Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Currency of Trust

Pocket change…..quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies…..it adds up over time…but it does take time… John Maxwell equates trust with pocket change. You put in nickels, dimes, quarters when you build trust…..you take out nickels, dimes, pennies, quarters…when trust is somehow compromised either intentionally or unintentionally….in big ways and in small ways. Trust is a fluid thing…I think….it ebbs and flows…it builds….and diminishes. Lately, I have been thinking of trust as a beautiful fluid work of art - like the ocean…always moving….but beautiful nonetheless.

The idea of the Currency of Trust has been mulling through my mind for about a week or so. It started with me asking myself the questions, “Do I trust?” “When do I trust?” “How do I trust?”

If I trust someone in one area….is it reasonable to think that I will trust them in ALL areas?? I found myself chiding myself for not trying hard enough to trust…..and then I remembered currency….. $10 will get me farther in Southeastern Arkansas than in New York City….US currency may be strong in some areas and not in others. It’s the ebb and flow…..building….and cashing out.

My next thought was of the cashing out process…..what exactly is it that diminishes trust….even for a moment? Does it have to be a breach of trust..or can it simply happen when I am asked to trust in an area that I am uncomfortable? Over the weekend, I shared a story with The Man about my “ancient history.” My knees were knocking my mind was racing. I was telling myself that this is NOT a good thing…..this is a scary thing equal to the monster under my bed… The Man was supportive and completely non-judgmental…but days later, I found myself questioning…..some of the trust pocket change had been spent…..BUT it is an investment, not a loss.

I realized that when I allow myself to use some of that trust pocket change and allow others to draw out of my “account,” the rewards can be great. It is an investment in the future of our relationship - a chance for trust to grow.

Some people simply say that they aren’t trusting people because of their past. They need a constant stream of pocket change put in their account……but here is a thought…..if you hoard your change in a bucket….all you have is change in a bucket…..but if you allow yourself to invest trust in someone…..a business partner, a relationship, a sibling, a child that trust will grow….it will build. Will you be disappointed?? Absolutely without a doubt….but as you grow your bank of trust with others, you will see your relationships change.

So….where does that leave me???? Where is my point of growth?? To trust where I have not trusted before…to allow myself to be vulnerable in areas where I may fail…..where I may once again cry my eyes out…..to let the past be the past, learn the lessons I needed to learn and let go and trust. Who knows……it may lead to something beautiful inside myself.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Importance of The List

Walking through the door after my first post-marriage date, I felt a sense of excitement….of exhilaration….of “Holy Cow…what do I do now???” I had all kinds of questions (mostly about whether or not it was a date or just “hanging out”) and ju-ju-bees inside me….so I did what all women do, I called my best girlfriend, G, and shared my excitement….dissected every move….every word….every nuance (it’s what we women do)….

In sharing my thoughts on how much I liked him, G gently reminded me to keep my head in the game and suggested that I make a list. Being a lover of lists of all kind…..I thought this would be a fun diversion…..little did I know how much it would shape my philosophy of dating. G told me to list qualities-attributes I felt I needed in a potential life partner. Wow…that was thinking far ahead!! Honestly, I just wanted to go out and have a bit of fun and feel beautiful. Her words mulled through my brain for the next few hours…..questions of, “What do I need?” “What is important to me?” “ What type of man would I both respect and stay engaged with?” At 3am on December 11, 2007, I wrote my list in my journal. The List included things such as Close to Family, Likes to Dance, Passionate about God, Has Close Friends, etc.

The List has been an important conversation topic between my single girlfriends and myself. I have encouraged them to make their own lists….to really figure out what is important to them. It’s like networking - Who do you want to meet? Who is a good client for you? Narrow it down.

My suggestions for The List:

Positive attributes only - you can’t prove a negative…. ie: “doesn’t stay out late with his friends every night” isn’t a good list item (maybe he goes out every other night or every weekend or just simply doesn’t include you in his activities and you still have the “problem” that you are trying to avoid)- rather, look at the positive attribute you are wanting.

Keep the list somewhat short - the list does actually need to narrow down the field, however, for the list to be useful it can’t narrow down every single male in America.

Only put the important/necessary qualities on your list - not how tall, what kind of job, how many siblings, etc. It’s not a “wish list” but rather a target list. Although it may seem trivial to others, not dancing is actually a “deal breaker” for me…..it’s one of my favorite things to do and I spent many years with someone who would not dance….. therefore, it is on my list.

Make your list personal - who cares if everyone else in the world thinks a certain attribute is important……this is YOUR list and no one else has to see it. You are unique and your list should be as well.

Go back and re-read The List from time to time when you are dating someone. Trust me...one does forget. I honestly thought The Man would have a few of the attributes I so carefully thought out. However, when I re-looked at The List, he had almost all of them nailed down (yay!).

So…..what happens when you meet someone amazing, but they aren’t a fit? For me, when I find someone I have “chemistry” but doesn’t jive with my list, I put them in “The Friend Box.” There are many people I like hanging out with…but I don’t have to date them. If I really like them and they aren’t a “dating candidate,” I don’t simply move on and forget they ever existed……I invite them into my life as a friend and enjoy their company. If you look at it in networking terms, you are building an annuity stream of possibilities by building relationships rather than trying to “sell” yourself to everyone you meet. This is how I met The Man….through a great guy I have become friends with over the last year.

The question looms, “why date someone who is not a match for me?” Divorce is very lonely - being single is very lonely. There are times when I just wanted to feel special no matter who the person is…. Eventually, though, I realize this is not a healthy way to go about things - it is actually a recipe for disaster.

I was at a networking event at the end of a very long, tiring day. A glass of wine was definitely in my future! As I walked by the appetizer station, I saw the fried ravioli and made a bee line. Normally, this would be a total “yuk” for me…they weren’t really warm….nor were they particularly appetizing…but there I was piling my plate full. I was tired….hungry…..and stressed. I found myself eating every single one of the cardboard-tasting, cold, fried ravioli squares. I was momentarily comforted - - it met an immediate emotional need. Later, I felt terrible….not just because I ate something not on my diet “list”…but I felt sluggish from all the carbs…and knew that this was not a healthy choice.

Dating is like that - we make unhealthy choices to date people who are not a match for us simply because we want to feel special…..wanted….loved….beautiful….. We are tired from all of the dating…the rejection…the dashed hopes and just want to find someone….anyone. In the end, we are hurting ourselves by setting ourselves up for failure….and even by missing a golden opportunity because we are “with someone” and are no longer looking.

Is The List the “end all-be all” - - no way!! They are guidelines in the true Captain Jack Sparrow sense of the word. But The List can be an important tool to remind ourselves that we hold our opportunity for happiness in our hands….we can exchange our long-term happiness for short term comfort…..or we can invest in non-dating relationships and in those people who will be a true match. The choice is ours.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Over the last week through conversations with friends and people reading my blog, I have come to the conclusion that I have made divorce sound a little too fabulous. Although my journey has been a time of self-discovery and great learning,I am simply playing with the cards I have been dealt…..making the best of a difficult situation…..creating a mosaic with the broken pieces of my life.

In all honesty, divorce is the hardest thing I have ever had to do - - it’s like a death - - like losing your best friend because of a fight - - because of issues that could not be resolved. Divorce brings feelings of loneliness and frustration - - feelings of being unwanted….of being a trinket that is casually tossed away….easily forgotten. No matter if you were the one to leave or the one wanting to stay, there is a grievious moment (or moments) of realizing the person you were going to love forever has moved on with his life…that your relationship will never be fixed…that it is done….forever. Before the divorce…..during those last moments of marriage this moment seems to be one of glorious freedom…..in reality…it’s like taking a bite into a beautiful fruit and realizing you have a mouthful of rotten, spoiled, nasty fruit……and you want to hurl.

Many people who are married and who are unhappy see divorce as a way to become happy….a way out…..to be themselves….to be fulfilled…to finally find “the one.” I submit to you that if you are unhappy and unfulfilled when married…….you will become an unhappy and unfulfilled divorcee -- that is unless you do some real work on the inner you and see what you need to change in yourself…..but those things take time and, in my opinion, happen as a way of survival from the trials of the divorce process.

Divorce is lonely. There are so many times I want my old life back. As I sit on my couch this Sunday morning, my eyes tear up as I think about how different things are now….. I just got home from going to church….alone….again. My son is gone on spring break so the house is quiet….again. There is no one to fix Sunday morning breakfast for….there is no one to wake up to and plan our day… My house is quiet….so I am never home. My fabulous girlfriends and amazing guy friends are a tremendous source of joy and support…..but I can’t exactly snuggle with them on the couch on a Saturday night.

I have built a good life….one full of friends, social activities, learning, joy and happiness. At this point, my X is a stranger….someone I don’t have a true connection with - nor do I really want to. I wish I could have talked to that independent, impulsive, passionate young woman who was newly married…..I wish I could have taught her how to be a good wife….a good partner…..a good listener….a good friend to her husband. I wish she would have learned those lessons before the bitterness set in…..before the hurt….before the Grand Canyon was created.

Yes, I have spent a lot of time creating the life I have always wanted - - but I would give anything to have spent that same time and energy creating the life I always wanted with my husband. I don’t write about these things much because I honestly don’t want to dwell on what could have been….on what I don’t have. Holding my marriage together after the affair was not an option I was given…..so I am playing with the cards I was dealt…..sitting on the edge of my seat hoping that my hand is a winning hand…..I’ve bet all I have…it’s sitting there on the table. Each hand that I win creates a bigger stack of chips for me….enables me to take more and more risk. Sometimes I win….sometimes I loose…..but I am determined to keep playing…even when the stakes are high.

Divorce is not fabulous……but it is not the end of the world…..