Warning – I Will Be Unbearable This Week

This week I have the opportunity to live my dream life. It will last only 3 days but I will be spending these days staying at the beach, in my friend’s beautiful condo with nothing to do but write. This is how I want to spend the rest of my life.

To all my friends who think I am positive and upbeat most of the time – I warn you – this week I will be unbearable. I will be excited, energetic, and bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm. I will tell everyone I come in contact with that absolutely anything is possible, that good things will come if you put in the effort and that they too can do whatever they set their mind to.

What I’m calling my writing retreat is possible because I have an amazing friend, with a spectacular home, who is generous enough to share this with me.

It is possible because I finally decided that I can follow my dream. By the end of this retreat I will have the draft of my book complete, ready to share with my editors, wonderful friends who will help craft it into what it is meant to be.

It is possible because my readers from here have encouraged me with your kind words and your own tales of success.

It is possible because I have set a ridiculously short deadline to keep me focused on my goal, instead of allowing time for fear and self-doubt to creep in.

It is possible because I now believe in myself. I believe in the possibilities that are available to anyone.

You have been warned.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Warning

I Will be Betrayed No More!

As I’ve gone through my journey of recovering from my past and self-discovery I’ve come to realize one thing more than anything else.  The person who has betrayed me more than anyone I’ve ever come in contact with is….me.

I have been betrayed by my low self-esteem; missing every opportunity because I felt I wasn’t good enough, not deserving enough.

I have been betrayed by my lack of self-worth; feeling unworthy of love, real love by someone who values me as I am.

I have been betrayed by my poor self-confidence; allowing fear to dominate my decisions, holding me back from accomplishing all I am capable of.

I have been betrayed by limiting beliefs; permitting thoughts of “I can’t” or “if only” to obliterate all hope for the future.

I have been betrayed by misguided thoughts; blaming others and in blaming handing over control of my happiness, my right to choose, my life.

I have been betrayed by my absence of self-love; shaming myself as others have shamed me, ridiculing myself, punishing myself for all that I am not.

I will be betrayed no more.  I will seize the opportunities presented to me.  I will seek only true love, in all my relationships.  I will persevere in the face of fear.  Instead of “I can’t” I will say “I will,” and then I will follow through.  I will hold myself accountable and in doing so I will be the only one responsible for my happiness.  I will love myself and appreciate all that is unique in me.

This is who I am, right now, in this moment.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Betrayed

You Have Made Me Wildly Brave

Today’s word prompt brought back some frantic days while I was going through my divorce. Those days I was full of fear, cringing when my husband’s number showed up on my cell phone while I was working (why did I always answer?). In seeing this word I felt the panic that followed me in those days. I felt all over again the reasons I left an emergency bag of clothes under my desk at work, the reasons I made arrangements with a friend to stay with her if things got so bad I couldn’t go home. Although I wasn’t afraid he would hurt me physically the terror was almost the same.

But I’ve come so far I didn’t want that to be my story today.

Today I’m frantically working on a new project. I am frantically following a dream. I am frantically rushing toward a deadline I have set for myself, one that I will hold myself to.

I’m writing a book. This is something I have wanted to do since I was a child. As a young girl I actually wrote a mystery, bound by my own hand with construction paper as the cover. I don’t know where that story is now, but this has truly been a lifelong dream.

I first put up this blog in 2014, thinking this was a way to start working toward that goal. I wrote 6 or 7 posts, decided no one would want to read what I had to write and gave up. In one of my fits of self-improvement, and in an effort to find something positive to obsess over, I took a class from the local college on writing a book. And so I started writing again, only to quit. Why put in all this effort? Who is going to read what I have to say?

About a month ago I came back to this blog. I deleted the old posts…they were a reflection of someone I used to be, not the person I’ve become. I started putting my thoughts out to the world and have been welcomed into the WordPress community, for which I’m extremely grateful! I sincerely appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my thoughts, I appreciate those of you who have graciously joined the conversation and I appreciate even more those who now call me “friend.”

The daily prompts have been motivating, encouraging me to write more often than I’d ever intended but also pulling me further into the experience of blogging. Some of the things I’ve been most proud of would not have been written if not for the word of the day.

As ideas started flowing I resurrected my dusty old goal. I started writing the book. In the beginning I had a plan for it, an outline I thought I was going to follow; but this project has taken on its own momentum and has moved in directions I wasn’t expecting. The book is not at all what I thought I would be writing about but it is what has come out of me. I guess that’s what they mean when people talk about “flow.” It’s almost beyond my control. This IS what I’m writing about. Maybe my other ideas will be used in a future project, but not now.

This is my new reality. I am leaving my frantic past where it belongs, simply a part of history, something to be learned from but no longer feared.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Frantic

Overweight Never Again – How I Lost 20 Pounds in 2 Months

Like many people, I have a goal of eating healthier.  I want to lose weight but I also want to have more energy, and now that I’m over 40 I also want to reduce some of the signs of aging I’ve been experiencing.  Over the years my weight has gone up and down.  Getting my weight down always takes a significant effort and yet it has a habit of creeping back up if I’m not careful.

I’ve noticed that when I’m in a relationship the weight comes on the fastest.  That’s not surprising since my dates like eating out as much as I do and don’t need to be as careful with calories.  This last swing of the pendulum I had gained 30 pounds in about 18 months.  January 1 I decided it was time to make a change (ok, I was on vacation 1/1 so I didn’t actually start until 1/6).

I knew what I was doing wrong.  I know how to eat well but eating out and drinking wine several times a week have been working against me.  The relationship I was in ended shortly after I returned from vacation so it was the perfect time to make some changes.  Here’s my plan:

  1. I track everything I eat plus my exercise in My Fitness Pal (I love this app!)
  2. I use an accountability partner.  My sister and I report to each other each day how many calories we are under.
  3. I include my friends.  I told them what I was doing and asked that they support me by scheduling active things together instead of eating/drinking.
  4. I eat before I go out (unless I know there’s something healthy on the menu I want) when I go to eating/drinking events (which I do several times a month with different social groups), and I treat myself to a diet soda instead of alcohol (until now I almost never ordered soda out).  When people ask why I’m not drinking I tell them that it’s just for tonight.
  5. I include my kids.  It had been a long time since I’d gotten my kids out on their bikes, even though bike riding is something I love to do.  I’m now looking for fun places they will enjoy riding and have promised to buy them better bikes if they will come riding with me.
  6. I take time for myself.  Now that my kids are older (11 and 13) they can stay home alone for an hour or two.  I joined a gym and although I don’t go often I have found that I really enjoy the 8 am yoga class that’s scheduled on Saturday mornings.  It’s early enough that the kids are still kind of waking up and late enough that it doesn’t feel like I’m getting up for work.
  7. I add exercise whenever I can.  I walk at lunchtime which burns an extra couple hundred calories.  When I take the kids to the park I walk laps around wherever they are playing or play with them (if they’ll let me!).

My goal is to make these changes into habits.  I don’t want my weight to swing back up once I get to my goal.  I’m not on a diet.  I’m making changes to the way I live and I feel like I can stick to it, even as a busy single mom with so many other priorities.

I’ve lost 20 pounds in 2 months so this is definitely working!

Photo by Timothy Lamm on Unsplash

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

Mending the Pieces of a Broken Quartet

I have always been very close to my niece and nephew who are now 17 and (almost) 20 respectively. Or maybe I should say I used to be close to my niece and nephew. I give their mother full credit for raising them, but I have definitely had my influence over the years.

When my nephew was born I saw him every day. I could walk to my sister’s house so it was easy. He was inquisitive, bright and happy. I loved him like he was my own, and I say that even after having two children of my own. I fondly remember washing off the birthday cake from his first birthday party, chasing him around the kitchen, bringing him camping with a bunch of girls and watching him play video games until my eyes glazed over. He was quirky, lining up presents from his Christmas stocking before opening them up even at the age of 2 (who does that???), but his quirks made him all the more special.

When my niece was born I was actually living with my sister. My (now ex) husband and I were saving to buy our first house. He was gone a lot of the time as a new pilot so it made sense. I helped my sister and her (now ex) husband with the baby when she was born. She was playful, cuddly and stubborn. She held a special piece of my heart and against my sister’s wishes I would sometimes rock her to sleep just because I enjoyed the connection with her. My fondest memories with her include visiting the animals at the Friendly Farm, watching her smear dirt all over her face and laughing until it hurt. She reminded me to have fun and be carefree (at least once in a while).

When my girls were born the four of them naturally became very close. Even my nephew, the token boy at any gathering, found ways to connect with his little cousins, chasing them around, tickling them when he caught them, the group of them dissolving in to a pile of laughing, flailing limbs. The summer of 2010 I wasn’t working and I took the four kids everywhere. We would spend days camping, just me with the four of them. We’d play games and tell stories. We went for bike rides and swam in the lake. We played at the playground and visited amusement parks.

We were close.

Until I took my kids and moved them to Florida.

Once we moved everything changed. I tried to keep in touch with my niece and nephew via Skype but it wasn’t the same and eventually we all stopped trying. I became caught up in my own life; moving into a new house, taking on a new job, and struggling with my divorce kept me pretty busy. Then dealing with health and emotional problems took my attention. I went up to visit them once or twice a year, but we were no longer close. Things had changed, and not for the better.

It was several years before I started working on repairing this. It’s time I can never get back and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully repair the relationship with my nephew, although I’m trying. He’s basically nocturnal now, not getting up until late afternoon unless he has class, staying up until my day starts. He’s not very interested in telling me about what’s going on in his life but he knows the door is open. I’ve offered to buy him a ticket to Florida any time he wants to come visit (even though he hates the heat). When I’m up in NH I arrange to do something with just him; no one else. He appreciates that effort more than anything. I know he is grateful I’m willing to put what he wants above everyone else, even if it’s just a couple of hours. I’m the only one who does.

My niece has been easier. A couple years ago I brought her down for the summer. I paid her to watch my kids instead of sending them to summer camp. She’s done this for two summers, and my kids feel she is more like a sibling than a cousin now. We all keep in contact with her via text or FaceTime. We are more integrated in her life than in previous years. She will be spending this coming summer with us again, her last before she starts college. She is naturally more communicative than her brother so I’m much more confident that as the years pass we will continue to be part of her life.

Perhaps this matters to me so much because I come from a broken family, not just because my parents got divorced but because I have no contact with uncles, aunts and cousins who all used to be part of my life. They just faded into my past, shadowy memories from my childhood and nothing more. I don’t want that to be how this story ends. I want to mend this quartet and rebuild this connection. I’m going to text them right now actually. There’s no reason not to tell them I’m thinking of them. I’m going to do it…right now.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Quartet

A Dedication

I found this especially touching. ❤️

Objects, and the Distance Between Them

Note: This piece is intended to be read as spoken word. I actually did something very significant for me in that I read it out loud at my first open mic night several nights ago…

I was not planning to post this, as I usually only post “fresh” content, but I was inspired by a fellow writer, Kaurv (http://kaurv.wordpress.com), and a lovely reading of Mary Elizabeth Fry’s Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep that Kaurv had posted as a video (https://wp.me/p7F0ar-M).

So, here is “A dedication”.

This was originally dedicated to “anyone who could use a reminder of who they are – who may have been told something different along the way, or simply lost track and could use a little help getting back”.

In this case, though, it is dedicated to anyone out there who has reached out and taken firm hold of their life and their…

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Bravely Living an Amazing Life!