Dating Myth: The Closing Window

The idea that a woman’s potential to meet a man “before the window closes” creates a fear that manifests in unhealthy choices.

*Ann recently went on a date with a 5’9” man. At the end of the evening, the man said, “I like you. You’re cute. I’d like to see you again. But you’ll need to ditch the heels. We can’t have you looking taller than me.”

Ann is 5’ 8” sans heels. Apparently, Ann’s height directly affects her date’s ability to…er date her (or at the very least, stand beside her in public).

“Were you attracted to him?” I asked.

“He owns his own real estate company and drives a Lamborghini.”

“But are you attracted to him?”

She sighed and made a face like one would when offered leftovers from two nights ago. “It’s different at my age. You’ll see. You have to consider different things than you do in your 20’s and 30’s. So, he’s sensitive about his height and he seems a little needy. But he likes me, and he wants to take care of me. I don’t want to be alone. I need someone like him.”

Our talk went on, covering everything from his clean teeth to his affectionate texts. Still, my friend never did answer the attraction question. 

Ann’s divorce isn’t final. She has three girls to raise and at forty, she says “a woman’s window closes quickly. A man has plenty of time. The window remains open for them.”

But I boldly disagree with my dear friend. The “closing window” is a myth, an illusion perpetuated by the cousin of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This fear causes women and men alike to make choices out of some invisible pressure cooker. It is up to each of us to recognize the myth and do what YOU think works best for YOU, not what the mythical fear whispers (if not screams).

I am not stating that compromise isn’t a part of dating and personal relationships in general. But there is a fine but distinct difference between compromise and settling, between choosing to be with someone out of interest and choosing someone to purely have a “someone.”

Love can be found in the least expected places by people at any stage of life. And while the hunger to experience that love is real, there is nothing lonelier than spending time in the wrong company. 

*Name is altered to retain privacy.

The Illusion of Memory

Psychological scientist and author, Dr. Julia Shaw, studies what she refers to as “false memories” that “corrupt our identities, politics and justice system.” It is our perception of the past that forms our emotional story and sometimes, even facts.

My father is just shy of his 8th decade on earth. He’s “been around the block,” filled with a lifetime of experiences that has caused him to grow, like all of us, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Yet ask him about his collection of baseball cards from the 4th grade and he’s still there, sitting in Mrs. Kofkin’s class, watching the thin, pinch-faced woman snatch his cards away from him.

“She never gave them back,” my father says, a flood of emotion in his voice.

Psychological scientist and author, Dr. Julia Shaw studies what she refers to as “false memories” that “corrupt our identities, politics and justice system.” It is our perception of the past that forms our emotional story and sometimes even facts:

“Everyone thinks that they couldn’t be tricked into believing they have done something they never did, and that if someone were telling them about a false memory, they would be able to spot it. But we found that actually, people tend to be quite susceptible to having false memories, and they sound just like real memories.” (Dr. Shaw, UCL Psychology and Language Sciences)

This idea that we can falsely believe something that didn’t happen to us or that we never experienced directly fascinates me. So, I asked my father recently to share his well-told childhood experience with Mrs. Kofkin again.

“What did Mrs. Kofkin look like?”

“I don’t remember. But she took those cards from me. They were my cards. They weren’t hers to take. She just grabbed them from me.”

It occurred to me that the details of his memory weren’t important; what mattered was the feeling provoked—after so many decades—from the memory itself.

It was the feeling of the event that made all the difference, that kept his childhood “violin song” playing. I thought, this isn’t even about a stack of baseball cards from 7 decades ago. There’s something more here.

“Was Mrs. Kofkin mean to you?”

“No…she was just doing her job.”

“Who are you upset with then?”

(And here it came.)

“My parents. They knew how much those cards meant to me. I begged them to speak to my teacher and get them back. But they said they didn’t have time.”

So, there it was: my father’s memory that stirred a feeling of pain wasn’t about Mrs. Kofkin or the baseball cards. The teacher and cards were an illusion, preventing this almost 80-year-old man from seeing the source of the hurt: the message from his parents that his needs and wants didn’t matter.

We talked more about his parents not realizing they were hurting him, that they were busy running a store and doing, like most parents, the best they could. The pain they caused their son wasn’t personal or intentional.

One childhood memory and a world-altering perception to digest.

Yes, our perceptions create our reality, but our past perceptions do so as well. Our memories are like the wake of a ship, offering a trail of perceptions that buoy us along to the ever present. We have the power to consider that trail and perceive it through a different lens and by extension, shift the course of our present and future.

So, the next time you find yourself beating the drum of a past unpleasant or even traumatic event, dive into that memory until you unearth something you didn’t notice before. You just might find a perceptual treasure to steer you in a more peaceful, promising direction.

Sources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200408085517.htm

The Hidden Power of Action

There is unseen power in the Universe and the actions we take each day. The same is true when it comes to our creative endeavors. 

A couple of years ago, I sat in a cozy restaurant with two of my girlfriends. Over a Turkish dinner of shish kebob and fresh hummus (thank you, Pasha Restaurant), my friends shared creative endeavors they were working on. For several weeks prior, the idea for a book had tapped me on the shoulder, beckoning me to embark on a literary journey.

Yet fear/ego/uncertainty had caused me to do nothing but silently play the idea in my head like an orchestra performing with the mute button on.

But that evening, hearing my friends articulating their creative endeavors, motivated me to turn off that mute button.

“I am planning to write a book about our most personal relationships. It’s going to focus on the analogy of food and intimacy.”

Wow, did I just say that? I’m actually planning, huh…

Their reactions were a mixture of surprise and wonder; their eyes lit up—they were intrigued and wanted to know more.

So I found myself sharing the music of my idea, the chords that I had played silently in my head were now streaming between us, an organic melody forming in their encouraging presence.

By the end of the meal, the once beckoning idea had suddenly morphed into an almost palpable plan. Almost.

One of my friends said, “Write it down on this receipt. Make it real.”

Here’s a photo of what I wrote: 

The receipt from Pasha’s–a Turkish restaurant where it all began:-)

Writing that initial title down may seem like a small act, but it felt huge. Writing it, just like speaking about the mere idea of the book, gave the idea itself momentum. 

There is unseen power in the actions we take each day. The same is true when it comes to our creative endeavors. 

On July 7th2020, my book The Friendship Diet: Clean out Your Fridge, Get Real with Yourself and Fill Your Life with Meaningful Relationships that Last will launch. This didn’t just happen. There were innumerable steps along the way to get to the manifestation of an actual book. Each step brought me closer to the book in the making and each step created hidden but immeasurable ripple effects. 

Our lives don’t have a distinct beginning middle and end the way some might think. We are a creation that started way before our entry into this world; we create through our choices all day long that carry long-term effects that we can’t always see in this lifetime; we leave this world not knowing who or what is different because of our actions.

My book is still out in the cosmos, not yet a substance one can hold. But I know it’s out there, just as it was the moment I spoke about it over dinner with two dear friends. The fact of my book only grew stronger the moment I put pen to receipt paper—a formal commitment between the Universe and me.

When we give birth to a life, there is so much more than the birth itself. It is a labor of love from conception to manifestation and beyond. Each of us has the gift of free will to create and foster his or her own labor(s) of love. Feed that idea, nurture it and it will grow.

Never underestimate the hidden power of your actions to manifest your creative dreams.

“Who’s Watching What You Dish?”

Poem Inspired by Our Humanity

I like to think of us as a bunch of Russian dolls scurrying around our planet Earth: We have our many different versions of us. As a colleague recently noted in response to a compliment I gave her LinkedIn profile, “Everyone looks great on LinkedIn. No one sees what goes on when you go off the LinkedIn grid.”

Many of us who are fortunate enough to still have employment during COVID-19 have grown quite comfortable emerging the pajama-clad Russian doll. And when we have ventured out into our new world, we can often be observed sporting a facemask, our eyes now doing a great deal of talking for us. Draping our face with a mask is, according to both the CDC and WHO, recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So the mask wearing is displaying our Russian doll of respecting others and ourselves.

Our world is filled with our respective Russian dolls. After all, the way we might talk to our best friend is not necessarily the way we would speak to our doctor or bank teller. But there’s one group of people that are watching all of the Russian dolls each of us inhabit in a day: children. 

Each new generation comes into our world as a spiritual clean slate. They digest the messages we serve—whether directly or indirectly. Our planet is clearly on the cusp of significant transformation. Now, more than ever, it is up to each of us to consider what we are dishing out to the world around us—especially children. They are watching us in all of our Russian doll manifestations, ingesting the words we might throw down without a second thought like a frozen pizza. 

Remember when you had to look up to see the kitchen counter, an adult’s seemingly huge arm reaching up effortlessly for a plate on the top shelf? The world was fresh, exciting and memorable then. Just as we were listening to understand that world and drawing conclusions based on what we heard from the “grown ups,” so too are the children today. Only now, social media and technology make information arrive at lightning speed, causing a potential tsunami of indigestion if we don’t take the time to both process and consider what Russian doll of ourselves is showing up in the world to our young people.

There’s an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Here’s the truth: at the center of each of those Russian dolls, we are all children. When we remember this, we work together—the best dish for the planet.

Identifying Our Hunger

Decadent Chocolate S’mores Crepes

Back before our new normal, I LOVED going to Coco Crepes—you know, sitting down in an actual restaurant with actual in person contact. On one of those visits, my sister joined me. She was hankering for one of Coco Crepes’ (and decadently delicious) dessert classics: s’mores—replete with crushed graham crackers and toasted marshmallows.

We had finished our divine crepe dinners; I still desired something sweet, but the s’more crepe wasn’t going to do it for me. But my sister DID want the s’more crepe and wouldn’t get it unless I shared it with her.

So I did what any good sister would do, I agreed to her gustatory request. And while the calorie-high decision might seem innocuous, it demonstrates the inner workings of me. The crepe-I-didn’t-want-in-an-effort-to-please symbolized my relationship with big sis’.

What I was hungry for had nothing to do with the crepe and everything to do with pleasing my sister. 

And my sister’s hunger for the campfire reminiscent treat? She had just flown in from New Jersey on business. She was presenting something major to a huge crowd of medical professionals the next morning. It didn’t surprise me that her stress levels were working overtime, causing her to crave high levels of sugar. And there is nothing more psychologically comforting than the idea of slow-roasted marshmallows drenched in melted chocolate and crushed graham crackers to create a (albeit temporary) sense of carbohydrate calm from an adrenaline storm inside.

As we have the gift of time during our pandemic, consider the connection between your dietary choices and your emotional state. This is not an opportunity to judge, but a moment to consider and make choices that potentially serve you better. 

A friend recently had a fight with her spouse and, despite the lockdown order in her state, grabbed her three kids and went out for Baskin Robbins. “I couldn’t take it.” Again, there’s that connection between stress and the food choices we make. But was she really hungry for the frozen dairy dessert or was it a temporary salve to the underlying conflict in her marriage she wants nothing more than to avoid?

I encourage you to consider what your hunger is telling you. With my sister, despite the fact that we are grown women hovering around menopause, I’m still the little girl who craves her big sister’s approval and love. But the truth underneath, when I hit the coronavirus pause button: I know she loves me whether I join her in devouring a s’mores crepe or never touch one again!

Coronavirus Scents

Fragrant Jasmine in Our Neighborhood

I snapped a picture of these blooming jasmines on my mental health walk this week. The strong scent captured my attention before the sight of them. I reside in Texas where spring means waves upon waves of perfumed air provided by this tropical plant associated with love.

I’m a big believer in signs; the Universe is always speaking to us—it’s up to us to listen (or in this case, smell;-)

There are some sidewalks in my neighborhood festooned with fences of this heady-scented flower. And when I walk by them, I can’t help but feel connected to some benevolent force. It’s no wonder that jasmine in Persian is “yasmin”which literally means, gift from God.

Some of the many potential gifts of jasmine include its ability to:

  • promote relaxation (garnered from its buds for everything from tea to aromatherapy)
  • treat skin disease
  • reduce the risk of breast cancer
  • be used as an aphrodisiac (according to legend, a Tuscan gardener proposed to his bride-to-be with a branch of jasmine and she said yes—so taken was she with the heady scent:-)

A worldwide pandemic in the midst of an abundant spring flower that is known for its restorative powers…something to consider in your own neighborhood. I encourage you to take time to smell the literal or metaphorical flowers waiting for you to stop and “sense” them;-)

Sources: http://www.diethics.com, http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com, http://www.livealittlelonger.com, http://www.medicinenet.com, http://www.sciencedaily.com, http://www.healthline.com, http://www.organicfacts.net, http://www.drhealthbenefits.com, http://www.globalfoodbook.com, http://www.healthbenefitstimes.com