Ready or Not: Ms. Fix-it

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed.”

As a single woman who has lived on her own for years, it’s safe to say that I’ve spent a good amount of money paying professionals to fix things around the house. When I lived in an apartment, it was fairly easy to pick up the phone to call the leasing office or submit a maintenance request. However, when I lived in my condo, I became responsible for all upkeep. This was one of the biggest reality checks of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed. When the bulb in my closet stopped working, I thought it would be a simple fix. Wrong. After buying a new bulb, I learned that the entire light fixture needed to be replaced. With the help of my father and YouTube videos, I was able to turn off the power source to my master closet and replace the fixture without getting electrocuted.

“Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.”

After that, the track lights in my kitchen gave out. They weren’t as easy to fix because the electrical panel wasn’t clearly labeled to indicate the power source. As a result, I had to play guess-and-check to determine which power source needed to be cut off. After consulting a professional electrician, I learned that there are instruments at home improvement stores that take the guesswork out of the whole ordeal, but I wasn’t really trying to spend money to purchase the apparatus. Once again, I called my father for help. Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.

By far the biggest job that had to be done in my condo was fixing the toilet in my master bathroom. There was no way I could’ve done this job by myself, and my father was not skilled in this area at all. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to call in the pros. While I could’ve used the second bathroom, it simply was an inconvenience I didn’t want to deal with. I dilly-dallied before finally shopping around for quotes because I really didn’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars I knew they were going to charge me. Plus, my condo was located in a more affluent community than my previous residences, so I suspected the price would soar simply because of my zip code.

Well, thank the Lord God in heaven for friends. After mentioning my issues to a friend, she volunteered her father services to help me out. To say that I was relieved would be an understatement; I was elated. And how much did it cost? Like $50 (or less). Her father was gracious and only required that I pay for the replacement parts. One Sunday after church, they came over for a few hours and resolved my bathroom issues. I couldn’t have been happier. When I asked her father how he learned to perform such a task, he told me he had grown frustrated shelling out money to have professionals come to his home to perform similar jobs. Being proactive, he watched them diligently and learned how to do his own household repairs. Fellow navigator, after my friend’s father completed the job, I never had issues with the toilet again. Score!

What’s the moral of the post? As a single woman, I came to the realization years ago that, despite what the world and TV shows tell us, life skills are not gender specific. Learning how to reconcile a bank account, do taxes, change a flat tire, switch out a dead light fixture, or replace a faulty toilet valve is not something only men can do. When you’re in a situation and don’t have the money (or want to pay the money) to fix something around the house, you have to decide if you’re willing to try to learn something new. Just so we’re clear, I would never voluntarily replace a bad carburetor or rewire a major light fixture. However, I’ve determined that I will do my best to learn how to do things around the house for my own personal edification; I will not wait around for a man to show up in my life and leave everything to him.

What about you, fellow navigator? If you live alone, what are some things around the house you’ve learned to do? Have you ever had to pay for a repair that you knew, if given training, you could’ve done on your own? Tell me about it!

See Me: Not the Same, Know My Name

To the Next Man Who Captures My Heart: An Open Letter

I’m sorry I made you jump through so many hoops, but I needed to make sure you were willing to work for my heart. I say that only because men before you have pranced around and behaved as though they could handle a woman like me. As you look around and see that you’re the only one standing, it means they failed in their follow-through. In the process, believe me that I stopped to ask myself what made you different. Was it because you refused to allow me to push you away? Or maybe it was because you were patient and gave me the space I needed to work through my mess?

Regardless of how you became the last man standing, know that you are now the recipient of a love that will fight for us. I am prepared to honor, respect, and cherish you. Although we hope and will work toward a love that leads to marriage and a beautiful God-fearing family, anything can happen in this life. Despite all of that, you are the only man I see. There may be others who try to make themselves known, but they will always be in the background as you take center stage.

Only you!

When we met, there were many misunderstandings. We struggled with being vulnerable with each other because past hurts from relationships made us guarded. Though we never talked about it until later in our relationship, neither of us wanted to give up on the other because this time it felt different. When I try to explain it to others, I’m at a loss for words because I can’t. There was something about you; I wanted to see where things would lead.

Even when you annoyed me and made me want to tear my hair out, I couldn’t get myself to completely walk away. There were times when I turned my back on you, but you followed me and showed me why I should stay. There are many uncertainties on the path we’re on, but I know that I’ll be ok with you by my side.

Let’s do this!

You are not my savior; you are my partner. You support me when I feel like giving up. You cheer me up when I’m sad. You tell me I’m awesome when the world tries to beat me up. You defend me when others question my abilities. You endorse me in public, regardless of what others may think. For all these reasons (and more), I gladly (and proudly) call you mine.

There are many uncertainties on the path we’re on, but I know that I’ll be ok with you by my side.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

It is now my turn to speak some things to you. I am not her. I will never try to be her, nor do I ever want to be her. I won’t ever resent her for all she put you through. I’m sorry that it led to heartache and feeling like you were unworthy, but that made you so much stronger. The harsh reality is that, if she hadn’t completely been blind to the amazing man you are, you wouldn’t know how to recognize the one who would when she stares you in your beautiful eyes.

The truth is, I’m grateful to her. Because she couldn’t see all you could be, she gave up and left. It wasn’t that you were without vision, ambition, or goals; she just wasn’t the one meant to accompany you on the way to where all that’s in you leads. Who knows why God allows things to happen the way they do. Oftentimes, in the midst of what seem like horrible storms of life, we wake up to realize we were actually spared from what could have been worse. The growth you experienced while with her makes you an even better man for me because you see me and understand my worth. As much as I hate to admit it, she made you a better man.

You just weren’t meant to stop there.

We’ve been through some hard times and made it out on the other side. After all of that, I can’t possibly abandon you. As your number one fan, I promise to do all I can to encourage you on your way to the top. I’ll stand by your side when everyone else says it’s impossible. I’ll show up and be the loudest one in the crowd when you prove them wrong. From the time we met until now, I’ve seen your character, and you’ve seen mine. At the end of the day, all I can say is that she and I are not the same, know my name.

Fellow navigator, do you know how you are in romantic relationships? Do you test your prospective partner until he proves he’s deserving of you? What would you want the one who dares to stick around when everyone else has left to know? Tell me about it!

Mental Musings: Writing to Remember

words Can break cycles

My published words kept me from ruining a relationship that was being tested.

Almost two months ago, I published the book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, because I wanted to document some critical life events that have led me to being 30 and single. What originally started as a series of letters to my unborn adult daughter, reassuring her that being 30+ and single isn’t a bad thing, turned into a manifesto of sorts. I poured a lot of my personal life onto the pages because I needed to get out my frustrations, joys, and feelings of loneliness that I’ve experienced on this journey.

While writing Defiant!, I felt like I was setting myself free from people’s expectations and assumptions about my relationship status. I intentionally chose to write it in the style I did because I wanted it to serve as a reminder of the thoughts and emotions I experienced; I knew those feelings would creep up again during the most inconvenient times on my journey as a single woman. I wrote about the pain of relocating and feeling like I didn’t have friends. In the book, I share about my struggles with my body image and other insecurities.

Yeah…

In as much as I wrote this book for my unborn daughter, if truth be told, I also wrote it for myself. Being single at 30 doesn’t feel the same as other ages. I don’t know if I’ve quite nailed down why this age carries so much weight in the life of a single woman, but I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done. I thought being able to chronicle my experiences was a sign that I had conquered this area of my life; I was wrong.

Have you ever written something, put it aside, then gone back to it only to realize it was just what you needed in your lowest point? That’s what Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+ is for me. I wrote it because I didn’t want my unborn daughter listening to the lies of this world about her relationship status and what it means for her identity.

I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

A few weeks ago, I had a moment where I felt like I was going in a cycle with a particular relationship. A guy friend and I were having horrible communication issues. It was so bad that I had been feeling really low about myself. He made some pretty harsh comments and said things that left me questioning my identity and consistency as a friend. (In hindsight, his behavior was probably triggered out of place of his own pain and frustration with what had happened in our relationship.) The problem was that, though I’d never uttered the words, I had been entertaining the idea of this friendship becoming more. He never knew these thoughts were going through my head, but I had been closely observing our interactions to see if he was someone who could have a more valuable role in my life. Therefore, what he said took an even greater toll on me because I questioned whether I measured up as someone he could be with.

After his painful words, I wondered if there was truth to his remarks. Had I been exhibiting those behaviors? Was I the cause of confusion in relationships? Did I really push people away? The questions kept coming, but I saw no answers in sight. One day, when I was ready to do something that was out of my character in desperation to keep this man in my life, I had a passing thought that I should read my book. I found my copy on my bookshelf, opened to the chapter about not chasing dudes, and read. In those pages, I found the exact words I longed for someone to tell me in that moment.

Totally needed that pep talk!

You know what I did after closing the pages? I pushed pause on moving forward with my plan to communicate with this man, opened my laptop, and allowed my thoughts to fill the pages. I didn’t want to appear emotionally unstable by saying something to him I wouldn’t be able to take back. I’d been in this place before. I know that when my emotions are running wild, my ability to think rationally goes out the window. If I’m unable to break things down into logical steps, I go into panic mode because my brain can’t process what’s going on. This is not the case for everyone. Being single and having more than enough time to get to know myself, I’ve learned to recognize my patterns.

It was then that I saw the value of my book. Whether I sell 20 copies or 20 million, I don’t care. If writing this book was simply for me to have a guide for when life felt like it was going in cycles, I’m glad I did.

Gotta encourage yourself!

Fellow navigator, books, like music, are powerful tools that can bring healing and save lives. Are you an author? Did you ever have a similar experience? What’s the name of a book that has changed your life? Tell me about it!

Living Single While Quarantined

PSA: Please check on your single friends who live alone.

Several weeks ago, I got an email from a married friend asking if I was okay. It was weird because she almost never emails me. Her message said she was emailing because I hadn’t responded to her text messages; she was concerned. She sent the email because it was uncharacteristic of me to go days, much less more than a few hours, without responding to her texts. Knowing that I live by myself and because of all that’s been happening with COVID-19, she wanted to make sure nothing had happened.

Feeling so special!

Fellow navigator, can I tell you how much it warmed my heart to receive that email from her? I mean, I nearly cried reading her message. After about a week and some troubleshooting, we were able to begin receiving and sending texts. It turns out there was an issue with the phones/network where, for whatever reason, she didn’t receive my responses to her texts (only mine).

Living single while quarantined is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you’re not used to being in your own company on a fairly regular basis, it can be darn-near depressing. I feel like I have it even worse because I’m also self-employed; I spend a lot of time in my apartment or by myself somewhere. When you’re married, you at least have another adult to communicate with about everything from the most mundane to the overly complex. There’s someone to bounce ideas off, and you can easily find things to do that allow you to decompress or forget that you’re essentially confined to one space indefinitely.

“In fact, if you’re not used to being in your own company on a fairly regular basis, it can be darn-near depressing.”

While this quarantined life wasn’t a huge adjustment for me, I’ve definitely had my share of struggles being home alone almost 24/7. Minus the once a week (if even that) grocery, mail, or trash run, I haven’t left my apartment in over a month. Although some leaders in Georgia have not taken this pandemic seriously, I shut almost everything down when they closed the schools. I live in a place where people don’t check in during normal conditions; I can’t dare count on them to so much as pick up a phone in the middle of this mess.

Yeah…

There’s no doubt that the number of cases of people struggling with mental health issues and depression will increase the longer quarantined life continues. I’m sad to even think about the number of suicidal attempts that will take place because people are lonely and uncertain how to survive their new normal. This is real, and we don’t want to assume people are alright until it’s too late.

Take it from me: there are many days when I’m not ok. My one constant is literally taking stock of my life and remembering how good God has been to me thus far. I lost about 85% of my income when this pandemic began; I honestly can’t tell you how I’m still living day-to-day. As the one who has contingencies for my contingencies, I did not see this pandemic hitting us as hard as it has. All I know is that I’m grateful for a father who helps when he can, past life experiences that have taught me how to survive with little, and a God who continues to provide opportunities for work.

“Take it from me: there are many days when I’m not ok.”

We’re deviating from the “not I” theme this week because this needs to be said. It takes less than five minutes to pick up a phone and actually talk with a single friend who lives alone, especially someone you don’t talk to regularly. Don’t send a text. Don’t shoot an email. Call. I’m the person who will give a generic response to a text if someone I don’t unusually talk to decides to “check on me.” If the person was really concerned, they’d pick up a phone. It’s as simple as that.

It’s that easy.

I’m grateful that my friend was resourceful enough to find another way of trying to reach me when texting and calling wasn’t working. It showed me that she was determined to reach me when one avenue failed. It told me she valued me enough to try until she was certain I was ok. It made me feel loved beyond measure. That’s what us singles need. There’s but so much a man can do. In these times, the knowledge that we matter is enough. Period.

Fellow navigator, have you been having some of the same feelings living this quarantined life? What are you doing to help pass the time and stay sane? Who has made you feel like you mattered recently?

Dear Navigator, Relationships are Hard.

Recently, in a series of exchanges with some people who have begun playing somewhat significant roles in my life, I found myself being consumed by their harsh words and criticisms. The barrage of what, from my perspective, seemed like unwarranted and unnecessary attacks sent me into a spiral of confusion, insecurity, and frustration.

Fellow navigator, if we were to ever meet in real life and become good friends, one of the first things I would tell you is that I strive to display consistency in my character. This is something that I began intentionally putting forth effort regarding because, growing up, my peers often made comments about how I wasn’t who they thought I was. I think back to one instance in school when a classmate told me (to my face) that she initially thought I was a total witch but was pleased to discover I wasn’t. Now, that’s the cleaned-up version of what she said. In short, because of how I presented myself, she thought I considered myself to be better than others.

Can I tell you a secret? This wasn’t the first time I had heard someone say I came off as being “holier than thou.” In fact, my entire life I’ve been misjudged by people. I don’t know what it is—honestly. Yes, I was very much devoted to academics and performing well in school. Yes, that meant focusing more on learning than being social. I wasn’t antisocial. I had friends and got along with lots of people.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my point.

Nevertheless, this is something I’ve had to face head-on well into my adult years. I guess hearing these similar thoughts expressed now should come as no surprise to me. Well, it still does. I’ve learned to recognize my patterns, identify the root, and distance myself before I have a major case of word vomit.

It was as if some of the people I had allowed to begin getting close to me all banded together to do their worst over the past few weeks.

I mean, it was so overwhelming that I had to remove myself socially, take several steps back from those relationships, and spend time assessing the varying situations. This is something I’ve learned to do because, admittedly, I make unhealthy, irrational decisions when I don’t keep my emotions in check. I needed to see if there was a common thread in their accusations and comments. Was I in the wrong? Did I misrepresent myself? Was I giving off false signals? I needed answers.

Rather than blocking you, I need to process on my own.

Aware that my conscious decision to almost completely remove myself socially would cause alarm, I informed the ones I typically conversed with of the need for space. Uninterested in having to explain myself, I kept the message short and sweet (there was no need for details). It was difficult not speaking to them regularly because they had come to play such important roles in my life, but the space allowed me to see our relationships objectively.

In one case, I saw how our relationship had strengthened over a short period of time. While it was platonic, there were definitely areas that left room for mixed signals. Accusations were thrown around that left a bitter taste in my mouth. How can someone be jealous when they’ve never expressed interest in the first place? Suffice it to say, I needed time to assess if it was worth it to be in a relationship where I didn’t feel truly heard.

So many issues can be resolved when we listen better.

While reflecting on the second relationship, I saw how this friend was projecting feelings of insecurity and fear onto me. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I was definitely the one receiving the brunt of this friend’s frustration. Because I understood where my friend was coming from, I was quickly able to recognize the projection for what it was. Nevertheless, having someone project his or her insecurities onto me is not something I enjoy enduring. There’s no judgment. Most of us have projected our feelings onto someone unfairly because we didn’t want to deal with what was going on in our emotional world.

Regardless of why we do it, it’s never fun for the person who has to endure our attacks. Because of this episode with my friend and the habits I saw forming, I needed to decide if this was a person I wanted in my life. It’s taken years for me to get to the point where I am mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. While my friend isn’t someone I would consider “toxic,” I began to recognize the patterns and saw that this relationship would require a lot out of me.

The third relationship was similar to the first. We spent time talking about things that mattered in life and became close fairly quickly. It was exciting having this person in my life because I was able to just be myself; there were no expectations. The problems began when promises were made but not kept. After the first time this happened, I let it go. The second time it occurred, I gave in to my emotions and erupted. Now, I have reached a point where I’m ready to give this person the gift of goodbye. Why? Because your word is bond. If a person can’t honor a simple promise to do something, how can they be trusted to come through in a life or death situation. I’ll pass!

I have too much self-respect!

Fellow navigator, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out if I want these people in my life. They’re not necessarily bad people, but I know my areas of struggle. Some of these relationships will push me to a point where I lose myself. Others, although trying, will allow me to grow into a better human being. However, the real question is determining which ones are worth keeping. I don’t want to run from conflict because it can make a relationship so much stronger, but I don’t want to be someone’s emotional dumpster, either. Honestly, the only thing I got from me mini-social retreat was that I shouldn’t rush a decision about two of the three relationships. We’re imperfect people who are at different places in our lives and levels of self-awareness. While I consider myself to be pretty self-aware, my personality may be too much for those who have yet to embark on that journey.

Have you found yourself in a position where you had to assess the relationships around you? Maybe they weren’t necessarily bad, but you felt underappreciated or like someone was always projecting their emotions onto you? Tell me about it! In the process of writing your story, I hope you experience the catharsis that comes with release.

Ready or Not: Can You Pay My Bills?

“The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt.”

You don’t need to be single to learn basic life skills every adult should know. However, being single means juggling responsibilities that married folks tend to split between each other. How often do you feel like you’re responsible for remembering to do everything? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help?

I ask myself these questions all the time as I learn to navigate the world of adulting solo. Thankfully, my father was always just a phone call away. If I ever needed guidance about something, he is my go-to person.

Nevertheless, there are definitely aspects of growing up that are not one-size-fits-all. Let’s take paying bills. Financial literacy is not often taught in schools. The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt. While I am not a financial coach, I would like to offer some tips I’ve learned for myself and from the varying journeys of those in my community. Although the names have been changed to protect their privacy, the stories remain the same. There are several approaches you can take, depending on your personality and lifestyle preference.

Managing my money!

“To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay.”

Rosalind knows she is not the most organized person on the planet. She sets reminders for her reminders so that she doesn’t forget to do things. After being assessed late fee after late fee for missed utility bill and car note payments, she finally decided to do something about her obvious challenges. The problem wasn’t that Rosalind didn’t have enough money in the bank to pay for these services—no, she was just terrible at remembering the due dates for her monthly financial obligations. To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay. Rosalind gave her banking information and authorization to the different companies so that they could debit her charges without her ever having to worry about another missed payment. After a few months of being on automatic bill pay, Rosalind noticed that the collection calls stopped, she no longer received late fees, and her credit score began to rise. It was as simple as that.

Making it rain!

Alyssa is crushing the adulting game. She knows what she wants, how to get it, and never let’s anyone stop her from pursuing her dreams. She prides herself on being punctual, organized, and competent. When it comes to paying her bills, she has a system that has yet to fail her. On the 15th and 27th of each month, Alyssa sits down to pay her bills. On the 15th, she pays the expenses due before the end of the month, like her car insurance. Then, on the 27th, she pays her bills for the upcoming month, like her rent. Alyssa never wants to be caught off guard by a surprise bill, so she does this to minimize that possibility. Her payment schedule also allows her to establish a reputation with her creditors. If ever on the off chance she misses a bill, she knows they will be more gracious because they can see how methodical her payment history has been. That way, they would offer to waive any penalties or fees without her even asking.

Nice, organized manner

I would say my bill pay method borrows bits and pieces from Rosalind and Alyssa. Like Rosalind, I use automatic bill pay for some monthly expenses. To maximize on certain savings discounts, I set my student loan repayment as automatic withdrawals through one financial institution. I also have my car insurance and sponsored child payment automatically withdrawn because those costs are fixed and always available in the account they are linked to. Much like Alyssa, I take time to list all my expenses for the month and cross them off as they are paid. I’m not comfortable having larger transactions, like my car payment, automatically debited from my bank account. I would rather go into the payment portals and manually make those payments myself.

What about you? Do you find that you prefer paying your bills yourself? Or are you the type of person who prefers to have an app or program that pays your bills for you through automatic withdrawals? If you belong to the former group, what is your system? If you’re part of the latter group, what apps can you recommend? Share your wisdom with our community!

See Me: Defiantly Single

trailblazer? Me? No, Thank you.

Almost everything in my world seems to scream that marriage is the natural next phase of life. Do you understand where I’m coming from? To say I’m living this single life on my own terms would capture my sentiments perfectly. Trailblazer? Me? No, thank you. I just reject the notion that I can’t be happy at 30 if I don’t have a man.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed our realities and why marriage is not on the table for me at the moment. Although my friend is married, our dialogue proved fruitful in getting to the root of this whole I’m-cool-with-not-being-married thing. By the way, I totally encourage you to have similar conversations with your married friends because it appears that they forget what life was like before someone put a ring on it. It’s not their fault; they just become blinded by love.

Lost in his eyes!

Probably the biggest reason I’m perfectly content being single until God decides to do something about it is because, real talk, the divorce rates these days are beyond nuts. How did we, as a society, get to the point where we are fine with marriages ending left and right for the most minor infraction?

Hear me clearly, fellow navigator, I am not saying any woman should stay in a marriage where some dude (because he’s not worthy to be called a “man”) abuses her in any way, shape, or form. I’m talking about relationships where we just wake up one day and decide we don’t want to be together. In my opinion, because I’m sharing life from my perspective, marriage is too sacred to be entered into lightly. If I’m going to stand before God, my family, and a bunch of friends to boldly declare that I’ll be with a man “until death do us part,” best believe I will work my hardest to honor those vows. On the flip side, if my husband ever steps out or abuses me in any way, shape, or form, best believe I’m gone without so much as a letter or text explaining my actions.

These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

This brings me to my first point: marriage isn’t taken as seriously as days passed. In my book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, I share about being a single woman navigating life and some of the issues I face regularly. I mention the topic of marriage because we’re sending the wrong message to younger generations. Order a copy from my website if you want to read more.

Now that we’ve got that shameless plug out of the way, let’s get back to the issue at hand. If I’m honest, after the initial feelings of joy of meeting a potential love interest wear off, my mind goes to figuring out if this is someone I want. Will he stay and fight for the relationship? I watch his character, pay attention to his words, and listen to hear the slightest hint of someone who is fickle, not serious, or untrustworthy. Am I being harsh? Probably. Do I care? No.

Got that right!

When you’ve grown up with the kind of models of husbands who fear God and strive to love their wives as Christ loves the Church as I have, you see what a godly man looks like. These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves. Sometimes that means the man swallows his pride to do something he doesn’t want to, and other times it means his wife coming back to him and apologizing for some action that was uncalled for.

Can I tell you something? I’ve been told in confidence by married friends that they were on the verge of divorce for reasons outside of infidelity and abuse, but both parties surrendered the union to God and sought counsel from qualified professionals. Why bring this up? Because I don’t know if this happens with younger people, which is why I’m concerned about the ridiculously high divorce rate.

Yes, there are many factors that contribute to a marriage dissolving, but we need to start talking about the challenges of marriage beforehand instead making it out to be this idealistic union. A marriage can never be perfect, no matter what those of us on the outside think, because it’s two imperfect people becoming one. Outside of the grace of God, there’s no way that combination ends in perfection. Let’s do ourselves a favor and stop looking to marriage to make our lives worth living.

‘Til death do us part.

Fellow navigator, I think we should end here for today. As I sit at my desk, I realize there’s so much more I’d like to say about the reasons behind choosing to be defiantly single. I think this will become a series to highlight some of the realities of how marriage looks to me, a single woman who has never been in that union. You may not always agree with my views, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you as perplexed by the current divorce rate as I am? Let me know!

Not I: Man Hater?

One thing I’ve never understood is why people make the assumption that a woman who chooses to live her best single life hates men. Let’s get something straight: I am not a man hater. Men are great! They provide emotional stability and rational thinking when my hormones go crazy. They offer a different perspective concerning situations that I never in a million years would have considered. For these reasons (and more), I value the role of men in my life.

Just because I make the conscious decision not to enter into a relationship doesn’t mean I’m a man hater. I hate when people make this assumption because they peg me as someone I’m not. My choice to remain single doesn’t stem from a dislike of men; it’s because I don’t want to repeat past mistakes.

It happens…

Speaking to both sides of the divide, I think there needs to be some understanding. We never know another person’s story when it comes to relationships and past experiences. To assume I hate men because I’m not ready to walk down the aisle is a faux pas. I could have been abused, manipulated, or mistreated in other ways by a man. Believe me, the hurt and pain that that suffering awakens takes time to get over.

“Let’s get something straight: I am not a man hater.”

To the men, I ask you to be patient and kind. A woman with her guard up probably has stories upon stories to tell of when she allowed someone in and had her trust broken. I wish I could tell men that their willingness to walk alongside a woman through her pain and mess would do far more good than simply getting frustrated and giving up the chase.

To the women, I would tell you that not all men are the same. After coming out of a bad relationship, we often question our own judgment, find ourselves in the same predicament with a man who’s just as bad because we believe that’s the best we can do, or swear off men altogether. While it’s easy to remain guarded and expect a man to fight to show he really wants us, I’d say that path leads to even more pain. We can’t put everything on a man. Our healing doesn’t come from any one human being; it comes from God.

“Believe me, the hurt and pain that that suffering awakens takes time to get over.”

Before getting involved in a new relationship, I am a firm advocate of us taking time for serious introspection to learn about ourselves. Ask yourself some vital questions that will bring much clarity and allow you to honestly get to know yourself.

  • What about this man made him so attracted to you?
  • When were you happiest in the relationship?
  • What aspects of his character gave you cause to pause?
  • How many times did he offer genuine support?
  • How often did his words pierce you?
  • After the first incident, why didn’t you walk away?
  • Who did you go to for counsel about this man?
  • Was that confidant in a position to give you healthy relationship advice?
  • At any point, did you ever pray and ask God if He was pleased with the union?
  • Did you witness the fruit of this man’s relationship with God before dating?
  • How did you view your worth before dating this man?
  • How did you view your worth after the relationship ended?

That was a lot! Introspection is not a one-size-fits-all process. We all take in and analyze information differently. I think there’s great truth when they say we date the same men with different names. All I’m offering, fellow navigator, are some great starters to get you to begin noticing your patterns.

“Our healing doesn’t come from any one human being; it comes from God.”

Because of our environments growing up, family dynamics, and other factors, I believe we continue vicious cycles when we choose to go it alone. The beauty of our faith in God is that He never leaves us. Even when those around us fail to come through, our Father in heaven is always there.

Always.

Fellow navigator, don’t allow past hurts to keep you from future promises. We’re not men haters. We’re not bound by the pain of people who used and abused us. We are strong, brilliant, caring women who have much to offer the world. We grow from our less-than-stellar situations and move one step closer to being who God created us to be.

Have you ever been accused of being a man hater because of the stance you’ve taken when it comes to dating relationships? What have you learned about yourself regarding romantic relationships? I’d love to hear your story!

Dear Navigator, Can I Write My Own Love Story?

I secretly wish we were able to create the situations and circumstances surrounding when, where, and how we meet “the one.” I mean, after 30 years of being with myself, I have a pretty good idea of what I want and need in a significant other. Right? Probably not.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned to identify the personalities that don’t mesh with mine. It’s true that some people just won’t ever get along, no matter how hard each party tries. Why? Because there are things about us that will never change.

With me, I know that I can only go so many days without working or doing something productive. My father recently reminded me of this during one of our conversations. Apparently, I had been complaining about how tired and inundated with work I was not too long ago. Now, with countries around the world combating the spread of coronavirus, my work has reduced significantly. As such, I have unexpectedly received much needed time to relax and recuperate.

Now, most people would probably welcome the break with arms wide open, right? Right! Not me. I mean, I spent the first 2-3 days in my home enjoying my own company and doing absolutely nothing. However, it’s now day six; I’m sick of not working.

When you love what you do…

What was the point of that tangent? Simply to say that, no matter how hard I try to change certain aspects of my character and personality, I know who I am and the things about myself that remain the same. With that, as much as I’d love to write my own love story, I really don’t have a firm handle on love and relationships to be able to do it well.

If things were left up to me, I would meet my future spouse while travelling abroad somewhere. I’d be carrying on with my schedule for that day, going from one client appointment to another. In a brief moment of providence, he’d see me walking briskly through the crowd and everything in his world would stop. By happenstance, he’d find out that we had some mutual acquaintances in the city and ask them to introduce us. When we met for the first time, I wouldn’t be particularly impressed and wouldn’t want to know him as anything more than a friend. After some time getting to know each other, he’d finally take the plunge and divulge his true feelings. (Naturally, by this time, I would’ve already developed feelings for him.) From that moment on, our relationship would shift to being more intentional to see if we are God’s best for each other.

Nothing but laughs

Alas, this is but a dream. Back to reality, I continue living my life. I don’t spend much time fanatisizing about this mystery man and how we’ll meet. No, thoughts of him only awaken in moments when I need to remind myself that he is out there somewhere waiting for me. Although I long to be a wife and mother, I don’t know if I’d want to write my love story. There’s beauty in the mystery of not knowing how things will unfold.

What if he and I have already met? What if we totally missed each other years ago because neither of us were ready? What if the next time we meet there’ll be fireworks, a string orchestra, and the works? I like not knowing because I’m not living for a particular moment or waiting for a specific sign.

Facts.

Fellow Navigator, there is great temptation in wanting to write your love story and know exactly when the love of your life is going to show up. Is this something you struggle with? Do you find yourself anxiously wanting to know when it’s going to happen? Tell me about it!

Ready or Not: Money Management Matters – Exercising Caution

Debt. The four-letter word that seems to have many of us bound in a never-ending cycle of monthly payments and interest accumulation. You may find yourself in debt because you needed to pay for one (or multiple) college degrees or certification programs to obtain a more lucrative financial and career opportunity. Another possibility is that debt came crashing at your door when your car suddenly broke down, a loved one without health insurance unexpectedly fell ill, or credit cards became your best friends because overnight your expenses were more than the money you were bringing home.

Whatever the reason, fellow navigator, I’m sure you can relate to the overwhelming feeling of being in debt. While this is a situation a host of us may find ourselves in, we don’t have to stay in that place. There are a plethora of debt management programs and financial advising companies out there that can assist in sorting out money issues. Fellow navigator, wisdom says to exercise a great amount of caution before using one of these programs or services. When it comes to money management, a company or individual’s credibility and reputation should be vetted and held in the highest regard. If you have even a slight suspicion that the business or representative is not being completely forthright about products, services, or processes, you have every right to walk away.

Something’s not right here

It seems this is something we don’t talk about enough, so I’m going to bring it up here. There are a lot of scammers out there; people have no problem taking your money because you failed to do your due diligence. What does “due diligence” look like? It’s verifying the company or individual’s information through various means. No, due diligence is not just making sure the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages are up and running. No, it is not only about going to the website and seeing how visually appealing it is. Due diligence involves reading customer reviews across multiple platforms. The business may have reviews on the company website, but you take it a step further to see if there are reviews or comments about services on their social media pages as well. Platforms like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) also allow you to read what others have to say about their experience with a company.

After you’ve found the review pages, what should you do? Read what others have to say. If I see a company with mostly five stars, I almost always immediately bypass the high reviews to read the one and two-star ratings. Check to see if there’s a common theme regarding the justification for others giving such low reviews. If nearly every one or two-star rating has to do with the company’s employees providing poor customer service, that is something you should not take lightly. A financial advising company is run by people telling you how best to manage your money. If those individuals are unable to deliver good customer service, I’d think twice about allowing them anywhere near my money.

Taking my money anywhere but here

Due diligence also involves finding out about the company’s specific products, services, and processes, then comparing them to their competitors. I don’t think we do this enough. Maybe it requires more time than we’re willing to put in? Whatever the reason, we must do better in this area. Money management companies are vying for your business. Some offer better packages than others because they understand that they have to make themselves stand out in order to make you their customer. It is your right to tell one company that you want to shop around to see if you can find value elsewhere.

Now, finding value is not always about getting the lowest quote. (Remember, you get what you pay for.) If three out of four businesses charge roughly $1,000 for a service and you find one that only costs $400, don’t do it. That $600 discrepancy could be due to a lack of experience, expertise, or just flat-out incompetence. We don’t always have to learn the hard way (by having our hard-earned money stolen from us) that being able to research market value for a service or product is an asset. If you don’t have the funds to pay the going rate, it may be best to wait and minimize the chances of being cheated.

Too many times we, as women, are scammed and conned by people when it comes to money management matters because our ignorance gets the best of us. Ignorance is not about our intellectual level; it’s about information we don’t know. At the end of the day, information is the best commodity. The most effective way for us to become more financially savvy is by educating ourselves about these debt management companies before spending a dime.

Did you like the post? Is money management something you want to discuss further? Let’s keep the conversation going! What have you learned by practicing due diligence? Leave your comments below!