If I had a label attached to the relationship part of my life, the tag would read “divorced, single, working Black woman trying to find happiness in life and relationships just like the rest of us.” In trying to find my way, I am mindful about choosing my thoughts carefully, and careful about what becomes the focus of my attention. I believe that your thoughts become your experiences, so I try to live my life according to the vision I want to manifest. When you do this, you can enjoy the journey that is life, and not worry so much about the destination. No matter how much you try, and how seasoned you are about it, this isn’t always easy. Sometimes, part of my journey involves dating, or the lack thereof. As I said in one of my first columns, I am open to a relationship, but with a divorce and 10 years of relationships with not-so-good-timing, relationships with men that didn’t always deserve my attention, and sprinkled with a few relationships with nice, yet geographically undesirable men, dating is definitely not something I always look forward to. Since I don’t want to be The Singlista forever, every now and then I’ll throw caution to the wind, go out on a date and see what happens. As I mentioned last week, I met a seemingly decent, unattached guy at the NABJ Convention in San Diego. Let’s call him “Guy,” short for “The guy that I met at the NABJ Convention.” After a few good group dates in San Diego that went well, Guy wanted to go out with me when we got back to New York. Since we were already a few dates in, it was time to decide whether I really want to get to know him better and invest any more time. Immediately, I pulled out the “Every Woman Mental Check List” to see if Guy should make the cut for a second round of dates on my home turf. Is he God-fearing? Check. Gainfully employed? Check. Seems to be a “nice guy”? Check. Has good follow-through? Check. As far as I can tell, not gay or bi-sexual? CHECK and double-check. Willing to take things slowly? Check. And last but not least, seems to like me and not afraid to say so? Check. Okay, off to a really good start. But when you meet someone you vibe with and he actually meets your qualifications on that checklist everyone tells you is “too high” (even though their men passed the same checklist), it’s time to practice what you preach… in this case, “Enjoy the journey.” Although I practice this on a regular basis, it isn’t always easy for me. While I wasn’t scribbling my first name with his last name while doodling on conference calls, I certainly was looking forward to seeing him again. Guy seems thoughtful. I enjoyed getting to know him in San Diego, and he had good follow-up on our return to New York. In short, I like the way he likes me. Right then and there, I knew I was going to have to wrestle with old demons, and those demons came quickly. In one of our conversations at the top of the week, Guys asks if we can go out on Friday. “Sure”, I say, “I’d like that.” No sooner than I’d said that, I immediately thought, “Um, did he say Friday? As in 5 whole days from now? That Friday?” The old me tried to rear its head and whispered, okay, yelled, “Anyone who suggests that long between dates surely has a wife/fianc/girlfriend at home” (he doesn’t). Followed by, “Since he can’t seem to make time for me before 5 DAYS FROM NOW, he surely better act right in the meantime.” And for the time being, he did and does. I had to have a mature conversation with myself and examine my thoughts, which forced me to ask why I am looking for something that is not there? Why not just let it unfold naturally, go with the flow and see what happens? In trying to get my baggage to fit in the overhead compartment, I have made a mental note of things that I’ve learned from past relationships. I recalled that by setting rigid parameters, or looking for unnecessary subtext, I was setting myself up not to enjoy the dating journey. I remembered imposing expectations onto those getting to know us is a recipe for disappointment. Dating is supposed to be fun! The early stages of dating should be filled with the excitement and anticipation of seeing that person again, not stressing about an unnecessary timeline or agenda items. Dating should complement your life, not replace it. I have a very full life; I’m busy with work, followed by 3 hours of French class after full days at the office, I am seeing my friends during the week and planning my trip to Paris with Jules in a few weeks. I reminded myself that I want a healthy, honest and open relationship, and that is where the focus of my attention should be. The attention should not be on looking for trouble when there have been no signs of it. As we continue to talk and get to know one another, I am careful to take it one day at a time, letting this unfold as long as it seems healthy. I am also reminding myself to stay open to meeting new people in the meantime, because when it rains, it pours — and I go back to Paris soon!