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.