What the World Needs

I wrote a blog for today.

It was about learning to control your imagination and not allowing it to get the best of you, the relationship you’re in or considering making official. I made analogies and edits, I crossed the t’s and dotted the I’s. I inserted links. It was what I consider a clever concoction of words and ideas and I’m sure readers and haters alike would have related.

But then WordPress goofed on me.

For whatever reason, the scheduled blog missed its automatic deadline and didn’t publish. I currently am without a phone with a higher IQ than the basic feature one, so I didn’t realize the mishap until midafternoon – maybe 20 minutes before this post goes live. I spent the morning away from the computer, sleeping in, eating breakfast in bed, and attempting to motivate myself to clean while nursing a one-too-many-Merlot haze.

However, the hours I spent enjoying the company of Mr. Possibility and his bacon-cooking skills, were interrupted by the news. I notoriously don’t watch shows or commentaries – I’m more of a reader. I digest The Times daily, subscribe to New York magazine, and my job requires me to follow business trends – which, surprisingly, have become far more interesting than I ever predicted they would. I’m fascinated by international affairs and the changing state of the world and its politics. I tend to believe we can’t all fight every single war, every injustice, or every problem – but picking one and sticking to it, would do the planet and its people a lot of good.

So today, don’t read this blog.

Put relationship troubles and worries of never finding the right guy on the back burner. Stop focusing on how to love yourself and what are the proper relationship-oriented decisions you should make to remain happy and confident. These things are important (I wouldn’t need a 12 step program, if they weren’t) – but today, take the time to catch up on the needs of the universe. Not the needs of yourself.

Love may not give back the lives of those killed in Egypt or give peace to the women raped in Libya or bring back the hundreds who lost their life in Japan’s current state of disaster. It may not save anyone from radiation, should it become a real threat. It may not stop sex trafficking from being the third most profitable illegal trade – only behind the smuggling of guns and drugs. It may not help an 11-year-old who was taken by 18 men in Texas or change the articles published placing the blame on her and posing a question of concern for the rapists’ futures. It may not turn the agendas of the media – who may be more concerned with hits and clicks – from giving way more attention to a washed-up, B-list celebrity who has abused women for decades, without anything more than a smack on the hand, followed by placing another million in his pocket.

It’s true, love doesn’t solve everything.

It doesn’t answer the questions left unruly and bitter in the hearts of those who have suffered great loss or pain. But maybe The Beatles are right – what the world needs now is, in fact, love. A love for humanity. A neighborly kind of love that looks out for the family of four next door. A love that doesn’t want something in return, but wants to give. An educated love that knows of the world outside of their zip code. A love that sees people as people, not as objects, statistics or figures, but human beings, who have the ability to love and to hate.

Go give the world what it needs: more people who care. More people who want to help someone else. More people who, regardless of what’s going on in their lives, their relationships, their homes, or their hearts – know there is always someone out there who needs love more than they do.

Blind Sighted By Me

We may be too young, too old, single, married, divorced, uninterested, obsessive, or otherwise. Yet at the core of every woman, of any background and any social standing – is this desire to be beautiful.

And not just be it, but have others notice the radiance we exude.

Surely, we tell our friends not to compare themselves to other women or to judge our own beauty by the luck of looks some seem to have. We convince ourselves that flaws are what make a person, not break them. That without imperfections, we would all be signed up for the cover of Vogue or to grace Lincoln Center’s runways. We remind ourselves that everyone is truly gorgeous in their own right, and one day, we’ll find someone who simply can’t take his eyes off of us because he is so captivated.

But it’s not easy.

I’m constantly analyzing my life and my ideas toward it – but more than that, I nit-pick the reflection I see. I see the acne. I notice the scars leftover from zits that were. I notice the slight forehead wrinkles I kindly blame on writing. I try to hide my imperfect teeth. I wish my hair would grow longer or decide to be curly or straight, not an unpredictable wavy somewhere in between. I squeeze the love handles I’ve never loved. I wonder why I can’t get rid of cellulite on the back of my thighs, even though I’ve ran nearly everyday for several years. I make a plea to make me grow just a few inches taller than my 5’4” self.

But, I remind myself I’m a pretty woman (I even have the song to keep my spirits up when they start to fall). However, believing I’m beautiful – that my appearance turns heads on the streets – is one of my greatest struggles. New York isn’t a breeding ground for beauty; there are knock-outs everywhere – but  I always find myself encountering women I don’t feel I measure up to. By the standard of attractiveness, anyways.

Not to mention, in my overly idealist notions about how a man should feel about me, view me, and speak to me, I’ve always thought any guy I would end up with or date seriously would have to find me absolutely beautiful. If not, why would he be with me? Doesn’t a man want to end up with the most attractive woman he’s ever met?

Not necessarily.

A while ago, after an intense and passionate romp with a man I loved, I laid wrapped up in our joint perspiration and the simple silence that follows ecstasy. He grazed and kissed the top of my head and the ends of my fingertips as he asked, “You know what I love the most about you?” Dazed but far from confused, I mumbled to him in a state between warmth and sleep. He whispered: “I love that I don’t have to look at you to know you’re beautiful.”

In that moment, his sentiments matched the energy I was emerged in, and I didn’t question how he arrived at this perspective toward me. However, my inquiring mind asked him the next morning, over omelets and orange juice, what he meant.

“Well, Linds. I’ll be honest with you. When I first met you, I didn’t find you that attractive. Not that you weren’t pretty, just not the typical girl I go after. Just by your looks on that day, I wouldn’t have approached you at a bar. It wasn’t love at first sight, or even lust. But what I love about you is that I fell for you – what you say, who you are, what you write. And the longer I’ve known you, the more gorgeous you’ve become. I don’t know how we got here, but we wouldn’t have without you, just being you. Has nothing to do with your body, your eyes, or anything. It’s just you.”

At first, I was highly offended that he didn’t find me outlandishly breathtaking. In remembering the way we met – something right out of a movie – I thought I was looking quite alluring. I even recalled the tight summer dress and heels I picked out that day. But no, he wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t believe that this man I was dating, who I had shared my most intimate self with, didn’t view me lovely from second one.

And then, I thought about it. It’s actually quite the compliment. Without peering at a face of perfection or a body that’s free of lumps – he saw through to the real me. To the me that no one knows when they first meet me, see a picture, or catch my eye. To a me that acts without hesitation, that displays my everything, without making excuses. He wasn’t blinded by my beauty, but blind sighted by me.

So maybe the trick to feeling beautiful is not putting on more makeup or telling yourself you are lovely, no matter the off-the-charts women you cross. But rather, reminding yourself of those things that make you, you. And not physical characteristics, but character traits. Maybe it’s silly to stand in front of a mirror and say, “You’re funny. Really. I mean, people are always laughing around you” or “You give so much to everyone and they do appreciate it. Your charm is not something someone can describe,” – but think about the smile that’ll rise inside of you to admit your positives.

Perhaps beautiful isn’t so much an adjective as it is a state of mind or a place of acceptance. Maybe it is a destination. To be beautiful, to really feel every affirmative connation that comes with the word – you have to internalize it. Without a man, without reassurance from others, without strangers drooling over you, without comparing yourself to every woman you meet.

And especially, without your eyes open.

PS: Jennifer from Cincinnati, OH completed Love Addict’s survey and won a fabulous glass from Lolita and perfume set fromPacifica. Love Addict will be doing another giveaway soon, so make sure to take the survey for your chance to win! Congrats Jen and thanks for reading!

The He’s & the She’s of Me

He is the one who showed me what it felt like to make love like a woman. She convinced me that I could, in fact, make a living as a writer. He made me believe that love is never quite what you expect. She introduced me to the miracle that is the Miracle Bra. He made me addicted to sushi. She taught me  to be a best friend, sometimes the best remedy for anything is a little wine and a hell of a lot of nodding along. He showed me everything I never wanted in anyone and how to walk toward something that’s might be worth the risk. She gave me the friendship ring that would remain in each and every jewelry box I’ve ever owned. He opened my eyes and my heart to the exhilaration that comes from liberating yourself from self-imposed rules. She held me steady and made me exhale with a single text message thousands of a miles away.

People have entered my life in a variety of fashions – through a friend, through a class, through a shared interest, through a job interview, through a blog post, through an affinity for Mac Viva Glam #5 lipstick, and even through public transportation. The ways the faces of the he’s and the she’s cycle through my life, some staying longer than others, seems magically planned by a divinity that I can never entertain. By a force, that no matter how I may try, I can never reckon with.

If you ask your mother or your best friend who both try to say the right thing at the right time – they’ll tell you that people come into your life to teach you something and that the higher power of your own belief gives you what you need, no necessarily what you want. And if your fate director is anything like mine, my life always has playful and unexpected turns that makes every experience unpredictable.

Last night, New York was radiating in 50 degree weather, making my blazer, jeans, and high heel trio a hit on the streets. Between the blinking buildings and the waves of sidewalk congestion, an encouraging wind made its way to me. And in a language that only someone who loves the city as much as I do can understand, something spoke to me. It went straight to my core, dismissing any chills, barriers, or worries and it promised me that I’m always exactly where I’m meant to be…

…with whoever I’m meant to be with or without.

Time, sweet, time has a funny little rhyme about it, but I’ve somehow managed to always have exactly who I need, exactly when I needed them the most. Even if at the moment we met, became friends, fell into bed, or had our first date, we couldn’t understand why in the world we came to be whatever we were.

Sometimes that second chance I would have done anything to be given comes in the form of a person I didn’t initially desire or in an opportunity I would have missed if the someone I wanted back, didn’t leave. Those prayers that I brought me to my knees over and over again, desperately needing a solution to the trouble brewing in parts I didn’t know could feel pain – turned out to be best left unanswered. The partners in crime growing up that I surely couldn’t imagine myself without, have become strangers whose name only pops up on Facebook occasionally – but I don’t mind. The miles that seemed to separate me from where I was and where I knew I belonged disappeared in an hour-and-half plane ride that was delayed two hours. Those dreams I dreamed, those men I melted into, those friends who knew my deep dark secrets, those days where the second-hand couldn’t have gone slower, turned into memories signaled by simple reminders in uncommonly common places.

But the trick of it all is to take people for who they are. To realize that only one man will be meant forever, the rest are merely chapters and courses to pass before the final exam. To know that the person who knew you best five years ago, most likely won’t be the same lady who plays the part of best friend in a decade. To be able to see when a relationship, a friendship, or something undefined has run its course, or maybe, is finally getting the fresh start it needs.

To know that time and space, miles and hours are sometimes temporary and sometimes forever. To remind yourself that while your heart wonders if you’ll feel that thing again, if history is an indicator of anything, you know you will. To accept that not everyone will give you what you need or be able to give you what you want – but the good ones, those worth the trials and the work, will do what they can to make you happy. To let people go when they want to leave and fight for the ones you know you’d regret to see walk away. But if they do anyways, rest assured someone else will eventually fill the shoes and perhaps be even better suited to you.

Without certain interactions, each relationship, or the phone calls that lasted for hours, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. People may try to break you, but in so many ways, they make you. Some I may never see again and a few I may be lucky enough to know a lifetime, but regardless, I’m glad to have met them and I thank them for molding me into the woman I am. While I’m not sure if life is a series of fleeting images and experiences that become part of my past faster than they were part of my present – I do know all of the people I’ve met are the he’s and the she’s of me.

A Choice Just For Me

I recently attended my first talk show as an audience member. Going to live or pre-filmed shows has always seemed like the New York tourist experience to me – something you do when you’re staying at the Mariott and you rise at an unreasonable 3 a.m. hour to wait in the cold (or hummidity or rain) just to catch a glimpse of Regis & Kelly. I’m also not the biggest fan of television in general – I don’t have cable and I only use Hulu for a handful of sitcoms.

But when your company offers you the chance to leave the office for four hours, take away an armful of freebies, and have the chance to meet (or view from afar) a celebrity – I thought, why not? Due to privacy restrictions, I can’t reveal which show I attended, but it was geared toward cooking and the host was quite the villain in the kitchen.

Before being seated and organized in the rows based on the color of our clothes, audience members completed forms asking basic information. With my blue blouse I prayed would pop on camera and my pencil skirt, I attempted to fill out the yellow sheets across my hosed-legs. (For the record, without a clipboard, this is a task in itself.)

As I’m going through the questionnaire, I happily check “single,” give my email address, let them know how often I view the show (never, woops!), and how many people are in my household – one of their inquiries caught my interest.

In your home, who decides ‘what’s for dinner’?

Now, I realize when a brand and a show is built by developing the quality of life inside the home, this is an appropriate question to ask. It’ll let those who finance and develop new products determine if me, the ever-clapping, cheerful audience member, not only cooks for her family, but has one stiletto forcefully over her (and whoever she resides with) wallet.

As I confessed I was the one who decides what I place in my stomach each and every night, it occurred to me how many simple, unimportant decisions I make every day as a single woman. These choices do not initially shape my immediate future and in the grand scheme of my life, I’ll probably forget tens of thousands of the day-to-day decisions I arrive at. From what time I set my alarm and if I actually listen to its obnoxious tune, to what I buy at the corner market and how I manage my money- I shape my life, and everything in it, primarily considering myself and my future.

And one day, whenever I enter into a relationship – and most likely, marriage at some point – all of these simple actions, these considerations that don’t actually seem like concerns at the time – will stop being so me-focused, and more we-geared. Though at times I may desire a relationship, the thought of losing such an innocent independence and having to interject another person’s tastes and desires into each step I take – sounds exhausting.

When we’re in a relationship, when we fall in love, when we seek to find a suitable suitor – must we leave our independence on the table to cook up a couple?

I’ve been in a slew of wonderful and incredibly confusing relationships – some of which I left and others that ended much earlier than I hoped they would – but through them all, there’s been a trending complaint of each man: You just don’t need me enough. You don’t need me, you’ll go on to do these things you want and you’ll forget about me.

I think one guy even warned me I’d become cold, bitter, and heartless when I moved to New York. I think sometimes natives would prefer me to take on those qualities – but I doubt my Southern graces will ever allow hopefulness to completely leave my core fundamentals.

Nevertheless – when it comes to my hesitation to give away my single standards, is it because I’m afraid to give my heart away or to lose the independence I often take for granted? Is it because sometimes my jealousy and my lust outweigh my drive and the courage it takes to say when enough, is enough? Or is it because I see and know so many women who stop needing themselves, stop making an effort to have alone time, or to focus on their own self-growth, the second a man enters into their life? Without a doubt, I’ve made a dude the center of my universe before – but it isn’t a mistake I’d like to make again.

I’m not sure if a relationship can be defined as successful – if so, how would we measure it? By the number of children it produces? How long it lasts? How you come out of the hard times and celebrate those moments you know you’ll never find again? I can’t say what I think makes a relationship worth the trouble or worth the potential pain at the breaking point – but I do know that a relationship is one institution – where it be fireworks set a blaze or not – that needs compromise. And more so – it needs more than one person deciding how the course is run. Or how dinner is made. Or how much effort, understanding, compassion, and passion is needed to make the relations continue to be relatable.

A lot of times, the moment a relationship ends or fails or doesn’t last – it’s because one of the pair, lost themselves along the way. They stopped developing and entertaining those things, those beautifully unique interests and qualities that while they may attract the other person, they don’t belong to them.  Those independent and true-to-self notions belong to you. To me. To every single woman who after watching Runaway Bride decided she needed to know what kind of eggs she likes, without the advice of her man’s tastebuds.

The choices I make today are choices just for me. My daily schedule, my intake and my outake, the trains I board and the ones I depart, the runs I make a mile longer just because, and the extra hours I put into work because I can – are all decisions I’m allowed to be selfish about. All determinations I’m entitled to make. And for now, I chose to be single. I choose to never let any man – or person – dictate my everything, anymore. Even if he thinks that makes me undateable because I don’t seem to need him. Maybe he’s right, but I’d rather have a partner who values my love for him, my desire for his presence in my life, then my inability to function without him.

And one who appreciates that what’s for dinner isn’t nearly as important as what’s cooking not only in our kitchen, but in the food from our individual souls that we both bring to the table.

How Sweet It Is

After my company put on an event giving entrepreneurs opportunities to grow global, J and I headed to a wine store two blocks over to find some international Merlot-inspired strategies of our own.

As we listened to the sommelier, in his terribly cliché French accent, black-rimmed glasses, and v-neck cardigan explain to us the history of vineyards in lands we’ve never heard of, J and I shared a knowing smile that though we may never be well-versed in the language of vino, we can at the very least, pretend. Once we decided on a 2006 edition of something “surprisingly infused with cherry and lime in an exquisite fashion“, we stood waiting at gift wrap. Easily distracted by decorations, a smile curved its way across J’s chiseled chin and he said, “Give your sweetie a treatie!” and nodded toward a leftover Valentine’s Day sign.

Still dressed in my pencil skirt and white-billowing blouse, I tousled my hair seductively and sarcastically and asked, “What treat will you be buying me then, J?” Unable to hide the half-British, half-New York accent he pulls off so well, he quickly responded, “You’re not my sweetie, darling.”

Without missing a beat, I rose to my tiptoes (even in my four-inch Carlos), and beamed: “I’m not anyone’s sweetie!” Confused, J raised an eyebrow at me, shook his head probably thinking “silly American” and looked back to his iPhone. As he fervently put the touch-screen to the test, I glanced back at the sign and stole away a smile, just for me. And I remembered.

In college, when I felt stranded by the mountains that encircled the campus and the snow would fall taller than the top of my highest boots -I would lay on my couch, afghan carelessly laying across me and just stare out the window. I would imagine the two arms I wanted – I needed – so badly to keep me warm. To make me feel like I wasn’t alone. To wrap their body so tightly around me that I would never doubt that love, no matter how difficult or seemingly unattainable, was possible for someone like me. Someone who had yet to feel successful in any relationship or love she’d found thus far.

That longing, that thirst – carried its way to New York when I first moved – especially since my mother’s prophecy that I’d meet the man I’d marry the second I took my first step at JFK. While my career aspirations had gone as planned, the romantic component of my city fairytale didn’t resemble Cinderella in any way. Well, except maybe for the shoes.

For the longest time, regardless of where I was, who I was or was not with, or what was changing or remaining stagnant in my life – I hungered for a man. For a magical person who would take away that sting, that fear, that something that brought me so much trouble, so much physically emotional emptiness. For someone to be more than something – but everything to me. If they could take away any insecurity about my future – romantically inclined and all else – then I need not worry about it. If I had them, didn’t I have everything I would ever need?

But now, instead of looking for a sweetie to give me treatie – I’d rather have a sweetie who is my treatie. Not the my full source of healthiness or my daily dose that keeps me going or the main ingredient of my internal caloric intake – but just a special something I treat myself to. The icing on the cake, but not the concoction it took to make the dough rise. One of the sweeter parts of my afternoon, but not the thing that’ll make or break my day, my diet, or my spirit.

Isn’t that how a relationship should be, anyways? Isn’t that why we all see love as this incredibly desirable and often indescribable feeling (or choice, depending on what you believe) that brings this added glow, sweetness to our lives? Wouldn’t that passion, that certain comfort, that something incredibly beautiful, be best as something we look forward to? Instead of something that we’ve gotta have to survive?

Doesn’t a treat taste the best when we save it for something special? Or should I say someone special? And while that added spice or sugary-goodness that may or may not be good for us will be an added pleasure in our life – we have to also know the sweetest love of all is the one we’ve already found by mixing the right ingredients together to make us the irresistible women we are.

All of this time, all of those countless cold nights I spent wrapped up in an idea of what a leading man would be. All of those tears wasted on those who never deserved my attention in the first place. All of the worries about a love I was terrified I’d never find. All of those strolls through the city that never lets me down and all of the pages of any and every diary I’ve ever owned, going on-and-on about this singular thing, singular stranger, who would take away that appetite for what I thought was the miracle nourishment to make my every ache and pain a distant memory. All of this time wishing I was someone’s honey, someone’s escape as much as they were mine. All of this time I have been forgetting the simplest thing of all that never fails to hit the right spot at the right time. Even in the middle of an overpriced wine store in Chelsea:

How sweet it is to be loved…by me.

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