July 28, 2006

Rori Changes My Life

I was just beginning to think, maybe it's all too much work and maybe the girls are losing interest and maybe it's not worth the effort. But then we met last night and it was fabulous! We had a great dinner (thank you, Heather), the ladies were their lovely selves, we met a new delightful new woman Roseanne, and then we had a speaker, Coach Rori (www.CoachRori.com) and My Life Changed.

How often do we have those treasured moments, if we don't live in fear of them, when someone teaches us something that shakes us to the core?!? Rori did that. Her idea is that we have female energy and men have male energy but that we don't honor it. We women are so used to being powerful and assertive and taking charge that we forget to let the men be men. OK, it sounds like "the rules" or evangelical Christianity where the women are submissive and the men are "in charge" but it's not. It's about not doing so much work, sitting back and allowing men to rise to the occasion, allowing men to enjoy pursuing us, allowing ourselves to be pursued.

I think of how I have learned to be like a man at work, how women sales people come in and the women apologize for intruding and the men never do and the men clearly ask for time with my boss and the women again say how they know he must be busy and they could come back and how I learned to act like a man, not apologizing or explaining myself but just acting tough and in control and without feelings.

So, being "womanly" doesn't mean giving up my brains or my ideas or my needs, but sitting back and being soft and sweet and feminine. Boy, did I fight with that idea - it's almost like Rori was speaking another language and, at first, I couldn't comprehend what she was saying, that her words didn't make sense to me. Then, she described how we work sooooo hard to create and keep a relationship and I thought of all the times when guys didn't act like my picture of how I wanted them to be and I would sort of subtly coerce or urge or convince them that my way was better. "Wouldn't it be better it" or "Have you thought about doing it this way?" or any other way of making them "see the light." The thought of relaxing, not talking so much, allowing silences in which the guy has the time to speak - ah, that sounded right.

So tonight I called a guy who had called me several times and I hadn't returned his calls - I wanted to practice what Rori had taught. I took a few deep breaths, sat on my patio and back in the chair, and decided to let him have room to reveal himself to me, let him find me appealing by my lack of aggression, and allow silences without trying to fill the time. And it was a delightful conversation during which I learned that he was a kind, intuitive, thoughtful guy who really listened and remembered what I said. When there was a pause or silence, I didn't rush to fill it, but waited and then he talked and I listened. I had been afraid that I would be a shrinking violet and passive and dumb, but I really felt calm. I wasn't trying to convince him that I was fabulous, I just allowed myself to respond to him and speak my mind and be real. I did my best to be in the moment, just listening and not thinking, and it was a peaceful, fun, and actually enriching conversation. I felt better about myself when it ended and, unlike the other times with other guys, didn't spend the next hour or so second guessing about what I should have said or wish I had been more charming or wondering how he felt about me. Rori had said that, if we relate on a feeling level, we would attract a guy who felt a pull toward us and clearly he wants to meet me and said he felt that we had already met and that he was "enchanted" by me. I was not worn out by trying to be something or someone, I just felt better for having spoken to him. Golly, I just can't wait to read Rori's book!

July 23, 2006

What I learned on my summer vacation...

My best friend came to visit from Georgia. Her daughter, husband, and three children came to visit from Mexico City. We are related by relations, in that she and I married brothers and our daughters are cousins. Hers is the family that included me in their holidays all the years that my own family didn't. She is the epitome of the definition of a friend - someone who knows me well and deeply and loves me anyway. We can be apart for months or years and then, when we are together, feel as if we had never parted. And I might be one of the only people in her life who loves her despite her quirks and never criticizes or tries to change her. I just cherish her and do my best to let her know she is loved. As she does for me.

Strangely for me, I really had no plans for these two weeks, except to see my visitors whenever I could and to relax. I've always felt more comfortable making plans, organizing what I would do tomorrow or on the weekend or next week. But for many years, I have known that living in the present, fully participating in each moment, is the way I wanted to live. It seems the only authentic way to live, to be present in the present. But I've always worried and fretted and feared and been anxious about what might come, how would I handle impending difficulties, what would I do if? So I chose to live almost each minute and each day of my vacation without plans, giving up control of my activities and time, and just be there, fully listening and hearing and seeing. At first, I had to be quite conscious of doing this, being aware of when my thoughts drifted away from what was happening and bringing myself back to the moment. After a while, it was easier and I rarely thought about the future and possible situations. We had many, many delightful moments together, my friend and the children and cousins, and I was right there, all of me, to enjoy them.

I also realized that, when I hold still and be still and quiet, truths come to me. Tough to face truths like: That I have stresses in my life but most I create myself, like when I expect my house to always be clean or that I should do the work of three at my office. That I create my own expectations and that I should be kinder to myself. That I victimize myself when I say things like "my job is difficult" or "there are no nice guys out there" or "I work too hard" or "I'm not thin enough" or "I don't have enough friends." And grateful truths, like: I am strong, I am healthy, I can make my own decisions, I can create my own standards for myself, that I have a roof over my head, that my daughter is happy, that I have no control over anyone else, and that I can create whatever life and joys and happiness I choose.

It's been a wonderful, quiet, joyful, and delicious two weeks. I didn't spend today, the last day of my vacation, anguishing over what I will find in my office tomorrow. Instead, I went to brunch with four generations of the women in my friend's family. We ate and talked and shared and laughed and I looked around, thinking how lucky I was to be part of this family. And I was there, all of me, fully.

July 17, 2006

A date as a business transaction...

Auntie Sharon is still visiting. We were married to brothers the same year, had baby girls the same year, divorced the same year, and lived together after that. We lived through our wild and crazy (and newly divorced) late 20s together... So we floated in my pool yesterday on two rafts - I held onto the side of her raft to keep us close and we just talked on and on, like we had never parted and she had not moved to Georgia. On a whim. But that's another blog.

She's a hypnotherapist with a gift for it. She can take a phobia or fear or whatever is keeping a person from succeeding in life and take it away. I was taught from my mom, from an early age, that I should fear my dad's anger, that I should keep him from getting pissed off because his anger was something to be dreaded. He really didn't do anything except withdraw, more than usual, and give me that look that said "you are unacceptable to me, you did something bad, I don't love you anymore." So on one hand I am a successful woman who runs a business, has raised an emotionally healthy and happy daughter, is financially independent, and have friends I cherish. On the other hand, sometimes I am intimidated by men and authority figures - and this tends to erode my usual confidence and makes me act like a scared seven-year-old. So we did a session about that and now I feel strong and powerful.

Among other things, she said that dating is like a business venture. Although we are powerful women, we need to allow the man to be "the man," especially on the first date. Those of you reading "Calling in the One" will know that we can be powerful but we can still be a woman who allows our guy to show his best hand. A compliment makes him taller, a dig makes him shrink. It's a relationship and that requires tact and kindness and effort. Men have feelings too.

Oh, the business side. Sharon says that the first date is the guy trying to sell himself. He picks the place, pays for it, holds the doors open, and treats us in a way that makes us want to see him again. Or not, but it's up to us to evaluate his performance. It's up to us on the first date to learn as much as we can about him to determine if we want a second date. And, if he has done well, it's up to us to let him know we appreciate his efforts. And the second date is our time to show him how fabulous we are and that he would be better off for having us in his life. This isn't about "The Rules" and playing games and not being ourselves - it just allowing each of us to be the best we can be. And having the other person feel better for having been in our presence.

Whatcha think? Isn't Auntie fun to have in town?

July 15, 2006

My first real date in a year....

So I went out with him, the guy from the Singles Travel Meeting. He showed up exactly on time, nicely dressed in a pressed and expensive-looking shirt and jeans. I looked at him and thought, "I could have a rebound affair with him, just f*** his brains out and throw him away, just use him and abuse him, which would, of course, make me feel better about life and ready to really find Mr. Right.

We went to the Santa Susana Cantina, that little dive tucked into the foot of the mountains where you park in the dirt next to the neighbor's trailer, walk past the motorcycles and guys talking about them, sit outside at picnic tables, and listen to the live band. He is a bit of a non-stop talker, with that Aussie accent and clear blue eyes and he rarely responded to what I said but chattered on and on about his life and travels and experiences.

So this is what I learned: He has two children ages fifteen and nineteen, works for himself as a stone mason so that he could be on hand for all of his kids' activities, spent his life before marriage and kids travelling about the world on a motorcycle and only working when he ran out of money, doesn't make much money now or care about it and spends what he makes and more, used to drink a lot but now doesn't because his doctor told him bad things about his liver, will do anything adventurous anytime, still rides a motorcycle and drives an old car, and plans to die with nothing left. AND: He likes to go to strip bars and get lap dances. And the real clincher: "Everyone knows" that, in three years when his youngest child is eighteen, he plans to leave the states and resume his adventures traveling in foreign places, living off the land and taking whatever jobs he can find. You can leave your friends and kids, I asked? Yep, without a doubt, mate, he replied.

The more he talked, the less I wanted him to be my rebound guy. And then I realized that I didn't have the heart, or the lack of heart, to make anybody be that guy that I just f*** and throw away. Maybe I don't have to use and abuse someone to get past my past - I can just move on and be open to new adventures, close to home and without leaving my loved ones.

July 12, 2006

I think I'm right.

I've had this theory all along, that meeting online is the opposite of meeting someone in one of those real-life situations. You know the kind, where you're at an event and just start talking to someone and then you laugh and look at him thinking, "wow he's cute and I'm having fun and maybe I'd like to go out with him." You're just being yourself, talking about whatever, and enjoying him, realizing that you could really continue to enjoy him and you'd like the chance. Contrast that with serial browsing, sending a wink or coming up with some clever email, all the time knowing that he might not write you back or you might say something he might misconstrue or maybe he's just a player and you don't fit his ideal-woman scenario.

I had one of those real-life experiences tonight and it was good. I went to a mixer put on by WOW's own Bev to encourage singles to travel or at least meet a new travelling companion. She did a great job, stayed perky and on-target, even was kind to the one really, really annoying guest. I really wanted to go but my day got out of hand and I almost didn't make it but I really wanted to support Bev and maybe meet another nice women to invite to WOW. I did go up to the one guy she had tried to set me up with and found him to really quite odd, not in a good way. Nice, but too odd. So I left and the cute Australian guy was waiting near my car and asked "Are you going on the cruise?" I said yes, and he said, "do you like jazz?" and I said yes and he said, "Let's go listen to some." And I said yes. It was soooooo easy, just being there and being real and not worrying about how he might take something wrong and not return my email. He was right there in front of me, smiling and talking about the things he likes to do and I thought, "I'm right, this is the authentic way to meet someone new." I was happy that he showed interest in me, I enjoyed his company, and I felt good about the whole experience.

Who knows where this might go but I thought, this guy would be good for me, no matter how long it lasts. He's upbeat, has lots of interests that would be fun for me, he's intelligent, and clearly he's fun. It just felt good, quite different from the online browsing, waiting, thinking too hard about what to say - I was just me and it was good. I vote for more real-life encounters.

July 8, 2006

Hot, hot, hot....

Ah, summer. It shouldn't be 100 degrees at 5:pm, it just shouldn't be. We're still in town, we WOW ladies, except Jessica on an island in Washington, having that light bulb moment that reminded her that she works too hard, moves too fast, and is determined to slow down, dance more, breathe more deeply, and live more fully.

I have company from Georgia. Auntie Sharon - we married brothers the same year, had a baby girl the same year, divorced the same year, and lived together after that. She's that very special person who knows me almost as well as I know myself, sometimes she knows me better than I know myself, and accepts and loves me deeply. I've never forgiven her for moving suddenly to Georgia to escape her family and problems, but I'm so happy to see her. I picked her up at the airport and cried. We went to her 39th high school pre-reunion last night - people my age, talking about high school and what's happened since then. Quite a reality shock, realizing that I really am that old and have lived that long. I can't have regrets, too self-destructive, so I choose to appreciate who I am, what I have, and live in the moment. As much as I can.

Five of us WOW ladies met for breakfast to see our Harriet, who has endured a few medical procedures and has missed a few meetings. She looks good, but not all is well yet. Rachel's daughter, the Army interrogator, returned to Iraj, so there is that worry, but Rachel looks good and seems happy. She has that beautiful contagious smile. Sue is dating someone who seems like the guy she has hoped to meet. Clearly he adores her, of course, and is a little anxious to make sure she doesn't get away, but it sounds like she is handling herself well - and enjoying him immensely. Lauri reminded us about the guy who invited her over for dinner, showed her the bedroom, and, when things got hot and heavy and she decided, Oh what the hell and asked him if he had protection, he said "honey, we're not going there yet!" She was surprised and shocked and, true to form, came up with "well, do you have coffee?"

What's the message with all this?!? I watched a Sex and The City, the one where Big got engaged to the "stick figure with no soul" and the girls sat around talking about The Way We Were and how Robert "Hubbell" Redford married the "simple girl with straight hair" instead of Barbara K-k-k-katy Streisand, because she was "too complicated and has wild, curly hair." Carrie says, after seeing Big coming from his engagement party, that we are like Katy, wild and free, and need a man who doesn't want to tame us but knows that our unique "wildness" will be a blessing. You know how it feels when you are with a guy and it's OK, but how different it is when a guy really sees your quirkiness and the energy that is only you and not only enjoys it but it makes him joyful? That's who I am waiting for. We all are.

July 2, 2006

Muses on serial browsing....

Just thinking about online dating, that way we meet potential mates by sitting in front of a computer screen and browsing. How can we capture our essence, that which makes us unique, in a few written words and a picture or two? How can we judge another by what words they use to entice us?. For our generation, this is new and strange territory. We are used to meeting people in person, striking up a conversation, feeling a sense of hope when we meet someone with whom we connect. We are less social people now, more into instant decision-making, more into throwing away people without really knowing who they are. A recent "Ask Amy" described it like this: "It is so easy to 'click through' people online that men and women develop this mentality in actual life. Everbody is looking for a 'connection.' And connections, it is commonly thought, happen quickly or they don't happen at all. There seems to be an idea that - no matter what - a better match (your 'soul mate') is just a click away."

We don't give others a chance and they don't stop long enough to allow us to reveal ourselves. How many profiles say "it's the chemistry - I'll know it in a minute when we meet." What happened to learning about a person's values and character? It's just that "chemistry," that connection we make so superficially when someone we meet seems to fit some pre-ordained idea of what would be a "match" for us, a snapshot of who we decided long ago would be our "prince charming." I'm sounding angry, sorry, but I wonder if, like other trends in society, we will find some sort of middle ground and become more sociable, allowing time for relationships to develop and grow and flourish. I relate it to a rose, how a quick look at a rose bush might only reveal thorns and its craggly limbs. We might miss the beauty of the flower and its subtle scent by seeing only a fraction of it. And a rose must open slowly, in its own time, or it will not achieve its potential beauty. A relationship that is rushed and hurried will wither and die, rather than become something lovely and life-giving.