Archive | June 2012

adventures in dating (or it’s never too late to find your soul mate)

cardinals and a blue jay for bird watching

My clients are delightful.  My favorite client this week was Meredith.  She makes seventy look impossibly young.  In the middle of our real estate closing, she told me that after being alone for nineteen years, she’s met someone.

My favorite stories are about how couples find each other.  Meredith lives in Sun City, which is an active living community for people who are over fifty-five.  Widow women run amok in Sun City.  Single men (and their waist lines) barely stand a chance.  It’s really quite cutthroat.  I thought I knew how Meredith’s story would go, but I was wrong.

Meredith divorced nineteen years ago. She has two grown sons.  After her divorce, she became a career woman, an outside sales rep.  Between her career, her art and frugal living, she did just fine.  She did not need a man to take care of her or to support her. 

She was always open to dating.  She picked a church that was known for it’s large singles ministry.  But nobody ever came along who really tickled her fancy.

Last year, she got to the point where she would rather stick a hot poker in her eye than go on another blind date.  She made that point abundantly clear to her friends.

One of Meredith’s friends from church went on a blind date.  Joe seemed very nice, but too old for her.  She told Meredith that the entire date she just kept thinking he’d be perfect for Meredith.

Meredith conceded to trying one more time.  She and Joe went to lunch and he really did seem as nice as Meredith’s friend promised.

Joe’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer when their boys were little.  Because of her illness, he primarily raised the boys.  After her death in 2002, he sold the family home and followed his youngest, single son around the country.  They were companions.  They went to amusement parks and traveled.  Until the son met a woman two years ago and got married.

Meredith and Joe’s second lunch date was the Friday before Valentine’s Day.  Joe showed up with a dozen roses.  Meredith decided she’d found a keeper.

Joe told Meredith he knew she wasn’t the type of woman to call a man.  But if she found something interesting, please call him.  After being married for years to a man who really didn’t want to do much of anything with her, it was a delight to find a man who said he’d do anything except the opera and chamber music.

Soon, Meredith and Joe were scheduled to attend a birding event together.  Joe was on his way out of town, so he asked Meredith to get the tickets.  He’d call when he got back into town.

As time got closer to the event, Meredith hadn’t heard from Joe so she called him.  He assured her they were still on.  She suggested that if he had binoculars and rubber boots, that would be good.  They’d be slogging through the marsh looking for birds.

Joe called the day of the event.  He couldn’t find his binoculars or his rubber boots, so maybe it’d be best if she just went without him.

Meredith took it in stride, found a neighbor to take his place and had a great time.

Within two weeks of their Valentine’s weekend lunch, Joe informed Meredith that he couldn’t see her anymore because he was in a committed relationship with someone else.

Meredith thought that was that, and went back to her previous premise that she was done with blind dates.  She has her artwork, her children and grandchildren, and her friends.  She is frugal with her money and doesn’t need a man to complete her or to take care of her.

Flash forward to December.  Meredith’s phone rang and the caller ID displayed Joe’s  name.

Meredith thought to herself, “That turkey.”

Joe wanted to take Meredith out again.  She rather aloofly let him know she was leaving the next day to spend Christmas with her children in Atlanta.  He said that was fine and asked when would she be back.

He called while she was still on the road heading back from Atlanta.  She had a holiday open house to attend, and because she hates going to those things alone, she invited him to go with her.  Her friends loved him.

They have been inseparable December.  They’ve gone kayaking.  He’s teaching her to golf.  They got their fishing licenses.  Her grandson adores him.  He’s been good to his word about doing anything, as long as it isn’t opera or chamber music.

Joe tells her God brought them together.  Meredith tells him he’s lucky God gives second chances just like she did after he dumped her.  Joe asks her if she’s ever going to stop reminding him about that.  Meredith assures him she probably won’t.

I love their story.  It reminds me it’s never too late to find your soul mate.

Meredith reminds me of myself.   We’ve surrounded ourselves with good friends.  Found activities we love.  Our lives aren’t dependent on finding a man to complete us.

But if the right man shows up, if our soul mate appears on the horizon, we are both ready to welcome him into our lives, our hearts, our homes.

Meredith’s story delights me and gives me hope.

Question:  How long did it take you to find your soul mate?  Or, like me, are you still looking?

adventures in dating (or is it too late yet?)

elderly couple in love

I met the cutest couple recently.  George found Faye in the receiving line at an engagement party.   Faye’s engagement party.

When it was George’s turn to lean in and kiss the prospective bride, he whispered in Faye’s ear, “Is it too late yet?”

As soon as she was done with her duties in the receiving line, Faye pulled her mother into the kitchen.  After discussing how expensive the engagement party was, Faye’s mother encouraged her to wait a little while before breaking up with John.  The fiancé.

Faye waited two weeks before calling George.  First he asked her to dinner that evening.  Then at dinner he asked her to marry him.

That was fifty-eight years ago.  Faye is still as beautiful at eighty as she was at twenty-two.  George is still as tall and handsome at eighty-two.  He still has a hint of the once-dark, curly hair that caught Faye’s eyes.

John, the ex-fiancé, ended up being married five times.  Faye tells me he was too serious.  Not very much fun to be around.

George, on the other hand, has quite the sense of humor.  Every time George made me giggle, Faye leaned over and whispered in my ear, “See why I said yes?”

I agreed with her that he was quite a catch.  There’s something about a man who can still make you giggle like a schoolgirl after fifty-eight years.  Something priceless.

Imagine how nice it must be at eighty to look back on your life and know, without a doubt, that you made the right choice.  You spent your life with your soul mate, who showed up just in the nick of time to rescue you from a lifetime with the wrong man.

I wonder where my George is.  If he’s still looking for me.  Wondering where I’ve gotten off to.

He’ll find me, sooner or later.  When he does, he’ll make me giggle like a schoolgirl.  The way George still makes Faye giggle, all these years later.

When he finds me, I hope I’m as brave as Faye.  I hope I embrace what he offers with open arms and all the optimism in my soul.  I hope.

Question:  Have you met your Faye or George yet?  How did you know?

adventures in dating (or dating is like panning for gold)

Woman panning for gold

Dating is a lot like prospecting for gold.  You have to have the right equipment.  You spend a lot of time sifting through sand and muck to find a few pieces of gold.  Then you have to sort through the flecks still in the pan to see if it is real gold or just fool’s gold.

I’ve been doing a lot of prospecting since my divorce.  I’ve signed up on dating websites. I’ve let my friends and acquaintances know I’m single and available.

I spend a few hours a week sifting through emails and profile pages, the sand and muck of dating.

I sift through looking for the men who are real gold.  I spend time emailing them before giving them my cell phone number.  Texts and phone calls are dating precursors.  Shaking, always shaking the pan, sifting out the sand and muck.

Then there are the dates with the men who seem like potential gold. But are they real gold, or just fool’s gold?

Nugget of fool's gold

fool’s gold

The problem with fool’s gold is that it looks a lot like gold.  More than one prospector has been embarrassed thinking they’d found real gold when they really just had a big chunk of fool’s gold.  Every dater knows that feeling, too.  You think you’ve found someone golden, only to realize that they’re just fool’s gold.

So, what’s a dater to do?  The first thing you do when you find a nugget is smell it.  Real gold has no smell.  Fool’s gold smells like sulfur.  Trust your senses when you are prospecting for men, too.  If you spend enough time with them, your senses will know the difference between the real men and the fool’s gold.

The second test every prospector knows is to check the malleability of the nugget.  If you bite it, and it leaves teeth marks, it’s real gold.  Fool’s gold is brittle, but real gold is easily indented.   So, go ahead and give it a little nibble to see if it’s real gold or fool’s gold. 

I’m enjoying the nibbling right now.  Enjoying the process of figuring out who is fool’s gold and who is real gold.  Most people will show you pretty quickly which kind of gold they are.

Believe people when they tell you who they are.  If someone admits to being fool’s gold, no matter how much they look like real gold, believe them.  Nobody lies about being fool’s gold.

Question:  How do you separate the fool’s gold from the real gold in your love life?

my year of balance (or Regina Mae falls down a hill)

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced 

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Twenty twelve is my year of balance.  At least it was until this past week. Seven months after my last fall, I fell again this weekend.

I wish, like Elizabeth Gilbert, I could say that I lost balance for love.  I don’t love any of the men I’ve dated this year.  None of them since Coach, anyway.

I enjoy spending time with them.  Listening to Tri-Guy tell me about his latest triathlon, which in retrospect may be me.  (Three dates and crickets chirping sounds a little like a triathlon, doesn’t it?)

I enjoy the peaceful, easy feeling I get sitting on the back patio, listening to Lady Antebellum sing, watching the sun set over the back fence, while Nature Boy tells me about his day.  I’ve never spent time with anyone who makes me feel that relaxed.  I don’t know how our story ends.  But I know it isn’t finished yet.

The other guys range from eh to nice but none of them rise to the level of love.

So, if it isn’t love that’s making me lose my balance, what is?

The feast or famine business I’m in?  I’m happy to be in the feast phase still.  Happy and tired from working too many hours the last three months. Business is definitely a frontrunner of my balance-stealing suspects.

Stress and Anxiety are running amok like evil twins.  Silent ninjas stealing my equilibrium.   I stood in the woods at the National Whitewater Center Saturday.  Instead of enjoying the peaceful feeling I normally experience surrounded by nature, all I felt was tight-chested anxiety.  I worried so much about falling down the hill, I didn’t enjoy the walk to the river.  Worried so much, I fell right as I got to the bottom of the hill.

I’ve been worried about my balance all week.  Worried about being too tired, too stressed, too anxious.  When I ended up flat on my butt, I wasn’t even surprised.  I didn’t spend any time trying to figure out how I fell.  The how isn’t relevant.  Balance is everything.  I just worked on getting back on my feet and cleaning up the aftermath.

Too much work, too many men, too much to do.  No wonder I went ass over teakettle again.

Time to pull back.  Find more help for the office.  Spend some time running, practicing yoga, meditating.  Sleeping.  Maybe putting some of the men on the back-burner.  Maybe all of them.

Or maybe not.

Question:  What do you do when you lose your balance?  Where do you find it?

is it time to cut your anchor yet?

My friend, Chris, is a fisherman.  The kind of fisherman people pay to take them deep-sea fishing.  The kind who enters tournaments and gets paid to fish.

deep sea fishing boat

A few days ago, he was out with a group.  It was a stormy, windy day with rough, choppy seas.  The kind of day only tourists and fanatics will tolerate.

They dropped anchor for a while, as fisherman are wont to do.  When it was time to head home, the anchor got hung up on something on the ocean floor.

When the ocean is rough and your anchor gets caught on something, it can capsize the boat.  Drown you and your passengers.

After trying to get the anchor loose, Chris did the only thing he could do.  He cut the rope and left the anchor on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Chris tied a buoy to the line before leaving it.  When he went fishing again a few days later, the buoy led him right to his anchor.  He pulled the formerly recalcitrant anchor up out of the water and brought it back onboard.

Life is a lot like that anchor.  We get hung up on expectations of how our life is supposed to be.  Or an idea of how someone should think or behave.

The more we fight against the pull of our expectations, the more likely we are to capsize.

Sometimes we have to cut the rope on the anchor of our expectations.  The marriage we thought we had.  The career we worked to achieve.  The life which turned out not to be the life we thought we were getting.

The very act of cutting our expectations loose allows us to float away and re-evaluate before coming back again.

Sometimes we return and find our anchor waiting, rope floating on the surface of the ocean.  We get a second chance.  We can pull our anchor up like Chris did and try again.  Rebuild a relationship.  Revitalize a career.  Redefine a life.

Sometimes, the anchor is gone.  Sometimes it remains hopelessly stuck.

It takes fearlessness to cut the rope and drift away from our anchor.  It takes bravery to come back to it.  It takes courage to find a new anchor, create a new life, allow a new love.

A few years ago, I left a lucrative law practice.  I had great partners and wonderful benefits.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good.

I left because I was offered a named partnership in a smaller firm.  It seemed like an opportunity to provide greater financial security for my family.

The timing of the partnership coincided with the downturn in the economy that most negatively impacted my division of the practice.  What should have been an opportunity for financial freedom nearly pulled me under.

When I cut the anchor on the first partnership, it was like cutting a perfectly good anchor in a calm sea.

When I cut the anchor on the second partnership, it was an act of desperation to prevent professional and financial capsize.

I floated away from both of those anchors and started my own law practice.  Five years later, I’m still manning the helm of my own boat.  I decide when to draw up the anchor and move to more responsive waters.

Three years ago I cut the anchor that was a bad marriage.  We were as volatile as a stormy sea.  Staying in my marriage would have capsized me.  Staying with the wrong man was drowning my spirit.

Some anchors are irretrievably embedded in the ocean floor.  We tie ourselves to them over and over again, trapped in a cycle of unhappiness.  Always straining against the current.  Always being tossed about by waves of chaos.

When we are stuck in that cycle of turbulence, it’s easy to forget life wasn’t always like that; doesn’t always have to be like that.

If we are brave enough to cut the rope and loose the anchor from our boat, we can sail away into a new life.  A new chance at happiness, prosperity, success.

sailboat on the may river

Copyright Carita Banis Westbrook

We can steer our boat into calmer seas with clear blue water that is as still and perfect as glass.

We can put up our sails and feel the wind in our face as we skim the surface of the harbor.

We can find love again.  Love with someone who is willing to stand next to us on the bow, faces pointed into the wind together.

All we have to do us cut the anchor and sail away.

Just sail away.

Question:  What have you sailed away from?  Were you able to sail back and reclaim it again?

adventures in dating (a series of dogs)

This morning in yoga, we did a series of dogs.  Downward dogs, that is.

woman doing downward facing dog

My dating life has been overtaken by a series of dogs, too.

It’s no coincidence that Nature Boy’s ring tone is a barking dog.  Woof woof!  We get together on his timeframe.  When it is convenient for him.  Every time I’ve suggested getting together, he’s been busy. Or he’ll call in a little while.  A little while being defined as sometime in the next week.

It’s not just Nature Boy.  He is representative of all the boys.  I’ve noticed they call on their time frame, wanting to get together when it suits them.  Their needs.  Their purposes.  Fulfilling their loneliness.

In yoga class this morning, each downward dog was a little different than the last. Different hand position.  Different foot position.  Yet each variation led to the same result.

Each dog targeted different muscles and taught our bodies something new.  Each led to a little more release.  On each dog, our muscles let go of a little more tension.

The same way our bodies learned things this morning in our series of dogs, I’m hoping my heart and mind will learn something from the men in my life.

I’ve learned I’m attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable.

Like the man who used the term “divorced” very loosely.

And the man who is still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

I’ve learned that men love a challenge.  When I let them know I’m too busy to meet them, or let them know that I’m not overly interested in getting together, they pursue me that much harder.

I have no game, so I have to actually stay busy in order to be too busy to be at their disposal.

Then there are the men who are unavailable for weeks at a time and suddenly become insistent on getting together, right after I decide I’m ready to move on to someone new.

gardenias in the moonlight


I’ve learned that sometimes it’s enough to sit together on the front porch, smelling gardenias and night blooming jasmine, watching the stars twinkling in the sky.  Sipping water and talking about your day.  Feeling the tension seep out of your body the same way it seeps out of your muscles when you relax into a downward dog.

I want to be as confident about settling into that feeling as I am about settling into my next downward dog.

I’ll keep exploring new men the way I explored different downward dogs, until I find the one that fits best.  I’ll relax into the knowledge that each dog has something to teach me.  Each one different and no less valuable if I only hold it for a few minutes.

I learned something in class yesterday.  When you move into a yoga position, your muscles react with dualing reactions of relaxation and retraction.  It takes thirty seconds for the relaxation reaction to outweigh the retraction.  It takes two minutes to fully relax into the position.

I wonder how long my heart will react with dualing reactions of relaxing and retracting when I start seeing each new man.

I wonder how long it will take for my heart to fully relax into the security of love.

Will my heart know it’s found the right one at once?  Will dating so many wrong men make the right one stand out so much clearer?  Like a lighthouse on a foggy night?

I wish dating were as easy as yoga.  Maybe it will be.  One day.  Time will tell.

adventures in dating (or the full moon doesn’t just bring out werewolves)

My very non-scientific study seems to be proving my position that the full moon brings men out of the woodwork.

After a couple of quiet weeks, things started popping again in my dating life last weekend.  Old guys coming around again.  New guys popping up out of the atmosphere.

Carolina full moon

The last time this happened, it was a full moon. I remember wondering if the full moon had anything to do with the host of men emailing, texting and calling me.

About a week after the full moon, things quieted down.  By the time the new moon was just a sliver in the sky, it was just me and Nature Boy.  Nature Boy seems to march to the beat of his own drummer.  Apparently, he didn’t get the memo on the full moon, or he just doesn’t care.

Now that it’s a full moon, Nature Boy has taken a powder.  In his place are a few interesting fellas.  It should be a fun few days until they all disappear again.

Nature Boy seemed like a semi-decent Team B(oyfriend) option.  At least, he did until he disappeared.  Everyone else is clearly designated as Team A(vailable).  I am ok with that.  I’m still smarting a little bit from Nature Boy’s abrupt change of heart.  I think I’m going to give my heart a break for a little while, and just have some fun.

Hopefully, this new group will provide some fun new experiences.  And maybe a blog or two!