Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fly On the Window

The fly on the window. What’s the analogy of that little ugly insect peering either into your window or out of it? Well, that became a topic of discussion between myself and a good friend at work. We both have the fly on the window syndrome. Let me explain.

My friend is blissfully married to a wonderful man she loves dearly, and her husband loves her in return. They have a beautiful home, wonderful grown children, grandchildren, and a great life together. She often shares with me her life, and I often share with her my own.

We have discovered over the years of our conversations that we are really both flies. I’m on the outside window peering in wishing I had a married life filled with love and family like she does. She’s on the inside window peering out wishing she could have moments of quiet, times alone, and the independence of single life. How odd!

Her window experience envies my freedom, especially when life overwhelms her. She thinks it would be great to occasionally come home to an empty house, not talk to anyone, spend the evening just doing whatever she wanted. In addition, my independence of not being tied down to another human being seems enticing too. There are times she’ll encourage me to just go for it, follow my dream, pick up and move, because there's nothing holding me back. Don’t get me wrong, she loves her husband, but there is a longing in her for space, private times, and no one around.

I, on the other hand, am the fly on the outside of the window peering in. I’m tired of coming home alone, having no one to talk to, spending the evening bored in a silent apartment that taunts my every move. I often hate my independence, though I’ve learned to deal with it. Frankly, it would be so nice to have a man to have dinner with, go to a concert, take a trip. I don’t care about the freedom to pick up and move anywhere. What’s the point if there’s no one to share your life with? I often think of the lyrics in a song,“I Want to Run to You" sung by Whitney Houston. Here are the poignant lines that hit home to my heart:

Each day, each day I play the role
Of someone always in control
But at night I come home and turn the key
There's nobody there, no one cares for me
What's the sense of trying hard to find your dreams
Without someone to share it with
Tell me what does it mean?

So yes, I guess in the end we are all flies on a window in some way. We are looking out or looking in wishing we had the lives on the other side of the plate glass longing for the things that lack in our own.

Oh well. I just hope somebody doesn’t pick up the newspaper and swat me! Now that would be the end of it, wouldn't it!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Marriage Advice From a Divorcee

You'll find my writing sprinkled throughout the Internet. I have articles on Helium, Hub Pages, and Squidoo. Sometimes I wonder if what I write does much good, and then something amazing happens ... I receive an email or comment. The article below has been posted for sometime on one of those sites. This week someone wrote and told me they were rethinking whether they should go ahead with a divorce that was about to be finalized after reading my frank confession and advice - words producing fruit. Even though this blog is dedicated to singles, I'd like to post the article here, because I wrote it from my own brokenness and from the lessons I learned through my divorce. Should God grant you the gift of remarriage, I wish you a successful and happy marriage next time around.

What marriage advice can a divorce person possibly give? It would seem divorcees would have very little advice to hand out, since we have failed at our own marriages. However, we often learn more about ourselves in retrospect than we do at the present moment.

It takes time to step back from the hurt, pain, and disappointment of a broken marriage. At the beginning of a divorce, there is a lot of blame. But after the dust settles, the tears have dried, the ink on the divorce papers have made their indelible mark, there comes a time when we see more clearly and we understand more fully what part we may have played in the dissolution of our own marriage.

What have I learned from being divorced? It takes two to make a marriage. Not just two people living side by side, but two equally willing people, who are committed to keeping the relationship alive, fresh, living, vital, and ever evolving. When either party becomes complacent in marriage, a slow creeping death ensues. Love and marriage requires diligence to make it successful. It's not something that stays alive on its own. Like a garden, it has to be tended, watered, weeded, fertilized, and watched over.

Successful marriages take commitment, forgiveness, sacrifice, compromise, and above all maturity. We often marry without these qualities in our lives, or we come into a relationship without a clear understanding of the work involved to keep a marriage healthy. Acts of love, respect, honesty, communication, and partnership are extremely important, and it's a juggling act to keep all of these actions in play throughout the seasons of married life. Marriage is an all-out effort, and the most intimate covenant relationship you'll ever enter into with another human being. Our ever changing throw away, give-up society plays havoc on our commitment. We're told if we don't like it, replace it. It's easier to walk away than to stay.

Many people ask the question: Should I get a divorce?

Statistics are alarming. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the following: The average age for a first divorce for males is 30.5 and females 29. The average age for a second divorce for males is 39.3 and females 37. The duration of first marriages that end in divorce is approximately 7 years, and the duration for second marriages is approximately 7 years. (Must be the 7-year itch!) Only 52% of all marriages make it to their 15th wedding anniversary, only 33% make it through to their 25th, and a slim 5% make it to their 50th. People who have divorced at least twice, have a 73% chance that their third marriage will fail too.

What's wrong? Is it because divorce is so easy and commitment is so hard? As humans, we haven't learned the basic skills of intelligent loving relationships that last. It's obvious, because statistics show we bring our mistakes from marriage to marriage, and couples find the pain of staying and working things out greater than the pain they may have to face in a divorce.

The decision to divorce should never be left as the last decision to be made in any marriage relationship. It's obvious as humans we're missing it somewhere after the rings go on our fingers. Our love is transient, convenient, and self enhancing. We have lost the skills to stay married, because we never learned them to begin with before we tied the knot. We married in the height of love and passion, but didn't consider the consequences or cost of what it takes to make love last.

Staying married is a decision we need to make at the beginning of the relationship that we will do absolutely everything in our power to make it work, whether it takes swallowing our pride, getting counseling, reading books, going to seminars, or forgiving daily the offenses that could pile up into ugly mountains. We need to make the effort to keep our marriages alive and not let them stagnate into divorce court. If you're at the breaking point now, it's not too late to reassess your vows and make that decision with your mate, if they are willing.

I'm reminded of a movie entitled Laws of Attraction staring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan that was released in 2004. They were both divorce lawyers who fell in love. One statement that stood out in that movie was the passion people showed in the divorce court. The character played by Pierce Brosnan asked the question, "Where was that passion in saving the marriage?"

Things I Learned From My Divorce
  • Don't try to change each other. You fell in love for a reason with that person. Why change them?
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don't keep stuff bottled up.
  • Speak the truth in love, not anger.
  • Don't lie to one another....ever.
  • Forgive and forget, forget, forget.
  • Keep romance alive at all costs.
  • Touch, hug, and kiss often.
  • It's not always about the sex.
  • If you're Christians, pray together ALWAYS and about EVERYTHING. If you're not, try it.
  • Be patient with one another.
  • Focus on the good in each of you.
  • Words can heal or kill a relationship. Watch what you say. A harsh hurtful word is like a nail. You might be able to pull it out and say your sorry, but you'll still leave a hole where it's been and scar a heart.
  • If things get hard, go to marriage counseling, read a book, talk to your pastor, attend a seminar. Be proactive to preserve your marriage. Don't be too proud to get help. Pride comes before failure.
  • Rule your money or it will rule you and your marriage.
  • Don't make big decisions alone about anything - make them together.
  • Marriage is like a checkbook. You both need to make deposits into the relationship. If you keep writing checks and taking from one another and never giving, your marriage checkbook becomes overdrawn - the late fees are relationship killers.
  • Remember the things you are thankful for in each other. Tell each other -- tell God.
  • Clean up, dress up, look good, and have a date once in a while.
  • Don't take each other for granted.
In summary, marriage is a gift, take care of it, and don't lose it. It's irreplaceable. Once lost, it may never be replaced or given again. Take it from someone who knows.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Relocating for Love

As you enter the world of online dating, you'll soon find out that you can search for your potential mate from 1 to 2,000 miles away or more. While this gives you a wide range of choices, it presents a wide range of problems. If your long-distance relationship succeeds and you fall in love, the next obvious course of action will be one of commitment. One of you will need to relocate so the two of you can be together. Here are some things to consider before you hire the moving van and pack your bags.

Housing Issues

Depending on how settled you are in the town in which you live, you may be giving up little or you may be giving up lots. There is little risk of loss if you currently live in an apartment, but there are potential risks should you own your own home. You should consider the following if you're a homeowner.

Will you gain or lose in the current marketplace? What expenses will you have in selling your home? Will the cost of a realtor eat up any equity you may have gained? Will you need to invest money to make any repairs to make my home marketable? Will the proceeds from the sale of your home give you enough cash to get started in a new location? Does it make more sense for you to keep your home as an investment and rent it out, just in case you need to return?

What you leave behind is important, but where you're headed. Do you have the money to move? Will you haul it yourself or hire a moving company to do so?Have you thoroughly checked out the housing situation in the town you're moving to? For example, rent and housing pricing, location, schools, shopping. What is the housing market like? Is it thriving or in a down swing?If you decide to move in with your new found love, what will you do with all your furniture and other items? Will you bring them? Will you store them? Will you sell them and just move with essentials?

Career Issues

Career issues are huge decisions. If you're not getting married right away, how will you take care of yourself? Have you checked the unemployment rate in the area you're moving to? Have you checked the median salary ranges for your career job type? Does it make more sense for you to relocate or for your partner? Who will lose the most if they quit their job? Will you move first and find a job when you arrive or will you find a job first and then move? What will you do about benefits if you're unemployed, such as health insurance? What will you do if you can't find work or a long period of time?

Family Issues

What about your family? Will you be breaking ties locally with close family members? Do you really wish to leave them? What about your lover's family? Will you be moving close to them and will they accept you as part of their world? What about children? Will you be relocating your child or children to a new area, new schools, and having them leaving their friends behind? What kind of support system will you give your children in the relocation process?

Relationship Issues

The fact that this relationship started on a long-distance note, gives it extra challenges for survival. Before you decide to relocate, you should be extremely certain of the following:
  • Have you spent enough time with this individual to truly know who they are?
  • Do you have a commitment for marriage or are you going just hoping it will come to that?
  • Have you thoroughly checked out this person, done background checks, etc. to make sure you're not being scammed?
  • Do you like their family and friends?
  • What will you do if after you move, it doesn't work out? Do you have a Plan B in place or any contingency backup plan?
  • Has this person committed to helping you in your relocation or will they let you sink or swim?
Personal Experience

The author has personal up-front experience on relocating for love. Having done so myself, I met someone online who lived 450 miles away. We became engaged after eight months. Our relationship consisted of telephone calls, occasional meetings, and tons of emails. I eventually made the decision to move, since we were going to be married, but had not set a date. His career was more settled than mine, so I made the sacrifices. I left a brand new home I had only been in for one year, a wonderful job, a thriving business on the side, and my son's senior year in high school.

The outcome? Three months after I got there, he got cold feet. I spent the next 18 months dating him, but couldn't find a job. The town in which he lived was "quaint," but economically depressed, small, and I was an outsider. No one would hire me. After 40 job interviews, I finally found a part-time job that paid $600 a month before taxes. He gave me no financial support, so I lived off of retirement money and paid steep penalties to the IRS for early withdrawal, plus outrageous taxes. I lost over $40,000.

Still cold in his marital commitment, I finally decided to return to my hometown and restart my life. After I returned, it took me another four months to find work, and eventually our relationship died a quick death. A few years later, he married another woman, who he found on the Internet that moved across state to be with him. I guess his feet were warmer this time around, and I hear he's miserable.

Before you make the decision to even start a relationship online with someone who lives far away, consider the potential costs There are success stories. Yes, some relationships have happy endings; however, not all moves for the sake of love are successful. I'm a prime example of live and learn.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Technology and Relationships

Recently I became a Twitter. I saw it mentioned on a cute Sprint commercial, so I checked it out. It's a social networking mini-blog. You can get on and "twit" anytime of the day from anywhere. Think of it as text messaging your life over the Internet for everyone to read. That's Twitter. I noticed quite of few businesses use it to drive traffic to their website, and I joined for that purpose to drive sales to my Phantom blog. I must say tweeting works. The more Twitter friends the more people click on your link and viola!

However, someone posted an absolutely hilarious link to YouTube about twitting that really hit home. I've posted a link below so you can watch it. When it is suggested that social networking doesn't necessarily mean you have "real friends," the reality to all the Twitters is devastatingly hilarious. I can't stop laughing when I watch it!

Social networking on the Internet is how "today's generation communicates." We make friends on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else we can pop up a profile and add friends. Is it really helping or is it a sign of our social depravity of having lost the ability to communicate face to face and make lasting relationships with real human beings?

I admit that I am as bad a the next person. MySpace was my first chosen place to make friends. Oh, I did meet real live people there, but I also met people who claimed to be friends that loved and cared for me, but I never knew their real names. I, on the other hand, told them everything about myself to prove my sincerity. In the end, anonymity on their part gave way to unpleasantness and a broken relationship. As I write this article, I sincerely challenge myself to consider the meaning of true friendship when you have no human contact and no idea who is behind a profile.

Then I went to Facebook. At least I found real people there with real names and have even enjoyed lunch with a few. People are more open about who they are in real life, which I think builds better relationships. It's a little more mature group of social networking individuals. but it's business as usual. I collect those little friend icons all over my page for self-affirmation and networking.

Now Twitter! I can tweet my thoughts at any moment and send them out in the airwaves! Between two Twitter profiles, I have nearly 800 fellow tweeters to tweet to! Yes, there's even Twitter jargon to learn.

Does all this social networking help us as singles or has it really contributed to the breakdown of relationships rather than the building of relationships? I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Our lives are busy and filled with devices that are suppose to make our lives easier. I agree in a lot of sense they do, but I think as humans we are also losing the ability to communicate face-to-face and express ourselves through our voice and have lost the art of basic social skills.

As I think about it, I wonder if it's contributed to the divorce rate, because we've lost the ability to sit down and communicate with one another. I think it's also increased the crime rate. Cyberbulling is now considered a Federal offense and an increasing problem over the Internet due to the anonymity it provides.

Do we really make friends online? Or is it like the video suggests, "none of you have any friends!" We're all duped into thinking these avenues will make lasting relationships and fill our loneliness - a profile, an icon, friend requests, friends accepted, and comments and posts on our pages. Technology is redefining the meaning of friendship drastically. Friendship is now a water-downed version called social networking with easy participation that costs little investment for us as real humans, except for our time.

As I write about the 19th century in my new novel, I see a different world where people met in public places like cafes, strolled public gardens, attended the opera, and met at social gatherings in homes. They strolled, they talked, they met face-to-face (rather than through a webcam) and made lasting relationships that evolved into love and marriage.

So has technology helped or harmed us? It's another one of those two-edged swords in our lives that can influence us either way. I've enjoy it, and I've been stung by it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to post a link to this article on Twitter. In the meantime, go have a good laugh at the video below.

None of You Have Any Friends!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Ever heard the term “worry wart”? It’s a great description of a person who is a consistent worrier. The wart is the unsightly blemish of worry that burdens your life!

Well, I’ll be the first to admit there are plenty of things to worry about these days as singles. Here’s a small list that can be expanded extensively with sub-categories of additional worries:

• Finances
• Losing our job
• Getting sick
• Gas prices
• War
• Natural disasters
• Another bad relationship
• Being single the rest of our lives

I’ve learned an interesting fact about myself. The older I get, the less I tend to worry. When I was younger, I worried about everything. I was overly cautious, never took risks, and always had the “What If’s” screaming at me every day. Why that voice has suddenly silenced, I don’t quite know, but I can speculate. It’s like the picture says – most things we worry about never happen. Surprisingly all those things I worried about didn't happen.

So what is worry? Is it worth it? Is it a waste of time? Does it do any good? I guess healthy worry about being cautious might be good, but worry about what tomorrow will bring probably isn’t. It seems we have more to worry about these days thanks to technology making our lives easier. We hear about every disaster of one sort or the other worldwide, and we can even watch it real time or after the fact everywhere on the news. Then a new bug like the swine flu comes out, and the media hypes it into a pandemic that will eventually kill us all. Then there’s the wars, the end of the world, global warming, and the list goes on and on.

As singles, what do we do about worry? For me, I’ve sort of come to that point in life to stop wasting my time and energy over worry. I try and stay away from all the media hype, because it only breeds fear that leads to worry. When I feel overwhelmed, I take a moment and say a quick prayer and cast all my cares on the big guy upstairs. Whether you believe He’s there or not, it helps to throw your worry onto someone else to carry it.

So stop worrying! Here’s a couple good thoughts:

Matthew 6:27 - Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?

Matthew 6:34 -Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25 -Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…

Well, if the Lord in heaven is telling me not to worry, I guess I won’t bother.

Peace out!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My First Work Released

Hello dear friends! Today Lessons from the Phantom of the Opera was released through Xlibris in the United States. Here is how the process works.

It's been posted on my author site at: Xlibris - Vicki Hopkins, Author

It will be available for sale in 24-48 hours through Xlibris only.

The next step in the process is worldwide distribution. Registration has been submitted to Ingram, and that submission process takes 30 days to complete. Afterward Lessons From The Phantom of the Opera will be available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Borders.com approximately 30-60 days later.

Xlibris will only fill orders placed in the United States. They do not process international orders. For those, you must wait until worldwide distribution is complete.

The price is $19.99 through Xlibris and $11.99 through resellers.

Once again, I want to thank everyone for your support and kindness. My dream has come true, and I hope you enjoy my words, pick up your pen, and write all over it! The book contains all of my posts on my blog and is 163 pages in length. After each post there is a page called Box 5 that contains a section of questions for you to ponder on how the story reveals itself to you, along with a place for you to write your own personal reflections. I guess you can call it your Phantom of the Opera journal.

Big hug to you all who have followed me on this journey through Phantom-land.

(P.S. My Author Bio is undergoing extensive revisions and should be updated shortly.)