Hello 2017! 

Happy New Year!  I want to first thank everyone who reads my blog on and off.  I’m really grateful that you do!

January 1st is considered a day of new starts and new beginnings.  People make resolutions to save money, get into shape and find a partner.  It’s great to look into the universe and ask for what you want but you must really believe in it, visualize it.  At times of doubt, reform your positive thoughts, see yourself 20 pounds lighter, see yourself with more money or see yourself holding hands with your love walking in the park.  You can make all the resolutions you want but unless you really believe that it is possible, that it will happen, you will only sabotage yourself.

But enough about resolutions.  I quit making them several years back.  Every day is a new beginning and a new start.  Last night after a dinner out with my husband, we were talking about things like vacation, bucket lists, what we want to accomplish in the new year.  I reflected back ten years ago when my life was quite different.  It only changed when I made up my mind that I could no longer live in this 2nd marriage.  Today my life is much different.  In 2006, I was unhappy and miserable just holding it together.  Day by day, week by week fighting against the negative energy of someone who didn’t have mine or my daughters’ best interests at heart.  Fast forward to today and there is little I need or even want.  If I died tomorrow, there is very little on my bucket list.  I would only regret leaving the people I love.

The whole ‘bucket list’ thing I somewhat understand.  It’s great to motivate you to go out and experience life.  While there is some traveling I want to do and I want to write that best-selling novel, my focus is very small.  I used to have grand ideas and dreams but my mom’s terminal cancer and death put life into a whole different context.  Things I believed were so important whether they were material or intangible, are really not important to me now.  The meaning of life to me is to spend time with the people you love and find ways to show love to others.  It means stop taking crap you don’t have to take (though sometimes you have to do it to make a living), stop doing things you don’t want to do especially social obligations and start doing the things you enjoy the most even if it is not something everyone else finds exciting.

Rather than a bucket list, I want to focus on a gratitude list.  Recently, I started volunteering at a local nursing home and have found it very rewarding so far but also very sobering.  Imagine what it would be like to one day wake up and your life is limited to a small room (possibly shared) and a hallway leading to the dining room/ rec room.  Physically you are no longer able to walk or care for yourself.  All your possessions are now in the room with you and can be placed in a few large boxes.  That isn’t how it ends for everyone, but it is a reminder of what is truly important.  Our health, love and the people we love.

I have so much to be grateful for but it is easy to get into this cycle of feeling sorry for yourself or focusing on what you may have lost.  Grief has a way of pulling you down under murky waters and you can’t see the light.  I’m sure this is normal and it’s hard to live without someone you were very close to that was also a big part of your life.  Eventually you surface and start swimming for shore but the thick water of grief keeps pulling at you, making your progress slow and painful.  Some days the swimming is easier and other days you just want to slip back under the surface and never come back up.  I have no sage advice though time does help but it’s not magic either.  You have to be careful though to not forget your life and the ones who are still here.  My grief became somewhat selfish and self-centered.  I felt bad for myself, my mother is gone, and I kept living in that cloud.

The problem with living that way is you short change the people who need and love you.  You don’t mean to do it, you are lost in your own grief but at some point you have to get back onto shore and walk.  Even though it’s hard, and you would rather just keep swimming in the thick dark lake of grief and sorrow.  You need to look at all that is good in your life right this minute.  For me that is my husband, my daughters, my extended family and friends.   That I live is a beautiful comfortable home, drive a nice vehicle and have all the food and comforts I could ever want.  I can walk, cook and take care of myself.  I can literally walk a few feet, get into my truck and go wherever I’d like.

At least for now.  I am the most blessed woman on the planet even though I’ve lost my mom and other people I love.  Even though I had two shitty marriages and made a bunch of mistakes in my life.  But no matter what, I think being grateful for what you have at that moment is very powerful.  This brings happiness and joy to your life.  I went from nothing, an abusive home, sexual/verbal/emotional abuse, poverty etc. to still lead a good life.  Life may kick you hard but it is up to you where you end up.  You have the choice to be grateful and look ahead at improving your situation or you can sit around feeling sorry for yourself.  Be a victim.  I chose gratitude.  I chose to live the life I want.

This year after living most of my life in dysfunctional chaos, I am going to chose to live in peace.  Even if events are out of my control, I am going to chose a different path.  I’m going to focus on what I have to be grateful for and I’m going to ask for what I want in life.  I want to publish a book.  I want to be fit.

What do you want?  What are you grateful for?  

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!