Tag Archives: dating after divorce

100+ Follows!

tickertape

WOOHOO!! I received word a few weeks ago that I reached a milestone of 100 followers…I believe it’s 104 today. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so grateful to all of you who read my musings and who are on this journey with me as I evolve into a more conscious human being and navigate this world of mine as a single mom, yoga teacher, writer and budding novelist. Phew! That’s a lot isn’t it? Geez. And that doesn’t even touch my day to day life juggling needs as a FT mom and being single: striving to stay positive, focussed, motivated and find time to eek in a little fun, love, travel, adventure. You know, what we all seek—the spice in our rice, the music that makes us want to dance, or the moment our heart races when we recognize a person as a dear friend or potential ‘one’ that makes life so much more than just life. You know?

 

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you—new and old followers—of NavigatingVita. Since I started this blog August 26, 2011 a lot has changed in my life. My divorce became official. I broke up with a man that I thought I might marry. (The first man I had kissed in 15 years since my husband, so maybe I needed more experience dating too…) I joined a support group. I began and finished 4 yoga trainings. I now teach yoga. I wrote a novel. Yup, after taking a 15 year hiatus from creative writing after I completed my first novel in grad school, well, I jumped back in. I wrote a novel that was inspired by a true story uncovered when I was a newspaper reporter in the North Carolina mountains, moons ago. And, I started writing another novel. (See excerpt here.) I’ve travelled a lot: England, Italy (3 x), Spain, Czech, Hawaii (3x) Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico…And stumbled upon some cool experiences, such as being on the Queen Latifah show as a Contestant # 3 for her Dating Game Show. A well-intentioned neighbor, who happened to be a producer for her, decided I needed help finding a date since I rarely get out except to take or do yoga. It was a hilarious experience! And even with the help of Queen Latifah, her bachelor chose the grandmother out of the three contestants because she was the one who talked dirty and promised sex on the first date. (Men, is that all that it takes? Maybe for another blog post, but seriously?! My kids were watching too, could NOT go there. Hmmm.) Here I am last Feb. embarrassed after Queen Latifah tried to insinuate that I was a southern good girl, but not that good. Go figure. Still didn’t get the date! Probably a good thing. 🙂
The Queen Latifah Show Season 2

So, what can I say? Life is good. Life is challenging. Life can be upsetting and then suddenly delicious. It can become overwhelming and tedious and boring and then suddenly beautiful without words sufficient to express that beauty or the enormous amount of gratitude felt. Throughout it all: throughout the disappointments of agents not accepting my work, and then the high of one who does— or the boy who breaks my heart so completely that I can barely function … And of course my boys who are my anchor and mean everything to me. Throughout it all, I write as a means to seek, to find my center, to garner a balance, catch my breath and to embrace compassion, patience and forgiveness. And…still find time to dance and travel—at least once a  year! This is what motivates all my blog posts in one way or another. Even if indirectly as I am somewhat private. If I write about how to discover your worth and uncover hidden, sabotaging beliefs, trust me, it’s because I need to write about that topic due to poor or impulsive choices. If I write about how yoga enhances creativity and helps bash self-doubt, it’s likely because I’m teaching too much, not practicing daily yoga and therefore, finding it hard to carve out time every day to feel entitled to write that novel. Who do I think I am, right? So, I often write about what I need to learn. It’s the same when I teach yoga as each week there is a theme to my classes: forgiveness, acceptance, surrender, strength, combating anger, staying open, trust, faith, etc. You get the idea. I teach and write about what I need to learn. And if any of this has resonated with you, I’m truly honored.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

I’m sending so much love & light & laughter to you all. Life is a trip—and one only worth navigating with dear friends. Thank you for the support.

With gratitude,

Laura x

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Dating a Single Mom: What NOT To Do

knocking

So you’ve got your eye on a hot, single mom? Maybe this is new territory for you? Or, perhaps you’ve dated another single mom, so you think you’ve got this down. I’ve got news for you. There is no one-size-fits all model of woman, mother, or single mom for that matter. Just like you don’t want us to make assumptions about you, don’t make assumptions about any of us. I’ve been a full-time single mother for nearly seven years. I have a 7-year-old and a 14-year-old whose father lives abroad. My boys have only met one man in 7 years, as I’m VERY picky about who comes into their lives. I’ve only dated 3 men, all were friends first. With that said, I do go on dates. Over the years, girlfriends have turned to me for advice. The other day, when I was sharing why I broke off a date because he didn’t confirm for Saturday until Friday at 8 p.m.—while also asking me to drive to him—my newly separated girlfriend laughed and said I had high standards. Well, I’ve learned the hard way. If he was someone who thought I was special and cared about how my life works, he would have confirmed earlier, so I could hire a sitter, and then driven to me. (I will likely be spending more money than he will, at $18/hour for a sitter, and shouldn’t be asked to drive 30 minutes each way to see him.)

I’ve learned that saying no to an inconsiderate man, is saying yes to me, and making room for a thoughtful one to come in. My girlfriend made a good point, however. Some men may not be very aware. Even some divorced dads have little idea about the life of a full-time single mom. My Saturday night date that I cancelled, had kids in college, knew I was a single mom, so I assumed he’d be more considerate. But perhaps his ex-wife had done the lion share of parenting? Who knows. And some men, who have never had children, or who share custody of children with an ex nearby, may be good guys, but could benefit from a road map to win the heart of a single mom. Perhaps you are a good guy, who falls in one of the above categories. If so, this is for you.

If you’ve got your eye on a special single mom, DON’T do any of the following:

  • Assume she is desperate and lonely.
  • Always call her the day of—or the night before—to make a date.
  • Assume, since she looks hot in a bikini on the beach, or might have smiled at you while in said bikini, or while working out at the gym, that it’s OK to knock on her door late at night to surprise her with the gift of becoming friends with benefits.
  • Friend her, hang out with her, find out the schedule of when her ex-husband has the kids, and then wait (sometimes months) to ask her out until the day the kids are off with their dad.
  • Ignore her when she has the kids back, and then suddenly appear again when kiddos are gone. This strategy works! She feels how special she is to you.
  • IF she agrees to go out with you for the first time when kids are with their dad, assume she will have sex with you. Go ahead, tell her you love her. Pressure her too.
    (Just don’t be surprised if she gives you a kiss goodbye and waits to see if your ‘love’ lasts until next week, when she has her kids again.)
  • IF you are the lucky man that she actually starts dating on the rare week her kids are with their father, FREAK OUT the following week. Go radio silent and don’t call or text for weeks after the kids return. Assume she’s planning your marriage and father-and-kid nights for you. (Um, NOT Likely.)
  • But maybe you’re ready for those father-and-son nights? Maybe you already know her and her kids, because you were friends first, and you’re ready? Hmmm…Go ahead and Pressure her to let you hang out with the family the week you start dating. She didn’t really mean what she said about not introducing anyone to the kids right away. Right? Not YOU. YOU are different. Therefore, ignore her wishes and show up during the week with pizza and start rough housing with her kids while she’s at the gym or in the shower. How could you hurt her or them, right? Not YOU. What did she say about her ex-husband being a really great guy…until he suddenly wasn’t? She isn’t really scared about starting a relationship. Aren’t all single moms desperate to re-marry? She’ll be fine. Right? (Wrong. Start listening more and stop projecting and assuming.)
  • Disrespect her time with her children. You like her, right? She’s sexy. She’s smart. She’s funny. She must be a strong and caring mother, too. You’re crazy about her. So text her ALL the time. Seriously, who cares if she told you that during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. she focusses on her kids. You’re more important, right? She’d rather talk with YOU and ignore her kids and not continue with her routine, of, what was it anyway? Oh yeah, dinner, homework, bath, book, bed. Who cares about all of that anyway? After a few dates, YOU and YOUR NEEDS are more important.
  • Ask her to text nude pics to you. Text her during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. too, so one of her kids might see your note. That’s HOT.
  • Send her a nude pic, or start sexting. This ALWAYS works—especially during dinnertime, during the school week.
  • Get mad when she doesn’t get back to you right away. Who does she think she is?!
  • Become overly needy, pushy and nagging. She should drop everything, put on a short skirt and heels, hire a sitter, at last notice, and RUSH out to service you! F those kids anyway. Right?! That’s the message you need to send her.
    ###


Hopefully, you can’t relate to any of the above. In my humble opinion, there is a huge misconception about dating single moms. The cool thing about dating a strong, independent single mom, is that most of us aren’t clingy. Most of us have our act together. We are focussed on our kids and our careers. We have likely broken away from a destructive or unhealthy relationship and know what we want. We want love, compassion, kindness, a good listener and some FUN. Yes, we like to have fun too—even if we have to plan it ahead of time. If she thinks you are special, she will make time for you. If you ask her to pop out on a Wed. night to go to a concert, that night, and then disrespect her when she can’t go—she isn’t the gal for you. Go date someone 15 years younger without kids…But remember, younger women without children usually WANT to have kids some day. While the independent single mom wants to get to know you slowly without bringing you into the fold of her children—that younger woman may pressure you for more time, marriage and kids before she’s 30. So figure out what you want. And if you want a single mom, tell her why. Why is SHE special? And not because she looks good in a bikini. Tell her what you see in her. She is so busy taking care of her kids, taking care of their needs and raising their self esteem, (and might have an ex who doesn’t appreciate her), that hearing a kind word will make her love for you grow exponentially. Wait for her to let you in. Let it be on her terms. If she lets you in right away, (which I’ve only done once) that doesn’t mean she wants to marry you. She just feels something amazing, instinctually trusts you and sees good in you—and you are a very lucky man. If she needs a few months before introducing you to the kids or before sleeping with you, remember, she’s been hurt. She needs to trust you. If you win her trust and are kind and considerate, she will love you with so much joy and gratitude you will feel like you’ve won the lottery. The independent single mom usually knows what’s important in life: kindness, laughter, compassion, joy. She doesn’t care if you take her to a fancy restaurant. She isn’t demanding. A kind word, a picnic, a back rub and she’s BEYOND happy. She’ll like you for you. She’s very picky. She’s not looking for an exorbitant bank account. She’s looking for something harder to achieve. She’s looking for a good man. She may even inspire you to be a better man.

So, hang in there.  She’s worth it.

Queen Latifah, My Matchmaker? You Decide!

QueenLatifahshow

This Valentine’s Day I will likely be celebrating with two handsome loves of my life. No, I’m not seeing two men simultaneously! I’ll be having an indulgent meal: pasta, chocolates and gelato with my two boys before they go ski with Dad. So, I won’t be sad this Valentine’s Day—but I have to admit, it wouldn’t suck to have a bit of romance in my life, either!

So, with that in mind, I agreed to be a guest on The Queen Latifah show when her show directer and friend called. If you want someone to laugh AT, tune in! It airs February 12 and March 26th. (Go to her website to find local times/channels.)

Queen Latifah resurrected the Dating Game show that was on TV from 1965-1986, in order to level the playing field for some of her celebrity friends. According to my friend and director Gene Bernard, Queen Latifah was successful with previous Dating Game segments on her show helping celebrities meet “non-biz” people. (You can see clips from her segments with Sheryl Underwood, Florence Henderson and Lamorne Morris here.)

The idea, according to Gene, was to help celebrities meet potential dates in a way that allows them to genuinely find out if they have anything in common and assess real chemistry. Queen Latifah thought the original Dating Game show set-up—with a bachelor or bachelorette behind a curtain, with three contestants on the other side who don’t know anything about the bachelor or bachelorette—did this. Blind dates with her friends might not go as well, as some people might not be as authentic in their conversation once they know someone is in the biz.

I have to admit, the show was so much fun to do and silly and I’m glad I did it! At first, however, I wasn’t sure I should do it, I mean, my boys would likely watch it. But then I thought, why not? How bad could it be? Gene reassured me it would be harmless. A few months earlier I had turned down a NBC producer who asked me and my Ex to be on a reality TV show for 6 weeks. (How that happened or how they found me, I still don’t know!…) While the potential money sounded great, and I knew that my EX and I would be fine together as we’re still friends, we both thought the idea of being dropped into a jungle with 7 or 8 other divorced couples who might actually tear us down, or act dramatically, or bring up touchy topics within our divorce—that our boys might see … Well, there isn’t enough money on the planet to make that pain worthwhile.

Gene insisted that this harmless dating game wouldn’t get me in trouble with my boys. So with the hopes of jumpstarting a little romance, I said ok—with one caveat—I wouldn’t be too flirty or sexually suggestive in my answers as I knew my boys would later watch. 🙂 

The Queen Latifah Show Season 2

Well, so much for good intentions!

Watch the show to see how Queen Latifah twisted my answers into suggestive innuendo! And, the audience roared with every embarrassed face I made!

What can you do? 🙂 I can’t say a love connection was made, but it was silly, light-hearted fun—something this single mom doesn’t get enough of these days. And, I got to meet some amazingly talented people. In the green room, during hair and makeup, I sat next to Sheila E. Hello! How amazing is she?

So, perhaps I didn’t meet my soulmate, but the producers gave me a very cool gift. Before they chose me as Bachelorette Number 3, they asked me to shoot a video to explain what I am looking for in the love of my life. I had never done that before! I’m so busy writing my novel, teaching yoga and raising two boys solo, that I hadn’t given it much thought. Isn’t that sad? The only quality in a man that I knew I absolutely had to have is respect. As a single mom, I can’t respond to last minute invites, late night texts/calls, etc. as I often have to hire a sitter ahead of time. But really, isn’t that a given? I mean, shouldn’t ALL women expect that?! It’s not exactly soulmate material to call ahead and set up a date. Sigh, my standards after living in Los Angeles, must have been lowered! So, to make this video, I dug deep, and came up with a great list of qualities in the person I’d like to meet. Qualities such as a good sense of humor, a good listener, positive, NOT A GOSSIP, a music lover, affectionate, likes kids, creative, balanced (doesn’t drink too much, work too much, exercise to extreme, but has his own interests and respects that I have mine) outdoorsy, spiritual, open heart, open mind, yin and yang personality: so can camp and hike and appreciate my bohemian heart, but also will consider traveling to Europe with me, going to a museum or dining out. Or, in the very least, be a bit amused/accepting of  my Gemini multi-faced personality. So, in the end, making this list has helped me be a lot more discerning with who I might let into my life. Maybe he’s out there? And, in the end, I had a fun time on the show!

I hope all of you get warm Valentine’s hugs & kisses—even if they come from kiddos and/or furry friends. It’s all love. ((<3))

Love & Light ~

Laura, xo

Single Moms ARE Sexy: A Man’s Perspective

kissingmom

This past Sunday, as I was packing up the car for my son’s 3rd soccer game of the weekend, a neighbor popped over. He’s single, younger and been a friend since I moved in the hood five years ago. The conversation began about him, as he’s trying to decide if he could get married or survive having kids with his girlfriend. He knew that this weekend was hectic for me, as we saw each other earlier in the week and when he shared his fun weekend plans, I shared mine: attending a yoga workshop and working on a magazine article and a PR project. But I also had to squeeze in long road trips Saturday and Sunday afternoons for a soccer conference an hour away. He laughed as I struggled with a soccer ball and a folding chair and said: “See, dogs are SO much easier than kids!”

I just chuckled thinking how I hadn’t showered after my 8 a.m. yoga class and probably looked like the poster child for contraception. I replied, “Well, parenting is a club that requires insanity to join. Kids ARE terrorists, but they’re worth it!”

I figured the conversation was over, as we typically banter as I’m shuffling kids in and out of my house, or am parking my car, or on my bike returning from the strand. We never have terribly long talks, although we’ve been neighbors and friends a while.

He then surprised me by walking over and beginning a very serious conversation, that, not only made my day—but helped to renew my faith in dating, and in men in Southern California, in general.

First of all, I have ideas about what men who have never married and are without children would want—and I just don’t imagine that I’m on their list. AT ALL.

My friend gave me a gift that day of a perspective I hadn’t considered. And, he helped me see that by pursuing balance: by attending to my boys’ needs, as well as my own dreams and my own needs, I was on the right path.

It was just what I needed to hear, as I venture into my first attempt at dating in almost 15 years.  I hate to say it, but I’m a complete dating albatross from the 90’s. I met my husband in 1997, fresh out of a very serious relationship. I met him the day I moved to Atlanta from New York for an editor position. Even though I didn’t date him for 3 months, and stayed ‘just friends,’ he was the first date I had when I was ready. We were engaged shortly afterwards. Flash forward 10 years later. He has his mid-life crisis, finally leaving for good when our youngest is eight months old and staying permanently in Europe. Shellshocked from an international move, still breastfeeding and worried sick about my other son, the idea of dating, was just ridiculous. For nearly two years, I just kept my focus on taking care of the boys, staying positive and treading water. My first date, was actually a job interview, as I wanted to be an editor with his publishing house. Instead, we ventured into a very serious relationship that mirrored a marriage. So, as you can see, I have NO experience in casual dating—especially in a cool, Southern California beach town.

My neighbor, in his attempt to talk about his fears, ended up giving me an amazing gift from his perspective—which really touched my heart. I hope it does yours, too, especially if you’re a full-time single mom, like me.

The gist of his message was this: single men who have never married, want to know what their girlfriends will be like as mothers. They want crystal balls. They are terrified that their girlfriends, who were so cool and fun as singletons, will become obsessed and possessive with the children and never allow anyone to babysit. They have seen friends who rarely go out or go on vacation sans children. They have witnessed fun and intimacy drain out of their friends’ marriages after children arrive. They want to know that the future will hold moments of intimacy, excitement, travel and calm. They also want to know how their girlfriends will interact with their future children—but of course there is no way of knowing. So, when they see a single mom who has found ways to incorporate balance her life—it’s inspiring, hopeful and attractive. In fact, a woman who raises her kids solo, while also hiring sitters regularly, pursuing her passions and taking care of herself—while still finding time to be present with her children—is very attractive. It’s proof that fun, intimacy and individual pursuits won’t be forgotten once kids enter the picture.

Wow. Really?!

Here’s how the conversation began. Initially, he kept getting interrupted, as I was encouraging my 5-year-old to put on his shoes by himself (in the house) AND  to go up to his room to get his jacket. As I kept yelling through the garage doors: “I Can Hear You! Don’t worry!” to my 5-year-old, who is scared to run up to the 2nd floor alone without hearing my voice, my friend said: “My brother was just like that-scared of monsters. My mom used to yell at him. She yelled at all of us, all the time. You talk with your boys, not at them. You also don’t negotiate. It’s pretty cool.”

I was speechless. Who knew he had time to observe my parenting style?

He then told me how terrified he is of having kids. As I mentioned, he’s seen so many friends become miserable and disconnected after becoming parents.

When he touched on the reality of parenting being a struggle for intact couples who also have family nearby, I began to feel uneasy. I don’t like harping on my ‘story’ as I know that I am more than this story and it doesn’t define me. But the reality is, I have no family here and with an ex in Europe, I don’t get weekends off, like most divorced parents. I’m still a bit insecure about this, and imagine that I’m insanely unattractive to most men.

He then reiterated that he’s known me for five years and how cool it is that I hire my nanny and trust her. The reality is, I’m lucky that I can afford her. I spent much of my mother’s inheritance on sitter fees, but felt like it was an insurance policy for sanity. When my youngest was only 3, I spent a month in Italy. It was insanely expensive, but I’m glad I did and my boys were fine. It had been six months without a break, all of us needed separation. I had felt that it looked poorly on me as a mother. This sweet person was telling me that it, in fact, was the opposite.

He reiterated that single moms who are balanced, in shape, patient mothers, and still find time for fun, are incredibly attractive to single men. He encouraged me to not just date divorced dads who may be much older, a bit scared and emotionally unavailable from their divorces, and, perhaps, secretly want women to help them care for their children. Without saying it explicitly, he encouraged me to not sell myself short and to open myself up to more possibilities.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but isn’t that wonderful to hear?

So, my fellow single moms. Take heart. Focus on yourself, as much as your children. Be patient and present with your children when you are with them—as I’m sure most of you are—but pursue your dreams and your needs too. It’s not being selfish, it’s being loving to yourself. And as single moms, it’s rare that anyone asks us how we are, or what we need, isn’t it? So maybe we need to be our own advocates. And when we focus on these things, and making a better life on our own—and NOT on finding a significant other—maybe that is the right path towards more laughter, love, light and a compassionate circle of friends.

L. 

xo

Striking a Balance

It’s a delicate balancing act, especially as a single mom, to simultaneously take care of yourself and also be present and focused on your children. The two goals constantly come in conflict with one another—and yet experts often advise us to do one, or the other, or both, with little instructions on how to do so. For instance, earlier in the week, when working on a Lifechangers article for Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers show, I interviewed Rebecca E. Eberlin, Ph.D., a family psychologist who runs “Navigating Divorce For Your Children” workshops at the UCLA Commons in Santa Monica, Calif. She insisted, and I tend to agree, that when parents are in the process of getting a divorce, they need to focus 100% of their choices on how they will affect their kids. In fact, she listed focusing on yourself and not on your children as one of the top 5 mistakes that most divorcing parents make. After speaking with her for an hour, I could see her point completely.

Taking Care of Yourself

Photo by Jennifer Suarez

On the flip side, are you (like me) sometimes frustrated when someone says: “you need to take care of yourself”?

If you’re a single mom—especially those of us with small children, full-time care of those children, and little family support—the idea of taking a spa day seems nearly impossible. But taking care of yourself means very different things to different people. One of my favorite bloggers, Tracie Louise, eloquently explained some of the ways she takes care of herself in her latest post “Being Selfish”.

I know that I can’t always afford to get manicures, facials, massages, or go on shopping sprees, for instance. I do know, however, that it’s possible to squeeze in time during the week to go on a run (even if it requires a three-year-old in the stroller); take a bath (hopefully without a baby, but trust me, he’s snuck in before!); meditate; write; or take a community yoga class. Another selfish thing for me is to ignore the dinner mess and mounds of laundry and snuggle with my boys while watching a favorite show.

I think the biggest goal for me, and perhaps for some of you too, is to strike that delicate balance—when the pendulum finally rests at the center—between focussing on my children and their needs and exploring my own and having a bit of fun. During the first year of my separation I may have used the excuse of focussing on my kids to hibernate. Granted, my youngest was still a baby, but the only time I spent out was either pushing the stroller while he slept; cheering on the oldest on the soccer field; volunteering in the classroom; or writing an article at a coffee shop. It was quite hard for me to reach out to others, take exercise classes, or even sleep well—as I slept with the baby each night. I put on a good face, but I was literally getting by, moment by moment. Almost two years later, I try to ensure that I continue to cheer my oldest on at concerts or at soccer games; volunteer once a week at school; work; exercise; meditate; and find time for fun with the special person in my life. The effort is well worth it.

If you are where I was in my first year of separation—where you can barely muster up energy to do anything for yourself—I dare you to write down five things you’d like to incorporate into your life with a roadmap to make them happen. Even if it’s just sleeping in once a month. If this is too easy, I dare you to go even further: write down one thing you can do every day just for you. You’d be surprised how you can sneak some “me-time” in—even when you don’t have sitters or you have too much work piling on. Yesterday, with the baby sick at home, I thought it would be impossible to exercise or meditate. Well, a snuffly nose makes sleeping sitting up easier, so I put the little guy in the stroller and took off for an hour run while he slept soundly. In the evening, as the boys were watching a show after dinner, I snuck to my room and meditated for five minutes. I let myself focus on gratitude and putting a negative person’s actions and judgmental words out of my life. When the boys came down to find me, I was able to be present with them and even laughed when the youngest spilled juice on the floor. So, what I’m trying to say—in my characteristically verbose way—taking time out for yourself helps you spend more quality time with your kiddos. It’s hard to snap at the little ones after you mediate isn’t it?

(And, since I know how very different clinical depression is from mere exhaustion or sadness, please know that it’s not always possible to take care of yourself or pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Some of your friends and family members may not understand and can be creating more pressure for you. Read this information from the Mayo Clinic for information. If you think you are slipping into a clinical depression, please call your doctor. Here’s another article with online resources to help. )

For the rest of us…there are no more excuses. I’m adding one more item to my weekly for-me wish list. How about you?

The Jugglenaut

Yes, you read right: jugglenaut. My sisters and brother can tell you I like to make up words. (Think muddle instead of mud puddle among a zillion others I coined in my youth.) So, today is the perfect day to describe me as a jugglenaut. As you may know, a juggernaut is a force to be reckoned with. Or as Mr. Webster defines it: “a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path.”

Well, a single mom on a quest to get everything done in order to have a few hours of romance on a week-day evening, is a jugglenaut. For example, here’s how my day is going so far:

6:30 a.m. : Wake by a kick and I realize that both boys are in my bed with me. (I recall that the older came in at 10, then the three-year-old at 3 a.m.)

6:30 – 7:55 a.m.: Rush to make breakfast (yogurt, rasberries and orange slices); prepare a lunch my picky, older son will eat: roast beef sandwich with homemade thousand island dressing, marinated olives and rasberries (I know, he’s spoiled rotten.); feed all animals: fish, cat, gecko; get dressed; wash face; make bed; yell at boys to make beds; take out trash.

8 a.m.: Race to drop off my older son at school. Come back home for 45 minutes. In that time I do a load of laundry; clean the dishes from the night before; text babysitter to confirm she’s on for the evening; figure out what’s for dinner; get my younger son dressed; pull together cashmere samples (long story); send a quick note back to romantic interest; and just after getting into the car, discover three-year-old had a huge poop! Go back in, change Jamesy, then start over. Rush, now late, to our weekly mommy-and-me class.

9:30 – 11:30: Bake cookies; sing songs; chat with other moms; and play games with my son at mommy and me.

11:45 a.m.: My son and I deliver a decorated cookie to an adorable, older gentleman who is predominately stuck in his room at the moment.

Noon: Drop off three-year-old at day care and race back home.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.:  Email a few prospects for my Fit Pregnancy story; line up structure for my gastric bypass article; email my producer at Dr. Drew for an upcoming article; tweet a bit to promote blog and other blogs; read about how to monetize blogs; nibble on almonds, apricots and a granola bar.

1:30 – 1:45: Chat with BFF on phone as I walk to my son’s school.

1:45 – 2 p.m: Nag older son about not eating lunch; force him to eat lunch; force him to start homework and drink water.

2 p.m. – 2:55 p.m.: Race to the strand and run for 3 miles and do bar ballet stretches on pier. (Had to after an insane yoga class two days before! I feel like my muscles will somehow harden forever after that class where grown men were crying!)

3 p.m.: Race to take older son to therapy.

Phew! So, that’s where I am right now, sitting in the therapist’s office. What’s next until 5:30 p.m.? Pick up younger son from daycare; race home; prep a yummy dinner for them since babysitter can’t cook (roasted organic chicken and roasted shallots, onions, carrots, garlic, olives and fingerling potatoes); SHOWER; FIND A SEXY OUTFIT; get older son in suit for his dance; kiss younger son goodnight; give babysitter nite-nite directions; drive older son to his Christmas cotillion and confirm his ride home and … then … SNEAK AWAY. I’m sneaking out for a date with a gorgeous man. All this running around will seem very worthwhile as I’m sipping a spritzer and am sitting across from him. 🙂

Help from Dr. Drew AND Dr. Pat Allen! What a Week!

Photo By: Thomas Hawk

Ok, so this week has been wonderful and nuts! Sorry for not writing in sooner … Today I’m getting filmed for the Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers show! Earlier this week I filmed little snippets of Jamesy at bedtime, who has been a horrible sleeper since day one! Their top sleep expert and Dr. Drew’s film crew is coming over tonight to give me the tools to get this little guy sleeping on his own by his 3rd birthday! I’m SO excited. I just can’t imagine sleeping in my OWN bed again every night! How many nights have I woken up at 4 a.m.—yet again—smooshed into the slat of Jamesy’s bunkbed, fully dressed, without brushing my teeth! Ah, I’m SO excited and grateful for the help Dr. Drew!

And, last week I interviewed Dr. Pat Allen, best selling author and therapist for the Millionaire Match show, who really gave me tough, straight talk. She minced NO words when giving me the tools I need to get back out into the dating world. Her advice will help all women who want to avoid falling for the wrong guy yet again.

So, stay tuned! I can’t wait to update ya’ll on both of these experts! Wow, great advice for dating AND a sleep expert to help me get my little guy sleeping on his own. 2012 might just be my best year yet!!

Lots of love,

Laura x

The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

A wise friend told me this and I’ve repeated it to several women recently. I’ve had so many conversations over the past three weeks with a variety of new and old girlfriends who seem be to stuck or tempted by the grass is greener ideology. For instance, one married woman lamented to me that she was a bit jealous of my single status. “I miss getting butterflies while getting ready for a new date! I miss the first kiss, the romance. You’re so lucky.”

Another married woman said to me that she was tempted to cheat. “I can’t stand the monotony. I get criticized for not making a stellar dinner. He points out if I’ve gained a pound, but just sits and watches football and drinks too much. Where’s the fun in that?”

I understand. Really.

Interestingly, it’s not always rosy for the separated and divorced women out in the dating world. Some of my divorced and separated friends seem to be on collision courses. In their frantic search for a new man, they are with people who have addictions or just treat them poorly because that’s who they are. I can’t quite get it.

“I just can’t be without a man,” said one woman who is with the wrong person and knows it. (A person addicted, mentally unstable and unable to NOT hurt her.)

“But maybe he’s treating me this way because he’s confused,” said another who is putting up with so much cruelty from a man that it’s unbelievable and too painful for me to watch anymore.

So I told these women in my life two things (not that I’m a savant, but taking time off from men can really clear your head!)

One: “The Grass is Greener Where You Water It.”

Two: (aka Gloria Steinem): “A Woman Without a Man, is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle.” Think about it. (By the way, I was reading Steinem’s book Revolution From Within in the kitchen of a newspaper where I was reporter in Maryland back in 1992/93 when the publisher walked in, looked at me, and said, “Shit.” He spit out his tobacco in a nearby trash can and continued, “I knew you were smart, but now you’re going to start asking for a raise. Put that Steinem crap away and get back to work.” KID YOU NOT!)

I know I can’t help my friends with their serious issues. (And I understand them as I recognize them in myself.) I can’t make them see that they are lovable. I can’t make them see that they are beautiful. I can’t make them understand that instead of quickly demanding a man commit to them, they might want to take a breather and decide whether or not that new man is worthy of their commitment. How do I help them realize that they are wonderful and deserve love that doesn’t hurt?

I guess I can’t do that. I can only take care of myself. So, I’ve decided to take a time out from men. Why not? This past month four married men propositioned me. (Seriously? What is UP with that?!)

Anyone who knows me well knows that even the most chiseled man couldn’t get my number if he has a wedding ring on. And there lies another problem … many men nowadays just take them off.

But this isn’t the main reason why I’m taking a time out. I’m not as jaded as I could be! No, I’m just exhausted. So thank you to the friends who want to set me up on dates, but no thanks for now. Taking care of two kiddos solo 24/7 is tiring. I love them dearly and thank God for my boys every day. But there’s only so much space in my life. I’m giving it to them (and me) right now.

Secondly, I’m the personality type (cough, can you say co-dependent?!) that puts another person’s needs WAY before my own. I’ve done it my whole life. Maybe you can relate to that one? I tend to wrap myself around the important person in my life and cater to their needs and put my own very far down the list. It’s time to get re-introduced to myself. I had no idea how bad it was until I was on the phone with one of my best friends, whom I’ve known for 25 years. Here’s how the conversation went:

“I’m SO excited! I’ve decided to hire the nanny and go away for a weekend.” I say to her six weeks ago. (She knew I had been brave and broken up with my first boyfriend since my ex-husband. It’s hard to walk away, but I’m learning to take care of myself.)

Great, where are you going dare devil,” she replies.

“I have no idea.”

“Wow.”

“I know. I’m stumped. I can’t even think of what I want to do or where I want to go.”

There’s a brief pause.

“Is this the same girl who traveled nonstop solo, taking new reporter jobs in random places just to travel. The girl I’d have to track down constantly, who moved to New York on a whim to write and who has at least 25 addresses in my address book?”

“Um, I think so. It’s just been so long you know. I’ve been in lockdown with the kids for two years, I can’t think straight.”

“Yeah. It’s crazy. You don’t even know what you like anymore. But I know who you are and what you like. Wow, you are so lost. Go somewhere, hole up and write.”

I hung up with her and thought about that.

Wow. I really couldn’t think of where I should go or what I should do with any time off. It’s like I had become the caged bird in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It’s not quite that bad, but you get the idea.

At the last minute, I decided to cancel the solo trip for financial reasons, but it got me thinking, I really need to get back to the basics. Instead of taking what little time I have to go out on dates and to search for another someone in my life, I’m better off writing, working out, going to Al-Anon (long story) and getting to know who I am again.  You can’t build up strength on a shaky platform.

So, I’ve decided not to heed the warning of one man whose argument to begin an affair with him started with the fact that I wouldn’t be this attractive forever—presumably to be able to attract the likes of him … How sweet right? Be still my heart.

No, I’m going to take the risk of mother time creeping up on me and adding a few more wrinkles and thwarting hot prospects from entering my life in order to focus on … well … me. For once.

If you’re one of those single mommas who are spinning like a top in the dating world, what do you think? Can you try a time out for sanity’s sake too? Let me know how it goes and please share your tips of survival if you are still venturing out in this crazy dating world. Lots of love and luck to you if you are! x

How NOT to Date a Narcissist

Avoiding narcissistic men in Los Angeles is a bit like trying to avoid the rain in London. Even after interviewing a few experts and reading articles on the topic, it seems that when it comes to narcissists, there just isn’t a one-size-fits all model. That’s why they are so tricky to spot. If they all wore Armani suits, drove Ferraris and name-dropped, it would make life for single women in La La land (or anywhere!) much easier. But narcissists come in all shapes and sizes and really are easy to love—in the beginning. Surprisingly, they may be the men who, on the first dates, are amazingly supportive, good listeners and offer to help you in some way. They literally sweep you off your feet and make you feel incredibly special. This is why single moms, especially, are easy targets for the manipulative narcissist. So, as I venture out into the dating world, I desperately want to avoid falling for these men who, while charming and fun in the beginning, are users, spin-masters, chaos makers, and hurt those closest to them.

In Psychology Today’s cover article “How to Spot a Narcissist,” author Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., does a great job explaining the personality disorder. I like to dig deep and try to understand what lies beneath complex behavior, as it helps me become more compassionate. I didn’t realize, for instance, that most narcissists have a deep fear of not being good enough and are prone to episodes of depression or anxiety. I learned a lot from his article, but I kept thinking that it still didn’t help me, as a newly single woman, be able to spot a narcissist on the first date. I mean, I don’t want to find out that a man is really a jerk six months later when he cheats on me and wreaks havoc on my life. Right? So, how does a woman quickly discern whether the man she meets is the real deal or a narcissistic spin master?

For help, I interviewed Debra Cucci, MA, MFT, a therapist in Los Angeles who also runs support groups for women navigating the dating world in LA. Over the past 20 years, Cucci has become an expert on narcissists as she has counseled many women whose marriages and children have been drastically affected by the devastating fallout from living with one. While it may not always be possible to spot a narcissist on the first date, Cucci insists that there are quite a few characteristics that give away the disorder.

“Their presentation is a facade. They just may be too good to be true,” Cucci explained the other day in her office.

“One way to discern if they are who they portray themselves to be is to ask them (during a first date) ‘What’s the most embarrassing thing in your life?’ This is [a good question] because they tend to pretend that their lives are perfect,” she said.

Looking around her office, I saw many books written by experts on this personality disorder, that I want to read, such as The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller. Cucci explained that a person diagnosed with clinical narcissism is not just a silly person who is vain and self-absorbed. (If that were the case than most of us would have to admit to being a narcissist at one time in our lives!) No, a person with this personality disorder can be extremely dangerous, or in the very least, assured to cause emotional damage to your life and those of your children. This is because they will often do whatever it takes to achieve their goals and feed their inflated sense of self. But when times are hard, a narcissist doesn’t handle it well. So in down times, such as times when there are issues at work, marriages often fall apart as a wife and children typically bear the brunt of the narcissist’s bruised ego. If things aren’t going a narcissist’s way, for instance, he may act out in a variety of ways, like having an affair, being hyper critical of family members, having extreme mood swings, abusing alcohol or drugs, etc.

So with that in mind, I asked Cucci to come up with some telltale signs of a narcissist, that women can look for on the first few dates:

  • A narcissist will blame other people for things that aren’t working in their lives.
  • Does he diss his ex or put other people down often?
  • Narcissists like to play the victim role. Be wary if you hear things such as: “It’s my dad’s fault, he wouldn’t pay for college” or “I didn’t have a choice, I couldn’t get out of it.”
  • Name dropping is an obvious trait of a narcissist. They love to believe that they are special and will try to impress you with who they know.
  • Many narcissists have a love/hate relationship with their mother, as often they have narcissistic moms, who may likely have told them that they were extremely gifted, like her. (This can also be true about having a narcissistic father, but dads tend to be less available emotionally, so one is more affected by their primary care-giver.)
  • Is he predatory, but “in a good way?” Many narcissistic men can be sexy and athletic, giving them the confidence to approach women easily. They tend to have a lot of experience with women and therefore become good predators, “smooth operators” and can charm women—especially those with less dating experience.
  • Is he not able to show sympathy? This is a tricky quality to spot in the early stages of dating a narcissist, as often they pretend to be terribly sympathetic to your plight. But if, once they have you as a sex partner, they no longer seem sympathetic to your life issues, or they are no longer good friends unless their interests are being taken care of, then you know they are a narcissist.
  • Does he make grandiose offers, statements and promises in public, but rarely follows through in private? A narcissist may offer to help you move or babysit your children in front of friends or family, but then forget to follow through a week later.
  • “Narcissists attack you and devalue you if you don’t give them what they want,” warns Cucci. This trait isn’t easily seen in the beginning of a courtship, however. This is why Cucci says it’s important for woman not to have sex with a new man for two months. This seems mighty hard to do! … But she insists that narcissists won’t wait that long.
  • He has nearly 1,000 friends on Facebook, but not that many close, deep friendships with other men.

Did these tips help you? Do you think you’re dating or are in love with a narcissist? Chime in—I’d love to hear from you!

Rooftop Party or Park with my Boys … Decisions, Decisions!

Last week I was actually invited to a party at The Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. (How I managed that, I’m still not sure!) It was perfect timing as I’d been dying to go out and dance for a long time. I remember going to The Standard years ago and how cool the rooftop bar is, the music, the swinging chairs, the mojitos. Well, as you can imagine, I’m not exactly going to The Standard much anymore. But I could picture it like a siren’s call: a nice warm late summer evening, a sleeveless top, tan shoulders, my sexy jeans, heels, a simmering breeze, some thumping Euro Trash music. I visualized myself there and I mustered up the courage to even call a few babysitters. As the day wore on, however, I wondered if I really wanted to go to this party. None of my girlfriends were free, so I’d have to go solo. And sure, I’d like to meet someone, or just dress up and flirt a bit. But anyone I might meet at The Standard would likely have NO idea that nights out during the week for me are extremely rare. I doubt that I’d meet a man at The Standard who wouldn’t be intimidated by the fact that I have two children at home, or that I need to be back by midnight for the sitter. In fact, the only way I’d go to that party is if one of my girlfriends were available and I could just dance, sip a mojito, and enjoy the view. Besides, I just ended my first relationship since my husband. One year after my husband asked for a divorce, I began to date a man. He was the first person I had kissed besides my husband in over 13 years! It was too intense, too wonderful, at times too horrible, too gut-wrenching, too wonderful again and all-consuming. At the end of the day, sadly, loving him hurt too much. Enough said.

So now, a month later, I’m wondering: should I even try to date again?? My boys have been through a lot and I should focus on them right now. So, with that in mind, I hung up my strappy top, my sexy jeans and put away my heels for a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers. I made a picnic dinner, picked up my boys and one of their friends and headed to a local park for an evening playdate/picnic. It was definitely the best decision! No, there was no flirting, no lights, no dancing or mojitos—but my boys had a blast. (And, if you read my post about being haunted by playgrounds, there’s no reason to be in the evening. It’s chock full of dads and working moms who are getting some intense playtime in with their kids after work.)

We lucked into a pick-up baseball game too. While that may be no-big-deal to some kids, it was a huge deal to my nine-year-old William. William has actually never had a baseball lesson before. I could tell by the way this man positioned William and told him how to hold the bat, place his feet, and swing at a certain angle, that he knew what he was doing. I found out later that he’s the baseball coach for a local high school. William was SO excited when he hit a double and coach Mike encouraged him to take up baseball this year. And I was really happy to see this dad in action. (No, he’s not single!) It’s just refreshing to see a dad play intently with his kids. He didn’t pull out his blackberry or his iphone once. He wasn’t holding a beer and talking with another friend while the kids ran around. And his eyes didn’t glaze over while his children talked to him. (All scenes I see often.) No, this guy was playing with all three of his boys and now with William and Coco too. He was hands-on in helping them with the game and with conflicts. I could tell that he’s like this with his kids all the time. He reminded me a bit of my brother-in-law in North Carolina who’s a teacher, coach and a wonderful father. I always chalked up seeing men like that as rare in Los Angeles. You might even say that watching this man renewed my faith a bit about living in Southern California. Maybe there are a few good men here? It’s clear to me that there are some who put their families and their kids first. But it’s also clear to me that I’m not likely to meet a man such as this on a Wednesday night rooftop deck party at The Standard.