The 3 Dirtiest Words In Dating

shutterstock_573523534

Benching. Breadcrumbing. Ghosting.

You may not have heard these words before, but if you’re single and dating in 2017, chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been a victim of one of these dirty dating practices, you have my sympathies. If you’ve ever knowingly committed one of these offenses, you’re on my shit list. And if you’re still in the dark about what I’m talking about, you’re either happily married or  living amongst the Amish.

BENCHING

If you want to keep someone in the game, but don’t exactly want them to suit up and play, then “Benching” is for you.

This is a great dating strategy for selfish wimps who want to keep their options open and their players in rotation. Benchers love to keep people guessing. They’re neither straightforward nor direct, and they never tell you where you stand because they never move forward with the relationship.

Instead, they string you along by sending mixed signals, throwing you a bone every once in a while, and texting you just enough to keep your hopes up.

When I was single, I was benched by a guy I met online. He said he was divorced, but by his excessive texting, excuse making, and chronic unavailability, he made me realize he was more likely still married, had other chicks on the roster, or just wanted to fuck around.

This guy hardly called, always cancelled, but he kept texting to say hi!

I have a girlfriend who just went through something similar with a guy who kept her on the bench for almost six months before she finally had enough.

He was a sweet-talker, but talking wasn’t his strong suit. Conversations rarely happened because his phone would suddenly “die,” and plans would fall through because something would always “come up.”

But it didn’t stop him from constantly texting to say he was thinking of her!

Typical bencher. Buys time and plays the field while decimating your self-esteem and dignity. Nice.

With benchers, you’re always wondering: “Will I make the cut? Will I ever be a starter or only a sub? Or, will I stay on the bench and be relegated to watching from the sidelines?”

My advice? Get off the bench and go play for a team that truly wants you.

BREADCRUMBING

Another dirty dating trend I despise is “Breadcrumbing.” It’s as manipulative as benching, but even more so because unlike benching, you never actually meet the person.

Breadcrumbing is what it sounds like: a person who sends ambiguously flirtatious digital crumbs meant to lure you in and lead you on.

Breadcrumbers have no real intention of connecting on any substantive level. They just want to play with your head, fuck with your heart, and toy with your emotions by keeping you tormented, oops, I mean interested. It’s the perfect M.O. for narcissists needy for attention and ego stroking.

A common practice for breadcrumbers is to come on strong, string you along with non-committal messages, then go radio silent. Then, out of the blue, they’ll pop up on social media with a comment on Facebook or a compliment on Instagram just to mess with your mind and give you false hope.

Breadcrumbers love to hide behind their texts and dating apps, and throw just enough bait into the water to keep you swimming. Personally, I’d like to slap these people across the face with a dead fish.

A guy friend of mine has been trying to pursue a woman he met on Tinder for weeks now, but for all the fun, flirty messaging going on between them, he’s no closer to meeting her than he was the day he swiped right. I keep telling him to give it up already, but he’s certain it’s going to happen any minute.

It’s not going to happen. All he’s doing is feeding her ego, while she’s feeding him breadcrumbs for his unrequited efforts.

Man and woman cannot live on breadcrumbs alone!

GHOSTING

Ever have a love interest vanish into thin air, right in the middle of your courtship without a trace, an explanation, or even a heads up? You can feel it coming: the texts get fewer, calls cease, plans don’t pan out, and you’re left asking yourself: “WTF?”

Welcome to “Ghosting,” the world’s all-time worst dating behavior, and preferred exit strategy for spineless cowards.

We all know ending things with someone isn’t easy; we all know breaking up is hard to do. But there is a right way to do it, and it doesn’t involve triggering someone’s deepest insecurities by giving them the silent treatment or disappearing off the radar.

Ghosting doesn’t get you off the hook. In fact, all ghosting does is confirm you’re a total pussy.

There are tons of psychological reasons why people ghost, but from what I’ve read and experienced, it has everything to do with fear of conflict, avoiding confrontation and difficult conversations, and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.

There are also tons of better ways to end a relationship than falling off the face of the earth or being a dick. My personal favorite is just biting the bullet and being honest. It might be painful for a few minutes, but it’s infinitely less painful than running into your ghosted ex at Rite-Aid as they pick up their Popov vodka and Xanax.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Benchers, Breadcrumbers, and Ghosters of the world, if you’re reading this, do us a favor and man up. Victims, you too need to grow a pair and stop accepting this bad behavior from your dates. If you’re accepting it, you’re encouraging it.

I dated a lot prior to getting married. Some dates were great, some weren’t. When it wasn’t a match, I said thank you and wished them well. No benching, breadcrumbing, or ghosting. Just straight up truth.

Treat people the way you want to be treated, is the golden rule of dating– especially in the age of technology. Don’t let internet dating turn you into an asshole.

If you want to find love and make a genuine connection, then say it. If you just want to hook-up, say that too. And if you just want to be friends, let that be known. Whatever you do, be clear, be courteous, and keep your ego in check.

Dating doesn’t have to be dirty (unless you want it to be of course).

Can You Find The Love In Being Single?

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.05.48 PM

Before I got married, I had an on-again/off-again affair with being single. When we were on and things were good, I loved it; but when we were off, I hated it.

There’s a lot to love about being single: you’ve got freedom and independence; you can come and go as you please; and you can do what you want when you want. You can go out, get laid, and not have to answer to anybody.

If you’re not actively dating, you don’t have to shave your legs or get bikini waxes on a regular basis. And if you’re a guy, you can scratch your balls and fart all you want.

Now that’s what I call freedom!

Being single can be the greatest time of your life, or it can be a living hell.

If you’ve ever been a singleton at a couples dinner party, or at a wedding without a +1, or dateless at a family function, you know the hell I’m talking about.

For years, a girlfriend of mine has been throwing dinner parties attended mostly by her married friends or fellow school parents. Even though I was single, she would invite me, and I accepted because I adore her. The evenings were glorious events, filled with incredible food and wine, beautiful settings, and fabulous people.

And it was brutally tough to get through.

My singleness made me feel like an outsider, like an alien from another planet. I was neither a member of the married club nor the mommy club, and it was made painfully clear especially if one of the wives gave me the stink-eye.

Hell is being the only single woman in a room full of married people.

When you’re single, people judge, stare, ask questions, whisper and gossip– especially if you’ve been single an eternity like I was. They make assumptions and jump to conclusions. They ask why you’re not married or have kids, and wonder what’s wrong with you.

There’s a stigma attached to being single, and a word for it too: “Singlism.” It’s the technical term for holding negative beliefs about single people or treating them unfairly because of their single status.

The good news is if you stay single long enough, eventually the questions will cease. When my mother stopped asking when I was getting married and started asking if I had received my AARP card yet, I knew things were getting better.

But some people aren’t so lucky– the questions keep coming.

Just ask Jennifer Aniston, the subject of relentless rumors about her marriage and maternal status– stuff of no one’s business. She finally told everybody to fuck off and stop speculating about her happiness in a recent Huffington Post piece, For The Record, and I will tell you the same:

You don’t need to be married and have kids to be happy, so STFU already!

 

proxy-jpgSingle gal blogger Michelle L. Torigian echoes Anniston’s sentiments in her post For the Record, I’m Fed Up Too, as does Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell in her book, Single Is The New Black.

Dr. Abrell, a fellow dating expert and late blooming bride like me, got married when she was 42 after suffering the same single girl experiences I did— both good and bad.

In her book, she emphatically contends that nothing is wrong with you if you’re still single. You just haven’t yet met “The One,” and that’s OK. Being single is not a curse or a crime or something that needs to be fixed or ashamed of. It’s just where you are in life, and the sooner you stop defining yourself by it, or beating yourself over it, the better.

This got me thinking: while you’re looking for love, can you find the love in being single?

It’s possible and here’s how:

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Don’t conform or change for anyone. Stop apologizing and making excuses for who you are. If someone doesn’t appreciate you (or your choices, personality, sense of humor, smarts, values, circumstances, etc.) then they’re not for you. Period. Don’t waste one minute of your precious time trying to be something you’re not. Love who you are, whatever you are.

LOSE THE EXPECTATIONS

If you want to be a happy single person, do yourself a favor and stop pressuring yourself about dating, getting married, etc. Stop checking the time, and tapping your watch– love happens when it happens and not one minute sooner. As I’ve said before, you can have aspirations, just not expectations—they’ll set you up for disappointment and defeat.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR SINGLE STATUS ASAP

You’re single, deal with it. Own it, accept it, and stop bitching about it before you become bitter. The strongest statement you can make as a single person is to live life on your own terms, and show the world you don’t give a shit.

FIND YOUR HAPPINESS ELSEWHERE

You know when love finds you? When you’re busy with other pursuits and pleasures. Get involved, volunteer, hang with your friends, find a hobby, do the things that bring you joy. It’ll take the edge off being alone and it’ll keep your life full.

HAVE A GREAT FRIEND OF THE OPPOSITE SEX

Having a good guy or girl buddy for companionship while you’re single is crucial. With opposite sex friends, there’s no competition, pressure, jealousy, or weirdness, just unconditional love and support for each other. They make great confidantes, dates, and wingmen. Keep one handy and you’ll never be lonely.

DO THE WORK

Along with finding your happiness elsewhere, it’s important to find your healing too. If you’re single, that means you’ve got time to work on yourself. So go inside, tie up loose ends, resolve old issues, and bring closure to things that might be impeding your progress. Being single is a job, so take care of business.

BE OK WITH BEING SINGLE FOREVER

Single friends, this is a tough one to swallow, but I’m here to tell you that your “Happily Ever After” could be happily right now. You might be single for longer than you want, or even forever, so you better get on with it.

When I turned 50 and still wasn’t married, I did something bold: I blew off marriage altogether.

On my 50th birthday, I made a life-changing decision. If I was going to be single, then I was going to be happiest singleton I could be. I would live my life unashamed and proud; I would refuse to be stigmatized; and I would never allow myself to feel incomplete just because I didn’t have a husband or kids.

I decided to find the love in being single, and it freed me.

Then something weird happened. After my come to Jesus moment about being single, I found “The One” and suddenly gained membership to the married club.

Those wonderful days of not shaving my legs and letting my pubes grow out are a thing of the past, and no one’s happier about it than my waxer, Esther. I’ll see you soon!

NOTE TO THE GUYS READING THIS: As I’ve learned, you can still scratch your balls and fart all you want—it’s called marriage.

Maybe It’s Time To Go On A Digital Dating Diet

 

shutterstock_243839119“Enough!” said a friend recently who had it with online dating. She was fed-up, burned out, and ready to breakup. It’s too much work, with little return, she complained. In protest, she was going to delete all her dating apps and join a nunnery.

She’s no nun, but she does have a point. Digital dating IS a lot of work. All that searching, swiping, typing, texting, winking, liking, browsing and chatting is practically a full-time job. Add in the lack of follow up from potential dates, and you can see why my friend is frustrated.

Online dating is a giant time suck. A recent survey from online magazine The Week found that online daters spend an average of two hours a day on their mobile dating apps. That’s two hours of having your head down in your phone every day. My neck is killing me just thinking about it.

And then there’s the issue of “ghosting,” that online dating practice most used by cowards who disappear into thin air after making contact. Don’t they know it’s shitty dating etiquette to leave someone hanging?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology; in fact, I think technology is the greatest thing to ever happen to dating. So many apps, so many options! Swipe right or right click and you can find lasting love, or a quick hookup if you’re bored and horny.

Just in case you haven’t been introduced, there’s Tinder, a location-based dating app that matches up strangers; Hinge, a mobile app that accesses friends of friends on Facebook; Bumble, the app where chicks are in control; and The League, a dating app for elitists. And let’s not forget old standbys Match, J-Date, PlentyOfFish and OkCupid, which also have apps.

There’s a lot to love about digital dating: it can build your confidence, boost your ego, keep you busy, and get you back in the game if you’re newly single. I went back online after every breakup and I found it good therapy.

Thanks to technology I met my husband on Facebook, so I’m not complaining!

But digital dating isn’t everything. When you rely too heavily on your phone to play matchmaker or when your computer becomes your sole source of social contact, you’ve got problems.

Your dating life shouldn’t exist on a screen.

That’s why I suggest going on a digital dating diet. It’s not a breakup, and it’s not forever, it’s just a way to add balance and quality into your dating menu.

Diets are horrible and I hate them, but this one’s different. It will free you. You’ll feel lighter, less stressed, more liberated, and your neck will thank you. Here’s how to get started:

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN, PICK YOUR HEAD UP, AND LOOK AROUND!

I guarantee you will see just as many dating options in front of your face as you do online, except these options are real walking, talking people, not profile pictures and usernames. You can see for yourself if they’re really that old, that out of shape, or that good looking!

The League dating app says it aims to “make offline cool again.” Excuse me, but when was being offline ever uncool? The last time I checked, meeting people the old-fashioned way, FACE-TO-FACE was preferred, not passé.

But just in case you’ve forgotten how to go offline, here are some suggestions:

A local coffee house

The grocery store

The putting green at a public golf course

The gym

The subway (not in L.A. yet, but we’re getting there)

A yoga studio

Hobbies and classes

Jury duty

One of the best places to meet people is volunteering. You can hook up while you change the world!

These places may not be fancy or sexy, but that’s the point. They’re opportunities to meet people that don’t exist on a screen. You don’t need to boot up, log on, or check in. All you have to do is make eye contact and smile. It’s like swiping in real life.

If you can think of dating apps and sites as a supplement, not as your entire subsistence, you might actually free yourself up to make a real connection– that is, if you can look up from your phone long enough.

So good luck with your digital diet, and don’t worry: if you get too bored and horny, relief is always a swipe away.

05264121fe72c77153f40e5b4a7063c7390656-wm

Confessions Of A Closet Neurotic

shutterstock_145656107People who know me as a personal trainer know I’m pretty tough. I’m strict. I’m disciplined. I push my clients to aim high, to work through their self-doubts, and to face their fears and find their strength—both physically and emotionally.

And I get results.

How? Because I’ve worked through the same stuff myself and know the struggle. I’ve been in their gym shoes and have walked the walk.

The truth is, I may be a professional ass kicker (just ask my clients) but I can be just as neurotic as the next person (just ask my husband).

My past neurosis of choice was control. I was the classic control freak who worried about everything: her single status, her health, her need for perfection. My head was filled with crazy thinking, “mishegas”as my Yiddish-speaking grandma would say.

How crazy? Well, put it this way: if I got a rash, my mind would think I had flesh-eating disease.

Here’s the thing about control– it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the compulsive NEED to have it that makes you nuts.

If you’re neurosis-free and can’t understand what I’m talking about, let me break it down for you: needing control leads to stress, stress leads to worry, worry leads to anxiety. All of which sucked the life out of me and got me nowhere.

Actually, it did get me somewhere: to a shrink’s office. And while I was on the couch, here’s what he told me: #1 worry is bullshit, and #2, I wasn’t alone.

Apparently, when it comes to being secretly neurotic, there are lots of us in the closet.

You’d be shocked to know how many professional athletes (or people like me whose work requires balls and brawn) suffer from anxiety and other stress-related disorders. Folks who make their living being tough and powerful are wrestling with some powerful demons too. Considering the intense pressure, expectations, and media scrutiny sports stars are under, it’s no wonder some of them are headcases.

That they suffer makes them human; that they’re going public with it makes them extraordinary.

Major League Baseball’s Dontrelle Willis, Khalil Greene, and Zach Greinke have all been put on the disabled list at one time or another for social anxiety. In the NBA, L.A. Laker Metta World Peace has been open with his depression, and former Houston Rocket first-round draft pick Royce White, has been struggling with generalized anxiety disorder since he was a kid.

Did you know professional soccer stud David Beckham has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? His condition leads him to do all kinds of kooky things like count clothes and place magazines in straight lines and symmetrical patterns.

Even pro golfer Charlie Beljian isn’t immune from the dangers of getting into your head. Last November, when the 28-year-old golfer was in the second round of the PGA’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, an extreme case of panic struck. Out of nowhere, his throat tightened and his heart raced. A TV audience watched as he struggled through 18 holes with a skyrocketing pulse. He thought he was going to die, but didn’t. Instead, he powered through his anxiety and went on to a final-round win the next day.

Who knew anxiety could come in handy?

When channeled properly, nerves and adrenalin can work to your benefit. “Nervousness is your friend,” says JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a Stanford Medical Center sports psychologist who’s treated Olympians as well as Fortune 500 businessmen. “It’s a normal reaction to an important moment in your life.” However, when the “flight or fight” instinct of life becomes too much, that’s when people develop issues.

But don’t worry fellow nut jobs, there’s good news. We’re geniuses! According to studies in Higher Perspective, people who worry tend to have higher IQs and problem solving abilities. Expert neurobiologist Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College in London explains it this way: “Worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs over the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.”

This brings me back to my own issue: Control.

Here’s what I’ve learned: I can’t control everything. No one can. Worrying about stuff you can’t control will suck the life out of you, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you’ll be free—of stress, anxiety, and mishegas.

Giving up control and letting go is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. So is learning to have faith, not fear. It’s a process that takes practice— sometimes years. But I’m proof that it works. When I finally stopped worrying about my weight, I made peace with my body; and when I gave up on getting married, I met my future husband.

As for the rest of the stuff I’m still neurotic about? I guess I just have to kick my own ass and get over it.

IMG_0091

Dear Ladies of Online Dating, This Letter Is For You

shutterstock_32443075A few months ago, a college friend of mine who’s an avid online dater, received a note in her dating site inbox. It’s a love letter of sorts, in that the guy who wrote it was genuinely interested in her. But as you’ll see, the love didn’t last long. It was over before it even began, and they never ended up meeting.

According to her profile, she was everything he was looking for, that is, until he scrolled down to a certain point in her profile, and then it all went to hell. Suddenly, his hopes and dreams were dashed. He was no longer smitten.

Was it something she said? Yes, and he let her know it.

Most online dating exchanges are warm and fuzzy, fun and flirty—especially in the beginning. However, this get-to-know-you email was hardly that. It was a tongue lashing.

As you’ll read, he gave her a piece of his mind about life, love, and finding a good man with integrity. I was so struck by his commentary that I felt compelled to share it with you (with her permission, of course).

Below is his letter in its entirety. Other than leaving out names and identifying information, it’s all him. His words may make you cheer or make you angry, but they will definitely make you think.

He titled it “Sigh”

“I approached your profile the way I approach all profiles that catch my eye. I read your words…then look at your pictures…and then scroll down to the information listed at the bottom.

I thought there might really be a connection here. A couple of unhappily single, middle aged people. We would have a blast cooking together, traveling together…loving together.

 I feel the same…passionate about life, believe in love, honorable and honest at all times, good values, big heart, good soul and a sense of adventure you wouldn’t believe. 

And then…

I’ve gotta be athletic and toned, huh? Maybe when I was 30, but I’m 55 now…I’m working on it full time. I’ll never have 6 pack abs again…but, Jesus Christ, I’m 55…How in shape am I supposed to be?!! I can still get an erection without Viagra…isn’t that enough?

And then…the killer…

Why?! Why?! Why do so many women feel the need to put down $150,000+ in that stupid income entry line? Some years I make more than that…some years, a lot less…This year I’m starting a new business and it will be significantly less. But, this is extremely besides the point. Extremely!

Every man I know…every man I’ve ever talked to that I respect…and it’s absolutely true for myself, finds it insulting and extraordinarily irritating when a woman, any woman, feels the need to actually state how much money he needs to make before she’s willing to see him socially. To a man, it feels like you’re saying, ‘If you want me, you have to be able to afford me.’ To a man, it feels like you’re shopping for a fat wallet, rather than a good and honorable man. To a man, it feels like you’re prioritizing money over love. It’s so unbelievably shallow and superficial. Is this the message you’re trying to send? I’m not exaggerating this. Pretty much every honorable man I know feels the same. This is ALWAYS a deal breaker. You see the number and you immediately move on to the next profile. 

In your case, that was hard for me to do…hence the lengthy email.

Yes, you’re used to living a certain way…Yes, you want to make sure your man is a provider…Can you imagine how many quality men you are chasing away because you need to tell him how much money he has to make just to talk to you? What if some incredible guy, a guy who is so perfect for you it would make you weep with joy, only makes $100K or $75K or $50K…Are you going to toss him in the trash heap simply because he doesn’t have enough money to walk in your exalted company? This does NOT reflect sound values.

You seem like such a terrific woman. Men and women will never truly understand each other…I’m wondering if perhaps you don’t realize how honorable men of integrity and character view this obnoxious number.

This is the first time I’ve ever written a woman about this. We seem so compatible in every regard, but I was so completely disappointed when I saw that entry, I just felt compelled to write.

If my words or thoughts have offended you, I’m truly sorry. I meant no offense. I apologize profusely. This was not my intent. I guess my intent was to express my frustration and disappointment. This is really the first time I was significantly disappointed to find that number in the profile of a woman who appealed to me on so many other levels. “

I told you it was a tongue lashing – but a teachable moment at the same time. My friend got schooled and scolded, but she learned the lesson and wasn’t offended. Actually, she felt horrible. Horrible that filling out a particular field on a dating profile could end up making her look bad, which she’s not. In fact, she’s one of the most honorable people I know. She wrote back to thank him, then promptly changed her profile settings.

True, most women want security. But wanting a provider shouldn’t be the driving force in one’s search for love. If all you’re interested in is what’s in the income field, you’re doing love a tremendous disservice. You’re counting out possibilities and dismissing potential. Can you imagine how many quality men you are chasing away because you need to tell him how much money he has to make just to talk to you? He said it, not me. But I’m saying it too.

The prospect of meeting your soul mate should never have a dollar amount, or a price for entry. But if you have requirements, I say keep it private. You’ll find out soon enough if they have a fat wallet or six-pack abs –or neither– which is OK too.

Whoever this guy is, I praise his honesty and respect his message: no one’s perfect, nothing’s perfect. Whether it’s one’s body, age, or bank account, there’s always something that makes us human and beautifully imperfect.

P.S. A man with money doesn’t necessarily make him a great guy, but you know that already.

When it comes to love, you should never compromise. You should never settle. All you need to do is keep an open mind, an open heart, and an open field on your dating profile.

Feel Love, Be Free, Live Life, And Other Things To Do Before You Die

Treva & Candy Chang

Me and artist Candy Chang

What do you want to do before you die? Who do you want to be? How do you want to live?

Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang’s urban art installation project “Before I Die” is not about death. It’s not a bucket list of things to do and see before you die. Rather, it’s a thought-provoking way of looking at how you’re living right now.

Are you realizing your potential in life? Have you achieved your goals? Are you honoring your highest good? Are you getting the love you deserve? What are you grateful for? What’s still missing in your life?

Life’s greatest questions now have answers, and they can be found on a chalkboard near you.

In September, I moderated a panel discussion at a conference sponsored by the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) called Deal With It: A Women’s Conference, held at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Part of the program included a breakfast keynote address by Chang. In her show-and-tell presentation, she introduced the audience to her piece “Before I Die,” a powerful, soul-searching exploration of the human condition.

I was blown away by what I saw and what I learned.

Before-I-Die-New-Orleans-Candy-Chang

A Before I Die wall in New Orleans

PAIN AND SUFFERING ARE UNIVERSAL, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Candy Chang created “Before I Die” as an interactive global art project that invites ordinary people to share their personal aspirations, desires, hopes and dreams in the unlikeliest of spaces: on public walls, on abandoned buildings, on city streets. Not exactly typical places for self-examination and confession,  but that’s what makes it so striking – the combination of its logistics AND the collective emotions it stirs up.

before-i-die-writingsBONDING + CATHARSIS = ART

After losing someone she loved and falling into a depression, Chang initially created this experiment on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood as an anonymous place to help heal and share intimately with her neighbors. The project gained global attention, thanks mainly to the curiosity and passion of its participants. Since its inception, over 1000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 35 languages, in over 70 countries, including Kazakhstan, Iraq, Haiti, China, Ukraine, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Argentina, and South Africa.

Before-I-Die-05-writingWE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

The walls are “an honest mess” of the longing, pain, joy, insecurity, gratitude, fear, and wonder that you would usually hear only in the confines of a therapist’s office or church confessional. Publically, the project brings communities together by fostering honesty, trust, support, and understanding. Privately, it allows people to let it rip.

And boy, do they let it rip. With a simple piece of chalk, people bare their souls and unload their consciences. Responses on Before I Die walls range from hilarious to heartbreaking, from gutsy to gut-wrenching. You laugh, you tear-up, but most of all, you THINK. And that’s the purpose of the project: to be contemplative and comforting all at the same time.

BEFORE I DIE I WANT TO….

“I want to live 100%”

“I want to abandon all insecurities”

“I want to be fearless”

“I want to get my wife back”

“I want to do a cartwheel”

“I want to figure out how to let go”

Before I DieIt goes on and on, because life’s to-do list goes on and on. It never ends, and nor should it. We’re all imperfect creatures, works-in-progress that keep seeking and evolving. Everybody’s got some chalkboard goal they would like to achieve this lifetime. The question is: are you willing to make it happen, or are you willing to make peace if it never happens at all? I think you have to be prepared to do both. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Life’s too short.

During her presentation, Candy Chang handed out Post-It notes to the conference attendees to scribble down their deepest, most innermost Before I Die thoughts. Afterwards, they were assembled on poster boards outside the hotel banquet room. Like the responses on walls around the world, these were just as poignant, moving, and excruciatingly honest. You could feel the grief and hope in every word.

My response is included somewhere in these Post-It notes. I can’t tell you where, but I can tell you this: I could’ve written any number of them.

It’s good to know I’m not alone.

IMG_1045IMG_1046IMG_1055

 

 

 

The Beauty Of F*cking Up

Thinking Man v2The coming of Yom Kippur has me thinking about regret and guilt – you know, the usual suspects when it comes to feeling shitty about yourself.

On Yom Kippur, we’re given a day to atone for our sins, to clean the slate, to clear our conscience, and make things right, while we fast for 24 hours as punishment for the past year’s misdeeds.

And when it’s all over, we go back to our flawed selves, burying our shame and committing wrongdoings, until we bring them out again next year for reflection and redemption.

I say atone it AND own it. Not just for one day, but for LIFE. That way you can be truly free.

 

Wrong Choices, Right PlacesLooking back, maybe you did some things that you’re not proud of. Maybe you made some poor choices or unwise decisions; maybe you did some dumb shit that sabotaged you or hurt others; maybe you acted impulsively, or didn’t act at all when you should have.

In other words, you fucked up. That’s life. Join the club, we’re all members.

But rather than beat yourself up for it, is it possible to accept your fuck-ups with a sense of respect instead of regret? Is it possible to see your mistakes not as liabilities, but as assets that gave you more character, depth, and soul?

You may have fucked up, but you’re not shit out of luck: the wrong choices you made yesterday could very well be taking you to the right places today.

Beautiful Imperfections

Instead of letting your screw-ups get the best of you, why not make the best of them? Embrace your imperfections and make peace with your flaws because chances are, they made you who you are today: someone smarter, wiser, stronger, and more resilient.

This is why fucking up can be beautiful. It gives you incredible gifts of insight and clarity, as well as opportunities to put your guilt and remorse to good use– like making positive changes and staying on the path of right action.

Fucking up will test you, tease you, torment you, and ultimately teach you things about yourself you never knew. The key is learning the lessons. You never want to waste a perfectly good fuck-up by not learning from it (nor would you want to ruin one by repeating it).

I’ve had some doozy fuck-ups in my day: I squandered time and opportunities; I missed the boat, took my eye off the ball, and made unforced errors. I wish I could go back in time and do it over, but I can’t. I can only be thankful for the lessons I learned and the wisdom it gave me.

I fuck up, therefore I am.

Everyday we have a chance to make things right; to make amends and move forward. And of course, everyday we have a chance to practice FORGIVENESS– fucking up’s best friend.

Just remember, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” To actually be able to do that, awesome.

My friend therapist Dr. Margaret Rutherford says it perfectly in her blog “How To Step Away From Paralyzing Shame:”

“You can call it forgiving yourself. You can use use faith in a higher Being to help you let it go. You can acknowledge you are human. You can see yourself with compassion. Tell yourself what you would tell your best friend. Realize you were learning something vital. You can do things to try to atone, things that will help you move past it. It takes work, but it can happen. It must happen for you to move on.”

Past MistakesI’m fairly certain that fucking up makes one a better person. We’re all a work in progress, and the process never stops. Trial and error, live and learn, you know the drill. The challenge is to remove judgment and condemnation from your path so you can turn self-loathing into self-loving.

Atone it and own it. Just don’t fuck it up.