Monday, December 29, 2014

It's time for a new plan

I need a new plan. Whatever has been happening the last four years isn't working. I end up exhausted and in the same dark place.  There are definitely times where I see joy in every corner and then there are times I can't find hope no matter how hard I look. This is one of those times.

I was already sliding into a bad place starting a few weeks ago, then after a blowout with my mom I felt really depressed over Christmas. Very disconnected and alone (although I think Christmas can leave people feeling that way even under normal circumstances.)  I squinted as hard as I could and just couldn't find hope anywhere.  Then a good friend told me "the hope is for forgiveness....the hope is for finding joy in each moment" and I thought "yeah, I can hope for that!!"

After Christmas, my ex took Grace to his parents house for a 48 hour visit.  When they arrived home today, he emailed me to say he also took his girlfriend.  Record scratch - what?!? You took my daughter on an overnight trip with some girl I didn't even know existed?

Here are the details: She is 25 (he is 35) and they slept in the same bed. When Grace asked why they slept in the same bed, her father responded "because there weren't enough beds so we had to share one". I guess it didn't occur to him to share a bed with Grace and not the girlfriend.

During the time Grace was gone, I had a date scheduled with a Yale MBA candidate. After emailing for an entire month, we set a date and he texted "looking forward to tomorrow!".  On the day of, I emailed to let him know what time I would be free and never heard back. I tried again a few hours later, no reply.  He just disappeared.  What kind of person could be so thoughtless?

Bring on the full-on-second-momma-sized-meltdown last night.  Aching for Grace, feeling like possibly the world's biggest loser, I deleted Tinder, called my Dad for help on how to move forward from here.

I am going to spend my new year's eve at home, with Grace. And when she goes to bed, I will spend the evening writing out my plan - how I'm going to take care of myself and of Grace and our dog - and let everything else fall away.  Only us, only joy for 2015.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas thoughts ala David Sedaris style

Well, it's Christmas time again. As I observe all of the merriment and cheer, I wonder how much an airline ticket out of here might cost :)  I walk around contemplating the guys that treated me like I didn't matter and wondering if my mom even likes me.  How did I go from being so overwhelmingly thankful at Thanksgiving to feeling so blue at Christmas. I blame the merriment....and facebook.

Back on December 1, Christmas seemed like such a great idea. I couldn't listen to enough carols and took great care to buy gifts that would bring unlimited amounts of cheer to my loved ones. I over-splurged on my daughter again, but why should she have a sparse Christmas when she can be inundated by every form of toy a child could possibly own?

Three weeks later my ears start to twitch when more Christmas music comes on and I'm wishing someone would leave me alone with a pile of chocolate chip cookies and presents...along with a bottle of champagne.

Don't get my wrong, I will love watching my daughter open her presents and relish in her new found treasures. And, I love the way her eyes light up when she sees her family (she's still young enough that her eyes light up when she sees family, give it another 10 years and her eyes will be glazed over with teenage angst from family events).

Perhaps that best part of Christmas is my dog. More than any human, he loves unwrapping presents. But the brilliant thing about him is that he doesn't care what's inside, he just wants to unwrap. This year I think I'll wrap up a nice, new, empty box for him. I'll use extra paper to really get him excited.

I would hope for next year to get better but that seems like the old trick of setting expectations too high so I will hope instead that my ticker keeps ticking and my daughter keeps smiling and that will be enough for me.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Rest Period

It's been 4 years....4 years of putting myself out there and 4 years of taking hits that no individual deserves. The way that girls and guys are treat each other like people are disposable is really disheartening. 

So going into the New Year, it is time that I take care of myself.  Even prize fighters take some time to heal from the hits they sustain on a regular basis.

People say that when you stop trying, that's when you meet someone. But that isn't true, life doesn't just hand you what you want because you close your eyes and wish for it. You have to try.  But I don't think that 'stop trying' is what people mean, I think they mean 'when you stop looking' - the definition of which is stop looking for someone to be your answer, to make your life better, to make you complete. When you realize that a companion is a nice-to-have and not a must-have in your life, that is when you are ready to meet someone and that seems to be when they appear.

I thought I was close to being at that place. But the truth is, I worry that if I let someone see me, they will see what a mess life has been and how scared I still am.  So I have a wall up to prevent anyone from coming too close.

That is a pretty clear sign that I need a rest period. So going into 2015, it will be a time to take care of myself.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Single-Girl Shiner & A Momma-Sized Meltdown

The last week was painful!  Talk about a "Single-Girl Shiner", 2 Tinder dates left me with a virtual black eye. The first texted me for an entire month. Every day, usually frequently. We finally made plans to meet up last Tuesday, but then I didn't hear from him after Sunday. I arranged for someone to watch Grace & all - and he just never got in touch again!

Then I was emailing with what seemed to be a lovely guy who is a couple hours away in grad school but who's family lives about 15 mins from me. He already asked to meet for a drink when we came home on Christmas break. When I finally did my Google-due-dillegence on him, I turned up a girl on Facebook who has a profile picture of the 2 of them & her status says she is engaged to him!  I asked him if he was engaged and he said he was and it didn't work out but it wasn't that long ago. Her profile pic was from 2 weeks ago!  Ouch!!!

Taking hits on the personal side combined with 9 days straight of Grace meltdowns, tantrums and constant stream of demands (even when I'm doing one thing for me, she's crying for me to do something else for her at the same time!) - I finally had my own momma-sized meltdown. I curled up in my bed, in my same on shame-filled ball, and cried and cried. I informed my own mother that I would understand if she wanted nothing further to do with me since I've been on my own for 4 years and still unable to pull it altogether.

I had to go to a meeting on the Rwanda trip an hour later where I confided in a friend who is going that I felt like I was falling apart and failing as a mom and she said - welcome to being a mom, everyone does!  She validated all of my stress, frustration and fears and said it was ok.  What a relief - as Anne Lamott said - to hear those healing words of "me too".  One of the other moms there told me she thinks I'm one of the most together people she knows -- I felt bad for misleading her :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Season of Hope

My 'Dark Day' passed on December 6th. This was the day that my ex informed me he was going to continue his relationship with his girlfriend was not going to work on the marriage. This was the same night I kicked him out of the house for good.  As the story goes, I woke up the next morning sick as a dog from some type of physical reaction that my body had to the marriage split & my best friend came over and literally saved my life until my mom could come and help take care of Grace and I for the next few weeks. That story normally moves me to tears. I still repeat it because part of me can't believe it really happened. And every year around this time as I relieve the days leading up to the marriage ending (all 3 days notice that I had), I am usually pretty emotional and a little blue.

This year - I felt nothing!  I had a perfectly lovely say on December 6 and although it crossed my mind that it was my Dark Day, I didn't feel dark at all! 

Advent is called the season of hope. I used to think that a marriage ending with a newborn involved right before Christmas was just cruel punishment. Now I look at the timing as maybe more meaningful - the end of my marriage gave me hope for a new, better life.  A life lived out of love, not fear. Surrounded by support, not criticism.  Confidence replacing where shame once lived.

Cheer to enjoying the season of hope!

Thursday, December 4, 2014 last!

So lately I’ve been tearing up at random, unexpected times.  Little things pull at my heart strings and trigger emotion.  I knew something was sitting right under the surface but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve felt lighter and better overall, so why was all of this emotion bubbling up to the surface?

It turns out - I’m grieving!  Apparently you have to get to a safe enough place to grieve. The increasing lightness inside has made room to grieve and, in turn, grieving creates more space for lightness.

I’m so happy to be grieving!  Each time something is triggered and I tear up, I can feel a piece of my grief break off and release. There is more space after.  I’ve wanted to let go so badly but it wasn’t happening - and it turns out grieving is how we let go. And as a culture, we try to do anything to prevent grief - but that’s the key to moving forward.  Piece by piece breaking off and being released.  Piece by piece….

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WHAT? Next!

Last week I went out with yet another college professor. This time a PhD in behavioral analytics. After we finished arguing over determinism vs. free will (I, of course, believe in free will - afterall, where is the fun if you don’t get to chose who you are from one moment to the next?) - he told me that while in school he learned to shoot a gun. No big deal, I thught, I’m from the countryside and shooting is a pasttime of many.

Then he told me that he carries a gun when he feels he is in an unsafe area - record scratch WHAT!?  I can’t date someone who carries a gun! I don’t want that around me or my daughter.


Monday, December 1, 2014


Today my team at work & I served lunch at a soup kitchen in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.  We prepped (read: chopped 50 pounds of onion and them some..) and served lunch between 11:30am and 1:30pm.

Now I am someone who is used to snacking all day.  By the time noon rolls around, I’ve mentally checked out of whatever I’m doing and am only thinking about where I will get lunch from and what it will include.

Here is a wake up call: serve lunch to those who are perpetually hungry...while you are hungry yourself. The same people you walk by on the street and don’t interact with, the ones you feel pity for in your stomach but feel helpless to actually help - those are the people we served today. And I don’t mean served ala buffet serving line, I mean they sat down and we served them a three course meal and beverages and gave them supplies to wrap up any leftovers they may not have finished.

I get panicky if I don’t eat when I’m hungry - and I put my needs first, I stop whatever I’m doing and find at least a snack, if not a full meal. These people live day to day, hour to hour wondering where their next meal will come from - because no one is putting their needs first. It felt good to give them the attention and respect that they deserve. And in return, they were significantly more polite and respectful than any shopper in line at a store on black friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why It’s Ok to Have a Crazy Girl Quota

If you have to endure the trials, tribulations and insane emotional rollercoaster of online dating then you are entitled to a ‘crazy girl quota’ - i.e. a certain amount of actions that guys may view as crazy that you are allotted for the year.  I believe this amount is equal to two mildly crazy actions per six-month time period. The reason this crazy quota is acceptable is because dating will actually drive you crazy, and occasionally you will need to get it out of your system.

For example, I texted The Soccer Player last night.  Why would I text this Weak A** Man, you ask? Well for the last month I have felt shame and humiliation for buying what he was selling. He was practically interviewing to be a boyfriend and moving things faster that I was comfortable with - but in trying to be a cool girl, I went along with it.

Here’s what happens when you try to be a cool girl and go along with something you aren’t comfortable with: it makes you crazy!

So I sent him a long-winded text in a not-so-veiled attempt to find out if anything he said was real or if I bought into yet another emotional con artist - and he didn’t write back.  Was one text enough to get the crazy out of my system? Nope! I sent a second saying that I don’t have a thick skin & I take things to heart - I was just wondering if I was mistaken about what had happened and that if he chose not to respond then it would be a lesson learned for me.  Obviously he chose not to respond.

Here’s why you will likely not receive a response to your crazy girl texts (i.e. texts that are holding a mirror up to a Weak A** Man):  Unreasonable people don’t like to admit they are unreasonable, so frequently they just shut down and walk away - it’s easier to avoid facing the reality that you are, in fact, a Weak A** Man, if you avoid looking in a mirror.

My best piece of advice about girls or guys: It is futile to ask unreasonable people (i.e. those who have acted in an unreasonable or illogical fashion) to be reasonable. You are trying to ask for a reasonable answer out of someone who isn’t wired that way!

So I used up my crazy girl quota last night, and he never replied. This could sound like a disaster of a situation - but it is actually a victory. Why? Because now I’ve confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Soccer Player is a Weak A** Man and I will be wiser next time around when someone tries to push me out of my dating comfort zone.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"The truth will set you free and there is so little in the popular culture".

I saw Anne Lamott speak on a tour to promote her new book, Small Victories: Spotting Moments of Improbable Grace.  In her usual style, Anne had so many eloquent one-liners that perfectly express various experiences in our lives.  

A few of my favorites included:
“Letting go and forgiveness are just not my strong suits and are of course the Christian traditions - I need the tradition that is to sulk.”

“Grace will meet you exactly where it finds you and it won't leave you there.”
“Laughter is carbonated holiness.”

“When I get my sense of humor back I know I've been touched by grace."

"The truth will set you free and there is so little in the popular culture."

That last one is why I write this blog.  I apologize because my potential readers (i.e. my best friend, occasionally my mother and hopefully a few others out there) are getting my rough first drafts that I quickly try to get out while the thoughts are still in my head. I did learn from Anne that I should go back and remove, remove, remove the details - so thank you for bearing with me through the imperfect, unpolished versions that you see.

Many people have described me as a truth-sayer -- and have meant it only in a half positive light. As in ‘you are a truth-sayer and that can make some people uncomfortable’.  I don’t know how to be anything else, I don’t know how to lie or sugar-coat. I don’t understand sweeping experiences and related emotions under the table. So I’m giving you the raw version as it unfolds, as lost and then found, then lost again and then found again as this path goes….

The last quote that I brought home from Anne Lamott was this, "The great medicine words of our culture - 'me too'." - I hope this blog brings you a big of connection and compassion so that you can see it is ‘me too’ who has these struggles, whether they be the same or result in the same challenges, this journey is hard, exciting, challenging, fearful, frustrating and joyful for ‘me too’.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Empowering Affirmations To Live By

This week on Super Soul Sunday, Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson discussed their new book Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life.  Their book contains 6 affirmations that I found to
be useful for anyone who is trying to increase their awareness, accountability and empowerment.  However, somehow I only managed to record 5 of the 6, so if you want to learn more, read the book or watch the episode!
  1. Something needs to change and it's probably me.
  2. I don't know how to do this but something inside me does.
  3. I will learn from my mistakes and not defend them.
  4. I will right the wrongs where ever possible. “Your life changes when you shift your paradigm to service for anything.” (Oprah)
  5. I will live my life in love and service, gratitude and trust.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Must Read Article on How Compassion Can Heal Shame

I found this amazing article on Psychology today entitled, “How Compassion Can Heal Childhood Shame” - if you’ve ever struggled with feeling less-than, this is a must-read article!

In addition to articulate the uncomfortable experience of shame - even how our brains process shame but we have the ability to re-wire them:

And there has been a lot of research recently on the connection between shame and compassion. What was particularly of interest to me was the most recent research in the neurobiology of compassion as it relates to shame—namely that we now know some of the neurobiological correlates of feeling unlovable and how shame gets stuck in our neural circuitry. Moreover, I discovered that due to what we now know about the neural plasticity of the brain—the capacity of our brains to grow new neurons and new synaptic connections—we can proactively repair (and re-pair) the old shame memory with new experiences of self-empathy and self-compassion.

The article goes on to suggest a remedy that literally helps rewire your brain so to repair the shame memory:

In essence, in order to heal your shame (past and present) you need to provide for yourself nurturing, encouraging words to counter the typically self-critical words you normally tell yourself whenever you make a mistake, disappoint yourself or someone else, or in some way fall short of your own or someone else’s expectations. Self-compassion involves telling yourself what you most need to hear at the moment—words of understanding and encouragement.

There are many other aspects of self-compassion. For now, just know that practicing self-compassion can help you:

• Begin to generate compassionate feelings toward yourself and self-soothe yourself in positive ways
• Begin to replace self-criticism with self-kindness
• Begin to create a nurturing inner voice to replace your cold, critical, bullying inner voice
• Begin to generate alternatives to your self-attacking thoughts, including stimulating underdeveloped pathways of the brain—pathways that stimulate inner support and warmth
• Help you to develop appreciation for yourself, including feeling pride in your accomplishments--pride is the opposite emotion from shame
• Encourage you to practice accountability versus self-blame, self-correction versus self-criticism.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Admit It, I'm Addicted to Dating!

I admit it - I’m addicted to dating. I don’t mean in the way that you want to go out wiht lots of guys, but I mean in the way that I can’t stop looking for someone...for ‘the one’.  I constantly look around in bars and public places, just to see if he is possibly around the corner. I check Tinder more often than is healthy and I get excited with my app has a little number badge, telling me someone has reached out.

Yet when I’m actually engaging in conversation with these people, I lose interest right away. I find a small reason why it isn’t worth my time to continue to invest energy in them. Sometimes I even feel resentful that the are taking up my precious energy in the first place.

And then it who seems to have potential comes up. And I get excited - that maybe this one might go somewhere. And I meet him...and go out on 1, 2 or 3 dates and then the inevitable factor of why he is not a fit arises - not ready to date, stuck on himself, is a player (#1 reason by far!)  And then my hopes are crushed, because I was sure that after all of my hard work both on myself and on my search, that someone was bound to land right in front of me at any moment...and maybe this one would be that guy. But he isn’t.

Each time I end up feeling let down.  But I keep putting myself back out there. Furiously swiping right and left, hoping someone who is on the same page as me may connect.

I’ve told myself and anyone who will listen that I’m done. I don’t have the energy or the motivation. I would love to find Mr. Right but not at the expense of all of my free time and attention.  Yet I haven’t stopped. I’ve probably checked Tinder 10 times already today to see if there is a new message.

So what happens if I just stop. If I stop pursuing finding someone else and start just being me.  Does the universe work in a way that that someone ends up in my path?  Does it doom me to being alone for the rest of my earthly existence?  Will the feeling of isolation that is so painful to me grow to unimaginable depths or will it receed as I see that life is full already?

I’m scared to unplug. Should I take the plunge?  The closest I’ve gotten is to tipping my toe into this proverbial pool of cold water shock - only responding to people when they reach out, rather than messaging them first to see if there is a bite….see if someone is excited to hear from this hot single momma!

Tinder Date 14 & Revising 1st, 2nd and 3rd Date Criteria

I went out with a college professor on a first date which seemed promising, but thereafter he seemed to be ‘mailing it in’ - lacked ambition - not really making an effort. I agreed to a second date but while I was driving there I realized he hadn’t met my criteria for a second date, I accepted merely on his credentials alone!  He hadn’t made me laugh - not even once!

As I sat across the fancy table from him drinking a nice glass of wine, I noticed he didn’t even take his suit jacket off, he looked stiff and he seemed completely uninterested in me - yet very interested in talking about him.

Revisiting my criteria, I realized I left off two key points - acknowledging my daughter & asking questions about me!:
Must have for a 1st date:
  • Smart
  • Educated
  • Makes me laugh before meeting him
  • Has varied interests outside of sports and drinking
  • New: Acknowledges the existence of my daughter (asks how old, etc)

Must have for a 2nd date:
  • Intelligent
  • Made me laugh on the 1st date
  • Career oriented
  • Kind
  • Has some opinion about musical tastes (for some reason guys who don’t care about music tend to not care about much else either)
  • New: Makes some reference to my daughter
  • New: Asked questions about me on the 1st date, didn’t just talk about himself

Must have to move past the 2nd date:
  • Caring
  • Generous
  • Is continually seeking to learn more/grow
  • Can hold a conversation that dips below surface level topics
  • New: Asked questions about me on the 2nd date, didn’t just talk about himself

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When In Doubt, Make a List - Or Better Yet Have Someone Make One For You

I had my chimney cleaned last friday. The chimney sweep informed me that there is much work that needs to be done and he gave me a quote of around $2k but then added a discount. He said that because I looked young and must just be starting out, he felt bad and added his angie's list discount.  I promptly replied, “Oh, I’m 35!” to which he responded, “In that case I should remove the discount!”.  I informed him I’m a single mom and the discount would help to which he responded again, “Well that is your fault”. I blurted out that my husband chose a girlfriend and not to work on the marriage and the chimney sweep persisted, informing me it is my fault that I’m a single mom and he should take the discount back.  Clearly, my 4 year old has more brain power than this man and obviously he will not be getting my business.

But lately its felt like I’m getting pushed on from all sides and I’ve been feeling a bit worn down.  I lose focus very easily on what is and spend time ruminating over what is not - where I am falling short, where I don’t feel that I am enough.

Unprovoked, my mom sent me an email offering me a better perspective in my most favorite of all structures - a list!

I know you are not giving yourself the credit you deserve.  It doesn't hurt Grace but does hurt you. You:

  • Loves unconditionally ( that does not mean you want to be with Grace all of the time)
  • Forgives, as Grace is learning
  • Cuddles
  • Kisses
  • Laughter
  • Faith training for life - choosing a healthy church
  • Does not bad mouth her father, even though he hurt her and deprived her of her dream. A**hole
  • Provides fresh food and clothing - good foods she enjoys
  • Teaches her manners so she will be successful with others
  • Demonstrates responsibility
  • Demonstrates loving all family members
  • Same with friends
  • Demonstrates love
  • Goes out of her way to provide new experiences
  • Safe, clean, warm home
  • Demonstrates organization
  • Teaches sounds, letters, music
  • Uses positive behavior techniques but firm
  • Gives her baths even though she doesn't always want to
  • Does laundry when totally exhausted
  • Provides dinner when totally exhausted
  • Is an advocate for her- helmet, school, etc
  • Provides transportation to events/classes
  • Demonstrates/ teaches appropriate clothing use
  • Makes holidays and birthdays special with gifts, cake, important family and friends
  • Dead tired and still takes her to library
  • Only introduces her to good people
  • Cares globally but has Grace well taken care of when gone
  • Works to bring out the best in everyone
  • As example to Grace
  • And so much more

My advice - next time you feel like you are falling short, make a list!  Or better yet, have someone else make one for you. It’s amazing how the shift in perspective shifts your soul.