Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: The Do-Over

I just read an excerpt from a new book, “The Do-Over" by Andrew Hessel.

I was strongly drawn to the title, for I call the story of my life The Do-Over, too. In fact, it’s the title of the first chapter in my book, Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story and you can read a little bit about my do-over by clicking here

In Hessel's book, a sophomore in college is set to return home for summer vacation and upon her arrival she finds her mother, father and sister murdered in their home. She barely escapes the same fate and manages to recover after an extended hospital stay. As her body repairs itself, she floats in an unconscious state and is visited by The Guardian, a being who tells her that she has been chosen to have a second chance – to go back in time and change the course of the future. 

Upon awakening, she’s not sure if this conversation was real or a dream. As she is set to leave the hospital and fully functioning, The Guardian revisits her and there is no denying she has been given a gift. Of course, there are rules to obey in order to accomplish her do-over. She simply can’t go back and interrupt the murder to save her parents. She must go back to the root of this calamity and make the appropriate corrections. In this case, it is going back to the abusive childhood of the murderer. The excerpt stopped at this point, but I’m anxious to know what happens. 

So, here is my question to you… 

For those who have lost a partner to death or for those who had a relationship that started with loving intentions and later turned sour, would YOU want to go back and have a do-over and change the course of your personal history? 

On the surface, I believe anyone would answer “Yes!” However, I don’t think it’s that easy because you have to determine the root or the why an event occurred and then deal with undetermined ramifications. 

Let’s say your husband died of lung cancer. He may have been a smoker or his only job opportunity was in a factory or a mine whose environment was conducive to developing lung cancer. There would be hard decisions and changes to be made. I think it would be hard to convince a healthy young man not to take the only job available because you tell him that he was going to develop lung cancer 40 years down the road (and I’m pretty sure one of the rules is that you couldn’t tell him what you know). 

You would have to decide to change your life, too, and probably make sacrifices along the way in order to produce a different result. And, would you be willing to do that? In retrospect, the answer is probably yes, but, in the moment, the answer is possibly not as easy to determine or crystal clear.

In the case of a murder, you would have to change the life of the murderer (as in Hessel's book), or in the case of a suicide, the root may be very difficult to determine or be a myriad of circumstances. 

The thing you have to remember is that when you change (even) one thing, it creates a cascade of events with a new result that may be different than the first but not necessarily better or the one for which you hoped. Each individual has his own free will and, try as hard as you might, you can really only be in charge of your actions and not dictate how others will react.

So, on the surface, it seems like a wonderful opportunity to be able to go back to prevent tragedy from befalling you. On the other hand, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for because it might have unexpected results. 

To tell you the truth, I think producing and experiencing a personal do-over is best accomplished as you move forward and make beneficial changes in your life.  

It’s a nice fantasy, though, to think you could time travel and avoid the loss of a loved one. And although life is not a fantasy, it is possible to create magic in yours by using your own free will to accomplish great things, find love and be loved.

I do think it is a great premise for a book, though. If you're interested, you can download and read the excerpt here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

12 Fun Facts About Dating

Here are 12 random facts about dating that I found interesting. Hope you do, too!

1. According to member statistics at, 44% of its members in the U.S. have children. Additionally, 92% of single parents would rather date other single parents. (Janis Spindel, matchmaker) 

2. If men are having a difficult time deciding what to wear on a date, they might want to choose something blue. Studies show that women are attracted to men in blue. (from “How To Pick Up, Seduce, and Hook Up With Hot Women”) 

3. Here’s a statistic from N.C. Warren in “Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons.” 33% of online daters form a relationship; 33% do not; and 33% give up. 

4. Mirroring, or repeating someone’s body language, often impresses a date because it subtly conveys interest to the other person, although copying every move is a little bit over the top. (from “Flirtology: Over 100 Ways To Release Your Inner Flirt”

5. Choosing exciting places for a first date increases the chances of the other person falling for you. There is a definitive link between danger and physical and/or romantic attraction.(from “Flirtology: Over 100 Ways To Release Your Inner Flirt”

6. Worst places to go on first date include fast-food restaurants, your kids’ birthday party or school play, your parents’ house, strip clubs, X-rated films or swingers parties, a party where your ex will be, church activities, or window shopping. (from “Flirtology: Over 100 Ways To Release Your Inner Flirt”

Offering you the world.

7. In American society, when a man offers his date his palm face up, he is most likely deeply attracted to the woman. In fact, a human’s brain is wired to respond to hand gestures and hand shapes, though the brain’s response depends on the man or woman’s culture and ethnicity. (Steve Santagati, in “The MANual”)

8. Body language studies show that revealing areas of the body that aren’t usually on display (such as the inner wrist, the inside of the upper arm, ankles, feet, inside calf muscle, and the nape of the neck) has an immediate effect on a date and shows an instant liking. (from “Flirtology: Over 100 Ways To Release Your Inner Flirt”

9. Depending on the type of women a man would like to meet, he should visit that type of clothing store. For example, if a man likes “outdoorsy” women, he should go to an outdoor clothing store. (Steve Santagati, in “The MANual”

10. Men, here’s how to read a woman’s body language. If a woman is interested in her date, she will often smile at his jokes, play with her hair, fidget with an object such as a glass, blush when he pays her a compliment, pout or pucker her mouth, stumble over words, or lean in towards him. Signs that a woman is not interested in her date include avoiding eye contact, faking a smile or not smiling, leaning away, answering in monosyllables, sagging her shoulders, looking at her watch, tapping her foot, or staring blankly. (Victoria Zdrock in “How To Pick Up, Seduce, and Hook Up With Hot Women”

11. If a group of women are standing together but their eyes are wandering, they are likely to be looking for guys. If they each take a turn to break away from the group to head to the bathroom alone, they are on the prowl. If they are huddled together giggling, they are usually not interested in finding men. (Dushan Zaricc and Jason Kosmos in "You Didn’t Hear It From Us: Two Bartenders Serve Women the Truth about Men, Making an Impression, and Getting What You Want"

12. Dating specialists suggest that if a woman doesn’t return a call after two messages, she is not interested. (Victoria Zdrock in “How To Pick Up, Seduce, and Hook Up With Hot Women”)

Of course, as with all things, use your own discernment on which of these "facts" you believe and incorporate into your life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Relationships 101

There’s no shortage of books on how to find the partner of your dreams and how to have a good relationship. I, myself, am guilty of writing many books on this subject. 

Each author believes he or she has “the answer.” In truth, there are many answers because what may work for one person may not work for another. I suggest you treat the array of advice as a smorgesboard and choose the pieces that fit with your life and your circumstances. 

That said, what do you think is at the root of the myriad of problems encountered in the course of a relationship? 

In my book on teen pregnancy prevention, I put forth the idea that at the root of the problem is that children aren’t taught relationship basics. With so many broken families, there is a lack of role models for both boys and girls, and children don’t get to observe how a loving relationship works. Often children go looking to fill the void left by the missing parent. However, they haven’t observed or been taught about love so, very often, they confuse physical contact with real love. 

I believe society is missing the boat by not teaching “Relationships 101” at the middle school level. It is here, and even earlier, that misconceptions begin about love, relationships, bad boys, good guys, etc. 

This might be an extreme example, but compare this to the situation in the Middle East where children are taught to be suicide bombers as a way of showing allegiance to a higher power and to strike against those who hold a different belief system. Just as it’s imperative to educate the youth of the world so these ways of thinking will not be perpetuated, it’s also important to correct misconceptions about all that a relationship entails. 

Girls and boys need to be taught what is acceptable and appropriate behavior, for example, the idea of “control” has no place in a healthy relationship. Accordingly, trying to change someone into who you think you want him/her to be is a relationship killer. That's not to say you don't compromise with each other. 

Couples naturally tend to start acting like each other anyway, if they have a healthy relationship. The question to ask is, "If you want to change someone so much, then why are you with him/her in the first place?"   

Truthfully, I think one way to have a good relationship is to close your eyes half the time. It's hard to live with someone else, even if you love them to pieces. We all have different ways of doing things, and if you were with your clone, one of you would be unnecessary! 

I say keep the good stuff in the forefront of your brain and let the rest fall away. You have to fall in love with your partner EVERY DAY! 

And, if you're still looking for love, I urge you to look for it in the right ways so you can find the right person. It gets me upset when I hear many women lament that there are no nice guys out there. I say that it's possible they have done a good job at pushing the nice ones away by dismissing them for their lack of looks, money, risk taking attitude, or some other reason. 

This is part of my mission with my books and speaking engagements. I hope to teach people about relationship tenets. Really, my basic theory is pretty simple: you just need to be nice to each other. Nice, although a benign word, goes a really long way in every day life!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Shift in Gender Roles

The way a pendulum swings back and forth and eventually comes to rest in a neutral position is reflective of how both individuals process their emotions as well as how society reacts to new ideas. 

For example, look at the issue of women’s equality, specifically in regard to relationships. Not so long ago, women used to be regarded as chattel – mere property that was owned by a husband. She did as she was told and had no rights to speak of, in or out of the house. 

Women eventually rebelled and gained more freedoms, such as the right to vote. They started attending college on a regular basis and becoming a force to be reckoned with in the workplace. In general, gender roles started to be less clear cut and more confusing, and this was reflected in the relationship arena, too. 

While once women had limited options so they stayed in loveless, unfulfilling or abusive marriages, they now were able to support themselves and the divorce proceedings initiated by women started to increase. 

The balance of power was shifting. Whenever freedoms once denied are experienced, the pendulum tends to swing wide with emotion to one side until the freedoms are tempered with common sense. 

Here’s the problem. The pendulum hasn’t come to the middle yet. Both women and men are still confused by what will actually bring them, if not happiness, at least contentment with their lives. 

Women want BOTH to be independent and in charge AND taken care of by a man. Add in the survival instinct that all humans have imprinted in their DNA of women wanting strong men that offer protection and men seeking out women of an age with whom they can procreate, and we are at the mercy of our primal instincts. 

It seems as if no matter how you slice it, many remain unhappy, wanting their cake and to eat it, too. No wonder the divorce rate is so high! 

So, can you have a relationship where you are both the care-giver and the care-taker? You can, if you don’t get caught up in a power struggle and an overriding need to always be right or to feel as if you have won. Additionally, you must remember that giving and receiving are simply two sides of the same coin, so when you give to your partner, you’re also receiving and vice versa. Lastly, in a relationship, the “balance of power” is always shifting according to the particular circumstances encountered. It is unlikely that a relationship can always remain at 50/50, although it is the striving to reach there that makes up the days of your life. Learn to enjoy each of the days that you're granted. Good and bad, struggle and triumph, even winning and losing -- each of these circumstances,  while reflecting the natural duality of the world, allows you to experience the wholeness of life.