Life Is Good

I know, I just disappeared.  My deepest apologies.  Life has been quite a whirlwind the last several months, and I honestly just needed time to focus on the things that would undoubtedly affect my future.  That said, in my time away from the blog, I have received a new promotion at work and am in the processing of moving into a new (very nice) place, and working grad school tests and applications.  Life is finally working itself out for the better and I must say I couldn’t be happier about it.  Life is good.
I have received many questions about the state of the blog, and I am so grateful to have such a faithful following.  You all have made the rough days brighter, so thank you.  While this promotion takes away from the time I previously used to write, I am dedicated to finding a balance to continue to do what I love and what I get paid to do- both well.  I hate half-assing anything with my name on it.  So I won’t.
The most asked question among my friends since I took a break from the blog is, “has your finding love and/or being in a relationship now made you feel like you no longer have the need to write?”  I think that is a valid question because so much of my blog up to that point was about self-assessment and the things I desire in my next (and hopefully, prayerfully LAST) relationship.  In while being in a relationship does deplete some of my free time outside of work, I hardly ever wrote after work anyway.  However, in regard to the question, I feel the complete opposite.  I feel as if I have so much more to write about and from a better perspective than before.  If anything, the relationship should add validity to what I’ve always said, eh??
Well, that is all I have for today.  So much to write about this week, but I wanted to start here before I just jumped back out there.  Again, thank you.

 

Life’s good!

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Love Is Not a Guessing Game…

If there is one thing I’ve learned (or relearned) recently, it is that love is not vague or ambiguous.  We have all been there where we are trying to figure what someone’s words or actions really means.  Women are especially prone to dissect every word of a text or tweet to find some latent, underlying deep profession of love- that 99% of the time is not there.
When you like someone it is easy, for both men and women, to create their own fantasies about a relationship that can have absolutely nothing to do with reality.  For example, if a lady goes out on a date with a man twice, he may say that she is his girlfriend when in reality, she is not.  Women often take the activities immediately before and immediately after a sexual encounter to mean more than the just sex it is.  Anything done right around that time span is just a mean to get sex and get more sex, it is not a relationship nor the foundation for one.  Then there are often the gray lines of friendship and sex where you can love a person as a friend and love the sex but doesn’t mean that one is in love with you or wants to go beyond the parameter of a friendship.  But as emotional creatures, as a defense mechanism and to justify our unsupported impulses to garner love, we hang on to the belief that there is more just if—the time was right, or he was single, or I tried a little harder, or I was a little smaller, or a little freakier. Or (my favorite) “I don’t even want a relationship” claim.   While some may not want a relationship, it is the ones that state that sentiment that yet do very “relationshipy” things in order to prove they are in fact relationship material.
Love, however, is not a guessing game.  It is very clear about its identity and goes through every effort to make it known to its intended recipient.  Love is full of the “good mornings” and “how is your days.”  It is the listening. digesting, and recalling.  It is caring enough to be moved into action.  Love is transparent and it is available.  Love is never too busy to return calls, texts, or emails.  Love prefers to see you over a call and a call over a text.  It is personal.  Love is not a subtle hint or a hidden code.  And while it can be shown in countless ways depending on the individual, it will always be an effort outside of your normal comfort zone.  It makes sure it leaves with no question about what it is and what its purpose is.  It is kinda obvious.

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Is It All Out of My System?

Recently, I was posed the question, “Have you done everything you wanted to do as a single woman?”  I answered confidently, “yes.”  It wasn’t until long after the conversation was over as the question still lingered as I begin to really dissect both the question and my response.  I was baffled because I wondered why I, in all of my relationships, had never been asked that question before.  Moreover, I wondered why I, in all of my genius, have never thought to pose this question before now.  If I had stopped to ask this before, I am positive I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache— but then again, I wouldn’t have been able to answer “yes.”
Initially when asked, flash frames of everything I have done passed quickly before me.  I’ve done a lot.  I even reflected when my friend read an excerpt from The Single Girl’s Manifesta stating that you should go on 20 no-strings-attached dates before settling down….or something to that regard.  I have dated plenty, a few times over that number.  I was even lucky to fall in love a few times.  I was blessed to have my heart broken because it was that pain that facilitated my growth.  I have had more than enough experiences to know exactly what I want, and more important, what I need.  I have travelled both domestically and internationally.  I have witnessed and now know my own strength and resiliency.  I have lived with others and have lived on my own.  But, I wondered, if that was enough…
People undervalue the benefits of being single.  There is no checking in, no explanations, no accountability… I realized I was being childish.  I have to check in and be responsible in every other facet of my life.  I am held accountable for everything I do or omit- professionally, academically, spiritually, and financially.   Why should relationships be an exception?
However, as the question continued to haunt me, I thought more about the things I haven’t done.  The list is endless.  Then I concluded I was asking myself the wrong question.  The real question is, “What have you not done that you don’t want or can’t do within the confines of this relationship?” I replied out loud to myself, “Nothing.”

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The Balancing Act

I actually had begun writing this about 3 months ago and never got around to finishing it.  It was then part of what I desired for my next relationship.  Now it is what I actually have.

Women are sometimes neurotic.  I am no exception.  When I was younger, at times my emotions blurred reality.  I would go off. I would assume.  I would presume.  While this is not the norm now, I would be lying if I didn’t admit irrationality sometimes creeps into an otherwise sane existence.  That in mind, it takes a very special, patient, and vocal man to handle me.   Did I mention patient??
As I reflect on my past relationships, the men all had one thing in common- they balanced me. Nowadays, I’m a lot calmer and emotionally consistent.  I am still silly.  Very silly.  A fool yet laid back.  So they were as silly or sillier.  Well, that is not a balance for most, but it is a balance for me.  Sometimes, I feel like being the life of the party, and other times I seek refuge in a cave with a good book and strawberry lemonade.  They were cool with going out as much as staying in the house. Whereas my frustrations are usually goal related- where I am versus where I want to be.  They would brainstorm solutions.  I am super forgetful.  They always remember.
If relationships are supposed to be an (better) extension of who you are, I find myself questioning what I bring to the table.  What do I enhance?  What truly separates me from the crowd?  I am a modern traditionalist.  I love to cook.  I can’t stand filthy environments so I am compelled to clean.  Yet, I am educated, opinionated, and vocal.  While I have my own, I am very dependent.  It is a whole team of beautiful people that at one point or another help keep me afloat just when I feel like I am sinking.  I make no claims of being every woman.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I lacked that I was finally afforded the opportunity to build upon what I do have.  No one has it all together.  We all lack pieces of the puzzle. It is with that realization that it dawned on me that I balance him too.

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Becoming Better: The Eternal Student

The older I get the more I am coming to terms that I will forever be a student in the life journey.  There is no point of complete understanding.  Love is no exception.  While, I attempt to define its parameters for my life daily, I am constantly learning something new about love’s characteristics.
From a young age, I always sought to hang around people that where I wanted to be.  My closest friends and family were at least a few years older than me.  I watched closely, I mimicked their behavior, and I analyzed the results of their actions whether good or bad.   By the time I reached their respective ages, I had it down pat.  And while I had my own share of obstacles, I had a blueprint to solve them.
Nowadays, I find myself around married couples, and more specifically, married women.  I have always thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spend with them.  I love to ask questions.   What was your first argument as a married couple?  What are the biggest changes?  What is the most rewarding thing about marriage?  And my favorite, “how did you know he/she was the one?”  They all replied the same, “You just know.”
I never thought I would get to the “just know” phase in my life and as I begin this journey from the familiar and safe to the unknown, I find myself looking within for a blueprint to follow.  Little did I know I would find the blueprint in the unknown.
Communication. Respect. And Understanding.
I am very familiar with them all individually.  But the totality of all is the blueprint to loving truly.  It is a tripod, if you will, so you can’t have two without having the third.  One is completely insufficient.  I have no desire to be insufficient.
It was this information and an earlier conversation with a good friend that kind of brought everything home for me.   She said, “Marriage is not just cooking, cleaning, and wearing playboy bunny suits every night.  That still is not enough.  To be a good wife, you have to be willing to be a student and always willing to learn.” I have always prided myself in knowing it all. *smile*  However, I feel there is a greater reward in having someone in who will nurture me to be the best person possible.  Currently in route to my best.

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No Record of Wrong

I love wedding shows and I love weddings, when I am not watching Around the Horn, of course! One of my favorite shows is Platinum Weddings which showcases these elaborate affairs where every detail is taken into consideration. I had the privilege to attend one of these affairs this weekend. To say I was in awe is an understatement. But despite all of the décor and details the thing that resonated with me the most was “love keeps no record of wrong doing.” It is a verse from of a very familiar passage, I Corinthians 13, that is often cited at weddings but it wasn’t until this weekend that this particular verse struck a chord with me.
In relationships it is easy to keep a running tally of how one has wronged the other.  It is a mental scoreboard, if you will, except the game never ends and the tally is never reset before the relationship dissolves. It is super easy to bring up past incidences without thought in an effort to prove a point or hurt the other. But for most of us, at some point, the tally runs too high and we feel the need to leave. It is just in those relationships and friendships that we intend to last a lifetime that the scoreboard must be reset daily.
But how do you ignore instinct, or the need to be right, and to prove points?  I suppose this true love, the one that holds no records of wrong, focuses more on what is lost, hurt, and damaged in the attempt to be right rather than the need to be right. Reasonably, there are times when the ties need to be cut but that is after the love has expired and love is no longer given or reciprocated. Those times, no one is acting in love. But for those that are looking for the lifelong love, the past errors have to remain there and the decision to love has to be renewed daily.

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Does Love Need Making?

Loving Organically

I’m pretty sure love just happens. And I completely grasp the need for a tangible concept that warrants love making. But as of late, I wonder if love can be made or manufactured if you will.
For men, it seems like making a woman love him is a plausible notion.  The socialized mindset appears to teach men that if they are persistent enough, then they can eventually win a lady regardless of her initial stance.  Thus, men will go to extreme lengths to win the heart of a woman, even if he knows she doesn’t love him.  I suppose in theory, the idea is noble to risk all in an attempt to have the woman of your dreams.  What about her dreams?  Do they matter to a man?  Does he care if he is her 28th choice as long as she eventually gives in?
For women, our pursuit of love is very different. Not only do we want to win the heart of the man of our dreams, but we want to be the woman of his dreams.  Anything less than him feeling as passionate about her as she feels about him, is not a win at all.  It is a crushing defeat, and thus most times a woman will retreat. Women don’t consider a forced love, really a love at all. But hey, what do we know?
Contrarily, pre-arranged marriages do have the lowest divorce rates.  But sticking it out doesn’t equate to love or compatibly.  I am sure a man thought of this idea.  However, I am sure some learned to love each other and found love within this arrangement.  Some may not have any other love in which to compare their feelings with an arranged spouse.  But to those that have had real, true, and tangible love knows when it is absent, even if a man makes the most valiant effort.  Some things just can’t be manufactured.  It is or it isn’t.  Be green and only accept the organic.

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Loving the Pieces

Even the smartest of women can find themselves in the most bizarre and unhealthy situations with men.  There are sometimes situations where all of the knowledge is overshadowed by passion and stupidity.   If they are lucky, they get out before too much damage is done. However, sometimes the magnitude of the folly is not comprehended until the damage is near catastrophic and the heart is broken and her spirit is in pieces.  The most tragic cases are when damage is done and spirits are broken due to no fault of her own…
I am no exception.  I am not exempt from the folly on my part nor the damage forced upon me due to no fault of my own.
I love being back in D.C.  The dating pool has gone from 1 to 100 seemingly overnight.  There are the new and the old, all moving forward in their respective directions.  But I would be lying if I denied that something was missing.  Or maybe there is just much more there- more time elapsed, more stresses, more damage.  All I know is I feel a disconnect where there once was passion and, at times, love.  This unusual disconnect had been so heavy on my heart I reached out to a few people to find a possible reason and solution.
Two things said spoke to my spirit.  One, my best friend of 26 years reasoned that subconsciously I know the men that I am dating are not what I want long term and as such my heart won’t let me become emotionally involved.  She, though not a professional therapist, counseled that my detachment with men was a defense mechanism to prevent further damage.  My mind was now in control, and as a smart woman I did know that while these men are great, they are not great for me.
However, I still had a looming fear that when Mr. Great For Me came along that I would no longer know how to love that man.  I worried/worry about if I am capable of just trusting and put all of my fears of being hurt behind me as to not sabotage a good thing.  I wondered/wonder if I will even be able to recognize a good thing when I saw him because some of my heart is still in pieces.
All of these fears were at the forefront of my mind, when the one that hurt me most called.  Most women in my position would have just ignored the call but like love, forgiveness too, requires action.  In the mist of explaining to him how I was adjusting to being back in D.C., he asked how I was really doing and handling life.  So I begin to explain to him these fears and he immediately understood his role in some of the damaged caused.  And he said the second thing that spoke to my spirit.  He said, “I know it is hard, but don’t over-concern yourself with the how and the whys.  The right man for you will leave no doubt if you should trust him.  He will take the time to make his motives transparent.  And don’t deny yourself something real trying to pull it all together first.  You are still a diamond, and the right man for you will love the pieces.”

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Do You Love Me?

“Do you love me?” used to be one of my favorite questions to ask…daily.  Well, maybe not daily, but often…too often.  In my prior relationships, I had grown accustomed to hearing “I love you” every day, multiple times a day to the point I thought it was mandatory in relationships.  I was wrong.
In my earlier relationships, I was young therefore my relationships had limitations.  Prior to going to college, all dating was under the supervision of my parents.  And well, they made sure I had everything I needed therefore I never to had to depend on a man to meet my basic needs.   Even early in college, I had a wonderful boyfriend that frequently sacrificed on my behalf, but still my parents were my primary providers and as such my parents made sure I had everything I needed.  Even the visiting in these relationships was limited to house and dorm curfews.  So maybe the constant verbal confirmation of love may have been more warranted because of the parameters of youthful relationships.
When I entered a relationship, as a semi self-sufficient adult, I was perplexed as to why this man rarely said he loved me.  I don’t want to exaggerate it because my memory may be foggy.  I’m sure he told me loved me once a week or so, but it wasn’t the constant after every phone conversation, all day, every day affirmations.  Well, for one, we were usually together, so honestly there wasn’t much need for phone conversations.  However, in his presence, the roles were very clear.  He was the man and I was the lady, and as such, my daily needs were met by him.  And I am not just talking about financially, but my overall well-being was important to him and therefore he responded accordingly.  Things are so much easier to see in retrospect.  Sadly, at the time, his lack of verbal confirmation made me constantly question the ifs and whys of his love.
Strangely, enough my parents rarely say they love me too.  They rarely say we are proud of you because they expect greatness without excuse.  But they have and continue to make countless sacrifices on my behalf…and my prolonged educational endeavors.  And when I visit them at their work, all of their co-workers say how much they talk about me and how proud they are of me.  The co-workers ask me about my latest occurrences or projects as my parents have usually raved about me to them.  I would say that makes me feel even more special from hearing it from my parents themselves.  While I can think of an infinite amount of sacrifices made, there was this one day when my world crashed.  I was in D.C. and they were in Dallas.  I made one phone call full of tears, and they were in D.C within 12 hours.  You see, my parents don’t have to tell me they love me because I have absolutely no doubt that they do.  Their love is fully ingrained into my mind, my heart, and my spirit.  Their love is who I am.
I decided to take this same thought process in my, now adult, relationships.  I deafen my ears to words to heighten my vision to be truly receptive to the feeling of being loved.   No longer, do I need the constant verbal confirmation of what I already know.  I completely understand that love is an action verb and not a verb of being.  The “I love you” is in what they do.

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The Gamble: An Open Letter to Him

Sometimes, I just need a break.  It is not that I am not interested in you or don’t think you are wonderful; I just need some time away to better myself.  You, men, are a distraction that right now I can’t afford to have. You, men, can easily take time off to pursue your academic and professional endeavors, but I, a woman, receive the side-eye when I say right now that last thing on my mind is dating.  No, I am not jaded or bitter.  I am merely not interested…at least not right now…I can’t right now.
I am past the point in my life where I am dating for the sake of dating, so when I date, I will date with purpose.  I already know the type of men I am attracted to which is the same type of men I attract: the ambitious.  Well actually anyone can be ambitious, but I have a tendency to fall in love with the ones that have ambition and actively pursue their dreams.   These men that steal my heart will inevitably become the leaders that shape our world for the better.
But I have to ensure I have some things to of my own to bring to the table.  My profound thoughts, my accomplishments, my realized potential, my satisfaction are all things I want…no, that I need to bring to the table in my next relationship.  And now, I am lacking in some areas.  So despite of my love for you, I don’t think it is fair to you or to me to put myself in a situation where resentment may grow and fester.  I know you are thinking, we can do this together. We probably could or there is the slight chance that my dreams may get lost in the shuffle of life and love.  I can’t let that happen again.  Time is too precious and too sparse.  Subsequently, I will be over here working, writing, schooling, and achieving until I am satisfied with what I bring to the table of excellence.  I will do this until success no longer feels like the grind but routine.  In the meantime, I will be having the time of life.  I will do everything I want to do.  I will invite you along and vice versa, but the feelings, emotions, and commitment will be left at the coat check.  And I can only pray that you, Mr. Perfect for Me, will still be there when I am ready to go with you.