Elephantine Women – Not Exactly Politically Correct

j0427640 In my earlier post titled, Looking Good Naked, Custis wrote a rather lengthy comment because the topic clearly resonated with him.  While his comments might not be considered by many as politically correct and might even be incredibly offensive to others, he makes some reasonable points.  If you haven’t done so, go read my original post, read the comments, most notably his, and those that follow (at the time of this writing there are none) and then return here to read what I thought of his comments.  I’ve written it as though I was responding in the post comments to him.

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LOL!  Custis, that wasn’t exactly PC, but it’s your opinion and you are definitely entitled to it.  :)  Thanks for commenting.  I do, as you might expect, have a few questions for you based on your own logic but before I go there I want to clarify some things, just in case, about what all this is really about for me:

1.  This is not about me just trying to obtain some cultural standard of airbrushed skinniness and beauty. 

2.  This is not about me just feeling fat and ugly due to the preponderance of cultural expectations for beauty which I am surrounded by and which I fear I do not measure up to.  (I am surrounded by it, I don’t measure up to it by virtue of the fact that I am no longer in my 30’s, so what’s the point with that, and I really don’t care, okay, well sometimes I care, but not usually.)

3.  I am the person I am trying to impress right now and no one else.  I am not trying to look good naked to meet anyone else’s approval but my own.  That demands a firm fit body that works and feels good (has energy and is more positive in my outlook, etc.) not simply a smaller body.  If, by chance, I do end up impressing anyone else with the progress I make, that is merely gravy.  It is not my goal.  I’m the one I have to wake up with each morning and it is about time I decided that that is the person I’d best be getting to know and working on feeling comfortable with. So far, I’m not quite there yet, but I’d like to be.

Just sayin’ because anytime we start talking about “Looking Good Naked” or getting in shape or losing weight there’s lots of room to misunderstand motivations.  Mine is, simply, I don’t feel good.  I don’t like it.  I know what to do.  I need to simply stop making excuses and take the Nike approach and just.do.it.

Now about your comment…and back to my questions:

1.  You said that I should stop eating everything that tastes good?  Okay, so does this mean I must toss the asparagus and the Brussels sprouts and the avocado that I find to be incredibly yummy?  I suffer from borderline anemia and need my deep greens, how’s that going to work?  You said stop eating everything that tastes good?

 
j0387212 2. If I only eat from the produce section how am I going to get my protein in order to sufficiently rebuild those muscles I’m using and working when I weight train (you know that piece of the plan you seem to have left out where I stack weights on a bar and try to then lift it, press it, squat it or curl it?)  Yeah, definitely I need the protein.  I also like my meat.  Hee! Hee! 

3.  Is self-discipline in dieting all that is required?   I hate to tell you and I’m not a fitness researcher or expert or anything and, while I get where you are coming from, when you "diet" your body begins hoarding stuff and stockpiling fat and then when you eat again, more of the stuff is stocked up by the body, so to speak and less of it is used. Yes, over time, doing this you will lose weight, but you also destroy your body’s muscle tissue.  This results in what I like to refer to as someone who is skinny but still fat and very likely unfit.  It is not healthy.  That is not where I’m going.

4. Further, there is some good research and information out there on this.  You can Google it. I know you like to do that kind of thing so have at it.  I bet you find out what I found out.  Getting fit is not simply about the foods we eat or don’t eat, it is more than that.  This is why most credible sports/fitness people will tell you that it is much healthier to eat five small meals a day rather than three larger ones and yes, you need to have some healthy fats in there too, but, true, not a plateful.  There’s more to it than I’ve described, and that is an oversimplification of things to be sure, but don’t throw such a theory out just because you don’t understand it.

Now, as for your “elephantine” friends, might I suggest that it is very possible that they are eating correctly all through the day and not losing the weight for other reasons than you suppose?  I’m not saying that you are necessarily incorrect, I don’t know for sure, but my experience and my own study leads me to conclude that it takes more than just changing one’s eating habits in order to really lose serious weight in a healthy way and I might even go so far as to conclude that in order to really be effective a regimen of weight training is a must in addition to good diet and regular aerobic exercise.

Personally, I’ve done this fitness thing a lot in the last 20 years since I quit swimming a couple of miles a day and cycling 25+ miles too.  (Yeah, I would run at least 5 miles on the alternating days when I wasn’t cycling, but then, marriage, kids, a real job came along and kinda pre-empted all that).  I tend to be one of those who gained an excessive amount with each pregnancy and have topped over 213 before in my life, on not just one but several occasions (all of them pregnancy related).  While I’m not there now, the same principles will apply as I seek to get my body back in shape, because, you see that is really what it is about for me. 

Here’s why:

1.  I personally enjoy food and I am not going to hurt my body or ruin my life because I’m anorexicly watching every calorie.  Oh, yes, I will change what I eat and how much, but I’m not going to be sick about it if I fail occasionally.  I’ve been there done that too, got down to 119  pounds doing that one summer and, yes, the world wondered if I was sick.  I wasn’t bulimic (I can’t stand throwing up) and I wasn’t anorexic, but I was headed there.  I was obsessive and eating about every diet pill ever invented.  I went from about 140 pounds (which is a good weight for me to be) especially if it is the right amount of muscle down to 119 in a VERY short period of time.  I’m told the stress that creates on the body is the equivalent of shaving off about ten years of my life.  Yeah….not doing that again either.

2.  I personally am not about losing weight.  I really don’t care what the scale says.  Nope.  I don’t.  I care what my jean size is. I care what the tape measure says, and whether or not the flabby skin under my arms is cut and toned (which means it is going to be really helpful when it comes to digging up yard this summer).  I care how my legs look in a short skirt and heels (which right now I wouldn’t even attempt) and I care that I can do what I need to do without getting winded which is what those sexy supple legs in the short skirt and stilettos will be very capable of doing. I really care that I get those swimmer flat abs that I always had (until that 4th child came along) back. Because a strong back and abs, along with the strong legs, arms, chest and shoulders, means I’ll be able to split my own firewood (something I can’t do now) and look damn sexy doing it.  I care that I feel strong and able to handle whatever might come.  This isn’t ever going to happen by just eating the right stuff and less of it. Your approach will make me suffer headaches, and make me cranky, and that will negatively impact all my relationships and the next minute I walk into the school cafeteria I’ll be ordering up all that junk and inhaling faster than a brand new Kirby vacuum on a dirty floor.  I’m not doing that either.

j0402319Bottom line:  I have to stack on the weights.  And, yes, I do mean stack them on, though not right away and not all at once. And, hate to tell all the folks out there who believe that women should only do lots of reps with lower amounts of weights because they will just bulk out and become manlike.  Wrong.  Myth.  So not going to happen.  Watch and see. Or…Google and find out for yourself. 

3.  Further, if I’m going to be healthy, which is really my ultimate goal here, I have to involve myself in regular aerobic activity (and this doesn’t include chasing my kids around all day).

Do you see a pattern here?  In my three-pronged approach to my “physical” fitness (and this whole thing is about so much more than that for me) there is diet (meaning eating the right stuff in the right amounts, not starving), weight or strength training, and cardio exercise or aerobic exercise.  Two of the three have to do with physical exertion and calorie burn only one has to do with food.  Understand where my focus is going to be?  It will be on all three and I won’t starve to do it either.  Watch  me.

 

Now that you’ve quite patiently endured my little rant (thank you so much for throwing that door wide open),  I do agree with the main thesis of your comment which was it simply takes self-discipline.  It does, though it isn’t always so simple as I know you are well aware.  It means saying no to some things and saying yes to some other things and when it all gets difficult or inconvenient it means doing it anyway. It means picking yourself up when you fail and pressing on instead of caving to misery and giving up.  That’s the internal component I’ve referred to so much before now.  The Bible in Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”.  What we think determines so much of our success and failure in life.  This journey is not an easy one.  I know that.  It takes not only self-discipline, determination, and a whole host of other character traits I will need to draw from in order to be successful.  Stephen Covey, in his book, Habits of Highly Effective people lists as Habit #2, “Begin with the end in mind”. 624231_79466469 In a sense, that is exactly what I’ve done here as I seek to envision not only me in a more fit body but me with a healthier lifestyle going on.

And, now that you’ve distracted me enough with this little topic, I must refocus my efforts and get going on that workout program.  My day is getting away from me and I have a date with the produce section at my local grocery store after I get done working out. 

Cheers and thanks for commenting,

The Wild Mind

How’s That Hope And Change Workin’ For Ya?

Yeah, I know.  It’s a political sentiment posted on Facebook status updates and bumper stickers, but that isn’t how I intend it.  I’ve spent my last two posts talking about my grand designs for a “Healthy New Year”.  I feel in the interests of honesty and authenticity, I ought to share exactly how that’s gone for me so far, only one day into this “healthy” (hahaha!) new year. 

Yesterday I had such great plans.  I’ll save you the angst.  Suffice it to say I accomplished absolutely none of it.  I stayed in my p.j.’s all day.  I did not exercise.  In the name of not wasting food, I made lunch for myself of leftover (wait for it) fried chicken.  Yes, the yummy greasy stuff and store bought to boot, not even home made, which I’m certain would have shaved, oh, half a calorie off it.  I ate three whole pieces.  Not true.  I ate two whole pieces and the skin (ewwww!) off the third.  Sigh. 

If that wasn’t bad enough I had the healthy food compared to what my kids got.  I am such a derelict mother! My kids chose Bagel Bites for lunch! And, of course, I let them choose.  Yeah, all that, while perfectly healthy and yummy tasting turkey is in our fridge ready to be made into sandwiches.  (What?  The bread is moldy? Crap!)

On top of all that, my son digs the chocolate chip cookie dough out of the fridge and decides to start digging in.  Well, out of sight out of mind, but put the junk right in front of me while I’m blowing off my entire day relationally and otherwise by importing all my CDs to iTunes and then synching my new iPhone (yeah, don’t get all excited…it is only the 8 gig one and a refurbished one at that) I ended up just having to have a taste.  And then another taste and, now, well, I’m not feeling so great.  Add to that two glasses of yummy Reisling (hey, it was just there begging to be sipped) and  I’m laughing uncontrollably at my own weakness. So much for my great resolve, eh?

Yep.  The best laid plans of mice and men…or something like that?

Sigh. I’ve developed a lot of really crummy self indulgent (as opposed to not so crummy self indulgent?) habits over the last decade. 

This is going to be a bit more difficult than I thought.  

Well, I guess, I can take the Scarlett O’Hara approach and deal with it tomorrow. 

But that’s the last “gimme” I’m giving myself!  I swear! 

If Life Were A Supermarket, Where Would I Find You?

Copyright CABrasseur, 2009

Some of you might know that I have another blog titled Welcome To CABsPlace. I’ve kind of let that dangle a bit as I try to clarify really what my own vision is for each of my blogs.  For now, I think I’ve decided to make CABsPlace more of my personal or family blog and have it deal more with parenting, home improvement, and single mommy stuff, while this one will address more adult themes of mid-life singles, divorce, relationships, dating, self-improvement and personal growth, as well as parenting.  To that end, I am going to start moving some of the CABsPlace Posts over here in cases where the content is more suitable for this blog.  This is the first of such posts.  You’ll know the original post content because the font will appear (hopefully) in a different color.  And, yes, I am taking liberties, at times to edit and enhance (this does not mean re-write) the posts when necessary.

I hope you enjoy these.  Some of them are my earlier works and it is interesting to see how much I’ve changed in my thinking and my writing in the last couple of years. Do, please, let me know what you think.  The feedback is incredibly valuable to me.  

The email comment read, “If life were a supermarket, I bet I’d find you in the desserts and treats aisle”. I pondered this statement momentarily, thinking, well that’s a pretty creative way of putting yourself out there.  However, I thought to myself as I gazed at the digital text, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate. I mean, desserts and treats?  Fun?  Yes.  Sweet and yummy? I like to think so in the right circumstances with the right kind of guy.  Complete fluff and no real relational nutrition?  Not so much.

I decided to rewrite myself as if my life were a supermarket. Where would one find me? Here’s my start to that creative question. 

Check out the decadent phallic symbols in this picture!

If life were a supermarket, I’d be in the desserts and treats section because I am fun, sweet, yummy, tasty and gooey and, at times, in the appropriate context with a suitable member of the opposite sex, very decadent.  I’d also be in the fine wines section because I am aging well and I deserve to be savored rather than gulped and tossed aside.  You’d find me in the the tri-tip steak section because I am tender, flavorful, tasteful and authentically real unlike the hot dogs or bologna slices you find in the processed lunch meats aisle.  You’ll  find me in the produce aisle especially near the dark green leafy vegetables, the mushrooms and the zucchini because I am really down to earth, health conscious, but not fanatical. You’d find me in the coffee aisle because the smell of fresh brewed coffees is more about ambiance that caffeine and mood is so important to a satisfying relationship.  You’d find me in the cleansers and detergent aisle because while I’m not OCD, I am definitely a bit of a neat freak and I like my home and my things and my children to be clean…as well as myself and my own clothing. Of course, you’d find me in the toiletries aisle, at some point, because like all good moms, I take care of the details and I’m prepared for any emergency. You would not find me in the fast food or chips and dip section, because I have a bit more substance than that. However, even I have been known on occasion to indulge in popcorn or cotton candy and even I, on occasion drink a beer. But I don’t frequent those aisles often and if you caught me there it would be a chance meeting indeed. You might find me in the section with wild jalapeno peppers because I can be hot and spicy.  You’d find me in the International Foods section because I love the world, it’s peoples and hope to travel to meet them someday in their own countries, at their own tables, in their own settings. In short, you’d find me in any aisle with food that authentic food goes well with fine wine, friends, good music, good times and the making of cherished memories…that is…if my life were a supermarket.

Now, if your life were a supermarket, where would I find you???

Have fun with this!  I look forward to your comments.

Early Morning Coffee

Beautiful Woman Enjoys Coffee This is a special time of year in spite of all its hectic pace, congested traffic, brawls over parking spaces, and time spent waiting in line to have gift wrapping done so you can support your child’s extracurricular organization. In spite of the added awkwardness and possibly uncomfortable and painful moments that arise when children spend their lives in two homes instead of one, this time of year is still something to be relished, cherished, savored, experienced. 

At this time of year, just like every other season throughout the year, I begin my day with my early morning coffee.  In fact, especially at this time of year it is a creature comfort of mine to wake early without the aid of alarm clock, while the house is still dark, pad barefooted out to the living room and turn on the Christmas lights.  All of them.  The lights on the tree, the lights under the tree, the lights on on the speaker, the lights above the piano, the lights on the bookcase and on the sofa table (which is not behind the sofa).

After turning on the lights, I stumble through the kitchen to the garage to let the dog out to the back yard; to her side of the back yard so she can do her morning business.  It is then that I get down to the important business of brewing my morning coffee.  While waiting for the coffee to brew (a task that seemingly takes forever), I start the fire.

There is nothing more wonderful, more peaceful and more serene than sitting on my couch looking at the serene glow of a festively decorated Christmas tree, coffee mug in hand, while the fire crackles and snaps warmly, reassuringly, comfortingly in the fireplace.  Surely, come what may, everything will be okay.

j0430486 In these early morning weekend hours, I build kingdoms, establish a million possible futures, rewrite my past mistakes while retaining all the lessons learned and never, ever do I write the kids out of the picture.  In these early morning hours, I consider how things were just two short years ago when I had to go begging food at the local church food pantries in order to keep food in my progeny’s bellies while paying off, what seemed an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain of debt; most of which wasn’t even mine. In these early morning hours, I reflect on how slowly but surely things have improved.  I appreciate the strength I’ve mustered from somewhere deep within to prune back all to the bare bones, to re-evaluate my life and adapt, adjust, reinvent when needed but mostly to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one burned meal on the table after another and to simply show up and be counted in the world one more time for one more day, often, when I wished I didn’t have to.

I know I am not alone.  Not in my enjoyment of early morning coffee; not in my surviving divorce and the crushing financial realities that often follow. 

And, so, you see…the moments of this season that are lit with the shining light of gratitude, appreciation and mostly hope are to be treasured above all and enjoyed in quietness and solitude with an early morning cup of the dark, liquid brew we all know as coffee. 

j0441005 Plenty of time for the traffic jams, the long lines, the noise and the piped in holiday music that triggers my gag reflexes better than sticking my finger down my throat.  For now, it is me time.  It is the height of the holiday season here in my quiet little living room, fire warming the house, tree aglow and coffee warmth in my hands and on my tongue.  I’m thinking how bad it was and how far I’ve come. 

I’ve survived.  Till the next big thing anyway, but I’ve survived thus far.  If I can, you can too.  Just keep getting up every morning.  Just keep going to work.  Just keep doing the daily stuff.  Pretty soon it stacks up and things do get better.  They always change.  Misery and pain are never permanent.

Even though I can’t afford even the best deal on a new HDTV or the latest in iPhone technology, even if I can’t afford the latest killer deal on the surround sound theatre system or the family package trip to Mexico for the holidays, even if I’m going to have to continue watching every expenditure like the proverbial hawk for a few more years…I am grateful. 

And in spite of my inability to enter into the spending fray of the season with abandon, I’m still celebrating.  I’m still joyous and maybe even more so because I can’t “spend” on material things.  This situation I’ve found myself in has, as my mother would have once informed me, been a “blessing in disguise”.  I’ve learned to be so much more appreciative of what I have.  I value the little things so much more. 

The little things.  Like a red ornament hanging on a fake tree that was purchased without using a credit card or overdrawing the bank account. The little things like two siblings who usually tear each other down in sibling squabbles playing a board game together with me for hours without one demeaning comment. 

The little things, like a warm cup of coffee on a cold wintery morning with a warm fire blazing.  Coffee, mug and firewood all paid for. Little things.

The joy in my life and the contentment in my heart and my hopeful outlook about the future…not such little things. 

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j0406570 Coffee Drinker’s Prayer?

Caffeine is my comfort; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake on early mornings:
It leadeth me beyond to get up and go to work.
It restoreth my energy:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the weary, overworked and under rested,
I will fear no Equal™ or other sugar substitute:
For thou art with me; thy creamer and thy stir stick, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a 20 oz. venti with an extra shot before me in the presence of  Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with clarity, at least more than I would have had without you; my mug runneth over.
Surely aroma, flavor and warmth shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the Mocha Mansion forever.

What Color Ornaments Do You Have Hanging On Your Tree?

Christmas ornaments Now, before you go getting your diaper in a knot because you suspect I’ve breached an impropriety by asking a question that is far too personal, just hold on.  It is, after all, Christmas and the season for festive decor.  By festive decor I do mean festive and, well, just look about.  It is everywhere.  The decor at this time of the year is bright, colorful and nearly overwhelming.  I have to admit, some of the decor is even nauseating.

In my younger years, I was totally into the decorator trees. You know, pick a color theme and go with it.  My ex, however, simply could not see his tree decorated in such a manner.  He was into the multi-colored decor.  You know what I’m talking about.  All the different colored lights, tinsel and balls ornaments strung willy nilly on the tree.  The tree ends up looking like someone puked candy on it.

I always had a hard time putting more than three colors on my tree.  Actually, two colors was pushing the limit.  I’m a bit of a monochromatic scheme girl myself since the tree itself lends so much strength, vigor and color to the entire situation in its natural state.  Why hide a good thing with grotesque coloration?  Would you tattoo your tree? No?  Too many varied colors on the tree makes me wonder if the tree is sick or dying or something dire. It certainly makes me feel a bit queasy looking at something like that. A tree with too much ornamentation or the wrong color ornamentation is just wrong.  The tree ends up seeming dwarfed by the decor; diminished behind the ornaments.

427730_31826638 Another problem with tree decorating can be found with the choice of the ornaments.  Color is so critical, don’t you think?  I mean, gold balls ornaments are nice.  They indicate a sense of peace and rest.  They represent prosperity and wealth.  They embrace a position of satisfaction and contentment.

Silver ornaments on the other hand are hard, cold, unfeeling and unyielding.  Brrrrrr! Want that hanging on your tree?  What on earth do silver things do but reflect a coldness to the brightly wrapped boxes under the tree.  Might as well have a white and frozen tree.  Not much fun there.  Cold, icy, painfully un-giving. 

Green ornaments?  Eww! Moldy. Decaying unused, sick.  Good if they turn a different color with some tender polishing and loving care, but if they are permanently green?  Something seriously must have died on that tree. Or maybe the ornaments are just discolored permanently669015_26888462 due to negligence or lack of use. 

Purple or pink ornaments?  Give me a break! Or….give them a break!    

Red ornaments?  Hmmm, now we’re talking a color that ignites The Wild Mind’s imagination.  It seems there’s a nice balance between the luxuriously contented peacefulness of the gold ornaments and the passionate, energetic, passion of the red ornaments. 

Blue ornaments?  Seriously?  Do I need to say anything more?

What color ornaments are hanging on your tree, this holiday season? 

Tickled…Tickled Pink…Actually!

Not sure quite why I chose that particular title for this post…. 

I haven’t done a Google Ad Words search on it to see if it is SEO or anything.

In fact, over the last several weeks, what with the exit of the Oz and all, I’ve kind of done some thinking.  Amazing what you can get accomplished when you aren’t spending your time texting or talking to  or IMing someone on the other side of the world.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished with all the extra freed up time:

I’ve done some thinking, as I mentioned.  More about this later.

I have cleaned my house (not that it was dirty to begin with, but I actually can see the bottom of the laundry pile now…in fact…there is no laundry pile).

I’ve cleaned out my refrigerators.  Oh, and they really needed it!

I’ve gotten myself sick. Yeah, that’s what happens when you try to be the single mom of four kids and hold down not one, not two but three jobs to make ends meet.

I’ve read two whole books in the last week.  Amazing what you can do when you are sick…and can’t really read but you can’t sleep either so…what else do you do other than just stare at the ceiling and let your thoughts make you crazy.

I’ve actually folded and hung all my clothes from the laundry (j/k…I do that anyway).

I’ve gotten caught up on some work projects, na, scratch that.  I haven’t.

I’ve done some thinking. (Here it comes…really…it’s nothing really monumental or anything!)

I’ve made some decisions.

I decided, I’m not going to write unless I want to…meaning…writing under pressure (unless it is fun pressure) is so not for me. Well, at least not until I get a book deal (hahahahahahaha!) and then I will write, I will sign autographs and books, I will talk under pressure no problem…but until then…it’s going to be all about what catches my writing fancy.  So there! 😉

This also means, I’ve decided that I’m going to focus less here on how many search terms might be in my blog posts and just write what I love and do the best at that, that I can do.  Hopefully the masses, or a few of them, will like it enough to tell someone else to come visit.  I know this is probably the death knell to the blogger who wants a book deal and a movie deal out of it, but face it…I’m just not Julia and Julia right now.  Even so, I hope some of you will decide to comment, because that’s where I get my best ideas for further writing.

I’ve also decided that while I am really super sad that things with the Oz and I didn’t work out and I am super sad for my part in the demise of the whole thing, I am not going to let this make me even more bitter and untrusting…and for me…that wouldn’t be a hard thing to accomplish because I could go there.  But I won’t.  Instead of shutting myself down (which I might do at times to just sort stuff out but not forever) I’m going to work on really taking this opportunity to refocus. 

Some quotes that have helped me lately:

To the Oz….

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.  I miss you like hell.  ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

To The Wild Mind…

[A] final comfort that is small, but not cold:  The heart is the only broken instrument that works.  ~T.E. Kalem

To Everyone Out There…

Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.  ~Lamartine

And again To Everyone Out There…

In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

To The Wild Mind and To Everyone Else Out There With A Broken Heart….

Love is like a puzzle.  When you’re in love, all the pieces fit but when your heart gets broken, it takes a while to get everything back together.  ~Author Unknown

And this…

Don’t worry about losing.  If it is right, it happens – The Main thing is not to hurry.  Nothing good gets away.  ~John Steinbeck, 10 November 1958

And for all who would, like The Wild Mind, attempt love, fail and dare to try again…these words…

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” — Robert H. Schuller

I’m not a Robert Schuller fan per se, but if the shoe fits….

Anyway, I’m tickled pink that I’m not sick, tickled pink to be returning to work tomorrow although it will not be easy after being out sick for a week, and I’m tickled pink that, well, it just isn’t worse than it is.  Seriously.  As a friend recently told me, “Chin up, girl.  You own your own home, your bills are paid, you have food on the table, transportation to work and a job to go to…in fact…more than one of them!  And…you’re an intelligent woman…you can actually learn to cook!  How bad can life be?”

Okay, yeah, that from a guy who is happily married and gets it whenever he wants but, okay, we’ll go with the intent there.

Anyway…can’t really put a finger on it, but I’m just feeling a little tickled pink and I kinda don’t really have any reason to be except that I’m alive and healthy and, well, I guess I’m grateful for all that and considering that Thanksgiving is just around the corner I guess that’s a good thing.

So, given that every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning….that when a relationship ends it can be a great opportunity for reinventing oneself, I have these questions for peeps out there…

What have  you done that helped you overcome a breakup?

Breakups aside, have you ever gotten to the place where you felt you wanted to reinvent yourself?  Did you?  How is it going?

How Rushing A Sorority Is Like Online Dating

sw_fake_ballot_sa03045 I’ve recently come to realize how many things in life are analogous to many other things in life.  One pretty benign, or so it seems, event turns out to represent what happens in another completely unrelated area of life. 

So it is with the sorority rush process and online dating.  I know, I know.  It seems like a real leap here, but go with me for a minute.

Way back in the day, when I was even more naive and wide-eyed than I am now, I had the opportunity to go through sorority rush, bid night, pledge a sorority and eventually be initiated. At the time it intrigued me, but over the years, I’ve often thought it a fairly efficient way of sorting through a vast number of potential prospects in a short amount of time in order to make an important decision effectively and quickly. And for many women the need to sort through a vast amount of emails to determine which contacts to spend time meeting and which to never bother with is imperative.

Greek_party1950s The sorority rush system is actually a highly developed matching system called the preferential bidding system and you can read about it .  In sorority rush, the organizations are matched with prospective members in a manner that gradually narrows the options based on stated preferences of the participants. The result is the prospective new member is eventually matched with an organization where she will live, interact, socialize, study, network, for the rest of her years at the university. It is also a lifetime membership to a national organization.  In other words, we’re not just signing a 30-day month-to-month rental agreement, here, folks. The decision bears some thoughtful, considered deliberation.  So it is with dating, that is, if you are doing anything that remotely resembles seeking out a partner you could build a relationship and a life with.

Enter the world of online dating, which I did nearly three years ago.  I spent some time on that Online Dating Planet for a bit and I noticed some things.  First off, all the things they say about men doing the pursuing and women the selecting were true for the most part.  Really.  I no sooner posted my feeble attempt at a profile, a few recent and accurate pictures, and I was bombarded with emails and winks from prospective suitors.  I recently read an article here where some women have thousands of emails to sort through.  I never had quite that problem, but then again, I also don’t exactly live in the biggest metropolitan area and I limited the distance of my contacts.  Whatever.  The point I am trying to make here is that sorting through all those prospective romantic interests is not unlike the Greek organization sorting through thousands of prospective members in order to meet their membership quotas for the year.  It is impossible to think of responding to every single one individually and meeting them all?  Well, there just isn’t time in a life to do it.

afrog 013aMy inbox was inundated.  At first, I spent hours, days, weeks attempting to reply to every wink or email I received.  It wasn’t long before I realized that was simply ineffective.  I had to put some systems in place for sorting.  Now the systems and criteria I implemented might be different for another woman, but they worked for me.  The same is true in sorority rush.  Some house won’t take those rushing as a sophomore, they only want freshmen.  Since I was a sophomore when I rushed, this instantly eliminated me from a number of quality organizations.  Nothing personal.  It was just reality.  Did I cry about it?  No.  I just went with the remaining options which were also very fine organizations. 

When we date, there are priorities and preferences that we have that provide the basis for our own sorting systems.  For me I eventually determined that I was not going to waste time with a guy who winked or only presented me with a message that said something like “nice smile”, “great profile”, and so on.  If a guy couldn’t take the time to create, at minimum, a brief thoughtfully worded message of interest, I wasn’t interested. (And, yes, guys…we can tell when you cut and paste messages! I deleted those too!) This reduced my inbox to a far more manageable number.  The remaining people made it through to the next round of eliminations. 

At this stage, I put in place some more discriminating criteria.  No picture, no consideration.  No words in the profile, no consideration.  If he was a smoker it was a no.  If he’d never been married or was way too young or too old, it had to be a no. These folks usually received a nice, courteous “no thanks”.

After this, I had to consider interests and potential for compatibility.  This is often difficult to determine just based on a digital p1-Our-House rofile on a dating site, but I did find that there were certain means to eliminate those contenders who would probably eventually opt out anyway in the end.  For example, the spirituality of the person is important.  If he’s out there in religious Looneyville where keeping up an image of doing the right stuff is more important than actually being an authentic, decent individual then we’ll rub and quickly.  Why even meet up for coffee to find that out?  Save time, energy and coffee money.  Just say, “no thanks”. 

If he’s a guy who spent all his time out and about with no indication that he occasionally stayed home to rejuvenate and maintain his household, then I was out.  That’s a lifestyle that I can’t sustain with a time commitment that would destroy my ability to maintain my own home and my career, let alone keep my kids in clean clothing.  I’m wise to politely decline, no matter how attractive he might otherwise be.  Our differing preferences in how we spend time will ultimately create problems unless one or the other of us is willing to change and expecting one party to change in order to sustain a relationship (even before a relationship has been established) is not a good sign.  It would have been like me saying, “Yeah, I want to pledge that house but only if they will completely redesign their organization to suit me.”  So not going to happen!

So, you see how the process of matching by criteria and gradually eliminating the prospects is an efficient decision making tool? 

When I was looking to pledge a sorority there were certain things that were important to me: reputation of the otri_delta_slide_show_and_stuff_534rganization, involvement on campus, leadership of members, social life, priority placed on academics, philanthropy, networking potential and so on.  Of course, the actual architecture of the house and its interior were important to me, but these were minor in comparison to the things that really created the organizations “soul”.

When dating, we all have our own ideas of what we are looking for in relationship.  Tall, fit, active, handy, homeowner, non-smoker, spiritual, not spiritual, conversationalist, education, income, etc.  All these facets determine what we think will be a good fit for us.  It is not a bad idea to have these priorities or preferences.  It is actually a good thing and can prevent us from wasting valuable time and energy on relationships or individuals who are not a good fit.  If the organization I am looking at has no room for sophomores in their organization, then as a sophomore, I would have been wasting time and emotional energy hoping I could pledge that house and I may have missed the opportunity to become a member of an organization that would have been even more suitable for me.  On the other hand, spending so much time about what a guy looks like and how much he makes (having a job is good! Making six figures, not required) is a bit like obsessing about the structure aesthetics of the sorority house instead of paying attention to the quality of life that goes on within that house.

theperuviankiss All this effort before even deciding to meet with someone?  Yes, pretty much.  Oh, sure.  There were occasions when I made exceptions.  100% of those exceptions never made it past the first date.  Once I began putting some more systematic thought into the dating process, I found I was going out on dates that were more enjoyable and I was actually having more than one or two dates with a person.  I wasn’t dreading the proverbial coffee date and more and more of those coffee dates led to something more. Even after the something more, the process continued to be a two-sided matching process as my dates and I continued to get to know each other. Dating is like sorority rush and that’s not a bad thing!

What I’d like to hear from others is what kind of criteria do you use to eliminate people you don’t think will be a good fit for you?  Is it looks, income, personality, education, values (if values what values are important)? 

What’s your criteria when involved in the two-sided matching process of dating?

Heads Up! Seven Up!

lrg-32-valentine_082I remember it well.  The childhood game where seven children in the class are chosen to go to the front of the room.  On the directive, “Heads down thumbs up”, the seven students travel around the room, one by one touching the thumb of one of their classmates and returning to the front of the room. When all seven are back in their places the invitation, “Heads up, seven up” is issued and those seven students whose thumbs where chosen get to stand and try to guess who picked them.  If guessed accurately, they replace their classmate at the front of the room and then enjoy the privilege of getting to “touch a thumb” during the next round.  If not, the chosen student remains in their seat for another round. In this game, as in many such childhood games, there are the choosers, the chosen and those on the sidelines. 

As a teacher, I am amazed at how much kids still really enjoy this game.  As an adult, I am intrigued with the parallels which exist between this childhood game and life, particularly the life of those who find themselves, for whatever reason, single after 40. 

In Heads Up, Seven Up there are the choosers, the chosen and those who get sidelined.  The choosers in life, as in this childhood game, have the most fun or so it seems.  They are up front, making choices, determining by their decisions who gets to play and who does not.  The chosen, are given an opportunity to get in the game, but if they don’t make an effective choice, a perceptive determination, they remain as chosen or worse, they can be sidelined during the next round of play.  The sideliners are those un-chosen ones deemed by their peers as those who will not participate during a round of play. 

During the dating process, we all play each of these parts.  We can be the chooser, determining who we will select or who we won’t.  We invite some to play and sideline others.  We are confident.  We are in control.  We are choosing and shaping our destinies.  Most of us like this place.

Bikes and babes 3There are times in our lives, however, when the choices of others sideline us.  The partner who goes back on a commitment, the infidelity of a spouse, the unreliability or abandonment of the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with but who ended up choosing someone or something else instead of you.  Being served divorce papers, the death of a spouse, the pain of that precious connection going silent without explanation or, worse, just fizzling.  At these times, we find ourselves sidelined, inactive, unable to play, maybe by our own choice…for a time.  Often because of the choices of others or another who simply did not choose us.

Love and Relationship is one game everyone wants to play.  It is the one game that we all want to be involved in either as the chooser or the chosen.  We all dread the sidelines in the game of Love and Relationship.  We want someone to touch our emotional thumb and say, “I pick you!”  WeImage_0023 want someone to tell us they noticed us.  They noticed those things about us that make us special.  They appreciated those unique qualities in us enough to want to be around us and interact with us more often than not.  We want the opportunity to choose and be chosen.  When the words “Heads up, seven up” are called in the game of love we all hope we get to stand at least during one round of play. We hope our guess is right and that we can aptly match the feel of the touch to the owner of the hand.

None of us like the sideline position where we simply watch others play the game that we so deeply desire to be part of ourselves.  This sideline position can be a healthy respite for a time, as we heal from an especially disappointing round of play, but as a permanent state of existence it is simply not ideal.  For some it is even painful. 

Just as in the game Heads Up! Seven Up!  everyone eventually gets to play at least once, so it seems is the case for most people in The Game Of Love.  How long each of us play or how often varies, but it seems that at one time or another we all get the chance to stand on cue and take a whack at making a choice. 

Where are you these days? 

  • Are you in the place of choosing? 
  • Are you there with your head down and your thumb up, hoping you will be tapped for the next romantic encounter?
  • Have you by your choice or the choices of others been sidelined? 
  • Where are you?  How do you feel about it?
  • If you don’t like your current place in the game, what, if anything, will you do to place yourself so that you are happier with your level of participation?

Procrastinatory Paring and Sharing

So, today, in my usual procrastinatory (is that even a word) I decided to go through each of  the links on my blog roll in an attempt to clarify two things.  First, I wanted to see if the bloggers were even still active.  I mean, no good sending you to someone really cool who hasn’t written anything really cool since last year…or the year before.  I hate that when that happens!  I find a blogger I love reading then realize I’m reading something that happened years ago and this person, for all digital intents and purposes, no longer exists. I usually figure this out after I’ve posted a comment only to realize that the last person that commented commented over a year earlier.  Yeah, doltish, really.  I’d like to spare the handful of readers who do troll silently through my musings here the angst of that experience. 

The other thing I’m trying to do is pare down the blog roll.  When I first started this blog (has it been a year and a half already?), I put people on that were interesting to me then.  I had goals, kinda sorta, in mind for what I wanted this place to be and those people made my blogroll because they seemed to fit the criteria for the kind of resource I wanted to provide my readers.  Yeah, well…things change over time.  Bloggers change, their blogs change, goals change, life changes, we change and I have definitely changed over the last year and a half…I think. Yeah, I have.  I’m still sorting a lot of stuff out and trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and where I want to be doing it, with whom I want to be doing it, why I want to be doing it are still all up for grabs (well, mostly) but some things have been sorted.  The upshot of the sorting is that I’ve decided that I only want certain folks on my blog roll.  I have reasons for this.

No! No!  It isn’t because I have these elitest, exclusivist or exclusionary tendencies (like some of those really big name blog-for-a-living types that I’m really jealous of because I haven’t made their blogroll yet let alone produced a blog like theirs, but okay!).  It is because I think  it simply reveals WAY TOO MUCH of my ADD tendencies when I have stuff from all over the universe listed that has nothing to do with anything I’m doing here.  Not that I’m doing anything here that is even remotely relevant to the real meaning of life, but it’s sorta fun for me…most of the time.   Even so, I think it is time for this little bloggy to grow up a bit and look a little more…um….what’s the word I’m looking for…respectable?  Ordered?  Thought out?  Put together?  I don’t know…something like that. 

I have a really easy way of determining if I want someone to stay on my blog roll.  If I know them in real life and they are a family member or close friend, they’re automatically in.  Well, unless they request not to be.  That’d tell me something now wouldn’t it?  If  they are just someone out there in the blogosphere then they have to meet two criteria:

  • they have to be posting regularly and recently.
  • I have to get the “I want to be like that when I grow up!” reaction when I read them.

Oh, wait, there’s a third…

  • they have to be on a topic that I perceive my readers (whoever they are because they don’t often identify themselves but I know they are there because my stats say so unless the stats lie!)  would be interested in.  I’m still trying to sort all that out.

Anyway, there you have it.  The reason why some of you might find your names missing on the blog roll and why others will find they’ve been added.  Mostly those who have been deleted so far are folks who aren’t writing anyway and probably don’t care.  If I deleted you and you do care, post a comment.  Everything’s fixable, well, mostly everything.  If you wander in and like what you read, let me know.  If you have a blog and you’d like to be added let me know that too.  I’d be glad to visit your place and take a look around.

Off I go to peruse postings and look at links while avoiding adult responsibilities like laundry, dishes and dealing with other diverse forms of dirt.  I’ve come across a few great bloggers who still rate and need a shout out.  Well, they don’t need it, they are mostly doing fine without my recognition.  I need it, because what they said, how they said it, what they experienced, resonated with me in a way that I feel is worth voicing.  Look for me to share these folks with you in the days to come.  I hope you’ll visit them and find them interesting too!