U-hauls, Empty Nest (Sorta), Food Journals and Next Chapters…

A lot has happened since my last blog post.  Yesterday, I moved my two oldest daughters into the house my oldest bought.  Her first house!  I’m so excited for her (and a little melancholy) and immensely proud of her.  This is a house that she bought all by herself by saving up for a long time to build up her savings.  When I was driving a truck load over to her new house, I started thinking of myself at that age, 25 almost 26.  At her age, I had been married for 5 years and was pregnant with my 3rd child and we had just moved into our first house that we bought.  

The thing is, back then, I’d never thought about buying my own house.  You were programmed to think that you went to school, got married (maybe college) and then the house came.  At least in my family.  While the 1970s still encompassed women’s liberation from the 1960’s, even in the mid-late 1980’s when I was a teenager, the old ways still clung.  Though I was an independent person to an extent, it never dawned on me to buy my own house because very few women I knew had done so unless they were divorced or “weird”.  Fast forward 21 years and here is my daughter buying her own house.  And watching the social media feeds, so are a lot of people her age, male or female without the trappings of having to get married first.  

Had I been in a better situation had I just worked and bought my own place, rather than marrying someone that I did not really want to marry?  I think so though I would not have the great daughters I have today.  A lot of it has to do with the Christianity that I was familiar with growing up.  The male was the head of the household and the female more subservient.  Which I am not saying is good or bad, but maybe it just wasn’t the only way.  I think of the potential in life that I had not developed because I was stunted by a patriarchal mindset.  Not blaming anyone, or being a victim, but you are influenced by those ideals swirling around you.  It simply had not dawned on me to just focus on my own education and career like my daughter has done.  Then buy my own house and when love arrives in your life, you don’t feel dependent on that person.  You know you can take care of yourself which is what I really pushed for with my daughters, as it is miserable to believe that you are dependent on another person for your life.   

Being independent means you have to face the fact that you are in charge of your own failures and successes but that is the reality of life.  I spent a good part of my life feeling that I needed someone else to help me achieve my goals.  Someone like a parent, a boyfriend or a spouse.  But they weren’t really in charge of my life the way I depended on them.  I was so miserable and unhappy tying my future and my goals to someone all the time.  Not that you don’t have joint goals with your spouse but when you let go of your individual goals, the things that make you happiest, you are not living authentically.  Luckily, I have a husband now who doesn’t want to control every little thing in my life and he actually steps back and forces me to do it on my own sometimes.  Which is good, because I’ve spent way too much time in the shadows.  My former spouse’s shadows, my mom’s shadow, etc.  I reached a point in my life when all that had faded away and I was left standing there thinking, OMG, who am I? 

That’s the problem with hanging your shingle on someone else and not yourself.  You lose yourself and who you are or in my case, maybe I never really took the time to figure out who that was or I thought I knew already.  And that doesn’t mean you can’t be in a relationship to get there either.  You can, you just have to pick a relationship with mutual respect and where each or one partner doesn’t want to control the other.  Yes, it’s scary when you do something on your own especially if it’s important to you.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have a good support system or people who encourage you but you realize that you are the one driving the bus so to speak.  I’m 46 years old and this is finally dawning on me.  That my fear and lack of self-confidence kept me from going after what I loved.  Instead, I stood by my man (which for 18 years of my life was disastrous) and never really did enough for myself.  I hid behind other people.  It was easier that way.   Well nothing good ever comes easy.

As my house empties a bit, I am now sitting in what once was my middle daughter’s bedroom that overnight became my office.  A place to write and work on projects where I can focus and fight my urge to be up cleaning and so on.  I’m a bit ADD that way.   in a way I was sad they left, but proud at the same time.  LIke any change, it takes me a little to adjust to it but I usually make the best of it all.  in a way, it is exciting because I can focus more on my goals.  I miss my daughter a little but she’s just ten miles away and having my own “room” for the first time in 26 years is actually nice.  I woke up this morning and was running different room configurations through my head.    

On the food journal note, yesterday marked my monthly measurement milestone.  I have lost 9 pounds and 6.5 inches (8 different measurements).  It’s been hard to stay focused on journaling.  Many days I want to blow it off but I’m forcing myself to stick with it for 3 months minimum.  I was excited yesterday by the loss of inches because my weight fluctuates.  It can go up and down 5 lbs in a day or two.  Weight isn’t the best method for me, mostly I am doing it more on a scientific outlook but the measurements give me my actual progress.  That and how I feel.   I feel really great inside and out so that is worth the hassle of logging everything I eat.  Three months is what they say you need to create or break a habit.  So I’m going at least 3 months on this food journal journey.  We will see how I feel when I reach that point in February on my oldest’s 26th birthday! 

Well, I need to close as I am having my first volunteer day at the local nursing home.  Im a little nervous but I always am when it ones to something new.  I’m excited about the fact the Winter Solstice has passed and the days will start getting longer.  I’m excited for 2017 and what all it can bring.   I’m excited for the next chapter of my life.  Cheers!

Chasing Ghosts…

I hate moving.  I really, really hate moving and in fact I haven’t moved for fifteen years.  As a kid, my parents moved us every few years, my father in chase of the next big thing certain that life would be better here or there.  However, moving did not prove to be the magic bullet to overcome my father’s demons and alcoholism.  Then I married and my first husband was much like my father leading us to move nine times in seven years.  When I finally bought my current house in 2000, I was done with moving.  So done in fact that when my current husband brought up moving out of town, I was adamantly against it.  I had moved enough.

Moving would cost us so much more money, a bigger house payment, we would have to sell our current home that still needed some work to make it more marketable.  Plus there are all these years of accumulating things.  My attic, basement and house are stuffed full of just general buying shit, inheriting more shit and just plain hoarding things I think I may use one day.  As soon as we started looking at homes, we started the process of cleaning out the house.  We are now on a first name basis with the volunteers at the mercy mission and they are always grateful for everything we give which makes me feel good.

The other morning, I was up early as my husband goes to work at 0530 on his day shifts and I could not go back to sleep.  I got something in my head where I needed a tape measure except they were all in the garage which is at the end of our lot and not attached to the house.  So I slipped on some flip flops and slipped out into the dark cool morning to retrieve the tool.  There was a quarter of a moon in the west sky and the faint light of the courthouse clock below the moon.  I stood there for a moment and was overtaken by memories of my life as it has passed since I moved into this house.

I married, divorced and remarried while living under its roof.  For eight years I raised my two step-children full-time.  My girls finished growing up here.  Three high school graduations, one college graduation, numerous proms and homecomings.  A swingset that evolved into a firepit area.  Trees that have matured where there had been few when I moved in.  Egg hunts, barbeques, decorating for Christmas, all the plants I bought with my mom or she bought for me as well as hundreds of hours and dollars spent in my gardens.  A messy divorce, a home break in and many years of a bad marriage that finally ended in 2008.  I stood there next to the lamppost with the autumn clematis from my mom’s yard snaking up the black metal pole nearly ready to bloom its white star flowers and felt the ghosts of my former life dancing around me.

Chilled, I forced myself out of paralysis and into the garage, snatched the tape measure and all but ran back into the house, turning on the alarm behind me as if it was a protection against the past.  My life has changed drastically in fifteen years and stayed much the same as well.  I am on the cusp of a new chapter of my life, the one they call the empty nest (though I hate that term).  My second act which is how I prefer to see middle-age.  Everything is changing and as I snuggled back under my blankets for a moment before the alarm would remind me I ned to get ready for work, I was grateful that my husband pushed to move.

One of his main points for wanting to move was there were too many memories in our house, most were good but for me, since he had only lived there seven of the fifteen years, he knew I had a bad marriage and that still hung over the house.  After losing my mom, I was holding onto everything familiar and safe so he had his work cut out for him.  But he was right, we need a new, fresh start.  A place where this next chapter of our life can unfold.  Our closest neighbors are 0.20 miles (I know because I measured it with my truck odometer) to either side with no one behind or across from us.  At least for now.  The sky is open and we can watch the sunrises and sunsets from our back yard.  No more peering between houses or building to watch the sun go down.  It is quiet and peaceful.  Healing I think.

I have no idea what the next chapter of my life will bring.  I plan on when things settle down to start writing more seriously, exploring entrepreneur ideas for side businesses as I always loved working for myself.  Find more ways to show love.  Or just read a book curled up in my recliner while overlooking the quiet fields.  We can start new family traditions, have more space, the kids have room to entertain their friends or boyfriends without all of us having to be on top of each other.  Maybe I will find a quiet nook to write.

Sometimes we have a tendency to burrow into what is comfortable because leaving is too much work.  It’s easier to stay put, stay where we are.  But I am glad my husband pulled me, albeit kicking and screaming, out of my quiet safe burrow.  I needed to be out in the light again, pursue a dream that I had many years ago of owning a colonial home out in the country.  Reminded me that we can own nice things, not that my current house isn’t nice but we really needed more space for years.  I was too afraid of going into to debt to take the risk of owning my “dream” home.  But then I also remembered thinking when my mom was dying, why didn’t she spend some of this money she had saved and saved?  You definitely can’t take it with you.  

So I took the leap of faith that my financial world won’t come crumbling down around me with a bigger house payment and signed the papers for a new house.  I think sometimes we reach points in our life where we need a big change to shake things up, to get us cleaning out the clutter and in a way banishing the old ghosts of our former life.  Ghosts that chase you down the sidewalk early in the morning in the moonlight, the ones you push back into your subconscious as you try and forget.   Or you can be bold and take a new step, start a new chapter, move into a new house, start a new career, whatever it is that speaks to you personally.  

Change isn’t always bad.  Sometimes it’s just, well, necessary.  You come to a fork in the river and you pick a new direction. Here’s to moving… God help me, I own a lot of shit!