Virtual Valentines 

Since I’m spending today with those people closest to me, I thought I would give a shout out to some of the ‘things’ that are currently brining joy into my life.

My beloved Keurig, 

You are the last thing I think about as I fall asleep each night and the first thing my mind goes to when I wake each morning.  Our relationship is pretty much one-sided, but at least it’s consistently hot. 

To The Best New Show on television; This Is Us: 

Thank you for making us laugh and cry and care about a TV family again.  But most of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to snuggle my youngest son for one uninterrupted hour every Tuesday night.

Dear 2013 VW Passat, 

You came into our life as a complete and utter surprise.  But ever since, you have provided a safe and reliable mode of transportation for R and me.  What a great feeling it is to jump in you for last minute road trips and adventures! Ps. We really love your ample legroom, sunroof, and kickass stereo.    Danke!

 And last, but certainly not least…

Cupid, 

Thank you for your persistence.  No matter how many times I duck your arrow, your aim continues to be spot on.  Don’t give up on me and I won’t give up on you.

xo 

 

 

 

 

The Birth of a Queen

These days she has a solid sense of her own significance.

When people ask how she is doing, she replies, “Strong.”

She announces it in the tone of a queen, escorted with a satisfied smile.

She is a new kind of Queen.  Not the kind to execute her subjects, as they serve as reminders of all she is not.

She is no longer bound by the vines of materialistic pleasures, she is not measured by how many things she has purchased.  She rebuffs the shitty labels society reaches out and tries to slap across her chest like a name tag at a trade show.

Little by little she sought her truth and little by little pieces of it appeared.  Some had welcoming faces that she embraced fully, while there were others that were harder to look at…harder to accept.

But change could not happen before acceptance of herself entirely – demons and all.

She was surprised at how the life of royalty would be so ….

simple..

yet significant.

 

**photo credit: pinterest

A Single Mom Milestone

So, after five long years, I made my last car payment this morning.  It may not seem like a big deal to many, but for me it’s a considerable occasion.

In my 29 years of driving, I’ve bought several cars, but I’ve never paid one off.  You see, I am a self-proclaimed “car junkie”.  I generally get the “car bug” and end up trading in my current ride for something cooler.

This event is also special to me because during my marriage I went out and bought this car on my own (without his approval first). I brought it into my new life and one income household.  We survived the five months I was without a job.  There were some close calls where I thought i was going to lose it, but by picking up odd jobs and keeping in close communication with Wells Fargo, we made it through. Thankfully.

Now that it’s paid off, here are some things I need to do~

1.) Celebrate! Besides announcing it on social media, I also sent a text to a few close friends.  I’ve asked one of my girlfriends to meet me for a quick beer after work. The office car wash guy comes tomorrow and I can’t wait to have her all detailed and maybe even snap a photo.

We tend to get so wrapped up in our day that we forget to celebrate the minor things in life.

2.) Make a plan of what to do with that extra money each month.  I have already decided 1/3 will go into savings, 1/3 will go towards paying off old debt and the remainder will be used for “stuff”.

3.) Make notes to follow up with the lien holder in regards to the pink slip.  Once received, I will store somewhere secure.

4.)  Call my insurance company to see if I can lower my coverage.   I also plan on obtaining quotes from other companies.

If you have any other tips, please share!

 

 

 

 

 

Trying To Do Divorce Right

In the months following our separation, the dynamic between my ex-husband and me was reminiscent of stale business partners.  To keep our family operable,  we were forced to run things by each other; things like finances and our shared son’s schedule.  Our interactions were cordial, but brief.

However, the following year our relationship gradually began to change.  Much like the way the earth shifts and settles, without one realizing it.  The changes happened slowly and silently; yet making a huge impact on our blended family.

We began to sit together at our son’s sporting and school events, once in awhile grabbing a bite to eat after.  Then we added birthdays and holidays to the mix.  Rarely did a day pass without either of us texting the other. A friendship was beginning to form which not only benefited the son we shared, but our other three children (one his, two mine).

The following summer, my ex asked me to drive our son down to his campsite in San Diego.  He suggested I stay the night to make the drive easier on myself.  My initial reaction was a negative one.   I didn’t want to put any of us in an uncomfortable position.  Besides, wouldn’t this trip be confusing for our 8 year old?

After a few days of deliberating the idea with myself,  I came to the conclusion this was about my son.  We had spent many years camping together as a family and they were some of the best memories of our time together.  Besides, just because the romantic side to our relationship had ended, didn’t mean our family had to.

Before I agreed, I spent some time talking to our son about it. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to get the wrong idea.  I explained that we could continue to do things together as a family.  However, that did not mean mommy and daddy were going to live together again.

It was a quick trip and went off seamlessly.  We spent the day at the beach,  played soccer then sat around the campfire and chatted that night.  I found myself relaxed and free to fall back into the good things my ex and I had together – the laughter and comfort.

This trip was the element that opened the door for two more family vacations for us. We went to Las Vegas for our son’s football tournament last year.  We split the cost of a car rental, gas and food.   It was an added bonus that both parents were present to celebrate our son’s team’s victory in lieu of him having to try and share the excitement over the phone with one of us.

This past Spring Break, we planned an even bigger outing: a road trip up to our family cabin in Utah. I wrestled with some mixed emotions going into this trip.  We planned on driving the 12+ hours together up to the cabin, that was bought during our marriage.  There were a lot of emotions and memories I needed to sort out.  But I agreed.

The morning of our trip, my ex pulled up outside our condo just after 4 a.m.  Crawling into his truck was like crawling into a time machine.  Foreigner was blaring on the radio, the cab was filled with pillows, blankets and bags of snacks.  We slept, we ate, we sang and laughed. All the things you do on a road trip and all the things we did when we were married.

Once we go to the cabin, I stepped inside to a flood of memories.  I scanned the kitchen and living room to see not much had changed.  Above the couch, my eyes immediately fell upon the wildlife photos we picked up in Canada one year.

One of the photos was of a mother Polar Bear rolling around with her cubs in the snow and the other was of a lone Black Bear.  The Black Bear was standing in the middle of a lake with a fish in it’s mouth.  When we chose these two photos, we joked how the polar bear was me and he was the black bear. They became symbols of our marriage-  I enveloped in the children as he spent the majority of his time out providing for us.

Dealing with my emotions and putting them aside were all worth it.  Our boy had both of us here to shoot hoops, ride the quad and sled.  He sat between us on the over sized couch as we watched movies and ate our favorite snack of popcorn and M&M’s . He was able to kiss both his mommy and daddy goodnight at the same time.

I have learned so much over the past few years.  Marriages may not last a lifetime, but family does.  I encourage anyone who has a good relationship with their ex to let your guard down and open up to making your own kind of family.

I couldn’t help but wonder if time would allow us another family vacation.  I glanced over at the pictures of the bears, hanging opposite each other.  I noticed how different the scenes were.  The contrast between the two photos was imminent… yet these images still complimented each other beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Groovy!

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Today I am excited about everything!

I am still reeling from yesterday!  My first-born graduated with a double Associates Degree from our local college and will head to Art School in the fall.  The weekend is here and I am elated about the following:

  • A quiet Friday night with my guy and tomorrow our trip to The Reagan Library.  It is very close to where we live and surprisingly, I have never been.
  • Sunday, I am going to see The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl with one of my best girlfriends. We have a room within walking distance and I am looking forward to lounging poolside beforehand.
  • My second personal essay was published (and I had no idea)! Kudos to my ex-husband for notifying me.  Since it was about him, I am happy he liked it!  If you want to check it out, its on xojane.

Happy Weekend!

DON’T SWEAT the small stuff

Last week, I read this blog post about childhood worries.  Afterward, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own adolescent anguishes.  Some of them were inspired by bad 80’s television, others by playground chatter, and the rest were made-up scenarios in my head.

I was one of those kids who spent more time worrying than playing.  I worried about things that had already happened (my mom forgetting to pick me up after school), things that could happen (nuclear war) and things that were more than likely never going to happen (stumbling into a pit of quicksand).

At the age of ten, I watched a Made for TV movie about breast cancer.  Coincidentally, I had been experiencing some pain and swelling in my chest.  With that said, I convinced myself, like the protagonist, that I, too was suffering from breast cancer.

I worried for weeks.  I couldn’t sleep, I cried off and on, but was too embarrassed/scared to go to anyone with my concerns.  Finally, one afternoon my mother caught me crying.  In between sobs, I broke the news to her that I probably wouldn’t be making it to my 11th birthday.  She explained (albeit giggles), I was going to be fine and that the “symptoms” I had experienced were simply signs, that it was time for a training bra (Ugh!  If only I had read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret one year earlier).

After recalling that lovely childhood memory, I couldn’t help but wonder how my own children dealt with worry.  I reminded myself to give them each some guidance on the issue.  I had come a long way from the Worry Wort I once had been.  Perhaps by sharing this with the kids, it would save them from some of the pangs I endured in my youth.

And just like that – It was if the Parental Gods had read my mind! The following morning, R and I were getting in the car when he gently shoved his iPad in my hand.  He looked up at me, his brown eyes searching my face for a reaction.   I was shocked to see a huge crack across the screen.  “Oh, buddy! What happened?!” I asked, admittedly in more of a Peg Bundy than Carol Brady “concerned mom” voice.  Before he could muster an explanation, I took a few deep breaths and told him it didn’t matter and it could be fixed.

But he was unusually  quiet on the ride to school.  I asked him if he was worried about the iPad.  He nodded his head in agreement and told me he was really worried about his dad’s reaction.  I reassured him again that the iPad was fixable.  I took it a bit further and shared my recently-found philosophy.

“I try not to worry.  But it does take a lot of effort on my part.  I remind myself that the only things in life worth worrying about are those things that we have no control over-like the health and safety of our loved ones.  As long as my friends and family are healthy, all is good in my world.”

R seemed to be listening attentively.  But who knows if he actually “got” the point I was trying to make.  I am confident, he will see my example and learn from it.

With that being said, I am a work in progress.  Once in awhile, I slip back into old habits.  To remedy those moments, I find connecting with a good friend and also some deep breathing/meditation exercises do wonders for putting things back into perspective.

How do you manage stress?

 

Don’t Judge.

In December of 2013, I suddenly found myself homeless and jobless.  I had never been let go from a job before nor evicted, and to have them happen within days of each other was overwhelming, to say the least.  Thankfully, at the time,  I did have an amazing boyfriend.  He not only helped me financially get into a new place, but he physically moved my entire apartment by himself.

I applied for and was awarded unemployment which totaled about 50% of my normal monthly gross income. I spent my days job hunting, I registered with a top-notch employment agency and my ex-husband helped me out when he could. I took odd jobs; writing content for a website and tending bar at catering events.  But every week that passed, I fell further and further behind.  I had three children at home and needed to take care of my shit. And fast.

So, early one morning I decided to check my ego at the door of our local Health and Human Services office and slithered quietly inside to apply for Food Stamps aka Cal Fresh benefits.

When I say I left my ego at the door, I didn’t entirely leave it there.  I know this because during the 5 hours I spent in the office, I was coiled up in a hard chair and refrained from making eye contact with anyone.

My application was approved by a pleasant man named Alberto, who was my case worker. I refrained from bursting into tears of relief and giving him a hug of gratitude, as he handed me my EBT card.  It looked like a debit/credit card and therefore, payment would be discreet.    As you can imagine, this was a godsend for me and my ego.  Still, I cringed each and every time I had to pull the card from my wallet.  I could feel the checker, the bagger and the shoppers behind me in line peering down their noses at me in judgement.

Case in point, one day, while perusing social media, I ended up on a random person’s Facebook page (I’m not so sure I should be admitting this publicly, but we all do it? No?).

This woman, who I will respectfully refer to as “FB Rant Lady” was perched high atop her virtual soap box.  Apparently, she had just come from the grocery store and she was pissed and she wanted everybody to know why.  Here is her story as I remember reading it:

“FB Rant Lady” had been in line at the grocery store behind a woman and was admiring the woman’s designer handbag.  As the woman (let’s call her Designer Handbag Lady) paid for her groceries, “FB Rant Lady” (who evidently has the vision of Superman) noticed “Designer Handbag Lady” was paying with an EBT card.  “FB Rant Lady” couldn’t believe the gall “Designer Handbag Lady” had to own a purse that cost several hundred dollars all the while “paying” for her groceries with the state’s aka “our” money.

For 6 months, I carried my EBT card in my Coach wallet which was in turn carried in one of my Coach bags.  It had never occurred to me society expected me to pack my “nicer” things away, right along with my dignity, the second I applied for assistance.  I had already lost my apartment, my job and my pride; could I not continue to clutch something nice from my previous, more comfortable life?  It takes a lot to ask for help and when others think they know our story, it makes these tough times in life a little harder to navigate.

The last time I used my EBT card was a momentous one, to say the least.  I waited in line at Vons, and the elderly woman ahead reminded me of my mother, with her frail-like movements and permed, chestnut hair.  She only had a few items and as she shakily reached for her wallet (don’t ask me what brand it was), I beat her to it and paid for her groceries.  I had just been lent a helping hand of sorts, and now it was my turn to do something helpful.

Sometimes in life we need help. We need to separate from our ego and just ask.  I will forever be thankful for the support I received from our state and my friends and family during that bleak chapter in my life.

 

 

 

 

Dog-Walker Guy

Walking our dogs on the beach was your idea.

After all….

We lived in the same coastal town.

We both owned dogs.

I attempted to sound enthused with your suggestion; picturing myself gracefully dodging waves, laughing at your jokes, my hair flowing in the ocean breeze… But…

Saturday morning was a blustery one.  I had to forgo lip gloss due to the high winds and should have pulled my hair into a ponytail (but I had that damn vision, as mentioned above).

Lila, (who was clearly more excited about this date than I was) and I arrived at the beach.   You were cute, but your black and white Australian Shepherd, Scout was abso-frekin-lutely  adorable! And every passer-by had to stop and tell you so.  You seemed to eat up the attention as eagerly as Scout.

You pulled a cellophane bag tied with a pink ribbon, out of the pocket of your flannel.  You had brought Lila a bag of cookies.  Well, played dog walker guy.  Well, played.  I must confess, I had never bought her those delectable treats;  which explained her disinterest when you tried to feed her one.  You seemed to take it personally.

We continued our trek through the sand.  Trying to converse between leashes entwining, the howling wind and our dogs stopping every 10 seconds to sniff and pee, made it very difficult to see if there was chemistry.

It was if, we both threw in the white flag simultaneously.  With our tails between our legs we headed our separate ways.

Yes, I live near the beach and I own a dog.  But, I guess I should’ve mentioned I was more of a cat person.

 

Men Without Kids Vs. Dads

After my six-month relationship ended, I decided to reevaluate  what I wanted in my next one.  K had never been married or had children and at first I found that to be an added bonus to an already amazingly, sweet man.  Little did I know, it would hinder the growth, I wanted in our relationship.  A wise woman once shared this with me: Men without children do not know the depth of love, like those who do have them.  In other words, they do not know how to really put another person’s needs, feelings, wants before their own.  This doesn’t make them bad or selfish people.  Just different.

I met a nice guy a month or so ago.  He was my age, divorced, no children and had a successful career .  He drove up from South Bay one Saturday to take me to dinner.  The conversation flowed , as we sat eating in a brightly lit Thai restaurant.   Though, I didn’t feel that immediate connection, like  I had with others in the past, he was smart, funny and attentive.  In other words, I was open to a second date.  After dinner and a friendly hug goodbye, he asked to see me again.  Agreeing, I sent him back on the 101 and then a few days later, I sent him a thank you card.  I wanted to let him know I appreciated the time and effort he made to treat me like a lady.  It was comforting to see there were still true gentlemen out there, or so I thought….

He asked me out again, but because of our schedules it took some time to set the second date.  With my son out of town the week of Thanksgiving for his football tournament, we made plans for that Friday.  I offered to go to him, obviously, since he had come up here the last time.

When I woke up Friday morning, I was looking forward to our date and getting out of Ventura for the day.  But after breakfast, I received a text from my ex.  He offered to split the cost of a rental car so I could surprise our son in Vegas.  I knew my date would be disappointed, but when I said goodbye to my son on Tuesday,  I had already disappointed him.

I called my date and began apologizing the second he picked up the phone.  His tone of voice, was less than supportive of my sudden change of plans.  I began to explain what had just transpired with my ex,  I felt like I was having to justify(did I mention he was an Attorney?)  my trip to see my son.  Not once did he tell me “no worries” or “I understand”.  I asked if we could reschedule for the following weekend, but he was “booked”.  When I hung up, I genuinely felt bad.  But then images of my son’s smile quickly replaced any guilt I had for canceling a date.

Once I arrived to pick up my rental car, I received a text that went something like this:

Him: You’re probably going to hate me for this, but …That was a really lousy thing to do.  Thank God R wasn’t injured or some other kind of emergency.  He didn’t  need you there.  You decided you would just rather do that than go on our date.  I’m profoundly disappointed.

 

My Reply: My children will always come first.  Thank you (I really, really wanted to add  MUTHAFUCKKAAAA here, but I didn’t).

I never heard from, nor did I contact Mr. Almost Second Date again.  I really couldn’t wrap my head around his way of handling the situation and I suppose he felt the same way about me.  We are not only from different planets (i.e. Venus/Mars), but perhaps different lifetimes.  I feel I am light years ahead of him in this life.  After all, I have carried three lives in my womb, arms and heart for the past 21 years.  So, perhaps it is time to look solely for those who share the same life as me.  The one where we, as parents come second to everything and everyone else when it comes to our children.  And to that I will always say, “no worries!” and “I understand!”.

Stay tuned..

xo