Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lessons from Our Fathers

My very first trial involved an unwed father, who wanted to spend quality time with his son. He did not just want to be an alternating weekend dad, which the mother thought was more than enough. Thankfully, the court agreed with me, and found that it was in the child's best interest to have both parents share physical custody. Ever since then, I have always had a special soft spot for dads willing to step up and be a part of their kids lives, although until recently when I finally found my own father, I could not comprehend the impact these men would have on their children.

Six years ago, the late Tim Russert compiled letters from sons and daughters about their fondest memories of their fathers. "Wisdom of Our Fathers" received very positive reviews, but fearing that I would not truly be able to appreciate it, I held off reading it-- until now. I am so glad I finally was able to enjoy the stories of all these children, now grown, sharing little pieces of how their fathers helped to shape them. A recurring theme seems to be that while many men indeed focused on providing for their families, little acts of kindness and/or meaningful talks at a pivotal moment in a child's life, later had a profound and lasting impact in the lives of their offspring.

  I am so glad that I finally have my own stories that I will always treasure about the moments I have been able to share with my dad in the last year and a half. The best lesson I've learned from my dad is that timing is everything. Perhaps 39 years ago he was not ready to be a dad, and I had to go on my own ridiculous journey for the next 38 years before I was ready to be his daughter and become a big sister. Things do happen for a reason, and rather than question everything, I am finally learning to enjoy the ride and stop the search for the Master Plan-- if there is one, I'm pretty sure a copy is not lying around here on Earth.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Oedipus Complex Revisited

The Oedipus complex, as expanded upon by Freud, has been re-worked in modern psychology to suggest that there is a normal development phase where boys will want to be like their dads and marry their moms. At first that might seem a bit weird to some, but actually it makes sense-- in a healthy family situation, if the mother and son bond is loving and safe, why wouldn't a child want to find someone eventually that has qualities strongly resembling his mom? With this in mind, at an age appropriate moment, I think it is important to start drilling in the notion that being a mom is not interchangeable with being someone's personal chef, maid, and glorified chauffer.

 I love the fact that my son sees me as a working professional, who is recognized as an expert in her field. He sees me manage money and balance a household budget without any outside assistance, and I have no doubt that he fully understands how much I value intelligence, independance and responsiblity. I may not live to see him get married, but if and when he does, I never want him to feel the pressure of being the sole provider for an entire family. I have seen throughout the years with my own divorce clients, the negative impact that kind of stress causes on a couple. To be viewed as nothing more than an ATM is no way to live.

My generation of men, and those before them, sadly were trained to provide financially-- that was the sole focus back then. Problem is that my generation of women were taught to hunt for themselves, and it was drilled into us that we can do anything a man can do-- maybe even better. Knowing this, the fact that someone can provide financially is never going to be enough for my female peers, and for future generations it is imperative that we teach them a variety of life skills, including the art of communication and compromise, as well as the ability to share in all household responsiblities. Only time will tell whether our efforts will pay off as parents, but keeping in mind the importance of modeling appropriate behavior is a huge step in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There Are No Guarantees

Years ago, after my divorce, I dated a man that wanted to get married. Unfortunately, I did not see myself hitched to him, and the relationship soon ended after I made that clear. Our kids had become friends over time, and sadly it took my son a long time to get over the clean break we made after that break up. For the next four years, I kept my dating and mommy worlds totally separate. This year, however, as I have developed a significant relationship with someone I have finally softened on my rules, and after several months of dating I finally allowed my son to meet the man that has entered my life. Ever so slowly, we have integrated the kids in some of our activities, but even now I have not had a sleepover when my son is with me. These self-imposed limitations have not been easy, but I have done them in the interest of protecting my son from seeing a revolving door of individuals. I know all too well from the research published that kids that witness this wind up having major attachment issues, and if I can spare my son that anguish, it is my job to do so. At the same time, I do think when the time is appropriate divorced parents have to be able to show their kids that life does move on, and it is possible to find love again.

The other day, a teaching moment finally came when my son asked me, "mommy how do you know that things are going to work out with your friend?" Without hesitating, I answered quite honestly, "I don't know-- there are no guarantees in life. I did not marry your father and start a family thinking things would not work out. I never saw myself raising a child that lives in two separate homes. And yet, I don't regret getting married and giving it a shot. All you can do in life, is try your best." I don't know what the experts would say about that answer, but I certainly hope he remembers it later in life. 80% of us will give marriage a shot at least once. Thanks to my line of work, I see people every day deal with the loss of their married lives, pick themselves back up, and move on. Very few have ever given up on love completely-- and most will in fact remarry because despite the dissolution of that first partnership, there remains this respect and appreciation for how awesome life can be when you have a soulmate by your side. Of course the guarantee that it will last would be a nice bonus, but I've come to accept that these don't exist in any aspects of our lives-- not with work, health, finances or any relationship. Rather than avoid this reality, or hide it from my child, I would rather we work up the courage to face life's challenges. We will all suffer setbacks, especially in our personal relationships, but I refuse to quit on love-- because to me that is precisely the only thing that makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Do You Define Cheating?

Lawyers are known for being very technical, and so it should come as no surprise that in many states adultery is clearly defined as vaginal penetration, which often is not necessarily proven by catching someone in the actual act, but by showing that someone had the opportunity and disposition to have an affair. Over the years, what I've found most interesting is that many spouses are more hung up on the emotional connection that their partners develop with someone else, and regardless of what the law says, they feel completely betrayed by relationships that may never have become physically intimate. After many, many discussions with people about this, although the law may not agree, I think the best definition I've found for what constitutes as cheating is whether you would feel betrayed if roles were reversed. This is way too subjective of a standard for the law to ever embrace, but I think it is definitely one worthy of consideration on a personal level. The other point to keep in mind is that every action causes a reaction-- when one person feels the other has committed a transgression, it often gives that person an excuse to act badly as well. Soon, there is a slippery slope problem that erodes a couple's trust, destroys their intimacy, and regardless of whether anyone gets caught with their pants down, this pair will soon find themselves at a crossroads-- either work really hard to repair the damage done, or accept that it is time to part ways because the hurt feelings are beyond repair. There is no right or wrong answer, it's whatever works best for both parties. All I can say is choose wisely.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Top 5 Deal Breakers in Dating

We all have different deal-breakers, and some we may realize right away, others we only learn over time, by dating people that trigger a viceral reaction within us. The beauty of having a ready-made list is that it will spare you and the other person from wasting each other's time. Here are the top 5 dealbreakers I hear about most often:

 1. Drama queens- Few of us want drama in our personal lives-- especially those of us that already have to deal with this enough during the day. After an intense day at work, most people want to come home to peace and enjoy some down time with their loved ones.

 2. Narcissists- Who wants to be with someone that is totally self-absorbed? A healthy partnership requires two people that can take each other's thoughts and feelings into consideration; you need two people that are willing to explore options and negotiate compromises. Someone that lacks thoughtfulness and can only focus on his/her own wants and desires is not going to be a very good partner.

 3. Control freaks- Those that always want to be the one in power, make all the decisions, and have their will reign over others tend to view everything as a power struggle. We already have to deal with this during the day, who wants to deal with this on our off hours? Also, most of us in the Western world were raised with democratic beliefs. To live with a dictator goes against all our fundamental beliefs, and sooner or later, there will be an uprising.

 4. Players- Obviously we all have to start off by playing the game, but some of us are able to focus when someone worthwhile comes along, and others have a problem committing to anyone. Those that are addicted to playing the field, who always have a wandering eye, are never going to be ones you can trust.

 5. Cling-Ons- These are the ones who fail to respect boundaries. Most of us need our own space, some more than others. Those that are super clingy and needy have a hard time giving others their space. They tend to be insecure and become paranoid. At first their attention may seem flattering, but it does eventually grow old and annoying, especially when you just want a day to yourself and they cannot get it.

Over the last several years, I have sadly suffered through dates with all of these, and far worse. The good thing is my ability to play 20 questions has become sharper than ever, and I can now cut through crap at the speed of light. Hopefully with this list in mind, you can too! Just remember, the bad dates not only serve as learning experiences, they also help you appreciate a normal human being when s/he comes along. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beware of the Baggage from Childhood

My parents are both immigrants, and like most immigrants that come here, their hope was to find a better life in the U.S. Their focus tends to be on survival and the need to make money for their families. I'm sure it was the same with the early settlers that came to this country, but overtime, I find that those families that have been here for mulitiple generations, start to emphasize happiness-- they have somehow learned that money does not necessarily buy that. How you define success is a key part to who you are, and sadly many have not yet escaped the influence of their ancestors who perhaps tended to measure success based on how much you made and were able to acquire. An alternate view, which was instilled in me early on by my alma maters and peers starting with Andover, was to look at what you did with the gifts you have been given in life, and how you share them with others. Sadly, I have learned over time that not everyone got the same memo prior to entering the workforce or getting married. When you have two people with completely different views on work and life, and when many of these views are deep-seeded from childhood, it could be a recipe for disaster. I've seen it happen time and time again in my work, especially when the issue of core values comes up with how you want to raise your children. Having one parent that believes in the best private education at all cost, while the other is fine with public school, can become a major issue-- same is true with religion, or a couple's view on savings. I don't believe these issues are insurmountable if the parties can reach a compromise, and the only way to do that is through a series of difficult discussions where each one reveals the reasons behind his/her own beliefs so they can both get to the root of the issue. We all carry a lot of baggage from our childhood, and it does seep out into our adult relationships, as well as the choices we make as parents. Sometimes, to make up for the sins of our parents, we go to the other extreme, and we need to be cognizant of not just the short-term but long term implications of our actions. If we can develop a system of checks and balances for our own sanity, we should be able to keep the good and weed out the bad. Although we cannot change the past, we can certainly shape our own futures. We do not have to be perfect, we just need to let our kids and partners see that we are trying our best.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Importance of Intimacy

This week, the Huffington Post released an article about the importance of sex in a marriage, and the author highly recommends 4 times a week as a healthy frequency. Another report I read a few months ago talks about the need to spend 42 minutes being intimate with your partner. My guest on yesterday's tv show emphasized the need to spend at least 30 minutes per day of quality time with your kids, and then another 30 minutes just for the couple. I could not agree more with everything these experts are saying, but I find it hilarious to see how others react. So many people start to argue that it just isn't possible to have regular and frequent intimacy when you have kids; others want to negotiate on the amount of time; some jokingly ask me if the clock starts ticking when you pour that first glass of wine! Let's put it all in perspective-- we spend at least 40 hours a week at work, if not more; another 50 hours sleeping (hopefully). Is it really that hard to carve out 7 hours a week for your family-- 3.5 for your kids and another 3.5 for your partner/spouse? Few of us will be remembered for our work efforts, and none of us will be remembered for getting some shut eye, but the ones who love you and will carry on your legacy are the ones that get the least amount of your time. If you look at it that way, making time for the ones you love should not be a hardship at all. Relationships are a labor of love-- enjoy the labor and you will reap rewards far beyond the instant gratfication of those 42 minutes in bed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making It Last

Tonight, my new tv show "Making It Last" will air for Montgomery Municipal Cable. The irony is not lost on me that I am a divorce lawyer trying to help families make it last. The fact is, after 14 years of helping families split up, I would like to see if I can do the reverse and help them stay together-- maybe not under one roof, but at least to embrace the notion that you can still be a family under two separate roofs. Since my own divorce, this has been my own reality, and so I know it can be done.

Two people that bring children into this world may not make great roommates, but they can still work together to be good parents. Our kids deserve for us to make our best efforts, and there are so many wonderful resources in this area to ensure that families have ever chance at succeeding if their goal really is to produce a healthy, well-adjusted child.

The journey that got me to the point where I am find myself today was by no means straight-forward or methodically plotted out. Many people opened my eyes along the way, and shared their ideas for a better future. Because  I deal with very difficult issues every day, and I've seen more pain than many my age can bear to imagine. To try and stop the hemoraging of key relationships is not an easy task, and this is why I'm enlisting all my friends and contacts to assist me with show ideas and guests, who can come and share their expertise to provide families with tips on how to effectively address common, yet difficult issues many of us will face in our lifetime.

It is no accident, that my first guest, is a couples counselor, who will focus on the need for people to communicate and work on resolving conflict. Throughout the segments, I'm sure I will reveal parts about my own life, and hopefully others will laugh with me as I talk about certain crazy events that I've had to face in my (almost) four decades here on Earth. The fact that the child from a broken home went on to become a divorce lawyer that promotes healthy relationships is pretty funny in itself. I am convinced that God has a sense of humor, so I'm just going to embrace my fate and give it my best shot at helping others with Making It Last!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Returning to Your Roots

There is an old saying, which I love-- you need to give a child roots and wings. The roots will keep him/her grounded, but they need wings to fly. This past weekend, I was able to return to Andover, which holds a very special place in my heart. 25 years ago, I was given the opportunity to attend this elite boarding school in New England, thanks to a scholarship, which changed my life forever. Funny thing is that my best friend, whom I met on my very first day as we both settled into our dorm together, was actually a legacy child, very much acclamated to the New England culture that I found so foreign. Among the many ironies in this friendship that has spanned over half my lifetime, is the fact that at first, she was quite homesick and really just wanted to go home. I could not comprehend this logic at all-- to me, it seemed like we were in paradise. This beautiful, safe campus, which tried to promote a completley egalitarian society, rewarded us based on talent and merit, regardless of where we came from, and it was instilled into us early on that our gifts were meant to be shared. We were taught that with the gift of knowledge came the responsiblity of helping others, and the importance of doing something you loved, pursuing a career that made you happy, regardless of money, was drilled into me at a very early age during these formative years. At the time of course, I had no idea the impact this would have on me, but now as I look at the choices I have made in my life, I can see exactly how my boarding school years made me who I am today. Not many can comprehend this experience, which is actually why the friendships formed at Andover are so special. Those years had a profound impact on all of us, and I am so glad I went back this year, right before I hit a milestone birthday. Seeing my dear friend, and being able to share some of our memories, in addition to catching up about the present and talking about our goals for the future, was exactly what I needed to regain some perspective. As my dad said, sometimes we get so caught up with things, we cannot see what those around us are able to see. I may not see my friend very often, but she is one of my star rocks that grounds me. To witness our transformations from teenagers, to young professional women, to getting married and becoming mothers, and to now be able to help each other as we struggle with work-life balance while we both manage our own companies is truly a special gift. No one could ever have predicted how much we would mean to each other when our paths first crossed as we moved into Abbey House back in 1987. Despite the sad fact that our dorm no longer exists, and most of Abbot's campus has been completely revamped, returning to my roots was a cathartic experience beyond words, and I encourage everyone that has been through a life-altering event or is about to face a milestone birthday (in my case it was both) to return to your roots and let those buried memories surface. You will then appreciate all the more the wings you were given and the flight you were able to enjoy on your journey of life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Phases of Dating

Phase I- this is the fun part, where you go on some fun dates, play 20 questions, determine if there is any chemistry, and if so, you may plan fun weekend getaways together. This phase is the one full of adrenaline, and it is like a cocaine high for many-- I always tell people to just enjoy it while it lasts.

Phase II- you have a talk about being exclusive and establish some check-in procedures. You also start to leave things at each other's place-- small things, like a toothbrush, shampoo, maybe a change of clothes. You start enjoying down time, just cooking at home and watching t.v. You meet each other's friends and family, and go on an extended vacation together.

Phase III- for those that just want to have fun, they are pretty happy just staying in Phase II-- and typically (althougth not always) women are the ones that want to push the issue of where are we heading with this? Phase III is hard, and this is why many will never get there. For those who deluded themselves into thinking that they could coast once they got to Phase III, they are in for a rude awakening.

Change is scary for a lot of people, and merging not just households, but two separate lives together, is not easy. Some couples get bogged down by all the details, and when you are trying to blend two families with kids, this can be particularly challenging. If you are lucky enough to get to Phase III, let me just say this- plans do not have to be made overnight, nor do you have to tackle these issues all alone. Weigh your options about schools and available, affordable housing. Have honest and open discussions about realistic goals, including household budgets. Share your credit scores and sketch out your financial picture for the other. Read books about blended families, seek expert advice if you need to from a qualified mental health professional, get a legal opinion if you think you need a cohabitation agreement or prenup. If you truly love each other, you will work together to find solutions to each issue that will arise as you make more long-term plans and increase your level of commitment to one another. Remember, a home cannot be built overnight-- you need to lay a proper foundation. Of course, even when you do, there is no guarantee it will all work out, but at least you gave it your best shot. If it doesn't work out, then it wasn't meant to be, and you can resume the phases of dating all over again. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TomKat's Divorce- A Lesson for Everyone

For those who will miss tonight's segment on Acesso Legal with my comments, here are some of the key points to be gleaned from Tom & Katie's divorce: (1) 50% of divorces occur within the first 7 years of marriage, so it is of no surprise that if things started going awry here, this was the perfect time to bail; (2) there is a 17 year age difference here-- Tom just turned 50, and Katie is 33. Research shows that women really grow into their own skin in their 30's and motherhood significantly changes many of us. Our priorities change, and children often become our primary focus, much to the chagrin of some partners. So, here we have a young mother going through a major transformation, and meanwhile, Tom, who is now 50 and already accustomed to being a father, is simply in a different stage of life. (3) If you have 2 parents with differing views on major issues, like religion, medical care and education, you are going to have some major clashes. These are fundamental areas that parents have to reach an agreement on if they are going to successfully co-parent their children. If the two can't decide, then some arbitrary person hearing the custody matter will wind up issuing an order that everyone will have to live with whether they like it or not. (4) Although I am not privy to the details of the prenup between these two, it is common practice for us to insert provisions about confidentiality in the event of a divorce and the need to quickly cooperate with mediation or a Collaborative Divorce, in order to resolve any issues outside of court and free from public scrutiny. So, while many might be shocked by the divorce and/or how quickly things got resolved, the fact is I am not-- but I am very proud of these two parents for working things out so expeditiously and privately in their daughter's best interest. While the marriage did not work out, they have a beautiful little girl, who deserves to have regular and frequent contact with both her parents, and a life with minimal drama. Kudos to Tom and Katie for not dragging her-- and us-- through a horrible public tug-of-war!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kids & Love

This weekend, I was enjoying a book that a psychologist friend gave me: The 5 Love Languages of Children by Drs. Chapman & Campbell. I'm hoping to have her talk about this a bit when she comes on my new show, Making It Last, which will start airing this month. For all parents out there, I highly recommend this quick read, and the best endorsement I have is really my own experience with my son, who asked me about the book. When I explained the concept, I also clued him into my top two languages-- touch and quality time. He thought about it and clued me into his, which I already suspected based on my observations. Then we talked about the importance of learning the love language of our loved ones so we can make sure they are receiving the message that we love them. I also relayed to him that the book stated that at a certain age boys will not want public expressions of affection from their mothers, and that I have thought about it and prepared myself to deal with that reality whenever he felt it was time. Turns out, that time has come. We agreed on a fist bump as our public sign of affection, and after a few tries, I had it down. Today, I did the fist bump in the morning as he headed off to camp & all was good. When we got home in the evening, I went to fix him a snack, and out of no where he came and gave me a huge bear hug. Amazing-- I heard him and he heard me! I may not be able to teach a dyslexic child to read, and his gifted mathematical brain will soon surpass my abilities in that arena, but what I am confident of is that I, along with every other parent willing to put in the time, can pass onto the next generation the gift of love. We all need to learn that conflict is a normal part of life, especially when you have two completely different personalities living under one roof, but by communicating our feelings and being open to options, we can work out our differences and enjoy unconditional love from our families. All I can say is that it is never too late to learn new things-- thank you Drs. Chapman & Campbell!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Embracing M.A.D. in Dating

Over the last 15 years, while helping couples dissolve their marriages, I've noticed one glaring problem that people could easily be more cognizant of upfront, while dating: power imbalances. These are never healthy in a relationship. For example, if one person controls all the finances while the other is completely incapable of balancing a check book; if one person is far cuter and more out-going than the other, or if one person's intellectual capacity far surpasses the other, these are all imbalances that can make the other one feel insecure, over-powered or perhaps unworthy.

Maladaptive behaviors tend to creep into these relationships, which eventually lead to their demise, and then I get to see these power imbalances play out in the divorce. Having seen enough wreckage, I would like to suggest that while dating, more people embrace the concept of M.A.D.-- mutually assured destruction. It worked for years during the Cold War, and I believe it would transfer well into our vision of relationships in the 21st century, where the traditional marriage is dying out and increasingly we see people marrying their equals.

There is an incredible amount of power that stems from the knowledge that you both have other options, that neither one needs the other to survive, that either one could pull the trigger at any time. In a relationship where power imbalances do not exist, and both are aware of M.A.D. as a distinct possibility, without ever actually threatening the other.   It is more of a beautiful realization of true free will-- you stay with your partner not out of need, but by choice-- because you choose to share your life with that other person and you relinquish the power to go nuclear.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Trading Assets When Dating- Another Harsh Truth

There are some harsh realities that people do not generally talk about, but I think these truths are worth sharing so that people will have realistic expectations in the dating world, so here it goes... There are 3 things we all trade in the open market when dating: (1) sex appeal (2) money and (3) influence. The sexier, richer or more well connnected you are, the more appealing your package is to a potential partner, and therefore the more power you will have, and the greater your options will be while out on the prowl. Guys are quite visual by nature, so chances are a woman's sex appeal will matter a lot to them. Women are less visual, and will be more forgiving in the looks department, assuming other qualities they care about like emotional availability or financial security are present. Guys that want to have a family are going to target women (aka "breeders") between the ages of 25-35. Those that are done having kids may be more interested in a woman that is about 35-45, which are peek years for women in terms of looks and their careers. The more power a guy has based on the package he can offer, the pickier he can be, so unless you are the total package, it is simply not realistic to set your sights too high. Same holds true for women-- if you have great sex appeal, money and influence, why on earth would you date down??? No one wants to settle, but let's be real- over-reaching will also get you no where. When you are out in the market, you have to be aware of the assets you have and make a realistic investment in your time pursuing others that compliment your package.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Love & Money- The Harsh Truth

Last month, I was part of a panel discussion in DC on Love & Money, where I was able to describe the kinds of instruments family lawyers can devise to protect assets and ensure a fair division of household expenses. My t.v. segment on Money Matters, which aired in June, also covered this subject, and on several of the recent radio shows for Sirius XM, I was also asked to comment on the increased reliance of various contracts that govern how couples handle money and share assets. Clearly this is becoming an increasingly hot-button topic among couples. The harsh truth is that couples cannot ignore money discussions, and it will continually be a work in progress for families to work on a realistic budget, saving for retirement and/or college, and paying down debt.

Two people may be in love and yet have completely different views about money. Rather than ignore these differences, they need to talk about them. Unfortunately, many avoid money talks and sometimes naively believe that as long as two people have good incomes, there shouldn't be any problems. In fact, what I've seen is that the more people make, the more they tend to over-extend themselves with expensive homes, cars, etc. Furthermore, those that come from wealthy families have significant external pressure to protect that family wealth, and emotions can run high when legal discussions are involved.

Most lawyers are generally trained to detach from emotions, and once our clients share their concerns with us, it is simply our job to draft the right legal documents to address their concerns, including: (1) cohabitation agreements, (2) prenups, (3) postnups, (4) trusts or wills, (5) family limited partnerships, and in the unfortunate event that things do not work out (6) Separation Agreements. These are all part of my every day vocabulary, and my firm belief is that as long as people can articulate their concerns and find common ground, the legal contracts drafted should preserve the peace and protect everyone.

For those that have a problem discussing money with their partners, seeking the advice of a neutral person, such as a couple's counselor or certified financial profession to facilitate these difficult talks might be a wise investment. Let's face it, money talks are inevitable and can make or break a couple. Having realistic expectations of what each party can and will contribute financially on the road to happily-ever-after is perhaps not very romantic, but is a reality of life and love in the 21st century.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What Happens When Acts of God Intervene?

This weekend, the DC Area was hit by a terrible storm that left thousands without power. Many trees in my neighborhood fell and destroyed several cars. One tree behind my building caused a power line to go down and a fire broke out; meanwhile the building next door had a tree fall on top of the roof. In the middle of the night, I had to pack an emergency bag and wait for instructions on whether to evacuate-- but our egress was blocked by trees on the road, so immediate escape was not an option. Somehow, my son slept through everything-- completely oblivious to the chaos around us. The next morning, with the threat of peril behind us, I have to admit I felt wiped out. In the last 18 months, this area has been hit with a severe snowstorm aka Snowmaggeden, two earthquakes, a hurricane, and now this tornado. It is almost as if these Acts of God are trying to highlight a reality I've been trying to ignore for some time: we are all human; no one is invincable. This begs the question- can I really face another 7 years without a partner? I humbly admit the answer is no. Thankfully, I did not have to dwell on these thoughts for very long. Somehow, despite an inablity to phone and text anyone, my email describing the situation reached the person who has become an important part of my life over the last several months, and he left his cart full of groceries and rushed over to check on me. I did not have to spend the next 24 hours alone, and even though all our plans were disrupted because the movie theater did not have power, restaurants were either closed or packed, and traffic was a nightmare due to lights being out almost everywhere, together we were able to enjoy a peaceful weekend, and I was made aware of a key point in my quest for love that I have been denying for years: every now and then, it is okay to give up the savior role and instead be the one in need of a rescuer.