The Dating Game…


the dating gameI know what you are thinking. How is a guy who has been married for almost 38 years going to give you some advice on dating? Great question. So, instead of thinking of this as advice, refer to it rather as the inner musings of a guy who likes to write and to think and to question things as they exist and consider their veracity. I mean, are you sure you have this dating thing figured out? Can dating be figured out? Are you carrying around unrealistic expectations for that perfect someone, whom I imagine if they exist, have lots of competition for their interest? Or are you just a guy trying to get a girl to love him and the converse, of course.  If you find yourself playing the dating game, are you winning? Is dating even a game you want to win? It’s time to further investigate the dating game together.

When I think back to those early years when I was involved in the universal game of girl chasing, I wasn’t old enough or mature enough or maybe even smart enough to have really thought any of it through, at least not to any great extent. I didn’t have a list of things I wanted in a woman. I hadn’t considered whether or not the person I was looking for had common interests with me. I didn’t entertain a bunch of physical must haves other than wanting to be with someone that I thought was attractive; attractive in the sense of attracting me. And sadly, or maybe happily, that was about it. As a poor college student, I didn’t really have enough dough to plan extravagant dates that would impress my would be future companion. Instead, I found myself looking for someone that seemed like they might be looking for me. Chalk it up to naivety or youth or probably both, but that was about the extent of it. Now, as I reflect back, so many years later, I think I was blessed with not knowing enough or maybe not doubting enough to complicate the whole process. Dating shouldn’t be so damn complicated, should it? At the end of the day, I like you and you like me seems to encompass most important questions.

I believe the problem with dating today is all of the complexity people have added to it. The world and social media and reality shows have succeeded in portraying an image of romantic relationships that are not based in reality. There are so many expectations both obvious and implied that serve only to severely limit the options for the would be ‘dater’ or ‘datee.’ Dating, if your end game is marriage or a lifelong partner, is not trying to find the perfect compliment to yourself, but rather the person who seems to offer the most potential to be that person. People, like anything that has free agency and unlimited capacity for change, are always to be observed in light of their potential. When I got married, long before the internet was invented, my wife married me for my pure potential. I didn’t have it together by any stretch. I didn’t have any money. I chose fun above all responsibility, a trait that persists to this day, though to a much lesser degree. I didn’t have a 5 year plan or 10 year plan or honestly any plans at all. I was a science project in pure potential. Yet somehow, incredulously, she saw something in me that was good and fought for it until something good appeared. Do you see what I’m trying to say? Here we are some 37+ years later, still loving each other; still committed to one another. Early on we made some decisions, trusted God and went for it. That’s not to say we didn’t have any struggles or obstacles, on the contrary. We had lots of things to navigate and still do at times, but the bet we made is still paying off in each new season of life. We are not done growing yet and throughout it all we are growing together.

Maybe you aren’t 21 years old anymore. Maybe you figured out many things you didn’t know when you were so young. Maybe you already have a career and increased expectations for yourself and for your future. That’s wonderful for sure, but don’t let that trick you into adding complexity where no complexity exists. The conundrum of choosing the wrong person and subsequent unhappiness exists for every potential relationship. But, by the same token, sublime happiness and fulfillment are also a possibility. There’s just no guarantee as the variable will always be yourself and that other person. You don’t need someone who is perfect in every way as the measure isn’t where you start, but where you end up. If you are going to pick someone, pick them based on their commitment to you and their willingness to fight through the challenges of life with you. No matter how much like a fairytale your beginning is, the honeymoon will eventually end and you will find yourself with this person who has annoying traits similar to your own annoying traits. You are going to see them both at their best and at their worst. No matter who you choose and how much you vet them out, they are going to be a person, a human being, with all that goes along with that. Relationships aren’t about finding the perfect match, but finding the person willing to adjust and adapt and change themselves, by their own free will,  to better enable a perfect match because they love you.

As I travel back in time, I can honestly say that in the early days, I did not give one iota of thought regarding whether or not my parents or my siblings would like the person I chose. I wasn’t marrying for them, I was marrying for myself. Oh sure, she was super pretty (smile) and still is, but I always figured that the person I loved, they would love also for my sake, if for nothing else. Once, when we were feuding, my mom said she didn’t think my wife was the one for me. Once, (or twice) her mom said the same. Yet, it wasn’t their choice to make, it was ours. Save yourself some difficulty by trusting your own heart, not someone else’s. When it comes to relationships, there will always be something you don’t like. Don’t let that influence your ultimate decision. Doing so adds pressure and presumes something that isn’t a real indicator of anything of substance. I think sometimes people treat dating like a job interview where you try to get a sense of the person’s character, but all you really get is a sense of how well they have learned to present themselves to get something they want. Most job interviews are over minutes after they begin as your energy greets their energy and decisions are made. Dating is like that. It isn’t really how polished they are or whether you can relate to everything they say. It’s more the uncomplicated, I like you, do you like me?

My advice or musings if you prefer, is to get yourself out there and meet people. Have fun, have experiences, go and do the things you like to do. The person you are looking for is looking for you as well. You are trying to find them and they are trying to find you. The reason you haven’t met yet or maybe met and haven’t recognized it yet, is because one of you or both of you are assigning too much analysis to the process. You are overthinking it. You are seeking to apply your rational thought to matters of the heart. You are afraid of it not working out for you which is delaying it from working out for you. I know it seems like a lot is at stake, but really what is at stake is your happiness in the moments called now. And above all, share your love and goodness with people. Love the people you encounter in a day. Open your heart to them when it’s right and extend your kindness to whomever you meet. Be the best version of yourself, not with worldly standards and expectations, but with the love you have inside that you are willing to share with other people. Nothing is as attractive to people as love is and the more you are willing to share it, the more you will receive it in turn. Don’t thwart love with too many expectations, but instead love without condition and see who amazingly shows up. My wife obviously took a chance on me, bless her heart. Why don’t you take a chance as well? You don’t win the dating game, instead you find love to share with someone else. There is nothing sweeter than that… Nothing.

Just some good thoughts…

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Happiness and What You Might Be Doing to Eff’ It Up…


Ahhh happiness, the most talked about feeling in the whole world! Yet, for all that is inked regarding the subject, there is one thing that leads to its discovery and that one thing is you. Is happiness eluding you? Are your happy moments few and far between? Are you only truly happy when the circumstances line up perfectly? Can you even remember the last time you were happy? The answer to the questions is found within your own mind and within your own mind alone… Are you effing up your own happiness?

Happiness, substitute the word blessed if you’re a believer, is such a simple concept and its attainment is always found within your grasp. Life doesn’t make you happy, you make you happy. Favorable circumstances don’t make you happy, you have already decided which circumstances make you happy. Material riches don’t lead to happiness unless you have decided that they do. Happiness is not a mental state to be sought after, but a decision you are making every moment of every day. Even our great God cannot make you happy without your full consent! When you are unhappy, chances are you are doing something in your mind to eff it up.

Why, if happiness is so vitally important to us, would we consciously screw it up? Well, it’s not so much a conscious decision as it is learned behaviors; learned ways of thinking we have unconsciously been programmed to adopt. Something somewhere is ever at work to steal away your happiness. Someone, unscrupulously scheming, behind the scenes, has been tirelessly chipping away at you day after day and night after night. He seeks to define your narratives. He, with help from the world’s media machine, adeptly puts a spin on your perspective. He (or it) falsely outlines which conditions produce happiness and then makes sure you cannot meet those conditions. (You can never meet the conditions because the conditions are always a lie; a false portrayal.) You are not alone in your conundrum because what you are facing is the human condition, absent the truth. You are on a universal journey where how you vote determines the election. If you don’t choose, the choice will be made for you. You eff up your happiness by allowing something or someone else to dictate the conditions!

Happiness is always very personal in nature. What leads to your happiness won’t necessarily lead to my happiness, though the mechanics of being happy are the same. The world; the systems of the world will always lead you down the rabbit hole. You end up chasing not what makes you happy, but what someone else says will make you happy. The amount of money you need to be happy will always be a little more than what you have. Instead of finding happiness in your relationship, there will always be something missing; something you wish you had; some trait you find less than perfect; something that informs you that you don’t get to be happy yet. You can apply this formula in finding happiness to every aspect of your life. Notice carefully how there will always be some condition that isn’t quite fulfilled; some destination to get to; some missing piece, which craftily informs your mind that you are not allowed to be happy yet! Please read that sentence again! You are waiting to be happy. You are waiting for conditions to line up. You are waiting for something that finally gives you permission to be happy. But, the only one impeding your happiness is you…waiting. You’re effing up your own happiness by waiting for something else to produce it for you.

When it comes to happiness, it is something you must decide for yourself. Decide to be happy now, not just on the weekend. Decide to be happy at work. Decide to be happy in your relationship and behave as someone who is happy. Stop waiting for the future when conditions are right and you have everything you ever wanted. Look, you may one day have everything you ever wanted, but a lot of living will have transpired in the interim while you were waiting. Happiness in life is found in the journey, not the destination. Happiness is found not absent any challenges, but in overcoming the challenges. Happiness comes from controlling your thinking and refusing everything that confronts or challenges that happiness. Stop measuring yourself against impossible standards and enjoy your life. You are what you are today, the good and the bad, so you may as well make peace with yourself and live. Each day time slips away and your opportunities for happiness diminish as your time on Earth diminishes. Cherish what you have and where you are today. Hug your children. Spoil your grandkids. Kiss your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend. Love the unlovable and help the folks who need the most help. Give your life your all with no holdbacks! Life is a treasure with happiness infused in the creation, if you are willing to see it! You may just be effing up your happiness by what you are refusing to see…

God, the source of all possible love and goodness, created human life with one grand intention, that His children would be happy. (If you’re a parent, you know how that feels!) So let Him show you what life and happiness is all about. You were not designed to figure everything out on your own! You were not built to pack around a world of worries and cares. It was never intended that you try to do life by your own human logic. Instead you were made to live with Him as your Daddy, casting all your problems on to Him. Then, after having done that, relax and enjoy your life! Allow yourself to be happy today and just trust Him to take care of everything in between. Allow yourself to be happy, today, right effin now!

Don’t eff it up! (smile) I love you…

Just some good thoughts…

The Great Balancing Act


live-unbalanced-1080x670There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Every want and every desire carries within itself the potential to turn into an obsession. The discipline that checks can devolve into cruelty. Adherence to rules and standards can lead to peace but also to the bondage of servitude. In order to live successfully and enjoy the ride, you have to learn to find the balance.

It seems God rewards common sense. Intuitively we know when we are out of harmony with ourselves. We know that what starts good doesn’t always end well. We can exercise the muscle and damage the joint. As we traverse through the thrilling peaks of life, we know we cannot sustain them and soon fall headlong into the valleys. What blesses us most is the level ground, the flattened hills, the filled in depressions, the balance. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Yet excitement and enjoyment only, like the delusion of drugs, leads ever to some future collapse. Exhilaration must be followed by some settling or else your heart blows up. But if nothing ever spikes your heart you may as well be dead. You have to occupy the middle territory.

It seems God made the world a metaphor for proper thought. All around us nature teaches us balance as abundant foliage in the summer drops off in the fall to make way for the spring.  Holes soon fill in and high spots eventually get smoothed out. The tide rolls out and rolls back in again. The enjoyments of life follow the struggles and without the struggles there is no satisfaction. Every weekend is preceded by its weekdays. Waking and sleeping, working and playing, accepting and rejecting, all choosing, all deciding part of one and part of another resulting in a balance. And life, it appears, offers itself to the one willing to seek until eventually located, only to be required again later on.

It seems God has designed our bodies and our minds to require a balance and if not indulged, though working out of balance for extended periods, eventually breaks down and wears out forcing its owner to stop until the balance returns. If you have too much going on and you are working too long and too hard, at some juncture the machinery fails and a short bout with illness or some other malady forces you to reconsider. You can drive yourself to extremes in acquiring great wealth yet have no-one left to enjoy it with because the journey drove them all away. You can have so many resources that you can live in perpetual play, until your play turns into a drug addiction or obsession or any unhealthy overindulgence in something fun. Your vessel was designed for equilibrium.

It seems God endorses moderation. The developed world is consumed with the symbols of youth, with the top of the chart being physical fitness disguised as leanness, code for being thin! The trouble being that generally the thin ones are also the youngsters. The older you get, the heavier you get, the less desirable you become. It is the “thin culture.” Enter a vast population of people virtually starving themselves to achieve some artificial level of fitness reserved for people whose full-time job is fitness. That’s not to say there is something wrong with fitness, but when the fitness exceeds logic and good sense or is so extreme that it requires a fourth of your waking hours, it is functioning as a compensation for something else. Every diet craze is solved by the watchword – moderation. Perpetual dieting, the bane of rational activity, always requires a period of deprivation followed by a period of bingeing on everything forbidden during the deprivation phase. The question isn’t how thin you are, the question is what are you really after with your thinness? You can enjoy all things in moderation, which is more of a mindset than a restriction. Level your mindsets…

The great balancing act of life is more about you being in control than any other factor in a life of a million variables. You, being the boss of your own butt, decide just how much time and energy you will give to a thing. If the effort required overwhelms you, it is likely too much. If the effort required is barely noticeable, it is probably too little. Continuing to work at your job long after you have left for the evening may get lots of work done, but it will work you over in the process. Your enthusiasm and commitment may be rewarded until you slip a little and find out rather harshly that you are in fact replaceable if the need so requires it. Working hard certainly isn’t the issue but rather why you are doing what you are doing and whether you are controlling it or “it” is controlling you. The balance of life is found in control.

In the profound humanity of our existence, we all find ourselves pushed and pulled to one extreme or the other. We all traverse mountains and then fall into our self-made valleys. We all like our likes too much and discover ourselves controlled by something we used to control and enjoy. It is part of our human condition and all of the emotions and joy and disappointment and sadness that goes along with it. Yet, our humanity is one of the best things about us. We feel and thus we act. And in our honest feelings we make fine tuned decisions and subtle adjustments ever seeking that which makes us feel the best about ourselves. The built-in balance mechanism a gift from God.

The question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel?” If you feel out of balance, rushed and harried, you are, so honor your feelings and make the change. This isn’t a decision other people make for you, it is a decision you make for yourself. It’s your life my friend, so pursue the balance only you can demand for yourself and enjoy your ride. It’s not being egotistical. It’s being responsible.

Just some good thoughts…