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Friday, October 26, 2007

Reclaiming My Life

Photo by Richard Hampson
I realized today that I am sinking countless hours into something which is getting me nowhere except exhausted and frustrated. It has moved up the priority list in my life, at the detriment and expense of those things which are truly important to me.

Today, I began reclaiming my life. I thought about what my ‘ideal’ life would be like, and then applied ‘real-life’ to it. Today, I began my journey to living my life my way. I thought about the life I would want to have if I was married again . . .and compared it to what my life is like now. I realized that I have foolishly believed that my life would only change into what I wanted if there were a partner here to help carry the load. I was blind to the fact that without a partner here I can still have, in large measure, the day-to-day life I wish to have.

I started with making my teenaged son breakfast before school. With our schedules and other circumstances I have always been sure to have quick, healthy things for him to eat for breakfast, but it has very much been a ‘fend for yourself’ meal.

No more. While admittedly there will be days when I simply won’t be able to do it, one of my steps in reclaiming my life is to make breakfast for my son each morning. Today I made him two breakfast sandwiches: so he could eat on the way to the bus. He was running late and I knew he would not be able to sit down and eat today. Some days it may be as simple as a bowl of cereal, juice, and a cup of yogurt. Other days may be a full-blown breakfast feast. Regardless, it is important to me to do this act of love for my son.

He used to be able to get breakfast at school, but not anymore. In the mornings he usually is running late and will skip breakfast even if he has time to grab something. It is important to me that he eats in the morning, it is important to me that he starts of his day on a positive note, and it is important to me that he knows I love him. For us, this little thing will accomplish all of that.

I run my own business, and it has slowly infiltrated my life to the point that it is taking precedence over all else. No more. Starting today, I have set hours. Unless there is some urgent reason why I must work a little longer, or alter those hours, they are set.

I am from this point forward selfishly and ferociously guarding my life and priorities. I realized I have given ‘life’ control of my time. No more. While I will have to allow for unexpected circumstances, my life and my day is mine, and I will ensure that what I value most shows in how I live each and every day.

If ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’, then I want my every day to reflect that my treasure is God, Family, and Country. I want there to be no question in the minds of anyone observing my life, including myself, where my heart truly is.

Some will claim this is me applying the ‘Law of Attraction’. I think to a large degree the 'Law of Attraction' is grandiose bullpuckey designed to lead us off course, but that is another post for another time. What I do know is that I have the power and responsibility to create the life I want, in accordance to God’s Law and to His Holy Will. In humility and obedience to Him and His Will, with every allowance for ‘curve balls’, I can have my best life if I will do my part to ensure it.

What do YOU do to live your best life?

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Saving Marriage

Photo by J. Stewart
I was thrilled to find an article and an interview on CNN.COM from Award-winning Journalist, CNN Contributor, and Radio Talk Show Host Roland Martin about saving marriages. He has hit it right on the nose religiously, secularly, and statistically in his commentary on marriage and divorce. Our pride and society may claim otherwise, but the facts cannot be denied.

Some of what he has stated are topics I have also covered in this blog. It is not because we are in agreement that I am blogging about him today. It is because he said it so much better than I did, and his commentary is so much more fact-driven than emotion-driven. I feel perhaps sending you, my lovely readers, to his article and interview will help explain and support the points I have been making; but in a much more clear and effective way.

He points out that many are just too quick to exit a divorce at the first sign of trouble rather than trying to make it work. His statements about his own divorce in his first marriage is thought-provoking. He uses the movie “Why Did I Get Married” to illustrate some of his points.

From an LDS perspective, our leadership has also said the same things on the topic of marriage and divorce. The ongoing theme is that the answer to marital woes is not divorce except in the rarest of circumstances such as in abuse. Over and over members are urged to develop in themselves those qualities of selflessness, forgiveness, compassion, and tenderness which will make them a better spouse to their partner. The focus is on improving self and developing solid communication skills, rather than blaming the spouse or trying to make them change to suit ourselves.
Divorce

Enriching Your Marriage

The Women in Our Lives

What God Hath Joined Together

What can be learned from all of this can be and should be applied in our approach to dating. If we prioritize developing strong partnership skills in ourselves, and seek out those to date who have those same skills, our chances for finding a partner with whom we can create a happy, healthy, and lasting union increase exponentially. Above all else, we must be absolutely committed to the vows me make of being a loving partner and of sticking it out. Some of my own blogs on the topics may be found here:
Communication and Selflessness: The Heart of a Happy Eternal Union

Celestial Dating

Roles and Responsibilities

The Change in Family Values and its Effect in Dating

What have your own experiences been in marriage and divorce? What are you, as a single, doing to prepare yourself for an eternal union, and to find a like-minded partner?

SOURCES:

Roland Martin Website
http://www.rolandsmartin.com/
Accessed October 26, 2007

CNN.COM,US Section,'Commentary: Saving Marriages Must be a National Priority', Roland Martin, October 24, 2007
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/24/roland.martin/index.html
Accessed October 26, 2007

CNN.COM,CNN Video Section,'Saving Marriages',Interview of Roland Martin by CNN Correspondent (not named),October 24, 2007
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2007/10/24/martin.soundoff.marriage.cnn
Accessed October 26, 2007

LDS Website,‘Divorce’,Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2007
http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=ec21b5658af22110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1
Accessed October 26, 2007

LDS Website, ‘Enriching Your Marriage’,James E. Faust,Ensign, April 2007
http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=db0b6f708ee71110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1
Accessed October 26, 2007

LDS Website,‘The Women in Our Lives’,President Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona, November 2004
http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=a57e8fbe352fe010VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1
Accessed October 26, 2007

LDS Website,‘What God Hath Joined Together’,President Gordon B. Hinckley,Ensign, May 1991
http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=bf80b850e318b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1
Accessed October 26, 2007

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Being Single: Dating During Personal Crises

Photo by Roxana Gonzalez
At times in my life when I have experienced personal setbacks, I have considered pulling out of the dating arena until things return to ‘normal’. My friends have always counseled me to continue to date. They state that my circumstances do not define me, and that in those times of high stress, being able to get out and have fun and get that personal boost which dating can bring, could be exactly what I need to keep my morale up.

What I have experienced tells a very different story. I have discovered that in this day and age, people in the dating world are horrifically quick to judge people by their circumstances and by the curve balls life throws at them.

If you are hit with a sudden financial low: you are presumed to be a ‘gold digger’ and a ‘lazy lout’.

If you are hit with struggles with your kids: you are presumed to be a bad parent.

If you are hit with any type of legal woes: you are presumed to be ‘guilty’ and ‘deserving’ of them.

If your way of dealing with difficult people is not the same as your date’s ways: you are presumed to be either a ‘trouble-maker’ or a ‘doormat’.

The list goes on.

Where in the world did society come up with this notion that they are the only ones with valid trials not of their own doing: and everyone else brought theirs upon themselves and ‘deserve’ them?

How did dealing with a normal part of life known as ‘trials’ suddenly become a hallmark of some deeply-rooted character flaw?

People are so very quick to make assumptions based upon what they think they see, they frequently miss the bigger picture; and as a result, the truth. This mistake comes with a heavy price when it comes to relationships and eternity. The scriptures clearly tell us that we will not be found ‘innocent’ when we have been so quick to deem others ‘guilty’.
Luke 6:37
Moroni 7:18

It reminds me of that game I used to see in magazines where a macro view of something was shown, and from that small section, you were supposed to guess what the big picture was. It was a rare occasion when anyone guessed correctly.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS? *Answer at end of post. Photo by Chance Agrella

What this all boils down to is the philosophy I adopted previously, and which still applies in this circumstance. People are people and I am not responsible for what they think, feel, say, or do. I am only responsible for what I think, feel, say, and do. This means that I have every right to continue to date and live my life; just as those who feel otherwise or choose to be quick to cast me as something or someone other than I am, are free to do so . . .somewhere outside of the realm of my life.

*ANSWER: The photo is a very close up shot of the petals of a sunflower. As the picture illustrates, seeing one small part of something does not always mean we then know what the 'big picture' really is.


This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Being Single: The Divorced Ones - Service and Self-Sufficiency

Photo by Chance Agrella
Sometimes, divorced singles may encounter the ‘attitude’ whether real or imagined, that they are a burden on their ward or stake because they need help financially, emotionally, or physically (help with lawn care, help with home repairs, daycare to attend church functions, etc). Please keep in mind that it is generally difficult for anyone to ask for help; and those without partners and all of the additional burdens that the divorced face, usually do genuinely need extra help and service.

The church and the gospel promote self-sufficiency; but both also promote charity, compassion, and service. If someone genuinely needs the help, they need to be served with compassion. They are not being ‘a burden’; and serving them should be looked at as an opportunity for those serving them to receive the blessings that come with sacrifice, compassion, and service.

No one wants to be a ‘charity project’, but everyone appreciates receiving kind and compassionate service when they need it.

There is a proverb that says something to the effect of ‘if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime’. Many divorced singles want and need only to be taught how to do various things in order to then fend for themselves. They may not have the aptitude, tools, or skills for certain things . . . but anything they can be lovingly and patiently taught to do for themselves is a great thing.

This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Being Single: The Divorced Ones - Finding Balance

Photo by Roxana Gonzalez
When a divorce occurs, there are many things which happen. One of the biggest ones is having to carry all of the burdens alone. If children are involved, most commonly, one parent has sole custody. That parent oftentimes does not have backup. They are on their own for all of the child rearing, discipline, and care: with no partner backing them up to or with the kids. Even worse, and just as common: the rules are different between the two homes which is confusing for the kids, and which the children will take advantage of. This makes parenting even more challenging than it already is.

Just a few of the things divorced singles have to deal with, and usually more than one or two of these things are being simultaneously dealt with:

Custody and visitation issues and scheduling
Parenting alone
Being the sole provider for the household
Going to school to update job skills
Working full time, sometimes more than one job
Trying to find daycare
Severely stretched finances
Feeling overwhelmed with all the additional responsibilities and issues
Emotional issues personally and in the children

Those in leadership in wards, branches, stakes, regions, and in singles programs need to understand these things so they do not inadvertently add to the burdens already being carried.

Divorced singles absolutely need to be given opportunities to serve: they desperately need the blessings and the perspective-shift serving brings, as well as the spiritual boost that accompanies it.

However, they need compassion as to their particular circumstances, as well. They are usually overworked, financially-strapped, and without backup to help with the children. Transportation, time, expenses, and daycare are just a few of the obstacles that may be faced in the successful fulfillment of callings, and in participating in church singles activities.

This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Being Single: The Divorced Ones - Matters of Intimacy

Photo by Chance Agrella
The adversary works fervently at mocking all that is sacred, and at leading as many as possible to utter destruction. Once you have been married, and have experienced physical intimacy, it is extraordinarily challenging to ‘turn off’ that faucet. As human beings, we have natural drives and urges to mate and procreate. Once we have experienced these things, it seems to, in many cases, make that drive stronger.

When you are divorced, you not only have to deal with sleeping alone at night, but also with the deprivation of that physical intimacy, and satisfaction. Add on top of that, being thrust into the dating world, and having the continual temptation to cross boundaries and have once again what was lost . . .if even for a moment.

Feeling ‘lonely’ can be one aspect of our dilemma, but it is by no means all or even most of it. A study in the early to mid 1900’s with newborn babies concluded that as humans we need touch and physical affection in order to thrive.
“Psychologists and physicians agree that human beings need affection and loving touch in their lives. We’ve all heard of the infamous study where infants who didn’t receive affection and touch failed to thrive or even died. Our culture, however, places so much value on independence and a certain rugged individualism that it serves to diminish the value of affection overall.” (1)

We are counseled as single adults that the standards in the For the Strength of Youth booklet also applies to us. Many LDS single adults scoff at that idea, making it difficult to find someone to date with shared values. Also in dating, it can be difficult to find someone to date who honestly presents their standards and lives them. This contributes to the temptation levels those who are earnestly seeking chastity in dating experience.

If you accept a date with someone who presents themselves as living a moral life, and then discover on the date, in the midst of what started as innocent, that they are pushing your boundaries; you now have to have the clarity of mind to end the encounter. For some, this is not an easy task.

It is readily accepted as fact that the number one challenge faced by LDS Singles today is the sin of immorality in all of its forms. We are being targeted in our already-weakened state. The sin second only in seriousness to murder, this is a popular means of destruction the adversary chooses. Many LDS Single Adults indulge in such immoral behaviors as ‘Friends with Benefits’ and 'NCMO’. The justifications run rampant, but church counsel against such behavior is clear:
“If we are single and dating, always treat our date with respect. Those who are dating must never treat their date as an object to be used for lustful desires. They should carefully plan positive and constructive activities so that they are not left alone without anything to do. They should stay in areas of safety where they can easily control themselves. They should not participate in conversations or activities that arouse sexual feelings, such as passionate kissing, lying with or on top of another person, or touching the private, sacred parts of another person's body, with or without clothing.” (2)

We have to decide every time we accept and go on a date where our lines will be. We can decide them in advance; but with every date, we must recommit ourselves to them, and reassess if they are high enough or not. We have to find that balance between craving physical affection and having firm boundaries which maintain our morality.

In some cases, this may mean remaining dateless for extended periods of time as we continue to weed out those who do not share our standards, or with whom we would not feel that our virtue is safe.
“In cultures where dating or courtship is acceptable, dating can help youth develop friendships and eventually find an eternal companion. Youth in the Church are taught to wait until at least age 16 to begin dating and to date only those who have high moral standards. A young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to help each other maintain their standards and to protect each other's honor and virtue.” (3)
This is just one of many challenges we face in the dating world. Things are not how they used to be 15+ years ago. Being divorced only adds to challenges singles face in dating.

SOURCES:

1- Raising Children to be Affectionate by Shari Steelsmith October 2, 2004. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_041002.html
(accessed October 15, 2007)

2- Chastity. Additional Information > Keeping the Law of Chastity. LDS.org. http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.3933737ad2ff28132eb22a86942826a0/?vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&index=3&sourceId=23e80bbce1d98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____
(Accessed October 15, 2007)

3- Dating and Courtship. LDS.org. http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.3933737ad2ff28132eb22a86942826a0/?vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=0ddd0bbce1d98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____
(accessed October 15, 2007)

This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Being Single: The Divorced Ones -Shame and Guilt

Photo by Chance Agrella
Shame and guilt are just two of the many feelings divorced singles experience in the days, even years, following their divorce.

The gospel is heavily about eternal couples and families, so anything experienced in life which is less than that can leave a person feeling like an utter failure. Not a good feeling to have when you already may have those feelings of failure, just by virtue of having gone through a divorce.

It is common to experience a drastic drop in self-worth, and to feel utterly overwhelmed by new life circumstances which are to be dealt with alone. Most do not get married expecting to get divorced. Divorce is against all that most people believe and hope for when they first make their wedding vows.

It doesn’t help matters when outsiders, well-meaning or not, feel at liberty to commentate on our predicament. We realize, better than outsiders, what we and our children (if applicable) are going through. We need help and support and compassion: not judgment, criticism, or lecturing.

Why we got a divorce is not relevant to anyone other than us and our partner. It is good for us to understand why so we can correct it and have a better chance for a successful union down the road. Unless something happened which involves or needs to involve confession to our bishop, counseling, or law enforcement involvement, no one outside of the marital union has a ‘need’ to know the circumstances. Please respect our privacy. You don’t have to know details in order to love and compassionately serve us.

We just need to know that we have value and worth: that we are needed and loved. More on that will be covered in a future blog.

Making sure we know you are available WHEN we need you, is one of the best things you can do. Hugs, babysitting (when applicable), a lunch date, mowing the lawn for us, are all great examples of ways to compassionately serve us.

This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Being Single: A Series Begins

Photo by Chance Agrella
I was called as a single's rep a few months back, and serving in this calling has been very enlightening and educational for me . . .and for the married couples also involved in the program.

Our singles program started with all married couples running it. They are all age 50+. All, to my knowledge, have never been widowed or divorced. One confided in me that she 'married late' (I think she said age 28).

One of the women has been inviting a married sister to attend the singles activities because she feels this woman is 'lonely'. Her husband is away for work a lot. He expressed some discomfort with this idea.

Today, after the singles social there was a ton of extra food. We decided to run out plates to those who were unable to come, shut-ins, etc. One sister was asked if she needed us to make up some plates to take to anyone on her 'route'. She remarked that none of them were shut-ins and if they chose not to be here she was not going to take food to them.

I took food to those on my route. I felt really badly when I did so as one sister clean forgot about the social, and would have gone if she had remembered. I should have called and reminded everyone. I slacked off in my duty. I won't make that mistake again.

What I think a lot of people don't get is that 1/3 of this church is made up of the singles in it; and we have needs, concerns, and challenges which married people do not. We need help, encouragement, and compassion: not judgment and criticism. We need to feel cared about: not alienated.

I am going to start a series in this blog on the topic of being single and LDS, in an effort to help others understand what it is like; and maybe be better able to compassionately serve the singles in their wards, branches, and stakes.

In our little town, there are over 300 singles (ages 18+) just in my stake alone. Of those, exactly half (according to one of the counselors in the Stake Presidency whom I spoke with who performed the research) are completely inactive. We have to do something. We have to reach out more effectively. Can it be any more clear that the singles are in need, NOW?

Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.


Like what I wrote and want to buy me a cherry coke?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Too Picky . . . or Being Practical?

Photo by Chance Agrella
I have heard a lot of complaints from singles revolving around this idea that 'other' singles are 'too picky' and that is why they are still single. When asked about their own 'wish list', they balk.

This article was pointed out on a website I belong to, and while I totally agree with the concept, there is something lacking.

What the article is saying, in my perspective, is also what I say to those complaining about the 'too picky' thing. There is a difference between being 'too picky' and 'being practical'.

The things the article points out in the discussion about being too picky are all superficial or even shallow things. If we are looking for someone to build a lifetime or longer with, of course we should not be prioritizing such things.

However, when it comes to the things that revolve around our basic needs, or the foundation of creating and maintaining a lasting and happy relationship, there is no such thing as 'too picky'. You MUST have some serious discernment and discretion if you want to avoid divorce court.

There are certain personality and lifestyle traits in men which are simply not realistically well-suited for my needs. Some other women may well be able to compensate and tolerate. With my own life circumstances, it is not a matter of choosing to carry the weight in those areas or to be patient with them. The reality is that for a union with me to work, those things must not be present. My particular circumstances will not allow for them.

So, in weeding out men with those traits, I am not being 'picky', I am being 'practical'. See the difference?

As the article points out, a right match for us may not match at all the cardboard cut out based on fantasy we have created in our minds. What a blessing and wonder it is when you find someone who is 'everything you never knew you always wanted' (paraphrased from the movie 'Fools Rush In').

Also as the article pointed out, if we want to increase our chances for even finding a right match, we MUST broaden our horizons and open our minds.

Before we do any of that, though, it is crucial that we make ourselves a good partner first. If we don't have that cargo ship filled with steamer trunks down to one carry-on (emotional 'baggage' reference), we need to take a step back and fix ourselves before we subject others in the dating world to the train wreck that is us.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Men Just Want to Make Women Happy

Photo by Chance Agrella
As dumb as it may sound, there is something I didn't really 'get' until a few days ago. It is just how much men just really want to make women happy. It was when I was listening to those wonderful voicemail messages the other day, that it 'clicked' for me. In the days since, I have observed many more instances of this, and have been amazed at what I have seen.

Dr. John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, has a few fun and interesting clips available on Youtube.

In one of them he addresses this very concept in a most entertaining and enlightening way:


He quickly addresses the happiness issue here:


And, for those men who feel a bit clueless as to how to make women happy, here is one last clip which explains 'Venusian Scoring'. Very funny . . .and very true.


I honestly don't think women notice and appreciate this aspect of men nearly enough. The story Dr Gray shared about the clean kitchen and glass on the counter is something I, myself, have very much been guilty of across the span of my life.

Though in recent years, I have developed a much greater 'attitude of gratitude' generally speaking, it is only in the past few days I have realized how much I need to work on fully recognizing and appreciating the men in my life and all the wonderful things they do just to see me smile and make me happy.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Women Make More Money . . .and Don't Listen to Men

Photo by Chance Agrella
I caught this video on CNN and was appalled by how these two women were behaving. This man was trying to explain some great information, and these two women were so caught up in being defensive women's libbers, they didn't really hear one word he said. They jumped all over him, and were totally demeaning to men.

Ladies, SHUT UP! Seriously. It is hard enough to get men to open up. When you behave like THAT, it only encourages them even more to not talk to us.

Women like you tick off women like me.

The point he was trying to make at the end is that men would like women to understand how to 'turn off' that 'CEO' and 'Business Woman' when with men outside of the workforce, and 'turn on' their 'woman' mode.

Ladies, there is a difference, and if you swallow your false 'women are superior' pride for a minute, you will see that, too.

Women today wear many hats, and have to shift gears all the time. This is just one more gear shift; so why the games, arguing, and debate about it? Is the truth and reality so hard to swallow?

Good grief!

I like my men to leave work at work and be 'my man' when they are with me. Why should this be any different with men wanting their women to be their women and leave their work at work?

I get so tired of men being crucified for being gentlemen, and for wanting women to be ladies.

On a positive note, though, it is a great example of poor communication skills. *laugh*

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You Are . . .Enough.

Photo by Roxana Gonzalez
Sometimes in dating, our ego and self-worth can take a serious beating. I, too, have had times when I have struggled with feeling like I was 'enough'.

I had a series of several men I was involved with who raved to me and everyone they knew about how wonderful I was to them and to their children. They spoke of what a blessing I was to their life, and how my presence had changed it for the better. They stated more than once that no one had ever loved them as I had, and they knew no one ever could. They said they never felt more loved than when they were loved by me.

And yet, none of these relationships resulted in marriage. In every case, the man involved, though he said all of those things, still found some 'flaw' in being with me that totally nullified everything else, in his mind.

In essence, I was not 'enough'.

It has been an interesting journey for me to come to realize that in those relationships it was not that I was not enough. It wasn't even about me. In every case, the man involved had a 'ghost' or 'demon' in his life to deal with; and in every case, dealing with that (or not) is the heart and cause of what broke us up. My imperfection or imperfect life just got to be the convenient excuse.

It's frustrating, but understanding that helped me to get back on even ground again. I have learned that each and every one of us, in all of our imperfect glory, is 'enough' for someone. It is just a matter of finding them. There are many of them out there. We just have to learn to recognize them when they come along, and also recognize that they, too, in all their imperfections, are 'enough'.

This is a little video message of upliftment I wanted to share on this theme:

A TRIBUTE TO THE BEAUTIFULLY IMPERFECTLY ENOUGH YOU


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How Much is YOUR Word Worth?

Photo by Chance Agrella
When you tell someone you are going to do something, how good are you at following through on that, in a timely manner, no matter what?

Did you know that if you habitually procrastinate, break your word, or put other things ahead of following through, you are saying something very negative about yourself and shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to dating?

What you are saying is that you cannot be relied upon or trusted. This makes you unappealing in the dating world, and certainly shows you to not be good partner material.

Everything we do and say goes beyond the surface. It all forms patterns which reveal who we truly are, and what we truly value.

What do YOUR words and actions say about YOU?


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Monday, October 8, 2007

To All the Men I've Loved Before

Photo by Chance Agrella
I got one of those nasty 'your voicemail box is full ' messages today, so I took some time and went through the plethora of voicemail messages I had.

WOW!

I had messages dating clear back to July and I couldn't believe the creativity, kindness, and sexiness exuded in so many of them.

I LOVE MEN.

These messages included singing, funny fake accents, clever references to something unique to us or to my voice mail messages, jokes, compliments, and just downright sexy flirtatious talk (nothing R-rated).

I listened to these messages and I found myself laughing . . .and so very touched. I re-saved some of them, even though a few of those were from men who are no longer in my life. The creativity, kindness, and humor was just too precious to erase.

I guess it could be bittersweet; but I find myself just incredibly amazed at how blessed I have been, at some point in time, to have had the attention and affection of each of these amazingly charming men.

So, in the spirit of showing my appreciation to these men; and to all men who do those sweet, funny, sexy, tender little things in order to please, tease, love, and intoxicate us ladies, I offer the music video tribute below.

Thank you for being so awesome!

I LOVE MEN by EARTHA KITT


video courtesy of youtube user privatedancer74

To hear a better version of the song, click HERE


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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Communication and Selflessness: The Heart of A Happy Eternal Union

Photo by Roxana Gonzalez
A friend and I were discussing what makes a happy eternal union: and what partnership qualities are. We boiled it down to two things: communication and selflessness. I think both are absolutely necessary, and have equal importance. Without either, you have the makings of a divorce.

What is Communication?
The technical definition of communication is:

1. The act of communicating; transmission.
2. a. The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior.
b. Interpersonal rapport.
c. The art and technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas.


I really like the one which states that communication is 'the art and technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas' (italics added for emphasis.

When it comes to human relationships, being effective in communication can be a tricky thing. Not only do we need to be sure we are saying what we mean, and meaning what we say, but we also have to ensure we are communicating in a way in which the recipient can clearly understand us and what we truly mean. Sometimes we are like the person speaking in Greek to the person who only understands French; or the person speaking on a PhD level to the person who only comprehends on a 2nd Grade level.

As the presenter of the information, we have a responsibility to ensure we are speaking in a way the recipient clearly understands.

As a recipient of information, our responsibility is similar. We need to be sure we are really listening rather than putting our own filters on what is being said. We need to hear the speaker, and not get lost in our own internal voice critiquing and answering the information which is being relayed, as it is being relayed. We also need to ask questions, using techniques such as paraphrasing and parroting to open the door for the speaker to clarify anything we have not understood.

Parroting is the act of repeating back, like a parrot, verbatim what you have heard. It shows you were carefully listening, however it doesn't illustrate what was heard was understood.

Paraphrasing is the technique of putting what the speaker said into your own words, and then repeating it back to them. This not only indicates that you carefully listened, but it also can highlight what was understood and what was not. This gives the speaker an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.

Simple acknowledgments ('yeah', 'ok', 'uh huh') have their time and place, but are not enough in the full scope of effective communications. It is not enough to hear the words being spoken. We must hear and understand the meaning of the speaker which lies beneath the vocabulary.

Another critical aspect of effective communication is that of openness and honesty. For us to achieve a happy and eternal union, we must not only be open and honest with each other, but we must first and foremost be open and honest with ourselves. We cannot be honest with others if we are deceiving ourselves. If we are deceiving ourselves, we are building our relationship upon a foundation of sand, and it will eventually come crashing down around us.

Open, honest, and effective communication is the foundation of trust, and virtually eliminates all opportunities for the spirit of contention to enter into our union.


What is Selflessness?


Technically, selflessness is defined as:

1. the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others [syn: altruism] [ant: egocentrism]
2. acting with less concern for yourself than for the success of the joint activity


Selflessness is a crucial aspect of genuine love, and of creating a happy eternal union. When we put our partner's welfare and best interest first: ahead of what we want and need, we have won half the battle. If our partner also is doing the same, what do we have to contend about or worry about?

When we selflessly love our partner it is reflected in our words and actions to them and away from them. Our own happiness is rooted in theirs. We seek to find ways to serve them, give to them, sacrifice for them, meet their needs, love them, care for them, and protect them.

Our thoughts and heart is centered in their needs and welfare. If they fail to meet a need of ours, our thoughts do not focus on this, and then go to what we are going to withhold from them because of it. Selflessly loving our partner is only selfless when it is also without condition. When conditions are placed upon it, selfishness is rearing its ugly head.

SOURCES:

communication. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/communication (accessed: October 07, 2007).

selflessness. Dictionary.com. WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/selflessness (accessed: October 07, 2007).


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Introversion, Extroversion, Personality Assessments, Love, and Apologies

Photo by Chance Agrella
I am an introvert. Totally. Most people are genuinely surprised by this, and utter something to the effect of, "you don't seem shy".

A friend posted a link to this amazing short article on another site, and it truly sums up introverts. It explains me almost to a 'T'. It also explains that shyness and introversion are two different things.

Something else which explains me, and introversion, is also referred to in the article: the Myers-Briggs personality assessment.

According to the assessment, I am an INFJ. The 'I' is for 'Introverted'. One part of the explanation about the introversion of INFJs reads, "INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts..."

Another interesting part of the article was its reference to 'giftedness' and introverts, "a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population."

I am a firm believer in using good personality assessments and other tools to help understand the person you are involved with, and yourself; in the interest of developing the insight, tools, and skills needed to create and improve upon a beautiful and lasting relationship. I think there is great validity and usefulness with the Myers-Briggs assessment.

Understanding my own personality assessment helps me to better understand my own inherent strengths and weaknesses, and also to explain them to others. If I know the assessment of another, I can read up on what that means, and then better understand how best to relate to that person, and what things I need to learn to be more understanding or tolerant of.

I also subscribe to the principles of Dr. Gary Chapman's Love Languages and Apology Languages. A 30-Second (or less) assessment for BOTH is available online HERE.

I have found a tremendous benefit to understanding the love languages of others as it allows me to have the ability to give them my love and affection in the way in which they feel it and understand it. It is important also to understand that within each love language there are a plethora of 'dialects', so it is crucial that you also discern the dialect of the person, as well. Some free 'tools' regarding love languages may be downloaded HERE, and specific focus on the love languages and how it relates to couples may be further investigated HERE.

Apology languages are just as important to know, as in every relationship there will always be times when we will need to make amends. Knowing what the other person needs so they can feel our remorse is a good thing. It makes the apology process simpler and far more effective.

So, what personality assessments do you like, and how have they helped or hurt you and your relationships?



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Saturday, October 6, 2007

'Preferences' Vs 'Shallow Attitude'

Photo by Roxana Gonzalez

On another site, yet again the battle raged on about the shallow attitude some have in dating, and in life in general; and the justifications, rationalizations, and excuses were flying like mad. What irritated me most was people trying to use the gospel as a means of justifying their bad behavior and attitude.

First, let me say that there is a huge difference between having a preference and being shallow. A preference is just that. It is a preference. It is open-ended. It is open-minded. It is NOT judgmental, it is a part of having the ability to choose and finding something we LIKE better than other choices in that category. It doesn't mean we don't like other things or that we think only this one thing is 'good' and all other thing are 'bad'. It is just the thing that is tops on that particular list.

Shallow is an completely different matter. Shallow involves being judgmental. It is saying one thing is good and all other things are bad; or that one particular thing is bad while all the other things are good. It is using something very superficial as a means of determining the worth or value of something or someone.

For example, if you have a 'preference' for blondes, that just means blonde hair appeals to you more than brunette hair. You will still date brunettes, and you don't see anything about blonde men/women as being 'better' than brunette men/women. You just find yourself more attracted to blonde hair than brown hair. No biggie.

Shallow is when you believe that only blondes are worth dating; that they are superior to their brunette counterparts. Shallow is when you believe brunettes are somehow deficient or not worthwhile simply by merit of having brown hair.

See the difference?

So, when the debate ensued, my dander got up and this is the resulting rant (which I did not post there, but saved to use as my blog here:

I am sick to death of the excuse that 'well that is just how men/women are'. That is total BS. Regardless of what any of us as individuals deal with on a primal coding level, we, each and every one of us, have a divine responsibility to become more than we are; and to do all we can to overcome our baser natures, and strive to become more eternally and celestially-minded.

I am so sick of this member-endorsed but doctrinally incorrect malarkey that regularly gets spewed and further propagated.

Ya got preferences, cool. But don't blame the church for your shallow attitude. And, yes, there is a difference between preferences and a shallow attitude.

If you are putting shallow wish list items ahead of those things of eternal value, guess what: Yes, you are indeed being shallow and displaying incorrect priorities and values. Either embrace it or change it; but don't tell those who point this out or are different that they are being 'intolerant' or are 'wrong'. You are doctrinally in the wrong. Deal with it.

Oh, and if you are interested in someone who won't give you the time of day because you don't match their 'shallow' wish list, or their 'preferences' (again: two different things). .. MOVE ON. Stop complaining, whining, bashing them, and nagging them to 'change'.

They are who and what they are; just as you are who and what YOU are. Clearly the two of you are not a match, so find someone who isn't shallow, and has a person like YOU on their wish list.

You'll be more apt to find an eternal match that way.


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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writing to Santa Claus and Men















An interesting article I was referred to today compares writing to Santa Claus with communicating with men. That and the other short tips it gave were really interesting. The article was one in a short series of tips about understanding men.

So, in the spirit of preparing for Christmas (since all merchants now have us several months ahead in holiday thinking anyway pfffffffffffffffffffftttttt), My Christmas Wish List for Men is as follows:


All I Want From YOU is:

Chivalry: open my doors, hold my hand. . . you know the drill.
Affection: touch me, kiss me, hold me, look into my eyes. . .all that good stuff.
Take an Interest in ME: get to know who I am, what I want, my dreams, my goals, my hurts, my fears. . .listen, pay attention, and observe. Learn.
Talk to Me: tell me why YOU choose ME. I need to know what you love about me and the good things you see in me.
Take Care of Me: Yes, I am independent, but I love it when you are protective of me, and do things for me just because you love me. So yes, defend me, protect me, cherish me, take care of me. Don't let anyone treat me badly or speak badly of me or to me. This includes YOU.
Be Yourself: you are the man I choose to be with. Trust me and let me in. Show me all that makes you the amazing and sexy man you are. You are safe with me. I will defend you, protect you, cherish you, and take care of you. I will not allow anyone to treat you badly or speak badly of you or to you. This includes me.
Love my child as your own.
Let me love your children as my own.
Be who you have presented yourself to be: That is who I chose.
Do what you say you are going to do: That is how I can trust you.


What would YOUR letter to men or women look like?

By the way, on the subject of writing to Santa Claus, here are two links to help you out:

Free Letter to Santa. Allows children send a free email to Santa. Cool site I have used before. Non-commercial.

Free Letter from Santa. Create a free customized printable letter from Santa for your child (or significant other if your sense of humor is wacky like mine).



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Yoga and Dating

Sometimes I find myself feeling highly stressed by dating. I get really tired, really quickly, of the games, the lies, the 'hidden meanings', and all the other bullpuckey that is associated with 'The Dating Game'.

Something I have found which is not only a great form of exercise, but also a great way to de-stress is Yoga. Some of the poses are difficult, but they don't need to be done. You can do just those ones you are able to do, and skip over the rest. . .or work up to the challenging ones.

I love the stretching and relaxing breathing aspects of yoga. It feels so wonderful. There are many health benefits to yoga, and even Oprah is jumping on the bandwagon now.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across two videos [see below] showing how couples can do yoga together! What a great and fun activity for a date!

I really hope Tara Stiles and Tracy Lee (both Ford Models) do more partner yoga videos. I think they work together really well, and I love the concept of a couple working out together.

For more information about Yoga, click HERE

If you have never tried yoga, alone or as a couple, I highly recommend you DO try it. I think you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Partner Yoga Video #1


Partner Yoga Video #2




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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Goodbye Letter for Those Who Can't Say it Themselves

To The Person I Have Been Dating:

I have sent you this link because there is something I wanted to say to you, but I didn't know how. I have enjoyed getting to know you and spending the time with you that I have. But, it has become clear to me that this just isn't working anymore. It isn't what I am looking for.

It pains me to say this because I would never want to hurt you. But, I know putting this off will only hurt you more, and that is something I could never do to you.

Please forgive me for not being able to say this myself, or in person. I know you deserve that much, but I am just too weak and poor with words to be able to say what needed to be said in the dignified and kind way you deserve. (Ok, I'll admit it: I am a coward.)

I am really sorry.

I wish you the best in all you do, and in your search for a right match. I know you will find the rich happiness and deep lasting love you so very much deserve.

Sincerely,

The Person Who Sent You This Link





*This letter has been provided courtesy of "Dani, the Dating Diva" who did so in an effort to encourage people to say their goodbyes promptly and to not go 'poof'; but does add that goodbyes really should be said in person.


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Saying 'Goodbye' Pt 2: Procrastination is Cruel

So the friend who convinced me to write the previous 'goodbye' post and I were talking about it, and guess what? I missed a very important issue in my post. So, here it is:

When you procrastinate saying 'Goodbye' you are being horrendously cruel.

Think about it. While you are hemming and hawing and putting it off, what is the other person doing? They are building their hopes up on there being a relationship with you. They are letting their walls down, and allowing some feelings to develop for you.

They are becoming more susceptible to a deeper hurt. . . all because YOU are putting off doing something you should have done the moment you realized it: been honest with them.

Is this really the character you want to establish for yourself? Is this who you are or want to be: someone who is this insensitive and cruel? Of course not.

TELL THEM GOODBYE.

No more excuses, no more justifications and rationalizations. No more putting it off.

Do the right thing and spare them any further and deeper heartbreak.

Again, breakups are not a big deal unless you make it one. Breakups are all just part and parcel of the dating process and if handled maturely and with kindness, there is no reason why both parties can't say goodbye on good terms and move forward seamlessly.

There will always be some 'goodbyes' which are more disappointing than the others. But, that, too, is part of the process. All of it is leading up to the awesome and amazing relationship ahead: the one we will one day be in and looking back upon all the breakups wonder why we allowed ourselves to get so shook up over them.

And, again, if you are the recipient of the 'goodbye', take it in stride. Be grateful you found out sooner rather than later; and that they had the class, kindness, and maturity to tell you rather than go 'poof' on you. Realize this is bringing you one more step closer to the person you really want to be with who really wants to be with you, and revel in that.

It's all about the attitude, babes.


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