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 match.com. 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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too old for dating? It's just getting fun...

I've never been one who liked to date, even in my youth. Maybe it's the small talk, or maybe it's the stress of worrying if he likes me or I like him, or maybe it's just because I'd usually much rather be home with Laptop Guy, but it just hasn't been my thing. That being said, I've certainly done my share of it in the past few years in the quest to find another partner.

My plan (I always have a plan) was: I will put myself out there until I'm 50, and if I'm not in love by then, I will be content living out the rest of my life as a happy single. It didn't mean I planned to give up totally on the idea of getting married again -- I've heard the cliche wisdom, "when you're not looking, it will happen," over and over again.

So I turned 50. The world didn't come to an end. I don't feel different than I did at 49. I actually am more comfortable about dating than I was when I was young and certainly more comfortable than I was at 43, when I first got divorced. I've learned that dating is is not that big of a deal. I suppose I've grown to accept that there's a good chance the relationships I get into won't lead to marriage, so I stop stressing about them, and just let them play out. I really don't worry too much about the "attraction" factor any more. These days, I'm a lot more interested in getting to know someone and I've stopped worrying so much about all those sexual fears.

There was a big study recently that showed that happiness begins at 50. Some people speculate it's because those of us at this older age live more "in the moment." I would guess it's because we are more accepting of ourselves and the people around us. Or maybe it's because our hormones and libido are more at an even keel and don't confuse and frustrate us the way they once did.

In any case, the holidays are upon us again, and I reluctantly thought maybe I'd give match.com another try. Just one month... I was prepared for the worst. Now that I'm 50, I figured I would be too old to even make it into the search criteria of anyone other than the senior citizens. (I did briefly consider lying about my age... it's so common place on the online dating sites that it's almost expected... but that's a story for another post.)

Anyway, I have been having the best luck this time around! There are a lot of really great-looking, active, intelligent guys in their late 40's and early 50's who have contacted me. In fact, when I had three "in the 'let's meet' queue," I had to start turning 'em away. (I never was good at multi-dating and I barely have time to date one guy, let alone more than one.)

Now I fully expected that when I met these guys I'd do my typical thing and find some stupid, insignificant reason why we were a bad match, but that didn't happen! I think it's 'cause I used to think you had to have that limerence-induced infatuated feeling and I hardly ever get that. But this time, I was much more open to just getting to know someone more... And I actually liked all three of them! Maybe it really is much more about attitude than age.

It turns out Bachelor #2 (who secretly I was hoping for) has asked me out to dinner for Friday night! Way too early to know if it will amount to anything, but it feels good to be back in the game!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nine Levels of Love - Podcast with John Maturo

The other day I spoke with relationship coach John Maturo about his eBook, "Nine Levels of Love," and his company NU.

Tune in to this podcast to find out more about the book, the "relationship cruise" that is being offered in 2011, and advice for new singles.

Maturo helps his clients:

•Break free of bad habits

•Overcome old hurts and demons

•Shrug off negative, self-damaging feelings

•Replace unconstructive thoughts

•Improve self-esteem

•Accept yourself, flaws and all

•Find…and keep…the love you crave!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kindness Tips from Pick The Brain

I'm going to wrap up this final day of World Kindness Week by pointing you to a post from Pick the Brain: Do This and People Will LOVE You - Even If They're Suspicious.

This article talks about how nice it is both to give and receive unexpected kindnesses... just little things that show someone we're thinking of them. Here are some ideas from the post:

● Bring in snacks for the office.

● Give friends and co-workers small gifts matching their interest.

● Compliment parents on their children in public places, particularly their behavior. Even if they weren’t perfect. Who is?

● Do the classic pay for the coffee of the car behind you thing in drive throughs.

● Show up with flowers for no reason.

● Take a few minutes to listen to someone who seems lonely.

● Send letters or cards to let people know you’re thinking of them.

Some people think it's more "selfless" to give a gift anonymously. They feel that if part of the reason you're giving the gift is to get recognition or thanks or love it's "selfish." The thing is, when you receive a gift you want to thank that person. You want them to know how grateful and happy you are for their kindness. You want to share that happiness with them by giving your thanks. If they're anonymous, you can't do that.

We all enjoy doing something that makes another person happy whether that's giving or thanking. Accepting a kindness graciously and with happiness is almost like a gift back to the giver. Doing a kindness for someone will make you both happy... it's a win-win deal.

So, whether you're the giver or receiver, enjoy the gift of kindness.

By the way, Pick the Brain is a great site with lots of articles about motivation and self-improvement. They also have a new "90 Days to a Better You" eBook that you can get for free along with some daily inspirational quotes and confidence builders. Check it out!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are Kindness and Love Synonomous?

In honor of World Kindness Week, this week I'm blogging about kindness. This blog is all about love, however, and so the question I've been pondering is: Are kindness and love the same thing?

According to this recent blog post: Kindness is Not the Same as Love. The post gives these definitions for kindness:

Definitions of kindness:

Kindness is evidenced by goodness and charitable behavior, a pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others. According to Aristotle, kindness is an emotion manifesting itself by the desire to help somebody in need, without expecting anything in return. Peter Kreeft defines kindness as “sympathy, with the desire to relieve another’s suffering.” [Envoy Magazine, Vol 9.3, p. 20]

The difference between love and kindness:

Love, on the other hand, according to the article "wills what is best for the other" and makes the point that in some cases, such as parental discipline, love must outweigh kindness for the good of the child. The post is one that is coming from a religious perspective and also points out that an attitude which equates kindness to love can lead to euthanasia or atheism because God didn't save Christ from the suffering on the cross.

Both love and kindness mean doing what's best for the other person

Now, I agree that love and kindness are not exactly the same thing, but not for the same reasons stated in the blog post.

I think both love and kindness want what is best for the other person. I don't think kindness always means "relieving another's suffering" if we don't think that's what's best for the other person. Even in the stated definition, it's the desire to relieve another's suffering. However, it can be especially loving and kind to resist relieving that suffering if you feel that in the long run it is for the best of the other person. This might be comparable to being honest with someone even when it hurts them. If you can do this with respect, in my opinion it is a kind thing. You can discipline with kindness.

As for religion, well... I'm no theologist... but certainly everything in the world is not loving and kind, and I still believe in God. We all need to reach our own conclusions about why bad things happen to good people. Some things are out of our control. But I believe it's within all of our control to live with an attitude of kindness towards other people.

So are they the same thing?

I think that kindness is an aspect of love but not all of what love is. Love is a lot of things. It's something we give, something we receive, something we feel. But, as I surmised in my "8 Kinds of Love" post, there are different kinds of love but not too many different kinds of "kindness." Well... maybe there are, but the point is we are not always kind to people we love.

As the post points out, sometimes we are more kind to strangers than we are to our family members, but that doesn't mean we love them more. It could just mean we're being more polite to strangers... Or it could mean we take our family for granted, knowing they'll still love us, even when we're not so kind... Something to think about.

And sometimes we love someone romantically even when they're not necessarily kind! Actually, that doesn't happen to me too often... I definitely want kindness in a relationship... But I know it does happen! All the time you hear about people being more attracted to "bad boys" or "chicks with an attitude."

Another difference is that we can be super-kind to someone, but it won't necessarily get them to love us. In fact, it may even annoy them if they think we're just being kind so that they will love us. Or maybe they'll appreciate our kindness and think we're a really nice person, but they still won't "love" us.

I think true kindness does not expect anything in return. You're not being kind because you want someone to love you or because you want them to do something for you.. You just are being kind because it's your character. It's natural to smile and to speak respectfully and kindly to everyone you meet.

It is very easy to be kind. Be kind to strangers, to your family, to your friends, to your pets, to yourself... Perhaps the only people it's not easy to be kind to are people who we don't like. But what would happen if we were kind even to them? Well, that's a subject for another day... This blog post is already too long.

So while the meanings are not exactly the same, I'd say kindness is a key ingredient to love. If you're taking your friends and family for granted, maybe it's time to stop and consciously make an effort to treat them with special kindness. Make it a habit.

As for romantic love? Well, kindness won't guarantee you'll get that. But if kindness is a part of your character, you almost certainly will be loved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kindness for Troops and Veterans

In honor of World Kindness Week and Veterans Day, this is obviously a day to give thanks and show kindness to our troops. Find out what you can do to support our troops by reading about Operation Gratitude. As for veterans? There are bunch of fun things for you to enjoy today. A huge thanks to those who serve our country.

Support our Troops

I found this wonderful Website called Operation Gratitude. This group sends 100,000 care packages annually over to the troops. They also have all kinds of ideas of how you can help. Their blog is filled with ideas of things you can do to support our troops. Check out 10 Ways to Support Our Troops in November for details on everything from knitting scarves, to writing letters, to recycling cell phones.

Veteran's Day Freebies

It's nice to see that the community honoring veterans today, too. Here are some events and freebies for Veterans that I found in my Free Things to Do in Denver newsletter:

Veteran’s Day is November 11, 2010 and did you know there are nearly 24 million Veterans living among us? Well, we’re glad to see so many freebies out there for our active duty and retired military. Everything from a free one-day cruise to free dinners! Military ID is required for some offers. As Veteran’s Day approaches, it is refreshing to see that there are more and more companies who want to thank our veterans by providing them with discounts or a free meal. To those companies offering veterans a free meal or discount, we give a collective thanks. Check out the free ticket offers, free drinks and other fundraisers and celebrations for members of the military.

Anheuser-Busch Parks Free Admission

Complimentary admission for active duty military representing all five service branches, active members of a reserve or National Guard unit, and/or up to three direct dependants. Valid for one complimentary single-day admission per person, per year, to one of the following Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks:

  • SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or Williamsburg
  • Sesame Place
  • Adventure Island
  • Water Country USA
  • Offer valid through 12/31/2010. Operating days and hours vary by park. Please check with specific park for current operating schedule. Learn more.

    Applebee’s — Come on out and enjoy a free meal. Veterans and active duty eat free on Nov. 11, 2010. The freebie menu has seven options, including a burger, salad, chicken, sirloin, and shrimp. Dine in only. Beverages and tip not included. ID required.

    Bed and Breakfasts free — A long list of B&Bs are offering a free night stay to veterans on Nov. 10, 2010. Most of the B&Bs are already booked (those marked FULL), but there are a few left.

    Brides Across America – Military wives can get a free wedding dress Nov. 8-13 at select locations across the county. The dresses are donated by a slew of designers and sell for $500 to $3,000. Sizes range from 4 to 22.

    Claim Jumper — Free dessert for veterans and active duty military with ID is available on Nov. 10, 2010. Dine in only.

    Dollar General — Veterans, active duty, national guard and their immediate families get a 10% veteran discount on all purchases on Nov. 11, 2010. (See screen one in above link.)

    FLW Outdoors Digital Magazine – For National Guard Members. Here’s what you get: Bass or walleye editions , Player’s Advantage for Fantasy Fishing, Digital editions…and the ability to read FLW Outdoors Magazine anywhere you serve.

    Free Audio and paperbacks – Free paperbacks and audiobooks – MilitaryOneSource.com offers ten free paperback / audiobooks per year to those in the military and their families.

    Free one day cruise to the Bahamas – Discovery Cruise Line is inviting all Military who have served or are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan during the last year on a complimentary one day cruise from Ft,. Lauderdale, FL to Grand Bahama Island valid until December 31, 2010. Discovery will provide the free one day Bahamas Cruise including the cost of all buffet meals, all service charges, taxes and Bahamian Departure Fees. There are no additional costs involved.

    Golden Corral — On Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 from 5-9 p.m., veterans, active duty, reserve, and national guard members can get a free dinner buffet. Last year they fed 335,000 people!

    Hooters – Get a free meal from a special menu at participating restaurants when you purchase a beverage. Available for veterans and active military with ID. Dine in only. Cannot be combined with other discounts. Up to an $8.50 value.

    The Home Depot – Veterans get a 10% military discount year round. Show your military ID at checkout.

    Hy-vee – The midwestern grocery chain with in-store dining is serving free breakfast buffet to veterans on Nov. 11 from 7-11 a.m.

    Knott’s Berry Farm — Through Nov. 24, 2010, admission is free to veterans or active duty military personnel plus one guest. Get up to six extra tickets for $15 each. ID required. Eligible person must be present. Dependent I.D.s will not be accepted.

    Lowe’s — Just like rival Home Depot, Lowe’s offers a 10% military discount year round. Show your military ID at checkout.

    McCormick & Schmick’s -- Veterans get a free meal from a special menu on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. Reservations strongly suggested. ID required.

    National Parks — Some 393 National Parks across 49 states are free to everyone on Nov. 11, 2010.

    New Balance — Shipping on sneakers and everything else is free for everyone through Nov. 11, 2010.

    Outback Steakhouse – Veterans and active duty will be treated to a free bloomin’ onion and non-alcoholic beverage of their choice on Nov. 11, 2010.

    Red Roof – Veterans get a hotel discount of 15% at participating Red Roof hotels for the month of November. Mention your military status over the phone or when you book online use coupon code 606310. ID required.

    Sam’s Club – Free Canes for for Veterans – For Veterans Day (November 10th, 11th and 12th), Sam’s Club will be giving away 36,000 free Hugo canes to United States Military Veterans in need of mobility assistance. Quantities are limited per club. Available while supplies last. Sam’s Club Membership is not required but proof of military service required.

    Sea World — Admission is free for active military duty personnel and up to three dependents for Sea World Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or Williamsburg, Sesame Place, Adventure Island, or Water Country USA. Some exclusions. One per person per year. ID required.

    Sleep Number — Veterans get a mattress discount, free shipping on bed sets, and special discounts through Nov. 14, 2010.

    Universal Studios (Hollywood, CA) — Military discounts are offered year round to military retirees, DOD personnel, members of the National Guard/Reserves, dependents and all other base personnel when you buy tickets in advance through participating MWR/ITT offices or through the mail.

    Uno Chicago Grill – Get a free meal or pizza when you show up in uniform, have a picture of you in uniform, or have military ID. Nov. 11, 2010 only. No coupon needed.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Spreading Kindness and Love with a Recorded Call

    In honor of World Kindness Week, I wrote up an article about my "Giving a Gift of Love" idea and I'm hoping people will download it and pass it around.

    Basically, the idea is to have the friends and family of the intended recipient call in to a conference call with messages of love and then record the call. With the recordings you can create a CD as a gift for the recipient to save and listen to whenever he wants. I'm doing this as a Thanksgiving surprise for my friend, Craig Dunham, who is a victim of ALS.

    This idea has turned out to be a really fun experience for everyone involved. All the people who are participating are grateful to have this chance to send their love to Craig in this manner. I really can't wait to give him this recording so he can hear what a difference he's made in so many lives. Talk about kindness... Craig is the man. He's kind even when he can't move or talk! You can just see the kindness in his eyes.

    This is especially a wonderful gift for Craig. Since he can't move or talk any more, he can't just pick up the phone and have a conversation with all the people he loves. But he can still hear and he can still love and I feel so lucky that I thought of this way that I could bring a whole bunch of love to him for the Thanksgiving holiday.

    Now the rest of you out there CAN pick up the phone and talk! Isn't it amazing what we all take for granted? So even if you don't want to make a recorded call for someone, you can spread kindness and love every day. Don't forget to tell the people in your life how much they mean to you and how much you love them. It will mean more than you know to both of you.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    World Kindness Week - Spread Kindness!

    I have been meaning for quite some time to blog about the relationship of love and kindness and it looks like this will be the week! Yesterday I learned that Nov.8 - Nov.13 is World Kindness Week!

    I blogged once before about the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Well, they have a new website that combines social media and kindness! You know I've gotta be all over that! There's even a game you can play to score points for doing kind acts. (You know how much I like points!)

    There are all kinds of inspiring stories, ideas for spreading kindness to the world, and the ability to connect to like-minded kind people. How great is that?

    I have found that as I surround myself with kind people (whether those be virtual friends or people I see in life all the time) my life just becomes more full of love and happiness. Sometimes my heart is just so full I can't express it. I have some people in my life who are kind beyond words... These people give so freely of themselves whether it be with a check for a good cause, a prayer, a vote in the latest competition, or just an encouraging word. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

    I have spread the word about a lot of things since I started getting involved with social media and blogging... some of them have been purely for myself (like asking people to sign up for Jazzed so I could win an iPad) and some have been for other people... asking people to help a girl with Cerebral Palsy, asking for votes for a Children's Hospital, asking for prayers for those in need.

    In all those cases, spreading the word made a big difference! Kindness spreads!

    So, this week I'm going to blog all I can about kindness and this Random Acts of Kindness Website. Come join! Let's spread the word of kindness!

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Men and Authenticity - Interview with Ray Brejcha

    The other day I blogged about The Red Pill Weekend, put on by Ray Brejcha. Since then I've had the opportunity to speak more with Ray about the weekend and find out more about why men are saying it's a life-changing experience.

    Listen in on this podcast to find out more about The Red Pill Weekend and what Ray has to say about how men can develop deeper connections in their lives.

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Help Mr. November become a Paridise Hunter

    One of the most interesting people I met in the quest for love, chronicled in The Laptop Dancer Diaries, was Mr. November: Ian Usher. Ian has a fascinating story. He received fame (if not fortune) from "selling his life on eBay." Then he spent the next 100 weeks traveling the world in hopes of achieving 100 goals. Along the way, we met, in November, 2008, when I was looking for an adventure a month and a man to fall in love with as I was writing my book.

    Ian and I have remained friends and I'm happy to say that he has recently completed his book, A LIFE SOLD. I don't think it's quite ready for sale yet, but will be in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to get my copy!

    Ian's next venture may be spending a year as a Paradise Hunter! He's applying for the position of hosting a show. Job responsibilities include traveling the world in search of paradise.

    Part of the job application is getting votes for a video you put together. As usual, Ian has done an excellent job with the video and certainly is an experienced paradise hunter!

    Check out his video and vote at: http://www.paradisehunter.com/vote/Ianusher.html

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    Two sites for people who LOVE free stuff!

    This blog is about love of ALL types and one thing I love is getting a good deal.... either by special offers or sales or prizes!

    So for those of you who also are into good deals, let me tell you about two sites that often have some great stuff offered:

    Living Social
    You can sign up for major cities to get a Daily Deal. I, of course, sign up for the Denver area, and every day I find out about half-price deals. Some of these are really great deals. I've gotten white-water rafting and a mobile massage, both for half-price and I just purchased a deal for 3 hours of maid service for only $50! Better yet, if you pass on the deal to friends and get 3 to sign up for the deal in 72 hours, you get the service for free! Social networker that I am, I often can think of many people who might be interested.

    In fact, if you live in the Denver area and want to get your house cleaned for $50 (or possibly for free) click here to find out more! (Offer expires tomorrow, though..)

    Free Things to Do in Denver

    This site is great for people in the Denver area. If you don't live in the area, just google "Free Things in [city of your choice]" and you may find a similar site. I think it's awesome!

    From their Website:

    FREE DENVER — Free Things to Do in Denver is dedicated to providing all the latest free and low-cost things to do in Denver. Free Things to do in Denver provides information on free family events, free museums, free events, free attractions, free concerts, free kid’s events, free comedy, free festivals, free music, free stuff, free drinks, free food, and more. We want people (and families especially) to be able to have fun without money in Denver.

    You can sign up for a daily newsletter with upcoming free events. Check out what was in the newsletter yesterday:

    • Reminder: Free Denver American Girl Events in Nov/Dec
    • Great Model Train Expo – Nov 6-7 and Kids are Free!
    • Free Days at the Denver Zoo – November 7 and 13
    • Free Days at Denver Museum of Science and Nature – Nov 14 and Dec 6
    • Free Day at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield – Nov 5
    • Free Tie Day – Nov 6 in Denver
    • Reminder: Free Art Walks in Golden Triangle Art District – Nov 5
    • Free Kid’s Workshop: Spice Rack Project at Home Depot – November 6
    • Free Concert: Opera Rocks the Rockies – Nov 5

    Of course the most exciting kind of freebie is a prize. My friend Lis won an iPad for a student with Cerebral Palsy by spreading the word about her gym.

    And I even won an iPad for myself! Yes, by pestering all my friends to sign on to Jazzed, a new eHarmony spin-off, I got entries in their sweepstakes, and won that iPad! Believe me, a geek like me LOVES an iPad! (I almost added "love of technology" to my "Eight Kinds of Love" post, but I knew only geeks would truly get it...)

    I also won entry into the Muddy Buddy at the Boulder Res last summer when I was laid off by entering a FaceBook contest! This was such an excellent prize since I got to do it with my son at a time when I was so worried about money. (Entry fee to the Muddy Buddy is really expensive.)

    You definitely don't want to get the reputation of being a spammer, but if you truly believe in a cause or a "deal" then social media is the perfect outlet for spreading the word. I have to say, I am so grateful to my friends that put up with my emails, tweets, blog posts, and facebook status updates and support me in these various contests!

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Installing Love

    Here's something that's floating around the internet. Wish I knew who to give credit to for writing it. I love it! Great mix of geek and love, two of my favorite subjects! I do want to thank my good friend and relationship coach, Jeannine Lee, for pointing me to it on her blog!


    Technical Support: Yes, how can I help you?

    Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

    Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

    Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

    Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

    Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

    Tech Support: What programs are running ?

    Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

    Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off ?

    Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

    Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

    Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

    Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

    Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

    Tech Support: Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

    Customer: So, what should I do?

    Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

    Customer: Okay, done.

    Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

    Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

    Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets installed at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

    Customer: Thank you, God

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Give the gift of love to someone for the holidays... Here's how

    If you've been following my blog, you know that I ran a marathon recently and enlisted the support of my friends to call me throughout the race. It was so touching to get those wonderful calls from friends and I thought how great it would be to listen to them at whenever I might be lonely or in need of support.

    Then it dawned on me that I could easily make a recording like this for someone else... and I thought of the perfect person who deserves it: my friend with ALS, Craig Dunham!

    All I had to do was set up a conference call and record it! It's all very easy with a free tool called FreeConferencePro.com. FreeConferencePro is great! I use it all the time for podcasts. All you have to do is press *9 to record and *9 again to end and you get your recording in both .mp3 and .wav formats.

    So I invited all of Craig's friends and family to call and talk about why they are thankful to have him in their lives. I suggested they could leave a poem, a prayer, talk about memories, or just tell Craig how much they love him. I got lots of responses and my email got passed on to others who knew him. I had a full group of people for the first call on Saturday morning. I have three other calls scheduled and it's very easy to do, so I can accommodate anyone who wants to participate. Once I have all the recordings, I can merge the .mp3 files together into one long .mp3 file that Craig can listen to any time.

    I can't imagine how lonely it must be for Craig at times and I don't know if he's even going to have family here at Thanksgiving, but at least he will have a lot of voices telling him how much we love him.

    Whether it's a graduation, wedding, marathon, get well wish, a holiday or any time -- it's so nice to be surrounded by the voices of people we love. Why not surprise someone with a recording filled with love for the holidays this year?