Are you really up for adventure?: Part 1

stocksnap_9dac748a18It’s not so much that I’m bored at home with nothing to do.  I can always find something to occupy my time and be perfectly happy doing it.  But I also know how many times I find myself in a text exchange with the BFF about how we never do anything and have nowhere to go because our circle of friends is so small.  Small as in, just her and I (by choice).  Complaining about how we don’t want to go to a club, but how many times can we go out for coffee??? At the same time we send each other memes on Instagram showing ‘that face you make when plans fall through because you get to stay in bed’.  Entertaining because it’s the truth.  We say we want to get dressed up, all girls night out, and also don’t want to get out of bed, get in the shower, do our hair, put our faces on and get dressed.  Or drive anywhere.  Or look for parking.  This is exhausting!  So nine out of ten times, we stay in..  And bitch about having nothing to do and not meeting people and not knowing where to meet people.

Sometimes you just need to get out of bed.  Sometimes the journey AND the destination are worth it but you’ll never know if you’re too lazy to take the first step in that direction.

I’d already stayed out past my bedtime Friday night (10pm).  After running errands until Saturday afternoon, I was mentally and physically ready to stay in my PJs until Sunday morning.  But I had an opportunity to meet someone for dinner downtown and while I could have used an adventure, I could have equally used more than 6 hours in sweats vegging out.  Going downtown would mean driving there and as much as I like being downtown, I prefer it as a pedestrian or a passenger.  I could drive to Downsview station (free parking) and then take the subway down.  The trip would take longer but be considerably less stressful.  I used to hate riding transit when I had to, but there’s something both relaxing and exciting about riding it when you normally drive your car everywhere.  Yah.  That could work.  I was supposed to be downtown for 7pm which meant I should leave by 6pm.  It was now 4:50pm and here’s how you know I was still on the fence about this potential adventure:

  • I had confirmation that we were meeting but not exactly where we were meeting after I got out of the station.  I decided to take this as ‘unconfirmed’ and had zero intention of getting ready until an exact meeting location was confirmed.
  • I hadn’t picked an outfit, or did my hair, or make up or even showered yet.
  • I needed to stop to take out cash for subway fare and gas.  Don’t worry, I had a plan to stop at a gas station with an ATM on the way to the highway.

So after spending 15 more minutes updating my Spotify playlist – essential since I’m going to need some get hype music to wake me up on the drive – I get in the shower.  I tell myself if there is no confirmation text by the time I get out, I’m not going.  There is a confirmation text waiting for me when I get out.

J, you are going to do this.  You always talk about wanting an opportunity to go out – to try something new, to meet new people.  If you don’t take this small step right now, how can you complain about not having any opportunities later?  Here’s that pivotal moment where a simple yes or no decision determined which of two very different paths my night would take.  Do you really want adventure or do you want to stay in bed?

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Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 4

How can being whipped be a good thing?

stocksnap_6qnp6abcjeLet me explain.

In addition to being a recovering relationship conformist, my “I can do it myself” disease is also in remission.  Yes, I’m that one.  I try to do what I can on my own, without assistance from a man.  You know that, I don’t need your money, offer to split or pay for the bill, open my own door without even thinking that perhaps I should let him do it type stuff.  That’s not to say that I don’t let men (or women for that matter) do things that I could do, if they offer.  For example, I could pick up that heavy box over there but if you’re offering I say please and thank you!  Nor will I do something that I don’t like or don’t want to do if I don’t have to.  I’m not going to learn how to rotate my own tires or do my own oil change because I have zero interest in those tasks.  And sometimes, even if there’s something I can do for myself but I don’t want to at that moment, I might ask a male friend to do it for me.  But trust that he knows I would do the same for him if he asked.

So yes, I’m in remission for these I-can-do-it-all-by-myself behaviours.

I know that my partner needs to know that they can take care of me and the only way that can happen is if I let them.  I’m a work in progress.  Doing things for myself without help from a man is natural to me, while letting a man do things for me is unnatural.  That’s not to say that I’m missing the ‘domesticated’ gene.  I cook & bake, clean & do laundry, pack lunches.  I’ll help you with spreadsheets for your finances, make you soup and put vapour rub on you when you’re sick.  Now here’s where whipped comes back in to play.  There’s a difference between doing the above mentioned out of necessity or obligation and doing them because you want to do them for this specific person.  The latter is what I define as whipped.

I would take whipped one step further and say that it’s not just about taking care of the person (because you’re supposed to), but catering to this person because deep down you really want to.

It’s a choice to cater to this individual because you want to even if it means doing things which are unnatural to you.

Brace yourselves feminists.  There’s an element of submission in here.  Being in a relationship would require me to submit myself to this person.  Submit myself by putting my pride aside in order to cater to this person.  Not in the sense of saying that this person has more value than I do or deserves more respect than I do because it’s a choice, my own choice.  I will say that though I have taken care of my partners in my past relationships (to the best of my ability at the time), I can’t say that I submitted to any of them.

What would it mean for me to submit or be whipped?  It would mean that if I got home before him, I would want to run down the stairs to greet him as he walked in the door despite what I was doing.  It would mean wanting him to sit and relax at the table while I bring his dinner to him.  It would mean wanting to pour and hand him his scotch or bourbon and massaging his shoulders at the end of a long day (even if mine was longer).  It would mean him doing the same for me and me letting him do it.  Submission.

Now I know all you wives and fiances out there (if you’re even reading this) are probably chuckling to yourselves thinking,

‘Duh, that’s what it’s all about’ but the difference for me is that’s not what it’s all about.

Kudos to you that you don’t recoil at the thought of these behaviours, that you can do them so willingly and lovingly.  But they are completely unnatural and essentially blasphemous for me to say. Those who know me in person are thinking, “JJ, this doesn’t sound like you at all“.  Of course it doesn’t.  Wash my mouth out with soap (or my fingers).  That’s my point exactly.  These behavious are completely unnatural for me.  So assuming a or a few ‘right ones’ for me exist, they would need to be someone for whom I would be willing (and wanting) to do these things despite how inorganic they feel to me at this moment.  This is what would have my friends teasing me and calling me whipped.  Still thinking about what kind of person they would have to be for me to want to submit.

Tinder/Bumble Survival Tips

How to stay cool in the face of rejection

stocksnap_hbbadfvy65My friends have been asking me how I’m able to navigate these apps without being a basket case.  There are quite a few contributing factors.  The first being that I’ve always gravitated towards ‘internet dating’.  I used to be a very shy and unconfident young lady.  This is before the time of dating apps; think Yahoo! chatrooms and sites like Blackplanet and Meetmeinto for those of you old enough to recall.

Although I was confident with my personality, I wasn’t always so confident with my outward appearance.

Connecting with potential suitors online worked for me on two levels.  First it was far easier to let my fingers do the talking than it was to speak to men (boys) in person.  Second, I gained confidence in the process by feeling that these boys fell for my personality, making me less worried about how physically unattractive I felt when I met them in person.  Long story short, although I still get a bit nervous at the initial meeting, I’m seasoned in the process of chatting with a stranger and dealing with the whole ‘blind date’ scenario.

Hiding behind my computer screen afforded me the annonimity to communicate with those I would otherwise shy away from, which I see as a benefit to apps like Tinder & Bumble.  But hiding behind a computer screen also allows for a few things that make connection challenging and increase your chances of feeling rejected:

  • Similar to the case with internet bullying, when people communicate from behind their monitors, they’re less sensitive to the fact that there’s an actual person on the other end of their wireless connection.  It makes it easier for them (and you) to do some of those abhorent things they probably wouldn’t dare do in person (like ghosting).
  • Following the point above, you (or they) become disposable.  Because no substantial investment has been made by either party and it’s so easy to swipe and connect with someone else, many times the connection with you has a lower perceived value.

This is not to say that everyone on these apps operates by this philosophy, but this is the reality of the world of easy access and instant gratification that we all live in.

So how does one remain resilient in the face of potential and actual rejection?

  1. Take it for what it is.  Matthew Hussey has a really awesome YouTube channel focused around dating advice for women.  He mentions something that we tend to do when we first meet and are getting to know a guy.  Let’s say we know 30% of what there is to know about him (first I’m paraphrasing from memory so don’t take this as a direct quote from Matthew, second 30% is a huge exaggeration – you don’t know that much about this dude).  Now let’s also say you like all of the 30% that you know about him (also an inflation).  We then have a tendency to make up the remaining 70% in our minds so that this guy becomes the perfect guy in our imagination.  Maybe he could be at some point but there’s no way you could possibly know it yet.  Thank you Matthew!  When we do this, we’re making it far more difficult on ourselves to manage damage control if this doesn’t end well.  So do yourself a favour, take it for what it is, don’t make up what it’s not and enjoy the present.
  2. Only like him as much as he likes you; another great piece of wisdom from Matthew.  Obviously you can’t really help how much you like him, but you can help how much you show him that you like him.  I’m the last person to tell you not to go after what you want as I tend to do just that with everything, including men, but I’m working on tempering my aggressiveness.  I think you need to give a little, but you need to find the balance between push and pull.  For example, on Bumble the woman has to send the first message.  All good, I usually start with some kind of open ended question about something in their profile.  The goal is to spark a conversation.  However if it continues for let’s say three or four exchanges and I’m the only one asking the questions then I will send a message that’s just a comment and no question.  If he’s truly interested, he will find a way to communicate and continue the conversation.  The same goes for off the app.  You shouldn’t be the one calling, messaging, setting up the dates all the time.  You need to allow him the opportunity to show you that he’s interested in you too (or not interested – see #3).
  3. You have to learn to be patient.  I know how much it sucks waiting for him to call or text.  I look at it this way, people are usually on their best behaviour at the beginning –  if it starts off with you always reaching out to him, it’s probably always going to be that way.  If you’re cool with that, great; but if you’re not then you’re going to have to learn how to wait for him to reach out to you too.  If he doesn’t, know that your worth someone who will and move on.  Next!
  4. Trust but be cautious.  I try to be honest and upfront as much as possible, even when doing so may be difficult for the other person to receive.  This works fine in isolation, but because I am this way, I find myself operating under the assumption that the person I’m speaking to does the same.  Don’t look at me like that, I know how silly it sounds and I’m working on it.  You have to remember that as much as this is a real person you’re speaking to, they’re also probably presenting their best selves to you – you know, like the highlight reels also known as Facebook and Instagram.  You really don’t know what this person has been through, what they are going through now and how that will affect their behaviour towards you.  In short, try not to take it personally, in all likelihood the issue is not with you at all.
  5. Try again.  Sure, what happened with that last guy wasn’t fun.  You got your feelings hurt a bit, but just because that’s what happened in that situation doesn’t mean that’s what will happen with the next one.  So put your big girl pants on, learn from the experience and work at remaining open.  If you’re not ready to try again, take a break – guaranteed the guys will still be there when you get back.

Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 3

Is there a happier?

stocksnap_49ja3pcv2xNo, I don’t desire a relationship naturally.  I’ve realized that like most men (see part 2), I need to be convinced that the relationship is better than the alternative.  That my life would be happier, enriched, more fulfilling if I were in the relationship and that the relationship has the same effect on my partner’s life.

Here lies the challenge:  I make the best of every situation and design what I can of my life for maximum happiness.  I’m resilient and accept that challenges in life better prepare me to appreciate the good.  I know that no matter how dire the situation may be, its temporary.  Eventually I will get through it and be better for it.

I’m ambitious and I’ve also found the sweet spot where I can be present and feel fulfilled at every stage of the process.  This makes it difficult to see the relationship as better than the alternative.

I work to accept the things I can’t change, I work to change those that I can and I work to understand the difference between the two (yes, I’m getting all spiritual).  I’m happy.  Being happy with my present life (and I assure you, it’s not a ‘fake it til you make it thing’), makes it difficult for me to imagine that I could be any happier in a relationship.  Now because you don’t know me that well I will clarify: when I say that I’m happy, I don’t mean content with all facets of my life, with no intention of personal, professional, spiritual growth.  I don’t mean that at all.  That couldn’t be further from my values.  I mean that I find joy in life even with my life in a state of transition.  I’ve accepted the pursuit of happiness as the journey rather than just the destination.

 Can I actually be happier in a relationship?  I don’t know that I could and because I don’t have that innate desire to be in one, I’m not motivated to seek one out.

I try to imagine under what circumstances I could be drawn towards being in a relationship.  An interesting term comes to mind… Whipped.  Hear me out first before you start jumping to conclusions.  The negative connotation of the word is usually used to describe a man who is completely controlled by his partner.  His friends may tease him about it and yes often times the woman is controlling and not in a positive way.  But I would define being whipped differently.  I see it not as relinquishing your power over to your partner, but finding yourself with someone who because of their very nature makes you want to do things for them that you wouldn’t do for anyone else.  Inspires you to do things that aren’t natural to you.  So what or rather who, would inspire me to do things that aren’t natural to me?  I need to think about it some more.

What do you think?  Does being happy now make it challenging to imagine an even happier state of being?

Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 2

Who’s seeking what?

stocksnap_3i2subqy6xJust to recap, I don’t believe most men want to be or seek out a serious relationship.  They need to be convinced or persuaded that the relationship with you is better than the alternative.  Now don’t confuse this with trickery and manipulation, that’s definitely not what I’m referring to.  I mean that it’s not natural for them to want it, therefore they have to be shown by your actions, by your very person that being in a relationship with you is something to be desired.  Most women on the other hand, do desire and seek out a relationship naturally; no convincing necessary (often why we find ourselves in the wrong relationship; a discussion for another day).

I’m a woman who doesn’t seek out or desire a relationship naturally.

To reiterate what I mentioned in part 1, if you feel the same or question how ‘natural’ this construct is, know that there is nothing wrong with you and that you are not alone in this feeling.

I enjoy my own company and alone time.  I truly mean it that when I say that.  Of course, it certainly make things enjoyable when you have a partner to go to the movies with, or go hiking, to do the mundane activities of life like grocery shopping, to talk to every night when you come home, to warm your bed, to have sex with regularly.

Having a partner can make those activities fun, make life interesting but that’s not to say that any of those activities are not enjoyable or less valuable with a friend, with your dog or by yourself.

I very much enjoy a ‘romantic’ date night at the movies with my BFF.  I can have the best time hiking with my dog Gannicus; experiencing how happy he is to be in the presence of other animals, to sniff and roll in all the interesting scents.  I actually enjoy the peacefulness of grocery shopping early in the morning when few other shoppers are out, while listening to my latest Spotify playlist.  As much as I love cuddling, I also appreciate being able to starfish on the entire bed and having all the covers for myself.  Plus let’s be honest, you don’t always get regular sex in a relationship either.

A relationship can also provide you with a partner to support and help you achieve your goals and you in turn do the same for them.  Yes, it’s amazing to have a partner to back you in your decisions, to be there for you when things don’t go as planned, but for me not necessary.  I’m lucky enough to be innately ambitious and intrinsically motivated to achieve my goals.  I’m blessed enough to have good friends in my life to remind me that everything will be okay when life gets live.

In part 1, I mentioned that I’ve only recently become open to the concept, “You just haven’t found the right one yet.”  I’m considering the ideal situational that would render that statement true and will share in a future post.  To be clear, I’m more than fine and will thrive regardless of if I meet this ‘right one‘ or not, and so will you.

Do you think it’s important to find joy in life’s activities as an individual?  Do you think it’s possible to be just as happy both in and not in a relationship?

Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 1

What’s wrong with me?

Sure there are men out there who by nature want to be in a relationship; because they don’t like being alone or otherwise, but for the most part men don’t really want to be ‘in a relationship’; married or otherwise.  They commit for us.  They meet someone that they care for and love enough to make a declaration that ‘this is their woman’ because that declaration will make the woman happy, and of course as a result this makes the man happy.  Most women on the other hand are either hard wired or socialized to want to be in a relationship and to seek out a partner that will give it to them.

I’ve come to realize that I am not hard wired or socialized to want a relationship.

It’s not my natural state to desire one or be in one.  When I think about my past relationships and how I ended up in them, it’s very clear.  That point when the declaration came wasn’t at a time when I thought to myself, I really want to be in a relationship with this person; it came around by way of a seemingly ‘natural’ progression of events.  More like ‘Okay, sure. We’re already doing this I guess. Makes sense’ as opposed to ‘I really want to be in this with you’.  I take full responsibility for these actions and choices.  Truth be told the subconscious part of my decision making process was the underlaying socialization that drew me to wanting this scenario for myself.  This is what I was supposed to do.  This is the path I’m supposed to take.  This is the life I’m supposed to want for myself.  Is it really?  I know it is for many, but it doesn’t feel right for me.  What it comes down to is can I think of a reason, one inherent to myself and my values that  makes this life the best choice for me?  And I can’t think of one.

I know what you’re going to say…”You just haven’t met the right one yet”.  Maybe.  I’ll say that I’ve only recently become slightly open to that possibility (to be discussed further in a later post).  If and until then, the point I want to make actually didn’t come from me at all.  It was said to me by a very good friend of mine:

Just because you’re not doing it the way everyone else is, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

It’s the reason why despite the fact that I’ve been reluctant to share my personal opinions and experiences about love and dating, I felt compelled to tweak the direction of this blog.  I’m certain I’m not the only woman out there who feels this way or at the very least there are women who question these constructs, those who could benefit from a conversation or even just hearing a little bit about another woman’s experience.  I feel compelled to open up because you may not be lucky enough to have a friend who will tell you that despite how some men (and women) may want you to feel, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.

What I miss about eating animal products?

It’s been a little over a year since I started my vegan journey, so it seems fitting that this morning I found myself reflecting.  Reflecting on the many changes that I’ve made and how they’ve affected my every day life.  Reflecting on the things I’ve learned to live without and what I’ve gained from living without those things.  Reflecting on some of the questions that I often get asked from curious animal eaters… Questions like, “But don’t you miss it???”  The answer isn’t so clear cut.  Yes and No.

Cheese.

I loved me some cheese.  All kinds of cheese.  Any kind of cheese.  Anytime.  I don’t think I ever found myself in a situation where I felt like, ‘nawww.. I’m not in the mood for cheese’.  I could polish off a ‘snack platter’ with cheese, summer sausage, crackers, grapes, carrots, celery, dip… So easy!  Cheese on bagels.  Cheetos. Poutine.  Cheese burger.  Nacho cheese.  Cheese. Cheese. CHEESE!

These days I barely find myself thinking about cheese.  While I’m not going to site research I am going to share something that I read which makes logical sense to me.  Milk contains hormones from the mother cow which when ingested by her calf, results in the calf wanting to come back for more.  It’s necessary for their survival; so the calf can form an attachment to the mother and so it can grow.  This is what we’re consuming in milk.  Now think about how much milk is in cheese… An even higher concentration of those hormones.  What happens when I ingest those hormones?  Well I want to eat more cheese of course.  It’s an addiction.  After my first two weeks of not consuming cheese I no longer desired it.  Previously, it would have been impossible for me not to grab a handful of cheese if a platter presented itself in the lunch room at work, but now I look at it and I feel nothing.

Of course there are options if you still crave cheese (some better than others).  Field Roast makes some delicious Chao slices which I’ve found to be pretty darn close to cow’s cheese – I’ve used it many times to make a grilled cheese, tomato and cubanelle pepper sandwich and on a veggie or black bean burger (amazing!).  You can also get nut cheese, which I have yet to purchase but I have successfully made my own cashew nut cheese – which is a lot easier than it sounds (Jenny Mustard has a super easy video on this).  I’ve also found using hummus works well in some places where I would have previously used cow’s cheese. For example on a bagel (credit to Kalyn Nicholson who suggested this in a video).  As the ‘cheese’ layer in a layered mexican dip.  To add a ‘cheesy’ spread to my tortilla wrap or quesadilla before adding the fixins’.  I usually use a flavoured hummus, most often a spicy one in the case of the mexican dip but any hummus works just as well.

What I want to make clear here is that I was a lover of cow’s cheese and I never imagined that I would ever give it up but for me at least, it wasn’t nearly as challenging as I had imagined.  Besides living a life more aligned with my personal values the other bonus that I’ve gained from giving up cow’s cheese is not consuming all of that fat that comes along with cow’s cheese.  It’s not like when I had cow’s cheese I was consuming in moderation, oh no, it was excessive.  Who can stop at just one handful of cheese cubes?  Not this girl!  Now I no longer have to deal with that temptation — It’s freeing.

Sweet Treats.

When I say treats I’m not referring to candy.  I’m talking about donuts, chocolate croissants, brioche, cakes, cupcakes, chocolate bars, muffins etc.  Now don’t get it twisted, you can certainly get these animal-free and you can bake them yourself too.  They taste just as amazing as their animal-positive counterpart without the guilt.  There are vegan friendly shops like the Vegan Danish Bakery where I got the most decadent chocolate coconut cream cake for birthday cake this year and you can quickly search the internet on your phone to find vegan options at many of your favourite coffee shops and restaurants.

It’s not so much that I miss the treats themselves, because I can still get them.  What I miss is the ease at which I could access these treats before.  What I miss is how readily available they were.  Of course there is where you find the silver lining.  Because these treats are not as easy to access, it means I consume less of them.  Far healthier for my sugar levels as well as my waistline.  No longer is it so easy to grab a muffin or a donut with my coffee at Tims or a sweet treat from Starbucks.  It’s so much easier not to swipe one (or two) of every dessert at the table during our monthly BBQs at work.  It’s so much easier not to take two or three cupcakes at the party because unless I’ve prepared by bringing my own baked good to gathering (which I often do), there’s nothing for me on the dessert spread.

You can also purchase ready baked sweet treats at the health food store or sometimes even a regular grocery store.  Sweets from the Earth makes some of the most amazing animal-free baked goods that are sold in many health food stores.  My favourites are their cupcakes and whoopie pies but store bought vegan treats can come with a higher price tag.  This is understandable considering the product is for a smaller market, less volume will be sold and a profit must be made but this also means I have to choose how often I purchase and as a consequence how often I consume these treats wisely.  For the record, I’m not sad about it.  It’s far easier to say no, when you don’t have an option and I’m sure my pancreas is doing a happy dance right about now.

There are a few other things that I miss.  Seafood for example, mostly shrimp and lobster but these weren’t animals I consumed very often, so they’re less of a challenge.  I also miss how easy it used to be to pick a restaurant when I wanted to eat out.  Granted, you can find something vegan friendly to eat on almost any restaurant menu.  I even found something at an oyster bar in the Distillery District.  I’ve learned to plan ahead and check out the menu online first as well as committed to memory the animal-free items at fast food joints that I frequent.

What’s more important than the things I might miss are the things that I’ve gained.  I feel awake.  You’ll notice that I’ve said ‘animal’ and ‘cow’ frequently throughout this post where normally you might have just said ‘meat’ or ‘cheese’. I feel like I was oblivious to what I was eating before… Yes it is meat, but it was a cow at one point and it was killed for me to eat.  I feel like I should at least acknowledge that it was previously a living, breathing cow, before it was meat.

I feel like I am moving my life in a direction that is more closely aligned with my values.

I feel conscious.

I feel free.