Category Archives: Favorite Posts

Breathing With the Tide is not a Temporary Fix

The tide rolls in; the tide rolls out. It is smooth and rhythmic, like my breath. It calms me. It soothes me. It brings my focus to the present moment and allows my cares to be washed away, at least most of them.

Last night I went for a walk on the beach. This is something I used to do several nights a week, but recently haven’t had time for, or haven’t made time for. I’ve been feeling a bit off recently and needed time to think about some things (this is the introvert in me).

On the beach the sound of the waves and the cry of the seagulls drowns out my less helpful, self-critical thoughts. The feel of the sand beneath my feet helps to keep my attention on the present. The breeze blows my hair and my worries behind me. For a while I am captured by nature; as the sun drops closer to the horizon I am a part of something bigger than myself.

But sometimes life intrudes on these moments….a text from my tenant explaining why the rent is late, another from my daughter asking what happens if she’s too sick to go to school. My peace shattered, my attention turns to the people I pass as I walk. Happy couples, hand in hand; families building a sandcastle and taking selfies. Why was their happiness suddenly making me feel like something is missing in my life?

I do not spend time regretting the past. It can’t be changed. I don’t compare myself to others. Even people who look happy in a given moment have problems; and besides, I’m not unhappy.

These past few months I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible. I’m getting into shape; I published a book; I’m beginning new projects. I am surrounded by friends who are infinitely supportive, and sincerely happy for everything I am achieving. My kids are amazing and truly bring me joy. My finances are solid, money is building in my savings. I’m making plans for my future.

I guess the way I’ve been feeling can best be described as lonely, and possibly nostalgic. I’m not going to pretend I don’t feel this way, but I’m not going to wallow in it either. Today I’m going to focus on gratitude. I’m going to spend some time today thinking about how much I really have in my life, because honestly my life is amazing. I don’t regret what has brought me here and I’m going to look forward instead of behind me.

And it’s simply not possible to feel both grateful and lonely at the same time.

I’m going to start right now. I am grateful for you. I am grateful you took the time to read this. I’m grateful for everyone who follows my blog and who takes the time to comment. I’m especially grateful for those people who I am now connected with outside of this blog who are becoming good friends. You all add so much to my life.

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This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Tide

What Beauty Do You Discover When You Look Around?

Look around you. What do you see?

Well right now I’m in a dark office with half the lights off because for some reason IT people like to work in the dark. But as often as possible I take myself out into nature where I can connect with a feeling of peace I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

I have always spent a significant amount of time outside. In NH I explored trails all over, taking my golden retriever with me in all kinds of weather. I would trudge through knee deep snow while she happily pranced on top, running ahead of me with ease. Together we got lost on a trail in the middle of nowhere, alone with no cell service or map. We frequented places along a river or lake and she would chase sticks into the water. I should have spent more time exploring the mountains but it’s this regret that pushes me to explore further now.

She is no longer with me, but I still love going out into nature to observe wildlife. Where I live now is far more urban than where I used to live; it’s more urban than almost any place in NH actually. But there are many great parks and preserves to explore. I love the mangrove bays and many are accessible through hiking trails or on the water. There are several places where you can kayak through tunnels made out of the branches of mangrove trees.

There are rivers fed by springs where the water is so clear you can easily see schools of fish swimming by. I’ve watched otters playing on the shore and manatees floating near the docks. I’m warned of snakes and gators but I’ve never seen either.

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The beach is nearby and is beautiful any time of day, both sunrise and sunset are equally beautiful. Mid-morning is the perfect time to catch dolphins playing along the shore, in the photo just a black dot in the blue but in person a spectacular sight.

And when all else fails I can observe nature lurking at my house these days in the form of 4 frolicking kittens who you knew had to appear again today. This morning I was their tree and could barely keep them down long enough to snap a picture.

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This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Observe

Today: Announcing Exciting Results, After a Last Minute Frenzy

Quite unexpectedly, my book is available NOW for pre-order on Amazon! The actual release date is Saturday 4/28 so you won’t be waiting long!

After much hard work I have been able to publish well ahead of my self-imposed deadline….And you, my reader, are among the first to know!

Although I am listed as the author on this book, I have been fortunate to be able to collaborate with two amazing WordPress bloggers. I am grateful for both their contributions:

The Creative PTSD Gal

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

Their work is featured throughout the book alongside my words. Using personal stories of success and struggle I share some of the changes I’ve made in my thinking that have allowed me to fundamentally change my life in ways I would never have imagined. Their words reflect what I have learned personally.

Even as a child, I have always had issues with self-esteem and true happiness proved to be elusive as I grew up. After 40+ years of searching I’ve finally discovered the secret to happiness and this book shares the most important mind sets, the shifts in my thinking that have allowed me to finally understand what happiness is.

I am not one to ask for help or favors, but if you find this news worthy of sharing with your readers I’d be honored if you’d reblog this post. I am grateful to all of you for your kindness and support along my journey and look forward to achieving much more together!

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What Happened To “Grateful Single Moms?”

After much thought, I’ve decided to rebrand this blog. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, my writing has taken a completely unexpected direction, and it’s one that feels true to who I am. I know many of you refer to me as “Grateful Single Mom”…or “GSM”…and I’m still all of these things, particularly the Grateful piece.

I’m grateful to all of you who have connected with me, supported and encouraged me, occasionally empathized and always lifted me up. Truly you have given me the courage to flourish. I want to sincerely thank all of you.

I am still a Grateful Single Mom. But I’m so much more.

As I started writing, I shared stories of courage, strength, and overcoming obstacles. I wrote about struggles and challenges, trials and conflicts. And I’ve barely begun to touch on all I have to say.

As I wrote, I realized that I have gone from a life where I was just getting by, to one that is more than I’ve ever dreamed of. And now I can see how much further I can go. The possibilities are endless.

I have gone from surviving, living day to day, to thriving, and living a life I never thought could be mine.

There have been times that the words of my posts have flowed so freely that reviewing them afterward felt like I was reading something written by someone else. The stories were mine; the thoughts and ideas belonged to me. But how they were put together was not how I thought I’d be writing.

Shortly after I had one of these moments I thought, “what if I wrote a book?” I had always wanted to write a book; I’d even started a couple that fizzled out. Nothing I wrote felt authentic. It all felt like I was trying to write what people expected.

But here, with this blog, I found my voice.

What if I wrote a book with the same voice I’ve found for my blog? What if I wrote about some of the ways I’ve been able to change my life? What if I shared my personal stories, and perhaps even stories from others who have struggled?

And so I started to write. For the first time ever, as I was writing the words I wrote came easily to me. They were completely true to me, and who I want to be. They were emphatic and heartfelt. They were impassioned and insightful.

I won’t minimize how much work it was, because as much as I loved every single moment I spent writing, it has been work. I have put much of my life on hold to get this finished. I needed to complete this before time allowed fear and self-doubt to creep in. There is still work to be done, but the end is in sight. It will be published on or before 5/1/2018.

It may be imperfect, as am I, but it is sincere and authentic. I am extremely proud of what I’m about to put out into the world.

And so I’m rebranding my blog to align with the book title I have selected. It reflects who I am, where I’m going, and what I’ve found myself writing about here. Grateful Single Moms has become:

Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind.

The River Wild (1)

For the First Time, I am Open to Every Unimaginable Opportunity

I grew up believing there was one right path for everyone. I believed the goal was to make enough money to pay for the necessities of life, to survive and maybe have a little extra for fun; but fun was optional, something “nice to have” if you can afford it after all the bills are paid.

I was told to get good grades in school, work hard in college and find a nice safe job working for someone else. Getting married and having kids was also set in stone, something that had to be done. In my mind, there was just this one road to take. There was no other way.

But as I grew and changed, as I met people who have chosen a different direction I’ve become aware of the unimaginable opportunity that exists for everyone. The more I learn, the more open I become. The more I learn, the more I want for me, for my girls, for my friends, and now, suddenly, for everyone else.

When I started writing just a short 6 weeks ago, my plan was inchoate. I hate using fancy words to describe something so basic, but this word is so apt it can’t be helped. I had thought the plan I’d developed was fully formed, the “right” thing to do; but I’ve discovered how incomplete it truly is. It was completely rudimentary compared to where my writing might take me. 

See, I was still working under the assumption that there was a “right” path to follow. I still thought that if I just researched and learned the process of being a successful writer, blogger, investor, homeowner, gardener, mother, friend, whatever…that I would then be successful. I still believed life was a mathematical equation to be solved; a science project where the right inputs would get the results you desired.

But it’s not.

I’m starting to understand that the best path really is to remain inchoate; to keep any plan undeveloped so you remain open to every single possibility; start in a direction but know you might end up someplace completely unexpected.

And so I persist with my writing, because for the first time I feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing. I have chosen a direction but I am open to every impossible opportunity that presents itself along the way.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Inchoate

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Stick to a Plan

Some of you have read a lot of my posts and are starting to realize how long my road has been, others are just joining me and perhaps this is the first post they’re reading.

I want to be clear, although I write about the struggles I’ve had, my life has not been bad. By most standards I live a very privileged life and it gets better all the time. I am grateful for the lessons life has taught and am thankful I have been open to learning. Many people have been through so much more than I can even begin to imagine. It is for these people I started to write.

I started this blog, Grateful Single Moms, thinking I could help single mothers connect so they could share stories of their struggles and success (this is why the “s” is on “Moms”). I wanted them to feel they were not alone, I wanted them to know there is support out there for those who seek it. I wanted them to feel hope that even if they’re having a hard time now, things will get easier for them, as it did for me.

I thought I’d write about parenting and my kids. I thought I’d share tips I’ve learned and maybe even some dating advice (I could seriously write a book about dating with all the mistakes I’ve made).

But as I’ve started writing, something different has come out. I’m not writing so much about being a single mom, or even a woman. Parenting hasn’t even come in as often as I’d anticipated. Instead, I’m writing stories of struggles and strength, challenges and courage, obstacles and overcoming them.

This was not my plan, and I like to follow a plan. Normally at this point I would realize I’ve gotten off track. I would work to redirect my course. After all, life is a long haul and we often have to correct our course.

But I’m not going to change direction after all. I love what I’ve been writing. I’ve never been more proud of myself, to be honest. As I write I continue to learn about myself and how I feel about the journey I’ve been on, because even though I have been living mindfully, choosing my path consciously, some thoughts remain unconscious until we give them a way to be expressed.

I’ve always loved the idea of journaling but have never been good at the execution. My life is busy, complicated, full already. Without something to hold me accountable my commitment to writing, in any form, falls below other priorities, like sleeping. I won’t say that this blog is a journal for me, as I honestly feel it’s far more than that.

But it has become an outlet for ideas stretching far beyond being a single mother. I am sincerely grateful for all of you who are joining me on this journey. I appreciate that you take the time to read what I’ve written and I love hearing your comments. The community here has been wonderful and supportive, and I thoroughly love getting to know you through your posts and comments.

I’m not yet sure where this winding road will take me but I love where I am right now.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Haul

Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind

I have decided I want a life of absolute abundance.

That is my goal. I don’t want a normal life anymore. I want an extraordinary one. And now that I know I want it, know how much it means to me, I will stop at nothing to get it. What I’ve just realized, just this very moment…is that my life is already abundant in so many ways, so saying I want a “life of abundance” makes it seem like I’ve already achieved my goal, that I’m not grateful enough for what I already have.

But I know there is so much more out there for me. So much more I can achieve. I know how, now.

I’ve learned so many things that have led me to where I am. I wish I had known these lessons earlier. I wish I’d done differently, been different. But that’s silly…because it’s exactly those lessons that make it possible for me to be who I am, where I am, doing what I’m doing. And I am grateful for all that I have in my life and how far I’ve come. I’m grateful I am now the kind of person who can teach my girls that there is more out there for them. I can teach them how to use both their strengths and their challenges to build the life they choose. If it had been easier for me I wouldn’t be as good a teacher as I am now.

For most of my life I’ve kept myself at a distance from others. I’ve thought I had to do it alone, that I was somehow stronger because I didn’t need anyone else. I’ve been afraid of being hurt, sheltering myself from harm by keeping people at arm’s length. I’ve used my label of “introvert” to justify being aloof and alone. I was frigid; I was afraid; I was uncertain.

Truly I am an introvert. That is my nature, but it doesn’t define who I am. It doesn’t limit me or my potential when I label myself this way. By understanding my nature I can use it to my advantage. By knowing myself I understand that it is this part of my nature that permits the introspection that helps me make better choices. It is this that helps me forge such strong friendships, once I connect with people.

But I no longer permit myself to use this as an excuse to keep my distance from others, for I’ve discovered that it is my connections with others that have most contributed to my abundant life. It is the friendships I’ve forged that enrich my life so much. It is the opportunities they provide, their encouragement and support, their passions and their experiences that have made my life abundant.

It is because of a good friend that I am able to write this post sitting by the pool, listening to the waves crash against the shore. It is because of my good friends that I take more risks in life, that I push past fear into the unknown. It is because of good friends I am being introduced to more amazing people. It is because of these people in my life that I fully appreciate the person I have become, because I can now see what they see. They hold the mirror up in just the right way so all my best qualities are reflected back to me.

You cannot live a life of abundance if you are frigid. You must live your life with passion and joy, opening yourself to people and experiences. It is because I have welcomed life with open arms that this morning I was able to walk along the beach to breakfast at a beautiful café. It is because of this that I watched dolphins frolicking in the ocean. And it was the abundance of these dolphins that made me reflect on how fortunate I am to be living this life.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Frigid

Warning – Do Not Read This Post!

You’re reading it anyway? In spite of the warning?

Why is it when people tell us NOT to do something, it is so much more tempting to do it?

I’ve already written my post for today. Perhaps you saw it already, or maybe you haven’t scrolled down that far yet. You should look for it. It was brilliant. I have nothing else to say. There is no reason to read this.

And yet it is soooo tempting to do something when we are warned against it.

I’m sure there’s a psychological reason for it that I could look up on Google and quote here. But I’m not really interested in regurgitating boring textbook data.

And yet I really want to know. Why are you reading this when I told you not to? Maybe you are regretting it.

Is it the thrill of doing something you’re not supposed to do? Does it feel empowering to do what you want to do instead of following the rules? Do you naturally rebel against restrictions?

I’m a rule follower. I always have been. If I break the rules even just a little my heart pounds and I’m terrified. What if I’m caught? What if I’m found out?

Last night on the way to an amazing concert (which I may post about later) Google instructed me to divert off the main road onto an access road to get around traffic. “I can’t do that,” I thought to myself. And I didn’t. I sat in traffic instead, watching other people zooming past us on the access road.

My life has kind of been that way. I was told early on that I can’t ______ (go ahead and fill in the blank yourself because the list of things I wouldn’t be able to do was too long for this short post). And I conformed. I followed what I was told and I watched others sail past in their happy lives, wondering why they were getting so much further ahead.

I need to learn to break the rules once in a while. There are still rules that are good to follow, that benefit everyone; but we need to decide for ourselves which rules matter, and which don’t. We need to decide for ourselves what we can’t do, and what we can do.

And so this is why I’m breaking the rules. This is why I’m posting for the second time about the word of the day. And if you’ve read this far please tell me, why did you read this post?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Warning

My Favorite Place in the World

After my divorce I spent a lot of time alone and so I had plenty of time to think. The beach became my retreat, my escape from the rest of the world. So I would head there to fill any free moment and I would walk. Sometimes I would walk for hours. I would walk most nights until sunset, watching the sky change, the sun reflecting off the clouds. It made me appreciate that I was part of something bigger. That the things going on in my little world were small in comparison. The sun would set and I would be grateful because I’d made it through another day.

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Sunrise has also been special to me but in a different way. I am fortunate enough to be able to see both sunrise and sunset over the water, without having to drive to the other side of the state. For most people sunrise represents limitless possibilities. That certainly resonates with me. But it is also a time of peace, of calm before my busy day begins. It is a time when the kids are still asleep and I can reflect on all that I am grateful for.

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The rise and fall of the sun has been such an influence in my life. I am grateful I have this opportunity to share it.

Revised 3/29/18

A great friend has just sent me pictures of sunrise and sunset on Easter Island where she is currently traveling. She is one of my most faithful supporters so I instantly knew I had to add her pictures to this post.  We miss you!

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This post is in response to the photo challenge Sunrise/Sunset

See These Remarkable Life Lessons from Kayaking

Today I was able to go kayaking for the first time this year. It didn’t work out quite as I’d planned as I was supposed to go with my wonderful friend Jill and a group she was leading, but I didn’t get free quite in time. Still, I went out by myself and it was fantastic, truly inspiring.

While I was out on the water ideas kept coming to mind that I wanted to write down. Among them was the following list of life lessons you can discover from kayaking. I decided to just post the list without expanding on them. They may mean something different to each person but there’s nothing wrong with that.

  1. Never care so much about your car that you’re afraid to get the seats wet.
  2. It’s okay to leave technology behind.  It will be there when you get back.
  3. Sometimes it’s okay to drift, but if you don’t paddle enough the wind and current may move you off course.
  4. Going with the flow can make things easier, but it takes courage to paddle against the current.
  5. Paddling into the wind is hard.  Just sayin’
  6. Look out for others, they may not be looking out for you.
  7. Use leverage.
  8. Sometimes slow is fast enough.
  9. The further from shore you paddle the rougher the seas, but you can get to great places if you’re not afraid to leave the shore and put in the effort.
  10. Sometimes it’s best to follow someone else’s trail.  They know the way because they’ve been there before.
  11. Be grateful for the people and circumstances in life that allow you time out on the water, or wherever you choose to go.

Kayaking today would not have been possible without the love and support of my good friend Nancy, who is always there for me.  Today was also sponsored by a fellow parent who was willing to help me out.  I am truly grateful for all the people in my life.

Who are you grateful for?