Monday, September 26, 2016

Speed Dating Or Speed Trap (It Is About Time )

I recently missed an opportunity to go to a Speed Dating Event. And by missed, I mean, I chose not to go. Not because of lack of interest. I have been curious about it for years. The Greased Lightning of Love.  I am just not sure how well I would do. I am a wallflower, watching the room from the corner kind-of-girl.  At these events, they don’t put the tables in the corner. You have to jump right in at a break neck pace and bring your A Game. Whatever alphabet my game has typically works at a snail’s pace. (Can we all say Over-Thinker?)

The origins of speed dating, in a very interesting piece of trivia, traces back to 1998 when a Los Angeles Rabbi trademarked the term and the concept as a way for Jewish people to meet and marry. Seriously... I would not make this up. (Just sit on that information for a minute.)  Now, I absolutely am not an expert in Jewish traditions, culture or dating habits, but I find it extremely fascinating that a Rabbi came up with the original In-Person Tinder Ap.

So let us review the basic concept of Production Line Dating.

It can vary from location and sponsor, but basically you have tables in a room with an even number of women and men. One gender is designated as the slider. Usually it is the men.  So all the women come in and sit down on one side of the table. The men then come and find a seat across from a woman. A start buzzer sounds and you have approximately 6-8 minutes to talk with the person directly in front of you. When the buzzer sounds again, all the men slide one chair over and the process begins again. There is a tally sheet and each person notes who they would like to get to know better. At the end of the night, if there is a ‘match’, both people are given the others contact information.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot of pressure to me. The upside is you can meet a lot of guys/gals, but I have enough trouble getting psyched up to try and impress one guy….now I have to impress 15??  And what can you actually accomplish in 6 minutes? You can’t even boil an egg or make it through the Zaxby’s Drive Thru. It takes me 6 minutes to figure out which shoes to wear, much less which guy I want to give my phone number to. And don’t get me started me on the competition. They are literally on either side. That’s all I would need, as my luck would have it, to sit between the likes of Jennifer Anniston and Sandra Bullock! Plus, knowing me, I couldn’t concentrate because I would eavesdrop on the other conversations. I’m just nosey like that. It all makes my head hurt a little.  

Since my curiosity was already piqued I did a little more research. Turns out, according to a study in the Science of Love (true thing), it only takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes of face-to-face interaction to determine attraction. (I guess this would explain the dates that have left me before the drinks arrived.) In another unusual tidbit of this study, travel was more important than previous marriages or a smoking habit. (They obviously didn’t talk to me. My marriage stories are far more entertaining than my travel ones.) Age (as in younger) is more important to men and height (as in taller) is more important to women. The men have the advantage here because chairs are an equalizer in height; not so much for wrinkles.

There are variations of Speed Dating too. Some cities have Speed Networking. People show up and exchange business cards, chat briefly in a happy hour type setting in order to broaden their exposure and increase their contact base. In the UK, they actually have Speed Political Meetings. Constituents can come meet their representatives. (They just can’t stay long enough to ask a question that would make the representatives uncomfortable.)

And then there is Speed Food Gathering. There is a new grocery store opening in the area. The one service they hype is the Personal Shopper. You go online, fill out your list, drive up to the store and they bring out your order. Admittedly that is pretty sweet. I despise grocery shopping. But there is still something to be said for the process. I do not think I’m ready to surrender my power to check the expiration date or squeeze the tomatoes. I like to check out the deals and yes, I admit, I will buy something if I like the packaging. I can see how curb side milk pick up might be handy, but I still believe certain things need hands on attention. What is the limit to all these new fangled time saving tricks?

And why are we this terribly obsessed with saving time? What are we doing that is so important  we have to rush through important experiences and decisions in our lives? We have become a society that doesn’t appreciate putting time and effort in what should be a meaningful journey. We operate at full throttle like we are just on the verge of missing the next big thing, yet we end up missing all the little things. Checking off too many tasks in a day planner that doesn’t leave time for the day. I think the phrase is called…going nowhere fast. What are we doing to ourselves my friends?

I think I got off track a little. It does strike me though as ironic how much work we put into saving time just so we have more time to do work. I vote we all slow down a bit. Take a break. Enjoy the sunrise; or sunset. Walk the dog. Take a hike. Watch a movie. Go on a date with ONE person. Talk 60 instead of 6 minutes. See how that might work.

I’m not totally against Speed Dating. I might try it one day. At the very least, it should provide enough fodder for one of these entries. But for now I think I will avoid hitting the fast track of love. I’ll just take the scenic route. Maybe stop by the grocery store, actually go inside and ram my cart into the cute guy at produce counter.

We both still like to squeeze our own tomatoes.

Hope Out

Monday, September 19, 2016

Serial Daters (Silly Rabbit, Two Scoops of Magically Delicious Chaos)

As a single girl I have learned over the years that we all have different relationship goals. Some want to get married. Some want a steady romance, but not ready for marriage. Others actually like being single and the ‘goal’ is to stay that way. And then there are those, whom by choice or mental instability go the route of the serial dater.

A serial dater is defined as one who dates and/or has multiple partners. A revolving door, if you will, of playmates and activities. They enjoy the variety.  No pressure to focus on just one person.  It has even been referred to as a “healthy option to avoid obsession”.  Yeah, that’s a stretch for me, but nice try.

There are those that believe it decreases boredom while increasing amusement. However that usually comes at someone’s expense. And speaking of expense, it is not the path to take if you are on a tight budget. Going out several times a week can put a huge dent in your pocket. Serial dating can also take on different forms. It can be used by those just looking for fun and an assortment of activities.  Some apply the concept just to have casual sex. Others might combine those two while claiming to actually be looking for someone to take seriously.

I guess it sounds like I’m a hater. I don’t really mean to be. I understand you cannot meet one person, one time and decide you have found forever. (Unless you live in a Lifetime movie.) It is a process. I get that. Maybe I’m just jealous. I am not good at juggling. At my age I can’t remember my grocery list if there are more than two items. I certainly could not be responsible for remembering multiple names/dates/places to be. I would have to be lucky enough to only date guys named Bill. Or Xavier.

So since I am obviously incapable of being a serial dater, I will do what everyone else does when they can’t master a skill….. Mock it.

So here is my Ode To Cereal (I mean Serial) Daters:

Alpha-Bits – This Serial Dater (hereafter referred to as SD) has a Rolodex of names ready at their disposal for a last minute rendezvous.

Fruit Loops – This wacky SD can’t make up their mind and keeps going back to ‘recycle’ dates. The crazy thing about Fruit Loops, is that it takes one to know (or go back to) one.

Cheerios – Just happy being free and unattached. Always up for a good time.

Corn Pops – The SD who pops in and out of your life/phone just when you think they are gone for good. The difference between Fruit Loops and Corn Pops is that you don’t keep falling for their games.

Corn Flakes – This SD is just Plain and Non-Committal. (At least if you are going to be non-committal, be exciting and flamboyant.)

Frosted Flakes – Non-Committals with gray hair.

Fruity Pebbles – We ALL know SDs like these. Just plain crazy.  Avoid at all costs.

Honeycomb – These are the sweet talkers. They want you to believe they are not really SDs. They know just the right things to say to make you believe they are legit. It takes a little time and gut instinct, but you will eventually see through them.  

Life – This SD is of a more serious variety. They are not ready to settle down, but they are upfront about their plan/agenda. I guess if you are going to spend time with a SD, this would be a good one to go with.   

King Vitaman – Since they don’t have a Queen Vitaman, I’m going gender specific and say.. He’s the MAN. (Or thinks he is.)

Kix – Just wants to have fun. Similar to Cheerios, except much more exciting.

Lucky Charms – If you are charming, you might get lucky.  I actually met a guy whose online profile name was Lucky Charms. True story.

Raisin Bran – This one tries hard to keep you going.

Rice Krispies – Snap, Crackle, Pop. Always exciting, but with too much going on. Hard to pin down to anything specific and not much substance.

Special K – He/She is convinced you will keep answering their texts, because they are Special…K?

Total – No lack of self-confidence with this SD. They believe they are the whole package. It is quite possible they are. But no one is permitted to stick around long enough to find out for sure.  

Trix – This silly SD always has something up their sleeve.

And last but not least…

Wheaties – The SD of Champions. They are experts at juggling and multi-tasking. Maybe they are honest about it. Maybe they are comfortable with this lifestyle. One thing for sure, they have done it for so long they couldn’t be in a serious relationship if they wanted to.

Ok, ok…I guess I am finished with the ridicule. It is probably true that many serial daters are just in a transitional phase and want to explore possibilities. There is no crime in that. It is helpful when they are upfront with their dates about their motivations . I will be optimistic and say most of them probably are. For those of us who still fall for, or are mis-lead by them, just know it has nothing to do with you or your worth. It is just where they find themselves on the journey. We are all allowed a spot on the path.  

It is very difficult to be single, starting over and dating after 50. The pool is shrinking, the waistline is expanding; it’s not always easy to read the intentions of the person sitting across the table from you. Just keep a positive outlook. And understand there is no one-size-fits-all way to dating. Stick to what feels authentic to who you are. If you become really good at being yourself, you will attract the right people into your life. Dating or otherwise.

As for me,  I’ll stick with Capt’n Crunch. (I’ve always loved a man in uniform.)

Hope Out.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Morning After

I will admit that this is not the entry that I had originally planned to post. The one last week leaned more on the serious side, so I wanted something lighthearted and frivolous. I did not realize as I was preparing a new one that yesterday was the 15th Anniversary of 9/11. And in reality, my first attempt was in fact just that, frivolous and trivial. It just did not feel like the right way to go. 

Now I do not claim to have a better way to retell anything about the tragedy that unfolded. I have no new information. Nor do I ever have any intention of using this blog, or any of my writings, to post anything political in nature. That being said, I do have some thoughts that I want to share with you.

I want to talk about The Morning After.

The moment a tragedy or adversity strikes in our world there is a rush of adrenaline. And even shock. In those initial minutes or even hours our minds are blank and our emotional equilibrium is off. We need time to process the events. And those events do not have to be as momentous as the Twin Towers. We have all faced a ‘tower’ in our life that came crashing down around us. Not skyscrapers made of steel; but ones that take the form of divorce, bankruptcy, illness, the loss of a loved one. That leave us reeling with disbelief and fear. We question why and how and it can seem as if the very core of our being is shaken. And for a while, a night, a short season, we despair. But my friends, that is not where we stay.

I am of the belief that it is in the morning after where our story begins again. Because that is the time when our focus shifts outward and decisions start to be formed that will chart the direction of our responses. Our resolve becomes firm. We choose to be strong and not succumb to fear. We choose to tackle the pressing details so as not to lose our power to others.  We explore options and plans so we do not remain a victim. That is the key for how the strength shifts. Whether it is an outside force, or an internal struggle, as long as we operate from a victim’s position, the ‘other’ side has won. Please do not allow that to take hold and make you feel powerless and defeated. Because you do not have to be either of those things. We possess more strength and courage then we realize. Sometimes it doesn’t show up until we are tested, but it always shows up.  And while we cannot control how and when bad things happen to us, we do; oh yes we do, have control over our reactions to them.

Ok, I can feel myself getting caught up in the moment. I am certainly not a ‘name it / claim it’ kind of girl. I understand there are certain life realities and at times we are required to deal with painful circumstances. I just want to impress upon you my belief that attitude and gratitude can go a very long way. A positive outlook is vital to facing down our struggles. Having a grateful heart for our tremendous blessings helps to keep us balanced and moving forward.

I do not know what towers may be attacked in your life, or who may be trying to hijack your joy. Just remember this; it is only for a season. Know there are people around you who will care, support and uplift you. Believe in yourself and in your worth. Pray. Trust. Resolve. The pain may be crushing today, but it is not a burden you have to bear forever. Tomorrow is a new day and the sunrise of the morning after will help to chase away the shadows.

And in a closing thought, I want to share one other thing with you. It is something that I myself had not realized until today. The number 19. That is the number of hijackers used to carry out the horror of that day we vow to never forget. I did some research and that figure does appear to be correct, even though it surprised me at first. All that damage, pain, death and destruction was carried out by 19 individuals who were committed, even unto death, for evil things. What if today we could do the opposite of that? What if just a handful of us could harness that type of dedication to spread love, joy, hope and encouragement? To be sure hate does not carry more power than love. Right?? We should see what good we could accomplish if we all really made that a priority.

Hope Out

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Scope of Things (To See or Not To See)

Imagine, if you will, two rooms at the end of a hallway. (Let me guess, there is a horror movie that starts this way.) There is only one object in each room. One holds a microscope and the other a telescope. Can you guess which room I would like for you to go into? 

Actually I want you to step into each of them. Different reasons/hopefully different outcomes.

Let’s start with the Microscope Room.

The purpose of the microscope is to detect and investigate objects invisible to the human eye. It is used with great success for detecting maladies or inconsistencies that if caught in time can be fixed, cured or eradicated. Tiny slivers are encased in slides and viewed and logged with great care. When I first started jotting down ideas for this entry, my initial thought was to suggest avoiding this room altogether. That would have been ill advised. It is true, however; that so many of us, especially women, spend way too much time in this room already. But for all the wrong reasons. We go in there to dissect our bodies, our weight, our appearance, our worth. Very little good, if any, can come from that.    Men and women alike also use this microscope to pick out the minute differences in one other; status, finances, family, etc. We get caught up in categorizing insignificant details on these life ‘slides’ and store them away to be pulled out and viewed again. That is the most damaging use for the Microscope Room. Collectively we need to agree to end all these behaviors and destroy those ‘slides’ that label and divide us.

I do not want us to padlock that room just yet though. There are a few things worthy of a closer look. For one, I believe it is a good idea to run certain attitudes through Life’s Microscope. Victim, reactionary, doomsday, cynicism, arrogance, self-destruction. If any of these story lines play out in your daily life, slap them under that microscope. Try and pinpoint the originating cell and figure out a way to destroy it. I understand I only have the right to speak for myself, but I am willing to bet most of you reading this are greatly blessed. Can you imagine the effect on our community and even our world, if each of us were just 10% more grateful? Attitude is one of the first things noticed in the initial 15 minutes of meeting and having a conversation with someone. Let yours be delightful!

I can think of at least one other thing we should consistently put under the microscope. Decisions. I am confident most of us have made it to the point in life where we understand the ramifications of certain choices. However, at times we are still motivated. By fear. Or greed. Or maybe simply the inability to say ‘No’. I also do not feel our age ever precludes us from certain peer pressures. So let’s try to mentally examine our decisions. (Now, don’t hold up the Chick Fil A Drive Thru contemplating your lunch. That will only cause someone else to resurrect an attitude from the preceding paragraph.) But just make sure the life option you go with fits in line with your ideals and goals. Your comfort level and values. You do not owe an explanation to the world; just yourself.

So, now let’s move next door to the Telescope Room.

Having read and re-read up to this point I have concluded this entry to be a tad serious; bordering on lecturous. (I know, that is not a real word. But I like it and it fits.) So I hope you have a little more fun in this room.

A telescope is used to see remote objects. (Not your neighbor.) Its purpose is to help the viewer see past what is directly in front of them and explore the possibilities beyond. We all need to try a little more of that. Sometimes we tend to get stuck in the small box/world we have created for ourselves. We construct barriers and limits. I am very humbled and grateful for the positive comments regarding my blog and writings. However I struggle with the ‘what ifs’. What if I had started earlier, tried harder, etc. But that is me standing in the wrong room. By moving just one door down to the Telescope Room and I can look outward and dream. We all can. Just walking up to the telescope takes a certain amount of bravery. It involves trusting ourselves enough to believe we are all meant for better things with still room to grow.

Another truth about the Telescope Room is that the objects, in reality, truly are currently beyond our reach. They are not a given, or guaranteed. It takes effort and determination to reach them. But just knowing they are out there can be just the right amount of push to motivate and inspire us to stretch ourselves. Get beyond ourselves and our current circumstances. I do not know what you might see in your Telescope Room, but know this. If you can see it, you can get there. (I’m channeling Field of Dreams.)    

And so as not to appear too self-centered and narcissistic, we should also use the Telescope Room to help us see beyond our comfortable lives to realize there are others out there who need our help. Not necessarily always with money, even though that might factor in. Consider Time. Kindness. Even a strong back occasionally. Sometimes when you look outward, you can identify ways to make a positive impact on someone outside of your inner circle. I have some amazing friends that regularly work with Habitat for Humanity and raise money for several other charities. They understand the Telescope Room!

There you have it! Two very different views of your life. There is a time for introspection and then a time for launching. I encourage you to stroll through both rooms today. The key though is to not stay in either one very long. There’s a big, bright, beautiful world out there. Go be spectacular in it!

Hope Out