As a single woman, happiness is my only goal

received_2162487400681309Many single women feel like marriage is the ultimate key to eternal happiness, and I used to feel the same way. However, after going through a marriage (and divorce), I’ve learned that I’m in control of and responsible for my own life’s joy. Instead of spending time and energy focusing on marriage goals, I’ve shifted my focus on things that genuinely make me happy.

  1. I’d rather spend time growing. My professional and personal success is very important to me. While I greatly enjoy climbing the ladder in my career, I also have huge aspirations to own my own business and grow that as well. To a level where I have to just manage my employees and make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition to growing in my career, I also enjoy working on my spiritual and emotional growth.
  2. I love hanging out with my closest friends. I’ve been blessed with the absolute best friends on earth and I truly treasure our relationships. They’re some of my biggest cheerleaders, they make me a better person, and they play a vital role in my overall happiness. Instead of focusing on the romantic relationship I don’t have, I choose to cherish the platonic ones I’ve been blessed with. After all, these people are the ones who will be there through it all.
  3. Family is just as important. The time I spend with my family is so very precious to me. Especially after losing my mother a few years ago, I have grown to appreciate every moment I get to spend with my family. The joy I have when hanging out with my dad, step-mom, brother and sister (in-law) would be hard to replace. Same applies to my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They’re supportive and love me unconditionally.
  4. I want to travel the world. I love to travel. I’ve visited several different cities and countries but there are so many others still on my list. Traveling offers so many benefits. In addition to being an escape from the real world, it can also be very educational and enlightening. I always seem to return home with a new sense of purpose and gratefulness.
  5. I enjoy my “me time.” It wasn’t always the case that I would enjoy being alone. For so long, I longed to be around others and really really wanted a boyfriend to fill what felt like an emptiness within me. After achieving adulthood in my 30s, spending time alone provides a bit of self-rejuvenation. Whether I’m cuddled up on the couch enjoying a good book or catching up on my favorite television show, I can find plenty of happiness spending quality time with myself.
  6. Self-sufficiency is an accomplishment. My ability to take care of myself makes me very happy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am my own provider. My self-reliance gives me a confidence boost that’s reflected in other areas of my life too. I rarely see a task as too difficult to take on. That’s a great attitude to have and one that I plan to keep even if I do end up in a relationship down the road.
  7. I love marching to the beat of my own drum. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to make my own decisions and not have to worry about how those decisions will affect anyone else. I absolutely love the fact that I don’t have to consult with anyone about my own life choices. It’s a beautiful feeling and one that I’m not quite ready to give up.
  8. I enjoy the carefree approach to love and relationships. I truly believe people would take more risks in relationships if they weren’t so concerned about things not working out in the end. I’m not advocating recklessness but there is something to be said about living in the moment and enjoying each season you’re in. There’s no pressure when you’re single. If things don’t work out, it’s OK.
  9. Being married doesn’t automatically make you happy. Trust me, been there done that. Got the fucking T shirt. But that shit takes work. I tried hard, for several years, to maintain the happiness only to find that the other half of the marriage already moved on without letting me know. As a single woman, if I focus on the things that truly make me happy, anything else that comes along, be it marriage or a family, is simply a bonus to an already wonderful life. And I’m getting a big bonus in April with my baby girl.

So it took me 30+ years to get here, but I’ve never been happier. The joy that shines from inside is sometimes overwhelming. And I hope to share this joy with as many as I can.

A special prayer

I recently found out that my ex is going through some major personal struggles. When I first heard this, a tiny part of me felt a little relief. Sometimes, when you’re on the outside looking in all you see is perfection. But then I felt guilty. And ultimately, I turned to God with all my feelings. I prayed a special prayer for my ex. One that I’ve been praying for since we split up over two years ago.

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I prayed that he find joy and happiness in God and Jesus. I prayed that God’s will be done when it comes to his personal life and struggles. I prayed that he felt love and hope through his family, friends and God. I prayed for God to grant him the strength and courage needed to get through this season of life. And once again, I felt my heart breaking for him all over again.

It also did make me realize that amongst the lies he told me, there was one truth. He really did want a family, just not with me. And while that is heartbreaking, I can’t hold someone back from finding what they truly want. I just hope and pray that this is truly God’s plan for him and that he does end up joyful and happy with his life choices.

I also pray that one day I find someone who not only deserves and can handle this type of love but who can love me in the same way. If this is how I feel and treat someone who cheated and left me for someone else, it’s unimaginable how it could improve for the person who actually loves me back.

That is exactly why I’m patient and willing to wait for the right guy, the one meant for me. I already tried it with the one not meant to be and it nearly killed me. But I still wish the best for him and his new family, even if that doesn’t include me. And I’m so very thankful God made it clear to me that we weren’t meant to be. This time I’m sitting still and listening to His voice to tell me His plan, in His timing. I focus my eyes towards Him and know that everything will work out according to His plan.

He’s already taken me this far. To Oak Park, to run my first marathon, to walk away from yet another toxic relationship, and to be given the blessing of my first baby girl due in another few weeks. I just keep focusing on the good and all the blessings I’ve been given. And through every season, I take the time to thank Him for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.

 

The Incomplete Book of Running review

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a local celebrity, Peter Sagal, who just so happens to live in Oak Park, runs, and is a host of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! AND he wrote a book that is supposed to be about running, but actually touches so much more.

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Peter has a story that isn’t completely different from mine. Although his divorce sounded much messier than mine (kids were involved) we both went through a divorce and we both turned to running to help heal our emotional wounds. While you may be thinking why or how would running help you? It’s not just the act of running but actually more so the act of running with others that helped me the most. Back in 2017, I entered the year married but separated. Married but divorce was legally pending thanks to my husband who filed right before the holidays. I was getting push back from my soon-to-be ex over credit card balances, video game systems, and microchip registration for our pets.

I was seeing my therapist weekly as well as reading a book and meditating daily, as well as working out as much as possible only to survive and rise above everything falling apart around me.

When Michael Chitwood came to my new church that I had just started attending the last two months to talk about his story and the Chicago Marathon, I felt a shift in my heart. And I heard God tell me that this was the year I was to train and run my first marathon ever. Everyone, including Michael, said it would be life changing. But I really didn’t know what he meant until I witnessed the transformation within me. There’s something about lacing up and sweating it out for minutes and then hours at a time with people. Things you never think to talk about come out. And there’s no judgment, because just when you think you’re the only one who’s going through struggles, your running friends have struggles of their own.

Through running, I’ve learned that no one is perfect. We all lace up for different reasons. Some of us run slow (me) and some run fast (Peter). But at the end, we’re all bettering ourselves. Whether we’re running the local 5K or the Boston Marathon, we are bettering ourselves. I love how Peter talks about running. He’s ran 14 marathons, and he didn’t start until he was 40. Despite all the odds, he qualified for Boston and has a crazy marathon PR of 3 hours and 9 minutes.

He also survived through his divorce that spanned years, and is now no longer running marathons, but still lacing up and inspiring others to do the same. If you’re on the fence of whether to start running or not, or if you’re an experienced runner, I would recommend this book either way. Peter provides insight into the world of running that I haven’t seen elsewhere. And writes in a very easy way to understand. This is a relatable book, even if you haven’t ran a marathon or not planning to.

Wake me up when September ends

The year was 2005. It had just been 2004 and I found myself entering my second semester at UIUC at a loss. I had dumped my boyfriend after Thanksgiving only to find myself falling head over heels for the wrong guy, again. The same guy who had pulled on my heart-strings since I was in High School. A guy who existed mostly in my imagination, which was exactly why it would never work out. I just kept hoping, but the longer I dug my nails in the less I had a hold of things.

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Everything felt like it was spiraling out of control. It was one of those days where I found myself in my dorm, only to be missing my very expensive and needed graphic calculator in order to try my hand at this chemistry assignment. I decided to anxiously walk/run rather than ride my bike on the icy roads. About an hour later I return to my dorm-room to find three police officers standing in the doorway. Instantly, I think what did my room-mate do? But she was perfect, unlike me. And I soon found out they were there for me.

It may be hard to believe, but up until this point in my life I had zero run ins with cops. Like literally never even been pulled over before. To say I was shaking would be an understatement. If I wasn’t already upset, I was in tears by the time they decided to take me to the emergency room. See, they weren’t there to arrest me. Instead, a very concerned friend called them on my behalf. My friend somehow didn’t have my phone number so instead of trying to get a hold of me, called the police.

At first I was mad. But then I realized I needed this wake-up call. I had been blogging some seriously “emo” stuff. And while I wrote it off as song lyrics that I enjoyed, they were all saying the same thing. I was sad, and I felt alone. Really alone. I was borderline anorexic, I would only eat when a friend was with me. I remember due to this, I would skip multiple meals, sometimes for a few days at a time. And I still thought I was fat. The body-image issues were out of control. And I felt like I was just crawling around campus hoping to find where I belonged. I went from a high school of about 2,000 students to a campus of about 40,000 students. I was literally lost among a sea full of people. I regretted my decision to attend one of the largest universities and felt like it was going to be the longest four years of my life.

It took awhile, but I ended up thankful that I spent hours that night and morning in the ER. I had to convince my mom and dad to not drive down to see me, and that I was totally okay. This was a turning point in my life. After a prescribed meeting with a therapist, I was already feeling better. A few girls in my dorm invited me to hang out with them. It ended up being a bible study, but that’s exactly what I needed: a small group of friends to feel like I belonged. I also, miraculously, started having a crush on a class-mate’s friend. Just when I thought I would never get over Mr. never-ending crush, I found myself chasing a cute engineer. And you know the rest, I ended the semester not wanting to go home, started the dating dare, and found Jesus. Right?

Not quite. My finding Jesus journey was just beginning. But you can’t climb to the peak if you don’t walk through the valley first. And this was one of those valleys I had to go through to learn that I couldn’t do life alone. This was the year I learned that if I rely solely on myself, I will fall short. I also learned that people care, and to give out my phone number to my friends more often.

 

How to get the girl of your dreams

I’m going to be completely honest with you. 99% of my posts are geared towards women. No offense to the guys, I just relate better with those with ovaries. But someone I met and went on a handful of dates with last year has apologized to me and more recently after apologizing again has asked me to share some insights and tips to “not screw up like how I did with you.”

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So all of you get to reap the benefits! By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it is definitely the things that keep me coming back. And I could totally tear this guy (and others) apart by listing what they’ve done wrong. But I like to keep things positive and suggest some simple things they can work towards in order to do everything to attract the next great person that they come across.

Next time you find yourself in the presence of someone awesome, focus on the following things:

  • Be honest. Y’all don’t even know how many times a guy has lied to me. May it be a white lie to make himself look better, or a bigger lie because he’s guessing at what I like and what I want to hear. Guys, be honest and be yourself. I’m not going to fall for that fake guy you’re painting. I strive to be completely honest (minus the sarcasm) and I expect the same from you.
  • Listen. Most girls love to learn about you, but also adore an active listener. I can’t tell you how often I sit down with someone and every time I’m talking they’re just thinking about what they want to say next. I know how it works, my mom was a master at not listening and just thinking about what she was going to say next (if she even let you talk in the first place!). Guys, I love it when you talk about yourself and I will listen carefully but I expect the same from you!
  • Be a gentleman. This is a dying art. Holding a door for a girl goes a long way. The things I notice seem small but go a long way. Are you opening the car door for me, or the restaurant/building door wherever we’re going? Do you walk me to my car? Do you offer a hand when it’s slippery? Do you say please and thank you? It’s silly but these tiny things don’t go un-noticed.
  • Be patient. Last but certainly not least, don’t pressure a girl into anything physical. Almost every guy I dated last year wanted to sleep with me ASAP. Like whoa boy, get to know me first. If you really do want to end up with a quality woman, you’ll be willing to wait and follow her rules. And it’ll be worth it.

What are some things you focus on when dating?

The last post of the challenge

31 days later…

We made it! You made it, I made it. I wrote everyday for the month of January (minus the first since I didn’t see the challenge until the 2nd). I made one of my goals for the new year, blog everyday for a month. And I’m happy to report that by simply posting once a day, my stats improved greatly. Like from about 500 views in December to nearly 1500 in January. So about 3x more traffic. AND the weirdest thing, my other blog (www.selfevolve.co) also saw decent traffic this month without a single post this month.

But I didn’t only do it for the increased traffic (which is always nice) I also had a lot on my mind that I wanted to get out there for you guys. This also helped prove to myself that I could still obtain a goal or New Year’s resolution if you will. While I appreciate resolutions, I prefer to break them into bite-sized goals. This was just the first piece to a way bigger puzzle that I’m working towards with my blogs and writing. Actually an eBook may be on the horizon. Once I determine what I want to write about. That’s my biggest problem, I have so many passions and want to pursue them all at once.

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Like the year I ran a marathon. My first marathon ever. That wasn’t a new year’s resolution. Actually I am pretty sure I said something close to I would never ever run a full marathon in my life. Instead, it was God’s resolution for me. He prescribed it as a way for me to heal after my very recent divorce. Instead of licking a fresh wound of divorce, I’m going to make you train and run a 26.2 mile race to prove that you can make new wounds and heal from those as well.

That was the year I signed up for something that I couldn’t even imagine the end of. The training took 4 months, countless hours running and growing in my faith and friendships of the people I met along the way. But most importantly, I grew closer to God. There were days that I dreaded running, but I got the miles in anyways. There were days where I would just pull out the headphones and talk to God the entire run. And it was through the strength and willpower He instilled in me that I finished that Chicago marathon on that way too hot October day in 2017.

And here I am, over 6 months pregnant and once again God is putting the marathon on my heart. It’s not a New Year’s resolution or even a goal. It is a one-day goal of mine to finish another marathon, this time faster. I just don’t know if a marathon is even feasible this year. Especially since A. I haven’t been running (at least not fast nor for longer than a mile) B. I’m having a baby in April and training begins 6 weeks later and C. what do I do with said baby while running all them miles? BUT I know if God wills it, it’ll happen. So I just pray everyday and holding off on the sign-up until I know I can run and put in the time to train.

What goals do you have? And what goals have you accomplished recently or in the past?

What keeps me going

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me with concern. I get questions similar to “How’s it going, are you ready to be a single parent?” and “How’s the pregnancy going? How are you feeling?” I’d be lying if I told you I’m ready and feeling great! But my determination to get to those places is what keeps me going.

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I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the fact that there are days and nights where I just feel like crying. Growing up, I always imagined having a baby differently. I imagined being married to my soulmate, and having someone there who was just as invested in the baby as he was in me. Someone who would help me prepare our home for baby, including the nursery and baby-proofing everywhere else. Instead, I’m relying heavily on my dad and myself to get everything ready. And the nursery isn’t ready yet but I’ve come to the decision to wait until after the baby shower to put everything together.

But I have put my effort and time into going through everything and getting rid of anything I no longer have a need for. I’ve already donated two carloads full of stuff and thrown out several loads of things. The feeling of a clean and organized home keeps me going. I’m determined to have a place where my daughter feels safe and cared for. And I’m throwing out all the demons holding me back in life.

Not just physical cleaning, but also mental cleaning has been occurring. A previous version of myself would be hung up on my past, which would mean I wasn’t moving forward. If you’re not moving at all, you’re moving backwards. Instead, I’ve been practicing and focusing on the future and what God has planned for me. I take life one day at a time, and focus on trusting Him every step of the way. Even if I fall and start to believe the lies that flood in, I take a deep breath and meditate to find my way back to peace.

I’m determined to climb this mountain and make it to this peak. But even when I do, I know there will be more peaks to conquer. Even if I have to go through more valleys, I am determined to keep moving forward. No matter what it takes. The feeling of strength and peace is what keeps me going. Knowing that I can conquer mountains gives me the push I need every day to keep moving.

What keeps you going?

Chicago at night

There’s not much better place than the city I call home at night. Today’s post is a picture post and while I couldn’t find one picture I liked the most, I narrowed it down to two pictures of the city at night.

Being in the city in the summer at night is always my favorite thing to do. These two pictures are different seasons, though. The left is winter and the right is summer. I do get out in the winter too. 😉

What’s your favorite city to be in at night?

Benefits of exercising while pregnant

Note from Jen: I love and agree with this well-written article. I greatly enjoy exercising while pregnant and feel like it helps me cope with all the side effects of growing a human. Enjoy this article!

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Exercising during pregnancy is always a very good idea, and the benefits for you are numerous. Exercise will help ensure that you stay healthy and fit. The healthier you are during pregnancy, the less likely you will have any difficulties with pregnancy. The fitter you are, the easier your childbirth experience will be. It will help you control weight gain during pregnancy and weight loss after pregnancy. It will also help minimize stretch marks.

Most importantly exercise will:

– Help maintain a healthy and steady weight gain for you and your baby.

– Increase your Self esteem, lowering depression and anxiety.

– Help reduce pregnancy related discomfort such as backaches, leg cramps, constipation, bloating, and swelling.

– Help you to recover from delivery and return to a healthy weight faster.

– Accelerate postpartum weight loss.

– Improve your mood, energy level, and feelings about the way you look.

– Improve sleep quality.

– Strengthen your muscles and improve your blood flow.

Exercising does however need to be kept in moderation. If you are someone who has always exercised, then there are a few changes that will need to be made to adapt to your changed body. If you have just started to exercise, then you will need to ease yourself into it.

– If you have been exercising regularly, you will be able to maintain your routine to some extent throughout your pregnancy.

– If you are just starting to exercise you should start gradually.

– Try and exercise at least 3 times a week.

– Stretch, but not too much. Extreme stretching could actually cause more damage than good.

– Try and measure your heart rate constantly during exercise. Try not to exceed 150 beats per minute.

– Hydrate with cold refreshing water before and during exercise.

– Don’t lift heavy weights while pregnant.

– Never exercise to the point of breathlessness.

– Wear comfortable clothing that fits well and supports and protects your breasts.

– Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, pain in your back, swelling, numbness, sick to your stomach, or if your heart is beating too fast or at an uneven rate.

– Choose moderate activities that are unlikely to injure you, such as walking, aqua aerobics, swimming, yoga, or hire a personal trainer with a certification in maternity fitness who can give you a tailored program to suit all your needs and enhance your maternity experience.

Exercising after Birth:

Most women are very eager to regain their pre-pregnancy figures, and women who have exercised through out their pregnancy will gain their figure back much faster than those who haven’t exercised during pregnancy.

As before when you started training or exercising when you were first pregnant, you need to start off slowly. You may only start exercising again once your body has completely healed from the stress of labor. So start slowly, and enjoy getting back the figure you used to have!

Tips for pregnancy

Talk to your health care provider about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Eat foods rich in folate, iron, calcium, and protein, or get these nutrients through a prenatal supplement.

Talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements.

Eat breakfast every day.

Eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.

Avoid alcohol, raw fish, fish high in mercury, soft cheeses, and anything that is not food.

Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Talk to your health care provider before you begin.
After you deliver your baby, continue eating well. Return to a healthy weight gradually.

Slowly get back to your routine of regular, moderate physical activity.
Take pleasure in the miracles of pregnancy and birth.

DEBORAH is a highly respected authority in personal training for overall health and fitness, with more than 22 years of experience and success. Her credentials include…

Currently licensed Registered Nurse specializing in Rehabilitative Nursing
Medical Exercise Therapist: certified by AAHFRP, an internationally recognized physical rehabilitation certification
Maternity Specialist Pre & Post Natal certified by Maternal Fitness
Personal Fitness Specialist: certified by NASM, an internationally recognized certification
Yoga Teacher
Professional Health Member, National Organization of Fitness Instructors (IDEA), a leading membership organization of health and fitness professionals
Deborah Caruana RN, MES, CPT
Email: vitalsignsfitness@gmail.com
Website: http://www.vitalsignsfitness.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Deborah_Caruana/856

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/33153

A dating dare

The year was 2005. I was coming up on the end of my first year of college. And what a year it had been! I started the year out homesick only to do a 180 and find myself not wanting to head home for the summer. After a short-lived long-distance relationship and a failed attempt at dating a fellow freshman, I was going into a long summer in the suburbs very, very single. And my good friend Polina was facing a very similar situation, just home to her was a bit further away in Korea. So she had a genius plan! Whoever could get a boyfriend for the summer (summer fling, anyone) would win the bet. I think it was something silly like 5 dollars and/or bragging rights. But it lit a fire under my butt.

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And that was a fire I very much needed. A push off a long-term obsessively ridiculous love for someone I had never met. Ask me another time about that one. But what happened next wasn’t exactly what I expected. I signed up for a free dating site (I was a poor college student who had just finally picked up a summer job!) and within days was inundated with messages from nearly every eligible man near Chicago (and Bloomington???). After carefully weeding out the very noticeable weirdos, I settled on meeting three guys who seemed the most interesting (or least creepy however you’d like to see it).

I liked the first guy. Actually, almost so much that I nearly considered calling off the other two. But there was two things that kinda threw me off about him that I noticed on the first date. And while they weren’t deal-breakers, I didn’t want to torture myself over the long, hot summer with someone I’d have to settle for just to win a bet. So I met the other two guys.

The second guy was awful. The red flags were burning from the beginning, but by the time I decided to call off the date it was too late. So I actually had my guy friend join us on our date, making it more of a casual hangout session. He still tried to kiss me at the end of the night, which didn’t happen. The third guy caught my eye, and on the second date I fell in love with… his mom. Fast forward, I cut things off with the first guy and third guy asks me to be his girlfriend halfway through summer. I win the dare, I win the bragging rights, and I get to hang out with a pretty stellar guy.

His family is great, and actually one of the first examples I witness firsthand where step families get along and mesh well together. He has a step-brother in California, an older brother his mom had during her first marriage. Her first husband moved on and had another family of his own, and all of them are friends. So original marriage, divorced but remained friends. I didn’t know this level of forgiveness and friendship existed. And it was beautiful.

I liked the guy too, but I think a part of me just grinned and bared it for the gloating rights. I also expected him to dump me and move on once we turned into a long distance relationship. The main reason for that thought was that the only other girlfriend he had was someone who lived a few blocks from him. I was already pushing it being about 25 minutes away, I doubted he would survive with me being 2.5 hours away. But once back at school, he proved me wrong. We worked something out and ended up seeing each other every 3 weeks.

What was supposed to be a summer fling, ended up lasting 2 years and 4 months, y’all. My point is, never label something until you know all the details. I learned the hard way to not just write someone off as a fling. Actually, that might be why to this day I still try to imagine myself being with whoever I’m dating for much longer than just that moment. It tends to get me in trouble. Thanks to the summer dating dare, I now try to see if Mr. Joe could be Mr. Brice (obviously he would take my name bc it is superior lol).

This has bitten me in the butt a few times, most noticeably recently when my mind was about 5 million light-years ahead imagining things actually working out with someone only to have him not even give me a chance and choose someone else. So maybe I have to work on balance. Not just write someone off as a fling but also stop imagining myself walking down the aisle in a white dress with them. At least make it a cool color!