New Beginnings

Hello wonderful readers! Happy 2017!

I haven’t posted here very much for a while because I had some major life changes.

As you may know, I spent two weeks in Scotland taking a play that I directed and produced.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the world and travel. I spent a long time pushing this desire away.

I always told myself that I didn’t have the time to travel, I didn’t have the money, and I didn’t have anyone to go with me.

These are all lies I told myself to let myself keep playing small. And while playing small, I didn’t have to take risks, I didn’t have to step into who I am truly meant to be, I didn’t have to risk disappointment.

I know what to expect from my day to day life when I am at home. I am stubborn and independent and will fight to live my life the way I want to. I will work really hard to be able to keep up appearances and look like I am having a fun, fulfilled life.

But under it all, I have hopes and dreams that are going unmet. And I am tired of trying to stuff those down because I am afraid of failure. And I am finally ready to walk my talk.

I recently quit my day job. It was draining me in all ways. I was trying too hard to fit in to something that wasn’t right for me anymore. My brain was making unconscious mistakes that affected the people I worked for (nothing major, don’t worry)and it was causing me to question myself. I am not careless, so why was I making careless mistakes? Why was I spending all my energy complaining about where I worked and doing nothing about it?

So I decided to leave. It shocked a lot of people, and some (like my mother) were not surprised at all.

I decided to become a life coach. And I am loving it. It is honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I am a Martha Beck Life Coach In Training, and it is the easiest work I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work. But this feels incredibly natural, like I am truly in the flow.

For me, it’s like when I am dancing something really familiar, like swing or anything else that really follows the rhythm of the music. I let my brain go, feel the beat and feel my partner. I just listen for the cues from my partner and I let everything go. The moves flow and I can’t stop smiling. Even when I mess up, I am just so happy to be moving. There is no judgement about how I look or what is “right.” I just keep dancing.

Coaching is the same thing for me. I tap into something else, something bigger outside of me and I let it flow. Since I am still learning, there are more bumps in the flow but it still feels natural.

Part of what really drew me into coaching was that it is something I can do while I travel. I have denied this deep longing I have inside to see the world. The more I think about it, the more I remember being a kid that always dreamed about seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. And I need to honor that and build a life that can honor that part.

It’s all about alignment. (can I get a Hell Yeah for alignment?)

So I went on a solo road trip across the United States for 5 weeks. It was amazingly transformative, and I am sharing my reflections on the travel at my new website that you can find here.

For now I will continue to keep writing here from time to time, and some day I will probably link the two sites. I’m not quite ready to link this site since many of the stories I share are deeply personal and intimate. And there is something that feels ok with being that intimate with all you strangers, but not to all my friends just yet.

If you are looking for support for something in your life, you can also use my blog to get a little information about my coaching and I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. Right now, I am doing it at an unbelievable rate since I am still in training. So if you feel called, or are thinking that “there must be a better way” a coach can help you with that.

Until next time I hope you come follow my journey on my new website and I would love to hear from you about where you have felt a little out of alignment? Where do you think you need to show up differently so you can be more you? And what is one small action you can do to change that?

Breakthroughs and revelations

I was at dinner with a friend over the weekend. We bonded because we could commiserate over being in our 30s and single when all of our friends seemed so happily settled down. We also bonded over a love of self-help type books, female-centered empowering memoirs, and the power of mantras to turn your day around.

Let me paint the picture a little better. We are two incredibly smart women. We work great jobs. We love the arts. We have great friends and great lives. We work those mantras.

But as I listened to her talk about her insecurities around the guy she was happily datings, I had a breakthrough.

I realized that I, and many other single women, are unknowingly creating our own cycle of dating trouble.

We think the problem lies with everyone else. We think that the men aren’t up to our standards. We think that timing is bad. We think that men are misbehaving. We think that they aren’t ready, that we’re not ready. That they were badly hurt in the past so they’re acting badly now.

You know what? It’s all just made up excuses.

It is still blowing my mind. And I think that I never could have seen it when I was in her shoes. We get so stuck in the middle of our own stories that we don’t see a way out.

Then, worst of all, we get attached to our story so we limit our ability to learn from it. We get stuck in this idea that it’s all going wrong for all these external reasons, we spin stories to justify that, and then it all falls apart and we create stories about what caused that to happen, too. These stories are what keep us sane, we tell ourselves. Without them, we would never understand men.

But the truth is, it is taking us farther away from loving and accepting the men in our lives. We distance ourselves from men when we expect them to behave like hairy women.

I know the statement sounds ridiculous, but think about it. We as women expect men to think and behave like we do. And that’s natural, we understand women so we want them to act like we understand. I am sure men do the same thing which is why women are so baffling to men.

Men are more than hairy versions of women, and they should be respected for exactly who they are. And when we try to put them in a box and figure out their actions compared to how we women think and feel we are assigning untrue reasoning to the situation, which makes everyone feel disconnected, frustrated and misunderstood.

Not exactly the way to build healthy, long-lasting relationships.

So, we are sabotaging ourselves. And we are so stuck in our ways and so attached to the fun of the drama (let’s be honest, we create the drama because it is fun and exciting) that we aren’t willing to see it a new way and to let go of everything we thought we knew.

Perhaps you can feel my frustrations for this situation seething through this post. And I apologize for the heat you must feel because boy am I angry. I feel like so much time has been wasted on this.

And I feel somewhat stuck because you don’t see the error of your ways until you see it. I have read countless books and things did not shift until I read The Queen’s Code and saw my old patterns being acted out in front of my eyes. That was the moment I really felt 100% committed to changing the way I relate to men.

Can you relate? Does this ring true to you at all?

 

“Girl Brain”

I have this friend who is in her early twenties and has very little experience dating. She has a tendency to crush on gay boys, although in the last year and a half she seems to have outgrown this habit.

She has a new crush, and it started the way it does for so many of us. A friendship that we never really expected to turn into anything suddenly changes. He starts showing romantic interest, and we think “Is he flirting with me?” And then that changes to “I like that he’s flirting with me.” And then it dissolves into crush obsession where we seek out opportunities to flirt, and hopefully our flirting is so skillful that it turns into dating and a relationship.

I sure hope I am not the only one that thinks like this?

So here she is flirting with this guy and right when things turn interesting he gets really busy. Like we as human beings are likely to do when we work a few jobs. He continued to flirt but it was less frequent because he had work to do. And this flirting still had not materialized into a date.

I think it goes without saying that while she loved the attention and the flirting, she was getting increasingly more frustrated that it was not turning into a date.

And my friend, with very little dating experience, came up with the single most brilliant concept I have heard in all my life. It puts a name to that frustration and internal dialogue that I know I also have (I won’t assume that you have it too, but I bet that you do). She called this part her “Girl Brain.”

She noticed how differently he acted from her. He would take a while to get back ti her messages and she would reply right away. But he always responded with the same flirting and attention, it didn’t seem like he was disinterested. He always found ways to compliment her and make her swoon. But he didn’t seem to have the same urgency that she did.

These differences are the differences between Girl Brain and Boy Brain. Neither is right or wrong, they are just different and function at different levels and speeds.

Girl Brain is extremely vocal and makes everything urgent. She needs to be listened to now. She needs attention now. She needs things to be defined. She needs clarity. She needs…she needs…she needs.

And when things don’t go her way she nags. She nags until she gets what she wants. And it gets louder and more frequent the more you try to stifle her. And then it gets panicky and starts to cause anxiety. She is trying to cause you to act and give her what she needs, and unfortunately if I wait until she gets full of anxiety my actions are usually not logical at all.

Girl Brain likes a fast pace. She likes to have a committed relationship. She likes things to be steady and predictable to her.

But sometimes, I need to turn down her volume. Actually a lot of times I need to turn down her volume. She doesn’t think like men and expects things that she expects from other Girl Brains. Because Girl Brains know how Girl Brains act so they work well together. But Boy Brain works in its own way.

I have started to tell my Girl Brain “Thank you so much for expressing what you need. I am going to turn down your volume for a little while. It will all be ok.” Or sometimes it is simply “Chill the fuck out, ok? It’s all ok.”

I have another friend that tells me to breathe. It is so funny to me how frequently Girl Brain forgets to breathe. She likes to get herself all worked up and frantic. She goes into hyper mode.

I have another friend that does mantras. Maybe this works for you, but normally Girl Brain kicks those out pretty quickly.

Being able to name this phenomenon has been extremely helpful. And at the very least, I start to laugh which is actually the best trick in the book. I can laugh at this little screaming cheerleader that sits on my shoulder (ok, really she jumps up and down a lot, she is rarely still). I can say “Oh, you. You so silly!”, text my friend and we can laugh and relate to each other.

Do you have Girl Brain? What tricks do you use to get her to chill the F out?

Go With Your Gut

I am in the process of some big changes in my life. And I can’t help but reflect to see how I got here. How did I not do this earlier? How am I ok with taking this big of a risk?

Here is where things stand in my life.

I am going to quit my job, give up my apartment and spend as much time as possible traveling.

I don’t know what you read, watch and expose yourself to, but I have been reading about people that do this for a long time. I have been reading about it for so long that i now accept that this is the beginning of every great success that I envy. I re-read that sentence that I wrote (that sentence which still is full of fear and uncertainty for me) and I can almost brush it off and think “Yeah, and?”

I feel like there are tons of success stories out there where this is the preface. Some person who had a great job and gave it all up to follow their dreams. And then they follow their dreams and the long, winding road leads them somewhere they couldn’t predict but it sure it amazing.

Does anyone else wonder if there are people that quit their job and follow their dreams and don’t find something amazing? They realize it was better in the safety zone all along? Does that ever happen?

It’s one of my fears. It’s one of my fears that I go out there to chase my dreams and it’s actually a dead end road. It goes down a path and it leads me back to where I was – at a desk job supporting other people’s dreams and earning a tiny paycheck so I  can keep running the rat race.

I hope it doesn’t end that way but it’s a fear I have. And I believe it’s important to say those fears out loud. It makes them seem ridiculous and small.

 

Dating Story: The Cop

The Cop is really my only “successful” online dating story. I have a few other online dating stories, but he is the only one that lasted longer than a date or two.

I am not a big supporter of online dating for my dating life. But that’s a different post.

My dislike for online dating led me to conclude that it must be better if pay for online dating. Surely, the matches will be better because people are taking things seriously enough to pay for it and we are all looking for the same thing.

I found eHarmony to be overwhelming, I couldn’t keep up with all the matches every single day. It made me panic. However, I did meet this cute cop that lived in Virginia. He came to Baltimore often for work and we had great banter so we decided to meet for drinks and appetizers.

Our first date was fun. We laughed a lot and created our own inside jokes. I wasn’t sure if I was attracted yet. So we hung out a few more times, and it was more of the same. Lots of laughter but no more clarity.

I think we are the only people in the universe to create an inside joke about undercover sex trafficking, it was so twisted and ridiculous we had to laugh. And because it was so ridiculous we kept making the joke.

So it continued like that. We didn’t talk much between dates. We agreed to hang out for Valentines’ Day even though it was pretty early in our relationship. We said no gifts, but we just wanted to hang out. One of our inside jokes was about Marshmallow Fluff, so I decided to make us Fluff coated strawberries. I found this idea online and you coated the strawberries in Fluff and then dipped them in crushed Oreos. It seemed like it would be perfect, a sweet treat to share and an inside joke.

Well, I ended up eating them all alone because he cancelled the date.  This should have been a red flag. But he blamed it on work, and how can you argue with that when the guy is a cop that has a passion for busting these sex trafficking rings? He had a great heart, and he was making progress on a case.

That’s when it really started to decline. I heard from him less, he was taking an interest in becoming an air marshall and was picking up training work. He invited me to his apartment in Virginia to make up for the fact that we hadn’t seen each other. He cooked, we were going to watch a movie we both loved growing up, and we both alluded to the fact that I was going to stay the night.

I wish I knew why things fell apart after that night. We had been dating for about two months, so it wasn’t like a one a night stand. We liked each other but not in that huge over the top kind of way. The sex was good, but not great (when is it ever great on the first time anyway?). Nothing really adds up to him ghosting me. Nor does it make any sense why I didn’t really care.

And I suppose that is where the lesson lies. Don’t have sex with a guy because you want it to fix something. It won’t. It won’t make you like someone more. It won’t make him call you more or make you want to hang out with him more. It doesn’t solve anything.

 

Taking A Leap

Some of the people I admire include Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) and Cheryl Strayed (writer of Wild). I love their boldness and their honesty. When Ir had their writing, it seems like I know these women. Maybe because I recognize a little bit of myself in them.

I have never done the things they have done. I’ve never been married and suffered through a divorce. I’ve never had a drug problem. And yet there is something relatable about these women that went through hell.

We have all been through hell. Right? We all have our stories and our baggage. We know that life has ebbs and flows and that we have to push through those rough patches to get to the other side. We all turn to something in those times – whether it is prayer to God or to substances or to relationships that don’t serve us. Yeah, I’ve done that.

These two writers speak to me at a gut level. A level that says “I know you and I see you. I am you.” There is a part of me that is just like them, and I think that is why I love their words so damn much.

When I go through a breakup I re-watch the Eat, Pray, Love movie with Julia Roberts on nightly repeat. I find comfort in different parts of that movie depending on where I am on a particular day. Maybe I need to solace of the moments at the Ashram in India and I need to heard Richard from Texas’s wise words. Maybe I need to know that it is ok that things don’t work out with the hunky younger guy and we need to be ok with letting go. I need to know making mistakes is part of the game. Sometimes I need to know that people get a hunkier, older and wiser guy in the end. Whatever it is, I need the comfort.

And Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things is my forever book. It is the book I travel with. It is the book that I can open to any random page and read and re-read over and over and I will always feel comforted. I bought a book of quotes from her books that was signed by Cheryl Strayed herself because I wanted a shortcut to some of her written wisdom. And it felt really good. It’s a nice book.

My point is that these are stories of courage, adventure, risking everything and coming out ok on the other side. Stories of growth and travel and heartbreak and healing.

And I am having an itching feeling that I am on the verge of my own. I am having a nagging feeling that I need to let go of my apartment. I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t know why. I don’t even have a plan of where I would live if I got rid of my apartment. The answer that comes back is sort of a shrug – “Wherever. On the road.”

This is insanity.

And yet it’s not. I have also felt called to quit my job. So if I didn’t have the day job I wouldn’t have to worry about paying that monthly rent. And I have a few events in California in October and November so I was thinking about just staying out there for a few weeks.

And I would really prefer to not be here for the Baltimore winter again. I was thinking about going to Costa Rica. I could just make that a longer trip. There are a few travel things cooking in the back of my mind that seem like they would be really nice if I just extended and settled in.

Why not? I don’t have anyone to report to, I don’t have anywhere to be necessarily.

What if this is my own adventure story? What if this evolves into something else? (as all things in life tend to do) Even if it is a disaster, I will have my own story to tell. And I can always get another apartment and another job. Those things are around and available.

The fear is the thing that holds me back. But at least I can see that it is fear, and not truth. Those are two different things.

Thank you for reading through my thought process. It’s still evolving, and this is a space that helps me to do that.

Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself

I had an Arbonne business for a few years in my twenties. It was natural skin care and other health products and went into people’s homes and did skincare parties.

I learned a lot from that business. I learned a lot of skincare tips, which are fantastic. But more that anything else, I learned a lot about running a business and the importance of positive self talk.

Maybe it sounds crazy, but I have really active self-talk chatter. It is almost a constant in my brain. I have been consistently meditating for about three months now and the more I observe, the more I am in tune with the actual messages that I am saying to myself. And I need an overhaul of what I am constantly saying to myself.

I made a promise to myself if I catch myself saying “should” that whatever follows is just an obligation and I need to slow down and look at the situation. Ask myself what is compelling me to feel like I should be doing a certain thing. If I should be doing it, that means I’m not actually doing it, so why not? Why am I resisting? Why do I feel obligated?

Should is usually a spotlight on exactly what I should not be doing. Should is a silly word and usually brings guilt alongside it.

So when I was getting ready for bed last night after a date with Unexpected Date guy, I found myself will all kinds of self chatter.

“I should back off. I shouldn’t like him as much as I do.”

And immediately sirens went off. What was that all about?

And, dear reader, since I consider us to be fairly close now that you’ve seen my booty and read some of my innermost thoughts, I hope you are ok with me working through my thoughts.

Unexpected Date guy and I had just discussed that we are both ok with taking it slow, with hanging out and making out. And that’s it. He was up front about what was going on his life that made him feel like he wasn’t completely himself and he doesn’t have anything to give in a relationship. I told him where I was, and why I feel like I can’t completely bring myself to the table either.

We both felt relieved to be on the same page and to be open and honest with each other. He said he was worried about rushing into anything because he had done that before and would hate for me to “catch the Feels.” (ugh, I will be unpacking THAT phrase some other day, I really hate it)

But when I started “shoulding” at home, I realized how much I actually like this guy. Which was the opposite of “not catching the Feels.” (shudder… I need to stop writing that phrase, it really bugs me!)

Which leaves me where exactly?

One option I have would be to completely leave. To say “I like you a lot, I see where this is going. And neither of us can go down that road right now. So I’m hitting the breaks hard.”

The other option I have is to continue as we have been. I can say “I really like you. And I am willing to ride it out and be patient. Let’s be friends right now.”

But if I take a step back, that doesn’t feel true. Even just writing that I am willing to wait it out and be friends, I have a reaction in my body that tells me that I am forcing something. My body stiffens a little bit like it is bracing for an impact.

That’s not a good sign. I shouldn’t be making choices that my body is interpreting as an impact.

I suppose that leaves me with letting this fish go and throwing the bait back in the water for someone else. Which is a disappointment, yes. But I can’t blame the guy for wanting to straighten out his life. It is a bit complicated and messy and, in the end, I don’t really want to be a part of messy. So I appreciate that he is saving me from that.

And there will be someone else that is less messy and a better fit for me. I truly believe that.

An Ode to the Men of Scotland

Oh Scottish men, how you make me sigh!

You made me want to never say goodbye.

From the beginning my eye was caught

It left me feeling quite fraught.

I had not anticipated your handsome ways,

(nor did I anticipate you would all have baes).

I thought you would be modest and pale

How could I know you would better than kale?!

With your manly beards on your face

I feared I would lose all my grace.

I was impressed with high level of fitness,

It made me want to shout “Can I get a witness!?”

You each had a charming smile and lovely eyes

I could not stop staring despite all my tries.

Your suits were tailored to a perfect fit,

why don’t American men do the same with it?

I could spend all day singing your praises.

But each time one walks by it causes eyebrow raises.

How I wish one of you would propose, so I can stay

To always admire your amazing Scottish ways.

In all seriousness, meeting people in Scotland was one of my favorite things. And flirting was even better.

It does not surprise me that every Scottish man I met had a girlfriend. These girls know what they are doing. Lock down that handsome man that gets his suits tailored and knows how to treat a women well. Yes, Scottish ladies, you get yours.

I was completely unprepared for how handsome Scottish men would be. I was shocked from the first moment I set foot on the street and started to walk into town. These men would be walking towards me and I would take note of how tall they were. And then you realize they are far more fit than you would have thought (all that Scottish ale, why don’t they all have bellies? I guess the older men do, but that’s not so bad). And then the beards. Oh those beards were so manly and rugged but also well-groomed. Those were the ideal beards right there. And yes, many of the men were redheads, which is attractive to me. But many were also brunette. And then you would get very close and you would notice that they all had these clear eyes. They were hypnotizing.

I could not stop staring.

And it doesn’t help that at lunch hour and around 4:30 in the afternoon they would all come out of work in their suits. These suits were all perfectly tailored. They would have on their wonderful leather shoes and their coordinated suits and I would have to stop from turning my head as they walked by.

I had a few drinks purchased for me, I got to make-out with a handsome Italian man, and went to a nightclub for a night of dancing and flirting. So I did ok. I will tell some of those stories with more detail, because they are absolutely worth telling. But this post is to celebrate the men of Scotland and to just publicly thank them all for just existing. They exceeded my expectations.

And I suppose I exceeded my own expectations by showing up with confidence and going with the flow.

 

Off to Scotland

Hello dear readers. I will be taking a brief hiatus to take a trip to Scotland. It will be mostly a work trip. I produced a play that will be performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It has kept me extraordinarily busy, and this blog will be a big part of what I start to focus on when I return.

I hope to come back with great stories of things we created, people we met, and, who knows, maybe a dating story or two to add.

In the meantime, if you are curious about the show I created you can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBvtZoR3EwQ

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

“Sweetbitter”

I just finished reading the new novel “Sweetbitter.” I had seen a profile of the author in the New York Times and I was intrigued. She was my age, divorced, with a book that was coming out and everyone was buzzing.

She had worked a year in a swanky restaurant in Union Square, and the book was a fictionalized version of her experience. She was extremely knowledgeable about wine, and that is something I yearn for.

There is a part of her life I covet. Something about being that confident about picking a wine. Having a style the way that she does. She’s gorgeous, in my opinion. I was hooked.

So I got the audiobook from the library and I DEVOURED it. I couldn’t stop. The actress that read the book sounded naive and experienced at the same time. Her character work was excellent and I absorbed it all. The author was incredibly poetic. It was an experience of reading about someone that had a life that I craved but I could never see us actually being friends.

She was honest and it shone through. Whether the stories were true or not didn’t matter, it was a novel. The soul of the story was true, and that’s what I latched onto.

I couldn’t exactly relate to her experiences directly, but that wasn’t the point. It was the language. The living vicariously. The emotion of being young and naive again. The spirit of throwing yourself fully into a new experience and learning everything you can. The experience of making new friends as an adult and the dodgy terrain of dating.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I think it is definitely more for women than it is for men, but I do wonder how men would respond to it.

There was a moment that just lit me up, because finally it felt like passing wisdom from the author to me. It was a conversation between a lesbian and the narrator. The lesbian had at least a decade more experience than the narrator in work and in relationships. But she didn’t often share advice, she usually facilitated a good time. When the narrator was falling hard for the bartender (and lord knows, I could understand that) and he was obviously bad news (again, I could relate).

The conversation went like this, the lesbian spoke first.

“‘Good sex isn’t a big deal.’

‘What is?’ I asked.

‘Trust. Intimacy.”

I was driving when I was listening and I nearly pulled over. Woah. Yes. I completely agree. That is putting words to something I have been dancing around.

One of my fears is that I will never find someone as great in bed as the last guy. If I actually looked at my history, I have never had a problem finding a great lover. But I was always afraid that this was the last great one.

But… It. Is. So. Not. True. The guy isn’t the last great one, there will always be another. And it’s not even the biggest thing in a relationship. The lesbian character hit it on the nose. It is so much bigger to have trust and intimacy with your partner. The sex is great, but I would be that it will never be a constant. But trust and intimacy are things that can be built and worked on as a couple.  Those are things that can be reliable and constant.

I wanted to put that out in the universe. I wanted to put that down in writing that good sex isn’t the most important thing. The foundation, which is also the scary part for me, is the crucial, important part. It’s the part where it requires me to be vulnerable over and over. I’m willing to do that.