Friday, December 30, 2011

Using Fantasy To Keep A Relationship Vibrant

A change of pace is always a good way to put a little zing back into your step. Accordingly, to balance the inspirational and educational postings I usually offer, I took a stab at writing the beginnings of a romance novel. Be warned, it's a little X-rated, although, I must admit, this is the toned down version!

Whether in a relationship or not, a little fantasy can keep your imagination lively! And, if you are in a relationship, you might want to forward this posting to your partner as a bit of foreplay.

So, let me know if you think I should switch careers!

Under cover of the stealth of the night she came to him.

Scant moments after passing over the threshold of his house, he slipped his tongue inside her mouth, relentlessly exploring all the dark recesses. His mouth was hot, hard and urgent. Her mind and body exploded with light and color, all the while relishing the damp and velvety-rough feel of his tongue. From deep within his throat, there came a slow and purring, yet hungry, sound.

The air was thick with desire, and their bodies were full of delicious tingling and emotions no longer able to be bound. They ate at each other’s mouths, but that soon was not enough. His hands slid down her body and with one quick movement he pulled her toward him. Grinding his body into hers, he urgently whispered, “I need you right now.”

They tore at their clothes, shedding them all as they still stood in the entryway of his house. He took her right there – hard and fast against the wall with her legs wrapped tightly around his waist. With each searing movement their desire escalated, racing toward the precipice where reason no longer exists. In unison, an absolute and phenomenal release was experienced that managed to shake their bodies as well as their hearts and souls. They continued to cling to each other as their ragged breath and the harsh beating of their hearts started to slow. But their desire did not wane and he took her hand and led her up the stairs ….

As they entered the bedroom, she noticed the mood was set for love making … scented candles flickering, music crooning, and a soft, lilting breeze blowing in from the open window.

He first led her to the shower where they could renew their bodies from the frantic and hurried coupling that had taken place. He tested the water, making sure it was the perfect temperature before allowing it to touch his beloved’s delicate skin. She joined him, and this shower together became a dance of love.

Lips quenched their thirst from the rivulets pouring off their bodies. Soapy hands stroked throbbing flesh while uninhibitedly exploring and giving delight to each other.

She massaged his head and neck and then continued down as she ran her hands sensuously over his entire body. The exquisiteness of the tension exploded in her hands as she soapily milked him dry. The water had long turned tepid, but the fervor still ran hot.

Stepping out of the shower on weakened legs, she toweled him dry, all the while dripping herself. The cool breeze made her nipples stand at attention, and he leaned in to suckle on her breast. He fanned the flames of desire within her once again and she moaned with delight. He swooped her off her feet and carried her to his bed …

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Facts About Dating

As I twirled around the Internet, I found these random facts about dating and relationships. I’ve included a little commentary in red (my two cents) on some of these stated “facts.”

According to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau report, there were 95.9 million unmarried people in the U.S. of which 47% are men and 53% are women. 

This is a statistic that seems to hold up throughout the years. Women seem to outlive the men. Perhaps this is a good reason to look for a younger man!  Grrr!

Janis Spindel in her book, How To Date Men: Dating Secrets from America’s Top Matchmaker, tells of a study that shows happiness is contagious and that potential dates find it hard to walk away from happy people. One of the highest turn-offs during a date is negativity.

I wholeheartedly agree with this! If you are begrudgingly going out on a date and project an aura of negativity, don’t expect there to be any sparks flying. Conversely, if you are confident and feel good about yourself AND smile at your date, you will create a warm environment that makes your date feel comfortable. “Chemistry” is really overrated. I think people much rather feel comfortable first.

Spindel also says, “A man’s top dating fears include that a woman will come between him and his friends, won’t allow him free time, will turn out to be a stalker, won’t respect him or will be too high maintenance.”

Take an inventory of your behaviors and see if you are exhibiting any of these turn-offs. Of course, these items could also be turn-offs to women. In truth, simply because you are dating someone, it doesn’t mean that the rest of your life gets pushed aside. A new partner should be integrated into your life, which includes seeing friends and also allowing for some alone time to complete tasks or just to relax and rejuvenate. Remember … a little absence can make the heart grow fonder. Give a partner a chance to realize that when the two of you are apart that he/she misses you!

Diane Mapes, author of How To Date in a Post-Dating World, found during her research that four out of ten workplace dating relationships result in marriage. 

This makes sense because these are the people you see every day and with whom you have the most interaction. There are many companies who discourage workplace romances, though, and this precludes one of the best venues for meeting people. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to get involved with your boss or vice versa, for if things don’t work out, it could turn ugly with accusations of sexual harassment. If you are going to date someone within your company, it’s probably better if it is not someone with whom you directly work.

On another note, Mapes reposts that in the online dating world, while women are afraid of meeting a serial killer, men are afraid of meeting someone fat. 

Hmmm… do you think that’s a fair comparison and are these types equally scary? I think not. Sounds like some people need to get their priorities in order.

In their dating tips, reported that “women who post a photo on Internet dating sites receive twice as many email messages as women who don’t. The same study found that men who reported incomes higher than $250,000 received 156% more email than those with $50,000.”

It is important to post a picture with an Internet dating profile. Make sure it is a current one and an accurate representation of you. Internet dating may be a form of blind dating, but participants still want a little preview before contacting a prospective date.

Lisa Daily, in her book Dating Averages: What’s Your Normal?, reports the following.

1. Couples usually wait until 6 to 8 dates before they are willing to enter into an exclusive relationship. 

2. The most common time for breakups is around 3 to 5 months.

3. On average, it takes between 12 to 14 dates before couples will trade house keys.

4. Research shows that men know they’re falling in love after just 3 dates, but women don’t fall in love until date 14.

5. On average, daters will kiss on their second date.

I suppose she did the research to come up with these statistics, but there are no hardfast rules to which to adhere. Every relationship is unique and will proceed at its own pace.

Steve Santagati, in his 2007 book, The Manual, reports:

1. If you want to create an instant link with a date, say his or her name at least twice in the conversation. This show attentiveness and connectedness.

2. Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania studied data from over 10,000 speed daters and found that most people make a decision regarding a person’s attraction within three seconds of meeting.

I do believe we get an instantaneous gut reaction to someone, but real attraction grows once you get to know the person.

Finally, Victoria Zdrock, in her book Dr. Z on Scoring: How To Pick Up, Seduce and Hook Up with Hot Women, provides some insight into the dating process.

1, In a survey of 5,000 singles conducted by, 43% said fresh breath mattered the most before a date, 17% said stylish clothes, 15% said sexy fragrance, 14% said good skin, and 10% said great hair.

2. Studies show that before a man even speaks a word, the way he stands (whether he is slouching or not) counts for over 80% of woman’s first impression.

3. Research has confirmed that women are more attracted to men who wear pheromone-based colognes or aftershaves such as 10X. Studies have also shown that women, who have a stronger sense of smell than men, are particularly attracted to musk and black licorice smells.

4. Body type is important in attracting a date. Studies show that overweight individuals were perceived less favorably than thin or muscular people. Thin individuals were perceived as intelligent but fearful, and muscular individuals were perceived as being healthy, brave, and good looking.

5. Top ten turn-offs for women include cystic acne, raggedy nails, flatulence and belching, missing teeth, body odor, bad breath, hairy nostrils, “man boobs,” “goofy” glasses, and hair “mistakes.”

6. When a man first approaches a woman, she will base 55% of her initial impression of him on his appearance and body language, 38% on his style of speaking, and 7% on what he actually says.

7. If a woman offers to pay for everything, chances are she isn’t that into the date. There’s an unspoken understanding that a man paying for everything is a form of “copulatory gift,” which is almost universal in all animal species.

In conclusion, I think facts about dating and relationships are fun to read and they can be enlightening. I also believe there are some basic dating rules, which include do's and don'ts. However, love is an emotion and it's hard to make it fit into a box. 

My advice: Be discerning about everything you hear and read. Pick and choose which resound with you and which work in your life. You're an individual and your experience will be unique.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Should You Admit Your Real Age on a Dating Profile?

As a society, we are confronted with endless images of airbrushed perfection in magazines, on TV and at the movies. Consequently, it's easy to forget that real people do age.

Not everyone races for Botox and hair dye at the first sign of a few wrinkles and gray hair. In fact, many prefer to embrace the passage of time and are proud that their bodies tell the story of their life ... wrinkles and all.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't always try to look your best, especially when entering the dating arena ... only try not to become obsessed with age, both yours and the ages of your prospective dates.

That said, do you believe that everyone lies – or at least fudges a little bit – on an Internet dating profile? And so, do you ask yourself, "What's the harm in shaving a few years or a few pounds off my profile?"

It's easy to get caught in this trap because you, of course, want to make yourself the most attractive to the most amount of prospective dates. However, just because other people are doing something wrong, does that make it morally okay for you to do it too?

Lying is lying, and there's no getting around it. I think it is always important to tell your real age, height and weight, as well as be honest about your internal characteristics. Posting a current picture that is an accurate representation of how you look is also imperative. After all, if you intend on meeting your prospective dates, you certainly don't want to start with a lie. There's nowhere to go from there except down!

So, the basic rule is tell the truth! Of course, when there are rules, people look for exceptions to them.

Let's say you have just turned 50 and that puts you into a older age category on the Internet dating sites. Young at heart, you are more comfortable with the visibility of the 40-49 age group and wish to remain in that category. 

What are you options and how do you work around this age thing? 

Watch the following video where I offer some suggestions and, perhaps, a change in perspective for you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: 7 Signs That Someone Likes You

You are dating a person who you deem a keeper. How do you know he/she feels that way about you, too? 

No matter how powerful and deep your feelings are, if they are not reciprocated they mean very little. 

Dating limbo, or "sort of dating" someone is a difficult and tiring place to be. Rather than spending your energy on fostering the relationship, you exert it on keeping your feelings in check so you don't scare this prospective mate away.

Always remember that you deserve to be with a person who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with him or her. When a person makes excuses for not calling or spending time together, he/she is telegraphing that the relationship is not important. If this happens repeatedly, don't brush this hint aside.

Conversely, here are 7 signs that indicate your date enjoys being with you and wants to move to the next level.

1. They are curious about you. They ask a lot of questions and seem genuinely interested in the answers because they find everything you say fascinating.

2. They return your phone calls, emails, texts. They are prompt in answering you. They don’t play games, for example they don't worry if their quick response time makes them seem overanxious. Keep in mind that it’s simply polite to answer someone in a timely fashion (in both dating and any other situation).

3. They introduce you to their friends. They are proud to be with you and want to include you in their circle of friends.

4. They want to meet your friends. They want to be included in your circle and come to know the important people in your life.

5. They are dependable. They become your “go-to” person – the one on whom you can depend to help you out when needed. Miles Franklin said, "Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings."

6.They are comfortable just hanging out. The two of you can be with each other in companionable silence and not feel awkward or feel the everpressing need to fill the silence. I'm reminded of what Piglet said to Pooh when he came up from behind him. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." (A.A. Milne)

7. They start using the words we and us. Couple-speak is used with ease. This leads to couple thinking vs. single thinking. Both of you start to think of yourself as a unit, and as Marceline Desbordes-Valmore asked, "Are we not like two volumes of one book?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Creating Magic In Your Life


Wouldn’t it be nice if we each had our own magic wand to wave over our lives and “PRESTO!” our every desire would be fulfilled?

Life doesn’t exactly work that way, but we do have the ability to create magic in our lives every day by adopting a positive attitude and changing our perspective so we can see the lighter side of negatively perceived circumstances.

As a Grief and Relationship Coach, I see my job as sort of a magician, as I work with you so you can come to see the same circumstances through different eyes. A sleight of hand trick, if you will!

It’s my desire to help you make that shift in order to move forward and find your “happily right now.”

In order to get you in a magical state of mind, I’ve created a short video that includes some magic: Durer’s Magic Square.

Please enjoy it and take advantage of my offer at the end!

For a change in perspective, also take advantage of my Holiday Sale on
five of my e-books, which I'm offering for $5/each or all 5 for $20.

A blueprint on how YOU can find love after the loss of a partner from death, divorce or break-up.

A compendium of articles that covers the most asked questions on how to move through grief to find a renewal of body and soul.

The Other Side of the Vail: Spiritual Guidance for Everyday Living
A Spirituality 101 primer written with the premier psychic and my co-author, Melinda Vail.

The ABC’s of the Feelings and Faces of Grief
My newest book (and the first in a series) that describes the feelings and faces of grief from A to Z. There are also 26 actionable suggestions on how to cope with each feeling.

101 Tips on Coping with Grief
101 concise actionable tips on how to move through your grief.

E-Book Titles

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Friendship as a Path to Romance

I often hear from those that have lost a spouse that one of the hardest things for them to witness is an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand. It’s not so much the romance they wistfully lament but the implied companionship that this couple is sharing. After all, friendship is the foundation upon which all lasting romantic relationships are built.

If you are not having much luck in the romance department, try another avenue to solve this dilemma. Take some time to concentrate on simply making new friends. An added benefit of new friends is that it exponentially expands your social circle, which can give you an opportunity to meet lots of new people. One of them may be a romantic candidate just right for you!

10 Tips on How To Make New Friends

1. The easiest way to meet people with whom you share common interests is to take a class or join a group that centers on one of your hobbies. This way you will already have a built-in starting point with the other members.

2. Be kind to yourself, and be a friend to yourself. Open your heart and allow yourself to be liked and loved.

3. Be open to honest and kind conversation. Balance this openness with your safety and wariness of others that may cause you to question if someone has an ulterior motive for befriending you.

4. “Let’s get together soon” is too nebulous a statement when making plans. Decide upon a specific date and time to meet. This assures it WILL happen!

5. Always keep your word. Don’t say you’ll call and then forget to do so. Remember, someone else is counting on your personal contact with him or her.

6. Smile at people. You will be surprised at how many others respond, reciprocate and show appreciation for the good will and warmth you are spreading. It is an inexpensive way to make yourself and others “light up” inside and out.

7. “What goes around, comes around.” Be the friend you would like to have, and others will reciprocate in kind. Keep Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words in mind: “The only way to have a friend is simply be his friend.”

8. Reach out to those less fortunate than you. Help others, personally or through an organization. Your life will be enriched by your good deeds.

9. Allow yourself to be happy and content. Your positive attitude will attract others to you. Everyone likes to be with positive people.

10. Initiate conversation. There’s no law that says you have to wait for someone to approach you first. Be the first to say hello, and you will be surprised how people will respond to this simple, but brave, gesture.

Although there are many other ways to make and keep friends, I think Albert Camus captured the essence of friendship when he said, “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Evaluating Potential Partners

As you learn more about a potential partner, it is important to constantly be evaluating your relationship to determine if it is a good fit for you. Also, remember, relationships take time to develop, and it is only over this time that you can come to truly know a person.

The following are four areas to help you appraise your relationship. Since it is always helpful to use a mnemonic device to remember items, I’ve devised one that will assist you in remembering these categories, as well as remembering who told you about them!

If you say ELNG aloud, it is Ellen G (Gerst)! However, there is a deeper meaning, too!

E is for Elasticity
                   L is for Lifestyle
                                        N is for Nature (inherent)
                                                                           G is for Goals

Elasticity. Elasticity, which is the ability to be flexible, appreciate a foreign method of dealing with certain circumstances or simply to go with the flow, is an attractive personality trait. Similar to when you are raising children, in a romantic relationship it is also important to pick your battles. While deciding on how you attend to your finances is important, whether you eat Italian or Chinese food is not. Additionally, life is full of “stuff” coming up. Watching how well a person can adapt to a change in plans is very enlightening. If one cannot change gears without major drama, you may want to consider if this person will be able to handle a time when an earth shattering event occurs.

Lifestyle. You may be attracted to a person’s physical and emotional being at the beginning of a relationship. Accordingly, you may start to feel as if this this person seems to be on the “same page” as you. However, as the relationship develops you may find that you have completely different lifestyles; he is a sports fanatic and you are a museum lover or he never picks up a book and you are a voracious reader. 

It has been shown that couples who enjoy activities in common have a much better chance of growing together. And, it does not count if one partner just suffers the activity to make the other happy! What you end up with is lots of groans and rolled eyes and eventual dissatisfaction. Now, partners need not be tied at the hip; simply evaluate how wide the berth is between the things done together and those done apart. The more shared leisure activities, in most instances, the more joy you can experience together.

Inherent Nature. Personalities may match, values may be the same and lifestyle choices are coordinated; however, the partners’ basic natures may still not be singing in harmony. That is — the way each of you approach a situation may come from completely opposite directions. Now, if you and your partner can be flexible (see above) then all may be well. However, if tolerability is not a strong suit, problems can arise. For example, if one person is calm and methodical and the other is hyperactive and rash, it is sometimes difficult to reach a meeting of the minds. Pay attention, also, to the rhythm and pacing of each other’s live; it is easier when they play in concord.

Goals. It is important for partners to share similar goals or the same life purpose. No matter how much love is shared, it would be very difficult, for example, if one partner were devoutly religious and based all of his/her actions and activities around that religion, while the other partner wanted to lead a more hedonistic lifestyle. It is wonderful to romanticize life and think that love can conquer all; however, strong unions between partners usually are formed when the practicalities of life are considered as well the love that exists.

The world may tell us that opposites attract, and this may be true in the short term. However, it is also very difficult to live with someone whom approaches life from the other end of the spectrum from you.
The above are only four areas to which to be attuned when evaluating your relationship. 

A part of this post is an excerpt from Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story. Love After Loss is now available as both an e-book via my website or as a paperback via

I have some extra copies of the paperback edition available on Amazon and will offer them at a special price of $10.00 + shipping (Amazon price: $14.95 + shipping). Order below and also receive a free e-book, Spiritual Tips & Thoughts.

Love After Loss

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: 10 Conversation Starters for First Dates

If you haven’t dated in a long time, you might be feeling anxious about your first encounters. You might worry that you won’t have enough to talk about or that your date might find you boring.

In truth, keeping a conversation going is not as hard as starting the ball rolling. Consequently, keep in mind that a good majority of people like to talk about themselves. So, if you are nervous, forget about being interesting. Just be interested in what your date has to say.

Now, you don’t want your time together to turn into a question and answer interval, but you can still pose questions to spark conversation.

Following are 10 questions you could ask your date. After he/she has answered, you can chime in with your comments. As a bonus, you will have the “leg up” because you already know the questions, so you can prepare some fascinating tidbits to share!

1. What are some things that make you laugh or just go hmmm?
2. What was the best thing about your family life when you were a young child?
3. What were you like when you were a child? In what ways have you changed? In what ways have you stayed the same?
4. Did you have a funny nickname when you were a child? Do you have one now? What’s the story behind the name?
5. Who had the greatest influence on you while you were growing up? Was it a teacher, relative, friend, public figure? Do you have a mentor today who influences you or in what ways does he/she guide you?
6. What is one thing about you that would surprise me?
7. Do you have a special talent?
8. What’s your favorite movie, TV show, band, etc.?
9. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time?
10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: 5 Tips for Successful Step Parenting

"Although stepfamilies rarely make as smooth a transition as the Brady Bunch,
it is possible to successfully blend a family.
It depends on how and when you start and what you put in the blender."
~Kela Price

If you are in a relationship that is headed towards merging your two families, you are about to enter the world of step parenting. It is a world that can be very rewarding, but don’t expect all the members of the family to meld immediately. It takes lots of time, love and patience to build a healthy and working step family entity.

Here are 5 tips to help you make the transition.

1. Don’t take things personally. This is the same advice I gave you when it came to dating. Not everything is about you! Children are very hurt by their parent’s divorce and they can act out in childish ways. A step parent is a very easy target at which to direct their anger and fear. Choose the high road and don’t engage in battle with the children. Be constant; be steady; be there as a role model of decorum and grace under pressure. Children take note of all behaviors, and they are watching you very carefully to see if you will respond or react to their shenanigans.

2. Limit your expectations. This is another piece of advice I gave you in regard to dating. It takes a long time to get to know someone, and your step children are no different. You will set yourself up for disappointment if you rush the get-to-know you process and expect a love fest to take place simply because you are now married and living together as a family. Think about this process as dating your stepchildren! Engage in the activities you would normally do when you start dating, for example, exploring who they are and what they like and discussing their hopes and dreams. Moreover, have some fun with them because this can foster the growth of good feelings.

3. Set boundaries. I recall my younger son talking to his soon-to-be stepbrother about boundaries. He told this boy, “I don’t know where my mother’s boundaries are; I just know I’m not going anywhere near them!” Having raised him from birth, my son inherently knew my every nuance and could read when he was approaching the danger zone. Step children do not have the same benefit, so you must be very clear and specific about your boundaries.

4. Take care of yourself and your marriage. Don’t let children (yours or his/hers) come between you and your new partner. Children usually have no shame and they will use all the tools at their disposal to get their way, including guilting you into letting them do something you normally would not. Additionally, make sure to take care of yourself on all levels so you can cope with the added stress of step parenting. Allowing yourself to reach a point of overload will be of no benefit to any member of the family.

5. Ask for support. When you embark upon a task you have never done before or about which you know little, what is the first thing you can do to help yourself? Research! Read some books, take a class, consult a professional or ask friends who have step parented for advice. No one expects you to be an expert on this subject and know exactly the right thing to do. However, you can prepare yourself as best you can in order to be successful. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Ten Tips on Resolving Conflict

Conflict in a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing …. as long as it is resolved properly.

Living with another person is difficult and, unless you are clones of each other, there will be times when you disagree on issues. Actually, having a disagreement can be looked upon as a positive thing because it illustrates that each partner cares enough about the relationship that they both strive to be heard and respected.

More severe difficulties in the relationship can escalate when conflict is avoided because this can cause resentment and an eventual pull back of loving feelings to occur. Common reasons for avoiding conflict include: not knowing how to bring up a discussion about a sensitive topic; an unwillingness to experience temporary uncomfortable feelings in order to resolve a problem; and a fear of being rejected or ridiculed by a partner. 

Consider the following tips to help you maneuver your way through to a successful resolution, which may be considered a victory by itself.

1. Cool off. Take a few moments to collect yourself – maybe even more than a few! Just as you may give a child a time out, you can take one too so to preclude yourself from saying something you may later regret.

2. Listen. When cooler heads are prevailing, listen to your partner with an open mind and open heart.

3. Make room for different viewpoints. There are usually three sides to a confrontation: the way the woman sees it; the way the man sees it; and somewhere in between, the truth. We naturally view circumstances from our own perspective; so try to see the situation from your partner’s point of view.

4. Take responsibility for your part. Partners are very good at pushing each other’s buttons, but usually no one is totally innocent when disagreements arise. Express your viewpoint with "I" messages such as, "I feel," "I think" and "I want" rather than with finger pointing and blame (i.e. "You do this.").

5. Don’t make assumptions. Always gather all the facts before trying to resolve a problem.

6. Remind yourself that you love your partner. It is sometimes difficult to remember this fact when you are in a heated disagreement. However, if each partner treats the other with respect and honor during tension filled times, it allows a message to be better received and respect and honor to be reciprocated.

7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Big arguments often start with little disagreements. Don’t brush off a partner’s complaints or cries for change simply because you don’t agree or don’t want to make any changes. A litany of ignored issues, but easily resolved, can explode when consistently deemed unimportant.

8. Don’t be afraid to apologize. When conflict escalates, it becomes hard to back down. We get stuck in our beliefs, even if they are faulty ones. There’s no shame to say, “I was wrong” and apologize.

9. Compliment your partner. Make sure to tell your partner all the things you do like about him/her while asking for some changes on a few issues. This will remind you that there is more good than bad in your relationship and that it’s possible for you to decide to agree to disagree on some subjects.

10. Conclude a disagreement on a positive note. If you can’t reach a resolution in one sitting, don’t walk away in anger. Decide to table the discussion until you can both gather more facts and have some time to assess your feelings/opinion towards the matter at hand. 

Many of these tips are not exclusive to romantic relationships, but may be utilized with children, friends and other family members, too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The Alchemy of Success

"Many have said of Alchemy that it is for the making of gold and silver. 
For me, such is not the aim, but to consider only what 
virtue and power may lie in medicines."

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. To garner such attention, does it provide the secret of how to turn base metal into gold or tell of a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely? After all, these are the two principles upon which alchemy is founded.

Perhaps the book doesn’t literally tell how to spin gold, but it does outline a path on how to find gold in your own life by following your true and personal calling. Coehlo tells us that is the reason we are put on Earth. However, as man moves to accomplish this goal, he throws obstacles in his own path so he won’t succeed. It seems he can’t get out of his own way.

Coehlo puts forth that there are four obstacles hindering the path towards personal fulfillment. 

1. As young children, we are told that anything is possible. Believing this, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up. However, as we grow (and supposedly get socialized), the messages change, and we are told the reasons why our dream, or personal calling, is impossible to attain. It gets buried under the word "No!" as well as prejudice, fear and guilt.

2. If we are able to burrow our way through negativity and have the courage to still pursue our personal calling, we run into the second obstacle, which is love. This seems counterintuitive because love should set us free to evolve into our highest self. However, once ensconced in a life with loved ones, those bonds tie us down to the life we are leading. Ultimately, we become afraid we might lose the people we love and the possessions we have come to love, if we pursue our dream.

3. If the second obstacle can be reconciled and we use love as an impetus, rather than an impediment, we run into the third obstacle, which is fear of defeat. However, defeat, or loss, is often a necessary component of ultimate success. It teaches us lessons that make us stronger, thus allowing us to finally accomplish our goals. At times, loss also helps us refine a personal calling. So, if you are able to overcome hardship and channel it in a positive manner, this inspires you onward with gusto.

4. If you fall down seven times, but get up eight, as the wise saying instructs, then you move closer towards your goal. And now we encounter the fourth obstacle, which is a fear of success. The possibility of attaining our personal goals can make us question whether or not we are deserving of such good fortune. This elicits guilt, which is the most useless of all our emotions. We must reflect back upon the hard work that we have done to get to this point. It was not an overnight success and we ARE worthy. Without this acknowledgement, it is very easy to self-sabotage and let the “prize” slip from our grasp. Facing failure, we may try to blame outside sources, but there is only one responsible party: YOU! Until this fact is faced and accepted, success will continue to be elusive.

The truth is that everyone can reach his/her personal calling and find success and love in his/her life with hard work and acceptance of self-worthiness. Keep in mind, though, it doesn’t always come in the form in which you expect or think you want. Be open to the universe, and it will answer back with its bounties.

I recommend a full reading of The Alchemist, a short read that is under 175 pages.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Developing Momentum in a Relationship

Good advice for new, prospective relationships is to neither take it too fast nor too slow.

Too fast means that after one interaction you decide that this is your soul mate and you hear wedding bells ringing in the distance. This is the one of the very best ways to scare aware a possible romantic connection.

Too slow means that even though you both felt some sort of connection, there is a lapse of a couple of weeks before you interact again. Without a sturdy base of shared memories to build upon, this lack of momentum can make the relationship fizzle before it even starts. When too much time lapses between the first few interactions, you basically are starting anew on each date.

So, what is the correct timing to get a relationship off the ground?

What is important to keep in mind is that men and women have very different ideas about the early days of dating and their meaning. While woman often read too much into every nuance or comment and may assume an exclusive relationship is starting because three to four dates in a row have taken place, men, on the other hand, are usually still in the get-to-know-you phase and do not want to feel penned in quite yet. So, when a woman starts having expectations of the man (such as seeing him every weekend), the man gets the itch to run and unhook the yoke he feels being tightened around his neck.

The following is an excerpt from Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story, which is now available as a paperback at this link on as well as an e-book via my website.

This story exemplifies how differently men and women see beginning interactions and how this couple could not find the correct balance or momentum, and it eventually caused the budding romance to come to a screeching halt.


A man and a woman meet for lunch. He kisses her hello. She is a little taken aback because the usual order of things is a handshake in the beginning and maybe a hug and a little peck, if there has been a lot of communication beforehand. The meal progresses, and they really hit it off. An hour into the first date, he asks her if she wants him to get tickets for a show a month away. She, again, is a little taken aback but agrees to go out without him; after all, she can cancel at a later date. They get ready to say goodbye, and now it is time for the hug! Throughout the week, they see each other four more times, at the gentleman’s request. A little over the top, but they are enjoying each other’s company. Now, the natural assumption here would be that they are going to continue this relationship. Think again!

In the meantime, the woman has sent the gentleman some thought provoking e-mails and perhaps reveals a little too much about her inner psyche. She thinks to herself, “How can we know if we want to continue to see each other, if we don’t let the other see who we truly are?” This was a mistake. The lesson is don’t reveal too much, too soon.

The following week, she calls him and leaves a message on his answering machine asking him if he wants to go to the movies the next day. He doesn’t return the phone call to say yes or no. She leaves another message two days later, which asks him to let her know one way or the other if he wishes to continue seeing her. Still no reply. One more try on her part — an e-mail basically saying that she was confused about his lack of courtesy. Still no reply.

A few weeks later they run into each other, and the gentleman admits the reason he didn’t return the phone calls was that he was feeling penned in. But let’s review the scenario. He asked her out five times in one week, and he asked her out for a date one month away. Who was trying to pen whom in? And who closed the door when emotional intimacy entered the scene?

The truth is that these were two people who did not know each other very well, and they went too fast, too soon and ended up getting scared. The woman, who was very hurt by the lack of response, also mistakenly made it all about her. In reality, the gentleman had his own issues with which he was dealing, and it was more about him than anything to do with the woman.

The lesson? Try to place yourself in the other person’s position and figure out how he or she might interpret seemingly innocent comments and actions. With strangers, it is very easy to take both actions and words in a different manner in which they were intended. And remember to try not to take things personally because it is not always about YOU!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The First Phone Call

If you are Internet dating, you have may have started off your interactions with a prospective date with a wink, an IM or e-mail correspondence. The two of you are now ready to move onto your first phone call.

This can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, dual in nature just like the rest of life. 

You are looking forward to putting an actual voice to the one you’ve heard coming through your non-verbal connection and will be on the lookout to see if they are in sync.

This is really your first date, although there is no need to clean up, except if you video chat!

Here are 7 tips for this first interaction.

1. Set up a specific time to talk. This should be a time when you can have some privacy, have completed your household chores or have left your job at the office, and when you can be relaxed.

2. Have light-hearted conversation. Two taboo subjects: sex and money. No sexual innuendos either. Steer away from talk about former spouses and custody issues and late spouses who you’ve elevated to sainthood status.

3. If you are especially nervous and want to avoid the possibility of dead air, think about items about which you can converse before initiating the phone conversation. If you can’t think of anything, read the newspaper that day so you are up on current events of the day. However, it is probably best to stay away from politics during this first conversation. Additionally, questions may have been generated during your email conversations, so this is a good time to get some of them answered. Make sure not to make it an interview, though!

4. If the inflection of your voice goes up at the end, any statement you make can appear to be an open-ended question. This lessens the defensive position of the other person because you are asking his/her opinion rather than stating yours as a fact with a “take it or leave it” implication.

5. Be authentic. Remember: the two of you are already attracted to each other by virtue of your previous non-verbal communications. Don’t turn into someone else because you feel the need to impress or to play up your achievements.

6. Be open, enthusiastic and upbeat. Project your "inner smile" through the telephone line! Additionally, let your prospective date know that you have looked forward to speaking to him/her and, if the conversation is going well, that you would be very open to continuing to speak and/or meet to find out more about him/her. Keep in mind that enthusiasm is great, but don't go over the top and be thinking about how this person is your soul mate before you even meet him/her in person!

7. Closing the conversation. As you near the end of your talk, and it has gone well, you might want to ask this person out. You can just go for it, or a more subtle method is to simply mention that you are going to the movies, or going hiking, or attending a concert in the park during the upcoming weekend and that it would be great if he/she could join you. Because this is a little less direct, it can alleviate some of the pressure. Moreover, you've kept the date and time nebulous, so this provides an entree to ask questions, if he/she is interested.

On a personal note, during my first coffee date with my husband, I mentioned that I had read in the paper that a restaurant had just begun offering old movies on their rooftop. I asked him if he thought that sounded like a great date. He jumped right in and asked me if I would like to go with him to find out for ourselves. In this way, I provided an easy opening for him to ask me out. (I always try to be helpful!!) He already knew I was interested in checking this venue out and assumed I would not have mentioned it to him if I was not interested in going with him.

So with the first phone conversation under your belt, you are now ready to meet your date in person!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Are You A People Pleaser?

Are you afflicted with the dreaded People Pleaser Syndrome?

Before the loss of my first husband, I know I certainly exhibited the major symptom inherent in a people pleaser, which is putting the desires and needs of everyone else before your own. Although I am somewhat recovered, remnants of my former self do linger, for, at my essence, I simply like to do things for other people and please them.

There is a subtle difference now, though. Previously, I would give and give, only to eventually feel depleted with nothing left to sustain myself. Today, I have stronger boundaries and, although I do try to please, I complete this action in a healthier manner. What it comes down to is that I allow myself to say “No!” and not feel guilty when I do so.

Learning to temper my enthusiasm for only pleasing others, at times to my own detriment, has allowed me to actually become better at helping others. I know that when I feel balanced and replenished, it is much easier to extend a hand outward.

As you move into the dating world, you will be encountering all different types of people. Some are givers; some are takers, and it is not always evident at a first glance or even after many glances. That is why it is always a good idea to take your time getting to know someone.

Although seemingly innocuous, a people pleaser could actually use his/her skills to control his/her environment and the people who reside in it. If everyone is seemingly happy (because the people pleaser has fulfilled all wants and desires), then all should be copacetic in his/her world. This type of people pleaser is one that never wants to rock the boat, so he/she sublimates his/her own needs and makes sure there are never any arguments or even minor disagreements.

Unfortunately, emotions that are continually pushed below the surface usually erupt and, when they do -- watch out! Often times, it is like a dormant volcano spewing out for the first time. Both parties are surprised by its virulence, for there was no warning in the calm life that was being led.

The acts of recognizing your inherent traits and then modifying the unhealthy ones both fall under the readiness process to complete before dating with intention. Of course, practice is always encouraged, for it is in these practice dates that we learn a lot about ourselves.

As for people pleasing … never fear; there are ways to mitigate this tendency!

Recognize that fear can reside underneath the desire to continually please. It is usually a fear of rejection, if the pleaser would stop catering to those closest in his/her life. Since all actions stem from two emotions, love or fear, change the motivating factor in yours to love. This includes learning to love and respect yourself and your own time. Realize and accept that you can be a caring, loving (and even pleasing) person towards others at the same time you can care, love and please yourself.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Organizing Your Dating Life

When dating becomes your full time job,
it becomes necessary to use the right tools 
to keep track of your prospective dates.

Sixteen years ago, I found myself a young widow with two sons to raise on my own. At first the world was a dark place, and I needed to learn how to survive the slings and arrows of everyday life as a single, bereaved parent. After mastering that task, next, I set out to learn how to thrive in my new situation and environment … or what had become my new normal.

Dating was the last thing on my mind, although the occasional thought that it might be nice to have a new partner with whom to share my life did cross my mind. Many years down the road, I took the plunge and started Internet dating. Through this venue, I found a new happily ever after.

Let’s rewind, though, to the beginning of my adventure. And an adventure it was, which is the only way to think about dating in order to be successful! 

Diving into the dating pool was a big leap of faith for me because I knew NOTHING about how to date. My late husband was my one and only boyfriend, for I met him at the tender age of 15 and married at 20 upon our college graduations.

However, what I did know was how to be organized and set goals. As I excitedly embarked upon my new journey, I decided I would use my organizational skills and business tools to keep track of my dates. After all, at this point in my life, dating had become my new job. Consequently, I thought the best course of action would be to use the business tools at my disposal! 

Brenda Spangrud of S.O.R.T.E.D. suggests using systems that are accommodating, easy to use, and which don’t require weekend catch-up sessions to get things back in order. And that is exactly the type of program I implemented.

For those of you who have never Internet dated, upon posting a profile with a dating site, you immediately become a target for a tremendous amount of e-mail contact. You are the “new kid on the block” and everyone is anxious to meet you … at least in cyberspace. It can actually be overwhelming, if you are not prepared for the onslaught. And, if you have signed onto multiple sites at the same time, you exponentially increase the communications you will receive.

Thinking organizationally, I pondered what would be the best way to handle this situation and which tools would provide the most expedient result. I decided to use both Word and Excel. 

There is usually an introductory get to know you e-mail that is sent to prospective dates. I thought, “Why should I write basically the same paragraph repeatedly?” Instead, I penned a response in Word and then simply copied and pasted it into my correspondence. This gave me the opportunity to have a few extra moments to personalize the salutation and add a few lines at the end that showed I actually read the person’s profile! 

My master file also included a recap of personal tidbits I thought appropriate to share with prospective dates. I could then pick and choose which were applicable and the timing in which I would send them. 

Additionally, I had the standard rejection note in my Word document, which read: “Thank you for connecting with me. I don’t believe we are a match, though. I wish you the best of luck in your dating endeavors.” I am a big stickler for courtesy, so even if I wasn’t interested, I felt it necessary to acknowledge a contact. Cyberspace can be a cruel place, and it only takes a minute to respond – especially if it only means copying and pasting!

Using “stock” answers may seem cold, but when your mailbox is filled with queries, there is no possible way you could answer each one if you had to start from scratch every time. I’m not suggesting this procedure be used for long – only at the inception of the contact. This way you can review your correspondence and figure out which ones spark your interest enough to continue communicating.

So, here I was corresponding with many men at the same time and sometimes having a coffee date, a lunch date and a dinner date on the same day! 

As an aside I chose three places where I always scheduled my first meetings. If it was just coffee, then I suggested a French cafeteria, Le Madeleine, where there was the option of getting a snack also. For lunch or dinner, my choice was Sammy’s, a California Kitchen-like restaurant, which had a nice variety of very reasonably priced salads and light fare. If we were meeting for a drink, I chose Z Tejas, a comfortable place to have a drink, and, if things went well, the date could progress to a meal. These were conveniently located near to my home and all in the same well-lit shopping plaza. 

I frequented Le Madeleine the most often, and I always wondered if the staff thought I was a “working girl” who never came in with the same man twice. It made me chuckle to myself every time and was one of the things that kept a smile on my face throughout the date!

However, I digress … so how was I going to keep track at which stage I was with each man, for example, was I on date two or three or which information about me had I already sent by e-mail? This is where the use of the Excel spreadsheet was invaluable.

I had a master list that included those with whom I had initiated contact and the ones who had contacted me first. Excel also gives you the option to copy a profile picture into your file. This helps to link names and faces. The master list is important because many people are on multiple sites and sometimes use different “handles” as a user name. You want to make sure you are not contacting the same person more than once or they you. If one rejection is hard enough, two from the same person is certainly not twice as much fun!

You can also utilize the multiple tabs Excel offers. There are many people with whom you will only interact once. There are some that will make the cut for a second or third date.** By the time you are at your third date, you can discard the spreadsheet because your interactions will be more personalized. However, if the relationship goes further, you may want to copy and paste the e-mails exchanged into a Word document. This lets you remember what you said and the response you received. Reading these more than once can give you added insight into a person who you don’t know well. It is also easier to have them in one place, rather than having to refresh your memory by flipping back and forth between past e-mails. 

**Note: In my dating career, I did institute the “Two-to-Three Date” Rule, which says you should give a date more than one chance (and preferably three) before writing him or her off completely. These are strangers you are meeting and you don’t know what is going on in their lives that might cause them to be nervous, shy, tongue-tied, etc. on a first date. By a third date, you should be able to determine whether the relationship is worth pursuing further.

Utilizing both Word and Excel for tracking purposes in the manner I have outlined will allow the dating process to be less intimidating and time-consuming, as well as provide the opportunity to meet many more people. Dating is really a numbers game; the more people you meet, the better your chance of meeting someone special with whom you can connect on a deeper level.

It is possible to be organized AND have lots of fun! It worked for me, and it can work for you! I met my husband only after 11 months of Internet dating, and we have been happily married for 8 years.

Rather listen than read about organizing your dating life? Watch the video.