What Would the Wise Woman Do?

I started taking this philosophy course at the start of the year. It was something that I was a little embarrassed to admit because it’s not the type of thing “us New Yorkers” do. Or at least, the response I’ve received so many times when I admit my class enrollment is “OMG, that sign on the subway! You actually did it!” (It looks like this, if you’re curious.)

Based on the advertisement alone, you would think it’s some hoax but the actual lessons I’ve learned through my 10-week schooling have been so influential on my life that I signed up for philosophy 2.

Each class, we discuss topics that relate to life as a group, and then we’re given homework to practice throughout the week. They range from “What would the wise woman do?” (your smarter, less crazy inner self) to “In every situation, find the beauty. If you don’t see it, look again. And if you still don’t see it, look again. And again.” (much easier said than done!).

All of these lessons about patience and listening, kindness and relaxing, selflessness and seeking the wisdom you can gain from every situation have benefited me immensely. When I’m stressed or anxious, upset or unsure, I find myself repeating the smart mantras to get me through the moment or the day or the incident. I’ve become more balanced at work, I spend more time really listening to what my friends have to say and giving more thoughtful, understanding advice. When I feel like the world is crashing down, I can usually apply something from the class and build back up the pieces that started to crumble.

In all areas of my life, I’ve become a better version of myself… except for the one pain point that philosophy class hasn’t been able to soothe:

My dating life.

Now – all of the principles I’ve been taught and repeated in my head for the past 10 weeks definitely make sense in terms of finding love:

Expand your circle of kindness. (Don’t just say no to some dude because he doesn’t fit perfectly into what you want)

Consider every person and every situation as a teacher. What can you learn? (When a date goes terribly and you are eying for the closest exit to get the f*** out of there, breathe, and see what you can gain from this experience.)

What you give your attention to grows. (If you keep focusing on the bad and the disheartening parts of being single or seeking love, you’re going to be continuously slapped in your pretty little face.)

Logically, I see the direct correlation but when I attempt to put it into practice, all of my zen attitudes and my self-encouraging thoughts quickly turn into the catastrophic rolling tide of negativity.

Like on Tuesday.

I met someone in a rather interesting way recently and I was excited about going out with him for the first time on Tuesday. There was some brief texting and some minor flirtation, and though I knew better than to get my hopes up about a date with a stranger, I was actually excited to see how it (and he) turned out. Maybe because the majority of first dates either go very well or very bad, or that I’m just so programmed to expect the worst out of men in New York, but as I was walking to the subway station to meet him, I felt the fear start creeping it’s way into my mind:

What if it’s really awkward? What if I don’t like him? What if how I remember him isn’t quite how he is? What if I’m really, really early? Or late? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I want to leave and I won’t know how to get away from him? What if he doesn’t think I’m pretty?

I felt my anxiety continue to build as I turned the corner and out of nowhere, something inside of me said: Look up. Look around you. Get out of your head and in the moment.”

And so I did.

I saw the toddlers racing out of their doorman building and the golden retriever happily following behind them. I saw young women around my age coming out of the local market with bags of food, talking to someone on the phone in hushed tones. I saw the street car vendor call out to passerbys and I saw little old men shuffling their way to the apartments they’ve probably had for decades.

And then I looked up…

… just as someone accidentally let go of a heart-shaped red balloon and it floated quickly up to the sky from the uptown streets of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Just as I was walking by. And just as Maroon 5′s “Love Somebody” came on my Pandora app.

First, I though, wow, my friends are right. My life IS a romantic comedy, and then I gave myself a break for being so negative about relationships.

The truth is  – dating is hard. It is frustrating. It in oftentimes, infuriating. And after going on date after date and meeting guy after guy for two and a half years, it’s natural to be a little burnt out. It’s normal to feel nervous before a date and frankly, nervous for how you’ll feel afterwards: more disappointed or hopeful (and honestly, the latter is a little scarier than the first).

And while it’s okay to worry, my energy and my time (and my heart) are better spent living in the now. Enjoying every single second of every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year is the single most important thing I’ve gained from my philosophy training. Time spent analyzing the past and holding onto it keeps you from the joy and the splendor of the now. And wondering what tomorrow will bring or who you will meet or how it will go or how it won’t go or what will happen are all questions that you’ll never have the answers to until… well, they happen. The truth of everything is found while you’re experiencing, not afterwards and not in anticipation of the moment.

So I got on the train. I took the local and I read a book the whole way. I took my time getting to the bar. I casually sat down, arriving before he did. I drank some water and I scanned a menu I already basically had memorized. I saw him arrive and I watched him walk in.

He smiled a genuine, kind grin at me and sat down.

And we talked philosophy – something that both of us had studied and both had our lives and our mindsets changed because of the work. A few drinks, a few kisses and a few days later, I’m excited about our second date this Friday.

But I’m not stressed about it. I’m just letting it happen. Why?

Because that’s exactly what the wise woman would do.

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My New York: Measure Lounge for First Dates

I always prefer that a guy picks the first date spot. My good friend K once said that where a guy invites you can give an interesting perspective into he is. I’m not a fan of a sports bar (or a guy obsessed with sports) but I also don’t want to go to a place so pretentious that I feel uncomfortable and can’t be myself (which is so important!). I wish I could send vibes to men who ask me out to take me to a place like Measure Lounge. It’s quiet enough that you can hear someone talk, the crowd is professional and eclectic, but the ambiance is still romantic enough for a date. See my fun experience below and if you’re in New York, stop by – especially if your date is paying!

Where it is: Midtown, 400 Fifth Avenue
What we ate: My friend J came with me and we split: the raw kale salad, the cheese platter, the fig crostini, the Korean-style boneless chicken, the grilled Creekstone sirloin and the bread pudding skewers.
What we drank: the Pisco Inferno, the Ginger Blossom and a dark and stormy.
What we thought: The Pisco Inferno is a must-try – but their cocktails are pricey ($16!). While the Korean-style boneless chicken was amazing, the grilled Creekstone sirloin arrived cold. The bread pudding skewers are light and a perfect portion for a dessert.
What it’s great for: A fun, relaxed environment. There are several couches and comfortable chairs, plus there is live jazz every night with no cover. It’s great for getting to know someone.
Cost: $$$$
What I loved: J and I both agree the Pisco Inferno and the soft jazz were the winners of our evening.
What I learned: The restaurant manager says he sees tons of dates every night of the week in the lounge, of all different ages. He says he can always pick out when it’s an online date (he’s single himself, so he should know!) because of how they interact with each other – a little offbeat until the drinks and the conversation starts. The location is also perfect if you live on opposite sides of the island since it’s right in midtown and near both Bryant Park and Grand Central.

Enjoying the jazz!

Enjoying the jazz!

J enjoying the jazz!

J enjoying the jazz!

The Pisco Inferno!

The Pisco Inferno!

The bread pudding skewers

The bread pudding skewers

The Korean-style boneless chicken

The Korean-style boneless chicken

The fig crostini

The fig crostini

15 Beauty Products for Single Ladies

I distinctly remember the day my mom let my buy real makeup for the first time: I was 11 and had my very first zit (big and terribly red, center of my chin). It was in the middle of summer, I was wearing khaki shorts and a red polo (don’t judge) and I walked out of Wal-Mart with three things: Neutrogena Face Wash + Acne Creme duo, Covergirl concealer and blue glitter eyeshadow.

Because it was the 90′s, y’all, okay?

I was amazed by how easily it was to hide an imperfection and how fun it was to make my eyes brighten or get bigger with makeup – and honestly, I’ve been hooked ever since. After 15 years of having a really poor complexion that broke out constantly, I’ve been (mostly) acne-clear for a year now. Though Accutane is some serious stuff (and you should only take it if you commit to keeping yourself healthy), it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having the option of wearing foundation or skipping it has been a life changer and huge confidence booster. Feeling beautiful in my own actual skin is something I always wanted and never had.

But, I still love my beauty products, they’ve just changed a bit.

My mom has always worn the same lipstick, same perfume, used the same lotion – but I like to try things. There are a few staples that I swear by (you’ll see them below) and other ones that I’ve recently tried and loved (also below).

Check out my picks for the best beauty products if you’re dating, looking, loving — or just enjoying the single ride:

Shampoo That Makes Your Hair Smell Amazing

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I hate spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner (it just washes down the drain!), but I love when you can get salon-quality product for a very cheap price.  Vidal Sassoon Pro Series (I always get the jumbo-sizes at TJ Maxx for $3.99 each!) has tons of different options – moisture, repair, hydrate – but I love the color protect if you dye your hair like me.

Face Wipes That Wake You Up

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It takes 30-days to form a habit and I’ve been doing this one for 25 years: wake up, brush my teeth, use a cleansing towelette to wake up. I’ve tried lots of them, but these are soft, smell like cucumbers and great for travel. Giovanni also has tons of other products, like travel kits and makeup, check them out. (I love their Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub, too!)

Best Nail Polish Color for a First Date

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One of my good friends – a dating expert – once said: wear a red dress, but never wear red nails on a first date. I was confused by this at first, but it makes sense: you want to dry attention to yourself (and men are distracted by color, it’s science), but not to your hands, necessarily. I always go for a clear polish or a lighter color and Wet N’ Wild has a nice collection that dry fast and available basically everywhere.

Masque to Use Before He Sleeps Over

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Some say three dates, others say five – I say whatever feels right to you. For me, when I’m ready to let a man stay the night at my apartment, I want to seem like I’m this radiant, glowing creature in the morning, even if that’s not exactly true all the time. The night before your adult sleepover, try the Amore Pacific refreshing masque to deep-clean your skin and leave your face soft.

The Easiest Way Ever to Curl Your Hair

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My hair isn’t naturally anything: it’s a dull, boring light-brown color. It only looks pretty and wavy when it wants to. It doesn’t like to be straightened. And yeah, it’s kind of frizzy. Though this Rusk Curl Freak is a complete splurge ($200!) it will save you so much headache if you want really pretty, really easy curls. You clamp at the top of your hair, push a button, it beeps at you and voila! You have the most beautiful curls, ever with basically no effort.

If You Hate Getting Your Eyebrows Waxed Like Me

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I’ve had my eyebrows waxed a few times but it’s not my favorite past time. The wax breaks me out, I flinch when they do it, I have a red area around my brows for a week after. I opt for old-fashioned tweezing but prefer a slanted tip like this Tweezerman set.

For Lashes You Can Bat

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I’m a big believer in eye contact – on a date, at the bar, when you see someone cute on the subway, at work, while listening to your friend. And if you want to use those babies to pick up someone, pretty eyelashes help pronounce your beauties. I’ve used L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Mascara since high school and refuse to use anything else. It’s seriously the best. (For blue eyes, try black/brown instead of black – it looks more natural!)

The Best Way to Use Oils

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I never understood what you were suppose to do with fragrance oils – where do you dab them? Why do you need them? Then a friend spilled her secret with them: put a little bit on your neck, a little behind your ear (and in other places if you plan on getting naked) and they work their magic. I love the magnolia scent from The Body Shop – and love that their bottles last forever because you use such a little amount each time.

Perfume for Falling in Love (Or At Least Hoping You Do!)

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Unlike my mom, I try tons of different perfumes all the time. I even mix them together to create a new scent if I’m feeling extra creative. My latest obsession is this new perfume, Philosophy’s Loveswept. It smells fresh and citrus-y, with subtle undertones.

For Covering Up Those Pesky Pimples

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If there is a concealer at Sephora, I’ve tried it. Literally anything and everything I could get my hands on, I would try to cover up all of my annoying acne that made me feel so ugly. The best concealer I’ve found – isn’t a concealer at all! It’s actually foundation from Dermablend (with 20 SPF!) and it goes a long, long way. I’ve had the same 1.0 fl. oz bottle for more than a year. No joke. Just put on a problem area, let dry and cover with powder foundation….

Foundation That Doesn’t Look or Feel Like Foundation

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I never liked mineral foundation or makeup until post-Accutane days because I never felt like it was enough coverage. Now, right before runs or heading to work, I dab the Dermablend under my eyes and smooth over with bareMINERALS Ready Foundation. It’s exactly the amount of coverage you need, but not too much.

Because Every Girl Needs Red Lips

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I’m a big believer that everyone looks great with red lipstick. It’s an everyday staple for me, and especially on dates. (I mean, just look at the top of this blog!) Dolce & Gabbana’s classic cream lipstick goes on easy, lasts forever, and is available in fun shades – including my personal favorite, “Fire.”

Say Good-Bye to Dry Skin

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The best tip my dermatologist ever gave me is always, always exfoliate (and moisturize!). This keeps your skin clean, fresh and free of bacteria. One of my favorites is from bliss - just dab on a Clarisonic (worth every penny!), all over your face (especially the t-zone) for really glowing, bright skin. It’s great to use right before you apply makeup for a date.

If You Don’t Want Wrinkles

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My mom started using anti-aging cream at 22, and I started at 21 by her recommendation. It took me a while to find a system that I really liked, and after Accutane, I realized just how much I needed a great moisturizer with SPF and collagen. I was given a Palladio Beauty set as a gift and I fell in love: I used the UV Defense Daily Moisturizer, the Revitalizing Night Repair Cream and the Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream every single day. Best part? It’s totally affordable.

Lotion That’s Not Too Much or Too Little

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It’s hard to find something in between Bath & Body Works and Cetaphil. You might want a little bit of fragrance, but not too much that it gives you a headache, right? I’m a big fan of Ahava’s Mineral Botanic Honeysuckle & Lavender Body Lotion. It’s scented just the right amount and also really hydrating for your skin.

Want to win some of these products? Here’s how: 

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

How I Met Dr. Heart

At the start of the year — yes only a few weeks ago — I made a big commitment to myself (pardon my French, mom) to cut through the bullshit of dating.

I simply had enough of the game playing. The silly rules that everyone follows, yet everyone hates. Guys who are just in it for sex (pun intended). Ones who have deep-rooted issues they can’t overcome, ones who judge my intelligence because of my little white dog. Dudes who lie and those looking for merely a caretaker or a piece on the side instead of a partner. Men with no drive, those with an ego too big to fit in the restaurant, never mind the tiny table where we sat.

No, I wasn’t trying to rush through the fun dating process or the perks of being a single girl, but I found myself not only irritated at the whole concept, but incredibly frustrated, too. And for 2013, sure I was challenging myself to say yes more, but I was also learning how to detect the pending demise of a relationship before it even became anything that resembled a courtship.

So, when I received a generic message from a handsome guy online a few days after the New  Year, I snapped back a sassy response, not expecting to hear from him again . When he replied almost instantly, addressing my “You must send this same message to dozens of women, does it ever work out for you? ” snarky remark with a handful of questions about my interests and basic NYC stats (the job, the location, the place you come from) — I took a second glance at his profile.

I responded for a while before feeling like it was too much work and put down my phone. The next day though, this guy returned to ask me for a drink. A little surprised by his diligence, I replied with a simple “Where?” and when he gave me a blanked, not specific-response of “In the city somewhere”, I became real annoyed. Surely, I knew we’d meet in the city we both lived in for a date — I mean, c’mon.

I wrote him off as someone who didn’t put in much effort or care too much about impressing me, and left him hanging without a word. I even went as far to actually tell him as much (yes, really) the following day when he asked me if I was interested. 

But of course, because I’m me and can never be as much of a badass as I actually think I am, my guilt for being rude to this probably-kind stranger, got the best of me. I wrote to him a mini-apology, explaining my turn-offs and agreed to meet him for that drink…

…which ended up being a six-hour first date. And an eight-hour date the next day. Then three more dates that week. And now he’s sitting next to me studying for an exam he’ll take on Friday, as I write this blog about him.

About the exciting new person in my life: Dr. Heart.

Heart because he’ll one day be a cardiothoracic surgeon, and because it’s his heart that makes me so attracted to him (not his messaging skills, obviously). It’s one that reminds me of my own and one that’s quickly stolen my attention.

But I almost didn’t go out with him.

I’m thankful that I did and he’s glad to know that I’m actually rather sweet in person, instead of the blunt gal I portrayed in cyber space. While I was trying to avoid another heartache or a guy who just wasn’t worth my time, I also judged someone who truly is quite wonderful based merely on how they interact on a dating website flooded with many crazies and a few goodies.

If we keep searching for the perfect how-I-met-your-father story — we miss out on a different kind of tale. It’s one that’s not tall and possibly flawed in the right places, but just as perfect as an imperfect guy. It’s one that involves dog park dates, a man who isn’t ashamed to hold my hand and does what he says he’ll do when he says he’ll do it. It’s one about a guy who likes to call you instead of texting you and sees through all of your charm to find your spirit. It’s one about a girl who, despite her past and the odds against her, somehow, in just a week or so, let herself open her heart up to someone whose whole career is about fixing that precious organ.

Only in my life that probably reads a bit like a movie at times, would I, the Love Addict, meet someone like Dr. Heart. Maybe he’s just what I was looking and hoping for. Maybe the voice telling me to go out that Friday night was meant to lead me to him. Or perhaps it was the new moon or it’s just the beginning of something that could be really amazing, and as I always do, I’m putting the carriage before the horse.

But it feels right. And actually, really, really great. Even if I had to learn a valuable lesson about snap judgments and listening to that intuition to say yes. Because yes, there are still some pretty remarkable guys left out there — if you’re willing to look past that one little thing that might not be ideal to see all the things that are.