Some ways of thinking have perplexed me my entire life. One of them is the way people need to “type” people around them.

“He doesn’t seem like your type.”

“They don’t look like they go together.”

“What does he/she see in her/him?”

It baffles me how we think we know stuff like this at a glance. What we look like can be fleeting, who we are is a constant discovery. Beautiful exteriors can hold beauty, or ugly, or emptiness inside. Surely the decision of whether or not to give someone our attention is worth the time to excavate some of what they hold beneath the surface.

I’ve met people who appeared to be physically stunning at first  who became uglier the more I learned of them, and average looking people who became so mesmerizing that to this day I can recall the flecks in their eyes, the tiny chip of a tooth, the way that they laughed and most of all the way they made me feel when I was with them.

I’ve known those who gave much to the world and sacrificed greatly for others who weren’t willing (or never learned how) to invest in a personal relationship. There are those with the gift of  beautiful words and dramatic performance who did not develop the heart and truth to breathe it into reality.

They were hollow.

Then there are the sleepers, the “type” who bring who they are to the table, and when they do it matters not at all that every head didn’t turn when they walked into the room.

What matters is that your heart recognized a master at living and giving.

What we truly need is to be (and enjoy being with) the “type” of person who is willing to grow, learn and invest time and attention into ourselves and others. To tell our stories, to hold hands and offer shoulders upon which to cry our tears, to travel and discover, uplift, laugh and enjoy.

We are supposed to excavate our hearts and take the time to discover what blends beautifully with what we uncover in one another. I don’t get the “types” and the checklists and the requirements we push on others without holding ourselves to the same standards.

A priceless jewel discovered by the untutored eye is still priceless. In the hands of a master, in just the right setting, it will be breath-taking.

As will the hearts we each hold within us.


Rules of Engagement

I shall document the days that follow, not for future generations, but for the men and women who now find themselves in a similar circumstance as the kind I am facing now.

Fortunately, I have friends of both genders and a variety of ages to educate me in the changes that have occurred in the world of…dating.

Being removed from the dating scene for 29 years by the bonds of holy matrimony, I kept myself under house arrest for the two years that followed my leaving to make sure I had sorted through the contents of my heart and mind. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t perpetuate any behavior that would turn my life into an endless Ground Hog Day.

It’s a fact that no matter what else changes, you take yourself where ever you go.

So when I told my friends I was no longer afraid to let myself date, I got plenty of advice. The first of my three besties has been on a campaign to get me to create an online dating profile. She even went as far as to create a fake profile to show me who was out there, and I was astonished to see they all fell into one of three categories…

Young enough to raise, too old to care for themselves, and are you kidding me.

I got as far as a user name and password, which made her very proud of me, and then I said, “Oh hell no”. She did still give me massive credit for going that far so I’m good, and she did teach me a lot of acronyms that made my hair stand on end and pulled the plug on 99% of the sites I saw. She keeps me in the know.

My second bestie suggested church groups for singles which made me want to hug her so hard because she loves me so much that she wasn’t even thinking how stressful that would be for the church-going fellow. I’m a bit too expansive, too open-minded, and too much of a seeker to be anything but a calamity in that type of a hook-up. I’ve studied all religions and attach myself to none. What I know and experience spiritually is always open to questions and new knowledge as it is revealed. She is such a kind and amazing person, I wouldn’t ruin her cred by taking her up on that. She keeps me grounded.

I’m pretty sure God nodded her head and agreed with me when I made this call.

My third bestie pretty much rolls with whatever comes and expects me to keep her up to date and let her know when I figure this shit out. She’s been with me through multiple acts of God (floods), the loss of our homes (floods), and loss of our spouses (death and divorce). She doesn’t give advice, we have round table discussions, and I venture forth and report my findings. She keeps me real.

Apparently I need to update my competence to match my confidence when it comes to today’s dating practices. My DIL was willing to take me dancing when I wanted to go but had to school me on the new rules of never leaving your drink unattended, what it means now when a guy buys you a drink, and how some kinds of dancing would cause me to possibly injure the other party for going where he wasn’t invited. Needless to say, we decided not to go there.

Whew. I am perplexed as how to continue, but I will persevere.

I have considered the idea of creating a site that combines youth and experience, romance and wild-ish, intelligence and laughter, with a healthy dose of reality. Conversation, fun, adventure and a touch of drama where appropriate.

There must be others like me out there saying “WTF?”.

I should start a podcast, take it to the people. There is a world between the unsolicited dick pics, DTFs and the graveyard shift. I know it in my heart. My people are out there.

I must find them.


The Refinery

Are you done? Are you where you want to be? Have you given all you have to offer?

I’m not. I haven’t. And it totally pumps me up.

We all have these things we think about doing, being or giving. We whisper them if we speak of them at all, because we tell ourselves that we’re too old, it’s too late, it seems too egotistical to offer what we know through our experiences. What a selfish, cowardly way of thinking. We don’t want to put ourselves out there for somebody to flay. We’re protecting ourselves while telling others to live large, honest and brave.

I don’t have a doctorate in anything, I have a business degree. But I’m out in the fucking field just like you. Every single day brings a new thought. Do we date or wait? Do we spend or save? Do we change jobs or stay where we are? Are we still in that relationship because there is still something to learn or are we just cowards? Do we drop the fancy bullshit and show who we are or keep playing the game that leaves us lonely no matter who we’re with?

We’re not too old to start over if we’re starting over. Every day we wake up breathing is just one more day in the refinery burning the gold of us to the surface to be skimmed off and offered to the world. It’s one more day to forge ourselves into a blade that cuts through our own bullshit to live a life that offers value to those around us.

I listened to a Gary Vee podcast today where he suggested (quite strongly) that everyone spend some time in a retirement home talking to those who lived there. Not just because it’s a decent thing to do, but because you will learn from them what regret looks like, or conversely, satisfaction. I was horrified to realize that I was a walking retirement home myself, full of regrets just waiting to happen if I didn’t say, “screw this” and get my ass in gear.

We’ve got priorities to set, things to learn and shit to do people.

At least I do. This refinery is open and active.

Are you in?

Full Circle

In the beginning there was empathy and compassion throughout my being. I felt the pain of those around me, cried tears over their hurts and became distraught if I upset anyone for any reason. I wanted everyone to like me, be happy, have only good things happen to them. I knew that if I were in charge of the world, I could make everything be wonderful for everyone.

Then I was promoted to my first management position and got stomped into the mud. The first couple of times I had to let someone go, I was so upset at ending their ability to provide for their family that they comforted me.

“It’s okay,” they would tell me as they hugged and patted me, “it’s not your fault that I keep calling in and people catch me at the fair or the movies or the mall.” Or, “You told me 3 months ago this was going to happen if I didn’t start showing up on time, please don’t be upset”.

After many disappointments and illusions lost, I turned to the dark side.

If I could not love and care these people into happy lives, then by god I would force them into it with my great and mighty authority. I developed the look, the tone, the walk and the strategy to make almost everything go the way it needed to go for everyone to get what they said they wanted. I was loved and hated with equal passion through those years. I got the degree, read the books, watched the videos and took to heart the lessons from (technically the greatest professional of all time)…my mother.

I knew shit.

The love for, and priority of my son’s upbringing caused my decision to step away. During that glorious hiatus, I learned a very valuable lesson that has carried me through the stages of the past few years.

I don’t need to be somebody to be somebody.

In the resting place of caring for my family and being responsible for only the work I did,  I began to learn that power over self trumps any fictitious power I thought I had over anyone else’s life choices. Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t root deeply enough. When I stepped back into management, I did something extremely foolish.

I picked the world up again, and carried it with me.

Being the stubborn, obstinate and contrary person that I obviously am, it took a major shake up for me to let the fuck go. People have the right and responsibility to earn and learn their own rewards and lessons. I do not have the right to “save” them from themselves or take their potential wisdom away just to make myself feel better by making their lives easier. There’s always something to face, that next thing, and if they are not strong enough how can they win?

Enabling is not empowering. It is the exact opposite.

Honestly, it is so hard for me not to jump in when I shouldn’t. It’s just as hard not to let others jump in and save me when I know I need to feel the pain of something. But I know myself well, and try to respect that others deserve the same chances to grow in the face of resistance. Which is the only way any muscle is built.

So after all these years, I have finally found my way back to the heart of me that empathizes, hurts and cries for another without stealing the struggle needed to grow strong. With some spine, hard-learned wisdom, and the ability to support without invading another’s choices I am gaining much needed ground in my own peace of mind.

*Just don’t ask for my thoughts on a matter unless you’re ready to hear it.

*disclaimer =)




The Player

Emotional manipulation really chaps my ass. To me it’s just half a notch down from the tie for loser slot number one of physical or verbal/emotional abuse of one human being to another.

It’s such a hard boundary for me now that for a while I was over zealous about not allowing anyone to know how I felt or when I was struggling. I was so horrified by my own experiences that I couldn’t let my people be my people when I needed them.

I have since learned the difference between allowing love and using love for gain.

To be fair, (and I struggle mightily with this topic) it is a sometimes subconscious skill learned when a person gets what they want by crying, or whining, or weaving a sorrowful tale of childhood, or mommy or daddy weren’t what I needed, life’s been hard on me…

blah, blah, blah.

You don’t know my story and I don’t know yours, but I do know this. There comes a point in every life where you are old enough to choose who you are going to be. You had a bad childhood? Decide to be the parent you always wanted. Belittled and bullied growing up? Make the decision to uplift and protect those weaker than you.

You decide whether to perpetuate or change your family legacy. You. Decide.

Here’s the hard thing, the thing I personally struggle with every damn day. I can’t save you. Nobody can save you but you. You may not know you’re being played the first time, but after that baby, you are a supporting character in the show of their sob story.

I know these things because I’ve done them myself. 

You’ll despise yourself for it while you keep the game in motion. You’ll rationalize how they just need a little more love, a little more time, a little more understanding. You’ll keep giving them what gratifies them and feed the monster that feeds their weakness and your own.

You’ll tell yourself that you gave everything, you understood, you were supportive, you were loving and gracious and forgiving. You will say you deserved better than the stomping you took from this person. Originally, yes you did. Yes, I did. But did I deserve the injuries I sustained? The damage I had to repair? The ass-kicking I took emotionally?

You bet I did, and nobody is taking that lesson away from me.

My only hope in writing this is that someone, somewhere will stop and wonder for just long enough, if they are allowing themselves to be manipulated instead of loved. To ask themselves honestly if they are actively helping in the injuries to their own hearts. To consider that maybe they are worth more than the life of involuntary servitude that they have given themselves over to.

We each have such heart, beauty, love and courage inside of us. Please see it. Feel it.

Pull yourself free and give who you truly are to us. 

We need you.