Compliment Soup Du Jour

(continued from 12/22)

The last blog I wrote, I mentioned a date. A date with a very unique man who readily rose to the challenge of my Dear Future Boyfriend blog. We knew each other not more than 2 hours at this point-though we’d exchanged several emails and texts; and apparently crossed paths during elementary and high school, along with several CrossFit events.

A few hours following my last post I received a text from this handsome, hairy faced man stating, “Oh-I read your blog post… Very interesting, next time perhaps you could refer to me as “stud muffin” or “beautiful guy”, or maybe even “oddly sexy awkward bearded man” (I’m willing to compromise)”

In my response I promised him a proper introduction-with his permission of course-and I also promised him a special nickname. I mean-he’s gonna need a really good nickname if he’s going to be featured in my life with subsequent mentions in my blog. My friends see photos and they say, “wow he’s HOT”, I walk into restaurants to meet him and the waitresses ask me, “are you with the tall handsome man?”; he has a great sense of humor, has rescued cats, does CrossFit, has a beard, and he’s so tall I literally come up to his nipple when I’m not wearing heels. So what shall I call this man who just appeared in my life-but has actually always been nearby-we somehow never met, but always seemed to be brushing shoulders in passing? I racked my brain and cannot come up with anything really good and I want to get to the point of this story so, for now I’ll call him Sam, after his cat. I’m hoping something will come to me in the next few weeks-but for now Sam will do.

Now that we have that out of the way (hope this suits you Sam), I’d like to talk about a little project Sam and I set out to participate in following our second date.

It started when we were exchanging texts and he revealed that he has difficulty slowing down when playing sports because of his height and momentum-and while playing soccer he clothes lined some girl-which he said he felt very badly about. I laughed and said-“well it’s good you have other redeeming qualities-I can look past that one” to which he responded, “what might those be?”. I then provided a long laundry list of characteristics that I admired in him and coined it “compliment soup du jour”. He replied that he wasn’t expecting that, he was thinking just sports, and thanked me. It got me thinking though… what if we set out to say one nice thing every day from start to… who knows when. What would happen? Would our nice words to each other set the tone for the day? Would we be in a better mood and treat others a little more kindly? I don’t know… and am not sure how to measure that-but I can measure my own mood and reactions.

I’ve read about couples who set out to have sex everyday, couples who abstain from sex, couples who set aside time each week or month to review their relationship and to check in with each other, but never a daily compliment. I wondered how it would affect the future of the relationship if it just started out open and honest-one nice thing that keeps me here-kind of note.

I wanted to try this little experiment at the start of a relationship, but we weren’t quite there yet-though we had all of the trappings of amazing potential. I was nervous to bring it up… though neither of us were having difficulty throwing compliments and words of admiration at each other…so maybe he’d be up to it????

I mentioned my idea at dinner and he was interested. Once again he said, “I can try”.

We have been exchanging compliments in texts, email, or via conversation every day for a week now and I have to say it’s the highlight to my day. Some days I spend time thinking about which quality I want to compliment (because there are so many) and other days it comes right to me. I asked him how he felt about the exercise and he said, “I feel like it’s helping me-open up, understand you more, and I really like giving you compliments-more so than getting them”

In the interest of keeping some things private I’m not going to share the words we exchange… but I will share with you the feelings and reactions I have when I receive those gifts each day…

My soul beams, I feel warmed and get that ushy gushy feeling, I think of his thoughtfulness, I’m surprised and flattered, I get butterflies, and anticipation for the next time I will spend time with him.  Most importantly though-his willingness to participate (on some days even initiate) has left me feeling lucky that I have such a man in my life.

Just an aside-I told my friend H about the little exercise and she text me a few hours later-“I told my husband about your compliment thing and he loved it.. we started it today-he even went first!” Completely reinforcing my putting it out there idea-because you never know who will be inspired by your actions or words..


Pomegranate Salsa

Pomegranate seeds are the anti-oxidants of the gods.. or so they say. Who are they??? I have no clue, but they say it!


My friend Rachel Chafee made this lovely dish for a recent holiday party and I’d like to share her genius with all of you. More of Rachel’s recipes can be found on her blog- Life without bread and butter.  Rachel suffers from many food in-tolerances including-but not limited to gluten, dairy, and soy. Her story is worth reading if you find yourself struggling with gastrointestinal troubles.

At any rate-here’s the recipe:

1/2 pomegranate seeded (see video below for a great tutorial on the cleanest easiest way to do this)

1 cucumber (chopped)

1/4 red onion (chopped)

1-2 limes (juiced)

Cilantro (chopped-add to your taste)

Jalapeno (chopped-add to your to taste)

1 clove garlic (chopped)


Add all ingredients and mix in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

My favorite are the “Way Better” simply so sweet chili.

You will yield the best results if you refrigerate and wait one to two days before serving-then all of the flavors combine and it tastes soooo much better!

Try adding pear, apples, avocado, or watermelon-all tasty combinations.

If you are strict paleo this is a perfect salad dressing-or side salad complement to a nice white fish or poultry dish.


Sweet Potato and Parsnip Fries

Oh I love me a good parsnip! Pronounced Pah-snip if you’d like to sound regal and of English high society. I had some root veggie fries at a recent holiday gathering with friends and decided to create my own version… hope you try and enjoy!


2 sweet potatoes

2 parnsnips

olive oil

garlic powder

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

course salt

freshly ground pepper


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) cut vegetables in matchstick form-only thicker than match sticks-more like french fries-haha

3) pull rosemary in a bunch and twist a little to bruise the leaves and release the oils-then finely chop

4) Put vegetables in a large container for tossing with oil (I like to use a zip lock bag, though that’s not totally green)-the amount of oil used will vary-but you don’t want the veggies to be slick-at the same time you don’t want them to be dry-so start with a little-toss-and add more as needed. You may want to try some of that olive oil spray to lightly coat the vegetables

5) in a separate bowl-combine garlic powder (1-2 tsp), rosemary, salt, and pepper-stir it up

6) add spice bowl to vegetables while tossing-making sure all spices are distributed onto the veggies

7) spread on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes on the middle rack. You may need to toss them half way through-check for burning edges

8) broil on high for 2-3 minutes for a final crisp-again-watch for burning edges

9) EAT!!!!

Note: the image is not mine-I borrowed it from

The stuff we put out there….

I was hopeful that people would start sharing their lists with me and with the world wide web, and guess what??? They did! I’ve had so much feedback regarding the last post. I don’t know if it was the energy I was putting out there or if there was a fear of being honest and open about what each of us wants for ourselves-perhaps my jump off the proverbial cliff inspired others to take the leap as well? Whatever the reason, I feel humbled. I am just so amazed at the effect that just one person can have on people around them. I put my thoughts and feelings into words and BAM there was a reaction. It’s like a raindrop on calm waters, a loud bang in a peaceful night, or a push of a domino. People were talking about what they wanted or continue to want in their relationship or future relationship. I received numerous emails from people I haven’t spoken to in years-people I speak to everyday, and people I don’t really even know very well. It reminded me that no matter how big or small- the waves we create have an impact on something or someone-who then react and in turn their reaction touches someone else, and it keeps going-the ripple effect so to speak.

This is not about tooting my own horn or asking for recognition, it’s simply about putting it out there. What is it that you want in your life? How do you want to feel? How do you want to be known? Who do you want to be?

I met a man the other night-a first meeting-kind of an impromptu date. He said to me, “I read your blog post, it’s kind of overwhelming, and I’m not sure I will be able to do all of those things.”

I thought about it and my response went something like this-and if I didn’t actually say it verbatim-this is what I meant, “you know-it’s not really about following it all and strict adherence to the guidelines-it’s more of a declaration of who I am and what I’m looking for and what I know I cannot have in my life again. It’s a living document to be revisited throughout life. If you really like me and you want to be with me and we align then you’ll try your hardest to respect all of what encompasses Jess Hayden-you will TRY. It’s really about the kind of guy I want to be with-the kind of man who will demonstrate respect for me and our relationship-a cultivation of integrity. It’s about the kind of man I choose to be with.”

His response was simple, “well-I’m willing to try.”

You just never know what will happen when you put it out there…. (to be continued)

Dear Future Boyfriend

I stumbled across a blog from the amazing Danielle LaPorte a few months ago. This woman is uh-mazing. She speaks to my heart, soul, and brain! Sometimes I channel Lady LaPorte when I need a cheerleader on my shoulder… quotes such as “everything you have ever done, in the history of humanity, has brought you to this point; that’s a whole lot of life force on your side” and “Care more about being accurately and precisely who you are, than caring what someone might think about you” resonate clearly within my whole being.

I’ve found myself single once more, but this time I’m actually enjoying the dating scene. I’ve met a variety of totally awesome men-some who I could see in my future, some who I think were dear and sweet-but couldn’t see a spark in the dark, some who are just dusting off their dating pants after coming out of a long-term relationship-who need a few more dates (not me) under their belt so they can get the cobwebs out, and some who aren’t totally sure they’re in the right place to date. It’s been a truly wonderful experience and I thank all of them for assisting me in my road to relationship journey-which continues to evolve each day.

At any rate-a recent blog-“Dear Dudes” was delivered to my email a few days ago by Danielle LaPorte.  As I pilfered through my inbox-as one does when their inbox is flooded with advertisements and junk-I saw her email and I opened it. My mouth dropped as I read this most profound letter to all of the GOOD MEN out there… I found myself nodding and laughing and thinking-this isn’t just for all of the GOOD MEN, this is also for the GOOD WOMEN to study-because her letter projects/radiates/shouts out what women should be looking for in a GOOD MAN. It’s like cliff notes for guys on how to treat a lady-how to read a lady-and how to “dance” with a lady-or really it’s like cliff notes for GOOD people in general-and how to treat each other when you find yourself smitten.

I realized as I read the Dear Dudes-that I had a few of my own that weren’t included. I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE if, as you’re reading this, you become inspired to write your own “Dear Dude” or “Dear Lady” because this isn’t just about what ladies want-it’s about taking off the masks and making declarations and objections to the universe about what we all deserve and have the ability to give and receive. The objection part is really just calling people out- objecting to the universe when we see people subconsciously or consciously self-sabotaging their potential for finding a deeper love in a partnership. Whether the Dear Dude or Dear Lady is for you, for me, or for some fantasy person out there… do it..write it.. declare it… make it happen!!!! I want to see those declarations and objections in my comments section!!!! I realize this is a risk and I’m willing to take it-just remember to please keep it tactful!

Dear Future Boyfriend,

1) I cry a lot. Please don’t let this scare you-I cry when I’m angry, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m touched by the struggles or kindness of others, and I cry when I’m frustrated. When I cry, I only need you to touch my arm, squeeze my hand, beckon me into your arms, or kiss my forehead. I need nothing else-no words, no comforting pats on the back, no rationalizing or talking it out… just be present with me in the moment without trying to fix anything.


2) Which brings me to fixing-when I tell you of a dilemma I might be facing, please don’t try to fix right away. I need listening and then a question, just one question will do, “how can I help?” I promise I will tell you exactly what I need-it might just be the nearness of you.


3) Messy-I’ve always been a messy person and somewhat ashamed of it-but I’m now learning to embrace it. Be forewarned-I’m not OCD-but I’m also not a disgusting slob and I enjoy a clean living space-it gets done when I get around to it. It’s ok to light a fire under my ass sometimes. I accept it.


4) I speak my mind. I say what I’m thinking-sometimes there’s no point to it at all-just airing out the brain and purging. Along with this-I’m working on my filter-I tend to give gifts of TMI – again- I’m working on it and am very aware.


5) If you want to keep me interested-pursue me and keep me engaged-touch base with me at least once a day-I don’t need full on text or phone convos-just a check in. I want to be pursued-I’m worth it and you’re worth my attention too. This could be disastrous if I’m not that into you-it’s a risk we all take when dating though, and I promise to be up front with you if I’m not feeling it anymore.


6) I talk. If you want to tell me a secret-make sure you tell me it’s a secret-I like sharing, but won’t if asked not to.


7) I have amazing friends and want you to get to know them and want them to like you, but it makes me uncomfortable when you text, email, call, or meet up for drinks with my friends when I’m not around. However irrational or jealous or insecure that sounds-it’s how I feel. Please respect my feelings and don’t misinterpret it for being controlling. So, unless you’re making benign arrangements (borrowing a saw, a camera, a pan) or plans with me in mind (purchasing a gift, trying to figure out how to apologize, or conjuring up a surprise)-please don’t cross the line. My friends are my life-line, my support- I wouldn’t ever want to feel any reason not to trust. Becoming too friendly with my friends creates blurred lines for everyone. I promise to adhere to the friends rule as well.


8) Family-please don’t introduce me to your family unless you really like me and can see yourself with me for the long haul. I tend to get attached and find it really difficult and unfair to break those connections when a relationship ends-even though I know it has to be done. Conversely-you want to get to know my family and want to share the time between yours and mine. Family is sacred-wait until you know. This includes your kids-please-if you have kids, don’t introduce me to them until we have decided we are in it to win it. Maybe down the road it doesn’t work out-but I’m not going to meet your kids until you and I are both sure that a life together is what we want. In the mean time-I can deal with the inconvenience of not being able to see each other when you have your children. It’s not fair to your kids if one of us is not totally invested. Your kids will respect you all the more for waiting and not having a turnstile of women in their lives-I promise you-if you truly love me and want me in your life-your kids will too-after all- I’m a GOOD WOMAN too.


10) I like surprises-flowers, little gifts, notes, sweet texts… I like- keep it coming- also my friends like to see me liking and that means BIG things for you all around.


11) I am always rooting for you. I like you after all and want you to come out on top. I may disagree with what you are doing or have done-but I want you to do well and will try to make that happen-ask me for help if you need it.


12) Planning & Dating-I like to know that you’re thinking of me and want to make sure that no other guy is going to sweep me off my feet while you’re not around. So… make a plan for when you want to see me next.


13) I need a strong man by my side-tell me like it is-don’t be wishy washy- games and flirting are fun, but be direct and if you’re not feeling it anymore-be a man and tell me-stringing me along is so not cool.


14) Must love or like cats and dogs. I have a cat and a dog-they are a part of my package. I may compromise on sleeping arrangements if you are allergic, but they’re a part of who I am and I will not get rid of them.


15) I have a heart of gold-I am a helper and a giver. I will often do things to show you just how special you are to me and to let you know I think about you even when you’re not around. Accept these gifts of gratitude and please see it for all that it’s worth-it’s because I believe you’re worthy of receiving tokens of my love and appreciation for being present in my life-not because I’m obsessed or trying to bribe or manipulate you. If you ever feel like you are unworthy or I’m manipulating we need to talk.


16) If we happen to come to a crossroads and we part ways- know that I have break up boundaries and that I need time to heal. I can’t go from girlfriend to good friend over night. It takes time for energy to shift and for love to change from romantic to friendship. When I don’t respond to emails or texts it doesn’t mean I never ever want to talk to you- or are playing games or being manipulative-it just means that I need more time. I will let you know when I’m ready-if you don’t respond to a text or email from me I will assume that you aren’t ready. I will also promise to retreat back to the life I had before you appeared-again-I need my friends to be my friends during this time and assume you would need your friends to be there for you. I’m not asking anyone to take sides or to call names or point fingers-I’m just asking for space.


17) I love to cook, I’m an adventurer of food, please adventure with me… it’s so much fun to cook for someone else.


18) I need physical contact-I like a hand on the back, linked arms, forehead kisses, back massages, and compliments whispered in my ear-think Eric Clapton “Wonderful Tonight”. On the flip side-I’m not into making out in public or excessive PDA in front of an audience-don’t be offended if I swat you off when I don’t feel it’s appropriate-trust me-I like you and can’t wait to have my hands all over you-just not in front of the faces of friends and family.


19) Drugs-no thank you. Alcohol-enjoying a few beverages here and there is fine, but you don’t drink excessively and you know when to say when. Cigarettes-if you smoke an occasional butt when we’re out don’t expect me to kiss you until you wash your mouth, hands, and face. I hate it and would prefer you don’t ever do it-in fact smoking is a deal breaker for me if done one a regular basis. Cigars-I might take a puff once in a while and that’s your philosophy too.


20) I love that you are intelligent, articulate, witty, and hilarious-you make me laugh, have an appreciation for the arts, history, literature, and science and enjoy learning. You’re like an urban cowboy-you’re adventurous, handy and like to get your hands dirty, but you clean up well. You like the outdoors and are always pushing me to get outside and enjoy it with you. You’re handy and can fix stuff around the house-if you don’t know how to do it you’ll figure it out.


21) You have your own interests and appreciate that I have mine-we know how to make time for each other. I promise to always encourage you in pursuit of your goals and know that you need time for yourself and I need the same. I’m cool with it all as long as you can carve out some time for me (see #12).


22) Last but not least-talk. I believe in talk therapy-you are open to that as well and not afraid of what that means. I believe in talking and being honest with each other no matter how much it might hurt-I can take it and will be interested in it. I don’t mind goofing around and being silly, but some subjects are sacred and require a certain level of seriousness- I believe that we should talk with intention-don’t throw stuff out that we don’t mean and can’t uphold later on. If you’re annoyed, happy, want to kill me, feeling unsatisfied, think the sex could use some spicing up… TALK. I need a man in my life who can cry without being ashamed, who can be controlled in his temper-but talk it out without acting, who can be honest with himself about his feelings and who can share those feelings with me-you are this man.


So, I think that’s it… though I’m sure I will come up with more as I journey.


I’m looking forward to meeting you…


Jess xoxo


P.S. Please access Danielle LaPorte’s letter here-I have only added my own individual needs to hers. If you think it’s too much-it might be for you-we are all beautifully complex human beings and this is absolutely WHO I AM! Again-I invite you to write your own notes to the current man or woman in your life, to the future man  or woman in your life, or to the fantasy person in your life…..


PPS. I realize that some guy friends in my life have objected to this letter by Danielle… they say-why do women think that we need to give them something to complete their happiness? I say, “did you read anything about us wanting you to make us happy?” I say, “look in the details of the fabric… it’s about how we know we operate-it’s about men too-I mean-this could probably be written from a man’s point of view as well-it’s not really gender biased-it’s just that women tend to put their feelings out there more often than men… not ALL men, just more often-it’s a fact-our brains are wired differently” Here’s the thing though… I feel like Danielle is giving all of the men out there the key… the key to breaking the code… you can resist it or you can study it and figure us out… it’s not a list of demands or specific rules per se… it’s just what we talk about and wish for our friends, for ourselves, for our universe… OK.. that’s enough.. write on you writers!




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