Valentine’s Day is a week away. While I believe it’s a chick’s holiday, there isn’t anything wrong with a little extra effort in the romance department by the ladies too.
Personally, I am not holding out hope for a Valentine. I know how to survive when my fantasy is my only reality. No tears necessary…I put myself up on this perch and it will take an extraordinary situation to make me jump down off of it. I have simple needs. They don’t necessarily involve jetting off to exotic locations or opening little baby blue boxes…but if that does happen…lucky me.
I’ve been at this dating crossroads for a while now. I gave up on the fix-up. I understand why the married gals are a little jumpy. The shortage of good single men is causing a bleed of those already taken, and they are all a little worried that their own marriage might be the next artery.
Men mature and women fade. I am sad to report that there is no sisterhood. It is survival of the fittest in spandex, and there isn’t a single gal out there without a high heel footprint on her back. EVERY man is fair game and if you’re not paying attention someone will walk over you to get at your guy.
All it takes is a little effort to keep the fires burning. Men are hunters…if you want yourself to be the only one your man is chasing, then you are going to have to change your fur to feathers once in a while.
Make yourself into “the other woman”…whether you’re single or married…change is exciting and it can breathe life back into a humdrum relationship. Use my story as a precautionary tale.
When my marriage went pear-shaped, I had my pity party…complete with refreshments. Armed with the pound sized bag of M&M’s and salt and vinegar chips as a chaser, I took stock of myself.
I was on the wrong side of an eighteen year marriage with too much skin, breast and thigh. I’d gone all poultry.
During my mourning period, I mastered the fetal position and acquired an addiction to anything “alien” on t.v.
The fog lifted the day the battery died on the remote control. I took a harsh look at everything negative that my ex said about me and I gave it legs.
And then I learned to outrun it.
I had work to do before I could re-enter the atmosphere. I’d been off of the market for some time and a coat of mascara and some blush wasn’t going to up my curb appeal.
I took charge and stopped making excuses. I have always been a confident chick. Rusty…but not rusted through, I took stock of what I still had and worked on what I could make better. I did it FOR ME.
Feeling confident and healthy irradiates beauty…and there is something beautiful about each and every one of us.
In truth, by the time my marriage ran out of gas there was already another passenger in the car. I’m not going to say she was THE reason why we split up, but she certainly added to the water that put out our fire.
I gave her way too much power and my imagination ran wild. Fantasma was a goddess in a garterbelt…a gourmet cook who made her own steak rub. She tossed her head back when she laughed, fingering a creamy strand of pearls around her neck. Her house smelled like vanilla musk and patchouli oil. She played Yanni and old rock and roll. When she went to bed, she closed the door. She slept naked on lavender scented sheets.
She laughed a lot and she always had great wine and something sweet to eat. She didn’t own anything made out of sweatshirt material and sometimes she wore a dress just so she could wear high heels.
Pump the brakes…lavender scented sheets?? Tossing my head back when I laughed?? Vanilla musk and patchouli oil? I could do that…well, maybe not Yanni…but I could BE the other woman. It was simple and it was in my control…MY control.
Here is my personal checklist…it’s female friendly, though you boys can take away some important tips of your own.
1. Grow my hair: Men like long hair. When my ex left I was sporting the housewife bob…you know the one I mean…hair pulled back in a stretchy headband…tiny ponytail in the back. Hair should smell good and toss well.
If your hair won’t grow…try extensions or a new color. Be brave and adventurous…go try on some wigs before you make a permanent decision…cut some bangs. Take a chance.
2. Throw out any item of clothing with a cartoon character or a seasonal three dimensional theme: There is nothing that ages you faster than badly permed short hair, ill fitting cheap polyester, and theme clothing.
I never thought I’d be one of those moms who wears snowman vests at Christmas, but there are pictures that prove otherwise. N.O. Get rid of anything with cutesy designs on it. Simplify. Loose and flowing means cover up and hide. I know this seems harsh, but you need to develop an edge and teddy bears and hearts should not be your billboard.
Wear a belt…if you don’t have a waistline, GET ONE.
Buy some great fitting jeans…make Spanx your friend if you have to and buy a black t-shirt. Wear it with your hair loose and jeans with holes in the knees…magnetic.
3. Buy some sexy underwear and WEAR IT.
If you’re brave enough…go commando. It’s liberating. Throw out the granny panties and the footie pajamas while you’re at it. Try sleeping naked on sheets with a high thread count that you dried with a great smelling fabric softener. If you aren’t the naked type…get some silk boxers and a men’s tank undershirt…the “wife-beater”…which I believe is named for the girl who is after your man and is brave enough to sport one.
4. Smell great all of the time.
Scent is a powerful aphrodisiac. Use lotion and keep your skin soft and touchable. Put on some makeup. Every woman can benefit from some kind of color on her face, even if it’s just lipgloss. If you’ve never worn perfume or makeup…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Keep your skin looking great. If you can’t afford a fancy skin cleaning brush…buy one of those cheap throwaway battery operated toothbrushes…works just the same and is less than ten bucks. Sunscreen and moisturize…moisturize…moisturize.
Use the horror of someone new seeing you undressed to get yourself back into the gym. I was wearing pink sweatpants and flip-flops the day I found out my marriage was over….PINK SWEATPANTS AND FLIP-FLOPS…ugh.
Throw away the sweatpants…especially if they fit like leggings, and get yourself some cute running pants and get healthy and happy and strong.
When you are fit you are strong. When you are strong you don’t bend and snap easily. Strong is confident. Confident is sexy.
6. Find something to do.
Stay busy…be interested and interesting. Growing and learning doesn’t have to cost money. Get excited about something and go after it. Be brave and willing to fail.
7. Choose to be happy. Choose to be passionate. Choose to find joy.
There is a learning curve to happiness. You have to be open to it and it doesn’t always come to you…sometimes you have to go after it. Stop reworking the puzzle of your past with pieces that don’t fit anymore.
8. Stay in the moment.
Don’t keep trying to predict the next fork in the road. Go full speed ahead and decide which turn to take when you come to it.
Do this as often as possible. Laugh at yourself…laughter bubbles over…it IS the fountain of youth.
10. Remember that you are an ex too.
Don’t be an audience. Refuse to swim in stagnant water.
I am still a work in progress…I’ve made a few mistakes, but I am enjoying my reconstruction. Mistakes are growth too…and I am still learning.
Relationships are complicated and full of surprises…the bitter with the sweet. Body image is just a bump in the road…make yourself the person YOU’D like to be with…for you first…and the rest will follow.
There is something beautiful about each of us. My daughter has struggled with body image issues. She and her brother were divorced too and they had to work through it. She and I are cut from the same roll of dough…here is a poem she wrote when we both began working on ourselves.
Unbearable the words that sound
for like a plague did go around.
From one to one the gossip spread
that made me walk with fearful dread.
But was this to be my dire fate
for I was one who gained some weight.
The town filled with whispers of my name
the nasty stares filled me with shame.
But still I grew to eat and eat
so heavy I couldn’t see my feet.
Becky Lou, a skinny dame
laughed at me, mocking my name.
This tore through me just like a knife
they said I was a wasted life.
I couldn’t get away too soon
I left this place next day at noon.
On foot I started on my journey
Following in the steps of Ghandi.
I only packed a few Slim Fasts
hoping that it would make me last.
But sneaking up with a deadly sting
was a block in my path…Burger King.
I stood and stared it in the eye
knowing I would kill for a french fry.
It spit at me with flaming grease
I jumped, then ducked and rolled with ease.
I managed not to stop and eat
Amazingly I felt no defeat.
On my way I then did go
and bumped into an old hobo.
He lived inside a t.v. box
reached out and punched me from my socks.
He proceeded to chug my Slim Fast
the chocolate one…it was my last
I prayed and said, “Please help me God.”
and there appeared a pretzel rod.
The rod I used just like a dagger,
I struck the bum, caused him to stagger
and from his wound an ooze did spew
Slim Fast poured like a chocolate goo.
I ran away, escaping death
but had to stop to catch my breath.
My quest to be thin continued to be
and people still were mocking me.
The restaurants looked like edible towers
and I had not eaten for at least two hours.
I decided to stop for a little snack
I had 3 large fries, a Coke and a Big Mac.
Tearing myself away as quick as I could
I headed to a gym, thought it would be good.
The treadmill is what I came to face
pushed and strained to the end of the race.
I felt the sweat drip to the floor.
I hoped I’d keep going a little more.
Sadly though I had to flee
forty five seconds was too much for me.
My quest continued down the road
where I came upon a little toad.
The toad became a tiny girl
munching on an old cheese curl.
She told me even though she could not stop eating
she could not gain weight…it was self defeating.
I said she should join me on my quest
to find the answers that would fit us best.
We had not walked a step or two
when we found we were hungry, anything would do.
Across the road was an apple tree
and down from there, a chocolate pudding sea.
We were now faced with good and bad.
I knew my choice. It made me sad.
Just then we heard a cry “Save me!”
It came from the waves in the chocolate sea.
A head bobbed along the hard top layer.
My tiny friend pointed and said “Look there!”
I ran down shouting “This much is true…”
“I will find a way to rescue you.”
The pudding covered face did smile
I got her out, it took a while.
I ate my way out through the muck
I grabbed her hand, then I got stuck.
My tiny friend from on the shore
reached for my hand, I could eat no more.
She slowly crawled, would not let go
to the two of us, though we had to move slow.
We made it back onto the beach
thanks to the littlest one with the smallest reach.
Then much to our surprise, it couldn’t be
the brown pudding muck turned into a clear blue sea.
The young girl we saved turned her pudding covered face.
She spoke five words…”You have won your race.”
I stood and smiled, put out my hand
we all stood there, a very strange band.
We could go back now, tell all our story
wait around and bask in the glory
or we could build a boat and sail across the sea
help others find out how great they could be.
So now you know, our quest doesn’t end here…
we’re on the ocean, not afraid to face our fear.
So someday when you are at the shore
look for our boat, I will be at the oar.
You may not know that it is me…
from all that rowing…I am now tiny.
Carly Neilson-age 17
My daughter made her own lemonade…she is a Crossfit trainer and this summer worked with a group of cancer survivors helping them to get stronger and more fit. When they started out they couldn’t even climb the stairs…by the end of the summer they were running. Perspective…
And that is romantic.
Day Three Hundred and Nineteen- If you want to be struck by lightning…you have to stand outside in the rain.