I Spent 15% Of My Salary On A Relationship “Coach” And All I Got Was This Lousy List

I spent 15% of my annual income (BEFORE taxes) on a dating/relationship coach. I won’t tell you the exact amount because A) You’ll know how much I make a year, and B) I’ll look like a total idiot.

What I thought would be an intensive three-month program that would completely change my life was really six one-hour long phone calls, a CD, and a handful of emails…for 15% of my yearly salary.

And what is so frustrating about this is that she came highly recommended. Chances are, you’ve even heard of her! But alas, there was no aha moment…other than the realization her exact advice was in every dating book I’ve already read (or watched on Millionaire Matchmaker)… and most upsettingly, I could have bought a few Chanel purses and Louboutin stilletos with that money instead (much more practical).

At least, that was my initial reaction. Then I started thinking about why I was so angry and it dawned on me that I already knew this stuff…and if I already knew what she told me to be true, why wasn’t I applying it? Why did I keep wasting my time with “exceptions”?  Because that’s what it really came down to…I’d meet someone, make an exception, and then wonder why I got hurt.

So what prompted all of this in the first place?  We have to pop back to the summer of 2014. I had just ended yet another disaster of a relationship and realized my picker was not just off…but on another planet. This wasn’t the first time I’d chosen incorrectly and thought I could use a new perspective…or an ass-kicking to stop the pattern.

To be fair, I really enjoyed talking to my dating coach. She had this soothing voice that instantly made me feel safe and like I could tell her all of my problems. And even when I went onto the call grumpy, I left our calls feeling like I could take on the world. But then I’d think about all the money I spent and wonder why I wasn’t experiencing this immediate change and get more and more ticked off…well, Joelle, the shift had to come from within…and would have to be an actual, active (and continuous) decision. But it wasn’t until I reread my notes from our calls that I understood that.

I ended the program in early December 2014. And while this  is definitely a journey and not a destination (I’m not in a relationship, but at least I’ve been on/going on dates with truly nice guys), I’ll save you whatever percentage of your salary, and share what I learned about dating. Chances are, you’ve heard it before (a million times), but it is worth repeating…because this advice makes sense…and as we know, you get what you accept in life. I like bullet points best, so here it goes (please excuse any first-person as they are my notes from the calls):

Men In General

  • Men’s needs are simplistic
  • Men don’t value things they get for free or don’t pay full value of
  • No real man would let a woman take care of him
  • Be aware of who he spends his time with
  • If a guy presents his body as the value trigger, run
  • Listen to what he says – men say what they mean, especially in the beginning
  • Find a man who wants to protect you and keep you safe
  • Let the man take the lead (it is how you see their character)
  • You cannot change a man

First Dates

  • Don’t be the project manager/event planner for dates – don’t do anything – stop driving the bus and sit on my hands – make him do the work
  • There are no excuses for bad behavior
  • No more than two drinks on the first date – i.e. don’t get smashed on the first few dates
  • Don’t invite a man to do anything for the first six dates – he plans and pays
  • Throw my cards on the table – men respond well to it
  • Notice the little things – does he guide you through the restaurant with his hand on your back? Open doors?
  • Find out if he’s family-oriented
  • Look for a PARTNER
  • Show layer and depth on the first date
  • Never date someone who needs you for financial or social reasons
  • Don’t false advertise
  • Ask questions that matter
  • Focus on philosophical and meaningful conversation on dates
  • Don’t dumb myself down – you want to be with someone you can talk to when you’re 80
  • Is he emotionally stable?
  • Going back in time (i.e. getting back together with an ex) never works
  • Stop being the alpha, let the man take the lead
  • Specificity of what I want is critical – write a list

Later in the Relationship

  • Follow your gut
  • Does he make me feel safe? If no, run
  • If it doesn’t feel good, it’s not right – if a guy cares about you, you know, there is no confusion
  • Don’t settle
  • Loyalty cannot be at my expense, OK to end things instead of trying to make it work


  • Live in my independence and womanhood
  • Walking on the wild side has always broken my heart
  • “Loneliness” is not a bad thing
  • Who you spend your time with is a reflection of you – take a real look at my friends
  • All we can do is live and be honest with everyone, but especially yourself
  • Everything is a choice. What is most important to me?
  • My choices reflect my readiness
  • Know what is a non-negotiable for me
  • Life isn’t about dating stories – it’s about building a life with someone
  • Be aware of how amazing you are
  • Clarity and specificity
  • You can have your life be whatever you want it to be – design your life

Good advice, right?…but 15% of my salary to hear something I already knew to be true?…Absolutely…if I finally follow it.

The Power of Pin Up

“What’s with the pin up thing?” A question I get asked on a daily basis…on dates, by my friends, co-workers, strangers on the street, and even my mom.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

Well, the thing? The special thing? It makes me feel great. And I could leave it at that, because frankly that’s all I need to know…but I’ll dig deeper.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups

Like most girls, I was insecure growing up. I don’t know if this was exacerbated by the fact that I went to an all-girl school for 14 years, but I was constantly comparing myself to my friends (in addition to the unrealistic media)…and I had really pretty friends…so I seemingly came up short. One of my best friends was even called the female version of David by the boy I liked. There’s no telling what that actually did to my psyche, but I do know that I was left with a serious case of self-doubt.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

So when I walked into Amanda Hill‘s studio for the first time a year and a half ago, it was a turning point in my life. And I can say that with absolute certainty. The transformation that has taken place has been undeniably positive and rewarding (I’m not just talking about my eyebrows – thank you, Stephanie Brick!). And it doesn’t really have to do with the fact that I love vintage clothing or hairstyles. Yes, I’ve loved pinups forever (they’ve hung on my walls since the 90’s) and idolized Dita Von Teese, but participating in pin up photo shoots and culture has so much more to do with women empowerment and embracing your femininity than wearing fascinators and corsets.

Joelle Pittman ©Amanda Hill Photography
Joelle Pittman ©Amanda Hill Photography

We (at least the women in my life) don’t spend enough time on ourselves anymore…or get in touch with our sexy side. Heck, I had never, hand-to-God, ever felt sexy or like a real woman until I did a pin-up shoot. These shoots give you the permission to be sexy. Just this past weekend one of my girlfriends mused that she never understood my obsession with pin up until she tried it herself…the hair, the makeup, putting thought into your outfit finally won her over…it is seductive. And why wouldn’t you want to feel that way every day? I do.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups

I’m not claiming to dress up every day, and I’m certainly not a big hitter in the pin up scene (even locally), but that’s why I think I’m the right person to share this message about how life-changing one of these shoots can be. Just wearing my wing tip eyeliner, false eyelashes and filled in eyebrows makes my day better. I even take the time when I’m just riding my horse…he totally appreciates it.

I even wear my false eyelashes and winged eyeliner when I'm riding my horse!
I even wear my false eyelashes and winged eyeliner when I’m riding my horse!

And everything I was insecure about, worked out perfectly for pin up…my curves, my white skin, my dark hair…everything I hated, I learned to love…because of pin up. Pin up made me stop lightening my hair, going to the tanning bed, and starving myself on yet another diet…I stopped trying to be someone else and finally started being me. And that has been the biggest blessing of my life…not only being comfortable with me, but truly loving myself.

Joelle Pittman
Joelle Pittman

Which is why I simply don’t care when people tell me my pin up photos and outfits are “weird.” Pin up actually taught me not to care what others think. Do you see how many important life lessons I’ve learned in such a short time and all because of pin up?!

So don’t knock it ’til you try it…and I highly encourage that you do.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Memphis Bombshells ;)

Fostering for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County
Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

One of my favorite parts of life is fostering for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County.  Yes, it is incredibly difficult to give them back after bonding for a few weeks, but it is completely worth it. By the time they leave for their forever homes, I have loved them, potty trained them (well, they’re on their way at least…), socialized them, and most importantly given them a home when they didn’t have one.

These little ones, Quince (boy) and Summer (girl), were found in an abandoned building along with 12 (!!!!) other pups, which is why I can’t stress enough the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. If you are looking to adopt, foster, or volunteer, I can’t recommend the Humane Society enough. Check out their website for more info. Oh, and remember, adopt don’t shop!

Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County
Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

And I’ll leave you with two of my favorite pup quotes:

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” – Unknown

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” – Edith Wharton

Last Horse Show of the Year

It was bittersweet, but this weekend concluded my 2014 horse show year! And while I do like to win, if I have to “lose,” I am so happy it was to my best friend, Rachel Black.

Joelle Pittman, Reserve Champion of the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35
Joelle Pittman (right), Reserve Champion of the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

Rachel Black, Champion of Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

Joelle Pittman, Reserve Champion of Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

The Perfect Sunday

A few Sundays ago, I had the perfect Sunday. I woke up, cuddled in bed with my pups and then met my best friend for brunch at Booksellers Bistro, which is attached to my favorite bookstore, The Booksellers in Laurelwood.

After devouring French Toast, we browsed among the aisles and I decided upon Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, an astrology guide for 2015, and the latest dating book. Pretty much sums up my life…mixing the serious with just plain silliness, which is what keeps life interesting.

The Booksellers Bistro and The Booksellers at Laurelwood
The Booksellers Bistro and The Booksellers at Laurelwood

Afterwards, I set off to meet my other best friend at the Brooks Museum to see their new exhibit, Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. I was a Greek & Roman Studies major in college and took a million Egyptology courses so to say I geeked out over this exhibit is an understatement. It is incredible and I encourage anyone in the area to go see it. They even have a children’s exhibit with an incredible interactive map of the Memphis in Egypt. You do know that Memphis is named after the city in Egypt, right? Which is why we have the Pyramid…that Bass Pro just bought

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Overton Park

To conclude the day, we walked through the Rainbow Lake Playground and around Rainbow Lake in Overton Park. I had forgotten how amazing this place is and really need to take my pups to their dog park. This is the perfect example of one of the many gems I know about in Memphis, but don’t visit nearly enough. There are so many special things in this city.

Fall Into Winter

I realize it is now November…but it still feels like October to me (or perhaps I’m just clinging to it). So, here is my favorite October picture and my favorite October/autumn quotes.

Joelle Pittman and Yelp, ©Amanda Hill with Amanda Hill Photography
Joelle Pittman and Yelp, ©Amanda Hill with Amanda Hill Photography http://www.amphotography.us

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, When from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name.”
William Bliss

“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

“Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul… but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.”
Peggy Toney Horton

“October had tremendous possibility. The summer’s oppressive heat was a distant memory, and the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures. They made me believe in miracles.”
Sarah Guillory, Reclaimed

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither

“Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like
they’re falling in love with the ground.”
Andrea Gibson

Victorian Mourning Tea at the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum

Victorian Mourning Tea at the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum, Joelle Pittman
Victorian Mourning Tea at the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum, Joelle Pittman

This past Sunday I spent a wonderful afternoon with my mother and girlfriend at the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum for their Victorian Mourning Tea.

I think by now, everyone knows that I am completely obsessed with anything history…especially clothing, which is why this was such a treat. They had the most beautiful, authentic Victorian mourning clothing on display during a mini lecture before tea and a tour of the house.

Victorian Mourning Tea at Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum

The process women had to endure during mourning was incredible. They could not leave their house for a year and a day (with the exception of church) in addition to wearing all black for at least 2 1/2 years. I think I might have just moved to a different city where no one knew who I was…just saying.

Now, a little history on the house. This French Second Empire mansion was built in 1870 with handmade bricks on “Millionaire’s Row” in what is now known as Victorian Village for a carriage maker from New Jersey, Amos Woodruff (whose daughter is one of Memphis’s most famous ghosts – Mollie! And for you ghost hunters, a second ghost also supposedly haunts the home on the 3rd floor – Elliot Fontaine, who died at 34 during the influenza outbreak in 1918.).

Noland Fontaine bought the home in 1883 and his family lived there for the following 46 years. The home briefly became the site for the James Lee Art Academy. After which the home was vacant and at one point set for demolition until the Memphis Chapter of the APTA saved it and then opened the doors in September 1964 as a museum. And thank goodness they did because I absolutely love this house/museum!

My favorite part? It is decorated every holiday as it would have been during the Victorian era. It is also has one of the largest 1920′s clothing collections in the South with over 1,000 pieces! Those clothes – so gorgeous! And I can’t believe how tiny they were!! They are smaller than size zeros!

It never gets old. I became a member for $30 and can’t wait to come back throughout the year as they change the furnishings seasonally. They also host multiple lectures, teas and other parties throughout the year…very fun stuff and definitely unique! Great change of pace from the same ole same ole on the weekends.

Museum Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday with the last tour leaving at 3:30 pm. Tours last about an hour.

Oh, and all three floors are covered in the tour but it should be noted there is no elevator!

The Victorian Village website is also a treasure trove of information!

Victorian Mourning Tea at the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum, Joelle Pittman


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