90 Day Dating Review...
My dating plan is eccentric. Few get it but it was devised with much prayer and listening to the people in my life that I trust, respect and value the most. NO ONE has said their rebound relationship was a great idea. NO ONE has said to go fast, choose quickly, and fall in love while still sorting out the mess. Most people say they moved too fast (but some have said they waited too long). Science shows it takes 2-3 years to recover. The LORD, my God, my #1 has given examples through time of people jumping the gun and shooting themselves in the foot.
I’d like to think that I can do this dating thing better now than I did as an insecure, horny teenager. With all due respect and reverence to the Faith that is my Guiding Light in life, I’m tired of looking for signs. If I needed a sign, I got one with He Who Left. I was sure he was the one for life… I’m done with signs; I don’t care how many pop up. I’m done with feelings, I don’t’ care how strong they are.
I’m not done with love.
I’m a romance writer. I believe in love! I’d like to believe I’m worthy of love and that I can find One who will not leave. I believe the Bible, and believe it’s not good for me to be alone. But this time it won’t be a pressured, horny or emotional decision, it will be deliberate, intentional and calculated. I have purposed this time in my life to meet good guys and do fun stuff. I want a man that will not leave me, even when it’s hard. I want a man that I can respect and honor and compliment. I want a man who believes in me and loves me. I’m sensible enough to believe there isn’t just one man that fits this mold. I believe I’m not the only woman who fits any man’s mold. We are souls compatible and incompatible. We are bodies, minds, spirits, capable of coupling and partnering for life despite differences. It is my strategic plan to choose the man I partner with best and who is the best match for me, in the time I have to search. I’m not making a lifetime of looking, I’m gathering data, and in due time will see who sticks and who I partner with best. If I have to have fun dating, getting to know good guys and doing fun stuff that none of us will regret later to find a match, I will happily take on the task and do that!
So, I am dating online and in real life. I’m not one to keep it online so if they aren’t local and can’t hold my interest, meh… I bore easily and move on. I’m interested in meeting guys… to look at, touch, hear, talk to, smell and maybe taste every now and then… just being honest. (Don’t take that too far, I’m a good Christian woman and have conservative boundaries I DO NOT cross. I’ve trained my body not just to get fit but to prove that I have self- control over my urges)
I really like the online forum and wish that real-life worked the same way, because then it would be a more local pool of people. As it is, in real life, women are told, trained and believe that making the first move is fool-hearty. Men are, for all their bravado and big talk, scared to death to approach ladies with twinkling eyes and seductive smiles. I have no way of telling men my status. I have no way of saying what my interests, religious beliefs or family dynamic is. Online, the basics are right there. For all my convoluted conversations about absurd notions, I’m a direct person when it comes to how I want to live my life. I appreciate having stats right there.
Of course the hope would be people are honest and I can say the men I’ve actually met are genuinely good men that are, like me, looking to see what’s out there. Some say hi and quickly learn I’m not their cup of tea or vice versa. Some make it to coffee and no further. Exactly two in three months have made their way into real dates. One is a nice guy but not so bold as I like and won’t make the cut.
The other… well, I like him. He’s cool! He’s fit, he’s a man of God and action and yeah, I like him. Is he the one? Who knows!?!?! As much as I like him, I’m not ready to make that call. He’s definitely potential. But I’ve got plenty of time to see what else is out there. He’s definitely someone’s cup of tea. I’m not worried, either we’ll be together or we won’t. The beauty of it is… he’s an amazing guy and he won’t have any difficulty finding someone. I know whether it’s me or someone else he will be honored and loved and he will find what he’s looking for.
I didn’t expect to be an object of affection. It’s humbling and weighty. It’s easy to fall for the feelings. But I won’t. I’ll continue to look for good guys and do fun stuff. I’ll cultivate relationships full of fun but free of regret. I’ll get to know good men. I’ll get to do fun stuff. I’ll see who sticks. The Leaving almost killed me. If I have to take time now to shake out the leavers, I will, with no regrets.
The hard part is that this is real-life. This isn’t a story I’m creating, with paper characters that I can tear down to build up into a great story. These are real men with real bodies, minds, souls and spirits. They are taking time with me and I owe them gratitude and honor for considering me worthy of their time. These are good men I’m meeting. They are taking time with me. I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I mean to know what drives them, what wakes them up in the morning, why they would be interested in me, if our lives could blend for the rest of our lifetimes. I mean to make the wisest choice, for him and for me, in the time I have to choose.
All in all, over the last 3 months, dating has been fun, I look forward to the next part of my middle… and to the time and the man that I can intentionally fall in love with. Until then, this is fun!!! I will date as I live with chaos and irony and passion and pleasure and First things First. Someday I will love again, for now, it’s good guys and fun stuff!
Think my dating plan is eccentric? Check out Tatum's in Catching Tatum! She's made a game out of love!
The dark side of sex
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of sex. It's one of my favorite things ever! (Yeah, yeah, yeah I know I'm not getting any right now, it's a reluctant choice but it will come to an end in due time). I believe that honest, healthy sexual relationships are one of God's greatest gifts. I think in its truest form, it's one of the purest acts of selflessness and vulnerability known to man. I believe it's more than skin on skin, but a union of body, mind, soul and spirit. The intimacy and the knowing that happens when two become one is unparallelled in any other act. It's a drive, an urge and a drawing that brings and binds a man to his woman, and tells her she is safe even in her most exposed moments.
As with any basic human need, sex is ripe to be distorted, destroyed and damaged. Sadly, the misuse of bodies and sexual acts is all too common. There was a meme on Facebook that asked: “If you could eliminate one thing from this world, what would it be?” Hands down, without a doubt, my answer is: sexual victimization of all kinds.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. Few know the story. For once, a part of my life will be kept private. The point is, because I love good sex so much, the misuse of it really pisses me off! I find myself in a unique position in my life. I belong to no man and as such, have no one to protect me, even from myself. Since it happened, people have voiced concern about me speaking against sexual victimization. If I'm completely honest, it was a relief. It's a foul subject. I felt like I needed to speak out and speak up but since others were concerned, I had an out. I liked having an out.
I don't like to think about sexual abuse let alone write about it, or God help me, advocate against it. It makes me feel sick inside. In my volunteer work with CASA I ask not to be put on cases with sexual abuse because I don't know how to deal with the feelings. It is one of the few things in life that moves me at such a deep visceral level. That means I need to do something. I have decided to advocate, for the child, for the young woman, for the boy, for any and all who are sexually abused.
My words are my weapons and this year I use them to rage against one of the most heinous evils in this dark world. The decision started late last year as I drafted Sailing with Rusty. I love the story but one of the arcs deals with Scarlet being sexually assaulted. It hit close to home and I knew it was time for me to say something.
This year my books go dark. Real-life romance will still find its way into my stories because, well, that's life. There is light and love amidst the darkness and evil. The job of the saints, of the good people of this world, is to RAGE against the darkness. I am small, I am weak, I am only one voice but I won't be silent. I cannot eliminate all sexual predators but I can bring awareness to some of the ways that we as a society unwittingly participate in the perpetuation of sexual victimization.
My new series, Just Gia, delves into childhood sexual abuse and the devastating after affects and journey to healing. Sailing with Rusty, due out this fall, will expose a more subtle, but even more common kind of sexual victimization. Finally as the year comes to a close I'll introduce Evie, a victim of date rape, who will be forced to relive the trauma of the night she was raped in eleven different lives.
My desire isn't to hurt anyone with my words but to stir up emotions to such a point that readers want to do something to rage against the darkness. My readers are cool people and I'm sure they will find ways to be a catalyst for advocacy.
Three years a gym rat!
Three years ago I started going to CrosSport, never knowing a gym could change my life and possibly save it. It sounded like a fun place (and they gave the youth I worked with an opportunity to participate). I made the resolution to start, took my before pictures, but waited to go until February 2013. (I didn’t want to be one of those New Year’s people). I felt like I was already fit. I ran half-marathons and 5-10 mile runs every weekend for fun, I practiced yoga2-4 times a week, but it’s funny how one change, for the good or bad, can catalyze more changes in the direction you’re facing. Running and yoga were good, but I wanted more.
I started at CrosSport alone, just me and a goal to see what my body could do. I went two or three days a week. I heard Des sing and Mike tell me how to do the exercises. I saw men and women in all phases of their fitness journey doing hard things to train their bodies to obey their will. I was intimidated. I was inspired! I was hooked!
Oh that first leg day!! I shook and trembled to my car and almost fell out the door when I got home. I climbed one painful step after another to the front door but I couldn’t get the cheesy grin off my face. I liked the pain!!! It told me I was alive, I existed and I was atrophied. There was within me a body capable of more than what I had been doing. I wanted to push my limits!
Ten months ago, the man I fully intended spending the rest of my life with, growing old with, sharing history and time with, left. That story is his to tell. I was, as were our children, collateral damage in the choice.
My world stopped turning, nothing made sense. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t parent my children. All I could do was cry out to God and spew my transient emotions to anyone who would listen. And move. I was not created to be still. In the past I resorted to less than healthy choices to deal with hard feelings and restless energy. Destruction was an option. Drugs were an option. Meaningless affection was an option. Suicide was an option. These were my options and, yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, they were the options at the top of my mind.
Luckily I’d just finished publishing Catching Tatum and had a slew of suicide prevention and STD facts fresh in my head AND had written about the devastating effects of what both do. So with MUCH support, prayer and counseling I came up with healthier options.
My options were my two steadies… Jesus and the gym. CrosSport became my safe place, my home away from home. I could go and not have to think or explain or do anything but what they told me to do. And so I did. Two, sometimes three WODs a day. I survived. I got stronger. I stayed safe. I fit into the gym community in my own little way. Day by day, by the grace of God, breathing got easier, thinking got clearer, life started to take on a new flow and rhythm. Not as it was before, as it is in the middle.
Then this month came and I looked at my “Before” pictures!!! I didn’t expect to see such a change. Three years of faithful, consistent, time put into showing up at CrosSport to do the WODs, has paid off. This is pushing myself, not slowing down to fit in or competing too hard and hurting myself, just me being the best version of myself. For me… because I AM WORTH the work!
Some have implied I spend too much time at CrosSport… maybe. But I say it’s a good choice, a safe place, a better way to live and hands down a preferred alternative to my old destructive ways. So, yeah, happy three years to me!!! And thank you CrosSport for open doors and fit living options!!!
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I’ve had the idea for this post for a while. I didn’t know when to post it and then this week happened. Too many events, emotions, and words packed like an over-stuffed suitcase into seven small days. They cascade like cool, briny waves over the thick skin of the prized blue marlin Hemingway wrote of before he did what he did to end what he had, yes that’s an allusion to his suicide.
This week is Valentine’s Day, and the Leaver’s birthday, it’s ten months alone… On top of all that bittersweet it’s more compliments from boys and men than I’ve had in years, and the sweetest possibility of a blind date by guys I know and implicitly trust, and a touch I have longed for and a profession of interest in more than what I’m capable of giving at this time in my life.
Since I started dating I’ve had no lack of suitors but they’ve all kept their words of endearment to themselves. This week though, the words were out of control. I got attention, admiration and arms around me like I’m not used to. I think it’s Valentine’s Day. I think the gentlemen of this world, of my world, are as romantic and wistful with the Day of Love on the horizon as ladies are. Today I heard what I was waiting for. It’s time to write it all out the only way I can say it.
Like any romantic I want to find love, like in the romance novels. I want enduring love that will last a lifetime. But I am not desperate for it... I know, like dawn comes after dark, that it won’t be long until love comes calling… and I answer. When I was finishing Gia’s Secrets, the first book in my next trilogy, she felt like a marlin on the line. I wanted her! She was terrible and wonderful. I was aware of the pain she would bring but also of the message she would carry to the world. I was the Old Man. I was ready to fight for her. And I did and I will. And I got her in the boat. She is a monstrous beauty. I will tell the tale of the work that went into her for the rest of my life. I wanted her that bad.
And I want to be wanted that badly.
Not only am I the Old Man, fighting every day for my dream, this thing that drives me, this thing I believe God put me on the earth to do; I am also the prized blue marlin the man who will have me seeks.
But I do not belong to him, or to any fisherman yet.
I am free. I am a bright, beautiful, glorious beast of a thing swimming wild and unruly in an ocean of wide open spaces where only a few brave fishermen are ready to travel to and willing to put their lines in and see if I’ll bite.
Right now, I go where I will, doing what I want. Aimless and free. Capable and content. But also this marlin answers to her Maker and He calls me to the Old Man. If I stay in the ocean, I die in the ocean. If I go to him, the Old Man, who will brave the sun and sweat and waves and blisters, blood and time and pain and potential loss to win me, I will forever be the story he tells with a twinkle in his eyes and a skipped beat of his heart. I will adorn his life. I will be the catch he fought for, the prize he won. He will ever look to me with pride even when the dust settles on my mounted frame (sorry I couldn’t help it) and the years have dulled the shine my skin once knew.
I will be the one he fought for, the one he wanted, or the one that got away but, man, what a fun fight I was while I was hooked! I will belong to no man but one; the one who is ready, who is willing, who is strong enough, patient enough, stubborn enough and wise enough to know when to give me slack, when to pull me tight, when to reel hard and gain feet, and prepared to let the boat tilt instead of letting me go. He’ll never let me go… ever! He’ll treasure me forever. And maybe, I’ll never admit it, but maybe, his determination, grit and steadfastness to stick with me will be the very thing I need to trust him enough to let him catch me.
There’s a lot between now, when I swim free amongst the few men who are out to find me, and then, when I find the bait I take. And even when I take the bait there’s no guarantee. I might not be the catch the Old man seeks. He might cut his line and I will be left with a hook in my mouth but free to swim again. Or he might not have what it takes to haul me in to his boat and I’ll snap his line and look for another. Maybe I’m the one, no other will do. Maybe he’ll watch and wait and figure out exactly what I bite and how strong his line ought to be, and how big the boat, to insure the catch. Maybe he gets lucky but he’s good and pulls me in.
I don’t know who he is, but I’m pretty sure he has strong arms to hold me fast (that maybe he flexes for my benefit), a heart that is bright as the sun, a life devoted to the One who gives and takes away, and a determination to prove to me that he’ll never leave no matter how hard I fight to believe it.
Also, he’s in the boat!!! He’s not on the shore hoping a trophy catch jumps into his arms. He’s out there, he’s studied, prepared, bought or at least chartered his boat and he’s all in for the catch. He’s got a lure that I’m gonna bite. He didn’t throw a worm on a hook and expect me to take that. He’s in, he’s trying and he’s prepared, win or lose, to get a story he can tell his buddies for the rest of his life. Yeah, I’m that kind of catch, or release, or one that got away.
I’m not a picky marlin, I’m a prized blue marlin of the deep blue sea. I’ll not be taken easy but oh how I’ll be adored when I’m finally brought in!
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