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Monday, May 30, 2011

Update on the Single Moms Class

Well, I've been going each week to the single mother's class at church.  It still feels weird.  There is little consistency among the participants and one week I was the only one there (besides teacher).  There are three other ladies that seem to be there semi-regularly, and this week I feel I've gotten to know them a bit better.  It still doesn't feel like a place where I'm ready to commit.

I'm beginning to think that this may simply be characteristic of this demographic: Challenging schedules, guarded hearts, unpredictable commitments.  But I don't want these to be characteristic of me.  So I'm questioing whether this is the right place for me.

Then I think of my 'regular' class.  There is a lot of inconsistency there, too, just not quite as noticeable because the class has more participants in general.  Maybe it is just characteristic of church in general - I don't like that.

Anyway, I'm still going to both classes, still not sure where I will eventually land.  But I do know I'm not ready to give up my previous class for the sake of the new one.  So, I'm giving myself time to keep considering.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Decisions of Divorce: The Marital Home

One of the most emotional decisions made through divorce is what to do with the marital home.  There are many legal, financial and practical issues that must be considered and there are many others with advice or resources about the issue.  This is simply my story, not to be taken as direction for others.  My desire was to stay in the home we had shared.  I'm so thankful my former spouse was willing to work with me on this, as we both felt it was helpful for our children to keep that consistency.

As I child, my family moved many times and it seemed like I flowed seamlessly from one house to the next.  I had the security of my parents and the consistency of routines that allowed me to quickly pick up and move forward.  Still, I think it did affect me more than I thought because as an adult, the thought of moving is enough to create a bit of panic.  So the thought of trying to move while going through divorce magnified that response and I did not want my children to have to adjust to a new home either.  They were already facing big changes in their family, more overnight visits and packed bags than anyone should have to deal with.  My great desire was for them to have the consistency and predictability of home.  For a year now, I have managed to provide that.

According to our decree, I was able to stay in the marital home and would sell or refinance in 2011.  You see, my spouse is still named on the house, still liable should I not pay and still affected by the debt load in his ability to borrow.  Also, he will earn a portion of the proceeds upon sale of the home.  It is in his best interest for me to move.  I truly appreciate his cooperation in working with me to stay in the home as long as I have. 

So, 2011 is almost halfway through, and I still haven't decided what to do. This is not my "Dream House," but it is the home where so many of my dreams have come true.  So here is what I'm weighing right now:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rebuilding After Disaster

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There are so many tragedies and the ability to digest everything we see from all over the world is too much.  Throughout the spring I've watched the news reports that show images of homes, neighborhoods, cities, countries devastated by events that are completely out of human control.  It is overwhelming to think of the losses. 

Betrayal feels like that.  It is a personal storm over which you have absolutely no control.  The only choice is how to respond.  From this point forward, life will be defined as before and after.  The landscape of trust and pillars of security are destroyed.  What was previously safe, comfortable and familiar has become a wasteland where survivors guardedly sift through the wreckage hoping to identify anything left of what they once knew. 

With physical disasters, the damage is tangible, visible and apparent to all.  The personal and emotional disasters of betrayal are not visible to most others, but they are just as, if not more disorienting.  For me, the filter through which my life is lived is forever changed.  The world is a lot more broken than I realized based on my sheltered upbringing.  Because I understand this brokeness more, I am learning to extend more grace to those who act in destructive ways.  I see that the hurtful deeds are extensions of their own unhealed brokeness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When the Blues Don't Get Better

 I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Not June about how things are different than what they may seem and looking for role models.  I’m excited to welcome Diana Pyle from My Weekly Goals to Far From Flawless.

Here's Diana:

Everybody has bad days, ups and downs, "the blues." I have had days like this on and off for 24 years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 14, and it’s been a challenging battle for me.

So, the question is... when is it normal ups and downs, and when does it become something more serious?

My mother always told me that it’s normal to be depressed for a reason... financial problems, the death or illness of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, etc. But how about those times when you cry for no reason? When you "bite someone’s head off" for saying something you didn’t want to hear? When you can’t seem to find the energy to get out of bed in the morning? When absolutely nothing makes you smile?

Those are the moments that you need to realize that it’s okay to ask for help. Reach out to friends, family, and to God. Accept the help. Try therapy. Try medication. I have done both. Through medication management and a great therapist, my life has changed dramatically. The right medication can be extremely helpful. Sometimes you don’t find the right medication for your situation in the very beginning. It’s an experimental process. With your doctor’s guidance you can find the one that is right for you. I tried several different types of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds before I found the right combination for me. This is not a sign of weakness. It takes great courage to admit that you need help to get through a rough patch in your life.

And always, ALWAYS, try to focus on the positive. Be grateful. Gratitude is not easy when you’re depressed and life gets you down. Nothing is easy. Getting out of bed isn’t easy. But, trust me, there is so much to be grateful for. It helps to keep a gratitude journal. Write down every little thing you can think of that brings a smile to your face, that you are thankful for. And when you’re feeling down read your journal. Be thankful. Pray. There is hope. This to shall pass.

Missy here again: There was a two-week stretch where I was so physically exhausted and mentally drained that I was not functioning well.  I remember thinking, "If I'm not better one week from today, I will go talk to a doctor about getting on medication."  A week later, I was doing better, but giving myself that permission helped me know I could do something to take care of me.  I have family members and friends who work with their doctors to regulate their moods and I applaud them for taking good care of themselves.  Don't be afraid to do the same.

Hi, I'm Diana, and I am a mother of three beautiful children: Brianna, 13, Jessica, 9, and Christopher 4. I am also engaged to an amazing man, Tony. I grew up in New Jersey, but have been living in Alabama for the past four years. I spend most of my time working at my medical transcription job, playing with my kids, and blogging! Hop over to, where I write about personal growth and self improvement, and of course my kids!

Visit Life...Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do What You Can and Accept What You Can't.

I shared some about the anxiety issues I have faced in the past and present.  It's humbling to admit that a great deal of those issues stem from my desire to control people and circumstances in order to avoid conflict or pain.  This personality trait has gifts that allow me to be organized, structured and goal driven.  However when taken to extreme it creates battles of the will over non-essential issues.  I lose flexibility and strive over matters which are so small.  Going through strife and divorce have greatly worked in me to soften the natural rigidity and need for control.  It was such an illusion that I ever was in control.

So a new mantra that I live by is: Do what you can, but then let go.  Striving and stressing and manipulating and pushing often do not get the results you want and create tension and insecurity.  Be smart, research, speak truth.  I am a limited person, certainly not almighty.  When I've done all that I can, then I must choose to entrust the outcome to another.  To the child I've studied and worked with.  To the spouse I've honored through difficult choices.  To the co-worker where I've trained the best I can. 

(Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow has been a great encouragement on the road to trusting God.  Our small group studied it together last year and I still have several pointers from it as daily reminders.)

Utimately, I have to let go of my anxieties, fears and desire for control to God.  I have to practice what I say I believe by trusting Him to work out all my concerns and believe that the outcome will be okay, even when it isn't what I wanted.  I've said I believed this way for years.  Disappointments reveal how much I still just wanted my way.  It's painful but so liberating to let go and trust God. 

Sometimes the process is more difficult than other times.  Sometimes we need help.  Tomorrow a guest will share her own journey and how depression has played a part.  Have you been there?  When have you had to trust with your real life disappointments?  Have you had to deal with more than circumstantial depression?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Calming Practices 101

Shortly after the birth of my firstborn, we moved.  I had a new home, new budget, new lifestyle as a mother, new work from home job and I was just plain stressed.  I was having trouble sleeping, eating and felt anxious almost all the time (though I did quickly lose the baby weight gain - an unexpected bonus). 

I'm so thankful that I was encouraged to talk with a therapist.  I learned valuable skills that helped me through that season, tougher ones to follow and still practice to this very day.  Keep reading if you want to see some of what works for me, and share what helps you keep sane, too!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Been A Year

My spouse moved out a year ago.  In ways it feels like just a few weeks ago, yet I can see a great deal of growth and healing which reflects the true time that has passed.  One whole year since the trajectory of my life changed forever. 

We are making it.  I'm surprised that we have survived this well, actually.  I've been a first-hand witness to the ways God supplies for our physical and emotional needs.  I wish I had kept a better record of the times He has rescued us.  I often remind myself that even when I feel like it, I'm not alone.  So many family and friends have been His support.  I hope I can be that  for others someday. 

I remember when we were together, the feeling that we were as low as we could and I just knew we would be moving forward.  I still feel the sting of his disappointments in me.  I remember the shock upon learning of another woman.  First shock.  Then anger.  Then insult.  Then pain.  Then panic.  I knew that I had set a boundary and that the consequence of that boundary being crossed was divorce.  Yet still my pattern of avoidance and denial kicked in and I wanted to cling to the familiar way things were.  The thought of divorce, single motherhood, all the changes that would entail was so hard.  My heart broke for my children who wouldn't understand for years.

I remember the way I felt that when our room was disjointed from the absence of him and his things.  The emptiness was glaring, the change stark.  It feels so normal to me now, but I'd like to go farther in making the space my own ... I have dreams of a "Mom-cave." 

Today I am confident that I chose wisely when faced with the reality of our broken marriage.  I wish I had a more clear vision of my future and exactly what God wants from me.  I'm getting so much better at operating without a "Master Plan."   These days I talk to Jesus as readily as I used to talk to my spouse and often visualize Him right there with me in my broken-down van, the messy living room or the security of my bedroom.  I tell Him of the longings within, the lingering questions and confusion and the insecurities that lurk from personal betrayal.  He's so good to hear, to comfort and His word is truly living and active when applied. 

I want to share a reading that I cut and pasted into my journal from this time last year.  Is is from Surviving Betrayal by Alice May:

Letting Go

When you get to the end or your rope, let go.
You don't have to hold on until your hands are raw and your shoulders scream in pain.  You don't have to hold on even when you think  you're the only one keeping the world from slipping over the edge.  You don't have to hold on simply because you don't know how far down you'll fall if you let go.

Let go.  Release your grip.  Turn loose your problems, your fears, your certainty that only you can salvage the situation.

Let go.  Once you let go, you'll find that hitting bottom is the easy part.  It was hanging on that caused all the pain.

Today I will experience the relief that comes with letting go of one small part of my life, something I've been gripping so tightly it hurt.  I will tell myself I can't fix the situation and I will let go.

Recovering perfectionists are usually trying desperately to hold it all together.  I certainly was.  There has been great freedom in letting go and it has applied to so very many aspects of my life, not just the marriage.  Is there anything you need to let fall apart?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As For Me & My House

 I make every effort to incorporate spirituality into our conversations, traditions and most of all our daily lives.  I often find inspiration at (in)courage.

It's a role I take very seriously so when I hear statements like the following, I look for ways to combat them:

"I can't ride without training wheels."

"I can't read."

"I can't build the tower."

"I can't make my bed."

"I can't put my head underwater."

Every statement above was said by my sweet firstborn.  Worse, he believed it in his heart

Time after time, I would replace the negative statements by giving him positive thoughts: I can try.  I will learn.  I keep up the effort.  I can.

I'm amazed at how this negative self-talk invades his mind from such a young age.  One of the tools I've used to replace the negative with positive truth is scripture.  The go-to verse for such negativity?  Philippians 4:13

And guess what?  This year we've overcome quite a few of those very negative statements:
  • Face-in-the-water swimming? Check, last summer
  • Reading? Check, above grade level scores
  • Making the bed? Check, a few wrinkles are no problem
  • Riding the bike? Check, just a few weeks ago and now mastering the skill!

When the opportunity came to participate in a review, I was just thrilled to get this plaque for my son on his recent birthday.  He read it eagerly and smiled as we ticked off some of the "I can'ts" that he has overcome.  He showed me where he wanted it and the verse is now proudly mounted in his room.  I do pray it serves as a reminder for all the "I can't" lies that come in the future. 

Oh, and that banged up nose...results of a massive head-over-handlebar bike crash.  The very next day we hopped back on the bike just to prove, "I can!"

Surrounding yourself and your home with encouraging messages helps to replace the lies we so easily believe.  If you're looking for some fantastic ideas, be sure to check out what Dayspring offers.  Follow me and I'll give away a $20 discount code to one of the Far From Flawless Followers - there are lots of great items and you can pick your fave.

Disclaimer: I was given the plaque by Dayspring for review.  The opinions are true and honest, we love it!  I've purchased and gifted from Dayspring Blessings and we have been more than thrilled.  There are more reviews - be sure to check them out! 
Giveaway entries close at 11:59 pm, May 13 - winner notified by email.  Thanks!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Giving Up Perfect Can Be Contagious

I still fight the urge to come across like I have it all together.  My pride has been reduced greatly, though, and it helps that I no longer feel like I can pull off the 'perfect' anymore.  Some days, I feel like my inadequacies are glaring and apparent to everyone around me.  It's humbling, and I get weary of being the one with the issues, but that's okay.

I've noticed that when I do reveal a problem, a need, a shortcoming or even an unmet longing that others are likely to do the same.  I mistakenly assumed that others would not like me if I wasn't perfect, if I had needs. but the exact opposite has been true.  This lie left me guarded and a bit robotic.  It created a brokeness in me that didn't let others get to know me because I was fearful that my inadequadies would turn them away.  Better to keep people at arms length than to feel judged.  Better to reject before I could be rejected.  It wasn't a conscious thought, but the result was that there were few people who knew my struggles.  None who knew the extent of my pain. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

My First Mother's Day & This Year's Plans

Some days are hard.  Mother's Day was a hard day for me.  While I adored my mother and loved the chance to celebrate her, I desperately longed to be a mother myself.  I had the standard answer for the unending question of "Ready for children yet? When are you planning to have a baby?  Do you want children?" 

"Ready when God gives us one.  I'm doing my part, trusting God to do His!  Yes, we hope children are part of our family soon." 

As Mother's Day approached in 2003, I was weary from years of hoping and trying for a baby.  I experienced three losses and the emotional roller coaster of infertility treatments.  I really just wanted to disappear for the day and avoid the whole event.  I remember that my mother prayed this would be my last Mother's Day without a child, and I had just enough faith to hope a tiny bit.

The next fall, we announced to our family that we were expecting - again.  Then we passed the first trimester, we passed the time of our losses, Christmas came, I got pnemonia and stayed in the L&D ward of our tiny county hospital.  I recovered, the baby was blissfully unaware.  All was going well.  By January I had true peace that I would get to mother this child.  He was due May 22, 2004. 

As the time approached our showers were such a celebration. To this day spring reminds me of that sweet season of joy and anticipation.  I was the most glowing of all pregnant ladies, I'm sure.  Jokingly, I would say that if he came early, I would get us to church in time on Mother's Day to claim the "Newest Baby" prize - a fern given out each year. 

Little did I know that the lightheadedness, headaches and general foggy-ness were symptoms of my rising blood pressure.  I just assumed this was how everyone felt in the last month of pregnancy.  So I continued to work, to drive to attend to all our household tasks (which now I sort of can't imagine what they were before children?).  But at my weekly OB appointment, my blood pressure was significantly and dramatically elevated over the previous text book perfect numbers.

"If your BP is still this high in the morning, we'll have to induce you right away," said my doctor.  I sort of laughed it off, not really believing it to be true.  That Thursday evening I watched the series finale of "Friends" on televisions.  When it ended, I decided to call my mother and let her know what the doctor said, just in case.  She was six hours away and planning to drive down for the delivery and to help afterward.

Yes, my plans and hers, were about to change -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Celebrate You!

 I'm quite "girlie," so it is generally pretty easy to please me.  I really do love fresh flowers, and when flowers are locally in bloom and I can pick them fresh myself.  The peonies have been delightful this week.

What?  You prefer a brighter color?  Absolutely - look around, I bet some are blooming near you right now.  These are from my Mother's garden...perfect reminder of the beauty in motherhood.  

In years past, I went without a gift on Mother's Day.  I tried to be brave and pretend I didn't care, but it really hurt me.  Don't get me wrong, I was always acknowledged, taken to lunch and given cards.  But I went many years desiring but not getting to be a mother, so I wanted a big deal to be made of this day. 

I learned that when something is important, and the need is not met by others, that it is perfectly acceptable to take care of that need myself.  I found this frame necklace at Hallmark shortly before Mother's Day one year.  I purchased it in anticipation of the coming day and wore it proudly - I still do!  I have had more comments about this piece of jewelry than any other piece I've ever worn.  And I do love it!  Sweet baby boy has his photo on the opposite side.  Even the children think it's fun when Mommy wears her photo of them.
Practical but pampering, these items that indulge the body are easily found and offer a pick-me-up night or morning.

Oh, I just wanted to post more flowers - I've really been enjoying them!

The bank may not label me as rich, but I'm very rich in relationships and memories.  There is no time for me to scrapbook consistently but I love the Memory books that I have ordered to commemorate and celebrate special relationships.  This one of my college girlfriends cost under $5 with a coupon code and sale.  I've used Snapfish for more than five years and have enjoyed great service, simple uploads and reasonable prices.

My gift to myself this year was a large, hard-bound photo book celebrating our year together.

I had so much fun putting it together and treasure the times shared within.  I think this is a great way to celebrate yourself and honor your role.

My latest splurge was a simple scented candle, Glade "Spring for Joy."   Little things like this keep me from feeling too deprived and brighten any moment.

Another thing any mother would love and which has been appreciated by me is a gift card.  Grocery store cards allow us to have more margin in the budget or to invite others to share meals more readily.  A good friend recently gifted me a salon gift card!  Ooo-la-la: I felt so pampered and special with a completely new [very short] style.  I had to remind myself not to feel guilty when using it. 

Not far from home is a Massage School that offers an hour massage for the practice of the students with a cost of $25.  They are not allowed to accept tips.  SCORE!  This would be a wonderful way to celebrate the hard work I do and honor this imperfect body which has functioned well for me.

One time my parents gave me a therapy session as a gift - I totally loved it. 

Here are some other ideas that I think would be big hit:
  • A photo session for the children and me.  No professional required, just someone who can get us all in the frame.
  • Garden plants - This is the time of year to set the stage for a beautiful summer show.
  • Childcare - an afternoon or evening alone is greatly appreciated, especially if you bring something fun for my children to do.
  • Jewelry - extra bonus points if it reflects my status as mom.
  • Yard Work/Home Help - an extra set of hands to complete a yard clean up or home project is big.  This stuff often gets put off because it isn't ugent. 
The list could be endless.  These are just some things that mean something to me.  I have had to learn to celebrate  myself and I've also been very blessed by others.  Please share what would mean a lot to you?  What is something that others may not realize you would appreciate?  Remember, this blog is about my life as a single mom, but really more of a woman's journal.  Join the conversation whether you're a mother (or not), single (or not), wealthy, (or not) and by all means be authentic.  No perfect moms, women or people in my room tonight.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Hat's off to mother's everywhere - but especially to the amazing mothers parenting alone.  There is no job like this one and it is all consuming, everyday, all day.  Whether you're driving the car pool, working to make a living, repeating the endless cycles of laundry, dishes and vacuming, your children are front and center.  All that you do is ulitmately for them and there is no such thing as a break.  Even when they are not phycially with you, your mind is thinking, planning, commenting, worrying about them.  I think this phenomenon is part of motherhood in general, but being single highlights the responsibilites of raising great children, being enough for them and accepting  limitations.  What journey this is!

And let's face it, Mother's Day is great, but we don't really enjoy the perks in full until our children are grown.  If you're like me, a colored paper, extra hugs and smiles are the gifts that I will receive.  Afterall, my children are still young, they don't have much money of their own and cannot go shopping.  We can't expect them to deliver a gift, a pampering spa day or breakfast in bed (please, no - I dread crumbs). 

So this is a day for some extra special self care.  Please, do something to celebrate the mother you are!  In the past, I have purchased a glitzy necklace that holds photos of my children.  I have purchased a delightful hanging basket for my porch.  Last year we had a picnic much like I did when we went to the mountains on my birthday.  Be honest, you would like to be treasured and treated special on this day, so be strong enough to take the responsibility upon yourself to have a great day.   Holidays can be a let-down, because it is easy to look around and emphasize the differences we have with other families, together families.  Celebrate who you are and the mother you purpose to be. 

If you know a single mother, please acknowledge her this Sunday!  Some days she is barely holding it together and it makes all the difference to know someone notices.  Remember, we're not that different. Surprise flowers, a kind note, a grocery gift card, a mowed lawn would blow her away.  Look around, we're everywhere: at work, in the neighborhood, at the grocery store, on the field trip.  You may be the only person who recognizes her sacrificial love.  This week, I'll share some things that I would really appricate and ways others have encouraged me.  I'll also share my personal prayer granted on my first Mother's Day and how I plan to spend this one (it may surprise you!). 

I'd love to hear your ideas, too!  It's always encouraging to interact and have connection.  Your comment makes me smile!  So, what was your favorite Mother's Day?  What is your secret Mother's Day wish?  How would you feel most honored? 

Mother - if you read this: What is one of your favorite Mother's Day gifts or memories?