Wait: You Do What?

A colleague of mine and I had a funny exchange the other day. He manages our company’s business continuity planning program while I lead our enterprise risk function. We were talking about the difficulty of describing our jobs to non-business people. For that matter, even business people have a hard time grasping the nature of our respective lines of work.

ash-from-modern-afflatus-443916-unsplashHis job function is relatively easy to understand: it involves all the advanced prep needed to keep a business running in the event of a disaster, natural or man-made. Mine is similar but broader in scope: it means anticipating all of the highly probable hazards that could befall a company (e.g., strategic blunders, talent shortages, data breaches, loss of customers, you name it….) and that would negatively impact it in such a significant way it cripples the company’s competitive position or even its ability to remain in business. Anticipating what could very likely happen allows you to take smart steps now to prevent, avoid, or minimize the risk. The larger the company, the bigger the impact, and the more complexities you need to consider.

Now of course, any hazard is also an opportunity to show customers and investors that you are prepared to handle whatever comes your way. It can be a strategic advantage to your business if you deliberately position it that way. Not a lot do.

Sometimes I cringe when people ask me what I do for a living. It’s not like “director of enterprise risk” rings a bell and is immediately obvious to anyone. I could tell people I’m a coach, or a teacher, or simply a businesswoman and all of it would be true. But it’s not quite right.

So this is where the conversation with my colleague got good: when he described what he did for a living to one of his friends, the friend remarked,

“So you’re telling me you’re a professional mom, but for business. You think of all the things that could go wrong. You make sure your kids check in when they’re doing something big or facing danger on their own. And you ask them if they’re wearing clean underwear before they leave the house.”



Nailed it. 🤣

Gonna have to use that explanation from now on.

Photo by Ash from Modern Afflatus on Unsplash

No Shade, No Tea

thomas-kolnowski-780791-unsplashLast week our elementary school hosted parent-teacher conferences so I dutifully reported in the evening to get the scoop on our youngest two kids.

Our daughter is now an “upper classman” as a 5th grader. It seems like every year, I’m surprised by what the kids are learning as I just don’t remember all of those sophisticated learning objectives being shared with us when we were kids in the same grades. We just absorbed whatever was taught by rote. I don’t recall us learning strategies or reasons why the subject matter was important. Color me impressed.

For the record, my husband normally attends these conferences with me, but one of his music gigs got rescheduled for the same night so he had to bail this year. The conversations with the teachers would have been much more interesting, as you’ll see!

The 5th grade teacher shared our daughter’s self-assessment with me. A self-assessment! In 5th grade? Get out!

The first thing that struck me is how very self-aware our daughter is. She seemed to understand exactly how she was doing in each of her subjects, and what she could do physically to prepare herself better for school.  More sleep and better nutrition was her response.  Her dad and I talk with all the kids about the importance of a protein breakfast to start the day off the right way, and there she was acknowledging it was important.

Mrs. T, her teacher, noticed that our daughter is a little hard on herself. I sheepishly acknowledged she got that from me.

There’s just no escaping the things you need to work on in your own life. If you don’t work through them on your own, you just might give birth to them, to relive all over again. Maybe that’s what they really mean by reincarnation. But I digress…

Her teacher asked an open-ended question at the end of the self-assessment: “Is there anything else I need to know?” to which our daughter responded,

“No shade, no tea, but I think we need to talk about friendships at school. No one in particular, but it can distract from my schoolwork.”

Mrs. T looked at me to decode what it meant, not so much the dynamics of 5th grade with hormones a-blooming everywhere and all, because we all know to expect with those, but the “no shade, no tea” part.

I was as perplexed as she was. Now, Mrs. T’s gotta be at least 10 years younger than me, so I figured she was in the know, way better than I am. But here she was, genuinely asking me for the scoop.

Part of me wondered if it was a test. Ok, maybe I had a smidge of paranoia creeping in, but I brushed it off.

I had to admit I didn’t know. So I went all “Indiana Jones” and tried to be a linguistic archeologist about it:

“Well, ‘no shade’, I think means no disrespect…no talking smack, in other words. But the ‘no tea’ part? Where did she get that? I’ve never heard her say it at home and we don’t say it. You really got me! But you know who would know? My husband! He knows all the teen lingo.”

It’s true. Although my husband is a musician, he teaches percussion privately to students of all ages. He’s also on staff with three school districts, teaching and advising the percussion students in the music department. Allow me to translate: this means he is on staff for marching band season and I don’t really see him but one day a week from early July through early November. He is surrounded by teens for days and weeks on end and subsequently HEARS. IT. ALL.  For at least the last 17 years, he has.

I would bestow an honorary teen psychology degree on him, if I could, with a certification as a skilled linguist in teenspeak, to boot.

No lie, I would use random words in daily conversation with him, and he’d jerk upright, stop what he was doing and stare at me all wide-eyed to say, “You can’t use that word anymore!” And I’d look at him all skeptical and wide-eyed in return, totally disbelieving him and exasperated that yet another precious word was now off-limits. This would go back and forth a few rounds until he’d coach me to look up said word on Urban Dictionary. You’d find little old sheltered me slack-jawed and horrified at how language has been hijacked for nefarious means.*. Sometimes I hate talking to him because I learn stuff I don’t want to.

Genuinely curious, I got home after the conference and promptly Googled my daughter’s slang and here’s what popped up:

The slang expression “No Tea, No Shade,” meaning “No disrespect, but …” is common in the drag community, where T means “truth.” The related phrase “All Tea, All Shade,” means “This statement is true, so I don’t care if it offends you or not.”May 20, 2016
A Way with Words | No Tea, No Shade

I dug a bit further. Apparently, the T in “tea” is frequently mistaken for truth, but it is really is “tea”. It’s a reference to ladies in the Old South who would sit around, sipping iced tea and gossip. I feel like whomever coined this phrase nailed it. I can totally see that happening! So I took our daughter’s words to mean, “no disrespect and no gossip, but here’s what’s really going on.”

Part of me smiled that my daughter was strong yet wise enough to confess the real scoop at school without throwing anyone under the bus, so speak.

I wrote to Mrs. T and told her what this fancy new lingo meant and even explained that, um…we don’t really have an association with the drag queen community so I am just as intrigued if not a smidge confounded (alarmed? Is alarmed the word I’m searching for, haha?) how in the world our 10-year-old girl heard this phrase. Not that there’s anything wrong with the drag queen community. I’m just sitting here in small-town Ohio trying to piece this together.

Then it hit me: our 5th grader is a huge fan of YouTube star and 19-year-old makeup artist extraordinaire James Charles. Yes, a guy who wears makeup. I assume he says “No shade, no tea” a lot. I could be wrong, but the logic is coming together like the stars in a constellation, baby. Close enough for me.

And for a brief moment, I wonder if we need to put some parental controls on YouTube, but really…James Charles is fine. Frankly, I could learn a tip or two from him. He’s actually pretty good with brushes on a human canvas.

Back to our daughter. I’m tickled she found a clever way to make her point.

But I’m also proud of her for noticing that the friendship dynamics at school can cause some drama, and it’s distracting from what she ought to be focused on. And she’s not calling anyone out in particular, but she’s AWARE that social dynamics are starting to be an issue she needs to resolve. Mrs. T affirmed that our girl really does try to be friends with everyone but the dynamics of the various friendships in 5th grade are getting frenzied, shall we say.

Now, we parents discuss friendship drama with our 5th grader, you know: who’s friends with who, who’s feeling jealous and why, how to include people so they don’t feel left out, how not to feed the drama dragon, how to talk directly to a person with whom you are having an issue so you can work things out instead of avoiding it, etc.

I might even go so far as to one-up the phrase and say “no shade, no tea, no Oscar” as a motto for how to manage friendships in these preteen and junior high years: no disrespect, no gossip, and for heavens’ sake, no drama either!

I don’t have quite the same reach as James Charles, so hard to say whether my little turn of phrase will take flight but you heard it here first.

Three cheers to all the 5th grade girls and their awesome teachers who battle raging hormones daily, year after year.

Photo credit: Thomas Kolnowski on Unsplash.com
* Don’t believe me? Look up “taint” in Urban Dictionary if you’re brave enough, and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And no….I honestly didn’t know there was an alternative meaning. I grew up sheltered and sweet so I’m just sitting here shaking my head, resigned over the death of my innocence. Then again, I’d much rather be in the know…

Women, Weddings, Friendships, and Homecomings

My trusty red Jeep Renegade Roxanne carted my two youngest children and I to southern Indiana this weekend for the wedding of two beautiful young people, the bride being the daughter of a life-long friend of mine. My spouse and oldest kid had marching band duties and couldn’t join us for the celebration. When your husband is part of the administration responsible for enforcing attendance at band competitions, you can’t very well kidnap him and your band kid for a wedding, no matter how good of friends they may be.

It was a long drive, six hours away from my home. I’ve made this trip only two other times before. We drove down Friday night after work let out and got in past midnight. I don’t remember the last two hours of the drive all that well. Both kids had passed out in the back seat right before Louisville. It was dark, and I was slapping my cheeks, drinking cold water, and singing to stay awake. So dangerous! I know I should have pulled over to rest, but I figured I would then wind up sleeping for hours on some random interstate rest stop with two kids in tow. I really didn’t want to do that and be a mess the entire next day, if not the whole weekend. Because, let’s be honest: six hours down meant six hours back.

We three got a good night’s rest and it was time to get ready for the ceremony so I suited up the kids. My daughter chose a tasteful preteen black dress with matching flats. We had to curl her very long hair for effect. I let her wear nude eye shadow, mascara, and a hint of lipstick. To top it off, I let her wear some dangly earrings I brought along. Not overdone but subtle and pretty.

That afternoon I learned that my son outgrew his first holy communion suit in just six months’ time. I just assumed it would fit. The jacket did, but we could barely snap the pants which were almost a full two inches too short. Say what? I whispered to myself he was going for the Brooks Brothers look with no break in the pant leg. Or maybe he was super stylish with a LeBron James capri-length suit. Uh huh. Whatever. I topped off his look with suspenders and a bow tie, and let me tell ya: he was a tiny little stud when it was all said and done. We even put a little gel in his hair to get it to stay put.

I debated between the three dresses I brought, waiting for inspiration to hit me in terms of what look to shoot for. I finally chose a black and white geometric print maxi dress, flat sandals, and bright red lips. The red lips were not subtle. The flats were for dancing. I intended to celebrate.

Much to everyone’s surprise, it was 87 degrees this first October weekend in Indiana but there was virtually no humidity (also surprising), and as we pulled up to the venue, I discovered it was an outdoor wedding. A lovely, flower-laiden arbor was placed beside a small, pretty lake with white folding chairs assembled for those congregated. Afraid we might melt a little, I learned we didn’t have to worry too much. It didn’t feel that hot and a little breeze blew now and then to make the afternoon perfectly pleasant. Correction: picture-perfect.

Right away, I searched the crowd for my friend Stephanie, and found her at the edge of the gathering, working through logistics of the venue.

Mother of the bride! I have a friend who is mother of the bride! She was absolutely gorgeous in a brownish taupe dress with beading, her mid-length blond hair pulled back in curls and waves. Her large, light blue eyes were sparkling. It struck me how beautiful she is and always has been, and the joy on her face made it clear how happy she was that her only daughter was getting married.

Steph had kids when she was younger, and in contrast, I had mine when I was much older. I got to meet her little girl for the first time when I came to visit their home as a single woman. I distinctly recall this beaming, bouncy little 3 or 4-year-old brunette with large, brown, shiny eyes. We bonded. I painted her toes and fingers a sparkly orange while she sat transfixed. She was absolutely adorable and one of the prettiest little girls I had ever seen. I was so happy that my friend had two wonderful kids.

I had only seen this daughter one other time, at the high school graduation party of her older brother. Over the years though, I felt I knew her because I watched her mother recount her life in Facebook pictures. What a joy to watch her achievements over the years in softball, to marvel at her senior pictures, and to monitor her college years and dating life from afar…always with admiration.

At some point her daughter friended me online.  I was completely tickled to have her friendship. Even though her family and I have always lived far apart, she knew enough about me to befriend me, and I was touched by the gesture.

My friendship with Stephanie is over four decades long, and dates back to kindergarten. She grew up a block away from me, across the street from our elementary school. For years, we played together almost every day, and fought like cats and dogs, kinda like sisters would but I never did with my own because they were so much older than me.

Monday I would drag my baby doll and crib over to her home to “play house” in her basement. She had, hands down, THE COOLEST play kitchen set. Her pretend husband was Donny Osmond (in retrospect, an admirable choice) and mine was Tony Orlando (really? OMG).  The next day, she’d drag her stuff over my house to play “Little House on the Prairie”, “Happy Days”, Wonder Woman & Isis, or Barbies. Our days would end in a fight or tears or both…yet the next day we’d start all over again, ad infinitum. Our mothers would roll their eyes.

I was terrified of her terrier and her older sister. She was terrified of her older sister, for that matter. At some point her sister warmed up to me and started to call me her “little sister” too. That felt really nice, to think I had won her over.

Somewhere around 5th grade Steph and I grew apart. I had become best friends with another girl in our class. Actually the three of us were known as the Three Muskateers…we lived in the same neighborhood and hung out together but at any given time any two of us got along better than all three simultaneously.

This was around the same time Stephanie was allowed to go roller skating and hang out with boys on Friday nights at St. Joseph’s Catholic School gymnasium around the bend on Route 40 from our neighborhood. Skating and boys during junior high were strictly disallowed in my house.

This is when she started styling her hair while I hadn’t even figured out how to comb mine consistently. She always had the best clothes. I felt a little jealous about that. Ok, maybe a lot jealous. I had polyester hand-me-downs that were any where from 5-15 years out of style.

You see, Steph and I attended grade school in the 70s. Girls wore blue jeans every day in the 70s, but not me. I was stuck wearing dresses with bobby socks, in the 70s. My mom was 45 years older than me and routinely argued that poor people wore blue jeans in the Depression when they didn’t have two nickels to their name. We didn’t have money for things like clothes as it was, but for sure there was no way she was going to dress me in jeans no matter how much styles had evolved since the Depression. It was brutal.

Finally my mom broke down and bought me my first pair of jeans in the 5th grade. I had one pair, and only one, with red satin bands embroidered on the back pockets. Man, I was so proud of those pants. I wore them weekly until they were at least three inches too short for me.

Stephanie clued me in that the kids at school made fun of how I dressed, at how severe my “floods” were. It hurt like crazy to hear it but I appreciated the honesty so I could figure out a way to manage it in the years to come. I still have hang-ups when it comes to clothes.

In 6th grade, I finally learned to ride a bike so we’d tool around our hamlet of Lansing on our ten-speeds. Once we rode to an abandoned construction site of sorts a couple of blocks from our home. I don’t remember why this field was torn up like it was but a giant pond had formed. We took a bunch of boards and rocks that were laying around and tried to build a bridge across it. Engineers we were not. As we tried to cross the pond, one of the boards flipped and we both fell onto our bottoms into this mucky water, LOADED with tadpoles. Neither of us were really outdoor kids. It was the grossest thing EVER to fall into the Tadpole Hole but we howled about it all the time afterwards. I’ll never forget walking stiff-legged out of that pond, just imagining where we might find tadpoles. Ewww…

By the time high school started, our friendship really blossomed again. One of the days I walked across the alley to the elementary school to catch the bus to the high school. She met me half-way across the alley, with crazy eyes, a distraught look on her face, and her hand thrust before me. I remember thinking it was really strange for her to walk toward my house when the bus stop was across the street from her own house, but then she directed me to look at what was missing: the class ring from her long-time boyfriend no longer on her finger. They had broken up and she was devastated. I remember feeling so badly for her…but I can’t remember if I hugged or tried to console her. Some memories are missing. I can only hope I was a good friend to her in return.

We used to laugh about how her mom would critique her hair, makeup, and clothing for the day before she was excused to leave for school. She called it The Twirl. She had to “twirl” in front of her mom so she could take in the whole ensemble. Her mom was tough on her but it was clear her mother loved her. Over time I grew not so much jealous of their relationship, but certainly wistful. Steph had something with her mom that I never had with mine.

In contrast, she always thought my mom critiqued my grades but I had to explain that my parents didn’t pay a lick of attention to my grades unless they weren’t “As” in which case I would get an earful, like the time my dad berated me for getting a B in art. I made sure crap like that never happened.

Still my mom got a kick out of Stephanie. Steph still recites my mom’s favorite line when she was in a good mood: “Dig, dig, dig….” and we laugh.

Her mom Carol liked me, it seemed, and liked her in return. I remember being blown away by this beautiful portrait of her mom in her late 1950s/early 1960s wedding gown that hung in their living room.  I had never really seen a portrait of a bride before, in anyone’s home, so this was unusual, and she was breath-taking.

At some point Steph got a car and then drove us both to school for class. It was awesome. She gave her car a name which I have forgotten…and that’s why I named Roxanne and most of my cars to this day.

Senior year I was named to our homecoming court. Right after school that day, Steph showed up at my house with some other friends to honor me and bring me flowers. I have never forgotten that kindness. It could have been incredibly easy for friends to abandon me – and some did over the years – but she never did.

In the mid-80s, we graduated from high school, and before you knew it, Steph was engaged to be married to a guy that wormed his way into her life. She felt compelled to marry him not because she was in love with him but because he just showed up at her house every single day to visit with her mom, whether or not she was there. He didn’t give her any space to be anywhere but with him.

She asked me to be in her wedding party and I gladly accepted. What did we know? We thought maybe this was how grown up relationships worked. Can you imagine?

I remember coming along to see her getting fitted in her wedding gown and I burst into tears on the spot, seeing a childhood friend all dressed in white.

About a month before the wedding, Stephanie called me in tears to say she was calling it off. She had the guts to admit she didn’t love him but felt coerced by her fiancé into a marriage she never wanted. She was afraid I would be disappointed in her. I couldn’t believe she was worried about me being disappointed. I wasn’t upset. Instead I was incredibly proud of her for being strong and knowing what was right for her. The strength that took! She found it in herself to speak her truth. So incredibly brave of her.

She and I went on vacation to Florida together within the year, visiting Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Disney. It was awesome to hang, just the two of us as adult women. And when we landed in the Columbus airport after the end of this trip, her then new boyfriend, now husband, was slated to pick her up. It was the first time I met him.

She and I lost touch shortly after this. They married in a quiet ceremony on New Year’s Day at some point.  Who knows where I was then…in Columbus, traveling like crazy for work? Maybe I had moved to Pittsburgh by then. Hard to say. Distance and work demands got in the way.

I remember arriving for our 10-year high school class reunion, and as I walked in the door, she was the one to grab me in the biggest bear hug, the most thrilled to see me. Honestly, hugs from Stephanie are my homecoming. I can always count on a bear hug from her. Her love and kindness are genuine.

So much has changed from the time we grew up. We both moved far away from little Lansing. They closed our elementary school, tore down our old high school, and replaced it with a new one in an entirely different location. My mother died, too young. Her sister became ill. Her father passed away far too young himself, shortly after my mom. She moved to Indiana with her husband, and her mother soon followed after selling her family and grandmother’s houses. They moved her sister out to Indiana too, so they could all be together. Her mom eventually remarried. My father died 11 years after my mom. We sold our family home to a family member 20 years ago and I haven’t stepped inside since.

I almost never visit Lansing now. Our little neighborhood isn’t the same, especially since our beautiful little houses have lost the pride and love that cared for them and the people inside. The corner candy and ice cream store we used to visit is torn down. The Tadpole Hole is long gone. Nearly every single thing that was my home and my memories of growing up, are, in a sense, completely destroyed. I almost feel like an Ohio Valley refugee, still wandering and trying to find a home 30 years later except I no longer have a physical home to go back to.

But Stephanie? Steph is home to me. And this is where my memory fails me….kinda like that Maya Angelou quote. I often forget what people say or do – shoot, I often forget what I say and do – but I never forget how someone makes me feel. Stephanie and her hugs – her warmth – is home personified no matter where we are when I see her.

So I drove six hours to witness the vows her gorgeous daughter made beside the love of her life. I took pictures, not so much of the bride and groom but of my beautiful, lifelong friend who was radiant. She has maintained a fantastic relationship with her own mother 30 years longer than I ever got with mine, and for 20-25 of those years, she has fostered the same kind of love and devotion with her own beautiful daughter. She clearly adores her daughter and it’s mutual. I got to witness this family and generations of this love pour forth as Buppa (grandma) Carol proudly walked down the aisle, followed by elegant daughter Stephanie, and then finally by their equally lovely granddaughter Cadie. And while this was happening, I blew silent kisses to Steph’s grandma Mary in heaven as she too had to be bubbling over to witness the beauty of the day, this long line of incredible women.

43274533_10216882941967198_2431152004379181056_nYes, there I was, taking pictures of my beautiful friend, who had the kind of joy beaming from her face that I can only hope other parents experience when they see their precious children get married to the love of their life. I watched Stephanie Jo in a quiet joy of my own, gripping the arm of her handsome husband, a good man who is her equal, watching her face smile as it changed through several stages of emotion with elegance and poise, and then finally resting her head on her husband’s strong shoulder knowing their work in raising their daughter, into the confident woman she is today, was done. With overwhelming happiness and content, they witnessed their handsome new son-in-law walk arm in arm with his gorgeous bride on a sunny, warm, October afternoon, taking their first few steps as husband and wife.

That is a happy memory I will carry in my heart forever.

She and I danced a polka at the reception. I meant to tell her I discovered after all these years that I am technically half-Polish to her 100% Polish. Maybe we are related after all! Yes, we did the polka, not the easy, cheating way where you dance side by side one another but the kind where you dance as a couple and swing around. Then I dragged my own daughter out to the dance floor and the two of us old friends tried to snap her out of her pre-teen moodiness with Uptown Funk dance moves. My daughter was close to pulling a muscle with her eye rolls. She almost started laughing at us but the pre-teen attitude within her was too strong. Her arms stayed crossed, and she issued the standard, “Moooooooom….” that comes out in two syllables, not one.

Stephanie cupped my daughter’s face in her hands more than a few times and planted a couple of kisses on her cheek. My girl didn’t know what to make of it. I tried and tried and tried to explain to her who this cherished friend was to me, but I don’t think it really sunk in. I told her that when she marries, hopefully no less than twelve years from now, Stephanie and her husband are invited. Who knows if they’ll be able to come? Who really knows what the future holds? It’s nice to imagine it, though.

Time passes so incredibly fast and simultaneously slow, but in the span of a single day, I lived almost all 50 of my years over again, remarking over a friendship that has endured all this time despite the distance of many miles and the challenges of raising kids in wholly different generations from each other. She still loves me, despite the crazy, often annoying political stance I’ve recently taken that’s very different from her own. She still loves me even though we don’t get to talk or see one another that often. She still loves me, despite our daily cat fights over Barbies and baby dolls once upon a time.

And I still love her. I always will. She is my warmest reminder of home. She is my homecoming.

Kavanaugh Chaos

rawpixel-1055781-unsplashNo way can I stay silent about a major cultural moment in our country, the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

His nomination was high stakes from the start. Trump chose a candidate that is likely to swing hard right, and could possibly serve to reverse Roe v Wade. In doing so Trump threw a bone to an Evangelical base hungry for reversal. Yes, the president has the authority and privilege to nominate a candidate of his choosing. However I admit I am skeptical of anything our Misogynist-in-Chief proposes.

It’s not that I’m a big fan of abortion. I’m not. I could never avail myself of that option. But I’ve seen enough abuse and control of women to know that the government has no role dictating what ought to happen to a woman’s body.

And bear with me here, it seems that Kavanaugh is no fan of women’s rights on the bench or off.

Republican senators had a game plan to slam this confirmation process through as quickly as possible. Their games included withholding significant reams of historical and background paperwork on Kavanaugh, and waiting until the eve of the confirmation hearings to release them, preventing their Senate peers from adequately preparing for the Q&A session. It was particularly ingenious of Republicans to be in position to say they provided full information on the candidate, even if it meant failing to provide adequate time to digest it.

And let’s not forget an early warning sign into the character of Brett Kavanaugh: Fred Guttenberg, father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victim Jamie Gutenberg, extended his hand to Kavanaugh in introduction at a lunch break during the hearings and upon hearing the man’s name, the judge turned his back to him without shaking his hand in return. The Republican public relations people brushed it off, claiming an “unidentified man” approached Kavanaugh, but you can clearly see on tape that Guttenberg introduces himself to the judge who then deliberately snubs the victim’s father. I haven’t forgotten this. Have you?

I try hard to give people the benefit of the doubt, I do, even if I don’t like them. I have professional experience judging actions and character. I worked many years as an auditor. My job involved gathering facts and sometimes investigating people accused of wrong-doing, to ultimately support an opinion one way or another. When facts point to something unusual or out of the ordinary, you dig further until you come to a fair conclusion. And if you don’t gather enough solid evidence to form a conclusion one way or another, you say so. In other words, I’m not a novice when it comes to judging people and situations. I have a couple of decades of experience under my belt.

That said, I support a real FBI investigation in light of these accusations. We should have had it going into Thursday’s hearing. And by this, I mean an FBI investigation that is reasonable and not limited or narrow in scope. The American people deserve due diligence in this matter.

I’m not really a political person either, but I can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on in our country. My interest level in all things politics really heated up in the summer of 2016 and has been on high alert ever since. So given the crazy political climate we find ourselves in, I have been more keenly interested in this Supreme Court nominee than any in prior history. Frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As if it couldn’t happen – and I suspect we should get used to this – the crazy got dialed up not just a notch to full effect in this nomination process.

We all learned that Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Senator Dianne Feinstein was first provided this information since it was directly relevant to the nominee. She released this information after the confirmation hearings but before the vote.

Sure, the timing seemed designed for maximum negative impact. At first Ford wanted to remain anonymous but within the week she agreed to be revealed. Then she agreed to testify. Arguments and threats flew about whether she would, when she would, and the circumstances under which she would.

Finally she spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Thursday. We learned she was a doctor, a professor of psychology no less. I missed part of her testimony but heard snippets as I drove the two hours home from a conference. I heard Kavanaugh’s appearance on the radio live. Once I got home, I watched huge parts of the interviews of both.

I found Dr. Ford to be credible. She clearly would have preferred to remain anonymous but she had the courage to testify in front of those senators on a world stage. It’s plausible for her to remember the bits and pieces she did and not other parts. She remained cordial throughout the entire process. Her life and that of her family has been turned upside down because she chose to share what she knew. She didn’t have to come forward but she did. Despite endless flack from people regarding her motives, it doesn’t appear to me that she was there for political gain nor do I consider her anyone’s pawn. I have sympathy for her pain. Bottom line, she was there because our senators are about to give lifetime judicial authority to a man who may not respect women’s rights on and off the bench, and it is important they know that.

You can criticize Senator Feinstein all you want for releasing this information in the first place, not to mention the timing of it. Sadly what comes around goes around. Republican senators have not been forthright and honorable in this process either. You play dirty politics, you get them in return.

In contrast, Kavanaugh’s performance on Thursday thoroughly surprised me. I can understand anger on his part, but to come out swinging wildly that this whole thing was orchestrated to smear him in revenge for the Clintons was the most surprising comment I could imagine him making. Here he is, nominated to serve as an impartial judge for the highest court in the land, and he readily played a partisan hand. Does he not understand he is still interviewing for the job?

All accusations aside, how on earth can this guy be expected to remain impartial at this point? He lost all credibility in that regard with his opening statement. No one coerced him into saying it. He volunteered this information.

And I agree with several others – had he been a woman who behaved that same way? They would have called him hysterical. Unhinged. And frankly, he was. But no one calls him that because he’s a man, subject to “understandable” pressure.

The double standard in our society is ridiculous.

He vehemently defended his innocence again and again. However, it seems Brett Kavanaugh had – and maybe still has – a drinking problem so severe that he has experienced memory loss. I suspect he has blacked out more than once and doesn’t remember what he did. I also think Brett Kavanaugh has a drinking problem so severe, he doesn’t realize how bad it actually is because so many in his social circle behave the same way.  Perhaps his friend and admitted alcoholic Mark Judge is the only one who cops to the problem. People who knew him at Yale are coming out to say he had a drinking problem and engaged in lewd behavior. True there are those who argue in favor of him.

I think America has a drinking problem it doesn’t want to admit.

The stories I heard of Kavanaugh’s high school and college life ring completely familiar to me. I was surrounded by binge drinkers.

For example, there are a couple of big dances each year in high school. Yes, this was over thirty years ago for me. I attended one of those senior dances with a friend who was also a classmate. There was an after party, and I had to drive my date’s car home afterward because he had passed out from too much drinking. It was his sister’s car and I was uncomfortable with driving her car the 1.5 hours home given the situation, but because I didn’t drink, it was the only option. I was the defacto designated driver. I’m certain my date doesn’t remember how he got home that day. I am certain it never even crosses his mind, whereas me driving home with him passed out on my shoulder was one of the only things I remember about the whole weekend.

Whether it was high school or college, there was no escaping the underage and binge drinking. I didn’t drink but pretty much every one of my classmates did…there was no getting around it. So while I could give a pass to those who did – because who on earth could I count as a friend if I shunned everyone who drank? – what I couldn’t tolerate was anyone who drank to the point where they no longer have control over what they’re doing. No good comes of that, ever.

And it’s not to say that I never drank. Once I graduated from college, had a job, and finally had money to go out (the latter being key), I did. And surprising to me, my work colleagues were even bigger binge drinkers than anyone I met in high school or college.

However never once did I black out or pass out and fail to remember the night before. But boy did I know people who did. I generally tried to avoid them. Again, no good comes of that, ever.

So back we are with this Brett Kavanaugh situation. Dr. Ford seemed completely credible in her testimony. Sure, it’s easy to forget some details and not others 30+ years later. Sure, Kavanaugh was vehement in his denial of committing sexual assault. I think he really believes that. But when questioned whether he ever blacked out from drinking too much, he evaded the question. He evaded a lot of direct questions. He even had the audacity to turn Senator Amy Klobuchar’s question around on her, and asked her whether she had ever blacked out from drinking! That was another completely stunning moment to me. If he didn’t build his own coffin with his opening statement, I thought that was the final nail.

His belligerent behavior in the interview chair, his insistence on answering questions with redirected facts to make him seem like a choirboy, his unhinged accusation in his opening statement, and his refusal to answer direct questions about his drinking all point to someone who is crafty, evading the truth, if not outright lying.

Do we have enough information to convict him of a crime? No. But do we have enough to turn him down for the job? Yes. He is not entitled to the job by virtue of being nominated. Ask Merrick Garland. Kavanaugh’s behavior Thursday was completely undignified. I can’t believe we would seriously consider him for a position on the Supreme Court at this juncture. I truly wonder whether our senators have a sense of decency and honor to latch onto in times like these.

Yes, I am going to bet that Kavanaugh has a bigger drinking problem than he realizes or is willing to admit, and he is capable of assault but doesn’t remember it because of the number of times his drinking was out of control and he blacked out. Whatever FBI investigation takes place needs full reign and time to go there and explore these possibilities.

This is a job interview for the highest court in the land. I personally believe there is enough troubling information about Kavanaugh to pass on him now. And for Senator Lindsey Graham to complain that this confirmation process is the most unethical thing he’s ever seen? I would remind him that Justice Merrick Garland wasn’t even given the courtesy of a review. That is unethical. 

Mostly I am extremely disappointed that our government has become the three-ring circus it has but we can expect no better from the Clown-in Chief contaminating the Oval Office. You reap what you sow.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

National Daughter’s Day?

Facebook tells me that today, September 25, is National Daughter’s Day.

And my first reaction was, “Wait – this is a thing? Or is this just a Facebook holiday, kinda like a Hallmark holiday, but completely viral and fake?”

I hate being duped – HATE IT – so of course, I had to look into it so I wouldn’t fall victim to a completely fake guilt trip, the kind where I feel compelled to pour online praise over the existence my one and only precious daughter.

She is pretty awesome, by the way. I am in awe of her confidence, grace, poise, and smarts at age 10. I’m virtually certain I still had to be coached to comb my hair at her age. It might even be fair to say she’s more put together at 10 than I was at 20. But I digress…

Turns out National Daughter’s Day is legitimate. According to the Times of India, there’s actually a holiday designed to commemorate daughters because of cultural stigmas associated with having a daughter instead of a son. Apparently it’s celebrated on the 4th Sunday of September, so I’m off by a couple of days but still.

This whole thing buzzes the bee in my feminist bonnet. I work hard to respect cultural and religious differences but there comes a point where I draw the line. This myth that somehow women and girls are inferior to men and boys is one of the places where I draw it.

Really? It takes men and women to perpetuate the human species. One isn’t more important than the other. We are separate but equal. That’s what feminism is all about, and I’m a proud feminist. My husband is too. He gets it and we’re raising our boys with this in mind.

It makes me incredibly sad that it’s 2018 and there are still places in the world that need to call attention to this. But who am I kidding? It’s 2018 and America has a #metoo movement going on and a national outcry over a Supreme Court nominee who allegedly assaulted a teenage girl when he himself was a teen because, well, he could.

Don’t get me started on the president, either. That would be its own essay. A book, even.

A few years ago I had a new employee, a young woman, on my work team. She was a first generation American who grew up in northeast Ohio in what sounded like a very traditional, patriarchal home. I remember the first day we had snowfall for the winter marcio-marim-660968-unsplashseason and she called me to say she couldn’t make it into work. She was 22 and apparently she hadn’t really ever driven in the snow.

I found that tough to believe but there she was, pleading with me or quite possibly testing me. It was hard to know which, to be honest.

Maybe you don’t know northeast Ohio but it snows here. We’re not too far from Lake Erie, so it can snow a lot. And yet there she was, 22, with a professional job, calling me to explain she couldn’t come to work when nearly 3000-4000 other employees were already on-site.

I had to explain expectations that the first normal snowfall of the year was not a legitimate reason to skip work. I wondered why in the world her family hadn’t already explained something like this to her. Was she messing with me or was she coddled? Was she taught to fend for herself or did she need to be rescued? I tried hard not to think about how her situation presented itself to me, her supervisor, but I couldn’t help but wonder – I mean, jaw agog – how she got to be 22 and relatively helpless.

God help me if I raise my daughter that same way. I mean, at least this young lady was valued and not abandoned by her family. And isn’t that what National Daughter’s Day is trying to reverse? Years of cultural shame and stigma for having a girl?

j-w-675134-unsplashStill, it makes me wonder what good can I do in my little corner of the world when it comes to recognizing the value of the young girls we raise into women. I don’t know that I have all the answers here but we will continue to raise our precious daughter to pursue her education and interests, take full care and responsibility for herself, and to recognize the people and situations that stack the cards for and against her because, of course, that will happen.

The difference is, we’ll be in her corner the entire time, with every step she takes. We will help her thrive.

I wish that for every daughter in the world.


Photo credits, in order of appearance: Marcio Marim and j-w on Unsplash.

CrossFit Journal of a Fitness Flunkie

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion since I started CrossFit July 30 of this year, 8 weeks ago. This self-proclaimed Fitness Flunkie is on her way to becoming…wait for it….a Fitness Phenom!

If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve written a couple of posts about the experience so far – right before my first class (Gym Class Jitters), and then again after the very first week (CrossFit New You Review). But neither of those entries really give you a feel for what the journey has been like so far. My Facebook friends know, though.

Yeah, yeah….I know it’s only been eight weeks. Let me take you along for the ride, courtesy of some posts I made at the time.


July 30 – Day 1 Under my belt. Please send love and support as I sure as heck need it.

PS – CLEARLY this pic was taken before I did anything, given the complete and total absence of sweat. You know my face would glisten within seconds of hearing the word “burpee”.

August 1 – Day 2 of CrossFit New You Challenge and guess what I discovered? I got this!

August 3 – Day 3, and can I tell you I’m loving CrossFit so far? Got my freak on today with burpees, DASL style (those would be my initials which serendipitously spell “dazzle”) , which, for the uninitiated, isn’t anything all that dazzling but it works for me for now!

Michelle is a total bad a$$ coach, teammate Jessica is a goddess, and this chick right here is a freaking queen for getting through it and Week 1.

I got this.

August 13 – Started Week 3, aka Day 7 of 18, in the CrossFit New You Challenge. Practiced our first Olympic lift today, the Hang Power Clean. My cousin was right about the steep (whoa is it steep!) learning curve but as a group we did pretty good tonight. I gotta work on the hip thrust and the “scarecrow” position which requires a bit more strength from the deltoids than I have but I’m completely envious of my coach’s arms so …. #goals. Worked with a 35# bar which was respectable!

I can’t believe how much fun I’m having. Now I laugh that I once thought this was so radical. It’s actually empowering. I feel strong and it feels like I’m getting stronger each day.

Lost 4.5 pounds in two weeks too. That might be because I’m actually tracking calories and trying to target a certain number. I am usually 200 over every day but clearly it must be less than I had been taking in when I didn’t track at all. So…. #bonus.

Drinking tons more water too. Not quite at my target level but easily doubled or tripled what I had been drinking before.

I ❤️ us: my New You Challenge teammates and coach. CrossFit is easily one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

August 15 – Hear ye, hear ye: I hereby declare August 15 “Bada$$ Beast Mode Day” since I killed it morning, afternoon and night.

Ok, normally I don’t go on about this kinda stuff, but today was flat-out awesome and I just have to share!

Morning: presented to our board of directors on our enterprise risk management program which I run. Killed it. Had our VP of strategy tell me that I exuded fantastic executive presence and confidence, in full command of my subject material and at complete ease answering their questions. Flying high after the whole thing was done. 

Afternoon: prepared a presentation for my coworkers intended to be education and my analysis of 60 privacy laws that we are subject to and my recommendation for how we improve our privacy program and consumer marketing as a result of that analysis, all the while protecting the constituents who count on us to do so. Killed it.

Night: today at CrossFit Day #8, I dead lifted 75 pounds roughly 30 times, jumped rope 160 times, ran 400m, and did some bicep/tricep work…forget what they’re called but I was spent when it was done. Another half pound gone. Better than three weeks ago when I wished I was doing something like this, bettering myself and getting stronger. Killed it.

Beast mode. August 15. Carry on.

August 20 – CrossFit Day 10: today was a tough one for me mentally. We didn’t do an enormous amount of cardio but enough. Man, I hate cardio. My lungs feel like they’re no bigger than a zip-lock snack bag. Why is that? Why has it ALWAYS been like that for me? Will it ever improve? Seems like the answer is a flat no.

We did some weight lifting which was challenging but fun. At least I felt like I could do it. I can feel the muscles in my arms getting stronger.

Not gonna lie: today was the first day in three weeks I didn’t want to go. I’m feeling demoralized about it getting harder. And tell me how one day of eating birthday cake magically added five pounds back on my frame overnight? That ticks me off.

Still, I went. And I got through it. We all did. Here’s to another day.

August 24 – I just finished Week 4 of 6 in the CrossFit New You Challenge. 12 workouts in, at this point. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I never once considered myself an athlete. I am the furthest thing from it. Kinda like how I’m a creative soul trapped inside of an accountant by education…I have capabilities that go unused on a daily basis.

maria-fernanda-gonzalez-461523-unsplashOne of the most surprising things is how I’ve been remarkably upbeat about attending class. There were two days out of the last four weeks I just didn’t want to do this. Not that bad! I’m basically starting from ground zero but to have only two down days this entire time? Put a notch in the win column.

August 29 – You guys: today was pretty challenging. I don’t even remember my workout time. 32 minutes and some odd seconds? Whatever.

At some point toward the end of the burpees, I started to tear up for the first time in this whole challenge, five+ weeks in. 

Coach Michelle was concerned that I wanted to quit, but that wasn’t it. It was more me thinking about how I WANT THIS SO BAD. I want to be fit and strong and flexible. No more excuses. No more “window shopping wishes”.

It’s so hard right now when your body fights everything you ask of it, but at least I can do it. At least I’m healthy and able enough to give this a go. I finished every bit of this workout today.

Ok, so I modified the box jumps. Sure, my bar work isn’t 100% to form, what with my tiny little hands trying to hold all this body weight upright, but I did it.

#dirty30 #goals #newyouchallenge

September 6 – If you had told 10 yo me that 51 yo me would not only hang from a bar AND pay money to do it, she wouldn’t have believed you. She might have cried.

If you had told 21 yo me that it was a chin-up bar and not one that serves beer, she wouldn’t believe it either. But instead of crying, she’d cheer!

September 10 – 😔 You guys… As you know I’ve been hitting the gym for 6 weeks now. I can tell I’m making progress but I don’t SEE it yet and it’s getting me down. Yes, I know it’s only six weeks. Yes, I know it took nearly 20 years of high stress to put it on as I had no outlet for dealing with endless life changes. Yes, I know I have tons of support on this journey, but I’m feeling so crappy right now.

I’m crazy anxious to see progress, a lot of progress, because um, gym photos of me are not the most flattering thing ever and it looks like those will be posted on a fairly routine basis. 😳 Sure, I could untag myself but you guys see me looking like this every day so what’s the point of that?

Really, I monumentally struggle with my looks when I try to clean up and look nice, but to be all red-faced, sweaty, saggy, and uh….LARGE is not fun. I’m embarrassed by my size. I am really embarrassed. I am trying to channel that anger and embarrassment and disappointment in myself into motivation to change. I just don’t know if I can really pull this off, ya know?

What’s needed is a lifetime of sustained effort, and that’s hard to imagine. I’ve never done this before other than a crash diet thing 20 years ago which was not healthy. And the funny thing is I looked fine back then. Being too fat was simply something one of my many bad boyfriends made me feel at the time, but it’s something I’ve carried with me ever since. Kinda like a dagger stuck in my heart…

This is so hard, and I’m so discouraged, but maybe facing this head on with full transparency is what will help. I don’t know. Just feeling pretty weepy right about now.

But, I’m not quitting… I will not quit! That thought hasn’t crossed my mind, at any point so far. I don’t think it will. I don’t think the past six weeks were a total loss, and I know miracles don’t happen in that short of a period of time. Just uuuugh. I want to fast forward a few weeks, or reverse several years.


I am trying my darnedest to apply the determination that I easily apply to every other part of my life to this.

51 is a tough age. It isn’t going to get easier. Hormones are gonna start wrecking things for me pretty soon (TMI? LOL) It drives me crazy when people complain about how old they are or feel. I don’t ever want to complain about that. I am just grateful I am relatively healthy and can do this. I’m determined to do this even though I’ve never been an athlete.

I truly didn’t expect miracles in just six weeks. Logically I know I’m in a pretty good place. Emotionally? Well…yeah. How I wish I had done this a few years ago but that just wouldn’t have been possible. My kids are relatively self-sufficient only now. This is what I get for having two of my three kids in my 40s…not exactly the plan early on in life but they are my world, and I will do everything in my power to be here when they are young adults.

I love the my gym family. They are a huge blessing at a time when I really need it because it is so hard to be a cheerleader for me! I am wracked with self-doubt, all the time. I don’t have these conversations like that with anyone but my husband, and then he tries to cheer me up but I completely ignore every word he says. For a brief moment years ago, I had my act together, and then it all came apart and I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since. I hate surviving. Thriving is where I like to live but it’s been a long, long time since I knew that feeling. I don’t even remember the number of times I have admitted, “It all comes down to diet and exercise…The answer to *everything*: diet and exercise.” Countless conversations like that! Get the diet and exercise right for the body and suddenly the other things mind and soul will fall into place too. I’ve been trying to slam the “soul” puzzle piece into a place where it just doesn’t fit. And the mind piece of the puzzle? Well, I’ve lost that one. Lol

I do know my insides are thanking me. It kills me: I totally know the intellectual side of the argument for working out but vanity is talking and taking over at the moment.

And to think I have a daughter! I am trying to be a good role model for her. Then again, she’s a bit of a role model for me with her dancing… And I know this whole thing is far more about health versus looks but dang it, I want to look and feel good about myself again.

CrossFit will be a tougher haul when it comes to weight loss, but I am on this journey for health, flexibility, and strength reasons too. The social aspects of CrossFit are a HUGE bonus I didn’t expect at all. I thought it was a decent possibility at this particular gym (it sure looked like people loved it) but it’s over the top awesome.

I do feel good about my ability to stick with it this time…I just need to get over an immediate hump. The first photo where I don’t look like I have for years will be an incredible win. Then again, two people at work said something to me this week, so apparently I’m finally moving the needle.

Nevertheless, my “why” is bigger than physical look alone. I’m impressed with friends who have made changes of their own, taking charge and going after EXACTLY what they want and getting it. They are such a huge inspiration and I thank them for sharing their victories along the way.

No way am I giving up. I’m very fortunate to be relatively healthy such that I can pull this off. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am, even as I think about people I know dealing with cancer or diabetes diagnoses and other very serious health issues.

I am proud I gave this a go as it was THE most radical thing I could think of. Can’t play it safe any longer. Life is too short for that. And yes, I’m getting a lot of “shocked and awed” responses when I mention I started CrossFit. It is pretty radical but it’s also way more doable that I ever imagined. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can.

I do feel different, and I’ve had a few of the most crazy productive days at work over the last month..tackling stuff that is intricate – complex – and I feel like I’m killing it. It’s been a long time since I felt that way professionally, so I take that as a NSV (non-scale victory).

I try hard not to compare myself with others. I’m a pretty different kinda chick so that isn’t a meaningful comparison, for starters. I have adhered to the belief that I compete with no one but myself, which is why living the way I have up until this has been particularly tough for me. I was better than my current physical condition many yesterdays ago.

September 24 – Today marks eight weeks I’ve been giving this a go. And you know what? The workouts are starting to get easier. I can’t believe it. I threw more weight on the barbell and I don’t think it was enough. I was almost able to get full depth in my back squat! Wha????  

That’s CRAZY. All this in eight, short weeks? While I still can’t do a full-fledged pull-up, I can mimic the motion and I can do 15 at a time with a small break in between. It doesn’t kill my hands either. Am I actually getting stronger? This is absolutely crazy.

I love it. I’m down almost 10 pounds and people at church who only see me once a week are starting to comment on my progress. I appreciate the outpouring of encouragement. And I can’t wait to go back.

bruno-nascimento-149663-unsplashIt’s almost to the point where three days a week isn’t enough for me. I can’t wait for 6am Wednesday morning for my next class.

Wha???? Did I say that? I’m not even a morning person.

#bonus #onmyway #staytuned


Photo credits: kettlebell – Maria Fernanda Gonzalez and shoes – Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash.com


Dating Advice, aka Love Lessons for My Children

My dating life spanned a whopping 20 years. Not really my preference for it to have bridged an entire generation, but those are the facts. You could make the case that I’d learned a thing or two over the years. Or given the length of it, you could just as easily say I didn’t.

First a little context: I came of age in the mid-80s, a time when the bulk of my peers did their best to postpone adulthood into their late 20s or even their early 30s. Even still, some really great people I know successfully married at a relatively younger age, leaving it to the rest of us to sort maniacally through the pool of remaining available people.

It was fun for a few years, sure. And then it got depressing, fast. Around Year 17, I got used to the idea of being by myself forever. Sure, a companion throughout life would be awesome and having a family was a dream that eluded me, but marrying the wrong guy was not the answer.

Now these many years later, I am married and watching my young kids grow up. They are still at home and not yet in the dating scene, but the oldest is now older than I was when I first fell in love. It seems time for me to collect my thoughts about this subject.

Believe me, I’ve definitely had more than a few facepalm situations with guys over the years but luckily for me I’ve never been a victim of domestic violence. I’ve never been divorced either, nor do I intend to be. But what follows here is not marriage advice. Oh no! I’m not ready to go there yet.

Nope, for now all I’ve got is some dating advice. Maybe it’s a little on the heavy side. Then again, if it was all sunshine and rainbows, it might not have been a 20-year venture! lol So yes, everything I write about below I’ve learned the hard way, and this is what I jotted down over the span of one evening. I’m sure I will add to it over time, too.

To keep things simple, I’ve written it for my daughter but the advice just as easily applies to my sons. And while I often size up a date/boyfriend/love interest, it’s just as easy to flip this advice around and use it to examine one’s own behavior.

tyler-nix-525388-unsplashSo kids? Listen to your mother as follows, in no particular order.

  1. Love, the kind of love that I wish for you, is a verb that transcends all time and place. You will learn this over a significant length of time. It won’t be the first date. It won’t be the 100th. I don’t know when you will discover it, but I hope you do. And when you do, it’s that kind of love that should propel you into marriage.
  2. Love isn’t a 50/50 proposition because nobody knows where the 50 yard line is in the game of life. It moves all the time because your needs and his forever change. Give because you want to. Give because you love him. Give in a way that doesn’t keep score but on the flip side, don’t go broke or be a doormat in the name of love because that’s not love. That’s desperation.
  3. Love most certainly can be a one-way street, and you will find out that’s true when you get your heart broken. It will hurt like hell. But the best kind of love flows like a current between you both. You’ll be able to feel that and will know it’s right.
  4. Learn to love yourself. Very easy to say but perhaps a little harder to do. Nevertheless, know your worth and hold your head high for as long as it takes. I hope it doesn’t take 20 years for you to figure this out on your own but you never know. You may come to doubt yourself over and over again, but don’t think there is something inherently wrong with you. Sure, we all have things to learn and there are ways we can and should grow, and you will. You really don’t need someone else to prove you’re worthy. You simply are. Don’t forget that, ever. You are an amazing, beautiful, wonderful human and you deserve to spend your days with someone just like that in return.
  5. Know what you want out of a date or a relationship. Are you just looking for someone fun or interesting to hang out with on a short-term basis or are you looking for “The One”? Allow this to inform your dating strategy and be up front about your objective with the other person relatively early on. Don’t waste your time with someone who wants the former when you want the latter and don’t feel pressured by someone when it’s vice versa.
  6. Say no as often as you want or need and dump any guy who refuses to respect that the first time you say it.
  7. Figure out what your primary love language is as you will be lonely with someone who doesn’t know how to speak it. If you don’t know what a love language is, read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a quick but eye-opening read. Understand that some guys simply cannot learn a different love language other than the one they speak. If you care about someone, learn to speak his love language to really connect with him on a deeper level.
  8. Get attuned to a person’s vibration or energy level and recognize whether yours resonates or clashes with it. This applies to friendships too. Notice whether you lift each other up or if your dude routinely makes the mood spiral down. Being blue once in a while is normal but avoid negative energy vampires as if they’re contagious, because they are. It’s futile to think you can fix him.
  9. Frantic guys are often dealing with insecurity and need to keep busy or constantly crack jokes to make you laugh to feel good about themselves. Sure, it can appear admirable or even be fun at first, but over the long haul, it’s exhausting. Again, check your energy level when you’re around this guy.
  10. Dull Dan, not his real name, may be a really nice guy but he lives a ho-hum life that will bore you to tears. If you’re so bored on a date with him that you start eating the candy necklace off another guy’s neck, you might want to take that as a clue he’s not the best guy for you.
  11. You should be able to sit together in comfortable silence for any length of time without it getting weird.
  12. Be bold enough to ask out the best looking person in the room. Don’t worry if he turns out turn out to be gay when you’re not. Maybe you didn’t realize there is a thing called “gay-dar” and you need to turn it on and tune it in. Hopefully the first person you ask out isn’t gay, but if he is, don’t let it knock your confidence levels down a notch or two for a few years.
  13. While we’re on the subject, confidence is a magnet. Project it yourself and seek it out in others. Do not mistake arrogance for confidence. And while we’re at it, giddiness and gushing on your part is understandable when you’re very young but it’s a turnoff when you’re no longer a teen. Compose yourself and keep your dignity intact.
  14. Every once in a while you’ll meet someone who refuses to change his haircut or get rid of his old clothes. He doesn’t see the world changing around him while you do. Move on. He’s not for you.
  15. Dump immediately anyone who insults you. He’ll claim he was just joking but he does it to feel better about himself. It’s not your job to make him feel better about himself.
  16. Breaking up can be hard to do but do it as soon as you know, and do it face to face.
  17. Ever hear the term “failure to launch”? There comes a time in every young adult life to get a job, start earning a living, move out on your own, and generally grow up. Don’t devote so much time helping a lazy boyfriend off the launch pad that you start to neglect what you need to do for yourself.
  18. Trust your gut. It is always, always, always right. You won’t be able to put it into words. You feel it in your gut for a reason.
  19. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet someone with eyes and heart enough to peer into your soul, and he genuinely loves what he sees and vice versa, don’t EVER let him go under any circumstances. You’ve met your soulmate.
  20. If the relationship “looks good on paper” or he meets some basic criteria to be an acceptable mate but you struggle to connect on an intimate, emotional level, let it go. You’re not right for each other. Sure as hell, don’t take three years to figure this out.
  21. Dump whomever doesn’t introduce you to his friends or let you come over to this house within the first month. See his home. See how he lives and with whom. If he doesn’t open up, he’s hiding you or he’s hiding a life – or a wife – he doesn’t want you to know about.
  22. Give a new relationship a three-month trial. If it doesn’t have positive momentum by then, move on and be relentless about it. I don’t care how awesome he may seem. If he can’t figure out how smart, amazing, wonderful, and beautiful you are in three months’ time, he won’t ever figure it out. You want different things. He doesn’t really want YOU.
  23. Dump the possessive, jealous guy who tries to physically control your body or emotionally control your life. He will try to dictate who you are friends with, where you work, what you wear, and where you live. Dump him fast and don’t look back. His insecurities bleed into more than his love life.
  24. Notice whether his secretary at work screens every incoming call from you or if he’s given you his number to dial him directly. You deserve direct access after that trial period, baby.
  25. Pay attention to how your date treats everyone and everything: cashiers, waiters, parents, siblings, friends, children, the elderly, strangers, animals, the environment, property, and possessions (his or others). You want someone who demonstrates consistent kindness and care no matter who or what is the object.
  26. Absolutely talk about sex, religion, money, child-raising, and politics. Every single taboo! He’ll have an opinion on the first thing, for sure. But if he has no opinion on the latter, he may not have a brain, a conscience, or a care in the world. You do. Make sure you’re compatible when it comes to these things. Make sure. Do you want to spend your life going to church alone? Whatever you do, do it together. Do you want to find out years later that greed and “every man for himself” rules his heart? If you believe in God and he thinks it’s hocus pocus, it won’t work out in the long run. And be totally aligned on the subject of whether you will have kids before you jump into marriage. Don’t waste time trying to convince him of your point of view if it’s different. There are compatible men out there. It may take you much longer to find one and you may have to move to find him, but invest in one who is.
  27. Guys who strive for high status come from every kind of background, but they’re not looking for a companion. They’re looking for a trophy. You are worth far more than that.
  28. Pay close attention to weird idiosyncrasies like the fact that he never, ever takes his socks off, constantly slurs his words, shuffles his feet, sprawls and slumps over whenever he sits a chair, doesn’t know how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand upon greeting them, or cannot put his phone down or turn it off, even for a moment. Do you really want to deal with this forever? If it bugs you now, it will bug you always. You can’t fix him. You have to decide whether you can live with it. So if it bugs you now, believe me, you can’t handle living with it.
  29. Understand your own growth game and his. Are you content with life as-is or do you continue to learn and grow at a high pace? Do you like exposure to new places, people, and things? Then you want to be with someone whose growth potential is as high as yours or you may find that you will leave them behind. It’s ok if your growth potential isn’t on hyperdrive, but you want to find someone whose pace matches yours or else you’ll eventually be emotionally, socially, spiritually, or intellectually misaligned.
  30. Dating will introduce you to new things you find you enjoy. However, don’t twist yourself into a knot becoming a brand new person in an effort to be likable. Discover new things and keep doing them because you love it, not because you love him or want him to love you.
  31. Beware the guy who lavishes you with expensive gifts as he thinks you can be bought. He doesn’t care about your soul.
  32. Beware the guy who heaps praise on you, especially early on. He doesn’t know you yet. It’s called flattery, and when he discovers you actually have substance, he’ll go silent and run, because he has none to offer in return.
  33. Beware the guy who gets pissed off when he finds out you make more than he does. He’ll feel threatened and he’ll be pretty angry about it. In reality, he should be happy for you and applaud your success, but if he can’t, he’ll NEVER get over it.
  34. Notice what it takes for him to lose his cool and how bad it gets. You really don’t know a guy until you’ve seen him angry.
  35. When the time is right, go on a trip together. Believe me, you see a whole new side to a person when you’re with them for 24 hours straight. Make sure you enjoy that person because 24 hours is nothing compared to a lifetime.
  36. Honestly ask yourself whether you like his friends. If they all seem like a bunch of jerks, it’s because he fits right in with them when you’re not around. In a similar vein, ask yourself whether you like his family.
  37. If it all starts to go south after three months, dump him. He’s been on his best behavior up until then but he’s reached his limit. His real personality is starting to reveal itself.
  38. Ambition is healthy but there are limits on both ends of the spectrum. What does he want to make of himself? Does he have any goals what is he doing to reach them? Is he willing to sacrifice everything and anything to reach them, including ethics?
  39. Be open-minded about looks, status, education, and age such that you don’t miss the joy of discovering the beauty inherent in all kinds of guys. Be open-minded but know and hold out for whatever really makes your heart sing because the best kind of love fits like a glove.
  40. Avoid the serial playboy. They get their kicks purely from the pursuit. They don’t need a prize. Don’t waste your time or dignity trying to convert them.
  41. Recognize alcoholics and drug addicts and avoid both. Sometimes they are really good at hiding their addiction. You’re not a social worker, unless you ARE a social worker in which case I would tell you to leave work at work.
  42. Avoid at all costs anyone who is overly aggressive, or physically or emotionally abusive. DO NOT GO THERE. You are more precious than he will ever appreciate.
  43. Break up and don’t look back if you fight all of the time. This should be a big, freaking, honking clue!
  44. Don’t waste your youth fixing broken people. Seek to be evenly yoked and help each other soar.
  45. Do not be afraid to go after who you want when you know in your heart it’s the right thing. Don’t be afraid of looking like a fool or disappointing anyone or stepping on someone’s toes. You may get your heart broken big time and you may never fully recover from it but I’m telling you, do not give up your shot at happiness, waiting for the perfect time in the future to tell him how you feel. “If it’s meant to be it will be” is bullshit. Love isn’t just gonna roll before your feet and present itself. You will have to work for it. Sometimes you will have to stick your neck out there and risk it to get what you want. Because if you don’t? You’ll spend years trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time, only to find it can’t be done. Respect marriage vows but everything else up until then is fair game.
  46. Sexual compatibility is a real thing. Sexual intimacy is absolutely sacred and beautiful. Let love be the foundation of a long-term relationship. Please be a full-fledged adult perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, satisfy yourself first with green lights on all the aforementioned dating advice, and by all means protect yourself, but try before you buy. Wait a really long time before you do because all sales are final. There are no returns.
  47. No matter what: you and he get to choose whether you will be a “we”. Only you know who is right for you. Not me, not your dad, not your friends, not his parents, and certainly not exclusively him. Ideally you choose each other, with no rush. The right love is forever.
  48. Jitters are normal. When in doubt, don’t.
  49. Flowers are nice. So are kisses on the forehead. Then again, I’m a sucker for romance.
  50. Despite what I said earlier, be with someone who makes you laugh with ease and vice versa. Levity helps you get through life together.
  51. It’s not a race, it’s not a contest. It’s ok to call timeout once in a while. You owe loyalty to no one other than yourself until you pledge loyalty to him in marriage.
  52. You’ll know if he’s The One. You won’t have to ask yourself or anyone else for confirmation. You’ll just know.

Love, Mom

Photo credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash.com