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Archive for the ‘Dating’ Category

If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last two weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

“True Colors,” this week’s free chapter, is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This chapter gave me the ideas for book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so – from the True Colors section, here, for your reading pleasure is Sixty Five First Dates

Next Week: Love Italian Style

photo: © istockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

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I have always prided myself on the fact that, when in a relationship of any kind, I have never sacrificed a friend for a man. I have never cancelled a night out with the girls in favor of a last-minute date. I have never responded to text messages during dinner and interrupted the smooth flow of a conversation. Nor have I ever disappeared for weeks or months at a time to lavish all my time and attention on a man – I am not that kind of girl.

That kind of girl…

Or so I thought…

For several months now, instead of writing this blog, I spent those precious hours in a daily and dedicated correspondence to a long-distance (and distant) lover. A lover who, I might add, also has some literary aspirations. Aspiration is a good word, because I could literally feel his aspirations sucking the creativity and life out of my own writing and observations. As I channeled my time and creative energy over to him I had less to spend on myself. In addition, as his “editor,” I spent a great deal of time propping up his ego. This is essential in a vocation that is riddled with insecurity and angst. Just ask my editor.

So, in a sense, I abandoned both my readers and my muse for him. And having done so, I was afraid I had lost both. I was afraid that my readers, tired of waiting around for a new post, had gone off to read other writers’ blogs and that my muse had gone to whisper words into other writers’ ears.

But after a week of steadily blogging and receiving a warm “welcome back,” I have learned that this is not so. And, as I sit in my hotel room in Paris, I am reading all of your wonderful comments and feeling my muse pacing the floor, pausing every few minutes in search of a perfect word to place on the page.

After such a long absence I was also afraid I had lost my rhythm, my words, and that panicky pleasure I get when I write regularly. The same doubts plague the actor, musician, or athlete who, after a long absence, returns to the public stage and asks herself, Can I do it again? Will I be as good? What if I choke?

Writing is, like most things, a profession you have to practice – a lot – if you want to be good at it. The less I practiced, the farther away I got from writing this blog and the closer I came to shutting it down.

That was, until I had a conversation with my editor, Melva McLean, who reminded me that I was still writing every day, just a different kind of writing but writing none the less. It was to an audience of one – my lover. At the same time I was writing to him I was able to see  the tentative first steps it takes for someone else to tell a story.

I could see myself in him and how I too started with the easy stuff. It was the expository, the superficial, the description and the reportage of daily life. Not bad if you wanted to be a working journalist but dull as dirt if you want to tell a story.

I remember when I started writing Any Color but Beige how I rested on the surface of my experience and feelings. I was afraid to go any deeper to plumb the emotional depths that gave my story its joy and sadness – its life. The thought of sharing that part of me with strangers caused my heart to race. I suppose that’s why it took two years.

Over dinner one night Melva said something about great writing that haunts me. She said, “The best stories break your heart.” And she’s right.

My book was born out of heartbreak. The story broke my heart, and writing it as truthfully as possible, with all of the messy wonderful emotions that went with it, helped to heal that heart.

I tried to explain this concept to my lover. I gave him some examples of great writers who bared their souls and risked opening themselves up to ridicule and judgment in the name of great writing, who paid a price but created great works in the process. But he prefers to go through life skimming the surface.

He certainly skimmed the surface of my life. Our relationship had all of the depth of a puddle. The up side to this is that although he may have nicked my heart he certainly didn’t break it. So I must be getting better at this relationship thing. On the other hand ours was not the kind that breaks your heart. It was more like reportage. And I will leave him to write that, since he’s so good at it.

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Last week I was the guest speaker at the Montreal Chroma-Zone meeting of the Color Marketing Group. My topic was how to create a personal color palette. I noted, and rightly so, that as color marketing professionals we’re so busy adding color to other peoples’ lives we sometimes forget to add color to our own. A short survey of the room proved me right.

My talk focused on the metaphorical use of color in your life or, to put it another way, how to decorate your soul. The best way to do this is to get out of your comfort zone, to shift out of your safe neutral, “beige” existence and take some chances.

Of course if you give a speech like this, you have to show your audience that you practice what you preach. And, so, I told them about three things I did this summer.

The first thing I did was to get my “glam” on. I treated myself to a photography session to experience the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Era when stars like Hayworth, Gardner, Garbo and Dietrich ruled the red carpet.

Get your glam on…

It’s amazing what good lighting and a little makeup can do for a girl. I did this for me but I am happy to share a photo with you. Notice the purple gown and the red lips.  This is one combination I would never have put together myself, but it has become one of my favorite go-to color combinations for special occasions. Now, whenever I need a little pick me up, I look at one of the pictures and then get dressed, i.e., get my glam on and go out with the girls. It works wonders.

My next colorful summer adventure was in the kitchen. I treated a friend to a lesson at a wonderful little cooking school in Old Montreal called Ateliers et Saveurs. Check out this colorful salad composé of corn, red pepper and cucumber dressed with a spicy Tabasco dressing. The only thing more colorful than the salad is my dress – a lively mixed pattern of salmon, rose, red and black swirls. Both the dish and me were hot stuff.

I rounded out my tales of my summer color by confessing to a dalliance with a much younger man which, while it was all too brief, was rendered unforgettable with a melody he composed just for me. One friend who heard the melody said that it captured me perfectly. Whenever I listen to it, I see the pastel colors of a Parisian sunset, all soft and pretty. And I wonder if that was how he saw me? And if, when he wrote it, he was thinking about last spring and Paris and our long walks by the Seine. I wonder if that melody colors his memories the way it colors mine.

Katja’s (Cat’s) Melody

And now we’re coming into one of the most colorful seasons of all – at least in my neck of the woods – fall.  For those of you lucky enough to experience a change of seasons, now would be the perfect time to kick back with a cup of coffee and contemplate the colors you can add to your own personal palette. And for those of you located in a more consistent climate, remember you don’t need a change of seasons to inspire your own personal color palette. All you need is a change of mind. It doesn’t matter whether your personal palette is bright and bold, or pastel and pretty, because color is a choice. And if you don’t like it, you can always change it.

In the meantime, own it, wear it, live it!

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As you read in the previous post, sometimes I  want to shake off those good girl shackles and be “bad,” if only for a little while. And the perfect opportunity seems to present itself once a year in the form a handsome Brazilian pilot who shows up at my door during  the Montreal Formula One Grand Prix.

It’s the 21st century version of the play/movie Same Time Next Year but without the same emotional intimacy experienced by the principal characters, George and Doris, who meet every year for 24 years, sharing the ups and downs of their lives in a brief but intense weekend. Over time, you see how they grow individually and as a “couple.”

For the past seven years the pilot and I have passed through a smattering of weekends of mostly style and no substance and very little sharing. We as a couple seem to be stuck in a moment – the moment we first met.

Shallow you think? Absolutely. On the other hand there is no danger of drowning in something more profound, in a sea of those roiling emotions that framed our first summer together as friends and lovers. Now it’s safer for us to tread water in the shallow end of the sea of love. It’s less scary for him (he can’t swim) and less frustrating for me (forever throwing a lifeline to a drowning man).

But it’s the capacity to accept our relationship limitations that keeps us friends. We have an unspoken agreement that lets us honor the past without burdening the future with expectations. That agreement keeps us in contact throughout the year and enables us to share travel schedules in the hopes that someday our paths would cross on a bit more regular basis. But they never do. When I’m in Paris he’s in Palm Springs, when I’m in Beijing he’s in Barcelona – even with all that international travel our paths only cross here, in Montreal.

I don’t think it coincidental at all that Michael Buble’s song “Home” hit the top of the charts the year the pilot and I met. It defined us then and it defines us now.  It’s the stay/go paradox we both share.  And I know that when he turns up at my door with a box of dark chocolate covered strawberries and good Grand Cru like he did last weekend he finally feels at home and so do I…if only for a little while.

photo: © istockphoto.com/Yuri_Acurs

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Take a bubbly bath

Whether you’re happily coupled up, looking to be, or in love with yourself Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, so why limit it to one day? /Why not take the week and fall head over heels in love with someone or something. Better yet, share the love. Here are some suggestions:

• Take advantage of after-Valentine’s Day specials – pick up some red roses on the 15th and drop the petals in a bubble bath while sipping pink champagne.

• Express yourself and paint your nails red. Buy little heart decals at the drugstore for the perfect finishing touch.

• Wear your heart on your sleeve and purchase a heart charm for your favorite bracelet or necklace.

• Buy a box of Valentine’s Day cards – the kind you used to buy in school – and give them to strangers like the school crossing guard, the dry cleaner, the cashier at the grocery store, the person next to you on a plane, the receptionist at your doctor’s office. Go ahead – make someone’s day.

• Make a contribution to your local heart and stroke foundation. Heart disease is the leading killer of women.

• Buy something red or pink – a scarf, a hat, or a pin – and make it your signature color for the week.

• Be sweet on yourself and indulge in chocolate truffles or a cupcake from a specialty shop.

• Send a Valentine’s Day card – unsigned – to your secret crush.

• Do a girls’ night in and screen your favorite Rom/Com or try your hand at an old board game like Mystery Date.

• Join an online dating site. You never know.

• Surprise your significant other in the weeks following Valentine’s by doing something different, treat him/her to a massage, a cooking lesson, a golf lesson, or a wine tasting.

photo: © istockphoto.com/pierredesvarre

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I never meet interesting men on planes. Given all the flying I do, you would think the odds would be in my favor. But it seems there’s a cosmic conspiracy to keep me uncoupled and out of trouble, at least while I’m in the air. In hundreds of thousands of miles logged on various airlines I only met one intriguing man. That was a long time ago, and I must confess that I treated him rather carelessly. I lost him, and the universe has been repaying  my ingratitude for its gift ever since. Until this past weekend, that is.

The Monday morning flight from Trieste to Munich was filled with predominantly male business travelers. As most of them have little or no manners when it comes to female passengers I didn’t hold out much hope this flight would be any different from the other commuter flights I’ve taken over the years.

I waited until the very end to board. I could see my row and the aisle seat was already occupied by a man who looked like just another Monday morning commuter. I bent down and politely indicated that I had the window seat.

“It’s okay, I’ll move,” he said.

“No really, I can sit there,” I said. He was tall and probably wouldn’t have been comfortable in the window seat.

He slid over any way. Very nice, I thought. I made a note to myself. “Must remember not to generalize.”

On the flight out one hears all manner of languages and accents — Dutch, German, French, Swedish, heavily accented English and, of course, Italian. As luck would have it – my gentleman was Italian. And he was the whole package, tall, dark, and handsome. For once the universe surprised me with pleasant view both inside and outside of the plane. I stole glances at him as we crossed the Alps. He folded up the newspaper he was reading to give me a better view, and our conversation started.

The depth and breadth of his conversation amazed me. He was well read, well-traveled and well educated in the social skills department. We talked for an hour and didn’t realize we’d landed until the flight attendant asked us to leave the plane. We both agreed to stay in our seats until everyone deplaned. This way we could avoid the crush. Besides the transfer bus for the terminal couldn’t leave without us.

As the last people on the bus, we squeezed into the crowded back end. I held my purse and my briefcase in one hand and a pole for support in the other. I had all of the weight on one side of my body and felt off balance. He towered over me as I stood to face him and continue our conversation.

He smelled good, like English soap and fresh air. His breath was sweet. As the bus turned a corner, I lost my balance. He put his free arm around the back of my waist to steady me as he pulled me slightly toward him. He apologized for being so forward, but I assured him that the alternative, me falling, was worse. It was the most gallant of gestures.

I lost my balance, and he steadied me, two more times on the way to the terminal. Please don’t let go, I thought. But the bus stopped and he had to let go. It was the shortest bus ride of my life. As we said goodbye, I reflected that I may not have fallen, but I certainly did lose my balance, at least for a little while.

photo: © istockphoto.com/TerryJ

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Many years ago, I stumbled headlong into an intense affair with a handsome but unavailable Swede. I clearly recall walking down Michigan Avenue arguing both sides of the debate with myself, the yes / no of it all. I still hadn’t made up my mind when later that day I bumped into a male friend, who, sensing my dilemma, offered the following advice, “It’s the things you don’t do that you end up regretting.”

Looking back over the years and weighing up the have done with the have not done, I can honestly say that I feel a greater sense of regret for those things left undone, i.e. not meeting the handsome and mysterious Frenchman in Paris. A little voice in the back of my head questioned that decision the minute he stepped off that train. And he wasn’t the first Frenchmen that I sometimes wonder about.

So what about the other side of the coin? When it comes to relationships, is it possible to still do something and regret it? If so, to what degree? Someone once asked me how many of the relationships that I talk about in my book do I regret? The answer is none. I had high hopes that those magical moments would last. And when they didn’t I felt sad, angry and disappointed.

And, so, I think my friend is only partly right. I believe the regret you feel in not having done something is in direct proportion to the desire we feel for the person, object, or activity.   As for regretting the things that I’ve done, with the healing benefit of time, I realize that in spite of the hurt and pain, given the opportunity I would still make the same choices.

Singer/songwriter Adele’s song “Someone like You” expresses it this way:

Regrets and mistakes they’re memories made

Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

Adele is right of course, memories are better bittersweet than bland, just like dark chocolate or the skin of a plum. And I am better for having tasted them.

No Regrets

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Little did I know when I wrote my previous post, Bird in the Hand that my week in Johannesburg would be a real life variation on the same theme: birds. How strange is that? What was Mother Nature trying to tell me?

First there was my early morning wake-up call at 6:00 a.m. Somewhere in my jet lag induced unconsciousness I could hear honking. I’ve heard of cell phones that chirp but never hotel phones that honk. Now fully awake, I realized the noise was not coming from inside but rather outside on my window ledge.

A pair of bickering black-billed geese, husband and wife, no doubt, had pitched up on my window ledge high above Sandton City on the 14th Floor of the Sandton Sun Hotel. It was my own personal (wake-up) call of the wild.

Bird with a View

How in the world did they get there? And just what were they arguing about at this hour? And why had they picked my window ledge? I got up and went to the window and looked down the ledge to where they sat bickering.

I watched her walk off in a huff. (I guess some things are universal.) He followed her down the ledge honking as if he was trying to convince her of something. By now they had arrived in front of me. It certainly looked like I was in the middle of some domestic squabble. Geese may mate for life but they’re not necessarily faithful so maybe there was another goose – or gander – involved.

I pulled back the curtains slowly trying not to frighten them so I could get a better view of the unhappy couple. Sensing the presence of an intruder, they turned their ire on me. I was about as welcome as the paparazzi at a Hollywood marriage meltdown.

Determined to keep their argument private, he puffed up his chest and spread his wings in an attempt to intimidate me. And then united as a couple they began to peck at the window. I was impressed, and then I realized they weren’t attacking me. They were attacking their own reflections in the window. Having spent their anger on something other than each other, they waddled off to other end of the ledge and I heard nothing further from them. They were back to being lovebirds.

The next day I packed my bags and headed for the comforts of home – my friend Julie’s home in a city suburb – the same Julie whose thought-provoking comment was the genesis for my book, Any Color but Beige. (See Chapter 25) The same Julie who generously whisked me away to the Veld for some much needed downtime last year. The same Julie who hosted a Girls’ Night In to celebrate the launch of the book in South Africa. (More on that later).

I was content to sit in her garden and soak up the summer sun while I watched the brightly yellow-colored birds called weavers build their nests. That day there was one weaver who had just put the finishing touches on his new nest when a curious female alighted on a nearby branch.

(The females are a dull brown but that doesn’t bother the males. Oh to be as free as that female weaver and have the male of the species chase you in spite of your dull plumage. I mean really, ladies, try getting away with a mousy color on the top of your head or half an inch of regrowth showing at the roots.)

At last someone with whom he can share his love nest. The little male weaver wanted to strut his colorful stuff and so he hopped onto the branch next to her and started to make small talk. Like a good female, she studiously ignored him.

When another male tried to muscle in on his girl, our brave little weaver ran him off. When I second male moved in, our little guy ran him off too. How’s that for defending your home and your castle? I heard him chirp. When he returned to put the moves on the female, she failed to return his romantic overtures. He flew up to the nest to invite her in to see his etchings but no dice’ she wasn’t budging.

He looked dejected. The tree was full of nests and so maybe she was waiting for a better offer. Finally, tired of waiting, for what I’m not quite sure, she flew off. I felt sorry for the male but Julie told me that it just may have been a blessing in disguise. Had the lady accepted his offer and flew up to the nest she might have found it lacking and tore it apart bit by bit. He would have to start over and try again until it pleased her. How like life.

And so the little yellow weaver went back to decorating his pad and waiting for the next pretty bird to come along. It’s like his mother once told him, “There are plenty of fish in the sea and plenty of birds in the sky.” How like love.

So what was Mother Nature telling me this week? Life, like love, is for the birds.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/amrishwad

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When I mention to people that my book launch was the best night of my life, reactions vary from agreement to doubt. It’s interestingto note that only the men appear to doubt my claim. I find this puzzling because, given the differences between the sexes; I would have thought men would just get it. So this reaction surprised me.

Oh yeah?

Men, who by their very nature, are competitive beings, have played some sort of sport at least once in their lives or have “lived” an extraordinary moment: a game-saving tackle on the goal line, a home run in the bottom of the ninth, or a three pointer at the buzzer. Or maybe it was closing a million dollar deal, landing a new account, or cashing out a winner in poker. Whatever the event, it will go down in their memories as probably the best “moment” of their lives.

So why is it so hard for men to make the leap from pitch, playing field or boardroom, where the glad-handing and back-slapping of buddies is commonplace and where solo efforts of prowess are lauded, to the softer side of life where creation and not competition reigns supreme.

The cynic in me postulates that any achievement not involving at least the advice or counsel of a man is somehow lacking. How could she have done it without me? How dare she do it without me? It can’t possibly be the best without me. This last one may have a slight sexual undertone depending on whom I’m talking to. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

But the explanation is quite simple once I juxtapose it for them against a bigger picture –the marathon race we all run called “life.” People come and go and add and subtract from our lives (hopefully they add more than they subtract). And the memories created “a deux” can sometimes be tainted with sadness, despair and regret, should things end badly.

Our memorable solo moments, days, nights or seasons are the best because we own them. We are the sole architect of those pieces of happiness, achievement or glory. A moment, day or, in my case, night, is something, not even time, can take from us, nor memory taint. Savor them!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Ulvestad

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Here they are as promised, a selection of opening lines to help you capture the moment the next time you bump into a potential Mr. or Ms. Right. Since they were inspired by my friend Lara, I have dubbed the list: Lara’s lines.   

One word of advice, it’s important to be light with your approach and don’t take things seriously. Remember the idea is to have fun.

The Moment

YOU:  “Did you feel that?  (Pause for his reply).

He’ll usually say something clever, like… “Feel what?”

YOU:  “I think we may have just had a moment”

If he says nothing you can finish his thought for him.

YOU:   “This is where you say, I think so too.”

If he’s receptive, you can introduce yourself.  If he’s not, you can always say over you shoulder as you walk away, “Well it was nice not quite meeting you.”

Compliments

Compliments are always a safe bet. I mean who doesn’t like receiving a compliment.  Obviously the more sincere they are the better they will be received and the less superficial you will sound.

“That’s a great color on you.”

As women we’re already perceived as experts.  This line leads to several possibilities of follow-up conversation.  You can ask about his favorite color.

If he’s not good with color, you can joke and describe the difference between men and women when it comes to color.

YOU:  “Count on men to know at least two colors: black and brown.  Most men are satisfied with the Crayola 8 pack while women require all 64 colors.”

Some men may be offended when you make broad based statements like this.  If that happens, you can always say that you’re just generalizing for fun.  However, if he’s that uptight run.

Directions/Recommendations

You can always stop and ask for directions or recommendations.  Obviously you know where you’re going but he doesn’t have to know that.  This line of questioning takes some advanced planning as it is situation based.  Are you home running errands?  Are you in a city on vacation or business?

YOU: “I’m so tired of eating in this hotel, would you know a good restaurant near by?”

YOU:  “I’m new to the city, I only just arrived yesterday, can you recommend a good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon?”

YOU: “I’m looking for Crescent Street can you point me in the right direction?”

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

Compliment what he is wearing and ask him where he got it.  Tell him you have a 30-year-old nephew or godson and you’re looking for a birthday present.  Never tell him you’re shopping for your father, as he will question his own fashion sense, or that you’re shopping for your son – save that for later. Conclude by saying that it really suits him. And if you sense things are going well then introduce yourself

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/visi.stock

Confidence

There are days when you look good and you know it. These are days for taking chances with a more playful approach. Innuendo is a good approach with a man that you find very attractive and would consider sleeping with but nothing more.

YOU:  “How about a few fast furious rounds?” arch your eyebrows and smile mischievously.

Of course, you were talking about tennis; what was he thinking?

Vulnerability

There is something refreshing about a person who is open and honest. It makes us pause for a minute and often times catches us by surprise. You begin by introducing yourself and then follow up with:

YOU:  “I find that there are too many “what if…” moments in life.  And I don’t want this to be one of them. Would you like to have coffee with me? “

The variation on the “what if” theme is that of regret,

“A wise person once told me that it’s the things that you don’t do that you end up regretting.  I think I should very much regret not having met you.  Would you like to have coffee?”

Parting Shots

Of course, there is always a risk that you run into a jerk or a man lacking a sense of humor.  Rather than feeling flattered, as most men would, he is offended. That is his issue and not yours. You can make a graceful exit with the following:

YOU:  “Are you always this charming, or are you making a special effort on my behalf?  In that case, please don’t put yourself out.” Make sure you say it with just a hint of sarcasm.

or

YOU:  “Oh by the way, the lost and found is just down the street, in case you’re looking for your sense of humor.”

So there you have it, Lara’s List of opening lines…Now go out there and capture the moment!

NB:  I was going to end the post here but I just couldn’t leave it without mentioning my all time favorite capture the moment line. Charlie McArthur a Chicago journalist and playwright said it the first time he met the legendary actress Helen Hayes.  They were at high-society part together when he approached her and offered her some peanuts.  As he put them into her hand, he said, “I wish they were emeralds.”

 

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