Category Archives: Inside Your Family

How To NOT Smother Your Boyfriend

My dear friend Ruth, who I’ve had the pleasure interviewing for The Dating Project, has been dating a great guy for a few months now. She asked, I answer.

I want to be open and warm and loving and attentive. But not smother my boyfriend. What should I be doing, or NOT doing?

Ruth, you are open, warm, loving and attentive. You’re one of the nicest people I know. You’re a pleasure to be around. You also have great friends, a loving family, and a creative career path.

So don’t hold back. And don’t worry about smothering your boyfriend. You won’t. You’re too solidly grounded in your own wonderful life to lose yourself in his. You have too many things going on to devote the time and effort it would take to smother your boyfriend. It’s not possible. You’re a busy girl with a big heart. You give him everything you feel comfortable giving him, and that’s a lot. But not too much. He won’t be scared of your kindness, he’ll be thrilled. Who wouldn’t love a sexy, gorgeous thing like yourself making nicey-nicey in their direction?

Go ahead, be as open, warm, loving and attentive as you are. You’re not going to overdo it.

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The Dating Project…Meet Megan!

Welcome Back to…

The Dating Project, the newest segment here at The Inside Voice! We’re talking to sexy, successful and smarty-pants women to find out what they really think and feel about dating. Because being single doesn’t mean you’re ALONE.

Let’s meet Megan!***

1. Age and Occupation? 29. Showroom Manager.

2. Are you currently in a relationship? No.

3. Place in Order of Importance: Work, Friends, Love, Other.

Humanity, Love, Friends, Work, Stuff.

What do you mean by “Humanity”? The world, everything that happens on Page 6, the Planet.

And “Stuff”? The good life, music, wine, Brooklyn, books.

And when I think of “love”, I also think of “friends”.

4. Can you spot any patterns in past relationships?

Oh yeah. I’ve been single for 2 years. Two years ago I wouldn’t be so clear on my patterns, but now I can see them.

Before a relationship forms, I get this idea that the guy doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me. So then the rest of the relationship comes from a place of insecurity and a lack of self-worth. Crazy, right?

Now I get it. And I don’t feel like it’s all my fault. I don’t feel out of control.

5. Rate yourself, on a scale 1-10:

Self Confidence-8.5

Self-Love-9

Attractiveness-8

6. What barriers keep you from meeting a guy you like?

I keep myself from meeting a guy I like. I’m the barrier. For a long time I had a hard time being vulnerable. And I wasn’t interested in what I was doing professionally. I was down on myself. I didn’t feel fulfilled, or like I could bring anything to the table.

But that changed in the past 6 months. Now I do feel like I have something to contribute. I’ve been doing yoga, and work that I care about, and I’ve gone through a tremendously fulfilling personal transition. I feel closer to my family than I ever have. I feel welcomed, loved, received with open arms. I’ve changed the way I believe in the world. I’ve changed the way I look at people. Now I believe in love.

7. What does your dating life look like now?

I took a major break from dating. I was on pause, there hadn’t been much. But recently, it feels like there are prospects.

Where are you meeting people? Or where do you imagine you’ll meet people?

Through friends. Now I’m finally talking about wanting to meet someone. I’m telling friends, and they’re keeping it on their radar. Also, I made it my New Years Resolution to begin a relationship by the end of 2012.

Wow, that’s fantastic! If you made that New Year’s Resolution, it’s as good as done. I can’t wait to meet him!

8. What attributes are most attractive to you in a partner?

Humor, intelligence, open-mindedness, loving, kind, creative, compassionate, inspiring, cute, not too serious. Someone who can cook, well-read, hardworking, guys with sisters.

9. a) What does your perfect love life look like?

In a city, moving around, being social, equal parts out-and-about at home-time. It’s hard, not easy. Like in yoga, there’s strength and grace. It’s natural, and it’s also hard work. Keeping your own identity, open communication. Oh, and it will be FUN.

b) In a word (or words), what does that scenario feel like?

Like “in the body”, what does it feel like? It feels like nervous butterflies in the tummy and racing heart. But also secure, deep and warm. It feels like a big smile.

10. Last question, do you believe in “The One”?

No, but I believe you create The One. You show up, and then The One shows up in that context. You choose The One and then make it work.

Thanks Megan!

Inside Voice Wrap Up: Megan is a very special case. She’s starting over, fresh and renewed. She took a break from dating to get other big aspects of her life in order. She succeeded–she’s created a meaningful career path for herself, and a deeper connection to her family. She has more love in her life, coming from the outside in, and more importantly, from the inside out. When Megan starts dating seriously, I think she’ll enjoy it a LOT more than she did a few years ago. This time around, she’ll find the “strength and grace” to stay curious and playful while retaining her freedom and self-identity.

Megan sets goals. Megan sticks to her goals. If she set her mind to starting a relationship by the end of 2012, she will indeed make that happen. I’m looking forward to meeting the lucky guy!

***Some names have been changed, some haven’t. Each woman has the option to use her own name or choose her fantasy pseudonym. I’m not telling which ones are which. Hear these women’s voices. Listen to their stories. They’re just like you!

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6 Ways to Describe Single Women

Single Women can be described in over 600 ways. Or Six.

I spend much of my time with Single Women. They inspire me, and they challenge me. Hell, some of my best friends are Single Women. And as you probably know, I used to be a Single Woman myself. Over the years, I’ve found that Single Women are…

1. Happy. Single women serve their own needs first. And a girl needs to be happy. If happiness lives in a box of Jacques Torres chocolate truffles and a restorative yoga class on Friday night, so be it. Who’s going to argue otherwise?

2. Connected. Single women have strong, solid relationships. They communicate clearly and often, with dear friends and chosen family. Single women have friendships that only deepen with time and trials and tribulations. Friendships can outlive boyfriend after boyfriend.

3. Feminine. Single Women tend to know other Single Women. And when you put a few Single Women in one space, you get a full-blown Goddess Gathering. That is, you get a group of women who are not afraid to be as “feminine” as they naturally are. Women communicate and share. Women tackle sticky topics like work, sex, babies, mothers, fathers, pain, fears, and true happiness. Women emote. Single Women emote a lot.

4. Hot. Single women are hot. Single Women are in your yoga class, rocking out in spinning class, and treating themselves to sushi dinners. Single women dine out on small plates and a glass (or 3) of wine. Most Single Women eat out a lot. And eating out, contrary to popular belief, is not fattening. However, it is expensive. Hence, the small plates, and the skinny jeans.

5. Stylish. Single Women have great wardrobes. They know where to shop, and how to shop. They know how to show off their best features. Single Women are peacocks, after all.

6. Rockstars. Single Women are Rockstars, at least according to Great Aunt Roz in Fort Lauderdale. If you’re a Single Woman, the relatives think you’re fabulous, or famous, or both. So what if they don’t quite understand what you do for a living, or how you spend your time and money? They can see that Single Women do things a little differently from most of the nice girls in your high school graduating class. Single Women have parties to attend, and people to see. Single Women are the family Rockstars!

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10 Commandments of Dating

Inspired by the brilliant Jonathan Fields’ 10 Commandments of Biz, I’ve compiled the 10 Commandments of Dating.

WARNING: Following these Commandments will transform you into a more twinkly, passionate, pulsing, overflowing-with-love version of yourself. The relationships that follow are, well, cake.

The 10 Commandments of Dating

  1. For every date with a potential partner, set a date with yourself. Surprise yourself with flowers.
  2. Savor each and every molecule of dinner, dessert, and wine that you didn’t pay for. Chivalry is not dead. Show some appreciation!
  3. Find something lovable about the person sitting across from you.
  4. Know that when on a date, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Even if you’ve suggested otherwise during every moment up to that point.
  5. Learn from past experiences. If you don’t like dating men who want to be taken care of, don’t keep on dating ’em.
  6. If you’re drawn towards someone, move closer. You’ll find out everything you need to know soon enough.
  7. Trust yourself. Date as if you’ll never get hurt. Because getting hurt isn’t the worst thing in the world, regret is.
  8. Trust the guy. The worst that can happen is you’ll be disappointed.
  9. Periodically take a look back at the boyfriends that have come into your life. Mentally thank them for sharing that time with you. It was perfect for what it was. You most likely learned something. Or just had a lot of fun.
  10. Politely ask your siblings to get on the baby-making track already. Your mother isn’t becoming a grandmother overnight, you know. If you’re an only child like me, I’m sorry. Jewish Mothers have the subtlety of a cinderblock. Oy Vey.

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The Dating Project…Meet Jane!

Welcome Back to…

The Dating Project, the newest segment here at The Inside Voice! We’re talking to sexy, successful and smarty-pants women to find out what they really think and feel about dating. Because being single doesn’t mean you’re ALONE.

Let’s meet Jane!***

1. Age and Occupation? 34, but close to 35. I work in Public Health.

2. Are you currently in a relationship? Yes. We’ve been dating for a month. It’s brand new, there were no promises made.

3. Place in order of Importance: Work, Friends, Love, Other.

I’d like to put friends first. But instead, I’d order Love, then Friends, then Family as Other, then Work.

Why would you like to put friends first?

I value friends so much, I always have. My friends make me feel like I’m real. My friendships are reliable, supportive and nourishing. Friends remind me that even if I’m single, I’m not alone.

That’s my tagline! (see above)

Also, one of the benefits of being single is not having to negotiate my schedule, and having the time to build relationships with other people in my life, like my friends. Being single means not needing a man to comfort me in a certain way. I don’t feel like I need a man to hide behind, emotionally.

4. Can you spot any patterns in past relationships?

It’s important for me to feel adored. And sometimes I’ve stayed with men that adored me even when there were reasons why they weren’t right for me. I think that comes from insecurity. I constantly crave that male attention. These days, I still want to be adored, but I don’t make excuses for staying in a relationship when it just isn’t right. For the last couple of years, it’s harder to identify patterns. During that time, I was in a relationship for 5 months, but that ended a year ago. Other than that I’ve been single.

5. Rate yourself, on a scale 1-10:

Self Confidence-8

Self-love-9

Attractiveness-8

6. What barriers keep you from meeting a guy you like?

I work in a field that’s full of women. My world is all women. Meeting men isn’t organic to my life routine. When I have to try to meet men, there’s an artificialness to it. It starts to feel like “shopping for the perfect model,” especially with online dating. It makes me dismissive of someone who doesn’t seem perfect right from the start. I try not get into that mode, but sometimes it creeps in.

7. What does your dating life look like now?

Now I’m experimenting with being open to dating. I’m mostly online dating. I want a partner.

8. What attributes are most attractive to you in a partner?

Intelligence. Organization. Well, by that I really want to say “someone who has their shit together, by my standard of having their shit together.” They have a career that pays the bills. They’re happy enough. They’ve figured out what they want and already started making it happen. They have something to offer as a lover, and to potentially build a family. Also, they’re really cool, and really fun.

I have this saying. “I want the roof and the stars.” The roof is the security, the reliability, the trust, the financial stability. The stars are the inspiration, excitement, lust, the romance.

That’s a beautiful description!

9. a) What does your perfect love life look like?

I’m with a committed partner who’s really fun. Creative sex. And building a future. And traveling.

b) In a word (or words), what does that scenario feel like?

Spectrum. I want a variety. Someone who can do cozy and exciting, intellectual and animal.

10. Last question, do you believe in “The One”?

No. I believe in a set of potential partners, who come in to your life at the time you need them. I don’t also necessarily believe in forever. I do believe however, that when you make a commitment, you do owe your partner some degree of selflessness.

Thanks Jane!

Inside Voice Wrap Up: When I first met Jane about 2 billion years ago, she wasn’t single. And she had never been single. Indeed, she was adored by many. But when I sat down with her for this interview, she had embraced her single status. She seemed more settled, more clear, and more confident. She was glowing. She, like most of our Dating Project women, thinks deeply and speaks articulately. She’s curious, and she goes to therapy. She’s worked her shit out. And to be completely honest, I think she’s on the cusp of something great. Jane wants a partner. Jane is prepared to be a partner. And so she will have a partner. I heart Jane.

***Some names have been changed, some haven’t. Each woman has the option to use her own name or choose her fantasy pseudonym. I’m not telling which ones are which. Hear these women’s voices. Listen to their stories. They’re just like you!

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Men Are Strange. What’s A Woman To Do?

My dear friend Susan*** came to me with a perplexing scenario: She and her newish gentleman friend  of 3 months had a breakthrough conversation. He opened up to her about his dreams and fears. And for the first time, he spoke clearly about his particular brand of family dramas. He’d previously brushed it off in past conversations, but now it’s all out in the open. Phew, what a relief! Susan feels closer and more connected to her gentleman friend.

Just one problem, he’s not returning her calls. Well, to be fair, he’s taking a little longer to return her calls, texts, and emails. She feels the emotional distance. She’s not happy about it, and she doesn’t understand it. What happened?

Here’s what I told her: The good news is that it’s not about you. It rarely is. Think about it for a moment. Strange behavior that you don’t understand, logically, is strange because you’re missing some important information to make sense of it. And if it’s his strange behavior, it’s probably his thoughts and patterns that are making him act as he does. But what are they?  Honestly, I have no idea. It could be anything, from the cockamaymi far-off to the completely mundane. But be clear about this–You want Mr. Gentleman Friend to handle himself in an honest and clear way, right? You don’t want to be confused. Am I right on this?

You’re a smart and curious woman. You know you don’t know everything, but you’re willing to learn. DO this. And SAY this.

1) Remind yourself that you’re not the problem here.

2) Recognize that you’re working with just a sliver of all the information necessary to make sense of this.

3) Ask for help. Ask nicely, openly, and in a sincerely curious way. Say,”I loved our conversation last week. Thank you for being so honest and clear with me. However, it’s harder to connect this week. I don’t understand. Can you help me understand better, by sharing some information that I don’t have yet?”

What do YOU think? How do you think Mr. Gentleman Friend will respond?

***You know the drill. Names are changed (or not) to protect the innocent. Or they’re just shy.

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Thanksgiving Wrap-Up: The Same, but Different

Thanksgiving was delicious, joyful, and a beauty to behold. Just like last year. In fact, it was so familiar and unremarkable in its good cheer that I almost overlooked how this year’s Thanksgiving dinner was very different from last year.

Thanksgiving Bound!

This year I have a boyfriend.

Many of  you know this by now. You know that my boyfriend’s name is Alan and that he’s kind and charming and I think he’s pretty special. What you may not know is that Alan has an equally kind and charming, and super-adorable daughter named Sophie. She’s the spitting image of her dad. (I love that about her.) And this year, both Alan and Sophie joined us to give thanks.

I filled Sophie’s plate with cranberry sauce, and passed the butternut squash to Alan. My father talked, my mother cleaned, and I loosened my belt  as a precautionary measure. Everyone laughed and kvetched about something. It all felt comfortable and right.

But Thanksgiving was different this year, and I’m over-the-moon thankful for it.

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11 Reasons I Say THANK YOU.

In no particular order, I say THANK YOU because…

1. My rent hasn’t gone up this year. Thank you, rent stabilization.

2. I have health insurance. Dental and vision included.

3. I have a boyfriend. And he’s dreamy.

4. I have a MacBook Pro. It scares me but I’m grateful for it.

5. I have a hairdresser that I trust. The “natural look” takes a lot of care and consideration.

6. My students are incredible and supportive.

7. My bosses are incredible and supportive.

8. Loehmann’s offers special birthday sales to insider card members.

9. I am healthy.

10. The Louie G’s Italian Ices stand is open through November. To go, obviously.

11. I am loved. My life is perfect.

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How to Sit Still.

I’m sitting in front of the computer, surfing the web, checking the wedding section of the New York Times. I’m shooting out emails, and double checking my calendar for the upcoming week.

To be precise, I’m using my boyfriend Alan’s computer and sitting in Alan’s office chair.  My calendar and journal are splayed out on Alan’s desk, and I’m surrounded by Alan’s books.

Alan, conveniently, is sitting at the kitchen table, grading papers and writing with a pen and paper. He’s old-fashioned like that.

We are sitting in silence.

Our silence is still, sweet, and productive. Yet at a different time, with a different person, this type of scenario might have felt a lot less so.

Have you ever been in a room with someone, siting politely, wordless, and all the while climbing the walls? The silence isn’t silent at all, but a loud and stressful roar. On the outside you’re calm. On the inside you’re anything but.

I recently had this type of experience. I was in a car, in silence, in the passenger seat, in a rainstorm.  The driver was my mom and her knuckles were whiter than fresh snow. She declared “no talking”, as she needed complete silence to concentrate on the road. That was a very loud silence, indeed.

Alternately, it is possible for two people to sit in silence, and in comfort. Each person holds a space for the other to be themselves. Each person takes care of themselves. No one is being coddled, nor stifled. No one is looking for approval or guidance. No one feels put-upon. Both are simply existing as their best individual selves while in the presence of someone else who knows that their best is absolutely extraordinary.

I choose the second option, thank you very much. I appreciate the time Alan and I are together, still and silent. And in a few short moments I’ll get up, close the browser on his computer, and walk across the apartment to give my boyfriend a kiss.

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A Thank You Note

I spent the past weekend on a yoga retreat in the Catskills. It was an all-women affair, aptly named the Goddess Retreat. I’ve been attending these retreats since they began over ten years ago. And each and every time, I’m joined by my mom.

As proper etiquette dictates, a Thank You Note is appropriate.

Dear Goddess Retreat,

Thank you for the pear cobbler with homemade whipped cream. I had four big dollops.

Thank you for the extra down blanket. It was warm and fluffy.

Thank you for the stories. A woman acknowledged her passions. Another woman discovered love, almost lost it, and found it again.  Many women prayed for children, prayed for their ability to care for them, and prayed for their ability to let them go. 

Thank you for dance class.  These days, dancing  is a rare treat. I long to dance without self-consciousness, or fear of sending the wrong message. I want to dance in a safe space, whether it’s my living room or a line dancing club in New Jersey. Because dancing is feel-good medicine. 

Thank you for the hours upon hours of hang-out time.  You reminded me what it’s like to hold a conversation long enough to get to the meaty part.

Thank you for the laughs and tears and wet snorts in between.

Thank you Goddess Retreat. I’m so glad we’re friends.

Very Best, Daniella

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