Monday 30 November 2015

What It's Like To Have A Matchmaker Find You A Husband At Age 19

"An interesting article and proof that sometimes cultural traditions can work"   -  Susan

What It's Like To Have A Matchmaker Find You A Husband At Age 19 

 isn't such a thing as 'falling in love' in my culture.
I want to tell you the story of how my own shidduch (a date or match, often leading to marriage; the matching up of a man and a woman for purposes of marriage) went.
In the non-Jewish world, ours is what you would call an arranged marriage. But I dislike that word, because in my mind that equals a "forced" marriage. And mine, like most others in my community, was anything but. At any time you have the option of saying no.
When a girl turns 18, it gives matchmakers a green light to start calling the parents. I belong to a certain Hasidic sect, so the suggestions were all going to be eligible young men from the same sect. As I turned 18, the phones started ringing with suggestions.
If a suggestion sounded promising, my parents went ahead and made many inquiries. As much as the Jewish world is big, it's actually very small.
We quickly found some mutual acquaintances who could tell us more about the boy. We wanted to know about his character traits. Is he kind-hearted? Is he a messy person? Happy? Helpful? Basically, a good person who would make a good husband. 
We could only do our best and hope the reports we got were truthful. For the first few months, none of the suggestions panned out. The boy was either not right for me or they decided I wasn't right for him.
When I was almost 19, my neighbour from around the block was suggested to me. He was, for our circles, considered a bit older at the ripe age of 23. My father knew him well from the daily prayers at the synagogue. He didn't need to hear much as he knew him to be a fine young man who was always willing to help others and was known to have a heart of gold. That's what matters most, right?
As I was told of the potential match, my first reaction was NO WAY! I knew the family superficially. I was aware the father had passed away young and left behind the widow and 12 children. I knew they were a very close-knit family, and you always saw the mom and her daughters together in their own world. I was a bit intimidated.
My parents were very interested and thought this would be the perfect guy for me. They agreed to let me to think it over and give them an answer. After giving it some thought, I decided I had no valid reason to say no.
So, the first step was taken. A meeting was scheduled between the young man's mother and myself. It was really weird to be meeting someone you know for such an intimate purpose. My stomach turned as I got ready. But I didn't need to worry. When she saw me, she said, "You should know, I'm just as nervous as you."
That put me at ease a little bit. As the conversation progressed, I relaxed and the meeting was actually nice. We talked about all kinds of stuff, most of which I barely remember now.
Everything goes through a matchmaker, which meant that we went home and waited to hear what the other side had decided. It didn't take very long for them to let us know that they were interested in continuing, and the time had come to set up a date for me to meet the potential groom. (Date isn't really what we had; we call it a b'show, which means a sit-in date.)
We scheduled to meet in a friend's house on the other side of town, so as not to run into anyone we knew.
Most of the ultra-orthodox Jews have an average of five dates. I'm Hasidic, which means we do things a bit differently. We have one or two sit-ins, after which the couple usually gets engaged. 
It sounds weird, but research has shown that there are no more divorces in our circles than in the rest of the world. This is what I knew, this is how I grew up, and this is my normal. A sit-in in our world is quite intimidating; it's the first close contact a boy/girl has with the opposite gender, as we are separated throughout our childhood.
To say the first few minutes were awkward is an understatement. But it didn't take long for him to make me feel comfortable and for the conversation to really become enjoyable. We spoke about our families, our time in seminary, or Yeshivah (an institution that focuses on teaching Talmud to boys and young men), and other things. 
We didn't talk about the deeper stuff since we both came from the same background, but we spent a nice few hours together. After the meeting, we both went home.
My parents gave me the option to meet him again the next day. I was young, barely 19, and I probably (most assuredly) didn't realize what a momentous decision this was. I thought it over, but I liked a lot of what I saw (of how much one could see from one meeting). 
Besides all the good things I heard about him, he was also nice and had a great sense of humour. I knew how dedicated he was to his widow mom and I could tell he would go through fire for anyone he cared about. 
I didn't think I would find out much more by a second meeting and I didn't want to spend the night not sleeping from nerves. So my decision was made: I would marry this man.
Since the parents had already taken care of the other important stuff like discussions about money, I happily told my parents to go ahead and let the other side know. After the matchmaker called to tell us he wanted to marry me too, we got officially engaged.
It's true  we do actually get married to a stranger and there usually isn't such a thing as falling in love. That means we work harder at making our marriage grow and the love, as a result, is a deep, long-lasting one. 
I'm happy to report that after 18 years, I'm still very happily in love and our marriage isn't any different than any of yours. My dear husband is everything I thought he was: caring, heart of gold, great sense of humour, and does everything for me and the kids.

Sunday 29 November 2015

If You Have To Force It, You're Not In The Right Relationship

"All relationships go through highs and lows its only natural,  and if at the low points you still look forward to seeing your partner at the end of the day then you know its worth working through.  Relationships like life don't come easy,  your get out of it what you put in."     -      Susan

If You Have To Force It, You're Not In The Right Relationship 

When it’s head versus heart, nobody wins.

Relationships are hard work. That's what they always tell us, right? But they never tell you what "work" is, and how much is reasonable before it's just a bad relationship. )Seems like a pretty important piece of information to leave out.)
When your relationship hits a rough patch, it makes you wonder if this is one of those moments you're supposed to "work" through, or a sign that it was never going to work in the first place.
When happy couples look back through the history of their relationship, there are inevitably obstacles along the way that could have ended them. Basically: How do you tell the difference between an obstacle and a red flag?
It's actually pretty easy, even if it isn't all that obvious: Just listen to your heart.
I know, I know. You're saying, "You just replaced one vague platitude with another!" The difference is, I'm going to explain mine.
The difference between an obstacle and a red flag is whether you feel that person is worth whatever struggle you're going through. And your heart will tell you in an instant. 
The moment you have to "will" your way through a relationship challenge is the moment you should begin examining if you really want to be in that relationship. That's because when you have someone who's truly worth it, whether or not you're going to fight through that struggle is never truly in question.
It might suck for awhile, but you never doubt that it's worth it. You don't have to force it. In other words, your brain doesn't have to convince your heart.
Now reverse the hypothetical situation. You really want to fight for your relationship, but your head is telling you it's not the smart thing to do. Maybe it goes against relationship advice you've read or your friends are telling you to cut and run.
The truth is, the heart wants what it wants, and it doesn't always make logical sense.
So if you find yourself in this situation in the future, unsure if a relationship challenge is a temporary obstacle or a sign you should break it off, just ask yourself one question: Is it my head or my heart that isn't in it?

Saturday 28 November 2015

4 Signs That Someone Is Insecure

"So my conclusion is that some insecure people compensate by making other people feel inferior, they have a tendency to be the Narcissistic type. Self-centred, manipulative, demanding and need to feed off the energy of others around them, they crave and work hard to get status and are convinced that they deserve special attention. They believe that the world revolves around them, with no empathy for others because this gets in the way of keeping the focus on them. 
Wow does this all sound like hard work to you?. I'm thinking that perhaps these people are direct descendants of Machiavelli.
But seriously there are lots of people like the above out there in this big world, on the outside they seem to have everything going for them but their hidden insecurity gives them the need to feed on others.
Don't let these people drain away your self confidence, making you feel inferior and  question what you have and are happy with, you have your own gaols and inspirations, so hold on to them."           -  Susan

4 Signs That Someone Is Insecure

..........and what narcissism has to do with it

You’re with someone you’ve just met, and within seconds you feel that there’s something wrong with you.
Up until meeting this person, you were having a pretty good day, but now you’re starting to question everything from the way you look to the accomplishments you’ve racked up over your life so far. Let’s say the person is the mother of one of your children’s playmates. Not only does she seem perfectly outfitted, but in simply introducing herself, she’s made it clear that she’s got an important job and a perfect family life, and that she associates with all the right people.
It’s easy to get thrown into a personal purgatory of self-doubt in these situations. Whether it’s a social contact or a business interaction,  people who want everyone to know how big they are can make the rest of us feel pretty small. Just think how much better you’d feel if you could brush these situations aside and go on about your day without doubting yourself and your life.
It turns out that armed with a simple set of detection tools, you can not only help yourself feel better, but also recognize the weaknesses in the fa├žade of those practically perfect people.
The psychology behind this process stems from the theory of the Viennese psychoanalyst Alfred Adler, who coined the term inferiority complex.
According to Adler, people who feel inferior go about their days overcompensating through what he called “striving for superiority.” The only way these inwardly uncertain people can feel happy is by making others decidedly unhappy. To Adler, this striving for superiority lies at the core of neurosis.
We now think of this striving for superiority as a feature of narcissistic personality disorder, that deviation in normal development that results in a person’s constant search to boost self-esteem. The two kinds of narcissists are the grandiose (who feel super-entitled) and the vulnerable (who, underneath the bravado, feel weak and helpless). Some may argue that at their core, both types of narcissists have a weak sense of self-esteem, but the grandiose narcissist may just be better at the cover-up. In either case, when you’re dealing with someone who’s making you feel inferior, there’s a good chance that narcissism is the culprit.
Narcissism doesn’t always reach pathological levels, but it can characterize people to more or less of a degree. Using the concepts of “overt” and “covert” narcissism instead of grandiose and vulnerable, some personality researchers believe that they can learn more about the type of narcissism you might spot in everyday life. University of Derby (U.K.) psychologist James Brookes (2015) decided to investigate the way that people high on these tendencies actually feel about themselves both in terms of self-esteem and self-efficacy, or one's confidence in their ability to succeed.
Using a sample of undergraduates—an important point to keep in mind—Brookes analyzed the relationships among overt and covert narcissism, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. The two forms of narcissism were not related to each other, supporting the idea that these two subtypes have some validity. Examining which were more related to self-esteem, Brookes found that those high on overt narcissism in fact had higher self-esteem: Their need to feel “special” seemed to play the most important role for these self-aggrandizing individuals. Covert narcissists, for their part, had lower self-esteem scores.
Looking at self-efficacy, or the feeling that you can reach your desired goals, the overt narcissists also won the day, compared to their more hypersensitive and insecure counterparts. In particular, for overt narcissists, the need to have power over others seemed to give them the sense that they could accomplish anything.
The Brookes study provides some clues, then, into what makes up the narcissistic personality. It can also offer insight into the ways you can interpret the actions of narcissistic friends, coworkers, or partners through examining their insecurities:
  1. The insecure person tries to make you feel insecure yourself.
    When you start to question your own self-worth, is it typically around a specific person or type of person? Is that individual always broadcasting his or her strengths? If you don’t feel insecure in general, but only around certain people, it’s likely they’re projecting their insecurities onto you.
  2. The insecure person needs to showcase his or her accomplishments.
    You don’t necessarily have to feel insecure around someone to conclude that inferiority is at the heart of their behavior. People who are constantly bragging about their great lifestyle, their elite education, or their fantastic children may very well be doing so to convince themselves that they really do have worth.
  3. The insecure person drops the “humble brag” far too often.
    The humble brag is a brag disguised as a self-derogatory statement. You’ve all seen these on Facebook, when an acquaintance complains about all the travel she has to take (due to the importance of her job), or all the time he has to spend watching his kids play (and, by the way, win) hockey games. (The "Facebook gloat" is a bold-faced brag which is easier to spot but may very well have the same roots.)
  4. The insecure person frequently complains that things aren’t good enough.
    People high in inferiority like to show what high standards they have. You may label them as snobs, but as much as you realize they’re putting on an act, it may be hard to shake the feeling that they really are better than you. What they’re trying to do, you may rightly suspect, is to proclaim their high standards as a way of asserting that not only are they better than everyone else, but that they hold themselves to a more rigorous set of self-assessment criteria.
Returning to the Brookes study, there can be aspects of overt narcissism that actually do work in helping the insecure feel more confident in their abilities. However, this comes at the price of making everyone else feel less confident. I wouldn’t recommend bolstering your sense of self-efficacy by putting down everyone else.
To sum up: Being able to detect insecurity in the people around you can help you shake off the self-doubts that some people seem to enjoy fostering in you. Taking the high road, and not giving in to these self-doubts, may also help you foster feelings of fulfillment both in yourself, and in the insecure people you know and care about.

Friday 27 November 2015

You Don't REALLY Know Yourself Until You've Gone Through Hard Sh*t

"Do you know the real you?  I don't think I know the real me.  I have been trying to work this out over the past sex years and still don't know. I find its so easy to keep comparing the now to the past, should I still be that person? Life is scary, our parents, teachers, culture, society and the media provide us with a narrow band of ‘acceptable’ ways of how we should be, and when that doesn't conform it our mind, we panic and hide behind the mask of the person we think society will accept.  Showing our flaws and even to some extent  what we class as our  good points can be a terrifying thought.  We seem to  believe that if we came out as our true self we may not be liked, loved or well thought and its the idea of losing these precious things that keeps our masks firmly in place.
Who said life was easy?   TAKE OFF THAT MASK!!!!!"   -  Susan

You Don't REALLY Know Yourself Until You've Gone Through Hard Sh*t

Think you know who you are? Your future self disagrees.

Whether it's divorce, quittin' the hooch, or something as scary as cancer, it's these life-altering curve balls that help you come to a place of truly understanding your sense of self.

And if you've never experienced anything catastrophic, well, you may not know who you are.
Recently, I left my wife of eight years and found myself trying to figure out how to go about life in a very unfamiliar way. After sharing a life with someone for a number of years, so many of my daily routines, belief systems and stress relievers were suddenly thrown into the air like a deck of cards in the wind. 
My once placid days quickly turned into me arduously chasing after these shambled, scattered cards to try and make the deck complete again. The small things came easy; the bigger issues that took a bit more time.
I really had to stop and think: What do I want for my life now that I don't have to plan it around another person? 
Decisions like, "I want to start a business!" (I do? Yes, I do!) "I want children!" (holy shit, I do?!) and "I want to be with someone again."
That last one was big considering I had just come out of an eight-year marriage. But I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to love and be loved. Call me a p*ssy, but it really was as simple as that. A conscious decision was made; a redefinition of self through hardship.

Right then and there, I became different. And the funny and unexpected thing? I finally felt like I was becoming more myself then I'd ever been before.
The loss of a spouse is just one of a billion things that can force you to redefine yourself. Just a few weeks ago, an old high school friend came to visit me in Nashville and filled me in that he'd quit drinking after 12 years. He divulged to me that his addiction had become so bad that he hadn't gone 12 hours without a drink in over eight years.
"How are you handling it?" I asked.
"I simply started to teach myself how to do everyday things, sober," he replied.
With most of his days starting after the fourth or fifth drink, he felt as if he was re-learning how to be himself. In fact, this re-learning phase morphed into a redefinition of his current identity. He was forced to ask himself: Who will I be once I've learned to live sober?

Then take my friend Jess. In her early 20s, Jess was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Overnight, she went from a healthy, vivacious woman to facing her own mortality. 
Although I was across the country when she started chemo, I was (and still am) an avid reader of her blog, cheering her on to remission. Little by little, I could see her change almost week by week. It seemed the things she once valued to be "important" became trivial as her battle with cancer progressed. 
Jess's priorities completely changed and she became Jess with Cancer instead of the fun loving, carefree Jess I knew. I'd like to think that this journey she's on is only just a stage, and that soon she'll have her chance to reshuffle that f*cking deck, again. Only this time, the cancer card won't be included.

In the end, having the courage to walk away from something or maybe having the courage to face it head-on is just the first step in a journey of self-exploration and self-definition. 
We humans pride ourselves on our identity, but what I've learned is when faced with things like addiction, sickness, or a wounded, bleeding heart, these evolving and unpleasant truths truly unravel your sense of self. 

Who you will become is not who are you now.

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Thursday 26 November 2015

12 Ways To Get Yourself Moving When You Feel 'Stuck' In Life

"This all sounds like good productive advice.  Ive started my list, if you are finding yourself in a similar rut, try these suggestions.  Afterall  what can you lose?"   -   Susan

12 Ways To Get Yourself Moving When You Feel 'Stuck' In Life

Don't worry: It's only a temporary rut. 
It's common to look at unproductive people and just call them lazy. After all, we all know what laziness "looks" like. We've been lazy ourselves, but it's been a temporary, short-lived condition, and we move on to pursue our goals and dreams with plenty of determination. 
But what happens when we lose that determination, and why do we lose it? Have we become one of the "lazy" people we've been so quick to condemn in the past? Or has fear taken over and stopped us dead in our tracks?
Fear and laziness are actually often related — one is an emotion and one is a behavior, and our emotions control our behaviors. These are the kinds of reflections and questions, among others, that must be analyzed and answered. 
One truth that will never change is this: We will always find time to do the things we really want to do. If you aren't finding the time to do the things that will achieve the goals and dreams you have set, here are some things that will help you.

1. Write on paper how you're spending your time.
Obviously, if you work that's a big chunk of at least five days of your week. But what are you doing with all of your non-work time? If you can't get it down on paper now, then monitor yourself for a week and figure out where those chunks of time are going.
Are you watching TV during a lot of that time? Are you on Facebook a large amount of time? If your dream is to be an author, how much of that down time you spend on other things could be converted to writing?

2. List the steps that will lead to fulfilling your dreams.
You may have never done this or you may have not done it in a long time. Goals and dreams are reached progressively, not all at once. Set benchmarks and a timeline for reaching them. If you have to eliminate some other activities to do this, it will be worth it in the long-term. Sometimes laziness is conquered by just having a plan.

3. Do a goal check.
This may be a bit scary, mostly because you've probably had your goal/dream for a while. You've expressed it to others, and it's become a part of you. But if that dream is falling apart because you aren't moving toward it, it may be because it's no longer meaningful to you.
Here is the real test: If actions toward that goal are seen as drudgery or boring, or if you're deliberately procrastinating, then you have the wrong goal. Maybe you've outgrown it; maybe your priorities have changed, but you aren't lazy.
It's time for some real reflection on where you want to be five years from now. It's time to change course with no guilt or shame. People change course all the time — that's the wonderful thing about freedom of choice!
Fear paralyzes us, even when we don't recognize it as such. We often mistake it for laziness or procrastination, behaviors that do result from fear. So, what common fears might be related to your dreams and how can you conquer them?

4. Overcome the fear of failure with small risks. 
Somehow in this society, we've developed the notion that failure is a reflection of a person's lack of ability, talent, or motivation. And because of this rather pervasive notion, the fear of failure keeps us from moving in the direction of our dreams.
Your dream isn't an overnight thing. It's achieved in sequential steps. So take a risk with just step one. Instead of quitting your job and sinking all of your savings into that dream venture, start freelancing on the side. Small successes will dissolve those fears over time.

5. Overcome the fear of criticism with silence.
This fear usually is the result of lack of self-confidence and the notion that our self-worth is from people outside of ourselves. Certainly we want to make our parents proud, but if that means that we fail to pursue a dream for fear of their criticism of it, then we're way too dependent on others for our validation.
Here's how you eliminate this fear: Stop talking about your dream to people who are critical of it. Pursue that dream and only speak of it to people who encourage you.

6. Overcome the fear of success by achieving small successes. 
Yes, there are people who fear success, and you may be one of them. The problem here is this: Once you reach your dream, what next? Many people subconsciously don't reach their goals because they fear the need to set new ones to keep moving forward.
This is a certain amount of security in continuing to talk about your goal and in showing people that you're steadily working toward it. They'll admire your persistence even if it's never achieved. But if you achieve a goal, then you must set a new one, and what if you don't achieve that one?
Fear of success turns into fear of failure again! And the solution is the same. Take small risks, meet with success, and move forward one step at a time. If one goal is reached, set that new one, rinse and repeat.

7. Divide up your goals.
If you feel overwhelmed by your goal or dream, break it down into small chunks (also known as "Swiss cheesing" it). Bite and chew at one little piece at a time. Take just step one today.

8. Hang out with the right people. 
Surround yourself with busy, active achievers instead of those without much direction or who discourage you.

9. Visualize yourself with your goal met. 
What will your life look like? Where will you be? What will you be doing?

10. Make a separate "to-do" list for your dream.
This is separate from the lists you make for personal and work tasks. List each step in the appropriate sequence. Put it in a visible place, so that you see it every day.
For example, if you want your own business, step one will be to get your vision down on paper. Step two will be to develop your business plan. Step three may be to get a great name and register it in your state (that's always a good feeling). Step four may be to find the startup money. And so on.

11. Stop using distractions as an excuse.
"My present job keeps me too busy." "I don't have any support." "It's just too hard." Remember, we always find the time and the wherewithal to do what we want to do. If you aren't finding the time, then go back and do a "goal check."

12. Identify those fears and walk right over them.
Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" Will you be dead? No. Will your life be in ruins with nowhere to turn? No. If your parents or other family members disapprove, will they still love you? Yes.
Get the right dreams, lose your fear, and write your own story.

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Wednesday 25 November 2015

4 Brutal Signs That The Guy You Love Is Going To Break Your Heart

"Whenever you enter a relationship, you risk having your heart broken. That shouldn't stop you from falling in love,  but it should urge you to be careful about whom you trust.               Have you ever had your heart broken?" - Susan'


4 Brutal Signs That The Guy You Love Is Going To Break Your Heart

 It's better to know in advance.