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

2018 Check-in

charles-deluvio-651962-unsplashRight around the start of the year I wrote about my intentions for 2018.  Blink your eyes, and somehow it’s already June! Gretchen Rubin is credited with saying,

“The days are long but the years are short.”

Although she was talking about child-raising, I suspect this is a truth we all come to realize with time. Don’t ask me where the days go, but I can tell you this: they will zoom past us whether or not we pay attention, whether or not we live deliberately.

That said, I have always tried to live deliberately. And the universe laughs at me because I think I do, but you learn a few life lessons along the way that show you how you haven’t been doing that. Life events with life-long repercussions have a way of shocking you out of complacency. That’s life events, plural.

GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT. It doesn’t get hand-delivered to you because you’re entitled to it…it doesn’t happen because you’re a nice person or whatever. It always involves effort. Often times more than you want to give, or more than you think you should have to give. It’s the universe’s way of testing you to see how bad you want it.

Trust me: don’t tempt the universe on this. Don’t tell yourself, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” You’re being too passive. And sometimes the doors of opportunity shut permanently. The point is, I would coach every single soul to embrace and enjoy as much of life as you can. Most times – most times – you get one chance. You get other chances if you’re damn lucky. Most of us aren’t that lucky. Again: GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT.

Sooooo easy to say. Much harder to do!

So now’s as good a time as any to take stock of how well I’m faring with respect to my intentions. My rationale is that just enough time has passed that, if you were serious about your intentions, some real progress may have occurred and you can celebrate and double down on your efforts. And if you weren’t really serious, then you have a chance to reaffirm your intentions. There’s plenty of bulk left to the year, if you’re one to align your personal clock to the calendar, to reach your goals.

It also gives you good opportunity to determine whether the goals you set for yourself still resonate with you or even better, decide if there’s something new that has tugged at your heartstrings.

Yep, as good a time as any to check in.

My three big themes this year were breathe, nest, and connect. I’m feeling pretty good about them today.

tim-goedhart-334149-unsplashBreathe – this was my shorthand for focusing on health, everything and anything health-related including those things to help manage stress a little better. Good news to report: I have lots of positive momentum here.

For starters I write in a gratitude journal every day, where I pick out three things big or small to be thankful for. Frankly it’s become really easy to do. We practice this with the kids too…we ask them to name four things they are grateful for every time we hold our weekly family meeting and it’s likewise become very easy for them to rattle them off, even if all they do is thank someone else in the family for something. I hope this is a habit that sticks with them forever.

So while it’s easy to come up with things I’m grateful for, what I really wish was for a way to block negative thoughts from entering my head in the first place or a way to release them in some kind of effective way. I totally get that’s what meditation is supposed to do for you, and it’s true that meditation has helped. I am now able to immediately identify when a thought is negative…it’s just the volume of those thoughts is astounding!

I still spend entirely too much time dwelling on negative thoughts, especially heartbreaking things from the past I simply cannot change. It’s like I’m kidding myself into thinking that if I dwell on something long enough, I’ll recognize when I face a similar crossroads so I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

Time and perspective has shown me that you don’t always know when you’re at a crossroads and faced with a choice or a decision point. Sometimes I just want to go back in time and make different choices, and well, needless to say that’s not an option.

Wasn’t it Einstein who explained in his relativity theory that time is a construct that is relative to us being on this planet? And wasn’t it Donald Neale Walsch who said that everything that has ever happened, and ever will happen, including right now is all happening NOW (a certain way of explaining time from God’s perspective) and this explains why we have deja vu moments, because we have already lived out certain scenarios? Maybe just maybe me dwelling on things from the past make sense because then IS now as is tomorrow.

Eh….I’m not a very good part-time philosopher, am I? Now I’m just making excuses for behavior that isn’t all that productive. Even still, that’s a bump on the road of breathing….maybe a permanent speed bump but still a bump.

Slowly but surely I am changing the way I eat to something that resembles a bit more paleo. Everything and anything processed and sweet isn’t appealing, period. I drink far more water now. I’ve cut the soda, drink decaffeinated tea and I often skip the added sweeteners. Even those days when you just can’t pull together a meal for the kids in between all their functions and you make the quick McDonald’s run? I can’t eat the food anymore. It’s always gross. It’s never worth it.

I’ve started walking almost daily and I’m trying to stand at my desk versus sitting since sitting is the new smoking. I’ve picked up yoga again and feel myself getting stronger. It feels like I gave myself a massage when I do yoga. It simply feels fantastic to move.

The good news is I can’t go back to my old habits. The needed shift has happened.

Over the last several months I have had a standard nighttime routine that prepares me for bed, a little ritual where I properly cleanse and nourish my skin. Being blessed with good skin forever, it wasn’t something I took much time to bother with but now I’m older and know I need a boost. It’s working…my skin is glowing and I even think some the fine lines and wrinkles are a little less pronounced.

So while that’s all good, the whole nighttime skin care routine has become this ritual that helps me in other ways. The process is long and short enough to put me into sleep mode somewhat quickly. Don’t all the parenting books talk about rituals like that with your kids to signal a shift in their body? Why wouldn’t we do the same?

I have taken to reading real books before I nod off, or if I really must check my devices, I use “night shift”, a cool feature that blocks the blue light. And for a few months now, I have successfully powered down all the electronic devices in the room and make my husband do the same so we both sleep without the electromagnetic radiation. I even sometimes diffuse essential oils. It’s made a huge difference. I feel well rested in the morning and my eyes pop open around 5:30 or 6am, no problem. I can’t tell you what a huge win this has been for the quality of my sleep.

Granted my focus on health and success with it could be a combination of many things moving in the right direction, like the deliberate combination of vitamins I take each morning to supplement my diet, but I am well rested with plenty of energy to get through the day. It’s become easy. When in the world did all of this suddenly click to become easy?

I’ve even cut back on unnecessary purchases like new clothes. You may ask what this has to do with breathing, but this is just another form of stress management. Who needs the drain on finances, not to mention the bustle of shopping and returns, etc. when you go overboard? It’s so easy to go overboard.

I love fashion, it’s true, but I have a wardrobe I’m relatively happy with. I’m really just trying to save money for when I actually need new, smaller clothes. I have a vision for myself which involves me being lithe and strong. Once upon a time I used to be a tiny girl, but whatever strength I thought I had in me was in my head, not in my muscles! This will change. I can feel it.

Every password I’ve created this year has had something to do with health…and I made one of those My Intent bracelets with “Choose Health” as the mantra. It’s working.  I’m pointing everything I am toward my own personal, health-focused north star.

If you can’t tell, I can dissect the goal to “breathe” and the focus on health 1000 different ways. It’s only taken me half a century to figure that stuff out but…I’m a late bloomer on certain things.

And just to punctuate the conversation, I actually sat down the other evening to watch the final game of the NBA playoff. The Cleveland Cavaliers were playing, we live in the Cleveland metro area, and even though I had a feeling the Warriors were going to sweep the championship, it still felt like the right thing to support the team. I almost never watch TV otherwise.

But there it was: a commercial for a local assisted-living facility. It was supposed to be a happy, uplifting spot featuring these senior citizens enjoying themselves where they lived, listening to someone play piano, playing board games, and whatever. All I saw were frail old grannies and it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: I don’t want that for my future. I don’t want to be frail, hunched over, living in a tiny bedroom of a place with a bunch of people I don’t know when I’m in my elder years. Uh, no. I want to be Ernestine Shepherd…

I even have a fitness journal that I started writing in every day. It forces me to dissect my excuses, identify my role models, plan how I want to move through the day, and examine what I appreciate about the journey. It was such a tiny change to adopt but now I’m hooked. It was the accountability partner I needed.

landon-martin-269065-unsplashNest – No kidding, I finished remodeling our laundry room last month and the strangest thing has happened since then: I now have a ton of free time on my hands. Let me explain: it wasn’t like I spent every spare moment of my day for the last five years working on that room. But mentally? I was thinking about it constantly. So now that it’s done, is that why I feel I have a ton of free time?

This weird phenomenon started in May which is usually a month of total overload, “mayhem” some of us moms call it with all of the end-of-school events and birthdays for two of my kids. Once that laundry room was put together, I suddenly had what felt like hours available to me in the evenings to dedicate to the day’s activities.  I am struggling to understand how my evening and weekend hours stretch out before me and feel as though they pass at half the pace they used to.

It’s possible that all this happened because I have stopped watching the news. No lie, I’d come downstairs each morning and my husband would have “Morning Joe” broadcasting on the TV…every single day another outrageous story would emerge from the White House and the anchors would dissect every last angle. I told him it had to stop. It consistently washed a wave of anxiety over me every single morning to start my day. I have become so infuriated, I’ve actually become numb. I just can’t listen to outrage day after day. Was that it? Is this why so much calm has overtaken me? I like to be informed as much as the next guy and I admire my husband’s interest in politics – I’ve even become more attuned to what is happening than even he is at this point – but I also think we have a right to serenity in the home.

Or all this free time – which can be channeled into home improvement, or nesting – is it now available to me because the mental or physical chaos of an unfinished laundry room is past? I don’t get it. But now that the laundry room is fully functional not to mention CUTE, I’m operating like a well oiled machine.

I wanted to plant flowers for our front porch. Boom! It was done within the space of an hour including shopping for what I wanted and cleanup. I wanted to re-stain our family room cabinets and mantel. Boom! Done. What in the world has happened?

This is encouraging. You see I do have a whole backlog of home projects to work on, much, much smaller items than tackling the laundry room, and while I haven’t made a dent in them, I know I’ll get to them. Our house will be cozy and beautiful and functional like I want it to be. I love home renovation and decoration…I love returning things to their former beauty, or sprinkling beauty in spaces that weren’t, until the magic happens. I miss the time I used to spend on home renovation. The good news is I have seven more months of the year to make good on the remaining goals here. But no matter how much or how little I get done at this point? It’s all good.

pavan-trikutam-1660-unsplashConnect – Although writing this blog and reading more substantive books are smaller steps I’m taking to strengthen my connection to people and spirit, my biggest goal here was to connect far more on a social level with people whose company I enjoy. To be honest, this has been really difficult for me as I battle some social anxiety demons on a regular basis.

But I’ve made good on my efforts. That list of 20+ of the most important people in my life, people that have been huge, positive influences, has been drawn up and I started reaching out to the ones at the top of the list, the ones I have had the least contact with over the years. I’m only about 25% through the list, working my way down to the folks I talk to or see relatively more frequently, but I’m making progress. I am blown away by how emotionally satisfying it has been to go through this process even if the results aren’t always what I envisioned. Most of the time, the results are better than I expected.

It has been downright frightening to conduct this outreach, for fear of it being awkward after all these years. I wondered whether my efforts were silly and fruitless. I wrote to one of my friends and just poured my heart out to her. I heard from her in response. We’ve traded voicemails so far and while her message back to me was short, it seems like she received the letter favorably. We haven’t had a chance to chat as she’s in the midst of a major move and job change, and it may be several weeks before we do. I don’t know if she quite understands just how much I bared my soul in that note, or if our friendship will ever be reinstated to the status it once had, but the fact is I did it: I stuck my neck out, I was vulnerable and just told her what was in my heart….how much I admire and love her, how I wish I had been there for her when she needed a friend the most, how I will always cherish her, and I’ll miss her now that she’s moved.

We’ve hosted a couple of picnics at our house over the last month too. I used to throw parties a few times a year – the more people the merrier – but I haven’t been as open to having people at the house. For years the kids were small, I couldn’t keep up with the housekeeping, our entire home was a toy box, and I was too exhausted to play hostess. It’s gotten better. The nesting has been a deliberate attempt to make our home look a little more put together and elegant, the way I always wanted it to be, and the breathing has restored my energy levels to enable more connecting.

One of the picnics was a neighborhood picnic – I traversed the neighborhood with an invitation to 30 houses and we ended up hosting nine families. Our neighborhood is a little bit older and many of the people have lived here for 30-40 years and their kids have grown and moved on. Some of the houses are turning with a few younger families here and there. Even still, many of the neighbors didn’t know each other. Everyone was so appreciative of the opportunity to gather and break bread. One elderly couple was THRILLED to be invited over. They were charming and gracious and lovely, lovely people. It warms my heart that we played our part to foster a sense of community.

Don’t we all need a stronger sense of community? Yes. Yes, we do.

It’s been heartwarming in every sense to see positive things come out of my efforts to connect. It makes me wonder why I was scared to do it. It seems so silly now. But I’ll tell you this:

I’ve learned, over and over again, that some of the things you want most in life live on the other side of your fear.

Now that it is mid-way through the year, I have to admit I haven’t given a ton of thought to course corrections. If anything, it’s time to step on the accelerator for each of my big goals. I like what I’ve done and the plans I set out. It’s simply time to ramp it up.  I can’t say I went into the year wanting to be Ernestine, but I do now. I have a visual to latch onto.

nathan-dumlao-592018-unsplashIf there was one thing I would add to my list without fear of losing my focus, maybe it would be Create. The artist in me is screaming to create. Maybe that means more singing, writing, hosting gatherings that foster connection, painting, decorating… I don’t know how it will manifest itself, but you’ll hear about it here.

What about you? Did you set goals for yourself and have you checked in? Did this post give you something to think about? It’s never too late to start.

Here’s to the dreamers and go-getters…


Photo credits from, in order of appearance: Charles Deluvio, Tim Goedhart, Landon Martin, Pavan Trikutam, and Nathan Dumlao.