Project Toad: Letters from a Toad – An Online Dating Confessional

Not for the faint of heart…

Never – when I asked our dear Toad, Jake, to tell me his Lessons Learned so far about Online Dating – did I anticipate the depth of spirit he would share with us. He wrote us a letter, and he intends to write to us often as he experiences Online Dating. I won’t take anymore of your reading attention with my words. Instead, I give you Jake…

Dear Heidi Lee,

When I came to you with the idea of personally joining Match.com to find a relationship, I was thrilled that you offered your help. I also really enjoy seeing my adventures immortalized in your blog. I thought it would be fun and I trusted your instincts. I’ve seen your relationship with your own Prince Charming (aka PC) first hand, and I’d hoped your guidance would help me find that same magic.

Yet I have to acknowledge upfront that this project has spiraled into something I never imagined. Had I known what I was faced with, I would have never volunteered.  However, you’re my friend. Now that I’ve made the commitment to this endeavor and to you, my personal code of conduct mandates that I follow through.  But, Heidi Lee, it’s hard. I’m looking at myself and the man I feel like I have been. I see now that I have to become…

So let’s begin with what I’ve learned from you about myself. My only stipulation is that you do not judge me too harshly or see me shrouded in a perpetual cloak of ignorance. You are my friend, and that would hurt.

I never actually had a successful relationship in any capacity.  I’ve gone from one micro-relationship to another (or should I say I’ve been a Toad-Hopping from bed to bed?) I’ve done this all my life.  I prided myself in the belief that I held a keen understanding of what women want only to learn at 41 that I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

I have dated, and yes, I use that term carelessly, women who were between 18 and 25.  I’ve always told you that I dated these younger women because I lived in a college town with limited options. Now I confess that this is not entirely true.

I never understood that my geographic location wasn’t the only reason for my perpetually young, ever changing, flock of female companions. Funny thing is you did, you called me on it, and I’m grateful that you forced me to open my eyes to reality.  I guess on some level, buried deep within, I couldn’t deny that I was (and still am) incapable of having an adult relationship.  Hence, Lesson #1:

  • Women don’t date boys, and boys aren’t capable of dating women.

Despite a list of what others may consider to be my sexual conquests, I’ve never felt good about the ease at which I leaped from one bedroom to the next. It secretly sickened me.  What I never realized was that I wasn’t just hurting myself. I was actually hurting these women as well. Although I never intended to do harm, my collateral damage remains in the aftermath.  I hid from the ugliness of my behavior and the reality of my actions behind a pretense of self-righteousness, anchored in a pool of arrogance and vanity.  I was actually pompous enough to believe – to hold as concrete – that I was doing these women a favor by sleeping with them. Hence, Lesson #2:

  • What women deserve from men comes from North of the equator!

Heidi Lee, it’s been said that “the truth hurts”. To be quite honest with you I don’t know how much more truth I’ll be able to handle.  In this short time I’ve already seen enough to know that this journey will be a painful education into self-discovery…which leads me to the lesson that keeps me engaged in this process:

  • I owe this to myself, to my sons, and to all the women in my past, present and future.

In light of my confession, I’ll take this next step with you, Heidi Lee. I want to begin this process in earnest by apologizing to all those that I’ve hurt and by forgiving myself for leading a less than respectable life.

Respectfully,

BD – Jake

P.S. As instructed, I will be dining out this evening with just me, myself, and a good book – so that I can learn that my own skin can be a happy place to live.

 

Confidence Booster from Robin Roberts

“When I started I was 19 and scared. Today, I am 44 and….Fierce!”

Photo Credits: ABC John LeMay

Wow! What a statement. The sentiment that has taken me 25 blog posts to try to convey, Faith Hill summed up the story with a Finish this Sentence interview question posed by Robin Roberts.

This dynamic 44-year-old country singer and mega-star has evolved into a person who can feel comfortable in her own skin. To me, that is the most admirable trait about her. Yes, she has sold over a gazillion albums. Sure, she has managed an endearing character or two on the big screen. Definitely, she found her own devastatingly handsome PC. They seem to have a family life that we all would hope to emulate. But, WOW, she is comfortable in her own skin – greatest accomplishment to date.

Photo by Donna Svennevik, courtesy of ABC.

Last night, PC and I watched In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts where she interviewed several of Country Music’s biggest stars. For me, Faith was clearly the one to watch. I wouldn’t normally blog about celebrity gossip – I have no interest in Baby Bieber’s possible baby. But when someone stands up and says something so seemingly honest, I take notice. Faith’s statement took guts, but the words came so naturally to her. I want that feeling for myself, and I wish that type of confidence for each of you as well.

With that being said Ms. Roberts, may I borrow your interview question and ask my friends to complete this sentence? Your interview inspired me. I’d say this particular sentence is a strong Confidence Booster without needing any additional props.

Ladies and gentlemen, please complete this sentence:

When I started I was 19 and scared. Today I am (age) and _________! I’ll start.

When I started, I was 19 and scared. Today I am 41 and Formidable!

Photo courtesy of My Mom! MBA Graduation

Ok, everybody. Your turn! Let’s see what you’ve got.

Kind Regards,

Heidi Lee

Lovin the mufas, Lovin my life

Hello, my friends.

I must say that journaling my hurdles and successes is really helping me to appreciate little things around me that I may otherwise take for granted.

That being said, here is my accountability from yesterday.

4 meals? Well, no. But at least I got in 3 quality meals – each with a Mufa and 400 calories. And by the end of the evening, I realized I had 400 calories that I could spend – Wine! 400 calories = 4 (5 oz) glasses of red wine. So I could have had 2 more glasses to meet my calorie count.

Wait – I don’t think that is really in the principles of the Flat Belly. But it sure did make the evening with PC a bit cozier 😉

I’ve mentioned yesterday’s blueberry heaven of a breakfast, and I made a healthy Run for the Border over lunch. Dinner was filled with rich flavors balanced by the crispness in the wine. Sound wonderful? Ok, I’ll share my recipe.

It happens that I collect cookbooks although I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. I use them for inspiration rather than instruction. Last night I was thumbing through #RachelRay’s Book of 10 for new twists to put on the every day boneless skinless. I happened across a yummy little number on Page 14 for Mediterranean chicken with Saffron CousCous and decided this was a great place to start. The challenge was the the recipe was too heavy in Mufas – you have to watch your intake because they really do lump on the calories if used in excess. Her version used 2 Mufas; olive oil and kalamata olives. I had to cut back.

In pie plate – mix together 1/2 C flour with a pinch of salt and a whole lot of pepper. Top it off with a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper and you’re all set. Lightly dredge your 4 breasts and give them a little shake. The recipe calls for 2 tbsps of heated olive oil, but I cut it back to 1 tbsp to allow for extra olives. Brown the breasts on each side until golden and crispy, then turn the heat down and cook thru (about 10 minutes). Remove and set aside. (If your guy seems to be sneaking a couple peeks into the kitchen, dab a little flour on your cheek. He’ll appreciate you a little later)

Now comes the fun! And here is how I avoided adding sodium rich powdered chicken broth and water. Deglaze your pan with 1 cup of water and get all that good, rich gunk up off the bottom of the pan. Pour off and set aside.

(Start Couscous – I use a Hodgkin Mill brand for time saving – basil and garlic flavored. I added 1 cup of frozen peas to the water before I followed the package directions. helps cut down on doing dishes)

Add a tad more oil to the pan, and saute 1 chopped red onion and 5 cloves of minced garlic. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of dried thyme. Like Ms Ray, I also like to use fresh herbs – just didn’t have any.

Hopefully you notice a little bit of sticking to the pan, right? No worries – grab a bottle of white wine, and deglaze again using the wine (just over 1 cup). Wow – smell that? Add the broth back in, and toss in about 20 kalamata olives; halved. Throw in 1 cup of grape tomatoes and return the chicken to the gravy. Heat through (about 5 minutes for the perfect doneness in your tomatoes).

As I finished up dinner prep, I started to set the table. The sounds of Alex Trebec gave way to a light jazz – Huh? PC noticed all of the work I put into dinner, and he decided to set the mood for relaxation with the right background noise. I sometimes find it hard to believe that this type of man exists – and that I literally picked him out of an Online Dating JC Penneys Catalog. But here he is – over a year into our relationship and still bringing the romance and the thought. I truly am lucky.

As a family, PC, Cole and I sat around the table just a little longer than usual last night. Very nice. Then we all moved back into the dining room where the soft music was replaced by a Thursday night favorite – The #BigBangTheory. It seems both PC and Cole find me remarkably similar to Sheldon in my nerd-dom. Wow.

So how did I do yesterday in meeting my goals? I came close on the eating, and I completely missed the mark on the exercise. I did spend more quality time with my family and managed to turn work off for the evening. The good news is – PC decided to help me out with the vigorous activity a little later so I could even up my goals 😉

Cheers!

Heidi Lee

Ode to a Mufa and the Flat Belly in each of us

Here I am, coming to the confessional again and I’m not even Catholic. Is that allowed?

I’ve not kept to my commitments towards better health – Yet. And the good news is that I am starting to understand why I haven’t put this personal goal first on my list – I’m too busy for me.

We can start out by defining the Mufa and why I’ve chosen to incorporate it into my eating rituals. Then I’ll dive into owning up to my mistakes as well as my little victories – sound good?

“MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah) are monounsaturated fatty acids, plant-based fats found in some of the world’s most delicious foods–avocado, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate!” (Prevention Magazine) The Mufa is also a principle built into Prevention’s Flat Belly Diet – we will spend more time with these principles as the weeks progress, but the concept is to target the fat where it hurts us the most – The Belly. Not only does a flatter belly make us feel more confident in a tight pair of jeans, but it also helps in the battles against diabetes and other killers.

So here goes – my journal through the quest for good health

Last week in my Pot & Kettle declaration of guilt I made the commitment to:

  • Eat my 4 small meals per day – A Mufa in every meal
  • Do 2 miles of vigorous in-home walking
  • Have dinner with my family
  • Take care of me first

Let’s break this down a bit so I can celebrate any little success while also identifying Opportunities to be better.

I have successfully taken time out with my family – Prince Charming and my son, Cole. Last night we went out for Wings and Beer after Cole’s guitar lesson. Success! Dinner with the fam.

Oh crap – wings and beer? Nothing close to a Mufa in there – just a great big dish of high cholesterol and a little extra padding being added  around the middle. But it was fun, and we all had a moment to appreciate.

I’ve fit in my in-home walking twice this week, and PC (short for Prince Charming) and I took a brisk stroll through NYC. Hooray! Fitness and Activity!

Darn-It. Our brisk walk landed us right at an Italian wedding reception with the most delectable dishes I’ve experienced in ages – pastas, appetizers, filet mignon – and plenty of the liquid grape. But there is a light in there somewhere….<thinking…thinking> Yup – found it – my pasta salad had wonderfully salty kalamata olives. My Mufa, my friend. I had roughly two tablespoons of olives which is just the right amount for healthful eating. Unfortunately, I squeezed way too many calories around the Mufa so I probably diluted the benefits.

And goodness knows I did enough dancing to work off the second piece of cake I had to eat since PC seemed to opt for the Gin & Tonic instead of the sweet stuff.

So I’ve had a few successes, and I’ve seen where my social calendar has stepped in the way of my path to a healthy lifestyle. But let’s look for a moment at those other 168 hours or so since I made myself the promise – I still haven’t gotten myself on board and I’ve allowed:

  1. Work to occupy more than 11 hours per day – cramming pretzels in between conference calls to stop the hunger pains
  2. Professional deadlines to come before personal commitments
  3. Business-related stress to excuse adding in an extra glass of red wine in my evenings
  4. Colleagues and peers to consume my family time rather than cutting off my work day at 5:00 (well, ok, 7:00 until we get this proposal written).

As I look above, I’m proud of my little milestones, but I see I need to strengthen my back bone a little to master my own objectives. I need to crack down on my calendar and develop a little bit more will power. I can do this!

And as for my Mufa, I miss you, my friend. When you and I are together as nature intended, I have more energy. I feel better and I have a clear focus. When I invite you into my diet, my relationship with PC is better (he loves you as much as I do). When I allow you, my Mufa, to mingle with my first meal of the day – I sail through the rest of the hours with renewed commitment.

This morning’s first light is with you, and my chosed form is The Cashew. My breakfast – 1 whole grain organic waffle topped with 1 cup of warm blueberries and 2 tablespoons of chopped cashews. Delightful. Wash it down with a glass of Almond Milk for calcium, and I’m ready to conquer the world.

Thank you, #FlatBellyDiet, for introducing me to my new friend.

xoxo

Heidi Lee

Reference: http://www.prevention.com/flatbellymufaslideshow/

Failure? Or Opportunity for Improvement?

Hi All!

Thought I would pop on and again share with you the Egg on my Face – would you like that over-easy?
Yesterday I made a bold commitment to follow my diet rules and my exercise path – I only won 3/4 of my battle. Yesterday I spoke, tail between my legs, of how I needed to focus on my health in preparation for an upcoming surgery. I promised myself and each of you that I would stick to my Plan for Performance

  • Exercise following some of my favorite fitness DVDs – check. Got that done with a 3 mile Power Walk using a #LeslieSansone Power Walk video
  • East 4 well-balanced, 400 Calorie #FlatBellyDiet Meals daily – 3/4 of a check. Skipped breakfast again using a Conference Call as an excuse
  • Maintain appropriate Work/Life balance for sanity and for relationships. Giant MISS! Worked until all hours of the night, and waited until after 7:30 to sit down with my son for homework help. Allowed stress of the day to overtake personal goals, and now I wake up with a feeling of failure.

So I have to ask myself this morning: did I fail, or did I truly find another opportunity for self improvement? I will focus my energy on the latter and look at the good things I did for myself yesterday.

  1. I made a commitment to take care of myself
  2. I started working towards that commitment
  3. I am cultivating a promising project at the office
  4. I got to laugh with my son while trying to design a set of Inferences
  5. I enjoyed a glass of red wine while I watched my favorite show – #TheBigBangTheory

Wow – look at everything that I did. I’m pretty cool, actually – lots to celebrate!

That being said, lots of opportunities ahead to keep getting better. I intend to keep working at it. To quote a favorite philosopher, “Do, or do not. There is no Try.” (brownie points to anyone who can name that quote)

My friends, is anyone else willing to share their own opportunities? I could sure use the company and the encouragement. Let’s hear from you, fellow toad kissers!

xoxo

Heidi

Thank a Teacher Day – in honor of my friend

Good morning, Dear Friends. Please indulge me this morning as I specifically want to congratulate someone very near and dear to me.

Forrest, I’d like to tell everyone this morning how much I’ve learned from you in the Art of Toad Kissing – both personally and professionally. You, who taught me to make spreadsheets of characteristics to analyze the men I was dating. You who gave me seeds of knowledge that I was able to cultivate and use to become so much more than I had ever thought professionally. You were my teacher, and you are my friend.

Thank you for being the Peas to my Carrots, Forrest.

Congratulations on your new Role. It is both impressive and well-earned. May your brilliance outshine even your past successes.

And for all of my Dear readers and friends, remember to say Thank You today when someone shares their knowledge with you. It is priceless

xoxo

Jenny

Investments in Self-Improvement Rituals

Well happy Sunday AM to all of you – Are you ready for some football? I am, and I was all geared up to talk with you this morning about my picks for any of you Fantasy Football addicts. Instead I found myself side-tracked and craving a French Manicure. This morning’s cup of coffee was greeted with a blurb I heard on NPR about women spending between $700 & $800 on self improvement after being dumped. @NPR has a show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me where @PeterSagal and @CarlKassell share a lymrick for a caller to solve the news-relevant rhyme. We listen to this show religiously over Sunday morning coffee to help find humor in the otherwise troubling news headlines. This morning, the fine Mr. Kassell focused on the story from a British news channel, ‘The price of rejection: Women spend £500 on their image after being dumped” which truly perked me up more than my cup of Folgers finest blend.

Fortunately, I can thank Kiss 95.1 Radio out of Charlotte, NC for converting the £500 over to American currency so that I can focus my time on thoughts about this study instead of dealing with conversion charts.

Here we have a perfect topic relevant to Mastering the Art of Toad Kissing –what tools do I have that make me proud of myself? The study proclaims, “The average newly single female spends £500 ($782) reinventing her image after being dumped” and goes on to list the line items including new hair, new wardrobe essentials, perhaps even a gym membership as post-dumping improvement investments.

My question is, are these self-improvement rituals tools that we should only pull out after being dumped, while searching for a new job, or even going back to our 20 Year Class Reunion? While the tone of the article is positive and supportive, many of the following comments seem to revert back to playing on a woman’s insecurities. I read comments referring to the women as “bitter chicks” or “low quality”, and I can only imagine what additional comments we will see as more readers post feedback.

I also see ladies defending these expenses as if we owe anyone an explanation. So my thought for this morning – we don’t need to defend our right to feel good about ourselves! If we want to explore a different look, a new hobby or a healthy lifestyle improvement – More power to us! I love it.

I would like to share what I have done for myself lately – because I like who I am. I have not been dumped and I am not a bitter chick. I am in a healthy and happy relationship which I nurture by also focusing attention on appreciating the ever-developing me. Recently, I set a goal to drop some weight, and I’ve started to follow #TheFlatBellyDiet. I love the food, and I love the way I am redesigning my physique. I’ve also gotten more heavily involved with my workout routines, and I am pushing myself to #LeslieSansone’s 3-Mile Power Walking DVDs. And I look and feel  spectacular! This afternoon, I will treat myself to my monthly French Manicure, and I think I am ready to try a new cut when I see my hairdresser. And I am doing this in the spirit of celebrating me.

My point – let’s break out of the historical habit of defending our right for continuous self-improvement, and let’s remember that we all deserve to be pampered!

What have you done positive for yourself lately or what would you like to do?

Warm Regards,

Heidi

Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2042766/Women-spend-500-image-dumped-boyfriend.html#ixzz1ZdqX0HG0

http://www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/

http://kiss951.radio.com/2011/09/29/the-cost-of-getting-dumped/