When I think I’m done here, I’m not

So, so, sooooooo much to say!

I’ve really been on the edge of telling you, my Readers, that it is time for me to move on.   This blog has been a place of healing, a place of learning, a place of refuge, and so much more.  I’ve made friendships across the written line, and I’ve been inspired by others almost every day.

But, I’ve experienced this before with my art, my music, and many other hobbies or passions–it seems there comes the time when I’m done.  For whatever reason, the necessary point of it passes, and I look toward the next phase of my life.

Kasey on Hi C

What, I guess, is difficult about leaving my blog is that as much as it is a bunch of thoughts converted to words and notsocautiously placed into cyberspace, it is also a bit of my exposed soul.  The ideas, hopes, dreams and struggles I’ve chosen to share.  These are parts of living that will never die.  They continue to ebb and flow, and so, there is always something to think, do, or say about them.

I began writing to find a voice as a single working mom.  I felt alone, I felt angry, I felt overwhelmed, I felt abandoned, I felt suffocated, I felt…..so much….and voicing this to an unknown audience helped-still helps. I figured, heck, if I was feeling this way, perhaps sharing about it would also give voice and insight to another.  My feelings have transformed over these past four years.

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Today, I don’t feel alone.  Today, I don’t feel angry.  Today, I don’t feel abandoned or suffocated.  Certainly, many moments I do still feel overwhelmed.  This, I’ve realized and accepted as the nature of single parenting.  It doesn’t take me over anymore.   It only looms slightly upon my back with a tidbit of constant pressure.

This year, 2015, has brought with it some exciting changes, and thus has kept me busy from reading my favorite blogs and, also, from writing.

After six years at my job, I was able to transition away from being an administrative assistant to a field position that takes me into and through the vineyards we manage.  With the mentorship of our assistant vineyard manager I will be studying all that goes into growing wine grapes successfully and sustainably.  I will also be signing up for an on-line certification course in viticulture.  For an “artsy-fartsy got a C in Science type” this is pretty darn cool!  The past six years of learning everything on paper have groomed me to be able to do this, and the support of my superiors allowed it to happen.  Gratitude and excitement fill my heart.

I’m a horse set free to pasture galloping through the hills to the perfect spot to graze on fresh, green grass.

My horse and pasture when I’m at work.

In addition to this wonderful work opportunity, I was also given my precious Chief, that I’ve been leasing for about nine months.  The owner is moving her other horse away from our barn, and she willingly and sweetly gave Chief to me because she believes (as do I, of course) that we belong together.  Just after this news, I found out that our barn is up for sale.  Mixed emotions consumed me, as the only way I am able to afford keeping two horses (Chief and Star for Maycee) is if I work off the board.  What if the new owners don’t need my help?  What if they don’t want to keep the boarding business?  What if they are mean (I don’t do mean.)?  Ha, ha, ha….what if’s will drive us nuts!

Instead of panicking (too much), I’ve done some due diligence and have a couple of back-up options ready to go in case of such what-ifs.  This type of tentative planning I’ve become accustomed to as a single mom.  No longer do I even entertain the idea of giving up (NO WAY), and no longer do I fret to no end when I’m in the hallway.

Progress.

The reason I’m not dating, and the reason I’m happier for it: CHIEF.

2015 is certainly shaping up to be interesting.

And, so, I’ve been in a place of contemplation.  Is my time here at WordPress slipping away?  Should I abandon ship and move on to new lands?

For now, it appears not.  Once again, just when I think I’m done here, I’m not.

I want to share some of the blessings that have occurred in my life-not just this year, but over all of these years.   Because….in the beginning of this blog I was desperately afraid and broken.  In the beginning the hard knocks took precedence.  Now, they don’t.  Singleworkingmomswm has grown into her own, and isn’t that all we can really hope for in a world that is crazy, scary, and uncertain?

Blessings, to only name a few…

Family, friends, and neighbors who’ve sustained me through the good and the bad.

My daughter who gives me a zest for life at just the perfect moment.

Horses.   Their spirits are like no other animals.  Pure beauty.

Our pets, for their unconditional love.

Learning to embrace change.

Finding strength in the smallest of places.

Resilience.

Hearing the crickets, and seeing the birds, jackrabbits, and butterflies in the field.

A home and a job that provide a sense of stability.

Tuning out the voices that say, “You can’t.”

Simplicity.

Just being me.

I don’t know how often I will get here right now, but I do want to tell you, ALL of you, that I’m grateful for this forum.  I’m so grateful, and that is enough to keep me hanging around, if even on the perimeter.

I’ll see ya!

And to other single moms who may be reading my blog I say this: Yes, you can.  You and your children are worth it.  Ask for help.  Be gentle to yourself.  Press forward and have faith because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it will show you the way to new beginnings.

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XOXO,

SWM

Full Circle-Classic SWM

Chief the Ham

Right now, here, today, I’m breathing a little easier.  It’s nice to share that.  I don’t know how long it will last, and truthfully, it has no bearing on what is happening in this moment.  A moment when I am breathing easier.

Last week was a full week.  We began harvest, which in and of itself is enough.  Maycee also started school.  The 5th grade.  I CANNOT believe it!  She was super excited to return, which as a parent, is a blessing.  She loves her friends, loves learning, and loves the environment.  And, with her anxiety at an all time low, she is able to fully enjoy everything a new year brings.   I also celebrated a birthday and felt the warmth and kindness of family and friends who sent cards, Facebook messages, and gifts.  In addition to all of this, I welcomed a roommate into our home-a decision I’ve been toying with for a few years but never felt 100% sure about trying.  How would it affect Maycee and our world as we know it? I’ve been needing/wanting extra income, but was this a viable solution?

Maycee 5th Grade 2

Right now, here, today, I am in awe of the happenings within my life lately.  Single parenting isn’t for sissies.  A single parent takes on two jobs with one body.  Unless you are in a situation of 50/50 custody or have family next door to help out, (I’m not, and I don’t) the day-to-day stress builds up, naturally, and finding balance is a struggle.  I’ve said this before.  I’ve experienced both sides, married with child and single with child, and I can honestly attest that there are significant differences.

This past year has proven a turning point for me.  Turning points can happen at any time.  I believe they are the result of faith, persistence, and surrender.  They don’t necessarily happen at what are deemed to be milestones in life such as reaching  a certain age, graduating from school, getting the perfect job or perfect home, getting married.  No….turning points come when least expected-when we aren’t looking.

I’ve spent the last seven years as a single mom trying to stay afloat, trying to do what is best for my daughter under any circumstance, keeping one foot moving forward even when my ankles feel shackled.  As I watched (for the umpteenth time) a favorite movie of mine last night, Under the Tuscan Sun, one of the characters in the movie said, “Terrible ideas….don’t you just love those?”  It made me chuckle as I thought of all of the “terrible ideas” I’ve had.  Some have been truly terrible.  Others….not so much.

Rescuing Fancy was a not-so-smart idea for a SWM like me, and at the time, met with scrutiny by plenty of people, myself included.  But, when I went with that decision last year, it was a turning point.  After putting her down in March due to illness, the turning point continued until it came full circle. Rescuing Fancy, going with a “terrible idea”, allowed so many fruitful situations to occur in my life, and by “fruitful”, I don’t mean solely financial.

We began riding two horses, one of which was offered to Maycee to ride for free; the other one I lease.  Just a few weeks ago, the owner sold Star to Maycee for $1.00 because she could see they had bonded and felt it was the right thing to do.  Along with the horse sale came most of her tack and gear worth hundreds of dollars (probably more).  Generosity abounded, and the essence of “pay it forward” was defined! Of course, now I was going to be paying for two horses…A TERRIBLE IDEA for a SWM, right?  But, I knew I couldn’t let Maycee down.  I work off the board for my horse at the barn, so I just had to figure out a way to cover the second.

New horse owner, Maycee!

New horse owner, Maycee!

I put an ad on Craig’s List offering my master bedroom for rent,  and within hours I had multiple inquiries.  After a couple of days I talked to the woman who is now our roomy and knew she was the right fit.  She’s an honest hard-working young woman who is pursuing a career in pharmacy and just needs a cheap space to call “home” while she finishes up her credentials and begins a new job–relocating all the way from Chicago to California!  The much-needed income from renting out the room ensures I can afford two horses, while the cheap price helps this gal out.  Win-win.  Maycee loves having her, too!

All of the friends we’ve made from rescuing Fancy are more than we can count.  These friends help babysit for me when I have to be at work during the holidays or “extra” days off during the school year.  They’ve helped freely with our horses and been there to listen when I need to let off some steam. Our bestest barn-buddy, K, takes us trail riding, works with Maycee on her horsemanship, makes us laugh, and relieves some of the pressure I feel just by being there for us.  BALANCE.

Right now, here, today, I’m breathing a little easier because many prayers have been answered in a way I couldn’t have imagined.  It is neat to look back over the years and see things in hind sight, see the progression, the connection, and the turning point come full circle in its own time.  Waiting hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.

Readers, life is short, so be happy, and take a chance on a “terrible idea”.  Your turning point may just be around the next corner!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

A Lunch Date

Are you happily married or happily joined at the hip with someone you love?  Yes?  Pleeeeeeeeease count your blessings-all of them-with regard to that fact.  Heck, I know you already are because I’m sure you have friends, like me, who are unattached and dealing with the drudgery of techi-dating.  Add to that being a single mom, and you’ve got, well, a wholelotta complicated.

I haven’t talked much about it on here, but I have done my due diligence trying the on-line dating scene over the past few years.  And, let me tell you since I AM talking about it now: it IS a SCENE!  One step below meeting  a guy sitting on a bar stool (and I don’t meet guys this way because I don’t drink or do bars), this on-line world of flirts and messaging is grueling.  I’ve sworn it off a bajillion times and been just fine….and then I see some cutesy- wutesy couple holding hands or a sweet little family playing at the park and I think to myself: Kasey, you never know.  Just give it ONE MORE TRY.

The first stint ended in 2010 after, um, 3 days.  I met someone instantly and enjoyed fun experiences with a happy-go-lucky man for a couple of years, mostly going out when my daughter was away for her weekends with her dad.  Eventually I recognized that I was a stepping stone to his mid-life crisis, and in the end I was still single.

The second stint ended just this past year after, um,  a few days on-line, meeting someone, going off-line for few months, then back on, then back off.  I had a couple of “wow” moments with this fellow I met, but alas, he couldn’t make up his mind (thus the on/off switch) with regard to anything anywhere, and in the end I was still single.

In the interim there have been multiple inappropriately forward messages sent by men I perceive to be total losers and “flirts” that come from nowhere and go nowhere.  There are the guys who write just enough to convince you to give them your number and even meet for dinner, but ultimately they are looking for only one thing.  I’ll let you surmise that ONE THING.  Even after you tell them you are not interested in doing that ONE THING, that you are single mom, that you don’t have time for games or wishy-washiness.  That you’d like to build a friendship first.  These men still consider that ONE THING an option.  Really? What language am I speaking???

Can anyone answer me, “Where did all the flowers go?”  Even further, “Why do I seem to attract mostly weeds?”

I’ve seen they exist.  Beautiful flowers.   I know couples who have blessed relationships.  I have good friends and family with sweet husbands, decent men, who love their wives and children and provide for them and take care of them.  I see it with my own eyes!

When I was super sick a couple of weeks ago I was tired of watching TV, Maycee was visiting my mom down south for her spring break, and I decided to go to Wal-Mart to get a couple of things I desperately needed.  Like always when I go to Wal-Mart (which is why I DON’T go to Wal-Mart hardly ever) I walked past a display that caught my attention.  It had books on it, and one of the books was called “Heaven is For Real”.  I read the excerpt on the back and was hooked.  A book about a real boy’s account of heaven?  I’m in.

It took me only a matter of days to finish the entire printing, including the interviews at the back about making it into a movie.  What I gained from the book was so much more than I imagined.  It was more than just re-affirming my belief in heaven, that Jesus is there, that we will see loved ones and loved pets again and there will be no more pain.  In the book the father (who wrote the book) talked about praying like children.  He talked about how his son prayed….not with poetic fluency and selfless requests (although there are places for both of those) that sound proper…but, with blunt admissions and specific “Here I am, and here is what I want, Jesus! ”  longings.

I pondered this.  And, then I thought to myself, “Kasey, why NOT you? Why NOT you to find a decent, sweet man to accompany you in this life?  Why NOT pray for yourself?  Kids do it all the time, and Jesus teaches us to have faith like children.”

So, I prayed.  And, I asked my pastor to pray for me, also.  My personal prayer warrior whom I trust.

Yesterday I went on a lunch date with a nice gentleman.   I don’t know what it will be beyond that.  I don’t know if this man is “the one”, a beautiful flower that is going to grow along with me and my daughter or allow petals to be plucked and sent into the wind.  But, there were no inappropriate innuendos, no being stood up, no awkward silences, no apparent bologna, and he even paid for our food.  I stated that I wanted to make a friend and see where that might lead, and he showed up anyway.  How about that?

At 40 heading into 41 I’ve often accepted that I may just live out my later years alone on a ranch with chickens, goats, a big cow named Betty, and of course a couple of horses.  Maycee will come visit me, her crazy mom who lives on a farm, and we’ll ride together a couple of afternoons a week, each time ending with her saying, “Bye, Mom!  See ya later! Love you!” as she heads back to her college buddies.  And, I’m totally okay with that as a possibility.

But, after praying, I’m also okay with the possibility of another scenario that started with a lunch date…or whatever else may come along.

The on-line dating world is not for the faint of heart, and I don’t recommend it if you don’t have to go there.   If you have a good fish, keep him; don’t throw him back in the ocean!  However, in all things singleworkingmom, I learn, I grow, and I will survive.

Cheers to a wonderful weekend for you all!  And, remember, when you get an on-line “flirt” from a guy with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, missing a t-shirt, holding a deer-head in one hand and beer in the other saying, “A dozen roses for you” simply stop and give a chuckle. 😉

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

Another 15 Minutes

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Since my last post about my daughter experiencing Anxiety Disorder at age 9, it feels as if I’ve lived a full 2 months in only 2 weeks. Life has been a whirlwind, to say the least, of Internet research, doctors, therapists, school administration, phone calls, emails, and text messages all in the effort to help Maycee work through her worries one day, one minute, one second at a time. Last week, I lived in my own anxiety and fear as getting through the school day became a near impossibility for my child. The stress of missing work and watching her suffer, cry, and panic felt almost unbearable at times.

After all, we have been settled here in the Yellow Submarine for almost 4 years. Maycee has been doing well in her new school for almost 2 years and is top of her class. There’s been little to ruffle our feathers, as I’ve dedicated my time to keeping everything pretty simple. And, while Maycee has certainly been finding her way as she’s growing up, like typical school-aged children do, I thought we’d overcome many of the bigger battles years ago when life was much more tumultuous.

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Don’t get comfortable. I get it (wink). The world is an evolving mechanism filled with ups and downs, twists and turns around every corner, and Jack-In-the Boxes waiting to surprise us. There is no period of time that stays the same. Change is the one thing we can count on…always….and expectation only brings us the possibility of disappointment. It’s much better to live in the moment. So, here we are. Maycee is suffering from Anxiety Disorder as a third-grader, and I can ask, “Why her….why me….why us…why now?” Or, I can ask, “Okay…what is the next indicated thing I need to be doing to make this better?” Then, do it.

This week I’m not in the same fear I was last week. Just one group of 7 days later I’ve learned enough to know that Maycee will be okay. I’ve studied a lot already that is helping me cope as her mom to aid in dealing with her worries. I’ve listened to my own meditation CD (from the therapist) over and over again, and it is helping me to stay calm through the storm and to be the rock that is steady as the waters in Maycee’s mind move in and out with the tides. I don’t rest on my laurels. I keep trying new things and being willing to do whatever it takes.

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Over the past 4 days Maycee has thrown multiple tantrums ranging from a 3-hour panic attack Sunday night that lasted until 12:00AM to begging and pleading with me to keep her home from school every day because she’s hyperventilating and feeling nauseous at the thought of going on campus. But, this week, I’m operating with a different perspective. I’m feeling strong as steel, calm as the clear, blue California sky, and through the tantrums and anxiety I’m steadfastly holding my ground. I’ve been told she needs to work through the worries….do not give in. She needs to be the one to do it. I cannot do it for her.

Each night this week we’ve gotten closer to her normal bedtime: another 15 minutes earlier than the night before. Each morning the tantrums have been a bit less: another 15 minutes closer to making it to school on time. Each day we are both learning about boundaries, about what is real and what is not, about what we can handle and how much, and how vital it is to focus on the positive at all times. AT ALL TIMES. Another 15 minutes longer in class. Another 15 minutes of laughter. Another 15 minutes of peace.

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I just wanted to check in with you, Readers.

Maycee began regular weekly therapy this past Monday and will begin seeing the school counselor on Fridays. The principal has been my go-to person, waiting for us in the office and settling Maycee down after I leave, encouraging her, and because of him I haven’t missed one day of work this week. The teachers and after care personnel have shown us nothing but support. My church is stepping up to help cover the cost of the therapy sessions for 6 weeks until my medical plan reimbursements are approved. Mom sent me a card with a little extra money to help cover the hours I’ve missed at work. Our horse trainer came over to spend time with Maycee “just to talk” and give her a hug. I had an afternoon out with a girlfriend this past Saturday (while Maycee’s dad came up for a visit) to rejuvenate and recharge via the beautiful Central Coast seaside and a cappuccino. My boss tells me don’t worry about my job, family comes first. Prayers abound.

Love is flowing in every nook and cranny, even across the entire country and beyond.

I’m blessed. I’m blessed. I’m blessed.

Recognize it. Reach out. Do the next indicated thing. Never give up. Focus on the positive. REPEAT.

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Many hugs, love and good vibrations going out to each one of you. Remember: life is short, so be happy every given moment you can.
XOXO-SWM

Glorious Horse Stink

In the beginning I could barely get on!

 

This past week weighed in a bit heavy.

Last Monday-a babysitting date for Maycee while I worked during the President’s Day holiday went all wrong (and it won’t happen again).  Tuesday, a bit of bad news came that my hours needed to be cut back at work–expected, only I held on in hopeful denial as long as I could.  Wednesday, the head trip began, and my psyche traveled far and wide into budgetary cities…for hours and hours and miles and miles with no snack break.  Thus, without much of a clear mind I just didn’t have it in me to write… anything…not even a sticky note, except to remind myself that I needed to bring home the Subway sandwiches in the fridge at work.  That was on Thursday. I had a myriad of clever ideas, just no mo-jo to get the job done. Friday I knew I’d be gone all day-work, driving Maycee to see her dad, dinner with my best buddy for some much-needed empathetic girl time.  Friday night during dinner Maycee called me at 9:30 crying terribly because I’d forgotten to put Blanky, Bluey, and Crystal Kitty in her “going to Daddy’s” bag-she can’t sleep without them.  I hit a skunk on the way home at 11:15PM. 

Saturday I waited for this notveryMary[TylerMoore] attitude to pass.  I had a good dose of “me” time while my boyfriend was hanging with his buddies celebrating his best friend’s freedom before he gets married in May.  I painted the entire white trim of the yellow submarine: stair banisters, the patio room, the front porch, and I even painted a little bench that sits to the side of the sub in bright white and blue stripes so it looks all happy!  It smiles.  I talked to Maycee and let her know that I was taking good care of Blanky, Bluey, and Crystal Kitty and had given them all baths, too. I called my mom who encouraged me with offerings of Dollar Store gift cards for groceries if I start to feel too pinched with my reduced work hours.  

I took a hot shower and turned in for the evening with the pups and watched a $5.00 movie from Walmart entitled Dreamer (Sonador).  Based on a true story, an injured race horse who’s going to be put down gets taken in by the trainer’s family, fully recovers, and ends up winning a huge race.  A story that warmed my heart and cleaned out my tear ducts completely, sing praises, HALLELUJAH!  I could see the LIGHT and received a kick in the pants.

By Sunday I knew I was ready to look at the mountain as a molehill.  Perhaps I wasn’t fully back to my “normal” self, but I’d had enough of the blues.  My horse instructor suggested I come out to the ranch Sunday morning to ride again, as Saturday morn my lesson fell apart quickly after I sobbed whilst telling her I was going to have to cut back on Maycee’s and my riding time.  That riding was really the only frivolous thing I did, and thus the one big thing left for me to cut out of my budget with less money hitting my pocket. 

As I sniffled and wept she patted my leg (I was sitting on “my” horse, geezlouise), and said, “No, you’re going to keep coming every Saturday and Maycee every other Saturday.  We’ll make it happen.  Don’t worry.  Being a single mom sucks, and we have to stick together.  Why don’t you come back tomorrow at 10.  It’ll be better therapy [than church].”  Yes, the mountain was really a molehill; it MIGHT even be an ant hill, goshdarnit. 

I went out to the ranch Sunday morning and rode with four other women ranging from pros to amateurs. I walked, trotted, whoa’d, and watched as we took turns trying different things.  My instructor and I chatted, and at one point discussing a make-up lesson, I said I could come out and ride for an hour on a Friday afternoon, and she exclaimed, “Or longer…I like havin’ you out here (big grin on her face)!”  A slight hint of laughter slipped from my lips and jiggled my belly-my shoulders relaxed.

I sat in the saddle for the longest period of time yet, almost a full hour and half.  I was able to groom and tack the horse with no help, and untack just the same.  I gave “my” horse a carrot.  I swept the barn floor.  And, before I left I considered everything I was feeling in that moment.  Calm.  Peace. Serenity.  Happiness.  Reflecting on how just a little less than a year ago I knew not one thing about horses except that I wanted my daughter and I to learn how to ride together.  Earning about the same salary, I sent an email to my instructor and shared my story:

Hi, there.  I’m a single mom on a tight budget, but I really want to learn how to ride horses with my daughter.  She goes to her dad’s every other weekend, and so we can only commit to two weekends a month, and I’m not even sure if I can afford that.  But, I’m willing to help out at the ranch or do other things to compensate if this is possible.  Any help you can give me is much appreciated.”  She answered me back several days later saying, “Sorry I took so long to write back.  I’m a single mom, too, so I know what it’s like. I’m sure we can work something out.  Give me a call.

You tell me the odds.

I got in my car and headed home to clean up before making the trek down to get Maycee.  Only, when I was sitting in the car I smelled the barn all over my clothes.  I smelled the horse stink on my blue jeans from cleaning the muck out of his hooves.  The glorious horse stink.  And so, as I was able to see over the ant hill’s horizon I decided to leave the smelly clothes on reminding me of where I started and where I am today-not just with riding, but with everything.  More resourceful and more resilient; this is only a slight bump in the road, and I’m never alone.   Today, Monday, I decided it was time to write.

Now I'm learning to ride like the wind!

Thanks for reading, Everyone.  Life is short.  Life is life.  If we have computers to type on, we are richer than most.  With our eyes open it’s easier to see the way.  These are my Kaseyisms for the hour.  Be happy y’all, and give a chuckle now, ya hear (wink)?

Tell Me Now…Where Do I Belong?

This gallery contains 4 photos.

She walks in the church and cautiously looks around with her four-year-old daughter in tow.  She hesitantly makes her way to the back of the church and sits quietly, thumbing through her Bible, avoiding eye contact at all costs.  She has contemplated this day for months.  She wonders if she should be here.  Does she … Continue reading