Holiday Blind Date Challenge

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At the end of the date he told her, “I know what you’re up to and you can tell Thursday and Friday you already have plans.”

The holidays can be a little trying for us single girls.  From the Kay Jeweler “Every Kiss Begins with K” commercials with the staged engagement scenes, to the Lexus commercials where the husband surprises his wife with a brand new Lexus in the driveway with a huge red bow, it can make you sit on the couch with your glass of wine and feel lonely as hell… If you allow it to.  After being in a marriage where I experienced what it meant to spend the holiday season married but lonelier than ever, I embrace being alone but NOT lonely.  But at the same time I would be lying to you if I told you that every once in a while when I watch those commercials I don’t think to myself, “Awww… that would be nice.”  (Not an engagement ring from Kay Jewelers either… just to be clear)  As soon as the commercials started to play, I prepared myself for the Holiday Season.  And my inner loving Diva gave me a pre-Holiday pep talk, “This year, you are going to embrace your singledom for the Holidays.  You are going to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment.  You will not be sucked into that Woe is me bullshit!”  And with that I came up with a fun way to spend the Holidays and make it a little unpredictable.  One of my mother’s close friends was a famous bestselling author.  She had such a fun personality and it was always enjoyable to be around her and her family.  She and her husband met later on in life and they had a mutual respect and adoration they shared for each other.  He was supportive of her successful career and encouraged her.  And in turn she loved and respected that man as well.  She passed away a few years ago and the love that he had shared with her is something that really honored the vow, “Till death do we part…”  My mother was in town last month for some quality mother-daughter time and her friend’s husband met up with us.  He is one of my “adopted” uncles.  You know, one of those men who look out for you like you are their own daughter.  We were laughing and reminiscing about his wife.  And I asked him the story of how they met.

She was about your age at the time.  She was still living back east and was planning a trip out to LA to visit some friends.  And you know she had a lot of spunk.  She told each of her girlfriends that she wanted them to fix her up on a different blind date each day she was in LA.  I was Wednesday.  We just connected when we met.  It felt right.  At the end of the date I told her “I know what you’re up to and you can tell Thursday and Friday you already have plans.”  And as they say, “The rest is history.”  We were inseparable until her dying day.

I looked at my “adoptive” uncle’s eyes.  There was such a genuine love as he told the story.  You could tell he missed his soul mate but you could also feel and hear the cherished moments that they shared between the two of them.

And to think she was about my age at the time of their first date.  At the end of the day, she took a chance, humbled herself (in a fun way) and was bold enough to tell her girlfriends to make things happen!  And look how that turned out.  So in her memory I went home that evening and I sent 6 of my married and/or in serious relationship girlfriends the November Blind Date Challenge as an inbox message on Facebook.  I thought what the hell!  I don’t have shit to lose.

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I looked at my “adoptive” uncle’s eyes. There was such a genuine love as he told the story. You could tell he missed his soul mate but you could also feel and hear the cherished moments that they shared between the two of them.

Hello Ladies! I hope all is well. This is NOT a random chain email. In honor of my mother’s close friend I am doing a November/December challenge. She and her husband met on a blind date. She was coming to LA on vacation and she told each of her friends to set her up on a date for each night she was here. She met her husband on Wednesday. When she met him he told her to cancel Thursday-Sunday dates. And they were married until she passed away a few years ago. That being said I wanted to reach out to my friends who are already married or in a serious relationship and give you all the challenge of setting me up on blind dates for the next month. I trust all of your judgments and I know you all know me we’ll enough to pick great men. As you all know I am a dating blogger. Although I change names, occupations, and locations if you prefer I not write about any of the guys you set me up with let me know and I will respect that request. Let’s see who wins this challenge out of the crew! If you have any questions you know how to reach me!

And I was surprised by the excitement from my girlfriends and their mates.  I love having a competitive, loving group of friends.  Each of them are determined to win the challenge.  I made sure not to give them explicit instructions on what I wanted and the type of men they should pick.  Instead I am trusting the process and looking forward to what happens.  This will also make the Holiday season a little less predictable.  We’ll see what happens.  As we kick off this Holiday season my challenge to you is to be open.  Instead of focusing on what you don’t have focus on what you have and where you are going.  Do something unpredictable.  Humble yourself to the possibilities.  Drink lots of wine, eat without worrying about calories, go to the gym to burn off those unknown calories, smile at strangers, and live each day like you are a reality star on the show called YOUR LIFE.

 

Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+        

What Carmen Jones (the original serial dater) Taught Me…

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When I first saw Carmen Jones, I was enthralled by her presence. She was unapologetic; she went after what she wanted, and did it all looking like a million bucks! She was my inspiration.

I was around 10 years old when I first saw Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones.  Up to that point I was fascinated by Lena Horne’s beauty, Bette Davis’ diva attitude, and Marilyn Monroe’s sex appeal.  I have always been drawn to the glamorous divas of the 1950’s… go figure!  But when I first saw Carmen Jones, I was mesmerized by how she encompassed all three of the traits.  She had presence.  She was unapologetic; she went after what she wanted, and did it all looking like a million bucks!  She was my inspiration.  And to this day whenever this movie is on I stop everything I am doing, sit down and watch it with the same fascination I had as a 10 year old little girl.  Dorothy Dandridge would have been 91 last week.  In honor of her birthday I wanted to pay a tribute to her and the character that changed my life.  Carmen Jones the original serial dater.  Here’s what Carmen Jones taught me:

Be the life of the party!

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Go after what you want. 

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It’s okay to cater to your man and take care of him. 

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Never be with a man who tries to keep you in a box

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There’s nothing wrong with excitement when you are dating

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When dating your philosophy should be:  May the best man win!  Too many times we are trying to win over the man instead of it being the other way around.      

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Don’t settle for less than what you want.

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Having good girlfriends in the process of dating who have your back and love you unconditionally is priceless.

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Always, always, always wear you lipstick, do your hair, keep your nails done, and be on your A game.  You never know when you will bump into Mr. Right.  NOT to mention the better you look the better you feel for yourself.

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Don’t be afraid to keep it moving when you aren’t getting what you want out of the relationship

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KNOW YOUR WORTH!

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Don’t be the silly naive girl in the relationship.  Always keep your power.

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Passion is a MUST!

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Every diva wants a man who gives her a little bit of a challenge.   “You go for me and I’m taboo, but if you’re hard to get I go for you, and when I do then you are through boy.  My baby that’s the end of you!”

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Let the man take care of you!

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Be with a man who loves you a little more than you love him.

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Be unapologetic for who you are and what you want in life.

Carmen Jones

Pillow Talk

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There are also those feelings of insecurity and craziness all women experience at the beginning of a new relationship. It can be down right exhausting and drive you bat shit crazy!

I’m baaack!!!!  I have to apologize to my loyal readers.  When I am on heavy business travel it gets a little difficult to post my blogs.  You know what they say about excuses and I do not believe in using tools of incompetence.  And I most certainly will not put up some random bullshit.  I love y’all too much for that.  So… I am still kind of seeing someone!  Pause for reaction and gasps.  Like I said before I haven’t liked someone consistently since 1932.  And I am still sticking with keeping my guy a man of mystery.  But I must say it has been an adjustment.  I have spent so much time talking about shitty dates, crazy men, losers, freaks, disappointments, etc.  It has been interesting to really enjoy someone and know the feeling is mutual.  I was not expecting it.  See, married people.  That bullshit phrase that drives me and all single women nuts, ”You’ll find the man when you’re not looking,”  has officially been proven to be utter condescending bullshit.  What you should say to your single friends is, “Put yourself out there.  You will not meet the right guy if you aren’t actively looking.  It might be an unexpected surprise.”   Do you see the difference?   I just have such an issue with women who get in serious relationships and marriages and then get sudden amnesia of what it was like to be single.  It drives me absolutely nuts!!! I really want to stress this point.  Anyway… I digressed.

Being in this new… relationship (it’s scary to actually put that word in writing) definitely brings up a lot for me.  The last time I really liked someone consistently I ended up marrying him and we know how that ended.  So I find myself wanting to do things completely different this time.  After going through the heartache and devastation of meeting someone and realizing that the person you fell in love with was not who they really were it takes time to learn to trust yourself again.  And no, I am not being closed or guarded.  I am acknowledging the feeling and allowing myself to feel it so I can address it and move on.  Lots of times, we as women don’t allow ourselves to have a feeling because it seems wrong, we then hold it in, and from there disaster!  But there are also those feelings of insecurity and craziness all women experience at the beginning of a new relationship.  Is he going to call?  When is he going to call?  Does he really like me?  Where the fuck is this going?   Should I call him?   He hasn’t responded to my text right away does that mean he doesn’t like me… Is he dating anyone else?   Is he fucking anyone else?  How soon is too soon to finally give him some?   Once I do give him some will things change?  Does he want a relationship?  What is he thinking?   Are we on the same page?  It can be down right exhausting.  You want to pull your hair out at the frustration sometimes!  In my 20’s BM (before marriage) I would have these conversations with the dating experts…. My girlfriends (side eye).  I love them but my goodness getting advice from your girls can drive you bat shit crazy if you’re not secure in your relationship.  It will have you second guessing everything.  One thing I have valued PD (post divorce) and now being a woman in my 30’s is my growth.  I have been through the storm and have a heightened awareness of who I am, what I am looking for in a relationship, and I am unapologetic for it.  Instead of going to my girlfriends to figure out what the hell is going on with my and the new guy I decided to do something completely different.  I decided to go straight to the source.  The Guy!  What a concept!  I was nervous as hell too.  Because there was the possibility he would say something that would turn me off completely and our last few months of getting to know each other and courting and me letting my guard down would quickly turn into yet another post about yet another dating disaster.  After another great date we were hanging out at my house and I had my issue of Essence magazine out on my coffee table.  (Yes ladies, he does know about the blog and guess what he didn’t run away.  He doesn’t read it yet… thank goodness).  When The Bush Bitch was featured in the July issue of Essence magazine like any other proud published author I bought 20 copies of the magazine.

Essence Cover

When The Bush Bitch was featured in the July issue of Essence magazine like any other proud published author I bought 20 copies of the magazine. He ended up reading the excerpt. As I took a long swig of my wine it felt like it was taking him hours to read it. I felt… exposed. When people are reading your work you are vulnerable and completely exposed.

He ended up reading the excerpt.  As I took a long swig of my wine it felt like it was taking him hours to read it.  I felt… exposed.  When people are reading your work you are vulnerable and completely exposed.  It was a good sign when he chuckled a few times.  Whew what a relief!  Two things that was great about this small interaction.  He liked my writing and he wasn’t freaked out by the idea that I write about relationships.  Remember a few months back when I considered shutting down my site because I was worried that I would stay single forever because men would be afraid to date me?  Remember those few folks that gave me advice never to tell a guy I am currently dating about my blog?  I would like to take a second to give all of you naysayers a big “FUCK YOU!”  Okay, I had to get that moment of childish behavior off my chest.  I keep digressing!  After he read the article and we got into an interesting conversation about relationships (which I will keep between the two of us) I was set up to have the conversation.  Who knew my blog would be the perfect segway for a relationship conversation with a guy I am dating?  Go figure!  At this point I had nothing to lose.  I took a deep breath as well as another sip of my “liquid courage” aka wine.

Me:  So… I actually like you.  I wasn’t expecting to like you.  And I haven’t genuinely liked someone for a long time.  But I want to be honest with you.  I’m not into casual dating or casual sex and I am at a point in my life where I am—-

Guy:  Dating with a Purpose.

Me:  Exactly!  And if you’re not on the same page that is completely fine and there are no hard feelings but I wouldn’t keep going out with you if we are not on the same page.  I’m not saying I have a wedding gown in my purse, but I just want to make sure you know where I am coming from.

Guy:  I hear you and yes we are on the same page.

In my mind I did the happy dance of relief.  I also did a few cartwheels.  But on the exterior I kept it cool, calm and collective.

Guy:  I appreciate your honesty and clarity.

Me:  And I appreciate you hearing me out.

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In my mind I did the happy dance of relief. I also did a few cartwheels. But on the exterior I kept it cool, calm and collective.

That’s the only part of the conversation you nosey people are going to get.  Again, because I like his guy I won’t be giving you the nitty gritty.  After we had the conversation I was relived.  Is this what it means to date like a grown woman?  I was so used to playing games in my day or worrying myself trying to figure out what the hell these men were thinking half of the damn time.  Little did I know all I had to do was go directly to the source and be honest.  As women, how many times do we not have these open and honest conversations because we are terrified of what the guy will say?  How many times do we drive ourselves crazy wondering if a man likes us?  How many times do we play games to make sure the guy can’t figure out if we really like them or not?  Or even worse, how many times have we slept with a man and had no clue where we stood with them and then attempted to have the conversation once the oxytocin is released and our feelings are all over the place?  It was at that moment I promised myself I would be open and honest with relationships moving forward.  We need to have pillow talk before our heads and other body parts hit the damn pillow!    I can’t say I won’t have any emotional moments where my insecurities about being in a new relationship make me have major self doubts.  I can’t say there won’t be moments when I am wondering what the hell these men are thinking.  I can’t say there won’t be times where I call 4 different girlfriends trying to get advice and driving them crazy with my various scenarios.  After all if we can’t do that with our girlfriends who can we do that with?   I also can’t say I won’t have a few relapses of playing games about my feelings.  After all we are all WIPs (works in progress).  But what I can say is being open, honest, and daring to ask the questions that I need to know the answers to is certainly the way to go.  My goodness, imagine if I had started doing these simple things years ago.  Oh well with age and experience come wisdom! 


Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+        

The 4 Year Itch

36Candle

I was holding onto 35 like a baby with a pacifier. I didn’t want to let it go. How could I top 35? This was my year of complete self discovery. This was the year when I finally found me and unapologetically embraced me.

I was holding onto 35 like a baby with a pacifier.  I didn’t want to let it go.  How could I top 35?  This was my year of complete self discovery.  This was the year when I finally found me and unapologetically embraced me.  Not to mention, there is something very complete about being an age where it can be divided evenly into 5.  Living in LA there is a thing as ageism more so than anywhere in the country.  Women start getting Botox at the age of 25 (myself NOT included for the record… no judgment though).  I was having a debate with a co-worker of mine about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.  When men hear of women wanting more money in divorce settlements they suddenly freak out.  A side bar, most of the high level executives I know are married to “Stay at home” moms.  These are women that they met a Brown, Harvard, Berkley, Stanford who in addition to getting their BA’s they got the MRS.  And those prestigious high pedigree degrees are now being used to take kids to soccer practice, change shitty diapers, and pick out the best color to paint the living room walls.  I think any thought of a divorce and their housewives getting half of their fortune sends most men into a panic attack.  We got into a heated debate.

Coworker:  Why does she deserve half of his earnings?

Me:  He was a nobody before they met.  She put him on the map!

Co-Worker:  What was the last successful movie Demi Moore did?

Me:  That’s not the point.  Before he met her he was just on “That 70’s Show” and had just started “Punked.”  Once they met and married his career blew up.  Trust me he wouldn’t be where he is now without her.

Co-Worker:  Demi needs to chill out.  Besides she’s over 35.  It all goes downhill from there!  Good luck finding a guy to date when a woman hits post 35! 

I laughed along with the co-worker to prevent myself from running out of the room and jumping off the ledge.  I blew off his comment on the outside but in the inside I was de-fucking-flated!  Was this what I had to look forward to at 36?  Was I officially yesterday’s news and now relegated to the senior special side of the menu?  Should I send a request to AARP for an early bird membership?

I went home that evening and did a long extended facial mask.  When I rinsed it off I looked at myself in the mirror.  I still had it going on.  My teeth were gleaming white; my skin had a youthful glow to it.  My Botox free face was didn’t have any wrinkles.  My breasts were still perky (maybe not 26 year old perky) but damn it I could still go braless and have confidence and my regular gym routine had me secure with going to Martha’s Vineyard for my annual family trip the following week and rocking my brand new overpriced bikini (how can something with so little material be so damn expensive?)

But as August 6th was fast approaching I had this heavy cloud hanging over me.  And the crazy thing about this shit was my friends who are in their 40’s are all so damn fierce and fabulous. I truly looked up to them.  So why was I suddenly scared… no actually, the proper feeling would be petrified that I was turning 36 a.k.a 4 years from 40.  There was an evil choir that was singing in my head similar to in A Christmas Story how they sang “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  That same choir was singing in the same tune, “4 years from 40… 4 years from 40… 4 years from 40…”

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me.  I had a full life.  I have a great family that loves me unconditionally.  Recently, my mother had successfully come through a health scare and got the thumbs up from her doctors that she was okay.  My various circles of friends were inspirational and had my back, my career was blossoming, and my love life was full.  I was currently experiencing some dating highs and allowing myself to enjoy being single while opening myself to the possibility of love.  What was causing me to freak out?  Why was 36 such a daunting number?  In other words, what the fuck was my problem?!

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The timing for the annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t have come at a better time. My family and I have gone to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for the last 12 years. It is a place that is so magical to me.

The timing for the annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t have come at a better time.  My family and I have gone to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for the last 12 years.  It is a place that is so magical to me.  The beauty of Martha’s Vineyard is seeing all the families out and about together.  You see generations and families of all ages.  I loved lying out at the Inkwell and seeing couples with the cutest kids.  You see these masculine men building sand castles with their young toddlers and mothers showing their sons how to fly a kite.  It’s really one of the most magical places on the planet for me.  It’s also a place where I can go and be me.  No makeup, no heels, just the authentic me.  I wake up in the morning and watch the sunset and in the evenings we head out to Menemsha and watch the sunset as a family as we eat lobster and clam chowder.  Our last evening in the Vineyard we were invited to one of my mother’s friends homes for dinner.  I had the privilege of meeting her teenage daughter and her friends.  They were beautiful, energetic girls who were about to start their freshman year of high school.  They had so many ambitions and dreams.  They had a style to them that was fresh and classic.  They reminded me of… me 20+ years ago.  As I sat and listened to them talk about starting high school and boys and the latest teen craze Lana Del Ray and One Direction (they were keeping my ass relevant).  I smiled.  I remembered those days.  Those days when you felt like you had your whole life ahead of you.  Those days when there were endless possibilities and you dreamed big and didn’t worry about failing.  As I gave them advice about being a COM (creature of mystery) in high school and not being a fast ass they then started asking me about me.  When I told them I lived in LA they all gasped in delight in unison.

Teenagers:  LA!  You live there.  Oh my goodness that’s so cool.  Do you see movie stars?

Me:  All the time.  Miley Cyrus goes to my grocery store.

Teenager Girl:  No way!  That is so cool!!!!  Wow you rock!

Me:  Really?

Teenage Girl:  Yeah!  I want to move to LA one day! 

Me:  I love it there.  I was your age when I knew I wanted to live there.    

Teenage Girl:  Can I give you my number so we can keep in touch?

Me:  Absolutely. 

Teenage Girl:  When do you leave the vineyard?

Me:  Tomorrow.  Back to reality for me.

Teenage Girl:  What a great reality!  I want your reality.

Me:  Really?

Teenage Girl:  Yeah!  You have an awesome life!  Way cool!

Me:  (long pause) You know what…. You’re actually right.  Thank you!

Teenage Girl:  For what?

Me:  Just for being you…

Teenage Girls

I had the privilege of meeting her teenage daughter and her friends. They were beautiful, energetic girls who were about to start their freshman year of high school. They had so many ambitions and dreams. They had a style to them that was fresh and classic. They reminded me of… me 20+ years ago.

It’s amazing that it took three 14 year old girls to snap me out my birthday slump.  Here I was feeling all down and out because I was about to be four years away from 40.  I wasn’t allowing myself to appreciate where I was and how far I had come.  When I returned to LA I went into my storage closet and pulled out my old journals (yes I have been journaling since I was a kid and I have kept most of my journals).  I turned to my journal entry from when I turned 15.  I had listed all the things I wanted in life.

1-       Move to LA

2-      Become Famous

3-      Marry Grant Hill, Larry Johnson, or Scottie Pipen

4-      Have Kids

5-      Drive  a convertible

I had accomplished all that I wanted so far.  Granted my marriage didn’t last and Tamia got to Grant Hill before I had a chance.  I hadn’t had my kids yet.  But all in all I was living the life that I wanted.  I always knew I would move to LA.  I always knew I was going to have a great life.  When I was in my birthday slump I decided I was going to spend August 6th by myself at the spa and go home and meditate and have a birthday cupcake by myself.  My girlfriend was not having that shit.  She texted me the day before my birthday:

Girlfriend:  When are you coming home and what are we doing for your bday?

Me:  Probably nothing.  I’m not feeling this bday at all!

Girlfriend:  SMH.  Well forget about it.  Something is in the works.  Have yourself together tomorrow at 7:45.  You can’t refuse so just deal with it and shut up!

Me:  LOL!  Okay party planner.

Girlfriend:  It will be fun.  It’s all been worked out.  Whatever you’re sad about just know that a lot of people love and care about you and can’t wait to see your ass Tuesday night!

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As I blew out my birthday candle I thought about those three teenage girls I met in Martha’s Vineyard. They probably have no idea how much they touched my life. I thought about them and I made my wish. I wished that when they turned 36 they would feel the same amount of love I felt in that room. I prayed that they would evolve into great young women and would learn some of the lessons I learned in the last few years earlier and not the hard way. But most of all I wished that they would never lose their sense of adventure and hopefulness.

The next day came… August 6th.  My 36th birthday.  I got out of bed and I felt slightly rejuvenated.  It was a brand new day, the sun was shining.  I headed over to Fig and Olive and had a great birthday lunch then I spent the next few hours at the spa.  By the time my girlfriend picked me up that evening at 8 pm.  I was feeling really good.  I felt at peace and relaxed.  When I walked into the back room of Xen Lounge and saw the smiling faces of my close girlfriends.  I smiled.  I felt such an overwhelming amount of love.  There in front of me were my closest friends from college all the way to my recent sisters that I bounded with and they were all there to celebrate with me.  I was beyond happy and felt an overwhelming sense of love.  As I blew out my birthday candle I thought about those three teenage girls I met in Martha’s Vineyard.  They probably have no idea how much they touched my life.  I thought about them and I made my wish.  I wished that when they turned 36 they would feel the same amount of love I felt in that room.  I prayed that they would evolve into great young women and would learn some of the lessons I learned in the last few years earlier and not the hard way.  But most of all I wished that they would never lose their sense of adventure and hopefulness.  I also thanked God that he brought those three angles into my life at that time.  It is so easy to forget about how far you’ve come when you are so focused on where you want to go and why you haven’t gotten there on your time.  As I begin this next year of my life I am finally going to learn how to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the end result.  When I opened my eyes I was confident that all of my wishes were going to come true.  I am 36, four years away from 40 and absolutely fabulous!

 

40 Shades of Grey

Looking in Mirror

I remember the first few months of my divorce; I would look at myself in the mirror and feel like there was a huge weight on my shoulders. I would also look at myself and feel like I was a different person.

I remember the first few months of my divorce; I would look at myself in the mirror and feel like there was a huge weight on my shoulders.  I would also look at myself and feel like I was a different person.  I still looked like myself but I felt like I was wounded and I didn’t know how to heel the injury.  Fast forward to present day.  I have really been focusing on my friendships and my family.  I went out with one of my close girlfriends last weekend.  She is 42 and newly engaged.  We have been close friends for the last 10 years.  We have gone through the ups and downs of dating and as her close friend it is so great to see her excitement during this time of her life.  As we sat down having cocktails overlooking the ocean at the Loew’s Hotel in Santa Monica she was reminiscing over the last decade.

Girlfriend:  I tell you, life is so interesting.  You really have to enjoy your life and live in the moment. 

Me:  That has been a recurring theme lately.

Girlfriend:  Trust me, I understand.  I met my honey later in life.  But if I had met him before I did neither one of us would have been ready.  You see, the 20’s are for making the mistakes.  The 30’s are for learning the lessons, and once you reach your 40’s you hit your stride.  You’ve made the mistakes and learned the lessons.  And you are at a point in your life where you say fuck it!  I am who I am and it’s okay.

Ironically, this wasn’t the first time I had heard that saying.  But perhaps it was the first time I was really paying attention to what she was saying.  The very next day, I met up with another group of my girlfriends who happened to be in their early 40’s as well.  We were celebrating my girlfriend’s 40th birthday.  It was a beautiful day in Malibu.  We sat outside at Gladstone’s eating Oysters and having some wine.   We were all sharing our dating horror stories and just bonding.  All of us at the table had gone through a divorce or some type of heartache at one point in our lives and had made it to the other side.

Me:  What are some of the lessons you learned in your 30’s?

Girlfriend:  Let me tell you something.  You are young.  You cannot settle!  Lots of times we settle and we put up with a lot of shit that we shouldn’t.  If something doesn’t seem right, keep it moving!

Me:  How do I know if I am not being reasonable?  In the past I have been accused of not giving guys a chance.

Girlfriend:  Oh please, if it’s not right it’s not right.  You know when shit doesn’t feel right.  You can’t force stuff.  I’m not telling you to be a raging bitch.  But I don’t want you to be in something just because you don’t want to be alone.  I don’t want you to put up with crap just because you think you can’t get better or you’re getting “old.”  Chile’ please. 

There seems to be a certain stride that women hit once they turn 40.  I noticed it in a lot of my friends.  First of all, they all look beautiful.  There is an inner and outer beauty that radiates from within.  There is a certain amount of confidence I notice in women in their 40’s as well.  When I was going through my divorce my mother once told me, “You have earned your battle stripes.”  I realized those times when I was looking at myself in the mirror I WAS looking at a different person.  I no longer lived in this fantasy world.  I had gone through the trenches of a bitter breakup and I made it.  I realized I was becoming a true grown ass woman.  You see, in my 20’s I saw things as either black or white.  There was no in between.  I was going to be married by the time I reached 30, it would last forever, I would have my 2.5 children, and a house with a white picket fence.  By the time I reached my 30’s and was in a bad marriage, I still saw things as black and white, I was determined to make things work in spite of the fact I knew deep in my soul I was with the wrong person.  I was willing to shrink who I was to fit into his small world in order to make him happy.  But by the time I was going through the divorce that is when my black and white world was suddenly turning gray.  And that’s when I realized as a 35 year old women I am in the midst of becoming the woman I was supposed to be.  Without the experience I had I would have still been living in my black and white fantasy world.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have a lot of my close girlfriends who are in their 40’s.   They are like big sisters to me and there is such a love that we share.  And there is also authenticity.  We don’t bullshit around; we say it like we mean it.  Although I have sometime before I hit my 40’s (I ain’t trying to rush shit).  I realized I was finally hitting my stride.  I was in the middle of learning those lessons.  I had already made the big mistakes and now was my time to learn from them.  It’s amazing what happens when you decide to focus on you and not finding a relationship.  I am hyper aware of a lot of things around me.  I yearn for those perils of wisdom.  I can’t lie, in the last few months I had those moments of feeling like, I’m getting older.  If I don’t meet someone by the time I hit 40 the pickings are going to get slimmer.  I live in LA; men will think I am too old.  I want to have children one day.  I need to hurry up and find someone before I hit 40!

 

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I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have a lot of my close girlfriends who are in their 40’s. They are like big sisters to me and there is such a love that we share. And there is also authenticity. We don’t bullshit around; we say it like we mean it.

That’s why it is important to surround yourself around positive people who have some damn sense!  I was already beginning to do exactly what I was doing in my late 20’s and look where that got me.  Now at 35 I had learned the lesson.  When you let fear and worry dictate your actions you end up making major mistakes.  I am finally learning to enjoy my “grey” time.  Life isn’t just black and white.  When you mix the two colors together you become a fully authentic woman.  When you earn your battle strips you learn what roads lead you to another war.  When you begin to embrace who you are at any age life becomes worth living it to the fullest.
 
Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+        

The Company You Keep

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I refused to speak to or associate with any negativity. Not to be a bitch but I needed to protect myself.

I had finally returned to the land of the living.  I was feeling like myself again and I was also feeling hopeful after that chance meeting with “Ron.”  So I made another conscious decision to spend more time with happily married couples, people in love, and positive energy.  I refused to speak to or associate with any negativity.  Not to be a bitch but I needed to protect myself.  It is always a great reminder to be around people who actually love each other but not only just that, they love you and want the best of you.  Over the weekend I attended a bridal shower of a friend of mine who was getting married in June.  She had been through a previous marriage and divorce. She met her soul mate around a year ago.  To see the sincere happiness on her face during her shower was… inspirational.  I believed in love and I wanted to believe that the second time around could happen.  I remember a little over a year ago I was considering moving to Chicago.  I had gone there for work and I felt like I was a super star.  Brothas acknowledged me.  They went out of their way!  And I liked the vibe of the city.  I told my girlfriend this and her response was, “Are you crazy?  You don’t even have a plan!  Are you just going to move to Chicago and not have a plan?”  She definitely had a point.  A few weeks later I was in Chicago for a layover.  When I got off the plane and walked through the jet way, which took a total of 20 seconds.  By the time I was finally in the airport.  I couldn’t feel my legs.  They were frostbitten.  I realized then and there if this is what the weather was like in Chicago in December I was going to stay my ass right in LA.  I grew up in New Jersey and yes it was cold during the winter time but the level of bitter ice cold in Chicago was more than I could stand.  My 13 years in LA had made me allergic to the cold weather.  And my friend had a point.  It would be one thing if I had already met my soul mate who lived in Chicago and I moved for love.  But why in the hell would I move to Chicago without a plan in hopes of meeting an imaginary man?  If I didn’t I would spend my time alone and cold.  At least in LA I can be alone but take a drive in my convertible in the middle of December with the top down.  But fast forwarding to present time seeing her so happy gave me hope.  And encouragement that the second time around could and would be better.

The next day I met up with two of my married girlfriends at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.  My one girlfriend friend was happily married to a man who adored her.  Their family looked like one of those families that are in a picture frame when you buy one from the store.  They are gorgeous and the level of respect and love they have for one another is again inspiring.  My other friend had been married for two years and I was with her when she met her husband at the UCLA Jazz fest Memorial Day weekend a few years back.  Their courtship proved that when you marry a man who is your friend and who loves you unconditionally you have a strong marriage.  I was telling them how I had just gone through one of my dating depression and was so frustrated with dating.  You see, if I wanted to I could have already been remarried if that all I wanted was just marriage.  But Like my friend whose bridal shower I went to the day before, I was looking for something more.  I was looking for the real thing.  And I wouldn’t settle until the real thing happened.  All of these dating lessons I was learning since the divorce made me realize that it is better to be alone and lonely than with someone and lonely.  Once again, being around people who are happily married gives you a sense of hope.  Also, if you really listen they offer perils of wisdom.  My one girlfriend told me, “Right before I met my husband.  I had made myself okay with being by myself.  I was travelling and just enjoying my life.  I made myself okay with me first.” When I went on further to tell them about my crazy ass week and self doubt my other married girlfriend said, “You have to be very careful with what you put out into the universe.  There are things that might run through my mind, but I don’t say that shit out loud.  When that negative thought creeps up I push it down.  Don’t speak bad shit into existence.”   It is so good to have real friends.

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I was glad I had girlfriends in my life that kept it real and that were positive….Seeing my friend so happy and with a man who genuinely got her really touched my heart. And she said, “Ladies, miracles do happen.”

Then my final stop for my weekend of unexpected self discovery was happy hour with some of my college friends at Sonoma Wine Bar at the 3rd Street Promenade Mall in Santa Monica.  A girlfriend of mine had started dating an amazing guy.  Seeing my friend so happy and with a man who genuinely got her really touched my heart.  And she said, “Ladies, miracles do happen.”  Seeing her smile made me realize that was true.  Misery doesn’t always love company.  Being around these wonderful women made me realize a few things:  first of all, the common denominator they all had is they reached a point in being fine being by themselves.  It didn’t mean they didn’t believe that would meet the right man but they made themselves okay with being where they were at the time.  They also did not settle just to be with a man.  They went with the flow and waited for the right man to come along.  They didn’t force it.  They just lived their lives and when they met their soul mates he didn’t complete them he merely enhanced where they already were.  These were all things that I knew already but I found myself forgetting this.  And then when I really sat down and thought about it, I realized that is one of the major reasons I ended up marrying the wrong person in the first place.  I worried that I wasn’t going to get any better and I found myself dealing with bullshit just because of my fear of being in the dating game.  I find that lately I think I have been tested.  I’m not sure if these tests are the universe’s way of making sure I am really and truly ready or making sure I really learned my lesson.  But I was glad I had girlfriends in my life that kept it real and that were positive.  It is easy to get advice from the wrong people.  I remember when I was going through my divorce different people were so quick to give me advice on what I should and shouldn’t do but when they were in a similar situation it was interesting to see how they didn’t follow any of the advice they gave me.  It is so important as woman that you keep positive people around you and that you stay positive. Because when you are in a low and vulnerable position you can become a victim of bad advice and bitterness.  I don’t have a major dating story to tell you all today, but I felt the need to reiterate age old wisdom.  Watch the company you keep….     
Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+