Friday, December 2, 2016

Ketchup, Christmas, and You

Back in the day, when there were three regular TV channels and about five somethings called UHF channels, there was a commercial for Heinz Ketchup that used the Carly Simon song "Anticipation" --look it up on YouTube, kids -- to express the idea that Heinz ketchup was really good and worth waiting for (despite being a viscous solid that took forever to exit the bottle).  The anticipation was culinary agony, but the resulting ketchup was worth the wait.

I find that anticipation is terrible, but usually not worth the emotional lather that we work ourselves into prior to an event.  For example, if you have ever been on a blind date, the anticipation and time leading up to the date leaves you wondering who this person is, is he tall enough, is he funny, will it be all about him, will he think I am beautiful (well, duh), will I get spinach stuck in my teeth -- so many worst-case scenarios run around inside your head.  Then the actual date occurs and it was not even a small percentage as bad as you thought (hopefully).  NOTE:  I am actually trying to set up two friends on a blind date right now.  I think they are both lovely people and if they are reading this, they should not get freaked out about their possible date because it's going to be amazing.

But I digress.

Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, right after Valentine's Day.  Thanks to the Hallmark Channel, every major retail store, Norman Rockwell, and even the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, people build up this idea of what Christmas should be like.  Newsflash:  There are a lot of amazing families and there are a lot of dysfunctional families.  If you have this picture-perfect idea of what Christmas should be like, you can either adapt it to what you can do and enjoy it, or you can set your expectations unreasonably high and get disappointed when no one wants to wear matching Christmas sweaters.

In the now 23 days before Christmas, let me encourage you to greatness with Terri's Simple Steps to Christmas Happiness:
1)  Have a heart to heart talk with your brain.  Come to grips with what your situation is and figure out the best plan of action with what realistically can occur.  Maybe you know that your (insert family member here) is (insert life situation or feelings here) and that is unlikely going to change before Christmas.  So what can happen that will let you enjoy Christmas and enrich that situation as much as possible? There are about a million ways this can go, so my advice to you is accept your situation and work around it.
2)  Do what is going to help you enjoy the holidays.  Put up a tree.  Don't put up a tree but hang garland on the mantel.  Hang lights. Don't hang lights.  Make cookies.  Decide no cookie will pass your mouth.  Buy a beautiful Christmas wreath.  Call your college friends.  Send out Christmas cards a week late. 
3)  Get out and help someone.  Christmas is about giving.  There are 23 days in which you can visit friends, volunteer at your church or local homeless shelter or humane society.  If you are anticipating a tough Christmas, get out and do something for someone else.  I PROMISE  that this is the best way to feel better.

So, keep in mind that ketchup is red.  Christmas is red and green.  You can be red-y (get it? ready?) for Christmas by not letting anticipation take over.  Enjoy where you are every day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

10 Ways to be the Perfect Guy

I'm an expert.
If you add up the years I dated, got married, and am now available to date again, you're looking at 34ish years of experience.  I'm not going to count my kindergarten boyfriend Wesley or my third grade love John or my fifth grade crush Tim.  But I think my collective experience makes me an expert kind of like how a doctor becomes proficient in his or her field.  Lots of practice.

I am fortunate enough to know a number of men who have outstanding qualities that I admire each of them for -- and thus, my list.  Note:  inclusion in the list does not imply there has been a romantic relationship, just admiration for a particular quality.

GUYS-- If you want to be absolutely irresistible to women, take my advice and work on the following:
1)  Be totally reliable and trustworthy. 
My friend Tom, even though we've never dated, is so admirable.  Our joke is that I am a damsel in distress and he is the knight in shining armor that invariably has rescued me on more than one occasion.  He just does things to completion and never complains even when he probably has the right to.  Once I described my location of distress as "down this road about halfway,  before you get to the stop sign."  He found me.

2) Be in the moment.
My friend Godwin is amazing in that when I am talking to him, he completely acts as if there is nothing else that exists in this world except listening to me.  And, much like Tom, we have never dated.  But I appreciate that he is listening to me and paying attention to what I say.  He may actually be thinking about lunch or traffic, but he never lets on.  Seriously.

3) Don't be too good looking.
Now, at first read this may seem like a strange inclusion in a list for a perfect guy.  Why would I purposefully not date someone outrageously attractive?  Ask Scott and Omar and Jimmy.  If a guy is too good looking, especially when they are my age, they tend to think they are all that and don't value people that are not as incredibly good looking as they are.  I can think of one exception and a few more that I could add but they may read this and I don't want them to know that I think they are TOO hot.  But if you think I am talking about you, you're probably right.

Now don't take this as license to not care for your beard/moustache or to not put effort into how you present yourself to the world.  Nobody likes a long nasty beard that has not been touched since the ark.  Let your confidence make you attractive.

4) Be honest.
My friend Vann is so brutally honest --harsh honest, but good honest.  I do not get away with anything in our conversations because basically we've known each other for 30 years and he gets me. He is also in the never-dated status, but it's not because I haven't "indicated my interest," to put it mildly.  When I asked him about what makes the perfect guy, he said a lot of good things but this was not one of them, kind of strangely enough.  But if I really need the answer to a question, Vann's the man.

5) Be a spiritual leader.
I know several men I could mention here, some I have even dated.  But a challenging spiritual leader, is something a woman would want because you want to be challenged and poked and prodded a little, as well as be encouraged to greatness.  I won't say his name because I know it is his preference to not be named in a blog like this.  Obviously, he's also super humble.   But it's important to have someone who will ask you the hard questions and help you work through them.

6) Be funny.
Be your own brand of funny.  I'm going to pick on my amazing son, because he is so funny and makes people feel at ease in any situation.  He has the worst puns.  Like, the WORST puns.  But his delivery and commitment to the joke is pretty awesome.  He reminds me a lot of my amazing brother who is also very funny too.  Obvi, never dated but we've spent a lot of time together.  :)

7) Be complimentary.
The secret here is to know how to go the distance.  Anyone can shuck out compliments on the first date, but how about on your first year anniversary of dating?  After you've seen her with no makeup and sweaty and maybe even after a week with the flu.  Where's the compliment?  Once I was on a date in the heat of summer and it was an outside event.  I was seriously sweating buckets and I am sure that my makeup had melted off, but this guy leaned over and said, "You are so pretty."  Now, barring heat stroke, that was a pretty gutsy statement to make.  But it had to be from the heart and I have remembered it.    So think up compliments ahead of time that you can pull out of your adoration arsenal at appropriate times.

8) Know how to take a girl on a date.
One of my biggest beefs with dating is the guy response, "I don't know, what do you want to do?"  I'm proposing that up until at least date #5 that the guy have the date planned out.  And then even after that, guys should have a plan on the back burner.  The number one spot for this is a tie between Todd from my college days and Tony.  What a treat to open the door to flowers and the occasional gift!  That is very swoon-worthy.

9) Have a firm grasp on integrity and fidelity.
If you are dating seriously, with the idea of marriage as the goal, neither of you should doubt the other's integrity and fidelity.  If you are dating seriously, then past dating relationships should never be part of the equation.  If you are not feeling it, get out.  If you see a future with this person, you should prioritize them and the relationship.  Just saying.  And if you find yourself not answering the texts of someone you are seriously dating, or letting their calls go to voicemail, you got a problem.

10)  Most important:  Be yourself
All of these wonderful guys I have mentioned truly are wonderful.  Perfect?  No.  But I wouldn't change any person to make him fit a list of top 10 dating must have's I created in my mind.  There are so many great guys out there that have outstanding qualities  and are so amazing in their own way.  So here's a plan:  know what are A FEW non-negotiables for you (and this should refer to general character qualities, not like, "drives a hot car") and work from that.  Get to know people with similar interests.  Enjoy having opposite-sex friendships.

So there's no perfect guy and no perfect woman, at least as far as list-making goes.  I would like to thank all the guys I've ever dated for helping me come to the realization that people are so different and very special and sometimes lacking character and sometimes are like onions you have to peel back a layer at at time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

6 Ways the South Can Change the Post-Election World

All of my life, I have been part of a very Southern family, with all of the good and bad that comes with that.  I've strung tobacco on a stick to be hung to cure and worn taffeta crinolines that swish when you walk. I've churned butter and been to a cane grinding. I've witnessed racism and experienced the greatest levels of hospitality.  Through all of this, I'm very proud to be an American.

I love that people put their hands over their hearts during the national anthem.  I love the spirit of the American people that brings them together when life gets really tough.  I love visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and seeing the lone guard that stands watch over it, symbolically memorializing those that have been lost in battle but not forgotten.

With a President-Elect chosen, there are likely to be changes and some will affect how you live. 

There are countless problems in our country, and I could easily list what I believe the top ten without stopping for breath.  But I explicitly believe that there's a lot from my Southern upbringing that can help and go a looooooooong way with a lot of the problems we have as a country.

I'm so glad you asked;  here they are.

1) Say "Bless your heart" more often. This is a phrase best used when  you truly feel empathy for someone, but can also be used when, although you are tempted to be critical about something that truly does not matter in the big scheme of life, you hold your tongue and instead use this phrase.  I formally give all non-Southerners license to use this phrase. Go ahead, try it.  It's truly liberating.
2) Be nice.  A phrase that goes a long way is "Pretty is as pretty does."  Do nice things and think about how you can be thoughtful.  Can you let that car in front of you in traffic?  Yes ma'am/sir.  It is not going to keep you from getting to your destination any less quickly.  Can you hold a door?  Smile at someone?  Yes. 
3)  "I reckon."  Or, I suppose, I think, I imagine, I guess.  Get involved in actual conversation with people and ask them about themselves, share about your life, figure out a reason why.  For anything.   A lot of great ideas have come from being jotted down on the back of a paper napkin -- do you know why?  Because people sat down and talked.  Also, hearing other people's stories often will make you either realize you have it pretty good, or that you're not alone in what you're going through.
4) "If the good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise,"  meaning that I will do something unless there is a major catastrophe.  The lesson here is to do what you say you are going to do.  Follow through.  Let your word, or your promise, be worth something.
5)  When you are "worn slap out,"  rest.  And want to hear a secret?  You can actually stop before then.  Life in the 21st century is so busy.  There are so many expectations and people are overcommitted and no wonder people are so angry -- they're tired.  Work hard 6 days, then take a complete day to rest and reconnect with the God who loves you and with people you love.
6) Go to church.  You can go to any number of churches, but look for one that not only shares the truth of the Bible but really cares about people.  One that is truly a hospital for the hurting, not a country club for the "could care less."

Are these six things going to balance the budget?  Reverse the trade deficit?  Unlikely.  But they can help us start on some problems we can fix.  Start now and you will like what you see.  Just don't wait until the cows come home. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Friends IRL

I have a delicious friend, and I say that not because I put her into a 350 oven for 15 minutes with some chocolate chips, but because she is always the first to think of good hostess-y things to do.  Once I stayed at her house and she put some Hershey kisses, a personal favorite, on the bedside table while I wasn't looking.  What a treat to find those when I went to bed that night!  

This post is about real friends, or as the title would imply, friends in real life.  (I feel a little hip and cool using it as IRL.  I think that's what the cool millenials are doing now.)  

How valuable is a good friend!  Spending time with another woman who gets you and your ADD, or your crazy love of impulsiveness, or your inherent need for rules, balances your wild ideas with practicality, or even a common love for coffee; a friend who will get that crazy inside joke from that time when you did that thing.  

For example, same delicious friend found the opportunity to move with her work and we proceeded to have a garage sale IN her apartment, which I do have to say was street level.  There are so many stories from that day, from a bus driver who parked a whole bus load of people outside while he shopped to a poor cat that had a "cat not for sale" sign inadvertently matted in her tail fur.  ( I seriously had no idea that the cat would try to get it off and get it stuck in her fur by trying to get this very helpful sign off.)  Every time my friend and I bring this up, or see a funny cat video (which, by the way, i wish there were more of on the Internet...said no one...) we might call each other and say Wasn't That The Craziest Day and How Funny.

By this time, you may be saying, "That sounds all great for you, but not for me."  I'm also going to guess that some excuse that involves time is brewing in your mind.  
Time is so key.  
Time for your spouse, time for your kids, time for your friends.  I'm not saying it's an easy juggle, but a very necessary one!

Could you:
Meet someone for lunch
take coffee to someone 
write a note 
plan a girl's night
have some couples over for game night (popcorn not optional)
take a kid out for a walk after dinner
spend time in carpool asking get to know you questions you got off the internet
make or buy baked goods for your neighbor and take them to him/her/them
Stop by your brother's house on the way home from work
Go window shopping with a great girlfriend who needs to talk 

Are you getting my point?  Doesn't have to involve spending money; does involve talking.  Like real talking with your mouth and sound comes out. (Possibly laughter.)  The joy that comes from being with another person is unmatched: to see their responses without the easiness of hiding behind a text; to truly laugh out loud; to let your words and facial expressions be the emojis and to not use a pound sign to lump experiences into just a few words, #friendgoals. 

Romans 12:10 says this:  "Love each other with brotherly affection.  Out do one another in showing honor."  So it's basically everyone's job to be a good friend, to reach out past a text and make a date to spend time together. 

You know, like friends IRL.

Friday, September 16, 2016

5 Huge Mistakes To Make If You Meal Prep

For the last five months, I have been meal prepping.  For the half of the world that may not know what this is, meal prepping is basically planning ahead and cooking ahead for a few days, a week, or a month, depending on how crazy you are about planning and organization and how much freezer/refrigerator space you have.

I have also learned the hard way that there are some things you do NOT do in the process.  Gentle reader, I would like to spare you the mess and the clean up and the "A-HA!" moments that were little unwelcome surprises for me, much like when you show up to an event "dressy casual" and it's actually pretty close to "evening formal." So here are the mistakes I made and how you can avoid being cut-off shorts in a sequin world.

1.) Mistake:  Buy 1 package of containers.
If you are prepping for a week, you will need a plastic or glass container for every meal you prep and then smaller ones for snacks PER PERSON and then larger ones for prep-day cooking leftovers that you want to freeze.  So having 4 sandwich -size containers is not going to cut it.
LOTS of containers

2.)  Mistake:  Go to the store to figure out what to make this week.
If you are doing this to be more organized and have more time and save money, you are literally shooting yourself in your proverbial foot if you do not plan your meals and snacks before you leave the house.
My fitness encourager/coach told me to PICK TWO.  This means you pick two meals to have for breakfast, two meals for lunch, two for dinner.  Alternate them during the week, she says, but I am just boring enough that I don't mind eating the same thing a few days in a row.
Make a chart with days of the week on the top and meals.snacks on the side.  If you're feeling adventurous, get input from your kids or husband or roommate.
BONUS TIP:  Check and see what's on sale at your grocery store and plan your meals around that.  Like you do not want to have an avocado-heavy week when they are two for $3.00.  That is no bueno.  Wait until they are ten for $10.00.

3.)  Mistake:  Try out new recipes that look good.
Okay, this may not seem like a mistake.  Sometimes it is not a mistake.  But I can tell you now if you make a lunch or a dinner that is GROSS, you have just wasted your effort and money.  And you have gross lunches for three days.
If you want to try a new recipe, make, like, a half recipe on a day when you have time to cook.  Let your food-prepping constituents try it out.  You really need 100% agreement on this.  Take my word.

4.)  Mistake: Lose your commitment to meal-prepping halfway through the week.
If you are meal-prepping, what is your WHY?  What is the motivating factor that makes you WANNA?  You are going to need to hang on to this when you have co-workers go out to lunch on a whim, when you are tempted to spend money going out, etc.  If your motivation is saving money, then physically put money you would have spent in a jar.  Watch how much money you are saving.  (And, of course, actually save this money.)  If your motivation is your health, have a favorite meme or saying or motivational quote to help you push through wanting a Hardee's Extra Lardburger.  If you are going to do this meal-prepping thing, do it already and don't wimp out.

5.)  Mistake:  Leave containers in the car.
Oh, thank you Jesus that I have bought plastic containers I can throw away.  More than once I have left a container in the trunk or elsewhere whose temperature reaches HOT and the resulting stench and mess is more than a person needs.

Live long and prosper.  And meal prep.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yes You Can! 10 Encouragement Challenges for Families, Singles, and Teens

Who doesn't like to hear a good word about themselves?  I don't know of too many that don't!  Ironically, the people you spend time with the most are less likely to hear an encouraging word from you.  They should be the ones getting the brunt of your crazy encouragement superpowers!

Here are 10 Encouragement Challenges for just about anyone, but especially families, best friends, singles, and teens.

1.  On your commute to school or work, tell everyone in the car one thing that you sincerely like about him or her.  Then, everyone agrees to say at least one nice thing per hour to those at work or school until noon.
2.  Keep a stack of post-it notes at the place where you eat.  (Hopefully, this is a table.)  At breakfast, write down a number that will be your goal for how many times you plan to smile at people today. Put it in your place and check it when you eat dinner.
3.  If a special birthday is coming up, use a dry-erase marker or post-it notes to decorate the birthday person's bathroom mirror with favorite verses, funny inside jokes, and other messages of happy.
4.  At stores, sincerely compliment the cashier at least once.  Maybe it will be, "I like your hair" or "you are very quick at scanning" or something that is personal to him or her.  Smile when you say it.
5.  Cook food with the intention of taking it to someone.  Maybe it's cookies for a helpful neighbor, a meal for a family whose mom is very pregnant or sick, or a cup of coffee.  When was the last time someone in your family made your coffee and brought it to you?
6.  If you are a parent, use nothing but emojis to text a message of love to your child.  If you are a child, show your parent how to use emojis (if they don't already use them all the time).
7.  Take a moment to physically talk to someone on the phone.  Call him, and leave a voice message with a kind thought.  Do this every day for a week.
8.  Use your facebook or Twitter account to express something about your spouse or child that the world may not know.  Of course, discretion is needed, but tag your spouse or child so that their friends can see how well-regarded they are by you.
9.  Use household chores to show love!  Do something that your person either does not like to do or something that your person has really wanted done for some time.  This could be as simple as buying a wall calendar and putting it up or cleaning that cabinet that the honey spilled in back in 2014.  (Yes, this is true to life experience.  LOL)
10.  Saving the best for last:  THE $5 DATE:  Set a date night (or day) and set a budget of $5.  Go to a shopping center, mall, thrift store, etc. and spend two hours together spending that $5.  If you spend it up in 20 minutes, then you have 1 hour and 40 minutes to sit and talk.  Ask your person what their dreams are/goals are/most recent favorites are.  Don't bring up anything that will start a fight or annoyance. 

I challenge everyone that reads this post to take at least one of these encouragement challenges this week!  Respond in the comments how it went!  Some of this may seem silly, but when you intentionally invest time and energy into people, you are being an encouragement.  Way to go!!!!!

Have an amazing week and remember that you are loved like crazy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Letter to Lack of Simplicity

I think we started out with the right intentions, but I gotta tell you that things have gotten pretty screwed up. It seems like people live for what seems to be and not for what is right now.

Women spend hours looking at the internet and pinning things that they never plan on making or doing or that glorify the thigh gap, which is very un-mermaidlike IMHO.
 I personally have pinned many things on Pinterest, but it's funny things or inspirational quotes or things I actually have done, like recipes for a graduation party or decorating ideas for a 75th birthday party.
On the topic of Pinterest, why, if it is not picture perfect (like on the picture on the Internet), then is it a "Pinterest fail"? There's even whole websites for Pinterest fails.  I've seen some, and I can tell that the intent and the desire was there, but the interpretation needed more practice.  But not a total fail.
But here's the thing -- why does everything have to be perfect?  Why does a one-year old child need a birthday party with coordinated invitations, decorations, and  themed food?  I know of a woman, a single mom, who went to great expense and effort to create such an event for her one-year-old.  On the day of the blessed event, she was so stressed that she forgot to enjoy the party.
So I vote for slowing down, not trying to out-do the last thing you went to, and enjoy people more.
And why not send a hand-written thank you note every now and then?  I recently spent a lovely weekend with a friend who has a beautiful house on the water and she was a gracious and accommodating hostess.  That needs a hand-written thank you note.
And whatever happened to the dinner party?  It doesn't have to be one of crystal and china, but how about inviting some people over, eat some food together, and enjoy an evening of conversation and fun? 
Since I am on a ranting streak now, how about being a friendly neighbor?  That seems to have gone the way of the telephone booth. 
Wear the same clothes for a few years, of course replacing as things wear out. 
Remember birthdays, and not just on Facebook.  Bake a cake-- yourself.  Take it to the birthday person.
How about making it a priority to say please and thank you?  Those are very pleasant words that no one minds to hear. 
Listen to an eight year old tell a joke.  With no perceivable punch line. 
Ask someone aged seventy or older to tell you a story.
Calm down in traffic.  You're all getting to the light at the same time anyway.
Accept yourself for the amazing person you are.  No one has to look like a cover model, no one has to be the best or fastest or most superlative 100% of the time.  You are a wonderful creation.
So you be you.  You are pretty amazing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wrapping It Up

Okay, week four is over. 
Good news:I have lost pounds and 8 inches. 
Bad news: I still have more to lose ! 

But not really bad news. I think this month has been really effective in learning how to incorporate exercise that I like into my life and how that having a group of people to do this with is the best ever. 

Not Going To Lie Department: do I still want to eat foods bad for you? Yes. But I can schedule a sneak in to my week and plan for it and look forward to it. 

So next month is still up in the air? What RealToLife experience do you want to hear about? I'm always open for suggestions. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RealToLife Week Three - Driving the Struggle Bus

Okay, if you are here to see how great I am doing with my weightloss effort, you may as well drop that expectation like pronto.  This week has been a week-long pass on the struggle bus.  But I have learned some valuable things.

1.  Some habits are better than no habits.
Up until, oh, two weeks ago, breakfast was a 32 oz. Diet coke/Coke and Little Debbie doughnuts from the Gate Store.  (yes, Herb Peyton, you can drop my endorsement check in the mail at your convenience.)  #Gate  This breakfast is roughly 400 calories of carbs and fat.  And a healthy dose of calcium-depleting soda.  Now, thanks to Beachbody, I am now consuming a delicious dose of a boatload of vitamins and lots of other stuff that is good for you.  And I'm doing it every day.  I think if I had to earn my way into Fitness Heaven, this is like 14 Hail Marys.  (Maries?  Help me out, English grammarians/Catholic people.) 

Another amazing thing I am doing is drinking the equivalent of a bathtub full of water every day. At least that is what I perceive it as.  All day long, just drinking and drinking and drinking.  I know that this is good for your skin and I have learned that your body needs water on a cellular level and when you feel thirsty, it's like the "check engine" light on your car.  You already are in crisis when you feel thirsty.  And something fun and cute is that I have an app through Beachbody where I get to check off my water consumption.  I like checking boxes. 

2.  Exercise kind of sucks and is kind of great.
I think that when I have been exercising every day, that it will be easier.  We have already discussed how having your fat in your gut makes it hard to do core exercises.  I just know that I will get better at these.  But on the other hand, exercise makes you feel amazing and like you could leap small buildings in a single bound.  And here's the funny thing -- when I get up at some gosh-awful time in the morning and exercise, then I almost forget I did it and want to keep on moving and exercising throughout the day!!!! It's crazy. 

But the getting started part of exercising is hard.  But I do remember in the far reaches of my mind back to when I swam 1000m daily and ran.  And I liked it. 

So I will just keep plugging away.  I also got a really sweet motivational video from Coach Lindsey on the value of showing up.  So even when you have been riding the struggle bus and feel like a total failure, keep showing up. 

3.  Your body is not waiting on you to decide to make healthy choices.
This week my mom found out that she has congestive heart failure. 
Now, my dad had that too, but we also called my dad Captain Mayonnaise.  That man would slather on the mayo like nobody's business.  And on lots of things. 
But my mom is the exercising and eating right queen!  When her doctor first told her she has congestive heart failure, she ( and I ) were both like, how do you have congestive heart failure?  So apparently every day and every meal counts towards your health. 

So.... faced with this knowledge, I wanted to go eat a box of Twinkies.  Seriously.
But knowing how I have eaten in my life (lots of fast food) and how I do not have a regular history of exercise (does walking to the refrigerator count?)  I am turning over a lot of new leaves.  I saw a meme with a beautiful curvy chick on it and it said something like "your body keeps an accurate food journal, regardless of what you write down."  Dang.  So since my body is not waiting on me to make healthy choices, and is getting worse or better with every day's choices, I have two choices:  get fit, or stay fat. 

I choose get fit. 

So you get to read this RealToLife blog one more time next week and then this month-long project will end.  I don't know about you guys, but online dating was a lot more fun and less heavy.  Writing about health and good choices is not very funny. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Next RealToLife.... Your help needed!

This month is super fun, don't get me wrong.... but next month is coming up soon and I need your help.

In the month of June, I will be attempting the most challenging of Pinterest projects.  I think I am pretty crafty, and have 22 Pinterest boards.  But I need your submission of a craft project or recipe that could be a huge success or a Pinterest-y fail out the wazoo. 

So... would you please leave me a link to a project that you think is Pants-worthy?  Leave it here or on my facebook.  Next week, you, the readers, will vote on what projects make it into Thunderdome.

Thanks so much!!! You all make this so much fun and I couldn't do it without you!

By the way.... still no online dating love.  It seems like I am getting number of responses from men of color ... is interracial dating a thing?  Or is it too stigmatic in the South?  Let me know.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

RealToLife Week 2: A Vacation Foodnado Wrecks Havoc

So yeah. 
I would love to say that this week so far has been a win-win, but it's more like a when-when. When I plan to eat when I'm supposed to, it works out. When I exercise, it's great. But when life takes over, it's more like, when do you think you are going to lose weight doing this?

So when I last left you, gentle reader, I was riding high on a wave of euphoria, thrilled that I was able to rise with the sun to exercise.  I was feeling great and wanting to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  And then, Wednesday.

Coach Lindsey says it's toxins leaving the body, but they made a pit stop in my head and took up painful residence.  Like, I just want to take meds and a nap, in that order.  So no exercising Wednesday night.

Thursday we left to go to Panama City, avoiding the hordes of people descending upon our village like invading Norsemen, also known as the TPC, except they came in Mercedes and Tahoes.  It's a see and be seen; think Dick's Sporting Goods meets Ladies' Night, with some men wearing exceedingly questionable plaid pants and some women dressing to impress.  Although golf is a sport loved by many, the love is lost on this girl.  So instead of watching golf, we went to the beach.

As is fairly typical of our family, it took about two hours longer to leave than we anticipated, because of last minute things that must be done, less the world stop rotating on its axis --plant watering and such.  Without going into too much detail here, I pretty much threw my dieting caution to the wind as we passed the city limit sign.  Sigh.

We stayed with a family friend that is pretty much the hostess with the mostess.  What's a girl to do when faced with a delicious lemon cake?  Or world-famous party chicken?  Sure, our hostess did make several concessions to my diet efforts, but it was like a minefield of yummy food.  On one trip to the beach, we did stop at Sonic, Home of Diet Foods,  and I did order a grilled chicken wrap instead of a corn dog and cheesy tots.  I felt pride over my "not this, but that" choice.

For the win:  I did take a 2-mile walk Thursday night and a fairly rigorous walk on soft sand on the beach Friday.  And young son made me run part of the way on the beach.  He is beast mode.  He ran the whole way back, which was no short distance.  After about 100 feet, I was beat.  I walked the rest of the way back.

Also for the win:  I note that I actually want to drink water.  When faced with the opportunity to get a Diet Coke, as would be my modus operandi, I chose to get a giant bottle of water.  And I liked it.

I did take my 21 Day Fix and my Cize DVDs to do at my host's home, but the only DVD was in the main TV watching area and I felt not a little, but a lot self-conscious about doing them in front of even these very close friends.  I mean, there's nothing like sweating and grunting your way through an exercise DVD in the privacy of your own home.  Somehow, that "joy" does not translate to sweating and grunting on display for close friends and family.  The feeling was more like abject humiliation, kind of like saying, hey, come watch this fat girl sweat!  So thus the walking I mentioned earlier.

So, as my first full week draws to a close, I see where I need to improve:  Eat better, exercise more.  I have to tell you that it does feel self-defeating to eat the wrong things, because I know that my body keeps an accurate food journal and does not cheat on portion sizes or "forget" to write things down.  So far I have yet to lose any weight, but I feel like I have more energy and I am getting better at the routine of exercising.  So this next week, while I'm NOT on vacation, I am going to super focus on eating just the right things and in the right amounts.  Jesus take the wheel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flying Pants RealToLife: Week 1 with my Beachbody coach

Monday, May 9th, 2016.  This is the first day of the rest of my life.

That phrase has always perplexed me a little.  Yes, every day is really the first day of the rest of your life.  But I guess picking out one day to start something that you hope will change your life deserves a declaration.

In summary:

  • I work with an amazing Beachbody coach, Lindsey Owens, because I realized I can't do it on my own and need help.
  • I have a flexible food plan and an exercise plan.
  • This blog is not paid or sponsored by Beachbody.  

Monday began like many days do.... but let me back up.  Due to Mother's Day festivities, both my Saturday and Sunday were taken up with fun and frivolity, but kept me from doing my meal planning for this week.  I was able to catch up Sunday night, but by the time I got home from Publix at almost 10 pm I was not a fan of prepping food for the week.  So I didn't, because...

...I thought, wow, I am super excited, so there's NO way I will oversleep.  So of course I woke up early and thought, hmm... I can go back to sleep for 20 minutes.  Well, you know that feeling of panic when you wake up and there is just too much light coming through the curtains to be early?  Yes, it is WAY too late to shower.  So I showered anyway and came up with a plan of attack for my food consumption.

In my inimitable non-Martha Stewart way, I tossed all the food I would eat for the next few days at work in a plastic bag.  I know, CLASSY. But with no time to make little individual portions, I threw it all in a bag and knew I could just make my lunch in the employee lounge at my work.

I did well for breakfast; I had what is called Shakeology, which is like magical unicorn goodness in a chocolate smoothie.  There's lots of good things in there.  Later, I ate hummus and carrots for a morning snack, except I just about choked on these dry carrots I had brought.  No bueno. Lunch was a combo of avocado (yum), turkey, tomato, and lettuce on a whole wheat tortilla.  Yum.  I ate some yogurt in the afternoon.  I thought I was doing well.

About 4:00, I was dying.  It's like my junk food ventilator had been yanked out and I was gasping for air.  So, to be completely transparent and honest, I stopped at Sam's on the way home and ate a slice of three-meat pizza.

I know.  I know.  I know.

I felt like I had sludge running through my veins.  But I think as soon as the simple, white, beautiful carbs had their chance to work their magic, I felt invigorated.  So much so that I whipped out my Mother's Day beach bike and rode it down to the beach, which round trip was about two miles.  And then I did my workout video for the day, an upper body concentration that did not kill me.  It was doable, basically because I didn't use heavy weights.  I have no upper body strength, so I'm trying to work into this.

Phew!  So that was day 1.  LOL.

The next morning I had planned on my exercise calendar to get up and exercise in the morning.  There are some family members (who will remain nameless) who doubted my ability to get up on time, much less get up early and exercise.  To you  I say SO THERE, AND WHATTTTTT.  I was up at 5:45 and got it done!  This day I used a dvd called Cize, which is basically learning dance steps and at the end of the 30 minutes, you actually dance these cool steps to an actual popular song.  With the  dance background I have, this appeals to me a lotta lotta.  Of course, I was a big sweaty mess with a side of bedhead, but who cares because it's just me.

Abs update:  Day 1 and 2.  Certain death.  If you know me, I carry a glorious amount of fat right in my gut.  As a side note, I have always wanted to be one of those people who carries weight in her butt.  But anyway, all that extra guttage makes "core" exercises challenging at best.  I've about decided that the term core, which didn't really show up on the scene until the 90's, is really code word shortened from hard core, as in you have to be crazy to be able to do all of these!  I am assuming that if I keep doing them, I will get better at them and they will be easier.  We shall see.

Eating on Day 2 went much better and no pizza had to be sacrificed at the altar of poor choices.  I eat 5 times a day, which appeals to me.  But it's healthy things I like -- oranges, yogurt, and Shakeology, to name a few.  I did see my container of hummus in the refrigerator and secretly wished I had a bag of chips to eat with said hummus.

More exercise:  I think the endorphins are kicking in, because I am feeling great!  I even walked at lunch with my amazing friend who is sweet and wonderful but also kicks my butt when I need it.  She gives the best advice.

Oh, I also need to mention my accountability.  Besides all you good folks and my coach Lindsey and my entire facebook group, I also have entered a thing at a website called Diet Bet.  You put down a specified amount (in my case, $20) and you have about a month to lose 4% of your body weight.  If you do, you split the pool of money with everyone else that lost their 4%.  If you don't, you lose your money!  I would much rather get money than lose money.

Wow.  I am super overwhelmed with all these new changes and choices, but as Coach Lindsey says, I take it a day at a time.

Today we laid groundwork and i explained everything I think you will need to know from this point on.  if you have another question, please feel free to comment below or email me @  Next time, all gloves are off.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So about that.....

For the last six weeks, I have enjoyed writing and publishing the online dating blog series. 

I have planned to start a new series on me cooking, which are two words that are pretty funny together.  It kind of makes me chuckle just to type that.  And I started to do a video of me and my adventure with spaghetti squash.  It was a terrible video.  Like, my Facebook friends would unfriend me bad.  So I have another idea. 

Okay, not that idea.
I am starting a May Challenge Group with my amazing friend Lindsey Owens.  She is going to help coach me to wellness success.  I am going to diary my path to weight loss/wellness.  Part of me thinks I'm crazy to put this out there for everyone to see, and part of me knows that this kind of accountability may be just what I need!  My friends at Gallup polls say that 51% of adult Americans want to lose weight.  I know that the online dating thing was an encouragement to some, so I'm hoping that this month of diary blogs will do the same!

So in preparation for a month of wellness success, please take a look at a previous blog post, 4 Places You Won't Find Fat People.

Thanks and have a super great day!  Next Wednesday, I look forward to sharing my week with you in the same style in which we walked through online dating together. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Online Dating Diary - The End.

 I'm kind of getting used to this. I scroll through guys, message some, hear back from one or two. Multiply that by a half-life of 4 days, and I figure I will have talked to 28 new guys by the end of this month, which frankly is 28 more previously unknown men than I have talked to in a super long time. I'm kind of weird like that, I'm not super outgoing with men I don't know. Men I know? It's Chatty Cathy time.

I started this week with what turned out to be a very short-lived but educational venture.  My plans were to run a profile of a beautiful, skinny woman and see what kind of response it would get.  I got Don Juan to find a pic of a woman that men would find attractive.  I attached it to a short n' shallow dating profile for this fictitious person, and then just let it go.  Pretty much immediately this fictitious person had 55 people trying to contact her and twelve men messaging her.  So it may be that my bait is not catching the right kind of fish!  But I digress.  Shortly after I open it, I get SHUT DOWN.  I guess someone used that same tricks to find scams that I do!  So Hot Chick was very short-lived.

So instead, I want to tell you about this picture. This is my friend Courtney, who has also been online dating for the last month. She has also not met a single eligible man. I think you will agree that she is very pretty and I happen to know she is a professional and fun to talk to.  So it's all over the spectrum of women that are not meeting men on dating websites.

So, to this I say MEN!  GET YOUR COLLECTIVE ACT TOGETHER!  But that is too harsh.  I know that there are amazing men out there. I just know it.  But there are some men that missed out on some life training and that I blame on society.  But it's not too late to change!

As I wrap this up, I have learned a lot about myself and the general nature of people.  I think that I no longer take the cake for the Original Schmoozer.  There are some men who deserve this title so much more than I! But for as many schmoozers as there are, there is an equally sized group of men whose smooth talker Betty Crocker move is to write a message with one word, usually monosyllabic, like, "hi" or even "hi there." I'm underwhelmed.

In review, I'd like to steal a skit idea from the Tonight Show, Thank You Notes. I'd like to write some thank you notes of my own...
Thank you, "cuddling," for being the most misused word in online dating vocabulary.
Thank you, Mr TalksaLot, for being a 10 on the crazy scale and providing so much material for my blog.  Your ridiculous assumptions have brought many chuckles not only to me, but many.
Thank you,, for hosting the hopes and dreams of many single people.  And for being kind of free.
Thank you, guys I didn't like, for showing me that I can afford to be picky and date someone that is similar in values and likes.
Thank you, Salt N Pepa, The Young and Very Restless, Night Shift, and Broody Good Looking for being an amazing baptism into the world of online dating.  It's only through you that I realized that this world is pretty unpredictable and you gots to go with the punches.
Thank you, ridiculous profile lines, for your uncanny ability to reveal oh-so-much-more about the person than just what he wrote.
Thank you, Blind Guy, for introducing what will sure be the next "why did the chicken cross the road" conundrum.  Making readers wonder why a blind guy goes to a strip club has no doubt kept many a reader up at night.
Thank you, Chef Guy, Santa, Football Fan, and Chicken Farmer for being nice guys who didn't ask if I like to cuddle.
Thank you,, for helping me see through three wannabe scammers.
Thank you, Tow Truck, Gainesville Police Officer, No Habla Espanol, and Big Stupid for making me appreciate my time, especially since I wasted it talking to you.
Thank you, Don Juan, for making me think about this in the first place.  I hope you attract drama-free women.
Thank you, swipe right/left, for being the most shallow and superficial way to meet people.
Thank you, amazing readers, for walking this road with me. 

Even though I didn't find love, or even like, I can only assume that something better is waiting out there for me. In the meantime, if you know or meet an amazing godly guy, let me know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Online Dating Diary: The Word of the Week is Inappropriate

Oh my.  This has been another eventful week.  Yes, highly inappropriate at times, but as usual I have sanitized it to be mostly family-friendly.  But if you are an adult, you can definitely read between the lines.

Day 15:  This morning was actually pretty fruitful.  I messaged back and forth with two men, one of which doesn't even get a name because he was talking about his sex life within 30 minutes of meeting.  NO.  But the other is a sales guy throughout the year and at Christmas, does Santa gigs at places like Disney World, malls, etc.  He seems normal and likable and I am interested to see where this goes.  Of course, it's always like waiting for the other shoe to drop until you have known each other for awhile.  I mean, just in the last two weeks alone, how many times have normal men flaked out?  So it's ask questions and get answers.  Over. And over. And over again.
Day 16:  I am now figuring out that for every profile I look at (in search of the worst profile lines ever), that person sees that I have looked at his profile.  So I am getting a lot more messages today, but not necessarily from people I would like to get them from!  There are a number of screen names that are not family-friendly; but if you are wondering, just put together a word for a piece of anatomy and an adjective.  And maybe a number.  No.  All the nos.  In fact, sometimes I read profile names and I am befuddled and amused at the same time that this person thinks this is a great way to represent himself to a person he does not yet know.  I blame it on the 80's.  Oh my, what a decade.  Anyway.... I meet today a cute guy who includes in his profile that he has 27 chickens.  And one of his pics reveals that he can do that one-raised-eyebrow thing.  This is enough for me to message him.  He is interesting, funny,  a little cheesy, and hasn't brought up any inappropriate topics.  Let's call him the Chicken Farmer.
Day 17:  Btw, Santa has not contacted me again.  Kind of odd, but not unpredictable.  I'm learning that there are not actually many people that go on dates from websites.  I am starting to think that they are statistical anomalies, these dates.  But this social experiment is to show how difficult it is and how crazy people are.  BY THE WAY -- Mr. New York finally emailed me, so I of course ran his email header through a program that tells me where his IP is.  He says he is on an oil rig in Alaska?  How about INSTEAD he is is Dublin, Ireland?  Block!  Does this make two or three scams I have deflated this month?  I was pretty sure Mr. New York was a scammer, but I had to play it until I could get some hard information.  He. Is. A. Sorry. Dog.  Just in case you want to know how to find this website that will interpret the lines of HTML to tell you where an email is coming from ... .  I talk to the Chicken Farmer again today.  So far, so good.
Day 18:  I nail yet another person I met on this website, using the link above.  He's in Daytona Beach?  More like Washington State.  So, because I'm a little evil, I email him back and tell him I will be in Daytona next week and would love to meet him for coffee.  Can't wait to hear the excuse he'll use.  I'll make him squirm a little and try to nail down a time for when I can come have coffee with him before I block him. It's probably a little strange that I want to do this, but I take a guilty pleasure in seeing how scammers try to cover who they are.  Today also brings me in to contact with Florida's version of Snoop Dogg, who has this kind of snarly grin pic as his default pic.  He messages me, so I respond that his pic is a little scary.  This turns into a mini-counseling session where I advise him to be himself and the really good women will find that attractive, and the shallow, high maintenance women that he has been attracting to his snarly-grin pic will go away.  He seems to take it to heart.  I also get a message today from a man who writes in Spanish mostly, despite my "No habla espanol."  I get a Spanish-speaking friend at work to help me translate, and when I show her his pic, she knows him!!!! As lovely he as seems, he is 5' 3," which would never work with all of my awesome five feet and nine inches.
Day 19:  I meet the Football Fan, who looks like your typical Southern lawyer or banker who likes him some SEC football. We message, and he is cordial and funny.  I'm hoping he is an actual person.  More from the Chicken Farmer.  He's still funny and appropriate.  I'm hoping he is also an actual person.  Keep in mind that these two supposedly live in my area, so it could possibly happen.  But I'm putting less and less stock in actually meeting people, as it seems like a hard thing to do.  I consulted with my friend Don Juan this week, and he has confirmed that his experience has been the same -- lots of talking, not much meeting.  Are people lazy?  Don't care?  I think if I put my information on a dating website, I would actually want to meet people.  But maybe it's the whole fear-of-rejection thing.  I have to keep in mind that not everyone is super extroverted like moi.
Day 20:  Today is the day of the Gainesville Police Officer and the Tow Truck Driver.  They deserve just about that much mention, nothing more.  I would probably fall over dead if I heard from either one again.  There was just not that much interest.  On the up side, I hear from Chicken Farmer.  Just a few brief messages, so this may be reaching its dating website half-life.  Honestly, he seems great, but I really would like to see a little more initiative.  I mean, if you like talking to me, and you've already seen my pics, so let's make a date.  Seriously, my thought is that if you are just biding your time and hanging out, you are not the one for me.  I have been seriously pursuing this whole dating-website-thing and yes, it's a fun blog to write, but I would be thrilled to meet someone amazing.   My humble opinion is that there are 4 types of men in Jacksonville:  married, gay, and completely self absorbed.  The fourth?  He's that amazing, awesome guy that I would love to meet and at least be friends with.  I figure that this super-category makes up about 3% of men in Jacksonville, so they are few and far between.  I actually know an amazing man like this, but every time I talk to him I end up doing something stupid or not being as cool as I would like.  And plus, I think he knows he is amazing and amazing looking, so I don't want to act like I am hanging around because I want to date him.  Even though I would.  Yeesh.  Is actual life more complicated than online dating?  Maybe so.
Day 21:  I thought today was the day.  I get a message from an attractive man who is employed and professes to be a believer and is witty and conversational.  I am home sick today and can function with my head in exactly one position, so I am voice-to-texting a lot today.  I succumb to the sinus meds I take, and later on he messages me again.  To make a long story short and a lot more family friendly,  his intent for a relationship is much more involved than I care to be outside of marriage.  Random thoughts:  1) He says this on day 1 of knowing me?  Perv, and so inappropriate.  2) This is your dealbreaker?  Wow.  No.  Not if you were the last man on earth.  3) This is your dealbreaker after not dating for a self-professed nine years?  I just don't even have words for this, except that forever and here on out you shall be known as Big Stupid.

As promised, I have researched (i.e., read about 200 profiles) men's dating website profiles and this is the best of the worst.  Each one of these is from an actual profile on the site I am on.
"No cats -- they're evil and I'm allergic."
"Only one duck face per person, ladies -- everyone knows you're just trying to make your face look skinny." (editorial note:  I thought people did these to make their lips look bigger.  Not aware of the skinny thing. )
"No couch potatoes; I like a little cottage cheese on my salad but not on my lap."
"Please, no gold teeth, excessive jewelry, ridiculous hairdos, or tattoos on your face."
"If you think that 401K is a singing group, you're not for me."

Just odd or funny:
Advertisement for a fireworks business in the middle of a profile
"A relationship is more than just chemistry and affection .. it's about caring, affection, and putting the seat down."
"ruler of known universe seeks partner"
(from same profile as above) "must enjoy galactic domination, spending time with a person with no filter, and long walks on the beach."
"Let's talk; I am very anti-stalker."
"Looking for my emotionally available other half."
"I love to pamper my woman by painting her toe nails and her finger nails, running her bath water after a long day's work with a full body massage."  (Editorial note: I promise that there must be a school for how to be so inappropriate on a dating website profile.)
"okay, if I run into one more online hooker on this site I will jump off a roof this is not a site to sell your body."
"I don't mind if you have a stuffy corporate job as long as it doesn't run your life." (Editorial note:  I read this as: "You can support me as long as you don't complain about it.")
"Let's say that you're about to have a bowl of cereal but all the milk you have spills on the floor.  Do you cry over spilled milk or do you pour cereal on the floor and enjoy?"
"If we meet and you don't look like your picture, you're paying for the drinks until you do."
"You don't need 50 Shades of Grey when you can have one Shade of Black every night."

Thanks again so much for reading.  Thanks to all my friends in Israel, all 1127 of you!  Shout out to readers in China, Russia, Finland, Turkey, Belgium, and Great Britain.  I have no idea how you even know about the Flying Pants, but thanks for reading.
Next week will probably be the most explosive week ever, as I am doing something radically different to further prove how hard it is to find love on the internet.  Stay tuned for our final and biggest week next week!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Online Dating Diary: The Week of the Date

Aah, love.  Rewarding, yet oh so elusive.  This week has been not too far behind last week in weirdness, but in a different way.  Oh, and I have a date.  Kind of. And, as a suggestion from a reader, these fun people I meet will have a nickname instead of a number.  I admit, it is hard to keep up with who is who with a number.  But everybody remembers Mr. Talksalot, as bizarre as that was.

Day 8:  The day starts with #8 (Salt N Pepa) texting me to have a great day.  I respond in kind. 
I'm kind of nervous because I am not sure how Week 1 blog post will be received.  But as the day progresses, it seems that most people seem to have enjoyed reading it and that is a good thing.

The most eventful thing that happened today in Online Dating World is that #9 (the Young and Very Restless)  showed back up as a different  profile name and a different picture.  It seemed like a good idea to him for me to drive roughly 30 miles to his home to (and here's that word again) CUDDLE (which my friend Christine so aptly defined yesterday as, well, another physical act that is not cuddling).  I can't say no enough ways in my head but respond that I would instead love to meet him at Starbucks for a beverage.  I think this is the end of the Young and the Very Restless, because his intent is clearly not to develop a friendship.  So wish him goodbye; he's on the slab.

Day 9:  Salt N Pepa texts me.  Good morning to you as well, I text.    He is just a very nice man that seems to have good intent.  But time will tell. But lo and behold,  #10 (Night Shift) is breaking forth on the scene as the man to beat, as he is texting and calling pretty regularly.  It seems like we really have a lot in common in regards to our spiritual beliefs, which is extra cool.  We actually set a date for Sunday night!  Woo hoo! Exciting but a little nerve-wracking too. 

Day 10:  Night Shift is Johnny on the spot with the morning text and later on, we talk on the phone about 4 different times.  I look at my phone and it tells me that I have spent several hours talking to him!  What kind of seventh grade is that?  LOL!  But it's nice to talk to someone you have so much in common with.  I message a few new guys, one of which responds and wants to know if I am 420 friendly.  No, I am not.  Apparently this is a dealbreaker for him.  Keep in mind that I am only responding to men who self-identify as "Christian-Other," "Baptist," or a like denomination.  I wish I had a filter to right away "weed" out those who are 420 friendly.
Day 11:  My mom and I take a day trip to see 4 aunts, 1 uncle, and a partridge in a pear tree.  (Just kidding about the partridge.)  I find a profile that bills its owner as 69% Gentleman, 31% Bad boy.  By reading the profile, he does seem more like 50/50.  It fell apart for me when he wrote, "But I am a breast man and a Christian, not in that particular order."  And then, "I'm smarter than I look."  Oh my.  Too much information presented in a weird way and perhaps an overassumption.
This website also has a function wherein you look at a picture only and either give it a yes, meaning you want to meet this person, or a no, meaning you don't.  And there are countless men to get through.  So I start to develop criteria: 1) If the picture has the head cut off, NO.  If he has a child in the pic, YES.  Too young?  NO.  Too old? NO.  Blurry pic? NO.  Friendly smile? YES.  Weird hair?  NO.  Picture of a car only?  NO.  Picture of him and a fish? YES. Looks too much like a surly James Dean? NO, and so forth and so on. I can only imagine the criteria men come up with!  But if you YES on someone that YES'd you, you get a notification, which to me means that superficially you think the other person is okay.  Then you'd have to read the profile to see if he meets criteria then.  So after twenty minutes of swiping, I may have culled out one or two, maybe three men.  This IS elusive yet rewarding, right?  I'm not so sure.  Later, I talk to #10 when we get home from our day trip and we talk for about 2 hours.  Everything is going great. 
Day 12, Date Day:Yay church!  It's a fave.  I am so excited about my date tonight with Night Shift and I tell a friend at church who had read the blog last week about mah big date.  After church I drop by Stein Mart, the home of everything truly cute, and find a cute shirt that has my favorite style of neckline, that I can wear tonight, and I can also wear to work this summer.  Annnnnnnnd then.....I get a text from Night Shift.  He has to go to his mom's later that afternoon and can't meet me.  UGH.  DISAPPOINTMENT.  I now remember why I am not a fan of dating.  But I'm like, whatev.  Sounds pretty shifty. I meet my mom and sister and her family for lunch and the first thing out of my mom's mouth is, "I let the cat out of the bag!" (referring to the miraculous occasion of me actually going on a date) and I tell her, well, we are going to have to round that cat up because the date is OFF.  In true supportive family fashion, I am, by their advice, better off/dodged a bullet/feeling God's protection, not rejection. So I don't hear from Night Shift the rest of the day.  So back to work I go, scouting profiles and sending messages. I message 4 new people and talk to two people I had previously contacted.  Mr. New York, a previous contact, is charming and funny.  We message for quite a while.  I also message #7, (The Chef) that played rugby.  No response.  A new contact is a teacher who seems really interesting. Later, while I'm walking the dog for the last time, I message my good friend for advice about profiles.  We'll call him Don Juan.  (That's the name  he picked when I told him I was writing him into the blog as "the friend.")  So apparently I am responding well to messages and doing all the right things, from a guy's perspective. 
Day 13:  So this morning, in the parade of guys that scroll by on my dating website app, I see a cute guy and read his profile.  I get to the second paragraph and this cool profile is written by a guy who is blind.  This caused me to stop a minute and say to myself, what do I do here?  What if he is really amazing?  So I message him with my normal spiel and he responds.  He is funny and talkative and confident.  I think I would be stupid to not get to know him.  So we message and text and at the very least this is going to be an amazing friendship.  I ask stupid questions about being blind and he is totally cool.  And he makes blind people jokes.  So funny, not deprecating. 
Salt N Pepa texts me to see how my day is.  It is great.  When will I be home tonight so he can call me.  I say 6.  We'll see if he calls.  I have found that he and I will talk and then not talk for a day or two, which is fine. 
Fortunately I have not run into too many crazy people this week.  No one has asked to be my roommate this week, thank you Jesus.  But still haven't heard from Night Shift after he canceled our date, which is weird since we were talking a lot.  I guess this is his passive aggressive way of saying, I don't want to get to know you.  Fortunately, I am wearing my big girl panties and I am over it.
Day 14:  Yesterday was an interesting day.  Blind Guy apparently is in a lot of transition, ending a marriage, having his house foreclosed upon, going to college, and starting a business.  From my life, I know that a lot of transition needs a lot of focus and no distraction.  So I tell him this and he seems okay with it.  Plus, I didn't really care for the trip to the strip club he mentioned, primarily because I think it is denigrating to women and objectifies them as having one purpose.  Oh, and MrTalksaLot texted me again, to tell me I'm beautiful and how we should be friends.  Um, no.  Mr. New York texts me and has been busy with work, or in Online Dating World talk, has been pursuing other people and they didn't work out.  I know!  Harsh!  But it's a thing.  I do it. But my friend Don Juan did tell me that someone you meet online generally has a half-life of 4 days.  So basically, if nothing has happened in a week, it probably won't. 

I had several people last week comment on how long it must take to meet someone that you would actually want to date.  Never a truer truth was spoken!  It's frustrating, and to come up with a message that is a witty three or four sentences that reflects some aspect of his profile that is interesting but not too heavy is quite a task.  So next week, in addition to the drama of trying to find true love on a dating website, I am going to be highlighting the best of the worst in profiles that men have written.

Until then, gentle readers, keep your eyes open for amazing single men.  I might need some help. 

10 Tell-Tale Signs Your Online Date is a Scam

Dating is hard and often, nonexistent.  Can I get an amen?

The internet has made life so much easier in many ways and it attempts to make dating easier as well.  And by dating, I mean actual going-out-on-a-date, so I am not referring to websites whose primary goal is not dating and building a meaningful relationship.  Yes, Virginia, those do exist.

Online dating is one way to meet people that you otherwise may not meet, meaning that your paths do not cross in life.  This is good, but it can also be bad.  Meeting a complete stranger online means that you have no idea if what he or she is saying is true.  There are whole websites out there devoted to helping women and men find out if they are being scammed by a person they met on a dating website. 

Based on my unfortunately vast experience, I now submit to you ten ways to know if you are being scammed:
1.  Your new friend is deployed overseas. 
This is  unfortunate, as many men and women are actually deployed by the armed forces overseas.  Ask for their address.  They should be able to give it to you without any reservation.  No one is on such a remote or top-secret base that they cannot give out their address. For real. The address for an American armed forces person should resemble something like this:
PSC 3 BOX 4120
APO AE 09021
If he or she can't give you an address, walk away. Quickly.
2.  As an aside to #1:  If he or she asks you to use a freight forwarder or any kind of go between for mail, you are being scammed.  It sometimes may take a while for mail to get to our deployed men and women, but the United States gets it done and does not need any help from the schmoe down the street from the base.

3.  Your new friend uses colloquialisms and phrases that don't sound like anyone else that speaks English uses.  Does he refer to an elevator as a "lift"?  There are a thousand examples, but if the way your friend writes or speaks does not sound like normal American English,  you're being scammed.

4.  Undoubtedly your new friend has posted a picture of himself.  Save this picture to your hard drive, then go the Google home page, click on Images, and then click on the little camera icon in the search bar.  Click on Upload An Image and then browse your computer and click where you saved your friend's picture.  Google will search every image it has to find ones that look like it.  If there is one exactly like it, find out where that picture came from and if it is indeed your new friend.  If it is not your friend but rather a regular guy from somewhere in Iowa or wherever, you're being scammed.

5.  If you suspect that your new friend is maybe not who he or she pretends to be, you can trace where their email came from.  Using the IP address and the header, you can learn a lot more about your new friend.  If it turns out that your email from your new friend has a forged header, or if their email does not come from where it should,  you're being scammed.
6.  Love, sweet love.  Who doesn't want to fall in love?  Everyone wants to be in love!  But if your new friend falls head over heels in love with you in a week or less, you're being scammed.  And I know this sounds soooo cynical.  But isn't it a good idea to take it slow with someone you know nothing about, except what he or she tells you? 
7.  I shouldn't even have to write this, but if someone you meet online asks for money, don't walk, RUN away quickly.  And in a different scenario, if your deployed overseas friend needs to sell his motorcycle to be able to pay for his mother's hospital bills, and wants you to accept the check for the motorcycle and wire the money to him, (since after all, he is deployed overseas and doesn't trust the mail system) RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN.  CHANGE  YOUR EMAIL.  This is a classical ruse.  You deposit the check, it could even be a business check, and wire the money.  Well, guess what?  The likelihood of your check bouncing is about 100%, and you are stuck holding the bag for whatever amount you wired.  This did not happen to me, thank goodness, but I have heard that this has happened many times before.
8.  Let's pretend that you and your new friend have been corresponding and texting and he seems pretty normal and uses standard English and doesn't want money.  Do you know any facts about him that can be googled?  If not, you may want to find out why.  This is pretty typical of the married man who is on dating websites and is a LOW-DOWN, NO GOOD CHEATER.  Walk away fast, because a man you met while he was cheating on his wife will do the same thing to you. 
9.  One sure sign of a scammer is that he or she will want to chat with you off of the dating website as soon as possible.  Often he will suggest Yahoo  chat or Google  hangouts or any chat.  He or she may even want to Skype.  If your new friend doesn't want to chat on the dating website, it's likely that he or she is trying to not be caught in their same old tired tricks that dating websites are on the lookout for.
10.  If your new friend seems to be absolutely everything you would ever want in a date, then tread carefully.  The phrase "too good to be true" didn't make itself up.  If you are online, unless you have your security settings locked down tight, you are pretty much an open book.  You know how you google someone new to find out more about him?  It works both ways.

And despite all of this, I still believe in love.  But I don't think I'll find it on a dating website.  But good luck to you and may Cupid's arrow fly straight and true to your heart. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Online Dating Diary: The young, the old and the restless

After reading my diatribe on the dangers of online dating, I got a wave of comments on facebook telling me that a bunch of people had met their spouse online and I should give it a try again.  In the interest of journalism, I am going to give it a month and will document my experiences here on the Flying Pants.  Just to let you know, I am not contacting anyone who puts their religion as 'Non-religious" or Buddhist or something like that.  To protect the innocent and not-so-innocent, instead of names I'll give them numbers.

Day 1:  I write a profile and have a message before I can finish writing it!  But it was from the site telling me about all their great features.  Good to know. I am pleasantly surprised to see a number of good-looking men my age and they seem to want to contact me as well.  I message back and forth with a few when I happen upon the profile of a long-time friend (we'll call him #1) that I thought was in a relationship.  We strike up a conversation and we end up going out that night.  Nice, fun, but I don't have a lot of expectations for it basically because I don't think he is really attracted to me, it was just fun to go out.  Oh, and today I am officially told by Mr. #2 that "we don't seem to enjoy the same things" from a different guy who wanted to know did I want to do a 50 mile bike ride Saturday and then do a 5K on Sunday? Did I also want to kayak in the ocean?  No, I do not.  I'm one of those people that if you should happen to see running, you should start running too, because a T Rex or a zombie is not too far behind. So outdoor enthusiasts are not going to be my target group.. 
Day 2:  I get a nice text from a guy (#3) that seems to be pretty great.  I give him my alternate to my  alternate email so I don't give out too much info about me personally.  And then, of course, using my own tip of CHECK IP ADDRESSES,  I see that his email originates from Singapore, not Southern California like he says he is from.  Shock and awe.  Let me go put on my surprise face.  The day was topped off by #4, who wants to be momma's bad boy and get spanked, in addition to some other things too weird for me which I will omit to make sure this blog is as family friendly as possible. Ugh.  No.  Really not. My good friend #1 calls to see how I am and basically to make sure I was not expecting a relationship to blossom from our one date. Annnnndddd.... I'm not. Today I also messaged two men that look normal and nice.
Day 3:  I wake up to two short and sweet messages (like 2 sentences) in response to messages I sent.  Nice enough, but not enough activity to warrant a number.  I did read a funny-in-a-hypocritical way profile.  This does warrant a number because I because I just found it shockingly hypocritical.  #5 starts his profile with "If you judge a book by its cover, you may miss a good read."  Frankly, his pictures he has posted would make you think he is a redneck and a half/thug, but he says he is so much more and give him a chance.  Later on in his profile, he is very clear that he works hard to stay fit (when he's really more like skinny, and frankly, everyone knows how much easier it is for men to lose weight than women), and "if you can't take care of your body like I do please don't respond. Not being mean just keeping it real."  If you mean really hypocritical, then yeah, he is keeping it real.  So I'm not supposed to judge him by what he looks like, but he can judge instantly a person's worth and value by how thin she is?  Two ideas pop into my head:  1) Anorexia much?  2) This may be indicative of other ways he is a jerk.  Regardless, he is a veteran, so I messaged him and thanked him for his service to our country.
#3 update:  I ask him why his email is coming from Singapore, and his response is that he did email someone in Singapore for business and maybe it's an internet problem.  #unlikely #scammer  Hopefully this is enough for him to not contact me again.  But I have learned that even after a scammer has been confronted, he will sometimes continue to make contact to maintain the persona.
Because I am trying to stay open, I message a guy who is supposedly a great match for me.  I was kind of being sarcastic because his profile name is obvious and kind of reminds me of someone from the 70's.  But then again, I was born in 1967, so I guess that's me too.  He gave me his cell number and I text him a Hi and then next thing I know my phone is ringing!  Aahhhh!  I thought we would text first and them transition into actual talking.  Although he has thrown my timeline off, I answer anyway.  Seems nice, talks about himself a lot.  He can't hear me well so I exeunt stage left by saying I'll call you when I can use a landline.  I don't really intend on calling.  I am now just as bad as every guy who ever said, "I'll call you," and didn't.  So he's #6, aka Mr. TalksaLot.  (More about him later.)
Good news!  There is a #7.  He is a chef in a local restaurant.  Funny, down to earth.  We messaged back and forth for about an hour.  I am interested in seeing what happens with this.  This is my first potential WHOA.  I tried to be cool and funny and not too much of myself.  I tend to ramble sometimes.
#3, part 3:  After thinking about this hypocrite at work today, I decide to voice my opinion in a very nice way.  HIs response is that he is not judgmental at all, just upfront about what he's interested in and not passing judgment at all.  He knows what he likes and "it is his choice to state as much."  Because I fall low on the crazy scale, I respond back with my wish for him to find someone amazing.

Wow, this has been a busy day.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings....

Day 4:  Saturday is a hoppin' day for online dating, apparently.  Salt N Pepa is a guy really a little older than I would normally have looked for, but he seems really amazing.  And interesting.  He is widowed and has EIGHT grandchildren!  Not exactly what I had thought about, being a grand-girlfriend at 48.  Conversely, The Young and Very Restless is a guy 10 years my junior!  I have never dated anyone younger than I am, so this is a pretty new experience.  I will give that he is a faster texter than Salt N Pepa, but with the greater experience in the tech world maybe that is to be expected.  #10 is exactly the type I go for, and it's normally a bad decision.  It's brood-y good looking meets quiet.  But we have a connection, albeit a weird one, becuase his wife passed away at about the same time as my dad died.  As i write this, I see what a really poor choice this is.  I only keep Broody Good Looking as a point of reference into what was potentially a bad choice.
Saturday is also the day I get to spend part of the day with oldest daughter in town to visit, so no more dating website.  It's way more important to spend time with my child.

Day 5:  Today has been pretty quiet.  I texted and talked to #8 and then #Mr.TalksaLot.  It was today that Mr.TalksaLot revealed that it might be hard to go on a date because he is driver license-less due to a history of DUIs.  This means I would have to do all the driving, which is really not going to work out because 1) I hate driving and 2) we live really far away from each other.  So I am going to have to tell him this is a dealbreaker.  So I decide that with the level of commitment (or lack thereof) committed into this "relationship," I can text him the bad news.

So I think the thing to do when someone says, "Hey, it's not going to work out.  You're great but just not for me," that a person below a 5 on the crazy scale would move on.  Oh no.  Mr.TalksaLot responds with a possible solution to his driverless existence:  We move in together.  AAAAAAAA!!!!!!! On so many levels is this just so wrong. I respond that I have a roommate and that wouldn't work out for me.  Oh my gosh.  Really?  I told you all, you cannot make this stuff up.

At the end of the day I hear from #9, the baby.  Brief conversation via message.

Unrelated observation:  If men used to word "cuddle" half as often as they do on dating websites, their masculinity would surely come into question.  Can we use words like "conversation" and "cultivate" (like a friendship) instead?

Day 6:  I am messaged by a really good looking man, so right away I suspect that he's a scammer.  Not that I wouldn't date a really good looking man, but that pics like this are the fodder of the scam artist.  But he is using regular American English and his IP address checks out, so I am treading carefully.  But he is very verbose about what he is looking for, kind of like running off at the mouth.  It's not that I don't want a man that talks, I do.  But three thousand-word emails in two days kind of says emotionally needy and I'm not sure I have the energy for that.
I also get to message with #7, the chef.  Ex-rugby player.  This guy is getting closer to WHOA.  Actual, meaningful discussion.
And #8, the older guy, calls me and we have conversation where we actually TALK.  He's interesting and we have similar interests and we talked about our passions.  I include Jesus in mine and and he is of the same mindset.  This also has potential for WHOA.
All this messaging and emailing and actualy conversations is tiring.  I have to get to bed early tonight.  Except that #10 is a guy that works as a nurse on night shift.  So not so early.

Day 7:  I get a text on my way to work wishing me a great day from #8 with a smiley emoji.  I respond in like manner.  Nice.
#10 the nurse wants to talk on my lunch but i go to lunch with older daughter that is in town.  It is soo good to have her here, but I am so glad that she is happy where she is.
After work, and while I'm in my small group Bible study, I get a text from Salt N Pepa wanting to know have I had dinner yet.  I say I'm in small group and will call him whenI am out.  I am kind of glad it didn't work out to go have dinner because I really would have like to have redone my makeup.  But we have a lovely talk after I get home and decide to talk tomorrow.  I am thinking this may have potential for a date.    But here's the thing:  he has an occupation that is very lucrative and I do not want to like someone for what they have.  Money and security are not good foundations upon which to build any kind of relationship.  But I haven't even met him in person, so definitely putting the #cart before the #horse.

Okay, tomorrow is publish day.  While you are reading this, I wonder if I have been too transparent and too real.  But I think that if you're going to do a diary blog, you may as well divulge as much as is appropriate.  So... who do you think has the most potential? Is Salt N Pepa too old for me? (Ten years difference.)  Is The Young and Very Restless too young?  How can I get Mr.TalksaLot to stop texting me?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Social Experiment Time

After my last blog post about 10 Ways to Know if your Online Date is a Scam, I heard from a lot of people that have found love on dating websites and their sister/ brother/ neighbor's friend is now married/ in a relationship/ ecstatically happy. 
Their response is something like "There's no way you have this much bad luck on a dating website," they say.  "You have to be making this stuff up."
Oh, if only I could make this stuff up.  It virtually writes itself into a blog of my life that is almost comical. 
So, in the interest of the common man (and woman), I am going to conduct a social experiment for a month where I legitimately try to make a love connection from a dating website that will go unnamed until the end, but it comes highly recommended to me.  I will make a diary, if you will, of my experience and I will publish once a week just to prove that there is a huge amount of crazy people out there.  But who knows?  I may just find a non-crazy.

So check back next Wednesday, April 6, and the three Wednesdays after to read my tales of woe and hopefully also WHOA.  (Like a guy can be good-looking WHOA.)

If you have any tips you want to pass on, please leave them in the comments.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Three Lessons from a Traffic Light

Like 14 trillion other people in the world, I have a commute from home to work every weekday.  Some statistical people say that we spend six months of our lives waiting at traffic lights.  So it seems normal that some kind of lesson should be learned during this six-month time frame. 

Here's three things to take away from your time sitting at a traffic light:
1.  Back off the caffeine already.
It is so inevitable that other drivers are going to be slower than you when you want to go fast, and other drivers are going to be driving way too fast and they need to stinking slow down, in your humble opinion.  And we all know that the person that is weaving in and out of traffic is going to be waiting for you at the next light.  So I would invite my gentle readers to just take a deep breath, calm down, and just take it easy.  It is all going to work out and you can get happy about it or you can stress about it.  I'd rather be happy.

2.  Don't worry, be happy.
If you look around at other drivers, the majority of them are not looking too happy.  The majority of them look like they are in some kind of stupor, which I can relate to, because I am not a morning person and at the end of the day, I am often just DONE and THROUGH, depending on the events of the day.  So why not listen to something funny or get an audiobook that is your brand of humor?  The Bible says that a merry heart doeth good like medicine, and that is also scientifically true.  Laughter releases endorphins, the body chemical that makes you feel good.  So take the time you drive to be a therapeutic day spa of funniness.  (Trust me, whoever is waiting for you at  home will be much happier to see a happy you.)  Here's a video to get you started:

3.  Just imagine if you had an hour every day to fill.  What would you do?  Learn conversational Spanish?  Develop your lip sync skills?  Learn more about sports?  Since take a nap is obviously not a choice while you are driving, what is your second choice?  I use the time that I commute to return phone calls (yes, actually talk to people), listen to motivational CDs, and I am here to tell you that I can lipsync most any 80's song.  So...what will you fill your time with?  Choose to use.  that is choose to use your time in a productive way that will make you feel a little better about the six months you are going to spend at a traffic light.

And seriously, back off the caffeine.