Perception should be a Dirty Word

I have decided that perception should be a dirty word. If you think about it, it lives in the same family as judgement. We live in a world where the first thing someone does is form an opinion based on what they read, see or hear and decide they know all the facts and then immediately an opinion is formed. Now, nothing wrong with that, the human brain is meant to form opinions. Where this goes south, for so many and unfortunately it is mostly women(sorry ladies) is when we let what we perceive to know go dark and ugly and turn into judgement. Sometimes it’s passive judgement. You know the smile, the perfectly chosen words to sound nice, but its not, its full blown judging. Then there is just straight out, I know more than you, my perception is spot on, and I have no interest in hearing another point of view because I am better and smarter and my choices in life are so much better than what you over there are doing. If you stop and think for a minute we all know both types and we have all encountered both. Or even done both. Guilty. Not proud of it, but guilty for sure.  And the truth is its not nice and its not ok. Simply put.

I always considered myself a totally confident person. After all I was in a huge leadership role, responsible for so much in a large business, I was a mom of 4, surely I was capable and fact is people said to me ALL the time I don’t know how you do it, you are Super Mom, you never miss a beat. I remember it well. The sentiments were kind and appreciated but it’s not at all how I felt inside. It’s what I felt I HAD to portray on the outside. After all, if I wasn’t all of those things, my life, OUR life, would fall apart, right? I had to be ALL things to ALL  people ALL  the time. And aside from the “I don’t know how you do it” comments there were the others. The ones “Judging.” The, wow she works so much. Wow, she’s never home or around the neighborhood. Wow, she’s always dressed nice. Wow, she’s not very friendly. Wow, her expectations are so high.

Here is what I have learned out of all of this from  being on BOTH sides of this suburban life. I wasn’t that confident person I portrayed or even told myself I was. But I didn’t even know it. I had a story of my life, it was my perception and I believed it to be fully true. I had a lot of anxiety, a lot of fears and a lot of stress. We ALL tell ourselves bullshit stories and those stories become our reality. Over time and some soul searching and some self help work, I am literally writing a new story. One that has actually made me more raw, real, transparent and open to learning and growing. It’s freeing.  I am finding it’s “easier” to address the judgers because I know that perception is simply just that, their perception. Perception does not make something real. None of us know, what we don’t know unless we allow ourselves the courtesy of listening and learning and growing. Once again, it is that simple. Maybe not easy, but it sure is simple.

Now, I LOVE social media. It is how I do business now, its how large corporations market business, its how we connect and reconnect with others. But a side effect of social media is it makes the perceiving and judging faster and easier than ever. And social media has only magnified the fact that majority of people care so damn much about what others think of them, their life, their choices that it stops them from not only living their very best life, but it also stops them from making needed changes that could benefit so many. I was that person. Even though I didn’t know I was, I certainly was. Over that last month I have thought so much about something my now ex husband said to me when he left. He said  “you don’t really care that the marriage is over, you care what people are going to think.’ That stung, big time because of course I believed it wasn’t true. Well time yields perspective and turns out there was some truth in that statement after all and he was a little wiser than I gave him credit for on that one. I survived it, we all did and it helped me to learn a lot about the negative side effects of assuming my perceptions are spot on and that judging gets us nowhere and nowhere fast.

My wish, my dream, my passion is to help women stop the madness. Stop caring what others think of you. You only control you, your life, your dreams and your choices. There’s a big ole world out here waiting for you to share your greatness, to grow into the person you always dreamed you would be, to not just go through the motions and live for others and not for you. And for those of us raising children, I promise you that they need to see their powerful mamas get uncomfortable and take a stand. They want that. This generation does NOT think like those before them. They are onto us and our judging ways. Hats off to all the women making sure they don’t example that for their kids. As always, I, we all, are a work in progress. Learn before you judge. Most of the time the perceptions we have are so dead wrong. And if you must judge maybe practice keeping your judging to yourself. That’s simply practicing kindness.

Be Brave

I DO. I DID. I’m DONE

I’m back. 7 months since my last piece but I am ready. Today anyway. Admittedly, still a work in progress.

I Do. I DID. I’m DONE. Cliche’, I know. Yet real and true and exactly how I feel a week after closing the chapter of a book that was mostly written for me. But was it? That’s the million $ question. A lot has happened and changed since my first “blog” entry. I was (and still am) winging it on this writing gig of mine. And I have decided that’s ok. I will do this when I want to, when I feel like it, when I have something to say and when I think there is something someone out there needs to hear. Clearly, that is today.

So here I am, in this new chapter. Officially Divorced. A word I never planned to be. Divorce happened to other people, people who didn’t have their shit together, people who should have never gotten married in the first place, people who clearly didn’t try hard enough, work hard enough or understand “real love.” Just going to state it here now. That’s all a bunch of BS in case my sarcasm didn’t come through loud and clear. None of that is true, anything can happen to anyone, and just because we all have a view of how we want things to be, doesn’t mean that the Universe, God and whatever else you choose to believe in presents it to us in exactly the way we mapped out and planned.

Now back to my statement and question above. Was the book written for me or did I play a role? While I am certain I am still and likely always will be learning and growing I can without an ounce of doubt say today that my answer is VERY different than it was when this book all began. I did life “right.” That version of “right” that so many of us fall prey to that is. I didn’t marry too young, didn’t have kids too young, had a great career, climbed the corporate ladder, dressed the part, traveled the world, made the big bucks, lived very well, played the part of working wife and mom, attended the social functions….you get the drill. I also had a career that I had no passion for, I spent money like it was water,  I never saw my kids or husband because I was on the road, I cared what others thought about my life, my clothes, my house, I cared if I wasn’t invited to the “right parties” and I had less  REAL friends than I wanted to have. I worried about so much, most of the time, things that seriously are so silly to me now that I can’t believe that was me. I also neglected my relationship with my husband. Now, before anyone that knows the whole story thinks I am taking the blame, don’t get crazy on me. I am simply saying it takes two to tango and being in a passionless marital situation takes 2 people, not just one and I am fully content with owning my role in the ultimate demise of my marriage. So yes, I did play a role in the book, and I know now that this book needed to play out just the way it did, in order for me to get to this much needed, much anticipated, life changing chapter.

My life looks very different today than it did all those years ago. I no longer work in a job I hate. I am no longer a slave to the corporate 60 hour work week. I no longer spend unneeded money on unneeded things for me or for my kids. I rarely “dress the part” before 2:00 pm.  I no longer have a daily argument with a spouse because it is the only way we knew how to communicate anymore. I no longer worry about the pretenses and people liking me and worrying about why so and so gave me the cold shoulder at the grocery store. Instead I now have my own business that I fully control. In time and income. I see my kids. They now know their mom. I understand now that life happens, change happens and no one is immune from this. I know that a “cold shoulder” has nothing to do with me. I know that I will not be everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone will be mine. I have learned that you can move past hate and turn it into indifference. I have learned that kids are as resilient as everyone likes to say. I have learned what TRUE friendship is and what surface friendship is like. I have learned that real support often comes from very unexpected places. I have learned that what makes some people not support you  has everything to do with them. And mostly,  I have learned that you can get over what you once thought would kill you and that there really are “more fish in the sea.”

I don’t know what this next chapter and the one after and the one after will bring. But I do know this. I am a much more accepting, loving and positive person than I ever was before. I have found passions I didn’t even know I had. I have a desire that is so crazy big to help other women who have no idea how to break out of a cycle of living a life that no longer fulfills them. And I know that pain is real. I know that when you have no idea how you will get out of bed that somehow eventually you do. I know that you become so much stronger after the pain is gone. I know that no-one and I mean no-ones experiences are the same and that love, support, a funny meme, a text,  a spontaneous adventure, a shoulder to cry on, lots of self help books, a therapist you actually like, too much wine or too much coffee and maybe even some crazy shenanigans every once in awhile can be the answer to overall long term healing. This chapter calls me to pay it forward and while I don’t know exactly what that fully looks like just yet, I. do know that my calling is to serve other women and I plan to find my many ways that I plan to do just that.

The Circle Doesn’t End

March. Spring. Sun. Spring Break. This is a month I have always loved. I assume that’s why the fact that I am not “loving” March is hard for me to wrap my arms around. I also think the fact that this feeling came out of nowhere and was unexpected has actually made me mad. Mad that my normally positive, love my new life (most of the time,) and more chill than I have ever been way of living has been “disrupted” this March by these feelings. These feelings that have come rushing in like a bit of a tidal wave and I don’t like it, not one bit. So instead of fighting it I am here. Choosing to turn these feelings of what I think I have identified as anger, disappointment, lack of understanding and often just frustration into a way for me to share what is happening, 2 years later, and hopefully serve someone else in the process. So maybe its OK that I won’t “love” March for a while. Just because I didn’t see it coming at me this year, doesn’t mean its not a natural and normal reaction to my life changes. I am sure this is all part of that (lack of) control thing I am destined to learn. Always thought I was a fast learner, but maybe not as much as I thought, not when it comes to this personal growth thing anyway.

So what’s wrong with March? It’s just a month. Here it is, or so I think here it is. I will start with Spring Break. I once again had to tell my 2 younger kids that no, we can’t financially take a Spring Break trip AGAIN this year. I know, poor us, right? I know it sounds shallow. I get it. It sounds like some spoiled family who wants a week away like “everyone else does.” Its not how I mean it. Not in the least. There were many years we didn’t go on Spring Break “before” by choice. And,  I am sure truth be told its harder for me than it is them. What’s hard is that  I want to give them that again. Like it “used to be.” But nothing is as it used to be. Nothing. And nothing can be as it used to be. I also know that isn’t a bad thing, its just different. Its change. And change, while often for the better, its still very, very hard. And that silly Spring Break example leads me to the real meat of this and thats that March is “the month.” Its THE month that everything changed. I honestly wasn’t ready for it to affect me this March, the 2nd year anniversary of all the changes in our life. Year 1? I was SO ready. And I made it through with flying colors. Not even a blip. Not so much this year. I think my lack of being prepared, lack of awareness that it would hit me in year 2 is part of whats making it so hard. Fact that its still not done. Fact that the surprises and disappointments just keep coming. I actually say to myself how can there possibly be more? And yet there is. Its clearly all a part of the transition, the change,  the journey to next. Goes to show how little control I have, and frankly need to have, but its a process to understand that overcoming obstacles when you aren’t ready for them are all part of the process.

So this all  begs the question. When does the disappointment end? Does it? When does the process of trying to understand what seems to be impossible to understand end? Does it? When does the lack of questioning yourself and how you could have possibly missed the warning signs that MUST have been there end? Does it? When does forgiveness REALLY happen? Does it?  And the guilt? The guilt you feel towards your kids for failing them as their mother? Honestly, I worry that part may never end. I don’t have the answers to all of this. What I do know is that I may never. And that I will have setbacks. The kids will have setbacks. I was told very clearly that this process is circular, not linear and that I need to accept it as that. And I did. In fact I quoted it. I embraced it and it made full sense to me. Except I missed one key piece. I don’t know when that circle ends. And that circle of grief? It’s different for all people. Even the 5 people whom I live with. So this is me, embrace this circle of grief and realizing that setbacks will happen, whether I like it or not. Love to you all. Be Brave.

Mourn Closed Doors, Then Open New Ones

Life is full of disappointments. I am embarrassed to say I didn’t always realize that. Didn’t seem to have “disappointments happen all that often.” Well, its true. And we all really do have them, eventually. At this phase of my life, I am in the middle(hopefully very near the end of the big D word, “divorce”.) It’s a nasty, ugly, bitter, lets make a lifetime movie out of it kind of divorce. More twists and turns than one could imagine. Comical one minute, head shaking in disbelief at times, and infuriating the next. Now to be clear. I don’t believe in divorce. I know, that makes no sense. And its not like it even matters, right? Because I am in it. No, I didn’t choose it. I also know I would have never initiated it. And like the rest of the world, I didn’t get married thinking oh someday this may end in divorce. I mean, does anyone think that way? But 2 years ago when my soon to be Ex made this decision for our  family of 6, he loved to justify it with his perceived facts. One of his  favorites was that over 50% of the population gets divorced, this happens. (thats not actually a true fact, but oh well.) As if somehow I would say well then, I feel so much better and so do the kids, we are so happy you decided on our behalf for us to be in THAT half of the group! In hindsight(which I can and likely will say about hundreds of things, I should have realized that since this was his 2nd marriage, walking away wouldn’t be all that hard!) In fact since stats were brought into this, stats show that over 70% of second marriages end in divorce. I read that, don’t know if its a true fact, but to me it sounds just as good as using his other stat. Regardless, it’s not good!

Now, fast forward to exactly 2 years later to the night this “news” of our marriage is over was delivered (hence this post tonight) I still don’t “believe in divorce” and If I could go back in time I am sure I would do a lot of things different…….Now here comes my “BUT” BUT I now believe that us staying married was NOT the plan for my life, or my kids life. I fully believe that now. Don’t worry, I spent months begging, apologizing( I cringe at that part now,) blaming myself(more cringing) and as I so beautifully have referred to that time frame I was a puddle on the floor. Kind of literally. Lovely visual, right? I remember telling one of my friends how I would escape to my closet so I could sob, alone, in the quiet, where no one could hear me or find me. That shit was real. But I fully believed, and still do in theory, that with hard work, open and honest communication, both parties willing to try for what is right and best for the family, marriages can be restored, and in many cases even be BETTER. But it takes two and it takes HARD WORK and I may get a lot of argument here, but it is my personal belief that once a 3rd party is brought into a marriage, it makes it that much harder to repair. I know some do. And I don’t judge that, not in the LEAST. I fully believe none of us walk in each others shoes and we should not EVER say we know what we would do…..because we don’t. We really don’t.

So here we are two years later. And what I know with all of my being, is we were NOT meant to stay married.  We now  function as a “party of 5,” with a puppy who made us 6 again, and we are surviving. Are we all healed? No way! Do we have some really bad days? Of course we do! There’s me, mama bear,  strong willed, hard working, passionate, fiery temper, previous trust issues now magnified even more, but determined that we WILL all be better than ok when it all finally settles.  And there are the boys. Depending which boy it is we have a range of “feelings” towards our new family set up. I will say this. The 2 oldest had to grow up fast. In case you don’t know, Tweens and Teens know a LOT more about real life than we did at their age and they have a very strong opinion about indiscretions. I PRAY daily they keep this with them and change the course of behavior that was modeled for them in not only one, but 2 generations. Then we go to the younger boy and his needs and his emotions are very different, just as they should be. And then there is that daughter of mine, the baby, the caboose. So young and so innocent and has truly no idea what has hit her and how this will impact her life as she grows into a woman one day. I know there will be a LOT of repairing that needs to be done and we will work towards that for years to come.

So here we are bringing on year 3 of our “new normal.” I spent time today remembering “this dreadful night” in 2016. I thought my life was literally over.  Having a great memory is usually a blessing, in this case I kinda wish the details weren’t so clear. But here is the good news for me and my kids and I hope and pray its also good for anyone else going through this traumatic life event that may read this post. Because honestly, all it is now is a memory. It’s not fresh. There are no more tears from grief. There is no more blaming and apologizing. Is there still anger? Absolutely. Maybe it will disappear someday. Time will tell. Have I hit forgiveness? I would be lying if I said yes. Let’s not get crazy. It’s a process, for sure. I have accepted its out of my control. I have accepted me and the kids will NEVER get the apology we deserve. I have accepted that the plan for our life didn’t involve that 6th person. That we are on a different path and that the path we are now on is for the better. I have accepted that I am not exempt from disappointments. How childish that I thought I was. I encourage everyone to see  closed doors when they close, mourn the closed door in your way, in your time, and however helps to heal you and become the person you are destined to be. Then look to the open doors. The doors that have opened for me in the past 2 years I would have never seen coming. And I am forever grateful that God’s plan to close a pretty big door has led me and the kids on the path we are on today. Grateful for 3-6-16. The pain was real and the pain was unbearable. But the bounce-back has been a blessing  I never saw coming.I believe we all have those blessings coming to us, but we have to open the doors to see them.  Love to you all, Be Brave!

Making Space: One article/ Day at a Time

My Mac Book tells me daily that my “disk space is almost full.” I know I have to handle it eventually,  but not my favorite thing to spend time on. So I ignore it. Effective, huh?Then there is my iPad. Another of my 3 devices where I spend time daily doing my work. Well a couple of nights ago I was on my iPad to download a book. Not a marriage book, or a divorce book, or an entrepreneurship book or a self help book which is all I have been reading for the last 2 years, but a book for my Book Club. Yes, I recently joined a book club to force me to read for pleasure, not because I have nothing else to keep me busy, but to branch out some. But 2 books in, I have yet to read one. Also effective. I decided this is the month I am reading it. After all the book that was picked out of the fishbowl of titles was one of my 5 suggestions. Figured that was a sign, READ THE DAMN BOOK. So I decide to go the electronic route. Download to iPad, wait, what ? Download unsuccessful…..”storage space is full.” So, last night was the night. Sat down and decided its time to make space so I can get going on this book. As I began tackling what I told myself would be a short and sweet little project became a connection and an aha moment for me instead.  The amount of articles saved on my iPad, (I assume for a rainy day or something?) was shocking. I have had an iPad since they hit the world of Apple so imagine how many articles I have.  And boy do they run the gamut of topics. We start with all things toddler. Top games for toddlers. Best birthday party ideas. How to treat lice(I know, just keeping it real) Then there are articles about boys and what they REALLY need to succeed in school (mom of 3 boys here.) And then sports and concussions. You can see where my focuses were. Being a busy mom. Raising kids. Trying to do what all us moms do and “figure it out.” Then as I deleted, scrolled, deleted, scrolled, the topics changed. Which is where the aha moment happens.

See, the articles on my device weren’t in folders, they just happened to be in chronological order. Suddenly there were titles that make everyones stomach sink initially when you realize this is where my life and my focuses and my “google searches” began to change.  All the memories of obsessively googling came flooding back to me. I remember looking to “experts,” others that had been in my shoes, really just someone or something to give me the answers to all the things I didn’t understand. There were SO many articles saved that I finally decided to count them.  There were ONE HUNDRED FIFTY FOUR saved on the topics of separation, cheating, divorce, children and divorce, depression, mid life crisis, brain injuries(yes, I fully believed this involved a brain injury, don’t ask,) faith and christianity, did we ever really love each other anyway, and many more things that you can’t even imagine. Well, unless you have had the displeasure of being in the same google frenzy as me that is, you likely can’t imagine how many articles exist on ALL of this and you name it, I had saved it. Yep. But for what, another rainy day? Good news is this. I didn’t open or read one of them as I was scrolling(winning.) Also good news is I quickly connected this to the fact that  “taking up space” means a whole lot more than storage space on my iPad and Mac. But these topics, articles, unanswered questions, lack of that awful word, CLOSURE, is whats taking up the most space of all. (If you stick with me awhile, you will see I am heavy on the metaphors.)

Now, in the spirt of honesty, I didn’t delete these in that moment.  Something stopped me. As the saying goes, I think I needed to sleep on it. So I did, and here I am now, writing and sharing what I discovered was holding me back from clicking delete. Before I do, I want to share this, and its a terrific realization to have.  It’s not my need to read them again.Or to rehash and reopen all that I was searching for “back then.” It’s not me holding onto some strange hope that this was all a bad dream and it will go back to the way things were. And it is not in anyway me hoping that somehow I can change the inevitable outcome.

So what is it? Its about me, and many women just like me, to have control of scary, bad, hurtful situations. Its about wanting and needing to fix what is wrong. Women are fixers of all things feelings and all matters of the heart.  It’s  also about the apology I never got. The full blown lack of “closure.” Its about what I once considered “proof” in 154 articles about right vs wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the same beliefs, that hasn’t changed. But what good does holding on to proof do? What good does holding onto anything that isn’t positively serving you and is doing nothing but taking up space? It’s doing no good at all. So today, I deleted these articles to make more space, yes, for books if I so choose, but more importantly space for ME. Me as a single mom, as a woman who doesn’t have it all figured out but is focusing every day on whats ahead vs. what has been taking up space from behind.

As I write this 1 year and 357 days after the night that I truly believed was the worst night of my life, I am still deleting to “make space,” to grow, to learn, to be the best version of me I can become. And it’s a process, there will be set backs and likely always will be. For me and anyone else who goes through a life changing and emotional experience. I will write about it. I will talk about it. I will share about it. For one, it’s a part of what makes me, be me. And two, there are others that need to hear, to know, to have hope that you can and will go from what you think is the worst day of your life to a place of  better. Everyone has a different cycle, a different story to tell. I also know this. There has always been a plan and I am not in control of the plan. Never was. Just thought I was, and I was so very wrong. But that plan? I know it is, was and will continue to be for the best, for all parties involved.

And in the words of an old, and one of my favorite, Garth Brooks songs, ‘sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers”  The chorus has so much meaning to me now. It  ends with “And just because he doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean he don’t care Some of Gods greatest gifts are unanswered prayers” Time to keep on making space. Love to you all.Be Brave. 

Ready to Receive

I have put this off, for really close to a year. I would be lying if I didn’t say my stomach hurt a little and my hands are a little shaky. Not sure why really when I will post anything and everything on Facebook without a care in the world. This is a thought I will need to ponder later. What I have come to understand is the many reasons I have put off writing my first blog post.

1. I am not a writer, not by trade. No training and mistakes WILL be made.

2. I clearly have a learning curve. I mean who is going to read this anyway? Not to mention I post my real world life all over social media and that is certainly met with many eye rolls, won’t this be more of the same?

3. Not to mention, do I really have time to add one more thing to my plate? This blog thing? What purpose does it even serve?

4. And there is of course this…..won’t this just be judged by all the “judgy’ people anyway? (I know its not a real word.) I mean its open and transparent and really no mincing of words. Plus, I don’t have a platform. Its not focused on any one topic. I have learned that not many people are a fan of tell all!

But then this morning happened. Just a Thursday morning, nothing out of the ordinary. Except this epiphany, many “things” happened and it just all came together. They all connect, for me anyway.

  1. I was relocating my vision board. Yes, I am one of “those” vision board people(this is one of my many new things.) On my board I have a print out that says “Stop being a writer that doesn’t write.” I stared at it for a minute……got me thinking.
  2. Next, I thought about a post I did on my Facebook page last night about Fear of What Others Think, Fear of Being Judged by Others and often times even worse, Fear of Failure. My next point will explain what made me think of my post.
  3. This morning while eating her cinnamon toast, my 8 year old daughter  says to me that she thinks she should quit gymnastics “because  she is never going to make it to the advanced level.” Hello, Fear of Failure? We had a terrific  conversation about how powerful your words are that you ‘put into the universe.” It is a goal of mine for her to believe she can do anything she chooses to do in her lifetime
  4. And tonight, I have plans to meet my very 1st beloved mentor  in my past career. I haven’t seen her in years and have been looking forward to tonight all week. And, guess what? She is an English major, with amazing and inspiring writing skills. Back in the day I would hang on her every word and hope to be able to write just like her!
  5. Then this…….yesterday, I spent some time on that spiritual side of my life that I am working to grow and understand. Yes, also very new for me. These words here, I read them yesterday and they all came full circle for me this morning.  “God wouldn’t have given you the dream unless He already had a way to bring it to pass. You have to be ready to receive. God has a Barn Load of blessings stored up for you.”

So here I am, tying it all together and just going for it! The dreams, the vision board, the fear of writing because it won’t be good enough, my daughter speaking to EXACTLY what I posted about last night and my plans tonight to spend time with someones writing skills I so admire. There are NO coincidences. God, The Universe, our thoughts, our words, our actions……they create our world. I for one am ready to receive. And here I am. That 1st blog, its in the books. For better or worse(no pun intended) its here and done. No I don’t have a plan, a schedule, a platform and yes I will likely be all over the board. But I did it. For me. I let go of that FEAR and did it. Push fear to the side and go get what you want. Love to you all!