When Entreprenuers Marry

“So, how’s married life?”

“Amazing!”

“Really?”

Seriously, I have this exchange almost daily. Someone asks me how married life is. I say amazing, so great, wonderful and other perfectly descriptive words that are honestly true. Instead of getting a “that’s so great” or “so happy for you.” I get the question: “Really?” Why are they so surprised? Why would they ask if they didn’t want to hear the truth? Were they wishing I said something else like “it’s ok?” I hate to think that they were hoping I would say something negative that would help them feel better about their own situation.


When my mother said it I finally asked her why everyone is acting surprised. Now, I don’t mean to imply that every person who says it is doubting. But, the way they say it seems to be a feeling of doubtful surprise. 

She said that it’s because there are adjustments getting used to the person, marriage is hard, etc. Of course I never went into marriage thinking it would be easy. Unlike many of my college friends I saw the ups and downs of a marriage. Side note: I went to a Private University and found out that many people never saw their parents fight ever. So, when they got married before 25 they were quite surprised. Back on to my blog, I actually don’t mind too much that I saw the arguing. They also showed the romance and were open and honest about sex and money. Going into marriage I wasn’t thinking it would be a walk in the park. 

But, I love being married! Seriously, when I say married life is amazing, it’s because, for my husband and I, it is.  Is our life easy? No. We both work multiple projects, we have dogs and some serious college debt. We basically work for ourselves which has its own entrepreneurial stress, we live in a studio apartment with 2 pitbulls. Our life is awesome! 

I don’t want to come off like my marriage/life is better than. Actually, I’m hoping I can address something more specific. Marriage or any relationship can be tough. Has its ups and it’s downs. But, it doesn’t have to be anything less than amazing.  

I listened to my mom and even a few others explain why they responded in a surprise. They had valid points. As a couple we are not experiencing those points.  At least not in a bad way. Sure, it takes getting used to going from living alone to living with someone. Combining schedules, goals and other life pressures are there daily, to challenge happiness. Here’s some of the points people have brought up are tough and how you can avoid them being an issue:


1)  Sharing space with someone else: My husband and I moved in together really quickly. Do I think this is why there was no adjusting to sharing space? Nope, but we adjusted prior to engagement so this was pretty status quo. I recommend you live with your significant other (SO) when you feel it’s right. For some people during the dating period is right. Others, post nuptials is a grand idea. Do not move in with you SO anytime before your ready. If anyone makes you feel like you should do it sooner or wait longer say “thank you, I’ll keep that in mind.” Then listen to your own gut.

We live in a studio with 2 dogs. There is not a lot of space for anyone. However, because I love our time together and we communicate we each have space for our things. Also, we don’t believe in buying more than what we need. If you are not used to sharing space with someone else before the big move in I recommend getting organized and getting rid of all things not necessary (both parties). Then, combine the households and donate duplicates or if you can just buy new stuff together and donate both “olds.” 

2) Finances: We have always pretty much gone dutch. I know this will shock some people but when we married we didn’t combine incomes. Instead we got a card together. The household stuff goes on the card we pay it off evenly and then we are free to spend our money how we want. So many fights come down to money. Someone spends and the other doesn’t or one person knows where all the money is going and the other doesn’t. We have financial goals together, savings and a vision for our future. But, we also have debts before the relationship. Our way is a great way to have constant communication about what we are buying and why without anyone feeling like they have to ask permission. This may sounds quite unromantic and very business-y but as I mentioned we are both Entrepreneurs so doing business is kind of our thing, and also when it comes to doing business it’s not personal. The finance part of life isn’t personal. So no need to treat it like it is.

3) Time: We have nights that are guaranteed work/meet with other nights and nights we expect to be together. We share a calendar so we can easily put dates and events in our schedules which allows us to avoid double booking because one person forgot to add an event to their calendar. We also don’t assume the other is free. We ask each other what we are up to for the weekend ahead and schedule in at least one date night or more a week. This way it feels like we are still asking the other person out. It’s important to have time together but also to have time with our own friends or doing our own projects.

4) Delegating tasks: Who does what? Why? When? Well, I refuse to nag and I hate to ask more than once. We use Basecamp to assign todo’s, send info and have conversations about projects. This keeps them from getting lost in a slew of text messages. It also frees up our conversations to be about our day, goals and more without constantly going over what needs to be done. Imagine your messages just having emoji’s, I love you’s and have a nice day!

5) Love Languages: There is an easy, simple quiz online and single or in a relationship you must take it. Knowing how you give and receive love makes it easier for someone else to receive your love and give you love in your own language. My love languages are “words of affirmation” and “touch.” My husbands are “acts of service” and “touch.” When I surprise him with a pizza I am speaking his love language. When he leaves me a note on my coffee cup telling me something sweet he is speaking mine. When we speak our own language to each other we are able to translate that. All relationships require communication and vulnerability.

There are probably more points of contention in relationships I could talk about. But, I’ll save those for a different day. If you’re single, keep these in the back of your mind for the next relationship. If you’re in a relationship and struggling with one of these, try it out. Let me know how it goes. No two relationships are the same.

Finally, I ran into two girlfriends this past week. One who has been married 10 years and another 3. Both asked how married life was going. I said “absolutely amazing!” They responded “isn’t it! Don’t you just love being married?” So, nice to hear that I am not the only one. Which means everyone can have amazingness in their relationships whether they are single, dating, married or betrothed.

xx~LL

PS you can check out our wedding at APracticalWedding.com and listen to our Story as we just launched a podcast.

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.


xx~LL

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Could your next date be at the grocery store?

I may be married, but that doesn’t mean people don’t ask me out. Yep, it’s true. I get hit on and receive phone number requests on the regular. In fact, I think I have had more this year than in the last two years I was single.  Don’t stop reading! I am not trying to brag and fluff my feathers. I know so far it doesn’t sound that way. But, stick with me here. I promise I will get to my point. My help for you my single readers.

I had often heard that my friends who were engaged or married felt they got hit on more when they were off the market then when they were on.  I am not going to tell you to go out and buy a fake engagement ring and walk around in hopes to get a date. I actually don’t think its the rings that are attracting these want-to-be-suitors.  It’s not the ring its the attitude.  Think about it.  A engaged or married person isn’t worrying about how they behave in public.  They don’t shy from a stranger smiling at them.  They have no problems excusing themselves to grab the cereal on the top shelf over someone else’s shoulder. Or making conversation.  They are not nervous about what a stranger might think of them.  They are just being themselves.  Being yourself, having fun and making eye contact are all things that attract someone to you and your personality.


Its not the ring, its the attitude.


I often find myself grocery shopping at the Whole Foods in West Hollywood.  For those of you not in LA, WeHo is not known for straight single men.  I have been asked out every trip I have been their this year.  Different guys (and a couple girls) each time.  It is flattering.  But, I thought to myself: what could be the cause for this?

I ran into a single friend of mine at another grocery store. As many of you know it’s impossible to get all your groceries from one store these days. She didn’t see me at first. But, before I could say hi I took a moment to just totally stalk her in the store. I wasn’t going to do it long but after a few isles I decided that this was an interesting experiment. Here she is a beautiful girl. In a store. With lots of people. Yet, she doesn’t see me someone whom if she was actually paying attention she would probably recognize from behind.

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She was eyeing the shelves, her phone and when people walked past her she gazed away.  Finally, I ended my stalking and just came up and scared the heck out of her. Hugged her and then told her to make eye contact with human beings more often.


Make eye contact with human beings more often.


Now, a couple years ago I heard that bananas in the top shelf of your cart was the universal signal for “I’m single” I do not know if this it true. But, who cares. Put anything in your grocery cart and walk around every isle making eye  contact. Stand tall. Instead of saying “I’m sorry” when you bump into a cart.  Say “Hi,” smile, and then go on about your shopping. There is no reason to apologize for being (see Clare’s I’m Sorry blog). Besides, that cart you bumped into could be Saturday’s coffee date.

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Face it, grocery shopping is a natural and necessary thing we do. Why pay an app, or spend even more time in front of a screen than you need to. It’s doing nothing for your posture. When’s the last time you had a decent date from one of those apps anyways?

Grab your grocery list and try it! Forgot something at the store. Perfect! An excuse to go back to the store this week, or a different store. Happy shopping.

Xx~LL

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Photo Credits: Christopher (grocery store), Daat (coffee mugs).  Both photos from Flikr Creative Commons.

Labels are for soup, not people

I have fallen into a trap.  I have measured my value in a relationship.  Many people go through this when you’re at a certain point in a relationship and you’re trying to decide if its time to put a label on what the two of you are.  You know what I’m talking about; you’ve been seeing someone for a while, you do like each other a lot, but is it time to go to that next level?  Do you put a label on the relationship?

But really, what is the point of a label?  As humans we need to know what we are dealing with.  We love a definition.  We love a regularity.  We automatically lean towards anything that can delineate life and quell the questions.  But in reality, a label gives us a false sense of security.  Humans should be called Questionables, because we constantly question what we are and what we’re doing and where we are going.  Inversely, we dislike change, but we are continually changing.  The thing is, someone you are close to can completely surprise you one day because they have changed or are showing you a side you have never seen before.  We truly never know anyone.


Humans should be called Questionables because we constantly question.


And to bring a whole different level to this post, I’ve tried to label a friendship.  Its a terrible rabbit hole… because it shouldn’t matter how important you are to your friends… but for some reason quantifying it matters.  Its kind of like sitting around asking yourself if you and your significant other are ready for the label “boyfriend/girlfriend”… it kind of just happens.  and putting a label or a measure on something only creates pressure on that relationship to be a certain way.  Its like putting “best” in front of “friend” requires a whole separate list of needs/wants/desires/requirements.

Sometimes I think the only point of Live ClareLesley is so I can air my ridiculous notions out for the blogosphere to see, to suffer through with me, and when I get the realization then we can all walk away changed or at least inspired to stop wallowing.  I feel utterly ridiculous that I can’t get this one off my mind.  Its been weeks that I’m walking thorough this.  I have five people in my life that I consider my “best friends” and usually reach for the phone to tell one of them, if not all when something happens to me.  Recently, I went into a really dark place, and wondered if I was the one that people reach for the phone to tell me something.  I’ve been thinking about this, and belaboring the topic with several friends, trying to work out my feelings on the subject… and the answer that is continual is: why does it matter?  Why do I need to be “the first” or “best friend” or any label of friend?

The whole point of labels is security.  But what we don’t realize or remember when we demand a label is that it is a false sense of security.  Why does it matter if a person has a definition in our lives?  Tomorrow they might not still fit that definition.  Tomorrow you might not want them to fit that decision.

So, the thing is, I want, no actually I need to solidify that other people feel the same way about me that I feel about them.  The same is true about any relationship:  in a friendship, you want to get to the level of dependability and achieve that “best” title;  in a romantic relationship you want “boy/girl” in front of friend; in a job you want a title of importance to show your co-workers and other people in your field that you’re capable of the job, and should get the respect that goes with it.


We label because we need to solidify how we feel about others, and how they feel about us. 


Here’s the thing… we only want a label because we are human.  We want parameters for ourselves and others, to understand and realize what we are and what we mean in the world.  A label on a can of soup, or a bottle of water, or a box of crackers leads you to believe that something is of better quality.  But a lot of times, in taste tests, you don’t taste much difference, or you might even prefer the lower quality.  The point is a label only leads us to believe a different set of truths.  It requires a different set of rules.  We should rejoice in the time we don’t have a label—it requires so much less pressure.

The new roommate and I are spending a lot of time together.  We have been going on walks and cooking together, and many times, I pick up my phone and she is one of the people I want to tell my breaking news to… but I don’t consider her a best friend… but in a way, she is.  Our relationship is easy because we don’t have a label on it.  If I forget to tell her something, its fine.  If I text her too many times in a day, its fine.

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I need to treat all of my relationships like this.  Live day by day.  If I offend or hurt or damage something, I’ll make amends and do my best to fix it.  If I am upset, I just bring it up.  Relationships of any kind, are so much better when they are easy, and have no pressure.  Labels create a sense of false security.  It’s a person, not a can of soup.  Love the person, leave the label off, and let your expectations and demands on a relationship fall away.  You’ll be much happier.  Really, you’ll be much happier.

–Clare

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Kissing IS Personal

One of my first memories of the tale of my Love and I was our first kiss. Oddly, I don’t tell this detail I’m about to share with you often. In fact, when I tell our story I see this scene in my head but I gloss over the detail, or shorten our first night into a sentence or two. “We had an amazing night, I knew he and I were perfect for each other just Not right now. I left without giving him my number and he didn’t ask.” Then I go into the next headlines.
The truth is that our first night getting to know each other was/is truly special. We talked for hours at Sassafras, a saloon in Hollywood. We actually shared our breakups (both of us just barely 6 months out of serious relationships). Shared our life goals and our Strength Finders results. Ok, so we are also kind of nerdy. My point in telling you this is, before there was even the potential of another encounter we got intimate. Vulnerable. We shared honest details about ourselves.

Then he ASKED if he could kiss me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We were standing there face to face. Of course I wanted him to. Of course I was hoping. Then he asked!

Now, I’m trying to think back of all the kisses I have had. As you know from my post “First Kiss” that one didn’t. I know my ex didn’t and I’m pretty sure those I kissed during “Duty Dating” didn’t.  Not that they should have or needed to ask. Body language can also imply that one is ready and open to kissing.

However, in this moment he asked me. When my entire insides screamed YES!   I knew this was different. It wasn’t just my physical being but much deeper than that.  I responded with “I was hoping you would.” Not so much a spoiler alert since we are together. But, yes we stood there and kissed and…well our families read this so….

My favorite movie, if I haven’t told you already, is Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. When I say favorite I mean FAVVVVVORITE!!!! I can quote it from the opening to the closing credits. Aside from the great and soon to be blogged about “What’s your Dream? Hey Sista What’s your dream?” or the scene where she walks back on to Rodeo and says “You work on commission right? Big Mistake! Big!  Huge.” Shoves her bags up in the air at the snooty sales women. I am sure I’ll write about that too. Today’s blog is about Getting Personal.  When Richard Gere’s character and her are discussing what she will and will not do for money. She’ll do anything. But she won’t kiss on the lips. Too Personal.

Is Kissing too Personal?

I have written about Your Best Sex and  Sex with Friends. If you haven’t read those. Click the links and do read. It’s important you know that I am not a prude. I am not here to say that you shouldn’t get close, personal, intimate, sexy. Quite the opposite. I want all of that and more for you.

Today, on the phone with my Love I said “I cannot wait until you’re not sick; I miss kissing you.” He has the flu; I teach Pilates so I cannot get sick. He knows that if I get sick, it halts my income. But back to kissing.  He said: “I know two days ago I was thinking if it was possible to have sex without kissing.”

Aside from the weirdness of that remark. Also, how anyone with the flu could possibly perform is a question I do not have the answer to. I proclaimed No Kissing is the best part. Ok, well almost the best part. But it’s one if not THE most important part. It’s like Julia Roberts’ character says: it’s too personal.

Maybe this is TMI, but I love kissing. When I see him at Trader Joe’s waling down the isle toward me, I can be taken up in the moment, and we actually kiss like couples do in a romantic scene in the movies. I guess low cost organic food packages for individuals gets me romantic. Or more likely than not we just enjoy being that personal; that intimate.

Kissing is very important!   Before you do the deed, I think it’s pretty important to enjoy kissing the other person. You can learn a lot about someone by the way they kiss you. If you’re present and aware of what you like and need you will probably be better prepared to make the decision of whether or not you want to take it to the next step. P.S. I am not sure what the next base is anymore. Somewhere in between the generations, first and third, or second base just became a blur of tastes or preferences. But kissing should be first. You should like it and want more of it.

If you’re single, please take the time to get to know someone, enjoy kissing them. Do not rush this step and end up in a relationship that doesn’t have kissing you enjoy.

In a relationship…when’s the last time you truly kissed your partner? I’m not talking about the kisses because it’s part of the routine. I’m talking the kisses where time stands still. The kiss where your surroundings blur, are forgotten, the Trader Joe’s aisles disappear, and it’s just you and your mate. Those don’t have to be special occasion. In fact, I’d argue they shouldn’t be special occasion.

But,  you have to want it. You have to make the point to do it. The next time you kiss, be present. Be intimate. Let yourself enjoy your partner. Even if it’s in the TJs aisle.

So, before you can have Sex with Friends, Your Best Sex or even a third, fourth or future date: get personal. Get kissed!  And if you like it, have seconds!

Xx–LL

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Texting is Not a Relationship

Daily or almost Daily texts is not a dating relationship.

It’s not.

I promise you it’s notYou, my dear friend, are so worth a phone call.  You’re worthy of an invitation. A verbal (phone or in person) conversation cannot be copy and pasted. 

That’s all I wanted this blog post to say. But, I also know that many of you are going to be sitting there trying to justify why your text conversations are a relationship. That the smiley face at the end of “Hey” is endearing and personal. The text “what are you doing tonight?” That they sent you at 6pm really was only sent to you and not after their other plans fell through.   I know that the world is all about instant messages. Texting, iMessage, Tinder, Grindr, What’s App…insert whatever other instant notification app here. But guess what?  There are still phones. We still speak out loud. Phone companies still sell plans with minutes. Unlimited minutes are cheaper than ever. People do not have to use them wisely. They can just use them!

If someone really likes you they’ll call you.  I promise you they will.

Sure there may be a text here an there “I’m on my way” is absolutely appropriate. It shows that they care enough to give you a heads up and that you have made plans to get together. If they always text you “what are you doing this weekend?” There is a huge chance they copy and pasted that to a few others. I’ll say it again because it’s true.  A phone conversation is pretty tough to copy and paste.

In a world where people can text It’s pretty special when someone picks up the phone and calls you.

I remember last Spring I was out having dinner with a girlfriend talking about the guys I was dating. I had just arrived back from another trip to Boulder, Co. While telling her about “the musician” he called. My phone lit up. I literally laughed out loud. How warm were his ears? Anyways, it went to voicemail since I’m a firm believer in being with those I’m spending time with. After dinner I got in my car and listened to his voicemail. Yes, a smile on my face. He called me! His message: he was sitting in his hotel in Las Vegas (his band was performing there) and he saw i had arrived back from Boulder. Wanted to hear about my trip.

I know! My smile grew even bigger and it felt so nice that someone called me just to see how I was. He was in Vegas on a Saturday night and called me. He could have texted or waited until he arrived back.

Back to my point if they call you it’s for you. It’s personalized just for you.

Conversations on the phone and in person are so personal. There’s tone, inflection, complete sentences and depth. No amount of emoji’s, elipses and punctuation can replace an actual vocal conversation. The best part about a phone conversation is you never have to watch those three dots start, stop and start again only to stop and leave you hanging!

Since I’m not a complete cold hearted message take-away-er here are some tips to help you ween off the addiction:

1) don’t go cold turkey: delete one app a week

2) only use messages for confirmations, out of state/country friends

3) start calling a friend or family member a week. Get used to talking on the phone again. You’ll start to crave that kind of communication

I know I’m getting brutally honest with you here. But, it’s for your own good. The person who treats you like the Royalty you are calls you on the phone.  Gets to know you. They take interest in what you are doing. I know it’s going to be tough to let those text conversations go. It’s nice that someone is contacting you. Wallpaper is nice my friends; your relationship should not be just nice.

xx~LL

If you have a comment, scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com We LOVE your feedback!! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

 

Xx ~LL

No Waiting Dating 

He broke up with me twice before our first date. Yep, he did. The Man who I call my Love; we have a very interesting dating story.  We share our dating story often. It’s a unique. It’s totally us and  one we also hope inspires others. Someday I’ll share the whole story with you. Today I’m sharing a detail. A tidbit if you will. Something you can take with you and use.

During our transition from “the musician” and “the Pilates instructor” there was a long discussion. Well, to be honest every meeting included long discussions where we talked about our pasts, our wants, needs, desires…lives.  But there was one pivotal conversation that changed everything.  One in which took us apart for about 10 days then brought us together. Closer than ever.

Last week, Clare wrote about being Straightforward when you start dating.  This week I want to talk about moving that relationship forward in a similar way.  My Love and I were at my place on our Thursday night weekly hang. He started the conversation. I sat there and listened.  I learned all the things he liked about me. My dearest readers let me tell you. I love hearing this about me that someone likes or enjoys. However,  It’s not easy to hear things people like about you while they are also ending things with you. I mean picture this scene: My bohemian meets mid century apartment. Chai Latte’s in hand and his loveable PitBull in my lap. Hanging out on the carpet talking about the weeks thoughts. When he announced that he didn’t want to lead me on. Before I could respond he began to list in detail everything about me that he liked. Everything! From how I was a Coach but I didn’t “coach” him, how I didn’t contact him. My “love languages” are ‘touch’ and ‘words of affirmations’. Very similar to his. How he liked that. Since having similar love languages means we can understand how each other communicates love. But…

Another day I’ll tell you what happened after “But.” For now, I want to share with you how I dates.  How I acted and reacted.  What I learned though during this conversation from him I had always believed and coached my clients and friends on:

  1. Do not text, call, FB, tweet etc: if they want you they will call you. If they aren’t that’s your answer.
  2. Do not wait: for those of you sitting there shaking your head at me because someone in your life just isn’t ready. Sure, anything is possible but better for you to go on with your life and if they’re lucky you’ll still be around. But you wait for no one.
  3. Wait for commitment or at least 90 days: trust me! Think about that last time or times you didn’t. Later finding out things you didn’t like about s person. Sex makes you feel things that just are not what a relationship is based upon. Steve Harvey even compares this to jobs. No company gives you benefits without waiting 90 days. Why is it ok that we have to prove ourselves to an employer to earn the benefits but in life we just give them away?
  4. Texting does not a relationship make. My Love would call me all the time before we got together. We rarely texted only. People can copy and paste texts all day long. Conversations are unique.
  5. You’re Amazing. If someone doesn’t see that then let them be on their way.

He and I sat for a couple hours while he told me all the things he liked about me. I sat there. I listened.

Finally after some thought I said “stop liking me so much, it’s freaking you out”. The next day he called me. In that conversation I told him  “I’m amazing, hopefully I’ll still be available when you figure yourself out (I may have said. Sh*t out).  There were other things mentioned that I’ll save for another day (or you can hear from him in a podcast that’s about to air). I gave him things to think about but I never waited. Was I angry? Yes. Was I hurt? Of course, I cared about him. I always had since I met him wanted us to be something someday.  But, I didn’t wait for him before and I certainly wasn’t about to text, call, email spend hours wondering, wishing or hoping. Of course I did in the moment wish and want some things. But, I always lived my life. Followed my bliss. I couldn’t worry during those 9 months between us meeting and getting together what he was thinking. I dated and had fun doing it.

Always remember: It’s your life. When you live your life the way you want, when you love yourself for who you are that will attract the right partner for you.  My dears please do not sit around waiting for the person to call you, text you or be “ready.” No waiting dating.

xx~LL

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Sex With Friends

I have promised in the past that I would explain how you can “hook up” with a friend and not “ruin” the friendship.
Finally I’m delivering…

First, is it possible to date, make out with, or sleep with a friend and not “ruin” the friendship? Sure! Anything is possible. Do I recommend getting skin close to all your friends? No. But the reality is: you probably will, and I want you armed with the tools to enjoy it before, during, and after.

A few disclaimers:
1) just because you “hook up” with someone, a friend, stranger, or date does not a relationship or commitment make.
2) if you “fall” for every person you flirt, kiss, text or sext (I have opinions on this stay tuned on my sexting blog another day) then diving into your pool of friends is not the best idea. In fact I would tell you absolutely not. You’re not able to handle it.
3) if the lack of communication from someone you sends you to the fridge, bar, or any other binge…you’re not ready (for dating of any kind, and definitely not dating a friend).
4) if you don’t have all the self love we coach/talk about here at Live ClareLesley…you’re not ready.

If you fall into the “not ready” category this doesn’t mean you have to hide in a closet. I don’t want to make a hermit-nun out of you. Quite the opposite, actually. But your focus shouldn’t be on dating anyone, especially your friends. Your focus should be self love, self respect, self growth. When you’re the person you want to be, then go enjoy the fruits of your labor. If that means hooking up with a friend, cool.  You will have our glowing permission. Get yourself to be your WHOLE self first. Then another Whole self will find you. It may even be a friend.

Ok, now that the disclaimers are out of the way lets get dirty, in a friendly way.

Why are friends with benefits a good idea? Think about it! You pick your friends based on things in common. You spend time together, talk about things you like, don’t like, want in life…sounds a lot like dating to me.

There’s nothing awkward about a friendship, no games being played it’s easy-peasy, my dears. So, it makes sense if you and a friend find your way into each others arms. In fact, in most of my coaching on relationships my clients wish they could find a partner they are best friends with. Again, why not dip into the friend pool?…you want your partner to be your friend. Your friendship foundation is already set. Try the dating thing. It might just be the door to a fantastic relationship.

Can you just be friends with benefits? Sure!  Again, anything is possible and it really depends on the two (or more in some cases…my sweet friend, you know who you are) parties involved. Again, you must be able to get past all four disclaimers above and you must truly know and love who you are. The other parties have to also be the same. It won’t work if one of you is a rock star in the self growth category and the other is starving for love, attention, and a partner.

Remember sleeping with a friend does not a partner make. Just because you and your friend cross that clothing barrier bridge, doesn’t mean you are an item. It means you slept with your friend. That actually is worth repeating! Anyone and I mean ANYONE that you kiss, sleep with does NOT a Relationship make. Partners take time. Just like friendships take time. They deserve to take time. Like a fine wine, tea or beer…fermentation is a good thing.

So, How do you start? Well one of you has to make a move, start the conversation. Is the thought of making a move freaking you out? Then, you’re not ready for this. In my past dates with friends, it’s not so black and white. The line from planning, to hang out as friends and going “out” is blurred. In fact, looking back I can’t say at the time I knew we were “crossing the barrier.” It was more like, I hoped we might.

The Comedian: He was more of an acquaintance. We would see each other out with other friends. The two of us were connected via the benefits of twitter and Facebook but we had not exchanged digits. We had lots of things in common. Eventually, he reached out to me personally. He heard I was single and we took our fringe friendship to a direct one. Texts became more frequent a date was planned and a dinner an kiss were enjoyed. There were no fireworks. We had a great time. We have hung out since even. Celebrate the successes we’ve achieved individually. We are closer friends now because we tried to take it to the next level.

Those of you who understand this, are ready for the dating world and even the dating-your-friend-pool world. Just because we didn’t fall madly for each other, does not mean we can’t be friends still. None of those things changed.

The Yogi: I do not recommend you fall for your Yoga, Pilates, Personal Trainer, EVER! If things get weird you will be the one to find a new teacher. They have their classes, their schedule set. In my case as a Pilates Instructor I know many other instructors so me dating a Yogi friend…well I have plenty of them. We had been friends for some time. Our clients and surrounding acquaintances often overlapped. Finding out we both were single at the same time, we set up a time. Again, no definite plans for the long term, but there were hopes. Wishes do come true. We had a great date, awesome convo, and an enjoyable night. We even wanted to go out again. But timing is everything. In the end we went back to being friends. We still are. We both have found wonderful happiness in other relationships. Turns out, now both of us  are dating someone we were friends with before.

My Love: We were introduced by a mutual friend. We had the best time together. We talked for hours. Then because timing is everything. We did nothing. Over the course of the next 4 months we spoke, even hung out once. We got to know each other. Then logistics in our lives made it easier to hang out. So we did every week. We talk about our pasts, past relationships, breakups, desires and dreams. Then we decided to give it a go! Best decision EVER. Dating one of my friends means I always have someone to talk to about ANYTHING. No games. Just love, kindness and respect.

What do each of these scenarios have in common?
1) COMMUNICATION.  In person, or over the phone. The good, old fashioned conversations. Between each other, not other people.
2) NO BIG DEALS.  We didn’t make a big deal about the event, we didn’t get lots of people involved. We just did our thing.
3) WE ARE STILL FRIENDS.  Friendships don’t end because you kiss. They end for other reasons. See “Growing out of Friends

Each of you reading this will have a different experience. I am not going to sit here and tell you go slow, go fast, do this, or don’t do that. Nope. You have to choose your own adventure. I won’t be there every step of the way. All I can tell you is what I have already: you must be your whole self before you date anyone. Especially your friend.

Have a friend crush? AWESOME maybe that’s the love of your life waiting for you to be ready to give it a go.  As someone who has their best friend as their partner, I will give you my blessing.  Every time.

Self Love first, Date second, and always Live ClareLesley

LL

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Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

I live in New York City. There are something like 1.6 million people that live in the 23 square miles of Manhattan. That is an insane amount of people in a tiny space. New York is the only city I’ve ever been to that you can take up someone’s personal space, and they have to be ok with it, and they do so by ignoring you. People are “jerks” in this city because business moves fast here, and people have to move at the same speed if not faster. I get pushed and shoved and stepped on all the time, and no one ever apologizes. Ever. And I love it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised by a good southern woman who told me to be polite at all times. However, polite and apologetic are not the same thing.

I am a woman of a lot of mass. I am tall and I take up space. Genetics has made me this way. As a teenager and a young adult, I was sorry that I took up too much space. I tried to find ways to be smaller. At the movie theater, I would shrink down, just in case the person behind couldn’t see. I still don’t put my chair back in airplanes because I inevitably get my knees slammed by the person reclining in front of me, and I don’t want to do that to the person behind me. There was a point in my life that I said I was sorry to people who bumped into me, or even to walls and inanimate objects. I used to say “I’m sorry” in almost every other sentence. I used to say “I’m sorry” so much that I started saying I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry so much. Are you getting the picture? I was overusing “I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard it said that the things that annoy us most are the things that we worked hardest to change within ourselves. I undervalued myself so much that I felt the need to ask forgiveness to lower life forms and inanimate objects. Enough was enough. I didn’t really mean what I was saying. And if I was, I needed to stop apologizing for taking up space. Everyone takes up space. That is what living is. I wasn’t living, I was being sorry.

I hate, loathe, despise and abominate the phrase: I’m sorry.

In America, people are innocent until proven guilty and even then, as long as we are sorry and promise not to do it again, we can usually get off without much of a punishment. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. At least this is the common viewpoint—whether you realize it or not. We take from each other, we mistreat each other, we push each other’s buttons, and we walk all over each other to fulfill our best interest. We knowingly commit crimes against each other, and then we use two weak words to ask forgiveness. Once bestowed the forgiveness, we commit the same exact crime, sometimes with amped stakes, just because we can. We got away with it the last time with only a tiny bit of humiliation and groveling. Saying “I’m sorry” is easy. Actually apologizing is not.

I’m so tired of hearing “I’m sorry” because it is so worn-out and undervalued. It is a phrase used so often, especially by women that we don’t even hear ourselves when we say it. I went out to dinner a few months ago, with friends who have been together for over 10 years. She is a hard working woman, who supports his artistic career. She too is artistic. They love each other very much and treat each other as well and as equally as you do after 10 years of growing up together. At dinner, she said “I’m sorry” either to her husband or me twelve times. Yes, I counted. Actually, I drank each time she said it, and I’d had three glasses of wine by the end of dinner—not the best drinking game… And why did she keep saying it? She wasn’t late; she didn’t hurt anyone; she committed no crimes. I think the biggest crime she committed was cutting me off just as I was finishing a thought. She kept asking for forgiveness for things that were no big deal. She was being polite, especially for the time she kicked me, but really, NONE of those things really required an apology, and they certainly didn’t need forgiveness.

Being polite and actually doing something that you need to be sorry for are two different sports. A really good friend of mine is trying to make big changes in her life. She is a divorcee that moved to New York to pursue the arts, and she is working hard at both trusting men again and hopefully finding a thriving relationship with one special one, and also making her creativity pay her.  We have major texting discussions, or sit in one of our living rooms drinking wine, discussing life. I love this woman, she is one of my best friends, but I don’t always approve of her choices. She throws herself into different situations and then is sad about it and complains about the, mostly negative, outcomes afterwards. She sits and tells me that she is so very sorry, and she should have listened to me. Here is the thing, and this is important so I’m gonna put it italics: I don’t care what choices she makes, I just want her to live her life AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. (please go back and re-read that sentence… just the italics. Its ok, I’ll wait.) Ok. So here is the thing: do or don’t do, just don’t be sorry for it. If you keep doing the same thing, but not listening to either your inner voice or your friends, and you keep failing and being frustrated: CHANGE YOUR CHOICE. Please stop saying “I’m sorry.”

The thing about just throwing out “I’m sorry” is that it is easy to just move on and live your life. But as thriving humans, just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix everything, and usually its only a temporary fix. You can say “I’m sorry” every day you do something wrong, and the thing is, I’m not going to believe you. Its just too easy. You’ll say the words, I’ll feel that I have to forgive you to make your life easier so we both can move past it and because it’s the polite thing, and then afterwards we will go back to living like we did before the crime was committed. And then tomorrow you’ll do the same thing. I don’t want you to be sorry. I know you are sorry that I’m mad at you. I want you to fix whatever it is and move on. I really want you to be happy. If the choice you make ends up making you happy then YAY! It might not be what I thought was best, but who friggin’ cares! As my mother says: “did you kill or hurt anyone? Did you kill or hurt yourself? No? Ok, great. Then it was a good choice.” Make your choice. Be an adult and live through it. Next time make a better choice if the outcome this time wasn’t what you wanted. If you didn’t hurt anyone, no need for an apology. (Yup, its really that simple).

Now, some situations DO call for a request for forgiveness. If you’re a person like I used to be that over used “I’m sorry” or if you’re trying to help someone else break the habit, use “I apologize” instead. Something about the word, the multiple syllables, the substitution, or maybe its because the word has the letter “z” in it, but its just a heavier word, and seems to offer something more substantial. Because of this, it means more when it is said. Stop saying “sorry” and use “apologize”. Apologize is four syllables. It takes a moment to say, and even a bigger moment to think of the word. If you’re really sorry for something “apologize.” And better yet, don’t be sorry, but instead FIX WHAT WAS WRONG. Or promise to fix it for next time—and here’s the kicker with this one—FOLLOW THROUGH. (I know. I’m tough.) Stop being sorry for being late—leave 15 minutes earlier. Don’t be sorry you forgot my birthday—offer to take me for drinks on Tuesday instead. Don’t be sorry that you once again overreacted to something I said—figure out what it is that sets you off, and either fix it yourself, or lets talk it out, I might need repair too!

When you overuse the word sorry, or just apologize for your actions, you are actually belittling yourself. You’re shrinking yourself down so I’ll see how lowly you are and forgive you because you couldn’t fix it. I rarely apologize. I make it up to the person; I fix my actions; I change future plans. Ok, so be honest… the last time you said “I’m sorry” could you have fixed it or changed it before an apology was necessary? Change your actions. Become better. Stop apologizing. Also when you over use the words, you’re abusing them. You’re making the value of actually being sorry for something, less. No one wants the value of ANYTHING to shrink. So only use “I’m sorry” or better yet “I apologize” when you really mean it. When it’s something you really need to ask forgiveness for. Don’t make yourself smaller for a mistake. Don’t make the other person feel bad because of that mistake. Fix it. Most of the time, you’ll be forgiven, especially if you prove that you’re going to make it better by changing or rearranging.

Clare

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Red Flags: Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

“In the beginning, what red flags did you ignore?” My therapist asked me in my second session post break up. I sat there speechless for a moment. At first, I wanted to get defensive and say there weren’t any.  Then as I opened my mouth to say so, I realized it was probably not true.  She told me that there are always red flags, some flags are redder than others, but there are always red flags.  She sent me home with homework: I had to think back and spot all the red flags that I ignored.  What were they?  Why did I excuse them? How red were they?

Sitting in that office on that couch I just couldn’t admit to myself that there were red flags in a relationship that seemed so perfect.  After being out of the relationship for more than a year, I can tell you every red flag and how red it was. I can even tell you the day one flag was waving, so bright and shiny like it was waiting for a bull to come charging, and instead of paying attention, I brushed it away. Actually, I rolled it up so quickly and shoved it in a trunk and put that trunk in the back of a garage and then put things in front of that trunk hoping to pack away the existence of the flag.

Of course that never works. If you’ve been in a relationship that didn’t work out you too can look back and see the signs. If you can’t I beg you to go back. Like Clare says in Patterns Versus Change  we’ll continue the same patterns until we learn from them.

I am not saying that any of us are free of flags. I think that we all have our own flags in a variety of colors and that’s what makes us unique. But some flags should be hints while others are red alert warnings. Not every person you date will be the right match for you. My last relationship was the picture of perfection. What every girl is supposed to want. I ignored the flags because society’s idea of “perfect” trumped my idea of “perfect.” Working on my therapy homework, I unpacked the garage after leaving my session and started looking at the flags I ignored. What an eye opener that was!

What happened next? My confidence in dating, trust within myself, my own choices, and eventually, love. I grew up, grew strong, and got honest.

As a coach for relationships and goals there’s often lots of red flags that I hear about.  My Duty Dating was the perfect red flag training ever for my life. As I listen to friends, clients, people at coffee shops (I do eavesdrop, but it’s all in the name of research), I ask myself “how red is that flag” for me?  As an outside observer, things look different.  Flags that are really really red to me, might be orange to you.  Its not my job nor my place to interfere or interpret your flags. Side note: friends want your advice that doesn’t mean you can judge their flag coloring (see No More Projections Please). However observing others is a good and less invasive beginning to viewing your own flags. I want you to practice recognizing the red flags that pop up or stand out in your life and in those of others, and then also observe what patterns or feelings arise.

Lately there’s been some sadness and disappointment in the dating world with my friends, clients, even from some of you readers. You meet someone, there’s excitement, smiles, something to look forward to and plans for your weekend. Then a few dates later, combustion!  Or worse: silence. We’ve all been there, I’ve been there. Can you get upset, sad, disappointed and or stab a voo doo doll?  Sure, for a moment.  Maybe you give yourself a day; mourn the loss of “what could have been.” Then pick yourself up! Dust yourself off, and ask yourself the tough question. The honest question. What Red Flags did I ignore? What behaviors did I pay no attention to or excuse away?

Dating can be hard. Life can feel lonely. But do you really want to be with someone just so you’re not alone? I didn’t think so! Get excited about a date but remember while you’re hoping their into you make sure you’re into them! Show off your colors and take a look at all of theirs. There are two people in a relationship. Even if one of you walks away, or stops calling you, at least you will not have been a participationless bystander. You were a an equal partner in the relationship (again at least should have been). Not that I want you to think that if something didn’t work out its your fault! I am absolutely not saying that. We all have choices. We choose what to pay attention to, who to give our attention to, and how we deserve to be treated.

On your next date, instead of excusing the guttural reaction because someone is cute, your type, the first date in five years, dig deeper.  Ask the tough questions. You may be surprised. Something you thought was red is orange. Something you thought was yellow was bright freaking RED.

We have no control of others actions. We can only control our controllables. If you are honest with yourself, totally love and value yourself, those red flags will stand out like a Viking at the Art Museum (not that Vikings don’t go to art museums just that Vikings stand out pretty much anywhere).

You won’t “fall” for every opportunity…not because you’re pessimistic but because you’re in control of your ship. You have awareness of your wants, needs and desires. Red flags just get in the way of those things. They delay your happiness. Why oh why, my loves, would you let your own self get in the way of your own happiness?

Shed those red flag preventing glasses and see your own wants, desires, happiness. Let those in who support you. Show them who you are and see them for their true selves. See the red flags. See the other colors of them. Make a decision, and try it out. If it doesn’t work with this person, at least you were honest. Try the next person; maybe their flags are the right colors for you! Then you two can roll around in your other colored flags and run off into the sunset holding your sans red flags hands high!

Xx~LL