love

Coming Soon: How not to hide from your crush

I have a long, running list, currently at 53 items, of things I want to do. It’s similar to a 40×40 list, or a bucket list, except without a deadline or end number. This list was born after I read an entrepreneur’s post on Facebook about why she was successful: She tries it all, no matter how silly the idea seems. If something doesn’t work, she moves on. But at least she gave it a shot.

With my newfound permission to try and fail — and potentially succeed or discover new joys in life — I started writing down all the ideas I had of stuff I wanted to do. Dorky little things, fun ideas, big hairy goals (BHG), probably impossibles, and completely ambiguous ideas. It doesn’t matter what it is. If I have even a vague interest in something, I put it on the list to check out. Some items have been crossed off because I’ve done them, some because I’ve tried or started and found out that I very much did not want to continue.

On my list is “write real article for blog.” I’ve been wanting to write a new post on here for a while, and I have a few drafts going, but my goal right now is to write something more than just a dear diary entry. I’ve been stumped about the topic, though. The most obvious seemed like it should tie into another item on my list, “something with coffee,” but meh.

This morning, my “real article” item crashed into another item on the list in an epiphany. The other is a BHG, even labeled as such on my list. It’s major, at least for me. For others, it may be ridiculous, and I get made fun of for it (rightfully so), but it’s legit for me and I don’t care who knows it.

“Learn how to hold prolonged eye contact with men I don’t know.”

Clarifications are in order:

  • I mean flirtatious eye contact.
  • When I’m talking to someone, especially in a professional setting, I’m great at eye contact. It’s just the hot guy sitting a few tables away who oh no he just caught me looking at him abort abort abort
  • I need to stop aborting, smile like a normal human being, and move on without blushing like a teenager caught in the act. I’m 35, for pete’s sake.
  • I once literally hid from a crush when we made eye contact from across a large room. He likely thought I fell down.

When I realized that my incredible inability to flirt could be the topic of my “article,” I immediately got on Google. The results for “how to flirt for shy women” include articles that recommend flirting over text (unhelpful), asking for help (unhelpful), and showing “flirty body language.” Flirty body language is about eye contact while talking to him, smiling, and touching him, some of which is a little difficult from across a room. I’m not Stretch Armstrong with a bullhorn.

Then Christopher Hudspeth nails it. “The thing about shy flirters is that they want to make and not make eye contact at the same time.” Chris gets me. But he offers no suggestions for resisting the flight reaction, which means I’m understood, but in no way better off.

A search for “how to make eye contact for shy women” brings up such classics as “How to Make Eye Contact with a Girl (with Pictures)” by wikiHow.

It’s apparent that I’ve been flirting all wrong. The article doesn’t say to shout, “Ahoy, matey!” upon achieving eye contact, but I assume that’s part of it.

Reading on, I get to the section “Overcoming a Fear of Eye Contact.”

Hmm.

I need to do some research, talk to people who aren’t afraid of eyes, and put the recommendations into practice, which apparently makes my recent binge of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 practice. Hello, season-three Brandon.

I’ll report on my findings.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s talk for a second about what I fear.

I fear I’ll always live paycheck to paycheck and will always feel tethered to my debt.

I fear I’ll be single forever. Just the other day my crush walked past me, and I stared so hard at the ceiling I almost levitated. For as extroverted as I can act, I’m shy around men I don’t know. People who are single have to take responsibility for their part in their singledom, and that’s a large part of mine. See man, hide face! He looked at me – gah! Abort, abort, abort!

I fear I’ll die with regrets. My passport will be too empty and my experiences exploring my own country will be too few. I won’t ever feel true fulfillment with my career. That if I do have a book inside of me, I’ll never write it. That I didn’t tell that one person that one thing because I was worried what they’d think of me.

I fear people (will) pity me for being single. “Such a great girl, but never found love. It’s just so sad.”

Okay. There’s the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure I have more fears, but I can’t think of them all right now. We all have plenty of them; any self-respecting overthinker has more than her fair share.

In the short-term, I’m scared of my move to San Diego. Of the trip I just booked. (Which, I’ll be honest, I’m 50/50 scared and excited every time I book a trip. Doesn’t matter where or how long or with whom.) Of my triathlon next month. Of being so active but uninsured.

So let’s get something straight: I have just as many fears as everyone else. Possibly more. I freak out. I’ve had anxiety attacks. Ever had one of those? Mine started when I was trying to figure out my move from Taiwan back to the States, but I had the most severe one of my life after my former boss fired me over the phone earlier this year. They pop up every now and again.

I hear all the time about how brave I am. People are proud of me for having the courage to do something. I inspire them to take risks in their own lives. And when they are actually inspired, and actually follow through on their big scary goals because they saw me do it, that’s awesome.

Most of the time, though, when someone calls me brave, I feel like a giant fraud. I feel like I’ve been put up on some kind of weird pedestal I don’t deserve.

There’s nothing special about me, my friends. I’m scared, too.

But my biggest fear of all is letting fear run my life. Fear can become an idol, a controlling god, and if you give it power and allow it to control you, it will take over. It will consume you. It will disable you. It will throw you into a depression and make you feel you’ve lost control over your own life.

Most people aren’t completely paralyzed by this demon of self-imposed weakness. That’s good.

What’s not good is how fear keeps people from doing what they know, in the depths of their soul, they need to do. Moving. Being comfortable in their singlehood. Finding a new job. Saying yes. Saying no. Saying stop it. Telling someone how they really feel. Going to therapy. Making that big decision that will change everything. All kinds of -ings.

I’m not belittling anyone facing any of that. Because I’m standing right beside you. You’ve got your fears, I’ve got mine. Let’s hold hands and figure this out.

I manage my fears in a number of ways. My faith helps, especially because I believe God has a sense of humor; I realize I’ll look back on my current fears and laugh at myself. My family and friends help, to, especially because they’ll let me act out my little monologue of despair and then, once I’ve gotten it out of my system, talk me off the stage.

What helps most, especially in long-term management of my fear, is realizing I’ve made whatever it is out to be much larger, much more life-altering, and far more impactful than how it will truly be. Sometimes fear is warranted, but most of the time it’s just self-doubt.

I am not brave. Bravery requires staring down death and acting despite it. I’ve never done that.

I’m just a realist. That fear about living paycheck to paycheck and always having debt – it’s probably true, but I’m not suffering for it. My debt was incurred by traveling or by doing things that bring me joy. My debt, though it seems I’ll be paying it down perpetually, has given me a better quality of life. I’m not drowning. I have control. So… yeah.

That bit about being afraid of being single, and of being a total failure at flirting: I’m doing fine as a single woman. I know what I want in a man, so I’m pushing to be that kind of woman, and the more I become that woman and get to know people in those circles, the happier I am. And for as long as I’m single, I’ll be selfish and do what I want. I’ll move to San Diego. I’ll take trips to places most people don’t want to go. I’ll focus on my career, my friends, my hobbies, my physique.

Do I get lonely? Don’t be an idiot. Of course I do. But the times I’m lonely are generally the times I’ve allowed myself to wallow. I was wallowing earlier this week, so I called my mom, had her help me give myself permission to spend money on a trip, and then booked a trip to Nepal that night.

As for the whole flirting thing, I’m just really hoping that someday I actually levitate.

The final two fears I have, of having regrets and of people pitying me, I take care of by trying to say Yes as often as possible. How else was I talked into doing triathlons, half marathons, moving abroad, eating chicken feet, trying speed dating, doing Whole30, taking last-minute trips, and getting tattoos? Either someone else asked me to, and I said yes, or my crazy brain came up with some harebrained idea and I decided to make it work.

All that keeps me busy enough that most people, at least to my face, don’t pity me for being alone. I think it’s because they realize I’m not alone. I’m just single.

So there’s my long-winded secret. I have just as many fears as the next person. I’m not brave, and that’s a rumor that needs to go away because it’s unfair to actual brave people. I just manage my fears.

After all, really and truly: What’s the worst that could happen?

Online dating, chapter 12: Match stats

Match likes to send me statistics. As a number nerd, I rather like statistics, especially when they’re in an infographic. Like this one:

SIA_2014_Infographic

 

I don’t believe in love at first sight. This is especially true after I met Zachary Levi and he didn’t immediately fall in love with me; I was so sure our eyes would lock from across the theater, and he wouldn’t be able to rest until he met me and swept me off my feet… but no. Apparently not. Ergo: love at first sight is bunk.

The only thing he’s not allowed to talk about is politics. Debating is on my list of favorite things right after root canals, and no person in the history of ever can talk about politics without trying to prove that other opinions are wrong. He’s more than welcome to bring up religion or his exes, honestly; the way he talks about either of those topics will tell me a lot about him.

I definitely judge attire, not gonna lie, though I’m a fine one to talk with my jeans and Vans. A man in non-dad jeans, especially when it’s paired with a tailored blazer, just looks good. If he’s wearing Ed Hardy or anything bedazzled, peace out. He’s not allowed to sparkle more than me.

His car doesn’t matter so much as long as it’s not a hoarder’s paradise, although I do have a thing for men who drive SUVs and Ford trucks.

As for the tattoo judgment, I can’t say I’m surprised. I have two large tattoos, and if he has a problem with them, he doesn’t get to see them. Easy fix. Men who have ugly tats won’t get an immediate thumbs down, but I will say that there’s a sexy way to ink and a cover-that-up-immediately way. Random clip art thrown haphazardly on skin is just awkward.

In other news, has anyone else caught that new show on Bravo, “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male”? Like every other “reality” show, this one has to be scripted. Must be. There’s no way these people are that bad at dating… although my Dave & Buster’s date a few weeks ago would suggest otherwise.

I have a few ideas of things I want to try once I get back from Taiwan – rewrite my profile, send Match mail to a few guys who were immediate Yeses. That sort of thing. Until then, though, this blog will return to its originally-scheduled programming: I’m traveling, and I’m going to blog about it.

What a relief.

Dear 2015 Me

Dear January 3, 2015 Me,

You turn 33 this year. That’s weird to say, since I’m only 31 now, but I am talking to one-year-in-the-future me, after all.

This is weird. I don’t know if I should tell you what I hope life is like in a year, or if I should remind you what it’s like right now. Maybe I’ll do both.

I’m in the midst of a challenge Jeff Goins is putting on – 500 words, every day, for the entire month of January. It’s only January 3, and I’m wondering how I’m going to manage throwing together a grand total of, at the minimum, 15,500 words. I had to use Google to find a prompt today. I took, “When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?” from The Daily Post on WordPress and morphed it into today’s topic.

Yeah. Before editing, as of right now I’m at 135 words. Here we go.

Friday, January 3, 2014: you’re fat. I’m fat. I weigh, at my last weigh-in, 234.4 pounds. I have a belly – I’ve never had a belly before. I feel it in my ankles, in my back, in my lungs. My face looks like the Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters – wide, fleshy, and white. My underarms are constantly eating my shirts and staining them because I sweat a lot.

I keep saying “you” instead of “I”. I’m correcting them for clarity’s sake. This letter is awkward to write. I hope I like it in a year.

My current celebrity crush is Zachary Levi – whom I saw last month in First Date on Broadway when I visited Caitlin. Maybe Alex O’Loughlin, too, but that could be because I’m watching Hawaii 5-0 right now. I watched a marathon of The Game a couple weeks ago and had a short-lived crush on Jay Ellis. Then I read that he preferred women in stilettos.

Nope. Moving on.

I’m sitting in my apartment, on my bed. I moved in here on October 11. That weekend was rough. Maybe you remember that, maybe not. Two weekends later Mad got married. October was a stressful month, to say the least. I’m still trying to dig my way out of the little bit of credit card debt I accrued, which sucks, because I had no credit card debt for a while. Life has calmed down a lot, finally, and right now it feels good to have less on my plate; I’m sure I’ll be bored again soon, though.

I was in a “relationship”. Oh, yeah – that one. Thankfully, I officially moved on in June of 2013. It was a beautiful epiphany: I was sitting at a red light after work, talking to a guy on the phone, and realized I was flirting. The pang of guilt I usually felt when entertaining thoughts of dating someone other than X never materialized. I was over him. I was free. I was relieved.

X never read this blog. You’ve stopped being bitter about the nevers, right? I know I need to let go of the frustration, but I’m having trouble. Please tell me I’m not harping on the nevers anymore. It’s so not worth it.

I’m hoping to start dating again soon. Thanks to my weight socking my self-confidence in the gut, I shouldn’t get involved just yet. BUT. Within a year, I hope my love life isn’t a joke. Please say it’s not. It’s kind of pathetic. Laughably bad.

Maybe I’ll finally be dating some hot CrossFitter. Hel-LO.

(You’d better be in CrossFit. You’d better not be this fat.)

I want to go to Taiwan to visit. And Hawaii to see Marianne. I have to stop thinking about travel because every time I start thinking of all the places I want to go, it makes me panic that I’ll never be able to. Has that feeling gone away yet? Am I traveling more? That hot CrossFitting boyfriend you have better love travel.

In a year, especially now that I have a really good idea of which direction I want my career to go, I’d better be making more money. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.

Do I still live in Dallas? I’m torn right now. It’s great being so close to Mad and so many good friends, plus Mom and Dad (and Sawyer) right down the road. It sucks being surrounded by people you love, but not loving the city where you live. Are you in Colorado?

Holy cow, do you still get the, “Oh, you want to move to Colorado because they legalized pot!” question? I’m sick of it. I want to move to Colorado because mountains. Outside. Snow! Healthy lifestyle. Living in a vacation state. Nature! Cool weather!

Have you figured that out yet? The west coast or just west. Something. Maybe you met someone from Vancouver. A CrossFitter from Vancouver! If only God took requests like a DJ. I’d like living in Canada. All the jokes about how nice Canadians are make me want to live there.

I’m hoping for several big life changes in 2014. If you didn’t get them all done, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Get to it.

If I did have a very good 2014… what’s in store for 2015?

All done,
January 3, 2014 Me

(894)

A Fort Worth wedding

On October 26, 2013, my sister got married. Planning her wedding, with all the details and countless To Do lists, was stressful, fun, frustrating (at times), expensive (though, compared to most weddings, the budget was modest), and the stuff nightmares were made of (literally, because all of us had wedding-related dreams).

Thankfully, we had help. A lot of it. Presenting, in alphabetical order, the people and places that made it all possible.

Allison Davis Photography

http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/

(For whatever reason, these pictures are not showing up in this post as crystal-clear as they should be, and that’s my computer’s fault. I can assure you that all of Allison’s photos are absolutely flawless. Just check out her blog!)

(c) Allison Davis Photography

First look.

Engagements blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/04/23/maddie-steve-dallas-engagement-portraits/

Bridal portraits blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/11/01/maddy-dallas-bridal-portrait-photographer/

Wedding blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/11/25/maddy-steven-wedding-at-marty-leonard-chapel/

Allison Davis Photography

A shot from the piano/organ balcony inside the chapel.

There’s no question – if you’re getting married, Allison needs to be your photographer. See her Google+ page for my review. My family fell in love with her, and before the day was over, we were ready to adopt her into our clan.

shooting Mom and Mad

The great thing about this is you can see Mom and Mad mugging for Allison, and Tasha (mentioned later in this post) in the back right of the frame.

 

Bridal Boutique

http://bridalboutiquelew.reachlocal.net/

Mad found her wedding dress here, and Mom found her Mother of the Bride dress here. We fell in love with Mad’s consultant, Candice, and the boutique was great from the first round in the dressing room to final alterations.

Lewisville, Texas Bridal Boutique

Bridal Boutique - Candice

Carolyn

One of my Mom’s former room mothers and a good friend, Carolyn, took Mad’s decorations and ran with them. If you ever need an event decorated, and you’re in Texas, she’s your woman. She is selfless, generous, and can calm a first-time-Mother-of-the-Bride-to-be with ease. Just ask my mom.

Decadent Designs

http://www.etsy.com/shop/decadentdesigns

I placed a rush order with Decadent Designs for items for the bachelorette party and reception entry table. Lynsey was helpful and gracious, even when I placed the order, which usually takes 1-2 weeks plus shipping time, 9 days before the event. Of course, I managed to order one item in the wrong color, but it was all a hit.

Box and cards from Decadent Designs

bags and tags from Decadent Designs

Bags and tags from Decadent Designs, personalized wine glasses from Pickles N’ Vodka (see below).

 

Hobby Lobby

The number of times Carolyn and/or my mother were in Hobby Lobby is a bit ridiculous. It was our crafty-wedding-go-to store.

 

Jennifer Boyd Designs

http://www.etsy.com/shop/JenniferBoydDesigns
http://www.facebook.com/JenniferBoydDesigns

Jen is a great friend of mine and makes incredible wreaths. She made a custom Aggie wreath for Carolyn as a thank you for all her help.

Jennifer Boyd Designs

This wasn’t Carolyn’s wreath, but one for some mutual friends. It’s about 2 feet in diameter and at least 6 inches thick. Jen don’t joke around.

 

Kris

“Hey, Kris – I want a sign for my sister’s bachelorette in two days. Wanna help?”
“Sure!”

Within hours, I had a .psd file in my inbox. She even modified it to my specifications – here I am, asking for her help, and then getting bossy. But Kris went above and beyond. You need graphic design or multimedia design, then you need Kris.

Kris's framed sign

Marty Leonard Chapel

http://www.lenapopehome.org/marty-leonard-chapel/

The people at Marty Leonard Chapel were kind, helpful, and patient. The venue is elegant, uncluttered, intimate, and timeless. We loved it.

Marty Leonard Chapel outside

Marty Leonard Chapel inside

Melanie

Mel and I scoured Musicnotes for Mad’s ceremony music. Mel played the Forrest Gump Suite for the wedding party processional, Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for Mad’s processional (the arrangement moves me to tears every single time), and The Wonderful World of Harry Potter for the recessional. Having a member of the family play such personal music for Mad’s wedding was moving and perfect.

Mel also catered the bachelorette party. I know. Woman’s talented.

yay Mel!

mini cupcakes

Allison Davis Photography

The piano in Marty Leonard Chapel is upstairs over the front door. Here, you can see Mel and her husband, Mikey, watching the wedding.

 

Party Time Rentals

Another go-to place for Mom and Carolyn – Party Time Rentals. They bent over backward for this wedding, and we will always be grateful for it.

 

Pickles ‘N Vodka

http://www.facebook.com/PicklesnVodka

Bri does graphic design, calligraphy, and artsy-craftsy stuff that just blows my mind. She made personalized wine glasses for Mad’s bachelorette party.

plain wineglasses made sparkly

Tasha

A family friend who recorded the wedding and created Mad and Steven’s wedding video.

recording the ceremony

Here’s Tasha in action.

(Thanks to my mom and Uncle Paul for some of these pictures.)

In search of Awesome

I get it. Of course I get it. Sometimes being single is kinda lame. It gets lonely. I want to meet a man who makes me happy to wake up in the morning and gives me unfiltered, un-self-conscious, unbelievable love. If you know me, you know just how Duh that statement is.

But, Single Friends, we’ve got to stop the couples bashing. The singlehood bashing. The dating pool bashing. The preferred-romantic-gender bashing. It’s time to quit the pessimism, the whining, the “WHERE IS MY PERSON?” one-track mindset.

We need to perk up.

I had to stop following all the “single and dating” blogs and have hidden a few Facebook friends for their constant love life pessimism. I’m not immune, that’s for sure. I text my sister and complain about being alone or whine about how a potential Mr Awesome Manfriend didn’t turn out so awesome.

(‘Sup, Steven.)

There’s a line from The Wedding Date that pops into my head every once and a while, and I chew on it and internally debate whether or not I believe it on a fairly regular basis.

“Every woman has the exact love life she wants.”

Well… but, no. Not really. But maybe? I guess that’s kinda true. Only a little. I think?

Here’s the deal. If I’d gotten my wish and had found Mr Awesome in Austin, it’s highly likely I never would’ve come to Taiwan. I would’ve missed out on this crazy adventure. Then, my friends and I thought I was going to meet Javier Bardem and live the Eat Pray Love life and live happily ever after abroad once I became an expat.

Yeah, nope. But that’s okay.

Because I’m single, I’ve been able to be abusively selfish with my time. I can move anywhere I want without consulting anyone. As much as I’d love to share my time and energy with Mr Awesome, he’s not in the picture. For my hypercomplicated life right now, that’s a total blessing; it takes a heavily-weighted variable out of my September-move equation, and solving for the X, aka where I’m going to end up, is a little easier.

X marks the spot. Except X is Waldo and I can’t find that striped-shirted little guy anywhere.

Sure, my story is different, but to my friends happy in their careers and locations, but unhappy with their love lives, please consider this advice: get busy. When you’re too busy to remember you’re single, it’s easier. You meet people, you’re invigorated, and you stop maniacally focusing on finding your own Awesome.

One final thought: if you wouldn’t date yourself, why should anyone else? You have to love yourself before you can be happy and in a healthy relationship. Everyone has baggage, flaws, faults, mistakes, and skeletons in their closets. You’re not a unique butterfly in your messed-upedness. Sorry. Realize your own awesomeness and let the bruises heal. They will. But you’ve got to stop beating yourself up.

“The hardest thing is loving someone and then having the courage to let them love you back.” Be brave, be strong, but don’t be overly dramatic. Being single isn’t a disease, it’s just a state of being. Awesome is out there, Single Friends, but remember – we’re also prepping to be someone’s Awesome. So let’s get out there and be awesome.

[Putting soapbox away]