Dating 101

Welcome to the very first edition of a little series of articles I’m writing about dating.

Disclaimer: the following opinions are my own as a straight female dating straight males. Some readers may disagree and that’s cool, we all have our experiences and opinions. At the end of the day, dating is about respect and we need more respect and empathy in this world.

First, let’s talk red flags.

A red flag is a warning sign behaviour that signals the person you’re talking to or on a date with (or already in a relationship with!) is not a good fit.

Here are my top 10:

  1. He talks about himself. Constantly.
  2. He calls himself an asshole. When someone tells you who they are, believe them.
  3. He’s all talk, no dates. No, Netflix and chill is NOT a date.
  4. His eating habits are atrocious. He doesn’t drink water or consume fruit or vegetables EVER?
  5. He treats waitstaff poorly. Pay attention to how someone treats retail workers, servers, etc.
  6. He doesn’t clean up after himself. Who wants to live in a pigsty other than a pig?
  7. Hygiene. If he doesn’t know how to clean himself, that’s a dealbreaker.
  8. Wanting to move in together too quickly.
  9. Lack of commitment. He knows you’re looking for an engagement and marriage, but he hems and haws over it, makes excuses, says marriage only leads to divorce, it’s a ‘cash grab,’ says ‘marriage is just a piece of paper’… Sometimes this goes on for years!
  10. He pushes for sex. Signs of coercion include cajoling, making you feel guilty for saying no, giving the silent treatment, and outright anger. Sex is not a right.

I have ignored the above listed red flags in past dating situations. Obviously, those relationships did not work out well. Now that I clearly know what I DON’T want and what I REFUSE to tolerate, I can do better in the future.

Next time, I’ll talk about my ‘green flags.’

Journal entry from September 21, 2008 (age 18)

“I just noticed, really noticed, that autumn is here again. When I was driving home today I saw that the leaves have changed – the red and orange are taking over the green, and it made me ask myself why I’m here. Am I here to be a lover, a friend, a wife, a daughter? Am I meant to become someone great, for the world to see, or just to be seen as great by the people I love, the people I’m lucky enough to be loved by? I don’t know the answers. I really wish I did.

At this point, this threshold, it’s hard to see past the next few weeks – because I’m stuck at home, not really free to pick up and take off whenever, wherever I please. That’s the freedom I crave, and patience has never been one of my virtues.

Right now I want to be a writer, an editor, and a mother. Right now I’m scared, so scared of losing everyone I know and love. I feel cold all over thinking about my loved ones being gone one day.

I think I feel too much.

That plus my penchant for worrying do not go well together, like champagne and beer. Ugh.

How do you get rid of the fear??”

Wordy Wednesday

Have you ever felt an affinity to a time or place you’ve never physically experienced?

Felt drawn to a period of history for no logical reason?

I enjoy the concept of past lives; of reincarnation. It is comforting to me that perhaps my soul has been here on earth before, always learning – forever learning, even.

When I was a child, around 8 years old, I checked out a book about children who lived through the Jewish Holocaust. Reading their stories broke my heart. Imagining myself in their place, wondering if I would have had the same courage in the face of death. I went on to read Anne Frank’s diary, along with every personal account I could get my hands on. (Just last week I finished The Light Of Days: The Untold Story Of Women Resistance Fighters In Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion. It’s an honest, unflinching and brutal look at what women went through in Hitler’s ghettos during World War II; I highly recommend reading the book).

Other time periods I feel an affinity to: 1700s Russia, 1700s France, 1400s-1600s England, and Cleopatra VII’s Egypt.

The word affinity can be a noun or an adjective. It first appeared around 1275–1325; via Old French from Latin affīnitāt – connected by marriage, from affīnis bordering on, related.

From vocabulary.com: “If you get along with someone very well, you have an affinity with them. Sometimes opposites attract, so you might feel a strange affinity to someone who is seemingly very different from you. When you are attracted to someone or something a great deal, we say that you have an affinity, a natural connection.”

From definitions.net: “A natural attraction or feeling of kinship to a person or thing.”

In sociology, affinity refers to kinship of spirit.

Cult of Personality

I love a good personality quiz.

Today I found the (free! Unless you want the entire report) HIGH5 Personality Test. After 100 questions, you find out your top 5 strengths.

Here are mine:

1. EMPATHIZER

Your objective is to be empathetic to others’ emotions. No one can step into the others’ shoes better than you – it comes so naturally to you. You might not agree with every perspective and emotion, but most importantly you are able to understand what the person is going though. It allows you to have personalized approach to everyone, to see their differences and specialties, to include them and to treat fairly. Naturally, it draws others to you, as you know exactly how they feel. In a team, such a strength based on kindness can be essential for mitigating conflicts by making sure all team members are aware of each other’s emotions and challenges.

2. STRATEGIST
Your objective is to see the big picture. Have you heard about ‘taking the helicopter view’? In your case, you are constantly on this helicopter! That’s not even a skill, it’s a special way of seeing things – a special perspective on the world at large, where everything is interconnected. While others could be confused by your short-terms steps, in your mind you have a clear multi-step strategy on how to arrive at the desired outcome and to avoid paths leading nowhere. Such a strategist is an essential asset for any team determined to find a clear direction in a complex situation.

3. THINKER
Your objective is to think. Some get excited by exercising their biceps or triceps, you – by stretching your ‘brain muscles’ through deep thinking. It does not necessarily mean you are a very focused person. It just means you enjoy the mental activity and meaningful conversations. For your mind journeys, you perceive yourself as the best companion. This introspection allows you to digest complex information and ideas before communicating about it with the surrounding world. Who wouldn’t like to have a team member who can simplify even most sophisticated concepts in a way that a 3-year-old would understand?

4. COACH
Your objective is to develop people’s potential. Contrary to what others might think, you believe that every person has the potential for development. None of the people have achieved the ultimate level of excellence – there is always space to grow. You perceive it as a personal mission to help others utilize their potential and to experience success. As the result, you look for ways to facilitate their learning process – from challenging their thoughts in a discussion to creating environments which would facilitate learning process. You are one of those leaders that really care about the development of team members and they really appreciate it.

5. PHILOMATH
Your objective is to learn new things. Due to your love of learning people tend to say you are a very curious person. You like to experiment with different styles of learning as well – in the end, there is something to learn from that as well, right? As it’s the processes itself that excite you, you are not necessarily interested in becoming a subject matter expert. Instead you prefer learning something fast and then shift to a new thing to learn. Thanks to this strength, you learn very fast and thrive in short projects and dynamically changing environments. Needless to say, you will always be the one to contribute with new knowledge to your team as well.


This Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test is one of my favourites, as is this one – it has really in-depth results and cute graphics. I am INFP-T by the way; a less assertive and more ‘turbulent’ form of the Mediator / Healer type.

From Twitter

Last, I like the Enneagram Type Test. There are 9 types in all; I am Type 2 – The Giver/The Helper.


I could go on and on about quizzes and personality types. I love knowing more about myself and exploring the different, and often contradictory, aspects of my personality.

Any quiz recommendations? Let me know!

Rainy Days

Rainy days are perfect for so many of my favourite things: reading, napping, writing, and cuddling with my puppy.

Inspiration doesn’t hit me like it used to. I blame the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic. I obsess over what’s happening, and what could happen. I frame these thoughts in a negative way. But I know I need to switch my thinking and not dwell on the doom and gloom. We don’t have to go back to way things were; we have a chance to make the world better and to give our children hope.

So more often than not, I am weighed down by the heavy things. I think, “Why bother writing about love, friendship, or anything light-hearted? The world is crashing down upon us in so many ways – there’s no time for fluff, for laughter, for light!”

But this is exactly the time for such things.

The following is a poem I read recently that really resonates, so I wanted to share it:

I cannot tell you what lies ahead,
but I can tell you: you will grow.

Your ability to keep going each day
is a sign of courage on its own.

I know that peace feels far away
as you try to make sense of all the change,
and I just hope you can remember this:

You do not have to make sense of it all
in order to be worthy of peace.

To be the one keeps breathing
in the unknown is a brave and miraculous thing.

Learning to exhale is no small feat.
You are doing brave things.
Yes, you are doing brave things.
Even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

By Morgan Harper Nichols (on IG @morganharpernichols)

Harry Potter

In 2001, I was 11 years old.

On November 16 of that year (my birthday!), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had its first showing in my small city. My best friend’s father worked at the movie theatre, so my best friend and I were there almost every weekend.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I had no idea what or who Harry Potter was, but it was the only kid-friendly movie showing that night. My best friend and I squeezed into the last available seats in the front row. We sat back, craned our necks, and the obsession began.

Over the Christmas holidays we devoured the books in the series that were already out. We excitedly discussed theories and covered our bedroom walls with printed photos of our favourite characters. We discovered the world of fanfiction – the website Schnoogle, in particular. We would read as many chapters as possible on our dial-up computers on school nights and on weekends.

I began writing my own fanfiction around this time (2001/2002). My pre-teen self wrote pages of self-insert Digimon: Digital Monsters stories, X-Men stories, and of course, notebooks-full of self- and friend-insert Harry Potter stories. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the characters as close to canon as possible. I have vague memories of my character dating Ron Weasley while carrying on an affair with Draco Malfoy behind his back. My 12 year old self loved drama just as much as my current 31 year old self does!

Pen to paper is still my preferred way of writing

Now, in 2021, I get to experience Harry Potter through a different lens. My 9 year old daughter has been watching the movies; we finished the first part of the 7th and final movie a few days ago. She knows bits and pieces of the story, but was never particularly interested in reading the books or watching the movies until lately (she wanted to know what her friends were talking about so she could join in). Dobby’s death hit me differently as an adult. My daughter was very upset about it, understandably. The second part of the final movie is going to be even worse, emotion-wise, I’ve warned her.

At least in the epilogue portion the badly-done old age makeup on the actors should make her laugh!

Remembrance Day

In 2000, I was in 5th grade. In November of that year, we were tasked with memorizing the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. On Remembrance Day, each one of us faced the class and recited the poem.

All these years later, I remember the words.

Today stirs up a lot of feelings. My dad joined the Canadian Armed Forces when he was 18. He was inspired by his own father’s service; he wanted to help people and make the world a better place.

So I grew up on military bases around Canada. I knew my dad had a very important job. His job took him away from us for months at a time. As I got older, I would hold back tears during the schools’ Remembrance Day ceremonies. I thought of the times he was in war zones; the times he came back but some his friends and colleagues didn’t.

I remember when he was overseas in Afghanistan. I would hardly breathe when the news came on TV, waiting to see if his name and photo would flash across the screen.

The first time I saw my dad cry was when he said goodbye to us before his second tour. I was a teenager, and I did my best to hold it together for my parents.

He is retired now. I know that as a combat engineer and EOD specialist, he saw and experienced some (or a lot of) very bad things. He doesn’t talk about it.

So on Remembrance Day, I am thankful to all soldiers for their service. I hate that they experienced so many awful things; I hate war. All of the senseless death and destruction makes me physically ill. I hate that war is so often viewed as necessary.

We can do better.

Feeling It

The days are getting shorter. My favourite time of year is upon us! I love being able to go outside and feel a cool breeze. I’m not uncomfortably hot, I’m not uncomfortably cold – it’s perfect.

I like to take my puppy, Bailey, on long walks, letting her sniff and explore to her heart’s content. She’s endlessly curious and makes me smile every day.

Look at this face!

Every day is a fresh start. I’m really trying to be present in each moment.

Wordy Wednesday

Today’s word is sempiternal.

The word means eternal and unchanging; everlasting. Its origins are from Late Middle English: from Old French sempiternel or late Latin sempiternalis, from Latin sempiternus, from semper ‘always’ + aeternus ‘eternal’.

But in philosophy there is a distinction between eternal and sempiternal. Eternal implies something that is infinite outside the bounds of time, like God, while sempiternal is a more earthbound way to talk about forever. 

“The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, … to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why….”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Scratch

As writers, we know the hardest thing to do is to write.

I hold myself back. I acknowledge this. I am a procrastinator, through and through. “I’ll do it tomorrow” is a staple in my vocabulary. “I’ll write in my journal tomorrow.” “I’ll write a paragraph for a story idea tomorrow.”

Joke’s on me, right? Tomorrow never comes.

In these uncertain times, my usual anxiety is heightened; I feel scared, irritable, sad, angry, and numb, in the space of minutes. My emotions swirl around in a wheel, the colours all mixing and bleeding into each other.

I overeat all day, or I don’t eat all day.

Control is vital to me. It is a main source of my anxiety, it’s why I’m scared of flying on airplanes, it’s why I’m an annoying passenger in vehicles – I’m not in control so I can’t relax. But I can control food. I can’t control if my family members will get sick during this pandemic, but I can restrict my own eating. I can binge and shovel food into the gaping hole made of anxiety and stress and fear until it’s (very temporarily) filled and buried.

The current state of the world is wreaking havoc on my brain, body, and soul. No doubt about it.

I have a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist next week, thankfully. I was doing pretty well three months ago, when he last saw me. I’m looking forward to telling him what’s going on inside me. It will be a tiny bit of relief.

I have no support system; I have no one to lean on, no one to go to for advice or comfort.

I carry burdens by myself. It’s so heavy all the time. Crippling.

And yet… I continue to stand and move forward. Sometimes I stagger; sometimes I take a few steps back. I fall and scrape my knees and palms and cry.

But I get up. I always get up.

Hope is there; hope is all around us, you know.