Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Giving Tree

I’ve always enjoyed reading, especially children’s books. My collection has started to grow and as I read these lessons, I’ve started to notice how well they can be applied even as I get older. In this one story in particular, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein*, it tells a bittersweet tale of love between a boy and a tree. Every time I read the book, I would tear up. This most recent read, I teared up for different reasons. The message, in my perspective- based on my experiences, has changed over the years- and I find myself wanting to change the ending.

The Giving Tree encapsulates the relationship between a Boy and a Tree. At any given point in the Boy’s life the Tree would give it anything it needs to make the boy happy. The Tree loves the Boy with it’s whole heart and wants nothing but the Boy’s happiness in return. As a young Boy, the demands that he has from the tree are companionship: climbing on her branches, eating her apples, and resting on her trunk. But as the Boy grows older he needs more from the tree- her apples so that he can sell them and earn a living, her branches- so that he can build a home. The boy’s demands and needs become so much that the tree gives the boy everything- so much so all she is left with is a stump.

When I was younger, I read this story and thought, wow, what a wonderful story about giving to those that you love and only wanting their happiness in return. But as I grow older, the story brings on a whole other side of sadness to me. I started to realize that in many relationships, there were two roles- The Tree and the Boy- the one who gives until she has nothing left to give and the one who takes until they have everything they need. As I look back, I’ve been both roles to different people. The line that resonates best with me is when the tree gives the Boy her trunk so that he can make a boat and float far away, this is the point where the Tree had given everything it had to the Boy and there was nothing left for her to give him or to anyone else - “ and the tree was happy.... but not really.”

This got me thinking about my past relationships and how far I would go to make the other person happy- even if it meant giving up myself. And his line “and the tree was happy... but not really” is something that speaks volumes to me. So often, there is one person in a relationship that is too giving and even as a stump they still provide to those that they love. But when does giving become destructive to the Tree? In this tale, is there a point where the Tree should have said, No, I am not going to give you everything that I have and teach the boy that there is a point where you can’t give anymore nor should you ask for too much? I’m starting to think that there is a point that the tree should have said, enough is enough. I believe that point is right before Silverstein says “and the tree was happy- but not really”. To me, this is the point in the story where the Tree has sacrificed it’s happiness for the sake of the happiness of the Boy. This, to me, is where giving becomes destructive. If I could rewrite the ending to this story- I would not have had the Tree give until she was unhappy. I would have ended the story with the Tree telling the boy that she has nothing left to give him without giving up herself. And I would have allowed her to keep herself in tact perhaps then she would be able to give to another little boy - where all he needed was her companionship.

* The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein- purchase it online at to read the full story.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

20 Things

I recently came across an article that listed 20 things that each woman should do before they get married. I not only printed out the list, but it inspired me to create my own of things that I would like to accomplish before I make the plunge.

20 Things Each Woman Should Do before They get Married:

1. Live by herself for at least 1 year.

2. Live with someone else for at least a year.

3. Recover from a broken heart.

4. Have a vacation fling.

5. Take a road trip with girlfriends.

6. Relish sleeping in a queen-sized bed by herself.

7. Get her finances in order.

8. Learn to love her body.

9. Have sex with at least 1 person she'd never want to marry (or introduce to her mom).

10. Find a reliable birth control.

11. Pay off as much credit card debt and student loans as possible.

12. Spend way too much on something frivolous.

13. Exorcise all past relationship demons.

14. Travel somewhere exotic.

15. Establish a strong circle of friends.

16. Forgive her parents for not being perfect.

17. Have at least one night she can't remember.

18. Experience some really bad first dates.

19. Find hobbies that fulfill her.

20. Celebrate her 25th birthday.

I sent this list to a few of my friends and their responses to the list made me laugh. Each woman's response to how many things she had already completed was directly proportional to how ready they were for marriage, or in some cases, how much they wanted to be ready for it. Some said they had accomplished all the items, some said they completed most, and others, like myself, started to over analyze and think about what constitutes an "exotic vacation" - I went to Costa Rica a few years ago, but that just didn't seem exotic enough for me. Ironically, and to no surprise to a lot of my friends, this list wasn't enough for me, I needed to add on my own things. I guess I just felt like this list wasn't going to give me enough time. So, here are the 10 additional items that I came up with. What things would you add to the list, if anything? Here's my additions, if you need some inspiration :)

1. Move out of Philadelphia.

2. Be happy on my own (without a boyfriend).

3. Get a job outside my current industry.

4. Live in Chile for an extended period of time.

5. Learn Spanish.

6. Learn love my faults and learn from them.

7. Go to Bikram Yoga instructor training school.

8. Go on a bike tour throughout Greece.

9. Be my own best friend.

10. Be able to make a teapot in my pottery class.

*11. Celebrate my 27th Birthday.

Granted a lot of these things I can do when I'm married or have a serious boyfriend, but for some reason these seem like things I'd like to accomplish on my own. I added an eleventh item just for good luck. Enjoy reading the list and thinking of your own!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diversification in Dating: Applying Investment Techniques to Dating

One afternoon while compiling a presentation on investing and retirement, I started to think about how investing in the stock market can be very similar to investing in dating: Aren't they both investments in our future? I decided to explore this realization and came to the conclusion that if there are techniques available to curb risks while investing in the market, that I could potentially apply the same techniques to my dating life. I think this theory will bode well for those that take and apply it (stay tuned for application of theory and its effects in a later entry, this is currently being tested - heavily).

I don't think I can continue without referencing the Sex and the City episode where Carrie comes to a very similar comparison and questions: Why do we keep investing? I certainly understand her thoughts here, but I say we go further and not question why we date. We all know why we do that. Either way, it's not in question that we invest in the opposite sex. I suggest that we apply the same techniques available in order to guard against financial risks to our dating risks. I believe if we utilized a simple investment rule, that we could lessen the risk of getting hurt. And in turn, we'd potentially be less reluctant to putting ourselves out there. The idea I wish to explore today is the idea of diversification.

Diversifying in investments essentially means that you spread out your Investments to reduce risks so that a fluctuation of a single security (Investment) has a lesser impact on your portfolio. The theory allows you to minimize risks from any one Investment. I'm sure you can see where I'm headed with this one. Similarly to diversifying your stock investments, let's diversify our dating portfolio. The trick is to start dating more than one person at a time: Spread out your Investments. Date guys from different backgrounds, age groups, areas of interest and even locations. I'm not suggesting that someone in a committed relationship start dating multiple guys at a time, but I think in the beginning stages of dating it would be beneficial to date multiple people. This would prevent us from putting all of our eggs into one “Investment” basket.

I hear the same story over and over: Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy let’s girl down, Girl gets hurt. I think hurt is the wrong way to categorize this feeling. After self analysis of this repetitive scenario, I realized that I was just disappointed because the Investment didn’t cash in. The truth isn't that the Investment that we had three "amazing" dates with hurt us. Let's be real here, we hardly knew the Investment well enough for their absence to affect our life in any real way. The disappointment was a result of not looking for another great investment and not spreading out the risk. If I had, the fluctuation of a single Investment would have had lesser impact on my Dating Portfolio. How upset would I really be if bachelor number one didn't work out when I had bachelors numbers two through four, hell… let's make it five, to pick up their slack? I'm guessing not as much. It puts a new perspective on Bachelor number one - a minor loss. So, I've decided to diversify not only my stock portfolio, but my dating portfolio as well. Stay tuned for how things work out, this could get quite interesting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Little Bit About Me

After careful consideration, I’ve decided to document my life: mainly my dating life. I never thought for a second that anyone would care about what I have to say about my dating and life experiences. However, I've started to realize that I need a place to let it all out, not to mention, I think my friends are tired of hearing about my escapades. So, here we go. To start, I think it would be best to tell you a little bit about myself and how I got into my current situation.

I was in a serious relationship for five years up until about a year ago with a guy that I care very deeply for. Things ended when life and circumstance took us in different directions: him to a country across the world which led me reluctantly into the dating world of Philadelphia. I tried for months to avoid the mayhem of dating in Philadelphia, but it was inevitable that I come to terms with my new path. I have officially given in.

For your reading pleasure, I've given my potential suitors aliases which describe them or my experience with them. I hope you enjoy my thoughts, learn from my experiences, or at least get a good laugh.