Ready or Not

This week has been surreal. And busy. So busy. It helps distract from the greatness of preparing to move and all the change. So much change.

This morning is my last chance to take a breather, finish my coffee, and focus on the final round of packing. In two days, movers will be stomping through my house, looking at me expectantly for their next order. I have the boxes labeled and categorized in difference corners of the house. I am running the last load of the dishwasher and laundry. I never realized how many clothes I had until I was forced to pack my entire wardrobe into a couple of suitcases and bins. And my shoe collection is insane. How is it that I only wear a few pairs of them consistently?

In the midst of all this packing, I’m actually getting called about jobs. One employer even invited me for a live interview next week. Moving, divorcing, continuing to raise two kids, and looking for a new job all at the same time. Challenging, but its happening so I’ll go with it.

My dogs are moving in with my neighbor for the next seven weeks. I groomed both of them and have their boxes of belongings packed. Poor pooches. I know they will be fine, but I feel like I’m deserting them.

I haven’t cried in like two days, so that is good. At first I was getting all sentimental and counting the number of “sleeps” I have left to wake up with my pups, and how I’ll miss my big bathroom, and how I love sitting in my sun room drinking coffee in the  morning…  and quite honestly, that just makes this whole thing harder. So I gave myself a pep talk that my dogs are going to the next best place without their current owners, I’ll still miss my big bathroom (it is wonderful), and I cluttered up my sun room with boxes so that I can’t sit back there and let my mind wander to the past. It’s time to move forward.

Ready or not, here I keep going.

Stifle Me Not

Preparing for the Great Unknown

Today appeared to be a normal day of errands, but it was not. It was a preparation day for future days of a new life.

In one week my life will change forever. My kids and I are moving back to my childhood city (which is about one hour south of my current home). Today I drove down there and registered them at their new schools. My daughter will be going to a school that I once went to. I felt like I entered some weird time warp when we walked into the school. We turned in her registration paperwork and she got a tour from the dean. She looked so relieved after the tour. She could see that it wasn’t so scary after all.

After registering her, I registered my son for his first year of preschool. He didn’t care. He whined the whole time about how he wanted to go out to the playground. I’m glad he won’t remember most of this life transition since he’s only three.

Somehow, after six months of trying my ass off, I still do not have a job. Let me be clear that I have come so close. I have made it to all but being the final pick. And almost weekly I have prospects. Right now I am juggling 3. So as much as I feel like an unemployed loser, I know I’m trying. Sometimes I feel like I’m not trying hard enough, but that’s my life story. I always feel like I’m not doing enough, and then I wind up exhausted. I’m trying to balance “trying hard” vs. “beating myself up”.

So after next Saturday, my home will be mostly empty. I will stare at the empty rooms and try not to cry that my first home ended like this. I’m not moving to a newer, bigger home in the suburbs with my husband and kids. I’m moving in with my parents and my kids, without my soon-to-be-ex-husband, so that I can reset and recharge and rediscover who I used to be and who I still can be. I’m going to be surrounded by my support system of family and not feel alone like I have been for the past 10 months. I’m going to ask for help when I need it and know that I’m loved unconditionally by them.

My husband and I didn’t work out, and it’s now transitioning 4 human lives and 2 dog lives. This is hard. This is very hard.

My soon-to-be-ex-husband is buying a new house. I have mixed feelings about this. I almost feel like I should be in it. How weird is that? I don’t want to be with him, yet I feel abandoned that he’ll have a new house and I have no home. Of course my parents will tell me over and over again that their home is my home. But it isn’t MY home. While I’m sad that we’re moving on like this, he will take our furry pups. My neighbor has graciously offered to care for our dogs in between leaving this current house and until he closes on his house in the fall. I’ll be very worried about my dogs while they are temporarily not with either of us. But I’m happy to know that they’ll have a new forever home. I’m unable to bring them to my parents house. It breaks my heart that I can’t have my dogs, but I have the kids, so I’m over the moon thankful for that.

I feel like this is the first giant step of many to come, but the alternative is to freeze up and stay stranded in a sea of unhappiness and self loathing. That doesn’t sound appealing. So this week I will finish packing and prepping for the great unknown.

They say that when one door closes another one opens. I feel like this is a giant damn door that is taking forever to close. It’s like it has been stuck open and I haven’t been able to fully close it yet. Like strong winds keep blowing it blown open. As motivated as I may be to close it and as hard as I try, it has just been a long time coming. Next weekend I will close that damn door. Although I don’t know what lies behind the next door, I feel like it has to be a whole hell of a lot better than the last 10 months.

Wish me luck.

Stifle Me Not

It’s Been a Surprising Day

Today I accepted an offer on my house.

For $15K above asking price.

Uh, let me be clear that there must be some larger force at play here because there is no way I ever thought it would sell for the original asking price let alone for that much over.

I am still in shock. I signed the papers to accept the offer. I am dumbfounded. The buyer even wrote a letter that stated why he wanted the house so bad.

Not only did he put in an offer that high, but another buyer put in an offer for $10K above asking price.

Apparently the housing market is really really good these days? I knew it was good, but I didn’t realize it was going to be so fabulous that it would leave me speechless.

Today I also got a call to be interviewed on Thursday. It’s just for a contract job, but I don’t have room to be picky these days since I have to find a place to live in the next four weeks. Let’s hope my luck in the job market is as good as in the housing market.

Things are looking up. There are still a lot of unknowns, but I’m still standing so I guess I’ll keep moving forward.

Stifle Me Not

The Irony of Life

So my last post was a bit of a plea for a break. I was so “whoa is me”. It turns out that my daughter being sick drove up the demand on my house. Such an ironic little twist of fate.

On Sunday, I e-cried to you all via this blog about how I helped my poor puking girl all night long. It was a rough next day as I tried to entertain my 3-year old son and wait on my sick daughter in bed. Around Noon, I took my son outside to play. All showings had been canceled so I thought nothing of hanging out in the driveway. Then I see a realtor car and another car pull in the driveway. Clearly they didn’t get the memo.

I greeted them and let them know I had canceled all showings due to my sick daughter. They didn’t go away. I was annoyed. Of course I wanted to sell my house, but I had a mama bear attitude. They both parked their cars and walked up. They started surveying the outside and asked if they could see the backyard. My son started being chatty with them. I told them they could take a peek at the first floor and basement but they couldn’t go upstairs. They respected my request. I told them to please come back and see the rest in a day or so.

Later that day, my realtor calls to tell me they put an offer at asking price contingent on seeing the upstairs. I almost died. Asking price? Without seeing the upstairs? I never thought we would get that for it. It was priced it where it was because we wanted cushion if we had to drop the price.

So today there were multiple showings for people that had to reschedule from the day before. We got another offer, just above asking price. Like what?

Tomorrow afternoon is the cut off and then we decide on the best offer. This is amazing to me. I asked, and I’m receiving. I know its not over yet, but my bad night turned into something good. If my daughter hadn’t been sick for me to cancel the showings, the demand wouldn’t have been so high. Maybe it would have, but I don’t know, I like to think things happen for a reason.

Stifle Me Not

Throw Me a Bone

I often wonder at what point do I just lose my mind altogether? But no, I continuously remind myself to take it “one day at a time.”

“Things will get better.”

“There’s no such thing as perfect, so just roll with it.”

“Go with the flow.”

“I am in charge, I have power over my choices.”

“God doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle.”

Right. Got it. Well, I finally moved into acceptance mode that my house was on the market. I committed to getting through it and moving forward. My house listed yesterday, on my birthday of all days, and I received multiple showing requests right away. I was able to get out of the house for one yesterday and had six scheduled for today. I couldn’t believe there was that much demand for people to see my modest little colonial home.

So I started to get excited and think of the possibilities if offers came rolling in. I was fully embracing the change. I often do, but what keeps happening lately is a punch in the face that leaves me dazed and confused. There’s been this grand detour lately. I can handle change, I can handle a detour here and there, but I’m baffled by how nonstop it is lately. I remember going years without one damn new thing happening. Life was boring, now it’s a daily surprise to say the least.

Today I had a big plan to take my two kids and two dogs to my sister’s house while six potential buyers walked through my house and peeked into my closets between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM. Last night the house was mostly spotless so that I had little work to do in the morning. I went to bed around midnight, and as I’m about to drift off into a glorious slumber, I hear my 9-year old daughter in the bathroom. She was sick. The first hour was her thinking that she might be sick, sitting on the bathroom floor by the toilet just staring. By 1 AM she was definitely sick. I tried to help her the best a mama bear can. She proceeded to dry heave for the next five hours. Each time I was about to drift off to sleep, I’d awaken to gagging sounds that no mother wants to hear. And what mom should just stay comfy in their bed while their kid vomits their guts out? Of course I got up each time to make sure she was okay, got her fluids, told her I loved her, and then disinfected anything she touched and washed my hands.

By 7 AM she drifted off to sleep. I decided she was in no shape to go anywhere and her bed was the best place for her to be. I canceled all of the house showings for today. I couldn’t help but wonder why? And maybe I was overthinking it, but why on earth did I finally get excited to sell my house and it was quickly swiped away? Obviously I’m not going to force my kid to be sick in the car or away from home while strangers roam our house.

All of these life changes are messing with me. Throw in big detours and I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I decide I’m finally ready to get divorced, I lose my job a day before I’m supposed to file the final paperwork to my lawyer. You can’t come to a dissolution agreement without income.

I lose my job, I decide I’m okay with a little break from work and try to make the most of it. I try daily and weekly to job search and network and keep an open mind to new possibilities. I get a decent amount of bites, yet none of them are working out.

I finally decide that selling my house is something that can help move us forward, and I can’t manage to have showings because of a sick kid. I know sick kids happens, but a sick kid in the middle of July is kind of rare.

I vacillate between “I’m doing everything wrong” to “Life happens, I’m doing the best I can.”

Damn I’m trying not to throw a pity party for myself. Lord knows things can always get worse. But I would like a break. I stable freakin’ break. If a little stability could come rolling in, that would be amazing. It’s been 9 months of chaos. I’d just like to know where I’m going to live and work in the next couple of months. My kids would appreciate it too. It’s heartbreaking that my daughter wants to buy her school supplies and I’m hesitant because I don’t know if we’ll be living here or have an entirely new school supply list at a new school.

Throw me a bone universe. Please.

Stifle Me Not

 

Transition Time

I am trying so hard that it’s almost not worth trying anymore. Not in an “I give up” sort of way, but more of an “I surrender” way. I’m not sure what I’m surrendering to, the great unknown I suppose. All I do know is that what I’ve been trying to do is not working and it’s time to make a more drastic change.

I have been searching for a new job since early March when I was laid off. I have applied to almost 50 jobs in the last five months. I have had a small number of phone interviews and very few face-to-face live interviews. The positions that I qualify for typically require multiple interviews. I can tell that companies like me and are impressed with my resume, but I can’t seem to make it to that final job offer. I’m beyond frustrated. It was nice to have some time off for an extended period of time with my kids. I look at that as a gift, but the time has come where I need to continue making a living financially or it will cause my kids more harm than good.

Last Friday I met with a realtor. My house will be on the market this weekend, which is also my birthday. I never thought I’d have to list my house for sale on my 39th birthday because I can’t keep up with the mortgage. To make matters worse, my someday ex-husband just tore a major muscle in his arm and has to have surgery next week. When it comes time to actually move, I will need to get movers. I’m anxious and scared and looking forward to getting it over all at the same time. I want a new start, but I didn’t think it would be like this. Not like this.

A photographer came to my house today to take photos for the listing. My house looked great. My dogs and kids were curious about what was going on. My oldest has a lot of questions and I know she’s anxious about where she’ll go to school this fall. I keep trying to reassure her that it will be okay, but I honestly have no idea. I’m listing my house with no idea of where I’ll live next. If I can get a job in the next few weeks, I can simply find a new place nearby. I would have to do that anyway since my someday ex-husband and I are separated. If I don’t get a job soon, my unemployment benefits will be running out, so my father said I could live with him, but I can’t bring my dogs.

I can’t even look at my two dogs. There are a couple of people that offered to take care of them for me during this crazy transition, but that makes me so sad. They’re my dogs. My kids and I love them so much. I hate uprooting my whole family. I have moved so many times in my life and each time was hectic but not as challenging as this. I had no kids or animals then. It was just me that I had to worry about.

I keep wavering between wanting to move full speed ahead and wanting to throw up because of all the stress. I haven’t slept well the past few nights. I know next week is going to be rough having to keep my house clean/staged and leaving with the kids and two bigger dogs while there are house showings. I want to cry, but don’t have the time or energy to do that. I have things to do to keep moving forward. Moving backward is not an option at this point.

I’ve been through my share of life changes in the past 39 years, but never to the point of having my relationship, career, and living situation change all at the same time. I’m counting my blessings that my kids are healthy and happy right now as I try to make the best possible decisions to ensure they have a great life.

Stifle Me Not

The Intriguing Awareness of “Perspective Shifting”

I knew one day I’d look back a the “old me” with a new lens, but I didn’t think I’d witness the actual shift of old me to newer me.

At first, I didn’t think I learned much today, but I think it’s because it’s all happening right before my eyes, and it all relates to how my perspective is shifting on so many things.

Perspective Shift #1

I took my kids to the zoo today. For anyone that lives in my county, you can get free admission to the zoo on Mondays. I used to avoid the zoo like the plague on Mondays. A zoo crowded with poor people. No thanks.

Guess what? It’s Monday. My kids are already going stir crazy from being home together. And its a lovely sunny day. Oh, and we’re currently the poorest we’ve ever been, well, ever. So I took my kids to the free zoo. We ran into my son’s babysitter, and she made a comment about the crowded zoo “on a Monday.” Which meant: “the crowded zoo full of poor questionable walks of life”.

I had no words. I normally would have nodded with her in agreement and laughed. Not today. Today I was speechless because I was one of those people and I wasn’t the type of person I thought of when it came to Free Zoo Mondays. I now saw this as an opportunity rather than an annoyance.

Perspective Shift #2

Tomorrow is bulk trash day around here in the city. I never used to pay much attention to it. I’ve always known you can put out extra trash once a month, and I’ve taken advantage of it here and there, but I’ve been looking forward to it lately. I’ve had more time on my hands to clean out old stuff, and I can’t help but want to purge crap that has been in my way for more than 10 years.

I’ve had a half broken table and four chairs (from the 1970s) in my basement collecting dust for more than a decade. The table and chairs aren’t even mine – they were given to me from a roommate I lived with right after college. I didn’t have a table and chairs when I moved out, so she just let me take it. They are so ugly, but they were functional and I was broke.

They followed me to my “adult” house after I got married. I used the table to fold laundry on in the basement, and the chairs sometimes served as drying racks back in the day when I used to buy clothes that were in no way tumble dry friendly.

As I lugged the chairs out to the curb, a nosy neighbor lady asked me why I was getting rid of the chairs. She said “What if you have people over and need extra seating?”

Um, no. I have plenty of seating. In fact, I have too much.

I used to get annoyed by this lady. In the past, I may have just answered “No,” and then been agitated about her questioning me. Today I smiled and offered her first dibs on the chairs if she wanted them. She declined. That is what I thought. I went about my business disposing of the broken garden hose wheel that has been uselessly laying in my driveway.

I now actually love that she is nosy – her nosiness once scared off some people attempting to break into my garage. I’ve embraced her nosiness as a gift ever since.

Perspective Shift #3

As I rolled out the recycle bin to the curb, the trash pickers appeared. These folks cherish the night before bulk trash day like Christmas Eve. They make their rounds in their rickety old pick-up trucks and they have no shame. I used to be both perplexed and annoyed by the trash pickers. Like why in the hell would anyone want to pick up someone else’s garbage off the street?

I now love these guys. You know why? 1) They are creative souls that will figure out how to either sell or reuse whatever it is that they pick up, and 2) They enable me to put out more extra trash than the city allows. You get to set out up to three extra items. If they pick up even one of those items, I can get rid of more of my junk!

Those trash pickers picked up all four chairs within five minutes and they were off. I thanked them. I got to thank them! Thank you for taking my junk!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 

This whole day went by and I didn’t I didn’t think I learned anything. But I’m realizing that my whole perspective is shifting in a different direction on many things right in front of me.

New perspectives are like little lights that go off and you see more of what you couldn’t before. It’s very intriguing.

Stifle Me Not

Encounter with an Honest Car Salesman

I went to a car dealership today to try to trade in my car and downsize to something simpler. Downsize the payment, downsize the gas consumption, and just downsize another piece of my life to make it a little bit easier.

I walked into the dealership and shook hands with an older gentleman, who immediately informed me that he had been working there for 15 years and he had been in this line of work for 33 years. He asked for my name, asked if I had ever purchased a car there before (I had), and he looked up the salesperson that had previously helped me at that dealership 12 years ago.

I cringed. That salesperson was still there. I remember salesperson #1 very well because he did not show me the level of respect that he should have. At the time, I was looking to purchase a brand new car and my boyfriend (my now husband) was with me, and he had no part in the purchase of the car. He was just there to be with me. Salesperson #1 kept directing any conversation about the car and finances toward my boyfriend. My boyfriend even said “I am not paying for this car at all, it’s all her.” And he just kept talking to “the man”.

Salesperson #1 kept me waiting for long periods of time while he would go into the back to “check on something” with numbers. He tried to tell me that my payment would have to be one amount when I definitely knew that it was higher than it needed to be. I finally told him I would have to switch to a lower priced model or look elsewhere. He came around and got me into the car that I wanted for the price that I wanted. I have not been a fan of car shopping since then.

Salesperson #1 was not impossible, but he was a challenge. Car salesmen have a reputation for a reason, right? And he seemed to live up to the stereotype. But today, I was not walking into the dealership with a big fight in me. I just wanted to simplify things.

Luckily, salesperson #1 was not available. I was so relieved that I was going to stick with salesperson #2.

I immediately informed salesperson #2 that I wasn’t sure if we could make a deal work today due to the negative equity on my car. I did my homework in advance and handed him all of the numbers. He was impressed. I told him I didn’t want to waste his time, and I’d appreciate if he could just be up front with me if he couldn’t get it to work out right now.

We chatted as he entered numbers into the computer. He was a jovial guy. He put a list of used cars in front of me and started to using some selling techniques as I browsed the list. Before moving forward, I reiterated that I thought the negative equity could be an issue and agreed to get my car appraised before going any further in the process.

He left to have my car appraised, but he wasn’t gone long enough for it to have happened. He returned about two minutes later and flopped the keys down on the table as he spewed honest facts and figures and he had sad eyes. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

It took me a minute to realize that he was  doing exactly as I had asked. He couldn’t make it work, so he wasn’t wasting time with the appraisal, he knew what the outcome would be after all of his experience and the numbers I had given him.  The negative equity would be a problem.

I shook his hand and thanked him. It didn’t work out the way that I hoped, but I still have my nice car that I wasn’t excited about parting with right now. I also still have a hefty monthly payment (sigh).

I drove away numb and wondering why I couldn’t make this one thing work, but very appreciative that he spared me hours of sitting in the dealership (like I’ve done in the past) only to have the same outcome. All I could think is that maybe there is a reason and it’s just not obvious yet. Or maybe there’s no reason at all. Maybe sometimes things just don’t work out.

What I did learn today is that I encountered an honest car salesmen. I asked for honesty and he gave it to me. That doesn’t mean I had to like it.

Stifle Me Not

Thank You Lady at ALDI

I’ve been going to ALDI lately. When my grandmother was alive and still healthy enough to do her own grocery shopping, she used to tell me about the great deals she would find at ALDI. Then a few years later, my mom morphed into my grandma and she would tell me how much she loved shopping there too.

I didn’t get it. I was self-absorbed and in my own little bubble of life. Saving money wasn’t a priority for me – I had plenty. I wasn’t wealthy at all, but I was well off enough that I didn’t need pinch every penny or bother with grocery store hopping just to find “good deals”. I could easily splurge $200 / week at a non-ALDI supermarket and come home with way fewer items. I was fine, I didn’t need to save on groceries.

Fast forward to this year – this one heck of a year – and ALDI is my favorite place to make the most out of $50. I’m no longer judgmental about people that go to places like ALDI. If you would have asked me if I judged before, I would have completely denied it. Now, in the shoes of someone that is carefully watching their expenses, I get it.

I GET IT.

Now onto the real reason why I started rambling — the lady at ALDI. First I have to back-up to the first lady that even got me noticing his kind of thing. When you go to ALDI, the carts are lined up right outside of the store. You must put a quarter in to release the cart. It’s okay though, you simply get your quarter back when you return the cart. This turns into an interesting human experiment to observe in the parking lot.

When you retrieve a cart, there’s almost always someone returning their cart too. Sometimes people wait patiently for one another to retrieve or return a cart. Sometimes impatiently. Sometimes a person that is returning a cart will hand off the cart to another person in exchange for their quarter. Others race to the carts to avoid the cart and quarter confrontation (this is pretty funny to watch).

And sometimes, like I witnessed a few weeks ago, someone will hand off their cart and refuse to take the quarter from the next person. A pay it forward kind of event.

I saw a lady do this and say just that to another person. She said “Here you go, no need for the quarter, just pay it forward.” I was like wow, things like that really happen.

And so I wanted to try doing the same when I came out of the store, but oddly enough there was no around to take my cart so that I could tell them to pay it forward. Darn it.

So the next time I went to ALDI, I did pay it forward and refused the quarter as I handed my cart to a man who looked astonished at what I had just done. He almost looked angry that I didn’t accept is quarter. I briskly walked away and told him it was okay as he was waving his quarter at me. I wasn’t trying to get a good karma quarter back, I just wanted to try it. Just wanted to spread some good will.

The next time I went to ALDI, I did it again. It felt good to do something nice, it wasn’t about handing out free quarters. I wasn’t shocked that I went shopping for weeks and didn’t get a “free” cart from a stranger not concerned about a quarter, but I did notice.

And then last night, I went to ALDI, and as I went to get my cart (with my quarter in hand), a woman handed me her cart and politely refused my quarter. I smiled, graciously thanked her, and went about my grocery shopping.

I want to thank that woman, not just for the free cart and saving me a quarter, but for making me smile and spreading positive vibes in the middle of the hot parking lot. And when I returned my cart, there was no one around, and I got my quarter back.

What goes around does come around. I learned that small gestures to make a difference, on the giving end and the receiving end. It may take time, but it happens.

And thank you mom and grandma, you were right about the big savings at ALDI.

Stifle Me Not

(By the way, I’m totally not being paid to endorse ALDI, I just love it there.)

May 31st Lesson: Honesty is the Best Policy

It’s the last day of the “What Did I Learn Today?” Challenge for May. I started reflecting on daily lessons learned to give me something to do each evening, instead of wallowing in self-pity and beer. Okay, I didn’t drink too much beer. More tears than beer.

I did the two things I said I was going to do: I reflected on my day, and I was honest about what I learned. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from this entire month is that doing this wasn’t easy, but it is possible and it helped me be more self-aware.

Being honest with myself was a big reality check. There were nights after I put my kids to bed that I did not want to think about anything. Or I was thinking about too much at once. Many times I just wanted to journal about my day, complain about my soon-to-be-ex-husband, and whine about being unemployed. But how much value would that have added? It took some effort to see my days for what they really were and recognize what was impacting me the most each day. I had to be honest with my damn feelings.

Damn feelings.

I’m still going to keep it going, maybe not every single day, but there will be more reflecting and honesty with thy self. Learning is the key to growth. I’m in this little life pickle because of the choices I’ve made and because of the choices I’ve avoided.

Be super honest with yourself. Its easier said than done.

Stifle Me Not