Friday, December 31, 2010

Resources For Goal-Setters and a Preview

New Years Eve for me is kind of how it must be on Christmas Eve for Santa... I am in a rush to figure out what big things I'm going to do for the following year and I want to make sure I'm all prepared by midnight (especially if I'm going to do one of those "every day" kind of things (as in a picture-every-day-of-the-year.) If I don't figure it out and do whatever-it-is on January 1, I have to wait all the way until the following year! This is the reason, I have given up on the "every day" types of resolutions... Although I like the idea, I'm better at the "every week" or better yet, the "every month" type... Or the "one big project for the year" is good, too. (Then, of course, I break that down into monthly/weekly/daily goals.. Can you tell I have a project management background?)

If you're another one who takes your New Years Resolutions seriously check out 6 Year-Long Projects to Start in 2011 by (By the way, if you're also an internet-junkie like I am, you might think about subscribing to I find a lot of cool sites thanks to their newsletter.)

So, MY big project (I know this will shock you) is going to be The 2011 Love Project!

Yes, starting tomorrow, I am going to officially start "The Love Project." I even bought today and the blogger-guy I met on OkCupid is going to help me get set up on a new WordPress site on Sunday.

I'm copying Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project idea. I'll blog and learn about love and write a book about it. I don't feel like I'm entirely stealing Gretchen's idea, because after all, my first book was a study in love as well. It's just that The Laptop Dancer Diaries is a humor story and I had to throw in a bunch of embarrassing stuff (all fiction, of course!) about my love life. This one will be completely non-fiction and will not reveal the mysterious details of my own love life. (I'm sure any 2011 dates will be grateful for this.)

I chatted with Gretchen briefly and got her thumbs up for me to go ahead with my project and I have some fun stuff in mind... Prompts for bloggers (similar to reverb10), a "website of the week" segment, themes, videos. Stay tuned for more information!

In the mean time, if you are busy planning your own 2011 resolutions, here's another site, courtesy of reverb10, that has all kinds of resources and tools for the ambitious goal-setter!

Have fun and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Final Lyrics of Hallelujah.. This time for Craig

I'm thinking of starting up a new business: Hallelujah Lyracist. I originally rewrote the lyrics for my 50th birthday. The second stanza was in honor of both my Dad and Craig:

Your faith was strong, despite the pain
Not for a moment did you complain
The sickness seeping deeper and deeper through you
You smiled from your wheeled chair, you wrote a book of dreams you shared
And from your lips you still prayed, Hallelujah

Yes... my Dad and Craig had a lot in common... They both never complained despite all the pain they were going through. They both were in wheelchairs in their final months. They both wrote books about their lives. They both kept their faith.

Craig, who was at my party, told me he was honored. He asked me if he could take the idea and rewrite the song again-- this time for his three children. He hired Greg Greer, someone who became a friend of his in his final months, to sing the song and it was played at his wake with pictures of Craig and the many happy times he'd had with his kids.

My Dad loved the song, too. So when he died, my Mom asked if I'd rewrite the lyrics again, to be played at his service. (Nothing like a little pressure!) But I did and felt happy with the results.

Now, of course, being such an experienced Hallelujah-lyracist, I decided to do one more version... This one is for Craig. I'd like to get someone to sing it (either Brian Thulsan or Greg Greer) and get enough pictures of Craig so I can do a slideshow just for him... but for now, here are the lyrics:

Hallelujah for Craig

Well, I heard there was a secret chord
To teach us love and it pleased the Lord
It's a story I learned well from having known you.
And so I'll try to spread your gift
And hope your loved ones' spirits lift
New words for you, the blessed Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

When we first met, your smile bright
You volunteered for Light the Night
Your helping hands, I saw a friend within you
You teased me with your twinkling eyes
Part-time flirt, but always wise
Your heart so full of joyous Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The day I heard the tragic news
I told the Lord I was confused
How could He put this awful fate before you?
Had He not seen your love so strong?
Had He not heard you sing your song?
Words full of trust and faithful Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You told me not to be afraid
You knew He'd heard all that you prayed
His plan unknown but always sure He loved you
There came a time you couldn't walk
You couldn't eat, you couldn't talk
But from your lips you still prayed Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

My cross I'll always proudly wear
You taught me that God hears my prayer
My faith forever strong from having known you
I saw you died with peace and grace
I saw the love upon your face
It's a warm and it's a joyous Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Complaints and Resolutions: Turn the problem around #love2011

I've really been enjoying the #reverb10 prompts and reading what other bloggers have to say. I've decided to start my own project with my own prompts! I'm going to call it "The 2011 Love Project" If you blog, go ahead and use the tag #love2011 on Twitter or leave me a comment. I'll work on organizing it more come January!

Prompt: What is a complaint you have? How can you turn it around to change it from a negative feeling to a positive feeling?

One of my resolutions for the new year is to not complain. I'm also going to try and do the standard: eat more healthfully. So this week I've been pigging out on candy and junk food. And I figure I should get all my complaints out of my system, too.



Yes, that chirping battery drives me crazy every year. It chirps in the middle of the night (because it only chirps when it's cold). The last thing I want to do at 3 in the morning is dig out the ladder and change a battery, so I just cover my head with blankets and wait until morning. And because all the smoke alarms are clumped together (with an abundance in hallways) I'm not sure which battery needs to be changed. I know... I should just change them all, because inevitably, another one will chirp soon enough.

Nevermind that the whole alarm system is run on electricity... we need to have backup batteries, that are apparently always draining and INSIST on being changed as soon as they start to get low. There's no option to turn off the chirp. Nope. It's very important that we change that battery immediately in case the perfect storm happens and the electricity goes out at the same time we have a fire and none of the other 10 alarms in the hallways go off...

And then, of course, there's the waste of money from buying a bunch of 9V batteries every year along with the environmental concerns of battery disposal for batteries that are only there as backups in the first place. My friend, David, came up with a great idea: why not have the batteries in smoke alarms be rechargeable? They could be constantly recharging except on those rare occasions when the electricity is out.

The Resolution

So that's the complaint. My son and I play this game sometimes where we talk about something that's bothering us, but then we have to talk about what we're going to do about it. How we'll resolve whatever the problem is.

In this case, the easy solution is to go out and get a bunch of batteries and make my smoke alarms happy so they will stop the chirp. New year, new batteries. I can do that. If I'm really ambitious, I'd work with David on getting a patent or something on the rechargeable battery idea. Maybe he'd share the wealth when he got rich off of it. Yes.... I'm getting excited already!

It Works When Complaining About People, Too

We still are going to complain about annoyances, even if we don't complain out loud. The key however, is to play this game... figure out how you can go from feeling annoyed to actually feeling excited.

Byron Katie demonstrates this brilliantly in this audiocast. A woman is complaining about her friend. But with every complaint, Katie is able to turn it around to show that the problem isn't really in the other person, but in ourselves. (I have my friend, Rebecca Mullen of AltaredSpaces to thank for sending me to that audiocast.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

OkCupid - The Best of the Online Dating Sites?

My 23-year-old son, Matt, a CU medical school student in his second year, has been spending this week of his winter break with me... that is when he's not texting or calling or going out with the girl he met recently on OkCupid. He is definitely smitten. He can't stop talking about how absolutely perfect they are for one another. And she is the only person he's ever met from online dating. In fact, I think this is his first experience with online dating at all, and he's hit the jackpot.

Despite my vast experience with online dating, I had not known about OkCupid! Matt has told me all about it, and, of course, online dating guru that I am, I had to check it out! (I feel I must interject here to mention that personally, I've been in kind of a not-really-wanting-to-date place.) It's all about the research....

So, I signed up, and I have to say, it's quite unique and interesting! It's got the ability to search and there are a lot of people (the best thing about match) but you answer all these questions so you can determine compatibility (the "supposedly" best thing about eHarmony) and it's FREE (the best thing about plentyoffish.)

There are hundreds of questions that are posed... you can pose them yourself... and through some very interesting algorithms you end up being able to find out how potential dates feel about all kinds of topics, including all the biggies: politics, sex and religion. You also get to say which answers you'd accept in a date and how important that is for you. Even though I'm not really feeling like dating, I just think it's an incredibly interesting way of getting to know people!

I've always been interested in personality typing systems (ie. Myers-Briggs, Enneagrams) and this site has all kinds of tests and little games to help you know more about yourself and a potential date. Of course, there's the danger of being "labeled" or for your answers to be misinterpreted... but there's even the ability to explain an answer if it's one of those "it depends" kind of situations.

Some of the questions are pure "intelligence" questions (ie. which is bigger, the sun or the earth?) and I suppose those are thrown in there to check if you're an airhead. I messed up on a simple logic question (And I'm an engineer! I'm like a genius at even really complicated logic questions!) But... it was early, and I was careless and thinking...ha ha ha... any dummy can do this...) It doesn't look like you can change your answers so... now people will think I'm a logic dunce, which is kind of a bummer. But, the truth is, I can be an airhead sometimes about a lot of stuff (not logic, mind you.. but just about anything else), so if someone doesn't want to be stuck with an airhead, I suppose it's only fair that they find out sooner, rather than later.

I have been getting a fair amount of interest. One guy even found me and bought my book! Woo Hoo! (Months of blogging about my book and I hardly get any sales... Who knew I should have targeted the online dating sites with my shameless self-promotion!) He's quite the blogger himself! Check out this post he wrote about relationships as well as his interview with Dr. Cornell about emotional abuse of men by women. Having spent a lot of time volunteering with people who are going through divorce recovery, this isn't the first I've heard of this.

I already feel like OkCupid has more than paid off. (Well.. after all, it's free...) Ready-for-dating or not, I am definitely going to be exploring OkCupid some more... I predict this site is going to be the new big online dating site of the year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ordinary Joy and a New Friend - #reverb10

Today's reverb10 prompt is:

Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

I think almost every moment can bring us joy, if only we stop and look for it. So rather than making this post EXTREMELY long, I will write about an ordinary moment that filled my heart with joy yesterday... I made a new friend: girlnutkin, aka Shirley Rivera.

Just the other day, I blogged about how heart-warming it is when a stranger emails you, and that's what happened yesterday. It started when Shirley commented on a blog post, "Everything's OK." Then I noticed her blog and blogged briefly about her blog yesterday (stealing the funny manscaping video I'd found from her site.) Then she up'ed me by blogging about me! She even bought two of my books and promoted them on her blog! Wow! She's like a guardian angel!

On top of that, girlnutkin is funny and unique. (You can't help but love someone who calls herself girlnutkin.) Her quirky sense of humor and fresh openness are just what draws you in to want to be her immediate friend. And she has all kinds of stories and experience with online dating, so clearly a good reference for me, The Laptop Dancer! Here are a few:

OK, I know this seems a little like a "Thank you," "No, thank YOU," "No, thank YOU, REALLY!" kind of blog exchange between me and girlnutkin, but I have to tell you what really touched my heart... the profound "ordinary moment" that made the difference...

Shirley acknowledged and honored the grief I've been feeling about my friend, Craig. She read many of the posts I'd written about him and told me that she was moved to tears. It's hard to describe how warm and wonderful it feels to have someone -- a stranger -- tell you that. It makes me feel like I kept a little part of Craig alive. Grief is a very hard emotion... we feel so sad... but if we can somehow just take that love that we lost and keep it alive by sharing it with someone else... and they "get it"... they truly get how wonderful and special that person was, even without knowing him or her personally... we feel like that love is still amongst us.

So that is my ordinary moment... the understanding and kind note of acknowledgement from my new friend, girlnutkin.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Funny video about Manscaping

You’re watching A Woman’s Perspective on Manscaping. See the Web's top videos on AOL Video

As you probably have surmised, I'm a cyber-junkie. I read lots of blogs which send me to other cool websites and blogs and I could spend all day Web-surfing. And every time I come to an interesting post or site that has anything to do with dating or love, I think to myself: I should blog about THAT!

Well, today, thanks to a sweet comment she left on my blog, I've been perusing "girl nutkin in the BA"... quite an interesting blogger, who also is participating in the reverb10 project! And, of course, when I saw she had a post about "dating," I had to check it out and I found a couple of funny videos, including this one on "manscaping".

Of course, I'm way too pure and innocent to write about such personal topics on this blog, but figured I'm overdue for a funny video, so thought I'd pass this along!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Everything's OK - Day 24 #reverb10

I'm participating in Reverb10 and here is today's prompt.

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I've written a lot about Craig Dunham, my friend with ALS who died earlier this month. Craig had a much bigger impact on me than I ever could have imagined. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that almost all of these #reverb10 prompts remind me in some way of him, because so much of 2010 was about what I learned from him, including the answer to this prompt: the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright.

You know how when you whine about something and someone will tell you to put it in perspective? Well, ever since I heard about Craig's diagnosis, whenever I started feeling sorry for myself, there was always that little voice in my head, reminding me of Craig.

I'd feel sorry for myself because I was getting old. Then I remembered that Craig was my age but wouldn't have the chance to get old. I'd feel sorry for myself because I didn't have a partner. Then I remembered Craig selflessly stopped dating as soon as he heard of his diagnosis and would never again feel the excitement of romantic love. I'd feel sorry for myself because I broke my collar bone and I couldn't move my arm. Then I remembered that Craig couldn't move at all... My issues were absolutely trivial -- embarrassingly insignificant -- compared to what Craig was going through.

And Craig never felt sorry for himself! Not for a minute! Or if he did, he certainly never let it show. He was always smiling with never a complaint.

Then my Dad died. Again, I felt sorry for myself. But once again, Craig had it much worse. His Dad died, too, the week after mine, from Alzheimer's. Craig wasn't able to be with his Dad. He wasn't able to be with the rest of his family as they mourned his father's death. They were in Nebraska and he was in Colorado... he was unable to travel because of his illness. I, on the other hand, was with my family and with my Dad in his final hours.

I knew Craig would die, too. It's funny how we always talk about overcoming hardship, reminding ourselves that we will survive! But Craig couldn't even say that. He couldn't say he'd beat this thing. He knew he would just continue to get worse and worse and die. There was no hope that he could overcome any of the hardships he was enduring. How in the world can someone possibly remain upbeat when going through that?

Well, Craig may have been upbeat, but I certainly was not! I cried all the time at the thought of his death. Then the news came that he could no longer eat and I needed to say my goodbyes.

It was that final conversation with him that I knew. Everything was going to be OK. He was not going to survive, but everything was going to be OK. That faith of his was so strong. He didn't have a bit of doubt or fear in his face. He was full of peace and reassured me with his eyes, that everything was going to be OK. Better than OK. He knew he'd be in eternity with God.

I have always wished for a faith as strong as Craig's. I know I'm no where close. But witnessing his faith helped strengthen mine. Just like I knew there was a God the moment I held my baby, I felt sure at that moment...during that last conversation with Craig... that he would be with that God after his death. And I realized that no matter what happens, even when we don't survive, everything is going to be OK. In fact, if we're anything like Craig, it's going to be downright glorious.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Complicated Relationship Game

Awhile back I changed my Facebook relationship status to "It's complicated." I was tired of "single" status and I was curious to see what kind of comments I would get. Sure enough, I got a good deal of attention... changes to relationship status always generate comments on Facebook, either sympathetic or congratulatory. Most of the comments reassured me that every relationship is complicated. So true.

My scheming mind thought I should capitalize on this. With so many complicated relationships out there, I could create a "Complicated Relationship Game"... kind of like "The Newlywed Game", where you ask each other questions and the other person has to see if they can figure out what their complicated partner is going to say. Of course, I wanted to make the game into a Website or maybe a Facebook app (and market it to everyone who's Facebook status claims they're in "complicated relationships.")

My thinking is that one of the reasons the relationship is complicated is most likely because the complicated couple isn't communicating. My game would change all that. What a revolutionary concept. Maybe after playing the game, the complicated couple would break up or maybe after playing they'd feel closer. Either way, if they played, the hope would be that they would know more about what the other was thinking.

The first question is designed to give everyone some nice warm fuzzies.

* What five things do you like best about your complicated partner?

In order to score points, the partner only has to come up with one item on the list. As long as they figure out one thing, they score points. Each partner has a turn at coming up with five traits they like about their cp (complicated partner) and if the cp guesses only one of them, he/she gets the points.

Now, again, the game is about communication, so the points really don't matter (unless you're a really competitive "Complicated Relationship Game" player.) This first question should get everyone in a happy mood. It's always nice to hear five positive traits about yourself and find out what your cp appreciates about you.

The next question is one of those "sensitive" kind of topics:

* If you could change one thing about your cp, what would it be?

On this question, the cp comes up with three things that they think their partner is going to pick. If one of those is the correct answer, points are scored.

The good thing about this, is it helps people have a discussion about potential relationship problems without one person feeling criticized. Since you both are answering this question, and listing three negative things about yourself (while your partner is only picking one, that will hopefully match one of your selections) there is less chance for hurt feelings. It also gives everyone a chance to find out whether or not that thing you were all insecure about, really is a problem. Your cp might reassure you that they don't think (whatever) is a problem at all! Or maybe they'll confirm that, yes (whatever) is a problem and then you can brainstorm ways to resolve it.

Of course, when I played this game, my cp thought I was perfect. He still didn't want to have a committed relationship with me, even though the only thing he listed he'd change about me was an undisclosed "other." So much for communication.... However, I do want to note that I scored points when it came to answering the question I'd most want to change about him: Better communication...

The game continues with questions to help foster communication. If I were to market this, I'd probably have questions that the couple could choose from that would most match the reason their relationship is complicated. The issues could be related to sex, commitment, kids, family, ex's, habits, compatibility, etc... Often people avoid talking about "sensitive" subjects because they are afraid of hurting feelings or getting in an argument, so instead, things go unsaid. One or both people withdraw, and the partner is left second-guessing what's wrong. Honest communication is hard, but most of us would prefer to know what is on the others' mind. If done respectfully and with sensitivity, it can change a complicated relationship into a solid one.

On the other hand, you might find out your differences are too big. Maybe one person just isn't into the relationship for reasons they don't even understand themselves. If that's the case, as hard as it is, it may be time to move on. Or maybe both partners find they agree that they'd like to "down-level" the relationship, but at least they talk about it. One thing is for sure: without communication, a relationship is bound to fail...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Atheist Marching Bands Don't Belong in Christmas Parades

I know my blog is supposed to be about love, so this post may appear a bit off-topic, but, in my opinion, God and Love are synonymous, so... here goes.

I've been having an ongoing debate with a friend of mine about atheism. I admit, I feel much stronger about this since I recently lost Craig, a man of amazing faith, to ALS. Having such an intimate relationship with a dying man in his final days, I witnessed the beauty of absolute faith. I saw the comfort this faith brought both to him and to all the people around him. I have felt protective about Craig, and anyone who might dare to question his faith, while he was alive. Why would anyone want to take away the very thing that gave him so much strength? And now, after his death, I feel protective of my own heart. I don't want anyone to try and convince me there's not a God... there's not a heaven. Without those beliefs how could I begin to cope with the grief of losing people I've loved?

Today my friend sent me this article: Why Religious People are Scared of Atheists. The article talks about an atheist marching band who marched in a Christmas parade and the comments from those who were offended by that. The author fails to understand why people would be offended by peaceful and polite participation of an atheist group in this parade. Well, I'd like to offer this rebuttal...

First of all, I have to say that personally, I disagree with anyone being disrespectful to a group for what they believe. I think it's wrong for people to insult atheists, just as I think it's wrong for atheists to insult people who believe in God. I understand that both groups try to convince the other of their beliefs, and frankly, I think this only causes a bunch of anger on both sides! Though I understand why people were offended, I disagree with any who wrote insulting or derogatory things about atheists in general. Atheists, like everyone else, deserve respect, and my rebuttal here is not meant to be disrespectful.

But, here's where I think atheism is different from religion. Atheists don't talk about what they believe in... they talk about what they don't believe in. The only point I can see in declaring what you don't believe in is to tell people who do believe in it that they're wrong!

If I try to look at it through an atheists eyes, I'd guess it could be like not believing in Santa Claus. Now... I could go around saying it's OBVIOUS there's no Santa Claus. I mean... flying reindeer? going down chimneys? And how could he possibly visit all houses on a single night?

I know there are lots of kids out there who LOVE Santa Claus, even though I think it's obvious he's not real. Is it appropriate for me to go out of my way to tell kids he's not real? Would I join a "Santa's NOT Real" group, proudly declaring to the world: Get a clue! There is NO SANTA, people!!" Would we want the "Santa's NOT Real" group marching in a Christmas parade?

It doesn't matter if I am 100% sure that Santa is not real... It would be downright mean of me to try and destroy the belief for those who do believe in him. What good would it do for me to attempt to ruin their joy and happiness they get from that belief?

Now... multiply the belief in Santa by about a million, and that's how a lot of people feel about God. Sure... there are plenty of people who don't believe in Him. But what good does it do to actively tell the world you think there is no God? What good does it do to form an "atheist marching band"? A marching band, yes, but why make it an "atheist" marching band? Can't people who believe in God march and sing alongside people who don't? Is there comfort in not believing in something together?

But let's say there is comfort in finding other people who don't believe in God and, so yes, atheist groups form. Is it appropriate for them to march in a Christmas parade? I absolutely say 'no'! A group of people who's common purpose is to declare there is no God, is no more appropriate at a Christmas parade than would be a group of people who declared they didn't believe in Santa.

(By the way, if anyone who believes in Santa is reading this, then, just for the record, this whole thing was just to make a point... I believe in him, too!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letter to a Younger Self - Day 21 of #reverb10

Today's prompt from Reverb10:

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

I'm just going to do the bonus part... a note to myself 10 years ago.

Dear 40-year-old Yvette,

I know you are stressed about turning 40, thinking your best years are over, concerned about the laugh lines on your face and the gray strands you're finding in your hair. I'm here to tell you, 40 is young. In fact, 10 years from now, you'll realize that any age is young if your attitude is young. And, by the way, you look even better at 50 than you did at 40. Gray hair is easily covered and as long as you're smiling, the laugh lines only enhance your face.

You will be tweeting in 10 years! I know you are thinking, 'tweeting?' Do I get into bird watching? No... You get into social media... blogging (yes, another word you don't know) and you even write that book you keep saying you'll write one day! In fact, you write a lot these days! You have a job as a Site Editor for a technical publication and are getting quite a reputation as an expert in your field!

You're wondering, 'What about my job at Sun? I love this job!' I will tell you that in the next ten years you will meet mentors and friends from Sun, many of whom still are your friends today. (This is largely due to that social media thing I mentioned.. I know you don't understand now, but trust me, you will never have to say 'goodbye' to friends because of a job change or move again.) You will learn so much and accomplish things that make you proud. But you will see many of those friends lose their jobs. Though you love your job as a manager, you will have to tell your whole team that they've lost their jobs. You will survive that lay-off, feeling like a captain that didn't go down with the ship, but one day you will lose your job at Sun, too. Though this will make you feel sad and scared, you will remember the professionalism that your team showed and follow their example. You will persevere and continue to grow and learn in ways you can't imagine.

Similarly, you will lose your marriage. I know... you think I'm wrong. You are so sure you will never get divorced. But you will learn that not everything is in your control. And though it won't be easy, like your job change, you will find that your life is different but good. You will meet so many more people, explore so many relationships, and find intimacy and love from people you never would have met, had you not gone through this transition.

40-year-old-Yvette... you will go through hard times in the next ten years. Financially, I gotta tell you, you are going to lose a lot. Right now, you are so financially secure, but that will change. You will worry a lot about money. But, let me assure you, that this loss, too, will teach you lessons. You will learn how much richness there is in the world and in love. You will no longer care about stuff that sits on a shelf, fancy dinners, or overpriced gadgets. You will still live a comfortable life, but you will learn to prioritize your spending wisely. And you will learn, that despite your worries, you are much luckier than most.

And now about death... I know you have suffered the loss of our brother to that car accident and grief scares you. You think about mortality and wonder when and how your loved ones will die. You wonder how you will cope with deaths you must deal with in the future.

First, the good news. Your children are all very healthy, happy, and high-achievers! You have raised them well. Scotty has another year in High School and still lives with you in the same house you're in now. Matt's in medical school in Denver. And Megan is married and you love your son-law-Chris, just as though he were your son. You are even a Grandma of a gorgeous little boy who you see often-- he's almost 1.5 years old now! There have been no accidents in these past years that have robbed you suddenly of someone you love.

However, you have to suffer the grief of losing people you love to death. Actually, the two most painful deaths will not be until you're 50... so it is really me, not you, that has had to suffer the most from grief. We just lost Dad.. August 26, 2010. You will grow closer to him in these coming years, especially after he is diagnosed with cancer. You will have many visits with him and know that his life was full and that your relationship with him was strong.

We lost a very dear friend just two weeks ago to Lou Gehrig's Disease. You once saw a movie, The Right to Die, about a woman with Lou Gehrig's and you prayed that no one you ever loved would get that disease... But it happened. Craig was diagnosed in April, 2008.

For the last 2.5 years, you watched your friend get progressively worse... losing muscle function, until he couldn't move, talk, or finally, eat. But you learned so much from Craig. His faith was so strong and inspiring that it rubbed off on you. You saw how he accepted his fate so graciously with never a complaint, and you realized how much you take for granted. You saw that he was not afraid to die -- that he kept living and loving, even when he couldn't move -- and you became less afraid yourself.

So, Yvette, for each hardship you suffer, you learn and grow and find new experiences, people, and lessons. You don't take for granted all the good and wonderful times, you savor them... They are still with me, your 50-year-old self. I have the beautiful memories that are still in your future. I will keep them safe. And in 10 years we will know the new memories of our 60-year-old self. But for now, let's enjoy the present and anticipate the mystery of what those years will bring.

With love,
50-year-old Yvette

Monday, December 20, 2010

Everythingness Blog and Desiderata

Since participating in the Reverb10 project, I've gotten exposure to all kinds of great blogs! (I think there are over 3000... so... definitely not enough time to check them ALL out..) However, I hope to at least find one each day that has something I can use for my Love eBook project.

One blog I discovered today is called: Everythingness. The author, Amy, has a great style that I enjoy.. the free-flowing conversational thoughts of a seasoned blogger.

As I was perusing her blog, I found an entry called Desiderata ("Desired Things"). The post describes how she once cared for a hospice patient by reading to her. She says:

I remember feeling ease and delight sitting next to her, listening to her sporadic breathing. This was exactly how I wanted to spend my Easter Sunday. Witnessing the dying process summons a sense of resurrection in me and is a reminder to seek life in every moment. To find it in the shadows and the light, in the tangible and the abstract.

Having spent so much time with a dying friend this last year, I can relate. I just had a conversation yesterday about the experience of caring for someone who's dying. Many people stay away because they're "uncomfortable." How sad it is that they can't put aside their discomfort long enough to experience the joy that comes from caring for someone at such an intimate and precious time in their lives.

Amy says there was a poem she saw hanging above the woman's bed and knew in that moment that the woman she was with was not a hospice patient, but a "messenger."

Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Beyond Avoidance - #reverb10

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Today is the first day I'm participating in "Reverb10," the project I blogged about yesterday, in which we bloggers answer the prompted question as a way of reflecting on 2010 and preparing for 2011.

I'd have to give myself a big pat on the back in this area. One of the main themes of my book, The Laptop Dancer Diaries, is to face fears or insecurities and step out of your comfort zone. So I'm going to start by talking about what I did do, even though I was scared, worried, unsure, or busy.

I published a book!
I threw myself a big 50th birthday / book release / love party.
I asked my friends and family to be my virtual running buddies when I ran a marathon.
I fell in love.
I had the courage to break up when I knew he wasn't in love with me.
I got back out there and started dating again.
I surprised my Dad with a visit for his 75th birthday.
I held his hand as he took his last breath.
I let my son take me on a road trip in order to help him learn to drive.
I competed on a reality WhoDunIt show.
I loved a friend who was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease.

So what didn't I do? I didn't really market my book as much as I could have. And I had really hoped to write a second book about love.

I know those of you who read my blog are thinking, "She didn't market her book? Are you kidding? Almost every post has a link to The Laptop Dancer Diaries! She threw herself a book release party, for goodness sakes!"

It is true... I did a fair amount of self-promotion. (This post being a great example of feeling way too "Yay me," but (here's where a lot of people may push the unsubscribe button, so I'm hesitant to say it) I will probably do more in 2011... I have really wanted to become a "love guru" and write a second book: "Lessons of Love from a Laptop Dancer," and let's face it, if you want to be a discovered writer, you have self-promote.

I'm also kind of a social-media addict, so in 2011, I want to use a lot of the techniques I've been reading about to get more traffic for my blog... Maybe even have a newsletter. I'd also really like to try and get more comments on my blog so feel free to help me out! (Even if you just write a token comment like,"Yup!" I will be very happy!)

What else? I hope I will give at least as much as I receive... listen at least as much as I speak... run off at least as many calories as I overeat...

But the number one thing that I hope I will always do is love freely. (Duh! How else will I ever become a "love guru?") (Note: I'm not talking about the '60's definition of "free love..." )

In the words of St. Francis:

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reflect on the year with #reverb10

I'd hoped to spend December "looking for love" in the blogosphere -- finding inspirational posts about stories of love and creating an eBook. Then, on December 2nd, I heard that my friend with ALS, Craig, couldn't swallow, and my December posts ended up being centered quite a bit on grief rather than on the happy feelings of love that I'd hoped to have this month.

However, today I found a Website, Reverb10, which undoubtedly will help me get back to my original intentions - finding blogs centered on spreading love and inspirational stories.

Each day in December, Reverb10 offers up a prompt for bloggers aimed at helping us reflect on the past year, and prepare for the coming year. This is the second year of this project, and it appears it will be an annual event, so next year I will be prepared to start on December 1rst!

In the mean time, however, besides providing me with prompts for my own blogging, I will have at my disposal many other blogs to read! The bloggers who are participating are advertised via the sites "Link Love" page, so I am sure to find plenty of insightful writers out there to help me with my eBook Love project.

Even though I'm a little late, I'm excited to get going with today's prompt about "healing." If you like to write, I encourage you to participate on the site, too! Or, if you're more private with your thoughts, maybe just use the prompts to help you reflect yourself on the last year and your preparation for next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Being Touched By Strangers

I've blogged a few times before about Random Acts of Kindness. I think the idea of kindness and "paying it forward" are wonderful ways to make our world a better place.

I'm especially touched when someone who doesn't really know me is kind to me. In the many fund-raising events I've done, it's so awesome when I get a donation from someone I don't really know -- maybe someone who I've just stumbled across thanks to social media. I put those kinds of people -- people who are just genuinely kind -- in a special class. I really respect their generosity. More than once, that kind of generosity has led to a treasured friendship. In fact, I got to know Craig, who I've blogged about so often, because, even though he didn't know me, he volunteered to help me at a Light the Night fundraising event for Leukemia. I got to know my friend, David, because he sent in a donation when I was fundraising for Leukemia. I only knew him as a "virtual" friend from a social networking site, but he has been one of the most generous and supportive friends I've ever had. It's those kind of people who I admire beyond words.

However, since my Cuddle Party post, I've been thinking a little more about boundaries when it comes to intimacy with strangers. Physically touching someone you don't know may be too much. At the very least it can seem disingenuous. Without having emotional intimacy, physical intimacy just seems inappropriate.

In this latest video from RAK, there's a woman who high-five's strangers and another one who sings "You are my Sunshine" to strangers. Another guy gives out flowers... giving two: one to keep and one to give to someone else. I know that when people on the sidelines of a race high-five me or cheer for me, I feel so wonderful and supported! It's awesome that strangers take the time to do that! is a little different if they don't really know you at all. Even the people on the sidelines at the marathon at least know I'm running a race so they are showing their support and that is so cool. But, I have to admit, I'd find it a little odd for a stranger on the street to offer up a hand looking for a high-five. I'd be thinking, "Did I just do something great that I don't know about?" or "Am I supposed to know this person?"

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking the video or it's intentions. It's beautiful and sweet and I'm convinced that showing kindness randomly will absolutely make the world a better place. But while getting a a high-five, song, or a flower from a stranger would make me feel happy, I know the givers are doing it because they are kind, not because I am anyone special to them. And that's perhaps why "cuddling" or even hugging, now that I think about it, doesn't really seem appropriate. I don't think I'd get comfort getting a hug from someone who doesn't know me at all.

On the other hand, when a person doesn't know you personally, but has been exposed to you and what you might be going through, it can be very special. For example, at Craig's funeral, I felt such comfort in hugging and crying with his friends and family. It was a common grief for a man we all loved that bonded us, even though we were strangers.

Sometimes I'll get a kind response to a blog post or I'll get a nice email from someone who has read The Laptop Dancer Diaries. I get really excited to get emails from strangers because I know the person isn't just "being nice" because they're my friend. They are responding to something I wrote, so I feel like they know that part of me and I am so grateful when they share a little piece of themselves back with me. It's a little bit of intimacy... a shared bond of understanding that may or may not lead to a friendship. But for that moment, anyway, it feels wonderful.

But do we really want to be touched by someone who doesn't know us at all? Well... I'm not as crazy about the whole "Free Hugs" movement as I used to be. I don't have anything against it, but I can understand now why it might be a little off-putting. I think I'll save the high-fives and hugs with strangers for times when I at least know the recipient is publicly celebrating or in need of support. And cuddling? Definitely overstepping my boundaries.

However being kind without touching is easy... There's a huge virtual world out there of people who'd love to get a comment on their blog of shared understanding. There are millions of people who would love to get a genuine smile from a stranger. You can touch someone very deeply without "touching" them at all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Affirmations - Video assignment

I found this video on a blog my son turned me on to: Ze Frank. Does this little girl know how to give affirmations or what?

One of the Ze Frank projects is to have two pictures side by side, one as a child or baby, and then in the same pose, with the same kind of clothes, again as an adult. It can be really amusing! He calls it Young Me, Now Me.

I saw a video of someone older imitating Jessica from the video... sadly, I can't find that video now. But here is a video assignment: Do your own Affirmation video! I plan to do one and hope to post it on New Years Day. If you send me a link, I will post yours, too!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Altared Spaces » parading the light

Altared Spaces » parading the light

I had planned to use my blog this month to highlight blog posts that demonstrated love. I found an example today on Altared Spaces! Check out the beautiful photos of the lights parade.

From Rebecca Mullen:
One of the things I adore about a small town parade like this is the great lengths to which people will go to transform ordinary life into something extraordinary. I love being witness to someone’s weekend entertainment because I would guess this project united the person inside with someone they love. And I love Love. It was palpable at this parade, and made me merry.

Now THAT's what I'm talking about! Do you have a story or have you read a blog post that talks about love? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

eHarmony vs Match.Com: What's the difference?

In my many years of being a post-divorce bachelorette, I've tried many online dating sites. This has all been research for my book, The Laptop Dancer Diaries, of course. However, as an added benefit, I've found online dating to be a good way to meet people. It has it's pros and cons, but all-in-all I'd recommend it. One issue, however, is that there are so many dating sites that it's hard to know which one to pick! I'm going to talk about two of the most well-known sites: eHarmony and and some of the differences.

Now I don't have all the stats, but based on the searches, I'd say that of all the online dating sites has the biggest selection of people. is especially great for women because it appears there are many more men than women on the site, so the women are typically in pretty high demand.

For example, I just did search for men between 48 and 52, 5 miles from my zip code, and came up with 162 hits. When I change to 15 miles (which would include Denver), I get 744 hits. That's a lot of eligible men to check out! Too many, actually, so I can do all kinds of filters to narrow it down.

How do I narrow it down? Well, I do what most people do and start with people who have photos. (You can limit your search to only those with photos.) And then I can filter on other things... for example I can limit only to non-smokers or people who are a certain height or body type or religion or... all kinds of things. After you've narrowed your search down to a reasonable number you can read profiles and find out all kinds of things about your potential date.

When you see someone you like you can "wink" or just go right ahead and send your wittiest email. (This goes to a special email address, so your real email address is not shared unless you choose to share it with a potential date.) let's you have a trial for 3 days completely free. However, they do ask for your credit card information and if you don't cancel before your 3 days are up, you will they will charge you for the next month. Another thing about that I don't like is that they will automatically renew your subscription when it ends, so you have to remember to cancel if you want to prevent that from happening!


eHarmony had this "29 points of compatibility" system in which they figure out based on some kind of sophisticated algorithm who they think you will be most compatible with.

You have to fill out a very long survey (be prepared to spend at least an hour filling out the questionnaire).

eHarmony will then send you people who they think are a good match. You can go through a "guided communication" which starts with canned questions and multiple choice answers. Eventually, if you make it through several stages, you can email each other. Both people have to agree to "fast path" to email or else you have to go through the guided communication.

eHarmony is meant for people that are wanting a more serious long-term relationship. I've heard they may deny you from joining for certain reasons like being separated rather than legally divorced.

Most men I know say they have more luck with eHarmony, but as a woman, my experience has not been good. The matches I get are often quite far away and often over 10 years older than me. Apparently there aren't that many men that match my "29 points of compatibility."

eHarmony often has "free communication weekends" but I think this is very misleading because you're stuck with "guided communication" and not able to email anyone. Also your picture isn't visible and you aren't able to see other's pictures.

Which is better?

Well, of course it's a personal decision, but I prefer for a lot of reasons:
- It's less expensive
- There's a better selection (at least for women)
- I can use my own criteria to search rather than depending on a system to match me
- I think you can tell a lot about personality by how a person writes, so I'd much prefer to send personal emails rather than depend on canned questions to communicate

Of course, there are some that think eHarmony's "sophisticated algorithm" will weed out people who are a bad match, but, based on my (unscientific) observations, they really don't do a very good job.

According to Popo:

I have a friend who I call "Popo" who is very wise and has great relationship advice. (Perhaps some day I will reveal his real name, but for now we will stick with Popo.)

Here is what the wise Popo has to say about the difference:
The guided comm on eHarmony is easier to cover my own writing faults but it gives you matches it thinks you want sometimes really missing the target by a wide margin. It seems to be more Communist because it tells you who you want even if you aren't looking for that kind of person. On match, it is more Capitalistic and gives you more freedoms to search and review on a case by case basis therefore having a higher level of responsibility for your own choices. A person once said, "With great power comes great responsibility". I think I prefer that instead of "here are the people's shoes you ordered, Comrad."
What are your experiences? Match? eHarmony? Or something else entirely?

The importance of faith in relationships

I've been thinking a lot about faith lately, and how important it is in a relationship. Faith was such a huge part of Craig's life, and even more importantly, his death. It was his faith that helped him keep a positive attitude since his ALS diagnosis in April, 2008. It was his faith that let him die without any fear in his eyes. What a comfort it was to me, to say goodbye to him, knowing he was not afraid, but looking forward to being with God.

It's been faith that has helped me with grief. Faith that those people I love who have died are in a better place and that I will be with them again some day. I'm guessing that the grief process must be a magnitude more painful for people with no faith.

But how important is faith in a relationship? Well, of course, that's a personal choice. Many religions (including Catholics -- my religion) believe you should only date people of the same faith. Of course, I've broken that "rule" many times, so that in itself might make me a poor example of a faithful Catholic.

When I was young -- and even in the early part of my post-divorce years -- I tended to be most interested in dating Catholics, since I was Catholic. It certainly made it much easier for me to be married to a Catholic... there was never any debate about the church to go to or how to raise our children. There was also some comfort in knowing that my partner understood and had a similar background in the traditions, rituals, and even the "guilt" we Catholics often suffer when we fail to follow every rule.

As I've gotten older and thought more about faith, I realized there were plenty of Catholic "rules" I didn't really agree with, and I spent more time exploring other Christian religions. Most religions, including Christianity, teach that unless you believe in the teachings of that religion, you won't get to heaven. That's a pretty tough pill for me to swallow. But then if I doubt that, then I feel the guilt at doubting what my faith teaches, and get this awful fear that I'm losing not just my ticket to heaven, but my faith altogether... something that is so important to me.

I've been open to dating people of any faith, thinking, especially now that my children are raised, it really isn't important whether or not I share the same faith with a partner. On the online dating sites, it seems "spiritual, but not religious" is quite trendy. I almost choose that as an option myself, due to my doubts about my own level of faith.

Then I met a guy, through my job, who "didn't believe in religion" and told me he'd never date a Christian. I remember feeling a bit insulted by that at first. But then I realized I probably wouldn't want to date someone who "didn't believe in religion" so I was no different. When the guy asked me out, I reminded him I was Christian and he told me he'd make an exception as long as I didn't try to convert him. I ended up telling him that I thought it was a bad idea. It was more than his lack of faith that turned me off... it was that he preferred to be around others who lacked faith.... that he judged people of strong faith poorly, which is just the opposite of how I feel.

I can't claim that my faith is as strong as I'd like it to be. I absolutely believe in God, but my little doubts about some of the teachings of Christianity leave me with nagging fears about my level of faith. But I so admire people of a strong faith -- not those who judge others for not believing how they do -- but those who have strong beliefs themselves and who hold their faith dear.

And if someone is very strong in faith, they probably want to date someone of that same faith. Logically, this is all leading to the conclusion that if I want to date someone of strong faith, I should only date Christians. Of course, the downside there is given my own wishy-washy faith, good Christians may not want to date me!

The other thing to consider, of course, is it is a lot more than just faith that determines a good relationship. I certainly have met many people of many religions who I think I could love. I suppose who I would want most is someone who has a strong faith himself and someone who would accept me and help me grow in my own faith...

How about you? Do you think faith is important in a relationship?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love Like You Were Dying

I've always loved the lyrics to Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying."

Craig taught me not just to live but to love like I was dying. Here's my rendition of the lyrics:

Love Like You Were Dying

He said: "I was in my later forties,
"With a lot of life before me,
"And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
"I spent most of the next day,
"Wondering what I could say,
"Talking about the options and talking about sweet time
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
What do you do?

And he said: "I went bike riding, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"Took trips with kids from here to Timbukto.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I didn't waste any time crying."
And he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To love like you were dying."

I thought "I've been looking for perfection,
"Worried about rejection.
"Meaningless distresses I've been thinking of.
Now I gave myself permission,
To start a new tradition,
And I called each night to tell him of my love
And I finally read the Good Book,
And I took a good long hard look,
At what I'll do when I can do it all again,

And said:

"I'll go bike riding, I'll go rocky mountain climbing,
"I'll never shy away from saying 'I Love You.'
"And I'll love deeper and I'll speak sweeter,
"And I'll give the passion I've been denying."
And I said: "I'm glad I got the chance,
"To love while you were dying'.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Remember the love

I don't remember the exact quote that Mark Tidd, the pastor at Highlands church made one day. It was something like:
"God bless the people who are suffering from broken hearts. If not for love,there would never be the broken heart. Let them remember the joy from the love they had."

It struck me that grief of any kind is due to the loss of love; often the more we loved, the greater the pain when it's lost. But how great is it that we had that love! And must we really lose it? Even with a divorce, we can still keep the part of our heart that grew because of our love. If we have children, we have beautiful miracles that came from that love. It's a shame that so many people only remember the worst in their ex's instead of remembering with gratitude, the love they once shared.

Friday night I went to Craig's wake and Saturday was the funeral. I've known for months he was planning all the events surrounding his death. He was a bit like a kid planning a big surprise party. I'd seen the gorgeous book he'd had presented to his kids, full of photos and stories of his life. He even got the idea of the Hallelujah song he made for them from the recording of the song I'd made at my 50th birthday party!

I spent the night at the Quality Suites in Evergreen with 25 members of his family that had come in from out of town. I remembered their names from what I call "Craig's List"... the list I used when I'd made the recording for a Thanksgiving surprise and they knew my name as well.

The Mass was the next day, Saturday, and then one final gathering and celebration back at the hotel.

How wonderful it was to share this common love we all had for Craig. Hearing the stories and memories was such a comfort. People would talk about how he "spoke with his eyes"; they'd reiterate that same spirit of determination and vitality that I was so inspired by; they'd talk about his faith; and most especially, they talked about the love of his children.

The deacon encouraged us to tell the stories over and over. He joked, speaking to one of the kids, saying "Ten years from now, you'll hear your sister starting to tell a story and you'll think, 'here we go again!' But keep telling them. When you grow up and have kids, tell them about your Daddy and when they grow up they'll tell their kids. As long as you tell the stories, you'll keep him alive."

I've been wondering if I've written too much about grief lately. I want this blog to be all about love -- inspiring and happy...not depressing. But, again, grief and love are related.

I learned so many lessons about love from Craig, so my posts about him are not over yet. As the deacon advised, I will be telling the stories often. He may be gone, but I am so keeping that love alive.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards and Craig Dunham - Smiling in the face of tragedy

Those of you who have been reading my blog with any regularity know that I've been dealing with quite a bit of grief lately. My good friend, Craig, died Monday, after battling ALS for 2.5 years. This came just a few months after my Dad died due to complications of colon cancer. There are not many people who I've loved with such depth but I loved both of these men, and they loved me.

It's difficult, when you're in the midst of grief, to pop out of it and act "normally." It feels somehow disrespectful to go about your life as though nothing happened. It was especially hard for me last week, when I knew Craig couldn't eat, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt so helpless.

I've been wondering if I should blog while I'm feeling this way. I feel like such a downer when all I can think about is grief and sadness. I don't want to burden my friends or family with it any more. It all seems so repetitive and dreary. I'd been really excited about my idea for my Love eBook, but then I got the news about Craig, and that's all I can think about now. So, you'll have to bear with me as my posts this month may lack much humor. I remember reading that Bill Cosby's son had been murdered and wondered how he was able to still stay in comedy. It must have been so difficult for him to find humor in life, even after his son died so tragically.

But that trait -- that ability to still find humor and live life despite adversity --that's a trait that I so admired in both Craig and my Dad.

I just read about Elizabeth Edwards' death this morning. She lost a son due to a car accident when he was 16. She publicly endured an unfaithful husband. She battled breast cancer for 6 years.

"Americans knew Elizabeth Edwards in large part through her tragedies, but more importantly, they knew her for the vitality and determination she showed through them."

Yes, that is the very thing about Craig that created such a sense of admiration in me that I cried all the time just thinking about him... not out of pity, but just out of sheer awe at his ability to smile and live life head-on with such "vitality and determination" despite a body that couldn't move and a voice that couldn't speak.

Never did he complain! He never lost his spunk! His eyes still twinkled with a mischievous humor that challenged the rest of us to keep smiling. He was the first who would want to go out and enjoy the fresh air (4-wheeling it with his wheel-chair), listen to music, or just enjoy the beauty of the world and live.

When you see that in a person, it makes you realize that if they can endure such tragedies and keep their humor, their hope, their faith -- certainly you can.

And so for all of us who are enduring grief, let's take a clue from the Elizabeth Edwards' and the Craig Dunhams of the world. Let's not give up on humor, faith, or life. Let's keep smiling.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Even in death, Craig has dignity and grace

I've been crying pretty much non-stop since I found out Craig couldn't eat any more and his death was imminent. It's funny... no matter how much we think we're prepared for a death, when it's actually about to happen, we feel panicked...desperate to stop that death from happening.

I've known for over two years that Craig was going to die. I've seen him lose the ability to move or talk due to ALS, a most horrific disease. I've helped him eat, seeing his food get progressively less appealing and more difficult to eat...pureed stuff like baby food. I'd pick up his prepared meal and sniff it trying to guess what it was. He'd make funny faces to my guesses and to the tastes and sometimes even he didn't know what he was eating!

But when all else failed, there was ice cream. One of my fun memories was the time we couldn't get into the church and instead went to get ice cream... I felt bad that he didn't make it to church, because I knew that was important to him, but I think going to get ice cream was much more fun. It almost felt like we were a couple of kids playing hookey. One time, all he had for lunch was three servings of ice cream!

But now, he can't even eat ice cream. He can't swallow.

It's interesting how much you can communicate if your face can still move. Even though Craig can't talk, every time I visit him I feel like we have an intimate conversation. I always see the love in his eyes. And just like the guessing game with the food, I guess what he's trying to tell me, and we have this fun conversation -- almost like playing charades with your eyes. Of course, I was always the guesser, but we'd both enjoy a look of satisfaction when I'd get it right. Kind of like high-fiving with your eyes at success.

Sometimes I'd make a joke and he'd always smile, but also roll his eyes to tease me. Sometimes he just would listen as I read or we'd watch TV or I'd show him some latest cool thing on the computer. I know he's been frustrated by not being able to talk, but we have been able to communicate.

And today was probably our last conversation.

I told him I'd heard he was no longer eating.
"Is it because you want to die?" I asked him
Emphatic shake of the head. Eyes determined to tell me he was not depressed or suicidal. He did not want to die.
"Then how about a feeding tube?"
Sympathetic shake of the head. Eyes telling me he was sorry, but he would not get a feeding tube.
"You're ready to die?"
Nodding. Eyes telling me I got it right this time. He had lived a full life. He had not let this disease stop him from living as fully as he could. But now it was time.
"But I'll miss you."
Sympathetic nod. Eyes telling me he knows. Telling me that I must let him go.

So we read a chapter from The Purpose-Driven Life.. the one about our life on earth being temporary and that our real home is with Christ. He nodded and smiled, so serene... but I saw the grimaces of pain, too. I told him how sorry I was for his pain.. even while dying, I could see he was telling me not to worry. "I'm fine" he mouthed.

And when it was time for me to go, I hugged and kissed him and cried openly telling him I loved him more than he could ever imagine. He's been the most inspirational person in my life -- the one who has taught me the most about love in this ongoing quest of mine to understand what exactly love is.

Then I told him I wasn't sure when I'd see him again... maybe in heaven... or maybe next week when we'd have to go through this whole tear-filled ordeal all over again and he smiled and nodded.

And then he ended our conversation the way he always does... looking at me with his beautiful eyes and mouthing the words 'I love you.'

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Saying goodbye to Craig

I got some very sad news about Craig, my friend with ALS. His death is coming very soon. He's eating very little, on a lot of morphine, and ready to die. I know he has such a strong faith. He told me long ago that he was ready to move on to the afterlife with Jesus. (I can just imagine Craig and Jesus... He will have Jesus out hiking all over heaven.)

So, I am not sad for Craig. I know he is very prepared and looking forward to eternity. I am sad for me. I'm sad that I'll no longer get to call him and tell him how much I love him... how much he inspires me. I'm sad that I'll no longer get to visit him and see his smile when he sees me. I'll no longer get to see those eyes so full of life, despite a disease that crippled him. I'm sad for his children, his mother -- who just lost her husband to Alzheimers -- his sisters, his friends. I'm sad for all of us because we will be missing a great man.

Tomorrow I'll visit my friend for the last time. I'll hold his hands, hug him and tell him how very much I love him. And I'll pray that I can keep a part of him with me always to pass on his goodness to everyone.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December Game: Best blog posts of 2010 about love or relationships

Gamers, Bloggers, Readers, and People who love Love,

My post from yesterday reminded me how much I enjoyed games, and I often like to make up games at the beginning of the month to match my goals. So, it being December 1rst, and since I've had a goal to find great blogs and posts that are about love and relationships, I decided to host a December game about finding the best, most loving, inspirational, blog posts of 2010.

Here's how it works:

* Between now and December 20th, submit in the comments a link to a blog post you've read or written about love or relationships. If you have any trouble with submitting a comment, feel free to email me at

* Bloggers should submit a link to the post from their own blogs! Don't be shy! Just pick one of your posts that you feel is particularly poignant or inspirational. If you can't decide, submit a couple.

* I will compile these and create a poll so that readers can vote for their favorite between December 20-31.

* On December 31, I'll announce the Best Blog Post in 2010 About Love and Relationships (based on votes.)

* The person who submitted the entry will win a wonderful prize of the best selling humor memoir about love and relationships: The Laptop Dancer Diaries - A Mostly True Story About Finding Love Again.

* I'll go ahead and compile the blog posts into a free eBook that can be shared. This will provide hyperlinks and visibility to all your wonderful blogs and spread love throughout the world! Yay!

Help me by retweeting or posting on Facebook or to your networks and let's make this a great end of the year "Love project!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Looking for Game Players!

I LOVE games! I make up games for just about anything. It runs in my family. We played lots of games when I was a kid, and I play a lot as an adult. In fact, I'm seriously thinking of creating a "Complicated Relationship Game."

It's kind of funny that one of the most popular things that I find on online dating profiles is something like: "I don't want someone who plays games" or "I don't play games." Now, I know they're talking about being "manipulative" or "dishonest" or some other negative behavior, but it's a shame this gets labeled as "game-playing."

Dating Goddess blogged about this herself, wondering if setting boundaries would be considered "game-playing"to some.

Personally, I think games are wonderful, even in dating! I love playfulness. Flirting, itself, is a game. In fact, the whole process of courtship and dating can be a bit of a game. You play a card and you see how your date responds. They play a card and then you respond. What fun would it be if you just laid all your cards on the table?

David Wygant, a popular male relationship coach also recommended playing on a first date. He writes:

One of my favorite things to do on this date is to play a game. At every window at which you look, have each of you say what you would pick in the window if you could have (or if you had to take) one thing displayed there. Have fun with it. It’s also a great way to find out a lot about the other person’s personality.

So, what kind of games are the ones that get such a bad rap in dating? Maybe simply saying something to get the other person in bed would be considered a "game." Maybe acting very interested and then not following up... Maybe the "game" for many is just the chase... Once they've "caught you," they've won and they're on to someone else.

Yes, those are pretty hurtful behaviors, but part being good at the game of life and love is recognizing who you can trust and who you can't. When you meet someone, take the time to get to know them to figure out what kind of "games" they play. If you play the same games, you may just be in for a match made in heaven.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cuddle Parties? Would you go?

I like to think that I'd try just about anything once... well, as long as it didn't go against my values. I like to experiment with unusual, funky things, especially when it comes to relationships or communication. And, of course, I love a good theme party. So, when I was invited to a "cuddle party," I was intrigued. If I were still writing The Laptop Dancer Diaries, it would be just the kind of thing I'd do as an "adventure."

But, I have to say, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed mildly creepy! I wouldn't know anyone at this party. I barely know the person who invited me.. just met her once at my writing group. And to be honest, she's not a person I particularly feel like cuddling with. I mean, the best thing about cuddling is enjoying the person you're cuddling with. Cuddling with a complete stranger? This does not sound appealing to me. It sounds embarrassing and weird.

It's funny that I'm having this reaction because not too long ago, I had a big debate with my family about a Free Hugs event I was attending. I was a member of a Random Acts of Kindness Meetup Group and at the event, we were hanging out on a street corner with "Free Hugs" signs offering these hugs up to strangers. (This originated from this popular Free Hugs YouTube video.)

I, of course, was arguing in favor of giving "free hugs." It's been proven that we all need touch. What's the big deal if it's a stranger? My parents thought it was weird. My mother warned me of all the dangerous people out there, telling me of some story where a poor woman was accosted. I assured her I would not be in any danger and told her that the trouble with the world is that we're all so afraid of "strangers" that we don't even smile at them. If we could all just trust one another, the world would be a better place.

My Dad just thought it was stupid. He wasn't really concerned about safety. He just thought there was no point in hugging strangers. I told him that's probably because he had plenty of family and people who hug him all the time, but if he didn't, he may think differently. No, he assured me, it's just stupid.

Of course, now that I'm thinking about this cuddle party, I'm finally getting my Dad's point. Cuddling isn't that far off from hugging. I can't say I get cuddled with nearly as much as I'd like, yet still, I do not have any desire to cuddle with a stranger. What's next? Kissing strangers? (Actually... There is the whole mistletoe tradition which I don't really mind as long as the person under the mistletoe is somebody kissable...) But... cuddling... That just seems like it should be reserved for kids and intimate partners and maybe cute pets or pillows.

What do you think? Is cuddling too intimate to do with a stranger? Would you go to a cuddle party?

What about hugging? Would you give a free hug? Would you take one if it were offered to you by a stranger?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Online Dating: What do you say when you're not interested?

Having been single for 7 years, with many short stints on a variety of sites, I'm quite the seasoned online dater.

I find the dynamics of online dating very interesting, and apparently, so do many of my older single friends, since it's often the topic of conversation.

One thing to know when you're just starting out is that it's quite common to not get a response when you email or wink at someone. You should definitely NOT take this as a rejection. It happens to the most attractive, desireable people.

Why people don't respond

When I first started online dating, I would respond to every single person who emailed or winked. It was so flattering that anyone was interested, and I always thought it was very rude to not respond at all. Here is the problem with that:

* Some people will want to continue the conversation. Even if you tell them you're not interested in dating, they will want to still be friends, and it becomes even more awkward to tell them you don't even want to be pen-pals.

* Some people will feel rejected and act rudely, even when you are trying to be nice. They'll say something like "Your loss." The worst response I ever got was from someone who told me he didn't want to date me anyway because I have a "gummy smile and a body like a boy."

* Sometimes there just isn't time. I know there are a lot of women who are much more attractive than me out there, and I'm sure they get a TON of email, especially if they're on When I first got on match, I was 43 and even said in my profile something like... "I'm not ready for dating... I'm just curious if this is a good way to meet people." It was a huge stroke to my ego to still get lots of email, but I soon was overwhelmed by trying to craft nice responses letting people know I wasn't interested.

* Some people are so clearly not a match that there isn't a need to respond. There are a percentage of people who don't read profiles and their "pickup" is some cheesy one-liner in which it's clear their sole purpose for online dating is sex. I don't bother to respond to these people. One of them even asked if my daughter was available for a threesome! (I blocked him.)

So those are some of the reasons people don't respond, but there are more:

* Some people have been online dating for months... years, even. They stay on the sites even when they are dating someone else because it's not "serious." However they aren't actively looking. These kind of people often ignore emails or winks, sometimes deleting them automatically, maybe before even looking at the profile.

* Some people are not paying members and can't respond. Many of the online dating sites encourage you to create a viewable profile for free. People do this, but then they can't respond to a profile unless they pay.

* Some people are just so used to the "culture" in which the only responses they get or give are when they are interested, they feel there's nothing wrong with a lack of response.

* Most people are uncomfortable with telling someone they aren't interested and it's easier to just say nothing.

Why you should respond

OK... So those are all reasons people DON'T respond. Here are reasons you SHOULD respond (at least to those people who took the time to read your profile), even if you're not interested:

* It's respectful.

* DON'T use the "canned" no thank you. I've heard many people say that they'd prefer to get nothing then those canned responses. Instead, craft your own "canned" nicer responses, but if possible, add something personal.. at least their name. It will give you practice assertively and kindly letting people know how you feel.

* You'll stand out as being classier than most. Many men have told me how they are so used to getting no response, and they are appreciative of getting a nice response, even if it's a 'no thank you' for dating.

* You may decide to become Facebook friends or virtual friends, especially if the biggest reason for your reluctance to date is distance.

Usually, I stay in "stealth" mode... I keep my profile hidden, so that I don't get emails from people I'm not interested in and I only email or wink at people who I'm interested in. This is fine for plentyoffish which is free.

To get a response yourself

Now if you're the one who's interested and you're trying to get a response, here are some things you can do to increase your chances:

* Read their profile! Do NOT use a canned email that you're using for everyone! Mention at least one thing in their profile that attracted you!

* Be creative, witty, funny, playful... Use your sense of humor.

* Keep it short.

* Ask a question or two, but don't ask to go out before you've even gotten an email.

* Be complimentary, but not suggestive.

* Don't just wink... Send an email.

* Make sure you have a good picture as your primary picture. (Recent, smiling, representing you at your best.)

* Double-check for stupid typos or careless mistakes.

* Do not say something like: "Please give me the courtesy of responding." (Even though you may get a bigger response rate this way, it sounds like you've got a chip on your shoulder from the lack of responses.)

And remember, never take it personally if you don't get a response back! Just move on to the next one!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

ALS-Afflicted Friend Gets Thanksgiving Surprise

Today I gave my friend, Craig, the Thanksgiving surprise I've been preparing for him for the past few weeks. Putting together the recording was easy and a wonderful experience for me because I got to hear from so many of Craig's friends and family members who shared memories and plenty of 'I love yous.'

I think I ended up recording about 40 people and the total length of the .mp3 file after concatenating all the files was 1 hour and 6 minutes. It was really moving to listen to this with Craig this afternoon and watch his eyes and smiles as each new person started to speak. At times he would close his eyes as if in prayer, just letting the voices sync into his mind and heart.

After we were through listening, I asked if I could video his response and you'll see that despite his lack of voice, his own 'I love yous' came out loud and clear.

Other posts about Craig:

Spreading Kindness and Love with a Recorded Call
Give the gift of love to someone for the holidays....
A different kind of love...
Requesting prayers rather than money this year
Accolades for Craig
No church for the disabled...
Book Club: ALS Victim inspires spirituality
My Love Party
ALS-Afflicted Friend, Craig, Inspires Love of God

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Honoring Grief

Not too long ago I wrote about people who were in "The Grief Club." Since I was "re-initiated" recently with the loss of my father, I realize how extra-sensitive to the actions and words of people we are when it comes to honoring grief. It's very easy to be offended or hurt when someone, who is trying to say a comforting thing, actually says something that hurts us. Common examples, when it comes to death are things like:

- He's in a better place.
- It's lucky he didn't die slowly.
- He's no longer in pain.

While many of these platitudes are fine when those of us who are grieving say them, it somehow feels wrong for someone who isn't grieving or doesn't really understand the pain we're going through to tell us these things. So... some people just say nothing, which is really bad. A simple "I'm so sorry" and a hug will do, but say something! I was very hurt by how few of my friends even acknowledged my fathers' death. In fact, I almost quit my job because my boss was so insensitive. My sister hasn't talked to her sister-in-law in years because she was so hurt that the death of my brother had never been acknowledged. When you're grieving you don't want pity, but you want understanding. Perhaps the only people you can truly get that from are those who are also experiencing that grief... or people who have experienced a similar grief. Others often don't get it, but they do get credit for trying, so I try not to be too hard on them.

However, recently I've felt very upset about a discussion I had with a very good friend about seat belts. My brother died in a car accident and he would have lived if he'd had his seat belt on. He went through the windshield. His passenger, thank God, was wearing his seat belt and walked away without a scratch...

My friend, after I'd told her how important I thought it was to wear a seat belt, told me she didn't believe in the "stats" and was sorry that I now lived my life "in fear" because of my brother's death. Though I'm sure she didn't mean it to be offensive, this hurt me very deeply. As I wrote in my other post, there are many things I learned from being in "the grief club" and one of them most definitely is not to live your life in fear, but in love, respecting the fragility of life. This friend is not in the "grief club" herself, so, again, I need to try and remember that she didn't realize how much those words would sting me.

The opposite effect happens when we feel someone really understands our grief. We feel so touched and grateful for their empathy. We feel that they are honoring and respecting our grief and realize how much we loved the person we lost.

I'm going to repeat the lessons I learned when I was initiated into "the club." These are in honor of my brother, Chris, who lived his life fully and with passion. He made a mistake by not wearing his seat belt that day, but that didn't teach me to live in fear or to avoid risk. His life and his death taught me this:

• Don't take life for granted. Every minute is a gift.
• Don't take the people in your life for granted. Love them. Don't sweat the small stuff.
• Live life to the fullest. Do all the things you've always wanted to do. Just do it!
• Take risks --maybe not the life-threatening type so much... but certainly take risks with love. What's the worst that can happen when you love someone? They don't love you back? Experiencing a broken heart is bad, but it is not the grief of death.
• Give... Don't worry so much about money. Spend it on people and experiences, more than things that sit on a shelf.
• Embrace your faith. Learn from my friend, Craig, who despite ALS, has the most awe-inspiring faith I've ever known.
• Have compassion for those that join the club. Go to the funerals, memorial services, and celebrations of life, with arms open to hold those that are in unbearable pain.
• Hold on to the best parts of the people you have lost and pass on what you learned from them. Keep them in your heart.

I'd like to add one more that I learned from my friend, Rebecca Mullen of Altared Spaces.
• Build your own "altared spaces" and notice, respect, and learn from the altared spaces of others.

Rebecca exemplifies this in her post about traveling west about a beautifully adorned roadside altar:

My eye catches these roadside altars. As I drove on in silence I said a little prayer for the people who are maintaining this one with such grace. Is this a mother who lost her child? All of us drive by. The world goes on and, maybe, someone glances at the spot where life forever changed for someone else. I’m not making a judgment about how I should have noticed sooner or how my life should be something different because life here has changed for this family. I have a ridiculously happy life and I build altars to that every day that no one ever sees. I’m just noticing someone else’s altar I suppose.