Fruit stands, and why I choose not to date…

Rome, romance…They would seem to go hand-in-hand.  Taking a look at the multitude of tourists who are perma-grinning all over the place all the time here, perhaps they do.  For me, romance is something I am choosing do without (as mentioned in a posting a couple of days back).

It isn’t just the need to focus on my well-being.  It is simply the craziness (to me) of it all.  I have found that dating doesn’t seem to quite exist here.  Many people either seem to be looking for an interesting fling/story…or they are ready to have you cooking and cleaning their houses (notice, I didn’t say marry…because, for some that is not quite what they have in mind). At this point, you may be wondering, D, why on earth are you thinking about this?

(I was attempting to find a video on attraction.  I found Yanni instead.  Makes me smile :))

The answer is that I went to buy some tangerines at the fruit stand today.  What?  Yes, it all happened at the fruit stand, where I was openly solicited by a handsome twenty-two year old, who was being actively encouraged by his older brother to ask me out.

Anyway, after laughing off the matter and abruptly extricating myself from the situation, I went home and began to think about my “dating” experiences in Rome.

And honestly, I haven’t really “dated” here in Rome.  I have met some very interesting people.  Half of whom were too young and looking for a mother/caregiver/advisor person.   The other half were older and looking for someone to dominate and exoticize.  Suffice to say, I saw through all of that easily enough, and have thus remained single.

More importantly, however, these experiences and this episode made me realize that I needed to ask myself a serious question: That is, just what is it within me that is attracting these types of people?  After all, there must be something that I am seeking to have so many of the same types of people come my way.  I am quite positive that there are many eligible, single, socially adaptable, independent, successful, internally and externally attractive people out there in the world.  So, what exactly is going on with me?

Some people may say, Well, D, you are a strong woman.  And strong attracts weak. And to those people, I will say, perhaps you are right, but I am willing to wait for the universe to present me with someone who can recognize the balance of strength and weakness within himself or herself and in others.

So, Mr. Young Fruit Stand Man, thanks but no thanks…I’ve learned this lesson too many times already.  🙂

Until Next Time!

Best,

D.

 

P.S. Excellent quote I found on ViewOnBuddhism.org:

“When we accept the way things are we are able to love everything and everybody. When we are not able to accept even one thing in this world right now, then how could we ever develop boundless love? Lack of acceptance is conflict. Conflict is pain. It is psychological pain. It is a spiritual illness. As long as our hearts are tormented by that pain, we do not have the strength to give our heart to anything and because of that it is impossible to bring about inner awakening. Enlightenment, you see, is just another name for boundless love.

It is almost impossible to practice loving-kindness towards all living beings without addressing, in a meaningful way, the innumerable problems arising in our own lives. It is a contradiction, you see. It does not work. If our heart is tormented because we are not able to accept things the way they are, then it is impossible to open our heart. It is impossible to let go of all of our defenses and embrace others. Therefore we have to constantly practice and deepen our awareness. We have to remind ourselves to accept things as they are. This is pretty much what the teachings called Mind Training are all about. Mind Training in Buddhism is about carrying those perspectives and even reciting slogans, phrases like “I shall accept the way things are.” Anam Thubten, No Self, No Problem

Vision Boards, Love Games & Mechanics….

Knitting gloves, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Typically, I spend my time reading, knitting, doing crossword puzzles, watching old British comedies and cartoons.  You know, all that typically sexy stuff.  😉

Well, I have just completed reading Jackee Holder’s “Be your own best life coach” and decided to try one of her suggestions, i.e. making a vision board.

I will tell you that I’ve been making a valiant attempt at creating my vision board.  I say valiant, because my verbal Italian is not so great and trying to find the right types of magazines at the newsstands here in Rome feels like a mini-trip through hell for me.

This is partly due to the fact that all the magazines are apparently kept… sealed.  Yes, that’s right.  Here in Rome, you need to know what you want. And there really isn’t such a thing as customer service here…. So, don’t expect help.  If you get it, then give thanks to the universe. Of course, this is just my personal experience… You may have a different one if you visit.  So, keep an open mind.

(Photo Newsstand in Campo de' Fiori... They usually aren't smiling. Trust me.) Image taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/arts/05abroad.html

There is no flipping through and perusing the interesting pictures and glancing at the articles here.  And honestly, my Italianish is so not helpful for saying “I need a magazine with diverse representations of people.  You know, women, men, children.  Perhaps even different ethnicities and races might be nice.”

I’ve been offered, however, everything else from cooking to needlework.  As much as I am a fan of all of that, it certainly wasn’t what I asked for.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what is a vision board. The easy answer is that it is a visual representation of the goals/dreams you have for your life.

More recently, vision boards have been associated with the principle of the Law of Attraction (Remember The Secret?), which basically emphasizes the point that what we choose to focus upon in our lives is what we in turn receive.  That is, if you focus on what is negative, then the more negative experiences come into your life, because you are attracting it to you.  The same is applied to the positive.  This definition is highly simplistic and I would recommend that you do your own research on the topic if you are interested in learning more.

Sample Vision Board, found at http://theartisticmom.com/

Regardless of your belief in the Law of Attraction, cutting images out of newspapers/magazines and pasting them on posterboard or whatever sturdy paper available has been practiced by many artists, art educators, art therapists, life coaches and many an adolescent girl for some time now (of course children and adolescent boys too!)

As an art therapist, I see the process of creating art and the final product as inherently self-exploratory and therapeutic.  Thus, it is possible to gain a true understanding of what one desires in life by engaging in such a process as collaging.  Enough said.

So, back to my vision board.  Simply, it’s not happening.  Although I am surrounded by many cut images, and have carefully selected music playing in the background to promote my most creative self… it’s simply not on.  By now, you may be wondering why I am rambling on about this vision board thing… and why it is so important to me.

Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve been searching for magazines filled with lots of pictures with people.  In essence, I am looking for the images that would go in my Love/Relationships sectionThat’s right.  I seemed to have some block against this.  This brings me to my next topic.

Love games & mechanics…

Rome is a city of romance as evidenced by the people who make it a point to makeout next to me in the metro during the day.   I mean, really… I am the last person to have a problem with PDA.   Nor do I have a problem with people who wish to share their personal version of Lady Gaga‘s Love Games at night (again in the metro).  Hey, I really don’t mind seeing if someone is or isn’t wearing underwear as I make my way home to knit…. No problem! 😉

What all of this (including my vision board quest) is revealing to me is that perhaps I find romantic relationships somewhat threatening… (Yes, it can happen to a therapist too ;))  I have somehow managed to put up a wall/block in response to the emotion love and had not realized it until I tried to make my vision board.

Being single again has forced me to examine my past relationships. That is, what I did well and what I need to improve.  This process allowed me to recognize that I had one specific issue that was truly interpersonally and intrapersonally crippling for me.  Even though apparently, some friends were already quite aware… as one said to me a month or so ago,

“D., you’ve really got to work on your professional handicap.  It’s really a liability.”

And I wonder why no one ever to told me before that I was a blatant “love mechanic.”

That’s right.  I spent my time in my relationships trying to help resolve the issues of my significant other perhaps to my own detriment and definitely to the detriment of the relationship.

Even after my friend had made the above statement to me, I still had no idea what he was talking about.  It took reading Lisa Helmanis’ book “Master Dating” and coming across the term “love mechanic” for me to really get what he was trying to say…  That is, if I ever intend to have a romantic relationship of any kind again, I need to give up the behaviour of holding daily therapy sessions with my significant other AND gently suggest outside therapy.  😉

Well, it’s a new year and I’ve got my vision board project with an allotted love/relationship section.  So, who knows what will happen…

Until next time!

Best,

D.

Men… As promised… (part 2 of 2)

"Zed," photography by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

  • Finally, men over 35 are perhaps more ready (read here: financially, emotionally, psychologically, physically… hopefully) to not only seriously consider marriage, but to also follow through with putting a ring on your finger the actual wedding day…

I cannot credit “Ask a Guy” Eric Charles’ responses with providing me with all these lessons.  I also learned a great deal in talking with friends and clients.  I listened to what was going well in their relationships and what was not working as they would like.

I also took the time to read a free kindle book (well, it is no longer free, but reasonably priced) on Amazon.com titled Master Dating:  52 Brilliant Ideas by Lisa Helmanis.  This book gives a wonderfully practical and accessible approach to examining and changing your behavioural patterns in your relationships with men.

As I generally am a just-rip-the-bandaid-off sort of person, I appreciate the author’s directness and clean style of writing.  The book covers issues from self-esteem to dating older/younger men.   My favourite chapters (almost all…) are:

  • Where are you at?
  • Too much information
  • Love mechanic
  • Facing the facts
  • If you meet this man, run
  • Keeping the boyfriend box clear
  • Putting the past where it belongs
  • Why men love bitches
  • The big freeze
  • The phone stops ringing
  • Breaking up is hard to do
  • Getting over rejection
  • Ex alert
  • How to make anyone want you
  • Green-eyed monsters
  • Real confidence
  • Are we there yet

Yes, there are actually other chapters 😉

Keeping promises…

So, what have I learned?  First, writing about men is difficult for me and second, I enjoyed keeping this promise.

No really, what I have actually learned is that like women, men (generally speaking here) want to be in relationships with someone who is whole.  What I mean by that is that they want to be with women, who have health self-esteems, have full and happy lives, and who understand the balance and value of give and take AND space and togetherness in their relationships.

Eric Charles says that men enjoy the chase (I think this was one of the hunter-gatherer references…) So, allow men to DO things for you, rather than you doing things for them.  Allow them to WORK for the relationship… You know, in the past I think we called this courting.

He says, “…it’s very important to get fulfillment, entertainment and love from many different areas of your life, not just from one lone man.

Also, having a full and fulfilling life makes it much easier for you to extend only as much effort towards the relationship as he’s extending.

… whenever you put effort into a relationship with someone, you are investing in them.  Whenever they put effort in, they are investing in you. If you are waiting by the phone for him to call and to make time for you, then you’re probably the only one doing the investing.”

Lisa Helmanis says that women should give to men what is appropriate to the status of the relationship.  So, don’t start by giving to men every possible gift that you can, otherwise what can you do to top yourself?  Holding back giving the best parts of yourself at the beginning means that you have more of yourself to offer later…

She says, “Now think of yourself as an expensive wine, give your next man too much, too soon and you’ll make him drunk with excitement, a bit unsteady on his feet, and then eventually sick at the very sniff of you.  Dole out your loving nectar in well measured portions.  You need to give him the chance to savour every mouthful, and be excited about anticipating the next.”

Perhaps thinking about yourself as something to be consumed might not be your ideal metaphor… So, she also says this,

“Be aware that anything that comes too easy doesn’t seem valuable.”

Until next time!

Best,

D.

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

Men… As promised… (part 1 of 2)

Untitled, photography by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved

I will be the first to admit that I know very little about the not-so-fairer sex.  (Well, the guy in this picture is pretty fair… don’t you think? ;)).  This may have something to do with the for-so-long-queer issue.  It may have something to do with the primarily working with females issue.  I mean, really, my life has been surrounded by women:  from five years living in a convent to three years attending an all girls high school to working in treatment programs for girls.
More recently, however, I have found myself surrounded by, engaged in, and pondering about the world of men.  And oh man (pun intended) it is fascinating… Of course, more fascinating to me is how women, whom I know, view men in their lives and in general.
Want to know about men? Ask a Guy
Since early last year, I have spent time visiting the site A New Mode.  It is a site dedicated to addressing the relevant topics of the modern-day woman, which has nothing to do with me.  Thus, I always go to the only area of interest to me, “Dating & Relationships.”  Why?  Well, it’s as I have stated above, I have spent a great deal more time recently talking about men with women.  Hence, I enjoy reading about dating and relationships, especially if there is a unique and/or male perspective.
And A New Mode most definitely has a perspective that is both unique and male…  It comes in the form of advice columnist Eric Charles in the section titled “Ask a Guy.”
In “Ask a Guy” Eric answers a variety of questions, e.g. “Why is always the girl’s fault?” and he writes special segments titled “Decoding Male Behavior,” in which he tackles topics such as the male perspective on “neediness.”  Of most importance to me is his style of relaying the information he deems necessary for readers.
If you are expecting any kind of sugar-coating, there is none.  He is quite in-your-face about his understanding of male behavior AND why, at the end of the day, women need to learn to accept the men in their lives or… move on.
Okay, so what’s my point?  The point is Eric has taught me a great deal about men (from his perspective).  That is, men…
  • are more action-oriented rather than word-based
  • need space to resolve their issues than “help” (so, don’t try to fix him…)
  • men know how to use a telephone.  Really… they do.  They know what text messaging is and don’t suddenly lose their visual and digital capabilities upon receiving your text messages.  They are simply choosing not to respond.
  • do things one thing at a time… So, if he is reading, he is reading and doesn’t want to be disturbed.
  • men’s concept of time is profoundly different from women.  This goes back to both the action-oriented and one thing at a time issues.  That is, men are less aware of the time that is passing since you last sent that text message, left that voicemail, email, Skype/Windows Live message.  They are focused on getting things done… and responding to you goes in order of sequence. Don’t take it personally.
  • If a man is “into” you (I really dislike this expression), you will know.  Why?  Because he does what he says he is going to do.  Simple.  He calls when he says he will.  He shows up when he says he will.  So… Stop asking him, your friends, your family, random strangers…
  • If a man is not “into” you (I really really dislike this expression), you will know.  Why?  He does not do what he says he will.  Simple.  He may call you sometimes (randomly).  Show up when it is convenient for him (maybe).  He certainly will not be responding in any reasonable timeframe, if at all, to your messages (no matter the format).
  • Men don’t like “needy” women.  Now, let’s clarify that.  I believe “needy” here would be in the category of emotionally insecure and co-dependent women, who are seeking a relationship to feel more stable/more whole/more accepted… etc.  Women who need someone to show them the beauty of who they are.
  • Men don’t like to feel needy.  So, men like to feel in charge of their world, their destiny.  They like to know they can provide for themselves and their loved ones.  I believe Eric mentioned something about our primal days when discussing this issue…
  • Men choose to heal from break-ups in multiple ways.  Some take a lot of time to be alone and sort themselves out while spending time with friends.  Others become quite sexually promiscuous (this brings to mind urban slang “man-whore”… but I dislike that expression almost as much as slut or whore sans man), and drift from one “relationship” to another.
  • Men are not all complete jerks, so don’t generalize based upon your experiences or those of your best friend, sister, mother, next door neighbour…
  •  Men will run from a woman who only, or mostly, reflects back to them the worst parts of themselves (i. e. of the men… I imagine they would run from a woman who was only showing the worst parts of herself too… unless truly sadistic or in saviour mode.)
  • Men experience emotions… too.  You know, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, anger, happiness, surprise, disgust, envy/jealousy, love…

Until next time!

Best,

D

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr