This Is Your Work

If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change. If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma, if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem on yourself. So, in other words when Christ is crucified, he says “forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing”, they’re not a problem for him, he’s trying to get them out of being a problem for themselves, because he’s clear. Your job is to clear yourself. In ideal situations you would clear yourself within the situation, but very often it’s too thick and you can’t do that.  Now, what you do then is you pull back and you do the stuff you do in the morning or at night before you go to work, you do the stuff on weekends, you do the stuff that quiets you down and then each time you go into the situation to where you have to work, you lose it again. And then you go home and you see how you lost it, and you examine it, and then you go the next day and you lose it again, and you go home and you keep a little diary “how did I lose it today”, and you saw that, and then you go and you do it again, and after a while as you’re starting to lose it you don’t buy in so much. You start to watch the mechanics of what it is that makes you lose it all the time.  If I’m not appreciated, that’s your problem that you don’t appreciate me. Unless I need your love, then it’s my problem. So my needs are what are giving you the power over me. Those people’s power over you to take you out of your equanimity and love and consciousness has to do with your own attachments and clingings of mind. That’s your work on yourself, that’s where you need to meditate more, it’s where you need to reflect more, it’s where you need a deeper philosophical framework, it’s where you need to cultivate the witness more, it’s where you need to work on practicing opening your heart more in circumstances that aren’t optimum. This is your work. You were given a heavy curriculum, that’s it. There’s no blame, it’s not even wrong, it’s just what you’re given. You hear what I’m saying? It’s interesting. Can you all hear that one?  -Ram Dass, Summer 1989


you need to meditate more,

you need to reflect more,

you need a deeper philosophical framework,

you need to cultivate the witness more,

you need to work on practicing opening your heart more in circumstances that aren’t optimum.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

imagesOnce upon a time, I worked for what could have been a wonderful organization.  The problem, however, was terrible leadership that did not value its employees.  The Executive Director had a pet that could do no wrong but was toxic to the organization.  To add insult to injury, the Board was simply there to do the bidding of the Chairman.  As you can imagine, the place has a revolving door of employees.  I lasted five months, my predecessor made it about 8 months. A close friend of mine who still works for the organization recently offered her resignation.  To celebrate and decompress, I joined her for Happy Hour.  In attendance we two former employees, two current employees, and the one on the way out.  It became very clear, very quickly that there were two sides at the table.  One side had that place in the rearview mirror.  The past employees were able to see what a circus the organization is.  The past group commented on how much better they sleep at night, how much better their relationships are, and how much happier they are in general.  The current employee group was in some sort of confused defensive state.  They know the place is screwed up and will never change, but for many reasons, they aren’t ready to jump ship yet.  In one breath they complain about all of the chaos and poor leadership, yet they defend it.

Keep the visual of this group at happy hour while I shift gears for a second.

I was chatting with a friend the other day (not involved in the happy hour or organization above) about her ex-husband and his fiancé.  My friend was analyzing why she never sees the fiancé.  Whether it’s one of her kid’s games, a birthday party, scout meeting, or the like; she is MIA.  One one hand my friend thought the fiancé was simply trying to respect the mother’s space and allow my friend time with her children in these settings.  The other explanation she had was the ex was trying to keep the women apart (you know, in case they trade notes?).  According to a source close to the ex and fiancé, it is possible the fiancé is simply trying to keep her distance in an effort not to say or do something she may regret (ya know, cause she has heard one side of the story). Whatever the fiance’s reason for keeping a low profile when my friend was around, my friend thought it was a poor message to send to the kids.  After all, my friend though, it is important for the children to see all of the adults concerned could at least have a united front (at least in front of the kids).

Bringing it full circle.

As I was sitting at that Happy Hour table, it all became clear.  Who could blame the current employees for defending themselves for staying in the toxic situation?  Having the past employees right there, in their faces, was a reminder that they had either made a mistake by coming on board, or a reminder that they are stuck in a crappy situation.  At any rate, the current employees felt like the new wife standing next to the ex-wife.  They had to think to themselves, what am I doing here, what am I missing, etc.

When I mentioned this to my friend in the second scenario, her eyes lit up.  Rather than speculating why the fiancé was never around when she was, or wondering what the fiancé had been told, my friend had a new compassion for the fiancé than she had had before.  My friend realized, like the group of former employees did, that everyone has a reason for leaving or staying.  What matters, is that you do what is best for your own situation, mental and physical health, and your future. Everyone has different tolerance levels, both personally and professionally.


Comparison is the thief of joy.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

MjAxMy0wZDEzMjYyZTNlNzRjZWZkSo your marriage is over, but what about your relationship with your in-laws, their relationship with your children, or even your relationship with your ex-spouse’s new Significant Other? What is healthy and appropriate? Much to my dismay, there is no one-size-fits-all manual to answer these questions. Everyone knows at least one divorce horror story, but we seldom hear about people who have established friendly post-divorce associations with each other. “Did you hear that Hugh and Liz are getting along well these days?” just isn’t news.   Armed with their version of divorce hell, we all have friends who tell us stories that make even our exes look like saints.   They outtalk the quiet and peaceful believers — perhaps because people who are doing just fine don’t feel the need to vent. “If every divorce were a ‘War of the Roses’, there would be blood on the streets!” points out Barbara Quick, author of Still Friends: Living Happily Ever After…Even if your Marriage Falls Apart. I feel very fortunate to get to see one of those rare, friendly post-divorce relationships.  The Ginger Bread Man and his son’s mom have been divorced for about 11 years or so now.  I am told it wasn’t always flowers and rainbows.  The first few years were not as rosy as they are now, and that gives me hope for other co-parents!  It can be done because I see it every day.  What pleases me the most about AC and his ex is that they talk to each other about their son.  They keep each other involved in what is happening at each home.  AC is always invited to events in the town where his ex lives…she even invited ALL of us for the holidays! I love that the two of them take time to talk during “swap” time.  This is critical because their son sees that although they are not married any longer, they can be respectful.  They are setting a great example for their young man and I only wish other children could experience the same thing. Luckily, it’s never too late to make peace with an ex. With determination and good intentions, you can overcome the anger, grief, and sadness of losing a marriage and eventually — believe it or not — achieve friendship. Whether or not you want to be “friends” with your ex is a decision in itself, but if you have children together, finding a way to be amicable with your co-parent makes life a lot easier. Unfortunately there’s no rule book for cultivating civility with your ex-spouse, your former in-laws, or even your ex’s new spouse or partner.

Make new friends but keep the old?

When the divorce process has pitted you and your spouse against each other, training you to view each other as enemies, any form of future alliance can seem impossible. But if you have children, your ex-spouse is still your co-parent. “It’s difficult for separated partners to remain productive co-parents when the legal process is making them enemies,” says Lillian Messinger, a Toronto marriage counselor who specializes in post-divorce relationships. It takes a lot of maturity to make amends with the person who has torn apart your life, or who has been a monster in court. But just as it takes two to determine the marriage dynamic, it takes two to make a good — or bad — divorce. Quick emphasizes that “every couple has their own relationship dance. All you have to do is change your part in the dance.” If you change your behavior, your relationship will change, too. However well or poorly you knew your former spouse, this will be an exercise in re-acquaintance. Forming a relationship with your ex is entirely separate from the process of ending a marriage; if you work through the process to achieve your “emotional divorce,” you can cultivate something entirely new. Your old relationship is over; take the steps to heal so that you can invest your energy elsewhere. Grieving the death of a marriage is like mourning any other loss: it hurts a lot, and you get through it minute by minute. The trick is to stay on the path to recovery, not stopping at the first challenge. In her research for Still Friends, Quick found that a pattern emerged among those who had successfully recovered from divorce. The process that begins with anger and grieving eventually leads to healing, forgiveness, and insight. “Acknowledge the stage you’re at, and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Most people get stuck in anger and grieving,” says Quick, adding that “Everyone has a unique healing process. Some people go through it on their hands and knees, spending months at every stage, others go through it at high speed.” Healing and moving on can take years, but communication with your ex may have to continue both during and after your divorce. If you have children, you will have to discuss the details of their lives. Whether weekly or monthly, these chats are going to develop a personality. They might be draining, dreadful, stressful, infuriating, and frustrating — or they could be just fine. Rick Tivers, the co-director of the Center for Divorce Recovery in Chicago, advises his clients to create a vision of how the new family will work. “The boundaries have changed, but the parents must still work together in the best interests of their children,” says Tivers. “Effective parenting often involves putting yourself second.” Developing a conscious relationship with your ex demands the triumph of logic over emotion — which is practically the opposite of falling in love. In the early stages of divorce, you must not act on your feelings. “You can honor your feelings without acting them out,” Tivers points out.

It’s Time to Move On

You are no longer in a position to seek answers or resolution from your former spouse. Instead, cultivate the habit of self-examination. Before you act, ask yourself: “Will what I’m about to say or do further my goal of creating a healthy relationship?” If the answer is no, don’t do it. Period. New York therapist Debra Burrell — who was chosen and trained by Dr. John Gray of the Mars/Venus books to lead workshops and offer counseling — says that residual negative emotions are very often related to lack of closure. You may want nothing more than a final thank-you or some acknowledgment of the good in your marriage, but discovering the source of your wound is the first step in healing it on your own. What are the options for you and your ex? Really, the whole spectrum — from bitter enemies to good friends. The relationship you choose will affect your children, friends, and family, so make a conscious decision about where you want to end up.  Regardless of how much contact there is between you, your goal is to leave bitterness and anger behind. As enemies, you continue to damage yourselves and your children as well as each other.

Friend-ly, okay, but friends?

If there’s one unwavering constant about divorce arrangements, it’s that children of divorce always suffer from animosity. Even if friendship isn’t in the cards, avoid turning your child into the go-between, the peacekeeper, or from having to take sides with you or your ex.

  • Never express negative sentiments about your ex in front of your children: venting and name-calling is damaging to their identity. Even if there’s no contact between the two of you, speak positively or not at all. Your children will eventually form their own opinions.  If you choose to speak negatively about your ex in front of the children, or chose to be disrespectful to the ex in front of the children, if will do more harm than good; not only for the children but for their image and opinion of you later.
  • Give up blame. In order to communicate effectively with your co-parent, you must take full responsibility for how you feel and how you act. “Don’t blame each other, and don’t talk about what you should have done,” says Marcella Sabo, author of Whose Kid is it Anyway? and a licensed psychotherapist practicing in New York and New Jersey. Blaming your ex — whether you voice your opinion or keep it to yourself — will only hold you back; verbal blaming does damage to you, your ex, and everyone else who is privy to your outburst. Walk away from screaming matches.
  • Go at the pace of the person most hurt. Generally, the person who was “left” is in a more vulnerable state. A person who is still very hurt and angry will probably not take kindly to friendly overtures. If you or your ex is still grieving, wait: rushing anything can be detrimental to the healing process.
  • Be polite. Minding your P’s and Q’s is never out of line. The rules of polite conduct were invented to make awkward situations manageable. There are other outlets for personal conversations; this is business — particularly in the first year. Be tolerant. The things that bothered you about your ex shouldn’t be as grating now that you no longer live together. Their bad habits and little annoyances will be largely irrelevant to your life. “Hot buttons just won’t bother you anymore,” says Quick. “When the other person stops having power over your life, tolerance just flows naturally.”
  • Don’t ask your children to keep secrets from their other parent. Teaching your kids to keep secrets is teaching them to lie. Instead, learn to edit what you do and say so that your kids won’t have to cover for you.
  • Take the high road. Choose what you know in your heart to be the most positive and productive behavior, no matter how challenging. This is taking the high road — and you must consciously choose to take it again and again.
  • Respect your ex. Quick emphatically suggests creating “divorce vows” in which you promise to treat each other with respect, goodwill, compassion, and tolerance.

Old Spouse/New Spouse

Forming a positive relationship with your ex-spouse’s new love may be the last thing on your mind. But regardless of your desires, if there are children or a business involved, this person is now officially a part of your life. So what sort of relationship will it be? As with your ex, the main options are no contact, simple civility, or being friends. The optimal situation is one that forwards the best interests of your family, which may be uncomfortable for you at first. To promote tension-free interactions, be unfailingly polite. For both you and your children, a lot of good manners and a little good-will can make a world of difference. Good-will has a ripple effect, and so does ill-will — both inspire responsive consequences. There is a beneficial element to forging a positive association with your ex: taking steps toward harmony today can spare you a lot of grief in the future. So work strategically for good results! The likelihood of emotional flare-ups resulting in greater cooperation is slim to none. You’ll need a set of ground rules and some common goals to make the relationship work. For instance, your common goal could be: “We want the children to grow up happy, self-confident, and well-adjusted.” The ground rules could include: “We will not fight in front of the children. We will strive for consensus on all major issues — health, education, religion, etc. — and will support each other’s right to have different household rules on minor issues — such as bedtime, chores, etc.” Of course, it would be easier if the rules were the same in both houses, but this is not necessary for a positive working relationship. Children can easily accommodate two sets of rules as long as they are clear and consistently enforced. There are cases in which an ex-spouse and a new spouse become very good friends. This shouldn’t be surprising: after all, you both chose to marry the same person, and you may find that you have a lot in common. When friendship develops between an old spouse and a new spouse, they might be tempted to discuss the person they have in common. Don’t do it: trading stories about your ex with his/her new spouse is a very bad idea. The idea of being friends with this individual may sound ludicrous to you, but if you and your ex share custody of your kids, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to be at least congenial with his/her new love. This person will inevitably have some responsibility for raising your kids, and will tend to do a better job and be more cooperative if he/she likes you as well as your children. The village approach to child-rearing focuses less on the relationship between caregivers and more on their common goal: everyone, including parents, step-parents, and extended family wants the children to be happy and healthy. These “friendly” situations work because they are based on honor and respect — for each other and for common goals. Even if you don’t like your ex’s new spouse, you can still do your best to be polite and likeable. A friendly, working relationship requires conscious cultivation, meaning that every conversation, every hello, every meeting to discuss an issue is executed with care. Marcella Sabo recommends being gracious to each other above all else. Even if you’re having a disagreement, you can be courteous while remaining firm about your absolute bottom line. Observing the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” — is a good place to start. Also, remember that people like to be thanked for their efforts and to be asked politely for favors. “I make it a practice to personally thank my ex’s new wife whenever she does something nice,” says Eva, a divorced mother of two preteens. “Sometimes I call, and sometimes I send a card. Because Mary feels acknowledged, she’s more willing to listen to my point of view and accommodate my requests.” For instance, Eva recently had an emergency at work that required her to stay at the office until after midnight. “My ex was out of town on business, so I asked Mary if she could pick up the kids after school and keep them overnight,” says Eva. “I think she agreed because I have cultivated a good relationship with her — partly by letting her know how much I appreciate her efforts.” The road to recovery starts with forgiveness. Forgive your ex, and yourself, for the parts you played in contributing to the end of the relationship (especially if your ex left you, you need to identify and “own” your part in the breakup), and give up blame and hatred. Hate can be just as binding as love — even more so sometimes — and if you want to be free to move on with your life, you cannot remain bound to the past. So forgive, and begin creating a new life with relationships that will nourish and excite you.

What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel turning ’round.

images-5I started my first blog in 2007 with the encouragement of a good friend who was blogging at that time. My boys were roughly a few months old, and a year and a half old so blogging gave me a great outlet to keep my friends and family up to date.  In addition, I had moved a number of times in the most recent years and had made some new friends who lived in various states.  That being said, blogging gave me an easy way to communicate with a lot of people at once; most importantly my mother.

In addition to keeping family and friends up to date, my blog met a lot of other needs that I had.  I could write, cathart, meet new people, engage in community, learn about myself and others, and support them.

I used my blog to talk about my family, friends, travel, recipes…you name it.  Sometimes I was boring and my posts were very “mommy” like, other times I pushed the envelope and talked about things that may have made some blush.  It was my blog, I and could write want I wanted to.

Between 2007 and 2009 I blogged.  A lot.  I joined local blogger groups in my town.  I was even nominated for blogging awards.

Then things changed.

My marriage changed.  My job changed.  My life changed.

I wasn’t sure if my blog, at that time, was a good illustration of who I was.  On top of that, I felt watched, judged, and even censored.  Most specifically during the 6-month period of a divorce, job change, and the death of my mother.  During this time my posts became more sporadic, and when I did post it would not surprise me if I got a phone call from a telling me to take the post down for one reason or another.

So I stopped.

I didn’t feel safe in the one place that I had felt the safest.  My blog had connected me with so many great people across the country.  People I had never met in person.  These “virtual friends” were more supportive, encouraging and non-judgmental than people I had called friends and family for years.

My blog was a place where I could open the Kimono and expose myself.  It had turned into a place for people to obtain information and ammunition.

So I stopped.

The last 4 years have been a time of reflection and growth.  I have seen valleys, and I have seen mountaintops.  During this time I have to constantly remind myself that I am safe.   On top of that, and maybe most importantly, what others think of me is not my business and does not define who I really am.

So I stopped.

I stopped caring what others think.  I stopped worrying about what people might do with the info on my blog. I stopped allowing others to have control over me.

So, I started blogging again.

Working with your spouse: For Dummies

workingwithspouseh_600x450You may be asking yourself, does the title mean she thinks it’s not a good idea to work together, or is she going to offer some tips on how to make it work.

The answer is yes.

When I met the man who is now my ex-hubs, we were working for the same company.  The office is a great place to meet people.  After all, you are often with these people more than your non-work friends, and family.

So you are together the majority or the day, you enjoy after work celebrations together, you pull each other through tight deadlines, and you understand what the other is dealing with on a daily basis.  it is easy to build rapport and intimacy with co-workers.

Years after we met and were married, the ex and I had started a marketing company that primarily focused on the needs of the real estate industry.  During a phone conversation with a client one day she said, “that’s sweet that you guys work together”, “I used to work with my husband also”.  When I asked how it went for them and if she had any tips, she laughed and responded with “we got divorced”.

Now, before you get all high and mighty with me and tell me how you and your spouse love working together, let me add that I know everyone is different, and so is every relationship.  The keys are boundaries, communication, and proper expectations.

There are a lot of benefits to working with a significant other:

  • You are working toward a unified goal which brings you even closer to one another. In addition, no one will have more investment in the success of the business.
  • Share resources lowers bills like gas, child-care, and work lunches.  In addition, you have each other’s back for that extra long conference call as the kids step off the bus.
  • A constant sounding board:  Have an idea in the middle of dinner?  Rather than having to wait for feedback like others, just throw it out there and see what your partner thinks.  There is a balance with this one though; try not to let work talk consume your lives.  You had other identities before you became partners.

I can’t talk about the pros without the cons.  Rather than get negative, let’s try to spin these into “tips”:

  • Be sure to work with your strengths.  Often times one has the idea and the other comes on board to help fill in the gaps.  It’s great that the company is growing, but be sure that all involved are doing things they are good at.  The founder may feel passionately about the company because it’s their baby.  To keep everyone engaged, it’s important to be honest about whether you really like what you are doing.  An option here: if it isn’t what you want to do long-term, simply help your partner get to the point that they can hire someone more suited for the job.  Then create another position in the company for yourself or more on.
  • When things are good, they can be really good.  When they are bad, they can be really bad.  Sometimes running a business is feast and famine.  When you have all of your eggs in one basic and things get tight, tempers can get short.  Communication is the key here.  Be honest about the state of things and don’t put off the conversation.  Ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
  • Much like a new romance, the infancy phase of a new company can be exhilarating. All-nighters putting proposals together, brain-storming sessions in bed with your partner, and a constant stream of ideas bouncing back and forth.  Much like a romance, these things can lose their luster.  Be sure to separate work and home life.  Make time for yourselves and your hobbies or find a non-work hobby to do together.  This will hopefully ward off early burn-out.
  • Set the right expectations and job duties.  When the ex and I started working together we joked about putting King and Queen on our cards as titles.  It is true, business owners wear many hats.  Be sure to identify what you like to do, can do, and want to do.  Much like your marriage, this is a partnership, share the load accordingly to prevent bitterness or resentment.

Lastly, and most importantly, the marriage comes first.  Keep your eye on the prize.  If you are like many business owners and entrepreneurs, this will not be the last business you start, but it will hopefully be the only marriage you have!

STOP: In the name of love

imagesWhen you stood at the altar in front of God and all of your friends and family (or the Justice of the Peace, if applicable), you did not do so with a voice in the back of your head saying “I wonder how long we will last”, or “I will ride this wave as long as I can”.  We don’t go into a marriage already thinking about its end.

But some marriages end.  Most do.

That being said, life goes on.  We reflect, we learn, we meet someone new.  We fall in love.  Some of us even think about marrying again (no, not me:)

My boys would love for me to marry The Gingerbread Man.  They adore him.  They adore his son.  They tell me they want to have them as a step-dad and step-brother.  They don’t just want any step-dad and step-brother, they want those roles to be filled by TGBM and his son.  That information alone makes my heart sing.

If you have ever been divorced with children, you know how difficult it can be to have a social life while you are single.  You are entitled to a social life but you feel guilty about it.  You deserve to be in healthy relationship and find someone who cares for you the way you need to be cared for.  But you either don’t have the time to socialize or the people you have met aren’t right.  You refuse to settle though, as you should.

Then one day, it happens.  The stars align, the clouds part, and the sun shines on you and your children.  You find the perfect match.

At this point, some have had enough time to reflect and grow, and they decide to take the plunge again.  Whether you are ready put a ring on it again, literally or figuratively, it is important to remember or consider a few things:

  • This ain’t your first rodeo.  For either of you.  You came into this relationship with “baggage”.  Lay it all out there with your partner.  Whether it’s finances, past hurts, or buttons that can be pushed easily, tell your partner.  You have an opportunity this time around to do things differently; don’t waste it.  Of course, you need to be self-aware enough to have this information to begin with.  If you didn’t take the time to reflect and learn after the last relationship, you may want to consider doing some reflection.
  • It’s not all about you anymore.  If you are considering blending your family with another, be considerate of everyone involved.  Really look at how everyone interacts and address anything that seems off.  Pay attention to the clues your kids give you because they may not be well equipped to tell you what’s on their mind.  Think of your partner here too.  Are you expecting more of them than they are willing to, or should have to give?  For instance, are you expecting them to do all of the communicating with your ex?  Are they comfortable with that?  Really evaluate your expectations of this new relationship.
  • Check the balance sheet.  Finances are a touchy subject for a lot of people and for good reason.  Depending on your past experiences, you may be coming into this relationship too trustworthy with your pocket-book, or a complete control freak because you were burned by an ex.  Whatever the story is, merging the finances can be tricky.  The key is to come clean about your status and concerns from the beginning.  The longer you remain silent, the harder it will be to talk about it.

Finally, and I hate to tell you this;  “divorced” is a relative term.  I know the ink is dry and you may have even gone back to the maiden name.  However, you are stuck with your ex for a while if you have children together so you might as well make the best of it.  Many of the things that drove you crazy during your marriage, may still drive you nutty (especially if one of you did not take time to reflect like I suggested above).  Having kids together means you need to co-parent together though.  As I mentioned above, it’s not about you anymore.  When you are able to co-parent with your ex, your kids feel secure, they have consistency and stability in their lives, and you provide them with a great example to follow.  When you are not able to co-parent, the divisiveness will cause stress on the kids and on your new marriage.

You’re never over-dressed, over-educated or over-insured.

financial-planning-audit-reportingMost women are really good about getting their annual checkups. We don’t necessarily enjoy the process, but we understand that it has to be done. With my family medical history, I am even more neurotic about staying on top of my health. In addition to my physical health, I make sure I do an annual check-up, or audit, of my financial situation. Of course I stay on top of it regularly, but I like to step up the critiquing process at the end of the year.  When I was married, this was something the ex and I would do annually.  Now that I am “single”. or not married, I feel it is even more critical that I take time each year to make sure that my children and I are covered.  During my audit, I like to meet with, or chat with my financial advisor, insurance professional, attorney, etc. Basically I like to make sure all of my ducks are in a row, particularly if a “life event” occurred that year.

During this year’s audit, I was given the advice to get an insurance policy on the ex-hubs.  I must have given my advisor an odd look because he felt compelled to elaborate.  He told me a story; you know how attorneys and insurance folks love to tell you stories!  Heck, he may have made this up as he was going!  He told me a story of a single mom with a couple of children (convenient…she is like me!:).  The ex worked sporadically and the mother was not really sure how much the ex made.  The mother did know that the children were cared for while in the father’s care though, and that the new wife was the primary financial provider in their family.  My advisor went on to say that if that man dies, the mother would then carry the full financial responsibility of caring for the children until they were adults.  Much like if the couple was still married, right?  Right.  Whether married or divorced, you share the financial responsibility of caring for shared children.  “So if you have a policy on a spouse, why wouldn’t you on the parent of your children?”, he asked.  I couldn’t argue with that logic.

So, I followed the advice of my trusted professional and applied for a policy.  If you consider this for your situation, I encourage you to reach out to Petersen International.  Their customer service is top-notch and they can even write a policy without the involvement of your ex (in case they don’t want to, can not, or choose not to participate).  When you talk to your trusted advisors, be sure to discuss how to set up the beneficiary; you may decide that a trust as the beneficiary is right for your situation.

*I am not an insurance professional, tax advisor, attorney or the like.  This is simply my story.  This is not an attempt to sell anything and I am not a rep for, or being compensated by PI!

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution? ~Groucho Marx

When the ex-hubs and I hooked up, we figured that we at least knew how “not” to be married. Between the two of us, our parents had 11 marriages on the books. The ex and I, in our infinite wisdom of 21 and 25, thought we had been given some good examples of what not to do. Fortunately though, we had also witnessed some pretty great marriages as well. Each of us had a set of grandparents that inspired us. In addition, my father and step-mom were a constant reminder of what I wanted in a relationship. These folks didn’t have it any easier than those that called it quits. I was not privy to the intimate conversations and happenings in each relationship, but I do know they were not always rainbows and fishnets.

Sometime in April, I took the boys to a local Easter egg hunt. It was annual community event organized by a local farm. That being said, with only two degrees of separation in the area, I was bound to run into someone I knew. Oh should I say, someone that “knew me”. As the boys and I were running around looking for eggs, they noticed the boy that lives next door to their dad’s house. They spend a lot of time outside playing with said boy so they scream the boy’s name to get his attention. The three boys begin discussing their recent hunt and shared their winnings. While the boys are beaming with pride over every egg they crack, I get to meet the neighbor boy’s dad.

I offered my name and explained my relationship to the boys/their dad/this guy’s neighbor. He has seen me enough during drop-off or pick-up at his neighbor’s at this point; he should have a general idea of my role. However, niceties are expected. As the neighbor dad and I follow the boys and get acquainted, he quickly asked if I have remarried since my divorce. Then he realized we are only about 5 words into our very first conversation and he stops. He looked at me quickly and shyly and mutters something like that is really none of his business. I confirm his suspicion, and tell him in fact it is not his business, then add that I have not remarried.

What is the big deal about getting or being married? Does being divorced or unmarried at a certain age make a person less desirable? Further more, why are some divorced folks in such a rush to remarry when they find a new partner? When you meet one of these aliens do you assume the reason they are not married is because they are somehow defective? I have friends that have chosen not to have children. I now understand their complaints about people that look at them like something is wrong with them for “not wanting” kids. The same thing holds true for those that choose to not marry or remarry.

My mother had four wedding albums when she died. Her last 15 years were spent with a devoted partner that loved her unconditionally, whom I call my step-father. They never married. To the surprise of many, they did not spontaneously combust either.

The problem I have with marriage is that it has become a religious thing. Until 1686, marriage was strictly a civil and not an ecclesiastical ceremony for the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century rejected the prevailing concept of marriage along with many other Catholic doctrines. Martin Luther declared marriage to be “a worldly thing . . . that belongs to the realm of government”, and a similar opinion was expressed by Calvin. The English Puritans in the 17th century even passed an Act of Parliament asserting “marriage to be no sacrament” and soon thereafter made marriage purely secular. It was no longer to be performed by a minister, but by a justice of the peace. You know, that whole separation of Church and State thing.

That being said, I am about to speak out of the other side of my mouth. I love the idea of marriage. When I got married, I loved the idea that I will spend the rest of my life with that man. I will grown old with him and watch my children have children. We will share secrets and inside jokes. That which does not kill us will make us stronger. You know what I’m talking about. What I realized, during the decay and end of my marriage almost a decade later, is that I still get to do all of that with my ex. I even get to grow old with my him, just not as his wife. He is still apart of my life (whether he likes it or not). I am proud to say he is the father of my children. I look back fondly on our time together. Heck, we did a lot of pretty good stuff doing our time. At this point in my life, my ex has been a regular part of the cast in the play for 15 years; he is bound to have an important role. Our time together was temporary though.

Looking back, I wonder if things would have been different in the end if I had acknowledged that it might be temporary; if ending it would have been less painful with that mindset. If I had been less “attached”, would the “detaching” have been easier? (a little foreshadowing there) I think what people have a hard time wrapping their head around is the idea that in one’s lifetime, you may in fact be in more than one committed relationship. Nothing is permanent. My kids go through phases, I go through phases, if you live anywhere other than Oklahoma, the seasons even change. The only constant we have is change. As humans, we attach ourselves to people, places and things. Ideally, when you commit yourself to another, you want to grow and change together; support each other and encourage each other through each phase. However, for reasons which I do not have room for in this post, it doesn’t always work that way.

When I reference non attachment, I am not talking about detachment. I do not mean one should be single. On the contrary, we are made to be with others. I am actually talking about one of the wisest gifts we can give ourselves by letting go of our attachments. “According to the Buddhist point of view, non attachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In non attachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what? When a single person is as happy alone as with someone, they will no longer have to manipulate or “people-please” to win the heart of someone. If they do have a spouse or partner, they are able to love that person for who they are, not for what they get from them. Is that not the basis of a genuine, mature love…or marriage?

So the elephant in the room remains: will I ever remarry? Who knows and who really cares.

Project Hallway

I am not really sure you can even call it a hallway.  It is more like a small room of doors.  Within this little room is a door to the kitchen, the bathroom, and two bedroom doors.  The one area of wall actually houses a couple of storage drawers and a linens cabinet.  The lighting is limited at best so we have always had a floor lamp in the corner.  In addition to the lack of character in this area of the home, we had covered a non-functioning attic fan in an effort to be more energy efficient. 

What we had was an eyesore.

The man of the house, feeling pinteresting, deciding to do something about the problem.

  • He built a “window” that he covered with sticky paper that made the Plexiglas look frosted.
  • He then hung this “window” from the ceiling.  I believe he used zip-ties to do this. This step hid the eyesore of the order attic fan.
  • He then attached various fabrics to the wall, and draped them to the window, adding some dimension and a little whimsy to the box.  I doubt he was thinking about whimsy when he did this but I thought it sound good.

Again, I am terrible about taking pictures before or during the process, I was too busy trying to protect myself form the first window that fell on us.  Note: do not use a large frame as they are not secure enough.

One Happy Yippy

So back in May I noticed this spot on my skin.  Having fair, sensitive skin, I am used to the occasional unexplained “blemish” that shows up out of nowhere and vanishes just as miraculously.

Well this spot didn’t vanish.  On the contrary it has lingered for three months.  I know what you are thinking: Go to the dermatologist.  I hear you!  I know the signs of skin cancer and I realize if something will not heal after a few weeks, it needs to be checked out.  Well, while I wait for my appointment later in September, I thought I would see what kind of remedy I could create in my kitchen.

My attempts to medicate this little spot started with the usual suspects; neo-sporin, a number of over-the-counter and doctor-prescribed “ointments”.  None of which worked.  I thought if the stuff with all the chemical can’t help, mane I should take a more natural approach.  After a little research I headed to my local Whole Foods for ingredients:

Beeswax (1/64 cup)
Infused Coconut Oil (1/4 cup)
Lavender (about 4 drops for fragrance)
Vitamin E (I used the oil from 2 capsules)

I placed the jar of Coconut oil in the microwave until it was liquid.  As I was doing that, I was melting and measuring the beeswax.  Mix the oil and wax together in your pan, then add the oil and fragrance of your choice.

Once I was ready to pour my oil into a container, I realized I had not thought that far ahead.  The man of the house happens to chew SNUS so we used a couple of empty containers of SNUS for the balm.  You could also use an empty altoid tin.  If I get ambitious and want to make a larger batch I may find some unmarked tins on-line.  The amount here filled up two containers.  We let it site for about 30 minutes and it was firm and ready to use.

This stuff is great, it goes on easily and is not oily or greasy.  It can be used on any part of the body as well.  Now, here is the exciting part.  After three days using this little concoction, that little stubborn, three month old spot was gone.

Sorry I don’t have pictures of the process, frankly I wasn’t sure if it wold work.  I will load some on the next batch.