My Life as a Movie

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I’m quite impressionable.  I pay attention to people-their actions, mannerisms, facial expressions, if they are quiet or loud, smiling or frowning, pleasant to be around, or obnoxious.  I listen to what people say, too.  Are they foul-mouthed, eloquent, down-to-earth, kind, rude, or just plain detached?  I find it takes all kinds.

As I watch and listen, without fail I compare my own actions and words to theirs. I know how I want to be as a human in this world, but how do I really measure up?  I’m drawn to earthy, real, authentic, and inherently happy people.  I hope that I fit in with them, as I take their lead.  I want to be true to myself, to love myself as I am, at my age, with my looks, my body, to pursue my ideals and hopes and dreams no matter if they are anyone else’s.

Sometimes I contemplate the details of what I see and hear, and I find myself fading into a movie scene.  The genius of Ed Sheeran is playing in the background, I’ll Be Loving You.  I’m driving along the 101 Rincon with the windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, sun shining brightly on the ocean, reflecting pure blue as deep as the water itself.

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My tiny house is in tow, migrating from the last location in the hills, getting ready for winter.  Once I reach my destination on the beach I’ll set up home, start a fire, get the soup on, and hunker down for the night.  I’m alone, but I’m okay with that…or so I tell myself.  After all, I’ve been alone for years.

The fire is warm as I relax in my chair and listen to the waves.

Flashbacks come one after another. Golden-blond little girl sitting on the bathroom counter while Dad shaves before work; 12-year-old 8th grader, shy, closed off, wearing khaki long skirts and army boots just hoping to stay in the background yet somehow be noticed by the cute boy playing soccer on the field; pregnant sophomore, isolated, walking around the block in the dark at night so no one will see her as she gets exercise for the baby she will give to another family; crazy in college, drinking way too much yet graduating with honors, many boyfriends, feeling sick, wanting to die; 25 and in recovery; married at 30, pregnant again in the best of times, hopeful for all that is to come; 8 years later, divorced and starting over; single mom, strong, resilient, working out to You Tube videos and reading books on parenting teenagers.

The waves provide solace.  My tiny house sits tucked in its space, glowing lamplight and grinning. I push the flashbacks aside and grab my guitar. Immediately the mood changes. I switch to Miranda and sing the Airstream Song.

“Mom!  Mom!! What’s for dinner?  Guess what happened at school today, so much drama…”

I’m quite impressionable, but I also want to leave a good impression, to be the example. It’s important, critical even.  So, taking the happy lead from my observations I answer,

“Spaghetti, and tell me all about it.”

I love movies, and it’s sad when the good ones end.  Luckily, there are more to come.

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

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4 Months of Grey

My daughter is a teenager now-13.  She loves school, is a good student, and is highly involved with her peers.  Between homework, social media chats, and staring in the mirror there isn’t much time for Mom these days-unless she needs a ride somewhere or to let off some moody hormonal steam.  I get it, I do.  I was there once, right?  Well, kind of-maybe a couple years later, but I got there eventually-eventually I got moody and stared in the mirror, too.  I know I did, eventually.  I know.

Either way, I have quite a few more free hours in the evening after work than I had even a year ago.  Because it’s just me and her, and with her in her bedroom behind closed doors, it’s just me.  Well, me and the dog and cats and bunny, but regardless of the occasional barking outburst or cat fight, the conversation in the house is quiet.

I never understood why or how people get into binge-watching television programs…not until I had to cancel my satellite subscription to save money several months ago.  Upon doing so, I purchased a Firestick to plug into the back of my TV.  It was magic, pure magic.  I quickly learned how to link my Netflix and Hulu accounts to this amazing little stick, and instantly fell in love with “Alexa”.  Alexa, someone to talk to, who gave me exactly what I asked for, immediately and without argument or attitude.  Bliss.

At first, I felt a bit lost.  What do I watch now? What’s out there?  How does this really work? I browsed many titles and thought about trying new shows, like Netflix or Hulu originals.  The TV world was my oyster!  So much to see and see and see…I could go anywhere, watch anything, learn stuff, travel, reminisce and watch Happy Days or Ally McBeal or The Brady Bunch. But, my eye kept going back to one place.  Evening after evening I tried to deny it; I don’t know what I was afraid of, honestly.

Alexa, find Grey’s Anatomy”. Season 1, Episode 1.  It seemed harmless enough.  A time warp back to the days when we were younger-the actors and myself-and anything seemed possible.  I’d never known how it all began-I’d never had the time to know, or to watch, or to get enveloped in the tangled lives of these characters.  Meredith, Cristina, Derek, Alex, Callie, Arizona, Miranda, Dr. Webber…oh my gosh.  What had I been missing?!

One episode turned into 3 in one night-to the point of my eyes crossing and burning just trying to stay open for another 45-minute stint.  Day after day I couldn’t wait until dinner was over so I could hunker down and see what happens next.  All of my questions answered-year after year, disaster after disaster, so much revealed with the click of the “Next Episode” button!

I cried when they cried, laughed at their jokes in the basement (as if they could hear me), felt pain and suffering for and with them.  The break-ups, the catastrophes, the plane crash, the shooting, the car crashes, the joy, the exhilaration of friendship and passion and love.  Everything every night for pennies to the dollar in my house and at my disposal with popcorn in my lap.

It hit me:

OH, MY, GOSH!  I’m a binge-watcher!  I’m one of THOSE people!  I’m weird!  I’m sad!  I’m a loner!  I have no life!  I live vicariously through television actors! I’m pathetic!  I’ve crossed the line!  I need therapy!  No wonder my daughter keeps shaking her head and closing her door in embarrassment!

And, then, the beauty of being 44 also hit me:

I DON’T CARE!

“Alexa, find Grey’s Anatomy.” Season 1, Episode 12.

Life is short, especially in a TV medical drama, so give a chuckle.  You never know…Meredith might be chuckling, too.

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

Welcome Back!

If my blog were human, and if I had knocked on the door of my blog’s house, and it answered my knock and opened the front door, this is what would be happening right now…

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!  I have MISSED you SOOOOOOO much! Look at YOU!  You’re HERE!  You’re YOU!  Let me give you a hug!  Ohhhhhhh yooooouuuuuu!  I can’t believe I get to SEE you again!  It’s been WAY too LONG!

Yep, I’m a gusher.  I’m mushy.  I get emotional when I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.  I’m a hugger.  I’m a smiler.  I’m not a joker, smoker, or midnight toker, but I’m definitely all of the other things I just mentioned.  And, for goodness sakes, I haven’t written a blog post for over a year.  So, I am happy to be here, wrapped in its proverbial arms, welcomed back, and offered a seat on the couch to chat.

Where have I been? What on earth happened that would cause such a disappearance, such abandonment?  Well, a whole heck of a lot to be quite honest.  It’ll all come out…one piece at a time.  More will be revealed, and the truth will be told.  Luckily, not now, not immediately in one big long grammatically incorrect run-on paragraph-like sentence.  Geez.  I don’t want to lose the one or two readers who may be reading right now after such an extended hiatus.  I’m mushy-gushy, not stupid.  At least, not always.

I will say this, I am back, Dear Blog.  I am back.  And, I look forward to catching up and moving forward.  Ya Big Lug…

I’ve missed you soooooooo much!

Life is short, so give a chuckle.

 

 

Crying “Uncle!”

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Empire theory says, Roman children, when beset by a bully, would be forced to say the Latin phrase, “Patrue, mi Patruissimo,” or, “Uncle, my best Uncle,” in order to surrender and be freed.

Common, Kid, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.

I’ve learned over these single parenting years, especially, not to be ashamed when I hit a brick wall.  I mean, everyone hits them…that place where, left to our own devices, no clear path presents itself.  I usually have to hit the same wall a few times, no, maybe several times, befor I cry “Uncle!”

“Patrue, mi Patruissimo!”

As my daughter approaches her teen years, I find myself continually perplexed by my parenting inconsistencies.  One minute things are fabulous, and I’m sledding smoothly down the hills of Mt. Pinos, the next minute Mt. Everest shows up, and I lack any sort of mountain climbing skills.  Yesterday I was singing “Riser” by Derks Bentley, and today I’m a Yahoo News headline: Single mom drowns in a sea of tween drama.

I can be calm, cool, and collected, and in ten seconds switch to screaming, ranting Mommy Dearest.

All it takes is one trigger, one button push, one hot spot (and I don’t mean AT & T).

Whoa, Nelly, I didn’t ask for this!

I’ve also learned through various trials that, typically, it’s what I’m doing that is the biggest part of the problem. I whole-heartedly believe in looking in the mirror. No, I’m not taking full blame for every attitudinal tantrum or smart remark made by my pre-teen, but I am willingly admitting that when I step outside myself and take a deep breath, I usually mitigate the situation.

I’m the adult. I’m the one who’s lived the life, been a kid, been an adolescent, teenager, 20-something, etc, etc, etc.  I have the experiences of decades to remind me of the turmoil and trials that pervade these developing years.  Sure, I can tout, “Well, that’s just the way it is.  We’ll get through it.   We all survive and turn out okay.”  Fairly true, but as y’all probably know by now, that’s not my style.

Case in point…with horses in training, the more you force them to do something they don’t want to do, the more they plain and simple will not do it.  Sound familiar?  See any correlation?  On the contrary…as soon as a horse believes that what you’d like him to do is actually his idea in the first place, it happens.  Sure, it might take more than one try, one baby step at a time (usually it does), but it does indeed happen and in a much nicer fashion than, “I said do this!  Do it now, dag-gummit!”

Now you’re gettin’ it.  Good job!

Not that my daughter should be compared to a horse (although, I don’t think she’d mind, knowing how much she loves them), but I am at a place where I’m asking myself, “What on earth am I thinking?  Why am I acting like this?  What can I do to change myself and to help us both along?”

I’ve been so frustrated trying to make my kid do what I want her to do (basically, I want her to do things just like me, duh), with ZERO REWARD, instead of looking for a different path.  Brick walls abound, and I am humbled by the ever-present realization that my way is not the only way or the necessary way, and her way may be different but equally worthy and sufficient for success.

So, I am embarking on some parenting research to help me cope with my own insecurities and fear and to help guide me through these unchartered waters.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today by Ian Leighton, a renowned horse trainer, which says this:

I wonder what it is about some people that find unpleasantness rewarding.
I can’t think of an animal that thinks that way.

I do not find unpleasantness rewarding, and I know that my kiddo doesn’t either.  I will not settle for things “just being” because of her age and my inexperience as a pre-teen parent.

I ordered book on Amazon called Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens by Laura S. Kastner.  Her parenting techniques go along with the “Mindfulness” movement.  I reviewed the book and scanned the intro, and it completely hit home.  When I read the following statistic, As of 2010 more than nine million families with children under the age of eighteen were being maintained by single mothers, I knew this person had done her research and was going to address things from a real world perspective-not a glorified, shiny, “quick fix” perspective.  Not only will I have the book for reference, but there is an online community to reach out to for support through the author’s website, entitled the same.

We will see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I already feel hopeful by taking this step.  And, I have faith that while there will be ups and downs, they will certainly be better than hitting brick walls.

Mom may not always get it right, but she’ll always love you.

Have any of you had to cry “Uncle!” with your kids?  If so, what measures did you take at that point to encourage positive change?  Please share!

Life is short…too short not to chuckle about the journey, so c’mon, give it a try. Oh, and thanks, Google, for the awesome photos!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

More Than Surviving

I just received a new follower to my blog, and when the notice came to my inbox, I admit I was super pleased!  My little blog is still alive and kicking even though I’ve neglected it in the worst of ways for the past three months.  Oh, my gosh, and WordPress has changed things, too.  At first I shuddered, but now I appreciate how easy it is to maneuver!

In addition to the other fall festivities, I moved Chief to a new home where I can spend more time with him!

This was my first harvest working in my new role as a vineyard technician, and thus, my first harvest running what is affectionately called “The Sugar Shack” where we test all of the grapes for their acid and sugar levels prior to being picked.  Yes…ALL OF THE GRAPES, covering approximately 1,600 acres plus of fruit over 12 ranches, traversing the rows via quads and trucks to pick and crush bucket-fulls by the dozens each day for two solid months.  And, with record breaking heat, many of those days were spent in triple digit temps-unheard of for the Central Coast.

I never get tired of harvest.  Ever.

In conjunction with harvest, this year my daughter joined AYSO soccer for the first time as a newbie U-12.  One of my dearest barn buddies offered to coach her team and take her to practices, so how on earth could I say “No”???  Every single Saturday from August through November I played the soccer mom role, and also ended up being the steadfast snack bar gal before several games, as no other parent stepped up to help.  Maycee LOVED playing soccer, and while I LOVED that she LOVED it, the season seemed never-ending, and lord knows I was one tired mom.

First-time soccer kid!

Through this busy-ness I realized something very important, however.  No longer was I simply surviving my life.  No longer was I so exhausted (at least not 24/7) that I couldn’t enjoy the harvest or enjoy the Saturday soccer games.  Once upon an earlier time, say about five years ago, this was not the case.  I often began each morning dreading the hours ahead, sometimes feeling as if my feet were made of lead, and putting one in front of the other appeared fruitless for the catastrophes to come.

Harvest was a blast being in and around all of the hustle and bustle for the first time, and soccer was a budding new experience (for both me and Maycee).  Balance was fleeting during the past few months, but as the dust settled, the balance returned.

Patience.

In a chaotic world in a country that thrives on instant gratification, the history of my single mom years has proven that patience and perseverance are key.  The old addage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” rings true.  Sure, rough things happen, as well.  But, this is the seesaw of living.  Keeping the faith when the mountain seems insurmountable is crucial.  I know, and we all know, that life can change on a dime.  Never once did self-pity project me forward into positive outcome.

I took this photo while I was filling my car with gas.  Here these ducks were, waiting patiently.  Not sure for what, but, nonetheless….

I’m a single mother.  I’ve been a single mom since 2008.  I didn’t want to be a single mom.  I didn’t choose this path, but it was laid before me.  In the beginning I fought it, about a third of the way in (to present) I truly surrendered.  Now I look back and feel gratitude for the struggle, for the scary moments, for the strength that came from nowhere, for each piece arrived me here today.  Those who helped me along the way gave me hope and heart not only for my own situation but for humanity.

When it feels like you’re hitting a wall, all it means is you need to change direction.

And, to those who said, “You can’t do this (to many different this’s)!” I retorted, “Yes, I can!”  I did and I will.

So, thank you to all who read here and to my latest follower who inspired me to share once again.

Remember: life is short, and time is a-wastin’, so give a chuckle and don’t give up!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

Smiles and Waves (Yes, I’m alive and well!)

What kind of person are you?  Are you the kind that smiles and waves first or the kind that waits….waits to see if the other person sees you first….waits to see what he or she will do…Will he wave at me?  Will she smile?

I’m the kind of person who looks right at you, smiles, and waves.  No waiting.

I’m known for it here at work, especially now that I traverse the vineyards.  Irrigators, foremen, field workers, they all get the same-a big smile and wave.  Whether on my quad or in my truck I don’t wait, and I don’t hesitate.

It took some of our guys a little while to realize I was going to do this whether they waved back or not.  Now….they all wave back…and many of them also smile or tip their hats.  When they pass by me it’s almost like they look forward to it.

And during the busiest time of the year when stress is high and the days are long, it’s the best feeling in the world to get that response.  My heart grows fonder of these vineyards and this process day by day by day, this, my 7th year in the harvest season.

I miss you all, as I have not had time to read or write-until just this very moment.  I’m working ten-hour days and still pulling three nights a week at the horse barn, as well.  The kiddo is in soccer now, which happens Monday and Wednesday nights and every Saturday.  School is in full swing, and Maycee is a BIG 6TH GRADER.

I’m breathing one breath at a time and enjoying the excitement of keeping up in my new job.  Before I know it, the unending Mondays turn into Fridays, but I wouldn’t trade my position as both single mom and vineyard technician for anything.

In the meanwhile, I hope all my blogging buddies are doing great!  I’ll be peaking in when I can and back at it more regularly in a couple of months as the season winds down.

Remember, life is short, so be a smiler and a waver-don’t wait, don’t hesitate.  You’ll make someone’s day!

XOXO,

SWM

Pop Tarts & Coffee

I guess I could have titled this post “Candy & Soda Pop”, too.

Hiya, All!

I have a post waiting in the wings (actually, on my laptop waiting to be moved to a flash drive so I can put it on here) that explains where I’ve been the past couple of months.

To preface, I have been diligently scouting the vineyards as we inch closer and closer to harvest.  This job change has been the best thing I could have asked for and received at this juncture in my life.  Being outside on a regular basis and in and amongst nature has fulfilled me in a way I never could have imagined had the Universe suggested it personally many moons ago.

My “office”.

But, on top of being one busy single mom working two physically demanding (at times) jobs, I’ve had quite a few thoughts rolling through my mind that I figured I would share just because I can.

For instance, Maycee is growing up too fast.  TOO FAST.  She is testing make-up as soon as I turn my back, she prefers “laying out” to building sand castles on the beach.  She would rather stay home during summer break than go to the B & G Club and play “kiddie” games.  And, she is asking me way too many grown-uppy questions that make me want to crawl into a rabbit hole, even though I woman-up and answer them because it’s important to be open about these things.  Oh, and let’s not forget Instagramming and the fact that she receives requests from boys that were “just friends” last year in good ol’ 5th grade who now would like her to QUOTE-UNQUOTE date them because they will be entering 6th grade soon.  You know what that means?  If you do, please message me because I don’t see the difference from two months of summer, darn it.

Okay, the good news I’ve been pondering related to the previous paragraph is this: my budding pre-teen has informed me she is grateful her mom has had a crappy life when it comes to men! Ha!  Not that she is glad her mom endured a lot of heartache, but she IS glad I’ve shared everything from my past (to a degree) with her so that she knows not to make the same mistakes.  Back pedal, back pedal, back pedal.  Truth be told, I am an open book for a reason, and the reason is crystal clear based upon these rapidly developing situations.  She also has informed me that she thinks “dating” in grade school is “stupid” (agreed), and while she likes boys, she is not interested in following this peer-pressure-induced concept.

*Proud mom smiles.*

That’s right, honey, you just focus on your horse and all those ribbons!

Speaking of my crappy love-life, in a mind-blowing weak moment back in late spring I decided to re-open my Match account.  What was I thinking?!?!?!  Two years later, two years older, and one short-haircut into newfound freedom here’s what I’ve experienced: tragic humiliation with a capital HHHHHH.  Let me be clear that if it were not for the wonderful [married] male friends I have who prove that decent men exist on the planet, I would lose complete faith in the opposite sex.   Stomach-curdling only partially describes many of the profiles I’ve read.

Jimbob, 45-year-old man seeking 22-year old woman.  I’m athletic and toned and work out 8 days a week, consume 100 calories a day, and only drink to oblivion once in a while.  I’m not interested in a NSA (No Sex Allowed) relationship, so if that’s you-do not message me.  Oh, and speaking of messaging, because I am the most awesomest man on the planet, I’d rather we just meet in person and skip the messaging because if you are anything less than a Taylor Swift look-a-like, you are not worthy of my time.  Thanks, and best of luck, 40-something, short-haired single working mom-you’ll need it!

Match.com stinks.  Totally stinks. Half-way through my esteem-busting 3-month membership I stopped looking.  I had to remind myself of the definition of insanity…”Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

My Match.com profile pic. Nope, no resemblance to Taylor. Shoot! Well, just bring me another Pop Tart, then!

 

SWM+Online Dating=Insanity.

Ahhhhh, back to my new old self, again.

Let’s focus on the actual love of my life.

You guessed it.

Chieeeeeef!

Yes, I have been loving my horse.   Loving, loving, loving!  I’ve taken to singing songs while I ride.   I think Chief likes it.  He seems to walk in time.  One of my favorite songs to sing is to the tune of Macho Man, only I sing Macho Chief.  You can hear me now, right?  “Ma-cho, ma-cho, Chief….You’ve got-ta be….a Macho Chief!”  Maycee is mortified when I do this, only making it that much sweeter.

We went horse camping and rode trails up rocks and the edge of mountains, and along (dry) riverbeds.  My kiddo and I are riding together, even.  TOGETHER.  Without discourse.  It has been exhilarating, and I have so much gratitude for the two horses we were given and for the riding journey we are traveling.  It is mind-boggling-at the very least- considering from where we came over the last several years.

I’ll be heading up Maycee’s 4-H Horse group this year, too.  Say what?! I know, I know…I don’t have enough on my plate, really.  And, the kid will be starting AYSO for the first time in August.  4-H leader and a soccer mom?  Goodie!  Maybe I’ll learn to referee the games just so I can wear one of the bright yellow referee outfits.  Hmmmm, that sounds like a grrrrreat idea!

So, I’m back in writing action for a little while in between bug hunting, checking grapes,  mucking stalls, and trying to get a little summer beach action.  Once harvest arrives, I will disappear again, but for now, I’m going to enjoy hitting the keys, eating Pop Tarts, and drinking coffee.

After all, I know I don’t have to worry about getting a date.

[Wink!]

Single and content. See that lady behind me? All I’m missing is the umbrella!

Life is short, folks, so be happy, sing a song, and don’t blink lest your 2-year-old becomes a soon-to-be 6th grader.

Love, hugs, and chuckles!

XOXO,

SWM