The Adventure Continues

Several years ago I began a blog detailing the daily life of a woman who believes in fairy tales. Mother of three boys, raising a son with autism, wife of a white collar addict, abused. The story was about my life.

Determined to find my fairy tale, I emerged from a pit of darkness, sick, scathed, tormented and broken, to begin anew. Shattered life gathered up in a knapsack made of the torn fabric of my existence, I collided with my destiny.

Soulmate from lifetimes ago, clearly celestially contracted together, I reconnected with my high school best friend, who I should have married the first time. We could not stop the heart-pull bringing us together, so we re-united for the first time. Nothing about our lives together was normal from the very first moment. But neither is our great, great rare and wonderful love.

And life is about living. The good, the bad, and the beautiful. Perhaps we must re-live our darkest tragedies, a do-over of sorts, until we get the lesson. Or maybe we just have really shitty luck. But whatever it is, I am purposed to deliver the messages through the chronicles of my life.

The day-to-day can be full of relevance, mundane to monumental. In the whiniest of posts, eyes can be opened. Seemingly meaningless conversation can stretch the mind to considerable heights. And real life can offer heart-expansion, even in the form of a chocolate chip cookie recipe.

So let me tell you the rest of the story. But from a grown perspective, a broader and evolved soul. Perhaps where I left off. Perhaps where it began again. In the past, in the present…today.

Scroll backwards in time, or begin here where the dream of a fairy tale meets reality.

The adventure continues….tomorrow.

Pause. posted from private blog on 2.25.2012

It’s time to take a break from writing my blog.  I can’t keep up with life…wife, mother, work, finances, emotions, hormones…

Happily married, crazily busy, ridiculously exhausted, and desperately seeking peace, quiet, and time.

Sometimes smiling, snippets of joy, overfilled schedule and a heart full of emotion, I am doing all I can each day to just breathe.

My oldest son was here visiting this week, and each time he is here he delights us with his 18-year-old sense of teenage-boy humor.

In the wee midnight hour after I finally could call it a day, I texted him from my bedroom.  “Hi r u going to bed?”

His reply:

“nope. I’ve decided to take a trip to Buffalo to go midnight skydiving with an exotic Hispanic stripper, while getting obliterated by booze that is not even legal to purchase in this country. Then I’m driving across the Atlantic ocean in my newly leased Prius. So, you don’t have to wait up for me.”

Sounds like a plan.  I’ll be back.

Keep Growing posted on private blog on 2.09.2012

For some, life comes easily, naturally. For others, life just comes, and keeps coming… over and over and over…to teach, to show, to help us grow. I am on the bumpy path of growth. It’s a personal journey, everyone looks at their lives from their own vantage point, from their own frame of reference, from their own heart and mind. My perspective comes from my inner place, guided by a universal “source,” invisible and earthly spiritual guides, angels, and even from those around me.

I never know when or how each day will present my “lessons.” I am conscious of them, try to pay attention to them, and consciously work on them in the moment, regardless of the difficulty. There is discomfort with growth, and it’s in those precise moments that I know I have a choice of how to react, how to respond, how to change.

These moments can come full force like bullets, as is often the case for me, or they can gently wave over me, even through me, acknowledged or not. I try to acknowledge my feelings, good and bad, and honor them…and then change them. I want “good” to grow, so I ask for more. I want “bad” to be better, so I fight my way through them, seeking dissolution and freedom.

My mind has been trained, for years and years. For as long as I can remember I have endured emotional trauma, physical trauma, and ongoing “stress.” I have always tried to process it, but I feel like I have been “doing it wrong.”  Unsure of how to assimilate the emotions that ripple or thrash to the surface, I have only recently become aware of how to try to shift in the moment to a better, softer, calmer space.  And it takes practice.

Then there are those moments where the shifting energy is so great that it is like bumping into an invisible but visible door opened by the universe beckoning me to come through. We never know what will be on the other side of that door, who is there, or what will unfold.

I had the complete joy and privilege this week of reuniting with a childhood friend, who is living the life that I had dreamed of. I say that with no envy, but with admiration, and with awe. I look at her and think about who she is, and how she is able to create the life she wanted, seemingly with ease, determined but confident that she can live her life of her intention, with purpose, and with clarity.  And also, without drama. If drama appears, she morphs it into peaceful opportunity, appropriate choices, and seems to let it flow over her as if it were just a soft rainfall that will pass. Amazing.

Seeing her, hearing her talk about our childhood together, reminding me of who I was then, it opened a door. I can see it right here in front of me, the hindsight view so clear, more clear than ever. I made poor choices earlier in my life. I could sharply see where I went wrong…if I want to look at it as “wrong,” and not just as it was. It feels wrong, I am not my authentic self. I am true to others–their needs, their wants, their demands, even their control. But I am not true to myself by only paying attention to others. I have lost myself through years of the inability to take care of myself on a deeper level.

How did that happen? A traumatic childhood that mostly existed behind the closed doors of our family, I believe has caused me to block out most of my life. It’s almost like amnesia, barely a snippet of any memory can come into focus. My friend’s presence, her detailed, nearly photographic memory of our childhood, made me see more than ever how I can’t see. Almost desperate for memories, I feel unsettled. Listening to her talk about our time together, knowing as she said it she was right, I dug deep trying to remember things.

I want to sit with her and hear about my life growing up. I want to remember. I want to know myself so I can get on with my soul-growth and put the past behind me, clearly.

I can also see plainly how some of my authenticity is coming into focus. My life with my husband, our connection, being together. Without words, we know that our time together is “right.” Can’t explain it, don’t need to. When we stop and listen to ourselves, we know what is right. But the physical reality around what we know to be right and what we can do about it oftentimes does not mesh.

We have 5 children, who we love very much, and for now, our lives are dedicated to raising them. It’s hard, I’m tired. It’s busy, so busy that our needs, both personally and together can be neglected. What we want to do is not compatible with what we can do at this time. It’s so close we can taste it. What we need to do for ourselves is right at the surface, unable to be fully integrated. The door is open but we aren’t sure how to walk through it.

My friend has. And I see her on the other side, reaching out, showing me that I can. But how? What do we do with those in our lives who have control over our ability to move forward for ourselves?  Not just abusive ex-spouses, but jobs that chain us without emotional or financial fulfillment, raising a large family, endless schedules, aging bodies, and spinning minds.

There is so much I want to do–basic, simple, everyday things. I want to read a book, watch a movie, sit down and not worry about all I “have to” do. I want to feel better physically, be able to go out and do things without exhaustion, without limitation, without discomfort. I want to write a book, be creative, experience things. I want to make a difference for me, in my life, and feel good about what I am doing. I want to stay awake and be comfortable both in body and in spirit, without the burden of exhaustion, or financial issues, or overwhelming circumstances surrounding my children. I want to soulfully grow without feeling or working at it, just for a while.  I want to see clearly, in every direction.

I don’t know what is yet to come today. I am paralyzed, momentarily. Grounded in my heart and soul, unsettled in my life. Seeing my friend through the frame, holding my husband’s hand, ready to go through the door. Now what.

How Vogue is Being Old? posted on private blog on 2.06.2012

In the middle of dancing to Madonna’s spectacular super bowl show last night, I got a text from a dear friend, who said, “Do you think Madonna still gets her period?”

Hmmm.  No.  Although she is only 53, according to the internet.

I loved the show.  Never really a huge fan of Madonna, I have just come to appreciate her after seeing what she did for this event of epic proportion. I’m not far off from her age, and she looks good. Fit. Healthy. I think she sounded better than she ever has, assuming that wasn’t lip syncing. Thinking she wasn’t. Her clothes were flattering, songs appropriate, and her dancers and singers-very appropriate.
Does she get her period?  After not having mine for a few years from a necessary surgical procedure to protect my health, I can say, why would she want to?  If she can look like that, dance like that, and…well…be like that, why would she?

This is a tricky age, probably worse than any other “transition-age” I have experienced. I don’t like it. My body is noticeably different. Older. Saggier. Weaker. Tired. And Hormonal. What a nightmare. Last week I was talking to the pharmacist about my “evolving” condition, and told her she better watch out, I was going to leap across the counter and confiscate every hormone pill she had stashed back there.  Progesterone is my new best friend.

I didn’t know how badly our bodies need hormones, that one in particular. Progesterone is responsible for a whole host of things including keeping our heart beating, our blood flowing, our brains functioning, too little can even destroy brain tissue, or cause terrible life-threatening conditions if we are too depleted over time.  Who knew?

That is why I felt so bad. I had 0.4, whatever that means, I just know the 0 part is not good. My doctor gave me one “course,” which is 7 days of pills. I loved it.  Felt better on day two. So much better that I now am desperately needing more and can’t have it until after I go for my follow up appointment in two weeks.  Apparently you can only take it once a month.
I took the bio-identical, in other words, not the synthetic version of progesterone which is supposed to prevent any long term health risks. I’m sure it’s made out of something ridiculous like bee pee. But whatever it is, I like it and I need it.  But I wish I didn’t. Who really wants to get old.

Instead of wondering if Madonna has had plastic surgery, or what keeps her on her toes and at the top of her game, I simply danced to the music with my sons who thought I was ridiculous but played along. They didn’t grow up in the Madonna-era, but they knew the music, sort of. ld

The game?  Oh.  I know what it’s like to try to work as hard as I can to try to stay ahead, but still falling short at the end. That’s my life story.  Period.

Just Another Day posted on private blog on 2.03.2012

Life marches on.  Day in, day out.

Love it all.  Be in the present moment.  Stay neutral and in gratitude.

Trying.  Takes a lot of practice.  Constant dialogue, shifting thoughts, breathing.

So much going on, all around me, all requiring my attention, or demanding it. Work, kids, house, my body.  Write the stories, deadlines are imminent. Four kids, homework, feeding time, shower time, dirty clothes.  Teach, help, intercept, discipline.  Special needs are loud. The other mommy fills the airspace via the children. Food shopping.  Wine shopping.  Meals for 6 and then some.  Run around–in circles it seems…to and from activities, appointments, meetings.

Go through the mail, pay the bills, reply to emails, write more stories for extra freelance work.  Dishes, laundry, vacuum, clean, clean up.  Bathroom pee, around the toilets, all over the floor, toothpaste….hair gel…and gunk. Hang up towels, clothes into the baskets.  Trash…always full.

Piles of shoes covered in mud, floors covered in snow and dirt, coats, hats, backpacks, lunch boxes. Books, ipods, headphones, computers.  Everywhere.  Xbox games, wii games, controllers, socks. NOISE.

Cat hair, cat food, cat box, cat poop. Twice a day.

Theatre.  A whole world of busy drama.  Still too much even at the minimum.

Yoga.  Ok but hurry.  No time.  Blog?  I wish.  But say what?  How hard every day is?

Read? Watch tv? Sit down? STOP?  hahahahaha.  That’s funny.  Crash into bed, exhausted.  Heart beating loudly.  Eyes so tired.  Pain.  Exhaustion. Mind racing. Exhaustion. Sleep interrupted.  Every single night.

What next?  No end in sight.

Go Pats.  Go Giants.

Life in Bubble Wrap posted on private blog on 2.01.2012

I have been remiss in writing daily, or should I say writing my blog daily, as my workload both in and out of the office has picked up. I write almost every day for the newspaper group, for the magazines and supplements we put out, and I’ve reached my writing capacity by the end of the day. This is a good and bad thing, as I have always wanted to have a career in journalism. Timing is everything.

So much has happened. So much always happens. And it’s all too much input. I found myself curled in a ball under the sheets two nights ago pulling the covers up as tight as I could, trying to diffuse all of the exhausting drama that perpetuates through our daily….hourly lives. I crawled into bed early that night because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I reached a breaking point realizing that this is the life we will live until we don’t, if we don’t do something about it.  Short on any option other than my husband signing over his kids to Crazy Woman and moving away, we have no relief. She is getting worse, if that’s even possible. She truly believes that he is still her husband, and acts as if that is so, with him, with the children, in the community, and even with my husband’s family…who has  abandoned him and supports her-our abuser.  It’s debilitating.

We can’t move, my children love it here.  We love it here. We just don’t love her here, her disconnect from reality is more visible every day.  What to do…what to do.

Crawl under the covers and never come out?  Wrap us in bubble wrap until we are free and safe from her?  No. Reach out for help. I called my shaman today, a spiritual guide,  a reader of the universe.

Here’s what I learned, or should I say re-learned, as we all really know this, we just forget to practice it.

  • Wholeness comes through the passage of pain. These are the lessons of this life.
  • I am still in charge of my thoughts, actions, and words. No matter what. No one can control us. Nobody can take our energy and power unless you are willing to give it to them.  Take responsibility for giving it away, then take back your own power.
  • Invite “bad” words, like hate, horrific, bad, awful, and anything descriptively negative to be out of our vocabulary.
  • We must no longer be emotionally charged. We must back out of that in the moment, “unplug” from negatively charged energy if you will, and re-plug in to Source energy–which is all love and light. It is as easy as thinking of ourselves as un-plugging from a light socket.  Watch the negative energy turn off, watch the positive turn on.
  • As you unplug from your emotional charge, watch the “show” around you. Rage–chaos–control–abuse–craziness–watch it like a third party and say, “Wow, isn’t that fascinating the way she is playing out her anger.”
  • And then–ask yourself what part of the show triggered you to be upset. That trigger is showing us something about ourselves.  When we get clear on what words are emotionally charging and triggering, we can fix it inside of us and that’s all we can do.
  • We can’t fix others. No matter what. They are on their own journey and can plug into their own idea of Source, and meet their own soulful needs. It doesn’t have to be our idea of what they need.
  • “Let her do her dance. It’s not our dance. Honor it, but don’t participate in it. Don’t engage in it. Back out of it enough just to witness it.
  • Be open to the possibility that we can easily get out of the endless cycles that repeat themselves in our lives. It’s ok to let go of the ideas that are rooted in fear, or that it’s hard to change. It’s really not. What we resist, persists.
  • Ask yourself, what do I want more of?  In the moments we feel good, ask for more of that. Seek more of that, not what we don’t want.
  • Get out of the Hawk’s mouth and instead have the Hawk’s view.
  • Decide what you want. Don’t worry about how or when to do it, just live it, even when the physical reality around it is hard, or it seems impossible. Step away from whatever blocks it, and remember that is how we move into wholeness.

Ok, time to fix the broken pieces.  I heard it’s easy, and I don’t even need bubble wrap.

Pay Attention from private blog posted on 1.26.2012

It’s been another busy week.  Life is so busy that I can barely sit down to write anymore.  I write at work during the day, not from my heart and soul, but with enough stimulation that my “writing mind” and fingers get their fill.  I am so glad to be a journalist, despite the weakening force of the newspaper business…the “paper” part anyway.  Online content is driving the industry, which still calls for writers to some degree.  Today I have a job, and hopefully I will tomorrow.

I sat in an editorial meeting today, the large conference room filled with people, walls of windows showcasing the gray winter day and falling snow. Lunch was catered–that was a treat. I thought I would become lost in the snowfall, only half-listening to what the publisher was telling us about all of the “new and exciting” company changes, which included “unfortunate restructuring for the bigger picture,” (ie layoffs.) But instead of losing myself in the beauty of the outside scenery, I actively paid attention, and with interest, as if my actual job mattered to the company.
I know it does, or I think it does…but everyone is replaceable, especially with this the worst recession since the great depression.  But I surprised myself at getting sidetracked from my personal business, my mental struggle with our heavy stresses, my nonstop physical strain, and actually cognitively participating in the meeting.

There were a few moments when I had to shift my focus to myself, like when my mother texted that she was in the emergency room, or I had to re-position my blurry eyes that are in the midst of stress-induced corneal problems. But I got right back to business, knowing I could, for just a few minutes, be a bigger part of the whole that didn’t have to do with me, or the craziness in our lives.

I am not sure how to separate myself from that craziness. Work is not much of an escape in general, my mind still goes, my body still struggles, and my unhealed, raw emotions still override my daily life. But today I got a glimpse of what seemed “normal.”  At work, paying attention to work. Watching people…wondering what they were thinking about…wondering if their lives were laden with stresses that could rival a Lifetime movie.  Listening to the publisher delve deeply into the corporate newspaper business, wondering what his life is like outside of the office. Eating my catered lunch, thinking about the people who “worked” to make it.

Always behind on my to-do list, unable to sit down, rest, or find much, if any “me time,” I rarely pay attention to more than the heavy blanket of our many stressors that rests on my shoulders.  But today it fell off for just a little while, and I learned that I can rest my attention on something else. Business as usual?  No, not for me.  It was, for the first time in a long time, a pleasure doing business.

Home Away From Home posted on private blog on 1.23.2012

Last night I sat down and watched my home team win the playoff game.  That was a treat.  Not because I love football, but because for the first time in a couple of years (or longer,) I did something that was not dripping in or surrounded by stress. It felt familiar to me, seeing the team I have watched for years on their home turf…night time shots of the skyline that graced my life for a couple of decades…fans who used to be my “neighbors.”

I do love the life I have with my husband in upstate New York. But I do miss living where I feel like I belong. I have always felt like that about New England, for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in the midwest I was miserable with my surroundings–the landscape, the scenery, the culture, and when we escaped to the shore I felt like I was home. Not so much the beach, but the feeling of being in New England, seemed comforting and natural.

It doesn’t feel like that now. I live in another beautiful area, wine country, lakes, mountains, and beautiful scenery. The culture is good–the people are fine, I seem to fit in, the arts are very accessible, there is plenty to do, to see, and to enjoy.  I love my marriage, my house, my family.  My job is fine.  But it’s not “home.”  I don’t know why, I have everything I would ever need.

My children love living here. They love their schools, their friends, their life, and that makes me so happy. They have a step-father they call their own dad, and siblings who they enjoy.  Their lives were bumpy before they got here, in our other home, and while their lives are bumpy now, it’s not directly at them. But it is at me. My husband’s ex has made this a hostile environment–outside my front door, and inside through his children.  She has turned the community against us with lies and viciousness, her crazy out-of- control anger fueling her outward vendetta against us.  I wonder if this is why it’s been hard for me to feel at home.

I moved away from my New England home once before, to Washington DC, and while that may have been a lovely home and area, my ex, an abusive husband made life difficult. The culture was awful, nothing was accessible, the traffic, the crowds, the diversity to the point that few of my neighbors even spoke English. The scene was picturesque, the  life was unbearable.
That’s not how it is now. This scene is picturesque, life is more than bearable, but the life that is with my family.  My connection to my home now is my husband. Without him I would not be here. He knows that, and he carries a burden because of it.  I can’t explain my love of the area I left…where my heart is. If home is where your heart is and my heart is with him, then I am home.  But I have two homes.  Here with him–who I love, and there–where I love.

The football games last night were symbolic for me.  My home team (New England) is going to the Superbowl, and they are playing against–my home team (New York.)  The state where I lived and love, is playing against the state where I love and live.  Even more ironically, the game will be played where I grew up and did not like. Everything will come full circle for me in this year’s Superbowl, hopefully helping me merge the compartments of my heart that still feel separated.

Home Sweet Home, Home Away from Home, and hopefully soon…simply Welcome Home.

Comfortable in Their Skin posted on private blog on 1.20.2012

I spent the afternoon in a new and fairly upscale tattoo shop for a story. Near our village, the shop is on a quaint corner with an antique-outside and a Pottery Barn inside.  Walls soft pumpkin and deep yellow squash, leather chairs, a big flat screen tv hanging on the wall playing only the time of day in large, hip numbers, almost as if it were art, not a television.  The 1980‘s music rocked through high-end speakers, perfect in sound, bass booming just enough to feel the beat.

It certainly wasn’t the scenery that made me feel like I was in a tattoo parlor, it felt more like an urban bar. I almost craved a cold beer and homemade potato chips. But the owner, mid-30s, black haired, and covered in ink, was hard to stop watching.  His tattoos were everywhere the eyes could see, except his face. One merging into the next, designs unclear, colors running, almost like a rainbow. His hipster jeans that lay low on his waist, black t-shirt, and black boots hid the tattoos he has on the rest of his body that wasn’t exposed.  Although he did pull his jeans down to show us the ink Buddha that covered his left quad. Cool.

His girlfriend-receptionist revealed her pierced and ink’d belly button, a purple floral pattern around her perfectly shaped middle–even after two babies.  But it wasn’t the owners that I went to see.  It was the people he was inking.

The story is about women, Grandmas if you will, over 55, getting tattoos.  When I was there I met two, and one of their grown daughters.  These two lifelong friends were getting matching tattoos on their backs, their fourth!  Both already had them in conspicuous places–ankles, legs, shoulder…and of course cleavage.

These two “regular” Grandmas, both with professional jobs, both with nice clothing, jewelry, manners, and attitudes, let my husband and me spend more than two hours with them while they chose their design, received their permanent markings, and revealed their other proud, colorful body art.  They pulled their clothes up to let us photograph their tattoos for the story.  They laughed, they hugged, they talked, and they posed for more photos.

It was fascinating.  We talked to them at length about why they wanted tattoos, when they got them, how it feels (uncomfortable, but worth it they said.) We learned some things about their personal lives, their backstories, and their dreams. We also learned that they are no different than we are…raising families, working, trying to survive the daily grind.  Treating themselves to tattoos helps them feel good–like a hobby.  They take great pride and pleasure in their artwork, their bodies, and themselves.

That was the difference between us. They feel comfortable in their own skin.  Not perfectly shaped, not thin, not even necessarily pretty by today’s standards, but they felt good about themselves.

I had a hard time imagining what it would take to actually want to do permanent damage to my skin, and pay for it.  A loud, buzzing, piercing needle moves into and through the skin depositing permanent ink. It bleeds, it turns red, it swells, and it hurts, until it heals.  Ouch.

I struggle so much with my body and all of its woes, I wondered as I was sitting there with them, what it would feel like to feel good physically enough to cause pain only to be left with something that they say feels beautiful.  To each his own.

But I did not sit with them in judgment, or look at them any differently than myself. In fact, just the opposite. I enjoyed our conversation, I could relate to them.  Not getting a tattoo, but just living life and appreciating when I find something that is enjoyable for me.

Ironically I felt the same way about the owner.  I appreciated his candor, his willingness to share his story and his enthusiasm. He is fulfilling his dream, and he is proud of himself and his work. His kindness showed through the mask of color that veiled his skin.

Nothing about any of it felt weird. I think that is what surprised me the most. There are stigmas attached to everything, and today I learned that what is behind the stigma, or the image, or the perception, may be someone just like me.  I loved that. It was an enjoyable afternoon of stepping outside of my own vantage point, and seeing people who are more like me than not, in spite of what they may signify.  Awesome.

Some Bags Last Forever posted on private blog 1.18.2012

Last night I told my beloved husband something about myself I had not ever shared with him. It’s not that I preferred to keep it from him, but more like I tried to ignore it since it just meant one more giant piece of baggage he would have to carry on our life-journey together. And I really don’t like this giant bag, so for most of my adult life I have tried to will it away…pretend it was part of my every day life…even thought it was maybe not a “real” and chronic diagnosis.

But it is. And last night in casual conversation I slipped and he learned I have fibromyalgia. After his few minutes of utter surprise, he said it made perfect sense, and he finally could put some of the pieces together that he had questioned about my health.

He said he noticed that I was in pain all the time.  All the time. He said I have told him every day for over a year how bad I have felt. He noticed a mutual friend of ours would say similar things to what I do, and things she mentioned would sound familiar. He was relieved that I told finally told him and sad that I hadn’t early on. His surprise quickly turned to support and I almost felt free–not realizing the toll of keeping my semi-conscious secret to myself.

A lot has been going on with my health, so much of it brought on by chronic stress, so much of it ongoing from his ex, and I haven’t wanted to acknowledge or verbalize the true amount of strain on my body. I don’t like living like this, in pain and tired all the time, and I always hope it will go away.  As much as I’m used to it, it’s never easy to get through the tasks of daily life.

But lately it’s gotten worse without reprieve. As the strain increases from outside, the strain increases on the inside. My inside is in turmoil, and I learned today that it’s not just fibromyalgia that is my nemesis. Blood tests revealed my near total lack of one of the most critical primary hormones in a woman’s body-progesterone. So much so, the doctor told me today I could be the face on the cover of the medical guide. Nearly every single symptom I have had from gall bladder issues, to bile problems, to being possessed by an alien, is related to my lack of progesterone.  Less progesterone also equals more fibromyalgia. Surprise, surprise.

So I am starting hormone replacement therapy today. I don’t have a choice, a body needs progesterone to keep its major systems functioning. Maybe it will help. I am desperate to feel better, so I will take the natural non-synthetic hormone pills and hope for the best.

The haul might be long, but long hauls with my health are not unfamiliar to me. To my husband they are, so I will try to be patient with both of us as we venture through this process to get my body back on track.  Stress and hormones will ebb and flow, but fibromyalgia is forever.  And now I have some help carrying the load.