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.

Jan 2013 004

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

Cleansing Rain

It’s been raining here.  In February, on the coast of California, finally some winter has arrived.  It’s been wet, it’s been wonderful, and everything smells so fresh!

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Yesterday, the sun came out in the afternoon, shining brilliantly through the trees.  I ran out from my office to look for the rainbow.

I knew one would be there.

And, it was.

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It’s been so dry here for so long.  The drout has everyone worried.  The lakes are almost below pumping level.  More wells are being dug in the vineyard.  The ground is thirsty, plants are dying, my skin is cracking like never before.   “We need rain.  We need lots and lots of rain to get out of this situation.”

Can you just feel the metaphorical nature of this?  I can. I do.

A pastor of mine from a few years ago used to say, “When it rains, think of your baptism. ”

I’ve always remembered.  And, yesterday I let the cleansing rain touch my face.

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XOXO,

SWM

*”No diving from bridge” image courtesy of NY Times.

Seemingly From Out of Nowhere: Childhood Anxiety Disorder

If you are a parent, particularly of school-aged children, then I hope you will read this very special post I’m writing today.  I’ve taken a three-week hiatus from writing while embarking on what may become a life-long journey for my 9-year-old learning to cope with Childhood Anxiety Disorder.

Easter 2013 002

Six weeks ago I had no idea what was happening, and I have a sneaky suspicion  there are hundreds of thousands of parents wearing my exact shoes.  Maycee has always thrived: emotionally, spiritually (yes, she loves God with all her heart), socially, and educationally.  She’s been the top reader in her class since kindergarten, reading at a 6th grade level currently, and she’s excelled in all subjects, including citizenship and participation.  She’s been the teacher’s aide and the first student to offer to help another classmate who might be experiencing trouble either academically or with his/her peers. She’s always LOVED school and the activities that go along with it.

What began happening six weeks ago came seemingly from out of nowhere…seemingly.  Maycee had been sick with the flu for a week, and then, after trying to go back to school as soon as she was well enough, began having severe diarrhea in the morning.  We thought it was the antibiotics she was on, but along with the diarrhea there was hesitation and nervousness about being in the classroom.  Maycee didn’t want to be at school…I thought it was because she still was sick.  I didn’t realize she was still sick because she was suffering from Anxiety Disorder-Health Anxiety to be specific.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Constant worry about being sick
  • Obsessing on disease and illness or being hurt physically and dieing
  • Panic attacks, hyperventilating when triggered
  • Restlessness and sleep disruption
  • Nausea, shaking, stomach cramps, diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Needing to be reassured continuously that she is physically okay
  • Sweaty and clammy palms of the hands
  • Seeing the environment in strange colors (“Everything looks yellow.”)

These physical and emotional symptoms then lead to:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Extreme tantrumming when the anxiety takes over, including screaming, ranting, door slamming, and not being able to calm down
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • The feeling that no one cares, no one likes her
  • Needing “someone” (me) to help her “feel better”
  • Unable to focus on normal daily activities such as classwork or small chores
  • Extreme fear of the unknown
  • Depression and sadness that something is physically “wrong” with her

This is only an abbreviated list, if you can believe it, and you should.  I did not know what was happening to my bright, shining, star.  I had no clue why my once silly and outgoing child was cowering in the corner of her bunkbed afraid afraid to come down.  I only saw her in pain and wanted to make it better, so I began searching.  Searching for answers, praying, searching some more, and not giving up-no matter what.

Here is what I’ve found now in week 6:

  • Maycee has been diagnosed with Health Anxiety Disorder, and it is completely treatable with the right therapy.
  • I did not do anything to make this happen (yes, parental guilt is huge here, so this was a relief to find out).
  • This would’ve happened to Maycee, if not now, at some point in her young life as discovered through therapy based on her behavioral and emotional history (she’s incredibly empathetic for her age).
  • This most-often occurs in children around the ages of 8 and 9, when they are in the third grade, and also often occurs in kids of average to above-average intelligence.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective form of treatment (not medication), and I’ve also discovered, very difficult to find specialists who focus primarily on children.  I was referred to the only Childhood Anxiety Specialist in the county, and her web site is the SECOND one to come up on the web when you look for Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (we’re blessed).
  • It takes an IMMENSE amount of dedication and hard work to implement this therapy, and the parent is the primary teacher upon receiving  instruction from the therapist.
  • After only 4 sessions Maycee is already showing improvement, but she is also working extremely hard to “fight” the Anxiety Monster (we now affectionately call “Buttface”).
  • This is a big one: the school is REQUIRED BY LAW to make educational accommodations for the child to ensure that he/she receives the same education as any other student via the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Section 504.  This is not the same as receiving Special Education, but rather, for particular emotional or physical issues that require slight modifications in the school day.  This is so important, as initially when Maycee began having problems being in class I was told the school “could not accommodate her on campus”. NOT TRUE, PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

I’m not going to write a 5-page post on the subject, but rather, I want to make sure all of my readers and anyone else who may find this post are informed.  Anxiety Disorder in kids is very real.  It is not a behavioral issue (meaning the kids are acting out “just because they need more discipline”, etc.). This is a mental and emotional state that develops, and there may not be any major trigger causing it, which is makes it elusive.  It can happen to any child, just as it did with mine, and quickly turn the family’s world upside down.

Had I known about this, I might have saved my daughter weeks of emotional duress, weeks of missing days of school, weeks of me missing work, and a whole host of aggravation, fear, stress, and exaustion.  So, I’m taking the time to deviate from my regular writing style to make sure this information is put into the blogosphere…I don’t want to look back on everything we are going through and not have done my part to help another parent and child in need.  Maycee feels the same way:

Two days ago when we were driving to the Boys and Girls Club for Maycee’s spring break vacation she said to me, “Well, even though it’s hard, I’m glad I’m going through this, Mom, because I will be able to help other kids now.”

Yes.  Yes, indeed.  We are on our way.  God led us to the right people eventually, and we are on our way.  Maycee’s spirit is beginning to shine again.  This week has been particularly successful compared to the last five, and I’m grateful.   She’s falling asleep more easily, learning to handle the obsessive worries and focus on the moment, what is happening now, and what is real.  She is identifying when she’s panicking and recognizing it will pass if she practices the techniques we’ve learned so far rather than trying to run away from the anxiety.  We are still in the beginning of the battle, but there is hope, there are answers, and her therapist has GUARANTEED me she will return to her happy and vibrant self soon.  I believe it.  I do!

Me and Maycee Nov 12 

So, Readers, I’m tired, very tired.  Even now as I write my eyes feel swollen and like they could close with no hesitation.  It’s tough being a single parent in all of this, no one to help in the home, no one to “take over” in the late nights and early mornings,  but the past has taught me I can handle it, you know?  I act “as if” I’m okay, and I break down when I can in the stillness of the night so I can re-charge my batteries.  I just do it like any other dedicated and loving parent would, and I’m grateful every day to those who support and encourage me.

I hope this information gets around…please feel free to re-blog this, print it and pass it on, post to Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else.  There really isn’t a lot of information about it, and what is out there isn’t easily accessible from a parental point of view (physician’s speak rather than nitty-gritty real-life details). I’ve provided a couple of links, as well, that might be helpful.

Life is short, and it’s also challenging, but everything we experience gives us the opportunity to be of service and pay it forward in some way.  Maycee already realizes this, as I have hopefully passed this way of thinking on to her.  I wish you well, and I’ll be back around these parts more often very soon, I’m sure.  Be happy, and take some time to chuckle, okay?

http://slocbtcenter.com/contactoffice-location.html

http://www.cta.org/~/media/Documents/PDFs/Prof%20Dev%20Pub%20PDFs/quickGuide504pdf.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130404T1222182301

Stained Glass

It's beautiful.

We were discussing how I felt about the worship team I was leading, years ago, at my old church in Southern Cali.  My pastor at the time said this, “Kasey, this is why you wouldn’t make a very good boss.” I asked, “What?  Why?  What do you mean?”  He clarified, “Well, all you want to see is the good in everyone, and that is a great trait to have, but…”  He was referring to a member of the band that wasn’t quite holding his own-in fact, many times, he’d leave the worship team in a lurch on Sunday morning with last minute “can’t make-its”.  It was tough, and I knew it was tough, but I chose to accept the situation because I felt in the long run it was worth showing this boy love rather than telling him he couldn’t play anymore.  Not to mention, for the many times he bailed on us he also bailed us out.  “…but, sometimes you have to see the writing on the wall.”

I’ve often thought about that pastor’s comments to me…Did I look at things with rose-colored glasses?  Did I choose to look beyond what was in front of my face, the tip of my nose, into a blue sky with no clouds? How many choices in my life did I make because I thought the other person would change, or the situation would improve, or the weatherman’s prediction was wrong?  And, how many of those decisions, albeit many leading to sorrow, ended up okay or downright awesome?  Hmmmm, well, I’m not going to analyze my MaryTylerMooreness to death.  I’m just not.  I’ve lived in Pessimism, Sarcasm, and Apathy before, and those towns stink.  Therefore, I prefer living in Hope where each day begins anew.

Two weekends ago the church I attended when I moved to the Central Coast held its final service–a beautiful sanctuary fifty years of age with a church history dating back 136 years.  Stained glass windows blanket the entire face of the building telling the story of the beginning of time to Jesus’ death-each scene intricately designed and placed so that a passer-by doesn’t need a Bible to receive the message.  The message I cling to even though life often makes no sense.

The reasons for the closure at this point are immaterial.  What’s done is done.  I had already begun my journey to find a new spiritual home months ago when Maycee changed schools.  As I arrived at the church to play what would be my final worship set in this location, 150-200 visitors filling the sanctuary to say good-bye, share old stories, and put in bids to attend “their” places of worship, my drummer asked, “Did you see the windows?”  I replied, “No.  What about them, where?”  “Ah, man, someone vandalized the church and broke out a bunch of the stained glass.”

I quickly walked to the front of the narthex and saw the damage.  How did I miss it when I walked in?  How?  Was I wearing my rose-colored glasses this day?  There it was, in plain sight.  Damage.  Broken pieces of blue, green, red, and yellow speckled on the floor.  The wrought iron bars in between bent, and one whole pane in the front door knocked out (this is visible in the picture above on the right).  The church’s last day. Who would do this?  The vandals apparently weren’t finished as more wreckage was found later the following week after the church was officially closed.  Again, my drummer called to see if there was anything I wanted out of the sanctuary-they were removing as much as possible in case whoever was doing this decided they also wanted to steal the church’s property.  T- eluded that he thought a member of the church might be responsible.  I cried out, “No! There’s no way someone from OUR congregation would do something like this.  Who?  There’s NO WAY.”

Of course, there is A WAY.   Despite what my pastor said to me all those years ago, I do see clearly, eventually.   Luckily, it’s not up to me to determine the “who” or the “why”.  I know, however, that it takes a lot more than broken stained glass to break a believer’s spirit.  What remains is still beautiful.  And, even in the wake of something that has made my heart feel so heavy and sad, I also see Hope–all the way through my rose-colored glasses beyond the tip of my nose to the blue sky.

-Photo courtesy of Santamariatimes.com.

Good Morning, Kasey

Every day is a winding road.  I get a little bit closer.*

Monday.  Monday morning.  Some Mondays I’m rollicking with energy after a somewhat decent sleep or sleeps from the weekend.  Other Mondays are simply: Monday.  Like today.  I seemed to be running a marathon all night in my head, dreaming of this person and that person, feeling emotions that I cannot put into words but you know the ones, hidden Freudian thoughts popping out here, there, and everywhere.  This, intermingled with two trips to my backyard in the ohsodark hours so that my poor dog, Percy, who is having an increasingly difficult time with pottying, could relieve himself. (I just found out a week ago that he more than likely has a disease called “Cushings Disease”, and this is one of the symptoms-bugger.)  Then, waking at my usual 5:00AM to feed both pups (Percy the Grandpa, Louisy the Grandma), get coffee ready, make Maycee’s lunch, then head back to bed for what feels like two minutes but is really a full hour of additional sleep before my alarm goes off at 6:30.  Whew.  Nope, the energy wasn’t flowin’ this morning.

However, I had a particularly neato day to look forward to: I was meeting with the pastor from the local church that I plan to check out once Maycee begins school here in town.  I’ve known Pastor A. for over a year.  I visited  his church quite a few instances prior thinking I was ready to leave where I’m at now.  Hmmmmm, but in typical Kasey fashion….”…nnnnooooooo, you can’t make me…..nooooooooooo……God……nooooooooooo…….I’m not ready yet….. nooooooooo!” I changed my mind and decided that since Maycee was still going to school in the same city as my home church, we’d stay put.  The congregation had been there for me during that horrific period during which I had to literally rebuild my entire life from dishes and water hoses up to being able to make it through a day without feeling like killing myself.  The man I mentioned in earlier blogs whom I sold my former life and livelyhood and moved up to the Central Coast to be with who ultimately put us through hell in the household.  This is the church family that had my back, as we don’t tend to think perhaps the righteous  can; they made sure this person would not bother me or my daughter, gave me advice, helped me get what few belongings I could out of the said household.  You name it, they did it.  They didn’t hold back their own emotions towards this person, either-right or wrong-and I didn’t have to suppress mine. If I had any slight remaining doubt or lingering thoughts about “religious intentions”,  my church put those to rest.  I wasn’t ready to leave them, not then.

Today, I met with Pastor A.  He is a jovial dude.  And, yes, he is a dude.  A young man, married, with two sons, and he is real.  REAL.  No B.S. but all pastor.  He wears blue jeans, hooded sweatshirts, and sandals (no socks).  He drives what could be construed as an archaic Mercedes Benz wagon; he confessed, over 300,000 miles on it.  The engergizer bunnies of vehicles.   I connected with him a year ago, and I connected with him today.  I told him my latest story, the reasons why I believe it is now time for Maycee and I to “move into the neighborhood”.  He will be there for us, and so will the new church. He has some ideas, too, of how I can bridge the gap between our two places of worship so that I don’t have to leave my church behind completely.   He even has a “surrogate” grandma and grandpa in mind to meet Maycee and me who live right here in our mobile home park, along with two other families.  Right here. Fabulous.  We had fun catching up over burros-hey, talk to the restaurant owner, that’s how they were listed on the menu! A little over an hour later, while heading back to work, I felt calm. I felt some more peace settling in my soul.  Change.  It’s a word I tend to grapple with and wear in  “Kasey” fashion often, but this change, it feels right.  Like the dots are FINALLY connecting.  

Back at my office, I get in and sit down to my computer.  I open my email.  Nothing different, nothing out-of-the-ordinary.  Wait.  Yes, there is something….an email…written at 6:20AM… from R.M. (the MAN referenced in paragraph two).  It reads, and I give you a direct copy:  

Message line: “update”…then…
 
good morning kasey
wondering about kc life policy, am about 1 year smoke free
thank you
 
Good morning kasey.  Good morning kasey.  Good morning kasey.  As if there were pleasantries to exchange after two and a half years of silence.  As if I WANTED to still be his life insurance agent.  As if I cared that he was “smoke free”.  As if he didn’t tear apart my life, cause my daughter months of pain and acting out, but oh, excuse me,  would you mind….I told you I was getting help, but oops, forgot to mention I had moved on to someone else while you and Maycee were struggling in a ghetto apartment,  while I used your furniture and ate from your dishes and made coffee in your coffee pot, oh, and by the way, could you help me reduce the rate on my policy?  And, best of all, “thank you”, as if I was actually going to get back to him!  Does anybody else find this the least bit ironic after my morning of peace had prevailed?  Me, me, me, me, I do, I do! To say I was stunned would, of course, be the most understated of understatements.  Two and a half years later.  Wow.  I don’t hate R.M., I have forgiven R.M., but I have not FORGOTTEN anything about him.
 
Well, yes, it was a good morning.  I plan to delete the ludicrous email. It is a complete and total freedom to use the “Delete” button.  At least something in life is that simple.  R.M. will maybe or maybe not figure out that I in no way, no how intend to service his account.  After all, if his elevator went all the way to the top floor he would not have emailed me, end of story (and I guess a bit less exciting of a blog post, at that).   I am grateful that as  a SWM I only have to sell insurance sporadically to boost my income, and that while I live frugally, I do not feel the need to “sell” myself or my soul just to make a buck.  With the changes coming down the pike, I plan to be floating further and further away from what brought me to this place, not in physical miles, but in metaphorical ones.  Moving into the neighborhood. We’ve lived in our yellow submarine for almost two years now, but we are finally going to be moving in.  The timing is right.   And, as Pastor A. said to me as I was telling him I couldn’t believe how some people just seemed to be able to lie so easily and how much it bothered me, Pastor A. said this, “Yes, you do, Kasey.  Think about how much you lie to yourself. All the time.  We do it all the time.”  We do it all the time.  Speechless I was;  it made me want to try a different “Kasey” fashion on for size: one that didn’t involve holding on for dear life, but rather letting go and letting God. A lesson I’ve learned but find diffucult to put into practice.
 
You’re welcome.
 
Every day is a faded sign.  I get a little bit closer to feelin’ fine.*
 
Now, have a great Tuesday, be happy, and give a chuckle.
 
*Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian Macleod