Relationship Resumes: Things I Now Know Thanks to Failed Relationships

Several months ago, I was hanging out with two friends I’ve known since high school – a close girl friend who moved to Chicago and a visiting male, who also happened to be a former flame and my first real love.

The topic turned to relationships and experience in the field and I mentioned the notion of relationship resumes – the list of knowledge, skills and practice we draw from when dealing with significant others or summon on dates, showcasing prior successes, saving the failures for later. Personally, I look for partners who have their resume filled in a bit, like my own, indicating they are not novices to relationships or love.

Turning to the guy, I said, “Like you; I would use you as a reference as an example of one of my successful relationships.”

My friend interjected, “Well I don’t know if I would say you guys had a successful relationship….”

“Why not?” I asked

“Because, success means marriage.”

 

The idea that a successful relationship means more than “to death do us part” struck me in June right before my break up, in July a few weeks after and again Sunday morning with a re-print of a Chicago Tribune article on relationship myths.

The article reads:

“So many people stay in relationships for too long because they feel if it ends, that is a sign of failure,” said Tim Ray, author of 101 Relationship Myths: How to Stop Them from Sabotaging Your Happiness. “One of the things I work with clients about is to be more psychologically mature and part of that is to realize that people change and things change. The belief that you need to stay together can lead to people staying in an unhappy relationship or marriage despite the fact that they have grown apart and the relationship is no longer working … A relationship can be a success even if it ends.”

While in some ways I wish my hunt for my right person was a lot easier than the twists and turns it’s taken so far, I’m proud of each little bullet point on my resume that has gotten me to where I stand today.

My high school self would perhaps feel a little uneasy that I never found the right match in high school or college, like originally expected. But me, right now, 24-year-old me, can’t imagine anything else. She knows it is not the norm to grow with the same individual through every stage of life; that her growth comes from time alone.

I’ve detailed relationship lessons learned in previous blog posts, but what really strikes me is that there certain things I only could have learned from going through a break up. Things I now know about myself that my friends who have been in the same relationship for most of their life may never know or have to learn.

For all of us who have had to start over, say good-bye or learn the hard way: I think our collection of experiences, from former flames and exes and loves, is sometimes less important than the strength we now have from the scars and scrapes it’s taken us to gain them.

Things Failed Relationships Have Taught Me About Myself: 

  • I know how long it takes me to fully heal from a heartbreak. And more importantly, I know I can heal – that some love can simply cease to exist.
  • I believe break-ups mean something; I don’t believe they can be open threats or taken lightly into on-and-off occurrences.
  • I understand I am not afraid of getting hurt; maybe I hate being wrong about love, but the fear of being wrong won’t keep me from falling in love just like the fear of being alone won’t keep me in a wrong relationship.
  • I know what real work looks like in a relationship – how to productively work to build the foundation of communication, to keep getting to know each other, keep doing nice things to each other. And I know what it looks like when someone isn’t actively participating in the partnership.
  • I can recognize when a relationship is headed downhill. And though I hate the anxiety at the pit of my stomach, I know now there is relief at the end.
  • I know that even if you don’t ultimately get back together, even if your partner doesn’t say it outright, there will always be a point where your ex misses you or remembers your or fears to let you go.
  • I know that there isn’t really a race to the finishing line, to the win. Any ex that will be with someone else just to spite you, isn’t ready to be with someone else. Finding your own match is more improtant than the rate it takes to locate them.

And you know, I think my 16-, 19-, 23-year-old self would be proud.

What do you think failed relationships can teach us?

On Fitness: Gym Anxiety

A little over two months ago, I stepped into my gym with a goal to clear my head, get my blood pumping and hit an emotional high before diving into a particularly traumatic conversation immediately following where I parted ways with my long distance boyfriend.

While most aspects of life have progressed as fun and normal since then, my love and affinity for my gym has waned as I’ve found every excuse to not keep up my routine with my personal training plan.

I’ve opted to keep seeing the gym regularly but I wonder if my romantic split is battling custody over my relationship with the gym.

For the past year, I’ve likened the gym to my private reflective place where I completed solo missions and awarded personal accomplishments.  But now I can’t help but feel my bond with the physical entity is somewhat tainted.  Looking absentmindedly at my phone has a way of reminding me of the anxious feeling from two months ago, where I kept counting down the minutes, trying to fit in my work out before the scheduled time I promised to place the phone call.

Even now, I am left with a terribly anxious feeling at the memory.

And I’m not quite sure what to do about this.

In early July, at the mercy of some free personal training sessions, I completed some of the most mentally and physically challenging circuits, thinking to myself “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” The personal high afterward affirmed my self-confidence at my ability to move forward.

But I may have spoken too soon.

Whether I’ve needed a new water bottle, new headphones, new gym shoes, new podcasts or music, I can’t seem to get my act together to complete a full scheduled week of workouts. Additionally, my appetite is all over the place, switching from ravenous to completely void.

I’m left contemplating how to change-up my routine; how to bring back that loving “spark.”

I have grand ideas of pursuing a more group-centered approach, accepting my humbled loss of strength, spending more time stretching and dancing. I know, most importantly, my priority is to keep up my fitness – I am proud of pushing myself and proud of the physical results that are more important than ever.

So how do I make fitness a priority when one of my more sacred places has been corrupted? Is there a good goal I could distract myself with? Honestly, I’d love your ideas.

On Fitness: Soundtrack for my Fake Fitness Class

Through the twists and turns of the blog, I’ve found various subjects and concepts I keep coming back to because they interest me  – be it relationships or self-worth or fitness.

And lately, fitness has returned to the forefront of my mind.

I’m glad to have been riding the work out bandwagon for most of 2012 and what has made the habit stick this time is – humorously – I’ve found the right level of entertainment to power me through.

For the $60 bucks a month I pay for my gym membership, it is slightly disappointing there aren’t those little TV’s strapped to the cardio machines. I can’t help myself – I need something to keep my brain interested.

So, first, I found an entertainment source in podcasts – aka Savage Love on repeat – to take me through my cardio or solo weight training sessions.

But, I still haven’t found a group fitness class’ music choices I felt jived completely with mine. You know, when a teacher or class picks a song you are just not that into? I’m pretty sure I ponder getting certified in group fitness just so I can make my own playlists to share.

Until that day, I’ll just play dress up.

Below are my current top five favorite “get pumped” jams and the best times to play them during your workout.

My  Top 5 Current Workout Jams

“Fade into Darkness” – Avicii

Great for warm-ups!

“Boyfriend Girlfriend Mashup” – Mashup Justin Bieber vs N’Sync

The most fun song I’ve recently come across. Use it for a dance segment or to start a work out on a perky note.

“Levels Remix”  – Avicii ft Skrillex

Ideal for powering you over the hump of a workout – when you are struggling, getting bored or losing energy.

“Memories to Blow” – Mashup of my favorite song by Kid Cudi and David Guetta and Drake lyrics

My favorite song on the list – perfect for the final sprint or intense peak or climax.

“Longest Road” – Morgan Page ft Lissie

I love this for a cool down. I’ve only known the Deadmau5 remix of this song until recently and I think I may prefer the original. I also saw him DJ during a Vegas pool party and he was fantastic

In other news – last weekend in Canada, I walked into a Forever 21 with the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard. I asked all the sales people and  manager where the mix was from. Apparently the Forever hires this dj to make an in-store playlist of mashups. I contacted the dj and he’s asking me $60 for a downloadable 3-hour mix. While this is obviously more than any GirlTalk mix, it’s probably comprable to going to a concert, only I’d get to keep the music. It sounds a bit expensive but it’s this dude’s livelihood so I’m not sure what to ask next. Do think I should try to haggle it down?

Music fiends, let me know: Any new jams to add to my playlists? 

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

With my 24th birthday come and gone, I was struggling how to address my thoughts on growing older and my never-ending search for stability.

So I thought I’d talk about the early birthday present I gave myself almost two months ago when I signed up for online personal training with Tara.

After feeling less than perfect in my skin the last 2 years, I really wanted to enter into my 24th year feeling like the old, early 20’s Mel: beautiful, optimistic, fun, confident. And smaller.

My 21st birthday.

I am sooo proud to say that from May 15 to June 21, I followed a personalized plan designed to challenge my body in ways I have never imagined. Tara designed a nutrition and 5 day-a-week workout plan and it PAID OFF!!

On my 24th birthday, I felt like I was back in my own skin. The fun, sassy and confident Mel celebrated with a pole dancing workout class with 11 girl friends, effortlessly lifting herself up and around the pole, oozing with strength, void of self-consciousness.

Vegas with the girls, the day after finishing Week 6 and the program.

You’ll hear it over and over: Being dedicated to a plan will yield results

But in my experience, it can be very difficult to find a plan that makes you want to stick with it the whole way. Whether results don’t come fast enough, the work becomes monotonous or not challenging enough or too challenging or there is no support or you get interested in another sport or goal – the right program is different for everyone!

Before signing up with Tara, I was pondering 4 different types of programs: an online bootcamp, an in-person bootcamp, various online personal trainers and a free online follow-as-you-go program. I’ve been known to weigh the pros and cons of options for days, so I’m really glad I didn’t dally and choose Tara. The way I feel and the way I look says it all. Finding the right program WORKS.

Since finishing my 6 week plan, I took a few weeks to workout with an awesome personal trainer at my gym who pushed me to my limits, made sure my form was correct and gave me confidence in my strength. Now I’m rearing to go for my next 6 week plan with Tara!

Having gone through this process, I can affirmatively state there is a fitness resource out there for everyone! Answering the following questions should help you evaulate your needs to guarantee a program or trainer is right for you.

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

  1. What are your goals?

    Goals can include fat loss, muscle growth, “losing weight and looking toned,” adopting a healthier lifestyle, competing in a race, or looking good for a wedding, vacation or event.

    Mine was to look good for my Vegas vacation and 24th birthday by losing fat and adding muscle. Knowing there were only a few weeks until I’d be in a swimsuit next to my beautiful friends was a constant reminder to stay on track.

  2. How much can you afford to spend?

    You’ll find a variety of costs when it comes to online personal trainers, in-person trainers, boot camps, online programs, etc. Depending on the resources available, pick what’s right for you. For an online trainer, plans vary around $7 – 10 dollars a week. A 4 to 6 week training plan is usually around $50. Bootcamps – depending on the included resources – can range from $25 to $150.

  3. How much support do you need?

    Online personal trainers will usually be accessible to you by email and sometimes by skype for any questions, checkins or adjustments. Online (and gym!) boot camps fuel persistance by having fellow members cheer each other on. Free “get fit” plans require self-motivation.

    As I mentioned, when I signed up I wanted something that would be tailored to my needs so I was looking for some support in case I had any questions or needed any adjustments. I think the group support is one reason I would love to try a boot camp one day. Tara was awesome about sending me updated nutrition plans when I had a very late or very early morning workout.

  4. What is the relationship you want with your trainer or group?

    This may be more important to some than others. I know some people like the think of their trainer as a service-provider or someone who fulfills a professional need, while others want someone tough and strict, and others look for their trainer to become a very, very close friend.

    What was very important to me is my trainer supports my goals. I wanted a trainer who would support my desire to lift weights, would allow me to get protein in non-animal forms sometimes and would let me have the occasional treat. I went with Tara because we seemed to agree on all points so I trusted her with devising a plan just for me.

  5. How do you like to work out? What works best?

    The personal trainer is a fitness professional who should be trusted to devise a plan that will kick your butt and knock you out of your comfort zones into some new territories. But every trainer will ask you a bit about your likes and dislikes so you will be content with the plan. It’s important to find a plan that will cater towards your loves, whether that means you get to take your favorite spin class twice a week or split your strength training by certain body parts.

    I knew my body responded best to lifting weights but my plan kicked me out of my comfort zone by taking me to new machines and exercises. I also knew that because I care about adding muscle as much as I care about losing fat, I would not do well on a program where stepping on a scale every day is encouraged. Something like Weight Watchers where calorie counting and weigh-ins are part of the program isn’t as right for me.

  6. How much time can you dedicate to this plan?

    It is important to know both how long you’d like to be on a plan – whether it’s one month, 6 weeks, three months or longer (very usual durations) – and how much you can dedicate each week to the plan – a certain amount of hours or days a week – an hour four times a week perhaps.

    Because I was looking for some intensive results in a 6 week time frame, I trained 5 days-a-week.

  7. What are the trainer or program’s credentials?

    Most importantly, how can you be sure to trust this individual with your fitness and health?  Look up reviews and blogs by previous participants who discuss their experience. Locate the trainer’s professional certifications and read their blog, website or brochure to see their viewpoints and background. Make sure you feel comfortable in their qualifications and are sure they’ll support your goals.

    I read reviews before trying Live Fit Trainer; I looked for blogs of participants in various boot camps; I did a trial fitness assessment with my gym trainer and I sent Tara an information request before signing up with her. I found the proof I needed…and now I’m just another example of a success story.

To all the personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts out there, is there anything else a client should consider? How do you create the perfect match of trainer/program and client?

Lifting My Extremes

Being the cool kid I am, Saturday night I found myself loading my backpack, ready to tackle my friend’s personal statement for medical school at the only suburban joint open passed ten pm: the gym.

After more than an hour of rearranging sentences and searching through thesaurus on the gym’s main level couches, my long time high-school friend Tats and I closed our laptops and laced up our sneakers for the shift from mental exertion to physical exercise.

As two of only five or so members in the large gym, and with any and every weight and machine at my fingertips, I quickly completed my planned bicep and tricep work out and wanderded back to Tats to interrupt his legs workout. What continued for the next hour or so was the most fun I’ve ever had at the gym!

It lined up to a perfect combination for a work out.  Although both of us were pretty new to being in the gym so late, a midnight work out seemed only natural. Tats is a fellow night-owl; we used to instant message each other about our AP Psych projects until three in the morning, long after our AIM Buddy Lists were near empty.  Because he’s someone I trust and someone I trust in the gym with his Kinesiology major and work out background, our game of “How strong are you?” was better than any stranger trainer at the gym could have given me.

He loaded up over fifty pounds onto my bench press and I nearly keeled over as I lifted two 35 pound weights on the Olympic dead lift – I mean, wow, the added distance of the weight threw off my exertion! Inverted, my legs pressed 100+ pounds as effortlessly as right-up. We practiced correct form of clean and presses with the Olympic sized bar and went through a whole slew of hammer-strength machines. I laughed hysterically when we both failed at the triceps machine because although each side loaded thirty pounds, we could both clearly push our right arm through while the left stayed quite stationary. At 5’2, I cleared a new height on the box jumps, still nervous to tackle the highest box. And he   shared my disdain for the chin up machine, especially after my accidental run-in with going too light on the weights and nearly falling off.

I felt like my 6-year-old self back at Discovery Zone crawling through tubes and climbing ropes. Bouncing from machine to machine for a few reps at a time was the ultimate adventure.

While I’ve frequented various gyms for years now and have steadily began a relationship with weight lifting, I never had the full benefit of having someone watch my form and correctly show me how to use some of the scary-to-me equipment.  Especially with my newest work out plan, I am pushing my muscles but I’m always left wondering if I am performing at my best.

Leaving Life Time at 1:30 a.m. I had a high that one wouldn’t normally assume could be found by staying “in” on a Saturday night. But improving my strength and my body has been a long trend in the two years since I graduated college.  I may not be the strongest kid around but I will never be a woman who cops out by saying she doesn’t have upper body strength.

And the results have felt more noticable than ever since attending my little brother’s college graduation earlier this May.

Because my own graduation day in 2010 was not something I’m proud of. Confused about my next steps and in terrible relationship with my body, I hid from all photos. It had been too many days having my “last” meals of campus restaurants, drinking 14 days in a row and piling on more fat and bloat from a weight gain I’d be struggling with most of senior year. I was generally uncomfortable in my skin, finding every flaw.

But at Josh’s graduation, I was full of pride for him and comfort in myself. The scale may read only a few pounds difference, but the noticeable shift in my body composition and in my pride is palpable. While I wish I had more progress and less plateaus while working hard over the last two years, the most important thing to me is that I hit a low and never looked back. I didn’t let it continue but I turned around my habits and my opinion of myself.

Lifting and jumping to new heights this Saturday night only seemed to confirm the I pride I feel in myself.

Even if everyone looking at me can’t tell how different I am, I know I’ve changed for the better.

Overcoming a Slump

I don’t think it’s unusual that every few months I fall into a small rut.

The problems feel as if they’re piling, stress tacks itself on to the struggles and sometimes it seems impossible to be your usual self.

When I hit that state about 3 weeks ago, I wracked my mind to figure out why now? What was the catalyst? Sure things weren’t easy. But they were seemingly small matters:

A library book I’d desperately wanted in the one section of the library that was under construction for a month. An extra day spent on the perfect cover letter, only for the job to close before I could submit. My boss put on temporary reassignment right after acquiring a ton of new projects. Veins growing in my eyes, prompting $200 in eye drops and rendering me unsure when I could wear contacts again. A sense of insecurity in my glasses. A feeling of loneliness prompted by the long work hours of my guy. Oh, and the spider found in my bed.

As I tried to trace the reasoning behind my pity party I realized that my mood didn’t start because my struggles existed; my upset mood was a result of my inability to solve the problems immediately.

Because I am not the strongest Type A planner who needs things to follow order. I am an adapter, I thrive in thinking up a Plan B, C, or D when crisis strikes. My strongest trait is my ability to expect change, embrace it, think on my feet and move on like nothing happened.

And I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember – from the day my parents announced they were divorcing ten years ago to when my house caught on fire at 3 in the morning junior year of high school when I also had 17 friends staying over from out of town and the expectation of hosting a New Years party two days away. Or let’s not forget the whole process of applying to study abroad junior year of college – from six weeks before departure when I was notified I didn’t have housing, right up to the week before depature when I got my wisdom teeth out and realized my passport and visa had gone AWOL with UPS. Always adapting. Always okay.

So, when things started unraveling this last time, I was unafraid to face any issues head on. But..that didn’t happen. Everything needed time and patience. And with my inability to steer the situation, I dragged further into feelings of defeat and doubt.

But then my little Blackberry – who has been with me for one-and-a-half years (a record) – stopped charging two weeks ago. The USB was broken. And while I had sentimental pangs for my phone, I recognized the situation. This was an opportunity for redemption. Phone issues, I can handle.

So, I made my mental list of options and visited my friend’s store where he fixes phones for a living, borrowed a temporary phone to charge my battery, finally found a provider location with a manager who was happy to send a replacement and just in case – got ready to blast a help message onto Facebook.

Somewhere inbetween taking control of my phone situation and reuniting with some friends in a public, social setting over that weekend (golf theme – perfect for my glasses), I got my groove back. And my confidence meant that suddenly all those tough still-left-to-be-solved situations didn’t seem that far off either.

I really wanted my point of this post to highlight the message of fixing your own problem to fix your mood. But I realize, the message is much deeper than exercising control. This was a great reminder of the importance of a positive attitude, no matter what you can and can’t control. For every funk, there is positivity to be found to kick away the doubt.

You get the idea.

My favorite lesson.

“Sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

I am guilty of this.

You make a new friend of the opposite gender or maybe strike up a simple conversation at a networking event or giggle with a table-mate at a wedding or reconnect via Facebook chat with an old high school friend. And they ask you for your number and if you’d like to go on a date. And you say, “Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

But lately, I’m finding this statement fully loaded and bothering.

Technically, have we been saying that all that stands between us and a potential hookup is our current commitment?

IS that all that stands between us and a potential hook up?

(Source)

I’ve recently upped my weekly dosage of Dan Savage as I’ve transitioned his podcasts into my workout routine background music. This has led me to pursue a bit more about his personal life, specifically, his take on monogamy; that monogamy is harder than we allude to and that our society values being with one partner over honesty, trust, communication and an established relationship.

So you know, I’m all about monogamy. I feel miffed if my guy tells me he ducked out of a night a little early because some girls were overly flirtatious. I want to be mentioned! Why didn’t he remind them about me?

But I think Savage has some valid points. It’s not too far fetched to assume that being in a relationship and being committed aren’t strongly correlated.

My friend expressed something very similar the other day when a guy wouldn’t stop texting her.  “Isn’t it clear I’m not interested?” she shared, “I told him I have a boyfriend!”

Maybe it’s not clear. Maybe that’s not enough.

Gossip, news outlets and even history share that celebrities and politicians falter into infidelity everyday. And I have witnessed plenty of people who wouldn’t care if the person they pursue has someone else at home.

So what’s the best way for me to paint a picture of an honest, trusting, communicative and also monogamous relationship? One I’d rather choose over anything else?

How you turn someone down?

  • Leave out the chance for future reconnections:  “Thank you but no, I’m not interested.” Is that rude?
  • Focus on the reason behind your relationship: “Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend who l am very in love with/ satisfied by/ consumes most of my time and thoughts.” Is all that necessary?
  • Make an active statement: “Oh sorry, I’m dating someone.” No possessives necessary?
  • Realize that 80% of the population will respond to the usual cultural norm:“Oh sorry, I have a boyfriend.” Fine?

Thoughts? 


Book Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

When I finally settled down with The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain on Friday evening, I was not expecting to finish the book within 24 hours and certainly didn’t expect to pull an all-nighter in the process.

But sure enough, the book captured my attention. And so I read. From 6 to 6:30 pm on Friday. And from 11 pm to 7 am. And finally, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m Saturday.

NOTE: This book review is designed for others who have read the book. For complete background information on the story, you can view Chamberlain’s website.

Needless to say, I dove right into the story. And although I found the plot and characters enthralling, I think my pace was slightly induced by my anticipation of flashbacks for the story. When CeeCee began and Eve later took over, I was not expecting such linear storytelling. Though, ultimately, I think it worked.

Chamberlain writes in her bio that her books “explore the complexities of human relationships – between mean and women, brothers and sisters, parents and children.”  As someone who shares a similar interest in the realm of relationships, this book satisfied my need for characters written with depth and development. I thought each character was not only properly explored, but also given a great range of emotions and growth.

I think the book is well suited for anyone looking for a griping plot mixed with pages of character development. It’s also worth a discussion on morals, crime, media attention, etc. But that’s a whole other shabang. For now, I’ll leave you with my positives and negatives of the novel.

The Positives:

  • I loved the way Chamberlain’s writing embodied the maturity of each character in their tone and voice. Even though the novel was written in third person, I could feel the growth of the characters as the story continued. So, for example, at the end of the book, when Eve is trying to explain CeeCee’s actions, I could barely remember why CeeCee acted how she did. Her world had melted away as Eve grew and matured.
  • Similarly, did anyone else find resemblance between Corinne’s opening chapter and CeeCee’s beginning chapters? The way they mused about their respective lovers were so similar –  both so caught up, blind and naive in love. You could tell Chamberlain wanted us to see the cracks in Corinne and Ken’s relationship right off the bat. (ex: When she talked about sex with him, you could feel he was in control of the relationship. And the telltale “you won’t need me anymore” line at the beginning was also a warning sign.)
  • Frankly, I wanted to hug my mom after finishing the book. Chamberlain’s mother-daughter relationship motif I really kept everything stringing together. I’m not sure if any of the relationships were very realistic, but they definitely took an emotional toll on the readers (or me!).
  • CeeCee’s mom’s letters. “nuff said. So beautiful. And the perfect tone setter.
  • I very rarely enjoy the endings of books – but this one left me very satisfied. I think Chamberlain gave us full closure (I would have hated it if Eve never visited Tim in jail) and I closed the book feeling like there was much positivity left for all the characters in the book. (And I love a happy ending!)

The Negatives:

  • The part that lagged most for me (although it also lagged at a few points where Cory was growing up) were the court room and law proceeding scenes. It would be irresponsible for Chamberlain to have told the story sans media or law drama, but those parts kind of stole the romanticism of the story for me. Thankfully, I don’t think they were too intrusive and didn’t last too long.
  • CeeCee’s fear and naivety left me uneasy a few times while I was reading. If I hadn’t read it all in one sitting, I think I would have been a tad anxious in between reads.
  • Cory also frustrated me a few times. I just didn’t find her actions like those of a 28-year-old woman. I still cheered her on through the end, even with her unlikeablity, because some of her reactions were very realistic.
  • I’m a bit curious about the historical correctness of Tim’s kidnapping attempt. Were politicians “unwilling to negotiate with terrorist” even in the 70’s?
  • I really don’t enjoy reading about character’s at their lowest points and the last fourth of the book really portrayed Cory and Eve at their worst. Nervous, unthinking / callous, crude. I understand it was necessary to the story and at least moved forward to a happy ending.

Honestly, I don’t have too many bad things to say about this book! I really enjoyed reading and finishing it!

It may not have been my favorite book, ever – that’s reserved for The Book Thief – but it will certainly stick with me as one to recommend.

I’m also long forward to hearing how others reacted to this book. If you read it, do you agree with my criticism or praises? If you are here from Julie’s March Book Club, is there an aspect you think I forget to mention in my review?

On loving Love and Relationships

I’m almost surprised how much has not changed in my life in the last year. Or, if we want to be real here, since graduating college.

I’m in the same job.

Same living situation.

Going out to the same places.

Hanging with the same friends.

Living in mainly the same haircut and wardrobe.

(Which is mostly without complaint, so we’re clear.)

But I know I’ve grown in the last two years. And it’s clear to me that my changes – even largely reflected within my blog content  – have come from one very strong dimension of my life: relationships.

By this, I mean more than just my realization that I should be treated well or that I can have a real, communicative romantic relationship [ala the infamous blog post on Discovering Grown-up Relationships, later followed up with an essay for Facets Magazine (page 25 – 27 of their February/ March issue).]

No – what I think brought my 20’s and post-college life into maturation was the new token of transparency I found across my peers. It was establishing new forms of trust and communication with those around me and seeing strangers post honest blog posts about their relationships. It was reading psychology articles about maintaining love in a marriage and the chemistry behind why we love. It was when my friends finally started sharing the stuff behind-closed-doors; stuff that I complained about, too, but thought made me crazy.

And transparency was just the catalyst. I’m no longer afraid to touch on any aspect that goes into love and relationships because they’re all important and real and I hate that we cover them up. Sex. Arguing. Compromise. Growth. Sex, again. Break ups. Marriage. Doubt.

I understand the need for privacy – especially across certain mediums – but finding a new level of comfort with discussing these matters has filled my life with a whole new passion. Sharing has brought me closer with people I never could have imagined and has brought on several realizations about myself.

I am finding a new hobby in my desire to learn about the reasoning, psychology and chemistry behind love.

I hope to not imply that I am extra nosey or invested in other’s private lives, but simply: I think I am finding a passion and potential career prospect in love and relationships much the same way as others dedicate their lives to learning and helping others with nutrition or fitness.

(Maybe that’s why I own 15 different relationship books just for fun, or spend hours reading a bloggers “how we met ” story and comments, or offer to listen to my friend complain about their boyfriend for the 14th time, or secretly look up a master’s or PhD programs in marriage and family counseling so I can do more research on the subject.)

Maybe I’m crazy…

But, just tell me your story.

How To Be In A Love Triangle

March marks a funny time of year for me – because this time last year, I was just getting myself into a very interesting, tricky, exciting relationship situation. A love triangle, if you will.

March to September 2011 was filled with thrilling moments as I struggled to carefully maneuver between a timeline of two men: LA Boy & a longtime, faraway friend and former fling.

In reality, the era was not about finding love or dates in two different guys. For me, it was a time of learning. A time just for myself and my own best interests. I think I will always associate those months with feelings of strength, security and desirablity in who I was.

And as you may remember, eventually my lessons added up and romantically it made sense who I was supposed to be with. (Just as with any famous love triangle, no?)

So for fun: a little Draft revisited from 6/15/11, with edits throughout July 2011. Partially fictionalized to protect all hearts.

Alls well that ends well?

How To Be In A Love Triangle

Disclaimer: Please do not try this at home.

  1. Fall for two different guys on opposite coasts of the country
  2. Find their personalities and histories different in almost every way imaginable
  3. Upon a suggestion from a very wise Ex, refuse to commit to either until the same commitment is promised to you
  4. Ride the roller-coaster as emotions and contact come and go in waves from each party
  5. Ensure neither visits at a time to conflict with the other
  6. Avoid any mention of this
  7. Over-read Astrology compatibilities
  8. Recognize that real friends won’t pick any “Team” – except your’s
  9. Laugh and then cry when both of them send you thoughtful birthday gifts
  10. Fear hurting either man
  11. Fear hurting yourself
  12. Wonder which guy you will reveal the situation to first..wonder what that will mean
  13. Ask yourself if this is the real definition of “dating”
  14. Shake your head when people demand why you don’t just meet a guy in your own state
  15. Panic when you realize the situation could potentially go on for a long time
  16. Ponder if you really imagine much of a future with either of them
  17. Decide to keep playing single with your friends for as long as you can
  18. Understand that no one really cares about your “white girl problems