Category Archives: My Story

Is It Better to Follow a Plan?

I always used to be a planner. I believed having a plan and sticking to it was the best way to achieve goals. I studied SMART goal setting and repeatedly tried to follow the process. It never worked for me, and worse I spent more time working on setting up the process than I did following it through.

I had things I wanted to achieve and yet I wasn’t making progress. I was stuck.

Over time I started reading books that led me to realize my real problem was fear. I was afraid of what people would think. I was afraid I would fail. I wasn’t sure if I could do something and so I didn’t try to do it. It was safer that way.

I admit, I still have a little voice inside me that tells me I can’t do things or I’m not good enough. “What if it doesn’t work?” it sneers.

But I’ve gotten better at responding, “What if it does?”

I’ve also found that allowing myself a backup plan helps. While the girls were on winter break I took on the major project of redoing their bedrooms. Normally we would just paint and rearrange things a bit but this time I decided I was going to do it all. I ripped out their carpets, changed their electrical outlets (they were so loose they could barely plug anything in them) and tore down the old shelves in their closets.

At various points that fear would grip me. As I pulled up the rug and thought about how I was going to pull tack strips out of concrete I thought, “What if I can’t get all the nails out?” Rather than letting it stop me I allowed myself a backup plan. If I couldn’t get the nails out then I would hire someone to help. Normally I’d ask my neighbor but he was gone for 2 weeks…but I’d ask someone. The city is full of people who can get nails out of concrete.

But I found out that I could do it. I got every last one of them out. Maybe it wasn’t the best way, or the easiest way. But I did it.

After painting, my daughters and I started laying the new flooring. I had selected vinyl planks, similar to wood laminate but more durable. I had laid wood laminate before, or rather I’d assisted laying it before. I’d never done it on my own, but I understood how it worked. We laid the first row and I had to cut the first plank. The instructions said “score with a utility knife and snap it.” It was not as simple as it sounded and I began to worry about how hard it was to cut.

We pressed on to the second row and found that the second piece in the second row was quite a challenge. Getting it to lock into two sides was much more difficult than one. I started to feel discouraged. The room isn’t huge but suddenly the task felt daunting. “Is this too much for us to take on?” I wondered.

But I knew that things get easier the more you do them and so I pressed on. I should not have been surprised when after the 4th or 5th row we had a smooth process and we were moving along faster than I’d ever expected.

In the end, the first room came out fantastic. The second is done except for finding a place to store all her treasures (no pictures of that room until it’s cleaned up!).

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I’ve done the same with my writing. I was able to publish my first book by taking control of that little voice of doubt inside me. Working furiously to finish before a tight deadline (that I’d imposed on myself) gave me little time to worry and the community here on WordPress helped bolster my courage.

I’m now working on a novel, when I can. It’s probably 1/3 done and I’ve been taking a break to work on another writing project. My sister asked me to help her write for her blog and I now find myself writing about children with autism. This isn’t a topic I know a lot about, but I’m learning. I worry as I’m writing…”Am I saying this the right way? Will people take offense if I say that?” My sister has posted our second collaborative post and although I’m still learning I am getting more comfortable:

How to Help Siblings Get Along When One or More Has Autism

Honestly the things I’m learning I could have used when my kids were little!

We are also working on a book series with the tentative title “Understanding Your Child with Autism.”

This isn’t a direction I’d planned to take, but I’ve decided that sometimes NOT sticking with a plan is the best course of action. Keeping myself open to possibilities might actually help me achieve more than I could ever plan for.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Plan.

Why Time Out Might Be Making Your Child’s Behavior Worse

My house is still torn apart. Neither bedroom I’ve been renovating is finished, although one is close. I have piles of things the girls want to get rid of and a yard sale is pending in my future – and I hate yard sales. I’m still stuck with my novel. I feel like I’ve somehow lost the message of the story and I’m trying to get it back. I want to do a second book on my Thriving Not Surviving theme. My Christmas decorations are down but not put away. I’m finally getting back to yoga and running after nearly 2 weeks without either.

But I couldn’t resist one more thing. My sister has asked me to partner with her on her website and so I have been working on that. She is an expert in child behavior and works with children with autism. She’s a licensed BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) with a master’s degree and plenty of knowledge but doesn’t enjoy writing the way I do. So we are combining our skills.

Our first collaborative post I could have used about 10 years ago: Why Time Out Might Be Making Your Child’s Behavior Worse.

I have long wanted a way to contribute, to use my skills in a way that makes the world better. It’s why I wrote my first book and will continue to write. I’m excited to learn and grow in this new way. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts! Even if you’re not a parent feel free to subscribe to the blog and keep up with what we’re doing – and share it with people you know who have kids!

FREE Today and Tomorrow Only – Learn 4 Secrets That Will Change Your Life!

Have you ever wondered, “Is this really all there is?” My life used to consist of work, chores, taking care of the kids, and a couple hours of TV to unwind before I went to bed. After my divorce I met people who helped me realize that there really is more out there – a LOT more! My life has changed in ways I would never have believed possible.

As a result of everything I learned, I published my first book in April – Thriving not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind! It is a straightforward guide for changing your thinking in a way that will help you move from simply surviving to thriving. I’ve done it and so can you! (see below for an excerpt from the book)

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, click the image below to download the Kindle version for FREE today and tomorrow only (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! Miss the promotion? Email me at gratefulsinglemoms@yahoo.com and I will notify you of the next promotion!

After you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It helps more than you know!

I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Click the image below to get your free copy today!

Goodbye 2018!

December has been a busy month. I guess that’s not unusual for us but the holidays for us involves traditions that we just won’t give up no matter how packed our schedule is.

Every year we have a cookie making party. This year we had 8 teenagers spend the weekend baking cookies and cakes – okay, mostly cakes because what they really enjoy these days is decorating cakes. There was flour everywhere and they used over 30 eggs. There are still 6 open cans of frosting in my fridge that need to be thrown away.

We also visit the lights at a park with family friends every year. We have been doing this since 2013 and even though the girls we bring are now 15 and 17 they still get excited about going. The 4 girls pose for hundreds of pictures at the same places they’ve been standing for years and looking back we can see how much they’ve changed.

We fit these activities in on top of Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating and more.

As if that weren’t enough, we fostered kittens, three this time. They were with us for over 3 weeks and although they started off timid and scared they eventually grew to be more adventurous.

My daughter held a yard sale the weekend before Christmas where we sold some of our furniture – 3 book cases and a sectional sofa, making room and clearing clutter. We began renovating my daughter’s room, removing everything including the carpet. I’ve never seen so much sand under a carpet before! Where does it come from? We changed the walls from purple to grey and finally painted the baseboards that have been the horrible yellow that was there since we moved in 8 years ago. I took down the old shelving in the closet to make room for more functional storage. My younger daughter’s room is next…after we finish.

I stuck to running a couple times a week and am up to 5 miles now. I can hold yoga poses I had once thought impossible. I got back out on my bike Christmas day and did 20 miles in spite of the tires being flat. I feel strong and fit.

On top of everything the girls had another trip to NH for their third funeral this year. While it was sad saying goodbye to yet another grandparent this one was not only expected but in many ways a relief. Their dad’s father had been suffering for a long time and he is now at peace.

We have definitely finished 2018 with a bang. I look forward to what 2019 will bring!

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Traditions.

Let’s Create a New Tradition!

In an effort to get back to writing I have begun posting on my other blog. I hope to resume the more creative posts here but until then I thought I’d share today’s post.

Thriving Not Surviving

This time of year is filled with family, friends and traditions. It is a time for saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.

I started 2018 strong – stronger than any year I can remember. I achieved more than I ever thought I could in a single year:

  • I lost over 40 pounds in 9 months and have been maintaining for 3 months.
  • I started running and can now run 5 miles.
  • I took up yoga and can now bend myself into a pretzel.
  • I started meditating.
  • I began writing and blogging.
  • I wrote and published my first book.
  • I started my novel.
  • I took over 2 MeetUp groups.
  • I traveled to new places.

I became a version of me that I truly loved.

But since October my life has gotten a little off track.  My mom passed away and even though we weren’t close it hit…

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Staring at a Blank Page

As many of you know, I have been working on my novel now since June. The ideas for the story came fast and furious, flowing with little effort. Every day I would write 500 to 1000 words, sometimes more. I used the word of the day for inspiration, and I was happy with what I came out. The pieces had been written out of order, but I had put them together in one document in order. When I started to read through it I realized it still needed a lot of work – a full rewrite instead of just an edit as I’d hoped.

A few months ago I stopped responding to the word of the day prompt so I could focus on my masterpiece. I started the rewrite and what I wrote the second time was so much better I was motivated to turn it into something truly great. Pretty quickly I got about 20,000 words into the new story, and it was good. Really good. Better than I thought I could write.

And then I got stuck.

Life happened. My mother passed away. While we weren’t close, I didn’t handle this well (does anyone?) and suddenly I felt other areas of my life starting to unravel. I disengaged from WordPress. I missed time with my kids. I had issues with my rental. And although I have great friends, I didn’t get the support I needed (largely because of how I was dealing with the situation).

I spent a week in NH dealing with the practical things that need to be done when someone passes away. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. I took the week off from writing – there was no time and how could I justify writing at a time like that? I came back and still had a week off from work to get myself together. I went away to Savannah and Charleston – a trip I’d planned before my mother passed away. I was alone and had fully intended to spend the time writing. I did everything but write. I ran. I wandered around the towns. I read. But I didn’t write. Not a word.

And still I made excuses. I was healing. I would get back to it.

It has now been 2 months, and still I struggle to get back to writing. I don’t post to WordPress. I have added some to the story but I keep getting distracted – emails, texts, dinner with friends, running. I spent 4 days at the beach where I finished my last book and still I found other things to do. I ran on the beach. I hung out at the bar down the street and met some interesting people. I listened to music. I did yoga. But I didn’t write.

And now I’m adding to my excuses. Work is busy. It’s Christmas and I need to buy presents. It’s cold and I don’t have any clothes that fit so I need to go shopping.

Plus we’re fostering 3 kittens and one of them – even after a week – hisses at me when I enter the room and any time I go near her. She needs socialization or she will never be adopted.

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And so I play with the kittens instead of writing. Or I have dinner out. Or I go running. Or I go to yoga. Or shopping. Or I do anything but write.

And so the page remains blank. I miss the days when I could write for hours, lost in the story. Some day I will do that again. I just don’t know when.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Masterpiece.

Finding My Path

You precede me on this journey. You lead not because you know better where we are going but because that is who you are. I follow not because I am a follower but because I want you to be who you are. I have had my chance to find my path. It is now your turn.

I can feel more than see the distance growing between us. I know deep down it is only a matter of time before our paths diverge. It cannot last. Is it worth the pain I will feel when you leave?

You get further ahead, then wait for me to catch up. The space between us increases more each time you decide to stop. I could ask you to slow down, but I won’t. This is your journey. I worry that you’re losing patience waiting, that I’m slowing you down. How long will it be before you decide to just keep going?

I watch you walk as I struggle to keep up, afraid I will lose sight of you. What will happen if I do? Your stride is so much longer than mine, your pace more determined. I prefer to travel slowly, stopping to appreciate the way the light shines on a staircase made of stones. Or pause to examine a thick root, revealed by erosion, worn smooth by countless feet that have been dragged across it. I want to take time to appreciate how it clings, tenaciously holding the earth in place. But the distance grows and I’m scared I’ll never catch up.

Perhaps we were never meant to walk this path together. It’s impossible to know, and so I will try to enjoy what time we have. I’ll be grateful you were there to encourage me when the path became so steep I didn’t think I could make it. I’ll remember with fondness the quiet time together sitting on the rocky ridge, feeling like the only two people on the edge of the world.

And when it’s time, I will let you go.

Up ahead there’s a bend in the trail. Will you stop? No, you’re out of sight now, and maybe I won’t see you again. Maybe you’re done waiting for me. Perhaps you regret waiting for me to begin with.

Just beyond the bend the trail splits. Which way did you go? There’s no way for me to know, no telltale signs. In the end it doesn’t matter. I need to choose the direction that’s right for me, just as you have chosen what is best for you.

Our paths might cross again some day, after all they do wind and weave, crossing each other more often than we realize.

All I know for certain is that it was worth it. You were worth it.