Tag Archives: loneliness

A Year of Hope – Part 3

(Continued from Part 2.)

For an entire week I neglected my motorcycle. The spark plugs are hard to get to, much like those incognito feelings that haunt us and make us feel lost. It’s because of these plugs my bike wouldn’t start.

I waited to see what James would do. How was his ignition working? Would his motor turn to put his words into motion?

We are ridiculously flawed. It doesn’t matter how together we look on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Our delectable second date at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn was followed by dinner the next night in the same neighborhood at a popular Italian place called Al di La.

Before we went in, James left me at Al di La’s wine bar while he jogged down the street to give an extra $10 to our waiter from the night before. Talk about extra mile.

He returned from his stalwart act.

“Was he there?” I asked.

“He was. He was surprised.”

Naturally. At this point something happened to my heart like a scab had been picked from it, loosening the skin underneath.

Our seating arrangement was unlike the first two dates where we sat adjacent to one another. By this time, however, it didn’t matter how we sat. We were so comfortable with each other that a little food stuck mid-bite was no embarrassment.

He reached his hand midway across the table where mine came to meet his.

“When can you fly out? Are you ready?” he asked.

“Friday, possibly Thursday. My bag is already packed.”

It wasn’t.

Our dinner ended on glasses of tawny port and discourse on the Republican primary.

We drove home.

“Sushi tomorrow?” He wanted to see me as much as possible before leaving town.

I wanted to trust James with all my heart. But I couldn’t. There were still old heart wounds with scabs still on them. Every invitation brought up in me a fear that he would not follow through.

But the next day he surprised me again showing up in the middle of the day while I worked from home. I had become sick with a cold. He didn’t seem to care, except that he didn’t kiss me that day. Then in the evening, he came over again and picked up take out from a nearby sushi restaurant. Four visits in three days.

He was a knight. Or he was over-infatuated.


The following weekend I got my bike running. Those damned spark plugs. To get to them, the fuel lines and gauge get disconnected, the seat and tank removed, and plugs unscrewed. Sure enough, the middle two spark plugs were fouled with wet, black oil. The valve seals were leaking oil into the middle two cylinders.

Troubleshooting an engine that doesn’t start requires a step-by-step analysis. Is the battery charged? Is there fuel in the tank? Does the starter turn? Are there sparks? The Saturday before, my bike reached the fourth question. The answer was no. This was unlike the new relationship on the horizon.

Every day we didn’t see each other, we texted, emailed, or called each other.

I wondered during his travels if he drank a lot. What kind of people he met. If women tried to pick him up. If he tried to pick up women. They were questions that arise with new relationships that are only answered by time, situations, and trust.

One week after our second date, he calls. “What do you think of Mendocino?”

“Sounds great.” I had never been there.

“Will you check out what’s going on there?”

Two hours researching built excitement about ocean cave kayaking, horseback riding on a 10-mile deserted beach, wine tastings, and Mendocino’s crab and wine event. Airbnb advertised the Elk Inn, a perfect oceanside B&B and spa not found on Expedia. I forgot about all the work I had to do that week.

Expectations are what you have when someone else convinces you to plan time out of your busy life.

The next morning he calls. “Are you ready? When can you fly out?”

“Friday. Maybe Thursday. I have to find a dog sitter.”

“How about if we go someplace warmer?”

What if this all fell through? What if I packed my bag, sent the dog to the sitter, and had no ticket?

Tuesday I pull my carry-on down from its storage place and speak to a potential dog sitter. In the evening, still no ticket.

Wednesday we meet the new sitter. Arrangements are set. James texts, “Can you leave Thursday?”

“Yes.” I had moved my schedule around. Wait, Thursday is tomorrow.

With all the effort to plan a trip with a guy I just met, the last thing I would allow is to be left with a packed bag and nowhere to go.

Before riding a motorcycle, I did other dangerous activities like skydiving and skiing double diamond trails. In spite of plenty of invitations, I hadn’t skied in over 20 years. So, I made it my plan B. It was too cold to ride a motorcycle, and the valve seals were leaking.

When you ride a motorcycle, it’s important to have emergency phone numbers and a tool kit at all times. Motorcycle riders are infamously known as organ donors, and their bikes are infamously known to crash or break down. Perhaps this was experience enough to be prepared at all costs.

Wednesday evening arrives. Still no ticket.

Thursday morning the phone rings. It’s him.


Bag packed, I looked back into my apartment and bid farewell to the dirty dishes and piles of paperwork.

On Friday, I arrived at my destination, took care of business, and settled down to watch smiling faces as they laughed with the delight of their day off.

The chairlift carried me into a snow-blurred sky.

I thought about James’ phone call. I had answered. He hung up.

New Year’s Dating Resolutions

Was 2011 a tough year for romance? Or for other reasons? Loneliness can be our biggest enemy especially when accompanied by heart-wrenching conflicts. You know, the ones that get us begging to an unseen being, or asking, “WHY?” Whether the struggle is within relationships or fighting through life’s challenges, there is nothing like loneliness to force us to feel the pain.

Fortunately, we can also triumph over loneliness either by learning to be comfortable alone or by finding companionship.

Television producer, Tamara Duricka Johnson, triumphed by the latter method, which she shares in her new book, 31 Dates in 31 Days. The title explains. In the new year following her 31st birthday, Tamara (rhymes with camera) would have 31 dates, one date every day for 31 days.

Can you imagine having a date with a different person every day for a month? Most of us probably don’t have the energy to do it. But it became Tamara’s mission in her quest to answer, “Why am I still single?!” (Note that the question wasn’t, “Where is my future husband?”)

Make a resolution count

If you’re in the habit of making new years’ resolutions, you’ve likely failed to keep at least some of them.

Resolutions should resolve something, such as a problem. Maybe one of the reasons why so many people give up on diet or weight resolutions, is because diet and weight are not really problems unless they are causing life-threatening conditions, like heart disease or diabetes. Of course, there’s prevention, but unless there’s a real reason to change something, why change?

An effective resolution requires a willingness to change. Without that willingness, nothing will change. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get comfortable, be lackadaisical, or not really care. Hence, unwillingness.

To make a resolution really count, do this:

  1. Quit complaining
  2. Desire change
  3. Write attainable goals

The aim is resolution. In other words, you must become resolved about whatever the issue is. In the case of loneliness, the aim could be to either become content with being alone, or find companionship.

Tamara wasn’t about learning to be alone, but she was willing to learn to be that way. She made a plan, designated dating rules, then put out the word about her “project”. At the very least she would learn something even if she didn’t find companionship.

So how do you make a resolution that actually resolves?

First of all, you have to want to become resolved, or want change. If you don’t really want to change anything, then don’t bother trying. But if you do really want change, the key is in your goals. And goals need aim.

Aim vs. goal

A soccer player doesn’t score a goal without aim. When he aims, the goal cage is the focus. Not having aim puts the ball in any direction. Making goals is nearly impossible without aim.

Tamara’s aim was to conquer loneliness. Her goal: go on 31 dates in 31 days.

It’s much easier to attain goals, when your aim is clear. And it’s much easier to reach goals when they are attainable. For example, a goal of losing 20 pounds can be exciting at first, but it can get taxing when you’re 18 pounds away. Make the aim 20 pounds and the goal losing 1 pound per week. (Then remember the weeks will be up and down.) Or make the aim having more energy.

The dating resolution

If you want to change your dating life for the better, make your aim clear, and set attainable goals.

The following table lists some examples of aims and goals.



  • Make new friends
  • Meet one new person every week for 20 weeks
  • Learn something about yourself
  • Go on 2 dates with 3 people who are not your type
  • Conquer loneliness
  • Frequent a new place every weekend for 3 months

Whatever your resolution, set fun goals. Your life should have quality, so don’t make yourself miserable.

For inspiration, read Tamara’s book available in bookstores or on Amazon. It’s funny and insightful, and gives an inside look at her joys, despairs, and triumphs. For more about Tamara’s project, visit 31datesin31days.com.

A Video About Being Alone

This video by Andrea Dorfman and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis, came out in 2010, but it seems to be making its rounds on the interweb. I thought it would be great to share it here during this holiday season.

Ten years after 9-11, this is difficult holiday season for many, including myself having lived one mile away from the World Trade Center, volunteering at a local hospital, then losing my job months later because of chronic bronchitis developed by breathing the black dust that came into my apartment even when the windows were closed.

In spite of the hardships, being alone is one thing I’ve learned to be content with and even cherish at times. It makes meeting people and building relationships beyond priceless. Maybe it’s because of life’s challenges that makes me appreciate being alone. It’s part of a growth process that occurs when we surrender to the tears that come from facing those challenges. It’s not easy to learn, but how amazing when it is learned.

Enjoying being alone is like a gift, and I would love to share it. But how do you share it? This video can’t be a better way.

Tanya has a book of poetry, At First, Lonely, available on Indigo.ca.

Thank you Andrea and Tanya. This is beautiful.

Happy holidays.

Re-boot Your Love Life

There was a time when Valentine’s Day was about celebrating fertility and procreation. Sex, basically. Now? It’s about marketing and giving people an excuse for public displays of affection.

Don’t get me wrong. Love should be celebrated. But it should be celebrated daily whether or not we’re in romantic relationships. For those who are not involved with a significant other, we can use Valentine’s Day as a time marker, since it’s pretty common for people to think about the previous Valentine’s Day.

It’s okay to admit we want companionship. At the same time, we need to find peace with the place where we are. Attitude makes a huge difference not only for our own introspection, but also toward those with whom we interact. We need to make sure we take care of ourselves first so that we can be our best for others. That said, here’s a re-post from TheRugged.com.

Hope For The Future: Making a Plan

The beginning of a new year–needless to say–is a great opportunity to join the masses in defining resolutions and starting over, especially for those of us going through break-ups, loneliness or other sad situations. Life as such can be a daily struggle, but there is a way to deal.

Even the most logical thinkers can have difficulty in finding motivation to press forward when their personal relationships are busted. If you find yourself struggling to be positive, there is no better time than now to have a plan and be proactive about it.

Have a plan

Sadness sucks. It can cause us to think irrationally and do stupid things that we later regret. If it’s really bad, sadness can demotivate or lead to detrimental decisions. This is when having a plan can help.

Like a business plan, which can help a company stay focused on its purpose, a personal plan should be a guide. (Especially during rough moments when making a decision is more challenging.) Here’s what you should plan:

  1. Make time for yourself. Nurture your mind. This is especially important if you come from a dysfunctional family. (You know, having parents, guardians or siblings who either neglected you or physically, verbally, or plain emotionally, beat you down.) Get out of the house and do something you enjoy like attend a live event, get a massage, take a long jog or bike ride. Engage in activities you would do at other times of the year. This time for your mind needs to be distinct, however, from time for your libido. In other words, avoid strip clubs and sex during this time.Why avoid sex? The frontal lobes of our brains are responsible for our ability to reason and for personality, and our temporal lobes account for memories. When we’re sad, the chemicals in the limbic system, located in the middle of our brains, can interfere with the way our brains process thoughts. Likewise, your libido is activated through the limbic system. Though pleasure is nice, it will only distract you from taking care of your mind, a.k.a. your self. So, set aside time to “clear” your head and replenish serotonin levels (the happy brain chemical) so that you can think. If you have sad memories that keep surfacing, then it might be time to confront them. After a funeral, people go through times of grief. This is necessary in order to provide an outlet for sad feelings. If you have sad memories, then grieve. Let it out. Otherwise, they will remain sad memories that get pushed aside by distractions. Then the sadness comes out in other, twisted ways like getting overly reactive about a girl. People let out emotions in different ways, either alone or with a friend, family, or therapist. Whatever way you deal with feelings, aside from avoiding them, do it.
  2. Make time for people. Anyone who spends too much time by himself gets weird. You know what I’m talking about. We are social animals. Our mental and emotional health depends on our relationships with other people. There are different ways of spending time with others. Obviously, there are friends and family, but there’s also being around strangers and meeting new people. Again, get out of the house. Get off the computer, get some fresh air, and go where there are people. It might be a park, a party, a group of people meeting for a common purpose (aka church), a volunteer opportunity, a bar, a neighbor’s house, or a date. Attend events where you can meet and talk to people. Or don’t talk to people if you really don’t want to. Just get out.

The purpose of having a personal plan is to take care of your needs outside of sex. Sex is often a distractor that keeps us from dealing with what we really need to confront. Anyway, once your mind is able to think more rationally, sex is often better. If you’re single, try having a date without making sex a goal. Really. Just see what happens. You might discover something you haven’t noticed before.

Be proactive

What does it mean to be proactive? If you have a plan to spend time by yourself and spend time with other people, you are halfway through proactivity. Now follow through. The time you spend taking care of your mind is valuable and necessary. Without it, life is more awkward. When we don’t spend time to clear our heads, we allow insecurity to make us pawns of irrational behavior.

Once you become more resolved about life, stay proactive. Don’t give up getting out and being around people, and don’t numb your feelings by avoiding them. Acknowledge your feelings, get in touch with them, and decide to nurture yourself in spite of them. (More on this another time.)

If you’re sad because of your romantic life, then become proactive. Do something about it! Maybe you barely make any effort toward romance, e.g., only take a girl out on a date once every few months, or never. Make a plan to meet one new person every week or ask a girl out every week or something like that. If you’re shy, use the Internet. Who cares if a girl might be lying. Just meet her and find something out about her. Don’t have any expectations except that you’re getting to know someone new. You might get something out of the experience that you couldn’t imagine. Just do it.