Date your Jeans

It’s always been hard for me to see my friends sad about dating. Either they are sad because no one in particular is calling, no one is calling at all, the one they really want to call isn’t calling, or the wrong one is calling them…it’s a tough battle. On one hand dating can be so fun. On the other dating can become mundane, tiring and like digging a ditch. When have you dug “enough?”

First, I would like to say that if you are not having fun dating STOP! Take a break. Fill your calendar with things that feed your soul. Spend time with friends who make you laugh. Go dancing, workout, hit the spa. Spend time alone. Love being alone. Seriously, find a way to love your freedom. Then, get back out there and date. You’ll probably be asked out along your journey of loving the single life. People are always attracted to someone whose living fancy free.

Second, remind yourself that you are not dating to settle. You’re not looking to say “yeah this one will do.” When you are shopping for furniture a couch or chair “will do.” You don’t want to say “yeah, it’s ok, it’s nice.” My dear readers wall paper is nice! Yes, I have said that before and I will say it again. You get one life. Don’t spend it with wall paper. Spend it being your whole awesome self. Doing the things you love. Your first dates with a new person should feel as exciting as finding the perfect jeans. Not the ones that are too tight, or stretch out into shapes that don’t match yours. No, I’m talking that perfect pair of jeans that no matter dirty or clean they just feel wonderful. If you don’t know what I am talking about, stop dating. Go jeans shopping. Try them all on! The bell bottoms and high waist ones too. Go to vintage shops, go to bloomingdales. Seriously find the perfect pair. The jeans that make you stand taller. When you have those jeans then get back out their. You now know what you’re looking for in your partner. Someone who excites you so much you can’t wait to put them on.

Already have these jeans then go put them on and then make a date with your friends. Do not talk about dating at all. Talk about life, dreams, trips desires and see how much lighter you feel. Enjoy talking about the positive in your life. Then you can go back out on dates.

Because if you are not happy in your life, if you are not happy in your jeans, then every date, even a good one will feel bleh.

Lastly, if you are not freaking excited about the thought of them calling or texting you then let it go. Don’t wallow over a bad date you don’t care about. Who cares if the person you only liked a little doesn’t call. That’s a bullet dodged, my friends. I know you want to have a partner in crime. But, you should really want that partner. Don’t waste your time with jeans that don’t fit. Donate them. They are perfect fit for someone else. And that’s a great thing!

Enjoy your perfect jeans, readers.


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How To Be Single

If you didn’t read my Valentine’s Survival post, you might not know, but I’m the single one of the Live ClareLesley pair.  Lesley has had her fair share of time being in the single’s pool–just go read her Duty Dating!  But here I am, staring down the start of my 36th year, and I’m single.  For New Years, one of my Goals was to give up dating.  Valentine’s Day, I deleted all dating apps off of my phone.  I decided, at this moment I can’t be bothered with them anymore.  I haven’t stopped dating, I just don’t want to deal with anyone hiding behind their phone or computer any longer–and lets face it, I was tired of having fake relationships with people I don’t even know, through a device.

There are many moments that I wish I had a plus one, but really, I’m in those lovely in-between years where everyone is having kids, and weddings are much less frequent.  So needing a date is not a requirement (not that anyone needs a plus one at a wedding–it’s just preferred).  I’ve become a whiz at how to handle singledom.  I live.  I thrive.  I’m happy!  I don’t understand why so many people hate and dread it.  Being single is a great thing! (A lot of friends in couples say to me that they sometimes wish they were single again because they envy the freedom or alone time or whatever.)  Yes, there isn’t a built in conversation partner in singledom, but hey, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one to be had!  Scroll through your phone or email list right now–I’ll bet you that there are at least five people that you have great conversations with that you haven’t talked to in a while.  Why not hit them up for a conversation, a glass of wine, a movie, an art show?

Being single isn’t being alone.  That is the first thing you have to understand and realize is that all “single” means is that you’re not in a pair.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll always be–unless you choose it.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll end up lonely and alone.  Those are all choices!  You can choose how you want to spend your days.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m always blissfully happy.  Sometimes I have a case of the “mean reds” as Holly Golightly calls them.  Most days are pretty great.  I get to choose all aspects of my day like what to have for dinner, and if I can take a gig on my own (which is sometimes, but rarely annoying).  I don’t have to be home at a specific time, but I don’t have someone to greet me when I get there either… well, my roommate is pretty awesome, but she’s not always home.  I have plenty of great relationships in my life.  But whether its a romantic one of platonic one, relationships do take work and time–whatever you want to get out of one, you have to put in.  People are busy, so reach out early and often!

Here are some tips on how to thrive as a single:

1) Go out and do things.  Yes it sounds simple, and not so simple all at the same time.  Join book clubs, meetups, sports teams, take music lessons or dance classes, join a choir or theater group.  What is it that you most want to do, or always wish you did, or do when you’re on vacation?  Start there and find a group to join!

2) Do things with friends!  If you want to go to the movies, the theater, art museums, concerts, out to eat, out for drinks–anything that you might do with a date–do with a friend!  Set up a weekly date or monthly date with the same, or with different friends.  Maybe even treat this time and they can treat the next (I LOVE this one because it feels like a date)!  Different friends will like different activities, and maybe will even introduce you to new things (and maybe even, wink wink, new people)!

3) Do things on your own!  If you want to go to the movies, the theater, art museums, concerts, out to eat, out for drinks–anything that you might do with a date–do by yourself!  You never know who you’ll meet, and you’ll find that you enjoy doing things on your own.  About the only thing I won’t do by myself is going out to dinner (and that is just because I’m not big on sitting at a table by myself).  I love going to the movies and the theater and even taking a picnic lunch on my own–its fun to people watch, and to see something and have something that is completely mine.  Often if I want to discuss it, I have friends and my parents who are always willing to hear about my adventures afterwards.

4) Find a mantra for yourself when you start to feel lonely, or pathetic, or sad.  For instance tell yourself that you are amazing and surround yourself with a great life.  Say it over and over.  Say it to yourself in the mirror.  Put happy thoughts on sticky notes and place them around the house for yourself to see.  Remind yourself that there is good in the world, and that you are good!  Think of the happy thoughts or the mantra whenever you start to feel down–stave away the sadness!

5) Keep being social.  Whatever this means to you–keep pursuing the avenues that will put you out in the world.  If you want to stay up on dating sites and apps, go for it!  If you want to have a night out with friends and go to bars or parties or gatherings and meet people and possible dates, do so!  You will only date if you keep looking.  Personally, I take sabbaticals from dating.  I will be active for a few months and then take a couple of months off and focus on me–usually, I’m busy doing projects and shows anyway!  To be bluntly honest, dating drives me crazy.  So much rejection happens before you find a good one.  That’s a LOT of negativity, even for my Pollyanna optimism.  Vacations from anything are good for the soul.  Go focus on yourself or friendships for a month or two, and then dive back in, refreshed.

6) Remember that all the love you need is coming at you at any given moment.  It might not be from the exact direction and in the large amount from one person you are looking for, but it is surrounding you.  Your parents, friends, relatives, co-workers all want you to be happy and loved.  And love begets love: so go out and give love to friends, relatives, the homeless, animals, through a mentor program, etc!  You’ll most likely get more love in return!

7) Also remember that everyone feels lonely and alone some days–even those with people sleeping next to them.  No one’s situation is continually perfect.  There are ups and downs of coupledom and singledom no matter who you are.  Its funny in a society that continually allows us to connect, we have put up the biggest walls.  Get out and go meet up with people face to face.  Or even just take a walk or a drive that is different from your norm–changing up your routine is a great jumpstart to happiness.  Being with some one is great, but its also nice to have a little quiet.

8) Get friendly with the quiet times.  You have to be able to live in moments of silence.  I’ve found that I love and treasure them.  They are haaaaarrrrrd at the beginning, but they do get easier.  Find a quiet thing for yourself to do.  I’m a big fan of journaling.  Also lists help you take control.  Maybe yours is knitting, reading magazines, playing a game, working on a puzzle, writing, golfing, swimming, rock climbing.  Whatever it is, make time for it and yourself.  Be aware of your thoughts.

9) Speaking of which: Be aware of your thoughts.  Let them run their course.  If you cannot deal with them at this moment, don’t ignore them; instead tell the thought you don’t have time right now and you’ll get back to it.  I had a teacher in college that said, “you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room before moving on, otherwise all anyone will notice is the elephant in the room.”  Tell the thought you will get back to it.  Think through it when the time comes.  Breathe a lot.  Love yourself.

Remember, the right one isn’t “out there” but instead is inside of you.  When you are truly a whole and complete person within, you will stumble into the right romantic situation.  Focus on being the best you.  Be a full and complete person.  Be the best you, you can be and live life.  To quote Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come.  Even if they don’t, you now know how to be awesome at being single.  And always, Live ClareLesley.


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Valentine’s Survival

I wrote this January 10th and while starting thought: I’m writing, ugh, a Valentine’s Blog. (We’re trying to get ahead so we can spend more time editing the book…yes, its coming. Get excited. Stay tuned!) Just to think about Valentines so far in advance makes me take deep breaths, and requires me to relax my shoulders.

I’ve been single every Valentine’s Day of my adult life. The rational part of my brain says, “its just another day.” The anti-greeting-card-gal thinks, “there are 364 perfectly other good days of the year to say ‘I love you’ so why are you all doing it today?” The 10-year old inside urges me to buy the kiddie valentines and give them to my friends when I see them. I’ve spent a few sad Valentine’s Days feeling sorry for myself for being single, but I refuse to do that anymore. Instead, I choose to give and observe, love and caring instead. I know it sounds cheesy, and I’m still fantastically single, so I totally understand if this statement makes you cringe. Nevertheless, here is my recipe for a sorrow-free or at least a sorrow-less greeting-card-holiday.

1) Screw the red and pink hearts/flowers/balloons! Unless you like it all… then share it, respectfully! Reach out to those closest to you: Mom, dad, best friend, lover, child, roommate, pet, music teacher, bus driver, barista, writing partner. Tell them in some way you appreciate them. Feel free to make a monetary gesture if you feel it necessary, but love is best exchanged in heartfelt words.

2) Make your own damn plans. If you have a significant other or not, if you have friends, children, pets—if this is your holiday, go make your own plans. How do you want to spend the evening? With strangers at a bar? With friends around your own home cooked meal? Serving a meal to the homeless? With family members cuddled on the couch to watch a silly movie? Drinking a bottle of wine while on the phone with your mom who has a similar bottle of wine at her house? Don’t wait around to be picked—no one EVER liked being the last one picked in kickball at recess… screw that feeling. Do what will make you feel the happiest on this day. Plan it early, plan it late. Answer this question now without thinking: What will make you the happiest? Do that.

3) Don’t put so much damn pressure on your plans. I cannot begin to tell you how many Friend-en-tines parties I’ve thrown or attended, or even just made dinner plans, and put so much pressure on them that they were doomed from the beginning. This holiday should be about appreciation of relationships you share. Its been 6 weeks since our last major holiday to get together… relax and remember that you enjoy the people in your life. Spend the evening with people that make you laugh, food that makes you happy, and go places you won’t feel lonely.  Keep the day free of expectations!

4) Be prepared. If you throw a party, there might be a crier. There will probably be a few engagement announcements the following day. You might or might not get laid. Someone might give you a heartfelt something, making you realize that if they were picking kickball teams, you wouldn’t be last.  If any or all of these happen, take deep breaths and roll with it. February 15 is a day away. All will go back to normal tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day isn’t my holiday. Some years I get into it, and others I don’t. I’ve found that the best, and most memorable (or least memorable, depending on your perspective) Valentine’s were low key and spent with people who love me. I am so incredibly grateful to have so many incredible friends, most who would drop everything when I’m in need, to text me and tell me they’re available in 5 minutes. Just kidding—most would drop everything and run to me in a heartbeat.  (I love you all so much, and am infinitely thankful we’ve found each other.)

In every tribe there is a gatherer, a shaman, a group leader, a healer, the mama. I’m that person, in most circumstances. The hard part of that is not the being needed, instead it’s the asking for help and love when I need it. When I’m truly hurting, it hurts even more to ask for love. I’m telling you this because I understand the depths of despair and loneliness that holidays bring. I also understand that once I get over myself, and just ask for care that I want or need, it is given. Immediately. Wholeheartedly. Without hesitation. Don’t be afraid to ask for love.  Especially on Valentine’s Day.

I found my soul mate at the end of last year. Its kind of ridiculous, because its nothing like I would have assumed or expected. Its not storybook, or text book, and there isn’t going to be a traditional happy ending with us riding off into the sunset to a picket fence and kids and dogs… which I’m actually joyful about. It’s actually less pressure to know that someone who makes me immeasurably happy, and a better person just by standing near me, isn’t someone I have to be romantic with, but that I can just love and appreciate for everything he is. I’ve always known love comes in different forms, shapes, colors, and speeds. I appreciate and try my best to adequately reciprocate any love that comes toward me. That is the ultimate challenge, and goal: to simply love and be loved in return. Love might not be in your life in the picture perfect vision you seek, but I’ll bet you that you receive more love than you realize. I believe that love, like matter, cannot be created or destroyed, but it instead changes forms. I believe that all the love you want or need comes at you at any given time, it just might not all be from one direction, or from the direction you would prefer. But like my handsome soul mate is for me, love will be there for you, when wanted and needed.

So, my dear ones, as the cardboard hearts, flowers, and balloons flood your visions this Friday (and probably all weekend), remember that love begets love. The more you open your heart and share, the more you’ll find in return. I KNOW it sounds new agey, and dumb… but its true. Spend the day with someone you appreciate, and will appreciate you. If you can’t find a human, find an animal; find a view; find a park. Breathe it all in and know you are loved. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.

LOTS OF LOVE from both LL and I!!  Go, Love ClareLesley!


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