5 Lessons Learned From My 3-Year-Old Self

Just yesterday,it seems, I was three, toddling around my grandparents’ property in Idaho; following my grandfather everywhere and chasing the neighbors chickens from across the road. These were happy, carefree days. I was surrounded by people I loved, in a location I loved, doing the things I loved, whatever that is at three, and nothing in my world was amiss. I looked forward to each moment. In fact, I was too busy enjoying each moment I had no concern for the next. My old mind now recalls those happy times as the endless days of summer. There were no rainy days both literally and figuratively.

Fast forward 50 years and the landscape dramatically shifts. I’m no longer three, no longer quite so carefree. My free-spirited happy-go-lucky three-year-old self morphed into a middle-aged woman with worries. There are wonderful summer days aplenty in my 50-year-old life. There are also many, many overcast and rainy days too.

When did I grow up? When did I take on the responsibilities and cares that fill my days? How and when did I lose that sense of existing only for the moment without worrying about or anticipating the next? Continue reading

I Almost Got Struck By Lightening While You Were Gone

This post is one I am moving over from my other blog, Welcome To CABsPlace, where I am pretty certain I will not continue writing.  That is…unless…someone can come up with a really good reason why I should write two blogs that mostly deal with the same stuff.  This particular post, speaks of doing the single parenting job with four kids and how sometimes, for no seemingly apparent reason, you just encounter turbulence.  I wrote this post originally in June, 2008 and have made only minor revisions. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer 2009 033 A sunny summer June Monday morning started out peacefully but soon deteriorated into complete and total chaos, then, just as suddenly as it erupted, the chaos evaporated. This kind of disturbance happens routinely in my home and I am often perplexed as to why or how it starts and what to do about it when it does. Today, I did nothing. That seemed to work.

I awoke, as I normally do to the peaceful music of the birds outside my window. These wonderful sounds were angrily disrupted by the grumbling, groaning, clanking, banging noises of the garbage truck makings its rounds on the block behind mine. My oldest daughter, who had rolled in well after midnight last night from an out-of-town choir tour, continued to sleep undisturbed. Now, she doesn’t usually share the bed with me, but this last week she was gone and her room became the laundry room. When she returned in the wee hours of the morning, I was unwilling to move the laundry and my bed, so though I hated the thought of enduring the battle of the bed sheets and her snoring, I suggested she just crash in my bed tonight. I figured if it got bad enough, I’d just go sleep on the couch.

The night passed uneventfully, meaning I slept without disturbance, until around 5:30 or 6, my youngest decided she wanted to crawl in with us. Once cozily sandwiched in between her older sister and me she drifted off into blissful sleep. I rolled over to try to catch a few more winks myself. That’s when the fun began.

j0422197 I was just drifting of into some nice REM sleep when the warm blankets were abruptly pulled off me. I was startled awake by the chill morning air and the loss of the covers. My youngest, sweet cherub that she is, had become too warm and kicked off all the blankets in her sleep. I glanced across the vast bed to my oldest. She was still sleeping soundly. So was my youngest for that matter. The kicking clearly bothered no one but me. I grumpily pulled the covers back up, rolled back over and went back to sleep again. I’m not sure how long I was sleeping before the covers were suddenly pulled off me again. This time, knowing it was my daughter’s kicking problem, I just reached out grabbed the blankets and pulled them back up over my shoulders. I burrowed down into the bed cinching the covers close around my neck. I closed my eyes. I waited. Sure enough, it was only a matter of a few moments when my daughter’s began flailing in an attempt to rid her body of the constricting sheets. That was it for me. I slid out of bed and padded into the kitchen to start the coffee. I was officially up for the day.

Connecting through Random Sound Bites

Later that morning, as I was putting away dishes, my daughter (Number 2) was mixing up pancake batter when an argument arose between my son (Number 3), and my youngest daughter (Number 4) about who woke up first this morning.

I mean, what’s up with that and who cares?

Then there was the confusion about how Number 1’s dirty clothes got mixed in with the clean clothes in spite of the fact that she’s been gone for a week. This then moved into a discussion (okay, it was really an argument) about moving the family computer out of my oldest daughter’s (Number 1) room to the kitchen/dining area where I am now typing on it. Never mind that all school year she complained about having it in her room because she needed to study and no one else was allowed in there to use the computer while she was studying. Sigh. Then there’s the breakfast table conversation which went something like this:

Number 1: I know for sure I’m not going to Elite Private School in That Big City by Puget Sound.

Me: Oh, why not?

Number 1: I’m not so sure I like the city. (She’d just returned from a week long trip to That Big City.)

Me (raising my eyebrows internally): Well, that’s definitely a consideration.

Number 1 (to Number 2): I got some really neat things while I was gone. (Note the random and sudden change in conversational direction.)

j0422455 Number 4: Pass the syrup.

Number 2 to Number 1: Did you get me anything?

Number 4: Is the first gallon of milk already gone?!

Me: No, it’s right here.

Number 1 to Number 2: No, but you can use some of it if you want. (Referencing the stuff she got on her trip but which was not for her sister.)

Me: Number 2, I don’t think we have enough pancakes here. Does anyone want some more? We can mix some up.

Number 2: You mean, Number 2, can mix some more up.

Number 1: Number 2, are you going to be in Youth Ensemble next year?

Number 2: While you were gone I almost got struck by lightning.

I kid you not, that is how the conversation went. That is how the morning went. One random thought after another. Sound bites of our lives, disconnected but fitting together.  The heartbeat of a family simply comfortable with being together.  It sounded like no one was listening to anyone else, but that wasn’t the case.  It seemed everyone was content just to say something, anything even if no one responded to it.  It is enough to make the thinking adult go nearly mad.  Except that somehow, almost miraculously it seems, there was actual dialogue and forward progress on those daily activities that keep a household afloat. Have you ever stopped and listened to the flow of the daily conversation in your home?  Close your eyes for just a second and listen.  What do you hear? Keep your eyes closed, now what do you see?

Expect Occasional Turbulence

Number 2 did tell about her close encounter with lightning, we did finish breakfast fairly uneventfully, the laundry is getting folded and put away, in spite of Number 2 and Number 3 creating an alliance against Number 4. Currently, Number 3 is attempting to avoid changing the sheets on his bed by suddenly developing an interest in reading, Number 1 is agonizing through her allergies by doing the dishes with Kleenex packed firmly in each nostril and Number 4 is refusing to let me type one more word until I give her permission to scoop the dead worm she found out of the pool. None of this would be a problem except now the older kids are accusing Number 4 of digging up the worm and putting it in the pool instead of finding it already there. Hmmm, how would a worm get in the pool on its own anyway? And then, Number 4, when passing through the sliding screen door knocks the screen completely out of its tracks, you’d have thought she was struck by lightening.

There are days in a family that pass by fairly uneventfully, like when all the kids are gone to their other parents’ homes or spending time away with friends. There are other days, when we are all here and things still pass fairly uneventfully but that seems to occur only if I let the kids do whatever they want and make no demands on them. Since that is not  our reality, it is more common that there is going to be some turbulence at points along the way. I know this. I understand this. I expect and accept this. But I don’t always like it.l_60fb08cb5f694286b3a6544b7f9c3f53

At this very minute, there seems to be an unofficial cease fire and things are calm. I wonder how long this will last? It baffles me how the tone in a home can go from blissfully serene to completely insane in seconds and then just as suddenly back to peaceful. It is not unlike being struck by lightening. Sometimes in family life, it feels like you end up dead too.

On the other hand, it can also leave you with the feeling of being more alive than ever.

Rethinking The Holidays

j0431277 Around Halloween, I announced to my kids that the 2 Christmases (one in each of their two homes) that they’ve known the last three years wasn’t going to happen this year.  I can’t afford it and they don’t need a massive haul or even a minor one at both houses. I told them I am rethinking how I do Christmas in the “off years”; those years where they are at their other parent’s house for the holiday and I get them for New Year’s.  In the same breath I also mentioned I wasn’t even going to decorate this year for the holidays.  “After all, I explained, you will all be at your dad’s and it is just going to be me.” 

Number 2 piped up sarcastically with, “Yeah, because Christmas can’t happen if there are no presents!”

Out of the mouths of babes, I guess.  Her comment stopped me cold.  She wasn’t saying she was unhappy about the no presents deal at our house this year. That surprised me.  She was basically expressing distaste at my perspective that if we can’t do “presents” then let’s just scrap Christmas altogether. She nailed me, and rightly so.

I could have hugged her on the spot.  Even now, the thought that a sixteen-year-old young lady (who really loves getting presents as much as the next person) can have the insight to see that the holidays are about so much more than the stuff brings tears to my eyes.  The fact that she was also more disappointed about not decorating than not getting presents also impressed me.

j0434131 I’ve worked hard the last three years and I’ve plowed through a mountain of debt, that by all rights wasn’t mine, in order to avoid bankruptcy and have a more financially secure and debt-free life.  The journey in many ways completely sucks, but the lessons, are valuable.  I’ve come a long way.  I’ve learned how much of my former existence was based on appearances and image instead of what really matters.  While living my former existence, I knew this was true and I hated it at the time.  What I didn’t realize was how deeply ingrained the obsession with image for image’s sake was in my life and how deeply stuck I was in it all.  From my views on money to what’s important in parenting and in relationships, I’ve had to scrutinize my thinking and real beliefs about it all.  I’ve experienced so many occasions where I’ve been knocked flat on my figurative seat in the last three years: emotionally, financially, relationally. I’ve found myself in places I NEVER thought I’d ever be.  Places where in my former life I looked down my nose at people in the very situations I now found myself.  It was more than humbling.  At each of these times, I’ve had to do some serious soul searching and remind myself of what was really important.  I’ve been shocked and horrified on many occasions to learn how really shallow my thinking has been. This recent episode with my daughter was another such moment of truth.

I am now once again  rethinking The Holidays and my approach toward them.

j0422249 For a number of years now, it has bothered me that my children can spend Christmas Day at one parent’s house and get a big haul of presents then go to the other parent’s house after Christmas for a second Christmas Day that year.  I’ve hated the temptation to give in to that desire to “compete” with the other parent in the gift giving arena, even though I’ve been completely unable to.  This inability, instead of creating angst for me, ended up providing freedom and relief.  Because I don’t have it to spend and everyone knows it (meaning the kids), the expectation for my participation in these areas is lowered.  That’s okay by me. I have debt to pay off and I am doing it.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and so far it hasn’t been an oncoming train.  I need to maintain my resolve and stay focused. I just can’t continue doing what I’ve always done at The Holidays where gifts are concerned.  If can’t pay cash, it can’t be purchased. Simple as that.

My daughter’s words struck a chord in me.  In the end, she’s totally spot on.  Christmas is about celebrating love and the people we invest our love in.  It is about hope, joy, peace and all good things.  It’s about being with the people you love not out giving the the people you no longer live with. Kids understand about what is real and what is genuine. None of this has anything to do with getting and there are gifts that can be given that don’t come done up in ribbons and bows with a bill attached. I needed to be reminded of this.

Thanksgiving 2009 040 This weekend, two days after Thanksgiving and a good three weeks before I usually can muster the energy or the spirit, we decorated our entire house for Christmas.  In fact, I was in the back room typing a blog post while Number 2,  was out in the garage, climbing ladders and pulling down the infamous plastic red Rubbermaid boxes.  She pulled out the Christmas tree with the help of her brother (Number 3) and together she and Number 3 and Number 4 began putting the tree together.  I came in just in time to help shape the fake tree.  I really didn’t do much except instruct and that, only occasionally. They got out the decorations and put them on the tree, set up the stocking hangers with stockings, and arranged all our other decorations.  They had a blast doing it and by dinnertime we had a house that in spite of it’s diminutive size looked festive and cheerful.  Number 1 even had a couple of her friends over and the lot of us listened to Christmas music, played board games and ate pizza by the fire.  It was a cozy, warm and happy time and it cost me nothing but a few minutes of my time and a few dollars for pizza delivery (something I never ever do). It created a wonderful happy and positive memory for my children and I.  I could be wrong, but I think it kind of says something when a college child chooses to bring her boyfriend to our little home instead of going out somewhere for the evening. I couldn’t have done that at her age.  I’m pleased that this is the kind of home we’ve built.  I’m pleased that my daughter got on my case and called me out this time.  I’m glad the decorations are up and we have over a month to enjoy them.  

Thanksgiving 2009 068So in an effort to reinvent a more sane lifestyle, where competition with the ex’s and buckling to human greed isn’t the driving force and resisting the feeling that I am what I can purchase, I am rethinking things. I want to work on creating more memories like this Thanksgiving weekend.  I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea on the years that the kids are with me for Christmas to have the traditional (though modest) celebration with gifts and on the off years, get one gift for all the kids to share…like a computer or a Wii, or whatever we come up with together? During the off times, those times when the children aren’t residing with me, I’m playing with an idea, a dream really of hosting a party for single parents who are without their children for the holidays. Maybe we could meet together at my place, go caroling, donate money or canned goods to a local charity and then afterward come back to my place for eggnog, wassail and games.  I don’t know. It’s a dream. But I’m wondering about it. This just might be the year to make that happen since I will, after all, be alone for The Holidays.   Thanksgiving 2009 064

I’m thinking, especially after this Thanksgiving Weekend, where my kids had their friends over for games and food and had a great time, that maybe that’s the kind of memory I should work on creating more and more rather than stressing about gifts.  It will cost me in terms of energy and time, but not in terms of money.  It’s something I want to do.

After all, The Holidays are what we make them not what our budget makes them or what the presents under the tree make them. 

What great ideas do you have for celebrating on a shoestring and making the season less about the stuff and more about the people you love? 

P.S.  After reading this post to Number 2, she has asked me if she can have a Christmas party here.  In her words, “I’m so excited to have a Christmas party!”  Yeah!  Stay tuned!

Consulting: Famine or Feast?

It’s feast or famine isn’t it?  Nothing is more true for anyone than the self-employed freelancer or consultant.  I knew this from others’ reports.  This week, I’m finding it out first hand for myself. 

No, I haven’t quit my day job. I can’t do that quite yet.  But some good stuff is happening to The Wild Mind in this arena this month. 

I just picked up three additional speaking engagements this last week.  All three of them strategically significant for me and two of them paying gigs.  The nice little caveat is that throughout the course of the week, I also found out that I’m being requested for 15 additional engagements during this school year.  Those 15 come with additional opportunities to train additional staff to work with me.  It also is compensated at a rate much nicer than my current day job pays.  And…I don’t have to quit my day job to do any of this either.

As most know who have tried to make the self-employed  consultant switch at some time or another, there can be a time when you have to work two careers until the income from the one is steady and substantial enough to supplant the other.  This can be exceptionally demanding and strenuous depending upon the nature of the work involved and the duration of the transition.   Well, unless you are able to take out loads of money in small business loans, which I can’t do or unless you have loads of extra resources to put to the venture, which I do not  have.  Nope, I simply have to buck up and do it the hard way.  The gradual transition way.  The take-every-speaking-gig-I-can way.  The learn-as-you-go way.  The these-are-the-days-I’ll-look-back-on-fondly way. 

It’s been a tough couple of weeks and I’ve gotten a real taste of what this could be like.  Moving in spurts instead of the steady day in and day out thing.  The income will also move in spurts and that takes a bit of getting used to, I’m told.  Then there are the times, like this evening, when I should be curled up on the couch watching a movie with my littlest munchkin but instead, here I am.  Putting the finishing touches on a reworked presentation, making sure my notes are in order, my presentations, documents and screenprints are aligned, and that my outfit is clean, ironed and perfectly coordinated. 

Instead, I’m going to take a break right now after posting this and chill in the hot tub with The Peanut Munchkin.  Then I’ll cuddle up with her, let her fall asleep to a movie of her choice on the couch in front of the fire with her kittens curled up next to her, get up and return to my fine tuning of tomorrow morning’s presentation.  Tomorrow afternoon and evening are all hers!  And that’s how I suppose it will likely be.  That’s what I’ve been told. That’s how it seems to be shaking down. 

Spurts, seasons, ebbs, flow, famine and feast…life!

Blonde Moments

I’m not a news junkie.  I barely keep up on the current events. By keeping up, I mean, I’m lucky to find out something happened within a week of it actually happening.  I’m also not someone who follows the lifestyles of the rich and famous or the rich and political and famous.  I know I should be more informed, but, really…I could care less who slept with who and who did what where under who’s desk and why.  Nor do I care how many of my tax dollars were spent on a designer dress to adorn the current first lady, if even my tax dollars are going to that.  I should be more informed about things that are going on, and in other posts I’ve alluded to why I’m not (i.e., because I think the media in this country is warped, slanted, biased and anything but objectively informing us of anything).  Anyhow, I even reached new heights of uninformed blondeness for me today.

Really.  Sometimes I let those blonde roots show just a little too much.

Today my son was watching the news (yeah, my 14-year-old son watches it…never mind that I rarely do) and he noticed that Senator Edward Kennedy died.

“Oh wow!” he exclaimed.  “Ed Kennedy died?”  Like he couldn’t believe it but also like he knew who this was.

“Yeah,” I replied.  “Do you even know who he is?”

“Yeah, he’s the brother of…” he started to reply.  He seriously was going to tell me all about him!  I was floored.

“The brother of all those other Kennedys who died,” I impulsively interrupted. Somehow I felt I just had to know more than my son about this. 

My son just rolled his eyes, shook his head and clicked the remote to another channel.  “Mom, sometimes you are so blonde!” he sighed. 

Geez.  Now that was impressive.

Thoughts, Ramblings and Miscellaneous Conclusions

This last week was pretty great for me.  First off, it zipped by in a flash.  I love weeks like that, especially since the weekend is really becoming more and more my favorite time of the week.  It isn’t that I dislike work, it is that I dislike not being able to be home, control (or not) my own schedule and just doing whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Actually saying that expresses how really spoiled I am because I have a job where, for the most part, I am completely in charge.  From the beginning to the end of my time with kids, I pretty much call the shots.  I mean, it doesn’t really get much better than that. 

I don’t get to choose when I can show up to work though and sadly, in my location, I must report to work at 7:30 a.m.  This is the toughest part of my job, since I am not a morning person…well…at least not that way.  I also don’t get to choose the curriculum I teach or the expectations for achievement that the kids must meet or the meetings I must attend afterschool which erode my planning time, but I pretty much have complete control over how I structure my work environment, my schedule, my student’s schedule’s and so on.  It really isn’t that rough. 

The rough part of my life comes in trying to have a social life during the school year.  This probably wouldn’t be so tough either, if I didn’t also have to juggle the demands and taxi around the social schedules of four young people.  Then add to that the fact that people must eat and that ends up, somehow being my job.  If that alone wasn’t enough, groceries must occasionally be purchased, oh yes, and laundry done and a house cleaned.  I used to pay to have the house cleaned and the yardwork done, but that was before the divorce.  Sigh. 

Anyway, I am not complaining about any of this mind you, because while it is crazy enough and hectic enough, none of it is what I would consider difficult.  Well, at least, not until I decide to try to add a social life to the already overly full lifestyle plate I have going during the school year. 

So, this last week provided me the opportunity to get away from all that busy-ness for three nights and two days and drop into a different kind of busy.  I walked a million city blocks and that’s no small feat when you carry a laptop that is about ten pounds.  I ate great food that was healthy and which I neither had to prepare or clean up after.  I did really nothing I didn’t want to do.  Yes, I attended a conference and was involved in some pretty lengthy sessions where my butt got sore from sitting so long…but they were interesting and well worth my time.  Each one I attended was so relevant.  That alone is kind of amazing since most of these kinds of events can be a hit and miss endeavor.  This one was not.

The off times, after conference workshops, meetings with colleagues and dinners, provided me time to walk through the city streets three blocks to my humble lodging accommodations.  The wet misty rain felt refreshing and invigorating.  Of course, after two saketinis everything felt refreshing and invigorating.  Upon reaching the hotel room, I would slip into my comfy loungewear and slippers, curl up on the big armchair, turn on the laptop and begin my personal thinking on the white screen. Sometimes when I do this, I create more questions and puzzlements (is that even a word?) for myself than I solve problems, but this week was unusual.  I actually arrived at some conclusions for myself.

Here are my conclusions listed in random order and not in any particular order of priority:

  • I decided, I really don’t want to date or spend so much time on dating.  This isn’t to say that if someone really nice just appeared that I wouldn’t go out with him, but I’m certainly not going to put my profiles up and spend anytime checking emails or trying at all.  It is simply too exhausting, especially during the school year. 
  • I decided that the reason I don’t want to date is not because it has been such a disappointing experience…because it really hasn’t.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about dealing with other people and I’ve grown and changed some after every experience.  This is a good thing.  The real reason I don’t really want to work so hard at it is this:  I have other things I want to do more than I want to do that. 
  • I really want to work on getting myself in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my home in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my yard in shape. 
  • I want to write.
  • I have some serious work to do spiritually, but I don’t really know what that means yet.
  • I was serious when I wrote my New Year’s resolutions and I aim to accomplish them, however late a start I’ve had.
  • I mostly want to enjoy my children when they are with me without feeling guilty that I haven’t called someone or don’t want to go out on a given night.
  • I can’t do any of these things and really devote myself to a “serious” relationship.  Most people are uninterested in just seeing me (or anyone) every other weekend and during the school year that is really all the time I have, unless I really start working on this house and then I won’t even have that.  So, the choice for me really boiled down to an either or situation.  Yeah, it would be great to have a guy who was interested in hanging out and doing projects together, but even when the I.J. and I tried that it was uncomfortable because I felt like that was letting him a little too far into my private world and I wasn’t quite ready to go there.  I know I’m not explaining that well but it was weird.  On top of that, most men I’ve met, seem to feel like I want to take advantage of their expertise, like all I’m looking for is a handy man instead of a companion.  Heck, I’d pay them to show me how to do the tasks I don’t know how to do.  But whatever, I’m tired of that little weirdness too.  I’ll just do the stuff myself and go get advice from online or the Home Depot or Lowe’s or something.  Seriously. 
  • I have places I want to go.  I can now completely see the possibility of going to these places on my own and loving every minute of it and I won’t have to haggle with anyone about which destination to choose first.
  • I  see directions I want to head with my career that are going to involve some extra time, effort and thought on my part at least at first.  This is also not something a deeply involved relationship can sustain unless the person is really willing to accept that.  Best probably to just not go there for now. 
  • Probably sounds like I am retreating and avoiding life, in a way.  Maybe this is true. I hope not.  I can really tend toward introversion and the recluse lifestyle, but I am not committing to never ever going on a date.  I’m just not going to work so hard at it.  At least, that’s how I feel this week.
  • Maybe, though, as much as I love to identify with Wonder Woman, the reality is I just can’t do it all.  And, since the stuff on the home and career front seems a bit more pressing than the stuff on the romance front (since there really is no stuff on the romance front), I choose that. 

Anyway, here I go to pull my online dating profiles completely down.  I am finally free!!!  And I am really, really very okay with that. At least, for this week.  😉

A 1 Reisling Day

Random thoughts today with no time or energy to develop any of them.

I got the scoop from Mexico Friend on the moonlit first date.  Wow!  It’s a steamy one.  Watch for it in the next week.  I’m going to take time with that to make sure I get that just right. 

Mexico Friend and Husband showed me their pictures. Of course, they look like they are models for some travel magazine or something. And, yes, it was paradise.  It’s not fair that two people can be married that long and just as cute and as in love as when they had the moonlit first date.  I want that.  Is it too late for me.  I think it might be.  But I’ll write their story anyway and love every minute of it because it is such a happy story…and because they promised to have me over for Becks beer so they could tell me more stories. 

ReGifting Friend came to work really under the weather.  She is also very cute.  Makes me sick, even when she’s sick as a dog she looks great.  I hope she feels better.  She really is a trouper…and such a great friend…even though I’ve only known her a short time…she’s in my Friendship Hall of Fame for sure.

Good Company this weekend was great company, but I suspect he’s still searching.  It’s not anything he’s said, it is just that I get this vibe that well, maybe he’s only kinda sorta into me, but if something better came along then….sigh….

Taught a really crap lesson in math today and had a somewhat disrupted reading time today.  It exhausted me.  Not horrible in these areas today, but not my best performances ever either.

The plumbing in the kid’s bathroom is not only not repaired, it is now running like a small, steady steam.  Okay, here comes one more expense.  I sure hope not.

The kids left the dogs in the house today which always spells disaster and smells like it too.  I was not happy.  In addition, after millions of sessions explaining exactly what I expect from them each morning (pick up after yourself, specifically, do your own effing dishes) I came home to a sink full of dishes and dog disaster greeting my eyes and burning my nostrils.  I was not a happy camper when I arrived home.

On an up note, the entire bottle of Reisling that I downed tonight was absolutely delicious!

Yep, that’s how my day was…a one bottle Reisling day. 

Hey, all’s well that ends well right?

God’s Gone To Meddling–He’s Gotten Involved In My Love Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about the romantic notion that there is “someone for everyone”.  I’ve also been thinking about the notion I’ve had from my youth that I really don’t need to spend my time looking for Mr. Right.  I should just go about my life and he (if he indeed exists) will somehow magically surface. Well, that is a very oversimplified way of stating the idea that if there is someone out there for me, I do not need to spend any energy looking for him, he will come to me.  Instead, I should be spending my energy being the best me I can be, pursuing my own interests, being authentically me and Prince Charming will see me from afar or from one of those areas of interest I’m pursuing and come riding in on his mighty steed (or his whatever fuel efficient economy car) to woo me and carry me away to happily-ever-after land.

 

Now, 30 years later and I’m thinking that these ideas need revision.  First, we don’t know for sure that there is “someone for everyone”. How would we prove this…if such an idea were provable?  If two people were born on opposite ends of the earth and were “meant” for each other how would anyone, including the two in question know?  How would we know if Person A were meant for Person B? What would happen if Person A died before they could meet?  Would Person C then become the perfect match for Person B or is Person B flat out of luck?  No, we cannot determine for sure that there is indeed someone for everyone.  In fact, if we just look at the birth statistics in any given year or series of years we find that one or the other of the sexes born in a given year, outweighs the other.  In romance, there is simply not a clean scientific one-to-one correspondence.

 

The idea that if I just go about doing my life, Mr. Prince will appear, is also a theory that needs revision.  Why?  Because, it made sense when I was young, beautiful, childless, and had my entire life ahead of me and the possibilities for how I could spend my time as well as who I could spend my time with were virtually unlimited.  Such is not the case in post-40 single-mom-of-four-kids world.  The possibilities for how I can spend my time are now relegated to working to keep a roof over our heads, parenting the said four children, eating, sleeping, grocery shopping, housecleaning, laundry, yard work, and paying bills.  There isn’t much time left over, except for every other weekend and about five weeks the rest of the year that I can just do whatever I want. In addition, the possibilities concerning who I spend my time with, have significantly diminished since those carefree college days where the men-to-women ratio was 7 men to every 1 woman.  Add that reality to the fact that I now know myself better and have been shaped by all the experiences in the last 46 years.  I’m now far more scrutinizing and, yes, picky, about who I spend my time with, let alone, who I might consider becoming romantically involved with. To further complicate the situation, I have my children to consider.  My children have already experienced the worst of the blended family scenario and it was so abusive and bad that we had to get out.  It failed.  We aren’t ready to repeat that experience any time ever.  The nuances and intricacies of any relationship that would work for me and mine, are complicated indeed. The old romantic notions just don’t fit or work anymore.

 

Yes, these romantic notions need to be completely revised, or maybe rewritten altogether.  Hmmm, possibly, even discarded outright. I think it is possible to make an intelligent, considered and deliberate decision regarding who I become romantically involved with.  However, I also know that it is completely in the realm of possibility for me to overanalyze things and thus completely miss a good thing were it to come my way. I’m actually more concerned that this second option would happen.  I fear I will find so many reasons not to invest, instead of seeing that the person in front of me fits me like hand and glove.  It might feel right but I’ll pick it to death on the intellectual end and walk away.

 

It is along these lines that I’ve been also thinking more about God.

 

I have always been part of the Christian religion.  However, I have not always been a Christian and most of the time I have been a Christian, I have not been very spiritual. In fact, I’ve struggled to be a “good Christian”.  I’ve struggled so much, I finally decided to give it up.  But that’s another story altogether. I am not a religious person.  I do nothing out of “religion”, however, spiritually, I ascribe to the Christian principals as communicated in the Bible.  I disagree most of the time with what the established Christian church (regardless of denomination) does, simply because I feel that the church today has fallen into the same trap the religious leaders in Jesus’ day fell into:  they are all about building their own little power kingdoms and not at all about true communion with God.  I’ll be the first to say that my problems and failures in my own spiritual journey cannot be blamed on the effectiveness or inadequacy of any human religious institution, however, I can say that more often than not, the “church” has done more to isolate me from God than to draw me near to Him. This should not be.  So…after a great many years of involvement, over-involvement to the point of collapse almost, I spun wildly out of control spiritually, made some very foolish mistakes and landed myself on a very long sabbatical from “the ministry”.  My head was messed up, my heart was broken and my spirituality was at an all time low.  That was the state of affairs for me as I entered my second marriage, which failed, for a number of reasons, none of which, added to my spiritual health.

 

So, I took a break from all things religious.

 

For a long time.  For about two years now, maybe almost three.

 

And…surprisingly…now that the human voices of guilt, condemnation and disapproval have faded to silence, I think, I actually think I can hear God’s voice.

 

Okay, now, this is not the venue to discuss the validity or otherwise of the existence of God.  That’s not my purpose here.  Long ago, I mucked through all that for myself.  I was not brought up in a religious home though I did get some church in my younger years. If anything, my parents were staunchly agnostic almost moving toward atheistic.  They hated religion and were very intellectual.  I’m sure I’m an embarrassment to them. I know what that world view holds.  I know.  I grew up in it and was immersed in it just as fundamentalist right wing religious zealots immerse their children in their world view.  I didn’t rebel. I just watched and looked and considered. But this is not the venue to go into that particular journey either.  Suffice it to say that it seemed more conceivable to me that this intricate and finely tuned universe we live in was carefully and thoughtfully designed rather than originating by random chance and thus, I took a step and opted in favor of a loving, creator God who desired relationship with me as opposed to the futile thinking that we are here by chance and we die and become food for worms (which we do but that’s only because we no longer have need of our physical houses).  I made this decision at the ripe old age of 18.  I haven’t been much of a “super Christian”, but I haven’t regretted the choice either.  I believe there is a loving God, who desires intimate connection with humanity and not just humanity, but each one of us as individuals.  He wants to orchestrate wonderful things for us that we cannot imagine, but He has by His own design limited himself in some ways.  He will not force Himself on us.

 

So it is into this context that over the last two years and more specifically over the last six to eight months that spirituality and my dating life have converged.  The questions I have about having never really been in love, wondering if there is indeed someone “out there” for me even at this “final hour”, how do I go about meeting him and what part God would play in all this ultimately boil down to trust.  The issue, really, for me, is trust.  If I believe there is a personal God out there who loves me and cares about me as an individual and not just as part of a collective whole why am I not willing to trust Him with my love life? 

 

Would he care about my love life?

 

I think so.  Great theological question.  Also a lengthy topic for another blog, but yes, I think God cares about this element of our humanity.  God says it is not good for us to be alone.  He’s a God of community and commitment, so, yes, I think He’d care about my love life.  And, I know I have issues of trust originating from way back when and continuing on to the present day.  It is hard for me to totally trust that someone truly cares about me without having an agenda.  So, of course, I shift that over to my dealings with God.  Trusting God has been tough for me.  Not trusting God has landed me in a heap o’ trouble that I think I could well have avoided, but I don’t know for sure since I haven’t ever really trusted God and observed the results.

 

So, the other day, somewhere out of nowhere, that still, small voice whispered to me as I was frantically going about my daily business.  It was such a different thought that it stopped me cold, “So, after two failed marriages, an active dating life with no interesting possibilities for a relationship that looks like it might go the distance, a bunch of people wasting your time then going silent, don’t you think you might try trusting me with your love life?”

The question stopped me in my tracks.

Trust God with my love life? I almost laughed.

It would be much more dramatic if I could say that I thought that was absurd.  I did not.  I did not think anything of it.  I just thought about the concept.  Trust God with my love life?

Then I thought, “Wait. If God is who He says and who I say I believe He is then He most definitely cares about my love life. There are plenty of examples in the Bible where God orchestrated romance on behalf of the individuals involved and He had nothing or very little to work with and He had human beings screwing it up all along the way. Hmmm,”  I continued in my thoughtful reverie, “If I believe what I say I believe about God then I must put Him to the trust test. I must trust Him with my love life or my spirituality is not worth the energy it takes to explain it.

 

So, my response to God?

 

Just this, “Okay, God, I’m going to trust you with my love life because if I can’t trust you with that then I can’t trust you with anything, but please don’t let that mean that my only options are those emasculated mamby pamby fundamentalist nuts whose Christianity keeps them from speaking English and whose chief desire is finding a woman to wait on them, because after all ‘by God, they are the man of the household’. God, just give me a man who is into you, not hung up on Christian image and who is 100% male and masculine and still respectful, kind, and not afraid to show he cares.  And, oh, yeah, God, if it isn’t too much to ask, make him one of those guys who can do more than just show up.  I’d like to be able to talk to him and, better yet, have him carry enough of the conversation that I get a chance to listen to him and that I can admire what he has to say for a lifetime, or the rest of our lifetime together.  And then, God, I really simply just want that one companion that fits, like hand and glove in so many millions of different and impossible ways, and, please God, let me recognize him when you put him there in front of me….but I guess you already know all that about me. Okay, God, have fun with that, it won’t be easy.”

 

And that’s how God got involved with my love life.

The Trouble With Going Postal

Look.  I’m probably going to get myself in trouble with the bigs for saying this, but the truth is I’d like to go postal.  I can’t though.  I mean, I try, but I just can’t.

I just can’t post anything these days.  At least, not much that I’m pleased with.  And forget posting anything quality during the week.  (Okay, no potshots about the quality the rest of the time, wise guys!)

I have about six posts started.  None completed.  Just when I get to the place where I really need to concentrate either because I’m reworking a part or trying to figure out which direction I’d like the piece to head, someone or something interrupts me. Today, it was my 15-year-old telling me at the last minute that she needed cupcakes for a class party tomorrow. Of course, she waits till I’ve taken off my shoes and socks, changed into my cozy jammies and am nearly two steps from curling up in my oversized and very cozy king sized bed befre she ever so sweetly says, “Hey, Mom….”.  You know the rest of the story.

My head started spinning around with green stuff flying everywhere.

Okay, according to her, I did go postal so, also according to her, my first statement was a misrepresentation. 

Well, it was nothing compared to how I felt after I got dressed again, went down to the store with her, picked up the three dozen cupcakes (after going two different places to find them), drove all the way home and then realized we’d left them at the checkout counter.

Wow. Someone around here needs to go to bed earlier.

Negotiating a Divorce And Trying To Read The Crystal Ball

Today I tasked my students with attempting to begin their personal narratives in an interesting and creative way.  Now, it’s my turn and I am stuck.  How to begin? 

It was a dark and stormy night….na…taken, overused.

On Wednesday I was talking to a friend of mine….boring.

Hmmm, it is easier said than done.  It’s always easier to tell others how to do something and to give examples, but when it comes down to doing it yourself, it can be a much more challenging task.

This is how it is for me when I talk to my friends who are going through divorce.  I’ve been through divorce twice myself, but I also went through a custody trial on behalf of my second ex before he was my ex.  That means three times, I’ve needed to retain attorneys to resolve affairs of the heart that went bad and involved children and houses.  Once I settled out of court, once I experienced a two day, very tense and humiliating trial at the end of which I had no solutions and $30,000 less to my name.  The third time, the opposition never showed up so the judge ruled in my favor and  my attorney still stuck me with the bills.  None of these experiences was what I’d consider fun.  I never want to go there again. 

I hate to see my friends go through the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the tension, the complete range of unhappy emotions that come with negotiating anything in the legal realm, especially in family law.  It is so agonizing to stand by and listen and watch my friends knowing that I didn’t like what they are experiencing when I went through it.  It is painful to care for my friends and to see them experience such doubt, uncertainty, and angst.  It is hard to not be able to help in any way other than to sit by and listen.  Giving advice based on my experiences wouldn’t even be relevant because every situation is different.  The stakes are always high, as are the emotions but the nuances and possible consequences of all the negotiations are never just a simple black and white.

Even so, there are some things I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before going into the process and while enduring the process.  These are the things that are on my mind right now.  I’m airing them as much for me to revisit and clarify what I’ve learned and where I’ve travelled and why as much as to put it out there for anyone who might benefit from it.

I am not an attorney and none of this is intended to in any way replace the counsel of a good attorney. I am not a psychologist and I cannot give that kind of advice either.  All I’m really doing here is sharing what happened to me, what I wish I’d known or done differently.  Maybe it will help others maybe it won’t.  I’m really not all that concerned about that.  I just need to sort out for myself the jumble so I can be clear about the paths I chose and where they are now leading me.

One thing I wish I would have done in every case is wait and not panic.  This is not always possible.  When you are in the legal battle with someone you used to be very intimate with but with whom you cannot bear to be allied for a moment longer, waiting is especially hard.  Waiting is especially difficult if the person is abusive, dangerous or volatile.  Until you have that signed document you are still linked to that individual to some degree. It makes waiting nearly impossible, especially when the longer you still have the married label the further and more thoroughly the other person can destroy you financially, emotionally, maybe even physically.  When this is the situation, and you must wait, panic can eat you alive and prompt you to make decisions you may later regret. In my case, I made many good decisions, but there are some that I wish I’d waited on.  I wish I’d asked more questions of my attorney.  I wish I would have considered negotiating some other areas more thoroughly.  It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.

I also wish I could have seen more clearly how the deal I was negotiating then would affect my future which has become my present.  I think I did a very good job of this when considering the children.  I think I should have thought through it all a little more on the financial end.  I wish I could have seen a little more clearly then how it all would impact my future in post-divorce life.  How closely will I be connected and for how long will I be linked to this individual in the years to come? How much communication will be required between the two adults in question and is the amount required even going to be possible given the nature of the relationship?  As long as there are kids and money involved the chains still linking me to my past relationships are there even if they are invisible most of the time.  This sometimes negatively affects my present peace of mind.  Sometimes I wish I would have done this differently, though I’m not sure even now what that “differently” would be. 

 And this is the trouble with divorce, especially if there is a huge breakdown in communication, which it seems there usually is.  Because there are so many unknowns, so many possible and probable different outcomes, trying to see how my present decisions will impact my future life was a lot like gazing into a crystal ball and seeing nothing but formless shapes and figures among the misty haze. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate the future in every instance.  I think the people who are really good at computer programming could come up with a program to identify all the potential variables, courses of action and potential outcomes, but who has time or patience for that?

The best thing I did (and maybe the best any of us can do) is to  listen carefully to my attorney (get a second or third opinion if we need to) and try not to let our emotions rule.  The best we can do is to do the best we know how to do at the time.  In the end, I just had to move forward in confidence, knowing that I couldn’t know all the possible outcomes.  I had to forge ahead making decisions based only on the pieces of the puzzle that I could see and that my attorney could see. I forced myself to believe that it would all turn out okay, even when I was plagued with fears of the “what if’s”.  What if I lose the house?  What if I can’t make it financially?  What if, what if, what if…. There were nights I tossed and turned with the angst.

As it turned out, as most things turn out I’ve learned, most of what I feared never came to pass.  It ended up in some ways, in most ways, far better than I could have asked.  It ended up in a few ways more difficult than I imagined.  I simply did the best I knew how to do at the time.  It has to be good enough. This is the biggest lesson I take with me as I move forward into each day: I will be okay if I just do the best I can at the time.  When I get down and discouraged and starting thinking “I wish I would have” this is always the place I end up.  I did the best I could.  If I’d have known better, I’d have done better.  I just wasn’t able to read that crystal ball clearly enough, but it’s all turned out okay anyway.