what decision they should make, but I will say that you shouldn’t be scared to make one. Life is now. Why stay stuck in an unhappy situation?
Some were unhappy and decided to make their marriage work. Others decided it was better to leave. But the end result and the point is that they made a choice to make their situation better.
I’ve had a few friends who were afraid about what other people would think about their decision. People will judge. They will take the kernel of information they have and make a decision about your situation. But you can’t live your life trying to please everyone. Because of what I’ve been through, I’ve heard from countless people who are going through all kinds of issues. You never know what someone is going through. Even those who judge you harshly are most likely dealing with their own issues.
Some people will judge you for leaving. Why didn’t you try harder? But no one else has to live your life. That’s your job. It’s your job to be the best you that you can be and to make yourself happy. You can’t spread joy if you don’t feel it yourself. What comes out of you is what is within you. So if you want to spread joy, you must have it to begin with.
I read somewhere that you should flip a coin, because in that singular moment you’re waiting for it to land, you typically figure out what is in your heart. I also seek advice from friends whose judgement I trust. With all of this information at our fingertips, we often forget to trust in our instincts and listen to our hearts.
You have to trust your decision making is what will lead to the best outcome, not necessarily the path itself. It is all within you if you choose to empower yourself.
The picture above was the trail I ran the other morning. I had no idea where it went or if it would take me in the right direction. But I knew that I would make the choice to enjoy the journey of discovery that this trail had to offer. So, I just kept running and the path lead me to this beautiful fountain. My run this morning was a physical reminder that sometimes you just have to have faith and keep going…
My aunt and uncle have this sign in their bathroom and it was the perfect reminder that a greater power has control of my life. I may not understand why things are happening the way they are, but I have faith that if I can control my fear, I won’t be stuck and God has it under control.
When you reach that point in a relationship where you know you aren’t going to fall for someone, it’s best to let go. He may be the best guy in the world on paper but not right for you. As they say, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You can’t make yourself fall in love. I believe it’s best to end it when you know it’s not going to move forward.
We are all going to die. I know that sounds morbid, but we are. Life is now. Settling for an okay relationship when I know I won’t be happy with someone is not something I’m willing to do. I’d rather be alone.
That doesn’t mean walking away from a good guy is easy. Walking away from a complete jerk would be a lot easier.
After all, that good guy says the right things at the right time. “Good morning, gorgeous” never gets old. He’s the guy who texts you during the day just to hope it’s going well.
He treats you the way you should be treated. He’s the guy that pays attention to the little things you like and remembers them. He remembers when you have something big going on and follows up with you about it.
He’s the guy who helps you do the things around your house that you need to do. He doesn’t do it because it helps him, he does it because it helps you and your children. If you’re going through something stressful, he lends an ear instead of running away.
He’s engaged. He's present. He knows how to open up and share himself with you. He makes himself vulnerable with you. He listens. He’s funny. He doesn’t avoid the hard things, he works at making the hard things easier. He’s stable. He’s honest. He’s genuinely a good guy.
So, what happens when you reach a point in the relationship where you just know you aren’t going to fall? It doesn’t matter how great he is, you know you’ll just never get there. It would be easy to stay because he’s so great. But is that fair? Is it fair to either of you really?
I chose to end it. I’m not going to lead someone on or let them continue to devote their time to me when I know that my feelings will never grow. It sucks because you’re letting go of something good, of someone good. I believe in being honest and open. He devoted his time and deserves to be treated with respect.
I can’t be selfish and hold on. It’s not fair to him and I want to protect our friendship and him. When you end it and show respect for the other person’s feelings, you protect that relationship. I want to protect our friendship and that mutual respect.
I’ve remained friends with about 90 percent of my past relationships. I think that’s important. There’s something that you saw in them. You got to know them and they got to know you. Just because the relationship didn’t work out, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. I value those friendships. You learn from those relationships and grow from them. I still keep in touch with some of my old boyfriends. They offer perspective and know me well.
With this guy, he told me that the thing he didn’t like about me is that I waste an incredible amount of water when I’m washing dishes. I confess, I do indeed (and when showering and brushing my teeth). My water bill was $170 last month. I think that had more to do with leaving the sprinkler on for two days (THAT’s what that sound was! smh).
So really, water conservationists should swipe left (left? or is it right? I forget). Anyway, they should probably just keep moving. My water habits are unlikely to change.
Beyond learning I’m horrible at water conservation, I’ve learned more about myself and what I want out of my next relationship. He quit his job to pursue his passion because he said I inspired him to do more and pursue his dreams. So hopefully we both gained more than we lost.
So, I will set this one free and hope he finds someone who falls head over heels for him, because that’s what he deserves. Good luck my friend. Life is now. Go get it!
Tips on Doing it Gently
My guy friend gives great advice and I know he has my best interests in mind. We met while working together last year and became great friends. We tried the dating thing but I had a lot going on and my heart was really with someone else so we’ve stayed friends.
Guy friends are solid, good friends. Like any good friend, he’ll pick up no matter what time of the day or night I call or text. His normal line is “well hello pretty lady” or some variation of that.
1. Having that guy perspective is awesome. I texted late one night because I couldn’t sleep but didn’t want to wake him up by calling. I texted, “Love sucks.” His reply was great. Noticing I was up way past my usual bedtime and knowing my situation, he replied, “Love doesn’t suck. People suck. Love is great.” Spot on. Guy friends point out when a guy is being a douche.
2. They give it to you straight. When I complained that someone was being an ass, he pointed out that I was being an ass too. Good point. Teachable moment for me. Sometimes you need someone who isn’t “in” the situation to show you what you’re doing and how it looks to a guy.
3. No drama.
4. No competition. There are no categories for which we would ever compete. Guy friends just look out for you and your best interests. They can also be your wingman and your body guard.
5. Hanging out is so low key. There’s no gossip. You can watch (or even play) sports with them. They don’t care if you stop listening to them or shush them during a really good or important play. They get it. You quite literally eat, drink and be merry. Going out is fun and funny. You get to try new “guy” things.
6. Compare notes from the “other” side. When I’m like WTF? He breaks it down and vice versa.
7. Respect. It’s really cool to just have that mutual respect from the opposite sex without someone always trying to get in your pants.
Stress messes with your tresses. All of the stress caused by a divorce can do all kinds of messed up stuff to your body. Hair loss and excessive dryness can be caused by: severe trauma, strict diet of low fat/low calories and extreme stress.
There are several ways to help prevent and combat hair loss and damage. So put on those combat boots, because you haven't heard this song in awhile, dig into a diet with healthy fats and use stimulating hair products. Then kick those heavy things off and relax because that helps too.
Eating a diet that is too low in fat or calories can be very detrimental to your hair. Sometimes you may not feel like eating, or cooking, or getting out of bed… But healthy fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, are good for your hair. Good fats help with hair’s health, strength, shine and overall texture. So remember to eat a healthy and beneficial diet. Fish, nuts, oils and avocados will definitely benefit your hair and your body.
There are many stimulating hair products on the market (not that kind of stimulating). Stimulating products (shampoo, conditioner and topical sprays) help increase circulation which will help to stimulate hair growth. Massaging your scalp will also help increase blood flow to tiny blood vessels, and will bring the supply of vital nutrients to your hair follicles. When you are sitting in front of the TV at night just massage your scalp with your nails in a circular motion, not too hard, for about 5-10 minutes. Plus it feels reeaaallly goood.
Take a moment every day to just be by yourself, even if it is just 5-10 minutes. Go sit in a quiet room and just breath. Even if this is in your car, just take a second to breath. Everything is going to be ok and you are going to be ok. Just taking a few minutes each day will help calm you and your body will appreciate it.
by Anna Craig, owner of Trashy Roots Salon
Suicide Blonde by INXS
I’m in the middle of spending an entire month without my kids. I’ve never gone this long without being with them. I distinctly remember my first five days without them and it was excruciating.
This is a whole lot longer than five days and I miss them, but it’s completely different this time. I still get to text, talk or FaceTime with them every day. Even it’s a short and sweet “I love you and miss you,” we touch base.
I miss seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter. I miss goofing around together, watching movies together, playing games and just hanging out. I miss their late night philosophical questions. I miss hearing, “I love you mommy” on a daily basis and seeing their eyes sparkle as they say it. I miss hearing about their dreams, goals and fears because that rarely comes up during a phone call. I do the mom thing and still worry about them daily (I’ve been told this never goes away).
However, this time is different because I’m in a different place. Maybe because of that I’ve approached this month in a completely different way than I approached that first five days. That first time I was focused on trying to fill that time with things to do just to keep my mind off of not having my kids because it felt like a loss. I was needy and needed my friends. This time I’ve approached it as a time to solely focus on me because when do you EVER get a month to focus on you?
So far, it’s been wonderful. I’ve read, danced all over my house with music blaring (and singing loudly and off-key), relaxed, made a significant dent in that ongoing to-do list, reconnected with old friends, hung out with my group, decorated my house, eaten a lot of delicious food, gone out and lived it up just like a vacation (except the whole working during the week thing, there's still weeknights).
I’ve also taken the time to do a lot of reflecting. Being alone in my very quiet house has been awesome and given me the opportunity to do a lot of soul-searching, analysis of the past and healing.
I feel myself settling back into who I was before I got married (hopefully a wiser and more experienced version, or Me 2.0). I’ve made mistakes, asked for forgiveness and more importantly learned from those mistakes and forgiven myself.
I’ve reached out to an old friend whose friendship I lost because of a person who is no longer a part of my life. It’s funny how close friends try to tell you something and you just aren’t ready to hear it or accept it. It’s hard to watch a friend be dragged down by a toxic relationship they refuse to leave. That conversation was healing and awesome because we had been so close and I never really had satisfactory answers as to why things broke down. Understanding brings healing and our friendship has picked back up. I’m thankful for that.
My sweet boys have a bumpy few months ahead of them. Not only because of transitioning to new schools (middle and high) and growing up, but also because of personal things about to happen in their lives. So this month has given me the chance to learn more about how I can be there for them, support them and guide them through it. I feel a lot more prepared as a parent.
Although these times apart from our children can be hard, finding a way to make this time about you is truly is a rare gift to recharge.
Vacation, The Go-Gos
We all get the wind knocked out of our sails from time to time. Whether it’s your ex causing you static, not getting a job you wanted, getting passed over for a promotion or your kids just not listening.
I’m a big proponent of team sports for this reason. My oldest son plays hockey. He gets checked into the boards and knocked to the ice, but he pops up every time. One mom calls him Gumby. His coach taught him how to take a hit, but it’s his spirit and his will to succeed that picks him up with a look that says, “What? That’s all you’ve got?” As his mom, I don’t like watching him take that hit, but I love watching him get up.
The lessons our kids learn and hopefully the lesson you’ve learned is that there is always a next time, a next play, a next take. You get a do over. My family does ‘do-overs.’ We do ‘try-agains.’ Because let’s face it, we all make mistakes.
We don’t always do our best. Sometimes we do our best, but it’s just not good enough or outside people try to wreck havoc on our awesomeness. We don’t bring it all on every occasion, but when you believe in someone and believe in yourself, you get back up, you do it over, you try again no matter what is knocking you down. The important thing is you get back up because eventually you’ll knock it out of the park.
Song: Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
I'm single and loving it. Two kids and a busy job. Life is an adventure. Being single is liberating. Life is short, spread joy.