When You Want What You Want


 “What a different story people would have to tell if only they would adopt a definite purpose, and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession!” -Napoleon Hill

I’ve been accused of it recently. Yesterday, in fact. And it’s true: I want what I want.

I couldn’t deny it. I do want what I want. When I want something, I develop an all-consuming obsession for it. My educational pursuits, opportunities for my children, intimate love, pretty hair, maintaining a nice body, “me” time, friends I can trust, family all around me. 
And when I can’t have these things – these things that I obsess over – I unravel. But not at first. At first, I always understand that these things take time and require me to be patient. So at first, I am an angel of patience. I’m always a good Christian at that point. My prayer closet is a haven. I’m praying. I’m coloring in reflective coloring books. I’m full of faith. I’m doing my part, making sacrifices for the dream, even loving the sacrifices- feeling extra holy, all while trusting with everything in me that God has got this thing under control. So I’m good. What I want is coming.

But then, more time passes. Weeks, months, years. Years, and this thing still hasn’t happened. Years, even though I have had faith, walked in love, put in my work with diligence and peace. And still nothing. Helping others, walking the walk, living a life of integrity, giving it a reasonable amount of time to come to pass. And still nothing. By now, especially when these things take years (and for me, it seems that the greatest desires of my heart always takes years), I begin to get agitated. My prayer closet is disheveled and vacant, I’m tired of working diligently, and that holiness wore off two years ago. I find myself resenting those to my left and to my right who seem to easily acquire what I’ve worked so hard for. I resent the tears I’ve had to shed, the money I’ve had to spend, the sweat stains on my back. Why are simple desires so completely out of my reach? I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do.

And then the unraveling begins. Good, Christian me flies out the door in a woe-is-me panic. I’m angry, irrational, and in full adult tantrum mode. Tears, screams, name-calling, snot, and writing. Lots of writing. Impulsive decisions, cutting people out of my life, and bringing in others who don’t belong there. I am ready to make this thing happen by myself. I’ll do the demolition and the building myself. To hell with patience and integrity. I’m done being the diplomatic one. Faith for what? Patience for what? I know God hears me, and yet nothing has changed. I’m done.

But even as I sit here in real time, in full transparency, at the heights of being fed up with waiting, grinding, praying, and believing for something I passionately want, I am reminded that I am sitting light years ahead of where I was just five years ago. Light years. Five years ago, I was pleading to God to please allow someone to approve me for a home loan. Today, I own more home than I even need. Five years ago, in faith, I was preparing to send my son to a military high school with hopes that he would turn his life around. Today, he is in college with his own place and a job. Five years ago, I was a new faculty member terrified of what it meant to earn tenure. Today, I’m a tenured associate professor. 

It’s not that I’m ungrateful. I express thanks almost daily for all that I have. I am a gratitude guru. When my daughter acts up, her punishment includes writing a list of 100 things she’s grateful for. So I get gratitude. What I often fail to do? I fail to look at what I have now in comparison to where I was in the past. I fail to look at my progression, my journey, the battles I have won, those desires that I obsessed over that actually did come to pass. Looking at where I am today without context, without considering what it took to get here gets me in trouble every single time. Are some elements of my current situation frustrating, even in light of my progress? Absolutely! And it’s okay to be frustrated by those things and to obsessively want something different for my life. It’s often the only way things really change. But even in the midst of that frustration, I have a responsibility- and that is to pull back and to look at the whole of my journey. Looking only at the unfinished parts and griping about what never seems to happen for me is like having my child look me in the face and say that I never do anything for them as I am secretly planning their surprise party- and I know how angering that can be. The unfinished parts of your life are exactly that- unfinished. Unfinished for reasons that you may not understand, for reasons that require your growth, or for reasons that may be totally out if your control. 

Ahhhhh, that control thing! My greatest vice of all. The go-getter type like myself grapples with relinquishing control. If I don’t do it, who will? If it doesn’t happen now, it’ll never happen. If it’s not done my way, it’s not done the right way. Control freaks like myself have the obsession thing down, but we often neglect one very important element of getting what we want. Letting go. Sometimes the only way we can achieve our hearts desires is by letting go. Letting go of our own ideas of how it should be done, letting go of rigid timelines, letting go of controlling other people. The more we insist on controlling, the more our dreams and the people we love begin to slowly back away. Letting go is growth. It’s strength. It’s love. It’s often the only road to peace of mind.

Those of us who obsessively want what we want have to watch ourselves as intently as people with diabetes have to watch their blood sugar levels. Daily, we have to watch ourselves. When we first get our hearts set on something, we’re great, but as time passes, we’ve got to check our tendencies to resent those who seem to get there faster, to curb our impulsive behaviors, and to resist taking control in areas where we should be letting go. We need to check daily (even hourly sometimes) how we acknowledge our progress and how we express gratitude for where we are in our journeys. This has to be a continual process, because it’s much too easy to unravel and lose it completely when we don’t get what we want when we want it.

I write this for myself as much as I write this for you. I am an obsessed entrepreneur, an obsessed mom, an obsessed lover (scary as that may sound), and an obsessed scholar. Obsessed with purpose. Obsessed with life. Obsessed with love. As such, I remind you – and myself – to tame your obsessions so that they don’t take over your peace of mind. Have them, but tame them. Want what you want. But remember that you don’t always get to determine the specifics of what you can have and that what you want comes in its own designated time and manner, not in your time and manner. If that were the case, there would be no opportunity for you to grow into the person you need to be to receive it. So, as uncomfortable and as angering as the waiting may be, know that the one thing you can control is how well you master that period of waiting, how much you use it for your own growth, and what you do with that time and energy in the meantime. My advice? Control what you can and kick your feet up for the rest. Life is too short to live it unraveled.


Dr. Pamela Antoinette, The Secret Life of an Obsessed Entrepreneur

Associate Professor of Research

Host of The Live Exchange Radio

Author of Letters to the Brokenhearted


Stand Up and Listen

Dr. Adanna Jinaki Johnson-Evans, associate professor and her husband, musician Marc Avon Evans, serving members of the Baltimore community during peaceful protests on Monday afternoon.

Contrary to what a large number of people are saying about the peaceful protests and the riots in Baltimore, there is not merely one approach to accomplish change, but many. The ability and willingness of our leaders and our peers to truly listen will, in the long run, dictate which approach will work. 

When communities are hurting, we need to listen. People just want to be heard. Nobody likes to see unrest- I can hardly bring myself to watch the coverage, but who am I to judge when I know wholeheartedly that this is only a symptom of a much bigger problem? Instead of being a sit down and shut up kind of society, why not call for people to stand up and listen? Stand up and empathize. Stand up and change.

Let’s not run from or silence the chaos. Let’s not sit back, wag our fingers, and affix demeaning labels. That’s an easy and predictable reaction. Instead, it’s time to start listening. Because if the desperate cries to be heard keep falling on deaf ears and nothing changes, the outcries, as unsettling as they seem, will only escalate until something changes. The cycle of human nature and our world’s history itself tells us that. 

I love the way Dr. King said it: 

“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard”. ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Pamela Antoinette


Reloving: It Takes a Revolution

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I’m supposed to be the relationship expert. But there is one particular issue that keeps coming up in my inbox or when I lead forums that had me stumped for awhile. I have been bound and determined to get some answers because, I too, have experienced this very phenomenon.

The Generation X Factor

As a single woman dating in my late 30s, I have had a hard time understanding why we (men and women alike) are expected to settle for mediocre relationships and accept mediocre treatment in silence. God forbid we speak up and ask for what we want. Very rarely have I been able to say to a man… “This is what I desire”, and without incident, he simply says “I got you.” And yet, I would make it a point to accommodate his needs in a heartbeat. From a woman’s perspective, I have quite often asked myself where the chivalry has gone. And I am sure the good men out there are asking similar questions about the women they’re meeting.

My research (and heck, my personal experiences) tells me that in my age dating bracket (37-49), we are carrying so much more baggage than in years past. We’re not dating the same kind of people we dated in our early 20s. We are now dating people who have been married and divorced (or who are still married), people with kids, people who have had custody battles, people who regret their careers, people who are displeased with where they are in life. And all of this baggage has birthed an entire generation of unprecedented bitterness. And mistrust. And self-preservation. 

Unprecedented because we are the first generation to liberate ourselves from marriages we no longer want to be in, to choose to pursue our careers before having children, to have children without a partner, and to learn that the promise of a college education alone does not necessarily lead to more money and security- we still have to hustle to make it! No judgment here. I am fully a part of this group of divorcees, single parents, and hustlers. But the result is that many of us who are single and dating are consumed with freezing our eggs, fighting custody battles, co-parenting, trying to make ends meet, and balancing life with ex-spouses.

And this is how we step into the dating world. On guard. Vowing never to love again. Making declarations that marriage is a sham. Deciding to just “do ourselves” and to heck with anyone else. All while consigning on popular social media quotes and “inspirational” sayings that generalize men and women, have no depth, and truly make no sense. You’ve seen them. They only feed the bitterness. And yet, we consume them as if they are feeding our souls, when actually, our souls are being depleted.

We don’t trust each other. We don’t love each other. And we sure as hell don’t respect each other. We have resorted to playing games with each other and trying to figure each other out, rather than working to first figure ourselves out. We have become each other’s enemies instead of ride or die for each other. 

Remember when we believed in love? Those excited nerves we felt just before the very first kiss? How great it felt to sit on the phone at all hours of the night? Yes, we used to believe in love. We used to embrace it and go after it wholeheartedly. We used to be proud of being in love. It was a badge of honor, a rite of passage, a risk worth taking.

And then life happened. We gave up. We became fed up. We closed up. And this closed state of mind is doing nothing more than serving as a self-fulfilled prophesy. We believe we will be let down, so we let others down. We believe we won’t find someone who is real, so we run off the ones who seem too good to be true. We don’t want to be cheated on, so we cheat. We believe marriage is a farce, so we get married with conditions. And then love goes sour, because we inserted our sour beliefs rather than going in wholeheartedly.

Time for a Revolution

Now, here’s the hard part. Fixing this would take a revolution. A revolution that I am not sure can even happen all at once. Not because I am a pessimist or because I have lost hope, but because we have forgotten how to show a unified front for anything and because we are afraid to deal with ourselves. I mean, truly deal with ourselves.

This revolution is not about what the next man or woman needs to do. It’s about what YOU need to do and what I need to do. It means a willingness to be vulnerable, the strength to leave fears created from previous relationships at the door when entering a new one. It means taking the time to date and have fun without ulterior motives. And it means walking in faith, hope and love rather than fear, indifference and defeat. 

The best executed revolutions take all of us. But really, we could begin a revolution with just two. If two people decided that they would walk together in faith, hope, and love; that they would take the time to date each other and have fun, that they would leave their fears at the door and allow themselves to be vulnerable- if two people decided to do this together, they would be their own revolution. They would change the world as they know it, and by their ripple effect, they would effectively change the world of those around them.

Love exists. There are plenty of happily married and dating couples out there to attest to that. We just have to choose to step out of our baggage bubbles, out of our comfort zones, and into a willingness to return to a belief in love. I call it “reloving.” Let’s get excited about love again. Write love notes to someone who makes you smile. Tell someone who has had your back that you appreciate them. Give someone a well-deserved hug. Cook an amazing meal. Bring home a flower. 

But most importantly, to borrow the words of my cousin and fellow life coach, Penny Arrington, give someone “your best you”. That’s where the revolution starts. With you. No matter how deeply or how many times you’ve been hurt, insist on loving your life anyway- not just by “doing you,” but also by giving other people a real chance to love you too.

To learn more about reloving, check out Letters to the Brokenhearted: Woman to Woman Advice About Refocusing, Rebuilding, and Reloving. Also, find other works from Dr. Pamela on Amazon.

Pamela Antoinette, Ph.D.
Educator, Award-Winning Author, Certified Life Coach, Radio Host


Lesson #9 – Laugh, Live, Love, Cry

I had a student come into my office the other day totally broken. I could tell she was on the verge of bursting. But she sat there all prim and proper talking at the surface level, thinking she was faking someone out. She wasn’t fooling me at all. It was so glaringly obvious that she was not okay, she may as well have been wearing a purple wig inside out with mascara on her nose. She was not holding it together as well as she thought she was. I finally stopped her and asked, “What are you trying to hold together? We can’t get to the real issue until you put aside the mask and just be real.” And, instantly, she burst into tears and let it all out, shamefully apologizing the whole time. I told her that this space was safe and that she could be real here. No crackheads up in here. No faking it. Just real, so we can get to the heart of the issue. She cried, and then laughed and asked… “Did you just call me a crackhead, Dr. Pamela?” “Yes”, I said with a smile…”Yes I did. Now, don’t be one and tell me what’s really going on.”

What is it about us and this idea that there is something wrong with crying? When people are heartbroken, they apologize for crying. When someone is overcome with joy, they apologize for crying. When someone gives a thank you speech, they apologize for crying. Women fan their faces to keep the tears from falling. Men hide their eyes and drop their heads. Why? Crying cleanses us. It doesn’t get more authentic than free-flowing tears… and authenticity is what we all crave- from ourselves and from other people. When we see other people living freely and authentically, we help others do the same. We were given our emotions for a reason. We can’t be ashamed of them. Life is too short to be walking around hiding ourselves and keeping the bad stuff inside. Don’t you realize that bad stuff creates havoc on our bodies from the inside out? Let it out and keep it moving. Today, I challenge you. Laugh. Cry. Dance. Love. LIVE.

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic


Facebook: We Know We “Like” It

It has become the age-old complaint from anti-social media folks (and even some who are on social media)… “I don’t care about the fact that you’re on your way to work or that your kid just lost a tooth. What’s the point? Whine, whine, whine.”

Quit lying. Yes you do! Facebook has helped us realize that we are so much more alike than we thought. It has helped validate our thoughts and actions in subtle ways that give us a little boost to know that we share even the littlest of commonalities with other people. OMG, your kid lost his tooth, too? Really? You get excited about the same TV show that excites me?! We crave validation more than we realize because we were created to be relationship-oriented beings. There is an actual boost of endorphins that occurs when our statuses are “liked” or positively commented on. If we didn’t like it so much, we wouldn’t talk about it with such conviction.

No doubt, social media has its negative points, but folks who use it negatively tend to approach everything they do in life negatively. If they talk mess face to face, they will probably will do it online, too. If they’re cowards, they’ll hide behind the computer screen and take jabs at people to feel… BIG. Unfortunately, we’ll always have those folks. But as for the rest of us who mean no harm? Those of us who just want our friends to know that we made it home safely, that we just tried a new tea that totally works, or that we bought a new pair of shoes we love- don’t underestimate the power of validation this cyber world provides. For some people, it’s all they get.

So every time I hear someone say, “Who cares that you just ate pizza or that you just left the nail shop,” I tell myself, YOU do. Because you’re on Facebook knowing full well that’s what most folks are on there sharing. If nobody cared, it wouldn’t be so unbelievably popular. Check-in buttons wouldn’t exist. There would be no phone apps. Like buttons would never be pressed. We care. You care. It’s in our nature to care. We’re more connected to each other than ever before, and while that can be just a little (or a lot) creepy, we know we like it. Quit lying and go ahead and tell us what you’re doing right now. 😊


Lesson #8 – Define Your Standards


The following is a sneak peek from my upcoming book, Letters to the Brokenhearted, which will be released on February 15, 2013. For more information, to view the book trailer, or to download a free sample, please visit: http://PamelaAntoinette.com/letters_to_the_broken-hearted.html 


When you start dating again, you’ll get a lot of advice from family, friends, magazines, and TV shows. Some of that advice will be great and may resonate with you. Some will not.  Here’s my advice: decide what your standards are and use them as your guide. Your standards give you direction and keep you focused. As you date people with different personalities, interests and careers, your standards should remain in tact, changing only as you learn more about yourself and your needs. Your standards are a combination of your values, expectations and desires. No one can define those for you. Everyone’s standards are different, reflecting personal experiences, personalities, past relationships, and one’s hopes and dreams for their lives. It’s difficult to flesh out what your standards are if you haven’t taken the time to think about who you are and what you’ve learned from your life experiences.

Trash the Checklist

When I was a young 20-year old in college, I thought I knew what I wanted in a man. My checklist was simple – someone who was educated, had a good job, loved his mother and went to church. When I got married, I couldn’t figure out what was missing. My ex-husband was all of those things. Life experience has since taught that human beings are multidimensional and cannot be so simply categorized. As a researcher and professor of research by profession, I have grown accustomed to asking deeper questions. What does educated mean, exactly? Educated how and to what extent? What is a good job? What makes a job good, and how will I recognize a good job when I see one? To go even deeper, how do these checklist items tell me who he is as a person? He’s educated, but is he compassionate? He has a great job, but does he hate what he does every day? He adores his mother, but what is that relationship really like under the surface? And yes, he goes to church, but what is in his heart? I have since refined those young, idealistic, incomplete, non-specific checklist items to better reflect who I am as a woman.

Before I started dating again – after 15 years of some real life experience – I sat down and thought about what my standards should be at this new phase of my life. This time, it wasn’t simply about the guy and what he would bring to the table. It was also about how compatible he was with me, how I felt in his presence, and whether or not he was receptive to what I brought to the table. My grown-up standards were a combination of the values, expectations and desires that uniquely make up who I am. Checklists are about what he has. Standards are about who he is. It’s time to throw away that checklist and go deeper by defining your values, expectations, and desires.


Your values are those core beliefs that give you conviction – the social causes you are passionate about, the spiritual beliefs you were raised with, or the personal set of morals you abide by. Your values keep you grounded. They make you care about the world around you. They are what make up your character and help shape your life purpose. When you define your standards, think about those values that you hold dear. Consider the role you want them to play in each of your relationships. Does he have to love animals? Would you prefer a man who is willing to pray with you? Must he be passionate about social justice? I personally value human dignity and social justice, so my guy must be aware of what’s going on in the world around him and have a heart to improve the lives of others when he can. In the checklist I designed in my twenties, I specified that I wanted a man with “a good job.” Understanding my values helped me to further define that to mean that I want a man who has a job that falls in line with his life purpose, because I highly value the idea of being in tune with one’s life purpose. Having a good job doesn’t tell me much, but having a job that reflects his life purpose and values tells me a lot about who he is and how well he may fit with me.


We all have very different expectations of ourselves and of the people we choose to date. Some women are so laid back, they just sort of shrug their shoulders with a “whatever happens, happens”sentiment. Others are so intense, they’re calling off the date if he fails to walk around to open the car door before she gets out. No judgment here. Your expectations are your own. I just want you to have some! Know your purpose for dating. Have an idea of how you expect to be treated. Define your limits – physically and emotionally. Decide early on what your limitations are for involving your kids in your dating life. I don’t involve my kids at all. I am hugely selective about whom I allow my kids to meet and what I tell them about my dating experiences. If it is not a leading into serious relationship that may result in marriage, they are not going to meet the guy, and they may never even hear about him.

If you just want to develop friendships and not pursue anything serious, be very clear about that to your dates and to yourself from the beginning. When you define your expectations, ask yourself what you want out of your experiences. Even if it is to simply have a good time, make sure you tell the person you’re dating and don’t compromise yourself. If you find that you’re not having a good time – well, that’s your cue to move on. Your combined expectations make a great measuring stick that can help you determine whether or not things are heading in the right direction.


Here’s the part where you decide what qualities you want in your future partner and in your relationships. When I considered what it was that I desired in a man, I first thought about what I didn’t have in my previous relationships that I longed to have. Three personality types rose to the top: a fun guy with a great sense of humor, someone who was intellectually stimulating enough to carry on a great conversation, and a guy who was highly supportive of my endeavors, rather than intimidated by them. I knew that when I stepped back into another relationship, he had to have these qualities. To not have all three would be a deal-breaker, simply because these three qualities were directly compatible with who I had become as a woman.

With such a clear picture of what I did and did not desire, it was very easy to know if someone I was dating would last very long. Above all, I desired to eventually fall in love and marry again, so I dated with this in mind. I didn’t do one-night stands or spend too much time with anyone who fell short of my standards, because to do so would have been a distraction to my ultimate desire. There was no rush. I took my time, but I knew what I was out there for, and because of that, I stuck to my standards.

Do you see how my grown-up standards differed dramatically from my original standards, which required only that he went to school, had a job, went to church and loved his mama? I laugh when I think about that now, but I was so serious about my little checklist when I was 20 years old. I thought I was doing big things! Let me make a distinction between these set of standards and a checklist. Checklists are often shallow in nature. They consist of superficial qualities that can be checked off for the purpose of keeping or eliminating a prospect. Your standards, on the other hand, are not just about what the guy does or does not have or do. It is also about you. Your standards keep you in check. They keep you aware of whether or not you’re moving in the right direction in terms of how you’ve defined your values, expectations or desires. Are you compromising your values just to keep him around? Are you simply tolerating him because you’re bored? Have you found that you are afraid to express your expectations? Have you decided that your desires don’t really matter? If so, it’s time to evaluate the situation. It may not be right for you.

Your standards are a reflection of who you are and the woman you have become as a result of experience and growth. No one can set those but you, but I’ll tell you right now, people will have their opinions and will insert their unsolicited feedback. I’ve gone out with a couple of guys I wasn’t feeling, and no one could understand why I didn’t like them. One guy, for example was just gorgeous. Tall, beautiful lips, handsome, well-dressed, and was crazy about me (he also loved his mama). He definitely would have met my checklist requirements, but he didn’t meet my standards. He was insecure and was far from intellectually stimulating. Far, far, far away from it. Yet, he was sweet and a perfect gentleman. My friends thought I had lost my mind.

“Girl, just date him and have your deep conversations with someone else!” they’d tell me.

But I just couldn’t do it. I cut that one off within a few weeks. Another guy, seemingly perfect on the outside, admitted to having trust issues. I immediately left that scene. There was simply no fun in forcing myself to spend time with a guy who couldn’t, at minimum, keep me interested on the date – or a guy who would be worried about my true whereabouts if I had to leave town to present at a conference (the thought of that alone makes me cringe).

When I first started dating again, I met some really great guys who were ready to settle down and get married, but I was far from wanting a serious relationship. I had just recovered from my last relationship, and really just wanted some air. I needed some space and time to enjoy my life as a single lady. It’s true that I ultimately desired to be married, but during that phase of my life, I was still working on healing. My expectation at that time was to simply enjoy life. Settling would have been equally unfair to these guys because we all would have driven each other crazy. I had to stay true to my standards, and that saved everyone some grief.

The time I spent dating included a great collection of learning experiences. I learned much about myself and the value of my standards. I learned how to be honest with myself and how to stick to my guns. When you step out there, go out armed with a set of standards. They keep you in check and they help you focus on those people who best complement who you are. My dating experience was one with no regrets and great times. It really is possible if you go out there with a purpose!

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic

Lesson #7: Ten Romantic Gestures on a Budget


“I am a romantic guy”

Okay, this one is for the fellas! I – the hopeful romantic in the room – refuse to believe or accept that chivalry is dead. There are still many women out there, like myself, who treasure romantic guys who aren’t too proud to fall head over heels in love and show it in the most creative (or even typical) of ways. If you’ve ever been given grief about not being “romantic enough”, don’t fret… don’t get upset… don’t run. Just check out this article. This one’s for you!

Lesson #7: Ten Romantic Gestures on a Budget

It happens in every relationship. We face rocky terrain, or the livelihood just begins to, well… run dry. When things get either rocky or dry in a relationship, a surprise romantic gesture can be just the remedy to get things back on track. Is she feeling uneasy about where the relationship is headed? Are you two recovering from a rough period? Or maybe things are just down right awesome! No matter the situation, finding special ways to show her your love can break the monotony and bring the two of you even closer. Most women still appreciate romance and will melt into little chocolate drops of passion if you do something a little different from time to time to show her how special she is to you. And guess what, fellas? You don’t have to take a huge hit in the pocket to make it happen. Go ahead- replace one of those TV nights on the couch with a few of these romantic ideas and see if she’s not smiling from ear to ear by the end of the day. You may even get a few happy tears. 🙂

1. Meet her with a single rose at dinner.

Simple, but elegant. This says, “You mean something to me, and this evening with you is not just any evening. It’s special and I want you to remember it.” It doesn’t matter what kind of restaurant you’ve chosen. It’s the gesture. If the two of you are meeting there, arrive before she does and place it on her chair. If the two of you are riding together, present it to her at the door.

2. Place her cheeks in your hands and kiss her tenderly.

There is just something about your gentle hands on her face that sends chills up and down the spine. Ten times more intimate than a kiss on the cheek or a peck on the lips, gently cupping her cheeks with your hands says “I cherish you in all of your beauty.” Try it! And don’t forget to look into her eyes. Now, there’s a gesture that is truly priceless.

3. Set up a picnic with wine in the park or at the beach.

Pick a park, any park- preferably one with a beautiful, peaceful setting. The very fact that you have planned something for the two of you will win you her gratefulness. Pack up some great food, perhaps a game, and your favorite bottle of wine (or two) and get ready to just relax. A couple of tips: be sure to check that the park doesn’t restrict alcohol if you bring wine; and try going just before sunset on the night of a full moon. That way you get the best of both worlds- a beautiful evening and the beautiful night sky.

4. If a getaway is out of the question, plan a “stay-cation” at a hotel in your own town. Decorate the room with roses, candles and wine.

I know this sounds like an expensive one, but it really doesn’t have to be. Take advantage of some great last-minute hotel deals on websites like Hotwire.com or Hotels.com, where you can easily find a four-star hotel for $45-$50 per night. Then go to a site like Groupon.comLivingSocial.comHalfOffDepot.com, or Restaurant.com to find a great deal on dinner at a great restaurant, and voila! You’ve got yourself a reasonably priced romantic getaway!

5. Go to a movie or jazz in the park event downtown with a basket of food you prepared yourself.

These events are totally free. Spice it up with your own little touch by packing a basket of goodies. You may even want to sneak in a little love note on a napkin with three simple words, like “I love you” or “You are beautiful.” Kick back with the love of your life, relax and enjoy!

6. Write down the lyrics to a song that you dedicate to her.

These days with all of those lyric websites, this is incredibly easy to do. But instead of doing an electronic copy and paste, take the time to hand write the lyrics and present them to her on beautifully designed stationery. It’ll take a little effort, but it’ll be well worth it.

7. Go house shopping together in your dream neighborhood, role-playing as serious buyers.

Who doesn’t love a fun role-playing experience? If you are pretty sure that this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, pretend to be a married or engaged couple and go to the coolest neighborhood you know and start dreaming together. This one, fellas, isn’t for the faint of heart! You’ve got to be serious about this girl to pull this one off.

8. Cook your best meal for dinner and slow dance with her afterwards.

If you’re not a natural-born chef, this may take a little practice, but it’s truly the gesture and not just how the food tastes that will win you points (though, great-tasting food is always a plus). Just be sure that she isn’t allergic to what you are preparing. For an extra touch, try something unique like making fortune cookies from scratch with a different enclosed message for her in each cookie.

And don’t forget the slow dance! Slow dancing takes us hopeful romantics back to those high school days when we used to dream that prince charming would come along and sweep us off our feet. Well, you always have the opportunity to be that prince charming. So after dinner, dim those lights, turn on those slow jams and start sweeping us away!

9. Mail her a greeting card that expresses exactly how you feel.

Corny? Maybe, but there is nothing more touching than a perfectly crafted set of words that express to her exactly how you feel. Be sure to add your own personal touch to the card by underlining words or phrases that are especially significant and adding some special words of your own. For a unique touch, include a photo of the two of you with a hand-written note and date on the back.

10. When she is nervous or afraid, comfort her.

All relationships experience some ups and downs. In those dreaded down times, what she needs most is your strength, love and support – and your romance! Envelop her in your arms and kiss her face to ease her fears (even and especially if her fear is about the relationship). Don’t underestimate your comforting power. You have the capacity within you to offer her security through your own sense of confidence and assurance. When it comes to love and relationships, fear is natural. Even among the most confident and secure of individuals, both parties are putting their hearts on the line, and that can be scary. But, guys, if you take the lead and show her that she is safe with you, you will be amazed at how far such a gesture, added with a physical touch (a kiss, a bear hug, a brush from hand to cheek), can go. If she expresses the fear, she is looking to you (and not her girlfriends) for assurance. Assure her and melt away those fears!

Got some great romantic gestures to add? Please do share! We’d love to hear them!

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic

Lesson #6: Forgive and Learn

Forgiveness does not simply mean that we forget. We’ve heard the term “forgive and forget”, but this is not always realistic, nor is it safe. We were built with the gift of memory, which often serves as our defense mechanism. At an early age, my daughter learned not to put her hand on the iron because the first time she tried it, it was hot and the blister that popped up on her little finger was not something that she wished to experience again. In the same sense, our memory serves us well so that we don’t re-blister our fingers, or walk back into the same hurtful situations we found ourselves in before. Thus, it is unrealistic and sometimes not in our best interests to “forgive and forget,” especially when the forgetting is done recklessly.

Yet, we are still called to forgive. Forgiveness means that we choose to carry no ill thoughts about the other person involved in the incident, regardless of whether or not they are sorry or remorseful. This is where the idea of forgiving for one’s own peace of mind and ability to move forward comes in. In some cases, we may never hear an apology from the other party. In fact, we may never even see the other person again. This is why we cannot base our decision to forgive on the behaviors or mindset of the other person. We may never get an apology or a confession, but we still need to release the baggage and free ourselves of the pain. This is what forgiveness is all about.

The baggage we carry will hold us back from living a life of joy, peace and fulfillment. We have to let it go, and this means releasing any ill thoughts or feelings that we may hold against another individual. But it doesn’t stop there. The ill feelings must be replaced with a sincere hope for well wishes upon the life and heart of the other person. Yes, well wishes! When we truly forgive, we want the other person to experience joy and peace as well, by repenting from their ways, through a life-changing experience, or simply through an eye-opening revelation. How the other person finds that joy and peace is not up to us, but it is up to us to wish them well. What we don’t want is for that person to remain in a state of bitterness or darkness (if that is, indeed, where they are). As long as they remain in this mindset, and as long as they continue to experience defeat through hardships, they are likely to continue to hurt others, as they did you. The last thing you want is for this person to be worse off than they were when you had the privilege of encountering them. Thus, it is clear that forgiveness has an interesting way of touching the lives of many – including yourself, the perpetrator, and anyone the perpetrator may encounter after you. You never know when your act of forgiveness was the one gesture needed to change someone’s life.

That said, let us not fool ourselves. Forgiveness, as with kindness and patience, does not always reap its rewards instantly, nor are the rewards always visible. The most important and visible reward you may see is the way your own life will begin to change as you gradually drop each and every one of those bags that you have been clutching for so long. You will feel the liberation, the freedom, the weight lifted. And that alone is worth the everyday practice of forgiveness.

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic

Lesson #5: Rebuild Your Self-Esteem


Heartbreak can take a toll on self-esteem if you’re not paying attention. If you’ve experienced it, you know that on your worst days, heartbreak can cause you to question your own worth and agonize over how a person you loved so dearly could so suddenly be out of your life. In order to move forward and let go, these thoughts must be combatted by strengthening the self-esteem. When you’re working on building up self-esteem, make sure you are as progressive as possible. You want to continue to advance and move forward in life rather than slide backwards. Engaging in activities that don’t honor your strengths and primarily highlight your weaknesses can stifle your progress. Simply put, try to spend less time on the things that you suck horribly at, and spend more time doing what makes you feel competent, strong, beautiful, and energized.

Take in Positive Reinforcement

Taking in positive reinforcement is like taking medication. It supports the immune system by helping to fight off whatever is attacking the body. In the same way, positive reinforcement supports the self-esteem by helping to fight off negative messages and experiences that can attack us from day to day. Positive reinforcement can strengthen a weakened self-esteem. And just like medicine, positive reinforcement is also available in many forms. It can come through supportive friends, the words you speak to yourself, or activities that simply make you feel great about yourself. All forms of positive reinforcement help to combat negative feelings and beliefs that can weaken and break down the self-esteem.

For starters, it’s absolutely essential that you are careful about the words you speak to yourself. This is not the time to call yourself stupid, lazy, pitiful, pathetic, or whatever other negative words you may be tempted to speak. This is a time when you have to be intentional about speaking positively about yourself. “I am awesome.” “I rocked in that meeting today.” “My life is on an upswing.” “I am on the verge of greatness.” Don’t wait for other people to tell you these things, say them to yourself. Work them into your conversations. It won’t be long before the people who love and respect you begin to echo these affirmations for you.

Avoid Negative Energy 

I assume that you’d never go mountain climbing in the snow while fighting the flu, because that certainly wouldn’t build up your immune system. It would make you feel worse. The same applies to building up your self-esteem. This is not the time to pursue projects or initiatives that bring more stress and frustration than peace and satisfaction. If at all possible, avoid activities or situations that bring you down until your self-esteem is stronger. Of course, this is easier said than done, as these tasks can’t always be avoided, especially if they are a part of how you make a living. If you can’t avoid doing the grunt work, do the best you can to go heavy on the feel-good stuff while keeping the feel-bad stuff to a minimum. Rebuilding your self-esteem should be a priority. Do whatever you can to protect and support it.

Just as it is important to avoid activities that are draining and highlight your weaknesses, it’s also important to avoid activities that compromise your dignity. For many of us, going through a breakup can be a very vulnerable and unstable time. Some people respond with anger and are tempted to take revenge by keying cars, slashing tires, or using the kids against the ex. I’ve seen situations in which men and women alike become consumed with jealousy and expend a great deal of energy investigating what the ex is doing, who the ex is seeing, and in some cases, attempt to sabotage the ex’s future relationships. Some people even turn on themselves and become involved in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive substance abuse or sexual carelessness.

All such responses to a breakup, no matter how liberating or justified they may feel at the moment, compromise your dignity. This only causes more to harm to your self-esteem because if you’re on the road to living a more empowered and productive life, you’ll eventually feel like crap for causing a scene or sleeping with all of those guys or becoming obsessed over finding out about the new person in your ex’s life. Your dignity comes from knowing that you are the bigger person, that you are growing each day (rather than regressing), that you are stronger than the voice that tempts you to do something that is just flat out stupid. It’s simply not worth risking your self-esteem over. Hold on to your dignity with both hands and both feet if you have to. Do nothing – nothing at all – that will compromise it.

Your self-esteem is priceless. It is the single most important aspect of yourself that makes letting go and moving forward possible. A strong self-esteem will tell you that you are beautiful enough to attract someone who sees your beauty, that you are intelligent enough to create an amazing life for yourself, that you are secure enough to enjoy that life to its fullest, that you are strong enough to thrive during difficult times, and that you are irresistible enough to surround yourself with equally irresistible people. When you believe in yourself and feel good about yourself, your whole world view changes, and in turn, your whole world changes.

The idea is to build up your self-esteem so that you can live out your life purpose and be a positive influence in the lives of others. Be proactive about it. Because until you get on board, there is absolutely nothing that anyone outside of you can do to build you up. If you take medication for a fever and your immune system refuses to get on board, that medication is totally useless. In the same sense, you could be the finest chick in the room, getting compliments left and right. You could have friends that wish they were as funny or intelligent or professional as you are. You could have the greatest therapist ever. But if you are not on board – if you are not proactive about rebuilding your own self-esteem – none of those outside forces will matter. It’s up to you to make it happen. Build yourself up, so that you can let go and move forward!

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic

Lesson #4: Hustle, Then Flow


For My Hustling Sisters…

I can’t control everything. And recently, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to control everything. Controlling everything takes an obsessive amount of time and energy that I would much prefer spending on activities that I enjoy, like going to the movies, writing books, or falling in love.

The Hustle

I spent the last decade and a half of my life in straight-up hustle mode. Even before my son was born (who is now 15), I was hard-working, driven and determined. As a 19 year-old freshman in college, working and playing on the softball team, I was hustling nonstop, trying to make it all happen, and happen well. My goal was to be the best at everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.

Then, just after my freshman year in college, I got pregnant. And I learned quickly what it really meant to “get your hustle on”, because I was not about to stop progressing. As soon as I could, I got back into school. I consistently worked two jobs and did everything I could to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads; late nights studying, carrying my toddler with me to class, even taking on a third job delivering pizza at night just to make rent one summer. I sold Avon, did hair on the side, and cleaned houses to make that extra money. There were no breaks for a young single mom-slash-college student, and I didn’t expect any. I saw no other option. If I didn’t make it happen, who would?

Women are pretty amazing. I LOVE being a woman, and thank God every day for those two phenomenal X chromosomes that graced me with curves, emotions and the strength of a lioness! We work hard. We hustle. We accomplish our dreams. Women are doing exceptionally well in a world that has tried so hard to keep us down. We have always pushed the envelope. The problem? We don’t always know how or when to step OUT of hustle mode. That same “make it happen” strategy of determination and control that worked to snag that degree or land that awesome job can absolutely crush us when we try to apply it to other areas of our lives. I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it happen… and the total sense of confusion one can be left with after hustle mode fails to work can be devastating.

The Flow

We cannot approach our relationships in hustle mode (if we want them to be successful). This knack for control that has worked so well in other areas of our lives can drive a deadly wedge between ourselves and those who we love. When in hustle mode, sometimes it’s easy to forget that people do have free will and, whether we like it or not, we need to respect that free will. People are free to decide what they want to do with their own lives, even if it doesn’t match up with what we want. If someone does not want to be in your life, this is a choice that they have the right to make. If someone’s life dreams do not line up with yours, you cannot resolve to change them, rush them, force them to align themselves with your agenda and then expect to be happy in the end. Relationships simply do not operate that way.

Hustle mode has its place, but equally important to the hustle is the ability to simply flow. As tough as this concept may be to understand for hustlers like me who are used to making things happen, it is important to learn the difference and to develop skills in both areas (hustling and flowing). If you exert your hustling strength and control over a man who is just as strong as you are, get ready to bump heads and possibly drive him away. If you are a woman like me, you want a strong man in your life. The catch, though, is that another strong person will resist your attempt to control everything. That hustle can actually kill your spirit and douse your opportunities for true love.

A woman who is used to being in control may find a man she wants – regardless of whether or not he is good for her – and use her hustle and control skills to keep him in her life, when really, she should be relying on FLOW. Rather than trying to change him or take great measures to keep him around, she should simply let it flow. Flow does not dictate what will happen or how the story will end. Flow does not get pissed off when things don’t go as planned. Flow walks in faith and allows for the natural order of life to unfold. Flow is confident enough to know that what she brings to the table is excellent and if her assets compliment the other party in the relationship, she does not need to force anything to happen. Hustlers, we must release the need to control everything and allow nature to take its course. If he’s the one, it will flow without our grand orchestration skills (our skills are pretty grand, aren’t they?). We will not have to design everything to “make sure” it all works out. This is one of those rare situations in life in which we can truly relax and enjoy the ride.

You can’t force someone to love you. You can’t orchestrate a relationship that simply isn’t meant to be or isn’t ready to blossom in the way that you want it to. When other people are involved, you’re no longer dancing alone. If you’re unable to flow with the music, if you find yourself trying to control the beat and the tempo, along with all of the dance moves, you may find yourself losing dance partners. Relax. Let the music play, and allow yourself to flow with it.

This flowing business ain’t easy. Take it from a recovered control addict. But it is very necessary and key to your happiness that you learn how to stop hustling at times and surrender yourself to the flow. It can be scary. But it can also be quite freeing. It can enable you to let go of the need to control the outcome and simply enjoy the music, enjoy the sway of two bodies flowing in sync, enjoy the absence of anxiety. You’ll find that when you flow with other people, rather than try to control them, you enjoy their company more. You learn about yourself. You pay attention to what is actually unfolding, rather than attempting to alter the unfolding to get to the results you want.

Of course, we all want what we want. But when it comes to love, the best way to get what we want is to slow down, listen, and surrender yourself to the flow. Your instincts will take care of the rest. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know which way to flow – even if that means flowing away.

And then, sister friend, when it’s time to take care of business, get that degree, close that deal and make that money… by all means, go get your hustle on!

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic