HOW TO BE ATTRACTIVE

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

I have a love story I’m just bursting to share.  I had just moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn and joined the organic Food Coop there.  I was racing from my 6:00 am monthly Coop workslot to the R train to go to work. I was walking really fast and I broke my heel!  I didn’t just break it — I lost my balance and tumbled into trash cans put out on the sidewalk for trash day.  The contents of my tote bag flew into the gutter and my legs ended up over my head.  Compounding the problem?  A booming male voice asked if I was okay and powerful male hands hoisted my tail out of Oscar the Grouch’s home.  Beet red I was.  Handsome and laughing he was.  I think I found my husband.  Six weeks of brunches and rollerblading later, I still think so.

-Maeve H.

Dude! All the ladies magazines say never to go out of the house without makeup while wearing sweatpants.  But I was moving from Greenwich Village up to Murray Hill.  The last few fragile items,  back and forth.  I was a sweaty New York August mess.  No makeup, dirty grey sweat pants, sweaty t-shirt, sweaty face.  I was trundling down 26th street off 3rd Avenue when I dropped  a stuffed lion wearing my college team colors.  I couldn’t manage to stoop down low enough to puck my baby lion from the gutter and ended up toppling to the sidwalk on my bum.  Somebody started snickering at my failed acrobatics.  I looked up and saw Jake.  He stuck his hand out to help me up with my burdens.  And he placed my lion on top.  I said, “Don’t laugh — it has sentimental value.  I got it at the only game the Lions won while I was undergrad.”  He said, “Oh, I was at that game.  The Tigers beat you 20 to 12.”  We both growled our team growls.  Um, yeah.  So we went out later for hot wings and March Madness.  We’ve been together three months now.

-Carlyle K.

WARNING SIGNALS

You’re just doing you.  You’re in a great mood.  Life is moving right along.  Like a train, you pause at a random station and hey, some guy would like to *ahem* join you.  The universe bes like that sometimes.  And sometimes that is a very good thing.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

Be clean.  Be well put-together.  Have style even in simple jeans, t-shirt and ballet flats.

Take care of yourself well.  Eat, sleep, exercise, wear sunscreen.

Be confident.  You are the best you around.

Show a bit of body curve.

Feature one lovely body part. Cleavage, great hair, pedicure, smile OR derriere. Not all at the same time.  Less is more.

Love life and you might just find someone to help you love it more.  😉

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I HAVE A “HEART-ON”

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

Daydreaming. Lusting. Wanting.  You have to forgive me because after meeting Justin yesterday at the beach, I’m feeling a little boy-crazy. I was just sitting in the sunshine watching guys skateboard and grind rails against a background of grafitti and waves.  Some burnouts I know were giving all us gals free shoulder massages  Word to the wise: not every free masseur is a good masseur.  Then Justin sat down next me quietly.  After a long while he said: “Hi.”  Glorious green-hazel eyes and a calm vibe.  Like a pretty puppy you’d want to rub behind his shaggy ears.  Amber hair shaved into a mohawk that’s grown out.  Cool threads.  Tall, lean, angular.  He smelled good.  But, y’know — it’s the beach & I gotta be on my guard.  Chicks get drugged at the beach, ass-kicked at the beach and raped at the beach.  The loveliness of the scenery is some straight Deceptacon shiz-nit.  Ya gotta keep your eyes open.   But scruffy, adorable Justin somehow broke down my defenses.  How?  He offered to give me a bicycle.  I protested, “But you don’t even know me.”  He explained he didn’t need it.  Purple.  A beach cruiser.  Suddenly I wanted nothing more than that purple bicycle.  And to nuzzle Justin’s tanned neck adorned with coppery curls.  I wanna snuggle with him in the tent he sleeps in on the beach. It’s like that simple gesture — the unexpected gift (likely stolen and unneeded) — made me mad with desire for him.  Still.

-Nellie K.

I went to get a spare key made for my Mom’s visit and I fooled around and fell in love.   Yeah, I never saw it coming. Sweaty and toting heavy bags, I visited one of those parking lot locksmith kiosks.  A plump, swarthy man in overalls gingerly took my keyring and proceeded to tell me about my life based on the keys I had.  What kind of office I worked in, what kind of house I lived in, my gym habits and my car.  Just by looking at my keys. What an unexpectedly interesting man.  I dunno — I had always figured locksmiths to be like maintenance men.  Unskilled, illiterate, maybe even a former jailbird who went straight after a lifetime of picking locks and hot-wiring cars.  Not so.  This locksmith is travelled, speaks three languages and is a Navy veteran whose favorite TV show is “The Unit.”  Nice hair, nice vibe.  I stooped.  I slummed.  I had coffee with him at Fred Segal.  This locksmith nursed his mother through her slow death from cancer.  This locksmith gives his diabetic doggie insulin shots everyday.  This man is a real man. And now I’m just gaga over him. Not that he can read in English.  Not that he can spell or text.  I know.  But let me have my locksmith!

-Rachel P.

WARNING SIGNALS

Sometimes the time between running into the right man and recognizing the right man is the most painful time.  But then the unexpected hottie sneaks up on you and life is just like a song.  These guys might not be perfect.  But the charm and appeal of a nice man is hard to resist.  Maybe in the end it’s better to be rational.  But darn if it isn’t fun to imagine, feel and toy with the possibility of the greatest love of all in overalls!

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

Connection is powerful.  Even if fleeting, it makes you feel so darn good all over.  Happy to slog through drudgery and traffic just to see him again.  Le sigh.  Enjoy it when you find it. Enjoy it while it lasts.

DATING GOLDEN RULES EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW – Part 3

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

I met a cute lawyer named Derek while out with friends in New York’s Meatpacking District.  Drinks at One Oak led to hung-over brunch on Saturday and ribs while watching Vick’s Eagles whoop the Cowboys.  He’s great — sexy, funny, successful, humble and smells like a dream. All signs read “Go!”  Then we met afterwork mid-town for big eats at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  I took kickboxing class at lunch and tend to go anemic so I’m far from a vegan.  I ordered a shrimp appetizer, petite filet mignon, scalloped potatoes, the banana cream pie and a bottle of Cabernet.  He’s giving me the side-eye and I shrug it off.  It can’t be about the bill.  It just can’t.  He orders, like, vegetables.  At a steakhouse.  Chopped salad and creamed spinach.  I say, “My treat.” He retorts, “No way.”  So I cop: “Then what’s the problem?  You’re all screw-faced after I ordered.”  He goes quiet for a minute to say grace.  And I lower my head and say, “Amen.”  And I’m just staring at him with my mouth open ’til he says what the problem is.  Derek goes into a trance and recites like Jesse Jackson on Vicodin: “But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” Leviticus 11:10 Shellfish shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Leviticus 11:11″ Then Derek says the Bible says God’s people are not to eat shellfish and that I’m a sinner.  I kid you not.  Loooooooooooooongest dinner of my life.

-Erica J.

I was hanging with some elitest ex-patriate Africans at Balthazar in the East Village.  Nigerians, Ugandans, South Africans, Senegalese, Cape Verdeans.  Great food, spirited conversation, many kisses on both cheeks.  My friend Chinesse from Cameroon introduced me to Francois a French lawyer working for White & Case (Rudolph Giuliani’s employer at the time).  Francois and I hit it off.  That weekend we went ice skating in Central Park, had Northern Indian food at Nirvana, went dancing at Nikki Beach Club. Francois was so courtly and charming — a perfect gentleman.  Divorced with a five-year-old son Laurent back in Enghien-Les-Bains. So we had Korean dinner at Kang Suh after the Opera during  the next weekend.  Then he asked me to come over to his corporate apartment to watch the French Open.  I thought that was an outstanding idea.  So we kissed for the first time that night.  It was amazing.  Leading by example, Francois took his shirt off.  All good.  Very warm, affectionate, nice vibe.  But then he started tonguing my ear which is like Def Con 3 in seduction warfare.  A little overwhelming but alright.  Until he bit my diamond & platinum earring in half.  Yes.  Bit. It. In. Half. *CRUNCH!!!*  Like a cartoon mascot of a heavily sugared breakfast cereal.  All I could think is, “I don’t want him near my nipples.”  So I made an excuse about having an early meeting and jetted to a taxicab.

-Ursula P.

WARNING SIGNALS

Dating is sticking your toe into unknown waters.  It looks as beautiful, warm and inviting as the Caribbean Sea off the coast of the French West Indies.  But beware the sting of jellyfish, eel or shark.  You may, like the ladies testifying above, stumble into some belief or behavior that is just unacceptable in a man.

Pay attention and act according to what your gut tells you to do.  Safety and preserving all body parts first!

TROUBLE-SHOOTING 

Additional tips as you determine whether he’s a keeper.

21. It is better to let someone walk away from you than to let him walk all over you.

Some of my girlfriends love to harangue me with tales of her man’s latest evil-doings.  I’m like: Why don’t you just get rid of him?  Men are like lightbulbs — if one is broken, you don’t keep it unless you’re a Hoarder on that scary A&E show.

22. Don’t look for someone to complete you.

You need to be a whole person relating to another whole person. Then your guy can complement you — not be a crutch.

23. Don’t give more in a relationship than you are getting out of it.

Don’t be high-maintenance but remember you ain’t his Momma.

24. When actions and words conflict, believe the actions.

And respond to the actions.

25. Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need.

Keep him on your roster but get to know others.

26. Never believe a man that tells you he want to be with you, while he’s with someone else.

If he wanted to be with you, he would make it happen more sooner than later.

27. There is someone out there worthy to be your partner – so make room.

Weed out the losers and no-hopers to make room for the keeper.

28. If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.

Do you spend more of your relationship time happy or fighting?  It’s not worth it if your life is all strife with dude.

29. Be yourself & be true to yourself.

Reminds me of the fiance who wanted me to get breast implants.  Because his Momma had them.  I’m a 32 C to D.  What am I gonna do — become a 32 G?  He had to go, of course.

30. Determine whether there is room in your life for emotional cripples.

Everyone has problems but if a guy can’t handle his stuff, what makes you think you can do it for him?

THE TEN DATING COMMANDMENTS

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

My name is Courtney and I’ve been dating my boyfriend Mark for six weeks.  We met on a ski trip and have been seeing each other regularly.  He’s got a great resume — Ivy League degrees, his own business, a great condo, a bulldog, a Range Rover.  He’s a bit of a stiff & takes himself way too seriously.  We’re still getting to know each other.   I watched Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Jill Clayburgh in the movie Bridesmaids with him.  He sat stone-faced the whole time.  I watched Madea Goes to Jail with him — he didn’t laugh once.  He makes me watch boring-a**ss science documentaries in HD– slow motion martial arts and engine parts.  Death by TV, I call it.  He expects me to watch him Photoshop pictures for hours.   He can’t cook worth a damn. And he still gets elusive on the weekends and on holidays.  I feel like he’s not as interested in me as I am in him.  I don’t wanna come across as some needy chick desperate to be in a relationship with any old body.  He seems like a great guy but I wanna pull the plug if it just isn’t happening. What should I do?

-Courtney J.

I have to confess I have a fetish:  I like dating short men.  It’s like if you’re a beautiful woman, they are so damn grateful you are giving them play, they try so much harder across the board.  Romantically, sexually, attentiveness-wise, and you’ll win arguments like nobody’s business.  I met my latest shorty-doo-wop at a party for ESPN magazine — we chatted, danced and hit it off.  My nugget is just 5’2″ and goes by the charming nickname “Keebler.”  Yes, as in the elves that make the cookies.  He’s a lovely man — Italian so a great cook and super-duper affectionate.  But there are those moments when the old Napoleon complex rears its head and I’m stuck dealing with the Angry Short Man who’s mad that he’s been “short-changed” by life and genetics.  It’s one-percent of the time but Keebler goes ape***t.  The latest incident is when I grabbed a mint after we exited a movie and didn’t grab one for him.  That turned into a two-hour lecture during which I sang songs in my head til I gave him the whole “I’m-sorry-I’ll-never-do-that-again” speech.  Honestly his tiny man voice is like the teacher voices in Peanuts cartoons: “wanh-wanh-wanh-wanh-WANH.”  Can I keep him, Mom?  Or should I throw him back?

-Devorah J.

WARNING SIGNALS

Congratulations!  You found an attractive guy to date.  You’ve won the first battle in the war to build a lasting relationship. The toughest part of the dating game is to really see the man you’re with, instead of getting a false high from the prospect of finding the relationship or marriage you so crave.

Now comes the hardest part: you’ve got to pay attention to how this guy you’re dating makes you feel. When you’re with him, you should always feel good.  As you keep seeing each other, you’ll learn more and have shared experiences and even fun.

But before you even consider getting serious, nevermind saying “I do,” you have to really check in with yourself to see if you wanna commit to this man & all his stuff every day for the rest of your life.  How does he speak to you, how does he treat his family, is he rude to taxi drivers and waiters, is he petty, is he a cheat, does he renege on promises, what are his views on your religion?

While still dating, you should never feel like he’s taking pity or doing you a favor. Dating him should never make you doubt yourself.  Does he look down on you, your education, your hair, your weight, your economic status, your family, your car, your uneducated family? Conversely, is he awestruck by your education, looks, wealth, friendships, high-status job, your car, your condo? You must continually ask yourself: does this guy want me for the right reasons?

Don’t keep dating somebody who doesn’t make you completely happy, respected, safe, valued and whole. Period.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

Some guidelines to regulate your relationship with any man you date.  I invite you to think about & implement them to spare yourself heartache-

THE TEN DATING COMMANDMENTS

1. Never allow someone to be your priority when you are just their option.

Dating is a wonderful way to meet new people you find attractive to see if there’s enough to build a relationship.  Most dates won’t lead to anything serious but if they’re alright guys, invite them into your social circle so your friends can meet them.  And if they were losers, good riddance. Remember Mama said, “Never get jealous when you see your ex with someone else, because our parents taught us to give our used toys to the less fortunate.”

But don’t put more expectation into dating than it merits.  Keep seeing other people.  And keep your pants on.  Trust me — it’ll be plenty of fun that way and you might get out of the house more often.

And put yourself on an electronic diet when it comes to dating — go easy on the texting, emailing, Facebooking, tweeting and calling.  A balanced ratio of “one text :to: one call” is ideal. You don’t wanna come off as over-eager or desperate; let him pursue you.

2. Define the relationship before sexual activity.

This isn’t game playing — it’s just giving yourself a chance to see if you really want him and if he really wants you.  If he’s going to be “outtie 5000” if sex isn’t happening right away, you gotta pat yourself on the back for weeding him out.  Good sex takes time — if he’s rushing to hit it & quit it, he mustn’t be all that in the sack.

And why go all the way if you’re both just playing?  Unlike sexy movies & TV shows, the HIV-positive community has long  stressed the value of “harm reduction.”  Explore your budding sexual interest safely: kissing, petting, the bases, backrubs, handholding, umm … mutual pleasure.  Anything that scratches that itch without making you itch or visit Planned Parenthood is great for now. Again, you’re just dating.

(Some say you should skip shaving your legs before going on a date so you’ll keep your pants on.  Contrary to all those rabid commercials for pink razors, magazine ads for Drano-like substances that dissolve hair and endless lore about the magic appeal of waxing, real men don’t really care whether your legs are shaven.  It’s not the dealbreaker you’ve been taught to fear it is.  You care far more than men care.  I’ve tried the “hairy leg Kryptonite” and IT DOESN’T WORK.  And while we’re discussing hair removal, quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing hairless ladyparts roaming the gym locker room. Frequently pierced.  Is that attractive?  Really? I guess I’m in the wrong demographic. Then again, maybe it depends on the lady… Hmm… I digress.)

And recognize: the new game on the street is the “Nice Guy Player.” This guy will play the boyfriend role — dates, phone calls, attentiveness, introducing friends and family. Remember: he’s gonna do what he gotta do to get laid.

A guy may even start talking marriage, how many kids he wants to have with you, and even forever.  A. He may not be sincere.  B.  His game may just rewind for the next girl — there really is nothing special between you.

Let’s face it: most guys attitude is “she’s not my first, she ain’t gonna be my last either.” He will get the “happy future” myth swirling your head with possibilities then bend you over for as long as you let him.

Sorry.  Not every guy but many.

And once you’re sleeping together, he’s still not your boyfriend — he’s a FWB (friend with benefits) and that may be all there is to it. Ever.

3. Know when he’s not worth it.

If you’re arguing, crying, angry, depressed or manic all the time, you gotta recognize that dating him ain’t going well.  Please note:  drama is not the same as love.  Sometimes we can get addicted to the soap opera just so we can harangue our girlfriends with all the juicy details and air out our personal business on Facebook.

But, girlfriend, why cling to someone we should despise? This man is causing pain and disrupting our flow.  A girlfriend who’s hard core into S&M told me that, to some folks, pain is ultimately pleasurable because it makes the body release endorphins.  The same with drama — shouting, smart remarks, telephone hang-ups, spiteful actions, undermining behaviors & dragging exes into the middle of your relationship.  The drama addict likes the pendulum swing of stress & emotional lows.  Without that, there can be no sweet release — the antidote of apology, renewed embrace & make-up sex.

We gotta watch for that old “break-up-to-make-up” dynamic that can substitute for a real loving relationship.

4. The key to finding & keeping a great guy: become his friend first.

I’m not saying that all guy friends will be great mates.  I’m just saying most of any relationship is hanging out and conversation.  Maybe 75% over the span of a long-term marriage.  So if you can swing a good time that percentage of time with a man, you’re batting for the bleachers.  The remaining 25% is sex, money, kids and control. But we’ll get to those things once you’ve conquered dating.

On the other hand, try getting with and staying with a man you’re not really friends with. You will never know such loneliness even though he’ll be right next to you.

5. Shop around & find the best one for you.

Ignore those stories about marrying your high school sweetheart or first boyfriend.  What do you know about what you want at that stage of life? You don’t live on a dairy farm or in one of those countries with arranged marriages.

Lemme talk to you as a woman: You know how you like to have a lot of shoes?  Because each pair says something unique, each pair is suited for particular outfits or occasions. Well, guys are like shoes.  You wanna find your favorite pair that feels good, fits your lifestyle and that goes anywhere, with any outfit or occasion.

For me, there was a point when I could no longer date the guy who defiantly only wore denim head-to-toe and $200 sneakers.  He was “walking in tall cotton” — that is, doing quite well for himself.  No matter the house he was building and his car collection, he was addicted to dressing and behaving like a high school boy.  I live in the real world and with everything you have to contend with (cops, coop boards, airport security, profiling, getting your kids into schools, etc.) “Captain Sneakerhead” wasn’t gonna cut it as a husband and father.

And then I also couldn’t go on more than one date with a guy who seriously wore clogs.  I mean, clogs are what your art teacher or your eleven-year-old sister wear.  Not your man. Cowboy boots if you don’t ride horses. Riding boots on a man who doesn’t ride horses. Those pointy-toe shoes that curl up at the end that genies wear when they guy isn’t a genie.  Crocs. Platform shoes.  High heels on a man? The under-six-feet man who rocks the boots with extra double-thick soles even in summer — who in the heck does he think he’s fooling?

See what I mean? Not. Gonna. Work.

6. Spend more time dating guys who you can laugh with & less with guys who make you cry.

Life is hard so being able to have fun with the man you date is ultra-important.  After attractiveness, smelling good and good conversation, humor is the most important thing. A sense of humor can help you bond even during the toughest times  – a car crash, a cancer diagnosis, foreclosure, extreme debt, crime.

Looks will fade and passion may dip but if you laugh together, then the relationship just might last.

7. Be who you are with kindness, honesty and vision-
Live your life, pursue your goals and enjoy your passions. Seek commitment from a worthy partner who supports you and doesn’t try to take away from your joy and activities.

Don’t just settle and throw away all your wonderfulness on some man who can’t appreciate your conversation, your work, your hobbies, your hair, your style, your love, your body, your accomplishments, your opinions, housekeeping or cooking. It’s not worth the time.

8. Three strikes and he’s out.   

I dated a guy who went nuts because my Blackberry only rings three times before it goes to voicemail.  He had some phone that would ring forever and I would call him right back but it got to the point that he would hang up on me for spite.  Whoa.  We discussed it, we visited the AT&T store together to explore a solution.  But after three major blowups about this nonsense,  homeboy had to go.

If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.  You just can’t put up with extreme bickering over petty issues or major ones.  Cheating?  Cut him loose.  Gave you VD?  Call your lawyer. Having a baby with an outside woman? Bye and good luck.  I’ve seen women stay with dudes even when these things went down while dating.  Sure they got citizenship, children or health benefits, but that’s a long row to hoe, as we say down South.  And if you marry for money, you’ll earn every penny the hard way.

9. Date outside your comfort zone.

Leave the same old dating pools behind.  Enough of the neighborhood, the school friends, the colleagues and the blind dates set up by well-meaning relatives.  Try match.com, volunteer on an election campaign, walk dogs at the animal shelter, volunteer at a fundraiser, choose your seat next to someone cute on Southwest Airlines.  Use that lovely brain to get yourself into social situations with new dating prospects.

10. The “Life is Better” litmus test.

Is your life better with this man or without him?  Look at his heart.  Look at his soul.  Is he a good person who inspires you to be a good person?  Trust your intuition on this.  Is he a good enough man to meet & raise your children? Truly this is the defining question that will tell you if he’s one of the good ones & a keeper.

LOVE IS THE NEW BLACK

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

My boyfriend Frank and I met on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago’s Midway Airport to LaGuardia in New York.  Emblematic of the “closeness of strangers” we talked for three hours straight about anything and everything. We asked for and got each other’s unbiased opinions because “Hey! We were never gonna see each other again.”  Long story short, I liked him so much I decided I would become friends — a rare thing in adulthood.  Most of us already have enough friends bonded to us over long years. But I felt compelled to make Frank part of my world.  He was attentive, a good listener, humble, affectionate, honest — too honest.  After we hung out for lunch and a few NFL games, Frank seemed to have his sexual orientation, personal goals, religious beliefs and sense of responsibility in the right place. So I pounced.  Just like the song says, “I fooled around and fell in love!” Best decision I’ve made in a long time.  I love him.  And I’m happy to say he loves me.  We have some long distance and life choice issues we’re working out.  He says he  doesn’t want to get married right now but I can’t be with him without that. But, in the meantime, I am happy.  Once I can stop myself from lashing out because I feel insecure or like this relationship is out of my control, we’ll both be even happier.

– Celeste T.

My wife Marta is the apple of my eye after all these years.  We just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary.  Right now she’s helping me battle prostate cancer again.  When I was a basketball star in college at Ithaca, Marta was the prettiest girl on campus.  Other girls who wanted me told me Marta was a lesbian but I made it my mission to find out for myself.  Sparks flew, we became inseparable, got married and had two beautiful children. I’m not a perfect man but I wish my wife would stop demeaning me, especially in public.  If I’m running late or need to shovel the driveway, she can just mention it with out the screwface and lecture on how stupid/ lazy/ no count I am.  I wish because I doubt she will ever change.  That mouth and her crazy controlling s*** — it’s just like my Mother was with my late father. I guess I asked for it.  No need crying about it now.

-Dennis V.

WARNING SIGNALS

Maybe you started out as friends and got involved “accidentally.”  Maybe he had to bide his time to make sure you were open to a relationship and comfortable with him.  Unlike a man to whom women are a dime a dozen, what you think and feel matters to him a whole lot.  To the point that you may be over-doing it on the hormonal emotional extremes by picking fights, muttering under your breath, micromanaging, cussing and withholding affection and sex to punish him.  And still he’s so not going anywhere.

This is the Holy Grail: love that is so strong you two have bonded into family. You are living a kind of emotional bliss and reassurance that is everything love songs promised.  What is important to realize is this level of love and happiness is normal.  At its heart is self-love that radiates out to alll those you hold dear and reflects back to you amplified.  You came into the world knowing this kind of love and truly feeling it.

All the great religions of the world allude to this love of self, inner peace and joy.  Call it God, Buddha, nirvana, Allah, heaven, etc., truly “The Kingdom is within.” Your inner perfection and emotional wholeness are God-given and don’t need to be earned. Awareness of the goodness and the wholeness that is already there within us is all that is necessary. And what is whole does not seek from without for it is complete and therefore requires nothing. Beloved & loving is our natural state.  It is only lost through negative messaging in our upbringings and from negative people & experiences  in our world.

Transcending fashion and the ups & downs of life, we need to embody this self-love which enables us to withstand & abandon the dis-empowering messages telling us we are unworthy.  Human beings need real love to be part of who we are on the inside and on the outside. Truly, love is the new black.  You just have to have it this season and every season.  It is the perfect accompaniment and compliment to everything you are striving for in this life.  It is battle armor, security blanket and tres tres chic all in one. Not the Canal Street Gucci version.  The real thing.

But this level of love & comfort is great until you get sloppy and stop editing out the less appealing behviors you learned in your parents’ home, on your block growing up and in bad relationships. Most of us have been unmercifully fed messages of self-hate by unkind people, schoolyard bullies, bad lovers, workplace abuse and trying life circumstances.

All of us come into adulthood with a menu of learned behaviors — good and bad.  Like the Manchurian Candidate, these habits become ingrained like brainwashing.  We’re not even conscious they’re there.  Unless we start screaming over minor annoyances, threatening to end the relationship with our loved one or violently lashing out before we realize it.

Most self-improvement discussions do not respect the need for transition. Inevitably, you will fail to live up to the unrealistic & unnecessary goals of movies and magazine articles that demand we contort into perfection today. Such failure produces stress and anxiety. These negative emotions drive us to derail positive changes we have accomplished; we then seek to numb the pain with emotional blow-ups, blaming, over-eating, excessive drinking, retail therapty and other negative disempowering behaviors.

You wanna prioritize your relationship, but make it a slow journey. Even after months and years, you’re still getting to know and trust each other. And love it is just that — a journey, not an end destination. Yes, there will be ups and downs. But as you make better choices you’ll feel better; feeling better makes it easier to do better. As your choices and behaviors improve, so will your loving relationship.

Again, learning to live love is a shift back to normalcy — back to normal kindness & consideration,  back to thinking and habits that honor love and family. By becoming more conscious of what you think and do for the rest of your love life, you can truly learn how to enhance it from the inside emotional balance to making good decisions on the outside.

You will have changed, and your relationship and home will become more peaceful and healthful for the good work you are doing.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING 

In relationships, we should see change as a journey, not a destiny. The body and the mind always resist drastic change. And, when you see change as all or nothing, you stumble to make any change at all. Any positive change is good.  Just 1% better is 1% better. You are not a machine, you are human. Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better.” Thus, you should strive to be better, not flawless. Apologize when you mess up, be kind and understanding.  But keep moving forward to a better quality of relating.

True permanent positive change is incremental. You can achieve smaller realistic goals. This ensures success. Success breeds positive feelings, and you when you feel better about yourself, you can then do more good. You then associate change to feeling good, and you no longer cringe when you think of setting new goals.

Love is the new black.  Get yours.  Wear it long, wear it strong.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

How can I control my love life when I can’t even control my hair?  Between blind dates, friends’ introductions, online dating, singles mixers, speed dating  and random encounters, I’m kissing an awful lot of frogs here.  Where’s my Prince?

-Evelyn R.

WARNING SIGNALS

Break-ups, missed connections and lovers who made you wanna go into the Witness Protection Program. Unless you live in a country that has arranged marriage, it’s unlikely you’re gonna get it right on your first try.  The process can feel more like a curse than a blessing.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

First and foremost, don’t settle.  Mr. Right Now is alright but your heart and head need to keep looking.

Your dating life, broken relationships, marriages and dreams are there to teach you what your want out of love.  If it was easy, finding your true love and soul mate wouldn’t afford enough fascination for poems, songs, paintings, books, movies and tattoos. Like Mariah Carey sang, you have a “Vision of Love.”  Embrace it and let it lead your search.

Love Visionaries & Love Dreamers both wake up each day: one to work toward her goals, the other to complain about heartbreak. A Vision of Love alone is not enough — it must engender adventure. It is not enough to stare up the steps of the Wedding Chapel, we must step up the stairs. The heights women of courage have scaled didn’t happen by accident.  While others slept, read blogs and over-indulged in food, drink & sex, women of courage toiled upward through the night. So wake up and take your love dreams back to the lab to analyze them and out to the field to test them.  It’s time to go to work on making them real!

You’re on a journey made up of many steps and missteps.  Some tips to help keep it from turning bittersweet:

  1. People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
  2. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
  4. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
  5. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
  6. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  7. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
  8. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
  9. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
  10. Never envy someone else’s path to success. That person has never travelled in your shoes, nor you in theirs.
  11. Never allow someone to be your priority when you are just an option.

Happy hunting!