Magic Happens... even at the Salvation Army!

All right. So the other day I realised I was still lugging around reminders and belongings of my ex-boyfriend in the trunk of my car... and it had been exactly a year to the day since it was over. I decided that was pathetic, and it was high time to MOVE ON.

So I drove to the local Salvation Army store, grabbed the bag containing said mementos, and went to the big bin. I couldn't resist one last, long hug of the soft sweater he'd given me that still smelled like him. Sniffly, I tossed it all in.

I went to leave, thoughts of happier times flooding my head. I felt very sorry for myself. Then- something glinting in the sunlight caught my eye. Propped up against the side of the Salvation Army dumpster... a figurine of a knight in shining armour, about ten inches tall. I brought him home with me and cleaned him up, and he now stands on my desk.

The symbolism cracks me up... only once had I disposed of sentiments from the past- did a knight in shining armour present himself. : )

Granted, he hasn't the greatest personality...


Social Networking - - - - -> Social Isolation?

We currently live in the era of 'information overload'. If I have a friend (we'll call him Steve), of course I can meet him for coffee, but I can also text him, e-mail him, chat with him via instant messaging, follow his posts on facebook, twitter and maybe a blog, talk over skype, I'm sure there are some things I am forgetting... and of course the 'classic' means of communication, telephone and mail (aka Snail Mail). We have endless ways to be involved in our friends' lives, it's a wonder we haven't discovered how to utilize telepathy just yet!

As depicted in oh-so-many Austenian melodramas, socializing is a crucial aspect of a twenty-something's life. Young people met and networked through dances, picnics, month-long 'visits' to each other's homes, through neighbors, relatives, church, holidays. (At least this is the impression I get... does anyone know if this was at all realistic?)

Now, most of our social interaction is done from behind the safety of our computer screens and/or cell phones. We can have meaningful conversations with multiple people at once. We are rarely without our cell phones or other electronic devices. Despite all these methods of staying connected, how much of this social time is actually spent WITH people?

How do we meet new people? Now, it's often online, through sites specifically for social interaction- Facebook, MySpace, trillions of dating sites. Though there are all these outlets at our disposal, it seems rather pathetic to me- if humans are by nature social creatures, why do we spend so much time alone, making virtual friends?

I call for a return to real socializing. I may be considered a freak. Frankly, I don't care. I pledge: to call instead of texting, to visit instead of calling if possible. To initiate conversation with random strangers, and that cute guy at the coffee shop instead of staring at my laptop screen and then wondering why I can't meet anyone. To utilize Facebook, etc. as a means to facilitate connection, rather then to maintain it. To get off the computer and LIVE a little more. Who is with me!?

Oh, btw, excellent reading... "Life is Friends: A Complete Guide to the Lost Art of Connecting in Person" by Jeanne Martinet. Check it out. (but you don't have to take my word for it!)


An Earthly Knight

I've long been fascinated by the ballad Tam Lin, especially the version sung by Fairport Convention's Sandy Denny. It tells of Janet, a king's daughter, who happens upon an elfin prince in the wood, falls in love and becomes pregnant by him. (these somewhat shocking plot devices are very typical of old English folk ballads) Tam Lin reveals to Janet that he not one of the fey- he is human, a cursed captive of the fairy queen and doomed to be her sacrifice this Halloween. Janet has but one hope of saving him- she must pull him off his horse and hold him tightly.

The fairy queen turns Tam Lin into all manner of beasts in hopes that Janet will loosen her grip- a snake, a lion, so on and so forth. Eventually he returns to his own form- a naked man. The spell has been broken. The fairy queen swears revenge, and disappears.

When you love someone, how long would you hold them as they became forms that you did not recognize, that frighten you? In our darkest hours we need to be able to rely on that one who will be constant, who will love us and protect us no matter what. I believe I have that power latent inside me... when I meet my earthly knight I will not let him go.


Some Enchanted Evening...

Why do we develop crushes? How long do we hold on to those feelings of affinity for strangers, and when do we let go? What initiates that first spark of attraction, that makes you notice them initially? And then what keeps you going when given so precious little to go on?

I'm going to dig up an obscure crush from my past. I'd found references to an 'M' in some of my old journals, and couldn't for the life of me even remember who M was. Then today I found a cartoon I drew of him in a sketchbook. Now I recall- he was the kids with the cool hat that was in my biology class my first semester of college. I don't think we ever even had a proper conversation- but I was convinced there was something remarkable about him.

What was it? It had to be more than his hat. I think he had gorgeous eyes, and seemed friendly, though a little reserved. I remember I would look forward to class, to see him, though we wouldn't talk. Observing was always enough to feed my hunger. The days he was absent (and these were multiple) I would wonder where he was... how mysterious was M!

I would spend time in class daydreaming about things we would talk about if we talked. Where we might go on a date, movies he would like, far off places we could adventure to together... all the while trying to keep from drooling at his beautiful curly brown hair poking out from the crocheted cap he always wore.

Towards the end of the semester I began to work up the courage to talk to M. We didn't have much to say besides small talk about class' interesting aspects or the lack of. The only things I found out about him were that he missed class cause he didn't like getting up early. He worked at Applebee's. He really liked anime and manga. This being all I discovered despite a few weeks of prying, one would think I would accept that our amazing whirlwind romance would never take off- but no, I kept thinking about him. He was probably just shy, maybe he expressed himself better through writing, maybe he liked me and I made him nervous!

I don't remember when I stopped having this particular crush. Likely I found a new object of secret affection- my journal documents 'I saw M today and he doesn't affect me at ALL anymore like T does!'

I think many of us (or at least me!) are suckers for a good love story, and one that is purely fantasy is still something! There's a great lyric by Emmit Rhodes- 'to get by, to live your life- you must have for every love lost a love that's new' and I think there's some truth in that- once we meet someone new who has not yet proved himself to NOT be 'the one', we are ready to remove that label from the previous object and thrust it onto this new unsuspecting guy. I'm sorry, confusing logic, but basically the crush-ready heart loves to assume good until proven wrong- Mr. New Crush is the ideal target. Since you know nothing about him, you are quite sure he's perfect!

hmm... ok... I'm on the lookout now... ;-)


Is it bad to feel good about yourself?

I know sooooo many girls who suffer from poor body image and/or low self-esteem who engage in a multitude of self-deprecating behaviors. Some of these are obvious statements- 'this dress makes me look so fat!'... 'Nobody wants to listen to me, anyway!' and others are observed- girls who stay in physically or emotionally abusive relationships because they don't think they'll find anyone better or worse, that that's what they deserve. Girls who wear tons of makeup or dress provocatively so that someone will notice them. Girls who act wild and crazy so they'll be fun to be around.

There's a fantastic book I just discovered called "How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: the Art of Living With Style, Class and Grace" by Jordan Christy. The title pretty much says it all- and it's filled with tips on how to present yourself in a tasteful manner, with traditional standards and elegance, in a modern setting. However, sometimes becoming poised takes something more than values and rules- confidence.

As soon as we are out of the womb we are inundated with expectations from society, from our peers, from our parents. There is a definite way to succeed- and it's hardly ever attainable. There's always someone cooler, prettier, smarter, neater, healthier, nicer than you, and even if you excelled in every area, you'd be plagued with doubts about whether it's good enough. Whether you're good enough. Good enough for what? Good enough for who?

I can only speak from experience, and mine is limited. Relationships have brought for me the first taste of unconditional love. Having someone fall for you, see who you are- blemishes, faults, bad habits and all- and still care so deeply for you that it doesn't matter. It's an amazingly freeing thing- you get to be yourself completely... or do you?

I've been realizing lately that all that time I was in a relationship where I thought I was finally accepted, I still hadn't accepted myself. I wondered, 'how can he really love me? I'm not very cool/pretty/smart/neat/healthy/nice'.

Okay, breakup happened. I felt terrible about what had happened, and everything about myself that must have caused him to leave, to get tired of me. And I don't know exactly what transpired, but you know what? It didn't really matter. I had been left to my own devices, and though frightened by what I might see, I began to scrutinize myself more closely, by my own standards and no one else's.

And what I see is definitely salvageable. There's a lot of things I like about myself, and quite a few things I detest- but those are all changeable. I'd like to lose weight? Exercise more, eat less. Feel lonely? Call a friend! Wish I were smarter? Pick something I'd like to learn about and do self-directed research! Wish I looked nicer? Try a different clothing or hairstyle, just for fun.

Developing oneself is a great way to pass time... and also a way to regain confidence and improve self-image. What concerns me, however, are the number of girls who still feel necessary to play the dependent 'damsel in distress'... thinking that if they are too self-sufficient no guy will be interested because he isn't 'needed'? Ew...

I am a firm believer that the one you love should not be your 'better half' or 'complete you' or 'make you whole'. I think it is important to BE whole (or have a good idea of who you are!) and then that special someone should enhance it, add to it. And hopefully being the best you YOU can be, you will attract someone who is doing the same, being themselves to the best of their ability, living to their potential!


Redefining Chivalry in a World of Automatic Doors

We are striving for equality between sexes in today's world, yet I still hear many women complain about the lack of chivalry, that it is a dying art. We demand to be treated just like men- but with a little more consideration. When dating, it is acceptable for the man to pay or to split the bill, but if the woman were to pay the bill, it would likely be seen as a poor reflection on the man. What's up with that?

For as far back as history goes, men have been the providers, the hunters, the ones who made sure that their families were taken care of. The women tended the home, raised the children, cooked and cleaned. This goes way far back. At some point (I have to research more but I would guess it was with the world wars) women made their entrance into the work force, and liked it there.

Today we live in a society where the reversal of gender roles is becoming more common, and perhaps more acceptable (more on gender roles in another post! I find myself straying off topic!)... but in searching for a potential partner, I am encouraged by friends and by society- "make sure he treats you like a lady!"

By that concept, do I want to submit myself to traditional standards- do I want a guy who will woo me, court me, gift me with flowers, pull my chair out, be ever so attentive to my needs and desires? Well, of course. Who wouldn't? But is that FAIR?

I bought a dictionary yesterday, very excited by that. It's over 2,000 pages of words. :) According to the dictionary, chivalry is the 'sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.'

If knights in shining armor still existed in the literal sense, I am sure that women would want to be knights too. And we all can aspire to be more courteous to one another, generous with... and I'm drawing a blank as to what valor is. Back to the dictionary (knew I needed one!)... ah- heroic courage, bravery. Yes, anyone who is in a relationship or ever been in one knows that you need a lot of valor, regardless of your sex. As to the importance of dexterity in arms... well, I agree, but perhaps in a more literal sense... ;)

The point I am getting at is that in the quest for equality of sexes, perhaps chivalry is becoming a lost art because men either don't want to offend or don't see the point in treating someone differently because they are female. Why not advocate, then, for mutual chivalry? Treating both parties with the same qualities valued by the medieval knights... holding doors, taking the bill, offering the first roll, taking one's coat- all does not have to be done by one party. Taking the initiative to show another how much you respect them should elicit positive feelings (aka Groovy Vibes) for all involved.

What do you think?


"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

And so the journey begins...

When I was little I filled my head with tales about far-off distant lands, fantastical adventures concerning pirates, princesses, dragons, and wizards. I used to swear I'd settle for nothing less than making my life as exciting as those stories. As we grow, we tend to become disenchanted by the Real World. It's harried, rushed, crazed, and people are distant and losing the ability to connect with one another. Pop culture tells us that many ideals simply don't exist- that the fairytale concept of true love and happily ever after is just fictitious and destined to disappoint.

But I have seen it happen. I know it exists. I've never reached that place myself, but I know people who have. This is not to say life is all a bed of roses after meeting 'the one', but having love, real love, is a sort of magic that I believe in. I don't understand it at all. I can only aspire to.

By writing this blog, I want to divulge more of what is for me the big mystery. I will research psychology, sociology, sexuality, self-help handbooks, fairy tales, listen to people I come in contact with. Is it something that can be figured out methodically? Does love just Happen by chance? If you take two people who are willing to make a relationship work, can they get through anything, or is there a point at which it just doesn't work anymore?

I have a lot of questions, thoughts and theories, and look forward to the exploration. :)