Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Quiet Feliz Navidad

What a week… a month… a year…

Christmas Musicals for the hubby.
Class parties for the LM.
Family visits.
The first children's choir performance in the mini-chapel:

And then, the Christmas Eve Children’s performance (my little shepherd was distracted by his flock):

It’s Christmas Day and this is the first year of my life that I haven’t celebrated Christmas with any extended family. Last night was hard, but today has been nice. We rolled out of bed late- luckily our son is just as much of a night owl as we are. I made Texas buttermilk biscuits & gravy, and then we listened to Christmas music while opening and playing with presents.

I crafted some Skyline Chili pie for the hubby, some cranberry jello salad, and cream cheese butter mint cookies to carry us through the day. While simple, all have been tasty and a mix of the old and new. Our gifts were nice, but simple and useful. I am sticking to my guns about too much surplus in my life and while I still have materialist desires and attractions (“ohhh, shiny!”) I find it easier and easier to say no.

Last month, LM was very suspicious of Santa and peppered me with questions that I mostly evaded. I’ve always had conflicting feelings about Santa- I honor the spirit, but I’m not a fan of perpetuating the myths associated with the man in red. We haven’t much pushed the issue through the year and haven’t built it up too much. We do leave cookies and a note and a few associated theatrics. But with my doubting son this year, there was no letter to Santa and no real build up.

That is- until yesterday, Christmas Eve. We pulled up the NORAD tracker to see where Santa had delivered presents. Suddenly we had a month of catch up to do! We emailed Santa and got a quick reply (gotta love technology!) and left him snacks & reindeer treats, along with a letter.

And boy did Santa deliver:

He left his crumbs and a nice note and a really fun present- Perry-okee, a rather elaborate karaoke system tied in with the show. I like that we shop together and honor the process of gifts for each other (I want my son to be bother generous and grateful), while also getting a special gift from Santa. And I must admit, I’m really glad he came and that the magic happened.

My dad, stepmom, and sisters came to visit this last week, staying five days before flying home on Friday. With the time difference, my lingering sinus infection and the fact that they are morning people and we are not, we got a late start every morning and I felt like a rather weak hostess. But we had a pretty relaxed time, eating our way through the week. We did a few touristy things, which were as unimpressive to them as it had been to us the first time. They discovered the pain & redeness of Texas traffic, which I negotiated in a rented GMC Arcadia, aka “The Bus.” We didn’t get to bond as much as I would have liked and I wasn’t able to deliver on the kind of gifts I would have liked to give, but I am glad they came. Next time, though, I want family to visit after Christmas to negate that awful empty feeling when they leave.

I’ve tried to reach out to so many groups and individuals since moving here, but nothing has seemed to “take” yet in terms of building meaningful friendships. I feel the absence of this most right now. While our little family is sweet and manageable, I really long sometimes to fill the house with friends and the chaos of children playing. I want my son to know those types of holidays and celebrations, and I miss it myself. I’m going to once again put some effort into opening up my tiny world this year.

But who knows what next year will bring? There’s a lot up in the air as we navigate the future. I am starting over from square one with the job search, after coming in #2 in the epic three-month process I just completed. And that’s okay- when I prayed, it was that I would have peace with whatever decision was reached. And I truly do (although I could use that $85 for the taxi cost back, lol). There are some good potentials on the horizon and tomorrow I will dedicate myself to some intense cover-letter crafting. I am only going to accept a job that I think I can build a future here in FW, so that I can be fair to both parties involved. If nothing materializes in the next month, I will take it as a sign to move into a more temporary job that leaves open for new adventures after internship.

We have more celebrations to look forward to- we may meet my mom half-way over MLK weekend to have our own Christmas. And there’s still new years- I think a quick, cheap trip to San Antonio to see the lights might be in order.

So just a quick Christmas note to remind me- and someday, LM- of the quiet magic of our lives. The days pass so quickly and there are more memories to capture.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm Bedazzling & Junk

I'm making stuff.
Really making stuff.

I've always been a bit crafty, a bit mad scientist. But usually I have a ton of paint, fabric and strange odds and ends that sit around impatiently waiting to be used in some glorious creation.

But I've been on Pinterest a lot lately and find myself with, *gasp*, free time (not working does allow for that). I'll add some of my food endeavors here in future posts, simply because I'm proud of what I've learned and how I've snuck some efficiency into my life.

But in an effort to start blogging- and stop thinking about it, I'll do a quick post of one of my projects this morning- making my own shaving cream.

Now, I'm a shave-aholic. I do it everyday, more for special occasions. I wear a lot of dresses and not many pairs of pantyhose, so it's an important part of not being mistaken for the Chupracabra. But more than that, I just loved how it feels.
And I love to indulge in shave gel. But at 1-2 cans a month, and around $2 per can, it irritates my frugal sensibilities. It's not that much money, but it's frustrating to get a can that doesn't spray right and have all sorts of wasted product. And I don't like the Dollar Store variety, so what to do?

Well, make it, of course.

People make their own products for different reasons. Some for frugality, some for control over ingredients, some for earth sustainability. I would say that all three factor into my current at home science experiments (oh yes, there are more. Many more).

But it's time I let you in on a little secret.

When I was little, we would go to my maternal grandparents house many times per week. I would often disappear into the bathroom for huge chunks of time, baffling my parents. Did I need more fiber in my diet? Did I find a wormhole into another dimension? Was I perusing the Playboy magazines that were under the National Geographic and Reader's Digest? Um, well, there was a bit if that, actually.

But mostly I was...

Performing a cooking show in the large bathroom mirror while imitating Julia Child.

Well, truth be told, I was more imitating the Swedish Chef imitating Julia Child.

Kinda like this:

Yes, welcome to my darkness.

I would carefully lay out a complex assortment of tissue on the counter, and then proceed to add my "ingredients." Lotions, Shower-to-Shower powder, a little glob of Noxzema, some lipstick... truly, nothing was safe. All narrated as I spoke into the camera big giant mirror, and usually carefully stirred with a Q-tip.

I was many things as a child. Lacking imagination I was not.

Imagine my disappointment when I had a burnt-out chemistry teacher in high school and found that I would not pursue a destiny of mixing crap for fun and profit.

But this episode of True Confessions has a point... (rustles around, looking for point).

Oh, yes. So, I made my own shave cream today. It's not all gloriously gel-like, but I may experiment that with some ideas about that. In the meantime, behold my creations:

I've been all over the interwebs (teehee) looking at recipes and suggestions. This is just my first, experimental batch, so keep that in mind if you want to use it. I will post updates on how it works and other recipes that I try.

DIY Shave Cream

1 Cup Shampoo
1 Cup Conditioner
7 Tablespoons of Body/ Hand Lotion
5 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Mix all together and let sit to thicken. I bought cheap sauce bottles from the kitchen section of a big box store (.99) and this recipe filled both with just a little room at the top to allow for shaking before use. I like these bottles because I think that they will allow for easy portion control and application.

I used cheap Suave products and lotion that my mom had left at my house. I think that a thicker hand cream would be nicer next time, along with experimenting with essential oils and some gel-ish thickening agents. Many other recipes used baby oil or olive oil- I had coconut oil because I've been reading about some of the great properties it is supposed to have. This is my first time using it, so we'll see.

It's nice to know that I would be putting those metal bottles in the garbage anymore and that I made something inexpensive and useful. And I am sticking it to the man!

Monday, November 7, 2011


The other big theme of my life is the nature of love.

Last week, my son and I tackled the question, "Why are we here?" He brought it up as we were driving to church Wednesday night. We discussed a lot of different philosophies and ways that people have answered this question throughout the ages. I emphasized our ability and responsibility to learn, to grow, to explore and honor truth. We talked about God and creation and gnawed on ideas.

But that is only part of my answer.

I forgot to talk about love.

The concept of a million faces and dimensions,

the subject of philosophers and poets,

the bane of the bitter and brokenhearted.

The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.

I am joined by a million in my chorus, but it has just recently dawned on me how vital this exploration is to the core of who I am. It's one of my sacred truths, a defining element to who I am.

To wrestle the angels, to look under the boulders...

We read books, watch movies, write, and enter into the messy tangle of humanity searching to understand and experience love in all of it's many incarnations.




The grandest, and yet infused in our very atoms.

And in this dawning of awareness, in this embracing of truth, I find an old friend who has been here the whole time, waiting for me to acknowledge what is and what shall be.

There is a greatest purpose growing in me, a parting of the curtain to a great light.

"If we ever leave a legacy, it's that we loved each other well."

I Always Wondered...

...what "stay at home" mothers did all day if their kids are in school.

And yet, I have plenty to do. It's rather amazing. And I haven't even been here to capture some of the highs and lows.

It's warmish again here in Texas, for the moment, and it's overcast and spitting rain at the moment. I need to clean and prep lunches and dinners for the week. I'm composing a thank-you letter for an interview. It's the third I've had for a nonprofit, and if I progress to the next level there will be at least two more. I haven't applied for many jobs and I am holding off in hopes that this job will be "The One." The pay & benefits would be an amazing blessing- it would change many aspects of our lives. It will be a big job, hard work, lots of responsibility, lots of hours. But important, and potentially life altering in mission and scope. I am cautiously optimistic, but it can be scary to care so much again. So I feel very zen at this point about it all. I feel like God has a plan and I'm doing my part- so I feel good about just letting it unfold. I am not going to push my will on this and I will trust that either outcome is the way it should be. This does not release me from the prep and follow-up that must be done, it just frees me to know that the work is not in vain, regardless of the results.

There are two concurrent themes of my life that I am working on right now. The first is based on the book I just read- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I saw it posted on a MeetUp group I had joined online and it prompted me to buy it and join a book club that met yesterday.

It was interesting to try on my brain again. It's been rather dormant. As has my socialization skills. It's nice to see neither is broken, just rusty. I'll keep greasing the wheels and explore my truths at the same time.

Anyway, back to the book- I enjoyed it. It was simple, but there were many places that I found immediate applications to my own life. I am committed to continuing my growth in this area and will share more as it develops.

One of the quotes that resounds with me from the book is:

The days are long, but the years are short.

As a parent, I found this especially striking and it rang the truth bell deep inside of me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Remember

I was putting the laundry in the dryer this morning and had to smile when I grabbed the dryer sheets. While I usually get generic, I found a good deal on some Snuggle last week.

My grandmother loved the Snuggle bear commercials.

She's been gone for over 21 years, and yet my brain still holds on to that fact.

I still miss her. I still wish she were here.
I wish she had been at my wedding, and had met my son.
She never knew me as an adult, and I often wonder if I would be the same if she had.
Would I make her proud?

And even as I typed these words, this song came into my head:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This Minute

Yikes- I totally skipped posting in September. I started a few posts and thought about more... but never published. I have so much to say about so many different things that I end up staying quiet. And I have been very quiet lately. There were some days lately where I didn't speak from 8am until 3pm. Solitude and silence are allowing me to explore.

So just a quick update as the dappled fall sunlight streams into my side windows. Life is good. I feel the hand of God on our lives. I'm not sure what direction we are going, but I'm trying to be still and learn. I have a lot more to say about that, but that's for an even quieter time.

We started the day with church and will end it again today with church. This amount of church is new to me. Spirituality is not new. Faith is not new. But the active dedicated of a large amount of time to the rigors of religion is, and there has been a bit of reckoning with that. Reckoning is good. Reaching into myself to pull out what is inside, and examining it, is an important aspect to by journey.

Spent some quality time at the pumpkin patch and exploring some rural areas today. We are home for about an hour and I might sneak out to the pool or hammock for a quick nap after I eat some great leftovers.

There have certainly been some rough stops and some things that have caused great fear. Yet, that is truly life. We buck up, we survive. And in the meantime we enjoy the whole crazy dance.

So nothing too deep today, but just a moment in time.

Off to have more.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Musical Notes

This song has haunted me all week- I have to get it "off my chest" so to speak.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Owning All My Truths

When I was 11 and my parents divorced, I learned the hard way that you lose friends when you show your true self, with all your flaws and brokenness. When you are sad and unsure and insecure and depressed and questioning the world. Kids don’t like to see that chaos. And neither, sometimes, do adults.

Oh sure, you say, that’s not how “true friends” are.
Not adults.
Sometimes, however, they are.

And I certainly say that now with a more accepting and forgiving heart than I had at 11 while watching friends blow me off as I struggled with my collapsing world. We all have our own journeys and sometimes we can’t walk fully with another the way they might need us to. I’ve been let down and I’ve let down others that I truly cared about. And as I have navigated the waters of being codependent, I’ve worked with boundaries and not feeling responsible for taking on- perhaps even feeding on- the need to be needed, to be the knight to sweep in and try to “save” everyone. I’ve let relationships fall away that I didn’t feel were mutually healthy and I’ve patched together a few that I know are a bit feeble, but that I’m not ready to give up on.

I do have close friends that I’ve let in, that I let myself be totally honest with and with whom I trust and relax enough to show myself in all my multifaceted glory- the good, the bad, the ugly, the stream of profanities. And I am still the kind of gal that wears a bit too much of my heart on my sleeve and speaks out a bit too freely. I’ve gotten better over the years- being a fundraiser will teach you that. Or maybe it’s worse. That’s an interesting debate. Is learning how to function in society, to conform to expectations a sign of maturity or simply defeat? I could argue it both ways, but then I am someone who dwells often in the multiple shades of gray. Not unsure, just comfortable knowing that truth and knowledge are fluid and subjective.

On Facebook I have a lot of friends who like to read my happy or snarky comments and observations. It makes me happy to make them happy. It’s a varied group of folks, from professional contacts and long-ago elementary friends with just the merest sliver of connection, to the closest of friends and family. I can be silly and explore my flair for the absurd and dramatic in 420 characters. There are hints of my life, hints of my ups and down, but they are like glimpses into a viewfinder. As well they should be. As protective as I can sometimes be, I am also quite guilty of the “overshare.”

But I promised myself that this blog would be for me. For my true self. My honest expressions. To please no one. To only try to explain and explore my own psyche and not play with and hide behind silly words. To be a place of seeing who I am. A place that I can change my mind and remake myself without having to defend it to anyone. And someday a place that I can share with LittleMan so that he can know a version of me that he wouldn’t otherwise.

Today was hard and I am writing here to explore why that was. It was the third day of school for LM. The routine is already set and is successful and comfortable. After I dropped him off I felt overwhelmingly lonely. Since I love my quiet introverted time, the feeling still surprises me. I know that it rationally makes sense- I have been uprooted again, to a place without friends or family. I don’t have a job or colleagues yet and I am also unsure of exactly the path I want to take. I know that these things will change with time. But once again, I am not going to shove down my current feelings. I am not going to try to wipe them away without feeling them fully. I get so sick of our society wanting that. “Get Well” as soon as you are sick; “Smile” as soon as you are sad. Let’s allow ourselves to examine the dark even as we walk towards the light.

So I’m not going to fake it, even as I know that the feelings are fleeting and soon will pass.
“The night can revel in utter darkness for it knows the dawn is near.”

As I drove to Starbucks this morning, I chewed on the lonely.
Examined it.
Tasted it.
In many ways it felt almost like the heartbreak of a break-up. I found myself thinking, “Aw, this was the special place we went to last week.” And “LittleMan would love this car wash.” And as songs came on the radio, I felt that familiar strain of it being “Our Song.” Songs that we like to sign to together. Songs that reminded me of him.

How strange, I thought, that these feelings feel so close to that of a break up. But instead of quashing the thought, I explored with it.

I carried this child in my body. Grew him. Nurtured him. Accepted him as the gift that he is and daily he acts as my proof of God’s love. I love him more deeply, more completely than any emotion I’ve ever know. I did not get to spend as much time I would have liked as he has grown. I had to work, to support us all. I don’t get that time back. And now this huge milestone reminds me of it. And reminds me that this is (maybe, could be, probably) my only chance for these moments.
My only child.

I feel deeply. I examine the world intensely. And here, at least, I will not paste a sticker on it and pretend to be otherwise.

I am proud and excited for my son. I am happy that I made the first day so great that he keeps saying that he wishes every day was the first day. I am excited to get to participate in his class and school. In fact, this job search that I am going to reluctantly embark on will be different from any I’ve ever taken. I am not looking for a specific job this time. I am looking to maintain my most important job of being Mother and filling the rest of the space with whatever else I will be.

Perhaps that too is a part of this feeling of regeneration. Facing the fact that I have no more excuses to hold me back from seizing a bit more life. No one ever said that the phoenix didn’t experience grief as it burned to ash.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And here we are

I'm in an apartment clubhouse, comfortable in air conditioning while listening to the piped in country music while glancing at the HGTV on mute. The area is empty, save for a few folks who will wander through from time to time.

It's still so surreal. I am in Texas. I live here.

What a strange few weeks. We took our time getting here, staying in Louisiana and then just over the Texas line in a town that you miss if you blink. Once we hit Fort Worth, we went straight to the school to register and then on to a cheap hotel gotten with Hotwire. Those five night in a cheap hotel seemed like they would last forever... and like that, it was over. Just another memory of too much Disney channel and swimming and putting together strange microwave meals on paper plates. Then the hubby was off to work and it was just me and the Little Man (LM). We moved into our next phase, which is the apartment we will be in for two weeks. It's been fun, actually. It's quite, a nice upscale community. We are on the second floor and it's a nice setup with thoughtful touches. I could see living here quite peacefully. We have blowup mattress and camp chairs and nice big closets, including a laundry right in the hallway. It's simple & easy and I find myself wanting to continue the kind of life were it's easy to keep things clean because you only have one pan. Okay, maybe I would add a few things, but even now I find myself chasing the boys to keep things clean and organized.

Besides feeling a sense of safety and settle, the best part has been the pool. It's a great resort-style pool with dual waterfalls and it glows green at night as we swim, usually alone. I can't believe how little the resident seem to use the pool, but I enjoy it. On our first evening here, we came to the pool and there were two women with three small children between them. They appeared to be speaking an African-based language & we all smiled at each other. At one point we were swimming on the side of the pool, watching LM show off. I had seen one of the little girls jump in the pool and since the mothers didn't seem to react, I figured she was a good swimmer. After a minute or two the other little girl was trying to get the attention of the mom that I was standing near and she seemed started- it appears the previous jumper couldn't swim. And couldn't stand. But everyone was strangely calm. "So," I asked, "she can't swim?" I jumped over to where the little girl was still under the water and pulled her up. She was coughing and crying and threw up water on me as I handed her to her mom. It was very surreal- everyone seemed very detached and unemotional, as if watching their child almost drown was a common thing, but it certainly rattled me.

The past week was filled with errands and school shopping. It was nice just hanging out with my little guy. The highlight was signing up for a library card. We went to "Meet the Teacher" night last Thursday. Yesterday we tried our second church. It was United Methodist and huge. I liked it- people were friendly, they blessed the Kindergartners and I thought that had a good vibe and evidence of living their faith. It's a possible contender for the future.

And then, blink, the weekend was over just like that. This morning I got up just before 6am, and let me tell you- that hasn't happened in a long, long time. I made the requested breakfast for the first day, which was pancakes with a chocolate chip smile and bacon. With only one bathroom, it was a bit of a juggle with the hubby getting ready too, but soon he was off and it was just us. It was a positive morning and I kept my wits about me because of obsessive planning and prep the night before. It was funny to get ready. I can't even remember the last time I used a hairdryer- working from home for over a year meant that I usually didn't need to. Life has been so carefree and casual for so long- I suppose it will be good to invest a bit more into convention again.

After LM was settled in his classroom- and I had taken enough pics and lingered a little longer than needed- I moved along to the cafeteria for the "Kindergarten Coffee." I say with a few other parents from our class and shared friendly chatter while getting info about sports and churches and the like. I signed up for room mother, and PTA, and a few other posts, and then met another mother at Starbucks for coffee. It was pleasant and nice to get to know here, but I definitely needed this time to come back and just be by myself. Life's just been happening and I needed some space to reflect.

So what's next? Well, it appears we will be able to move into our house early next week. So getting that set up and unpacked & settled will take some serious time & energy. I have promised myself that I would work out and swim daily since I no longer have the excuse of no time. And it's time to begin looking for a job- a search that I think will take a while. I certainly need the money, but I want so much more. Fulfilling work. Benefits. Flexibility. Could be tricky, but I have some plans. But that's another post.

I have been joined in the room by a woman will a really stinky lunch, so I think that's my cue to leave.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Many Goodbyes

I don't have time to write.
I have too many words, too many stories, too many emotions to capture them "write" now.
I should be packing.

And yet, I must write.
The Goodbyes are pulling at me, demanding acknowledgment, if only for a moment.

Three significant ones today.
First, saying goodbye to little man for a play-date. His last chance to see his best friend before we move. The other mother wanted to pick him up. I wanted to drop him off. In the end, hubby had to meet her in a parking lot. They are going to another house to swim- a house I do not know well. I have never let him ride with anyone but family. It is pure hell to not be able to locate him immediately and terrifies me. This was my goodbye to control, and I don't like it one bit.

Today I said goodbye to my job, my boss. We met at Starbucks and I handed over my phone, my corporate card, and more paperwork. I didn't want to say goodbye to my boss and our great relationship. To my freedom. To my paycheck. To a portion of my identity and some certainty.

While we were there, drinking our coffee and laughing about work stories, I see her. At first she walks by and I only see her from behind, noting that she is both beautiful and way too skinny and frail looking. Outside, she turned and started to settle at a table and I realize it's K. I written about her before and the goodbye has been coming. I popped out to say hi- she was on the phone and it was an awkward 30 seconds. She then walked off as I came inside. And that goodbye was so terribly final, because I know that she is slowly killing herself and I can't stop it. Someone who once was almost family. Who shared holiday meals at my home. Now a stranger. I watch again helplessly as drugs steal another person from my heart.

Leaving here isn't the same as leaving home seven years ago, but I am still having trouble saying the proper goodbyes. The house isn't rented or for sale yet. So much will be left behind, and we will come back later to wrap up the goodbyes. We just weren't ready.

The truck is out front and we have three days to load it. We will soon be on the road to unknown paths. I'm not afraid, I just need a little more time to walk both paths.

I'm not ready.
And since this has been a part of our story for the last few months, it just seems so right to include here:

It's time to regenerate, to reinvent myself once more. So, off to it now then, eh?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nobody knowns the miles I've seen...

In the last month, we have taken two weeks of roads trips... a total of over 4,000 miles. That's a lot in 30 days. First was a trip to Cincinnati to see my baby sister graduate from high school. It was bittersweet. I have a picture of my own high school graduation and I am holding Miss M, who was just a baby. Nothing marks the passage of time so much. I was lovely that I got to spent a lot of time with her while there, and Little Man got to experience the Farm and my family. I wish we could do it more. I dream of building a little stone cottage there where I could take Little Man and spend the summer. Maybe some day...

It was the first time being there since my step-grandmother died and I had a few times that I had to really process & deal with emotions around that and the true end of every grandparent I have had. I have been coming to the Farm since I was 11, which was when my father started dating my future step-mother. The Farm, spread out on 150 acres in rolling Northern Kentucky, has been a place of discovery & refuge since then. And honestly, it's the closest thing I have to "home" right now, as I deal with the transition of moving to Texas.

And that's where our second road trip was- Dallas/ Fort Worth, where we will be moving in about 30 days. We spent each night in a different hotel and explored the area by car. I certainly shouldn't be bored and it will be interesting to live in a big city again. I'm not a huge fan of the prairie and will miss the lush green of North Florida. But unlike 2004, I feel better leaving. My job is coming to a more natural end and now social media will allow me to stay in touch with friends. That is a lifeline that I didn't have before and I think it will help.

It's been intense spending so much time shut into cars... and working at home with a husband who had been here too. It's frankly WAY too much together time, especially at a time when I am feeling a bit resentful about many of the dynamics in our relationship. And by "bit," I mean it's all I can do most days. I'm not going to hash it out here. And it will pass. Or maybe it won't. But only time will tell.

most nights have been spent on the laptop, exploring areas, reading up on schools and looking for properties to rent. All with Doctor Who playing in the background. Netflix is a wonderful & horrible thing.

While my immediate boss has known for some time that I would be leaving, I am giving my official notice on Tuesday. Frankly, I am still conflicted. It's hard for me to believe that this move is really going to happen. I keep feeling like it won't and I didn't want to decide about my job until the last minute. The truth is that I would be very happy staying here with Little Man for the year. But financially it would be harder to swing. Or at least that's what I tell myself- it actually might be easier, frankly. The real reason is that I know how hard it would be for Little Man to be apart from his daddy. So off we go and I can only hope to seize new opportunities and relationships from it.

And this is all setting up the next post, which is why I am on the laptop in the middle of the night. back in a moment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

By Special Request...

Here you go, B. A new post so that we can all stop looking at the one below from the Bitter Manatee.

Since life is a bit insane at the moment, I don't have time to write much. But I was listening to country music this morning and I really like the chorus to a Rodney Atkins song, Going Through Hell:

Well you know those times
When you feel like there's a sign there on your back
Says I don't mind if ya kick me
Seems like everybody has
Things go from bad to worse
You'd think they can't get worse than that
And then they do

You step off the straight and narrow
And you don't know where you are
Use the needle of your compass
To sew up your broken heart
Ask directions from a genie
In a bottle of Jim Beam
And she lies to you
That's when you learn the truth

If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

Well I been deep down in that darkness
I been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons
Breathing fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled
I'd fall right into the trap that they were laying, yeah

But the good news
Is there's angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet
The one's that you've been dragging for so long
You're on your knees
You might as well be praying
Guess what I'm saying

If your going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

Yeah, If you're going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

Yeah, If you're going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there
Yeah, you might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.

I won't say that I'm going through hell right now, but I've certainly had my times. I like the chorus theme- keep moving, face the fire, walk through it, believe that there is another side to it. It's worked in my life and I am certainly in the "one foot in front of the other" place right now. Like my Ingrid song below- "All we ca do is keep breathing." Like many, I can get caught up in wanting to do things "right" and that can be paralyzing. Sometimes just a reminder to keep moving- and not analyzing each step, and spend too much time on the plan- is important to me.

I just popped in the Hare Krishna CD that I bought on the street in Venice last summer. We were walking, gazing in shop windows and suddenly a joyful parade appeared out of nowhere led by shining monks clad in bright orange robes with ecstatic smiles on their face, singing and dancing and chanting and playing the drums. Frankly, I think that people from any religion should be open to moments in which we glimpse God and this was one of those moments. There was a pure joy and love that radiated such warmth and truth. Just a moment of revelation and the parade danced past. But they were selling CDs to support their cause, so I bought one. I often do this when traveling- it's one of the best ways to capture the energy of a place and time.

In five minutes, I've managed to cover country music & Hare Krishas- yeah, that seems about right for me. I've released you from the ravages of having to ponder male organs. Or maybe made it worse. Alas, back to work for me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Penis

I have discovered the secret of...

The Penis.

Long suspected as a tool for reproduction or pleasure, it instead has a far more insidious purpose....

It is the source of a presumed superiority of all things. Ever.

In a strange twist of fate, this post is inspired today by all men except my husband, who has an exemplary tool in question for the first two purposes, but is not a pompous blowhard as indicated by the last purpose. This is good for both of us.

All the rest of you, however, better watch it...

That is all :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just a week in the life

So, nothing earth-shattering this week. I have been working like mad trying to get ready for an event next week and feeling both the weight of responsibility while also helplessness from not having the information and tools that I need. In the scope of life, this will be but a blink, but it's stressful at the moment because I just want it to go well.

And that leads me again to the realization- am I going to spend my life working this hard for other people or am I going to be brave enough to invest this energy for myself, my destiny?

One picture that I wish I had today was of little man. He's been off school this week and has spent most of the time running with hubby as I worked. Today hubby had a short meeting and LM was home with me while I worked. At one point I has a really long phone conversation with one of my board members/bosses. I look up and there's LM, who has donned a headset and a whip. It looked like he was a customer service agent for cowboys or trying to wrangle a bunch of backup dancers for Brittney Spears. He'll be glad someday that I didn't have my camera on me.

I have a blaring headache at the moment, so I tend to be hyper sensitive to sound. And light. And breathing. Even so, before I hit the bed, I feel the need to capture the fact that hubby had certainly put forth effort this week and I have put forth a lot of effort in thank him. I realize this is not worthy of an engraved paver stone or anything, but since I am quick to capture the rough times, I thought I was try to remember some of the quietly good ones.

There's a bed with my name on it and a weekend full of work, so it's time to turn off Netflix (after years with public television, I have finally started watching Doctor Who. You don't have to call me a Time Lord, but at least now I am starting to get some of the references). And since LM wanted to play "Cupcake Wars" the only day on the playground, we figured it was time to butch up the viewing options. Slightly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Sometimes I think that I have let go of the dream of you, made peace with the path that seems to lead in another direction, while all the while knowing that there is something more coming. But I'm truly walking two paths.

Last week, during the crowded Easter service, we talked about hope. How relationships and lives both end when someone has lost it. How the presence of it infuses life and meaning in to even the most mundane. I internalized much of the message for the pertinence in my life right now.

Flowers are so poignant because their beauty begins in hope. The faith that a simple seed will have the power to grow, that the elements will be right for life.

Today you spoke to me without words. You let me know that you were still there, waiting and watching. You dared me to believe and then pushed beyond coincidence to show yourself. In the smallest flicker of the candle of hope, you are there.

So I wait with Hope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes Perspective is Handed to You on a Shield

So, I wrote my little emo heart out last night, so when I woke up I felt great. Down three pounds- just water, but still good. Healthy, strong, happy. Great morning, relaxed & joyful with my little family. Great work calls in the morning for some significant donations. The happy jig was jigging. Looking forward to a movie tonight with friends and feeling very drama free.

No sooner had I posted a happy status on facebook than a phone call came that threw my day into a bit of a bad afterschool special. A desperate voice of a family member on the other line who was too far away to do anything. A flurry of frantic phone calls to follow. A story of a hospital, a phone that wasn't being answered, and the fear of suicide from someone I care about. Minutes later I was in the car going to a place I didn't know, searching from the barest of hints. And then at a strange apartment, pounding on the door and then the back window while preparing to call the police and starting to fear the worst.

Thankfully, it wasn't the worst but it also wasn't good. It's not the first time I have worried about finding someone dead, but it still isn't a feeling that I have built an immunity to. And I have taken the reigns and tried to steer the boat back into the right direction, while also fulfilling my own responsibilities. I have a brief reprieve right now, but I know it's not for long.

I wonder how many lives I must watch be destroyed by drugs. It's weird to be immune, but to watch it destroy so many around me. It's a poison that I can only control by never letting it into myself... and yet I cannot save those around me.

Second, the dismal shape of drug and mental health care in this country is just pathetic. This is the not the first time I have spent hours on the phone looking for help for someone.

Third, I often say that I wonder when I will feel like "an adult." Today was one of those days that I do, most definitely, feel like an adult. And all my belly aching below seems so silly, so insignificant. My life is such an amazing blessing. And while I am tired and worn from today, I also still feel strong. I am not drowning in the drama and I'm not depleted. Sometimes it takes fighting in another person's war to see that you are not weak.

It's scary for me to acknowledge God's blessings- it seems when I do that something tragic happens. But as I see the soldiers push forward, I raise my sword and accept that I can help, but I cannot save.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On a Musical Note

I have just been loving Ingrid for awhile on Pandora and it's time to save her for posterity.

First, this one:

And also this:

And Now I Blather

In October and November, I was really working daily on my health. I was walking a lot more and tracking my food. I was doing yoga weekly and attending OA meetings. But still I wasn't losing weight. Then the holidays hit... and I began doing less and less. By the time March rolled around, I was ready to recommit. I was going to focus on getting off 30 pounds by the time June rolled around. And it's the end of April... and I've gained 18 pounds. Seriously?? The thing that kills me is that I can eat a totally normal day and still gain three pounds overnight. If I were hanging at buffets or a Girl Scout cookie factory, I would accept it. But this just seems so unfair.

So, spring is literally "busting out" all over and I'm not thrilled. The bout of sickness in February and March really seemed to do me in and I'm just really feeling the effects of the extra, sudden weight. Plus I'm just pissed- I know many people have trouble keeping weight off, but really- to gain 18 pounds when I am trying to lose. Ugh!

We spent a lot of time this weekend at my mom's house, which is a small ranch. She has four dogs- three are big and one is decidedly furry. I can usually only stand about three hours before my sinuses rebel. We spent a big chunk of time Saturday and Sunday there and the combination about killed me. By the time we left Sunday evening, I was so inflamed and congested that I felt as if I had the flu. I had a fever and was having a hard time breathing (which makes me a tad cranky). We got home and I took Benadryl, which knocked me. That might have worked okay, except I mean it literally took me out of the game before I had time to get ready for bed. Plus I had tons of work to do, so when I woke up around midnight, I was not pleased. I tossed and turned until about 5:30, at which point I got up and started fighting the work demons in my head. But I still have allergy hangover and the current weather isn't helping. I have felt very inflamed and unhealthy and it's time to get on the ball.

So, this morning I went for a walk around a pond close to my house. It was harder- just a few weeks off really makes a difference. And I was bummed to find that it wasn't two miles, like I thought, but rather 1.5 mile. While not perfect, I have tried to eat better today. Besides a few sips of coffee, I haven't had caffeine. And I ended the day with a yin yoga class and a healthy dinner of salmon, rice, and green beans (with amino acids and tons of garlic). Yep- I'm trying to bring down my inflammation levels. I find if I focus on treating specific health issues- instead of just the omnipresent jaba-the-hut- weightiness that I do better. It's more like a science experiment.
I googled "Jabba the Hut in Drag" but it just made me mad.
So we are going with the cat version.

So now I am just chilling with some green tea (courtesy of the husband, who I have to give props to, for he did bring me a little heating pad and the tea upon request.)

I was thinking again today about my many different- and disparate- dimensions today. I definately have a strong streak of hippie-alternative yearning (yeah- that's the best wordsmithing I can come up with right now, as I am listening to the neighbor roaring up and down on the four wheeler outside my house while my monkey boy & man-child jabber on and sing Mexican Christmas songs. Yes, really). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes.

One of my earliest memories was of doing yoga in the living room with my dad. My mom worked third shift and we would sit on the carpet in the front room of the ranch, listening to Cat Steven and doing yoga in- yes- the actual light of the moon. This remains a sacred memory for me and I can remember the smooth cover of the"Tea for the Tillerman" record. Listening to Cat Stevens, John Denver, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac still takes me back and can literally lower my blood pressure.

This being the late 70s, my dad also had left over vitamin supplements and self-hypnosis tapes from some entrepreneurial venture, and I listened to those growing up. We also have some Native American ancestry and that colored my world view, so that when I was old enough to make my own decisions about religion I ended up with both a Christian worldview and a strong interest in the concepts of Hindu and Buddism, with special focus on karma and the balance of yin and yang. In fact, I wear a tiny yin yang in my right ear and it serves to remind me to recognize the sacred balance of energy. I don't see this as an either/or endeavor- I believe in a God mighty enough to reach his many peoples through many messages of truth.

I used to love to have conversations with people about the universe and all it's mysteries. I didn't mind being the freak- I just thought everyone else was kinda conventional. I gave a presentation in eighth grade about reflexology and did astrological projections with my step-grandmother. I experienced mind mapping and reflexology tanks and all sorts of things that people deem madness. I wasn't searching for some deeper truth that I didn't feel that I had. Instead it was just... interesting. I like exploring. In fact, I would say that it my strongest characteristic. I want to explore the psyche, the inner-space, the dimensions of people's believes, their histories, the journeys, their possibilities, the interactions between us.

More than ten years ago, I conceived of a nonprofit utopia that I wanted to start. I called it Sanctuary. And I researched. I dreamed. I explored. I wrote. I created a business plan. I toured possible locations.

And slowly, steadily, over the last ten years I have let my dreams seep out of me, one drop at a time. I have become more and more conventional. I haven't lost who I am... I've just let is sink deeper inside of me and in front of it I have placed the vestiges of the roles that I have played as a fundraiser, a wife and a mother. But most of all- a provider. For I have had to be the provider for the last eight years as my husband works on his own dream of a doctorate in clinical psychology.

And I still struggle with it. Did I do this to myself or let it be done to me? Was I too weak to fight for my dreams? Too scared to chase them? To sacrifice all to achieve them? Did I let the fact that my family didn't see the beauty of my dream discourage me? I remember walking into pre-marital counseling with the preacher of the church we had joined. When we started talking about the future, I was already frustrated and emotional about not feeling supported to pursue my own dreams and being dismissed because hubby "didn't even know what they were." And that was right long years ago.

It's strange how so many others knew my dreams in all their techno-colored detail. Last year I reconnected with a friend who I had worked with in 2001. We were both trainers, but she was exceptionally talented in cake decorating. So I encouraged her. I helped her design a portfolio and pushed her to interview. It was awesome to me to be a part of helping someone make their own dreams come true and when one of her cakes was published in a bridal magazine, I was as proud as a parent. When we reconnected, she wrote me a touching letter thanking me for helping and encouraging her then. And then she wrote about how she hoped that my dream of Sanctuary would come true.That stopped me in my tracks. Ten years had passed and I was no closer. Ten.Whole.Years. Not only that, she remembered. She knew. She cared. She believed.

It's always funny how I start one subject and end somewhere different here. And I can't help but feel that I am painting a picture for myself, a sort of psychological color by number of truth that I can only see when I'm done. And yet, it's all perfectly interrelated. My health. My beliefs. My sacrifices and my balancing of identities. What I have tucked away in order to make others happy. This is my place to pour it out, even if it doesn't make people smile or laugh.

So what will I write in another 10 years?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Musical Moments

Life is busy, busy, busy and I seem to be behind in the race right now. Although, that may no be a bad thing. Being late to one's funeral, for example, is a good thing.

So no time to write. But loving these two songs lately, just for their spunky originality.

and a lady that I just ADORE....

I envision myself banging along to a big bass drum to this. The artist describes it as a bluesy gospel disco- that's epically wonderful for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What If It's Not Fair?

(I started this last month and felt the need to come back and finish the thought, at least a bit).

I came home tonight after my son's first t-ball game, fairly happy and content in the moment. I was prepared for most of the emotions, but I teared up a bit with a little boy from the other team got struck out on his first try. They are only five years old- I'm not ready for them to be competitive monsters, nor will I be. We just root and cheer all the little souls.

But that's not what I have to write about right now. Nor is the topic the rather overwhelming tides of change flowing my way and my intense scurry to keep up with work, with life, with family, with home repair & sale... these area all things I'll need to get out eventually, but for right now I just keep paddling.

What's on my heart is the battle between faith and reality, between our desires and our despair. I have many unpublished posts that are simply too raw to share. One of them is about my unborn baby girl- the child I have wanted so desperately for so long. I simply don't have the emotional fortitude to capture that story right now, but suffice to say that it's been six years since I bought my first little girl dress, four years since I bought a locket with her name, three years since my son starting asking for a baby sister, and more than a year since my actions & prayers have been focused on her. Actively "trying" they call it. The journey of hope & pain since then is for another time and I just can't go into it yet. So many pregnant right now as my blood betrays me again. Because this is actually not about me and my baby envy, but rather someone else.

I began working with K in 2002, just a few months before I left the job. I didn't get to know her too well, but liked her and got to attend her wedding. Fast forward many years and we reconnected on Facebook. And I started reading her blog and see that we had in common than I had known. I enjoyed pictures of her wiener dog and especially loved seeing her skills at quilting & knitting. So much so, in fact, that I remember showing my mom a picture of a bird quilt that K made. I had hoped, actually, that I could order one from her for a nursery if I should ever get the other baby that I wanted so much.

But more than anything, what made me come back and read was K's humanity and her struggle with infertility. It has been more than six difficult years for her and her loving husband. Grueling and expensive IVF treatments. Rollercoaster emotions and heartbreaking losses. I found myself thinking of her and praying for her to get her baby. And though we haven't spoken in almost a decade and are not close, I cried for her pain when she shared her loss and her despair. And when I've suffered my own loss- when the pain of seeing other pregnant women seemed too much- I could empathize with her own tales of baby envy. And like so many, I started to wonder at God's plan. Why would He allow to many babies to be born unwanted and unloved when these two people were so ready to give their lives to a child?

This summer, I fulfilled a 20-year dream of going to Chartres Cathedral in France. Though I am not Catholic, I am familiar with many of the church's traditions and find some comfort in the rituals. As I stepped up to the small alter of Mary that is dedicated to mother and child, I immediately felt that I must light a candle for my own daughter's soul and for K. I've never done that before, but I made my tithe and carefully selected the two candles. I lit my candle with complete & utter gratitude for my son and I prayed to God that if it not His will that I should have another child to please give that child to K. To be honest, the prayer came up spontaneously and caught me by surprise. Was I really telling God that I would be okay if he didn't give me my heart's desire? It seems silly as I write it now, as if I were doing the prayer bartering that can be so common. But that wasn't it. I wasn't trying to make deals. At that instant, I was subverting my own will for that of a stranger. I can say without shame that this doesn't much happen for me. It's in my heart a lot for my family & those I love dearly, but the intensity in which I wanted God to grant this woman a child was stunning. And as I carefully wrapped my own candle and left K's at the alter, I felt sure that it would come to pass.

But it hasn't- not for either of us. And today I read her blog with tears in my eyes. The last IVF treatment that they will ever do produced a pregnancy... for three days. And now she has the misery of losing a child again.

And it's not fair.

It's just not. And that's what I've been thinking on a lot lately. When I lost my brand new job last year- a job I was so thrilled and excited about, that I thought would literally change my life, I was just so stunned. I was only there a week. Co-workers who didn't even know me lied about me and I was fired. Just like that. It wasn't fair. And frankly, while I have seen the best and the worst of humanity in my 35 years, I was still stunned. I knew God had a plan, but to this day I still harbor the confusion in my heart, the frustration that things are not just and that bad guys sometimes win.

I wear a small symbol in my right earlobe- it's a tiny yin-yang. I keep it there to remind me. In Taoist and ancient Chinese understanding, the outer circle represents everything that can be. The black & white shapes withing the circles represent the interactions of two energies, called yin (black) and yang (white). This interaction is the basis for all. Life is not completely black or white, it says. Things are not simply good or bad, and one force cannot exist without the other. We must live in balance and harmony of the two forces.

Like many, I have adapted this belief into my own life and I have surely Westernized it along the way. This simple image reminds me to seek balance in my life; to honor the actions in our world that we so quickly label good and bad; to seek the pattern beyond our initial understanding. Alas, I am not a monk and I live in the secular world, but there is great wisdom behind this concept that I try to honor.

Last summer, when the wounds were still new, I was telling a stranger the story of my job loss and I got to the end and said, "I'm working on healing, but it has definitely shaken my concept that the world is a just and fair place." I was awarded with a crude, loud, angry laugh and the stranger sneered as she said, "You think life is fair??? Do you still believe in Santa Claus too??"

I was taken aback and none too warm towards the bitter lady. But it was one of those pivotal moments when I was reminded that we have choices on how we chose to navigate life, how we set a course in our heart and mind. To think about "fair" and the thoughts and actions that guide us. Is life fair? Is there balance? Fate or free will? Guided journey or empty wandering?

So many souls have pondered these things for many lifetimes, leaving tombs and words to us on their thoughts. I have so much more to say about it. For now, though, it's time for me to take a few breathes and go love my son. And help make a world where he is free to believe in good. In truth. In fair. Not to keep him from dark, but that so the flame inside of him is strong enough to keep burning when it descends.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let The Music Play

You know what? For now I have two more songs that capture where I am in life.

Okay- I think I've said what I need.

This is me not being a drama queen

So, all sorts of major life things are happening. Today, I said goodbye to a family member. Hopefully for only a few years, but it's a scary proposition where he's going and I can't escape the worry that each goodbye will be the last one. But I know that there are other people that this impacts just as much, so I stay stoic and try to project strength. But driving away, it hit me hard.
I'm going to need to cry sometime. Right now I have work to do, so I'm pushing it back. Maybe tonight I can find a quiet place and let it go.

Tomorrow, by 10 am, I am going to find out more information that will impact the future of my family. No, I'm not pregnant, thought I were that were it. It will, however, impact the chances of having another child. So, in all, this is an emotional 24 hours. I think I am dealing remarkably well. Staying busy helps, and I have plenty of work to do, so back to that I go. But the tension is right below the surface, like waiting for the gunshot to start a race. This song keeps playing in my mind- probably because I try to incorporate it too much into my life. But since this is the Muppet version, I love it even more because of the levity that it adds. Perfect for my life :)

Sadly, I was just reminded that emotionally, there's a reason for this need. I got the words, "I'm a little emotional right now," barely out of my mouth and a certain man just turned and ran away dramatically. Leaving me alone. Again. Emotional need met fail. *sigh*

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moving Right Along

So, enough with the angsty stuff for now. I've got plenty more, but it's simply too sunny outside right now to do the gloom tango. My body has been doing odd things lately, and not in a "Wow, look, I can do the splits while hanging upside down" way. So, I'm soon to gather some good old fashioned vitamin D and try to soak up some good health.

Before I do, let's look at the some of the inside pics of the cool little place we found in Jacksonville that I detailed a few weeks ago.

Oh yes, this is the plate on which the gods eat their meals.
The Tom Selleck collectible plate.
I really, really wanted to purchase it and hide it in homes of friends and families.
Tom in the shower? Tom on your pillow? Tom in the freezer? Tom in your underwear drawer? Yes, yes, yes and YES!
But... no.
It commanded a price too high for me to pay.
The epic joy it promises will not be mine.
And yet, it compels you to behold the 'stache.


Done beholding? Good. Now it's time to go to the dark place in your soul...
*play doom music*
Welcome to the Doll Hospital, my pretties...
Come closer and see my headless wonders.
Random limbs? Of course, dear, help yourself.

Oh, I see you are eying my elusive Colonel Sanders Silver Peg-Leg Model.
As you can see from the picture, he is a little busy at the moment
grabbing a little action from the fuller-figured headless baby
(*note, no posing was utilized for this picture.
I just noticed Pervy Sanders copping a feel.
Dirty ole' chicken man.)

Seriously, I loved this place. The people were nice as could be and I sincerely love junking around in a big old barn. Oh, and how I loved those little cottages.
With so much to buy, I ended up with a few cute embroidered things, an adorable baby baptism dress, a stack of vintage magazines from when we were born, a really awesome gypsy lamp, and a comic book and strand of parade beads sweetly given to my little man. All for around $20. I *LOVEEEEEE* this place.

Here's the gypsy lamp that I need to find the perfect place for:
It's hard to see it's coolness in the pic, but it's solid metal and full of awesomeness. I bought in from "Ali Mama's." It was one of the little cottages that was filled to the brim with every kind of bauble you could imagine. This jem was hanging and I'm not sure she wanted to part with it. But I promised to love it as much as she did and to bring it back if I wanted to part with it. Ali Mama reminded me of my paternal grandmother, who I only got to know for the first six years of my life. She also ran in the flea market world and it's interesting how little nuggets from my childhood seem to pop up in those ways.

So, thanks for joining me on this little tour. And, uh, if you happen to stop by and read this, leave me a message, will ya? I know of only two certified readers, so if there are more of you lurking, let me know so I don't write about you ;)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where is the Balance?

Where is the place where you will do anything for the person you love and where you realize that it comes at too high a price? That what you are sacrificing may not even lead to the happiness you with for that person? When your anger and pain transform you into someone who is no longer able to give.

Something was broken three years ago. You can cover the break, try to make it heal. You can pretend it's not there and even hobble along. But it's there. And it never healed. And under what others see as smooth skin, you know the festering truth.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Please Go Away So That I Can Try to Miss You

My two weeks as a single mom seemed to fly by. It was easy to overlook the difficulties, since I knew I only have to endure for 14 days. We actually had a blast and I took a few lessons from it.

First, once again I am reminded that I am essentially a "lone wolf." Now, that surprises some who think I am outgoing & often gregarious in nature. I can be, sure, and I take great satisfaction from learning about people and exploring the psyche. And anyone who has me on Facebook probably recognizes that I love to make people laugh. But I need my quiet time, my down time, my hours of reflection and solitude. I had both more and less of that with hubby gone. I didn't have a chance to share little man duties- I was always on. However, I did have more quiet time overall.

On that note, I recognize that successful single moms have the gift of raising their child on their own terms. They must also build a layered support system. There wasn't a chance to go to yoga or run out to the store. And when I had to drive long distances for work, I worried what would happen if I were to get in an accident.

I got the chance to hang out twice with other moms while the kids played. And that's twice more than I usually get to. That gets to the heart of a big yearning that I have... to cultivate more "family friends." The kind of friends that you hang out with for picnics and beach escapes and camping trips and SuperBowl. I dearly treasure the friends I have in my life and all the different roles that we play for each other, but it would be such a relief to throw hubby to a pack of men in front of a TV, throw the kids in a room to run wild, and just hang with my gals while knowing that everyone is getting their social needs met. The responsibility of having to be the social director around here gets to me sometimes, and leaves me wanting.

We drove to JAX last weekend to pick up the weary traveling hubby. It was a smooth drive with blessedly sunny weather and a litany of "are we there yet" from the little man, along with strange impromptu games that I created as a distraction. It helps that I genuinely enjoy my little man's company and at age five, he continues to amuse me with his observations on the world.

Husband secured, we sought food and shelter and ended up in a slightly aged Marriott with an indoor pool and hot tub. This is a nice tradition in our little family: the hotel vacation. It doesn't matter where we are, just give us a night or two with a soft bed, cable TV and a pool and we are quite happy. We tried to cap the night off with a visit to the newly opened Pollo Tropical in JAX. We don't have this particular fast food place in our hometown, so I look forward to visits to other Florida cities to get my fix of the "Floribean" cuisine. Apparently, so does everyone else in the state, as there was a series of stanchions, a red carpet, and an insane wait to get into the place at 8:30pm. This is in a part of town with about 5,000 other options, by the way. So I gave up my dream of grilled chicken, sassy sauces and yucca and we ended up at Bono's bbq, where we had banana pudding that truly rocked my world.

Sunday presented us with another beautiful, if chilly day, and we checked out and headed back to battle for a place at Pollo Tropical. This time we were successful and I gleefully feasted- little man reflects my pleasure:

After that, we stopped at a car lot, which ended up sucking away our collective life force. See, hubby has been driving the first car I ever purchased on my own- a 2000 Ford ZX2. It was such a fun car for so long- little, black, sporty, with a sunroof and two-toned leather seats. It wasn't anyone's dream car but mine and I had fun with it for a good many years. However, it started to cause problems around 2005 and I soon handed it over to hubby for his short daily school commute while I drove the new family friendly- and boring base model- Honda. Fast forward- and I do mean fast- another five years and the little car is painfully showing her age and wear. Smoking, breaking down, flaking paint, torn leather, missing side mirrors and big gashes in the side- let's just say she wasn't as loved and cherished in the last five years of her life (hum, that's sometimes how I feel- might be a pattern.)

*** I stop here for a moment and reflect on why I don't write more. We have a little house. I started this when I threw the boys out for a quick trip to Target. They are back, pounding on things and blowing on a didgeridoo. No, I'm not kidding. Oh how I need a quiet place to call my own!***

So, where was I? Oh yes, lamenting that I have spent the last six weeks looking for a new car. Edmund's, Consumer Reports... I've spent serious time with them all. Safe, economical, reliable, highly rated, in my budget... I want it all. And, I want it to be fun. I want something I will be proud to drive. Something that makes me smile as I slide behind the wheel. And for my particular tastes, I want a black car with a sunroof. If I'm writing a check every month, can I not enjoy it?

My specific tastes have led to various, unsatisfactory tangos with car salesmen, but no new car yet. Will I be able to find true love within my budget? The verdict is out on that one.

In the meantime, we finally escaped the dealership and turn a few turns to buy gas for our thirsty tank. It was a strange part of town, but I was fascinated with the colorful little cottages that I spied across from the station. An "antiques" sign was a beacon of glorious things to come. Here's a sneak peak of the outside...

We'll delve inside for the fun discoveries the next time I get a few minutes of quiet. For now, I have monkeys to train.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Healing Power of Pie Crust

It's five days into hubby's travel adventure. So far I'm swinging single motherhood just fine, but I can easily see how much life would need to adjust & evolve if this was a longer term proposition.

I've had a lot of my mind lately and I'm happy just to ramble aimlessly here. I think it will be good just to throw it all out and make sense of it later.

Right now it's 9:30 at night. It's Friday and little man is still up- not a surprise, since we tend to be night owls. And I'm letting him watch a little Netflix. While I constantly campaign to cut back on television & movie consumption, I think we both need some chill time right now.

I picked him up from school today and we headed off to test drive a used Altima. It's to the point that I just don't feel safe with my men in the car that they are currently driving- 11 years old, missing side mirrors and smoking profusely. Definitely not on any Safety Ratings lists. I should know- I've been doing so much car research that my head is about to explode.

When we were about half way to the car lot, the salesman called to inform me that the car I had planned to drive was going through the Nissan certification process. My headache was starting to assert itself, so we stopped to get some Advil and a bite for LM. Then we hit Publix and wow- it was busy and full of very rude people. By the time I rang up over $100 in groceries and fought my way home, I was not full of happy unicorn kisses.

Luckily, the caffeine and advil have kicked in some and I made a tasty quiche. Truly, I would be hard pressed to find something that could not be baked inside of a pie crust that didn't make the world just a little bit brighter.

I'm looking forward to the weekend- we have some fun social things planned and it will be nice to be out of the house. Working from home is such a blessing, but it's been so quiet this week with the sudden exodus of my noisy men (big & small) that I've honestly felt depression creeping around me, looking for a place to park permanently. Despite walking two mornings, I have not been making healthy choices and have fallen prey to some pretty heady emotional eating. Going be to tackle that issue this next week as I get stronger and a little less fearful.

I got my notice to renew my driver's license and it was a shock. It's the first time I've ever had to do it- it's the first time I've been in one place long enough. I had a few moments of sadness because I remember getting it in 2004 and looking forward to moving away "no later than 2010." I wonder how my life would have been if we had- if I left last summer, never to have made the vital error of getting (and losing) the "dream job" in the spring. It sure would have saved a lot of pain. However, I can't help but feel that the limbo and the path since are part of a much grander plan.

It's so odd to be peering at 35. Ten years ago, I thought I was really going places professionally. Eight years ago it was even more intense and I was in my happiest professional stride. I felt like I had hit so many of my goals. I bought a house. I was ahead of the curve. Since then I've hit a mudslide. I've been blessed with one child, but yearn for another whose soul I feel so tangibly in my life. I haven't achieved the things I hoped for academically, putting my goals on hold until hubby finished his doctorate. And the years have flown by. Now I feel suddenly older, but unsettled by unmet goals. Not unhappy, just unsettled. It's like I was in a sprinting contest and then suddenly fell in a ditch and had to watch everyone run by as my leg heals (yeah, I still have the headache, so I just don't have graceful writing in me right now).

It's been over a year since I returned "home" to visit my family in Kentucky. In that time, my step-grandmother has died. And last week, so did one of my step-aunts. It bothers me that I haven't gone back for their services. I am at a loss on how to send my love and support.

It also bothers me that it's been so long since I've seen my sisters. Other than a few posts on Facebook, we are just not in each others lives and that makes me sad. I want LM to have a big, loud, happy family- if not in our home with lots of siblings, than at least through extended family. And yet I feel like we are on opposite ice floes, floating farther and farther away from each other.

I'm listening to Tracy Chapman tonight- one of my traits that can drive others nuts is my ability to listen to a song over and over again. This one is on repeat tonight. So beautiful.

Alright, so in my constant journey to be more honest and raw, I'm just going to hit "publish" now. No editing, no polishing my words to make my message less offensive or more clear. This is but a moment in a beautifully imperfect life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Playing the Numbers

I have so many fragments started, important things that I want to say and say just so. And yet, I can't seem to find the time to finish them, so they stay in rough draft limbo.

Today, I am just going to capture a few thoughts on my mind- short and undeveloped- about a few numbers that are rolling around in my noggin.

It seems like once September hit, that 2010 was over before I knew it. The holidays caught me less prepared than normal and I'm still wrapping my mind around this 2011 idea.

I have lived in my current home for more than six years now and that is the longest I have lived in one house since I was nine years old. I certainly have enough accumulated here to make it look as if we have been here for decades. My parents divorced when I was 11 and I spent a lot of weekends living out of a giant Gap bag- and I think that has something to do with how I feel now. And how is that? Both comfortable and afraid of the looming possibility of change and also restless sometimes, as if I am waiting for the rest of my life to begin. This is truly the home where we became a family and each wall holds a thousand memories of our time together.

I'm starting to accept that I am the vessel of many contradictions and that's OK- the synergy somehow keeps me in a state of balance. At least, on a good day.

The other number I'm peering at is 1995. My husband is about to leave on a two week, five-city interview circuit to try to get an intern position in order to finish his doctorate. We haven't been apart for two weeks since 1995. Even when we lived more than two hours apart, we always saw each other on the weekends. I'm excited for him and excited for me- let's see if I can make some of the changes that I always think I would make if I lived alone. Let's see if I can handle being a single mom, even knowing it's only for two weeks. Let's see if I can be brave and sleep soundly. It will be hard, but it will be good for both of us to reawaken some of the emotional muscles that we can let atrophy as we faced the world as a couple. Although I laugh as I type that, because even now we are getting ready to leave to buy more last minutes essentials for the trip.

My front door is open to the rain- it's the second day of the year and the rain has been nonstop. We need it and despite the havoc it plays on my sinuses, I always appreciate a cleansing rain. Little man is lying on the porch swing, thumb in mouth and blankie securely grasped as he hums a little tune.

And so we are here.

Quietly peering at 2011 and the change that she will be bringing.