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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Year Is Almost Gone

I am amazed that 2011 is coming to a close.  I believe I will remember this year fondly...there have been a lot of firsts and and lots of fun. Christmas was a sweet time, things went fairly smoothly with the ex and the kiddos seemed to have an easy time with the switcheroo.  It's never fun to send them off, especially on a holiday.  Still my own evening was relaxing and fun.  Now we're visiting distant family and I'm just exhausted from trying to cram too much into too little time.

I haven't had much time to think about 2012 - I know there are some things I hope to leave in the past, I know there are some things I hope to add.  I know there are lots more that I haven't had time to think about yet.  I feel like it's time to get serious about what I want for me.  No more excuses, 2012 needs to be a year of action.

My "one word" for 2011 was Wisdom.  I can't say I've gained much, yet the awareness helps me be more intentional.  I'm thinking over some words for 2012.  It will probably be mid-January before I've settled on one.

I'm okay with that.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Liebster Award - What are we talking about?

Shelby of the Working Moms Blog has encouraged me in my posting for some time and recently honored me with The Liebster Award.  I admit, I had to figure out exactly what that meant ... and it pleased me so much to be nominated by another blogger!



Here is the explanation according to her site:

The Liebster award originated in Germany. (The word “Liebster” is a term of endearment; “beloved person.”) The aim of the award is to bring attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
***
These are the rules for accepting the award:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet – other writers.
5. And best of all – have fun and spread the Karma!
6. Right click on the award image to save it to your computer and then upload to your blog!

 In accepting, I get to pass along the recognition:

It's All About Balance - April is fantastic and I consider her among my bloggy BFF's
Lemongrass - Vanessa is a gem, and an early encourager
Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce - oh to have this kind of grace
Giving Up on Perfect - Mary is my hero because she tells it like it is
Creative Little House - Julie is a childhood friend-turned-blogger: way to go Jules!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Better This Year

I wish my presents were this pretty - image via Pinterest
Naturally, this year feels better for me because the children are here for this entire week leading up to the climax of Christmas morning. Last year was a sweet time, but I learned to take more opportunities to celebrate the experience on more than just Christmas Day. My children arrived home at 6 pm already overstimulated, tired and annoyed at having to leave their gifts at Daddy's house. We enjoyed gift-opening with my parents to help celebrate and then promptly crashed.
This year we'll wake and the children can freely pillage their stockings. We'll eat breakfast, letting the anticipation build. Then I'll don the Santa hat and hand out gifts. There are just four each to open and I have a feeling it won't take long! They can play while I get ready for the day, and they'll need to get ready, also, so we can head out to church. Hopefully I'll have time to prep some of the lunch before heading out the door. 

I realized that I wanted to make the transition a bit easier for the children this year. So, I've invited M (my former husband and their Daddy) to join us for a Christmas feast in the early afternoon. He's accepted and we plan to have a traditional family meal, a bit of playtime and perhaps a nap for the baby boy as we gather their things. Then they will head over to Daddy's house to continue the celebration with him. My therapist once told me that one of the greatest regrets that adult children of divorce have is the lack of memories or photos that contain their complete family unit. Yes, I plan to take a picture. It's interesting to me that I intended to do this last year, but was not emotionally in a place where I could.

After everyone is gone, I hope to have a few moments to clean up and savor the memories. Then I get to have a new experience - meeting the parents of the man in my life.

Merry Christmas to each who happens to read here.  I continue to believe that my own experience is best served by sharing with others.  My prayer is that my pain and learning is not wasted and so I share my journey with you.  It's the only gift I have and I'm blessed when you respond. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home Alone at Christmas - or Not

Several of my close friends are dealing with their first holiday season post separaton or divorce.  It is hard.  There is no way to avoid the changes and broken pieces of a family divided.  It's time to let go of the expectations for a perfect Christmas.  We can’t detour around this brokenness. The only way out is to walk right through. During the holidays the shroud of change can feel especially dark. It will take years before there is a new normal: years with new memories and people to share with. A long time from now, the way things used to be will feel like a lifetime ago. Pain will no longer tinge the sweetness of the memories. But the only way to get to that place is to trudge forward, create another way and new traditions now.

As a single parent, I feel a lot of pressure to "put on" the perfect holiday.  We don't want our children to miss anything because of our own relationship shortcomings.  It's easy to overindulge, overspend and overschedule.  For me, it is important to acknowledge that it just isn't going to be the way it was, but will still be a meaningful and memorable time.  Most importantly, have a plan!  Be flexible, but know what the day will be like. 

Take time to consider:
  • Will you be without your children Christmas morning?  It's natural to feel blue and lonely, but make a plan so it's not completely miserable.  Join another family, meet up with your relatives, volunteer somewhere.  Sleep in!
  • Will the children be leaving midway through the day?  Again, this can be a lonely point so make a plan!  Lots of theatres are open Christmas evening, go see a new release, gather with another friend or travel to visit someone you haven't seen in a while. 
  • Are you prepared? Be sure to have on hand all you need for stockings, meals and incidentals that may come up.  When you're the only adult, you have to think and plan ahead.  Get those gifts wrapped and don't stay up till 2 am Christmas morning doing last minute things.  You want to be rested and ready for the fun!
  • Do you need reinforcements?  This is a good time to call on grandparents, aunts uncles or other close family and friends to join you for the fun.  I always feel like more people make for more festive holidays.
  • Make the best of it! Whether your children are coming or going on Christmas Day, prioritize what is important to you.  Read the books, bake the cookies, eat the feast, hang the stockings.  Pass along the traditions you want your children to cherish. You can do this! 
Remember what you love about the season and focus on the joys.  It's alright if you have a meltdown as you adjust to this new way of doing things.  Perhaps you have been single for years and you've already reached the place of "New Normal" - lucky you!  Last year I struggled greatly with the disconnect between what was supposed to be and what actually happened in my life.  Acknowledging that was part of my healing journey, so let yourself grieve when necessary. 

Share with us if you have any fun tips, special traditions or exciting plans that will help make this Christmas a great one.  I'd love to know what you're dreading, too!  I'll admit that I just inadvertantly invited M's current girlfriend to join us for our Christmas lunch ... I don't know if I'm that much of a modern family!  She'll say no, right?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moody Monday

I can't complain too much this week because things feel generally great.  We've had a last minute change of plans, but I've got enough room in our schedule to work around it.  School is on break for the holiday and it was delightful to not have the morning rush-around getting three children dressed, fed, teeth brushed and out the door with all the appropriate gear for the day.  Seriously, wonderful!  I'm *almost* done with my Santa shopping and have had fun with some surprise gifts received and given. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Decisions of Divorce: Update on the Marital Home

My home is officially for sale.  I have a realator contracted, an MLS # and three showings to date.  I'm not happy about it, but I'm fulfilling my obligation and trusting that God will provide us a place when this one sells.

The children are concerned, especially my sweet firstborn.  He is questioning whether he will have his own room and feels that it will not be our home if and when we move.  His concerns are valid.  I worry about those things, too.

It has taken me a long time to come to the place where I could take this step.  I made every attempt to refinance, but those efforts did not go through and I am unwilling to spend more money going down an uncertain road.  I'm trusting that for reasons unknown to me, God has blocked the path for me to purchase this house on my own.  I can think of several worst-case scenarios where I will be glad to not be burdened by
the debt.

Intellectually, I know this is the right, required action.  Our home is the final joint legal tie that I have with ex-H and it will be good to clear that connection.  Additionally, home in our region are on the market for an average of 26 months, so it is unlikely that anything would happen quickly.  Emotionally, I'm sad to have a "For Sale" sign in the yard.  It feels a bit defeating that I wasn't able to refinance and I do not have a plan for when the home sells. 

The unknown is the most unsettling.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Magic is Christ

Creating Meaning

Along with the memories that you sculpt for your family, you are also transmitting meaning to your children and framing their worldview.  Make the most of this time to communicate the truth that God came to earth so we could know Him.  Work out ways to counter the consumerism that innundates our celebrations.  Provide ways to for your children to give.  Here are some of the ways I'm working to communicate the true meaning of the season.


  • Ask Another Question: What do you want to give?  I have been tryng to reframe the "What I want" statements with thoughts of giving.  Even dreaming of giving.  "If you had $100 to spend on someone else, what would you give them?"  This question has brought lots of fun and important responses. 
  • Give to Strangers: Each year we send shoe boxes for children the same ages as mine along with time spent learning about the needs.  There are wonderful 'catalogs' where you can choose chicks, water filtering systems, a goat and other larger items that would make a difference to a family.  This year we went in with others to purchase a goat!  We chose a name from our local angel tree and had fun shopping for a little boy and we rarely pass a Salvation Army bucket without contributing.  I keep cash on hand when we go out just for this purpose.
  • Hands-on Nativity: Along with our Christmas stories, I have the Fisher Price Little People Nativity.  I don't know how many years they will continue to enjoy it, but for now it's still fun to act out events.
  • Provide gifts for Daddy: I want my children to enjoy giving and to be generous, so I provide gifts for each to give their Daddy.  Ideas that are budget friendly include letting their inner artist decorate a blank canvas, baking a favorite dessert, decorating a t-shirt or a certificate/card for an activity they can do together like going to the movies, etc.  You are teaching them to give and giving your children the gift of loving both parents
  • Participate in your faith community: Being consistent and faithful at your church demonstrates the importance and priority of community.  The added layer of adult role models who are like-minded deepens the impact of the truth we hold to at Christmastime.  Christmas falls on a Sunday this year and I'm just thrilled for the chance to put down our gifts and join with others as we focus on the greatest gift of all time, Christ coming so we could know God.  I'm excited to sit together with my children.  I liked this post about "Why I Will Go to Church on Christmas."
I've seen and heard so many other great ideas that mark the meaning of the season.  Thiese are just some of what works for us.  I'd love to hear what works for you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Magic is YOU!

Every parent wants their children to enjoy a magical holiday season and Christmas day.  As mothers, we are often the keepers of tradition, we are the ones who establish the atmosphere in our homes and our children look to us as the measure of joy in their lives.  It's an enormous responsibility.
I know firsthand that you may not feel like bringing out decorations that inevitably bring back memories of a different kind of holiday.  End of the workday exhaustion may seem to trump a baking session or Christmas craft.  Like me, you may feel physically, emotionally or mentally drained.  Perhaps all three.  It's very likely that money is tight, maybe tighter than ever because of the additional expenses that arrive with December.  So, you and I must be intentional about providing a memorable and meaningful holiday season for our children. 
Mom, you have the ability to shape your child's experience through the memories they will carry forward.  You will frame the way they think of Christmas for the rest of their lives.  I'm not perfect at doing this, but my own mother pretty much was the queen of holidays.  From her, I learned the importance of creating memories and meaning.  I hope you'll think about ways you can do the same and share what you're loving this year.

Creating Memories
Your preschooler won't remember if your tree was real or artificial, but they will remember the glow of twinkling lights as you settle them down in the evenings.  At ages 3, 5, and 7 years, I was so surprised at the glee in which my children 'discovered' all the ornaments to decorate our tree.  The excitement was palpable!  Stories read year after year will become traditions they can pass onto their own families someday.  Christmas baking and seasonal songs, simple crafts, silly games and an advent calendar provide points of connection that will last long after the decor is packed away.  It does take extra effort, thought and energy, sometimes extra money, but these moments are investments into the fabric of our children's memories.  It is worth the added burden.  Here are some simple ways we create memories at our Little House:
I try to let the kiddos be very 'hands-on' when decorating our tree.
  • Lots of Lights: That's right, I get a little crazy with white lights on the mantle, in the kitchen, over the tv and all outside the house.  To me, nothing says "Christmas" like lights!  We add some color ones to our tree because for my children - they like the circus colors, so while it's not my preference, I happily comply.  I'm not decorating for a show, I'm decorating for them and so I try to be loose-handed about where the ornaments are hung and the obnoxious dancing snowman music player. 
  • December Advent Calendar: In the past we just opened a window each day leading up to Christmas, but last year we began with opening a window each day.  Sometimes there is a treasure with candy or a little Christmas toy.  I also try to include several activities like a Candy Cane Hunt or Building a Gingerbread House.  We rotate which child gets to open the window and do it before dinner each day.  We simply skip the days when the children are visiting at Daddy's (although they test those windows to see if anything was missed).
  • Christmas Books: Reading together is a regular part of our life and so we have a basket of holiday books that come out only during this time of year.  It's fun to revisit them and probably time to add a few more.
  • Caroling Together: I hear those tunes and instantly it's Christmas.  So connected are the songs with the season that it brings memories from my own home and childhood that I want to share.  My children love "Away in A Manager, " "Frosty the Snowman," and "Heark the Herald Angels Sing" best.  I play music as we prepare meals and we sing together before bedtime.
  • Celebrate Togetherness: It's a special treat for my children when we sit in front of our fireplace, all in jammies and enjoy fresh popcorn and hot cocoa.  It doesn't matter what you're doing, do it together and enjoy the company.
  • Cultural Experience: To young minds, seeing the Christmas story played out makes a big impact.  They will remember the events more if they can 'witness' Mary and Joseph in the stable, angels announcing Christ's birth and live animals in on the action.  In our area we have a spectacular Living Christmas Tree pageant, a Live Nativity and many churches have similar fanfare.  If you don't have access to these, The Nativity movie is also wonderful.  There are often community theatre productions of "A Christmas Carol" or "The Nutcracker."
Could there be a cuter duet of "Away in A Manger?"
How do you create memories during the holiday season?  Is it a struggle to be motivated for fun?  Is there anything we can do, as moms, to make this a greater priority in our days?  Have you tried something that was a complete flop?  If this season is a difficult one for you, remember why He came.
Friday I'll share the important ways we creat meaning in our celebration.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Perfectionists Demand Control

When I am in a more perfect mode, I notice how easily I am irritated when others don't behave the way I *think* they should.   Recently I received the following in my inbox which helped to remind me that there is no freedom when living with a control-freak.  I've been on the other end of things and I do not want my children to feel manipulated by me for any reason.  Maybe these tips will help you, too! 

From Kirk Martin - Celebrate Calm:
Why do you need your child to be happy or in a good mood?
Just so you don't think I'm being a jerk, I used to do this all the time with my wife. If she didn't respond "the right way" or the way I needed in the morning, I'd ask her, "What's wrong? Can I do something to help you?" Was I really interested in helping her? Not really. I wanted to CHANGE her mood...so that I could be in a good mood. I was dependent on her acting a certain way.

If you try to control other people's behavior, it always leads to power struggles and frustration. Instead, we need to have this attitude:
  1. You are allowed to be moody and unhappy.
  2. Your mood does not determine my mood.
  3. I am not responsible for your happiness or your mood. You are.
  4. I am responsible for my own mood. The most effective way to change my child's behavior is to control my own.
  5. If you need help because something is bothering you, I'd be thrilled to help you (but I'm not going to change you).
Can you control your own anxiety, lecturing, perfectionism? If not, this will rob you of peace, joy and healthy relationships.
---
Expectations run rampant during this holiday season, so guard any preconceived ideas about how you want others to behave and accept them just for whom they are - especially our own precious children.  May they always feel free to be themselves!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holidays Without the Children

My first 'big' holiday without the children was Christmas last year - and it was a doozey.  I guess my theory was to take the gut punch first and it could only get better.  It has gotten better.  This year I've enjoyed Easter, July 4 and Labor Day with my threesome.  Plus I've been looking forward to Christmas morning since December 25 last year. 
Last Thanksgiving was made up with a fun road trip where the children and I drove to be with family.  It was fast-paced, loud, adventuresome and so memorable.  I've been with my parents and sister's family for most of the Thanksgivings in my life and love passing the traditions along to my own crew.  So this year didn't quite feel like Thanksgiving, even though it was a lovely day, including gourmet food, family and football.  Isn't it amazing how we resist change?

If you find you are having a holiday away from your children, there are some things that will help:
  • Setup a time to speak with your children. Whether it's a whole weekend away or just one day, both children and parents feel more connected when they know they will touch base throughout the absence. 
  • Make the effort to celebrate together - even at a different time than normal. Put up decorations, bake the cookies, write a letter to Santa, create a "Thankful Tree."  Holidays are seasons of celebration, not just a one-time event.
  • Keep the traditions. If you won't be waking up to open stockings on Christmas morning, hang them anyway, fill them for when they do come home and be sure they know "Santa was here, too!"  Open the advent calendar (even if you miss some days because of visitation), read the Christmas stories, bake and make presents for teachers.  Most traditions are not date-specific and can be done during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • Stay connected to family and friends. It's easy to withdraw and isolate when you're feeling discouraged and down.  During the holidays, so much is happening that others may not notice when you are no longer showing up.  So take the initiative to stay engaged, attend work parties, church functions or remain active in the gym.  Whatever gets you up and out and interacting with others is good for your well-being.
  • Bring the party home.  Make your house a holiday extravaganza and decorate as much as you can!  Strings of white lights are inexpensive and make everything look festive.  Then invite some friends over or host a play date.  Make memories in your own space so that you can enjoy the season on your turf.  I like to invite some friends over for a sweet & savory evening and have no problem asking everyone to bring something.  It keeps the expense down for me, but provides a space for connection.  Try it!
  • Stay focused on the bigger picture.  Holidays are important and memories are made during this time, but real life happens day to day.  It's important to remember that the values you instill throughout the year are more important than the seasonal celebration. 
  • Avoid the competition trap.  If it's your year to spend the holiday alone, do not overcompensate with gifts you cannot afford or activities that offer more stress than pleasure.  Let your children's other parent be the hero and bear the financial brunt.  It's okay to have a 'lesser' gift when your children know they have you.
Holidays are bound to be emotionally charged.  Too many memories and traditions are wrapped up in them along with expectations and images of 'perfection.'  It's time to forge a new normal and let go of the stress.  Soon I'll share what I wish I'd done differently last year and some changes I plan for this year.  Please share with me, too.  Do you include your children's father in the Christmas celebration?  Do you help them buy a present?  Any hints are appreciated as I'm only on my second holiday season post-separation.  Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moody Monday!

My therapist actually had to give me
a feelings chart to help me identify
the way I felt because I had stuffed
my own feelings for so long. 
Not anymore - I let it all out!
Actually, Mondays are usually pretty good days for me. I like the 'fresh start' of a new week and the chance to begin again.  But, in truth Mondays mornings arrive early and the cycle of responsibilities begins in full force. Sometimes, it is just a bit overwhelming to know the whole week looms ahead with deadlines, homework, carpools, activity schedules and trying to manage healthy meals, play and character-building in between.  Yeah, Mondays can be a real challenge.  Please tell me I'm not alone?

I think I'll make Moody Mondays a weekly challenge - what's making me moody and how am I going to overcome that temptation to wallow?  Will you join me?  Please share in the comments - I'll start!

Missy - Today I'm moody because the weather is dreary and the Christmas lights that I worked so hard to hang are not properly functioning.  I have to reconfigure the electrical setup to get it right, and I have to do it in the rain!  My overcoming plan: Enjoy warm snuggles and dinner with my children and work on the lights peace after they go to bed.

What's your mood?  What's your plan?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So Much!

I have so much for which to be thankful!  I am most aware of internal things this year: hope, love, connection, peace, security, stability, laughter. MY life has it's share of challenges.  I have been disappointed and have lost much.  I have experienced seasons of dispair and seasons of devastation.  Yet today I find myself in a season of hope, security and peace.  Perhaps that's one of the things for which we can be most grateful, seasons do change.  The way I feel today, is not how I will feel forever. Dispair gives way to decision and to hope.

I am so grateful to be a mother.  I can't imagine my life without the fun, purpose and motivation that children give me.  Yes, there are days where it is just tough but I wouldn't trade having three little lives for anything thing in this whole world. My firstborn has taught me to love and accept others and to love whole-heartedly. My baby shows me how to be tender, tough and oh-so-fun fun all wrapped up in one package.  My daughter expresses herself so truthfully and inspires me to be the best woman possible.

This year I am especially aware and thankful for my friendships.  I made the effort to reach out and to be intentional about investing in friendships and it has been extremely rewarding!  I thank God for providing people to share my life.  I'm also thankful for the man in my life.  I am so surprised and thrilled to find myself with someone I admire and trust.  I know this is a gift and there are so many ways where I see God has gently cleared the path for me to know and be with him.  The wonder of it is just amazing to me.  It's humbling and more than I knew to request.

My family is an ever-constant source of support and strength.  We take the good and the bad and keep sticking together.  While I wish very much that we all lived closer together, I'm so grateful for modern technology to keep in touch.  Hardly a day goes by that I don't communicate with my family.  We don't get to choose family, but if I could, I would still choose them!

Everything isn't great in my life today.  My house will have a "For Sale" sign on Monday and I'm not sure what the ramifications are for that.  There has been tension between my former spouse and the holidays will always highlight the schism between what I desired and the reality of our lives.  Yet, the plusses far outweigh the negatives in my life and I'm so aware of the many gifts God has provided.  I pray others have the same sense of His care this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Not Going To Be The Same


Along with divorce comes change to all the family traditions.  The holidays hightlight that change because we have such emotional investments in the memories, repitition and quite frankly expectations that are higher than they should be.  Last year was my first season as a divorced woman and Thanksgiving was great as we traveled to be with family.  It was filled memories and fun along with lots of togetherness for me and my children.  The time leading up to Christmas was extremely difficult and Christmas morning without your children can only be described as dismal.

So, in my second holiday season of my new life, the holidays are flip-flopped and the children will be with Daddy for Thanksgiving and with me on Christmas morning.  Once again, I will try a new way of doing things.  My parents are great, and so supportive and will be here to spend Thanksgiving with me.  It will be a child-free day but knowing the children return on Friday morning means I won't feel too deprived. 

This year I am so very aware and thankful for my faith.  My confidence in the Lord is not something I could have conjured up, it is clearly a gift from Himself that I am able to trust and move forward when from human perspective all is lost, broken and failed.  I feel like I'm more aware than ever that doubt is not a negative thing because it actaully forces and requires me to act and accept faith. If my path and answers were clear, no faith would be required to act.  So, when I don't understand, when I am full of questions, when life simply does not make sense or seem to be part of a plan that could honor God, these are times when I must activate the faith he placed within and move forward in action knowing things are not what they seem. 

Ah, so much more to write on this subject which is close to my heart right now. Also, more thankfulnesses to write.  Tomorrow I'll share about the material things for which I am most grateful right now!  What about you?  What spiritual or God-attributes cause you to pause and thank Him today?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Between

When marriage ends, it is easy to feel like you've fallen through the cracks into a vague pseudo-life that is nothing like what you once knew or imagined.  Just like that mysterious time when the sun has gone down, but it isn't yet dark, it is hard to define so much of this season.  Twilight.  It's mysterious and darkening, but also leads to renewal.

What has helped me is to embrace this time as a chance to revisit my dreams, hopes and goals.  I always knew I would be a mother, and that hasn't been taken from me.  Many years ago I chose to serve Christ and the church, and those are not things from which I have been excluded.  There are friendships I have let slide, but being an intentional friend is high on my list of priorities.  I abandoned family to try and save my marriage and now there is time to nurture these bonds, too.

I am still me.  More than ever I know what I want and need to be content, joyful and fulfilled.  Having this knowledge is priceless in the quest for determining my future path.  I am no longer a wife.  But that  is only one definition of myself that is changed.  I am still mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and Christ follower.  More personally, I am still a bit romantic, strangely optimistic, creative, a bit predictable, a lover of schedules and order and of course, recovering perfectionist with an idealistic nature.

The absence of a husband and the very real, though honorable obligations involved in that role have freed me to choose what gets more of me.  I do more reading and writing.  I reach out more intentionally to my friends.  I take better care of my health and physical body.  Because I know there is no one else looking out for me, I give myself permission to take care of myself

Have you found any surprising discoveries in a challenging season?  What can you do to take care of YOU today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Audience Above

Since it is my nature to please people, I have lived for the validation and approval of others.  I've let the opinion of someone else define me in the past.  Today, I can say that is no longer true.  It has been a great release to know that my goal is to please God alone.  There is great freedom in releasing the outcomes of others' opinions to what He allows through the filter of His care.

Also, it takes all the self-effort and manipulation out of getting my own way.  Truly I can rest knowing that God has it all under His control and will show me the way to go.  Whew - what a load off my shoulders!  Yes, I often take up the load bit by bit and once again need to relinquish it.  I suppose for someone like me it will be a lifelong process of achieving a balance.  But I'm changed.  Really and trully I've let go of the control which I imagined to have in the first place.

It feels very safe to trust God to open and close doors and protect me when I need it.  I have determined not to choose any human opinion over His again...it's a challenge for me indeed, but I'm striving to fulfill that promise to myself and to God.  

I would love to hear how you are letting something go right now?  Is it hard?  Have you reached the place where struggle gives way to release?  Is there anything you're holding tightly still?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Few Updates

I've been busier than usual with life and so blogging has fallen a bit by the wayside.  I do hope to catch up!  Some things I've mentioned before continue to be issues I deal with, so here is a brief update:

Decisions of Divorce - the marital home: I turned in all the paperwork, paid for the fees and the appraisal and was scheduled to close on refinancing the home into my name at the end of August.  There were some delays.  Then an ammendment was requested.  My former spouse did obtain an ammendment to our decree, but now the appraisal is no longer valid (90 days) and my credit situation is somewhat changed.  I'm waiting to hear back from the mortgage company, but I think this is a dead issue ... which means that I will need to list our home for sale.  Oh. my. word.

Relationship Status: At just the right moment, when I found myself in an emotional place where I admitted my desire to be with a man, I was introduced to one.  It's very interesting how the timing worked out and that first blind date has turned into a second, third and many more!  I think it is safe to say that I'm in a relationship now.  But trust me, I feel way too junior-high-ish to update that status on Facebook.  Anyone who knows me in real life knows where I stand and that's what matters.

Work Around the Little House: There are still lots of tasks to accomplish around our house.  The icemaker leaks and I've just disconnected the water line.  The sink leaks, so I have a bucket underneath.  The roof, siding and gutters are done and I was able to prep the yard/gardens for winter.  I still need to plant spring bulbs and spruce up the front porch.  It's hard to believe it will be time for holiday decorating soon!

The Big, Bad Mama: Things are bit better in the parenting department.  It has taken us a while to find our stride with the school schedule, two sets of homework, etc.  I have sought some outside behavioral counsel and put into effect along with more structured goals in school.  Things are far from perfect, but we are having more good days than bad and I feel like we are all on the same 'team.'

Still in the Single Moms Class: Even though this has never quite felt like the perfect fit, I'm still attending the single mothers class each Sunday.  I do find some comradarie, and the few who are dependable are there for a reason.  It's harder to be dedicated in this demographic and I want to be part of the solution and not the stereo-type.  Recently we've given money to provide a goat through Samaritan's Purse and have plans for a holiday party with just the mothers and children.  I've decided to stay throughout the year and then evaluate where we are next summer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Always Negotiating

Once the legal action is final and the decree is stamped by a judge, the ongoing negotiations between two former spouses do not end.  Whether it is the schedule for children, ongoing financial concerns, or even just when he's coming to get that last piece of furniture, there are times when each of us needs something from the other.  For so long, I was afraid to ask for what I needed that I still find myself falling into the pattern of simply letting my ex have his way.  It is emotionally easier not to confront, but then I find myself feeling taken advantage of, resenting or simply feeling used.

Through practice and clear thinking, I have learned that it alright to insist on having a say in matters of schedule and that requiring him to commit helps not only me but my children have a consistent and predictable life.  A few thoughts are:
  • Plan ahead as much as possible.
  • Communicate the plan.  Use email, Google calendars, whatever works to put ongoing items in front of both you and your spouse.
  • Do not feel obligated to remind or hound him about what is on the schedule.  Allow him to take ownership and establish the expectation that he will follow-through with commitments.
  • Use face-to-face time to confirm verbally.
  • Be ready to be flexible, but not a push-over.  He will have last minute interruptions or special events that necessitate change.  It can be frustrating, but you will have time where you desire flexibility, too.  The give and take continues as long as children are involved.
The irony of divorce is that it takes so very long to untangle lives that were intended to remain together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Year Later

It's been one year since my marriage officially ended.  On this day last year, I went before a judge and swore that I wanted the marriage to end.  That was a difficult thing to do, a hard thing to admit. Then I went to the mountains alone and journaled.  I removed things from my home that felt like lies: cards, notes, even some photos.  And I packed up all the wedding memories in a plastic tote to preserve for the children someday.  Those tasks were a bit loaded with emotion, but as I purged my space I also purged my heart.  The day of my divorce was the day I stopped living in the past, repeating the same patterns and began looking for a different future.  It was the most uncertain thing I have ever done in my whole entire life.  

Today, I feel thankfulness for the ways God has been faithful.  Every time I was at the end of my rope, He provided or made a way through the difficulty.  He has given me hope for a future, joy in the present and purpose all around me.  When you are feeling at your worst, never forget that feeling will change.  We never know what amazing gifts are ready to be dropped in our lap at just the right time.  Today I am at peace.




Friday, October 21, 2011

Trusting myself is a challenge.  I feel like I generously and naively placed trust into the hands of someone who very much abused that confidence.  Because of this, I second-guess myself so much.  I have a hard time making decisions and fear that what I perceive isn't really the way things are.  It's a mind-game that is hard to overcome and often leaves me seeking the reassurance or validation of others.

One thing that keeps me sane, is to continually place all my uncertainties before the Lord.  I often just admit my confusion, my lack of knowledge and ask him to make my path clear.  When the path remains unclear, I am learning to step out in any direction trusting Him to redirect when necessary. 

All year I've been studying wisdom.  Seeking that trait in the Bible and reading from Proverbs almost daily.  There are few rules for gaining it, but many general themes and principles.  It is not something to be obtained, but it is a life pattern of seeking and waiting, choosing the best over the good and allowing God to direct. 

I find comfort in knowing His plan is not mysterious and is full of freedom.  In knowing this about God, there is less pressure.  I can move forward in a general direction without knowing the complete path.  My faith is stretched and grown in this way.  It's hard, but exciting and I'm thankful.

Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

Monday, October 10, 2011

A First Date

Life just got a bit more interesting.

From out of the blue, I was approached by a friend who asked if he could give my number to another friend. That’s right: first date after divorce, first blind date ever.

I felt safe because I trusted the person who recommended his friend. When the man called, we talked for a half hour or so and the conversation flowed without too much strain. We agreed to meet at a public place and I had a limited window of time. He was recently divorced as well, so I knew we had the commraderie of shared experience.

So how did it go? He called the same day to ask me on a ‘real’ date, so I think we were successful. There were awkward moments at the start. Are we supposed to shake hands? He was tall and clean cut which I find attractive. We didn’t have any trouble talking together and was kind to the waitress and others. I confess to feeling a bit intoxicated by the attention!  I may or may not have a full blown mid-life crush going on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Heartfire

I once thought that if I did the ‘right’ things and made what I deemed to be the best choices – that life would be rosy and joyful. I would be loved and live peacefully with others having nary a care in the world except how to best exude the proper way to live as clearly evidenced from my esteemed pedestal. Yes, pride has been one of my besetting sins and God has given me ample opportunities to be humbled. Early, I learned that isn’t exactly the way things worked. I adjusted my perspective and a bit of the sheen from my life dream dimmed a bit. My glow waned even more when people I loved disappointed me. It almost disappeared when my efforts didn’t produce results that I desired.

I feel like that glow is now just a fragile, flickering candle that is easily squashed. As a single mother, I have many opportunities to pour out, but there is little that is being poured into me. The truth is, I often feel empty and then falter in being the best for those who depend on me. I need to learn how to let our Lord fill my tank, to take good care of myself and not look for others to do it.

Being tired and just a bit discouraged is part of this life sometimes. One of the most helpful things someone has said to me is that I won’t feel the way I do now forever. I’m working on that now. Soon my little light will ignite into a more steady flame. I look forward to the days of burning brightly once again!

Update: After a fantastic night with fun friends, my cup is fuller.  Coparenting is challenging, but it also gives me a bit of time to do things that make me happy.  I'm feeling full of joy and looking forward to when my children arrive back home!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Work Around the Little House

My home is relatively modern, just 13 years old, but recently there seem to be lots of things which need repair. There was storm damage with roof, siding and gutter repair. The pesky front door has had trouble latching since we moved in seven years ago, but it’s getting worse. The back sliding screen door sticks terribly, the outside could use a good cleaning and so could the inside, for that matter. There is a chronic leak under the kitchen sink and one of my children with fastidious personal hygiene repeatedly clogs the commode. The water line to our ice maker began leaking almost a year ago and despite many attempts, I’ve been unable to seal the leak.


It gets so frustrating when basic things we take for granted are not functioning properly. It irritates me every time, yet I can’t just call a handyman and fix whatever needs fixing. I have to be savvy, resourceful and learn to work with the hang-ups. Today, when something breaks, my first instinct is to try fixing it myself instead of asking for help. I’ve installed curtains, fixed a garbage disposal, repaired dry-wall and worked with electronic connections that I never imagined I would need to hook up myself. I had to oversee the contract work for the roof, siding and gutter repairs and I’ve had to learn a whole set of skills I had never used before.

I look forward to the day when I have enough in the bank to call in reinforcements, but till then, I do find satisfaction when I accomplish something new. Have you stepped up to make a repair or take care of something formerly out of your realm?  Share your handy-woman tricks, please!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Injury Eraser

source: http://pinterest.com/pin/187712581/
After a tumble on his bike, we applied a bandaid, loved away the minor pains and hopped back on the bike to enjoy more afternoon fun.  Randomly, my son said, "Mommy, wouldn't it be cool if there was an eraser to erase all the boo boos?" 

Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/186629133/

"Oh yes, I do.  That would be wonderful," was my reply.  He quickly moved on to other priority topics like legos, Star Wars and which swing is the best on the playground.  My mind remained on the simplistic thought of an injury eraser. 

The visual image was enticing: a wound vanishing along with the woundedness that accompanies it.  I don't want to be one of the walking wounded in this life.  My desire is to be whole, healthy fully complete. 

I feel like I'm giving my injuries time to heal, but I can't help the nagging feeling that I'm supposed to be doing something.  I'm an 'action-steps' sort girl and I wish there was a plan of action that automatically resulted in the things I desire: financial freedom, fulfilling parenting and career path, social events to attend but enough solituee interspersed for my melancholy nature to muse a bit.  Am I asking too much?  This single adult life still feels a bit akward and I wish for a tangile role model or mentor.

How do you heal in the midst of real life?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not Perfect, Better!


source
One of the struggles of a recovering perfectionist (like myself) is that it feels like failure unless you get it perfect the first time.  Oh, yes, sometimes I fail to even try because I know it won’t work exactly the way I see the perfect vision in my mind.  Anyone else with this neurosis?  Please share.  Sometimes it can be very debilitating and I sabbotage myself by never starting, not trying or avoiding areas that could benefit from focus.
  • If I can’t fold every load of laundry, I don’t start one.
  • When I don’t have time to walk the complete path, I don’t walk at all.
  • I won’t have time to cut all the coupons, so I toss the whole lot.
  • My children won’t sit still for an entire chapter, so I don’t even start.

Do you see the faulty logic that leads to no results?  The end  is that the very things which need the most attention wind up being avoided and the problems compound.  There were two loads of laundry, now five (it adds up so fast doesn’t it?).  Weeks go by without exercise.  I miss out on saving some because I can’t save all I want.  Too many days slip by without reading aloud to the children.  These are just examples, but they can be applied to almost every situation.
  • Late for church?  Maybe I’ll just skip it this week.
  • No time to get in a full workout?  I’ll watch tv instead.
  • Can’t get a hold of the friend I wanted to talk with?  Don’t call another, just feed the loneliness with ice cream. 
  • Unable to give a large gift?  Don’t give anything, or worse yet - avoid the party all together.

No more.  The exact thing which you and I feel we cannot perfect is the very thing that will benefit from doing something.  The key is to start, to move the situation from bad to better … maybe not perfect, but better!  Things will not be perfect, life isn’t mean to be.  But certainly we can make progress.  The action of nothing actually creates decline so do what you can and let that be enough. 
Do you see how perfectionism hurts you and me?  I’m going to step right out and decide that the very things on my eternal ‘to-do’ list will get at least one step taken right now.  Soon these to do’s will be done!  Tonight it starts with a long walk and work on a birthday scrapbook.  Oh, and there are two loads of laundry ready to fold, I’ll at least get started!  What can you do right now to make something better, not necessarily perfect?
The paralyzing standard of perfection will halt any of my dreams.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blast From the Past

Recently I got together with a friend that I haven’t seen since my college days. She knew me best in the fun and carefree college days and watched as M and I dated became engaged then broke up. Then I transferred schools, she got married and we lost touch until the Face Book days when it became easy to find friends from our history. It worked out that she was in our area and I got to meet up with her and her family for lunch. It was totally fun to remember all our shenanigans of early college life. We were so trustingly na├»ve and even our ‘trouble’ was quite innocent.
source: Pinterest

I was reminded of the carefree days when I was pretty hopelessly romantic. While I can’t take back the choices of my youth, I have learned from them. I’m more clear with what I need and have learned that it is okay to have expectations in a relationship. I was so unwise to look past the rather blatant (in hindsight) flaws of character and basic incompatibilities. I believe I’m wise and strong enough to expect more in the future.

My friend reminded me of so much more from that fun season. She has always been such an authentic person and it was so refreshing to see that had not changed a bit. She is as real and easy to read as ever and I admire her all the more for it! While my past holds many things I would choose not to repeat, I did make some amazing friends along the way.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Relationship Status

When our divorce was final almost a year ago, I decided I would not consider dating for a complete year.  It has been my way of honoring the commitment I had to my marriage, providing time to grieve and to heal.  Honestly, I didn't have any desire to be around men. 

Oh, that it were this easy!
Photo Credit: mycreativestirrings.com
My disdain for the gender has waned, though, and I now I think the idea of a male companion sounds sort of wonderful.  It still feels a bit scandalous to admit that and I can't imagine it actually happening.  Right now, I'm simply open to the possibility.  The reality of meeting someone seems like a great mystery to me!  How have you discovered companionship?  Please share your secret.

More than ever, I'm convinced relationships are the richness of life.  Naturally introverted, I make the dedicated effort to nurture relationships.  Am I missing anything? 
  • I schedule monthly dinner out with friends.
  • I actively participate in church small groups.
  • I get out into my neighborhood and look for ways to connect.
  • I invite people into my home whenever possible. 
Because I feel like I 'lost' myself in my marriage, I'm working even now to have a good relationship with myself.  I'm working to accept the challenges of my age and stage of life.  My body isn't that of my twenty-something self, but it's not awful either and I'm blessed with good health.  I am working on eliminating negative internal chatter about my shortcomings.  I give myself permission and time to work on me, what I love and what helps me feel good about myself.  I am taking good care of what I've got with regular health, dental and salon visits.  Yes, the salon often gets pushed to the bottom of my list, but it's on the calendar now.  I will not let false guilt steal my joy.

I shared how I'm working to improve my relationship with my children - it's an ongoing, ever-changing dynamic.  All realtionships are, when I think about it.  I feel good about my relationship with my parents and extended family.  I only wish we could be together more.  The main thing for me is to stay involved and engaged.   What about you?  Do you think online relationships count?

Monday, September 12, 2011

I used to be a Career Woman

Long ago and even quite far away, I graduated college with a full time job waiting and entered the world of working women.  I felt nothing but optimism as my life began with a fun career in my field of study and lots of rapid advancement.  Soon I married and began to hope for a family and to that end determined to orient my life around my spouse as provider and myself as home manager.  When we relocated south, I took a part time job to make ends meet, but not part of a career path.  When the babies did arrive, I backed off even more and began working just a bit to make some wiggle room in the family budget.  While my employer has graciously increased my hours, I'm still at that same job.  There is no path for advancement and I'm not sure what steps to consider for my future.

I'm very thankful for the job that I have.  Because I've been there 6+ years, I have a degree of flexibility which is a huge blessing.  But I don't want to do this for the rest of my life.  There is no opportunity to increase my income and I would prefer to work with people more than I do now.  In two years my youngest will begin kindergarten and that means that increasing my work load will no longer increase my childcare costs.

I don't even know where to begin thinking about entering a career path again.  I've been out of my field of study for so long, and with the rise of the internet and social marketing, I'm not sure I could compete any longer!  I have few connections to my former life and am limited by location.  So what's a girl to do?

This is what I'm thinking about:

  1. Share with my friends about my need to become more career-minded.  I can think of a couple who work in Marketing and PR that may be helpful should I re-enter that field.  
  2. Network more.  I guess I need to put myself 'out there' and expose myself to others who could help me one day.
  3. Do I need more education?  Should I speak with a career coach?  That all seems so far-fetched?
I feel pretty stumped in this department.  Does anyone have experience with a midlife career change?  Does anyone have recommendations for a flexible career with good income potential that is 'Mommy-friendly?'  Do share!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paychecks and Bills and Payments, Oh My!

It seems one of the implied definitions of single mother is “broke” and while that is mostly true, I have found some benefits of being the Head of this household financially. First, there is no miscommunication about where and when money is spent. I never have to wonder what is in the bank or get that question mark in my mind when I review statements. I have no one to blame but myself when I mismanage money or plan poorly, so that is plenty of motivation to behave financially. In addition, I have no excuse for selfishness and no one to blame when there isn’t enough to donate. Yes, I could rationalize that we’re living well below average, anyway, and ‘should’ keep the funds in-house. But the truth is, I don’t want that attitude of hoarding and doom. We live well above much of the world with our modern appliances and air conditioned suburban life. Our first-world problems are small when compared to the struggles many face.
At our house, I set the tone of “Enough” with statements that imply we have plenty and God provides for all our needs. I never want my little ones to feel insecure about their basic needs, but to be aware that they do not get everything they want or at the time they want it. Often when a child has a request, I state that “I’m not choosing to spend my money on that today.” Or “Did you bring your money?” My children don’t earn an allowance for basic help around the house like making beds, clearing the table or picking up toys. The older two do have a chance to earn extra with bonus jobs. So far one is more of a giver and one more a saver. They know that I work so we can have a home and food, and do some of the fun stuff in life, too! They heard me talk about saving for vacation and know that we plan for larger purchases or expenses.

Personal &a Household Financial Goals

- Fully tithe on my income: It is my privilege as a single woman to make the statement of trust to tithe each month. Trust that God will supply, that the church will support us if needed, that obedience positions me for blessing. It is not always easy, but this sacrificial choice keeps my own priorities in line rather than selfishly spending on us or hoarding for just in case. I’m not sure of what is right about tithing on child support income, but I’ll share my thoughts soon.

- Complete house repairs: Insurance paid for recent storm repairs but I need to get ice maker working, kitchen sink to stop leaking and now the children’s bathroom functional. Why? My darling baby child dropped a small flashlight down. And flushed. It’s still glowing.

- Get completely debt free and establish savings:  I've been debt free for brief moments, but something seems to throw me back into bondage again.  I'm making it a priority to have some emergency backup.  I listen to Dave Ramsey in the background at work which helps me stay motivated. My emergency fund will likely never be “fully funded” according to his definition (it would mathematically take me eight years!) and I’m okay with that. It’s still important for me to have a backup account in case. In the short term, I’ve got to start saving now for Christmas!


- Train the Children: Provide more chances for my children to earn and then save, spend, and give their own money. I may consider helping them sponsor a child to increase their awareness of how well we live and continue to instill my philosophy that we “Gather to Give” not to hoard.

- Increase Income: The bottom line is that we live well below the national average for a family of four. To accomplish the standard of living and giving that I want, I truly need to increase my income. In two years, my childcare costs will decrease but until then I’m looking for ways to earn money from home or in non-traditional ways. I’m seriously considering putting my name out there as a speaker. It worked for my mother for many years.

Finances are a topic often avoided and certainly frustrating for most of us. The responsibility of managing income, outgo and the deficit falls squarely on our shoulders and the anxiety of it can keep me up night after night. God has chosen to provide for us in ways I would not have dreamed. Sometimes, He inspires a friend to send a grocery gift card out of the blue which makes ends meet so much easier. One time I won a free oil change on a website! Most of the time God provides by giving me health and the ability to work hard, a considerate employer and flexible job, the ability to shop well and find great deals, the wisdom to distinguish between wants and needs along with patience to wait for the wants.

So, what do you splurge on? What inspires you to save? Have you done any radical giving? I’m going to talk more about this soon, so I’d love to hear thoughts from moms everywhere. I don’t doubt for one instant that it’s just the single mamas who deal with financial decisions daily!


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Big, Bad Mama

Sigh.  I feel like I yell too much.  I get disrespected with inconsistent obedience.  My home has been the scene of frustrating walk-offs and glares across the kitchen.  We have times of calm and lots of fun, but what concerns me is the seeming lack of respect for mom.  Rarely does obedience happen the first time.  Often the competition among siblings escalates to shouting matches or bullying.  One of my children is so loud and stubborn that the standoff drains every bit of resolve and patience from my soul.  Sometimes, I scream, glare and bully back. Sometimes I give up and walk away. These are not my proud moments.

When I think about it, there are many more moments of affection and joy, but the times when I am blatantly disobeyed and disrespected steal my joy and rattle my confidence.  The moments of turbulence stand out and are too many to be ignored.  Just like in my marriage I accepted less than stellar treatment, I've accepting it from my children.  I see the pattern, but I don't know how to 'fix' it and have been feeling so discouraged in this department.

When I know a problem exists and I'm at the end of my own ropes for the remedy, then it's time to look outside myself.  I've read so many parenting books and we are beyond that point.  Here's my action plan, all of which to take place in the next month:

  1. Speak with counselor - a children's counselor and discuss methods for training children.
  2. Visit pediatrician - at lease one of my children need to be evaluated for ADHD.
  3. Commit to keeping calm - I've verbalized to my children this week that I will not be raising my voice - AT ALL - and their loud demands will not get my attention.  Not much success yet, but it's still Monday, right?
  4. Wake early to pray specifically for wisdom in parenting and the needs of each child.
  5. Share with others - it helps to know I'm not the only one falling short of perfection.  Last week a friend breathed hope and acceptance into my weary mother's heart with her transparency.  I appreciated it so much and swear her children are all angels!  
  6. Self Care - I say it a lot, but I don't practice it as often as I should.  When I'm frazzled and anxious I respond negatively and harshly to the normal needs of my children.  Taking time for me lets me be in a better place to meet the needs of my little ones.  
  7. Consistency - it's hard to be steady day after day, but from all I've read it's crucial.  Daddy is out of town and the children will be with me for the majority of the month, so we're going to practice new patterns and habits of interacting.  
I'm in the trenches of motherhood and no matter what else happens in my life, these three are my top priority. I have one child who claims not to like school and cries many mornings at dropoff and another who is struggling there with behavior issues.  The one who isn't in full time school is delightfully charming to others yet willfully disobeys or ignores instructions from me.  We are past the age-appropriate misbehaviors and dealing with something more.  My goal is to get a handle on it before these become lifelong choices and patters.  The 'work' I do now is going to set the stage for how we interact when they are 13, 15 and 17 - Oh Lord, help me!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comeback Choices

Do you need a comeback?  I do, and I love a comeback story!  For me, life waas trucking along fairly predictably, much the way I dreamed and imagined when I was blindsided by demise of our marriage.  The setback was deep and I feel like for more than three years I've sort of been waiting for a new vision of my life.  I have no idea how it will turn out, but I'm ready to stage my own comeback, stepping out and taking a risk in order to move forward - really just to at least MOVE.  I don't want to feel stuck forever!

So, here's where I feel stuck:
  1. Motherhood
  2. Finances
  3. Career
  4. Relationships
Okay, pretty much every area seems to need a bit of overhaul and the truth is, I'm a bit stumped as to how to move forward.  I'm going to hash out each of these areas in journal-like fashion here this week and I'm really hoping for feedback.  I feel like I need a mentor or coach of sorts to help me along.  I don't want my journey to stall and feel like I am in a place where I have the emotional space to tackle these issues.

Also, to any fellow bloggers - where do you get the great conceptual images?  So far, I just use most of my own photography because I don't know all the rules of usage. 

What's everyone up to this bright Monday?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Overshare Much?



Our culture offers so many opportunities to talk - about how we feel, what we're doing, who did what to whom and how I feel about that.  We can add little faces and emoticons to further describe our thoughts.  Oh it's so validating when others respond, "like" or comment!

  •  

  • When dealing with separation, divorce and co-parenting I was tempted to share 'out there' in order to somehow justify my feelings and seek support for my viewpoint.  I'm so glad I kept a low profile, it would have been so easy to let it all out there!  As it was I regret that so many knew so much - that was even with trying to be discreet.

    Bad-mouthing your ex can feel pretty good when you are angry and in pain.  Still, it isn't often helpful or productive and this is the time to enact some healthy boundaries for yourself. 

    Do Not:
    • Post on Facebook about specific frustrations - what goes around comes around and it will surely not help the relationship you still have with your ex.
    • Unload repeatedly on the same [perhaps mutual] friends - they will think you are bitter and negative if the topic is complaining every time you get together.
    • Consider every interaction and child exchange to be the time to bring up grievances.  It can wait until you can talk alone or email about specifics.  Let go of the feeling that each time you see your former you are reliving the betrayal and rejection.  That is in the past, live in the present.
    Do:
    • Find a few safe, trusted people with whom you can vent and rant.  Then move on to better and more uplifting topics.
    • Keep it light on the internet and remember the permanence of your words.
    • Protect your children from feeling of mistrust because you do not feel the same way they do about their parent.  It is their right to idealize mom and dad and to point out faults will create distance between you and them.  Let your ex define his or her own relationship with the children...they will know the truth in time.
    • Prepare a few key phrases for when acquaintances ask how things are going, "We are well and learning to work with our new family time."  "There are challenges and working on them."  "Some days are tough, but most days are busy, fun and full - like all families." 
    I whole-heartedly endorse journaling, for letting out those thoughts that even I feel are a bit scandalous!  Sharing with trusted people helps so much, as does sharing with those who have traveled this path.  I think a support group would be beneficial.  If you really feel that you are having deep, lasting resentment, it may be time to visit a therapist or minister.  You need to get these feelings out, then you can fill the space with dreams of your future and positive plans for a better season.

    I can think of several times I've really just wanted to shout out my pain, and explain to everyone the intricacies of why our marriage failed.  I had a need to feel justified and wanted validation from others.  A key part of my recovery has been to acknowledge that I know the truth, I don't need others to pat me on the back and agree.  I know I have acted in line with my values and I don't owe others an explanation.  Sometimes I know there are people who judge me or don't understand and I'm okay with that now.  I've never regretted holding back, but there are things that I wish I didn't share.

    What is your experience with sharing?  Needing validation?  Facebook?  Talk around town?

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Life Happens & Updates

    Our life became very busy this month with the return to school schedules and a new childcare situation.  I no longer have the lunxury of a nanny/babysitter coming to our home, so it has been an adjustment for me to have all three children up, dressed and out the door by 7:15 am.  Our school began the first week of August, but one of my little ones has tears each morning, which breaks this mama's heart.  Any ideas?  Baby Boy seems to love going to the new sitter's house and is enjoying his new buddy of the same age.  Thank you, Lord, for that option right now.

    Update on the Marital Home: I submitted all paperwork for refinance around the time of our vacation.  Everything seemed on target to close at the end of this month until the underwriter raised a red flad.  According to him, I needed an ammendment to our divorce decree.  The quitclaim deed or a personal contract with my former spouse was not enough to permit refi rather than selling the home, nor was it enough that he was willing to come to closing and sign the switch.  It is frustrating, but I had decided up front not to 'push' this through to make it happen.  So, I told former H that he would have to take care of it if he wanted and then I would continue to pursue refinance.  If he chose not to, we would have to list the house.   I guess I'm still in limbo until something happens.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to lock on these low, low rates.

    Last week was an especially busy one for us, so I committed to getting in bed early, managing the household chores and keeping things smooth and calm for the children.  We all did well and I'm hoping this week goes even better.  Activities are firing up so our calendar is full.  How is everyone else doing?

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Good Things

    Psalm 84:11
    For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor;
    no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

    Oprah has her "Favorite Things" and so do I, but God has good things.  The two are not always synonymous...A large Sonic Coke with vanilla is one of my favorite things, but it isn't always good for me.  Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

    I know how it feels to think perhaps God has abandoned me - He certainly didn't heal or fix my marriage, the story of life that I authored didn't pan out and I know what it feels like to be angry about that. Still, I know He is God and I am not, He doesn't owe me an explanation of why He didn't work things out the way I wanted.

    It has helped me to know this: God does not withhold good from those who seek to do right or from the innocent. Everything I have learned for my entire life conditioned me to believe that my children were better off with an intact family - even if that family was very broken and dysfunctional. I no longer believe that. God is great enough to fill in the gaps where their father and I have failed and let them turn out in their personal best if they yield to Him. They are innocent of the mess and God will act on their behalf to shield, strengthen and empower them (AND ME!). When I am discouraged, when things don't go the way I want, I am choosing to believe that Go knew what I wanted wasn't good. He will not with hold good. So whatever He does give, is better and good.  Again, I don't always feel this way, but I choose to believe and live in this promise.

    Maybe this will help you, maybe it will make the present more bearable. Keep reaching out and remember things will not always be the way they are today. You will not always feel this way and circumstances will change.  Are there any good things in your life today that you would not have labeled that way before?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Cool Aunt Missy


    I am incredibly blessed to have three amazing nieces who are beginning school next week.  I was an aunt before I was a mother and it has always been my goal to be "Cool Aunt Missy."  I've lived up to that in varying degrees of reality, but still make the effort.  

    This year, Dayspring offered to let me review their Back to School line.  It is very cute and quite modern while still offering all the function needed by students.  My only daughter is just in kindergarten and so I'm sending the binders and folders to my dear nieces, since they were not on our supply list.  I hope that I earn more 'cool' points for this one!

    Please note, Dayspring has a 25% off sale happening right now.  They have so many charming items that I have to be cautious about overspending.  There is so much that I would love to have. 
    "I Know Where Love Comes From" line of school related products.
    
    Are you done with your back to school shopping?  Do you try to encourage your student throughout the days and remind them of their spiritual heritage?  Do share!  There are great options for boys, too.

    Note: I was not compensated but was given these products for review by Dayspring.  The opinions are fully my own and I really do love the products!