Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Loving Yourself First

Gosh, the past two weeks have been a kick in the junk…  Yet I’m trying to look for the silver linings as always because I’m corny like that.   Writing this series, Love Yourself First has helped me keep the big picture in perspective through the stress, although ironically I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to write about it as much as I’d like to.
I was pulled to work on a project because we lost several people.    I had been doing some consulting for a tv show in my hometown  but  I got pulled into it fulltime.   It’s been a blast and I have to say I’ve enjoyed the work immensely.   However, I’ve had little time to write and I feel badly about that.  I’ve literally been working almost every day, so it’s been a challenge just keeping everything at home together.    Thank goodness for microwaves and frozen dinners or my sons would have died by now, so yay for modern technology.
The upside is that I love this work,  it’s been so rewarding and has pushed me to learn new things.   I’m also making great connections for my writing, so I can see a lot of big picture advantages down the line.   It's been a huge confidence boost and I've been able to do some assignments that have pushed me.
I’ve had a lot of life stress too compounding all of this and the one thing that has really kept me grounded is the love yourself first promise.  It’s been even more of a challenge than ever to make time to do this, but I’ve been forcing myself to do it every day.   I’ve been doing little things like take a long bath, finding something that makes me laugh, or getting a good cup of coffee.    
My plan when I had the idea for this series was to prepare you in advance for the demanding holiday season.    We are all pulled in so many directions during the season and we often put so much pressure on ourselves that we need to be able to say no to people if need be.    Although this was a grandiose expectation, I hoped that this series contributed in a small way to your positive self-image.
The thought is that if you treat yourself well, you will start to believe that you deserve it, not only helping you have higher self-esteem, but will also build you up to not accept bad treatment when you’re in a relationship.  For me this was a huge lesson and it forced me to reevaluate my life priorities.
The other self-improvement focus I’ve been working on is being less emotionally invested all the way around.  Honestly, I struggled a lot about my last date and how all that went so wrong.   I missed him and our funny exchanges.  It became obvious that I was more attached than I originally thought and it took awhile to process what happened.   
I wallowed in these emotions for awhile and just one day pulled the plug.   I just somehow forced myself to not care.   It's been working and maybe this is where I need to stay for awhile.    Staying unplugged emotionally is a smart way too of making sure that I take care of myself.   
Thank you for reading and I hope you keep loving yourself first!

The Single Mom

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Loving Yourself First: Be Cautious but not Closed off Completely

Life was imitating art because my post for this week in Loving Yourself First was about starting to let people in.  Week one was about letting  go of your past , week two was about building your self esteem, this week, week three is about being careful about letting people in and week four is going to be about finding happiness.    If you’ve been following in Facebook, my daily quotes have all been in line with these themes all through this month.
This was Monday’s quote on Facebook and it was a great quote to kick off this week, well at least for the blog.
Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up.  They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.   Samuel Johnson
It’s important that we stay true to who we are but let people in, as long as we are cautious about it.   This is definitely something that is a flaw of mine.  I’ve been through a lot, as I’ve gotten older I’ve recalibrated my date picker and changed my parameters for what I’m looking for.  I’ve written a lot about it but superficial things are very low on my list now in my forties.   I’ve honed in on before I get close to someone asking the right questions and making sure what they are looking for is what I’m looking for.  I also am honest about myself and the negatives about me so that there are no surprises. 
I also talked early on in this series about drawing two circles around yourself and only letting a chosen few get into that circle.  Truth is when people get close to us they can hurt us.   I think we as humans are happiest when we have closeness with someone else.   I’ve gotten to the time in my life where I’m ready to put aside my own ego and love someone, accept blame when it’s my fault and truly give to someone else. I’ve stood on my own for so long, I’ve found the good in all my pain and I’ve become a really strong woman.   A woman with a lot to offer, I think. 
Lately, I’ve become weary from dating after seven years of it.   I’ve always bounced back up and dusted myself off and hit the ground running again.  This year, however I’ve had a harder time bouncing back and I’m trying to make smarter decisions.  I don’t want to be a man hater and bitter.   I want to be smarter and maybe I’m fooling myself that I’m not becoming closed off, I don’t honestly know. 
I’ve gone out with men I’ve met in bars, online, the grocery store, and now even Twitter.   I wasn’t in the mindset to date, so I stopped online dating after several years of it.  I met a lot of great guys online dating, had serious relationships from it. Yet, I wasn’t ready to put myself out there.  I pulled back to love myself first and to focus on personal development.
Somewhere along the way a Twitter friend in my same city became more and we went out.  What started as me telling him I didn’t want to date over the past several weeks ended up with us eventually talking, texting and going out on a date.    At first it was hey, I’d like to meet you for a beer just to get to know you and as time passed, feelings became involved.    
I was cautious and asked a lot of important questions about what he was looking for, was honest about my weaknesses and he was still extremely eager to meet me.     After a few weeks, I gave him my number but it was several days until I could talk to him, all the while I probably turned down 3 or 4 offers to go out on a date.    I actually felt badly about rejecting him and pushing him off, yet I wasn’t excited to be hurt again and had a lot to do.    Last week we actually talked on the phone for the first time and our first call lasted about 2 hours.   
During that week, we texted 1600 times, our conversations were hilarious and if I didn’t text him back within about 10 minutes, I’d get a text from him asking if I was ok or something.    We’d seen pictures of each other and we seemed to find each other attractive.   We talked about everything and we did eventually get flirty.   We were both apparently looking for the same things and I started allowing myself to feel close to him, so it felt right.
I’m a veteran dater and I felt like I was cautious, maybe too cautious even letting my guard down to him.  Looking back now, I don’t know what more I could have possibly done except to not talk to him at all.    
So, I’ll tell you about the date and try to make sense of it.  Leading up to the date, we were both getting nervous and excited to finally meet each other.   We met at the restaurant and there were a lot of smiles when we saw each other for the first time.   It almost felt like being young again, first date nerves and the excitement of finally seeing him.    We had developed a lot of inside jokes and had fun inserting them into the conversation.   Talking to him was a breeze and we barely opened our menus.   Actually the waitress circled a few times because we just wouldn’t stop talking long enough to open the menus.
Talking with him I could feel the attraction, yet he wasn’t the typical guy who I’d have to worry about being alone with.   He promised me that he wouldn’t be like that and I could truly trust that he wouldn’t.  After dinner, which lasted over a couple hours, we went back to his house.  I felt completely comfortable and although I joked about it, it wasn’t even a second thought.   I knew he’d be a gentleman.
He gave me a tour of his home and snuck on something that he knew was a turn on of mine – a backwards baseball hat.   He had to point it out to me and did so with a boyish grin, really pleased with himself.   We started kissing in his kitchen and it was perfect.  We made a lot of eye contact even during kissing and he walked me over to the couch to get more comfortable. 
His jealous white cat kept trying to vie for his attention and it became something we laughed about.     Without giving gory details, we were obviously very attracted to each other.   It felt good to finally be with him, kissing him and in his arms after wondering what it would be like.   I honestly didn’t expect it to be so natural to be together, but it was just like our conversations leading up to the date.
We ended up falling asleep on the couch, he woke me up because I was snoring, smooth me, huh?  It was late, we said goodnight and texted when we both were home safely.   He texted me the next morning with his pet name for me and all seemed fine.   Over the next couple of days we continued texting until after a few days in a text he told me he just didn’t feel chemistry with me.    

I’ve been on a lot of dates, maybe more than a hundred.   I know when there isn’t chemistry.  That’s when you want to chew your arm off to have an excuse to get out of the date.   There’s nothing to talk about and the thought of touching the person makes you want to run the other way.  This wasn’t either one of those scenarios, so I’m puzzled about it to say the least.
Although I’d love to have a positive spin on this today, I just don’t.  Ironically, this subject is what I’ve been planning to write about when I planned out the Love Yourself First series. 
I was cautious about letting someone in, and I still ended up hurt.     I’ve had a day to digest what happened and I’m still as puzzled.    I don’t plan on getting close to anyone on Twitter anymore, it’s just one more portal to me that I’m closing off.   I enjoy writing about dating and I think that’s what my focus needs to be for now.    I guess every road to me that I close off gets me closer to Crazy Cat Lady, I just don’t need to keep being hurt, it’s just not the best use of my time.
Maybe I need to get smarter still about getting close to people, so I’ll think about that, while I love myself first.  I hope you love yourself first too!
The Single Mom 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Love Yourself First! Feeling Sexy

Love your body or at least make peace with it!

As women we give ourselves a lot of pressure about our looks and bodies.   I’ve learned something a shocking during my 7 years of dating that was contrary to what I would have ever expected.    I learned that most men I’ve met are far more attracted to a less than perfect looking woman with high confidence than a nearly perfect woman with low confidence.
I’m not sure if it’s the way we are brought up or if we do it to ourselves through our lives, but as women we are often the first ones to put ourselves down or to wave off a compliment if we receive one.    Why do we do this?  I cannot figure it out. 
I get some mean comments from women readers who knock me for my confidence.  Truth be told, I’d bet my body is not as good in comparison than most of the women who criticize me.    I’ve just learned to let a lot of my insecurities go better than a lot of people I suppose.    I’ve begun to learn to shake off criticism in the same way.
I’m not going to deny that I’d love to have a better body, but at this time in my life, I’m sick of trying to please everyone else.   Some men don’t like my body but there are a whole hell of a lot who do and those are the men I’m interested in anyway.     I feel sexy and comfortable in my own skin and I’m not going to obsess about my imperfections.  I definitely believe in eating well and exercise but there’s a whole lot about my body that isn’t going to change without some major reconstruction.  Fact.
A lot of men tell me that being with a woman who is confident is a complete turn on, much more so than a woman who is constantly unhappy with the reflection she sees in the mirror or someone constantly trying to fit into what society defines as beautiful.   It’s important to maintain physical health and yet mental health by not destroying ourselves to achieve perfection.
For me, this was the most important piece of learning for me in loving myself.  I’d grown up hating my body and myself for having it.   I was on every diet imaginable through my childhood and developed an eating disorder.   I was unhappy with my appearance to the point of making myself sick.  Looking back now it seems like such a waste.
This mindset only made me vulnerable to unhealthy relationships until just a few years ago.   It didn’t change until I began dating and had a lot of positive experiences.   I learned that men’s parameters for attractiveness were well beyond what I thought they were… most likely a perception that I formed through years of seeing women in magazines and movies.     
The result of this internal change has caused me to become more confident on the outside.   I've held onto a piece of advice that has changed the way I approach many of life’s situations, “fake it till you make it”.    I’ve learned to carry myself with confidence and it probably makes me seem like I have more self confidence than I actually do.    Yet, it’s interesting because it has had an affect on the way men respond to me which in turn feeds confidence.   Funny how that works, huh?
I encourage you today to Love Yourself First by appreciating your body... be healthy but don’t beat yourself up for your flaws - we all have them.

What’s going on in my “Love Life”?
I’ve been taking this challenge to love myself first right alongside you.  I’m working on identifying my flaws and being more careful to evaluate situations and relationships more carefully.    I’ve been incredibly busy lately and have felt pulled in too many directions.  It’s truly been a challenge to remember to do something nice for myself every day.  However, I’ve been forcing myself to do it and it has made a difference in my daily happiness. 
I’m also a little sad to tell you that “Twitterguy” and I have parted ways.   He’s a great person and I have nothing but respect for him as a man and I’m grateful I had a chance to get to know him.     He works two jobs, so that combined with the hour between us made it extremely difficult to spend time together.   I also felt like both of us weren't really ready to get close and neither one of us tried very hard to change the other person's heart.  
I have met someone new that did start as a friendship. He lives in the same city as me, has a good sense of humor and is really cute.   Very recently, it's been turning into something more and a first date is planned.   We’ve been talking for several weeks and the whole time, I’ve had a wall around me.    As I mentioned, I've also been busy and haven't had a lot of time, so it's kind of made things go more slowly than in a usual time frame.   
In the beginning, I was really careful to tell him that I didn’t think I was capable of intimacy.  However, somewhere between all the funny messages, we started to realize we have a lot in common and he’s a really great guy.   So... wish him luck and I’ll let you know more later.
The Single Mom

If you'd like to follow along on the 30 day "Love Yourself First" challenge, like this page and follow along with the thought of the day.   There's been so much positive feedback about it and I'm so grateful to be doing this with YOU! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let It Burn

I found some closure recently with the help of a magic marker, a lighter and a piece of paper.     
A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I was upset about the end of a relationship and that I wasn’t able to have the kind of closure I needed.   Until I could have this, I wasn’t fully able to move forward to where I needed to go and I had to find a way to do this for myself.
I couldn’t control the situation and the only way for me to make peace with it was for me to officially let it go to stop allowing it to hurt me.  Once I realized I was allowing it to continue to hurt me, I knew I had to stop it. 
I wrote his name on a piece of paper, said a few words, took a deep breath and lit the paper.   Tears fell as I watched the name of this person, who had been so important to me essentially go away before my eyes.     After the paper was completely engulfed in flames, I felt relief and it was like all the anger and sadness were lifted off of my shoulders. 
Within about a minute’s time all that remained  were ashes and some smoke.    In that moment, I promised myself I wouldn’t let him hurt me anymore and that I owed it to myself to give the effort I had been giving to feeling sadness and pain to go towards loving myself.
Here’s what happens, we love someone and give them a lot of us, which is good until it isn’t recriprocal.  We often put that person’s needs over our own and let our own needs go unmet for the sake of someone else too long.  We then come to expect this and in the process it depreciates our feelings of self -worth. 
It’s essential for us to begin to give to ourselves again for us to realize that we are worth it.   It also helps us set the standard that we shouldn’t let someone come into our lives who won’t do nice things for us, to not settle for less than what we know we deserve.    
Every day since then I’ve made an effort to do something nice for myself, even if it’s a small thing.   My budget is really tight now, so I can’t treat myself in a way like I used to be able to, but I’m still doing things that make me realize how important it is to take care of myself.   This is a lesson that is very hard for me, I take care of two boys and I often go without so that they can have what they need.   
It isn’t about the money that I need to spend to make myself happy, it can be taking a 15 minute break to go outside and get sunshine or to read something positive. 
I’m making an effort to put only positive influences in my life because I want to be able to write from a positive place.    Before I write, I light a fragrant candle in my office and play uplifting music.   The world we live in sends us so many negative messages, it’s really important for us as much as possible to control who and what we allow to infiltrate our thoughts and emotions. 
I did make an exception to buy one material thing I for myself.   I made myself a necklace that says “Love Yourself First”.  I don’t take it off and whenever I need to remind myself to keep moving forward, I touch it to remind myself to say no, or to change my thoughts, or whatever it is in that moment .  
Thank you so much for taking this journey along with me!  I thank you for sharing so much of yourselves with me.  If you have little things like this that you do to get closure or as positive reminders, I’d love to hear them!   I truly hope this series has a positive effect on your life today and into the future! 
The Single Mom 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LoVe YoUrSelf FiRsT - 30 Day Challenge for a Better You!

LoVemBeR - 30 days of healing, self-love and moving forward
Over margaritas and chimichangas last week, my friend told me I wouldn’t see her much for the next month because she was doing a 30 Day Cleanse.  Her diet didn't allow her to eat out or drink alcohol anymore.     She explained the health benefits of eliminating certain foods and drinks from our diets and it was fascinating.  So, of course I ordered another margarita and toasted to her cleanse and wolfed down my guacamole. 
 After I got home that night, it occurred to me that maybe I needed to do some emotional housekeeping and challenged myself to share this with all of you.  Over the next 30 days I’m going to look at myself and relationships very carefully and share my process so you can do the same.
It dawned on me that there’s a similarity to removing people and situations from our lives as much as possible to make us healthier people.   Much like any diet, we can't starve ourselves, we have to instead learn to filter better.    For example: if you have to work with someone who makes you cRaZy, you just can't remove that person from your life, you have to learn how to compartamentalize them better.  
My years of dating have been much harder than I imagined.   It’s been a revolving door of hurt and disappointment.    It was obviously painful when my marriage unraveled.  We became strangers while trying to live under the same roof and parent two kids.   Looking back now, I probably should have taken time back then to do what I’m doing today.   
This whole crazy love thing hasn't worked for me and I realized I need to do some deep digging to understand why.   It finally occurred to me that I often give too much.
I’m a giver and I always want to fix everyone.  I don’t plan to completely stop because it’s part of what makes me who I am.   However, I’m going to stop and ask myself, is this person giving me the same effort  I’m giving them?  If the answer is no, I’m going to pull back.    
This idea of “Loving yourself first” is especially hard for me, I’m the kind of person who would do just about anything for someone.   Yet, I realize I often give too much and the irony of that is that it gets in the way of me being loved in return.   
Why should YOU do this?
If you are in an unhappy relationship, going through a divorce or a breakup or if you just want more happiness in your life.
Decide today that you are going to Love Yourself First!
What you need to do today to get started:
-          Clean out your emotional closet.  What’s bothering you?  Deal with any unresolvred dirty laundry that you've been putting off over the next day or two.   Write an email or a letter if you have unfinished business.  As much as possible put that relationship on hold for the next 30 days as you love up yourself.   (Example: I had a family issue that I hadn't dealt with.  I sent an email today and closed the book on it, for now anyway.

-          Promise yourself for the next 30 days to put yourself first.   This doesn’t mean to be selfish or to isolate yourself.  In fact, its almost the opposite.  If you love yourself first, you’ll have more to give and here’s the payoff, you’ll get more love if you’re in recriprocal relationships.

-          Resolve for the next 30 days that you’ll be less porous about what and who REALLY penetrates you.   It’s perfectly fine to continue to be a mother, daughter, son, friend and lover but be very careful about who you allow into your inner circle.  Envision every morning drawing two circles around yourself.  Only a very few should get to your inner circle, choose carefully. 

-          Do something nice for yourself everyday.   It can be a small thing or a big thing, a cup of coffee, using the good dishes for dinner, or lighting a candle that makes you happy.   The point is to just do one thing everyday that makes you feel good.

Meet me here on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next steps and meet me EVERY day on Facebook as I share your daily inspiration for the process.   It's gonna be an awesome journey of self discovery, laughter and fun.  I look so forward to us doing this together, thanks for sharing your progress with me.

The Single Mom