Wake-up Call

There are people in my life who have a knack for telling me the unadulterated truth at the right time.  Spoke with one such friend earlier this week, and the conversation was long overdue.

I have a habit of becoming introverted to the point of social exclusion, avoiding contact when I feel like I’m not in my happiest head space.  Since the dissolution of my marriage, I’ve been in a slump – seriously withdrawing from most of my friends, focusing on work, keeping very much to myself.

I know this is not a healthy habit, but I hate to share my doubts, fears, and pain with others.  If I am not in a good place, I prefer to keep it to myself.  Depression is dangerous and insidious – sometimes you do not realize how far you’ve withdrawn until someone calls you to task.

My best friend did just that.

Over the past two years, my interaction with friends waned of my own accord.  I stopped answering calls, returning e-mails, sending cards, responding to texts.  Frankly, I’ve been a hermit and it has to stop or I will lose the friends who are most important to me.

I’ve done this before – when I miscarried, I went into a downward spiral where I withdrew and alienated several people.  I suppose that this withdrawal may have been another nail in the coffin of my failed marriage, too, although we both withdrew from each other as well as others.

I certainly do not want to repeat the pattern, and thank goodness I have friends who love me enough to remind me that they are here for me – in good times, and bad.

To that end, I took some time today to send a few cards to people I love whom I’ve not been very good at corresponding with lately.  It is time for me to pull myself out of this funk and return to the land of the living.  Hopefully it is not too late to remind these treasured people that I love them and am grateful that they are a part of my life.

Time to suck it up, buttercup, and rejoin the land of the living.

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Bumpy Ride

Been watching the forecast and it seems as though half of the states in the country are under severe winter weather advisories – massive snow accumulations, slippery roads, cancelled flights, stranded travellers.  I checked in with a few family and friends back in the Mitten to verify that they were okay.  Some had power; some did not.  All had to shovel or snow blow or plow multiple times today.  I suspect that grown-ups as well as kiddos will find themselves home on Monday as a result of the inclement weather.

Even though I spent the majority of my life in Michigan, I’m not a big fan of snow.  I grew up counting the days until the weather became warm enough for my dad to open the pool.  I craved sunshine the way some people crave their favorite foods.  I need the sun to be happy.

My move to sunny northern California hasn’t been the smoothest transition.

Under Construction

Under Construction

Not long after I arrived, I realized that my marriage had not survived the journey across country in tact.  Eventually, the cracks became chasms and we decided to divorce.  Family and friends encouraged me to come back to Michigan, but northern California already captured my heart.

Blame it on the mild winters and sunshine.

Now, while I rebuild my life and try to figure out who I am, I find myself under construction.  Some days, I feel like the road is full of bumps, lumps, and speed traps – as though if I make aggressive forward progress, I may pay dearly for it later.

Lumps and Bumps

Lumps and Bumps

I try not to let fear hinder my forward motion.  Even if my progress is slow, I know it is the journey that defines me – not some hazy and undefined destination.  So I’m working on weathering this bumpy ride with a healthy sense of humor and humility while keeping my face to the sun.

You have speed bumps; I have undulations ;-)

You have speed bumps; I have undulations 😉

And, those undulations are not bunny hills 😉

Be safe and warm, my friends in the snow.  Hope you have an adventure on your snow day!

Making Progress

In January of this year, I blogged my 2013 resolutions, which included the following good intentions:

  • Engage in some form of physical every day – even if only for 10 minutes.  Anything is better than no activity at all.
  • Write something every day – a blog post; the start of a poem or a few pages of a story; a letter to family or friends far away.  I do not need to wait for November to write creatively and I do not need to wait for the right time to write.
  • Resume my daily photography habit.  In 2012 and 2011, I participated in Project 365.  Last year, I completely abandoned the activity but it is something I enjoy – especially when I can look back through the photographs for the year.  I started today.
  • Return to and maintain my goal weight by fully participating in Weight Watchers – especially resuming portion control and tracking.
  • Find my happy – I need to discover the opportunities in obstacles and approach everything I do with both humility and humor.  Life is too short to be crabby and frowning gives you wrinkles.
  • Balance my professional and personal life.  I need to protect time in my schedule to honor things important to me – including physical activity, writing, and photography. I know that if I do not nurture and care for myself, I will have nothing to give to others.
  • Connect with my community.  I’ve lived in Sacramento for over a year and other than a few people at the gym who I talk with during Pilates or Zumba, I have not explored the area nor made friends locally.  I want to become more involved in the vibrant arts community this year.

So how did I do?

While ample room for improvement exists, I’m happy to report I made progress on all of the resolutions.  Even if the progress was small, it was still forward motion and cause for celebration – at least in my opinion.

So, here’s a progress report, of sorts.

Daily Physical Activity

While I didn’t make it to the gym every day in 2013, I made progress here.  Unfortunately, when I fractured my foot in early March I was out of commission for weeks – no Zumba, no Pilates, no walking the doodles…and I feel like even though my foot healed, maybe my momentum took longer to recharge.

Daily Writing Practice

Another area prime for improvement; I did not meet my goal of posting every day.  While I write every day as part of my job, the intent of this goal was to engage in more creative pursuits – whether fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, even writing a letter to a friend.  November was my most active writing month because I participated in NaNoWriMo again this year.

Daily Photographs

This was probably my biggest success, although I fell off the Project 365 wagon.  Some days I took hundreds of photos; others, not a one.  2014 is another chance to get it right and have a visual journal of the year by December 31st.

Regain and Maintain Goal Weight

This goal is closely tied to physical activity, but it is also tied to making healthy choices – not only in what I eat, but also how much.  Feeling blue is not good for my weight (and other things – frowns give you wrinkles), so I’m re-committing myself to this goal in 2014.  I was the best weight, health, and shape of my life when I moved to California – it is time to get back to it – no excuses.

Find my Happy

This is a big resolution for me and one I plan to keep working until my time’s up.  I know that my happiness is my responsibility and that while I want to share my happiness with others, it is imperative that I find and nurture my happiness on my own.  The biggest lesson I need to learn is that happiness is a choice – and I need to choose it constantly and consistently.  No more sulking.

Balance

This resolution needs work (pun intended).  I have a great job and a wonderful team – I never want to let anyone down or leave anything undone.  The truth is, though, that I can do better if I compartmentalize, prioritize, and re-energize.  If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t do my colleagues any good.  I know my job is not a 40-hour a week gig; but I need to balance things better so that I have the energy, stamina, and presence of mind to make good decisions and provide support when needed.

Community

Being introverted, this was a stretch resolution  I’ve joined a few meet-up groups and have attended events.  I’ve reached to a friend from high-school who lives nearby and we’ve enjoyed several theatrical performances.  And, I’ve begun to make connections with others in the area with similar interests.

I also keep encouraging friends and family back in Michigan to come visit.  I miss my people desperately – and I have plenty of room for visitors.  [YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!  JUST COME VISIT – THEN I CAN STOP WRITING MY INVITATIONS IN ALL CAPS!]  There is much work left on this goal, but I feel I’m up to the task and I can be very, very persuasive when needed.

I know I need to think about resolutions for 2014, but I feel like these resolutions still resonate with me.  Perhaps 2014 will be the year of try, try again!

Bumpy Ride

Good things come in small packages, my tiny Yaya oft reminded me.  After a stressful, emotional week, I found solace in small, simple pleasures and local adventures over this holiday weekend.

My 10-year-old step grandson called last week asking if he could visit this weekend.  I jumped at the chance and worked out the details with my stepson.  When I child loves you enough to want to be with you – knowing you will make him eat his vegetables, brush teeth, go to bed at a decent time, and the like – it reminds you that you are special in someone’s heart.

We finished our Harry Potter marathon Friday night, went to an exotic animal sanctuary in Rocklin on Saturday, explored Chalk it Up, Sacramento in Fremont Park on Sunday, enjoyed Sci Fi movies (Oblivion and several StarWars flicks), and walked the doodles every day.  Nothing extravagant – but everything fulfilling.

After his dad picked him up late this morning, I thought I’d watch a more grown-up movie and then take the doodles to the Bark Park.

On the way to the park, I passed this cautionary sign in the neighborhood:

Bumpy Ride

My path lately is bumpy, lumpy, undulating, twisting, topsy, and turvy.  Through it all, I’m working hard to find the little sparkle in every day, the small happinesses, the hidden treasures.

A weekend with my grandson is one of the happiest things in my life.  He reminds me regularly to keep my heart young and not take myself – or anything else – too seriously.  My pets help, too – even though the road is rough, I’ve got animals who love me unconditionally and demonstrate wild abandon in everything they do.

Happy Doodle

My goal for this week is to enjoy the ride – bumps and all.  Every breath is a gift – a good thing in a small package – and I’m not wasting a minute!

Assets and Liabilities

Spent an afternoon at the mediator going through paperwork, processes, plusses, minuses, assets, liabilities, laws, and timelines.  Even though I want this divorce and felt very prepared for our discussions today, I still could not keep the tears at bay.

It wasn’t an ugly experience – in fact, it felt so good to be moving toward much-needed closure.  I kept apologizing for my inability to keep from tearing up, but I suppose a few wet tissues is preferable to blaming, screaming, or other such nastiness.  Maybe it is the insomnia or the stress of work.  Perhaps it is that I still cannot shake the feeling that I’ve failed  – even though rationally I know I’ve given all I can and did not get what I needed in return.

Whatever the reasons, I made a detour on the way home.  Stopped at BevMo for some coconut rum and splurged on some pumpkin hard cider and imported brie.  It was too hot when I got home to walk the doodles, so I made myself a drink (with the rum) and an avocado, pico de gallo, and brie Panini on Truckee Sourdough Company multigrain bread.  Maybe, like Wallace (à la Wallace and Gromit), cheese is a cure for pain.

I’ve got so much work today, but I’m too emotionally and physically drained tonight to do the professional job required of me.  Instead, I’m enjoying an evening libation, writing (another cure for pain), and watching “Broadchurch” (I’m a sucker for a Scotsman).

I’m trying to come out of my cocoon by making a few plans for future fun:

  • This holiday weekend with my grandson – and perhaps an adventure in Rocklin to see some creatures at Star Eco Station or getting some good Greek grub at the Greek Festival downtown (or hanging with other mean old YiaYia’s/YaYa’s)
  • Dancing at Zumba classes and walking the doodles
  • Next weekend’s hot air balloon races in Reno with the outdoor photography meet-up group (even though we’ll be meeting at the crack of dark to take photos)
  • Bad Art Night at one of Sacramento’s libraries
  • Maybe seeing “Spamalot” with a friend from RHS at the Davis Musical Theatre Company
  • A Haunted Stacks tour at another of Sacramento’s libraries
  • Thanksgiving in the Mitten – staying with the rents and my sis, seeing my family and friends

spamalot

Bottom line – I left the mediator desperately feeling like a liability.  In reality – I may not have financial assets, but I am an asset – and I need to remind myself that I have so much to value.

Un-iversary

Thirteen years ago today, I married a man I loved with all of my heart.

Fast forward 13 years.   Our marriage did not succeed and we are in the throes of divorce.  While I believe it is an amicable dissolution of our union, some days it is hard for me to shake the feel of failure.   I know that I extended the marriage long past its logical conclusion because I did not want to give up on fixing it.  I know there are so many things I did not do right in this marriage — I’m an imperfect woman;  I’ve made mistakes.

I also know that it takes more than one person to make any relationship succeed.  No matter how much I loved or how much support I provided, ultimately it was not enough.  Marriage is hard work – and you have to both do the work to make it work.  It takes two to tango and dragging your partner across the floor by his hair isn’t exactly the choreography of happiness and doesn’t win you any points for style (although it may get you some laughs).

Today I’m trying to remind myself of the important lessons I’ve learned over the past thirteen years:

  • Everyone, including me, is worth genuine love and affection.  Be generous with your love and affection — you will reap what you sow.  If you do not, you’re not planting the right field.
  • Be kind.  If you say something ugly, it will always be between you no matter how sincere the apology.
  • Don’t sacrifice the things you need to be happy in order to please your partner.
  • Don’t accept being treated poorly.  You are worth more than that.
  • Explicitly ask, don’t hint.  You know what you need.  No matter how elegant you think the hints are, the only way to ensure message delivered equals message received is to be specific.
  • Keep emotions out of requests.  Requests are not pleas or attacks.  If you still do not get what you need after asking for what you need, consider that a BIG SIGN.
  • Choose your battles.  Genuine love, affection, and getting what you need may be battles worth fighting, but consider that these should be given freely rather than as the spoils of marital warfare.
  • Apologize when needed, but don’t apologize for things that you do not own.
  • Forgive fully.  Holding onto resentment, anger, and disappointment hurt you more than anyone else.
  • Never go to bed angry — it gives you bad dreams and fitful sleep.  It also makes you grind your teeth.  And wrinkles — I’m convinced it gives you wrinkles.  Oh, and dark bags beneath your eyes.
  • Tell the people you love how much they mean to you.  Don’t be stingy with the “I love you’s” — life is too short to keep your dear ones guessing.
  • If your lover/spouse does not say “I love you, too”, consider that a BIG SIGN.  A grunt is not a suitable response.  Ever.
  • It is not too much to want a kiss hello and a kiss goodnight EVERY DAY.  Kisses are truly a better fate than wisdom (à la e. e. cummings).
  • Respect yourself (and your partner) enough to know when staying together does more damage than being apart.

So, there it is.  I don’t regret being married, but I also hope our divorce will be final soon so that I can move on in my life.  I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what I will and will not accept in a relationship.  Life is too precious and short not to love fully and completely — and be loved fully and completely in return.

10 Things I Think I will Miss

My husband is still waiting to close on his new condo – the one he thought he would be in before Christmas.  It now sounds like he will move while I am traveling for work, so the very real possibility exists that I will arrive to a home more empty than the one I leave.  Having not lived alone for the past 14 years, I have been wondering what it will be like.  While I’m excited to have my space and an environment within my control, I know that there will be many things I will miss when my husband and I are no longer co-habitating.

So, here are the top 10 things I think I will miss:

  1. Someone with whom to share the story of my day
  2. Someone to share their day’s story with me
  3. Daily help with Doodle (and Luna) Duty – feeding, walking, playing with the dogs – especially on weekend mornings when the possibility of sleeping in is significantly impacted by the rumbling tummies of two rather large (and heavy) dogs and one ferocious feline
  4. A walking partner for evenings and weekends
  5. Someone to do the ironing
  6. Someone to fix things – my bike’s flat tire, odds and ends around the house, etc.
  7. Someone to hug me when I’m blue
  8. Someone to make me laugh
  9. Someone to snuggle
  10. A person to compliment my cooking

There are more things, I’m sure, but these are the few quick thoughts.  I may follow up soon with the things I think I won’t miss.