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

 

 

 

 

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9 Days

“What!?! I’m going to Dad’s for 9 days?!  9 WHOLE DAYS?!”

As winter break ensued two weeks ago for the school district, as always, I had to make plans for my daughter’s long three week vacation.  And, as always, I secured one week off for the holidays to spend with her, but the other two remained up for grabs.  Unlike always, this year her dad received a full two weeks off from work.  With visits few and far between for Maycee and him, we agreed that since he had her for Christmas this year, he would keep her through New Year’s Eve, and I would pick her up on New Year’s Day.

Maycee considered this carefully. “Mom, how many days is that?”

“I think it’s about 9 days.” (I knew it was exactly 9 days.)

“MOM, THAT’S NINE DAYS…NINE DAYS!!!!”  The caps do not emphasize excitement and jubilation, just sayin’.

That said, it was not intended as Christmas coal….it was intended to be a time for both Maycee and her dad to be together.  Never during the course of the past 8 years of separation and divorce has her dad spent more than 3 days with her.  In fact, a typical visit every 6 to 8 weeks consists of about 32 hours.  It was time….time for Maycee to grin and bear it, time for her dad to step up, and time for me to get a break.

Even in winter rain and cold, no rest for the weary!

For 9 days.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas two days early.  It was a wonderful time spent with makeshift family (friends), and besides the dates being slightly off, one would never had known it wasn’t actually Christmas.  Santa came and everything (Yes, I still believe.)

Welcome, Finn, our newest furry family member.

On the “real” Christmas Eve I traveled to Southern Cali to drop off my bewildered child at her dad’s house….new bunny in tow, at least.  I kissed and hugged her good-bye, telling her to make the most of it all and to have fun and enjoy some much-needed down time. I ventured to my mom’s for the evening, Day 1, then home on Christmas Day-Day 2.

Over the years being without my daughter on Christmas has not gotten easier.  There is something melancholy that sinks down deep.  It was quiet.  The drive was quiet. My home was quiet.  I decided to keep my shift at the barn and work, which at least took up some of the afternoon and evening.  Settling in later under a warm blanket I felt really alone, although I knew that wasn’t the case.

One quick message from Maycee before bed…Christmas was fine, but long day and boring.  Love you, Mom.

Day 3

Text messages flooded the cell phone waves.

Mom, I am SO BORED.  I’m watching TV in my room and playing on my phone.  I already played with the bunny.  Dad isn’t feeling well.  This is terrible.

I felt a little bit of terrible, too, only because the loneliness was still heavy in my heart.  I reponded with a positive

Well, it’s good to do nothing sometimes.  It’s only been a couple of days, so cheer up.

I proceeded to take my own advice and stay in my jammies for half the day before working at the barn again.  I cannot remember the last time I stayed in bed watching movies until noon.  Many, many, MANY years ago-if EVER.  Then I got to ride a new horse at our barn, Traveler.  He was such a good boy!

What a cutie…Don’t worry, Chief, it’s only temporary.

After work I went on a dinner date with my neighbor, who’s been trying to kindle a relationship with me the past few months.  It was nice.  I began to feel my loneliness subsiding and my freedom reaching the surface.

Day 4

Mom, I wanna come home.  I am so bored. I miss my horse.  I’m WASTING MY VACATION here!

Maycee, you will have to deal with this. I’m sorry.  It’s either stay there or go to winter camp, which I know you don’t want to do.

Fine. It’s okay. I’m just mad.

REALLY? 

I cleaned up Christmas stuff, did laundry, took the dog for a much-deserved long walk, worked at the barn again, and went to dinner with my bff-another “me” thing I wanted to do.  Grown-up girl time.

As a single mom living away from family, it is rare that I am not with my kid.  Now that she is getting older she spends more time with friends, has sleepovers once in awhile, but typically those sleepovers are at our house. She rides her horse on her own when we are at the barn and likes to do her own thing there without my hovering.  In general, with child, I have more freedom now, certainly, than I did when she was younger.

But, true freedom to just be me, seperate from the mom-me, to do a few things I enjoy on my own, to be meditative, watch tv shows I enjoy, splurge on dinners out, or go to grown-up movies is a small gift.  A necessary one, in my opinion, for I believe we are better mothers the more we harness who we are individually.

2015-a wonderfully busy year!

Day 5

Back to work I went, and I was glad.  I love my work, love the people there, love my job, love my routine.  That evening I simply stayed home, bundled up, and watched my newly installed Netflix after chatting for a couple of hours with my roommate who returned after the holidays.

“I wondered how you were handling Maycee being gone, ” she said.  “It’s such a long time.”

“Yeah, takes me a couple of days to get used to it…and, this IS the longest she has ever gone for a visit.  I think it’s good, though….good for both of us.”

Maycee and I also talked on the phone,

“I am so tired of screens, Mom!  I am tired of looking at my phone and watching tv A LOT, so I  decided to get busy while dad slept this morning.  I washed and put away the dishes and cleaned the house, and then we went out to return some stuff.”

“Wow, way to go, kiddo!  How nice of you to do that and a great idea to occupy your time being helpful!”

I was beaming inside, proud of my girl for taking the reigns, so-to-speak.

Day 6

Movie night!  Freedom mode was in full swing. I invited my neighbor to join me for a movie after work, which just happened to be playing at the old theater in town, my favorite.

JOY

I related to Joy so much…minus becoming a superstar and financially wealthy.

Day 7

Tonight after work and the barn I will go shopping for a belated Christmas gift for my neighbor.  I asked him during our dinner on Day 3 what he got for Christmas, and he said, “Nothing.”  Oh, this made me so sad.  I decided right then I was getting him something.  Everyone deserves a gift at Christmastime!

Maycee is spending the day with my mom and step-dad, and taking a riding lesson with an instructor I know down south.  I am sure she is having a wonderful day, hallelujah.

Maycee gets to ride Tango for her first jumping lesson!  Woohoo!

Day 8

New Year’s Eve.

I have a date.  With my neighbor….again.  But, I HAVE A DATE.

Let Freedom ring!!!!!!!!

I haven’t gone out or done anything besides watch Time Square on tv for several years, celebrating with Martinelli’s and seeing if Maycee makes it to midnight (longest she has made it is 11:15).

This will be interesting and fun–dinner out and live music in a little seaside town.  Holy cow, I have no idea what to think, except, what should I wear?  Oh, ya, jeans and boots…that’s all I own! E.A.S.Y.

Day 9

New Year’s Day.

I will pick Maycee up, and while I’m already grateful for the time I’ve had alone, I am also grateful to be the mom of one special young lady who I miss tremendously.  Who year after year, traded holidays or not, makes every struggle or stumble worth it.

Once home the world will be right again.  Maycee will forget she had rough patches, I will forget I needed a break.  Life will return to normal as we embark on 2016.

Nine days have certainly been good reminders about the role I love and hold dearly: Single Working Mom.  Nine days have reminded me I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for anything.

Nine days have reminded me of the myriad of blessings I experience ad infinitum.

Maycee has stopped the mad texting about 9 days.  It has been hard to stay steadfast in the plan, hard not to rescue her from being unhappy in the moment, knowing that while she may be unhappy, she is not unsafe or uncared for-she is loved.

As much as I like to believe this break was a good lesson for my kid, it was most definitely a good lesson for me, and that, Readers, is a win-win!

So, plan for breaks, take some needed time for yourselves, and welcome in the New Year with NEW HOPES AND DREAMS.  And, don’t forget to give a chuckle!

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Getting honest about being single

On a trail ride with my friend (I’m in the rear). Freedom!

I’m coming up on a year since I made the decision to cut out dating from my life.  The resolution came after disappointment upon disappointment and the impending feeling that what I was hoping to find just may not exist-for me.  I know it exists “in general”, but perhaps it is not in my particular 52-card deck to find.

I had taken “breaks” from dating before….so what was going to be different about this time?

I accepted my fate.  I was tired, truly tired, of hoping, looking, and wondering.

I let go.

And, I meant it.

What happened afterwards has become the year of change for me.  Not bulldozing, gonna be no matter what I want kind of change, but directly intentional, freeing change.

I became able to focus more of my energy on me, my behavior, my goals, my dreams, and how all of that plays into raising up a strong, independent young girl, my daughter.  In doing so I’ve had moments of implicit euphoria.  Feelings of, “Oh, my gosh, so THIS is what happiness, honest to goodness, deep down from the bottom of my tummy happiness feels like!”

I had forgotten.  I had really forgotten the purity of joy that comes from being free.  I felt it when I moved away from home, I felt it when I got sober, I felt it the day my daughter was born, and I feel it now.

Choosing to eliminate this sore spot from my life opened up new doors.  No longer did I need to save a part of myself for someone who didn’t exist, someone who didn’t care, someone who didn’t love or even like me for me.

I embraced my bed covers!  I embraced snuggling up with my dog!  I embraced going to bed early and not feeling “guilty” if I was too tired for anything else!  I embraced not having to finagle a sitter for Maycee just so I could have some “alone time” with Mr. Wrong!  I embraced the simplicity of only answering to myself!  I embraced knowing that I could handle everything on my own-I had been for years-why did I think a partner would make any of this better?!

And, this year, I took on working harder than ever BECAUSE I could….because I had the time….and I acquired not one, but TWO, horses. ME-on a single mom’s budget.  I changed career paths and seized the opportunity to grow and learn.  I focused every extra moment on the stability of my child’s lifepath, and she’s soaring into the blue sky amongst the clouds today. I worked down my debt and have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Breathe….breathe.

Most of all, however, I realized my own self-worth.  How low had I set my price tag towards the end of my dating career….and for what? For whom?  Why?  Short hair, long hair, blue jeans, make-up, no make-up, dirt under the nails, or painted pretty-we are ALL beautiful and deserving of respect.  We have value.  I have value.

And, now, I am me.  I am free.  I am at peace.  And, with all of that….if I’m truly honest, which I am, I do still hope to find a romantic love one day.  A hand-holder, a gentle soul, funny, down to earth, genuine.  But, maybe I better re-phrase that…I hope he finds me because I will no longer be searching.

I will know when he does.  I will know it’s right.  I will feel calm, relaxed, and undoubtedly certain.  There will be no need to compromise.  He will be the one.

In the meanwhile, this current deck of cards is dealing a full house, and I’m really blown away with the hand!

Blessings abundant, and gratitude swells.

Readers, if you are currently in the dating conundrum, I suggest letting it go.  I suggest loving yourself and finding freedom in just being you. Explore, believe in yourself, take advantage of new opportunities. Being single is quite different from being alone.

Life is short…let your wings take you high!

April 2011 014

XOXO,

Kasey

For me and for her

It is a fact that hurtful words and actions can have a lasting impact on a person just as much, if not more so, than empowering words and behavior.  If this weren’t the case, I don’t think the campaign against bullying would be at the forefront of media attention and such a focus across school campuses today.

Honestly, my gut (and not a 10-year study) tells me that very few of us grew up evading even small amounts of persecution in some form or another, sneaking through high school hallways without mean looks or derogatory comments.  A greater majority of us dealt with a lot of negativity, even abuse, when truths be told.

And, as women, we grew up under additional pressures, if I may be so bold as to say, that included fitting within certain molds for body, hair, and face type, style, behavior, career paths, and more.  We learned to scrutinize over fitting in and becoming what was expected from our families, our friends, society, and certainly, the opposite sex.

When I decided to divorce, I explained to my ex how un-attractive I felt, and I questioned him as to why he never seemed to want to be with me any more (physically).  His response I have never forgotten, and I think, moreover, I have never quite gotten past to a degree: “Maybe if you hadn’t cut your hair.”

Yep.  That simple (not).  Cutting my hair made me unattractive to my spouse. Cutting my hair because I had a baby in tow that awakened numerous times in the night day after day, and I was too tired to deal with fashion faux-paux’s, lessened his libido. His baby, too, mind you! Ya, well, I know that it wasn’t my hair that was the problem.  But, nonetheless, the comment has stuck with me for over seven years.

Until now.  No more sticking.  Little by little these negative pieces are being tossed and replaced by new positive pieces. With my daughter’s telescope in full view of my choices, I’ve made many changes in how I do things since that conversation.  And a couple of days ago, I added one more change…

I’m here to tell you today, that I WANT MY HAIR CUT OFF!

Hello, Happy Me!

With every step I take, or every haircut I get, I do so knowing that my own empowerment gives power to my daughter.

There are NO MOLDS to fill that aren’t meant to be broken.  Make the positive overshadow the negative, and a whole world of possibility stands ready.

Life is short, so lop of any unwanted locks, break the mold, and while you’re sweeping away the pieces, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

“Don’t tell on her, Mom!”

This past Monday my kiddo turned eleven. ELEVEN.  We had one of the biggest turnouts for Maycee’s typical “at home” party (held on Sunday) we’ve ever had, including all five of her besties, Grandma and Grandpa, her dad, and a few of our closest barn friends.

The entire time I felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience.  The laughter was different, the girls were quiet and reserved (much more than we grown-ups!), the excitement of balloons and games and eating cake lower key.  In fact, this year Maycee wanted ICE CREAM CAKE-a totally new experience for both of us!  There were no big messes to clean up-each person being old enough now to throw away their trash and help out. I guess you could say it was “easy”.

I quietly observed my daughter during the hours we celebrated.  I saw my little girl, my baby, enjoying herself-being a pre-teen with her besties.  After the cake eating was done, wanting to take her posse to the park and have free time, I had to let her go.  This is what healthy kids do-they leave the nest, explore, figure things out; I know this even though in the moment I want to have my toddler back with her messy fingers and littler friends who only eat frosting and throw napkins on the floor.

She’s eleven.

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Last night after I picked Maycee up from The Club (where she goes during winter break while I’m at Job #1) we went out to the barn to do Job #2. I finished all the stall mucking and dumping and loaded the hay trailer for the morning when she told me that one of the staff members there was sharing about her experiences as a teen mom in an abusive relationship.  She apparently gave Maycee and a couple of other girls some pretty graphic details of what she endured, and Maycee was relaying this conversation now to me.

I felt the hairs rise on my back. I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt anger well up within me as the protective Mother Bear came out of its cave. Why would this lady tell my kid these things?!  What on earth kind of discussion had been forming to lead to this?!  Who thinks it’s appropriate to talk to 5th graders about their own personal issues to this degree?!

I asked Maycee.  She said, “I don’t know.  I think we were talking about bullying.”  She could sense the irritation not-so-well hidden in my inquiry.  “She always talks to us about stuff, Mom.  She says things like, ‘See….this is why you do well in school and stick with the kids who are good.’  Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”

She’s eleven.

I wanted to be mad.  I wanted to call up the Boys and Girls Club of America and yell at the director and tell her this is not okay with me.  Her staff needs to keep their tales of woe to themselves.  These are kids for goodness’ sake! They are supposed to be playing and having fun, not listening to tragedy.

But, I had to make Mama Bear go back in her cave.  It wasn’t the woman’s story that bothered me at all.  I have my own history I’ve had to share with Maycee along similar lines, so there is no judgement.  It was knowing that the older my daughter gets, the more she is going to be exposed without my claws there to protect her.

Kids, eleven or twelve…may not get lessons such as these from their own family.  Some moms and dads don’t sit down and talk with their children as frankly as I do with Maycee.  Perhaps a young adolescent girl might hear this woman’s story, and it will be the catalyst that sticks in her mind when faced with a similar situation.  She will decide against settling for worse and go for better.

As much as it bothered me that Maycee was hearing unpleasant details about a staff member’s journey, I had to respect her plea.  “Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”  Because she wants to know. She wants to hear.  She wants to experience and feel beyond what I tell her, beyond what she learns in school, beyond what is nice, beyond what I allow her to view on the TV in our home.

I need to keep reminding myself and pay attention to my own fleeting sense of control. I didn’t tell on the woman; instead, in my heart, I thanked her for caring.

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Maycee is eleven.

After the party ended and her friends went home, Maycee said she had “the best birthday”.  My heart warmed, but a part of me still was feeling contemplative.

I know we are in movement, a time of wide transition, and I guess this mom is starting to dig her nails in, trying to hold back the hands of time.  Partly because I miss the Elmo birthday decorations and partly because I know of the potential abuse within the big, big world.

Neither cause should stifle Maycee’s ability to blossom, and I will always be there to celebrate with pizza and [ice cream] cake.  Always.

Readers, if you have children, have you had trouble with letting go?

Remember, life is short, so eat ice cream cake, and give a chuckle.

XOXO,

SWM

Many Titles….Horse Cookies

Each week I think about writing here many titles go through my mind.  I have lots of stories that also go through my mind that I would like to share, and these stories prompt titles. If only there was more time, of course.

I thought that I would write about my experience in church this past Sunday.  I was going to call the post “When in Church, I Cry”.  It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been a Christian (and compared to many-not long at all), but when I enter a church-any church-I get emotional.  I can be in a good place, a bad place, or an indifferent place, but when I enter the sanctuary it happens.  The preacher may stink, but I still hear a message.  The music may not be “my style” but I still sing a song.  I may feel an outcast, but I know deep down I’m not.  My daughter has taken to watching me to see how long it takes before the tears start flowing…

I also thought I might write about the rain.  It’s falling now, right now, pouring in gushes and cleansing the earth.  We’ve needed it so badly, and I love listening to it.  Last night we had a huge wind storm as the rain came, and it was scary.  I envisioned the trees behind our house crashing down on the little Yellow Submarine, or the water lifting us up off the jacks and carrying us away down a newly formed river to another town.  Once Maycee was asleep I turned off the TV and just listened.  Snuggled up in a Christmas blanket on my tiny couch with the tree lit, I listened. The wind settled down, and the rain fell quietly as the night tick-tocked minute by minute. The title might have been….”Listen to the Rain”.

I enjoy my time to write as if I were a thief stealing a precious jewel and hoping no one notices.

Today I went to run an errand on my lunch break and found the grocery store to be closed due to a downed power line from the storm.  This changed my plan, so I ended up buying grain for the horses instead of Christmas cards for the family. In the store my favorite clerk, Liz,  was working.  Liz has known me since we rescued our horse Fancy.

She asked me how I was doing and if was surviving the holidays so far. I looked at her with a cringed face and muttered, “Kind of…”  I told her how when the holidays come my shoulders raise and I get so worried about how I’m going to keep up financially and still provide something nice for my kiddo under the tree.  I put on a happy face and hum along with the Christmas Carols, but inside my tummy churns until December 26th.  She said, “I know, I know.  My husband and I keep things real simple since it’s just the two of us.  We see what all of this (referring to the sale racks) does to people.”

I said that I try to do the same since it’s just me and Maycee, but it’s hard when I enter a store and find my eyes wandering, my hands touching, and my mind thinking “She’d like this” or “She’d like that” or “I wish I could just buy it!”  I have to stay focused and shop like a speed demon-in and out-to avoid collapsing under pressure.

I reminisced about how when I was married to her dad, and we had two incomes, buying gifts was never an issue.  Liz asked me, “And, how long ago was that?”  I answered, “Almost seven years ago, and it’s never been easy since.”

Liz looked at me, smiling.  She always has a twinkle about her.  Then she said, “You hold on here a minute.”  She walked away and grabbed a bag of horse cookies, my favorite brand, and said, “Here….give these to your daughter for her horse from me.  You’re such a nice person; you deserve it.”

And, here goes the title for this write.

I may not have time to blog about every thought that crosses my mind, but whenever I can share the kindness of another, human nature so rarely experienced amidst a world of chaos and commerce, I must.  It may be small to some, but it’s huge to me.

Horse Cookies.

Readers, I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead, and remember: life is short, so be happy, and give a chuckle.  Ho, ho, hooooooooo!

XOXO,

SWM

Inspired by…

Inspire: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

I recently read a post from a blogging friend of mine about what she finds inspirational.  Of course, this got me thinking about my own life and what inspires me….to put one foot in front of the other, to keep on keepin’ on, to try new things, to do whatever it takes for my daughter to be happy, to believe in dreams.

Central Coast Sunshine

I had to think, “Am I inspired by ideas such as hope, faith, peace, or love?”  “Am I inspired by the ability to accumulate things, aka, money and tangibles?”  “Am I inspired by beauty as in a gorgeous sky, the flowing manes of horses, ocean landscapes, or the changing colors of the leaves?”

DSC01951

As I pondered this question of inspiration over the last few weeks I realized that while all of these make me smile (yes, even a little cha-ching in my pocket), none of them INSPIRE me.  Nope, I came to the conclusion that I am inspired by…

Joy.

My daily inspiration. XOXO

My daughter fighting through anxiety disorder at age 10 and making honor roll, my friends who selflessly help me muck 14 stalls in the dark so I can finish early and go home, my pastor who has endured illness and strife in her life yet persevered to help others, my mom who took care of my grandma for over 20 years with little appreciation shown, my sister who was determined to get a master’s degree despite potential obstacles, bloggers who expose their triumphs so I may empathize and learn, my boss who does what it takes to keep her employees satisfied and fulfilled,  fathers posting pics of their family vacations on Facebook with joy in their eyes, my dad saying, “You are a wonderful mother.”

PEOPLE.

Kasey on Hi C

 

 

 

 

 

When I think of all the people who have come into my life over the years as well as the ones who’ve always been there, I find it’s them, it’s their stories, it’s their support, their ideas, their shared experiences, their encouragement, and their love that inspires me.

Pretty darn well! (And, she knows how  much I love her, especially!)

Above all else.

People have inspired me to…

Learn piano, make the drum line, return to school after a teenage pregnancy, graduate with honors,  get a degree, believe in marriage, become a mom, survive divorce, buy a house, learn to ride horses, forgive, move forward, be an example to my daughter, seek God, accept change, pursue new goals, love with all of my heart and soul, not be afraid.

To name a few.

me n Jess

Friends inspire me by saying, “You’re such a cowgirl!”

 

I’m grateful for these inspirations, as without them, without all of these people, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn to share.  After all, life is short, Readers.   Seek inspiration, watch the evolution within yourself, oh, and give a chuckle along the way.

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XOXO,

SWM

Real Age & More Sex?

Chief says, "You don't look a day over 38.9!"

Chief says, “You don’t look a day over 38.9!”

So, yesterday, at the END of my work day, right before I had to leave to begin my OTHER job at the barn, I was checking out Yahoo and saw this ad to try the “Real Age Test”. Have you heard of it?  Yep, it’s by the famous Dr. Oz, whose name I totally love, even though I think gimmicky doctors are, well….gimmicky.  But, I fell for the offer, and it was free, and I made sure to decline every other offer offered that would not have been free or linked me to a million different email offers offering not-free free things.

The point of the “Real Age Test” is to tell you….can you guess?  Yes.  Your REAL AGE.  No, not your birthday, silly, but the age you would be physically based on many different traits such as eating habits, exercise, work habits, stress levels, family history, etc, etc, etc.  (www.sharecare.com)

Here are a few areas I found tricky:

1. Eating habits: it asked questions based upon agreement like, “Would you say you eat 5-10 servings of pomegranate seeds and chia seeds per day, per week, per decade?”  STRONGLY AGREE, SLIGHTLY AGREE, NEUTRAL (how is this in any way agreeing or not?), SLIGHTLY DISAGREE, DISAGREE, STRONGLY DISAGREE.  Since I measure servings by how much my stomach is growling or by what’s left over on my kid’s plate at the end of a meal, I had a REALLY hard time answering with any type of agreement, even neutrally speaking.

2. Exercise: “How many hours of aerobic activity do you engage in during a 24-hour period?”  Honestly, can they please ask instead, “How many stalls do you muck and buckets of horse cr-p do you dump within 3 hours?”  This I can answer: 16.

3.  Gauging my stress level also seemed difficult with questions such as, “Have you had  more than 25 nervous breakdowns within the last 10 minutes?”  No.   “Do you bite your nails weekly instead of using clippers?”  No.  “CONGRATULATIONS, you are managing your stress very well!”  Even though my gray hairs have multiplied by the trillions since becoming a single parent 7 years ago?  Geez Louise, I’m pattin’ myself on the back RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT for being so chill. Yay me!

Then there was one simple straightforward question:  “How often do you have sex?”  Well, let’s be blatant, why don’t we?  Just come right out and ask; I sure don’t care about the elephant in the room. Nope.  Not me!

After all of the inquiring was done, the summation of my answers suggested the following:

My real age: 38.9  Wowzers-didn’t even hit 39.  Cool.

Areas to improve upon: Food and Sex.  I need to eat less processed foods, and I guess I’m supposed to do that before my daughter is actually grown and out of the house.  Darn it.  And, I need to have more sex because THIS will help my stress levels (even though I thought I was managing so well), which is an interesting suggestion considering I’m single and find dating to cause more stress than I can handle, which then causes me to eat unhealthy foods, which is why I stopped dating, and consequently why I don’t have sex-well, among other reasons to be left for another post in another place and time.

Thanks, but “no thanks”, Dr. Oz!  I’m sticking with my Mac ‘n’ Cheese and boring Friday night re-runs of HGTV House Hunters and enjoying my neutrality.

Stress reducer, aka: Chief.

Stress reducer, aka: Chief.

For giggles please share what your “Real Age” is if you decide to take the test.  If nothing else, you will CERTAINLY get a good ol’ chuckle out of it.  After all, life is short, Readers (although perhaps a little bit longer based on my “Real Age” of 38.9), so be happy no matter how many doughnuts you had for breakfast or how little the whoop-de-do!

XOXO,

SWM