I Am NOT A Cougar!

The cat’s out of the bag! My boyfriend (who from this moment forward will be known as “B” instead of “Tall Blonde”) is 9 years younger than me. Go ahead, I give you permission to make any “cougar” comment you want. I’m over it. You know why? Cause ¬†according to the About.com Women Issue’s definition of cougar I do NOT fit the bill.

1. Most cougars are in their 40’s and older – I am not yet 40.
2. The age difference between cougar and conquest is at least 10 years – there are ONLY 9 years between us.
3. He’s not young enough to be my son, I did not steal him from my daughter and I don’t wear animal print clothing.

There, I rest my case! And please, nothing about “the lady doth protest too much”. I’m just saying ūüôā

To be honest, I never thought we’d get as close as we did as fast as we did. I laid it all on the table from the first conversation: I’m 36 (at least I was at the time) and I have 3 kids. There! That should have scared off even the bravest of men, but he didn’t even flinch…at least not on the outside. Instead he asked me about my kids. He told me about his love of horror movies and I told him of my detest of all things horror. I told him my favorite read at the time was dare I say it?…the Twilight series (I’m really outing myself right now…please don’t judge me), he told me his favorite read was “Blankets” a graphic novel (yes like a comic book). ¬†And on it went. ¬†The one thing we agreed on was music. Not big fans of country or rap.

Nevertheless the interest in one another increased and before you knew it I was reading my very first graphic novel. IT WAS AWESOME. I devoured it in 3 hours (that only means something if you could see how fat the book is). And naturally since he lent his most favorite book to me I HAD¬†to give him my number. I mean, if I lent my favorite book to someone I’d want to make sure I could get a hold of them to get it back, right? Hehe. I’m glad I did because not long after I gave his book back he had to go out of town for 3 weeks. In case you are ever wondering, nightly 4 hour phone calls are great for two things: getting to know a person and producing dark circles under the eyes!

That’s how it all began. In spite of the significant age gap, we connected on a level I didn’t know was possible. And while we have very different views in several areas, we share similar sensibilities allowing us to accept each others differences and respect each others views. I am still floored by how easy it’s been to get along with and love a man that doesn’t share my faith and opposes me politically, yet a marriage that was based on the foundation of a shared faith and political views was impossible to keep together. I have some theories on why, but mostly they lead to more questions. For instance can two people who are “unevenly yoked” have a successful relationship/marriage? (I’m not asking for opinions here, I’ve heard plenty of those already). What I can say about it is I’m willing to find out with B because what we have is working beautifully despite the popular belief that it shouldn’t be working at all.

My hope in revealing so much of my relationship is to encourage anyone who is thinking about dating again to be open to the possibilities. Really consider what a healthy match for you looks like. Spend time talking to the person A LOT before you go the next step. Don’t be ruled by the “wish list” you created, it may cause you to miss out on something incredible. Try peeking realistically into your future with the person of interest, does it look like the relationship you just got out of? If so I would suggest you do an about face and RUN! If the relationship¬†doesn’t bring out the best in you it isn’t worth it! When you have one that is you’ll know it.

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Time To Roast The…Duckling?

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of this, my next to favorite holiday, I thought I’d do something a little different. I am thankfully not in charge of roasting the turkey this year so instead I decided to roast myself! What better way to celebrate a day that gives us a reason to spend time with our families and eat ourselves sick? Enjoy!

Definition of the Ugly Ducking Syndrome: When a person who used to be somewhat awkward and not attractive, though not necessarily unattractive, becomes extremely beautiful.

When I fist heard of the Ugly Duckling Syndrome I was in Junior High, probably around 8th grade. It was one of those things that stuck with me because it gave me great hope for my future. I wouldn’t say I was an ugly child, but I did seem to hit an awkward stage much younger than most that lasted well into my early teens. When I was in 4th grade I already had hairier legs than most 17 year old boys. And worse was how dark the hair was. I¬†truly¬†believe the only “Cuban” features I got from my dad were the dark body hair and the huge buttocks that I can still list as one of my¬†assets. (Sorry I couldn’t resist). It was a memorable day when my mom taught me how to shave. I felt like a teenager! It was wonderful…until I realized I had to shave often to keep the hairless look. UGH!

The glasses I had to wear didn’t help either. I’ve had issues with my eyes since infancy so there was no getting around the glasses. But why oh why did I have to always have the glasses too big for my face and with the tint on them that gets darker in the sun. One or the other I could have lived with but BOTH?! Come on! Oh and did I mention my mom cut my hair herself? There are only so many words to describe what the eye can behold itself. So here is my very embarrassing “Awkwardness Timeline” (I can’t believe I’m doing this):

So there you have it. I share this to give hope to any young person that may be going through an awkward stage. It does get better, and if it doesn’t then don’t worry, awkwardness is “in” these days so go with it. In all honesty, if you are yourself and not worried about impressing other people than you are already ahead of the game. For some of us it takes longer to get. Stop dwelling on your negatives and focus on enhancing your positives. You are amazing just the way you are.

Editor’s note: I would LOVE to feature an Ugly Duckling transformation at least once a month. If there is anyone out there brave enough to submit their transformation from Duckling to Swan please do so to unforgettablyordinary@gmail.com. If you would prefer it to be a wordless post that would work as well, but I am always interested in hearing your story. Have a Fantastic Thanksgiving! Oh and here’s something for your listening entertainment…

Wish Lists And Santa But Nothing To Do With Christmas

It has been longer than I ever intended it to be between posts and for that I apologize. But there are times when life happens and allowing it to¬†interfere¬†with my personal time schedule and goals is something I will not apologize for. Not anymore at least. There was a time when being off schedule caused me anxiety producing stress because I knew I wasn’t living up to another person’s standards. If the house wasn’t clean, the laundry done, the kids showered, etc. there was no way I’d be able to enjoy spending time with my loved ones. My life became a series of task after task trying to keep all the plates in the air (or rather washed and put away) instead of enjoying the people around me, especially my children, because that’s what was expected of me. So when I was freed from the constant reminder of what I wasn’t doing well enough (read: ex-husband) I made myself a vow to stop and leave the dishes in the sink so I could listen to my son tell me his theories on how to¬†hi-breed a person and a bird. (Yes. That was an actual conversation).

I still tend to be task driven because essentially I feel I am most valuable when I’m meeting the needs of others, so the laundry and dishes do still get done. And the kids are showered every night without fail (unless of course its a weekend night, then I may let it slip). But now there is a difference in the motivation behind these tasks and¬†sometimes¬†that’s all the¬†difference¬†needed. ¬†Now I do it because it is fulfilling to me and not because I’m trying to prove that I am good enough to meet someone else’s standard. Which means that sometimes allowing the messiness of life is more fulfilling than making sure my house is in order or that my post has been written. So no more apologizing for life’s interruptions!

In the same vein (if you stretch it) is my topic of discussion tonight: Overcoming unrealistic dating expectations.

In my last post I was pretty transparent regarding my fears about dating again. Admittedly some of these fears were the manifestation of my deep rooted insecurities, but the rest of them were based on the personal experiences of those close to me and documented statistics. For instance did you know that 67% of second,¬†and 74% of third marriages end in divorce? And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people I love jump into another relationship that is no different, and many times worse than, the one they just got out of. THAT was not an option for me.

So how was I going to safeguard myself from entering into another¬†disastrous relationship? ¬†That was to become my next personal project. Naturally I made a list! (I can be quite the list maker when the mood strikes.) I included all the qualities I was looking for in a relationship. Here’s an example from an actual journal entry of my qualities wish list:

Attractive
Nice Dresser
(Clearly I wanted to get the superficial traits out of the way first)
Good sense of humor/Funny
Confident
Attentive to me and my children
Has a good view of marriage
Knows his faults and is actively working on them
Accepting of my faults
Praises my strengths
Loves my children
Doesn’t want anymore children
Hard worker
Willing to admit when he’s wrong
Strong sense of commitment
Doesn’t have unreachable expectations
Debt free/Has financial wisdom

(There were a few qualities on my list I decided to omit at this time, but I will tell you they were all Faith related and my choice to omit them is solely to explore them at a later time.)

So it’s not like I was asking for a lot, right? I didn’t list anything about the car he drove, or the money he made or his ability to dance (Don’t laugh! The dancing ability was actually on my list prior to getting married). I just wanted a real grown up relationship with mutual respect and acceptance. AND I didn’t want to work hard for it. Either it came organically or not at all. With my list in place I couldn’t go wrong! Right?

Eh.

Not so surprisingly I did not end up with everything on my list. But I got most. Thankfully I learned a long time ago that if we get everything we want we may not get exactly what we need. There are times even as adults we don’t know what is best for us. If I had gotten everything on my list I would have missed out on the love of my life! The love I thought was just made up to sell more movies and books actually does exist! That’s as good, if not better, as finding out Santa is real.

Here are some important qualities I did find in my partner. And don’t worry, my superficial wishes came true as well:

1. Lots of laughter. (He is super funny.)
2. He actually WANTS to be with me, as in spend quality time with me. I don’t have to fight for his attention.
3. He has the ability to have meaningful conversations without it leading to offense or an argument that had nothing to do with said conversation in the first place.
4. He is accepting of who I am and loves me regardless of my faults. And in turn I have acceptance for who he is and love him despite his faults (not that there are many).
5. He also self analyzes and is willing to admit his faults.
6. He has completely accepted my children and has earned their respect and love. They look up to him and he is a mentor to them.
7. He encourages me to follow my dreams and be the best me. There aren’t any unrealistic expectations for me to achieve. I’m already good enough!

I finally got the grown up relationship I always desired. Sometimes I still can’t believe it comes from a man 9 years younger than me. ūüôā