Bo ≠ Beau

PatagoniaDancing is a great way to build relationship skills. Men learn to lead, women learn to follow, people learn to work together and build confidence as they are set free to express themselves, uninhibited by fears about the opinions of others.

In college, I spent most Thursday nights at a swing dancing society on campus, learning to dance East Coast Swing, Charleston and Lindy Hop. We had good, clean fun together, and it was there on the dance floor that I grew in my extroversion and discovered my love for encouraging others.

I occasionally visit a swing dancing studio in the city where I live now, but I don’t go as often as I would like because it’s not as fun to go without a partner. So today on Facebook when I saw that Bo – who just returned from a motorcycling trip around Patagonia – had decided to attend a swing dancing workshop on Saturday, I “liked” his RSVP.

Within a few minutes, Bo sent me a text message: “Are you an experienced swing dancer?”

I smiled in surprise. I hadn’t expected him to send me a message! Maybe he was looking for a dance partner. “I am! Are you?”

“Not at all,” he wrote back, “But it’s one of my 30-before-30 goals.”

“I love that you have a list like that… and that swing dancing made the cut!”

“Have you been to this dance studio before for stuff?” he asked me.

I told Bo that I had, and I explained a few of the class options to him. I wanted to be helpful but also not seem too experienced, because I figured that could be intimidating. And intimidating men is my downfall in dating. Not that I’m trying to date Bo, I told myself. I’m really, really trying not to date this year. Even though Bo is a smart, attractive, kind, athletic, adventurous, confident, godly man.

After I had explained the class structure – and coached myself to stop thinking about dating Bo – he sent me a text message back that made my heart sink: “A friend and I are both looking to learn. She’s interested in Lindy Hop, but I think I need more basics. Though the ultimate goal is to flip her in the air!”

I gave a tight smile as I moved my thumbs to type my response into my phone. “Lindy is my personal favorite, but you’re right; you probably need to learn East Coast first. That will be a fun thing for y’all to do together.”

No reply.

He got what he needed from me.

Now he’s off to dance with someone else.

When I asked God to protect me from myself this year in regards to dating, I only partly wished He would answer. There He goes being all faithful and stuff. [Sigh]

Authentically Aurora

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Operation SLR

BeTransformedEver since my conversation with Diana last week, I’ve been working on re-framing my thinking to be more positive. I want to “not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of [my] mind” (Rom. 12:2) and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). I want to “beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27), exercising discipline and self-control over my thoughts so that I am not ruled by my emotions. It’s ironically discipline that often results in freedom. 

I’ve even come up with my own acronym (and you know it’s getting serious when acronyms get involved)! The acronym I am starting to speak over myself is SLR. I’m a camera girl, so to me, this has traditionally meant Single-Lens Reflex, but I’ve rebranded it in my brain to mean: Stop. Laugh. Roll it off.

Every time something happens that causes me to begin feeling upset (or mad or frustrated or frazzled or anxious or stressed – so, basically, everything), I want to SLR: Stop, Laugh and let it Roll off my shoulders. I started implementing SLR last week and, naturally, as soon as I decided to not let things bother me, it feels like everything has been going wrong. The instant I decided to actively exercise discipline over my thoughts in an effort to moderate negative emotions, life went haywire.

On day one of Operation SLR, a maintenance crew came to do work on my apartment. But in the process of window repair, they moved my heavy queen-sized bed, making it off-center from the paintings I had just nailed into the wall the day prior. Upon arriving home from work, I also discovered that one corner of the bed frame had been placed on top of my pajamas when the maintenance crew moved the bed.

I tried rescuing my pajama pants on my own – and then tried moving the bed on my own – all to no avail. I started to get really irritated (why can’t anyone ever just do their job right?!) when I remembered to SLR: Stop, Laugh, and Roll it off. I took a deep breath and called my apartment office. The maintenance crew was back within the hour to right the situation. It was a non-event. And I was glad I didn’t allow myself to get more worked up about it.

On days two through five of Operation SLR, I missed the mascara tube with the wand, getting black goop all over my left hand while running late for work; felt isolated, ignored and rejected at a social event; had another driver try changing lanes into my car on the freeway again; experienced double standards in the workplace and had my song suggestion shot down at choir rehearsal. Each time, I had to ask myself, “Is your frustration helping or hurting the situation?”

Diana made the comment to me that a difference between her mindset and mine is that I tend to think, “Why does everything happen to me?” But, according to Diana, “All of those things happen to me, too. I just choose not to focus on them.” So, in addition to SLR, I started trying to pick out the positive events in my week: a man helped me carry heavy boxes of donations to a shelter; I was selected for a solo in choir; I made a new friend at church and an acquaintance took the time to teach me a new software program.

On Sunday, rounding out the end of my first week implementing the power of positive thinking, I was determined to finish strong. So, of course, when I backed out of my parking spot on the way to church, the re-bar protruding from a parking block caught under my front bumper and pulled it off. I just sighed, got out of my car, and walked around front to examine the damage.

It’s going to cost between $700 and $1200 to repair my brand new car, and my insurance agent said that my premium may go up since “you are responsible for not having a collision with a stationary object.” Right. Because the protruding re-bar was totally my fault. Thanks a lot, insurance guy.

I got through Sunday by looking forward to a dinner I’d planned for Wednesday night. A fancy restaurant in town is offering a discounted menu for charity, and I made a reservation for six with a group from church – a group that includes Bo, much to the delight of my giddy inner girly girl with a mega crush on this dreamboat of a man.

But on Monday morning, I was awoken by an early morning text message from Bo: “Hey… sorry to have to bail on you for dinner… but I just realized it’s on Wednesday night… and I have a standing date that night for accountability/discipleship with my roommate. Have fun and eat an undercooked steak for me!”

I definitely Stopped in my tracks. And might have Laughed a low, embittered grunt. And then I Rolled over and pulled the covers back over my head.

Being positive is overrated.

Authentically Aurora

Touching Thoughtfulness

HugBo is from Wisconsin and has an adorable northern accent. He is a smart, confident Triathlete with a great smile and gentle heart. When I met him at church back in February, I was still with Bryan, and Bo had a girlfriend himself. But we’ve known each other for a while now, and he’s become a friend who I like and respect.

While teaching Vacation Bible School together this week, I found out that Bo and his girlfriend broke up about a month ago. He just mentioned it in passing while a group of us herded the kids between stations, but my ears perked up.

I know I’m still a mess. I know I don’t need to jump into another relationship. And I know that I want to be good friends with the next guy before I get romantically involved with him. But the knowledge that a solid guy like Bo is still available gave me hope – not even necessarily for us to work out, but that I might actually be able to end up with a godly man my own age rather than picking off one of the bright-eyed 23-year-olds fresh from college or, at the other end of the spectrum, settling for an emotionally unavailable, baggage-laden 36-year-old (*cough, Bryan, cough*).

After VBS on Wednesday night, Bo, Diana and I hung around to catch up with a few other friends. Somehow the subject of love languages came up, and Bo immediately turned to me. “Yours is definitely physical touch.”

“What?” My face lit up with surprise. “How did you know?!” I actually have two primary love languages – quality time and physical touch – but Bo and I haven’t spent enough time together for him to have any reason to know that.

Bo shrugged in response; then gave a slight smile. “You’re a really touch-y person.”

I giggled nervously. “Um.. what?” Everyone else starting laughing, too – friendly laughter.

Bo laughed and waved his hands, “No, no… not in a bad or inappropriate way. You just seem to like to touch people’s shoulders when you talk to them… and you hug people a lot…” his voice trailed off.

“Oh. I mean… yeah. Physical touch is important to me.” All eyes were on me now, so I went on, “When I was a kid, I didn’t have an alarm clock. My mom would rub my back to wake me up every morning.”

“Awww…” I heard Diana’s soft voice float over from my right.

“I come from a loving, snuggly family,” I went on animatedly, “And I don’t… you know… fool around… so I don’t ever get my physical touch!” I threw my hands up in the air in mock frustration as I grinned at Diana. “That’s why I always hug you when I see you.”

I directed the conversation away from myself then, asking everyone else about their love languages. Bo said that his are words of affirmation and acts of service, although he also made an insightful comment about men in general: “I think words of affirmation are universally one of the top two for men. Men like to act tough, but we’re actually really insecure.” He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know experientially, but I appreciated Bo’s honesty and vulnerability. How many men would publicly make a statement like that, acknowledging their insecurities?

On Thursday night, Bo had to leave as soon as the VBS session was over. “I’ve gotta jet,” he called to the group as he got up from where we were all sitting cross-legged in the grass.

“Later!” we all called back as he started to walk across the field to his car. But after a few paces, he stopped, turned, and walked back to me. Bo surprised me by bending over and hugging my shoulders as I sat in the grass surrounded by children. Then he wordlessly straightened and walked back to his car.

It wasn’t until I was climbing into bed, mentally reviewing my day, that I realized Bo had made a conscious effort to meet my needs. He heard, remembered and made a decision to love me the way I need to be loved.

His thoughtfulness was touching. Pun intended.

Authentically Aurora