A guest post from my BSF over at This is Why I Date – it’s a great follow-on to my “you’ll know when you’re supposed to know” post – give it a read, some sage advice, my friend.

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As Jolene knows, I’m full of random comments. Sometimes I just blurt things out, which can be good or bad. Good because people know I am being honest when I say something. But also bad because, well…people know I am being honest when I say something. It’s all about the way you look at things. But I digress and should go back to the subject at hand.

Jolene and I talk quite frequently about our dating excursions, experiences, and overall thoughts on the whole process. I personally enjoy dating. I love the beginning part when you start to know one another. I love the comfortable stage, when you start to *really* understand one another. When you can just go to each other’s place and hang out, fool around, or decide to do something spontaneous together.

I love the whole crazy, rollercoaster ride of it all.

And I loved it when I fell in love. Yes, this self-proclaimed life-long bachelorette, at one point, was in love. The person who will go anywhere (hello VEGAS!), try (almost) anything, and decided to date half of Boston , woke up one day and…just knew. And my friends, it was the kind you can only describe as “head over heels, heart fluttering, skip-a-beat, goose bumpy” love. I didn’t look for it and I sure as hell never asked for it. But I did. And it wasn’t love at first sight. Lust at first site, maybe. But it grew into much, much more. I was in love with “The Seven Year Man” (aka SS).

It just hit me one day. I wasn’t looking for it – and it definitely wasn’t instant. Several months into our relationship, I woke up and thought: “This is the man who I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. The man I would have babies with. The man I would grow old with.” I just knew.

Unfortunately, he never knew. We were both young and impetuous. And while I knew he was “the one”, he knew I wasn’t. He just knew many years before I could get it through my thick skull. But that’s OK. After many years of friend therapy, I realized SS was right.

So one day when Jolene and I were talking about CBE and she commented how people said you’ll know immediately if he’s the one, I thought back to my relationship with SS. And I just blurted out the following: “I disagree with all that hooey. I can’t understand the whole instantly falling in love thing. And I don’t think you should put a time frame on when you ‘should’ know. If you fall in love someone, you’ll know when you’re supposed to know.”

While you may be asking yourself: “Why is she bringing up an ex when we’re supposed to focusing on finding the love of your life?” – I do have a point. SS taught me many things. Throughout our seven+ year relationship, I learned how to be a girlfriend, how to be there for someone, how to give myself completely to someone else and not feel vulnerable. For all of these things, I thank him and I can comfortably and honestly say that I’m happy he was the first one I fell in love with in my life. I don’t look back on my time with SS with any regret. I knew the day when I fell in love with him. And I just knew the day when I fell out of love with him.

I believe that one day, Jolene and I can fall for someone again (separate men of course!) But I don’t have a timeframe in mind. I don’t think that I’ll meet my Prince Charming and it will be instantaneous. I want to enjoy getting to know him, go through the beginning part, and fall nicely into the comfortable, “I want to be with you all the time” phase. As I’ve reached my 30s, I realized that it isn’t realistic for me to think I’ll know right away – it’s all still hooey to me. You need to first understand who you are before you can know if s/he is the one for you.

You’ll know when you’ll know and just enjoy the ride.

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Happy Quote Friday everyone!

For this week, I thought the theme of taking risk and being daring was a good one, in part because of my “leap slowly” towards CBE, and partially because I am evaluating certain aspects of my life (some of which I will elaborate on in a further post) that I want to refresh and liven up, and sometimes daring to do the things that scare us ultimately gets us to the place we want – and need – to be.

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

My first instinct, as I’ve noted, when I’m caught in an uncomfortable, or “new” or out of my comfort zone territory, is to run. It’s an extremely strong, deep-seated reaction that I time and time again have to force myself to rally against. I’ve gone on in my life in too many areas in the past hiding behind comfort and my goal this year is to truly get out of my own shadow in that regard…both in terms of my social life (going to a movie alone – never done that, too scary…same with dinner alone, or a vacation alone, for example) love life (CBE, enough said?), and professional life. I need to continue to grow in these areas, and I want to continue to grow in these areas.

Because when I do “take the dare,” I almost always feel enlivened, rejuvinated, happy, and completely satisfied with my decision.

So why not? Why hide behind the shadow of status quo?

I think it’s just easier for anyone to do that, and to sit back and do what feels natural, even if what feels natural may not be the best path to take, because in the long run, it does make life harder. Less fun, less learning, less growth.

And, as many of my quotes are, this one feels pretty universal to anyone – not only divorced, not only single parents, not only single men/women in general, but everyone.

Take the dare.

I dare you.

I had sort of a frustrating day today, all around, and to top it off, the snowy commute home was sort of the nail in the “grumpy pants” coffin.

And then I watched this week’s Joel Osteen sermon and two powerful, yet very simple messages came jumping out at me and sort of crystallized a few things to me, personally, and more holistically, in life, in general.

The first – if it works out, great, and if it doesn’t, no big deal.

What was Joel talking about? Goals and wants. If they don’t come to fruition – for example, if that man doesn’t enter your life or the man IN your life isn’t the right fit, then that’s okay, because the right one is out there.

Why did this resonate?

After date #1 with CBE, I came away from it with optimism, looking forward to a potential date #2. And I got so much positive feedback – both “blog” and “real” friends/family – for taking the chance with the “older” guy, and in fairness, also words of “wisdom” making sure I’m doing what I’m doing for the right reasons. And, I am. I’m just following my gut, seeing what happens, not getting overly wrapped up, but still having optimism, because that’s who I am. But optimism doesn’t mean rose-colored glasses, it doesn’t mean I’m jumping in with both feet, it just means I’m exploring it. Neither end of the spectrum – just playing the middle road.

So…if it works out and there’s something there, great, and if it doesn’t, no big deal. It wasn’t meant to happen if that’s the case. And I’m totally okay with that. I’m comfortable with that, and I hope that comes through in conversations with friends and family on the topic of my dating life, and with my blog friends. I know I open myself up to plenty of advice and comments either way just by the fact that I post it on here in the first place, so I’m prepared for that, but I just thought that message tied in so well to what I’m feeling today. I’m grooving along, but I’m not just going after anyone, and I’m not going for convenience, I’m just living my life, seeing what’s out there.

And the second message – release your goals and wants – yeah, that’s right.

This message is so powerful to me, because of how difficult it is to do.

Trust.

Know that it will happen if and when it’s supposed to. Any goal, any dream, any want. Joel says:

“Don’t hold on too tightly to it- release it – turn it over to God. Don’t live your life frustrated because it  hasn’t happened. Trust His timing, know that He knows what’s best for you. And even if it doesn’t happen, be happy. Live and enjoy your life, don’t live your life upset, release the frustration, release the worry and come to that place of peace.”

That is so difficult to do – to just let it go, know that what’s meant to happen will, and be at peace with it if it doesn’t. I just had a frustrating work day, and sometimes struggle with “what I want to be when I grow up” – where I want to be in 5 years, 10 and beyond. But then I realize that I can’t always look so far ahead, and get ahead of myself. I need to deal the hand I’ve been dealt, do the best I can do, and trust that He has a plan for me. I’m going to release it, trust that it will happen when it’s supposed to. And you know what? I already feel more peaceful and less anxious thinking about.

I’ll leave you with Joel’s closing, which again, so simply sums it up, and is something I think we can all probably relate to, in one way or another:

Don’t let frustration steal your joy. Life is too short waiting to be happy. Enjoy your life right now. You don’t need those other things to be happy, you can be happy right where you are.

Every Sunday or Monday night, I watch the week’s Joel Osteen sermon on TBN, and it helps set the tone for the week, keep me positive and help me think clearer and more focused. Sometimes you just need a little extra positivity boost, and sometimes it just feel refreshing to hear the things you try to live on a daily basis.

This week’s sermon falls into both categories for me, as it was all about letting go of the past and expecting MORE than the status quo for our lives. A few snippets I jotted down will follow, with my thoughts, and here is an excerpt of the sermon itself as well:

Ephesians 3:20 says, “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we can imagine.” When you live a life that honors God by obeying His Word and you are a person of excellence and integrity, then the Scripture says that God’s blessings will chase you down and overtake you. You won’t be able to outrun the good things of God. God doesn’t want you to have an average life with average relationships, just barely getting by. No, God desires that in all things you prosper in Him. He wants to amaze you with His goodness. He wants to mend broken relationships, bring healing, and do the impossible in your life. But too often, we let our past set the tone for our future and we’re not really expecting anything different. God wants us to shake off the old and embrace the new thing He wants to do in our lives now, expect His far and beyond favor now.

It feel so encouraging to read this passage because it makes me feel so much better about my life, about where this decade will take me, knowing I have God in my corner, and knowing He will bless me with the good, that it will happen for me, I just need to keep that faith alive and know it will happen. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but when it is MEANT to happen.

He also goes on to say that we shouldn’t drag around the baggage from the past and expect God’s goodness in the future, which is absolutely true. While the last decade has bearing on the next, it shouldn’t dictate it…no matter how tough 2009 was, this is a new decade and things have shifted for the better. Going into each day thinking: This difficulty isn’t going to stop me, it’s meant to bring me down, but God’s going to use it to lift me up. – that is such a powerful message for me!

He also goes on to say:

Too often we allow our circumstances to set the tone. All that does is set us up for more of the same. Don’t ever name your future by your present concerns and circumstances. Don’t go into 2010 thinking already that it will be a hard year, that you won’t get any breaks. Name your future blessed, prosperous, successful, talented, wise. You may feel like you are stuck in a rut and you won’t rise any higher…don’t speak of that. Name your future, see that God’s face is shining down on your. Your greatest victories aren’t behind you, they are still ahead of you. When you think of your future, think of that enthusiasm. Think that something good is going to happen to you. Be confident.

Don’t let the past set the tone for our future…shake that off, it’s time to arise, it’s a new day, put on a new attitude. Don’t come into the new decade down in the dumps, discouraged, no dreams, no goals, no enthusiasm, make up your mind to shine this year and be your very best. The glory of the Lord is on you.

I’ve been so up and down during the last week or so, feeling a little ho-hum about my life right now, only because it feels a bit at a standstill, but hearing Joel’s words gave me the hope and optimism back that I was starting to lose. I’ve worked hard to stay positive, while still being realistic over the last year, and in feeling like I was backsliding away from that was frustrating me, because I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to be down or pessimistic, I want to be happy. That’s me and I’m going to strive to bring that back, and try to remember these words when I start getting down.

And I think these words are again universal, to anyone who gets stuck in a negativity rut. And ya know what? It’s just not worth it to be negative and down. It doesn’t accomplish anything, so why not just try and make the best of what you’ve been handed?

I feel  like I say this a lot, but it’s been quite a week. In looking at my posts this week, I started out oh-so-optimistic, and as the week waned on, I got down. Hey, it happens. I’m allowed to have my moments just like the next person, and sometimes, I don’t “allow” myself to feel down, or sad, or lonely, or empty, always trying to be optimistic and happy. While I am the latter – happy and optimistic – sometimes I miss what I thought I had.

Enter today’s Quote Friday quote:

“Always look at what you have left.  Never look at what you have lost.”

I tucked this quote away a little while ago and it hit me across the face today – impeccable timing, right? I have a LOT “left” in my life more than what I have “lost.” And I KNOW that. Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that, and remind myself of Joel Osteen’s powerful words from earlier this week – I am valuable, and my value isn’t determined by others, but by me, more than anything (and, of course, by God). So, when I feel lonely because I haven’t found love yet, that doesn’t mean my life isn’t full in other ways.

In fact, not having someone in my life is making me realize that there is – or should be – more to life than a man in it. Sure, it’s been fun dating, and I know I will go back to it relatively soon, but I need to learn to embrace my single-dom. I guess I got so wrapped up in the dating world recently that I was not for a brief moment forgetting that happiness should not mean being in a relationship. Sure, it can mean immense happiness, and add some quality to your life, but happiness is not and should not be solely dependent on being in a relationship or being married.

So, looking around at my life – yes, there is a a small void in my life that creeps up sometimes to feel larger than it is without that – my life is pretty damn good, otherwise. I have a job, I am going out on a limb and living my dream of teaching a fitness class, and I’m planning to travel this year, and enjoy being single. I’m going to embrace it. I’m still exploring me, and this week’s “stagnant” feeling has shown me that I still have a lot to explore and more resilience to gain.

Gee, I guess I still am learning, huh?

I heard from a friend of mine that I haven’t talked to for a few months and she asked, “so, how’s dating?”

Uh. It’s not.

Sort of reminded me that I’m not dating. I’m not in a relationship. I’m not really doing anything. But work. But Kick. (yes, I am exaggerating a wee bit for drama, of course I am doing social things too!). I’ve surpassed a lot of milestones in the last six months and am sort of just, well, feeling stagnant.

As I was reading Nicki’s post from yesterday over at Suddenly Singles, about anger, and feeling like she was backsliding, and then her feedback to my blog yesterday, around “just wanting to start this new life already,” I can totally relate, because, suddenly, I am sort of feeling the same way. Not to discount all of the realizations, all of the milestones, all of the dating (and ensuing realizations from those dates!), but right now, I’m just sort of here, doing my thing, but feeling stagnant, not learning a heck of a lot, not meeting potential partners through dates, just here.

Not to be a downer tonight, but I’m just feeling “hmmph” (not sure how to describe it other than that!). I’m still happy, I’m still enjoying life, I just want something to happen. I want love, I want companionship, I want some excitement. The excitement I was getting from dating, and I’m still on the hunt for the other two (love, companionship).

Damn you self-imposed dating hiatus. Damn you!

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But, on a bright note, I had my highest daily hit rate yesterday (over 400!) and hit 25K…nice milestone, if I do say so myself 😉

Another snowbound day in wonderful New England and I’ve been “waiting” for my blog inspiration to come to me as it usually does. Started to think perhaps it would be the first day I didn’t have a ton to blog about, and then bam, it comes. Listening to Joel Osteen’s weekly ministry and I found what I’m looking for.

An excerpt and link to a podcast of his sermon:

One of the greatest needs is to feel a sense of self-worth. Deep down we need to know that we’re important, that our life matters, and that we have something great to offer. But so often, we base our self-worth on our looks, what we’ve achieved, what we own, how perfect a life we’ve lived, or what others say or think of us. The problem with this is those things can change. If you’re basing your self-worth on your looks, your accomplishments, or your popularity; then when that goes down, your self-worth will go down. But if you place your value in Almighty God, nothing you or anyone else do can ever change that value. People may reject you, but God accepts you.

Why did this hit me square across the face today?

Beyond the valuable words in this excerpt – that we should all take to heart and really think about – not to let others perceptions and opinions impact our self-worth or view of our selves – but also because further into the broadcast, he says “…your value doesn’t decreased because you got divorced, or because you had a personal failure or because someone may have passed you by…you may have some ‘dirt’ on you, your dreams may not have played out the way you wanted, but don’t feel washed up, feeling like you don’t have any value, your best days are still in front of you…because life isn’t fair, but God is.

Wow. YES. Life is NOT fair. We’ve all been through some sort of devastation or challenge that pushed us to the limites of sadness or anger and we’ve wondered “why me?” or said those very words…life isn’t fair. But when you connect that phrase with God being fair and everything that is happening in our lives is purposeful and towards our “best days ahead,” then it puts it into perspective…at least for me.

I’ve written about Joel Osteen on several occasions, as his words really strike me, and he puts the scripture into such tangible words and examples that I GET it, and it moves me. It moved me particularly today because – as what happens when I have a good chunk of alone/me time – I start to think, and wonder, about my life, where it’s going, when I’m going to meet the man that is MEANT for me, and my thoughts tend to drag me down instead of boosting me up. I needed to hear Joel’s message today, and snap out of it.

I KNOW I am worth it. I KNOW there is someone out there for me. I KNOW that life’s challenges will lead me to my “best days.” And, I KNOW that despite life’s unfairness, God IS fair. I just need to trust, believe, and know.

I also think this message can be applied to everyone…we all know someone, a friend, a family member, a coworker, that gets stuck in the trap of the “why me?” and dwelling on the past, mistakes they may have made, and aren’t able to look forward, get away from the cynicism, get away from the negativity and push forward. Because, as Joel closed his broadcast, he said ” You have to see yourself as the masterpiece God sees you as…quit beating yourself up for past mistakes. God has forgiven you, forgive yourself. Let go of the ashes and you’ll receive the beauty.”

So, even if you aren’t religious, this podcast is worth a listen because it can apply cross-religion, and well, across life’s challenges.