How does one look back on a year such as mine? Three years ago, I ventured out into one of the scariest places I think I’ve ever been. Post divorce, 40-something, straddled with debt that wasn’t all mine, looking forward to fewer years to earn back the losses than I had behind me. While many would say I look good for my age, the fact that they had to add the phrase “for my age” said it all. I was divorced, single with more children than most, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and wondering how I was going to pay the bills and put food on the table. I was frightened. I was destitute. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was alone. To make things better, I blew an engine on one car, and dropped the rear differential out of another. I had no credit, no cash, no clue what an engine or a rear differential was, and nowhere to turn. I was terrified. I wondered, often, how and if I was going to survive. I was also 40-something and it was only a matter of time before the aging process we all must eventually succumb to, became no longer disguisable. Further, I still had children at home, lots of them, and would probably retire (if that was still even a possibility for me) with them at home. Not exactly the formula for finding someone to spend your golden years with before you actually get to your golden years. Continue reading
This is a special time of year in spite of all its hectic pace, congested traffic, brawls over parking spaces, and time spent waiting in line to have gift wrapping done so you can support your child’s extracurricular organization. In spite of the added awkwardness and possibly uncomfortable and painful moments that arise when children spend their lives in two homes instead of one, this time of year is still something to be relished, cherished, savored, experienced.
At this time of year, just like every other season throughout the year, I begin my day with my early morning coffee. In fact, especially at this time of year it is a creature comfort of mine to wake early without the aid of alarm clock, while the house is still dark, pad barefooted out to the living room and turn on the Christmas lights. All of them. The lights on the tree, the lights under the tree, the lights on on the speaker, the lights above the piano, the lights on the bookcase and on the sofa table (which is not behind the sofa).
After turning on the lights, I stumble through the kitchen to the garage to let the dog out to the back yard; to her side of the back yard so she can do her morning business. It is then that I get down to the important business of brewing my morning coffee. While waiting for the coffee to brew (a task that seemingly takes forever), I start the fire.
There is nothing more wonderful, more peaceful and more serene than sitting on my couch looking at the serene glow of a festively decorated Christmas tree, coffee mug in hand, while the fire crackles and snaps warmly, reassuringly, comfortingly in the fireplace. Surely, come what may, everything will be okay.
In these early morning weekend hours, I build kingdoms, establish a million possible futures, rewrite my past mistakes while retaining all the lessons learned and never, ever do I write the kids out of the picture. In these early morning hours, I consider how things were just two short years ago when I had to go begging food at the local church food pantries in order to keep food in my progeny’s bellies while paying off, what seemed an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain of debt; most of which wasn’t even mine. In these early morning hours, I reflect on how slowly but surely things have improved. I appreciate the strength I’ve mustered from somewhere deep within to prune back all to the bare bones, to re-evaluate my life and adapt, adjust, reinvent when needed but mostly to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one burned meal on the table after another and to simply show up and be counted in the world one more time for one more day, often, when I wished I didn’t have to.
I know I am not alone. Not in my enjoyment of early morning coffee; not in my surviving divorce and the crushing financial realities that often follow.
And, so, you see…the moments of this season that are lit with the shining light of gratitude, appreciation and mostly hope are to be treasured above all and enjoyed in quietness and solitude with an early morning cup of the dark, liquid brew we all know as coffee.
Plenty of time for the traffic jams, the long lines, the noise and the piped in holiday music that triggers my gag reflexes better than sticking my finger down my throat. For now, it is me time. It is the height of the holiday season here in my quiet little living room, fire warming the house, tree aglow and coffee warmth in my hands and on my tongue. I’m thinking how bad it was and how far I’ve come.
I’ve survived. Till the next big thing anyway, but I’ve survived thus far. If I can, you can too. Just keep getting up every morning. Just keep going to work. Just keep doing the daily stuff. Pretty soon it stacks up and things do get better. They always change. Misery and pain are never permanent.
Even though I can’t afford even the best deal on a new HDTV or the latest in iPhone technology, even if I can’t afford the latest killer deal on the surround sound theatre system or the family package trip to Mexico for the holidays, even if I’m going to have to continue watching every expenditure like the proverbial hawk for a few more years…I am grateful.
And in spite of my inability to enter into the spending fray of the season with abandon, I’m still celebrating. I’m still joyous and maybe even more so because I can’t “spend” on material things. This situation I’ve found myself in has, as my mother would have once informed me, been a “blessing in disguise”. I’ve learned to be so much more appreciative of what I have. I value the little things so much more.
The little things. Like a red ornament hanging on a fake tree that was purchased without using a credit card or overdrawing the bank account. The little things like two siblings who usually tear each other down in sibling squabbles playing a board game together with me for hours without one demeaning comment.
The little things, like a warm cup of coffee on a cold wintery morning with a warm fire blazing. Coffee, mug and firewood all paid for. Little things.
The joy in my life and the contentment in my heart and my hopeful outlook about the future…not such little things.
Coffee Drinker’s Prayer?
Caffeine is my comfort; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake on early mornings:
It leadeth me beyond to get up and go to work.
It restoreth my energy:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the weary, overworked and under rested,
I will fear no Equal™ or other sugar substitute:
For thou art with me; thy creamer and thy stir stick, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a 20 oz. venti with an extra shot before me in the presence of Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with clarity, at least more than I would have had without you; my mug runneth over.
Surely aroma, flavor and warmth shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the Mocha Mansion forever.