Entries in relationships (147)


How We See Ourselves—and How it Hurts Us

A confessional blogger who has frequently written funny stories about her dating experiences for XO Jane stated she’d never write another article about her single status because she wanted to find a relationship. She felt that the more people see her as “the single woman” or “the woman with the funny dating stories,” the longer she’ll stay solo.

If you identify as a single person, she wrote, you’ll stay that way.

The post reminded me of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, a book it took some convincing for me to read. (A book intended for adults written from a dog’s point of view? No, thank you. But count me highly glad someone convinced me otherwise.) In the book, the protagonist—a race-car driver—states that if you think about the racetrack wall, you’ll hit the racetrack wall. Look in your desired direction over the feared outcome.

In other words, he wrote, we manifest what’s before us.

If you think of the worst, you’ll realize the worst. You’ll manifest it. Likewise, we become what we think of ourselves. If you consider yourself shy, you’ll stay a wallflower—or turn into one. If you think of yourself as unattractive, you’ll come across that way.

And in the XO Jane author’s vein, perhaps the way you think of your relationship status—single or paired—accounts for the recently divorced’s tendency to hook up again so quickly: They don’t see themselves as single. Whereas people who have stayed single for a long time, who think of themselves as single and talk about their singlehood, tend to stay that way.

Positive, willful thinking can’t overcome all obstacles. But certainly it can prevent quite a number of pitfalls and a passel of trouble.

After I read the XO Jane author’s post earlier this year, I stopped writing about my relationship status, thinking about myself as single, and talking about my dating experiences. I may have made brief mention of singlehood and dating, but only in context of another subject and only when necessary to making a point.

Further, I reviewed other life intentions to think through ways I could think and act differently to avoid self-sabotage. I’ve got some work to do.

Don’t we all?

What about your life would you like to change? What should you change about your self-concept that would help that change happen?

What do you think?


Things I Love: October 2014

Welcome back, fall!

The temperatures may not have changed much here in Texas, but the days have shortened and the nesting, cozying instincts have begun to stir. Fingers crossed that November brings fire-pit weather.

And here, at the cusp of autumn, I’ve provided a list of what I love in this moment:

Guy Degrenne Teapots

My six-cup Guy Degrenne teapot on my front porch, where I'll take it of a chilly morning. October 5, 2014.

I first encountered a Guy Degrenne teapot at a no-longer-extant restaurant called Bank housed in Houston’s Hotel Icon. A hot-tea aficionado, the restaurant thrilled me by offering loose-leaf teas in these perfect porcelain teapots with insulated metal covers.

That year—about ten years ago by now—I asked for a four-cup version for the holidays and haven’t had a better experience with a teapot. I still use that teapot at the office and have bought a six-cup version for the home.

I use both pots daily.

They steep loose-leaf tea without any side flavors, keep it warm for well longer than it takes me to finish either pot, and wash easily in the dishwasher. The decade-old one works as well as ever, though its insulated metal cover has gotten a little worse for my frequent wear (especially as its felt insulation keeps it from washing). If I do decide to retire it in time, I’ll replace it with a new version of the exact same pot.

Felix Doolittle Personalized Stationery

My beautiful Felix Doolittle personalized stationery, ready for real-mail creation. October 5, 2014.

Heartbreak when my stationer decided to change business plans earlier this year, leaving me in the cold for beautiful, personalized note cards. I love to send—and receive—real mail. I need real stationery on which to do it, I say.

And so: What to do?

Fortunately, Patti Wunder at Easton Place recommended Felix Doolittle. I ordered personalized notecards and writing paper, both of which arrived artfully printed—including the envelopes—and in elegant storage boxes, contents wrapped neatly in resealable cellophane.

Shortly thereafter, I penned my first snail mail with my new treasures and loved the way the paper held ink and how the notes came together for perfectly presented, neat-and-tidy real mail.

Healthy, Hearty Oat Bars

Oat bars hot and fresh from the oven, cooling on the counter before slicing. October 5, 2014.

In truth, I eat these oat bars all year long. Yet as the days shorten into ever-crisper nights, the cinnamon smell of these oat bars baking seems more right than it does at any other time.

These bars, adapted from a recipe from my beloved Victory Meals, which I’ve written about more than once on this blog (here and here, in fact), hit the spot of an afternoon and keep me going well into dinner time.

2 oz. oat bran
6 oz. extra-thick steel cut oats
1 tbsp. cinnamon
½ tbsp. nutmeg
½ tbsp. ginger
2 oz. cacao nibs
1 tsp. coconut oil
2.5 tbsp. water
Juice from ½ orange (or 2.5 tbsp. orange juice)
6 eggs
2 unpeeled Granny Smith apples, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the apples in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  3. Fold the diced apples into the oat mixture.
  4. Pour oat-and-apple mixture into a 8” x 8” parchment-lined baking pan.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, turning once while baking.
  6. Allow to cool and serve warm or refrigerate and reheat before serving (also good cold or room temperature).

Makes two generous, filling servings.

What do you love this month?


Friday Links #3: Great Stuff Worth a Read

Assorted periodicals at my place. October 11, 2014.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, each Friday post will feature fantastic articles, books, and blog posts that I’ve read since the Friday post before. More people should read more great writing, I say.

Happy reading!

  • Years ago, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn gave me a thought-provoking read, and so did this recent article the couple penned about the limitations to our current methods for ending the cycle of poverty—and how we could make a far bigger difference. In short: We have to start earlier.
  • Jon C. Lundell’s meditation from an artist’s perspective on whether art has something to do with beauty and the subjectiveness of the beautiful made me think. Personally, I believe that anything can have beauty from the right perspective.
  • Blame my intellectual-historian background and my work in the marketing field: I love studies like this one, written up by John Beshears and Francesca Gino in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, of human behavior and how to influence better decision making.
  • This post by Joelle about private lives in a public, social-media world sounded a bell for me: As much as this blog, Twitter, and Facebook puts out about me into the world—and as much as I may choose to share off-line—I hold back a great deal more. In fact, I sequester what matters most to me far more often than not. Maybe one day, that will change. But not anytime soon.
  • The fragility and transience and poignancy and preciousness of life have lingered in my thoughts quite a bit lately. And so when I read this post by David Pennington, I read it thrice. Though it made me ache, it helped to know someone else feels the sadness. And I still wonder who wrote the beautiful eulogy from the physics perspective. I want to thank him or her.
  • My humanities-loving heart sang when I read James McPherson’s post marking parallels in “The Wire” to Greek epic—and poignantly drawing conclusions about the need for justice to achieve peace in the world. And I haven’t ever even seen “The Wire.”

I still forget to make note of the fantastic writing I encounter—I haven’t yet mastered the habit. Stay tuned in future weeks for ever better lists!

What have you read recently that I should read?


Bad Advice

If you haven’t read the Heath brothers’ books, including Made to Stick and Switch, you really should. They write entertainingly while providing useful and practical advice on how we can change perspectives and behaviors.

In their book Decisive, they write that thinking through what you’d tell a friend in the same position can provide one way to stop mulling a difficult choice.

I thought of the Heath brothers’ advice when reading an article in Johns Hopkins Magazine about a hilarious blog called Ask the Past by historian Elizabeth Archibald. In her humanities research, Archibald has turned up highly curious—and comical—guidance from the past, including ensuring a cat’s undying loyalty through rubbing its nose and legs with butter for three days straight and lengthening and blackening your hair through slathering it in oil boiled with a decapitated green lizard.

Clearly, we should take advice even from friends and “experts” with grains—spoons, buckets, truckloads—of salt.

Amused, I went to the Twitterverse to ask people about the worst advice they’ve ever gotten.

In response, Will Pora chalked “buy the extended warranty” in the bad advice category. My pal @_melissa pointed out that the commonly heard “just keep doing what you’re doing”—no matter the situation—provides no help whatsoever.

Personally, I found most dating advice completely unhelpful. Most times, I ignored it. When I did take it—including making the man do all the work to further the early-stage relationship, from initial contact to the first move—my attempt at suavity backfired. (In my experience, the guy just assumed a lack of interest due to minimal encouragement and moved along to other options.)

Some of the business advice I’ve gotten has led me down bad paths as well. I’d heard so often that personal lives should stay out of the office that I went through a stint without sharing even the most mundane outside-the-workplace details.

Although I do believe it inappropriate to spill messy, overly detailed personal stories in an office setting, giving insight into why you might seem a little distracted or tired can provide understanding and perspective that help everyone work together more smoothly. (Tip: Nothing is ever purely business. Life happens outside the office that affects what happens in the office. And besides: Work comprises far too much of people’s existence for it to have no personal resonance.)

What bad advice have you gotten? And did you take it?


Friday Links #2: Reading to Get You Thinking

Assorted periodicals in my living room. October 11, 2014.

I started this little experiment in spreading good writing in last Friday’s post, two weeks ago.

I’ll admit: I’ve had too much going on to read as much as usual in recent days, so I’ve only mustered a short link list below. I know I need to rectify this gap. After all, my brain needs feeding.

Without further ado, I’ve listed the thought-provoking items I’ve read since my last Friday edition:

Don’t forget that I’d like you to share your chewy reads, too.

What have you read recently that I should read?