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.

Serendipity

Not gonna lie. I was dreading yesterday’s trip to Morristown after the previous night’s Halloween candy drunkenness. I knew it would be a challenge to wake up with a belly full of chocolate and a mind full of apprehension. After all, I had only been to Morristown a few times in my life and I had no idea where I was going or how I would structure my day. And as a planner, the unknowns were eating me from the inside out.

When my 10:40 am interview walked in flustered and nervous because she was a few minutes late and expressed that she ‘never thought she would find this place’, I had no idea that what I was about to experience would be nothing short of memorable and therapeutic.

What began as a rather typical and routine interview gradually became exactly the therapy and cathartic conversation that I had hungered for all week. You see “Jane” had just recently moved back home from a 3 year stint in super-expensive California. And as we discussed cost of living and job experiences, we somehow wandered into the very hidden and forbidden corners of her past struggles.

“Jane” was a recovering addict with 4 years of sobriety under her belt. And for me, who was currently celebrating one year of my ex-husband and son’s father being clean and sober, I was intrigued by both her transparency and her resilience.

As we talked, and as I shared my exhaustive experience with watching loved ones become addicted and the challenges presented by those addictions, she made a very astute and insightful observation. She said “people like that are drawn by people like you, because they need people like you”.

I was floored.

How did she know that my #1 strength was forgiveness? How did God know that my #1 strength was forgiveness? I mean, he must’ve known, right? Why else would I have experienced best friends with addicted parents, sometimes with violent upbringings? Why else would I have married and then conceived with a man who was wonderful but who became addicted to drugs at precisely the time we were expecting our child together?

And just like that, this girl who had walked through my door at work as a stranger applying for a position, revealed herself as a soulmate. So much so that I can’t stop thinking about her story, about her resilience as a human being.

She felt that giving up on her life in California because of a ridiculous cost of living, was a sign of her failure. She couldn’t be more wrong. And this is what I expressed to her. Because sometimes we must return to where we were, what we were, where we came from, in order to fully understand how far we’ve come. And returning home sometimes, is simply a manifestation of our success, not of our failure.

When we are honest with ourselves, success has little to do with what we have and everything to do with what we are – to others, to the world, and to ourselves.

It turns out that my new friend has returned home to a loving family, a new romance, and a fully opened and forgiving heart that extends and overflows to everyone whose life she touches.

No matter if she ‘ gets the job’ or not, I think we will both be forever touched by our interview/ therapy time. I don’t have the credentials nor the education to counsel others, but what I can do is to experience those moments that are crucial to growth for both myself as well as the person whose life connects with my own in whatever way our Creator has planned for that to happen.

These moments are the seeds of joy. They are opportunities for learning about ourselves, but they are also opportunities to connect with this ONE wonderful body of humanity with which we have the possibility of sharing with, connecting to, and becoming part of every day and in any unassuming way. This is what life offers us…

So take that meeting. Make that moment count. And connect. Always connect when you can. Even if your boss says to ‘rush through’ because of numbers. Numbers will always remain constant and unchanging. Numbers will not make your life richer. Moments will.

Namaste

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Count them All

Is it just me, or have you ever noticed that just when you’re sulking the deepest ever in your own sulk is exactly the moment when God throws a great big ugly beautiful truth at you and forces you to recognize your blessings in the kindest most Godly way imaginable? It may be just me. Or maybe not. All I know is that is exactly the perfect summation for my week so far.

See, I started on yet another new journey in the ‘career’ portion of my life just a few weeks ago. I was at that terribly awkward space where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that every member of my team would benefit from my departure. Not from a lack of my efforts, and not from a lack of my desire to please others, but from the sheer misfortune of failure and disappointment at being crappy at my job no matter what I tried. It was a lonely place and a depressing one, and the fog just refused to leave and take with it that big black cloud of apparent incompetence. So I found a new career path, which by the grace of God, took no time at all to find.

I quickly transitioned from a student support rep for a University to a recruiter for a solid international staffing firm. It’s a no-brainer really. After serving time recruiting and managing as a small business owner, and then guiding students on their career paths, recruiting is an obvious next step. Of course, I want a forever step, but only time will tell. I need to finally be good at this ONE job I have to do.

Rewind (yes, I said that) to yesterday. I left my new career feeling rather defeated after covering for two branches. I didn’t feel that I had done my best even though I hadn’t taken a moment to breath all day. I was questioning my ability with people and even more so….my ability to learn. I had gone home, taken very little time to take care of my youngest son, and had sulked in bed wondering if I truly ‘had it in me’ to help people in the way that I want & in the way that my organization needs.

After praying myself to sleep, I woke up with a mission and with conviction. I would give it my all, and that would be enough. So halfway through the day, these two charismatic ladies walked through my door with three mentally challenged men. They told me that their guys wanted to interview. So I quickly had the men sign in, and I took them one by one for very simple but realistic interviews. I told each of them about our jobs loading trucks and each of them instantly wanted the positions. While their coaches winked at me, and whispered some guidance, I watched each of the men’s faces light up with hope. And while none of them are ready to work according to their coaches, each of them left with a real sense of what a true interview entailed.

My lesson? We are all in the right place in the right time – in God’s time. We can feel sorry for ourselves all we want, but at the end of the day, what matters most is that we are real-life, well-rounded human beings, with hearts and souls and the drive to do what’s right. On a superficial level, these ladies will likely remember my company for our ability to sympathize and adapt to the situation. On a much deeper level, I acted just as God would’ve wanted. That doesn’t happen everyday. I’m nowhere near perfect. But I heard my purpose today, and I think that in itself is a full-blown blessing.

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.

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.