Cupid Was Drunk

Cupid was drunk when he shot his arrow at me. He must’ve been. Like, stumbling drunk. I’ve not been lucky in love. Well, that’s not entirely true… I have had several long-term relationships that were sometimes wonderful, sometimes not-so-wonderful, and I have loved and learned from them all. But I’m single now, and have been for a couple years (and by a “couple,” I mean more like five.) I’ve been single for five years! I guess the fact that 5 years went by so quickly is a testament to how full my life feels without a man. Don’t get me wrong — since my last relationship ended , I’ve dated men here and there, but nothing that developed into anything serious. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be alone forever — and I need to do some work around that — but on the eve of Valentines Day, I’d actually like to focus on how awesome I think it is to be single on Valentines Day. Seriously. I have nothing against the holiday in general, but I personally have never had an interest in celebrating it myself, boyfriend or not. When Valentines Day rolls around and I do have a boyfriend? I’ve always told them the same thing: Do not buy me flowers. Don’t. I love flowers. But I don’t want to get them because it’s a valentines day requirement. I want them “just because.” And you know what? Particularly with my last boyfriend — the man who, so far, has been the Love of My Life — I got a lot of flowers. Just because. Just because he knows I love them and he loves me and wanted to express that. Isn’t that better than pressuring him on one day to do what he’s “supposed to” because some random holiday dictates it? And isn’t it terrible that this one random holiday makes a lot of single people suddenly feel like there’s something wrong with them because they’re single? (Like we don’t already get that message enough.)  Yeah.  This year, on Valentines Day, I propose that single folks celebrate being single.  Even if you don’t want to be single.  Try to focus on the positive.  Live your life as if you’re going to meet your soul mate tomorrow.  Use the time to discover new passions, or rekindle old ones (for me it’s running and video editing).  Take advantage of the freedom of being without a partner.  Be happy for those who are in love and celebrating that love on Valentines Day — but remember that a lot of those couples are more lonely than you are.  Because the relationship is not what they want it to be.  But they’d rather be in any relationship than be alone.  Take comfort in knowing you are open and free to meet a new partner.  The right partner.  Look forward to feeling the spark of a new romance.  The excitement of 1st, 2nd and 3rd dates.  Try not to feel crappy that you’re alone on a holiday celebrating love.  Try to feel proud, instead.  You’re doing it on your own.  Living life.  That’s not always easy and it takes a lot of courage and strength.  Be proud of that.   To quote one of my favorite movie characters (Janet Livermore) played by a terrific actress (Bridget Fonda) in a classic movie about being single (“Singles”):  “Being alone–there’s a certain dignity to it.”

Dignity, Indeed. Happy Valentines Day everybody!

A Nice Reminder

 

Funktified

I haven’t posted for awhile because I have been in a FUNK.  I guess I always felt like I should only post when I can share something optimistic or inspiring.  Like, who wants to read about someone else’s bad day?  But in the interest of keeping it real — and giving some hope to someone else who has entered the Funkzone — I’ll put it out there.

It started 3 days after Christmas.  I got sick.  Really sick.  Getting sick at Christmas isn’t unusual for me.  Holiday photographs from the first 5 years of my life show my siblings opening presents with wild enthusiasm, while I’m seen in the background, on the couch, propped up with pillows, sick as a dog.  So it’s not unexpected for me to get sick at Christmas.  But this particular flu threw me for a loop.  I was in bed with a fever for 2 days and have been battling residual symptoms for 3+ weeks since then.

It felt like my whole life got derailed.  I couldn’t eat very much.  Forget working out.  Definitely no running.  And no running — or no physical exercise of any sort — for me, is a recipe for disaster. Eventually my mind started following how my body felt and I was officially in Funk.  Straight-up, stir-fried, FUNK.  The downward spiral where everything feels wrong and nothing feels right.  I normally pride myself on trying to see the positive in my life every day.  And I have a lot to be thankful for.  A LOT.  But I couldn’t go there.  I didn’t want to be with anyone, didn’t want to engage in life, didn’t want to show up.  I watched a lot of TV, read a bunch of books, and basically just shut down mentally and physically.

About a week ago, I started to come out the other side and feel better again.  I managed to run a few miles this week, which was exactly what I needed.  I got out and had dinner with friends, got focused and motivated at work, started cooking some healthy meals, and slept for a glorious 11 hours last night.

At my age, I’ve been through enough Funks to know that “the only way out is through.”  You just sort of have to feel what you’re feeling and eventually let it go.  And better days are ahead.

Earlier this week, I was walking home from a wonderful lunch with a dear friend and I saw this painted on the side of post.  It was exactly what I needed to read.  Because, you see, no matter how alone we might feel — no matter how unique our experience may seem — chances are, there is someone else out there who has gone or is going through the same thing.  You are not alone.

Have you ever been in a funk?  What do you do to get through it?

Holding my Life in an Open Hand

I’m in my 40’s and I have a lot of friends that span both the younger and older end of the age spectrum.  The other night I was having dinner with some of the younger folk – average age was probably around 30.  At one point during dinner, a 28-year old friend turns to me and declares “I’m going to be married and have 4 kids by the time I’m 35.”  And knowing her, she will.  But here’s the thing… what if she doesn’t?  What if she doesn’t meet the right guy?  What if she does and they get divorced?  What if she’s 34 and she’s only had one child?  What if she’s 34 and a single mom?  What if she’s 34 and (gasp!) SINGLE?  Of course I didn’t say any of this to her.  I definitely had similar goals and rigid timelines when I was her age.  But it reminded me of someone I met long ago who made a declaration that has stuck with me ever since.

He said:   “Don’t focus on outcomes.”  I was young.  In my early 20’s.  And was at a ceremony celebrating the retirement of my father.  It was a lovely day — lots of people were saying wonderful things about my father, whom I adore.  But of all the accolades and advice, the one thing that stuck with me was:  Don’t.  Focus.  On.  Outcomes.  Why did that resonate with me so deeply?  Because I am a perpetual focuser on outcomes.  I want things to go the way I think they “should” go.  I want to know what’s going to happen before it happens so I won’t be caught off guard.  I try not to leave anything to chance.  I want to be prepared.  I want to know exactly what’s going to happen and how I’ll feel about it.   And if I think I won’t feel good about it?  I’ll try to change it or avoid it all together.   In other words, I’m extremely focused on outcomes.

I think it all boils down to a struggle with control.  I want it.  I want it always.  It has a tendency to rear its ugly head a lot with my running.  I just started running again after a long injury and I’m still not completely healed.  But I’m running again.  And I’ve only recently turned the corner with being able to bring back in some speed work.  The first time I ran a sub-8 minute mile again?  I was over the moon.  Not two weeks later, I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet run a sub-7:30.

And this isn’t just with events that are outside of my control – it also happens with people.  I was in a 7 year relationship with a great guy and I spent the final 3 years of the relationship trying to make it something it wasn’t.  Tried to make him something he wasn’t.  We had grown apart and rather than accept that, I tried to force it to be what I thought it should be.  Tried to force the outcome.  Well, the outcome was that we broke up.  Fortunately we are still very good friends, but it was a big lesson for me.

And the truth is there are so many things in life that are completely out of our control.  And to try and swim against that is only going to make it worse.

I read a great article in Running Times magazine about 35-year old runner Dot McMahan and her struggles (and triumphs) with getting back to running after having a baby.  One section of the piece reads: “The start of her family has taught McMahan to hold her running career in an open hand.”  An open hand.  I like that.  My hand?  It’s slowly – SLOWLY – starting to loosen its grip on my desired outcomes.  I think my injuries helped me to appreciate running for far more than accomplishments with speed.  And disappointments in my career or matters of the heart have taught me that life doesn’t always happen the way it’s “supposed” to happen.

And you know what?  Sometimes the unknown can be very exciting if you can learn to just chill the fuck out and let it unfold.

Always a Bridesmaid

(Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the post).

I watched the movie Bridesmaids last night.  I loved it.  It was a unique angle on complex friendships and what can happen when two people’s lives start to go in different directions.  But most of all, it was funny as hell.  A woman took a dump in the street wearing a wedding dress; that’s funny stuff.  But here’s where they lost me:  as soon as the Cop came into the picture.  Because I knew.  Right then.  That the cop was going to be Kristin Wiig’s love interest.  And I didn’t want Kristin Wiig to have a love interest.  For once — just one time — I wish these screen writers in Hollywood would let go of the fantasy that we’ll all be “Happily Ever After” as soon as we meet a man.  As soon as we get married.  Because you know what?  I liked Kristin Wiig’s character.  Just her.  By herself.  Struggling through a hiccup in her career.  Watching her best friend move on with new friends and a new fiancé, while her own life felt like it was spiraling in the opposite direction.  And you know why I liked it?  Because I’ve lived it.  I’ve lived it and continue to live it to some extent.  And the second they bring in that man – in this case the Cop – they lose me.  They lost me.  And I loved that Cop!  I loved the actor.  I loved his character.  I wanted him to pull me over for a broken tail light!  But see, that’s the problem.  As soon as she met him, she was unrelateable to me.  As soon as she met him, I felt that familiar shift.  Like right when I was steeped in camaraderie with this character –  right when I was starting to feel okay about my own similar struggles with being alone – she meets a guy.  And that guy helps her to tap into her passion for baking again.  That guy makes her see what a douchebag John Hamm’s character is (played brilliantly by Mr. Hamm, by the way).  That guy is there for her at the end of the movie for that great Hollywood ending.  We’ve seen it before in books and films:  Eat, Pray, Love;  Bridget Jones’ Diary, hell, even Sex and The City ended with Carrie Getting the Guy.  Remember the movie Singles?  One of my favorite lines in that movie was when Bridget Fonda’s character breaks up with Matt Dillon’s character and proclaims “Being alone: there’s a certain dignity to it. ”  Until, that is, she gets back together with him at the end of the movie.  Just once, I’d like to read a book or see a movie with a strong, flawed, single woman navigating her way through life alone.  With no man to “save” her.  Because we are out there.  Lots of us.  And we are constantly bombarded with messages that being alone is Not Okay.  That being alone should be considered a temporary Rest Area on the highway to marriage.  And it’s reinforced with these so-called books about amazing women doing it alone.  Because the story always ends with them not being alone.  So I’m here to talk about my life.  And how I’ve managed — through lots of soul-searching, book-reading, and even some therapy — to learn to be happy alone.  (most of the time). To know that I don’t know when or if I will meet a partner in life, so I better hurry up and get living.  And be okay with that.  To make my own happy ending.  To not wait for a man to make me feel like I’ve finally “arrived.”  To arrive in my own life — take responsibility for my own life.  And be Happily Ever.   Alone?  That remains to be seen.  But for now, I’m Happily Ever Alone.  And I simply don’t believe that I’m alone in this.  Am I wrong?  Do you agree?  Can you relate?  I’d love to hear your thoughts…