All posts by pilatesong

About pilatesong

A 39 year old divorced mother of two boys. Life has been both challenging and rewarding for me, but mostly it's been rich and full. I grew up fast, but remained a child deep down inside. I still dream of the fairytale, but am grateful that nothing has come very easily. I believe in work and play; in God and all of his manifestations; in Truth and justice; in Faith and perseverance.

My Two Sons

As a mom of two boys, it’s not always been easy…errr, it’s not always even resembled easy to be that fun, patient, active, attentive, wise old mom that I’ve always wanted to be. And while I certainly have nailed the ‘old’ part of that, I can’t say that I’ve honestly always put in 100% effort into parenting. Now that my boys are 17 and 10, and getting ready to launch into their Senior and 5th grade years, respectably, I’m starting to feel that little tinge of regret that we likely all either have experienced or we will.

A few weeks ago at dinner, I asked the boys where they wanted to go if we were to try and fit in a tiny little inexpensive vacation before school started. Being my oldest son’s Senior year, I would’ve liked to have been able to afford something huge and memorable – something he could take a billion pictures of and proudly show off his adventures on Instagram until people became so jealous that they stopped following him. But that wasn’t in my budget as a full time student support rep and full time student, so he opted for Asheville.

While we had never gone as a family,  Asheville became my home away from home over the course of my last relationship & I haven’t missed a year since I started going in 2014. I was anxious to reunite with the really cool stuff like the drum circle & Woolworth’s Walk, but I had never been during the week and didn’t realize that the drum circle has been replaced with a songwriter series & Woolworth’s Walk decided to close especially early today.

Plans don’t always work out, but if I’ve learned anything in my long and full 41 years, it’s that the best things in life usually happen when plans fall through. We still had a pretty incredible first day. My oldest – a budding musician & songwriter – experienced so much talent on the sidewalks of Ashville, and we all learned how to make bowls sing in one of those hippy-dippy-meditation-friendly boutiques. Tomorrow is already all planned out with hiking to waterfalls, bbq, and (of course) s’mores.

I have my kiddos and my Hayley dog under one roof, two hours away from home. I have the windows open & am listening to the ever-so-soothing sounds of tree frogs, crickets, and waterfalls even as I type this. We have a nice big fenced in yard surrounded by bamboo, a hot tub, a garden tub, and the comfiest couch and beds on the planet. I couldn’t be more grateful and I couldn’t feel more blessed than I do in this moment.

I guess the best things come not to those who wait, and not to those who whine, but to those of us who are imperfect, severely flawed and painfully mediocre humans who are endlessly and habitually grateful for Grace.

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Seder

As a girl who grew up Catholic in the hills of a very Protestant East Tennessee, I always knew that my religion made me stick out like a short little sore thumb. I had friends who never understood my Faith and who weren’t welcome to share Communion with me on Sundays no matter if they had been saved or not. That was never a fun conversation, by the way, and one that always made me secretly resent my Church. Would Christ have turned them away? Really? WWJD that, please.

At any rate, as weird as it was to be Catholic here in Bible land, it was even stranger to be Jewish. So I had no real idea of the Jewish culture, but being always drawn to all Holocaust literature and everything relating to WWII, I had always been strangely curious. So it’s no wonder that on that one strange Friday night when I had blown off all plans and had chosen instead to share the night with a bottle of wine, I happened upon my one Jewish friend through online dating.

With a self-given Native American name, this friend and I talked for four hours on our very first call. I couldn’t get enough of his stories or his questions. We both busied ourselves with getting to know each other and assigning movies and music to each other until I had found the bottom of the bottle and he had found the bottom of me. The relationship built from their and the romantic part of it had ebbed and flowed more frequently than our waking patterns through those first two weeks. Finally, it was time for Passover, and after 10 or so invitations, I finally decided to make my way 3 hours east to his cabin on the side of a mountain.

If this seems like a careless and courageous thing to have done, it’s because it was, and it was something that I will always remember and never regret. I brought my dog to play with his two and we drank Kosher wine, chopped a gazillion apples, and set the Seder plate before sitting at the table to experience my very first Seder. It was one of the most spiritual and memorable nights of my existence. While I was only with my new friend with a native name less than 24 hours, I was ecstatic to have finally met him and to have experienced this very special night of prayer in Hebrew, singing, and fellowship.

We did not end up on the same page, sadly. He felt a different kind of love than I did, and after returning back to my home, I knew that this would probably break us. But the important part of this story is simply this – don’t let fear stand in the way of experience. You never know what’s on the other side if you don’t leap, and you can’t regret any experience that is created in love. There are no coincidences. God places the people we need in our lives at precisely the right time. My prayer is that my friend found that when he finally opened up his heart, beautiful memories and connections were made. My lesson? When you follow through with what your heart wants, it will lead you into exactly where you were meant to fall, and a beautiful moment is always better than no moment at all.

The definition of insanity and other fun facts

It occurred to me two weeks ago tonight, as I drove home in the darkness once again. It occurred to me that, while I would most certainly live in even more darkness from now throughout my healing process, I would someday wind up back in the sunlight. And that was the scariest thought of all.

You see, I am addicted to relationships. I love to love and have been obsessed with loving since the dawn of time. No, I’m not Jesus. I wish I was. I’m just a lowly single mom of two beautiful boys trying to make her way in this world.

On this particular night, I had just ended things with the love of my life. That’s what I called him. That’s what I had believed him to be for the better part of 6 years. I had hurt others in the process, and I believed fully and utterly that this was the exact person that God had created just for me. Even after two failed marriages. Even though he was a middle-aged bachelor. Even though he told me he wasn’t.

I didn’t listen because I knew it was finally my turn to find complete happiness with another human being. We would ride off into the sunset – the four of us – arm in arm, completely accepting and loving one another, and we would adventure out into the great beyond. We would eventually leave our overbearing corporate jobs and find home and peace in doing whatever it is that we loved, while loving one another.

But that was just my imagination. Playing tricks on me.

And so 10 months after I proposed and he said yes, I said no, and he agreed. And here we are. Back to square negative 6. I am the queen of the do-si-do. I dance from one man to another, to back to the old in with the new until, at last…I have a bloody nose, a whiplashed spirit, and a damaged heart. So I tell you. I will not repeat this for the upteenth time because I can’t. I am not insane, even though I almost was. We are not the creators of our lives, but when we start feeling cocky enough to believe we are, it will bite us the ass everytime.

If you are addicted to love in all the wrong places, do me a favor. Stop. Take a look at your life. Do you look alot like me? Then….let’s stop together. Let’s learn to love ourselves. Let’s learn to listen to God a little more, and let’s FINALLY allow a little sanity to go along way in healing us into His purpose.

Oh Holy Plight

Last night, I used You Tube to try and fix one of our toilets for the umpteenth time. I failed, but it works well enough for the basics. Tonight, I found light sabers for my 10 year old that have been AWOL for the better part of two years – since the last Star Wars premiered. It made his night. Especially when I removed a couple AAA batteries from a remote we never used to make sure it would light up well enough for daycare tomorrow. 

In my years as a single mom of two, I’ve served in so many roles that I can’t recall them all now. But I remember a time, just 15 years ago when I thought this would be completely impossible. Tonight, as I sit and reflect, I realize how far I’ve come…out of necessity.
My first Christmas as a solo mom of one 2 year old boy, I was completely stressed as I fumbled to find and use a screwdriver to put together my son’s first big wheel. I remember that the frustration drove me to tears. Everything I had bought him needed assembling, and as a girl whose dad had departed this earth when I was only 11, I was lost. While I didn’t posess any real ‘do-it-yourself’ wisdom, I did posess the one thing that would see me through – pure determination. 

Like so many parents I know, I have never been one to back down when it comes to fulfilling my kids wants and needs. I’ve never allowed something like ignorance to stand between my abilities and their dreams. So I’ve managed to become a plumber, a painter, a fixer, a nurse, a therapist, a sub-par chef, an exceptional maid, a mechanic, a handyman, a teacher, and even sometimes a super ninja. 

Even though I never wanted or dreamed of being a single mom, I am proud that I’ve done it, that I’ve survived it, and even more proud that THEY’VE survived it thus far. It’s never easy, not always rewarding, but always 1000% worth the blood, sweat, tears, greying hair, and wrinkles – every last one. And I can honestly say, that as an only child of a single mom, I am grateful for my childhood. While it was painful at times – not having a dad – I am grateful for the lessons I learned from my strong heroic mother, who served as both mother and father better than anyone could understand. 

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he always, always gives us what we need. Sometimes what we really need are lessons. Lessons in love, lessons in strength, and lessons in tenacity. The determination of my mom was the perfect upbringing for what I would face as a grown-up. So much so that now I have two sons that believe women are capable of anything and everything a man can do. They are gentle, sensitive, and intuitive individuals who rise to the occasion every time, and I couldn’t ask for more.

So every time I start to feel sorry for myself and feel that God gave me the short end of the stick, I simply sit back and watch. I watch them at 17 and 10. I watch my 17 year old put his own needs second as he works to save so that he can buy his father an amazing and thoughtful gift. I watch him as he thinks about what he can do to support and comfort his friend. I watch him as he goes to work 4 or 5 nights a week into the wee hours, only to wake up long before the sun and go to school. And I listen to him as he doesn’t complain about the fact that he misses out sometimes on stuff he really loves because he has a larger goal in mind. I listen to him as he writes his music and practices his guitar until his fingers bleed. And I watch my 10 year old as he shares with his best friend, as he gives his last piece of candy to a dear friend who has no candy, and as he relentlessly practices karate even though his legs throb. I listen as he plans out his week and strategizes for himself about all of the homework that’s due this week, and how he plans to get it all knocked out. I watch them both grow into these young men who make me prouder with each passing day.

That’s when I know that THEY are my reward. That’s when I know that God’s big picture is so much bigger than my own, and that’s when I know that with Him none of this was ever possible, doable, or fathomable. But love is everything. God’s plan for love is everything.

Severed Ties

I remember going to my childhood church for the first time, and I remember feeling excited and energized by the community and the spirit. My mom was proud. Up until this point, I had been a ‘half-breed’. My dad was Baptist, and my mom Catholic. But now that my dad had passed, I was going to be raised Catholic. There is nothing wrong with that. It was not common and sometimes not accepted in my small Southern city, but it was my destiny growing up. And I dove in, full hearted. 

I remember, over the course of the next several years, throwing myself in. I wasn’t only prayerful, but I was the ONE in my household that made sure we prayed and went to church each Sunday. I think, in retrospect, that it was good for my mom. She was everything, but she had already been through so much, that maybe she needed that extra push. I was happy to respond, and happy to push.

Some Sundays, we would be too late for Mass and would just attend our rightful service at Cracker Barrell. But most Sundays, we were there, albeit in the very back. But we were there nonetheless. I never once considered how difficult it had to be for her as a single mom. When you’re surrounded by families in a church where ‘divorce’ is so frowned upon. But my mom wasn’t divorced. She was a widow.

When she finally dated my future stepdad, it was difficult for her to take the Eucharist, and I couldn’t understand.

So when I was twice divorced, and my mom was dying and made sure I took the Eucharist, I took it seriously. I obeyed.

I have raised both sons in the Church so far. But with my second ex-husband AWOL, and me engaged, I knew there was no being accepted by ‘my Church’. I didn’t tell anyone, because I am not close with anyone in my Parish. But finally, my conscious got the best of me. So when I did finally tell the youth director that my kiddos wouldn’t be coming back and that I wouldn’t be able to teach, I thought that maybe someone would reach out. That isn’t what happened.

I was passed by. I feel given up. I feel like anything I did for the church in the last 30 years was fruitless. With two husbands and a stepfather converted, not to mention a fiance totally on board to convert, I said my last goodbyes.

So maybe churches, like people, are temporary. Maybe they walk into our lives when we most need them or they need us, and then they depart and make room for something more.

So with my kids and fiance in tow, I am out in the universe searching – just a girl with a rosary asking to be accepted.

Favorite Things

Church.

Filling  my spiritual bucket, making my eyeballs sweat,

My lungs quiver, my heart bleed with anticipation and eagerness and energy,

And Holy spiritedness.

My youngest son’s laughter, belly up, whole-hearted, white lights & lollipops,

And all the sugar his little body can hold.

My oldest son’s nostalgia, and maturity – his passionate guitar playing, song-writing,

Singing, wailing, with all the rhythm and soul his body can hold.

The two of them experimenting, working together, chatting, bonding, loving

When I thought they had lost each other.

My Hayley dog running back into my arms after taking her own little

Rebellious adventure.

But she’s so glad to be home. And I’m so glad she made it.

Long solo hikes immersed in leaves, and breeze, and nature’s unconditional

Peace of mind – a few hours and moments of being present with

Beauty – unspoiled and lovely – innocent and tender.

The smells of dessert candles, amongst a shimmering glass of wine, a lit-up tree,

Dressed with memories of years and love and Christmases with mom and dad and us.

And I am content and at peace with God’s plan for me, for us, and for the love

He keeps pouring into my heart especially when I feel complete emptiness.

We fall on difficult times so that we can savor the easy ones.

We fall so that we must depend upon Him to lift us up…

Just one more time.

.

In We we Trust

The ego is real. The want is real. We are all onlies in that we want what we want and need what we need. When someone we love isn’t being loving enough, thoughtful enough, or respectiful enough, we’ve…well had ENOUGH. As a woman twice divorced, I can honestly say that I am the worst when it comes to throwing in the towel when I’m hurt. My first reaction to getting my feelings hurt is to swiftly speak my mind, walk away, and ‘block’ my significant other as quickly as I can before he retaliates. This is my pathology. It’s what I learned from my biological parents, and it’s also what I learned from my mom and step dad. Therefore, this is the thing I did in all of my relationships – be they marriage or romantic relationships. And I’ve done it forever.

For a couple of decades now, I’ve lived under the assumption that I could never be loved enough. That while I am not all ‘that’, no one would ever be good enough, love hard enough, or be sensitive enough to give me what I need. I’ve also had a little insight into the fact that neither of my marriages failed solely because of the other person. I had to have something to do with the failure because ‘it takes two to tango’ afterall. And two to tangle. 

I just didn’t know why until now. 

I’m 33 pages into a book called ‘Love & Respect’ by Dr. Emerson Eggerich, and I can see clearly already. I haven’t respected enough. Like…ever respected enough. 

I’m not going to lie. It hurts to realize this. On the one hand, I’m usually quick to take blame in most situations, because (I think) if I am to blame, I can fix. There is solace in the fixing. There is solace in knowing I have some sort of control. There is not solace in knowing that maybe, possibly, probably, I could’ve fixed this stuff because this stuff went to hell in a handbag.

But on the doorstep of my third and final marriage – whenever it does happen – I am handed this gift of knowledge. I haven’t respected enough. And now I am in it forever – heart and soul, forever and for always. It’s the perfect time. It’s God’s time, and God is good. Always.

This book, it must be said, was brought to me by way of carrier pigeon. It literally landed on my doorstep by ‘Mr. And Mrs. Anonymous’. No one will admit to having delivered it, and the extra beautiful part is that they left not only a copy for me but for my wonderful fiance as well. It does drive me crazy that I don’t know where they came from, but I am grateful to the bottom of my oblivious little heart because I know this was completely planned by the great Lord above. And I know this because the message of ‘I don’t respect enough’ has been told to me before. Once.

In my second marriage, my husband became severely and intensely addicted to pain pills that he was not prescribed, and our marriage suffered greatly. We lost everything. We tried Christian counseling, and I was a huge fan. We were given books on how to be an excellent wife and an exemplerary husband. I read my entire book within the first week. My husband skimmed over his first few pages and declared that he ‘got it’ before we even darkened the door to our 2nd visit. 

While our counselor was very hard on my husband because of his addiction and manipulation, he did also make mention that our boys’ lack of respect for my husband was due in huge part to my lack of respect for my husband. That recognition and awareness paused me, stopped me in my tracks. I remember thinking ‘Oh no!!! This is on me!!’. And it was, in part. And while I thought I had learned an invaluable lesson, it didn’t save my marriage, but only because my husband was too far gone. 

In reading this book now, the memories flood into my head like a dam has broken down deep inside of my ego. This is on me.

My fiance and I haven’t had it easy. He’s a now 42 year old bachelor who is scared to death of failure in a marriage. Add to that the company of two kids – 16 and 10 – and you have complete reluctance and hesitation. Is this because of his lack of love for me? NO! Does it feel like that? YES! Do I disrespect him because of my lack of awareness of his love for me? YES. Do I mean to?…….NO.

But this is normal. It is sooooo completely normal that this book that I am reading addresses all of it. A woman needs to feel loved, and her man needs to feel respected. And yet, when a woman feels a lack of love, she disrespects. When a man feels a lack of respect, he turns cold and leaves his woman feeling unloved. This is why we need awareness and communication. We need to understand that a lack of Love and Respect are at the root of all of our misunderstanding and hurts. 

So I challenge myself, and I challenge my readers to acknowledge this code, and recognize that we cannot blame one another. We both have work to do, love to give and respect to pay. Relationships are all about relating, not sacrifice. Love is about leaving your ego at the door and loving to the depths of our souls. Do that. Love with all your might, and respect with all your mind. That is the journey. The reward is a beautiful and untimely union of souls who understand. It takes two. 

Comfort

We all like our comfortable cozy beds and the lure of deep sleep. We love the warmth and security of sweaters, dressing in layers, and the solace brought about by a well-made bonfire in the autumn chill. Most of us, I’ve found, love to sneak into our covers cold only to drape ourselves with enough blankets to heat a small village. We seek balance. We all do. It’s human nature. Life events like weddings, beginning a new job, giving birth, saying goodbye when a loved one dies, divorce, starting school – all of these things are scary because they challenge us. These life changing events feel like getting into a cold bed naked, only to be further chilled by a strong artic wind. There is nothing comfortable about change, and yet there is nothing as debilitating as stagnation. When everything in you tells you to step out of that comfortable place, and something puts a great big halt on that possibility, well let’s just say – that’s just about as uncomfortable as it gets.

Why? Because we were built for growth. We were built to evolve and change and bend in the direction of where God intends for us to be, and when we can’t go, we suffer. I remember thinking I was stuck in my life more times than I care to admit. I remember thinking we were all going to end up living in a box because I was married to a drug addict that just wouldn’t stop until everything was gone. And yet, just when everything but our condo that we rented from my mom was gone, I made the decision to get us out. The boys and me needed to survive, and that was our only hope. I had to break vows after years of lying, making excuses, and giving every chance known to man. We got out. We moved our lives forward.

I remember feeling I was stuck in a job – in the family business I had helped build. It was out of obligation to my mom, who would’ve felt terrible if she had known how miserable I was. Just as I was about to throw in the towel, my step sister said those magic words that led to one of the biggest changes I had ever made. She said simply ‘Can’t you sell the business?’. And in spite of my own doubts and fears, and without knowing my next step, I did just that. Ultimately, I landed in a position within a University and was surrounded by people that empowered me.

The things that scare us the most, the things that force us out of our own comfortable blankets, are the things that were meant to take us away from misery and carry us into peace and contentment. But first, we must be uncomfortable, and use the power of Faith to cling to – for better or for worse. We never know what lies ahead if we never take the first step. Life is about movement, and balance, and belief in a power much greater than ourselves. We were built for change. Life is change and love all wrapped up in a big messy bow. Embrace that. 

Skating Story

Lacing up.

The boot shot up to the bottom fold of my calf muscle and clung to the plate and wheels by bolts, but when I laced up, these funky skates became my very own superpower. I may have been alone at home. I may have felt small and insignificant as a sprouting 9 year old, but these skates acted as my security blanket that also happened to double as my cape. With them on, I could go places. I could move faster, stand taller, and do jumps and spins that lifted me and empowered me into being an extraordinary being. Not everyone could do what I could do.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way. There were probably very few skaters with less natural talent than me. I wasn’t born into it. I wasn’t born to skate. I wasn’t built for it. I had more curves. I was bulkier, and my legs were short – but strong. All I knew was that when I started on this journey, 3 long years ago, I couldn’t keep me feet beneath my body long enough to flee from the side wall. I felt just like a slimy scaley oversized fish flailing about on a sheet of ice. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to be a gracefully, flowing, flowering skating princess. Every fiber of my being wanted it, and so it would be.

I worked hard, listened to everything my coaches told me to do – begrudgingly at times – but still. I knew what had to be done, and I did it, no matter how many times I fell. No matter how many times I lost, and came in 25th out of 25. I knew someday, it would all pay off. I just had to want it badly enough. That’s what my coach told me, day after day, practice after grueling practice. And while my more talented friends cut-up and bantered their way through, I remained focused on becoming great. 

Practices were quiet. I remember soft piano music playing over the speakers, the doors open to the springtime morning air, and Saturday mornings with their promise of freedom and whispers of innocent surrenders. I remember being in the moment, lost in concentration. For hours on end. The smells of polyurethane and wood floors, the gluey-inky smell of skate polish and sweat, the smoky 1980s air, because nobody knew second hand smoke was not the most glorious thing for skater lungs.  I remember the aches of muscle fatigue, and walking out into the 40 degree air wearing nothing but a skating dress, hose, and flourescent orange jelly shoes. I remember my first win, and I remember the last loss. But what I most remember is that I was surrounded by support – my skating family was everything, and my belief in working through your limitations became the most crucial lesson I could’ve possibly learned to live THIS life.

The Mid-Life Crisis

She sits alone in the dark at 40. Her fingers -sore from stitching, but she takes such pride in her beautiful creations. She can make anything beautiful with her hands as if the Creator himself worked through her. She feels a little older each day, but her heart – oh her heart – is young and so full sometimes that it becomes heavy with worry. How to raise these two boys without their father. How to make ends meet without her other half. She may have taken care of him as the Cancer grew. She may have tended to his every need, and gotten up with him through all hours of the night, pleading with him to just sleep. She may have prayed more than anyone ever knew, that he could just feel good again, that he could just be okay. But the day he died, a piece of her died along with him. And now she’s here with the weight of the world, with two loving boys. And they’re a couple of hands full, and she’s a big heart full of determination. She loves Christ, and that Son will see her through.

A half a lifetime later, another mother sits alone in the dark at 40. Her mind is strong and resilient. She’s made hard decisions along the way, but her young business is just beginning to blossom in the midst of her turbulent home life. Everything her mind and heart touches turns to gold, as if the Creator himself painted it that way Himself. She doesn’t just make it, she thrives. Her spirit is bold and courageous beyond measure. How to raise this daughter without her father. How to keep her safe and protected. How to nurture her in the same way her father once did when he was healthy – when they were two peas in a ripe old pod. She may have tended to his every need, and gotten up with him through all hours of the night, pleading with him to just sleep. Pleading with him that he didn’t really need to get dressed and get driven around the Smokies. She had a small company to run in the morning, afterall. She may have prayed more than anyone could have imagined, and journaled, and then prayed some more. She wanted him to watch their daughter grow, because it’s all he said he was staying alive to do. But she knew he didn’t have long without kidneys, with one leg, and with the Diabetis eating away at his organs – one by one. But the day he died, a piece of her died along with him. And now she’s here with the weight of the world squarely upon her shoulders, and one 11 year old daughter. But she loves Christ, and has always leaned upon Him. That Son will see her through.

Again, a half a lifetime later, and I’m the mother who sits alone in the dark at 40. My hands are busy typing, but nowhere as busy as my mind. I don’t have the sewing skill of my grandmother, or the business mindset of my mother, but I’ve also made some hard decisions along the way. I have tools, resources, legacies. I am equipped with the strength to carry on, because they did. And while I’ll never be able to create like my mamaw, or be as financially successful as my mother, I learned the best skill on earth from both of them – the superpower of being a solo mom. While my oldest son still has a wonderful Father and stepmom in his life, my youngest does not. I didn’t know at the time, but 40 would be the last we would hear from Ethan’s dad. At least so far, a year later. And while I am up for the challenge, I must admit that I am deeply saddened by the disease that has taken this amazing dad from our child. I know my mom and mamaw felt much the same way, and I understand both of them now more than ever because of my own journey. I know now, as they did. A piece of me died the day he made his hard choice. And now I’m here, with the weight of the world on my shoulders, and one son with an absent father. But I love Christ, and follow him.That Son will see us through.