Dating, Romance, Sex

What is it Like to be on the Other Side of Me?

July 28th, 2013 → 10:37 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest post for eHarmony posted on July 28, 2013! Other Side of Me?

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In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton

I was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour and of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta!). We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama, to refuel, then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes once we landed before we were able to get a gate to deplane. As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly!). Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.

The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (and remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays!), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet … and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email, and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.

Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who of course don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.

Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled, ”What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and your actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you?  Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant? Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store? Would you want to be your friend? Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you? Would you want to be your own customer? Would you want to be dating you? Would you want to be married to you? Why or why not?

We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves, and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept … at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.

What about you? You are looking for a relationship. You have prepared your online dating profile. You connect with people via email, then via phone, and ultimately, schedule a date in person. Is what you are putting out there really you? Are you being honest with yourself and the people reading your profile, or are you being someone you aren’t?

Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good, or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others.  At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side and like who you see! Smile!

How often do you think about how you treat other people in your life?

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Blogtalk &Dating, Romance, Sex

Taking Care of Yourself

Is It Possible to be “TOO Nice?”

July 16th, 2013 → 8:21 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest post for DivorcedMoms.com … Too Nice?

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“Being nice to someone you have an issue with doesn’t mean you are fake … it means someone taught you how to be polite.” ~ author unknown

And,

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”  ~Samuel Johnson

Is anyone dealing with the challenges of co-parenting who is told by their family or friends that they are “too nice” to the other parent/former spouse? Since when was being nice considered a negative trait? And why do people think that being unfriendly is a more productive strategy?

This is interesting to me. Sure there are hurt feelings in a divorce. That’s probably a huge understatement. In many cases, especially those involving adultery, one party typically feels incredibly violated and dishonored. It’s natural to not want to “be nice” to individuals who are disrespectful to us. And therein lies the conundrum. Since we have children together, I am going to be dealing with my ex- for the rest of my life and being mean is not going to accomplish anything positive at all.

Acting the opposite of “nice” means acting “mean.” Why in the world would I want my young kids to see me acting mean to their dad. Kids can be so black and white in their thinking.  They quickly categorize things – good/bad, fun/boring, nice/mean. They don’t have the maturity to understand that some people may feel that “mean” is merited. They simply see one parent being mean to the other, and that does nothing but create guilt and confusion.

I don’t want my kids to see “mean,” and frankly “mean” is much less productive than “nice.” What’s the saying? Something like, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  Being “mean” has a direct impact on the future ability of my ex- and I to make decisions and communicate about the best interests of our children.  If all of our conversations are tainted with hatred, bitterness, and sarcasm, how are we going to effectively communicate about the people who are most important to us, namely, our children? Frankly, it’s stressful to be mean and condescending, and who really has the time for that?

I tell my well-meaning friends who tell me that I’m being “too nice” that being nice doesn’t mean you become a doormat and let people walk all over you. It doesn’t mean that you become a puppet at the whim of the other person. It doesn’t mean they get to take advantage of you.  It does mean that regardless of what the other person has said or done, or what he will say or do moving forward, that I am going to respond with respect.  If some people define that as being “too nice,” then so-be-it.

At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to picking your battles.  There are times when I need to be more assertive, or more emphatic to make a point, and when I do need to go there, it’s received with more acknowledgment because every piece of communication hasn’t been rooted in “meanness.” But I’m a firm believer in the fact that even assertive and emphatic communication can still be delivered respectfully.
I’ll continue to take being “too nice” over being “too mean” as a compliment. More importantly, I’ll role-model an assertive and respectful “too nice” for my kids any day of the week.

What do you think? Have you ever been told you were “too nice?” Do you agree that “too nice” is not equivalent to “door matt?”

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Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself

Stop Worrying About What Other People Will Think

July 15th, 2013 → 2:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest blog post for eHarmony: What Other People Will Think

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs

In my last post (Should You Follow Your Head or Your Heart), I talked about my friend who was falling in love with a guy she only met three months ago. Things were getting serious pretty quickly, and she felt she was walking a tight rope between following her heart (which was telling her to jump in with both feet and surrender to her emotions) and her head (which was telling her that she hasn’t known him long enough to be feeling this way).

I think my friend knew that following her heart, while not leaving her head behind, was the right answer for her situation. I think she intuitively knew that this was the right decision for her. She should move forward. She knew it was right.

But … what followed was, in my opinion, the real crux of the issue. She asked me, “But what will people think?” My response, “Who cares!?”

She was very worried about what other people might say about how quickly she was moving with this guy. Well-intentioned friends might make assumptions. People who use their head more than their heart might impose a superficial timeline of how long you should date someone before taking it to the next level. Envious friends might not be as supportive or might try to steal her joy. My friend was being cautious about introducing her “boyfriend” to others for fear of the judgments they might make about her. Ridiculous? Yes! But, also more common than we like to believe.

Why do we let what other people might think impact the decisions we make? Why should my friend care what the general masses think? Why should she be worried about what people might be saying behind her back?

I saw this recently with another friend as well. She is dating a guy and is starting to become more interested in him, but she doesn’t like how he dresses. He bought some new shoes, most likely in an attempt to please her as she is pretty fashion conscious, but “he wore them with the wrong pants.” She was really bothered by this. “So what?!,” I asked, “If he’s this great guy who is really kind, and sincere, and treats you well, who cares if he wore the wrong pants with his new shoes?” “Well,” she replied, “What will my friends think?” Again, who cares!?

I think Steve Jobs nailed it in the quote above: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Why do we worry more about what other people will think about us, or the relationships we are in? Why don’t we focus more on what we think about our relationships and how we are being treated? We need to listen to our inner voice more and follow our intuition. We shouldn’t be doing things like entering into relationships for the approval of others. We should be doing things like entering into relationships for our own approval (and love, and joy, and all that good stuff).

What about the flip side? Are you the friend who judges and tries to impose your beliefs and ideals on someone else, or do you support them in following their heart (as long as they are bringing their head along with them)? Do you try to impose your opinion so loudly that you are successful in drowning out their inner voice?

I had to deal with some of this same stuff when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) several years ago. Some people thought we were moving too quickly. Others thought it was “too good to be true” and cautioned me about pending disaster. Even I had some consternation about telling people how serious our relationship was becoming for fear of what they might think and say.

But, my heart knew it was right. My intuition told me to go for it. My head found nothing to reject. I had to tell certain friends that I appreciated their concern because I knew it came from a place of love, but then I also had to ask them to stop trying to “steal my joy!” That worked!

What about you? Do you worry more about what other people will think, or do you follow your own intuition? Are you a friend who is supportive or who steals others’ joy?

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Taking Care of Yourself

Dating, Romance, Sex

Should You Follow Your Head or Your Heart?

July 12th, 2013 → 7:30 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest post for eHarmony!  Enjoy!  Head or Heart?

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Follow your heart wherever it may go, just don’t forget to bring your mind with you.”

A friend called late last week. She met a guy three months ago, and they hit it off – big time! She’s dated before, but this time was “different.” It felt different; she felt different! It started out with dinner on a Saturday night, and they had such a great time talking and talking that they decided to have dinner on Sunday too! They were “so comfortable” around each other and felt like they had “known each other forever,” and agreed to dinner again on Monday night … and so it has been for the past 90 days. It’s gotten quite serious – quite quickly.

That brings us to today. My friend is in a bit of a quandary. Her heart is telling her one thing; her head is telling her something else.

Her heart says, “Leap in with both feet and share your emotions.”  Her head says, “Be careful, you’ve only known him a few months.” Her heart says, “What a gift to meet someone this spectacular after the trials of the past several years.” Her head says, “Be wary, he could decide he doesn’t like you and then you will be hurt.” Her heart says, “Go for it; introduce him to your friends as your significant other; trust!” Her head says, “What will people think? It’s been so quick!”

I love the quote above about following your heart wherever it leads you, but also remember to bring your head along too! My advice … first, follow your heart, but don’t be blind to things that your head is telling you.

Back to my friend. This guy has a stellar reputation. His friends love him. His family loves him. Everyone vouches for what a stand-up guy he is. There have been no “warning bells” or little voices saying something’s wrong. He has been open and honest. What you see is what you get. Her head hasn’t found anything to worry about.

Her heart hasn’t found anything to worry about either! Her heart is beating a bit faster, racing with some good endorphins, and thumping a little harder when she sees him. Her heart feels for him, and if she is honest with herself, she will admit that she is falling in love with him.

But, her head won’t let her go there yet. She’s holding up behind that wall of emotion and being cautious. I told her to knock that wall down. I can speak from experience. I had the whole debate going on between my heart and my head a few years ago too! In fact, my head and my heart were raging a major battle inside of me.

When I met the man (who is now my husband), I fell hard and fast. So did he. The logical, sensible side of me told me to take things slowly. The emotional side of me said this man is incredible. The timing isn’t what I expected (I thought I would be single longer), but who am I to push away this amazing man because he arrived too quickly? Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?  I bounced back and forth between heart and head.

Some friends voiced concern that I was moving too quickly. Others supported my falling in love and said “Go for it.” They waged as big a battle externally as my heart and head were waging internally. The words of advice that mattered most came from my mother. When I told her I had met this guy, she told me she was thrilled I was dating again. In my next sentence I shared that it had gotten pretty serious pretty quickly and that I could see myself marrying this guy. I expected my mom to side with my “head,” warn me about getting hurt again, and impose on me the need to slow things down.

You know what? She didn’t! Instead, my mom told me that she had never seen me make a careless, thoughtless decision in my life, and she didn’t expect me to start making them at age 40. She told me that if my heart was telling me that this guy was a keeper, then I should jump in with both feet. She urged me to watch for warning signals, and engage my head as needed, but for now, to follow my heart. A mother’s advice is the best advice! I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back once!

I shared this same advice with my friend. As long as she isn’t being blind to any obvious warnings signs, as long as all lights appear green, and as long as her intuition isn’t screaming at her to back up, then I say “Go for it.” Life is too short! Accept these gifts! Don’t self-impose time constraints or limits on your own happiness.

(Then, there is the question of, “But what will people say or think about me if I move this quickly with a guy?” but that’s a subject for my next post!)

What about you? Did you follow your head or your heart? Do you regret your decision or have you never looked back?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Danger Zone!

No High Road in this Parking Lot! What Would You Have Done?

July 11th, 2013 → 10:53 am @ // One Comment - Join the conversation!

No High Road in this Parking Lot – my latest from The Huffington Post!

My mantra is all about taking the high road, although I usually write about taking the high road as it relates to love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. But, as we all know, the high road is applicable to all other aspects of our life as well. The high road provides that moral compass that serves to steer us in the actions and the decisions that we make.

I have to tell you what happened to me today … and I would love your input on what I should have done!

I was meeting a colleague at Starbucks. We were sitting outside when we heard a loud crunching sound. We looked across the parking lot to see a parked (and driverless) minivan rocking back and forth, and an SUV trying to pull into the parking spot next to the van. I asked, “Did that SUV just hit the van?” We weren’t sure. It was one of those surreal moments where you catch the end of the scene and start to piece it together. If the driver had hit the van, surely she would get out and look to see what happened, and when she didn’t, we were confused. The SUV then backed out and left the parking lot. I noticed the tag number as it was pulling away (as I thought it might be leaving the scene). I walked over to the minivan to confirm that it had been hit.

Wow! The front passenger side of the minivan was totally damaged. The hood and side panel were both dented and majorly scratched. The SUV had indeed taken a good smack at the minivan.

I walked back towards the Starbucks and planned to go inside to find the owner of the minivan when I noticed the driver of the SUV hadn’t left the parking lot at all, but rather had parked about seven rows away and was getting out of her car. I thought, “Thank goodness she realized she hit someone’s car, and she is coming to find them.” I watched as she walked into the coffee shop, and proceeded to simply wait in line to order her coffee without a care in the world.

This was a young woman; I’m guessing she was between 18-20 years old. When I realized she wasn’t going to seek out the owner of the van, I walked into the coffee shop and asked, “You do realize you hit that van out there, right?” She looked at me and grunted, “Yes.” I continued, “You really need to ask around and find out who drives the gray van.” She nodded, and said, “OK,” and I walked back outside, hoping she was going to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, during that brief moment, the owner of the van did return to her vehicle (I’m assuming she was a woman) and left, never noticing the damage to the passenger side of her van.

I continued to watch the young woman in the coffee shop, and she made absolutely no attempt to find the owner. As she left the shop with her coffee in hand, she had to walk right by me. She tried to ignore me, but I stopped her and said, “By not stopping when you hit the car, and by not finding the driver, it’s now considered a hit and run, and when this gets reported, you are going to be in trouble. I would recommend that you call the police. Clearly it was an accident, and you need to let them know what happened.” She looked at me, didn’t say a word, put her ear-buds in, walked away, entered her SUV, and left the parking lot.

I was so frustrated. This young woman knew she hit the car, knew there was significant damage, knew she had been seen, and yet still did nothing. She failed to take the high road at every opportunity that presented itself. I felt horrible for the owner of the minivan who drove away completely unaware of the damage that had been done. I pictured her discovering it hours later, and thinking, ‘Oh no!” I know how costly it can be to have body-work done on both the hood and the side panel.

To finish the story, my colleague, who had written down the tag number, made and model of the SUV, reported what we had seen to the manager at the Starbucks and the local police station. I’m not sure what happens from there.

Clearly this young woman veered off the high road while in the parking lot this morning..

Nobody said taking the high road was going to be easy. The high road can be bumpy and full of potholes to navigate and avoid (let alone parked minivans!). It’s opting to do something that may not always be the easiest choice, but is always the more thoughtful choice. It’s making decisions that will make your kids, your family, and your friends proud. It’s living your life so that you can look yourself in the mirror every day. The reality is no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all make decisions we wish could change. Striving for the high road is not an impossible feat. It’s not a “holier than thou” attitude or approach to life. Taking the high road simply means that you try, with all good intentions, to make the right decisions. That’s why I like to say that the high road has less traffic and a better view!

I’m curious. Did we do the right thing? Should we have done more? Should we have minded our own business? Should we have made more of a scene? What would you have done?

 

 

 

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Danger Zone!

Dating, Romance, Sex

Does Compromise Get Tougher as You Get Older?

July 9th, 2013 → 10:58 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest post for eHarmony.com … “Does Compromise Get Tougher as You Get Older?” … Compromise!

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Marriage is about compromise; it’s about doing something for the other person, even when you don’t want to.”  ~ Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding

I had a great conversation with two friends the other day. Both are widowed. They are dating each other, and it’s starting to get serious. While not pointedly addressed quite yet, it’s clear that the, “we should spend the rest of our lives together” conversation is not that far off in the future. How wonderful for them! To have found love again — and all the joy, happiness, and elation that comes with new love — after both having lost spouses is wonderful and very sweet to see. Of course they should spend the rest of their lives together! Thank goodness for second chances and the fact that they met each other.

Deciding they want to spend the rest of their lives together is the “easy” part.  The more practical, and more difficult, part comes when the discussion turns to where to live. His house or hers? Her family room couches or his? His china or hers? His toaster or hers?

It’s crazy, but this is where it can become overwhelming. The reality is that both people own their own beautiful homes, fully stocked with every practical item (the blender, ironing board, beach towels, …) and also filled with all sorts of things that are meaningful (grandma’s mirror, great grandma’s gravy boat, the painting bought on vacation in Italy many years ago, …).  Their styles may differ. His Victorian period furniture may clash with her Asian influence.

What to do? Of course, this is essentially no different than when two divorced people choose to marry, and frankly, not different from when two established single adults (never married, divorced or widowed) but well on their way to being “real” adults (with more than a studio apartment outfitted with milk crates and a mattress of the floor) enter into marriage.

Often times both come to the relationship with established “goods,” let alone established “habits, ideals, and traditions.” Perhaps one likes to eat dinner by 6PM each night, whereas the other likes to eat much later. Perhaps one likes to be up and out each Saturday morning by seven, whereas the other relishes the idea of lounging in bed reading the paper until eleven. Perhaps one likes to spend Christmas out of town surrounded by the chaos of dozens of family members, whereas the other likes to make Christmas a more quiet, intimate celebration.

Younger and less established couples certainly need to compromise as they begin their lives together, but this is frequently easier as they don’t generally have decades worth of “goods” and “traditions” that they bring to the marriage. It gets tougher as we get older! We have more “stuff” and bring more “baggage” (both literally and figuratively).

When I remarried several years ago, my husband and I brought together two households. As crazy as it sounds, we literally did have to decide to keep my silverware or his, my dinner plates or his, my toaster or his … and on and on! That was challenging in and of itself (actually, he had a lot of things that were “nicer” than mine, so it made for some easy decision making!). Some people might say that the best solution is to start new with everything, and as fun as that sounds, it’s just not practical. Who has that kind of money to throw around, and why get rid of things that are meaningful to one person or the other?

In addition to compromising on the “goods,” we also had to learn how to merge our traditions, our family traditions, and our expectations for everything from how to save, how to spend a Saturday morning, what temperature to keep the house at, how many blankets to put on the bed, etc. This can be much tougher. After all, we were established in our routines. We had our “normal” and defining a “new normal” isn’t always easy.

You know what though? Defining a “new normal” can be fun if approached with the right attitude. If you aren’t open to compromise when dating, how in the heck are you going to compromise if you get married? Open yourself up to learning something new, or experiencing something with a new lens. You might surprise yourself at how much you enjoy the change. After all, change keeps us vibrant and alive! Don’t become too set in your ways. Be open to new experiences, new traditions…even new toasters and new beach towels!

Does compromise become tougher as we get older? Are we more set in our ways? What do you think?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Taking Care of Yourself

Forgiveness: An Attribute of the Strong! Be STRONG!

June 27th, 2013 → 8:12 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest blog post from DivorcedMoms.com … Be Strong!

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The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Say someone has done something that you don’t like. You get angry. You get mad. You think about it constantly. It keeps you up at night. You can’t seem to let it go. You brood about it. You may turn to vices to help you get through it. You remember every detail of the ‘infraction’ and you relive it and rehash it over and over.  All this serves to do is create stress and strife in your life. It affects your health. It affects your emotions. Is it worth it?

Can you think of a similar scenario in your life? I am willing to bet you can and it has something to do with your divorce. Am I right?

You Have the Power to Forgive:

Forgiveness is a selfish act. Think about it. When YOU choose to forgive someone, it’s a decision that YOU make, and then YOU feel better. The other person doesn’t have to give YOU permission to forgive. The other person doesn’t have to accept YOUR forgiveness.  YOU alone are in control of having the power to decide to forgive. How awesome is that?

People say to me, “I’m not ready to forgive yet because I don’t want that person to get away with it (whatever ‘it’ might be).” There is a popular misconception that if you forgive someone that it means he isn’t going to be held accountable for his actions. That is actually irrelevant.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you aren’t going to hold that person accountable.

It doesn’t mean that you are going to let that person walk all over you.

It doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for his actions.

It does mean that you are choosing to not dwell on it every day and let anger consume your every thought.

We all know how difficult it can be to say those three little words, “I am sorry.” Anyone with children knows how difficult it can be to get one sibling to apologize to the other for the normal acts of sibling rivalry.

As parents, we also need to teach our kids a different set of three words: “I forgive you.” Our kids need to learn and understand the power of forgiveness early on so that they learn to not hold anger inside. Teaching your kids about forgiveness is an amazing gift you can role model for them. Teaching them about forgiveness by role-modeling it in the context of your own divorce (and perhaps in the context of co-parenting these same kids for which you are being a role-model).

How to Forgive:

I am repeatedly asked, “Please teach me how to forgive.” I don’t know how to do that. I wish I did. I want everyone to feel the liberation and peace that comes with forgiveness. Some people like to “own” their anger. They make it a part of their life story and frankly enjoy carrying the burden. I think that’s a crazy load to carry. I tell people that forgiveness will happen if they are open to dropping some of the anger and looking forward to the future, instead of dwelling on the past.

Arguably the best-known scholar on forgiveness is Lewis Smedes (1921-2002). Smedes was a professor of Theology and a renowned Christian author who wrote the incredibly popular book, “Forgive and Forget.” He said, “Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural.  Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.” 

A more modern-day quote on forgiveness came from Tyler Perry when he said, “It’s simple: when you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.”

The power of forgiveness allows you to feel peace. It doesn’t mean you aren’t still going to face noise, trouble or hard work. It does mean you can be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.

Are you ready to forgive and start walking forward? Why not?  What is stopping you? Don’t you want to be calm in your hear? It’s life-changing, and you can do it!

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Taking Care of Yourself

Dating, Romance, Sex

Finding Yourself in the Friend-Zone

June 6th, 2013 → 6:00 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest from eHarmony! Finding Yourself in the Friend-Zone

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My son loves all things football – watching football, playing “real” football, and playing “fake” football on his Xbox! We were joking around about something the other night and he mentioned being put in the “friend zone.” At first I thought I misunderstood him, that he was talking football…again…and that he had said something about the “end zone.”  The context of that didn’t work with our conversation. I asked him to repeat what he said, and this time I clearly heard the word “friend zone.” When I asked him to define this, he said, “It’s when you like a girl, and she just wants to be friends…you get put in the friend zone!” My husband and I started laughing hysterically. I think we could both relate to being put in the friend zone at various points in our lives.

Fast forward to a conversation I had just yesterday with one of my dearest friends. She has been dating a guy for the past five months, and called with the realization that she is really interested in…yes, you got it…“just being friends.” She wants to put him in the “friend zone!” She was nervous about how to tell him. After all, she does care for him and doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, but she knows that they don’t have a future together.

What should she do? I said, “You telling him the truth, and not leading him on or continuing your relationship, is a gift to him.” He may not see it now, but it is. He wants to meet his soulmate. He wants to settle down. He wants to meet someone who loves him unconditionally in return. My friend knows none of these things are possible with her. The gift she is giving him is the honesty that he belongs in the friend zone with her, which allows him the opportunity to look for his soulmate.

Sure, this kind of honesty may hurt his feelings in the short-term, and he may not be interested in being friends, but that’s no reason to continue a relationship. Whenever I talk with someone who is upset about a break-up, I always say, “Better to find out now that someone really isn’t that into you rather than 16 years and two kids later.” Isn’t that the truth?

When is it time to call it quits? When is it time to realize that your feelings aren’t as strong as they should be? When is it time to cut your losses and move on? Some people say they know in a matter of one or two dates if there is potential, and if there isn’t, there are no third dates. Others, like my friend, find out after several months of dating that there are underlying issues that are deal breakers.

My friend made a really good point that I think all of us should pay more attention to. She said, “I started thinking about how he might be able to change (the thing that bothered me), and I realized how wrong that is!” Absolutely! It’s not about changing who someone is; it’s about embracing every piece of them. We have all seen too many divorces where one spouse says, “I honestly thought I could change him (or her) and I couldn’t.” Not only “you couldn’t,” but also “you shouldn’t!” Those things that you would like to change, which are seemingly small, inconsequential or annoyingly cute while dating, seemingly turn into deal breakers years later!

I think alarm bells should clang loudly whenever you start to hear your inner-voice talking about what you might be able to change in someone you are dating. So many problems start from that foundation of, “After we are married, I am sure he or she won’t…(fill in the blank)…anymore.” Nice intentions, bad idea. The reality is that that too many marriages fail from this kind of thinking. He or she doesn’t change — doesn’t want to change — and suddenly all sorts of issues arise. One thing leads to another and 16 years and two kids later, nothing has changed but the fact that he or she still isn’t that into you. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be put in the friend zone earlier rather than finding out later. I do consider that a gift.

What about you? Have you been put into the friend zone? Did it ultimately end up being a gift?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Staying on the High Road when the Low Road is Calling

June 6th, 2013 → 5:57 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest post from The Huffington Post – June 6, 2013 … Staying on the High Road

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‘The high road has less traffic’ is a life philosophy that says you maintain your moral compass, your personal code of ethics, and your values, at all times. Taking the high road means you are able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of how you acted, or reacted, in light of trying situations. It means that you had an opportunity to respond with equally nasty behavior, and you chose not to. Several people have reached out to me this week with essentially the same question: How do I stay on the high road, when my ex- (or soon to be ex-) is so far off the high road that it’s not even funny?

“We have a ‘morality clause’ in our divorce agreement, but my ex-husband is blatantly ignoring it. He has different women spend the night all the time … when our children are at his place. How am I supposed to explain what is going on?”

“My ex-wife tells the kids that I am stupid and ignorant, and tells them that if I loved them more, I would pay more in child support.”

People start to believe that if other people are taking the low road, then they are completely justified in joining them.

“I know my husband is having an affair, so I am going to spend all of his money. He isn’t the only one who should feel fulfilled.”

“I think she is having an affair with a supplier at work so I’m going to call the integrity hotline and report it anonymously so she gets fired.”

Yes, these are all real situations that people have shared with me about the challenge they have in facing low-road behavior and the normal human condition of wanting to respond similarly.

Does responding negatively in return make it right? I don’t think so. Sure, it may make you feel better in the short-term. Revenge can feel therapeutic. Releasing that pressure cooker of anger feels great. Our natural response tends to be, “I’ll show him!” or “I’ll get even with her.” Giving him a taste of his own medicine is justice, right? Letting her see what it feels like levels the playing field, right?

Perhaps in the short-term, but I’m not sure it does in the long term. If there are kids involved, you have to continue to co-parent together. It’s much more challenging to co-parent from the perspective of both parents being on the low-road. Furthermore, your kids don’t need to witness both parents on the low-road. It’s hard enough for them to have to deal with one parent’s poor behavior, but to have both parents acting like idiots, makes it even more challenging.

I also argue that you are the one who has to live with the consequences of your low-road behavior. You don’t want to be embarrassed by how you responded. Did you do something in the heat of the moment that you now regret? Did you look and act like a lunatic? Being able to stand confident in how you responded to a negative situation is a pretty honorable place to be, and a testament to your character.

“Yes,” said one person recently, “I get all that, but at the end of the day, it’s like banging my head against the wall over and over again … I take the high road, and he doesn’t. It gets old. It gets frustrating. What am I supposed to do?”

That is such a tough situation to be in, and the only answer I can offer is that two wrongs don’t make a right. I know it sounds trivial, elementary and so much easier to say than to put into practice, but it’s the best I can offer. You will feel better in the future when you look back and know that you made the best decision for your children to observe. You will feel better in the future when you look back and know that you made the right decision for your character and your reputation.

I know: easier said than done! It’s like when my kids ask a question and want a real response, and all I have for them is, “Because I said so, that’s why,” or “Because I just know … trust me!”

Help me out here! What response do you give to people who are trying to take the high road, but who are consistently faced with low road actions in response?

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Blogtalk

Same Pond = Same Fish

May 23rd, 2013 → 9:12 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

I love this post … !  Same Pond = Same Fish

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I had a conversation with a dear friend a few weeks ago. She would love to meet a great companion who shares similar interests to her. She’s very active and constantly on the go. She’s not interested in getting married. She would simply love to meet a man who enjoys the same activities she does so they can do these things together. She was lamenting that she is always surrounded by the same people and that she never seems to meet new people. This was a problem for her as she hasn’t found the companion she is seeking in the current crowd she hangs out with regularly.

I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for her situation, and merely suggested, “If you are always fishing in the same pond, you are always going to be catching the same fish.” Period. End of story.

She chuckled as she clearly knew what I meant, but I’m not sure she was inspired to go find any new ponds in which to fish. She is comfortable in her current pond. She knows what to expect out of them. They are predictable and safe. Going to find new ponds might take her outside of her comfort zone. It might require a bit of planning. It may induce a bit of anxiety. It could even be uncomfortable the first time she visits another pond. For many people, it’s human nature to avoid making ourselves uncomfortable and pushing outside of our comfort zones.

No one said fishing in new ponds was going to be easy. No one said it was going to be worthwhile. Who knows!? Some ponds may not be stocked with the kind of fish she wants; others will be full of great fish! The challenge is that she will never know which situation she will encounter if she doesn’t at least try fishing in a new pond. The old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” makes all the sense in the world in this case.

Find a new pond

She became more intrigued by my pond analogies, and asked me how one would go about fishing in a new pond. Great question. I suggested that instead of always fishing in the work pond, or the Friday-night bar-scene pond, that perhaps she might want to switch it up and also fish in the volunteer at the animal shelter pond or the local community college digital photography course pond every now and then.

Great dates aren’t just going to show up on your front porch. Admit it, if someone just showed up on your porch and said he was there to take you out to dinner and to play golf, you would slam the door shut and call him a creeper. You have to be visible to let people know you are available. You have to be out there meeting people — and meeting new people — to stand a chance of catching new fish.

I’m hoping the fish and pond analogy works because when I suggested to my friend a few months ago — albeit much more directly — that she step out of her normal routine, that she switch things up a bit, and that she get involved in some new activities, she bluntly told me that she was far too busy to add anything else to her plate. OK. She can be too busy doing what’s not working for her, or try something new. She didn’t see it that way.

I’m hoping the pond and fish analogy might have done the trick. Only time will tell.

What about you? Can you share your stories of when you switched ponds and found the fish you were seeking?

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