Sep 29, 2009

Northern girls - a hard act to follow

Liverpool girls are fashionable, brazen, sharp-edged and hard to the core. I should know, I used to be one. Then i moved south and softened a little.

This difference struck me as quite apparent the other day when i called my mum for a girly catchup session. She's a tough chick through and through and i wonder sometimes where she gets her strength from, but i also wonder at her lack of compassion, You see i'm getting over this guy and i was quite upset, and all i wanted or needed was a little empathy and a few hugs.

So she listens to me blub on about how he hurt me and how hurt i was feeling for about ten minutes, not saying a word. Then when i've finished sobbing my heart out, she tuts loudly and says "I wish i'd have been there. I would have slapped some sense into you. Crying over a boy. I'm ashamed to call you my daughter!"

Ok. Major switch of gears on my part. I tactfully stifle my tears until they are barely glistening on my cheek and brush off the impact of this guy on my poor heart, and my mother's last retort with a bit of indifference. I should know by now not to drown my sorrows with her as my companion. She just doesn't give an inch with that kind of emotion. Its like she doesn't know how to get upset unless its unresolved anger - the sort that causes family feuds and wars with the neighbours. My mother doesn't cry easily. Shes the type of person who won't allow herself to waste tears on anyone... god forbid a man.

My friend, also from Liverpool, was quick to paint her mother with the same brush. Its like up north, because its colder or something, the women are less forgiving and not so full of mush. They are proud of being brassier and bolder. They won't hesitate to make crass comments or reduce a man to tears. Its a scary place for a guy i can imagine... thats why they all marry so young.

And so where does that leave me? I was born there and was every bit a northen bird until i moved south almost ten years ago. South. Where all the women are sweeter and softer, and the mothers collect china dolls and knit doilies. Deep down i still have that desire to be a touch cookie. When i get pushed to the edge i start to sharpen my tongue and click my heels with impatience. But its like i've taken a few sugar pills. I'm more understanding and tolerant. I'm more giggly and weepy. Only i can't decide which part (hard or soft) is the outer shell or the centre, and which part is the real me.

The funny thing is, when i start to talk in my native scouse accent... i feel like i'm hard as nails, and no-one, especially a guy, should mess with me.

May you live in interesting times...

Every year or so i decide to massively overhaul my life... either by changing where i live, changing my job or who i'm seeing, or all three. It usually happens after my birthday, coming into the winter months. A kinda fall clearout of useless emotions, ties and goals. This year is no exception. I feel like i've gone all out. I'm currently torn into little pieces and scattered all over the shop. Its relentless, its unforgiving... but its who i am. I like to evolve or should i say force myself to evolve.

The worst thing is knowing that you did this to yourself. Thats the hardest pill to swallow... that the turmoil going through your life is a result of your own restlessness. I can't sit still at the best of times, so give me a long stretch of the 'same old' and get itchy feet.

I've been trying to understand why i spread myself so thin, because ultimately it ends with a fall from grace of some kind. Either i over-promise or i sell myself short.... or i end up confused and not knowing if i'm doing the right thing.

I'm still not really inside my own head, but its starting to ease off. I had a few positives come my way that really opened my eyes to my situation. I'm in control. As always, and my perception is half the feeling and half the battle. Seeing all of this chaos as something that needs to be done, to shake things up a little, challenge me, and define who i am.

I have to go through this, so that one day i can look back and smile. Just like i do now.

Someone very cool and who i miss chatting to told me "happy people are happy on purpose." Thanks J. I'm going to keep that in mind.

Sep 27, 2009

House hunting is like dating... well sort of

I've been searching high and low for the past couple of months looking for the perfect flat in the perfect location that doesn't cost the earth. And i'm still looking...

It struck me that while this search is certainly stressful, its almost like dating: at first you're so excited about the prospect of looking around for something new, taking your own sweet time about it, enjoying the ride. Later you start to lose hope that you'll ever find anything you could see a future with, theres always one thing missing, or something just not quite right, or all the good ones are already taken. And finally you start to compromise on your expectations, taking them down a notch or two or giving up on a few essentials and settling for a place that is more comfortable than dazzling. At the end of the day you have to live there for a pretty long time, so as long as your basic needs are met, you'll probably still be happy? right?

I'm not sure, as i say i still haven't found anywhere! And as for dating, i'm learning an important lesson in the art of 'letting go', as the worst part of committing even a tiny bit towards something that has the potential to be great, is realising it will never be exactly how you want. When this happens, you just have to take a deep breath and get on with your life.

I've always believed that better things are always around the corner, and life proves me right time and time again. Every flat i've seen so far is better than the last. I'm actually getting good at sizing up the property just from the online ad. In seconds i know if its worth seeing or not. I even know what questions to ask and what is a show stopper for me. Funny that i have to go back to dating, i wonder if i'm still astute enough to 'know' if a guy is worth a couple of hours of my time or will i just want to climb out the bathroom window in the restaurant after a few hours like i have done in the past?

Here are a few of my showstoppers i've gathered over the years, and any guy that retains these lovely qualities automatically gets rejection:

- He gets smutty or rude straight away before i've even kissed him (automatic turn off!)
- He smokes or does drugs (i've dated both but its not something i want to do ever again)
- He assumes i will sleep with him and makes an issue of it (yes these guys still exist)
- He has little or no confidence in himself and i have to lead all the time (I want a white knight, not a wet blanket)
- He puts me down or teases in a negative way in order to make himself feel superior and in control
- He has no drive or ambition

Looking at these you may think, but surely they go without saying? However i think it takes a while for these kind of traits to filter through as an automatic 'no' to a girl. I've been guilty of knowing these guy are bad news, but i would still entertain them by allowing them to harass me. I used to call it 'being nice' but really its all about your ego enjoying the 'unwanted' attention. You don't have to reply to every text message or email you get or answer if he calls. Any little encouragement, even just being polite, is a red flag to a bull. Maybe its not nice to ignore a guy but for my own sanity i've had to become ruthless - and even if he seems cool, i take his number just in case i change my mind, otherwise like with house hunting..... i'd spend all my time filtering the rejects, and not enough time on the things/people that truly matter.

Sep 9, 2009

Be Strong and they become weak - or getting over One-itis

In every girl there is a weakness and I'm sure in every guy there is one too...

... i'm talking about that 'one' person who at this moment holds the key to your leash. They are your achilles heel.

Symptoms? Well you think about them often, and things jump out and remind you of them. You find little ways (excuses) to communicate with them, see them, talk to them, get involved in their life. You stalk them on facebook & have an rss to their twitter feed. You notice every detail about what they like and don't like. You check your phone constantly and if that message isn't from them you get annoyed. In fact it feels like you carry rejection everywhere you go...

Sound familiar? In some circles they call this 'one-itis'. Its an addiction to how this 'one' person makes you feel... nothing more. When around you feel happy, confident, comfortable, attractive, secure, etc. A dangerous state to associate with a particular person, because when they leave or are not around, guess who feels the impact in equal but negative measure? Yes, you do.

So how to combat this almost debilitating situation?

Simply find your strength. When you become the 'stronger' opponent, you are instantly in control. And they are not. This leaves them a choice of either admitting defeat and walking away or accepting the 'weaker' position (in which they can develop a stronger attraction towards you) that you previously occupied. And of course i'll explain how:

Create a little distance
In any addiction you need to wean yourself off the source. The hardest but most rewarding thing to do is create a little space between you. I call it back-leading. Don't see it as retreating, see it as soldier would see a military perfidy tactic - falsify surrender and lose a little interest in the action for a while. I don't mean give the silent treatment or become cold and aloof.... I mean get out of town for a while or find ways to become busy enough you don't have time. You could even change the dynamics of the relationship to less one level of commitment for a brief period than the status quo (e.g. from living together to living apart, from seeing each other every other day to once/twice a week, from drinking as mates every friday to missing a few in a row) This has the effect of giving you some perspective on the matter and allowing them to 'breathe' and hopefully 'miss' you. This works better if on the surface at least, the reason for down-grading is not at all to do with them.

Do the "unexpected"
If you are predictable, you can be controlled. Maybe they know you well enough to know how you will act or maybe they don't... but the fact of the matter is anyone can be predictable if the situation is such. I know if a guy is 'into' me and i text him, he will text back straight away. I know its such a chore to play games, so i'm not saying you have to sit and wait a few hours before you text back as that is predictable too if you 'always' make them wait (which has happened to me and i actually stopped bothering to text because i didn't want to wait for his reply) I'm actually saying get a life where you don't have time to sit glued to your phone. If its in your pocket and you get a text then cool reply straight away. If you're in the supermarket buying drinks for your house party and u have an hour to get ready don't waste time trying to text back, at least wait until you get home and you have a free hand. This way your response is unpredictable because your life is. It could be immediate or it could be delayed... but always you can and will as soon as you are able.

Stick to your guns
Its one thing to decide what your boundaries are but its another to act on them and not make allowances. And you may just do that if this person is on a pedestal. Treat them the same as anyone else and they will respect you all the more. Letting them get away with treating you badly will only make them less attracted to you. They may also feel obliged to see just how far they can push you. Like pets and children, don't let them walk all over you. Be firm and resolute, but nice enough with it that you aren't a spoil sport for any fun and games. Make it part of the game (again like with pets and children) so there is an edge enough that they might just get their way. We all like the taste of possible victory... it makes life more interesting. One way i have to measure my 're-actions' or their behaviour for acceptability is to consider if i would allow a proper friend to do that to me or would i treat a friend that way. If the answer is yes then its usually safe to go with it.

Don't try with willpower alone
In nutrition terms i would never advise a smoker or sugar/caffeine/alcohol abuser to give up their habit with willpower alone. I plan them a course involving tons of supplements and substances that will give the body what it needs naturally, and offer support and help to the addict overcome their cravings. Willpower alone never works. And how does this relate to 'one-itis'? Well lets take for example drunk texting/calling. Its a bad, bad habit. And worse when its directed at the one you really, really like. One or twice in a month is flattering, but all the time and up to 15 times a night is irksome. Another example is facebook stalking. Do you really need to look at their profile again and again just to upset yourself when you see a picture of them with someone who is not you? No you don't. Deal with issues like this in ways that make sense. 1) avoid temptation by turning your phone off or hiding their news feeds. 2) seek help and support from a friend who can remove you phone from your possession. 3) have an alternative you can call or fb stalk like a f*ckbuddy or a best mate. 4) realise if you do slip up that they should be very flattered you even bothered as you don't give that much attention to anyone else ;)

Create abundance
Of course the best medicine for one-itis is to go cold turkey on them and consume other 'less' desirables. In otherwords, widen the net and seek other pleasures.... either by dating others or by filling your life with so many distractions you 'forget' about your addiction. You soon realise there is more to life that this one person and that the same feelings you found in them can be created elsewhere. The more you spread your attention, the less you depend on just one source for satisfying the insecurities of your ego (though i'll always advice that you try subdue the cravings of the ego instead of feed it, but thats quite a task and another article). This will breakdown some or maybe all of the addiction until you're in control again.

Alright, i hope this helps anyone who's even done the crazy things i've done and felt like so foolish over (yes i've called a guy 15 times in one night when i was drunk!). Even if it was a long, long time ago i'll never be able to repair my behaviour with them. First impressions count and also long standing crazy ones.... so keep the crazy between you and your diary/best friend and show them only your good side for at least 80% of the time (statistically the lowest percentage of 'good feelings' time needed to cement a long lasting attraction), and go have fun ;)

Sep 8, 2009

"All girls want a boyfriend" ... er no, not in my world

I've just been listening to Lilly's new single 22. And despite the depressing lyrics.... i actually like it.

But you know. I have to disagree with it. After all i'm nearly 30 and my life is definitely not over.

Going back to basics... your life is what you make it. 'Society' may dictate that by now i should be married with kids, but i love my life the way it is and one day those things may or may not come, but they do not define how happy or complete i am.

There is this myth still in circulation that all girls want boyfriends.

I think it must be a throwback from the era when women were defined by their marriage -they weren't able to vote or have rights and they definitely did not have careers. In this day and age, where women are meant to be equals, we still aren't. A girl that sleeps around is a whore and a woman that reaches the age of 30 and isn't married is an old spinster, yes, even in major cities like London.

Typically women are programmed to want to find the love of their lives and want to start a family. Its in the movies, the romance novels and even in the hearts of the women themselves. You ask any girl and her biggest dream would probably to be to fall in love, second usually to getting married and having kids. No wonder guys think all girls just want a boyfriend...

And you know what? I actually don't. Not right now.

It hit me while i was cramming two business meetings, flat hunting and a friendly lunch into a tight schedule - i don't have time to be in love. Not right now. Even if it turned up on my doorstep i'm a little reluctant to accept it. You see i've been bitten by that bug that seems to affect men quite a lot. Now i'm not sure if its because i've working hard on myself to banish a lot of my female insecurities and needs, developing my career and social life, filling my world with ambition and independence, or if its because have created a world of abundance when it comes to men and pretty much have no trouble finding a date, playmate or a boyfriend should i really want one... or all of the above ;)

Right now? i just want to focus on my career. If any guy came along who wanted some kind of commitment from me... i'm not sure i would have the time to oblige.

You see i'm selfish and i like my me time. I also like spending time with my friends and going places with 'guy' friends as well as girls. I also love not having to answer to anyone. I mean i have plenty of time to get married and be a mother. Now is the time to have my freedom, while i'm young enough to enjoy it!

But... and theres always a 'but' ;) I love doing those things that couples do. I love going on dates with someone i know well that i don't have to 'make' conversation. I only like sleeping with the same guy who knows my body and i know his. I love waking up with someone next to me and cuddling before work. I love going on holidays, cooking him meals, doing those little things like buying him presents and sending him things i know will make him laugh. I love making that one person i care about happy...

But I just don't want the hassle of having to change my life to fit someone else into it. I've had to do it time and time again before and maybe i will be able to compromise in the future.... but right now its not for me. I don't have time or the motivation to be that girlfriend - the one that chooses to stay in because three nights in a row is a bit much, who cuts out her 'guy' friends because he gets jealous, who saves for the house not herself, who has to play nice with his annoying work friends, who runs errands and does the monthly shop, who goes to bed alone waiting for him to come home, who does the washing and the ironing because he is crap at it, who shifts her goals and ambitions to fit in with his dreams, who adapts her clothes and the way she does her hair to appease him, who is suddenly aiming for less than she is able and doesn't even see it... all because she loves her boyfriend very, very much.

No i'm not ready to be that person... and i'm not sure if i ever will. I like my life and any guy who wants me will seriously have to make me fall very, very hard to change that, especially if he wants me to iron his shirts... well maybe on his birthday ;)

Sep 4, 2009

Focus on you ... for a change

A friend of mine was telling me a story about her weekend. In that story were many crazy moments but scattered between the memories were words used to justify her 'selfless' actions... words like 'i couldn't let him do that for me', 'i'm not worthy of such attention', 'he didn't really want to, i don't think'...

Another friend explained her lack of communication with her boyfriend with words like 'he'll think i'm needy', 'i don't want to bother him, 'he doesn't want me there'....

And i have been guilty of similar 'selfless' thoughts such as 'i want to make her feel comfortable/happy', 'i want this person to like me', 'i should give/spend more time'...

In retrospect, this is selfishness coming through the backdoor.

I read once that 'tending only your own garden' is the most selfless act you can choose to do. Meaning?... well look after yourself and your desires first. It may sound like a contradiction. To be self absorbed is not what I was taught at school. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But the more i study philosophy, psychology, science, spirituality and even art...

...the more i understand the concept of truly being selfless - its minding your own business.

To connect with everything you have to start with yourself first. Call it 'self-love' or call it 'inner-game'... doesn't matter what the hell you call it. The results are the same. Everyone gains. And I'll explain how.

*Only you know what you want*
You will never know what anyone else is thinking or feeling, so how can you know what they really want? Don't waste your time. Trying will cost energy and generate useless negative emotion, especially if you get it wrong. Its also a really selfish thing to do, putting thoughts and words to other people's lips. It's truly arrogant thinking you know them better than themselves and then change your behaviour without consulting them first. Take at face value what others say out loud - that they mean what they say - it helps those around you to strengthen their boundaries if they don't, and be honest with themselves and you. Your friends will understand nothing if you anticipate their needs with your own good intentions. And neither will you.

*Inspiration is a great teacher*
Focus on yourself and who you want to be. I can guarantee it will inspire others to evolve as you do. The challenge you set your friends will be to climb the same mountains, or maybe find a different path. Whatever the outcome, its the only way to progress. Constantly turning back to observe others on their ability to climb will only hinder you both. Assist if you can, but not at your expense.

*You are better equipped to help*
I was told that you should only write about what you know, because being there is only way to understand the true perspective of any experience. And if you help yourself climb that mountain first... then you'll know exactly where the pitfalls and potential dangers lie. Only by helping yourself can you then begin to help others, and most importantly relate.

*If you are happy, others are too*
Focusing on you and what makes you happy has a strange way of becoming infectious to those around you. They become happy by default (If they care, and i'm assuming you only want people around you that care). Your life - career, family, friends, home, interests, studies, projects, teachings, travels... the things that give more definition to just an 'existence' - is what makes you 'you'. It is the reason why the people around you love you and find you 'attractive'. Continue to dazzle them if you can. I know it will brighten up their day.

So if you want my advice, based on what i've been through myself, then do everyone a favour - go focus on you ... for a change ;)

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