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

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

May 29th Lesson: The Creativity is Coming Back

When I was engaged to be married, I remember being so full of ideas and creative energy. My favorite place to be was the craft store. Pinterest wasn’t even around then, but it didn’t matter because we had MAGAZINES. I clipped out pictures and generated ideas from my own mind for my wedding and my friend’s bridal shower. I found a new love of scrap booking. I made my friend, who was also my roommate all through college, a scrap book as one of her wedding shower gifts. I had an entire room of my house filled with crafty things and scrap booking materials.

After having my daughter, I was going to make a small scrap book dedicated to her. I just found the scrap book and paper, nine years later, in a box that I was cleaning out.

Apparently, my creative energy died somewhere  between getting married and now.

I also used to have another blog, which I started when I was pregnant with my daughter and I kept it going for about four years. I have always loved to write about everything and nothing all at the same time. One day, I just stopped writing. Sometimes I go back and read my old posts and think I was quite funny.

But my motivation for doing anything that took time away from every day routine just sort of went away.

Lately, I want to do stuff. I actually want to write each night after I put my kids to bed. I don’t feel like it’s chore. And tonight I decided that my daughter and I would reuse the empty scrapbook from nine years ago to make a summer scrapbook this year. I got out my big bin of scrap booking supplies and showed her all of the old goodies I had. She loved it. I loved it. It was so much fun. I can’t wait to see how it looks by the end of summer. And there’s other little things that I want to do…

My creativity is slowly returning. After a long hibernation, I can feel new ideas wanting to come out. It’s been so long.

Stifle Me Not

May 28th Lesson: Soaking in the Moments

I’ve been fretting for so long, I don’t know what I’m worried about anymore. I’m unemployed and on the verge of divorce, but I’m still standing and I’m still living each day. I’m getting it done. It’s different than I’m used to, but the sky isn’t falling. I’ve been learning to just take it day by day. People give that advice all the time [insert eye roll], but I never truly thought it was possible. I thought it was just cliche advice that people say when they don’t know what else to say.

I took my kids to visit family this weekend. It was fun and relaxing. I can’t remember the last time I looked back at a holiday weekend and thought it was relaxing. I’m always so busy getting things ready, cleaning things up, and people pleasing that I don’t even have time to soak in the moments. All I know is that I usually prep everything that needs to go in the car (everything from toys to sippy cups to extra clothes and diapers), and then fast forward and I’m exhausted after the kids are in bed with no recollection of how I got there.

The funny thing is, I did all the same stuff today – the prep stuff and the clean up stuff. and everything else in between. And I’m not exhausted. The only difference was that my not-yet-ex-husband wasn’t there. And I just didn’t try so hard, and then I wasn’t resentful toward anyone for not helping me. Normally, I’d prep the bags for the car and my internal dialogue would kick in:

Why do I always have to get everything ready?

What is he doing? 

Why isn’t he helping me? 

Do I really have to tell him exactly what to do? 

But lately, when he’s not around for me to “rely” on, I only have myself and just have to get it done. I’m no longer draining my energy worrying about why no one is helping me. It’s just me! And I’m getting it done!

There are plenty of times when I’ve spoken up and asked for help from him. Sometimes he would automatically help without a word, and sometimes it could turn into a fight. I was often criticized for my tone and told “I can’t read your mind!”

All of this I know. And you know what, I could be harsh toward my husband sometimes, but that harshness didn’t develop overnight. It was a gradual build up frustration and stress and discouragement. And I let even the tiniest of his hurtful words tangle around my already burdensome thoughts to the point of causing myself personal anxiety.

I enjoyed this weekend with my kids. I soaked in the moments (the good and the bad). I was present, and I wasn’t worried about anyone other than me and my kids. I didn’t even realize it until I sat down to write this just now. I’ve been missing out on a lot of moments all because my energy was zapped from worrying about things I’m already doing. The dark cloud that made me doubt myself is lifted.

Today I learned that I’ve been learning to live day by day and soak in the moments.

Stifle Me Not