Tanzania Two Years Later…

Today, I attended The Social Good Summit ‪#‎2030NOW‬ in NYC about how we can impact global change on many issues like climate change, LGBT and women’s rights, poverty, and more with famous speakers. Today, September 22, also marks my 2 year anniversary of arriving in Moshi, Tanzania. The experience and people I met along my journey changed my perspective on the world, on life, my view on other cultures and inspired me to be a more grateful and positive person. It showed me that the true meaning of wealth comes from happiness and gratitude, not money or status. I saw first hand what it is like to live in an impoverished country and live without clean water or proper resources.

And I would do it all again in a second. I miss every one I met and think about them all the time. It’s hard to imagine that my kids are 2 years older now, I still picture them exactly how they were when I left. I often wonder how and what they’re doing. 

I am reminded me that there is a lot that needs to be done and I want to continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak. I know that volunteering and helping to provide an education for my kids is vital and made a difference in their lives.

Volunteering and working to impact global change not only makes a difference in their lives, but it changes yours too. I know that these kids and teachers significantly impacted and changed my life in ways words really can not describe and I truly hope we can indeed continue to make a positive difference in this world.

Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania

Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania

Unapologetically Me

I am not perfect. But I do like the way I am. I’d do anything for my friends and family and I put my heart and soul into my relationships. Not because I want recognition or something in return, but rather I do these things because that’s who I am at my core; I’ve always been this way, I do it without thinking twice. A ‘fault’ of mine is that I care a lot about my friends’ well-being. I will point out the silver lining to whatever is bringing you down. I’ll keep your secrets and listen to your problems and worries. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader and I’ll encourage you to pursue your dreams. I’ll be your voice of reason and devil’s advocate. I may not always remember names or specific details in stories but I’ll listen and be present in the moment for you. I’ll be there to support you and with a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on. I’ll offer my advice and give hugs because well, I’m a hugger. I’ll try to make you happy. When I can’t fix something or make things better, I feel like I’ve failed as a friend. When a close friend hurts, I hurt. That’s just how I roll. I want to save the world, personally and professionally; I want to make the world a better place. I want to make your world a better place. I’m an honest person. I think lies are cowardly. I treat everyone with respect, friend or foe. Life is short and precious and I do my best not to hold on to anger or grudges nor do I like going to bed angry; you never know what tomorrow will bring. I take people at their word which also means I’m gullible sometimes. I am cautious and selective about who I trust but then I still trust too easily. I always see the best in people even after they prove me wrong and I give more chances than most deserve. I have a lot of self-control, determination and a deep awareness of my true self. I love unabashedly and unconditionally with everything in my being. I like nature and camping, sports and going on adventures but I also like luxury hotels, being pampered and getting dressed up all fancy. I love spontaneity but I like to plan. I make friends in elevators and in supermarket lines because I talk to everyone and strike up conversations with strangers without the slightest reservation but I can still be shy in certain social situations. I can be gregarious and outgoing but can also be socially awkward. I’m not a good runner but I run. I’m a firm believer in marriage equality and equal rights yet am traditional with my relationships and believe in chivalry. I’m an open book and will talk about pretty much anything but still private about some things. I am a big dork about many things and when I’m comfortable, I’m super goofy. I’ve shared many other random things about myself here and there. I believe in expressing gratitude daily and I always try to focus on the positive.  I own the fact that being lactose intolerant, health-conscious and mostly vegetarian makes me a picky eater and finding restaurants to eat with me at is often difficult. I could continue with defining characteristics but I won’t. At the end of the day, I know I’ve grown a lot in the last couple years and I like the woman I have become. Maybe it is a fault to be so honest, courageous, confident and independent; to care so much about my friends, and to be goofy but I’m okay with all of this because this is who I am. I am me. I’m unapologetically me.

A Lesson on Friendships from HIMYM

How I Met Your Mother hasn’t been as entertaining in recent episodes. They are wrapping up the series and while I will miss it, I think it comes at a good time for the show. But where they missed it lately on humor, they nailed it on life lessons. My dear friend Simone pointed out 10 Things she learned about Love from HIMYM in a recent post. In the 2nd to last episode, the narrator Ted said something that really struck a chord with me:

“And that’s how it goes. The friends, neighbors, drinking buddies, and partners in crime you love so much when you are young… as the years go by you just lose touch. You will be shocked to learn how easy it is to part ways with someone forever and that’s why when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.” – Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother

And I paused the TV (well my laptop, actually). I sat there, alone, just processing that.

Especially as I’ve gotten older, I have learned that not everyone is meant to stay in our lives. Everyone we encounter, teaches us a some kind of lesson, whether it be about ourself, to help us through a particular situation, to show us who we do or don’t want to be, or just about life in general. Some people are just temporary friends, there to help us grow in some way, and that’s okay.

But then there are those special friends that you want to be apart of your life for the long haul. Those people who make you happy, who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life.

Keeping them around isn’t always that easy. Some just slip and fade away because life got in the way. It it really is shockingly easy to part ways with people forever. There are those we meant to have stick around but just didn’t put in enough effort to make it happen.

We’re not in school anymore and we’re not surrounded by the same people everyday. As kids, friendships were about conveniency. They were right there, everyday. You didn’t need a cell phone because you’d see the darn kid the next day in Homeroom. Now, you have to work on your friendships; you have to make an effort for those you want to keep in your life.

Part of growing up is realizing that all relationships worth keeping, especially friendships, take work and effort. Your family will love you unconditionally, but friendships are easily taken for granted and put on the back-burner. At least now with the internet, it is easier to stay in touch but it still takes a conscious effort. Friendship is a two-way street and if/when you want someone to remain there, you have to do something about it. It doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly, hell, there are those friendships that can go several months without talking but can pick up exactly where they left off, but it is important that the effort is made by both parties.

We often assume those we care about will always be around but things change, people change. Somebody moves, or switches jobs. Somebody withdrawals for a bit to cope with a personal issue. Or starts dating someone. Or gets married. And has a child. Or four. You try to connect for a while with texts or emails, maybe gab over lunch and promise to do it again but then you drift apart because one or neither of you made that effort. And work gets busy and life gets in the way and you find yourself saying, “I’m sorry, I’m just busy.”

Side note: To quote my friend Almie, “do not EVER tell anyone you are “booked”. You are not a dentist’s office. You are a person. People cannot be booked. Got it? Good.” <– Yeah, what she said.

Newsflash, we’re all busy. We all have work and life responsibilities, commitments we’ve made, projects to complete, other friends (heaven forbid!) to see, too. But friendship is about priorities, not excuses. It is about making time to connect with those that matter to us. Period.

I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want those people who make me feel small and inferior in my life anymore. I only want to surround myself with positive people; people who enrich my life, who care about my wellbeing, and inspire me and who make me a better person. People who make me laugh and who I not only want to have around, but who actively want me around too. And I see to it that I do everything I can to keep those people around.

Because as Ted articulately said, ‘When you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.”

 

true friends

 

P.S.  I can tell this is important to a lot of people, I posted that quote on Facebook after it aired and it got 26 likes. Be sure to not let those you care about slip away either.

Gratitude: Travel

Today, traffic jams and flight delays frustrate us to no end. We never seem to get anywhere fast enough. But when you stop and put it into perspective, we really take for granted how good we have it today compared to our great-great grandparents.  I found this map of Rates of Travel in 1800 and it just blew me away. That’s about 6 weeks from DC to Chicago. Can you imagine what life would be like without planes that allow us to go anywhere in the world? Think about what a plane is,  (big heavy tubes that fly in the air. It’s incredible how it has revolutionized how we travel the world today. Modern travel truly amazes me.  I am grateful for travel; it rejuvenates my soul and refocuses me. It makes me appreciate life.

Think about this chart next time your flight is delayed even an hour.

 

 

Travel in 1800 via Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

Online Dating Fails: Part 1

Let’s be frank for a minute. Dating is tough. The good ones are few and far between and overshadowed by the copious amount of nut jobs and weirdos. If you expect to only meet someone in a bar or through friends you might find yourself perpetually single. So another valid option today is online dating; you instantly get a lot more options to browse and choose from all while you sit in your underwear. It also gives you a bit of insight as to why some people are single. Between Match, Jdate and OkayCupid, I’ve now gone on more than enough dates and been the recipient of some of the strangest messages.

Through all the weeds, there should be a few good ones out there. So ladies, when you find yours, be sure to hold on to him or you might find yourself on the receiving end of some ridiculous messages like these. Guys, take note of what not to do if you legit want to go on a date.

*I apologize some are too long but grammar, vocab and punctuation have not been altered in any way. These are not all of the messages, nor are they the worst. I wish I had started saving them sooner.

Without further adieu… Enjoy.

  • “Alright, I can tell this profile is fake but can you at least give me the name of model of those pictures you used?”
  • “O two maid of honors?! Were you upset? You’re really cute btw lol” (This was his first message to me. I was okay with two MOH’s, but not okay with his negativity and implying I shouldn’t be. No, thanks)
  • “Finally a girl on here who didn’t write an glorified essay about herself. Dig the profile.”
  • “If you’re looking for a man with a heart of gold and passion of reliving life to the fullest, I think we could make some crazy plans this week. I guess you could call me the shy and mysterious type. I may not speak often, but my words hit you like a Mike Tyson knockout punch. With that said, I think we may have some chemistry then. How about it?”
  • “OMG. Those innocent eyes, those juicy lips, that awesome bod, soo HOOTTT!!……. but enough about me, how u doin?” (Wait, Joey Tribani, is that you?)
  • “Those beautiful eyes, that smooth skin, that cool personality. But enough about me…hows your day?” (These were two different guys…similar cheesy line. Ha!)
  • “Free Massages by Prince Charming. Act now.”
  • “I’ve come to the conclusion I am not be like most people. And I’m probably going to be less and less like most people and at first it will be very lonely…” (slowly…walking…away…. run!)
  • “I THINK I LOVE YOU” (This was first email to me… again run!)
  • “Hey Sexy, I’m in town for work, want to party with me?” – username: KinkMasterSpank. (Can’t make this up)
  • “Hi there – Loved your profile! I think you are fabulous and would love to get to know you better :)  Please drop me a note…would absolutely love to connect!” (That’s a lot of “love” for an intro note…)
  • “Hey! I just signed up here after massive maternal pressure. Have you had any fun?” (This one was obviously from Jdate)
  • “We’re both Jewish… that means something right?”  (Yes it matters to me but, still no. What are you covering up here?)
  • No picture shown: “A little about me… Originally from Baltimore. I am 5’11 185 brn hair and blue eyes, witty, smart, funny, well-groomed, old enough to buy cocktails and young enough to remember where I parked my car. What I do want is great conversation, some laughs, no drama, a few drinks, and some company. I am a passionate smart, successful, yet unpretentious with a great sense of humor. I am confident in my demeanor and is willing to go on adventures… after all life is an adventure. Intrigued?”  - (Nope. Not in the least bit)
  • “How are you doing? Cute smile and beautiful eyes… That is if I maybe so bold as to say. Just wanted to say hi, came across your profile and caught my attention. So wondering if you might like to chat sometime? Would you care to share something about yourself that’s not on your profile. (Nope. I’ve shared what I want to share for now) Well. I will keep this short and simple for now until I hear back from you and see if you are even interested in chatting to begin with. :). Scratch that. I just realized how much I had already written. Lol. Guess it is too late to try and keep this sweet and short. Haha. Looking to reading from you if you are interested in chatting.”
  • “Hi there, I liked your profile and wanted to drop you a note. Will be traveling down your way and I hate eating dinner or drinking a bottle of wine alone.”
  • “Hey There! I liked your profile and if you don’t mind me being so straightforward, I think you’re incredibly attractive. I hope my compliment didn’t offend you in anyway and if it did I apologize in advance. If my compliment made you blush a little and put a smile on your face in a good way, then I think we should chat because I believe we have similar interests and hopefully the chemistry in becoming good friends at first and possible more. I hoped you liked what I had to say and look forward to getting to know more about you. – YourRomanticMan.”
  • (Received on Feb 13, 2013: His location: California. Mine: DC) “Mazel tov! Princess, Tomorrow night I’m taking you out for an AMAZINGLY romantic/fun Valentines Day Dinner. You have the rest of your life to date all these other guys you’re looking through on here- which are NOT the long term answer for you. I am and I plan on proving it starting MANANA. Call me real quick :) Matt  I don’t respond to these messages except this one just pushed me over. My response: “Absolutely not. Addressing a girl you don’t know as a Princess is demeaning and disrespectful. You’re congratulating me (Mazel Tov) like I won a prize? And how do you know that I don’t already have a date for tomorrow? And it is obvious you copied and pasted that to as many girls as possible. We’re not even on the same Coast. No need to respond to me. I am not interested.”
  • “What do I look like to you? You look like my greatest match and the girl next door and my future !”
  • “Okay, so I have a question for you. I normally completely stay away from girls like you, but there’s something about you that has me somewhat intrigued. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re just such a goody too shoes, and I have always wanted to bring a good girl to the dark side! :-P”
  • “63 from South Carolina, but you can call me negative Ned…”  (so I clearly ignored him but then he wrote be a few days later…) “You were like screw that guy. I’m gonna totally ignore him. You’re terrible! ;) On that note, sorry if I’m being too persistent.”  (63 from SC and to call him Negative Ned? Yup, I’m going to ignore that one for sure.)
  • “Hi I’m Jeff, So some things about me I guess? I grew up in Oak Lawn now live in Oak Forest and did a rehab on the inside and now I’m pretty much done just deciding whether or not to put carpet down in the basement or leave the sweet sweet 70’s tile. I have a only one brother and my parents and am close with them… So tell me more about you.”
  • “Seriously I don’t know what to say. Your smile just took all the words from me.”
  • “I just moved out here in September! I notice you are serious about Judaism. If you can overlook that I’m not, I think we’d get along great. Besides, the kids would be Jewish, and that is what really matters, no? ;)” (Nope. That’s not all that matters to me, buddy.)
  • Do you think Jdate should hire a grammar policeman to scroll through profiles and let people know when their spelling and grammar are so poor that it’s just embarrassing to everyone?” (First email. Very strange.)
  • “Heya, my name is Ben. Well, I am Jewish, but I’m not orthodox. I am a “Conservative Jew” but I do not keep Kosher or attend schul every Saturday. I did actually try to teach my friend George Allen Yiddish. Now THAT was funny. I almost taught him the word “schmuck” but decided against it. I was Bar Mitzvah’d. I of course attend High Holidays. I’m a nice intelligent guy and a notorious hard worker. I come from a good family and I work full time. I also am generous. On New Years Eve, when at a party in DC for New Years right before midnight, i stepped outside of the bar where the even was being held. I noticed a poor “bum” on the side of the building asleep. So, I just tossed him over $20 while he was asleep, but also close enough to him so the money wouldn’t be stolen. As my Rabbi said, “It’s important to give to the less fortunate”. Even if the “bum” bought a bottle of booze with the money, I don’t care. The important thing was that I gave him the money, even if he didn’t know, and allowed him to make the choice. If you have time to speak, i’d really like the chance to get to know you. Plus we have a fantastic match rating. Drop me a note if you’d like to talk. I would really like to talk to you.” (There are just no words.)

Have you had any bad pick up lines and emails from online dating? If so, please leave them in the comments and my next post will be compiling your worst online dating experience fails!