Category Archives: Hope

Settle Me Not

My home-buying search has begun.

I forgot how frustrating home-buying can be.

There’s all of the “what-ifs” and “what about this…” or “that”… it’s a game of speculation and daydreaming and giving yourself regular reality checks. I love it and hate it all at the same time. I’m limited to a set amount I can spend. Sure, I can spend more, but then have I learned anything in the past 20 years since I’ve reached adulthood?

No.

And if you don’t learn your damn life lessons, then where does that leave you?

Yep, sure as shit, back at the beginning of the damn lesson. Karma 101.

I’m not sure that my realtor is doing a damn thing. If I send him a property, he’ll act on it and get me in to see it, but it appears he’s not watching the market for me. Maybe he is and the market sucks. It’s hard to tell. Plus it’s fall, so the housing market, well, sucks for buyers. I do what I can to be proactive, but I have this thing called a job that I go to everyday and its sucking the damn life out of  me. Then I have my kids in the evening, and well that’s a whole other form of life-sucking. One kid (the 4 year old) is up my butt half the time – to the point where I’m tripping over him – and the other kid (the 10-year old) hides in her room of filth and I have to pry her out to eat dinner and make sure she’s not turning into a screen time zombie.

I need a house so I can be comfortable in my life again. I’m so sick of being a guest of unwelcome messiness in my dad’s house. But at the same time, the freedom of not having a mortgage is pretty great. Although, I’m strapping myself with continuing to save for my down payment. I just want the cycle to end where I can be in a little budget and live.

I love the crazy self-talk you go through when you start shopping for a house. I saw 3 houses on my first searching day. I crazily thought that it was possible for one of them to be “the one”. Then I anxiously went to see the fourth one. It was nice and I still didn’t like it. That’s when I realized I have more an idea of what I want than I realize. The fifth house was in scary shape. The sixth house was also very nice, but it wasn’t me, and it was too much space to take care of. Yep, six houses, with half of them being pretty nice, and none of them pleased me. I’m going to be a hard one to impress.

But that little nagging voice inside keeps saying “don’t settle. Don’t Settle. DON’T SETTLE!!!!”

I won’t settle for a house I don’t love. And I won’t settle for a man who doesn’t love me.

Not that man-hunting has even been occurring. I peek out from behind the sidelines. I have no desire (other than an occasional side glance out the car window) to do any form of dating. At least with home buying its all about me and my family’s needs. Dating sounds like some kind of journey to another foreign land to me right now.

So I’m going to get some rest and spend another few weeks being hopeful with the housing market. Not sure that I can pull off a house by Christmas, but that’s the hope.

I’ll just keep on going. Not settling sounds like a good goal to have. It’s not like I’ve been overly picky my whole life.

Stifle Me Not

Gifts Coming Full Circle

This week I talked to a mortgage broker and we made a plan for when it realistically makes sense for me to get pre-approved to buy a home. I could do it now, but I have a few more things to clean up before I go that route. The daily life of living at my parents’ house has not been unbearable. I have the patience and the will power to hold out a bit longer. I have a feeling the payoff will be rewarding. That feeling usually serves me well.

In the meantime, I refinanced my car this week. I asked the mortgage broker to refer me to someone that does car loans. He referred me to a friend of his at a local bank to refinance my car at a good rate. I had to get my ex’s name off of my car loan. When I scheduled the meeting to go sign the closing paperwork, I found out that my first payment isn’t until mid-November (more money to save for a house!) and I got a YETI cooler as a gift. I had no idea about these perks, but it was a welcome surprise.

Now, I’m not here being paid to endorse YETI, but as an owner of this brand’s coffee cup, I will say that I am a fan. I love keeping my hot drinks hot and my cold drinks cold. This brand figured it out and makes quality products in my opinion.

But this situation with the YETI cooler is a bit ironic.

Let me explain.

After being together for 18 years, and married for 11, I found myself becoming increasingly stressed when it came to birthdays, Father’s day, and Christmas gifts for my ex. I have a problem with giving, and over-giving. I give too much of myself and never expect  anything in return. Even if I do expect it, I don’t express my disappointment if I don’t get it. I make excuses for others and go about my business secretly unhappy. My ex knew that. I just figured it out in the last few years. Smart manipulating guy. Naive me (I was too busy thinking of others)… but not anymore.

So one of the last time’s I was stressing about getting him a gift (I think it was his birthday in 2017), I considered getting him the exact YETI cooler (that I just received as a gift for my car loan). Giving big nice gifts had become my thing. I felt like every year I was trying to outdo the last gift that I gave. But each time I would surprise myself and think of something even grander that he would love. And he did, he loved all of it. Well that year I looked into buying him a YETI cooler, and I was about to buy it. I had it picked out and was about to buy it online. But I didn’t. Something was off. I just thought  I shouldn’t spend so much money that year for some reason. Again, a little later I was at a sporting goods store and had the YETI right in front of me and almost bought it. Again, something was off. I don’t remember what gift I ended up getting him, but it wasn’t that. And I wasn’t excited by his reaction when he opened whatever it was that I bought, but I didn’t care for some reason.

I remember thinking later that I’d wished I had gotten the cooler because I wanted it. But whatever, I figured I’d just saved some money and moved on with life.

So now here I am in present day, and I’m relieved that I didn’t buy that damn cooler and listened to my gut. That small little whisper that says “hey, you, what are you doing?”… that little nagging thought that is surrounded by question marks and a weird feeling in your belly…

I recently listened to it again when that asshole was trying to talk me out of buying a home where I’m presently looking. And instead of giving into my frets about him trying to sway my decisions, I called a mortgage broker, which led me to the place where I refinanced my car, which led to my own free YETI cooler and more money for me to save toward my future home.

I’m going to buy a great home, and I’m going to throw a house-warming party with lots of ice and drinks in my YETI cooler.

I’d say this wasn’t just some coincidence. I see you God and your universe angels, quietly looking out for me. My eyes are wide open.

Thank for these gifts that promise cold drinks and peace of mind.

Stifle Me Not

Irreplaceable Me

My name is changed. I’ve financially stabilized myself. My kids and I are getting in a routine of back and forth visits with their dad. Everyone appears to be healthy and happy (until it’s bed time, and then let the grumbles roll). And just as we’ve finally adjusted to this new normal, to something stable and familiar, my ex decides to complicate things – this is what he does.

This week he sent me a text message saying he’s “been seeing someone” and he planned to have her over and introduce the kids to her. All of the emotions came in waves – worry about my kids’ well-being, anger that he’s choosing someone that isn’t me, and relief that he’s moving on… all the feelings wrapped up into a tangled web of past memories and future hopes and dreams. My savor thought was “you got rid of him, you told him to leave and didn’t want to put up with his shit”. Oh yea, I did.

His text came later in the afternoon when I was at work on Tuesday. I simply replied “Ok” and moved on about my day. I didn’t have the time or energy to dwell on that new development while at work. After work, I got in my car and drove off, as the tears streamed down… but only for about 5 minutes. It was weird. I thought I might be a mess. I might cry all night. But I couldn’t really cry. It was an initial shock wave of tears that just… stopped. Because, other than being concerned that this new woman will treat my kids well, I just didn’t care.

Haha, I just don’t CARE! And oh my gosh that is a great and freeing feeling.

My daughter was confused as to why I wasn’t upset when she told me about the evening that they had dinner and hung out with their dad’s new friend (aka victim). I let her know that as long as this person is kind and treats them well, it’s all okay. My daughter feels as though her dad is replacing me. He is, in his own way,  for his own selfish needs. It isn’t really about me – he really can’t ever replace me.

I always knew this day would come – when I’d have to face the fact that he’s choosing someone else over  me , but I’m irreplaceable. I assured my daughter that everything is going to be okay, and even told her that I’m “irreplaceable” as their mom. She looked at me with wide eyes, surprised at my optimism.

Knowing this man that I spent 18 years of my life with, I know that he does not change. His basic human nature is ego-driven, always, and this poor woman is now in the center of his world, which is a self-filled mess of his needs. And I am free.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

Identity Renewal

The last two weeks have been a rat race. I basically started working full time again after 1.5 years, continued to care for my awesome children (without losing my mind), and somehow squeezed in a divorce and a name change.

Productive June so far.

When I look at it that way, it’s no wonder that a  couple of days ago I was so drained I could barely function to work or drive. I took some ibuprofen and drank some fluids, hoping it would just get me to the end of the day. It did. Barely. I usually have some sort of dinner plan for my kids, even if its peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I just like to make sure they’re fed and bathed every night. Sometimes we hang out, sometimes we go out to eat, sometimes we play or snuggle, and other times we each do our own thing. This was a “we each do our own thing” kind of night.

On this day that I didn’t feel well, I fed my  son (the 3-year old) as soon as we walked in the door, and I told the 10-year old she was on her own to find something to eat. I then proceeded to lay in my bed and fell asleep by 8:30 PM. I got up briefly to tuck everyone in and called it a night. Not mom of the year, but this mama had to do some serious resting. And they were fine. Thanks to Netflix.

The exhaustion is real. It’s physical and mental. I’ve been doing my best to ramp up at my new job in these first few weeks, and by the end of the day it takes its toll on me. I’m thoroughly exhausted by 5 pm, and then I have an evening of single-mothering ahead of me. Luckily we have a pretty consistent schedule down and the kids pretty much just go with it.

Today I was supposed to take my kids to a family thing I committed to a few weeks ago. By the end of the day I was toast, my daughter wasn’t feeling well, and my son was, well, himself being the 3-year old (so challenging as usual). I threw up my hands and threw in the towel – we didn’t go. I couldn’t bear to make me or my kids have to do something that we didn’t want to do after a long day and then end up getting home late that evening. I just gave up and said sorry, not sorry. And we had a delightful little quiet evening of pizza and cartoons. Sometimes it pays off to hermit.

Also today, my updated Social Security Card came in the mail. I felt like it was a little prize to help me keep going. It has the name that I was born with and the name I’m going back to. It’s all mine. This weekend I’m going to get my driver’s license updated. Then, name change complete.

Last June I was frantically looking for a new job and deciding if I should sell my house to make ends meet. This June I’m changing my name, working my ass off, and moving forward faster than I would have ever imagined. In the past year, I’ve changed my living situation, relationship, career, and my name. What’s most refreshing is that I have a renewed outlook on life and I feel like I’ve renewed myself – my entire identity has grown, and keeps on evolving.

Damn, it was a hard, but it sure feels good to see the sunlight.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

An Uplifting Ending

Today was the day. The day I’ve been waiting for since I walked into my lawyer’s office on October 30, 2017.

Divorce Day.

Okay, it was Dissolution Day. Not as dramatic, but still a milestone in my book.

My mom accompanied me on my little journey up north. It was an hour drive. I dropped my son off at daycare, then flew home to put chicken in the crock pot (because that’s apparently what you do on Divorce Day – you worry about dinner and putting chicken in the crock pot). By 7:30 AM, my mom was outside waiting in the car, and I was hugging my daughter goodbye, pawning her off on grandma for the day.

My mom and I started out toward a Starbucks’s drive-thru, only to find out that it was closed because the parking lot was getting repaved. All I wanted was coffee and a smooth ride to the courthouse. I made my way toward the highway with the vision of a Dunkin’ Donuts shop on the corner. There was a drive thru line, but it was steadily moving. I sucked up the 5-minute anxious wait in line to get each of us a coffee and finally moved toward the highway. I was feeling a little behind, but we left early on purpose, so we were actually right on time.

The drive was fine. When we got off the highway up north in the busy part of the city, my mom got anxious in the passenger’s seat. I finally made it to a nearby parking garage where we drove around for eternity looking for a spot, and almost was driven into head on by a careless man in a sports car. I pointed at him and scolded him to slow down as he mouthed “I’m sorry” from his driver’s seat. Idiot. All I could think was that this dissolution must be meant to be for us to not have hit each other.

I dragged my mom to the correct court building, made our way through the security line, and up to the 3rd floor. I located the correct court room and spotted my soon to be ex husband at the same time. He was sitting there with his lawyer. I walked up to him and said that my lawyer was picking up some file and on her way. I was relieved to have made it on time, still anxious from the parking garage, and numb to the fact that I was about to get divorced. He pointed out that I should go check in with the bailiff, and so I did. I then sat with my mom on a nearby bench as she chattered at me about her dogs and other things that didn’t register fully. I was slightly annoyed that my lawyer was late (even though she really wasn’t). I just wanted it all to be over.

I finally saw my lawyer happily strolling down the hall toward me. This was only the second time I’d met with her in person. The first time was October 30, 2017. The second time now on June 4, 2019. She had the required paperwork with her, her and my ex’s lawyer conversed, and she had me review and sign a few papers.

Then we waited some more. I’m now an expert at waiting after the past year and a half.

Finally we were called into the courtroom. My lawyer and I sat together on a bench behind my ex and his lawyer. We basically watched as two other couple’s got their dissolution before us. It was weird.

And then it was our turn. Our turn to terminate our marriage. It was fairly quick. Maybe 5 minutes. We each had to answer a series of questions. I went first. Then I held my breath as he was asked the same questions. I almost thought he was going to protest something, but he didn’t. He didn’t. He hasn’t. He never once in the whole year and a half try to save any of it. And so that was why I was there — because he didn’t try.

At the end, the judge told us something that surprised me. She said we should be proud of ourselves for getting a dissolution and not putting our kids through a divorce. And I was proud. It was a long crappy road, but I think we did do a great thing for our kids.

Before I knew it, we were ushered out of the court room and on our way to get certified copies of divorce decrees. We waited there, together, with our lawyers and my mom. It was awkward. Nothing like waiting around in a records office with your ex and some divorce lawyers. My lawyer chattered about a bird she had saved a few days ago. How were we talking about a bird?

Once I walked out of the court house and into the sunshine, I felt a weight lift. I felt very free. The drive home was smooth. My mom and I chit chatted the whole way. I wished I had taken the day off, but since I just started my new job, I didn’t want to miss a whole day already. I dropped my mom off at her car, got some lunch, and headed into work. No one in the office knew where I had been, but I felt good and just wanted to get some work done.

Leading up to this day I kept thinking that I’d feel bad somehow. I kept thinking this would be a negative experience. The whole process sucked, but this ending is not bad. It is good. It is me being honest with myself and living a life that isn’t suppressing my spirit.

Today was an uplifting ending to the start of what could not be if today never was.

Stifle Me Not

 

Now What?

I have been awake for 2 hours now. It’s 4 AM. Full moons mess with my sleep.

I had a very anti-climatic day.

I finally, FINALLY signed my dissolution papers. He finally signed the agreement earlier in the week and I had a day off to trek to my lawyer’s office to sign my part. It was the easiest 10 minutes of my life. It’s hard to believe that the journey started 1.5 years ago.

I thought I’d be sad or something afterward. I kept waiting for some flood of emotions to hit me. I drove up, heard all the right songs on my playlist during the drive, walked right in and signed the papers, and then went and got some lunch. No regret. No sadness. No nothing.

Now I wait. Hurry up, and wait. Hurry up, wait.

Story. Of. My. Life. Lately.

I have to get my case number to take a parenting class. Because that really helps my kids the past 1.5 years with their uprooted lives. Luckily we’ve kept it civil around them, and I’ve learned to shut it down before it starts if an issue starts escalating. It’s just not worth it. I witnessed too many emotional outbursts and hurtful words during my own parents’ divorce. I wasn’t about to let it get to that level. Too bad the county couldn’t offered credit for that real-life experience.

I think my kids are in a happy place right now. I’m sure they would love to have us together all the time, but they are doing well in school and have smiles on their faces more often than not.

So I have to take a parenting class and wait for the court date. It has to be within 90 days, so I guess I can look forward to being free and changing back to my maiden name before the end of summer.

Now I find myself in a state of “Now what?”

Weird. I waited so long just for him to agree and now I’m disrupted by the change of being out of that rut.

I feel, like, hopeful.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

Expectations Low, Hopes High

My laptop has a funny smell. And sometimes it overheats. I’ve had it for a few years now. It’s well past its warranty. I’ve even had it repaired once at a PC shop. They did a good job. But all good things must come to an end. I’m pretty certain it won’t last too much longer, but I’ll guess I’ll keep typing and just expect the unexpected. Normally I’d be happy that I’d have an excuse to buy a new electronic toy because an older one was done, but money isn’t endless these days, so I hope something works out in my favor.

I’ve learned to approach life that way these days. There’s an ideal in my head usually, but I’ve learned not to get too bent out of shape if things don’t go as planned, or imagined. Many times we may not admit that we have an idea in our heads of what we expect out of a person, situation, or just life in general. In almost 40 years, I’ve learned that the unexpected is inevitable, no matter how well we plan or control anything.

I have an aloe vera plant that I bought last summer. I bought one for my sister and ended up getting one for myself too because it was cheap. I don’t usually do well with plants, but I figured I could keep something related to the cactus family alive. When I moved, I forgot about it and it started to go a little brown and the soil really dried out. Great, only I could kill an aloe vera plant. Well, despite the look of it, I watered it and put it near a window. I’ve been slowly take care of it week by week and month by month. Today I noticed that it looks pretty good. It’s green and seems to be actually growing.

I feel like that plant – like a dried out lonely little brown plant, but I’m slowly improving day by day, week by week, and month by month. i keep taking care of myself and reassuring myself and turning negative thoughts around. I’m not sure what the future holds. All I know is that I’m okay today, I have a green plant, and tomorrow doesn’t look too shabby. Maybe if my laptop dies I’ll have money for a bright shiny new one. Or maybe not, but I’ll keep going.

Stifle Me Not

I Give Up … Just Kidding

It’s funny how life works in mysterious little ways. Right when I’m on the verge of not being able to see past the tip of my own nose, a little ray of hope shines in and catches my attention.

I gave up on any job searching for a week. Just for the week. I have been trying nonstop for 7 months. One week wasn’t going to kill me and my unemployment benefits ran out so… I gave up. And I know myself – it would only be a matter of time before I’d kick back into overdrive.

On Sunday, I visited my grandma for coffee. And somehow coffee with 87-year old grandma turned into a networking event. My uncle came to visit grandma too. He asked what I’ve been up to, and then invited me to his office to apply for a certain position that I’m apparently qualified for. It was all very odd.

On Monday, I visited him at his office, handed him and application and my resume and we chatted for a little bit. I saw opportunity in front of me. It all seemed so simple, but like it could grow into something bigger. I have no idea how exactly, but the knowing was there. It’s a part-time contract position with somewhat low pay and no benefits. But it allows for me to make enough money to pay the bills, be there for my kids before & after school, and keep my career moving in a positive direction while being in this state of transition.

On Wednesday, I got another damn rejection email from a job I had applied to a few weeks ago. It wasn’t anything that I wanted really bad and I had never even heard of the company. I just stared at it. Like how much rejection is a person’s own limit? It was discouraging.

On Thursday morning, I got my daughter and niece on the bus and went back inside to finish my coffee. My phone rang. I wasn’t hopeful, just annoyed. My hope of employers calling me had run out. It was a recruiter for a position I had applied to a couple of weeks ago, asking if I wanted to schedule a phone interview next week.

I hung up with the recruiter and within in five minutes my phone rang again. It was my uncle asking me to come interview with his boss next week.

Okay universe, I’m paying attention again. I have two opportunities to focus on next week. I can’t mess up both of them.

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 30th Lesson: It’s Not Too Late for My Little Garden

Garden01

I planted a little garden today. Every summer for the past 10 years I’ve wanted to plant a garden. And I never did it. Digging out the dirt, buying the plants, keeping up with the watering – it just all seemed like so much work. But today I just did it.

The bigger plant is a cabbage. It was suffering in a constricting pot, so I moved it to the ground. Then I went to the local gardening shop and bought some tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, and chives for under $10. I’m happy with my little garden.

I feel like there was so much weight on me in the past and it was a big reason why I never did many little things that should have been no big deal.

Like making a little garden.

My energy was drained each day with daily routines and worries and pleasing people – like my soon-to-be-ex-husband who didn’t appreciate me. My self-inflicted worry and anxiety was a product of the self-doubt and hidden anxiety projected onto me by him.

Why on earth would I want to grow a garden that could possibly not succeed? I was so preoccupied with what could be instead of what is.

I haven’t been able to do much more than get out of bed each day, force myself to blend into society, and help my kids go through the motions of life. What kind of life is that? I don’t have a big urge to do things like skydiving or bungee jumping. I just need to do some little things right now that I’ve always wanted to try.

Today I learned that it’s not too late to start growing the little garden that I always wanted.

And there’s much more to be done…

Stifle Me Not