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

A Different Road

Back in mid-December on a puffy cloud day, Maycee was home sick.  We spent the hours resting, me by de-fault, and in the afternoon I decided to head over to her school to pick up her homework.  I left a little early to make sure I got there in time to find a parking space.  On my way, however, instead of going straight something within me said, “No need to rush….take a different road…”

I don’t travel, at least not in the way folks think of “traveling”.  I haven’t gone anywhere more than two hours away since, well, since I don’t know when.  To my mom’s, to my dad’s, to my sister’s, up the road, down the road, around the block….that’s the extent of it.  Mostly, this is because of money and time (in that order), and over the last couple of years my daughter’s anxiety has also played a part.  Honestly, it doesn’t bother me much, probably because I’m too busy to dwell.

I also have come to love where I live and still feel like a tourist needing directions.

On this puffy cloud day I took my curious mind’s advice and turned left onto a road I had always wanted to drive.  It was clear once I made the left why I was drawn to go this way, denying myself the opportunity for the past six years since moving to the Yellow Submarine.  Denying no more.

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For a gal who has a small-town heart, it’s befitting that I live within minutes of what is still considered an actual “town”.  Halcyon is the foundation of what became a bigger city, but the post office still operates today.  I had never gone inside until a couple of years ago, and now on this day, I traveled the road on which it sits.

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I felt a magical, whimsical presence within me…I imagined myself living in this quaint cottage.

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As I drove I marveled at the neighbors’ quiet contributions and the eclectic nature of design within each space.

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To have your horse in the backyard, well, that is every horse person’s dream.  My momentary escape began, and I could smell the coffee brewing in the morning while Chief grazes on sweet green grass.

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Sunday morning services at 10:00.  The Temple of the People sounds like my kind of place.  I couldn’t see inside, but I wanted to…..

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I wondered…did a dad, playing with his children, decide to lean these logs up against the big old tree in teepee form?  Maybe a single mom?

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After coffee in the morning, I’d jump on Chief and ride up to my art-teacher friend’s home, pictured here.  We’d work on abstract water-color paintings, using the puffy clouds as our inspiration.  Then, I’d head back in the afternoon to work in the garden.

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Upon pulling up to the cottage I’d see that Maycee had come for a visit.  I’d enjoy hearing all about the latest horse she was training, and I’d bring out homemade chocolate chip cookies, her favorite.

The garden can wait.

I so enjoyed my 10-minute drive on a different road.  I pulled up to the school just before 3:00, the end of the day…why did I wait so many years to see what was simply around the corner?

Funny how we are.

Now I wonder, what will I find the next time I decide to travel a different road?

Life is short, so don’t wait to do what presses on your heart, and every chance you can, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

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

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

 

So Much, So Fast

Hmmmmmmm, how interesting! I clicked on the suspicious pencil-looking icon at the top of my WordPress Reader site and vwala!  There appeared the “new editor” allowing me to type a post that I had no idea I was going to write….until this very moment.  And, honestly, I have a lot on my mind.  A LOT. But, sometimes with so much brewing it is difficult to narrow the writing down to what is burning the most on my heart to get out, to purge or to share.

The thing is, that clicking on this new icon to which I had no idea what it was simply allowed me to narrow it down that much easier.  It’s about change.  It is super easy to write about CHANGE.  At least, I think it is because it is the ONE THING we can always count on-the ONE THING that is always taking place with or without us.

This year Maycee entered the 5th grade.  She is an upper-classman in elementary school now-more-so than as a 4th grader.  She is one step away from being top dog.  One step closer to ruling the entire roost.  She has embraced this role fully, and along with it, she has embraced so much change within herself.

Up until this year I have been the doer of almost all things for her.  I cleaned her room, washed and put away her clothes, made her meals, packed her lunches, woke her up with the sound of my voice and a light nudging or tickling of limbs, checked her homework for completion, helped with any challenges.  All of that typical parenting/mom stuff we do for our kids.

Up until this year I was still the “cool mom” who all of my daughter’s friends thought was “pretty and nice”.  I held my daughter’s hand while walking across campus after picking her up. I dried her tears if other kids were mean to her and had discussions with her teachers or counselors to make sure any issues were handled and quickly.  I was desired at all functions and for sitting down and watching Disney Channel together.

This 5th grade thing has brought into our lives something I wasn’t quite ready for: INDEPENDENCE.

Ha!  Just like that Maycee is saying comments like, “Mom, pleeeeeeeezzzz don’t do that.  You’re embarrassing me!”  So what if I’m dancing around like a crazy woman in delight over the taste of some delicious cafe mocha yogurt at Yogurt Creations in front of a whole bunch of folks, not to mention Maycee’s BFF?  Whaaaaat is so embarrassing about that?!

“I’m going to clean up my room after dinner tonight.  I need to start keeping it neat.  I’m done with Barbies.” OK, who are you, and where did you place my child?

“Mom, I’m going to start bringing my own purse with me everywhere I go.” AKA, I don’t need you to hold MY MONEY.

“Mom, can I ride my bike to school ALONE?” That’s what I’m talking about.  Say what?! No!

“Mom, can I get Lunchables to make my own lunch?  ALLLLL the kids are eating those now.” Why certainly-let me hand over my lunch-making torch from the last 7 years gladly.

Teacher to Mom during recent Parent/Teacher conference: “Ms. MacInnes, I’d let Maycee start making her own decisions about when she finishes her homework.  She knows the consequences if she doesn’t complete it. You don’t need to help her.  Give her more responsibility.  This is the year for it, and all of MY kids know that.  Maycee tells me, ‘After all, I’m in the 5TH GRADE NOW.'”

Morning wake up?  No more.  Alarm clock to the rescue, and what a happy child it produces!  No longer do I hear, “Uuuuugh, I’m soooooo tired!  Why did YOU wake ME up so early?!?”  Nope.  She hears the beep, beep, BEEEEEEEEP and saunters out of her room on time with a smile on her face (a lazy smile, but still a smile) and even says good morning!  Well, OK. GOOD MORNING THEN!  Yahoo!

And, I won’t even get into the health education and puberty talk.  But, I will say that if there’s attitude in the room, well, poor Miss Puberty is to blame according to Maycee.  “It’s puberty, Mom.  My teacher said.  It causes all kinds of behavior stuff.”  Well, indeed, it does, I guess. Did I go through that? No wonder my mom is laughing at me on the phone.

“I need to text Fabby now, Mom.  It is VERY important.  Oh, and I know I said I loved my texting phone, and I do, but I REALLY like Fabby’s I-Phone, and I totally know how to work it.  Oh, and I would REALLY like my OWN laptop.”  Huh.  Really?  And, I would like money to grow on trees, but that’s another blog post.

Texting went from nil to 90 within the last few weeks after Maycee discovered Fabby has a phone, too.  I am currently using the phrase, “I’m going to have to take it away if you don’t put it down-now.”  Help me. Prior to this Maycee said the likes of, “I don’t even use my phone.  I forget it’s even there.  I don’t want to be one of THOSE people who texts all the time anyways.”

Change can make us forgetful, I suppose.

Drying tears?  Over and done with (for now, except if there’s a texting crisis).  “Oh, my gosh, Mom. He was so rude (speaking of a bullying sort in her homework class)!  And, I told him so, and I thought he was going to come up and shove me because he looked so mad, but I just stormed off and told the teacher!  I’m not afraid!”  Wowzers.

Hand holding-Lord knows I try.  I have to sneak my hand underneath Maycee’s and touch the fingers, which creates an automatic reflex  that quickly disappears once she realizes it’s happening.  Darn.

Disney Channel?  Replaced by Nick at Night’s re-runs of Full House and Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  If I’m lucky there’s some room left on the couch for me to squeeze my mommy butt and sit with the girl.  If not, I return to my post located in the kitchen corner not to be heard.

Certainly these are all positive changes and quite exciting!  Well, a little frightening, too.  I mean, it’s just SO MUCH, SO FAST.  But, I know that one of the biggest parts of mothering is also learning to let go.  Each stage in a child’s life requires a bit of this. If we don’t do it, then independence is hindered and opportunities become more difficult to experience.  Not to mention our kids might end up never leaving the house-ever.

When Maycee turned 10 I wrote in her birthday card that I wanted her to soar, and this is what she is doing-in leaps and bounds as her 5th grade year takes shape.  I may need bigger wings to keep up, but I’ll find them, if nothing more than to watch and wonder and smile.

I’m glad I logged onto WP today and clicked on that funny little pencil that led me to this “new editor” prompting me to write about the one and only constant in life.  And, I’m glad I got to connect with you, Readers.  Remember: life is short, so if you’re feeling a little funky just blame puberty, start texting, and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

Of friends and friendship

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with

Chief, you can be my BFFAAF!

Chief, you can be my BFFAA!

I have had many different friends over the years.

When I was a little girl, I had one true friend, my BEST friend.  Back then we didn’t use acronyms like “BFF” or call each other “besties”.  We were simply spelled out: best friends.  Our parents were married (no, not to each other), we didn’t have to keep up with numerous sports or after-school activities, and our summers were spent at home doing “kid stuff”, eventually getting bored , and that was fun!  She lived next door to me, and we were the same age-well, six months apart, but in the same grade. We did just about everything together, and no matter which house we were playing at or in it was home.  We spent every Friday night having sleep overs.  We liked the same things: Barbies, playing house, drawing or coloring (although I enjoyed getting a little dirtier playing outside sometimes), and eating my mom’s homemade pizza.

Oh, the good ol’ days of stylish hats and glasses!

When my best friend’s dad got a job in another state we were in the 4th grade, and we were devastated.  Honestly, in grade school I was SUPER shy, and I had no idea how I was going to survive without her.  They moved, life changed, and that same year the grade school we attended, conveniently located at the end of our block, was closed, and I had to be driven several miles away to a new school.  No best friend to help ground me.  No friends, period.  Just a shy kid wishing she could disappear into the cracks and hide until it was all over.

Friends are the best!

My kid is NOT shy.  Friends are the best!

It took me many friendships to understand that they are sometimes fleeting, sometimes steadfast, but each one has a contribution to make in my life.  I used to get so upset when friends would stop being friends.  When they’d move onto someone new, or leave town, or turn into someone I didn’t know anymore.

As I grew older this ebb and flow of people into and out of my life got easier.  I was able to see the connection we all had in one way or another as the timeline moved along.  I could step outside of myself and watch the relationships as parts of a whole.  I think this began to happen about my mid-20’s when all of a sudden changing friends didn’t necessarily mean disappointment or hurt feelings.  It only meant “change”.

Grade school friends, long gone.  Junior high and high school friends, not far behind.  College comrades, co-workers, church friends saying, “We gotta get together!”, “Let’s keep in touch.”, “I’ll call you soon!”  I’m sure their intentions were real, or not–maybe it’s just what people say.  Even me.  But, either way, I knew that when one set of friends was heading to a new frontier, another set was on its way back into mine.  Certainly, I have maintained contact with some of my “old” friends–back in the day we used letter writing and phone calls, now we maintain with Facebook technology.  My best friend from childhood will always be my dearest BEST FRIEND.  We haven’t seen each other in several years now, but the bond is forever.

My best friend from childhood, my best friend for life. XO

Best friends all grown up and passing it on!  XO

Last year I opted to move away from one particular friendship that had become toxic.  Once ready, there was no fear, as I knew it was the right thing to do.  I’d say only a handful of times have I had to DECIDE to end a friendship for this reason.  Maybe not even a handful, maybe only a couple, one being when I got sober over 15 yeas ago.  It’s nice that situations typically have a way of handling themselves (providing I’m not the road block), but this one was lingering, and the longer I let it the worse it became.

It’s hard to consciously break away from someone you’ve grown to care about and love like family, but maturity and faith have given me the insight to take heed. It was even harder because this person was also our horse trainer-the only one we knew.

Not long after this decision I rescued Fancy, and I pride myself in this choice today.  Again, as I look back I see the connection.  I see a beautiful panorama of images showing me the transition from one part of my life to another.  One set of friends to another.  It’s so perfectly clear.

Tell me more...but can I have a treat first?

Chief says, “Tell me more…but can I have a treat first?

Recently we had a barbecue at the ranch along with a horsey play day for all to enjoy.  Everyone showed up, and we had 11 horses and riders in the arena together, cheering each other on as we each tried our hand at the obstacle courses laid out.  Fancy, I know, was up in heaven grazing on healthy green grass and looking down at us, celebrating the spirit of horses with our barn buddies and new horsey family of Chief and Star.

Fancy, we miss you but know you're happy!

Fancy, we miss you but know you’re happy!

The ebb and flow of friends and friendship brought us to this place.

As I rode Chief and observed the group my heart welled with gratitude for these wonderful women (and girls) who’ve become so important to us today.  Once new friends, some will pass, some will be forever like my best friend from childhood.  Either way, they are an important part of our journey-a piece of the puzzle what would be missing had not earlier lessons been learned and paths chosen.

I'm gonna win!

I’m gonna win!

Me n Denise 2

Almost ready to begin the games.

Good friends, great view!

Good friends, great view, while Maycee and the others practice their moves!

 

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Enjoying pulled pork sandwich!

Pulled pork sandwiches-yum!

Chief, what do you think?

Until next time….now let’s ride!

 

Readers, blogging FRIENDS…do you have friendships that have lasted a lifetime as well as new friends who you cannot imagine having never known?  Please share!

And, as always, life is short, so grab a buddy and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM