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ASTRONAUT = A person who travels beyond Earth’s atmosphere;
a trainee for spaceflight. (MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S)

DATING/DATE = An appointment to meet at a specified time; a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character. (MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S)

ASTRONAUT DATING = Two people who travel beyond a familiar atmosphere into the realm of the unknown for romantic reasons; a romantic mission.

Astronauts receive training for rapid transitions. They can go from complete boredom to having to perform at maximum capacity in a matter of moments…

We wouldn’t want to send you out into space without training, right? But think about it. Is that how you approach your potential love relationships? Without training and without awareness of your own strengths (and weaknesses) – you’re basically flying blind into the outer space of love, hoping to land on a planet, or a moon. Therefore, space travel is not for the faint of heart, and neither is love.

For some, dating can be like strolling up to a complete stranger and saying: “So, you want to fly to the moon with me?” Not only have you left the entire purpose, premise and intent out of the question, your mission isn’t really helped by its own variables, either: “No, I really have no idea how we’ll get there, but I’ve heard it’s just a fabulous adventure, and everyone else is doing it, so why not? Let’s give it a try!”

Some may also be over-inspired, putting off potential partners with an untrusted enthusiasm for the adventure. That special someone may not understand anything about the mission, such as what the atmosphere on the new planet is like, or whether the air is even breathable.

Just like no space mission is a guaranteed success, no relationship is guaranteed to succeed, either. For manned space missions, each crew member has been specially trained to carry out a specific role – and trained is the key word, here – but who knows what will happen after the launch? The best possible outcome is that everyone performs their roles to perfection, responding rapidly and correctly to each scenario as it arises.

Factor in the increasingly expanding and complicated world of Internet dating and social media – where connections can occur  as fast as the speed of light – and it becomes apparent that each crew member MUST understand what the mission actually is…


And this is exactly why most missions of love fail – all hype and no prep. Most of the failed connections I’ve dealt with fall into this huge, strange category. My goal is to prepare you for the mission.

Retired NASA Flight Director Eugene Francis “Gene” Krantz directed the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13. A favorite figure in the history of U.S. manned space exploration, Krantz was also a personal friend of the American astronauts of his time. Some could even argue that, no one – not even the astronauts themselves – were as invested in their safe return to Earth as he was.

To give you an idea of how–even with all the best prep work, training and support–things can easily go all wrong, the following is Krantz’s famous countdown to launch the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. Krantz: “Apollo 13 Flight Controllers, listen up! Give me a go/no-go for launch… “Booster!” – “Go!”  “RETRO!”  (Retrofire Officer) – “ Go!” “FIDO!” (Flight Dynamics Officer) – “We’re go, Flight!” “Guidance!” – “Guidance go!” “Surgeon!” – “Go, Flight.” “EECOM!” (Command Service Module Electrical and Environmental Engineer) – “We’re go, Flight!” “GNC!” (Guidance, Navigation & Control) – “We’re go!” “TELMU!” (Telemetry) – “Go!” Control!” (EECOM’s counterpart for Lunar Module systems) – “Go, Flight!” Procedures! – “Go!” “INCO!” (Instrumentation and Communications Officer) –“ Go!” “FAO!” (Flight Activities Officer) – “We are go!” “Network!” – “Go!” “Recovery!” – “Go!” “CAPCOM!” (Capsule Communicator) – “We’re go, Flight!” Krantz: “Launch Control, this is Houston. We are go for launch!”

Alas, the astronauts of Apollo 13 never made it to the moon, but because they made it back to Earth alive, that mission was called a “successful failure.” Going to the moon failed despite all the best minds in the country fighting for it every step of the way. There were just too many unforeseen variables in that mission.

But it doesn’t have to be this way in your relationships. You can always become a better Flight Director.

Of HEARTS & MINDS is a sporadic blog about love.

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The Spi(der) Who Loved Me

All Guts, No Glory ~ A Terrible Morning for the Spi(der) Who Loved Me…..

When I first saw you, I admit you caught me off guard. While your eight eyes were captivating, deep down I knew I couldn’t trust you. “Just stay there, in your corner,” I said. And you seemed to agree, because you stayed there.

For three days, I knew you only as the dark and dangerous lone wolf, with no family and no friends (at least none that wanted to be seen with you). But in the eerie, early morning of today you broke the terms of our courtship, and you most certainly did NOT stay put. You might have thought that you were dancing across my heart, but really, you were tiptoeing across my forehead, which freaked me out.

So, from a sound sleep, I woke and instinctively smacked at my forehead in the dark…just once, and Splatttt!! As I jumped out of bed, you fell to the floor, deader than dead. “What were you thinking?!” I yelled, but got no answer.

It should have been such a simple affair. But, after your demise, confusion set in and I wondered what this was really all about.

It was so very hard to go back to sleep. But, when I awoke today, I felt like I needed to tell you…I’m not sorry.

And I’m over it.

Of Hearts & Minds is a blog about love, written by someone 12,000 people (and counting) tell their secrets to.

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Through a variety of platforms, I’ve provided confidential relationship, career & life coaching direct services to more than 12,000 clients over the past decade and currently serve approximately 100 clients per month, by phone, throughout the U.S. and internationally. In what are typically 30/40-minute sessions, I provide personal guidance and action plans to improve the communications dynamics within clients’ personal and professional relationships and achieve desired outcomes. My overall focus is on improving clients’ self-esteem and self-worth by making need-based, positive changes. On call 24/7.

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Love Like Lasagna



With the Internet ‘ins’ and social media ‘outs’ of today, love has become a much more layered adventure than it used to be – like the lasagna you hate to make, but love to eat.

On some level, we may want to keep our dish simple, but most will find it’s a journey complicated by too many experimental ‘cook-ups’ of random ingredients in hopes of finding a recipe we’d like to keep.

These days, creating an intriguing love-lasagna profile requires everything from patrolling the Internet in search of the best recipes to downloading pictures of the perfect dish, even uploading pictures of what you’ve got to work with. Because it is a bit of work, some will also prefer a bit of experimenting.

Don’t experiment with the noodles you select for this entrée. The Creste Di Galli pasta noodles (shaped like an ear) might be tempting to use if you hope your lasagna will subliminally help that special someone to hear you. But these noodles would actually create a very confused and messy-looking plate, one which you would ultimately regret serving to someone you hope to impress. And Tagliatelle might seem a compelling noodle if you hope to inspire your partner to communicate more over dinner, but this type of pasta is hopelessly narrow and really too delicate to bond all of your ingredients together into a cohesive dish. In other words, if you’re not using lasagna noodles, straight up make something else.

This lasagna is the Entrée of Love. It must be a great and memorable ensemble. Therefore, the self-titled noodles are to be its only foundation. They are strong, wide and enduring. Worldwide, lasagna recipes require that these noodles overlap. Miss this step, and your whole lasagna will be built upon shaky ground. Remember this, and you can easily create a heart-inspired lasagna without incident.

The ingredients in the middle of this Dish of Love can also be confusing – know what you are shopping for! Not everyone will have the same goal, but when we sit down at the table together we should more or less be expecting the same meal. In particular, try to view the cheese variables in this entrée as sex:  Ricottas, mozzarellas, cottage and parmesans–useful binding agents, to be sure, but without the other ingredients you’ve only got a snack.

Like the deep, rich flavor of a fabulous love, we recognize that the most crucial ingredient in any great lasagna is its sauce. Within it floats the commonality of what everyone expects to get from the dish – the zesty, velvety, cohesive element that is appreciated in every bite. Without it, the rest of your ingredients would likely be discarded for something ready-made and frozen. The sauce really provides the cohesion for the love you are seeking, and so requires a mindful majority of ingredients, preparation and a critical simmering time.


Preparation-wise, ask yourself the following questions before randomly tossing things in with the meat:  Do you really have enough time to invest in bringing out flavors in the sauce you are about to create? Or are you just hungry for something that will taste substantial?

You’ll come to see your sauce is key because it speaks to your true intentions. Whether its protein is hamburger or sausage, this is a dish that relies on the sauce as the vehicle that delivers all the goodness and spices we’d all hope to find in this lovey, layered, oozing comfort food. Some may try to serve up this entrée with only a side-dish mentality, skimping on the ingredients, the preparation, the timeline and, ultimately, the flavor. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s O.K. to be haphazard about what goes into your ideal version of a lasagna.


  1. Essentially, you could spend 15 minutes or three hours on a sauce, and know that you will certainly be able to taste the difference in the depth of flavor developed. But the time line is exclusively yours.
  2. Always drain the fat off your meat before adding in other flavor variables. Your lasagna does not need to carry with it the baggage of fat that was not drained off, believe me.
  3. Do your noodles overlap???


Whether you spend minutes, hours, days or months browsing up potential variations of this entrée online, you’ll discover some immediate, yet persistent truths about what others think a lasagna ought to be about: Some don’t want any meat; some don’t want to be able to taste a bunch of healthy vegetables; and some will feel uncomfortable about eating it – no matter how great it looks or how good it tastes – should they become aware of just how much time and effort you put into making just the sauce. Others won’t even want you to know they are hungry.

Truth is, everyone loves lasagna – when it’s good. More than one engagement has certainly followed the great lasagna that leapt from a plate and straight into someone’s heart.

There are thousands of different recipes out there, each with its own set of expectations, actions and reactions. Don’t be overwhelmed, but know that preparing a quiet, dignified and sincere lasagna sauce will no doubt result in a meal that is honest and fortifying. That is the most you can do, so be proud of it. And once you’ve got it, stay true to your own unique recipe and you’ll never regret it.

The secret to keeping the recipe alive and appreciated over time? Well, that happens to be hidden in and channeled through the sauce, as well. Always season to taste until you develop your desired flavor, and don’t forget to stir occasionally.


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for pan

1 pound ground beef, turkey, sausage or non-meat alternative

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, chopped

1 (8-ounce) jar tomato sauce

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 (8-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles

2 large eggs

2 cups cottage cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

1 (8-ounce) bag shredded mozzarella

1 (8-ounce) bag shredded Cheddar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and sauté meat, onion, and garlic until meat is browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Drain pan of fat and add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, then mix in cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and seasoning salt. Spread a little of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Lay half the noodles in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping by 1/2-inch. Spread half the egg and cottage cheese mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle half the mozzarella and Cheddar evenly over the cottage cheese mixture. Pour half the meat sauce on top. Repeat layering in same order. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan on top. Bake in center of oven 30 to 35 minutes until sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Pairs well with: Sangiovese, a bright, fruity, Italian red wine. (Recipe courtesy of: The Neelys.) Of Hearts & Minds is a blog about love, written by someone more than 12,000 people have told their secrets to. 

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