Monday, April 7, 2014

a midlife blessing...



I tend to get very introspective this time of year. It was this time nearly 4 years ago that I knew I had to change my life. It was this time 2 years ago that my marriage was legally ended. A lot has happened in 4 years. A lot has happened in 2 years. I've changed a lot in 4 years. I've changed even more in the past two. I've grown. I've matured. I've become even more steadfast in my convictions, desires and motivations to succeed and grow and live and thrive. As I look back I can see that despite my passions and curiosities I was terribly lost and confused. There's a lot I still don't know. I don't know where I am headed (not to be confused with not knowing where I want to be.) I don't know how these cards will all pan out. In fact, I know that there's just so much I don't know and life is about learning and I intend to learn all that I can. If I've learned one thing I've learned that everything I have is a blessing. I'm not lost. Confused. I'm not dazed. I am very much aware of where I am, what I am and who I am. I call this a blessing. Perhaps I should call it a mid life blessing.

When I told my husband I wanted a divorce, he thought I was crazy. He told me I wasn't thinking properly and that I must be having some sort of midlife crisis. He thought that I would come to my senses again one day. After all, why would any woman want to break up a family, and lose the security of a home, shelter and family. Why would a woman want to give up happiness? Unless... unless of course the woman wasn't happy.

Now imagine being in a situation where home, the one place you are supposed to feel safe and secure and loved, turned out to be anything but. Imagine if your home made you sad and lonely. Imagine if you did everything to stay away from your very own home. As a mother with three young children, that's nearly impossible. And then you realize that it's not necessarily your home, per se, that's making you sad... but someone in it. You become sick and sad, depressed, and you start walking on eggshells. You realize that you've stopped living and you're merely existing - you're merely waiting for the day to be over so you can go to sleep, only to wake up to the same angst and pains the next day, and the day after that and the day after that, over and over again and it never seems to end. You know this is no way to live. You know there is so much more out there to see and taste and do but it all seems so unattainable.

They say that a traumatic event or situation often is the catalyst for divorce. Right before mine I had surgery. It was during that time, when I was stuck at home, unable to drive for 3 weeks, that I had my epiphany - for lack of a better word. I may have had too much time on my hands, but looking back I am so grateful to have had that time. It helped me to see things as they were. It helped me to focus - I could see where I had come from, where I was and where I was headed. I knew I had to change my own course. I wasn't exactly sure how to though. The idea of divorce had never entered my mind. I knew of no one who was divorced. There was no divorce in my family. I had a negative image of it. Like a woman scorned - a woman wearing a scarlet letter, scorned. I didn't really want to be thought of as divorced. I had all these preconceived notions in my mind and none of them were terribly good. But I also knew that my life needed a change. A drastic one.

I was confused about a lot. But I knew three things. I knew I wasn't crazy. I knew I wasn't happy and I knew I needed a change. But the type of change I was looking at - as with any major event - isn't something that can be done impulsively. It's  isn't something that one rushes into... It's something that must be done deliberately after much thought and consideration, after weighing all of one's options. It really must be the last resort... what is done when nothing else can be done.

I think people have this preconceived notion - Someone doesn't choose divorce because they want to see if there might be something or someone better out there. It's always a last resort - or it should be. It's not easy. It's not fun. In fact, you can experience some of your hardest, deepest, darkest days as you navigate the seemingly ominous journey of divorce. It's not something one decides to do in haste the way one might decide, at the spur of the moment, to drive into New York City for dinner, or become a redhead or chop off one's hair. Divorce is life-changing, and life-altering. But when you get to the other side, you will see that sunshine and warmth awaits. The battle isn't over and the struggles won't be either, but the knowledge that the future is bright and out there and that anything and everything is possible is a gift that one simply cannot put a value on.

You can't put a price on happiness. It's not something that can be won or purchased. All the money in the world won't buy happiness. And there are plenty of people with money, a lot of money, and trust me... they are far from happy. Happiness isn't what's defined by what's around you but what's inside of you.

I have no need or desire for fancy sports cars, huge McMansions, and I don't need my closets filled to the brim with designer clothing. I like nice things and I appreciate nice things but they won't make my life better or happier. In fact, dare I say, I'm liking the simpler things - the simpler life... it's easier this way for sure. I'm lighter. I'm freer. It's hard to explain unless you've been here.

In the past couple of years I have found happiness. I've had great moments of it - moments I never would have had if I had still be married. It's not all easy. It's not all happy. I have come a very long way and I know I still have a long way to go. But I have been given the greatest gift of all. The gift of a second chance. The gift of being able to start over. I can take all the knowledge I have gained, all the lessons learned from mistakes, and the wisdom gained from failures and use all these experiences to create a better me and a better life for myself and my children. How lucky am I? I truly consider this to be a midlife blessing.

It's been a good two years. I'm looking forward to the next two years.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

To be able to make a choice may be one of the greatest gifts...



I had plans this weekend but my partner in crime was bedridden. So I took to my couch with my blanket and my Netflix. I do love weekends like this - we all need a little downtime. I tried to get some writing done today and in fact I did get a lot of writing done. Only to wad it all up in a ball and toss it. Nothing like an unproductive productive day...

This morning I watched The Hours, the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham's novel, loosely based on Virginia Woolfe's  Mrs. Dalloway, and brilliantly acted by Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolfe, Julianne Moore as a 1950's housewife, Meryl Streep as a modern day editor living and working in New York city and Ed Harris as an AIDS stricken poet and longtime friend of Meryl Streep's character. Without giving any of the story away, much of the movie focuses on depression and the various stages of unhappiness each character experiences at the time. Now unhappiness and depression are universal and timeless. True depression, as suffered by Virginia Woolfe and Ed Harris' character cannot be easily fixed or remedied. Medicine works as a band aid, merely covering the surface. I focused on Julianne Moore's character - the young 1950s housewife, and mother expecting her second child, who seemingly had it all. I thought to myself how glad I am that I live in modern times and not mid century. Sure things are much more complex and more complicated today. I would much rather raise my children when times were simpler, but as a woman, as a woman with choices I am so grateful to be living today. 

In 2006 I read a book that may very well have changed my life. Now I know that sounds so dramatic, and it probably is, but it really did. I remember picking up a book that at the time was all the rage. In fact, I am sure people are still talking about it today. It was the topic of book clubs. It was impossible to track down at the library and it was on the lips of everyone I knew. In the world of books I do think that word of mouth is the most powerful form of communication. I, always impatient and always impulsive, couldn't bear to wait for someone to finish a borrowed copy. I had to have my own. Luckily the bookshelves  at my local bookstore were lined with them. I opened the book and was hooked. 

I never expected the book to resonate so strongly. I never expected to feel empathy. Compassion. Pain. While our lives were so different, and we were so very different, we seemed to have one common thread. I read and I cried as the author described how she'd collapse onto the cold, hard bathroom floor and burst into sobs. She knew she had every reason to be happy but she wasn't. It was her marriage. It was causing an unbearable sadness. I overheard many describe her as spoiled and other unkind words, but her thoughts and her actions resonated so strongly. The pain of sadness, the pain of loneliness, the pain of being trapped in an unhappy marriage... If you've experienced it, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't you will need to just take my word for it - or someone else's word. But it's a pretty bad and painful place to be. I was lucky and grateful to have my young children, my youngest at the time wasn't even walking yet. They kept me focused and grounded and the kept the smile on my face. During the day I would lose myself in arts and crafts, diapers, and preschool and at night I would lose myself in the magical, amazing worlds of Italy, Indonesia and Bali. I would be lying if I said I didn't want to trade places with her. Anyone with young children knows how exhausting and overwhelming they can be. Who, after all, wouldn't want to taste and see all the treasures of Italy? Who wouldn't want to lose themselves in the peace and quiet of an ashram? And who wouldn't want to fall in love in Bali? I was home in Connecticut, but transported, if only in my mind, to these wonderful and exotic places. Books are truly wonderful that way. 

I was able to push these feelings aside for a while but they would eventually return and when they did they hit with a strength so severe I often felt as though I had had the wind knocked out of me. It had gotten to the point where I couldn't ignore these feelings that played on me both emotionally and physically. I knew, first hand, what those hard, cold bathroom floors felt like myself. I knew what it was like to burst into tears without warning. I knew what it was like to sob uncontrollably because I was so sad. I knew sadness and panic and fear. There were days I walked around with an elephant on my chest and the world on my shoulders. I wept for the sadness that was my life and I wept for the sadness that my life would become if I opted to end my marriage. Neither choice seemed ideal to me. But I was aware that I had a choice. I was grateful I had a choice. So many do not. So many women, decades before us, didn't have the same choices. Sure there were divorces. But they were almost unheard of. A mother's place was in the home - tending to her husband and children.

But that's not really where a mother's place is today, is it? We are all over the place. There are mothers who stay at home and there are mothers who work from home and there are mothers who work in offices - some because they have to and some because they must. 

My life is not at all how I imagined it to be. It's not at all how I planned. My life isn't perfect, but I'm content - I'm happy. I'm in a good place. I am where I am because of the decisions I have consciously made. I am grateful to have had the freedom and opportunities to make those decisions. There's a lot I do have, and a lot that I don't have. There's a lot I want still, I won't deny that, but how lucky am I to have found freedom and happiness? They're such gifts, you know?


Friday, March 28, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling and 12 Amazing Life Lessons from Gwyneth Paltrow



Warning... I'm in a snarky mood... I'm in a very snarky mood!

Who says"conscious uncoupling?" Why can't you say we're separating, splitting, going our separate ways or divorcing like the rest of the world does? What the fuck is a conscious uncoupling? Is she simply too cool to get divorced? Is it something she's simply far above? I truly think it is. Maybe she's embarrassed by the fact that her marriage failed. (Rumors are swirling around. Tempting, but I won't speculate.) After all, divorce happens to other people but we never - not in a million years - ever imagine it would happen to us, right? But it has, it did and it is. And you, Ms. Paltrow, in that sense, are no different from me.Your marriage, like mine failed. It really is as simple as that.

When I first heard the news, after my initial "what the fuck?" comment I must admit I paused for a moment and was disappointed, sad for this couple who seemingly had it all... Who seemingly were perfect together. Those of us who've been through a divorce know how sad it is for all parties involved. Not one person is unaffected. Not one person doesn't suffer, doesn't feel hurt or pain. A divorce is the end of something much like death is the end of something. Divorce is final and permanent. It marks, for many, the end of a dream. There are many reasons why people choose to divorce, part ways, separate... I've learned not to speculate. Our stories are all so different. Our experiences are all so different.

On one hand I would like to say that I would never wish divorce on even my worst enemy. On the other hand I might almost say everyone should go through it - not for the sake of "uncoupling" then "recoupling" but for the experiences and personal growth gained. Divorce opens your eyes. It makes you see things you've never seen before. It has you looking at things from different angles. It has you looking at yourself from all angles, in ways you've never seen yourself before. You become deeply introspective, even philosophical, maybe even spiritual. Eventually you become calmer, and more patient. You learn what really matters in life.

I really want to feel badly for Ms. Paltrow, but for some reason I just can't. I think maybe it's because she's gotten to a place that's so far removed from the rest of us. I think maybe it's because she's just so out of touch - And we can't, and we mustn't blame her celebrity. There are plenty out there who are real and who are incredibly grounded.

I'm compassionate. I'm kind. I'm feeling... Really I am... I get the broken hearts and bruises and dreams deferred, but it's just so hard to feel badly for her... Every time she opens her mouth she inserts her own foot into it deeper and deeper. Recently she was quoted telling a reporter that she had it harder than most... Does she truly believe that with an estimated net worth of a bazillion (more or less) dollars your life is harder than the working mother who earns $50,000 or $60,000, or even just $25,000?  It's just so hard to  feel so badly for someone who is that out of touch.

I read recently on Yahoo news, an article that was titled 12 Amazing Life Lessons from Gwyneth Paltrow. I will share her thoughts, then my own. Because this woman just brings out the snark in me.
My comments are in blue. I sincerely hope that piece was a farce. Below my snark released itself. I had no control. I thought about not publishing this piece, worried about my own squeaky clean image, but then again my image isn't squeaky clean and I have no intention of asking Ms. Paltrow to write a forward or introduction to any of the books I plan on writing and publishing over the next 20 or so years.

*** 


Interest in Gwyneth Paltrow's ways has soared this week, after the actress posted news of her separation from husband Chris Martin on her lifestyle site Goop.

We can learn so much from her - including, but not limited, to:

1. Alcohol makes you look like a tool: "I think it’s incredibly embarrassing when people are drunk. It just looks so ridiculous. I find it very degrading. I think, oh, you’re really degrading yourself right now, to be this pissed out in public." Ok, here I agree with her. Completely. This may be the only time I ever will.

2. If you're rich, you're rich. Own it: "I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year." BULLSHIT. Own it? In what sense? My parents would be horrified. ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED. I bet her mother is too. How do you own the fact that you're rich? By making others feel rotten? Inferior? There are a great number of rich, very rich people who are down to earth, kind and philanthropic. There are a great deal of rich, very rich people whom you would never know are rich because they don't go broadcasting such information all over the place. This is called class, Ms. Paltrow. Money can buy you lots of things but it cannot buy class. Your mother has it but I'm afraid that you don't. And on that note, there are plenty of non-rich people who exude class.

Maybe you should pretend to be someone who makes $25,000 a year. Perhaps this would help you see just how completely ridiculous you have become, and then maybe you will see that we are no different you and I... Take away all your material possessions and what you have is a pretty blonde... but not much else. You and I, Ms. Paltrow, are cut from the same cloth. We grew up near each other, went to similar schools on the same side of town, and while my parents weren't actors my lifestyle was not much different from yours.

But now Ms. Paltrow, because I too am "uncoupled" I live a very, very different lifestyle. You will never ever know what it's like to have to sacrifice or go without. You will never know what it's like to tell your child they can't have something they want because you can't afford it. You will never know what it's like to tell your children that they can't do, have or go places because you can't afford it. You will never have to dig between the cushions to look for spare change to buy a carton of milk. You will never have to tell your children they can't have a (macrobiotic organic vegan) ice cream cone because the rent or water or heat has to be paid. You will never worry that you'll not have enough money to fill your gas tank. Yes, Gwyneth, I went to private schools, summered in the South of France and lived a life of privilege. But what separates me from you - other than the fact my children have normal names - is that I have experienced life. Real life. Real, hard life. And you know what? I may like it a little bit better? I think it's made me a better person. Because when I come out of this, and I am and will, I will be doing better things than selling $500 shirts on my macrobiotic website. When I get back on my feet - by going to an office, which I know is as much of a cop out in your eyes as my winning the lottery, I will first give to my children the things they need and want and then I will help those who are in need of help.


3. Being a mother is no excuse for not working out: "Every woman can make time [to work out] — every woman — and you can do it with your baby in the room. There have been countless times where I’ve worked out with my kids crawling around all over the place. You just make it work." I work out 5 times a week, when I am able. But there are days and even weeks sometimes when this is not possible. My stomach still looks like it housed at least a dozen or so children at one time or other. No workout will rid the excess skin and stretchmarks. I may not be as genetically blessed as you, and maybe I would love a washboard stomach. The fact I don't have one has less to do with laziness than my gene pool. But I am not from a shallow gene pool and my excess skin and stretch marks and scars and badges of honor and courage and I own them and wear them proudly.

And what about those working mothers who have no help whatsoever? Who must dress and feed the children before work. Who must dress and feed themselves before dropping the children to daycare or school and then running off to the office. Ah the office. Such slackers are all those women who work in offices! No wonder they don't work out! Then these exhausted women rush home after a full day and put in the equivalent of another full day as there is homework and dinner and laundry and tidying and all the other stuff that your staff and nannies take care of.

Furthermore, I am quite sure that the working out you do involves more than a simple 20 minute bout of aerobic activity... Something tells me that you might have a staff for that as well.


4. Cup-a-Soup is the LITERAL WORST: "I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup."
First of all, is that sentence even grammatically correct?
I have no words. This is just the stupidest comment ever. We're not Cup-a-Soup people either but... wait, scratch that. There is something WORSE than Cup-a-Soup. It's Ramen. And guess what. I let my kids eat it!!! I don't even try to make it remotely better for you by adding tofu or peas or kale or ANYTHING. Bring on the Ramen. It was my best friend in college, in my contraband croc-pot! I ate tons.


5. Natural things are good *eats sand*: "We’re human beings and the sun is the sun—how can it be bad for you? I don’t think anything that’s natural can be bad for you." What the FUCK??? Dogs shit and pee on the sand.

6. A penchant for healthy stuff can take you to dark places: “During the strict macrobiotic chapter of my life, I ate miso soup every day for breakfast and sometimes with dinner as well.” Oh girl, if that's the darkest place you've ever been to, then I have even less respect for you. In fact, I really may even feel a tiny bit sorry for you... Nah...

7. Rapping like a BAD MUTHA is fun: “He [Chris Martin] can’t have background music on. It has to be 100 percent of his attention. But if he isn’t at home, I turn on the hip-hop. I’m like a bad mutha rapping along to every word as I cook.” Why do I find this so hard to believe? Step into my house and I think you might think Eminem is tame!

8. Beware the concierge: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?’" I'm slamming my head on the table right about now. First of all groom yourself before you go away. That's just gross. Now don't listen to Gwynnie folks... Do listen to the concierge. When in Paris eat as Parisians do. Meat, cheese, bread... and eat copious amounts of them because French Women Don't Get Fat! Drink wine and champagne. Drink copious amounts of them. And I am quite certain that a Frenchman would scoff at the request of "organic champagne."

9. If in doubt over your own singing ability, just turn to your good friend Actual Beyonce: “BeyoncĂ©’s like, ‘Okay. The singing is great. But you’re not having any fun.’ She’s like, ‘Remember when we were at Jay’s concert and Panjabi MC comes on and you do your crazy Indian dance? Do that. Be you!’"
Huh?

10. Canned dairy products are almost (but not quite) as bad as Cup-a-Soup: "I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin." Seriously. For real? I really wanna jam a Twinkie down her skinny little throat. Tinned cheese? Not sure what that is but clearly this prude never had any fun with her husband and a can of Reddi Whip... ;)

Addendum:
My friend Jess reminded me about this cheese in a tin that was an integral part of our junk food diet in the late 70s and early 80s. It's called Cheese Wiz. It comes in a can and you can spray it, much like Reddi Whip. It was a culinary delight served on Ritz crackers. And then washed down with a refreshing, saccharine-filled Tab. I can taste it now! Another delicacy I can taste is the wonderful onion dip we made to eat with our potato chips. Made from Lipton's Cup-a-Soup no less! Those were as much a rite of passage as were our Dr. Scholl's sandals, tube tops and cut off jean shorts - all worn together, of course. Outfits never complete without at least half a can of aerosol hair spray. Ah, the good ol, good ol days!


11. Everyday dinner parties can result in disaster: "One evening when I had my wood-burning stove going I realised I hadn’t thought of dessert." Oh my gosh Darnitall. Too bad y'all didn't have the Reddi Whip in the fridge... You could have served it on your grass-fed organic blueberries and strawberries.

12. Your guiltiest cravings will hit you in London: “One cold wintry day in London, I was dreaming about salad nicoise—one of my favorites.” A salad Nicoise ... Her guilty craving?? She for real? Give me a bag of m&ms filled with sugar and artificial colors, a pint of ice cream, some brownies AND the Reddi Whip...

Such a shame... she really is such a beautiful girl...

I hope this made you laugh... at least smile - Have a great weekend!

Post Script:
It should be known that I am a huge supporter of the local and homegrown movement. I frequent my local farmers and farmer's markets. I watch our family's diet and monitor additional sugars, salts and fats. I believe in using the freshest ingredients whenever possible, however, there are always exceptions to the rule... And I truly believe that everything is OK in moderation. "Junk food", while limited, is not banned. My diet is 60-75% produce on any given day but I love my Diet Coke. I NEED chocolate every now and then and I think pizza may very well be the best food ever invented!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Still finding my footing and chasing my dreams...


Where to begin!?
(There's a little venting here and if you're going to take issue please close out this tab.)

It's been an insanely crazy month with a lot of my hard work starting to come to fruition. The stuff you dream about and you wonder whether these dreams will ever really come true... Well, it seems as though they may. I've just signed a 3 year consulting contract with a health and wellness company to help launch their food division by heading their public relations and social media department. I can't yet divulge everything but I will soon. This is, for the moment, a part time position that will allow me to be able to spend time with my children and let me work on my other ventures. But as the company grows so does the potential of my position. Because I have so much in the hopper I will be working around the clock, and last night I didn't come up for air until well after Midnight. It will be all worth it. I have another huge project in the works. I am talking huge. Epic. A dream come true. Though I don't know for certain if this dream will come true, I do know that I've taken the first and most important step and right now, the signs are pointing to YES. Forgive me for being cryptic and I promise to divulge when I can. It's just that I am so scared to jinx myself!

I've finally gotten to that place where I am being acknowledged, appreciated and respected for what I do. It feels good. Scratch that - it feels great!  I will continue to write for the larger national and international online and print publications. I need to focus my efforts on my own site and continue to grow it. It's where my focus needs to be now. It's found it's place, it's voice and it's poised to become something larger that will also serve as the necessary platform for one of my projects.

These years of sweat and toil and focus and determination are starting to pay off. It feels good. There's a sense of accomplishment that I have never experienced before. I just need that one last giant step. I have the most amazing people behind me and their support and enthusiasm mean more than anything. It's amazing what a little positive reinforcement and a few pep talks can do to your spirit.

I'm still being met by the "opposing team." The Opposing Team who still thinks that I am wasting my time and doesn't take what I am doing seriously and shows no respect for me or what I do. And despite it all it still hurts and it's still hard to swallow. Sometimes I feel as though someone's trying to knock me off my feet and prevent me from being successful.

On Friday evening I was out with a few people in New York. It was a very important evening to me and it had been blocked out for nearly two months. In fact, the rest of the day's events revolved that evening's plans. I hadn't expected it to be a late evening and after a long, busy, inspiring but exhausting week in the city I was looking forward to going home early, tossing on my pajamas, resting my feet and having a glass of wine. But the evening started a bit later and lasted a bit longer than originally planned. It was to be my scheduled weekend without the children so I, initially, didn't worry about being home at any particular time - if at all that night. I could have stayed in the city. I had agreed to give my ex my free weekend so that he could go skiing with his girlfriend. I've swapped a lot of my weekends before. My one condition was that I needed to keep my Friday night to myself. Initially there was no problem. Then there was. The drive to the mountain was 4 hours away. He needed the entire weekend. That I couldn't offer this time around. So he was not going to go.

I could not very well put a dream on hold. I would not put a dream on hold. And then suddenly he decided that was going to go skiing again and he told me he would watch the children but bring them to me later that night. Which would have been fine. But our night started later and ended later. And suddenly my phone kept buzzing with texts asking when I was coming home? What train would I be on? It was incessant. And embarrassing. Would I dare text him during a business dinner? Never. And despite the fact that I had given up my weekend for him I was suddenly "flaking out" because I was at an important event. Something he knew was important to me. My heart sank. It's still sad. I want to shout Move on and leave me alone and let me try to realize my dreams and stop trying to stop me! I gave up MY weekend for crying out loud... Sigh... I gave up another weekend so he could go skiing in Italy. And another so he could go to the Caribbean and then another so that he could go to Block Island or someplace. I'm seeing a pattern. Suddenly I'm realizing that my desire to be accommodating has just made it easier for him to take advantage of me. I went to Nantucket 2 years ago. Yes I went to London last year - that was business and pleasure. I've traveled twice in 2 years. But I also always take the kids for his business trips and has a great many more than I do. I'm not trying to be catty but I'm now waking up. When I make personal plans I always stick to my designated parenting weekends. I've talked to a lot of my friends about this - both men and women. The consensus has basically been unanimous. He should keep his weekends with the kids. And that I am being taken advantage of. Ugh... sigh...

I need the weekend after this one. It's my scheduled weekend without the children. I have plans. In order to get back on track I will most likely have the kids again this weekend. That's 3 weekends in a row which really is no big deal at all save for the fact that he's putting his social life ahead of the children's. They aren't blind to this. Maybe we will share this weekend. I offered it up to him. I asked him if he'd be interested. His answer was IDK. In other words, if nothing better comes up... This is getting old and I don't think it will ever end.

I will be divorced 2 years in about a week's time. I thought all the kinks would be worked out by now. I guess not. Maybe they never will be. All I know is that I am stronger and am holding my ground. I didn't run home at the sight of the first text on Friday evening. I did not give him my next free weekend so he could go away with his girlfriend... He can do what the rest of us do, make plans on his designated weekend or say no.

As for me with my two potentially large, huge, projects, there could be a lot of travel in my future. I will do the best I can to schedule everything accordingly. If I can't perhaps I will be able to bring my children with me... it's still too early to know all this yet. But stay tuned folks 'cause epic shit is about to happen!

And I will never forget who stuck by me. I will never forget who rooted for me. I will never forget who cheered along the sidelines and who picked me up while I was down. And conversely, there have been naysayers and there have been jealousies... All I have to say is this... Karma, baby... She be a bitch!

Thank you for letting me vent and air out my frustrations. I feel a little better! 

Jessica

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's not impossible!



"Never say Impossible - the word itself says I'm Possible!" Audrey Hepburn


Years ago I was told by the person who was supposed to be closest to me that I was wasting my time... I was told that my website and my writing were a waste of time. They weren't contributing to the family. I was also told that social media was a waste of time... and "who uses it, anyway?"

Through my blog, The Entertaining House, I had found a passion. I had found an outlet for my creativity. Through The Entertaining House I had found a sense of inner peace and a sense of pride. I was creating and perfecting my craft. I had become my own editor of my own magazine. When a post was finished I felt a sense of accomplishment. I got a great source of pleasure and satisfaction and there was nothing as rewarding as a comment left by a reader. My writing, my work, my pieces were being appreciated and enjoyed. And people were coming back for more, and more and more began stopping by. Eventually I would be listed as a recommended read on top blog in the US, UK and France. Editors, press, and brands started to reach out to me. 

I got my first writing assignments as a direct result of my website. I wasn't getting paid back then but a steady stream of requests were starting to come my way. I knew that in order to make a name for myself I would have to do a little bit of work for free. I was told that I was wasting my time still. How could I be wasting my time when the very thing that I was doing was making me the happiest? For I am happiest when I create. I am happiest when I write, when I tell or share a story. I didn't listen to the naysayer but, for the first time in my life, I decided to follow my heart and my passion. Dreams are meant to be chased. Goals are meant to be set. I worked hard at creating and perfecting my craft. I can see the improvement and maturation and I am proud of what I have created and what I have become. Slowly assignments started coming my way. Some paid minimally, but they paid. But the more I produced the more I was requested and sought after. I've had some bumps in the road, and as with any creative process and any consulting position some good things come to an end... and yet I have always believed that when one door closed another was about to open - that smaller projects would give way to bigger projects. I knew that when one project ended another would be just around the corner. Through this all the social media that apparently no one ever uses has been a tremendous vehicle for my craft... It has helped me spread the word. It has been invaluable in helping me promote myself and promote others. It seems, that over the years, I have become quite the expert in this relatively new field. I understand what works and what doesn't and the power that it has when used properly and how it can be incredibly helpful and rewarding... As I've dabbled I've had my ears and eyes wide open and I've learned incredible amounts. I had no idea just how much I learned and how much I knew until I was brought me in to see if I could potentially help their company - to be their voice and represent their brand. I sort of amazed myself with my answers. But I never wavered and I never faltered. For I knew. I knew I had the right answers. I've listened and watched the best. Sometimes the best form of communication, I have learned, is done when no words have been spoken. Watching and, listening and learning are crucial. 

Over the past couple of months, through word of mouth, through friends who have watched me learn and grow, my plate is becoming quite full. Soon there will be a pile on top of it. Soon, very soon, I will have to say thank you but no thank you - I simply cannot take another bite! And while I have incredible friends who have done nothing but support me and been faithful to me, I have to give myself some of the credit as well. I have to credit myself for working so hard - for the determination and the hours I have logged... For not allowing myself to give up and not telling myself that what I wanted wa silly or nonsensical or a waste of time. Because none of that was true. None of that is true. Dreams and hopes are not a waste of time. 

I am waiting for approval for the Big Project... for the go ahead... it's been several months in the works... emails, phone calls, meetings. I am not going to give up. I not only know I can spearhead this project but I know that it is perfect for me and I am perfect for it. I won't give up. I will remain patient and determined... THIS is what I dreamed of 5 years ago. Success doesn't happen overnight... and I have a long way to go. But I have come so far. And I am determined to get the job and get the job done. I'm not there yet. I can't just yet say that I am a success, but each and every day I am a step closer. And I am pleased and I am proud. And I will not give up! 

And nor should you - whatever it is that you want to do or be, do it... go for it! You will be so glad you did! So whether you're just starting out or you're starting over, don't let anyone or anything get in your way... especially your own fears!




Jessica

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How my divorce made me a better person...



None of us ever imagine ourselves in this situation and yet here we are. We can't go back. We can look back from where we came. We can be happy. We can be sad. We can reminisce. We have fond memories and sad moments and these all define us. All of our experiences define who we are today and who we are still to become. I can say with absolute certainty that divorce has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Of course I still wish it hadn't caused 4 other people pain and if I could have prevented that I would have. But I daresay that we have all come out ahead. This is not to say that our lives have become easier - they haven't at all but I do believe that our lives have more meaning. My children are learning and growing and thriving. They know that good things aren't handed out to us on silver platters and we all must work hard in order to achieve success. My children have wants but they have no needs. Children should have wants. Not enough do these days as they're given everything. I want my children to understand the value of a dollar and the benefits of hard work. Strong work ethics, I believe, are more important than good grades. My children are learning that you can't give up. I think they're learning as they watch me - as they watch me try to get my footing and find my own balance. They watch as I do the best I can to be the best parent I can be. They know their needs are put ahead of my own and they know I have their best interest in mind. They know that with absolute certainty. They see me struggle. They know that we have to watch our spending and make decisions wisely. I talk to them openly about finances and debt (I have none) and how you must pay your bills first and then choose how best to spend what's leftover... if anything is leftover. They know that credit cards are bad and that saving up for what you want is good. They didn't know any of this before the divorce.

As for me I have learned not to sweat the small stuff. So what if the kids haven't made their beds today? I have learned that somehow everything will fall into place as it's meant to. I have learned that deadlines get met, lunches get made and kids get to school. I have learned that chores get done and it's not the end of the world if dishes get left in the sink overnight. I have learned that I cannot do it all. I have learned not to say yes unless I can commit myself and unless I really want to. I've become a much better listener. I think that has made me a better mother, friend, communicator and a better writer. I have learned not to give up. I have learned to rely on myself and that yes I can do it. I have learned that confidence is a powerful thing and I have learned to wear mine proudly. I have learned that my dreams, ambitions and desires are neither worthless or a waste of time and that I should go for them. I have learned that I do have a say in the matter. I have learned that I am talented. I have learned to be patient. I have learned that I am incredibly accepting and tolerant. I have learned that I am good and kind and smart and funny. I have learned that I am ambitious. I have learned to take a chance. I have learned to stare fear in the face. I have learned to step outside of my comfort zone. I have learned to fight my own battles and to stick up for myself. I have learned that I have so much to offer. I have learned that I do have strength and I do have willpower. I have learned to push myself... hard. I have learned to take a chance. I am quite certain that all these traits were stifled in my marriage and I needed to regain my independence to find myself again.

So my hope for you all is not to get divorced or go out and live on  your own- but to be prepared for such. A spouse could die, or lose his job... and alas divorce can and does happen. Make sure that you don't lose yourself in your marriage... in your role as mother and as wife. It's so important that we retain our sense of self. Follow those passions and dreams. Pick up a new skill. And educate yourself - I do not mean in the sense of schooling, though that is important as well, but educate yourself in terms of running a home. I'm not saying that you ought to go out and get a job instead of staying home to raise your children, but I am saying that you should hone in on one of your talents and turn it into a skill - a marketable skill. None of us who are single ever expected to be and you shouldn't either but you should know where things stand - your finances what bills there are and what's due. You should know who to call in case of emergency - who handles, house and lawn maintenance. You should know about insurance policies and stocks and other investments. You should have some idea how much money comes into and out of the home each month. You should know how to use a few basic tools and fix a few basic things around the home. Surprisingly there is not much I can't do. I was, for so many years, led to believe that I couldn't or what I was doing was wrong. And maybe I am doing it wrong, but I'm getting the right results!

Jessica