Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘divorce’

In Search of Thanksgiving Gratitude

It always seems like the holiday is a long way off, then all of a sudden, there it is. Making decisions whether or not to cook or let someone else do the cooking can be tricky. Some years ago, I would cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for between 17 to 20 people and enjoyed every minute of it. That’s how I showed them my love. As children grew and had their own families, I learned to make adjustments in my meals. Frozen lasagna, cooked and set out with vegetable, cracker & cheese trays along with plenty of cookies became the new norm and easier on me. It went from everyone sitting down at the extra-long table to setting up a buffet in the kitchen for a grab a bite, visit, and then go on to the next family. I could share them with others.

Bubbles is staying at my son's house for a while. How can it be Thanksgiving and not be grateful for all good dogs.

Bubbles is staying at my son’s house for awhile. How can it be Thanksgiving and not be grateful for all good dogs.

When we moved away, we made more changes to how we did holidays. Now that I live alone and my circle of family and friends has become even smaller, I’ve adapted once again. This year my daughter will drive us to her cousin’s very small house so we can share Thanksgiving with her four daughters, her mother and her significant other’s family. The place will be busting at the seams but the gathering of people who love each other outweighs any discomfort. For me, the hardest part is coming home in the dark. I have to keep my eyes closed as the lights and movement can make me quite nauseous. I’ve decided to take some wine to see if that helps keep my eyes closed. I’m an awful passenger seat driver in the daylight.

Thanksgiving is a special day to remember things you are grateful for. How many of you are grateful for the fact that you have such abundance that dieting is often a necessary part of your life. A lot of the world is looking for food, I have more than enough and choose to eat sparingly most of the time anyway. Yes, we donate to the less fortunate and I’m grateful I can do that as well.

For me, this holiday is about seeing people we don’t always have close by. My sister-in-law (sister-at-heart) has flown in from Missouri to spend both holidays with her daughter and granddaughters. Even after her brother and I divorced, we were still sisters. I’m grateful for a family that loves me even when they could choose to not.

Teaching my daughter to use the machine. Gifts are being made.

Teaching my daughter to use the machine. Gifts are being made.

There is no shortage of gratitude in my daily life. I write them in the morning and again at night. Instead of looking at all the things that present a challenge to me, (fixed income, health challenges, way too much solitude) I have so much more for which to be grateful.

On Monday, I had to change planes in San Jose, CA with a bit of time between flights. Wandering around for some exercise, I went back to the same gate I got off the plane at. It was time for my flight to leave and I didn’t understand why they weren’t calling for boarding. At the very last-minute, I heard a whisper in my head to check my boarding pass. I was at the wrong gate. A quick jog allowed me to be the very last passenger on my flight, but I didn’t miss it. I was oh so grateful.

I'm grateful my niece can make me look human again.

I’m grateful my niece can make me look human again.

Tomorrow I will be grateful for a noisy crowded house with plenty to eat and a daughter that is willing to get me back and forth. Each year the celebrations are different from the last. I’m grateful for adaptability. Thanksgiving comes every day that I allow it. How are you showing your gratitude for what is on this day of remembrance?

Happy, happy Thanksgiving everyone.
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Reasons to Celebrate

Labor Day falls on September 2 this year. The whole country gets a day off to rest or run; the choice is theirs. It was a labor day of a different kind 65 years ago in a tiny village in Germany. It’s still a tiny village, by the way. My mother labored a long time to give birth to a 13 pound girl (yes, you read that right) at home, with no anesthesia. She remembered nothing of that day and it took me awhile to understand why. Mom was a 2 pound baby, incubated in the oven at home and was never supposed to be able to have children. The four of us sure made a liar out of the doctor who told her that.

Main street. You can see beginning to end.

Main street. You can see beginning to end.

No motel or grocery, just a bar and convenience market. They sure are a friendly bunch though.

No motel or grocery, just a bar and convenience market. They sure are a friendly bunch though.

Why celebrate turning 65? That’s just getting old. Well after my birthday, I get Medicare. I have had no health coverage since my divorce a couple of years ago. Not that I need it, but it’s like car insurance, nice to have just in case. The other reason I celebrate is that I’m still here among the living and loving. My first husband only made it to 42. I’m grateful for each and every minute of pain and pleasure. I plan to celebrate big time…for me.

My daughter is taking me to my favorite German restaurant, Gustav’s, where after months and months of a very strict diet, I’m going to indulge in a good German beer, pretzel and cheese fondue, followed with a dinner I will probably end up taking home and topped off with their famous apple strudel. That’s MY idea of celebrating.

Is your mouth watering?

Is your mouth watering?

I have other reasons to celebrate. I’ve exceeded my weight loss goal by more than enough to indulge one day. It’s not easy by any means but I’m feeling sooo much better everyday as well. I think the Bells Palsy is improving as I’m needing the cane less and less for balance.

Another reason to celebrate is that this is my 100th post. I mainly post once a week unless fatigue overtakes me. Life is pretty simple for me and I want to keep my posts remotely interesting. As healing progresses, so will the variety of my writing. I’m still two months shy of my two-year blogiversary. Every time I get a bit discouraged, someone comes for a visit to my site and leaves an encouraging comment. Thank you all for reading and adding so much to my life. Each of you are treasures.

How and what are you celebrating this fine day of no labor?

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.~ Doug Larson

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself.

In Search of Less Stress

It’s been an odd couple of weeks for me. It was raining babies the end of April. That has kept me so busy I haven’t had time to start on my homework for writing class or get this blog written on time. If I didn’t hurry, the babies will be in kindergarten before I had the gifts finished. There is nothing like adding a little pressure to an already self-created overload.

Here is a picture of the blanket I made with two pieces of high quality flannel and I embroidered the name and birthdate. The last name is edited as a protective measure. I’ve made many of them. These last two are different as they started with a printed panel.

A front panel that was in my stash

A front panel that was in my stash

I've edited out the last name that is in the blank space in the middle.

I’ve edited out the last name that is in the blank space in the middle.

One of the babies was the great-grandson of my ex-husband. His granddaughter lives in the area but I have not heard from her since we divorced. He called to say they were all coming to see me after the baby arrived. My ex’s oldest daughter was his driver. We are civil but there is obviously underlying hostility on her part. My dizziness from the stress of an encounter magnified but I didn’t want to create a problem if there was none. So I prepared for the visit and waited. The baby didn’t arrive until the day before he and his daughter had to leave and there was no time to come to my house. That resulted in instant stress relief. I did have my daughter drive us to the hospital to pay a visit to his granddaughter and the new baby.

I glued a flannel print from the panel to the card

I glued a flannel print from the panel to the card

I’m hoping that soon, things like this no longer create tension for me. It’s a process to learn how to let fear go. Now I still have my assignments for writing class to do and packages to get in the mail tomorrow but I know I can accomplish those tasks. My family wonders why I would make all the effort of creating these blankets along with a hand crafted card when they most likely will never be appreciated. My only answer is that it’s the right thing to do and even though it takes more time and energy than before I became ill, I enjoy doing it and do it for my own satisfaction.

Editing didn't work as well but the embroidery on such a small piece worked well

Editing didn’t work as well but the embroidery on such a small piece worked well

My daughter and I found another way to reduce a little stress. We were making a trip to see my niece this weekend. One of her daughters was having a birthday so we stopped in for a couple of hours then headed back to the city. It’s an hour drive on the interstate which is usually bumper to bumper. We took a chance and found an old highway that would avoid most of the interstate. It took us a bit longer but it was so worth it. We saw places we would otherwise never see and it was so green and peaceful.

I could go on and on about what stress does to the body. Most of us already know all about that. What most of us have a hard time with, is finding ways to reduce it while continuing to do our daily life. What do you do to relieve stress?

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
~ William James

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the My Youthful Self

At the age of a retiree, I did not expect to look or feel like my 25-year-old self. I guess it’s possible and if you have the right set of circumstances, even probable. Stars and athletes still look remarkably young so why not me. Betty White and George Burns are my hero’s. I want to be able to drink, smoke, (well, maybe not smoke) carouse and live to 100.

I was so close to getting there in 2009. After spending an entire year rigidly watching my diet and exercising at the gym and walking the dog twice daily, I managed to lose 50 pounds. I had no sugar or refined carbs and felt pretty good about myself.

Well, guess what? After two and a half years with Bells Palsy, the stresses that brought it on and all the changes that have transpired in my life, I’ve managed to find almost 40 of those pounds and it doesn’t feel very good. Bells Palsy affects only the face for most people and everyone says “it goes away, doesn’t it?” Well, for me it affected my vision, balance, hearing and thought process. So I sat down and stayed there except for some walks with a cane, gardening and daily chores.

My son had some get-in-free cards for the gym at his club where he plays tennis. He works really hard to stay fit. I don’t like to sweat unless it’s in the garden moving boulders. Being a good mom, I took him up on the get-in-free card and tried out the treadmill and weight machines. Surprise, I can do them as long as I hold on. That’s a lot of healing in the last year. So I guess I have no more excuses to be lazy.

Now, on to the food part of the problem. I have not been eating well. When life is stressful, I soothe myself with comfort foods. Divorce and all that comes from it brings on mega stress. Mostly, my comfort foods are sweet, salty or fatty. Why can’t they be broccoli and spinach? My all-time favorite food since I was eight is french fries though I have managed to substitute the sweet potato version to make myself feel better about the indulgence. Oh, how we deceive ourselves. Then it was on to organic coconut fruit bars. Some days I have some control, most days, not so much.

When I look in the mirror, there is a strange, plump, old woman with a bulbous nose staring back and using some not nice words at me. She should have her mouth washed out with soap. She needs her hair styled big time, but I’m not going to tell her.

My body is making its stand and refuses any more junk. Who would have thought it possible? It’s forcing me to be kinder to myself and giving it a rest from all but the minimal amount of food. This time I’m listening. Maybe I’ll be younger tomorrow.

So what constitutes youthfulness in the older person? How does one keep that youthful glow in spite of life’s trials? It’s a skill I have yet to learn. I think what I’m looking for is that young at heart feeling that expresses itself in the body. I’ve said before I was born 108 years old with tons of responsibilities very early in life. So I’m trying to age backwards. I think Benjamin Button had it right. I am so ready for playtime and toys. Any suggestions? I could certainly use them.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Something to Say

While trying to re-evaluate the purpose of why I blog, I had to look at the many ways it has helped me. The original intent was to find anyone that had a similar experience to mine with Bells Palsy. I wanted answers and help in recovering from this very debilitating illness.

What I received from this blog was something different altogether. Being a very private person who works hard to keep emotions and personal matters to myself or in my journal, I have been forced to go outside my comfort zone by putting myself out there for scrutiny and possible criticism. Bloggers, it turns out, are a kind and encouraging group of people. They have helped me to grow and thereby continue to heal.

I have heard from great writers who are willing to share their skills and be patient with mine. I have heard from crafters, gardeners, teenagers and grandmothers. As a person whose world has become so much smaller due to this illness, several moves and a divorce resulting in a loss of extended family as well as friends, I have found a community that is willing to share themselves with me. I want them all to know how much I appreciate their encouragement. They didn’t even need to have a similar experience in life to be available for someone else.

Now that I’m driving a bit more, changing my focus from illness to wellness and living a full life, what will I have to say to you? I’m not sure I have an answer yet. Maybe you can let me know if anything I have to say moves you.

My last husband was a talker which I think is rare for a man. Every thought in his head came out of his mouth. You remember the cartoon bubbles that had blab, blab, blab written in them? That’s kind of how it seemed but I always listened anyway because you never knew if there was a grain of something important in that monologue. I became silent during that marriage because he was so busy talking, there was no listening (on his part). That’s when I began to write in journals. I want my writing now to be like my conversations; clear and to the point. I’m not full of fluff and flowery speech. I have friends who write beautiful, flowery prose. I envy them and enjoy reading their work. It’s just not me. I’m a Virgo if that clears up anything.

My interests are as varied as quantum physics (did you know time may be slowing down even though it feels like it’s speeding up) to quilting. I have moved over 30 times, lived in 3 countries and 10 states. I love technology and learning about Facebook, Pinterest, my Droid and now blogging. There is a lot of information out there. It gets a little harder to absorb as I get older. I love reading almost anything but romance for obvious reasons (twice divorced and done). In all of that, do I have anything to say? I don’t want to babble about unimportant things. Silence is golden especially when you don’t have it. I have an aversion to diarrhea of the mouth.

There are many things I feel strongly about. Mistreatment of animals can send me over the edge. They have no voice to say they are being abused or neglected. How we care for our planet is another big one. I am an organic gardener composting all our green waste. My son is thrilled with all the holes I’ve dug in his yard. I kill weeds and unwanted grasses with hot water and vinegar. Works like a charm.

Education shouldn’t stop when you get out of high school. Although college was not an option for me for many reasons, I believe in continued self-education. Books are too easy to come by and all of you are there to explain if I don’t understand something on my own. Learning is the most important thing in my life. I always said if I don’t learn something new each day, just close the lid because I must be dead.

Life is good and I have nothing to whine about except that I have no one to drink a glass of wine with. My son doesn’t drink and I refuse to drink alone. Where did he come from? He couldn’t have come from this German who had beer in a baby bottle. So I will move on to other subjects more often than not. Writing is at the top of my list right now. I was making up limericks for class at 4:00 in the morning on the notebook that lives in my bed. I didn’t even know what a limerick was till last week. Maybe I’ll even learn to write poetry. Short and to the point poetry.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of a Good Mother

On this Mother’s Day weekend I want to wish all of you who are mothers a great, love filled day. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world as well as the most rewarding. On the other side of the coin, it can also be the most heartbreaking.

Mothers’ Day brings up so many emotions for many of us. If our child or children don’t acknowledge us on that day does it mean we were not a good mother? What is it that makes a good mother? I can remember in the early years of my first marriage, the greatest insult my husband could hurl at me was to proclaim “You are just like your mother”. Then the fight was really on.

I had a very difficult relationship with my own mother for far too many years. I was so grateful that our relationship was finally mended long before her passing. Mom was raised in Germany while Hitler was in power and had all the warmth and nurturing ability of a rock. But was she a good mother? Absolutely! I made certain to let her know. What I received from her was a desire to do it differently with my children. To balance the strength and independence she instilled in us with love and compassion. I probably already mentioned that when I was 10 I started looking for my adoption papers being certain that these people couldn’t possibly be my real parents. I think lots of kids feel that way growing up. Mom used to threaten me when I had done something to upset her that she was going to send me away to boarding school. I kept wondering what it was I had done so wrong and how could I do it again. I’d have my bags pack in a heartbeat. I think it took the wind out of her sails that I was looking forward to being sent away. Moms, don’t make idle threats. I know I drove her nuts and when my daughter went through adolescence, yup, she got even with me. Nothing new under these stars.

I’ve apologized to my children many times for my inadequacies as a parent. Mom didn’t have a book of directions that came with the four of us and I didn’t get one with my kids. There are no directions. We are flying by the seat of our pants. I used a lot of tough love and hugs. Mom couldn’t hug till she was quite advanced in years and you could tell she was uncomfortable but stretching herself. Dad didn’t hug either so they were a matched set. Mom created in me strength so many only wish they had. I shine in emergencies, never getting rattled until the crisis is over. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have seen every kind of mother imaginable. We’ve all seen the over-indulgent, permissive moms. Thank goodness I didn’t get one of those. I’d rather have the rock, thank you very much. Then there are the moms with a mean streak a mile wide who are totally overwhelmed by parenthood and lash out with a loud slap or an arm grab and shake. They didn’t get a how-to book either and were probably raised the same way so that’s what they know to do. I’ve met moms who love enough to let their child go to a family that’s better able to care for their child. I have also met moms who gave away or used their children for the price of a fix. When you look back at their history, no one seemed equipped to be a parent.

So how do you tell if you are a good mom? Well, I guess if your children are willing to let you live with them while recovering from a long-term illness, that’s a good sign. This Bells Palsy of mine has tested all my relationships. I am fortunate that both my children and my sister who was a child of my heart have all stepped up willingly to help me heal. They have been there for me through 2 divorces as well. They are strong, independent thinkers with huge hearts and always give it to me straight just like I gave it to them growing up. I don’t need anything else to know I’m wished a happy mother’s day. I was able to be there for my mother and I miss that rock every single day. I think I also found the book. It was in my heart all along and there was a happy ending.

From my heart to yours,

Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

In Search of a New Identity

My thought is there comes some point in each person’s life where they want to re-invent themselves. It may be when the status quo simply doesn’t work for you anymore. Usually, it comes on the heels of a major change in life. For many of us it comes with the change of a relationship or a change in work or health status.

I’ve never had a clear definition of who I am. When you start out in life refereeing parental fights from the time you could stand, to changing, feeding and disciplining your siblings as they came along, the definition of who you are is laid out for you. That was my definition of myself for more than 45 years. Then the care giving shifted to aging parents and as always, the spouse.
Now the parents, children and spouses no longer need care giving . So that leaves me in a quandary. Who am I without those roles? I never had the time or opportunity to make plans for this situation. I also never expected to be so debilitated by Bells Palsy that I would need my children’s help at this early age. This isn’t how I expected life to go.

While in high school, I finished cosmetology school and eventually got a license. My parents were convinced I wasn’t college material because of my vision limitations. Hairdressing just needed a strong body. Never mind that I didn’t have passion or real aptitude for it. I was a good student and my mother never paid for a haircut again. But my first husband found it humiliating to be married to a hairdresser so I was not allowed the money to renew my license or to work in that field. Don’t you just long for the good old days.

At some point when my children were young, I went to the adult school to study typing and shorthand while they were in school. I was adequate but not excellent. At the end of the course, I could not lift my right arm. Shorthand was not physically possible for me to produce. Wow! How can you not be able to take shorthand? Next I studied color consulting and I definitely had passion for that. I could help people reflect their own personality with colors and styles that suited them individually. Unfortunately I had no self-confidence. I couldn’t sell myself to people for something I believed in so deeply. After moving to a remote location where there was no shopping and few cared about their own self-expression through style, I let that dream go. It still creeps in when I’m in a store and see someone try on something that either looks hideous on them or would be stunning should they choose it. Along with the dream of happily ever after, all my dreams and definitions of who I am vanished into the ethers.

So now what do I do? I do not want to be defined by this debilitating illness of Bells Palsy. I still get the comments from strangers that “it goes away pretty quickly doesn’t it”. I’m thinking 26 months and counting isn’t quickly.
So how does one come up with a new identity? Who do I want to be? What a rare opportunity I have. Lots of questions, only a few answers. I went shopping one day with my daughter and saw a dress that reflected part of the person I see in my mind’s eye. Now, I don’t wear dresses anymore. I usually work too hard for dresses and I have to wear sensible shoes that just don’t look good with dresses. But the style helped let me see part of who I want to become. So what needs to change? I cut my hair after my first divorce and am looking for a new style once again. Now I need something low-cost to maintain. Pigtails under a brim hat would be an interesting look for a woman of advanced age, wouldn’t it?

I’ve read every self-help book out there and they all say go back to the happy place when you were a kid. Well folks, I was never a kid. I’m learning to become one. I bought myself toys to play with like sewing machines, computers, a droid cellphone and lots of fabric and craft supplies. They were an experiment to see what felt good. Music was something I found later in life as well. I’m the appreciator of music, not the producer.

A new identity requires more than new looks. It may require an attitude adjustment. What kind of attitude do I want to have? I have always wanted to be perceived as friendly with a good sense of humor. Somehow, only droll comes through.Here is where I’d insert a smiley face if I could. I think I inherited my mothers dry German humor. In my heart I feel quite witty.

Life with all it’s turns and tumbles shape us. I’m hoping it made me softer and kinder. How does one become the person they want the world to see? How does one find that person that is only in their imagination? Where is that person that doesn’t need a cane to walk and drives a car with a real smile on their face. I’m open to suggestions.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of My Power

I just realized that after 26 years, I’m back to square one. I’m once again divorced. I really did not want that more than anyone can imagine. I wanted the fairy tale. It looked like I had it most days. Then once in a while I would wake up and look around and say to myself, “I sold out”. Yup, that’s what I did. Finally 25 months ago this illness (Bells Palsy) woke me with a sledge-hammer. After over 2 years, it’s still pounding on me to wake up and get with it.

My brain has never worked exceedingly well for a variety of reasons. I won’t explain because it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead. I have worked around that to some degree by having a large portion of common sense. Intuition helps me a great deal when I listen to it. It’s the listening part that usually trips me up. I’ve given meditation a half-hearted try on numerous occasions but always find a walk or working in the yard, when I have one to work in, are more meditative than sitting. I’m a list maker and quiet time releases very long lists. But I haven’t given up on the sitting, breathing meditation. It seems to work best if I do it before I have my coffee.

I guess my point here is that my life feels like it’s moved to the outhouse. It started out tough enough then just did the roller coaster thing. Lives can be viewed from many different perspectives. Anywhere I look, I see tougher and supposedly easier lives than mine but right this minute, from my vantage point, I’m in the outhouse. It is indeed not in the cardboard box under the bridge. Heck, I have computer access, what more could a person need? That access keeps me going forward if I let it. I also have with me some of the books that have always been my lifeline.

Growing up in a generation that said children should be seen and not heard taught us that only others could decide what was best for us. If we had a thought, it was dismissed as worthless and useless. So was it any wonder that I would choose to partner with men who were dismissive of me. Worse still, I agreed with them and continued to allow it. So here I am at retirement age with nothing to retire from or with and my health compromised. I made some serious mistakes but it’s not too late. Now comes the time to find out of what stuff I’m really made. It’s time to take back My Power. When things hit the fan, I always allow myself 10 minutes on the pity pot and then I have to pull myself together and come up with a plan.

So what do I do to get my power back? First I have to stop giving it away. Then care enough about myself to restore my health. Intuition and common sense say no wellness and no quality of life come from eating too much of anything. I finally started listening while I’m meditating. So the food has cleaned up once again but not with as much rigidness this time. And I’m walking more again. Even without the dog. Yes, my knees hurt so I take a pain reliever. So far the cane has kept me from falling when my balance fails me.

I have daily motivational e-mails from Daily Om, Neale Donald Walsh, Abraham Hicks, Nightingale-Conant and Mike Dooley’s notes from the Universe. They start my day after I click on the Animal Rescue Site to donate a cup of food for strays. My life is better than theirs so I want to pay it forward in a way that only requires moments. Then I usually get a giggle or something thought-provoking from one of my e-mail friends or family. I get lots of e-mails about all the writing courses out there I can’t yet take advantage of but save for some time in the future. I’m assuming there is a future for me.

I have set the EX and his family’s phone numbers to go automatically to voice mail. That means I get to choose when to have that conversation and have my support in place before being attacked. Lessening exposure to toxic people is a beginning. Then I watch my own toxic thinking and speaking. Thoughts as well as words can carry a powerful impact. I can express my disappointment without character assassination. I didn’t do it with the first divorce and I will not do it now. I’m thinking the EX must be running out of pins to stick into my voodoo doll because I’m starting to get better. Soon, I know it will be soon as long as I watch my stress levels and my thoughts.

I had considered taking a writing class at the community college when it occurred to me that an instructor may decide I’m really not good at this and I would most likely quit. That would again be giving my power away. Interesting how things light up when you pay attention. I’ll have to be very careful with that now that I’m aware. I’m open to all ideas of how to find my own power and how you found yours. We are all in this together, even the EX’s.

From my heart to yours,