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On My Own Blog Editors on StageofLife.comRead below for a welcome message from our On My Own editors: Laura and Rachel. While thousands of writers and bloggers contribute their stories and essays to StageofLife.com, we work closely with two single editors who are here to comment on your blog posts, lend a helpful voice, and answer your questions about StageofLife.com. If you would like to meet all of our Editors working on the Stage of Life initiative or apply for an Editor position, please check out our Staff page and Contact Us.

 

Weekly Message from the Editor

Single Editor's Welcome: July 16th-31st, 2013

A Time for Discovering Truth

by Rachel Russo, Singles Editor

Being on your own can prove to be a tremendous learning experience. 

As time goes on, you learn all sorts of interesting tidbits about yourself, and you become more intimately acquainted with you. Sometimes, there are truths that prove themselves again and again.

For instance, at this stage of life, I have no business getting up before 7AM. With my jam-packed schedule and penchant for beauty sleep, it is just not wise to start my day at that time-unless something really important requires my attention. Like a trip to the airport. A television appearance. Or, okay, a doctor's appointment. I know that I won't be in this stage forever.  After all, one day I will have a baby to tend to, and sleep will become a luxury. 

When I do get up early-on less than eight hours sleep-strange things start to happen. I drop credit cards on the floor. Leave my Starbucks cup in the bathroom. Call people by the wrong name in the elevator.

Because that's just the way it is...

Knowledge is power, but only if you embrace your truth.

Instead of forcing myself to be a morning person, I schedule client meetings later in the day and generally focus on the less important stuff in the AM. For the most part, I work on writing my soon-to-launch-book "How to Get Over Your Ex: A Step by Step Guide to Mend A Broken Heart-Italian American Style" at night, because that's when I get my energy and inspiration. I don't try to make myself into something I am not, but simply make the best of who I am!  I don't have a partner that forces me to change. I can be who I am when I am single and then find my perfect complement! This works for me. Can it work for you too?

Is there a truth you need to embrace in love and life?

If you are single, your truth might be that you are dating ALL the wrong people. Do you  know the types who the relationship-oriented girl or guy should avoid? If not, find out! Find your truth!

What if you are dating ALL the right people and are still single? Maybe your expectations are too high and you need to relax.

After all, it is summer! (And I hope you are enjoying yours as much as I am!)  When it comes to dating, things-including online dating-get a little more relaxed when the temperature heats up. Hence, a lot of singles take a more light-hearted and fun approach to dating. So keep your expectations in check. Instead of being disappointed, be pleasantly surprised.  Can you make that your truth? 

Let's be honest: The way you deal with the truths about you and your relationship will have a greater impact on your happiness-or lack thereof- than the truths themselves.

Attitude is everything--no matter what your stage of life. So make sure you've got the 'tude that will get you to where you want to go...

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: July 1st-15th, 2013

Smart Phone, Dumb Phone

by Michelle Pease, Singles Editor

So it finally happened: my “dumb” phone died. My trusty, four-year-old Samsung Alias 2 (with the coolest flip keyboard ever) bit the dust. First it kept shutting off. Then the screen went wonky. Sometimes it displayed text backwards or upside-down. Sometimes the screen was speckly like the TV when a channel is off the air. Most of the time, it just wouldn’t display. I couldn’t hear on calls or text properly.

My parents had been threatening to kick me off of their phone plan for a while. I was due for an upgrade with them, but all of the free, “dumb” phones they had were clunky and boring looking. They always told me if I wanted a smart phone, I would have to get my own plan.

What’s another bill, right?

My fiancé is a big techie, so he directed me to Newegg.com, where I got a Samsung Galaxy S3 for .99 centers with a new, two-year Verizon contract. And the phone is blue! (I’m easily pleased.)

After a mishap with Fedex, my phone finally arrived today. It’s currently sitting in its box on my couch next to me. Although I’m excited to have a working phone, I’m almost nervous to open it. Activating this phone means new technology—and a new phone number—that I’m not quite used to. It feels like shedding the last bits of New Jersey-based skin I had. No more 973 number. No one basic phone with cool texting keyboard.

I’ve always been “grandma-like” in my use of technology. My family had dial up… in 2011. We still only have basic cable. And I’ve been genuinely ok with just having a “dumb” phone.

Welcome to the 21st century, I guess!

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: June 16th-30th, 2013

How to Prepare For Marriage--On Your Own

by Rachel Russo, Singles Editor

“When are you going to get married?” 

How many times were you asked that question—if even when totally by yourself ?

The real question-when on your own or coupled- is: Will you be prepared for marriage?

If you’d rather not chance something as important as “till death do us part,” you are in a good company. There are many people out there-including children of divorce-who feel strongly about marrying once and doing it right. The tips that follow will help you prepare for marriage: 

Learn to leave your past in the past. 

Everyone has baggage when it comes to past relationships. Sometimes issues will never be 100 % resolved, but people interested in marriage must do everything they can to minimize the negative impact of past relationships. It is much better to have your “stuff” fit in a carry-on-bag than a three piece luggage set. Whether you see a therapist or coach, work things out as best as possible with an ex, confide in a friend, or write your feelings in a journal; do what you’ve got to do to heal your heart. 
Live your best life in the present. 

If you aren’t happy before you are married, you won’t be happy after you are married. Don’t expect miracles from your partner just because you will have rings. Instead, focus on self-improvement before getting married. Get into your best health and shape, higher your education, accomplish your career goals, and develop your hobbies, talents, and relationships with friends and family. You should be a whole and fulfilled person who doesn’t come into a marriage expecting to “get”. You should enter a marriage prepared to “give”. 

Figure out who you’d like to be married to in the future. 

The decision whether or not to marry is one of the most important you can make in life. Who you marry has everything to do with your level of happiness—or misery. Before you commit, it is crucial to put thought into the type of person who is right for you for the long term. Sadly, love isn’t always enough to weather all the challenges of a life-long partnership. You’ll need to be able to communicate. Ask yourself if you and your partner are able to express feelings and resolve conflict. You’ll also need to be compatible. Take an honest assessment of how well your personalities, lifestyles, and visions for the future fit together. Lastly, do you have chemistry? Is there enough romantic attraction to make you more than just friends? Marry someone who you truly think you could go the distance with.

Need more tips on preparing for marriage? Check out StatusMakeover.com, a website by Rachel Russo, a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: June 1st-15th, 2013

The Life of a Conformist

by Michelle Pease, Singles Editor

My mom always told me that these years “on my own” would be some of the hardest, but also some of the most fun. So far, I see what she means.

Rent is expensive. So are bills. And as my fiancé and I are only working entry-level jobs, we’re not making much combined. So we often have fun by going out to eat or buying bottom-shelf booze just because.

On the other hand, neither of us are extremely outgoing, so we don’t feel like we’re missing anything by hanging out at home and watching Doctor Who.

The life of a conformist is exactly as I imagined: somewhat boring, somewhat exciting, but absolutely perfect because my fiancé and I are doing it together.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: May 16th-31st, 2013

How to Date as a Single Mom: The 7 Do's and Don'ts

by Rachel Russo, Singles Editor

Without a doubt, single moms are a special breed of woman.  They are quite likely to feel “On My Own”. These strong and independent ladies tend to share a lot of common traits and challenges. One challenge that is worth figuring out is how to have success in the dating game. After all, single moms need lovin too!
 
If you are a single mom interested in dating, chances are you are pressed for time, yet would love to meet someone special to share your life with.  Are you wondering how to get back into the dating game? Thinking things might have changed since the last time you’ve been to that rodeo? Don’t despair; here are some quick tips for you to attract a great relationship.

Do look like a sexy and polished single woman.
When going on a date, get out of mom-mode and into sexy-single-woman-mode. It is important that you dress in a classy way those appeals to men and hints at your sexuality. Trade the sweatpants for stilettos; please leave the "mom jeans" in the closet! You were a hot mama before you were a momma. Bring her back!

Do devote some time to dating.
If you want to find a great relationship, you’ll need to get your priorities straight. Yes, in some cases, your kids always need to come first, but make sure your date feels like there is room for him in your life. You have to show him that you have the time, space, and true desire for a relationship. If you want it, make it happen!

Do be completely present when on a date.
Even when your mind is on overload, stay in the moment. Focus on your date and don't worry about how your kids are doing with the babysitter. Concentrate on what he is saying—and not how you are going to respond. Listen with your mind wide open. Don’t start to ask yourself if you can picture him as your kid’s step dad just yet.  Take the experience in with your entire being. One step at a time!

Don't let your role as a mother limit you.
It is easy yet counterproductive to get caught up in what you can or can't do on a date just because you are a mom. Whether this means a second martini  or dancing until 4AM on a 3rd date, don't think things that were appropriate before you were a mom are no longer for you. With a good babysitter, it is all fair game--except, perhaps, clothing from the junior department!

Don't talk about your kids or "kid things" too much.  As with conversation about celebrity gossip and the intimate details of your friends lives, men can only take so much of this--even if they love children and have their own. Direct the conversation on him, his background, his work, his hobbies/interests, etc, and he’ll think you are the most fascinating woman to walk the face of the earth! Of course, you’ll have to share some juicy details about yourself to keep him engaged. Focus on what the two of you have in common—outside of Nickelodeon.

Don't move too fast with showing him your world.
  Whatever you do, don’t introduce your kids to someone unless you are certain the relationship will be serious, as you don’t want to disappoint them if they become attached to a guy who will soon become your ex! The same goes for talking in detail about a date with your children. Remember, your kids are not your girlfriend, relationship coach, or therapist, so don’t reveal too much about your dating life.
And if things do get serious…

Don’t kid yourself—it is not going to be easy. Be positive, but realistic. Every day isn't a picnic no matter what relationship you are in. However, dating with children and starting blended families can take quite the toll on the success of a relationship. Expect difficulty. This is real life--not The Brady Bunch.

If you keep these simple, straightforward, dating tips for single moms in mind, you’ll be on your way to loving your love life—no matter what your status.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: May 1st-15th, 2013

The Dreaded 160

by Michelle Pease, Singles Editor

Like most middle schoolers, I suffered from low self-esteem. I, ahem, developed early, and as a result got teased a lot for being fat. My weight’s always been a touchy subject for me. As a feminist, I think the social standard of beauty is ridiculous and unattainable; also, that being fat isn’t bad. On the other hand, I also want to be happy with how I look. But toeing the line between wanting to look good for me and wanting to look good for society is hard.

I always told myself that if I ever hit 160 pounds, I would really start focusing on losing weight and eating better. That was my limit. And last week at the doctor, I discovered I’d surpassed the mark.

Whoops.

I gained a lot of weight when I moved to Maryland started my life “on my own” because I stopped eating well. I started working out, but my 30 minute workout sessions couldn’t combat bags of frozen food and sugary cereal. I honestly thought I’d be devastated to reach 160, but now that I’m here, I find I’m apathetic.

Weight is just a number. Fat or thin, what matters most is that you’re happy with how you look, not anyone else. Fat isn’t a bad word, and I really don’t get why people are so obsessed with how others look or how they eat. He’s fat, she’s fat; so what? How does that affect you? Stop being concern trolls and focus on yourself.

Of course, 160 was a catalyst for something I’d been meaning to do: healthy eating. I’ve stopped eating PB&J and sugary cereal bars for lunch every day, and eating a bowl of ice cream every night. I’m making a conscious effort to watch what I eat in hopes that I feel healthier. If I lose weight go below the dreaded 160, that’s cool. If not, that’s okay too.

I think I’m gonna be okay.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: April 16th-30th, 2013

What Our Relationship Status Has to Do With How We Find Ourselves

by Rachel Russo, Singles Editor

Do you ever wonder why some people you know are single?
 
Surely, there are lots of reasons. Some are single because they are in-between relationships. Others are enjoying their freedom and time on their own too much to tie themselves down. Still others prefer to focus solely on themselves.
 
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone whose opinions I hold near and dear. When she shared her perspective that people are single because they don’t know who they are—or in other words haven’t “found” themselves, my mind started racing.  While I realize she probably didn’t mean all people, it was a thought-provoking comment for me, because, more often than not, I’ve found the opposite to be true:
 
People are single because they know exactly who they are.  They just haven’t found the person they can happily be themselves with—whether in that moment or for the long term. When they really know who they are, it is easier not to get into relationships with people who won’t be fits for the future.
 
Think about it: We all know attractive, fit, and happy singles that are accomplished professionals—quite satisfied with their careers. They have great friendships, full social calendars, own beautiful properties, have impressive portfolios, and handfuls of interests and hobbies that they are passionate about. Clearly, they know that makes them tick, what moves them to tears, and what they’d do if they won the lottery. Sometimes, they know themselves so well, that they know exactly why they aren’t a fit for most of the singles their well-meaning friends want to set them up with. They don’t want to date just to date, because they are happy without a plus one—despite being a little lonely at times. You’ll hear these people saying they don’t want to settle. They don’t want to because they’ve become comfortable—on their own.
 
On the other hand, people who are coupled have found someone they are comfortable being with. They’ve found that they like life better when shared. Are they comfortable with themselves?  Sometimes, they are. Sometimes they aren’t, and that is the very reason they are in relationships, as relationships can be a beautiful distractions from life’s problems.  They haven’t found themselves by being in like or love with someone else; they just found that they can’t stand being alone. Often, they’ve found that there is less discrimination when people go with the societal trends, so if everyone else gets married by 35, they will too. They’ve found it doesn’t matter if they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, as long as they know who they want to be with.
 
Ultimately, this whole “finding ourselves” jazz works itself out differently in different people. I believe many people find themselves before they find their partners, and that some people couple up and find themselves together. I don’t think one way is better than the other, and the point is that we find ourselves somehow.
 
Need help find yourself no matter what your status? Check out www.StatusMakeover.com.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: April 1st-15th, 2013

Holidays "On Our Own"

by Michelle Pease, Singles Editor

Working a 7-4 lifestyle, paying bills, and maintaining the apartment leave little time to think about fun things, sometimes. In fact, my fiancé and I completely forgot it was Easter this weekend. That is, until, I got several texts from friends and family asking me what my Easter plans were.

“Good question,” I always replied, “I have no idea!”

My fiancé and I aren’t religious, so church wasn’t happening. Our parents live 5 hours away, so we were less motivated to drive home for the weekend. We don’t have kids, so there was no need to plan an Easter basket. We resigned ourselves to treating Easter like a typical Sunday: Doctor Who and leftovers.

“Well, that’s kind of boring,” Justin, my fiancé, lamented, “Maybe we should make a nice dinner.”

I couldn’t deny a good meal. So on Easter Sunday at noon, we set off to Harris Teeter in hopes of finding a small turkey breast to cook. The problem was: it was $16. Yikes! We didn’t like Easter that much.

“How about chicken?” I suggested.

A little better: a whole chicken was only $10. But still, we didn’t have a recipe in mind, nor were we really feeling up to the challenge of cooking.

We were wandering around the meat aisle when all of a sudden, I smelled: Harris Teeter brand fried chicken. I had fond memories of grocery store brand fried chicken from when I was a kid, and hadn’t had it in years. Was it Easter appropriate? Maybe not, but it was only $6 for a huge bucket.

So that evening we had some delicious fried chicken, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. And watched a plethora of Doctor Who.

Happy Easter!

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: March 16th-31st, 2013

On My Own Survival: How to Deal With Running Into Your Ex

by Rachel Russo, Singles Editor

The post-breakup story goes something like this: After weeks of seeing no one other than  the delivery boys who come to your apartment with a fix of emotional eats, your friends finally convince you it is time to leave the nest. You start getting dressed up, going out, and hoping to meet some singles. One night, it happens, and every recently single person's nightmare becomes your reality. You meet the last person on earth you’d want to meet. Of course. You run into your ex. 

Before you start freaking out and lead yourself to a full-fledged panic attack, rest assured that there are other responses to running into your ex than crawling into a hole in and dying. You may not achieve my dream of a world where you’d never have to run into an ex, but you could find some peace of mind by remembering these simple survival tactics. The first run-in is the hardest, and if it happens again, you’ll be a pro if you just follow these rules.

If you are female: Don’t approach the Ex. Obey the same principle that you would if you were meeting your ex for the very first time—let him lead. In other words, do not go up to him first. Neither of you were expecting this random meeting, and you can’t be quite sure how he’ll react. If he wants to chat with you, he will come up with you and start a friendly conversation. Allow him to ask questions. You ask the follow up questions that are of a similar nature. If he just wants to say “hi” and get out of there as quickly as possible, he’ll keep it brief and run away. Let him do just that, and you will feel better about the encounter than if you initiated things and it didn’t turn out well. Save yourself the embarrassment. 

Whether you are male or female:

Don’t let ‘em see you sweat: Clearly, you are sweating. You thought you were safe—in an ex-free zone. Life just threw you a curve ball, and the best choice is to put on your game face and play. You can act a little surprised to see your ex. That is, of course, better than giving him or her the impression that you were expecting to run into them. Just keep it casual. Say something light-hearted and fun like “Oh, wow, what a surprise. Didn’t expect to see you here.” The important thing is that you act nonchalant, like running into the ex is no big deal. Even if you want to run into the bathroom and cry, you have to act like this is no big deal. 

Make a great impression: You want him/her to walk away thinking that you look great and seem like you are doing well. . Communicate your  positive energy with your body language. Make sure you sound graceful too. When he/she asks how you are, keep in mind “I’m doing fine” will not suffice. Share specific details to give your ex the idea you are doing just fine—without them. Make sure you briefly highlight some new and exciting things in your life, but be honest. You can pad your resume, but don’t lie. Your ex knows who you are inside and out. You may want to intrigue just a little bit, but, mostly, be yourself. 

Keep Calm And Carry On: As the British post-war saying goes, don’t let anything ruffle you. You must maintain a calm demeanor and more forward. Your goal is to survive this ex encounter with as much dignity and grace as possible. It can be done, but there may be some challenges along the way. Maybe just seeing your ex makes you want to run right back into his/her arms, and you start feeling very awkward. Don’t worry, you probably don’t look as awkward as you feel. Maybe your ex is trying to win this running-into-an-ex game too and does something to upset you like, say, bringing up another girl or guy. Even worse, is that your ex may be already dating someone else. Don’t worry. Just say your hello, say your goodbye, and get on with it. No sweat. 

Need help getting over your ex? Check out www.StatusMakeover.com for transformative coaching programs + solid advice that will help you move forward fast when you are on your own.

Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

Single Editor's Welcome: March 1st-15th, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Pet Adoption

by Michelle Pease, Singles Editor

My fiancé, Justin, and I are animal people. We’ve seriously considered opting out of children to instead be pet parents. Seriously.

Before Justin moved in with me, we had agreed that we would add another cat to our “fur family” when he moved in.  My cat Peeps, an 11 year old orange tabby, needed a lot of extra attention that I couldn’t provide, so we figured our best bet was to give her a friend. But as we began the adoption process, we found that we were getting shot down or turned away… a lot.

“Have you ever thought about adopting a puppy?” I asked him one night after our hopes of adopting a gorgeous long-haired calico were destroyed.

Justin scoffed. “We don’t have the room for a puppy. And they’re a lot of work.”

I couldn’t disagree. We resolved to continue our kitty search in the morning.

That next morning, though, Justin had a picture of a Shiba Inu/Pomeranian mix on his screen and smiled, “Look how cute he is!”

Unfortunately, the puppy had already been adopted into another home. This began a discouraging pattern of rejection: many rescues and shelters were unwilling to adopt to us because we didn’t have a yard, even though we live across the street from a huge park. Just when we were about to call off the search for a while, we found Patti at the House of Hope Animal Rescue in Elkton, Maryland.

Patti was prompt, kind, helpful, and eager in all of her responses. Right away, she matched us with a 10 month old flat-coated retriever named Elliot. And on last Sunday night, we brought Elliot to his new forever home.

I’ve never owned a dog before, so this has definitely been a learning curve for me. Same for Peeps too, who, as of the publication of this blog, won’t interact with Elliot unless he’s quiet or asleep. (And by interact, I mean she might come within four feet of him, get into a guarded position, and stare.) She’s making incredible progress though, considering how scared she was of him initially. But for now, we’re keeping them separated and their interactions monitored.

How about you? Do you have a pet adoption story? Any tips for introducing a new dog to an old cat? Let’s hear your thoughts! Don't forget to enter our writing contest for singles!

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