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Be the Chooser

“Be the chooser”. I remember the first time I saw that phrase. It felt arrogant and controlling, perhaps because they were talking about how to find your soulmate.  As a woman, a Southern one at that, “to choose” was not a verb phrase. We were taught hourly that to be chosen by a man to be his wife…now that  was the ultimate brass ring, and everything we did was to that end.

People who are in between jobs or who have been unemployed for long periods of time can move from a place of feeling very secure about themselves into quiet desperation. Not only do they feel powerless, but when not chosen over and over again they begin scrambling for anything. You see, work is more than earning a paycheck. It is our identity and gives us a sense of purpose, making life feel worth living. What replaces those feelings when we are without work?

Going to job boards and sending out hundreds of resumes,  job searchers believe that companies like LinkedIn and Monster really care about them. Nothing could be further from the truth. You,  your resumes and all the “Send” buttons you hit are simply data that brings the company a very high yield from advertisers and marketing companies. Nothing they do comes from the moral high ground of helping you find work.

One thing virtually all of us do or have done when we are looking for work is to go on Craig’s List. There are SO many apparent positions listed and we feel like we have a pretty good chance at getting them because, after all, it is pretty easy to score a set of golf clubs or a kitten there, isn’t it?  So, we do our due diligence all day, scanning until our eyes hurt, rewriting the “cover letter du jour” and tweaking that resume until we find that we have dumbed ourselves down sufficiently. Wherever it was we started out that morning, by the middle of the day we are diminished somehow, having forgotten most everything about who we are and what we want to do.

My first piece of advice is “STOP IT  with Craig’s List!” and get back to who you are and what you want to do. That’s how you will restore your self-esteem and recall just who you are and what you have to give to the world. It is then that you will become the chooser.

Choosers believe in themselves. When they finally do get that job interview, they go knowing that though they really want that job, the prospective employer will be really fortunate to have them!

A Rose is A Rose, Or Is It??

It’s universal. Tonigh002t I went to soak my tired body and brain in the jacuzzi and sitting on the side of the pool was a couple speaking Farsi…not a word of English, but it didn’t matter. I recognized a lovers’ quarrel. It was more than the tone of voice. I could see it in their eyes. Hers, pleading and irritated, his, utterly confused.  I could see him harden as she got more animated. I am sure that, like myself in days gone by, she thought if she just spoke louder he would get it. What she couldn’t understand was his retreat. She would say “he doesn’t understand.”

There is so much that we don’t know about each other as men and women trying to live and love together. If only we could come to know what is and isn’t possible and understand why, we might have a fighting chance of lasting more than 50% of the time. The dating sites would suffer, but the truth is that we are really not the object of their affection anyway. They need us and our desperation to draw advertisers and resell the data we so willingly give them. When I heard Sam Yeager, the creator of the “Love Algorithm” speak this past year, he admitted that his site, OKCupid was free for a reason…data, not dating.  This is not to say, however, that online dating is a bad idea. More on that later.

I watched tonight as they argued and I so felt for them. Most of my life was spent in relationships with men who were not good choices for me. What did I know about love? An alcoholic family doesn’t teach us much about healthy relationships, so I got my clues from the next best thing…Saturday matinees featuring Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and those dashing, charming men who could talk their way into any woman’s life. It was like watching a sequel to my own life, but without the Hollywood ending.

I could remember how many times I pleaded for what I thought I needed and deserved in order to be happy. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was responsible for my own happiness and that a relationship was the cream on top. I also had no idea about men and how they thought, what they felt or how differently they show us that they love us. I only remembered the movies… those rooms filled with roses, so  many there was no room to walk. What woman could ever forget how long Cary Grant waited atop the Empire State Building, keeping his promise to be there for her?

And now I see it. When I witness others who may not know what they need in order to find a lasting partnership, I want to break in, tell them what I know and learned from many years of not getting it right. And now, I have a chance to do that. But tonight, not speaking Farsi, I have to believe that this young couple will figure it out.

It Comes on Cat’s Feet

I was laying on my sofa the other night, exhausted and wanting to curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb. Starting a new business for an adrenaline-sensitive like myself means that sometimes at the end of the day, I am in that puddle as I call it. Thank God I learned years ago that it is healthy to whine to another woman to help right myself.

I have a friend in San Francisco that is my best whining buddy and she has an amazing capacity to know just what I need. Sometimes, it is simply to be allowed to go on and on until I turn into butter from chasing my own tail. And sometimes, she simply reminds me of one thing that I have forgotten because we do that when we are in the forest. Those trees just elude us.

“I don’t know how I got here”, I told her. I meant it, but she proceeded, as only she can, to march me through the steps that she witnessed over a short amount of time, to help me see not what was on the inside, but the concrete hard work I had done to “get here”.  There was more to it than that, and that was the deeper question I asked myself.

Sometimes we want to change something about ourselves, something that gets in the way of our happiness. It might be our work, relationships with family members or friends, or something more subtle and undefinable, but that soul of ours pushes us, prods us, begs us, and at times takes her sweet hands off and just lets us flounder and flop like a fish out of water. Those are the hard times, the in-between times that can be agonizing.

For me, life’s greatest challenge has always been my love relationships with men. Because of what I do for work, I tend to look at my family history as the culprit, and perhaps it is. As we go through  the ups and downs of relationships however, it ceases to matter what caused the struggle. We simply want to heal it so we can have the love that matters so much in our lives.

The answers come on cat’s feet, in the most circuitous pattern with side roads and detours along the way. They ride on invisible horses, and sometimes the messages come through lyrics and music, poetry, on a walk, while watching a movie…who knows how we get those pieces of the puzzle? One day, something happens “to” us and we realize we have changed something and it is deep and lasting. There is no going back. And we say to ourselves or a friend, “How did I get here?”

But, let’s not forget to give ourselves credit for the journey. We have worked hard, read the books that gave us new insights, written page after page in our journals, gone to therapy, cried out eyes out, spent lonely Friday nights talking to our girlfriends, observed others and been curious and conscious. We have, as my friend reminded me, done a “ton of work” to get here. We are here because change happens when we are not hyper-vigilantly watching. Much like my Daddy used to say on Christmas Eve, “Donna, if you stay awake and wait for Santa Claus, he won’t come. He only comes when you are sleeping.”

Although we never know when the shifts happen, what we can know for certain is if we are curious, conscious and awake to life, it surely will come, perhaps on cats feet and while we sleep, but it will come.  And when it does, remember to thank those friends who listened, the bright minds who wrote those books, and whatever allows us to sleep so that Santa can come.

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