Chivalrous Acts

Congrats!

I’m a modern girl. I’m independent and I’m single. I have built a career from the ground up, read everyone from C.S. Lewis to Suzanne Collins, can navigate social media with relative ease, and watch New Girl every week like it’s my job.

And? I know I can take care of myself. But hey, call me old-fashioned, too. It’s fine. I can appreciate aspects of feminism, but I prefer gender roles. I like when a guy volunteers to kill a massive spider without complaint, or lift a heavy box in my stead.

I find chivalry to be a gorgeous thing. 

Most women I know are a little like that. We love our modern independence in life and in love, but deep down, we want guys to treat us like ladies. As most women will attest, it’s become increasingly rare. Gentlemanly behavior sets our hearts aflutter. We want to see it, and many of us are waiting on it.

Some men make us question why chivalrous acts have died out. However, other men prove that sweetness still exists. I want a guy to court me a bit. In fact, I’m sort of holding out for that. Someone to sweep me off my feet? No, gosh no. Grand gestures are wholly unnecessary. I just want someone I can count on. I just want him to do little things to make me sure he’s the real deal.

Dating today is tough, and we women always seem to have doubts about the guys that roll into our lives. Does he like me? Are his motives genuine? Can I trust him completely? Guessing means you usually can’t, and confusion isn’t a good thing.

Most women would like to erase that. So if he puts in the time and does the little things, it’s like a screening process for us. He’s more likely to be into us as human beings, not hookups. He’s more likely to be Mr. Right when we’re over dealing with all those Mr. Wrongs. That’s why chivalry is as important now as it ever was.

Here’s to all the women who are looking for that chivalrous, good-hearted guy. He’s out there. These are the things he does to make us swoon. (And to all those chivalrous, good-hearted guys, keep doing what you’re doing. We love you for it.)

Here are a few of the cutest ones that would make any girl swoon:

1. Call. It would be nice to receive a phone call instead of text messages. While a text shows you were on his mind, a phone call is more personal. Call, don’t text a date invitation. Just the fact that you would take the time to actually call a woman to ask her out on a date will put you light years ahead of your competition (of which there is a lot).

2. Offer you his jacket. When the weather turns colder, and you have on light clothing, it’s cute when he offers you his jacket. It’s a sweet gesture.

3. Put your hand on the small of her back when introducing her to someone. This is something I read a long time ago and it stuck with me for some reason. This is a passive sign of affection and isn’t inappropriate in a public setting, but it bonds the two of you together and helps her feel more comfortable.

4. Open the door for her. The door to the restaurant, the car door, the door to the car picking you up. Whatever door is relevant to you both walking through, please do not lose sight of this simple but often overlooked act of kindness.

5. Suffering through a girly movie. When a man volunteers to endure a girly show or movie because he knows you’ll enjoy it, he earns major bonus points. (Even more if he does so without complaining or expecting something in return.)

Women in turn should respect the act of chivalry. I know many women out there who do not want the door opened for them because it makes them feel like their power or independence is somehow being taken away from them. They are aggressive and headstrong in society. It may not be because they want to be, but because to make it in the world, they have to be. This is true. However, can you imagine a world where chivalry didn’t exist at all? Would you want your daughter marrying a man that didn’t show her this appreciation for being the amazing, strong, supporting, dynamic woman that she is?

In short, that’s what chivalry is — a choice. The choice to do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times.

XOXO
April McManus

Pick Your Partner Well…

Being called hurtful names in a relationship is probably one of the most hurtful things a person can hear. This is particularly true when we are involved in a romantic relationship and the person you are attached to makes this kind nasty comment. Your hurt may only intensify if your man or woman said something like this to you in the presence of other people. If you are sitting with a bunch of feelings right now and wondering why “My boyfriend called me fat” “My girlfriend called me a douche-bag” “My boyfriend calls me stupid” “ugly“, there is a good chance that right now, you are highly pissed off. Here’s the deal – you should be!

Sometimes people in personal romantic relationships say things out of a place of anger. Other times, remarks are made because somebody made a bad attempt at trying to be funny. To keep it real, all of us say things we later come to regret. But there are some things that really should never be said, regardless of what prompted the comment. Specifically, we are talking about your significant other calling you fat, ugly or stupid.

You should tell them two things:
1. That their comments hurt your feelings.
2. They need to cut that shit out right now.

What he/she thinks does not matter. What you feel does matter. You have the right to feel loved and supported in a relationship. If their comments undermine that feeling then, then you should demand the comments stop. And if he/she does not stop, then find a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Life is too short to argue with people who deny that their behavior is hurtful.

I know I’m not what society would consider “hot” or “gorgeous.” I don’t have an amazing figure or a flat stomach. I’m far from being considered a model, but I’m me! I eat food, I have curves, I have scars, I have a history. I have done good and I have done bad. I think everyone is beautiful in his or her own way.

XOXO April

WISE TALK

I’ve been told, ‘Don’t burn your bridges you many have to cross later.’ I say ‘I don’t mind swimming if the bridges were messed up to begin with!’Light The Way

That is a statement of fear and insecurity of your actions, fear of both future events and the need to rely on others in the future, particularly others in powerful positions.  Those in powerful positions are more often that not weak.  I say, the weak always crumble in the presence of the strong of head and heart.  I say, walk with fire at your heels and only the wooden bridges will burn.  The stone will stand.  If I am not afraid to blaze my path with fire, the fire of strength, the oaks and mountains will be left standing, the weeds and shrubs ashed.  Strength is painful, and the weak run from it or try to put it to death, such that the strong woman soon knows her friends, for only they are left standing when she has passed.  And her friends will also be fiery of heart, for like attracts like, and therefore the path they burn together will only be stronger.

In the past and into the present, I have often felt like a flame in a weed patch, and all have tried to put me out.  At more tender ages, my core was nearly cooled so that I might have joined the weed patch, but it was not to be.  Now I feel the flame rising up within me, still tender and fearful of water but growing stronger daily, weekly, monthly.  I hope one day to become the forest fire that levels dying forests and resets the clock to allow for fertile regrowth, that jumps mighty streams and rivers, that knows few boundaries, that rushes madly forward, unchecked, and dies in the process.

I know that if I am to survive and thrive that I will have to look deep inside myself and know who I am, what I stand for, and where I am going.  And so I write, channeling the truth that was pouring out of me.  This gem, as I see it in hindsight, is one of my first clear expressions of that.  Give me the strength.

XOXO,
April

Move With Confidence

Took me to my first baseball game. September 2014.

Took me to my first baseball game. September 2014.

Dear You,

I’m not sure I’m ready to put this into words but I know if I don’t try I’ll continue regretting not putting into words what needs to be said. So, at least at the end of this, no matter how it ends, I can at least say I tried.

In this past two years with you, I’ve learned a lot. About myself, about relationships, being an adult, about love. I’ve learned that I’m the type of person who loves with her entire being. When I love or care about someone, I let my entire world revolve around them. That’s what I did with you. You came into my life at a time when I wasn’t ready for anyone, let alone you. You came into my life and you weren’t a person–you were this entity that I became enraptured with. Your infectious personality, your incredible way with words, your delectable charm–it all seemed too good to be true. I think what it comes down to is I became involved with you before I was ever ready. I didn’t take the time to figure out what I wanted and what I needed from someone–from you, from our relationship. When we started all of this, you made it very clear you didn’t want a relationship. I thought it was because you were scared or you’d been hurt. I know now it’s because you’re not capable of having a relationship—at least not the kind I want.

I’m going to be honest with you because that’s what people who care about each other do. This is something I’ve been dealing with for a long time and it’s gone on long enough because honestly, it hurts too much. It’s not fair. I’m holding on because I hope things will change, which is perfectly reasonable, but I can’t change a person. I can’t change you, and I can’t change your situation. I can only change myself and the situations I choose to be a part of. You choose to let this nonsense continue and I’ve tried to understand and ignore it, but I can’t anymore. If you wanted to move on, you could. If you wanted to change the dynamics of your relationship with these other women, you could. I know you well enough by now to know that when you want someone out of your life, that’s it—they’re out. You have had plenty of time to reevaluate your situation and the damage it does to yourself and other people. Why have you done nothing about it? And I don’t mean making profiles private or pursuing secret relationships because that’s childish. I mean taking action and making adult decisions.

I am choosing to stay in this relationship and endure all of the lies, pain, and absurdity. I want nothing more than to believe every single word you say about it being crazy and her being crazy and all of that. I want nothing more than to continue telling everyone to fuck off—that they don’t understand our relationship. You know why I stay, but I deserve to treat myself better. At the VERY LEAST, I deserve honesty from you. You like to use the reasoning that because I’m not technically tied to you relationship wise (i.e. being your “girlfriend”) but the fact of the matter is we are in a relationship despite the fact that that is not the term you’d like to use. You’ve made it clear I am not to sleep with anyone else or go on dates—I know you do it in jest but we both know some part of you would feel hurt if YOU found out I was sneaking around behind your back. So, why do it to me?

How many times has something like this happened before? Because you know that although I may speak up, I still won’t do anything about it. Maybe I am, as they put it, just a stupid little girl. I know you have feelings for me, otherwise you wouldn’t even bother with our relationship, but it worries me that this is the way you treat people you care about.

What’s sicker is there are times when we’re together and I think nothing and no one else matters—you have this way of making me feel like I am yours and you’re mine. In the end though, none of that compares to the bigger issue here which is completely unacceptable. The issue being I may have those thoughts but in the end, it’s not true. You and your heart do, whether you see it or not, already belong to someone else.

I just want you to realize what I’m worth. I invite you into my life, my head, my heart, my family, my bed. That is all very special, and not everyone I meet is entitled to those things. I’ve given you everything and in return, you’re not even really mine. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, because you know I care a lot about you. I just don’t think you can ever give me what I want and need. A relationship—no matter what kind—falls apart the minute dishonesty comes into play. It is no longer fair to me to allow dishonesty from you when honesty is expected from me. And I know you will read this and not realize where I’m coming from but I do hope you try. You are the most important person in my life. But, I only have one life, why spend it with someone who doesn’t make me feel like the most important person in their world?

Whether you leave me or I leave you, I am going to miss you—this will be something I never quite get over. I’m going to feel heartbroken—like a failure, someone who just couldn’t make it work despite her best efforts. But if it doesn’t end, I continue looking stupid and foolish because I let this happen. But, life sucks sometimes. The most I can do is embrace the heartache and hold onto my pride which I have slowly been losing with each day I ignore the other major relationships in your life. I hate being alone, but I am 100% content knowing that I will not give myself to anyone undeserving. This is my life and I am the most important person in it and for the past two years, I’ve forgotten that.

I love you. I’ve never cared about anyone as much as I do for you. I would do almost anything for you—anything you ask of me. The memories I get to keep as a result of being with you are some of the best I have. You are a fantastic human being with a light about you that draws people into you—but one thing I cannot do is continue letting you lead me down a path of dishonesty. You don’t see it as dishonesty, I get that, but unfortunately that is what has happened. Whether it’s lying about spending time with multiple girls while you’re gone or lying about the “complicated situation,” or telling them I’m a psycho crazy girl with a big crush, lying is lying and it still hurts the people who care about you.

I’ve fought for you in the only possible way I know how—by being there for you and loving you. But I realize I’m fighting a losing battle. You’re everything to me—and I’m not much to you. She won. I do truly hope you read this and try to see it through my point of view—I don’t understand this situation. And if I get nothing from you now, I never will. I want to—I want to know who she/they is, the part she/they plays in your life, if you’re still sleeping with them — so many questions that, until answered, make me question our involvement with each other.

And the sickest thing, and even I have to admit this, is that at the end of the day, I will let this happen. I will turn the other way. I will let you continue having other relationships and I will continue believing your lies. I can act angry and upset and yell and kick and scream but never will I let you go. I can’t. And that, above all else, makes me the most pathetic person I’ve ever known.

I don’t think you meant to ever hurt me—but you have. When someone you care about is dishonest, it hurts more than anything. I want to believe you—I want you to let me in. I want you to trust me and I want you to recognize that I’m here and willing to listen and understand.

But most of all, I just want you. All of you. And in the end, I can only hope you want me, and only me, too.

THE REWARDS OF VULNERABILITY ARE IMMEASURABLE

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S Lewis 

I have always struggled with vulnerability. I like being strong; I’ve always had to be strong, and I have associated vulnerability with weakness for as long as I can remember. Of course in everyday life, it would be difficult for people to know this. I am seen as someone who is quite open and outgoing, at least to the extent that my demeanor is not mistaken for being a cold, unapproachable bitch. After all, I’m also seen as someone who is known for being blunt; the quintessential, “what you see is what you get” person.

Perhaps it’s through writing, perhaps it’s through getting older, but ultimately I’ve realized that I’m a really hard person to get to know. And very few people know even the half of it. I’m guarded and I don’t break easily; no matter how close I am to people, I know that most of them are still kept at a distance that is comfortable, a distance that won’t leave me exposed. I do not like to be vulnerable.

If we reveal our authentic selves, there is the great possibility that we will be misunderstood, labeled, or worst of all, rejected. The fear of rejection can be so powerful that some wear it like armor. I like to feel in control of situations, I like to feel that I am always secure and vulnerability gets in the way of that. When you’re vulnerable, your heart is wide open, you put your trust in somebody in the form of giving them the most precious thing you have – your heart.  When you’re vulnerable you leave yourself available to be hurt and people hurt people. So I guess somewhere along the way, whether I realized it or not, I made the decision that vulnerability was not for me. I told myself that to be vulnerable would mean to give up my strength and I did not want to give it up. My construction of strength almost defined me. But the truth is I don’t like to be alone. I don’t want to choose it if I don’t have to.

Recently, I’ve been seeing the error in my thinking. I thought that vulnerability was the weaker position when it comes to love. But I’m realizing that the irony of vulnerability in love and in the pursuit of love is that you actually take the stronger position. When you put your heart on the line, when you give it to somebody and you tell them that it’s theirs to keep or break, when you expose who you are and all you are to somebody – that is one of the truest and best strength that there is. Vulnerability won’t be easy, it might be one of the hardest that I’m ever going to attempt. And it might go horribly wrong – I might get broken or damaged like so many others. But I’m not sure this unspoiled heart of mine is any better off. Loving anything and anyone ultimately comes with hurt and my attempt to not let people get close enough to hurt me has left me with a different kind of pain, a different kind of weakness – the weakness of regret and wonder. I think if I am to be truly strong, I think if any of us are, we have to be willing to expose ourselves and put ourselves through the greatest risk of all – which is love.

And in the words of C.S. Lewis, to love is to be vulnerable

P.S.    A couple of nights ago I opened up & he did not judge me. I will work on showing the rest of the world too a little more of the complexity that is me.

April Lynn McManus

Oh, Sir William

What bewilders me, and maybe others, is differences between men and women. It seems to me, that most often men’s driving force (conscious or unconcious) is sex but a woman’s driving force is emotional exchange. Women want to receive things like recognition, validation, feeling needed and wanted and of course, to be loved. When do a man’s emotions come into play beyond sexual desire? It has taken me 33 years to recognize that men often do express affection through sex. Further, the closeness they feel after sex presents a great opportunity for conversation that contains the “emotional exchange” so satisfying to women (and to men, too). But women sometimes demand too much emotional talk from men (I’m guilty of this). Women need to recognize that men often express affection best through actions (changing a light bulb, fixing the car) rather than words!   Women and men are entirely different species and what each wants is at odds with the needs and desires of the other sex.

FIRST THE COMPLAINTS
There’s nothing more frustrating and painful than to feel a need to communicate with someone I care about and yet not feel welcome to approach him. That is exactly how I felt this morning when i was trying to “text” my feelings.  And, we all know my contentment towards texting (see previous blog)!!!  I wish he understood how important I feel our conversations are for maintaining and deepening an emotional connection.  He seems to think that most conversation has no function unless it’s conveying concise information toward a specific goal (that’s definitely the US Marine in him).  He doesn’t seem to understand the part about how paying attention, even to things like chatting about each other’s days, his likes, his story deepens the bonding for me.  Sheesh, men need to realize if they dont communicate exactly what’s going on, women will jump to conclusions. It shouldn’t be our fault when the man gets angry about this… Men will never truly understand how much lack of communication hurts us women.  I wish I understood what’s going on in his head when he withdraws. It’s so hard to see he’s in pain, to know he’s in pain, and to also know he’d damn near rather eat glass than admit it.

NOW THE GOOD STUFF
Don’t let all those complaints and frustrations mislead you. I like this man, I mean I really really really like him….and I have not kept it a secret by far – I talk about him to my daughters, my family, friends and co-workers.  
I like the serene and effortlessly sexy way he carries himself when he feels like he is in control i.e. jump starting my car at 4am, arranging his fantasy football league, killing a creepy bug, opening a jar for me, or ordering dinner for us. When he’s in this relaxed state of control, all I can do is melt and admire. Its funny to because he doesn’t understand how very much I need him. It is so in vogue nowadays to act like I am so independent, and have no need of man in my life. But it simply isn’t true. I am lonely without you. I’d also like you to know I’m not presenting a trap when I inquire how you’re feeling, I don’t want to judge or mock, I WANT TO HELP. I want to understand you, and I want you to understand me. Your boyishness…Your sense of humor and play that you have is by far what I like most …and a nice butt doesn’t hurt!

Miss the way your hugs feel, so strong and protective….

XOXO April

A Beautiful Mess

Those disastrous mornings where you sleep through the alarm, the kids are arguing within minutes of opening their eyes, you don’t have enough bread left for lunches and you miss your mouth entirely and pour coffee all over your new top moments before you need to be out the door…..

Yep those!

I’ve had a few of those mornings these past few weeks, more than I can count actually.

But I have finally come to the realization that sometimes, the only thing to do is shrug your shoulders, laugh at yourself and say “F**K It!

When you are standing in a looooong queue at Dick’s along with dozens of other families trying to take advantage only one day only discount on equipment for their kids in grade school and you suddenly realize that you have precisely 7 minutes to get one of your other children onto the basketball court a whole block away AND you’ve left your phone on the counter of another store…. yep you guessed it, you’ve just got to say “F**k It!”

When life gets so frickin crazy and you feel that everyone needs or wants something from you and your To Do List is longer than the hairs on your legs that haven’t been waxed since no idea… then you really REALLY need to sit down, just breathe and say “F**k It!”.

Will someone die because your kids are 10 minutes late to school?

Will the sky turn black if the family eats cheese toasties for dinner for the 2nd night in a row because you forgot to defrost anything again?

Will the universe spontaneously combust because you don’t get around to emailing this person, calling that person or replying to some comments on your blog for just another day?

Perspective People.

It’s simple when you really think about it, you’ve just got to put it all into perspective.

In case you are wondering, I’m no expert on this matter. In fact I only just came to this realization myself yesterday morning as I was busy stressing out about life. 

There is too much pressure in the world as there is without placing unnecessary and often unrealistic expectations upon yourself too.

I don’t mean to sound demeaning to anyone else who feels differently to this, but when did any of us become so damn important that the world will end if we don’t do something that we THINK we should?

Seriously,  I don’t give a rats ass if you send your daughter to school with a tin of tuna, a can opener and a fork. Would you care if mine took a box of cruskets and a jar of Vegemite?

I don’t give two hoots if you forget to call me back because you chose to watch a Real Housewives Marathon instead, and I imagine you wouldn’t really care if I chose to nick off and participate in a belly flop comp with the kids and replied to your emails tomorrow instead of today.

Life is short and time is far too precious to spend it rushing around all the time, trying to do everything, worrying about things that haven’t been done or self imposed deadlines.

Sometimes we just need to stop, chill out for a while, quit with the stressing and just say “FUCK It!”

Try it ….. it actually feels pretty darn liberating!

Did that even make sense?
Do you have any idea what I am rambling on about?
How often do you just stop and say “Fuck It!”?