Archive | July 2012

adventures in dating (or fool me twice, shame on me)

As accomplished as I think I am in identifying far-away scam artists, I am equally unaccomplished at identifying the close-at-home scam artists.

bengal tiger crouched waiting on its prey

Before I dated Coach, I met a local man on-line.  He, too, went by Coach because he coaches his son’s traveling baseball team.  I met him on one of those dating sites.  The fishing one, I think.  I thought his bald head was as sexy as can be.  (I have no idea where this fascination with bald men came from but it seems to have stuck.)

He came on hard and fast.  I didn’t stand a chance.  He was like a snake charmer, and I, the mesmerized cobra.

According to him, I am beautiful and charming.

Cute as a bug.  Pretty as a picture.  The perfect woman.

He made me laugh until I snorted.  And then told me how much he loved women who snort when they laugh.

Online chats.  Late night texts.  Plans for a first date.  All the while, a constant onslaught of charming compliments.

The first date was fun but ended a little awkwardly.  In spite of that, by the time I got home, I had a text waiting from him.

Two or three weeks of daily calls and texts.  Two or three dates.  And then poof!

Somehow, this charming man found me.  Like a tiger separating the weakest deer from the herd.  He told me all the things I didn’t even realize I needed to hear.  And then contentedly walked away from my eviscerated body.

Men can be charming or sincere.  Women are drawn to charm but we’d be better off seeking sincerity.

In retrospect, it isn’t any wonder I fell for this charming man.

There were not a lot of compliments during my marriage.  I remember once asking my ex if I were beautiful.  His response?  “Well, you’re beautiful to me.”  (Emphasis his.)  After that answer, I wasn’t ever tempted to ask the question again.

My ex was usually quick to tell me I was a great mother.  A great lawyer, for a woman.  Smart, too.  For a woman.

But I never felt beautiful when I was with him.  I spent over twenty years with someone who never made me feel beautiful. Or sexy.  Certainly not the perfect woman.

I don’t remember my daddy ever telling me I’m beautiful, either.  Or pretty.  He always told me I am smart.  (And never felt compelled to add the caveat “for a woman”.  I am smart.  Period.)

He always told me I could go to school, have a career, take care of myself.  And I did go to school.  Earned my doctorate of jurisprudence.  I have a successful career as a lawyer and mediator.  I take care of myself, my children and everyone around me.

My daddy reinforced many of my best qualities.  But I wish he’d also told me how pretty I was.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have been such easy prey for a sweet-talking man.

Question:  How susceptible are you to sweet-talking men?  Have you found the secret to withstanding their charming assault?

adventures in dating (or scam me once shame on you)

keyboard return button labeled "find my date"

Online dating is an adventure.  I have met fun, interesting men like Coach through online dating sites.   I’ve also met a few interesting men like that fella who told me all his life troubles in a ten minute phone call.

One of the first men I spoke to online was a charming, handsome, half-Italian widower with a young son.  He wanted to know all about me.  He thought I was charming and beautiful.  And eventually, he wanted me to wire money to pay for his son’s medical treatments after a disastrous accident during a vacation in Thailand.

online dating love

When I met him, I was new to online dating.  I was new to any kind of dating.  The last time I dated, there were no cell phones, computers or online anything.

I am an intelligent, educated woman.  But I still liked the attention of the charming man with the tragic life story.

His wife died in childbirth, leaving him a young widower with a baby boy to raise alone.  He was a professional, an architect who worked for himself in Virginia, an eight or ten hour drive from my house.  He and his son were going on a trip of a lifetime to Thailand.

When he emailed about the “terrible accident” he and his son were involved in while in Thailand, my antennae started twitching.  When he emailed that he needed to “borrow” money to pay for his son’s medical treatments, I realized I was being scammed.  Even though I didn’t respond, he still sent one more email with a more basic scam.  Could he have money wired into my account and then could I forward it to him.

I told this handsome, charming man up front that I was an attorney.  In spite of that, he tried to scam me out of money.  A few weeks later, I spoke to a newly-single, professional friend who had a similar story.

Since then, I analyze online profiles differently.  Here are some of the red flags I look for.

  • Sentence structure that is not correct.  The words aren’t misspelled, but the syntax isn’t quite right.
  • His wife died in childbirth.  Sometimes the babies died with them.  Other times the child is still around.
  • One of his parents is from Italy, or Australia, or any country other than the United States.
  • He insists on swapping personal emails very quickly.  Then he shuts down his dating profile.
  • He want you to be his “queen”.
  • He is effusively complimentary when he doesn’t know enough about you to know how fabulous you really are.
  • He doesn’t not live close enough to arrange an in-person meeting.  This allows him to promise a meeting without ever actually following through.

My friend and I were lucky.  We are smart, professional women who didn’t get fooled by the scam artists who crossed our paths.  I wonder how many other women aren’t as lucky as we are.

Question:  Have you ever run across a scam artist on a dating site?

lessons from my garden (or I am ready for new soil)

peace lily with two large blooms

I am mending my plant serial killer ways. A couple of weekends ago, I realized I’ve had two peace lilies for five years. One of them was an office-warming present from Client Number One when I left the Big Firm.

Once I got past the amazement of keeping anything alive for five years, I realized the peace lilies were looking crowded and root-bound in their pots. I spent a peaceful, joyful afternoon with Eliza, my favorite five-year old friend, carefully removing the plants from their pots. Gleefully dumping five-year old potting soil and spreading it around the backyard. (Every adult I know could use a lesson in gleeful from any available five year old!)

There’s something inherently satisfying about digging into a fresh bag of potting soil. Maybe it’s my farmer grandfather’s spirit hovering nearby. Or maybe just the memory of wandering around his basement with its rows of African violets and blue lights.

Eliza and I played in the dirt like five-year olds. Which one of us actually is. Transferring potting soil from bag to pot. Carefully separating the contents of each pot. Setting each half in its own pot. Filling in soil around listless roots. Giving each half a new home, old roots surrounded by new, nutrient-rich soil. Watering each plant to ease the transition to its new home.

I grew up a Navy brat. We moved a lot. Eleven schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My roots were frequently pulled up and planted somewhere new. The sole consistency in each new home was my parents and my siblings.

Live Oak trees draping over dirt road

When Sweetness was a baby, we made a choice to settle somewhere our children could have roots. Roots that are as deep as the live oak trees that surround us here in the beautiful Low Country we chose as home. Eighteen years later, I know I made the right decision. Sweetness and The Genius have roots that are deep and sturdy. They have a support system that goes far beyond their immediate family.

live oak tree

Sometimes people need to be transplanted, too. Life in the old pot gets too crowded. Our soil is leached of nutrients. Our roots are bound because we’ve run out of room to grow.

When Sweetness graduated last year, she moved to Charleston. Two hours away is far enough to count as being transplanted. There’s an indescribable satisfaction watching your child flourish. New soil. A little watering from mama and daddy. She’s blooming as sweetly as ever. Roots firmly planted. And the sure knowledge that there will always be roots she can come home to.

After eighteen years in one place, my roots are starting to feel a little root-bound. I love the life I made here. But the wandering feet I grew up with are getting antsy. Usually, a yearly trip to a new locale pacifies my wandering ways. Sadly, my work schedule isn’t allowing more than a three-day weekend here and there.

Maybe it isn’t my location, but my job that needs to change. Or the men I’m dating. Or the hobbies I’m choosing.

beautiful peace lily bloom

I am ready for a change. Ready to be transplanted. Ready for new soil, fresh out of the bag, teeming with nutrients. Ready to be watered so I can bloom, bigger and brighter than ever.

Question: Have you ever been transplanted? How did it turn out for you?

adventures in dating (or one brave heart)

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Jim Morrison

I’ve never considered myself to be brave.  But I’ve had an epiphany this week.  I am brave.  Brave enough to risk my heart.  Over and over again.

be brave banner

When I meet someone I feel a connection with, whatever you want to call that connection, I risk my heart.  Willingly.  Gladly.

Sometimes, like with Coach, that connection makes sense.  Coach has a master’s degree.  He’s a nationally known strength and conditioning coach.  Respected by his peers.  He’s smart and educated, an optimistic people-person.  On the surface, he was a perfect match for me.

Sometimes, like with Nature Boy, that connection makes no sense at all.  Educationally and professionally, Nature Boy and I are on completely different levels.  I’m a tried-and-true Type A.  He’s more Type Hawaii.  I plan my life five years in advance.  I’m not even sure he plans his life five hours in advance.  But the connection I felt when I was with him was so strong, I didn’t care about any of those things.

As opposite as they are, the one thing they have in common is the connection I felt when I was with them.

It is easier to go out with people I have no connection to.  You aren’t risking anything when you don’t care.  Your heart is safe when it has no connection to the person you’re seeing.

Maybe because my heart was thoroughly shattered when my marriage collapsed, I can’t imagine any other relationship destroying me.  I faced soul-crushing heartache.  And I came out on the other side.  Stronger and braver than I ever imagined I could be.

I love.  Freely.  Easily.  Without reservation.  That quality attracts people to me.  Children sense the unconditional love that flows through my heart to theirs.  They know I love them just the way they are.

Unfortunately, men sense that same quality and run away.  Nature Boy ran away, rather than acknowledging his feelings for me.  Rather than letting my heart heal his.

I don’t blame him.  He’s been hurt and doesn’t want to be hurt again.  His choice is to play it safe.  Protect his heart.  I might have made that same choice once upon a time, a long time ago.

I can’t play it safe anymore.  I would rather have a few months of something special than years of nothing special.  Even if that means I might get hurt.  Hurt doesn’t last forever.  Beautiful memories do.

swan soul mates

One day, my heart will find my soul mate.  He’ll be brave enough to risk loving me back.  My unconditional love will be met with unconditional love.  We will have a connection that lasts for an eternity.

Until then, I am brave enough to put myself out there, put my heart out there, as many times as it takes to find him.

my year of balance (or Regina Mae floats away)

I take care of my body with intention.  I practice yoga.  I get acupuncture.  I do detoxifying foot soaks.  I get rainbow oil treatments.  I tap using EFT.

yin-yang symbol

I am a Reiki master.  I meditate.  I pray.

Four years ago, I was overweight, stressed and unhappy.  Perimenopause meant hot flashes and out of control emotions.

Four years ago, I started my journey into holistic medicine.

Four years ago, I started seeing my brilliant acupuncturist, Dr. Rahmie Valentine.  Week by week, her needles worked their magic on my meridians, or energy channels.  Lying on her table, I feel myself float away.  From the table.  From my troubles.  From my pain.

As my meridians opened up, I saw definite, palpable improvements to my body and my emotions.  My hot flashes went away.  My emotions came under control, allowing me to stop using Lexapro.  My digestion cleared up, resolving a lifetime struggle with IBS.

During one of my treatments, I mentioned to Rahmie that I had inexplicably started doing yoga at home.  She referred me to Carrie Peterson Wandall, who became my beloved yoga instructor.

girl in downward facing dog yoga pose

Yoga helped me get in touch with my body.  It helped me start to hear what my body was trying to tell me. I lost twenty pounds in yoga.  I learned what peace feels like in my yoga classes.

After surgery, I told Carrie that I felt like I just couldn’t shake the anesthesia.  I felt like I was walking through a cloud.  She referred me to Barbara Bock, R.N., Ph.D.

Barbara is a registered nurse who earned a Master’s Degree in Health Care Management and her Doctorate in Health Care Administration.  Barbara spent years in traditional medicine before her own health crisis led her to holistic healthcare.  She is a Reiki master and Licensed Massage Therapist who uses her life experiences and intuition to change people’s lives.

Barbara introduced me to the world of detoxifying foot soaks.  After the first soak, I felt like a new woman.  I slept better.  I had more energy.  I felt lighter as I walked out of the treatment room.

reiki hands and om symbol

Carrie also brought me to Reiki.  “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.”  Carrie introduced me to Bob Calabrese, who gave me my first degree attunement, and Vivian Quattlebaum, who gave me my second degree attunement.

Eric Burns gave Carrie and me our Master attunement together.  I met Eric at one of Carrie’s Holiday Restorative classes.  She lined up several Reiki practitioners to go around the room and give Reiki to the participants as we laid in various restorative poses.  When Eric gave me Reiki, my entire body tingled.  To this day, I’ve never met a more powerful Reiki practitioner!

Four years after starting my journey into holistic healing, my body is healthier than it’s ever been.  Yoga and meditation are easy ways for me to keep in touch with my body and mind on a daily basis.  Monthly acupuncture visits keep my meridians flowing.  Rainbow oil treatments are the newest feel-good addition to the repertoire.

I can’t wait to see where this journey leads me next.

Question: What do you do to take care of your body and soul?

adventures in dating (or I get by with a little help from my friends)

group of smiling friends


Men are lovely but what every girl really needs is her friends.  Men come and go like the tide.

A tight group of friends will carry you through heartaches and heartbreaks.  They will celebrate with you when things are going well.  They will analyze your love life with you until even you don’t want to talk about it anymore.

This week, I need my friends even more than usual.  Nature Boy and I spent five days together last week.  It was fun and easy.  Being with Nature Boy is always easy.  But he’s as skittish as one of the wild stallions who roam out west.  By Friday, he’d scattered like one of those startled stallions.

Since Coach left, I’ve done a good job of not getting too attached to any given man.  I rotate a few fellas, going out when our schedules collide.  I’m always open to meeting new guys.  But Nature Boy makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.   He makes me want things I haven’t wanted in a long time.  Stillness.  Togetherness.

I’m thankful for my generous friends who laugh with me, storm with me, cry with me.  Whatever I need.  Whenever I need it.

What I need most this week is to stay busy and to forget.  Forget how good it felt being with Nature Boy.

adventures in dating (or a pretty good catch)

Love stories have always been my favorite.  Especially the stories that aren’t stories at all.  It tickles me to listen to other people’s love stories.  It encourages me to know love finds people, whether it’s late in life like my client Meredith who found a beau at 70.    Or whether they found it thirty-three years ago, like Linda and Fernando.

sun setting on the intercoastal waterway

Linda told me about how she and Fernando found each other as we floated on the intercoastal waterway.  The sun was a slowly sinking red ball as she told me about how she met Fernando when her son was ten years old.  She’d been divorced since he was two.  She dated but she didn’t introduce men to her son.  She swore she’d never be married again.

There was something different about Fernando.  They met at a party.  By the time she realized he was a younger man, it was too late.  They were smitten with each other.

Linda had been dating another man for about three years when she met Fernando.  It didn’t take her long to realize Fernando was the one.  She says that other fella told her he’d never been dumped so fast in his life.

Fernando is half Cuban and half Colombian.  Linda is West Virginia country girl.  Fernando is younger and had never been married.  Linda was a divorcee with a child.

His family didn’t want him to marry her because she was a Gringa.  Her family didn’t want her to marry him because he was Latino.

In spite of that, they’ve been married thirty-three years now.  They have two beautiful daughters.  Fernando has been a father to Linda’s son.

Fernando is quiet and exact.  An architect by trade and personality.  Linda is vivacious and outgoing.

They are a testament to the saying that opposites attract.

Linda and Fernando

Linda and Fernando

As the sun set, we looked toward the back of the boat, admiring her handsome man.

He’s a pretty good catch,” she commented.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Question:  Have you found your Fernando yet?  Did he sneak in when you least suspected it?