Soul searching journey without leaving home

Even though I’ve been divorced for years now, I have found that I still have my own soul searching to do. It is easy to move on if you silently bury everything and fool yourself into thinking that you’ve done the work to find happiness with yourself again. However, that is only on the surface, and I have found that on the surface simply doesn’t last.

You can jump into the arms of someone else so quickly that you forget about yourself and what you really need in order to truly move forward. This is actually the best distraction, seems like the most logical solution and definitely makes everything easier, at least for a while.

What I have needed is to forgive myself. I have asked God for forgiveness, I have asked my ex-husband for forgiveness – and I know they both forgive me. I know God will never remember what has already been forgiven and forgotten. The real problem I have faced, however, is that I haven’t forgiven myself. I haven’t forgotten. I wasn’t going to be someone that was a divorce statistic. I was going to say vows ONE time. I wasn’t going to give up. And I have been so ashamed with myself that it has gotten in the way of truly being able to move on and allow myself happiness.

I am reminded by my teenage daughter all the time that I ruined her life because she was moved out of the home and neighborhood that she now fantasizes about, as well as when we have to run all over hell going from one house to another because she doesn’t have the right shoes, charger or outfit. This is getting less and less, but still the supreme reason for most outbursts in our house. I absolutely hate this. And I pray everyday that we really didn’t totally ruin our kids’ lives and that they really will be ok in life.

I won’t share what happened in my marriage or why we ended up where we did because it is a very complicated story and it’s not all mine to tell. But, I would’ve never ended up in this spot if after ten years it wasn’t the best solution for everyone involved. I stayed for so long thinking there was no other solution until I was confronted by those I love and trust most in my life. That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel guilty and wish things could’ve been different. Could’ve I been stronger? Could’ve I done more? Could’ve I overlooked more? Could’ve I sacrificed more? Those questions don’t haunt me everyday, but still creep up from time to time.

I am not in a relationship at the moment. It has really given me the time to start the healing process that I should’ve started years ago. I know that I need to do this soul searching so I can stop punishing myself. All the while I thought the fairy tale was the happy ending. And it still might be, but my first happy ending will be me, moving on, picking up the pieces and actually allowing myself to TRULY break down the walls around my heart and be happy with ME first. I need to feel God’s love and strength and know that He is all I need.

When I can forgive myself and heal my heart with God at every last turn, then it doesn’t matter what the ending is because I will have fulfilled my journey and my heart will finally be open to so many different possibilities that I can’t even imagine as I sit here and write this. I smile to myself because it makes me a little giddy. It’s not even about an intimate love – it’s about all the relationships I will be able to build because my insecurity, shame and pride will no longer be in the way.

My favorite movie over the last four years has been Eat, Pray, Love. I can watch it over and over and learn something new each and every time. While I would love to go on a soul searching journey around the world like Liz did, I simply cannot at this point in my life as I run my kids around and want to soak in every moment of their school, activities and just spending time with them. Instead, I am embarking on a soul searching journey right from my own home.

There are a few other movies that I’ve watched that have inspired me besides Eat, Pray, Love – Runaway Bride, Hope Floats, Sliding Doors, to name a few – all very romcom and not Oscar contenders by any means, but honestly each has given me a lesson about soul searching, not just love, that I’ve needed. Yes, I AM a hopeless romantic. I know myself well enough to know that there will never be a point in my life when I am not. That is just how I am wired and is something I have come to terms with. However, these movies have helped me see beyond the fairy tale. Here are a few things I’ve learned on my journey so far:

  • Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy tale shimmer is the solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years – I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • You need to learn how to control your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Beginnings are scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too. – Hope Floats
  • In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • I need to know how I like my own eggs first. – Runaway Bride
  • And maybe the happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future, maybe the happy ending is just moving on. – Hope Floats
  • First, get your ducks in a row – V. Then you can fly in a W – Runaway Bride
  • No matter what decisions we make, we will end up where we are meant to be. – Sliding Doors
  • If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments – for me this needs to be Diet Coke!!) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself…then truth will not be withheld from you. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road that leads to transformation. – Eat, Pray, Love

I am not just watching movies on this journey, although that would be more fun. The principles from the movies have helped me with the other parts of my journey, however. I am also writing in my journal again, praying, meditating, reading devotionals (Joyce Meyer is my favorite), reading the Bible and fasting. I’ve also been trying to do things that push me out of my comfort zone.

I have a long way to go. I still haven’t fully forgiven myself or let go of the shame. But I’m working on it every single day. I’m going to do this even if it hurts and even if it is difficult because I know that it is worth it. It it worth it for my two wonderful children, the rest of my family and myself. It is a path to happiness and joy that I can only get through my relationship with God. And that I can share endlessly with others in every role that I play in life – mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, co-worker, stranger, etc. And that one day, when I’m not looking or chasing or trying to figure it all out and control every last detail, I can share with someone – and to quote my favorite movie – that isn’t a man – but is my champion.

Teenage parenting advice

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 13th Birthday

IMG_2434Dear Kaylee,

I am writing you this letter to give you on your thirteenth birthday, which is tomorrow. I still sit here in awe knowing that tomorrow you are going to be a teenager. I don’t know how the time went by so quickly and how my little baby, toddler, preschooler, elementary student…became this beautiful, smart, funny, caring and feisty, almost lady. You have blossomed right in front of my eyes over the last year and will only continue to do so as you grow into yourself over the next several years.

Whether it seems relevant to you or not, I know what you are going through. As you’ve reminded me, I do know times were different back in 1993. In fact, I came up with thirteen differences from my life at thirteen:

  1. We still had land lines and long distance bills (that I frequently got in trouble over for calling boys from out of town)…oh and no caller ID or call waiting (do you know what a busy signal is?) but you could look up someone’s phone number in the phone book (do you know what that is?) and you had the last four digits of every single one of your friend’s phone number memorized
  2. Cell phones were called “car phones” and only parents could use them because we were charged by the minute…and there were no games, videos or apps on them
  3. The Internet was just making its way to Iowa and if your family had AOL, you were the bomb, but only one person could be on it at a time
  4. We watched movies on a VCR and we had to wait like six months for a movie to come out on tape
  5. Instead of play lists, we made mixed tapes that you had to manually rewind or fast forward to find your favorite song
  6. We had to actually watch the commercials during our favorite shows
  7. The selfie hadn’t been invented yet and we couldn’t see ourselves in photos until the film was developed
  8. We couldn’t document our every move on snap chat or even text our friends…we actually had to call them…or knock on their door!
  9. We could still walk around town at night on our own
  10. We had to read Teen Bop or Teen Beat to keep up on our favorite celebrities
  11. We had to buy the latest fashions AT THE STORE, and beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora didn’t exist so we had to fill our caboodles with Wet n’ Wild make-up and lip smackers
  12. We had to stalk our crush with random walk-bys past his actual house or calling and hanging up, and we had no idea if he was home or what his family ate for dinner
  13. We had to pass notes in school to find out if someone liked us. Note folding was a talent

So, maybe things have changed just a little bit now that you are a teenager. However, I am now older and wiser and  there are many things that have not changed…so here are thirteen facts that are still true today that I want you to know:

  1. What seems like the biggest deal right now won’t matter in six months or a year, and definitely not later in life
  2. You have no idea what people are actually going through – no one’s life is perfect and no single person is perfect, even if it seems like it
  3. You don’t want to peak now…or anytime soon
  4. You can never go wrong by being nice. A simple smile, hi, or asking how someone is could change their day, week, year or life
  5. People that are mean or put other people down, are actually the most insecure and need the most love. Forgive and give grace always
  6. It’s not all about you…ever. Open your eyes to what actually matters and how you can make a difference. The world does not owe you ANYTHING
  7. Be comfortable in your own skin – you are unique, you are beautiful and you have so much to offer the world – so just be YOU! If others don’t like it, that’s their problem, not yours
  8. You would stop worrying so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they actually do – everyone is inherently self-centered so they are thinking of themselves too, not you
  9. Everything is ok in moderation – learn healthy habits now or it will catch up to you when your metabolism slows down – move your  body in ways that are fun to you, control yourself and don’t overindulge in anything in life, except your faith and service to others
  10. If you have a dream or want something to happen, do your part. Hard work ALWAYS pays off and most of the time in ways we can’t even imagine up front
  11. Solve your own problems now, while the stakes are low, and when the real problems of the world come your way, you’ll be ready. It is ok to make mistakes, but learn from each and every one so you don’t make the same mistake twice
  12. Whatever situation you are in – good or bad – it will change. Time is the ultimate healer. Be patient and give time its proper time. Even change you know is good change will be a transition, so those changes also need time
  13. You have the strength to get through anything, as long as you lean on God and not yourself

I probably needed to write this list as much as I want you to read it. Enjoy. Smile. Be happy. No one can make you happy but YOU. Enjoy these years. Enjoy getting your summers off, hanging out with your friends, spending your parents’ money and sleeping in. Enjoy being you. Enjoy the sunshine and the swimming pool and soak in the smells of every season. You will miss it. You will regret taking it all for granted because you didn’t know there was anything else beyond it. You will miss sleep when you have babies, but they will change your life in so many more wonderful ways…like you changed mine…thirteen years ago. THANK YOU.

I love you and couldn’t be prouder of you. I will never miraculously accept bad behavior, attitude or disrespect, however, I will always be here to guide you, push you and challenge you. You definitely won’t always like me, but one day you will thank me. One day you will understand. And it is ok if you don’t understand today – you’re not supposed to.

Happy birthday sweet girl, YOU ARE LOVED. God is smiling down on you today and always – don’t you ever, ever forget that.

Love,

Your MOM

Aside

Quotes to inspire your day

1.Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. – Helen Keller
2.Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out. – John Wooden
3.To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. – Thomas Watson, Sr.
4.There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. – Roger Staubach
5.If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford
6.Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong attitude. – Thomas Jefferson
7.Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Steve Jobs
8.There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them. – Denis Waitley
9.It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin
10.When you change your thoughts, you change your world. – Will Rogers

What is your favorite inspiring quote?

10 Movies from the 80s You Might’ve Forgotten About

Do you remember THESE AMAZING 80s movies? My sister and I were reminiscing the other day about movies from our childhood – yes – we are children of the 80s baby! The movies on this list might’ve not been the most popular, but they are the ones we remember with a smile.

  1. White Water Summer (1987)
  2. The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
  3. American Anthem (1986)
  4. Moving Violations (1985)
  5. The Pirate Movie (1982)
  6. Babes in Toyland…the one with Drew Barrymore (1986)
  7. Oh God! Book II (1980)
  8. Lucas (1986)
  9. Heathers (1988)
  10. Shag The Movie (1989)

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear!

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Why The Happily Ever After Illusion Will Disappoint You. Every. Time.

I was recently introduced to the TV series, Once Upon A Time. I am still on season 1, which first aired in 2011. After watching only 7 or 8 episodes, I am already disappointed it is multiple seasons because I want to see what happens at the END – when they are all happily ever after again.  Some people don’t like to know what happens, but for some reason I have always been one to:

  1. Read the last few pages of a book after only a chapter or two into it
  2. Check up on Reality Steve’s blog before a Bachelor/Bachelorette season even airs to see who is picked
  3. Want someone to tell me what happens during a suspenseful movie scene
  4. Cover my eyes during 3rd downs while watching Iowa Hawkeye football
  5. Live for count downs
  6. Desperately want the fairy tale to be true

How did I allow myself to be programmed this way?  Why can’t I just live in the moment – enjoying the journey and unknowns along the way?

This world will get you every time. The fairy tale and happily ever after do not exist, nor should we want them to. We are continually disappointed believing in these empty promises and living in romcom movie scenes.  Here’s the thing. You can choose happily ever after. As long as you know that the ups and downs of life come with it. We are all a phone call away from tragedy.  From injustice. From all of the ‘not fairs’ in life. Recognizing and appreciating ordinary days is the key to true happily ever after.  But chasing the fake kind is a sure way to never get there.

My favorite Bible verse has always been Jeremiah 29:11 – for I know the plans I have for You…I hang onto that verse and know God’s will is so much better than my own. When you are able to let go, even if it is uncomfortable because you don’t know the outcome, you always come out stronger. You realize that you don’t know better and if you are just patient the story starts to come together – and you begin to see why all the pieces were needed.

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25 Little Things

Don’t forget to stop and love the little things…because one day you will look back and realize they were actually the big things. I don’t know what’s coming for me in the weeks, months and years ahead – but I’m going to be thankful for all the little things that I might not have otherwise noticed along the way.

Here are my 25 little things right now, in no particular order:

  1. When I see myself in my daughter
  2. Days when my entire family gets together
  3. Friends that transcend time – no matter how long it’s been we pick up right where we left off
  4. When my 6-year-old crawls into bed with me at 4 a.m. and grabs my hand in order to fall back to sleep
  5. Answered prayers
  6. Unanswered prayers
  7. Moments when you realize the bigger “why”
  8. Weekend road trips
  9. Family traditions
  10. A clean house (and the 5 seconds when every last piece of clothing in the house is washed and put away)
  11. Getting lost in my work
  12. 70 degrees and 0 humidity
  13. The end of missing someone
  14. Target
  15. Butterflies
  16. Thunderstorms and snowstorms when I don’t have anywhere to be
  17. Witty people
  18. McDonald’s fountain diet coke in a Styrofoam cup
  19. The smell of rain
  20. Authenticity
  21. Roller coasters
  22. Stories that inspire me to be and do more
  23. Rom-coms
  24. 80’s movies
  25. Traveling – anywhere

#dontmissoutonlife

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The Way Life Should Be

My kids and I went on vacation to Maine last month. We were able to stay with family friends so it was affordable, but also a really cool experience to live like locals while on vacation as tourists.

It was a trip of firsts for us – first plane ride for my 6-year-old son, first time at the ocean for both of my kids, and the first real vacation with just the three of us. While there were a couple of moments I felt like a single mom, (like when we flew into Boston late and I had to drive through construction, successfully get out of the city and navigate us to our friends’ house in Cape Neddick, Maine while being the only one awake in the car) the most overwhelming feeling I had was thankfulness. Thankfulness that we were able to make those memories together. And that somehow I was able to pull it off for them.

Maine’s motto is “The Way Life Should Be.” And if you look at this picture of my children running to the ocean, it couldn’t be more true. We don’t always have these moments, but when we do, we all need to take a deep breath and smell the sweet air so those moments stay with us forever.

Looking back on everything that has happened in my life, I cannot say everything is how I imagined it would be. Not even close. But, all I can do is do my best and keep moving forward.  Faith and time are the ultimate healers.

SO – while my life up to this point might not be how I thought it would be, I do know it is how it should be. And when you trust in that, everything changes.