Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shake It Out

One of the strongest women I know sent me these lyrics to Florence and the Machine’s ‘Shake It Out’.

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
'Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It's a fine romance but it's left me so undone
It's always darkest before the dawn

Oh whoa, oh whoa...

And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
'Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me, yeah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reflection on 2012

In thinking about this time 2 years ago, then last year and now this year, I am the luckiest person ever. Life is so much better. It still really hurts but the 'good' is pure. The good was really diluted during my marriage. Now happy is happy. Sad is sad. Sad isn't resentful and happy isn't laced with guilt or longing.

In Brene Brown’s final blog post for the year, she says, “Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger”.

In 2010, I survived. In 2011, I discovered the strength of my resilience. This year, I softened to joy. In 2013, I will hope.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest blog post: Advice for single mom’s (and single women) everywhere

A guest blog post from my dear friend, Mulan. I read this and thought it was applicable to every single woman - practical, solid advice: 

Wanted to tell you that you are a hot commodity. Prime real estate. You are intelligent, kind, thoughtful, beautiful, and funny to name a few. Please don't waste anymore time over the runner. Brush it off as you would a white piece of lint on a black sweater. No need to look deeper into it. You will drive yourself nuts. 

When we breakup, we want them chase us and it hurts when it doesn't happen. Do not sit, ponder or question. View it as a skinned knee, you get back up and keep walking. Stings a little but doesn't kill you. The hardest part in all this is believing in yourself. Knowing your worth and remembering it when a relationship starts to fizzle. If they aren't giving you what you want because of excuse X,Y & Z, let it go. Or even thank them for not wasting anymore of your time. No sense dragging the relationship out when it's a round hole, square peg. 

You are wonderful and if they can't see it, they aren't the one. EVEN if they have 80% of what you are looking for. That isn't enough. We can't teeter in our heads "well he is "X" & "X" but this about him still bugs me. Oh but am I being unreasonable? Unyielding? No one's perfect. Aren't relationships about give and take?? That self questioning will have you settle for less than your worth. 

Go on as many dates as you can. Date as many people at the same time. Do not narrow down the candidates until a decent amount of time has passed. You could wind up putting all your energy into one guy when it could have worked with the other. Men are stupid. (except our dads, who were also probably stupid men in their youth!:) ). 

 I worked with a girl/woman who always had guys calling her and wanting to take her on dates, to lunch etc. She was attractive but no supermodel. Smart but no fancy degree. I finally had to ask her "how do you do it?" (i was lacking some self esteem at the time and had a tinge of envy). She mentioned a book called "the Rules"and that one rule was to end the calls first. It leaves them wanting more. So i picked up a copy and read it for light entertainment. I don't recall everything that book said but it honestly had some interesting points. (Some may also have been odd. it has been years since i read it) I did try the end calls first. And yes (no lie) it did work. (I think in conjunction with keeping calls brief). 

Reading it won't mean you are pathetic, less intelligent or desperate. I viewed it as research. Looking into how other women view the world and dating. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose. If you haven't, make a list of the qualities you would like your significant other to have and stick to it. :). If they are missing a few items on your list, they gotta go. Yes, no one is perfect however it is your goal to find the most perfect person with whom you chose to spend your time. And hopefully they meet 99% of your list! I still have mine somewhere. It's funny. Sadly I needed to state odd items that were deal breakers e.g. no felons, no mama's boys, must have gainful employment... LOL. 

This is your rebirth. The pages ahead in your life are blank allowing you to write your path. Unwind and enjoy and I promise, you will one day be happy. xoxo, Mulan

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mystery Man

I hope that one day mystery man will materialize. The man who likes to eat dinner with Grace and I, who enjoys going for walks with us. Who embraces her and cares about her as someone special to him. Sometimes I scared if I hope for him, it will jinx it. But as a good friend pointed out, if you are clearer and clearer on your vision it is more likely to come into your life. I've never been sure if the intention itself puts out energy that brings the reality towards you or if an intention is so clear that it is like a self-fulfilling prophecy - it takes shape in your life because you are focused on that reality (which works good and bad but in this case, good). Better to hope and move forward than not hope and get stuck. I was reading about how hope and fear are two sides of the same coin with the point being to hope without expectations. I hope mystery man appears. But I don't expect him too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"If it's meant to be"

“If it’s meant to be...” is by far, my least favorite saying. I am not a fatalist, I do not believe that anything in life is predetermined for us. I think life is what you make of it; how you deal with the things that happen that are out of your control. I’m disappointed that The Runner hasn’t come after me. He has expressed his sadness and let me know how much he cared. But he hasn’t made a move to fix it. I started to take this as rejection - if you know the problem and you want to fix it, then just fix it. But I’m realizing it isn't that simple. That implies he can make an yes/no, on/off button type choice. But his fears and his feelings are based deeper inside than a simple shift in perspective can change. So how do things come to life? If it’s not fate, how does ‘meant to be’ actually BE? Humans have a natural tendency to work toward what they want. It is literally part of our human nature. Hungry? Go toward food. Tired? Go to sleep. Things appear to happen as “if it is meant to be, it will be” because if you want it, you take an action to make it happen. And he’s not working to make it happen. I don’t think that means he doesn’t wish it would work but I think that right now it can’t be worked on until other things are worked on first. So the saying “what is meant to be...” interpreted this way tells me that this isn’t right, at least not right now. And every time I want to shake him and tell him to just fix it already, I need to remember, this isn’t right, at least not right now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lesson unfolded - the conclusion

I ended things with The Runner last night. My intention was to ask to him give more, to take a step forward. To give what he gave when we first met - the small reassurances and sweet messages that sent my heart aflutter.  

As the conversation unfolded I realized he was saying the same things as before - doesn’t fit into a ‘family environment’, doesn't’ know if he can give me what I need. And I was asking for the same thing as before - please open up.  So instead of asking for more, I ended it.  He isn’t where I am.  He has been so consumed with his own issues that he forgot to put energy into building a relationship.

He was surprised, he didn’t expect it. I have been giving him so much encouragement lately I can see why, but at the same time, he chose to shut down on me and knowingly didn’t open back up. Did he think I would stick around giving endlessly without receiving anything back?

He felt awful.  I was brutally honest. I told him he was so lucky to have an opportunity to add not 1 special person to his life, but 2 and he viewed it as scary.  He said I deserved better and I said that held no weight for me because he didn’t treat me better. How do you tell someone they are the nicest person you’ve ever dated yet treat them the poorest?

He said he deserved everything I said and that he was hurt but it was all on him.

All I wanted was for him to step up. Do something. Anything. Tell me you want to make it better. Use this as a wake up call. But he resigned himself to this ending without a fight.  That’s what hurt the most.  Why say you don’t want this to end but not do anything about it when it is in your control? Yeah, he screwed up. So fix it!  The fact he didn’t make any overtures to fix it tells me he doesn’t care that much.

I feel naive and downright stupid to have thought there was potential there.  I instantly fell for the guy I met. And then convinced myself it is silly to wait for the other shoe to drop, good things do happen. And then the other shoe dropped. And that guy went away. Replaced by someone who was distant and unyielding.

I wrote him a letter today. I haven’t sent it yet. Partially for closure for myself. Partially for closure for him. Honestly, partially because I want him to come after me.  Stop feeling sorry for himself and do something.  But that isn’t going to happen.  It’s not who he is right now. And this is not what I deserve.  (footnote: I found the courage to end this not because I know I deserve better but because I know Grace does. I would tell her to throw this fish back and find one that makes her happy all of the time. I won’t set an example for her that she nor I are not worthy of better).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lesson unfolding - part 2

I still haven’t heard back from The Runner, so this post does not include the big finale!

I was thinking about the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto. The proclamation of exactly what I want to give to Grace and what I want Grace to have as a result of our relationship.

Here are some points from the manifesto:
- Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions--the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
- I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
- You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
- As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

To these points, I am doing the right thing. Would I want Grace to settle for less than she needs?  Would I tell her she is unreasonable for wanting a relationship in her life that isn’t 50% good and 50% work, but instead 90% good and 10% work? Would I tell her she is not worthy of love because her imperfections are too much?  It is heart-breaking to write these questions because the obvious answer is no. So why then, would I live in such a way that Grace learn from my less-than actions?

It’s time to break my family’s tradition of unworthiness and write a new story (literally, as that’s what I’ve been doing on this blog, isn’t it?)

Lesson unfolding...part 1

I texted The Runner and told him that I would like to know what he’s thinking/feeling. Where his head is at. I can’t tell if I’m a convenience or a positive in his life.  He doesn’t give me any verbal cues. And as a result, I don’t know what his actions mean.  So I’ve been in a state of uncertainty for about a month now and have hit the limit on my tolerance for uncertainty.  I knew this would push me to my limit. I was hoping that would happen after the New Year, but apparently my limit is December 17th.

I’m writing this blog post as this is unfolding. He hasn’t responded yet. And I haven’t yet found clarity as to what I am thinking/feeling right now.

What I know for sure:
I’m not getting enough. I need more positive feedback, I need to know things are ok and that he likes me. (Example: I texted "I miss you" and he said "thank you" - I assume then, that he does not miss me too?)
He is trying with his actions. But without his words, I can’t tell what he is thinking.
Every time I feel giddy with excitement over him, it quickly turns to anxiety because I have no idea if he feels the same about me.

What I’m scared of:
That I’m being unreasonable in saying I’m not getting enough. Maybe his actions should be enough for me to know he really likes me.
That I’m not the type of girl that guys ‘fall for’. The girl that they openly express their interest for. The girl they are excited to spend time with.

What I suspect could be happening - but can’t even think clearly enough to know for sure: 
I need more. But I’m too scared to ask for it. Too scared that I’m being unreasonable. Or that I’ll be alone forever.  I know I need more but I’m not sure that I deserve more.

Dating The Runner has been a great exercise in uncertainty.  But now I’ve hit my limit and need to know where things stand. To know if we are close to or on the same page. To have something to hold on to if things continue to go forward.

Now, perhaps, this lesson is about deserving more. The infamous phrase that every girl says to one another: "you deserve better".  How do I know that’s just not what the girls say to their loser friend to make her feel better (and why do I always cast myself as the loser friend?). How am I supposed to KNOW that I deserve better when right now, I’m really not sure that is the case.  Never have I raised my hand up to someone and said I deserve better. Much less left if I didn’t receive it. I’ve always convinced myself that whatever was given was enough, because if I pushed for more, I’d likely end up with nothing.
Getting less than what I need is resulting in stomach aches and zapping my energy.  Isn’t that a sign something isn’t right? Is this where I learn to stand up for what I deserve? I need to believe it first.

I don’t have a wisdom-filled conclusion for this post because it’s still unfolding. He could write back in a vague and pragmatic fashion, letting me know he isn’t going to give more. Or he could write back with words of reassurance.  But my lesson isn’t in getting the result I hope for. My lesson is asking for what I need.

I think that’s what I’ve done. I think this is good....if it didn’t feel so scary to wait through!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Living as an Uncarved Block

The Runner and I went to Baltimore for the 2 days/1 night away. We both like doing active things and he pace matches mine when I travel (not a lot of time spent staring at a TV in a room!).  He actually hung out the whole weekend, not just the night away. Even Sunday night when Grace returned.
Previously I said I thought that he had stopped pulling back but wasn’t moving forward either. The truth is, he is moving forward in small steps. So that is good.

But there is still something missing. The excitement of the early days of dating someone. I can’t let myself go because I’m always aware he may pull back at any moment. And he already said he doesn’t even know if he can/will let himself go because of past hurt and ‘lifestyle differences’.  So as we were away this weekend I kept assessing the situation to get a feel for ‘is this working for me or not’.  For each point where I think it won’t work, I have a point that makes it worth moving forward.

I’m in the middle. Not having strong enough feelings to go either way. Which reminded me to ‘be a log’ and feel the sadness of lacking the excitement of being together, and then feeling the comfort of being with someone who is so thoughtful and capable that I don’t have to worry about anything.

I was contemplating my non-action as a log and was reminded of what sounded so familiar - the Uncarved block of Taoism. The basis for the philosophy that I try to use as my doctrine when perspective is needed (though I frequently do not put into practice enough, I’m starting to do so more recently).

The Chinese word "Pu" is often translated as "the uncarved block," and refers to a state of pure potential which is the primordial condition of the mind before the arising of experience. The Taoist concept of Pu points to perception without prejudice, i.e. beyond dualistic distinctions such as right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, beautiful/ugly. It is a state of mental unity which places the Taoist practitioner into alignment with the Tao.

The practice of the Uncarved block has become less anxiety provoking and more comfortable. The need to have all of life's answers right now is fading (don’t get me wrong, the ‘need’ is fading but I still would really like to have everything tied it a nice little bow!).  I don’t know if I’ll get married again or even find the right person, but I’m still growing and still taking advantage of every opportunity to live life to it’s fullest - and that is enough. Being in a state of potential rather than expectation.  A state of experience rather than disappointment or elation. 

Ps - Happy 4,000 view of this blog!  The comments and support provided by everyone as results from this blog have been wonderful. Something I am grateful for each day.  Please feel free to comment or share your experiences on the blog too!

Friday, December 7, 2012


Yesterday was S-day - 2 years to date when I kicked my ex out of the house after he informed me he had no intention of working on the marriage nor ending his affair.  I made it all day without crying until I found out my cousin got engaged. I’m very happy for her, her finace is a virtual dog whisperer so I’m hoping he’ll whip my dog into shape.  But at the same time, it feels like the universe has a funny way of twisting the knife just a little bit more every time the pain starts to ease - a constant reminder that I missed out on my happy ending and now am in a permanent life-limbo.

And of course, when thinking about my life-limbo, I think about the current situation with The Runner. Dating someone who hasn’t even asked me to hang out tonight, even though it is Friday. We do have plans to go out of town tomorrow but I can’t remember the last time he asked me to spontaneously hang out.  And 90% of my invitations are met with rejections for a variety of reasons (work, tired, hanging out with roommates).  So although The Runner has stopped moving backward, he never really started moving forward.  Maybe this is what it means to take baby steps and take things slowly, but it is hard to go from something that was more to something that is less....and then stay in that holding pattern.  It is hard not to think ‘I want to be with someone who wants to be with me’, when currently I feel like I’m on a scheduled visitation, not spontaneous ‘I can’t wait to see you’. And most definitely never ‘I miss you’ when we aren’t hanging out.

So although I made it through most of s-day unscathed, I’m feeling down in the dumps today.  I’ll shake it off for our out-of-town adventure tomorrow but it is hard not to blurt out ‘what is going on here?’ since I said I’d give it 6 weeks to find out.  I sincerely hope this ‘giving someone space’ thing pays off because mainly it just makes me feel somewhere between not-very-important to a downright convenience.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday spirit spree

What a fantastic weekend. Start to finish - it was enjoyable, and despite lack of downtime, still relaxing!! Friday evening I had date night with the Runner which consisted of dinner and drinks at a few places in the city.  Saturday we made plans to go to brunch and then run some errands (to his favorite hardware store which happens to be next to Dollar elusive destination which I was happy to find not-to-far away).  By Saturday morning, the general feeling with The Runner was so content that I took a leap of faith and invited him to see Christmas lights with Grace and I Saturday evening, to which he immediately responded “that sounds good”. I was literally bouncing with excitement!

We spent the day together as planned and when Grace arrived home from her father’s, we took her to see the mecca of all Christmas lights in the Philadelphia region, Longwood Gardens. After a 45 minute drive, I was shocked to see they implemented timed entrances since I had last visited and were sold out until 7:30pm!  Despite my pleas to the unbending woman at the ticket counter, we were not admitted (feel free to cross-reference my pending review on tripadvisor about the abundance of Christmas lights, yet lack of Christmas spirit that Longwood Gardens has to offer). Not to worry, The Runner said he knew of a house nearby that lights up their entire yard and invites visitors to walk through. So we drove a bit more and came upon a winter wonderland that was a perfect fit for a 2 year old. Grace sprinted across the grounds in a whirl, giggling with glee. The Runner even offered to watch her for a bit so I could soak in some of the lighted details that I didn’t have time to see as I was chasing after her.  

On Sunday morning we parted ways and Grace and I went with Hot Hair Momma and her two girls into Philadelphia on a grand tour of Christmas displays - the Wanamaker building light show, a horse-drawn carriage ride, and the Comcast building light show.  What a perfect day!  

Weekend takeaways:  The Runner has been really making an effort to get to know Grace and to be a part of my life.  I still don’t know where things stand or if this is becoming a positive, rather than anxiety-provoking, experience for him, but it is great to see him make the effort. (and between you & I, he is doing the little things with her, like proactively playing silly games, that people do when they enjoy a child’s company :)

Also, Grace and I have checked the box on almost every Christmas experience one can have - all by December 2nd. Going into the city with Hot Hair Momma and her girls was a fantastic experience, as not once the entire day did I miss the feeling of not having a traditional “family” and instead basked in the glow of our kids making Christmas memories.

In the few times that I started to panic or have negative thoughts, I continually told myself to “be the log” (see previous post) and breathed through the sweeping emotions that have been rolling in steadily since Thanksgiving....and much to my surprise, waves of joy started rolling in amidst the other feelings, bringing a much-missed warm and contentment.