29 and counting…Its Over. My 20’s a decade in review

Welcome 30! Today I have officially made it out of my 20’s safely, and kleenex free. Luckily I have avoided the emotional meltdown that I was highly dreading.  Surprisingly I still feel good, actually I feel great.  I hope age 30 will be my best year ever! Let’s check in on that a year from now.

As I say goodbye to my twenties, I must say that I am really not too sad to see them go. I have made mistakes, learned how to get over those mistakes, made more mistakes, and again continued to grow. Life is a journey. One word to describe the last 10 years of my life: Transformation. A year ago I would have never been able to understand this transformation fully, but over time, I have been able to look back on events in my life and learn from them. I have been able to transform into the product of a collection of lessons learned from every phase of life over the past decade, for if I have not been able to learn from it then what was truly the point of living it.

My 20’s a decade in review: A decade that can safely be put to rest

Ages 20-22: I was really dumb. Seriously, I knew absolutely nothing at all about anything. During this phase of my life I graduated college, so I knew enough to get by in higher education.  I started graduate school, so I even knew just enough to get by in continued higher education. OK so maybe I was book smart. However I was still dumb. My weekends were spent partying at the club, and I think I tried about every type of alcohol that was in existence at the time. During the age of 20 I drank so much, that by the time I turned 21 I really didn’t have the desire to drink anymore. But I did. I kept drinking, I was having fun. That’s what you do when your young right you have fun and binge drink. During my early twenties I learned how to express love to another person, I thought was in love for the first time (or at least I really really  liked my boyfriend a whole lot), and I learned there are hundreds of ways to have the most amount of fun in Manhattan on a super cheap budget! Most important lesson learned: Stop being dumb and grow up!

Ages 23-25: Ahhhh my mid twenties! I was still dumb. Maybe not as dumb as my early twenties but still very much dumb. By this time I thought I had found love for the second time. Even had those crazy thoughts of having that nice shiny ring, with that whole wedding thing to match. Yeah I was a serial monogamist. But, I am also a romantic, so if I think it is love then I will run with it. The highlight of my mid twenties; graduating from graduate school. The low point of my mid twenties, actually having to go out and get a job! Adulthood came quick, I wasn’t even looking and it hit me on the head. No more living on grad school budget with two part time jobs, I had a real salary and real responsibilities. As a new psychotherapist I knew nothing, and I imagined all my clients hating me and walking out of my office because they would eventually realize that I knew absolutely nothing. Yeah that was me. Fresh out of school, student loans galore, and I still knew nothing. Lesson learned: Just because someone gives you a job, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to do it.

Age 26: In basketball, during  a seven game playoff series, when both teams each have 2 wins in the series, they refer to game 5 as the pivotal game 5. Age 26 was my pivotal game 5. To be honest, age 26 was probably the darkest year of my life to date, and I never want to go back to that point again. It was my make or break year, and through much of the year I was broken. If I could describe myself at age 26 the word would be, uncertain. I was uncertain about everything, and just surviving to make it to the next day. Life was there, but I was no where near living.  My job was a daily form of torture. I was on a roller coaster ride of a relationship, so that was just more self-inflicted torture, and everything about New York City seemed to increase the daily torture meter. To describe my mood as unhappy would be the ultimate understatement. The age of 26 was pivotal because I knew something needed to change. I needed a big change and I needed it quick. If I had stayed in New York, I saw my life on a downward spiral towards the abyss of depression. If I left, well I figured it couldn’t be any worse than what I was already facing. And on that note, I left. Lessons learned: Stay away from douche bags, and self-inflicted torture is never a good idea. If you are not happy with something in life, It is fully your responsibility to change it.

Ages 27-29: The transformation years: These are the years that I will miss. I am happy and sad to see them go. During this period I was no longer the college drinking weekend alcoholic, or the unhappy, job hating New Yorker. I found a way to just be me, and I found a way to be me on the other side of the pacific. Who knew that would happen? No, everyday was not the best of days, I still very much struggled with days of unhappiness, and even lingering depressive thoughts. Lessons learned: How to take control of my own life. How to make it work for me. I learned how to combat negative thoughts, negative energy, and negative experiences, so I can the avoid the downward spiral. I learned to depend on myself. To not look for love from others, but to look for love within myself. I learned how to work at a job that I love. I have developed into a great therapist, and no longer worry what my clients think of me. I have learned to appreciate the life that was given to me, and over the past few years I have developed a stronger understanding of how I can make it better. I have no regrets. Most importantly, I learned that life involves taking risk, without my risk who knows where I would be today.

As I reflect on my twenties, I start to smile. Through the laughing, the crying, the love, the heartbreak, the pain, the isolation, and the starting over, I have really had an emotional, purpose driven last ten years of life. I am grateful for the lessons learned in life through each year of my twenties. I am also very happy that I am no longer dumb. I still do not know a lot, but at least now I recognize what is unknown, and as always I am ready to learn so much more.

So today at 30, bring it on. What do I want to do? Well to start expanding my career options, move back to the other side of the Pacific, possibly closer to the Atlantic, and if that love thing happens to come around again, I’ll be even more ready for it this time. I can’t help it, I will always be a hopeless romantic. 🙂

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Once Again Its Valentine’s Day (Don’t worry it only lasts 24 hours)

It’s that time of year again. The day of Love. Valentine’s Day. Again, I will never understand the concept of the day because when I love someone, I hope that I do love them everyday and not just because society tells me to love them specifically on February 14th. Yet, since I am a sucker for romance and a sappy chick flick, I must admit that I do love the feelings and atmosphere that surround February 14th. It is always nice to see an overabundance of diamonds, flowers, and chocolate in lovely heart shaped boxes.

I used to think that Valentine’s Day was a girl holiday (a large part of me still does). Seriously I thought men hated the whole concept of the day. My take was that men who had a significant other would go through the motions and slowly wait in misery for the day to be over. I have never known a man who was genuinely excited about Valentine’s Day. Then I met my ex. He told me that men celebrated Valentine’s Day too, and men should be given gifts just like gifts are given to women. I was perplexed. Huh? All this time I was thinking that Valentine’s Day was a girl holiday. Girls get roses, teddy bears and diamond rings. The Kay jewelers and Hallmark commercials taught me that men present women with gifts on Valentines day, so obviously that was the way the day went down. I always had expected a small gift from the man I was dating at the time, and as for them, umm lets just say I didn’t know what to get them because Valentine’s Day is a girl holiday!

The first Valentines day I celebrated with my ex was simple, well we weren’t actually in an exclusive relationship at the time, so I didn’t expect a gift. He did take me out so that was a nice dating celebration for the day. The next year that damn Valentine’s Day rolled around again, and since we were far and long into an exclusive relationship I guess I had to give him a gift. Although, in my head Valentine’s Day was still a girl day, and I felt like I was being bamboozled. For the sake of genuine happiness in the relationship I caved. Honestly I can’t remember what it was that I got him, I know it wasn’t expensive though, it was small something to say I love you. I could have done that on any given day of any month, however Hallmark told me it was Valentine’s Day so celebrate.

For people in a relationship who are low on a budget, Valentines Day can be an added expense. We just celebrated Christmas less than two months ago. With the blink of an eye, six short weeks into the new year then bam! Another gift giving day. Because of that I feel Valentine’s Day gifts should be small, simple gestures just to say I love you. A large, expensive, materialistic, gift is not always needed. Everyday words and actions that say “I love you” mean so much more than a gift on Valentine’s Day. And that both men and women can reciprocate.

So that ex boyfriend of mine that somehow convinced me that Valentine’s Day was not only a girl day, but a guy day too, well obviously he is an ex for a reason. No it is not just because he expected gifts on Valentine’s Day (even though that would be a funny reason for a woman to break it off with a man). But, we were able to come to a mutual agreement when it came to Valentine’s Day. We were able to do things to make each other feel special, to celebrate love not only February 14, but every day before and after it. It wasn’t about the dollar amount that went into the gift, but the love that would last when the flowers died, after I ate all the chocolate, and after I lost whatever piece of jewelry he would eventually give me. My favorite gift was the one that probably cost him the least amount of money. A CD of original songs that he recorded just for me. The price: the amount of one blank CD.

Valentine’s Day is a  lovely over publicized day. However, since romance is in the air go with it. If that cupid guy shoots you and you feel overjoyed with emotions of love, spread that love. No one should be overly stressed, sad, or increasingly depressed on Valentine’s Day, after all it is just another day. Show love every day, be creative with love, go against the norms and come straight from your heart. By showing the simplest amount of love, in the simplest way, you will defiantly earn the greatest results.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Now can someone tell me the truth, Do men really expect gifts on Valentine’s Day or is it a girl holiday?

GelGems (I love them) on train.
Image via Wikipedia

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

In the world of love and relationships not every question is a soup question

The initial dating or getting to know someone phase of a relationship can be tricky. After the first few dates are there any questions that are completely off-limits, or does the concept of a dating, or semi-maybe-possibly we’re dating relationship equate to an open forum of information between two people? Is taking the no holds bar, all questions are possible approach a good strategy for building your relationship?

When we first get to know someone, we do what is natural, we ask questions (or at least I do).  As I continue to talk to them more questions become relevant, and I get more answers. I hope the answers are truthful.  Yet, what if a question is presented, and I feel the question and the answer is not relevant to moving forward with the relationship? Basically it is a question about the past, and has little to do with the future status of the relationship we may or may not be working on building. Do I  have to answer all the questions, or is there a bit of myself that I can keep for myself?

I am a firm believer in transparency.  As you can tell I hold back little information, I write about my life on a blog. I am not a huge fan of lying, I have found many times that the truth always comes out, so I do my best to avoid the lie. Honesty is less stressful, it helps me to keep a clear conscience. So if I am dating someone, or thinking about a relationship with a new man, I will tell the truth all the way.  So when he asks a question, I hope he is prepared for the answer. If the question is asked I have an answer, but I wonder are some questions just blatantly inappropriate to be asking in the first place?

For instance,  when it comes to the issue of sex and past sexual relationships, are detailed questions about a persons sexual past necessary to ask. Now I am not talking about questions like when was the last time you had an STD test, or do you currently have an STD? That I want to know, and if intimacy is to be had, that conversation should be had.  Let’s be honest, HIV is real and I don’t want you to kill me. HPV is more widespread than ever, and herpes is on the rise (I don’t care how happy those people look on the Valtrex commercial). So, if we need to talk about STD tests, yes I want to have  that conversation. That conversation I will bring up myself.

However other questions appear less relevant,  such as how many people have you slept with, or when was the last time you had sex? Are those need- to- know questions if you are not actually in a relationship with someone?  If you are in a relationship does the basis of your relationship change if you know how many people your partner has been with in his or her past?  Are those questions ever OK? If it happened in the past, is it so wrong to leave the past right there.

I say this because I have had men  ask me those very questions, they weren’t even my boyfriend, I was still trying to determine if they were good enough to be boyfriend potential.  I have also heard of men asking other women those questions. To some women (or men) in this situation who get asked those particular questions the saying, “Ask me questions and I will tell you no lies” may come into play. Since I like transparency I will give an honest answer. I give an honest answer for two reasons, number 1: my sex life is nothing I am ashamed of, and number 2: at this point we haven’t reached the point of being in a solid exclusive relationship, I would like any man who wants to know me, to know me for who I am.  Would I ever think those questions are relevant? No.

Some men will be quick to judge a woman by how many men she has slept with in the past. That I will never understand. If he has had previous sexual encounter, why would he expect for her to have a whole lot less sexual encounters of her own. I know men are glorified by their sexual experience, and women are labeled as a slut or hoe if she has too much sexual experience (still not sure who determines exactly what is too much, but oh well). That standard really needs to change. Newsflash to all men: Women are having sex, and they like it!  Sorry men, unless you are number 1, anything after that really doesn’t matter. Start from where you are at in your new relationship and go from there.  If you have expectations for a committed monogamous relationship then state it. Be assured with from that day forward  you will be the only man she is sleeping with, all those other men are non factors. If you want to know the last time she had sex before she was exclusive with you take a moment, breathe, then ask yourself, “Why is this important for me to know”? Continue with,”What what answer am I already expecting”? Trust me, the actual answer will probably be vastly different from the one you are expecting, so then again say to yourself, “Why is this important to me”? How would you feel if she asked you the same question? Would you be honest?

In relationships, yes, many questions should be asked, and truthful answers need to be given. When talking about intimacy and sexual health, it should be an open forum for a conversation between two people. When talking about past sexual relationships that is usually a tricky grey area. It would help to keep the questions relevant, don’t assume the answer will make you feel good about yourself. The answer may be shocking. It may hurt.  Expect the truth. If the truth scares you, then next time be careful about the questions you ask. The best relationships start with honesty and an open mind. Everyone has a past, but new relationships work best when they are focused on the present, and plans are made for the future.

Have you ever been asked a question when starting a brand new relationship that you just really did not want to answer?

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

My Much Overdue Dating Fast

Quick life update:

For the first time in what seems like a very long time I am not actively dating anyone. Wow, feels weird. Well not really. I have achieved some mental clarity (took long enough). I had wanted to take a dating fast for some time now because I felt I was at a point where I was dating without purpose. What do I mean by that? Well I was just dating guys to just to go out fun. It was an activity that mainly filled up my nights and weekends. At first glance, I had a feeling that I wouldn’ t be completely interested in these men, because they did not measure up to someone who I would see myself with on a  long-term basis. At second glance,  they still did not seem that way either.

In came my dating fast. Why was it so difficult to take a dating fast? Well, because there are men everywhere. Chances are if you are single, then you will eventually come across a man to ask you out. When asked out  for dinner or a movie, I would say yes. That yes was on the hopes that I would get meaningful conversation, or a good laugh, but no it never turned out that way. Suddenly dating, just became a waste of precious time. The experience was more pain than pleasure.

Since my dating fast, my life is feeling more refreshed than ever. I feel surrounded by positive energy, and positive thoughts. I’m at a point of happy with purpose.

Accomplishment as a result of my dating fast:

  • I have lost 7-8 pounds. A quick decrease in movie popcorn, eating out at restaurants, and late night appetizers does wonders for your diet. I have also been able to stick to a regular workout routine, no interruptions, or over exhaustion.
  • I am all caught up on my work, most times I am even finished early. No minor distractions of text messages or phone calls to attend to
  • I no longer feel obligated to do things  like go out on dates, when I really don’t want to.
  • I have been able to spend more time with my friends, no thinking about ways to split hours in the day.
  • I am learning to incorporate a regular sleep pattern into my life. Who knew 8 hours of sleep could make a world of difference in the morning.
  • I have also been able to develop ideas that have been sitting in my head. I have time! This is great!
  • Finally, I have been able to think about and, admit to myself the qualities that I truly desire in a man. I have realized the type of man who I want in my life  and who I should share my time with. I no longer have to spend time, dating just to date. I can date just the men who truly have the potential to be more than just a first date.

 

 

Positive thoughts, Positive energy, Positive experiences

The independent woman: A positive concept with a negative vibe

The concept of Miss Independent is one that is quickly becoming a misconstrued notion to many men. It seems to have transformed from the idea that women can be liberated to get the most out of life with or without a man, to one of  men feeling that an independent woman does not want a man, and would rather be alone at night. How did that happen?

Well a few weeks ago Tyrese was ever so kind, and gave his input in a message for independent women. Check it out here:

Tyrese’s Message to independent women

Thank you Tyrese, I’m sure we all really needed to hear that (yeah not really). However, you did inspire me to clear a few things up for men who may like yourself, not truly understand the wants and needs of an independent woman.

I previously wrote the blog Miss Independent: Gift or Cruse, which questions if men are intimated by an independent woman. A man may   feel inferior if  he thinks that a woman does not need him. He will question himself, by asking “what can I do for her?” However that should not be the issue. Let me clear up a few misconceptions, and maybe men who think similar to Tyrese will have a new perspective of what it means to be  miss independent.

For a woman to say she is  independent,  it no way also means “I don’t want a man”, or “I don’t need a man to do anything for me”, or “I would rather stay at home with my dog”.  Of course independent women want and need a man. To be an independent woman, is to be a woman who is not defined by a man. A man is in her life to make her better, she will only allow men to enter her life who will make her better. An independent woman wants a man who will respect her and truly understand her worth. She is independent because she is not going to date just any type of man. She will not allow a man to disrespect her, or treat her any kind of way because he thinks that she needs him.

When a man is with an independent woman, he knows that she does not need him so she can be his dependent, however, she wants him to be apart of her life. She wants to be able to depend on him, and makes that choice knowing that she can also be just fine without him.  She wants him to be a man, do the things that real men do. Protect her, love her, take care of her and the family,  because sometimes even independent women get tired of depending on only themselves.

When black men feel that the independent black woman is synonymous for “sistas with an attitude”, it sends the message out that black men aren’t listening, or recognizing the needs of black women. Sure we have our own job, pay our own bills, and can take care of ourselves without a man in our life, but yes we do want a man in our lives. We want that emotional connection to a man who is understanding of the hardships of the independent woman.  The attitude that you may see is not purposely there to scare you away, it is there to protect us from men who are not capable of handling the challenge of being with an independent woman.

So to Tyrese, or other man who feels they have a message for independent women, listen closely. An independent woman wants to be loved by a man, an independent woman wants a partner, an independent woman has needs and expectations for a relationship. If you as a man are not able to fulfill those needs, those expectations, and cannot step up and be a real man, then yes, you will feel that this woman wants to be alone.  In actuality she does not want to be alone, she is just more than you can handle. In that case you have to be man enough to admit that you just are not ready to be in a relationship with Miss Independent.

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

I want off this “Ship”, what I really want is a “Relationship”

Recently I was having a conversation with a male friend about his most recent relationship. According to him, he had just gotten out of a 3 year “ship”.  Yeah “ship”. I asked him to elaborate on what exactly was a “ship”. He proceed to explain that a “ship”, was kind of like a relationship, but not exactly a relationship. No commitments, no demands, no expectations, basically no relationship. A “ship”. My definition of a “ship”: A friendShip with benefits, but don’t expect too much more because you are not in an actual relationShip. Think of it as dating extended, or relationship limbo.

Photo courtesy of Astrid London

Before the whole concept of the relationship hits its death bed, I want to make an effort to try to save it while it is still on life support. I’m going to target this one towards women.  I will agree with Steve Harvey on this one point: women, we have the control as to what we want from the relationship with a man. We set the expectations of what this relationship will be, if you have no expectations, sadly you will get nothing in return.  With the acceptance of an undefined relationship, you will eventually set yourself up for disappointment, and anger. Women, if you want an actual relationship, lets start by not accepting the “ship”.

To be in an undefined “ship” for 3 years is a long time. Women will eventually want more. Reality check time: no one is ever really happy being the side chick, the baby mamma hanging on to her baby daddy who has a new girlfriend,  or a wifey but never a wife. Women we may stay in that “ship”, on the hopes that it may turn into a relationship. After 3 years, you can almost be certain that you will not get that relationship that you want. As women we are emotional creatures who look for connections. So if choose to stay in that “ship” now, don’t be surprised by the disappointment you may face later.

The good news: If you are in a ship, you can jump off at any time you are ready. The “ship” can also be avoided all together.

Photo courtesy of Astrid London

Ways to avoid getting stuck on the “ship”

  • When you meet a man who appears to be your next possible Mr. Right, state your expectations.  Make them clear. If a relationship is what you want, let him know that you are looking for a relationship. A real relationship, you don’t want to just “kick it”, and you don’t want a “ship”. If he doesn’t want a relationship be prepared to walk away, if you don’t walk, you may find yourself smooth sailing on his ship.
  • If  your possible Mr. Right says, “I want a relationship, but I need time to really get to know you”. Fine take that. Give him and yourself time to decide if you two are compatible for a committed relationship. Date him, you should even date other people if you want to weigh your options. However, make sure you have a timeline. Use your best instincts, and make your timeline is one that you are comfortable with.  If you say to yourself, and to him, I need to know if we are ready for commitment in three months, make sure you check back in three months to see if he is ready for a committed relationship. If you overlook the check back stage then you will be on that ship to the land of confusion, questioning what you two are doing. If he is not ready for that relationship that you want, then be ready to walk. There are other men who will give you the relationship that you want.
  • If you find yourself on the “ship”, but you are having a good time. (this is a hard one) In the moment it may not seem so bad, it may even be fun. Ask yourself are you looking for fun right now or, are you looking for a relationship  for the long run.  Think about the direction that you want this ship to go. Jump in the captain’s seat and take control. Again if you want a relationship, say so! This guy may be a good guy for you and may be boyfriend material, tell him you want a commitment. If nothing is said, nothing new will be done.

Men will only treat a women in a way that she allows herself to be treated.  If you accept crap, you will get crap. If you hold yourself to a higher standard, then you will get a higher standard. When a man wants to be with you, you will know it. So when you know what you want, don’t settle for less than that. If a real RELATIONSHIP is what you what, don’t start it off by hoping on that SHIP.

 

Positive energy, positive thoughts, positive experiences