Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Psychology Dot Com

Great article I found on www.psychologytoday.com:

(If you are married, chances are that you do not have an intriguing life story about how it is that you decided that you wanted to get married. Sure, you may have wondered about the particular person, or the right time in your life to do it. But as for the decision as to whether to marry - it is still mostly a given. Because getting married is assumed, the stories about recognizing your claim to single life become the more interesting ones. The stories are likely to differ according to the demographic categories we know so well - race, age, sex, country, city or small town, rich or poor, and so forth. Perhaps even more interestingly, the process of embracing your single life is different for people like me who are single at heart, compared to people such as our guest blogger, Elliott Lewis, who sees himself as closer to a quirkyalone. I'm so grateful to Elliott Lewis for sharing his story with Living Single readers. You can read more about him in the brief bio at the end of this post.]

Embracing Single Life by Elliott Lewis

I am a walking dating disaster. Seriously. Here are my stats:

I'm over 40. Never been married. Never had a serious relationship. Never even went to my high school prom. I was well into my twenties the first time a woman ever spent the night with me. Now, I go out on a date about once a year.

And you know what? I'm actually pretty happy with my life as a confirmed bachelor.

I was never one who wanted to marry early. But like most people, I just assumed it would eventually happen. So as the years went by and it became evident that I wasn't making any progress on the relationship front, I went into counseling.

My shrink suggested I would have been better off if I had been born and raised in a culture where marriages are arranged. Dating, she said, is how we weed out the field of potential partners. In societies where marriages are arranged, the extended family does the weeding out for you.
"You have several qualities that would serve you well in a marriage," my psychologist told me. "You would be a good husband and father... But it's the dating process that's messing you up."

She was right.

I had never been good at dating. I could play the game up to a point, but I couldn't close the deal. And my repeated failures in that department had left a lasting impression.

The failures are with me still.

There are three women in my past who I considered to be marriage material. So much so that I would have moved to the other side of the earth to be with them.

But they were not interested. Not at all.

Oh, sure, women have told me that I'm easy to talk to ("You're a good listener"), that I have a good sense of humor ("You crack me up"), that I'm a generally nice guy ("You're a hard act to follow"). Blah, blah, blah.

But I'm not into contemporary notions of chivalry, and I tend to reject stereotypical gender roles. I don't go to church because I am not religious.  A cousin of mine says I am "too logical in my thinking" to be married. Apparently, I am not what most women are looking for in a boyfriend, either.

As my psychologist tried to explain to me, if I really wanted to fall in love, settle down, and start a family, I would have to make some changes in how I approached the whole dating process. Dating is a sort of social dance, and I never learned how to perform some of the steps. I would have to learn them now, a bit later in life than most people, if I was ever going to be successful in finding a partner.   

As my shrink made clear, the relationship skills that I needed to work on could not be acquired within the four walls of her office. It would take some practice. And the only way to get that practice was to date. In other words, I'd have to make a few more trips through the very fires that had landed me in counseling in the first place. Honestly, I wasn't eager to take those steps.

That's when I had to confront a basic question: How badly did I really want a wife and kids and all the rest of it? Obviously, not badly enough to make it a priority.

While it's virtually impossible to summarize nine months of psychotherapy in a 900-word blog post, one of the things I learned through it all was this: It would be perfectly alright if I remained single. And that's exactly what has happened.

My single life, if I may say so, is working out pretty well. I built a successful career moving from job to job and city to city, climbing the career ladder with each move into new territory. I've traveled all over the world, stamping my passport in nearly a dozen different countries. Two years ago, I up and moved again and started law school. In other words, I've had the freedom to do a variety of things I probably wouldn't have been able to do if I were married. And I'm not finished yet.

Somewhere along the way, I became comfortable with my bachelorhood. While I am still open to the possibility of finding a long-term partner, I am not planning on it. When asked where I see myself in ten years, marriage and family are no longer in my extended forecast.

Are there days when I wish I was in a relationship? Of course. Just like a lot of happily married people have days when they wish they were single.

So if someone happens to cross my path and it seems like we could hit it off, I may still test the waters. But I am not interested in online dating, or being fixed up, or "putting myself out there."  Instead, I am focused on living the best single life I can.

It's a choice that others have a hard time accepting.

"You know what I think your problem is?" They'll begin, sincerely believing that they're being helpful. "You're picking the wrong women."

"Just don't give up," they'll argue. "There's someone out there for you!"

Others are more blunt: "Are you sure you're not gay?"

Oh, brother. Those of us who have embraced the single life do not want to hear any of this. If anything, we'd like a little reassurance that happiness can be found anywhere - yes, even outside of couplehood.
"I'll make a deal with you," I told one of my married friends. "I won't try to talk you into getting a divorce; you don't try to talk me into getting coupled."

Silence.

"Maybe you're just not looking in the right place," he finally said.

"You still don't get it," I told him. "I'm not really looking at all." 

Night Road

My favorite part about the summer is reading. I read throughout the year, but there is something about getting into a good book during the summer- whether it's at the pool, beach, local Starbucks, library, park or in your house- books in the summer have a different feel to them. I read two books in the past week and one really stuck with me. It is called "Night Road" by one of my favorite authors, Kristin Hannah (she also wrote "Firefly Lane" which is awesome as well). I don't want to give away all of the book, but a big theme was responsibility. Basically, a twin brother and sister are best friends with another girl, and they all go to a party one night. The twins get hammered and the friend has a few but is in much better shape. They don't want to drive but the brother INSISTS because their mom got mad at them the last time they called her drunk to pick them up (even though she always tells them to). The friend will not let him drive, so she drives instead being in the best shape of the three. Well, they crash and the sister dies. Obviously, the girls gets charged (her BAC is .09) and she goes to jail to be made an "example" for drunk driving. The whole thing infuriated me because they would have crashed either way and she was the best person to drive who made the right decision in fighting for the keys from the brother. I felt all three people were at fault. I know that none of them should have driven but things like this happen all the time and no one gets hurt. It just hit so close to home because that type of thing could happen to anyone. You think you're fine because you had a few drinks a while ago, so you drive home, but you crash (which could happen anyway even if you were sober). I am not going to spoil the ending, but the main focus of the book was forgiveness and responsibility and it was definitely a tear-jerker that gets you thinking. The best type of book in my opinion.

It brought up some of my own views- I have very mixed views about drinking in general. I am fine with people drinking to have fun with friends. My issue comes when people ONLY know how to have fun when they are drinking. I think sometimes people in my age bracket forget that you don't only live for the Friday and Saturday nights out with friends. Life is more than just 4 hours of losing your ambitions. Yes, I think drinking is fun. Yes, I do enjoy the freedom and relaxation and lower ambitions that drinking brings. But it has never been my goal (even in college) to get drunk because it is the only way I know how to have fun. I am fine going out with friends and not drinking while we are at a party or a bar. Some people think I'm not as "fun" when I don't drink and everyone else is, but those are the people that think that being drunk is the ideal state. It's just an interesting mindset that I know will continue for most of my adult life, because once people start drinking, it never really stops. But I never think it's amusing to see someone falling down in the street, getting sick, or running their car into a ditch because they are too drunk. To me, too many bad decisions are made when people are drunk, so that's why it's never been the goal of my every weekend. I also like to get things done the next day, and a night of drinking often leaves you sluggish for the 1st half of the next day. At least when I'm not wasted, I can remember the fun I had and not just think I had fun.

With that all being said- I am heading to the beach tomorrow where I will be enjoying the sun, the sand and a few (summer) drinks in my hand:)!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thought for the Day

I have a bazillion ideas for posts, but I do not have the time or energy to post them just quite yet. I am leaving for my 1st of 4 beach trips on Wednesday, so who knows when I will get to posting them. For now though, I have a thought that is inspiring me today. It comes from a conversation between two of my favorite fictional characters:

Booth: Is my faith shaken? Yeah, it is.
Brennan: It is?
Booth: I’ll go home tonight, and I’ll lie in bed. I’ll toss and I’ll turn, and I’ll beat myself up. I’ll question everything.
Brennan: Will you get your faith back?
Booth: Always have in the past.
Brennan: So you have faith that you will retain your faith. Why?
Booth: Because, Bones. The sun’ll come up; tomorrow’s a new day.
Brennan: I know that feeling.
Booth: Really? You know what it feels like to get your faith back?
Brennan: When I see effects, and I’m unable to discern the cause, my faith in reason and consequences is shaken.
Booth: Then what happens?
Brennan: Two plus two equals four. I put sugar in my coffee and it tastes sweet. The sun comes up because the world turns. These things are beautiful to me. There are mysteries I will never understand, but everywhere I look, I see proof that for every effect, there is a corresponding cause…even if I can’t see it. I find that reassuring.
Booth: Life is good again.
Brennan: Life is very good.

It's always good to know that even when life is changing and you are adjusting and dealing with what you want from it, or even when you have a bad day or week or month, the sun does always come up; you do go about doing things you love...spending time with friends, writing, exercising, reading...and you find that each day is a day to start over and make a change or adjust your way of thinking. I like that even though you may have been some way your whole life or even part of your life, each day is a chance to begin anew again. We can constantly reinvent ourselves. And for that I am grateful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Break!

Summer is upon us. I have been lucky enough to have a summer “break” every year of my life. Luckily, with my profession this will continue until I switch jobs. But this year is different. It is the first year that I will not work at all- no classes, no waiting tables, no internship- just me and time. This will be interesting as I sometimes do not do well with too much free time on my hands, but I am doing my best to enjoy it and take advantage of all the time. I will be traveling quite a bit- Dewey Beach in Delaware next week with friends, Virginia Beach for July 4th weekend with friends, the Outer Banks for a week in July with my family, Nashville for a work conference mid-July and a trip to St. Augustine, Florida in August to see some college friends. I also just moved into a new apartment in the fan of Richmond (pictures below), so I will be exploring my new area (restaurants, museums, parks, ect), going to the pool, reading, running, going to the movies and tackling my summer TV project (Castle and Fringe on huluPLus). Today was my day of work (counselors work one extra week after school lets out and one extra week before teachers come back) and I am excited to get started on my summer!


I also wanted to include some pictures of my new apartment that I moved into June 11th. It is so cute and everyone that sees it LOVES it. It is the top right corner apartment of our building, so it is pretty quiet for the city and I feel very safe in it. I am loving the location and being around so many young people- just about a week and a half in and I have met many new people!


Roomies!

Kitchen


Kitchen table


Study into TV room


Entrance to my room - my dresser is a perfect fit- closet to the right.


Opposite wall of my room- such a beautiful view of a brick wall!


Bed wall (my bed is around the corner from the door so I don't get much noise/light from inside)


TV room- Kardashians are on!


TV room where you can see the front door (to the left) and our mud room!

And some birthday pics….(my 25th birthday was spent going to MBK’s graduation and watching my first set of seniors graduate, moving and going out to eat with friends- it was a nice, but tiring, day!)


Old roomies outside of Cheesecake Factory!


The Birthday Dinner crew....25 (ahhh)!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

So I listen to Elvis Duran every morning on the radio. I love it because, as I have discussed with my friends, it is a type of syndicated show where you don't have to think much early in the morning and you are always guaranteed a laugh. And the DJ's are quite a set of characters.

Anyways, one of the things that always amazes me is how they will discuss things that exactly relate to my life or things I have recently thought about. Well, it being graduation season and a time of new beginnings, they played this old "song" that I hadn't heard in probably 10 years. I have it here for your viewing/listening pleasure and the lyrics below.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99 .If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. 
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen… 

I found the song to be very relevant at this time of year and a nice way to get thinking before 7 am in the morning. It has good messages to be reminded of, because even though I am not graduating this year and have already graduated 3 times, I am still young and need to be reminded about the great messages of life!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Personal(ity)

I debate within myself frequently on how personal to make this blog. I think of it as a diary of my life (which while watching “Season 25: Behind the Scenes of Oprah,” Oprah even admits to having a diary her whole life and how it is one of her greatest treasures). I think it pretty accurately shows my ups and downs, which I am not afraid to portray- so often people don’t really know what goes on inside another person, so I find it healthy and refreshing to showcase my thoughts- but it also still gives a skewed version of myself. If you see me on a regular basis, I am generally stable- I am almost always perky,  eager to chat with people, random in my conversations, organized and efficient in work and life, and trying to have fun. This blog, however, shows a side of myself that not many people generally get to see (besides close family and friends), which is nerve-racking and liberating all at the same time. Just because I post something serious or about a certain topic doesn’t mean I feel that way or am obsessing about that topic all day. It is mostly just something I thought of and wanted to write about. So in that sense my blog is not an accurate portrayal of my constant moods or states or thoughts, but just a documentation of a certain thought or feeling or idea or activity that I had on a certain time on a certain day. And I filter what I post to make it all somewhat interesting. I know ya’ll don’t want to hear about my every waking activity or thought. And if you do, that’s creepy.
 
So while this blog is personal, it is not who I am or all that I am all the time. There are still many things you don’t know about me. I am sure some of these things even certain close friends/family don’t know. Maybe I will divulge more into those topics someday, but for now take what you read and the picture you have of who I am from this blog with a grain of salt- there is more to me than just pen to paper, which can be exciting or scary….
 
And because I love pictures, here are some promised photos of recent events…
 
Meadowbrook High School counseling team (minus one) after prom!

Some gorgeous friends at an engagement party

 
Romo is so cute:)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bittersweet

It's the time of year when everything is winding down. Soccer has ended, colleges are out, races are on hiatus for the summer, graduations are upon us, moves are coming, milestone birthdays, and my year at work is almost up. It is all very exciting, but also very bittersweet. I am excited to be done with my first year as a counselor (t-minus 3 weeks...June 23rd is my last day!), but I am also sad. I am going to miss the wonderful seniors that I have gotten to know, the faculty members leaving for other schools, and my closer coworkers who will be moving on. Unfortunately, I work at a high school with high bit of turnover that I know I will get used to, but as this is my first time experiencing it, it is sad. I also have met some great seniors that I am so excited to see move on and be successful, but who have made my first year great, so I will miss their spirit and energy around the school.

I also am moving out of my current townhouse next Saturday. I love my roommates and my current house, but I have felt off all year - like I am missing something. So I decided to make a big change and move to the fan in Richmond where there are more people my age, more things to do in walking distance and more culture than where I currently live. My view is that I am young and shouldn't be living in the suburbs, so I am going to try out city living. It will be like a little college throwback, but the apartment is super cute and I am excited for a change. I am eager for the spontaneity it will bring.

A part of all this excitement was prom last weekend and another engagement party for my friend Sarah. For prom my whole department went and we went out afterwards. It was nice to be out with everyone, but also to see the students dressed up and having fun at prom. Sometimes, though, I feel like I will never leave high school! I guess that is what I get for my profession...(I will try to come back and post a prom picture once I have a better internet connection). And as usual, the engagement party was also a lot of fun- it even led to a girls only sleep over. How I have missed those:)! Makes me pumped for all the bachelorette parties coming up (I am in her wedding)!

I find that every year I am amazed at the bittersweet feel of time. You always want to speed life up to get to the next thing, but then it all goes by so fast. It's true that the only constant in life is change and time is responsible for that. I am grateful to live in an age where life can be documented so well that I can relive all these specific moments. I will never have my first year at work again or my 24th year of life or the year that I lived at 13460 Ridgemoor Lane.  But I hope I take everything I have learned and the people I have met to make my life more fulfilled. Who knows if this is the best it will ever be (which I hope isn't the case- I always hope for better)!