Category Archives: Philosophical

The Dance Audition

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images All of my friends know that I am passionate about dancing.  It all started when one of my older sisters taught me how to Pony at the age of three.  By age six I was in ballet class.  Years passed by learning tap, modern and jazz and by age 14 I was dancing weekly in disco clubs aka Saturday Night Fever.  Cotillion introduced me to ballroom dances like the waltz but also social dances like ChaCha, Foxtrot, Jitterbug and Swing and I am pretty sure it is a requirement to learn to Shag in order to graduate from private school in Richmond, Va where I grew up. I spent the better part of my college and early career years in dance clubs bumping and grinding to my hearts content and people love me to attend their weddings because they know I will decorate the dance floor for hours at the reception.  In fact I met my second husband while dancing (click here for story). You get the picture. So now my dance habit manifests itself with Latin.  Usually, at least once a week I squeeze in a lesson and and hour of  spicy Salsa or sensual Bachata seasoned with the occasional Cha cha thrown in depending on the mood of the DJ. And I LOVE IT. It is my way to relax, socialize and zen out of my usual world while getting some serious exercise. But one of the best things about social dancing is how it defines character and relationship potential. One’s approach to and execution of a dance is a litmus test for their way of relating to people which is why usually on the second or third date I invite a man to go dancing with me.  I know that dancing may not be a priority in a man’s life but trust me, this works.  Here’s what I can learn through this process.

1. How the invitation happens – Usually somewhere in the first conversations the question of “What do you like to do for fun?” emerges.  Part of my answer naturally includes dancing, the mere mention of which often evokes a look of terror on the face of the man who asked. Fearful or not, how he responds is what is important. If he clearly states within seconds that he will never get on a dance floor for any reason, I know that there is a lack of open mindedness that could inhibit a good relationship.  If he offers to come dance with me despite his fear of making an ass of himself on the dance floor, he earns major points for being a good sport and showing at least a supportive interest in something that is meaningful to me.  If he enthusiastically jumps at the chance to invite himself along mentioning a long time desire to learn how to dance, he is on his way to winning my heart because he has demonstrated a definite interest in something for which I am passionate with the potential to share the experience in the long term. And if he tells me he already  enjoys dancing, well then, he gets an instant invitation to prove his mettle on the dance floor (sometimes people pleasers will tell me they dance and they really don’t or reveals blatant red flags on the dance floor and must be banished from the potential mate list immediately.

2. How the man does at the lesson- Does he pay attention to the instructor and do his best to grasp the basics?  His attention span dictates his level of commitment.  Usually, I am not paying much attention to him during the lesson since the partners are rotated.  Since I live in a world of many social events it is important for a partner to be able to handle this type of social activity where I may have to be attentive to other people- some people can handle that, others not so well.

3. Making it flow- It would be ridiculous to expect a first time dancer to be able to dance well after one lesson. Even seasoned dancers must practice a new step for a while before they are good at it.  The key is can he keep time with the music and let go enough to at least have fun.  When my high-school flame came to visit me a couple of years ago, we went salsa dancing and even though he didn’t get the steps, we had a blast just improvising on the dance floor in time to the music.  Relationships must have ” flow “( that magic of just being in the zone) even if the two of you are doing something different than everybody else.

4. Indication of relationship potential- Social dancing is about clear communication, allowing your partner to be themselves and a willingness to be in the moment.  The leader of the dance must clearly and gently communicate the desired dancing pattern, the follower must be open to feeling those communications and trusting of the leader.  The follower will only trust the leader if the leader provides clear direction, otherwise the follower is confused and may try to guess the movement which usually ends in disaster – just like in normal relationships.  When there is clear communication and willingness to receive it, then the dance is harmonious even when each partner dances with their own style and flair. Clear communication comes from confidence.  If a man gets out there and is a disaster at dancing that is fine but how he handles that indicates how he will handle other difficult situations. The real jerk will blame someone or something like the DJ or the instructor for his ineptitude. He will be closed minded about suggestions from seasoned dancers.  The total ass will say he knows how to dance, prove himself to be a liar and be a pain to dance with. I literally had a guy tell me he danced Salsa for nearly a decade and when we danced, he wasn’t even doing the basic step correctly which made our steps out of synch. He stepped on my feet three times in one dance and jerked my arms so forcefully to spin (also out of time with the music due to the incorrect step) that both my shoulders hurt the next day. Another of his partners stopped him mid-dance  to show him the basic step at which he became super offended and wanted to leave. That was a very clear message and explained a lot about why he was single, his questionable employment and basic attitude of limitation.

A good man who has trouble with dancing is honest about it laughs it off and comes up with a solution to dancing that is right for him whether it is not dancing or taking lessons but whichever he chooses he does it with confidence and grace.  A good dancing man knows how to send signals appropriately and respectfully and improvise when needed. So you see why it is important for me to take potential mates dancing? It is not necessarily about the physical aspect- though it can be nice to see how a man moves- it is more about relationship potential assessment than anything else.

Maybe you have a good way to assess relationship potential.  If so, share.

Dollars and Dating: social issues with differences in incomes

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Money like sex appeal isn't everything but it is part of the total package.

Money like sex appeal isn’t everything but it is part of the total package.

During a post movie watching critique session of THE NOTEBOOK (It was the first time I had seen it- I know I live in a box- whatever, it is done now.) the other night, a male friend posed this question, “Why is it in romantic movies it is the scruffy, working class male who gets involved with the high class daughter of a wealthy family?  You rarely see the revers.” We pondered this and could only name one film where the socio-economic roles of the lovers were reversed (in love stories where there is an economic disparity).

As a possible solution, I offered up the concept that when women are the party on the low end of the economic stick it is considered “gold digging” if she gets involved with a wealthy man.  That is almost like saying she is a prostitute in our culture.

Although I am a big proponent of both men and women having some source of income in order to feel independent in a relationship AND I feel that staying in a bad relationship for the sake of access to money or financial stability (an illusion) is horrific and demoralizing,it is important to remember that income is only one factor in a relationship and should be considered as such.

Money is an important subject in the dating arena but like sex, it is a taboo topic of conversation. And just like sex, money or the lack there of can be a deal breaker.

I had a few conversations with a potential date recently about money.  He is a doctor and I am a freelance writer/yoga teacher. He expressed a concern about being pursued solely for his income. Seeing as how he knew nothing about me, I forgave him for suggesting that that might be the case with me since our incomes were so utterly far apart and said something about how character is more important to me than income (leaving out the part that someone with more attractive character might be more tactful and get to know me better rather than making such a statement). But frankly I get tired of defending my choice to date men with higher incomes than mine- which would include anyone whose annual income exceeds that of an third world factory worker.

I have been accused, more than once, of being a gold digger for that very reason.  It is true, I have dated some wealthy men in my life.  But if I didn’t marry the guy with the ten million dollar trust fund, the guy who had  twenty-six million dollars in the bank from a very sweet business deal or the brain surgeon with an income of almost seven figures annually (and no kids), WHY on earth would I marry a man who was bringing in around $350,000.00 annually simply FOR HIS MONEY!?!?! Plus my track record shows that I tend to marry financially challenged men.

I get that no one wants to be pursued solely for their money just like no one wants to be pursued solely for sex. But it is a sticky situation. I am offended when men seem to focus on sex when they pursue me but conversely I want any potential long term partner to find me sexually attractive.  I want him to like that part of me as well as other attributes. How much money you have is part of the total package rather than a singular motivation for a relationship.

Marilyn Monroe had a brilliant line as  Lorelei Lee  in Gentleman Prefer Blonds regarding being accused of being a gold digger by the father of the rich man she wants to marry:

 

Lorelei Lee: If you had a daughter would you want her to marry someone poor?

Mr. Esmond Sr. (Father of Rich Man): Of course.

Lorelei Lee:  Then why is it bad when I want to marry someone rich? Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?

Mr. Esmond Sr.: Say, they told me you were stupid! You certainly don’t seem stupid to me!

Lorelei Lee: I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.

 

After years of struggling as the wife of an alcoholic with an income constantly in flux and teetering on the brink of financial ruin, then scraping by as a single mom, of course financial stability is a requirement in a potential mate. But it is far from a singular motivation to be with someone.

Opening the Door to Love

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Last summer I wrote about a trip to Spain that fed my spirit (and ego- a tad) and how important I think travel is as a means for instigating a state of presence.  Click here to read the first installment of Spanish Holiday: Part of the Boys of Summer Series.

This summer I have been working on a book about Ayruveda, the yogic path for health and long life, incorporating Ayurvedic practices into my daily schedule while participating in Depak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge: Miraculous Relationships  AND I checked off a bucket list item by traveling to Tibet.  All of these activities have been feeding my spirit and helping me grow in the understanding of the abundance of love that surrounds me in my life.  The better I learn to love myself, the better able I am to be compassionate towards, patient with and loving of everyone else.  I am better able to love myself through the self-care techniques I am learning from Ayurveda and by calming my mind with yoga, mediation, pranayama (breathing exercises) and eating healthfully. The world is becoming an eternal summer of 1969 where I am finally emerging from the fear and anxiety that has prevented me from truly connecting with people for most of my life.  Every person I come in contact with of late seems to be an opportunity to connect- even if it is just for a fleeting moment.

It is all very exciting.

I feel like I am finally ready- REALLY ready- to look for a lifelong love partner.

I promise to write about the Tibetan adventure in the coming months.  It was an amazing journey of self discovery, surprising and stimulating on so many levels. I left Charlottesville alone and returned with seven new best friends, my new tribe.

But I wanted to share information about a dream trip to India hosted by my Guru, Valma Brenton as soon as possible.  If you have ever wanted to go to India or just want to experience what I am talking about when I say traveling is like being in a constant state of mindfulness, you may want to explore this trip further.  Valma is a remarkable woman, teacher and leader.  Oh, and before I forget this trip is for women only (sorry guys- that is the way Valma rolls.  She feels that some  women simply feel safer in a group of women).

Here is the information about her trip to India:

HERIZEN INDIA SPIRITUAL YOGA ADVENTURE

Feel free to pass this along to everyone you know.

Money blog coming soon…

Best,

Mary

Cad Online?

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I know I have blogged about this before but a recent event has prompted me to re-pose this question:

Why do attached people sign up for online dating sites and represent themselves as single?

It is hard enough to find single people to date when one is in the middle of life.  Do you attached folks really have to dive into our pool and make things difficult for those of us who actively want to stay out of trouble?  for those of us who are actually, purposefully seeking a long-term mate?

I know there are plenty of single, involved or married people out there who would love to meet up with you attached people and have all sorts of fun – and that is fine as long as you are all honest with each other about your status and what you want from a relationship with each other. But could we PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE end the misrepresentation and lying?

You wonderful regular readers are probably wondering what incident set me off this time.  Well, I am so looking forward to sharing this one….

Last Sunday morning the weather here in Central Virginia was disgusting so I hunkered down in my cozy bed (my favorite place in the world) did some writing and caught up on emails.  There were a few SPAM emails that had slipped through and one was for an online dating site that specializes in matching people over 50 called Our Time.  Just for giggles I decided to pop on, fill out a cursory profile and take a gander at what is out there in my geographic area. (If you would like to read about the last time I did something like this click here.) I am scrolling through the multiple photos of moustached men in flannel shirts and cowboy hats sitting on tractors (pretty funny since this is Virginia, not Kansas) and a rather poorly exposed photo of what seems to be a good-looking man catches my eye.  “Hmmmm,” thought I, “This man looks vaguely familiar.”  But I can’t really see his face so I open up his profile and commence reading his self-description.  The words are all too familiar.  I have heard them before from a specific person. I double-check the photo and discover two more pics.  I click. Low and behold it is Mr. Nice Change of Pace from last spring (click here to read first “date” story and here to discover the outcome).

I am flabbergasted.

As far as any mutual friends know Mr. Nice Change of Pace and his girlfriend remain a couple – at least as of a few weeks ago.

So this question immediately pops into my head:

a) Is Mr. Nice Change of Pace the honest, sweet, thoughtful man I thought he was/think he is?

OR

b) Is he a cad that seeks the attention, company and affection of other women behind his girlfriend’s back?

Since the girlfriend has clearly indicated she is uninterested in me contacting her (and frankly, I feel the same way), I will have to trust that the Universe will divulge the answer to this query at the appropriate time.

Which brings me back to…

People who lie about their relationship status ruin the game for  honest folks. It complicates online dating, creating a dangerous environment requiring all manner of caution that inhibits one’s ability to be open to possibilities.  There are countless sad stories of people getting unknowingly involved with married men or women from meeting online and suffering the consequences.

There are sites for attached people who want to hook up with other people and the people who want to hook up with them. Fox Business News did a story about them.  Click here for a link to that story.

I invite attached people to just go to those sits and stay off sites meant for single people. Then we might all be a little happier. 🙂

 

Disclaimer:  I am not suggesting that Mr. Nice Change of Pace is unavailable at this time or that he is a dishonest person. I have no definitive proof of his relationship status. I am only relating that I found his profile with 3 pictures that appear to be recent and a nicely written essay about himself, what he is looking for  on a paid online dating service which prompted me to think about how often attached people sign up on dating sites.

Men to Avoid: Guys who go to strip clubs

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Burlesque celebrates feminin sexuality.

Burlesque celebrates feminin sexuality.

A good friend gave me a fun read recently, Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I must admit that I fail to agree with all of Moran’s musings on a definition for modern feminism but I did get some good laughs.  Moran earned my nod of approval in her chapter titled, I Go Lap Dancing. Via a witty recount of a night she went to a high end strip club, Spearmint Rhino, in the mid-90’s with another female journalist to conduct research for a story and gulp down free champagne.

Moran points out in her story that strip clubs are depressing places and she is right.  As part of a social experiment when I was in college, I went with my male friend JB to a small strip club in the afternoon.  He wanted to see if the men in the club would behave differently with a “regular” woman in the club. They did, according to him, tone it down a bit but it was sad.  So impersonal.  The women all looked so bored, distracted, as if they were going through the motions and not enjoying performing at all.  The men also looked bored and some downright despondent. It must be sad if you have to pay someone money to stick their twat in your face rather than being someone has someone do it because they like you.

This is not my only strip club experience.  Back in the late ’80’s I lived at 20th and Park Ave South in New York City, a then rather dull neighborhood just at the very beginning of becoming someplace anyone would want to be.  There was a high end strip club right around the corner from my apartment and sometimes when I was coming home from a night out and I looked respectable or at least dressed up, the bouncers would invite me and my posse in for a drink as a way of being neighborly. It was pretty much the same depressing dynamic as the tiny little titty bar I visited with JB but in a posh setting with a lot more money being exchanged.  The girls were gorgeous but they all had fake boobs- beautiful boobs but fake all the same.  I know because they would tell us all about it while seated at the bar after their shifts. And they were all “just doing this go pay for graduate/medical/law school”- which made me laugh just imagining the reaction of some guy getting rolled into the ER having a heart attack and recognizing his doctor from her days in the club or a judge recalling that very special lap dance the defense attorney performed for him on his Birthday a few years back while she is giving closing arguments.

Anyway…

These girls were making loads of cash.  $500 to $1,000.00 a night and sometimes more (which in todays dollars would be about $1,500 to $3,000 on a regular night).  They would tell me if I got my boobs done I could make that kind of money too but alas, I chose working in retail over a career as a stripper possibly proving once again that I am a financial moron. But really I declined because I think, as Moran does, that women should be in control of their sexual energy and that objectification of women is sexist and fundamentally wrong.

As Moran so eloquently puts it, “No man who ever cared for or wanted to impress a woman made her stand in front of him and take her knickers off to earn her cab fare home.”

But …

Moran does support Burlesque Dancing (and I agree with her on this) because in Burlesque, unlike stripping, the woman is in control.  She is celebrating her creativity, her sexuality. She is enjoying herself as she performs for an entire audience of men and women.  Burlesque is empowering and feels communal and comfortable to women in the audience.

She writes:

“Perhaps as a direct consequence, burlesque artists treat their own sexuality as something fabulous and enjoyable- rather than soothing bordering on a weapon, to be ground, unsmilingly, into the face of the sweaty idiot punter below.

…burlesque clubs fell like a place for girls.  Strip clubs- despite the occasional presence of a Spice-Girl, ten years ago – do not. Watching good burlesque in action, you can see female sexuality;a performance constructed with the values system of a woman: beautiful lighting, glossy hair, absurd accessories (giant cocktail glasses; huge feather fans), velvet corsets, fashionable shoes, Ava Gardner eyeliner, pale skin, classy manicures, humor, and a huge round of applause at the end- instead of an uncomfortable, half-hidden erection and silence.

Burlesque artists have names- Dita von Teese, Gypsy Rose Lee, Immodesty Blaize, Tempst Storm, Miss Dirty Martini- that make them sound liek sexual superheroes,  They explore a culture that allows them to do, creatively, as they please,  They are dames, broads, and women- rather than the slightly cold-looking girls you see in strip clubs,  Their personas embrace the entire spectrum of sexuality- fun, wit, warmth, inventiveness, innocence, power, darkness- rather than the bloodless aerobics of the podium.”

The difference is the attitude. Stripping is objectification while Burlesque is empowering.  Men who enjoy the objectification of women are bad news.  They may seem perfectly wonderful on the surface. They are usually very charming and flirty.  Objectifiers give nice presents- usually something that makes them look equally good in an egotistical way and decorate the object – like nice jewelry or fur coats. They like beautiful well dressed women – arm candy. They equate expenditures on dinners out, trips and gifts as payment for sexual favors and may get cross if you fail to agree with that concept. They will be the first to express dismay if you gain a pound or two.

It is as satisfying to have a relationship with a person who thinks of you as an object as it is for you to have a relationship with a rock.

One woman told me her story of going out with a man she met online.  She had only ever dated one man in her life, her former husband of 30 + years and had little idea of what dating would be like.  She met the man at a restaurant.  He talked mostly about himself at dinner then as they were leaving the restaurant asked her if she would like to sit in his car and chat for a few more minutes.  Seeing nothing wrong with that she complied. Once she was in the car he ambushed kissed her and began groping her breasts.  When she pulled back in horror his response was, “Well, I bought you dinner didn’t I?”

Charming.

Men to Avoid: The Wafflers

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Henley Street Theatre Company in Richmond, Virginia has an annual tradition of performing a Bootleg version of a Shakespearean play.  (To learn more about the concept click here to link to an article I wrote about this years production.)  I love this event for it’s irreverence and raw energy so in late October I took a road trip to my  town of origin to see a Bootleg version of Hamlet.  The show delivered all the mayhem I could possibly want including gay sailors as messengers, a pot smoking, video- game playing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,  on- stage head shaving and a dual fought with foam floaty noodles. The Bootleg forces one to see a play with fresh eyes and so I did.  For the first time I really understood why Ophelia goes mad;  because Hamlet is inconsistent with his affections – which, if you have ever been involved with a person like this, you know, is enough to drive one completely bonkers.

Shakespeare is teaching us an important relationship lesson: Avoid the person who waffles because they are ultimately incapable of having a mature relationship.  Now I am not talking about the normal ebbs and flows of relationship growth here.  They are like two steps forward and one step back kinds of things, a dance with an ultimate forward momentum.  I am referring to the person who is all about you one moment then falls off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks then returns with the force of a tsunami, all flowers and expensive dinners, etc.  They practically propose marriage and when you respond with equal enthusiasm they freak and ask to cool things a bit -which turns out to actually be a lot. You’re on, you’re off.  You don’t know whether to make plans even a couple of weeks in the future because your relationship seems to be constantly on shifting sands.

This particular brand of “Crazy Maker” people can be overly emotional or overly emotionally committed somewhere else causing their dramatic emotional shape-shifting.

In the January 2012 issue of Psychology  Today article titled: Are You With The Right Mate?, the author offers the following as character traits that inhibit  the likelihood of a  functional relationship:

” chronic lying; chronic worrying or neuroticism; emotional overreactivity; proneness to anger; propensity to harbor grudges; low self-esteem; poor impulse control; tendency to aggression; self-orientation rather than an other-orientation.”

(Addicts are deemed as incapable of functioning relationships earlier in the article.)

The article also notes that persistent stress factors outside of the relationship sabotage the likelihood of a durable bond. All of these are part of the hyper emotional situation. These stresses could be caused by health issues, dealing with aging parents, career dissatisfaction, problematic family members or a hundred other things.

Back to the Hamlet reference:

The Danish Prince yo-yo’s Ophelia to distraction. For example: At one point, he has got his head in Ophelia’s lap and is lovey and smiley. A few minutes later  he yells at her to “get the to a nunnery”.  He is all wrapped up in other emotional stuff  like grieving for his dead father, seeking to avenge his father’s murder and anger at his mom for her quick marriage to his uncle, the murderer.  Even though he loves her, it is impossible for him to accept Ophelia’s love and commit to her. Until he can work out how to balance his need for intimacy with his fear of it (With his family background who would be comfortable with a romance?), he is blocked – emotionally unavailable.

Ophelia, who has been led to believe by Hamlet that he intends to marry her, is caught in a whirlpool of mixed messages causing her to mistrust her instincts. Ultimately she ends up so delusional she drowns in a few feet of water.

If you come across a person who emotionally waffles, RUN in the opposite direction otherwise you may find yourself forfeiting your personal power and drowning in a pond of  neurosis -which is a huge waste of your time and totally un-fun. Even Shakespeare knew that.

A Study in the Disconnect Between Men and Women

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smokeylady vintage image graphicsfairy004b

 

This is just a short note on a big subject.  My friend Candace sent me these “prayers” in an email and it made me laugh so hard I just had to share it.  I fail to know the actual origin of this so apologies for omitting the credit.  Suffice it to say that neither I nor my friend Candace created this but some clever person nailed the difference in how men and women think about relationships in this amusing little blurb.

Here ya go:

                                                                            A WOMAN’S POEM:

Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man who’s not a creep,
One who’s handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long,
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who’ll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he’s rich and self-employed,
And when I spend, won’t be annoyed.
Pull out my chair and hold my hand..
Massage my feet and help me stand.
Oh send a king to make me queen.
A man who loves to cook and clean.
I pray this man will love no other.
And relish visits with my mother.

A MAN’S POEM: 
I pray for a deaf-mute gymnast, nymphomaniac with
big tits who owns a bar on a golf course,
and loves to send me fishing and drinking.. This
doesn’t rhyme and I don’t give a shit.

Note:  The woman’s poem fails to reflect what I want in a man because I think it is a tad too demanding but it does exemplify the way women think and I must admit that there are quite a few things in there that would be on my list – especially the foot massage.  Oh yeah!

Carpe Diem, Everyone!