Saturday, January 30, 2010

Small Steps...

"Our attitude toward life determines life's' attitude towards us."

~ Earl Nightingale

I start this post with the quote from above, so true, isn't it?  If we make the choice to be positive and treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves, I do believe it will come back to us.  On the other hand, if we have a negative, pessimistic attitude towards others, and life in general, that will come back to us as well.

This week, I have been working on focussing and actually making moves to make my dreams reality.  They have been small steps, but moving forward, nonetheless.  I made an appointment this week to meet at our local Women's Club to look at their kitchen and discuss rental fees.   Unfortunately, the gal I was to meet wasn't there, so we will try again next week.   I have no idea if the kitchen would even work for me, or what I plan to do, but I think one of the first steps is to find a place I could bake/cook out of that would allow me to sell my goodies.  This next week, I will look into getting a business license and what the requirements from the health department are for making and selling food as a business.  There is a lot of information out there for me to gather.
I am working on candy bars for a friend who owns a local business selling prom gowns and renting tuxedos. She has a great eye for style and runs a very successful business.  She has always been a strong support in my life, I've known her since Jr. high, and she remains an important person in my life today.  Every year she hosts a "Super Bowl Prom Dress Kick-Off" the day before the Super Bowl.  This year my candy bars and mini cupcakes will be part of the event.  I also designed her flyers and  water bottle wrappers to match the candy bars.

As you know, making ends meet is my number one worry these days.  My oldests daughter is away at college in San Diego, and she and I are paying for her college.  She has taken on most of the expense by way of student loans.  I am so proud of her, she is working hard to get the education I have dreamed of for her since she started kindergarten. 

Unfortunately, her dad is not part of her life right now.  In fact, he is not part of either of my daughters' life at the moment.  It is really sad, actually, and not how I want it to be.  I have been struggling with the fact that I cannot control what  happens, it is hard to sit by and watch my daughters' hurt and disappointment.  The best I can do is to offer my love and support.  I am trying, but I know I can't replace the love of their father.  Someday, I hope they will be in his life and he in theirs.  For now, I have to let them make their own choices.  It's hard.  When our children hurt, we hurt for them.

I wish no ill will towards my ex-husband.  In fact, I wish him peace.  I don't think he has it now.  I can't imagine what my life would be without my daughters in it.  He can't possibly be at peace without them.  What happened between us is in the past.  I wish him well, and hope he finds the help he needs for his emotional health.
We can't change what has happened to us in our past.  We also can't continue to blame people for our failures, even when they've done us wrong.  What we can do, is learn from our experiences and mistakes, and move on from there.  I am constantly learning I can only control what I do and how I think.  I must let things happen as they may.  I am not resonsible for anyone else's decisions or mistakes.  I repeat this to myself often, I am working on letting is a process.  Small steps...

Wishing you peace and Happy thoughts,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This is me...Pt. IV

The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
-William James

So, another work week has flown by, January coming to an end and some pretty intense weather for this California girl.  Although I am not crazy about too long of a Winter, I do enjoy a cold, rainy day, as long as I can sit in front of the fire and stay indoors.  I love "nesting" and making a big pot of healthy soup on a cold wintry day.

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, this is a holiday that has held a lot of emotion for me in the past.  I was married on Valentine's Day, 1987.  Seems like an eternity since that day I said "I do".  We got married in Lake Tahoe, on a snowy evening at a little chapel, called Love's Lake Tahoe Chapel, by Reverend Love.
I'm serious, that was his name!

It's funny looking back now on my wedding details.  I was so young and clueless, I really didn't know what I wanted, so I let my mom pretty much plan the whole thing.  Nothing about that wedding, other than the family who attended, would be something I would choose today.  First, even though I'm a romantic at heart, I probably wouldn't get married on Valentine's Day, just for the fact that it's in Winter.  I had fake flowers, my mom thought it would be easier since we were travelling.  I would never choose fake flowers today.  Flowers are one of my passions.  Interesting, isn't it?  I was so young, so naive, I had so much to learn.  I was in love, and that's all I cared about. 

My ex-husband lost our wedding pictures on that trip.  We were given the film from the pictures the photographer took during the ceremony, to have developed when we returned home.  He kept them in his pocket while he had a snowball fight w/ my uncles.  We never got the pictures developed.  Kind of weird, huh?  I had a video that was taken of the ceremony, so there was some record of the day, but no pictures to frame or put in a wedding album.  Was it an omen?  Ha ha, who knows, I can laugh about it now, I wasn't so thrilled at the time!

Let's fast forward to the here and now.  My marriage is just a faded memory these days, but the real treasure that came from it are my two beautiful daughters.

I am so proud of these girls.  They were 7 & 11 when we seperated, still pretty young, but old enough to know what was going on.  That first summer shortly after their dad moved out was a mixture of sadness and fun.  I was determined to make the best of our situation, so I made sure we went on day trips and spent our summer swimming, visiting with family and generally having a great time.  My girls saw a lot of tears from their mom those first few weeks, they even wanted to sleep with me again, even though it had been a long time since either of them had.  We faced some challenges with our house, which at the time was still very much in the middle of a major rennovation.  It was a total fixer-upper when we bought it in 1996, and 7 years later, among other things, there was still a bathroom that was untouched and unusable, and no landscaping to speak of.  I was overwhelmed with the idea of what I should do with it.  Should I move and buy a little condo, with little maintenance?  I hated the thought of never seeing the rennovation all the way through, but at the same time, I had no money, and no partner to help me.  My ex walked away from the house with little more than his clothes and music equipment.  He never looked back.  There was so much unfinished work, I couldn't see the light at the end of a daunting tunnell. 

We had rats that first summer.  Yes, rats.   In the house. 
I woke up one Saturday morning, getting ready to hit the gym while the girls were still sleeping, and on the kitchen counter were rat droppings next to a bowl of fruit.  I can't even tell you how freaked out I was.  I called my parents, I called my ex's parents.  By 7:30am, they were all at my house figuring out how we would attack.  That first night, we stayed at my mom and dad's house.  For the next two weeks, the girls and I slept together with shoes and magazines by the bed, so we could bang them on the walls when we heard the little critters creeping inside the walls.  We could hear them eating the peanut butter off the traps at night, but we never caught a rat!  We finally got a couple in the garage, and became the owners of a sweet little kitten named Roxy Girl.  Roxy is great hunter, she is truly a part of this "all-girl" family. These days she spends more time sleeping, than hunting, but she occasionally brings me a capture.

All I can say is, what doesn't kill you, will surely make you stronger.  I think I'll go now, the memory of the rats has me a little creeped out! 

Until next time,
Happy Thoughts,

Watch this, it is so inspiring to me, it makes me happy, hope it does the same for you!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is me, Part. III

Well, another work week is over and I look forward to an extra day off with a 3-day weekend.

I have been thinking about my last post and wonder if I have shared too much.  It's a scary thing to talk about our failures out in the open and wonder if we'll be judged or criticized.  But, I think I need to do it for me most of all.  Whether anyone even reads it or not, documenting my feelings feels like the right thing to do.  I think it's always good to express yourself, whether through the written word, art, music, etc. 

Last time I wrote a lot about my weight issues and what I need to do to feel better about myself.  I have been working on my diet, cutting out the sweets I so love to bake, and cutting my portions.  I am doing it gradually, no crazy diets for me anymore.  I'm sticking to chicken and fish only and lots of veggies and fruit.  Carbs are a big one for me.  I love bread, so I'm trying to limit my intake of bread, pasta, rice, etc.  Mostly eating the whole grain varieties for the added health benefits.  Last Sunday my daugther and I went for a nice walk in the freezing cold fog to my parents' house.  Probably about 3 miles or so.  It felt good to move again.  Unfortunately during the week I did not find the time to exercise, but I will work to fit that back into my schedule.  My daughter's soccer schedule right now keeps it hard to find the time.  I did go for a nice walk with my good friend Wendy this morning, and it definitely lifted my spirits on a day I was feeling a little down in the dumps.  My finances are quite limited right now, which puts me in a rather depressed mood. 

After my seperation and subsequent divorce, I started working full-time for our local school district.  The pay is not great, but I do get full medical benefits and a steady paycheck.  My work year has me off 2 months out of the year, so part of the low salary comes from the time off w/out pay.  Part of my intentions and hopes for the new year are to find a way to earn some additional income.  I managed to keep my home after the divorce ( I bought him out) but it is a struggle to pay all the bills I have each month.

My dream is to own my own business someday.  I'd like to have a small bakery and/or candy shop or cafe that serves lunch and desserts.  I love to bake and cook and would love to work that into a career for myself someday. I also love to craft, so a career involving anything where I can be creative and work with my hands would be a dream come true.  Although I enjoy my job now, and I love working with the kids and the staff at my school is great, working cooped up in an office is not something I want to do forever. 

With the economy so bad and no start up money, my dream seems far away.  I just can't give up hope though, that someday I will have the life I dream of.  I have a feeling deep in my soul where I am right now is not the place I will be forever.  I can't help but feel there is a new adventure out there just waiting for me to find. 

My hope for all of you reading this is that you will find the place you are dreaming of too.

"Nothing happens unless first we dream."
                        -Carl Sandburg
Happy thoughts,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This is me, Part II

"Happiness depends on ourselves."

So, now you know a little bit about me and an experience in my life that  had a profound effect on me.  Now, please understand, I do not want to be defined by my divorce or marital status, but it is a part of my life that had a big impact on who I am today.

Now before I continue my story, I have to confess something. 

Ok, deep breath, here goes...the main reason for writing about this on my blog is to help me, because I am not in the best place of my life right now.  Not the worst by far, but there are things I am dealing with now that I am not happy about.  Looking back and thinking of my life today, I am still happier being single than I was while I was married, at least in the latter part of my marriage.  I often felt depressed, overwhelmed and frustrated while I was married.  I wasn't really sure why, I always attributed it to lack of money or my own insecurities with my weight.  I definintely think that was part of it, but I also know now that I was not being loved and respected like I should have been.  I was being lied to, and quite often, as I eventually came to find out.  I had nothing to compare to, this was my first real, committed relationship.  I loved him, what more could there be?

Anyway, back to my confession, as hard as this is to admit, and for those of you who know me personally, you  already know this, but I have gained back most of the weight I lost after my divorce.  I am constantly self-analyzing myself as to why I let this happen.  I know how good I felt, how empowered and confident I felt as I dropped the weight and grew physically strong. Why would I ever let my body get to this point again?  Do I love myself?  Do I deserve to love myself?  These are emotional issues I'm faced with, that are hard to write about publicly.  I still deal with my fears of being judged and what other people will think of me.  Overall I consider myself a fairly confident, happy, friendly person, yet why don't I have it all together?  Why do I not think enough of myself to do what I need to feel good about myself again? Why can't I find the balance in my life that I so desperately desire?   I go to the doctor and have regular check-ups, I am not neglecting my health in general.  I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, little red meat, no soda.  I don't smoke, only occasionally drink, and cook almost everything from scratch.  I have no major heath issues other than being overweight.  But I know that's a biggie, both in the physical and emotional sense. 

I always worry what people will think of me when they meet me for the first time, or when I see friends or acquaintences that I have not seen in a  while.  I am literally afraid to step back into the gym, because I don't want people who might remember me to see me now with all this weight back on.  I no longer hike, or enjoy clothes shopping.  I don't step outside my comfort zone anymore.  It has definitely had an impact on how I am living my life now. I am not living the life that I really want for myself, and in part because I am letting my weight get in the way.

Part of me thinks I may have lost the weight for the wrong reasons.  I wanted revenge. I wanted him back.  It worked for a while too.  Even while he was with this new woman, he still wanted me when it was right for him.  It was pure selfishness on his part, and it took me a while before I could stand up to him and put my best interests first.  Just knowing he still desired me eventually became enough. 

At the time, I thought I was getting healthy and fit for myself, and to some degree that was true, all the anger I carried with me literally drove me to lose the weight.  I think that maybe now that my life is more settled,  I don't have the passion or drive to do what I need to do for myself.  I am not angry anymore.  I've grown content with my life, settled myself into a little cocoon of comfort and safety.  At the time, one of the results of my weight loss was that I got much more attention from men.  I was always a little uncomfortable with this.  Part of me was flattered by it, but the other part felt like I was always being looked at or scrutinized.  As cliche as this sounds, I felt like an object.  I don't generally like a lot of attention, and it made me self-conscious.

Obviously, I realize I am not alone in the world with the issues am dealing with.  Oprah has built an empire because there are so many of us with the same problems.  The key, I think, is to find the balance in our lives.  As hard as it may be, I am not ready to give up just yet.  I want to find my way back, but back to a place where I not only feel good about myself, but also have a purpose in my life and a way I can share that purpose with others.

For now, goodbye, and more to come.

Happy Thoughts,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This is me, Part I

I decided, after much thought, that I will detour a bit from my usual style of blog posts and tell you a little about myself.  Although you've heard about my life in small bits, you don't really know who I am or what makes me the person I am today.  If you're not interested, you don't have to read on, but personally I love reading about fellow bloggers, I find people in general, extremely interesting. One of my favorite places are airports.  I love to people watch.

What got me started on all this?  Well, I've been thinking for a week or two now about posting my New Year's Resolutions.  I've been reading some of my favorite blogs, and many of these inspiring ladies have posted publicy what they intend to change about themselves or their habits for the new year.  I think this is such a brave thing to do.  Really, it takes a lot of courage to publicy divulge areas in our life that need changing and what needs to be done about it. 
We might be judged. 
We might fail, and in front of a lot of people. 
This is scary to me.
What I realized is, what really matters is that I am accountable only to me.  I am not perfect, I make mistakes.  Other people even know this.  Can you see where I'm coming from here?  This is something I'm really working on.  So, in the next couple of blog posts, I hope to confess what I want for and from myself in the future, and what I might do to attain it.

As I'm getting older, I realize if I keep putting off what I really want out of my life, it might be too late.  Now is the time.  No more procrastination.

To have a better idea of what makes me, well, me, you have to know a little of my background.  I'll start with my marital status.  I'm a single mom, I've been seperated and now divorced for almost 7 years.  Hard to believe really, a lot  has happened, and it's kind of flown by.  I married my ex when I was just 3 weeks shy of my 20th birthday.  Too young, looking back now, but regardless, I was in LOVE.  One thing I can still say to this day is that I did truly love this man.  It was that crazy kind of young, passionate love, that blocks out all common sense.

There's a lot to tell about this marriage and the 18 years we were together, but I'm just going to say, there were a lot of ups and downs.  I put up with a lot, and in the end, he had an affair, and after  hanging in there and hoping I could save the marriage, we eventually wound up divorced.  At the time, I was devastated.  It was a very difficult time of my life, the worst thing I've ever been through.  There is nothing more hurtful than a betrayal of your marriage.  I am a faithful person, I would have stood by him through anything, and I did, but I learned a lot from this experience.  I learned that sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, it doesn't mean you are meant to stay together.  This was hard for me to accept.  I made a commitment, I honored my marriage vows.  When I love someone, it's with all my  heart.  But, sometimes things just don't work out the way we plan or hope for.  Looking back, I see now that what happened, had to.  I did not have the strength to end this marriage on my own.  I thought love would conquer all.  It's unfortunate I had to go through so much hurt and anguish, but it's made me who I am today,  a much stronger woman.

The most important thing that came out of my marriage, are my two beautiful daughters.  I could never really regret anything I've been through considering the joy my children bring me.

I've learned a lot about myself  these past 6+ years.  I've learned what it means to depend only on myself, that was something I had already been dealing with during my marriage, so the adjustment wasn't as hard as it could have been.  I am not afraid to be alone, either physically or emotionally.  I'm proud of the job I've done raising my daughters.  They are wonderful girls.  I have taught them to be strong and independent, they are sweet and loving as well. 

There were days in the beginning of my seperation, where I felt I just wanted to curl up and die, my heart literally ached.  I worried I could not take care of my girls, but the natural instincts of motherhood prevailed.  I knew that if I was going to emotionally survive this, I had to take care of myself so I could properly take care of my children.  I have struggled with my weight for years, and when you find out your husband is being intimate with another woman, it does terrible things to your self-esteem.  Losing control of my life, I knew that the one thing I could control was my own body and mind.  For the first time in my life, at the age of 36, I walked into a gym.  My two closest friends bought me a gym membership for my birthday, and working out became a part of my life, it really saved me.  At first, I didn't eat because I was literally sick to my stomach most of the time.  I quickly started dropping weight.  Once  I started working out and learning how to be on my own, I started caring about what I was eating and I liked the feeling of getting stronger and building muscle.  In just over a year, I had dropped over 80 lbs.  I felt like a new person.  I still had a broken heart on the inside, but feeling good about  yourself does wonders for your psyche.  Getting compliments on a daily basis was very uplifting.  I joined an online hiking group and almost every other weekend went on hikes and met new people.  I was learning to live outside of my comfort zone, stepping outside "my box".  I started kick-boxing classes at my gym, and got pretty good at it.  It was a tremendous help in getting out the anger and frustration I was experiencing as a result of my failed marriage.  Divorce with children is a difficult thing, it sometimes takes years to work everything out.  I had a fight in me that I had never known before, and it helped me not only lose weight, but also build strength in all areas of my life.  I had to start working full-time, I had to make important decisions about my home and finances all on my own. 

There is a lot more to tell, both good and bad, but for now, I've said enough.  More to come next time...

"Of all things upon earth that bleed and grow,
A herb most bruised is woman."
Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My sweet surprise...

My favorite gift this year for Christmas  was a picture my daughters took of themselves in our backyard.  They set up my oldest daughter's camera to take the picture, they wore matching sweaters and they were sneaky and did the whole thing on Thanksgiving day while we were getting ready to head over to my parents.

They ordered the two best shots online and framed them.  I got a color 8X10 and a black & white 5X7. They even had them made for their grandparents.  This was all done as a surprise.  Well, I did have a clue, but I never peeked, nor did I let on that I knew anything.

I love the picture,  I needed a new picture of both of them.  Not a bad picture either, for a couple of amatuers with a little point and shoot digital camera.

These are the kind of gifts that cost so little, but mean so much. 

My 2nd favorite gift was a web cam for my computer from my parents.  Now I can chat and see my daughter at the same time.  When she visits my sister and nieces on the weekend, I'll get to see them too.  I can't wait.  I miss all these girls.  It's been hard to see them all leave and head back to Southern Cal this past week.

My daughter missed her flight this morning, I feel so bad.  I drove her.  If we had only left 15 minutes sooner.  Who knew the airport would be that packed at 6:25am.  Now I'm home, and she's stuck there on standby with all the other people who missed their flights too.  At least she has company.  I keep trying to remind her it's not that bad, she doesn't have screaming kids in tow, she has no where she has to be today.  Classes don't start until tomorrow.  I'm reminding her to see the glass half full.

Tomorrow is back to work and school.  Having a bit of the Sunday blues.  Gonna try to stay positive.  Keep smiling, look at my picture and remind myself of my blessings. Happy my house is clean and Christmas is packed up for another year.

Have a great week  & Happy Thoughts,