Where The Rubber Hits The Road

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You should be ashamed…or should you?

The beliefs I grew up with  go back to Eve in the garden eating that freaking apple and therefore damning all of eternity to things like pain in childbirth. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but in my world apples are nothing but a prescription for a one way ticket out of paradise, so no thank you very much. I always picture the apple that Eve picked as one of those very dark red shiny ones. You know, the same as the kind as the one that Snow White ate, that really forked her up as well. If history is supposed to teach us not to repeat our mistakes, it’s clearly not working. With people like that in our lineage, we were screwed as women from the get go.

I came from a place of equal parts grace and shame. Where Jesus died to forgive and save you from all your sins. And also, your job was to live a life like Him, which was also impossible, because sin. Quite a conundrum. Nevertheless,  you would try to be like Jesus and fail to be like Jesus the rest of your days and thus the shame piece, because well, sin is so bad, isn’t it?

It might sound like things were all bad. I mean, the shame was bad, but the people, they were another thing entirely. I have never met more sweet, caring individuals, aside from a few rotten apples (see how that apple keeps coming up?) I wouldn’t say these particular bad seeds had the devil in them, but he was definitely operating in close proximity.

My people believed in love and potlucks,  and boy, were there potlucks. Every dish you could imagine, covered in flies, mind you. But we took over Rose Ann Vuich Park with our casseroles and KFC and wicker paper plate holders. I grew up dirt poor, but somehow my family still had those wicker plate holders like our life depended on it. My mom was thrifty, though, she took advantage of all the little stamps you could collect at Alpha Beta, or IGA or whatever, and eventually came home with a complete set of free dishes.

The best part of Rose Ann Vuich Park was the playground. They had an honest to god stagecoach. You could ride inside like a lady, or climb up on the top and be the driver. There were even those metal horses up front that rocked back and forth wildly. After stuffing your face with potato salad and potato casserole and potato chips, us children would try to be the first to the playground so we could take over the stagecoach.

Love and food and community, what could go wrong. But life wasn’t all rainbows and potlucks. No, there was that shame piece. That feeling that you could never add up, never be enough. I was constantly ashamed. Ashamed that I didn’t read my bible enough, that I thought door to door evangelizing was embarrassing, that my mind wandered during prayers. I was ashamed of my body. Ashamed that I liked to flirt. Ashamed if I dressed in a way that would cause a boy to have impure thoughts. I was ashamed if I thought that girl’s bodies were beautiful. Ashamed if I wanted to have sex. Ashamed for watching R rated movies, ashamed for having dreams about other men when I was married.

One of the definitions I just came across for shame was “A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Do you hear that? Humiliation. Distress. This is not “I’ve done something and I feel bad about it”. No, this is humiliation, “I’ve done something and now I am bad.” Big difference. I don’t believe there’s any place for shame in the church. Shame makes you want to hide. Shame makes you feel like a failure. Like there is no fixing what you’ve done. Shame is a negative message about who you are as a person. It’s a message about whether or not you add up. To me, it was about if I deserved to be loved or accepted. If I was enough.

I’ve walked away from the beliefs I held as a child. They don’t serve me anymore. But I still like to think that there was once a man named Jesus who hung out with the “untouchables” of his time, and taught a message of love, kindness, acceptance and inclusion. A man who taught you how to be free from shame. That’s the kind of person I want to be.


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A letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,

For starters, I’m sorry I didn’t get you a card. I know, all you ever ask for is a nice card. Mothers everywhere echo the sentiment, while secretly hoping in their heart of hearts (wherever the heck that is) that their children will magically tap into the the hidden place full of longings, and figure out that they just want (fill in the blank). Usually it’s just a day without the damn kids crawling all over you, and how hard is it to figure that out, since the day I pushed your huge ass head out of my secret garden ALL I’ve ever wanted was a minute to myself! Kids are selfish, by nature, so mothers usually get burnt breakfast in bed and a day planned out minute by minute that usually involves mom doing 98% of the work. Ah, Mothers Day.

So I hope this blog post takes the place of a nice card. If not, the card is in the mail. It will be belated.

My mom had my sister and I very close together. When that happens we like to call it a “surprise”…which we all know is the nice word for accident. I can’t imagine how full my mom’s hands were as she adjusted to caring for two small children, especially after leaving her whole world behind in Canada to travel to whatever awaited in California. I will say, however hard it was, she never made me feel like I was an accident.

An early memory I have of my mom is her yelling from the kitchen, “If you guys yell one more time!” I can’t tell you why we were yelling. Put two girls together of similar age and there will be yelling. I also don’t know what the threat to follow would be. She was probably too tired to come up with anything meaningful.

My mom is hilarious. One of the things I love about her. My parents have lived many places and met many people over the years. And the thing that always comes up any time one of those old timers come to visit is how my mom has always made them laugh. I got a strange mix of my dad’s gift for puns and my mom’s gift for making people laugh. She memorized dozen of jokes from Readers Digest and was ready to tell them any chance that arose.

My mom taught me (and continues to teach me) about empathy. Growing up, I would come home and tell her about the way someone had hurt my feelings. And her response was, “Maybe they are going through something rough.” As a kid, that response made no sense to me. But now, as an adult, I get what a gift it is to walk in another person’s shoes. The gift of perspective and empathy. My mom continues to display such incredible kindness to the families she works with, often refugees, who have suffered unthinkable hardships.

My sister and I were home schooled for middle school. My mom had us making bagels for Home Ec, and running down the ditch bank to prepare us for running the mile (which we had heard was a requirement in high school.) There was never a dull moment, as mom grasped at straws trying to find anything at all that could be considered school work.

On occasion during high school (in which I wasn’t prepared to run the mile) my mom would take my sister and I for a blueberry muffin at a little shop before school. We would talk about life then she would drive us to school late. It didn’t hurt that we were close friends with Tish, who handled attendance at school. But I remember feeling so special on those mornings to have a little extra time with my mom. I felt like she really got us in those moments. That she understood that life needed to be about more than just school. My mom has continued that tradition all these years later, and tries to take a friend to coffee once a week. She and I have our coffee dates frequently, too, and I always love them.

My mom isn’t perfect. But I know she’d do just about anything in her power to be there for me. Including doing the Polar Bear Plunge with me three years in a row! She was a rock for me during the horrible years following my divorce. And she continues to be available to listen and even to pop over and surprise me by doing my dishes for me (a chore I hate more than anything else in life.)

My mom lives simply. She doesn’t mince words. She loves parties and coffee and beach days. She loves crime shows and mysteries and can read a book in one day, which I have yet to accomplish.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom! Thank you for all the amazing things you’ve taught me, and all the amazing ways you’ve loved and been there for me! I can’t imagine life without you!

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No spanx, I prefer to be myself

For the longest time I’ve been seeing these ads on Facebook for these glorified spanx. You just pull them up and they flatten out all the flab you carry on your stomach. For reals. The commercial shows these women pulling up these high wasted spanx and all the fat just flattens out instantaneously and they can wear that dress or Christmas sweater thcorset-148410__340ey only dreamed of wearing before. Move over Anne Sullivan, this is the real miracle worker.

I have to admit I’ve admired the work of these high wasted spanx. I’ve gained a lot of unexplained weight over the last few years and I feel pretty shitty about it. And I would love to slide into just about anything right now and not have to deal with my 7-8 month pregnant food baby mushing up on top. Talk about muffin top. Mine is Costco sized.

But then I think, this product goes all the way up to ones boobs. That’s right. So not only are your boobs held captive, now your entire torso is too. I thought we had left the 1800’s long behind.

I picture myself slinking into a New Year’s Eve party in a hot little number. Everything has been smoothed to perfection, just like a cube of butter when you first unwrap it. Then, at some point during the night, my lower half goes completely numb (from all the smushing…I mean, it’s not just fat in there. There’s important organs in there as well!) I buckle to the ground and have to roll myself out of the party, taking partygoers and tables with me as I go like some kind of rogue bowling ball. It’s not a pretty picture.

Or worse, I don’t go numb. And I meet some handsome, well off, respectful man. Who wants to respectfully take me back to his place. At which time I slide down these high wasted spanx only to burst forth like Pillsbury dough can, all that fat that’s been held back so forcefully being set free, knocking both him and his full glass of sparkling wine to the floor. Can you imagine? How do you explain that one?

I have nothing against women who purchase or wear these high wasted spanx product. Truly I don’t. You should absolutely do things that make you feel pretty or good about yourself! I just realized that for myself it would be a band aid, a very large stretchy band aid, over a problem that goes deeper than weight gain.  I need to find a way to embrace myself.

It’s not easy. I have a very long nose. My stomach and thighs have completely given up trying to look nice. I don’t get tan, I get freckles. So many freckles. I don’t find cool life hacks or recipes on Pinterest. I’m learning to be ok with these things. Very, very, painfully slowly. But I am trying.

So here’s some truth bombs. I encourage you to drop some as well. It’s so freeing to be yourself.

I tell more dad jokes than an actual dad.

I used to eat fish stick sandwiches on white bread with mayo. And loved it.

I fall in love way too fast.

I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear it in front of my shoes, where everyone can step on it. Then I say “sorry” in my best Canadian accent, when someone steps on it. I’m working on my self-esteem.

One of my greatest thrills in life is exploring abandoned buildings.

I cry every time I watch Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events.

Every time I watch Anne of Green Gables or Little Women I’m inspired to write about my childhood.

I’m attracted to younger men.

I want to marry Gilbert Blythe.

As a kid I lived in the country surrounded by orchards and I used to go out and pee in the orchards on occasion, just because I could.

I have very specific songs I listen to when I need to cry.

I cry a lot.

If I could get paid a living wage to just go around loving people, in hospitals and nursing homes and homeless camps I would do it in an instant.

I like cheap whiskey.

I used to blush every time I talked to a guy, whether I liked him or not.

I have fallen up the stairs at work multiple times.

My best friend growing up used to make me laugh so hard I would occasionally pee my pants.

I don’t know how I feel about the whole story of Jesus’ birth anymore, but I still think Christmas carols are some of the most beautiful songs.

I still have letters people wrote me in high school (I call it emotional hoarding).

The first guy I kissed after my divorce was this guy in a band who had been checking me out all night. We made out so hard he knocked my earring off. At which point I excused myself and did the walk of shame to find my friend.

The next guy I kissed was on New Year’s Eve at Daphne’s bar while Frank Sinatra played. It was one of my life’s most romantic moments. I promptly forgot his name.

We all have dirt, and scars, and weird hairs growing on our face, or belly fat, or kankles. We all have skeletons in our closets (hopefully not real ones.) Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t hide your true self under some tight-fitting nylon (literally or figuratively). You are beautiful as you are. You are funny and unique and brave and strong and intelligent. You are skilled and talented and useful. You are enough! Learn to embrace all that you are.

I’ll leave you with this song. I love it so much.  I hope you’ll check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX3lvwks7NU

You are enough!



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Spring break and social media free

My friend and I recently took a trip to San Diego for spring break. If you think being on spring break in your 40’s is unorthodox, let me tell you, it’s exactly when you should be taking a spring break. As busy working moms we were way overdue for a trip. And one is always due for an escape from the unpredictable Seattle weather.

We stayed at this lovely resort right on the water. There was hot sand sprawling out


The front entrance of the resort

before us, and a hot tub bubbling at the ready for when the wind picked up. The day we arrived the resort offered us free tickets for a nighttime boat ride. I won’t call it a “booze cruise” because it was family friendly…until 10:00, when we of course boarded.

We were under the delusion that the boat left at 10:00, then returned us to the same dock several hours later when it was done floating around. And so, we got swept up in the loud music, dancing, and hilarious mix of people.

Hours later, my friend came flying up the stairs to the upper deck where I was taking a breather, shouting my name, with a look of horror on her face. “Rachel! We missed our stop!!” This is when we learned that we were supposed to be listening to the loudspeaker… despite the thumping base and drone of sweaty people, when they announced our stop. Yes, there were stops. At opposite sides of the bay. Needless to say, we were stuck out at sea and our two-hour boat ride turned into a Gilligan’s Island kind of affair. We finally disembarked at the appropriate stop at 2:00 a.m., thanks to a wedding party that had to be dropped off at our resort. We were just grateful to be alive. O.k., so we were just grateful to know our beds were close.

I will never forget this trip. I don’t know how I possibly could. It was amazing. The funny


O.k., so I did take this picture (but I didn’t post it anywhere.) I was laughing so hard. “Door may open?? Isn’t that it’s job? I would be worried if it didn’t open!”

thing is, I don’t have pictures to prove any of it. I didn’t “check in” at the beach side taco stand, or take a selfie with the carnival funnel cake smothered in both chocolate sauce and strawberries, that I ate in its entirety. I didn’t send Snapchats from the crowded bar where we met this super funny young guy who was trying to find anyone at all who he could snuggle with and watch Star Wars.

I never once engaged in social media. In fact, I didn’t even take pictures until the day we were leaving because I knew my kids would be mad if I didn’t at least have pictures of the resort. True story.

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t post your experiences on social media, it’s like they never happened. Isn’t that sad? It’s like it’s impossible to just to experience a moment first hand, with no proof other than your experience to tell you that it really happened.

As I get older, I’m trying desperately to live in the moment. Moments happen so fast. And they’re so fleeting. And I find, that there’s something lost when a moment is being captured from behind a camera, rather than inside you. The trip with my friend will forever be locked in my memory. I don’t need social media to remind me about spring break 2018. How could I ever forget the three hour cruise that went all wrong.

And let’s be honest, many times when we take photos we’re thinking of the caption we’re going to post with it. Or how someone will respond to it. Or how cool it will look with the other things we’ve posted. Or how many likes it will get. Then the moment is lost. And all we have is some stupid picture with a cheesy caption, but not the actual imprinted memory of the moment as it happened.


Pretty, isn’t it?

My kids and I just returned from a road trip to California. There was this sunset one evening unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was as we were driving home from the beach, and the entire sky was like a canvas of bright red and orange. I pulled off the road so we could take pictures (some things truly are picture worthy. And taking photos out the window of a moving car is just plain foolish). But after we took photos we just stood there taking it all in. It was one of those times where you can literally use the word “breathtaking”. It was like this gift, just strewn across the sky. And we could have missed it if I hadn’t pulled the car over so we could just be in that moment.

These days, I don’t have many pictures to prove I’ve been on adventures. And I’m not getting a lot of likes or thumbs up or weird emojis that I am left to identify the emotion because I have never actually seen that face on anyone. I don’t need Facebook to bring up some photo, unannounced, from 18 years ago, saying – remember that one time you did that one thing. Yes. I remember. I was there.

Facebook may be able to store a lot of pictures. But I prefer to keep my memories tucked away safely inside me.

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I work at a high school and sometimes I get so disillusioned with students. They are tuned out. They are sleeping on their desk in a puddle of drool, on their phones snap chatting their brains out, ear buds in, music blasting…tuned out to the world. What is their problem??

I have heard that this generation is known for its apathy. Us older folks would know, we just love to make sweeping generalizations about an entire generation.

But, is really apathy?

I’ve seen teens organizing marches, fighting for causes, building things, inventing things, writing  music, acting in plays, leading clubs. I’ve seen passion and wonder and kindness.

So I dig a little deeper. Maybe I’ve missed something. What do so many of these “tuned out” kids have in common? What I’m finding is that it’s not their age, sex, race, or even maturity level. What they have in common is the circumstances they were born into. Things they had no control over. Things like being born with a learning disability, or fetal alcohol syndrome, or born into a house where there’s drug abuse or mental illness or absentee parents or a never ending cycle of poverty. They are kids who can’t always control their emotions or behaviors. They often show up to school after being yelled at, or without having had anything to eat. Or a shower. sometimes I’m amazed that with so much going on these kids even make it to school in the first place. It’s kind of amazing.

What I’m saying is that these kids have been beaten down. They want nothing more thanyoung-people-2770146__340 to check out. In my mind, (my fed, showered, safe, loved mind) they should want to try even harder. Push through it all so they can have hope of a better future.   And this is the part that makes me so mad. I want them to have a better life, more options, a future that’s better than their present. I know how important education is. I want them to pull themselves up and at least try. Why can’t they at least try!?!

One of my favorite quotes is from The Perks of Being a Wallflower – “We accept the love we think we deserve.” But…What if even closer to the truth is this – We accept the life we think we deserve.

Maybe, when life has beaten you down in so many different ways, you start to believe that’s all there is. That that is all that you deserve. That there is no point in trying.

If this is true, then I’m going about this all wrong. Maybe this doesn’t have to be the Titanic. Maybe there are enough lifelines for everyone.

I still believe that you can’t save anyone who doesn’t want to be rescued. That each person has to decide for themselves that they want to be saved. Not everyone has the desire or even the strength to reach out for help. But, that doesn’t mean my hands are tied.



So, I start tossing out lifelines.


There’s this student who is so great but also a handful and always in trouble. We’ve had a lot of heart to hearts. During one of those talks I told him that I believed in him. His response was that he didn’t think he could believe in himself. Ugh. So sad. So I promised him that I would do everything in my power to change that. Whenever I run into him in the halls I call out, “I believe in you!” (I also ask him how his classes are going and if he’s going to graduate and how life is in general.)  Is he embarrassed on occasion? Maybe. But he also knows how deeply I believe in him. And I’ll keep telling him til the day he graduates.

I send him a lifeline.

He just needs to know there’s someone out there who cares. He needs to know his life counts.

These kids are everywhere. They’re sleep deprived, angry, numb, snarky. They make bad choices eat bad food and shut down at school. And they need to know that someone cares.

And so I do the only thing I can. I spend my days throwing out lifelines every chance I get. Not everyone will grab one. But it’s the only thing I can do.

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Detoxing and other fun things

 The term detox definitely  comes with a negative connotation in my book. You rarely hear anything positive concerning the act of detoxing…unless, of course, you’re talking about that detox green smoothie you had at the gym after a really intense 10 minute workout.

My friend and I are on a detox of sorts. We started following a program dedicated to gut health. But part of the process of getting that fabulous 6 pack gut is detoxing                                                                                                                   (you know, because of all the days you didn’t drink a green smoothie).

My friend seemed to be detoxing like a goddess, darn her. She was feeling great and eating things she previously couldn’t (without a chaser of Pepto Bismol). It’s not that I begrudge her her healthy feelings. It’s just that while she seems to be pooping rose petals, I am releasing remains from the La Brea Tar Pit and have broken out in a rash that is so itchy it feels like I have bathed in a vat of poison ivy stew.

Too much information? Isn’t that kind of what a detox is, though? Too much information…leaving the body.

Speaking of too much information, I’ve been taking a college math course in attempt to finish my bachelors degree. Finally. But that’s a topic for another day. It’s supposed to be this intro college math course so of course the cocky part of my brain was like “ I got this in the cerebral bag!”

Instead, this class has been kicking my butt across the floor and under the couch where scary things live. And the thing is, I’m passing the stupid ol’ class…with a C. C!!! This “intro” class has laid waste to my perfect GPA. I know, I should be pleased just to pas. But I am one of those people. You know the ones. The ones who get way too much satisfaction, as well as find their entire value as a human being in what they can accomplish. This class is not only hard, but it makes me feel stupid and lame and like I deserve to live under the couch with the scary things.

Some things in life can make you feel so low or worthless or lame or useless. That was this class. And that’s when I realized, sometimes the detox that needs to happen is in your mind. You know, that thing floating around in your head that houses all those negative thoughts. They are just as toxic to you as all those Cheetos, Ben & Jerry’s, and rum and cokes.

I have to let go of the desire to be perfect or get everything right. The desire to have a clean kitchen or nice underwear. I have to realize that I am still a fantastic person even though I prefer to inhale an ice cream cone, rather than to find its volume (yes, this was a question in my math class). And that I’ll never live in one of those million dollar homes with a 48% down payment, 18 closing points, and an APR of 8.3% (it takes a rocket scientist to solve those amortized loan problems anyway.)

Detoxing is hard because it can make us feel yucky for a time. But releasing toxins from the body and the mind will always be a good thing. Sometime we’re full of too much information/inflammation/spicy cheetos/self doubt that needs to leave the body. So, don’t fight the detox. It might be just the thing your mind and body needs.

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Single and finally loving it

Single and loving it? These are not words I ever thought would come forth from my mouth. I wasn’t happy being single as a teen. I wasn’t happy as a semi-adult when I was being a bridesmaid, yet again, while wishing it was my wedding I was walking in. And I certainly wasn’t happy with my singleness post divorce when I had an insatiable desire to be loved and wanted and not alone.


The road to contented singleness has been a rocky one.

I just started watching Sex and the City. I pride myself in loving things well after their shelf life, so no, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m only now catching the show.  Just look on my Pandora feed. I’ve been listening to Erasure. I have no problem enjoying old things.

I had always wondered what the fuss was about, especially when everyone was referring to themselves as an Amanda, Charlotte, Samantha or Carrie. Well, now I get it. Here are four single women with every imaginable characteristic, flaw, view on life, and dating habit. Take your pick. You’re sure to find yourself in there somewhere. I admit to finding myself undeniably drawn to the character Carrie Bradshaw. Certainly not because of her New York apartment, perfect golden locks or $800 shoe fetish. That is where we part ways, to be sure. My most expensive shoes are from Designer Shoe Warehouse and there is nothing designer about them.

But Carrie has this affinity for dating unavailable men. This, I have become a pro at and can painfully relate to her horrible magnetism to Mr. Big, who could not be more unavailable. And it’s not even unavailable as in attached to someone else. No, unavailable in other, more complicated ways.

My first plunge was with an old college boyfriend I reconnected with after my divorce. I truly didn’t go into the relationship wanting anything more than friendship. I missed him and his kindness, and the fact that we were both single made it ok so communicate again (after many years!) I was unprepared for two things when we started talking. One, that the attention would be so nice. And two, that he had held a bit of a flame for me all these years. Boy, did that make it impossible. We spoke on the phone but mostly emailed because he was in a different state. It kind of went from zero to sixty, from talking about work, to flirting a good deal and sending emails all throughout the day.

Aside from the distance, we were different from each other in ways that were insurmountable. We both knew that, and talked about it a lot. But that didn’t stop me from believing we could actually succeed at a long distance, lop-sided relationship. When we finally broke off communication, because it had just become too confusing and difficult to maintain,  I was a total mess. I grieved hard and felt unwanted for a while. And wanted to reconnect with him at least a dozen times after.

Then I fell for another guy who was clearly unavailable. He even told me so. He lived in the same time zone, at least, but he wanted friendship only. But, my god, he was handsome. It’s hard not to fall for that. And he was kind, generous, smart, well read. We had a blast. We went for hikes and stayed up all hours of the night watching each other’s favorite shows. Despite his insistence that he had only friendship for me, things were often confusing and misleading. I fell head first, despite the warnings. I was a mess. I would have done anything for him. I eventually had to break off what we had going. I was in love, and he was not. It was horrible. I cried for months. I haven’t seen him in several years and it still feels like I lost a pretty great friend.

I have been through so much grief chasing after someone who is not meant to be mine.

I’ve chased after guys on Plenty of Fish who spent days chatting with me, then suddenly ghosted. Apparently that’s a thing now, ghosting. And I don’t mean coming back to seduce you over a pottery wheel. No, it means quite possibly literally falling off the face of the earth. It means spending a whole day on your phone (when you have so many other things you should be doing) telling someone your whole life story through little message bubbles…making plans, picking a place to meet up next weekend, picking a wedding gown (in your mind, of course). And then, the next day, poof. Gone. Never to be heard from again. Ghosting.

I have made second date plans before even having a first date and waited for a guy to call me while he was probably making out with some younger, hotter fish. How did I become so drawn to unavailable men?

So I finally did a Google search. Google therapy. There’s an app for you. And this is what I found – insecure, hurting, or anxious women are drawn to unavailable men because #1, we think there’s no danger of getting hurt, or #2 we believe that if we can turn an unavailable man available by our sheer wonderfulness, if we can work really hard to make someone love us, then we can finally believe in ourselves and our worth.

How sad. Because if a man is unavailable, it says something about him, not about me. And my value should never lie in convincing someone to love me.

And that is how I came to be in this place. I finally started to see my own value, and stopped needing to find it in a relationship with someone else.

Oh, I don’t miss the days of  neurotically checking my phone to see if I got a text or a like or little bubble message from Plenty of Fish. You can keep your fish. And Miss Bradshaw, you can keep all those unavailable New York men to yourself. Because I’m single and finally loving it!