Create a very special Valentine's Day -- for you!

I'll bet most of us can remember at least a few occasions when we spent days or weeks planning the perfect Valentine's Day (or the perfect surprise birthday, or the perfect surprise getaway . . .) for a special man in our lives.

And, I'll further bet that relatively few of us can remember a time when a loved one did anything even remotely that special for us.

Well, it's time to do something about that.

You may have noticed that the women who get all the good things in life are those women our moms disapproved of.  The ones who weren't appropriately humble and self-sacrificing.  The ones who didn't mind showing off a little, and who liked to stand out in the crowd instead of fading into the wallpaper.

So how bad were these fun-loving, have-it-all women, really?  And, wasn't there a little bit of sour grapes in our moms' reasoning?  Why is being a selfless doormat what the "good" woman is supposed to be?

That woman who everyone said was able to "twist a man around her little finger"?  Modern day translation:  She was charming, cared about what she wanted as much as she cared about what "he" wanted, and wouldn't allow herself to be a victim.  Is that really so bad?

This Valentine's Day, (whether or not you're romantically involved at the moment), here's what I propose:  Try on a little of that "I deserve the best" personality.

Step 1.   If you have children, or a special "signifcant other" in your life, ask for what you want.  There's still time to receive a thoughtful homemade Valentine, or a bunch of pretty flowers.  Remember, those who ask, get.  We teach people how to treat us, so let's start teaching!

Step 2.   Give yourself something that you'd love someone special to give you.  Don't wait for that special guy to come along.  Give yourself a special gift this Valentine's Day that will remind you how much you love and care about yourself.  Have fun picking it out.  Every time you see, use, or wear this item, you'll remember that you are a very precious person who makes sure that everyone treats you right.

Step 3. Take this very special day of love to start one small daily practice that will help you grow in self love every day.  This should be a very simple gesture of self-care that doesn't take very long to perform, but makes you feel relaxed and cared for.  What will it be for you?  For me, sometimes it's just to take time to paint my nails, or to have a few minutes each morning to do my smiling meditation (just sit still, close your eyes, relax your breathing and smile).  For more on the power of smiling, click here.

Dare to take these three steps, and you are guaranteed to have a beautiful Valentine's Day -- and to start the path to becoming that women who gets to have everything she wants.

Go meet some facebook friends (especially the ones you don't even know)

Awhile ago, I happened upon the blog of author ArLynn Presser, a romance novelist (and former lawyer) with anxiety disorder who decided to embark on a yearlong project to meet every one of her then 335 facebook friends in order to stretch her boundaries (which, at that time, were the four walls of her home).  

Delving a little deeper, I found Presser's intriguing Wikipedia bio:  "Presser was born on July 23, 1960 to Justin and Aleta Leiber, who later put her up for adoption before divorcing. Presser was adopted by Donald and Judy Patrick of Western Springs and given the name Lynn Melody Patrick. She left the Patrick family when she was 15 and became a ward of the DuPage County Juvenile Justice agency. Presser did not finish high school but graduated from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1985. She married Stephen B. Presser and had two sons together before divorcing in 2010."

So, at the time she began her Face to Facebook project, she had just become a divorcée.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Today, a couple of years after her project ended, guess what?  She's now up to 5,000 facebook friends, and you can see glamorous photos of her on her facebook page

In my opinion, Presser's get-out-of-the-house project was a brilliant way to become a dynamic divorcée.   So, here's her Face to Facebook blog from the very beginning for your perusal.  I have to confess that I haven't read it all, but it strikes me that her life got a lot bigger and more colorful during her year of self-enforced tête-à-têtes all over the world, and she continues her blog to this day. 

Need another reason to reach out and touch someone?  Watch this video to find out how checking in with folks you barely know, or haven't contacted in a long time can pay big rewards -- personally or professionally.  Don't let the fact that this video comes from Inc. magazine's Idea Lab make you click away.  It is worth the view.  In spades.

Hope you'll be inspired and think about whom you'd like to be back in touch with . . . or meet for the first time.  If a 50-year-old with anxiety disorder can do it, you can, too!

Moscow, Belgium: When you need a film that commiserates with you . . .

This weekend's suggested movie viewing is Moscow, Belgium, the 2008 film by director Christophe Van Rompaey.

If you're tired of a string of lackluster dates, this film will convince you that your experiences are not really thaaaat bad.

The film is billed as a comedy, but it's more a drama with touching comedic elements.  Set in Belgium, in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Ghent, we follow the life of 41-year-old, yet-to-be-divorced Matty, as she works at her dead-end job, goes about raising her three children, and begins a relationship with a truck driver, despite herself.

A phenomenal character study of a single, midlife mom.  Without the Cinderella ending.  Very much worth the viewing, and you may see parts of yourself in Barbara Sarafian's portrayal of the leading character.  Sometimes it's much easier to see yourself outside of yourself, in someone else.

Here's the New York Times review.  And, here's a Netflix link to the film.

It's summertime again: Forget about dating, and just make new friends : )

When May arrives each year, if there's no one super-special in my life, I can start feeling lonely and disconnected, wanting someone really fun to date for the all-too-short warm-weather months.

So, at about that time, I start paying attention to my online dating site again.  I start taking a look at the available guys, trying to determine which ones aren't quite as old and decrepit as the others, not too deadly dull, and of those, which are not sooo disastrously focused on women much much younger than they.

Heading off the summertime blues
Last year, I wasted the better part of a year going against my own advice -- giving try after try to someone whom I felt was the best of what was available.  And, it wasn't a bad summer.  Fall not so great.  Winter even worse.   

He told me, on one of the first dates, that he had zero emotional intelligence.  I wasn't sure what that meant, but I came to find out. And I was immediately much happier without him. 

When May arrived this year, I, once again, did check in with the dating site, and I did go on a couple of go-see coffee dates.  Meh to the 9s.  (Or, hell to the no!)

I began to consider my motives.  What did I want from this?

Well, shallow as it sounds, I really just wanted to meet someone nice whose eyes sparkled at the sight of me.  I wanted to dine outdoors in balmy weather, and get dressed up for someone who would appreciate it.  I wanted to laugh, drink some wine, share stories both silly and sad.  Go on long walks.  See new things together.  Stuff like that.

It finally occurred to me:  I don't need a man for those things.  I need girlfriends!

This is a job for girlfriends
If you've been reading this blog from the early posts, you know that it started as a 40+ single girl's guide to navigating the weekends solo.  That's because, post-divorce, all of my girlfriends were happily married or in relationships.  They were busy on the weekends, and I would have felt out of place being a third wheel or hanging out with their families.

I had a few things to sort out for myself anyway.  So I spent a couple of somewhat lonely summers
getting comfortable with my own company.

But now, it's different.  And I need to take the same advice that I give my Dynamic Divorcee coaching clients.  It's pretty easy to make new friends and get closer with old ones:  We single ladies just have to make the first move, and make it a few times in a row.

Schedule weeknight dinners for some one-on-one time with girlfriends who are married.  Saturday night out with a couple of lifelong friends who are now single, too.  And sometimes, even a night out with a married couple.

So far, this summer, I've had a lot of fun, and hardly noticed that I'm unattached.  (Well, actually, I'm not completely unattached.  But there's no one in my life right now who has my undivided attention, and certainly no one in town who is anywhere near as much fun as my friends.)

All it takes is a text or a phone call
A couple of my Dynamic Divorcee clients are a little chagrined that it takes so much effort to engineer these social events.  That is, that we are the ones who have to do the calling and occasion-making.  But is that so bad?  How much effort is that, really?

Much less effort than going on boring coffee dates, and even more boring and disappointing second dates, while feeling like maybe you should really try to make this lackluster thing work.  More fun to get dressed up for friends who appreciate it rather than to be looking pretty for a guy who shows up in a t-shirt and shorts.

Yes, for a while, you may have to be the one who calls a certain friend (or someone you would like to have as a friend) over and over.  She's not calling you, and you're the one making the effort.  But, after a few rounds of this, you can ask:  How about you call me next time?

It's good practice to be proactive and go for what you want -- even in friendship.

Give it a try:
1.  Make a short list of some people who make you feel good.  People you'd like to see more of.  These should be people who are upbeat, positive, and encourage you.  People who think you're great.
2.  This week, contact at least three of them.  Suggest a get-together:  Coffee, a drink, lunch, something that doesn't take a huge time-commitment.
3.  Schedule it.
4.  See how you feel after your date. You had fun, didn't you?  Way more fun than responding to messages on OK Cupid.
5.  Repeat.  I have a list of my favorite people in my city whom I may not get to see often.  My goal is to engineer a chance to see each one at least four times a year.
6.  Enlarge your list of friends/potential friends.  Notice when you meet someone in the course of your life whom you'd like to know better.  Then, start with step 2.

Have fun with the rest of the summer!  And let me know how it goes : )

The Dynamic Divorcee . . . on facebook : )

Introducing The Dynamic Divorcee facebook page, where you'll find much more frequent (but much briefer) posts on a variety of subjects of interest to midlife divorcees like me.

You'll find out why, even though there can be moments when it would be fun to be part of a couple, overall, it's beautiful to be a midlife single.

The Dynamic Divorcee believes that we've all spent way too much time beating ourselves up already.  If we're not reveling in every day -- or looking at every day as an opportunity for joy, happiness, and fun -- we're missing out on a chance for happiness that's laid at our feet.

Join me on facebook for frequent doses of a new attitude, and, for personal attention, contact me here.

The Dynamic Divorcee

I'm excited to announce the birth of a new venture:  The Dynamic Divorcee!  It's time for me to start sharing all I have learned as I recovered from my post-divorce odyssey, which has taken me on a journey that I could never have expected.

But it was not until much later that I found so many midlife women shared the same tedious and time-consuming trajectory.  Without quite knowing it, this journey often involved getting themselves back to where they were before marriage:  That place where they were at full power, full flower, and in charge of their destinies.

The Dynamic Divorcee is dedicated to shortening the wandering-in-the-wilderness process and giving you easy, concrete tools to put your emotional life back on track so that you have the desire and ability to take the next steps on your unique path.

Want to know my story?  It's here.

Want to know how you can receive more information about The Dynamic Divorcee:  my e-zine, and invitations to free workshops?  Here you go.