Our Choices are Important


Life is like a box of chocolates most times you DO know what you are going to get. I have always believed that people make relationship choices based on the reality they have distorted in order to satisfied their own wants and desires. I understand the pressures of wanting to have a companion for life and the preverbal family ideals which consist of a loving spouse, kids, maybe an animal, house and a comfortable and happily-ever-after life.

For this terminally single gal, I have never had that image for myself; however, I sometimes run into a bombardment of relationship stuff. The funny thing is the outer shell for most relationships is in stark contrast to the reality. Maybe it has something to do with my field of work that sheds a harsh bright and less rosy light on the inner thinking and working of the happily-ever-after. Someone asked me if my experiences in behavioral health have affected my desire or approach to relationships. He did not finish the sentence before I said resoundingly “yes, absolutely.” I have loss the virgin eyes of this world and it is hard to go back to seeing things as ‘perfect’ when my 8hr days are filled with imperfection masked in ‘perfection.’

I am damaged goods. My perception of others, depending on the situation, is covered in distrust and suspicion. Each person has to prove his worthiness before being allowed into my inner sanctum. It is my choice to protect me until the intruder is identified as friendly. For most people, it’s the opposite – safe until proven dangerous. I haven’t afforded myself such a luxury because it’s against my world crafted nature. I am cynical when it comes to the idea of ‘”the one.” I think I have always been cynical since I was young. Despite growing up with married people around me, I had great anxiety about marriage and long term relationships. I believe that anxiety came from recognizing the role of self and the level of giving that is required in order to foster a healthy long lasting relationship. I can be absolutely selfish about my life which is not conducive to male-female long term bonding.

There is hope for me yet:-).  In the last 5 years, I have soften my hardline approach to relationships.  As I age, I become more and more confident with myself, understand the power of making choices and taking full acceptance of the outcome of those choices. I  recognize that I have the power to change things that are not conducive to my physical, psychological,  and emotional wellbeing (I am still working on the spiritual). I fully recognize the importance of taking care of me above everyone and everything else. With this change, the idea of choosing a mate has been bumped up 1-2 points from the bottom of my list.

Temptation is real. We all have different temptations when it comes to relationships. The temptation to hurry into a relationship; the temptation to stay in a bad relationship, the temptation to engage in a forbidden relationship, the temptation to compromise values, integrity and self-esteem/image, the temptation to delude ourselves etc. No matter the temptation we have the power of choice. You can quote the scripture that God will not give you more than you can bear but I disagree. We have broken people-emotionally and psychologically because we are given more than we can manage at times.  The choice is to accept defeat, ask and accept help, learn and grow from our brokenness.

I never point to a couple and use them as my ‘relationship goal’ actually I never use anyone as a goal for myself. I know better and in my world, what I see and hear are more brokenness than contentment. I also know me very well and I am aware that what works for others does not always suit my fancy. Every choice I make has some varying degree of importance for me. It shapes me. Every choice I make about the people in my life has a huge impact. People – how they treat you and how you treat them – play a vital role. It is imperative that they are worthy of me and I of them. Sometimes someone may be good for us but we are bad for them which inevitability make for a disastrous union. When you know who are, then you know who/what you want in your life. You easily recognize the unhealthy and you put the trash to the curb.

Choices

 

 

What is the Purpose of Marriage?


Let me start off by saying Happy New Year to you all and many blessings for 2016. As always, I did not make resolutions but continue to live life as thrown my way and make adjustments accordingly.  I was motivated to attend a church service in the new year and will try to make more attempts to get back into church life – we will see how it goes.

So, I am privy to the workings of strangers’ private lives. As they seek behavioral health services, it is my job to ask various personal questions. While this is not new, in the last few months, I am more aware of how many couples underutilize the main reason for getting into a long term relationship-companionship.

Marriage is now easily disposable. People get married for various reasons but the underlying need is a desire to have a suitable companion. The problem I have been noticing for various couples, who are having minor to major marital difficulties, is they have either forgotten or did not establish solid reasons for getting married in the first place.

Here are some things I understand are the basic purposes for marriage: Companionship-to share your life with someone. Support-having someone there when needed and vice versa. Communication: Verbally sharing various aspects of one’s thoughts and experiences. Pleasure: Sex, intimacy and fun. Monogamy: The only. Cooperation: Working together to make each other’s lives easier and better. Understanding: You may differ on issues but are still able to show empathy. Trust: Closing ones eyes and fall backwards knowing your partner is there to catch you. Responsibility: 100/100. Communication: Learning and knowing how to talk to each other. Adapting and Growing: Learning to navigate the changes in life together. Commitment: It’s you and me baby.

As a lifelong bachelorette who is nearing 40, I am getting hit from all sides from married couples about my single status. However, as I look at their relationship lives, I amass even more reservations on joining their ranks. As a single, I make an effort to enjoy my life and as I look at theirs here are the recurring themes I see: Boring: They rarely make time to do fun things together.  Sex and intimacy have started to dwindle significantly. Lack of cooperation between each other creates frustration, pent up anger and isolation. Inability to communicate their stressors or needs with each other. One spouse takes on more responsibilities than the other which creates stress and resentment. Flirtatious behaviors with someone not their spouse. Inability to listen and understand the other person’s needs. Third Party Interference: Everything is more important than your spouse-kids, the game, the other’s selfishness. Complaining about everything. Physical Neglect: Spouses stop taking the time to look good for each other. Loss of affection because of ongoing separation. Blaming: Its the other person’s fault. Infidelity: The misconception that starting with someone new will solve your problems.

Marriage gives couples a built in purpose to enjoy life and share that with someone who is sleeping right beside you. However, most couples have loss the insight about their purpose of marriage and ignore their ill-behaviors towards each other. I have sat through conversations in which a spouse will use sex as a weapon, one partner spends money recklessly, child care is only expected of one partner while the other occasionally ‘babysits, couples’ idea of spending time together is completing chores around the house every weekend. Date night is something they have on Valentine’s and Birthdays. Feeling sexy and being sexy is only for single people in new relationships. Communication is “I just can’t talk to him/her.”

Most singles are looking for a date to try out a new restaurant but many married couples, who have a built in date partner, have not gone out together unless it’s to Chucky Cheese or stay at home to enjoy take-out. Singles are sexually frustrated from an absence of a partner while married people have someone sleeping beside them every night and most can’t readily think of the last time they had sex much less enjoyable sex (you know…the one that does not feel like an obligation). A romantic night for a single involves fun; a romantic night for a couple involves the television. A single will feel lonely but s/he is a single, however, a spouse can feel isolated and lonely while staring across a table at their partner.

I am not naïve to expect married life to be daily fun and excitement. However, the repeated dullness and the habit of taking each other for granted tend to build over time until the marriage is “like living with a room mate” or “we are only together for the kids.” You would be surprise how many times I have heard similar statements. Relationships die over time from neglect. As I listen to the patients and to some of my friends, I start to see the early warning signs of the reasons why relationships fall apart.

As a single, I have started to ‘keep out of their business’ because I recognize that most couples do not appreciate the observations from those who are not married. What they fail to realize is that being married does not put you in a special behavioral category that only certain married people can understand. Behaviors are behaviors and it does not take a genius to see certain red flags.

I will always be baffled as to why people are so eager to be married but once they are in that situation they easily lose sight of the reason why they wanted to be married. The laziness, complacency, taking their partners for granted and neglect in putting effort into the relationship usually ends in disaster. It’s like having a million dollars in the bank but if you never use that money to buy groceries, then you will always be starving.

If anyone has ever done relationship counseling, then you will know that one question from the therapist will always be “What made you fall in love/want to be with that person?” The reason for such a question is to remind the couple about the purpose of their relationship, then to re-establish those feelings and ideas, and help them to proceed forward with those foundations at the forefront of the marriage.

Is Jesus Enough?


A poster asked the question? Is Jesus enough? If Jesus is enough, then why are Christians so eager to get married? My response is that Jesus is never enough. You may be aware of the saying that all you need is Jesus. However, if we are to be truly honest, then that statement gets thrown out with the bathwater.

So, let me start my ‘blasphemous’ observations. If you are on social media, it can become littered with good intentioned Christians who frequently post ‘all you need is Jesus’ or ‘leave it all up to Jesus’ inspirations. While I enjoy reading them and they serve as a great pick-me-up, they are lacking in the harsh reality of being a Christian. For example, someone posted an inspiration gone wrong stating “Somebody is in the hospital right now begging God for the opportunity you have. Don’t you dare go to bed depressed. Shake it off!” The response was overwhelmingly negative because there were a number of people who are suffering from clinically diagnosed depression who could not just “shake it off” in Jesus’ name. Interestingly, the poster did not clarify or addressed the backlash.

If Jesus or God was enough, then our lives would mirror those of monks, priests and the John the Baptists types. We would be like the ravens that do not worry for food, shelter, companionship or producing off-springs. We would be truly free from all the cares of the world and spending all our time in full and complete devotion to God and spreading his word. However, if you look at our lives we are so far from the “Jesus is enough” concept.

The truth is we like the idea of sprouting that phrase but in true reality we neither desire nor can live to that standard. Christians get married because they want to feel loved and share in companionship. Christians have children because they want to pass on their love, have a human to own and care for, to pass on their legacy and expand their family. Christians maintain close contact with family and friends to build support. Christians touch, hug and make physical contact with others to feel human interactions. Christian couples show intimacy just because it feels good. Christians work for and buy nice things to have a sense of accomplishment and enjoy various comforts from their labour. In other words, we have wants and needs that the love or belief in Jesus is not always able to fill and there is nothing wrong with accepting that fact. There is little that we do in our day to day lives that has anything to do with spreading Christianity and  belief in God.

Believing in God relates to a guideline on how we are to worship the creator and use of the Christian best practice guide in our daily lives. The Bible teachings of God was not meant to be a replacement of living in this world. It is to help us survive emotionally and spiritually in this world. Jesus will never be enough for majority of the people who believe in Christianity. Our human nature requires more than reading daily scriptures, having faith in the unseen, praying to a God we can’t see, feel, hear (his own voice) or touch, or going to church. Besides John the Baptist, none of the Bible characters went through their lives in complete religious isolation. They had families, friends, disciples, lives and a belief in God.

God should be a part of our lives not some improbable idea that he should be exclusive in our lives. If, as a Christian, that exclusivity is your calling, then God bless you. On the other hand, most of those ‘Jesus is all you need’ inspiration quotes are just empty gestures to make you feel good for a moment but not a realistic endeavor. We become so pious that we forget to make Christianity realistic to our every day stressors. Instead of some generic quote, how about a true testimony of one’s struggles and how the belief in God applies. Being a Christian is not a straightforward or smooth journey, some days you feel close to God as if he was there in person and other days you struggle to understand why you believe.

No, for me, Jesus is not enough while living on this earth. In the past, as preachers would emphasize this, I struggled greatly to live to that concept. There was a certain amount of guilt with not being able to fit neatly into this idea. I finally gave it up and accepted the fact that in my reality it does not work. As Christians, we sketch our own journey in life while holding on to a belief that there is a God who cares.

Wanting What God Did Not Intend


I have to admit that following the Biblical rules can be very challenging. The bible has very set ideas about right and wrong. It leaves no room for in-between and grey areas. This could be the reason why so many of us struggle with feeling like or have committed sins on a daily basis. When God created us with free-will then proclaimed there was a four wall boundary in which to not cross, it inevitably caused confusion, confliction and stress. Maybe that’s the reason most people spend their Christian journey on their knees either asking for forgiveness or discernment in making the right Godly choices.

My single journey has been filled mostly with my own wants and bucket list. I specifically wanted a single, free, do-what-I-want lifestyle and I got it. All of which have been enjoyable and a source of character growth, identity and self-confidence building. I can say that I am very secure within myself that it would take a 9.5 Richter scale earthquake to cause damage to my foundation.  As I am blessed with 39 years of life, the desire for companionship has crept in albeit very slowly. I have come to a slow conclusion over the last 5 years that there is nothing wrong for me in wanting to share the joys and stress of my life with someone else and in tern be supportive to that person on an intimate level.

I am a self professed commitment phobe. Life can be so much easier when you have only yourself to think about. As I had watched my parents marriage over the years, it had taught me the importance of and hard work required to have a committed relationship. Ironically, it was that realization at a young age that pushed me down the single path. I was not ready to give that much of myself to anyone but me.  In the last few weeks, I have been having some very frank discussions with a male former single playboy now married with family coworker. I had to verbally acknowledge a few things I already knew about myself. It has been disconcerting to hear someone point them out and me verbally admitting to certain things to someone beyond myself. It was not eye opening but more real awareness. I learn so much about myself from people who have the balls to give me such honest feeback.

So, what is it that I want that God did not intent? I want the best of both the single and married world. I absolutely love being single and free to go and do what I wish. I love making last minute decisions about what I want to do for any given weekend. I love planning my life according to my schedule. I love the idea that I can pack and move to another state just because I can. I love the fact that I can choose to eat out or dine in and not worry about another mouth to feed. I love not having to give an accountability as to whether I am going to be late or why I am late. I have my own bed to myself  and my things are just the way I like them. I love the autonomy of being single.

On the other hand, the things I love about the marital benefits include having an available social activity partner to try out a new restaurant or event. I love having company when I don’t feel like being alone. I love the idea of being able to release sexual tension and enjoy sex when desired. I love the idea of having someone concerned if I am late to get home. I love the joys of intimacy, having an available helper, and someone close with whom to share good and bad moments. I love the pleasure of companionship.

See my dilemma? Obviously, those two things are on the opposite end of the biblical spectrum. In order to get the best of both worlds, my lifestyle would have to exist outside what God intended. What would that look like? Sort of like Oprah and Steadman – two single people who have their individual lives but come together as wanted or needed. No marriage, no living together, no sharing personal property but an unconventional nontraditional relationship.

In the Christian world, it is either one or  the other not both. So obviously I have a decision to ponder. Do I stick with the joys of singleness and sacrifice the natural desire for companionship? Do I get over my commitment phobia and learn to share my life fully with a compatible partner? Neither of which are the easier road because they require giving up certain things. Can I be certain that if I find a compatible partner I won’t still yearn for the days when it’s just about me? The issue is I only know about the pleasure of singleness because I have yet to meet anyone who had enough pull to entice me to the marital side. Could it be that I need to find the right guy who can change my view of marriage being a stagnant, limiting, excessively compromising institution? I do not have any answers to these questions so until then the most attractive aspect of single vs married is having the best of both worlds.

People in Relationships Overly Concerned With Singles


In case you did not know and the blog page did not tip you off, I am single actually terminally single. In my opinion that status is neither good nor bad but just is what it is. I feel a certain amount of comfort with that status and I see the green side of the grass as well as the brown side of the grass that comes with being single. So, why is it that couples/people in relationships, whether new or old, seem to have such a difficulty accepting and being comfortable with other’s single status particularly with single women? What is so threatening or frightening about being single? Let me compile a few things I have heard and noticed about couples’ behaviors towards singles.

People in relationships think it is their God given right to “set you up” and get you coupled

People in relationships think that because you are single, then ANY other single person will make the best match for you

People in relationships think your life will be so much happier with someone/anyone

People in relationships suddenly know what’s best for your life

People in relationships “can’t understand why you are single because you are such a nice person”

People in relationships do not think singles will fit in with their family lifestyle and are excluded from social events

People in relationships assume singles are avid partiers and have wild random sex ie. promiscuous

People in relationships think that singles cannot possibly understand when they are having difficulties in their relationships

People in relationships think singles will feel bad/sad/sorry for themselves if they talk about their relationships in your presence; so they avoid sharing anything about their relationships

A person who is in a new/early relationship suddenly think singles will be jealous so they avoid discussing their relationships

People in relationships believe that their relationships are so unique that every single person wants what they have/admire their relationship

People in relationships believe that every conversation with you should center around solving your singleness

People in relationships assume that singles are not working hard enough to end their singleness

People in relationships assume that you cannot be genuinely happy for them in their relationships

People in relationships assume singles cannot be truly contented and are faking it until they find their own relationships

…and so on

The funny thing is if you are a Christian then you know that Jesus and most of his disciples were single. Actually the God-head is single. The reality is there are a lot of singles who are more comfortable as singles than what society wants everyone to believe. Happiness is not about being single or married because misery lives in both camps. What I find very interesting is these behaviors are not just confined to couples who have been together since puberty but new couples pick up those very nasty judgmental and exclusionary habits too.  In my personal experience, I try not to react negatively. However, what some of these couples do not realize is that while I am happy for them I do not want their relationships. NEWSFLASH Your life is NOT that special above my own. The ludicrous concept that my marital status is the only thing that puts me in a one-down position is more of a personal problem for others.

If I am going to be single until the day I die, then so be it. If I am to get married in the future, then so be it. These are all just one aspect of my life. God blessed me with one life to live and I will do the best that I can whether single or married. So, if you happen to be reading this, in a relationship and recognize that you are guilty of being a couple snob, please quit with your BS.

Recognizing the Greatest Blessing is Love


In the last few weeks, I had an inordinate amount of interest in my single status. No, it’s not men flocking to ‘rescue’ me from being single but friends who want to save me from an eternal single life. I guess they think being 39 with minute interest in marriage is not normal. I handled the issue like a pro, which means I did not go crazy and spout the “I am woman and don’t need a man” mantra.:-). I understand their well-meaning intention because all those friends are married. Ironically, one friend who has been married for ages is having issues with connecting to her husband, the 2nd person is new to married life with a toddler, and the 3rd, her husband is out of the country for a few months and she is stressed with their few months old baby.

I had the privilege of taking a week of vacation with a long time friend. While on vacation, not realizing the resort was adults only when booked, I was surrounded by majority couples. Is that a sign or something?! (I say sarcastically). I had a few minor uncomfortable moments when it was just me sitting by myself for the nightly entertainment or on the beach to relax. Nothing like being physically alone amongst strange couples to highlight one’s singleness. This was not my first or will it be the last in such situations; however, those things never deter me from doing anything I want to do. There is a certain amount of strength that comes from being able to enjoy life fully as a single and not constantly fearing what others think about being a party of one.

Small Blessings
Small Blessings

So, I just came back from the vacation with lots of pictures in store and decided to resume my lost hobby of printing all my pictures which are stored digitally (a few years worth) and chronologically placing them in albums. As I am going through organizing pictures which starts from year 2010 and choosing a few for my collage picture frame that sits on my mantle 90% empty, I realize a few important things.

1.  I have done quite a few things in my lifetime. I have travelled in and outside the US and have fun evidence of my adventures

2.  I have made friends where I go. I am an introvert who sometimes have a difficult time connecting with people. However, my pictures show that throughout the years I have developed friendships/relationship with others at different moments in life

3.  I have created some good memories. Memories fade but looking through those pictures reminded me that I had good times with people whose company I enjoyed

4.  Caring is sharing. I was blessed to share my life with people who were and some still are important to me. There are pictures with a few people with whom I no longer have a relationship due to falling out; despite that, I can look at those pictures and remember when the relationship was good

5.  A snippet of my life. Those pictures are snippets of good times in my life. We tend to remember the difficulties rather than the pleasure. Those snippets are reminders of pleasurable moments in my life.

6.  God brings people in and out of my life. We tend to forget the people in our lives when things are difficult. We tend to forget the support that surrounds us. Those pictures remind me of the supports I have had throughout the years and sometimes do not realize it. Most of us want to be martyrs by carrying the weight of the world alone. However, when we step back far enough and pull our heads out of our derrieres, then we realize just how many and who God brings into our lives for support. Plus, we see those with whom God has placed us in their lives.

7.  I should not feel unloved. I know that my single never married no children state will at times be a sore spot for me and particularly for others who are uncomfortable with my unmarried status at my age. Feeling Loved is not exclusive to married or coupled people and singleness does not have the exclusive rights to loneliness. Those pictures are a reminder that I was always loved or cared about by someone somewhere (not that I thought I was not).

8.  Acceptance of me. I have difficult personality traits (which I particularly like about me). I am not easy to get close to, I can be very upfront, and I don’t apologize for me. I truly like me. Those pictures show the handful of people who accept all that about me. I am not afraid to be myself around friends. I value the friends who come in and out of my life which make the relationship more authentic and trustworthy. The right compatible people accept you for who you are not who you pretend to be.

The collage picture frame is complete and sitting on my mantle with images of friends and family taken at different points in my life. In the center of the collage that takes a 9×7.5 picture sits my favourite bible passages 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13 – the love chapter. “The greatest of all these is LOVE.” I think we become so wrapped up in the image of love being a husband and wife and forget that God blesses us with love and care from many different people at different point in our lives. I sometimes lose sight of God’s blessings and need to be reminded on occasion with mundane things like organizing years worth of photos in an album.

Grey – The Irrational Fear of Looking Older Than 25


Natural Grey Hair – The beauty critics semi-obsession in which to yet again criticize women and diminish their self-image/esteem. Grey Hair… oh the horror!!!!

It is very obvious that women are held to very different standards than men. Every day it is a new body image issue in which to become obsessed. In the past and present, women have been negatively criticized for an array of things to include wearing pants suits because it’s unfeminine, working women do not make good mothers and devoted wives, too fat, too skinny, we need larger breasts, buns, lips and top them off with a thigh gap (this one still baffles me). Short hair is too butch; on the other hand, long hair on older women is a no-no, curly hair is too wild, being assertive means they are bitches and not being married with children means they are selfish. Surely, there is nothing left to pick at right?

Wrong, now women are told to be ashamed of the natural change in the pigment of their hair. Debunk primary myth: Going grey does not mean getting old because there are many people who are prematurely grey in their young lives. However, due to the stigma of grey hair being equated to “granny,” many women have resorted to spending quite a bit of money and time to choose any hair colour except grey. It’s almost like an irrational fear of women aging past 25.

My grey journey started from birth. I was born with a grey strand in the middle of my head. As I was growing up, people who noticed it either wanted to pluck it out because it signified that I would grey early or they thought it brought luck. Well, the first view was right. I did grey early – started during my mid 20’s when more random strands started popping up. At the age of 39, I have noticeable salt and pepper hair with a cluster of grey hair concentration in the front. I can proudly say that I have joined the Women’s Sexy Silver Fox Club (WSSFC).:-)

While scouring the internet, I noticed that other women have been given negative unsolicited comments about their decision to sport their natural silver; however, I have yet to encounter such impudence. A lesson I learnt long ago was, as a woman, I have to find my strength, develop a strong self-esteem and positive self-image from within instead of depending on validation from others. While I have no issues with women who choose to colour their greys, I do find it sad when some women put themselves through the frequent hide-the-grey torture because they are afraid of what others may think of their natural hair colour. They are afraid that people will think they are “old” and have “let themselves go.” Pure nonsense!

Fear and propaganda are good tools to keep people in line. For me, at 39, I am not old but definitely older and I am in much better physical shape than a number of the people who want to criticize. God gave me one body and I intent to care for it, without fear and loathing, the best way possible with greys and all. The grey hair shaming is nothing more than people who want to instill their own ideas of a woman’s beauty. Sadly, other women lead the way in the shame/fear attacks. If it were up to the objectors, most women would be 25 y/o Stepford wives.

Note: A 75 y/o with jet black hair is as ridiculous a reality as the Kardashian sisters’ derrières are naturally the size of the Goodyear Blimp – you are not fooling anyone but yourself. You are not 25! (for the last 20 years).

The issue with grey hair (and all body criticism) is so much more than the way a woman looks but it hits at the heart of a woman’s identify and self-esteem. Here is the bottom line, if you want to control others, then implant a negative message which will weaken their self-esteem and cause damage to their confidence. Wala!! You will have people susceptible to any and everything. Despite the attempted brainwashing that we grey-haired beauties are unkept hags because of hair pigment, many women of varying ages and races are embracing and joining the WSSFC. They are fighting back with the awareness that being a woman is so much more than appearance. They are bringing the sexy back to silver hair, strengthening their identity, improving self-image and redefining beauty on their terms.

Cheers to the Women’s Sexy Silver Fox Club

39-Year-Old Crisis


As I am writing this, it now seems like a funny experience rather than a crisis. Not long ago in the distant past, I somewhat celebrated my 39th birthday. It was low key like all my birthdays and I do what I typically would do… take the day off from work and scheduled a day worth of activities while getting calls, texts and Facebook birthday well-wishes. However, this morning I woke up (thank God) and had a minor 39 year old crisis. OMG I am 39!!!!! I am getting old(er).

So, I got out of bed, looked in the mirror and thought is this what people of a certain age go through? I don’t look 39-I work out and is trying to stave off any excessive weight gain and I don’t have any wrinkles (thanks parents and decent living). While my mind is not taking the senior citizen route, the age numbers are climbing. I literally feel like a 39-year-old in a much younger body (my mirror could be lying or maybe I have early onset cataracts). Should I start dressing differently – more mature? How about my hair? Should I quit wearing my hair in two braids because I am too lazy to find a good hairstyle? LOL…I can’t help laughing at myself as I write this. As a friend of mine would say, this is a first world problem.

What’s my deal about being 39? Well, it’s about life expectations for career then a distant second for relationships. I know…traditionally as a woman my crisis should be all about my terminally single status. Oh well, I guess I am a little different. I woke up this morning thinking that my career life does not match that of my younger self’s dreams or my current age. I really believe that I should be further along in my career pursuit. I asked myself what exactly have I accomplished in my life? The distorted self-defeating mind would say “not much” but the reality is I have done quite a bit with my life. I actually have some tales to tell and wisdom to pass on.

In terms of my marital status – I can explain why that issue takes second place as a crisis (okay a very mild crisis). As a child, my thoughts were never focused on the marital side of life. It has only been since journeying in my 30’s that marriage and family has even been a blip on my radar. So, my current spinster (can’t get a man pathetic single woman) or bachelorette ( hot sexy choose to be single woman) status only made minor contributions to my crisis because it was never a life long dream/desire. I may have to re-evaluate if I start collecting cats as pets.

Could I spruce up my dating life a bit? Sure! I do acknowledge that as I age gracefully I may encounter a slight snag in the long-term relationship department. Apparently, men of my age are looking for women who are a lot little  younger. So, I should expect to get offers (assuming I will ever fully be ready to transition to a MRS degree) from men who range from age 60 and up who are looking for a ‘younger woman.’ Woo hoo!!!!…. I still have a shot at being called a “young woman.”

As a aged woman in crisis, should I start wearing tube tops (hopefully you are old enough to know what that is) and micro mini skirts? Or should I save that for when I am 49? What exactly should the life of a 39 y/o woman look like? Married with kids? Successful career? Traveling the world?  Being a good Christian at church 5 (okay maybe 2 or 3) days out of the week? Am I below the 39 y/o curve? I thought about it and I really don’t have a good answer.

A 39 y/o woman’s life could range from still living with her parents to being a Goodwill UN Ambassador. While society does place ridiculous boundaries on women’s lives, we put the most pressure on ourselves by believing the b.s. So, God blessed me to wake up this morning but I started the day in the first age related panic of my life. While it only lasted for a brief moment, I could not help but think what is my next step? I cannot say that I am totally thrilled with my current career situation and it is certainly not where I envisioned myself at 39. However, I refuse to fall into hysteria (take that Freud!) and make rash decisions but it has motivated me to start pushing a little harder to reach further for my career or at least job satisfaction and breathe new energy into getting out and enjoying the blessings of being alive for 39 years (thanks God).

Abstinence In A Sexualized World


Surfed the internet lately? If yes, then you may have seen a few headlines relating to sex in the Christian community. First, there was the Duggar’s older son inappropriate sexual touching before he was married, Billy Graham’s grandson’s infidelity in a crumbling marriage, and Bristol Palin announcing her 2nd out-of-wedlock pregnancy despite being a public advocate for abstinence. In the old days, all these visible Christians would have been publicly shamed for the rest of their lives.

The reality is we are all sinners, prone to temptation, and each and every one of us have committed sins and will commit sins in our lives. Welcome to the reason why the Bible talks about redemption. Despite knowing that, I do get a sick pleasure when limelight Christians screw up. Why is that? Because it shows that no one is immune and we need to be careful of our actions when we decide to put ourselves in the forefront as perfect Christian leaders.

Let’s chat about abstinence . First, let me say that I do not believe in abstinence only education. Our society is not set up to re-enforce that concept. Second, abstinence does not address some important biological and situational nuances that typically lead to breaking that vow. Third, abstinence is a difficult practice to maintain especially the more sexually charged you are and the length of your intimate relationship.

I believe there are two kinds of abstinence: one is the letter of the law abstinence and the other is the spirit of the law abstinence. When people talk about abstinence they are referring to no sexual penetration using the male and female sex organs. Therefore, if two people in a relationship never have coitus, then they have fulfilled the letter of the abstinence law. This letter of the abstinence law is very important for virgins and those who want to remain “pure” until marriage. However, the spirit of the abstinence law is very different. This is in reference to ALL sexualized behaviors ie. mutual masturbation, over and under the clothes touching of breast and genitals, anal sex, oral sex, foreplay and everything that stops short of penetration. If Christians should be judge by the spirit of the abstinence law, then a great number would be found guilty.

I applaud the concept of no sex before marriage. It’s a great idea for a number of reasons; however, by the time most couples get to their wedding night they have already engaged in various sexualized behaviors “to take the edge off,” and the only thing left is the grand finale. True abstinence is not an easy feat. Christian couples engage in the same dating style such as spending quality and alone time with their partners. Like all relationships, the two people are instinctively and biologically sexually drawn to each other, and each intimate alone time breaks down the abstinence defenses.

When was the last time you went on a date with a chaperone? Do you always kiss your partner on the cheek with a side hug? When the phone conversation turns intimate do you stop and say “God would not approve because we are not married?” or have you instituted a rule that you don’t talk in the bedroom and not past a certain hour? When was the last time that the most intimate thing you did with your partner was holding hands for longer than 5 minutes?

If true abstinence is to be practiced, then the Christian couple has to become puritanical in every sense of the word. If you cannot do that, then it’s time to have the talk (You should have had this talk already if you decided to be in a long-term relationship). The talk should involve what to do if you can’t wait or the it-just-happened moment. It’s time to have the real sex talk and not the ignorant watered down ‘Christian’ version. The version in which birth control and pregnancy are a reality. The version in which when things go too far how do you work through it instead of being riddled with guilt, shame and sometimes blaming.

It’s obvious that Ms Palin, the abstinence advocate, found her own message difficult to uphold – twice. If it was not for the pregnancies, which is how most Christian couples are outed, she would have been able to hide the hypocrisy. I could take cheap shots at her; however, her failures show the holes in the modern-day abstinence message. I do believe that most Christians are very sincere when they take on the abstinence challenge. However, they fail to see and prepare for the inevitable obstacle which is to underestimate how strong one’s normal sexual desires can be in the presence of romantic partner.

For those who intend on practicing the abstinence spirit of the law, I wish you God speed because you will need it. I also wish that you put in place preventive methods instead of reactive measures. Abstinence in a relationship is a good thing; however, ignoring one’s natural sexual urges will make it a feat to truly accomplish in avoiding ALL forms of sexual activities before marriage.

The Power of Communication


I would be the first person in line to advocate and admonish how important it is to keep the lines of communication wide open with the people in your life. Due to my dabble in behavioral health, I would estimate that the destruction of 99.9% (made-up number) of relationships is due  to the lack of communication.

As Christians, we are taught to have an open line with God. It typically crops up in every church sermon and it’s practiced in every religious setting. That open line is prayer. We are taught to bring it all to God (even though He already knows what is going on). However, we are not encouraged to talk to each other as openly as we are to express ourselves to God. God hears all our stressors, dirty secrets, desires, pain, and even joy but we leave out a lot of things with the important people in our lives.

Lack of communication destroys relationships! Lack of communication breeds misconceptions. Lack of communication creates hurt, animosity and sometimes it allows our thoughts to run amuck. Even though most of us know this, it is sometimes the hardest act in which to engage. Why is it so hard to share with the people closest to you? No one wants to take blame or admit wrong. No one wants to offend the other person. No one wants to point out the speck in the other person’s eye or your own. No one wants to experience that awkward moment(s). No one wants to be uncomfortable.

So, in a marriage, when one spouse is hurt or unhappy it’s easier to shut up and ignore. In a friendship, when the bond starts to loosen, it’s easier to think the worse than talk about the problem. In a parent-child relationship, it’s customary to say that each does not understand the other due to the age and culture gap. I can go on about the mountain of excuses we tell ourselves because we are too uncomfortable with being open and honest.

For me, I have made similar mistakes with people in my life. The irony is that my job requires me to ask tough and some times uncomfortable questions in which I won’t even blink an eye. To put the importance of communication in prospective then think about: How many times have we dated and even marry the wrong person because we are uncomfortable to openly communicate about things that bother you? How many marriages have been destroyed because the easier road is to find solace in someone else’s arms or push a person away rather than deal with your problems? How many good friendships have been loss because we choose not to speak up?

While I pride myself on being outspoken (a confidence which has increased with age), I do have my moments when it is easier to let things go even though I knew something was wrong. I need to take blame for being a poor communicator at times. One would think that I should know better because this is what I do and teach for a living.

However, in a recent incident in which I was close to writing off a good friendship, I have learned that I need to do better with my communication with people who are important. I saw my mistakes after they happened and I did not take the responsibility to address them in a timely manner. The funny thing is that once “the elephant was acknowledge” it became so clear how a simple misunderstanding could have been resolved before it became an ongoing issue. It was one of those Whiskey Tango-Foxtrot moments that could have been avoided.

So, the question is how many important relationships have you screwed up/unhappy with because you were too uncomfortable to openly communicate? What are you going to do differently to become a better communicator?