October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?

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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!

Dating and the reason I’m taking a break

“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
― Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City

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To channel Candace, I leaped head-first into the dating scene after the divorce in 2017 with the idea that I could find someone worthy and willing to be my boyfriend. See as it had been 7+ years since I was last in the dating scene, I was oh-so-wrong. The closest I got was a guy too emotionally devolved to ever come close to being in a healthy relationship let alone healthy enough being alone. After dealing with him for several months, I finally let go and decided to move on in early 2018.

But my luck in dating has been non-existent. While I’ve had fun, I can tell you that every guy I liked in 2018 ended up ghosting me or rejecting me. And the best date of the entire year? Let me tell you about it.

There was this guy, a regular at the gym where I was working. From the moment I saw him, I thought he was cute. Tall, muscular, and luscious hair. But it wasn’t until we talked and I learned that he was from a town most people wouldn’t know but that I was all too familiar with it that we connected. Several weeks later, I gather up the guts to finally ask for his digits. We agree to go out for coffee on a Saturday afternoon. We meet and talk for several hours, until the coffee shop closes and kicks us out. I head home to walk my dog, but can’t get him off my mind. I somehow convince him to meet up with me again, later on that night for a drink. We meet and have some margaritas, and then head back to his place which just so happens to be within walking distance. When we get there, he shows me around and puts a record on after showing me his collection. He’s an old soul and somehow his points increase.

His room-mate comes home and makes a joke about interrupting something sexual, and the guy laughs and closes the door. But then things get serious, and he tells me that he has to be honest with me. Despite having an amazing day, he’s not looking for anything serious or to even date right now. Despite this not being what I wanted to hear, I was glad for his honesty. And had no regrets, since it was by far one of the best days I had in a long while.

And at least he didn’t ghost me. We’re actually still friends. It’s pretty awesome actually. He’s pretty awesome, and I’m glad I met him. But I’m going to take it as a sign, 2018 wasn’t the year for me to find the right guy, and to start off 2019 I decided to take a break from the dating scene. Deleted all the dating apps (ok I was only on one) and successfully ignoring all the dingbats asking me out. What’s it about pregnant chicks and guys wanting to date them? Is that a thing?

Anyways, so far 2019 has been way better. Feels like a weight lifted off my chest. And I know when the timing’s right, the right guy for me will walk into my life. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my time spent with my real soulmates: my girlfriends. 🙂

Late night thoughts

I have a theory. Or maybe a few of them. All relating to people and their behaviors. This is probably one of the latest blog posts I’ve ever done, but I wanted to write this week and didn’t have time until now.

scale-403585_1920There’s an article I read recently about this amazing couple that lost all this weight together. Like nearly 400 pounds between the two of them over the last two years. I can’t even make this up, it’s like two completely different couples. This story got me thinking about relationships and how they can literally build you up and push you forward, or knock you down and hold you back. This is an extreme case of the former. It’s like together they pushed each other to be healthier and to take back their lives.

Ideal relationships

This is the ideal relationship. We all want someone who will love us no matter what, but will also push us to be better than who we were yesterday. Settling is for dirt; people are meant to grow and evolve throughout their entire life. If we end up settling, we may miss an opportunity because we may not even get to that level to open that door. In my previous relationship, I thought I was with someone who was supportive no matter what. It wasn’t until I wanted to go back to school did I realize that he was holding me back from my goals and dreams.

Unhealthy relationships

Then you have the relationships that knock you down. “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” (The Room). You know, the ones where your partner tells you you’re fat or you’re boring. And somehow, despite all the weight you lose, you’re never good enough. In a way, they can push you to do better, but you’re only trying to do better because the person who’s supposed to be on your team is tearing you down. And you want to prove them wrong. Pretty sure this is unbelievably unhealthy. And if you’re in this type of relationship, the one where your significant other is extremely selfish, please do yourself a favor and leave it. You can do so much better.

Are you in a healthy, ideal relationship? Is your guy or gal willing to support you and push you forward all while loving you no matter what?

What not to say after the first Hello

This past weekend I was out and about much more than I normally am since I had a few extra days off and no marathon to train for. Also, the weather could not be more perfect. I took advantage and explored many areas of the city. I got to see many lights on trees, sip some hot cider at Christkindlmarket, and I even visited my old stompin’ grounds Holiday Club to dance the night away to 80’s hits. While out and about, I also got to meet a few new friendly faces. One in particular struck me as extra-odd and has inspired me to write a little bit about what not to say when you first meet someone.

I’m talking we literally just met, face to face, for the first time. He introduces himself, I already forgot his name, and he starts telling me about what he does and asks me the same. Everything’s fine and dandy, I love talking about what I studied in school or what jobs I have. And I enjoy learning about other people as well; I enjoy networking and growing my social circle. Oh that’s a cool job, I say. I hear that’s a great company to work for.

Then he drops the bomb

The songs didn’t stop playing, the dancing continued on around us, but I took a double look at this guy. What did you just say? You’ve never kissed anyone before? You’re a virgin? How old are you? And why are you telling me this? Of all things, to a perfect stranger.

But then again maybe it’s how he weeds people out. Perhaps there will be one person out of a hundred or a few hundred who’d be like “OH me too!” Okay, maybe more like one out of a few thousand. I know because I’ve been in his shoes. Or close. I was a virgin for a long time (many years), and I also was waiting for marriage (yes, that’s what he told me). But I don’t think I walked around at a bar telling people that. It’s just not a topic that comes to mind when I first meet someone. I’m thinking that’s something that shouldn’t be addressed until you establish and both agree on dating exclusively. Not sure if he thought there was a chance of dating or not, but whatever chance there was burned up once he told me that.

And me, being the ultra-honest female I am, gave him some pointers and feedback afterwards. I told him in the future to keep the facts of his sex life private upon first meeting someone. No one needs to know your entire life story after saying hi at a bar or in a social setting. Not sure he appreciated the feedback, but I told him I was trying to help him out. For the next time he meets a beautiful woman. 😉

You’re welcome!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard upon meeting someone new? I know this doesn’t just go one-way, and that it can be applied to men and women alike.

Relationships and compromise

Because without compromise no relationship would ever work out, today we are going to talk about how much of yourself you truly have to give up to make that “perfect” or (in reality) not so perfect relationship actually work. This is a perk of my always-thinking (read: overthinking) mind and also has been inspired by other people in my life who have opened up to me in regards to their relationships.

Self Love

A lot of us, as humans, are selfish. At the end of the day, we only have ourselves to rely on and love. And self-love is very important! Actually, if you don’t love yourself you won’t be able to properly love someone else. It is nearly impossible. So the very first thing you must learn to do is love and respect yourself. Without that, the relationship will consume you. You know, that “perfect” relationship with the “perfect” guy or girl. It will chew you up and spit you back out. It will destroy you, if you let it. But defend yourself with the proper mindset and it will help you grow and become a better version of yourself.

But on the other side of the same token, if you’re too selfish and focused on yourself that relationship will shrivel up and die. And you’ll be left with just yourself again, wondering what went wrong since you seemed to be doing fine the entire time.

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You have to find the right balance between yourself and your significant other. You have to compromise the right amount, and spend the right amount of time together (growing together) but also still have time for yourself and your hobbies/passions. And sometimes those passions and hobbies will overlap, but you still have to have your own interests so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the other person. As humans, it is important that we feel a few things as listed below.

  • Unique. We want to feel special, like there is no one else like us.
  • Loved. We want to feel wanted by others, their love validates us that we are lovable.
  • Strong/Independent. We don’t want to feel weak or that we have to depend on someone else to live our lives the way we want to.

But what about me?

With all this in mind, there will be sacrifices and compromises that we will have to make to be with someone. While the idea of there being “the one” perfect person for us is nice, it isn’t true. Instead of hoping/waiting for the perfect person to fit ever so perfectly into your life, you should create a list or two to help narrow down your choices (plenty of fish) so that you can find someone to work towards having a healthy relationship with. The lists that I created that have helped me are the two below:

  1. A list of ten deal-breakers. If the guy I’m dating doesn’t meet all ten, I move on.
  2. A list of red flags. Everyone has luggage, no one is perfect, but after going through my marriage, my husband cheating/living a double life, and my divorce I learned which red flags I won’t accept. If these pop up, bye felicia.

Are you in a healthy relationship? One that helps you be a better person? If not, perhaps you should make these lists and re-assess that relationship and what you’re looking for in a significant other. Feel free to comment below your deal breakers or any red flags that make you leave. And let me know if you’d be interested in my lists I’ve created for my next relationship.

Orange you glad I met ya?

Writings from the other side

I’ve been dealing with a few thoughts lately that have been coming at me from the other side. Bear with me.

“No offense Jen, but I’d never marry someone who’s divorced.”

How I remain unoffended is another story for another time, but what about being divorced makes someone undesirable? Why is it an instant red flag situation? And if this is true, why did I marry a divorced person? Where were you 4 years ago as I was tying the knot with the devil himself?

I guess if I had that mindset, then I would’ve never gotten married in the first place and I would have less baggage. A less red red flag. Or maybe I’d have more. Who knows. A part of me thinks the marriage kept me out of trouble though. And it taught me a lot.

It taught me that just because I know how to love unconditionally and trust someone doesn’t mean everyone knows this. Also, while I saw a glimmer of hope and felt loved by my ex, it was fleeting as once things got hard, he ran away. But only partially. I learned that some people can literally live on lies, and create two separate lives based on these lies. A part of me wonders if there’s an app for that: keep track of all your lies app.

I also learned how to love myself. By being discarded, I found myself and finally see how much I truly am worth. I found not only my legs, but my entire body, mind, and soul all came in sync with each other. Enough to not just run my first marathon, but also to start a whole new life that I never thought I’d have. Finally, I am happy to be on my own. I am getting comfortable in my independence and freedom in this new world.

But there’s that nagging voice inside my head. What about my future husband, if there is one? Another marriage? I mean, if I can find a guy willing to roll the dice on me (since I’m so unwanted). Please note the tone of sarcasm in this last sentence. But for real, if and when I do decide to potentially marry again, what does this mean for me? And for the man I decide to take a chance on?

There will be demons that I will have to fight. I’m actually already fighting them now, way before even considering marrying again.

Am I good enough? Will I be good enough for someone to marry? Will someone love me the way I deserve to be loved? Unconditionally and until death? The way marriage is supposed to be. Will I be able to trust someone enough to take the plunge again, after everything I’ve been through? They say better to have loved and lost than to never have loved. I find comfort in that and I agree with it. Which is really hard to say because I was really hurt, for a very long time. Longer than I’d like to admit. Some days I still hurt a little over it, but everyday is getting better as I find my strength and courage to push forward and move on, one step at a time.

One thing I have learned is that until I am completely over what happened to me, and completely happy with myself, I won’t be ready to even entertain the idea of marriage. I know this time is the time that I need to focus on myself and my relationship with the Lord. My strength and courage come from Him. He has opened so many doors in my life it’s overwhelming. He has answered all of my prayers, and has given me more than I could ever even imagine asking for. One year ago he freed me from the hell I was living in, and he answered my prayer by having my friend invite me to her church, which is now my church. And that was just the beginning.

IMG_20170923_104230I’m not perfect. I will likely always have doubts and those voices in my head that I must battle. But I know what I deserve, and I strive to be the best person I can be. I know my ability to love, deeply and unconditionally. And I feel that same love from Jesus, so at the end of the day even if I end up being alone (and with 30 cats) I will be just as happy as I would be with someone. I don’t find my worth or happiness in others (if I did then that comment above would affect me way more). Instead, I find my happiness within me and my joy in God. He brings me everything I need and even the things I don’t realize I need. He goes above and beyond to show His love to me. And it’s indescribable.

So to my future husband, if you exist, if you’re reading this then you can see that I’m a work in progress. But aren’t we all? All I ask from you is patience and love. If you choose to love me, I will choose to love you. Everyday. For the rest of our lives.

But until then, I’m going to enjoy the shit out of life with my fur babies, my friends, and my family. I’m going to run marathons, or maybe just half-marathons (they’re much easier!). I’m going to lift weights and practice yoga. I’m going to not only attend but also provide help at my church. I’m going to spend time in God’s word and grow with Him. I’m going to enjoy my alone time as much as my time with others. And I’m going to heal myself. I choose myself everyday, which may seem selfish, but I know it’s necessary during this season in my life.

All I can say is I’m worth it. We’re worth it. And with God anything is possible. Always and forever.

With love.

Jen

Dating in 2017 – a mental shift

Dating is dead, or so they say. In my opinion, it’s not completely dead, it has just changed into something very different compared to when I started dating many years ago. Back in the day, guys used to try. I remember my first date like it was yesterday. The nerves, the effort, the flowers (kinda), the missed first kiss, the sweaty palms. Wait, am I talking about a date or a sporting event? Oh, that’s right, this was when I was a teenager and dating in high school. Pretty sure I was way too nervous to even talk to boys at that point. So let’s fast forward to college.

In college, I was still weird (actually this never changed) so after a short but sweet long distance relationship, I turned to what was a new way of meeting people: dating websites. Even though I met people unconventionally, I still got to know them the organic way: through phone calls and dates/hanging out. And they still tried their best to impress me, or at least create a good time. Going on dates was fun. At one point, I met three different guys in the span of a week. Despite feeling like I had endless options (plenty of fish, anyone?), I settled on one of the three and ended up in a long term relationship with him.

Fast forward through even more awkward dates, some guys I met face to face, others also through the magical internet, I always appreciated the effort when a guy would try to actually court me. Not just bring me to Starbucks, but to actually plan something out like a nice dinner, or a local musical or concert. When they paid attention to what I like and executed a successful date based on similar interests we shared meant a lot to me. I actually have developed a similar skill where once I start to get to know someone, I pay attention to what their interests are and try to plan dates and events that would interest them.

Sometimes I feel like I can be a little aggressive though, and sometimes this backfires on me. There are many guys I’ve scared off due to my straight-forward, no-nonsense personality. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that if a guy can’t handle me, it’s his loss.

But with the new age dating, and the popularity of dating apps, dating has turned into more of a game. With the endless swiping you can do, it definitely feels like there’s an abundance of eligible single people out there. Some days I feel like I can swipe for ages, but never actually find anyone or anything interesting. It makes me yearn for the older days of simple dating. I just want to get to know someone. Someone who’s willing to get to know me, and try to court me as I try to court them. Make it a more even playing field, guys don’t always have to take the lead. But once in awhile, it’s nice to not have to wear the pants all the time. 🙂

What are your thoughts on the current dating scene? Are you dating or just laying low? Are you in a relationship? Or married?  Also, this image sums me up pretty well:

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