Confidence against all odds

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OH MY GOD – I’m almost 40. It’s coming at me with the force of a freight train and there’s no stopping it now. The years of dread have shrunk to a month and all I can do now is prepare myself, put my head down and brace for impact. OR, I can saunter into into the new decade chest puffed, swagger on, smile bright. New decade, new date-able me. 

Unfortunately once the balloons popped and the confetti settled on the first morning of the new year (and once I pulled myself off of the bathroom floor…the result of way to much fun saying sayonara to the last decade) I found myself in quite the little slump. I had such grand plans to get on the paid dating site, put myself out there with no expectations, be confident in my being “a catch,” but the cold days and long nights, and the lack of post-holiday sparkle has curtailed my plans. It’s okay, I know, to give myself a break. To take some downtime and recharge and do whatever self-care I need to make it through. But I’m finding myself discouraged.

I also said that when I hit 40, I would make a decision once and for all in terms of whether or not I was going to go it alone one the kid front. I don’t feel any closer to being confident in this decision. And despite my efforts to not see every man I go out for a drink with as a potential inexpensive sperm bank (not the best way to seek a partner), and freezing my eggs to make each date a little less “do or die,” I’m still in a state of almost constant panic.

To try and get some headspace I just returned from one of my bi-annual silent retreats.  Three days with no talking, walks in the forest, sitting by the lake, reading, eating and sleeping. Heaven. Beyond just taking a break from my incessant need to babble, I also crave the silence in order to connect with my own voice, that normally gets lost in the melee of life noise. Connecting with that voice and not the voice of society/friends/media/dudes on dates, gives me a small measure of confidence of my place in the world and what I can/want to accomplish. I do feel slightly calmer and more centered on my return, as is usual after time spent in nature. But the confidence in my intuition to make decisions, and my ability to offer value to those I’m dating is still at a low. So I did some research on how to get back into that space of “you go girl!” confidence.

Give me some confidence yo!

“Fake it till you make it!” is some pretty common advice in this area. But that always feel so disingenuous to me, and pre-fixed on some future destination that is there and not here. The idea that when you get there, things will be okay: when I meet that guy; when I make that big decision. But until then, here’s my little quick list of how to amp up that confidence (outside of the obvious power poses in the bathroom mirror):

  • Practice, practice, practice. This one might sound a bit strange when it comes to dating, but it works just the same as with any other pursuit. The more you experience being around strangers, having conversations with new people, talking positively about yourself and meeting new people generally, the more in tune you will be with who you really are outside of the nerves, and the more you’ll be able to spot what you actually are looking for.
  • Stop the negative talk. Your inner critic will give you enough of it, no need to repeat it out loud. My date doesn’t need to know about all of my insecurities on date 1. How about just approaching things from a place of confidence? Suspending disbelief. Acknowledging deep down that there are flaws, but choosing to present the positive.
  • Find your team. That cheesy song “Cheerleader” has it right. You need to surround yourself with at least a few of them. I know criticism is required and character building. But you really do need some people on your team that will give you a bit of a pep rally when you need a little push to keep going.
  • Rejection? Let that shit go! A lot of people won’t like what you put out there for a million little reasons. Just like you don’t love a bunch of stuff. C’est la vie.
  • Don’t catastrophize or put too much weight on any one person’s opinion of you or your decisions. It’s not all or nothing. One “no” or negative response is definitely not the end of the world.
  • Let go of perfectionism. There is no perfect set of steps that will get you want you want.
  • Do one thing every day that scares you (ahem like a date). Or sets you up for a small rejection so that you can get used to them. Side job selling Duct cleaning anyone?
  • Comparing is for chumps. We all know it makes us feel miserable and small. Every single life path is different.
  • Find your Sasha Fierce. Beyonce uses this alter ego that brings out all of her confident characteristics. Come up with your own alter ego that brings out all of those traits buried within you.
  • Tune into your gut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends what they think of a potential suitor’s picture or job or whatever. Who cares! They don’t have to date them. They don’t know how that person makes you feel. Spend some time away from the advice of others and tune into those little butterflies or cockroaches in the pit of your stomach that tell you whether something is for you or not.
  • Just do it anyway. Even with all of the insecurity. The fear will be there anyway. You don’t have to be confident, you have to be brave. Go on the damn date! And you probably don’t need two glasses of whisky first (but we’ll get there….baby steps).
So many other tips if you google it, but these are mine that I’m gonna try on for size. What are some of your confidence boosting tips and tricks?

Maybe I’m a little blue without you this Christmas…

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How is it Christmas again, and I’m still single as a dollar bill? At least this time last year I had a few potentials in the mix so Christmas events had a bit of a warm glow of romantic hope. I didn’t feel totally and completely alone as the only single girl at all of my holiday parties, as I at least had someone out there in the world that was likely thinking of me. But this year literally nothing, and I’m feeling it…the loneliness.

I’m happy and I’m sad. Deal with it.

This feeling was of course heightened by my sister’s recent wedding. It always surprises me how joy and sadness can so seamlessly co-exist in any moment. I know this is the basic condition of life. And of course the heartbreaks and grief generally grow the longer you are lucky enough to live. No one has a life void of this, unless of course they are a sociopath. And that’s no way to live.

In any case, this was the condition present on the weekend of my sister’s wedding. The day was, of course, not about me. But that didn’t stop the voice in my head for berating me in quiet moments for not having met this milestone yet. I mean she’s sooo much younger than me. I had so many more adult years to tick off these boxes. But I didn’t.

My speech went well and the day went by without a hitch and with lots of dancing and drinking and amazing family bonding time. My sister seems truly happy and that’s the ultimate goal of the day.

At every wedding I go to, I’m always taking notes for my own eventual wedding (which feels less and less likely as I get older). Oh I like it when they did that! Oh man, I would never have centerpieces like that. And I’ve been adding to a mental list (heck I even have an actual list) since I was a kiddo. The problem is, when it’s your sister’s wedding, a lot of the basic variables are the same. Mainly the guests. So it’s slightly disorienting to have all of the same players, and to not have it be your special day that they are celebrating. And to know that they are all getting a lot older and many of them will likely not be able to attend your wedding, even if you do eventually get to that point. So I couldn’t help but feel a bit of a loss in this sense. But anyhow. C’est la vie, yeah? At least I got to celebrate with them at least one more time all together in the same room.

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Single at Christmas never turns out like a Hallmark movie

And now just two weeks later, we arrive at another major event where the feeling of sadness at not having a partner is magnified. Every Christmas, while I’m enjoying family time, I always wish there was someone to share in it all with. The crazy preparations, the last minute gifts, the nights by a fireplace playing a board game. And I always think, definitely by this time next year I will have someone. And then as Christmas approaches, I feel a sense of panic that I’m seemingly in the exact same spot as the year before. Only older, and maybe less likely to meet someone and fall in love in enough time to have a kid.

So kiddo, how will you do things differently this year?

My new year’s resolutions from last year as it relates to love did not work out. I got a lot done in the other areas of my life, but dating continued to take a back seat and my general annoyance, fatigue, and anger towards it all  just really came through I think. I was apathetic. I would answer a few messages from a particular suitor on a site, and then just let it drop with no guilt. Not at all respecting how frustrating it is to be on the other end of that. And if Karma exists, then me doing this sort of degrades the sanctity of the whole thing, and it serves me right that I don’t get any results.

I agreed to try a more serious paid site this year, but I never followed through. So this is the main differential that I’m going to try to commit to for at least the first six months of the year. Join a paid dating site and actually take it seriously. 

But the big question remains…what site???? Help! I’m currently on OKCupid and Hinge and they are not working out. I’m deciding between Zoosk, eharmony and Match. Any suggestions?

I’ll also try to actually adopt some of my behavior resolutions from last year:

  • Treat dating as fun and not a means to an end.
  • Go into dates without full expectations and relax on the whole emotional masturbation bit. Just because we reach date three doesn’t mean I should be worrying about him as a life-long partner.
  • Consider men you are dating from the perspective of how they make you feel, not how they look on paper (though my friend’s boyfriend the other day charmingly reminded me that what he makes financially is all that matters).
  • Go on dates! Stop avoiding them. Breathe and relax.

The decision on having a kid on my own will also need to take a major mind focus this year. Not quite sure yet how I’m going to make that one. I’ll share my plan as we go.

What are your goals for the coming year? 

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How

Don’t you dare come to me with your “7-year itch”

images (7)I’ve hit the stage now where a lot of my friends have been married a good number of years. 7 seems to be a common number, with lots of people waiting until their early thirties to seal the deal and settle down. It’s when anxiety sort of presents itself and people realize that if they want all the things they think they may want, now is probably the best time. In retrospect I sometimes wish I’d felt a little more pressure in this regard. Until recently. You see, now is the time when a lot of guys that are peripherally in my life: friend’s husbands, guy friends I used to have crushes on or vice versa (now married), guys I dated that sit at the edge of my social media feed, have decided that what they “settled” for is not all that they dreamt it would be. Basically shit got real, and it’s not all sexy times. Duh. And let me tell you, these guys are coming out of the woodwork and back into my orbit…and it’s pissing me off.

I get it, you’re bored. Suck it up buttercup.

The worst was an old friend who always seemed to think we were dating, despite me constantly assuring him that we weren’t. It was all very awkward and I was pretty pleased when he knocked up some gal and they had a shotgun wedding. Posts on their social media depict a very lovely, child-centered life. Lots of valentine’s day wishes to each other and “sigh, ain’t life grand” posts.

Then a couple of weeks back I get a direct message on my social media feed:

Emma, I can’t stop thinking about you and our time together.

Oh boy. I responded with a simple, Nice to hear from you, hope you’re well.

He went on to tell me the he missed me. That his life wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. How he wished things had gone differently. I tried to steer the conversation to all that was good in his life. The things that I covet. The kids. The house. The seemingly established adult life.

He isn’t buying. Kids change your whole life. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. But I probably wouldn’t have them if things went a different way. You’re so lucky Emma. You still have your freedom and independence. I’d totally trade my life for your life. 

Now this part pisses me off. I mean sure, I have some freedom and independence. But who’s to say that’s what I want. Pushing this narrative on me of things somehow being better, when there are so many things I wish were different, just feels inconsiderate.

Another recent incident got me raging.  I was at a friend’s birthday, and at the end of the night her (very drunk) husband cornered me and told me that I was looking really good. Reeeeeaaaaallllly good. while giving me what I can only describe as (very drunk) bedroom eyes. It was the creepiest. Now if you’re opening up your marriage…that’s one thing. Awkward but it’s a whole thing that is acceptable to a lot of people. But this whole wandering-eye, seven-year-itch reach-out is just gross.

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Stop messing with my head!

And unkind. Because you know what. It messes me up. For one, it makes me even less likely to ever want to really choose anyone, because I see the seedy other side. Two, it makes me feel like some second-string reject. It diminishes my value and almost makes me feel like a tawdry hidden thing, not worthy of the main event. It kills my trust in anyone, making it even harder for me to date.

Oh and the kids thing. No single woman who thought she wanted kids wants to hear from you that you regret it. Especially not when it’s followed by “but they really are the best thing that ever happened to me!” The same guy above who complained about missing the single life and suggesting that I might be better off without kids, had the nerve, and pure stupidity really, to send me a video of him with his son giggling saying “this is my why.” Are you kidding me? Were you absent in the conversation just last week where I told you that I was sad about not having kids and you told me I was better off? Get a clue Mr.! (And that’s me being polite)

So married or otherwise-involved dudes. Stop f%$king hitting on me, complaining about your life, telling me you wish it had been me, hinting that if I wanted some tawdry affair it is available to me. I don’t want any of it. Get a therapist. Deal with your issues. But stop knocking on my door. Seriously.

Perspective shift

I guess if I could just get over this anger for a hot minute and look at it from a different angle I would maybe be flattered that I’m still thought of? That I chose a life without them, instead of the opposite, and that I’m pretty happy overall. There is so much that is good of course in any situation, and the things that aren’t perfect. Again, life. I’ll try that thought choice for a bit.

The wedding is this weekend so I’ll report to you from the other side. No date for me which is almost better…then I can disappear for a bathroom sob, or kill it on the dance floor as the ultimate single gal to envy without someone I barely know staring at his water glass at an empty table.

Nashville is nice, but where are your kids?

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Bachelorette blues

I’m lucky in that I look younger than I am (though the gap is tightening year by year). I generally find the years between 30-40 to be pretty kind to a woman’s face. It’s after 40 that the years of face cream, and “did she or didn’t she” wear sunscreen play out on your face. In any case, I can hang out with women quite a bit younger without drawing too many “are you the chaperone” looks. As was the case with my younger sister’s recent bachelorette party.  Me and a group of girls at least 10 years my junior…in Nashville. I might have had to find a stool or two at 2 AM to “rest my feet” for a while, but other than that I fit in…totally.

Except on the first day. We dropped off our luggage and headed straight to a famous barbecue joint. While waiting in line, a woman that I could have sworn was 10 years my senior, wearing a bright pink “Bridesmaid” t-shirt, started a chat with me in line for the bathroom.

“Oh my gosh! I love it here! Are you with a bachelorette party too?” (everyone in Nashville is there for a bachelorette/bachelor party).

“Yeah! my younger sister’s. ”

“Oh ma gawd. Me too! My younger sister as well. I’m 40, how old are you?” Straight to the point this gal was.

“I’m 39, but my sister is much younger.”

“That’s awesome! I thought you were my age. Who’s watching your kids?”

Right. I’m meant to have kids by now. Most certainly in the south.

“Oh I don’t have any kids…yet!” I responded with fake enthusiasm. Hey lady, I know the stats. But give a girl some hope.

She responded with a look worthy of me telling her I had a communicable disease after sneezing into her mouth. “Oh,” was her response, before she quickly allowed herself to get distracted by the chatter of the rest of the girls in her party. I was no longer of any interest.  Almost like it was an impossible thought for her to get through her (very blonde and very teased) head. That I might actually be childless at my advanced age. Like I was a famous (in China) “leftover woman.” Or so it felt.

I guess I can’t blame her. It’s probably just what she’s been conditioned to think. But still, it hurt. Nonetheless I plastered on my “let’s party bitches!” smile and got myself back in the spirit. The weekend wasn’t about me. As usual. I’ve been to more parties for other people’s life “accomplishments” than I can count.

The weekend was a blast. I mean exhausting and filled with booze and dancing and drinking and touring. But Nashville really is a nice place to hang your hat for a few nights. Until, after a very long and blister-producing night bar hopping the clubs on Broadway street, when we ended up in a late night BBQ joint to balance out the alcohol in our bloodstream with some heavy grease. The grease was good. Having to listen to a drunk almost 30-year old bridesmaid, the only other single bridesmaid, whine on about how she was so worried she’d never meet anyone and “OH MY GOD” she’s almost 30. Well that was almost just too much for me to take. She was in my mental “I hate you” books for the rest of the weekend. I mean, I get it. We’ve all been there. But I’m just not in the place to hear someone 10 years my junior complain about running out of time. No thanks.

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Tips to get through someone else’s wedding day

The wedding is in a couple of weeks so I decided to go back to the good ol’ therapist to get some strategies to get through the day. Obviously I’m so happy for my sister but the whole thing is so loaded for me. I’m not the first, and based on my age I should have been. It makes me feel like I’ve failed. Like there was a timer on the race and it ran out. So me and the mind maven came up with some tricks for key moments:

  • The father/daughter moment. You know, where you watch your Dad tear up at seeing the bride, his baby, and wonder if you will ever experience that look for yourself:
    • The solution: Visualize it beforehand to desensitize yourself to the actual moment. Journal about it beforehand. Have some tissues ready. Focus on them, not the loss of what you thought you would have.
  • My speech. How to not turn into a blubbery mess with everyone watching:
    • The solution: Write it out and practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more. You will still cry. Everyone does. But you won’t get caught up in getting caught off guard.
  • The inevitable questions or comments from loving friends/relatives “don’t worry, it will be you next!” or “where’s your boyfriend?” or “when are you getting married?”:
    • The solution: Fun, snappy responses “Oh geez…I hope I’m not next!” or “Wait, I don’t know. He went to the bathroom a while ago. I should go check on him!” or “Next week…sorry  you weren’t invited. We had very limited numbers.” Haha just kidding. Sort of. But fun little responses, changing the topic or excusing yourself are always good options.
  • The pity party of one. Lord knows I don’t want to end up on the toilet seat, mascara running down my face:
    • The solution: Don’t drink so much! But seriously, just focus on the moment. Cry for a beat if you need to. Remind yourself that you will get through this and her getting married does not mean anything to your prospects or your future. It could happen to you to! If you want it to that is…

In any case, I’m sure it will be a great day. I just don’t want to put anyone in the position to feel sorry for me or take away from the day which is why I need this tricks. I also don’t want to be a weepy mess. Victim I am not. Hear me roar.

What are some of your tips for getting through a happy/hard day?

Social media “meet cutes”

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Prioritization and Perfectionism

I’ve been a bit MIA as of late. I have so much I want to say on this blog, but with a day job, a book I’m trying to get published and trying to date/figure out this baby stuff in between, I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up. And it doesn’t always pay off when I do. I maintain a lot of anonymity on this site, due to the personal nature of the content. But that in turn makes it hard to share my blog with my personal network and through that, get to the right people out there who would benefit from reading it.

Still, I think the subject matter is important. That the things I’m going through are relevant to so many women of a certain age. I personally find it so helpful to read that I’m not alone in experiencing this unique 21st century conundrum for women. So I’m going to carry on for a bit longer, with maybe a small pause for a bit as I figure out where to take things next. Prioritization is everything however and I have gotten to the place in life where I’ve lived and breathed the common expression, “you can have everything you want, just not at the same time.” So we will see where everything lands.

Another thing that keeps me away from writing is this idea that I always need a big chunk of time and the perfectly crafted blog in order to post. And that comes at the expense of getting some good stories out there. So I’m going to try to let things go without a fine-toothed-comb review.

Instagram is for lovers

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An update on the dating front (and another reason I’ve been MIA for the last little bit). The guy I reached out to through direct message on Instagram ended up taking the bait.  It was such a sweet “meet cute.” We had been chatting on a dating site, but he sort of ghosted for a bit. Instead of asking where he was I did the mature thing, my normal MO, and deleted him from my matches while drunk. Fun times. I did however know his Instagram handle, so in another moment of drunken clarity, I followed him on Instagram. I quickly sent him a little DM saying “Hey! How do I know you?” hoping that he would just play along instead of being like “I don’t know crazy, you just followed me…how do you know me?” Now as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had these super lame reach-outs by men, and it has never, not even once, worked. So I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking.

But he played along. Woot! We fell into a regular conversation pattern. The chemistry was great. We were slowly building a mini-relationship over text. It felt good. And then I mentioned that I loved Oysters when he mentioned he had just come back from a buck-a-shuck, and the date was set. Oysters and beers and a first date penciled in.

Broken bones and a broken heart

The next Monday before our Friday date rolled around and I got a text from him:

“Morning! I’m really looking forward to our date on Friday, but there’s a small chance I might not be able to make it…”

Story of my life! Setting up for a cancellation a week in advance. Classic.

“Oh no! How come?” I asked, interested to see what kind of “washing my hair” type excuse he might come up with.

“Well, I’m just in an ambulance now. I was hit by a car. I should be fine. But just in case I thought I’d give you a head up.”

Jesus. Good excuse at least. A few hours later I got a text saying that he was going into surgery. Multiple broken bones apparently. I gave him a pass on the Friday night date, despite him assuring me that it was only Monday and he’d probably be fine by Friday (might have been the drugs talking at this point). His one surgery turned into three and the date was postponed by a couple of weeks.

But man, when we did meet it was really great. Despite him limping in with casts on both arms and one leg, we had instant chemistry and he was quite the trooper. We had our oysters and beer. And one date turned into many. Everything was going swimmingly. Good conversation, I got butterflies when he smiled…all the standard good things.

But as his injuries healed slower than his positive outlook initially predicted, he started

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to appear agitated. A major love in his life was baseball, and knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to play that summer, maybe ever, gave him a bit of an edge. He was snappy. And seemed a bit despondent overall, not really seeming to know how to act with his injuries. And then the slow ghost started. Which leads us to where we are now. No communication, his little circle randomly showing up on my feed of those who have viewed my social media, but nothing more.

I’m bummmmeeeeed. This was the first guy in a long time I could foresee any kind of future with. But at least I’ve relatively successfully explored a new option for getting dates (because I am just not digging online dating whatsoever). Now I can just be that creep on Instagram ;). Live and learn.

What weird things have you done to get a date?

35-45: The Bermuda Triangle of Women in dating

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Women in dating: the invisible years

The other day, a woman at work was recounting her daughter’s break up with her boyfriend of seven years. She was finally ready to get back into the dating world and had sent her Mom a dolled-up photo of herself the night prior, with the message that she was going on her first date from an online site. Later that evening, she followed up to say, “Now that was three hours I’ll never get back!” quickly followed by, “spinsterhood, here I come.” Or something similar. She’s 31. I rolled my eyes, hopefully internally. Ah to be 31 again. To still have the power. Because as I’ve come to know after hitting the target of 35 and to have almost reached the next MAJOR milestone, the years between 35 and 45 appear to be when women get lost in the dating pool. All of a sudden, no one can deny their biological clock. It’s so…damn…loud. All of the power of youth related to fertility is lost and men in a similar age range call the shots. I mean why would anyone date a ticking time bomb if they didn’t have to?

I know I sound a bit bitter and maybe that’s a bit how I’m feeling these days. Being smack dab in the middle of these lost years, feeling unwanted and undesirable and like I’ve misplaced my bargaining chip in the dating game. I meet so many guys who say that they’re not ready for a relationship and kids, in the middle of dumping you softly. It’s not you, it’s just your unrealistic timeline (which you don’t always state but they assume based on your age). But so many of those same men go on to meet someone five years younger, marry in under a year, and have a kid within two. But the 35-45 year old woman is tossed out at the gate, because let’s face it….guys don’t like the pressure. Boo hoo.

I’m starting to understand those girls that doctor their age on dating sites (I’ve currently altered my age by one year. It makes me feel like I’ve bought some time. Makes no sense at all but there it is). Wouldn’t it be awesome (in a George Orwell kind of way – so not actually) if there was some government declaration that stated that guys were not allowed to date anyone more than five years their junior? To avoid this large group of women that are aging-out of their reproductive years?

Changing the conversation

Even as women, we still talk in ways that make us feel better and other women feel worse about this whole fertility thing. This famous travel blogger I know posted an “I’m 37 and that’s okay…at least I’m not 40,” article as it related to her fertility. She was basically trying to make the point that statistics saying that a woman’s fertility dropped substantially after 35 were outdated, and that it’s really 40 you need to be worried about. Thanks babe! Now I feel real great about myself.

I wish we could all just acknowledge the clock. Acknowledge that it’s difficult. Take precautions if we’re really concerned, but stop comparing ourselves to each other. Because one day this blogger will be 40 and she might be alone without kids and, well, then what? She’ll compare herself to this recent blog she wrote and feel like shit. We have doctors to tell us the real deal. We have facts that we can use to make informed decisions. But beyond that, can we just be sensitive about how we talk to each other, and pump each other up with hope instead of comparing?

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And then, there’s peri-menopause

One of the major things we don’t get talked to openly about as we’re growing up (alongside the realities of pregnancy) is that our periods change as we get older. It’s still so taboo to talk about periods, yet it’s a physical difficulty that half of the population is experiencing effects from for 1/4 of every month. Hint at anything related to it as a cause for your feeling “under the weather,” and guys will do this dramatic, “I don’t want to hear about it” bit.  Get over yourself man! Women are still much the same, which isn’t doing us any favours. I get it. It’s not sexy. It’s not how women are supposed to be seen: smelling like roses and waking up all glowy and hair free, etc. Our standards are ridiculous.

Peri-menopause is a whole other joy that no one ever told me about, and it can start up to 10 years before menopause. Our period changes a few times in our life and this is a big one. Hormones shift, PMS gets worse, periods get heavier (a friend the other day described it as a monthly massacre), period pains get worse. One friend says that she spots so badly and randomly that she has to wear pads every day of the month. Fun. Another friend has cramps that are so painful that she has to take a day off of work every month as no pain killer can ease the discomfort. And yet no one talks about it. Add to that trying to date and pretend everything is okay. That you’re cool and sexy and up to get down anytime (because hey, if you don’t, there will be some girl 10 years younger who isn’t so “difficult”). It’s messed up. You kind of want to hide in a cave for 10 years sexually, and that’s not really going to help this whole wanting kids thing. So we really need to get our butts out of the sand and talk about this in a real way. Men’s stuff too, but definitely this.

You gotta have faith

I’m seeing a therapist right now that focuses on fertility and relationship issues. I’ve got them all! She keeps telling me those “exception” stories of people that meet late and end up having all the things, just in a different order. I told her that, despite these fairy tale stories,  I’d lost hope. She reminded me gently that that was the worst thing I could do. I asked “well how does one keep up hope, amidst all of the uncertainty and the bad experiences etc.”

She replied, “you just need to keep on hoping, despite the odds. Suspend disbelief.”

I have all these excuses for losing hope. But she keeps reminding me that somehow I have to find at least a seed of hope or all is lost. Feels a bit like a catch 22 to me.

Gabrielle Bernstein (back to this “trust the universe” business) has a Universe prayer you can do every morning and Ima gonna try it.

“Universe, thank you for supporting me. I surrender my desires and expectations, and I pray for the highest good for all.”

You can find more on her morning practise for trusting that things are gonna work out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yiCMxp8Kw4

Until the next time I’m going to try to adopt a bit of a blind hope mentality!

How do you keep the hope???

Whatever…I’ll just date myself!

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Well shaking things up hasn’t really worked out well so far. And I feel like I’ve sunk a bit back down into a pit of despair. Not a good look. Feeling like all hope is lost is kind of frightening. Keep you up at night stressful. Mainly because it’s mostly out of your control. You know that cute little circle diagram that forces you to really look at what’s in your control and what’s outside? Well falling in love is decidedly out of my control.  

Dating has become totally overwhelming. I get a stomachache every time I think of going online. I snap at dudes who have poor online dating etiquette. I’m just, plain burnt out.

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The shake up!

So I thought I’d try something new. Speed dating. Man was that a depressing state of affairs. Being forced to talk, even for five minutes, with guys you’d never swipe right on, definitely resulted in me ordering way too many glasses of wine for a Tuesday night. We were relocated from the original venue to the basement of an Ethiopian restaurant, that only smelt good if you were about to enjoy the food. Otherwise it felt dirty and dingy. Dark and dank. Except, of course, for a few “expertly” placed spotlights that seemed to only land on my sweaty face. Despite the age range “suggestion” a bunch of the guys were at least 10 years my  junior. I ended up matching with a few and set up a date with one. I was excited. He was cute and nice and seemed relatively normal, even after conducting a preliminary google search. I realized I hadn’t caught his age in our conversation, so asked in a quick text the day of, and he was indeed 11 years younger than me. Too young.

I also recently posted a call out on Facebook, law of attraction style, to prompt my network to be on the lookout for me if they happened to be in contact with anyone that was “looking for same.” One of my connections finally came through and a picture was sent. The guy was totally and completely not my type. Like in a big way. Am I being too picky not going out with someone I’m totally not attracted to? Do I have a right to turn anyone down at this stage?

I also decided to be a total creep and contact someone out of the blue on Instagram. You know, like those random dudes from countries across the world that say, “hey miss, you’re beautiful. Want to chat?” which you try to ignore in your “requested conversations” area of Instagram and Facebook. Well I “found” (totally innocently haha – not) a guy that had sort of ghosted me on a dating site on Instagram. I followed him and direct messaged him with an innocent sounding “where do I know you from?” He surprisingly didn’t get totally spooked (we have some friends in common so that helps), and the conversation has been going pretty well. So we’ll see how that goes. 

Stop looking already

One friend tells me again and again that she truly believes that it will happen for me when I least expect it. I think this is bollocks. There are at least 23 hours a day where I’m not expecting to run into the future love of my life. Do I have to let go completely and not expect that it will ever happen at all? Like give up all the hope and just move on with my life? Start planning my insemination or accepting that I will never have children?  Isn’t that a bit of a depressing thought? And isn’t there an entirely different school of “thinkers” that say that the law of attraction is where it’s at? That putting out the vibe that I’m looking for something will attract that very thing right to my virtual doorstep? Am I meant to just give up and go home, drop the dating sites and meeting strangers’ eyes in the subway? Because I can’t really go on a date and not allow the hope in just a little tiny bit. So cold turkey would be the only way.

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My sister’s wedding planning is going strong of course in the midst of this. I’m planning the shower and of course there are lots of other events, etc. that come with a big wedding. I’m very excited for her but it just magnifies the lack of all of these things in my life.

How do you find yourself getting out of these little pits of despair (first world problem – noted). It’s hard to talk about my tips when I’m in it, because they haven’t quite worked yet obviously, but here are some:

  • Think of all the things you’re grateful for, and turn off the inputs that force you to compare. See ya Instagram (for a couple of hours at least)! I’ve said this before but It’s worth repeating.
  • Focus on action instead of worry.
  • Find ways to ground yourself in the moment. I love the grounding technique I’ve talked about before (thinking of five things you can currently see, hear, feel, smell, taste).
  • Get out in nature and unplug. Nature really does the body and mind good. And vitamin D is a bit of a natural antidepressant.
  • Self care baby, which includes eating right, exercising, getting your body taken care of with a massage, etc. It’s hard…all I want right now is an IV of carbs hooked up at all times. It ain’t great for anything. Especially not when my alternate to carb loading is Rose drinking.
  • Focus on things that are in your locus of control. Make a little chart like the cute one above if it helps!
  • Focus on other people and on giving back. Doing good makes you feel good and gets you out of this victim mentality (that I’m clearly in right now)!

So many more tips but these are on my checklist for this week. As I try to just muddle through and come out of the other side of this valley.

What are your tips for getting out of the dumps?

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The baby comparison trap

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The grass is not always greener. We all know this. We get reminded everyday with Instagram soundbites and “quotes of the day.” Heck, the best quote of all time related to this, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” was originally said back, back, back in the day by Theodore Roosevelt. So the concept is nothing new, except we’re living in a time and age where everyone else’s highlight reel is on a continuous loop in social media. Happy families, when you don’t have one of your own. Romantic couple posts on Valentine’s day, when you struggle to get past date two.

It’s fake ya’ll

But we all know that these are not a true representation of someone’s life. I was constantly jealous of a friend who posted sweet anniversary messages on his Facebook page and who would show me proud pictures of his wife and children, only to tell me the other week that they had been separated for a while and were about to be divorced. A financial planner I know created a genius hashtag along the lines of #reallife and after every lovely vacation photo she posted, she would post a follow-up pic of  the credit card bill that she received after the vacation ended, that she was going to be spending months paying off.  #reallife.

Tell me I’m okay

The other day I found myself googling “female celebrities without kids.” when I saw some that were cool, and attractive and quite successful on the list (Jennifer Aniston anybody?) I immediately felt a small sense of relief. If she can have it all: the money, the fame, the opportunities, and choose (or accept) not having kids, then maybe it’s okay for me as well. Maybe I’m not such a loser if I’m lumped into the same category as these amazing women. Maybe I’m not the actual last single girl with the worst luck in the love. It’s the ultimate in comparisons and it makes absolutely no sense at all, but there’s something to be said for not being alone in circumstance. To have others in your same boat who have likely gone through the same thing. Jennifer Aniston actually penned an amazing op-ed this year on the subject, saying that motherhood shouldn’t define your value as a woman. Amen.

My personal comparison trap doesn’t stop with celebrities of course. And more often than not it’s the friend comparisons that bring me down into the swamp of despair. Total, gut wrenching, buy-a-box-of-lucky-charms-and-eat-the-whole-thing-in-a-sitting-while-watching-a-murder-mystery-marathon kind of despair.

And then there’s the comparisons to people that represent my future self. The other day an older woman in my hood asked me to come and help her open her front door, as she couldn’t do it herself. For a moment I thought this might be some terrifying lure into a horror-movie situation, but I trusted my instincts that she was safe. On the way over she told me she’d been living in the country/area for 20 years, and she left her entire family back home. She had no kids, and no family and was desperate for me, a total stranger, to come and visit. I glanced into her apartment and it was void of all furniture, covered in cat hair and tarps (it really was a little horror-movie like). And I thought, man, this can’t be it. I’ve gotta do something. I need to safeguard against this particular type of loneliness.

Take your time…if you’re a dude

On a date the other day, the guy waxed philosophical (like he’d figured out some great secret and was so proud of himself) that we all subscribe to too many societal norms about the timing and order of things (which I of course agree with) and that it was our job to break those norms, have kids later, make that be okay. He then told me that I should just take my time. Develop myself first. Wait for my sister to have a kid and practice on them. I was thinking, “DUDE, I’m friggen 39. I don’t have time to do this. You do, as a man, but I certainly don’t.” And the whole thing just felt so unfair.

And then I was comparing myself to men my age age feeling such white hot anger that they have the luxury of this opinion. I told him as much and he fully agreed. But the fact is that “it is what it is.” Science has extended things a bit for us modern ladies, but at the end of the day we’re not going to evolve biologically in the next many, maybe all, lifetimes, so we just need to accept it and let go of the comparisons. And do what we can with things as they are.

Will I be okay?

My life is pretty good overall. Would it be okay without a kid? I still don’t know. The neighbourhood lady scares me, but I have lots of friends and some family and I’m sure I can make sure that I have a life outside of an immediate family of my own. And I genuinely like doing things on my own. I feel like I am maybe only sad when I think of how others see me. When couples ask me in shock if I’m travelling alone and if I get lonely. Like it’s a sad state of affairs. It mostly is not.

Regardless, here are some tips I use to try and stay out of the comparison trap:

  • Limit social media. Like for real. And when you find yourself feeling envious, or jealous, repeat this mantra to yourself: it is what it is. Go back to the old serenity prayer of having the serenity to accept the things you cannot change;  courage to change the things you can; and wisdom to know the difference.
  • Try to figure out what you really want out of the situation that you’re comparing yourself to. What is it telling you about what you want, or need? If you see someone travelling seemingly for free while they blog, what is it about that that appeals to you? The freedom, the fame, seeing new places. Is there another way to do that?
  • If something looks too good to be true, remind yourself that you are mainly seeing the highlights. If you really became a travel blogger, imagine what it would be like to have to write about everywhere you go. To have no set business hours or benefits and no ability to take a break to be sick without losing mucho dinero. To have to plug into a cafe in Thailand and spend hours setting up the perfect post. To have to take every picture with the view of likes and perfect instagram/theme composition. You might not feel as free as you thought you would. You might only get to see the bits of the countries that your financial sponsor wants you to. There’s always a less sexy side that you need to take with the good.
  • Replace jealousy and comparison with action. If you’re annoyed that someone else is publishing their book and feel like a failure for not writing one of your own. Write one! Do it! Do it anyway…always!
  • Gratitude works. Shifting your focus to things that are good in your life helps to reduce the sting of comparisons by reminding you of what you are thankful for.

I’m still on this track of trying to figure out how to shake up my dating life. Introduce some new ways of meeting people. Ideas welcomed!!!

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How will I find my Mr. Right, when he probably lives on Mars?

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I’m back! Refreshed in the sense that I enjoyed a good month off without the self-imposed pressure of deadlines on writing. And of course without the constraints of my day job. But man, when I travel, I travel hard. So getting back into a less rigorous routine back home and settling into summer is also a welcome state of affairs.

Travel always brings me back to my best self. It takes away all of the routines that almost become who I am, and force me smack dab into the middle of my life. Focused on responding to situations in front of me as opposed to worrying about everything else.  I toured three countries in South America, which is full of empanadas and sexy Spanish. And also home to poverty unlike what I’m used to seeing back home. While I enjoyed the travel as usual, there really did feel like something was missing this time around. In the midst of a particularly bumpy plane ride, I wished I had a hand to hold onto. As I explored the city on my first day alone and ate one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, I desperately wanted someone there who knew exactly what it tasted like and how colourful but dirty the city was. I didn’t want to be alone and I came to the conclusion that maybe my “I need to get out of here alone” travel days are over for the time being. I actually comforted myself by saying that the next time around I will be with “my partner in crime.”

But now we get back to the situation of how indeed does one find a worthy life partner. Of course I can travel with others that I love that are not my partner. But I really am craving romantic roadtrips and sex in foreign locales. And that good old hand to hold. I’m lonely, which is a relatively new state of affairs for me. I’m often alone, but these days I actually feel lonely. Disconnected from the rest of the world and the normal things and relationships that people have in their lives that I do not.

But Men are actually from Mars, so how can I find one?

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But men, for me (and maybe it’s through the lens I see them through), continue to disappoint and appear to be living on a totally different planet. On day two of the tour I decided to strike up a conversation with a guy from Greece who had been very aggressive in our initial meeting and didn’t seem to be making friends easily. He was unpleasant to talk to but I made an effort. Somehow the conversation got to working out, and he asked me what I did to work out. I said I like to lift weights. He responded without a beat, “Oh no. No weights for you. You need cardio.” It quickly progressed to him telling me that I needed to do more cardio to lose weight. He was worried about my health if I didn’t lose weight! And he saw no issue with telling me this.

Now I know you don’t know what I look like, but I range between a size S and M (North American sizes), I have blood pressure on the lower end of things, a resting heart rate lower than most athletes and run marathons on occasion. I am by most accounts (as far as any indicator I’ve checked) healthy. Yet this dude took it upon himself to project some unrealistic and asinine view of what my weight should be. It reminded me that Europeans often have a double standard for women. I was reminded of my friend’s husband from Spain who once told her that “women shouldn’t ever fart or let it known that they sometimes have the urge to go number 2.” Give me a fucking break.

Then I met an Italian guy, who said he was looking for a smart woman. I said “Oh that’s great!” And he followed with “Yeah, it’s good to be smart in the kitchen and all.” So yah…the patriarchy is alive and strong in Europe (based on this mini sample size of course). Taking out a whole other continent of men that I thought may be out there if I just ventured outside of my city.

The happy ending in love feels a bit Cliche

One of the books I read while travelling was “What I was doing while you were breeding.” I really saw a lot of myself in the main character. But at the end of the book, as seems to be usual in memoirs, everything gets tied up in a perfect bow. Some friend of a friend introduces her to someone at exactly the time when she feels like time is up on the whole kids thing. And they get married and have two kids. Perfect little bow. It pisses me off that there aren’t more endings written about that are not so clean but still okay.

Shake it off, shake it up

I got back to work on a Monday (after a week of rest) and by Wednesday felt like I couldn’t stand the monotony any longer. I realized that I really need to shake things up in my life, but I have no idea what to do to make things happen. I had a friend once say that you should change one thing at a time until you are happy. I’m trying to think on that  micro level, but I keep defaulting to thinking of everything being so big and overwhelming. I messaged a bunch of friends asking for suggestions for shaking things up, and one suggested that I get false eyelashes! Not the kind of suggestion I was looking for. The last thing I want to do is perpetuate this idea that women need to have long and lush eyelashes to feel pretty. There are so many things that we, as women, do to keep up this notion that women are here for the enjoyment of men. I laugh at the thought of a guy paying 180 dollars to don a set of fake eyelashes that fall out in a few weeks. It’s just so ridiculous. But maybe I need to start playing the game a bit more. Acknowledge, respectfully, that men really are from Mars and we are from Venus. Maybe I’ll read that book next…

Any tips for shaking things up that doesn’t involve hundreds of dollars of upgrades to my appearance?

Why can’t I just trust the universe already?

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There’s a lot of talk these days about trusting the Universe to give you what you need in this life. That once you relinquish control and just let things happen in the least resistant way, that the things that are right for your life will settle. Sort of like a new wave version of “if it’s meant to be, it will be,” or “everything happens for a reason.”

But surely there must be some element of work on our parts. Of thinking and planning and hoping for what we want in this life. If not, is there really any difference between this and the path of least resistance? In any case, I’ve been having a really hard time accepting that the Universe has my back. Of doing things and hoping for things but letting go of the outcome. It’s why I’m writing a blog about all of the massive amounts of work and mental strain and planning that’s going into my next phase of life. But let me tell you, I’m exhausted by it all, and I’m not really enjoying too much of it. Instead of living in my life, moment to moment, I’m trying to imagine a future life and what that will feel like. I’m missing out on the pure joy of just living and breathing and being alive in this world.

So I’m taking a big trip. I’m calling it my 40 trip, because despite the fact that I’m currently 39 it’s technically my 40th year on this planet (OMG). I feel like once I get this one out of my system, I can kind of settle into a next phase of thinking and see what form that takes. I know, setting up another deadline! But I just need a break. Maybe I’ll come back and the decision to have a kid on my own will be obvious. Or I’ll meet a handsome stranger on the plane and the rest will be history. Or maybe I’ll just decide that I like the free and unencumbered travelling so much that I want it to continue indefinitely.

Round 2 of egg freezing

The last few weeks continued to be crazy. I did my second full round of egg freezing and the numbers were markedly better. It was nice the second time around because I knew what to expect so I was a lot less stressed. The hormones still hit me like a freight train. I felt nauseous and irritable and sad a lot of the time. I had stopped trying to manage my weight through it all so I surely (though I didn’t step on the scale) gained a bunch of weight, and my stomach bloated to full-term pregnancy portions. Getting dressed in the morning was the most depressing time ever. Nothing fit, everything felt itchy and tight.

This time 12 eggs turned into 9, for a combined total of 15. One away from the “perfect” number according to my doctor. Based on some study in Spain or some other European country. I’m still surprised by how little research goes into the female body. I read that most historical research and dosing instructions etc. in healthcare were focussed on men. So you’ll often hear from docs, “we just don’t know” or “very little is known” on such-and-such female-related condition, certainly related to fertility. But it’s heating up (research follows money). One nurse tells me that there’s research literally coming out every day in the field. Impossible to keep up. I feel like we’ll look back one day on what was known now and laugh at our pure ignorance on all things related to this topic.

But I’m done for the time being…phewf. I feel accomplished and like I’ve really done everything I could be expected to do at this stage. Meaning I can now take a break and focus on other things.

I finally felt brave enough to don my tight pants and head out on a date. I decided to share the whole egg freezing thing with him and he was seriously impressed. And it also seemed like he’d never even considered the whole concept before. Another reminder for me that men just aren’t forced to think about reproduction as much as women have to if they ever want to have a family. Not necessarily fair, but that’s life.

All of this is something I’ll stress about and share with you in a few weeks when I’m back. Ciao for now!

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