Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Advantages to getting older..or Holy Crap- when did that happen!

Yes, you read the title correctly....this is my ode to the positive things about getting older. Please note that I did not say aging. I am not quite there yet. This is my response and attempt to stay upbeat after one of those mornings when you look in the mirror and say "Holy Crap - when did that happen!!" Ever notice how on the inside you still feel 25 years old, but the rest of you does not cooperate with that feeling? So here is my list..would love to know what you think!

* Confidence - ah, the wonderful sense of knowing that you can handle what may come your way in life- the good, the bad and the ugly. This is built by life experience and actually living through, no make that thriving through the hard stuff - disappointments, loss of loved ones, health issues, workplace politics, rejections and even a broken heart or two. At the time, you may feel like crying and that things won't ever get better..but they really do. After years of life, these experiences turn into confidence in yourself.

* The small stuff really is small.. Man I wish I understood this when I was younger! Again, this is tied to life experience and shifting priorities as you grow, parent, become responsible for others, and watch your own parents age and pass away. Good grief - wish I could get back all of the time spent worrying about nonsense, unimportant things and small stuff. Have a laugh, have fun - everything is not so serious.. If you need a reminder, remember that face that stared back at you in the mirror this morning!

* Knowing your worth. This may be a by-product of confidence but as you grow older, it becomes so much easier to have those tough conversations with others and yourself (yes talking to yourself can be a result of getting older,) stand up for yourself, go for what you want and not fall apart if you do not get it. I know what I am worth and what I want out of life and my relationships. And I won't be spending much time and energy on people and situations that don't match that path or honor my worth. Ever watch an older woman go through a divorce and rebuild her life? She can become quite the force to be reckoned with.

* Time and life are precious. As those years and birthdays tick by, it becomes more and more obvious that time is not to be wasted (see bullet point above.) Remember feeling immortal in your youth and thinking that you had what seemed like forever to figure it all out? Well, you don't. So the sooner you get busy with the process of living and squeezing joy out of every circumstance and each day the better. Sometimes that means making a decision and just going for it!

* Answering to yourself and staying true to yourself. After I rounded 40, my mother told me that an amazing thing was going to happen. You will stop caring what others think about you and your choices and will stop comparing yourself to others. It is really true and has only gotten stronger at the age of 46. Wonder what 50 will bring? I don't have the time, energy or desire to compare or compete with other women. In my opinion, this is something that we as a gender, need to fix overall and start supporting and cheering for one another instead. There is always going to be someone smarter, more beautiful, thinner and more successful than you..period. Spending energy fighting that is pointless. So I work on bettering my best not someone else's and presenting myself as who I am. I have to tell you that it is alot more fun!

* You are smarter.. Maybe not in the IQ test sort of way, but in the abiity to size up situations and people. You have done it many times before. Plus your BS meter is really tuned and it is easier to spot dishonesty, other people's agendas and take care of yourself.

So the outside may no longer match the inside but perhaps the advantages outweigh all of that.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Best things I have done for myself

One of my friends had a post the other day noting that it had been a year since she had moved and what a great choice it had been for her life. Her post had me thinking about the things I had done in my life, the choices I have made that turned out to have wonderful and sometimes amazing results. It is easy to be hard on yourself and focus on the mistakes..the "I should have done that.." verbal punishment we sometimes give ourselves.

So here is the list, in no particular order, of wonderful chioices. To be honest, some were deliberate, thoughtful decisions that I felt driven to make. Others seem more like a natural course of events.

* Learning to love to read as a child. Many thanks to Sister Mary Elizabeth in the 1st grade who taught me how to read and the many other teachers that I had over the years who enforced the message. I was a serious bookworm as a child - devouring many books a week that I had checked out from the library. In addition to being a bookworm, I was rather geeky in the middle school years and books were a refuge. This love of books created in me a passionate affair with the written word that extends to this day. It pains me to watch my youngest daughter struggle to learn to read and because of the joy I have found in books, I will do anything I can to help her master this skill.

* Packing my car and a moving all by myself from Toledo, OH to Orlando, Fl when I was in my mid-twenties. I did not know a soul in Florida and at 26 took a promotion with the American Cancer Society and began a new adventure in my life. I learned my job and my craft, managed a budget, made friends, gained confidence and learned to stand on my own two feet. I made great friends and one in particular is still very important to me. Those early years of struggle were a great lesson and taught me that I really can take care of myself no matter what. I remember only being able to afford one item and so having to choose the product that is more versatile: paper towels, napkins or tissues!

* Moving to Atlanta in the mid-90s- again as a single woman and again for a job promotion. This time, however, was a lot easier for a number of reasons. I was older, ready for the change and a dear friend of mine who was also my roommate lost her job the week I was to move. So I figured, what the heck- come with me. I thoroughly enjoy living in Atlanta and feel very at home here with wonderful people in my life.

* Adopting my children. What more can I say about this topic except that they are amazing girls and I still marvel at how lucky I am to be their mother. These are definetly the choices that feel the most meant to be...

* Making it through betrayal and divorce with my heart still open...broken open some say is the real description of what can happen when one goes though heartbreak. I had to divorce my ex for my sake, my children's sake and because he did not want to be fully in the marriage. I saw women all around me in similiar circumstances who became and stayed bitter and who distrusted all men from that point forward. Thankfully, I had a wonderful father and brothers so I knew that good men did still exist. It was really a deliberate choice to keep my heart open and keep bitterness at bay. And believe me it was hard at times. I am glad I made this choice and now have a loving, open heart to offer a man.

* Hosting an exchange student...People thought I was crazy of course. The year after my divorce was final, I took in a 15 year old girl, named Jill,from Taiwan for a year. I had the rather idealistic notion that she would help the girls and I learn Mandarin. The opposite happened of course- we worked on her English. The really tricky part was that it was very last minute. She was supposed to stay with a different family- it was all arranged. At the last minute, they were unable to take her due to illness in the family. The original family consisted of a single mom with two daughters from China who were the same ages and from the same provinces as my girls. Surely, I told myself, this was some sort of sign. So it was a fun, crazy, busy year and I think it was a great distraction and filled some sort of void for the girls. A wonderful experience.

* Venturing back out into the dating world in my mid-40s. Challenging, different, fun and at times confusing - dating at this age is a whole new adventure. The good news is that you are more conident and less likely to engage in any game playing at this juncture. And who knows, love might venture into my life.

I will surely have many more choices to come and changes in my life. Here is to hoping that most of them will be as wonderful as this list!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I did it!!!

13.1 miles - a 1/2 marathon! The alarm went off at 5 a.m. and I must admit that I was tired. Even though I went to bed at a crazy, early hour- I did not sleep too well. Arrived and the rain was on the way. 7 am the race begins. I was further back in the crowd since I was walking a large part of the event.

I ran the first mile and a half, then walked, then ran occasionally - especially when going downhill! LOL. Pain did ensue - a headache for some strange reason but most of all sore feet. My legs felt OK - but something tells me my legs and butt are going to hurt tomorrow.

The first 8 miles felt pretty smooth and the route was really beautiful - through midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Little Five Points, Poncey Highland, Virginia Highland. I was reminded again how lovely Atlanta is and the gorgeous old homes helped to distract me from the fact that there are some hills in this glorious city!

Mile 10 - got a bit tired...feet really starting to hurt. Fortunately, I had some great folks next to me and we all agreed to help each other through it. Plus I had he knowledge that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society. My friend Lisa is battling breast cancer and if she can endure surgery, chemo and radiation, I could surely handle this little bit of pain.

Mile 11 - wonderful sight to see. And then the paths (1/2 marathon and full) were once again next to each other. It was mind boggling to me to see these athletes. We round to mile 12 - mile 24 for them! The last few miles were hard in some ways but easier than others in that the end was near. You could see the CNN building in the distance so I just knew it was possible. The last 1/2 mile or so was the best, crossing that fabulous finish line.

I am rather proud of myself!! 46 years old and finished my first half marathon! The best part of the whole experience was my 11 year old daughter Lily high fiving me and saying, "Mom, you awesome." Another plus - decided that today I can eat anything I want. So this goal in my reinvention is complete! I now feel inspired to continue on this healthy journey.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I had a rather low key, lovely weekend and a chance for some wonderful time with my girls. Had the time also to some thinking about what I have, what I want and my future. Spending time with my daughters is often the best therapy I can find for a rough week.

Here is an example.. Lily was gone for a birthday party for part of the weekend so Avery and I got to be alone together. She is practicing her writing so we were sitting together watching a movie and she handed me a notebook in which she had written the following:

"I love you Mom, I do love you, I am happy that we ary you love me?" We went back and forth, writing comments in this Dr. Seuess style rhyme. Couldn't help but wonder, once again, how these amazing girls came into my life as my daughters. I won't rehash again the miracle that it is to me, but maybe it all comes down to one I can't imagine my life without them and the love that we share. Do you ever hug your children, or your parent, or spouse or partner and become overwhelmed with how deep the emotion can feel?

Love is something I certainly need in my life and something that I am looking to add with a special man. I realize that the love for him will be different than the bond that I share with my children. Lets face it, all types of love are a little different as is their impact on your life. To me however, love and its variations are more alike than different. They are rooted in connections- spritual, emotional, mental, physical; caring; faith; vulnerability and the ability to give as well as receive. I know for a fact that my ability to love others and love them well has increased from my experience as a mother. Even my marriage and divorce set the stage for a deeper relationship to come. I read once that your heart is not "broken when you go through pain..but broken open."

So I celebrate the love my daughters and I share and know that the other love I seek will indeed enter my life...I have a lot of it to give...and am ready to receive.

Monday, March 8, 2010

music and potential

Tonight was a "cluster" concert for five elementary school, two middle school and a high school orchestra. The music was wonderful and of course, I love watching Lily play the cello. One of the best parts of the evening was watching the younger kids as the high school orchestra played. You could see that they were in awe of the teenagers; trying to comprehend that at one point these wonderful musicians were once beginners.

As I watched, listened and observed my daughter play her cello, I felt a wave of emotion and tears filled my eyes. Thank God she could not see me or she would have been mortfied. I was overwhelmed with the thought of all of these young, talented people playing their hearts out. What potential! I just looked at my daughter in all of her intensity, beauty and 11 year old attitude and marveled about what the future will hold for her. What will she do with her life? What sort of adult will she be? What joys will she experience? How will she deal with the challenges that she will face? Sometimes as a parent, I wish that I could put into her brain all that I have learned over the years. Imagine having all of that potential and future along with the knowledge of experience. Of course, that would rob her of the joy of life and the discovery of who she is deep inside.

The potential of my daughter and all of these kids just made me pause and gave me hope for the future.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


"Don't block your blessings" a wise friend and colleague mentioned to me this week. What an interesting concept; the idea of somehow blocking the good things that come my way or perhaps even the things that I desire to come into my life. Maybe that is because blessings are sometimes hidden behind tough times, change or even disappointment.

Or perhaps, it stems from not having enough patience to wait for the blessings to blossom, appear or come out of hiding. This is certainly true of writing..ideas trickle in and germinate- the trick is knowing when they have fermented long enough and need to be put on paper. And of course, not allowing the "germination period" to become an excuse or a case of writer's block.

I had a great meeting this week with Avery's teachers and speech therapist. She has come so far with speech therapy and the special help she has received for language arts and reading and it has made all the difference in the world. Speech therapy will be cut back down to three days a week and next year, in second grade, she will only need extra resource help for reading. Her language arts skills have grown so much that she will be back in the regular classroom for that subject. I was blown away by an amazing story that she had written about a talking cat - such imagination and talent for storytelling. She is confident, smart, happy, social and full of joy. One of her teachers described her as full of smiles and a child who loves life. They delight in working with her every day.

What does this have to do with hidden blessings? When I first realized that Avery needed extra help with a language processing disorder and speech - I did not exactly rejoice in the challenge she was facing. Now I realize that this experience has been a blessing. She has grown, had one to one attention, built confidence and has relationships with several additional adults who now care for her and have her best interests at heart. And they see her as a blessing in their work.

Relationships can sometimes require patience and an ability to recognize a blessing in development. Things need time to grow, develop (or not) at the right pace. The best relationships are when this progression feels natural, easy and without a lot of self doubt, insecurity or drama. Of course, that takes patience, knowledge of your self worth and a sometimes a little faith. I talked to a good friend of mine today, also dating post-divorce, and he said "at least you know you are the total package and what you want and deserve." Dang, he is right! Reminding myself of that is a good exercise. Part of reinventing myself has been the wonderful experience in presenting myself in a completely authentic way....being myself without games. The right man will realize that I am the "total package" and things will blossom as they should.

Patience is not my strongest virtue...surely a life lesson for me. I have had and continue to have experiences that seemed to be designed to help me deepen my levels of patience (hint to God and the Universe -I get it now..LOL) Blessings are welcome to come my way, I am ready..

Monday, March 1, 2010

Soft places to land

Where or to whom do you turn to at the end of a rough day? Is there a person or place that provides comfort? I like to think that my home provides that sort of warm environment for my girls. We often spend Friday evenings hunkered down together for movies, pizza and hugs- kind of a time out from the "real world." A home or favorite spot can be a refuge, a place of respite and peace.

I hope that in addition to providing a physical oasis for my kids, that I am also personally their soft place to land. No matter who you are, man or woman, independent or strong - it sure helps to have someone in your life who can be that cushion to life. Makes life easier when someone has your back, will listen to you, can give you the comfort that you need. Obviously, this can be a partner, spouse, friend- heck even a pet!

I was asked a while back in one of those online dating questions - what I really wanted from a relationship. It occurs to me that this is the crux of the answer. Sure - passion, friendship, companionship, shared goals and interests were probably how I responded. But really, when it comes down to it, having someone in my life to be that soft place to land and in return, being that for him can make all the difference.