Love Wins in The End

This is a story of a loving man, wonderful father, kind person, and gentle soul. It’s a story about tragedy, about pain, and about the unpredictability of people and of life. No one escapes their own reality, it’s how they face it that matters.

Sir Husband just received the official court papers allowing his scary Mrs. Ex to move their children far, far away with her. There are no words to describe how it feels to be alienated from your children. It’s heartbreaking for everyone, especially the children. They live a parallel life between their longing for their father and their obligation to their mother – innocent captives of the hidden realities of her tortured soul.

But let’s back up. A long time ago a man married a woman he did not love, out of friendly obligation. He did not listen to his intuition, or follow his heart, or walk his own path. And he tried to live the life he built for himself in spite of it. He tried to sustain an unhappy existence. But to live in misery out of obligation strangles the spirit. He searched for what his soul, all souls long for. Love. Truth. Peace. Joy.

So he untangled his unhappy heart, and with kindness, consideration, and truth, he left his marriage. But no one could have prepared for what happened next – an unleashing of Mrs. Ex’s private, hidden, personal demons so great, that survival seemed impossible. For all of us.

It’s indescribable to be the target of someone’s lies so much so that you are jettisoned from your own life. To be so psychologically abused and emotionally blackmailed that you become paralyzed. To watch children drown in the misery of a mother’s vendetta – cunning, deceitful, manipulative, and complex.

He held the crisp, white court papers in his hands, silent, and still. A tragedy for him and for others forced to re-work their lives from the hateful hands of another. I watch him try to endure the pain. It’s always there, just beneath the surface. He has not done anything wrong except love his children but not his ex-wife.

The children love their father and our family and are fully aware of what is going on. But they can’t do anything about it. They are not strong enough to speak up, and when they try, there are consequences. They are not allowed to disappoint their mother under any circumstances. They talk about it with us when they are able, which isn’t often.

You really cannot compete with or fix someone’s actions that seem so insane and incredibly unnecessary. The alternatives to fight it are devastating, on every level. So you get to the point that you just have to survive it. Loss. Hurt. Ongoing evil pointed in your direction is grueling. The struggle to keep viable, alive, functioning, and thriving after so much loss is real. Imagine how the children feel, it doesn’t feel right or comfortable. She won’t even let them visit.

So here we are.

His story…the one I watch and feel and live with him, now offers powerful teachings.

Stay energized around life no matter what…   Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, and your soul’s deepest callings…   Keep creating…   Keep caring…   Keep breathing.

Remind yourself every day to keep going, shut out the pain, and open up to peace. What we have lived is tragic. The children are alive, but their life with their father, and their step family, has been stolen.

We don’t always understand life. We can’t always fix it or control it. We can’t always fight someone else’s demons, even when they manifest against us.

Holding a piece of paper that changes the lives of a family forever, Sir Husband knows that she can take away the children, but she can never take away the love we share and have in our hearts – something she knows nothing about. Perhaps one day, she will.

Our Ferry Tale

In keeping with the life is an adventure motto, we decided to hop a ferry with the family and head to a nearby coastal island. It’s a 20 minute boat ride to the little getaway spanning a mile by two. Easily walkable, a couple of restaurants, some artists, and beaches hiding sea glass, we love it. It was late afternoon, dinner and sunset sounded great.

While we waited for the ferry they were sound checking for a concert on the pier that night. Some country guy, Gary Allen. I’m a jazz gal so don’t know his music, but we’d soon find out. We sat on the long benches at the terminal right next to the pier and listened to people chat, excited to go to the concert. County music fans are a talkative, happy bunch. Boat whistles were blowing amidst bass guitars and drums doing their thing.

I was happy to have my boys enjoying the scene. Teenagers are picky, and we never know when ours will get grumpy. It’s been awesome having the college one home, but it’s also been weird. Caught between the mom desire to please, the boy’s staunch independence, business as usual while trying to create a vacation-type of setting, I’m wiped. The semi-empty nest situation is interesting. This gap between childhood and adulthood looms, and there’s a learning curve. But everybody wanted to go to the island.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a boat rocking under your feet to put things in perspective. It’s absolutely awesome. Being one with the sea, the air, the view is amazing. Even the smell is incredible. The top deck of the ferry was vacant, it’s still quite chilly on the water. We stood in a row, all four of us along the front edge just left of the captain. Nobody said a word, we didn’t have to.

Our life is always rocking. But in those few minutes nothing mattered. Nothing.  For any of us. Sir Husband silently took photos over the rails. The teenagers absorbed the experience. I watched my family.

“I’m going to buy a boat,” my middle son said. “And a house on the water.”

Yes. Do that.

A Moment’s Peace

We snuck in a seaside adventure today, a short drive along the coast landing at a lobster shack that sits literally in the ocean on a rocky point. It was incredible – sunny blue sky, warm breeze, giant seagulls, and an ocean view you only hope for on vacation, but we live here.

As we waited for our lobster rolls and we were casually talking about nothing, my son said he sees my blog posts pop into in his Facebook feed.

“I probably should read this,” he said he thinks to himself when he sees the daily post. “But why? I LIVE this.”

Yea. Good point. Well he did live it, and now he’s removed, at college several hours by car and two pretty large states between us. We miss him, but he doesn’t miss the stress. Layer upon layer, year after year, same players, same stuck patterns, same desperation to get the turmoil off our backs and out of our lives.

Then he clarified. “Actually, I just live every day.”

I think I forgot what that means, or did I even ever know. Because it hasn’t quit. Sir Husband and I feel like the sane leaders of a crazy tribe. Some rely on us for financial support and emotional guidance. Some for basic necessities like shelter and food. And some to use as lightening rods for their own troubles. Our life is entangled with people and situations that pull us in a thousand different directions, levels of intensity varying by degrees of their issues in the moment.

It really never stops, and it’s exhausting. But we are connected by default to the people in our orbit, and the reality comes with responsibilities.

We try to take care of the things we can. We try to be a family, we try to be good parents, we try to live a normal life, but it’s more like a free-for-all. It’s like an un-declared competition between members of the tribe, all fighting for control of their own priorities, while we fight for peace, and our sanity.

We sat at a table on the pier and finished our lunch. Fishing boats came in and out of the inlet, fishermen tossing buckets and traps on the dock. The gulls squawked loudly to each other, each vying for dropped pieces of fish. The buoy bells rang in the distance, dark blue waves sprayed against the rocks.  Ahhh.

This must be what it feels like to “just live.”  More please.

The Mystery of Mercury

Even if you are not a believer in the school of Universal philosophies or metaphysical laws, you may be a believer in the astrological and scientific aspect of Mercury Retrograde. This tri-annual, three-week period gives going with the flow a whole new meaning.

Maybe in the past couple of days you have noticed random blips in technology, electronics going haywire, phone lines disrupted, or travel tangled. The people around you may be freaking you out and you aren’t sure why. Maybe it’s subtle, maybe it’s not. Buttons are pushed, tempers flare, gaps in communication are visible. Any contracts or business deals get mysteriously confusing? Nobody is thinking clearly, and if life seems simply jumbled…

Welcome to Mercury retrograde.

This astrological phenomenon is when, by all measurable standards, the planet Mercury slows down, and from our earthly view, appears to be spinning backwards in the sky. It’s not, but for all practical purposes it is. The illusion of backwards motion, butting against the forward motion of our every day lives, messes with the synapses in our brains. Google it if you are skeptical, but buckle your seatbelt. When you open the channels, you may be in for a bumpy ride.

Many things fall out of sorts during Mercury retrograde, out of alignment. It’s a confusing blip in time, when your normal m.o. becomes abnormal for no reason. Believe it or not, human life ebbs and flows along with the planets. And everything under the sun as they say, is impacted.

In astrology, the planet Mercury governs truth, communication, thought processes and travel. Its retrograde periods offer us a time to slow down, retreat, review, and renew. It’s a time to re-align. Look at the past, and check out what we’ve learned. It’s the time to re-shape and recommit, so when Mercury adjusts itself and goes direct, we will be on a better and brighter track.

Whatever. It is really survival of the fittest.

I’ve experienced Mercury retrograde chaos firsthand for a number of years. But I decided to go into this round differently. I wanted to be more objective, less hung up on the hype, flip it around to think of it in a positive way. Hey, I could use some retreating, some time away from time, a break from forward movement. This is a time to assess ourselves intellectually and emotionally.

That lasted two days. And today I can feel it. No need to list the issues…blog avatars disappearing despite proper coding…banks screwing up simple credit card transactions…iPhone cord smoking at the outlet…the wrong eye glasses arriving to the optometrist…straight A student son not passing a simple test, only to learn it was not his error…photographs for work lost in the mail…UPS delivering our box to a house across town…and that is just today.  Oh sure this may seem like nothing, but it’s not nothing. It’s Mercury retrograde. And we’ve got three full weeks of it.

Still unsure? How about these historical happenings during other Mercury retrograde periods:

1906 – San Francisco earthquake.

1912 – The Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland.

1959 – Tibetan revolt against Chinese; Dalai Lama fled to India; 15,000 Tibetans deported to labor camps.

1966 – Watts riots in Los Angeles erupted again.

1966 – Gemini 8 astronauts lose control and go down the day after successful first docking of orbiting spacecraft.

1972 – General Motors recalled 130,000 1972 model cars.

1978 – First-ever mix-up in awarding the Pulitzer Prize to the wrong person.

What is the message? Patience is a virtue? Stay inside and hide? Don’t talk to anyone, let alone strangers? Do nothing and pretend it’s business and life as usual when there is evidence to the contrary?

I’m a believer. So if you dare, come on over to the dark side, where mystery prevails and magic is needed, and see for yourself.

Tis the Season

With the glorious start of summer now upon us, I thought it in our best interest to find a snowblower. Last winter Sir Husband muscled up and shoveled, by hand, the thousand feet of snow we had. He’s in some sort of contest with himself to be the only person in our neighborhood without a gas-powered mighty machine to ease the strain of blizzard piled on blizzard. He says he’s a champion. I say, he’s stubborn and maybe even silly….he is not in his 20s anymore.

All winter we went back and forth, I chanted the benefits of having a snowblower, including lessening his chance of dropping dead while shoveling (hey it happens.) He sang his own praises of virile strength and manliness. Because I like to validate and honor his masculinity, I tried to keep my nagging about it to myself. Until yesterday, when I found one on our town’s online yard sale.

First of all, an online yard sale is awesome. We just learned about it and signed up last week. Why take the trouble of going from yard to yard, garage to garage, trouncing over people to stake a claim on the perfect used item. You have to arrive early, stay late, bicker over price, and gather some sweat on your brow. We actually love that. But now we can shop from the comfort of our own homes, 24/7. And people do post items for sale every, single day. From the tiniest cracked tea cup, to unworn underwear, to their yard – literally. And yesterday, a snowblower.

I tried to stay cool about it as I was perusing. “Oh, hmmm,” I said casually from my comfy spot on the big, brown couch, laptop on my lap.

This was meant to be I thought. It is off-season. Barely used. Half price. And nobody else had bid on it. I will catch Sir H off guard, when he’s not thinking about snow. He did just get a new grill, his focus is surely on that. I can slip the snowblower in unnoticed.

“What did you find?” he asked while flipping TV channels.

“Oh nothing really. Just a barely used snowblower. You know, for next winter.”

Out came the man-growling, chest-thumping, “I do not need one of those because I am man without machine” response. Seriously what man does not want his wife to shop for toys for him. This is getting comical. I don’t understand. Isn’t this like having a vacuum for outside?

I finally eeked a half-ok, “fine, we will go look at it,” out of him, and excitedly contacted the seller. Why don’t you need it? I asked her. We live in the Eastern version of the Alaskan frontier.

Yes HER. SHE is selling the snowblower, along with a lot of other outside man-gadgets. “Moving to a condo,” she said. Oh. She gave me her husband’s name and number and told me to have my husband come by to look at it.

He did.

And now it’s in our garage.

Release Your Inner Woo

Here is how the conversation began.

Mom, when you were in college what kind of beer did you drink?  asks my son who just came home from his freshman year.

I was more of a wine cooler kind of gal. I mean I didn’t drink… I stated.

Why don’t you tell your boy some of the stories?  Sir Husband says with a smirk and a smile.

The stories will be embellished with sweetness and decency, I say with certainty. I behaved. I didn’t drink, I studied, and I got good grades.

Bursts of laughter from both of them filled the air. Sir Husband was there for some of it…he remembers.

No Mom, really. I bet you are a Woo Girl. I bet you jumped in whatever dude’s convertible you could with a beer in your hand, cracked it open, sat on top of the seat and screamed WOOOOOOO as he drove. Seriously Mom. You are a Woo Girl. I know you are.

Well, Sir H did have a convertible. And I did ride in it. And maybe there was a keg in the trunk. Maybe.

You know how I know Mom? When I text you and I tell you what I’m doing at college, you say “woo!” Like every time. Mom’s a Woo Girl.

I think I am.  And she is apparently visible to her kid.

We had an awesome day. For this traditional first day of beach season, we headed to a nearby coastal favorite. This one has character, and that’s an understatement. It’s a beautiful sandy beach with a massive pier, surrounded by uber schmalz. Arcades, carnival rides, a giant merry-go-round, pizza joints, beach bum bars, beer beer beer, music, and tatoo’d beach goers. The smell of fried food pummels the sea breeze. It’s reminiscent of the Jersey shore, and definitely a must-do when hanging out with your hipster college boy.

Although…this is not my typical beach haunt. It’s loud, it’s colorful, and perhaps a bit too schmalzy for me. I’m more of a post-card picturesque, exclusive, elegant, serene beach gal. But today I let my inner woo out. I kicked off the flip flops, tucked in the long tie dyed skirt, and played frisbee with my son and husband as the tide rolled in. The water was cold, the waves tumbling, and I kicked some frisbee a**.

WOOOOOOOO!

Later that evening over fish sandwiches and fries, my son casually said,

Mom, you need to release your woos five times a day. Any less than that and you will be crabby. So Sir H, if she is crabby, you need to remind her to release more woos. 

Let the woo’ing begin.

Racing Forward

It’s interesting how the past comes back into our lives, in increments, in different ways, knocking on us as if to say, “Hello. I’m still here. I’m part of you.” It is Memorial Day after all.

Every year on Memorial Day weekend, I am reminded of my childhood. The Indianapolis 500, the iconic car race run on Sunday, is a big part of my past.

Former resident of the flattest state in the nation, breadbasket of the midwest, and home to the “greatest spectacle in racing,” my family owns a penthouse box at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so I grew up enjoying everything about Indy car racing –  from the month-long hoopla to the nonstop parties to the roaring start of the engines from the special view just above the start-finish line.

Sir Husband and I grew up together, part of the Hoosier nation. The Indy 5 has special meaning for him too, but it’s more about the car racing itself. We both moved out of Indiana for a reason, this state was not meant to be our lifelong home, and we both knew that in our hearts. So when he began belting out “Back Home Again In Indiana,” in a perfect Jim Neighbors voice from the shower on this race day, I sort of cringed.

I watched and heard Jim Neighbors sing that traditional song year after year right before the start of the race, and every year I tried to feel it. But I couldn’t. And this morning, my Indiana past came back to visit me from my own bathroom.

I planned to watch it on television like I do every year, although it’s not the same as being there, not even close. And as much as I stay disconnected from my Hoosier roots, they are always there, at least this weekend.  For Sir Husband too. We have wanted to take our kids to this special event for years, but life got in the way, like it seems to do a lot.

It’s a mixed bag of melancholy and indifference now, the Indy 500. When we moved out of the state, no one seemed to care about it. It was actually quite surprising, especially when people did not even know when it was happening. For years my mother tried to keep the spirit of the race alive in our New England homes, eager and excited to continue the traditions that had been part of her life and ours, since the beginning. My grandfather, her father, bought the box seats when the track opened. But each year outside of my childhood, it became less and less important for me, as life away from Indiana was different.

I spent the morning cleaning the house, cleansing the soul perhaps. Watching the clock, I wondered if I would be done when the broadcast for the race began. I didn’t hurry. My son was on his way home from college and I had plenty of nesting to do before his arrival. He has not been home since Christmas, we were so excited.

Mr. Ex texted me mid-morning asking if we still had seats at the race, he and his Mrs. would enjoy going some year. What time is it on TV today, he inquired. The past lives on for many of us.

The day was beautiful. The sun shining, the air warm, a slight breeze. A perfect day for a race. We had few minutes of excitement as the opening ceremonies began on television. We turned it up the sound.

Knock knock….Hi Mom, I’m home.

See the Gulls

“The seagulls are having an orgy outside my window,” Sir Husband says to me on a text from work.

It was sunset on a crystal clear night in the port.

Not an evening shift goes by that he does not note something about the seagulls outside the large, picturesque window in front of his desk. He has an expansive view of the harbor – the ocean, the yachts, the fishing boats, and the ferries that run to the nearby coastal islands. Not bad.

But he really loves the seagulls that have taken up residence on the semi-sheltered rooftop of his building. It’s quite a life they have. It mimics human life he thinks. They seem to have partners, who they peck at, squabble with, share meals, and mate. Sometimes in great droves they will swoop in and land in synchronized unison on the ledge of the building. The fury of food sharing and then flying poop is a sight to behold he says.

His fascination turned to my research and here are some cool, probably lesser-known facts about seagulls.

  • Seagulls have a well-developed and complex way of communicating with each other, both through vocalizations and body movements.
  • The males and females partner for life, and both care for their babies from egg to adulthood. (Ah ha! Sir Husband was right in his observation.)
  • Young gulls flock together and learn seagull skills, like being in “school,”  until adulthood. They are “taught” and watched over by adult males.
  • Some gull feeding behaviors are learned, like dropping mollusk shells onto rocks to crack them open for food, or following farm equipment in fields where grubs can appear from overturned soil. They even stamp their feet on the ground to imitate rainfall to trick earthworms into coming out.
  • They drink both fresh and salt water, using special filtering glands above their eyes to flush salt through openings in their bills.
  • A small claw-like feature on their lower leg allows them to hook onto building ledges so they will not fall or blow off.
  • Seagulls hover over bridges to absorb rising heat and energy from paved roadways.
  • The seagull is the state bird of Utah.

That’s all interesting, but not as fascinating as watching the gulls live their daily lives on the rooftop ledge of your office building. Sir Husband’s attachment to them is growing. Even when he walked out of the building and was pelted by a dollop of poop as they passed overhead. Maybe they know he is the one taking their pictures from inside the glass window where they live, like a voyeur into their lives.

Yes, I think happiness definitely lives here. On the rooftop ledge near the harbor.

Finding Our Way Home

Spring has sprung in our little town, and it’s amazing to see what is around us after a winter with colossal snowfall. It’s easy to forget the lay of the land, who your neighbors are, and what nature really looks like when it’s alive and in bloom.

But I also noticed how many houses have for sale signs out front. Yes, it’s the season for spring selling, but I was surprised at my reaction seeing so many signs. It felt sudden, and unexpected, and I’m not even the one moving.

We have not lived in our house very long, less than a year. It has not been the most gentle of landings. We came here sort of running away from our other life. That is never the way to move, but relocation was our only option. With relocation comes hope. Hope of a new life, a happy life, new beginnings, fresh starts, and the intention to settle down and live happily ever after.

But this was our fourth move in five years. New beginnings and fresh starts were getting old. And we weren’t sure we even wanted to stay in this town. We hoped for the best and began the business of living our new lives with optimism, and exhaustion.

Trouble is, even as time passed, we didn’t feel connected to our new environment. We didn’t feel like we could settle down or settle in. We waited for the feeling of being home. We missed city life, access to everything, and familiar surroundings. We missed a community and friends. We missed comfort both inside and outside of us. We tried and searched and still wondered, where do we belong? Where do we fit in? Is it here?

The answer did not come like I expected. It came with the signs.

For Sale.

Wait…I know I don’t know you, but why are you moving? Where? When? Don’t you like it here? Do you feel settled? Are you sad to leave? How long have you lived here? Is it time to go? Why? A new job? A new opportunity?

Don’t leave now. We just got here. We are trying to settle down. We are trying to feel at home. Although we don’t know you, you are part of life here, where we seek stability, security, and consistency.

The signs were a sign.

I have been running away from my life my whole life. From a traumatic childhood. From hurtful people. From problems, from shame, from abuse, from pain. Running and searching for peace. For normalcy. For joy. For connection. And I did not realize until I saw so many For Sale signs, that I already have it. Right here. Right now. All around me. I just need to engage. Become present. And live.

I forgot how to do that, or maybe I never learned. For as long as I can remember, the desire to escape was consuming, and the dream of settling was just that. Always living on the edge of hope, a fresh start just around the corner, stability lived at the next destination. But I live here now.

We have a lot of work to do on the house. But that’s ok, we aren’t going anywhere.

No more running. Happily ever after is already at home.

The Ebb and Flow of It All

The realization was like suspended animation…

My middle child is going to be 20 in just a few weeks. That hit me clear out of the blue after he texted asking me to grab him a six pack of his favorite beer before he arrives this weekend for a short visit home. I found his casualness humorous, as if it his request for libation was just natural. Good grief.

Sir Husband and I had just spent a couple of hours on the beach looking for sea glass, and contemplating how the forces of the sea work so hard to bring the tide in and out on schedule each day. The water was particularly green, almost emerald, and the white caps were rushing, little white diamonds rolling along the waves.

We do this frequently, we go to our special place – a tiny ocean inlet near our home – and I turn into an eight year old, looking for sea glass, for colorful worn glass treasures along the shore. Like magic it appeared as the tide washed out…where we had first looked and found nothing, gentle, new waves brought in these gifts, appearing mysteriously out of nowhere.

Sir Husband and I search together, excited when we find a piece. We examine it to be sure it is “mature,” soft edges, and like crystal, worn from the washing tides, the ocean’s forces working hard to create a perfect fragment. How old is it? How long does it take for the edges to smooth? For the color to soften? For it to make it to shore?

I regress to my state as a little girl, crouching down on the wet pebbles, waves touching the edges of my shoes, my hands wet from rummaging in the water. Time stops in those moments. The ocean salt smell, the sounds, the sunlight, the peace, keep me fully present. I want to take it with me.

My son will go with us next week. He loves the shore. We will take him to our special place, to search for treasure. Much to my surprise, he is almost grown up now. Time moves quickly and time stands still. Rough edges smoothed, uniqueness revealed. I have worked hard to raise him. Day in and day out, on schedule, like the tides.  Turbulent waters, capped with diamonds.  And a six pack.