Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friendship Spotlight on...


I met Judith nearly two years ago at Kids Camp, the first job I secured here in Germany.  It was one of the few good things that came out of working there ;-)  Judith is German, though when we met she had just come from the USA as well.  She was returning to Germany after a year spent as an Au Pair in Connecticut, just outside of NYC.  She absolutely LOVED that time of her life and was hesitant to give it up.  

After being introduced to Judith within my first week of work, I knew I was interested in hanging out with her.  We clicked right away and became fast friends.

Judith is warm hearted, kind, generous, loving, loyal, easy to talk to, a comforting and open presence to spend time alongside, easy going, joyful and fun to be with.  When I was thinking of the traits that Judith really embodies, these are the ones that came easily to my mind.  I have always really loved spending time with her, from the very first time we ever hung out.

A fun game which we created, from one of our meetups with Sweet Meets!!

Together, Judith and I started our very own meetup group about one year ago, in September, 2014 (on which we named Sweet Meets.  To our shock and excitement, we had over 400 people apply to join our group here in Frankfurt!!!  We ultimately accepted about 50 people.  This was such a cool experience, really neat.

We planned a number of different meetups, at Mexican restaurants, cafes, bars for after work drinks, tea and coffee, etc.  Some of our meetup get togethers had upwards of 20 people at once!  Others were more intimate with around 5-7 people attending that particular time (and in some cases, the smaller ones were some of our funnest meetups!)

Judith and I have had a wonderful time going out dancing together a couple of times.  She is always a lively, energetic, fun person to do this with.  The times I did this with her, I had a great time.

We have celebrated birthdays together, including one particular celebration which Judith planned as a surprise for me, inviting my closest friends!  This was such a touching and special gift for me on that birthday of mine.  This is also a primary example of her generous, loving and giving nature.

Judith and I also ventured to Berlin together, which was a BLAST!  In between the cozy train ride, the totally outstanding bicycle tour of the city we went on, including me tumbling off my bike drunkenly amidst both of our hysterical laughter, dinner out, playing the "book of questions" together, a great brunch and walk through the trendy cafe area of the city on Sunday, we had an AWESOME time.

Judith and I have shared embarrassing and goofy moments.  We have had close talks and heart to hearts.  And we have had LOADS of fun times together.  I am so excited for lots more to come.  Her friendship is one that means a lot to me.  She was one of the very first friends I made in Germany and is one of my best.  I had a feeling about her the moment I met her.  I could just tell she was someone I would really like and click well with.  And boy, was I right.  I am so lucky for this.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Role that Timing can play in Relationships

I had a really interesting conversation with a good friend tonight about the role that timing can have in terms of how a romantic relationship ends up playing out (or not).  This is especially ironic because I had written this particular blog entry a couple of weeks ago (I just hadn't published it yet) and I hadn't mentioned it to her.  The topic just came up of its own accord.  During our brief talk on this topic, she and I agreed that timing is a paramount factor in terms of relationships, in general.

But before I get into the role of timing in relation to romantic relationships (and how I believe that timing and who we end up spending our life with are quite connected), I would like to note that by stating that I believe timing plays a majorly significant role in regards to who we end up with, I am not ignoring the importance and influence of compatibility. Now to say something on that topic briefly.

Compatibility is certainly a significant factor in the long-term success of a relationship.  One example: if partner A is ambitious, active, adventurous and curious, its unlikely that partner A will have a long-term successful partnership with partner B who is incredibly lazy, inactive, uninterested in adventure or new experiences.  So yes, to an extent, compatibility matters.  But the important phrase being "to an extent."  Compatibility is a factor but its certainly not the main one that determines whether or not a relationship will work out.

Because, interestingly, there are a number of cases in which people seem as though they actually would not be compatible (to name a few examples: one is introverted, while the other is extroverted.  Or, they have two different religions or opposite political stances.  Or, one loves to read, write, hang out at home or with friends one on one, while the other loves to play sports, meet large groups of friends, and partake in more extracurricular activities), and yet, the couple actually ends up working quite well together.

Therefore, compatibility partially depends on what the two individuals differences actually are, as well as how those differences are handled.  If we allow them to, numerous differences actually compliment and can even create wonderful balance, excitement, interest and growth within the relationships and the two individuals in the relationship.

So, compatibility aside (which is important, but is relative and open in terms of interpretation), timing plays a HUGE role in terms of how a relationship will play out, and who we will end up with.

I think timing is so relevant in terms of this topic that its worth exploring in some detail.  Timing does largely determine who we end up with as a life partner.  (Though it of course, does not determine things like who we love, nor for whom we felt or feel the strongest for).

Who we end up with doesn't just depend on who we meet.  That is just a tiny piece of it.  With whom we end up depends on a number of more varied factors, such as: who we are personally when we meet each prospective partner (what kind of a person are we at that point in our life?  Because throughout of our lives most of us-though not all of us, change and grow to some extent).  It depends on our life goals and pursuits at that time.  It depends on our own openness, maturity and willingness to put in the efforts to be a good partner at that stage in our life. It depends on our prior relational experience at that point.  It depends on if our heart is currently preoccupied with someone else at that time, in which case we aren't really available anyway.  Are both people ready for similar things (such as, both are interested in some level of adventure and excitement together, or are both interested in having kids soon, buying a home and building a family at that point together).  These are a variety of the factors that relate to timing. If a number of these factors do not align well within your prospective romantic relationship, its unlikely to last at that time.  Regardless of the depth of love or infatuation felt.

Lots of these factors, traits and desires change within each of us, numerous times throughout our lives.  Therefore, a lot of whom we end up with depends on the traits, mindsets and desires that both we, as well as our prospective partner, have at the time of our relationship.

Liking, Lust and a degree of Compatibility (but as I described in the beginning, compatibility is a relative thing) are the starting points to a potentially successful relationship.  But more often then not, Timing plays a big role.  Bigger then most of us realize, I think.

Here are some aspects of timing, broken down into a few categories (though I am sure there are, of course, more then just these I am listing):

1. Age.  (As in, though its certainly possibly I suppose but someone who is 22 years old is unlikely to work over the long-term with a partner who is 35 years old).

2.  Goals in life, as in, do they match somewhat at that time.  For instance, if one wants kids right now, and the other wants to wait 5 years, then the relationship is unlikely to work at that time.

3.  Maturity.  This is a big one.  Is the person ready for things like: compromise, growth, some level of sacrifice, working things out instead of running away, good communication, etc.  If not, its unlikely they will have a successful long-term relationship with the next prospective partner.

4.  Where is one at in their life right now?  This is similar to goals, but not quite the same.  For instance, if one person is into partying every weekend, spending most days with their friends, and enjoys a great deal of independence and doing their own thing, then its unlikely that they are ready for a fully committed romantic relationship.

And those are just a few of the main factors that popped into my mind.  I am certain there are more.

Timing can work in a different way too, as in, often times people may work well together for some time, but then one of them changes or grows in such a way that they no longer work well together.  This can happen too.

Timing can also cause us to end up with the wrong person as well (if we allow it to).

For instance, if one is lonely, sad, or on the rebound, this can cause one to snag someone relatively quickly in order to attempt to fill a hole within themselves, which probably means there wasn't a lot of careful thought or consideration going into that relationship.  There is a high chance this person will not be a great match.  And the lonely person may cling to a mismatch out of this feeling of loneliness, sadness or fear of being alone.  This probably wouldn't happen if the person who is lonely instead focuses on filling their life with things that make them happy first (close friendships, exciting hobbies, a job they enjoy, etc) before they find a partner.  When you "need" a partner, you aren't going to be a good partner.  A great relationship is two wholes coming together to compliment each other.  Its not two needy halves clinging to one another to "complete" each other.

A lack of experience in dating can cause many people to assume that feeling intense emotions for another person means that this person should be their future life partner.  When of course, MUCH more thought and analysis needs to go into considering who might be a truly good life match for oneself.  And this is less likely to happen when one has more relational experience, more maturity and has experienced greater self growth that usually comes with having romantic experiences with a  number of people.

One may be going through a difficult phase in their life, so they take up with someone who is toxic for them during this time.  Yet they may not realize it when engulfed in their challenging or difficult life phase.  When maybe we would not have picked this person once we moved back into a better phase of our lives mentally.

The list goes on and on, as to ways that timing can have a negative impact on our relational choices too.  Those were just a few examples I was able to conjure up.

Additionally, one of the dilemmas we are faced with nowadays which makes the issue of timing in romantic relationships even more challenging is relational pressure.  This adds to our problem of timing within relationships.  Society pressures us, BIG time.  To hurry, hurry, hurry and find "the one" because then you'll be "complete" and then you'll be "secure" and "happy" and "finally settled" and basically all good.  Then all of your friends, and your parents, can give a collective sigh of relief.  You will finally then have check off all the little boxes of our "one-size-fits-all" society expectation checklist, which includes finding a partner and marrying.  Kids are the only requirement left.  This external rushing and pressure often results in people settling down too quickly with the wrong person.  Another complication added to the topic of timing.

Lets take a look at some relevant and thought-provoking data.  50% of marriages end in divorce.  And that is not including the 15-20% which separate permanently but do not file for divorce.  This means that 65-70% of marriages actually end!!!  And that's not even including those who stay together but aren't especially happy.  Could it be that too many people are settling?  Staying with someone out of comfort, shared history, and fear of letting go?  That many of us aren't as good as we think we are at choosing relationships?

It seems that while we love, we aren't well versed in making good relational choices.  That many relationships are chosen out of fear, lack of patience, staying with someone out of shared history, possibly laziness and anxiety in imagining starting over.  And the second main point being that, though some reasoning towards who we end up with has to do with ones own personality, the two peoples compatibility (to a relative degree), and ones changing life goals and desires, a significant part of who we end up with is additionally related not just to love, but timing.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lets Bring Em Back! Old school manners and habits long gone that we should resurrect.

Dressing well.  What happened??  Why did we all start dressing so dumpy?  Just 5-10 minutes of extra effort and thought going into ones outfit/daily look can create a noteworthy change.  And its well worth it, providing reverberating effects within the better dressers life.

Such as, one feels way better overall (more confident, happier, more awesome and attractive), your more upbeat energy attracts various others into your life (potential new friends, romantic prospects, etc), and looking good makes you more likely to land things like jobs, dates, free upgrades, and more.  And lastly, dressing well just adds more confidence, eye-catching interest and joy to your life and to those around you who get to enjoy looking at you.

See directly below for the sad state of affairs our society seems to be within in relation to our attire...

Why is all of the above happening?!?!  That (photos above) is the norm nowadays, on a daily basis.  My god.  There is just no excuse for any of it.  Just how lazy and trashy have we gotten... :-/

THIS is what we should be seeing much more of 
(see photos below).

Truly being present with others in person.  Put away the damn smart phones!!!  What is this new thing with people lying their phone on the table between them and their current social companion, so that every single time it "dings" or vibrates, its is distracting and essentially pulling them out of their connection and concentration with the person they are actually with.  This stuff totally takes away from your in-person interactions, and for not even a real connection but a pseudo-connection.  It takes away from deepening and enjoying your real face-to-face interactions to their fullest within that moment.  Can people no longer give the person in front of them their undivided respect and attention for an hour or two??  

Then there are those of us who may wonder why they feel lonely so often.  Its because when engaging in this habit, it essentially half-asses your in-person social bonding.  I would predict that this is one of the pieces of the puzzle as to why, according to research, nowadays loneliness is at epidemic levels, with people reporting they have less close connections then ever.

Answer your texts later, when you are alone, bored or have some free time.  When with a person, be there fully.

This seems to be our current state of affairs regarding technology use and social outings:

What is the point of going out to dinner for these four???? Hahaha

What happened to this???

Look at that.  NO cell phones on the table!!!!  What a concept.  They are actually focusing 100% on one another!

Letter writing.  Anything, from a thank you card, to apology letters, to homemade birthday cards, and even love letters.  An email just doesn't pack the same punch.  And who is going to print out a nice email and save it in a box somewhere special?  Not many of us.  But a wonderful handwritten letter/card is personal, special, thoughtful and is something people are likely to save and cherish.

This is a really neat (and short) article: 7 reasons we should write more letters

Putting more effort into our relationships (both romantic and friendship).  Some people still do this, of course.  But large numbers of us do not.  It seems people have become lazier, flakier, interested when its convenient or easy but then absent when its not.  People nowadays are often "too busy" or just plain distracted.

This is likely another reason that large numbers of people are so lonely.  Being a great friend is supposed to be mostly great fun, but there will be times when its not always easy as well.  However, putting in effort and being a great friend means being clearly present during both times.  And this is something that is immensely worth it over the long-run, when you look around and realize what amazing friends you have (because you chose wisely, and because both of you were great friends to one another).

Modesty.  It seems that with each passing year, our society grows more narcissistic, exposes more and more skin in our daily dress, we continue to increase our level of oversharing to totally weird proportions, are becoming more and more self centered, crude, rude and outrageous.  Why?

What happened to things like: classiness, mystery, manners, censoring oneself until close with someone, being polite, showing genuine interest in others and not just with oneself.

Yikes.  Apparently I didn't get the memo that nowadays, this is how to attract both a man, as well as others in general.  Apparently this makes a favorable impression and will cause people to think more highly of you ;-), since so many people are dressing this way...

We are getting more and more naked with each passing year.  

And yet, is there a single person who can genuinely say that any of the above is actually more attractive, alluring, classy and sexy then the photos you are about to see below?

Scroll down for true sexiness, allure and class.

WAY sexier then the photo of the jeans shorts above (with major spillage out the bottoms).

Dating.  This is related to the topic of "putting in effort"...what happened?  How did we manage to screw up what used to be one of the most straight forward things in history?

Things like romance, expressing clear interest, actually asking women out on dates, all down the tubes.  Our culture has become one of fast hookups, "hanging out" instead of dating (what does that even mean?  Confused?  So am I ha-ha), "Ghosting" (anyone heard this term?  I just heard it for the first time about two weeks ago), and thousands of opposite-sex options that one can select simply by swiping their finger across a screen.

Apparently, for those who do not know, "ghosting" refers to someone who just drops out of a relationship or friendship silently, without warning and without another word, never speaking to the person ever again.  What the f*ck is that?  How incredibly childish, cold, cowardly and just absurd can you possibly get?  That we have become a society in which we do not have the guts nor the respect to speak with a person we once cared about, face to face, and talk like adults about an issue or before parting ways.  Insane.  And that is just one example.

We have become a society, in terms of our romantic lives, that is less interested in investing, less interested in effort, more cowardly, less respectful and more impolite.  We prefer things to be disposable, quick, easy and instantly gratifying.

Stopping for a couple of hours (gasp!  Yes, I know.  A couple of hours, or even more.  Crazy!! ;-p) and relaxing, enjoying oneself with a low key hobby, wonderful book, or other enjoyable solo pursuit.  (This is not to be confused with being slumped listlessly on the couch in a stupor zoning out over the TV for an afternoon ha-ha).  I am referring to enjoying and even reveling in ones own company.  Feeling at ease, relaxed and happy.  And losing oneself in a fulfilling and gratifying activity.  This could be anything, from painting a picture, to reading a book and enjoying a hot beverage, to writing a story, or going for a walk in the woods.  It could be playing a musical instrument, or gardening, sewing a blanket or item of clothing, or cooking a new recipe for the joy of it.  The list goes on, but the activity should bring one happiness and interest.

Everyone is always so rushed nowadays.  We are always to distracted.  We are always "just too busy," so hurried and frazzled.  Always stressed.  Our social calendars so full.  And yet, when we do have pockets of down time, we tend to waste them.  Spaced out, bored and unfulfilled.

Life is meant to be REVELED in.  Not just spent running from one moment to the next.