Monthly Archives: September 2012

Love in the Age of Smartphones

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The Universe lacks a person more devoted to their iPhone than I.  Ever since H2 insisted we change phone plans (yes, we are still on the same family phone plan, it is just easier that way for us and the kids) to get iPhones my life has been transformed.  That sounds a bit melodramatic and materialistic but I derive joy from the freedom a smart phone affords me as a writer.Plus I can record interviews, email, text and navigate with one beautifully simple and easy to use tool that miraculously fits in my purse or back pant pocket.

As a person who is terrible with names yet must, as a journalist, keep up with a vast list of contacts, the contact photo feature is a godsend.  I can take or upload a photo of people I need to remember and attach it to their contact information and that photo will pop up when that person calls (as long as that number is linked to them in my data base).  iPhone contacts also lets me assign people ringtones so I have another way of identifying someone before I even look at my phone.

The custom ringtone is something that I give only to very important special people in my life, like my daughter, my son, ex-husband (it is good to know when to ignore the phone) and certain good friends. So in this age of smartphone special ringtone technology, assigning a unique ringtone to a man I am seeing signifies that my feelings have reached a certain level of interest. It means that the man has become more than a friend and I want to know when he is calling separate from all other callers.  That translates into status in Mary’s world.

A while ago I briefly dated a man whom I upgraded to special ringtone status. I actually searched for the song and downloaded the ringtone (a first for me, all other custom ringtones in my phone are farmed from the iPhone ringtone list).  Then when it became apparent that things were not working out for us, I decided his contact information should be stripped of its “special” status and changed his ringtone to my standard. I committed this act while standing in the checkout line at Whole Foods and in my usual fashion mentioned the act to the man standing behind me in line.  He flashed a knowing smile and said, “A sign of the times,yes?”

A sign of the times, indeed.

Finding Joy in the Moment

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One thing I am learning from dating at this stage in my life is to be in the moment.

One of the side effects of growing up in whitewashed upper middle class suburbia of the  1960’s and ’70’s is a learned lack of emotional expressiveness.  In other words,  people did not discuss their feelings.  In fact there was considerable effort in educating me to keep my feelings to myself rather than teaching me appropriate ways of expressing them.  My mother would say things to me like, “That is not nice,” when I would express negative feelings rather than directing me to a better way of phrasing them or some other way of communicating them appropriately. This taught repression of feelings manifested itself in me as a formidable stubbornness and a nasty streak of judgementalism.

After my last serious romantic encounter, which ended more than a year ago, I discovered that I had lost countless hours of my life “waiting”. When I was in my early thirties, I had a falling out with my father.  I felt that during my first divorce he had favored my ex-husband over me and I was angry.  I cut off much of my relationship I had with him and began to wait for the right moment to tell him how I felt and re-connect.  I  over a decade for circumstances to be perfect to have our little talk and make amends and it never happened.  He died before I deemed the environment “right” and I never made one iota of effort to create that environment. When I discovered that H2 was an alcoholic, I waited for years for him to get sober so we could have a “real” marriage.  Finally, after eight years of waiting, I gave up, unable to tolerate the anguish of watching him kill himself slowly and noticing the effect of the disease on our family.  Then I fell madly in love with a man who was simply unavailable to me. Again, I waited for years for circumstances to be just right so we could start having a “real” relationship to no avail.    I interpreted my ability to wait until things were just right to do “whatever” as patience but in reality is was me putting a block in front of true connection. I was stubborn in that things had to be my way first before I would give an inch.  I was judgemental in believing that my way was the best way and things had to be the  way I wanted before they were “right”.

The seeds of anger and resentment find purchase in the fertile soil of stubbornness and judgementalism.  Anger and resentment further prevent us from connecting with others and retards our emotional, spiritual and mental growth. German film maker, Volker Shchlondorff, even explores the idea of the arrest of physical development caused by these two emotions in his 1979  film adaptation of Guntar Grass’ novel The Tim Drum in which the main character, Oskar, decides to stop growing at the age of three after learning that his fate has been pre-decided for him. Buddhists believe that growth is our purpose in our earthly existence and therefore it is super important to obliviate any obstacles to our growth.  A Buddhist answer to eliminating the obstacles of anger and resentment is to live in the moment rather than the future.  When one engages in waiting, one is attached to an expectation of the future. Attachment is suffering. The future is non-existant therefore it is fantasy.  The only reality there is is the present moment. So in order to grow and eliminate as much suffering as possible one must release attachment- particularly attachment to non-reality (as in the future).

I strive to release attachment and thus minimize the suffering in my life.  In terms of dating this is excellent advice.  If I am locked on an outcome of a dating situation, then I am certainly stuck in non-reality of a future expectation and cannot fully appreciate the beauty of the moment or truly get to know another person (which is essential in assessing them as a potential long term mate).

So from now on, I will effort to be present in the dating moment.  To enjoy the process of meeting people and noticing how I feel when I am around them, engaged in conversation and participating in whatever activity we have chosen to get to know each other.  Other than keeping in mind that I want a committed long-term relationship, I can relax into my heart and get the hell out of my head and make decisions about who I spend time with based on the reality of the moment and what my heart tells me.  (My wise heart, not the stupid one.) 😉

 

“The stubbornness I had as a child has been transmitted into perseverance. I can let go but I don’t give up. I don’t beat myself up about negative things.”
Phylicia Rashad

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/stubbornness.html#gtMHUAc1pTFrvp5J.99

 

 

What to wear: First Weekend Away

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So you are in the middle of life and you are dating.  Good for you!  You have met someone you like and have been going out for a while then he invites you to join him for a weekend away.  This is a great opportunity to get to know how you interact over a longer period of time than a date and how well you travel together- because we all know that being away with someone is quite different than being with them in familiar environs.  For one thing, if you get tired or bored, you can’t just leave and go back to your own space, you have to problem solve and work it out.

The first weekend away may also brings up some wardrobe issues – particularly what to wear to bed.  If you have already been sleeping with this guy you may have a no-brainer answer to this question like, “Duh, Mary, Chanel #5.”  But some of us get chilly at night and post romantic encounter may want a little something on to keep us comfortable while actually sleeping.  If you have yet to explore a physical relationship and this might be the first time you go there (This may seem obvious but please know that a man who takes you somewhere overnight probably expects a full out sexual encounter unless otherwise agreed  and you are staying in separate rooms) then you must decide what message you wish to send with your sleepwear.

A friend recently asked my advice on this subject and I recalled experiencing this same dilemma a few years ago (Ugh! has it really been that long since I was away for a weekend with a man?). She is going away with a man she has been dating a few months and even though the weekend centers around a particular hobby of his, she feels that it is something of a landmark in their relationship. She wants to wear something nice to sleep in but is finding it difficult to find sophisticated, comfortable, affordable and sexy but not slutty or silly sleepwear.  I also like a little coverage when I am sleeping with something on.  So here are my suggestions:

1. I like something that is classic and simple like this Calvin Klein night shirt I found on Zappo’s for $43.00:

It is classic and flattering. The shirt tail comes down low enough for good coverage and the V-neckline is tastefully sexy . It is perfect if the AC is too low or the weather is a bit chilly.

2. If you tend to be warm when you sleep, I like this simple yet slightly playful Natori Lhasa Gown in Grey (also on Zappo’s):

It looks comfortable and sophisticated without being fussy or overly dramatic. May be a bit pricey though at $130.00. The y also offer a less expensive version without the lace that I really like as well.

3.  This option from Nordstrom.com is an upscale play on shirt and shorts pj’s in tangerine:

 

(Sorry the picture  is so small).  It is on sale for $51.00.

 

Do you have any other resources you would like to suggest?

 

 

Spanish Holiday Part Catorce: The last of the Boys of summer for now

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It is Labor Day here in the States.  Summer is officially over and so is my story of my thrice years past trip to Spain (final installment below).  To update you: “Ricardo” and I are still friends never lovers, Kirana and I are in cahoots off and on about organizing a spiritual cultural  trip for women to Catalunya to fill their spirits (hot younger men not included) my divorce is final as of August 2009 and I am trying to figure out how to get to India to travel with my guru, Valma to celebrate my 50th this coming February for another transformational spiritual journey to kick off the second half of my life.  As I write this preamble, I am tearful with gratitude for my Spanish adventure, the wonderful people I met and the gift of confidence and self -worth it afforded me. I encourage all the single ladies to screw up their courage and do something that scares them in order to accomplish the same.

For inspiration, I offer this quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days…What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has Magic, Power and Genius in it.”

Thank you for reading and enjoy the last little bit o Spanish Holiday…

Kirana takes me to the Hotel Palou, a tobacco baron’s mansion turned into cool bed and breakfast featuring 10 unique rooms with furniture made by a local artist.  It is a lovely place one block behind the yoga studio.  There is a pool in the back and a quaint dining room for breakfasts.  My room has twin beds,  a cool slate bath area and a window that opens up to the street.

There is a concert tonight at Kirana’s Studio, Sathya, (www.sathyamusic.com) is the man’s name.  He has two other musicians with him a sitar player called Shambo and a gorgeous Brazilian woman named Liliana who also sings.  The concert is held in the studio’s beautiful courtyard where Krishna Das once performed.  All of the concerts are instigated by people who want to play there, Kirana never promotes the space to musicians rather they find the space and approach her.  It is quite karmic that way.  The space is truly magical.  It is naturally festooned with purple and pink flowers and native Spanish plants draping over the walls.  There is a fish pond in the left hand corner spiked with water lilies.  The stage is a large concrete rectangular block that extends long ways along the right hand side of the courtyard. I is draped with Indian tapestries to soften the look of it. There are Buddha statues placed in natural “shelves” in the earthen and rock walls.  Mats cover the pebbled ground with mediation cushions strewn about to provide comfortable seating for the 26 patrons that eventually filter in to watch and listen.

The band begins by lighting candles and greeting the crowd with “Namaste” and a three minute silent meditation. The atmosphere transforms from peaceful garden to a place of musical mysticism as the group breaks the silence with a chant honoring the Hindu god, Ganesh. The repetition of the mantra increases or “reveals” its power. The audience participates in a call and response chant, starting out rather meekly and quietly and building in enthusiasm as the pace increased reaching a fever pitch with clapping and some swaying or head bobbing movements.  The soul cleansing aspect of the experience becomes apparent as the night continues and I begin to feel lighter and my spirit flowing more freely in the communal space of the Universe.

Later, Sathya explains that what they do for a crowd is far from a performance, it is a musical meditation, part of his yogic path.  “It is about being yourself in the moment, being in that space to provide a way to let the divine flow through you.”

It is a beautiful night and after hugs and goodbyes, I head up the hill to the hotel Palou to sleep knowing that tomorrow is my last full day in Spain for this trip.

The details of this last day are fuzzy in my mind.  I apparently recorded my adventures in a separate journal and have in three years since having lived through a divorce, a torturous year with my daughter in the wrong school,  re-entry into dating world, selling my house and moving twice since, I have forgotten the details – go figure.  Anyway, I do know that I went into Barcelona proper and met up with a professor of business at some University, an older gentleman I met by contacting the Quaker Friends Meeting of Barcelona who showed me all over town while stopping frequently to eat tapas and sip coffee or Cava (whichever was most needed at the moment).  I remember going through some huge gardens and stopping in a cool little boutique and buying a fabulous blue cotton dress that I still own and wear to this day.  I also must have ended up at Gaudi’s Casa Batllo because I remember touring it and taking oodles of pictures.  I have a vaugue recollection of Kirana picking me up and riding the train back to Sitges but I fail to recall how I spent my last night on that trip.  Certainly it was a quiet affair, I think I cooked dinner for Kirana and her guests at her house and walked back to the hotel.  The next morning though, breakfast was disturbed by a parade outside and everyone staying at the Palou went out on the front slate veranda to watch.  It is the Bal De Diablos in relationship to some Saints Day or something.  There are lots of teenagers dressed as devils shooting off fire crackers, drummers and big statue/puppet like things being carried through the streets.  The kids all look hungover and tired but they are out there parading anyway.  I watch for a while then go inside to pack.  I notice that I arrive in San Pere on a festival day an I am leaving on one as well.  Kirana, wonderful hostess that she is, is driving me to the airport to catch my flight to Paris then on to the States.

The remainder of the morning is a blur.  Kirana comes to get me and we say a tearful curbside farewell.  I go through the regular security checks et al and end up on a plane.

From here I have my notes:  I am fighting back tears as the plane rom Barcelona ascends.  My heart is breaking, already mourning the end of my trip.  Like taking the last sip form a bottle of good champagne- the sparkle is finished, the good times ended for now and soon reality will smack me in the face made more harsh by the memory of so much heady fun.  I really do feel as though a piece of me is torn off and left in Spain.  It is painful at present but I know it simply means I will return.  The whirlpool of love, friendship, kindness, generousity, spirituality, joy, sensitivity and celebration of wisdom- a metaphor for the important things in life. The seeds of possibility planted, I wait curiously to see how they will come to fruition.

If  I have one regret from this adventure it is that I did not have sex with Ricardo.  Who knows when I will have such an opportunity again.  But the Universe is functioning perfectly and I am satisfied that I made the right decision.


I will be happy to see my family though I did not miss them. I look forward to being reunited with them in my new state of being- my heart is opening and it feels divine.  Still I feel I shall cry for days and days.  Rivers of tears that this part of my journey is finished.  I will not cry on the plane as filling my nasal passages with snot at this point would be excruciating and… besides, you just never know who you might meet on the plane.

FIN