Inconvenient Blessings

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. At the beginning of March, we were notified by our landlord that, despite his statements to the contrary, he would be selling the house we had been renting and was hoping we could be out by May 1st. In just under 2 months, he wanted us to find a suitable place to live, pack up our lives and move. No warning and definitely not on our radar. My boys and I kicked it into high gear and set out to find a place to live.

Initially we thought about moving into my grandpa’s house. He has dementia and has been living in a memory care facility for a while. My sis has been living there with her kids and her boyfriend for about the last year. She was supposed to be looking for a new place closer to her work and I was under the impression that she would be moving around the time we needed to move. Perfect solution, right? Not so much. Found out that she would be staying until about July. That was still okay because my landlord told me that we could stay until September, giving us ample time.  If I could live there rent-free like my sister had been, that would give me a opportunity to pay off some debt and prepare to buy a house of my own. About a week after we found out what lies ahead of us, my mom tells me that she and my dad are selling their house and moving into my grandpa’s to live mortgage free. Again, no break for us.

So we started looking for a place to live.

At about the same time, my cat (a 4 year old unaltered male) had disappeared for a while and came home with an abscess in his jaw. We were worried that it was a BB gunshot wound and took him to the vet. We had just gotten our tax return so we finally had the money to not only take care of the abscess, but also get him fixed, something we had been meaning to do for a while. Unfortunately, we found out that he had FIV and had to be an indoor cat. He did not like being indoors, but we couldn’t risk him giving it to the neighborhood cats. He became super territorial and aggressive. He peed on everything and started pooping on furniture because he was pissed at not being able to go outside. He also meowed constantly which meant no one got any sleep. Attacking my youngest was the last straw. At his followup appointment, I explained to the vet what had been going on, and that I had heard of ways to curb the behavior. Unfortunately, because being outside was so ingrained in my cat (coupled with the FIV diagnosis) and because he had become so territorial and aggressive, the vet believed that the only humane course of action was to euthanize my cat. $1,000 to treat and ultimately euthanize my cat, making my” year of travel” fund for the year much smaller and my guilt meter go off the charts.  Just a little bit of advice–do not delay neutering a male cat. Do it ASAP.

Also around that time, I had a tire that kept going flat because I had run over a screw a few months before. It had gotten to the point where I was putting air the tire every day and sometimes even twice a day. If you are going to replace one tire, might as well replace all four and get it over with. Another  $1,000  out of our “year of travel” fund gone.

It seemed that I spent every waking moment looking for a place to live. On my days off, I spent a lot of time on Apartments.com, Rent.com, Hotpads.com, zillow.com and a variety of property management sites. Something was wrong with each of them. They didn’t allow cats (this was before he was euthanized), they had a weird layout that wouldn’t allow for my work-at-home set-up, they were too small, they were poorly kept or smelled weird or unclean. If I did find one that worked, they rented it before we could get our application in. The other issue was space. I just bought a freezer and wasn’t prepared to give it up. I had already settled on the idea that I would have to sell or get rid of a lot of my art and craft supplies.

Just as I did when I was looking for a job, I prayed for only one yes–the one that was meant to be ours. My thinking was that God knew the need and he would provide, and if that yes meant we gave things up, I was okay with that. Or I would learn to be. I also knew that if it was a yes, then the money would be there.

About three weeks in, I saw it. I was browsing Zillow and an apartment had just been posted that morning. I LOVED it. The minute I saw the pictures I knew I wanted it. About 1000 square feet, island in the kitchen, wood burning fireplace, large bedrooms and it had a two car garage. And, it was beautiful. I immediately set an appointment to see it and showed my boys the listing. They felt the same way when they saw the pictures.  The minute we stepped in the door, we knew it had to be ours. The bedrooms are twice the size of the house we were living in. Beautiful hardwood floors and carpets. The bathroom actually has counter space and drawers and a tile shower with sliding glass door. Built in shelves and cabinets and of course the two car garage. That two-car garage would allow me to keep my newly purchased freezer, my art and craft supplies and would give us enough flexibility to unpack a little at a time. I put in the application and 2 days later we were approved. In 7 days we would start moving into our new place.

I had to work a normal 40 hour week, errands still had to be run, bills had to be paid and we now had to pack up an entire house while still living in it. Not a whole lot of time. Thankfully, my ex-husband came through and was able to help get all the heavy moving done. A friend I met through my youngest son volunteered her time to help pack and rocked it in my studio. Her son and nephew helped with the heavy lifting and moving. I am so thankful for everyone that helped us get moved. Cleaning was another story. I did have few friends come by and help when they had some time and what they got accomplished was amazing.  I am so thankful for everyone that was able to help. I still haven’t finished cleaning–just a few things left to do, but I ended up sick for 3 days.

We are almost there but moving, with all the stuff we had to buy and the security deposit and rent ate over $2,000 of our “year of travel” fund. It is gone. There is no money left for travel this year. So travel is out, which in my mind, is out of the question, or I have to pick up extra hours at work or find another creative way to earn travel money.

Things NEVER work out the way we plan or the way we hope. They change and break and bend. I could feel defeated over the loss of my travel fund. I could sit here and be pissed off that my sister and her family got to live rent free for so long and I was not afforded the same opportunity. I could mope over the possibility of working a lot more hours. But, I will do like I always do–work hard, get creative and push forward. In the end I usually have to fight for everything I have, but in that process I am teaching my kids to do the same.

And as far as travel goes, I won’t let anything stop me and my boys. Extra hours, driving for UberEats again, or doing farmers market (schedule permitting) again, I will figure out a way to finance food and transportation when we travel. Now that we have caught the bug, travel isn’t a matter of “if”, it is “when” and “how”.

And as far as the inconvenience and frustration of moving goes, we are in a place that makes us happy and feels like home. Yes, sacrifices were made and those were hard, but I truly believe that we are where we are meant to be. Beautiful home, nice neighborhood, happy kids.

Not So Nice Surprises

My life has been so good and so blessed lately and whenever it is, there is usually a challenge just around the corner. It is something I have discussed with my children at length. You know, that whenever life is good it could drop a pile of shit on you at any time so you shouldn’t ever get too comfortable with the blessings. And that you need to learn to accept and deal with the bad stuff and not let it keep you in a hole.

My kids and I have been living in a cute and quirky little house for almost two years. We love this house. My landlord has been a good landlord. He told us shortly after we moved in that he had no intention of selling the house so we could stay here as long as we would like. We weren’t thinking permanent at first because our dream is to own our own house so that was the direction we were heading. As time has gone on the prices of homes have gone up, adjusting our plans. When I got turned down for a mortgage, I was a little devastated. A few days to think about it and I had decided that instead of buying a home, I would take the time and money I would have invested into it and invest it in traveling with my kids, making memories.

We decided that we would use our tax return for travel money, making it possible to travel without worry of how we would pay for lunch, snacks, transportation and souvenirs. We started to look at our housing situation as permanent and began treating it that way. Part of my tax return was invested in the purchase of a freezer for our mud room and heavy duty shelves to store dry goods and non perishable food and art and business supplies so that we could use my art studio/office as my bedroom as well. Doing that would allow my boys to each have their own room and space. I came up with an idea for storage and decor in my soon-to-be bedroom and invested in about 20 or so wooden crates and started searching for a daybed (there isn’t much room).

So, that is why what happened on Monday was so difficult for us. While on the clock, I got a text from my landlord asking me to give him a call when I have a minute. Instantly I feel like I am getting sent to the principal’s office. I text him back asking if everything is okay because I instantly got a bad feeling and was thinking the worst. Nope. Everything is okay and he just needs to talk about the house. Vague. Not a good sign. I called him on my break and he dropped a bomb. With the influx of new residents (a ton from CA) the home values have gone up (about $40,000 in the last year in my area) and rental prices have gone up by about 50% in some places. Because of the way the market is, he says he can’t keep the house, needs to sell it and instead wants to invest in a house in Detroit.  I have been watching the market so this is not super shocking.  But considering where our mindset was, it was a surprise. He would like us to be out by May 1 which is less than 2 months. Not a whole lot of time. I instantly go into panic mode, a million things running through my head. Have to start searching for  new place to live, acquire boxes, pack up my life and downsize everything. All the plans and purchases to truly make this place our home are now a liability.

I hate moving. I hate packing. I hate uprooting my kids again.

After that conversation, I had to get back to work. But I was in kind of a panic and could not stop crying. No good when your whole job is talking on the phone and helping people. It was a tad difficult to keep it together for the last hour and forty five minutes of my shift. Thankfully I managed.

My kids and I had a trip to San Jose the next day and we decided that the day would be about fun and fun only. We weren’t going to stress over our situation and since the situation had altered our “year of travel” plans, I decided I didn’t even care how much money we spent. We had fun and didn’t look at price tags and we took Ubers instead of public transportation. Spent too much, but didn’t really care. We did talk about the situation–a little bit. Mostly we just had fun. I think we all enjoyed the day immensely and it was just what we needed.

Back to reality and we have a bit of a problem. Less than 8 weeks to find a new place to live, pack up everything (and I have a LOT of “everything”), try and sell or get rid of some of that everything, clean the house and yard, get a storage unit, probably find a home for my cat and re-set up everything (utilities, home office, address change with everyone, etc) and unpack.  That is a lot to think about, but I have already started the process. My middle monkey and I were searching the area for rental houses and apartments and I found some packing boxes and materials for sale on Facebook marketplace.  I even packed my first box.

I could let this overwhelm us, but I choose to see this as an opportunity to something better. I don’t know what is in front of us, but I know we can handle it. These hiccups, fubars, upsets and challenges always lead to something amazing. We just have to not let the anxiety and the uncertainty become an anchor around our necks. I have resilient kids and I am super adaptable so this is all doable. Maybe not easy, but it is doable. And when all is said and done we will have a new place to live, we will make some new friends and we will be one step closer to wherever we are meant to be. Life is an adventure. If we stayed on the perfect and pristine path and avoided the rocky and wooded areas, we would miss out on so much. I don’t want  to miss a thing. Even the challenges. Without those, we couldn’t possibly appreciate the amazing. So bring it on–I am ready.

 

 

Valentine-less does not mean Loveless

I posted a meme on Facebook that I thought was funny. It was titled “Dysfunctional Valentine Hearts” and had conversation hearts that said things like “I like U as a friend,” “It’s not U, it’s Me” and “Creeping me Out.”  Instead of having a chuckle or just rolling his eyes, a friend decided to comment.

“Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you find at least one reason to smile today.”

???????

I am happier and way more content right now than at any other time in my adult life. I have plenty of reasons to smile. I am not sure exactly what was intended, but it did cause some reflection on my part. It seems that when you are single on this one day of the year, it is expected that you are or will be depressed. That somehow you are lacking something because you don’t have a relationship or what you might call a love life. I may not have these things, but I am okay with that, at least for now. I have spent the better part of my life alone and I have never felt more lonely than when I was married. I have no desire to feel like that again.

My younger sister has never not had a relationship. Never. Not since she started dating in her teens. She is pretty and funny and smart and driven. I used to be so jealous that she had boys after her in school and men when she was an adult. Sometimes I still am just a little bit. Not very often because I have grown to love my life and my freedom. I have also come to realize that I have value beyond what any man in my life has troubled themselves to see (except maybe my dad and grandpa). I have been crushing on the same man for 4 years. He will never, ever be interested in me. He is safe. I can crush and drool and flirt and he will never want me and therefore never break my heart. He is safe. For now, that is enough.

I would much rather be alone than with someone who makes me feel that way. On occasion I do feel the pangs of loneliness and wish there were another adult here, but they are few and far between these days. I think we all feel that way sometimes, but it doesn’t need to consume us.

I would rather be by myself than to ever be taken for granted again. I don’t like being with someone and feeling like I don’t matter. Someone that expects me to always just take care of things and neglects their responsibilities as a partner. I will never sit back and let it happen again.

I would rather go solo and be responsible for my own shit than to be disappointed over and over and over again, wondering when a promise will finally be kept. I can handle most things myself or I can ask for help when needed. I have no desire for non stop let downs.

My financial independence to very important to me. After what I have dealt with when you share financial responsibilities with another human being, I am very wary about making my financial life vulnerable ever again. I have built up from financial rock bottom and I don’t want to be anywhere near that place again.

Love is a many faceted thing and comes in a lot of shapes and sizes and forms. There are so many other ways to experience love than in a romantic relationship. I have plenty of that right now, both given or felt and received. My cup runneth over.

I have 3 sons that I love to the moon and back and around the universe. They are my world. I have parents that have often given me their last $5, supported me through the worst days of my life, listened to me cry and bitch when my world was falling apart. They celebrate every victory with me.  Words cannot begin to say how much I love and appreciate their never ending love for me. I have other family that make my life amazing and show me love in a million different ways. Friends too. They show me kindness and generosity and compassion and they cheer me on when I struggle. They take time out of their busy schedules and crazy lives to check up on me and make sure I am well.  I have such great love and affection for so many people in my life. My life really is full.

I have no need to celebrate Valentine’s Day in some big and special way, with or without a significant other. I don’t want some big show of attention once a year. It is not some marker that is the sole determinant of being loved or feeling loved or loving someone else. I like and enjoy the everyday simple stuff people do for those they care about. That is when I feel loved the most. And I love being able to do and be and give for others as well. That is love. Valentine or not.

Expectation vs. Reality vs. Real Reality

This year is about to come to an end and the last twelve months have been incredible. So many cool things have happened and so many blessings have come my way. I quit a job that was making me miserable and found one that I love. I have been able to not worry so much about money thanks to that job and my ability to drive my nice, new-ish car for Uber on the weekends. I have some amazing new friends thanks to my new job. I have also been able to go on some pretty cool adventures with my kids because of it. We have been to San Diego twice, Portland twice, Seattle and we have driven to Salt Lake City a couple of times. We have plans for many more adventures and my kids are my favorite travel buddies. I have found that not only do I love my kids, but I truly like the people they are.

So with all this great stuff happening in my life, I am struggling at the moment. This time of year has been a bit difficult for me my whole adult life, but it seems especially so right now and I think it is due to a number of factors and that another year is ending and so many of my plans did not see fruition. And so the reasons for my struggle:

  1. I have been working too much and I am so tired. I love both of my jobs for the same reason–people. I love helping people, even cranky ones. I have had some amazing and life changing conversations due to these jobs. I have been able to help people dealing with some tough stuff breathe a little easier. The problem is, I work  a full time day job and anywhere between 12 and 20 hours per week driving. I also have an online store that, for the most part, I ignore but occasionally get orders that require time to complete. I want so much to have and do things that I often over-schedule myself to the point of exhaustion
  2. People sometimes suck. The past few weeks have been especially difficult for me with regard to people. I love my job and people being pissed off doesn’t generally bother me. Maybe it is the holiday travel and holiday stress, but I have found my limit of bullshit, laziness and entitlement acceptance or tolerance. This goes beyond just work related stuff. Being in customer service means dealing with a lot of crap from people who feel like they should always have what they want, how they want it, when they want it or they threaten to take their business elsewhere. They think rudeness and assholery will get them them what they want faster. I have been in customer service in a number of businesses–banking, retail, food service and airline reservations. I see it all the time as a customer too. I have dealt with a lot of entitlement silliness. What normally does not phase me is eating me up.
  3. I don’t get nearly enough sleep and it is wearing on me. Part of it is stress I am sure and part of it is just environment, but I am feeling lately that my thyroid might be the primary culprit is this. Weight gain and gluten accidents are not helping. Staying up til 3 and 4 in the morning driving for Uber is not helping either. I have messed up my sleep cycle big time. Going to the gym and being more active would probably help but that is another point of failure.
  4. My birthday. I just turned 49  a couple days ago. I have no idea how time flew by so quickly, but it has and that scares me. I worry that I have missed out on so much. I am now trying to make up for it and I feel like time is running out.
  5. I don’t take care of my self. This is my biggest point of personal failure that seems to plague me each new year. I always have the best of intentions, but trying to make time for myself and my health always falls by the wayside.  My very sedentary jobs have made me gain 30 pounds. My thyroid is feeling sluggish. Lack of sleep leaves me exhausted. Not making the gym my priority creates a lot of guilt. I need to make changes, and I try but then I go back to old habits and let the fatigues rule the day.
  6. Ended and changed friendships. People I thought were for real turned out not to be. I think there are lot of people that are really good at faking and really good at bullshit. Both for themselves and others. This one really weighs on me. People I thought I could count on and trust have proven otherwise and their self-absorbtion, narcissism, selfishness, etc have caused me to end things or distance myself. The sad thing is, I saw these things early on multiple times but dismissed them as I always do until the cloud of optimism (or foolishness) covered their multitude of sins. I hate giving up on people. I want to give people every chance to be who I feel like they are or can be. I feel guilty when I give up or walk away.
  7. I feel like a failure. This in several ways, the most important the aspect being motherhood. I don’t spend enough time with my kids. I don’t do enough with my kids. I don’t have enough money to give my kids the things they want. I work hours that keep me from checking on them doing homework, my 13 year old cooks dinner most nights and I feel like they are growing up so fast and I am missing it.
  8. I am still single. Constant reminders abound that I am not partnered with anyone. I see everyone else around me dating and in relationships and I am alone. I always feel like it is because I am overweight and I am weird and I am not feminine enough. Men don’t look at me as having relationship potential or I am not “eye candy” enough for them. The reminders that I am not good enough are everywhere and constant. Another point of “failure”.

All of these things have been dragging me down, but if I really look at things, I do put so much pressure on myself to be and do and have everything–perfectly. Yes I do fail and struggle at things, but with a mountain of things I want to accomplish staring at me, it is easy to get overwhelmed, anxious and depressed.

So, if I break things down a bit, I can see that there is a lot to be encouraged by, proud of and happy about. For example, I got a job I love with amazing benefits. I can’t afford everything I want for my kids and we sometimes struggle and I don’t have near enough time with them, but every time we travel, it is great bonding time and we all contribute and plan. My boys try to find ways to save money and they research places that serve gluten free food and they find fun things to see on a budget. They are getting my undivided attention and day of my time that is completely theirs. I couldn’t do that before this  job. I couldn’t see the potential for adventure with my kids in the simplest of trips and events. My job opened my eyes.

I may be single, but I am strong and can do things for myself and I am not afraid of going places and doing things on my own. When I am “with” someone, it won’t be because I am incapable of handling life on my own, it will be because they add something no one else does.  I love going places with friends, but I am equally comfortable to go by myself. And speaking of friends, I have made a few good ones this year that I would not know now if it weren’t for the choices I have made, even the less than wise or comfortable ones.

My birthday wasn’t so scary and I am actually looking forward to 50. I had plans to go out and have adult beverages, but everyone is broke after Christmas so I postponed my night out. I ended up driving for Uber but lack of rides had me ending my drive time early and going to see a movie. Alone. And that was okay with me.

My biggest thing going into 2019 is going to be focus on my health. My eating habits have to improve. That is a given. I need to establish a routine at the gym. Sleep and rest have to be a priority as well. There are ton of things I want to do, but I am thinking that if I can keep my focus on my health, everything will begin to fall into place and I will be happier, healthier and more alert and less fatigued.

So life is not as much of a struggle as I make it sometimes. I am really good at making things more difficult by amassing an unrealistic list of things to accomplish and beating myself when said list isn’t finished. I am not going to focus on those things. I am going to let up on expectation and just enjoy life more this coming year. There is a lot of fun in my future. If I can just keep that damn cloud of expectation in my rear view mirror by outpacing it with all the fun I am going to have.

Friends, Family and Faux Pas.

Friendships at any age are sometimes difficult and precarious. When you are young, things change at lightning speed. Hormones, fights, gossip, changing of interests–any number of factors–alter feelings, cause rifts and obliterate friendships.  When you become an adult, you would think that maturity and time would change that, but often it gets worse and pettiness amplifies.

In school, once we stopped moving around so much, my friend group pretty much stayed the same. I mostly got along with everyone, at least until high school where things started getting weird and I kind of wonder if my need to be kind to others and my inability to speak up for myself with any sort of volume or assertiveness sometimes put me in painful situations. Case in point–I was friends with “E” all throughout junior high. I always knew he was different, but it never bothered me. “E” was gay and I adored the crap out of him anyway (I was brought up attending a VERY conservative Baptist church so you can do the math here). When we transitioned from junior high into high school, “E” and I sort of drifted in different directions. No animosity as far as I could tell, until Julie came along. I had known her for a while and that year, for some unknown reason, she developed a cruel streak and she had it out for me. Julie decided to write a letter to “E” that was absolutely horrid and she blamed it on me. I knew it was her because I knew her handwriting. It used gay slurs I had never even heard of before that letter and never would have used even if I had known them. “E” never questioned her assigning blame to me and the two of them decided to take that letter around to as many students as they could, let them read it and on a piece of paper, they could write what they thought of me after reading that letter. I tried to protest, but my voice wasn’t loud enough. I was absolutely mortified that someone would do something so awful to one of my friends and blame me. Needless to say, both friendships were irreparably damaged, and over for good.

Fast forward a few years–okay a few decades–not a lot has changed. Tactics have changed but grown adults are just as cowardly and just as cruel. Second case in point is Deb. I met her when we were both in college raising kids as single mothers. We lived in the same apartment complex and when her boys met my son, they became friends and one night she invited us to the drive-in with them and we were inseparable after that. For 13 years, I considered her my sister. We made and ate meals together, we took our kids hiking together, we had grown up sleep overs and just hung out together all the time. Almost 6 years ago (or 5? I can’t remember exactly), she called me and asked if I was okay with my husband driving to Yakima with her to pick up one of her sons. I think It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas break and there was a great deal of snowfall with no signs of stopping. She didn’t want to go by herself and I trusted both of them. My then-husband went and shortly after that she stopped speaking to me. I don’t know if something happened or something was said, but it wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized the time/event correlation. It could be that I was dealing with a horrible marriage and some serious depression. I asked if I had done something wrong or if she was upset with me and “no” was the reply to both questions. She never did elaborate and said we should talk. That talk never happened and eventually I unfriended her on facebook because I could no longer stand the real life silence between us while she posted pictures and such of all the things she and her other friends were doing. It was unbearable. I felt like I had lost not only my best friend but also my sister. My then-husband watched me cry over the loss of that friendship for what seemed like forever. I found out a couple years ago that Deb and my now ex-husband have remained friends this whole time. He never said a word, just watched me suffer and cry. It was such an act of cruelty and cowardice on both their parts. I still ache when I think about it. Not sure that loss will ever be completely unfelt.

My third case in point is “B”. My husband and I went to church with him and his wife a number of years ago. When I started driving for Uber, he contacted me to get information and eventually confided in me that he and his wife were divorcing. We started hanging out a lot and would sometimes meet for dinner while we were out Ubering. We talked a lot. And often. If you have been divorced, you know how hard it can be even if it is the best possible option for you. You need a support system. Our shared experiences gave us something to bond over and we became close friends. Until “M” entered the picture. “M” was his not-a-girlfriend. They started spending every waking moment together and very quickly I became disposable. Until they broke up. Then I became important again and we talked and hung out all the time again. Then “B” happened and I once again became disposable. After he and “B” broke up, back to friends. We spent all the time we could together, including a trip to Portland courtesy of my employer. And then, yep, you guessed it…..another woman entered the picture and I became disposable again. He once told me that it was his job to show me how a man should treat a woman (if you have read any other posts on this blog, you will understand why). I am slightly dense when it comes to the opposite sex, but I am guessing extracting what you can from someone you call friend and then disposing of them is not it.

While these are three examples of some of the friendship F***-ups (there are a lot more), there are some truly amazing people that have been blessed to call friend.  Some of them I see all the time, some of them I wish I saw more, but all of them have a very special place somewhere in my life.

Aaron is my best friend. He is half my age, geeky and a bit of a gamer or he was.  I met him at my former employer and our friendship started because he was supposed to teach me how to play first person shooter games so that I could surprise my kids and play with them. He kept coming over to my house to play games, but somehow that turned into conversation and a shared love of The Walking Dead, which we watched. A lot. After a while, he just became a fixture in my life. I never learned to play first person shooter games.  We hardly ever see each other (he works 12-16 hour days as a correctional officer), but when we do it is like starting up just where we left off. He has been one of my biggest supporters and biggest cheerleaders when I was struggling and my life was falling apart.

Dianna is one of the best humans I know. We don’t see each other nearly enough. She is one of those people that shows up at just the right time and has me in stitches when I am having the worst shit day. When I am with her laughing is nearly non-stop and I can always count on her to help me find crazy shoes. I feel like I can trust her no matter what. We also met at my former employer and we started bonding over work frustrations and things grew from there.

Jennifer J is someone I served with in the army. While we both studied language at the Defense Language Institute, we didn’t actually meet until we served in Germany. She might be one of the sweetest, most genuinely nice people I know. I liked her way back then, but It wasn’t until we reconnected on facebook that I really started to appreciate her. We have a lot in common–a love of all things tie dye and colorful, Monterey is our favorite place on the planet and our silly personalities just to name a few. She is like my long lost twin and I absolutely love the woman. I so wish we lived closer to each other.  We would be hanging out all the time. Whether she liked it or not. HA!

Shawna, another former co-worker is just an all around cool badass. She doesn’t put up with crap from anyone and would step in front of a bus before she would let it hit you. She is fiercely protective and takes care of those she cares about. On several occasions she has taken up for me when no one else would and was ready to take out a couple of different people for me and when I hit a particular rough spot, she offered help and support. I know she has done that for others as well.

I met Allison through a former artist friend I met on facebook. We bonded over similar interests and similar past trauma.  She is someone I can tell anything to and I trust her completely. She has put up with a lot of my personal drama, stuff I don’t tell anyone else. She doesn’t judge me and is straight up honest with me even if it is something I don’t want to hear. We finally met in person a few months ago and I adore her even more than I did via our facebook friendship. She is a talented, funny, empathetic, kind and sweet human being. I wish we lived closer to each other too.

Theresa is a former coworker. She goes out of her way to invite me and my kids to her house for dinner or to go somewhere nature-centered and fun. She is always checking on me and concerned for my well-being. She invests her time and energy into trying out new gluten free recipes she can share with me and she used to bring meals she made at home to share with me and others at work. She is very much the motherly type who spends her time taking care of others

There are so many others–Ann, Kerry, Denise, Dorrie, Melissa.  So many people that are so many things to me. Cheerleaders, supporters, partners in crime. I don’t know what I would do without them.

The not-so-good ones definitely left strong impressions and did some difficult to undo damage, but because of their shitty behavior and less than stellar treatment of me, I have learned a bit about how I DON’T want to treat people.  The best ones? Well, they are people I want to emulate, people I strive to be like. I feel like I always fall horribly short, but I am working on it. And I have some very good role models. Yes, even at the ripe old age of 48, I still have role models. And a lot to learn.

Of Wimps and Warriors, Can I Please Have the Latter?

Maybe it is just me, but I keep finding that the men available nowadays are not exactly warrior types. And by warrior, I don’t mean that they have to be strong enough to pull a train engine with their teeth and a rope, run a marathon in combat boots and a loin cloth, take on a horde of battling Englishmen like William Wallace or even wrestle a bear.

I just want them to be actual men. The masculine kind. I miss masculinity.  Some say it is toxic, but I find masculinity intoxicating. I will take masculinity over a wimp with a “mangina” any day of the week.

And please don’t misunderstand what I mean. I am plenty badass on my own. I can make my own decisions, earn my own money, order my own food, fight for myself when I have to and stand up for others who might otherwise be unable to do so for themselves. For what I don’t already know, there is YouTube and Google and the Library.  I have survived a lot and done it on my own. I am a fighter and a bit of a smartypants—-although my choices in men might say otherwise.

What I seek is man who can see all the flaws and scars and still be more than okay with me. Someone who sees ME and finds beauty in my old wounds and will gently bandage them when life  (or someone in mine) opens them up and tries to bleed me out. Someone who sees me at my most vulnerable and doesn’t try to capitalize on it or use it as a way to inflict pain. Someone, who at his most vulnerable, will let me respond in kind.

I want someone wild at heart. Someone full of adventure who isn’t afraid of trying new things, seeing new places and meeting new people. A tame, colorless life that finds me in the safety of my own home does not interest me. I have no intention of staying in one place, stagnating like still water in a bird bath. I want to be on a plane or in a car or on a train bound for somewhere beautiful or amazing or full of old friends and potential new ones. I need someone who needs movement like I do.

He should be assertive enough to stand up to me and argue when necessary, not just roll over and curl up in fetal position, too afraid to say something. I would expect him to engage in conversation when issues come up or when we disagree and he should be strong in his viewpoint, but open to understanding and respecting mine. Even if it means we still disagree.

I want someone larger than life, quick to laugh, a bit of a dirty mind and a healthy appetite for life, food and *ahem* grown up time. I don’t want to spend my life watching documentaries on Netflix complaining about the weather. I need to be swept off my feet, dragged off to bed and made to feel like I am the most important thing in the world to someone. I will enthusiastically reciprocate all of it. For the right man. My warrior.

But where do they reside? What I find are men who let their pain dictate their behavior. They are cruel and selfish and self-centered and arrogant. They think only of themselves and what you can do or be for them without any investment on their part. They run and hide when things get uncomfortable, leaving damage and hurt in their wake and they have no concept of give and take in a relationship (or, let’s face it, friendship). They draw you in and then keep you at a safe distance so that you feel, but they don’t have to deal with it or feel anything themselves because feelings are bad.

I know that somewhere these beautiful, masculine, virile warriors exist, however rare they are. I know because I have seen them with a very few of my friends. They exist, but how does one find them? Do you mine them like a precious gemstone in a cave or quarry? Do you find them on some sort of special safari, like some rare animal on the endangered list? Or maybe they are built in some secret factory, the location of which, few are privy to. I don’t know, but would someone please clue me in? I would love to find one of my own. I am quite done with wimps, wussies, crybabies, whiners and selfish a-holes. I need my warrior.

Finding my Joy & Bringing Back Yes

As I have said before, for the last 2 decades I was sleepwalking my way through my life. I was a non-participant in some of the most important years of my oldest son’s life and now I am regretting it,  but I have turned things around and my two younger kiddos are reaping the benefits of a completely transformed mindset.

A number of contributing factors shackled my mind into the mindset of “I can’t”, “I don’t feel like it” and “I don’t have time”, etc. It doesn’t matter the exact circumstances–some of which I covered in previous posts–but how I handled them, or rather how I let them handle me. I fell into this rut that perpetuated negativity that fed itself until I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.

As a kid, I was full of adventure and imagination. I was pretty happy despite my circumstances, which were not always good or fun. I drew and painted and read stories that took me on adventures. I made adventures of my own and dealt with pain of life and growing up the way kids usually do–I adapted and got creative.  As I got older and dealt with more and more adult issues, that adventure was allowed to dwindle until it went away almost completely.

Single parenthood and being solely responsible for another human being chiseled away at who I was at heart. My marriage was something that, instead of bringing out my best, caused me to retreat and diminish, even more, who I was. Most of my relationships have been like that, each one sucking a little bit of life and heart out of me, until the adventure I sought out when I was younger, was avoided at all costs, leaving me unfulfilled and kind of miserable.  I let life do that to me.

When I left my husband, parts of who I used to be, that had been dormant for decades, began to reemerge. I started to wear color and laugh and smile more. At my job I was “accused” of being the happiest and most positive person in the store. That lasted about a year until I let it too beat me down and diminish me. It took my new job to realign everything and put me back on that path to adventure again.

My job gave me the opportunity to dream again. To plan adventures again. To share all of this with my kids. I began to see all the things I missed because I was too tired, had no money and no energy to do. I began to see possibility again. And our adventures don’t always include getting on a plane. Sometimes it is a 20 minute drive to a local landmark or a picnic in the park or driving to another state. Those trips give me joy–joy I get to share with my kids.

“YES!” and “Let’s go!” are now important parts of my vocabulary and thinking. Am I tired? Yes. Do I lack funds? Yes. Do I have time? Not much. Do I let any of this stop me anymore? HELL NO! I find creative ways to make things happen. I find reasons to say yes. I create an environment of excitement and fun. Is it easy? God no. Is it worth it to put in the extra work? Absolutely.

I love watching my kids faces light up as we plan trips and explore new places and experience new things. My happiest times these days are when I am with my kids doing something I would have said “No” or “I can’t” to a few years ago.

So life can keep bringing those challenges. I will keep finding new ways to make “YES” work. I never, ever want to go back to where I was 20 years ago, 10 years ago or even 1 year ago. I like this new arrangement. I like this new way of thinking. The best part of all this? The memories I am giving my kids. That and helping my kids to understand the idea of finding ways to make things work when they seem too hard or even impossible. I want my kids to say “YES!” and “Let’s go”. I want to keep going with that attitude even if it kills me. At least I would be dying with a smile on my face. And with each new adventure, that smile gets bigger and way more difficult to remove.