Becoming a Grown-Up

Today is important. It’s my oldest son’s birthday. Twenty-seven years ago I was tired, scared and dehydrated as he finally emerged after twenty-two hours of labor.

I thought finishing high school made me a grown-up. Then I decided I became an adult when I graduated college, began my career and a year later got married.

But true mature adulthood came when I shuffled down the hall to see my beaten and bruised child with the long cone-head crying in the hospital nursery. Love and a fierce desire to protect my baby hurtled me into the real world of grown-ups. I never looked back as I eventually had three small children to care for as their father worked sixty plus hours per week.

We pretended that we had this adult thing together while I realized, deep in my heart, that my husband had not yet crossed the grown-up threshold. He had a good job, we had a mortgage, car payments, and student loans along with three children, but the real maturity didn’t come until we divorced.

I’ve been thinking about that today as another important event is taking place across town. The ex-spouse is “retiring.” I put that in quotation marks because he was encouraged to grab the golden parachute as they pushed him out of the company he spent thirty-three years a slave. Yes, that number is correct- thirty-three years with one company. No one works their whole lives at one place anymore ( unless they own it.)

This day is one I often thought about and was almost around for fifteen years ago. The company was floundering then, too, and they offered a choice- move to Texas or take a package.

I wasn’t moving again. We spent a decade moving every couple of years, and I was worn out with starting again and again. The kids were getting older and I wanted them settled in school. We talked about it. I wanted the package and a husband around again (he had been traveling the past five years.) He wanted the company. In the end they offered a position in a small town an hour away. He took it, and I knew then that his choice sealed our fate.

At the time I cautioned him that his choice would change the dynamics of our relationship. It did. I asked if this blind devotion to a company over his family was worth it. He believed that his continual playing of “the game” would reward him with the coveted position he had aspired to. It did.

In the end, he got the big promotion and we got divorced. He was mostly a stranger to his kids, and becoming a divorced Dad with a specified visitation schedule forced him to actively be involved in parenting our three kids. He became a real grown-up in his mid-forties.

And now all that sacrifice, all those holidays and family events missed because of work, days and weeks and months that he spent far from home as he traveled for work, a marriage that withered on the vine, unable to compete for the attention given to work. All fall-out from a job that is now showing him to the door with a handshake and a pat on the back. I have one burning question: thirty-three years of single-minded devotion- was it worth it?




Dream Comes True

Wednesday evening I furiously packed the last few items in the house. In the darkness, I listened to the sounds of the house settling for the night. Surrounded by shadowy boxes, it was the last night in this house. Tomorrow I close this chapter, titled In Transition, begun ten years ago.

The moving truck arrived, and the cheerful workers carted out all the carefully packed boxes. Soon we were on our way, cars packed and one nervous kitty formed a caravan.


Slowly over the past three days, the place is taking shape. Pots and pans have found their place. Re-purposing an old cabinet turned out just as we envisioned. We play our favorite CD’s as we sort and store our old things that now look fresh in this new environment.

We pause and look out the windows at the city view. We take breaks on our porch, watching a kayak glide across the river. We smile, we laugh  and we look around us in wonder. Our dream has come true.    img_4856


I Think You Meant to Say, ‘Thank You’

I Think You Meant to Say, ‘Thank You’

Worth a read…


philly-marchTo those who saw the Women’s Marches around the country and–damn–around the world and didn’t “get it” — try harder. To those who called the rallies “protests” and compared us to those who willfully and criminally broke windows, attacked the police and set a car on fire in D.C. yesterday — try harder. To those who don’t understand that our individual rights and freedoms are under siege — try harder.

View original post 665 more words

Listening to my Gut

The theme is listening. I’ve listened to people complain about the election. I’ve listened to co-workers discuss Thanksgiving plans. I’ve listened to mumblings and grumblings from those who hate holidays.

I’ve done plenty of listening to others, but I’ve also listened closely to the voice inside of me. Some call it conscience, I call it the quiet little voice. Lately this voice has been clamoring for attention.

For the past few years my husband and I talked about someday moving to a different place. Getting out of suburbia and moving closer to the heart of the city. Trading the large house for  a small cottage or condo.



My mind was agreeable to the concept in the abstract. I need to shed the mortgage and the last tie to my past. But, actually taking the big step to put the house on the market and commit to sifting through the last bits of my kid’s childhood. Packing up, and downsizing in the most severe way. Well my heart wasn’t quite ready, until today.

When my daughter left for college, we talked about it over coffee one morning. It’s time he and I agreed. I spoke to an agent I trusted, and she assured me she could sell the house with a minimal of fuss. Then Hurricane Matthew swept in and we spent another month trying to get back on track.

Two weeks ago, I took a deep breath and called her again. I am ready when you are she said. I cleaned and spruced the place up, then took a deep breath and let her inside the house. She assured me it was going to sell and left me with papers and figures and stats.

I stared at the folder for another couple of weeks, made a few phone calls and then promptly got sick. As I sat on the sofa recovering in solitude, the little voice spoke up. Why are you stalling? the voice asked. Good question. I got out my journal and wrote down all the reasons I wanted to move and all the reasons I dreaded moving from this house.

l listened to my fears, and I comforted myself with this:

My dream was to give my kids a home in a neighborhood, filled with kids and sidewalks- a permanent place we could all call home. We had moved four times in eight years, never staying in one place more than a couple of years. We lived in a series of subdivisions- raw, new and transient. This neighborhood was closest to my own childhood experience- a place safe to roam and play.


My three are adults now. All of the kids in the neighborhood are grown and gone. We parents are left with large houses and empty nests. Rather than hold onto the past and wait in vacant rooms for grandchildren, I chose to strike out on a new adventure with my husband.

I listened to the little voice when it that told me to sign the papers today. So I did. Here’s to heeding the little voice that tells us when we are ready for a new adventure.



A Little Test of Kindness

The Kindness Project was in full swing when I began noticing a small trend.

First let me mention I work for a church. The CEO of this organization is the King of Kindness. So being kind is more than just customer service, it’s a founding principle.

It’s easier to be kind to the nice people who return the kindness. The real challenge is being more than polite to the vexing ones. As the week progressed I realized the vexing folks have slowly emerged like little ants, one by one.

I only groaned once when I glanced at the call the other day, but I was practicing kindness so I was more gentle and patient.

Then another vexing character walked in the office. More gentleness and patience. Reflecting back I realize the change was with the way I approached the vexing ones. I didn’t let thoughts, judgments or negative thoughts filter through. I just smiled and asked how I could help.

They didn’t change- it was never about them, really. It’s about my attitude and learning how to detach all judgment.

That leads me a quote I read this evening:

“There’s no point in judging any of the crazy things that happen as                                                                either good or bad, they just are.”

For an INFJ the “J” looms pretty big, but I’m learning to let those judgments filter through without allowing those thoughts to take up any space. It creates a calm, less anxiety filled existence. In truth, I’m getting hooked on feeling calm, and I crave it to the point I will keep the chaos away.

Here are a few radical Self- Kindness indulgences I want to share:

Fall apples. Is there anything more delicious than biting into a tart-sweet apple in season?

Vanilla Tea. I don’t care for chai or green tea, but love rich, black tea. I couldn’t find vanilla tea so I made my own: English Breakfast Tea ( decaf so I can drink it in the evening,) and a teaspoon or more of vanilla extract (use Madagascar or make your own.)

Homemade shortbread cookies. Because I love baking. I search for the best cookie recipes and this one is wonderful. Thin, crisp and melt in your mouth buttery. Dunk one in your vanilla tea- pure bliss. World’s Best Butter Cookies


This morning I walked in a light mist while listening to the sound of rain through headphones. It was like being in a forest all by myself. I actually increased my speed (as compared to listening to music.)  Check out: My Noise


I hope this week you practice radical kindness. We need it.


I Believe

                                IMG_0903.JPGIf we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.      Henry Thoreau


Tomorrow has been anticipated and dreaded for months. Never have I felt so mentally assaulted by a campaign season. Everything is covered with a layer of grime- the kind of greasy dust that clings to your skin. A vicious tar like that stuff on the beach. You rub your skin raw with sand and towels, but it only drives the goo deeper into the creases of your skin.

I have a lot of strong opinions about many subjects. I know my views aren’t often shared by even close family or friends, but I understand that my world view is based on my own  lens. Everyone views life through their own lens. And that’s ok.

I grew up with an awareness of how much my parent’s struggled to keep six kids clothed, fed and educated. I went to school with mostly blue collar workers- the bus drivers, cops, firemen and federal government drones.

I went to college- at the time the first one to complete more than two years of community college. I got all the financial aid I could manage and still struggled to finish on my own.

I chose a career that didn’t guarantee success- unless you count teaching a kid to read or write. I taught in the poor, Title One schools, because I loved the students and the job.

I had some upward mobility when I married a white collar professional. We weren’t rich, but we owned a home and I was able to take time away from my career, and raise my three kids.

I’ve been divorced, unemployed, and uninsured. I’ve been back down that mobility ladder- beginning all over from scratch. I struggled to get food on the table, pay those bills and put three kids through college.

That’s my lens. That’s how I see the world, and those experiences are what I think about when election time looms.

We all base our votes on what we think is best- for ourselves and for our country. We try to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy.

I believe in voting my conscience. That’s how I make a black and white decision on a ballot when the world is one million shades of gray.

I believe in a secret ballot. I don’t share my vote with others. It’s just my thing, I don’t need to know how you vote, either.

I believe that 99.9% of voters who go to the polls do care and take it seriously. If you took the time to get in the car and drive to the polls, you already care more than the cynic who cries, “what’s my vote going to change?”

I believe that no matter what happens tomorrow, there are no winners- we are all going to be disappointed. Maybe your candidate wins, maybe not, but the price we all paid was steep.

I believe that perhaps we all  might benefit from a bit of self-examination after tomorrow, about how we judged and thought of others who did not share our beliefs.

I believe that Wednesday should be declared a day of reconciliation and kindness towards others. Because we need to scrub off this tar of hatred with love.

Most of all I believe that no matter what the outcome, the world will keep turning.

Finally a prescription for tomorrow:

Be gentle with yourself. Get some sleep.  Bake some cookies. Give yourself over to something indulgent. Binge watch Seinfeld, or the Office- definitely do comedy- no heavy dramas or doom.   Hug your kids, love your lover. Pet your dog. Cuddle your cat. Take a walk. Get outside at least once and notice the tinge of Autumn in the air. And Breathe.