Seriously - WTH?

Calling out the stupid...and boy is there a lot to call out.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What I Have Learned about Turning 40

This year I have been doing something I have never done before. I have caught myself interjecting my age into sentences and various conversations. Age has never been something that has bothered me. In fact, in the past when someone has asked me my age I have even had to stop and think about it for a minute because I often say the age I am going to be instead of the age I am. So what's the new obsession with my age? Well in one week I am about to turn forty.

Yep, that's right. The BIG 4-0.

Now I have heard about people my age, male and female, that have done things ranging from spending the day crying under the covers in bed & refusing to talk to anyone, to having a major midlife crisis, to shrugging it off and not really acknowledging it at all. I will say this, most people at least say at some point, "Wow, I can't believe I am going to be forty."

I think the reason for the big forty awakening is because you are hit with a number of things when you turn or are about to turn forty. For example, Like most people, my friends are constantly posting pictures of their kids on Facebook. The disturbing thing about that is that instead of the cute baby's first steps videos or look who lost her first tooth pictures, the photos are of children graduating from high school or heading off to college, or (gulp*) of their babies having babies which makes my friends officially grandparents. Aren't grandparents supposed to be little, old, cute gray haired people that are always handing out candy or giving you a quarter? And the fact that my friends' children are heading off to school makes me realize one thing - their kids are now as old (or in many cases older) than the age I was when I first met their mother or father. Eeeeek!

Besides my friends having offspring that are old enough to drink and have kids, the other forty realization that slaps me in the face is that forty seems to be the age when you are really viewed as an adult. Yes, it's cute that we call 18 year olds adults, and allow people to officially drink and buy their own alcohol at 21 because they are adults, and you even get a break in your car insurance when you hit the big 2-5. But forty is the age when you are expected to really have your shit together.

According to societies' standards, by forty you should be married, have your career in full swing, and your family well underway, have stability, and saved at least half of your retirement. And well, all of this makes me more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Hmmmm, let's see how I stack up:

Married - check!
Divorced - check! (Ok, that wasn't on the list, but hey! look at me Bonus Accomplishment! Plus they kind of go hand in hand)
Career - Which one? Still trying to find that perfect fit.
Family - Do dogs and cats count? I had my tubes tied so I guess I can check that off, right?
Stability - I pay my bills , if you call that stable. However, one bad illness and I could end up on the street living in a cardboard box with my dogs and cats...but it would be a stable box.
Retirement - Ha! Can't even fathom that. My last long term investment was in my 1997 Toyota Corolla because I knew it would save me money on gas. Between my divorce and the Recession (you know, the one they say we never had), coupled with a few unexpected surgeries, my bank account pretty much consists of dust. Seriously, when I get my statement for my savings account from my bank it says, "Balance: HAHAHAHA! P.S. When are you going to get started on this?"

Like most people, it seems every time I start to get ahead, something happens like my car needs brakes, or I get a rock to the windshield, or my uterus tries to implode. You know, normal every day things that seem to keep me from getting on my feet and ahead of the game. It's frustrating when there seem to be obstacles at every turn. So instead of beating myself up for where I should be, I'm going to try to think about the things I've done, learned, and most of all, overcome.

At 40 I have:

Graduated high school and completed some college;
Survived a major accident;
Overcome (for the most part), several health issues that would have sidelined most people;
Written 2 books that were both published;
Owned a record label, pizzeria, Italian restaurant, horse farm, and recycling business;
Found hobbies I thoroughly enjoy (painting and writing);
Lived in 3 different states;
Experienced marriage...and even better, experienced divorce :)
Learned what I do and don't want in a partner and that I am perfectly comfortable being single too;
Made lifelong friends that I wouldn't trade for anything;
Understand the difference between friends you can count on & friends that are just fun friends;
Learned blood doesn't make you family. Loyalty does - that's why some friends are family.
Acknowledged that if I have to fight to keep someone in my life, they probably don't deserve to be there;
Learned to never take advice or care about the opinion of someone that I don't respect;
Saved or given a home to some incredible animals;
Traveled (not as much as I'd like, but I am still fortunate enough to have done some travelling);
Learned my clothing size has nothing to do with my self worth;
Realized it's OK to tell people, "No" when I don't want to do something;
Volunteered for various charities;
Learned the only person responsible for my happiness is me;
Acknowledged that people will treat you how you allow them to treat you;
Realized it's OK to like sex and own that fact;
Understood I will always come second to someone's addiction. That's not my problem, it's their's;
Realized some people want to be miserable; I also realized I should distance myself from those people so they don't make me miserable;
Learned to trust my gut;
Continued to feed my inner child to keep me young- sometimes with a cupcake; sometimes with cartoons (How The Grinch Stole Christmas!);
Realized feeding that child doesn't keep me looking young, but sunscreen, moisturizer, exercise, and water will;
Age is a mindset;
Carmines has the best Italian food in the country with Christini's in Orlando being a very close 2nd;
A wagging tail = an immediate smile;
Most of all, I realized I like me and it's OK if no one else does.

And while I had thought that I would be in a very different place by the time I reached forty, I'm not in a bad place. No one's life is perfect or turns out just the way they planned. I mean, how boring would that be? In the word's of Aerosmith, " Life's a journey not a destination" and I'm looking forward to what the next forty will bring.

What have you learned by the time you turned 20? 30? 40? 50? 60? 70+?



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Tell Your Kid, "No."

OK, before everyone goes off on me about how we are raising a society of undisciplined, disrespectful brats, hear me out.

I think that we can all agree that parents today are...shall we say...CRAZY overprotective. Kids have to wear a helmet to ride a bike or they risk falling, hitting their head and having to eat through a tube for the rest of their lives. If a class is tough, clearly it is the teacher's fault. The class should be made easier or the parent will demand the child be transferred to a different class, where the teacher isn't "picking on him." Oh, and let's not forget that EVERYONE has to get a trophy so that no one gets their feelings hurt. You were born? Here's a trophy. You're 7 and wiped your own ass? Here's a trophy. Your team came in last place? Trophies all around! I mean GOD FORBID your child is made to believe they aren't good at something. Why risk the blow to their self esteem and years of therapy when a simple "Participation" ribbon lets everyone know, "Hey you! You are average! Just like everyone else"? You know, because that's the way life works. You get a job, don't work as hard as the person next to you, your mommy calls your superior to say if you don't get the promotion you'll be sad and your feelings will be hurt, so naturally, your boss gives you the promotion. No wonder our country is in the toilet.

So with that said you're probably wondering in a world where parents are afraid to (but should) tell their children, "No" why the hell am I saying not to do it? Because there is one area that I continuously hear moms and dads "protecting" their children right out of success. Recently, I have been present when various parents have made the following remarks (and some other equally detrimental ones) to their children and it absolutely infuriates me:

"I don't know why you want to try out for the [insert sport here] team. There are kids that have been playing since they were 5. You're not going to make it."

"You need to know your place in this world."

I have three words: SHAME ON YOU!

How dare you tell your child what they can and cannot accomplish! Whether you are doing it because you think you are protecting them from failure or simply because if you were in their position, you wouldn't have the guts to go for it, you need to stop and realize the negative impact you are making on your child's life.

Life is all about failure, overcoming obstacles, and striving to be our best self. A parent should never discourage their child from having goals and trying to be the best person they can.

Let me give you some examples:

When I wanted to try out for cheerleading in high school, my mom all but forbade me. She was so afraid I would be disappointed when I didn't make it, that it never even dawned on her that I might actually make it. ( I did).

Years later, I was in accident. After several surgeries, while trying to find meaning in tragedy, I decided to write a book to help people living with chronic pain. There was one catch...my head injury left me with the inability to look at a computer screen. That could have stopped me in my tracks, but I refused to let it. Not only did I write my novel, I got it published. 

Too small scale? How about these examples:

On  January 29th, 1954, a little black girl was born in rural Kosciusko, Mississippi. She survived a troubled adolescence in which she was sexually abused by relatives and male friends of her mother. As a teen, she moved to Tennessee to live with her father. She attended school, went to college and grew up to have her own talk show, and eventually her own network. Today she is one of he most powerful, well respected woman in the world. I am of course talking abut Oprah Winfrey. 

Sophomore year, Laney High School, N.C. Mike Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player to ever play, failed to make the Varsity team. Did that stop him? No. He busted his butt to become the best all around player and became the superstar we know today as the great #23, Michael Jordan.

And perhaps one of the most inspiring stories, March 24th, 1986, a mother gave birth to a child born with congenial amputation. Kyle Maynard had no arms below the elbow and no legs below the knee. Instead of his parents sheltering him and allowing him to use that as an excuse to do nothing with his life, they encouraged him to be as independent as possible. Kyle grew up wanting to wrestle. He joined the school wrestling team. At first he lost every match... then one day something happened. He won. And then it happened again. In fact, it happened 34 more times. He eventually went on to be inducted into The National Wrestling Hall of Fame. But Kyle didn't stop there. He trained hard and went on to compete as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, and as if those feats weren't impressive enough, he decided he wanted to climb Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro...and did.

In any of these instances, it would have been very easy for the parents of these children to say, "It's too hard" or "You can't do it." 

"Oprah, you want to be a millionaire. You're crazy. Remember where you are from. Little black girls from Mississippi do not become millionaires."

"Michael, you couldn't even make the Varsity team.You think you are going to play professional ball some day? There are a million kids that have that dream and were good enough to make Varsity their first time out. You need to think more practically."

"Kyle, how is a kid with no arms and legs going to climb a mountain? You have to be realistic son. There are some things you are  going to have to accept that you just can't do."

So the next time you're speaking with your child and they tell you they want to find the cure for cancer or invent a flying car, or be a ballerina, I'm begging you, please be mindful of your words. Don't be that voice of doubt in your child's head that says, "You can't do it;" The one that causes a bundle of nerves and makes them too afraid to try out for the team, ask for that raise they deserve, or dare to change the world. Instead, be the one that teaches them how to accomplish their dreams. If your 5'7 son tells you he wants to make the basketball team, encourage him to try out and if he doesn't make it, instead of letting him give up, help him put together a game plan to improve his skills so he can make the team next time. Encourage him to practice and train with him whenever possible. Teach him the only failure in life is not trying and if you want something bad enough, you work for it, whether that be studying, hours of practice, interning, or daring to think outside the box. After all, it worked for Spud Webb. He went on to not only play in the NBA, but to win the Slam Dunk contest.

Remember, kids tend to share their dreams with the ones they are closest to in the hopes of receiving support and encouragement.  Imagine the look on Neil Armstrong's mother's face when he said," Hey Mom, you see that moon up there? I'm going to be the first person to walk on it someday." She had to think, "Sure you are son! And how do you plan on getting there? Walking?" But you know what, he did it. So if your child has a dream, no matter how ludicrous it may sound, don't crush it. Don't point out all the reasons why it can't happen. Don't say,"No." Instead, let them dream. Sit down with your kid and together, come up with a list of steps they can take to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. Let them know you believe  in them so that one day, when other people are trying to hold them back and telling them it's too hard! That's impossible! You can't do it! You can be the voice inside their head that says, "I believe in you.Yes you can."

Please if you like this post, share it :)

**Don't forget to check out my books Pain, Pain, Go Away and Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women available on Amazon.com and at Barnes&Noble.com  **

Shay Stone books on Amazon
Shay Stone books Barnes & Noble


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Excerpt from New Book In Progress

... 

"He took her hand in his and pulled her close to him as they began to sway to the music. It felt amazing to finally hold her like he had wanted to for so long. In his arms, she felt safe, as though she belonged there; like she was home. The feeling was unnerving. She belonged to another, yet here she was in his embrace, feeling his warm breath on her neck, taking in his intoxicating smell. She felt dizzy, uncertain if it was the alcohol or his touch that was making her feel that way.

His cheek lightly touched against hers. Her skin was soft, like a perfect rose petal. God he wanted her so much. Without thought, he brushed her ear softly with his nose as he gently whispered the silky words of the song into her ear, “Let me hold you tight, if only for one night…”

She felt weak as his lips traced their way from her neck to her face. He kissed her eyes, and then with his thumb, gently caressed her soft, red lips. She felt as though he could hear her body crying out for him. With one hand placed firmly on the small of her back, he pulled her closer, moving his other hand through her hair as their lips met. He kissed her slowly at first, but then more passionately as he lost control of his restraint. His kiss awakened something in her she thought was lost. She could feel it in her stomach; in her knees; in her soul. She ran her fingers through his dark hair. She couldn't control herself...she didn't want to control herself." 

***Don't forget to check out my other book: Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women currently available in hardcover and for Kindle and eBook at Amazon.com and at BarnesandNoble.com Links are below:

Ebook: Why Am I Still Single?

Hard Cover: Why Am I Still Single?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Does Love Still Exist?

We all know those couples. The ones that met when they were in high school or saw each other on the street, locked eyes and immediately knew they were soul mates and meant to spend the rest of their lives together. They got married, never questioned it and appear to have found the key to true love.

I hate these people.

See, for me love doesn't come easy. Allow me to clarify: I love my family, friends, and tell my dogs and cat that I love them daily. But when it comes to true love...real, romantic, spending the rest of your life together kind of love...it terrifies me and remains something that I don't know that I am capable of achieving.

I used to think I was alone when it came to this feeling, which made me feel like even more of an outcast. Then, one night after a little too much wine, I confessed something to a friend: Even though I had been married at one point in my life, I didn't know that I had ever been in love. I loved my ex-husband, but I wasn't in love with him. Now, there were probably many reasons for that - the least of which was our relationship was more of the roommate variety opposed to the husband and wife kind, much to my dismay. But then, after my divorce, dates with other men, a few marriage proposals, and even one man's request to have a child with him, I found that I still felt the same way. Whenever I would think about the idea of falling in love or enter into a relationship with someone I would get the same image in my head that would cause me to high tail it out of the relationship so fast I'd  leave a Scooby-Doo type shape of myself in the door behind me.

The Image:

 I'm standing alone, strong and independent. Then a black, transparent, ghostly shadow with long arms, and exaggerated, skinny fingers comes up behind me, wrapping it's arms around me so tight that I can't move and begin to choke. It pulls me tighter and closer into it until it envelopes me completely and I am lost forever.

OK, air... I need air.

I mean, seriously, what the hell was wrong with me? Was I cold-hearted? Unfeeling? Too realistic? Too logical for love? Or was I just simply incapable of love? Then my friend responded in a way that I did not expect, "Oh my God, you feel that way too?!? I thought it was just me."

My friend and I discussed it at length and dissected it to the point that would exhaust Freud. We both wanted to fall that deeply in love, but didn't know if it could ever happen. Neither one of us could imagine letting ourselves be that vulnerable and surrender control long enough to fall in love. Maybe it was trust issues; or maybe we were both control freaks; or maybe we just couldn't let go of how bad we had been burned by previous relationships. I remembered something my ex had said while we were still just dating, "You can never love anyone like you loved your first love."

At first the statement bothered me and I took offense to it, but then as I thought about it more, I began to understand. See when you go into a relationship for the first time, you open your heart and give it everything you have. You become infatuated with the person and they occupy your every thought. As you're driving in your car and a song comes on the radio, you find yourself thinking,This should be our song or this would make a great wedding song someday for us. You imagine your perfect future together - the house, the kids, the dog (or cat) with the fluffy tail, traveling the world, and living happily ever after. Then WHAM!!! You catch your guy (or girl) in bed with your best friend. You're mad, hurt, heart broken, and most of all, you're blindsided. The life you imagined for yourself with the person you never thought would hurt you is obliterated into a million pieces and you're left standing there thinking, what the hell just happened? How did I not see it coming?

Once you have been hurt like that, no one has the ability to do it again, because, on some subconscious level, it is always in the back of your mind. And I think that really is true. Was that what was holding me back? Is that why I could never feel that deep love?

Or was my definition of love wrong? I remember my first love. He had long dark hair and was a grade above me. We were friends, which meant that we hung out at school, but other than that, he didn't notice me. I used to pine over him, doodling his last name behind my first name, writing poems about him, imagining the day when he would wake up and realize we were destined to be together. Needless to say, he never did. He ended up knocking up his high school sweetheart, getting married in 12th grade, and having a mess of kids. And he broke my heart most likely without even knowing it.

My next first love came when I was around 20 years old. I say my next first because over time I realized I probably wasn't really in love when I was younger. It was more of a crush... an infatuation with the idea of the guy and life I created in my mind. My second first love I actually dated. If you have read my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women (Chapter titled The Savior) , then you know it was visceral, very tumultuous, and almost destroyed me. It was also what I thought was love.  I did everything I was supposed to - when he had to move to another state, I went with him. When he struggled with addiction, I stood by him; when he didn't think he was worthy of love and tried to push me away, I wouldn't let him and tried to show him why he deserved to be loved and how good it could be. I sacrificed my wants, needs, and basically myself again and again thinking that it would  prove my love because to me, love was supposed to be unconditional.

Eventually I ended the relationship, but the pattern continued even into my marriage. The only way to prove that you loved someone was to support them no matter what, even at the expense of your own happiness. After all, if you were supporting their dreams, they would reciprocate and support your's as well and it would even out, Right?

Wrong. 

Inevitably my dreams were put on hold. At first, it was OK. I didn't mind showing my support because well, that's what women were supposed to do. Yep, I said it. Little Miss Independent just said that line of crap. Like many of my friends, I grew up in a time and with a mother that instilled in me that women sacrifice for the men in their life. To be fair, it is the way she grew up too. Women stayed home and took care of the house and kids while the husband worked. So naturally if his job required a move, the family relocated and everyone just had to adapt. My mother once told me, "I'm going to tell you what my grandfather told me. Relationships are 90/10 and you're [woman] the 10."

Naturally I balked at the sentiment. I would reply that relationships should be equal with both partners giving 100/100, to which my mom would laugh and say, "We'll see."

Still there I was in each of my relationships, throwing a bowling game so that my partner wouldn't ruin the night, mad because he was beaten by a girl, or putting my dreams on hold so my ex could pursue one dream after another assuring me that my time would be coming. Whenever I would try to pursue my own dreams, I would be accused of not being supportive.

After my divorce I realized two things -  1) Love isn't unconditional. You have to have conditions in order to have respect. No matter how loving and supportive someone can be, if you push them far enough, they can (and should) leave. My ex once told me that there was nothing I could do that would make him leave me, then got mad when I didn't return the sentiment. The truth was, there were things he could do that would cause me to leave him like cheating, physical violence, etc. Some people see unconditional love as romantic; others see it as carte blanche. People need boundaries and need to know that although you love them, you aren't going to be treated like a doormat to prove it and will walk away if necessary. And while that statement may scare some people that want a guarantee of forever no matter what happens, it can also provide a comfort because it shows that you are staying with someone by choice, not obligation.

The other thing I realized was that I had lost myself. It had never dawned on me just how much I was walking on eggshells and doing things to please my spouse at the cost of my own happiness just because he was so high maintenance and I wanted to seem supportive and avoid a fight, which although never turned physically violent, would involve him throwing things.  Finally, one night after being pushed too far, I stood up for myself and pushed back. When I did, I found myself.

Since then, I vowed to never lose myself again. Hence the image that relationships have taken on in my head: one of suffocation,  sadness, stress, panic, utter sacrifice and loss of self. Is that really what love was? And if so, why the hell would I want it?

I have to admit, I took some comfort in knowing that my friend felt the same way I did. At least I wasn't alone. In fact, the more people I talked to, the more I discovered just how many people were viewing love and relationships the same way I did. When it all came down to it, one person was the giver (the nurturer), and the other is the receiver.

The funny thing is, after everything, I still believed in love. Not the impending doom image of love, but real, crazy about each other, best friends, soul mates, lovers, spend the rest of your life together and still snuggle on the couch watching movies, hand holding when you're old, respectful, reciprocal, trustworthy, smile when you think of them, doesn't make sense love. Which is why I have avoided relationships. In my heart, I don't want to be proven wrong.

I want to...I need to know that it exists. I am still a huge commitment phobe and for the first time in years, I am dating, ironically another commitment phobe who has been very patient with me. And while that could mean we're doomed, it may just mean that we understand each other enough to take down our walls long enough to let each other in, even if we don't let anyone else enter. Only time will tell. But I know one thing for certain - I believe I'm willing  to redefine my idea of love and to try be open to it because I'm worthy of it and I deserve to be loved like that.

Someone once said, "Do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got." Well, I don't like what I've gotten so far, so I'm going to give it a shot. Right now, all I can do is try. Because when it all comes down to it, I want to live in a world where there is true love.

Don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single available in hardcover and Ebook/Kindle on Amazon.com Ebook link to Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.com Hard cover link B&N













Monday, August 11, 2014

Prince Charming - Guy #3 that is Keeping You Single

As little girls most of us grew up watching movies showcasing a women in some sort of predicament in which she needed to be rescued by her very own Prince Charming, at which time the happy couple, usually knowing each other for a full 15 minutes, would consequently ride off into the sunset creating the perfect happily ever after storybook ending.

Thanks Disney.

This became the standard to which we measured all of our relationships. Somewhere in the recesses of our brained it became engrained that the steps to a successful relationship were as follows:

Step 1: Be lonely and miserable while somehow remaining cheery and optimistic.
Step 2: Sing a song to (or with) animals or inanimate objects as they help you clean or get dressed
Step 3: See Prince Charming and immediately know it is true love.
Step 4: Wait for him to save you from your miserable life
Step 5: Live happily ever after.

Easy-peasy. End of story

OK, in retrospect maybe the whole bursting into song and singing to animals about our love lives should have been the first clue that Disney was full of crap, but we were kids. Then, as we got older, it seemed that many movies glorified the damsel in distress relationship scenario. Clearly Hollywood knew something we didn’t. So all we had to do was happen upon this beautiful man and wait for him to come and rescue us from our humdrum lives, right?

Unfortunately what Disney (and for years, Hollywood) failed to show us was what happened after the happy couple road off into the sunset together. We weren’t privy to the fights Cinderella and Prince Charming had about him getting falling down drunk and hitting on every maiden at the ball each night; or that Prince Philip was crazy jealous and demanded Snow White stop socializing with the Seven Dwarfs. We didn’t feel Ariel’s pain realizing that she didn’t really need her voice back because Prince Eric never listens to her anyway.

No instead we succumb to the fantasy that we would meet the love of our life and then everything that would be perfect and easy. And while many women went on to realize that fairytales aren’t real, some of you are still holding out for that Prince Charming – the man that knows you perfectly without knowing you at all.

The hope of this imaginary perfect man may lead to the dismissal of  men that you meet but may not have that instant animalistic attraction. And if you do find someone that you feel that visceral connection to, you may mistake that attraction for love at first sight. Often times, this causes a relationship built mainly on sex. The attraction is so strong that you tend to overlook other deal breaking flaws. It is important to understand the difference between infatuation and love and never confuse the two. ( See previous blog titled: Mr. Kryptonite). 

Another reason Prince Charming poses a threat to your romantic life is the tendency to see him as the key to your happiness. Sometimes when we get so wrapped up in the idea of love that we fool ourselves into thinking that the only way we can ever be happy and complete is to find the One. I'm going to let you in on a huge relationship secret that so many people don’t know: If you aren’t happy with yourself when you are alone, you won’t be happy with someone in a relationship. In order to achieve happiness you have to reach a level of self-acceptance and happiness with the person you are. If not, you will continue to look to someone else to fulfill that empty place inside and be disappointed when they don’t come through. After all, if you don’t know what makes you happy, how can they?

Once you reach a place where you are happy with yourself, you will be a better partner and companion. But even then relationships take work which leads us to the biggest of the Prince Charming Pitfalls - disappointment. Prince Charming has no flaws. He always does the right thing and never behaves contrary to what you expect. He is a classy, charismatic, chivalrous gentleman that is great with kids, has an amazing job, gets along with your family, and has the same morals and ideals as you do. He is always understanding, never cross or grumpy, and exists to make you happy. Prince Charming is placed on a pedestal and becomes this impossible ideal to which every man is measured. If a guy fails to stack up, it seems the only option is to end the relationship because, obviously, if the guy were the right guy, he would be automatically in sync with your wants and needs.

Real relationships are not so simple. People have conflicting opinions and different backgrounds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is destined for failure. It is important to communicate your feelings and expectations from the beginning and give someone time to understand them. Listen, none of us come with a manual. The only way to learn is over time through trial and error, so you have to give someone a chance. True that handsome guy on the bus may not embody everything you’ve ever imagined you’d end up with but have you ever stopped to think maybe you don’t possess all of the qualities his ideal woman does either. Maybe he thought he’d marry a bike riding, guitar wielding, 5’9” brunette covered in tattoos or a prim and proper southern bell that never uttered a curse word in her life. That doesn’t mean he can’t fall in love with a 5’4 red-head with a sailor’s mouth that has never ridden a bike in her life.

Fairytales are fine as long as you take them for what they are – unrealistic fantasies. Real people have flaws. Nobody is perfect. No one can read your mind. That doesn’t mean you should close the door on the possibility of a relationship just because upon meeting, a man doesn’t know the inner workings of your soul. Don't let a good guy with morals, that strives to be a better person, and tries to make you happy get away while you hold out for an imaginary Prince Charming that only exists in your dreams. Real trumps imaginary every time.


**Don’t forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single Women available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dating 101 (Because clearly some of you need it)

WHAT has happened to dating?

OK, I know I am veering off the series of my last few posts dealing with men that are keeping you single, but I have had an overwhelming amount of people (men and women) that have asked me the same question:

WHAT has happened to dating?

It seems since we have entered the age of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and every other means of communication we have forgotten how to, well, communicate. It seems that no one knows how to date anymore. The days of a guy calling a girl, asking her out, taking her to dinner, paying, and then calling for a follow up date have been replaced by vague, "Wanna hangout?" texts. What does that even mean? Is it a date? Are we buds? Are you 12? Are we hanging out one on one or in a group? Are all of your friends going to be there? Should I invite mine? The simple text leads to a myriad of questions and frustration, and rightfully so.

To help out my single guys and girls out there I have developed a set of dating guidelines:

Rule #1: Ask her for her number, and then call her.
Don't get it through a friend or hit her up on Facebook or whatever various form of social media is your favorite. Be an adult. If you can't do this, then you are too young and immature to date. Grow a set, call her, and if the conversation goes well, ask her out.

Rule #2: Make it clear that you want to take her on a date.
Don't be vague and invite her to "hang out" or "kick it" with you and your friends. Again, you are not a 12 year old. You're not asking her to go to the mall and walk around because you aren't old enough to drive. A date is not a marriage proposal...it is a date. It is designed for you to get to know someone. No contracts are being signed. No rings are being exchanged. Don't freak out or get all weird.  If you meet someone and you like her, ask her out on an actual date.

Rule #3: Be respectful.
Don't wait until Thursday to ask her out on Friday.It implies that you were waiting for anything better to come up before you decided to settle for going out with her. It also implies that you think she has nothing to do but sit around and wait for you to call at which time, she should drop everything to spend time with you. It is disrespectful and arrogant and starts the date off on a bad foot. If she drops everything to go out, it sets a precedent that you can always call her last minute. If she tells you she is busy, it makes you feel like maybe she isn't interested enough to go out with you. Do the right thing and ask her out with at least 3 days notice.

Rule #4: Have a plan.
Don't call her or show up to pick her up without something in mind. Discuss a specific time and place. I always recommend having 2 or 3 ideas to choose from that you can present. Speak about it on the phone so you can dress appropriately. You don't want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt only to find her wearing a dress and heels. If you are going to do something outdoors-y , let her know. If you are taking her to a nice dinner followed by dancing, tell her. Whatever you do, make sure you take into account what she likes. Just because you are a hardcore baseball fan, doesn't mean she is. The first date should be about going somewhere that you both feel comfortable.

Rule #5: No group dates unless there are extenuating circumstances.
If possible, try not to make the first date a group date. Again, the first date should be about getting to know each other. If you go out in a group, your date may feel self-conscious, like they are being placed under a microscope. This may cause them to clam up. After all, she doesn't even know you yet. Now she has to dazzle your friends. Sure you may be comfortable and your pals make be warm and welcoming, but unless you discussed on the phone a favorite team or artist that you both love that you just happen to be going to see  that week and have an extra ticket, make the first date a one on one thing. Or if you do decide to go out in a group, take her to grab a bite before (or after) with just the two of  you.

Rule #6: Dress to impress.
Put some thought into the date and what you are wearing.Whether you are going to a 5-star restaurant or a football game, take pride in your appearance. I'm not saying you have to bust out a 3 piece suit but show her that you cared enough about the date and seeing her to not just put on what ever wrinkled clothes you grabbed off the floor because they smelled the least dirty. Shower, wear deodorant, comb your hair, and look presentable for the date. That means no holey shirts or pants.

Rule #7: Make the first date casual.
Yes, it is great that you can afford to go to the fanciest restaurant in town, but if you start off with that, you kind of have no where to go but down. Plus many people behave differently when they are dressed up and in an environment where they are expected to act a certain way. If you want to get to know someone, you should do so in a relaxed atmosphere. That way you focus less on where you are and more on what is being said.

Rule #8: Touch base before the date.
Look, it is awesome that you called her and made plans in advance, but just about every woman has that fear that she will get all dolled up, be sitting there waiting for you to pick her up (or meet her somewhere) and then, (Gulp!) you won't show. It's true. When it comes to first dates, in the recesses of our brain our insecurities start to peek out, we get nervous and think, "he's not going to show" or  "what if he forgets?" So if it is Monday and the date is on Friday, and you haven't talked or texted at all throughout the week, give her a quick call or shoot a little text the day before or the morning of that says something like," Looking forward to tomorrow (or tonight)." It calms the nerves and let's her know that you haven't completely forgotten about her. If you have spoken to her between the time you made the date and the actual date, this isn't necessary, but if you have had a crazy week or are just the type that doesn't like to talk much before a first date, touching base is a basic courtesy. Look things happen - grandmas die; bosses make you work late, people get sick. You don't know her, so it would be very easy to get wrapped up in something or just blow her off. It's good to be certain everything is still a go. And if it's not still a go for some reason or another, have the decency to let her know. Don't just stand her up. That's so not cool!

Rules #9:Don't be text needy.
Ladies, I know you are super excited about this handsome, funny, smart new guy you met. So far, he has done everything right. Don't screw it up by texting or calling him 500 times  If you are texting him every day, you are already coming off as needy and insecure. If he hasn't talked or texted you since you made plans and you want to shoot him a text the night before or the day of just to confirm, that his fine, but keep it to a minimum. You don't need to tell him every thought that pops in your head. If you do, you'll scare him away. Keep a little bit of mystery and give his mind time to wander, think about the date, and get excited about it.. He can't do that if you won't leave him alone. And do NOT under any circumstances, friend request him on FB. Nothing says, "Crazy Stalker Chick" like friend requesting him right after you meet him. There is no need to comb through his page, friends list, and decipher every post with your friends before you even go on one date. Besides, you don't know him. For all you know he may be a serial killer.You don't need to give him free access to where you live, what school you went to, where you are and who you are with, or your daily routine just yet.

Rule #10: No inappropriate texts.
Men, do not, under any circumstances text her a picture of your junk. And do not ask her to send pictures of her boobs or anything else. Let's just go ahead and say that any parts that would be covered by a bathing suit are off limits.I can't believe I even need to say this, but unfortunately I have friends that have met guys that thought this was appropriate to do. It is not.

Rule #11: Don't expect an immediate commitment.
You had the best date. Seriously, people will probably make movies one day about how it was thee perfect date. That's great. But now the date has been over for like an hour and you haven't heard from him. Now it's been a day...or two and you haven't heard from him. Or maybe you have...and have even gone out on 2 or 3 more dates and they have been fantastic. Now you can't help but wonder, is he seeing anyone else? Are you exclusive? Where is this going?

Before you go updating your relationship status, take a second and breathe. I get it. I'm not the kind of person that dates 5 guys at once. If I like a guy, I like him and am probably not seeing a handful of guys in addition to him. Still, there is no need to rush the whole relationship thing. Take the time to get to know someone. Go out with him a few times, meet his friends, see what he is all about before you decide this is the person you want to spend the next 2 months, 6 years, or the rest of your life with. Enjoy getting to know him.

Now, that said, he doesn't have the right to string you along forever. If you have gone out on 5 or 6 dates and you really like him, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what he is looking for before you let yourself get too attached. Is he looking for a relationship? A booty call? Or maybe he just got out of a toxic relationship and is just trying to get his dating feet wet. He doesn't have to commit to you right then, but it is a good idea to make sure you are on the same page before one of you gets too serious.

Rule #12: 3rd date schmird date.
Recently one of my friends went on a few dates that were very promising. She called me before date number 3 and was extremely nervous. They had only kissed once but she was afraid the 3rd date meant that he would want to get intimate. While she really liked him, she wasn't sure how she felt, how he felt, or where they might be heading.

Whether it was conversations among friends or polls done in a magazine somehow, people got the idea that the 3rd date = sex. Sure that may be true for some people, but it's not true for everyone or every relationship. Sex shouldn't be based on the number of dates; it should be based on how you feel. So if the 3rd date comes, don't stress or feel pressured into doing something you aren't ready to do. And while sometimes sex can be just about 2 people together in the moment, if you really like someone, talk to them before you take it to that level. Is it just sex or do you expect to be exclusive after this? Are you the only one he is sleeping with? While it might not be sexy, discussing your expectations before you get down and dirty can help to keep things from getting ugly afterward.

Rule #13: Don't expect him to pay.
Yes, it would be lovely to be taken out and not have to pay, but this is not the 1950's. Back then, most girls (women) didn't work, so it was customary for the man to pay. But today, both sexes work, the cost of living is high, and, in most cases, the pay isn't offsetting the extra money we are putting out. So if you go out, offer to pay your half. If he accepts it, fine. If he declines it, be gracious. If you are uncomfortable with not paying your share then let him get dinner and offer to pay for something else like snacks at the movies. But don't, under any circumstances, let him chintz out on the bill.

One of my friends had a guy ask her to dinner. After they finished eating and having drinks, the guy told her he didn't have any money and asked her to pay for the entire dinner. There is one word for this guy - Mooch! He knew before he asked her out that he didn't have any money, but instead of canceling, he decided to put her in an awkward position. He could have told her he was broke or picked something inexpensive to do, but he didn't. He just scammed her. If a guy can't at least pay his share, then he can't afford to date.  

I hope these help clarify some of the expectations and guidelines for dating in the age of technology and social media. These should get you through the first few dates. After that, you are on your own.

**Don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single women now available for Kindle and IPad at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com**

Amazon book linkAmazon Link to Why Am I Still Single?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Men That Are Keeping You Single - Guy Type # 2 Mr. Kryptonite

You can't explain it. You don't know what it is, but there is just something there. Some visceral, chemical, unexplainable, magnetic attraction between you and this one particular guy. Every time you see him he makes your thing ping. He has a way of looking at you, smiling at you, saying your name, that immediately sends chills up and down your spine. You can feel the adrenaline pumping and your heart rate increase as the excitement and anticipation builds. The only thoughts you are able to formulate are naughty ones. All you can think about is ripping off his clothes and doing nasty (fun) things together.

There is only one problem - he is completely wrong for you and you know it. He has some deep personality flaw that let's you know for certain you could never actually date him. Maybe he has an addiction problem that he has no interest in trying to kick, or is an over the top Mama's boy. Maybe he is emotionally unavailable. Maybe he is a completely self absorbed total flake, or has a major commitment phobia. Maybe you clash on too many important issues. Whatever the reason, you know that if you were ever to enter into a relationship with him, it would be a total disaster.

But still, you can't deny that chemistry. Every time you see him your knees get weak and you are powerless to resist him. He is your kryptonite.

Why he is keeping you single -

The attraction between the two of you is so strong and the sex is so good that it can begin to cloud your judgment. He is like a drug and you just can't get enough. The thought of his touch makes you quiver with excitement. The verbal and nonverbal foreplay makes you giddy, like a school girl about to be touched for the first time. The temporary high and release of hormones and endorphins is so intoxicating that you find yourself questioning whether or not you could actually have a relationship with him. You start to think, who needs kids? Is a cocaine addiction really that bad? So he has a wife...is it really that big of a deal?

Yes, it is that big of a deal.

Although you may not see it right away, eventually when the steam dissipates, the sweat is wiped away,  the orgasms are over, and the smell of sex clears the air you'll discover you aren't left with much else. The issues you thought could be overlooked or hoped would work themselves out will soon be glaring at you as you sit across the dinner table from each other in dead silence or have a knockdown-drag out fight for the 20th time.

At first you may "solve" the problems by not dealing with them. Whenever issues come up and a fight or deafening silence ensues, you end the fight or break the silence by having mind blowing sex. You may even get to the point where it almost feels like foreplay. Or maybe you choose to avoid the touchy subjects altogether. What you don't do is deal with them because you know you can't.

I'll admit, when you have a primal connection like this, it is hard to just end it. You want that feeling. Plus, you may be afraid that you won't find it again. That is why it is important to be honest with yourself and explore the reason for the attraction. Do you like that he is so different from you? Is he the first guy that ever made you have an orgasm and you are afraid you won't be able to have one with someone else? Do you have commitment issues and like the safety of knowing that you would never get serious with him? Is he the first person that you have ever been able to be open with about your sexual needs and desires? Do you like that he takes control? Or maybe you like the excitement and power of knowing that he finds you so attractive and irresistible?

Whatever the reason, once you identify it, you may gain insight into yourself and discover why your other relationships haven't worked out. For instance, are you afraid that someone you could see having a future with or marrying  would judge you for your fetishes or sexual appetite? Maybe you're scared they wouldn't think you were girlfriend or wife material? Perhaps you had an ex-boyfriend that was intimidated by your sexuality? Or had a parent that, under the guise of religion, made you feel like sexual urges and desires were something to be ashamed of and were bad.

Once you get to the root of your attraction, it can help you to be more open to a new relationship with someone that has similar ideals and doesn't come with too much baggage for you to entertain a commitment . You'll realize that your needs are important and how necessary it is to be open about them. By acknowledging your needs you will be able to better communicate them with your partner so you can forge that connection and create sexual chemistry.

Listen, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with taking a lover. If you are single, and he is single, and you aren't ready for a relationship for some reason or another, then by all means take a lover. But the minute you decide you want a deeper commitment and are ready to date then you have to end it with Mr. Kryptonite. After all, if you don't get away from it, eventually kryptonite can weaken and destroy you.

Be sure to watch for my next blog post about another type of guy that is keeping you single. And don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Women now available on Kindle and for the iPad.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: FREE BOOK GIVE AWAY!!! To celebrate my return to blogging Pie Plate Publishing is giving away a free signed copy of my book. Go to their Facebook page and comment under the post. Please share this post so that any friends or family that are single or are having relationship issues  can have a chance to win :) Winner will be chosen at 6pm tomorrow evening (June 20th, 2014).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Men That Are Keeping You Single

As many of you know, I have written a book titled Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single Women. In it, I delve into the different personality types and how many women sabotage their own relationships without knowing it. However, sometimes, it's not just your personality type that can be keeping you single. It may have something to do with the type of men you have in your life. In this post we are going to take a look at the first type of guy that could be keeping you from a happy relationship.

Your Best Friend -
You have been friends forever (or at least it seems like it).  He is so great! He is the one that has always been there for you. He has seen you at your best and at your worst and has stuck by you through thick and thin. He knows all about your crazy family, accepts the fact that you only eat M&M's in even numbers, and even tolerates your karaoke singing even though your voice makes dogs howl. When another guy broke your heart, he was there to pick up the pieces and reassure you that the guy was an idiot that didn't deserve you. He is respectful and fun. You don't have to dress up or try to impress him. You never struggle for conversation. He is the one person you can be yourself with and always count on to be there. You have even made the pact - you know the one - if neither of you are married by the time your 30? 40? or some other arbitrary age, you will marry each other.

Why he is keeping single -

He is your fake boyfriend. Everything is so easy and comfortable with your bestie and dating can be so exhausting. Who wants to go out on one bad date after another? No one seems to get you like he does anyway. Whenever you do muster up the energy to go on a date, you subconsciously (or consciously) compare every other guy to him. How can a new person you just met possibly compete with a guy that knows just what to say and when to say it; to bring you a tube of raw chocolate chip cookie dough when you're upset; that you hate yellow roses because your stupid, cheating ex used to buy them for you whenever he was feeling guilty; and that has a million inside jokes with you? You immediately set high expectations for any new guy you meet and may be disappointed when he doesn't automatically know what to do and when to do it. He hasn't known you for years and doesn't have the inside track to your soul, so it may seem like he is falling short causing you to cut him off before you ever really give him a shot. You find yourself making comparisons or thinking about how you wish your best friend was with you watching this movie so you could be making fun of the people in front of you while throwing popcorn in the air and seeing who could catch the most in their mouth before the movie starts.

And while you're not having sex (or maybe you are) there is a level of intimacy there that no other guy seems to be able to match. And if you need a hug because you're sad or need to snuggle for a minute because your freezing, he is perfectly willing to oblige. It's harmless, right?

Wrong. It is keeping you from wanting and searching for that intimacy with someone else. If you're always with him, you're not meeting new guys. Whether you are taking him to a wedding instead of going alone or are hanging together at a sports bar, a man that would normally approach you may not because he may automatically assume you are a couple. You are missing out on opportunities to meet people by unwittingly making yourself unavailable.

Now I'm not saying dump your best guy friend. In fact, I think every girl should have a best guy friend. But you do need to set up some boundaries and/or use him to you advantage. First of all, if you are having sex or the occasional drunken make out session with him, stop. He is a crutch and the comfort of knowing he is there whenever you want to connect with someone in that way will prevent you from trying to find that connection with someone else.

Next, use him to your advantage. Does he have any male friends, new work colleagues, or teammates from a softball league that he can introduce you to? Having him make the introduction will not only help weed out some bad dudes, but will also help you find one that will be more accepting of your friendship, which, let's face it, some guys have a hard time dealing with and understanding. It could be a win-win because he will have the inside scoop on the guys so you can be sure he won't set you up with some womanizing jerk and your friendship is more likely to survive the new relationship.

Finally, schedule girl time. That means he won't be your wing man at the bar. He can't go out with you and your girlfriends on certain nights. No one will be able to mistake him for being your boyfriend because it is strictly a girls only night.

Second reason he is keeping you single -

He is your "what if" guy - This is the other end of the spectrum. He is your best friend. You share everything together. Everyone thinks you are perfect together and the truth is, you probably are, but you are afraid to cross that line. After all, what if it doesn't work out? You don't want your friendship to change. That would be awful. But still, you can't stop yourself from wondering what if he is the one?

I am going to give you a little piece of advice...go for it. I know all the reasons you are going to ramble on about why you shouldn't but I'm here to tell you, do it anyway and here is why...

Let's say he starts dating another girl or you start dating a new guy. Eventually your friendship is going to change. I know you don't think it will, but trust me, it will. For fun, let's say he gets a girlfriend. He starts spending more and more time with her and less time with you. You get jealous and maybe a little angry. Is he just going to drop you now? That's not going to happen. So you try to make plans for just you and him, but his girlfriend isn't too keen on that. So you decide to tag along on some of their dates. This way maybe you can become friends with his girlfriend, and also let her know that hey, I've been around way before you and I'm not going anywhere. Only, his new girlfriend doesn't understand why you always have to be around. You two have all of these inside jokes that she isn't a part of and suddenly, she starts to feel like the third wheel. And seriously, why do you need to call him to come over to kill a spider? He isn't your boyfriend. Go get your own spider killer.

Now only one of two things can happen here: Either he ends up breaking up with his new girlfriend because she is "jealous" and doesn't understand your relationship or he distances himself from you causing you to drift apart. Ultimately the friendship has changed.

Still don't think so? Let's say he broke up with his girlfriend. Your bestie has already started to question his feelings for you. After all, he just dumped another girl for you. And you know you have already been questioning your feelings for him. It's like having a toy that you have had sitting in your room forever. It is always there whenever you want it. Then one day, you go in your room and realize it's no longer on your shelf. You go into the living room to find the neighbor kid playing with YOUR favorite toy. Now it is all you want to play with. You never realized how great it was and how much you loved it until you saw someone else playing with it. Sometimes it's the same way with people. We just assume that person that means the most to us will always be there for us because, well, they always have been. It's not until we think we might lose them that we realize how much they mean.

And again, you do compare every guy you have ever dated to him. But kissing him would be so weird. Besides you don't know if you can think of him that way. And what if you did try it and it doesn't work out? That would be awful.

But, I'm telling you, if you have ever thought what if then you need to suck it up and go for it. You owe it to yourself and your bestie to at least try it. Yes, you may be afraid and that is natural. After all, so many relationships haven't worked out. But until you are with the right one, none of them will work out. It may end up being everything you've ever wanted, but you won't know if you don't take a chance.

And If it doesn't work out, at least you will know and the question will be answered. And in time, you two may even become better friends because of it. After all, the sexual tension and that pesky what if will be out of the way. Until then, your friendship will always be tainted because whenever you and your boyfriend have a bad fight or your bestie ends up divorced from his 2nd wife, on some level you will wonder what if you two were supposed to be together? It will affect any advice you give and any decisions you make. Every boyfriend will be compared to him. He will always be in the back of your mind making you question if the one your dating is really the one.

Watch out for my next blog post where we will explore another guy that is keeping you single.

Be sure to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women available on Amazon.com and @ BarnesandNoble.com








Friday, April 11, 2014

No One is Out of Your League

"You are no better than anyone else; but you are just as good."

Growing up this was a phrase that I would hear my parents utter occasionally throughout the years. At the time, it seemed like one of those little pearls of wisdom that you don't pay much attention to like the motivational, "Can't and never could." You hear it, you repeat it, but because it is more abstract, you don't necessarily file it with the more practical advice like "Look both ways before you cross the street" or "Measure twice; cut once."


The gravity of the statement and it's impact on my life never really hit me until I was in my early 20's. I was relaying a random story to may sister-in-law about my day where I had to interact (and correct) someone in a position of power. To me it was no big deal, but as I was telling the story, I could actually see her eyes widen as she became anxious just listening to the details, causing me to stop mid sentence, look at her befuddled and ask, "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"


She said, " Oh my God, I could never do that."


"Do what?" I replied still unsure what the problem was. I hadn't been rude or condescending to the individual, so why was my story putting my sister-in-law on the verge of a panic attack?


"Talk to someone above my class. Someone that is better than me."


"No one is better than me,"  was the automated response that came out of my mouth. "I am no better than anyone else but I am just as good,"


"See you, your sisters, and brothers are all like that. I am so jealous of that. That is something your parents taught you. I wish I could think that way. I wasn't taught that way. I was taught that we all have a place."


It was the first time anyone had pointed that out to me. It wasn't arrogance on my part; it was a simple truth to me. If I wanted something (or someone) I went after it. I was never one to back down from a challenge, be afraid to ask questions, or stand up for myself or others. I often wondered how others could sit by idly as someone was bullied, would never talk to their single crush, or could remain quiet when they knew how to do something that someone else of authority might not know how to do without offering help. I had always attributed it to shyness or being an introvert, but maybe it was something more. Maybe it was something that they were taught.


This recently came up again when I was talking to a friend about leagues. My friend was telling me about a girl he liked but that he wouldn't ask out because he deemed her to be out of his league. This was a wonderful, intelligent, handsome man. It made me sad to think he was limiting himself and made realize how often people are their own worst obstacles.To me, no one is out of anyone's league. While there are always reasons a relationship may not work - having nothing in common, opposing religious views, wanting/not wanting kids - being in different leagues shouldn't be one.


I am lucky enough to be blessed with great girlfriends and fantastic guy friends. Some of which, at one point or another, have liked each other. I would always encourage the guy to ask the girl out, especially if I knew she liked him. Still many of the guys would give the league excuse. Meanwhile, the girl would be sitting home alone on Friday and Saturday nights wondering what was wrong with her.


Look, we've all seen those beautiful models with those not-so-handsome guys or some totally hot guy with some girl that would be categorized as a "Plain Jane." Why? Because they didn't believe in leagues. The truth is what the league mentality really boils down to is a fear of rejection and low self-esteem. If you are interested in someone and they are interested in you and you connect then leagues,whether social, physical, or some other won't be an issue. Instead, you will introduce each other to new experiences and grow as a couple. 


To me, leagues are used as a defense mechanism or an excuse not to try. If you want a better job, work for it or get the schooling necessary. If you think someone deserves better than you, then be better. Be the kind of man or woman you think that person deserves. I'm not saying to change the person that you inherently are, because the person you are with needs to like you for you. But if you find someone you truly connect with or if there is something you really want in life, don't limit yourself and your choices because you don't think you can measure up. Instead acknowledge the real reason for your fears and doubts, toss them aside, and go for it. 


Remember, if you're going to be in a league, be in a league of your own.





Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Betting Against Greyhounds -PLEASE Share and Help Spread the Word

Normally, I try to keep my blogs light and funny, but today I am writing about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Plus, I made a promise.

When I was a little girl my family would take annual trips to Florida. It was during one of these trips that I went to my first ever dog race. My aunt  had really wanted to go and because I was such an animal lover, my parents thought I would think it was fun to watch the dogs run around the track. While they were looking over the names of the dogs and assessing the odds I watched as the dogs were taken to the area where they would prepare to run. Most dogs I had seen up until that point had been fluffy and furry, a sharp contrast to the lean, short haired, muscular animals that now walked the track.

The bets were placed and we cheered as the dogs bolted out of the gates and chased the mechanical rabbit around the track. My dad and aunt both won small amounts of money. Had they listened to the young girl that just loved looking at the pretty dogs, they would have won the Trifecta.

I remember that day as a fun family outing. Today, I am disgusted by it because little did I know that while my family and other patrons were placing their bets, we were betting against greyhounds.

Fast forward 20+ years. I was living in Orlando with my dog Sasha, an American Eskimo (Spitz) that behaved more human-like than well, most humans I know. My fiance' and I were entertaining the idea of getting another dog. He suggested that we get a greyhound. Now, other than my experience with the track, I knew little about the breed, and truth be told, I liked my knee high, fluff ball dogs. Still he insisted that we go to GPA (Greyhound Pets of America) to look at the dogs. Now, I have a whole other story about GPA, but, to avoid going off on a tangent, I will refrain from getting into it now. So to keep a long story short bottom line is I fell in love with the breed, but due to politics was unable to get one. Frustrated, I left GPA and contacted the dog track to find out if there was any other avenue I might be able to go through to obtain a greyhound.

A woman informed me that although they weren't allowed to solicit, if someone called saying they didn't want to go through GPA, she was allowed to take their name and pass it along to any trainers that might be getting rid of dogs. Score! A few hours later we received a call and took off to the track where we met a man (we'll call Dan)  that brought us into a room filled with caged dogs. That's where we first met Topper.

There he was, scrunched up in his cage that was stacked on top of another cage. He did not even have enough room to stand, sit or turn around. He was stuck in a constant crouching position. His legs were so muscular from being given steroids that his stomach didn't even touch the ground. The trainer led us outside to a pen filled with mud and dog crap. It had a trough in the corner where the animals were fed. Dan walked out and let Topper off of the leash. The poor dog took off and ran to a corner shuttering uncontrollably. He broke my heart.

Dan explained that Topper was probably a little skittish because he had to use "The whip...uh..."weapon," he said quickly correcting himself, earlier that day when some dogs began fighting, which is apparently something they do often.  He explained that they put the food in the trough and the dogs fight to eat. Topper allowed me to approach him. His eyes looked so sad. Dan informed us Shadow Rage (Topper's racing name) was the fastest dog they had...there was only one problem. When he got on the track he ran the wrong way, which if you ask me, made him the smartest dog too. We decided to take him right then knowing we couldn't leave him there.

When we got Topper home, the first thing we did was change his name. Every time we called him, he would cower and shake as if he was going to be beaten. I came up with Apollo because it meant strong, handsome, striking boy. He seemed to like this and began answering to it immediately as if it was the name he was meant to have all along.

Next we had to teach him how to lie down and how to sit. I mean to literally sit and lie down...not the command; the action. He couldn't do those things. The vet said once his muscles calmed down after being jacked up for so long, it would come easier to him. Feeding him was another issue. He would grab as much food as he could, run away from the bowl, swallow it whole, then regurgitate it and eat it. I assume this was his survival mechanism from being with the other dogs. He must have grabbed as much as he could before he would get attacked. I began hand feeling him a little at a time until he learned that no one was going to take it away from him.

There were other obstacles we had to overcome as well like teaching him about sliding glass doors which he ran into more than once and how to go up stairs. I remember he was so excited the first time he made it up the stairs. For about 4 years he had watched me go up them and down them while he waited at the bottom until one day he decided today was going to be the day he tried it. I turned around and there he stood beaming with pride in the upstairs bedroom like, "Look Mom. Look what I did!" Getting him down the stair was another story (that took another year to learn). in the meantime, I had to break my back carrying a 90lb greyhound down the stairs.

Still I think the biggest obstacle was getting him to trust men. From day 1, whenever I left Apollo would run into the corner of the bedroom, cower and shake until I got home. He even had an accident once or twice when my then fiance's friend (also a man) came over. Getting him to be comfortable did not happen over night. In fact, it wasn't until Apollo almost tore off his leg and my fiance and I rushed him to the vet for emergency surgery that he finally began to trust my fiance and view him as his dad.

Apollo died a few years ago. He got cancer in his right front paw. It had to be amputated, but he still ran around at full speed wagging that hook (tail) of his. Before long, I found out the cancer had spread to his back and he could no longer walk or stand and was in pain so I had to put him down. I know it is just something that happens, but I will always believe that the wear and tear his body was put through at the track somehow contributed to his having cancer.

I do not have children. That said, Apollo is the closest thing I will ever have to a son. Some people won't get that and I feel sorry for those people. I made a promise to him that after seeing the horrors of the track and the conditions he lived in that I would do my best to educate people and put an end to this barbaric sport. Since then I have done even more research only to learn that  most dogs are only let out of their cages for 1 hour a day, are packed in trucks and transported without air or bathroom stops for hours which has lead to heat exhaustion and death; are hit with whips/weapons and pumped full of steroids; puppies are assessed to see which ones are thought to be the best performers (farm culls). The others are killed. As are thousands of the dogs that are not re-homed or sold to animal testing labs.

Topper's (a.k.a. Apollo's) cage was not even this tall.
Picture from animal-rights-action.com

I wanted to tell you about Apollo so that you could see the face of an amazing dog, friend, and loyal companion. This is for you Big Dog :) Thankfully, I no longer live in a state that condones greyhound racing. If you do, please start a petition through Change.org and urge as many people as you can to sign it. You must live in the state that has it in order to start it. And please pass this article along to help educate others. These are beautiful, graceful, living, breathing beings. Not bets to be placed. Thank you.
RIP Apollo "Big Dog"
Apollo's vet sent me this of his paw print
My most valuable possession

If you would like more information here are more articles citing the barbaric practices and a list of states that still have greyhound racing. Please help spread the word.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-bershadker/the-abomination-of-greyho_b_4905456.html
http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/greyhound_racing/facts/greyhound_racing_facts.html
http://www.animal-rights-action.com/greyhound-dogs.html

States that still allow greyhound racing:

Iowa
West Virginia
Arkansas
Texas
Arizona
*Alabama
*Florida

Alabama and Florida are considered the worst because they do not have top report injuries that occur (broken bones, fractured skull, paralyzation, etc).



Friday, February 7, 2014

How Not to End Up Single On Valentine's Day (and Maybe Even Get Yourself Laid)

It's that time of year again. Red and pink everywhere. Hearts, balloons, scary overgrown  babies with bow and arrows aimed at you. It looks like Valentine's Day threw up all over Walmart. And here you are trying to figure out what to get the love of your life. For those of you that said, "You mean I have to get her a gift?" Stop reading. There is clearly no hope for you.

For those of you that are trying desperately to find the perfect gift, I have come up with a list that will either get you laid or get you single. However, that sounds a little crass, and since I am a classy broad from here on out I will be referring to them as Bad Bets and Better Bets.

Bad Bet: Workout clothing or equipment
OK while this should be a no brainer, apparently to some people, it's not. Valentine's Day is not the time to take the opportunity to say, Hey Tons of Fun, I think you are a porker and need to work out more. This makes you an insensitive jerk and frankly, well we sure as hell aren't going to let you see us naked after we get this gift.

Better Bet: Lingerie
Lingerie is the best of both worlds: It says, hey I think you are incredibly sexy just the way you are and I want to get down and dirty with you plus, let's face it, the chances of you seeing it on her are pretty darn good. Bonus points for taking into consideration her comfort level when picking out the gift. If she is confident, go for a sexy bra/pantie/garter combo. If she is a little self conscious a babydoll nightie is a great bet. Remember the sexier she feels, the luckier you will get ;)

Bad Bet: Cheap Candy Hearts filled with chocolate from Walmart or the drug store
Nothing says, "Oh shit! Today is Valentine's day?!?" like one of those Russel Stover candy hearts filled with assorted chocolates. Even if you bought it in advance, it still looks like a last minute gift that you put absolutely no thought into at all.

Better Bet: Fresh Chocolate Covered Strawberries (or her favorite type of candy or cupcakes) from a specialty shop. 
It shows you pay attention to what she likes and made the extra effort by going out of your way to get them. You can even go online and order from specialty shops and have them sent to her.

Bad Bet: Poor Planning
You think you are doing a nice thing. You want to take your wife/girlfriend out for a nice evening. One problem...it's Valentine's Day and you forgot to make reservations. Now she is standing in her 3-4 inch heels, hungry, waiting 2+ hours for a table.

This also goes for not planning a sitter if you have kids. You cannot...I REPEAT cannot come home on Valentine's day, tell your wife to get ready because you are going to dinner then sit on the couch and expect her to find a sitter, get ready, and be happy about it. You are putting all of the pressure on her and then, when she can't find a sitter on VALENTINE'S DAY, you give her the old shoulder shrug I tried as you sit on the couch and watch Sports Center.No, this makes you a schmuck.

Better Bet: Plan Ahead.
Make reservations and if necessary, arrange for a sitter in advance. This means making certain that if your kids have any important projects they need to get done, they are finished the day before so that your wife/girlfriend isn't stressed about leaving the child to fend for his or herself. Again, (and you may notice a recurring theme here) it shows you took the time to think about her and put some effort into it.

Bad Bet: Doing Nothing
Congratulations...you're single! I know....I know... you both agreed that you weren't going to do anything special but trust me...do something special. She is going to be hearing about the flowers and jewelry her girlfriends received from their boyfriends or husbands and when asked what she received, she is going to get to reply, "We decided not to do anything." Trust me, by the 4th or 5th time she has to mumble this, she is going to be thinking, you know he really could have done something. Three weeks later, you end up in a huge fight about something stupid like washing your socks and underwear together and you are left wondering why your usually sane girl went all Lorena Bobbitt on you. This is why. Yes it is passive aggressive and yes she shouldn't have said Valentine's Day didn't matter when it did. And the truth is, at the time, she may have meant it. But the minute everyone starts getting gifts and love is in the air, it is going to bother her more and more. You've been warned.

Better Bet: Romantic Evening In
I get it. Money is tight. But Valentine's Day is the same date every year so you know it is coming. This is when something simple like making her a romantic dinner at home and renting her favorite (or a new) romantic comedy can really pay off. All you have to say is, "I know we said we weren't going to do anything special, but you are special to me so I wanted to at least do something to make sure you knew that." BAM! You're golden. Even if you stopped and picked up a pizza from her favorite place and eat it by candlelight, she will more than appreciate the effort you're making. Eat, watch a cheesy movie, give her a nice little massage and watch where things go.Trust me. You will reap benefits for weeks.

Oh, and for all of those people that say, "I don't celebrate these stupid holidays because if that is the only time I can how you how much I love you than we have problems" all I have to say is that is total crap! Please refer to Doing Nothing. Again, yes, you may show it at other times, and you damn well should, but making that little extra effort to prove to her that she means the world to you on a day when the world is celebrating love will not kill you...although, again, it could lead to some amazing sex that could get pretty wild. Get her a card. Write her a love letter. Do something for the woman that stands by you in good and bad times, is your coach when you're down, your biggest cheerleader when you're up, and is your best friend.

Remember the little things are often the most important. They remind us that we are appreciated and loved. Once many people get comfortable in relationships, they get lazy and believe their significant other should just know how they feel. But when you stop doing the little things you imply complacency and that your relationship isn't worth celebrating. You have found someone you love and that means the world to you. Never miss an opportunity to tell that person just how happy you are to have them in your life.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Epically Stupid Super Bowl Bet

Seahawks vs Broncos
(Go Broncos! for Kyle's sake)

It's that time of year again. The time we don our favorite jerseys, consume large amount of appetizers and alcohol, scream at the TV wondering why the quarterback can't see that he has a player completely wide open down field (I mean, dude, we can see him. He is right there with the camera focused on him. Are you freakin' blind?!?). And for some people, it is the time to make stupid bets.

Now, I am not talking about Floyd Mayweather's $10,000,000 (yep, that's MILL-ION) bet on the Bronco's. I mean come on, don't we all have a few million riding on the game? No, I would like to introduce you to a good ol' everyday Joe, named Kyle.

See Kyle, much like myself, grew up a 49ers fan. Except unlike me, Kyle completely lost his mind when Kaepernik choked and the 49ers failed to secure a Superbowl spot. Especially because the team that did clinch was his brother's favorite team, the Seahawks. Fed up with his brother's trash talk, Kyle went bat shit crazy and came up with a way to shut his brother's mouth for good.

Oh that's right...it's on bitch.

Or at least that is what Kyle must have been thinking when he decided to bet the house. That's right...he bet the house.Apparently when Kyle's grandparents died they left he and his brother equal ownership in their house. So when they were deciding what Superbowl bet to make, Kyle decide to go big or go home...or not go home in this case.

Oh, did I forget to mention? Kyle lives in the house with his wife and 14 month old baby which, if the Broncos lose they will have to surrender ownership rights and move out of the house by March 1st. And surprise, surprise! -well at least Kyle was surprised by this, because apparently, Kyle is well, a dumb ass, his wife was not too happy about the bet.

Kyle said, "I didn't think it was that big of a deal." He went on to say that his brother had notoriously picked bad teams since they were kids and was just an irresponsible person in general so he believes the bet is a lock. 

Really, Dude? You bet a house without even consulting your wife and you have the balls to call your brother irresponsible? Dumb ass!

And yes, I am well aware that if the Broncos win, Mrs. Kyle will most likely come running back, a ticker tape parade will be thrown, and Kyle will forever refer to himself as "The Man"... that is at least until he does some other stupid thing like use the baby as collateral for an ill-advised cock fight.

So this Sunday, after you have mowed through a plate of nachos or chicken wings, watched the game, and prepare to go home and nurse your football hangover, just remember at least you have a home to go to... Kyle may not.

Dumb ass!