ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ AKA ‘Looking for Love in the All the Wrong Places’


I have always been fascinated by reality (beware of loose terminology) television because of my profession in the field of psychology.  The show most perplexing and disturbing by far is ‘The Bachelor’.   The official show descriptions says, “twenty-four women are given the unique opportunity to find love” Mmmm. Find love? (or make an ass of yourself or lose the little self-esteem that you have).  I think the majority of the viewing public see it as a form of entertainment and most know there is nothing ‘real’ about it.  I often wonder how the women contestants missed that memo and why (for the love of God) someone doesn’t tell them?!   

Oh, duh (light bulb)!   That would ruin the fun if you’re idea of entertainment is watching a train careening into the side of a mountain.  Holy matrimony, Batman.  Maybe there’s some part of this pathetic display that makes the rest of us feel superior.  It’s kind of like a Hunger Games where the bloodied bodies of teenagers are replaced with drunken, blubbering beauties with mascara streaked faces who can’t stop saying things like, “I thought we really connected,” and “I’ve got so much more to offer than her.”

I have only seen random episodes over the years, but am not immune to the magnetic pull.  I have had to live with the sick shame the morning after when I awake to the memory of watching a full episode and at times (gasp), liking it!!!  I have yelled at the television and laughed at the empty and ridiculous conversations between the women and Prince Bachelor Charming which seem to never change.

Am I the only one who has found myself rooting for one of these women to say something like, “You seem like a very nice person, but I’m not sure you’re the right one for me.  Goodbye and good luck.”?  I guess, again, it could be envy because many of my friends and I have dated hundreds (well, okay thousands) and not found Mr. Right.  I know these men are quite the package, but is ABC so good that they find the perfect match for thirty women every season?   Math is not my strong suit, but even I know that doesn’t add up right.  I suppose the question above is rhetorical because we all know that it’s really about the chase, not the

I would love ABC to select a nerdy and non-worldly bachelor once and see what happens, maybe someone like Gomer Pyle.  “Well golleee, Jessica, sequins sure do look good on you.”  The outcome probably wouldn’t change.  I can hear the camera interview now.  “He’s just so sweet.  I just love how when given the choice between caviar and bologna, he felt comfortable enough to pick the bologna.  We really connected.  I see a future with him.”  The psychology which allows these women to get sucked in is twofold; their hope for love and a need to win.  Truth be told, these are common human qualities which make us all vulnerable to manipulation.  We all feel worthy and validated when we are chosen above others.  Maybe the show should be named ‘Battle for the Bachelor’.

The creators and production staff, not unlike the hunger gamekeepers from The Capitol in Panem, are forever switching up the circumstances and controlling things behind the scene.  Their tools are innocent things such as roses, hot tubs, exotic locales, and wine.  But when mixed with cameras, competition, clever editing and young women desperate for love (or attention), it becomes a wicked elixir sure to lead to heartbreak and embarrassment (oh, and ratings) or at least a good cry on the bathroom floor.thPDURHRAM  

As far as alcohol, I thought it was widely known not to operate heavy machinery when under its influence.  Only that doesn’t apply to all brains, now does it?  (Woops.  That sounded like the statement of a ‘mean girl’ which I am not, so scratch that.)   I feel sad for them more than anything because I remember myself at that age, vulnerable and somewhat clueless about so much.  It’s one of Erickson’s life stages of psychosocial development, right?  No?!  Well, right between Identity vs. Role Confusion and Intimacy vs. Isolation, it should say Blindly Unaware vs. Aha! I See the Light.  Hopefully, most of us master this conflict (or at least see a flicker or a dim glow at some point).

So, if you hate the show’s misleading premise, ruthless tactics, and overall unethical style, I completely understand you.  If you love the chance to escape reality in this show’s drama, suspense and mesmerizing interactions, I completely understand you.   ABC will never be able to flash the program message ‘No hopeful, young, and single women were harmed in the filming of this show’, but I‘m sure they have plenty of signed consents to keep them honest.  In the end, I hope none of these women walk away too emotionally scarred.  I also hope they eventually find the happiness of a true, deep and meaningful love.  In fact, I wish that for us all!


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Posted in humor, love, women | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

New Year, New Moon, and Old Sadness

world moonI am just as energized and optimistic about the coming year as many of you. I intended to start the year with an uplifting message in my usual inspirational manner. I cannot do that, because above all I must be real and true. The truth is that January the 1st was a mixed bag of feelings and reflections following my encounter with a man I’ll call John.

Johnny is a thirty something year old man who, as a child, was a client on my caseload. I rarely think of the children with whom I worked as a foster care and adoption case manager in the eighties. Johnny, however, is the one who has crossed my mind most frequently throughout the years. From the time he was 11 to 15 years of age, I was the worker who saw him through foster placements, a failed adoption, a psychiatric hospitalization and a group home placement. We logged hundreds of miles together in my car as I drove him to therapy appointments, sibling visits, and once to meet his estranged birth father in prison.

A few weeks ago he found me on Facebook and sent me a message. After a few brief and cryptic contacts, I suggested we meet. It just so happened to fall on the first day of the year. I never hesitated to see him, probably wanting it as much as he did, both of us curious. I always suspected the worse for Johnny as his fate seemed somehow pre-destined and beyond the control of anyone, most of all him. I expected him to be alcohol/drug dependent with a criminal record and a series of failed or dysfunctional relationships.

disconnected handsTHE PAST:
I didn’t expect the worse because he was a bad kid. He wasn’t a troublemaker or mean spirited person. He was quiet and somewhat closed off, but could be kind and caring. (Damn it! Here come the tears again.) As his worker, I acted with the belief that his aloof demeanor was a form of protection from all the hurt he had experienced. He was never hard or angry. Johnny was so unlike his cute, but severely disturbed younger brother who suffered from an attachment disorder. Johnny didn’t get kicked out homes, schools and programs requiring multiple hospitalizations like his brother.

Johnny came with his share of problems, but he could feel for, connect to and reason with people. I liked Johnny and cared about what happened to him. It may sound harsh, but this is not always a given in my field. The child welfare system, unfortunately, moved too slow to save him and there was some bad luck along the way. Before long Johnny was teenager. A large male teen with troubles is a risky and unappealing choice for most families. Everyone who cared for and provided for Johnny, though well meaning, had limitations, including myself. And while there is no intended blame, the reality is there was no one willing to commit to Johnny unconditionally and for the long haul, something he no doubt felt. He was going to age out of the system and choose to return to his birth family. I didn’t witness this because I left the job for graduate school, but I knew it nonetheless.

moon manTHE PRESENT:
I walk into the diner, but don’t see him in the lobby. I answer ‘yes’ when the hostess asks if I am meeting someone. She says, “He told me to look for someone really pretty. He’s sitting in a booth in the back. I’ll take you to him.” I feel suddenly very nervous and emotional as I walk through the dining room. After all, it has been twenty years since we last saw each other. Was I right or wrong about the direction his life had taken? Did it matter? I wish I could say the answer was a surprise and that he’s doing well. It turned out to be worse than I imagined as I was soon to find out.

A disheveled and poorly dressed man turns when I approach. His eyes grow big and his smile reveals neglected teeth. There is an airy, vacant quality to his look. I can tell he is high, but the face is unmistakably Johnny. I lean down without reservation to hug him and am overcome instantly by the stale smell of cigarettes, then the aroma of alcohol. My heart sinks, but I am no less interested in spending this time with him.

His words are somewhat slurred and his mental status clearly altered (geez, I write like a clinician), but we are able to carry on a decent conversation. He thanks me for coming and says I am more beautiful than my pictures, so I know he has read about me on the internet. I order food for us and encourage him to drink his water, then ask how heavily he has been drinking. He informs me he only drank today because he is nervous to see me, but we both know which part of that statement is a lie. We soon fall comfortably into the roles we had previously played and I start to learn the latest in his life.

The short story is that he drinks and smokes pot every day, stays with many family members in a small apartment from which he is soon to be kicked out, has spent a total of 12 of his adult years in prison (that’s right, not jail), cannot get a job and is on the verge of homelessness. He reports that he refuses to speak with his brother whom he terms a pedophile responsible for sexually abusing a handful of children (again, no surprise). Johnny’s relationship with the steadiest foster parents was destroyed by his lifestyle. His descriptions of the remaining family involve violence, drug addiction, crime and prostitution.

Johnny doesn’t ask me for anything and I don’t offer to help solve his problems. We both know better, as it’s not that simple. He tells me he remembers me because “you were really hot.” The same wry humor and sarcasm I remember still crops up as we speak. I say, “Really? That’s what you remember about me? All of my effort and schooling….” I should be creeped out by his comments, but I’m not. It’s just Johnny, after all. He laughs, “It’s true. But I also remember that you were always nice to me no matter what. You never lied to me and that’s a big deal. That’s really rare, you know. Everybody is a liar. No matter what I’ve done, I don’t lie.”

After lunch I somewhat tentatively let him in my car when he asks for a ride. The strangeness of it all is not lost on me as we coincidentally ride down streets we had traveled together before, me as the driver and him in the passenger seat. Neither of us speak when we pass the old, now abandoned building that had housed the children’s services office where we both spent so much time. I let him out on a corner and we hug one last time. He holds onto me for a long minute and seems slow to get out of the car. Whether it is his intoxicated state or a hesitancy to leave, I’ll never know. I notice that I feel anxious for him to go, so I can make the left turn that will take me back into my life, my plans for the day. I don’t want to see any more.

I take one last look as he stumbles away, a broken man with huge barriers before him. When others look at him they see a strung out, pathetic, alcoholic felon, no different than the men I see frequently at the hospital. They arrive at the emergency room after being found down on the street, drunk, homeless, with chronic medical issues and no one left to care about them. We give them resource sheets with addresses for shelters and alcohol programs we assume they will never use. We don’t see the child, the abusive history or the lost chances. When I last look at Johnny, I suddenly see only the 11 year old boy I had known. I swallow hard and turn away, saying a prayer for God to watch over him, to save him when I, and everyone else, had not.

I go straight to the gym for my workout, then on to my parents’ home where I planned to visit and spend the night. Catching up with them, I only briefly mention my lunch, then head to the shower. I stand under the hot water in their wonderful home, thinking about the delicious dinner that awaits me, the strong support of their unconditional love, and my endless blessings. I didn’t do anything to deserve any of it. I was just born, that’s all. I was born into the best situation one could ever want.

Johnny was born into his situation, too. And like me, he did nothing to earn what he was dealt. I stand in the shower and sob. I cry for him, the unfairness of it all and others in this unjust world who suffer so much. I try to stop and get a hold of myself, but the tears keep flowing from some place deep inside of me as if they have a mind of their own and will never end.
Dalai Lama quoteTHE FUTURE:
There is nothing to write in this space right now. I don’t know if there will be, or not. I am not sure if I will see him again, nor do I know that he would want it. Johnny is going to have to be ready and determined in order to save himself now, even if help is available. I do know that I will look into the faces of all the adults with whom I now work and wonder a little more about the child inside.

Posted in Caring, child welfare system, Kindness, reuniting, social work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SERENDIPITY-DO-DAH. My, oh my, what a wonderful day!

authorRecently I am reminded of the crazy forces outside of us which influence our path.  It struck me just this week that I am not entirely in control of my destiny.   Okay, well I already knew this fact.  I just forget sometimes…. like a lot.  It’s comforting and amazing to know that when I mess up, those forces are there to right my course.    On my own, I don’t fare so well.  So, thank God for the other forces working in my favor.  Yes!  Those forces are God.  So thank you, God and your troops.   We’ve all heard people talk of that desperately wanted job, love, house or (insert desired object here) which eluded us, only to unexpectedly receive something much better shortly afterwards.  What’s up with that, anyway?  Twice I have auditioned for community theatre roles I failed to get only to be handed a more primo role in another production during the same time period.  The scary part is that these phenomenal roles were not even on my radar.  Well, I take that back.  I usually see them posted, but assume I am not good enough or would never be selected.  In fact, my best three roles to date are owed to a director, producer or other involved party who prompted me to audition.   Why do I believe so little in myself?  I’ve done this in the past with my previous career when I declined to interview for management jobs.  What could most of us achieve if we saw in ourselves what others see?  Or, what God sees? What if we were less afraid of the challenge?  Something tells me you have a story.  Here’s the inspiring and eerie details of my latest one.

Following the disappointment of being excluded from a show filled with only small roles and vignettes, I saw a terrific leading lady role at another theatre.  I looked into the show, but, for a variety of reasons (not all self-defeating) I rationalized myself right out of it.  Here’s where it gets a little weird.  I received a message after the first night of auditions from the producer.  She wanted me to know about the part, the show and the final night to audition just in case I was interested.  Are you kidding?  I had forgotten about the whole thing.  I went to bed that night and said a prayer asking God, my angels, spirit guides, dead relatives, and any other interested powers who might be listening to please send me a sign.  To be honest, the size of the part and the commitment scared me.  The next morning I woke to an e-mail from the public library informing me that my hold request had arrived.  What hold request?  I didn’t request a book.  Or, did I?  I looked a little closer.  It was a copy of the play!  I had actually requested the play many weeks ago and forgot to cancel the hold.  Obviously, I went to the audition.  I don’t know why I was still surprised when I got the part. 

I can’t help but think that my spirit guides are forever shaking their heads, thinking, “there she goes again.  This girl is dense.”  Well, I’m really sorry for making you all work so hard on my behalf.  Some of us just have a bigger learning curve than others.  But, here’s the great thing.  I’m no longer scared of this part.  I’m super excited and perfect for it.  See, I wouldn’t have been so beautifully gifted something I wasn’t meant to do.

So please pay attention.  Watch for the signs.  Listen objectively and openly to others when they praise or encourage you.   What would this world look like if we moved forward with even half of our dreams or ideas?   I can only imagine.

Tell me your story so I can see it more clearly. I would love to add a little serendipicilous nutrients to my daily inspirational diet. And feel free to make up your own fantastical words while you’re at it.

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Beauty in the Visually Impaired Eyes of This Beholder


The cruise through middle age has offered some wonderful stops for the enlightenment of my mind, but it’s been no pleasure trip for the physical body. At this very moment my soul blossoms as my looks dwindle and I’ve been forewarned of rougher waters ahead.

First, I must confess that I am vain, so let’s get that out of the way. I am not proud of it, but it is a fact. I suppose it was inevitable since my mother never stepped outside to the mailbox without makeup and my grandmother wore heels and jewelry every day of her life. Okay, I’m exaggerating (a little). But if I die tomorrow, I truly believe the hairspray industry would suffer a significant hit. My mother is a beautiful woman, as was her mother, without jewelry, heels, makeup or hairspray. Genetics have been good to me, so I am not complaining. Like many of you on the same leg of this journey, you know that almost every week there is a new surprise which clearly says things will never be the same. I will share a couple with you.

I have been Spinning as a form of exercise for years. Last week in class I caught my image in the mirror. As I stood running on the bike, my hands in position two with back straight, I saw an alarming thing. It was two things, actually; two small things that loom large in my memory. My boobs were jiggling vigorously beneath my sports bra. This had never happened in the past. No, it’s not the sports bra. I thought of that, but they all produce the same results. Oh well.

Over the summer I was lounging by the pool when I noticed dirt on my leg. Actually, I thought it was a line caused by an ink pen or magic marker. I casually reached down to wipe it away, but it stubbornly remained. I generously Iicked my thumb and rubbed the spit hard on my leg to erase it. WTH?! I looked a little closer, but didn’t trust what I was seeing. (That’s because I can’t see worth shit anymore but that’s a whole other story). I pulled out my trusty reading glasses and stared in shock at the blue vein marring the landscape of my once smooth, hot, long and shapely leg. Ahhhh! This is war! Age has been playing its tricks for a while now, but my legs? These were my trademark back in the day (that was a Wednesday, by the way, according to Dane Cook).

The saddest thing is I never appreciated my legs when I was younger. Truth be told, I never appreciated my looks at all. I spent my twenties and part of my thirties cursing the mirror, comparing myself to others in a state of insecurity. Men told me I was beautiful. Strangers told me I should be a model. Friends assured me I was pretty. I didn’t see it or believe any of them. I know now that I was wrong. So what’s the takeaway here? What is the lesson? I think there are a couple of lessons that we, as women, can learn.

First, physical beauty is overvalued and does not define us. Our identity should be based on our character and the kindness of our soul. (And I’m not saying that to make myself feel better about the dwindling and jiggling and stuff). Secondly, we must take off the blinders, reject the images of the media (mostly computer generated, by the way), and quit being our biggest critics. Oh, and don’t watch Housewives of Beverly Hills or any of those ridiculous shows. Those women don’t have a clue. They are so crazy lost in their pathetic, shallow lives of unfulfilling superficiality that even I, in all my vanity, feel sorry for them. Rant over.) I would love sometimes to go back and re-live a few of my early days, but this time in a state of appreciation. I missed out on so much walking around self-consciously and without confidence.

What really matters though is what I do with ‘now’. Today I am as physically beautiful and healthy as I will ever be again. Therefore, I vow each day to appreciate that which I have, not what I’ve lost. I also promise to think of my worth as the essence of my soul; all that I believe, think, do and create for myself and the world. Oh, and I also vow to use less hairspray, definitely less hairspray.

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“Rome wasn’t built yesterday”, “You have an eight track mind”, and other popular sayings.


For as long as I can remember, my beautiful, intelligent and always optimistic mother has had an adage at hand to cheer and guide me through life.  The problem is that they seldom come out right and often require some translation.  My sister and I will smile at what we affectionately refer to as Mom-isms.  Just the other day I was lamenting about money I had spent on several things needing repair to which she replied, “Forget about it.  It’s water over the bridge.”  Really?  Sigh.  Now I have a water problem, too?!  After suffering some teasing when I was a girl from some mean kids at school, she wisely informed me, “What goes up comes down.”  Sometimes she will know it is wrong as soon as the words leave her mouth and we will laugh together. I noticed several years ago that every once in a blue moon (Ha!  Take that!)  I would mess up a saying in conversation with friends.  Well, nobody is perfect.  When Mom brightly quips, “Well, you know what they say?” I move to the edge of my seat while my mind is screaming, ‘No.  What do they say?  Please tell me, because I’m just dying to know what it is that they say.’   It’s like she can read my thoughts because she’ll pause a moment, smiling and carefully considering her next words.  The following is from an e-mail exchange I had last week with a friend when we couldn’t find time in our schedules to get together for weeks. 

Me:  What is it they say?  Good things are worth waiting for. 

Him:  Close.  It’s actually ‘good things come to those who wait’. 

Crap!  The cat’s out of the bag.  Mmmm.   I just thought of something.  Curiosity killed the cat.  It’s raining cats and dogs.  She’s the cat’s meow, the cat’s pajamas.  It’s like herding cats.  Look what the cat dragged in.  I smell a cat (Oops, scratch that one). When the cat’s away the mice will play.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  For the love of God…….someone stop me!  What is this freaking fascination with cats in our culture?!  (Deep breath)  Oh, sorry.  I digress.   As the Mom-isms flow more frequently from my mouth I’ve concluded that the pear doesn’t fall too far from the tree branch.   But you know what?  I wouldn’t trade my mother’s advice for all the money in the world (Well, yes I would.  That would be stupid to turn down all the money in the world).   I guess what I’m saying is that her sentiments and the pleasure they bring us get the point across, make us laugh and we forget about our problems.  Wait a minute…… Maybe she knew that all along.  Anyway, whatever your disappointments, challenges, mistakes or failures, don’t ever lose hope because she wants you to know that “where there’s a will, you can do it!”

Posted in Fun, happiness, humor, idioms, Inspiration, laughter, mothers, optimism, sayings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Job of Having Fun

smileyI noticed last month I was trying to schedule ‘fun’ into my calendar.  If that’s not pathetic enough, it would amuse you to know I was failing miserably.  I’ve come to the realize that my serious side dominates me.  I recall a psychic telling me, “Your angels are flashing.  They don’t want the serious side of life anymore.”  So I quit that fun killing job, got rid of my time & energy sucking house to have fun:  travel, write and act on stage.  Mmmm.  Somewhere along the way I managed to turn those things into a job.  Serving on theatre boards, volunteering, learning to write book proposals, workshops and networking the industry has become my new work.  Obviously there is a business side to those things.  Unlike most creative types, I don’t need to be reminded.  What I need to be told is “Wake up, dumb ass and chillax.  This is supposed to be fun!”  How many of you find yourself biding time until you can ‘have fun’?  Maybe we should write FUN on every day of our calendar so we can get a grip.  Yes, I am the one who wrote the blog on Mindfulness, in case you’re wondering right now.  And no, I’m not a sham.  I’m just like you, trying to squeeze all the joy I can out of life.  I’m doing it despite myself; my stern, serious, driven self.  So take heed!  My blogs are taking a turn as I endeavor to feed the fun loving part of me (yes, people that know me, it exists!) in hopes that it will grow bigger.  While you can expect more sarcasm and humor, I promise not to go all negative on you (that’s not me).  My goal is still to inspire and be inspired by the mighty power within us all.  I’d love to hear from the rest of you on your struggles to have fun (please let me know I am not the only one).  I will leave you with the words of a song.  ‘Happy days are here again.  The skies above are clear again.   Let’s sing a song of cheer again.   Happy days are here again.’  Maybe not, since that stupid song is now stuck in your head.  Your welcome.

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Safely outside the comfort zone?!

I’ve been preaching for a year to everyone who will listen that you have to step outside of your comfort zone to experience exponential growth. That which is truly exciting and phenomenal waits in that place we are too often afraid to venture. Well it’s time, as they say, to “put my money where my mouth is”. I have entered excerpts from my first novel in a publishing contest for fiction that heavily relies on public voting to progress to the final round. Having publishing editors and trusted friends read your work is one thing. Opening it up to the general public (which just so happens to include colleagues, acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, friends of friends, and other writers- just to name a few) is another disturbing thing altogether. For some reason, stepping on stage as an actress in front of an audience hasn’t caused me to feel so exposed. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t writers write to have their work read? In theory, the answer is yes. Though we claim to write for ourselves, we all desire the approval of others. What if people read it and hate it? What if they criticize it to others? What if, worst of all, they are completely uninterested? What if I don’t get any votes? Well, obviously, I will die. They will drag my stiff, cold body from the keyboard, put me in a box, and bury me in the ground. That’s ridiculous, of course. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is face fears and take a chance. What are worse than the above questions are the other questions which would go forever unanswered. What if someone likes it? What if it could have been a success? Anyway, in a few days the contest goes live and I will start promoting it. If you want to follow it (or better yet, vote) visit on May 1st.

The point is that everyone has dreams and plans that were thwarted by fear. So, is it safe outside the comfort zone? I’m not sure, but I’ll find out soon. If fear of failure is holding you back in your life, I challenge you to re-evaluate the risk. Pick up your left-behind dreams. Reorganize those cast-aside plans. I hope to see you there, outside the zone. If you see me, say “hello”, so I can give you a smile, a thumbs-up and an encouraging pat on the back. We’re all in this life together!

Posted in comfort zone, creativity, Inspiration, optimism, publishing, publishing contest, taking chances, writing | Leave a comment