Category Archives: Relationships

Sister Rivalry

A friend of mine threw a costume party recently and I bought an outfit online to wear (dumb move).  When it arrive and I tried it on, it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t gonna work.  So, I offered it to a sweet friend of mine who I thought it would flatter better than me.  She came over to try it on and looked like a goddess/model in it.  And, while I was happy to help her out, a dark corner of my mind thought, “great… you’ve just fueled your competition” – as if I’m in a race with her to see who can look the cutest at this party.  Almost as if she is the enemy.  Ridiculous.

What is my DAMAGE?  What is ALL of our issue(s)?
Because y’all KNOW it’s not just me who has these undesirable thoughts creep in…

The truth behind the quickly raised eyebrow...

The truth behind the quickly raised eyebrow…

Women are competitive.  Everyone knows this.

But just because it’s a universally understood thing doesn’t make it ok.  It’s NOT ok!

It hurts us as a gender.
It hurts friendships – even if you truly love the person you’re ‘up against,’ this sense of rivalry is divisive.

This happens in the most deceptively subtle ways… oftentimes I think men don’t even pick up on those nuanced jabs we throw each other in conversation.  But, we know.  Women – no matter how sweet your face and tone are… if you use your words or implications to even slightly tarnish another woman’s reputation – you’re doing something wrong.  I think we so often justify those little barbs by denying our true motives.  We feel threatened.  So, we attack FIRST.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the last few months.  Being single on the dating scene exaggerates any existing insecurities or fears that feed into the feminist competition.  “Why is she getting more dates than I am?”  “Why did that guy message HER on OKCupid, but  not me?”  “Why don’t they serve brown rice at the upscale sushi place?”  Ok… so some rogue questions sneak into my emotional inner dialogue.  Sue me.

And it occurs to me, that – like SO many ‘bad’ things in this life – the root of this struggle is – fear.

We fear that another woman will be better than us.

We fear she will…

  • get the affections of men more than we will
  • succeed in her endeavors more than we will
  • make us look bad/worse by being more beautiful/skilled/witty/etc.
  • be happier

And this happens in every arena:

  • Working moms vs. Stay-At-Home-Moms
  • Single women vs. Married women
  • Blondes vs. Brunettes
  • Extroverts vs. Introverts
  • Athletes vs. Academics

And on and on it goes…

In the physical realm alone, there are SO many ways to beat out the competition if you want to.  It starts small – sucking in the tummy and wearing high heels… then to wearing spanx to “smooth the curves” to dying your hair…  And then it’s eyelash extensions and vein lasering and electrolysis and hair extenstions and microdermabrasion… and tummy tucks and breast augmentation and nose jobs and ….. I’m out of breath.

And I can’t keep up.

I can’t AFFORD to!… but also – I’m not sure I WANT to.  Where does it end?
It’s an endless climb up a seemingly futile ladder…

Just the other night, I was in a conversation about hair removal where I realized two of my friends spend ultimately thousands of dollars on hair removal… do you KNOW how much ice cream that would buy??

How nice would it be if we did the same thing we want men to do with us – assigned each other good motives, encouraged each other, helped each other JUST because we love one another and not just to gain some kind of moral high ground…?

The way it starts – is by identifying the reason behind the fear.

For me – and for anyone who still has hope/optimism – I believe that there is something greater than me at work in my life.  I believe that God is “sovereign” (meaning – he is in charge and orchestrates all things).  If I REALLY believe that, then I wouldn’t have to try to control my own circumstances SO much.  I wouldn’t have to worry that my friend looking smokin’ hot in a dress I gave her, will somehow bring HER the affections of the man God has for ME.

Do I think I can thwart his plans with expensive makeup and shapewear?  Ha!

And for those of you who don’t believe the way I do… you must still see the foolishness in trying to control something by way of sabotage…  Regardless of religious beliefs, the concept of right & wrong is universal to humanity.  So, rather than tear down the competition, why not build up confidence in ourselves?

This is all easier said than done, especially in this ‘cat eat caddy’ world where botox and body-wraps abound.

So, for now, the best thing I can do – is be aware…

For my part, I want to be constantly self-analyzing my thoughts/feelings/motives when it comes to the women in my life.  And I have some pretty AMAZING women surrounding me – women who deserve my love and encouragement, not my subconscious hope that they’ll fail in areas that will make me look better.

If we ALL do that… think of the money we’ll save on laser treatments and Keratin rinses?!?  Sounds dreamy to me.

Let’s Not Get Greedy, Now

Yesterday I overheard two girls talking in line at a cafe, and one said, in a cavalier tone, “I mean… JUST because I’m engaged, doesn’t mean I HAVE to marry him!”

Um………..it doesn’t?

I posted this on Facebook and got quite the response from men and women – which inspired this post.

It occurs to me that this attitude of committing to something without really committing to it – is becoming a dating/relationship epidemic.  People are saying yes to anything from a second date to marriage proposals – out of fear that maybe there won’t be anything better… so they hedge their bets by holding on to something that isn’t perfect for them.

Greedy - dressIt’s like when you’re shopping at Ross and you buy up any dress you think MIGHT actually look nice on you in the flattering light of your own home… knowing full-well you’ll likely return some or all of them in the coming week.  So, why buy them at all?  You buy them so that you can have the OPTION of owning them, and so that no other woman can scoop them up.

And I do this too – you try it on and you don’t LOVE it, but you think you might GROW to love it, with the right level of Spanx scaffolding and distracting accessories…you could make it work?… so, you don’t want to give up the possibility of ownership… even though your gut tells you it’s way too hoochie-mama, or see-through, or tight or unflattering in some way.  You hold on to less-than-perfect

Are we doing this in the dating world?  Holding onto a girlfriend or boyfriend longer than we ought to… just because they’re the ‘best so far?’  Do we keep our claim on someone so that no one else can have him/her even if we know deep down that s/he’s not the one?  Or do we think if we put the right proverbial spanx on our guy/girl that they might turn INTO the one we really want?  We’ll just keep accessorizing around the problem – that we’re NOT a good fit?

This is terrible!

And it’s also why I’m a fan of the quick elimination system.

I contend – and stick with me for a minute – that dating should be greedy… in order to NOT be greedy. Hold on, before you check out… check this out:

greedy - quoteI was having lunch with someone the other day who was hesitant to get back into dating because she doesn’t have time to go on multiple dates with people who she doesn’t like…. WHAT?  I asked her WHY she would go on any more than one short date with someone if he wasn’t showing potential for being ‘the one?’  She responded with this popular sentiment that there’s some sort of expectation to go on several dates with people because it’s …good manners?  Pbshhh…. Nuh uh!  I call poppycock.

I say you only spend your time hanging out with someone who you WANT to be spending your time with.  Be greedy.  Don’t accept second dates out of obligation or some kind of weird cultural expectation.  In this way, it’s OK to be selfish.  When being picky is being greedy – I say being greedy is ok.

It’s OK to want the whole package.  (Not perfection… there’s a big difference between realistic expectations and fantasies…that’s probably enough fuel for a whole other post, but for now – know that when I say the “whole package” – I mean someone that meets the parameters you’ve set in your mind/heart for who is a great match for YOU).
It’s OK to be picky and wait for it.

Be greedy on the front end, so that you don’t end up greedily holding onto something that isn’t meant to be yours.  Be greedy, to not be greedy.  See what I mean?

And in the meantime, it’s OK to let the men or women around you grab up the dresses that made you look fat while you wait for the one that fits you like a glove.

I can only hope that my perfect dress (I imagine it’s ruched for maximizing my curves, while having a big, passionate heart) is out there on some rack, waiting for me to try it on… and not being held hostage in some other woman’s closet while she holds onto something that isn’t right for her, out of fear that there won’t be something better.

 

Ready to Rumble? – Body Talk

What is your body telling people that you’re not?

Did you realize that only a SMALL percentage of communication actually occurs with our words? The rest is communicated with para-linguistic (non-verbal) cues, like facial expressions, posture, eye movements, etc. It is postulated that as much as 93% of communication happens non-verbally.

WHAT??? 93%??? That’s almost the WHOLE enchilada, peeps!
So – it seems that we should be paying attention to how we’re using our bodies/faces to ‘talk’ to others –
and no time is more important than when conflict is on the line.

SO – for today’s continuation of our series on conflict – we’re talking about bodies. Mmm…. 🙂

I could fill hundreds of posts talking about all the facets of non-verbal language, but for today’s purposes, I’m just going to highlight some tips to consider when in a conflictual situation. Without talking at all, you can use your body to soften the other person.

This is so simple. If you use your body to send the message that you’re NOT on the defensive, or NOT angry, but are open to resolution, the other person will pick up on it and hopefully mirror that attitude. This includes:

– NOT crossing your arms. I know that sometimes this is just a comfortable position. But, it sends a message of being guarded. The crossed arms are a natural “wall.” Take it down. Force yourself to put your arms by your side. NOT on your hips – that’s confrontational. By your side or on a table or something. Or you can clasp your hands in front of you, but loosely. Tight fingers, tightly clasped hands and (obviously) fists send another message!

– Turning TOWARD the other person. We’ll talk later about emotional ways to ‘turn toward,’ but for now I mean LITERALLY – turn toward them. If you turn you’re back, you’re telling them that either you’re not interested in resolving things, or that you’re afraid, or that you don’t think they have ANY validity – all of which get in the way of restoration.

– Consciously relaxing the muscles in your face/shoulders. Especially for men. That clenched jaw sends a thousand-word message to the other person – and it’s not a nice message. Force yourself to think about your jaw, your neck, your shoulders and relax them. Seems small, but it can make all the difference.

– That whole deep breath thing? Yeah… it’s legit. By taking a deep breath or two and breathing them out slowly, you’re actually bringing down your blood pressure, lowering your heart rate and relaxing muscles – all of which SHOW.

– Eyebrows up! A furrowed brow speaks of anger. I realize that often, we furrow our brows out of frustration or even innocent concentration – especially those analytical thinkers out there – you know who you are. But, if you’ll make yourself relax those muscles and raise your eyebrows slightly – it communicates openness and kindness.

– Eye contact. Alright – personal disclosure time – I have a really hard time with this and I have to force myself to do it. If I can do it, though… you can too.
Make eye contact often. It makes a connection. Now, I realize that in the heat of anger, you don’t really WANT to make a connection with someone who doesn’t feel ‘safe,’ but remember the end-game… the goal is to be happy again and to be restored with that person. And connecting with their eyes is a way to tell them that you are in this, and on their side.

– Sex. Have lots of sex. What? Ok…I was just seeing if anyone was still reading. I’m just kidding………we save that for later. Ok – back to the list.

– Use your body to show you’re really listening – a simple head nod can make someone feel so validated in a time of frustration.

– Read the other person and use proximity or even touch to show your intentions of resolve. Now, this only works if the other person isn’t afraid. Only you can be the judge of that. But, if they’re merely hurt or angry/frustrated… a slow and gentle approach into their space and then a kind touch to the arm or hand (or in the cases of intimate relationships, even the face or hair) can be EVERYTHING. I’m telling you… sometimes you can solve an entire argument by making eye contact, softening the eyebrows and touching the face in just the right way to let the other person know, “regardless of where we stand on this issue, I love you.” That can MELT a person. Use it carefully, obviously… if someone’s in a scared/vulnerable place, they’ll need more space.

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Again…there is SO much more to say on this topic. We didn’t even get into tone, rhythm/speed of conversation, types of touch, strategies for using paradox to break the conflict cycle (like taking the fight to the bathtub or switching languages…).

But for now, perhaps this gets the ball rolling in your mind so that the next time there’s friction with someone you care about, you can take a minute to relax, breathe and use an open posture to move things along toward restoration – which is really what everyone wants.

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Ready to Rumble? – People Aren’t the Problem

One of the first steps in the art of negotiation is to “separate the people from the problem.”  Put aside the relational issues and focus on the substance/content.

Easy, right?  Ha!

How in the WORLD do you tease out the issue at hand from the person delivering it/engaging in it with you?  This sounds like one of those infuriating moments when someone patronizingly tells you “don’t take it personally.”  I can’t STAND that phrase.  Because… most of the time it gets used, the situation is actually QUITE personal, and all they’re doing in using that phrase is exerting some kind of self-defined superiority over you.

battleMost conflict IS personal.

Someone does something or neglects to do something or says something that causes stress/pain/hurt.  Whether their intentions are harmful or not, they have caused offense to YOU.  It’s personal.  To YOU.

So, how are we supposed to separate out the people from the problem when the people ARE the problem?  Well………

Continue reading

Ready to Rumble? – Know Thyself

One of the first steps in becoming a better fighter is increasing self-awareness.

Wow… this really rings of a wax-on-wax-off kinda talk, doesn’t it, grasshopper?

Imagine any scenario where you’ve had friction with someone… inevitably the human instinct is to defend ourselves by either assigning blame to the other person or at the very least, avoiding the blame yourself.

But, a surefire way to fan the flame of disagreement  is to jump right to what the other person did/said wrong and working out your rebuttle or defense to their incorrect conclusions. Continue reading

Ask Sarah – Rebounding

Dear Sarah,

How can you avoid becoming someone’s rebound?


Well, let’s define our terms first.  Because when most people use the term “rebound,” they don’t just mean the person someone dates right after coming out of a long-term relationship.  There’s a connotation that the rebound relationship is NOT going to work out to be long-term or meaningful… that it’s just a stop along the way of the wounded person’s healing process.

And, everybody should want to avoid THAT.

But I DO believe there are people who are healthy enough to do the required work after a breakup, so that their next relationship CAN be healthy and long-term.  So – while you may technically be their “rebound,” it might have potential to be great.  I dare say there are a fair share of marriages out there that began as “rebounders.”

And it wouldn’t be fair to discount someone as a potential partner JUST because this would be their first relationship after a failed one!

So, I think a better question would be

How do I assess someone’s true ‘readiness’ for a relationship?”

 

Obviously, there’s no foolproof method for this, or else multitudes of broken hearts around the world wouldn’t happen at the hands of ill-prepared men and women entering relationships they’re not ready for.  I have fallen victim to this myself, getting involved with someone who, by his own admission a year and a half later, wasn’t ready.  Sigh…

But… I do think there are some tools we can use to better the odds.

1.  Does she have a happy life, aside from being single?

I’ve talked about this before – that you can know there’s something missing in your life – even long for it, while still creating a life you enjoy around you.
When you meet someone, he should seem satisfied with his life, not like he’s moping until he finds you.  If you come into an unhappy life, he or she will be expecting YOU to be their EVERYthing and that’s a lot of (too much) pressure.  That’s a recipe for co-dependence.

Rather – look for someone who has friends, hobbies, who seems pretty content with things.

This also includes looking for moodiness.  Now, everyone has a bad day.  Everyone has natural ups and downs, but I’m talking about something more dramatic.  Someone who’s consistently moody (high highs and low lows… and you don’t know what you’re going to encounter when you call/text/meet up) may be either still hung up on a past relationship (meaning that they’re still in the healing phase), or may even have a mental disorder that needs to be addressed.

True happiness/contentment should look like this – she’s generally in a good mood, has people and activities in her life that make her happy, seems content with the way things are… and YOU would be the icing on the cake that would take her from good to GREAT.  You don’t want to have to be someone’s savior.

2.  Does there seem to be an overemphasis on the physical?

When people aren’t healthy enough to do what’s required for a relationship, you can often tell because they’ll be very into the physical stuff (touching, snuggling, kissing, etc.) and neglect the emotional/intellectual connection required to really know each other.

After a breakup, one of the things we all crave and miss – is that physical connection and attention we used to get all the time, that’s been suddenly taken away.  It leaves a lonely hole that we yearn to fill.  And it’s so easy to go after it in someone else before really mourning the first relationship’s end and coming back to a good personal place.  I’ve heard several people lately talk about how much they miss just having someone in the bed with them – not even sex, necessarily – just another person next to them while they sleep.  I get that – I DO!  But, don’t go into a relationship JUST to get that.  Or don’t be the one in a relationship that’s giving JUST that.

Do not confuse physical intimacy for a complete picture of closeness.  When two people fall in the love the RIGHT way, the level of intimacy always matches the level of connectedness.  It doesn’t precede it.  As you know each other better, affection naturally increases.  If the two are out of balance… it’s a red flag.

So, if you find yourself with someone who always wants a little less talk and a lot more action, you might ask yourself if s/he’s only in it for the temporary ego-boost/healing balm that mugging down can give you when you’re not really ready for the whole enchilada.

3.  Did he come right out and TELL you he wasn’t ready?

Sadly, I’ve fallen into this trap a few times.  Someone’s literally told me – point blank – that he wasn’t ready for a relationship… he just wanted to get out there and have some fun.  But, I was so attracted to him that I tricked myself into thinking that if he got to really know me, he wouldn’t be able to help falling madly in love.  Ha!

If he SAYS he isn’t ready – believe ‘im.  Because, hey – what’s the alternative?  That he’s wrong – which makes him either REALLY not self-aware, or a liar… neither of which do you want to date.

4.  Is she selfish?

I know this sounds obvious – ‘don’t date someone who’s self-absorbed.’  Duh.  But, it’s not always so simple.  Selfishness can often be disguised beneath false kindness/sacrifice.  You know that girl who bakes you cookies and leaves you sweet notes?  That’s all well and good… but doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s still not thinking only of herself.  Listen to the language… is the “me monster” showing up in every conversation? (shout out to Brian Regan there…)  Do you know all about her preferences/hobbies/ideas, but she hasn’t asked about yours or engaged with you about your life?  Sweet notes with her lip prints doesn’t count toward truly knowing each other and being partners on a team.

This is a dangerous one because – at the beginning of a relationship, it can feel like the other person is meeting all your needs, when in reality it’s just fulfulling something in her and isn’t about loving/serving you at all.

5.  Does he talk about his ex too much?

Another one that seems obvious… but it can be masked in the tantalizing sweetness of comparison.  How nice is it to have a guy say, “You are so much more [fill-in-the-blank good quality] than my ex was.”  The natural competitor in all of us wants to “win” by being the BEST boyfriend or girlfriend someone’s ever had.  Heck, I find myself falling into this trap even with friends!  If I find out I do something better than another friend, I get a swollen sense of pride.

But, here’s the deal – you don’t really want to aim for “better than the ex.”  You want to aim for “great.  all on your own.”

Being a notch or two above the one who ended up getting ditched isn’t exactly a lofty goal.  We should all be targeting an amazing connection that moves beyond the bounds of exes and is incredible all on its own – free from the ghosts of our past relationships.

If you keep hearing stories of the ex, comparisons to the ex, or complaining (that’s the worst) about the ex… it may be a sign that he’s not really over her.

Talking about a past love with pain in his voice is a sure-fire clue that if she were to come back into the picture, he’d turn away from you and into her arms in a heartbeat.  And that’s not the man you want.  You want a man who has a whole heart’s worth of room for you.

 

 

There are other signs, of course.  But these are some that you can be on the lookout for, to avoid being the bad kind of rebound lover.  But, remember, sometimes – the relationship that comes right after an unhealthy one has ended… can be good – as long as the dumpee has done the work needed to be ready.

Listen to your gut.  Watch for red flags and pay attention to them.  We are built with an intrinsic sense of right/wrong and being able to sniff out falseness.  If you can hone that ability by paying attention to the things that aren’t being said – you can probably avoid a fair share of heartache.

But, in the end… love is still a risk.  And even the best of the best get duped, swept up, fooled or disappointed.  Welcome to the grandest gamble of all.  When you lose, it hurts like a mother-dumper.  But when you win… it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

 


					

Are You Ready to Rumble?

Let’s talk about fighting!

conflict 4

One of the dumbest things people say (and I hear this ALL the time), is:  “I just really HATE conflict.”

DUH!  I can’t stand when I hear people say this because it’s usually a way of avoiding problem-solving.  What they MEAN is that they actively avoid conflict.

conflict 2

 

 

Is there anyone (except sociopaths and narcissists, perhaps) who LIKES conflict?

It’s conflictual for a reason …the friction between two people when things aren’t right – is never fun or enjoyable or comfortable.  No one LIKES conflict.

 

BUT… some people HANDLE it better than others.

Over the next few weeks, on Wednesdays, I’m going to be posting a series about conflict –  issues that prevent peace-making, different styles of conflict resolution, fears that get in the way, opposing personalities throwing down, etc.  Should be FUN!  Er… interesting…?

One thing that I have learned from being self-aware, analytical and devoting myself to my friendships/relationships, is I put a high value on the quality of being able to fight fairly.
Being a GOOD fighter is something I pride myself on and desire in a partner.

 

conflict 3

So, let me use today’s introduction post to say this…
FIGHT.

FIGHT for your relationships!

You know that idea of “fight vs. flight?”  (Also known as the Acute Stress Response)…It’s that choice, when presented with a perceived personal danger – to attack or to flee.  And I’m here to tell you –  Always choose fight.  I don’t mean be a jerk or use a heavy hand to win… I mean tackling the problem as soon as is possible for you.  If it’s not your natural response, let’s dig in and find out why so that going forward, you can tackle problems quickly and efficiently so that the least amount of damage occurs.  That’s what we’re going for here – minimal loss of love/trust/security.

conflict 1

This applies to friendships, family and definitely romantic relationships.  So, no matter where you are in your love life, or with your career, or how close you are to your family, you are in SOME form of relationship with SOMEone and conflict is a natural part of that.  So, WHEN (not ‘if’) it arises, let’s be ready to fight.

And to fight well.

After all,…anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Ask Sarah – Emotional Safety

Dear Sarah,

What does it MEAN to feel “safe?”
A lot of women use that phrase, but I’m never quite sure what they mean?


Fantastic question!  Talking about this kind of stuff is my jam – I love it.
I’d love to teach mini-classes on this kind of thing…with games, object lessons, etc… but I digress.

First, a quick caveat – Emotional safety has very little to do with physical safety.  Although – especially as it concerns sexual intimacy, there DOES need to be a baseline of love and CARE so that anything rough or agressive is viewed through that lens and is only received as passionate, not angry or sadistic.

But, if we ASSUME that both people in a relationship TRUST the other one with their physical safety and care – that the other person has no desire to harm or shame them… then we can move on from the physical piece and move to the greater element of emotional safety.

This – the idea of emotional “Safety” – has (unfortunately) become a trendy term in therapeutic circles and so it’s overused…  like – way overused.
Sort of like the word “co-dependent” that people throw around – half the time, incorrectly.  Ugh…
But the core idea of emotional/relational safety is so good and so beautiful, that despite the overuse of the phrase, it’s essential to dig into and understand if you’re going to be a great partner.
To be “safe” involves three things:
1.  safety is being loved,
2.  safety is being known (vulnerable) and accepted, and
3.  safety is believing that your partner perceives you as his/her only ‘object of affection’ – aka ‘belonging’

I’ll work my way backwards through the pieces of safety, from my way of thinking (and that’s all this is…Sarah’s thoughts…).

Beliefs / Belonging:
A woman wants to feel like she is the ONLY person being shown affection/attention by her lover.  If a man DOES only love/desire one woman – that’s half the battle…,  the secondary piece is her actually BELIEVING that.  Sometimes a man can do everything in his power to convince a woman that she’s the only one, but because of her own insecurities and doubts (ultimately based in fear), she can’t let herself believe she’s worthy of that love.
But, if a woman is relationally healthy and believes a man wants only her – that belief gives her the freedom to rest in her worthiness of love and affection – and enjoy it.

(and yes…this goes both ways…same for men as it is for women).(side note here… I think that ultimately, the greatest obstacle in man/woman relationships isn’t ‘lack of communication’ or ‘unwillingness to compromise,’ but is all about WHAT WE BELIEVE about ourselves and what we BELIEVE about the other person.  Perception is everything.  If I perceive that a man truly loves me – for me – flaws and fat and all – then I  have NO room for fear or other damaging forces.)Known & Accepted:
This is huge.  Not everyone wants this, when you get right down to it.  But, those of us who search for GREAT love – we don’t just want to be accepted – we want the double-edged-amazing sword of knowing/loving.
I want to be KNOWN – understood, “gotten”… and this is more than just knowing my story or my information (Sarah was “Student of the Year” in 3rd grade and has had 6 pets…blah blah blah…) – that stuff is important as you get to know someone, but truly knowing me means understanding the way I work – my strengths, my way of processing things, my areas of woudedness, the totality of me.  And when someone KNOWS me….and STILL decides that I’m worthy of full acceptance?  Well, that’s everything.  That’s what sets the great love stories apart from the sea of mediocrity.
To be known – is to be laid open.

Naked.

Exposed.

Stripped down and shown for who you are – metaphorical stretch marks and all.

 

And if people will live their lives as vulnerable creatures – being AUTHENTIC instead of numbing the painful parts of their lives (which in turn, numbs the joy and elation of things like big love), they’ll get the overwhelming gift of being known and accepted.  They’ll also get the excruciating pain from those who DON’T accept them.  So – it’s a huge risk …for a huge reward.  But aren’t those the very best kinds of rewards?
For me personally, I’ve decided to live my life in a somewhat counter-cultural authenticity – that means I’m transparent, open, honest, genuine…   I’m me.
But, I open myself up to a LOT of judgment, and…the pain of when people DON’T like what they see.
Still……it’s worth it for when people see the TRUE SARAH…and decide I’m worthy of their love.
This is a cool video on vulnerability…I REALLY encourage you to take a couple minutes to watch it.
From around 9:20 all the way to the end…she gets into stuff that I feel like screaming “AMEN!” to…in my own life.  It’s GOOD stuff…seriously.  I love this excerpt.

Loved:

Being loved in that REAL way – the way where someone has deemed you SO worthy of his love, that he’s made the conscious CHOICE and COMMITMENT to die to himself and put you in a place of greater importance (and of course, this works best when it’s mutual…she dies to herself and puts you above her) – is the ultimate sweet spot of safety.

True love is a DECISION for SACRIFICE.  If someone chooses to sacrifice his own pride or comfort to love you… that’s the real deal.

A couple important take-aways:
1.  When emotional safety is NOT present, you breed an environment of distrust.  This begins by not giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but evolves into a deep-seated resentment and cynicism.
example:  Guy says something careless to his wife, trying to make a joke, but accidentally hurting her feelings.

If there’s emotional safety, she has the space to say, “ouch!  I know you didn’t mean it, but that hit a nerve babe.”

If there’s NOT emotional safety, she assumes his intentions were to wound her, and it doubley hurt – one by the comment and moreso (two) that he would de-value her enough to WANT to hurt her at some level.  (And honestly, if there’s not a foundation of safety, she might be right!)

And once you start assigning cruel motives…you’re on a slippery path to bitterness and ultimately, apathy.

 

2.  Unlike our modern Oprah culture of ‘make things happen on your own’ – you make your own universe….you create your own happiness….,
the idea of emotional safety is, by its very nature – relationally based.  It’s DEpendent on someone else.

YOUR safety DEPENDS on the other person’s willingness to offer it to you.

That’s where that vulnerability/risk come in.  If I open myself up – I lay myself bare for someone that I think I could love…and who I hope could love me… he may.  And he may not.  And if he accepts me, flaws and all – then I get to live in the great freedom and joy of that safety.  But, he might not…he might say – “I don’t like you naked”…and that’s the worst pain.  This is why rejection hurts the most when someone knows you the most…because they’re virtually saying, “I see the real you.  And I refuse to accept/love that.”

So – emotional safety is dependent on another person.  And post-modern Americans don’t like that.  We want to make things happen ourselves.  But, the nature of this is that we offer it to one another.  I can give YOU a place of emotional safety.  YOU can give ME the same.  And so on.

3.  How do you let someone KNOW that you know them and accept them and love them?  Well…..that’s the stuff of another post.  For now, suffice it to say that you have to tell/show them… but that can be fun.  🙂

So – for my part – I try my hardest to live in a way that is SO real that others around me feel welcome to be THEIR real selves… and be known and accepted.  This is really hard.  It’s hard because being vulnerable hurts.  It’s like exposing your naked body to the elements.

But, when it works……….oh, the unspeakable joy.

 

If you want to love BIG, you need a place where you can love in safety, which means you’ll have the freedom to love the BEST.

So… grab a banana nut muffin*, and think about letting people in – even more – to the real you… and in doing so, opening yourself up to great things.

* (that was a test to see if you watched the video).

 

Dating at the Baggage Claim

Men are like waffles.

Or, wait…they’re from Mars and I’m from Venus, right?

Or is it that finding one is like picking out shoes?

travel 1

Well, today – I contend that picking the right man or woman is a lot like waiting on the perfect (or not so perfect) piece of luggage.

We’ve all been there – standing impatiently at the baggage claim carousel, hoping against hope that the next piece of luggage to plop out onto the belt will be ours.  OURS!
After all – WE are in a hurry.

Isn’t dating just like this?  I’ve had a lot of conversations lately with singles at varying stages of hopefullness/hopelessness and it occurs to me that picking out a man (or woman) is a precisely like waiting at the carousel.

You stand around in a crowd of people, some of whom have had the same luggage for years… they grab it up, smile endearingly, and walk away content with their wife of 40 years… er… Samsonite.

Others are SO eager to just GET a bag, that any will do.  They’ll grab up the first flashly expandable/collapsible rolling case with a built-in mp3 player in sporty orange and go… not realizing that it’s empty inside… or worse…full of its own nasty baggage.  (And hey – is there anything worse than baggage inside of baggage?)

travel 2

Then, you’ve got the folks who SAY they’re ‘picky’ or ‘doing things different this time,’ but darn if they don’t KEEP picking up the same suitcase every bleedin’ time it comes around.  Hey!  You know why it keeps coming around and no one else is scooping it up?  Because it’s bad luggage!
If you keep grabbing the same one, realizing it doesn’t suit you, putting it back and then grabbing it up again when it comes around the next time, …isn’t that the definition of insanity?
That person never leaves the airport… and then complains that life at the airport stinks.
Um…

But I, for one, am waiting for the “perfect bag.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not looking for a new or fancy one.  In fact, a suitcase that’s got a few scratches and dings from traveling the world actually sounds nice.  It’s weathered a few storms, but is better for it.  It’s not without flaws, but it’s perfect FOR ME.

Problem is… I have to wait.

And wait.

And…. wait.

travel 4

I watch the conveyer belt mockingly glide along with the same ski case, car seat, beat-up cardboard box and 14 black mid-sized suitcases that are all about the same… and they go round and round and round.  Every once in a while, something that LOOKS like my bag will appear in the rotation and I’ll pull it off, look at the tag, try it on for size, and then… quite quickly determine that it’s not right… and return it to the carousel for someone else to enjoy.  There’s no point in holding onto a piece of luggage any longer than you need to once you realize it’s not the one you want.

Now, I’ve come under quite a bit of criticism this last year for being “too picky.”  And, you know what?  Criticism is hard.  Really hard.  It makes you start to question yourself…
Maybe there’s NOT a bag for me?
Maybe I SHOULD just take one of those boring mid-sized cases and just deal with it not being a great fit.
Maybe I should bristle and defend myself to my naysaying and unsolicitedly vocal audience – “Hey!  A girl can wait, dangit!!”

But, in the end, honestly – I’m happy to wait.  I’ve got a great spot with a nice line of vision.  The airport is climate-controlled and full of snacks.  I get to meet a ton of fun people who pass through picking out their own luggage, and I wait.  I can rejoice with others who find their suitcase, and I can comfort those who thought they did, but realized it wasn’t theirs and had to return it.

In the end… the point is this – there is hope.  And I wait.

Think about it… when you wait for your piece of luggage to come through at the airport, and you start to realize it’s not happening – you get that sick, annoyed feeling in your gut because you know the airline lost it or sent it on the wrong flight and now some gate-checker in Boise is sifting through your unmentionables and back-issues of Bon Appetit.  BUT – you know it’s SOMEwhere.  And, even though you may have to drag your exhausted hiney to that poorly lit baggage office and have them hand you the consolation “travel kit” – [you know the one…  It offers you the luxury and extravagance of a toothbrush, shower cap, off-brand deoderant and a $5 gift card to Starbucks (’cause THAT’s all a girl needs to feel pretty)]… ultimately, you know they’re going to find your suitcase.  It may be delayed.  Heck, if it’s an international snafoo, it may mean a LONG wait.  But, it’s coming.  Your bag is coming.

travel 3

So, while there are moments of discouragement and questioning as I wait for my piece of luggage (oh…and by the way … mine is amazing.  You should SEE all the compartments and depth that is belied by its handsome exterior… Mmm…) – and those moments are no fun – my hope doesn’t diminish.  Because the bag is out there.
Sure – it may be in a frenetic baggage claim in Charles de Gaulle airport (hey…a girl can dream, right?  I like to think my bag has enjoyed some french artisinal cheeses along its path to me), and it may be (for now), in the hands of a misguided traveler who THINKS it’s hers, but hasn’t realized it’s not the right one yet.  It may have been damaged in flight and is being repaired before entering back into circulation.  But it’s out there.  And one day, it’ll pop out of that mysterious tunnel and into my life.

And I will be SO glad I waited.

 

Let’s Get REAL…like the housewives

Ok, I admit it – I’m about to recycle and old post on you guys.  But a have a really good reason…

I’m out of ideas.

 

HA ha!! As if!

I have more ideas than I’ll probably EVER get the chance to write about…because they flood into my mind faster than I can capture them, write them up and post them. Not to mention, you all have been GREAT about submitting questions to the “Ask Sarah” page…and I plan to answer them all.  (Keep ’em coming!)

 

No, I’m reposting this because I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about boring or poorly thought-out online profiles, and it reminded me of one of my early blogs… so I thought I’d reshare.  If you’ve already read it, well – read it again in a cool accent.


 

Ubiquity is Everywhere.

 

Look.  You are no different from anyone else when it comes to the basics of what you want in a partner.  Obviously everyone is unique and has certain idiosyncrasies that set them apart in what makes them choose one over another.  But, the basics…the standard fare – is always the same.  I mean, c’mon – no one says “I’m looking for a lazy, ugly, cheating, raging, cheap man who will give me no attention or affection.”  (But if you know this girl, give her a “bless your heart” hug as soon as possible.)

So, since we’ve established that we all want the normal baseline of decent human character, can we stop TALKING about it?  I am so sick of reading profile after profile that say the same stinkin’ thing.  They all want a woman who is sweet, but also speaks her mind; who is pretty with or without makeup; who enjoys her work, but isn’t consumed by it; on and on…. something, something…blah blah…I’m alseep.

Can we start an uprising?  A revolutionary new way of approaching this?  How’s about this:  don’t say dumb stuff that’s obvious.  Say something that sets you apart.  I’m telling you – the profiles that grab my attention and make me want to send the guy a message, are those that have a flash of wit or an interesting musing or even just a silly story.  In an effort to jump start this grassroots campaign for uniqueness, I’m offering up my services – that is, I’m going to tell you how to not screw it up.

First off…guys, why do so many of your profiles say that you want an HONEST woman?  Well, duh.  Do we have to SAY that?  All you’re doing is letting everyone know that you were cheated on.  Which is sad, but it’s not particularly relevant for searching for a woman online… I mean, let’s just think this through to the end – if I’m NOT an honest woman, then obviously I’m not going to tell you I’m dishonest…that would be honest…which I’m not.  So, I can CLEARLY not choose the wine in front of you!  (If you don’t get that reference, you should have your funny gland checked… no, seriously…I’m a little concerned…)

Next, a helpful list for quick reference when writing the “about me” section:

Things EVERYone loves, so you don’t need to verbalize it:

–       Long walks on the beach.  The beach is beautiful, day or night.  Walking hand in hand with someone you love is delightful.  Who wouldn’t like to put these two things together?

–       Have fun.  ….OOOOooh.  Ok. Gotcha.

–       Staying in and watching a movie, cuddling on the couch.  Men always list this right after they’ve used that whole line about wanting a woman who can put on her heels and go out on the town, AND be able to just throw her hair up in a ponytail and relax at home.  I think they must think that we need to hear them admit to being homebodies?  Everyone likes vegging out on the sofa.  Everyone likes having someone around to snuggle with.  Again…put these together and you have a universally acceptable partner activity.

–       Laugh.  Really?  You have to say this?  You have to specify that you enjoy that thing your body naturally does…when you’re experiencing enjoyment?  Is there such a thing as a person that doesn’t like to laugh?  I mean, barring all those people with cripplingly painful laughter muscle diseases… obvi.  But, are there women out there who hate it when they laugh?  Try picturing someone laughing and hating it at the same time…kinda funny, right?  Kinda makes you want to laugh, right?  I hate that.

–       Love.   So, wait… you love love?  AND you’re on an online dating site?  That is so. weird.

–       To enjoy life to the fullest.  This one really chaps my hide.  Why do they have to be so extreme?  I mean… I like to enjoy life as much as the next guy, but…. ‘to the fullest?’  I don’t know that I’m ready for that kind of commitment…

–       Simple Pleasures.  While I prefer to have to toil tirelessly for a small amount of happiness, I suppose I can get on board with some pleasure that comes easy… it’s asking a lot, but I’ll try to power through.

And, let me just admit that I’m guilty of this too.  I guess I feel like if I DON’T list the globally understood basic  decencies I want in a person, that I’ll be that lucky girl who ends up with some soul-less sociopath, rocking in a corner somewhere, muttering to myself, “I should’ve specified that I wanted a nice, honest guy….what have I done?”

But, perhaps ….just perhaps… one day, I’ll be bold enough to take my quasi-generic checklist down and put something like this up in its stead:

“Sassy, sometimes controlling, but always fun grammar nazi seeks a man who:

– prefers real Christmas trees over fakes ones.  I mean…eww.
– will kill spiders and all manner of bug or icky-like creatures that come into my path.
– will play the radio game with me, and never stoop to letting me win.
– won’t tease me about my spray butter problem, unless it’s that adorable flirty teasing thing.
– won’t judge me for watching trash TV…and maybe will even watch a few shows with me.
– is handsome enough that I can’t resist him, but not SO perfect that I feel insecure around him.  I don’t need abs of steel… abs of a good firm back-sleeper-pillow will do just fine.
– won’t roll his eyes at my habit of turning every phrase into a song.
– will let me convince him to abandon white flour.  It’s the wave of the food future, dude.  Just surrender now.
– will let me have 5/6ths of the bed and keep the ceiling fan off.
– will watch chick-flicks with me without rolling his eyes and saying words like “formulaic”
– doesn’t consider a matinee and dinner at Chili’s a “romantic evening”
– will offer to rub my shoulders without me having to ask, from time to time
– can cook.  Or at least will join me in a culinary adventure where I cook and he’s my hunky sous chef.  Oh my….
– drinks wine.
– owns clothes other than graphic tees
– will throw a party with me… bonus points for hosting or going to a costume party where he actually dresses up.
– loves Jesus…and actually GETS that we need him.”  (whoa…heavy…)

So – there you have it.  Men of Houston, form a line and let’s do this thing.  I’m accepting 7’s and higher tonight.