Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ramblings and Musings

I had a date today.  He was nice - a good man.  And so, so, so not my man.  He was significantly heavier than in his profile pics, and he was sweet, but there was absolutely no spark whatsoever.

I am definitely holding out for a spark.

OkCupid sent me a silly message today that I'm in their top 50% of attractive users.  I'm not sure if I'm flattered or disgusted that I got this email, and I don't want to be treated like cattle (even attractive cattle), but the truth is that I wasn't feeling a zing with the connections I was receiving, so maybe now with a slightly shallower criterion added in (sigh, I'm not proud) I'll find connections with a bit of a spark.


This past week I've lived the life that was hard to live when I was with Bryan.  I went snowshoeing and sledding, I went to a big museum exhibit, I went to a wonderful place that provides wine, a canvas, and paint and had a girls' night out where I painted my first picture since the second grade (and had a blast, and even kind of like the results - I hung it in my bedroom!).  My date may not have been fantastic, but it was still nice to have a guy that was excited to meet me and listened deeply and shared his own experiences.  These things are so small - but they're also so big.  I feel a lot closer to being the person I want to be, and so hopeful that even more is coming, that with each coming day I am more myself.

I have also continued my work out path.  I can run farther now, and I feel changes in my body that I really like.  When I was snowshoeing I didn't even feel like I was exercising, and that was fantastic - I was just enjoying the snow, nothing more.  (I even tried to talk Katherine into going farther, but no dice.)

So, with the new year around the corner, I'm hopeful.  It's going to be a great year, and I can't wait.  I am sure there will be challenges....but I'm hoping none are as huge as those of 2012!

Now - back to obsessively checking OkCupid to see who has clicked on me.  It's a night without Katherine, and I'm in the living room by candlelight eating Trader Joe's food and having a glass of wine.  Yes, I know, I'm a wild child.  :-)  But tomorrow is work, and I plan to go in well rested.

Happy (almost) New Year's!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wrapping Up

I love this time of year.

Christmas is past, and there is a whole new set of memories to go with it.  My house has once again echoed with the laughter of friends in candlelight and music, and I can feel the presence of all that love even though the party is long over.  My daughter's gift - artwork - hangs in a place of honor, where I can see it daily.  The fridge is emptied of brie en croute and smoked salmon and prime rib leftovers, and we return to spinach salads and stirfries.

Today, the presents get tucked into their new homes - drawers and toy bins - and the tree comes down.  When the needles are swept up and the furniture returned to position, the house will feel bigger than before - the clutter of nutcrackers and snow globes and stockings will be gone, and open spots remain.

It was a fabulous Christmas, better than I could have hoped for.  Mostly, I politely ignored Bryan, and he made it easy on me by doing the same in return.  We were together for most of 24 hours, and he even stayed in the basement here in the guest room at Katherine's request.  It wasn't perfect, but it was better than I worried it would be.  Friends, family, quiet time.  A blissful week off with my daughter, to celebrate the holidays in style and to do fun activities like a museum exhibit and snowshoeing.

And now, I have a weekend to myself to contemplate life and dream of what is coming in the new year.

First, I'm cleaning up the house, getting it in top shape.  Then, I'm working out - I've been getting regular exercise, running, doing yoga, and doing as much as I can to feel strong and healthy.  Then, planning for a new year.

How much travel?  Can we become a ski-family?  What house projects?  Work goals?  Writing?

And how to navigate the surreal world of dating in one's 40s?  I've received dozens of messages on OkCupid, and none of them are making my heart pitter-patter....should my heart pitter-patter for pixels?  How much time do I want to dedicate to that?

Now is the time of year to consider it all.

I've come a long way.  If I make as much progress in 2013 as I did in 2012, pretty much anything is possible.  I am filled with hope and prayers that there will be no major challenges in 2012, and that maybe some of the pain of the previous years will be balanced by unbelievable joys in the coming years.

But as for 2012 - it's a wrap.  I can't wait to see what is next!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gut checks

So my online flirtation has continued with phone calls, emails, and online chatting.

So much fun to flirt!  A few suggestive comments, and I can practically see him trying to crawl through the wires to get to me.  It's a sensation of power and fun and desire and plain old lust, and given that I'd practically forgotten that I had all that in me (by necessity), it was a fabulous reminder that I am still a sensual being, and that I've still got it.

But of course, there's a problem.  Oops.

I have no idea what the heck I'm doing, and that is clear.  I'm making this up as I go, learning along the way.  I didn't go too far down the innuendo path, but I went far enough.  And it was super fun.


I am just not into sexual innuendo with a stranger on the internet.  It's a persona that I was trying on, and it is just not me at this phase of my life.

But it's worse than that.

He really likes me.  He's got a hunch that this is something special.

And he uses the word "to" when he should say "too" and this is a small and ridiculous thing but it makes me insane.  (Ex English teacher here.)  I can't decide if I'm physically attracted to his pictures, but I'm starting to lean to 'no.'  I think he might be more of a party boy than I ever will be, even though he's also a dad, business professional, etc.  Something's off - I think he's a great person, deserving of great love....but he's not for me.

And then it came out that he's a "fiscal Republican."  This is better than if he was a social republican, but it's not great for me.  I have Republican friends and family, and I love them, but there are always places we can't go in discussion, things we have to dance around, and I really don't want that in a partner.  I don't think I can date a Romney supporter, even though I have Romney-voting friends.  (Fewer in number than my lefty-liberal friends, but still...)

I'm looking for a guy who will sit around with my uber educated, lefty liberal friends, and fit right in.

He's right.  We were clicking...

Except that I was getting swept up in it all, instead of listening to my gut that it isn't quite right.  I have a talent for it, and back in the day when I was dating, I had a number of men who were convinced that I was the one for them, and when they told me so I was shocked they thought it was a good match.  This isn't my guy.  He's a good guy, a breath of fresh air after Bryan, but he's not for me.

So, I've got to get out of this awkward situation.  I've agreed to a date, and I'm not going to go.  And I feel bad, because I've lead him on, except that I wasn't leading him on, I was just trying to find my way, and I thought it was all good, except then I got sudden clarity.

I wish I'd listened to my gut a few conversations ago, but better now than in the wedding dress.  (Yes, that is how it went with Bryan.)  I think that this gentleman will not be thrilled with my rejection, and it may catch him off guard, and I feel bad for that....but better now than later, because it won't get any easier.

Shoot.  I have to put on my big girl panties and end it before it started.  I'm learning - but not all of the learning is fun!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Online Flirtation

As I've mentioned here, I signed up before with an online dating service, and then realized I wasn't ready.  What I didn't mention before is that my profile hadn't garnered much interest; as my confidence is generally pretty high, I just blew it off as the crazy online world, and I didn't think much of it.

Well, the times they are a'changin'.

I'm in a good place.  My life is going well, and I'm proud of myself and my accomplishments.  I think I really AM ready to date, and that I know what I want.  This must have come through, because oh-my-goodness I am getting a lot of attention!  Seriously, this is the best ego boost ever.  Multiple gentlemen contact me every day, and more "favorite" me, and my email is abuzz with new messages from OkCupid.

It is really fun.  I won't lie, I am absolutely lapping it up.  My friend said that I was like Scarlett O'Hara at the picnic, with gentlemen all around me, and I could point to them and say, "And YOU may get my dessert..." and though I am as un-Scarlett-like as they come, I giggle at the image.

Most of the gentlemen are a very, very, very bad fit for me.  Some must be cruising for green cards (Sri Lanka?  Saudi Arabia?  No thank you.), some are cruising for casual sex, some are looking for cougars (23 years old means you were born when I was 20!!!).

Some are men who are likely very nice guys, genuine and kind, but just not a fit for me.  I reply to those ones: the ones who actually read the profile, responded to something that caught their attention, and then tell me a bit about themselves.  If they took the trouble to reach out to me and compliment me, the least I can do is respond. I thank them, and then tell them it's not a match, and wish them well.

(Thank you to Marni Battista at Dating With Dignity for advice on how to handle this stuff with integrity.  I'm not associated with their website at any level, and I've never paid for their services, but I think that Marni's advice is spot on and I'm following it.  See the link on the side under links I like... )

But then there are the interesting guys.  Enough of a physical spark from the pictures (I don't need a supermodel, but a little "oh, he's cute" is a good start), and then a deep interest in the profile.  A little cruise of the questions to see if our values align....and a conversation begins.

I've been invited out on multiple dates.  After chatting a bit, one guy inadvertantly revealed a bit of a temper, and I quickly bowed out.  I'm moving slowly with a couple more - it's easy to buy myself a bit of time over the holidays, because I'm booked with holiday events with my daughter, and I'm not lying when I say it has to wait until January.

So, I'd say it's going swimmingly.  I'm putting myself out there, and the Universe seems to be saying "I approve.  Keep going!"

But there's this one guy.  Twinkles in his eyes.  Active.  Professional.  Dedicated father.  Playful.  Intriguing.  And totally into me!  We have a date and location on the calendar, and I'm looking forward to it, and actually wishing I wasn't so busy so that we could do it sooner.  We've graduated to the telephone, and I like him more, not less, as a result.

I Googled him, too.  He is who he says he is, and I like that.  I like it a lot.

It feels a bit like having an imaginary friend, conversing with someone I've never met.  I could get really into this guy, in theory, but I'm taking it reeeeaalllly slow, following my own sense of timing and such, listening to my gut.

Merry Christmas to me.  2013 is going to be a great year!

Monday, December 17, 2012


My divorce will be final in less than a month - all that is left to do is get the judge's signature (and then go to the trouble to change my name on every account).

So, last night I decided it was time to window shop a bit on a dating site.  OkCupid is free, and that felt very low risk, so I created a profile, and then sat back.

Messages have been coming in all night and morning, and it's very flattering.  Of course, I'm not interstested in a love relationship with a 29 year old living in Sri Lanka, and I'm not likely to change my views on contraception, homosexuality, and politics the way one kind man hoped.

But mixed in with the crazies are a couple of genuinely interesting guys.  I chatted online with one last night for perhaps 20 minutes, and it was....lovely.  Normal.  Slightly flirtatious, but not over the top.  He seems like an all around good guy, a great dad, an interesting person.  (I ended it to go to bed at a reasonable hour.  Look at how I've grown!)

My twenty year old self would be planning the wedding.  My more-than-forty year old self merely wonders if we will chat again.  (I think we will.)  He asked me to meet some time soon, and I said not until after the holidays, because that is what I'd written on my profile (I said I was window shopping until then), and because that is what works for me.

It's almost time.  And I'm excited.  I "have" to do this to find the life I want....and you know what?  It might actually be fun.  Last night was a good start, anyway, and I'm glad for that.

We'll see!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Family

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

We are deep in the heart of holiday season: Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas is just around the corner.  Katherine and I have decked the halls, and she spent one lovely night sleeping next to the Christmas tree, snuggled under a snowman blanket.  We have seen a Christmas concert, and we've done our holiday tradition of the carousel downtown and a horse drawn carriage ride at night around the city.

Though Bryan only moved out in July, this is our second "separated" Christmas.  Last year, he lived downstairs, and I lived upstairs, with an awful lot of overlap.  I won't lie, that was an incredibly difficult Christmas for me.  I didn't send out holiday cards because I didn't know what to say on them, or even who to sign them from: we lived in the same house, but surely we couldn't send out a "family" card?  Christmas last year, Bryan left in the middle of dinner and locked himself in his bedroom while our house was full of guests.  Nothing provoked this; while I'm sure he found it all as surreal as I did, there was nothing that went wrong or no awkward moment that sent him storming downstairs.  When I knocked on his door and asked whether he was going to join us for dessert (we were all waiting), he yelled at me to go away.  To say that it was unpleasant wouldn't even touch on it.

In addition to our uneasy living situation, last year I wasn't working, I didn't have a solid plan, and our finances were a mess.

So, this year, by comparison, feels like a piece of cake.  Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and a drizzle of raspberry, actually.  Decadent and beautiful.

This year, with Bryan in his own apartment, decorating the tree had no awkward moments.  He did not complain about the size (too big!) or the location (why do you have to put it there?) or the ornaments (why do you have so many?) or the needles (why even bother if it's just going to die?).  He did not complain about our listening to Christmas carols (don't they get on your nerves?) and he did not complain about how long it took.  Katherine and I had a grand time doing it, and it was absolutely stress free.  I was a bit worried about how I'd do it without another adult to help (we like trees that touch the ceiling!), but somehow, we managed.  She climbed on my shoulders to place the angel on top, and it was magical.  (It involved a lot of giggling.  We both felt like we were going to topple, and somehow that was hysterical.  The angel is a little crooked, but I love her all the more for it.)

This year, I can buy my own gifts for people with my own money.  I don't need to negotiate with him, and I don't need to see him buying himself things he doesn't need and telling me that there is no money for our nieces and nephews.

This year, there is a beautiful picture of Katherine and I, taken by a friend, that goes on our holiday card.  It is beautiful, the best photo we've ever had together, and it makes me happy just to see it.  We will sign them together, and it feels natural and wonderful.

To say I'm relieved by my divorce isn't putting it lightly - my life is a thousand times better this year than it was last year.

But I haven't forgotten that it's not all about me, and that Katherine's feelings matter more than ever, and that she likely still longs for her intact nuclear family, not the two-residences version.  And I haven't forgotten my vow to make her life as great as I can.

So, when Katherine said, "Mama, can Daddy spend the night on Christmas Eve?" I only verifed that she meant in the guest room, and then when she said "yes" I smiled and said "Of course!  Let's invite him."  I reached out to Bryan, explained that it was important to our daughter to have both of her parents there for breakfast and presents, and he accepted the invitation.

I was pleased as can be.  THIS is the divorce I hoped for, where we set aside our differences and come together for our beautiful child.

I was pleased for a few hours before I thought "OH NO!  HE'S GOING TO SPEND THE NIGHT IN MY HOUSE!"  For a moment, I thought "I can't do this!  No, no, no!"  But I can, and I will.  One night out of 365 is not such a big deal, and if it brings joy to our daughter, then so be it.

I will have to serve him breakfast.  And clean it up.  He will not offer to help, and if I offer sausage he'll say, "What?  No bacon?" and he may criticize my variety of coffee (strong and dark).  He will either inform me that I bought way too many presents for Katherine, or not enough.  He will belch and not say "excuse me."  He will not acknowledge my hospitality, and he will not thank me for including him.

It is what it is.  He has not changed because we are getting divorced; sometimes he's even worse.

But it doesn't matter.  I can set it aside for Christmas, and I can ignore his bad behavior.  What my daughter will witness is her mom making every effort to give her a great holiday.  Katherine will see me being pleasant and kind and compassionate.  I will not rise to his bait, and I will not snap at him.  (What I think is another matter, but as long as it doesn't come out, no problem!)

Katherine gets both of her parents at the holiday table, and I get the peace of knowing that I'm doing a good thing.

I also get the peace of knowing it's only one night a year, and that counts for a lot!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Two posts in one day....that's been a while!

I do not often feel lonely these days.  Maybe it's because I'm too busy to feel lonely - when would I carve out time for loneliness?  Or maybe it's because I'm so often surrounded by people, rarely alone at work, busy with Katherine at home, busy with Katherine's social commitments, squeezing in a couple of my own social engagements here and there.

Usually, it's because I simply don't feel lonely.  I have cultivated friendships that are rich and full, and I work hard at them.  I have beliefs, passions, hobbies that keep me from loneliness.  There are invitations given and received, and too often I can't join because of scheduling but the invitations still give me comfort.

But in the past twenty-four hours, I've felt lonely.

First, the fall.  And coming home to laundry, a child needing tending, a dog anxious to walk, a naughty cat (she is definitely receiving coal this year)....and hurting deeply, bloody hands, a throbbing arm, and nobody to care for me.  In this case, I knew that I could NOT do it all, that I had no choice....and it was lonely.  I didn't feel powerful and strong and capable, I felt small and hurting.  Lonely.  Deeply wishing that someone would hold me and tell me that it was okay and take care of me....but nobody showed up.

Then, today at the hospital.  The rush of feeling lonely that came back to me, remembering my treatment there and how I often did it alone, how Bryan would be particularly snappish with me, pointing out that it was hard on him.  I always felt that somehow I was putting him out having to drive me to and from surgeries or appointments (when I often couldn't drive because of the drugs they'd give me); he was cold to me and made it clear that he did not enjoy my company and that I should be thankful he showed up.  (He did that by refusing to talk to me, by not listening to the instructions the doctors gave, by snapping at me if I made requests.)

Being in the hospital made me remember the loneliness of my marriage.  It made me feel lonely today, too, because I watched a man fight his anxiety - the woman he loved on a surgical table, him waiting, powerless - and I watched the relief in his eyes, the return of the light in his eyes, when the doctor came to tell him that all was well; this made me feel lonely because I don't have someone like that in my life.  My jealousy (which was mixed with admiration for him, and joy for my friend) was brought about by my loneliness, my comparison of their experience to my own.

And it appears that loneliness is a hole in the dike, because the little crack that came through caused a big flood of feelings.

I haven't felt lonely at all in my divorce until now.  I've been sort of proud of it, not grasping at men to keep me afloat, doing it on my own, making my own life. But today that started to feel hollow.

I am lonely. I hope the feeling goes away, but today, I'm lonely.  This is a hole no girlfriend can fill.  The hard truth is that at the end fo teh day, when I'm worn out and tired and still hurting from the lymphedema and my fall, there is no one to bring me a cup of tea, to wrap his arm around me, to say "let me take care of the dishes."  There is no-one to whisper "tell me what you are thinking" or to bring me silly jokes to make me smile.  There is no shared warmth under a quilt, and there is nobody to say "Wow I'm proud of the life you're making for yourself."

Mostly, I dream of higher relationships, bringing out the best in one another, creating something grand.  But today, hurting, I wish there was someone who didn't mind that I just want to curl up in my flannel PJs with snowflakes on them, and have someone say "let me take care of you."  Not very feminist of me, not very enlightened, not very creative.  But today, it's the truth.

Hoping that as the pain goes away, the loneliness does, too.  I like feeling strong and powerful much more than I like feeling lonely.


It seems to come in waves.

The current wave:  A dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a lymphedema flare up due to overexercising.  The cat is peeing where she is not supposed to because I changed her litter.  (This morning I woke up, went to the bathroom....and saw my cat peeing in the sink.  Ugh.)  My daughter cried her eyes out last night because she got a small (very small - sigh) part in the school play that she hoped for a big part in.  Work is crazy busy.  My ex is usually unavailable, and....well, he deserves its own post here.  (An unflattering one.  I'm trying to hold back, though.)

But last night, as I left a parent meeting at school, rushing to get home so I could stop accuring the babysitter's bill, my heel stuck in an uneven part of the sidewalk and faster than it seemed possible I found myself crashing to the ground.


I fell on my knee - which scraped.  I fell on my right hand, which got gravel embedded into it and a mark that looks ridiculously like a stigmata on my palm.

But I also landed hard on my lef shoulder, and scraped a deep cut and smaller abrasions on my palm.  Which is a problem, because that is the lymphedema side.  So now my arm is in such pain that reaching for a coffee cup made me cry this morning.

That is a new kind of ouch.  A deeply painful one that is making it next to impossible to think (or work, or parent, or cook).  I have to wear a compression glove and sleeve (oh, I know, so sexy) to prevent my arm swelling to football size.


And I spent the afternoon at the hospital as my friend had a part of her breast removed.


And I remembered being at the same hospital.  15 times for surgery.  My breasts resemble Frankenstein, and being in that building reminded me how I got there.  Watching her husband sit in the waiting room, an extra hour, squirming, hurting for his wife, made me hurt, too.  I hurt for him, for her, and for myself, remembering how lonley I felt through treatment.


It's been a hurting day.  I left work early to be with my friend at the hospital, and to come home to sulk.

But I got one little gift.

As I was leaving the hospital, down in the lobby there was a group of very pregnant women, all taking the same hospital tour I took ten years ago.  I had a rush of memories, of being pregnant, of entering that hospital a pregnant woman, and of entering as a mother, my beautiful daughter in my arms.

From great pain can come great joy.  Childbirth - ouch.  Motherhood - brilliantly beautiful.  Lymphedema?  Ouch.  Still looking for something beautiful.

But my friend might be okay - clean margins, looks like clean nodes.  Now that is beautiful.


Good thoughts and prayers still appreciated.  I'm in real pain, can't lift my arm.  I need PT and can't take the time.  Thanks for your good wishes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Burning the candle at both ends made me crabby.

But it's 10am, and I'm still in my (Christmas) PJs.  Katherine is just starting to stir in her bed.  Sure, I've done a load of laundry and put away things left in the sink last night, but I'm also on my third cup of coffee and I spent a half hour on the phone talking to one of my best friends.


It is amazing how a bit of rest can change one's perspective.


Today's agenda includes getting, and setting up, our Christmas tree, just Katherine and I.  Though I'm a bit worried about my ability to do it without adult help, I think that Katherine is just old enough to be of some real assistance, and it will be just fine.  We will have hot apple cider, we will play carols (my favorite Christmas album is Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan; this year I also purchased the James Taylor Christmas CD; and no Christmas is complete without some Charlie Brown Christmas and some rat pack Christmas songs).  We will chide our crazy kitten (who is over a year old now but rather energetic) that trees are not for climbing, and we will keep the more delicate ornaments up high and out of her reach.

We will get the biggest Frasier fir in our budget.  If the angel on top touches the (nine foot) ceiling that's just perfect.

And then tonight, some friends are coming over, and we're walking to the beach a mile from my house, where we will watch the Christmas Ships.  The ships will be all lit up, and they play Christmas carols, and those of us on the beach will sing along - it's a northwest tradition.  Then, we'll walk back to my place, open some wine, and order Thai food.  (My Martha Stewart self is horrified - no winter traditional stew, or maybe a lasagna?  But my working-mama self is delighted not to spend the day shopping and then cooking.)  Tonight Katherine will watch Charlie Brown Christmas with her friends, while my friends and I listen to Diana Krall crooning Christmas songs while we drink wine by candle and Christmas-tree light.


I have no anxiety about this, none at all.  I used to feel anxious about events like this, because the walk made Bryan crabby, because he thought the tree was too much of a hassle, because Bryan's bad mood would rub off on the guests, because I never understood how something so lovely as setting up a Christmas tree could be cause for anger and snappishness.  Sure, it will be cold on the beach, but that is what sweaters and down coats and gloves and hats are for!

It is easier to be single than it was to be married to Bryan.  I am alone, but I am no longer lonely.  It will be easier to put up an eight foot tree by myself (well, with a child's help) than it was to have a "big strong man" who helped but also complained and snapped.


Today I'm counting my blessings.  I worked very hard all week, but today is a day of my choosing, and I choose to embrace the holiday season, to deck my halls, and to love every minute of it.

I've gotta run - the girl is up now, and it's time to have some fun.  Here we go!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crabby PollyAnna

No sewer floods.  No health crises.  No financial catastrophes.

But I am CRABBY today.

I'm exhausted.  And my Christmas tree isn't up, and I haven't written out my Christmas lists, let alone purchased much.  And this morning I yelled at my beautiful daughter because she was moving slower than molasses AGAIN and we were going to be late AGAIN and then I felt like complete and utter poop beacuse she's the best kid in the world, although also possibly the slowest in the morning, and it's my job to come up with creative solutions and not to just snap at her and complain that I'm sick of being late in the morning etc. etc. etc.

Deep breath.

I am relieved that it is Friday in a way that is unusual for me.  I work hard at loving my life, imperfections and all, and enjoying my job, enjoying the busy-ness, etc.  I like every day, and while I love weekends, I don't always feel the desperate need for the weekend.  I feel that level of desperation today, though.

What I want right now is to be utterly still.  To have time to think.  To sit and stare at nothingness (which, come to think of it, is what Katherine was doing this morning and I snapped at her for it....hmmm).  To simply be.

I hate it when I'm crabby.  Life is really too short to be crabby.

Slowing down my breathing.  Reminding myself that it IS, indeed, Friday, and that tonight I get to hang out with friends who will really let me be myself and want nothing more than to sip wine on their sofas.  That tomorrow I will sleep in, will not wake Katherine up before she is ready, and will have a chance to stare out the window.  That the tree will go up tomorrow, and the house will feel festive, and we will not be operating on a frantic "hurry, hurry, hurry!" schedule, the one that has been making me so crazy and crabby.

Maybe I can even blog some funny soon-to-be-ex co-parenting stories this weekend.  With a little perspective, they're funny.  (I may not quite have perspective yet, but I'm working on it.  This was an interesting week between the two of us.  I didn't kill him, yell at him, or otherwise go crazy, but if I had, I don't think you would have blamed me.)

Happy Friday, everyone. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whatever it takes...

I continue to wake up at 4:45am to work out from 5-6am, in the hopes that I will find myself filled with energy throughout the day as a result.

But let's be honest, I'd rather look like this:
 or this:
or this (but brunette):

than like this:

So, that's got something to do with it.

But today it occurred to me that spring is really just around the corner, and with it, I intend to get out into the dating world.

When I walk into the restaurant/bar/coffee shop to meet someone for the first time, I want to have a spring in my step that can only come with confidence.  I want to wonder what I will think of him, rather than wondering what he will think of his first impression of me.  I want to feel good (cue Nina Simone).

But to take it one step farther...

One day, I'm going to have sex again.  (Oh dear God I hope so, anyway.)  And that, my friends, is incentive for me to get up at 4:45am to have a woman in yoga pants torture me, or to head out in pouring rain with my dog.

It's hard enough to be a single mom on the dating scene - when will I have time for a coffee, let alone tangling the sheets?  It's hard enough to be facing first time sex (e.g. not with someone who has known me, and my body, for years) when I'm in my forties.  It's pretty complicated because I've had double mastectomies and reconstruction, and I'm going to have to be sassy and sexy despite scars and silicone.  I can at least make sure things aren't jiggly, that I feel strong.

Whatever it takes.  I'd love to say it's all about health and energy and feeling great, but let's be honest.  The idea of getting naked in front of a man is a very good incentive to whip my butt into shape.   And if that is incentive at that ridiculous hour of the morning, I will take it!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thriving and Exhaustion

Okay, dear readers, I need some help.

With some crises firmly behind me, I'm working hard at thriving.  I'm trying to live my best life, fully aware as I am that I only get one life, and that there is only the present.  "Tomorrow" is not time to be happy, or to get things done.  Today is the only day.

So, with that in mind, I'm exercising again, hoping that it will give me an extra boost.  I'm getting up at 4:45am most days in order to exercise from 5am-6am, because there really isn't any other time of the day except bedtime, and by then my motivation is shot AND I really want to wind down, not amp up.  From 6am to 9pm, my minutes are booked with mothering and working and basics like making dinner, so 5am it is.

I feel great.  And I feel awful.  It hurts to laugh, which makes me laugh.  I'm pleased that I've made the commitment, and that I'm following through.  I roped two girlfriends into joining me - which wasn't difficult, because I said "here's what I plan to do" and they asked if they could join me - so in the morning when I'm lying in bed hearing the alarm, there's no chance that I will turn it off and go back to sleep, because they show up at my house 15 minutes after the alarm goes off.  We either work out in my basement or go for walks around the neighborhood; I don't feel comfortable driving to the gym because that would mean leaving Katherine alone in the house.  (For some reason I am okay with the walks around the neighborhood, because I'm closer and on foot...  Katherine knows when I'm doing a walk, and I always have my phone with me, and she's fine with she's sound asleep at the time.  She's nearly 10 and very responsible, but I still only feel kind-of okay with it.  In any case, I've decided that I must make peace with it, or never work out, and since I really want to be my best self, I must move this body of mine.)

But here is the dilemma.

My day is now booked from 4:45am to 9pm when Katherine has lights out and I fall into my own bed and am asleep the second my eyes close.  That would be fine, except that I don't know when I have time to do the deep living that I desire so much.  When can I write?  When can I sit on the sofa holding a hot mug of tea and staring at the trees outside?  When can I go to a play, a movie, or dinner with a friend?  When can I deliver a meal to a sick friend?  When can I put up the Christmas tree, go holiday shopping, or create holiday cards and send them?

I do not want to hear that I just have to let it all go.  It is all well and fine to work out, get homework done, eat decently, and pay the bills with my job, but I want, deserve, and NEED more.

How on earth will I date with a schedule like this?  My divorce is final in mid-January, and by spring I'd like to put myself out there, meet some interesting people, have some adult conversation (ranging from politics and art to the other kind of "adult" conversation, eventually), and take some steps towards meeting someone that I could spend the rest of my life with.  But how can I fit it in?  By 9pm I just want to sleep!

Last night I saw the movie "Lincoln" - a beautiful film that had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, hoping and hurting when it looked grim, even though I knew the outcome.  (Slavery is ended in American forever - hurrah!  Lincoln is shot, nooooo!)  It was something I'd been hearing people rave about, and I was excited to go, and to spend time with an old friend.  But the problem is that it's a two and a half hour film, so I didn't get home until close to midnight, and so today I feel like I have the flu and I just ran a marathon and my head doesn't work properly and I feel clumsy and out of sorts....and I'm at work today (and blogging here, but not feeling too guilty because I'm salaried and putting in extra time) because I'm trying to catch up since Katherine is at her dad's and this is our busy season.

It shouldn't make me feel like this to simply push myself to go to a movie and sit in a chair staring at a screen.  It really shouldn't.

So, dear readers, please tell me how you do it.  Encourage me, please.  Is this feeling because I'm just waiting for the exercise high to kick in, and it's still too new and my body hasn't adjusted?  I am not the only single working mom who exercises, and surely the others out there find time for girlfriends and dates and movies.... sometimes?  I have a ton of creative energy right now, ideas flying through my head left and right, but I honestly do not know when to sit down for long enough to sort them out.  Where is the "living" time, where I get to thrive and pursue dreams, and not just make it from day to day with relatively clean laundry?

Suggestions?  Ideas?  Encouragement?  I refuse to merely survive.  I just refuse it.  I intend to thrive, all the way.  I know if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and the world would be a different place.  But I am convinced I can do better, that I can keep tweaking my life to give it the shape I dream of.

Advice?  Ideas?  I can't wait to hear from you!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Climbing the Pyramid

Maslow's, that is.

I have been fighting so hard for the basics for so long - fear over health, employment, losing the house, and the rest, that I have really been struggling.

Last weekend in my yoga retreat, the facilitator of the "dreams workshop" portion of events reminded us, through pictures and exercises and discussions, that it wasn't until we gave ourselves some nurturing that we could live up to our potential, creatively and purposefully.  I've thought about his words quite a bit in the last week or so, and realized that the timing for that workshop could not have been more perfect, because I have just broken free from the "safety and security" level of the pyramid, and shot up towards the top.

No wonder I feel giddy.

I was really prepared to sell my home - and Katherine's sense of home - if I couldn't get the refi.  And I've still not entirely adjusted to my new job and the belief of its security.  It's hard to move from cancer patient to post-cancer-life.  And I've been terrified of all that my life has done to my daughter, and of course there's DIVORCE, and all the rest.

But you know what?  The divorce has turned a corner: we've completed paperwork, and it's fine.  Our daughter is happy and secure.  I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my inlaws (affectionately refered to as my exlaws), giving and receiving hugs, basting turkey, watching a movie, and feeling quite settled.  Bryan was there too, and the name cards at the table had us seated as a family, with Katherine between us.

And it was fine.  And fun!  I didn't feel angry, I didn't feel bitter, I felt.....fine.  Amazingly fine.  I know that our "family" time is good for our daughter, and I also know that at the end of the night I go home alone, and both of those things are such a huge relief.  I know that his behavior is not a reflection of who I am, and I don't need to cover it up or feel bad about it.  I don't expect him to be thoughtful, and when he's not, it's fine, because I'm not relying on him.

And my beautiful kitchen is just inches away from completion, and I feel so happy about my marble backsplash that I'm sure I've lost my mind, but I don't care.  Gazing at my giant double sink and pretty faucet, I could cry tears of gratitude.  My home isn't moldy, it's lovely, and it feels not only safe, but also pretty.

And my job is going great.  How amazing is that?  Nine years out of the workforce, and I have actually pulled this off, and I love where I work and it pays the bills and I feel incredibly blessed.

So, up the pyramid I go.


I have hired a personal trainer to come to my house once a week for six weeks at five in the morning.  Yes, five.  I know better than anybody how important health is, and I'm ready to seize mine.  I'm height weight proportionate, but I'm squishy and lethargic, and I'm ready for a burst of energy.  The idea is that the trainer will get me moving, and give me homework for the rest of the week.  I'm still frugal (I roped a friend into this with me, so we split the costs, which actually weren't too bad, surprisingly) and I know that spending the money will get me moving the rest of the week, too.

And I signed up for the Breast Cancer 3-Day next summer.  I'm ready to work on changing the world, and this cause means a great deal to me.   (How on earth can I raise $2400?  We will find out!  I've done it before, I can do it again.)  And I'm running the giving tree for my church - Katherine and friends helped me to set up the tree today and cover it with tags, and we hope to get gifts for 150 or more children again this year.

Charity work makes me feel alive.

And I'm committed to writing, and editing.  Still working on it, but I know I can do it.

And I'm still planning on Paris next summer.

And today I took the dog for a walk near the beach, and the sun sparkling on the water just made me gasp with how beautiful it was.

If I can do it, anybody can.  I started from a pretty low place, and I feel so incredibly alive and hopeful right now.  If I can do it, you can.  If you are in an ugly marriage with no hope of improvement, please, do what it takes to save yourself.  I have to tell you, I haven't felt this good in years, and you deserve to feel that way, too.

Need further convincing?

My daughter is doing better than she has in years, too.  No, she's not thrilled at the divorce, and nor do I expect her to be.  But she's doing academically well, getting along great with both parents, and by every definition is well adjusted.  She's in the other room right now making Christmas cards, occassionally calling out "how do you spell.....?" and singing along with Christmas carols on the radio.  At dinner tonight, she was so animated, talking to me of this and that, that her beauty caught in my throat.  She is happy, and she is well.  I never dreamed how she would blossom in the divorce, doing even better than before.

Self actualiztion?  Sure, why not.  It's a good goal.  I'm going to aim high.  And I'm going to lead the way for my daughter, teaching her that living down in the "seeking safety" part of the pyramid is no way to live, and that we both deserve better.


I do not feel like I need a man to be complete.  I feel pretty darned happy.

But I also feel like this new version of myself, the one I'm doing JUST FOR MYSELF, is going to draw the kind of man I'd like to spend time with.

I don't know if my sailboat dreams will come true, but they might.  Right now, I'm working on my life with Katherine, making sure I'm living up to my potential, not relying on a man to furnish my happiness.  I'm very content to be alone right now, because I know it's giving me space to work on myself, and because I'm enjoying that process so immensely, and I don't want to lose my focus before it's entirely internalized.

But I think that handsome, kind, joyful, spiritual, together man, the one I dream of, is out there, and when I meet him I won't be all filled with self-doubts about my own ability to match him, to be worth his love.  I will bring my best self to the table, and he will see it for what it is, and he will love it, and me.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?  Stay tuned.  I think it's getting closer, even though I haven't had a date in months, and those were rather simple and exploratory and disasterous.  :-)  I'll know when the time is right, and I look forward to that.

But now?  Work.  Katherine.  And Christmas.  And climbing the pyramid, excited to see the view from the top.  I don't know how much farther it is to the top, but I know I'll get there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I can't quite explain it, but I'm feeling positively giddy right now.

I'm on that beach, not drowned, and it feels better than I thought possible.  I wake up and do a little check each morning - cancer? no.  drowning in debt? no.  in a terrible relationship? no.  Katherine doing well? yes.  job? fantastic. major crisis? none.

And then my eyes fly open and I pretty much start giggling.  I am overflowing with hope and optimism, and I can hardly believe that I'm in this place right now.

At parent-teacher conferences last week (Bryan and I went together - so glad we can get it together enough for that!) I waited to hear anything of concern, and there was nothing.  It turns out that Katherine is a horrible speller (the subject of an earlier teacher call that induced momentary panic about dyslexia), but that she is doing great with everything else academically.  Hey, if she needs to be a rotten speller, so be it, I can live with that!  And again, we heard how she was kind, social, attententive, a pleasure to have in class.  And those magical words, "She's a really happy kid."  And "You have nothing to worry about."

How could I not be giddy?  Katherine is well!  She's really, truly well!

Last weekend I did a yoga retreat with a workshop about crafting one's life, and it reminded me of who I am and who I wish to be.  I immediately signed up for a personal trainer with a friend, and felt giddy that I could afford it (and wise because she is going to come to my house at 5am once a week; this means that I don't have to leave Katherine alone; the rest of the time I'll work out on my own; the shared costs make it affordable).  And I signed up for the Breast Cancer 3-Day for next year; it's time to move my body more and it's time to end the disease that tried to kill me and might one day go after my daughter.

And I'm leading the giving tree at church - last year we were able to provide toys for a couple hundred foster children, and we also gave a very nice check to the foster child organization, and this year we're doing it again.  This Sunday I'll set up the tree, hang the tags, and try to inspire a couple hundred people to give.

THIS is the life I'm meant to live.  Healthy in body and soul, giving back to the world.  Appreciating my good fortune, enjoying every second of it that I can.  My cozy house, my incredible, beautiful, amazing daughter; my loving dog and my crazy but sweet (and healthy again) cat.  The girlfriends who absolutely get me, who don't mind if I'm a mess and celebrate with me when I'm happy.

And able to pay my bills with a smidge left over.  How is that even possible?  And the fact that I found a job that I enjoy that also provides flexibility - how did that happen?

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.  Wow.  Thank you.

The other day on the bus there was a street prophet - a man who appeared homeless and perhaps mentally ill.  He was speaking loudly, but under his matted hair and dirty clothes there wasn't anger, but joy.  He called out to everyone "It's going to be a great year.  Things are looking better!  2013 is going to be wonderful!  It really is!  Things are picking up, and it's going to be great!" 

If he can feel that kind of joy, why can't I?  Well, I can.  And I do.  And he reminded me of how easy my life is, despite how hard it has been sometimes.

There will be hard times again - they come and they go, and they will come again.

But this Thanksgiving, as I sit down at a table with more than a dozen of my soon-to-be-ex relatives, including Bryan, I have a heart full of joy.  I can afford to be kind to him because I am filled with hope for the future, and because in this very minute, I am not drowning, I'm soaking up the sunshine, even though it's raining outside.

Giddy with gratitude.  ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouWow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Recently I had the opportunity to see Anne Lamott and listen to her give a presentation about her latest book, "Help Thanks Wow" (her shorthand for the only three prayers in the world).

This is my "wow" post.

It has been a particularly chaotic time, and these last few months I have felt increasingly frazzled.  There have been moments that were so painfully exhausting that I really didn't know how I'd make it to the end of the day, let alone to a place of wow.

Here it is: Wow.

Last week, I completed divorce mediation: there were no surprises, except that it went surprisingly well.  All paperwork is complete, and now all that remains is to go before the judge in January.  And my kitchen is nearly complete, too, and is just so beautifully functional and clean, and dare I say it, even pretty.

And then, today, I was able to attend a yoga retreat and workshop hosted by a friend in honor of her own birthday.  She brought in a facilitator, and he coached us through a process to identify our dreams.

The timing could not have been better.  I have been so incredibly fearful of drowning in the struggles of my own life that I have barely held on some weeks; I've been uncertain where the shore is, only knowing that I must keep swimming or I'd drown.

Today, I hit shore sooner than I'd expected.  In the yoga stretches, I found myself opening up.  I found myself whispering thae prayer 'wow' that is only a step away from 'thanks.'  Actually, the thank you prayer came out of me, too.  Thankyouthankyouthankyou.  I can stretch my body, and it is strong and capable, despite all that it has been through.  I have strength to swim against the waves in the storm.

I think I've made it.  Is that even possible?  Is it possible that today is the day that I can say "I am healthy and strong and I have survived this storm"?

I just moved up Maslow's heirarchy.  I'm moving out of survival mode - I no longer fear for my basic safety.  I have enough to pay my mortgage and buy groceries and have health insurance.  I have worked hard to move toward divorce, to reclaim my name and my life.  I have fixed my broken home.  I don't walk on eggshells these days.  I love that.

Now, I'm ready to work on dreams, not survival.

I need to get ready to travel.  To move my income upwards so that I can have freedom.  I want to ski.  I want to attend theater and concerts.  I want to take relaxing weekends in little country towns.  I want to explore big cities.  I want to hike to waterfalls and viewpoints and alpine lakes.

I want to give Katherine peace and love and joy for the remainder of her childhood.  She has had enough pain.

I want to write.

And I want to fall in love with a man who loves me back.

I believe it's time to start working on those things. 


Tonight, I'm just soaking it up.  I'm flopping down in the sand, feeling the sun on my face.

I didn't drown.


I still have a lot of work ahead of me to craft the life I crave....but it sounds a lot more fun to work towards my dreams than to merely stay afloat!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nest Struggles

I am a bird who really needs her nest.  Even in college, when other girls were bunking together in impossibly small spaces, I needed my own little room, my very own, filled with bookshelves and quiet space.  As I have aged, this has become more and more the case.

I think it has to do with being a bit of an introvert.  I've spent most of my life posing as an extrovert, but the older I get, the more introverted I become.  Anyway, I need that quiet space, and I especially need it when my life is chaotic.

Well, my life is chaotic: the divorce proceedings are taking up far too much of my time, and work is busy, and I still haven't totally adjusted to this single working mom thing.  And this week I spent two partial days at the courthouse, taking court mandated classes.  (The parenting class was actually four hours, and more interesting than I thought it would be.  It said exactly what I thought it would, and I didn't learn anything new, but the presenter was good, and that helped.)

And then there's house repairs.

I am in the middle of what I call my mini-kitchen-remodel.  This is not a big dream remodel - this is done out of necessity and with the slimmest of budgets, but I'm hoping that by keeping an all white pallette (counters, cabinets, backsplash) it will look clean, crisp, and maybe a tiny bit chic.  There was mold under the sink, and it just had to go: it wasn't healthy, and that made the kitchen my number one priority for house repairs.  I kept the upper cupboards (which though old, are perfectly fine), and tore out the bottom half of my kitchen, including part of the floor tiles.  As remodels go, this one is tiny: no walls moving, no major layout changes, no upper cabinets.   I've gone the IKEA route, cheap all the way, but upgraded a bit on the backsplash, sink, and faucet.  (Have you seen the prices of faucets?  It's insane!  A curved tube with a handle is hundreds of dollars - yeesh.)

And my sidewalk - the one the neighbors complained about - is under repair now, and my garage door got fixed today to the tune of about $600.  Oh, and did I mention that our cat got sick, and this lead to a $600 vet bill?  And on top of the vet bill, the cat has been urinating blood all over my house, until we locked her in the bathroom (so now it's only in the bathroom).  (I love our kitty - she's a sweet girl, and a lot of comfort to Katherine.  She's worth it.  We're giving her antibiotics and pain meds, and she's diagnosed with cystitis and crystals in her urine, so she's now on a specialized cat food.)

Kitchen cabinets in the living room, countertops against the bedroom wall, my cupboard contents in piles in the basement, a kitchen that is unusable, a bathroom filled with a sick cat.  We're eating out every meal or eating cereal in paper bowls.

It's chaos.

And I'm venting.

The bills are making me sleepless - literally.  The refi money will only stretch so much, and I'm spinning at night.

I know, breathe through it.  Keep breathing.

It's possible that my kitchen will be usable by the middle of next week (with plumbing!).  It's possible that kitty will be better by then.  It's possible that the sidewalk will be fixed.  And next weekend I'm doing a half day yoga retreat, adn though my body is tight from lack of use, I'm really hoping that it will wake me up and help me to feel more myself.

I want my nest back.  I want this to be done, to head into an "easy" time.  Please?

I know that I've made such huge strides, and that I'm likely being impatient.  But I really, really, really look forward to next weekend, getting my house cleaned and moving back into the kitchen, and looking forward to the living without such repairs needing to be done!

I can do this.  Right?  Deep breaths...


This is a messy post, like my messy house.  Living in chaos makes me feel chaotic - even my brain feels disorganized.  But because some sweet and kind readers have told me that reading my struggles and successes helps them to feel more hopeful, I will end on this hopeful note:

In the past four months, I have:
- converted to full time work
- refinanced my house ON MY OWN
- hired an amazing nanny (remember, sharing her so that it's affordable)
- done most of the mediation and paperwork for my divorce
- filed for divorce
- mothered, worked
- taken the best vacation I've had in years
....and begun home repairs that make my house not only more pleasant but also more functional

I know I'm rocking it.  I'm prouder of myself than I've ever been.  But don't mind me if I get grumpy sometimes, and completely lose my mind, like I am today.  I am human, and I'm allowed to be human.  I'm tired, and I'm ready for a break.  But I've come a long way, and I haven't forgotten that.

Upward and onward.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ohhhh..... A-ha!

I have not written about my parents on this blog yet....but today something has come up, and so they receive their debut.

I love my parents, and they love me.  But it has been difficult to reach peace in my relationship with them: my childhood was filled with name calling ("moron" and "cretin" were among the most used, and it didn't matter how many As I got in school, whenever I made a mistake the names were trotted out like ugly ponies), slaps, and what I now recognize as inconsistant parenting: the same action on my part could receive very different responses one day to the next, based on my parents' moods.  What might merit a laugh one week would merit a slap on the next, and I never quite knew how to judge which it would be.

It wasn't all bad.  We had fun together camping and boating and such, and they didn't phyically abuse me (though slapping and spanking is NOT a parenting technique I'd recommend, and I don't hit my daughter, ever).  They told me that they had high standards for me because they knew how capable I was.  They told me they loved me.

When it was time for college, they informed me that there was no money to give me, and then they took a trip overseas.  When it was time for my brother to go to college, they offered to pay his whole way.  (Ironically, I worked my way through school, graduating with multiple higher ed degrees and no debt and no help, and my brother never finished community college.)  For my 16th birthday, I got a tote bag with a built in umbrella.  For my brother's 16th birthday, he got a car.  (I could not make this up.  I can still picture that ugly tote bag.)

Writing it all down makes my stomach hurt.  When I would point out the inequalities my parents would mumble that they loved me very much and tell me not to be so sensitive.  When I told them that I hated them calling me names, they told me that I was "persnickety" and that I wasn't happy unless I got my own way and couldn't I take a joke?

Eventually, I proved the persnickety thing right.  I spent most of my twenties avoiding my parents.  In hindsight, I also spent most of my twenties proving to them that I was smart, capable, and worthy.  I got a degree in the subject they respected, and worked in a field that made people say "wow" and "you lucky girl" even though it wasn't really my thing. 

I tried to live my life opposite from them - my more-than-I-needed degrees were at least a partial response to the fact that my mother never went to college; waiting until I was almost 30 to get married was a response to the fact that they got married when my mother was still a teenager.  (My parents called me an old maid.  Seriously.)

I like to believe that I have set aside my anger with my parents for some of their behaviors, for their inability to parent me the way I wanted or needed to be parented.  Forgiveness is sweeter than anger, and I have tried to drink sweetness.  I thought I had gotten so, so far from those roots that I was no longer influenced by them, and my path had proven that.

Which leads to my latest telephone conversation with my father.

My house is in a state of disrepair, all that deferred maintenance, and my refi money is only going to go so far.  My dad called me - a nice phone call, at least at the outset - to check on me and see how I was doing.  I said, "Well, sometimes it's a struggle, because I can't do everything I need to do."  My dad said, "If there is anything I can do to help you, please ask," and I said, "Have you ever installed a garage door opener?  Mine broke and I'd have to pay an installer several hundred dollars to replace it, on top of the cost of the new equipment."  My dad said, "Yes, I gave one to your brother and installed it."  I said, "Could you help me install mine?" and he said, "You know, I'm pretty busy."


For one of the first times in my adult life, I did not just say "Okay."  I said, "Dad, it hurts my feelings when you say you want to help me and then when I ask for help you just repeatedly" (this was not the first time we've had a similar conversation) "shut me down.  If you don't want to help me, please don't offer and then say no, just be up front about it and don't offer help when you don't mean to follow through."

He said, "What?  When did I ever do that?" and I rattled off a couple of recent times.  He said...

....and here's the clincher, folks, so please pay attention....

"Oh!  I guess my words and actions don't line up, and I'm sorry for that.  My heart is in the right place, you must know that!"

Let's repeat that.  "My words and actions don't line up."  Yes.  That is the definition of my childhood, of the home I grew up in.  And as I thought I was running away from my family of origin, choosing a man so different from them in so many ways.....I chose a person whose words and actions did not line up.  And then the breezy "My heart is in the right place," as if that makes it all okay, as if it didn't matter what he said or did at all and I should be thankful that he thought about helping me at all even if he had no intention of following through.

A giant, rude, sudden a-ha! moment.

Bryan knew how to say the right thing in a pinch, but then when I asked him to follow through he would get angry and tell me I wasn't being reasonable or that there was no pleasing me.  I think that sounds a lot like "persnickety" talk.  I would try harder and harder to please him, and he would tell me that he loved me and he wanted our lives to be great, and then he would continue doing whatever he wanted even though we'd agreed on a different path, and then he'd actually be mad at me for pointing out the discrepency, and then I'd feel bad about myself because maybe I was just a persnickety brat after all.

Damn.  That is a giant load of baggage right there!

In love, words and actions need to line up.  Actually, not just in love, but in life.  Integrity means saying what you mean, and acting on it.  If you offer help, you mean it sincerely.  If you say "I love you" you can't call names or yell.  I am very, very clear about this, but I hadn't realized that I was choosing men who didn't live by that credo (Bryan was not the first).  I hadn't realized how deeply my family of origin was in my bones, that all my running away hadn't gotten me that far after all.

I had been running around trying to please Bryan, trying to make him love me, the exact same way that I tried to please my parents, being who I thought they wanted me to be.  Oh good grief!

It has taken me 43 years to realize that this is my problem, and it's all summed up in that little conversation with my father.  I have chosen to be around men whose words and actions did not align, because that is how I was raised.


I am not the little girl who was informed I was bright and capable one minute, and belittled the next, so that I never know how to feel...I am a woman who knows her own value much more than that little girl did.  I am strong and smart and kind, and I've proven it many times.  I do not take my self worth from my father, or from Bryan, and I get to choose who I spend time with.  I am allowed to have boundaries.

I feel very, very good about calling my father on it.  I wasn't rude, I didn't start a fight, but I said, "No."  I will probably have to repeat myself many more times, because I don't think my father is particularly enlightened.  But it's not about my dad, it's about me.  It's about how I view myself in relationships to others, and it's about making sure that the men I invite in have words and actions that align.

I feel like someone just opened the door to the jail, and I've stepped into a pool of sunlight, blinking.

I choose to be around people whose words and actions align.  Period.  If they screw up, I'm allowed to say, "That's not okay with me" and stand my ground.  I don't have to be rude, I don't have to fight, but I don't have to go along with it either.

And I can't be sure, because the proof is in the living that is to come, but I do believe I've just learned a very good lesson, maybe even THE lesson for me.  Free at last! 

A quiet place

This weekend Katherine and I went out of town to the mountains.  We've desperately needed a little break in the chaos of our lives.

I found a cheap hotel - but it's clean and it's got a pool, and it allows dogs so I didn't need to get a dog sitter (or break the poor dog's heart).

I feel my shoulders coming down; I can catch my breath. 


My father in law passed away this morning.  He left nearly a dozen grandchildren and a handful of great grandchildren.  I was on good terms with him despite the divorce, although I'm not sure how much he remembered or understood at the end.  Bryan is going to struggle with losing his dad; I think there was unfinished business there.


I am grateful today for this quiet place.

(Written on 11/3, didn't post then  for some reason.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surviving versus Thriving

My refinance is complete, and my bank account reflects that.

I can not tell you what a relief this is!  My house repairs will happen, my financial picture is rosier, and I have room to breathe once again.  Maybe I can actually get some real sleep, all the way through the night, from the relief. 

I have been surviving lately, just trying not to drown.  I suppose that this was inevitable for part of the process - nobody ever says "my divorce was so pain free!" and there is good reason for that.  But still, merely surviving is not my style.  I have not worked this hard to be alive only to "survive" - I want to thrive.  I want to suck the marrow from life, I want to kneel in the grass in awe and wonder, and I want to carry the all the joy that life holds with me at all times.

I have high standards, clearly.  And I have had many people tell me that my standards are impossibly high, and then when I'm having a bad day, or week, or month, they tell me that my standards are making me miserable and that I ought to lower them like a normal person.

But I don't want to be normal.

I want an extraordinary life, and I am not settling for mere survival.  I am going to keep fighting to find the joys in my life.  The other day I stopped to smell a rose - a beautiful yellow one with a deep, old fashioned scent - that had not yet had frost, and the old cliche' came to me, and it reminded me that so few people actually stop to inhale fragrance in that way.  For fifteen or twenty seconds, I closed my eyes and breathed in its perfume, and it made me smile deeply, and it made me remember that there is beauty and joy in the world....but that you have to stop to find it.  How many times had I walked by that same rose without truly drinking it in?  How many people will actually stop for it - so beautiful and unexpected in the fall leaves?  I intend to be one of those who stops, and not just once.

The same people who tell me that my standards are too high, that life is full of challenges and that I can't possibly feel the joy I'm seeking, are the same ones who ask me "how do you do it?" and wonder aloud how come I'm so much happier than they are.

Here's the secret, the one they can't get.

I'm happier than they are because I decided to be.

I prioritize joy.  I refuse to give up on it.  When I'm in the dark, black hole of despair - we all get there sometimes - I don't stop seeking joy, even though I sometimes feel like I'm blindfolded in a snowstorm with no sense of home.  I just refuse to stop looking for happiness.....and that means that I find it.  I believe in it, so I just keep going.  It seems clear to me that though we all know that life has no guarantees, it pretty much guarantees that you won't get where you wish to be if you stop, so I keep going.

I can not remove life's obstacles (in case you've forgotten, cancer, divorce, and money woes are all on that list).  But in spite of them, there is joy, and I'm seizing it.

This weekend while my kitchen is being torn apart for my mini-remodel (a functioning dishwasher will cause nirvana-like bliss at this point; this is especially true today because yesterday I threw a trick-or-treating party with a dinner for 15 people and I still have dishpan hands as a result), Katherine and I are taking our dog and heading to the mountains for a night.  We're staying in a cheap hotel, but it's got an indoor pool, and it's in a gorgeous area.  Maybe we'll hike a bit, maybe we'll watch movies in the room, we'll certainly splash in the pool and hot tub.  Life's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be perfect.  I am going to get as much joy from my functioning dishwasher and new sink as any of the $100,000 remodels I've seen on HGTV, and I'm going to enjoy my cheap hotel as much as if it were five stars and world class.

Maybe one day, I'll get a "real" remodel or a five star vacation.  But I'm not waiting for "one day" to be happy.  It seems that the waves have died down a bit, and I can float in them.  Bliss.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Leaps of Faith

My to do list is overwhelming me.  This weekend, while working on the do-to list and spending a large amount of time in home improvement stores - not upgrading my home, but keeping it operational - my chest squeezed so tight that it was difficult to breathe, as the zeros on the estimates kept climbing.

I came home feeling glum and overwhelmed.


I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time.  One large project (replacing basement carpet) will simply have to wait.  I will focus on the kitchen issue instead.  The basement will wait a year, and I will not die of a concrete hallway in my house where there ought to be carpet.


I have not given myself time to celebrate, yet celebrating is on order.  The refinance went through, which basically means that I just purchased my own house.  The loan is in my name only, and when the money is deposited this week, I will write Bryan the biggest check I've ever written, and he will walk away from the house, and it will all be mine.  It is extraordinary to me to think that I've been able to make this happen, and it is worthy of celebrating.

A year ago, Bryan was still living in the basement, I didn't have a job, and I didn't know how I was going to make anything work.  Now I'm deeply immersed in my job, it's going well, Bryan has moved out, AND I've purchased the house.  Not only that, but almost all of the divorce paperwork is done, and I have made that happen.

So, I've made progress.  Giant strides, as a matter of fact.  A year ago, my current life seemed only like a fantasy, and I could not imagine how to support my daughter and myself or get Bryan moved out....and yet here we are.

So, right now, in the midst of far too many looming problems including major home repairs, a budget that is always too small, and deep fatigue from the day to day of my life mothering and working, I am realizing that I need to take another leap of faith.

When I told Bryan I wanted a divorce, it was a leap of faith (because I didn't know if I could handle my life, or if I could find a job, or if Katherine and I could survive the blow).  When I picked his move out date, it was another leap of faith (because I had no idea how we would make it).  When I took a job working for a small business, it was another leap of faith (totally out of my comfort zone).  Refinancing the house was yet another leap of faith - who on earth would offer a good rate to a woman who had been out of the work force for nine years?!  (HomeStreet Bank, that's who.  The rates are amazing right now, so check it out.)

But these leaps of faith have brought me a job, my own home, a thriving daughter, independence, and hope for the future.

So, now I take additional leaps of faith.

I will manage my home.  I will rule my finances, not letting them rule me.  I will help this business to grow.  I will love Katherine with all of my might.

I will leap into the life I want.  I will have enough money.  And I will find love.

I will get the life I am seeking.  In the middle of life's storms, it is so easy to forget that I've already accomplished the impossible in my life, so maybe accomplishing even more "impossible" tasks isn't so impossible after all.

I'm still swimming.  I'm going to make this happen!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rolling with the waves

Things seem to come in waves.

Right now, I'm dealing with a divorce, refinance, house repair issues (major ones), a dying father in law.  As indicated in the last post, I was starting to feel pretty good about all of that: I have been working hard at managing my business.

So the next wave has arrived: a beloved aunt has early signs of colon cancer, and it appears to be genetic, and linked to breast cancer; she needed copies of my genetic testing and called me with the news.  This prompted calls to my own oncologist, who tells me that I need to get in for a colonoscopy, stat, and that it is of some concern; she also tells me that I need additional genetic testing done for breast cancer.  Having lost both of my breasts as well as my reproductive organs due to breast cancer, I'm probably even less excited than the average person concerned about colon cancer.  And I don't need to mention that I have a daughter who doesn't even HAVE breasts yet, and that new information might mean genetic components to my cancer, which I may have passed along to her.....

And then her school called.  Maybe a bit of testing for dyslexia is in order?  Her comprehension is incredibly high, but her spelling of even sight words is really off, and maybe testing is in order....?  She's performing at grade level but the spelling is below and this can be a sign....?

And my father in law moved to hospice yesterday.

I'm sure that there is humor in here somewhere.  When the waves come, they come hard and fast, and I'm spluttering, turning my head to take a breath only to discover that there is a different wave there, and I take a gasping breath only to inhale water.

It's a good thing I'm a strong swimmer, and that I'm not a quitter.  There is shore out there and I am not stopping until I reach it.

This week, we notorized our decree of dissolution.  Today I sign my house refinance papers, and for the first time, I will have purchased a house all by myself.  My job is going well.  I can use the refi money to do the house repairs (hallelujah) in time for winter.

I do not have colon cancer.  I refuse to have colon cancer, and I refuse to panic.  I will do the testing because it's important, but I will expect good results.

And my daughter doesn't have dyslexia or any problem other than that she's a terrible speller.  She's doing well in math, reading, and science and always performs at grade level (above grade level for reading) in all things except spelling.  I will not freak out about this. I will take necessary precautions, but I believe this is going to work out.  (And I also believe that I need to post about studies of long term stress on children - like having a mom with cancer and then going through a parents' divorce - and how that impacts them.  Stay tuned.)

And I visited my father in law not long ago, and told him I loved him, and last night Katherine and I talked deeply about dying, and then Katherine slept in my bed with me and we were both peaceful.  We are at peace with our relationships with him, and with his death.

This weekend I will spend some quality time in home improvement stores and on the Consumer Reports website, but I will also go to a Halloween Party, and with a little luck, tomorrow I will drink coffee for two hours uninterrupted while Katherine sleeps in, and I will catch my breath.

I am doing the best I can.  I am still swimming.  Sometimes I swallow water and choke, but I am not going to drown.  As a matter of fact, when I reach that sunny shore, I'm going to drink tropical fruit juice and lay on a towel reading a magazine, and then I'm going to build a sand castle with Katherine.

But right now, pardon me, I have to keep swimming.  Back to work.


If you are going through hard times, you're not alone.  But we can do this!  We've got this.  See you on the beach!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh, optimism, how I have missed you!

It's a fresh week.

It even FEELS fresh.

Maybe it's the rain and gray skies; so many people in my part of the world dread the rain, but to me it feels cleansing.  My region was so much drier than usual this year that I was starting to feel dehydrated, wishing for the rain on my skin, and now that it's back I feel like I can breathe fully again, as if the oxygen goes deeper into my lungs when moisture is added to it.

We met with the mediator again, and I feel like I am that much closer to freedom: freedom from a marriage that wasn't good for either of us.  Freedom to be who I should be.  Anything feels possible, once again.

I'm back on track.  Soon, the divorce will be done, and I will be free of its dark cloud.

I still have so much to deal with.  If the house refinance does not go through, I'm not sure what I will do.

But you know what?  It's all going to work out.  All will be well.  I've got this.  I can do this!

Happy Monday, everyone.  May the rain wash away your troubles, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

That breathing thing

I clearly forgot everything about breathing for the past two weeks.  It was a rough go - too many giant things to deal with, including mediation, filing divorce paperwork, an ailing father in law, an all-nighter helping said father-in-law, a refinance in jeopardy, work, motherhood, financial fears, and oh, just life in general.  It's a long list, too much to deal with.  Add in a sewage flood in the basement and it was just too much.

So, I did it wrong: I didn't work out, I ate comfort food, and I basically went into a panic.

But I also did it right: I cut myself some slack, I called in my posse (best friends ever!) and asked for help.

But this weekend I've caught my breath again.  I actually read my book of guided meditations, we went for a walk in a beautiful location, we went to a pumpkin patch, I spent time with friends.  I invited several of Katherine's friends over for a spontaneous sleepover, complete with chocolate chip pancake breakfast.  I caught up on chores, filled out yet more divorce paperwork, taught Sunday school at my UU church (a lesson about finding what is good in each of us; the children were so kind to each other and shared such sweet compliments towards each other during the lesson that it restored my faith in humanity....what a gift!), helped Katherine get her Halloween costume ready.

And Katherine and I even did our new (few weeks now) tradition: Sunday roast followed by some fun TV watching.  I don't eat a lot of meat in general, but the Sunday roast just screams "happy home" to me and I'm working hard at making sure this home feels like home.  And I'm a pretty granola mom, so when I let Katherine watch TV she is pretty blissful - it's really a treat.  Our Sunday wind down is a favorite for both of us, now.

The fridge is full, the house tidy.  I've had exercise, I've been in nature, I've shared with friends.  This week, I am determined, absolutely determined, to keep remembering to breathe.  My "to do" list is just as long as ever, and I still don't have flooring in my basement, and I have two mediation sessions this week, hoping to get it all finished and submit for the refinance.

But I feel like I have my feet under me a bit better this week.  Breathing in, breathing out.  I can do this.  I've got this.  Let's move forward!

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.  Ahhhhh.

(Want to sing along with me?  Picture standing hand in hand with people you love, singing only the the part "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love," in a round so many times that time and space gets lost and you only feel the words love and peace and your own soft breaths...  It can bring me to tears it is so beautiful.  Here, take my hand.....let's do this together....)

PS  Does anyone out there have a version of this song with all of the harmonies?  It's not exactly pop music; I couldn't find it on YouTube and the UU Association website only has a little electronic file.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Doing the Best We Can

Last week at the mediator, I had to confront Bryan about a lie.  I found out that he was laid off or fired months ago, and I had not revealed to him that I'd inadvertantly learned this information.

The mediator asked his salary, and he used old numbers.  I let it go.  The mediator asked him directly about health insurance, costs, employer coverage, etc. and he used the old information, even though I knew with certainty that he was now on COBRA (and that I was too; I'd been panicking about it because as a breast cancer survivor I know how vitally important health insurance is!).

He looked the mediator in the eye and lied.

In that moment, right before I revealed that I knew the truth, I felt so overwhelmingly sad for him.  His life is not going well, and he does not seem to have the tools to fix what needs fixing.

I spoke quietly, and my eyes were full of tears when I said, "I really hoped that you would bring this up so that I did not have to, but I know you were laid off a few months ago."

I think he wished that the ground would swallow him up in that moment, and I hated that I had to bring it up.  I believe he felt shame, and I was so sorry that I was associated with those feelings of shame....again.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Bryan suffers from clinical depression, and he doesn't manage his depression.  He is not in therapy, and I don't think he's taking meds any more, and yet he has classic symptoms of depression.   If I had to name one reason that our marriage failed, I would say that it was "untreated depression" or "undertreated depression."  He is a mere shell of the man I met and married, and bears no resemblance to his former self.  His humor, intelligence, and generousity have vanished, and in their place is anger, confusion, and closedness.  He went from being a person with many good friends to a person with few contacts; he went from being a great employee to....well, not great.  He went from being romantic to being self absorbed.  He lost his libido, his sense of self worth, and so much more, and I blame it on the depression.

So, sitting in the mediator's office, I saw all of this with great clarity, saw the pain he was in, and I felt deeply compassionate for him.

With that compassion came a new understanding: he is doing the best that he can right now.

I get so angry that he doesn't spend much time with our daughter, that he does the bare minimum in so many parts of his life, but especially in parenting.  I can not count on him to make sure she takes showers, or gets her homework done, or eats anything healthy, or goes to bed on time, or does any chores.  I get so angry that he expects me to do it all - every doctor's appointment, every birthday gift, every homework assignment (helping), every new pair of shoes.  I was so frustrated when we were living in the same house and he would sleep in every morning so that I would get up, make Katherine's lunch, serve her breakfast, get her backpack re-packed, etc. even though I was the one going to work and he was not.  I couldn't believe that he'd watch me flying around, and that when I walked in the door from work he'd watch TV while I cooked dinner and helped our girl with homework.  I found it astonishing, and it made me very angry.

But in that mediation, in a flash of insight, I think I saw it for what it is.

He loves his daughter.  He is taking less than he might from the house because he wants her to live in the house.  He's paying child support even though he's unemployed.  But he has nothing else to give right now.  He's doing the best he can.

He only has our daughter four four nights a month, and he usually only takes her for two of those nights (sending her to sleepovers the other two).  I have been so angry that he has given her so little...but suddenly I see it, he's doing the best he can.

Yes, I'm exhausted.  Yes, it takes a toll on me.  But I am so incredibly proud of the job parenting I'm doing.  I'm setting a good example, I'm raising a kind daughter who has a great work ethic.  Katherine and I have fun together (this weekend's agenda: a sleepover at our house with a couple "BFFs", a visit to a pumpkin patch followed by pumpkin carving and hot apple cider, Sunday School where I am her class's teacher, and then our new tradition: a quiet evening dinner followed by a movie every Sunday night), but still get homework done, eat veggies, etc.  I am working hard at work.  I'm balancing the oh-so-tight budget.  I got up at 5am the first fall day of rain to check the gutter in the corner where it causes problems, making sure that the water was draining away from the house.

I'm doing the best I can, and he's doing the best he can.  It's not fair, and perhaps I am owed much more, and perhaps Katherine is owed much more, but all anyone can give is their best.

So, I feel more at peace with him than before.  I'm so relieved that we are getting divorced - I can not have a partner who refuses to manage his mental health and expects me to deal with that fallout from that decision, and I can not live with lies, and I need to be married to someone I respect - but I see him differently now.

No, it's not fair.  However, I got the better end of the deal.  I CAN find joy in tiny things, I am proud of who I am, and I love my relationship with my daughter.  Yes, I have to work twice as hard, but I have more than double the benefits of that work.

 Tonight when I get home from work there will be three girls - Katherine and two of her besties - in my home, giggling and asking me funny questions about boys (they are at an age where they alternate between the idea that boys are weird and that boys are cool), and maybe we'll all dance in the kitchen to Carly Rae Jepson's summer hit "Call Me Maybe."  Katherine will roll her eyes at me - "oh Mom you're so embarrassing" - but then she will "accidentally" bump into me and I'll grab her arms and spin her in circles and she'll laugh and her friends will say "do me next!" and by the time the song is over I'll be out of breath and we'll all be laughing.  In the morning, her friends will say, "oooooh are you making chocolate chip pancakes?!" and they will be so excited when I say yes, because I have been informed that my house has the best sleepover breakfasts ever.

I know that this is all true, because this is how it always goes.  Or maybe we won't dance, but we'll bake together.  Or maybe they'll have me look up You-Tube videos on my computer, bands I've never heard of and would never listen to on my own (um, like Carly Rae Jepson) but which appeal to the tween set, and I'll indulge the girls because I love that they still include me on these activities, and because it always comes out who has a crush on who or what happened at school last week.  Sometimes they ask my advice about navigating a tricky friendship, or about how to ask their moms something.  Sometimes they ask how old I was when I got to do some things, or they'll ask me to tell them a funny story about when I was their age.  Then, they'll bounce off into Katherine's room, and I'll hear whispers and laughter, and sometimes they spend three hours without coming up for air, organizing elaborate fantasy worlds with Littlest Pet Shop, and I'll be able to light candles and read a book in the living room with few interruptions.

When it's bedtime, they'll talk longer than they're supposed to, and finally I will say "this is your last warning and so if I have to come in again I'm afraid I'll have to separate you" and they will stop talking because this is about the 100th sleepover for these girls and they know I mean it.  They'll say, "Okay" and they won't be upset at all; they'll roll over and go to sleep.  In the morning if I sleep longer than they do, they'll bounce onto my bed like a litter of puppies, and I will say "when are you girls going to learn how to make me coffee?" and they'll call out a chorus of "yuccckkkkkk coffee is so gross!" before they wonder if there is any hot cocoa available.

Bryan misses out on all this, and I feel sad for him.  He may not be treating me fairly, but still, I'm getting the better deal.

I am grateful for my life.  Thank you, Bryan, for giving me perspective. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One step closer

I went to the courthouse, and was not turned away, even temporarily.  I went through the security, and the woman there smiled at me and told me she loved my dress and that my boots were fabulous.

That helped.  Of course, I took her words to mean that I was smokin' hot with a great sense of fashion and that men for miles around would be craving my company in the near future.  Because if I didn't have some small fantasy to get me through I think I would have run screaming from the building.

I spent a couple hours waiting in this line then that line, and I was done.  I have filed for dissolution of marriage (I don't believe that the word "divorce" was on a single piece of paper - why is that?), and on January 16th I will stand in front of a judge and say "yes" or something, and then I will be divorced.

Oh, after I attend a half hour parenting class, and a half hour family law class, and visit the mediator two more times to finish paperwork.  But that seems smaller now that the papers are filed.

First of all:
That sucked.  No fantasy could erase that I was there to officially declare my marriage dead.  It wasn't a good marriage, I can't benefit from it any longer....but I mourn its death anyway.  Of course I do.

Second of all:
What crazy fool believes that a half hour parenting class makes any difference whatsoever?  Seriously?  For me, I'm pretty sure it's a major waste of time (I have a fair number of parenting classes much more than a half hour in duration under my belt, and I've read every parenting book I can get my hands on, I've been to lectures, I participate in a mom-group, I used to be a teacher and I have a masters in education....need I say more?!), but for those people who really need it, who haven't had access to resources like parenting classes or don't come from a background where it's common to read a zillion parenting books (and I've graduated to parenting books about children of divorce), well, what on earth is going to happen in that half hour class that does much good?  I expect that I will hear that I should not belittle my daughter's father, that I should encourage their relationship, that I should set aside my feelings about the marriage and put my daughter's needs first.  I expect that they'll suggest that I do not make her act as a go-between, that I look for mood swings and other indicators of anxiety or distress.  I suspect that they'll make suggestions about introducing dates only after they're serious relationships.  I'll bet we get a list of parenting websites and books.

I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, now my divorce - ahem, sorry, "dissolution" - has a number, and that makes it official.

How appropriate that as in marriage, it is in divorce.  I'm running around like a fool, and I deliver it to him on a silver platter.

I had a minor panic attack.  I hid it from the world - I'm good at that - but it hurt.  Literally.  Like my rib cage was two sizes too small.

I'm laying low tonight.  I just need to catch my breath.

One step closer.