Tell the World Who You Are – in 3 Photos or Less – (The Joys of Online Dating)

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Could you describe yourself using 3 photographs (or less)? Would you be able to capture your joys; your passions; what is important to you; the essence of the person you are and want to become?

Ludicrous, you may exclaim!   Who would try to do that?

Me.

Welcome to the joys of online dating.

2019 is going to be my year…. The year where I step out of the boat and look for new experiences and thus, I am going to sign up for online dating at the end of February. (I will let everyone get past the hysteria of Valentine’s Day.)

Before my family and friends start warning me about the dangers of online dating (I could meet an axe-murderer or similar) I must point out I wrote:  I would SIGN UP for online dating. I did not write I would actually go on a date.

Two different statements.

After all, I am the woman who went through a divorce she did not want after 35 years of marriage and then went through a sudden broken engagement after dating the man I loved for 2 ½ years which left me feeling like a discarded used ragdoll with a lot of….. How shall we say…..

Trust Issues.

So, let me reassure you I would be soooo highly selective there is probably a snowball’s chance in you-know-where that I will actually go out on a date.

But you never know……

Where does one begin? Google is the online dating guru full of tips and countless articles. Apparently, the first step is: create your online profile and upload photographs.

But not just any photographs…..

The photographs must be current; no selfies; and you should show the fun side of yourself…… the adventurous side…… you are marketing yourself. Jazz it up a bit…. show some culture and love of outdoors and, of course, a little skin.

So, for example, I should post a photograph of me rappelling down a cliff while sipping a glass of chardonnay and wearing a plunging V-neck sweater.

I am perfectly capable of sipping a glass of chardonnay but if I had to rappel down a cliff you would need to drug me heavily and lower me down….. and it is winter …. all my skin is covered up.

Then, in the next article, they suggest you be yourself and be real and be authentic.

I wish they would make up their minds.

I made a list of things I like to do and what kind of person I am….. I am kind, friendly, cheerful, positive, reflective. I like doing things with my grandchildren; going to church; sitting on my screen porch drinking a cup of coffee and watching the birds while reading my devotional; working two days a week (for the guv-ment); going to lunch/dinner with girlfriends and laughing; taking walks outside; being healthy.

Now… how to convey that in 3 pictures AND make it a compelling reason to take me out? (I arbitrarily chose 3 pictures as a Goldilocks sort of reason—not too many—not too few—just right.)

However, the way this is going I may be lucky to have one photo….. due to all the challenges.

First, I would not post a photo with me and my grandchildren so how do I convey I am an active and somewhat-off-the-wall Nana? Should I take a photo of me with their Play-Doh creations or sitting in their sandbox?

And being healthy-oriented ….. should I post a photo of me eating a spinach salad while sipping a glass of red wine and nibbling on a small piece of dark chocolate? Or I should take a picture of the spinach-fruit smoothie I make each day? I am sure that would make a healthy guy think… “yep, yes-sireee…she’s the one for me”.

If I cannot take selfies and I am single…then WHO is taking the picture?  I did approach my son (as he has a very good camera that could work magic) about doing a photo shoot and we did and there was maybe ONE winner.

And yes…I can’t believe I just wrote …I asked MY SON TO TAKE SOME PICTURES OF HIS MOTHER TO PUT ON AN ON-LINE DATING SITE.

Really?

So, recently I got this wild idea I could do a photo-shoot of me at work as I am there two days a week. I enlisted a wonderful co-worker, LW, to take the photos on a day when my boss was not in the office.

To say these are dismal is an understatement—per the postings below. We took a lot of pictures and these three were among the best ….  which tells you how bad they were.

For the first picture, you will notice a yellow Hoptimist in the corner of my desk. A Hoptimist is a Danish creation begun in the late 1960s to spread joy and comes in many shapes and sizes. (https://hoptimist.com/history/)

When my boss goes on trips, he often brings a small gift item back to me and my co-worker. (He is a very thoughtful man.) One of his gifts for me was this Smiley Face Hoptimist who, when you tap his head, becomes perky and bounces up and down and wobbles around.

Question: why did my boss think this was a good gift for me?

Answer: he has seen me in action.

As I am trying (per the online dating sites) to create a “fun” atmosphere, I included Mr. Smiley in the picture. The end result: the combination of florescent lighting and puke-green (not my color) bland walls do nothing for my skin tone and wrinkles and Mr. Smiley looks like he would make the better date.

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So we tried a different angle and went for the artsy look—a side picture with me looking down the hall over my computer. Assessment: I look a bit dazed and the electric socket and lamp cord needs to be photo shopped out as well as the phone cord AND what happened to my left shoulder? The jacket looks puffy—I look like I have a shoulder growth or I am in training to be a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

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Picture Three: Oh My Goodness…what is wrong with my hands? They look huge and deformed….. they look more like raw chicken parts. And the background—a cup of Starbucks coffee, my water glass, and hand sanitizer—sending a message that says I like a variety of liquids and I am a germaphobe.

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Shoot me now.

I will have to confess, however, that this entire challenge has made me laugh out loud—the absurdity of trying to capture who I am as well as my possibly evaluating someone else based on a few photos

And yet……..

This exercise has made me truly think about the pictures my family and friends are taking of me every single day … not with a digital camera but with the camera of their mind—the photographs that are stored in the scrapbook of their hearts.

The people who walk into my office…..do they see an uptight grumpy woman or a woman who smiles and tries to make their day go smoother? And my son and his family….when they see me…. the photographs they take and store in their hearts …. are they of a woman who is frowning and bitter or one who is laughing and enjoying her life?

And what about the clerk at Publix….. the new employee who keeps fumbling with the vegetables as she scans them…..what image will she take home with her…. a customer who scowls and keeps looking at her watch and sighs impatiently or a customer that smiles and encourages her to keep trying.

Those are the pictures that truly count….. not the artificial ones of my “looking-like-I-am-having-forced-fun” life.

The truth is…. my very ordinary life is joy-filled and exciting but it is not a life I can easily convey in 3 photos or less.

But it is one I am blessed to have.

I have no idea as to where this will lead. Once again, I am on a path where I cannot see the end. But I know this simple exercise has raised questions for me (and hopefully for you).

What photographs are being taken of you and are they ones your family and friends will treasure?

And if not…. Are you willing to change the picture?

 jfh

 

Unwrapping the Best Christmas Gift

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I made a mistake recently—but it was a simple one…

My brother Joe was planning a pre-Christmas gathering for family. He had rented a house in the Asheville North Carolina area.  The thought of experiencing Christmas-like cold weather was very attractive to him as he, his wife, and two adult children live in Miami and his daughter and her husband live in Texas.

After all, who wants to fix a mug of hot chocolate if it is 85 degrees outside.

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I Was Right and I Was Wrong

Last month I wrote a story titled “Getting Out of the Boat….. Again” in which I shared my thoughts about making changes in my life—being willing to take some risks and trying something new. What I did not share was—I already had some ideas in mind—a plan was forming—and I was getting ready to put it into action.

And then…… I had the legs knocked out from under me….. in a deliberate but kind way…..

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Getting Out of the Boat….. Again

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Almost six years ago, on November 16, 2012, I posted a story dear to my heart – “To Walk on Water You Gotta First Get Out of the Boat”—in which I shared a photograph of my mother, my brother, and me taken 58 years ago in Canada. We stopped at a roadside stand selling small wooden boats and purchased 2 of them. In the picture, my mother is holding one of the boats in her hand.

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Getting Rid of the Gunk in My Life

I recently dealt with a skin issue—some dry and peeling skin on my face—and was advised to keep it covered with Aquaphor.

For the clueless, Aquaphor is a healing ointment used to treat/prevent dry rough skin and minor irritations such as diaper rash or skin burns. I dutifully kept the Aquaphor on my face and it lived up to its reputation.

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Walter’s Story—and Being Challenged by a Simple Gesture

My church, St. David’s Episcopal, offers breakfast on Sunday mornings. They recently started a Breakfast Greeter ministry where a member stays in the breakfast area to welcome parishioners and keeps an eye out for new people. If you stood in the room, you would see many tables filled with people laughing and talking.

But if you are new to the breakfast….. it can be daunting to stand in a room full of people while holding a tray in your hand trying to figure out where you should sit… wondering if the persons at the table would welcome you or want to talk to you.

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Love, Defined, in 6 Words

I recently read a quote that has stayed lodged in my heart and will not leave. The quote, by L. R. Knost, is:

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

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Why I Entered a Dragon Boat Race

Have you ever been asked a question that stopped you in your tracks? That made you go “Hmmm?”

Last month’s story, The Year of “Hands On” Living, was about my decision to live this year “Hands-On” ….. where I would be willing to make a greater effort to be truly involved with life… not just sitting back and watching …..but to be willing to take chances and make a few messes….. and maybe, in the process, to share my heart with those around me.

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