Random Relationship Advice

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pinky hold

Having watched too much “Sex in the City” reruns, I got to thinking about things that I wish someone told me about what to look for in a man.

When I was young, it was all blonds, all the time. And cute. Honestly, I didn’t look much farther than that.

As I hit my teen years, I realized that blond goes gray and “cute” often came with an attitude. So I focused on mutual interests and intelligence…keeping “blond and cute” around to refine my flirtation skills on.

Looking back at the early years, I can see – with the clarity of distance – that I was focused on superficial factors. Had I known then what I know now, I could have probably saved myself a lot of time and energy.

So here is my recommended list of criteria for Mr. Right. I believe these are the things that make for a lasting relationship … through thick and thin.

  • Look for a boy that makes you laugh. He’s the one that can make the rough times easier.
  • His looks aren’t everything…it’s how he looks at you – and how that makes you feel – that really counts.
  • Find the boy that can get you through the forest with very few resources. Make fun of “MacGyver” all you want, but I want to know that my boy can save me using his wits and a gum wrapper.
  • Make sure that he supports your interests outside of what you share. If you are totally dedicated to your softball team, stay dedicated. While he should cheer you on at the game once in a while, he doesn’t need to love it the way you do.
  • Pay attention to his reaction when you think you need help. The right one will know when you need it…and step in. Otherwise, he knows you can do it on your own because he believes in you.
  • It may sound trite, but watch how he treats children and his mother. Enough said.
  • And most importantly, find the boy that always puts your needs before his…and do the same for him.

Thankfully, the boy I met at age 16 filled all these qualifications and more. And while I didn’t realize it at our first meeting, it did register that somehow he seemed right. Throughout our relationship, I’ve slowly come to see that I knew instinctively that he was the one.

And more than 30 years later, he still makes me laugh.

 

Rainy Days and Mondays

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rainy day boats

“Rainy days and Mondays, always get me down…”

As stated by the Carpenters, and more recently by Emmy Rossum, rainy days can have a negative impact on your attitude.

But I have to admit, more often than not, I like a good rainy day.
During the winter, a nice rainy day to me signifies that spring is coming. And given the winter this year here in Chi-beria (AKA Chicago), that first little hint of a thaw is enough to get me through…at least through today. A nice gentle rain in the spring gets us even closer to green grass and early, spring flowers. There is nothing as peaceful and at the same time exciting to me as a good, old-fashioned summer storm, complete with a lightening show and house-rattling thunder. And rain in the fall reminds me that we’re coming full circle back to winter and the holidays.

But beyond the changing seasons, a rainy day often gives me the chance to think. My creative juices seem to fill me up like the puddles outside. I’m more focused on a rainy day, since there isn’t anything outside to tempt me. And when you have the opportunity to curl up and watch movies with the one(s) you love on a rainy day, under a cozy blanket with popcorn close at hand? Well, that just makes for a great moment to be truly enjoyed…and a fond memory.

With all due respect to both the Carpenters and Emmy Rossum, I agree on the “Mondays” thing, but I kind of like a rainy day.

What about you?

 

No Longer a Numbers Game

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Numbers game image

I am cutting numbers from my life.

Ok. Let’s face it, you can’t ignore numbers. You need to deal with them in some places. You need to know that the Ann Taylor sweater that will be perfect on you is 40% off in two days, meaning that your $25 gift card will get you one then.

But numbers and math have never been my thing. Some people, like my husband, get numbers and can do the math in their heads. I’m not that person. I went into communications so I would not have to deal with numbers. I like to say that I got married so I would no longer have to balance my own checkbook.

That said, I should amend my statement to say I’m cutting numbers that I choose not to care about from my life.
Maybe I’m just reaching that point in my life where the majority of numbers just don’t matter. I’m no longer going to obsess about my age. I’m going to focus on how I feel. Some days I feel 20 years old, and I will act accordingly. On the days I feel 104 years old, I also will go ahead and act like it.

Weight is another number I choose to ignore. As long as my clothes fits and I feel good about myself, I really don’t care what the scale – which I swear is not calibrated right anyway – says.

Money is another area. Now that’s not to say I won’t pay attention, but I won’t obsess over it. As long as we can pay our bills and live comfortably, with some kind of plan for the future, that’s fine by me. I don’t need a load of stuff or cash that impresses others…because I’ve come to realize those are people I don’t really care about impressing.

I’m going to focus on the numbers that are important. The number of years we’ve been happily married, the number of times that my kids call home just because they want to chat, how many times a day we laugh together at stupid things only we understand. These are the things that are fast becoming more important to me … the love and relationships in my life. And those are the things that I will continue to count … and count on.

Because life is too short to worry about the things that don’t matter in the end. For me, it’s no longer a numbers game.

Some Mornings are Made for Crayons and Coffee

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Crayons

Life moves quickly.  Sometimes, you have to take the small moments of peace it offers. For example, coloring.

Now you may think…coloring?  Isn’t that for 6-year-olds?  True, but isn’t there a six-year-old child still living in each of us?  Every now and again, like today, when it is one of those cold, dark, dreary kinds of mid-winter mornings in the Midwest, with more snow expected (sigh), I get my coloring book and crayons (the box of 96 colors…after all, go big or go home).  I pour a warm cup of coffee and choose a picture to color.

Some mornings, this activity gives me back the control I don’t always have in my career.  At the office, you have to follow company procedure, deliver what the boss wants, and tow the company line, whether you agree with it or not.  Your coloring book leaves all the decisions open to you…there are no right or wrong answers…and best of all, no one needs to approve it!

Other mornings, it’s just about letting my creative side run wild.  Well, semi-wild…I’m not the most artistically talented being.  Coloring lets me pretend that I am and that I do have an eye for color…despite the fact that not all shades of purple look good next to each other and most reds and pinks don’t tone together well.  But in that single moment, I am Van Gogh.

Whatever needs coloring fills for me, the final outcome is peace.  Peace of a clear mind that was moments ago spinning.  Peace of body because you can’t be moving 100-miles-a-minute when you are coloring…why do you think Kindergarten teachers include it in lesson plans?  And peace of spirit, because when you color, all the stress, fear and uncertainty of life just fall away.

Like I said, some mornings are made for crayons and coffee.

Love the One You’re With

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Valentine

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Cupid takes flight.  But he doesn’t always bring hearts and flowers.

When I was young, there were a number of Valentine’s Day where Cupid seemingly forgot where I lived.  But as I got older, I realized that my Valentine’s Day did not have to center around what someone else would do for me to prove their love on February 14.  It (finally) dawned on me that love didn’t – and shouldn’t – just come once a year.  It didn’t mean candy and flowers or even that special gift that showed that the boy in my life really did “understand” me.  Love is about the simple things…a hug, a smile, a reminder to wear gloves, a phone call to “…just say hey!”  The things that we can each do everyday to show that we care.  Not only about our loved ones but about those that need our attention.

I also realized that I didn’t need a “special someone” but that I could love the one I’m with all the time…me.  Now for some people, (I think they are professionally classified as “narcissists”) this is not a problem.  But I think for most people, we are generally so wrapped up worrying about what other people think and if they love us that we forget to love ourselves.

So two things to remember:  1)  February 14 shouldn’t be the only day that you show you care, and 2)  Share your love not only with others, but also with yourself.

To quote Crosby, Stills and Nash, “When you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

Taking a Chance

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When I was young, I rarely thought about risk.

That’s not to say that I took unnecessary risks. I thought about the possible outcomes, and then decided if it was worth it or not. And usually, it was.

Sadly, I recently noticed that as the years pile on, I second guess myself more and more. It makes sense. As we get older – and more experienced – we realize that the risks might be greater than we thought. And as we get older, we generally have more responsibilities…spouse, kids, extended family and friends…that we don’t want to disappoint. A mortgage, student loans or college funds…bills we literally can’t afford to default on. Expectations, a reputation, personal standards…that we don’t want to compromise.

And as time go on, we also take on the input of the world around us. The boss that constantly criticizes, the friends that question our choices, the family that “lovingly” worry out loud if that’s “really a good idea.”

In fact, it has gotten so bad for me that I even second guess myself on simple decisions…should I add salt or salt substitute to the pork chops. And that literally was the moment of my epiphany: I need to stop overthinking. If the chops are too salty, we have at least three pizza joints on speed dial.

My tip of the day? Stop worrying so much. Most mistakes are not so dire that they can’t be fixed. Most decisions are not so irrevocable that they cannot be reversed. And most of the time, I’ve found, that I’ve learned good lessons in bad situations.

This – my inaugural blog – is the perfect example. I have these “thought pops” in my head – things that I want to share. And it feel like the right thing for me to do. So welcome to my little corner of the world.

I know it’s a chance, but I’m taking it.