What Chicago Means to Me

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Heading into 15 years living, learning, and loving in Chicago.  I moved to Chicago July 19, 2000, what?  Where did time go?  What have the last 14 years meant to me?  When I graduated from Michigan State it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was moving here.  Though I did not know anyone in the city, my parents helped me pack up the van and leave 10330 Lloy St. for the last time.  What I know for sure is that I was raised in Portage, Michigan, but I GREW UP in Chicago.

I can only imagine the horror my mother, in particular, must have felt dropping me off at my apartment on Kenmore and Montrose, in “North” Wrigleyville as I called it.  I’ve been mocked for years about that one, but who wanted to live in Uptown?  I was a 24-year-old, Wrigleyville should have been my home.  Haha.  Though the neighborhood is way more cleaned up now, it still needs more and back then, it needed a lot.  There were homeless guys lying around and certainly the Target, et al. were not there to spruce up the streets.  I didn’t want to display my fear, so I stayed as strong as a 24-year-old boy could, shaking in his boots.  I knew no one and I didn’t know what to do with my time.  My second day some drugged up woman got into my building and came to my door asking for money or drugs.  I had to shove her out and lock the door.  I stayed for 4 days and called my mom crying.  She told me to come home for a few days, which turned into two or three weeks.  What I know now, 14 years later, is that I could have gone to a bar and sat there for dinner and drinks.  I could have gotten out of the apartment and gone for a roller blade down the lake(yes, I still had roller blades then).  However, I didn’t have the confidence.  What do you do when you are alone, in a city where you know no one, and you have four weeks until work starts?  Ah, to do it all over again, I would have stayed.  Speaking of staying, I told my mother I would stay in Chicago for a year and see how things go.  I have a sneaking suspicion she knew I wouldn’t return to Michigan.  The big city is for me.  Chicago is where I grew up!

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Here’s to 15 years in Chicago with 15 classic, not necessarily classy, times.

TOBs (The OB’s) sorority we created and follow-up initiation ceremony of our ‘Lils.

THE Friendsgiving at Amanda, Jess and Shayna’s – making friends, losing friends, and Sure-Thing Schuering’s bedroom conversations – oh you remember, THAT one!

“Youhoo” dinner at Lucia’s with 15+ bottles of wine, Cary, Charlie, Carrie, Diane and Patty.  “Youhoo” who’s taking me home tonight?”

Leaving Starlight Express at intermission to race home to Lesley’s apartment for the show Paradise Hotel.  “Yahtzee game on!”

The “Pretty Woman” moment waking up in a hotel room downtown, by myself, opening the curtains and realizing I was at the Swissotel.

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Wicked Keggers dancing out of closets (and from under tables) to “Last Dance”, keg stands, and flip cup!

The NSync concert and stalking Joey Fatone –  I think I lived in my new Lincoln Park apartment for only a few days.  I’d just met my roommate Laura. The night started by going to Soldier Field for the NSync concert with Amanda, Jess, and Deana.  Following, we got “word” where the boys would be hanging out.  One of the places, Kustom Night Club, was mere feet away from our apartment.  We (Laura, neighbor Julie, and I)loaded into Julie’s car and we went on a hunt.  Zipping through the streets, on Armitage, off Armitage.  On Clybourn, off, Clybourn.  We parked the car, then drove again.  We sat in an ally until we saw the black SUV pull up.  This is it!  It seemed after all the twists, turns, and alleys that we were a distance away from our apartment.  Julie parked the car again and we hustled to the club.  It’s weird to me that we got right in, but we did.  We got drinks and waited, waited some more, ordered more drinks and waited longer.  Finally, AHHHHHHHHHHH, they arrived, at least that was the buzz in the bar.  “OMG, I’m going to meet Justin.  OMG!”   Imagine all of our dismay when Joey Fatone walked by to the VIP lounge and brushed up against Laura arm.  She was sort of excited and pissed at the same time.  “OMG, he graced my arm.  Why did it have to be Joey?  Who likes Joey?”  As we left, someone said, “I feel like we are right around the corner from our apartment.”  Shortly thereafter, we got to the car and drove approximately 1000 feet back to our apartment.

Market Days 2009 positioning ourselves at Mini Bar both Saturday and Sunday (wash, rinse, repeat) for hours drinking vodka lemonades, meeting the boys from Atlanta, and yes, dancing the night away at Charlie’s.

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My Hollywood Night!  The Scene:  August night, post kickball game, Kit Kat Club, “Dreamgirls” playing, drag queen performing – Dennis and me in our super cute “After School Specials” short red shorts uniforms and a few martinis deep….we enter Kit Kat and as if the spotlight of a Broadway show turned to us we immediately go into Dreamgirls performance mode.  We sashayed up and down the bar, full crowd cheering us on as the drag queen was in the back room performing her heart out.  The song ends, Dennis and I take a Dreamgirls pose (I’m obviously Beyoncé), and the crowd of people at the tables roar with cheers, they are on their feet yelling and screaming and clapping.  The drag queen is on her way back up to the front ready to claw our eyes out.  The bartender jumps over the bar and pushed Dennis and me out of the bar, “Get outta here, SHE PISSED!”  Best, best, best moment EVER!

My 30th Birthday/Coming Out Party!  The amazing, “Is It Gay In Here or Is It Just Me?” night ended with Dennis and me trying to find Charlie’s dance club, which we had been to countless times.  “Dennis?”

“Yes, Matty.”

“Are we at Lake Shore Drive?”

“Yes Matty, we are.  How did that happen?”

This Night!

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The Running of the Bulls Halloween!  Hands down, the best!

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My first night ever out in Boystown, the “ah ha” moment of being in a bar with all men-what a “right” feeling and what a debaucherous night.

Completing my first Chicago Marathon in 2011.  Truly the best day of my life!

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Hitting on myself at Charlie’s at 4 a.m.  I blame the sangria from Ba Ba Reeba.  So what happened is that we  had to wait close to two hours for our table.  As we proceeded to drink more and more, the night got fuzzy.  Some of us ended up at Charlie’s dance club around 2 a.m.  In hindsight I should have left with my friends, but I stayed.  Good thing I did because I met a guy that night.  The scene:  hot sultry August night, smoky dance floor, 4 a.m., boys sweating and dancing everywhere, and I saw him.  We made eye contact from across the dance floor, through the smoke, and started to approach each other in slow motion.  As I got closer to him, he got closer to me.  As I smiled, he smiled.  “This is it,” I thought.  As I reached for his hand, he reached for me……then I ran into the mirror!  I RAN INTO THE FUCKING MIRROR!  I hit on MYSELF!  MYSELF!!!!

What I Know For Sure

The last 14 years have flown by like a flash and mostly been one hell of a ride.  When I moved to Chicago at age 24 to start my career, I did not know what to expect, and actually thought I might move back to Michigan.  Right!  After meeting friends of a lifetime, living into the gay man I am, falling in love with this city, and growing up, I now call Chicago home.  What I know for sure is that life is a roller coaster, friends come and go, but they are always in my heart. Relationships start and end and new ones begin, but if we make it to the end of each day, “The Sun will rise tomorrow.”  We are all dealing with our own stuff on a daily basis, but as friends and humans, we are here to support each other.  Some days are great and some not as great, but when I sit back and reflect, I know, I have a damn good life filled with amazing accomplishments, amazing adventures, and amazing relationships.  In this moment, right now, 15 years after moving to Chicago, I couldn’t be happier.  Thank you Chicago for helping me grow up and Say YES to LIFE!

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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.” 

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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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Investing In Me

Remember what you deserve

I have a love/hate relationship with this quote.  ALL I have to do is FORGET what I feel?  Really?  I wish it was that easy.  For some people, perhaps it is, but for me being the emotionally invested and aware guy that I am, it isn’t that easy.  However, the sentiment behind the quote has merit.  It makes sense and is the basis of this idea of “Investing In Me.”

I recently read an article on Facebook about why gay men suck at dating.  http://www.gayguys.com/2014/04/reason-gay-men-suck-dating/

What resonated with me is the idea that my generation of gay men are now “nomadic.”  There isn’t anything necessarily tying us down, like kids, and most people change jobs as often as every few years.  So, why not move to a different city?  Absolutely, go do that, but I’ve worked 14 years here in Chicago and my life is here.  I’m not necessarily looking to move.  According to the article by Jerry Plaza, “We want to move away, travel and achieve big dreams. Not that there’s anything wrong with the idea, but it sure does put a damper on anyone who might see a future with you.”  Right, you want a future with me?  Stay in Chicago or make millions so I don’t have to work!  Boom!  But in all honesty, if you want to be in a committed relationship, you need to be congruent with each other and for me that means you probably need to stay here, with me.

Natalie Lue from http://www.baggagereclaim.com would call this establishing dating boundaries.  My dating boundary is that I live in Chicago and don’t plan to move anytime soon.  As I worked through the heartbreak of my ex moving to NYC for a job, over looking for one in Chicago and choosing to stay with me, I realized I needed to listen to him.  In March of last year he told me, “I can’t give you what you want.”  For so many reasons I just wanted it to work.  At the time, I would have done anything to stay with him.

“I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”

 -Carrie Bradshaw

I’m looking for a guy who will choose to stay with me because he values me and loves me.  My ex could not love me like this.  His friends, I think, probably convinced him that he should stay with me.  Why not, right?  I do know that I have my shit together and the guy who I end up with will be lucky.  So we worked things out and two months later he was gone. I should have “listened” to him.  In Natalie Lue’s Handy List of  Commitment and Availability Issues List of Phrases, the FIRST phrase is “I can’t give you what you want.”  Listen to him!  If you learn one thing only from this post, please, LISTEN TO HIM!  It doesn’t matter if you beg him to reconsider, beg him to stay, or if his friends think you are fabulous and tell him he’s a fool to leave you, LISTEN TO HIM!

And just when you think listening is enough, now listen and set your boundary.  Take your head with your heart-Invest In Yourself.

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As I began dating again I made a commitment to myself to be authentic to my life and my life goals.  I was not going to shy away from speaking MY truth and MY desire to find love and commitment here in Chicago.  The first guy I dated I met running.  I loved that about him.  We had a ton of fun and he was super cute and energetic.  The first mention of not liking his job and “maybe I’ll move”, see ya buddy!  “My ex did that and I’m not doing that again.”  We’re friends and he is great, but “maybe” I took seriously and that is not congruent with my life.  Then a few months later I met THE next ONE.  He’d recently moved back to Chicago to be close to family.  Not having a job, he was seeking.  On our second date he mentioned the dreaded three words in my world, New York City.  I told him my ex moved there for a job over me and that if he wanted to look for jobs there he should, but that this would be our last date.  “Oh the draw of New York.  Everyone wants to live in New York.  I lived there in my 20’s.  It was great but I moved back here to be close to my family.”  My response was very direct and clear, “That’s great, but if you do seek jobs there, don’t date me.”  It could have been the cold and snow of this past January and February in Chicago, and loving a warm body next to me, but I fell head over heals for this guy.  We dated for 7 weeks filled with laughter, hours of YouTube watching Whitney clips(he loved her too!), flowers at the door and ice cream in bed and rainbows and glitter(ok, no rainbows and glitter), and just an amazing time.  After 7 weeks, he moved to New York City, for a job.

So here I am, now in June, after taking a few months away from dating, Saying YES to Life!, I’m back dating again.  I’ve met some really great guys, however, I continue to find these nomadic gay men.  Why do the guys I date think “I might live in NYC one day.”  I’ve pondered this for the past week or so since I met a really handsome, fun guy.  Is it that I’m attracted to younger thirty year olds?  Perhaps.  Or is it that my generation of gay men aren’t settled and don’t plan on settling down?  Has the instant-ness of hook-up/dating apps changed the type of guys we are meeting?  Or are we changing?  Are jobs so fluid now that staying put in a city and working at a job for more than a few years a thing of the past?  Perhaps.  With these changes, can men dating now find love?  A quote from the Broadway play and recent HBO movie, The Normal Heart, struck me.  “Men do not naturally not love. They learn not to.”  Are we learning not to love in order to keep our hearts at a distance and not settle down into commitment?

For me, however, I have to choose to “Invest In Me” and not only be upfront with these guys and my intention to stay, but say goodbye when they mention the idea of “one day” living somewhere else.  Short of sounding bitter, because I’m not, I hesitate to believe that “Love Conquers All.”  No matter how great I am, if a guy wants to live in say, New York City, he’s going to do it.  All I have control over is my life and my desires and running the other way, fast, when the mention of living elsewhere is brought up.  So I’m working on it.  I’m not perfect, and this very handsome guy who’ve I’ve recently met is worth getting to know.  But, I’m going to listen to him and I’m going to take my head along with my heart.

It is just about summer break around here.  Last summer sucked the life out of me, but this summer I’m Saying YES to Life! and “Investing In Me.”

 

Shoop Shoop Be Doop

This week marks one year since my ex boyfriend told me he was taking a job in NYC.  My heart was shattered into a million different pieces that day.  The subsequent months were filled with tears, sadness, and despair.  I fell into the darkest period of my life.  Had it not been for amazing friends, who kept me busy and got me out of my apartment, co-workers who cared to ask how I was doing and people I pretty much just met who listened, I would not be standing here today, the pieced back together and much stronger man that I am.  In there too was an amazing trip to Africa, which would come to be the last with my wonderful friend and travel companion, Lesley, along with Cary and Charlie, who experienced with me the transformative experience in the wilds of Africa.  Along with all of those things, what I know now is that people you don’t expect, come out of the woodwork to support you, that new friendships have blossomed, and that my own strength and courage helped me put one foot in front of the other each day.  I have experienced physical pain, remember the collarbone/blood clot incident of 2006 or the broken hand this past July?  What I learned through this experience is that physical pain ain’t got nothin’ on emotional trauma.  A pill can take away physical pain, but difficult, emotional work, and time,  must be the only thing that makes us better and helps us through emotional pain.   I recognize that I am not the first broken hearted man, listen to most music and you’ll see, but it’s people who have been heart broken who shine through like beacons of light during the darkest times.  What this experience has afforded me is the strength to move on, to grow, to learn, to be, to feel, to experience, all the lows and highs of life.  If we never experience sadness or disappointment, can we truly know how happiness feels?  If we never experience a broken heart, can we truly know what love is supposed to feel like?  I will never love in the same way again, he was my first love,  but I will love again, in a much different way.  That, I know for sure.

“and maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future.  Maybe the happy ending is just moving on.”

I have struggled with moving on and letting go.  Not even the stellar song by Adela Dazeem (Idena Menzel) “Let It Go” from Frozen could get me out of my funk.  I recently read a post from http://www.Tinybudda.com called “Finally Letting Go of the Pain and Moving on from the Break-up” by JR Hughes.  In it was a description of how I’ve felt for the past year, “For the year after the break-up I got on okay with life, but the shine had gone. A veil hung between me and true engagement with the world. I could smile but the smile never went to my eyes.”  Oh my god, that is me, I thought, or sang rather, “The past is in the past.  Let it go.  Let it go.”  It is time to lift the veil and bring my smile back to my eyes.  It is time to move the  F on.  I’m an amazing, wonderful man with so many great talents and passions to share.  I’m missing out on finding a new, great, wonderful man to share many adventures with, and my love.  I need to Say YES to Life!  I have to make the decision that this is over.  This is done. And I have done that.

17023-Your-Worth

When I recently found out my ex has moved on, like leaving me for a job in NYC wasn’t enough to tell me he moved on Matt, I found out he is dating someone new.  The news hit hard, for a day or two, then I was fine.  Last week I was completing the final days of Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21-Day meditation free series.  That particular day, 51 weeks after the break-up, was themed, “Expressing Wisdom.”  I WILL buy this series, if only for Day 20 and Oprah’s 2 minute message at the beginning.  It is no secret that I think Oprah is pretty amazing.  What she says rang so, SO true to me today.

 “I call it my sunrise faith, because as long as we’re on this planet, the sun always rises.  That is a truth we can count on, regardless how many shifts and twists and turns we experience in our lives, The Sun will rise tomorrow.  The true nature of the Universe is just like the sunrise.  It is always there.  It is always True, with a capital T.  We too are each in our truest selves, a part of the greater capital T, Truth.  What I know for sure, is the more closely we connect to the Source, capital S, of every truth, the more wondrous and full our life experience will be.  What is our true self?  We feel it when we’re lost in moments of doing something we love, or connecting with someone we love, or in those Ah Ha moments of light and insight.  We feel it in the essence of connection.  We feel it in the quiet, steady power of the sunrise.”

What I know for sure (thank you Oprah) is that, no matter how dark the days were over the past 365 days, the sun always rose.  No matter how many twists, turns, and shifts my journey took in the past 365 days, the sun always rose.  No matter what happens in a day, good or bad, as long as we make it to the end of that day, the sun is going to rise tomorrow.  With this realization and acceptance came power for me.  It is the power of choice.  #100happydays http://www.100happydays.com allowed me to learn that happiness some days is a choice.  Some days I am just happy, I feel good, but others it is a conscious effort.  And those are the days that I get to the end, crawl into bed and say, “whew, I made it.  The sun will rise tomorrow.”
SunAlwaysRises
When people leave you, it just means they weren’t the right one to stay.  You just have to sing, “Shoop, shoop, be doop” from Waiting to Exhale, by my beloved Whitney.  “Everyone falls in love sometime.  Sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes it’s right.  For every win, someone must fail.  But there comes a point when, when we exhale.  Yeah yeah yeah, say Shoop shoop shoop shoop be doop.”  It’s the Universe’s way of saying, he isn’t right for you, I’m throwing a curve in the plan and steering you in a different direction.  I’ve learned to take that curve, accept it, and am choosing to Say YES to Life!

 

 

 

Say YES to Life!

“You’re meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in 19 years?”

“Yes, I am!”  That was my answer as I sat on the train about to see a high school friend I hadn’t seen since the day we graduated, June 2, 1995.  “I’m saying YES to life.”

And so it begins, I’m finally starting a blog.  I’ve been told for years that I should do this, that I’m funny and witty and people would enjoy what I write about.  And for years I have hesitated, hemmed, and hawed, never really considering it, well, not at great length anyway.  Then I met up with Dana, a high school friend.  I haven’t seen Dana since we left Portage Central High School for the last time on June 2, 1995.  We’d known each other over the years, but were never great friends.  She Facebook messaged me a few weeks ago letting me know she would be in Chicago and wondered if I would like to join her for a drink to catch up.  Immediately, when Dana rounded the corner of the elevator at the Blake Hotel, it was like I had just seen her yesterday.  She looked the same.  Same vibrant smile and same exuberant personality.

“So, June 1995…what have you been up to since?”  Dana and I each ran through our 19 year college and career history, you know Michigan State, move to Chicago, taught 5th grade for 6 years, am now in my 8th year as a high school counselor, loving my job, loving living in Chicago, this and that and the other.  For Dana it was, Western Michigan, Detroit, a lot of amazing travel for work around the world, and then, New York City, back to Michigan and her own business.

On my way to meet Dana my friend Sarah, another high school connection, and I were texting.  I told her that I was meeting up with Dana because I’m “saying yes to life.”  What can it hurt to meet up with someone you haven’t seen in 19 years?  Sarah texted back, “I love this.”  While Dana and I were chatting she brought up a recent daily post thing from the internet called #100happydays.  Basically you take a photo of what made you happy that day and post on Instagram or Facebook.  After a personally dark year, #100happydays helped me look at the little things in a day that make me happy.   Some days it was an obvious thing, like dinner with a great friend.  Other days it was harder to find something, so I had to look more closely at the little things.  Even the little things like a perfectly ripe avocado, can make me happy.  It’s all about saying yes to life.  So I said yes to Dana, we had the best time, and her spirit filled me up so much that here I am, just like her friend told her, “Like a peacock, you need to let your feathers show.”

So here I am, letting my feathers show and saying yes to life.  I don’t know what this blog will be from post to post,  but hopefully it will be fun, sometimes serious, hopefully not lame, funny, and maybe, just maybe, it might reach someone.  Who knows?  Something I have recently allowed myself to rediscover after this past year is that I am full of life and love and that it is ok to let the darkness fade.  It’s time to Say YES to Life!