Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Real Friends!
“What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.” — Oprah Winfrey
I recently had business meetings in NYC on a Monday. I took advantage of flying up there the weekend prior and scheduled catch-up time with several friends. Two of the friends lived in or near NYC so it was easy for us to get together. Two of the friends also had to come in from out of state. It took more effort to connect.
NYC is a great place, but we could have been anywhere. We talked and talked and talked … and apart from the sounds of NYC outside the cafes and restaurants we met at, we could have been in the middle of nowhere. All that mattered is that we were focused on each other, talking and reconnecting. Just this past week, a woman at my gym asked me what my favorite places were in Atlanta to hang out. Her best friend from middle school was coming to town for a long weekend. They hadn’t seen each other in 12 years and she wanted to show her around. I suggested that it was less about what they were going to see or do, and more about just catching up with each other.
I call my NYC weekend my “weekend of connecting.” Starting on Friday night, my husband and I googled “cozy warm small intimate Italian restaurants in New York City.” After a busy holiday season and a chaotic start to the year, we wanted to spend a quiet evening eating good food, drinking good wine, and connecting. We talked for hours until we realized we were the last couple in the restaurant. The next morning I set out to meet up with a friend who started off as a work acquaintance. We’ve only seen each other in person three times in our lives, but have developed a phone friendship that results in some really great dialogues. Our “quick-catch-up” ended up being a 2 ½ hour lunch.
Later that afternoon, I met another friend for a cup of tea. This friend is someone who I hired as an intern many, many years ago. We’ve always stayed in touch, and while I haven’t seen her in nearly 3 years, we spent 2 hours and several cups of green tea just talking and talking. That night I attended a business dinner with a group of people I didn’t know well or didn’t know at all. I was expecting the normal “surface” conversation, not deep connections, but was so incredibly pleased when our dinner-time conversation turned very real as we talked about our “word for the year” and what it meant to us.
The next day I visited one of my newer friends. I met her 3 years ago, and have only seen her 3 times, but she and I sat together and spoke for 2 hours. What I love is that this friend asks about me, my husband, my kids. She remembers our conversations and follows up on them the next time we talk. She is genuinely interested. She’s twice my age (and that’s pretty advanced!).
I realize I am at my best when I feel as if I am “connecting” with the people who are important in my life. We get so busy and caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget to press pause and just be, and be with, and be real with one another.
Here’s my list of a few things that are important to me in my friendships:
1. Real friends initiate and reciprocate … they reach out to me just as much as I reach out to them … it’s a balance of deposits and withdrawals.
2. Real friends don’t allow the passage of time or distance to impact our ability to just pick right back up where we left off last time we saw each other … be that last week, last year, or last decade.
3. Real friends are the ones I know I can be totally honest with and have confidence that they will never bring things back and throw them in my face … this allows total vulnerability and honesty in our conversations.
4. Real friends ask about me, my family, my work and take a genuine interest in what is going on in my life … it’s a combination of asking and telling.
5. Real friends will call me out when they think I’m not being honest with myself … they will challenge me to be my best … because they honestly want the best for me.
“Side by side, or miles apart, good friends are always close to the heart.”
What about you? What would you add to the list of things that real friends do?
“When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock n’ roll, there’s a good chance the transmission is shot!” — Larry Lujack
I just completed the grueling process of buying a used car. It was everything it is stereotypically portrayed to be… and more. It’s like hitting your funny bone. Here’s the gist of what happened: I was looking at a specific car when the sales “advisor” eagerly approached and announced the price. Apparently he thought I couldn’t see the huge neon numbers on the front window next to the “Buy Me TODAY!” decal. I “advised” the advisor that I had done my research and that price was way high!
The advisor then told me that the price on the windshield was not the “real price,” but rather that it was the “windshield price.” “So, what’s the real price?” I asked. He threw out another number that was pretty ridiculous. As I continued to walk away, he said, “Actually, the price I just gave you in our Internet price. I’m sure I can talk to my sales manager and get a better price.” Game on.
The fun continued. The sales manager exited from a room known as “The Tower” (this is a completely glass-enclosed room that overlooks the showroom floor.) and gave me his speech about how car buying needed to result in a win-win for the dealership and the client. Blah blah blah. He then asked me, “So what’s your bottom line? Tell me what you want think is fair to pay for this car.” I replied, “Can you just tell me the price of this car? Not the windshield price. Not the Internet price. What. Is. The. Price. Of. This. Car?” He looked at me, shook his head and said, “I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
An hour later, we arrived at a deal. I think we achieved his objective of win-win, and I was the proud owner of a used car. Or so I thought! I was informed that this was not in fact a “used” car, but rather it was a “certified pre-owned” car. Sounds like a fancy name for used if you ask me.
The prefix “pre-” typically means “before” as in pre-marital counseling (counseling before you get married) or pre-nuptial agreement (that paperwork you sign before you get married about who gets what in case of divorce) or pre-wedding jitters (those butterflies you get before you say “I do”). Did this mean my car was pre-owned, meaning it had never had an owner before? Since we were calling it “pre-owned” I assumed that would imply it was before it had owners. But, that was impossible; it was a used car.
As I was pondering this question further, my husband informed me that the “pre-” didn’t mean “before,” but rather it was shorthand for “previously.” That made sense. My pre-owned car was really previously-owned.
Since I write about relationships, you know where I went next! I realized that if using this same naming convention I was actually “pre-married.” This is not to imply that I have never been married before, but rather to state the obvious fact that I had indeed been previously married (or “used”).
I began to have even more fun with my analogy when I realized that the reason this dealership was even making the distinction between it being a “used” car vs. a “certified pre-owned” car was because a pre-owned car comes with a 172-point inspection, a 12-month comprehensive limited warranty, and a seven-year powertrain limited warranty (I guess if you buy a “used” car you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!)
Can you imagine if being “pre-married” (the previously married kind, not the never-before-married kind) meant that you had to complete a 172-point inspection before you could marry again? Think of all the different things you would want to put on your 172-point inspection checklist. Here are 24 to get you started on the certified pre-owned spouse inspection:
1. Have you seen the “CarFax” report? How many prior owners (been married before)?
2. Is there a collision history? Any accidents (been in prison, rehab, therapy)?
3. Have you visited the production factory (met the parents)?
4. Are there any after-market or factory-installed parts to know about? (any parts that God didn’t provide naturally)?
5. Is the battery fully charged (high energy or lackluster)?
6. Are there any “exhaust” issues (bad breath/gas)?
7. Are there any rattles under the hood (snoring issues)?
8. Does it come with a “tow” package (kids, pets, in-laws)?
9. Does it have a spare tire? (No explanation needed!)
10. Any issues getting it started in the morning (lazy or go-getter)?
11. How is the paint job? Any chips or rust? (does he/she take care of him/herself?)
12. Are the tires balding? (No explanation needed!)
13. Has the oil been checked regularly? (healthy, regular check-ups)?
14. Does it have a lot of mileage? Highway or city? (age, lifestyle)?
15. Does the radiator overheat (anger management issues)?
16. Does the air-conditioning work (staying cool under pressure)?
17. What stations are preset on the radio (oldies, sports talk, NPR, The Fish)?
18. Does it have a built-in entertainment (a good sense of humor)?
19. What are the monthly maintenance costs (hair, mani/pedi, massage, golf membership, gym membership, football season tickets)?
20. Are the seats leather (is he bringing the proverbial La-Z-Boy recliner from his bachelor pad?)
21. Any cracks on the grill (bad teeth?)
22. What fuels it best (physical touch, gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation or quality time)?
23. Is there any junk in the trunk (extra baggage)?
24. What do you plan to do with the car? (just taking it for a test drive, renting it for the weekend, opting for the three-year lease, or going for long-term ownership)?
…and on and on!
What if being “pre-married” also carried the same one-year and seven-year warranties as my pre-owned car?! Can you imagine? If anything goes within the first year of marriage, there is a comprehensive warranty! Even better, if anything goes wrong within the first seven years of marriage (that stereotypical seven-year itch perhaps?) then there is an additional limited warranty in place. What would that warranty cover? Marital counseling? Sex therapy? Botox? Gym membership? Hair replacement? Knee replacement? Credit counseling? Rehab?
At the end of the day, we all know that pre-owned and pre-married don’t mean the same thing. But, there is something to be said for creating your own 172-point inspection checklist! It helps you to define what is important to you, where you are willing to compromise and if you have any clear “deal-breakers” (especially if other good things may be clouding your perception).
What do you think? Any other suggestions to be put on the 172-point inspection checklist?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Girlfriends!
“Reminder: your girlfriends will probably outlive your husband. So find good ones.”
My sides still hurt from laughing so hard! I just returned from spending a long weekend with five friends who I have known since elementary and middle school. The six of us met between 4th and 7th grades. We’ve known each other over 30 years. It’s been four years since we have all been together. That’s an entire college experience (I’ve told my kids that college is a four-year gig, and not to expect any sort of five-year plan, but I digress!). In spite of it being nearly 1500 days since we had last seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.
Between us, we have shared marriages and divorces, births and deaths, laughter and grief, celebrations and failures. If we go way back, we’ve shared electric blue eyeliner, curling irons, Sassoon jeans, and lilac prom dresses. We know each other. We accept each other. We love each other.
Even though we don’t experience the day-to-day with each other like we do with our friends who are in proximity to us, we seem to have a stronger bond. I sometimes wonder if many friendships aren’t born, and sustained, out of proximity and ease. Those are the friendships that don’t survive change. One person may move away, or the kids no longer play on the same sports teams, or the person switches jobs, and suddenly those people who were our closest friends, the ones we saw weekly, if not daily, who knew what we did day-in and day-out, are no longer a part of our lives. Real friendships endure all of those changes, and more!
The six of us weren’t always BFF’s. Back in elementary school, middle school, high school and college, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives, but we were always there for each other. In fact, even today, we don’t all talk regularly. Life gets busy. We are wives. We are mothers. We work. Life happens. We don’t know the daily inner workings of what is going on with each of us, but rather we get together every three or four years, and suddenly time and distance disappear in a nanosecond. We don’t need to know what happens in the day-to-day to understand where each other is coming from in her life, and that is what truly matters.
Last Saturday night, the firepot was lit, the wine was poured, and as we sat on the back porch talking, we realized that 5 of the 6 of us have already lost our fathers, yet all of our mothers are still alive. The experience we have had with our parents supports the claim that women tend to outlive men. It was a sobering thought.
At this point, we have known each other longer than we have known our husbands. Heck, these girlfriends outlasted my first husband, saw me through my divorce, were there as I started dating and married my second husband, and are still by my side. There is a good chance that we may outlive our husbands (as our moms have outlived our dads).
My point is this! Our boyfriends and our husbands are important, but so are our girlfriends! They both play a different role (in spite of so many people who say they are married to their ‘best friend’ – I get that, but it’s different! You know it is!). Yes, date, search for the perfect person to partner with in your life, perhaps even find a ‘best friend’ to marry, but don’t lose sight of the importance of your girlfriends in all of this. And men, you want your girlfriend or wife to have a good support team of girlfriends. Trust me! It’s an outlet you want to encourage!
I brought a photo to show the girls last weekend. It was of the 6 of us sitting on the back porch at my parent’s house. The year was 1984. We took another photo last weekend of the 6 of us sitting on my back porch. 2014! Thirty years later! I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if 30 years from now we are taking another photo sitting on someone’s back porch … or maybe it will be of us sitting in white rocking chairs on the front porch of the retirement home!
What do you think? Life is busy! Dating takes time! How do you cultivate and maintain your friendships?
Here’s my latest for Huffington Post – Parents! (Don’t) Call Me Mommy!
When last summer’s hit song “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen) came out, I would break into my own freelance version and start singing “Call Me Mommy” every time we heard it on the radio. I could improv the lines to talk about doing laundry, driving carpool, helping with homework, making dinner, driving more carpool… and always end with, “So, Call Me Mommy!” I even had the vision for the music video where the kids are in the back of my SUV popping up and dancing like the baseball players from Harvard in the van, or the U.S. Olympic swim team on the airplane in their respective music videos! We all got a good laugh out of it and competed to create the best lines!
What isn’t as funny is when my husband calls me mommy. This has got to stop! It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s not just me. I hear many of my friends’ husbands calling them mommy, too. It’s not new. I recall my dad referring to my mother as “mom.” In fact, if I remember correctly, I think my first husband used to call me “mom” too. What’s up with this?
To be clear, I’m not talking about when a dad tells the kids, “Go ask Mom.” That’s fine. It’s not as if he should say, “Go ask my wife.” That would sound awkward. But, for example, let’s say a husband can’t find his car keys, and yells, “Mom, where are my keys?” or when the family is talking about where to go to dinner, and Dad says, “Mom, where do you want to go?” (when his mother lives in a retirement community in Phoenix and there is no way she would be able to make it to dinner in Baltimore that night!). Weird!
I tell my husband, “I’m not your mom! I’m your wife, your lover, your best friend, your confidante, your room-mate, your soul-mate, your partner in crime… but I am not your mom! I may be the mother of your children, but I am not your mother. Even if sometimes I feel as if I am acting like your mom, or sometimes if you feel as if I am acting like your mom, we all know that I am really not your mom!”
When I pointed this out to several husbands recently, they excused their behavior by saying, “It’s only a pet name… like sweetheart or honey… it’s just a loving nickname.” Perhaps, but do you know the feeling that “Mom” elicits? Most moms hear “Mom, Mommy, Mom, Ma, Mama, Momma, Mom…!!!” thousands of times a day. Mom, do this; Mom, do that; Mom, I need this; Mom, drive me here; Mom, what’s for dinner; Mom, the dog had an accident on the rug again; Mom, I need to start my science fair project (and it’s due tomorrow!); Mom, Mom, Mom! “Mom” means wiping runny noses, making yet another PB&J, giving butterfly kisses to skinned knees, washing smelly football pants, buying more pimple medication and on and on! “Sweetheart” or “Honey” (or whatever other nickname you want to fill in there) means va, va voom and dot dot dot!
When your lover walks into your house, the last thing any woman wants to hear come out of his mouth is “Hi, Mom, how was your day?!” “Mom” does not equal romance and sex! Picture this… candles, wine, canoodling, and sweet nothings being whispered in your ear, and then you hear, “Oh Mom… you are so hot… I love you so much!” ck! OK, this has NEVER happened to me, but you get the picture!
Husbands, trust me, leave “Mom” for the kids to use. Find your own special name for that wonderful woman in your life. After all, you married your wife, not your mother!
By the way, somebody needs to steal my idea and make a spoof on Carly Rae’s song and name it “Call Me Mommy!” I bet it would be an instant YouTube sensation!
SEXY! – Here’s my latest post for eHarmony! … Why Decisiveness is Sexy!
“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” ~ Brian Tracy
One of my favorite things to do is go for a walk with a friend and have a great talk at the same time. Some friends meet for coffee, or for a glass of wine. I do that too, but what I really enjoy is a good walk in the great outdoors and the opportunity to catch up with an old friend (or a new one!) while also getting some exercise.
I was walking with one friend this summer and we started talking about the guy she is dating. They have been together for about 18 months. They are both divorced so they get the routine around dating and marriage. I asked if things were getting serious — after all, they have been dating exclusively for 18 months.
Her slight hesitation answered my question. I asked her what it was that wasn’t quite right, and she blurted out in total frustration, “He can’t make a decision to save his life and it’s driving me crazy!”
I totally understood what she meant. I have often said, “Decisiveness is SEXY!”
There is a fine line between wanting to have things your way all the time, and being overly accommodating to someone else and never having an opinion. My friend said that every time she and her boyfriend plan to go out to dinner, she has to choose the place. He defers to her every time. The first few times, it was probably sweet and nice, but at some point, she wants him to have an opinion and make a decision too. She said every time they order a bottle of wine, he defers to her to make the choice. She doesn’t mind picking the wine, but says it would be nice if he confidently made that decision every now and then. When they make plans to go away for the weekend, it is she who ultimately decides on where they are going to stay. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind making the plans – just not every single time!
Now, some people might say they would love to have someone who cared enough about their opinion to ask it and defer to them. Some people argue that they are controlled by others who make every decision for them from where they will eat, to what they will wear, to where they will go.
Obviously there are extremes on both sides. I argue that even the most confident, decisive, and independent person doesn’t always want the “burden” of having to make every choice in a relationship. People want a partnership. Partnerships require input from different people. Sometimes one partner takes the lead; other times the other partner takes the lead. At the end of the day, both contribute to the decision-making. That’s what makes it a partnership and not a dictatorship!
Trust me! Decisiveness is sexy. I may be a confident, self-assured, independent woman, but I still love it when I hear my husband very confidently make a decision. This may be as simple as ordering a bottle of wine at dinner, or something more complicated like deciding on an itinerary for the next big vacation. There is something sexy about the confidence that comes from seeing him know what he wants, understand what I want, and decide on something that matches both. There is something sexy about seeing him anticipate my needs and already be working towards them, while also meeting his own. There is something sexy about not having to watch the painful process of someone waffling back and forth, deciding, no cancelling, thinking, opting no, cancelling, mulling, fearing, hesitating, thinking some more … you get the picture!
Clearly it’s a balance between being arrogant on the one side, and being a slug on the other hand. I can’t think of the right word to describe the opposite of arrogant. Slug is the best I could come up with! Confidence is sexy. Arrogance is not. Chronic waffling is enough to drive anyone insane.
On which side of that equation do you spend the most time?
Here’s my latest blog post for HopeAfterDivorce.com … I’m Sorry
Here’s my question: Why is it so difficult to say something, anything, even just an, “I’m sorry” not when we personally did anything wrong to someone else, but when that someone else is going through something difficult?
Why do some people hear of someone else going through a rough patch and decide to disappear for a while. Suddenly, they are too busy for a phone call, too busy to stop by, too busy to write a quick email!What’s going on here?
Does this look familiar? My friend, Lisa, was recently told by her company that her job was being eliminated. She has four weeks to wrap-up what she is working and transition out of her role. She understands. She’s not bitter. In fact, she has an incredibly positive attitude about the whole thing.What she is devastated by, however, are the number of “friends” she has at work who have stopped communicating with her.People whom she used to speak with daily (in person, via phone, or email) have suddenly disappeared. She hasn’t heard from them … at all. She asked me why I thought this was. All I could come up with is a comparison to my own experience when I was going through my divorce.
I found when word got out that I was going through my divorce that some people rallied around me in full force, while other friends seemed to pull back. I don’t think that old adage of “ you find out who your friends are” holds true necessarily.I don’t think that some people intentionally decide, “You don’t have a job (or a husband) anymore, and I’m not going to be your friend.” Rather, I think that some people have what I’ll call “survivor guilt.” Perhaps they wonder why you lost your job, or lost your marriage, and not them. They feel guilty talking with you and worry about complaining about how much work they have to do, or how frustrated they became with their husband last night.This seems cruel, they think, when you don’t even have a job or a husband.
I also think this group lacks a certain amount of social etiquette or emotional intelligence.They can’t quite comprehend that “ignoring” a situation doesn’t make it go away.In the case of my divorce, it wasn’t going to go away no matter how many friends chose to ignore it or ignore me. Furthermore, ignoring me in my time of “need” doesn’t make me feel any better. “Bad” things happen to people every day. We can’t ignore them and pretend they don’t exist.
I have heard people rationalize their behavior by saying, “I know I wouldn’t want to talk about it over and over again, so I’m not going to bring it up … at all!”I’ll concede that is a valid point … except there is a difference between bringing it up, acknowledging it, and moving the conversation forward to a different place, and bringing it up, belaboring it, and leading the person to a place of negativity.
What’s a person to do? What’s the right answer? Here’s my advice. When you have a friend going through a tough time, address it head-on, let them know you are here for them, then move on. Be mindful to the clues the person gives off. Do they want to talk about it, or would they rather not, and be open to either.
If a friend or co-worker has a parent who passes away, just say, “I’m sorry to hear about your mom,” and move on. If a friend or co-worker loses her job, just say, “I’m sorry to hear about your job … and I’m happy to refer you to a recruiter I know if you want an introduction,” and move on. If a friend or co-worker is going through a divorce, just say, “I’m sorry you are going through that. Please let me know if I can help you with your schedule (or something like that),” and move on.
The point is this: address it; don’t ignore it. As human beings, we want to feel connected to others. We want to feel recognized and understood. For our friends or colleagues to suddenly ignore us because of what we are going through becomes the tremendous “elephant in the room.”The consequences persist.It can become difficult to re-establish a friendship and the former level of communication without an obvious awkwardness over the gap that existed.
I think Mahatma Gandhi had some incredible things to say. This is one of them: “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” Don’t be a coward. Be brave. Just say those two little words, “I’m sorry,” and be a good friend, colleague and co-worker. Be capable of showing love. Let people know you are aware of what they are going through. Acknowledge it. Support them through their valley. Letting them know you are thinking of them is so much more powerful than ignoring them and the situation at hand.
What do you think? What is your experience with saying, “I’m sorry” when you have done nothing wrong?
It’s been a busy few weeks … and I’m afraid it’s been a while since I posted an udpate. Why? You know how BUSY it always seems to get right aroundThanksgiving? Well, that’s my excuse. I’ve been busy with Thanksgiving, a couple of birthdays, and preparing for the December holidays!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t backtrack a little bit to Thanksgiving and comment on a great feature put together by Northside Woman magazine. They asked several of the women they had featured during 2010 to put together a list of the things she was most thankful. It was amazing and inspiring to read all the different things that these women put down on their list.
Here’s what I wrote:
I’m thankful for my faith, my amazing husband, my wonderful children, my fantastic mom, our good health, my rescue dogs (and people who support pet adoption!), lifelong friends, new friends, and all the friends in-between, a positive relationship with my ex-, fall football, “Saturday in the South,” the love of reading, my phenomenal business partners, my iPhone, Johns Creek UMC and Buckhead Church, the ability to give back to others and to role model that for my kids, the impact of “The High Road Has Less Traffic,” traveling to places I’ve never been, soft blankets and hot soup on a cold day, Starbucks, the beach, talks and walks with friends, Lake Oconee, my kids’ baby books, hot summer days, blue skies, big smiles, belly laughs, Survivor, high heels, pedicures, new adventures, comfortable routines, the power of prayer, and the beauty of forgiveness.
Have you put a list together lately? It’s an excellent exercise! Really makes you think about, and appreciate, all that you have to be thankful for!
What do you think?
Justin and I had a joint CD (Let Go & Let God) and Book (The High Road Has Less Traffic) launch party this past Saturday night. Thanks to everyone who came by to support us and wish us congratulations. We really appreciate it! How fun to have an even larger number of books and CD’s … AND … shirts, signs and necklaces proclaiming the ‘high road. less traffic.” philosophy in circulation! Check out the shirt and necklace in the photo (and the new shorter haircut!)!
Stay tuned for some upcoming PR including press in Around About Cumming magazine, Best Self Atlanta magazine, Sashay magazine, and Better Times Pittsburgh.
I love the fact that we are getting the ‘high road. less traffic.’ philosophy out there! Keep it coming! What do you think?
A huge thanks to Stephanie and Skirt Magazine for the great comments about The High Road Has Less Traffic! Love the reference to the high road being called “a genius concept!”
By skirtySteph, Friday, September 24, 2010
If only my parents had read this book before, during or after their divorce. The High Road Has Less Traffic by Monique A. Honaman is a book about getting through divorce with more positivity. With respect for each other. With morals. And by doing the right thing by each other.
What a genius concept.
My parents get along great now and are able to be in the same room with each other, each other’s significant others and enjoy themselves. Thank god. I wish this book was around then to help us, our family, friends and most of all—them.
Written from the POV of a girlfriend voice, Monique is honest and blunt, faithful and funny, sarcastic and heart-felt.
Thanks to Greg Bullen at WMPC Radio in Michigan, and Host of “Off the Bookshelf” for the great interview last week about The High Road Has Less Traffic. When Greg first contacted me about the interview, I (of course!) went searching on the web to see what I could find about him and all that I found talked about what a great host he was and how much fun he was as an interviewer. He didn’t disappoint. He had clearly done his homework and we had a great interview as you will hear on the attached MP3.
Fun stuff … he’s now going to be interviewing Justin about his new CD Let Go & Let God later this month!
Take a listen … what do you think?