From the Outside to the Inside – come join me on this journey!

WEEK 1 – Quiet Time with myself

I have spent most of August “letting go” and trying not to worry why I can’t get meet an eligible guy from any of the dating websites (and yes, I added myself to another one that I will review a little later).

  • I have stopped checking the websites every hour for “matches”IMG_6158[1]
  • I have ended chats with “half-eligible” options
  • I said good bye to guys I had several dates with but didn’t feel a spark
  • I celebrated a round birthday
  • Bought new clothes
  • I had some fun with friends. Doing that I discovered two (1 and 2) great restaurants in Oakland.
  • Spent a weekend with this beautiful man. He even slept in bed with me and didn’t even touch me.
  • I traveled for work, getting closer to my Platinum status at American Airlines.
  • Continued to do the “inner work”, which brings me to the topic of this post.

I read every day. I listen to podcasts and summits on relationships on my lunch walks. The information revolves around basic concepts: Love yourself. Make a gratitude list. Heal from past hurt. Journal. Buy a sexy outfit. Smile (my friends say that to me). Manifest your soulmate by making a list of what you want. Make room in your house for him. The tips are endless. Where to start?

Well, I did a little of everything. But deep inside I feel there is more I have to do. I really appreciate all the wonderful coaches out there. I read their blogs and learn so much. But I am a big believer in “doing it yourself”. Maybe that comes from my communist upbringing or is simply my makeup as a person. I feel the best results are obtained when one goes through the journey from beginning to end. I make my own yogurt, brew my own kombucha and filed for my Green Card without a lawyer. I created my own diet and exercise plan. I am good at reading instructions and following them. So why not do the same with the one thing that is still missing?

This will be an experiment. While the relationship coaches will speak about concepts they applied successfully and now sell to us because they worked, I will try them out as I go. I will let my intuition guide me on this journey and hope you can join me. (Maybe I can make a living from this later too?!)

I decided that I will focus on ONE CONCEPT for ONE WEEK. Not every day is equal. Yesterday evening after I came home from the gym I had ants all over my kitchen. Needless to say, reading and meditating was out the window as I plopped exhausted into bed at 11pm after cleaning and spraying and cleaning and ….

One week at a time I want to take a conscious approach to inner work as I believe that the following are TRUE:

  1. Finding the right partner will happen – but only when we are in a good place with ourselves.
  2. If we cannot find the right partner easily, it is an indicator that we need to do some clean-up work.
  3. Thoughts become things – we have the power to manifest what we want. But to do so we need to have a clear understanding what we are looking for.

I am not yet sure how many weeks will be needed, but tentatively I know this:

For the month of September I will not worry so much about dating but FOCUS more on myself, on my inside, my thoughts and feelings

Week 1 Quiet time with myself.

The goal here is to reflect. No reading, not listening to podcasts, or talking to friends. Just being quiet and digging inside for what is going on.

Here are 3 very important points:

  • We were born pure and clean. Then came our parents, then friends, TV, partners, and suddenly we began to create an idea of who we are that was not based on the pure self we were born with but on what the outside said and we thought we should be.
  • This created a veil, an illusion we have about ourselves (“I am fat”, “I am not capable of loving” etc) which has distorted our view of reality and has created an obstacle to live life to the fullest and be happy.
  • We need to remove the obstacles by taking the veil of and finding our inner self again. This will require different amounts of effort depending on each individual person and I don’t think everyone can do this alone. Some of us may have had some very negative experiences that require professional help.

But taking some quiet time can be a good start for everyone, no matter what our issues are.

I realized I DO way to much, yet hardly ever  I AM. I listen, I write, I read, but I can never just BE. Not enough time in my day.

So – Here is how I will JUST BE for the next week:

  • Take 10 min in the morning and before bedtime
  • Sit in a relaxed position without any background noise. Maybe lay down on my yoga mat.
  • Light a candle
  • Breathe normally and just let my thoughts go to the inside (not the outside – i.e. I have to be careful not to think about the weather, work, ants, etc)
    • How do I feel about myself?
    • What beliefs have I created in the past about me that affect me today?
    • Are these beliefs true?
    • Did I learn anything today or yesterday that has changed my thinking in any way?
  • Spend 2 min writing some of these insights in my journal and review them before the next session.

OK! I am set. Are you in? I am excited to see what comes from this.

J

Why Hinge doesn’t hinge

Recently I went out for drinks with a friend and she announced to the other people with us that I am “searching” and so the conversation quickly went to dating. I showed some of the pics from people that had contacted me on OKC, and as I was lamenting the lack of “potential suiters” one of her friends looked at me in amazement and said “Are you not using Hinge?”

Hinge?  I had never heard of Hinge. I had heard of Tinder and although I never checked it out, I know it’s not for me. Hinge, on the other hand, I liked immediately as I downloaded it.

  • No profile writing required
  • It connects to your Facebook profile and displays your stats (town you are from, schools you went to, where you work, height, etc)
  • It displays some of your pics you have on FB but smartly eliminates those that you may not want to show (maybe those with your ex)

The basics are there – aside from their looks you get a good idea about their life – job, education, hobbies, friends, providing a baseline and eliminating the need for the dull intro questions that are needed even on the sites that require profile writing, because they never show specifics.

You get a batch of potential matches a few times per day based on your connections. Bummer, I thought, because my friend list is small (under 100) and I don’t really connect to work acquaintances on Facebook. That’s what LinkedIn is for. Most of my friends are in other places of the world. Some of them don’t even use Facebook. So at the beginning Hinge struggled a bit finding me matches that I was interested in, but I think it spun its net a little wider and now I get pretty good results. It knows what I want.

As yIMG_6187[1]ou peruse the options (one at the time), you have to select between a HEART and an X. Cool so far.  If someone also selected you with a HEART then it’s a match. Exciting, I thought. Immediate results! This is easy. But then the hard part starts – someone has to initiate contact by sending a message. First,
I waited. Lets see, I thought. But nobody wrote me. After a week, and a glass of wine, I wrote 5 of my matches. No response. And no, I was not particularly clever with my notes. Don’t all conversation in this country start with “Hi, how are you?”

It didn’t make sense – why doesn’t anyone write? They clearly liked me. The “hearted” me.

It all reminds me a lot of job searching. There is the awesome job description that fits my experience perfectly. I apply and never hear back.

I am really struggling with finding answers to my questions. I did a little bit of research. This article addresses some of these questions from a guys perspective and related to Tinder, but it doesn’t really help me.

So I did a little bit more searching inside myself, because I realized: I do the same thing. On OKC I do it. People write me and first I write back, or I write them and they wrote back, but then I just didn’t answer anymore. Why?

  1. The main reason, I believe, is this: They are not THE ONE. Plain and simple. If you are out there looking for an LTR, then you are looking for the One. I liked one or two aspects of them, and that’s why I clicked. Looks ok, works at Stanford, pic in front of the Eiffel Tower, has to be a great guy. But then I look again, and again, and I realize He is not it.
  2. After two weeks on Hinge I realized – there are a lot of people on there with GREAT jobs. Everyone seems to travel these days. Most all look decent too. So – maybe I got pickier. That could be reason number 2 – large pool of fish to choose from – we become selective. I can say this – all the matches that I have now – or call them connections – I look through them all once a week or so and almost all of them I would say NO to if they asked me out. There is usually just one that I really like. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to chat with all of them at least a bit. Which brings me to number 3:
  3. It’s also a matter of time I barely have time to respond to my friends’ text messages. Now I have these messages from guys where I really want to pay attention to what I write, so they take more time to compose than a normal text. I know women are good at multi-tasking and I think we are the ones sitting and waiting for these men to write us. But I think men are much more single-focused and probably lock in on one or two people instead of multiple women. This brings me to number 4:
  4. People may already be talking to one or 2 connections they really like. So – they are selective. I am just not a priority right now. They could be travelling for work, simply busy, etc.
  5. Online is not the only way to meet people. People also still in meet in person and we have to assume that, while they are on Hinge, they may have met a great person last Friday at Happy Hour that they are now talking to.

So – here is my conclusion from all this and my plan to move forward:

  • I am not going to rely on Hinge to deliver The One to me. Meaning – I will not waste my day wondering why nobody writes. Hinge is just one more tool to give me online presence. I will keep clinking away and I will leave the rest up to the Universe. If its meant to happen it will. Desperation is not a good starting point anyway.
  • I will selectively write people if I feel they are a great match. But I will do more due diligence to composing a creative message. I will study their pics in detail, and find something that could relate to them. A compliment is always a nice way to start the conversation.
  • I am looking at Hinge as a connection tool. On OKC, I talk to people on Monday and we meet on Friday. On Hinge, since connections are established daily (I create about 1-4 matches per day), just imagine – that means the same or better for others. So yes – it’s a great and quick way to build a connection with a picture, but actually talking? Much more competition. I will roll with that. Just because you connect doesn’t mean you are immediately ready to meet. The people I am talking to now wrote me after a several days of being “matched.” Their answers back to me also take several days. That’s Hinge.

Again – dating takes time. At least for me.

J

The Resident Dating Life

Yesterday evening I went to see Kathryn Alice speak, a famous dating coach who has made a business out of helping people find their soulmate. I am fascinated with her work because it sounds all so simple. I love simple things.  A summary of the evening:

  • The room was 95% women. Nice women. All looking for the one. I wanted to hug them all.DSC_2995
  • She dedicated 1.5 hours to us, however most of the time she made us work. She gave us group activities such as speaking about what we are looking for in our soulmate, what our beliefs are about ourselves, etc.
  • She lectured very little. Her power point didn’t have more than 10 slides.
  • She did well advertising her books and CDs and her “regular fees” which range in the 000000000s (oops, stuck key)
  • She made a soul call meditation which I liked most. Felt great afterwards.
  • Bought a copy of her book and she signed it for me. $15 investment. Cheaper on Amazon but I wanted to support the bookstore that put the event on for free.

So – The resident is dating. This tagline alone deserves sentence after sentence of explanation and clarification. In honor of your time I will summarize: I am “out there” looking for a long term relationship (LTR). And I decided to document my experiences. Some of them are too funny to keep to my small circle of friends. Others are valuable and I want to pass them on to other daters. I predict that there will be several posts about dating in the coming weeks and months (I hope not years) as I made it a priority to find “the one.”

I started “full-time” in July. What does that mean? I began to dedicate a significant portion of my free time to reading about the topic, refining my online profiles (yes, several) and meeting people. Here is the first lesson I learned.

  • Patience. It takes longer than I thought.

Later,

J

July Favorites

Here is a laundry list of people, experiences, readings, videos, tidbits, etc that occupied my mind during July. I hope you find some of them as enriching as I did:

  • Re-reading this because she portrays the challenges of immigrating and making a living in this country so vividly.
  • Highly recommend this wonderful exhibition showing the works of JMW Turner. If you don’t live near San Francisco I would say to get a book and admire his work. His depictions of light will leave you breathless.
  • If you are dating or looking to improve your current relationships, I recommend you subscribe to Polina’s emails. Out of many emails that spam my inbox, her information is so well-written, helpful, and always hits the nail on the head. Her last one was about “7 red flags that he’s emotionally unavailable” and I could not believe how spot-on she was. I shared the article with a bunch of my girl-friends and they all loved the truths it contained.
  • In this video, Avalaura Beharry briefly explains chakras, reiki, and other basic spiritual concepts that I have always wondered about.
  • July was brewing month. The scobys grew like crazy in my warm dining room. I can now make a new scoby within a week. Wondering what I am talking about? If you tried Kombucha and love it, try making it yourself. Its so easy. I followed these instructions – they are perfect. Just make sure you have plenty of black tea and sugar in your pantry and you are ready to go. I found the best $$ deal of black tea at Whole Foods (their brand).
  • My July Favorite Quote (and I read a lot of quotes on Instagram each day)
    • To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Happy August!

Janine

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Focused Mind = Happy Mind

There are times when I am extremely thankful to all the work done by researchers on the topic of happiness and mental well-being. It seems that in recent years, one can find increasingly more information on these subjects. I have never been someone to just accept the things that happen to me. I was lucky, the Wall fell and I was able to travel to other countries. But many of my childhood friends stayed behind and never even explored the world that is now open to them. An accomplished goal is never a final destination for me but rather a motivation to set another goal. But when it comes to controlling my mind, I have often, and still miserably fail. I let it wander. And this wandering can sometimes cause quite some waves, often ending in complete frustration and unhappiness.  As a teenager growing up it never occurred to me that this is something I can actually control. I always felt I was the victim of some unfortunate external complot directed only towards me. Sure, you hear encouragements such as “Stay calm, keep your head up, it will get better,” but I found these never really helpful.  And then I started coming across the topic of controlling one’s thoughts in leadership books, usually mentioned as a strategy for leaders trying to build a positive work environment. And for some reason, at work I am more successful than at home with this concept. I am comfortable that I contribute to the happiness of my employees by practicing a leadership style that is build on empathy, passion, communication and a positive attitude. In my personal life, however, events and situations vary much more than at work. Two days ago, Texas was hit by severe hail storms and several tornados. As I am standing in the shelter at work waiting out what is to come, I am thinking about my house and the possibility of it being gone. And I thought a lot about the reaction I would have if that was the case. Mostly, however, I feel there is not enough time to think about a possible reaction. Many events are sudden, but even more are slowly building up in our minds. It could be a slightly offensive email that we read first thing in the morning, followed by other small events that put us on the edge in the course of the day.

A few weeks ago I read an article in the Jan/Feb edition of the Harvard Business Review. It talks about how our bad mood can be attributed to our minds wandering. We are great at controlling what we will do with our physical selves, but often forget about the mind. We should focus our thoughts. Coincidentally, I am reading a book on coaching that takes a similar approach and states that we have the tendency to exaggerate both the good and the bad things in our lives. And to top it all off, I received a speeding ticket the other day and as I go through the online defensive driving course, again, I am being reminded to be aware of my state of mind as it interferes with our judgment or reasoning abilities on the road. I discovered that the power to control my mind will make me a better person because it affects all aspects of my life. But how hard is that? Very. But it can be done.

So, here are a few tools I have compiled for myself on my quest to make sure my mind does not wander off in directions where I can’t reach it anymore:

  1. There are really bad events that occur in some peoples’ lives and that warrant very emotional reactions. For the rest and the majority I always ask myself “Is this worth dying over?” Meaning – is this really so bad to justify a bunch of fuss? The answer is usually no.
  2. I try to recall similar situations that have happened to me in the past. In almost all cases, I was a happier and wiser self after these. Thus, I try to envision a positive outcome. Sayings like “there is always something positive in every negative situation” are not far off. The trick is to imagine that positive something while you’re in the midst of a crisis. It can be tough.
  3. I keep a list of things I have accomplished in my mind. When people say “Wow, you came to the US all by yourself and started a life here?” I don’t think that it is such a big deal, but maybe it is. But when I am thrown off course and lost without direction, these things come back to me and help me to stick it out.
  4. I will call a friend. Usually it helps me organize my thoughts better when I can talk through them. I am action-oriented. When I can finish the call with a couple of steps to take then I feel much better. This will prevent me from just reacting and prepare me to react. For example, for a tough conversation at work, I may write down a few notes to help me organize my thoughts.
  5. I divert. As a manager I cannot afford to display my negative emotions. So I discovered that, by making an effort to be friendly with others and even complimenting their work, I completely distract from myself and begin to realize that it’s not all about me and that other things matter just as well.
  6. I look at my dog or a picture of her and say to myself “learn from this wonderful creature.” She is happy no matter which stands in stark contrast to my exaggerated complications. It makes me realize how insignificant some of them are.
  7. And lastly, I try to avoid the spiral of negativity. Here is a good one: “My life is nothing compared to others. I should be already in a higher position, making more money, having a greater impact. I am useless.” Don’t dwell, is all I can say. I love this phrase. Don’t dwell on the negative, the sad, the lesser, the frustrating. Focus on the positive. Every day. I put a reminder on my phone that pops up at 8pm every night: Write down one of today’s many successes.  Then I review them once in a while and for me, there is nothing more satisfying than a sense of accomplishment.

Still, controlling one’s mind is hard work. Its so easy to slip. Just seeing someone in better shape and in nicer clothes can be the onset for a really depressing evening. Don’t get distracted, I tell myself. Cottrell calls it focus inside your boat in order to control what you can. As for the rest, smile and move on.