Unapologetically Me

I am not perfect nor do I try to be. 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 friendships and relationships. A ‘fault’ of mine is that I care a lot about my friends’ well-being and would do anything for them. I’ll keep your secrets and listen to your problems. A silver lining can be found in nearly every situation; I’ll be your voice of reason and devil’s advocate. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader and I’ll encourage you to pursue your dreams.  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 give 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 you as a friend. When a close friend hurts, I hurt. I want to save the world, personally and professionally; I want to make the world a better place. I want to make a difference and impact lives. I want to make your world a better place. I’m an honest person and yes, my directness often gets me in trouble, but 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 also like to plan. Hell, I still keep a paper planner. I make friends in elevators and in supermarket lines because I talk to everyone and strike up conversations with strangers, 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 and weird. I realize I also take things too seriously sometimes. 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 at with me is often difficult. At the end of the day, I know I’ve grown a lot in the last couple years and I am proud of the woman I have become. Maybe some would consider it a fault to be so honest, bold, confident and independent; to care so much about my friends, to take things too seriously yet be goofy, but I’m okay with all of this because this is who I am. I am me. I’m unapologetically me.

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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.

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! 

10 Years Later…

I remember on graduation night 10 years ago, thinking that the 10 year reunion seemed like an eternity away. It seemed so far off that it would never get here. But time doesn’t stop and just like that, I was standing among my peers once again. It is crazy to think about all that has happened since my high school graduation let alone what the world was like a decade ago.

Just within the year I graduated…

  • We were on the brink of the tech boom in 2003.
  • The Recording Industry Association of America filed copyright lawsuits against Internet users for trading songs online.
  • Apple launched iTunes and was cited TIME’s Coolest Invention of 2003
  • A white tiger attacked Roy Horn of the duo “Siegfried & Roy” leaving him partially paralyzed.
  • Microsoft released the first Tablet PC. The year book says, “it enables users to write directly on the screen rather than typing on a keyboard”.
  • tabletKelly Clarkson won American Idol.
  • The space shuttle Columbia exploded on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, killing all aboard.
  • Amber Alert is introduced.
  • JK Rowling’s fifth Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released.
  • Phones were actually used for making calls and texting with T9.
  • The first camera phone (with a terrible picture) was released and people & companies were panicked about privacy.
  • Oh, and there was no Facebook yet.
  • and more.

nokia phone

Fast forward to this past Friday – to my 10 year high school reunion. It was held at Benchmark, a bar in downtown Chicago the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I am now comfortable and confident in my own skin so I walked into the bar alone; something I NEVER would have done until recent months. I knew I’d obviously know people so it wasn’t like I’d be alone for long. Plus, I’m at a point in my life that if you are still going to judge me, that’s your prerogative. I walked around and did my best to talk with everyone, even if we weren’t particularly close in school. We’re all adults now; I’m long over the high school cliques and drama. With a few exceptions, most people dropped their cliques and were friendly, pleasant and chatty. Majority of people looked the exact same. While I think my face is a bit thinner, I know I fall in that category, too. I enjoyed catching up with friends I’d lost contact with and meeting my peer’s spouses. One benefit to attending reunions is that you have an opportunity to rekindle those lost friendships. It was very surreal that it was actually happening, that it was my turn to be celebrating. How had 10 years passed so quickly? It was bizarre being in a bar with all these familiar faces, that I hadn’t seen in so long, all in one room. It was really nice to reconnect with those I’d lost contact with.

10 Year Time Capsules I had completely forgotten about filling this out at Grad Night until someone asked if I had found mine yet. Turns out, I did! I’m so grateful I took the time back then; this was so fun to read. Apparently, even then I knew I was passionate about impacting lives, making a difference and knew that it was important that I stay true to myself.  Here are a few of my answers:

  • Favorite TV Shows: FRIENDS, Everybody Loves Raymond, My Wife and Kids (FRIENDS was still on!)
  • What is the funniest thing you did at GBN, but didn’t get caught? I didn’t do anything risky worthy of getting caught (Yeah, sounds about right)
  • What do you want to do for your career? PR, Marketing, Sociology, Psychology, anything that will have an impact on someone else.  (I wound up minoring in Sociology and I have a background in media/marketing. I also took my current job for that EXACT reason that I wanted to have an impact on others!”)

Predictions for 2013:

  • What is your occupation: No idea
  • Where will you be living? Chicago (close – I moved away from Chicago Feb 2013)
  • Will you be married? No. (sad, why didn’t I even believe it?!)
  • Who will you still be friends with from your graduating class? Of the five people I listed, only one remains.
  • What do you hope your greatest achievement will be? Stay true to myself, graduate college and make a difference in other’s lives.

Even though I may have lost my way for several years in there, it seems that I always knew my purpose, my passion. The fact that I took my current job specifically to “make a difference and impact people’s lives” and have recently taken drastic actions to ensure that I find myself – enabling me to finally be true to myself, is absolutely wild. I guess I knew myself better then than I realized!  I think it’s funny, but kind of sad that I didn’t think I’d be married either.

Facebook Contrary to what most people think, I think it actually helped serve as a conversation starter for some. I heard, “Oh, your wedding photos were beautiful,” “I saw you moved to California, how is it?” or “You went to Africa!” etc. It added dimension to conversations. If you had nothing to say but wanted to be friendly, it wasn’t creepy but rather complimentary to say, “I saw you got married, Mazel Tov” or something along those lines. I sure as hell am thankful Facebook didn’t exist while I was in high school but it wasn’t as detrimental to the reunion as I expected.

I originally went to the reunion because I figured, “I’d rather go and know it sucked than not go and regret it.” There is a lot of hype and high expectations that build in anticipation of the big day.  Turns out, I’m really glad I went. I had a great time catching up with people and it was great to see so many familiar faces. A lot has happened in 10 years, both in the world and for me personally.

Left: Senior year 2003. Right: at the reunion with Tom - my prom date (left) and good friend Robby (right).
Left: Senior year 2003. Right: at the reunion with Tom – my prom date (left) and good friend Robby (right).

Once again, 10 years from now seems almost impossible to imagine. But just like this reunion, the 20 year reunion will be here before we know it. To think that I’ll be almost 40 at that point is mind blowing. Oye. I feel old just thinking about that.

10 years from now: I hope I am happily married, settled with two(?) kids and a loving family. I hope that I am happy in my job and that it allows me to support my family, that I continue to have adventures, pursue my dreams, continue to travel, and am making a difference in people’s lives. Maybe I’ll be back in Chicago, maybe still in DC, maybe I’ll be in a different country all together. Who knows!

Here is to the next 10 years…

Did you go to your 10 year reunion? 20 year? What did you think? 

The Bittersweet One Year Anniversary {Parallel Universes}

Today would have been my one year wedding anniversary.

I’m struggling with this. It is a very surreal and strange thing to process. How has it already been a year? It is crazy to think how fast time has flown by and all that has happened in the past year. Had I gotten married, NOT ONE event of this past year would have happened. Not.a.single.one. Think about that for a minute. Crazy, eh? It is stop-in-your-tracks and mind-numbing to think what could have been. It is even more wild to think that all the memories I have now from this past year would not exist. That’s such a strange to think about. Where would I be today?

Today is also the day I celebrate my one year anniversary of starting my assent up Mount Kilimanjaro.  I am so proud of myself for accomplishing that feat; a feat that I am still in disbelief that I DID; a feat that I have to look at photos to believe sometimes. And that would not have happened had I been celebrating the wedding anniversary.

So instead of cutting into and eating the top-tier of my wedding cake and exchanging paper gifts, I am alone looking through photos from when I climbed Kilimanjaro. It was ironic, it was coincidental, no it was Kismet, that it fell on the same day. I couldn’t have planned that better if I tried.

It is this parallel universe of celebrating two anniversaries; like looking down a kaleidoscope and seeing an alternate life. It’s like Sliding Doors; seeing what your life might have been if one decision was different. I’m proud of all that I’ve done, accomplished and am experiencing; of how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned about myself. But I miss him and wonder what our life would be like.

I know where I live now, who I’ve met, and the things I’ve done – none of it would have happened. My outlook on life would be different. I know I am much more positive and grateful for the little things; I would not be who I am today, that’s for sure. So much would be different. I’d be a Mrs.

There are those things we look forward to all year; we set goals, we hit milestones, we meet new people, we plan vacations, we advance in or change jobs. We have experiences that we expected and others that we never could have predicted. We grow another year older, wiser.  Yet the one thing that is consistent in all of it, is that time doesn’t stop. With that, every decision we make leads us on down a new path, and we must learn from our experiences. I guess having both anniversaries on the same day, makes today easier to swallow; it puts life and the choices we make into perspective.

Today is, and always will be a bittersweet day. Two anniversaries in one; today I celebrate both what I accomplished and what could have been.

Last year today, in my travel journal, I wrote, “To new challenges, to new beginnings and going over the hill to leave the past behind.” And that is just what I am celebrating today.

Happy Bittersweet One Year Anniversary, to me.