Big Ben Reloaded

At the age of twenty, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at thirty, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at forty, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all- Anonymous

One of the questions that most Eves have to contend with at some point in life (sometimes several points) is, “So what are your plans for the future?” When this comes from an old aunt or older mates at work, you know it has nothing to do with your career path or anything else but earning the ‘MRS degree’. In many traditionalist settings, there is a certain age by which Eve should earn the ‘Mrs. Degree’ and a grace period is usually granted. It becomes extremely complicated when Eve is on her final lap of the said grace period and she is not about to sound any vuvuzela. These will be her trying times. Trying because, even when Eve is not keen on the answering the toll of the ‘Big Ben’, there are all these other voices, some familiar and  very unfamiliar ones that  she has to deal with.

One Eve captured my attention with her rather detailed break down of  the various stages of  Eve’s ‘Degree’ timeline.She has categorized women into four broad but loose groups (loose because not everyone fits into any of these). So yes, the disclaimer is necessary because truth be told, this can be very sensitive stuff for most Eves.

First, there is the 25-29 year old, who makes the big decision out of a genuine desire to get married. She is sober, she knows that it is what she wants to do, she has found the right mate and she plunges into it. However, there is a small group in this category which marries because she is with a certain guy and her age mates are getting married and she thinks it is ‘their’ time. Many will argue that this is the best time to make that decision because the eyes are still kind of shut to the issues that bedevil the maze that is the dating arena. At this time, one’s career is just taking root or gaining some direction and there is some sort of fulfillment from pulling through higher education and probably landing employment.  Therefore, it seems having someone to legitimately ‘flex’ a muscle with, night in night out does seems like a fitting idea – more like being given power to hold and to be held.

The next group is the 29-31 year old. This bevy of Eves is literally ‘scared into’ marriage because Eve is in her 3rd decade and it is feels like ‘now or never’. So, almost any man hanging around her who shows some interest at this time will do. Truth be told, for most Eves, hitting the 3rd decade with no Adam by her side wearing similar bands on their fingers begins to feel like a tragedy. People are popping out kids – cute kids, wedding bells rang (except they were not yours if you are still in the single+29-31 category) and then the circle of friends starts shrinking because priorities (their priorities) change and to be honest, you do not identify with those priorities – what do you know about changing diapers in the wee hours of the night or the chess moves that are characteristic of dealing with in-laws?

Then there is the troupe of 32-34 year olds otherwise known as the PRIDE of Eves. They have kissed enough frogs, they’ve seen it all and heard enough stories about marriage and are mostly disillusioned about the whole ‘affair’. This category often times wonders why get married in the first place. When she catapults her thoughts into the marriage arena, she is not sure that there is anything attractive about the traditional union; most likely, she has dated and the subject of nuptials arose either in passing or discussed in general terms meaning that somewhere inside her she has considered it. In other words, this is a tricky stage, because she is still open to the idea but she is also set in her ways hence the level of compromise needed for a meaningful relationship might be difficult to achieve – it will need a lot of bargaining.

Last but not least is the over 35 and beyond. She will tell you that, just like manna, the questions ceased from all concerned and unconcerned :). They are called ‘the independent women’. Her grace period expired and was ‘sentenced’ by some undefined tribunal to fate and luck. That is why when a 35-and-over Eve announces her big day, no one wants to know the tribe, religion or creed of her significant other, and no one dares object. Even her sickly grandma will travel to the city, to witness and quip, “she has done what she could not do at 26”. As we can all imagine, this woman could be happy to finally ‘settle’ down  but at the same time one has to wonder if she has all manner of mixed feelings because she is not sure if this bold move is a ‘life sentence’, or if it is a good bargain. However, given that she probably knows herself, she will be able to discern that.

So these ‘classifications’ reminded me of instances when my Eve friends (or myself ) have literally been ambushed with all manner of questions about tying the knot – and all manner of unsolicited advice comes your way like “you know time is running out, your eggs will freeze over”. You are given this frantic advice about how you need to just hook up with someone, or just get a baby etc. Often times, the feelings of the Eve in question are never put into consideration.

One may argue that there is never a ‘right age’ to get hitched – when the time comes, it comes (OK, or when you make the time come). Some marriage experts advise that in fact waiting till one is a bit advanced in age has its pros; one of them is that one will most likely have a good sense of who you are and what you want in life. This way, one is more likely to make the right choice (shrinking pool and all). One writer wrote that by 30, the woman has given up on marble and is now modeling her Adam with clay; after all clay is easier to model allowing for alterations as reality redefines fantasy and fantasy fades into oblivion – how true?!

This one is to all Eves out there, I think this is just a reminder that you are not on schedule – take your time. Some will ask, “Take time doing what???” Well, taking time to do things for yourself in the ‘meantime’ – loving yourself, going to the gym, taking to explore your hobbies, just being you, etc.I have heard some great rumors  that when you think it will not happen, that is when ‘the one ‘appears and you will most likely be glad you waited; it is during this time that you will realise that there was no need for ‘microwave relationships’.

To Adams, do not take these classifications seriously ;).

Have your say!

By Fridah

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My Love Is Not Your Love

Kindness in words creates confidence; kindness in thinking creates profoundness; kindness in giving creates love. Lao-Tzu

We have all heard the teaching and saying that if you do good deeds, then good things will surely follow you. This is the positive law of karma: do good deeds and you will reap in kind. This is a great premise on which to live everyday life and could certainly make the world a better place. A friend of mine jokes and says that the trouble with being good is that it comes and bites you in the ass sometimes! His cynical self was just pointing to the fact that sometimes in life, what you give is not always what you get. I think that certainly when it comes to matters relationship, the karma algebra points to giving ≠ getting.

The other day a friend and I were reminiscing about the yesteryears of childhood – the pre-teen years when life was so simple and the mind had little to worry about in the way of life. Then came the teen years when social consciousness was budding and we began to be sensitive of how other people perceived us. We reminisced how sweet the forms of expression of affection were then; if people were into each other and wanted to express affection, they would have to make an effort to do so especially if they were living in different locations. We especially reminisced about the letters written on decorated stationery with love hearts and quotes fencing the lyrical words jotted down. Gone are those days; now the world is filled with a variety of ideas and media for expression of affection, some being very short but seemingly saying a lot: I ♥ U.

Snapping back to the present……

Recently, I took this test which promised to help me determine my language of love. So I answered a series of questions, which varied in the way they were posed but essentially gauged what kind of things make me feel loved or appreciated, the things that stroke my ego of endearment. I took the test whilst listening to country music, yes!, country music and it provided a fine soundtrack. Country songs are not only about gamblers and cowboys; sometimes they strike a chord with your heartstrings ;). Now back to my test…..

eeeeh....these are not my results 😉

At the end of the test, I found out what genre of loving I fall into – apparently, my type is one that likes a little bit of this and that. To break it down, I ended up with three languages of love scoring close to each other – in fact, each a point a part. Now, for those who have read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you will know exactly what this test is all about.

Mr. Chapman talks about 5 love languages as: (1) Words of Affirmation; (2) Quality Time; (3) Gifts; (4) Acts of Service; (5) Physical Touch. Applied in many ways, all these lead to one fundamental thing in keeping any relationship alive – the expression of love. They also point to what should seem like the obvious: that expressions of love vary from person to person. I guess the reason for putting emphasis on this could be that sometimes, it is not that obvious to us when someone is expressing affection towards us and this can often-time bring discord.

It is said that the ways in which Eves and Adams love are not the same. Men and women are biologically different – not only when it comes to the body structure and appendages ;), but also when it comes to the wiring. This ultimately affects how Eves and Adams behave and communicate in relationships and even specifically, how they communicate their affection for each other. It is also said that Eves are more akin to expressing love verbally and also with actions whilst Adams are more likely to express their affection through actions. So sometimes, the discord comes from the expectation that by saying those three short words ;), giving gifts or writing a poem about how you feel, the same will be reciprocated.

Let’s take an example of an Eve who yearns to get a show of affection from her man. She tries to boost her chances of being shown love by doing certain things so that Adam will in turn reciprocate. Her culinary skills go beyond boiling – she whips up some exotic meals, buys him gifts, tells him that she loves him first, etc. After a while splurging this affection, she feels that he is not reciprocating as she imagined by saying those three ‘magical’ words or buying her gifts. Now, there may be a lot of negative reasons to speculate about this but it is also possible that her man may be showing his affection to her in ways she has not opened her eyes to – they each happen to speak different languages of affection. For example, this Adam may be spending a lot of time with her, maybe he has introduced her to his friends (and not as Wangeci from 3rd floor ;)), may be runs small errands here and there for her, etc. So he may not exactly be using the 3 short words, but the message is the same and he is expressing his affection in different ways. (I have to say that sometimes, comprehending this makes my head hurt a little ;)).

What might help to improve this channel of communication is to share with your partner the things that make you feel appreciated and loved; for example, when your partner does something that makes your heart beat faster and enlarge to the size of a melon, let them know that they have done something that pleases you.

By and large, the audience that Mr. Chapman is addressing is one of couples that know they love each other and want to be coherent in their speech of love. Therefore, it is not IF they love each other but HOW they express that love and affection for each other. If you’re considering the IF element, then you will be well placed to read Vital Signs ;). It is also important to understand that there are situations where people give and give in relationships but actually receive very little or nothing back. Now, that is a relationship of emotional drainage and would need a lot of reconsideration.

We get into relationships with expectations, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the expectations are reasonable (reasonable is relative so what is reasonable and what is not can be debatable). However, it is not uncommon to find that when it comes to this form of communication, one party may as well be an elephant trumpeting to a dove that only answers to a caressing coo; if that would be a mating call, I can assure you no action would be taking place ;). This is all about our love language – the way we communicate it and the way we want to be shown love and affection. For those who may be searching for an answer about this, the 5 love languages could be a starting point and it might help you be better prepared to receive when your significant other ‘speaks’ their love language(s).

Have an affectionate week!

By Joyce

The Moment

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” – Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens

Her name is Susan Boyle; she was one of the contestants in the Britain’s ‘Britain Got Talent’show in 2009. Before this, she was a little known forty seven year old, who lived with her cat and had never been kissed. When I think of the ‘not being kissed’ part, all that comes to my mind is that life is harsh. Susan became known globally when she took the stage and owned it with the rendition of the song “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables. If you know Susan’s story, you know that she came second at the end of the competition.

I have watched this clip many times on YouTube and I will most likely watch it many more times. At the start of the of it, Susan is chit chatting with the show organizers back stage; two short men with a typical ‘stuffy’ British accent; I say this with a smile because I like the British accent even though I do not get half of what they say. It was obvious that these two men were belittling Susan, giving her the look that said ‘you 47 year old woman, do you think you belong on this stage?”  It is obvious that Susan knew that, that night was special although looking at her, it was not evident that she was about to shatter the ceiling. Her hair could be described as bushy at best and her dress would pass for attire at a decent mother’s union meeting. In her own words, she came from a small town; she called it “a collection of villages”.

So Susan gets on stage and Simon Cowell, formerly of ‘American Idol’, in his typical demeanor was looking at her wondering how she got on ‘his’ stage. She introduced herself simply as Susan Boyle. Simon even asked her age right there on stage. He then asked her, “what is the dream?” Susan said that she was trying to be a professional singer. Simon and the other judges raised their eyebrows, some of the audience sneered and snorted, obviously wondering if she was out of her mind to build such a castle in the air. Simon wanted to know why that dream had not materialized until then.

Susan said, “I have never been given a chance before, here’s hoping it will change.”

Susan wanted to be as successful as Elaine Page .The audience was laughing because first, Susan did not have that look of a diva, and then here she was, mentioning a musician who some did not even know existed. I guess this is the Lady Gaga generation.

Finally, it was time to cut the talk and do the singing. Susan gave the controls a sign that she was ready to begin and there she was, beginning her career, she took her minutes of fame seriously; these minutes were the defining moment when her life turned around – literally.

As I listened to the beginning of the song “I dreamed a dream’ rend the air, I was thinking to myself “this is all Susan needs, just this line”. She caught everyone’s attention, jaws dropped, the crowd was up on their feet cheering and everyone knew that she had nailed it. Susan undeterred, unmoved by the applause, belted out the lyrics, sang effortlessly, with amazing vocals, better than any ten vocalists that you know out there. On to the chorus, one of the lady judges was besides herself with appreciation, stood up in applause; of course there is no way Simon was going to stand up  but from his face, I could tell he was completely taken. Susan was thrust into fame, continued to wow the crowds; later on she garnered interviews in the big and famous media stations including in the US, came second in the 2009 finale and won recording deals worth millions. As I write this, Susan had just released a new single and continues to soar. Life is beautiful!

This got me thinking about life and how we all at some point look and long for ‘the moment’. It can be a moment for anything that you want so badly, for your career to launch, for a business to get a much needed impetus; any dream that you might have to be realized. It is more like the way the eagle looks for the eye of the storm to ride out.

This of course this got me thinking about relationships and I thought that these dreams apply also to our relationships zones; I thought about how sometimes, for those who have not settled down yet, we get into the wrong ones; I thought about how sometimes being in this dating scene is or can be a bummer. I thought about Eves and Adams who, just like Susan, know that they have something special to give out there but can’t seem to ‘secure’ a date leave alone a relationship; and they are all beautiful people inside out, and are still waiting for ‘that moment’. That moment for them is the day when they will meet their proverbial ‘knight in shining armor’, or their ‘queen ’. Those moments when Eves and Adams look at themselves  and wonder  “how can they not see all this that I see in myself, what do I need to do to bring it out, that I am everything they need and more and with this love to give?”

It is the paradox of life, the quagmire that many people often find themselves in. They, like Susan, are walking around knowing that there is something that they possess on the inside of them – although they are yet to find someone worthy to share it with or someone to notice it. Now if I were a preacher delivering a sermon, I would have called it “your Boyle moment” and by now I would have grabbed the mic, adjusted my attire and gone for the punch line, yelling my lungs out, moving from one corner of the stage to the other saying “your moment is here! Your moment is now!” By now the crowd, just like they applauded Susan, would be on their feet already, yelling “my moment is now!” They would give their neighbor a high five – even if some of them would not know what moment they were talking about.

Well, since I am no preacher, I will just say this almost in a whisper but with a smile, whatever moment it is you are looking for and you know deep inside that you will not stop the quest, and are willing to do what it takes to come to make it pass – soberly – then ladies and gentlemen, your ‘Boyle’ moment is coming!

Have a great week!

By Fridah

Of Relationships and Friends

Life’s journey is partly what we make it and partly what is made by outside world which includes the friends that we have. We all have an assortment of friends; each and every one of them is different and the friendship ties vary.

This brings us to a significant issue about how the friends that we keep can have a negative or positive impact on our love-lives. Relationship matters are personal and we usually choose to share our relationship episodes with our closest friends. This is specific to Eves and it would not be unusual to be sitting next to a group of friends in a coffeehouse or bar, with Eves narrating what Adam did or failed to do, what he said and/or the way he said it, followed by utterances of‘can you imagine?!’ and with the rest of the bevy making loud exclamations in disbelief. This will inevitably be followed by a lot of bashing and if Adam was to be pricked by a pin every time he was cursed in the conversation, he would be one sore person in a period of half an hour! ;). Of course these sittings are not all about bad news and drama in the relationships; sometimes Eves are sharing good news – may be Adam took her out for dinner or pleasantly surprised her on her birthday. It’s not all bad you know ;).

It is human to share with friends not only to get some advice, but also just to get it off our chests and sometimes we want our friends to affirm our feelings or decisions. Sometimes we just want someone to listen and not necessarily to give us an opinion or advice (yeah, Eves are like that ;)).

This has got me thinking about the kind of friends we should be or we would like to have especially when these dilemmas rear their heads.

Something I have learnt along the path of life is that relationships are very subjective. What may seem black and white to you as a friend may not be all so clear to the Eve or Adam in the relationship. I find this useful and an important factor to remember because when a friend comes to you for relationship advice, remember that it is not always about you and how you see it. Have you had the kind of friend with whom you share the state of things in your relationship and before you know it, they have already identified a similar experience in their own relationship and then 20 minutes later, they are still going on and on about themselves? Needless to say, that is a bummer and it is likely that you might not be knocking on that friend’s door for advice unless there is no one else you can reach. Our experiences in relationships are not unique and there is nothing wrong with identifying with each other’s experiences but making it all about you is a no no.

Many of us benefit from having friends who we can they can just talk to, someone who will listen to us or even give us a hug.  However, it is not rare to find that, after sharing the dilemma you have in your relationship, some friends decide to take it upon themselves to take up a virtual sledge hammer and swing it at the Adam – they call him names, curse at him and make him seem like he would end up at the ICC of relationships if there ever was one. They forget that no one is looking for a judge and deliver an unsolicited verdict. This is especially when a relationship has been brought to an end. I think that some friends do that under the misplaced notion that they are on Eve’s side – that by smearing Adam with a virtual mixture of water and soil, they are playing their role of being in solidarity with Eve. Their intentions are good (usually) but a little fact may be forgotten here – this Eve happens to have liked or even loved this Adam and it is very likely that they still have emotional ties with the Adam in question.

Something else I have learnt in life is that if you are an Eve, sometimes it helps to seek the opinion of the opposite sex about relationships. Some people may think this unsuitable, but it always helps to see the perspectives of men in such situations especially if you are ‘consulting’ someone that you trust – you know that saying about Venus and Mars ;).

Getting advice from friends about relationships is not necessarily a bad thing; it is important to understand that different people have different perspectives and although you may consult widely, the choices and decisions are ultimately for one person to make.

I think it might help to take it as a rule of thumb that if Eve is not trashing the Adam in question, her friends have no business doing so. Something else to refrain from is bombardment with questions on what Eve has decided as the way forward. If she wants to share the progress, she will look for you [this also applies if she wants to take up the virtual sledge hammer ;)]. If you must ask, be sensitive to the fact that maybe all she needed was someone to listen and is probably mulling over it all. She may need time.

Good Listener

If you are the person from whom advice is being sought, it is important to be a good listener. Not all the facts of the situation may be shared with you, but by being a good listener, you will be in a better position to empathize and know what to say and what not to say. It might also help to put yourself in your friend’s shoes – without owning the problem or transforming it into your story. In many instances, there will be no clear cut answers but trying to see things from your friend’s perspective will help you ‘strategize’ with her about possible ways out of the dilemma without looking like you are telling her what to do.

What other pieces of advice do you have about relationships and friends?

Have your say!

By Joyce

Restoring Sanity 2012

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; he who makes one is a fool.” – F.M. Knowles

Hey Eves and Adams! Hope you had exciting, relaxing and happy holidays. Even more importantly, here’s hoping that nobody will come round and yell “Trapped!” for 2011 is gone 😉 – we are in a new year which brings at the least the promise of new beginnings and a new dawn. The New Year is often marked with festivities and a frenzy of resolutions. Forget the above quote, Knowles probably knew that it was hard to fulfill all resolutions and hence coined the quote. It is OK to make resolutions, and while these resolutions may be about surviving on spinach and carrot juice (popularly known as a detox plan :), joining yoga, aerobics or anger management classes (all splendid aims), here at Project 44, we are thinking of some ideas (call them resolutions if you like) which could help bring sanity in the relationships/dating arena.

We know that not everyone is in ‘the maze’; some people are already in a relationship, so this could be a good time for sharing visions, plans and setting common goals for your relationship. The chances are that if the aims are shared, both of you will be working towards achieving and you are likely to try and see them through – call it shared pursuit.

A certain Eve made a resolution to ‘act her worth’. An Adam elsewhere made a resolution not to be used by women anymore. See, most resolutions are informed by prior experience. Often times, we go through some not very exciting experiences which make us feel like we will never get out of the dating maze. However, the positive thing about experiences is that we are meant to learn from them. So let us dust ourselves off, be happy that if the year past was not very good, at least it has gone away and has let us move on to new things. Here are a few of the ideas:

– You will ‘detox’ all the negative stuff that you have heard or gone through in relationships so that you can start to believe that it is possible to pursue happy fulfilling relationship based on healthy values. Failure to do so could mean that you might never step into a good relationship because your attitude and thinking will betray you. This should probably have happened late last year but it is never too late ;).

– You will leave unavailable men/women alone especially if you are looking for a long term relationship. The assumption here is that you know who you are and what you want, which then means that you will definitely know if the person is available and if your expectations are being met or likely to be met.

– You will pursue your happiness, joy and fulfillment – old as this advice may sound, unless you are dating the god or goddess of happiness, if you are unhappy as a single person, being paired will not be the instant remedy; the void will still be evident even when you get into a relationship. This can be enhanced by reading on relationships, listening to motivation speakers or getting involved in whatever will arm you not only with the right attitude, but also put you in the right frame of mind to interact and forge a wholesome relationship.

– You will consciously seek to be a better partner. This could mean that you have to put aside selfish ways, be a better listener, supportive, nurturing, etc. This might help in that your significant other will not feel as though s/he has been held hostage by someone with a list of demands to be met yet cannot meet half of those for him or her. Remember, the first step to getting a good partner is to be one yourself.

–  As much as you want to be in a relationship – since you might have a resolution that says ‘married by August 2012’ -, you will not ‘force’ a relationship to work; more diplomatically put, you will recognize a relationship that is on its death bed and take action. The number of people who will not accept it when a relationship is ‘dead’ is amazing but this is a story for another day.

– You will not sit by the phone waiting for a phone call or leave your diary open just in case your significant other decides to ask you out. Look for things that you are excited about and pursue your dreams and hobbies; make your own plans – if you both did not make earlier plans for the weekend or a significant day of the year, chances are one of you was not planning on hanging out with the other. Yeah!, we know Valentine’s Day is around the corner and this one might be hard to follow but try 😉 !

– Finally, you will tone down on expectations, yeah, we said it! There is a lot of mediocrity in this world; accepting that all your expectations will not be met while taking measures not to sink into mediocrity will save you a lot of airtime, emails and Facebook messages complaining about serious issues such as why your date did not keep time, did not call, did not keep this or that promise etc. It is not the best case scenario but you can’t have it all :).

Now add some more ideas which could make the year more exciting and fulfilling and possibly deliver what you are looking for in your current relationship or in the future one – if cupid takes an aim with his arrow, don’t be caught unawares ;). Given that some of these resolutions will be made just after the stroke of midnight with such conviction that it seems like a do or die situation, we must not be discouraged at the first sign of obstruction. Keep going for nothing comes easy!

Happy New Year! Wishing you fulfilling relationships and dating in 2012!

By Project 44