Aug 13, 2016

Enlightenment

Well, I've been pretty much M.I.A. lately.  No dating stories.  No candy corner.  And I've missed writing!  But life has been crazy busy with back to school issues (including no bus transportation for my kiddos...ugh) and don't get me started on what's going on at my day job.  Each night when I get home I crash, and then the weekend is pretty much a blur of trying to keep my house clean and keeping up with my kids and their social lives.

In the midst of it all, one of my best friends got all the way real with me and served up some home truths.  After becoming frustrated with my ex (again) over something he had or hadn't done (again), my friend said this: "Why are you allowing someone like that to have so much control over your emotions?"

Ouch.  The truth really does hurt.  You can only let someone drive you crazy if you give them the keys.

I left my ex almost 10 years ago.  Ever since that day I promised myself I would never allow another man to control me the way he did.  As strong and independent as I pride myself on being, it only takes one wrong word from him to put me in a bad mood.  I do not understand why he does the things he does, and why he fails to do the things I believe he should...and I probably never will.  But at the end of the day, my kids are healthy, happy, and a joy to be around.  They are well taken care of and they know they are loved.  I have been blessed with the ability to take care of them financially with little support from him.  THAT should be where my focus lies, not on the person I wish he would be that he probably never will become.

Over the past few weeks, as well as the busyness of life in general, I have been making a conscious effort to not allow him to frustrate me.  I am letting go of the bitterness and the grudgeful mindset I didn't realize I had been holding on to for all of these years.  I don't enjoy having conversations with him - I literally cringe when circumstances require me to say "hello" - but from now on I will treat him as I would like to be treated...whether I think he deserves to be treated that way or not.  That doesn't mean I have to be his best buddy.  It doesn't mean I have to have conversations with him beyond passing along important details regarding the kids' health and welfare.  Being cordial is more than enough.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."   Colossians 4:6

We should all have that one friend that isn't afraid to tell you what you need to know.  I'm thankful my friend broke it down for me, even though it stung a little.  Knowing he was saying it out of love made it much easier to accept.  I can already feel a weight has been lifted knowing I don't have to be mad at my ex anymore.  What he did back then was wrong, and there have been some things he's done recently that were wrong too.  But holding that against him only hurts me.  And I'm way too smart for that!

So now that I have that off my chest, I'll be back to the regular schedule next week! 

Enjoy your weekend xx

Jul 25, 2016

#3: Where The Gentlemen At??

Here we go for round 3!  This week's story was submitted to The Huffington Post by 28 year-old Jen from New York, for an article titled 21 First-Date Horror Stories To Remind You That Romance Is Dead:

"I had a date with a guy who has been asking me out for a while.  We went out for dinner and drinks which he made me pay for myself (which is whatever...I can handle myself), but when we got back to the bar we had met at for drinks before dinner for him to return me to my car he leaned in for a kiss and I gave him a quick peck and he said 'that's all I get!?'  And pointed...downstairs.  Yup buddy that's all you get."

Wow...where do I even start on this one??!

Lesson Learned #1: Be A Gentleman!
I'm going to approach this a little differently than I have in my previous posts.  Usually my lessons learned are aimed at the lady in the scenario, but this time I'm talking to the fellas!

Jen mentions this guy had been asking her out for a while.  Makes me wonder if Jen had been putting him off for a while for some reason she doesn't mention.  Regardless, he eventually wore her down and she agreed to go out for dinner and drinks.  So why in the world did he make her pay?!  In my opinion, the guy should absolutely cover the cost of the first date.  No exceptions.  That doesn't mean the first date has to be elaborate or expensive.  I've said before a great date could be a walk in the park followed by a picnic while watching the sunset.  What's more romantic than a beautiful sunset??

It irks me that this guy pursued Jen "for a while" and then made her pay for her own dinner and drinks.  Guys, if you're not ready to treat a woman like a queen on that first date and make her thankful she eventually agreed to go out with you, don't even bother asking her out.


I really feel this is where we as parents come in.  We have to raise our little men and women to truly understand the appropriate way to treat and be treated by the opposite sex.  But that's another blog post for another day.  Stay tuned for that coming soon!

Lesson Learned #2: Be Prepared
Clearly, Jen is a smart girl.  She came prepared to pay for herself in the event the guy chose not to pay for her.  The issue of who will pay for the first date can be a difficult one, and is not usually discussed prior to the actual date.  I've always assumed the guy has it covered.  However, I always have my debit card handy just in case.  A few years ago I went on a second date with a guy to a barbecue spot I recommended.  He had mentioned in one of our phone conversations that he loved barbecue so I knew he'd love it.  I got there late and he already had a table.  It was one of those places where you order at the front and they bring it over to you.  So when I got to the table, he says to me "How about you go and order the food and I'll hold the table".  In my mind, I'm thinking hmmm...shouldn't that be the other way around?  As in I hold the table and you get the food?  But I rolled with it...and ended up paying for his meal in the process.  Thank God I had the money to take care of it.  It's not that I minded paying for him, it was the fact he made it to where I had no choice.  Fellas, don't be that guy.  When a woman is ready to say "It's cool, I got it", she will.  And if she doesn't, then maybe it's time for you to rethink whether she's the one for you.  There's another blog post idea...

Lesson Learned #3: Avoid Getting Physical On The First Date
I told you Jen is a smart girl.  Homeboy leaned in for a kiss and she gave him a quick peck.  She knew her comfort level and stuck with it.  But he had the nerve to take it a step further and insinuate that he expected more!  So not only did he make her pay her own way, he expected her to give up the goods as well!  Where the heck did Jen find this guy??

Kinda crude but 100% true.  Being asked to go dutch on a first date is not sexy.

As a rule, I don't kiss on the first date.  In fact, the majority of my first dates have been so platonic that kissing was the last thing on my mind.  Occasionally, the only thing on my mind after a first date is getting in my car and pretending the whole ordeal never happened.  That said, I have had a couple first dates where the connection was so strong, it felt natural to make an exception and end the evening with a kiss.  But that's about as far as it went.  A true gentleman doesn't expect anything more than a kiss on the first date, and certainly doesn't behave as though he's entitled to more when the woman refuses.

I think it's important to keep things as platonic as possible for the first several dates.  As women, we are naturally more emotional than our male counterparts.  If a man kisses or touches me in the right way, next thing you know I'm planning a wedding and picking out names for our babies.  And that, my friends, only leads to disappointment when you learn who he really is and maybe that he's not as into you as you thought.  I know this from experience.  Take the time to get to know him and make sure he's worth your time and effort before you commit to becoming intimate with him.  It is so worth it in the long run.

Do you agree with my "lessons learned" from this week's dating nightmare?  Comment and let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Jul 21, 2016

Bradley Cooper

Eamonn McCormack/Wireimage

Ahhh...Bradley Cooper.  Those eyes.  That smile.  It's no wonder he was voted "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 2011.  He was born and raised in the Philadelphia, PA area, and has starred in multiple TV shows and movies including Alias, Wedding Crashers and He's Just Not That Into You.  He's probably most famous for his role as Phil in The Hangover movies.  I have to admit, that's when I first noticed just how cute he is!

Not only is he super handsome, he's also super smart.  He has a B.A. in English from Georgetown University, and a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Actors Studio Drama School at The New School.  He has also received multiple Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his movie roles including Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

So let's take a moment and appreciate the fineness of Bradley Cooper. 

You're welcome 😉




Jul 18, 2016

#2: Steak! It's What's For Dinner. Or is it...??

Hello friends!  Here we go for round 2!! I hope you're enjoying reading these posts as much as I'm enjoying writing them!! 

I received an email from a reader named Leann, who'd like to share one of her dating horror stories.  Thanks Leann!!

"I had been talking to a guy on a dating app for a couple of weeks.  He lived an hour away from me and one day he said he would come to my town and take me out for steak.  Two days before our date, he tells me he doesn't have the money to take me out.  I was a little taken aback but appreciated his honesty I guess (HEL-Lo!  Should've been a huge red flag!)  I instead invited him to my place for steaks.  I cooked an amazing meal and made sure my house was perfect.

As he arrived he told me that his jeep got repossessed but borrowed a friend's car to get to me.  He came in and ate like I have never seen a human eat before.  He stuffed his face disgustingly as if he hadn't eaten in days!

We watched an episode of impractical jokers, at which he laughed like a hyena.  After it was over, he left and that was that.  He told me afterwards he was staying at a friend's house while he got back on his feet.  He accidentally sent me his location one night and I decided to google it.  It was a hotel!  I believe he was homeless.  He made me believe he had a really nice, well paying job.  I found out that at one point he worked there but they fired him and had a judgment against him.  I can't remember the reason."

Lesson Learned #1: Do Your Homework
I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson learned from all of these dating nightmares.  See Trivia Night for more details, in case you missed it.  It is SO important to know who you're going to be spending time with before you even decide what you're going to wear.  Can't stress this enough!

Lesson Learned #2: Pay Attention To The Red Flags
Pay attention to the vibe you get when you have a conversation with a potential date.  Don't over-analyze, but do listen to what they say and how they say it.  No matter how trivial it may seem, if something doesn't look, sound, feel or smell right...if your gut tells you to run in the other direction, pay attention!  Like Maya Angelou said, "When a man tells you who he is...believe him."  I believe this is the Holy Spirit telling you that this particular person is not for you!  In this instance, Leann mentions that the fact he told her he couldn't afford to take her out (even though a steak dinner was his idea in the first place) should have been a huge red flag for her.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the possibility of romance, we miss (or ignore) the signs telling us to move on in another direction. 

Ms. Angelou said it best.

Lesson Learned #3: The First Date MUST Be In A Public Spot
I don't care how long you talk to a guy online, whether through text, Skype, FaceTime, IM...the first date HAS to be in a public place.  This is especially important if you have children at home.  You might think you know the guy because you've shared personal details about your life with him over the course of a few weeks, but you never really know a person until you spend time getting to know them face-to-face.  Skype and FaceTime don't count, in my opinion.  Notice how the whole truth started to come out as soon as he walked through the door?  He doesn't have a car.  He eats like a caveman.  He laughs like a hyena. He's most likely homeless.  These are facts that don't necessarily come out in the course of a FaceTime conversation.  Not to mention the safety aspects of inviting a stranger into your home.  I've watched enough of the news and Investigation Discovery to know that this is not generally a good idea.  Thankfully for Leann, inviting this guy over to her house didn't end badly.

If he can't afford to take you to dinner, he really shouldn't be looking for a relationship in the first place.  But if you think he has potential to do great things; if he's putting in the work to be successful, and you're willing to wait for him to get to where he wants to be, a good date doesn't have to be expensive.  There are plenty of state parks around with beautiful views and walking trails.  Although it wasn't really a date, I recently went hiking with a guy friend and had a great time.  You could take a picnic and watch the sunset.  This allows for lots of conversation so you can really get to know who you're dealing with, while ensuring your safety since you'll be out in public.

Do you agree with my "lessons learned" from this week's dating nightmare?  Comment and let me know if you have any other suggestions!



Jul 14, 2016

Idris Elba

In my humble opinion, Idris Elba is quite possibly one of the most beautiful men to ever walk the face of the Earth.  I dare you to disagree with me.

Craig McDean/Interview Mag

Born in London, England, Mr. Elba is a talented actor, musician and DJ.  He has played many roles on TV and the big screen, including Detective John Luther on the BBC show Luther, and Russell "Stringer" Bell on HBO's The Wire.  And ladies, as of a few months ago he is SINGLE.  Heyyyyyy... ;-)

Someone posted a link to Idris' most recent photo shoot on Facebook, and once I was done drooling I knew I had to share with my lovely readers.  After all, it'd be rude to keep him all to myself.

Click here to see more hot pictures from the shoot. 

You're welcome...

Jul 11, 2016

#1 - Trivia Night

I am so excited to get this section of my blog up and running!  I love talking about dating and relationships, though not necessarily the act of dating itself, so these posts make perfect sense for me!

Our first story comes from a 24 year old named Serena shared on Bustle:

"I was on a Tinder date with a guy who had completely lied about himself, so I was already annoyed. The bar we were at was having a trivia night; since we entered a round late, we came in last place. At this bar, the losing team (us) and the winning team (a couple on a legit good first date) had to participate in a 'physical challenge.' The announcer made me and the other girl blindfold our partners, and then he handed us gigantic cucumbers covered in peanut butter. He told our partners that they had to lick off all the peanut butter in order to win. Since I hated the guy so much for lying about himself and getting me into this situation, I was maybe (a lot) rougher with the cucumber than I should have been. At one point, I basically shoved it into his mouth to get it over with, and he immediately knocked it out of my hand. It rolled under a pinball machine and we were disqualified. I stayed for 20 more mortifying minutes before faking a work emergency."

So if you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years and have no idea what Tinder is, it's a dating app you can download on your smartphone.  You put in your search criteria (preferred gender, location and age) and the app sends you a bunch of profiles to review.  Swipe right if you like what you see, swipe left if you don't.  If you both swipe right, you get a cutesy message saying you're a match and you're free to communicate within the app to learn more about each other.

It's not clear from Serena's story how much contact she had with her date prior to meeting up, or what exactly he lied about.  However, here are 3 lessons I learned from her story:

Lesson Learned #1: Do Your Homework
When I meet a guy online, I have to know more about him than he's already told me.  So when we talk on the phone or meet up,  and the conversation (hopefully) begins to flow, he's pretty much confirming what I already know. Yeah, it may defeat the purpose of the conversation itself, but at least I know I'm talking to the dude in the profile pic.

The easiest place to start is Facebook, since most everyone has a profile.  Some dating sites, including Tinder, are even linked to Facebook and you can see who your mutual friends are which makes stalking researching your potential date even easier.  If you have mutual friends, don't be afraid to ask them about him.  Check out his pictures and make sure there's no one around who looks like they could possibly be his girlfriend/wife/significant other.  Make sure he looks the same in ALL of his pictures - I almost went on a Tinder date with a guy who looked different in every single picture he had posted.  Notice I said "ALMOST". I need to know what I'm walking into!  Be on the lookout for fake profiles that seem too good to be true.  Catfish, anyone? Umm...no thanks.

By the time you find his Facebook profile, you'll likely have his full name so then you can move on to LinkedIn to confirm his professional life.  Google him, search his name in the sex offender registry and your state's Department of Corrections (DOC) website.  Most DOCs have a database you can search for both past and present inmates.  I'm serious, I have used all of these easily accessible and free online resources to research a potential date, and as a result I've avoided a potentially dangerous situation on more than one occasion.  Like the time some guy emailed me on Match on behalf of his friend who was so shy he just couldn't email me himself (red flag #1).  The guy gave me just enough information to find out that his "friend" had spent time in prison for multiple sexual offenses.  I promptly deleted his emails, blocked his profile and kept it moving.  #byefelipe

Lesson Learned #2: First Dates Don't Have To Be Adventurous
Granted, trivia night isn't exactly adventurous under normal circumstances.  But if you're on a first date with a guy you barely know, it could turn out to be pretty awkward as it was for Serena.  A dinner date may seem cliché, but it gives you an opportunity to talk to the guy over a somewhat limited period of time and if you're not feeling it you can leave after dessert...if it even gets that far.  If things go great, you can continue chatting over drinks or head to a movie.  Save the adventurous stuff for the second date when you have a better idea of who you're hanging out with.

The other great thing about a dinner date is you'll get to see how he treats the wait staff.  This is huge for me.  If he's disrespectful to them, you'll know he's that kind of guy.  No matter how sweet he may be to you on that first date, he'll probably end up talking to you the same way eventually.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Lesson Learned #3: Be Honest With Yourself...And Him
I'll admit this is a tough one for me.  I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings.  I mean really, who does??  But if things are obviously not going well, it's best to be honest rather than prolong the agony.  Why suffer through the embarrassment and awkwardness a minute longer than you have to?  First dates are awkward enough!  You don't have to be mean about it, but say something along the lines of "Hmm...this isn't going so well, is it?"  Maybe get a to-go box and cut your losses.  Another reason why dinner is the best option for a first date.

Several years ago I was on a first date with a guy who spent most of the evening telling me how his wife had cheated on him with his best friend.  By the way, don't talk about how your ex done did you wrong on the first date.  It's not cute.  Like, not at all.  Anyway, I was not feeling him but I didn't know how to express it.  So when the conversation began to dwindle, I pulled my phone out and started checking Facebook, emails...whatever just to let him know I had tuned out.  I never heard from him again.  Probably not the best way to handle it but mission accomplished regardless.

Any other suggestions for how Serena's date could have gone better?  Comment below and let a sista know!

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Jul 9, 2016

Dating Stories

I have yet to meet anyone that sincerely enjoys dating.  I'm not talking about comfortable dating once you've fallen head over heels in love with your perfect match.  I'm talking about the dreaded first, second, maybe even third dates.  Whether it's a blind date, a Tinder date, or you decided to live dangerously and date a work colleague (NOT a good idea), that first date is the stuff nightmares are made of.  What should I wear?  Should I wear my hear up or down?  Straight or curly?  Should I order a salad so he doesn't think I eat too much?  Will he expect me to pay?  What will we talk about?  What if I don't like him?!  The pressure can be overwhelming!

So in an effort to alleviate that stress, I figured I'd take the time to look on the more humorous side of dating.  I'll pick one hilarious dating story each week, either from online or my own experience, and after having a good chuckle perhaps I'll analyze what went wrong and what could have been done differently to make the experience more enjoyable for all involved.

If you'd like to have your hilarious/disastrous dating experience featured, email me at charlotte@mslawrencewrites.com.

First post will be up on Monday!


Jul 8, 2016

So yeah...this happened...



A little over a week ago, I was headed to pick up my son form his dad's house for some mommy/son time...and this ish right here happened.  My first fender bender where I was at least partially to blame.  I don't really want to get into the details of how it happened since the insurance companies are still investigating in order to make a decision as to liability.  However, I will say that after this accident, I'll just go ahead and sit in traffic from now on.  Getting to my destination a few minutes earlier just isn't worth the deductible and more importantly, risking my life.

Thankfully, my kids were not in the car when this happened.  I can still remember the sound and feel of the impact, so I can only imagine the lingering effects this experience would have had on them.  It happened so quickly.  I literally did not see him coming.  Just another reminder of how quickly life can be taken away with absolutely no warning.  So hug your kids and your loved ones and tell them you love them at every opportunity, because you never know when it will be your last...
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Jul 6, 2016

My Soulmate

At the tender age of 21, I got married to a man I truly believed was my best friend.  I didn't have a traditional wedding with my family and friends there to witness what should have been the most special day of my life.  No maid of honor, no best man, no bridesmaids or cute little flower girls.  I didn't even have my dad walk me down the aisle.  It was just the bride, the groom and the minister.

Looking back on that day, I wish I had done things differently.  I was never the kind of girl to dream about a fairytale wedding, which is probably why mine went down the way it did.  But these days, it seems all I can think about is how I would do things if I ever have the chance to walk down the aisle a second time.  I'll hear a song and think, wow that would be an amazing first dance song...



Or wow, I could totally imagine myself walking down the aisle to this one...


Yeah, OK I'm kind of a John Legend fan!

And I may or may not have a secret Pinterest board to store all of my wedding planning ideas......oh come on, I know I'm not the only one!

When my marriage ended, I spent a lot of time looking for love in the wrong places.  I had felt unloved and unwanted for so long that I was just yearning for a man to validate me.  Getting married again equated to being controlled again, so a wedding was the furthest thing from my mind.

But as time went on and my emotional wounds healed, I began yearning for the real deal.  I began thinking about and praying for my soulmate.  That one man who gets me completely.  We can express ourselves with a simple glance, and finish each other's sentences.  He gives me the space to be me, even though we are one.  My protector, my comfort, my shoulder to lean on in uncertain times.  In essence, he is my best friend. 

For a long time, I kept these thoughts to myself, sharing them only with God in my prayer time; letting Him know I'm ready whenever He is.  The featured scripture for my devotional over the weekend was Habakkuk 2:2, which encourages us to "write the vision and make it plain..."  It's OK to dream, to wish, to hope, even to have secret Pinterest boards and to have faith that you will receive your happy ending.

If Facebook is anything to go by, at least two couples get engaged or married every week.  And don't get me started on the new babies!  There was a time when I would get frustrated, wondering why they were getting the blessing I had been praying so earnestly for.  That sounds so selfish of me now.  However, over the past several years, I have learned not to envy what others have.  I have accepted that my time is coming.  Rather than be envious, I have chosen to use this time to prepare for what is to come.  Because my next walk down the aisle will certainly be my last.

I do believe I have already met my soulmate.  And when the time is right, John Legend will serenade us through our fairytale wedding and into the rest of our lives together.  Until then, I'll keep on pinning and praying.  I encourage you to do the same for whatever your heart's desire may be.  Dare to dream!!

Jun 28, 2016

Family Vacation

My kids and I visited Panama City Beach earlier this month.  Lord knows we needed a vacation!  Not only was the trip the perfect way for us to get some much needed rest and relaxation, it also provided some amazing photo ops!  We took a sunset dolphin cruise while we were there, and although I didn't get any good shots of the dolphins, I did get some beautiful images of the sunset. 
Here are some of my favorites.  Honestly though, we had so much fun that I didn't have a chance to take as many shots as I would have liked.  Just a reminder that sometimes the memories alone are more than enough...







Jun 25, 2016

#familytimeisthebesttime

The past month or so has been crazy busy for me!  Both of my kids celebrate birthdays in May; add to that the end of school festivities (field trips, graduations...) as well as the demands of my full-time job, which were particularly demanding last month, and I felt like I was about to lose my mind!

So when I found out that my Uncle Everton (whom I haven't seen in 7 years!) was planning a visit to Miami to visit my cousin, Andrew (whom I'd never met before!) for a few days, on a weekend my kids happened to be with their dad...well I hopped online and booked myself a ticket to go and see him!  Only thing is, he had absolutely no idea I was coming!  The look on his face when he saw me walking towards the car with my suitcase was PRICELESS!

We had a fun-packed 4 days together; enjoying the beautiful Miami weather, visiting with family and taking in some of the sights.  But my favorite part was the time we spent catching up after so many years.  I had a great relationship with him as a kid, and that relationship has evolved into something even more special now that I am an adult.  It was somewhat surreal talking about "grown-up stuff" with him like my job, my kids...even romantic relationships.  But I loved every minute of it!

My uncle and me...once the shock had worn off!!
Photo credit: Everton Davis
While in Miami, I got to meet a lot of family I didn't know I had!  My cousin, Andrew and his wife, who were the best hosts and gracious enough to let me stay with them at such short notice.  Aunts and cousins I either had never met or hadn't seen in several years.  I have been living in Nashville for 14 years, believing I had no family close by.  I've spent way too many holidays at home alone, wishing I could be closer to my family.  When all along, I've had a large extended family living a two-hour flight away!  Family that loves me and wants to get to know me and be a part of mine and my children's lives.

More importantly, I learned that family time is the best time.  Never take for granted a single moment you get to spend with your family.  Tell them you love them at every opportunity, because you never know when it will be your last.  I'm not sure when I'll get to see my uncle again.  Hopefully it won't be anywhere near as long as 7 years.  But I can honestly say we did not waste a single moment of our brief time together.  Thanks for the memories, Uncle Ev!


Fun times at South Beach!
Photo credit: Everton Davis

Jun 1, 2016

Alone, But Not Lonely


For a long time after my divorce, I thought it was impossible to be happy without a man.  Just the thought of enjoying my own company, especially for an extended period of time, seemed foreign to me.  My married friends would tell me to enjoy my singlehood, do things I enjoyed and learn who I really am without having my identity tied up in some guy.   I thought they were crazy.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized they might actually have a point.
There is a clear difference between being alone and being lonely.  It is completely possible to be content in your singlehood.  I’m so happy that I have finally come to that realization, and I’d like to share 5 ways you can be happy in your own company too!
1.  Understand Your Worth
There’s a thin line between confidence and conceit.  When you truly understand your worth, it’s much easier to stay on the right side of that line.  You’ll know you don’t have to make a huge effort proving your worth to others because it’s written all over you.  Your body language will say, “I am strong. I am confident.  I understand the gifts and talents I have been blessed with and as such I refuse to be treated any less than I deserve.” One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Emphasis added).  In His Word, God tells us how wonderful we are; all we have to do is believe Him.  Even if you are not a spiritual person, it’s important to understand the true value that you bring to the lives of those around you so that you won’t settle for less than you deserve.
2.  Be content
My son loves computers, tablets, video games…anything technical and he’s all about it.  We all know that technology changes just as soon as it emerges, so he’s always wanting something new by the time his birthday or Christmas rolls around.  I tell him all the time: be content with what you have.  If you are always looking for happiness in the next new thing – or more relevant to this post, the next new relationship – you will never really be happy.  I once heard it said that a person can only make another person 20% happy at most.  That means the other 80% is completely on me.  If I’m only 20% happy by myself and not tapping into that full 80%, then even if I am in a relationship, I’ll only be 40% happy at most.  Oftentimes, this is what causes relationships to fail.  We set unrealistic expectations on the other person, expecting him/her to make us completely happy 100% of the time.  When they fail to meet that unattainable standard, we cut them loose.  This is why it’s so important to be content by yourself before entering a romantic relationship.  Seems counterproductive, but totally worth the effort.

3.  Do What Makes You Happy

This is really sad, but when I got divorced I didn’t know what made me happy.  If you had asked me what my hobbies were or what I liked to do for fun, I’d struggle to give you an answer.  This is where the loneliness kicks in.  There’s only so much TV and Netflix you can watch alone before the loneliness takes over.  Think about the things you’re good at; things that bring you happiness, or make you feel confident, even sexy.  I’m still a work in progress on this one, but I’ve learned over the last couple of years that I actually enjoy working out.  I love the feeling of strength I have while taking a Yoga or Pilates class.  Back in the day, I was the chick that only ran when it was absolutely necessary.  Then I discovered the Couch 2 5K app and now I’m working towards running my first 5K in July!  Even this blog is the product of me learning how much I love to write and encourage others.  Maybe for you it’s cooking, painting or scrapbooking.  You could take a class at a local community college to learn something that has always been of interest to you.  The possibilities are endless! 

4.  Expand Your Circle of Friends

I have mentioned in earlier posts that when I first became a single mother, I did not have many friends.  My family is literally spread across the world so I don’t get to see them very often.  About 3 years ago I made an intentional effort to expand my circle of friends.  I joined the singles community at my church, and made plans to hang out with some of the ladies outside of the group.  I reached out to make plans for lunches, dinners, happy hours and hosted parties at my house.  I’m an introvert by nature so it took a lot for me to do this, but I was tired of waiting for invitations and the disappointment of not being included.  Let me tell you, I have made some great friendships as a result and my confidence has increased.  Now I have to limit myself on how often I go out with friends for financial reasons, as well as to make sure I get enough rest on the weekends my kids are with their dad!  The point is, don’t wait around for others to befriend you.  If you want to make friends, be a friend to someone else.  Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

5.  Encourage Others

Often times, helping other people will help you to feel better about yourself.  This is known as “Helper’s High” – a win-win situation!  Research has proven that helping others produces strong emotional and physical results.  Pick a charitable organization that is dear to your heart and research volunteer opportunities.  Or maybe you have an elderly neighbor you can make meals for or just sit and chat with.  Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State so finding a way to help out should be easy around here!  VolunteerMatch is also a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities with nonprofits across the country.

These are just a few of the things you can do to be happy and content all by yourself.  Leave a comment and let me know what you do to make yourself happy!







               


May 28, 2016

Encouragement for Single Moms: It Gets Easier

When my kids were much younger, sleeping in on the weekends was pretty much unheard of.  They would awaken at the crack of dawn with cries of "Mommy, I'm hungry" or "Mommy, I'm bored", or sometimes they'd just say "Mommy" for the sake of it.  My body became used to rising with the morning sun, even on the weekends they spent with their dad.

Seemingly overnight, the tables have turned.  The sun rises while my slumber continues.  The cries of my children have been replaced with light snores and the occasional rustling sound of their covers as they reposition themselves for deeper sleep.  Every now and then, I'll awaken to the sound of my daughter making pancakes for breakfast. 
Yummy pancakes made by my daughter.

Sometimes, I wake up before them and enjoy the sweet silence that comes from being the only one awake in the house.  These are times I have chosen to spend reading, writing, praying or just sipping on a cup of tea and planning the day ahead.

Back then, it seemed impossible that things would ever get easier.  But let me tell you, it does.  And it creeps up on you before you even realize it's happening.  One minute you're changing poopy diapers, the next you're constantly vacuuming up Cheerios and Goldfish crackers from every nook and cranny of your car.  Next thing you know, you look up and they're mini adults making you breakfast in bed and telling you how much they love and appreciate everything you do.  It's bittersweet, knowing that your children are growing up and not as dependent on you as they once were.  Only God knows what the future holds, but I'm excited about the next chapter of my children's lives, as they navigate their teenage years and enter young adulthood.

So to my single mamas raising little ones on your own, I say this: hang in there.  You are doing an amazing job.  I know you might not hear that often, but even at this young age your kids see what you're doing.  Before you know it, they'll be telling you just how amazing you are.

Happy weekend!

May 22, 2016

Mom of a Teenager

Sounds like an insult, doesn't it?  You mom of a teenager!!  But that's exactly what I am. Today is my daughter's 13th birthday.  And to be honest, I'm struggling to accept that she's growing up.  She has always been an independent kid; somewhat of an old soul.  She inherited my reluctance to ask for help and prefers to figure things out on her own.  Even so, I've always looked at her as my little girl.  During my most difficult times, my mom has always told me that one day my kids would be all grown up and able to take care of themselves, thus lightening my load.  I listened and believed her, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.

Over the past year, my daughter has grown and matured so much.  I look at her square in the eye now because she's the same height as me.  We have deep conversations about politics, religion, her friends, and even the B word (yeah...boys...*eek!*).  I love that she's comfortable enough to come to me and discuss whatever is on her mind.  A couple of days ago, she said it best - we are close like sisters.  Our relationship has evolved into somewhat of a friendship, though she fully understands that I am and always will be her mom and she respects me as such.

So today as I celebrated her entrance into adolescence, I made a conscious decision to remember the beauty of her childhood so far, while also embracing the next chapter of our relationship as I continue to guide her through this journey we call life.  I pray that our closeness will continue through the remainder of her teenager years and well into her adulthood.  As quickly as the years are flying by, I plan to savor every single moment. 

Happy birthday boo xx


May 21, 2016

Chattanooga, TN

Last weekend, I took my kids to Chattanooga for the day.  It's only a 2 hour drive from Nashville, and the ride there is absolutely beautiful.  I love driving up Monteagle Mountain and back down the other side.  We're so high up, we have to wait for our ears to pop to resume our conversation!  The views are breathtaking.  My kids took a bunch of pictures on their cell phones, and tried to capture the Georgia and Tennessee state signs are we weaved in and out of each states.  It warmed my heart that they were so amazed by the beauty of God's creation.

Our first stop in Chattanooga, and the only place I took pictures with my fancy camera, was Rock City.  This place is famous for its (alleged) view of 7 states from Lover's Leap at the top of Lookout Mountain.  The trail to the top of the mountain winds through colorful gardens, past bubbling creeks and stunning rock formations, all to the soothing sounds of relaxing music.  They actually had a harpist playing while we were there.  And the weather was perfect.

I'm not convinced you can see 7 states from the top of the mountain, and neither were a couple of other tourists we heard debating its accuracy once we got to the top.  Regardless, the view is simply beautiful, and the mountainside waterfall is the icing on the cake.  My kids had a blast and both said they want to visit again next time we're in the area.  If you have never visited Rock City, or the Chattanooga area in general, you should add this underrated city to your bucket list.  There is so much history, culture and fun activities to enjoy while you're there!

I haven't edited any of these pictures, since I haven't learned how to do that yet!  All in good time...
















May 20, 2016

New purpose

I have been struggling for a long time to understand my true purpose in life.  I enjoy my career, but I have a hard time saying I am passionate about it.  I love to hear stories of people who follow their dreams, take a huge leap to achieve their goals and make a living doing what they love.

I have always loved to take pictures but never considered becoming a professional photography.  That was until about 6 months ago.  I believe God gave me the idea to learn professional photography, and then work with local domestic violence shelters to take pictures of their resident survivors.  The ladies can use their portraits however they would like - frame them for display in their new home, greeting cards or Christmas portraits.  My goal would be to show them how beautiful they are.  This concept led me to the name of my new photography venture - Beauty for Ashes Photography - based on Isaiah 61:3 "...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

I purchased a Nikon D3200 from Amazon, and downloaded Nikon D3200 for Dummies to help me become better acquainted with my new toy.  It's definitely more technical than my old Sony point-and-shoot!  I thought it'd be fun to document my photography as I grow from an amateur to a professional, tracking the progression of a vision into reality.  Comment and let me know what you think!  I'd love to hear any advice you have for how I can improve :)

Charlotte

May 16, 2016

Guess who's back....!!

Yep, it's me!!  I guess I just couldn't keep away!  After a brief (okay, maybe not so brief) hiatus, I have bitten by the blogging bug once again and decided to reopen my blog!  Sounds weird I know, but it's my blog and I can do whatever I want to with it, right??

So not only am I back, but I have some very exciting news!  I have been featured as a guest writer on the awesome blog Single Mom, What a Life!  My post is on a topic that not many people know I have personal experience with - depression.  I'm highlighting 5 things everyone show know about this condition, and you can read all about it here!

Stay tuned...there's lots more to come.  I have lots of ideas for new posts and can't wait to get started again.  Thank you all for your support and for sticking with me :)

Charlotte