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.

The Pain of Self-Sacrifice

My last relationship ended for a whole list full of reasons, but it all boils down to the guy needed a lot of help that I was not qualified to give and he wanted to do it alone. There were patterns of addiction, and it manifested itself in various ways from the obvious to needed validation from everyone around him including another woman.

It is some deep, troubling baggage that he needs to unpack and work through. And I know what any logical person would say “Thank God that’s not your problem to deal with anymore, Single Gal.”

And I would agree. Thank God indeed. Thank God he did not want my support because then I was given permission to be selfish and to look after myself first. But that isn’t what I wanted to do at first.

When I put all the pieces of his bad behavior together and saw the really big problem, I offered to help. I offered to be there as a support if he was willing to do all the hard work to get better. I basically said “I see you stuck in the hole down there and you are stuck in a pile of shit. I will jump down there with you and hold your hand if you are willing to get yourself out. I will go be stuck in shit with you, for as long as you need me to.”

I didn’t do it to be valiant or a martyr. I did it because I really loved this person and I cared so much about him being healthy that I was willing to put myself through hell to help him get to the other side.

I am so grateful he turned my offer down (which is actually very much in line with my understanding of people that suffer from addiction. He pushed away the person that could see the truth so that he would be allowed to live his lie longer. He would rather not go through the pain of looking at and changing his behavior which is a shame). I am so grateful because in the months after the breakup I have made huge strides forward in my life because I had all this extra space and energy that I could create with. My mind was not distracted with his major problems and my energy was not drained by supporting him.

My situation is an extreme example of choosing someone else over myself. If I had gotten what I thought I wanted, who knows where I would be right now. In the last 6 months I created a play and raised funding to take it to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. That took up so much of my time and energy, and I don’t know what would have happened if I had someone around that I felt responsible for.

I have recently met a man that I more than I knew I could ask for in a guy. And I don’t know where that path is going but I never would have met him if I was dating someone else.

I think about how easy it was for me to choose him over myself. And maybe that I partially why he turned down my offer, because he recognized that I shouldn’t have to go through that shit with him. That he was the only one that should deal with it and that I had more important dreams for my life. Maybe he knew he couldn’t let me make that sacrifice by choosing him over me.

Apparently it is something women do very naturally. We put the needs of others before our own. It’s is actually a really big problem because every time we do that we are programming our brain to work against ourself.

Luckily this can be rewired. Part of the rewiring process is doing exactly this. Bring attention to when you chose someone else instead of yourself. Look for triggers and patterns. Where can we make a different choice next time?

I know that something like regularly choosing myself is going to feel unnatural at first. I will have to make a conscious effort to do it, and I am probably going to mess up. Big change can be hard, but not impossible. But I am confident that choosing myself has the biggest payoff in the end and I am not willing to sacrifice myself any more.

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.

Sometimes Love is Just a Short Story

A good friend of mine supported me through my breakup this winter and then two months later she had her own. We both found ourselves in very similar situations. We compared situations about our breakups and couldn’t believe how similar they were. And how similar our reactions were. We both knew the breakup was ultimately for the best, but we were still mourning it deeply and we were frustrated we weren’t moving on faster.

I would say I am 90% healed. She is probably 70%. I saw her for 4th of July weekend and we had a number of heart to heart talks. She kept referring to the relationship as a failure and as something bad. It wasn’t sitting right with me.

I had a mental shift and it really made a lot of sense to both of us, and it helped us embrace the sadness that we felt when the relationship ended instead of resenting that we felt sad over something that we should be glad about.

I realized that the relationship is not a failure because it ended. Let me say that again because I need to take it in, and I bet you probably do too. The relationship is not a failure because it ended.

A relationship can still be a success even though it is over. Successful relationships do not have to be defined by whether or not it ended in marriage. There is still a lot that can be learned from relationships that don’t last forever. And often there is still a lot of love in those relationships.

The way I said it to my friend was “Some relationships are just short stories.” And that shifted both of our thinking. Not every story has to be an epic “War and Peace”-like tome. We can still love and appreciate the short novellas or the essays just as much. They are still valid contributions and can move us deep in our souls. So can poems. It doesn’t make them lesser than only because their length is shorter and there are fewer words on the page.

I think we need to redefine failure in relationships. Failure in relationships is staying in something long after it is over rather than leaving when you stopped growing. It is not serving either of you to stay if you have grown all you can from the relationship and there is nothing else to gain. I’ve been there many times. Thinking that if you try hard you can force it to be what it’s not. Accept it, let it go. That’s life.

A failed relationship is one where you deceive yourself or the other person intentionally. That’s not a relationship. That’s just not being honest and that feels gross all around. You can’t even have a relationship if you’re not being honest.

A relationship is a failure if you manipulate or make the other person (or yourself feel small). We have relationships so that we can grown and expand as human beings. So we can become better versions of ourselves. We are able to grow in a different way with another person by our side, it’s why we are wired for all kinds of relationships. But if you are in a romantic relationship with someone and you are intentionally causing pain, if you are trying to manipulate the other person, or if you are putting yourself or the other person in a box then it is failing to allow you to grow.

I’m writing a little off the cuff on this topic to really fully explore this idea of changing the idea of a failed relationship. Removing that label feels so good, it feels like I can expand a little. It removes the self-pity of having another failed relationship. I don’t have a failed relationship. I have a relationship that came to its completion. It ran its course.

 

Numbing the Soul’s Pain

The advice to keep busy after a breakup or during a hard time has never really felt right to me. Something about it didn’t sit right with me, but everyone says it works so I did it. Every time.

 

I find it so easy to distract myself and numb the pain with distractions. It is so incredibly easy. I am a driven person so it is easy to be really busy with work and projects and hobbies. I am so good at it that I don’t even realize I am doing it.

I think I am just doing the things you’re supposed to do after a breakup. When your heart hurts aren’t you supposed to go out and drink too much? Aren’t you supposed to find some random dude to make out with? And then you call a fall back dude from years ago and hook up a few times to feel the rush again?

Aren;t you supposed to watch your favorite sappy movies and the silly TV shows and cry?

Isn’t this all what “fake it till you make it is all about?”

I thought so. I thought those were all the things that were normal that led to healing. It made sense to me: if you do the things you normally do, maybe at a heighten level or a slightly more frantic pace, then you will get over the hurt faster and you will be healed before you know it.

I think I started practicing these habits when my dad died when I was 14. I decided the best thing I could do would be to keep pushing forward and doing my best, because that would have made him proud. I went to school after my dad’s funeral because I didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance streak. I played three sports that year, I got straight As. I got my first boyfriend. Nothing was knocking me off my track.

I remember a guy I dated in my early twenties that didn’t treat me well. He left me guessing all the time. He cheated on me with his ex girlfriend. And I think that is when I started numbing with alcohol, constant TV and keeping my friends around me all the time.

And I thought that it actually worked. Because I would eventually stop crying and I would eventually stop thinking about the pain and the memories. Eventually it all fell away.

But those things don’t heal anything, they numb. And just like anesthesia, the numbness wears off and you have a choice. You can re-numb or you feel the pain.

For as long as I can remember, I have chosen to continue to re-numb. I found it was always easy to find some kind of escape. It was immediately available at my finger tips.

The other night I had a moment of clarity. Where I suddenly saw all my habits for what they really are. They weren’t hobbies, they weren’t a good time, they weren’t bonding opportunities. I was running from my pain, pushing it away, burying it, trying to numb all the deep pain and fear I feel.

So that night I decided to face it. And the amazing thing was that I identified the pain, I sat with it and it passed so quickly. Granted, I have been working through and feeling this pain for a while. But there was something incredibly healing about seeing the pain clearly for what it was that allowed me to move past it. It was as if I could actually feel the scab form over the wound.

I’m not saying I am completely healed, but it feels very different. It feels like forward movement. It feels like I don’t need the girlfriend dates to distract me from the lonely weekend nights, I don’t need the exes to sleep with me to make me feel something again, and I don’t need to drink too much to feel a high.

Cupid’s arrow has been sticking out of my side for a long time. I’ve been walking around with that thing, and because it’s still there I keep re-injuring myself and it never heals. I finally pushed it through. Let the healing begin.

 

A Dating Story: The Sushi Chef

Most people hate tax season. That changed for me a few years ago when I met a sexy divorced sushi chef at my accountant’s office.

Oh he was so adorable. I don’t know how else to tell you how adorable this guy besides saying that I actually entertained his small talk before I got my taxes done.

But here is where I made my mistake. We didn’t exchange information so what did I do? I went where he works and hoped to run into him.

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Oh I wish I could go back and tell that younger version of myself to chill out, be patient and let it take care of itself.

But he probably never would have found me and I wound up with some great memories and great sex because of it. #letsbehonest

So we had coffee that day and planned a date where he would take me for sushi at his favorite place in town. Less than an hour before the date he called and was incredibly embarrassed but his car had been broken into and they stole his wallet. He asked if I wanted to postpone the date because he wouldn’t be able to pay for anything. I thought about it and said that I still wanted to see him and try the sushi. (please repeat the above gif)

We had a great date, despite the warning signs. We went out again and afterwards we ended up making out at his place. And it…was…hot. Some of the best making out of my life. The kind where you just know you are in trouble.

And he knew it, too. Mid-make out he pulls away and looks at me and says “We are both in trouble. This is one of those things that will either burn really hot and fast, or this is the beginning of a fucking bonfire.”

I don’t mean to spoil it for you, but it just burnt hot and fast. I knew it at the time. We weren’t all that compatible and the more we hung out the clearer it became. But it was a hell of a lot of fun while it lasted that summer.

That was when I was a personal trainer and I wouldn’t be done classes until 8:30 and wouldn’t get to his apartment until 9:30, smelling sweaty and feeling tired. He would prepare me the best plates of cheese, fruit and vegetables. He told me stories about his day or about his travels and learning customs in Japan.

But there were cracks that would appear when we hung out. We just had completely different ways of approaching problems and life in general. He had an ex that he worked with and he seemed reluctant to let go of her. He was impatient. He was unwilling to come to me so I always went to him. I began to feel like he wasn’t making space for me in his life, I was being fit in around the edges.

He was fun, but despite the chemistry sometimes you get a poem instead of a short story or a novel. I remember him fondly, like many of my former flames. But it was meant to end, it was meant to have a short life.

Other than the obvious lessons to be learned from this, it is one of many lessons I learned about the beauty of letting go of something when it’s over. There is no need to hold on after it’s over. It was what it was, move on.

I’m working right now on not forcing things, go with the flow. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I feel my old urge to chase the guy, to reach out to make sure he hasn’t forgotten about me. To remind him that I’m awesome.

But no one needs to be reminded that I’m awesome or even that I am here. Because I am here. And what they think (or don’t think) doesn’t matter. I’m awesome whether they remember that or not. I don’t need a guy to reinforce that, because I just am that.

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.

Baring It All

After my breakup in the winter, I knew I had to act fast to keep myself out of depression. As a little context, winter months are always particularly tough and I have a tendency to get some seasonal disorder. I had even had the conversation with this guy as we went into January. I told him I will probably be feeling particularly blue and to not let me make any major life changes until April.

They say when we make plans, God laughs. I see the joke, and it is a seriously twisted sense of humor.

I decided I was going to give myself something to look forward to. I wanted to feel feminine and pretty. I wanted to celebrate my body, which is curvier than it has been in a long time. I decided to invest in a boudoir photo shoot for myself. There is no better time.

I found a deal on Groupon and I am so glad I did. The company is called Three Boudoir, and right now they do photos in very select cities. I remember going through the galleries and thinking how happy these women look. How comfortable. How SEXY. And not in a cheesy posed kind of way that seems forced. They seemed like they were owning the sexy from within.

Dare I say it… it was like all these women were channeling their inner Beyonce.

So I booked a session for two months later and added on the makeup application because I am pretty clueless when it comes to that kind of thing.And strangely I didn’t feel all that nervous.

The day arrived. I took the day off from work. I’m fairly certain I blushed when I lied and told my boss I was going to DC to visit a friend that was here from out of town. I took a long, leisurely morning to get ready by painting my nails and moisturizing and loving every inch of my body. I took extra time to do my hair, despite the downpour that was happening outside. We can only control so much…

When I arrived, I was brought into makeup and that’s when I really began to feel pampered.I’m not used to fake lashes and liquid liner and shimmer. But it sure was fun.

And then they began to prep me for the shoot. I met my team. There was a photographer and what I will call a Stylist or a I’m-Gonna-Make-You-Look-Awesome Expert. But honestly, they both fed off of my energy and each other’s and it really felt like we were all in it together.

They made me feel like one of their best friend instantly. Despite the fact that I can’t remember the last time I was in panties and a bra in front of my friends. Or just a thong.

I will be honest, I went through phases of being comfortable. I spent a majority of the time in just a black thong because I really wanted to highlight my legs and back, features that I love. But every once in awhile you realize “my boobs are just… there.”

And it reminds me how much we women are uncomfortable in our own bodies. I wanted to confront that and embrace it and be all hanging out. Some poses were more awkward than others and sometimes it was a challenge to hold my tummy tight while popping my booty. But that made us all laugh which leads to more great pictures.

I laughed a lot and I left feeling like a rockstar. I left my makeup on even though it was way heavier than I was used to wearing. That glow of confidence is still with me, especially when I look at the pictures.

It was easily the best money I had spent in a long time. I would do it again in a heart beat. It has confronted some of my body hangups and now when I find myself self-hating I turn it to a laugh and remember how awesome my body is.

And I realized that one of the things we get hung up on is how we think other people think of us. And being mostly naked in front of two hot women (in my opinion!) and they embraced it and even celebrated it with me was incredibly empowering. It let me know that as long as I feel good everyone else feels good around me. My energy will feed theirs.

We should worry less, and celebrate more. That’s a New Year’s resolution I plan to keep.

And now, the photo I am most proud of. I was inspired by a photo on a woman’s blog, and maybe it will help you as well.

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