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?

 

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The Snow Moon


Last month, I joined over 1,000 women on a Full Moon hike in Griffith Park.  This was poignant in my life for a few reasons.  First, the hike was to take place up the street from my ex-boyfriend, K’s house and at the park where he and I spent a lot of time.  We haven’t been in touch in over four months and I had his dry cleaning (long story).  Secondly, one of my goals this year was to venture out of my comfort zone more often. So, I decided to go on this hike alone. Since a full moon represents “release”, I decided this was a good time to rid myself of K’s dry cleaning.  I knew I had to let it go in order to move on.  I thought about dropping it by his house on the way, but with the suggestion from a few friends, opted to donate it beforehand.  He had plenty of time to contact me to arrange to get it back and hadn’t.  On my way to the hike I dropped it in one of those green bins you find in parking lots.  The physical act of ridding myself of these items was really a weight lifted off my shoulders.

While at the hike, I made a new friend and was also witness to sisterhood in its highest form.  The feelings of unity and empowerment among the women were just what I needed at the time.   I wanted to find a way to bottle it all up and drink it in whenever I could.  I wanted to provide this experience to others.

Driving home I devised a plan.  I wanted to host a hike that was closer to home and a bit more intimate.  I not only wanted a smaller group of women, but the experience had to be just as powerful.  I’m not a natural born leader, but convinced myself that this was something I could do (again taking me out of my comfort zone).  All it took was a little coordinating and creating an event invite on Facebook.

Native Americans referred to the full moon in February, as the Snow or Hunger moon because of the rough winters, which made hunting difficult.

Before I knew it Feb 22 was fast approaching.  When I got the reminder on Facebook, my first thought was, “Shit! I HAVE to go to this!”.  The day of the hike, I did have a little anxiety.  Would anyone show up?  Would they have fun?  Would they be able to tell I was nervous?  Also, I was also a little concerned about leading everyone up a mountain in the dark, ( I think it was partly because of the warning signs for the mountain lions and snakes).   About 25 women showed up and all seemed happy and at ease, thus helping me relax.  Once we got going, and with my daughter by my side, I felt confident in my leadership abilities.

We had a little game of hide and seek going with the moon, but once  we reached the point where we had a good view of the moon, we paused for awhile to soak it all in.  I loved listening to the women sharing things with each other.  You could tell some of them were already friends, others were just getting to know each other and there were even a few women who hadn’t seen one another in a few years!  As we descended back down the hill, this time I witnessed the women physically supporting each other through the steep, rocky sections.  Though we weren’t a group of one thousand; we were just as bad-ass.

Last week’s hike was beautiful in so many ways, but it is just the beginning.  My vision is for more women to come together and release the old, renew themselves and regroup with each other.  I want there to be deep conversations and the births of new ideas.  I hope we will support one another in every dream, goal and desire. I want unbreakable bonds to be formed.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and enjoyed something that had caused me worry just hours before. I uncovered another part of me, that I didn’t know existed; I could not only be a leader, but I actually enjoyed leading.

Our next adventure will be to witness The Worm Moon on Wednesday, March 23.

Until then!

xo

The February Experiment

img_5914-1    The month of February was called Februarius during Roman times.  Februarius was derived from the Latin term Februum, meaning purification.  The Romans held a purification ritual the day of the full moon in Februarius.  I found this intriguing because, in February I am going through a purification of sorts.

But for a better word choice, let’s call it an experiment.  I got to thinking, what would happen if I removed drinking and online dating from my life for the entire month (hey, it is Leap Year) of February.

What will happen if I stop drinking for 29 days?

I will probably save money and have 29 hangover-free days.  (insert 2 thumbs up emojis here).

What about if I delete my online dating accounts for 29 days?

I will have a lot more time and energy, less distractions, and maybe even more data rollover at the end of the month. (insert Big Smiley emoji here).

Over the last three years that I have been single, the majority of my recreational time has been spent either meeting friends for happy hour, going to concerts or online dating.   I can pretty much guarantee that had you seen me out at any of these events, I would have had a drink in hand.

So, I made a list of the pros and cons of consuming alcohol and as you can probably guess, the cons far outweigh the pros.  Drinking brings absolutely nothing positive to my life.  So why do I do it?  Why do I spend the money?  Why poison my mind and body?  I hope after this “experiment”, I can provide myself some real answers.

As far as dating goes – basically I am exhausted!  Online dating could easily be a full time job and if it were legal here in California, perhaps I would get into it (kidding).  But seriously, to put it simply,  my heart is in need of a sabbatical.

I have a tribe of friends supporting me by keeping me busy with things such as hiking, yoga, good food and meaningful conversation.  Plus, I am spending a lot of time alone and I am really enjoying my own company.  With that said, cheers to a new experience and the many changes ahead.  Who knows, maybe I will make this a ritual of my own…

Stay tuned.

xo

 

 

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

 

Holiday To-Do List

Happy first day of December!  If you are like me, and one of the few people in America, on the Late (Christmas) Train, December 1st is your cue to get your Holiday-Cheer on.

R is nearing double-digits, so I want to incorporate as much Christmas Magic into this season, as I can.  I decided to create a list of some of the things I plan on experiencing with my children and friends in hopes to make it memorable for us all.

1. Try a Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie recipe (perhaps this one).

2. Donate time/toys to a charity – We are wrapping presents for the Castro Family Toy Drive and have set-up a toy collection box at my office.

3. Distribute food – I have an annual tradition with the kids.  We purchase pre-made, hot items (either from the grocery store deli or a fast food chain) and hand out to the homeless on or around Christmas Day.

4. Review ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas  schedule and watch as many of those corny holiday shows as humanly possible.

5. Go see a movie in the theater with all three kids.  Suggestions?

6. Host a night in with the girls and serve ( these and one or two of these).

7. Plan a trip to a neighboring city and view the Christmas lights and decor.

8. Read holiday-themed books at bedtime with R.

9.  Plan a Mommy/Daughter Shopping trip With H at The Village in Woodland Hills.

10. Up my Elf on a Shelf game like my friend, Sarah.  Follow her on IG for some tips!

 

 

Thanksgiving With A Twist

The holidays are one of the many drawbacks post divorce.  A time that once brought me such joy, now consumes me in a tornado of expenses, stress and scheduling conflicts.

This Thanksgiving was mine to spend with our son, R. However, when R’s football coach announced we had a tournament in Las Vegas over the holiday weekend, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.  Don’t get me wrong, I was just as excited as R upon hearing the news.  Visions of my son and I on a plane, cuddling in a hotel room before joining the team for  Thanksgiving dinner got me all warm inside.   Unfortunately, with the high cost of holiday travel, that vision quickly dissipated.

My ex and I get a long well.  So, I proposed we rent a car and split the costs to make the trip.  He casually dismissed this idea, and informed me he and R were catching a ride with a teammate.  They would be home Sunday and he would return R to me then.  I was crushed. I was mad.  I even cried.  But, knowing him like I do, I decided not to push the issue.

I planned to keep myself busy.  I would spend Thanksgiving day watching my Cowboys game and then head over to my girlfriend’s for dinner.  Friday I had scheduled a second date with a nice man in South Bay.   The remainder of the weekend, I would spend getting the house dialed in for the holidays, in turn surprising R when he got home from his trip.    I could do this. “I got this shit handled!” would be my holiday weekend mantra.

Thanksgiving came and went.  I missed R, but all in all had a good day and I got a lot of shit done (like fixing my vacuum – myself!!).

Friday, I woke early, so I could chat with R before his game.  I sent my ex a text and then our conversation went something like this:

Ex: Wishing this tournament was closer for you and the family to come. Certainly missing that aspect of life right now once again :((((

Me: Me, too..

Ex: Why don’t you rent a car and come surprise your son?  I will split the cost with you.  You can bunk in our room, if you share R’s bed (um, duh- me).

Me: You don’t have to tell me twice!  I will text you when I am on my way!

I couldn’t call my date quick enough to reschedule.  He was less than supportive (future blog post, stay tuned).    I was going to be spontaneous and surprise my boy and watch him play his final football game of the season!

The Ex texted me, as I got into town and told me to go relax at the hotel, since the team was all at Circus Circus.  I was too excited for the surprise and offered to join them at Adventuredome.  It only took about 45 minutes to park and another 30 to find them but when I saw The Ex, he had a Lime-A-Rita waiting for me.  So, we were off to a good start!  I looked around this dome of chaos (Did I tell you how much I really love my son?) and waited for R to exit a ride.  I saw him in the distance casually walking in my direction, his eyes darting around at all the rides and people and then almost as if he felt me there,  he looked up.  His eyes locked onto mine briefly.  Then he glanced away.  After a few more steps, he looked at me again and that’s when his smile consumed every inch of his freckled face.  He ran up to me and opened his arms as wide as he could.  He buried his head into my chest and I held onto him and that moment for as long as I could.

The weekend had every ingredient of a Hallmark Christmas movie.  The first night as we settled into bed, R whispered, “That was a really, big surprise, mom.”  And if that wasn’t enough to give George Bailey a run for his “holiday money”, our football team brought home the championship trophy!  My ex and I got along famously, I didn’t even wince when he rolled in to our room at 1 am Friday night.  Plus, it was sure nice to be able to split all the travel expenses with someone.

We hadn’t spent Thanksgiving together in 3 years.  But when I look back on Thanksgiving 2015, I will be filled with a different version of that “holiday joy” I once had.    It may not have been a traditional family celebration, but it was special nonetheless.

In addition to all the other amazing things in my life, I have to say, I am grateful for My Ex this year.

c.

Navigating Online Dating, Part II

As I mentioned in Part One, online dating can quickly become overwhelming and discouraging.  I am here to share with you what has worked for me.  There are no hard and fast rules, but there are some steps you can take to ease the process; therefore making it more enjoyable.

I was going to start with How to Search for Mr. Right, but more than likely you will have a gazillion messages waiting for you after day one. So, lets get straight to messaging.

1.) Messages from Mr. Wrongs –  I sort through these fairly quickly deleting and/or blocking anyone who has sent something trivial or offensive.  However, if it appears a guy has taken the time to read your profile and write you a nice message, please take the time to thank him with a reply.  An example:  “Thank you so much for your kind words.  However, after reading your profile, I don’t think we would be a match….”

Believe it or not, men can take rejection.  Nine guys out of ten, will be appreciative of your response.  But lets be clear here, there is always Guy Number Ten and more than likely his profile is filled with blurry pictures from the 90’s of him riding a dirt bike, jumping out of a plane, surfing, posing with a large fish, sitting next to a chained up tiger, a few gym pics and last but certainly not least – the shirtless bathroom selfie.  His reply will probably go something like this, “I love music, eat food and breathe air. So why wouldn’t we be a good match?”  Don’t take the time out of your busy day attempting to explain yourself.   There is no point in engaging Action Jackson, his ego or his chest.

2.) Replying to Mr. Might Be Right –  When you receive a message from  someone who piques your interest, take your time and read his profile in depth before replying.  Note things in common and also look for something to mention in your reply that will make him laugh.  When looking at his pictures, keep in mind physical traits that are/aren’t important to you  and make sure those aren’t being “cleverly” hidden (i.e. not showing teeth when smiling, no full body shots).

3.) Moving from the world of Online dating to the real world –  I think it’s a good idea to move fairly quickly to the next step of exchanging numbers.  Texting is a great way to get to know someone, their sense of humor, spelling skills and most importantly their emoji-use. 😉

After a day or two of texting, it’s time to move on to the Phone Date.    Speaking on the phone is very important before agreeing to meet someone.  You can get a better idea of the chemistry between the two of you.  Plus, it can offer a little relief to both parties- I don’t know about you, but if I were a guy and the hot little blond I had been texting the last few days ended up having the phone voice reminiscent of a 60 year old, male chain smoker, I may rethink inviting her for coffee and instead  drag her to a karaoke bar..  But that’s just me…

Which takes us to the next step… “The Initial Meet Up”.  Stay tuned…

 

Twenty or so Thank Yous

A few years back, my dear friend, Julie shared with me her rekindled love of handwritten notes and cards.  She realized handwritten communication was quickly becoming a lost art.  So, she started a crusade (of sorts) to bring them back.  She had just read a book called, 365 thank Yous by John Kralik.  I decided to read it while my husband, kids and I were at our vacation home in Utah.  It was the first book in years, I finished in one day.  The story is a recount of Mr. Kralik’s experience of writing one thank you note a day for a year, what he learned and how his life changed by simply letting others in on how he appreciated them.  I was inspired, to say the least.

It wasn’t long after, I began to see posts on Julie’s Facebook wall from grateful friends, who received cards and notes from her in the mail.  I wanted to do this! But as a wife, mother and business owner, I barely had time to write out my grocery list- let alone 365 letters sharing my feelings.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when I became single.  In November of 2013,  I started a ritual.  I committed to write one thank you card for each day I was at work. First, I made a list of 20 or so people/businesses that had touched/helped me over the past year.  I would write them out on my 15 minute break and pop them in the mail at lunch.  The feedback was rewarding to say the least.  It made me feel good that I could share my feelings of appreciation with others without actually having to engage in a conversation with them.

This is my third year in a row, and I wish I could tell you that I’m up to 365 Thank Yous a year or even a full 30 for each day in November, but my list is still roughly 20.  However, I believe the rewards are just as sweet. This year I have thanked:

An Ex-Boyfriend

The tire shop, where I get air in my tires every other month

A long-lost girlfriend

And even a guy I went on one date with last month.  Actually, he just received the card yesterday and called and left the sweetest voicemail.  I had thanked him for reminding me there were still true gentlemen out there.  The appreciation was apparent in his voice and I don’t think I will ever delete that message.

The lesson here, is never suppress a kind thought.  And once you put those thoughts in writing they will never be forgotten.

Check out Julie’s Blog A Letter A Week