my eyes are on the prize

The theme for the past week or so is keeping my eyes on the prize. It’s popped up in dialogue with friends, in horoscopes, on the radio…

So what is the prize?

Well…it’s not any of the men I’ve written about here, regardless of how much I’m intrigued by or adore them. It’s not my current day job.

The prize is enjoying life now.

The prize is spending quality time with my children.

The prize is good health.

The prize is a healthy, loving relationship.

The prize is fulfilling work that shares something positive with the world.

that’s more like it…or not

I wrote a several days ago about more-like-it, who I met at a coffee shop a few weeks ago. I’d met him online, then in person, we’d talked on the phone, and I was enjoying getting to know him and his flirtatious personality.

When we first communicated, the conversation and flirtation flowed naturally. He was articulate and we seemed to be of a similar mind. He said all the right things. When we first met, I learned he had studied Japanese in university. I had lived in Japan. I was looking for someone who had bandwidth, presence and was concerned with health. He talked about balance, engaged parenting and cooking with organic ingredients.

I confess that physical beauty matters to me (I am a Libra, after all), and I’d give more-like-it a solid eight on a scale from one to ten. In the world of our online dating site, however, he’s a 26 (yes, out of ten) — far and away the best match for my physical type that I’d met (not only because of general attractiveness, but also because he could easily be assumed to have sired my offspring).

Finally, previous to meeting more-like-it, my most recent emotional attachment had been to Chi-guy. I wondered where all the guys like him — articulate, attractive, creative, intelligent and so much more — were in this city. Sure enough, more-like-it shares both age and astrological sign with Chi-guy. (Both are Virgo goats; neither an auspicious match for me.)

At the risk of being redundant, so much of what I’d put out there on my list, what I want — both written and unwritten — and more was reflected back at me. Though I doubt I’m explaining it very well, what I experienced was like some bizarre universe communion, a cosmic call and answer. I felt validated. And kinda powerful.

More-like-it was emotionally expressive and warm, yet I sensed there was something holding him back. His pain was palpable — too fresh for his divorce timeline. Following our last lunch, during which I asked him what he wanted (he said he wasn’t sure he knew), he spent some time reflecting and realized he wasn’t ready to date. So he dropped out.

I can’t deny feeling a little disappointed. I could feel a definite intellectual connection and was beginning to sense a physical connection, but we hadn’t built that emotional bridge yet. This was a pretty rockin’ guy, with a lot of positives going for him. The thought that I might get to know him better had given me something to look forward to.

More-like-it had solid, compelling reasons for taking a couple of steps back and away from dating. And I took a pause myself — I cancelled a date or two and left some messages unanswered for a few days to re-evaluate my own readiness. (Suddenly my profile seems to be on fire!)

He told me that I deserve to meet someone amazing and spend time with people who are “all in.” Yet some of his reasons for backing off are the very reasons I’m staying in. I’m looking at things differently these days:

  • I’m meeting people because I enjoy meeting people (even when I don’t really feel like meeting people).
  • I’m flirting to practice flirting.
  • I’m dating to develop confidence in relating to men romantically again.
  • I’m taking what I can from each interaction, trying to give and receive something positive each time, continuing to develop a clearer picture of what makes me feel good and what a life-affirming relationship looks like for me.
  • I’m not “all in” myself. And I may not be until I fall in love. “All in” suggests commitment to me, and the only commitments I have right now are to myself, my children and to putting myself out there.
  • Even if I’m only 85% ready to date, dating casually is what’s going to get me ready. Learning to take the small disappointments in stride is the fuel I’ll use to both toughen up and open my heart.
  • Who can say they’re ready for a serious relationship? You’re only ready if you find someone who inspires you to open your heart, take risks and be fearless. And that happens over time.
  • Although I ultimately want marriage, I don’t expect the guys I date to know what they want right away — and I especially don’t  anticipate they’re going to know whether they feel something special for me for a long time. They may use dating to develop clarity, too.
  • I feel vulnerable putting myself back out there, but facing my fear and challenging my beliefs is exactly what I need to move forward right now.

Yes, the human heart is fragile and it’s unfair to mislead anyone. But if we’re authentic — even if that means admitting uncertainty — it’s not misleading to discover, learn and grow in relation to others. In fact, most of us are doing these very things every day. And I have learned something from every single date I’ve been on.

So, while I’m a little bummed that I won’t be spending time getting to know more-like-it better, I’m going to add some of his amazing qualities to my list. I’m going to use having met him as evidence that great guys are out there, in this very city! And I’m going to ask the Universe to give me more of that cosmic “call and answer” dance — it will make putting myself out there all the easier.

my online dating scare

I’ve written a couple of earlier posts about online dating (here and here).

I was ambivalent about venturing online. I still had some feelings of attachment for Chi-guy, I wasn’t sure what I wanted yet, and one of the reasons I was determined to online date was to have something to write about here, on failedatforty. Based on some of the stories I’d heard from girlfriends, online dating was sure to be a content-rich endeavor. (Take, for instance, that guy who messaged me last night asking if he could be my bitch… Dang, I wish that interested me!)

Meanwhile, I’ve worked very hard to develop some clarity around my vision of life, family, the sort of work I’d like to create, and the sort of mate I’d like to attract. I’ve worked on my list to become more and more specific. And I’ve employed the Law of Attraction and meditated to open myself to energetically attracting a man with these qualities and much more. (I mean, I plan to employ my other assets and look my best, but I want the next one to be drawn to my spirit and my soul.)

Just when I was beginning to think that I was in the wrong place (i.e. free site) to meet men — in fact, a group of girls who know what I’m looking for had just told me that I was “sooo eHarmony” (really? me? isn’t that kind of a Bible-thumper site?) — I spotted a few interesting profiles. One, in particular, popped out at me because of the fellow’s sheer genuineness — and yet, there were aspects that made me question whether he was the typical [insert name of upscale-community-from-where-you’ve-met-entirely-too-many-arrogant-players here] douche.

I might have winked, we exchanged a few messages, and I took a chance and suggested that I’d be willing to meet for coffee.

Tangent:  Long ago, I had a roommate who would notice an attractive man in public and exclaim, “Way to go, God!” I mention this because…

We met for coffee, and I assumed we’d have an hour or so to feel each other out, determine whether we wanted to see each other again, etc. We ended up talking for more than an hour, found much to chat about, discovered agreement in philosophy in many facets of life and seemed to enjoy each other. I found him pleasing to my eyes, yet felt no chemistry whatever (which is okay, right? …it’s even better if it builds slowly over time). He walked me to my car, gave me a warm and lengthy hug, and bid me a good day.

I got in my car and did a “Way to go, Universe! … that’s more like it!” He was the first guy I’d met (on the site) that fell within the range of my type, a combination of characteristics so unusual I wasn’t sure it existed (in one person) in this city. I could visualize going out with him again without having to convince myself to keep an open mind.

From there, I went home, worked out and rejoiced in knowing that all the effort I’d been putting in to creating was working. And now I had evidence that there are men within the range of what I’m seeking who live here. Directionally, I was getting closer to attracting what I want.

And that scared the shit out of me! Sure, I would love to meet someone really amazingly special this year (as I mentioned while discussing my vision board), but we’re only four months in to 2011 and I wasn’t sure I was ready for special — or even intriguing — yet! So whether he would become someone special or not, I needed to prepare for special… I spent the next week hitting Debbie Ford’s Spiritual Divorce harder than I had before, actually doing the exercises and working to heal, forgive and release any karmic connections that might still be holding me back.

It dawned on me that, while I had listed in detail the kind of mate I want to attract, I had failed to create a list of the qualities that I planned to bring to a partnership. So I began a list of the characteristics I want to embody to be an ideal partner to my ideal mate.

I also went back online and got real about my profile:  I made it clear that my ultimate desire is marriage — a true partner and co-conspirator; I changed my ambivalent answers to some questions, such as “How long do you want your next relationship to last?” to “the rest of my life;” and more. In some ways, I feel I’m asking a lot — after all, it’s not just me, there are three of us. And the special man I will ultimately draw into my life will be a loving and engaged father to my children, as well as husband to me.

So what next? Well, I met the more-like-it guy again, enjoyed his company and looking in to his brown eyes, and I was definitely feeling a little chemistry, too. I hope to see him again. I’m not sure he knows what he’s looking for…so it’s too early to tell whether it might go anywhere. I’m also communicating with and meeting other men, learning from my interactions, getting clearer about my desires, and creating space for the possibility that the “or better” may manifest in my life…which, in this time of personal expansion, is ever-changing and allowing more.

Will this guy — or anyone I meet online — be the one? I’m going to take things day by day and focus on opening my own heart, allowing myself to feel vulnerable and soft, and living authentically, rather than try to predict the future.

See my next post on more-like-it

the midlife crisis explained

I took a workshop by Dr. Joe Dispenza one day recently. He talks and writes about how we can use brain science to transform our lives. He is also a chiropractor and practices yoga. What I love about him is that he takes a concept so many people think of as New Age or woo-woo, explains the very real brain science behind it and makes it practical.

So, imagine my surprise as I’m eagerly waiting to do a guided meditation exercise, when he brings up the midlife crisis. Apparently, there are real reasons for this phenomenon!

He highlighted the outer manifestations — people getting divorced, quitting their jobs, deciding to circumnavigate the world in a sail boat. Most often, it seems, we are able to see what others are shedding, releasing or giving up. We rarely understand the reasons for this or what new beliefs they are bringing into their lives. Most often, we look at these people and ask, “have they lost their minds?!”

The answer, according to Dr. Joe is YES! And that can be a good thing:

You see, by age 35 or 40, our brain is 95% completely formed. Connections are in place, we’re often married, working and parenting by this time. We are socializing with people in groups that may have been formed based on our children’s school associations or through work or merely by where we live. And suddenly we realize that the outward vision of what others see of us and how we feel about ourselves are completely different. We may not even like the people we’re working so hard to impress!

Often, there is some feeling of fear or anxiety or lack of self-worth that we’ve failed to process or deal with along the way and, often, we’re not even conscious of this. But for those of us who have or are going through it, we know something is wrong and we act out in one of two ways:

  1. We drop out. We begin to make changes by releasing what is no longer serving us, whether it be relationships, jobs, careers, our home (the illusion of stability). We are willing to give up everything to find something more authentic and meaningful and true to us.
  2. We try to fill the gap between how we feel and how we’re perceived. This is where the sports cars, trophy mistresses and jewelry and such come in — sometimes creating tremendous debt. Or we may try to fill this gap with alcohol or other substances which, because they don’t effectively work on any authentic level, require more and more over time, becoming addiction.

I’m not sure I’m explaining this very well, and I highly recommend you buy the new Dr. Joe Dispenza book when it comes out or, better yet, attend a workshop. He gave me so much to think about!

And, of course, at the next break I rushed to the front of the room to proudly proclaim that “I am this cliché you were talking about! I just got divorced, turned forty and quit my job, and I’m so excited about the opportunities out there for me, because I know I can create something better!”

Dr. Joe gently held my arm, began nodding his head up and down, and said, “When you’re saying that, make sure your matching it in your body. You’ve been shaking your head from side to side as you said that.”

Busted! My body was saying “no” while my mind was screaming “YES!” Now to get my body to catch up with my brain…

visualizing change

My 2011 Vision Board

I have some pretty major transformations planned for the coming year, as I mentioned earlier. So I thought creating a vision board would be a smart way to begin my New Year, a visual reminder of all the goals and dreams and desires I’ve been jotting down for myself. So many of us, myself included, often respond more deeply to a combination of words and imagery. Also, for an impatient soul like myself, for whom changes cannot come quickly enough, I’m hoping it will help me manifest more quickly and effortlessly. I plan to hang this board in my room as a daily reminder of the new energy I’m welcoming.

I’ve included imagery to reflect changes I’d like to make in my career and income, relationships, health (more vegetables and more yoga!), home, experiences, friendships and romantic relationships. I’ve included words to describe the best of my qualities, those I’d like to emphasize — such as savvy, resilient, optimistic, authentic, soft, irreverent, confident and captivating. Yeah, I like that last one, too!

Creating this vision board was a time-consuming process and a labor of love. I spent literally hours cutting words and images from old magazines and catalogs, focusing on those that evoke feelings I want more than actual things. I would like to remodel my bathroom, but rather than spell it out, I simply included a photo of a sleek, modern bathroom. I used words like “warm” and “comfort” for my home. I allowed myself to include photos of two very specific wants:  and iPad and new car, in part because I feel certain and confident in wanting these. For some of my less tangible desires — socialization and community — it resonates more to use aspirational words, combined with my heartfelt intent, to ask for the universe’s help in welcoming what’s right into my life.

For relationships, I cut out a wide swath of material — even including diamonds and diamond rings, and the words “engagement” and “commitment.” When it came time to paste these to my poster, I realized that words like “romance,” “unforgettable moments” and “touch” resonated the most with what I feel comfortable welcoming into my life for the coming year, along with the words “trust, thoughtful, kindness and good humor” to describe the qualities in a man I’d love to invite into my life. I left off the diamonds for now.

Right in the middle of my collage, I placed two key themes:  “choose wisely” to keep myself focused and “receive more than you imagined possible” to remind myself to be open to the divine plan.

When I awoke that first morning and went to visually absorb my work, I had to take several deep breaths to process through some fear. Why? Well… I want a lot! Having suppressed so many of my desires for so long while in my dysfunctional marriage, it feels a little scary to let myself want again. I’ll have to erase a few scripts — e.g. “to want things is materialistic” — that came with the relationship and release my fears as I go.

I have enough left over verbiage clipped from magazines to craft several crude ransom notes — some of it stronger, bolder language than I felt comfortable using just now.  I think I’ll keep these for next year’s vision board. I might feel better about opening myself to even more abundance and possibility next year — maybe even those words and images that welcome and invite a partner into my life.

Festivus for the ex of us

Happy Festivus, everyone! Today is the day Seinfeld followers honor with traditions including the Festivus pole, Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances.

What a great opportunity to send a back-handed holiday greeting to my ex, right?!

It would be easy to be bitter and place blame when you come out of a relationship like mine. In fact, I’ve spent much too much energy on these very behaviors. And I know damned well how unproductive that is!

Most of the time, I try to be conscious about the energy I’m putting out in the world, my language and my general outlook on life. I believe what we put out affects what we get back. (There are some excellent books on this topic by Michael Losier and John Assaraf, among others.) So I try to stay positive, express my gratitude and always view my cup as overflowing.

This can be difficult when, throughout most of my relationship, I was the primary or only breadwinner. I earn a healthy living. Nothing spectacular, but I’m able pay the mortgage, buy groceries and take my family on an occasional vacation. The designer clothes and handbags of my days as a single are no more, and my car has celebrated its 15th birthday. Still, I recognize that I am blessed. This is kind of a big thing for me…

You see, there have been times in my life when my outlook was not so bright, when I was incapable of feeling genuine happiness for a friend who met a great new guy, got engaged, had a baby or got a fabulous new job. I was jealous of those I perceived as having more or better. These were things that I wanted! Why weren’t they happening to me? Probably because I was focusing on the lack.

Going through a divorce, turning forty…I’ve felt a lot of lack these past many months, along with a powerful urge to place blame. It was easy to believe that I drove an old car and lived in a house with some urgent repairs needed and skimped on my wardrobe because my ex wasn’t contributing enough financially. I thought that if he loved me enough, he would work harder to help provide the things that were important to me and our family. But neither this belief nor my resentment has produced positive results.

For my birthday, a friend took me to a Michael Franti & Spearhead concert. If you’ve never been to one of these shows, I recommend it:  it’s as much a spiritual experience as it is an opportunity to see a pretty cool live show. The band and the fans are happy, smiling and joyful. Everyone is dancing and waving their arms. I imagine it’s something like a revival.

There I was at the show, jumping up and down, smiling so hard that my face hurt, as Michael sung these lyrics:  “Wise men count their blessings; fools count their problems…” I had an ah-ha moment, quickly recognizing that I was being a fool, counting my problems.

So now I’m focused on counting my blessings; I’m monitoring my thoughts, my words and the people with whom I choose to surround myself; I’m working to be conscious and deliberate about the energy I allow in my life. I’m noticing when good things happen, even small things, and I’m writing them down in a gratitude journal.

And I’m not indulging the ugly little urge to be petty. Today it felt good to send my ex a Festivus greeting with a positive wish for the future. I left out the long list of grievances altogether.

And, in case you were wondering, the very next line in that Michael Franti song is “…but you’re both of them to me.” How apropos!