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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

If I’ve learned one lesson in the last 15 years since I graduated from college and set out on my own, was married and then divorced, and am now on the path to middle age, I have learned that being alone and being lonely are two VERY different concepts.

I struck out for Maryland soon after I graduated from college in upstate New York. I was alone and didn’t know a soul in Maryland but my sense of youthful adventure told me I wouldn’t need anyone, that I had to go live my own story. Of course, a month after moving into my first apartment and starting a job in which I worked almost exclusively with strangers in their 60s, I discovered what it meant to be lonely. I sat on the floor of said apartment and cried for the friends and family that I had left behind – and then I went to the shelter and adopted a rescue cat (who, by the way, lived and loved with me for the next 14 years so I highly recommend those adopted furry friends as a means of combating the blues). I wasn’t mature enough to realize that those times of standing on my own two feet was teaching me how to be independent and strong.

Then I got married – and made the mistake of marrying a man who didn’t share many interests with me. We didn’t spend much time doing things together – except the fire department. We led very separate lives – and I naively congratulated myself that we were one of those amazing modern couples that didn’t need to live in each others’ back pockets. I didn’t know that while I was rounding out my skills in home improvement and gardening, visiting museums and attending cultural events, he was screwing every woman he could find. Eh, life lesson learned on that one. I was often alone and doing things I wanted to be doing and yes, often regretted that he didn’t share any time with me which left me lonely and wanting more.  But I did learn that I don’t need a man to do the things I want to do in this life and I don’t need a man to complete me.

So now, after the divorce and the dating, the readjustment of my whole world view, I spend a lot of time 23131990_10212609777497457_8541975570164519984_nalone. I travel alone, I go to those museums alone, I read and study alone. I can pitch a tent and build a campfire alone – I can fix a toilet or hang a new light fixture alone – I can cook chicken nuggets or a fancy French pastry alone – I can drive 8 hours to see my family alone and I can run a 5K alone. I spend that time alone and quite content with my own company. It’s a vast difference from that lonely girl that moved down here and was so sad and so lost. I now choose to push my own boundaries and discover what I can do by myself. 

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As I sit here on only the 4th day of the New Year, sick as a dog* and watching the snow bluster outside, I am pondering how lovely it would be if you could flip a switch and have something instantly repaired. Somewhat in the vein of that old Staples advertising gimmick with the Easy Button but better – not only because I’m avoiding discussions on buttons at all now that Donald and Kim Jong are using their buttons, but also better because instead of making something “easy,” my switch fixes the situation altogether. So Light Switch Onhere are some situations in which I’d use that switch:

Sick with the Winter Crud? Instant Fix Switch flipped…no more snot dripping, hacking cough, upset tummy, or raging headache!

Running late for work and every little old slow driver decides to drive in front of you and you’ve hit every red light in a 50-mile radius? Instant Fix Switch flipped….you’re teleported directly to your destination and no more commuter stress!

Have a house full of Christmas decorations, indoors and out, and you just can’t find the New Years’ gumption to clean it all up and pack it away? Instant Fix Switch flipped…all of the sparkle and glitter is packed and stowed away for next year’s festivities!

Don’t know what to make for dinner? Running short on groceries in the house? Instant Fix Switch flipped…dinner of any culinary style prepped, ready, and on the table – and for free!

Grumpy coworker or grouchy spouse who just can’t seem to find the right side of the bed to wake up on? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and only the good qualities and happy elements of their personalities are present and accounted for!

Coffee pot running slow or the line at the local Dunkin’ too long to provide the morning brew? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and an automatically-refilling mug will always have that life-saving caffeinated goodness on hand!

Ran out of your stash of New York State and Pennsylvania wines (which, incidentally, are the best in the world, none of those expensive, overrated California and French wines for me)? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and a Star Trek Enterprise-style portal installed in your wall can magically produce red or white nectar upon demand at any time!

Dust bunnies under the bed or a disorganized desk in need of serious filing? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and the house automatically cleans and organizes to a sparkling Better Homes & Gardens standard!

Have picked up a few extra pounds from too much Thanksgiving pies or Christmas cookies? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and you’re a svelte size 6 at all times, able to put on any outfit you wish without worrying about which bulge is showing!

Oh, the possibilities are endless for what that handy Instant Fix Switch could do to relieve the stress of everyday life. Not to mention what amazing things it could do for the political, economic, environmental, and social crises that occur in our world! Could one of those wonderful California tech geeks please work on developing the technology for the Instant Fix Switch?! I promise I won’t insult your wine anymore if you can invent this for me and help fix the world….?

 

 

*[note to self: remember to research where that phrase comes from because, really, I can guarantee you dogs don’t get any sicker than humans, so why are they the species of choice for this phrase?]

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In the final scene of It’s A Wonderful Life, as George Bailey’s friends and family surround no-man-is-a-failure.jpghim, the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are sung while George receives his final blessing from Clarence in the form of an inscription in the front of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This scene manages to make me cry every time despite the fact that I’ve seen the movie more times than I should admit – but it also reminds me every year to take a moment to be thankful for those friends that have walked my journey with me.

As the final hours of 2017 wind down, I can’t help but feel a wave of nostalgia for all of the amazing memories that I have made this year with the people that I love. I’m sad to see the old year go because it was a wonderful life:

  • I got to work side by side with both brother firemen and a veterinary medical staff that I admire tremendously. Our days can be challenging and stressful and difficult but how much easier they are with friends.
  • I spent countless hours in the saddle with my Gettysburg stable family and shared laughs over wheelbarrows of manure. That wonderful group of people and horses, along with my beloved camping weekends, kept me sane in a world of madness.
  • I shared wine dinners with one of my ‘sisters’ and finally got to catch up over Christmas cookies with my other ‘sister’. I have known these ladies for almost 20 years and what blessings they are to me!
  • I basked in the Mexican sunshine and toasted with tequila and zoomed in golf carts over foreign lands with our traveling buddies – Straight Outta Ingleside.
  • I shared laughs over simple lunches and shopping trips and pool time with some of my other “framily” and I enjoyed more moments with my mom and dad and brother this year than I have in many years – and it was wonderful.
  • We added a new 4-legged member to our family – ‘Pete Longstreet’ came into our lives as a rescue and we needed him as much as he needed us. And I made the choice to share the everyday ups and downs with a man who is also my best friend.

I treasured thousands of new moments with old friends and made new friends and newer memories while traveling this crazy path called my life. Old acquaintances and auld lang syne (“old times”), new moments and exciting adventures. 2017 was a wonderful year, may 2018 be even better…

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

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Christmas Eve is by far my favorite moment in the year, a time when my family has always gathered together to celebrate our faith and our traditions. Tonight is the blessed moment in my calendar year when I can reconnect to my beliefs, to celebrate that humble baby in the manger, to look forward to a wonderful New Year while looking back on the blessings of the past year.

It’s the moment when, at the end of our worship service, the candles are lit and the strains of “Silent Night” ring out through the church. Christian voices, young and old, candlelightaround the world are joining in song to invite the magic of Christmas into their lives. I sit in my pew in the silent night to quiet my mind, to allow God back in, to give myself peace, to allow His voice to be heard. That moment in time is so beautiful that I am usually brought to tears – sometimes in sadness for the things that have been lost, sometimes in hope that better things are coming, sometimes with a profound joy for the blessings in my life. I pray in that moment for quiet, for peace, for forgiveness, for happiness.

Merry Christmas to all of my Christian friends on this most sacred of nights. To all of my friends of other beliefs, I wish you a warm winter’s night with your families. And to ALL of my friends, near and far, may your night be filled with magic and peace and love.

“Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright.”

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While I shamefacedly admit that it has been more than 5 years since I last posted, I must also report that those 5 years have been full of personal growth, mental breakdowns, massive life changes and the journey to real adulthood.

As Miranda Lambert wrote, “I can judge the cover ’cause I wrote the book, On losing sleep and gaining weight, On pain and shame and crazy trains.”

When I first started putting my thoughts up here, it was because I was going through an ugly divorce. I needed somewhere to vent, to let out the anger and bitterness and sense of betrayal and loss. Looking back, I regret that I unleashed some of those negative moments on the world – but if I hadn’t have let them out, I very probably would have imploded.

Then, as I navigated the path of being newly single, the blog turned into simply a place to have someone listen to me and see the random and quirky ways in which my mind turns. Meeting new people and opening my mind up after your world turns upside down is an adventure.561897_10201061746363896_1110025133_n

And now? Life has settled for me. I have a better handle on who I am and what I want out of life. I have come to accept that ugly phase of my life and to use it to try to grow into a better person. I am stronger, I am happier, I have opened my life up to new adventures.

So welcome back to my world, hopefully it’s a quieter place…

 

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I have spent the better part of the last 2 years thinking that I am now permanently damaged goods. Besides the constant sense of bitterness and the fragile state of my already-heavily-damaged ego, I have questioned if these experiences have made me unfit for future human relationships. Forget about the male-female romantic type of relationships (of which I fear I am permanently unfit) but even just the simple human interactions. What happens if I am too screwed up to ever have a normal friendship again??

If you had asked me 10 years ago where I envisioned my life would be at this juncture, you can bet your sweet bippy that it never would have occurred to me that I would be more lost than I was at 18 – rootless and struggling with my faith, my self-esteem, and my future – I thought I had outgrown these sorts of emotions. So now I feel that I am too messed up, too crazy, too jaded, too broken – damaged goods.

So last night, in spending some time with my nearly-perfect friend (who will be known here only as “The B”) I discovered that I am not alone in the feeling of being ‘damaged.’ “The B”  is tall, gorgeous, outgoing, funny, intelligent and charismatic – and yet feels that she isn’t good enough. We actually spent quite a bit of the evening arguing over who is crazier, more angry, and/or more flawed. How is that a woman who is almost the perfect ideal of a female in current American society share the same sense of inadequacy that I have? “The B” is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up – how can SHE feel that she’s as crazy as I am?!

Is it a woman thing? Are we, as females, programmed to feel inadequate in some way at all times in our lives? I don’t think that’s exclusively the answer – although I DO believe that females specialize in feeling insecure and flawed. But I know many men who suffer from some of the same feelings that we have, especially the men who have been through shattering divorces or other life-altering events. These men are normal, everyday guys who have managed (just like “The B” and I) to get out of bed and face each new day. So, no, I don’t think it’s just ‘a woman thing’ – I actually think it’s more widespread than that.

My evening with “The B” has helped me to realize something very important – we are ALL damaged goods! There is not a single person, no matter how good it looks like they may have it in life, that is truly content with who they are. Maybe it’s trauma (emotional or physical) that has damaged someone, maybe it’s simply born in them – but we ALL feel that we have flaws. I am so glad to have company in the Damaged Goods area of the department store of life! Does it make me a bad person to rejoice in the company I keep?? I have truly wonderful friends that have helped me to realize that they too struggle with the damages in their lives – and if they can survive, so can I!

So, to”The B” I send the assurance that we are both crazier than hell, totally screwed up, and yet totally lovable!! And we are not alone – there are a lot of us that are Damaged Goods – and we should stand proud!

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A true child of the ’80’s am I, raised on the wisdom of sitcoms and television dramas. I admit especially to being a M*A*S*H-aholic. Back in its heyday, my big brother watched it (he being the older, wiser, and more worldly of the two of us) and I admit now to an obsessive need to view the marathons on TVLand and Hallmark Channel every chance I get. Many an important life lesson was learned from that show (along with The Golden Girls) and even now I find that the TV shows of my childhood are still shaping my values.

The episode I was watching earlier tonight was the pen pal letters episode – Hawkeye’s friend back home gets her elementary school students in Crabapple Cove, Maine to write letters to the personnel of the 4077th. In the midst of writing back to the children and amongst the amusing and mundane anecdotes that the staff chooses to tell the kids about, there are several poignant moments in which the staff is forced to reexamine their role in the war – and in life. One of the students writes a letter that Hawkeye must answer in which the student says he hates the doctors because they fixed up his brother and sent him back into combat in which he was subsequently killed. As Hawkeye is pondering how to answer this child, a child is brought in from a local orphanage who has a severe brain injury – and the priest who runs the orphanage prays “Dear God, I thank you for providing….to have them here in this place at this time is truly a sign of Your providence.”  All of a sudden, Hawkeye knows what to write to the poor young student back home, full of so much anger: “I understand your feelings. Sometimes I hate myself for being here. But once in a while, in the midst of this insanity, a very small event can make my being here seem almost bearable.”

I had seen this episode at least 5 times before and yet this was the first time that this whole exchange made me stop and go hmmmm….

I am a woman of strong faith. I have stated over and over and over again that I am sure God has a plan for me, that the struggles and pain that I have suffered for the last 10 years have not been in vain. I constantly recite the AA mantra “Let go and let God.” Despite my faith, I admit that I have often questioned why God has put me in this situation, given me this kind of pain.

Now, thanks to a television show (geez, welcome to religion in America), I have a whole new way of looking at things. Because of God’s plan, I was put here at this moment in time in this particular geographical location for a purpose. Divine providence has brought me to this moment in my life with my own special brand of emotional baggage for a purpose. And, much like Hawkeye, I don’t quite know yet what that purpose is – but I have a strong faith that my small event is coming, that event which will make it all clear.  I have only to wait and to trust in the Lord and to believe that my time is coming. I will let you know when that time comes. In the meantime, I can only hope that I will become Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan when I grow up. But that’s a topic for another day.

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