Interdependent, not independent

If you’ve not heard the word interdependent before, rest assured that you’ve been doing it since you were born.  Interdependent simply means that we depend on each other.  Now I’ll be the first gal to say that we should be self-sufficient.  We should be able to change our own tires (or at least call the automobile club), take care of yourself while ill, and organize like a ninja with OCD.  We should not, however, have to do all of it without any support.

There are two steps to becoming interdependent:

  1. Get over yourself;
  2. Surround yourself with the right people.

The key to getting over yourself is perspective.  While life can be serious business, nothing should be that dire.  When faced with a stressful situation, ask yourself how things will look in a few minutes, in a few weeks, and in a few years.  Base your decisions on that information, not how you’re feeling at this exact second.

Then take a look at the people in your life.  Kick out the frenemies (trust me, they’ll never get better).  To the people you can’t kick out (e.g. family), have a talk with them about being supportive or realize that you can’t rely on them for the type of support that you need.  When picking new people, pick quality people.  Do not just let anyone be in your life.  If they’re not on your team, kick ’em out!  You can do better.

Now that you have your support system in place, use it properly.  Rely on it when you need help and make sure that you’re reciprocating in kind.

The myth of the independent woman and why they’re never called independent men

Oh put your pitchforks down, ladies!  I’m not working for the opposition.  In fact, quite the opposite.  We have been sold a bill of goods that, in order to be real women, we must be independent women.

The dictionary defines independent as, amongst other things, not relying on another or others for aid or support.  So in order to be an authentic female, we must rely on no one else for anything; we must learn everything, say everything, do everything without the help of another person.  This is utter hogwash and impossible to accomplish.

So why does this concept persist?  The sad thing to say is, we all feed into it.  We feel like it’s the gold standard and anything less than perfection is letting down ourselves and our sisters.

You have to ask yourself why have you never heard the term “independent man”?  It’s because they’ve already figured it out.  Notwithstanding a few cliches (e.g., asking for directions), men are not afraid that getting help will rob them of their autonomy.

It’s time for us to drop the act and learn to be interdependent, not independent, but that my lovelies, is another blog.

How to pack for a trip

Ladies, we have all committed the sin of over-packing for a trip.  There is an easier way to be covered for all circumstances without it resulting in heavy luggage and excess laundry.  Here’s how:

  1. Take a realistic look at where you’re going and the type of trip you’re taking.  You will not pack the same clothes for a business trip as you would for a vacation although some clothing choices will overlap.  Do not pack for activities you can not guarantee you’ll be engaging in (I’m looking at you disco-ball-club-outfit on your job interview weekend).
  2. This is not the time to experiment or wear something new (especially shoes). Wearing what you have may seem boring but hey, no-one at your destination has seen you in it.
  3. Hopefully you have developed your signature style and you’ve built your wardrobe around a neutral color.  Your suitcase will be a mini-version of your wardrobe.
  4. Wardrobe staples (dark jeans, dress pants, crisp white blouses) and solid colors combined with unique accessories (scarves, bangles, necklaces) will allow you to mix-and-match to come up with new combinations.  Keep the shoes and belts simple and to a minimum.  If needed, try on outfits ahead of time and take photos so that you’ll know what to pack and how to combine it at your destination.
  5. Pick clothing that will perform double-duty, like that cute suit jacket that can be paired with jeans for warmth and class on a night out.
  6. Choose fabrics (silk, rayon, etc.) that will dry overnight if you have to wash them in the sink overnight.  Bring two plastic hangars with clips on them to hang on the shower rod.
  7. Lay out and match up your clothes before packing.  Roll your clothes (in tissue paper if you don’t have an environmental objection to it) and pack in cubes (preferably ones that hold their shape rather than being crushed in the suitcase).
  8. Pack in a sensible order, keeping outfits together, and putting what you’ll need first on top.  Unpack when you arrive and iron anything that needs to be ironed immediately.
  9. Always pack anything that can leak in a zippered plastic bag.  In fact, pack several clean, spare bags in your suitcase for anything from new perfume to wet swimsuits.  Check the hotel website to see what amenities they offer (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hairdryer) so that you know what you don’t need to include in your packing.
  10. If you don’t want to dirty your cubes or the inside of your suitcase, bring plastic bags for packing your dirty laundry and your shoes in.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for packing?  Please leave them in the comments.

Casual Friday and then some

Stroll into any public place and you will see an amazing number of poorly-dressed people.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dressing comfortably (where appropriate) but lately we seem to have become a nation of slobs.

So before you think that those pajama bottoms and that stained “nice rack” tee are appropriate for meeting your friends for coffee, consider how you’re being portrayed to the people around you.  Is that what you want them to think of you?  What if one of them was a potential boyfriend/employer/client?

What reaction are you going for?  Sort through your clothing and start building yourself a wardrobe around the impression that you want to be projecting.  Then learn to take care of what you have so that you’re not making a clothing compromise at the last minute.

I’m not saying that you need to become a fashionista or that you should be overly concerned about what others think of you.  However, if you’re searching for career advancement or a significant other, how you present yourself will hold a lot of sway over the other party and you never know when that opportunity might be showing up.

Omg, I’m turning into my mother!

At some point in your life, words will fly out of your mouth and you will come to the conclusion that you’re turning into your mother.  Even if you love your mother dearly, this isn’t something that you’re looking forward to.

The good news is, you’ve recognized what is happening so you can start to shape it before it shapes you.  Take a good, long look at your mother and how she has influenced your life both for the good and the bad (you may not be perfect, mom, but we love you).  Decide what you would like to keep and what you would like to pass you by. Start cultivating the good parts and correcting the bad – this will require actual work on your part!

Everyone is defined by their experiences but we are not held hostage by them.  You have the power to determine your future.

Home is where the heart is

Ahhh, your new place.  Home, sweet home…but how do you create a home out of the remnants of your old life?

First, unpack everything.  It’s ridiculous to live with your stuff in boxes, hidden from sight.  Either live with your stuff or get rid of it.  Unless you know that you’re only going to be someplace for a few months, do not put stuff into storage.  Personal storage has a strange way of turning into an expensive black hole.

Look at everything you have.  What do you like?  What do you hate?  What will do for the moment?  Obviously, keep everything you like – even if it doesn’t “make sense” with the overall decor.  It makes you happy, it stays.  Toss anything you hate – yes, even if it’s your only sofa.  If you hate it and it only holds bad memories, it has no place in your new life.  If what you hate will need to be replaced, figure out when you’ll be able to afford a new one and give the old one an expiration date.  If something will do for the moment, try to figure out how to make it work.  Throw a cover over it, paint it, or re-purpose it.  The internet is filled with sites to teach you how to be crafty.

Put your stamp on the place.  Don’t paint the walls if it will anger the landlord but feel free to use the rooms as you see fit.  If you never plan to have someone over for dinner, don’t be afraid to put your computer on the dining room table or even drag it into your living room to use as a big desk.  Put a shoe rack near the front door if you go barefoot in the house.  Place the coffee maker in the cabinet if you don’t use it every day.  It’s your house, use it how you see fit, now how you feel that you’re supposed to arrange it.

Throw yourself a house-warming party.  Celebrate the fact that you’re home.

Direct from my desk – week 44

My dear readers,

I started this blog with the intent of writing a daily, year-long blog on relationship-issues.  For those of you who have come along on this journey with me, I am truly grateful.  I have compulsively watched my statistics, I have responded thoughtfully (I hope!) to your comments, and I have visited your blogs in return.  In this blogosphere, you are my friends.

I find myself within sight of my goal and I have increasingly been asking myself, “what now?”  Where do I go with this blog?  Having reached my goal, do I consider the challenge met and delete the blog as though it never existed?  Do I leave it up for perhaps future readers to find?  Do I attempt to continue to write daily despite fears regarding quality?  Do I write occasionally when the mood strikes me although that may lead to a loss of momentum?  Do I respond only when someone writes to me for advice (confession:  of the handful of persons who have written to me directly, only one did not request a private, non-blog answer)?

So I will leave it to you, my dear readers, what would you like to see and how often would you like to see it?  Are there topics I haven’t touched on that you would like to see covered?  My future is in your hands and I await your responses with bated breath.

Your man wasn’t stolen, your self-worth was

When you’ve been cheated on, it’s easy to think that your man was stolen.  The truth is, a man cannot be stolen – he’s an adult capable of making his own decisions.  What was stolen was your self-worth and it was collateral damage.

How can you rebound from this?

  1. Step back from the situation and look at it critically.
  2. Acknowledge and own your part in what happened.
  3. Talk things over with a counselor or trusted, non-judgmental friend.
  4. Keep a journal.
  5. Work out your anger at the gym.
  6. Present yourself well (dress, hair, make-up, etc.).
  7. Focus on your strengths.
  8. Set goals with the specific intent of giving yourself successes to build on.
  9. Expect set-backs and develop a Plan B to handle them.
  10. Life is not a dress-rehearsal, make sure you’re truly living.

Direct from my desk – week 40

Come closer and I’ll tell you a secret about how men pick the woman they want to be in a relationship with.  It’s not about how beautiful she is (that’s the woman he wants to date).  It’s the girl not with the slammin’ body (that’s the woman he wants to sleep with).  It’s not anything to do with performing tricks in the bedroom, bombarding him with phone calls, or any other external factor.

A man chooses the woman who makes him feel good about himself.

If there is a man you find interesting, find out what he values about himself (and what he believes his weak points are) and give sincere appreciation for the person that he is.  One well-placed compliment is worth more than one hundred hollow attempts at flattery.  Realize that any attempt to change him will be perceived as a shortcoming on his part.  He may change for you but he may also resent you for it.  Value who he is and what he brings to the table.  If you can’t do that, you might not be with the right guy.

Direct from my desk – week 39

Earlier this week I was having dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to my blog, specifically the Spank the monkey post.  After a brief discussion where I assured one specific friend that I was not writing an x-rated blog, I mentioned that some women feel that masturbation is cheating on the relationship.  His response was an incredulous, “They do??”

Ladies – we must have the courage to start some uncomfortable conversations.  Maybe we’re shy or can’t find the right time.  Many times we prefer to not rock the boat.  Or we believe that our significant other will magically be able to read our minds.  None of these excuses are going to get you and your partner where you need to be.

Part of the bedrock of a solid relationship is active communication.  Learning to communicate is not easy but marshal your resources – read books, take classes, practice with your loved ones.  You can do this, I have faith in you.