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.

Dating Story: The Bartender

Don’t we all have at least one story about a bartender? I have a few, I will do my best to distinguish between them.

He was so my type. Tall. Dreamy. Charming. Boyish. Incredibly intelligent. Unattainable.

There’s something about those charming bartenders. It’s like they get training to be that charming. I guess they do. It’s called a night with good tips.

I was volunteering at a nearby theater where I used to work. It was their gala, so I was dressed fairly fancy. I had the fits shift to check people in at the door and show them where to go. With this shift, I had a chunk of time with nothing to do. All of my former coworkers were assigned to the main events – the big fancy dinner and the onstage performance.

So I decided to go around the corner to my favorite dive bar where I could always get a cheap, strong cocktail from a friendly bartender.

I didn’t know the bartender behind the bar, but he looked friendly. He looked very sweet. I asked if he could put the Stanley Cup finals on and he gave me a look. He switched a TV near me and left me alone. Eventually I started a conversation with the other people in the bar and we had a great vibe going.

The bartender and the second bartender came over to join us and we all joked around. We decided to cement our new friendship with shots and a round of beers. The bartender seemed to always linger in my general area and found ways to talk to me. But I had flirted with other bartenders before, so I knew the game. Also it was a bar that was usually populated by gay people so odds were that he was gay. (I found out later he suspected the same of me)

I continued flirting and we talked about hockey and how impressed he was that a woman in a dress and heels would ask to watch that. We talked about Baltimore. And then I finished my beer and paid my tab (he only charged me for one drink, not the shot or beer) and left.

But I couldn’t get his cute eyes out of my mind. And I could have sworn he was flirting. I decided to recruit a friend that was also volunteering to come with me to the bar after the gala and give me a second opinion.

We returned, very late, and the place was hopping. I was served immediately and of course the bartender remembered me! He was happy I came back!

My friend and I had a round of drinks and then a second so my friend could really observe the two of us together.

My friend concluded that the bartender was indeed flirting and I should make a move to make myself clear. So I decided to use the good ol’ standby- my number on a napkin. So, I asked the bartender over t close my tab and paid for the drinks. When I was settled up I leaned over the bar so I was closer to his space and asked “If I gave you my number would you actually call?” He looked stunned, and paused. Eventually he said yes so I slid my number across the bar.

He texted the next day and asked me out for that evening. Being a bartender, his schedule was crazy and he had Sunday nights off and didn’t want to wait another week. So he picked me up and we went to a little bar with a pool table. We talked about the book about body language he had recently read and philosophy and all the things that really turn me on but I feel too pretentious to say that.

It was a pretty perfect first date. And then the second was just as perfect. Somehow I found a man that was younger than me in years but intellectually older than me and more of a gentleman that I had ever met. His mix on his iPod was also exactly my taste and let me sing along with the windows down when “Electric Feel” came on the mix.

And then he cancelled our third date. He gave some excuse that seemed logical so I let it slide even though I was disappointed.

Our third date was more of the same – great conversation and when he dropped me off he actually came upstairs for a cup of tea. Which led to making out on my bed. We had kissed before but it had always been a peck in public places or making out in his car, which is always awkward. So making out on my bed was hot. What was even hotter was that neither of us was trying to take it any farther than that. We just enjoyed making out.

He was so endearing in so many ways. He was smart but humble about it. He had a model-like handsomeness but had a skin disease which caused patches of discoloration on his skin. He was youthful and mature. It was wonderful. And that’s probably why I believed his excuses when he cancelled out fourth date, some kind of health emergency in his family. And then we rescheduled and it was some other ridiculous excuse.

It just all seemed too strange. And it was always at the last minute, within a few hours of our date. They were these ridiculous excuses that sounded made up. And it felt awful to have someone cancel on me over and over, especially with crazy excuses that seemed to deserve their own reality show.

So I said something to him that each excuse seemed to get more ridiculous and I wasn’t sure if they were real. So I told him I didn’t want to have another cancelled date, I wanted an actual date. And if that’s not what he wanted than he shouldn’t call me again.

I think that caught him off guard. So he never called. And I never reached out. So that was that. And most of the time I tell myself my gut was right that there was something behind those strange stories. At the very least, those would be difficult problems to be dealing with.

Every once in awhile he comes up as a recommended contact on LinkedIn because his email is in my gmail somewhere. And I wonder how he is. I wonder if that chemistry would still be there. I wonder if things got easier for him.

And typing this made me realize how important that mental chemistry is for me. It was an amazing mix of physical attraction and mix of wits. I need someone that makes me grow, strive to be my best. And I know I often settle for less. I settle for the guy that’s hot or smart or steady.

So, Bartender, wherever you are and whatever you are doing now, I hope you’re well and you’re happy. I hope you and your family have less health problems. I hope you’re still reading and thinking big thoughts.

 

 

Dating Story: The One Night Stand

I am not a stranger to the one night stand. I actually have no problem with it, if both people are on the same page and are looking for exactly that.

But I have one one night stand that I absolutely regret.

And even the word “regret” feels strong because I at least learned the lesson that I never want to do that again.

This is the one guy that the details are completely fuzzy because I was incredibly drunk. It’s probably as close to blacked out as I have ever been.

There was no particular reason, I went out with my roommate at the time and her friends. And we just kept drinking and drinking and drinking.

I met the One Night Stand at our local bar on a Saturday night. My roommate had friends in town, and I felt like the best way to impress them was to keep up with their drinking pace. I should mention it was two men that were 6 feet tall. I am 5’2 (and a half!)”. My roommate had an intense flirtation with the more attractive one and the other guy was happy to play my wingman.

We picked out a guy and he facilitated an introduction and kept conversation going. And we started playing the games in the bar, like darts. And we kept drinking. My wingman was proud of his match and peeled away.

At one point in the conversation we realized we live in the same apartment complex. And how convenient… So we got back to his place. And I can’t remember how. I don’t know if we walked or had a driver, but we got to his place where I watched him play video games with his roommate.

Apparently this is seduction.

I sipped my Bud Light because I was aware of how drunk I was. I mostly use let it get warm. I was trying to be the Cool Girl. The girl that could hang. I thought this is what I had to do to get a guy to like me.

So I waited and it kept getting later and later. And if I know anything about myself, I am useless late at night. The mix of all the alcohol and the late hour made me so extremely blurry eyed that I can remember making out in his bed. I can remember waking up (wearing some of my clothes) and walking to my apartment. I don’t remember what happened in between.

I’m really ashamed of it, and I actually hold a lot of shame around those nights when I drink more than 2 and get that buzzed feeling.

I feel like I let myself done when I get drunk. I hate that I let myself lose control. I hate feeling hungover, and it doesn’t take much for me to feel hungover anymore. It takes me a long time to recover, and being a morning person I hate losing that energy every morning to feeling hungover.

I feel ashamed that I don’t stop myself. 75% of the time I stop at my limit to feel buzzed but not drunk. I am ashamed when I get caught up in the “woe is me, I deserve another drink” story. Or sometimes it’s the “It’s girls night so I deserve another drink!” Or “I’m flirting and on a roll, I want to look cool and like I can keep up!” Or I just lose that common sense after two drinks and instead of ordering a soda and give into social pressure and I order a third…

I am sure that this shame I feel around drinking doesn’t help my hangover. It probably contributes to me feeling bad physically. And I wish I could say I’m hopeful and I could say I’ll get it right. But maybe I won’t. Maybe 25% of the time I drink too much, and maybe progress is simply not feeling so ashamed.

And I’ve only had the one semi-blacked out hookup, so it could be a lot worse. Thank god it’s not. At least I know absolutely for certain what I DO NOT WANT.

Dating Story: The Train Driver

I can’t remember if I knew I was being set up when I went to the play reading. But it was incredibly clear when we were introduced that our mutual friend orchestrated the evening so that we would both be there so we could meet.

He was tall and boyishly handsome. And he was funny and sweet. I was completely smitten.

We had a really easy time together. We laughed all the time and flirted constantly. Conversations just flowed. Hours flew by. I knew he had a tricky schedule but in that first 6 weeks he always seemed to make time for me on his day off.

He drove trains for a freight train company. His route took him up the eastern coast and back. All he had to do was make sure nothing went wrong and to solve problems if it went wrong. It was a mostly mindless job, so he spend most of his time reading, texting, Facebooking, playing games on his phone.

What I thought I found was a guy that was really into me because he was texting all the time and really getting to know me by asking lots of questions. What was really happening was that he was bored and I was responding.

But it took me a long time to figure that out.

The Train Driver is still to this day one of the best kissers I have ever known. The makeup sessions were incredibly hot and we would lose hours. Just making out. It was the most fun I had ever had.

For a long time we didn’t jump in bed even though the kissing was fantastic. Later that summer we made a plan for his next day off and talked about both being ready for the relationship to become sexual. And then he got called in to work. This last minute call and change of plans had already happened a few times before.

Maybe I got scared that I would lose the opportunity to sleep with this guy that I had such great chemistry with (trust me, I know how ridiculous this sounds, I suffer from some serious lack mentality instead of realizing that there is an abundant amount of chemistry out there in the universe!). Or maybe I was just being completely impatient, which I am often guilty of.

Fueled by an impatience to get laid, I asked if I could come to him at his hotel in Philly. Insert eye rolling and groans here. “No, Single Gal! That’s a HORRIBLE idea!”

Yes, in hindsight I know this. At the time, I didn’t see the huge red flag waving back and forth just behind my eyes. (Have you noticed this pattern in my dating stories??)

So I went. I thought it was exciting. A night in a hotel that his job was paying for. It would be fun! Instead, it was awkward. He was worried about his coworker seeing me go into the room and ratting him out. He has different sleeping habits than I do and I don’t recommend finding this out in a hotel. And first time sex is always a little tricky, and it would have been a little more comfortable at home.

And the hotel was not in downtown Philly, it was in a weird outskirt of Philly. So when we wanted to get breakfast in the morning we couldn’t find anything that was open. So we had that awkward time in the car looking for a coffee shop but not finding anything, and both of us were getting hungrier and hungrier. This was not sexy, at all.

And I think that was the turning point. I saw him a few times after that, but he started working 6 days a week instead of 5. His day off was spent sleeping and rarely scheduled time to see me. He still texted constantly but I was growing tired of having a pen pal. Eventually I picked a fight because I was never seeing him and I drove a wedge between us and I decided to move on.

He and I kept in touch a few times a year. Every once in awhile it was a nice distraction for me. Sometimes it slipped into sexting. But I always knew it was just text messaging and I wanted a relationship with someone I actually saw. I finally ended it once and for all when he he sexting me but had announced his engagement on Facebook. It seemed like a fishy situation. He told me it was “fake” to “make her ex jealous.” I told him I wanted nothing to do with that situation.

I’m realizing I don’t stand up for myself often. I try way harder than I need to when it comes to saving a failing relationship. I very rarely am the one to end things. But it feels really good when I set a standard, and if that standard isn’t being met I ask the person to leave. I really should do that more often.

Dating Story: The Beach Hookup

There is a good chance if my mom ever reads this she may kill me. Or maybe enough time has gone by that it’s blown over.

My family has a tradition of going to the beach together, like many American families. My aunts, uncles and cousins all try to go to the beach for the same week every year or at least try to overlap for a long weekend together. For most of my adult life I just go for the weekend.

I don’t think it’s unusual to say that I can take my family in small doses so weekends are best. And even then I try to get some alone time by going for a morning run, taking time alone to read, and other things like that. My family has grown to understand that it’s just what I need so they let me have my space.

But a few years ago this was not the case and I was still trying to fight for my boundaries with my mom. She would often get frustrated when I asked for space because she perceived it was about her (it wasn’t).

One year we did dinner on the water at a restaurant that turned into a dance club later in the evening. We like to do dinner and watch the sunset and stay and dance for a little bit. This year, all of the women in my family were single- myself, my mom, my sister, and my aunt. We were all dancing and having a great time and my aunt even hit it off with some guy  and they kept dancing together. This guy’s nephew was playing wingman decided to strike up a conversation with me, even though I am sure Iw as giving off my best “This is a girl’s night, don’t interrupt us” vibe.

He was cute. He was fit. He was younger than me and he was a lot of fun. We actually had a lot in common and there was great chemistry.

The end of the night rolled around, numbers were exchanged, and I leave with my family. My mom was still very much in her over-protective mode and it was “no man left behind. We came together, we’re leaving together.” (I should note that even though I was in my mid-twenties my mom did this often. She is the biggest worrier I have ever met. You gotta love her for caring so much)

The Beach Guy and I decide to meet up for a drink someplace quieter. My mom was not having any of this, despite the fact that it was still fairly early.  So I told the guy to meet me at a bar a block away but I delayed the time by half an hour.

Like a rebellious teenager I waited for my mom to be fast asleep and plotted to sneak out. My younger sister thought I was insane but agreed to cover for me. I quietly left our rented condo with the skill of a cat burglar.

Beach Guy was sweet and smart. And he had a adventurous, rebellious side that seemed to match mine – rebellious but not too rebellious.I still felt safe with this guy.

He suggested a walk on the beach and I thought how romantic. The moon was out. I’ve always wanted a cute guy to suggest a walk on the beach together.

It was a nice stroll, but short-lived because before long we were really making out. And the way things escalate when there’s been drinking, dancing and moonlight things took a turn for steamy romance novel really fast.

Let’s just say I was able to check an item off my bucket list that night.

And that was that. We laughed at ourselves for getting so caught up in the moment but we both had fun. He walked me back to the condo where we were staying and we kissed goodnight. No promises of trying to stay in touch or get together. It was understood on both sides it was a one night kind of deal.

With far less grace I snuck back into the house. I was a little clumsier since I was still buzzing from a fun evening. But the door I had carefully rigged to not lock behind me was still unlocked, and no one woke up as I got back into bed.

I got away with it. My sister never really asked for details and my mom never found out. (I don’t think she reads this blog, but if she does I’m sorry mom!) The experience was fun mostly because I was never the kid that would sneak out of the house. I think every person should have that experience, it’s an adrenaline rush. It was probably that adrenaline and self-identifying as a rebel that night that led me down the path to a one night stand. But I have no regrets.

A New Series

Hello readers!

Yesterday I shared a story about a guy that I dated and what I learned about myself by choosing the wrong guy. The story simply fell off my fingertips as I typed. It was so easy.

I really like sharing my dating stories. I always have. I always told my friends that there is no such thing as a bad date, just a hilarious story to tell over cocktails. I’ve always entertained my friends with my disasters and dramas.

I’ve decided to ditch the drama in my dating life but there is no reason why I can’t share all the mistakes I’ve made in the past, the fun times, the dramas I created for no reason.

I hope you will enjoy reading them. And maybe you will laugh and maybe you will learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them. I think I will publish these stories on Mondays and Fridays because I can think of no better way to start and end a week than with dating stories.

If you have a story you would like to share please feel free to let me know! I would love to hear your disasters. Dating is always better when you’re sharing your lessons with friends.

An Unexpected Date

I did not know I was going on a date last night until 6 hours beforehand. While the idea of spontaneity and an unplanned date is nothing new, everything else around this date is completely out of the norm for me.

Here is what I am used to in my dating life: I meet a guy that I am incredibly attracted to and I think he is perfectly “my type.” I go out of my way to be available for this guy. I drop not-so0subtle hints that I am into him. I may even suggest we hang out or drop an activity that I want to go to and if he’s interested maybe we should go together. I would bat my eyes and do everything I could to look sexy and get his attention. I do all the things I think a person that is attractive is supposed to do and say. Correction- a person that is attractive to HIM.

Yes, I size up the guy immediately and diagnose what I think he wants and then I do my best to be the chameleon and become exactly that.

I realize how crazy that sounds. And believe me, I have unpacked that time and time again with my life coach and in books and morning pages in my journal. And it didn’t really click exactly why that was a bad thing until this date.

It’s funny the way that I can learn something in my head, and I can be given guidance about dating, and I can read about behavior. But then for no particular reason at all it clicked. And then to experience it everything changed.

I have been reading The Queen’s Code by Alison Armstrong, a book which I am positive I will be writing about at length because it has changed my life. I read a passage on Sunday that knocked me back in my chair and I could finally process something in my heart and body instead of truly in my head. The knowledge snack deeper and I could feel it everywhere.

I could finally let go of my past relationships. I finally understood what I had been doing wrong all along.

For me, I always picked men I was ridiculously attracted to or the ones I wasn’t attracted to at all but they checked the boxes on my “list.” And I would tend to pick men that were younger or I perceived that they weren’t fully in their own power.

(Please remember that I am bringing my demons into the light and being honest. I realize that things don’t sound perfect and I am not trying to be perfect. I am trying to be human and honest. Know what I mean?)

I liked controlling and manipulating because that I meant I could get what I want. For a little while. I traded long term potential happiness and fulfillment for short term satisfaction.

I see the error in my ways. And I see the major benefits in giving up control.

I made a commitment to myself. I would rather be alone than to force something. I am committed to not forcing anything. To receive. To trust.

And that’s what made this date radically different. So different I don’t even know how to answer the question “How did it go?” Because I don’t know! My old gauges for what made a good first date have gone completely out the window!

But I know that I like the guy. I like what I heard, I like how he behaved and I am curious to learn and know more. And if he didn’t feel the same way, that’s ok. I felt like I was very honest, very much myself and I truly would not want to be with someone that didn’t like my honest, true self.

And I feel no need to manipulate or control the situation. I feel like I can go with the flow and see where I am guided.

This feels fun!

A List: Who Have I Dated?

Yesterday I posted about where I meet men. I am often told that I date such a wide variety of men, which is true. So today I am posting a list of the different types of men I have dated. I’ve been told there is a military bingo out there, you get bingo when you date one from each major branch of the military. I wish there was actual bingo cards for dating. A fun game to play with your friends. Or like Go Fish. Playing cards that you could swap and trade. Perhaps there is a side business in this idea… Hm…

Anyway, many years ago I realized that I was dating the same guy over and over again. I was in a rut. So I decided to just say yes to whatever offers came my way. See what it all turned into. It definitely opened my eyes a lot, and I learned a lot too.

This list in not complete, there are some guys I dated so long ago and only went on one or two dates and now I can’t remember. I will update this post if I can remember more about them.

I have dated:

  • Mechanic
  • Train driver
  • Sailor
  • Actor
  • Cop
  • Director
  • Former butcher turned salesman
  • Computer repair guy
  • Bartender
  • The guy that plans emergency routes for bad weather
  • Graphic designer
  • The director of security at the Ravens stadium
  • Bridge engineer
  • A guy that owns a restaurant in Costa Rica
  • Assistant manager of an Enterprise (Rent a Car)
  • Sushi chef
  • Park ranger at Lincoln monument
  • Baseball scout
  • Chef and owner of an awesome creole restaurant
  • Guy that sold lacrosse trophies online
  • Manager of a running store
  • HR rep (not at my company!)
  • Radio sound engineer
  • Semi-professional poker player
  • Civil engineer
  • IT guy for a government agency
Works every time.

Works every time.

While it is a long list, and there are many more additions I could make since I’m including even dates that only happened once or twice, I still have a lot to learn. As a part of my journey that I am undertaking as a Single Woman again, I am exploring the reasons why I feel like I need to date and keep busy. Even though there is variety in this list, I am still most attracted to passionate men that are workaholics. Why am I afraid of a full time relationship? What am I hiding? What am I running from? Why am I pushing away relationships? What do I really want.

These are big questions. Big realizations that I am on the verge of breaking through. How exciting!

Thank you, dear reader, for joining me on this. I appreciate the company.

Am I Sticking to Friendships Because it’s Safe?

Here is my question for you that I am dealing with right now: As a straight woman, should I complete the healing process by jumping back into dating or should I stay in the warm cocoon of female friendships a bit longer?

Everyone says that when you are going through a breakup you should spend lots of time with your friends- surround yourself with people that love and support you, Ok, good advice. Will do.

But what do you do when that feels more like a really cute shoe that is perfect for the outfit but doesn’t quite fit right? Maybe I should share my experience this weekend to put this into perspective.

I haven’t been ready to start dating again. I tried, but I had no interest in making any effort for dating. It’s not that I kept thinking about the ex, it’s just a total and complete lack of interest. So I haven’t tried to meet any new guys. Until Saturday, when I volunteered at the Maryland Brewers Harvest festival. It was testosterone central. Half the men were married or with their wives, but the others were there with their buddies. Had I known I wouldn’t have worn just my glasses and a T-shirt. I didn’t actively flirt with many of them, just one or two (I couldn’t help it myself).

brewers-harvest-logo

This all felt good. This was such a nice boost. I actually stayed well past the end of my shift because I was having such a great time. Then I went off to spend the weekend with my sorority sisters to celebrate our chapter’s 75th anniversary. I thought this would be perfect- lots of girl time! Yay! Right?

Until I found myself surrounded by girls 6+ years younger than I was, with none of the girls that I knew in sight. I was so uncomfortable. I felt old and tired and like i had done too much day drinking to actually have fun at a college bar.

Sorority sisters from classes in the 50s all the way to current students. Sisters for life, right?

Sorority sisters from classes in the 50s all the way to current students. Sisters for life, right?

Our morning brunch felt much better. I was surrounded by the girls that I thought were so cool and silly, the ones that I liked so much that I decided that being their sister would be such fun. And then I realized that I never made much effort to be their friends because I was so busy with the theater and I thought that they already had a group of close friends. But now, now we’re adults and we can hang out. Many of us said we should get together and talk more often. So why not?

It was a strange weekend. What I thought would make me happy didn’t really, and what I thought would be just to help out a cause was more uplifting than I thought. I want to build some stronger friendships with some of these girls, but do I want this because it’s safe? Is it because I am too afraid to put myself out there with a guy and risk getting hurt again?

Have you ever felt this way?