Pairings Retreat: From Dream to Reality

One day, shortly after the beginning of the new year, my friend Cristina from Your Personal Producer and I were on G-chat as we normally are, sharing our dreams for 2018. She was in a funk and I was in a post-Paris high! 2017 had seen some serious ups and downs for both of us and we didn’t want 2018 to end up being the same old song and dance. You know…dream big at the beginning of the year, start off strong and lose it somewhere around mid-April.

In a moment of honesty, she blurted out: (paraphrasing) “I wish I could just get away. Go on a retreat and get my thoughts in order for 2018.”

And I said “Let’s do that!”

The funny thing is, it’s usually me who dreams beyond my reach and usually she steps in to tell me: “That’s possible.” But on this day our roles were reversed and soon our dreaming turned into a game plan!

She threw out a concept, I took it and threw things back at her and an actionable plan formed not only in our minds and on our proverbial cocktail napkins, but also on a shared Google Drive folder that would soon become an actionable itinerary for the retreat of our dreams.

Pairings Retreat

We started off with the dream of a beachy, intimate retreat filled with instagrammable drinks paired with vision board creations. Photo sessions paired with content calendars. Adorable products from bakeries like P is for Pie and brands like band.o to inspire our own creative juices. It all came together like the stories you hear of visionaries in restaurants spit balling ideas and then…one day, we have Twitter. Or in a parent’s garage and all of a sudden…Apple is born.

In fact, Cristina and I have this thing that happens to us when we really get going on an idea on G-chat. One of us will type out an idea and hit send only to find the other person has thought of almost the exact same thing as well. Leading to a lot of “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” and “HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?”

In moments like these, we are so like-minded that our dreams and visions become transcendent. Like somehow God is planting ideas in both our heads and because He had the good sense to make us friends, He’s smiling at His handiwork when we, humble creations that we are, realize how our ideas fit together just as they are meant to!

So fast forward through all of our pre-planning and big dreaming to the retreat itself.

Road Trip Reunion:

Cristina flew in early Tuesday morning. We didn’t want to skip a beat or miss precious time enacting our respective visions. I grocery shopped and product sourced ahead of time with a handy shared shopping list on the G-Drive (the thing that helps us get all things done.)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger by Cristina and Liz

The drive to Madeira Beach is about 2 hours from Orlando, so we had plenty of time to get our thoughts in order and make some plans ahead of our scheduled time of making plans. Plus, we had a chance to get important friend catch-up time in there as well, which is vital to a partnership like ours! We strive very hard to strike a balance between best friends forever and business partners. And that comes with equal helpings of dream casting and venting about elements of our everyday life.

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Werk Werk Werk:

Once we reached our destination, we were in for a penny, in for a pound. We wasted no time unpacking the car, setting up our rooms and our work spaces, making our first round of drinks and getting our hair into sensible work pony-tails. We had a quick lunch on the beach of Publix subs, because Publix subs are the be all and end all of sandwiches for any home grown Florida girl (and we both are!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Next, we set about our goal setting. With the help of some materials Cristina brought along, we began to ask really tough questions about our goals. What we wanted to achieve in life? What was stopping us? What did we allow in our lives that caused road blocks we may not even be aware of yet? What emotional juggernauts did we each have to work on and overcome in the coming year to make space for big dreams? So…no big deal. Just the extremely big, life-altering questions of the every day life, right?

Visionaries:

Following that, we set to the task of vision boarding. Cristina’s board was and all-encompassing snap shot of the life she wants to create for herself. A sensible 11×17″ format that would fit nicely in her carry on and be easy to take home with her.

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My vision board…well, you know I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Mine turned into more of what I like to call, a vision journal. Each page representing a different aspect of my personality that I wanted to highlight or work on or change altogether.  (more to come on vision journaling!)

Sunsets are Non-negotiable:

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After getting a whole lot of WERK done, we made a rule about Pairings Retreat…Sunsets are non-negotiable!! So we walked out to the beach (which was mere steps away from the front door of our beach cottage) and watched as the day sank into nighttime. Sunsets are the best way to end a day, IMHO. They remind you that there is beauty waiting at the end of whatever you just went through. And they reminded us to consider that the world has so much to offer.

Winner, Winner, Pesto Dinner:

When pairing up with a Forever Friend and future business partner, it’s nice to combine skills. Some of which I have, some of which she has and some of which we share. But making a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta for dinner…that’s all Cristina!

Throughout our day we were cognizant of the moments when we wanted to hunker down and get through our list, as well as making room for moments when we needed a little R&R to refresh us for the hard stuff. Pairings Retreat quickly became about so much more than scheduling blog posts and creating actionable plans for our future. It was only the end of day one and already we both had the feeling that we had stumbled upon something really special.

Second Verse, Better than the First:

We awoke at a reasonable hour in the morning on Day 2. Actually, I got up a little earlier to go sit on the beach and watch the day break. Breakfast was mimosas and bagels from Brooklyn Water Bagel, a local place in Winter Park and a favorite place of mine (shop small!!!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We analyzed our schedule for the day over breakfast and made some adjustments. We wanted to have more time for photo sessions and wanted to take advantage of the weather in the morning. Being flexible in the midst of a set schedule became really important for us. We had things to accomplish, but we also wanted to be free to move with the day as we needed to.

Snap My Picture:

Cristina has gotten very good at taking my picture. From our days of working on my web series in New York to her constantly being my photographer for fitness series and fashion posts. Me…I’m not as good at it. But this was a chance to stretch myself. I’m usually the one in front of the camera, because I like to be there. She’s usually behind it, for the same reason. But Pairings Retreat is about challenging yourself. Creating what you need. And learning that the walls you have to climb are only as tall as you let them be. Learn to climb and you don’t have a wall problem anymore, do you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler (she really is good at this game!)

Working Lunch:

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We continued to bump things around and change our schedule as our needs dictated for the day. Lunch became a working lunch. We put the finishing touches on our vision boards and started in on our writing session. Whatever that meant for each of us. We are both bloggers, but I took that time to continue filing out my questionnaire about my future, which became addictive and illuminating. I didn’t realize some of the things that were coming up in my answers and it allowed me a perspective on my future that I had not considered yet.

Treat Yourself:

Who among us isn’t energized by a treat? The mere mention of a cupcake in the vicinity and I perk right up! Prior to the trip, I had procured a couple special treats for us. Pies from P is for Pie, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and extra large Hershey’s chocolate bars for each of us (milk chocolate for Cristina and dark chocolate for me.) We had a drink pairing for each portion of our day and delectable meals lined up around every corner.

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We didn’t over eat. We didn’t get drunk or binge on sweets to the point of sugar comas, but we did enjoyed our time together to the fullest and took time to treat ourselves as we worked hard and got our check lists done! This is now a founding principle of Pairings Retreat. TREAT YOURSELF!!

Bring Me that Horizon:

As I  mentioned before…sunsets are non-negotiable at Pairings and we took the chance to get another photo session in before the sun took it’s bow for our last night on retreat.

On the Town:

To add a big, shiny bow to our fabulous and very productive 2-day retreat, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We couldn’t believe we had only started the morning before. We had gotten so much done!

There’s something about fresh seafood on the porch of a beach town restaurant that is especially rejuvenating. We had more fruity drinks and more delicious desserts. And we talked about how we wanted to expand our idea for Pairings. What if we offered this experience to more bloggers who were looking for what we had found here?

To the Future:

It’s funny. After a certain age, things like camp and sleep overs and getaways become hard to come by because of life circumstance or frowned upon because of age. 30-something women don’t have slumber parties anymore. Adults don’t go away to sleep over camp. We grown-ups have it all figured out, after all. But I call shenanigans!!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger Cristina and Lizzie

We need to get away sometimes. We need to recharge our batteries away from the people who spend the most time using our batteries up. We need time with other creatives to spark our own adventures and dreams. That is exactly what Pairings became for us.

And even better, that is what Pairings can be for you too!!

If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then…Stay tuned!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

An American in Paris: Day 1

Ok, now you know how I made it to Paris.

Lizzie does Paris

Friday, December 29th, 2017

But I’ll bet you’re wondering what I got up to when I finally made it over there.

Before I even left for Paris, I created a very tentative list of things I wanted to do, along with a vague outline of when I might cross each thing off my list. Traveling with a strict schedule is just not how I do things. I wanted to leave a lot of space to change my mind, add new things to the list and choose days I thought would be best for each item.

Here’s the Master List:

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I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport at about 1:30pm on Friday afternoon, December 29th. I opted to rely on wifi in places and turn my phone on airport mode to avoid roaming charges while in Paris. This meant that simple tools like my GPS and the internet were not available to me, except when I was in my hotel or at a cafe that had wifi. It also meant that I had to rely on my scrappy travel skills (of which I have many!)

An excerpt from my travel journal upon arriving in Paris after finding my way to my hotel:

“Finding my bearings in Paris makes me feel like it’s my first time in New York City all over again. There’s a feeling that I truly have no clue where I’m going or what I’m doing. I don’t speak this language and maybe I’ve been out of the big city game for too long.

But, there’s also the absolute knowledge and confidence that I am capable of mastering this. Flying solo can be a little scary initially, but also exciting and energizing! I’d forgotten that feeling. It’s not something I feel very often in Winter Park, Florida.

On the plane, I sat next to Max, a very kind, young guy, probably a bit younger than me in age if not in spirit. He gave me some recommendations and we shared laughs throughout the flight. I was reminded that there are new friends waiting around every corner, if you’re open enough to look for them. Brave enough to talk to them.”

Interjection: This was the start of a flood of writing that began the moment I landed in Paris and has not stopped since I’ve returned home! And I was certainly grateful to be reintroduced to the writer in me, all over again!

“My hotel, Libertel Gare du Nord Suede on Boulevard Magenta in the 10th Arrondissement, is so charming and tiny. It’s the absolute perfect size for me and my solo adventures! It’s cozy and has the right number of hangars for the Paris wardrobe I brought with me. More than just coincidence, I think!

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I laid down to take a quick 30 minute cat nap, here on Day 1 of my adventure, and woke up an hour and a half later than anticipated. Apparently my body had other plans. Once I finally woke up, I felt rested and ready to walk and see and EAT. Above all…EAT!!

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Interjection: I just sat down to my first dinner in Paris and I’m implementing a new rule…wine and dessert will be ordered at every meal! No exceptions!

My neighborhood is charming! I think I’ll be using that word a lot in Paris. There’s a lot to see. Plenty of hustle and bustle and I find it surprisingly easy to navigate, given the language barrier. As I took the opportunity to get the lay of the land in my Arrondissement, I passed my hotel 3 separate times without meaning to. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding my way around. It really does feel somehow like I’m back in New York, but maybe all big cities have this energy and I’ve just forgotten what it felt like.

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Also…I feel like I’ve found a familiar part of myself, long forgotten and abandoned.

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#PrincessBootCamp – Cinderella Week Meal Plan

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

Starting is always the hardest part with it comes to a new fitness plan. At least for me it is. Months of eating poorly and choosing Netflix over any strenuous physical activity had left my body in very poor shape. I live in a 2nd floor apartment and stairs were quickly becoming my nemesis.

At the start of 2017, I chose the word “Believe” as my word of the year. I picked it at a time when I was having trouble believing in anything, myself least of all. But I saw this challenge as a chance to start believing again. And for the next 8 weeks, that’s what I did. I dove into #PrincessBootCamp with both feet and I started to believe that I could do things I hadn’t done in a long time, believe that I could do things I’d never tried before!

As I said in my introduction post, I’m in a different place than I was when I was an #AvengerinTraining and repeating what worked then simply wasn’t an option. So a new series was born.

Week 1 I focused on Cinderella.

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

Cinderella is the story of a girl who loses her mother, then loses her father and is left in the care of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She is basically held captive by these uncaring women and with little love or compassion, is left to a life of slavery and cruelty. Her socio economic status makes it impossible for her to break free from this household.

Being the kind-hearted, optimistic young women she is, Cinderella takes each challenge as it comes to her and never lets it make her cruel or bitter herself. She is a hard worker who spends plenty of time dreaming of what could be. Does she dream of princes? Yes. But given her situation in life, and her view of the palace, can you blame her? It’s a tangible representation of the life she could have, if only…

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Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Cinderella spends her days in the kitchen cooking for her “family,” in the garden working her fingers to the bone. She does the chores in the house and she makes sure everything is in working order. If there is back breaking work to be done, it falls to Cinderella’s slender shoulders and do we ever hear her utter one complaint in most of the movie adaptations? One bitter invective? No, we do not. This Princess is kind and persistent and she does not let the circumstance of her life change her kind heart. Now, that is something to aspire to!

In an effort to channel Cindy for this first week of #PrincessBootCamp I created a meal plan for the week based on what a 19th century peasant girl might have been eating at the time. My shopping list looked like this:

-whole grain bread (the cheapest kind)

-butter or low cost jams

-oatmeal/porridge

-eggs

-inexpensive cuts of meat (ie: ground beef, chicken, whatever is cheapest at the market)

-greens (brussel sprouts and spinach)

-apples, blackberries, raspberries

-water, water, water

-tea

Monday through Saturday, I adhered strictly to the above list and DID NOT DEVIATE…can I tell you what a win it was to make a plan and stick to it. Even for 6 days. It was a bloody triumph!!! Now the amount of food I ate from day to day varied. With an elevated level of activity, some days I needed more energy than others. And since all the food on my list was good stuff, I felt perfectly fine not counting the calories and just trusting my body. I also gave up weighing myself for the whole 8 weeks. In fact, I encourage you to do the same with any fitness plan you take on. That scale becomes a crutch very quickly if we let it. Don’t let it!

On the seventh day, I let myself go to the ball and I indulged in a delicious piece of chocolate cake from my favorite place in Winter Park: The Briar Patch. In order to fully embrace your inner Cinderella, you have to accept that home girl probably got her eat on at that ball, despite what we see on screen! I think she would have taken the chance to taste something delicious at some point in the night. Even if she was short on time and dazzled by a handsome prince! Think what you want…I choose to believe in the power of cake!

Next up: Cinderella Week Fitness Plan

Mawage

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.

I’ll admit…when I was younger, I dreamed often and deeply of my one perfect, future wedding day. A day surrounded by friends and families and pretty colors. A day I’d have lost all the unwanted weight for. A day I’d driven all my bridesmaids crazy to get to. A day where my groom might reconsider the whole endeavor, but ultimately go through with it, cause no one calls off a wedding on the day of a wedding. It’s quite rude, you know! Ok, I didn’t actually dream of all that.

My dream wedding looked a lot more like this:

I’m not even joking! I had this “Doglass Fairbanks and Catrina Meowford” Lisa Frank design on a trapper keeper and I carried it around all the time and referenced it anytime the discussion of weddings came up. It was part of little Lizzie’s recipe for her perfect wedding day.

Ah yes…that one perfect day. Some say it’s the “happiest day of their lives.” Which used to make sense and now seems incredibly strange. I don’t think I have a “happiest day of my life.” Not because there haven’t been a plethora of happy days or because I am unmarried female. Only because I think that’s a statement best saved for the twilight of life. Lots of people get married at a young age. My parents were married when they were 22 and a lot can happen in 36+ years of marriage (including but not limited to, having a rather fantastic daughter. And also a son who is almost, but not quite as cool as said daughter. *wink!) Seeing as a wedding is only the starting point, isn’t it safe to say that a bride and groom might just be starting a life full of different sized happy days? Maybe I’m overthinking it.

But things like this lead me to think that there is too much hype about the wedding day and not enough hype about the marriage…Do you have that friend that just keeps posting her wedding photo over and over again, even though it’s, like…10 years later? And it isn’t even her anniversary or anything? We get it, JOAN! You’re unhappy and want to remember the good times! Find a recent picture of your happiness already or make a new memory. Cause…it’s getting sad!

Ok…cause all the “cool” kids are doing it. Here it is…the only living picture of me in a wedding dress…

From the years 2007 – 2012 I worked at Kleinfeld Bridal. You may not know the name of the store, but you might know the show that is filmed there, “Say Yes to the Dress.” After that I went on to work at Pronovias for a summer, another wedding atelier. I was in 14 weddings and I moonlighted as a wedding planner for a while. When you work with brides and plan their big days and hear their stories and peddle shiny, poufy, lacy concoctions…you dream of your own wedding. So little Lizzie wasn’t the only one who was planning ahead. It was as recent as 2012 when I could be caught in a wedding daydream. Goes to show how much a person can change in 5 years.

I guess I need to say this, cause there could be plenty of evidence to the contrary…but, I don’t hate weddings. I actually really enjoy them. Free food? Check! Free drinks? Check! All night dance party? CHECK!! All things I love! Add getting dressed up and great hair and you’ve got yourself a recipe for fun. And I have found enjoyment in every wedding I’ve ever been to/in. Whether I’ve been the wedding coordinator on purpose or by accident. Whether I’ve been the one lacing up the bride’s corset. Whether I’ve just gotten to sit back and watch one play out, like a holiday special of Boy Meets World. Or whether I’ve been standing right next to the bride in the dressing room, at the altar, in the bathroom 3 hours later. It’s all been a ride.

I’m just not entirely sure it’s a ride I want to take for myself. Does that get me a lot of strange looks from a lot of little old ladies…yep! Does that mean I never want to get married…nope! It just means that if I do it, it probably won’t be the “happiest day of my life.” It means that it will probably look nothing like I ever wanted it to look like when I was a kid, or when I was in my 20’s, or hell…5 years ago.

But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, gentle reader…I still think Lisa Frank designs a helluva wedding dress…

Used Cows and Crumpled Flowers

Let’s talk about sex.

A very personal topic, to be sure.

And I’ll be straight with you, internet. I’ve never had it. I didn’t have it on prom night or experiment in college. I didn’t have a Bradshaw-esque one night stand in New York City or make a really bad drunken decision. (Well, that’s not true. Bad decisions were made and alcohol was involved, but still…no sex.) I didn’t have a long term boyfriend who I wanted to share that with. And through a series of events, romantic missteps and my own personal choices I have kept my V-card. Sometimes not for lack of trying to change that status, to be even more honest with you (why stop now.)

Most of the time it’s been a decisive choice I’ve made not to share that with another person. But I have to tell you…the literature out there (Bible notwithstanding) is quite poor on reasons why a man or woman may choose to not have sex before they’re ready, interested, married, old enough, smart enough…the list of reasons goes on. And the advice about having it isn’t any better!

Let’s start with the worst advice out there and work our way through it!

“If he’s tastes the milk, he won’t buy the cow.”

Let’s keep being honest here…boys aren’t being told that they are cows that have to protect their milk. The double standard surrounding sex has been around for a very long time. Women wear white on their wedding day to signal the purity coming to the marriage bed…where’s that declaration from the groom? Not only is it nowhere to be found…it’s frowned upon for a young man to be sexually pure after a “certain age.” And women? Well, we cows have to protect our milk or no respectable man will want to…buy us? Who thought this was a healthy narrative regarding sexuality? I’m not sure when this phrase was born, but I know it’s long past time for this one to die out! And yep, I’ve had had someone tell me this before!!

“If you have sex your ‘flower’ will get crumpled.”

I think the TV show ‘Jane the Virgin’ handled this one really well. But for real…virginity is not a flower. It is not something that can be trampled or crumpled by consensual sex with another human being. There are plenty of ways that sex can go wrong. But deciding to have it is not the end of your world and you certainly shouldn’t be made to feel like a tossed gardenia after making such a choice. And what about people who didn’t make a choice to have sex…are they damaged goods too? Think about how harmful that phrase is to someone who has been raped!!

“You should wait because of the other person.”

This has always been one of my least favorite reasons to wait. Personally, I don’t want a pregnancy scare…I don’t want STD’s…and I don’t want the emotional attachment that comes with having sex (no matter what anyone says to the contrary) and all that has nothing to do with some imaginary future partner that I am definitely not waiting around to find. So the idea that a pivotal life decision should be made for anyone other than me, myself and I is just as absurd as the idea that I’m a prized cow with precious milk that needs protecting.

“Lady in the street, freak in the bed.”

Let’s not pretend that conservatives who believe in waiting for marriage are the only ones who’ve mishandled information about sex. The liberal side hasn’t done a great job either. The idea that a women should be one thing when you meet her and another thing when you sleep with her is ludicrous. And are men supposed to be gentlemen in streets, but turn into animals in the sack? This one is silly at best and dangerous at worst. If I’m a lady in the street, then you take me home and I Fatal Attraction you…is that supposed to be sexy? And what about those of us who are what you see? Yeah…I say no to this one!!

Look…sex is a messy topic. (This much we can all agree on.) And parents, pastors, teachers, politicians, news anchors, celebrities, liberals, conservatives…everyone has a hard time talking about it. I can’t blame them for that. I have a hard time talking about it too. Writing this post about sex on a blog that my friends and family read…uncomfortable. But it’s important and what I want to do is share with you what I wish had been shared with me when I was younger.

Here’s the really personal part…another reason I’ve never had sex is because it terrifies me. Can you blame me? I can’t let my flower wilt! I can’t let the milk spoil! I can’t lose my purity because that scares the “good guys” away! And even if I decided I wanted to have sex, I have to be one thing when a guy meets me and another thing when it gets intimate.

Here’s what I think…since you came all the way over here to my mind palace…Sex is good, great, exciting, WONDERFUL! I believe God made sex. I think it’s ok to want to have sex. The when, the why, the how… that changes from person to person. And if you are religious, then your beliefs may play a very important role in your decision making process (mine do!) One of the most important parts is that the people involved in the decision to have it are on the same page and should agree about having it. And above all else, we as a society should stop using phrases involving cows, flowers and freaks to describe it. Enough already!

For the love of all that is good…we have to change the way we talk about sex for future generations. We just have to!

Online Dating

It was my first foray back into the “wonderful world of online dating.” Actually, it was my re-introduction to dating after a very long time…period. And boy, was I rusty!

I flexed my dating muscles by downloading 2 of the most popular dating apps: Tinder and Bumble. Basically the same thing in different clothes. The Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of dating apps, if you will.

 

Bumble dating app nerd bloggerDr. Jekyl…the seemingly normal, mild-mannered better half, who promises some semblance of humanity, but is secretly cooking up serums to hide the evil within.

Tinder dating app blog post

Mr. Hyde…the maniacal other half, not even bothering to hide in the shadows while it’s “nice guy” exterior is shed to reveal the inner beast!

In truth, neither app is to be trusted. And if you’ve ever had a good experience on one of these apps…more power to you, but you are the exception, not the rule!

But out of all the recommendations I was getting for online dating (and there were plenty) these were the two I decided to try. There was very little commitment to jump in and the minimalistic profiles appealed to me.

One of the things I hate most about online dating sites is the lengthy amount of information you’re given to sift through about a person all before ever meeting them face to face. And let’s be honest, some people may not look great on paper, but have great personalities. And some may look stellar on paper, but are rubbish in person. It’s a crap shoot.

So I had high hopes that at the very least, it was going to be a worthy social experiment.

IT WAS NOT!

I got ghosted by 2 separate men. One of whom I’m still not sure if he stood me up or if I stood him up. The other who asked a question, which I attempted to answer, then dropped the mic and never followed up. Why ask in the first place??

But the pièce de résistance has to be Ben. Ben was a Hyde in Jekyl clothing. Seemingly nice, unassuming, had been hurt by love and was looking to move on.

This is how the whole thing went down with Ben…

-A couple texts back and forth

-Interest was piqued

-Ben suggests we go for a hike in the woods

-I suggest a less secluded location (I’m not about to get human trafficked!)

-Reluctantly Ben agrees

-We make plans to walk around Park Avenue and get some ice cream

-Ben asks what I’ll be wearing….then offers “helpful” suggestions as to what i might consider as an option…

“How about stilettos, teased hair and a leather studded jacket?”

Yep, you read that right. Ben suggested I dress as Sandy from Grease, but not Sandy as she normally dressed throughout the whole of the movie. Sandy at the end of the movie, when feeling as though she isn’t “bad girl” enough for Danny Zuko dresses in stilettos, teased hair and a leather studded jacket to make sure she doesn’t lose her man!

Grease Sandy online dating blog post

This, ladies and gentlemen, was the actual suggestion Ben made to me. Because who wouldn’t want to show up on a date looking like that. Wonder if he was planning to show up in a letterman’s jacket or T-birds jacket.

We’ll never know because that was the end of that. I texted back saying I was not interested in going on the date, wished him well and blocked his number. I don’t ghost people, but I also don’t go on dates I no longer want to go on!!

Maybe you think the reaction to his suggestion a bit extreme, but it says a lot about what he thinks about women. And…no thank you!

After a couple other missteps on these apps, I decided enough was enough and deleted both of them. What I thought was going to be a fun experience turned out to be more excruciating than I was willing to put up with.

I was under the misconception that these dating apps would take you out of the text conversation hell hole that other sites put you in. But it just ended up being question after question with no follow through. Not to mention the number of guys who wanted boob shots and extra photos of me. I can only imagine what they would have done with the pictures if I’d had a much lower self esteem and had sent them.

Faith in humanity was at an all time low after this experience. But it did teach me a valuable lesson about online dating, or specifically these apps that promote a culture of hooking up and one night stands…it’s not for me.

Starry Night

Starry Nights Web Series So...This Happened Nerd in the City blog post

Starry Nights Web Series So...This Happened Nerd in the City blog post

When I think of starry nights, I think of one in particular. There was a girl and a boy and a perfect date.

A date so memorable that I made an episode about it in my web series a few years ago. Take a look…

You know what’s funny? Well, maybe funny is the wrong word. Tragic may be more appropriate! Back then I used to blame everything that happened on dates on myself. How I acted, what I wore, what I said, if I was nice enough, if I smiled enough. Maybe we ended up “just friends” because I didn’t let him kiss me that night.

Or hey…maybe it wasn’t me at all. Maybe the circumstance of his life left him unable to move onto someone new and I came around at exactly the wrong moment. Or maybe it was bad timing all around. Maybe I did nothing wrong at all and it was exactly what it was!

The older I get the more I find myself exonerating…myself from past “sins.” I think that’s called getting wiser.

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PS, this is the first gif that comes up when you Google “wiser.”

No matter what I did in my past, I learned from it. I grew and became a better person. Hell, I love who I am today and I had to get here by going through ALL THAT SH*T!!! By doing stupid things like sharing starry nights with boys who just wanted to be friends with me. Starry nights are something very special. Don’t waste them!

Moral of the story is…don’t stop dreaming because of one “perfect” night under the stars. I did. I changed when that weird, non-lationship ended the way it was always going to end. I put romance and dating and boyfriends and falling in love in a little box marked “DO NOT OPEN.” And why? Because one boy wasn’t someone I had a future with. Silly, Lizzie!

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I don’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault. And now I finally know, in my heart, that it wasn’t mine either. Maybe now I can stop putting that night on a damned pedestal and move the hell on! It’s time!!

From now on, I’m saving my starry nights for someone who deserves them!

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Dating and Star Wars

Star Wars blog post

It was a blind date…plain and simple. I walked into it with the lowest of expectations, because experience had taught me to be cautious and common sense had taught me to be sensible. I wasn’t bitter or jaded about the endeavor…not yet, at least. Just realistic, something I try very hard not to be on a regular basis.

I walked in head held higher than my hopes. Because I am a people person. Talking…I’m good at that. And after all, a blind date need only go on as long as you want it to. What’s the worst that could possibly have happened?

We sat down, ordered drinks and immediately dove for the basket of bread at the same time. Bread is a comfort food and clearly we were both feeling the kind of discomfort that can only come when a friend of a friend sets you up with a friend of a friend’s friend. Or however the hell fate had brought us together that night.

The first question he thought of was “what’s your favorite movie?” A seemingly innocuous question for anyone…anyone but me, that is.

Because I don’t just have a favorite movie…I have a favorite movement. I have a favorite fandom! I have something that dominates a lot of my brain space and most of my wardrobe!! I have…STAR WARS!!!

Star Wars blog post

Now, when it comes to dating, there are a lot of things…”skeletons”…that belong in a person’s closet until someone know’s you better than what is possible on a first date. My love of Star Wars turned out to be a skeleton that I should have left buried in my closet. But this was before I knew that I wasn’t supposed to tell boys on dates that I liked loved LIVED Star Wars.

Moments after the question came tumbling out of his mouth, I quickly responded with a short and sweet, “Star Wars!”

Intrigued, he opened Pandora’s box and asked, “Oh yeah, which one?”

I smiled to myself and said, “All of them.”

“No!” he said. “Which of the movies is your favorite one?”

“Well,” I said. “The Empire Strikes back is arguably the best of all of them. Though, we have to ask ourselves…where would we be without A New Hope? And yet, if I’m being honest…it’s Return of the Jedi that tugs hardest at my heart strings. Something about the Throne Room scene has always captivated me the most. As Luke wrestles with his darker nature, the Emperor slowly starts to lose his grip on his most prized apprentice. Which brings me to the prequels…I personally love all of them too. The overarching story of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into darkness and inevitable betrayal of the Jedi forces me to ask so many questions about the movie franchise I grew up with and love dearly. That’s so interesting to me. Sure…sure…they’re flawed movies. But that doesn’t diminish their value to the franchise overall, in my opinion. Does…does that answer your question?”

With a vaguely terrified look on his face, he responded, “I liked the first one.” As he rolled his eyes and ducked his head, I knew…this date was over.

Now, some may think my answer was a bit showy, possibly a display of nerd elitism…but I assure you, it was an answer that came from the purest place in my heart. A place that just wanted to find commonality in the midst of adversity. And yet, this man was immediately disinterested in me based on my lengthy answer to his simple question.

I’ve learned over the years that this question is best answered with much more care than I gave it on that date. Perhaps I should have said less and smiled more. But that’s just not who I am. And isn’t the point of a first date to get to know the other person and show them who you are? Wasn’t that what I was doing? Like a bull in a China shop, I had wrecked the whole damn thing.

I set my bread down on my napkin, thanked him for his time and I left. The look on his face told me all I needed to know. In his eyes…I was a freak. A Star Wars freak! Little did he know…that was perfectly fine with me!

I didn’t leave the date because Star Wars is a deal breaker…though now, it totally is! I didn’t leave because he seemed mildly intimidated and borderline afraid of me. I left because I may not have known him, but I know me! If he was turned off by my passion for Star Wars and couldn’t even understand it in the least, meaning he didn’t feel as passionately about anything as much as I do about that galaxy far, far away….then, what was the point of wasting an hour of small talk on him. Or of him wasting his time on me?

Some people just aren’t meant to be together. And we were a case in point.

I choose my words more carefully when on blind dates these days. I keep my skeleton in the closet longer than I used to, but not too long. I won’t hide who I am. And if they don’t like it, I ain’t interested. And, come on! There are way worse skeletons you could have in your closet than some handmade Padmé cosplay, a Darth Maul lightsaber, a wardrobe full of Star Wars t-shirts, a book case full of Star Wars novels (both Legends and new Disney canon) and the ability to recite from memory most, if not all, of the original trilogy.

Hell, a first date spent debating the evils and virtues of Jar Jar Binks would be a success in my book. Is that too high a bar to set? I think not!

Star Wars Day

Taking a little detour from #TheBradshawChallenge momentarily to talk about Star Wars Day! May the 4th Be With You…always!! But especially today!

Let’s talk about ways you can celebrate!

1. Star Wars Marathon

This is the most ideal way to celebrate the day. But since the 4th falls on a Thursday this year, staying home and binge-watching Star Wars movies while eating a box of Wookie Cookies can be a little hard to accomplish. So maybe just choose your most favorite Star Wars movie and watch that today. My favorite is Return of the Jedi, so I will be watching that when I have a moment after work tonight!

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2. Rep Your Fandom

Another great way to celebrate today is to wear your fandom gear all day long! Here are some of my favorite Star Wars outfits as well as what I decided to wear today!

Today’s outfit:

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Other favorite Star Wars outfits:

styled by Star Wars Beep Boop Beep Clothing fblogger

Styled by Star Wars fblogger Her Universe

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3. Get in a Debate

Do you have anyone at work, at home, at the grocery story that likes Star Wars? Get in a debate with them. Say something about how much you love the prequels or that you think Jar Jar Binks isn’t the antichrist! That will kick start a quick conversation with any super fans in the vicinity and maybe make a new friend (or enemy depending on what you say!!)

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4. Spread the Love

A great way to decipher if someone is a true fan and potential new friend is to offer them the official greeting that must be said on Star Wars Day “May the 4th Be With You.” If someone says this to you, make sure to respond properly and to listen for those that do as well which is, of course… “And also with you!”

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5. Star Wars Book Club

Star Wars book club on Goodreads nerd blogger

Shameless plug coming up. If you are interested in going deeper into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, then my Star Wars Book Club is exactly what you should discover today on Star Wars Day. Head over the Goodreads and see what we’ve already read and what we are planning to read and jump in as you’d like. This month’s book is Thrawn by the incomparable Timothy Zahn.

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6. Tweet, Like, Meme, Gif, Post, Gram, Tumble, etc.

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Today is a day to embrace the social media juggernaut. Jump in with all you have and get involved in the inevitable fan fest that happens across all social media platforms today. What’s your favorite Star Wars Movie, tell me on Twitter? Do you have a favorite meme, share it with me on Instagram? Looking for someone to engage in step 3 with, connect with me on Facebook…I can debate the virtues of Hayden Christensen all day long!!

Don’t fight it. Join me!!
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7. Go Shopping

Today is a great day to have a little Star Wars shopping spree. Plenty of shops are having specials today in honor of Star Wars Day. Here are some of my favorite places to procure Star Wars merch… Her Universe, Beep Boop Beep Clothing, Think Geek, my local Goodwill and Salvation Army, Disney Store, and Etsy.

There are so many other way to celebrate Star Wars Day too. What are you doing today??

And May the 4th Be With You!

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