November 30, 2007

Men, communication, and Keri

Creating a relationship is like painting a picture. Each of the members of the relationship paint a part of the picture and add or subtract to the picture each time they have an encounter. Their mood, their behavior, their interactions all add to the colors and scene of the picture. The Wow group is that way, a continuously changing scene, full of bright colors and lots of motion, representing who is at a particular meeting and the personalities of those present. We had a Wow meeting last night and the picture was full of pastels, soft and easy on the eyes, lovely to view and creating a mood of fun and warmth for all.

Our guest was Keri Newell of When I booked her to speak, I was impressed by her enthusiasm. The joy she feels for her work shined through, even on the phone. In person, she was the living model of beauty, full of life, a good listener, and a smart and compassionate teacher. She joined us for our potluck dinner, sharing stories of her life and listening to ours with an understanding ear. She was like an old friend, and one who brings joy and spirit to every moment.

Keri is a dating coach and I'll bet she is really good at what she does, helping men and women to be more successful in their quest for companionship and love. She spoke about the differences between men and women, how men think and focus on one thing at a time and women have "diffuse awareness," seeing the whole picture at once. We've all heard about the woman wearing some fabulous lingerie but unable to take the man's attention from the game on TV, an example of how we try to communicate with our guy at a time when he is unable to take it all in and then feel hurt when it doesn't work. So, to communicate with a man, we must understand how he thinks. How simple is that?

Not so easy, really, especially for us women who have jobs where we hold power and are in our 'masculine' and then have to switch to our 'feminine' in our romantic lives. It's not that we have to give up our power or be passive, but we need to allow our men to be the providers and protectors they long to be, to 'take care of us' even though they know we are perfectly able to do it ourselves. After days of being in charge, giving orders, and keeping our employees on track, we are supposed to not "suggest, teach, advise, remind, or train" our guys at all! We are supposed to allow them to rise to the ultimate maleness by giving admiration, which is verbal, and appreciation, which is in our actions. And we all know that men love to solve problems, that when we share with them our troubles or vent about the day's issues, they immediately want to "fix" it by giving advice. Keri taught us to let them know, very nicely and kindly, that what we'll be needing from them is a compassionate ear and some hugs or cuddly only. And to do it without an attitude or body language that suggests anything but courtesy and kindness.

And for fun, Keri taught us a flirting technique. How many times are we in a room, like in line at Starbucks or picking out fruit in the market, and we see a cute guy we'd just love to meet and we're paralyzed? Her suggestion was to make eye contact for five seconds (one-one thousand, two-two thousand) and at three, we are to smile and hold the smile. Of course, the guy will look around, thinking you are checking out someone else, but then realize it's him you're interested in. We're to wait for him to make that move to meet us, no matter how around-the-block he does it and then respond to his conversation. Since some men think that rejection will cause them to stop breathing and melt into the floor, this is a brave move for them and they will likely start the conversation with something inane or stupid, but it's our job to go with it and be kind and wait for the scary moment for him to pass until he is able to breathe again and speak intelligently.

So the meeting was a delight. The Wow ladies are so different and diverse, but we come together and share a common bond, being single ladies in our fifties trying to navigate life and dating, greatly enjoying the pleasure of our women friends. Keri was a bright light, a lovely example of a woman learning to know herself and grow and then to impart this knowledge to other women. She teaches in a way that is easy to absorb and understand and I'd love to take her six-week seminar. She gave to us freely and enthusiastically and we are all better women for having the privilege of meeting her. Thanks, Keri!

November 21, 2007

Movies and real life.

There's a movie I've been wanting to see for months. I read about it months before it came out and I've been watching for it and waiting and I saw it tonight, probably the last night it would be in the Valley. While waiting for the movie to come out, I've been going through a bit of an emotional upheaval, dealing with some long repressed old stuff, like peeling the onion and finally getting to the core.

What brought this up was that I had been feeling angry, like mad at people who are close to me, and I was surprised. I'm not an angry person and people often comment on my calmness. So I sought the counsel of a therapist who knows me well. She took me on a imaginary journey to a place where I could feel safe and I realized that I never expressed my anger at things that happened as a child, that I have held it in all these years, like I feared what would happen if I really felt all those emotions. There was more to it than this, but suffice it to say that I feel like a load was lifted from me, that the scared little child inside me who often interferes with my daily life has been quieted and that I'm feeling strong and confident and peaceful.

So what does this have to do with the movie? I saw "Lars and the Real Girl" and it was amazing. (I'm going to give away some of the plot here, so stop reading if you don't want to know.) Basically, this very shy and withdrawn man buys a life-sized plastic woman and treats her as if she is real. He falls in love with her and the townspeople, one by one, go along with this delusion. Turns out that he used this doll to help him face the sadness he felt as a child, losing his mother as a baby and being raised by a heartbroken and withdrawn father. Gradually, he was able to let her go and return, or come for the first time, to real life and allow himself to face his longings and feelings.

So the moral here? Neither Lars nor I realized we were carrying around unresolved feelings from so long ago, so I imagine there are more like us out there, wondering why we do what we do and why our relationships don't succeed. I just want you to know that finally facing these feelings was a life-giving experience, very uplifting and positive, both in the movie and in my life. So courage to all of you. Cry and laugh and let it all happen and see who you really are, under it all. I believe you've love what you find.

Being grateful.

It's that time of year to take some moments to think about what we have to be thankful about. We're pretty busy people, you know, trying to make a living, trying to survive in a world that can be a scary place. So we have a special day, our Thanksgiving, where we gather with family and friends to remember our blessings.

I found a few quotes I thought I'd share a few with you.

Many are religious, saying that our blessings come from above:

George Washington in his first Presidential Proclamation:
"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."—October 3, 1789

Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy:
"Our Creator shall continue to dwell above the sky, and that is where those on earth will end their thanksgiving."

Here is the proclamation that created this holiday:

Samuel Adams, father of the American Revolution:
"It is therefore recommended ... to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor ..."—November 1, 1777 (adopted by the 13 states as the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation)

Here's a reminder of the benefits of instilling gratitude in our children:

Sir John Templeton:
"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people."

Here are quotes from our leaders:

Theodore Roosevelt:
"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."—1901

John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

From a philosopher:

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
— Epictetus

From Comedians:

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence."
— Erma Bombeck

"Here I am 5 o'clock in the morning stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird's butt."
— Roseanne Barr

From the unjustly imprisoned:

Anne Frank:
"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."

From our Governor:

Arnold Schwarzenegger
I love Thanksgiving turkey... it's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.

From the Dalai Lama:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Me? I'm grateful to have a job that is rewarding, a daughter and her family who are healthy, friends who care, and constant reminders of my need to grow and be a better person. I remember a while back that Oprah took one day a week on her show to have people focus on what they have to be grateful for and everyone single one later said that their lives had been dramatically changed by thinking about their blessings. So I vote we be glass-full people, that we recognize our riches, and that we realize the greatest joys in life are free.

November 14, 2007

Holiday options.

One splendid thing in my life has been making new friends in recent years. I formed Wow to make more women friends, and I have been greatly rewarded by knowing each of the Wowettes. One recent new friend is Kathy Keane, whose guest post you may have read a few months back, when she wrote about how she came to buy a home in Baja. She is a talented and lovely woman, sensitive and self-aware, who has worked hard and has been able to fulfill some of her dreams.

Much to my amazement, I realized recently that Kathy is also a talented artist who shows a unique view of nature through her photography. I've put at the end of this post a copy of an invitation to her art show later this month in Baja, for those of you who might be in that area or just need a gentle prod to take a trip! Those two pictures above are just a little sample of her beautiful work.

And to show you another side of Kathy, here is a note she wrote me with suggestions about holiday giving that I think is very worth sharing. Here is what she wrote: I know many people including the Wowettes may be looking for ways to help those less fortunate this holiday season by contributing to charities while reducing our 2007 taxes. One of my favorites is Women for Women International, They choose a woman from a 3rd-world country, particularly a war-torn country, and match you up with her. I think I give $300/yr but there are other contribution levels too. The train her in skills she can use to become financially independent and she writes to you during the process, they translate, and you respond. She eventually "graduates" from their program doing something to earn $$, and they match you with another woman. It's very rewarding. Another one is, which helps to end hunger around the world by using donations to provide people with animals that help them feed their families.
(If you want to contact Kathy about these charity options or her art show send an email to and I'll forward it to her. If you have other charitable options you'd like to share with our readers, let me know!)

A few of us have been talking lately about our society's rampant consumerism, how we get into debt for things that we believe will make us happy and then we are disappointed. In this upcoming season of giving, maybe Kathy's suggestions will make us all think about what we buy. Do we really need it? Would our money be better spent by helping lift someone from poverty? Is it time to be less of a consumer and more of a real giver?

No matter how you spend your holidays, I hope they are wonderful and bring you great joy and happiness.

! Art Show !

San Felipe Fine Art Association
 Paintings in various media 
 Photography 
 Ceramics 
 China-painted porcelain 
 Other original art 

Door prizes, and music by local groups!
November 24-25, 2007
ON Highway 5 km 179 north of San Felipe
Call Allan at 686-576-0395 for more info

November 9, 2007

Are nice guys really nice?

I'm big on definitions. I think it's important to know what words mean, that when we are in conversation about something, we should define that something. My friends probably get tired of me asking "what does ...... mean?" My first memory of this is when I dated a guy who said wrote he was 'sensitive' in his profile. Oh good, I said to myself, that must mean he's thoughtful and considerate of the needs of others, which translates to he would be sensitive to mine. When I actually met him at a restaurant, he was rude ("discourteous or impolite, esp. in a deliberate way, rough in manners or behavior"). As soon as we greeted each other, he started into a critical diatribe ("a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation, attack, or criticism") against everyone and everything. The waiters, people standing in the lobby with us, the weather, his sister who lived in Utah, his boss, his ex-wife - he had something nasty to say about everything. I learned really fast that sensitive to him was apparently "easily pained, annoyed" and that he was not that kind and thoughtful guy I imagined him to be.

So what brings this up? Nice. The word nice. The person who is nice. Nice movie, nice child, nice view. We say it so much and we attribute good things to that word. We believe it's nice to be nice. "Nice guys finish last"....Can't find a nice guy"..."if you'd only be nice to me"....But what does that really mean? Nice is defined as "pleasing; agreeable; delightful, amiable, suitable or proper" and most of us are taught that being nice is the right way to be. I can hear moms in the market saying "be nice to your nice to that nice to your toys"...and it gets imbedded that we have to be 'nice' but maybe that's not always the right thing after all.

Of course, it's important to be kind and thoughtful, but if 'nice' means being agreeable, like in 'not rocking the boat'...'not making waves'...then does that mean giving up what we really believe or feel and just going along with the group or our partner so we don't cause any upset or bad feelings?

When I first married, many moons ago and when I was really just getting out of my teens, I remember being a home with my then-husband and seeing a spider. Not a little spider, but a really big hairy thing and I screamed, thinking that my husband would be a brave knight and rescue me from this icky thing. And he didn't move, didn't get up, just said to me something like "if you scream, I will never help you. If you ask nicely, I will do it." And what did I learn from this? To hold in my feelings, to be rational when I felt emotional, to 'be nice.' And I've spent a lifetime holding in my 'negative' feelings, thinking that there was something wrong with having them, and being agreeable and nice.

Emotions might be the revelation of who we really are. They're raw and real and what is really going on inside of us. They're what happens before we think, so it's not always a good idea to express them and sometimes it is the right thing to think first, like when our boss makes us angry or when our kids get on our last nerve. But in relationships, if we always think before we speak, if we routinely 'eat' our feelings and are rational, are we really there? Is the real us really showing?

The new BF and I just went through a time when we both learned to 'let it out,' to express what we really feel or think without thought to the affect on the other person. I'm not advocating name-calling or blaming or using bad words, just saying our real reaction to what we are hearing. If I don't agree with something or like what he's saying, I'm gonna tell him that. If I piss him off (OK, that CAN happen), he let's me know he's unhappy with what I said or did. I always thought if I really expressing myself, saying what I considered the 'negative things' in my head, that people won't like me or that I would offend someone and what's happened is the opposite. I'll hear him object to something I said and it makes me laugh, in a good way. I like being able to 'tell it like it is' and he is much more appealing to me, now that he's being real.

This all doesn't mean to be disagreeable for the sake of it and being reasonable still has a place and fighting fair is still the great virtue, but let's be who we really are. Let's show who lives inside of us. Let's tell the truth about what we think and feel. Let's be fearless. Let's be real.

November 4, 2007

Carry-on vs. check-in.

I recently received an email from a reader who wrote: "I have been seeing a great guy for almost six months and he's all and more that I could imagine from a guy. My problem is that I've got baggage from the past so, when I tell him something about himself that I can't tolerate and he admits to having a flaw and that he will work to change it, I keep hearing previous boyfriends who said that and didn't change or changed for a little while. Even though he has made some changes, like learning to communicate more, I can't get past the idea that he isn't sincere and this causes me to hold back on my feelings for him. Signed, 'Got Baggage'"

Wow and geez, we've all got baggage from the past. The problem with relationships is that they tend to bring out our flaws, like it's impossible to be that close to someone without being real and showing who we really are. I heard stories about how people get married and then change and maybe it's just that they were being someone else to snare the other person and then reverted to their old self when they got hitched. I've also heard that relationship rub off our rough edges and that's a good thing, but it requires some looking at ourselves and that's not always easy and is certainly not pain-free. But we all carry all kinds of stuff from our past, guys who lied or gals who started off sweet and then turned witchy.

So what should I tell "Got Baggage?" That maybe this guy will be different from the others, that maybe he's sincere and really wants to work on himself? That maybe she should learn to trust this guy because he might be a really good one with honest intentions? Anyone who gets to our age and has had relationships has got some baggage. I've sure got some myself. I've been with men who cheated and lied and I probably look at guys now and wonder if they'll do that or maybe even expect them to.

So the question is, should we look at each new potential mate as a blank slate or should we allow ourselves to view them through our baggage? Do we have a choice - can we even really see others without them being colored by our previous experiences?