Meditation on Gratitude

Capturing feelings of gratitude can be extraordinarily hard. It is often fleeting and ephemeral, not something tangible that I can pin down and examine.

red roses 3

But in the last few days I’ve been focusing on the flow of energy in my life, and my reactions to recent events – disappointing and painful – and how my attitude to these events is influenced by my core beliefs.

Those beliefs are not always helpful or positive, so at a very deep emotional, mental and physical level I’m doing some work on changing that.

One of these long-held beliefs is a variation on the theme of not being worthy – ultimately worthy of loving. This premise is one that so many of us carry throughout lives like a lead coat of misery or shame. A rainbow of morbid grays that weighs us down and contributes nothing to our emotional or mental health.

I’ve decided to cast mine off and reclaim my inner space as an optimistic, confident woman who is indeed deserving of respect, someone’s time, being heard, being supported, being treasured, being satisfied, being adored – and being loved.

In some ways my ‘cougar’ identity – read ‘mature, sexually empowered woman’ – is one face I hold up to the world. There are others too.

I’m sure this new period of determined growth will influence my dating life and my desires in the coming months.

I’m henceforth inviting in people who will help me grow, specifically towards re-building my core (unconscious) beliefs to be life-affirming, self-affirming and loving.

Part of what I will be working on during the next two weeks is creating a vision board. I have never done one of these before, although in a way my whole, beloved home, particularly my bedroom and study, is about holding beauty, strong positive energy and ideas through language (quotes), images (cards and pictures, artwork) and of course, cherishing the physical (through touch and intimacy).

This is my first living space (house) that I alone own – I’m responsible for the roof over my head (to also shelter and protect my children) by my own labour and dedication. Before now everything I owned belonged jointly to the ex-husband. It is immensely liberating to go it alone – although I share the space with my children, I know that one day it will be all mine. It is my safe space and my sanctuary.

This is a deeply empowering fact that I don’t take for granted. I am grateful for my ability to provide for myself and my family in work that enriches me, and helps me grow and learn every day. It is also work that allows me to enter ‘the zone’ aka the flow; a place where we are lost in our endeavours. I am grateful for this state as there is no more rewarding career than one that allows you to connect with this energy through whatever means is your calling.

I am also grateful for the reciprocal love, warmth, listening, and sharing of my friends and immediate family.

That may seem obvious but in feeling gratitude I can’t go past the most observable source, which includes the people who I spend the most time with day in, day out, week in, week out and in some cases, year on year.

There are many other aspects of my life I’m grateful for, including my good health. I’m also working on being genuinely grateful for my physical body (without succumbing to the notion of myself as a flawed and less-than-perfect specimen of womanhood).

I’m hopeful that shifting some of these unhelpful core beliefs and subconscious attitudes will also shift something in the type of relationships that I attract into my life.

And of course, you – dear reader.

I am grateful for you. I am grateful that what started out as dipping a toe in the waters of experimentation (never having read a blog before, much less followed dozens!), close on 9 months later I have a solid following and much more importantly, a genuine feeling of community channeled via blogging and specifically, WordPress.

In 2017 (September to December), Unleashing the Cougar achieved 4,547 views from 1,251 visitors, attracting 433 likes and 409 comments.

In 2018 (to end May), Unleashing the Cougar achieved 8,055 views from 2,492 visitors, attracting 596 likes and 562 comments.

Highest all-time views were in March and April 2018 with 1.9K each month.

The top 4 countries to view UTC during these 9 months were United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, with surprising numbers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and India.

In 2018 (to end May) I have written 41,229 words or 22 posts, and in 2017 (from September), I wrote 46,423 words, or 36 posts. I have long posts on average, because I tackle meaty subjects, and they sit around the 1800 word mark. And UTC has gone from zero to 264 followers in these 9 months – for every one of these people I am honoured and thrilled.

Thank you again to everyone who has read or commented on this (still) work-in-progress blog. Thank you to the women and men I have ‘met’ and collaborated with, some of whom have become my first blogger friends – and one I have even met IRL!

As always, I am grateful for feedback, suggestions and opinions, especially constructive criticism because that’s how we learn and grow.

bustier pic 2

Eve Lawrence 

When Someone Unexpected Appears

Today I had a date with a man I really like. This may seem like a completely innocuous and boring statement to you, but honestly, it’s rare I can say that.

recycled furniture

It’s unusual for me to find a man on a dating site whose profile I want to read, whose pictures interest me, and who lives reasonably near me. There are usually other factors that make them seem incompatible or just plain impossible. Or they won’t return my message, if I decide to send one, from which I assume they aren’t into me, or it just wasn’t meant to be.

This guy, I’ll call him ‘the recycler’, didn’t immediately interest me. He had a strange user name and I didn’t much like the look of his pictures. His profile text, though interesting, didn’t jump off the screen and make me want to message him. I took my time in replying to his initial tentative but confident greeting message to me. I put him in the mental filing basket of ‘not my type but I’ll look into it when I get a minute’.

Eventually I responded and we did the awkward stilted banter on POF that results from the abysmal lack of rhythm and snail’s pace of the interface, which seems standard here in my city. God it’s truly appalling and most of the time I can’t even be bothered trying, so I very quickly shift them over to kik if they seem at all promising. Except The Recycler did not have kik and did not offer to install it – normally a sign to me that they’re not really worth pursuing if they can’t be bothered to do that. After all, it’s fast, free and best of all, anonymous so no sharing of mobile/cell phone numbers is necessary. As a woman (and especially as one who’s been harassed by unwanted phone calls and texts before), this is worth the hassle of phone space and data use.

Instead, he gave me his mobile number and asked if we could text. Again, there was a pause from me when I mentally backed off. I don’t like to share my mobile with anyone unless I have met them. Hard won experience has taught me that people sometimes can’t be trusted to behave as you would expect. Late night phone calls, dinnertime unannounced phone calls and in fact, any phone calls are not welcome to me – unless they have texted me to ask if it’s OK. Actually, scrap that, I rarely like talking on the phone unless I know someone pretty well and the timing suits me. I’m a busy working woman and a mother, so I rarely have time or privacy to actually ‘talk’.

I sat with that suggestion of messaging on our phones for a few days and we chatted a couple more times on POF. When he made a comment about me avoiding messaging his phone, I felt a tiny slither closer to trusting him with my number. I explained my reticence and he was totally supportive of my reasons and swore that he’d respect my rules and that, in fact, he agreed with them. He wasn’t up for unannounced calls or phone convos either.

So, we started texting a little over a week ago. It’s been reserved and friendly, with only one stray into personal territory when he asked about my harem of young men. I knew he was fishing for information and I purposely didn’t take the bait, but then he persisted so I told him that, at the moment, I was looking for a man around my age. A change of pace that I’m enjoying exploring, thanks to the delicious benefits of being involved with an older man for the first time in my life.

At this point I should probably add that the only reason I am back on a dating site (yes, only the one) and looking seriously again is that I am emotionally invested with an unavailable man, and because we can only see each other every two to three weeks, and even then it can’t be relied upon until he actually arrives at my door, I need distractions. I need to steer my wayward heart from constantly thinking of him night and day, and give my body treats to tide me over the long breaks between the fierce, loved-up energy I get from being with him.

The Recycler and I continued our friendly but restrained messaging last Friday while we were both at work, and then he asked if I’d like to catch up for coffee over the weekend. I agreed and we laid in place tentative plans for today, a Sunday, which we confirmed this morning.

By this stage you might be getting the feeling that I was not quite engaged, a little hesitant and certainly not weighing in with my usual gung-ho energy. You’d be right, but that’s really my new modus operandi in these post-E days – restraint, caution and trying to ensure my needs are met, rather than the focus being on meeting the needs of countless men. We women are generally programmed to please, and so unless we take a good hard look at our choices and our behavior, we can find ourselves following outdated scripts that don’t serve us well. I’ve affirmed to myself many times that long gone are my days of ‘saving’ men and meeting their needs, instead of my own.

Come 2.00pm and I entered the café tucked away in a quiet, pretty town, looking for The Recycler. He was nowhere to be seen so I messaged him and waited outside. In just a few seconds he was walking towards me and – gasp – he was REALLY attractive! How did this happen? How can someone so sexy and handsome in the flesh come across as meh in a photo? A little flustered, I drank him in with my eyes as we smiled and said hello.

“You look lovely,” he said, taking my arm.

I put my hand on his arm in an instinctive gesture of warmth and looking into his eyes I said, “You’re American?! I didn’t know.”

We made the decision to go for a wander rather than enter the coffee shop straight away. As we walked comfortably along the street looking for an antique shop to browse, we chatted smoothly as I adjusted to the unusual sensation of feeling tiny butterflies and a growing excitement. Yes, I liked him! I knew it instantly! And he seemed to like me. There was the prolonged eye contact, the warm smiles, the enlarged pupils, the easy conversation.

We have a lot in common – in fact probably the most I’ve ever experienced with a stranger. Especially one from a dating site. We’re both environmentally aware and interested in sustainability, the natural environment and living life simply. We both prefer nature to cities, and recycled or old, well-crafted furniture and items to new, we both love original, heartfelt live music and have similar non-mainstream musical taste – in fact as we talked we kept discovering more areas of amused agreement. It’s refreshing to meet someone like this – I can count on one hand the number of men I’ve met where I’ve felt this type of harmony and nascent excitement.

Eventually we chose a gorgeous old Georgian-style café and sat in the garden under the naked autumn branches of a giant elm tree. We talked comfortably for almost two hours, during which time I felt his eyes on me (I think they were admiring) and I tried not to feel nervous or as if I was being judged. Most of the time I honestly don’t care what they think of me, because the stakes are not that high and I’m not invested in an outcome. But this time, because I find someone like The Recycler so infrequently, I was very aware of a spark of fledgling anticipation between us, a sense that we had each met our match, and that it had been a long time coming.

I don’t know what to make of it, so I’m going to watch and wait. He left rather suddenly as we walked back down the street towards our cars, giving me a quick peck on the lips at the pedestrian crossing. I realised that he was 45 minutes over schedule and I’d made him late. Ooops. I messaged him earlier tonight to thank him for the pleasure of his company and for buying me the coffee.

“I really like you,” I said. And then I waited, thinking ‘was that too much?’ and ‘was I too direct?’ and of course, ‘what if he doesn’t like me?’.

He messaged back a short while later saying that he enjoyed meeting me too. And then that’s been it for the night. I know he’s with his mate helping him move house, so I’m hoping that’s the reason for the lack of further comment.

Still, I can’t help wondering whether I imagined all the feelings of connection and bright-eyed regard. He’s given me many compliments already – not just about my appearance either – but time will tell where this one leads. All I can say is, thank you Mother Universe for showing me that men like The Recycler exist in my world.