A Strong Woman

blog pix Dec 3

The disassembled brass and steel floor lamp came with an instructional sheet and diagram. Pretty simple, as these things go – not like assembling a cabinet.

*Attach middle tube to shade assembly. Turn clockwise.

*Attach bottom tube to middle tube. Turn counterclockwise.

*Attach bottom tube to base. Turn clockwise.

*Remove sticky backer from felt pad and attach to underside of base.

The issue? The damn thing is heavy, especially the base.

You’re wondering if this blog has morphed into one called Fix it, Build it, Paint It. No. Calm your mind with a bite of Israeli cauliflower steak with labneh and read on for clarity.

The large box sat in the living room for a few days, the lamp contents visible but in pieces. I was on a home improvement jag. I had just finished serving as project manager for several renovation tasks in my townhouse beginning with the installation of new flooring on the first floor. Natural maple everywhere except the kitchen, which is now a stunner with stone-look Italian porcelain in a frame pattern.

Then I had all the walls painted. The new floors and paint encouraged me to throw out three pieces of furniture. I decided to replace them with new items that looked and functioned better.

I’m on a budget so everything had to be “build it yourself.”  My son had tackled the entryway bench and two bookshelves and assembling a cabinet was next on his list.

I thought that the least I could do was to put together the floor lamp. Perhaps the project would take my mind off my dating dry spell.

The reality of putting that lamp together brought home the issue of strength and independence. After a lifetime of start and stop exercise regimens from yoga to running to Jane Fonda tapes, I finally found my magic combination of strength building and cardio.  I’ve been working out consistently with a personal trainer and a swim coach two times a week and doing the solo work on most other days.

The result: despite two herniated discs and a “vulnerable” knee, I have become pretty strong for a 60 something woman.

Strength: It’s something everyone needs to accomplish practical living tasks and to prevent injury when carrying out those tasks. Being strong is even more important when you’re divorced and no longer can rely on a husband for the heavy lifting tasks. During my post-divorce journey, I find that independence is fueled by mental and physical strength – and vice versa.

So, when I faced down the lamp instructions, I called to my newish muscles as well as my proud independent self to step up to the job.

The assembly was a little tricky and awkward due to having to balance the 30-pound solid steel base but I refused to give up (praying that I hadn’t stripped the tubes when screwing them into each other).  Voila! Mission accomplished. The light even works.

I felt great: the Wonder Woman of light assembly!

I could add this to my slowly growing list of independent, strength-fueled accomplishments: lifting and moving the wood dining room table with my son, who looked duly surprised when I was able to carry my half of the load; effortlessly carrying for 20 minutes what once felt like an extremely heavy portable “backpack” chair; easily transporting 3 heavy bags of groceries at once.

I highly recommend strength and other physical training for all humans but especially for previously married singletons. Be strong. As Pink said, “I like feeling strong. It keeps my mental floor higher.”

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Singlehood

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There’s a lot of media attention focused on the perspectives and issues surrounding singledom. Discussion about the single life seems to be everywhere: Blogs (yes, including this one), podcasts, news articles, social media, movies, TV shows, and published essays. Google “being single” and you’ll see what I mean.

In a recent essay in the NY Times Modern Love column, Helen Rubinstein writes about her struggles to embrace singlehood. The essay sparked a lot of reader interest with over 305 comments published on the Times’ website.

Let’s chat about this while eating a modest lunch of seared tuna with shaved vegetable salad to counter the effects of Halloween candy excess.

Rubinstein recounts her struggle to be comfortable as a single woman in a couples’ world – where work settings and social functions remind her that she is navigating the world solo. She describes feeling odd, strange, shameful, and queer.

The use of the word queer struck me as off since the writer is straight. The term also offended a number of LGBT readers. That may be why the Times changed the essay’s headline from Is There Something Queer About Being Single? to Is There Something Odd About Being Single?

 Word choice aside, Rubinstein decides to drive across the country alone in celebration of freedom and singlehood. As she expects, she experiences fear and a feeling of “strangeness” along the way. During a hot-spring shower in a Nevada desert bathhouse, she longs for a partner in the beautiful setting. But then she has an epiphany. Although at that moment, Rubinstein craves companionship, she realizes that being part of a couple doesn’t always counter loneliness. “Loneliness dissipates,” she writes, “when you find comfort and pleasure in your own company.”

That’s something singles hear a lot – be comfortable and happy with yourself before seeking a partner. I tried to make that a goal after my divorce but it has taken a few years to fully experience that feeling of inner strength. It’s also taken awhile to feel less of an “extra” in many social situations. Still there are times when I intensely feel my solo status – around holidays, on date nights if I’m not with a date, out with a couple. I don’t feel odd but I do feel an aloneness that I’d rather not feel.

I do, however, remember feeling strange at the beginning of my separation. After two-thirds of my life spent as part of a couple, I felt untethered. Eventually I felt tethered to myself and grew that inner strength I mentioned.

Now I believe I may be a qualified “super single,” a phrase I first heard in an episode of Better Things. In case you haven’t seen the show, Sam, the main character, is a divorced single mom of a certain age. She becomes so good at being single that she doesn’t know how to accept the possibility of a promising relationship.

As writer Allison P. Davis writes in The Cut:

“This episode marks the first time she fully comes undone over a romantic prospect. “This guy, is the thing,” she says to a friend, anguished and lovesick (literally). Her speech is really just a few lines, but, good god, does it cut to the bone. “I don’t know how to do this. I got no place to put it, I don’t want it,” she says. She only sees one way forward: to break up with the perfect guy, naturally.

“Oh honey,” her friend says in commiseration. “We’re super singles: We’re just too good at being alone.”

How many of the 111 million singles in the US (45 percent of all residents age 18 and above) are super singles? Hard to know. We’re a mix of high functioning “supers” and newbies.

The newbies may feel strange or they may be thrilled by their newfound freedom and independence. Some of the 111 million may never want to couple up – whether they’ve been in a previous committed relationship or not. Others may yearn for a relationship daily. Whether being single is temporary or lifelong, chosen or circumstantial, I hope we can try to not feel odd. Instead, I like the sentiment in Natasha Bedingfield’s song Single:

Don’t need to be on somebody’s arm to look good
I like who I am
I’m not saying I don’t wanna fall in love ’cause I would
I’m not gonna get hooked up just ’cause you say I should
Can’t romance on demand
I’m gonna wait so I’m sorry if you misunderstood

That’s right

This is my current single status
My declaration of independence
There’s no way I’m tradin’ places
Right now a star’s in the ascendant

 Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

Hello/Goodbye: The Art of Beginning and Ending a First Date

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Have you ever thought about the hello/goodbye aspect of first dates? Second, third, and beyond dates are less problematic. As you work toward coupledom, you hopefully become more at ease with each other…and, at the least, you have a better sense of what feels right in terms of greetings and farewells.

Let’s review this important aspect of dating territory while we have a lovely green goddess crunch sandwich.

Greetings on my first dates have ranged from handshakes to hugs to the man standing up and pulling out my bar stool to cheek kisses to full-on mouth kisses. On the very first date I had while separated, I walked to meet Mr. H at an outdoor café. He lightly put his arms on my shoulders and planted a real kiss…I was surprised to say the least and since it was my first kiss of post-separation dating, felt strange. But then I was a newbie.

Much, much later I was to meet a first date at a small and charming indoor “mall” filled with antique stores and eclectic shops. We arrived at the same time and met in the parking lot. It was clear that we were attracted to each other. He smiled and said, “shall we get the kiss out of the way?” or something to that effect. I was at a loss for words but nodded yes, and then he kissed me…and kissed me well so that we had a rather long greeting.

“Well, we know we’ve got chemistry,” he said, and we walked into the mall where he managed to steal kisses in the nooks and crannies of stores, an empty event hall, etc.

But an initial greeting kiss tends to not be the norm. More likely, a guy will go in for the handshake. If my reflexes are on target, I’ll try to head him off at the non-pass and give him a friendly light hug instead. I look at a handshake as a greeting better suited for a work setting – or any non-dating situation.

What’s worse in my book is a handshake at the end of the date. Unless I’m repulsed by someone (it has happened) or I’m aware that the guy is not interested, I find a light goodbye hug is a better alternative.

If there’s chemistry, that’s a whole other story. Proviso: Chemistry does not necessarily equal a make-out session. I have encountered my fair share of shy guys. Sometimes I’ll make the first move, which could be a real (not light) hug or a kiss.

I make my choice based on my assessment of the mutual chemistry and how much I want to kiss or hug the guy. In one case, after a lengthy goodbye chat next to my car in a cold parking garage, I said to my date “Well, are you going to kiss me?” He was a bit shaken by my comment (I found out later he had Asperger’s syndrome) and managed to fumble a kiss (note: his technique improved on date #2).

At the other extreme, I have offered to drive a guy to his car in another part of the parking lot just so we could have a teenage make out session. Oy! At these times, I regret my small car’s bucket seats and lack of interior space.

For those dating newbies out there wondering about the greeting aspect of the date, just go with your gut. If you’re uncertain about converting a hello handshake to a light hug, don’t stress. Just accept the handshake. You’ll have more knowledge and another chance to express your feelings at the end of the date.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Withering Heights

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It was my second “short” match in a span of five days. By short, I mean the guy was 3 inches shorter than me. If you’re 5’ 5” that might not mean as much to you but if you’re 5’10” like me, it’s a big deal (pun intended). Some people think I might be too picky about my height requirement; even my daughter who is my height has asked me about it. Of course her current boyfriend is 6’2″.

It’s time to dissect this issue while enjoying some tall salad.

I love being tall now but it wasn’t always that way.

When you’re a kid – especially an adolescent or teenager, you don’t want to be different. You want to blend in. Being the center of attention because you’re vivacious and popular is an entirely different thing.

When you’re tall, you feel that everything you do is more obvious. If you’re not terribly confident about your dance moves, for example, you feel as if an enormous spotlight is focused on you – illuminating your awkwardness to all of the shorter, more coordinated people. You get tired of always being in the last row when class pictures are being taken.

Being taller than all of the boys was the biggest negative. Fact: I was 5’9” at age 13 and 5’11” at about age 15 when I finally stopped elongating. (Yes, I lost an inch in recent years.) As a teenager, I was fairly shy around boys so it’s hard to know if they were intimidated by my height but let’s just say I was not a social butterfly in high school.

I longed for a tall boyfriend. I wanted to feel “tiny” and feminine. And even as I embraced women’s liberation, a career, and independence, I still desired that tall/taller “imbalance” that only a tall man could provide. That “imbalance” made me feel instantly sexier and more attractive. It put me in the feminine zone.

Of course I married a man 2” shorter than me. But back then I wasn’t filtering men on a website. That was real life.

Now, 7 years out of that long marriage, I search for my tall mystery man, the one I dreamed about as a teenager but never had. I figure it’s my last – or one of my last — chances to have a long term tall/taller “imbalance.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t date men somewhat shorter than me – and losing that inch to aging helped in that department. But if I think about my ideal, it’s got to be 6’4” with 6’1” being a more realistic goal.

So you see there’s a lot of back-story to those desired inches of flesh, muscle, and bone. At some point, I decided that when filtering online I would not go 3” shorter than me. I don’t want to give that much of the dream up. In real life, who knows? A shorter knight in size medium armor might mesmerize me. And, if past is prologue; we could go for 40 years.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

Baggage

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Have you noticed how many dating profiles mention baggage? Let’s explore this topic while enjoying quinoa salad with swiss chard and goat cheese.

When I first read the term baggage in a profile – usually in the context of “please don’t have any,” I thought of it as a mix of experience and memories. I wondered how a person could get through life without either one of these. Then I realized that these guys are referring to emotional baggage, defined by Merriam Webster as “intangible things (as feeling, circumstances, or beliefs) that get in the way.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of emotional baggage is “painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.” This personality characteristic is also, according to Urban Dictionary, an “excuse commonly used by Peter Pans and other immature men to avoid commitment yet maintain a sexual relationship….as in I don’t think I can handle a real relationship right now. I need some time to get over my emotional baggage.”

I’d like to propose a broader definition of emotional baggage so that it encompasses any life experience that hinders you from moving forward to enjoy life and love.

In my post-divorce dating years, I have encountered widowers who can’t move on enough to be in a relationship, bitter divorced men stuck in an anger cycle, as well as men who have had serious or difficult medical issues and a subsequent loss of self esteem that they can’t overcome.

And there’s no gender rule here — women can experience the same inability to move forward. Just like men, women may get stuck in a post-divorce cycle of anger and low self-esteem. They’re unhappy and unable to move forward from the “baggage” of their failed relationship.

Then there are other people – men and women – who have had serious issues such as the death of a child, yet somehow, are able to carry on with an open albeit grieving heart.

I accept that in my age range, men may not have “baggage” per se but they, like me will likely have some blips on their heart’s EKG. Fortunately the heart can survive a lot and with modern technological advances, recovery is possible.

I like to think my baggage is carry-on – easily stowed under my seat. With occasional turbulence, it might roll out…but I just stuff it back.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

The Edge of 65 vs. 17

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As I laughed, cried, and cringed at the follies of high school junior Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen, I wondered why I love movies about the angst of teenage years. I enjoy a good story but could there be other reasons?

I started thinking about similarities between adolescence and single divorced middle age-essence. It must be time for another compare and contrast blog post.  As we ponder this question together, let’s enjoy a riff on a teenager’s lunch: veggie cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and an adult “to hell with calories” milkshake.

Spoiler alert: I give away some of the plot developments in The Edge of Seventeen so if you’re interested in the film, read this post after you’ve seen it.

*Struggling to Define Yourself

A teenager like Nadine struggles to define herself. She wonders who she is and whether she’s on the right path in life.

A middle-aged single divorced woman also grapples with identity and the transformation that can go along with a major life change. However, with more life experience under her belt, it may be somewhat easier for her to go through this process compared to a teen’s journey.

Rating: Somewhat similar 

*Figuring out Timing and Sex

Nadine stumbles while trying to balance her desires and interest in sex with her need for real connection. Her passion leads to a sticky situation. A middle-aged single divorced woman has similar conflicts though the issue is not whether to lose her virginity but whether she should consider purely sexual relationships or focus on finding her “soul mate.”

Rating: Somewhat similar

*First/Second Date Problems: Nowhere to Go

The car often becomes the go-to make-out venue for a teenager with parents at home. Similarly, single divorced daters who aren’t prepared to indulge in a night of at-home between the sheets passion may find they are in a high school reenactment of lust between the bucket seats. Tip: Always keep breath mints in the car.

Rating: Oddly similar

*The Importance of Girlfriends

Nadine is fairly miserable as a young girl – until she develops a strong friendship with Krista. They become inseparable until Krista starts dating Nadine’s older brother. Nadine can’t accept this development and the friendship suffers. The loss affects Nadine deeply.

For teenage girls and women of all ages, girl/women friends are essential ingredients in the recipe for life happiness.

Rating: Similar

*Dramatic Mood Swings 

The title alone – referencing age 17 – is enough for you to anticipate the main character’s dramatic mood swings, often influenced by hormonal triggers. Single divorced women of a certain age have also been known to experience hormonal shifts and mood swings. It’s part of our fabulous nature.

Rating: Somewhat similar

*Family Challenges

Nadine, like all teens, struggles with her relationship with her family – in this case, her widowed mother and her more popular older brother. Her difficulties are fueled by her search for independence and identity.

Divorced or widowed middle-aged women may have conflicts with their children as they all navigate life following the death or divorce of a spouse. In the case of the divorcee, she also has to contend with her often-difficult relationship with her ex-spouse.

Rating: Similar

*Bold, impetuous Behavior

It’s no surprise that Nadine demonstrates bold, impetuous behavior – it’s one of the hallmarks of the teen years. She takes her mother’s car keys and drives off (without a license) and later accidentally sends a sex-themed text message to her crush.

Bold, impetuous behavior by older women is more likely to be of a positive nature, rather than actions that often seem like a cry for help. The mature woman, for example, might boldly ask a man out – or over – but unless she has been drinking – her actions are more likely to have been carefully thought out.

Rating: More dissimilar than similar 

Can you think of any other teenage vs. middle age comparisons?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Who’s in your Squad?

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Do you have your squad lined up? Yes, your friends count and they make up part of your squad, but I want to talk about others who enrich your life by teaching you and/or helping you feel better physically or emotionally. These squad members may not have begun their journey with you as friends but your relationship often turns into friendship plus.

Join me in a Paris-inspired lunch while we consider this important group of people. And if you’re tired from marching yesterday, eat with your feet up.

My squad is composed of a personal trainer, a swimming coach, a massage therapist, a hair stylist, and a relatively new one – a fiction-writing teacher.

These are people I look forward to seeing on a regular or semi regular basis. After my divorce, I worked hard to create a new life with new relationships, friendships, and new activities to help me connect with a new self that was growing and figuring herself out. My “squad” grew organically out of the activities I pursued/wanted to pursue. I imagine it will continue to grow as I develop new interests or need help in some way.

I’ve had a few personal trainers over the years. A good trainer not only keeps you motivated to exercise but also ensures consistent progress without injuries. I have been working out with my current trainer for a little over a year. I am stronger now and able to lift huge bags of groceries in a single bound. Ms. R is such a positive, loving person that I truly look forward to a weekly 30 minutes of exhausting my muscles. She’ll text me on occasion just to send what I call a happy note of encouragement and support. Ms. R is a key member of my squad.

My writing teacher is not a full-fledged squad member but I have taken a couple of classes with her and she helps me to see my potential, something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I don’t see my massage therapist that often but my visits to Ms. K always leave me relaxed and more aligned as my body moves through the world.

You may question the inclusion of a hair stylist on my squad list but I consider her an important member of the team. Ms. S knew me pre-divorce and we visited during some rough times when the highlight of my day was getting rid of my gray roots (pun intended). Hair stylists have a reputation for serving as therapists for their clients and mine was no exception. During my separation and early years following divorce, it was helpful to have a friendly person who listened to my tales of woe and offered practical advice. I didn’t always take the advice but I always left the salon feeling – and looking – better.

The newest squad member, my swimming coach, is young enough to be my daughter but she’s in charge when I hit the pool. She has given me a great gift- confidence in the water. With my fear now gone, I want to excel as best I can at a variety of strokes. Current challenge (emphasis on challenge): the butterfly. My swimming classes have been a reminder of how important it is to always have goals in life. Working toward goals gives you a sense of purpose and achieving them is one of the best natural highs. A good teacher or coach can help you on this path.

What about you? Do you have a squad of coaches, trainers, or teachers? If not, consider finding a few “helpers.” They can make a difference in your life.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia