My Big Fat Italian Engagement
Where do I begin to tell this story? If you’ve followed along for the past four years, you knew my dating life was more like a disaster story than anything. Somewhere along the quest of finding what I truly wanted out of life, I finally failed enough to prove myself worthy of the relationship of my dreams. And you know what? It’s a hell of a lot different than you’d think. The funny thing about finally getting what you want is that you probably won’t get it until you’ve become completely unattached from the outcome. At least that’s how it worked out for me.
Rewind to about two years ago, a was still single and had enough dating fails under my belt to make me feel completely exhausted by the modern dating world. Dating exhaustion is real and it ironically can mimic your daily life if you by chance happen to work in sales. If you’ve ever been a sales rep like me, you probably started out with a bit of an ego. You know your product, you’re good at your job, you show up and you’re ready to slay the day until a prospective client tells you no. Sales rejection, just like any rejection, can feel like a kick to the ego. Whether you’re familiar with the dating rejection or sales rejection, the first few no’s that you get can send the average person into a tail spin. On the flip side, once you get some momentum going, you start to brush off the no’s. By the end of my sales career, I was so thankful to receive a “no” from prospective clients because that meant I didn’t have to chase them anymore- I knew where I stood. The same can be said for a person in the dating field that has come across rejection after rejection- you eventually build up an immunity to it. Suddenly the sting isn’t so bad and you kind of stop caring. In a way, you detach from the outcome enough that your ego will no longer be bruised if you learn someone isn’t into you. This is your ultimate point of power.
This is exactly the place I was in life when I reconnected with my now fiancé. We had known each other back in our grade school days, but never considered dating before. By the time I finally agreed to go on a date with him, I had reached my limit of trying to appeal to men. I was done pretending like I loved sports, or like I was way more successful than I actually was, or playing to the former NFL cheerleader thing- I was so tired of trying to be anything other than myself, so I decided to just be me. And what do you know, the old saying was true- when you’re 100% true to who you are at the core, your perfect person shows up and it’s always when you’re not expecting it to happen. The rest is history. From there, we were inseparable. We moved in together way sooner than I’d like to admit and within a year and a half we were engaged.
Now to the part you actually want to read about- THE ENGAGEMENT! Being an Italian girl, my dream has always been to be married in Italy. I dreamt of a very small wedding with only the closest friends and family in attendance. Something about a big wedding gives me extreme anxiety. The thought of all the people in the room looking at me in that moment of pure vulnerability makes my heart beat out of my chest. I know, I know, how could someone who has cheered for 60,000+ fans have a fear of being seen? Remember the key word here- vulnerable. I never ugly cried or made public vows at a Rams game, so it’s a little different ball game to have an entire crowd of people watching you have a tender moment with someone you love.
The funny thing about finding your person is what you’ll be willing to give up. Due to some logistics with getting family and friends with young kids over to Italy, my then boyfriend (soon to be fiancé, hold your horses) brought me down to reality by saying there was just no way to be married in Italy, but we could take a trip there together just the two of us and have an epic vacation. Obviously a little sour about it, I obliged. I agree that one day whenever we get engaged, I’ll have a wedding in our hometown so that all the people we love most can be there. So, he plans this perfect little vacation to Italy to try to makeup for telling me the wedding of my dreams is out of the question.
Of course I’m still beyond excited to be taking a trip to Italy with my boyfriend. The day comes and we show up to the airport bright eyed and ready to get there. Getting out of St. Louis was a little tough. A small storm rolled through and ended up delaying our flight to Newark which created a snowball of horrible luck. I’ll spare you all the travel details because that’s a story in itself. It ended up taking us three days to get to Italy. We had delayed flights, cancelled flights and missed connecting flights. There was a small thought in the back of my mind that maybe I would be getting engaged on this trip, but that all went out the window once we ran into all the travel troubles. We went in and out of security checkpoints multiple times and he never acted strange, so I knew there wasn’t a ring in his pocket. The airline also lost our luggage, which he wanted to leave- so again, you wouldn’t be willing to ditch your bags just to get to Italy if you had an engagement ring hidden in your bag. So, in my mind I was sure there was no engagement, this was strictly going to be a vacation.
Three days and a two hour car ride later, we finally make it to Italy. I’m sleep deprived, exhausted and crabby. But I’m quickly reminded that we have to get ready for a photoshoot I planned in Positano. You see, when I realized I couldn’t have my dream wedding in Italy, I requested that we take professional pictures there that I could use one day whenever he did pop the question. So the plan was to have these pictures blown up and decorating my venue one day for an Italian theme wedding. However, considering all the travel issues, I was pissed that I had to look somewhat presentable for this photoshoot.
I pull myself together as quickly as possible and we head out for the photoshoot. We’re taking pictures and my then boyfriend Joe says he has to go to the bathroom- totally typical for a guy, so I think nothing of it. He says he's going to run to a local shop to use the restroom and tells the photographers to take some solo pics of me while he’s gone that I could use for my website (yeah right). So he runs off. Ten minutes go by and I can finally see him running back to us. At that point, the photographer says he’s going to take some solo pics of Joe- so I stand over to the side and start taking in the scenery, completely unaware of what’s about to happen. Joe drops down on one knee and I froze. Genuinely surprised and happy as could be, I couldn’t even utter the word “yes”. All I could do was ugly cry.
After I pulled it together, the photographer suggested that we take some pictures walking through the streets of Positano as a newly engaged couple. As we rounded the street corner, I got the second biggest shock of my life. Joe had surprised me with my parents and sister, as well as his parents- they had been there the whole time. I’m a writer and I can’t even begin to put into words how happy I was and still am that they were all there to share in this moment. We’re both of Italian decent, so to have both Dad’s in the “homeland” experiencing Italy together was a memory I’ll never forget. I’ll share pictures below so you can see how stunning I am when I’m truly shocked. STUNNING.
As it turns out, our families had been in Italy for two days waiting on us to get there. Joe’s Mom traveled with the ring in her pocket, so there would be no chance of me finding it while going through security. So when Joe ran back to the bathroom, he was actually grabbing the ring from his Mom. I never knew he was such a smooth operator- the amount of effort that he put into this is amazing. It’s one of the many, many reasons that I love him.
I don’t want this post to be too long, I’m thinking I’ll do a video detailing more about how it all went down. What I do want to share with you are some of the most important takeaways from the experience. If you hadn’t noticed, my first book, Suddenly Single: Modern Tales of Fairy-Fails was published days before I left for Italy. In a ten day span I went from suddenly single to suddenly engaged and I know that has everything to do with finally being true to myself. When you stop pretending and let your walls down, life shows up and the things that you’ve always wanted can fall into place in the most amazing way possible. All the things you think will matter don’t. Like that small Italian wedding I wanted, I could care less now. My fiancé wants a big Italian wedding in St. Louis, so guess what- we’ve having a HUGE wedding just the way he wants it. I’ll just have to get over my fear of crying in public.
All of my fairy fails leading up to my ultimate fairytale made me who I am today and I wouldn’t trade even the worst of moments as a single girl. Without them, maybe I wouldn’t realize how lucky I am today. People change and evolve as years go by and I think 2019 was probably the biggest year of personal growth for me. I’ve learned that the world opens up when you take off the mask of who you think you should be and start living as your authentic self. Fairytales are real, but you may have to kiss a few frogs before you finally find that prince. But believe me, it’s worth the wait.
If You Want To Be Successful in Business, Look At What You've Learned From Dating (As seen on thought catalog.com)
Yes, you read the title of this article correctly. Being successful in love goes hand-in-hand with finding success in your career. Seems off-putting at first glance, huh? It’s a concept that took me years to fully understand. Within the past year or so, I’ve found myself in a relationship beyond my wildest expectations and landed a new position that is far above what I thought possible for myself in a new industry. Neither of the two opportunities fell from the sky, I had to first get in tune with my true self.
Who am I? It’s a question we all find ourselves asking at one point or another. To find true love, you must be able to answer that question genuinely. Truth be told, a lot of knowing who you are comes from knowing who you are not. Knowing what you don’t want most often comes from experiences that we like to call failures, but the truth is that we can choose to see these setbacks as opportunities to learn what it is that we don’t want out of life. So, if you find you’re “failing” time and time again in either dating or your career, please realize that as long as you learn a lesson that guides you in a better direction, it’s still a win.
Life is full of lessons, whether we admit it or not. Oftentimes, those lessons follow us wherever we go until we finally pass the test. For me, connection has been an issue in my life for years. I’ve come a long way with it this year, but I still have some room for improvement. I realized that the only way out was in. Yes, you read that right — the only way out of your current struggle is to go within. What I mean is that you have to take the time to sit with yourself and ask, “What is it that’s causing this discord in my life?” Well, for me, the process of self-correcting made me realize that the very grit it would take to find connection in my work life was also mirrored in my dating life. Finding a relationship that felt like home meant I had some real work to do. Here are the lessons I learned:
1. You have to be authentic to connect with people.
The only way to truly connect is to be your true self — that same self that you may have been hiding for years. Hiding who you are can only protect you for so long. Soon enough your authentic self will have your gut screaming to just be.Dating is about connection. In today’s world, men and women are pros at sniffing out a phony. So do yourself a favor and lean in to your true self. The goal is to align with the type of person that matches what you need, but if you’re not honest about who you are, you can only blame yourself when things go south.
You might not even realize that you’re playing to the other person. So many people, myself included, are chronic people pleasers. People pleasers have trouble deciphering what they want out of life and relationships because they always have the other person in mind. It’s time to worry about yourself for once. It’s time to be you. Being authentic no matter the cost is the very thing that will lead you to the love of your life and take you to that next level in your career. How much further would you be if you could truly connect with your coworkers or your customers? Take a look at the most magnetic people that you know — what does that look like?
At the root of it all, the most magnetic and well-respected people have mastered the art of connection. They wear their personality like a badge of honor because they recognize that it’s the very thing that sets them apart from the rest. Be that person. Be the you that you are meant to be and make no apologies about who you are.
2. Speak honestly, even if that means letting someone down.You have to learn to be truthful, no matter what reaction you may get. Ghosting would be eliminated if people found a way to just be honest about how they feel. You may have the best intentions by ghosting someone to spare their feelings, but if you were on the receiving end, wouldn’t you want to know why something didn’t work out?
It may not be the greatest news to hear, but there is real power in knowing exactly where you stand. It allows you to close one door and move to the next thing with all of your energy. No one wants to be stuck wondering if they still have a chance. Give people the courtesy of knowing exactly where they stand with you. Business is no different. There’s nothing worse than someone that over-promises and under-delivers.
Speaking honestly from the start is the most beneficial approach to being respected in the workplace and in the dating world. It may not be easy, it may not always be comfortable, but it will save you from internal warfare in the end.
3. Learn to work through it. Whether it be friendships, romantic relationships or work relationships, the fact is that you can’t go run and hide when things get rocky. Well, you could, but chances are the same type of issue will resurface again and again until you have learned the lesson once and for all.
I’ve always been one to run and hide. I thought that if I could just start over, I would press the reset button and never have to face the things that made me feel uncomfortable. What I learned is that life will test you until you can pass that test successfully, so you may as well buckle down and face what’s in front of you.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are?” All that phrase means is that you cannot outrun your problems, because they will follow you wherever you go. Show up, sit with the obstacle at hand, and don’t allow it to take your power. You have what it takes to face your demons once and for all. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and the sooner you learn to work through what you’re facing, the better.
What kind of manager would you be if you always ran from conflict? Are you doing anyone a favor by avoiding the tough conversations you know must be had? What about in your relationships — will you ever have a meaningful relationship if you ignore the obvious issues at hand? Successful marriages are not made by both parties burying their heads in the sand.
Respect and communication are necessary for building the trust it takes for a lasting relationship. That means you can expect your fair share of uncomfortable conversations and situations. If you are searching for something long-term, whether it be a relationship or a career, you must learn to work through your obstacles. The alternative is being stuck on a treadmill going nowhere.
The bottom line with everything is to accept the challenges at hand and learn to adapt to them. Life is messy for all of us. Social media, movies and television all paint a picture of a nicely paved road to success, but that’s all bullshit. It’s time to stop pretending like we aren’t all facing real problems in our day-to-day lives.
Real success means real work. It means checking your pride at the door and being vulnerable. It means failing and falling and looking foolish when things don’t go as planned. Without this, you will only be going through the motions. To live is to fall down, but none of that matters as long as you get back up and begin again.
Choose to live a life that may have moments of uncertainty, but has the guarantee that you are living your full potential.
Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by dating exhaustion? I have, and I know I’m not alone here. I know what it’s like to think, “What’s wrong with me, what is it about me that seems to repel every person I try to date?” and, “Am I not good enough for this person?” These thoughts can not only drive you crazy, but can be the very reason you’re struggling to find love.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, what we really need to do is turn inward. Not with thoughts of what we did wrong, but with thoughts of what we can learn from this. Consider it your chance to check in and evaluate where you are in life. The first question you need to ask yourself is: Were you really being your authentic self, or were you playing to what you think the other person wanted to see? Were you being the nice girl that never made a fuss even when situations came about that were worthy of questioning? Were you altering any side of your personality to make yourself more appealing to the other person? I bet the answer is yes. And believe me, I know from experience that this approach to dating will cause exhaustion faster than ever.
The lesson that took me the longest to learn in life was embracing who I truly am at the core. Every flaw, every personality quirk, both good and bad, served a greater purpose and ultimately made me uniquely myself. Whether we realize it or not, at the root of it all, what people are really searching for is authentic connection. We’re all looking for that person that’s just as weird as we are! We’re looking for love that just clicks, but we’re never going to find it by altering ourselves to fit into someone else’s life. Changing any side of your personality in an effort to find love will always fail. It may not fail at first, but keep in mind that people aren’t stupid. People can tell when we’re not real or when we’re holding back in some sort of way. That sort of mystery and lack of connection is what costs so many of us in the dating world. Being calculated and “pitching” yourself to best fit the other person’s life will undoubtedly bring about a messy dynamic in your relationship and most likely cause it to end in disaster.
The best advice I could possibly give you when looking for a relationship is to stop trying to avoid the mess. You aren’t going to get into the modern dating world without hitting some bumps in the road. It’s messy, it’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, but knowing what to expect is half the battle. I’ve always said that when it comes to dating, check your pride at the door. You will have to be vulnerable to find the relationship of your dreams, bar none. I didn’t find that relationship for myself until I overcame this, and to be honest, learning to be vulnerable will probably be something I struggle with to some degree for the rest of my life. You don’t have to be perfect at it, you just have to consistently make progress.
Recognize what it is in your life that’s holding you back—there’s a good chance this very thing has crossed over into your career as well without you realizing it. I’ve noticed there are many things that are mirrored in both business and relationships. A few of the biggest I see are confidence, vulnerability and finding connection. If you master connection in the dating world, imagine what kinds of changes that could make in a business setting. Wouldn’t you find benefit from connecting more with your co-workers or customers? I think so! So do the internal work that is necessary once and for all—you’ll forever reap the benefits. Be true to yourself and watch the doors open.
The funny thing is, once you know who you are, you stop caring about fitting into someone else’s life and you start being really picky about the type of people you allow into your world. That’s where the magic happens. It’s kinda like learning how to say no for the first time—it’s freeing! Love isn’t calculated, so do yourself a favor and spend your time and energy on becoming your best self, and more importantly, your true self. If you don’t know who you are, you will never know what you truly need from your partner. We all know what dating aimlessly looks like, but it’s time to get serious about what you need in life. What are your non-negotiables? Decide what qualities are an absolute must in a relationship and don’t settle until you get the relationship that best fits your needs.
Don’t waste time changing any side of your personality unless it’s a true character flaw that needs to be addressed. We’ve all got work to do, but that’s part of being human. We’re designed to grow and evolve! Don’t see internal work as a bad thing, but rather as a piece of the puzzle that’s necessary to become the person you are meant to be. When you focus on the outside world, you give away your power. Always go within to decide what you want, what needs work, and what it will take to live the life you deserve. We’re all worthy of love, but the ugly truth is that we’re not all ready for it just yet. And that’s okay!
If I were to be given my ideal relationship a few years ago, it would have failed simply because, despite what I thought, I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted out of life and in turn what I needed out of a partner. Looking back, that didn’t make me a failure or a person that was unworthy of love, it just meant I had more life to live first. I had more learning and growing to do before I would be ready to accept and appreciate a relationship like the one I have now. If I could go back to my younger self, I’d say, “Snap out of it!” It has nothing to do with self-worth and everything to do with timing. You will find what you want when it best fits your life—trust the process.
So wherever you are in the dating process, I hope you realize that you deserve a partner that loves you for who you are no matter what. And you will find that person when you stop playing games and start getting real. Tell the truth, be who you are and take the risk, even if it leads to rejection at first. Eventually the right fit will come along and everything will make sense.
Learn To Live As The Best Version Of You
By: Michele Russo of The Dime Series, As seen on Thought Catalog.
“I’m just out here trying to live my best life.”
Sound familiar? It’s a phrase so many of us have heard lately, but what does it mean? I think living your best life is much more than going on extravagant vacations or having the money it takes to afford such a trip. While those things are great, life is more than just living for that next Instagram picture that’s going to get the most likes because, in the end, it’s nothing more than empty attention. So, what does it mean to live your best life? To me, it’s more about developing the best version of yourself that causes you to truly live up to your full potential.
In college, I found myself trudging through a long day of classes on the first day of a new semester. I was uninterested in my university, my classes, and my teachers. It seemed that none of the professors had ever actually worked in the industry, they just taught by the books and expected the students to follow suit. I was not about to learn from someone with no life experience, so I dozed off, gave minimal effort, staring out the windows with no real interest until one teacher came along and changed my life forever.
Initially, I thought this guy was crazy. He showed up to class 15 minutes late and after introducing himself, immediately spoke of our first assignment. What he asked of our class sent shockwaves over the room: he wanted us to write our own eulogies. It seemed like the most ridiculous morbid assignment I had ever been given. I was disgusted by the assignment but nonetheless decided to put my head down and complete the task. During the second class, our professor asked that a few students read their eulogies aloud. He let about three people share before he stopped and said, “You guys have it all wrong, and here lies the lesson. So often, when we describe ourselves we start naming off the accomplishments in our lives, but you see, those things provide no value. Tell me who you are and the type of person you want to be remembered as in this world. I don’t care if you’re at the top of your class, tell me the story that brought you to that point, explain to me your grit.” It was at that moment that my life changed forever. Throughout the semester, he not only taught me how to tell a good story, but he taught me that every person has a story and each story is worth hearing. It was in his class that I realized it was possible to change people’s lives through storytelling because he changed mine and I will forever be grateful for that message.
As time went on, our class learned that our professor was a former Hollywood screenwriter, so telling stories was a skill he had mastered at the highest level. His tagline to his students when they felt any sense of doubt was, “Go with God.” Interesting advice to be given by a college professor, right? I think what he meant was choose love. Choose faith, choose to slow down and realize what really matters in life- I promise it’s not the amount of “likes” you get on an Instagram post. Choose to take the time to listen to the stories of others, because you never know when someone will stop you dead in your tracks and change your life forever with their story.
Judgment holds us back from a world full of adventure. If I would have allowed my initial judgment of the professor that I once thought was so morbid get in my way, I would have missed one of the greatest lessons of my life.
So, how does this story apply to the dating world? Well, for starters, I hope it teaches you to stop judging every book by its cover. We are all so quick to judge people, especially on dating apps. We’re out there swiping left and right mindlessly, maybe it’s time to take a second to read a few bios. Maybe it’s time to take a chance with someone new that normally would never catch your eye. Branch out and go on that date with the type of person that just “isn’t your type.” You never know who you could meet in the process of dating that will forever change your perspective or inspire you in some type of way. And when it comes to dating profiles, instead of listing all your wants and needs like a personal plea to the universe, try writing your story as the type of person you are at your core. Hell, at the very least, just remember who that person is when you’re dating. Hiding behind a resume or list of reasons why people should remember you is the last thing on earth that’s going to bring you the truly loving relationship of your dreams. In order to find that type of partner, you’re going to need to be authentic and open. You’ll have to take a chance and stop hiding your profile filled with things you think people want to hear. Be real.
If you don’t know who you are- and believe me, there’s no shame in that, but you’re going to have a hell of a time deciding what it is that you want. So, how do you start finding out who you are? Well, simply put, you stop saying no… No, I won’t date him. No, I won’t try that. No, I won’t take that chance, I know how it will end up anyway. That type of thinking won’t get you anywhere. Learn to jump, take a chance at love and most importantly let love in. You would be amazed at how much we block ourselves from out of fear. My advice to you is to allow yourself to become the person you were always meant to be, write your own story and don’t allow the negative experiences in your life to sit in your mind and hold you back from the life of your dreams. Use the negative past experiences as a way to help define the direction you want your life to go. It’s your story, so tell me…
Who do you want to be?
Learning to Pivot
By Michele Russo
At every stage of your life, no matter how successful you may be, you will undoubtedly be faced with a situation that calls you to show up in a big way. For me, one of the biggest struggles has been knowing where I fit in. I’m just not the norm and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will be. I guess I’ve never had a strong sense of who I am, but I did have a strong sense of knowing who I am not. The process of getting to know yourself is a long road, full of dips and turns. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something else happens that makes you question if you really know who you are and what you want for your life. Yes, we all know who we are on some level, but I’m talking about knowing enough about who you are and what you want out of your life to be able to drown out the noise of society. It’s taken me years to come to the conclusion that the majority of my issues came from conforming to the “shoulds” in life. You should be married by this age, you should have a job that wows your peers, you should be a certain weight- the list goes on and on. I’ve finally realized that true happiness comes from throwing those shoulds out the window and navigating my own life.
These shoulds are not a way of society attacking us, but rather a gauge of what has worked in the past for the masses. And you know what? It’s ok if you don’t fit in with the masses. This past week, I started a new job that has given me immense clarity in the road to finding my true calling. (And guess what? My calling is not just one thing.)
To say this week started out rough would be an understatement. I could paint you a pretty picture about how I started this glamorous new job at a magazine and how fabulous it was, but that would be mostly smoke and mirrors. And while it is a fabulous job, or could be, it initially shocked me into realizing that I’m not very good at sales. Which is ironic considering that I spent years in a family business selling products with ease. The difference is coming from a retail setting where customers came to me, to now having to find my own customers and approach them for a sale. I started the week with generic cold call style emails that fit the normal criteria of a business email. Cold, boring and impersonal. I reached out to people in this way because it felt like what I was supposed to do. I SHOULD follow suit and reach out to potential clients the same way my sales manager does. Well, it didn’t work. I got kicked in the gut over and over with responses of rejection. I learned that I am afraid of rejection, each time I got an email back respectfully declining to purchase advertising I felt a blow to my ego. You know why? Because I wasn’t being true to myself. My gut told me the whole time that my approach wasn’t going to work. Hell, I wouldn’t buy from that style of sales either. Here’s the part where I tell you I had an epiphany and suddenly things changed for the better. Well, yes and no. First I spent a few days bitching and moaning to my friends about how this was just not for me. Oh, and crying like a small child. Can’t forget that. I complained about how I’ll never fit into this office and how I don’t want to fit in- I’d rather quit. But, deep down I knew that wasn’t the answer either. The universe isn’t out to get you, but it is here to teach you and make sure that you’re growing.
Let me tell you something about growing- it sucks. And you don’t even realize that within your pain is a valuable lesson that can’t be taught by reading a book or listening to a podcast, you’ve just got to experience it to gain the valuable lesson. My lesson was learning to pivot. I decided after some good old ugly cries that I was going to take the lesson. I used what wasn't working as a guide to lead me to what ultimately did work, speaking from my heart. I threw the bullshit sales pitch out the window and started to reach out to potential clients with a mindset of how can I be of service? And just like that, things got better and I started to find my flow. It was something I would never have found if I kept navigating off the shoulds. I should sell like this, I should approach a client like this… no, I should do what feels right for me and let that guide me. So I chose to pivot. Pivoting is allowing, it’s not beating yourself up for something you experienced that didn’t work. It’s allowing those things to teach you, not taking it personal if it doesn’t work and moving towards what does work. I promise a really ugly process can actually paint a pretty picture.
Towards the end of the week, I started to talk more with a woman that sits across from me in the office. We started talking about what led me to the position in the first place. I told her I wanted to be in the environment of the magazine because I have a side gig of writing, starting a podcast, and joining The Great Love Debate on tour. I shared how just a few weeks ago I was interviewing Ben Higgins from The Bachelor for my podcast and before I could get too into describing my side hustle in full detail, she cut me off saying, “Wow, your life is so glamorous, why would you want to go get a job at a magazine?”
It was a valid question. Suddenly, I found myself dumbstruck by what she had asked me. As I drove home that night I started to reflect on what caused me to go out and get a “real” job. You know why I took the job? Because I felt like it was something I should do. I allowed fear to step in. The thought alone put me in a tailspin almost all week. I spent majority of my time feeling terrible, tears flowing, feeling like I had taken ten steps forward only to end up behind in the end. I felt like I let myself down and given up on the chance of one day building The Dime Series into a brand that made a difference in people’s lives? Thankfully, by Friday I was able to gain the clarity I needed with the help of my amazing friends and family. Yes, I made a choice that may have seemed like a step backwards, but the lessons I’m learning are going to be the very thing that propels me closer to the ultimate dream of building my brand. Without learning that authentic connection is the only way to build a relationship with people, I would be that much more behind in the process. But the most important part of the story is that I learned how to pivot. I made a choice that didn’t seem to fit in with this glamorous life I wanted to build, but every choice you make does serve a purpose- I can promise you that. Getting to know yourself takes a lot of time. Think about it, all our lives we’re influenced by others about what type of job is acceptable and honorable, what kind of person we should be attracted to, how we should dress and the proper way to act in society. It’s taken me my whole life up until this point to be able to finally decide for myself how I want to live my life for ME.
If you’re like me and struggled to dream for yourself about what type of career, relationship or life was right for you, I invite you to learn the power behind pivoting. When I think of the word pivot, all I hear is Ross Gellar from Friends screaming “PIVOT!” in my ear. What I mean by learning to pivot is I want you to learn to give yourself a break. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a kinesthetic learner. I have to experience something for myself to get the full effect. I can’t read about what types of things to avoid, I could listen to motivational stories all day, but the fact is, in order to truly grow, I need to experience it for myself. There really is no such thing as failure, it’s all how we choose to perceive it. I could see taking a day job as a failure, or use it as a gauge to my gut- telling me if I’m on the right path or not. And if not, I pivot. If a relationship you’ve entered isn’t serving you, PIVOT. If a job isn’t giving you what you need, ignore the fear and PIVOT. Don’t beat yourself up and label everything that doesn’t serve you as a failure of some sort. It’s not a failure if you learn from it or if it guides you in some way. One of the best ways to find clarity is to “fail” because when you fail, you gain a clear picture of what you don’t want and slowly begin to chip away at the picture of what you do want. Stop putting pressure on yourself to have it all figured out, because the truth is that none of us have everything figured out. Most people are just unwilling to ever show a vulnerable side and admit to having feelings of failure and regret. But that doesn’t mean those feelings don’t exist for all of us.
Having the woman at my office say to me, “You’re so lucky, you get to travel and write and create this dream life” got me thinking. I thought, I hope that’s not the image I’m giving to my readers. If it is, allow me to give you some truth juice. What you don’t see is that I feel like I’ve failed on some level nearly every day. This week was just one of those times where nothing was ever enough. Some days I question my writing career, question my amount of followers and feel like I’m not providing enough content to make a difference. But that’s just fear setting in and we all feel that at one point or another. I struggle, I fall and I fail and so does everyone else! They just might not be as honest about it. When the clouds settle in, I have no choice but to pick myself up and start again- I pivot. And so should you.
So, tomorrow starts a whole new week and if you allow it, a whole new perspective. This week, my question is this: Will you start again with me? Will you start seeing your past let downs as a chance to pivot in the direction that is closer to your dreams? Do something scary and take the leap. I hope this helps you in some way. It might not be the best thing I’ve ever written, but it is most certainly the realest thing I’ve written in a long time.
Until next week, Dimes.
It’s The Little Things
By: Michele Russo
Hi Dimes! After a short break, I’m back with a fresh outlook on relationships. The best/worst part about producing creative content is that you have no control over what comes to you. I’ve chosen to follow my own timeline when it comes to writing. If I don’t have a piece of content I feel strongly about sharing, I’d frankly rather not share. That being said, my time off has given me a lot to think about. I typically find myself writing about all the things that go wrong in relationships, but I’ve recently thought to myself- “What’s behind the magic of a successful relationship?
When I think about the strongest relationship I’ve seen, I instantly think of my parents. They’ve been together for nearly forty years. As some relationships do, theirs never struck me as anything forced out of convenience. Although I’m sure its no walk in the park, I do know that its built on a strong foundation of trust and respect. Their story has stood the test of time and left me wondering, what the hell made it so right? Each time I felt I failed in a personal relationship, a flash of the greatest union I’ve seen would enter my mind. It has taken my whole life, but I’ve finally figured it out… When it comes to relationships, it’s the little things that matter.
A little back story on me: I grew up behind the counters of my Dad’s outdoor power equipment dealership. Far from girly, I know, but the experience will forever be the greatest character building experience of my life. We sold everything from large to small mowers, for both homeowners as well as the large landscapers you would expect. Whenever I would come home boasting about selling a large $10,000.00 mower, my Dad’s response was the same. “That’s great, but always remember it’s just as important to sell a $2 spark plug.” Being young and not fully grasping the concept, I brushed his response off time after time. Now at the age of nearly thirty, I finally understand what my Dad meant all those years. It is this very understanding that led him to become a successful businessman, husband and father.
If you think back at some of your relationships that may have ended, consider the root of your problems. Deep down, at the very primitive level, there is some sort of unraveling that begins with a lack of effort. Even in the case of cheating, there is normally some sort of need thats not being met that influences a persons decision of looking outside of their relationship for the fix. On a very basic level, what if we went to the root of the problem? What if, like my father, we not only were present for the large aspects of a relationship- birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day. What if we were present enough to make little efforts at all times? It’s important to develop a sense of presence in all of the relationships in your life, whether you want to be a great partner, great boss or a great friend, the formula is the same. Show up. Give a shit. Show with your whole heart that you give a shit.
It’s easy for a person to show up for the obvious times like a special occasion. However, the things that are necessary for a lasting marriage are far beyond the obvious. For my parents, love wasn’t built over a giant engagement ring or long trips to Greece. Love was built over the little things: bringing my Mom coffee every morning or planting her favorite rose bush outside, for example. It was sitting at the table talking until 3 a.m. until the issue thats been bothering her was resolved. It was finding a way to let your partner know they aren’t alone in whatever they’re battling. Those are the little things that add up to the big picture of a love that lasts. Remember that the next time you see a couple blasting their love over Instagram. Don't get me wrong, trips and material things are great, but if that’s all you have, it will eventually wear out. When the thrill of a fancy gift fades, you are left with the bare bones of the relationship. If you don’t have a way of showing the other person you care besides the obvious, you’re in trouble. At the end of the day, I think most women just want to know that they mattered. When you listen, we feel like what we had to say mattered. When you make a little effort, we know we matter to you. We’re all overcomplicating things when it comes to dating and marriage. Revert back to your childhood for a second, did your Mom ever write a little note in your lunch box wishing you luck for a test or soccer game later that day? Mine did, and while it was simple, it was the greatest surprise of my day. It took her five seconds, but it let me know she cared and was thinking about me. Let the other person know you care, build trust and show up for the small things as well as the big moments. What you’ll find is a relationship you can depend on.
Until next time, Xx.
9 For Sure Signs He’s Just Not That Into You
Written by: Michele Russo of The Dime Series
So, you've found yourself in the tangled web that is the modern dating world? Hello text messages with no reply, late night phone calls or the agonizing never ending game of cat and mouse. In an effort to reduce your desire to play in oncoming traffic, allow me to help you realize if you are in fact infatuated with yet another unavailable man. If you find that you relate to more than five of the following scenarios, it might be time to throw in the towel with the person putting you through this slow hell. I write this with love, because I have had no choice but to face the music in my own dating life. What you are about to read may seem harsh, but you know what they say: the truth hurts.
1. He has no real intent with you. When someone has no real intent of dating you, it will seem as though your questions are never really answered. If you dare to ask where things are going, chances are you will find yourself in a cloud of confusion fit for a modern dater. Keep in mind that an unavailable man will typically avoid coming out and saying he's just not that into you. He'll dodge the question, or tell you he isn't sure what he wants. Maybe he doesn't want to break your heart or maybe he isn't ready to lose you all together, but either way you are left with the mind numbing task of deciding if things could turn into something between the two of you. Good luck with that!
2. Communication only happens on the weekends. You only talk when it's time to make plans for the weekend... unless he throws you a "like" on social media. We've all been there, using social media as a gauge to measure just how interested someone actually is. An Instagram "like" is nothing more than a weak attempt at flirting. It's a click of a mouse, people. If social media activity is the only glimmer of hope you have with a person- snap out of it! I don't care if he likes every photo you post or watches your Snapchat story the second it hits his feed, these things are just false hope of a relationship to come. When someone cares, they will do whatever it takes to make sure you know that. If a guy doesn't care how your day went, chances are he has no plans of becoming your boyfriend.
3. He flat out tells you he's not ready for anything serious. Why do we always think we can change someone's mind? A guy is coming right out and saying he isn't ready to commit, yet we think we can somehow change his mind. Ask yourself this question: even if you could change his mind, do you really want to have to convince someone to care about you? It sounds harsh, and that's because it is harsh. The bottom line is you should never have to tell someone how great you are, the right person would have figured that out on their own. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, when someone shows you who they are (or in this case, how they feel) LISTEN!
4. He puts zero effort into seeing you. Do you find yourself only meeting up when it's convenient for him? A selfish person is often an unavailable person. If you launch like a crazy person every time you get a half ass invite to see this guy, you have no one to blame but yourself. Stop being so available! Like it or not, we are the ones setting the tone for what types of behavior is acceptable from others. If you allow someone to treat you like you're second fiddle, you will always be the back burner girl. The back burner girl is the girl left on hold, only to be contacted when better options fall through. You know you're his second option if you only get late night weekend texts. Don't kid yourself- there is absolutely nothing sweet about a late night text from the man of your dreams. It just means he wants something- and it's not your heart.
5. He teases you about you flaws. This one took me a little longer to learn: a polite bully is still a bully. You might think teasing is just playful flirting, but you could be wrong. There is a slim chance that the person cutting you down is somehow going to morph into your biggest fan. Sometimes when a guy points out your flaws (i.e. you're so high maintenance or you're bossy) he could be trying to tell you in a subtle way that he's just not that into you. Before you go changing who you are, remember that your flaws aren't always bad, they just don't appeal to everyone. I mean, Beyonce is high maintenance and bossy, but we still think she's a queen.
6. He only says what you want to hear when he's drunk. We all have high hopes of getting sweet nothings from our crush, but dating in this age often leaves us with drunk nothings. If alcohol is your only friend in the relationship, you've got problems. Attention and affection are things that should be present at all times, not just after six shots of tequila. They say the truth comes out when you're drunk. This may be true, but drunk affection doesn't make up for bad behavior. When a guy is truly interested, you will know it. Even the types of guys that never commit will make every last effort to show interest when they meet the girl that really attracts them. You may not be the girl of his dreams, and that's ok. That doesn't mean you aren't someone else's dream girl.
7. You always send the first text. Is it acceptable to send the first text? Yes. Is it acceptable to always text first? NO! Have you ever sat around with friends looking for their reassurance about an unavailable guy? I have more times than I'd like to admit. Girls have a way of rationalizing the most telling signs of an uninterested man. We can always come up with a reasonable explanation of why he isn't texting. Believe me, I've made excuses with the best of them. I hate to break it to you, pretty girl, but if you have to ask yourself if he's thinking about you- chances are he's not thinking about you.
8. He's never taken you on an actual date. Buying you drinks at a bar is not a date. Real dates require effort, picking up a tab at a bar does not. A simple way to ask yourself where you stand with someone is to question their intent. If a guy intends to get to know you, he will put forth the effort to plan a real date. If he is hoping to take you home, his intent will most likely be to impress you by buying your drinks at a scrubby bar. Actions and effort speak louder than words, my friends.
9. You feel like you're trying too hard. The single best piece of advice a friend has ever given me is that it should be easy. It seems so simple, and that's because it should be simple. The beginning phases of the relationship should be the easiest. Deciding if someone is worth committing to comes naturally without question when you're with the right one. As you progress and date long term, real issues will come about. So, if you are struggling in the beginning stages of a relationship, how can you expect things to go when your hit with a real problem? Deep down we all know the answers to our own questions, we just might not be ready to listen to our gut. The fact is, if someone is interested, you will know it. If someone is half-interested, you will also know it. The question is: will you take your blinders off and admit it?
Today on the blog, I'm sharing some of my all time FAVORITE products that will give you a fresh glow whether you're headed out for a date with your Valentine or a night out with friends. First up, my newest obsession: everything and anything Charlotte Tilbury! My two Charlotte Tilbury favorites are the Wonder Glow Primer and the Hollywood Contour Wands. When I was in New York for The Great Love Debate show, I used Priv to find a great makeup artist. I have a ton of experience with makeup from my game days as an NFL cheerleader, but since I was invited to be on the panel to speak for the event, I decided to treat myself. Priv sent me the greatest artist who sparked my obsession with Charlotte Tilbury's products. If you have normal to dry skin, this primer (in the picture above) will change your life- you're welcome!
Next up, the highlight and contour wands- hands down, the easiest tools to give you that celebrity glow! I love these products because you can use them on the go and they still make you look like you've been sitting in a makeup chair for an hour.
If the Charlotte Tilbury products aren't enough for you, another brightening product I love, especially for the under eye, is the Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer (in the first photo). I use the shade Vanilla. It's not too light, but still seems to make my dark circles disappear. This can be applied with your finger- which is reason to buy the product alone. There's nothing worse than spending an hour of your Sunday washing your makeup brushes, so any product that doesn't require a brush has my approval!
Also featured in the main photo above is my ride or die Mac blush in the shade Melba. If you are a Jaclyn Hill fan like me, you know why Melba is worthy of the praise it has gotten over the years. It's the perfect shade of pink for those of us who hate too much pink when it comes to cosmetics. This blush almost has a nude hue to it, with just enough of a pop to give you a warm glow without looking like you took a Crayola crayon to your face.
To finish your Valentine's Day look you need a lipstick. While I am an avid Mac snob when it comes to lipstick, I have to branch out and give credit where credit is due... The Kylie Jenner Lip Kit. I know, I hate to say it, but the girl has created a hell of a product. While it can be a tad on the dry side, you can combat that with a gloss over the top. When it comes to Valentine's Day, you need a product with longevity- and this stuff doesn't move. I can say with total confidence that this product will stay on all night. I like a nude lip, so I always reach for the shade Exposed. If you want to go for a red lip to vamp it up, try pairing it with a more neutral eye to get a more sultry look. I say go for full glam!
Happy Valentine's Day, Dimes!
By Michele Russo
In today’s world, dating is far less “fluffy” than ever before. Social media, 10-second attention spans and the illusion of endless options have us swiping left on apps like Tinder and Bumble faster than ever. No matter how cruel it may seem, for many of us this is the new normal in terms of the dating process.
When entering unchartered territories as a newly single person, it’s important to prepare yourself for some of the bumps you will face along the way. After years of experiencing the epidemic of dating woes first hand, I’ve gathered some general advice to dating that seems to apply to everyone. If you are frustrated in your love life, consider the following truths in an effort to date smarter.
Actions will always speak louder than words. This will never change. No matter how busy, someone who is truly interested will make every effort to make their feelings known. When someone is really into you, they will find a way to text you, call you and court you, at all costs and against all odds.
Have you ever thought someone you liked was just playing hard to get? Well, maybe that is the case, but more often than not, if you have to question whether a person is interested, chances are they are not interested. We spend way too much time searching for hidden meanings when the answer to our question is right in front of our faces. Taking days to reply to a text, being too busy to meet up and never making the effort to plan a real date are all signs of where you stand. As much as we all hate to admit it, the signs are everywhere. It’s up to us whether we choose to see them or not.
When someone shows you who they are, it is important to take off your rose-colored glasses and see them — really see them. There are few things more annoying than being ignored. If you’re an over-thinker, being ghosted can cause the floodgates of self-doubt to swing open making the most confident person question their every move. Tame your impulsive desire to text him/her obsessively; nothing good will come of it. Rather than foolishly chasing something you never really had, accept the reality and move on. Unfortunately, this is just a part of dating. Some people are the types who need to know why things ended, but with ghosting at an all-time high, we need to accept that we may never have the answer to what went wrong. We just have to move on. Besides, do you really want to have to convince someone to date you? You will save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache if you learn to read between the lines early on.
I have two close friends, both in admirably healthy marriages, who have told me on numerous occasions (typically following a heartbreak) that the early stages of dating should be the easiest part. If you find yourself making excuses for bad behavior by your significant other, imagine how much worse that would be five years down the road, when real issues in life are thrown your way.
No matter their age or level of dating experience, most men and women struggle with relationships because they make the mistake of looking for love and validation from others, instead of finding it first within themselves. When you attach your value to another person's perception of you, you give away your power and become dependent. The outcome or condition of a relationship should never leaving us questioning our self-worth. Being loved is all we are searching for at the end of the day, but the process of finding love can often cause us to lose confidence with ourselves.
No one is exempt from feeling self-doubt when faced with rejection; it just comes with the territory. Having a good relationship with yourself first will always be the foundation needed to create a healthy relationship with someone else. If you are confident in who you are, you will be able to shake off any missed connections and move forward.
Date for the right reasons — do not date to fill a void; that will only end in disaster. Reaching for a temporary solution to mask what you are feeling on the inside will only cause you more trouble in the long run. When you focus on being your best self first, anyone you meet along the way will be a bonus, so stop looking for someone to “fix” you. Fix your own damn self.
The incessant need for instant gratification makes finding a relationship of substance seem impossible. Living in such a technologically advanced time is great, but can also cause a false sense of reality when it comes to real time. It seems as if society is so much more impatient now that we have the world at our fingertips. In some ways, this can be both a blessing and a curse.
The Internet can find you a date almost instantly, but it’s up to you to take it from there. Finding eternal bliss will never be as easy as booking a Southwest flight. We forget that even the healthiest of relationships require real work. Say it with me, people: “Real love requires real work.”
Social media is partly to blame for this mentality. People like to show off and tend to show only the good stuff. We’re all guilty of it. This makes the false reality even worse: We forget what it takes to get what we want.
Let’s say you see a friend post about their first day at work for a prominent law firm. What that person isn’t showing is the mountain of student loan debt it took to get to that position or the countless hours they spent studying for the bar. Posting a picture of your shining moment is great and well-deserved, but don’t let a picture fool you. Real rewards will require real work.
It’s important not to base your life around the idealistic perception of what should be — what your life should look like, whom you should be dating, etc. Living your life by the shoulds is the fastest way to feel unsatisfied. If something is worth having, it is worth working for. We forget the fact that all relationships — even the best relationships — will experience lows.Rather than jumping right back into less-than-loving arms of Tinder, consider giving that guy or girl a second chance and working through your issues.
Human beings crave companionship, not necessarily commitment. Like it or not, there is a rising number of people on dating sites "window shopping" with no real intent of entering into a relationship. Some people think they can have all the benefits of a relationship without making the effort of a commitment, so you have to be prepared to experience both types of people — the commitment-phobes and those willing to commit — in your quest for love.
You cannot allow your world to end whenever you face rejection. Fear of failure will only cause you to fail more, so learn not to personalize it. If you can’t build a thicker skin, you have no business entering into the dating world, especially the online dating world. If you allow it, these dating sites will drive you insane. Instead, know in advance that some people are in it for all the right reasons; it just make a little more time to find those people. Don’t lose hope.
Take It Down A Notch, #Girlboss
(As featured in Thought Catalog)
In today’s world, we are overwhelmed with the pressure to achieve. Facebook pages are flooded with crowing moments of achievement used as a personal badge of worthiness. The pressure to be great is, in fact, much greater than it has ever been in the past. It seems we idolize the girl who can do it all. It is the #girlboss who has become admirable because she is a woman building an empire or killing it in a male-driven business world.
I’ve always identified with Miss Independent, the girl who could do it all. While I’ve always striven to challenge myself, I actually fell into being self-reliant by default over the years.
Coming from a family-owned business, I was strong because I had to be. I learned to do everything myself in the best way I knew how rather than risk of jeopardizing a business my parents worked their whole lives to build. Solving a problem before it was a problem became a way of life for me, and I found myself constantly saying, “If I want it done right, I’ll do it myself.”
The better I became at my work, the better I felt.
When things in my personal life let me down, I’d find comfort in knowing that them business world was always a place that I could find my redemption. If I got in a fight with my boyfriend, at least I could throw myself into my work and directly see my effort pay off as I logged into my online banking account. As strange as it sounds, the business world was safe to me. It never let me down as much as my relationships had.
Because of this, I slowly used my success as a crutch any time my personal life had a bump in the road. “Screw them, I’ll show them.”
Yes, it was true: The best revenge was my own success. I proved that I really could do it all myself, but being Superwoman doesn’t necessarily make you a strong woman. It was a mask I was hiding behind. I was confusing my success with strength. I realized that being able to support myself on my own was great, but that we’re not meant to do everything ourselves. We all need support in our lives.
The problem with this girlboss mentality is knowing when to turn it off. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being successful that we forget to be human. We are instantly shut down in the business world if we show any signs of vulnerability, so we learn to be assertive. In turn, we end up closing off a portion of the vulnerable side of ourselves that is necessary in our personal relationships.
Sometimes you know, those who seemingly have the world in the palms of their hands, are actually struggling more than you could realize.
There seems to be some sort of misconception making us think that the more independent we are, the less chance we will have of getting hurt or making poor choices in a relationship.
While independence is something everyone needs to have, it is not something that needs to overpower your life. We all need someone to lean on, be it a friendship that has its ups and downs, a partner who has hurt us, or a family member whom we have low-key resented since birth. None of these relationships are perfect; far from it, they are messy.
Somewhere within the mess, though, lies the beauty of it all. Have you ever stepped back from a screwed-up situation and realized how perfect it is in its own way? The mess is perfect, and it’s perfect because it’s real, it’s authentic. The screaming kids, the messy kitchen; the daily chaos, all of it is perfection whether we realize it or not. The root of it is love. Your business can never give you that.
Your career will never love you back, only people can. Be sure to leave room for them.
What I’m saying here, girlboss, is to learn to let love in. In your quest for everything great, never forget to save a seat for love in your life. The problem with being an overly independent womani
is that you leave no place for a man. If a man feels that he has no place in your life, he will most definitely pull back effort to avoid the risk of being hurt. This leads to the girlboss building resentment toward the relationship because she feels alone, but unfortunately more often than not, we might be lying in the bed we made ourselves.
I recently asked one of my guy friends about his thoughts on trying to pursue an overly independent girl. I was expecting him to say the biggest negative aspect for men was feeling like they had to compete with a woman’s success, or something about girls jumping on the feminism train, but his answer was nothing of the sort. “Guys just want to feel needed. There’s no better feeling than that.”
My mind was blown. His opinion really struck a cord in me. For years, I had convinced myself that men were just intimidated by independent women, and in some cases, that could still be true. But his opinion was true as well.
What if the problem that Superwoman faces is not that she is intimidating to men, but rather that she simply doesn’t need a man, or anyone else, for that matter? Men have a deep-rooted need to care for women, and when the feeling of being needed is gone, problems arise. It turns out that this has nothing to do with gender roles. It just comes down to feeling valued within a relationship. After all, everyone needs a place at the table.
Just because you are capable of doing everything yourself doesn’t mean you will find happiness in doing everything yourself. We have to learn to accept help sometimes.
You will not lose all your girlboss qualities by allowing someone to care for you, so strive to find that balance in your relationships. Keep the “boss bitch” at work where she belongs, do not invite her into your personal life. Drop the incessant need to always be right, to always having the perfect rebuttal at the mere sign of a disagreement.
I think a lot of girlbosses use their independence as a defense mechanism, as if constantly being on guard will protect us in some way from feeling vulnerable.
But trust me, this is real life we’re talking about. There is no way to run from feeling silly or vulnerable.
We have to check our pride at the door when it comes to relationships, and just be real. Now, I’m not saying to throw away your independence. Far from it. Just try not to be a callused, ball-busting superwoman when you don’t have to be, because to some degree, it’s a front. It’s just a form of protection we think is necessary. If you step back and look at the best relationships you can bring to mind, I’ll bet the reason they work is not because one person is a super-hero constantly taking the lead.
The best relationships come when couples operate as a team. Teammates respect each other and realize they work better together. Each team member has a valued spot. Both are there to help, not hinder, the other person.
Yes, my advice to you in a world telling you to be tough? Be soft (at least sometimes).
Michele is a former St. Louis Rams Cheerleader living in St. Louis. Follow Michele from the sidelines of the NFL to the sidelines of the modern dating world.