Tag Archives: family

Solitary Contentment

Do I enjoy alone time? Absolutely! I always have. I can remember as a young child, sitting in my room, listening to albums & playing paper dolls for hours on end. On some days, the only reason I left my room was to eat. Truth be told, If I had been blessed with a real working kitchen in my room (at least with a microwave, fridge, and pantry), my mom and dad probably would’ve entirely forgotten me!

While mom was busy taking care of my dad, I was busy amusing myself. Not that she didn’t do her part of the raising, but the ‘entertaining’ part was up to me, especially after dad’s kidneys failed.

As only children, most of us learn at a young age how to self-entertain, self-console, maybe even become self-aware, and have a strong sense of self-love. Maybe that’s why we (as a species;) come across as so self-absorbed. In reality, most onlies that I know are actually so self-aware that we can become rather lost in our own thoughts and appear to not care what others are feeling or thinking at all. BUT also in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us truly want to understand others, but we’re too afraid of putting ourselves out there, which is really what it takes to form healthy relationships.

As onlies, we don’t always know how to relate to others or how to reach out and ask others for help. When we feel as though our worlds are crumbling, many of us turn inward, to the only person we can fully rely upon; ourselves. That’s not to say that people with siblings aren’t the same way at times, but I would say that onlies have nailed the whole solitary confinement thing….to a fault.

I remember when my boyfriend (also an only) and I started dating. We fervently read every article and blog we could find on ‘only’ couples… ‘only’ to find discouragement and disappointment. Most opinions and stories erred on the side of either ‘don’t do it’ or ‘it never works out’. After almost two years together, I think we would both agree that this is not true. Like any other relationship between any two people, effort has to be made, people cannot take one another for granted, and compromise and full communication should be practiced daily.

In fact, I would say that the most difficult factor in an only dating an only is that we are so fiercely wired to turn inward when we don’t know how to react to an emotion that we choose instead to bottle up the hurt. While my boyfriend and I rarely fight, I can honestly say that any and all of the disagreements we’ve had have resulted from one thing; a lack of communication.

Lesson… in progress…

Still, communication takes lots and lots of effort from both people. Leaning on each other when we’re accustomed to sucking it up solo is the first step. While that feels a bit awkward and out of our neat little boxes, it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as I had expected. I think this is monumental and essential for all couples, but especially for relationships involving two onlies.

While one only can understand another only better than anyone, we also tend to have the same passive aggressive tendencies, and let things go on far longer than we should. It’s far easier and less confrontational to shove those small disagreements under a rug than to sweep them out into the open and work through the kinks. Unfortunately, as we all know, if you gather enough small things together they collectively become a very huge thing. That huge conflict under the rug becomes a major obstacle over which neither of us can avoid tripping.  And because we really ARE two separate people, with two separate pasts and two separate loads of dirty laundry baggage, we’re not always going to completely understand. And that’s okay.

We all come at these relationships with our own muddled perceptions, and whether we’re onlies or otherwise, it takes oodles of communication, effort, and determination to build a strong healthy relationship. But above and beyond everything else that takes effort in this world, love is worth every last bit of blood, sweat, and tears. After all, we may have come into this world alone, but that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live a lonely life. Like my good friend Michelle always says (and I couldn’t agree more), there really is a ‘lid for every pot’.

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Digging Deep

I am stepping out of my comfort zone tomorrow. I’ve already done some hard stuff. I’ve sold the family business, stopped earning money, changed the course of my life entirely, but this appointment with a college adviser is scaring the dickens out of me. What if I’m too old a dog to learn new tricks? What if I make it all the way to my own classroom and hate it? Life would be so much easier if we could just read ahead, skip a few chapters, or fast forward like Adam Sandler in ‘Click’. I think this may just be where Faith has to shine the brightest. When we’re standing at a crossroads. When nothing is certain, everything is possible, and answers end in questions, instead of the other way around. But it’s like that old adage, ‘I don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here’. I have zero desire to stay home every day of my life without feeling that I have a true purpose.

Without a job, every morning I feel heavier in my bed. I feel like gravity is holding me down, and the weight of unknowing is starting to inch it’s way to my Faith, to my confidence, and to my spirit. It’s crazy really. For the first month, I participated in a 100 mile running challenge that effortlessly pulled me straight out of bed, out the door to Ethan’s summer camp, and off in a mad dash to whatever new trail I had discovered for the morning. Then there was the first week of July when I was on vacation, and had the purpose of making memories & sharing adventures with my sister, nephew, and my boys. Now, I’m experiencing an odd have-little-to-do week between trips, and I must admit that I’m a little lost. I’ve written, looked for jobs, scheduled appointments, cleaned the house, tied up more loose ends with the business, watched a movie, worked out, played in the kitchen with tons of Pinterest recipes, but still. I don’t know how to be still.

And that is what I am learning. I want to learn to be still, but I don’t want to necessarily become content with being still. This girl’s life needs to move forward. The restlessness that began this journey of change has not yet been satisfied.

So I will wake up tomorrow and dig deep for the courage to take a step in a direction that I feel in my gut will be extremely difficult, and take solace in the fact that, once I am off and going in this direction of full time school/ full time work/ full time mom, I won’t have time to remember being still. And still. We must move with purpose, even if we’re just faking for the moment.

The branch and the tree

We’ve all heard that rusty old adage about the branch not falling far from the tree, but most of us were made from two trees. When you look deep inside yourself, do you see more of your mom or your dad? When you look on the surface of yourself, the physical traits, maybe the ‘you’ that you reveal to the outside world, do you see mama tree or papa tree? For whatever reason, during my morning meditation, my mind got stuck in this fascination, so much so that I started seeing everyone in my with their own bodies and their parents’ faces. It should be say that my mind is supposed to be clear for meditation and I take no drugs whatsoever.;)

My dad was the ‘people’ person of my parents. My mom also was a people person, but on a quieter less severe scale. Dad would do just about anything to make people laugh and he always wanted to rescue people & lift them up, even if sometimes there situations were much to heavy & they weren’t helping themselves. ‘That sounds a whole lot like me’ I think (outloud). And it does! Those are wonderful traits that can also be terrible traits when you allow yourself to fall too deeply into other peoples’ pits. Take that pit as a pun, if you want. As it is, I have completely and unintentionally duplicated my dad’s ‘good samaritan’ side, so much so that it almost destroyed me on numerous occasions. It turns out that dad’s ‘coat off his back’ looked better on him than on me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am Christian. I strive to be like Jesus every day, but I am trying to be more like the man and less like his shoes. Shoes always end up falling apart.

My mom was the ‘strong’ person of my parents. She was the spirit that held our family together. She was my ‘little voice’, and the reason I made so many of the right choices I’ve made in my life. Don’t get me wrong. My mom was extremely generous too. She would let people come back and work for the company more times than I would’ve ever thought to. She had more confidence than she ever let on, but sometimes her pride would fail her. She trusted until you gave her a reason not to, and she believed that everyone should be treated fairly and equally. She was one of the least judgemental people I ever knew and she believed that everyone should have a fighting chance at success. I like to think that I follow in her foot steps. I like to think I landed close to her tree too.

I honestly feel that most of our branches that have fallen close to both of our trees. We got through life, get buried with burden, survive and bloom and grow. That’s how life goes. Some of us were blessed with two amazing parents, whether they remained together or not.

I was blessed in that sense. While my dad was just on this eart for 44 years, and mom for 64, they squeezed more love into their short lives than I can fully comprehend, which is why I am happy that this branch did not fall far from her trees, that I can still see the forest, and that growth is forever possible even after older trees die out.

Tracks of My Fears

I have always, and I mean always, had an unexplainable desire to go off by myself and hike the AT, or get lost in the woods for a few weeks, or get lost in a city without ever speaking to a soul. That’s not depression. That’s just me. That’s not me vying for attention, or trying to get people to worry, or trying to prove something. No! Instead, it’s quite the opposite. That’s just me wanting to become better acquainted with…well, me.

A couple of weeks ago, I almost gave up publicly posting anything to my blog, or anywhere for that matter. My boyfriend and my best friend were worried about me because of things that I had posted. They didn’t understand, and I can appreciate that. Writing has always, and I mean always, been my outlet. When I feel powerless over the direction of my day, powerless over the intensity of my emotion, or powerless over my powerlessness, I write to protect myself from becoming too sad. Since I started publicly blogging 18 months ago, I have felt an added layer of satisfaction and fullfillment with my writing therapy. Somehow, sharing what’s going on in my head with a large of community of people makes me feel less selfish, and more like a part of something much bigger than myself.

Last night, I watched the movie ‘Tracks”. If you haven’t seen it or are unfamiliar, the movie is a re-telling of a real life event where a woman takes off on a long journey with four camels and her black dog to trapse across the deserts of Australia on foot. Some movie reviewers take issue with what they consider the movie’s lack of character development or a lack of plot in general. I have to disagree, even though I am always a fan of a good character developing plot. I love getting into other peoples’ heads. It truly is my favorite thing to do. But there is something about the acting of the Mia Wasikowska and her depiction of the real life heroine Robyn Davidson that cut me to the core, and left me with a deeper understanding even though the dialogue was almost non-existant. You can learn so much from just flashbacks, expressions, and body language, and that IS the magic of fantastic acting.

I doubt that I will ever trapse across a desert, hike the AT, get lost in the woods, or get lost in a city without ever speaking to another soul. At least I doubt I will do any of these things alone. But there is something to be said for taking a pause in life to just be, and learn, and delve deeper into the whys and fears of your own mind. Getting in touch with the soul is a powerful way to denounce that pestering ego that tends to kill our happiness with all of its untrusting and demeaning ways. But, having said that, just a word of caution. TOO MUCH time alone, delving deeper into the soul, can lead to an isolated spirit, separating you from those you  love & making you feel like you’ve fallen out of the universe, and are no longer part of something bigger. As humans, we all need to feel that we are part of something bigger, whether we belong to any labeled religion or not. It’s all in how we are wired.

So take a few breaths today. Maybe even meditate your way across a mental desert, but go deeper into you, to love you, and understand you, and watch as your tracks become a guide for those who have been lost themselves.

how this only prevents the lonelies

I remember as a child, sitting in the room of our little basement rancher playing paper dolls for hours on end.   My parents would be doing their thing. Typically, dad would be down in the basement building go-carts, or out in the carport waxing his super cool Knight Rider Trans-Am. Mom would be downstairs as well doing 6 loads of laundry that had accumulated through the week. I didn’t know what boredom was. I’ve never known the meaning of boredom.

Today was the ultimate only day. My boyfriend is gone on vacation, both of my boys are at their other homes, and my Hayley dog and I have had the day completely to ourselves. The only exception was that I watched my youngest play in a heartbreaking soccer game this morning, so I was afforded the pleasure of mingling with my parent friends & running up and down the field yelling for just one more goal. At that point, I had already had breakfast, worked out, showered, and succesfully landed myself at the start of the game with minutes to spare. That’s very unusual for this fashionably late little lady..

After the game, I stopped by the car wash, scrubbed and detailed my Sante Fe that I hadn’t driven in over a year, making sure to finger nail all of the nooks and crannies for french fry crumbs & other funky unmentionables that had gathered in inconvenient cracks and crevices. I came home, ate lunch, felt sleepy, and proceeded to change into my swimsuit for a sunbathing siesta. Why not? Time has been my friend today afterall. Time was my buffet, my smorgasboard to fill however I chose. After about 30 minutes of laying there upon awakening, trying to decide if moving my tired muscles in order to arouse them back into production was really worth it, the workaholic part of me won out. So I got up, mulched, and pulled, and tugged, and weeded out in my three small flower beds until sweat was dripping, and my face had turned a brighter shade of apple.

That would have probably been enough, but not for me. I was on a roll. I came back inside, folded two loads of laundry, and worked out yet again. I finished the day with shorts shopping and a visit to Earthfare. In between some of that, I talked to my boyfriend’s mom, who had called to tease me about picking up Doug. We had our usual banter over who would get the privelege, but I finally won out. The call from her pretty much made my day.

I wouldn’t want to be alone every day of my life. I have a strong belief that we all need people. But having this day by myself was refreshing. There was no tv watching, although there was lots and lots of music. Hayley got more than her fair share of dog walks, and my own thoughts never failed to keep me entertained. I miss my boys. I miss my man. But what I learn on days like these is that I also miss myself sometimes. It feels good to be reunited with me.

Focus on What You Want

We all need downtime, and we should all make room for that in our lives. What that downtime looks like, is not the same for everyone, or every time. I love writing, but sometimes the juices aren’t flowing in the direction that they should, and writing becomes a burden rather than a pleasure. Downtime is not the time for burdens.

In similar news, I started the week meeting with a bunch of my favorite women at a Reiki gathering. I received and shared so much during this gathering that I could write a novel. One of the topics we discussed was how we were all in transition periods of our lives. Some of us knew where we were headed. Others of us did not. What my dear friend Carolyn suggested was that we all ‘Focus on What We Want’, even if we didn’t know what that really looks like. We know what it ‘feels’ like, and that’s where we could zoom in, and experience the emotion. I can do that so easily that I can almost ‘taste’ my dreams!!

When you really think about it, it’s easy for us all to get so wrapped up in the self-pity trap that we forget how to focus on those things for which we are grateful. We forget the blessings, or at least choose to focus on the pitfalls instead, and we do this even though we KNOW better, because we are silly humans. I get it. It’s not always easy to focus on the rainbow above you when you’re stuck drowning int he quicksand below you. We must clear it away. We must clear away the muck before we can shine the gold that is our intended purpose – the life that brings us joy.

My friend and fellow blogger Karen wrote today a very vulnerable post about a crossroads she experienced many years ago after her father passed. She wrote about losing her joy, about how she went through the motions of life, and rather than experiencing joy or zest, she had wanted to end her life at that pivotal time because without joy, life is not worth living. I’ve been there too. Sometimes because of death, other times divorce, and still other times because of financial setbacks over which I had little control.

But joy is fleeting. We cannot feel it all of the time. If we NEVER feel it, then we are depressed. If we sometimes feel it, then I think that means we’re okay, that we have balance in our lives. Still, I can’t think of any reason not to focus on JOY. I think we all should focus on joy from time to time. The more we focus on something, the more likely we are to attain that.

So get out there and Focus On What You Want, but don’t forget to savor and feel gratitude for what you already have.

Bitter Beginnings

When you know that you’re supposed to be with someone; that there is no one else in the world so perfect for you. When you know that that someone makes you happier than you knew possible. When you sleep more peacefully with that someone than you do alone, because you feel safe, secure, and protected for once. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with circumstances, but that’s also when you know, that as long as it takes, and as long as you need to wait, you absolutely will.

As a single mom of two wonderful boys, I find myself frustrated almost every Friday night. My boyfriend and I had 6 months of every other weekend spent together, bonding, getting to know each other, exploring cities and cultures together. But in light of current circumstances, i.e. one of the dads cannot be trusted to keep my child, we have had to put our ‘alone together’ time on hold. There was no question about that. His safety/ happiness is first.

Where does that leave us – two star-crossed lovers, crazy about each other, and always wanting more? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Faith. Like everything else leading up to ‘us’, this time just makes us appreciate one another more; makes us enjoy time alone together exponentially more, and gives us time to fantasize and daydream about how we want our lives to be…until that fantasy becomes a reality.

Love isn’t ever perfect. There are always obstacles, challenges, and battles.  But when you find you’re one, the peace sets in, and God whispers gently ‘I got this’. The amazing thing is that he truly does.  As for ‘mine and me’, I don’t ever question that. God has been in this relationship the entire time. There has never been just HE and I, and that is how I KNOW this is forever.

All About Stars

Last night, my son and I read ‘How to Catch a Star’. A wonderful children’s book all about trying to attain something too far away, something impossible, that at first seemed quite possible. The main character attempts many times to reach and capture the star using various methods, and at the end, finally captures not a celestial body but rather a star fish – just sitting there for the taking.

Tonight, both of my sons and I watched ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, an adaptation of the John Greene novel bearing the same name, about two Cancer ridden teens who fall madly and deeply in love. Again, something that seems so possible – falling in love – becomes something that seems completely impossible, living out that love. What we took away from this gruelingly sad story however, was that the ‘stars’ we were looking for were not the stars we captured, and (as it turns out) maybe it truly is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Having experienced so many losses in a small period of time, I think we all understood the message of this plot in its entirety. The story initiated a conversation between my boys and I about the shortness of life, about the sense of urgency that exists and results from an understanding that living is only a moment, and we are fortunate enough to have the ability to choose in this moment how we wish to spend it, how we wish to live this life. And if we are blessed enough to have our health within this moment, we should live it to the fullest, reaching for every star along the way – be they reachable or completely impossible.

I have been struggling with impossibilities lately myself. Whether or not I can continue breathing life into a company I didn’t create, whether or not I will be completely accepted by those I love, baggage and all. But what the combination of these two starry nights have revealed to me is that it’s all about perspective. Whether or not we choose to believe we can reach those stars, those wants & dreams, we have that choice, and that in itself is a miracle. We may not get what we’re reaching for in the way we imagined, but if we believe we can lasso a star, we will do just that – even if only for a moment. And it’s in those moments of living life that purpose is revealed, love is captured, and our stars become aligned for the taking.

Growing Pains

It was only our second day together, Doug, his parents, and me, but it felt like the 100th. I don’t know how it happens, but it seems that almost every time I visit with someone lately, we all end up in tears. In this case, as in many, those tears were tears were of grief for loved ones lost. Do I feel more connected with my boyfriend’s parents now? Absolutely. Do I feel good about bringing them to tears? Not so much. But as Doug pointed out today, we never really move on when someone we love dies. Instead, we go through a process of acceptance. We’re all trying to accept their absence, just muddling along sometimes, and for me – a year later – still wanting to pick up the phone to call my mom just one more time. Especially on today, her birthday.

I feel that she has never fully left me. Sure, we can’t hop in the car and go shopping together. We can’t go and price new customers & discuss our estimates. And yet, I still have those conversations with her in my mind. That’s how I get through, and how I don’t move on, but I have gained acceptance that I will never again see her here on Earth. The clothes she wears now, don’t start out with pricetags, but with ethereal flow, they’re free just like she is now. Free from Cancer. Free from worry. Free from wonder. I feel like she’s become my cheerleader. My life in the last year has seen some drastic changes that began with her passing and has ended with my stepdad in a new relationship, and with me in the very relationship I was always meant to experience.

For me, death is not just sorrowful and feared, but also life-altering for all those left behind, and not always in a bad way. When my father passed just months before my 12th birthday, my mom and I became closer than we had ever been before. We no longer lived in hospitals, and we spent tons of time finally getting to really know each other after years of tending to dad’s needs. With mom’s passing, I’ve learned so far that life is too fleeting for hesitation, that if we feel compelled to do something or be with someone, that’s exactly what we should do, regardless of the doubts and fears involved. My Faith and confidence are at an all time high, as if she’s whispering in my ear, and I’m listening to her now more than when she was living.

The other not-so-bad thing about death is that the very experience of watching someone we love die, is a bonding experience. Death connects us in a way that nothing else will, because we all must experience it, and we’re all profoundly affected. This becomes a spiritual connection, I believe, and that’s why we share tears. When your spirit becomes part of the conversation, something is moved, something changes, and people unite in grief. Look at 9/11 afterall. That’s not to say that death is the ultimate goal, but it is to say that death is inevitable, and making the best of something so tragic is the healthiest and really, most Godly thing, we can do as humans. We should never shy away from conversations that move us spiritually just because they’re a little painful. Afterall, we still have growing pains, even as adults. It’s just that now, are legs aren’t the target of those pains. Instead, it’s our hearts that must grow, and THAT is a beautiful thing.

Reflection on the mirror

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a reflection worth? For most of my life, I would’ve answered ‘about five cents’. I never gave much credit to my own reflection. She was too short, too stout, with chunky cone-shaped legs, a muffin top, and sagging breasts. In fact, this dialogue had gone on so long inside of my own head that I had grown quite comfortable with the discomfort of myself within my own skin. Apparently, and to my surprise, many of those around me have had the same struggle. It was always easy to accept the inside of me, to even ‘love’ myself internally without ever ‘accepting’ myself externally. When we are self-aware, we become pros at this dynamic – loving one part, and rejecting the other. 

The problem is that if we do not accept and embrace our complete selves, then can we really ever ‘love’ ourselves? When we fall in love with someone, we generally love them completely, or at least – that’s how we should love. 

We all have a choice in this. If we do not love some part of ourselves, we have an opportunity each and every day to change that part for the better, and if we focus on what we want to become – I truly believe that is what we will become. But we cannot settle for our own excuses, and that my friends, is difficult. 

As for my own story, I have been putting in the work for a few years now, the fix what was broken inside of me that caused me to linger on the negatives I saw in my reflection. That work began on the inside, the spirtitual, the psychological, the emotional, and eventually transcended to the outside once I felt stable enough to add that work. I have always worked out in some way – yoga, pilates, kickboxing, running – but I never could achieve that ‘number’ – size, weight, measurements, that I so desparately wanted….until now. I had to get to that place in my mind where the voice pushed me farther when I wanted to quit. I had to delve deep down into my ‘hunger’, into my relationship with food, to understand why my choices were sabatoging my journey. 

In our society, food is largely accepted as its own reward. We socialize around food, comfort with food, and reward with food. But food isn’t really the problem here, anymore than a gun without an operator kills. We need to fully understand our thought process, question our own ‘hunger’, and most of all, we need to stop telling ourselves that eating healthy means we are depriving ourselves of the very happiness that others around us have the joy of receiving. When we make choices, they only effect our own bodies.

I am not perfect, by any means. And as my boyfriend would tell you, I still have slight mood swings when I eat foods that are unhealthy because I still battle the guilt of those choices. But for the most part, I make good choices now because I am motivated by this new feeling of acceptance that I have for – not just the inside of me – but for the outside as well. It has taken me almost 38 years, but for the first time in my life, I believe that a reflection is worth a gazillion words, and not just pretty words, but words of strength and self-awareness. I have a deep-seeded need to help others get here, not for reasons of vanity but for reasons of acceptance and self-love, because in all reality, if we stop battling ourselves, we also stop battling everyone around us who love us. We cannot change our reality by excusing ourselves. We can only change our reality by accepting ourselves. Acceptance and self-love ripples from us and into our relationships by transforming self-doubt into self-love, which also just happens to make happinesss a little more contagious.