Sunday, July 29, 2012


Today I saw a very romantic interpretation of Taming of the Shrew.  The shrew was comical in her shrewishness, hissing and spitting and very physical in her interpretation, sending the audience - seated on picnic blankets outdoors - into hoots of laughter.  The language, as in many Shakespeare plays, was bawdy and coarse and perfectly splendid.  I glanced over at Katherine a couple of times - did she catch that reference to oral sex? ack! - but she was oblivious for the most part.  As the play progressed, the shrew became broken as she was tamed, and it felt uncomfortable to me - was this a play about male chauvenism?  (There are interpretations like that, and I've seen them.  They hurt to watch.)  But in this interpretation, by the end, it looked like love in good Katarina's eyes - she was shrew no longer, softened by a man of wit, and she was sexy and fiery and bold, but also kind and appreciative of her mate.  In the end, I felt sorry for boring Bianca's love, which held no fire at all.

Now, I'm not looking to be carried over a man's shoulder into the wilderness.  Rue the day that a man should try - I'm not one to go for that.

But oh how I would love a man who knew what my defenses were, and knew how to guide me to a softer place inside myself than my previous romance has allowed.

Ahhhh, romance.

A lesbian friend - a remarkable mother, a beautiful human being, a member of my divorce group - quietly announced that she is in a wonderful new romance, too.  Watching her light up, seeing the pain of heartbreak being replaced by the attentiveness of someone who really SEES her, well, it's a lovely thing.  Several newly divorced friends have found new love, as a matter of fact.  I watch them with a combination of awe, happiness (for them), and purely painful longing.  I wish it was my turn sometimes.

Romance is not in the air for me.  I'm too exhausted to try for it right now, and I'm trying so hard to make the rest of my life work out that I can't afford to divert precious energy away from my newly awakened career and sweet Katherine's new life.

But romance is in the air.  I can't drink deeply of it, but at least I can enjoy its perfumes as they drift by.  My time will come, and in the meantime I'll look at other examples of love - real and literary - and take my pleasure from that.  Romance is not dead.  I do not hate men.  I will bide my time, and wait for the lover-friend who will make my toes curl and my eyes sparkle.


I haven't read Fifty Shades of Gray yet.  I thought about it - I'm not a prude - but I can't do it, not because of the sex (hey, bring it on!), or the dominance (not my thing but maybe an interesting read?).  No, I can't read it because I am a literary snob, and I've heard it's worse than Twilight.  (A friend talked me into reading the first book of Twilight, a mistake I will not repeat.)  But there was plenty of sexiness in the play today...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beyond thinking

My original intent was to use this blog to document thoughtful approaches to divorce, using myself as an example.  I thought I'd write erudite essays with a spiritual bent....

But I'm so tired.  Right now, it's all I can do to occassionally put up a Dear Diary vent with a "here's what I did today" list.

I hope to get back to my higher self, but right now, well, I'm just getting along.  I hope that you, my readers, will stick it out with me.  I'll get there - I'm getting there! - but it's quite the journey, and I'm weary.  No surprise there, but the level of weariness is startling to me.

Planning a road trip.  Building a business.  Worrying over my spreadsheets.  Trying so hard to gather my daughter into my arms to hold her tight, safe and warm, without invading her personal space.  Caring for a house that suddenly seems far too big, for a dog who is lonely at home all day, for my own body (which has already reminded me that when things go wrong it gets cancer - I have not forgotten that!), managing extended family and friendships....

My prior posts on wanting to date seem humorous and humorless at the same time now.  I don't have time to daydream about love, let alone fall into it.

(Okay, my daydreams are alive and well....even if it's only as I fall asleep...)

So, for all of you who are struggling with the details of divorce, the mind numbing quality of the, with the daily needs of life superimposed on top, well, you're not alone.  We're in this together.  I'll get there, I'm sure of that, even if I can't always see the whole path, but I won't stop trying.  And if I can do it, you can do it too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Fake It

Excel and I are having an intimate relationship.  I massage, I prod, I experiment, I enter, I remove.  If it were sexual, it would be kind of fun, but this number business can give anyone a headache.

I am aware that since Bryan was late on the second child support payment, that next month his personal finances (assuming he tries to make the back payment) will be even tighter, and I'm aware that we might be falling into a terrible downward spiral, and my fear is that he would just give up.  I am going to have to tread very, very carefully.  I don't know what each month holds: will I continue to hear excuses, or will he pay what he owes?  Will he pay future child support, will he pay back support, will he be sporadic, will all child support disappear?

I'm looking at selling off some personal items.  Refinancing the house.  Putting expenses (car) on credit.

I am going to stay afloat, and I'm going to have a road trip vacation to visit friends - a cheapcheapcheap vacation, but a vacation.  I am making the math's going to be tight, and I'm going to have a few heart attacks on the way, but as long as I stay the course, I think I can do it.

I will continue paying my bills.  I will keep eating.  And I will cut corners where I can so that there is a tiny bit left for fun.

Good news:
I'm losing weight!  I don't own a scale because I don't want one, but my clothes are looser, and I look good.  Wahoo.  This is not a weight loss program, this is a too-busy-and-too-stressed to eat program, coupled with a personal mission to eat more fruits and veggies.  I was a healthy weight before but with a bit of wiggle room (should I call that jiggle room?!), and now I'm a healthier weight.  So there.

Good news:
I really am an optimist PollyAnna.  Here I am, in the middle of a financial nightmare, as well as a nightmare for Katherine's relationship with her dad, and I'm doing great.  Wahoo!

Good news:
I have decided that in six months or a year I'm going to get a big raise.  I'm earning it, and I'm creating revenue streams so that the business can afford it.  My financial problems, whatever Bryan does, are temporary.

Good news:
When I am really scared and having a hard time sleeping because of all of the scenerios running through my head, I'm good at envisioning a beautiful future.   I specialize in self-soothing.

Good news:
I'm healthy.  Katherine is healthy.  We have so many people who love us.  I have a great education that affords me work opportunities.  I am resilient.  We have a roof over our heads.  I'm smart, and patient, and I can outlast this storm.

Faking it?  Absolutely.  But I think I'm making it, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with concern for the latest developments in my little saga.  Your support helps me to feel less alone, and less crazy, in what is clearly a crazy-making situation.  Several people expressed concern for me in this new set of circumstances, and the tenderness of strangers - for I haven't actually MET any of you, though the community here does feel like friendship - fills me with gratitude for the beauty in the world.  You are beautiful, and I'm glad you're here.  Thank you.

I do need some tenderness, because we all know by now that it wasn't something I received in my marriage, and I'm still feeling a bit bruised from that.  But I want to take a moment to say I am bruised, but nowhere near broken.

I am prepared to be patient, but I am going to get what I need.  Setbacks are inevitable, but they are not the ending of my story.  Allow me to explain.

I have had two plans since the beginning of my decision to divorce: Plan A, Bryan does the honorable thing and spends lots of time with his daughter and pays child support (on time!), and Plan B, I'm totally on my own and need to cover all expenses and manage all of Katherine's time.  I have known all along that though I'm hoping, praying, and setting expectations for Plan A, Plan B is a possibility.

So, whatever happens, I'm prepared to manage it, and to keep my joy even while it's going on.  Oh, sure, I feel the aches and pains of it as much as anyone, but I'm able to compartmentalize them.  I feel joy at my work when I'm working, and I feel mama-love when I'm with my girl, and I feel sassy and independent when I'm with my girlfriends.

And I feel madder than hell when I deal with the business with Bryan.  I'm stunned that he could take it this far - is he really going to collapse completely into the stereotype of a deadbeat dad? - but make no mistake, I am not going to roll over and take it.

I am going to be patient.  I am going to be polite.  I am going to be reasonable.  I'm even going to try to be compassionate.  But under no circumstances am I going to say "yes dear" to these ridiculous behaviors.

We have a mediator, and we've just begun working with her, and we're in the preliminary stages of the paperwork.  Bryan was acting super cool when we met with her - it looked like he was going to give me more than I asked for and he was going to be reasonable.  Now that he's showing his true colors, I am documenting, documenting, documenting.  I'm following up with him on email, I'm printing it all.  I'm keeping lists of budgets and expenses and payments.  And of time spent...and not spent...with his daughter. 

I will be patient.  I will not detonate bombs.  I will play fair, even when he doesn't, because ultimately, my patience is going to give me what I need.

They say that happiness is the best revenge.  Let him stew in the pot of his own making: he can simmer in his unreliability, in his failure to be the father his daughter needs, in his irresponsibility.  He is in a mess of his own making, and he will have to deal with the fallout from that.  I have what it takes to help Katherine deal with his fallout, and I'm assembling a good group of men around her to be role models: other fathers in our circle, my father, his brothers (ironically, Bryan's brothers are among the finest men I know).  I will figure out the finances.

I'm good at spinning straw into gold.  It is sad that he only knows how to spin gold into straw, but it is not my responsibility to help him any longer.

Dear readers, never fear, I am not playing the victim.  I am being patient, and taking care of what needs to be done.  I know the law, and I know what he ought to do, and I will quietly, patiently, but persistently make sure that he follows that law.  The mediator will help....and those brothers will help, too, because if they get wind of this (they will) then they will be pushing him in ways I never could.

Yes, happiness is the best revenge.  I'm not being happy to spite him, I'm being happy because I'm good at it, because I want it for myself. 

I did six years of cancer treatment.  It was hell on earth, and even other cancer survivors in my circle would blink in amazement at me that I could keep going the way I did.  I've got this.  I can do this.  It sucks, of course, but if Katherine and I are healthy and together, if we have a roof over our heads and people who love us, the rest is just details.

I'm going to have my dreams.  A return to international travel.  Financial independence.  A working car!  A romantic love that is the stuff of legends.  A beautifully well adjusted child who loves me almost as much as I love her (I could never ask it to be equal - would it even be possible?!).  What Bryan does, or does not do, is ultimately of little importance.

I will hold him accountable, but my happiness does not depend on his reliability.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Child Support: Gloves Coming Off?

He asked me not to cash the second child support check - two payments per month, we're in the first month.  He makes more than I do, even after accounting for child support (minus on his side, plus on mine), and I have the higher expenses (the house payment, utilities, etc., and I am to pay for childcare, clothing, school supplies, etc. and he is not expected to, plus I handle veterinary care, medical appointments, etc.) and I have Katherine most of the time.

He told me he expected me to pay the consumer debt.

He told me that he wasn't going to cover Katherine's child psychologist (not covered by insurance), the therapist we've both agreed has been a godsend.

He said he couldn't help pay for her one camp this summer, the one we agreed to, the one we signed up for pre-separation.  Then he gave me $50 anyway....but it's part of the check I'm not supposed to cash.

He told me he didn't think that he should have to pay anything above child support (which he is already late on, in the first month....).  I asked "What if we need to pay another $2000 orthodontist bill?" and  he snapped, "I need to keep a budget!" and when I slowly replied, "As do I.  But when "unexpected" expenses come up, we both need a plan for them..." and he walked away, ending the conversation.

Our daughter is homesick.  He called to ask a favor, and when I told him she was homesick he got all choked up.  I said, "I have to work this week, but perhaps you could have her for a couple extra days?" and he said, "Well, I guess I could take her for a couple of hours on Thursday."  I said, "I have to work all day Thursday, and my parents were going to watch her, but if you take her on Thursday it needs to be for the full day otherwise I have to find someone to cover the rest of the day..." as my parents live 45 minutes away....and he said he'd think about it.

I said, "If you took her on Thurs/Fri, since it's your weekend, if you don't want extra time, I could take her on the weekend," and he said, "Well, maybe."

Keep in mind that he's sitting around doing nothing all day, while his daughter says, "I want Daddy..."


And did I mention that we only had one car, that he said I could have it because he didn't want or need a car, that he's driven it more than I have (on my gas!) since he moved out, and that it needs a major repair right now that he's not willing to pay for?  When he asked today if he could borrow it I said, "You have driven it more than I have, and it needs a repair.  Are you able to help pay for the repair?" then suddenly he was willing to take the bus.

This doesn't look good.

I am breathing in and out, deeply.  Calling our daughter three times a day from work to check on her.  Arranging playdates galore so that she can be with friends during the day and then come home to me.  Making an appoitnment to have the car evaluated to see if the repair is feasible.  Working my rear end off at the office - I caught a 7:45pm bus home tonight.  Coming home to walk the dog, heat up something from Trader Joe's, then write this, go to bed, and do it all over in the morning.  The machine is full of messages from loving friends, I have my health, my job is going well and my boss is happy with me.  I am living so close to the bone that it hurts, but even with all of this I'm making my budget work (except the car - what am I going to do?  there is no wiggle room left!).

He can blow off his responsibilities, he can punish his daughter in an attempt to punish me, he can sit around eating Pringles all day.  I'm going to use my life in meaningful ways, I'm going to model love and joy and compassion to my daughter, I'm going to be there for her in every single possible way within my capabilities.  I will not let his behavior make me lower my integrity to play his game, and I will not let him suck the life out of me.  I will just work double time to give Katherine and I the life we want.

This is an old behavior.  "I want to do the right thing" he says, followed by doing exactly the wrong thing, and then acting like it's all my fault.  Thank heavens for the mediator.  I'm documenting all of this.  I'm hoping it doesn't get ugly.

I. Will. Not. Lose. My. Joy.  I will remain joyful.  I insist.  I am PollyAnna!

Off to a bubble bath, a glass of wine, and bed.  Good night, all.


These days, I feel pretty powerful.

I am juggling housework, employment, finances, a series of broken objects such as a car repair, the dog, friendships, etc.  And I'm being a pretty awesome single mom, too.  On my next-to-nothing budget, I'm finding fun things to do with my beautiful daughter, treating her to things like a henna tattoo at the festival we went to, smiling and saying "No, you go ahead" and not letting on that I'd like one too, but it's not in the budget.  Sleepovers at our house with home made chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes on the weekend.  Helping her to make her dad an awesome birthday present, with the requisite shopping trips and time and such to make it happen.  Snuggle time, time with friends.  I make sure her teeth are brushed, her chores are done (so much easier to do them myself but I want to teach her), etc.

And I never, never, never belittle her dad.

I feel pretty good about myself.  I've got some swagger back - the kind that makes men hold open doors for me, the kind that makes little old ladies smile at me.

Powerful.  It feels good to be powerful.

But there is one area in my life in which I am completely powerless, and that one area tries to diminish all the others.

I can not be a father to my daughter.  I can not meet her need for him.

And today it has had me in tears.

This weekend, Katherine got a bit angry with me, and said, "It's not fair.  I spend time with you, but hardly any with Daddy, and it should be half and half.  IT'S NOT FAIR!"  I can see clearly that in her mind, this is something I've created, and she wanted me to fix it.  Quietly, I tried to say something about how I've always been the one to help with homework and before school routines....but she pointed out that it was summer.  I finally told her that I wanted her to have a good relationship with her dad, and I would support that, and that she needed to tell him that she wanted more time with him.

I did not say, "Your dad refuses additional time with you.  He shows up late, drops you off early, and asks for "help" on his weekends because he has other plans."  I said, "Honey, I want to support you and your daddy; I know how much you love each other.  Why don't you talk to him?"

But today when she was elsewhere, I talked to him.  I told him about our conversation, and he sighed heavily and told me how sad that made him.  I told him about a childcare bind I'm in for this week, where I've asked girlfriends to help out with Katherine's care, but said he could take those days.  Out of two full work days, he said, "Well, I could take her for a couple of hours...." and I thought I'd fall off my chair.  I said, "She is homesick and tired of being away, and wants to come home early from the grandparents, but I have to be at work.  She was crying when she went to my parents last night.  I have to work, and since you're not working, would you be able to take her?" and he said "I guess I'll think about it."  I said, "I am trying to figure out the Rubik's cube of my life between work and childcare," and he laughed, "Well, I'm trying to figure out my own Rubik's cube!" and then mentioned a hobby project he is working on.

Our daughter is begging for him, and he is holding her at arm's length.

I hung up the phone, on my lunch break, and sobbed.

I am certain that he is punishing me, thinking only that creating convenience for me outweighs his daughter's need for him.

I will figure out the money.  I will figure out the time.  I will figure out the fatigue.  I will create fun between the hard work.  I will care for our home, for our lives.  I will stroke her hair when she's sad, and I will dance with her when she's happy.

But I can't be her dad, and watching her hurt is far more painful than chemo ever was.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The wall

Well, Katherine hit the wall tonight. 

She needs to spend week two with the grandparents as part of her summer of being shuffled from place to place while I work.

She sobbed.  "It's too much, Mama, I just want to be home..." and it was all I could do to keep it together.

We will get through this.

It hurts.

We'll get through it.

It hurts.

Different kinds of tired

There is the kind of tired that involves a yawn and a stretch and a sleepy vacation town.

There is the kind of tired that involves going to bed at nine at night.

There is the kind of tired where one looks at the clock and realizes "oh no it's hours 'til I'm done."

There's physical labor tired.

And there's cancer treatment tired.

And now there's this new kind of tired in my life.  Working all day and mothering all evening and never caught up.  Car problems, tight (really tight) finances at the end of the month problems, the need to walk the dog, mow the grass, fix the fence problems.  Need a nanny problems.  Have to refinance the house problems.  And business is booming but we have the problem of so much going on that we're scrambling to keep caught up.  And constant food prep, and vacuuming, and birthday cards.

THIS is what single parents are talking about.  The hands on ones, anyway.

And just for the record, in my experience, cancer fatigue never goes away, so slather on a thick layer of that on top of it all.

I AM happy.  I am very, very proud of holding it all together.  I am holding it together, and it's a bit of a miracle.

If I could just shake this fatigue, I'd feel amazing.  I mostly do feel amazing....but I am so, so, so tired...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tired but happy

I feel like I did as a little girl when we spent the whole day doing something wonderful - like going to the beach, or to a country fair - and I came home, sticky from treats, completely worn out, but absolutely happy.

I have almost made it through this week of covering things for my boss's vacation, and I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of myself.  I've learned more than I imagined possible, I've got a zillion ideas about how to improve some of our business' efficiency, and I am more certain than ever that our business is taking off for the stars.

I am filled with hope and possibility.  Sure, I'm still living without my dishwasher and I haven't had the courage to take my car in to see what that terrible sound it's making is (I bus to work to be environmental, get some reading time, and save myself the stress of parking in a city notorious for its bad parking), and I am so tired that I'm pretty sure that I could fall asleep standing up if I just let myself....but it's going to be okay.  My biggest problems are money related (cars and dishwashers are just dollar signs, after all), and I can handle that.  My daughter is happy, I am healthy, and it's going to be okay.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Working Girl

This week I took on some new responsibilities at work, and I have been working my tail off.  I wake up thinking about work, and I go to bed thinking about work, and I've been running around all day every day at work, putting in about twelve hours yesterday.

For a woman who was a housewife (oh I loathe that word) for nearly a decade, and hasn't even been working for a year, this is a major shift.

Katherine has been with her dad for a couple of days, and next she's going to Grandma's house, because Grandma and Grandpa are dying for some time with their granddaughter, and I knew this week and next I'd be running ragged at work, so my girl gets some time to bond with her grandparents, and I get to work and just throw myself into it, taking on some projects, getting a bit ahead, and hopefully impressing the heck out of my boss.  Ah, my boss loves me anyway, so I don't care if I impress her, but I'd like to drive some serious revenue for our little business, and it looks like maybe, just maybe, that's happening.

I have big plans for my career, and they're not just dreams, they're plans, and watching them come to fruition is exhilerating.  I have a decade pent up inside me, where my life was rich and full (remember, no mommy wars here, and I'm so glad I was there for my girl, but I'm glad to be working now, because I want to in addition to needing to) but my career was languishing, dying on the vine.  Now, my career is blossoming, and the perfume from those blossoms is intoxicating.

I like myself like this.  Working hard, playing hard, being myself.  Tonight I will have an evening with Katherine, and I will be out the door of the office at 5:01, ready to be a mom, to have a picnic, to play, to read stories, to hear about her time with her dad.  And by the time she comes back from my parents, I will be longing for her to the point where I will have to coach myself not to cry upon reuniting with her, because I really will miss her.  But tomorrow when she's with her grandparents, if I choose to work until 8pm, that's something I will enjoy, too.

I've missed my career, too, and I am so happy to reignite it.  I feel smart, and capable, and useful, and innovative, and valued as an employee and businessperson in ways that I just didn't feel when I spent big chunks of time taking care of everyone but myself at home.

And I don't think I need to point out that coming home to a clean house every day - returning to a house in the same condition that I left it in - is pure delight.  And coming home to a dog glad to see me, a child delighted to tell me about her day and then give me extra snuggles (actually, I think a bonus of working now that Katherine is nine is that she misses me just a smidge, and that pays off with massive snuggling and talks in the evenings, whereas before I was like furniture - always there and not really thought about!)'s heavenly.

If anyone reading this blog is reading for the first time this week, they might be thinking that everything in my life is roses, and roses can be rather dull to read.  Well, this week, I'm perfectly happy with my dull reports of happiness.  The archives here prove that my life has been rather dramatic and anything but dull for a long time, and right now I am positively reveling in the joy of my simple pleasures.

Day 17 of my separation, and I can't remember being so happy in a long, long, long time.  My general state of being is just happy - I don't need anything in particular to feel happy right now, because the whole thing just feels pretty darned good.  I don't know how long it will last, but I'm going to focus on the joy that is here right now, and not miss one second of it. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


In general, I don't like to compare myself to others - it serves no purpose, as it either belittles them, or myself.  A comparison is usually blatantly false, because humans are so complex and multi-faceted: I may envy a woman's gorgeous hair, but if she goes home to an abusive spouse, then what is there to envy?  And so on, you get the idea.

But yesterday I found myself in a comparison that I hope I never forget.

I ran into my neighbor, the one I labeled "crone" in a loving way: a woman of depth and wisdom and experience.  My neighbor friend, another divorcee with an only child, but who got divorced a decade ago and has reclaimed her life quite fully, who encourages me and is part of my support team, was coming over to share a glass of wine on my back deck, and when she was on her way she ran into the crone.

The crone's life is hard.  She has an abusive, alcoholic, diabetic husband who now suffers from dementia, and who requires constant care.  The crone does not buckle under this weight, because she declares that the Lord loves her and protects her.  It is the faith of a child, and it is a beautiful thing to witness.

Well, anyway, my neighbor friend and I glanced at each other, caught eyes, and instantly invited the crone to join us.  Her eyes lit up, but she was unsure - surely she'd be a bother?  She didn't want to be any trouble.....but no, we insisted she come.

We sat under the shade of an umbrella in the warm July sun, and I brought out a tray of wineglasses.  The crone said she hadn't had wine in years, and the neighbor and I gave her a quick quiz: were there any medications she was taking that would prevent her from drinking wine?  None revealed, we poured her a glass.

The wine loosened her tongue.  She told us about many things, including the people who had lived in our houses before us, and about her marriage, and her childhood.  The accent I couldn't place is Polish.

And she told us about Dachau.  About how when she was a girl her parents were taken away first, and then they took her to Dachau when she was twelve.

Twelve isn't so far away from Katherine's age, a comparison I couldn't help but make.  Both Katherine and the crone are blond (the crone still has thick blond hair, with gray hidden in it), and suddenly in that old woman's face I saw my daughter being ripped away from me, and I saw her being sent to be with strangers in the most horrific of circumstances imaginable.  I wept.  I could not stop.  I had to excuse myself a moment when there was a break in the story, in order to compose myself.

The crone took this in stride.  Her story has been inside her for too long, and she needed to tell it.  She never saw her parents again, never learned their story.

She told us of her marriage, too, and of some of the ugliness of it, and how it trapped her.  She told us of things that made my life seem like a walk in the park, with a parasol and a pet monkey and an ice cream cone and the most beautiful dress and the sun shining and the water sparkling and diamonds all around me.

Somehow the date came up, and the crone said, "No, really?"  It was her birthday.  Her 80th birthday.  She is so busy caring for her husband that she didn't know the date, and here she was, in her house slippers, taking the first break she'd had since who knows when, on her birthday.  I wished then that I had the most beautiful birthday cake in the world to give her, but lacking one, I cobbled together something silly but chocolate, put a candle in it, and we sang to her and made sure she made a wish.

My life is rich and blessed and secure and wonderful.  This woman has a heart of pure goodness and kindness, and she has experienced hell on earth, and she might still live in hell by most standards, but she allows kindness to rule her.

I have an education she envies.  (She supported her family - yes, her husband too - by cleaning banks at night.) I have a faith in my future she can not even dream of.  I have a family, and friends, in numbers too large to count.  And in my comparisons to this woman, I am so humbled that I can not put it in words.

Months ago I wrote of whales, how they were a sign sent to me to tell me of the shifts towards wonderful things in my life.  Well, yesterday, a beautiful 80 year old soul was sent to remind me of my good fortune, of the gifts in my life, and how I need to honor those gifts, and not squander them.

Thank you, universe, for sending me this beautiful person, for making sure I knew her story, for reminding me not to get trapped in my own narrative.  I am grateful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I could get used to this

Being happy, that is.  I could get used to being happy.

The smallest things have been making me happy.

Sitting around a fire pit with friends drinking wine makes me delirious.
Going through a neglected closet and organizing it makes me conent.
Moving furniture around my home office, feminizing it, gives me pride of ownership.

Bigger things have been making me happy, too.

My job is going better than I hoped for.  I have grand plans, and they are coming true, a bit ahead of schedule.
Balancing my checkbook - and it is balancing! - and knowing that I can handle this makes me secure and calm.

But it's even better than that.

I got an email today from Katherine's counselor to follow up from her meeting with Katherine earlier this week.  She said that my daughter was incredibly resilient.  Actually, what she said was, "I assess that she is positive, resilient and able to adjust with an "I can do it" attitude that is genuine. I know I don't need to tell you this, but your daughter has tremendous strengths and has quite a bright future."

My heart is soaring.  Our child counselor is not known for flowery speeches, and while she's warm and positive, her other communications haven't been like this at all.  I respect her immensely, and she has been a true gift for Katherine.  To hear her assessment -which aligns with what I believe I see, but which is I feared too good to be true - just makes my soul sing.

Writing that last bit makes me tear up.  I want to sit here and just absorb it - it's just so GOOD!

I know I'm doing the right stuff.  I feel it deep in my heart, and I feel the blessing of living with integrity in my every step.

I have a neighbor, an old, old woman who speaks with an undecipherable (to me) eastern European accent.  She has a tattoo, a string of numbers, along the inside of her arm; she hides it, but I have seen it peeking out of her shirtsleeves.  I know she has seen hell, and because of that, I believe she knows a thing or two about life.  Earlier today when I was outside taking out the trash into the alley, she came over to talk to me, and though she doesn't know about the divorce (she really is old, and I know it would trouble her, and she has enough troubles of her own so I don't wish to bother her), she spoke to me today.  She said, "Your daughter is so beautiful, and good.  And you are such a good woman, and so kind, and so beautiful.  The Lord has good things ahead for you, I see it, He has good things in store for you.  You have such a happy future."

A crone's blessing is a blessing I will accept with gratitude.

I believe her.

There are good things ahead for me.  I'm just getting started, and I feel my energy returning.  I am becoming who I am meant to be, and it feels so good that I am downright giddy.  I know all about hard days, and months, and decades.  Yes, I know about that.  But I know joy, too, and I am seizing it.

I could really get used to this.  I don't know how long it will last, and I will not predict that.  I will just enjoy it while it's here.

Katherine and I are watching Netflix "Blue Planet" together, enjoying a treat of take-out so that we can have a down night and just be together.  She's curled up on her favorite beanbag chair, and I'm on the loveseat next to her.  We've been having good adventures, we've been having wonderful times together, but tonight we are having a wonderful time doing nothing but veging.  Usually, I frown at TV and less-than-healthy take-out, but tonight we're both taking a break, enjoying the treat of it.

Wishing you, whereever you are, an internal peace that matches this one.  And if you're struggling today, and you happen to read this, know that I have been in places of deep, deep struggle, too, and not that long ago, and some of that struggle was so dark I felt I could never find the light again.  But here I am, floating with hope, and content in the moment.  If I can find it, you can too.


Thursday, July 12, 2012


Tonight was the most wonderful gathering.

More than a dozen of my friends - strong, smart, sassy women - showed up to clear the bad energy out of my house.  Some of them were really into it and came with their own smudge sticks and Tibetan bells, and some of them hid behind their wineglasses and likely wondered if I'd really gone around the bend this time.  But all of them love me enough to support me, and they set aside their own feelings and showed up in every way for me.

I asked that nobody ex-bash.  This was not about Bryan, this was about setting free the anger and anxiety of divorce; this was about clearing the house of cancer and ill health, loss of love and divorce.  There are still pictures of Bryan on some of the walls, and I do not wish to eradicate him forever - he is Katherine's father, and holds a place in my life.  This wasn't about him.  This was about reclaiming my space, about opening up my home to goodness and light.

I read a prayer of blessing, and I choked up as I asked for that blessing, and a friend wrapped her arm around me.  Another friend lead us in a little meditation.  And then we smudged the house, rang bells, and sprayed fresh saltwater (gathered from a beach near my house just an hour before) into the corners.  We opened every window, and we lit every candle (and as I am a candle fiend, it's just lucky we didn't light the whole place on fire).

Then we gathered together in one room, and my friends each told me what they wished for me, and what they thought of as they went through my house - happiness, peace, love, laughter, good health, abundance.  And then, feeling the love, I asked anyone who needed to feel the blessings of these strong women to speak up with their own needs.  Several spoke up.  One cried tears for an ill parent, another asked for blessings for her struggling daughter, another for her cancer struggle.  I knew the unspoken prayers of several - other women going through divorce, depression, parenting struggles, career issues.  Even those who were not as "into" it seemed to get into it, and shared warm and wonderful thoughts with me.

One friend pointed out how incredibly supportive and wonderful and strong this group felt, and reminded all of us to draw upon that female power that resides in each of us.

So tonight, with my house fragrant with sage, and the echos of my friends' laughter ringing in my ears (oh yes, there was a great deal of laughter), my belly full of the good food they brought, I feel so much peace.

What a wonderful, wonderful day.  I am truly blessed.  Being held in the love of my girlfriends, allowing myself to unabashedly seek their strength and goodness, and allowing myself to hear their warm words, was a gift to myself.

For anyone going through pain, I recommend this highly.  Do it in the love of friends, and allow the blessings to wash over you.  I did it with a lot of laughter, but make no mistake, mine was a laughter of pure joy,  not lacking in reverence.  Whether you believe in this woo-woo stuff or not, all I can tell you is that I go to bed tonight feeling clearer than I have in ages, and feeling more hopeful than you can imagine.

Let this be a house of peace.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reveling in the victories

I choose to revel in the victories, big and small.

Today I'm reveling because I had a good day at work.  Because I got up early and did some more chores to prep the house for tomorrow's party.  Because tonight I made a home cooked meal, fresh and simple and inexpensive and tasty.  Because I finally hung curtains across the back wall of the kitchen where the windows are large and the evening sun treats the whole kitchen like a greenhouse.  Because I gave Katherine my full attention when she talked to me this evening.  Because I'm following my tight budget and proud of my decisions (even when that means I'm the only one not buying a coffee).

And because tomorrow a dozen or more friends are coming over, and I'm so glad that I have such good friends, and that they're game for my sage burning bell ringing wine drinking party.

I am not afraid to revel in the small.  It's why I threw a last day of chemo party in the chemo ward, and it's why I found myself staring at a cake with boobs (stripper boobs, if you ask me) on it on the day my reconstruction was finished (with tattoos, by the way....boy do boobs look weird with no aereolas) at my finishing breast reconstruction party.  Katherine and I decided today that we might need to do some kind of summer party together, too - we're thinking Hawaiian themed luau (some kind of pulled pork and pineapple burgers.....potluck style to save money?).

Because life is short, and often painful.....but there is so much to celebrate.  I intend to make more time to celebrate than to mourn, and I don't care if it's big or small.  I was proud of myself for making the time to hang my work clothes, pencil skirt and all no less.  Ha!

I've been separated for less than two weeks, but so far, so good.  That calls for a celebration, don't you think?

What are you celebrating?  No matter how hard things are, what are you feeling proud of, and what small victories can you claim as you work your way towards larger victories?

Happy Tuesday, dear readers.  Be well!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Still new

My new life still feels very, very new.  How could it not?

Bryan moved out nine days ago, and I have spent most of those days trying to help the dust of my mind and my house settle from his move.  Every day I make a bit of progress with each, I think, but I have a long way to go.  I don't have enough distance to reflect properly on the whole thing, and I think that may take years to unravel, but here is what I believe:

I am in a better place this week than I was two weeks ago.

Though I find myself wondering why I have such a big house, and how I'll ever accomplish all of the projects it requires (did I mention that my house is nearly 100 years old?), it is actually easier to care for the house with Bryan gone.  I don't need to tiptoe around him to get things done, and I no longer have the expectation that he will help me, so I just do it all.  No arguments, no fuss, I just get it done, and it's satisfying.

I am back at work, and this morning that meant getting up super early to take care of things before waking Katherine up.  Reading to her in her bed to help her wake up in the morning, with my work clothes on, is satisfying, because I'm proud of myself for carving out that time to take care of her and go the extra mile.  I am no longer resentful that Bryan is sleeping in preparation for a day of web surfing and movies and reading, because now it is my choice to do it on my own, and my resentment towards him is replaced with pride towards myself.

Tonight Katherine is at a sleepover at a friend's house, and I found myself alone in the house.  I took the dog for a walk through a natural area, and got to smell the salty kelp smell of the beach, a cool scent even in the warm sun, and I got to see bald eagles at their nest.  I listened to music I like, and I rushed about doing my little home projects, and I sat on the porch swing soaking up the evening air, staring at the shapes in clouds and letting my mind wander.  Nobody stormed around me, nobody was there to say a sharp word.

Katherine's tear stained face is still fresh in my mind, but I stubbornly cling to the belief that somehow, through some miracle, she will come through this okay.  She is amazingly resilient, and I am hopeful, even though her pain is my pain.  I am incredibly grateful that she feels comfortable telling me about her grief, that she will allow me to hold her and comfort her, that she trusts me with her love for her dad.  I will try to honor him, even when he makes it hard for me to do so.

There is a great deal to like about my life.  I feel free, even though there is so much work to do.  I am almost afraid to spend money, and I'm being incredibly cautious about it, but I don't feel deprived.  I love my job.

And on Wednesday, I get to have a dozen girlfriends over to bless my home with laughter and burning sage.

Yes, I believe I'm in a better place.  It comes at a great cost - financial, fatigue, and the loss of the dreams I had for our small family - but it also comes with great gifts.  I feel more hopeful than I have in years, and I can breathe.  Deep, full, breaths of cool evening air after a hot day - bliss.

I will take these good days when they come!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Madly rushing about

I'm very sorry that I haven't been on here very much, and that I haven't taken time to reply to comments or emails.  I am running around in a rather manic fashion, trying to make everything perfect, and as perfection is impossible, this is a doomed mission that keeps me spinning.  I miss being here, but, well, it's been a wild week.

Deep breaths.

So, let's see.  I'm trying to clean the house, from top to bottom, and while I've made great progress there is always so much to do.  And the yard is a bit of a wreck, and I'm determined to get it under control.  And I've been trying to connect with friends.  And most of all, I've been trying to help Katherine to have a good adjustment.

It is a lot easier to remove deadwood from the hydrangea, or to clean out the junk drawer(s), than it is to help a child to adjust to the fact that her mom and dad don't live in the same house any more.

Katherine and I have been doing a wave of adventures, always with one or more of her friends, and frankly it's exhausting both of us, and it's time to pull back a bit.  This weekend we were a couple hundred miles away, visiting friends and Bryan's parents (his dad is in ill health, and I think it critically important that Katherine sees him frequently, knowing full well that every time might be the last), and we even brought one of Katherine's friends with us (my favorite friend, even though I try not to have favorites; she is an easy going kid, kind and sweet and smart and funny, delightful to be around, and she is Katherine's favorite, too).  We went to a noisy pool, we went to a city fountain geared towards wading children, we explored, we hung out.  Today we fought horrendous traffic to get home, but listened to a bit more Vinyl Cafe and half of a book on CD.

But none of this busy activity removes the fact that Katherine is sad.  Her father wasn't here when she got home, and tears rolled down her face - she didn't want to come inside, knowing that Daddy wouldn't be there to greet her.  I held her and let her cry, and felt helpless and guilty and sad, unsure of the right words to make it okay.  It's not okay; words will not make it so.  I sent Bryan a message telling him that Katherine missed him and asking if he could come by to say hi, and he did, and this gave her a great deal of comfort, but I wonder if it's enough.

Bryan has been late to pick Katherine up, and early to drop her off, when it's been his day.  He's on the bench, not working, so he has nothing but time on his hands, and I've been trying to pick up some extra hours at work, but he hasn't wanted "extra" days with his daughter.  (Reminder: he has her every other weekend, so four days per month, plus Wednesday evenings for a couple hours.  This is not a 50/50 agreement by a long shot, and I can't fathom how he'd be okay with so little.)  On his days, he's actually brought her by for a couple of hours with me, unannounced, and at lunch time.  (Seriously?!)  So, when Katherine says, "It's not fair.  I want half with you, and half with Daddy, and I don't see Daddy enough," I am not at all sure what to say.  I give platitudes like "You can call Daddy whenever you like," but it makes me ache for her because she is bright and can see that she just doesn't spend much time with Dad.

My "vacation" is over, and I'm exhausted - this hasn't exactly been restful - but I'm back to work tomorrow, and Katherine is bouncing from friend to friend through the week.  Now we get down to the real work of adjusting.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A totally different life

This week has been surreal for me.  Is this really my new life?

I can breathe again. 

I wake up each day in my own home, able to breathe.  There is nobody around the corner to say a sharp word, and nobody scowling at me.  I have danced in the kitchen, both alone, with Katherine, and with Katherine's friends (who were amused at me but also joined me in dancing); I have sung to the music; I have felt joy.  The last two days we've gone to friends' homes to eat, and I was invited to a concert one other night this week.  Katherine had a sleepover here, and there have been playdates galore, which has allowed me to clean and clean and clean and clean.  We spent a day at a pool, and another doing touristy downtown things, and before and after these fun events, I've worked on the house.

I've been doing a little reading about feng shui and space clearing and the like.  This house has witnessed cancer and divorce, and it's time to clear those cobwebs - literal and metaphorical - out of here permanently.  I've been scrubbing and dusting and wiping and organizing and decluttering and recycling and giving away.  I've made big piles for Bryan, and bit by bit they keep leaving.  From the attic to the basement, I've been going through drawers and closets, getting rid of what is no longer useful and organizing what is.  I have mowed the lawn, weeded sections of the yard.  I have created piles of things to donate.  I am making it all *mine*.

This will all lead up to next Wednesday evening, my day without Katherine, when I will have a dozen girlfriends over and we'll burn sage and ring bells and clear out the bad energy, opening up the whole house to love and peace.  The literal cleaning is partially just for cleaning's sake, but it's also to get rid of the bad energy lurking around here.

Sound a little woo-woo for you?  Well, I'll admit, it's a bit over the top and beyond my usual style, but I don't care.  This house has been filled with far too much sadness, and I want it gone.  I don't know what I think about sage, but I do know that ceremony is good for the soul, and that with powerful women around me, saying words of love and kindness, the sage smoke will somehow clear the air.  The house deserves it, and I do, too.

And every minute I think, "Is this really my new life?  Did I finally get here?  Working at a job I love, with my amazing daughter, surrounded by friends, in a wonderful community, filled with possibility?  Can I really relax into my new life, no longer filled with arguments and anger from a man I do not understand, and instead, free to breathe and be and seek as much joy as the world has to offer?"

I feel incredibly fortunate, as if I've been pulled back from the cliff's edge.  I so nearly fell off, but I'm on solid ground again, and this is where I need to be.

It's too soon to see just how tight the finances will be, it's too soon to see how life working full time as a truly single mom will be (I've been off work this week on purpose; I knew Katherine would need me and I knew that there would be a great deal to get done).  There are many challenges ahead.

But glad I am to be in this new, strange place, this new life of mine.


I have a thousand stories to tell about the move, and Bryan's odd reactions, and the love of girlfriends who have held me up.  I still can't get over how filthy and disorganized Bryan's spaces were.  I can't get over how much work I did to make this easier on Bryan and on Katherine, and how Bryan is still rude to me.  On how Katherine is missing her dad when he's away, and how hard it is to  know how to comfort her; and yet, how well she is doing, and how sweet she is with me.

I'm so very tired, but still, I feel refreshed.  I am so grateful for this new chance at life.  It's an adjustment, but it is my life, and I am grateful for it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I really don't know what to say, or what I'm thinking, now that this is beginning to settle in.

But I feel happy!  Slightly asphixiated by the fumes coming out of the bathroom now, but happy.  I'm tackling little projects around the house, and though it's going to take ages and ages to get everything into order entirely, it's already signficantly more usable and attractive than it was before.  And Katherine was home for a couple of hours today while Bryan got odds and ends together, and she was filled with happy stories and still glad to see me, and she didn't appear to feel any conflict about transitioning between the two places.

Now, is that some kind of miracle or what?!

This morning I did a little volunteer project that I'd signed up for months ago.  I considered bailing, but that's not who I want to be.  I got up, I went, and I felt good about it.

Happy.  I could get used to feeling happy.

And in a half hour, Katherine and one of her friends will both come here and there will be a sleepover with a movie and popcorn.  The young friend's mom is my friend, and so she and I will have a glass of wine and catch up upstairs while the girls play downstairs.


Waking up alone

This morning, I woke up alone.  No girl just down the hall, no grumpy man in the basement.  It is the weirdest thing! 

I know that the girl is well, that she likely slept in the bed that I made for her with bedding that I helped her to choose, then had a bowl of cereal (cereal, milk, and honey, all purchased by me then packed then moved then unpacked by me) in the bowl that I made sure got packed, unpacked, washed, and put in the cupboard, and that soon afterwards she will go to the dresser that I found and purchased and picked up and helped move for her, and then pull out clothes that she and I chose together and that I packed and placed in that dresser for her.  Hopefully she will remember to brush her teeth, with the new toothbrush I got her.

And maybe she won't think of me even one time during all of that, and that doesn't matter one whit.  What matters to me is that I know I've done all I can, that she is warm and safe and comfortable, and that I've helped to create a space for her to love her dad. 

Soooo....not being worried about her frees me up to relax.

And vacuum, and move furniture, and make things feel like mine.  And look at the countertop where nobody got up in the middle of the night to create snacks - no crumbs! no spills! no dirty dishes!

Sometimes it's the little things.  Like removing a sports figure picture from the family room.  That felt unreasonably good.

Sometimes it's better not to overthink things, and today, I'm not overthinking, I'm focusing on the little stuff.  And it feels really, really good.