I seem to have more than my fair share of ailing and failing friendships, and it has me a little bit concerned. In the course of my life, I have let some friendships wane out of a too-busy life and I have allowed some to fade because of disagreements and hurts. The worst of these happened a few years ago between me and a dear friend of more than a decade. The worst part about it was that during the year that we stopped speaking, she developed cancer and died before I could apologize or mend fences. I refuse to ever let that happen again.
Some friendships can take a heavy blow and bounce back because both parties are willing to be vulnerable and communicate their hurts. Others, get stuck and never recover. I think that when friends fall out of our lives, it is ultimately because a shift occurs and the friendship is no longer serving both parties. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it is just a thing that happens and it hurts. That person often becomes the “someone I used to know” that Gotye sings about. Of course, he is singing about a lover, but the message is basically the same.
I recently fell out with two different friends, one male and one female, for vastly different reasons. Maybe I am just too hard on the people I call my friends. I insist that they have integrity, are truthful and that they walk their talk. In my opinion, a true friend is one that will call you out on your shit and wants you to do the same for them. That, to me, is the greatest gift we can give our friends.
There’s only one problem with this scenario; the truth looks different depending on one’s perspective. Sometimes we just have to decide if we are willing to take all the blame for something or if we are going to stand up for our beliefs and toe the line. I am a big fan of standing up for my beliefs and for my worth, though it’s a belated gift that I am finally giving myself.
For the longest time, I had a hard time finding my voice. It was like my throat chakra was in a knot. I would let people take me for granted. I would allow them to treat me with disrespect, and I would keep my mouth shut out of fear of losing them. Then one day, I woke up and realized the disservice I was doing to my Self. That pesky fear of abandonment finally lost its grip and I am forever changed because of it.
Friendships end. That is life and it is an inevitable part of being human. There doesn’t have to be any judgement about it. There doesn’t have to be any blame. For all the friends I have lost during my life, I have also managed to save a few. I have made amends and been willing to communicate and heal the hurts and miscommunications, but only because the other person was also willing. For those friendships, I am even more grateful because they are a mirror of hope and self-worth, and that seems to be the bigger theme that is occurring in my life these days.
For my birthday, a friend did a spiritual reading on me and said that I needed to journal daily that “I am worthy.” She also suggested that I say it while I stare at myself in the mirror. I thought it was strange at first, but I did it anyway. After a few tries, I was able to add a little more to the sentence. “I am worthy of love.” “I am worthy of success.” “I am worthy of a faithful partner.” “I am worthy of abundance.” I am worthy of being seen, of being heard, of happiness, peace, wholeness, stability, great friends . . . . well, you get the idea.
The words “I am” create a complete sentence, and they are the most powerful words we can say. They are magic and anything that we add to them becomes a mantra that anchors and creates the life that we want and deserve. If you don’t believe me, try it. Just remember, using “I am” to judge and knock yourself down is just as powerful so it’s important to be mindful. You can just as easily create a life that you don’t want if you use this phrase without proper intention.
When my son was little, we had a favorite book called Unloveable by Dan Yaccarino. It was about this little dog who thought he was unloveable because the cat, the fish and the bird told him so. Then one day, he met a new friend who reminded him that he was absolutely lovable. Find those friends. They are the ones worth fighting for, and they will be the ones who remind you that you are absolutely lovable and worthy no matter what.
I’ve been struggling with this question for awhile now, but it really hit home this week. Probably one of the most influential movies that has impacted my understanding of this question came when I first watched the now classic, “When Harry Met Sally” and heard Billy Crystal’s character state in a matter of fact voice that men and women can never REALLY be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. That gave and still gives me pause. Over the years, I have tested this hypothesis and I have come to conclude that there is A LOT of truth to it. Notice that I didn’t say that it is 100% accurate, however; in my experience, it is mostly true.
Can men and women be friends? Yes. Does the sex part get in the way? Yes. Can they be friends in spite of this? Yes? Probably? Maybe? Actually, I have no valid data to confirm this. I do believe it is possible, just like I believe that faeries and unicorns exist somewhere, even though I can’t see them in this dimension.
For starters, it might be good to define what we mean when we say “friends” and to qualify it a little. Let’s check in with Oxford just to be on the safe side. A friend is:
A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.
A person who is not an enemy or opponent; an ally.
A contact on a social networking website.
To be (or become) on good or affectionate terms with someone.
After looking at all of these definitions, I am partial to the word and definition of friendship instead. It seems like a more accurate description of what I consider important. I can be “friends” with hundreds of people, but far fewer of those friends involve true friendship. This is particularly true of my friendships with men. Oxford defines friendship as:
. . . a close association between two people marked by feelings of care, respect, admiration, concern, or even love.
So why am I picking on men today? There is a reason of course, and it is fueled by a man I recently met and have been getting to know for a few months. He showed up at a time when I wasn’t looking and when I think I needed to believe that people like him exist. He was my unicorn.
I met him while I was sitting on a log, enjoying the scenery of the aspen along Kenosha Pass. Even though I enjoy group hikes, I also love being in nature alone, and such was the case on this day. I had stopped to rest and have a snack before heading back the three miles or so to my car when a single man (with no ring on his wedding finger), stopped to ask for directions. I gave them and as he continued on his way, I thought to myself, “now, that is the kind of guy I need to be with.” I thought this because he was out adventuring alone, enjoying nature in a similar way and he appeared to be single.
I was already in the process of gathering my things and continuing on my way when he paused as if he had heard my inward thoughts, turned around and headed back toward me. I looked at him and asked, “change your mind?” We started up a conversation as we walked back through the wonderland of golden leaves and mystic trees. As we neared our vehicles, he asked if I’d like to exchange numbers and go on some hikes together in the future. For the record, I have never done that. I’ve never just handed out my number to a man I just met in the woods, but the connection I felt in that moment was undeniable and friendly, so I did.
Less than a week later, he proved to be someone I could count on in a way I had never imagined. He inspired and encouraged me to fulfill my personal goal of hiking up to Gray’s Peak for my very first 14er. For a hike that started at 6 a.m. and ended almost 10 hours later, we got to know each other more quickly than usual. You don’t truly know someone until you’ve had to hide behind a rock and pee when they are nearby!
It was a few days afterward that I stumbled upon his Facebook page (Ok, fine, I searched for him). What I found was not what I expected; a recent profile photo of him posing with his adult children, and a very obvious wedding ring on his finger. I thought it strange (and alarming) that he had left out this very important detail about himself.
To be honest, I was more than alarmed, I was downright pissed. It felt like an intentional omission, and one that hit a nerve because of my own personal history. When I asked about it, he didn’t deny it and confessed that he didn’t mean to hide it from me. There was already a feeling of connection and chemistry brewing between us so it felt like this changed everything about our friendship and what seemed to be evolving between us. While it’s not like he lied, he also didn’t present the truth that a wedding ring implies. We talked about his situation, and based on what he shared, it seemed like it would be safe to continue our friendship without stepping on his vows, which he assured me were over.
Every couple of weeks, we would meet at the crack of dawn and go on an epic hike somewhere. It was nice to finally meet a man organically, without the taxing effort of online dating. We laughed so much on these excursions and realized our mutual love for nature. He was always very respectful and conscientious of honoring my boundaries, and it felt safe and solid to be around him. This was entirely new to me and I got swept up in it.
During the moments in between our hikes, there was much flirting and communicating via text messages, and a few phone calls. It was about this time that it occurred to me that I needed to clarify a few things about the status of his divorce proceedings. Being ready to sign on the dotted line is much different than just living under different roofs. It turns out that he didn’t even have a lawyer yet.
As the truth of the situation came to light, he began to pull away. Suddenly, the closeness that had been so easy and tangible at the beginning, was replaced with mild indifference and a formality that felt foreign. I started to question whether I had imagined the connection entirely. The energy between us started to yo-yo between two extremes and it left me feeling much less safe and grounded.
In an effort to be a grown-up and not make assumptions, I asked what was going on. His response was the type of bullshit answer that I have heard in various forms from a long line of men throughout my life, and it was not well-received. It sounded like a cop-out and in one swift moment, two months of budding friendship became tenuous.
In a recent blog, I shared about how I had finally managed to let go of 18 years of anger, blame and hurt from my own divorce. I know that my friend is at the beginning of this process, and that he has a long road ahead of him. How can I be friends with someone without giving in to my curiosity and attraction to him? The answer is simple.
I have come to the conclusion that this chance meeting and the challenging emotions that have surfaced within me because of it, are here for a reason. I just don’t truly know the reason right now, but I think it involves learning to allow my friends to be where they are without needing them to be where I want them to be. In other words, to accept them without condition, and focus on my feelings of care, respect and kindness.
I’ve had to ask myself some tough questions. Am I the kind of person who only wants to be friends with those who have successfully walked through the fire of change? Or do I want to be the kind of friend that walks beside them, giving encouragement and acceptance along the way? It is the latter of course, and I finally realize that in order to do this, I must stop projecting my expectations onto them, and just sit back and be grateful that they showed up at all. On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all the perfectly imperfect people who show up for me, and give me the support I need, when I least expect it. I hope that I can return the favor, and give back all that I have received with unconditional love and acceptance.
Letting go is in the air. Trees are doing it. The seasons are doing it. Seems like we are in good company if we want to do it. I’ve been carrying something for a really, really long time, and this week, I made a decision that I am ready to let it go. This week, was the mother of all weeks, thanks to a Full Moon on 11/11 in Mercury Retrograde. Oh yeah. Good stuff. If you didn’t feel it, then I guarantee you just weren’t paying attention.
This was the kind of week that is like a naughty puppy, or child, the kind that will do just about anything, good or bad, to get your attention. It got mine, that’s for damn sure. I’ve been yo-yoing between waking up at 3 a.m., unable to fall back to sleep and going to sleep at 8 p.m. the next night to make up for it; but my desire to let go started on my only day off of the week and the first Saturday I’ve had off in recent memory that had drop-dead gorgeous weather. All my usual hiking partners were busy doing their own thing, so I grabbed my aging, but ever-willing pup, and we headed to the woods of Nederland and the Hessie Trailhead with the intention of hiking up to Jasper Lake off of Devil’s Thumb trail.
I packed my micro spikes, some borrowed snowshoes and plenty of layers in preparation for the deep snow that I knew would meet me at the top, and got to the trailhead by 6:45 a.m. along with a record minimum of only 5 other cars. I love getting up really early to hike, and not just because it usually means less people will be there. The light is so stunning as it rises over the horizon and touches the trees and mountains in front of it. There is nothing like it, and pictures just don’t do it justice.
It was cold, icy and perfectly quiet; my favorite hiking conditions. About two miles in, we made it to the trail that would take us to the elusive Jasper Lake. I say elusive because I had a hard time finding any sort of direct trail to it via my AllTrails app, so I used the Devil’s Thumb Pass to King Lake trail as a guide to show me the route that would take me to Jasper Lake without hiking the full 15 mile loop.
The trail became a single file, narrow path with at least a foot of snow on either side. I was feeling very much like I was in the Robert Frost poem, The Road Less Traveled since it was clear that the majority of humanity was taking the trail that leads to Lost Lake. We got to an open area with an amazing view and an Indian Peaks Wilderness sign that seems oddly out of place. The wind started howling as we hiked across the exposed landscape. The snow here had given way to the dried up grass beneath it, but this was misleading because just on the other side, the thick snow returned and I had to switch to my snowshoes.
Since I was attempting to record my route, I had downloaded the trail to my phone and was using it to pick my way through the now two feet of snow. Many wrong turns later, I finally found a single set of footprints that led the way into an area that had not seen any other humans since the most recent snow storm. It was eerily quiet and the silence and view invited contemplation.
We were about four miles in and still had two to go before we would hit the lake. My dog was so done. He had not been on such a long hike in over a year and even though he wasn’t overheating, he was definitely tired. One look at him using the snow as a pillow, and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake. We pulled over, found a few rocks near the edge of a cliff and sat down to enjoy the view with some cold pizza for me and apple slices for him.
I started thinking about my life and what I wanted for the rest of it. For close to 20 years, I have been on a crusade of defiance. That crusade began when the ink dried on my divorce papers and I decided that men were not to be trusted. I lost something very dear to me that day. I lost a piece of my heart, and I have wasted many years aiming blame and guilt at the person who took it from me. I stood up, and spoke out loud to the trees and mountains around me and set an intention that I was ready to let all of that pain go. I asked to be guided to release my anger and hurt and find a way to forgive him, and the Universe heard me.
As is oft the case, I promptly forgot the magnitude of my request, when first thing Monday morning, men from my recent past started popping up like forgotten popcorn kernels. These were men I had met since arriving in Colorado, not my former husband, but they gave me some much needed closure and tested my resolve for forgiveness. It was about this time that I realized it was 11/11 which in numerology is a power number sequence that is like a door opening in the fabric of consciousness that surrounds our forgotten awareness that we are creator gods.
“Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into reality.” – Joanne Walmsley – Sacred Scribes
That evening, I found some instructions on how to use the power of the full moon and this numerological anomaly happening during Mercury Retrograde . I wanted to wait until 11:11 p.m. to give this little ceremony an extra added boost, but started early because I knew this was unlikely to happen. I made my list, burned it, and then wrote down the top three things that had stood out from it. I took this list, put it in an envelope and went to bed.
The following day I was invited to participate in a mini Tibetan bowl sound healing session with some graduating students at Atma Buti Sound Healing School. Sound is a powerful healer and one that I had not previously experienced in this way before. Surrounded by bowls as I lay facedown on a massage table, another bowl was placed on my lower back and as it was struck, I felt a shot of energy rise up my spine and out of the top of my head. That was the beginning of an even deeper shift that was soon to follow.
On Friday, I was gifted with a full body sound healing session from a very loving woman and healer I am lucky to call a friend and co-worker. When she asked if I’d like to set an intention for our session, I knew that my request from the Universe on Saturday had come full circle. I restated my desire to let go of the pain from my divorce and all the broken relationships that had followed.
During the session, I could feel this knot in my belly, right around the 3rd chakra/solar plexus area. I knew that is where I was holding all the pain, and I knew I was ready to release it. It is one thing to decide to let go and it is another thing to actually do it. Knowing how to do it does not come naturally for me or most people I know, but when we do it, we definitely know it. I pictured my former husband and I saw him as someone who came into my life to to be the “bad” one so that I could embrace radical forgiveness and know myself in a new way.
The tears poured out of me and I sobbed until I was empty. I cried for everything that I had lost and for the hope of something that I know I will find again. I visualized him surrounded in white light and I sent him a heart hug of forgiveness. I don’t know if he will feel it, and I don’t plan on telling him about it, but I feel it. I woke up this morning and as I look at my reflection, I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time. In the act of forgiveness, I have reclaimed a piece of myself that I lost when I embraced the hurt from my divorce and planted it in my center. My journey is far from over, but I think I am on the right path now, and I’m excited to see where it leads.
Sometimes the things we need most, the little things, are the ones that come from complete strangers. I was having a semi-hectic day as I left the Denver Art Museum last Monday. I had tried to start my car and and the battery stalled. I had just gotten out of my car again to see if I could find the source of the problem when a dark haired woman walked by, smiled at me and with the sweetest British accent said, “Hello Goddess!” I paused for a moment, confused, and then I felt my face light up with a giant smile as I realized she was referring to my “Back off, I’m a Goddess” bumper sticker.
She kept walking and I got back into my car, frustration forgotten. I turned the key and the engine fired up; my mood instantly changed. Life is full of chance encounters, and people who inadvertently pull us back from the proverbial ledge. We never know how one little thing we do or say can make a difference in another person’s life. The best moments are like this one, spontaneous, organic and recognizable. I am quite certain that I will never see that woman again, but it doesn’t matter because I will never forget how her words shifted and lifted me when I needed a boost.
If you ever have an urge to really feel like a bad ass, and you happen to live in Colorado, then there are 58 ways that are guaranteed to do it. Before I moved to Colorado, I had never even heard of a 14er, much less considered hiking up one. In case you are new to this world of adventuring as well, let me enlighten you. A 14er is a mountain peak that exceeds 14,000 feet, and offer views that will take your breath away, literally.
I turned 50 last February, and on that day, I decided that this would be the year to do all the ‘never say nevers’ and to make it as different from the 49 previous years as possible. I’ve been following all the other 14er bad asses on their Facebook page for at least a year, slowly trying to build up my nerve while marveling at their accomplishments and thinking to myself, someday . .
With winter weather slowly returning, I had just about given up on the possibility of this goal being achieved before 2020, but then an opportunity appeared. Another hiking group I follow posted that they were going to host their first ever 14er group hike. I registered immediately, and only later realized I had less than 2 weeks to prepare. Nonetheless, I did what I could when I could and as the date rolled around, I was totally ready to meet a group of strangers at 4 a.m. and hike up a gigantic mountain.
Unfortunately, the night before we were all set to meet, the group organizer abruptly cancelled the hike. I was crushed. My dog was already with the pet sitter, my gear was at the front door, and my snacks were packed. I was trying to work out the details of getting up at the crack of dawn by myself and hiking a 14er alone when I got a call from a guy I had recently met on another hike. It turned out that he had been wanting to hike one more 14er before it got really cold, so plans were made and alarm clocks were set.
We decided to meet at 6 a.m. at the base of the road that leads to the Grays and Torreys trailhead. Numerous AllTrails reviews had warned that the drive was going to be slow and treacherous so we decided to park and drive together for the final 3 miles. By the time we got all our cold weather gear and backpacks situated, the first morning light started to peek over the mountain. The weather report had warned of high winds and cold temps and it was totally accurate.
The cold created ice crystals in the exposed tubing of our water bladders almost immediately, so we had to stop frequently to pull them out of our packs and drink without the tubing. Although this hike is listed as “hard” it is considered one of the “easier” 14ers and can be a great way to knock out two at once since Grays and Torreys are next door neighbors. I tried not to think about this as we trudged slowly up the mountain. It was taking all of my energy not to reconsider my decision to be there. I couldn’t let myself get caught up in anything other than the present moment.
As we made our way up the 3,556′ of elevation gain, we saw every kind of hiker imaginable. My personal favorite was the guy who had shown up in no-grip Nike’s, ankle socks, a pair of acrylic gloves and a thin hoody. To my utter surprise, not only did he make it, but he got there way before we did! The hours ticked by and my hands and feet took turns being miserably cold. Every time I managed to look more than two feet in front of me, all I could see where colorful dots zigzagging up a seemingly endless mountain top.
After 5 hours of non-stop inclines, I wanted it to end and was ready to give up. We had seen several other hikers turn around without summiting and their disappointment was tangible. As much as I wanted to give up, I also didn’t want to give up. It was a bizarre dichotomy.
I kept sighing in an effort to catch my breath and when that didn’t work, I would just stop walking and stare off into space until I felt strong enough to continue. I didn’t know we were close to our goal, but my friend did. He stopped and waited for me to catch up to him and said, “Come on Logynn. It’s not much further, and we are going to make it to the top together.” That’s when I almost lost it. I could feel the tears welling up and they almost got the best of me. I ducked my head so he wouldn’t notice, and within a few more steps, we were there. All the struggle, all the baby steps forward and suddenly we were rewarded with a view that must be seen in person to fully appreciate. It is something extraordinary to be so small and feel so big all at once.
The top is actually pretty long as it turns out, and it was humming with activity. People were walking around, smiling and taking photos. While my first instinct was to collapse and sprawl, savasana-style like a sunbathing starfish, I headed for the rocks and a barrier from the wind. I was in a daze.
As more and more people popped up over the edge, the realization that I had actually done it hit me full on. A complete stranger patted me on the shoulder and congratulated me. Just like that, I was home. I was among this unusual new family of people with one thing in common, an unquenchable thirst to experience the beauty and bigness of this planet.
I was leaning back on my rock observing the exquisite cloudless sky, trying to find the energy to eat, when a lone raven flew overhead. I snapped a few pictures of him trying to remember what my animal totem books say about ravens. Turns out, its fitting that he flew over when he did.
If Raven shows up, it means: “Magic is in the air, and something special is about to happen . . . You’re gradually shape-shifting to a more confident, powerful and spiritually based you that will continue to emerge the more you let go of your old self.” (Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer, PhD.)
When I looked up the meaning of Raven the following day, I was stunned. I’m a big fan of signs and the Universe sends them frequently. Seeing that Raven at the top of that mountain was a beautiful reminder that I am on the right track.
Once we had rested enough to stand up, the temptation to “swing” over to Torrey’s and bag a 2nd 14er in one day was strong, but I was in full body fatigue and shivering too much to take that thought serious. The trek down seemed twice as long, and as we came off the trail, the once full parking lot was nearly empty.
One of the dangers of hiking 14ers is the weather and how quickly it can turn deadly with thunderstorms and lightning. Aside from the 22 degrees and even colder wind gusts, we had been blessed with a 100% chance of sun. The sunny drive back to the main road revealed all the golden aspen that were hidden in darkness when we had arrived several hours earlier.
Once we parked, my muscles were aching from sheer exhaustion. I had one of those slowly expanding headaches and started shaking again. I gathered up my gear, and prepared for the infamous bumper to bumper traffic on I-70 on my way back to Boulder. I thanked my friend for encouraging me to keep going and we hugged each other goodbye.
I am reminded of a quote I recently saw by Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer. He said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” I conquered one mountain along with all kinds of fears and excuses as I hiked my first 14er. I realize that in doing something so previously unthinkable and foreign to the life I once had, I am opening the floodgates to a life unlimited. It’s a little scary but it is also exciting. Change is inevitable, and I’ve decided to embrace it.
This past Labor Day weekend, I went to a retreat near the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park that has changed me from the ground up. I was there to work and be of service, but as is often the case, I was not immune to the energy of great minds and hearts, powerful speakers, healing services, ancient ceremonies and early morning hikes and sunrises.
I was able to experience a Puja Blessing and Kirtan, an early morning Silent Zen Bell Walking Meditation, a pre-dawn Harmonizing Nature Hike which included a full sage clearing and sunrise grounding and a Thunder Drum Circle in the lineage of the Plains Indians. Aside from the stellar cast of speakers, writers and musicians, I was introduced to over 30 men and women involved in Sound Healing using Tibetan Singing Bowls, some of whom were also Reiki masters, therapists, doctors, fellow rock and crystal hounds and of course, loads and loads of yoga teachers.
With that many different healers under one roof; positive and gut-wrenching change is guaranteed. It was like we all took turns having an emotional meltdown including unstoppable tears that came out of nowhere, stream of conscious journaling, the healing balm of nature and lots of support and hugs.
After a particularly emotional day, I connected with a woman who specializes in past-life regression, and I was all over that one. We did a mini-session that took me back to a life that showed me the “mask” I’ve been hiding behind out of fear of revealing my True Self. I was surrounded with love and support from my deceased loved ones during this process and I can still feel them near me.
The following day found me awake before dawn, hiking up a mountain in the dark with a small group of new friends. I had been given two pieces of beautiful pyrite and told to keep one and give one back to Mother Earth. As I stumbled up, tripping over roots and rocks, I was on a silent mission to be led to the place where I could plant my gift.
After the sun finished its rise, our small group wondered off to explore and connect in our own way. I saw a hidden area with lots of little birds hopping around and chirping, so I went to investigate. I was admiring the intimate relationship between the sun and the mountains when I glanced down and saw a feather on the ground. I knelt down, picked it up and held it to the sun. Just then, I knew this was the perfect place to plant my stone. A silent bond was formed in that moment, with the sun, mountains and my ancestors showing me the way without saying a word.
For starters, dating apps have absolutely taken over. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Swipe left or swipe right”, you can thank a dating app for that. For anyone who hasn’t had the “opportunity” to date through a dating app, prepare yourself, because it is not for the weak, and most definitely requires a thick skin. I’ve been dating off and on since my divorce, and I can say that online dating and/or dating apps has evolved, a little. However, it has also devolved.
I have tried a few different dating apps in the past year, and the thing I have noticed is that meeting potential dates and mates this way feels like a job interview with one purpose and one purpose only, to determine your desire to have a meaningless and untethered sexual encounter . . . preferably on the first date.
The vast majority of men I’ve met on dating sites have one thing in common; they are looking for a low-investment connection. Trust me, you haven’t lived until a guy tells you he is looking for this type of connection. I remember when I first heard a guy say something like this to me. We were at a cute little speakeasy, standing at the bar when he leans in, and asks, “So what are you looking for?” I had literally known this person for two hours, tops, so I really wasn’t sure how to answer that question. He helped steer me through it by telling me that he had just ended a nine month relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious. Ding! A light bulb suddenly went off as I realized what he was really asking.
In my head I did a flashback to his profile that said he was looking for an adventure and travel partner who lives life deep, but loves to laugh, is into keeping it real while having a good time. He also mentioned that he was spiritual and interested in the metaphysical. That was the thing that made him stand out to me. I rarely meet men who have an interest in this topic which is very close to my heart. Something wasn’t lining up. Turns out, either he hadn’t updated his preferences lately, or he was lying about what he was seeking. Hold that thought.
We later made plans to celebrate my 50th birthday doing something totally cool and new which I had decided was the theme for the upcoming year, but a conversation we had in between those plans almost derailed things as I admitted that while I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship at the moment, I also don’t like to carelessly hook up and have random sex with men that I have just met. In order to save face, he did his part and made sure I had a fun birthday experience, but he disappeared, as I knew he would, because he was really only there for the sex.
If I am going to spend time picking out a cute outfit and making myself look as if I just nonchalantly woke up this way without any effort, than believe me, it will take some effort! If I go to all that effort, it means I care and want to make a good impression because something about the guy’s profile made me want to know him outside of the virtual world. Call me old-fashioned, but I can promise that if we meet in person, it isn’t because I just want to fuck. It appears however, that I am in the minority on this one.
Take for example, a guy I met on a dating app whom we will call the, “I’m Super Motivated to Date You Guy”; and before you ask, yes, he really said that. This guy went from zero to 60 in less than 24 hours. Here’s his strategy. First, he stalked my Facebook page and tried to emulate things he thought mattered to me. Once he realized that wasn’t working, he decided on a new strategy. He begged me to give him my number and message outside of the dating app, and it went downhill from there. Here’s a sample of one of our texted conversations:
Him: I’d also like to hang out with you on a regular basis.
Me: I’d like to meet you to see how compatible we are in person.
Him: Or we can just talk on the phone prior. That whole compatible thing, im gunna need you to work with me on that. Honestly I prefer older women for this very reason. (spelling and punctuation his)
Me: (in my head . . and what reason is that? ) I’d like to hear your voice so talking on the phone ahead of meeting would be nice. (I have a thing for voices, the deeper and sexier, the better)
Him: Anytime babe (in my head: So I’m your babe now am I? Phfff!)
A few texts later, and by later, I mean a few minutes; I get this doozie:
Him: I may even insist on a commitment beyond one date.
Me: Wait, What?! You barely know me. . . .
Him: I know you pretty well, its mostly documented on FB and this conversation.
(Me, in my head: Hahahahahaha!) Well again, how about we meet before we start making too many plans for the future . . .
Him: Oh im already sold.
(Me, in my head: well, I’m not). Yeah, I’m a little more cautious with my heart.
As if all of this wasn’t enough to ignite a major red flag, I kept playing along. Honestly, by this point, I just really wanted to see what the hell he was going to say next. And he did not disappoint! Within minutes, he managed to bring up sex, but first he made sure to soften it by mentioning that he was only looking for a monogamous partner. That appealed to me, but then he launched into this dialogue:
Him: I do like to have a fair amount of sex, fair warning. Again, not my primary thing, just something I figured id mention. (He went on to mention it 3 more times that night)
Me: (in my head, WTF?!)
It was about to get really interesting, and this ladies, is your on-line dating public service announcement . . .
Him: I’m toying with idea of committing early on to like a 2 month commitment, that way sex early on won’t wreck it.
Me: Wait, what? (Me, in my head, OMG is this guy for real?!)
Him: Right so if i commit for 2 months you don’t get hurt, we can grow into the relationship and have sex while doing it. Its genius really.
(It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion . . . but I just can’t help myself, I’ve got to see how crazy this guy truly is)
Me: And what happens after two months?
Him: So after 2 months we keep building the relationship. if not well we’ll both of had a lot of fun, no regrets. I’ve cleared the next 8 weekends for you.
Me: literally speechless
A few texts later, he was feeling pretty confident that I had just bought his entire line of bullshit so he lobs one out into the stratosphere . . .
Him: Night baby. You should just swing by tonight, thatd be baller.
And that ladies, is how a narcissistic predator sounds when he is trying to “date” you. I shared this particular encounter because it was the most absurd and over the top version of what dating via phone apps has become.
I am also sharing this because I have to admit, even though my defenses were cued up and I was immediately suspicious of this guy’s game, a part of me started to get sucked into the vortex of it all. It was that quick. Seriously, as soon as he started talking about sex, the boundaries started melting because I mean, sex is nice when it has some intimacy and emotion mixed in with a nice orgasm. And talking about that via text makes us drop our inhibitions because it doesn’t seem real. It’s like talking to one of your girlfriends, and then you realize that you AREN’T talking to one of your girlfriends and it’s like ummmmmm, who is this again?
It suddenly makes perfect sense why guys so often lose interest if we don’t immediately give out our number. I have lost count of the number of men who deleted me when I refused to give them my number after they said “hi”. That’s how you know what they are all about. Is it too much to ask to meet for a coffee or a fancy water before I let you start blowing up my phone with inappropriate questions? Or worse, dick pics?!
So how did dating become such a field of virtual landmines? I think it started with an app designed to locate a person you’ve just met online so that you can “hook up” for a quickie. When this happened, the world of dating started to devolve. The other factor that makes dating today more difficult than ever is age. I was 49 going on 50 when I started dating here in Colorado, and let me tell you, nobody is dating in their age group.
My first Colorado date was in July 2018, and I finally took a break in March of 2019. In the space of 9 months, I went on 22 dates with 16 different men and their ages ranged from 25 years (don’t judge!) to 51 years old. Obviously, based on those numbers, a few of these men warranted more than one date; very few. Out of all of them, only one has become a friend, and that says a lot about him and his character.
One of the things that I noticed and cannot deny is that all of these men were mirroring a blatant truth back to me. I am not ready to be in a serious relationship right now, just as they aren’t. I am enjoying the hell out of my life, and for me, being in a serious relationship just feels like a trap full of compromise, topped with compromise. Not too long ago, I was in a 4-year relationship that was nothing but compromise on my part. I think I still have a little PTSD from that experience.
At this point in my life, I am not looking to marry anyone, but I do want the opportunity to get to know them, go on a hike, see a movie, talk, walk around Pearl Street, experience something new together, and hold the space for something to potentially develop. I think people have forgotten how dating used to be. It wasn’t always like this. It used to be exciting to just talk to each other and take things slowish. That little flip that your stomach would do when he called, or you saw him and smelled his cologne, the sparks that would fly when you held hands or kissed for the first time; I miss that.
As much as I would like to tell you that the example from above was the only weirdo I’ve had to deal with over the past several months, I have much more hilarium to share.
Next, is a guy I nicknamed GQ, or Fifty Shades of No Thank You, because quite honestly his photos looked like they were straight out of Vogue. So when we matched up and did some texting, I was thrilled when he asked me out. I mentioned that I was craving some Tex-Mex, so he invited me out to Chuy’s, one of my favorites.
We had a great conversation; he was very charismatic and just as good-looking in person as online, (not always the case). After he walked me to my car, he turned away with his hands in his pockets, and mumbled something over his shoulder about how we should do it again sometime. Well, I’m no psychic, but with body language like that, I figured I’d never see him again. Turns out the Universe heard my frustration, and we matched up a second time. That is when I finally discovered the real reason that he hadn’t called for a second date.
We were texting a little about Halloween and such when he messaged me with this little shocker:
Him: So, you do know that I am a Dominant right?
Me: (in my head . . and how would I know that?) Are you talking about 50 Shades of Grey dominant?
Him: That’s the one doll. (Me: I hate it when men patronize me with names like doll. I’ll show you doll, asshole!)
Me: (momentarily speechless) Alright, well, I actually hated that book and couldn’t even finish it but . . . out of curiosity, how long have you been into this dominant/submissive thing? Do you get a lot of positive feedback? (The journalism student in me suddenly came to life).
Him: A long time. And it’s hit or miss. Some are into it and some not. I consider it a filter.
Me: (in my head: Funny, I’m using this conversation as a filter) Um, probably gained some traction with the books and movies . . . I just take issue with being required to give up control. Is it about one night stands or mutual pleasure?
Him: Not a one night stand. It’s about pleasure through giving up control.
Me: Yeah, I can see how that works for one person, but you’re not giving up any control; you’re taking it.
Needless to say, I never saw him again.
I’d like to point out that I did not start dating again in order to gather evidence of the weirdness out there in the dating world, that just happened. I started dating again because I was tired of spending all my time alone and curious to see if guys in Colorado are different than the ones I dated in Texas. (They are).
I would also like to say that I am grateful for all the men that I met during the past 9 months. Even though a vast majority of them were only there for the sex, they were men I never would have met otherwise. I had some good conversations, discovered some cool new restaurants, and felt that flutter in my belly when I saw a few of them and smelled their cologne. I also learned a lot about myself and my needs right now.
I guess what I am saying is that if both parties are only there for the sex, that’s one thing, but don’t ask me out and pretend that you care, only to instantly lose interest when we do have sex. That’s just rude, even if you do apologize for it later.
Dating is not a complete waste of time, but it is something that requires intention and mindfulness. If you are brave enough to dive in, I applaud you! I hope that you meet a kindred spirit and have some fun together. Whether that fun involves a sexual connection only, or something deeper is totally up to you. Just be prepared and know that dating has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Knowledge is power and is a requirement today more than ever, as we try to understand ourselves through the process of dating.
Today, I decided to re-visit my old nemesis, a trailhead called Mt. Sanitas. If you’re from around here, you know all about this little gem. It’s where locals go for a quick and dirty workout. In fact, the girl that blew by me with her Labrador puppy, mentioned on her way back down that she was going on a 16 mile run afterwards. WTF?! So anyway, depending on your fitness level, and how often you have to stop to catch your breath, this 2.6 mile out and back with an elevation gain of 1,253 ft. is considered a moderate level of difficulty, and could take an hour or three.
I call this trail my nemesis, because I hiked it for the first time a year ago after living here for less than a month. I moved from Austin, TX which has a elevation of 489′ (as in above sea level). In case you are wondering, the elevation of Boulder is 5,328′, so just a little bit of elevation gain from my previous stomping grounds.
I personally was very naive about the effects of such a vast change in elevation, and I showed up to meet some friends with nothing more than a bottle of Ozarka water and unbridled excitement to be going on my first real hike since moving to Boulder. It was a sunny and clear January afternoon, the kind that starts out chilly and results in sunburn, dehydration and the inability to catch one’s breath. At least that’s how it was for me. All I remember is that the trip down the mountain was actually more difficult than going up, if that’s even possible. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I did not make it all the way up to the top.
Fast forward to July when some other friends were in town visiting and we all decided to go for a hike. Now, these friends, just like the others, are hard-core hikers, and very fit. They were kind enough to pause while I stopped frequently to catch my breath, and this time, I made it all the way to the top. We took a photo so I have proof! We ended up going through to Lion’s Lair Trail which was a nice reprieve from the rocky climb up Mt. Sanitas. It is not however, a dog-friendly trail, not even if you have the special sight and sound tags required in Boulder City limits. If you didn’t know this and you brought your pooch, you have two options: go back down the way you came, or turn your out and back hike into a loop by following the Mt. Sanitas Valley Loop.
It took almost six more months before I got the urge to hike this trail again, and this time I brought my dog. I swear my dog is a better hiker than I am. He’s also pretty old for a dog, but you wouldn’t know it based on his energy and enthusiasm for dragging me up the mountain when I was hiking too slow. This time, I noticed that I had way more endurance than before and the stops I took had more to do with photo ops than for catching my breath.
I was also much more prepared, a bit too much actually. After many hikes all over Colorado this summer, I learned a few things, with one of the most important being that a picnic at the top is a necessary treat, and alcohol tastes better the higher up you go. Nowadays, my backpack is always in tow and filled with at least one, if not two 32 oz. Nalgene water bottles, snacks, micro-spikes, lip balm, sunscreen, a sweat rag, Kleenex, and a blister first-aid kit.
On this cloudless Saturday, the thing that challenged me the most was to need to avoid the rush. Instead of rushing up and right back down the mountain, I allowed myself to sit at the top, eat, take some more pictures, rest completely, and savor the warm scent of pine trees. I let myself get grounded and I let nature heal the stress and tension of the previous week.
Living in this beautiful place is a gift that I do not take for granted. I moved mountains to get here and took a massive leap of faith that it was where I was supposed to be. I left family, friends and a lifetime of traditions because I felt the pull of this place where I was born, but never really lived. Mt. Sanitas is no longer my nemesis. She is my teammate. and the first of many stepping stones along my path to reconnect to my most authentic self through nature.
“You’ve come a long way, baby.” That was a popular slogan for women’s cigarettes when I was growing up in the 70’s, but today, it has a different meaning for me. It is the phrase that comes to mind as I stand at your center, and marvel at the changes since we first met. Now, you look and feel the way that I always knew you could, the way I imagined you in my mind. All the injustices and mistakes of the past have been repaired, replaced and renovated.
I’ve always believed that our homes are an external reflection of our internal lives, and that is what makes this moment even more special. As I see all the healing that you’ve received, I know that the same healing has occurred in my own inner life as well. When we first met, you were a hot mess, but I overlooked it all because you were my escape. I was ready to put down roots and escape the tyranny of apartment rentals. When I walked into your bright yellow living room, I knew I’d found a piece of myself, and I also knew I’d be painting you again, and again and again.
These past four years, we’ve shifted and changed together. I’ve turned your ugly sidewalks into garden-flanked pathways, and I’ve turned your barren backyard into wonderland of growth. Fruit and veggies have been harvested, wildflowers have exploded and re-seeded, and Mother Nature has been allowed to do her magic. In return, you’ve helped me let go of outdated and expired thoughts, habits, beliefs and loves.
I want to thank you for all of your gifts, and for the freedom to start anew. I am ready for our time together to end. I will always love you, but I have new adventures to create and new challenges to conquer. I’ve known all along that a part of me isn’t done yet. That part is being reawakened by an ancient, gypsy-like curiosity. That part is calling me home, to the mountains of my birth.
I’ve healed you, and you’ve healed me. After all the shifts and changes, this home is one that invites love, nurturing, stability and safety, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you for your gifts of growth, healing and renewal. Thank you for being exactly what I needed, when I needed it, so that I could heal the little, lost pieces of my soul. I lovingly release you, and I ask that you do the same for me. The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you; Namaste my friend.
I originally wrote and posted this in May 2017, when my son graduated from high school. I let this blog lapse and hadn’t decided to what to do with all my writings, but saved it nonetheless. I loved this moment and I know that I am not alone in the sense of loss that comes when our children fly out of the nest to test their own wings. I am re-posting it because it was a beautiful moment that I want to hold close to my heart. Since writing this, I’ve made some big life changes: quit my job, sold my house and moved to Boulder, CO. It is so much fun to look back at this moment in time and remember how I felt then, and to see how far I have come since.
A few days ago, my son, who turned 18 one day earlier, walked across a stage and received his diploma. Well, he actually received an empty book that will soon hold his diploma, but still, it was a symbolically epic event in the life of this Mom. Family and friends gathered from all over this state and others to celebrate his accomplishment with him. If you know anyone with adult-ish teens, you have no doubt witnessed this event over and over on your Facebook or Instagram feeds. You might even be tempted to become a bit blasé about the whole thing, especially if it wasn’t your kid. Fair enough.
However, the reason I am sharing this moment with you, has more to do with a different type of graduation that does not involve my son’s. It involves my own graduation from full-time helper, reminderer (read: nag) of daily chores and overall parental pain in the ass, to the girl who is more than the offspring she birthed 18 years ago. It is funny how when you become a parent, it is as if all the rest of life is eclipsed and you get this laser point focus on the one you helped create. They cough, they get that look, they have a bad day, they have a good day, they struggle, they shine. It is so fucking easy to lose ourselves in them. And then, just like that, they are gone.
Even if they are still near, they are gone because they are no longer that little person who needed us so much. They have an entirely new path to follow or forge, and if you did your job, they will have the skills to leave you and do just that. That is where we have to walk across the stage of our own hopes and dreams, you know, the ones that we set aside, willingly or not, pick them up and see which ones we still want to carry. The things that mattered back then may no longer be relevant to the person we have become, but we still have to decide.
So much of the past 18 years have been about growing up; not just his, but my own as well. I told my son recently, that I feel like we grew up together. As a single Mom for 15 of his 18 years, that is more true than either of us ever admitted. I got divorced, and I had to reinvent myself. Unlike a lot of single Moms, I followed my dreams as I guided him to his. I pursued my interests in Feng Shui, in yoga and teaching it, as well as gardening, dancing, cooking etc. I even dropped everything and moved us to a new city just because I had always wanted to live there, and we needed to escape the concrete wilderness of Houston. I already had my mid-life crisis, and so here I sit, wondering what is next. It is a little scary, because I can’t blame anyone else for my distractions now. If I don’t get shit done, it’s all on me.
So if you see me floundering a bit, just know that I am sorting through some of my unfocused hopes and dreams, reshaping the ones that still matter, and searching for my own next right path. I’ll figure it out. I always do. I just need a minute . . . .