Out of the Box

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week was full of firsts, in some cases firsts I forced myself into and in others simply firsts because it is a new era and it is time for me to grab life for myself. For anyone who knows me well it is common knowledge I do not like crowds, truthfully I don’t like any situation I don’t feel as if I am in control of. So this past week was not only full of firsts, it was also me pushing my own boundaries and maybe societies boundaries a little tiny bit as well.

I found I am still not comfortable with crowds.

I also found I could push through my discomfort but it took some real nail biting.

Finally I found social expectations can be met with humor and ‘don’t give a damn’ on my part.

There was one other thing I found out about myself this week; I can be judgmental regarding politics and political candidates. Oh, fine I really didn’t find this out this week; I knew this but I found myself truly judging candidates critically and finding many of them ‘wanting’. I am not just going to pull the lever for you because you have a ‘D’ by your name, need to do better than that.

Lastly, because I spent most of the month of January thinking I was going to die I didn’t spend a great deal of time working towards goals or trying to find my next job. Despite I have an ‘excuse’ this has left me feeling, well feeling a little of a failure. Though I believe my goals are achievable, they have been beyond my reach and it has been frustrating.

The job / work front has also been frustrating and although I know I made the right decision in leaving the organization I was working for, it is scary right now to not have income and have bills looming. I truly want to change the trajectory of my career; want off the road and out of consulting but perhaps this isn’t the time to try to make this change. I am leaving the door open for what makes sense on both a personal and work-life basis, but those “no thank-you’s”, well they are de-moralizing.

Are you wondering what I did last week that taught me lessons, in humility, humor and even a bit of perseverance?

I dated myself. Yes, you read that correctly, I took myself on dates and found I am excellent company.

Date 1, 22-January: House of Blues, Dinner and Concert, Hot Tuna and Leon Russell. Let me first say, dinner in a room full of couples a bit awkward if you are eating alone. I have traveled alone for years and haven’t felt so out of sync with those around me in the past. No matter, dinner was fabulous and the concert was grand. Let me tell you something the audience was funny, I felt as if a crowd of aging hippies surrounded me; well, I suspect that was the truth. Both acts did a great job and despite my discomfort, it was a great evening.

Date 2, 25-January: Local Democratic Club, Judicial Bench Openings Dallas County, all candidates stump. Let me just say there are some interesting candidates running for the current benches in Dallas County and in some cases, we have two (2) to five (5) Democrats running for the same seat. I am primarily interested in the criminal courts but it was interesting listening to candidates running for family and probate judge-fines-himselfcourts, fascinating in the case of the probate court. In one case I wanted to stand up in the middle of a very long-winded stump speech and ask the candidate, “what in the hell does what you are talking about have to do with the bench you are running for?” Actually, that happened twice. I ended up sitting next to one of candidates for a Criminal Court who I had met before and we talked afterward, she is an interesting woman with interesting ideas about juvenile justice and getting young people out of the adult system. I like her. I liked a couple of the candidates their ideas about expanding the system to rehabilitation and support versus simply throwing away the key.

Date 3, 26-January: Harlem Dance Theater, Bass Performance Hall. I think this was my favorite date of the entire week; it is likely in part because ballet was my first love. The Dance Theater of Harlem includes classic ballet, modern dance and even street dance in their repertoire. They also include music and worldwide themes presented in ways anyone can relate to, they are phenomenal. I had a wonderful seat, close enough to hear as toe shoes hit the boards in Battu, close enough to see the sweat glisten and muscles contract as the dancers stretched, close enough to count the number of turns in a pirouette. Do I sound like a fangirl? I must admit, I am and have been since the first time I saw ballet as a tiny girl of four-years old, now fifty-two years later I am still a fan of ballet and very much a fan of the Dance Theater of Harlem.

So, those were my three ‘date-myself’ dates of the week. I haven’t truly accomplished very much this month and the month is nearly over. I am a bit depressed at my lack of success in achieving goals; however, I am happy with my solitary dates. I am happy I overcame my fear of crowds to get out of the house and do something, not just anything but things that are happy and uplifting for me.

Happy Monday and back to the grindstone of finding relevant work and of course a few rants of what is going on in our nation. Enjoy the playlist for this writing.

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdc6q8uTFs

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCsCW4WPcyY

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXs29SpLGpU

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37dw2r45Xzg

Black Swan Excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOf_00uh-1o

Forty Years of Firsts: http://vimeo.com/35636630


  1. I like the idea of a date with myself!

  2. P.S. I’m married and I STILL date myself! Hubby and kids have to know that I’m on the top of the food chain. It’s important to be alone with my thoughts and for them not to enjoy everything that I do.

  3. Catching up on my faves. Yes woman, that’s the Spirit! Keep on dating yourself! Find out what you like, what you don’t, and what you just unapologetically don’t give two craps about! You have earned every damn minute of it. Love you like that!

  4. When I was single, I dated myself all the time. In fact, one time I took myself on a two-week road trip all the way to Dayton, Ohio and back. I say you have to learn to love yourself before you can adequately love somebody else!

    • I am afraid when you have been partnered for as long as I have the act of ‘intentional’ self dating becomes odd. I have always traveled alone, it was part of my job. It never bothered me and I never thought about it. When I traveled I often planned weekend stays in cities I loved so I could see a show or just wander the city (Paris, Brussels, London, Hong Kong were some of my favorites). But this, well this is an entirely different thing and one I will have to learn.

  5. Gray Dawster says:

    So am I supplying the cookies
    or are we going to adlib on those 🙂
    I like the extra chocolate chip
    variety myself but whatever you
    prefer is good enough for me 🙂

    Have a lovely afternoon Val and be good 😉

    Andro xxxx

  6. Gray Dawster says:

    I like this posting a lot, hey I wouldn’t mind tagging along with you on your adventures as long as we can have some cookies afterwards? 🙂 Have a lovely start to your Tuesday my sweet friend 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  7. Good for you, Val! I know you were very good company!

    • I am learning that dating myself is healthy. I have signed up to be notified of different things in the cities (Dallas and Fort Worth) including Plays, Concerts, Art Openings and Readings. Who cares if I go alone, I am not bad company and these are things I love and have missed.

  8. In a sense, I share your outlook, Val dear.

    When first on the road, very often I would dine alone. Sitting in restaurants and surrounded by couples or groups – I would drown in self-consciousness. Quite often, I would succumb, dread sitting alone and end up ordering room service. But as the years went by, I enjoyed being alone – enjoyed dining alone. I’m my best company!

    Now, I’ve gone to the other extreme – and avoid crowds. Preferring instead the company of my tight knit friends and immediate family – Lisa and our three children (and their partners).

    Humility – now that’s a tough one. Just when I think I’ve lowered myself – I detect glimmers of arrogance within. The idea for me is – not to go bowing down and eating dirt. But, to display maturity and dignity – operate at our level – no matter what the situation. Yup, tough one. Celebrate the successes and not allow the failures to overwhelm.

    Those who matter would notice our humility. Those who don’t – don’t matter!

    Sorry, for being so verbose. And thank you for allowing me to share.

    Peace, hugz and blessings,

    • My crowd avoidance was born from my shooting Eric. It has to do with control of my environment, it is an off-shoot residual PSTD. I have conquered many of my demons but not all of them.

      I like to think life has taught me humility, but I know I am proud. Isn’t that strange?

      You are never verbose, you always provide learning moments and I am always grateful.


  9. Val, congratulations on taking such a positive step as discovering yourself while out on a “hot” date to boot. I bet you ended up getting quite a kick out of it (pardon the pun)!

  10. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Hi, Val! I think you are doing great. I think going outside your comfort zone is a great idea, and you did it superbly. So, don’t think January was a waste. It’s just a tiny dot in the giant landscape of your Life. 🙂 You’ll figure it all out. Cheers, D

    • I am trying to see it as not a waste. I think being sick most of the month just twisted me, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted. Not getting done what I wanted, well that just sort of strung me out there. But I understand, I can’t get it all done and learning a bit of patience with myself is also important. You are so right, I will eventually figure it all out.


  11. What a great idea! I wouldn’t mind dating myself once in a while.

    • It is actually not half bad. I think it has to start with finding things you love. For me, it was that concert and the ballet. Next it might be a Broadway show, maybe the opera. Who knows.

  12. Wow, Valentine, you are my hero! I don’t know that I would have felt comfortable taking myself to any of those, but especially not dinner alone. The very few times I’ve traveled alone I ended up getting drive-through rather than sit alone.

    Thanks for the reminder about Leon Russell.

    • I love Leon, do you too? It was a fabulous evening. You know Peg, I have traveled alone for years, never has bothered me to eat alone when I am traveling for business. I don’t know why this felt so different. Thank you though, I am glad I can be someone’s hero in my exploration of being alone.

  13. Dating yourself ain’t a bad idea. I date myself too but she’s becoming such a couch potato. And those crowds? Just think, as long as nobody’s touching you, you can probably stand it a little better. And no, you can’t control everything. It’s not good to want to either ’cause it’s too frustrating. Let loose.

    • That couch potato thing? Yeah, I could easily do that, curl up with a book and I am lost forever. Crowds? I have simply had a discomfort with crowds since I was kidnapped/shot. I don’t know why one relates to the other, they simply do.

      Letting loose? I will try, eventually I will try. For now? Just trying to get use to my own company as good company.

  14. How wonderful that you could return to the ballet you loved so much as a child – I think this may have been just what you needed right now. I know you will find the paycheck soon and it will be doing something that you enjoy- really enjoy. I send you prayers in hope that helps you xx

    • Thank you Christy. The ballet was wonderful. So was hanging in a crowd of geriatric rockers, though a bit nerve racking. 😉

      I am learning my way. I think next might be learning to paint, no not the walls but actually just learning something creative.

  15. Val, dating yourself is WONDERFUL! Many people do not love their own company, but I, on the other hand, do! It is nice to do things that make me happy and not worry about if the “other” person is also happy in doing it…We get to know ourselves in truly being alone. While not something we perhaps initially welcome, I do believe it is a blessing in disguise, a gift that many will never be given. There’s a freedom in it and a sea of endless possibilities that have no restrictions attached. I love you, your readers love you, your friends love you, and thus, you ARE loved in the most important of ways!! Can’t wait to hear what your next date entails…and if you get to traveling about, please make the Central Coast of Cali one of your stops, as well. I, too, have a guest room waiting. 🙂 XOXO-Kasey

    • I am truly blessed.

      In so many ways I am truly blessed. I am finding this out every day as I sit down to write in my journal, as I read and even as I write.

      I am truly blessed.

      Thank you Kasey. You are so right about finding great company in myself also, a gift I had originally given to escape stress though I hadn’t realized it. Now I am giving it to myself initially through force of will but slowly because I don’t suck as a date.



  16. Oh, dear Val, how could you NOT be politically judgmental? You live in Texas, for God’s sake? You live in a political outback, a wasteland! Bless your heart! Maybe it’s time to move to ECUADOR! Or at least visit!

    Hugs from Ecuador, where a guest room is waiting,

    • Kathy, as soon as I am back working with steady income ya’ll are the first visit I am making. Count on it. Scouting for potential retirement spots but mostly just to come visit so you can take me out on breathless and breathtaking adventures (not wearing Crocs).

      I do live in a political wasteland don’t I?

      Hugs right back and thank you for the guest room


  17. You are my new hero, Val! I’m not brave enough to date myself yet, but what an inspiration!

    • I think it is important, vital even. Find things you love, things that are important to you. Even if it is a great book and a cup of coffee to start with. Find things you haven’t done as a pair but that you want to do. Alone is hard, alone is scary but until we are comfortable and confident with alone we can’t be comfortable and confident with others. I love my husband, he made a choice and that choice left me alone. Now I have to start over, alone. My life does not, will not end here. Life is brimming with options and wonderful things to do, whether you are alone or not. I choose to live life, even if I have to take baby steps, even if I have to do uncomfortable things like face crowds alone, like drive at night; I will do these things to make certain I have a life.

      You can do this also. I have absolute confidence and faith in you.

  18. Good for you …. but just be patient with your date!

  19. Oh well done Val…Iit’s wonderful when we feel free to do what we want, regardless of he company… With a sick husband for many years, I’ve been taking myself off to concerts, opera and films on my own, lunch… but haven’t done dinner yet… I actually love it now, and no longer feel like an odd one out, just a person there because she wants to be and wants to enoy herself. – keep at it, and enjoy…XXXX

    • I have signed up for e-mail notifications for Dallas and Fort Worth Arts, so now I will have more advanced notice of what is on tap in the metroplex in the way of entertainment both at the major theaters but also Art Openings, Museums and other interesting things. It has been so long since I have pursued anything I truly loved. I have never minded being alone when traveling, have gone to shows, dinner, lunch all over the world. I have even planned my stays in some cities (London mostly) so I can stay and see shows in their wonderful theaters; I have always been alone for these and it has never bothered me. I have traveled Europe and Asia alone, never bothered me. I suppose the difference is now, well now I am truly alone with no one to come home to or who loves me (or at least pretends to).

      I guess this aloneness simply requires a different mindset, some getting use to.

  20. Your dates sound like the perfect antidote to germs and blues. You cannot expect to be ill and a go-getter at the same time. Your body needed rest period. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Now you are rested and ready to make that fresh start.

    Go get ’em!

    • My body Elyse still cries out for the bed more than I like. Naps still sound pretty good, more than I am use too. The blues? Yeah, they are still hanging about and filtering through, but I am acknowledging this as part of the healing process and understand its necessity. Don’t love it, but I get it.

      Hard on myself? I think this is part of my nature. Not certain I know how to eradicate it from my make-up.



  21. Goals are not the end in themselves, they are a means to an end which should be fulfilment and happiness. There are plenty of environmental factors which can inhibit our goal realization and these are not under our control. If you don’t reach your goal by all means reflect on what could be done better as every day is a learning experience. But whether you achieve or not be happy and move on.

    • Ian, you remind me and rightfully what goals should be and why I should not beat myself about the head and shoulders with my inability to reach them immediately. Thank you.

      Moving on, yes. Slowly and with small steps. My heart isn’t entirely in this process yet. My mind though, it tells me I must care for myself as well as I am able and these are the steps I must take.

  22. Good for you … sometimes just getting out of the house is good for the soul.

    And, I’d probably sit at a table by myself in order to listen to Leon Russell.

    • The concert was most certainly worth it. Nearly 40 years has passed since the last time I have seen this master on the stage, it was obvious from the audience many felt the same. But John the ballet my oh my, they were spectacular.

      You are right though, just getting out of the house was good for my heart and soul.

  23. Dating yourself is a wonderful idea. You haven’t accomplished anything this week. I’m not so sure. Getting o.u.t. is much better than sitting in and brooding. Congratulations. 😀

    • Thank you, taking small bow. I suppose I have accomplished something, just not what was on my list. Perhaps I need to narrow my focus and not make grand plans instead just let the day roll over me a little and do what I am able. The concert, the ballet; these were things I found purely by good fortune and jumped on the tickets. I think I need more of these fortunate circumstances.

  24. Good for you for ‘dating’ yourself. I, too, have always been too self-conscious and shy to dine alone. Not sure why this is when I can easily go to–and often enjoy–a movie by myself. And it’s dumb really, because I know none of the other diners could give a fig about me. As Dr. Phil says, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you realized how seldom they do.” Tis true.

    • Though Phil is not my favorite (he is a bit of a pompous ass) I do like that saying and will have to remember it. It is strange, I have never been bothered by eating alone when I am traveling. I suppose it is simply the difference between ‘choice’ and ‘circumstance’. Well, the truth is you are right, no one but me gives two cents for my ‘circumstance’ and I need to date myself, care for myself and push myself into the world.

  25. I’m happy to see that you’re coming by again Valentine 🙂 it’s good to see you! also, I’m happy to see you moving forward still, who knows what else is out there right? 🙂

    • Now that I am slowly beginning to feel human again I am moving about both the real world and the internet, including catching up on reading and the work search. It feels as if everything is still in slow motion though. I do feel better and am happy to return to a more normal day, every day. I am happy to see you also!

  26. Val haha. I love the me-date. It is magic. It is like I make all the decisions all bight and no one else gets to decide. Glad you had a great time on yours. I love crowds a t a rick show but no where else. Thank for this one Val. I am so thrilled you had a good time.

    • The me-date was indeed sort of magic. Certainly it was much needed boost out of my hermit like nature. I do not love crowds, it isn’t so much that I am afraid in them, just that I am uncomfortable in them. I don’t know that I will ever again be entirely comfortable in situations I am not fully in control of, but that is one of the fall outs of my history and one that I accept. The trick is, will allow this to control my future? The answer has to be no.

      I am also thrilled I did not allow my discomfort to hurt my pleasure. Thanks Tom.

  27. Excuuuuse me, but I need to correct you….
    You Did Accomplish A LOT this month.
    You are beginning to LOVE yourself again.
    By you doing this, you are helping others to do the same.
    PS. Harlem Dance Theater!!!!!! WOW. FAB.
    Love you more.
    And I adore the photo of you above, dear.

    • You know I love you right? You remind me sitting here in my pity pool of whaaaa, I am sick I actually still got out and did something. Thank you.

      The dance theater was fabulous, the setting was fabulous, the music was fabulous and the dancers…oh, my.

      I like that picture also, there is a story to that one. Maybe I will tell it one of these days. In retrospect it is funny, funny sad but funny.

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