22 Handling the Holidays Alone, Part 1

Beth Luwandi LPC outlines how to handle the holidays when you’re single. She goes over tips on how to handle it, how to talk about it and who to talk to about it. Beth gives examples for different ways to make the experience better for yourself including feeling your feelings, telling the truth about those feelings with the right people, and exploring your options. Don’t make it worse for yourself. Beth gives tips on how to avoid the stuff that makes it all worse and how to make it a little better.
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Bonuses to being a holiday orphan with someone else’s family:
•    No family dynamics investment. (These are not your crazy family. You‘d be amazed how free and fun it can be to experience someone else’s family without being part of it. Believe me, everyone’s family has STUFF.
•    Freedom to observe.
•    Different experiences/traditions., including maybe some luscious food!

1. Feel your feelings
2. Don’t judge it. Just allow it and observe it.
3. Tell the truth about it to the right trusted person.

How to talk about it:
1. Tell the right person. Avoid those who will say you shouldn’t feel bad. Avoid telling someone who will try to fix the feeling or gloss over it. Choose someone who will empathize with you, not feel sorry for you.
2.  Use Beth’s trademarked CNBC communication  format:
a. I feel … (3 words only)
b.I want… OR I don’t want… (without using the word “you”)
c. negotiate or not
d. Observe what is the response.
3. Talking with acquaintences
a. tell the truth as much as possible
b. prep some phrases ahead of time
c. remember these are YOUR holidays, not someone else’s

How to make it better:

1. give yourself permission to OWN the holidays for yourself.
2. Do something different if you want. Get creative if you want.
3.  Acknowledge the truth of your reality in all the ways you think about it, feel about it and what you decide to DO about it.
4. Look inside yourself to discover what is really going to work for you over the holidays, including changing the expectations YOU have for yourself.

Caution: don’t set deadlines for when you’ll have a mate. If you’ve done this previously, let those declarations drop away gently. Hold that expectation very lightly.

Old Love, Love Matters

Love Matters

At least part of you knows already that the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life. A seventy five year study at Harvard proves it. Watch the TEDtalk on this. It’s beautiful (and less than 13 minutes.) See. Love Matters.

Most of you suspect that having a loving partnership is central to the whole equation of a good life.

And yet, if you are a heterosexual female, it can be so hard to admit life would be better with a loving man in it.

Ladies! It’s time to get over the message that says “you don’t need a man, baby. After all, you’ve come a long way!”

That is really old propaganda. It served its purpose. We smoked. We felt tough. We took care of everything. We practically became men. Trouble is, that message is a long time dying. And it gets in the way of being open to the right men.

Let it go.

And if you’re male, even the swankest among you know life would be better with a loving partner by your side. Read this account of New York bachelors and the lonely life.  Dudes, you are not alone.

Love matters.

Having healthy love in your life increases health in all areas of your life.

Women have traditionally been given more credit for prizing relationships more. And yet, mid-life women (the entire Erik Erickson span of mid-life up to late middle life including ages 35-75) are actually the ones who may be getting in their own way the most!

Now, of course, to be fair and honest, there are plenty of men messing this whole thing up too. AND, men are less complicated than women. (It’s a fact.) And sometimes, from the perspective of the work I do, straightening men out is easier because of it. Often, one or two tweaks does the trick!

Here’s why:

  1. Good men respond well to honesty and emotional maturity. Men who do not respond well to this are, simply, not quite grown up yet. Call them Boys; it fits.  They might get there, but age is just a number, not a maturity rating. And this goes for both men and women. Not all women are automatically emotionally mature.
  2.  If she’s not, most grown-up men will pass. They’re tired of drama and working hard to please a woman who can’t be and they are not so interested in the chase like they once were. And let’s face it; they don’t have to. Men have plenty to choose from; the ratio increases in their favor as we all age. Men still die earlier than women.

SO, BONUS, MEN! If you survive just a little longer, you will have more age-appropriate mates to choose from!

This is great news for you and maybe a bit of a wake-up call for the other gender!

On the flip side, yes, there are men who are jerks, for whom mere talk of improving relationship is a pariah. They’d never attend a relationship seminar or go to a coach or counselor because they know it’s not them, it’s always everyone else.

Ok.

So, get smart, ladies and join me in NOT dating them. Don’t have sex with them. Don’t stay in relationship with them.

There ARE scads of men out there who ARE interested in having an emotionally connected and mutually supportive, lasting secure and thrilling partnership. I guarantee it. I meet them all the time!

Love matters.

All of us can get a little stuck. We can struggle for good reason. We can come up against something that just doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense.

By now, you probably realize I am all about helping people understand one another and themselves and then helping them have healthy relationships. It’s what I do!

Call me if consultation or an appointment makes sense for you.

Not ready for that? Stay tuned here; I’ll keep writing about this stuff. Read the archives.

Next time, I am going to answer the directive that says “you need to be alone” and “a relationship will not save you.”

 

Dating is not a game! Or is it?

Remember when you were 20-something and it seemed (relatively) easy to connect with a potential partner?

You’ve lived through failed relationships and disappointments since then, so it’s pretty clear what you knew back then did not net you a long-lasting, healthy relationship. Probably for a myriad of reasons. For starters, they don’t teach this stuff in school!

Plus, times have changed. Dating has gone all cyber-wacky. We’ve changed all these years later.

Yet some of the same things both men and women worry about are exactly the same:

  • Who does the initiating?
  • Is dating a game? Or is it serious stuff?
  • What are the rules?
  • Is sex an expectation of dating and if so, when?
  • Do I have to give up being myself in order to attract a mate?
  • Am I ever going to find someone?
  • Can I please avoid all the heartache?

You’d think we’d know more by now and be over some of this or at least have an answer. But humans are humans are humans are humans at every age. So until we learn it, we don’t know it. And until you know it for yourself, everyone else knowing it is not a benefit to you. Plus, it’s one thing to know it on paper and in your head and an entirely different thing to know it in your heart and experience it in your life.

You gotta DO relationship in order for all that knowledge to count for anything.

And you’re scared.

For very good reason. Go back and read the second sentence if you forgot why.

Here is some GOOD NEWS:

Some people do have fun dating (and this is not because they are wild and crazy and just don’t care! Well, not most of them anyway.)

Some people do have happy, long-lasting, secure marriages.

Some people seem to have easy success with their love relationships.

Are they just lucky? Born under the right stars? Reared by the right parents and the rest of us got a bum wrap?

No.

Okay, I’ll allow that some people do have healthier, more loving parents who not only equipped them with more of the right stuff to get them fully functional in the world but also probably set a better example.

Not you? You’re not alone. Keep reading because I am talking to the whole rest of us…

Too bad for us, right? We’re just doomed to relationship hell and struggle and heartache?

Also, NO.

(I wouldn’t be in this business if that were what I believed, of course!)

Here’s the BIG BELIEF that completely rules out all others:

If someone else knows how to do it, then I can LEARN how to do it. Say that to yourself aloud. It’s true. Say it a hundred times until you believe it!

And WHAT you learn is really based on what you want. We get to this in every seminar on relationships and in every couples or individual therapy alliance. If I don’t eventually ask you what you want, I’m not doing my job. We often start there because WHAT you wants drives what you will have. And if you’re not sure what it is you want, that’s okay too. You’ll discover and decide as you go along.

But some of you already know the thing you crave is LOVE. You know you were placed in this world with an imperative to love and be loved. And you want to have a successful, fulfilling relationship before you leave this earth. You want to put into action the knowledge that other people seem to have mastered. You’re daring to dream that someone somewhere will want to make a rich and fulfilling life with you.

Trust me, it happens. It does. It still does. It is not too late.

And some of you are wondering if you just have bad luck, if you attract all the jerks or crazies, if you will ever get this right. Remember, all of us are scared sometimes. We’re human, after all. And being human has scary parts. Love has scary parts. Dating has scary parts. Other people do have the potential to disappoint us, to wound us if we let them, to complicate our happiness, and, even in the best scenarios, to leave us when they die first.

It’s a pretty scary venture.

And yet, many of you are still willing. You want what you want. You’re willing to learn a thing or two. You are willing to see if your current relationship can be saved even while you’re asking if it should be saved. You are looking for a mate even though you’ve been disappointed a hundred times. You are harboring a glimmer of hope you’re just waiting for someone to fan.

I am that someone. I have hope for you aplenty. You can do this. Sometimes getting the right help is the first step.

It can start with attending a seminar. Ladies register here.

It can start with a free consultation or with a first session. Call me at 513-530-5888.

It can start with some good reading and contemplation of change. Keep reading right here and keep in touch. Subscribe to the blog and never miss a post.

When you’re ready, I’ll help you make life great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Right for Love

Today, it’s “Ladies, listen up” and “Gents, listen in.” There’s stuff for each of you here.

Guess what, Beauties? You’re perfect for love. Right now. You are not too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too weird, too old, too much, too little, too in-debt, or too broken for love. You’re NOT! You are just right.

Think about it. What is that thing you’re telling yourself you’ll DO before you open your heart to love again?

Lose 20 pounds? Get your children perfectly reared and out on their happy way? Establish a secure retirement? Afford Botox, or microdermabrasion, fix your varicose veins, try laser hair removal, get a make-over, run your first half-marathon, attain top management in your job, save the world?!

Do you tell yourself (and others) you’re too busy to date? Your girlfriends are where it’s at right now. You’ll just focus on your children and grandchildren. All the good men are taken and if they’re not, you’ll believe it when you see it?!

Two things keep us trapped. One is the belief we must meet some ideal just short of perfection or we are going to be rejected and overtaken by younger, thinner, taller, (or more petite) more demure, and cunning women. In short, we must be perfect.

After all, everyone knows a man is comparing the real women in his life to the women in a magazine! (More on this in just a minute.) How pathetic, we think. To get to this age and have men still judge us on beauty and sex appeal and helplessness. It’s hardly fair.

It doesn’t help us like ourselves. Or men for that matter.

Secondly, we have embraced to the fiber, cell, and breath of our being the belief we do not need a man in order to be happy! By God, we are going to do it ourselves! We do not need a man! And we will prove it until our dying breath if we must.

In our weak, tender, lonely moments we think, well, if a truly good man were to prove his worth to us by artfully pursuing us atop his shiny, white steed, maybe, maybe then we’d reconsider. If he did all the right things.

As it is, he doesn’t call when he says he will.

We thought we were the only one he was dating just to find out he was seeing two other women at the same time.

He cleaned off my car windshield without even asking?! What is he trying to say? Does he think I’m a helpless girl and can’t do that myself?

Welp, there’s a good reason he’s divorced, we think aloud. Another creep bites the dust.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some creeps in mid-life dating. There are absolute rule-out, do-not-consider-for-another-minute-no-matter-how-great-the-sex red flags. And some of us are ignoring these, hoping to reform a 50-some-year-old Boy into a Good Guy.

That does not happen, ladies.

And it’s not our job to fix them. Let’s do let these boys be boys. We’re interested in Real Men, in the Good Guys, right? They exist.

Some of us can’t recognize a Real Man from a Boy.  And that’s not his fault.

Here’s a hint: Boys actually DO expect middle-age women to be in supremo, tip-top physical condition. They ARE still evaluating women based on how good she will make him look. They DO think women should look like the ideal of beauty they’ve been fed. Here’s a newsflash, ladies. These men do not understand relationship yet AND they don’t even really like us. They have issues.

(This is not to say men don’t want us to be attractive, but Real Men who like Real Women actually DO find us naturally alluring and beautiful. In lots of different shapes and sizes and colors. Trust me, there’s a man who will love your female form, I’m sure of it! And, I’ll help you find him.)

Meanwhile, we’ve got our own issues.

We have very good reason for the belief we do not need a man. We’ve been hurt and disappointed, heart-broken and confused by our lack of success in love. We’ve grown up in the era that saw the bra burned and wages stay unequal. We were some of the first women to actually have it all only to watch it crumble when he had sucked all the life out of us or stopped seeing us altogether or cheated and left.

We have very good reason to believe we need to be perfect before we deserve to be loved. We are smart, after all, and this must be the missing piece of the puzzle. It couldn’t possibly be something simpler.

Or could it?

What if the pain inherent in our experience with love and dating were relatively easy to shift? What if it’s just a matter of healing in a few key ways? What if it’s not about trying harder and doing more and being better? Would you invest a little time and energy and money in learning that?

I would.

I did.

But before I found answers, I invested a whole lot of heartache and anger, trial and error. I invested years of my life (and my children’s lives) trying harder to do better and be better and fix everything. Then I found something that actually helped me see and recognize Boys, leave them behind and appreciate wonderful, quality men so I could enjoy good, peaceful love.

It’s my mission to help you find a way to enjoy a healthy love too. No matter where you are right now, I can help you get to relationship with a Good Guy that works.

I know things that will save you pain, time, heartache, anguish, & embarrassment and actually attract a good man capable of loving you well. I’ll share lots of it right here, so follow me and get alerts when I post about this topic.

Don’t wait! Register NOW and come have dinner and drinks; bring the girls and your smart, sassy self! No matter where you are right now in your readiness for Midlife Dating, Mating, and Relating this Girls’ night out is seriously going to be a blast!

Good Guys Finish First

I know you don’t believe it. You’ve been telling yourself the easy opposite for a really long time. But I am here to tell you there is no wisdom in the foolish idiom that good guys finish last. Bull-puckey! Ready to find out what will help the world know what a good guy you really are? Check out this upcoming seminar for MEN 35 & better.

There ARE women out there who love, love, love, and appreciate good men! (I’m one of them, btw.)

I’m trying to address both men AND women here and let you each listen in. There’s a lot to be learned by eavesdropping, you know. So, stay with me ladies. Your turn is coming.

Men, listen up. Women, listen in.

I know you’re tired. Of crazy, unpredictable, spastic women who seem to BE one thing and then issue an endless stream of requirements and spoken or unspoken expectations once they feel they’ve got you!

I know you’re tired of being the one who has to put yourself out there and wonder “does she get that I’m really NOT an asshole?”

I know you’ve spent years bearing the burden of rejection since you are the one who, traditionally. has been doing the asking. And you HAVE been rejected. And you have learned to accept it. And it has left its mark.

I know you’re bewildered by the female species. I know you really can’t quite figure us out, the speed at which we talk and analyze and the abundance of words, words, words, words, words, all to say one simple thing that is kinda frazzled by the time we get to it.

I understand that, really, you just want us to be happy and when we are unhappy it’s nearly impossible NOT to take it personally and not try to DO something about it.

I know that’s why when we offer a problem you deliver a solution. Because you’re good at that. Because although you ARE empathetic and, by God, of course you care about how we feel, you actually do figure the better thing to express is a solution so that we can stop feeling so bad right now! I like that about you.

I also like that when I tell you plainly without making you feel you’re wrong, that I just need you to listen, you DO let me know you care and you DON’T offer a solution. You hold onto your solution for my problem even though it costs you to operate like that.

I know it’s actually a sacrifice. You’re basically exploding with a cure for cancer! And I love that you love us enough to be uncomfortable like that. I know it hurts you like blue balls but you do it because, in fact, we ARE really important to you.

I know you’ve grown up in the transition time between traditional fathers who were not in the birthing room and didn’t have many tender words (perhaps) and the new generation of men who seem to seamlessly embrace nurturing their children and their spouses and you think sometimes, (in the dark and you would never tell anyone) dear God, who am I as a man?! 

You’re in mid-life now, aware of where you came from and not exactly sure where you are headed but you feel better equipped to meet it than you ever have. You want to make the most of the time you have left because life no longer seems forever like it did when you were twenty and invincible.

You want a reasonable companion who is NOT a ton of work and drama. You know it’s time to experience an ease with yourself, with your mate, with your life. If you can’t achieve that by now, what’s it all for anyway? So why on earth are you not having success finding a suitable mate?

You tell yourself you’re a good man. And wonder why so many other people- and especially the women you are hoping to please- can’t always seem to see it.

It’s truly confusing.

Except that it’s really simple.

We women just complicate things.

It’s our specialty.

Dang, can we ever THINK about things and analyze the heck out of anything! Plus, on top of it, we have feelings about everything and that MATTERS!

This scenario…this is why I have made it my mission to help. And I want to give you hope, good guys. There is a good woman out there who really does want your love and your special mix of manliness. There is a good woman out there who understands some basic things about how you’re wired and she appreciates it.

And she does not just have a good personality.

She’s attractive, and playful, and youthful. She likes sex AND companionship and she is responsible for her own emotions. She knows how to let you be yourself and how to let you see who she is too. She understands what it means to be human and middle-aged and female.

Believe it or not, she’s looking for you.

Let me introduce you.

(Tomorrow, I talk to the ladies!)

Love is Easy; Love is Abundant

Question what you think you know about love.

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me.) Is love a mystery?

Remember M*A*S*H*’s theme song: Suicide is Painless.

That’s daft. No it’s not. That sentiment is a big fat, stupid lie. It makes a poignant song title because it’s so tragically ironic. And wrong. (Ask anyone who has lost someone to suicide-and that, unfortunately, includes LOTS of us!)

Have you heard, “love takes work” or “good love is hard to find” or “love hurts, love stinks”?

Trust me. These are also big, fat, stupid lies. We just believe them because we’ve heard them so many times and then when something happens (like we get rejected) we hear them again, only this time in our own voice.

Just because people say things thousands of times and we think them and we think life “proves” them right does not mean they are true.

Read that again. It can be a bit of a mind-twister.

If you give yourself one gift this year, let it be replacing these lies with the truth.

Allow me to be an example.

I spent years (believe me) struggling in relationship, convinced that giving 110% should yield a happy love (because everyone should give of themselves, compromise, and give as much as possible. This is what good Christian women -fill in that blank with whatever description applies to you- do, after all.)

This thinking and behavior never produced more harmony, or more love, or better intimacy, or any peace.

I was undeterred! I had plenty of evidence that I just needed to “work harder” and “love more.” I soothed myself with chocolate and mantras like “love hurts.”

I was, after all, really smart and I did not have the love I wanted so I concluded that people must not actually experience good love or at least not very often and therefore, “love is scarce” and “good love is hard to find.” This made perfect sense. I had years of proof!

I had plenty of supportive company and comforting commiseration from other people who also did not have a clue about how love works.

And then, something incredible happened.

I read the truth. Someone wrote, “Love is easy. Love is abundant. Love is not hard.” And even though I thought these were CRAZY notions, maybe even blasphemous, I allowed myself to entertain the possibility that what I knew about love was ALL WRONG.

It changed my approach to solving this problem. Instantly. I went from taking all those underlying beliefs for granted and operating on them to ASKING the right question.

How DOES love work?

Almost miraculously, in a way that felt almost like the heavens opening and the angels singing, and actually was one of those waaaaaaaaaa, low-effort, fantastic revelations, I made a shift in my thinking and it changed my life for the better for-EVERRRRRHHHH! I’m not kidding you!

This is why I am doing what I do as a therapist and life coach. This is why I KNOW I know things that can help and why I feel compelled to DO THIS!

I had no idea until I studied that there was scientific support for the claims that “love is abundant” and “love is easy.” Oh man, I have things to share! This stuff is gonna change YOUR life too. I’m singing at the thought of it and I hope you’ll give me the chance to teach you what I know.

Here a a few things to keep in mind:

  • It can be very difficult to come to the humble conclusion the way you’ve always done things AND the way you think about things MIGHT NOT BE right.
  • Making that shift is essential for growth. THIS is where growth happens: Pinpointing the untruth, examining it, and replacing it!
  • Just because something is simple, does not guarantee it’ll be easy.

That is what I’m here for: to assist you in implementing.

Give me a call or send an email!

 

Before you date again

What are the first things you want to know before jumping back into the pool of “plenty of fish?”

How to stay away from the slimy, stinky ones? Maybe you’re just wishing you could skip all the painful parts.

If you’re angry at all the advice about “wait a year” and “go find yourself first,” I’m here to tell you that is soooo normal! You should be angry! Who is this person telling you what you need to do? (here’s an example of a checklist for becoming self-actualized before dating again)

You are in pain!

It’s just overwhelming thinking about all the obstacles you must first overcome before you are going to get to the relationship you really want again! If it can ever work, that is!

Besides, when pain is your reality, a year feels like FOR-ehhhhh-VERRRRRR. (Sandlot, anyone?)

I bet you get equally annoyed when people answer your earnest question “when IS the right time to re-enter the dating world?” with “only you can answer that question.” That’s no help!

I might scandalize hoards of people, but truly, let’s cut to the chase about a few concerns:

Either you are wondering when it will EVER be an “appropriate” time to HAVE SEX again, (based on your values and this strangely shifting dating scene) or you may just want to stay away from any potential mates altogether.

Maybe you feel both ways in between secretly, literally, crying in your coffee. Maybe it’s easy enough finding willing sex partners but that has nothing to do with finding the committed relationship you actually want.

Everyone knows that late at night, in the cold dark of your single-occupied bed is THE TIME, no matter what, when you come painfully face-to-face with the reality of your new single-hood.

Have I said that sucks? It does!

Rather than assure you by saying “you will figure this out; you’ll know when the time is right” or give you a list of MUST-DO-FIRSTS, here are a couple of things that RIGHT NOW can be a small comfort.

  1. Keep in mind your pain is real. It’s normal. It IS painful. Oh man, it hurts! Sometimes it hurts to breathe!
  2. Put your pain in perspective. Humans get to experience pain. It is part of what makes us human. That said… (don’t get mad at me for this one-it comes from a really smart, sweet, older woman who had learned a thing or two by the time I heard her share it…)
  3. Tell yourself the truth about your pain: It’s not going to kill you; it’s only your own pain. Make it a sweet, soothing “mantra”, if you like. “It’s not going to kill me; it’s only my own pain.” (Bonus nugget of truth that helps lots of people: when you learn to experience your own pain instead of taking on everyone else’s or trying to AVOID IT,- through busy-ness or  denial- there’s actually LESS of it.) “It’s just my own pain.” Try that one on for size.
  4.  On the practical side, make your bed a sanctuary of COMFORT. Get new sheets and bedding, new pillows that DON’T smell like or remind you of your ex-lover. Make it YOUR space. And then sleep in the middle, thrash about with abandon and SPREAD OUT, man! if you need to cry there, go ahead. (This works for women  AND MEN!)
  5. Be grateful. Seriously. Count whatever you can. No matter what your spiritual approach and even if you don’t really engage one, noticing the good not only multiplies it (you notice MORE!) but it increases your daily satisfaction.

It’s not rocket science. Simple things can make a big difference. Of course, you know I’m going to tell you to find a skilled, trustworthy counselor or coach. Of course!