Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Change is coming

A couple of months ago, after reading a post by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), I decided to create a dream board. I was excited about having all of my long term goals and hopes in one place. Something to help me stay focused on where I wanted to my life to go. This is what it looks like today:

You can see its all coming together...I have pictured quite a future for myself.

The problem is, I've been totally stuck. I loved the idea of creating the board, but when it came to having specific ideas to put on the board I drew a blank. When I was younger it was easy.  I knew I wanted to get my college degree, find a good husband, and be a mom. Once I had kids I would be a stay-at-home mom, volunteer at the school and create a nice home. Years later, when my kids were grown, I imagined teaching at a preschool and volunteering, maybe finding time to write. I did not anticipate working full time when my girls were small, running a business, and then ending up divorced. Since then it's a daily battle to keep my head above water. There just isn't a lot of time to ponder dreams and goals. My day starts at 4:30 AM and I collapse around 10:00 PM. But, like it or not, I have to find the time because change is coming...yet again. In one year Kristen will be graduating from high school, I'll be selling the home I love, figuring out where to live and what kind of long term career path to create for myself. And, I'll admit it, I'm scared. The easy thing to do is to NOT think about it. Except, of course, at 3:00 AM when my eyes flip open and it's all that fills my head.

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing a lesson for the young women I teach at church. It had to do with prayer and building a stronger relationship with the Lord. In my reference materials I was supposed to read a few chapters in Ether (Book of Mormon). Now if you have read the Book of Mormon you may be familiar with the story of Jared and his brother and their journey to a new land. You may find that you always focus on the end, when the brother of Jared, under direction from Heavenly Father, builds barges for his family and friends to sail across the sea; but what caught my attention was the middle part of the story. You see, Jared, his brother, their family and friends are commanded by the Lord to leave their village. They pack up their belongings, gather seeds, honeybees, and their animals and begin to travel across the country following the divine directions they are being given. After a long journey they arrive at a beautiful beach where no one has been before. They must have been exhausted. I can't imagine traveling with all of those animals, the kids, the bees...how do you travel with bees? Anyway, they come to this beautiful beach and they settle in. They settle in for 4 long years. I don't blame them. The beach is pretty much my favorite place. It must have been so peaceful. There was probably lots of food, nice areas for the animals...I bet the bees even stuck around. It became easy and comfortable.  After 4 years, however, God had enough. He came to the brother of Jared and chastised him for not turning to Him for guidance any more. God had already told him about the ultimate destination. A land of great promise and blessings, one far greater than even this beautiful beach. After 3 hours, the brother of Jared repented and began again to seek direction from above.

Now my life these past 4 years has not been easy, but I have found comfort in the routine. Enough comfort that sometimes I forget who is really in charge and also forget that I should always be progressing, not just enduring. While there is comfort in this routine, there is also more room for fear and doubt to creep in when I am mindlessly going through each day.

Although the upcoming changes scare me, I have a renewed faith that the Lord is guiding my path. I just need to stay focused on Him. (And I do have a year to prepare.) There is more in store for me than this current beach. Things that may bring me more peace, fulfillment, and happiness. So now I have at least one thing on my dream board.

I'll figure out the rest as I move myself off the beach. ;)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Social Anxiety Induced Mini-Stroke part 2

My social comfort at parties began at a young age.

Kristen and I were out one day and found some calling cards you could give out that said, "Please stop talking." Which got me thinking that what my cousin and I need are calling cards that say:
Please START talking.
 (At some point I'll join in and in a lame attempt at wittiness, say something awkward and disjointed.)
Too long? How about:
Talk. Now. Please?

Yes, I really am this tall. No I did not play basketball or volleyball.
Okay, that one is for my cousin. She is fabulously tall and gorgeous. The two of us going out is like Igor and Giselle Bundchen having a night on the town. I sort of feel like I should be clutching to the hem of her dress while I drag one leg behind me. The fact that she is tall seems to both attract and baffle men. She's quite beautiful, so men come up and talk to her, but can't seem to talk about anything other than her height. Like she has any control of her height. It would be like coming up to someone and discussing the fact that they have arms or legs or a face...or elbows. Let me explain how the conversations usually go...but I'll replace any height reference with the word "elbows."
Man: Wow...you really have elbows.
Cousin: Yes. (Her patience for these conversations is spectacular.)
Man: With those elbows you must play basketball!
Cousin: Nope.
Man: Volleyball? (Clearly thinking..."she has elbows, how could she not at least play volleyball?!")
Cousin: Nope, no volleyball either.
Me: Hey look at me! Look at me! I'm down here!!
OR....there are the men that like to argue with her about her height...again substituting elbows.
Man: You must have more than two elbows...what do you have like three elbows?
Cousin: No...just two.
Man: No, really...You say you only have two but that can't be right.
Me: Here, take this card....it says, "Please stop talking."
I do admit that I'm impressed with their courage to come up and talk to her. I like watching the whole thing unfold. First, they casually walk by from a distance and check her out, and decide whether or not they want to come in for a closer look...which they do, because she's rather amazing. Then the fun really begins. She is busy chatting with me and trying to keep herself from randomly tossing her beverage my way, so she doesn't usually notice the series of ever shrinking laps they take in an effort to get closer to her. There is always the slow circling approach...like sharks, before they come in for the killer conversation. Perhaps my (least) favorite was the man who circled in right up to me and said, "Hey, know any tall blondes?" Which made me realize those "Please stop talking" cards really do have  place in society. Now I could have responded with something witty, but, thanks to my inability to be clever, flirtatious or charming in front of single men, even ones like him, I believe I said something like, "Her?" Your welcome, dear cousin, your welcome.
When people say or do odd things it often catches me so off guard I temporarily freeze or say something unexpected. One day at work a man in the cafeteria ran his fingers through my hair and said something slightly creepy. So what did I do? Just stood there, dumbfounded, thinking, "He is touching my hair! Why is his hand in my hair?" I never actually said anything to him - like, GET YOUR HAND OUT OF MY HAIR! I just stood there. When I was in 6th grade a flasher came up to me and said, "Want some?" to which I replied, "No, thank you." and ran away. On the plus side, all of my mother's efforts to train polite children really came shining through in a crisis....at least I had the sense to run away.
Anyway, I felt like I somehow should have been able to protect her from "know any tall blondes" guy, instead of just mumbling and gesturing in her direction. Especially since he went on to discuss why she couldn't be the height she claimed to be since he thought he was so incredibly tall. (Which he wasn't.) At one point it was all I could do to not laugh out loud as I listened to him explain why she was taller than she claimed. He was quite the debater. Shockingly, this did not help him in the way of getting any kind of contact information for her...so he went back to circling the room.
And so, cousin and I have learned that this is, perhaps, not the venue in which we are going to be making any new friends. Fortunately, I have my genius calling card idea that can fill my non-existent spare time in which I fantasize about having a social life.
On a more serious note, the beautiful thing about my "life is full of miracles" realization (go back two posts), is that I'm not worried about my current inability to have any kind of dating life. Before my paradigm shift I felt as though things wouldn't ever improve...I just had to endure. But now I know that Heavenly Father wants good things for me and the hopes I have will happen. (Some things I thought weren't possible have all ready started to change!) Cousin and I will continue to try different ways to meet people and will eventually find one that fits who we are and the way we think. But, in the meantime, I will keep you apprised of our adventures.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Social Anxiety Induced Mini-Stroke

I spelled my last name wrong today. It is not a complicated name....I've been spelling it correctly for some time now. I haven't had to sound it out or anything. But today, while purchasing some music for my piano students, I misspelled my name. The conversation went something like this:

Me (to the clerk): I'm a piano teacher. (I don't go around telling people this, it just happens to get me a discount at the music store.)

Clerk: What's your last name?

Me: Denney.

Clerk: Is that D-E-N-N-I?

Me: No...I-E.

Kristen: Ummmm....Mom....(she looked both afraid, embarrassed, and amused.)

Me: Oh my gosh! That's not how you spell my name...it's E-Y! I'm so sorry....it's D-E-N-N-E-Y.

Clerk: You are clearly unstable. (Okay she didn't actually say this but I could see it in her eyes...I have gotten this look before.) She gave me a polite laugh and continued the transaction, while giving me furtive glances...checking for any twitching or sudden movements on my part.

I finished my purchase, but had to show ID, probably to verify my identity and to provide a record of the mental patient in the store.

Here is my excuse for spelling my name wrong: I am single. I know that doesn't make sense at first, but come with me on a journey of my thought process and you'll understand. (Wear a helmet.)

I was distracted during the transaction because I was thinking about an LDS church singles' activity my cousin and I are going to attend tomorrow. Thinking about it had me so flustered I either mini-stroked, as all good middle-aged Americans do, or my synapses misfired...or stopped firing completely.

In the past I have written about awkward dates, usually making the man seem like the odd one, but I am completely inept at human interaction with single males. (I'm not sure why I had to specify human...but sometimes it's questionable. Shoot...I'm doing it again.) People that know me don't believe this at first, mainly because a single man in his forties is not usually around when they interact with me. (They are an elusive species.) After all, I am completely comfortable speaking in front of large groups. I enjoy telling stories and can talk to pretty much anyone...unless I discover they are single (and male) and in their forties. I then lose control of my limbs and have the conversational abilities of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Still don't believe me? Allow me to share an example. I was on the elliptical machine at the gym, attempting to chat with a cute guy next to me and I fell off the machine. Yep. Fell off. It has handles and I still fell off. There I was working out, proud of myself for not saying anything stupid when suddenly I realized, "Hey, I'm tipping over." This is the graceful kind of flirting I can put out into the world.

So, anticipating the upcoming social activity, I mini-stroked and temporarily forgot how to spell my own name.

Fortunately, my cousin is equally skilled in her interactions. At one of our previous "singles' activities" she got so flustered she forgot she was holding a cup of water in her hand and ended up throwing it at me. We are quite the unstoppable team. Fortunately, most men never actually discover our awkwardness since we never have the courage to talk to anyone. We tend to stand somewhere on the outskirts of the room and discuss what we would say if we actually peeled ourselves away from the wall. I asked my soon to be 20 year old how to start a conversation with someone at one of these events. She recommended introducing myself, "Hi, I'm Michelle." But I now realize that is too challenging of an opener for me. So, stay tuned, and I promise to let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Life is Full of Miracles

Thanksgiving morning I woke up early to help Kristen get her harp to the church. Each year a devotional, with speakers and an orchestra of local musicians, takes place at our local church. The past two Thanksgivings Kristen has been a part of the orchestra. After dropping her off and heading to the gym I arrived at the church only to discover I would have to sit way in the back. I was surrounded by many empty chairs. Part way into the devotional a 92 year old man came in and sat next to me. He had one of those fabulous crinkly smiles that make wrinkles seem worthwhile. Throughout the program he kept chatting and joking with me. When it was time for the congregation to sing it was clear that he was a singer, as he knew every tenor part perfectly.

As the program came to a close he began to share stories of his life with me. He told me that he had been a music teacher and enjoyed composing his own songs. He said one year he found out he was going to be transferred to a new school and was very disappointed to discover the school he would be teaching at. The music room there was in disrepair and he didn't feel like he bonded well with the students, nor was he having the kind of impact he had hoped for. But he did his best and made sure he taught them not only the concepts of music, but his own compositions as well.

Decades later there was a knock on his door. One of his neighbors had an invitation for him. A group of people had been looking for his home. They knew the area in which he lived, but not which house. They went from door to door asking for him, when this particular neighbor said she knew him and would make sure he received the invitation. His former students from the aforementioned school decided to have a reunion. He had had such a powerful impact on each of them, they wanted to all get together with him and let him know how much he meant to them. He couldn't believe it. They spent the day together and he became teary eyed as he told me about all of them singing the Christmas song he had composed. Every winter they each sang that song and had taught it to their own little ones. What a powerful influence he was in the lives of his students.

He told me that he and his daughter had typed up the words to his song and a poem he had written about his testimony and had them nicely framed. He asked if I would come with him to his car, that he wanted to give me one of each. I followed him to his car to discover that he did not have any copies with him. He asked if I would follow him to his home so he could give them to me.

I told him I would. I had a few Thanksgiving preparations to make and needed to go to the store, but I felt like I should go with him. I called Kristen on my way there and asked her to bring my wallet by his house, figuring I could combine my errand with visiting his home.

His home was humble, and every inch of floor space was filled with framed artwork. His wife had been a talented artist. He began showing me through his home, proudly gushing over each piece of art. She was incredibly talented. "She had more creativity in her little finger than I have in my whole body!" He told me. She had passed away 11 years earlier and I could tell not a moment had passed without him missing her.

Soon Kristen arrived and joined in the fun of looking over each piece of art. He told us what a wonderful life he has had. He said, "I wish people noticed all of the miracles that happen everyday. When I look back at my life I see that it is full of miracles." After quite a bit of time had passed I told him I had to go. He gave me two custom framed pieces - one with the lyrics of his song, the other with his testimony. As I left his home I thought, "What is wrong with me? I should be feeling something more than what I am feeling. I know there is a reason that I have spent the last 90 minutes with this man."

But I felt almost nothing. I wasn't annoyed or irritated. It was clear to me that he wanted someone to talk with, and I was glad I could be that person...but I realized I felt rather numb. I brushed the feelings aside and went on with the day. You see, I had been carefully constructing a little wall around my heart. The idea was to just close off the area involved with finding someone to love who would love me in return. I had decided that I didn't need to have a significant other...a partner. I could find happiness just being on my own. My awkwardness in dating and social situations has been rather astounding, considering I'm normally an outgoing person and my chances of finding someone were not good! After all, people in their unfiltered, unsolicited, misguided way had spent a lot of time telling me why the odds of finding someone was nearly impossible. For some reason they must have thought I was unaware. Some would say that men my age are only looking for a trophy wife, and I didn't fit that bill. Some would tell me about the horror stories of second marriages and how I'm better off. Other people, about a dozen men and women over the past 4 years, knowing I was divorced, have come to me to share the unhappiness they are experiencing in their own marriages. It seemed as if all around me were examples of how cruel people could be to each other. And so, I decided to close off that empty spot in my heart.

The past several years have been extraordinarily stressful, from emotional challenges my children face because of the divorce and from the financial stress I seem to meet at every turn. I feel as though I am the appliance and home grim reaper. I come near something and it breaks down. One thing after another has needed replacing or repairing to the point that I work two jobs to simply stay in my home. A particular drain on resources has been the Loser Cruiser. Our not so loving moniker for the minivan Kristen drives.

A few weeks ago, the Loser Cruiser began hemorrhaging various life-sustaining fluids. We took it in to the shop and awaited the prognosis. Soon the call came....$750. How on earth was I going to afford $750?! I would have to figure it out. Kristen simply had to have a car to not only move the harp, but to get to work. I told them to go ahead and make the repairs. My credit card company loved our co-dependent relationship...I would just be doing my part to keep VISA in business. Later the next day I still hadn't heard back from the shop, and Kristen would be needing to move the harp for another performance. I was growing concerned. On our way to leave the house to run errands I had a small fight with the ottoman and broke my toe. Exhausted, and in pain, I left the house. Kristen and I decided to stop by the mechanics to find out what was happening with the van. I hobbled in and spoke with the mechanic. He told me that as they began working on the engine they discovered a myriad of other problems...which would add hundreds of dollars on to the bill. Much to the discomfort of the mechanic and my pride, I burst in to tears. I started mumbling and crying, "How am I going to do this? I just broke my toe? I just need a break!" and all sorts of other things that didn't make any sense to this cute man just trying to do his job. I pulled myself together, apologized and hobbled back to my car.

That night my Mom called. She could tell I was upset and I told her the whole scenario. She knows that the past year in particular has been full of stress. I told her I felt like I was losing my hope. She told me that I can't lose hope, I must always keep hoping! God has a plan for me and someday all of the struggles will be worthwhile. She said she and my Dad would love to help with the car, that everything would work out. I got off the phone feeling that my parents should not have to take care of their grown daughter. I was grateful, but feeling guilty that they had to share in my burden. In spite of those feeling a small crack was beginning to grow in that wall around my heart.

I realized I desperately had to find help to move Kristen's harp the next morning. I did something I don't usually do...I plastered a plea onto facebook asking for help. Within minutes friends were offering to help drive her or to even loan us their cars. I felt so blessed. Harp transportation was set.

The next day the shop called. The van was ready. I took a deep breath and asked for the final bill. The man told me it would be $370. He said the owner wanted to do what he could to help me out. The poor man had to hear me burst in to tears again. (Did I mention I was at the grocery store?) I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I hurried to get the groceries home and to go pick up the van. As I walked in to the house I saw the framed pictures the man had given me two weeks earlier and all of a sudden I understood that my life was full of miracles. Not just because of this moment, but all of the ways Heavenly Father has shown me his love through a wonderful family and loving friends. You can't build a wall around one section of your heart without cutting off the ability to see God's hand in your life.

The van has since broken down again, but the power of that weekend has not lessened. I am grateful each day that I can see the miracles and tender mercies with which the Lord continually blesses me.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Plea to Boys and their Parents

Twice a year members of my church gather to hear counsel from our Prophet and Apostles. With today's wonderful technology we are able to do this in the comfort of our home....still in our jammies. This morning my 16 year old and I were listening to the wonderful talks when she received a message from a young man..one she thought was a friend. It was a short message, but one that has upset her day and mine. He asked her to send him nude photos. This is the second boy to send her something along these lines in less than a month. Fortunately, I am very close with my daughter and she shared what she had received. She didn't respond and she went about removing him from all social media contact with her.

When a girl receives a message such as this it is not flattering. It is demoralizing. It may be an off the cuff gesture to the young man - but it leaves scars in its place. A girl who receives a message such as this feels violated, and feels as though she should hide, even though she has done nothing wrong. I am so grateful my daughter has the courage to be with me open about her texts, facebook posts, and photos on Instagram. Although I have wonderful parents, when I was sexually assaulted as a teenage girl I was afraid to tell anyone and didn't until I was an adult. I felt worthless and ashamed and so I kept it to myself. Seemingly simple messages such as the ones my daughter has received are an assault to her spirit and well-being, even though they are not a physical assault.

My first reaction to this message was anger, followed by sadness. I wanted to talk to the boy's parents, but wasn't sure where to start. As I looked him up on facebook I discovered that he was not "friends" with his parents or any other adult. Parents have been counseled on a regular basis on the importance of being aware of their child's activities on the internet, and yet there are still kids whose parents have chosen not to follow that counsel. To some teenagers this may seem intrusive, but as a parent it seems wise.

I am also sad because this boy, and the author of the first message my daughter received, are both members of our church. I know the teachings they have been taught, and, to be honest, I hold them to a higher standard. I know that our Father in Heaven loves them both and is a generously forgiving parent. Knowing this, however, does not mean that my daughter will ever spend time with either one of these boys. The first boy who sent a message a few weeks ago apologized to my daughter the next day for his "trashy" (his words) behavior and wanted to know if they could still be friends. My daughter's answer was a simple "no." As a mother, I would not willingly let my daughter spend time with someone who looks at her as anything less than a daughter of God who is trying to live the Christian lifestyle in which we wholly believe.

Parents, please make sure you are monitoring your children's social media behavior and teach them the power of their words. Boys, please understand that how you treat the young women in your life not only impacts them, but it will determine the kind of husband, father, and friend you will be in the future.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Temp Jobs, Car-sickness, Teenagers, and Paradigm Shifts

While looking for a job I have been lucky to have friends in high enough places that I've been able to do some temp work. One such job was working as a receptionist for a few hours a day at an engineering firm. Most of the employees would pass by the reception desk one or more times a day and I would say hi and do my best to learn their names. There was one man that whenever I greeted him would merely look at me and give me the head nod. You know the one. The cool kids in junior high and high school always excelled at it. It's a slightly tilted small head jerk accompanied by an eyebrow raise that said, "I acknowledge your existence....you are excused." I could never get this man to crack a smile, until one day he said to me, "So are you a temp, or a new employee?" I explained that I was a temp, and was looking for a job. He asked me if my background was in reception work (I'm sorry, every time I think of that I giggle...no offense to those who "receive.") Anyway, I gave him a very brief work history and told him which fields I was pursuing. He asked if I had a college degree and was visibly shocked to learn I had two. It was clear that he thought my capabilities were limited to answering the phone and attempting to transfer calls without hanging up on anyone. After this brief conversation he became very friendly and would give me more than a head nod when I said hello. Of course, it could all be in my head, he may have just been shy, or too preoccupied to have noticed me before this - but it didn't feel like that, which made me think of Pioneer Trek. (Go with me...it will all make sense.)

This past summer I had the opportunity to go with the youth from our church on a pioneer trek. The very large group was divided into families and I was fortunate enough to be an Aunt in one such family. (Lisa - you'll be happy to hear they all called me Auntie "M.") One evening, after a particularly long 10 mile day, I was telling the kids some amusing stories from my teenage years. One story, which may be more disgusting than amusing, led to an interesting discussion. First, the story. When I was 16 or 17, the wards (parishes) around Eugene decided to plan a day trip to the coast for all of the 16 - 18 year old youth. I was one of the people on the planning committee, which meant that after our last activity, a dance at a church building along the coast, I had to clean up. By the time I was done all of the people I knew had left and the only car left was a van full of guys from another ward and their leader. They were kind enough to give me a ride home. Sitting behind me was a guy who was feeling very talkative. He was nice, but I was exhausted and really just wanted to sleep. In addition, I had a brutal head and neck ache and kept trying to loosen up the muscles in my neck in the hopes that the pain would go away. He noticed me rubbing me neck and offered to give me a shoulder rub. "Oh, that's okay. I'm fine. Thanks, though." I responded. He, however, would not take no for an answer and the next thing I knew, this stranger starts rubbing my neck and shoulders. This was very awkward for me. How do I nicely get this guy to stop rubbing my shoulders? While trying to come up with a nice way out of the situation, the boy burped and then threw up in my hair and down my neck. Keep in mind that this was the 80s. I had long, huge, naturally curly hair that was particularly adept at catching all of his vomit. It was disgusting...to say the least. We pulled over to the side of the road. We had some paper towels, but no water and I ended up riding the last 45 minutes reeking like you wouldn't believe. We were all on the verge of being sick from the smell. As we finally pulled up to my house and I was scrambling out of the van, the boy said, "I don't suppose I could have your number?" I thought, are you kidding me?! You threw up in my hair! "Um, no." was all I said. Now, here is where the kids I was telling the story to shocked me. The girls were all moaning over how awful it would be to try and wash throw up out of your hair (6 washings - the last with tomato sauce), when 2 of the boys said, "That poor guy! He probably lost all confidence to ask any other girls for their phone number." In the many years since the incident, I never once thought of how mortified he must have been. The kids and I ended up having a great chat about seeing both sides of a situation. Which led me to ponder teenagers....

I get to work with the youth in our ward and absolutely LOVE it. I have done this many times over my adult life, since I seem to lack the maturity to be with the other grown ups. In my years of working with the young women I have noticed a common theme.  Almost all of them go through difficult times where they feel alone, different, misunderstood, and forgotten. They can't imagine that anyone else feels like they do since the other girls all appear to have loads of friends, amazingly together families, and can handle life in general. The irony, of course, is that most (maybe all) of the girls feel the same way inside. I wish there were some way to have an open dialogue so they would realize they are not alone, and that even the most seemingly together girl has moments (or more) of insecurity, doubt, and confusion. I know they would be shocked to learn the number of people who are having the same thoughts and worries they plague themselves with every day - and some of them are adults.

So, maybe I was a little hard on the man I mentioned in my last post...the one who interviewed me for position of wife. While not for me, he clearly was nervous and lost common sense for a few hours one afternoon, something I do on an almost daily basis. Just for a minute today attempt your own paradigm shift. If someone has wronged you, consider what could lead them to act that way....even if you have to wash your hair 6 times.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Triple Threat Girl

Watch out world, triple threat girl is on the loose! Over 40, divorced AND unemployed? It's shocking there isn't a line of suitors at my doorstep. Since the last several years seem to be an experiment in better living through rejection, I thought I would fill you in on the joys that can be found in looking for a job.

Thus far, according to my collection of nicely worded rejection emails, the employed world is evenly split - I am both over and under-qualified for most job openings along the Wasatch front. Somewhere in the vast corporate universe is a small gray cubicle with a tiny little desk that I will actually be QUALIFIED to sit at...I just haven't found it yet. (I don't know why it would be small, tiny and little. I now have this vision of myself attempting to sit at preschool sized furniture while sorting through stacks of paperwork and looking terribly important.)

Searching for a job is actually very similar to online dating. For about 5 months this spring I jumped back in to the pit of hope and despair, otherwise known as match.com. (And LDSplanet - because it's important to have several sources for both hope and despair.) Like a cover letter and resume, you do your best to catch the attention of someone you find attractive...both on screen and in person. It's like screaming "Pick me! Pick me!" in times new roman font. How do you adequately explain how fantastic they are supposed to think you are, all while doing your best to sound humble and approachable? It's a difficult task and one that I hope you get to avoid.

In writing your cover letter, the goal is to be unique enough to stand out amongst the hundreds of other applicants, without coming off as irreverent or dull, overly meticulous or unprofessional. For one cover letter I actually composed a top ten list of why they should hire me. I received a lovely rejection -  they weren't interested, but they thoroughly enjoyed the letter. Not exactly the result I was hoping for. I always feel that if I could just speak to them in person they would actually be interested in what I have to offer as an employee.  I'm almost ready to show up at their office and wait to be seen - even though the ads always state to apply online. Now, if an online suitor just showed up at your doorstep, unannounced, I believe the words creepy, stalker, and police would come to mind. In this area searching for a job has the potential to be different. You could be considered to be a go-getter, confident....or a creepy stalker...please call the police.

Maybe I should add photos to my resume. When I operated a business I received many unique cover letters and resumes. One of the more unusual included two 8x10 glossies of his "guns." I don't mean weapons....I mean his arms - fully flexed and rippled. There was also a photo of him in his speedo, greased-up and spray-tanned for a body building competition. Clearly he didn't understand what we did at The Little Gym - but even to this day I remember him! (Although not in the way he hoped.)
There are many men online that would like a series of full body shots, with the woman sporting a bikini, surgical enhancements, and a tan. I do not have the confidence, nor the "assets" to pull off such a display. Quite frankly, it took all of my courage to simply get back "out there."

Now if you are lucky enough to have a profile that sparks someone's interest you may get an email. This is your foot in the door for a potential friendship - or more. This begins a series of email correspondence that you can conveniently tweak to fit your own agenda. What I mean is, you have no idea the tone of voice, or intention behind what they write - and so you inadvertently create who you want them to be. Some men come across incredibly well in written form - but in person....it's a completely different experience. For example, one gentleman that I exchanged emails and texts with finally wanted to meet. I am confident in most arenas - but dating is NOT one of them. I was very nervous driving to our meeting point. It turns out he was, too.

I sat down at the table where he was waiting and watched him fiddling nervously with the buttons on his shirt. (I truly believe it was a nerve issue - I don't think he was ready to disrobe.) This actually helped me feel more at ease, knowing that he was also nervous. One thing I can do, is get people to relax and start talking...which is exactly what I did. (If you are the interview-ER, for a job - this is very helpful...you wouldn't believe what interviewees ended up telling me!) It was like opening the floodgates. He talked without stopping once for 45 minutes. I didn't even have a chance to interject an "uh-huh or "really?" or "tell me more." At the end of the 45 minutes, he took a long drink and then began the interview portion of the date. "Are you a good cook? I need someone who can cook. I travel a lot and I like a home cooked meal when I'm in town. How about cleaning? I was in the military and I need a really tidy house. It doesn't have to be perfect. I mean, do you leave your clothes on the floor? My last wife left so many clothes on the floor you had to carve a path to the bed."

I never had to answer because he never gave me the chance. Apparently his Diet Coke was extra caffeinated and he couldn't slow down the verbal onslaught I was enjoying. When I told my cousin about this date she said, "Why didn't you leave?" I didn't leave because it was fascinating. It was like watching a train wreck. There's nothing you can do to stop it - and you just can't get yourself to look away. I also discovered, while sitting there with my chin in my hand, what felt like a small whisker. (This confession alone may prevent me from ever dating again.) I became obsessed with wondering if this whisker could be seen...would I get more...was it black...am I turning into a haggard old woman? It kept me entertained while he went on and on about his two, (I didn't know there were two) yes, two ex-wives. At the end of the date he told me how great it was getting to know me. Keep in mind, I had hardly uttered more than a few sentences, so unless he gleaned something from my newly discovered whisker, I'm not sure he knew me any better than before we met. I got in the car, checked out the whisker - it was blonde - whew! Still disturbing, but whew - and drove away. Three minutes after pulling out of the parking lot he called me...just to let me know how fun it was and that he swore he wouldn't stalk me.

I would only be so lucky to have a job interview along these lines. Just imagine if I could get them talking so much that they decided I was fabulously suited for the job and made me an offer then and there. In the mean time, I will continue to enjoy the variety of ways people can turn me down and pray for the day someone is brave enough to see my skills in action. Maybe it will give me just enough confidence to attempt dating again.

P.S. I have also met many nice and normal men....but who wants to hear about that? ;)