21 November 2019

The Practice of Daily Gratefuls

I was driving home from Mass one Sunday this summer. 

A friend suddenly was unable to attend our plans for a concert at a local church. She had double booked herself on her calendar. While I understood, I drove home feeling a little disappointed. 

My disappointment led me to thinking about other parts of my life I feel less than thrilled about at times: being single, navigating online dating (oh ladies, it is special!), or coming home to a silent apartment.

Begrudgingly,  I knew what I needed to start doing to acknowledge how I was feeling in the present moment: counting my daily gratefuls.

I coined this term several years ago when my counselor gave me a homework assignment to practice for several months. Each day I had to write in a gratitude journal for 5-10 minutes all the things in my life I was grateful for, all the ways God loves and blesses me in the present moment.

Some days I sat down and wrote in the journal and other days I counted my gratefuls as I drove to work or was out running errands. After several months, my counselor asked me to report back what I had learned.

Learning to count my daily gratfeuls each day has taught me some important lessons about myself and life, regardless of whether I felt hopeful or messy about life, or a little bit of both.


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14 November 2019

How I'm Becoming My Best Dating Self (at 34)

I sometimes wish the lessons I know in my mid-thirties were things I knew in my twenties.

I have wondered if I was more emotionally aware and healthy in my twenties, could I have avoided an unhealthy marriage and divorce? How much different would my life look if I learned all these lessons before ever getting married?

My counselor often reminds me that "You know what you know, when you know it. And now, you know differently, so you act differently."

After my divorce, I dated in a much more healthy way than before I had gotten married. I went on a handful of dates before meeting someone and deciding to seriously date each other. While that was the healthiest relationship I ever had with a man, it did not last and I lost my peace about moving forward.

There is not much I would have changed from that relationship. 

As time passed, I began to see things I would want to do differently moving ahead. I saw we became exclusive very quickly and almost as quickly, began talking about marriage and a future life together. I saw some spiritual differences that I realized were more important to me than I initially thought. Very early on, I became emotionally attached to the outcome and automatically assumed this was the man I would marry.

Fast forward to the present.

I am almost a year outside of that relationship I ended last January.

I have been dating again since April.

I recently realized how at 34 years old, I am finally becoming the best version of my dating self.
I feel more free to be my authentic self and am finding more joy (and yes enjoyment!) in the dating process.

So what am I learning?!
How have I become the best dating version of me?!

  1. Dating takes time, practice, and skills. It is okay to go on lots of dates before choosing to be exclusive with someone. We only learn how to become a good dater and trust ourselves with practice. So go on dates, be open, and have fun!
  2. I am learning to not become emotionally attached to a man too soon. 
  3. I am learning the difference between feminine and masculine energy; what it looks like, means, and how it plays out in dating and romantic relationships.
  4. It takes time getting to know someone. The end goal is not to rush or jump into a romantic relationship. Lay the foundation for strong connection and friendship first. Take time in dating to really get to know someone before becoming exclusive with each other.
  5. Know what you are looking for. I have two lists to guide me as I have met and went out with different men. I call this my "5 Must-Haves" and "5 Can't-Stands." I know what are the most important traits I am looking for in a partner and what are the things I will not tolerate in a relationship.
  6. I am still learning and growing! A dear friend (Mave!)who is a life coach has shared with me a lot she has learned from coaching groups she has attended. I have watched a lot of dating coach videos on YouTube (my favorites are Helena Hart and Anya Grace!) and they have rocked my world in the best possible way. I am learning a lot of practical tools. As I implement them in my life I see how powerful they are. Dating in healthy ways is a continual learning and growing process.
  7. I am showing up as my authentic, radiant, feminine self! No games or expectations. My perspective on dating has shifted from a scarcity to abundance mentality. When I am confident and fully alive, I will attract the right kind of man into my life. 
  8. I cannot make anything happen with a man. If I am trying to control the situation or "forcing" things to develop, that never works out. My job is to not convince a man he should date me, but just be Patty! Eventually, being my authentic self will attract the right man for me into my life. 
  9. While I do want to be married and have a family, my main focus is not to "find the perfect guy." I am living a rich, full life as a single woman and now I know having a man is not what completes me. The focus is no longer the end result of marriage + babies. Instead, the focus is on the beauty and goodness of my current reality. 
  10. I am realizing while I have more knowledge and self-awareness, I will (and still do!) make mistakes from time to time. When I encounter this, I try my best to be honest and own my part. Dating is messy and its okay if you make mistakes.
  11. Lean back deeply into my own life. Stop obsessing or over-thinking about the guy I went on a few dates with or am starting to like. Lean back into living my rich life and focus on myself. If a man is interested in me I will know, and he will pursue me. My job is not make him want to be with me. That is called manipulation.

I have no idea how long I will be single. 
Perhaps the man I will end up with is already in my life or maybe I have yet to meet him.

This much I do know.

I am dating very differently at 34. 
I feel it in my bones, there is a shift inside of me.

Yes - there are rough days that feel lonely and scary from time to time. 

Overall I feel happy, content, joyful, and excited where this new attitude of dating and relationships is taking me.

I am no expert in this department, but I think at this stage in life I am finally living my best, healthiest life as a single woman.

No matter how long I am single, that truth is one of the best gifts I can give myself.

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18 October 2019

The Book on Healthy Marriages that Helps Me as a Single Woman

Over the summer my sister and I were having a conversation. We shared on what we each were like in dating relationships.

She giggled and gently teased me how I like doing things that help build a stronger relationship. I am all about learning about love languages, healthy boundaries, and love maps (thanks Dr. John Gottman!).
Maybe it sounds a little bit intense to you. Or perhaps some of this drive comes from having been divorced, and I just want to have healthy, strong relationships moving forward.

I think on some level I need to be a bit more present and let things happen organically as a relationship develops. But I do think there are a lot of great resources in the world to help couples (whether dating or married) to have long-lasting relationships.

So much of what I have learned about relationships in my early thirties, I wish I knew in my twenties. Between reading and therapy, I now know more about things like boundaries, codependency, and healthy sexuality.

And this knowledge has expanded my self-awareness and healing as a woman. Currently single, I regularly take the time to read and educate myself about the tools that make a good relationship great.

When I am in a serious relationship, I want to put into practice everything I have learned.

But when I reflect on which book has taught me the most about healthy relationships, I find myself returning to the work of Dr. John Gottman. Most especially his bestseller,  The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. 

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