Gratitude In The Small Places!

Loving Guidance dba as Conscious Discipline  asked their Certified Instructors to make a poster writing a personal gratitude for Thanksgiving with a photo! I immediately went into thinking of all the platitudes that my friends and colleagues would write; all the usual suspects! Right? Family, friends, food, blah, blah, blah! I missed the deadline to send in my photo and poster because I was just stuck in the story of what everyone else had and judging them for not being grateful; not really giving thanks for what they had in their life! I was stuck in all the wrong places! It took me some time to get out of that place. However, it took living in that place to find my way out. Let’s face it. If I had met the deadline that poster would have been full of snarky remarks! Thankfully I was able to find the pause button and find my way out! 

Living in isolation during a Pandemic brings its own set of rules. Living in a Pandemic brings its own set of insights! Since Michael’s death I learned how to do Thanksgiving on my own. It hasn’t been easy but Bailey and I know how to do it and we always find our way but this pandemic has brought an entire set of eyes of what to focus on in my everyday life.

Bailey looking her best!

So I’ve named this Thanksgiving; Gratitude In The Small Places! 
Here’ my list!

  • Becoming conscious of the amount of toilet paper I use! I can even give myself permission to use more if needed! 
  • Establishing a daily walking routine! 3 miles everyday!
  • Learning how to sip wine. It lasts longer and I can enjoy it longer.
  • Learning to manage financially each week on fumes. Did you know that Verizon has a lovely plan where you can promise to pay them an amount and day I choose? The electrical company has been kind when I call. They even restored my power within 3 hours so that I could successfully do a Virtual Training!
  • Making my bed everyday!
  • Learning to really and truly trust myself.
  • Leaving my kitchen clean every night!
  • Learning to shower and not do my hair. That saves on hair product! 
  • Figuring out how to be an extrovert in the pandemic introvert world!
  • Getting my hit of joy juice as I walk Bailey and greet other folks while being physically distanced! 
  • Getting more joy juice from waving to folks in their cars! Maybe it’s an Island kind of thing. 
  • A Zoom Birthday Party for my grandson that turned 6 in November; a small amount of time given to me by my Certified Instructor friends, a High School friend and Virginia friends from my earlier career.
  • Joining a Scottie Facebook private page that values our love of Scotties. They are located all over the world and help in crisis and send condolences when their fur baby crosses the Rainbow Bridge.
Just the beginning of the Scottie Christmas cards!
  • So Bailey and I went out for our daily walk before I posted this blog. We happened upon two Moms and a kid on his bike. They were stopped at THE TREE. Bailey and I noticed this tree when we first started walking back in August. There is a hole at the base of the tree. In that hole was a gnome. It was always a favorite place to stop and just notice and wonder about the story. One day the gnome was gone and there was a note posted to the tree. It was a notice of reward for whoever had kidnapped the gnome. A reward would be awarded and there was a website. Within days the gnome had been returned. Over the weeks, the treasures have multiplied. So here’s the story from the Moms! This is a neighborhood game by the children and this has been a real support to these children in this neighborhood. We exchanged stories and I shared that this tree has brought some joy to me as I walk each day. They had no idea.
Here’s THE TREE!

I began to wonder what my intention was to post this blog as Bailey and I walked this morning. I know that it is not to garner pity. I’m not that kind of girl. Ask my friends! I do want folks to widen their lens during this historic times.

So where’s the sweet spot in Finding Gratitude in the Small Places? Having my Conscious Discipline Family that nudges me to find myself in the midst of this historic time. Here’s the video; Collective Gratitude From the Conscious Discipline Global Family that inspired this blog. Just imagine how you can find your sweet spot. Comment below with your sweet spots for this Thanksgiving!

Some of my Conscious Discipline Family!

Veterans Day 2020

It’s Veteran’s Day! In my family this day is known as my Mom’s birthday. 

My Mom had this unusual story that she told me of her uncle dying in France during WWI and how she “peeked” into his coffin when his body was brought home. She had to stand on her toes to gaze in and she was amazed that she didn’t get caught. I think she mentioned that horses drew the coffin to the graveside. He was killed at Verdun on October 15, 1918. My Mom would have been 5 years old.

From the History Web site: 

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day.

That’s sort of cool with all the elevens.

That story stayed in my back pocket for all of my life. I got really lucky when a cousin of mine reached out to me and gave me letters written to my Grandmother and the family from John L after he arrived in France. So I schemed up this idea with JWF to go to Verdun and pay our respects and gratitude for giving his life for our wonderful country.

JWF and I had lots of fun planning the first leg of our trip flying from Dulles into Charles De Gaulle Airport and then hopping on a train to Metz. It was a long trip and yet so worth it. I carried my Grandmother and all her sisters with me in my heart on this trip. They adored their little brother.

JWF and I have arrived in Metz! June 2002

The first leg of our journey is to Verdun by way of Metz! I had very little knowledge about this battle.

JWF wanted to use public transportation. The World Cup was also being played on this day with France in play! What an adventure just getting to Verdun!

I had a photo of John L.’s  tombstone with me; that’s what my family called him. I also brought two letters that he had written to my grandmother and other sisters and a newspaper announcement of his death and how he had died. JWF and I took the time to read these while in this sacred space of earth. Thank you Uncle John L.

John L Windham’s grave in Homewood, MS. I took this photo when I went researching family history.
John L wrote his Aunt Edna, my Grandmother after arriving in France.
Aunt Lois was one of my Grandmother’s younger sisters! This is from the Scott County News in Morton, MS.

I had no idea of the horror of WWI! No idea!

From Wikipedia: 

During the 300 days of the Battle of Verdun (21 February 1916 – 19 December 1916) approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battle became known in German as Die Hölle von Verdun (English: The Hell of Verdun), or in French as L’Enfer de Verdun, and was conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers (7.7 sq mi)

The ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of both French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. Through small outside windows, the skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants of both nations can be seen filling up alcoves at the lower edge of the building. On the inside of the ossuary building, the ceiling and walls are partly covered by plaques bearing names of French soldiers who died during the Battle of Verdun.

Douaumont Ossuary is a memorial containing the skeletal remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun. It contains the bones of 130,000 unidentified soldiers.

There were 6 towns that were literally obliterated; they are gone! The forest is gone. It was like it had just happened and yet it had been 86 years. The forest was gone and no growth. 86 years and nothing was growing back. We took a tour bus; she spoke French! I’m amazed that I was able to understand the enormity and the horrors of this war. 

I love post cards. Here’s one to my Mom. John L was her uncle.

I think of all the young men that died during this war and how it literally changed the communities after the war ended. Changed forever and ever. 

So where’s the sweet spot? It’s about the importance of parents sharing family stories. You never know where it will lead. This one small story to me expanded my journey to find his grave, interview my cousins that lived near my aunts. I loved finding his tombstone with his photo. That was a bonus for me. I loved sitting in their living rooms in Homewood, Mississippi listening to even more stories and sipping sweet tea. And then, wait for it, I get to pass down that one story to my youngest son and take the journey of where John L gave his life for our country. Sweet! Yes, very sweet indeed!

Election Day 2020

It’s Election Day 2020! I’m breathing! Voting is important; especially this year!

I’m a history junkie and and a fanatic regarding politics. I’ve been this way since I was about 9 years old. I vividly remember the presidential election of 1960. My 9 year old memories are of two things; JFK is Catholic and the chatter about JFK’s good looks! I always thought the chatter around the Catholic issue odd, even as an 9 year old. Folks were sure that if JFK were elected that the Pope would essentially be the President. Again, I thought this odd. 

This is a book that I have kept safe since 1960!
I remember reading this over and over again!

Growing up my Mom and Dad voted. I don’t remember going to the polls to vote with them. My parents weren’t overt in speaking about politics. My memory is vague but I believe that my vote matters was instilled in my DNA at a young age. 

So fast forward to going to College, University of Mississippi. I grew up in the time of Civil Rights and Vietnam. You had to be 21 years old to vote during this time. Yes, you could be drafted to serve in one of the armed forces at 18 years old and yet you couldn’t vote. You had to be 21 years old. This was changed on June 22, 1970. I was a rising sophomore at Ole Miss. I immediately began to calculate when I could vote for the first time; 1972. I could wait two more years! 

So vote I did on November 7, 1972 for George McGovern. Nixon won in a landslide. I still remember that sad feeling. It took until November 2, 1976 for me to feel that exhilaration that Jimmy Carter won that election. I took JJ with me. He was two years old. Taking my sons became a ritual with me as did crying during the voting process. I called JWF to verify my memory. “Yes Mom. You always cried as you were voting.” 

So fast forward to 2004. I am beginning a new chapter in my life by moving to Charleston, SC. Someone at the school where I had worked for 19 years gave me a fabulous book; Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. I read it and was shocked at my utter ignorance of what women had done on my behalf to vote. It took 72 years of women tirelessly working for women to vote. 72 years! It began in Seneca Falls in 1848. In the end, women would be jailed, beaten and force fed. Read that again. Where was this taught in my history class? It wasn’t!

Totally LOVE this book!

I asked a friend the other day if women’s right to vote was taught in her High School history classes. She is 10 years younger than I. No, she wasn’t taught this. I can only remember photos of women in white. I remember feeling betrayed and mad after reading this book. And then I began to think about the young women of today. Sometimes I wonder if they take their freedom for granted. Ruth Bader Ginsberg paved the way for us. We’ve got to do better and tell our stories.

So today I voted. I believe this is the most important vote that I have ever cast in my 48 years of voting. Thank you to the thousands of women that worked tirelessly and never were able to cast their vote. May we never forget how we got here. 

And there’s the sweet spot! Living in the midst of history! Recording our stories! Yes, I cried while voting. My right hand was shaking! That one was new!

And I end with this. . .my Mother’s mother was born on October 19, 1888. In 1920 she would have been 32 years old. I wonder if she voted? I am going to make it up to be yes! Sure wish I could talk to her right now!

Who Knew It Would Be A Full Time Job

May 1, 2019

I have the ring and I’m getting ready to get ready. I submitted my profile to e-harmony and yet I  have no idea of what to expect. 

The first day e-haromony sent me a number of men that scored high to being compatible to me. I click over and then read their answers to the questions that e-harmony encourages you to answer. At first it was just plain fun imagining. And then It quickly became a full time job. Every morning I had to get people off of my island because I was getting smiles from men that didn’t even remotely interest me. I hadn’t anticipated this but I had to quickly find out about my deal breakers. It was an easy list to put together. Here it is. You are off the island if you: 

❤️ Smoke
❤️ If you don’t drink
❤️ Are a religious fanatic

There were men that wanted a “god fearing woman.” I’m not kidding. 

Off The Island

Here are a few observations from the first day.

  • A lot of men and I mean a lot of men don’t answer the questions. They just write what they want to write. 
  • The other weird thing was a lot of men typed in all caps! So now you are off the island if you typed in all caps. All caps translates to me that the man is screaming. 

In the second week it became apparent that I needed to be assertive, not complacent. I’ve got to be an active participant in this process. How scary and different from the 1960’s dating scene when it was the boy that asked you out. I remember what my intuitive guide said 5 months ago! “It’s going to be a year of self-empowerment, self-nurturing and self-promotion.” So I would again, get men off the island first and then figure out if I would send anyone a “smile.” I would literally hold my breath, close my eyes and hit the “smile” button. 

The Men

On and on this went. A man from NC answered my smile and then immediately sent me a question. E-harmony provides you with questions that you can send someone. I answered the question and then asked him how he would answer but then there was another question from him. This went on with five questions with no answers from him. He’s off the island just like that. I don’t like the Spanish Inquisition. 

Then there was the guy from Wisconsin. I seriously had to think about the snow and cold but what the hell. He went to Stanford and Harvard. Looks like he is crazy smart. He would ask me a question and I would answer it in a timely manner. I would ask him a question and it would take him 5 days to answer. I am not exaggerating. I’ve yet to hear his answer and that was back in May 2019. 

I’ve gotten adept at this full time job. I would literally wake up in the morning, reach for my phone and get men off the island and then send a smile or two and then get my coffee. I do regret that I didn’t keep track of how many smiles I sent out between May 1 and June 8. My hunch it was probably somewhere around 10, maybe more! I rarely heard from anyone. I quickly learned not to take it personally and believe that the universe was taking care of me. The perfect man is out there for me. Just do your job!

Where’s the sweet spot for me?

The answer to this question was elusive for a few days and then it just hit me one morning. I love music and this song is just so much fun and it is the perfect sweet spot. It’s Raining Men

It’s raining men, hallelujah,
It’s raining men, amen
I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet
It’s raining men, hallelujah
It’s raining men, every specimen
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean
God bless mother nature, she’s a single woman too
She took off to heaven and she did what she had to do
She taught every angel she rearranged the sky
So that each and every woman could find her perfect guy!

Where’s Your Sweet Spot?

Where’s your sweet spot when you’re clear about what you want to achieve and it seems to be taking forever? How do you keep yourself going forward? How do you keep yourself sane? Describe your sweet spot. As always I look for your comments below. Did you know that you comment? Just scroll down and find the comment box.

Getting Ready To Get Ready

I wrote this phrase back on April 11, 2019 in Beaufort, SC and thought it a fitting title for this post. “I’m getting ready to get ready.” I listen to Abraham Hicks on YouTube and have read her books so I want to give her credit for this phrase that she uses a lot; getting ready to get ready. It has always resonated with me and especially during this moment in my life. So read on. . . . let’s back up in time!

January 1, 2019 

The holidays are behind me! I’ve set aside this day to think, reflect and make a plan for this new year. I have my new ring and the energy is literally changing. I can feel it. 

I made an appointment to speak with my intuitive guide, Christen McCormack for January 1. I’m ready with my questions for our hour together. The first thing she said was “I see you as a Phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s going to be a year of self-empowerment, self-nurturing and self-promotion.” She also indicated that it was a year to express myself without censoring. It’s a year to leave karma behind me. It’s the year to say, “enough is enough.”

I had spoken to her in October 2018 and asked if there would be another love? She said, “yes.” I’m elated and I am ready to get ready so I asked her in January if I need to sign up for online dating because I’m not making any connections out there! I’m ready to get ready but nothing is happening!

January 19, 2019

I had a Reiki session, my first. My throat chakra was blocked. He cleared that block and encouraged me to to find my voice and speak my truth. So interesting how he collected my negative energy and deposited into a bowl of water. 

I’m sensing a theme of finding my voice, are you? Finding my voice leads to a sense of empowerment which leads to promoting myself. Yes indeed there’s a theme!

Now I have to insert here that my Mom is in my ear and she’s saying some stuff like this: 

“You’re getting too big for your britches young lady.”
“Who do you think you are, the Queen of England?”

You know the drill don’t you? I’m wondering what your Mom said to you in moments like this?

From My Journal

February 9, 2019

“You get what you think about! Yikes! So it’s imperative to be clear about what I am going to attract into my life? Looking forward to being in a relationship—practice feeling good—the balance—being with someone that I can be me without asking for forgiveness—-and that he can be that also. Feeling like you have come home. A mirror.” 

So I began a list, a detailed list of what I want in a man. That list is in the back of my journal because it’s a running list. You know what I mean don’t you? My calendar is full with me flying to present workshops, staying in hotels and I have to keep my journal close just in case I think of something. It’s deliberate and intentional.
I’m getting ready to get ready.

Here’s the list.

Is good looking.
Values his health
Values self-reflection
Is educated
Enjoys all different kinds of music
Likes to dance
Likes Bailey
Bailey likes him
Is curious
Values independence
Values interdependence

Christmas Bailey
Bailey looking her best!

March 5, 2019

I had lunch with a colleague for some professional advice and then I ask her about her success with finding someone online. I hit the gold mine with her. Here’s my Cliff notes. Match.com is easy to do a profile. e-harmony takes time. Guys are attracted to Match.com. So I am all about e-harmony  I want to attract a guy that is thoughtful. 

April 28, 2019

“I’m so grateful for waiting to do e-harmony because my energy hasn’t been right. I could have attracted someone that I really didn’t want. So I am free the next few days and my energy is in the right place to attract the perfect match.” 

My Angel cards were Kindness and purpose.

April 30, 2019

It’s Tuesday and it’s time for e-harmony. That’s my priority for this morning. All the signs are present that this is the day. It is a beautiful morning and I am outside with my computer. A song comes on Could It Be I’m Falling In Love? I’m getting ready to get ready. And so I began my profile. It took time to write about me and then what photos to include? Fortunately I had asked a few close friends for adjectives that would describe me. Here’s that list.

Spunky
Sassy in a good way
Kind hearted
Loyal
Willing to take risks
Humorous
Tenacious

My profile is ready. I’ve taken the test. I’ve answered the questions. I’ve carefully chosen photos. All I have to do is hit the submit button. And then scared literally comes to take home in my heart.

Scared Feeling Buddy

All the negative talk in my brain comes out.
“Who is going to be attracted to a 68 year old woman?”
“Who are you kidding Jessica?”
“Get over yourself.”
And then there were these thoughts.
“Why do you want to mess up this lovely life you have created with a man?”
“Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have? Isn’t this good enough?”
“Wasn’t your time with Michael enough? You can’t recreate it again!”
“Aren’t your friends enough?”

I almost didn’t hit the “submit my profile button” and then I remembered my two value words of courage and integrity from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead and in that moment I literally hit the submit button. And just like that I’m out there. 

Where’s the Sweet Spot?

It’s January 8, 2020 as I write. My sweet spot is all of my friends that have encouraged me faithfully to seek out a new relationship. Each of them were honest and candid with me. I could have done it without them but the process would have looked very different and would not have been authentic. So I am indebted to Kim, Susan K, Susan D, Renee, Mandy and of course my Sharon.

Where’s Your Sweet Spot?

So I love ending like this! Where’s your sweet spot when you endeavor a new adventure in your life? Where do you find your strength? What are your road blocks and how do you get over them? As always I love reading your comments and so grateful for each of you.

Moving The Boulder

July 22, 1998

The divorce has been finalized and I find a message on the answering machine that they are engaged; JMF and Doo Dah are getting married. I sat on this piece of information for four days. It’s interesting how memories can be a bit fuzzy after so many years. I thought that I called her on July 22. Thank goodness for my journal. I wrote a lot about my goals and objectives if I were to meet her. I’d forgotten that piece of information. 

My hope was that if I met her my thoughts would shift about her. So here’s the celebration! I’ve not lost myself. I am still the eternal optimist. Never the less it’s important to meet her and get the boulder out of the way so that I can continue to heal. Moving A Boulder

The weekend is just lonely. JJ and T have moved out and JWF is with a friend for the weekend. It’s a gift and a curse. Great to have the house to myself to just be me and yet all three of them provide a great distraction for me. I decide that I would call Doo Dah and that decision loomed in front of me because I couldn’t act on it until Monday.

July 27, 1998

I call Doo Dah. I can’t remember how I knew her phone number. I did know that they worked together. I didn’t sleep the night before. Again, thank you journal for accurate notes. I call her and she is stunned to hear from me. I ask to meet her TODAY. She replies that she will have to call JMF. Sure I say. I will wait for you to call me back. I can remember thinking that she has to get permission from him? I am going to celebrate that I will never have to have a man’s permission to do anything in my life; thank you very much. 

She calls back and we are to meet in Reston at 11 AM. I set the place and time. I quickly call a dear friend, LM, to see if she can be my wing woman. I tell her the details and she agrees that she will be in Williams Sonoma to keep an eye on me to make sure that I am safe. I’m set. I’m ready. 

July 27 11 AM  From My Journal

My knee caps are shaking! How do knee caps shake and then I realize that my entire body is shaking. I then begin to write over and over again. Just let me be me. Let my words be worthy and truly reflect who I am. 

My Best Recollections

And there she is. I remember wondering what she looks like. I have no idea but then I realize, oh, she knows what I look like. That stung. She sits down and there is this HUGE diamond ring on her left hand. It’s so big that it takes my breath away. 

And then it just came out of my mouth. . .something like this after the obligatory thank you for coming: 

Me:  For the life of me I can’t understand how one
woman could do this to another woman; have an affair. 

Doo Dah responds without missing a beat: This is all JMF’s fault.
JMF is the one that started it.

Me: I take a really deep breath; maybe two and respond calmly:
“Well, it takes two to fuck!” 

And there it is. The silence. The ugly truth.
Doo Dah is visibly taken aback.
She has nothing back for me. 

Me:  I wouldn’t wish an affair on my worst enemy
and please believe me,
YOU are my worst enemy. 

There was something else that was said but I cannot remember. 

Me: I stood up and said: “I promise you this.
I will always be cordial to you when we are in public.” 

Then I walked to LM at Williams Sonoma. LM quickly scooped me up and we walked to Clyde’s, one of my favorite restaurants. I went to the bathroom and threw up over and over again until there was nothing left. LM can probably remember this best. I sort of remember a fabulous waitress with a heart of gold that brought me bread. I remember that bread. LM and I sat there and just talked and I told her everything. I couldn’t eat anything except that wonderful bread. 

July 28  Writings From My Journal 

I write about how Doo Dah implies that the entire blame for the affair is on me. Maybe this is the piece that I can’t remember from the meeting? Thankfully and gratefully my brain doesn’t remember thisI I wrote it so she must have said it. Even more gratefully I don’t buy it. I’m just stunned and disappointed. 

July 30

I really need to give myself the time
to feel the pain again. . .yet in a new way.
 Really clean the wound out.
After having time to sort this experience out,
reflect on words and facial expressions.
I’m better able to translate the Monday experience. 

Doo Dah is filled with perceptions about me that are false. Blaming me? This is the hard one and probably the button that got pushed for me when we met. I will readily take responsibility for some things in my marriage but I will never take responsibility for his betrayal. 

I have a second chance at life! 

Where Is the Sweet Spot? 

I believe there are two sweet spots! The first one is that I am beginning to find my voice; speaking my truth to Doo Dah was huge for me and to have such a quick come back! I amazed myself. The other sweet spot was having such a dear friend that would drop everything and surround me with love and just listen to me. 

Where’s Your Sweet Spot

What do you say to a person that has acted in hurtful ways to you and they deny it?
How do you handle yourself with a person that is speaking falsehoods about you? What do you do? What do you say?  I love your comments because it helps all of us. Let’s be the butterfly in search of the sweet spot. Yes, I took this photo in October 2006. 

Butterfly

I Expected Something Different!

My Vision

I thought about this from the very beginning
of the separation and divorce in 1997.
It would be healthy for JJ and JWF if their parents
are cordial and civil; dare I hope for us to be on the same page? 

I remember therapy sessions with SL about this subject. I remember her saying “better to have an ass of a Dad than no Dad at all.” She encouraged me to “push them to their Dad.” Ugh! But I did it. I can’t say that I pulled it off 100% of the time but I gave it my best shot. 

JJ and JWF
JWF’s wedding day in 2007!

The hard years,1997 and 1998

They were so angry at their Dad for the affair. They handled it differently, which was par for the course. Here’s what I didn’t know for many years. JMF wanted my/our sons to meet Doo Dah, over and over again. And over and over again they both drew their boundaries of not meeting her until the divorce was final. Pretty cool. Right? They were so young and so wise at the same time. 

JWF’s college graduation May 2002  

So back to therapy with SL in early 2002! JWF is going to be graduating from James Madison University. JMF and Doo Dah were married in October 1998. I met Doo Dah right after JMF called and left a message that they were getting married. Just Doo Dah and I met in July 1998. That’s another blogfor another day. I had that meeting because I knew that JWF would be graduating one day and I wanted my meeting Doo Dah to be behind me. I wanted his college graduation to be as normal as possible.

So graduation day arrived. We are in Harrisonburg, Virginia; home of James Madison University. My Mom, sister and brother-law are there. JJ is glued to my side protecting me. JMF and Doo Dah are there. It’s going to be my first time to see them together.

There is the main graduation and then parents are escorted to the disciplinary schools on another part of the campus. I can close my eyes now and remember this moment forever. SL had coached me to trust myself when I first see them together. So I walked over to the next graduation, a more intimate graduation site; through a tunnel under Interstate 81. All of a sudden here’s JJ running to me and whispers in my ear, “ Mom, tits up! They are straight ahead.” Boy did I need that! And indeed, I stood up straight with my tits up and hugged Doo Dah!  It was an out of body experience for sure but I was so proud of myself. I was hoping to format our future; that we could all be on the same page for my sons that I grew and birthed. 

Today

So fast forward to the current situation. Remember the cutoff with JJ?  That graduation day seems like light years ago and it seems as though I worked so hard for nothing because I had it wrong for so many, many years. I kept forgetting that it takes two to tango and JMF doesn’t think like me. We’ve never been on the same page; ever! My vision, my hope that we would be on the same page in regards to our sons is just plain disappointing for me. I had it wrong.

And this is me finally facing the truth. I’ve made him up to be someone that he isn’t. 

Now what?

Brené Brown writes in her book Dare To Lead:
“The research participants who demonstrated the most willingness
to rumble with vulnerability and practice courage
tethered their behavior to one of two values, not ten.” 

She gives an entire list of values on page 188. My two values are integrity and courage. These adjectives ring true for me and my journey in life. 

I believe that the Mom and Dad are the leaders in the family; even when divorced. I begin to think about JMF and our oldest son. I wonder if JMF is fearful if he takes a stand with JJ on my behalf that our oldest will cut him out of his life like he has done with me. What would that sound like if he spoke with our son?  It may sound like this, “I think that cutting your Mom out of your life is hurtful, possibly toxic for you. I encourage you to reach out to her. I realize that I can’t make you reach out to her but I think it would be good for everyone.” I did this back in 1997. I told my sons, “This is between me and my husband. He’s your Dad and everyone needs a Dad. So stay connected to him.” It was that simple. Of course they wanted to bad mouth him but I would 95% of the time encourage them to stay connected with their Dad. I am glad that I pushed them to him. I just expected something different from JMF.

Taking a stand for what is good and right is so important to me.

The Sweet Spot

So where is the sweet spot for me in this mess? Owning my feelings and saying them out loud is important; stating my truth as I see it even when it sounds harsh and judgmental. That’s my sweet spot. My intention is not to be judgmental. This cut off is hurtful and unnecessary. I do believe that sometimes cutoffs are necessary in some families. I just encourage you to think long and hard about the consequences if you choose a cutoff. 

What Are Your Thoughts?

Families are interesting for sure! Navigating situations like this can be tricky. What are your two values? Where’s your sweet spot when you find yourself in the midst of a family mess? I found this quote from M. Scott Peck way back in 1997 which helped me because belief me, I lived with a lot of fear. 

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action
in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance
engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future.” 

So I would love to hear your thoughts when there is a cutoff in your family! 

Post Script

Well this is a funny for sure. Click on over to find my thoughts about JWF’s graduation from my Ripple Blog.  I’ve come a long way! And thanks Robyn over at The Robyn’s Bird Nest.  You may want to follow her on her brilliant blog.

The Ring. . . .

It’s October 2018 and I find myself in Arizona. It’s for professional and personal reasons. I had the pleasure of helping at a two day training by Dr. Becky Bailey and then my good friend and colleague, Kim and I went to Sedona for a few days of fun! I’ve been traveling extensively for work; flying all around the country and feeling exhilarated and let’s be truthful. I am a bit exhausted. Kim and Jessica in Phoenix!

Kim and I drove to the Orchards Inn and arrived late at night. It was my first time to be in Sedona. Kim had been previously and loved this Inn! I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark when we arrived. I woke up and opened the curtains and literally gasped. I have never seen anything so spectacular as the glorious red mountains and outcroppings. We made coffee and grabbed blankets to go and sit outside to enjoy the view. 

Sedona

I have looked forward to this time away from work and to be with a friend that I admire and respect. My hope is to recharge and regroup. I’ve been flying all around the country training for months. I have to be honest. I thought I would have met someone organically by now. I mean don’t you love a story that starts with, “we just met at a bar in the airport and then the rest was magic!” Right? Well it wasn’t happening. I’m ready and have been ready to meet someone. I’ve done the hard work of grieving for Michael. Michael would applaud this for sure. 

So there Kim and I are outside drinking coffee in the beauty and I began to speak about how I don’t need a man in my life. Thank you very much but I am self sufficient and I really don’t need a man. I think that I went on with this diatribe for at least 3 minutes. I then came up for air and then Kim calmly responds with one sentence. “Would you like to share your life with someone?” Well f#ck! And this is where the trajectory changed with that one sentence because I answered quite humbly and quietly, “yes!” 

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So we began to talk about the obstacles in meeting someone. The world is a different place. Why is it not happening organically? I asked her about the diamond ring on my left hand. This ring is not an engagement ring but it certainly looks like an engagement ring. The main diamond was my Aunt’s engagement ring. I received her ring after she died and it just means so much to me. But that question hit me hard and the answer. Yes, it looks exactly like an engagement ring. So we quickly make our goal for the day. We are going to find a different ring today. 

What a lovely day we had of wine tasting at Chateau Tumbleweed in Clarkdale, Arizona. 

 

We then drove to Jerome, Arizona. I felt like we were on the movie set of Gunsmoke; real salons! I could close my eyes and imagine gun shoot outs in the wild, wild west! It was just amazing. Kim and I found small places to duck in and have an appetizer and a drink. We found this lovely place, Raku Gallery, that had amazing funky and unique jewelry. I had so much fun trying on rings and closing my eyes to feel if it was the “right ring.” I finally found it and Kim captured the moment of realization. Of course the ring will have to be sized. My new friend from the Gallery called the artist asking if the ring could be sized down that much. He agreed to make a ring just for me. My finger is that small. 

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It took 6 weeks for the ring to arrive. So hooray for me! The first step in my plan is accomplished.

So where’s the sweet spot? Kim is the sweet spot! I treasure our friendship. I value her honesty. I count on her clarity of mind that helped me create a plan that will more than likely help me to find that certain someone. He’s out there. I believe it. Now to the second step in my plan. 

So where’s your sweet spot when you feel stuck in your life? Who do you turn to for inspiration? Who can pull you out of that place? I look forward to your comments.

Hurling Plates!

How do I release such anger; rage? I feel crazy; utterly and totally crazy! 

It’s the summer of 1997; the first summer of dealing with all that is going on in my life!

JMF has moved in with Doo Dah! I vacillate between great sadness and pure anger and rage. Living in ambiguity is exhausting and confusing. Living in suspension is painful. My journal entries account for me hiking to seek some comfort and clarity. I write that “my chest hurts the majority of the time, my heart doesn’t beat normally most of the time and my brain feels fried.” 

I write endlessly about what I want in my life. Here’s one entry!

“So what do I want? I want so much in life. I want passionate kisses. I want joy and laughter. I want to be comfortable. I want to be vulnerable and I want all of these things to be reciprocated.” 

And then July 2, JMF calls to say that he is moving out from Doo Dah’s house. He even cancelled his vacation plans with her. And then the next 10 weeks are a roller coaster. From movies and dinner with JMF to deep worries that I will not be happy if we reunite. He is not well. He is distant. He goes MIA for days. I write endlessly about my doubts. My marriage vows come to haunt me; through sickness and in health? Well f#ck! 

On July 19,1997, I find two phone messages from him. My journal does not recount what the messages are, however my journal notes my great disappointment in his message.

“Saying that I was disappointed would be wrong. I was so mad. Hurling dinner plates off the top of my deck and seeing them explode on impact was of great comfort; a great release.” Please note that it is necessary to scream, “f#ck you as the plate is hurled!”

So the hurling of plates became my “go to” when I needed to release my rage. It was important to note how mad I was during these times. Was I a “two plate mad” or a “five plate mad” kind of day? The summer of 1997 and into the fall was full of rage. I did this so much that JWF comments to me that he won’t mow the lawn anymore. I respond back that the consequence of my actions are that I go out into the yard and clean it all up. It’s quite healing and cathartic. 

Hurling plates off of my deck was my sweet spot. Writing, talking with a friend or taking a walk would not have touched this feeling. I felt helpless and powerless. I was just plain scared that I would be left without financial security for a lifetime. I was plain scared that I would be alone for the rest of my life. Hurling plates released the pain at least for awhile and that is just what I needed. 

What’s your sweet spot when you find yourself enraged: helpless and powerless? I am interested in knowing what you do and covet your responses. 

I Had The Time of My Life!

May 12 marks three years since Mike left this world. It seems like it has been forever. 

I’ve been thinking about this day for a few weeks now and I kept coming back to the songs that give me comfort and make me smile; bring me joy! I’ve listened to them a lot over the past few weeks wondering if I should write something. If yes, then what on earth would I write. I wrote some Last Thoughts for 2018 on January 1. What else do I want to say? And then I listened to the song, I’ve Had the Time Of My Life, by Bill Medley and boom! I knew what I was going to write; I knew exactly what I was going to post because: 

I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt like this before
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you!

Click over to that last link.  I can close my eyes and imagine that is Michael and me dancing.  There was that much magic and chemistry.

So I thought I would share photos of us over the years that we were together; 13 years!  Just enough time. For those of you that don’t know, Michael had a massive stroke on August 26, 2004. He had aphasia and apraxia! He was my hero. So 12 of those 13 years I lived with Michael and his stroke because I had a stroke on that day also.

So fasten your seat belts.  Here comes the memories.

Therapy at The Medical University of South Carolina

Michael was approved to be in an experiment through the Medical University of South Carolina.  Click over to read about it.  He was featured in the Post and Courier.

Michael Loved His Grandchildren

Michael Loved My Grandchildren

Michael and Bailey

We decided that we were ready to get another Scottish Terrier.  Michael was adamant that we had to go and meet all the puppies.  He held each one of the puppies and chose Bailey.

Michael Loved Having Fun

Michael and Me!

Cheers to you Michael!  There is no one compares with you!

So I will end with a Beatles song that is poignant for this day, this moment.  I loved you Michael!

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

Finding the Sweet Spot

So the sweet spot for me is remembering! Remembering all that we had! The sweet spot for me is feeling grateful for all that Michael taught me and gave me. What is your sweet spot concerning the loss of love?