Thanksgiving With A Twist

The holidays are one of the many drawbacks post divorce.  A time that once brought me such joy, now consumes me in a tornado of expenses, stress and scheduling conflicts.

This Thanksgiving was mine to spend with our son, R. However, when R’s football coach announced we had a tournament in Las Vegas over the holiday weekend, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.  Don’t get me wrong, I was just as excited as R upon hearing the news.  Visions of my son and I on a plane, cuddling in a hotel room before joining the team for  Thanksgiving dinner got me all warm inside.   Unfortunately, with the high cost of holiday travel, that vision quickly dissipated.

My ex and I get a long well.  So, I proposed we rent a car and split the costs to make the trip.  He casually dismissed this idea, and informed me he and R were catching a ride with a teammate.  They would be home Sunday and he would return R to me then.  I was crushed. I was mad.  I even cried.  But, knowing him like I do, I decided not to push the issue.

I planned to keep myself busy.  I would spend Thanksgiving day watching my Cowboys game and then head over to my girlfriend’s for dinner.  Friday I had scheduled a second date with a nice man in South Bay.   The remainder of the weekend, I would spend getting the house dialed in for the holidays, in turn surprising R when he got home from his trip.    I could do this. “I got this shit handled!” would be my holiday weekend mantra.

Thanksgiving came and went.  I missed R, but all in all had a good day and I got a lot of shit done (like fixing my vacuum – myself!!).

Friday, I woke early, so I could chat with R before his game.  I sent my ex a text and then our conversation went something like this:

Ex: Wishing this tournament was closer for you and the family to come. Certainly missing that aspect of life right now once again :((((

Me: Me, too..

Ex: Why don’t you rent a car and come surprise your son?  I will split the cost with you.  You can bunk in our room, if you share R’s bed (um, duh- me).

Me: You don’t have to tell me twice!  I will text you when I am on my way!

I couldn’t call my date quick enough to reschedule.  He was less than supportive (future blog post, stay tuned).    I was going to be spontaneous and surprise my boy and watch him play his final football game of the season!

The Ex texted me, as I got into town and told me to go relax at the hotel, since the team was all at Circus Circus.  I was too excited for the surprise and offered to join them at Adventuredome.  It only took about 45 minutes to park and another 30 to find them but when I saw The Ex, he had a Lime-A-Rita waiting for me.  So, we were off to a good start!  I looked around this dome of chaos (Did I tell you how much I really love my son?) and waited for R to exit a ride.  I saw him in the distance casually walking in my direction, his eyes darting around at all the rides and people and then almost as if he felt me there,  he looked up.  His eyes locked onto mine briefly.  Then he glanced away.  After a few more steps, he looked at me again and that’s when his smile consumed every inch of his freckled face.  He ran up to me and opened his arms as wide as he could.  He buried his head into my chest and I held onto him and that moment for as long as I could.

The weekend had every ingredient of a Hallmark Christmas movie.  The first night as we settled into bed, R whispered, “That was a really, big surprise, mom.”  And if that wasn’t enough to give George Bailey a run for his “holiday money”, our football team brought home the championship trophy!  My ex and I got along famously, I didn’t even wince when he rolled in to our room at 1 am Friday night.  Plus, it was sure nice to be able to split all the travel expenses with someone.

We hadn’t spent Thanksgiving together in 3 years.  But when I look back on Thanksgiving 2015, I will be filled with a different version of that “holiday joy” I once had.    It may not have been a traditional family celebration, but it was special nonetheless.

In addition to all the other amazing things in my life, I have to say, I am grateful for My Ex this year.

c.

Navigating Online Dating, Part II

As I mentioned in Part One, online dating can quickly become overwhelming and discouraging.  I am here to share with you what has worked for me.  There are no hard and fast rules, but there are some steps you can take to ease the process; therefore making it more enjoyable.

I was going to start with How to Search for Mr. Right, but more than likely you will have a gazillion messages waiting for you after day one. So, lets get straight to messaging.

1.) Messages from Mr. Wrongs –  I sort through these fairly quickly deleting and/or blocking anyone who has sent something trivial or offensive.  However, if it appears a guy has taken the time to read your profile and write you a nice message, please take the time to thank him with a reply.  An example:  “Thank you so much for your kind words.  However, after reading your profile, I don’t think we would be a match….”

Believe it or not, men can take rejection.  Nine guys out of ten, will be appreciative of your response.  But lets be clear here, there is always Guy Number Ten and more than likely his profile is filled with blurry pictures from the 90’s of him riding a dirt bike, jumping out of a plane, surfing, posing with a large fish, sitting next to a chained up tiger, a few gym pics and last but certainly not least – the shirtless bathroom selfie.  His reply will probably go something like this, “I love music, eat food and breathe air. So why wouldn’t we be a good match?”  Don’t take the time out of your busy day attempting to explain yourself.   There is no point in engaging Action Jackson, his ego or his chest.

2.) Replying to Mr. Might Be Right –  When you receive a message from  someone who piques your interest, take your time and read his profile in depth before replying.  Note things in common and also look for something to mention in your reply that will make him laugh.  When looking at his pictures, keep in mind physical traits that are/aren’t important to you  and make sure those aren’t being “cleverly” hidden (i.e. not showing teeth when smiling, no full body shots).

3.) Moving from the world of Online dating to the real world –  I think it’s a good idea to move fairly quickly to the next step of exchanging numbers.  Texting is a great way to get to know someone, their sense of humor, spelling skills and most importantly their emoji-use. 😉

After a day or two of texting, it’s time to move on to the Phone Date.    Speaking on the phone is very important before agreeing to meet someone.  You can get a better idea of the chemistry between the two of you.  Plus, it can offer a little relief to both parties- I don’t know about you, but if I were a guy and the hot little blond I had been texting the last few days ended up having the phone voice reminiscent of a 60 year old, male chain smoker, I may rethink inviting her for coffee and instead  drag her to a karaoke bar..  But that’s just me…

Which takes us to the next step… “The Initial Meet Up”.  Stay tuned…

 

Twenty or so Thank Yous

A few years back, my dear friend, Julie shared with me her rekindled love of handwritten notes and cards.  She realized handwritten communication was quickly becoming a lost art.  So, she started a crusade (of sorts) to bring them back.  She had just read a book called, 365 thank Yous by John Kralik.  I decided to read it while my husband, kids and I were at our vacation home in Utah.  It was the first book in years, I finished in one day.  The story is a recount of Mr. Kralik’s experience of writing one thank you note a day for a year, what he learned and how his life changed by simply letting others in on how he appreciated them.  I was inspired, to say the least.

It wasn’t long after, I began to see posts on Julie’s Facebook wall from grateful friends, who received cards and notes from her in the mail.  I wanted to do this! But as a wife, mother and business owner, I barely had time to write out my grocery list- let alone 365 letters sharing my feelings.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when I became single.  In November of 2013,  I started a ritual.  I committed to write one thank you card for each day I was at work. First, I made a list of 20 or so people/businesses that had touched/helped me over the past year.  I would write them out on my 15 minute break and pop them in the mail at lunch.  The feedback was rewarding to say the least.  It made me feel good that I could share my feelings of appreciation with others without actually having to engage in a conversation with them.

This is my third year in a row, and I wish I could tell you that I’m up to 365 Thank Yous a year or even a full 30 for each day in November, but my list is still roughly 20.  However, I believe the rewards are just as sweet. This year I have thanked:

An Ex-Boyfriend

The tire shop, where I get air in my tires every other month

A long-lost girlfriend

And even a guy I went on one date with last month.  Actually, he just received the card yesterday and called and left the sweetest voicemail.  I had thanked him for reminding me there were still true gentlemen out there.  The appreciation was apparent in his voice and I don’t think I will ever delete that message.

The lesson here, is never suppress a kind thought.  And once you put those thoughts in writing they will never be forgotten.

Check out Julie’s Blog A Letter A Week

Navigating the Rough Waters of Online Dating Part 1

The world of online dating is a completely different experience for a woman than it is for a a man.  The second a  woman signs up for a dating sight, she is basically “thrown to the sharks”.  I know this because one of my very first online dates worked for a site and he was kind (or maybe “buzzed”) enough to share some of the tricks of the Online Dating “trade”.

Once a female has created her online profile, she will appear in every man’s Search (whether she matches his criteria or not) for the first few weeks of membership.  With all of that exposure, she will then be flooded with messages.

Online Dating Guy also shared these two ploys with me:

1.) Inactive profiles show up in searches to make it look like there are more members than there actually are.

2.) Your “online now” light stays on long after you logout (which could potentially get you into trouble down the road).

After a few days, you may begin to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of your fan mail.  But don’t throw in that towel just yet.  Let’s try and organize the process, shall we?

Choosing your site – First off, decide if you have it in your budget to pay for a service.  As a single mom, it is hard to justify $20.00 or more per month to subscribe to a dating site.  In the beginning, it is probably best used towards gas in your car or treating the kids to pizza on a night you are too tired to cook.  With that being said, I recommend going with a free site at first.

These are the sites, I have tried and my opinions of them:

Match (overpriced and unorganized)

Tinder (often referred to as a hook-up site)

Okcupid (so far, so good)

POF (ew, just ew)

Zoosk (lame)

DBG (not enough members, yet)

EHarmony (ridicuously long process and price).

If you’re feeling intrepid, pick two.  Personally, I have had the best luck with OKCupid and Tinder.

OKC offers a free or paid service and is famous for it’s quirky questions that range from super irrelevant to super invasive.  But by answering them you up your chances of finding a good match.

Once questions are answered you can narrow down your choices using the percentage you match with someone.  There is also a really great search feature which allows you to narrow members by age, location, height, and so on.  And with a paid subscription, you get an even greater search tool (for picky daters like me) and are notified of who “likes” you.

My favorite feature of OKC is the Invisible Browsing.  When I find someone I am really excited about, I tend to read and re-read their profile.  I want to show my friends to get their opinion and before you know it I appear to be Cyber Stalker of the Year. To avoid giving off a premature Glenn Close/Fatal Attraction vibe, just screen shot their profile and pics. By doing this, you can safely refer back to their profile and show off his photos to your friends(and he won’t be concerned for the safety of his pets).

Personally, I have had two boyfriends in the past 3 years and met both of them on OKCupid.  So, perhaps Cupid isn’t so Stupid after all.

Tinder gets a bad rap.  It’s like the slutty step-sister of dating sites.  But I like Tinder.  It’s not only free, but YOU are in charge of who can message you. The only men who can contact you are the ones you  swipe right (like) to.  This saves a lot of time and frustration, as I tend to be a magnet for the guys who have profile pictures that look like they were taken by the local police department or at a retirement home.

In order to create a profile on Tinder, you have to have a Facebook account.  That feature adds to the chances that Tinderfella’s age, photos and friends are legit.  Obviously, this isn’t always the case, so use caution.    I also appreciate the fact mutual FB interests and friends are displayed.  This has been very helpful.  For example, if I am checking out a guy’s profile and I see we have a mutual female friend in common, I will contact said friend to verify how she knows him before I swipe right.

I am still friends with some really great guys I met on Tinder.  If it weren’t for Tinder, I probably wouldn’t have had my first (and only)PBR with a PSB (Pro Snowboarder) or  learned how to play a card game called Tonk with an Ex-NFL pro-bowler, in addition to some other really cool experiences.

Tinder and online dating in general is what you make it.  You are in control.    Make it fun and easy.  But don’t be easy!

Stay tuned for Part II.