Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You Heard It Here First - Book Giveaway

Exciting news!! 
Your bloggy friend and mine, Erin Annie, has poured her heart out on paper (a keyboard really, but you get the idea) and has self-published A BOOK.

Here's the official synopsis from You Heard It Here First: 
One day a financial blogger, the next, a TV expert on a political scandal. Haley McAdams' on-air epiphanies and liberated writing style, have landed some powerful men in hot water and there are consequences to pay.
That's an exciting start - but there's even more to it than that. It's part romance, part political thriller and 100% engaging. 

What I love about this story is the heroine, Haley McAdams, because I can relate to her. She's a hard worker, she's taken her hits - plenty of them - dusted herself off and sets her mind on doing what it takes to do more than just get by. Like me, she knows there's no point in dreaming of prince charming to sweep in and take care of a lady. But that doesn't mean it can't happen. ;-)

This book is the sort of story you'll be happy to share with your niece, your mom, your aunt - you won't be bashful about passing it on because Erin Annie didn't cave into the pressure of the standard secular storyline that demands a sex-filled climax and conclusion (pun intended!) 

Instead, she developed her characters, allowed them to have conversations that address the things that most authors skip over - the sorts of things real people MUST discuss. In particular, how does an adult couple negotiate a chaste relationship?  It happens. In my life, it tries to happen and fails. Can it work if Haley finds the perfect man? 

You know what else stands out in this story? Haley has parents. And relatives. And dear friends who weigh in on her life, influence her decisions - just like real people with real relationships. Haley lives by her principals and has people who hold her accountable.
There's more to the story than getting the guy. 
There is drama and intrigue in a well-told story that caused me to while away more than one beautiful, sunny day because I couldn't tear myself away. 

Oh. Maybe I should shut up and let you read it yourself. 

You Heard It Here First, is now available on Kindle and Nook! 
(Paperbacks won't be available for a month!)
For a limited time you can buy it for just 99 cents on either Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Once the paperbacks are available, the price will go up to a more realistic retail price. Buy it now for a steal!!
Or better yet, how would you like to win it?
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh yes! Comment below, and then say that you did on the Rafflecopter link. Get two more entries by following Erin Annie on Twitter. 
Let's see... why don't we give it a full week... for everyone to enter and I'll announce the winner next Wednesday. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Advice on Both Sides

I've been reading advice and etiquette columns since I was eight years old.
There wasn't much to read in our local newspaper, and the advice columns were right there next to the funnies.
As an adolescent, I thought this was a good way to avoid making stupid mistakes as I navigated my own way through life.  To be sure, I've never taken up with a man who abandoned his kids and cheated on his wife. No drug problems or other addictions. I consider that a success!

I still love advice columns. I read almost all of them.

Last week, there a was a letter from a woman in her 30s who was concerned that her enthusiasm for marriage, might be scaring off her dates. She explained that while she's not sharing this obsession with them, she fears that they're picking up on it. and turning on their tails as a result.
Sorry, I can't find the link back... I read so many of these columns, I can't trace my rabbit hole path.

But in the comments section, after the advice... people who don't even know the letter writer, started pouncing on her - urging her not to be so pathetic (sound familiar?) To give up the idea of marriage and to stop sharing her silly dream on the first date.
Now, doesn't that sound like the Telephone Game that teachers employed in school to teach us a lesson? Where did she say that she shared these fantasies with her dates? It didn't. Where did she say she was dumping anything on them on the first date? She didn't.

It sounded to me like she's simply afraid her enthusiasm is noticeable and scaring off men. I think we all worry about that to some degree.

The comments that bugged me most though, were those that advised, less than politely, that she should focus on doing the things she loves... getting out and being active and then someone will love her involved,  fulfilled self.
Yeah it's good advice. But what happens when it doesn't work?
I've had plenty of people give me the same advice, whether they know me or not - whether or not they know what I've been doing with my life for the past 20 years.

Let me tell you something, I rocked my 20s.  I had a high profile job, I was in great shape and I was out doing things I enjoyed. The men I dated at the time were divided into two types; the devout Christians (not Catholics) who were a bit overwhelmed by my enthusiasm for intimacy (not that we went too far, but I guess I was still too big of a challenge to their chastity), and completely secular guys who couldn't believe I wasn't dying to sleep with them even though they had no plans for commitment.
When I reached the end of my 20s surprised that I was single, everyone told me that it must be men are intimated by me - with my great, highly visible career, and the fact that I was in awesome physical shape. I didn't really believe them, but figured there was a nugget of truth - and it was easier to believe that than to think that I wasn't appealing.

In my 30s, I suffered through one layoff that hit at my self-esteem, then I moved to another state for a job which wasn't exactly in my chosen profession - and I didn't feel good about having to explain what I was doing for work, because it wasn't the impressive high-profile gig I'd had in the past.  It messed with my identity, but I still threw myself into my community, volunteering, exercising, roller-blading around the see-and-be-seen park at least three times a week.  I was dating a lot.  I actually met a couple guys while rollerblading. Still single, and people still telling me that I was just so great, men still found me intimidating.

So as I approached my 40s, I thought that if I was just too intimidating for all these men maybe I just have to tone it down.  I saw that the fact that I could take care of myself, provide for myself, buy my own home -  was probably not attractive to men who feel like they should be able to provide for a woman. Actually, I wanted to attract those kinds of guys... because all I was meeting was guys who wanted strings-free sex and certainly weren't looking for marriage.
Then I went through a couple more bouts of unemployment - which wasn't easy - but I figured maybe the fact that I was more vulnerable would cut down on my intimidation factor. Even so, I was still self-sufficient (unless you count earning unemployment benefits as being dependent - but I earned those too, so...)

In short... I've been on both sides of independence. I've been on both sides of awesome. Both sides of doing my own thing.
So when strangers and people who don't really have an investment in my well-being tell me to just be more awesome and enjoy myself, and the right man will come along -- I have to resist the urge to kick them in the shins.  I was awesome.  I AM awesome. It doesn't work.  God wants more of me, and I don't know what to give Him. And I don't know why I have to give more than all the people around me.

I'm just saying, if this is the advice you're giving single women, reconsider saying it aloud. Unless you know for a fact that she's been sitting on the couch for the past 38 years waiting for a man to drop through her ceiling, just shut up. You're not helping.
If you really want to help, go poll some single men about their thoughts on independent women. That might help.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life Unexpected

The reason I started this blog was to give a voice to the forgotten single woman.
As I settled into my 30s, not married, I began to see how I didn't fit in.

Look at my early posts, even joining my church congregation for donuts after mass left me standing alone - women my age had children and only spoke to other moms. The men couldn't talk to me because their wives might give them the hairy eyeball. Older men and women also had kids, and conversations about summer activities or Christmas plans centered around their children. As they shared anecdotes, I would offer my experiences as a child and then I'd get the hairy eyeball -- because they had the impression that I was making it about me, when really, I was offering the childhood experience I knew of and it happened to be 30 years ago.  I've never seen the joy and anticipation on my own child's face on Christmas morning. Give me a fricken break!

Then my own friends were getting married and having babies and they typically fall off the radar for a while.

Those that didn't get married, struggled with dating like me.  But eventually they'd move in with their boyfriend and wonder why I'm not getting past the third date - expected-sex-with-someone-you-don't-even-know -gauntlet.

All the while, I've felt I could relate to what's going on in other people's lives, or I would at least try to.  Lend a sympathetic ear. Offer to help with their kids. Show up at a loved one's funeral.  But it seems no one can return the favor.

The other night I was out with a group of people from my church.  A handful of married couples, and a handful of single women, one single man. As stories were exchanged, there was laughter and smiling and continued conversation.  But when a single person shared a life story, everyone seemed uncomfortable. There would be a lull until a married spoke again.

One of the other single ladies and I, got on a tangent of online dating and the plague of men's shirtless, bathroom mirror self-portraits!  For the love of God - why?! we exclaimed, laughing.  The marrieds looked horrified, asked what we were talking about, and once they were enlightened, quickly changed the subject.  Oh my. That's uncomfortable, let's talk about pleasant things.  Oh how they're glad they married years ago and avoided all that horror.  Well, lucky you. So much for relating to us.  The reality of my life is unpleasant. I guess we'll talk about your kitchen remodel instead.

The blessing of this blog has been feedback from women like me, a lot like me or just a little like me - who relate to the same struggles.  The life alone. The challenges of dating. The frequent disappoint in dates or in others who just don't know what to do with us.

So no, it's not about sunshine and unicorns all the time. But this is life.  Life unexpected.

I never expected to have to introduce myself to so many strangers, and tell my story to hundreds of men who were going to do nothing with it. Oh how draining!
Over time, you figure out what to share and what to leave out.  And then again, you learn that the nugget you should have left out for one man, might have been the nugget that makes the difference for another.  Maybe you should have told him.  Now you second guess yourself.  That's when dating becomes a chore and I'll be honest - I don't even know what to say anymore. All this dating has made me socially awkward.  What is worth sharing with the next person?

If I haven't sounded happy and blissful all the time, try to keep in mind that I dealt with three of the past six years unemployed and another year underemployed. You don't know stress until you have lived that.  Remember too, I had no support system. My parents were in another state, with hardly a clue of what my struggles were. My friends here thought I was living a life of relaxation, not going to work! People at church must have thought I had a trust fund or wealthy family supporting me, because they offered not one word of encouragement through that terrible struggle.

In that same time period, I went through two messy breakups with the one man I thought I would marry.
Just when I thought I had everything rolling in place, a good full time job, dating again.... my dad died.

So yeah, for a long time I had no good news to share. People don't like that. They stop calling. Rather than try to encourage that person, most will avoid them.  Resulting in even less good news to share.

Someone with a support system might have an easier time of it. But because so few people in my life relate to me, to my experiences, to my situation and struggles - I feel even more alone.  That has been a great mystery to me, that people who are never married can relate to married people's problems.... but the whole world started out single, yet the minute they're married they can't relate to single's problems. Mystifying.

The worst thing I did, I think, was to lose my blogging groove. There have been really supportive, fun, encouraging women here  - even more when I was blogging regularly. Over time, I imagine my story became less fun to follow.  I am sorry for that, but one of the most precious moments in my life was seeing all the comments and support from my bloggy friends when my dad died a year ago. I can't thank you all enough for that.

But the one thing I have done here is share honestly. Hopefully I've shined a light on the dark side of what many women go through ... so that when you see someone else go through it, you're inspired to show up and to hold her and to love her through it.

That is what my bloggy world has done for me.  The best of you have been here to lift me through it.
Thank you.