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Avoiding narcissists

The good news for me is that I “only” had to experience someone with a classic narcissistic personality disorder once, did the research, talked to mental health professionals, learned my lessons, moved on, and readily recognize narcissism now. My tolerance for any kind of remotely narcissistic behavior is extremely low. This article that I saw today and the study it cites are just the tip of the iceburg.

http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/in-dating-game-narcissists-get-the-girl-1

By accident, when I was researching something for work earlier this week, I discovered that there are all sorts of blogs to help people learn about narcissism, including this one. When I read the description of a narcissist and his behavior, my jaw dropped. It was like the author had been watching the narcissist I used to know.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/08/04/how-to-spot-a-narcissist/

Other blogs and websites help people, mostly women, recover from dating or being married to a narcissist. It is a bigger problem than I realized and many suffered worse than I did, which at the time, was unimaginable to me.

http://blog.thenarcissistinyourlife.com/
http://www.lisaescott.com/blog

http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/thriving-after-narcissistic-abuse-story-4-rozanne/

Another friend was involved with an online infidelity forum for men and women who suffered at the hands of cheaters. Cheaters are often classic narcissists. I never engaged in those online discussions because I was so done with talking about it, but I know how helpful it was for her.

Here’s a blog and website I discovered a few years ago, after the same friend above shared the author’s book with me. The blog/website and book, deal with a certain kind of narcissistic man you want to avoid (Mr. Unavailable) and the low self-esteem women who fall for them (The Fallback Girl). For one thing, it helped me understand the kind of pitiful woman who would cheat with a married man. Just reading the topics in the Table of Contents was therapeutic for me and I’ve forwarded the book and blog to countless friends who I thought could benefit from repeating mistakes.

http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/

Several years ago I met one of the previous victims of the narcissist I married. The mutual friend who introduced us couldn’t figure out how two beautiful, intelligent, well-educated women fell for this horrible little man (her words). We said, in unison “you don’t understand” and then proceeded to explain how charming he seemed at the beginning. Both of us had grown up in stable, two parent families, and expected the best in people. We didn’t know how much dysfunction and evil lurked behind the facade. It was long ago now, for both of us, and had we had blogs to refer to, it would have made the explanations easier. She once proposed that we write a book together to help other women NOT to follow in our footsteps, but I just wanted to move on. I’m glad to see that bloggers have done for women, what she wanted to do.

It can take years to recover from the abuse suffered at the hands of a naricissist. Therapy can shorten that. Talking to someone who was victimized by the same man helped me tremendously. Our first meeting lasted five hours and we’ve remained friends now for many years.

The biggest silver lining of my narcissist encounter and recovery was that I was able to help others along on their own journeys, just as many had helped me. It is great to see communities of people on-line who are out there to help other women understand what happened, and then successfully move on and avoid these monsters in the future.

Thoughts About Singlehood on Valentine’s Day

According to my single friends, you know you’re enjoying singlehood when:

You take vacations by yourself and love the freedom to do whatever you want, which doesn’t include playing golf, watching baseball, taking boring walks, shopping with someone hovering in the background, and avoiding anything involving water or the beach. Instead, you intentionally go on bike rides, hikes, zip line adventures, bungee jumping, kayaking, white water rafting, snorkeling, and swim with all manner of sea creatures.

You don’t have to worry about packing extra clothing on trips to impress anyone. Go with the carryon luggage, and avoid waiting because someone else needs to check luggage full of Armani and the “right” shoes for every occasion.

You don’t worry obsessively about shaving your legs. The morning of your appointment with your OB/GYN, it suddenly occurs to you that it may have been weeks since you shaved.

You stay up until 3 a.m. and get up at 11 a.m. and no one is nagging you do do anything for them – and no one woke you up.

You can wear whatever you damn well please around the house.

The grocery store is overloaded with flowers the weekend before V Day so you buy some for yourself and think how wonderful it is to know exactly who bought them for you and that they expect nothing in return.

You’re happy not to get a humongous, anonymous box of expensive Godiva chocolates delivered – who needs the calories. And besides…nothing beats plain old dark chocolate. Or a box of See’s Nuts N Chews.

You realize you are overdue for your annual visit to the OB/GYN, call to make an appointment, and instead of having to wait weeks or months for an appointment, you get one the next week…on Valentine’s Day. And you don’t think it is weird. Your BFF comments that at least a man will be looking at your vagina, unlike hers, on Valentine’s Day, and rather than be offended, you find it hilarious.

You don’t have to worry about getting exactly the right card for some (in)significant other who will read all sorts of stuff between the lines. You get a really mushy one for your parents and know they’ll totally understand the sentiment and maybe even shed a tear. And you get goofy ones for your kids so they are reminded that you love them – but not in a gross or sappy way.

If you need a cuddle – there’s always the dog or cat.

The best card you’ll get will be one that is handmade by your mother.

The best present you’ll get all day will be a phone call from one of the kids.

You can cook your favorite meal and enjoy a glass of your favorite wine, in peace.

You have a casual meal at the mall with a friend and you both laugh as you watch dozens of men scurrying out with Victoria’s Secret bags, the night before V Day. Who are those presents for, really?

You pick out your own jewelry and it reflects YOU (bold, colorful, unique, sparkly), not HIM (puny, traditional, overpriced).

Someone at work gives you and everyone else Valentine’s goodies, just because.

Facebook friends are full of love for everyone, and it feels nice.

You tell your husband that you’d like to move forward with the rest of your life solo, and you feel tremendous relief.

You almost feel sorry for the woman who cheated with your cheating ex because you know it is only a matter of time before she figures out what you’ve now known for a long time. Almost. And you know how icky and forced it was with him on Valentine’s Day.

You’re sincerely happy for family and friends in good relationships but aren’t sad because you’re not in one too.

You don’t have to worry about buying a gift for a guy (or gal) for the “holiday.”

You know you won’t be disappointed with some dumb gift you don’t like.

No long lines at the grocery store on Valentine’s Day!

Extremely Touching and Incredibly Small World

My first trip to New York City came relatively late in life. It was the mid 90s and I was in my 30s. Living in and around Los Angeles, I always made at least one trip to San Francisco and other parts of Northern California every year, of course. But, New York…well…it was waaaay over there. Expensive trip.

I finally made it to New York City in December, 1994. It was a trip I didn’t plan, sort of a treat, and I was asked what I wanted to do. Since my paternal grandfather had come through Ellis Island, I wanted to go there, and to the Statue of Liberty which had been re-opened after she’d been strengthened and refurbished from the inside out. I’m sure I did other things on that first trip, but none were as memorable as the things I chose.

For the next several years, I was in New York City once a year. I learned to love Broadway, shopping, but mostly saw Manhattan. In 2000, I moved to Ohio which meant the trips that I’d made at least once a year to Northern California were less frequent, but the jaunts to New York City became more frequent. I went twice a year. I even had a timeshare there for awhile.

After I gave up the timeshare, and my eldest daughter moved to NYC, my visits became more frequent. I’d go and sleep in a sleeping bag, on yoga mats on the floor in her apartment. Or, I’d meet my brother, sister-in-law and nephew there and we’d stay in an older boutique hotel on the Upper West Side in a more residential neighborhood. I even drove there twice to deliver furniture in my SUV. Once, was after a huge snow storm that left cars buried up to their rooftops, vehicles double parked, and nowhere to park my own car, I found a spot in a $30 a day parking garage near my daughter’s Upper East Side apartment.

Since I started planning my own trips, I’ve explored the different boroughs, botanical gardens, and museums and have taken subways, buses, taxis, boats, ferries, and once, a Zip Car. In short, I love New York and never seem to run out of doing something new and different, while embracing some of the familiar.

Today I went to see the movie “Extremely Loud and Incrediby Close,” a movie about a boy who is coping with the loss of his father after 9-11. Having visited NYC and Ground Zero a couple of months after the attack, on Thanksgiving Day, and once again on the tenth anniversary this past September, I knew I’d be moved. It turns out, I had no idea just how moved I would be.

First, let me say that I loved the movie and recommend it. I hope my brother and sister-in-law take my nephew and only wish I could go with them when they do. It is a movie that celebrates all that is good and wonderful about New York City. The people, places, and energy. It is beautifully shot. I was in the city when they were filming parts of it, but then, they are always filming something there. One foggy scene looked oh so familiar.

Yes, I got choked up during and after the movie. I got teary and sniffly. The only reason I wasn’t openly sobbing is that I was in a public theater. If I’d been at home alone…forget it…I would have been openly crying. Not that crying is a bad thing; I’m glad I saw it on the big screen. It was a moving story, the acting was top notch, there were surprises, I saw very familiar looking places, and heard great New York references (let’s see if Neal and Carla catch the Fairway reference). It felt familiar and showed me once again that it really is a small, small world. The kid in the film reminded me of my nephew in so many ways.  Once he and his parents see it, I’m sure they’ll understand why. Maps, bridges, swings, subways, and boats, Ross.  That’s all I’m going to say.  

One of the many surprises was near the end when I saw one of my favorite actors in a pivotal role. I won’t spoil it for you…suffice to say I saw him in a fantastic role last year at Lincoln Center and he showed a completely different side of his talents in the movie.

So, go. If you love New York City, family, great acting, a heart warming story that was extremely touching, go see this movie and bring a hankie.

Retail Fail

I’ve been buying the running shoes I wear for walking at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Montrose for several years now. In years past, the salesmen were older and knew the stock. Several years ago, one of the salesmen was a running coach who not only knew shoes, he knew my oldest daughter. He helped me figure out which brands work best for my feet and which style of shoe I should get. I have small, wide feet with high insteps, so I’ve learned that there are two brands of shoes that have good cushion, are lightweight, they come in wide sizes, with good arch support, that fit my feet comfortably. They are New Balance and Asics.

What happens a couple times a year is I march in, tell the salesman (and yes they are always male and seem to be getting younger all the time) what I need and they tell me what they have. I used to spend time looking at shoes on the wall but inevitably, they didn’t have my size in whatever I picked out. I learned to just ask them to bring me whatever they had in my size.

Pretty easy. I’m not all that picky about color and even bought the same color two times in a row. Give me a few to try, I pick, I leave. The whole thing is over in a matter of minutes if they aren’t busy. Just get me shoes that fit and support my feet; particularly important since I also how have orthotics to prevent plantar fasciitis pain.

Today I went to Dick’s. The shoe department was busier than I’d ever seen it. Lots of kids and parents standing around waiting for unseen employees to bring them shoes. There were boxes of abandoned shoes all over the place. I had to move some from a chair in order to sit down.

There were two very young men working who eventually emerged from the stockroom. The one who finally helped me was clearly overwhelmed and a little clueless about the stock. I told him what I needed, he went in the stockroom, and came back empty handed. I’d removed my shoe in anticipation of trying shoes on, to no avail. He then proceeded to lead me around, with one shoe off, around the shelves in the department trying to find shoes in my size. He found some men’s Nike court shoes that he said I could get to fit me. What?  I needed lightweight running shoes with cushion, not shoes for running around on a wooden floor that weigh twice as much. And not Nike (they don’t fit my feet correctly) and not men’s shoes.

He then said they were waiting for a shipment to come in and said I should come back on Black Friday. I told him that I refused to shop on Black Friday (I hate shopping so why would I come when there are crowds?) and walked out.

A few points:

  • Dick’s just lost a customer. I spent more time NOT getting a pair of shoes today than I normally spend GETTING a pair of shoes. I make quick decisions so they usually make a good chunk of money on me in a short time. Not anymore.
  • Dick’s needs to have more experienced, more mature shoes salesmen working. And more of them. When I left the store there were cashiers who weren’t busy who could have been helping elsewhere.
  • Since I know what shoes fit me, I’m going to try ordering from Zappos. I know they have great customer service from people who really know shoes.

Otherwise…a fabulous weekend. I recovered from a sore throat, got food in preparation for Thanksgiving, played with my new Kindle Fire all weekend, and enjoyed cooking in my kitchen under the new lights. Too bad I don’t have new shoes to wear on my walk in the morning.

Driving While Drunk With Power

That’s what it is. When you talk on your cell phone, while you are driving, you are drunk with the illusion that you are all powerful. You are  untouchable. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, you think that YOU can drive while talking or texting on the phone. Your ability to pay 100% attention to that weapon, hurtling down the road at a high rate of speed is not affected. Or so you think.

You. Are. WRONG. And you could be DEAD wrong. If you want to kill yourself and deprive your children of a parent, well, that sucks, but it is your business. If you kill me or someone I love, then I’ll be really, really pissed.

Yesterday, I got off 77 south at Ghent Road and waited at the light. I have made it a habit to count how many of the drivers are holding cell phones, driving at 40 miles per hour or so, and talking while making a left turn to enter the freeway. It varies but on average I’d say about 20% are on their phones. I don’t know what is so improtant that they couldn’t have made the call in the parking lot before leaving work, or wait until they get home. Or at least get a hands-free phone. This counting is boring me now so I think I’ll count how many of them use turn signals because you know that most of them can’t unless they are DRIVING hands free.

Anyway. I was sitting there and watched a dad in a luxury car, holding his cell phone and talking in a very animated and distracted fashion. In the seat next to him sat his teenaged son who undoubtedly was making mental notes about the following.

(A) It is o.k. for drivers to talk on their phones while driving (which we know is even more fatal for young, inexperienced drivers) and (B) My dad cares more about talking on a damned phone than insuring my safety, his safety, or in having a conversation with me.

Big mistake daddy-o, on both counts. First, teenaged boys are worse drivers than teenaged girls. I can tell you based on personal experience raising two teenaged girls, that their driving skills are not all that great until they are somewhere in their twenties. Second, some of the best conversations I’ve had with my daughters over the years have been in a car. They are your prisoners so even if they don’t want to talk to you, they can’t get out so they have to listen while you talk and you have to listen while they talk.

This morning, I was on 77 north, behind a black Honda with a Penn State sticker in the back window. I’m pretty sure the guy had a CSU parking tag hanging from his mirror. We were in bumper-to-bumper traffic so we needed to drive defensively and watch out for the other crazy distracted drivers who are on their phones and therefore not paying attention or signaling before making lane changes. But, he wasn’t. He was on his phone. Not only that, he was leaning to his right at about a 35-40 degree angle, resting his elbow on the center console. How great can his eyesight and peripheral vision be when he’s tilted like that? How quickly would he have been able to react with his arm in that position?

When he finally got off the phone, I could see just how fidgety he was. He wasn’t focused even when he was off the phone. Oy. Did I mention that there were two freshly killed deer on 77 north this morning? Oh yeah…tis the season for deer to lose their minds and run across the freeway. Two years ago, one of them attempted to jump over my SUV, while I was driving and ended up hitting my car. I was fine, but the cars behind me…no so much. I can’t even imagine a one of those phone talking drivers, like the guy in the Honda this morning, dealing with a deer strike.

Crazy phone talker drivers…cut it out! Presumably you wouldn’t drive while intoxicated, so why do you drive while talking on your cell phone? Statistically, the results are the same.

You cannot text an interview

This morning on my way to work I heard some updated statistics on how much we all have increasingly switched our communication from in person and phone to texting. In younger generations, this is more pronounced. It caught my ear because I was preparing to do some sessions on communication styles for some campus staff and students.

Later, while talking to one of my training colleagues who now lives in Washington D.C., she mentioned how well her twenty-something son had done on job interviews. He attributed his success to training by his mother. I think my daughters do well in interviews for much the same reason…those communication skills were ingrained in them. Yes, we text, but whenever possible, I prefer to pick up the phone and talk, or to have conversations with them, in person.

Which lead me to making the statement which I think I’ll copyright…..”You cannot text an interview.” Think about it. If you are young and are communicating with people via text, you aren’t learning good written communication skills (good for writing cover letters and resumes, forexample). You aren’t developing good phone conversation skills using proper tone (good for customer service, sales, and phone interviews). And you certainly aren’t developing a sense for what effective body language, facial expressions, and gestures all mean.

I probably came out of the womb talking.  I talk, and listen, all the time. I’m at an advantage over people who aren’t similarly conversant…you know…in CONVERSATIONS. I also find things like neurolinguistic programming, studying and even emulating tone, gestures, and body language gives me rich information about people I associate with.

People watching is endlessly fascinating. How can you watch people if your nose is always buried in some electronic device? It is said that in face-to-face conversations, only 7% of what we say conveys the message we are sending. Tone accounts for 38% and body language for the majority, 55%.

On the phone, all of that rich physical information is lost and you rely more heavily on tone. In email, you only have the words, fonts, grammar, and punctuation. In texting, you have even less because it is informal and abbreviated. Which may be fine when conversing with people who know you well. And also good for getting painfully shy people conversing at all. But it won’t prepare you to deal with real people, in real time, in face-to-face situations…like interviews.

Next time you have a choice of texting / emailing, or phoning, or just getting up and talking to someone face-to-face, just remember: having a real conversation is a rich experience and it will better prepare you for interviews.

You cannot text an interview.

No love lost between Bruins and Buckeyes

When I started holding get-togethers for UCLA Bruins in Ohio, we found that we had a few things in common that we hadn’t expected.

  • While we enjoyed living in California, and particularly in and around UCLA, we didn’t want to go back. We love living in Ohio. We’re proud to wear our blue and gold, fly our Bruin flags, and adorn our cars with custom license plates and UCLA frames around Ohio plates.
  • We could talk for hours about our favorite Los Angeles area food hangouts, particularly those that served great Mexican food (Tito’s Tacos, El Tepeyac, Avila’s El Ranchito, King Taco, El Tecalote, La Luz del Dia, or whatever taqueira was on the nearest street corner) or juicy burgers (In N Out, Fatburger, and Tommy’s). We’ve found suitable burgers in Ohio, thanks mostly to Michael Symon, and terrifc sandwiches at Melt. But finding authentic Mexican food in Ohio is a common, very challenging, quest. I recommended Momocho and signing up for the Taco Tuesday notices on Facebook.
  • Enough already with Ohio State and the Buckeyes. We were sick to death of hearing about that place in Columbus with the uninspiring colors and mascot. And the Script Ohio with the tuba dotting the I? Are you kidding me? Did you know that all UCLA students have the opportunity to sit in the card section and help perform the UCLA signature stunt during halftime at a Bruin football game? And we love listening to the the Solid Gold sound of our UCLA Marching Band (I have a CD) and watching them complete  their own script UCLA on the field while wearing the coolest collegiate colors ever.

So, today a friend who is an Ohio native but didn’t attend that school in Columbus, sent me this joke. I’m sure you’ll all be amused, regardless of which school you attended.

PROUD PAPA

The year is 2016 and the United States has just elected the first
woman president who happens to be from Ohio. A few days after the
election the president-elect, whose name is Debra, calls her father and
says, "So, Dad, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?"

"I don't think so. It's a 10 hour drive."

"Don't worry about it Dad, I'll send Air Force One. And a limousine
will pick you up at your door."

"I don't know. Everybody will be so fancy. What would your mother wear?"

"Oh Dad," replies Debra, 'I'll make sure she has a wonderful gown
custom-made by the best designer in Washington."

"Honey," Dad complains, "you know I can't eat those rich foods you eat."

The President-to-be responds, "Don't worry Dad. The entire affair will
be handled by the best caterer in Washington; I'll ensure your meals
are salt free. You and mom just have to be there."

So Dad reluctantly agrees, and on January 20, 2017, Debra is being
sworn in as President of the United States. In the front row sits the
new president's dad and mom.

Dad, noticing the senator sitting next to him, leans over and
whispers, "You see that woman over there with her hand on the Bible,
becoming President of the United States."

The Senator whispers back, "You bet I do."

Dad says proudly, "Her brother played football at Ohio State."
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