Monday, December 17, 2012

Circle Of Quiet

On another mom's blog this morning, she spoke briefly about how today many people would be forming a "Circle Of Quiet," out of prayerful respect for the terrible events in Connecticut.  I guess I am not technically being quiet, as I am sitting here typing.

This idea resonates with me, though, as all the "noise" over this tragedy causes me a great deal of internal pain.  The TV, radio, the newspapers, the internet have all been loudly roaring about this awful happening over the past days.  It's not that I blame people for speaking out, for crying out.  And maybe it is because I am a bit of an introvert that the outcry causes me almost physical pain.  I have tried not to tune into it very much, but it is rather unavoidable.  It's not the gentle, prayerful words that I find so painful.  It is more the angry words, the words of blame, the accusations, the wild guessing at motives and causes that is hard for me.  We really don't know anything about the shooter, what was in his mind.  It seems likely that we never will.  And I know the "gun control" laws in our country are rather insane -- at least it seems so to me.  But, in the face of the unspeakable heartbreak so many are experiencing, is it fair to unceasingly, incessantly hammer on about the shooter and firearm laws?  It seems a bit insensitive to me.  Although, I guess some would say that doing so is a form of respect for the memory of those killed.  I don't know...

So, when this lovely mom spoke about a "Circle Of Quiet" today, it struck me as a brilliant idea.  I think she was primarily speaking of quiet in terms of blogs and social media, but perhaps we can take it further.  Perhaps we can strive for silence in our homes, silence from our mouths, silence in our minds, silence in our hearts and souls...   And if we are people who practice it, a bit of silent prayer may even be more beneficial than all the talking and typing -- all the noise -- put together.  And if you are not the praying type, well...can we agree that better solutions to problems more often come out of silent, centered hearts and minds than chaotic ones?

Peace to you...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who Do We Listen To?

There has been a great outcry -- and rightfully so -- over the tragedy in Connecticut.  And it has caused me to do some reflecting...  Who do we listen to about this?  And who do we choose to listen to about life events and life philosophies, in general?  How can we make wise decisions in this area?

There was a lady I knew during the years in which I home schooled my kids.  She was beautiful, intelligent, and extremely opinionated.  She was also an assertive individual.  I came to view her as a "pied piper" type of character.  Whatever she said -- whether based in actual fact or not -- everybody in our social circle seemed to believe.  And once my fellow home schoolers heard her opinions and "bought into" them, they were pretty much immune to any other way of thinking.  A bit of a pack mentality, if you will.  And she was definitely the alpha dog.  I found this pretty fascinating to observe.  I also found it quite painful at times. (think: Y2K hysteria)

Observing this phenomenon, I had to ask myself a couple of questions:
     1.  Why didn't I believe her when everybody else did?  It certainly would have made life easier.  I would have experienced more acceptance in the group.  As it was, people were nice to me.  I had friends.  But, I didn't really feel like I fit in as I would have if I had followed along.  And --
     2.  Why did everybody else buy into what she said, seemingly so easily?

I also had an experience during roughly this same time period, in which I was royally duped by another individual.  When I think about it, there were plenty of warning signs that this person was arrogant, manipulative, and dishonest.   Eventually, I got a clue.  But, not before significant harm had been done to me and mine.

So, I had to ask myself these questions:
     1.  Why did I trust this person, in spite of many "red flags?"  And --
     2.  Why did certain other people realize, much more quickly than I did, that this individual was up to no good?

My conclusions?

I think there are various factors which influence us to listen to and follow someone.  Certainly, we tend to more easily listen to someone who is attractive, confident, assertive.  Someone with "leadership skills."  And some people are natural leaders.

But, that doesn't explain it all.  Obama has these qualities, but not everybody is willing to listen to or follow him.  Reagan had these qualities.  And -- again -- not everybody was drawn to him.  The two people I just described above had these qualities, too.  Yet, I was willing to listen to one and not the other.

So, what else is going on here?

I think we tend to follow "natural leaders" -- people with objective leadership abilities, who want to lead, who are somewhat "larger than life."  But, perhaps we are drawn to those leaders who embody, at least for the most part, our own world-view.  Our own ideas about how life should be lived, about how society should function, about faith.  And maybe we also are attracted to those who express sympathy for our personal problems and concerns.  This is probably natural.  But, it can also be dangerous.

When we listen to somebody, when we follow somebody, especially in areas in which we have an emotional investment -- such as the terrible events in Connecticut -- it is difficult to remain objective about the person who is leading us.  We so much want to solve a problem, we so much want be comforted, we so much want to feel safe and secure, that we can lose sight of the negative qualities of the person we are following.  We may allow ourselves to be blinded to those "red flags" that may be appearing, in either the individual or his/her opinions.  We might become so caught-up in the hope that person makes us feel that we do not see the situation clearly.

Now, I do not mean this as a back-handed criticism of Obama or anybody else.  I simply mean that -- whatever your feelings about mental illness and gun control and the proper role of government -- it is important to try to keep some emotional distance from the "pied-pipers" that are popping up.  And it is especially easy for these "pied-pipers" to get a lot of attention these days, due to that wonderful thing known as the internet.  So, before we jump on anyone's bandwagon, let's take a little time to breathe and quiet our quivering nerves.  For, in spite of what some might be saying, we do have time to calm down without missing the opportunity to do something meaningful about gun control.  Maybe something that is actually thoughtful and effective.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Choosing A College

(I wonder if, in this post, I will find a way to talk about "SouthLAnd", "The O.C.", or Ben McKenzie.  We shall see...)


It is that time again.  The time when kids and parents start making decisions about college for the coming school year.  It can all be very stressful and harrowing.  Kids have opinions. Parents have opinions -- which can be different than their kids' opinions.  There are finances to consider.  And to top it all off, I have heard that high school counselors are now encouraging students to apply to at least 10 schools.  TEN SCHOOLS???!!!  And most teens seem to be taking these SAT prep courses that cost about a zillion dollars.  And they are taking the test about a zillion times.  If I was in high school now, I think I'd end up in the psyche ward.  (I wonder what score Ben McKenzie got on the SAT, anyway...)

Back in my day (I graduated from high school in 1981), the PSAT was considered to be the thing -- and pretty much the only thing -- you did to practice for the SAT.  And you usually took the SAT once.  If you were very smart, you got to be a National Merit Finalist for scoring exceptionally well on the PSAT -- my husband was one of those people.  I scored in the top 10% on the PSAT, so I was not a National Merit Finalist, but I got a cute little congratulatory card.  A lot of colleges also sent me literature.  It was all a big surprise to me that this happened, and I enjoyed the attention.

Now, as I have said before, my grandparents came from the "old country" in Italy.  They had third grade educations.  Both of my parents graduated from high school and took a few college courses, but neither of them had a degree.  They did think it would make life easier on my sisters and me if we did go to college, so they encouraged us to do that.  But, there was no big pressure. (I wonder if Ben McKenzie's parents put a lot of pressure on him to go to college.)  My father also figured that the most intelligent way to get a college degree was to attend two years of junior college and then transfer to a school in the California State System.  He told us that we would save a lot of money that way and we could also live at home.  Being that he was very Italian, he felt that everyone should live at home until they married.  It was his philosophy that paying money on room/board or rent was just flushing dollars down the toilet.  He also thought that it was good for us to live with him while the wacko college professors were feeding us their wacko college professor ideas, because he figured that he could straighten us out in the evenings and on weekends.  (My family was not like the family in "The O.C."  The family in "The O.C." shares many of the same ideas as my college professors.)

In the end, I did not end up going to junior college and then transferring.  I just went straight to San Francisco State University from high school.  Why?  Because my best friend babysat for the family of a professor of that institution.  He taught Human Sexuality.  He and his wife convinced my friend and me that we should just go straight into that four-year school, bypassing the whole community college thing.  It was quite economical.  I did live at home, and I paid for my entire education by working in a hospital gift shop on weekends.  I enjoyed my time at SF State, even though the neighborhood scared me a little bit, as I was a suburban kid.  (Although, it was not nearly as bad as some of the neighborhoods in which they shoot "SouthLAnd".)

So, what is my point here?  My point is that, without a lot of angsty stressing out, and without spending the equivalent of the cost of a McMansion, my sisters and I ended up with college degrees and professions.  We all became teachers.  Which bothered my father to no end, because all of our lives he told us -- over and over again -- "Those who can, do.  Those who can't, teach."

Of course, I realize that it is no longer possible to pay for an entire college education -- even using my father's methodology -- by working in a hospital gift shop on weekends.  And I acknowledge the value of putting some careful thought into choosing a school that suits ones personality.  I have also seen -- through the experiences of my husband and children -- what a wonderful opportunity for growth going away to college can be.  I just feel bad for people when I see how much mental anguish can go into this decision.  And the amount of debt some of my kids' friends are racking up -- so they can go to the "right" school -- is a bit distressing.  (I wonder if Ben McKenzie had to take out student loans...)

I will end with the tale of my son -- Scott -- whose own college decision was a rather haphazard process, the end result of which has been quite delightful.  Thus far, anyway.

Scott really wanted to go to Thomas Aquinas College -- the school is older sister was attending.  It is a lovely institution, and offers a lovely education.   The thing is, they read about 2000 pages a day at that place and do some rather difficult math, so a relatively high SAT score is required.  

The day before Scott took the SAT (for the first time), our dog required unexpected emergency surgery for the removal of one of her eyes.  Scott was with me the whole time that was going on, and it was pretty stressful.  He didn't sleep well that night.  And he had to get up much earlier than normal the day of the test.  (As a homeschooler, he really never got up before 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning.)  He also had to eat breakfast a lot earlier than usual, which gave him a stomach ache.  He has never been a breakfast person, anyway.  He came out of the test quite dejected, telling me that he had "totally bombed" it.  And he flatly refused to take it again -- ever.

Well, he didn't totally bomb the test.  He actually did pretty well, considering the circumstances.  But, not well enough to get into Thomas Aquinas College.  I encouraged him to try again, as I think he could have scored high enough on a second go-around, but he declined.  If you know Scott, you will understand his reaction here.  If you don't know him, well...  Let's just say he is one of the most bull-headed people I have ever encountered.  As he has gotten older, this aspect of his personality has turned out to be an asset.  But, as a younger child and adolescent, it could pose a formidable challenge.

What to do, then?  I recalled a school my daughter had briefly considered when she was looking at colleges.  It was out-of-state, which is why she decided against it.  But, I remembered that it was a school that accepted kids with more average SAT scores, even giving out financial aid in the form of "opportunity grants".  Scott went for a visit and adored the place.  He has now completed three semesters, is on the Dean's List, is a Resident Assistant, and has great friends.  I have never seen him happier.

So, if you are a parent or a kid worrying about college decisions, I would encourage you to relax a little.  Do what is within your means.  Don't worry so much about whether or not you are making exactly the right decision.  Sometimes, the most wonderful things can happen in the most unexpected of ways... (I wonder if Ben McKenzie ever changed his major.) ;-)


Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning Almanac


*Noticing God's Glory:  Went for a walk with Augusta the greyhound (who sure walks SLOWLY for a totally in-shape racing dog; you would never imagine...).  The sun was shining and there were birds of all sizes going about their business -- tiny little yellow things and two glorious hawks making their glorious hawk noises.

*Listening To:  My son play the Wii.  He got home from college on Saturday night. Yay!!!

*Clothing Myself In:  Jeans and a Harley t-shirt.  And Chanel No. 5.  A classic outfit...

*Talking With My Children About:
     -For The Girls -- How to recognize when you have had more than enough patience with the rudeness of a fellow.  Well-developed biceps and triceps do not suffice, even if they are combined with a certain wittiness and an acceptable IQ.  Sorry, sir.  But, we have high standards in this family.
     -For My Son -- Telling him how proud I am of him for not being a rude fellow.

*Thinking And Thinking:  About how maybe "thinking" is sufficient.  "Thinking and thinking" just exhausts me.  Although, it is fun to think and think about certain things -- like how much fun it would be to drive a cop car in a high speed chase.  Or fly a cop helicopter during a high speed chase.  Or "slap the cuffs" on someone.

*Pondering Prayerfully:  The gift of sweet online acquaintances and kindnesses.

*Carefully Cultivating Rhythm:  When I watch people who try to do this in an over-arching manner, I see that most of them just get frustrated.  I have seen it in homemaking and homeschooling.  Grand plans for an orderly life rhythm usually just get dashed.  I simply decide what to do each day while having my morning coffee or taking my morning shower.  And then I allow for the most distinct possibility that Bridget is going to have a medical emergency of some sort, which will cause me to drop all of my previous plans.  Poor sweetie.

*Creating By Hand:  um... well... #fail.  But, Bridget is making the most beautiful quilt for her friend's wedding gift.

*Learning Lessons In:  Last week, a lovely young woman "tweeted" about how older men are far more interesting to her than younger ones.  It made me look at my husband anew; and I realized how he actually is both cooler and hotter at 51 than he was at 25.

*Encouraging Learning:  Bridget is encouraging me to learn.  She has requested that I read "Paradise Lost" over the Christmas season.  So, I will.  That "Shades Of Grey" book will have to wait until 2013.

*Begging Prayers:  For my mom, who is recovering from surgery.  And for Bridget, who is still struggling to recover fully from an asthma attack she had last week.

*Keeping House:  We cleaned for Thanksgiving.  Why is it starting to look dirty again already???

*Crafting In The Kitchen:  If you heat one of those chocolate croissants from Starbucks in a 300 degree oven for 12 minutes...WOW!!!

*Loving The Moments:  When all three kids are at home.  They enjoy each others company so much.  I don't mean to brag -- but, it makes me feel like I did something right.  Even if I don't really "create by hand" or "keep house" or "craft in the kitchen."  Actually, I used to keep the house immaculate.  Just immaculate.  And it drove everybody nuts.  It truly did.

*Giving Thanks:  That I still know how to keep my husband on his toes.  He is such a sweetly contented person.  So, I enjoy shaking him up a little.  Like on Saturday evening -- when we went to pick our son up at the airport -- I saw that Japan Airlines is now flying out of San Diego.  So, I told my honey, "I love JAL!"  And I asked him, "Will you go somewhere with me if I buy some tickets?"  He looked kind of alarmed and said that it all depended on where we would go.  Bridget said, "Daddy, the destination doesn't matter.  She just wants to fly on JAL." (Bridget gets me.  She really does.)  This made my husband go from looking kind of alarmed to looking EXTREMELY alarmed.  Poor guy...  You have my permission to feel a little sorry for him. ;-)

*Living The Liturgy:  It is now Advent, so I went to Confession on Saturday.  That was before the above-described airport incident, though.  So, I suppose I need to go back again... (To Confession, that is.  Not the airport.)

*Planning For The Week Ahead:  See "Carefully Cultivating Rhythm" above.  Although, we are hoping to put our Christmas tree up on Saturday. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Faith, Hope, Love, Young People -- And "The O.C."

If you read my blog, you probably realize that my mind contains a rather large jumble of things all being shaken up together -- Catholicism, mom stuff, wife things, homemaking, teaching, music, TV, movies, philosophy, politics...  Sometimes, a bunch of this stuff blends together into an image in my imagination, which I want to express here, but the transition from what's in my head to the written word can be rather difficult.  So, here I go...

Today, I have been reflecting on TV, music, modern life, youth, and faith.  Specifically, how modern shows like "The O.C." and its music speak to and about young people -- their hearts and their faith -- their seeking for what is worthy of belief.  And how can we, as parents, teachers, and adults, help them on their way?

First, I should probably say something about my philosophy of TV and movie watching with my kids.  I allowed my children -- who are now 24, 22, and 20 years old -- to view many different types of things as they grew up.  I didn't make decisions about what they could watch based, necessarily, on language, sexual content, and violence.  Although, I did take these into consideration.  I was careful not to overwhelm their senses with images they weren't ready for developmentally.  The fast-forward/scene-skipping buttons on the remote came in pretty handy here.  What I mainly looked for were stories that were well-told, that meant something, which we could use as a springboard for discussion and further learning.  A few of the movies and TV shows my kids most enjoyed were probably the following:  "Top Gun", "Jerry Maguire", "Band of Brothers", "Pearl Harbor", "The Lord of the Rings" triology, and "JAG".  More recently, we have enjoyed together "Numb3rs", "Angel", "SouthLAnd", and "The O.C."

Now, as for watching "The O.C."  My kids didn't see this when it originally aired.  This wasn't a conscious decision on my part.  We were just involved in other things at the time, and this show didn't appear on our radar.  Although, my kids -- at least my older two -- were probably in the original target audience for the original air dates.  So, I ask myself if I would have been ok with them watching it when they were actually in high school, as it does contain a fair amount of sexuality and other soap-opera-like drama.  I was talking about this with my older daughter and I ended up saying, "Well, I probably would have let you watch it.  And I would have watched it with you.  But, I would have said one simple thing -- 'If you act like the kids on that show, you WILL get pregnant.'"  She laughed, and did not disagree.

We actually started watching "The O.C." because we were watching "SouthLAnd" and learned that Ben McKenzie (Officer Sherman on "SouthLAnd") had done this other show.  I, therefore, ordered the first season of "The O.C." on DVD, just for kicks.  I wasn't going to order the other seasons.  Then we all got hooked and some Hollywood people made some money off me.  Money they earned well, I must say.

After watching all four seasons of "The O.C." and listening to the music chosen for the show, I have been having some wistfully philosophical thoughts, as I am want to do.  Whoever chose the music for that show has epic talent.  The writing, acting, and music all come together to really tug on your heartstrings.  And for me, as a mom -- and a person for whom youth is not too far distant a memory -- it tugs on my heartstrings in a special way.  I do not say to myself, "Young people are a hopeless, immoral, faithless mess; and the world is going to hell in a hand basket."  Instead, I have the following thoughts:

It seems to me that "The O.C." -- and many other movies and television shows of interest to youth -- reflect a real seeking on the part of young people.  Yes, these kids may be rebellious and do things that defy common sense, but that is the nature of this age group.  It always has been.  And if you don't believe me, read the Old Testament and Aristophanes.  But, there is more to these kids than trouble making and sex drive.  Their hearts do contain a real desire to love and be loved, to be part of families they can count on, to be involved in friendships where they can rest their hearts and be understood, to know the truth about things (even religious things).  But, they don't want to be preached at.  They don't want to feel constrained.  They want to be listened to and really heard.  They want to be trusted.  And they don't want to be judged.  They also don't really care to judge.  One of the most wonderful things about young people, in my opinion, is their capacity for compassion and understanding, their open minds. 

So, what should we -- as the adults in the equation -- do with this?  I think it is helpful to recall our own experience of being young.  When I remember my own youth, it helps me to observe, listen to, and talk with my own kids with an open heart and without so much of a need to immediately "fix" all their "faults".  I realize that -- if there are any ways in which I have improved as a person over the years -- experience (combined with words of wisdom from wise people) has often been the best teacher.  My father said one heck of a lot of smart stuff to me.  But, I have often not recalled his advice until I have experienced the pain of not heeding it. 

But, you might say, we want to spare our children the suffering and scars of making mistakes.  Believe me, so do I.  Has there ever been, though, in the history of the world, a person who has not "sinned"?  A person with no scars?  I don't think so.  I ask myself, therefore, "Am I not being prideful in thinking that my own kids -- under my ever-so-superior tutelage -- are going to be perfect?"  Haha.

Therefore, I will just try to walk with them and talk with them along the way.  I will try to be gentle.  I will attempt to remember that I need to let go -- little-by-little -- and let them make their own decisions.  My mother-in-law is especially good at this, so I will try to follow her example.  Her own five kids -- good people all -- have done some really crazy-ass things over the years, as I'm sure they would admit.  And she has not always remained silent.  But, after she has spoken her peace, she does the whole "live and let live" thing extremely well.  Hat tip to you, Gail...  And how does she do this?  Well, she ACTUALLY DOES trust God to love her kids and take care of them, even better than she can.  And she sees the virtue in each of her children, all the time. 

So, maybe this is what my heart is feeling when reflecting on youth and the things they enjoy watching and listening to.  These young people want us to see their virtue.  They want us to see the virtue in others.  They get tired of us constantly pointing out to them what is wrong -- with them, with people they like and admire, with the world.  They want to see the positive, to have hope for the future.  And they want us to do the same.  If we are people of faith, especially, they want us to demonstrate that we actually do trust in God by our love and compassion and positive outlook, not by our constant negative judgements and fearful statements about the future of our country and the world.  Our youth want us to BE WITH them along the way.  And then, perhaps, they will truly learn from us anything we have that is actually worth teaching.

Monday, December 3, 2012

But, If In Spite Of Your Best Efforts...

...somebody breaks your heart or you don't find that special someone -- don't despair.


     If you are a Christian, you believe people are fallen.  All of us are fallen.  And if you're not a Christian, you still know that people can very often do the wrong thing.  Evolutionary mishaps in the DNA, you might say.  So, sometimes, you're gonna get "screwed" by somebody.  Even if you do everything "right."  Even if you use the best possible common sense.  As a wise person told me once, "Most people are nice.  But, some people suck."  And, occasionally, someone who "sucks" is also very good at hiding it.  So, don't beat yourself up if things don't work out with a romantic interest.  Strive to have hope and move forward.  Also -- it is not a bad idea to have a potential partner show you, within the first month or so of a dating relationship, his/her:  photo I.D.,  high school and/or college diploma, bank statements, and proof of car insurance.  I actually did this to the poor man who -- believe it or not -- actually married me, as I had been through a somewhat bad experience previously.

     And don't start thinking that there is necessarily something "wrong" with you if you don't marry.  There are times when it just doesn't happen for somebody.  Go ahead and have a happy and adventurous life.  I had a teacher in high school who was in her 50's and had never married.  She was positive, outgoing, witty, engaging, and smart as hell.  She also had tons of friends and an active social life.  And she was one of the best teachers I have ever had, because she had the time and energy to devote to the task.  So, make the most of your life, if you end up as a single person.  Don't fritter away the years wishing for something that might not ever happen.  That is a waste of your precious time on this precious earth.  A waste of the gift you have been given in getting to be here.  And that would be a very sad thing, indeed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How To Find A Spouse...

...or a "significant other" (for those of you who eschew societal convention).

Not that I am any sort of expert in this area.  My only qualification is that I did manage to get married.  But, I have made some observations over the years, and these are my conclusions.  They are probably lacking in many ways, but here goes nothing.

First of all, a person should ask himself/herself:  "Do I want to get married?  Do I want a significant other?"  If not, that is cool.  Just be honest with yourself -- and with other people.  I have seen that there are a good number of people who say they want to get married, but their actions speak otherwise.  This can be a real time waster, all-around.  And it should be no embarrassment to want to be single.  Bachelorhood and bachelorette-hood can be very good and worthy ways of life.

And now I am going to speak primarily to the ladies, as I am one and so this is where most of my experience lies. 

If you want to marry, pay attention to how the people you date actually ARE vs. what they may say.  Actions speak louder than words.  For example, if a dude says he wants to get married, but is in the process of planning a sailing trip around the world, wake up and smell the coffee.  No offense, or anything.  I have just seen this sort of thing more than once.  Yes, he may have wondrous forearms.  In spite of that, you must strive to remain clear-headed.

Most importantly, though, be a woman with whom a man would want to spend his time and life.  Cultivate a sense of humor.  Nothing will ruin it with a guy more than if you don't laugh at his jokes.  Sincerely laugh at his jokes.  No faking it allowed here.  And don't be too hard on people.  Develop an accepting, non-judgmental attitude about others.  Be compassionate.  If your guy screws up, for heaven's sake, don't make him feel worse by throwing your criticism into the mix.  After all, if you screwed up, you would expect him to hug you and tell you how much he loves you for yourself and not for your successes.  Do the same for him.  Again -- sincerely.  No grand acting jobs allowed.  And let your guy have his life.  I have seen men run from women because those men felt oppressed -- with unreasonable demands and expectations being placed upon them by the ladies.  I have seen women expect that guys will drop all their interests and hobbies in order to spend time with them.  An utter failure, every time.  Develop your own life and interests, so as to be an interesting person.  But, just as importantly, be interested in people.  Learn to enjoy listening to others, at least as much as you enjoy talking about yourself.  Hell -- I love to talk about myself.  But, I probably find myself more interesting than others find me.  And, again, be genuine in doing these things.  Don't just "act" a certain way in order to "catch" someone.  It is vital to actually be a good person in order for a good person to truly want to be with you.

In order to attract someone to you, it is also important to care for your physical appearance.  At the risk of sounding shallow, physical attraction is -- usually -- an important component when people choose their life partners.  You may not be a stunning beauty, but you can make the most of what you've got.  You can have good hygiene, style your hair attractively, and pay attention to what you wear.  A little make-up never hurt, either.  You don't have to spend inordinate amounts of time and money on these things, but -- let's be frank here -- they are important.   It is also just plain enjoyable to look good, whether or not you are "with somebody."

And learn to recognize when "it is over."  If your family and friends are all asking you why you are dragging things out with "so-and-so," maybe you should listen to them.  Breaking up is, indeed, hard to do.  Been there.  Done that.  But, while you are frittering away your time with Mr. Wrong, Mr. Right might just pass you by.  "There are a lot of fish in the sea" may be an old saying, but it is still true.

Also -- be a happy person.  Whether you are single or in a relationship.  Count your blessings.  Cultivate a grateful attitude.  Let there be joy in your heart.  After all, happy people tend to attract others and develop friendships.  Good things -- whether or not you end up with a special someone.

I hope I have not offended anybody here.  My young-adult daughters and I have just been talking about this topic lately, and it has caused me to reflect on things I have observed over the last 30 years.  As I said, I am no expert.  I'm just throwing my two cents into the fray.

Oh, and one more little thing.  Remember in the movie "Wayne's World" where the two silly guys were in the presence of Alice Cooper (I think it was) and they kept bowing down and saying, "We are not worthy."?  Well, keep in mind that you "are worthy."  Have and project a little confidence.  Not arrogance, mind you, but confidence.  That you are good, and worthy of being with someone who will be good to -- and for -- you.