Status update: Everybody loves love

I changed my Facebook status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ 24 hours ago, and so far I have received 71 reactions – mainly thumbs ups, but a few hearts too. The funny thing is, I didn’t intend it to go public in the newsfeed.  As I was updating my ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’, I noticed that my relationship status had expired some time ago. In the spirit of honesty, I updated it. Then I saw it in the feed, and little notifications started popping up and a few comments too. (My favourite comment so far has been “What??? I want mooorrreee.”) The introvert in me is debating taking it down. (This is my relationship. I’m not sharing the juicy details!) But the nerdy me, who once upon a time updated Facebook regularly, has kept the post up. My reasoning, everybody loves love. I’m already sharing my love on Instagram. Why not celebrate my happiness and ‘In a Relationship’ status with the Facebook world?! More love, less fake news.

Dating Lessons: Trust that Voice Inside

For all of you following my dating life, this is the long overdue update.  The adventures are over, and now I’ve relearned a valuable lesson. It’s one of those lessons that we’re taught at a young age, and revisit through various stages of our lives. It sounds like this….listen to your gut, follow your intuition, trust that voice inside. Spoiler: I don’t always trust that voice inside.

The last time I sat before these keys I was reminiscing about crushes and those butterflies that make new relationships so much fun. Truth be told, I was hoping that those feelings would stir in me again as I was about to embark on a third date. The third date made me think about the possibilities, but then I kept bumping into a wall, the voice inside.

On the second date, I held my introvert card tightly, but on the third date I loosened my grip. I took control of the conversation, talked about my work, my passions, my writing, and we met half way, both sharing and getting to know each other a bit more.  As we took in the art show, admiring and analyzing the paintings, I let my guard down, spoke my mind, and discovered that his ex-wife and I have something in common — we blog about him. I told him about my blog, he asked what I wrote about, and then that was it. I’m not sure I would have shared the URL with him, but he didn’t even ask. As we hugged goodbye, I missed that someone who cared about my writing.

I hushed that voice, we spent a week apart, I rationalized the little stuff, and we met again for a concert in the park.  The swing music was good, but he was more interested in showing me pictures of his new house, and I didn’t mind that. After the concert, we went for ice cream and reclined in the field next to the petting zoo. As he twirled the blades of grass between his fingers, he asked me, “Where is this going? Do you always take things this slow?” The questions caught me off guard. Was I taking things slow? Why am I still uncertain? I managed, “I’m still getting to know you. I would like to see you again.” Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, that date was sealed with a kiss and a few dancing butterflies.

That was the turning point. We started dating without such long intervals in between. I guess it was unfolding into what could become a relationship, but I still was harbouring some ambivalence. And the butterflies were beginning to clash with the voice inside. Maybe I don’t know how to date anymore? I wonder what he’s doing; is he thinking of me? Why are we still playing “who texted who first” ? We really are different. Maybe I’m not ready to date again. He is the opposite of that someone, and that is……a good thing? You don’t have to agree on everything. We can balance each other out. He’s all about efficiency, I’m about taking my time. He likes numbers, I like words. He  wants kids, I don’t. He wants to find his “missing piece” and start that family.

Then that voice inside could no longer be hushed. I’m not that “missing piece.” I’m not going to complete his puzzle, and he’s not going to complete mine.  I knew this after our first coffee date in June, but I didn’t trust my voice inside. I let this go on into August.  That morning I knew I had to stop fighting with the voice inside, I told the butterflies to settle down, and put my lipstick courage on. I gave myself a hard stare in the bathroom mirror. I remembered being here before. That was when my heart was aching, and mascara was running down my face. That was when I was trying to get over that someone, but just couldn’t. This time was different; my heart wasn’t aching, it wasn’t feeling anything. My voice inside was speaking up. This just isn’t right. I’d rather be alone than with someone that doesn’t get me. I was going to ask the hard questions this time.

“What are we doing? What do you really want? ” His reply was blurry, and I told him this isn’t working. It wasn’t fair to either one of us; we were closing ourselves off to real connections, and someone was going to get hurt. He started half-heartedly back pedaling, making excuses for us to continue dating, but I stopped him. The voice inside had had enough and wasn’t going to be ignored again. This wasn’t what I wanted.  That was the bottom line.

*****

It’s been a couple weeks since I trusted that voice inside, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m still single, but that’s okay. I want those butterflies and someone who gets me. I want someone who is a work in progress, just like me. I’m not going to settle for a guy who looks good on paper, or online. I don’t want to play it safe anymore. I’m going to trust that voice inside.

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NBPM #5: Special delivery

bouquetWe get daily deliveries at my work place — usually of office supplies and textbooks. Today we had a special delivery — a beautiful bouquet. My colleague and I exchanged quizzical looks when the flowers came walking in, but our hopes were quickly dashed once we realized they were for neither one of us. They were for one of our students. We guessed it must have been her birthday, or the day after a lover’s quarrel. My colleague, a married woman, lamented that flowers only came for her on Valentine’s day now, and I shared that I missed flowers, but always preferred chocolate!

I waited patiently for our student to finish her class, then rushed to present her with the vase of roses, lavender, and pink daisies. A smile blossomed on her face, when she saw the flowers, and she told me she wanted to cry.  She was nowhere near tears, and the glimmer in her eyes was of pure joy. It was her wedding anniversary the next day. Her lack of surprise told me that this wasn’t such an unusual thing for her husband to do, and she told me pointedly, “He is sweet like this.”  Me, being as inquisitive as I am, asked her how long she’d been married.  Seven years –seven years and a little boy in kindergarten, living in a different country, far from her native land.  All three of them are students, too -what an adventure!

Now as I recall my day, I think about that special delivery, just before lunch. Even though the flowers weren’t for me, they added some beauty to my day. They stirred memories in me; memories of a time, not so long ago, that I had a special someone who was ‘sweet like that’ and would bring me flowers, chocolates, and even a whole cake, just because. And I know it may sound silly, but those flowers and my student’s smile made me believe in romance….and love again.

NBPM #1: What does 35 look like?

For the last week, I’ve been contemplating the resurrection of my blog in honour of National Blog Posting Month.  My blog’s been dead nearly a year — to be precise, it’s been silent since November 30th, 2014. Yes, that means I finished NaBloPoMo last year and then unplugged the life support. Last November wasn’t so sweet; I blogged a lot about heartbreak. I don’t know what this November holds, but I’m hoping it will be a lot sweeter. Anyhow, I’m going to kick off this blogging mini-marathon with a recent change in my life. It’s official now — I’ve reached thirty-five, and I’ve been here for a month.

When I was young, let’s say twenty, I had these preconceived notions of what thirty-five would look like.  Surely, I would have a ring on my finger and some little ones running around.  In my twenties, I wasn’t sure if I wanted these little ones to be children or animals……or maybe both.  I also thought I’d be settled in a career, in a place.  In my teens, I thought that place would be close to home, but in my twenties I was certain it would be far from home. Thailand was my home, indefinitely. Honestly, I also joked about meeting the love of my life in the rest home. The women in my family haven’t been lucky in love, and there were times when I thought I would follow suit. So, I guess I didn’t really have a clear picture of what thirty-five looked like — I just had ideas.

Now that I am just five years short of forty, I realize that I still just have ideas about what it is supposed to look like. Shortly after my turning point, I took a trip out to Alberta to visit family. They definitely had ideas about what thirty-five should look like. To sum it up, it looks like eight years of marriage, two kids, a stable job, one big house, a smaller summer house, a couple family vacations, two vehicles in the garage, and a pending divorce within the next ten years. Admitting that I’ve never come close to marriage, have no children (or pets), live in a bachelor apartment, and have gained most of my life and work experience in Asia, was something that was awkward for me to share with them. It made me feel more like an alien than when I lived abroad.

When I returned to the west coast, I was reminded that thirty-five can be whatever you want it to be. The day after I returned, an old friend from Thailand swooped in, and although she is five years younger, she was able to reassure me that my aspirations to live abroad, and discover the world on my own terms, were normal. Since our Thailand teaching days in 2008, she has finished her medical degree, travelled some more, started practicing family medicine in Boston, and moved in with her artsy, barista boyfriend.  He is keen to be the stay-at-home dad, but she still had other plans of her own. It was so refreshing to connect with her again, and hear about her life on the way to thirty-five.

A little over a year ago, I made a concerted effort to step out of my introvert shell, and accepted an invitation to join a book club with women my own age. (So glad I did!) Sometimes it amazes me that we are all the same age because we are all doing such different things. One thing I will say is that we are all curious about the world around us; we care deeply; we are creative; and we’ve taken our own paths to thirty-five. Some of us have partners, some of us have children, some of us don’t want children, some of us live in houses, some of us in apartments, some with our parents, some of us have only one vehicle or none at all, some of us have a career that  fulfills us, some of us are struggling to find that balance, but all of us are continuing to evolve.

So, what does 35 look like? It’s whatever you want it to look like. For me, it’s single, childless and petless, studio-living, night classes, book club gatherings, travel-dreaming, friendship-building, and finding work-play balance. And this 35 is still evolving.

What does your 35 look like?

Amy35

 

NaBloPoMo day 17: Realistic breakup advice

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all these ‘uplifting’ articles listing ways to get over a breakup and move on with your life. They paint such a simple picture. They don’t look at the day after. They don’t address fresh breakups. I’m no expert, but here is my realistic breakup advice.

  1. Wear black mascara, the kind that’s not waterproof. It will remind you to stop weeping in public. When you come home, cry it off and forget your makeup remover.
  2. Ask your friends about heartbreak. Their stories are probably worse than yours. Perhaps, they already had the wedding dress.
  3. Ask questions about anything but love, and listen to the answers. Get absorbed in someone else’s life.
  4. Smile even though you are crying inside. It’ll make you feel better…..temporarily.
  5. Stop worrying about what others think of you, and dare to cry a little bit in public…. then avoid eye contact.
  6. Be prepared for some sympathetic looks from strangers. They might not know what to make of your puffy, red eyes.
  7. Eat some chocolate, and indulge in comfort food.
  8. Get some exercise. Worry about sweat getting in your eyes, and not tears falling from them.
  9. Get outside. Open your eyes to the world around you. It doesn’t stop.
  10. Put those yoga classes to the test, and practice some deep breathing.
  11. Get a beauty makeover.
  12. Remember that everything is temporary. The pain that you are feeling won’t last forever.

I’m no expert, but these are some tricks I’ve put to the test. Getting over someone you love is never easy. Moving on is never easy. After a fresh breakup you might be in a mental fog, but with this realistic advice, you might feel a little better, and still feel the sunshine through the clouds.

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Introverts are worth it

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He’s an onion. I just wish I’d started peeling back the layers sooner. She looked up from her tea with a smile, and I knew it was those layers that she found captivating and frustrating. It’s those layers, those many reasons, that make introverts worth it.

*****

1. We are more than what meets the eye.

“What you see is what you get. I’m an open book,” said no introvert ever. Our book is firmly shut, some of our pages stick together, and we’ve been dogeared. Don’t pass us up though; we’ve got a plethora of interests and stories galore. We aren’t that shy girl or that nerdy guy — we’re enthralled with our own world, but we’re eager to learn new things, too. And because we have patience we strive to be really good at something or to develop an array of hobbies.

Have you ever just met someone and felt like you’ve known them forever? That won’t happen with us. We’ll continue to surprise you.

2. We are amazing listeners.

Unless we are hearing impaired, you’ll never have to repeat yourself. We may not always give you the response you want or respond immediately, but your words will never go unheard. We’ll take it all in –the tone in your voice, your body language, the words you choose, even the way you hesitate. Most introverts are able to focus, so if you’ve got their attention, you’ve got all of it. And some of us are even good at giving thoughtful advice. Be patient with this; we usually need to let stories marinate before we can articulate our own take on the dilemma.

Need someone to listen without passing judgement? You can always count on us.

3. We are highly perceptive.

When you take a step back you can see more clearly. Introverts are on the periphery consuming the whole picture — we’re the ones with the x-ray glasses seeing the truth and deception in everything including ourselves. We don’t take things at face value — we don’t buy into ‘what you see is what you get’ — there’s usually a lot more….or sometimes a lot less. We pick up on slight nuances, shifty eyes, genuine smiles, and all the little things that go unnoticed when you’re in the thick of it.

Wondering if there’s something strange about that guy? Ask us.

4. We are the voice of reason  little voice that has nuggets of wisdom.

That’s too bold of a statement — the voice of reason! We may have a little voice and not say a whole lot, but when we do speak, take note. Since we’ve spent so much time rehearsing in our head, it’s likely that what comes out is something to reflect upon. Maybe it will make you look at things in a different light or give you a new idea. We don’t like to waste our breath, so you’ll likely find some nuggets of wisdom is our exhalation.

Do you want some honest insight? We’ll offer some up, but you’ll have to be patient.

5. We are curious creatures. 

We are curious about ourselves and others. Self-reflection is something that we do a lot of — introverts are always having loud conversations in their heads. We’re also fascinated by others and feel quite comfortable interrogating someone who piques our interest. We like to dissect situations and figure out the whats and whys. If we think it would be fun to try something new, like scuba diving, we’ll research it before jumping in. If we’re planning a trip, we’ll spend hours pouring over guide books, try to learn the language, and cook up some exotic cuisine.

Are you looking for a partner in crime? Let’s be curious together.

*****

So, you see, introverts really are worth it. Even though we are onions that sometimes make you cry with grueling one-sided conversations, awkward silences, solo parties, and guessing games, you’ll want to keep peeling away to discover our many layers. And you know what? Introverts know that extroverts are worth it, too — they balance us out, they introduce us to new worlds, and they spark our curiosity.

CuriousGeorge

Listen up, ladies: 6 tips for playing nice online

It’s time to play nice online and land a date. You’ve been attracting guys that just aren’t your type and some complete weirdos, too. You’re tempted to take your profile down and just forget about dating. Well, before you do that take a look at how you present yourself online. With the help of a couple real OKCupid men, I’ve come up with 6 tips for playing nice online.

1. Stop posting pictures of you and your friends.

Yes, we know that you go to the ladies’ room in herds, but online you have to stand out on your own. If you’re a social butterfly, write about that in your profile. No proof is necessary at this stage. A picture with too many beautiful women/men will distract your prospective matches — you want them to just focus on you.

If you were to apply for a job, would you staple your friends’ resumes with yours?

2. No more duckfaces, obvious selfies, or photoshopped pictures. Post actual pictures of yourself.

These pictures are going to have him ignoring the text of your profile. Expect to get some one-liners along the lines of “Funny face” “Hot stuff” or “Are you fo’ real?” And then there are many men that won’t even take the time to write a message because they’ll think you’re fake or immature.

Be real and post actual photos of yourself. No one wants to be duped by a fake profile.

3. Don’t be too modest or mysterious.

Modesty is an attractive quality, but online you have to play up your strengths. You’ve got a lot of competition out there — stand out. What are you proud of? What makes you unique? What are your ambitions? Don’t lay everything out on the table, but don’t be mysterious. Mysterious isn’t always sexy.

If you’re having trouble writing about yourself, ask a close friend to help you out.

4. Make the first move.

This is your opportunity to take charge and make the first move. You don’t have to wait for a guy to message you. If you come across an interesting guy, send him a message. Tell him why his profile stood out for you– I’m sure he’ll appreciate it and return the favour. There are no guarantees that he will respond, but I’m sure you’ll live with the rejection. Men have been coping with it for years.  And there are plenty of fish out there — find a new one!

5. Stop with the long lists. 

Lists are for grocery shopping not online dating sites. Write in full sentences — good grammar is sexy and it shows that you’ve actually put some thought into your profile. And when it comes to the ‘you should send me a message if….’ section, keep it brief and to the point. It’s okay to have a few deal breakers, just don’t be a ball breaker.

6. If you don’t want to meet him offline, stop messaging him.

If you both have an understanding that your communication is going to stay online or distance prohibits you two from meeting, carry on as email (maybe phone) pals. However, if you live in the same city it’s likely that the guy will want to meet you in the flesh. If you don’t have the same desire, stop messaging him or tell him that you don’t feel a connection. Don’t be the ‘nice girl’ and string the guy along. You’re wasting his time and yours.

*****

Online dating comes with its own set of rules. Be real (as much as you can online) and expect the same in return. There are some great guys out there…..and some creeps, too. Watch out for those profiles that are filled with cliches (long walks along the beach) and airbrushed pictures (guys who say they’re 35, but look 20). Never feel obligated to reply, even to an apparently normal guy who enjoys bike riding, and has a receding hairline. The beauty of online dating is that you’re in the driver’s seat and you can control the speed.

Happy dating!

friends