Monday, June 28, 2010

Blog? What blog?

Yes, I know that I have been ignoring this blog for the last week or so.

Yes, I know that I made a promise to myself to blog along with a friend every day for 100 days.

And yes, I actually do like blogging.

But right now, life keeps getting in the way of this blogging thing.  I want to be here writing about random tidbits of my life on a regular basis, but I've realized that I have other things I need to be focusing on in my life right now, like looking for a new job, and making more promises to myself that I won't keep only makes me feel like a failure.

So I'm going to resist the urge to swear to myself that I am going to blog more often, and instead I am going to do it when I can and when I feel like it.  If it's not fun, then what's the point?

And meanwhile, this week, I really do need to make some strides in the direction of my job hunt, even if they are only small ones.  I have been intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of it for a while, and as my nature is, I have been procrastinating it because it's too difficult for me to face.  These are the times when I really wish I had the support and encouragement of a spouse.  To me, that's what marriage is supposed to be about--having someone with whom to pursue life goals and dreams, someone who will hold you up when you really don't feel like you can do it alone.  At least I have friends and family who will support and encourage me, but it isn't the same when your life is not directly joined to those people who are offering you love and support.

I think that part of the reason this job search has been so hard for me is because of those reasons I just identified above, and now that I have recognized that I need to be the one to light the fire under my own arse at this juncture in my life, it will be a little easier for me to strike the match.

At least I hope so.  I really need to make some progress this week instead of letting the intimidation of it loom over my head, like an anvil teetering on the edge of a shelf.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Healing Recipes

I have been very, deeply hurt because of some events that have occurred over the last several days among a close group of friends, in a place that I have always thought of as my own personal shelter from the storms of life.  When your shelter falls apart in the middle of a storm, and you find yourself getting dumped on, it hurts.  Words can be among the most hurtful thing of all, whether they are spoken or written.  

So I made the decision to remove myself from the situation that was causing me such pain, which of course left me hurting even more deeply than I was in the first place.  The irony of it is grand.  And I found myself seeking for a recipe that would help me heal from the pain I had just endured.

The one I called upon required a mixture of butter, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  I have this thing about baking as therapy.  Sure, the caloric method of healing only offers a Band-Aid on the wounds of life, but it feels good for the moment, and it fills my soul with a certain kind of warmth to get into the kitchen and make something that tastes good and is filled with love. 

But already, the pile of chocolate chip cookies is dwindling down until it is nearly a pile of crumbs.  I think I have to go back to the kitchen and take one of those cookies…just one.  I’m going to set it aside for myself for later.  And when I feel like crying again, as I know I soon will, I’m going to do it over a cookie and a glass of milk because maybe that really will make it feel all better.

And when that last cookie is gone, I hope I will still have my friends.  At least I know that the friends who truly love me will be there for me, somewhere.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

I spent Father's Day doing things for everyone else, it seems, and now I'm exhausted.

I went to church with my kids because they really wanted to go to Sunday school.  They like it there.  Kudos for them, but I would have been happy to stay home with a cup of coffee.  I didn't feel good this morning.

Then I sat at a table in a restaurant I didn't care for, with some people I have never met, caring for a child who can't eat most of the food they serve there--including the syrup on the table right in front of him--because he is on a special diet, feeling headachy and queasy but knowing that my parents were glad to have me and the kids with them on Father's Day.  Yay me.  I was a good daughter.

After that, I had to help out a friend in need, because that's what friends do.  That's all I'm gonna say about that.  I also talked to my children's dad and found out that he hadn't yet gotten the Father's Day package I sent to him because he has to go somewhere to pick it up and just hadn't done that yet, even though I told him it should have been there by Friday.  I wanted him to have it for Father's Day.  Oh's his fault that he didn't have it, not mine, but I was a little disheartened by that.

Then I went out with my kids and my dad and my siblings to take a walk in the places that my dad loves to go walking.  Mind you, we didn't actually take a walk at any of them.  He just wanted to show us where they all are, so we drove from one parking lot to the next so that he could show us his favorite spots.  And they're all along a trail that goes through the local industrial park starting at the sewage treatment plant, so we got to start our tour there; oh, what a breath of fresh air THAT was.  Yes, this is my dad, and this is what he wanted to do today.  I swear one day I'm going to write a book about the experience of living with my parents again.  I really am.

Then I read a book to my kids before dinner,  put the kids to bed after dinner, and now I am sitting here trying to work and my mind is so fuzzy that I can't concentrate.  I don't know if I should drink coffee or take a nap, but I do know that I definitely should not be blogging.  But I am anyway because I am a professional procrastinator.

I am incredibly drained right now, and I think this is going to be a very, very long and difficult week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm blogging. Yes, I am.

I know, I said I was going to write every day, and yesterday I didn't.  I'm a schmuck.  And today I didn't feel like writing because I couldn't think of anything interesting to say, but I'm going to write anyway because that's what blogging is.  I write about whatever I want whether anyone wants to read it or not.  And since I don't have anything to talk about that is particularly insightful or entertaining, I'll just talk about what I'm doing when I'm not blogging.

Yesterday the kids and I drove to Santa Cruz to visit a friend from Nebraska who is there staying with her mother in law for the summer.  Her family used to live next door to us when Abi was a baby and Samuel was a preschooler, and they have three girls.  Our kids haven't seen each other for two years.  My son instantly bonded with their oldest daughter, Jada, who is entering fourth grade, while my friend and I talked about all the similar challenges we face with these two kids, both socially and academically.  They were like peas in a pod the whole day and never left each other's side.  It just may be that Samuel is lucky enough to have found a soul mate at the tender age of 7.  My heart melted as I watched the interaction between those two sweet children and my friend and I talked about the fact that they really need to be pen pals.  It turns out that both of them need a fun way to practice handwriting.  We stayed there until about 8pm and I arrived back at home with two sleeping children.

Today is less exciting for the kids but will end on a high note for me.  I just got back from taking Samuel to Whole Foods, where we procured such interesting items as sprouts (he's never seen them before--parenting fail), Hippie Chips (don't ask, they were handing out samples and they contain potato pellets, which sound like something the potato leaves behind after you dig it up but don't taste like that at all, trust me), and quackers (yes, they are duck-shaped crackers, and the name is not really quackers but I think it should be).  We're going to take a walk to the park in a few minutes, and tonight the kids are staying home with my mom and sister while my brother and I go out to dinner for his birthday.  There will be beer and laughter.  It will be fun.

And now I spend the rest of the day with this song stuck in my head because it was playing on the radio in the store.  I wish I knew how to embed videos in this blog, but I don't.  I suck at technology.

Peace, people.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Internal Conflict

My brain is arguing with itself.  It sounds a lot like this:

Left Brain:  You need to find a new job.  You can’t make enough money to survive with what you’re doing now, and you have to support yourself and your kids.  Besides, you don't even like your job, or your schedule.  You owe it to yourself and to them to find reasonable employment.  Get cracking on that resume, lazy.

Right Brain:  But I’m scared of my resume.  It represents the job I have to get that I really don’t want because I want to be home with my kids.  I don’t want them to go to day care.

Left Brain:  That is understandable, but they will be fine in day care.  They are older now.  You’ll be fine, and they’ll be fine, you’ll see…but you have to LOOK for the job to find the job.  The longer you ignore that resume, the more scared you get.  Just go do it.

Right Brain:  But it’s going to be hard to revise it.  I have to think about working and offices and daycare and stuff.  And what if my kids need me and I’m not around?  And why can’t I be a stay at home mom who can just enjoy raising her kids like I really want to?  My kids deserve that, and I want that.  It’s not fair. 

Left Brain:  Life is not fair.  But this change will be good for you and the kids in the long run. You’re scared of this new job and you don’t even know what it is yet, and you’re scared of day care and you don’t even have one to be scared of yet.

Right Brain:  That’s part of the problem. I have to find reasonable day care for Abi and after school care for Samuel and it’s scary.  And I don’t have a spouse to help me if I can’t be there for them, and their dad lives in Oregon so he can't be there for them either.  And what makes me think I can handle work plus parenting on my own anyway?  It’s too much.  I don’t know how to do this on my own.

Left Brain:  Remember what your counselor told you today?  This past year has been filled with nothing but upheaval and chaos for you; in fact, the last several years have been nothing but upheaval and chaos for you.  Naturally, you are used to living with that kind of instability and preparing yourself to handle it.  But what makes you think that it will continue to be that way?

Right Brain:  Well, nothing, I guess.  But I worry about my son, because he is such a high needs child and he has had so much trouble in school, and needs a lot of help with simple things like homework.  And I also worry about things that are unforeseen.

Left Brain:  Break it down rationally, then.  You have family here to help you with the kids.  You have neighbors who can help you.  You may even find a job where telecommuting is an option for you.  But you won’t know until you try.  And besides, in two more years, when Abi is in first grade and both of your kids are away from you all day anyway, will you really be happy being at home, or will you want to work? 

Right Brain:  Work.  Definitely work.  I am just not ready for that right now.

Left Brain:  You’re more ready than you think you are.  Don’t worry about the resume this instant if it’s stressing you out; just think about the job possibilities that are out there, and the companies you’d love to work for.  Think about the peace of mind that will come with having a solid income and medical benefits.  How can you expect to line yourself up for that kind of work if you’re too scared to try? 

Right Brain:  I’m not too scared to try.  I can do it, I think.  I hope.  No, I can do it.  I just have to take one more step in that direction…just one.

Left Brain:  Good girl.  Just one.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Your kids love you and they know how much you love them.  They’ll be fine.  You have given them the tools they need to navigate this successfully.  You’re going to be fine.  Just take it easy, and take one baby step.  Go to one employment web page and look at some job possibilities.  And shut up about all the jobs you don’t qualify for…you only need to find one, and it’s out there for you.  You have all the time you need.  You’re the only one pressuring yourself.  No one else is pressuring you.  Take it easy and take that next step, and then the next, and you’ll get there.

Right Brain:  Okay, I’ll try one little step.  Just stay calm and rational like that.  I need that right now.

Left Brain:  Gotcha.  Calm and rational.  I can do that.  Calm and rational, I am.  But one more thing…

Right Brain:  What’s that?

Left Brain:  Remember your friends and family, the people who love you?  Let them help us both through this.  Because I may sound all calm and rational, but truthfully, this is very hard and scary for me, too.  We both need love to help us through.

Right Brain:  Love.  Yep, you’re right again.  We both need a lot of love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


“Eat your vegetables!”  It’s the quintessential Mom line. 

Why is it that moms want kids to eat their vegetables?  What is so special about those magical green foods?  Well, of course, they’re good for you. 

Some of them are yummy.  I love asparagus.  And sweet potatoes, even though they are technically considered a carbohydrate.  I love zucchini, and tomatoes, and cucumbers, and broccoli, and yes, I know that biologically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit.  But they rarely make yummy desserts, so I lump them in with the vegetables.

So, yeah…there are some vegetables that I actually like and want to eat.  But there are also those times when I have to force myself to eat them.  Sometimes, I don’t want vegetables.  I happen to like cheeseburgers, and apple pies, and chocolate ice cream, and donuts—ooohhhh, donuts.  But sadly, I have to limit my intake of those delicious foods because my metabolism is not what it used to be, and sometimes, I’ll choose vegetables instead.  Even when I don’t want to.

You know…like when I have to force myself to sit down and work on my resume and job hunt, even though I still have so much anxiety about going back to work full time and finding childcare for my kids.  That right there is a heaping helping of vegetables.  Or when I really want to sit down and curl up with a great novel, but I realize that I haven’t touched my self-esteem workbook since last week’s counseling session, and I have to go back to counseling again tomorrow.  I don’t want to go back there without having done any of the work I was supposed to do.  That's a green salad with low-fat dressing.  Or when I would prefer to be chatting online with my friends or reading posts on Facebook, but I have to work instead.  Brussels sprouts, I say. 

The thing is, good health is the ultimate goal, so even though vegetables are not always appealing, they are always going to be good for me.  The resume is going to help me get a job that may actually help improve my self-esteem and hopefully my financial situation as well.  The counseling workbooks will help me to believe in my ability to build the life that I want for myself and my kids, and maybe even in the possibility of finding love again.  Those things are worth the effort of choking down the vegetables, but it doesn’t always make them taste good.

Tonight, for dinner?  Salad.  And maybe some tomatoes for dessert.

Even though I really want a cheeseburger and some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

100 days of blogging?

A good friend of mine and fellow blogger threw down the gauntlet today.  She has sworn to herself to blog every day for 100 days, and she asked others to join her.  I dig it.  It sounds like fun.

My biggest problem with this blog has been thinking of what to write about.  Lately, most of my posts have been about really heavy, emotional topics; and while that kind of writing is therapeutic for me at times, it's not the only thing I want this blog to be about.  I want it to be fun, too.  But I seem to have lost my ability to find the fun in writing because I think I've been taking it too seriously.

So, in order to feel like I can successfully tackle this 100-day challenge, I am going to start dreaming up a list of random topics to blog about for the days when I really just don't know what to say.  Things like:

  • The cost of organic produce.  
  • Multicolored paperclips.  
  • Why I don't like my job anymore.
  • The feeling I get when I see a large bookshelf that is overflowing with books.  (It's a good feeling.)  
  • Soft cuddly puppies.  
  • Elastic pink hair bands. 
  • Chocolate covered coffee beans.  
  • A list of the things that come to mind when I think about my soon to be ex-husband.
  • Melissa Etheridge.
  • Nursing babies.
  • Second grade.
  • What I dislike about my current computer mouse and why I haven't replaced it.
  • Being broke.  (See above.)
  • Big brothers.
  • Nuns.
  • Best friends.
  • Potato skins.
  • Beer.  (The natural thing that comes to mind when I think of potato skins.)
  • Being nocturnal.
  • iPods vs. 8-track tapes.
  • Methuselah.
There's more, I'm sure.  But that is a pretty good start.  Oh, and I'll give ten points to the person who can figure out exactly which items on that list are currently on my desk next to my computer.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jenna!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Assembling the puzzle pieces

When I left my husband four months ago, I didn’t feel at first like my life had fallen apart.  I think I was too much in shock initially to actually grieve.  I left very suddenly and unexpectedly, under serious circumstances, and the next morning I woke up at my parent’s house wondering what I had just done and what was going to happen to my life.  I took care of important necessities first—my son’s school enrollment, his medications and doctor’s appointments, legal paperwork, etc.  And because I stayed too busy to stop and examine my life, it was several months before I felt the devastating blow of heartache that inescapably follows the loss of a dream.  It was then that I finally felt as though my life had shattered into pieces, like an unassembled puzzle; in particular, when thinking in terms of a puzzle as an analogy for my life, I imagine the two-sided kind.  The picture I had first put together of my marriage and family had finally, inevitably, fallen apart, and the assorted pieces lay in a heap of disarray.  But in all honesty, it was a picture I really didn’t like.  It was dark, dismal, and murky, composed of thick strokes of black mixed with varying shades of grey that formed an abstract, complex, and rather confusing image. 

So when the sense of loss finally hit me, I didn't grieve for the loss of the old picture, but instead mourned for what that picture had become, while simultaneously acknowledging a growing and foreboding sense of fear about how to start assembling the new picture on the other side.  Yet after taking a moment to step back and look at what I had done with my life in the months since I left, I realized that I had already put a significant amount of effort into rebuilding my life, and there was a new picture beginning to form.  Much of the frame was already assembled—my son was finally settling into his new school and making friends, even though it was almost the end of the school year.  My daughter was enrolled in preschool and becoming less grouchy and more vibrant.  Her pieces made up parts of a rainbow in the sky, up in the far left corner of the puzzle.  My husband had moved out of our old house and was living alone, and all of the detritus that had once made up our home together had been sorted through and either put into storage or given away.  I had finished as much legal paperwork as I could for the time being, and I had also gotten my son and I involved in counseling.  When I stopped to examine the image that was forming, I could start to make out a few more details; there was a sandy shore forming across the bottom edge, and in a few places there were small clusters assembled.  But there were still several hundred pieces remaining to complete the picture.

The next section of the picture started to come into form as I began to mend the emotional rent across the center of my soul.  I started doing more in depth work on myself in counseling as I examined my self esteem and the reasons why it was so pitiful.  I allowed some time for the heartache to come crashing over me like a wave, so that I could move past it into the uncharted waters beyond, and I found tremendous healing in the immense love given to me so freely from friends and family, some near and some far.  I received a package in the mail from one particular friend, who seemed to know without my telling her that I wanted some self help books but couldn’t figure out what would be the best choice for me; she knew me well enough to figure out exactly what I needed and gave it to me with love.  With that gift, I discovered further healing and restoration of my soul in the realization that I am not alone, that I am not the first and only person in the history of mankind to ever experience some sort of tragedy.  And again, I stopped to take a look at the emerging picture, and I could see a larger portion of that sandy shore, and a choppy blue body of water emerging on the right side of the puzzle, building towards the top.  A lake?  An ocean?  Too early to tell, but it was obvious that I was still making progress, towards something unexpected and perhaps a bit intimidating but certainly beautiful and healing. 

Every day, as I continue to move forward in my journey, I fit a few more pieces into place, but it is still a slow and sometimes frustrating process.  Where is the piece that is supposed to fit here?  I’m sure it’s blue, but none of the blue ones are working.  And what about this piece?  I like the interesting shape and unique blend of colors.  It seems like it should go over there, on the left, but I can’t make it fit yet.  Ah…maybe that one is my resume, the piece that is going to help build something I can’t visualize yet.  I’ll need to keep that handy because I’ll use it again soon.  But for the moment, I’ll put it aside and work on something else.  

As I continue with the construction process, I hold some ideas and some hopes and some vision in my head.  I hope that when it’s all done, there will be a small house on the other side of that body of water, somewhere…a home where a family lives together happily.  I don’t know quite what that family looks like.  But my kids and I are a part of it, and we’re happy, and we’re still growing and discovering ourselves, and we’re accomplishing things that we hadn’t before dared or even imagined to try.  And ultimately, the dark, heavy despair of our old picture is all gone, replaced with shimmering reflections of love and light.

I know that it will never really be done, this picture of my life, until the last piece falls into place with my last breath.  But at least now I can do something I couldn't do even as little as a month ago.  I can reassure myself that one day, there will be a much more complete picture in place than there is now, and that picture will be worth all of the pain and effort that went into assembling it.  It took a lot of healing to get here, and there is much more healing needed ahead, I know; but love is a healing balm, and love is one thing I am ever grateful to have so much of.