What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Let’s get this out of the way, Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday that we give so much power to, yet we’re all ok on February 15 whether we got a box of chocolates or a dozen roses or nothing at all.  The sun still rises and our lives go on.  Believe me, BELIEVE me, there have been times in my life where I was sad not to have a Valentine.  Let’s say for about 36 years I never had one, but I was ok.  I had the love of friends and when I became an adult I had the love of red wine.  Now I’m a married man and EVERYTHING has changed…..or not much at all.  I’m at home, alone, writing this blog.  My husband and I live in two different cities so being together is not possible.  And honestly, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day much anyway because, remember, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow whether you have that dozen roses or not.  Just go get a glass of wine and sit back to read my blog.

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Like I said, for about 36 years I never had a Valentine and I dealt with it and I was fine.  Of course I wanted the chocolates and the roses and all of that.  I did.  Society has told me over the years that I need that to make myself whole, but in reality, I do not.  Then at age 37 I got them.  It was great.  I was excited.  I was fulfilled and everything was just perfect.  Then three months later my heart was broken and I was devastated as evidenced in my blog post “For Now”.  Then for the next year I did some really hard personal work.  I survived my next Valentine’s Day while dating a new guy, then a few weeks later that ended.  Was it wonderful to have these Valentines flowers and candies and candles?  Of course it was but what I learned was that someone can give you all that stuff and not truly love you and so then, what does it matter?

“Didn’t see it coming.  No kind of warning.  I can’t work out what I’ve done wrong.  His clothes are missing.  But his keys still here.  Please somebody tell me whats going on.”

I recently heard the song “Suitcase” by Emeli Sandé which was in heavy rotation the summer of 2013.  I had such a broken heart and I did everything possible not to be alone, ever. After work I would go to yoga practice two classes in a row and come home and go straight to bed.  But what saved me from myself were friends.  Friends are really incredible people.  No matter what, they love you.  Friends are there to go to dinner and talk and hate on the ex and just be there with you.  I have so many friends who helped pull me through.  I also did so much for myself like yoga and meditation and blogging and finding the little things in each day that made me happy with #100happydays.  I found the joy in a fresh, ripe avocado.  I found the joy in friendship.  I found the joy, as hard as it was, in being on my own.  Although I had lived so many years single, the year I spent in between my heartache and finding the love of my life was really hard.  I had a taste of what I longed for for so long, not being alone.  But in reality, what I know for sure, is that whether I’m alone or with someone, I’m going to be ok.

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The reality is that we all want to be loved by that special person.  We learn about it and see it growing up and we long for it as adults.  BUT, “somebody” can be family, friends, or YOURSELF, too!  How wonderful it is to find the love of yourself?  Let me tell you after a year of really hard personal work, it is wonderful.  Had I not done the hard, personal work after being dumped and having a broken heart, I would not have been ready to find the love I have with my husband now.

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“Even when the dark comes crashing through.  When you need a friend to carry you.
When you’re broken on the ground.  You will be found.”

Dear Evan Hansen the Tony Award winning Broadway sensation has a song “You Will Be Found” with the lyrics above.  What I can tell you about Valentine’s Days past and love and friendship is that you will be found because your friends will never let you crash down without picking you up and dusting you off and pushing you out there into life to live again.  Check out my post called “Waving Through A Window” and you will read about the joy that love has brought me.  However, had it not been for the love of friends and family, and a lot of personal work “Single Season” I would not have been ready for the love of my life.

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So whether you are single or partnered on this Valentine’s Day, find the joy in your life.  Look for the simple things that make you smile.  Look for your family and friends.  Look for the wine!  Whether you are alone or with someone right now, I can tell you that loving your life and taking a deep breath and just embracing it all is what you can do today.  And to all of you Valentine-less people out there, enjoy it.  You get to do what you want, when you want, and how you want.  There is something beautiful about that.

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Seasons Change 2

Oh my goodness, it has been two months since I last wrote and I’ve missed writing. Just a few days ago I was remembering one of my favorite blog posts from last year, Seasons Change, and it made me want to write.  Luckily I have today off.  As my Jewish friends celebrate Yom Kippur, I took the opportunity to run 20 miles for #marinecorp #marathon #training and to write a new blog post. It’s the first day of fall, so here we are again as seasons change. I got back to yoga last night too after three months off. It was so wonderful to find my mat once again. It’s that time of year to reflect and think about where you are in life and where you have come from.  It’s also that time of year that you start putting #pumpkinspice #psl in your coffee and of course, start wearing your scarves again.

As I reread my blog Seasons Change from last year I was reminded of where I was then and even the year before that. Now September 2015 I’m in a very different place once again. I think we have to always keep in mind that years go by fast, days go by fast and things change. Over the past year my boyfriend and I have moved into a new apartment in Chicago. He still has his place in Cleveland and we’re still traveling back and forth. #stopasking who is moving, we are doing just fine like it is, thank you! Sidenote: Tyra Banks has a new talkshow and they were discussing this new hashtag, #stopasking, for people who are tired of other people nosing into their life and asking, “When are you having a baby?” “When are you moving in together?” “When are you getting married.” But I get it, that it comes from a positive and a well intended place. I’ll let you know when it happens, but for now #stopasking. I digress, it really is amazing to me that another year has gone by. I’m happy in my life and I find joy in the things I can do, the people I can share my time with, and the love I can share with my love.

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Sitting here right now, I have my coffee with #pumpkinspice creamer in it and I’m looking outside at the wind move the tree branches and I’m completely ok, right now. A couple of years ago and even some last year, I struggled with being alone. I did not want to spend time by myself at all and I made sure that I was constantly busy. Recently I’ve noticed that I reserve a night or two to be home by myself. Is it that I’m in a relationship and therefore my mind allows me to be content staying home? Is it that I’m old and exhausted and need to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. in order to survive? What is it? For me, as I’ve reflected on this feeling, I know that when I was newly single and in the throes of emotion and last year when I had just gotten into a new relationship, my mind struggled with “alone time” as if it was the devil. What I know now is that I can be and am happy to be home alone some of the time. Now, my type of personality only needs a couple of hours a week by myself but I’m ok taking that time. Two years ago, forget about it, I would have been in a complete state of anxiety. So is it that my mind allows a sense of contentment when it’s satisfied with it’s life? What I hope I take from this recent reflection is that, I’m ok alone. I hope I don’t, but should I find myself alone again, I will fight my mind telling me I’m not ok alone. I will fight it because I know that I am ok and I can be happy at home on a Tuesday night. Alone time, happiness, pumpkin spice, happiness, whatever the case, alone, I’m ok.

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Where do we go from here? One of the reasons I started this blog was to remark on my choice to “say yes to life” and experience the fun and joy that surrounds all of us, if we allow ourselves to “say yes.” In a few short weeks I will be running my fifth marathon, the Marine Corp in DC. #districtofcolumbia My body has been sort of a mess this training season. I’ve had a hamstring strain, soreness in my calves, the constant battle with my glute med, and the list goes on. My pace time has decreased majorly from the previous two seasons, but I’m still out there. I still ran my 20 mile training run today. I am still saying YES to Life and looking forward to running in DC. I hear it is a very cool race as we run all through the monuments and such. Maybe I can give a shout out to SCOTUS and the #lovewins ruling and get a “holla” from #rbg. That would be cool. Who knows how long this body can continue with these 26.2 mile races, but at least for now, I look forward to this next race.

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So here we are again, it’s fall and the season is changing. I think just for fun and putting life in our years, we should all get a sassy new bob and a smokey eye and run through the streets as the leaves fall to the sidewalk.

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Ok fine, that is television’s way of looking at fall, but for me, well, I’m going to haul out my scarves of many colors and start tszujing them around my neck until they are perfect. I’m going to run this fifth marathon and enjoy it. Of course I’m going to enjoy some #pumpkinspice #psl And most of all, I’m going to enjoy the time I spend with those I love and more conversations like this:

Conversation about the Bible with Sarah over dinner while Patrick shook his head figuring out the bill:
Sarah: Aren’t there animals in the Bible?
Matt: yeah isn’t there a horse/man?
S: Patrick is there a horseman?
M: Oh, the hyenas…no that’s the Lion King.
S: No that’s the Lion King, you’re confusing your stories. Patrick is there a horseman?
M: Flotsam and Jetsam….no that’s the Little Mermaid.
S: Who are the three singing ladies?
M: That’s the Mandrell Sisters!
*laughter and snorting*
S: Who sings to Baby Jesus?
M: Joanne!!

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Thank you for being a friend!

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WOW-it’s been a year since I started my blog, Say Yes To Life!  I really can’t believe that 365+ days have gone by and what a difference 365 days have made in my life. A year ago I was definitely starting to hit my stride again after a very difficult year. I was also about to meet someone who would change my life. What it all comes down to for me, is friendship. The way I got out of the darkness of loss is because of friends. The reason I started this blog is because of friends. The reason I met my love is because of friends. Friendships ebb and flow, but the real ones last forever.

I was recently in London and saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  

I didn’t know much about Carole King except that she has written a ton of songs and people love her.  My boyfriend and I went to the show without much expectation.  It did win the star a Tony Award in the USA and the equivalent award in England was recently won by it’s “Carole”.  After two hours I walked away having a greater sense of the massive amounts of hit songs Carole King wrote AND tear filled eyes.  My boyfriend and I were standing on the corner of the street and I just started to sob.  What moved me more than anything in the show was the power of friendship.  Carole King and her husband were a writing team.  Next door in the same music executive office was another writing team, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. This foursome became such amazing friends, which was reflected in the show. Everything about how they met and became friends and supported each other through life’s ups and downs, even though they were competing to get their songs picked up by the record company, was beautiful.  I started to sob because I am so fortunate to have so many friends from over the years who have supported me in big and small ways.  Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil represent the good and bad, happy and sad times in life that all need support.  Friendship is about supporting each other and looking out for one another and truly, moving through life, together. The minute I left the theatre I knew I would write a blog about my friendships and what they mean to me. So here it is….

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Friendship is about time.  We are all so busy.  No matter if your busy is picking the kids up after work and feeding them and putting them to bed or going to yoga, then dinner with friends, everyone is busy with their life.  I am so fortunate to have friends who reach out and say, “Hey, let’s grab dinner. Let’s grab drinks.” Just last night I had dinner with a couple of my running friends.  We haven’t seen each other in months, but it was great to catch up.  Tonight I had a couple beers with a friend of 15 years.  We met at a bar that we used to frequent back in our early teaching days.  We both commented that, “it still smells the same it did in 2001.” Though I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like and our times aren’t as crazy as they used to be, we can always pick up where we left off. The point is, you have to make the effort to keep friendships going because when life is going well and you are “busy”, it can get away from you.

The reason this blog, SAY YES TO LIFE! started is because a high school friend I hadn’t seen since June 1995 reached out on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m going to be in Chicago, I love your #100Happydays posts, and we should get a glass of wine.” We did and that hour of my life changed my life.  She truly inspired me to share my story and share my life.  What that meant a year ago was to share the pain of the previous year(completely cathartic).  Now it means sharing what I’ve learned about life, by SAYing YES TO LIFE! And where I got the name of the blog was because a friend said, “I can’t believe you are going to meet up with Dana.”  I said, “I’m saying yes to life!” Dana gave me her time, which was a true gift to me. I’m forever grateful

As I mentioned above, tonight I grabbed beers with my friend Amanda.  I posted on Facebook that we were at our old watering hole reminiscing about 2001.  Since I have been writing, the amount of “likes” on that post keeps going up and up from all of our old teaching friends.  Many of those people I haven’t seen in years, but we shared something so special back then. We were all under 30 or right around there. We were all single. We were all fun people and boy did we have fun. What I have learned in life is that things change. No matter how hard you try to not let the changes happen, they do. However, what I can do is go back in my memory bank and remember those amazing, great times. What matters is that we all gave each other our time. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone.  Time. Time is precious and now knowing how life gets so “busy” I truly value the time that my friends give me.  Whether we are making dinner and drinking wine, crying on the phone over boys, laughing on Divvy bikes, dancing our fool heads off, or just chilling, we are giving one another time and that is valuable. Things can change at a moment’s notice, we all know too well, so give time to your friends.  It’s really important.

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Friendship is also about drinking. Face it, this is the truth! There have been different times in the last few years that I have tried to give up alcohol for a month, six weeks, whatever.  What I have noticed is that I like to drink.  I’ve also noticed that my friends are lushes too.  So that is important!  Ha, well, what it has shown me is that a lot of the time I spend with friends being social is centered around food and drinking.  You know what?  I’m ok with that. I should also note that my drinking has evolved over the years.  Back in 2000 when I moved to Chicago it was Captain and Coke.  Good God, if I even smell that these days I gag. I was also typically around a Flip Cup table.  Now I am a refined drinker of rosé, or as it should be called, “Summer Water.”  I like to do this on someone’s deck or on a patio in the summer. If drinking brings me together with my friends, so be it.  What is important, again, is that we are spending time together, the true gift in life.

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Friendship is about taking their hand, walking with them side by side, and letting them know that it is going to be ok. There are so many different times in life that are dark.  Breakups, death, loss…. When I was in that dark place, I had friends who would be with me in a moment’s notice, who would cook dinner, who would be there to take my call in the morning and at night and at noon and at….you get the point.  I had friends who would get drinks with me just so I didn’t have to be alone.  I’m forever grateful for all of my friends who took time out of their busy life to walk by my side and let me know that I would be ok.  I am ok. I’m SO ok now and a much better person because of the struggle. But the best thing that came of that darkness is that I was able to spend time with some amazing people in my life. Look, we’re all trying to make it through this life day by day. Some days are better than others, but I truly believe that friendships help us in those dark times but also in the good times to remind us always that we have a really damn good life. Be a good friend and notice when someone needs you.  Whether it is a shoulder to cry on or a drinking buddy they need, be there, by their side.

From a blog, Positive Outlooks Blog, I follow:

Life is not a race-but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say “thank you”. “I love you”, and “great job” to someone each day. Take time for prayer. Be thankful. Love your life and what you’ve been given, it is not accidental. Search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself. Plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you’ve been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment. — Bonnie Mohr

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So to all of my friends, THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND. It’s no secret that gay men and single women often talk about having a “Golden Girls” house when we get older. I mean, we’re going to have to take care of each other, right? Each group of friends has a Rose and a Blanche, a Dorothy and a Sophia.  We all have a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte too. Friendship is special. Friendships evolve over time.  Some are more significant than others and some last longer than others too. What I think is special is that people come into our lives for different reasons and for different lengths of time. But the most significant thing is to realize how each person who has crossed your life, from your first friend at age three to your most recent friend, has impacted you. How have they shared their time with you? How have you shared your time with them. Tomorrow you might not wake up or your friend might not come home from work again. Take the time to reach out and show the love you have for your friends. Spend time with those people who make you happy and who help to make you a better person. Spend your precious time smiling and laughing and enjoying good food and drinks. Life is short so get out there and enjoy it. Life is also beautiful when you stop for a moment and enjoy your friendships.

Tightrope

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Kelly Clarkson released her 7th studio album on Tuesday.  No one loves it and no one hates it. At best, all the reviews are mixed.  As a fan, and a lover of connecting to lyrics, I love it. Kelly doesn’t shy away from expressing her emotions, one of the things I love most about her. It might not be the most personal effort to date for Kelly, but it stays true to what she has always been to me, a fighter, a truth speaker, a feeler of emotion, and a powerhouse singer.  I love Kelly and I love this album.

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Upon first listen, besides the lead off single “Heartbeat Song”, the stand outs were, “Someone”, “Run Run Run” a duet with right now piano man John Legend, “Dance With Me” and “Let Your Tears Fall.”  Then I was driving home yesterday from work and I heard “Good Goes the Bye” and was immediately connected to it.

It’s like we pulled the pin out of a grenade
It just didn’t go off right away
But man did it go off when it finally did
Everything’s suddenly magnified
It’s loud and it’s quiet at the same time
As the echo of it’s all over sets in

The bridge of the song hits you right in the gut.  Anyone who has ever gone through a hard breakup, knowing in your heart that being “friends” is a dumb idea and next to impossible, you think about it and think it is possible because you want nothing more than to be connected to that person in anyway possible.  Then you eventually realize, it’s not a good idea.  You weren’t friends before you dated, so why be friends once it’s over? There is a reason it is over. It’s a gut punch, but you eventually realize it’s for the best.

I can’t go back, we can’t be friends
And we can’t be what we were then
You can’t be mine, and I can’t be yours
And it’s not love anymore

The final blow comes when Kelly gets to the third singing of the chorus. She comes in with backing vocals repeating each line in her upper register.

Slam goes the door
Hush goes the phone
Out goes the flame
And I’m standing here alone
Burn goes the drink
Down go the tears
Drip goes the sink
And I’m missing you like hell
Break goes the heart
Wrong goes the right

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I suppose there isn’t anything extraordinary about he melody of this song, but it is sort of catchy.  What gets to me, always with a song, are the lyrics, especially when I can relate.  I just love “Good Goes the Bye”.  How many times have you been at that point of a relationship ending and the “hush” of the phone is almost unbearable. “Out goes the flame/and I’m standing here alone/burn goes the drink/down go the tears” are some of the most relatable lyrics.  We’ve probably all been there and “break goes the heart” but I hope those of us who have been, can stand on the other side and say, it was for the best.  “Wrong goes the right/Goodbye.”

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I posted on Facebook my favorite songs and wondered what my friends thought.  “Tightrope” was definitely a crowd pleaser. This morning on my way to work I made sure to take a closer listen.  It struck me with the chorus.

And I ain’t seen nothin’ like you
The way you light up every room tonight
So easily
And I have moved mountains, babe
Just a stumble and too long a grace
And I, I still can’t compete

What is this song about?  To me, it’s about putting people up on a pedestal. It could be the person you are in a romantic relationship with, or a family member, or even a celebrity.  Why do we feel less than, then put others above us?  In my past relationship why did I put my ex on a pedestal?  At the time I thought he was everything and I would have done anything not to rock the boat for fear he would end our relationship.  Why do we do this to ourselves in relationships? Back then I was suffocated by wanting a relationship to work so badly with a guy I put up on this pedestal. I wouldn’t bring up wanting more out of our relationship because I feared his reaction.  After months of dating I wouldn’t say “I love you” for fear he would freak and end things. Ultimately, I couldn’t be my full self because I worried this person I put on a pedestal would reject me and our relationship.  Well, he did that anyway, and thank god! I have learned SO much about myself, what I am worth, and that that cannot be compromised in a relationship if we want to continue to grow. I could never have grown in that past relationship.  No one deserves to be on a pedestal.

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Now the rich and famous….famous for what? Why do we put Jennifer Lopez on a pedestal of celebrities?  She can’t sing, can barely dance, and act….you saw Gigli. So what is Jennifer Lopez besides a beautiful 40 something woman? At least Angelina Jolie is adopting the world.  Kelly’s song “Tightrope” made me think, Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we place people on pedestals to stand above us? We should all stand together, not above or below. Jennifer Lopez is beautiful, but what else? In a relationship no partner should be placed above another, ever.  The only way to grow as a partnership and love each other is to be side-by-side, together.

Which brings me to “Heartbeat Song” the lead single off Kelly’s new album, Piece By Piece. This is a pop romp!

You, where the hell did you come from?
You’re a different, different kind of fun
And I’m so used to feeling numb
Now, I got pins and needles on my tongue
Anticipating what’s to come

“You, where the hell did you come from?” The night I met my boyfriend wasn’t just any night, it was the 4th of July, but ok, otherwise, it was a night out with friends. The age old saying goes, “You’ll find him when you aren’t looking.” Oh you can all go fuck yourselves with that saying. And while you’re at it, take with you, “Have fun with it,” in reference to dating. Dating isn’t fun and when you’re single, who isn’t looking? Yet……”You, where the hell did you come from?” On that Friday night I was briefly introduced to this really good looking, smart, well dressed man in pink shorts, who bought me a drink. He gave me his phone number and told me he’d be in town the rest of the weekend. Still under dispute is the question of who pursued who. He gave me his number and bought me a drink, and this is my blog, HE pursued ME!

The rest is really history.  It’s been a “Heartbeat Song” since July 4th! 🙂

Until tonight I only dreamed about you
I can’t believe I ever breathed without you
Baby, you make me feel alive and brand new
Bring it one more time, one more time

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What I can say now, that I couldn’t say two years ago, is that being in a mutually fulfilling relationship makes all the difference.  I love my boyfriend more than anything and we grow every time we’re together.  There are so many “Heartbeat Song” moments I can’t name them.  He’s funny and sassy and classy and loving and generous and loves me for who I am, flaws and all.  He’s not on a pedestal(as he read this I know he shouted, “I’M NOT?”) and neither am I.  We have “opportunities to grow” and we do. We work together to understand each other. I can be who I am, good times and not such good times(I guess even I get moody too) but there is never this fear that I can’t be who I am or he won’t love me. What I’m saying is, trust yourself, value yourself, believe in your worth, and you too will find a guy who will give you a “Heartbeat Song” all the time.

This is my heartbeat song and I’m gonna play it
Been so long I forgot how to turn it up up up up all night long
Oh up up all night long
This is my heartbeat song and I’m gonna play it
Turned it on
But I know you can take it up up up up all night long
Oh up up all night long

You Are Not Alone

I was recently in a training and I have no idea why, but the phrase You Are Not Alone came to mind.  It’s a mystery where this came from.  You might instantly think about the Michael Jackson song from HIStory or that creepy video with then wife, Lisa Marie Presley.  Or more seriously, you might think about times you are alone or feel alone.  Feeling alone, loneliness, are they the same?  Different?  I myself am someone who needs very little alone time.  An hour or two a week is fine by me.  I don’t often feel the need of taking a break from others.  This might be why, during a break-up, I felt so lonely.  Or did I feel alone?  What I did then for myself and what I see now, well over a year later, is that we are never alone.  You Are NOT Alone.

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By the encouragement of my friend Jeremy, during the summer of 2013, I started taking myself to brunch after Saturday morning long runs.  This turned into an almost weekly venture during last year’s horrendous winter.  During those times, going home and being at home was not a happy place for me.  I did not want to be there, so I would take my Entertainment Weekly magazine to one of my favorite brunch spots, typically Taste of Heaven or Nookies, and I would boldly say, “Table for one” or “Just me today” and I would sit, by myself.  However, I was never alone.  I had my magazine and my coffee, things that bring happiness to me.  I had the wait staff who grew to recognize me.  One time my waiter even bought me breakfast.  Taste of Heaven became my place, “where everybody knows your name.”  Most of all, I had all the other people in the restaurant with me.  Some would be laughing with friends and others, like me, were simply enjoying something they loved: food, coffee, reading, etc.  I learned that being “alone” does not mean you are alone or lonely.  I grew to love those Saturday morning dates with myself, my coffee, my magazine, and my other brunch lovers.  It was something that put me out into the Universe to say, here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  If someone wants to join me, that would be lovely, but I can do this on my own too.  I am not alone.

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All during this enlightening time of my life I also started a daily event, meditation.  Deepak Chopra and Oprah have a meditation series that is free for 21 days, then you can buy it.  I believe they have about five in their series.  On my birthday in 2013 the first of these meditation series began.  I fell in love with the practice of meditation.  Getting up at 5:30 a.m. weekdays was an all new experience.  Some of the meditations were great and super meaningful, while others did not connect with me as much.  But I loved the routine and the waking to about 30 minutes of quiet time before I would get out of bed.  To this day I still try to meditate, though I do not do it nearly as often as I would like.  It is another one of those things that I believe awakened me to the spirituality of the Universe.  Here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  Recently in this series of meditations, Energy of Attraction, Oprah said, “Like attracts like.  You attract who you are.  Change your energy and you can change your entire experience of the world.  Change your intention and you change your path.”  I honestly believe that during that dark period of my life, finding something like meditation to connect me with the Universe was a changing force in my life.  It gave me structure, which I desperately needed in order to put one foot in front of the other.  It also gave me hope; hope that the Universe would see me out there trying and would feel my energy.

“You always have a place here, on your mat.”

On a particularly rough day last fall I remember getting the text from my friend Sarah that said, “You always have a place here, on your mat.”  Her yoga instructor said that quote at the end of practice.  It now always means something to me.  I picked up the practice of yoga about a year and a half ago.  Some nights, during the hellish winter of 2014, I would take a 4:30 Sculpt class and a 6:00 CorePower 2 class.  Part of the reason was that it was always 80 or more degrees warmer in the studio than outside.  The other part was that I did not want to be home.  I did everything in my power to not be home alone.  If I wasn’t out with friends for dinner I would go to yoga and just stay.  My yoga mat is such a safe place for me.  I am now in a much different place in life, but I keep my yoga practice going.  I actually missed yoga during the 2014 marathon training season.  I love that I am back to nearly daily practice.  For me, yoga is an intense workout, but it is also spiritual, a time for me to find strength in myself.  It is a time to find space between me and my day, me and the outside world.  It is a time for me on my mat.  I never feel alone with yoga because in my mind it connects me with the Universe.  It puts my energy out there for all to feel.  Here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  Just remember that your time on your mat is for you.  You are never alone because you have yourself!

 

“And I’ve learned

That we must look inside our hearts

To find a world full of love”

What does lonely feel like?  What does feeling alone feel like?  How does feeling alone in an empty room differ from feeling alone in a room full of people?  What I know for sure is that it feels all different for all of us.  I am grateful to have learned even a little bit about looking inside my heart and knowing the difference for me between feeling alone and feeling lonely.  However you are feeling, take the steps to get out there.  Say YES! to Life.  Do things that make you happy like yoga or meditation or taking yourself to brunch.  Watch Whitney Houston videos, like me.  Go watch a great film.  Go sit at a bar, grab a drink and chat with the bartender or chat with other people sitting there.  You are not alone.  You are never alone, but you might have to take a risk once and a while to put yourself out there.  Put your energy out in the Universe and I promise you this, it will come back in return.  That I know for sure!

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You might also like my blog post, “Single? You Don’t Have to Be Alone”:

https://sayyestolifeblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/single-you-dont-have-to-be-alone/

Single Season

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I recently read this amazing blog post by # called “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.”  Over the last couple of weeks I have talked about this blog with friends and acquaintances.  Many of them have said, “Oh, I’ve heard about this.”  It is well worth a read, so take a few minutes now if you haven’t already.  What she writes about is worth sharing.  We as single people may not be where we want to be in our lives, or where we envisioned ourselves, but we have it pretty good.  We have some freedoms that married folk don’t.  We have some freedoms that parents don’t.  Rather than looking at it as a burden to be single, or something to be sad about, let’s choose to look at it as an opportunity to Say YES to Life! and live the hell out of this season.

I’ve lived the better part of my 37 years being single.  Granted, 26 of those years were spent trying to figure out who the hell I wanted to date.  Good Lord!  Once that got all settled, I spent the next nine years living it up, going to bars with friends, dating, getting graduate degrees, traveling, thinking it would be awesome to have a kid, realizing it would not be awesome to have a kid, and then finally finding that guy, the one I would call “boyfriend.”  Those years were fun, but certainly not what I was looking for, for the rest of my life.  The year plus with my ex was amazing and I thought it was everything I wanted out of life.  AT LONG LAST, I wasn’t SINGLE.  Honestly, in my head, just not being single and having a “boyfriend” was probably more significant than the actual relationship.  He couldn’t give me his heart.  He couldn’t say, “I love you.”  That is what I’m looking for, a guy who can accept emotion from me and give it back to me.

“You’ve been so unavailable/Now sadly I know why/Your heart is unobtainable/Even though Lord knows you kept mine.”

                                   –Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One” from In the Lonely Hour

(Check out Sam Smith’s album, In the Lonely Hour, and be amazed.  Not since Adele have lyrics been so real.)

Before my ex, I had convinced myself that I was content being single.  How many times did I tell myself, “I’d rather be single than with the wrong guy.”  I can tell you, hundreds of times that phrase went through my head.  And yes, if I’m single the rest of my life, I will be okay.  However, after experiencing a consistent, fun, and worthwhile dating relationship, the reality is that I want to be with a partner.  I do not want to be single.  Who does?  As is written in “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,”    being single does not mean that we have to wait to be partnered before we can start our lives.  This is a season.  We may not be where we want to be, but this is an opportunity to live our lives freely until or if a partner should ever join us.

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“Being single is an opportunity, even if it’s not one you choose. Spend it.”  I love this quote from the blog post by #.  Yes, thank you for acknowledging that this is not what I chose.  I don’t like it, but I can take this time and opportunity and “spend it.”  And this too, “don’t wish away this season just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would.”  What a constant reminder that I have a good life.  I am doing things with my singledom that are pretty amazing.

What has this Single Season afforded me?

Amazing Friendships:

Sarah, Dave, Michael, Patrick, Ronald, to name a few, have come in, or back into my life during this season.  This is like my Oscar speech because there are SO many more people who the above have introduced me to who have become amazing parts of my life too.  I probably could name about 50 new or returning people to my life during the past year.  If anything has come of this time, I know that I am blessed to have these friends in my life.  These are the people who reach out and ask, “Want to go grab a beer?”  “Want to grab brunch?”  “Want to go to a movie?”  “Want to go for a run?”  This season may not be where any of us want to be, but we have the freedom and choice to do whatever we want, when we want, and how we want.  That’s pretty cool.

I have not written off my married friends, though most of them have fled to the burbs with kids.  That’s not to say we can’t still hang out.  As is written in the blog post, “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,” single people can still add significance to married people and vice versa.  “Don’t miss out on friendships with amazing people because they’re single and their rhythm of life is different from yours.  And don’t assume that because someone’s single, they don’t want to hang out with married people, or people with kids.”  This is true.  I love my married friends and I love their kids.  The best part of hanging out is that I get to see my friends, play with their kids, and the kids stay with them and I get to go back to the city.  I joke, but some of the friends I have who are married have been the longest friendships here in Chicago.  Though our lives have changed since we were all 24, single and living in the city, I love them all and wish I could see them more. So yes, my single friends from 14 years ago are mostly married with children and though our lives are admittedly different, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be involved with them.  They add significance to my life too.

This Blog:

Finally, after a year of being sad, I made it through the fog and found my voice.  I’m only 5 posts (almost 6) into this adventure of blogging, but it feels good.  It feels good to write and create and express my emotions.  This blog is about taking my power back.  Taking back the power to be happy.  It is a choice and I’m choosing to find the good things in life, whether I’m single or not.

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Being single may not be where any of us want to be right now, but we have a choice to be cheerful and happy and free to do whatever we want.  I recently said to my friend Patrick, who is headed on his first solo trip, that traveling alone is amazing because it opens us up to new experiences we would not often open ourselves up to in the comforts of our own world.  On my solo trips in Thailand and Peru I met so many people I would have otherwise not, because I was single.  When we’re alone we are more willing to approach people and they more willing to approach us.  In Peru I had one of the best conversations about world travel with an older single woman who saw I was alone and asked to eat dinner with me.  That took balls, but you know what, if I was with someone, she and I would never have had that conversation.  We would have never shared our stories of the majesty that is Machu Picchu.  On the flip side, there were a few times in Thailand that I was staying at fantastic hotels and I wished I had a partner with me to experience the grandeur.  During this conversation with friends Patrick and Sarah I said, “I really want to go to Greece, but I think it is a trip to do with a partner.  Maybe a honeymoon trip?”  Wisely Sarah said, “You could die tomorrow.  If you want to go, go.  If you want to go next summer, start planning.  If you want to go for your 40th, do it.  Invite friends and the people who can and want to come will come.  Don’t wait for a honeymoon or a boyfriend.  Life could end tomorrow.  We are single now and we can go now.”  YES!  This is about Saying YES to LIFE!  Whatever makes you happy, do it.  If it is owning a nice knife, buy it now.  Do not wait for a wedding.  If it is travel, do not wait around for someone else. Do it now.  Do it for yourself because you are fabulous, free, and ready to live your life, NOW!  Forty is just over two years away.  Start saving your money because we are headed to Greece, ya’ll!

“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” 

                                                                                                                                                                           -Carrie Bradshaw

 

To my single friends:  Hold on for the ride.  Embrace your singledom and live your life.  Remember, Single is not a status, it is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

How are you Saying YES to LIFE?

For Now

“Well, I guess this is it….for now.”

That was how June 4, 2013 went down.  It was the final time I saw my ex.  Though he told me three weeks prior that he was taking the job in NYC, we tried to get together and in his words, “cherish” our time.  It was far too emotionally taxing on me to continue seeing him.  Finally on June 4th I had enough balls to say, enough.  Enough of this pretending like you didn’t make a unilateral decision to leave Chicago and “us” for a job in NYC.  And so we went on a walk along the lake.  The first words out of his mouth, “Well, I guess this is it, for now.”   My response, “No, that’s not fair.  You decided to move.  Don’t string me along.”  What is this “for now” business?  What it is, is a mind fuck.  A way for a guy to keep you right there, just stand over there while I go do what I want to do and if I come back, maybe we can be together.  WTF?  It was like he was Kanye to my Taylor.  “Yo Matty, you’re awesome and all but NYC is way better and I’m going to go live there.  You just wait here because ‘for now’ I gotta do this.”  Go fuck yourself is what I should have said.  Go.  Fuck.  Yourself.  What is this “for now” bullshit?  Unfortunately it did keep me under a spell of hope that he would change his mind and see the ill of his ways and he would come back.  Since he’s moved on to a new relationship, I don’t see that happening, “for now.”  And boys and girls, that Hollywood story is in Hollywood, not real life.  People make decisions every day that impact them, their lives and the people around them.  So over the last year I’ve been on a journey trying to grapple with defining “for now.”

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As I’ve journeyed through the last 12 months, many people in my life have helped me move along.  Take my co-worker, for example, who is getting married soon.  “Nothing lasts forever.  I’m getting married, but that could end.  Just because we’re married doesn’t mean it can’t end.”  Or take someone else I know whose long-term relationship ended because of different goals each of them had in life.  I guess I struggle because I grew up in white picket fence Portage, MI where all of my friends’ parents were still married and everything was how it is supposed to be.  My parents are going to celebrate their 44th anniversary this coming summer.  It’s just what I grew up seeing and knowing to be how it is supposed to be.  You fall in love, you get married, you live happily ever after.  Right?  So what is the “for now” business?  Is our generation so afraid of commitment that we now allow ourselves to say, “Well this is dandy for now, and since it’s just for now, I don’t have to get totally invested.”  Is the next best thing the way we are now living our lives?  God damn, I sure hope not.  Is falling in love and finding a partner who you long to wake up to each morning a thing of the past?

I’m 37 years old and have been looking for love for 12 years, give or take some sowing of the oats.  I found a man I loved, but “for now” he can’t do it.  So I’m journeying again and finding a lot of great, wonderful people, but if commitment is a thing of the past, shame on me for trying.  If, say, my next relationship last 3 years and he leaves, I have to do this all over again?  Yes, Matt, you do, because as I’ve learned, nothing lasts forever.  But the thought of that makes me want to vomit and pack my suit case for my retirement home in Miami with my Golden Girls–NOW!

“Choose HOPE when you can’t find faith.”

Ok, I’m back!  Back on my feet.  It took me some time, but I’m here.  Nothing does last forever.  I can still have my Hollywood story and maybe that is a dream, but I do hope that I find a man who won’t leave because he wants to spend the rest of his days waking up next to me.  I’m not going to lose hope, even on the days I don’t have faith.

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So here I am, writing a blog post about what “for now” means.  It can be a cowardly way of not totally wanting to cut ties, end things, and be a dick, or it can mean living in the moment, cherishing what you have now because in a minute, an hour, or a day, it could all be different.  For now, I’m dating and enjoying it.  It could all feel different tomorrow.  Like Carrie Bradshaw, I do want to find that real, inconvenient love, but for now I’m meeting men, enjoying the moments we are sharing, and seeing where things go.  I told my friend Sarah last night, “I’m kind of overwhelmed being in text/email contact and going on dates with 7 men.”  She wrote back, rightly so, “I don’t want to hear anymore pessimistic ‘I’m going to be alone’ dating stories.  Overwhelmed=I don’t feel sorry for you.”  Right on sister!  *smile*  She’s absolutely right.  In those dark days, you can’t see the light.  The only thing that gets you through are friends, like Sarah, who shine a light when you can only see darkness.  Then, when the light is shining so bright and you share your overwhelmed thoughts, she bitch slaps you and says “buy a pair of sunglasses dude.”

It’s summer and it’s raining men!  Listen, it feels nice to have attention, we all know that, and I feel hopeful that maybe one of these guys is the one, at least for now.  I kid, because I am looking for a committed and consistent relationship, but my goal is forever, not for now.  Yet, the reality remains, in a couple of weeks I could be dateless and continuing this journey because these guys decide that I’m not the one for them.  And that is fine but for now, for these moments, I’m going to enjoy getting to know them and enjoy their company, and hell, enjoy the attention!  

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This brings me to June 4, 2014, one year later.  I was on a date with a very handsome, super fun guy.  We ate sushi and had fancy cocktails.  Dinner conversation was so great we had to Uber 5 blocks just to make it to the show Avenue Q, which he planned upon my suggestion that it is playing in town.  We made it just in time.  The only cause for concern was that I motorboated a muppet just hours after only my second nose bleed in my life.  Luckily for me her breasts were made of foam!  Anyway, the show was great, the company I kept, better.  The show ended with a song, coincidentally titled, “For Now.”

For now… Nothing lasts, Life goes on, Full of surprises. You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes.  You’re going to have to make a few compromises…

For now… 

For now we’re healthy.  For now we’re employed.  For now we’re happy… If not overjoyed.

And we’ll accept the things we cannot avoid, for now…

Don’t stress, Relax, Let life roll off your backs.  Except for death and paying taxes, Everything in life is only for now!

Each time you smile…Only for now.  It’ll only last a while…Only for now.  Life may be scary…Only for now.  But it’s only temporary…

Everything in life is only for now.

So the last two June 4ths were very different.  I’m different.  I’m more honest and accepting of this journey.  I don’t like it all the time, but for now, today, it’s all ok.

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