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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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

Valentines Survival: did you make it?

This week, Clare posted about Valentine’s Survival.  What did you end up doing to celebrate Valentines/Galentines/Palentines? We want to know!! REALLY!

One of Clare’s passions is cooking. On the 12th she hung out with the soulmate and they made a delicious dinner together. Then Clare made fudge on the 13th with another bestie. See the sweet video here.

On the 14th Lesley and her boyfriend did couples yoga, went on a romantic hike, and went off the grid–shutting down their phones and all devices– and spent the time with each other. Spending time together was more important than exchanging presents:

Clare and a bestie went to dinner on the 14th, saw The Last Five Years, and afterwards met composer Jason Robert Brown.

At LiveClareLesley we made our experiences surrounding Valentine’s what we personally wanted and needed. We survived Valentines, by sharing love with the people we care about. What did you do? Please share below, or Tweet and Facebook your photos and experiences and tag us, and don’t forget to add #liveclarelesley

–Love LL and Clare

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!

–Clare

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No More Projections, Please!

I was beat, abused, salted in wound and stabbed-in the front. Verbally. By a friend.

Now mind you it wasn’t the first time. I think we want to claim shock, surprise when these things happen but the truth as we know it is that we know our friends who do this have done it before. The friends that undercut, hit you where it hurts or take a dig at you. They’ve done it before maybe not so blatantly or maybe we excused or away. Perhaps we were “asking” for it or just turning the other cheek. After all they are our friend, right?

As Clare wrote about last week, Growing Out of Friends is an occurrence that happens. I started taking a look at my closet of friends. Who fits? Who’s in season or just a night on the town? On this particular night I decided to put on my Friday night family dinner outfit on. Everything was same old hang time until the evening went on. In an effort of caring my friend started lecturing me about choices I make, men I attract and why it’s all bad. I asked her to stop, I stood up for myself. She continued this time accusing of me being in love with “him”. I didn’t actually know who “him” was. So I asked her. As she said my ex’s name I got angry. First: NO. Second: why would she even say it? This totally came from left field and it stung. As calmly as I could I ended the conversation. Waited a minute and politely left the situation and went home for the evening. I am quite proud of myself. I do not know what she is going through but I have to believe that I know what’s best for me.

The situation got me thinking. This happens to so many of my clients. Friends digging into friends. I do not believe it’s on purpose but what if we caught ourselves? What if we stopped this cycle? Ladies, I love you. I truly do. But, I need a favor…please stop projecting your fears, worries, doubts, insecurities and any other negatives you’re feeling onto your friends.  Ok, I realize we all have been guilty of this, even me. However, I am working on. Taking a stand against projecting how I am feeling onto others in my life. Why? It’s really not helpful to anyone!

Let me give you another example: A Lovely Artist in my world had a chat with a girlfriend of her’s the other day. This other friend of hers was probably thinking she was being helpful, suggested Lovely Artist get back with her ex-boyfriend. After all she wasn’t getting any younger and it’s harder to find a good date, she should just go back. Lovely Artist was sent into day of feeling as if she maybe should go back to a guy she didn’t feel good about dating in the first place. Was he nice? Sure but he didn’t rock her world. She didn’t feel good about herself with him. This friend has told her more than once this week she just needs to go back to him. So, so wrong! Lovely Artist should do what makes her feel good about herself. She left him because she didn’t feel good about herself with him. Her friend should be supportive instead of projecting onto her the fears and woes she’s having in the daring world. Bad Advice Friend is probably wanting to get back with an ex, or is having troubles finding a good guy. Guess what? It’s tough out there but don’t try giving advice that 1) wasn’t asked for 2) puts your friend in a place that makes her second guess herself 3) that isn’t leading to a positive feeling towards oneself.

I teach Pilates to both men and women. I hear many stories about lovers, parents, friends and work. One thing I don’t hear a man complain about is his friend telling him to get back with an ex that wasn’t good enough for him. I don’t hear him say “my friend said I should just settle for the job I’m in.” Nope I do not have any male clients come into a session telling me that they are questioning their own judgment because of a friend’s advice. I have had many a female client come in after just hearing from their mom, best friend, female coworker that they “shouldn’t have done…” they “needed to do…” We women should be supporting each other. If your friend leaves her boyfriend: support her. If your friend says she’s thinking of leaving her job: support her! If she’s going back to the gym regularly: support her! Are you seeing the theme?

I understand that we worry for our friends. What if she can’t find another job? What if she ends up single for years? What if she becomes a gym rat? What if—who cares what if! There are what ifs for EVERYTHING! You can “what if” until the cows come home. Why not turn those “what ifs” into positives! What if she finds her dream job? What if she gets healthy feels good about herself, and because her self esteem is skyrocketing, she meets a great guy? What if she starts sailing her own ship? Wouldn’t that just be awesome?

I, honestly, do not think many of us ask the questions that put doubts in our friends minds on purpose. I really hope I’m right that its not a conscious decisions. Instead we should be more present in our conversations. Ask ourselves the question in our minds before stating it out loud how it might affect the person sitting in front of us, that we do care about. I think we would actually

1) learn something about ourselves.

2) have deeper, stronger friendships. We would be lifting up our friends rather than bringing them down.

How can you be sure you’re an uplifter? Think before you speak. Is what you’re about to say supportive of your friends decision? If its not, file it away for now. Ask yourself why you think that question is important. What do you fear?

My Lovely Artist spent a whole day feeling terrible and questioning whether she made the right decision when she left her ex for the possibility of happiness.   I will give her friend the benefit of the doubt that she did not mean to put Lovely Artist into a tailspin of self doubt. But, she wasn’t asked or this information, so why offer it?

Lastly, ladies don’t be afraid to tell, your friend: “Stop, hold up. Thank you for your opinion but I feel very good about this decision. I really just want you support.” Then check out Clare’s info one “growing out of friends.” (Read that blog post here: Growing Out of Friends)

I love being a strong woman, I love that my friends come to me for advice. I will be working hard to be their cheerleader not their party crasher. Who’s with me?

–LL