Category Archives: My Story

What Was Lost Has Now Been Found

A week ago today I was writing a post about the word prompt “churn”. Although at the time I was staying in a beautiful beach condo with nothing to do but write, there were some things that happened that upset me more than they should have. Because I didn’t sleep well these events caused me to start the negative self-talk I’ve worked so hard to reprogram.

Fortunately I was aware of what I was doing and so I didn’t lose the entire day to self-pity. I didn’t let the spiral of recrimination and fear take over. I saw what was happening, I knew why and I stopped it. Allowing myself to continue was not productive. It would not bring back the lost item; it would not get my book finished.

And because of this experience I have grown.

It is scary to pursue a lifelong dream. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful, exciting, and completely amazing to be so close to reaching a goal I once thought impossible. But also absolutely terrifying. It’s so easy to let self-doubt crawl in, worry that I’m not prepared enough. And so I have made it impossible for me to back down. I have announced to the world (well, my world) that my book will be available, and so it will. I have invited friends and family over for a book launch on 4/28. There’s no backing down now. I’m 100% committed. Ready or not, this will be done.

I also told my daughter what I had lost. I accepted full responsibility and explained to her that I would replace it because what had happened was not her fault. And when I did this, she learned how it feels when the person truly responsible stands up and makes the wrong things right. In that moment, I honestly felt that the cost of the lost item was worth the lesson I was able to teach. I was grateful I could turn what had felt like a catastrophic event into something so positive. That would have been enough.

And yesterday I found what had been lost. I found it somewhere I’ve checked 100 times. I was certain it wasn’t there. And yet it has been found.

Everything really will be okay.

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)

Make Small Changes that will Produce Exciting Results

I work in the downtown area of a mid-sized city. As happens in a city, I park several blocks from my office. On the trek to my car one day I realized something startling. Except when crossing the street (to look at traffic lights and cars), my head was bowed the whole time and my eyes were directed firmly to the ground.

Now I’m not exactly sure how I came to this revelation but once I did I started to really understand how low my self esteem really was. On the drive home that day I thought about it and decided that this was one small thing that was under my control. All I had to do was look up.

So the next morning I left my car, head held high and turned the corner at the end of the block. I immediately came face to face with someone walking the other direction. Without a second thought I dropped my head and averted my eyes. This was going to be harder than I thought.

At the same time, I was losing weight and wearing more attractive clothes. I was growing out my hair and had it cut much more fashionably than it had been previously. As I started looking around more I noticed people looking at me. And this made me extremely uncomfortable; more than that…I was afraid.

I can’t say why I felt afraid, only that as these strangers looked at me I felt fear. This made it even harder to stop looking at the ground. I would look up, catch someone looking at me and my heart would pound. Immediately I’d look at the ground and want to be swallowed up.

But eventually I realized that a lot of these people looking at me were smiling. I often passed the same woman and one morning she complimented the dress I was wearing. I started wondering what people saw when they looked at me. Maybe they weren’t judging me. Maybe it didn’t even matter if they were.

With conscious deliberate effort I walked to and from the car with my head up…most of the time. As I started to feel better about my appearance this became easier.

Sometimes I still catch myself looking down. This is more because I’m lost in thought now, but I still make a conscious effort to look up when I catch myself doing this. I make eye contact with people as I pass them. I smile and say hello. These small daily interactions make it easier for me to walk into an event with a large group of people and start up a conversation, plus I’m seeing a lot more of the world around me!

What small change could you make?

 

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?

The Power of Perspective is Your Revealing Reality

Perspective is far more powerful than most of us realize. I was reminded of this yesterday when someone at work came inside, shivering from the cold. It was a chilly 64 degrees outside.

When it gets down to 64 degrees in Florida we all start walking around in jackets, hats, mittens, and boots (ok, not snow boots but maybe the cute knee high ones). We commiserate with each other about how cold it is. In March. At 64 degrees.

Those of you in colder climates probably hate me right now. I don’t blame you.

I’m from New Hampshire and they were hit hard this winter. A 64 degree day in NH in March would have people in shorts barbequing in their back yard, knee deep in snow no doubt!

But here in Florida we would sooner face a category 4 hurricane than temperatures under 50 degrees. There’s no need to fear something that can cause massive destruction. We’re ready. Bring it on! But sub 70 temperatures have us huddled under the covers begging for mercy.

It’s not that 64 degrees is different here than it is there. Yes, I know humidity can cause a difference but that’s not what I’m talking about. The difference is perspective. Compared to typical weather, 64 degrees may feel balmy or it may seem frigid. The temperature is the same but the way we experience it is different.

This is true for so much in life. Sometimes if we can’t change something that we don’t like, we just need to shift our perspective a bit.

This has been especially true when dealing with my ex husband. Take our time sharing plan for example. Because he’s a pilot and his schedule changes every month there are no set days he has them. There can’t be. He has them when he’s here. There is no other way.

When I first tell people this the conversation typically goes like:
Them: “That’s not fair”
Me: “No, it’s not. But that’s how it is.”
Them: “Why can’t their stepmother take them?”
Me: “Why would I give up my time with the girls?”
Them: “He should…”

But usually at that point they’re out of ideas. They mean well. It can be really tough to not have a set schedule. For the most part, I can’t make plans to do things, either on my own or with the kids. My friends will invite me to an event or on vacation and my standard answer is that I just don’t know if I can go.

The worst part about this is that he still gets all the control. He gets to decide when he has them. If he wants to go away on vacation without the kids he simply lists on his schedule that he’s working.  It’s only after the fact that the girls and I find out that he’s been on vacation (thank you Snap Chat).

I can’t explain how frustrating it can feel that he still gets control over my life this way. If I let myself think of the unfairness of the situation or how he wields power over us I feel angry, frustrated and powerless.

So I don’t think about the unfairness.  Instead I’ve come up with ways to deal with the situation more proactively.

Twice a year our parenting plan allows me to make plans with the kids without considering his schedule. Each time I can plan to have them for up to 4 days. This was negotiated as part of our revised plan so I could plan their birthday parties without having to go through a debate about his schedule. In addition to this I will sometimes make plans with them and then if his schedule conflicts I ask him to let them come with me anyway. He has been better about this, perhaps because he has a new baby to worry about.

I’ve also started allowing others to help me. I have friends and family who have stepped up and offered to spend time with the girls when there is something I need or want to do. I always try to arrange it so that the girls don’t feel like they are being dumped, but rather they get to go do something exciting while mom goes to do whatever it is she’s doing (they rarely care what it is I’m doing). When I went to Spain I was able to work it out by bringing them to NH to stay with family. They spent a week with my sister and a week with their dad’s sister. They loved the extra time alone with family and I had an amazing experience.

In this way I’ve made a choice. I’ve chosen to use this unpredictable schedule as an opportunity instead of a hindrance. It’s more effort than just feeling bad for myself and our situation, but by shifting my perspective we are all so much happier than we would be otherwise!

My sister’s cold:
snow

My cold:
sunshine.JPG

Featured Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Do Something About It

Just the kick in the pants some of us need. Change is hard but so worth it!

Discovering Your Happiness

Hello loves ❤

If you hate your job so much you’d rather do just about anything other than get up and go to work, quit. If you hate coming home at the end of a long day because you can’t stand to look your partner in the face, leave. If you are sick and tired of the way your life is going, do something about it.

If you hate your life that much–change it. Stop moaning and groaning about it, and actually do something.

Do you think anyone wants to work with someone who is miserable? No. Do you think you’re doing yourself or your partner a favor by staying with them when you can’t stand to be in the same room as them? No. Do you think you’re really going after what you want when you half-ass things and give up after a few bumps? Nope.

Things aren’t going…

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Controversial Single Mother – Who is She?

Yesterday I read a blog post that has me thinking, not just about what she said but about how divisive our society has become. The post was called “Single Parent vs Single Parent” and can be found at the link below:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/76765594/posts/1799625796

By posting the link to the article and not talking about it in general terms I do not mean any disrespect. Rather, I respect her opinion and I am not here to say she’s wrong. My intention is to post my point of view to see what everyone else here thinks. I also want everyone who is interested to be able to see her point of view without any bias, so I did not attempt to summarize her views. After a Google search I’ve discovered this is a popular view so I don’t mean to call her out specifically, but it was her post that led to mine and I want to give credit where credit is due.

While I’m not going to say she’s wrong, I do want to say that I respectfully disagree with her opinion.

According to her I should not call myself a single mother. According to this post only parents who are raising their child/children completely without the involvement of the other parent should call themselves a single parent.

Does it offend you if I call myself a single mother? Is there value in labeling those of us who have to share custody of our children something different? I honestly want to know.

Is this because single moms who have sole custody of their children have it harder? If this is basis, lets compare two situations. First, a single mother who has sole custody, whose parents babysit for her one night a week, who makes more than enough to pay her bills and sets money aside to help pay for college when her children are older. Second, is a single mother whose ex is verbally abusive, who sometimes “forgets” to pay his $100 a month in child support because the price of cigarettes went up again and who takes them every other weekend, or at least on the weekends he feels like complying with the custody agreement.

The label of “single mother,” in my opinion, should not attempt to universally describe a plight. For me it is a way to unite women together, not divide or label them. They may be single by choice, they may be lesbian, they may have adopted children, they may have a super supportive ex, or they may not even know the name of the father.

I have learned that there is no universally accepted definition of the term “single mother.” In my opinion, single mothers are women, or people who identify as a woman. Single mothers have children, either young or grown. Single mothers are not in a relationship with the father of their children, but they may be in a different relationship, or possibly even remarried. Single mothers may even still be in a relationship with the father but consider themselves “single” for a variety of reasons. Whoever considers themselves a single mother should be allowed to do so, without judgment. This isn’t an exclusive club and it’s not high school.

As I posted last week regarding what I felt children were learning from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there is power in joining together. You can accomplish more by uniting people than by dividing. I’m not sure why our society keeps going down the path of “you’re not like me” or “we’re too different to be labeled the same.”

I actually read an article in a major publication from the UK a couple years ago that said it was offensive to people who are born as a female but don’t identify as a woman to use the term “mother.” It was offensive to me to think that any group of people might try to take that word away from me.

When I started writing this I had actually considered maybe changing the name of my blog to be less offensive. After all, I do see her point. However I’m going to keep things the way they are. I am going to continue to call myself a single mother. I do this not to offend, but I do not apologize for it.

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash