Our Way Back When — A Slide Show

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

That’s a slide — for anyone who doesn’t know, hasn’t seen.

I feel sorry for you.

You have missed an ultimate human experience: the compulsory viewing of someone else’s major life event complete with droning monologue, barks of laughter, and unending stories about people you never met and now hope you never will.

The viewing was held in a room made twilight by pulling down shades and drawing the curtains closed. Light would leak around the edges and create an uncommitted dark. Seating would be close, the room made stuffy by the slide projector and the noisy, breathing humans crowded on not enough comfortable furniture. Children sat on the floor.

Cameras and film were expensive — as was the major life event — and viewing countless slides was an essential activity. You role was to pay attention and follow along in the unfolding story. Don’t hog the potato chips and stop picking on your brother.

Slower than you would think possible, the slide projector would advance, one slide at a time dropping into the slot where a bright light would bring it to life. The projector would hum high and loud with a whishing sound. That was the fan blowing out the hot air to deliver the whooshing, stuffy experience.

It was not uncommon for people to fall asleep. If you were very lucky, you slept through most of the viewing. All you had to do to ensure the satisfaction of the host was to compliment the pictures and thank him for the joy of the slide show.

Most slide shows included an array of blurry vacation pictures marred by fingers, scowling children, and unidentifiable venues.

“Where was that, sweetheart?” The view master would ask his wife occupied with breaking up fights and offering snacks to the guests.

She would squinch her eyes at the screen. Most of the time, she had been at the great event, but these were random shots or stiff arrangements that didn’t look like what she remembered.

With great difficulty, the wife or others might persuade the view master to continue his excellent show. Keep him moving was the guiding principle.

After too long, the show would be over. Lights would be turned back on. The windows would be opened. The audience would stand, stretch, and say nice things while they escaped stuffy, tight confines.

That’s if you were lucky.

If you were family or a close friend, you might be subjected to multiple viewings.

5 Types of Men I’ve Encountered

Are you a single and dating woman or a gay man? It’s rough out there in the dating world… or so I hear. A lot of us tend to get emotionally attached to the wrong men. After just a couple of weeks of observation, you can often tell what type of man you have and what you can expect from him in a relationship. The reason that psychiatrists use personality types is because each of us, more or less, fits into a mold from which we don’t stray too far. A particular personality type will typically act a predicted way in a given situation. The same applies to men in relationships. I’ll go through only a few types to give you the gist. I’m sure you can come up with the rest. Below is a list of characteristics in men I have observed from not only my own limited experiences but also through friends and acquaintances.

1. The first type is the Man’s Man. This man is the strong, silent type — the John Wayne of men, but hopefully one without the racism. I think we’ve all fantasized about this man at least once in our lives. He has that presence that says, “I will take care of you” and backs it up with his actions. His confidence is very appealing. Even though you’re independent, you feel comfortable just to relax and let him take over. He’s a mystery, and at the beginning, that’s a huge turn-on. After a while though, it becomes frustrating. He doesn’t deal with any emotional mumbo jumbo. He doesn’t communicate the way you want him to. You never know how he’s feeling or what he’s thinking. If you are a partner who needs to be told “I love you” constantly… this is not the man for you. He’d rather show it. Expect to be competing for his attention with whatever sport is in season… after all, he is a Man’s Man. Don’t expect him to want to spend all his time with you. He has his own friends and life outside of you. If you are a partner who likes to be reassured that you have a strong man you can depend on and you can deal with a certain level of emotional unavailability, this is the man for you.

2. The second type is the Needy, Sensitive Man. This is a man who is too emotionally available. He wants to talk about feelings more than you do. At first, it’s nice to have such a sensitive man because we all know it’s a rarity, but then it starts to grate on your nerves. He is not a confident guy who can make you feel that you can depend on him if you have to. He will try — bless his heart — but you’ll probably end up correcting his mistakes. There are no mysteries with this guy; he lets you know exactly what he’s feeling. If he gets jealous seeing you talk to a waiter… you’ll know it. If you are looking for a guy to call you five times a day to tell you he loves you, this is the guy. If you are looking for that guy who loves PDA… this is him. If you are looking for a guy who wants to spend all his spare time with you… jackpot. Just recognize that it’s not gonna be a very exciting or drama-filled relationship. In fact, it’s probably gonna be downright boring.

3. The third type is the Good-looking Smooth Talker. He knows exactly what to say to make you feel special. Be very wary of this type of man; how do you think he got so good in the first place? The answer is experience. Practice makes perfect. He’s probably a player. This guy loves the attention he gets from his partners. He’s accustomed to it. It’s not going to be easy for him to break that habit. This is the guy to get if you want eye candy on your arm to show off around your friends. But don’t get too emotionally involved, because you’re probably not the only one.

4. The fourth type is the PTSD Guy. This guy has baggage, and I’m not talking carry-on luggage; I’m talking the full, six-piece Louis Vuitton deluxe baggage. This guy looks at relationships as a way to fill a void in his life. The problem is he never addresses what the original issue is; so, the problem is never fixed, and he keeps collecting women to use as temporary band aids. This guy is a sweetheart, and, if his issues didn’t stem from childhood, he might have been the perfect guy at some point before he dated a not-so-ideal woman who broke his heart, causing him to suffer from PTSD symptoms with every partner he meets going forward. If you date this guy… well… good luck.

5. The fifth type is the Perfect Man________________________________.

The End

(P.S. As soon as I experience the perfect man, I’ll continue the blog.)

There is really nothing wrong with any of the types I have listed… if they fit your dating personality. My point is, don’t go into a relationship with one kind of man and expect him to change into another. He’s obviously not the right fit for you. Go into relationships with your eyes open, or better yet… do like me and don’t date. (Battery Operated Boyfriend)B.O.B. offers all the pleasure without the drama.

How to Stop the Cycle of Oversharing

The 3 reasons why we say too much to strangers.

Photo by Ellisia

Do you welcome conversation with strangers on a plane? Or do you prefer to ignore the person sitting next to you for the entire flight?

I fall somewhere in between. I don’t mind chit chat during take-off. Yet once we are underway I retreat into my zone.

We have all had bad experiences on planes where we get trapped next to someone who talked too much.

One time I sat next to a couple that argued in hushed tones the entire way from Melbourne to Sydney. It was impossible to ignore. Thankfully it was only a one-hour flight.

Personally, I find people talking more annoying than crying babies on flights. I empathize with babies for the discomfort they experience. I am sorry for the parents too.

Complaining about babies is one of my criteria for removing people on social media. I don’t care who you are — if you whine about a baby on a flight, you can expect to wiped by me.

Hasta la vista, baby!

But I digress…

The 3 reasons why we say too much to strangers

According to leading psychologist Ronald E Riggio, there are three reasons why we overshare with strangers.

· False intimacy

· Similarity bias

· Reciprocity norm

Let’s unpack these one by one.

False intimacy

We all have a personal zone into which only trusted people can enter. However the confined space on a airplane often triggers a sense of false intimacy with a relative stranger. The physical closeness leads us to share personal details more easily than we would otherwise.

Case in point: If your hair stylist, manicurist or health provider knows every detail of your life, this is likely due to the false intimacy you have from physical closeness in proximity.

Similarity bias

Superficial similarities such as nationality can lead people to assume that others share a similar outlook to them. Of course it may not always be the case.

Case in point: Recently I attended a concert. Upon arrival I sat next to a chatty Western woman who was visiting Japan where I live. Between sets, I heard about an altercation she had with a bank teller — how she got angry and frustrated due to language difficulties.

The woman made an assumption that I’d expect to be catered to in my native language in a non-English speaking country. She was unaware that I speak Japanese. In reality I emphasized more with the bank teller for having to deal with a difficult customer.

Reciprocity norm

When someone discloses personal information we often feel obligated to share in kind. This turns into a cycle of sharing information and before long you have shared too much.

How to stop the cycle of oversharing?

  • This comes down to a degree of self-awareness and control. When someone discloses personal information, you should simply nod and listen or end the conversation. You are not obligated to respond in kind.
  • Be aware that physical closeness can trigger an unnatural sense of intimacy that may not really exist.
  • Keep in mind that sharing personal information puts a burden and stress on people who are not therapists.

To over-share may feel natural, yet you can wind up feeling embarrassed later on. The trick is to maintain a balance between being authentic while not alienating people around you.

The old adage “think before you speak” is a good approach in most cases.

Thank you for reading!

12 Things I’ve Come to Learn About Love

What does it mean to really love someone? This question has plagued me my entire life — or at least until recently. To put it succinctly, I’ve been a hell of a hard person to love. I’ve made a mess of the word love and everything it entails. I know I’m not alone in saying I fell victim to my own destructive behaviors. After two earlier in life emotional traumas, I was scared. Frightened. Was I even capable of loving again?

I didn’t know how to risk my heart, my well-being, my dreams and life for something that could break my heart — again. It hurt enough the first time, though my mother’s leaving us was the last thing she ever wanted. But after that, there was a different kind of hurt and that shit hurt. Really bad.

This started a forgettable decade in my life. A decade marred with pain, hurt and the absence of love, with no intentions of ever wanting to risk love, hurt and above all else, loss. So I ran, I played games and hurt some wonderful people along the way. If things ever started getting serious, I’d detach myself and run like hell.

How was I supposed to wrestle with this idea of intimacy and trusting someone with my heart? No one taught me how to deal with the pain of the past — I didn’t know how to reopen my heart. Over time, I grew numb to my behavior and the reckless destruction I had been causing along the way.

The last thing I ever deserved at this point in my life was a beautiful, open heart that was willing to love me, but for some reason, I received just that. I look back with complete disgust at my inability to love in return.

I did, however, make a change, if there is a silver lining to this story, though it was after hitting rock bottom. It’s been a long road getting to where I am now, but I’ve come to understand some things along the way — things I wish I had known years ago. If you’re reading this and are someone I’ve hurt, I’m sorry — I guess this could be my way of trying to make it up to you… to the world.

1. I’ve learned that you can see inside someone’s soul, into their heart and all of the beauty of who they are, and actually love them with their flaws, vulnerabilities and shortcomings — as well as your own. Our flaws make us who we are, they are what make us lovable and able to love the people with whom we choose to share our lives. I think it’s important to see beyond the surface, to step out of our own shoes and into the shoes of others and to let their intentions be the true source of our understanding of them. Almost always, things aren’t as they appear on the surface and rarely is our perception of a problem, flaw or challenge merely skin deep — we need to see beyond just what is apparent, and be hopeful of the people we love. If you love someone, you know their heart and the beauty of their soul — that’s where one’s intentions are housed. The same is true for you and me and for all of us that choose to step out and love. READ MORE

On Taking Something Difficult and Turning it into Tradition

Approximately three years ago I was finishing my last year of my undergraduate degree and I had convinced myself I was happy and comfortable in a steady and stable relationship. However, inexplicably I found myself nearing the end of that semester and everything felt as if it had changed. Where I was once planning to host my first ever Christmas party with friends, family and my significant other, I was now contemplating whether I even host a Christmas Party in light of my new situation being significant other-less.

I went back and forth for days, leading all the way up to the afternoon of the party, where I groaned to my roommates that I was not ready to host so many people in our house and that I wanted to be in bed and continue healing. My roommates pushed me out of bed told me the social interaction would be good for me and reminded me of how excited I had once been at celebrating my favourite holiday with all those I cared about.

Thus, a tradition was born.


This year marked my fourth annual Christmas party and every year I have managed to host it in a different place of residence. Let’s hope I am done moving for the next little while…But the point is, what felt like it was going to be this difficult, horrible, time for me, I persevered through with the help of some very wise friends and turned it into something warm and beautiful. I look forward to my Christmas Party potlucks every year now, and I am never disappointed. People always pull through and it has been a success for the four years it has run for.

I am so grateful I did not lose that opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with all those near and dear to me. My first year running it I may have had the most people in attendance ever, It seemed like it was close to 50 people. I remember sitting everyone in a circle (camp style) and asking everyone to say their name and how they knew me (which turned into a funny drinking story concerning me) in the hopes of getting everyone to interact and have a good night. The event was a success and I don’t remember anyone having a single complaint about the affair, many of these friends continuing to attend the Christmas parties if they could as the years went on.


In subsequent years with everyone moving out of the city (including me), growing up and getting increasingly busy it has become a more intimate affair. But it remains a tradition nonetheless. A tradition I hold close and that helps me reminisce on all of the good things that have happened over the year, with good food, company and cheer. This year I wondered about how this all started and how “Christmas Gathering #4” was able to occur. If it had not been for my support systems pulling through for me, or all the relationships I cultivated and nurtured during my university degree coming out to show support for me, I don’t think I would have been able to pull it off. It gives me great joy to think about this time of year even if once upon a time it had been difficult to trying. I will never forget Christmas Gathering #1, and I will also try to continue to host Christmas Gatherings going forward.

Oftentimes social situations can stress me out but I find nine times out of ten I enjoy the interaction more so than I would avoiding it. So I try to come out of my shell and give social events a solid effort. I find myself more times than not having a great time and making new friends. The first Christmas Gathering was the first time I hosted friends over for a meal, where I had decorated the place and made a conscientious effort to be a good host. It taught me a lot about growing up and taking responsibility socially. In the past I was often not that great at keeping in touch with others but I strive to keep in contact and nurture relationships with friends and family. I created my very own tradition out of this experience and look forward to creating many more as I begin to build my family. Sometimes you can take something really difficult that’s happened to you and make it into something beautiful.

Immersed

a poem in response to this prompt from Poetry Under Cover

I was dripping in cyan
the first night
you pulled me
into your ink,
it did not stop

The process of stars
who’d already sketched
their constellations over
attempts to resist

Yanking off
fused layers of indigo
saturated past reachable
was not a task
for this night

First moons are
for gentle discoveries upon
oceans of inquiry

What I needed
was to drown
in the depths
of your aqua
like a starfish
begging to be
thrown back to sea

The kind of expiration
that only comes
with full disclosure
after being marooned
on my Bondi beach

Deciphering
the cryptography of stars

You did not speak
to me of longing, instead
you undressed wounds
wrapped in azure

I teased the cloth
apart to taste the blood
of those who came
before, a gasping
of past lives

The heme
that trailed me
with its violet wake
didn’t seem to disturb you

It was necessary
for opening, the
allowing of myself
to cling, and vital
you offered freely

I’ve lived too deep
to ask for how
I ache to be
zipped up
in your denim

To know what it
feels like
to be dipped
into you
where no one else could

Combinations travel
in shifty sky breaths
and aurora, rising

There’s a painting
on our wall I’ve seen,
except — it’s not there yet

Abstruse, the way
our bodies join to break
over fleeting white
crests before
dissolving

Spurning offers to join
the fluidity of our blue

Knowing I’ll never
witness another horizon
without expecting you
to join me

Unmasking my eyes,
eager to experience
what cerulean smells like
when you streak paint
all over us

Each time
we’ll chase down dawn
and pin her between us,
calling her our own

Unlearning All You Know About Love

“Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.”

For someone who is way too comfortable in her space and being alone, I do speak about love a lot. What really is love? What do we mean by: “I deserve this type of love?” What type of love? Is it based on our personality? On who we are? Who defines it? Society? Our parents? Religion? Us? How do we know it really is love? How do we obtain it?

Baggage

This may be a hard pill to swallow but most of our love choices have been influenced by how our parents loved each other and how they directly or indirectly loved us in return.

1. The Emotionally Unavailable

Children who grew up with emotionally unavailable parents tend to find partners who will worship the floor on which they stand hoping it’ll compensate for the love they never had. (Considering our African parents, maybe we all fall in this category). Or they find partners who are emotionally unavailable so they have to constantly seek validation or prove their love. Or due to that same lack of affection from parents, they tend to see love as foreign. They don’t really understand it and they choose they’re better off alone. They may want it but just don’t have the strength to put in the work to keep it going. They may end up being emotionally unavailable partners too.

2. The Emotionally Abused

Girls who grew up watching their mums endure everything from their dads tend to attract similar guys in their lives. They tend to see love as a battlefield. The more they fight, the more it is proof their love is real. Guys who grew up watching their dads be manipulative may grow up seeing women as the weaker sex and prey on them. Others may see/experience these things happening and choose to not reproduce them. They will want better. And those who grew up watching healthy love, aspire to something like that. They won’t settle till they find someone who is dedicated to treating and loving them right.

Unlearning

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how a character is built.”

Another major influence comes from the media: romance, sex, fantasy etc. Then comes society with its complexes and how love should look like, how it should feel, how it should be. The list is endless. We then tend to blame people (ex-lovers, parents, siblings) etc for our poor choices. Maybe they played a role but ultimately, we had/have the choice to always heal before getting into relationships. We had/have the choice to make decisions and be better than how we were raised/what we saw or thought about love. We had/have the choice to know and experience love the way we want to. We had/have the choice to understand/love ourselves before getting to love someone else. We had/have the choice to be accountable and be honest about who we are, what we’ve been through, what we’ve learned, how we need to remedy things and work towards a brighter and better “we”. We always have that choice to not be our experiences and past mistakes but most times we’re too hungry to find love and eradicate the past, we forget that what isn’t healed and what is buried deep down always comes to the surface sooner or later.

“One of the most practical things you can do in the quest to breaking generational curses is to speak to your parents. A lot of the patterns we see aren’t always down to spiritual/greater forces but attitudes, character traits, decision-making systems being passed down. “

I have blamed a lot of people in my life… for not loving me like I wanted to. For not seeing me. For not understanding me. For not being patient or more tolerating. But for a greater part of my life, I never even loved myself. I never understood myself. I never knew how to communicate properly. I was never patient with myself nor did I tolerate myself. I blamed myself for every mistake. Every misstep. Every little setback. I never gave myself a chance to even slightly believe I was worth it and I deserved the world. I was so engulfed in being validated by others I forgot the most important part: I needed to validate myself first. People talk a lot about self-love with all these motivational quotes: “Love yourself.” “Love begins with you” etc but no one really tells you how hard it is to actually attain that level. It is freaking hard. It is tiring. It’s not all about bubble baths or face-masks. It’s not all about taking yourself out and treating yourself. You have to constantly do self-checks. How am I? Truly… and the automatic answer shouldn’t be “ I’m fine”. How are my thoughts? How am I feeling? Exhausted? Empty? Giving up? Why am I feeling this way? Self-care is journaling. Acknowledgement. Transparency. Honesty. Vulnerability.

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”

Relearning

You have to learn to live with yourself. You have to learn to be patient with yourself. Baby steps are still steps. You have to be grateful for each step. Waking up each day and wondering “is it even worth it? “and then convincing yourself it is. You have to pick yourself up every single time. If anyone told me this would have been excruciating I wouldn’t have even tried. But there is beauty in discovering oneself. Beauty in knowing how strong we really are. Beauty in the process, in behind the scenes versus what we show the world. Beauty in our fragile natures and in our resilience.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

While healing and gaining all this understanding of who I was and what I wanted in life, I had all this love to give so I was unashamed of giving it. I was no longer scared but I wasn’t prepared as to how to react if/when that love wasn’t reciprocated or given at the rate I would have wanted it to. What do you do when you tell someone you love them and they don’t respond? You’ll be tempted to say “they don’t deserve my love”. But here’s the thing, we all love differently. At different rates. At different intensities, so someone not responding to your “I love you” at the time doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Maybe they don’t know how to say it. Maybe it’s just not the time for them. Maybe their love language is different. And again, it’s okay for them to not love you back. Maybe we have to stop being entitled and expecting people to love us back.

“Do not mistake people’s unavailability or unreadiness as a challenge to prove your worth. That’s not what it is.”

Embrace the Process

I’m tempted to say you are what you see and experience but your experiences don’t have to define you. Unlearning certain things could be hard but staying stuck in toxic behaviors is the number one way to die slowly. Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later. I think of life as a book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense. But for you to reach another page, you have to turn the other. Your past is your past. Your mistakes are yours but the way is ahead.

Be patient. Be willing. Be dedicated. Love. Breathe. Live.

Sammy J.

Tight, high, and on display – Caroline Siemers – Medium

I was recently chatting with some friends, all of us single and “of a certain age.” We talked about relationships past, the great ones and the so-so ones, about relationships future, maybe, and how what we’d like in a partner has changed so dramatically since our 20s and 30s. We all agreed, with no sense of regret, that we are incredibly content in our lives and while a partner (in the truest sense) would be nice, it is also nice not to have to deal with “it all.”

“It all,” a lot of which falls under the headline “Men’s Shit.” A lot, also, is not wanting to deal with what relationships bring up in us.

All the messages: About our thighs. Our waists. Breasts. Chins. Looking like we “gave up,” not looking like 50 and 60 something actresses, even while acknowledging that those women don’t look like that.

And how we — smart, wise, funny, creative, accomplished, and fabulous — still carry insecure messages from our teens into our grand and glorious present. Always aware of our “good side” and how to camouflage flaws. Shaking our heads when complimented. Doing the best we can with what we have, vs. appreciating all we’ve been given.

My mind drifted to a FB pic I saw of a former flame, an unconsummated “work husband” whose chemistry was such that we could barely get the work done. He and his partner were frolicking at a holiday party. And while not a sexy picture, there was definite sexuality there.

I was never “up tight” as such, but there are no “slap you on the buns, oh my!” snaps of me on social media. The high beam expression of my sexuality was always muted.

By me, it turns out. All the messages. And a bone deep fear of some sort of ridicule, or coming off desperate or needy. I drew a line, separating my physical self from myself. Somewhere in there, playing it so cool became cold. I’ve never experienced an unfettered joy in my body.

Eros, is what my Jungian therapist would say. Not sex, which, in my 80s youth, was somehow easier and less intimate or revealing than a conversation. But Eros in the full-throated enjoyment of life. In feeling joy in, and of, my body — in what it’s capable of, the life it supports, and the array of pleasures it can experience (from good bread, great Pilates, or 500 thread count sheets wrapped around it).

My friends and I don’t look like we did 20 years ago. But somewhere in our psyches, all the messages tell us we should still look that way. That not looking that way says something bad about us. And what’s worse, so many men, our age and older, hold the same expectation. They look like the dad’s of our high school friends, all no-haired and cardy-paunchy, but we ladies are expected to keep it tight, high, and on display.

Let’s acknowledge right here that Eros does not live “tight, high, and on display.” This is not joy. This is not unselfconscious frolicking. This is not woman.

All the messages.

I know for many of us there are deep issues of shame and fear around our bodies. We must move gently in this space. I can’t lie, I am sad about my chin. But I’m sadder that I lived my life until now allowing all the messages to keep the joy in my body constantly tempered and measured.

Today is international women’s day. So, even if just for today, let’s forget all the messages since not one of them was “love yourself.”

Let’s invite Eros to the table, and joy into our physical selves. Taste the food, feel the stretch, turn to the sun. If you’re having sex, really have it: Let go a bit more, release a bit more, exhale for pity’s sake.

Let’s let “delicious” be our guide to the experience of our bodies, physicality, and life.

Let’s dig in.

Vulnerability Leads to Empowerment.

A picture I took at The Grove of the Patriarchs, Mount Rainier. Washington State.

vulnerable

[vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]

adjective

  • capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
  • open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.

I was talking to a girlfriend this morning about a budding new relationship she’s in. She hasn’t dated in a long while so she’s got some anxiety and skepticism about the openness and intentions of this new person, understandably.

Having been open and honest for most my life, it’s often difficult for me to understand why people don’t say what they really need in a moment. However, I can also see that’s not how we’re trained (especially women). It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I was abnormal. I started figuring it out when I’d hear people say my relationships move quickly or when that look would pass across their face when I said something you’re only supposed to think but not say aloud. Honesty is a huge benefit, though. Especially when it’s a vulnerable truth. I don’t waste my time or theirs on something that shouldn’t take 6 months to figure out. That’s just how I operate.

Plus, I love sharing love with a partner so I don’t want to spend time wondering if the next few months or a lifetime is going to be an investment or not.

This morning’s conversation was fascinating because it got me to realizing how liberating it is to encourage a dear friend to tell a person exactly what they need. Especially a woman in a new relationship with a man.

We’re trained to not come off like we’re “too needy”. You’re definitely not supposed to reach out first.

I detest these “rules”.

They’re unconscious agreements to behave in a certain way. When it’s directed toward a woman (because ‘men are supposed to pursue’), I find it antiquated; in doing that, we’re unconsciously perpetuating a “norm” that we complain about when it comes to equality.

Sure, even as a feminist, there are some things I still enjoy from a man—such as him putting his hand on the small of my back to enter a room or pass people on the sidewalk. But if I call him to ask how his day was or line up the next date, does that make me an aggressive pursuer? Is it “un-womanly”? I’m not talking about the 15 calls in a row type of thing; but if we’re dating, I should absolutely have that right. If he doesn’t like it, he’s probably not the man for me.

So my advice to my lady-love when she was asking what his vague comments from the night before meant, was, “Ask for exactly what you want. And request that he be literal and specific with you so there are no questions.”

Not that her mind was blown…but she was like “Wait. I can ask that, can’t I?”

“Hell yeah, sister. And I’d encourage you to.” That’s a sure-fire way to encourage an open, respectful relationship—and get what you want out of the interaction—rather than wait and hope he “doest he right thing”.

[You see, I’m also not a fan of games or putting a man through a series of tests to prove if he’s good enough for you.]

So I asked her a couple of questions about what she wants in this experience. Does she want to go the next few days torturing herself about when he’s going to call or text; replaying everything he said on their last date? Or does she want to be able to just ask for what she wants and potentially get it?

She was clearly able to articulate that she wants to feel pursued; like he’s making the investment she needs to feel respected and secure.

That wasn’t so difficult. The difficult thing was to specifically say that to him. Directly (with respect), but no fluff. No apology afterward. It’s okay to ask for what you want.

When she mentioned she was worried this would take away some of the mystery or enchantment; some of the excitement and allure, I responded with “Do you want excitement and allure—or do you want an open, healthy relationship?”

In the end, she sent him a very clear and respectful text about giving him some days to recuperate and take care of himself—because she understood him to be requesting that, specifically—but when they talk again she’d like to ask for some clarification about some of the things she interpreted from his comments in their last convo. She ended it with the desire to be specific and literal because that helps when men and women communicate.

I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Parting thoughts: How someone responds to you isn’t your business. How you show up, however, is.

So when you do the hard work of being honest and open; vulnerable, please also practice (every time) not having a judgement about what the person does with your honesty. Be open to their response, but allow it to be theirs. If you have more communicating to do to clear something up, do it; that’s respectful. But if you simply don’t “like” what they had to say, go back to what you originally stated and ask yourself if you had a requirement or certain expectation out of saying what you did. Be honest with yourself. If you do have a requirement, then you have more work to do.

This is hard work. But it’s so healthy and so worth it. Being honest and open and clear and specific isn’t easy—but that’s because being vulnerable does feel like you’re opening yourself to being wounded or hurt. With practice, this becomes second-nature, and BONUS, the quality of people you surround yourself with increases, too. ❤

Your Children Are Starving. Feed Yourself First.

We don’t seek God overtly. Most of us don’t, to be honest.

We’re kind of curious about Him, but there’s that whole “how do you talk to someone you can’t see?” kind of thing and besides, isn’t He just there to punish us?

So we hold back. We deny ourselves the best, the most loving relationship in existence.

Worse, we teach our children to avoid God too.

So they miss out.

Children aren’t going to learn to love God and seek Him with all their hearts from a textbook.

They will learn from you, from your actions.

We know this, but the reality of it doesn’t smack us in the face until we see some of the choices our kids make, how they spend their time, how they treat others. How they value (or don’t value) themselves.

Good news is, its never too late to start teaching your children about God.

And you don’t have to wait until you’ve got it down. Please don’t.

The best time to start is now. Pull out a bible, any Christian bible.

Start with something easy, like Psalm #1

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”

Read a few verses, then ask your kids what they think. You could end up talking about friends or bullying or just anything, once they find out you’re really listening to them.

Keep trying, night after night, reading and listening.

Proverbs 18.21 “life and death is in the power of the tongue.” You could ask, “have you ever said something mean and wished you could take it back?”

Or Hebrews 11, which teaches about faith. Just a verse or two at a time, can yield some amazing conversations.

Reading the word of God out loud changes you, and your kids. My children and I did it for six years, until they grew up and left home. We still read aloud and listen to each other, when they come home to visit.

My oldest child went off to college in New York City, the first week of September 2001. A few days later, 9/11 happened. I learned to read Psalm 91 out loud every day until I had it memorized, sending angels to guard my children in all of their ways. (Psalm 91.11).

Most of my kids live in the city. Last week I got a text, “I’m safe.” then another one and another. There had been an attempted bombing in New York City. My kids know to check in, because they are loved and prayed for daily.

Prayer is a powerful weapon in the hands of one who believes.

How do you learn faith?

In Romans 10.17 “faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God.” You keep reading it aloud today, and every day because, “without faith, you can do nothing (Hebrews 11.6).”

Mostly, what you learn in that nightly prayer-time is how to love.

Your prayers begin to change, as you read His word aloud.

You’ll find yourself praising God for your wonderful children.

You’ll see their faces brighten, as you speak kindness and blessings over them.

As you thank them openly and often for being there, for being themselves.

As you tell them to their faces, how precious they are. Your words are healing and nourishing because you read His word first, and you were fed.

That’s how you learn to feed your children. You feed yourself first.

They are starving for love that endures, for that unconditional love you can give them — but only if you’ve asked Him for it. Let Him fill you, then it will spill over onto your children.

And they will learn how to love,

You will reap great rewards. Once loved, they can’t help loving you back.

The gift you give will be given back to you, heaped up and running over, in great abundance.

Don’t believe me?

Try it and see.

Speak nothing but love.

Maybe you can only do it for thirty seconds one day, but the next day you will do more.

You will slip up. Some days are harder than others.But you can apologize and reach for the Bible and read Psalm 51.

Be humble before them, to teach them humility.

Be loving, to teach them love.

Be grateful for them, to teach them gratitude, the language of Heaven.

Praise them for reaching out, for seeking God with you as a family.

This coming together (Hebrews 10.25) will feed your family for generations to come.

Tell your children they are loved, cherished, blessed. You cannot go too far in blessing and praising them. Build them up, every day. Look for the good in them and you will certainly find it.

In building them up, you are literally building the church, as the church in your home, in all our homes, spills out across the world.

Don’t just read the words and turn the page.

Teach them from your heart, as if it was a matter of life and death. For it is.