#84 Go Solo

My mother preferred going to the movies by herself because (she said) no one would interrupt her experience by asking questions or talking in the middle of it.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#84

Go Solo

In a world where we talk so much about belonging, I am going to recommend that – at least for some time – you ‘go solo’.

What does that mean?

Depending on who you’re talking to, the term ‘go solo’ may refer to a number of things. Some people immediately take it to the far side and assume you’re spending some ‘intimate’ time with yourself. Others wonder if you are going to ‘go out on your own’ professionally. Still others conjure visions of sitting in a movie theater or a restaurant by yourself. A few may even imagine travel.

Being Alone

No matter the definition, in fact, any of the above can apply… the goal is to find a comfort level with spending time with yourself – and only yourself. This may be uncomfortable for some of you if you think of this from the perspective of sexual pleasure and yet as we narrow down these 365 days, I’d be remiss to leave out this discussion. Indeed, personal pleasure time is very important to a healthy perspective about sex and a satisfactory sex life. If you don’t understand how your body experiences pleasure, how are you ever going to introduce another person to it? The key is to explore and experiment in the privacy and safety of your own company so that you can engage more fully when you are with a partner.

Out & About

In almost every memory I have of attending the movies, I recall seeing at least one person there solo and I’ve always admired their courage to sit there by themselves. My mother preferred going to the movies by herself because (she said) no one would interrupt her experience by asking questions or talking in the middle of it. Another friend prefers to eat lunch alone everyday and seeks restaurants that are quiet and less crowded. She asks for a booth where she can ‘hide’ from the world for that hour and she considers it a reprieve from her stressful job.

Professionally

If your career is in the trades or professional services and you’ve considered or made the decision to ‘go solo’ – bravo to you for taking the initiative of entrepreneurship. It takes considerable courage and commitment to step outside the safety of a group or organization and accept the risk of not knowing where or when your next client will surface. Not everyone can or will be open to existing in that arena but for those that do… the reward is often worth the risk.

Travel

I’ve read blogs and talked to people who have experienced solo travel as “one of the highlights of their lives” and indeed, some prefer it. I stepped out on my first solo travel trip this past summer with much trepidation and had fun although for me… the jury is still out. I love adventure and hesitate to submerge myself in unfamiliar situations without a safe harbor close by. It’s part of my current development plan and a ‘work in progress’.

Self Care

Learning to spend quality time with yourself is vital to your overall emotional health. It’s too demanding on social systems to provide 100% of the comfort that we need as individuals and so it’s imperative that we learn how to be still with ourselves. No matter the platform, consider including some ‘solo time’ into your self care plan. Eventually, you’re sure to establish some comfort in your ability to …

Go solo.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#103 Learn to Trust

It’s about allowing each person that you cross path with to establish trustworthiness on their own – not based on other people.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#103

Learn to Trust

Our ability to trust others may be one of the most primary elements that makes life good. Counting on people, trusting them to be where they say, do what they say, and get things done when they say… that is definitely a component of a good life. It feels reliable, consistent, and dependable. It speaks to our need for some level of security.

Broken trust

And then we find out that not everyone is ‘trustworthy’. It’s disappointing for sure, and we become skeptical of trusting again. Sadly for some, trust isn’t easy to rekindle. It may depend on the situation or circumstances to some degree but even for simple or superficial infractions – trust can be difficult to reestablish.

Most People

I’ve found that most healthy people are indeed – trustworthy. Notice, I said healthy. People who betray us, people who lie, people who steal, people who trick and coerce us -generally, they are unhealthy. Healthy people – most people – don’t do those things. And so if you’ve crossed paths with an unhealthy person who has proved to be untrustworthy… put it into context and realize that they are not like ‘most people’.

Benefits

When we allow ourselves to feel trusting as a general rule with people there are plenty of emotional benefits. Perhaps first and most importantly, we are able to have more meaningful relationships. When we trust people and they demonstrate trustworthiness – our confidence increases. Our stress level is lower when we know that someone has our back and we have peace of mind.

This suggestion is “learn to trust” because it’s a necessary component regardless of how many times people in our environment have been untrustworthy. It’s about allowing each person that you cross path with to establish trustworthiness on their own – not based on other people. Essentially, no matter what has happened in the past…

Learn to trust.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#109 Try a New Perfume or Aftershave

This suggestion is for those of you who know how to take a risk, who want to try something different, and who aren’t afraid of change.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#109

Try a new perfume or aftershave

Have you been a creature of olfactory habit? Have you ‘smelled’ the same year after year because you’re fearful of finding another scent that works? Many of us have fond memories that relate to scents. I can’t smell Old Spice without thinking of my father and my mother, Estee Lauder. They wore those scents so long that they were synonymous with their roles.

Chemical Changes

It’s interesting to note that over time, our bodies chemical composition can change just enough so that the way it interacts with the chemicals in the cologne, it may smell different on us. Likewise, manufactures can tweek even one element of the scent structure and it interacts with us differently – changing the way it smells. It’s always good to have a fall back or another ‘go to’ scent.

Picking the Right Scent

While there are those that will never change – it’s not necessarily true that one scent fits all occasions. A light fruity scent may not be the most appropriate one for a winter holiday party. Likewise, a sexy soft scent probably isn’t a great choice for an important board meeting. Men also need to consider how strong their aftershave or deodorant is as compared to their environment. And ladies – when you spray, try to remember a little on the wrist goes a long way.

This suggestion is for those of you who know how to take a risk, who want to try something different, and who aren’t afraid of change. Of course, starting with samples is probably the best approach until you find something you enjoy. There’s no reason to accumulate a dozen bottles of scent that you won’t be wearing.

The next time you walk through the cosmetics department or find a magazine filled with samples – grab them so that you are ready to …

Try a new perfume or aftershave.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#246 Do Something Unexpected

The term ‘go big or go home’ is novel and sounds brave but could be financially or emotionally expensive and perhaps not a good way to get your feet wet with the experience of variety.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#246

Do something unexpected

Are you predictable?

Is there someone in your life that finishes your sentences? Do people make decisions for you based on historical data? Are you in a stagnant place; doing the same thing day in and day out? When life becomes too certain or too predictable, it can become boring. While we all need certainty to some extent, too much of it is not a good thing. Stability is a great thing but it needs to occasionally be sprinkled with variety with the understanding that tolerance for the unexpected is totally personal.

Take Control

For those of us who covet certainty, it’s a good idea to take some control of the variety we need and the best way to do this is to get up and do something unexpected. Make sure you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to experiencing any change up in routine. I’m not suggesting any wild or crazy things necessarily although if you’ve always been skittish about heights and suddenly express an urge to go bungee jumping, that may make sense. However, leaving a job that sustains your livelihood without another way to meet your obligations probably won’t be in your best interest overall.

Take a Risk

In order to step out of your comfort zone and do the unexpected – you must assume some amount of risk. For this reason, it is suggested that you start small – especially if you are just now stepping out. The term ‘go big or go home’ is novel and sounds brave but could be financially or emotionally expensive and perhaps not a good way to get your feet wet with the experience of variety. Be responsible and take calculated risks or the whole ‘certainty’ issue becomes more cemented.

Benefits

Doing the unexpected builds confidence both in yourself and in you for those around you. It requires courage and bravery to step out into the unknown. Even if you are certain of the results, doing something that no one would anticipate can be a recipe for surprise and entertainment; both of which contribute significantly to feelings of happiness.

Do yourself a favor and keep life interesting by making a commitment to …

Do something unexpected.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#252 Be Adventurous

Adventure helps us grow. When we experiment a little (or a lot), we will have successes and successes grow confidence.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#252

Be adventurous

Are you willing to take risks? Try new things? Test new ideas?  Enjoy new experiences? If so… congrats, you are adventurous and I suspect your happiness level reflects as much.

Adventure is about curiosity. Happiness research indicates that when we are curious in our daily life, it may elevate our happy base line. This is great news for people who tend to be glass half empty type of people. Many of us operate from a state of fear and it keeps us locked into familiar positions. When we are curious… i.e., adventurous… we step out of that comfort zone and – in many cases – are pleasantly surprised.

Adventure is personal. For some, it may be bungee jumping. For others, it may be getting on an airplane. It’s the unknown, the uncertain, maybe even the mysterious which, of course is different for us all based on experience.

Taking risks is difficult for some. Start close to your comfort level. Increase by degrees and pay attention to your body which, is uniquely designed to warn you when you are approaching the boundary of risk tolerance. Push lightly – a little at a time – and before you know it, the benefits of being adventurous will be felt.

Adventure helps us grow. When we experiment a little (or a lot), we will have successes and successes grow confidence. Yes, some of those trials will not be as successful as we hope but trying again is being adventurous and each time we try, we open the door to success and the elation that comes with it. There’s a great surge of dopamine that travels with the words “I did it!”.

Stop for a minute and think of something that would feel just a little outside of your comfort zone, or a place you’ve never gone, or a thing you’ve always wanted to do and make plans to…

Be adventurous.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Choosing Love

I picked up the phone to call him, just to remind him that I was excited to think about what lay ahead for us.

Continued from Falling

“The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry lifetime after lifetime.” ― Alex Collier

After Harlan told me he had been treated for melanoma I was a bit heartbroken. I didn’t want to go through that again, I couldn’t imagine setting myself up for loss one.more.time. I struggled to find some peace with the idea of letting him go – before he ‘really’ got under my skin and into my heart. I felt disappointed and a little defeated because I had finally met someone worth allowing myself to fall in love again and he is telling me that he had thought he was going to die a few years prior.

He had said the only treatment he had was excision of the mole… no radiation or chemotherapy. One would think that it couldn’t have been too serious and yet, a cancer diagnosis is terrifying no matter the circumstances. Every time I thought I could overcome my fear, the memories of my step dad’s journey with melanoma crowded my vision and then I could see myself again as a widow sitting in the front row of a funeral service. I just couldn’t do it.

I picked up the phone and called my Aunt. We had been close since I had settled my grandparent’s estate and she was like-minded in spiritual philosophies so it was easy to talk with her most of the time about this existential stuff. I needed to think out loud and bounce my thoughts off of someone.

“I met this guy”, I started telling her the story of Harlan and our instant connection. I shared with her, the prophecy from my mountain trip and gave her a general description of how things had transpired so far. I told her about his melanoma and how scared I was to take the risk of loving him.

“So, let me get this straight”, she said. “You are going to throw away the opportunity to love a person whom you are describing as a ‘soulmate’ because he MIGHT die?”. She sounded incredulous. “I thought you believed that everything happened for a reason”. She was challenging me.

I recalled an evening she and I were sitting on the porch at my grandparent’s farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania overlooking the amazing acreage there in the Blue Mountain region. The beauty of it was always intense, no matter the time of year. It was one of those places where you sit and observe the perfection of God’s work, of creation. It is one of those places where the paragon of color, texture, and shape are apparent. We were sitting there talking, taking a break from the emotional aspects of our losses; she of having lost a sister and her parents and me – my mom and grandparents. It was a lot to process. The conversation had turned metaphysical. We talked about the lack of coincidence, cosmic design, divine intervention, universal intent… all of the things that inspire me deeply…

Suddenly it was clear. If I believe that everything happens for a reason, then I had to deduct that

THIS moment

In its intention

Is perfect.

That meant – every moment of my life – each one… in its overall intention for the rest of my  life was perfectly designed.

The intensity of the meaning of that realization took me by surprise. Whether it was God, the Universe, Mother Earth … it didn’t matter – each moment of my life was moving me toward the next… perfectly. It was a concept that we both internalized and committed to memory – feeling quite satisfied that we had discovered something so profound.

She was reminding me of that now as I questioned the value and or the validity of meeting Harlan, of falling in love with him. She reminded me that there are never any guarantees. She asked me if I would have married Rocky even if I knew that our time together would have been short. I knew I would have – those short three and a half years were precious to me and had produced Frank… I would never have given that up. She asked me if I would have married Hubby even if I knew the outcome and as much as I wanted to say a resounding ‘no’ – I knew that the girls were a product of that union and nothing on earth would have me regret those blessings. I wouldn’t change anything about my life.

She asked me to think about whether I was willing to reject even a day of love, of being loved, the experience of the joy that being in love brings for the sake of safety. So, “in other words, she said, “you would rather feel nothing – no pain, no joy, than to feel love and potential pain??”

Hmmm…

I didn’t ‘want’ to feel ‘nothing’ but I was afraid. I was afraid of the pain that loving someone -and losing them- entailed. I was terrified of the darkness that ensues when love ends. The idea of experiencing that again panicked me but then again, the idea of never loving again wasn’t what I wanted either. Crap. Shit. What do I do now?

I appreciated the phone call even if it didn’t solidify a decision to end my budding romance. Rather, it did just the opposite I was more clear on the emotions that I experienced when he told me about the melanoma. I realized that when I noticed the potential for emotional pain, my response was to shut down, turn, and run away. That’s normal, right? Who ‘wants’ to feel pain? I understood then that the ‘fight or flight’ response we instinctively use wasn’t only for our physical protection – it was for our emotional protection as well. In our efforts to preserve our emotional integrity, we avoided or fought back emotionally.

My desire to run away from Harlan in case he died was an instinct to avoid the pain of losing him. The mature adult part of my brain that held on to rational thinking knew that there were no guarantees even if he had never known the word melanoma; after all… Rocky believed he would live to be one hundred years old. Nope, no guarantees at all. With very little conscious thought from that point on, I allowed myself to love.

I picked up the phone to call him, just to remind him that I was excited to think about what lay ahead for us. I looked forward with a little apprehension but less fear by knowing that right now… here… in THIS moment I was choosing love. At some point, I noticed that I always choose love.

Falling

I had to end the phone call and collect my thoughts. I couldn’t find any logic or rationale that correlated to my willingness to take the risk that yet another man I loved, would die on me.

Continued from And the Kissing Begins

“All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall.” —Meghan O’Rourke
After only a few dates I knew I could easily love this man. We were able to talk about almost anything and we shared a number of important priorities. I could also tell that we were different in a lot of ways. I knew now that a good relationship is one where we celebrated the similarities between us while at the same time, embracing and respecting the differences.  When we weren’t hanging out with one another, we were talking on the phone; and still – the conversation flowed.

On the next kids weekend with their dad, Harlan came and stayed at my house. We built a fire in the fireplace, rented movies, opened a few bottles of wine and created a blanket / pillow heaven reminiscent of our childhoods. We slept there – in front of the fireplace – participating in an adult style sleepover as if we were in our twenties all over again. It was romantic and loving and relaxed. For approximately 48 hours, we ate, slept, and chatted at will… no schedule, no interruptions, no expectations. It was magical.

Eventually, we got into more nitty-gritty things, what had happened in our marriages, the imperfections of our extended families, the challenges that we grew from. One of the many things that really attracted me to Harlan though is his heart. He appeared to be intensely compassionate and considerate of others – an empath almost. I could tell that he would literally ‘feel’ the experience of others and sometimes, there was simply no benefit at all in that.

We talked about him meeting the girls. I had introduced them to Jay too soon but then, I had never felt this way about Jay. I felt something stronger and growing for this man. I wanted to see how he would be around the girls.

That desire made me think about myself as a mother… how many mistakes had I made? How many had I learned from? What had I learned exactly?

The girl’s father hadn’t been discriminate in his choice of partners and had no regard for the girls’ thoughts on the matter, telling them to ‘get over it’ and ‘it was his choice, not theirs’. Consequently, the girls certainly didn’t have the relationship with him that I had always envisioned. There was a strain on the father-daughter rapport almost constantly because of his relationship. I didn’t want the same outcome. I wanted to find a way to balance a personal romantic relationship with that of my role as a mother and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the latter.

I knew from my own childhood that when moms and dads begin dating again, they can get too absorbed in the new partner – way before the kids have a chance to ‘catch up’ with their feelings and that, wasn’t the best scenario either. I wanted the girls to like Harlan and so, I invited him for dinner.

It wasn’t as smooth and as easy as when Jay came… even though Harlan had daughters, he wasn’t up on Gilmore Girls or Hanna Montana because he mostly watched sports or public broadcasting. He wasn’t a reader of Harry Potter or Nancy Drew. He attempted to connect with Swimming but eventually found that they like many of the same movies. Harlan likes practically any movie; chick flick, adventure, or animated. It didn’t’ matter too much, he had seen all of the trailers if he hadn’t seen the actual movie and so he was able to foster a conversation on that front, easily.

My oldest daughter Sara, being a bit more mature and perhaps more present and considerate of her surroundings – attended to Harlan like proper company by engaging him in conversation as she could. Erin seemed indifferent and Emily stuck to me like glue. I watched each of them carefully and at one point, noticed that they were watching me. This was a new thing for us and we were all in unchartered territory. No one knew the rules or how to play the game so we were just ‘winging’ it but it was going ok – at least for now. He didn’t stay long after dinner; I guess we were thinking we would ‘ease’ into having him around.

And that’s what we did. Harlan made it very clear to the girls that they needed to come first – he wanted them to know that if they didn’t like him or want him around – it would impact our relationship negatively. He knew- he realized that for US to be happy, they had to accept him in my life. It was his philosophy in that regard that opened the door for me to fall head over heels in love with him.

I told him one evening when we were at his house. We were standing outside, under his carport and I was attempting to leave but each time I took a step toward my car he would lean down and kiss me, stealing my breath and preventing me from moving further. I knew I had to go but it was so difficult sometimes – tearing myself away from him. I loved all that kissing. I reached my hand up to his chest to hold him back, keep him at bay for a minute… I had to breathe. “You know”, I said… “I am falling hard for you. No doubt. I am falling in love.” As if it was some kind of competition and he knew he had won – he replied “Oh yeah? I already fell. I love you.” He was one up and I was too weak to prevent an all out swoon. He caught me by placing his hand firmly and strongly on the small of my back as he pressed me to him again, for another kiss – this one full of love.

Later, I’m not sure if it was a week or a day in an austere conversation we were having for the sole purpose of filling in more details about our previous years of life, he mentioned that he thought he was going to die. He had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and had a significant mole removed from his shin. It had been nine or ten years at that point and he said it in an unremarkable manner as if had been just another day. And yet, he spoke about it as if he had thought his life was over, the melanoma had been considerable enough that he somehow believed his life was in danger.

My heart lurched as memories of my step-dad and his slow, agonizing death from malignant melanoma inundated my mind. He too had found a mole and his life ended because of it. My thoughts also went right back to Rocky’s death and the excruciating emotional pain that I felt when he died. I felt as if I was on a merry-go-round, noticing all of the love and loss in my life as it went faster and faster while the seat I was on went up and down, creating a chaotic sensation so intense that I found it difficult to catch my breath. No way… I was not doing this again. Nope. Thank Goodness I found out early… while it was still easy to get out.

I had to end the phone call and collect my thoughts. I couldn’t find any logic or rationale that correlated to my willingness to take the risk that yet another man I loved, would die on me. At least it hadn’t gotten very far and it would be easy to end. Shit. I really fell for this one.